Thursday, April 30, 2015

Gordon Snider, Author

Residing in California USA, Gordon Snider is an experienced novelist, writing both fiction and nonfiction. A world traveler, his current book release, The Hypnotist, is a riveting thriller that takes place in the 1900’s.

Welcome Gordon!

Your book cover is creepy and enticing at the same time!  A great cover! 
Every time I do a book signing, people are drawn to that cover.  They often pick it up first.

Who is the Hypnotist?
A very evil man who preys on young women from the rat plagued streets of the tenements.  He hypnotizes them and delivers them to the tongs, vicious gangs who run the brothels and opium dens in Chinatown.  The young women are forced into servitude in the brothels.

What drew you to San Francisco, 1906?
I have always been drawn to San Francisco.  In fact, I lived in the Bay Area for 20 years.  I thought it would be the perfect setting for my novel, but I had a problem.  I had just finished a novel, The Separatist, that took place in the city during the modern era, and I did not want repeat the same setting. Then I thought about 1906.  It was such a colorful period in San Francisco's history, with the newly minted millionaires, the desperately poor who lived in the tenements south of Market Street, the murky warren of endless alleyways in Chinatown, and, of course, the great earthquake and fire.  When I started writing the novel, I found it to be the perfect setting.

Did you do a lot of research about the earthquake and fire?
Our local library had many books filled with first-hand accounts of great the earthquake and fire. I spent hours pouring over them and found the descriptions mesmerizing.  They made the events seem more real in a way ordinary descriptions could not, and they brought my story to life.

Who is your favorite character?
That has to be my protagonist, Marta.  She is a feisty young woman who faces many challenges and hurdles and confronts them with a courage and determination not found in many women of that era. In my previous two novels, my heroines are not nearly so sure of themselves but developed inner resolve and confidence as the novels proceeded.  In the Hypnotist, Marta shows her spirit from page one to the end of the story.

Please share an excerpt from The Hypnotist
“There it was again.  The sound of feet clambering over shattered wood. The sound came closer.  Boards were pushed aside. The light above her head grew brighter. Before she could call again, hands appeared and ripped at the mass of splintered wood that held her captive. The smoke was visible now, thick gray smoke that nearly choked her when she breathed. There was little time.  The hands were working rapidly. She felt a shift in the weight on top of her.  Suddenly, it was gone! Her arms and legs were free, and someone's arms were reaching around her and pulling her from her tomb. 

She gasped with relief as the arms pulled her to her feet. A wall of flame less than a block away nearly blinded her with its fierce orange-yellow glow, and for a moment she couldn't see her rescuer. The heat from the flames pushed the cold air aside and quickly produced a film of sweat on her face and arms. They couldn't stay there much longer, but the rope chafing her skin prevented her from moving. He swiftly untied the knots that bound her. How deftly his fingers worked. How familiar they seemed. Once her hands and feet were free, she spun around to face her rescuer. He had moved so she could see him clearly. She found herself staring into the deep-set eyes of the hypnotist! She rubbed her painful wrists and looked at him in amazement. He was alive and had just rescued her from a horrible fate. For a heartbeat, gratefulness overcame anger; relief overwhelmed rage. She stared at his face with a mixture of happiness to be alive and fury for the terrible things he had done. 

She saw by the way that he tried to focus his eyes on hers that he wanted to hypnotize her, but he couldn't hold his gaze. His eyes darted across her face with the capriciousness of a restless bird. They would settle on hers, then fly off, return and then flit away again. Flashes of pleasure streaked through her body each time he succeeded in arresting his wayward gaze, but the desire to be with him quickly dissipated when he glanced away. He had been undone by the earthquake, and for a while, at least, rendered powerless. Marta's relief at being rescued subsided as anger gained the upper hand. He hadn't come for her because he was concerned about her life. He wanted to enslave her and have her do his will. The realization made her more determined to escape. 

The flames were moving rapidly towards them as they stood facing each other. The hypnotist finally managed to bring his rebellious eyes under control, but their potency remained weak. Marta refused to be deterred by his gaze. She stared into those fearful eyes defiantly, until they blinked and scurried away. Precious sends remained for them to flee the impending fire storm, yet neither moved. The hypnotist was still trying to bend her to his will, and she refused to let him do so. It was a standoff that would consume them both if they didn't end their silent confrontation. A small clocked ticked in the back of Marta's head. It told her she was out of time. Her arms were already singed and her clothes heated to the point of combustion. She had to flee now or perish, yet her feet refused to move.”

Is your story line based upon your own life experiences?
No, my stories are based in settings I know well, either from first-hand experience or research.  I often include scenes, character traits or subplots based on incidents from my life, but not on life experiences.

Describe your writing/editing style and routine...
I write a novel at least five times.  The initial draft is very rough, sort of a skeleton of the story to come.  Each succeeding daft builds on the previous one as I flesh out characters, add new ones or eliminate ones that do not add enough to the story.  Generally, I start with a pretty good idea of the underlying plot, but not much more than an outline. As I proceed, characters grow and change. They often surprise me as they evolve. And the plot takes on new twists in turns for which I did not plan. Serious editing begins about the fourth writing, although I have already done considerable editing in the precious drafts. When I am working on a novel, I usually write several hours a day, not because I have a forced routine. Rather, it is because I can hardly wait to get back on my computer and see what my characters are going to do next!

When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
In my early twenties.  However, I limited those earlier years to magazine articles and a couple of business books.  I did not have the time or patience to write novels.  All that changed when I made two trips into Tibet and decided to write a novel about a woman who undertook great hardships in order to help the Tibetans overcome the crushing weight of China's rule. Dianne [Helm] loved the novel (Sigouney's Quest) and so did book clubs.  More to the point, I discovered a love for novel writing and that is mostly what I have done for the past dozen years.

Who is your favorite author?  
Joyce Carol Oates and Gore Vidal.  Both have tackled their subject manner with biting writing styles and approached their subjects from different angles than most other writers.

What are you currently writing?
I am not writing anything at the moment, but I have begun to outline some ideas.

What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. It is a non-fiction account of a serial killer operating during the building and running of the world's fair in Chicago.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
Get your ideas down on paper (or computer), no matter how rough they might be. Don't try to create a work of art in you first draft. There will be plenty of time to develop the characters and plot and to be a wordsmith as you proceed.  But do not undertake the challenge of a full novel unless you are prepared to rewrite, edit and rewrite and edit, etc.  Sometimes it is better to hone your initial skills on short stories.  They are easier to get published and they can help you learn about dialogue, character development, underlying plots and sub-plots, etc.  

Connect with Gordon…

Thursday, April 23, 2015

S M Spencer, Author & Equestrian

S M Spencer was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a young teenager her mother introduced her to the world of romantic suspense by encouraging her to read the works of authors such as Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart. These books stirred a passion in her that would last a lifetime—to become a writer.

Feeling the need to experience life before embarking on a writing career, Ms Spencer completed a business degree. Her career eventually landed her in Melbourne, Australia, where she has lived ever since. Yet her true passion to be a writer never abated. Spencer now writes from her home in the outskirts of Melbourne, where she lives with her husband, horses, cats and dogs.  

SM Spencer is the author of the Absent Shadows Trilogy, a captivating series about a young girl from California who visits her aunt in Australia for a summer holiday – and finds herself caught up in a world of vampires and ghosts!  The first book in the trilogy, Destiny, has been awarded an IndieBRAG medallion!

Welcome S M!

Besides being a world-class writer, you are a rider! I love your beautiful horses…
When my husband and I were looking at horse properties, we thought 20 acres was way too much land to look after. We wanted 10 acres, but settled for 6 when we fell in love with a house in an area we really liked. I had two horses, so 6 acres would be fine.

We moved in with our two horses, and a friends’ horse. Twelve months later, she took her horse and I was left with just my two. The gelding pined for the mare that left, but after a couple of days he seemed to settle ... sort of. He was fine when my husband and I rode together, however, it was pretty terrible when I rode out without him. He would stress terribly and I’d come back to find he’d had more of a workout than the mare I was riding.

As time passed, one of his knees starting becoming more painful (arthritis) and it looks like he’ll be retired from riding. With his dodgy knee, me riding my mare became a double whammy of guilt—both with respect to his mental state, and in addition to that, the stress being put on his knee with all the running back and forth.  So, I had to get a third horse!  A companion for him, so that I can ride the mare.

Given that the whole point of getting a third horse was to keep him happy, we decided to adopt a rescue horse—one that can’t be ridden and is seriously just a companion. This has worked very well, as the two boys say goodbye with a little whinny, but don’t seem to stress too much about us going.

So, the lesson to be learned for my next life (and one your readers might like to think about when they start looking for a property) is that horses like to be in herds. My gelding had always lived in a herd environment, and to put him on a small property with just one other horse, was a mistake. In retrospect, it is obvious—but at the time I just didn’t see it.

What is the premise for your book Destiny?
Destiny is the story of a young woman—Lili—who is unsure what she wants to do with her life. She’s finished high school, and completed her first year of university but she isn’t convinced that what she’s majoring in is what she really wants to do. And she’s also just recently broken up with her high school boyfriend. So … she goes to Australia to visit an aunt, and think about her future. Not long after arriving she gets the chance to really think about her future when she finds herself in the middle of a supernatural world that she wouldn’t have believed existed if she hadn’t seen if for herself. It’s a story about learning to listen to and trust your intuition. Not everyone’s path is the same … Lili just had to find hers.

Your story takes place in Australia. What research did you compile about the area and the landscape for your story line?
I live in Melbourne, and have done for over 30 years now. I was working around the corner from the Queen Victoria Markets, up near the Flagstaff Gardens. Walking around at lunchtime, I started sensing that I was smack dab in the middle of the perfect setting for ghosts and vampires. But to give it credibility, I did do some research on the market, and the old cemetery that is under the car park … it’s an eerie location for sure.

Who is your favorite character in the Trilogy?
I love all my characters, but I think I like Crystal the best. She is caring, and beautiful, and gentle and all things feminine. But at the same time, she is strong and powerful, and not to be messed with. She is Aphrodite and Athena wrapped up in one awesome little package.

Do you write from your own personal experiences?
To some extent, I think everyone that expresses themselves whether it be through writing or some other art form, does so based on their own personal experiences. These experiences may be things they’ve done, or things they’ve seen or read about or watched or even just experienced in a dream. But with my main character, Lili, it was easy to write her as a young California girl arriving in Melbourne and trying to fit in because that’s what I did. I don’t say her personality is entirely like mine, but some of her experiences were definitely things I’d done.

Can you share an excerpt...
Sometimes, when something bad happens, time seems to slow to a crawl.
Like that time I was running to visit my friend who lived down the street. I was only about ten at the time, but it seemed like it was yesterday. I remember exactly how it felt as I ran down that street toward her house. And how, when I was only part way there, I stepped on an acorn and my foot rolled out from under me. As I fell, the pavement got closer and closer to my face—in horrible slow-motion. I hit the ground with my hands stretched out in front of me, scraping the skin off both palms. They barely bled but man they hurt like crazy.
Yes, I could replay that memory like a slow-motion movie in my head even now—years later.
But this … well, this wasn’t like that.
What happened next was like a series of still photos. Tom flew out of the bedroom in a blur, but stopped just long enough for the image of his face to be burnt into my mind. His eyes were no longer soft brown, but were instead a glowing red, and his normally tanned complexion was now pallid grey. But what really stood out was the blood that ran down from the corner of his mouth.
Then I heard Sam’s voice—loud and harsh. ‘Go!’
Tom was gone and I heard the door slam.
I closed my eyes for no more than a long blink—it couldn’t have been more than a second—but when I opened them, Sam was in the bedroom, bending over Claire. Was he doing something to her neck? She was so still.
I ran to the doorway but stopped short of going in. I couldn’t draw a breath to scream or talk. I just stood there, frozen.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading a book called Shark Bait, by Jenn Cooksey- and I’m LOVING it!

Who is your favorite vampire author?
Bram Stoker – the classic Dracula.

Do you have a favorite vampire movie/script?
The classic Bram Stoker’s Dracula, because I loved both Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder in that film. But I also liked the first Twilight movie—the soundtrack was awesome and Robert Pattinson had lots of charisma.

Why do you think our culture finds vampires so intriguing?
Mostly, I think it’s a bit of that beauty and the beast thing—seeing through the horrible exterior to the goodness that dwells deep inside. You have this hero who is handsome and charming, but also deadly, dark and powerful. And the heroine sees all sides of him and falls in love with him anyway. And of course, she tames the beast!

Do you believe vampires truly exist?
I believe there are a lot of things we don’t understand in this world, and this may be one of them. But then again, personally, I’m more inclined to believe in ghosts than vampires.

Connect with S M…

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Brian Michael Good, Author

Author Brian Michael Good is a self-made man. He has lived a life buffeted by character-altering hurricanes. His life storms began in his trauma-filled childhood within his dysfunctional family. He survived childhood verbal, physical, and sexual abuse; the death of two siblings; the stigma of being homeless - not once, but three times; two bankruptcies; a six-pound cancer that was doubling every two months; a near-fatal suicide attempt in 2003; the death of his best friend; three divorces; and the rejection of his only daughter.

How can one man encounter so many hurricanes, survive them, learn from them, and then strive to make the world a better place? This was the question Brian asked himself that led to his book release Never Surrender Your Soul.

Welcome Brian!

What is the premise for your new book Never Surrender Your Soul?
In my book, I talk about Weshemehe (We-she-me-he), my own English name for God. God is omnipresent, a part of every atom in the universe. Therefore, God does not have a gender.

The Big Bang was initiated by Weshemehe in order to create the universe and share life with all of us. Weshemehe, being omnipresent, is part of the reason why Weshemehe can control anything at any moment, and how you can have a personal relationship with Weshemehe.

I also conclude that a dark woman was created first, in Africa, substantiated by logic, science, reason, and faith. Acceptance of The Book of Genesis’ creation story slows the progression of equality of the sexes.

I also suggest that you deprogram yourself of all types of “mind control”: religious, philosophical, and ideological. Mind control decays your ability to pursue and discover the truth. Rather than listen to a person with a louder voice, listen to your own inner voice.

Please define what it means to surrender your soul
You can give up your soul – your very essence – to a painful and unsatisfying existence in your present life if you suffer from mental illness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, addictions, or simply have a lack of peace or sense of direction. You may also surrender your soul if you give up on your passion or not form stable and enduring relationships, education, hard work, and sacrifice, which are all necessary components to a plan to meet your destiny.

I further explain this topic in my book:
“At some point in your life, you may wonder if your soul is hanging by a thread. This thread is the conduit in which your belief system flows, defining your human spirit and binding to the fabric of your soul. Religious, philosophical, and ideological fibers are spun into a single strand, giving strength to your beliefs. It is this thread’s strength that allows you to be broad-minded and even-handed. Be aware that you may be surrendering your soul in your judgment or treatment of others.”

In your opinion, what happens to our soul at death? 
I don’t know for certain what becomes of our soul at death except for Weshemehe’s (God’s) judgement. We will all be accountable for how we lived our life. In my book, I explain that the best defense against surrendering our soul is our choice of a belief system.

I believe in Weshemehe (God) and spiritual life after death one hundred percent. Do not expect to use the tenets of your Bible of Faith as the basis for your argument to escape Weshemehe’s judgment, because, just like money, you cannot bring the tenets of your Bible of Faith with you
into the afterlife.

Are your views Bible-based (or another religion)? If not, what are the foundations for your beliefs?
I was born and raised a Catholic; years later I became a born-again Christian. As I wrote my book and studied some of the four thousand religions of the world, I became spiritual and I now follow the twelve “Pearls of Spirituality” that are found in my book.

Having said that, three major religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – all worship the same God but interpret God’s message differently, because each Bible of Faith represents its own cultural identity. This is true with every religion.

Do you believe in reincarnation and karma?
Reincarnation is a possibility. Even if one could prove reincarnation to be true, each reincarnated life would most likely get substantially harder – especially if you kill, die by suicide, steal, or take someone’s freewill. If you screwed up in your lifetime and surrendered your soul in your present life, you have until your last breath to meet your true destiny, which must be met without greed or thirst for money; it must be unselfish and spiritual in nature. Only then will Weshemehe consider giving you a second chance.

Who are your niche readers, and who do you recommend should read your book?
Never Surrender Your Soul is a personal/spiritual-growth book that speaks of finding your destiny, spirituality, God, religious texts, and discusses reincarnation, health, family, parenting, work, and life struggles; it also deciphers the truth about these personal-growth subjects. If you are interested in any of these topics, or want to get self-help, embrace positive thinking, live a happier life, or find your destiny, my book is for you.

What are you currently writing?
I recently decided to publish a second book about organic and natural skincare. As an ecommerce entrepreneur, I have sold organic and natural skincare for 14 years and I have earned excellent testimonials during this time. I have written many articles from my expertise and placed these on my website. I have more than enough material for a book.

What are you currently reading?
I recently read Smoking is Dangerous! Transform Your Life Now! by Jerri Aubry, M.S. This book helps you to find ways to deal with the stress that is caused by smoking triggers and cravings by changing how you associate smoking with your daily rituals. It includes a well-researched smoking cessation program that provides a number of ways, options, activities, and reasons to motivate you to quit smoking. I definitely recommend this book if you want to quit smoking for the final time.

Who is your favorite author?
I am my favorite author. I usually spend ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week writing, and I never complain.

Do you have any advice for novice writers?
Write a book for the right reasons, purpose, and for your enjoyment. I wrote Never Surrender Your Soul to help other people. I found out after the book was published that in writing the book I had saved myself.

List 10 things your fans may not know about you…
1. I have made many mistakes in my life. I have failed over and over again. But I keep getting up.
2. I would not have been born if my mother hadn’t had a miscarriage.
3. I was born into a family of ten, and we went camping on every vacation.
4. My front tooth was knocked out playing ice hockey in the back yard.
5. I was the head of the University of Massachusetts, Boston Skydiving Club, and during my twenties, I had four parachute malfunctions.
6. I am a cancer survivor.
7. I paid for my college and living expenses while in college, and I paid back my student loans one hundred percent.
8. I tutored eight of my core courses at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Economics, having passed my writing proficiency exam on the third attempt, which was required to earn my degree.
9. On October 23, 2003, I took enough pills to kill an elephant, and when I was found – thirteen and a half hours after I attempted suicide – I was a half-hour from death. After my suicide attempt, I wanted to live.
10. I am blessed. I am a survivor. I now respect the gift that Weshemehe has given all of us: life.

I am very grateful to be alive.

Connect with Brian…

Follow Brian’s Blog Tour … 
April 21, 2015: Riding & Writing
April 21, 2015: Deal Sharing Aunt
April 24, 2015: Read, Learn and Shine
April 24, 2015: IMPACT Books & Art
April 25, 2015: My Life. One Story at a Time.
April 25, 2015: Triptasy

Never Surrender Your Soul is a synopsis of Brian Michael Good’s life struggles and triumphs, meant to encourage struggling individuals make sense of the world and find hope to live a meaningful life. The book explains how the author was able to rise from the ashes of defeat to live a successful and rewarding life and feel peace and contentment. Brian's spiritual and lifestyle insights provide the truth and inspiration individuals need for creating significant life changes. The title reflects the heart of the book, as the author beseeches the reader to consider areas of life that can weigh them down, such as hardship, fear, and depression, which can drive them to give up their soul – their very ticket to the afterlife. Decide to keep your ticket to the afterlife by never surrendering your soul. This book will show you how!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

J.A. Cipriano, Author

J.A. Cipriano is an awesome writer. His new novel May Contain Spies is available worldwide. Cipriano has a knack for writing intriguing story lines that keep you on the edge of your seat! I am excited to host Cipriano in his current blog tour.

Welcome J.A. Cipriano!

What is the premise for May Contain Spies?
May Contain Spies is about a sixteen year old girl named Abby. She is a normal teenage girl. Except, well, the world she’s grown up believing is all one big lie. Basically, Abby finds out that she’s been kidnapped by the government and has been held hostage for pretty much her whole life.

Her mother wants her back, but only because she’s dying and needs Abby’s organs to survive. The story is about Abby and her bodacious beau Stephen trying to outwit her mother.

Where does the storyline take place?
At the bottom of the ocean. On a submarine. In a high school. In another submarine. In a fancy French clothing store. You name it, it’s probably in there.

Are your characters based upon your own life experiences?
Sort of but not really. It’d be sort of a lie to say I made them all up, but I did. I was just watching television and reading and was like I bet I could write something like this. So I did.

Actually, no, Lisa Ann was loosely based on this guy I knew in High school. Also the grape juice thing? Totally happened. Oh and the teachers are all real.

Who is your favorite character in May Contain Spies?
I’m particularly fond of Marco. I really enjoyed writing the scene where he throws trash cans at Chloe.

Can you share an excerpt...
I can do you one better. I can give you the first 800 words of the sequel, The Spy Within, How does that sound? Oh and it’s unedited, that’s either a double bonus or like half-a bonus. I’m not sure.

An excerpt from The Spy Within by  J.A. Cipriano
The lights flickered, and I swung around, glancing toward the door of Ye Olde Kwik E Mart. There was no one else in here but the clerk. Still, the lights had given me the creeps. I’d been running for the better part of a week, and this was the first time I’d ventured into a place inhabited by, you know, people. Not that the clerk really counted as people.
The lights flickered again and my muscles tensed. I scanned the aisles one last time. Man, my nerves were really on edge. “Get a grip, Abby,” I whispered, turning back toward the glass door in front of me and pulling it open. I reached in and grabbed a jug of orange juice. Why? Because Stephen still wasn’t feeling well, and orange juice was supposed to help with infections, right? Or was that just colds?
I let out a slow breath, and nearly leapt out of my skin when the clerk’s cellphone rang to the tune of Mandy by Barry Manilow. Well, that was certainly an odd tune for a freckled, red-haired teenager. Then again, my old cellphone hadn’t been cool enough to ring to a song. I took another breath and made my way down the aisle, piling all sorts of junk food into my cloth bag. I didn’t want to risk using one of their baskets, it could have nano-machines embedded in the plastic that could track my location. Yeah, that was a thing.
Apparently when you steal helicopters from the government, they track you down. No. Matter. What.
I turned back to the clerk as he put his phone down, green eyes strangely glassy. He wasn’t very tall, maybe five foot eight and built like a beanpole. I reached out to grab a candybar still not taking my eyes off of him. He reached out, though I’m not sure what he was going to grab because I dropped my bag and sprinted back down the aisle.
Which was dumb because the exit was in the opposite direction. I guess I should have charged him, but my first instinct was to create as much distance as possible and to find cover. The lights flickered again, only this time when they came back on every fluorescent bulb in the ceiling shattered. A spray of glass fell down around me as I dropped to the floor, covering my head and neck with my hands so that, hopefully, I wouldn’t be cut to ribbons.
There was a crash behind me as the refrigerators that held beer and whatever else exploded in a blue fireball of flame and arcing electricity. I threw myself backward, landing hard on my shoulders and rolling to my feet facing the busted freezers as acrid black smoke filled the air and pooled against the ceiling. I canned the area, and seeing no one, I spun just in time to see the clerk’s shotgun fill my vision.
I dropped as the gun went off, the sound reducing my hearing to a tiny pinprick of sound. Buckshot pinged off the back wall as my left elbow shot out, smashing into the twerp’s knee. Only he didn’t budge, didn’t even act like it hurt. Instead, he cocked the gun and moved to point it at me. I popped to my feet, using the forced to drive my shoulder into his wrists.
The gun fired again, tearing a hole in the ceiling above out head as I slammed my forehead down into the clerk’s nose.
His head whipped back in a spray of blood, but he didn’t lose his hand on the gun. Hell, he didn’t even wobble, at least not like everything inside me told me he should have. The gun whipped out, so fast that I barely had time to dodge it. The super-heated metal skimmed by me so close that I could feel the warmth of it on my skin.
“Abigail Banks,” the clerk said in a voice that seemed too robotic to be human. “You must turn yourself in.”
“Not happening, Beanpole,” I said, taking the opportunity to drive my foot into his chest. The blow seemed to catch him off guard.
He fell backward, smashing a Chester the Cheetah display and spilling cheesy goodness all over. I leapt over him, hitting the floor hard just a few inches past his head and scooped up my treat-filled bag. Okay, yeah it was stealing, but he had just tried to kill me. Some free candy was the least of his problems.
I spun at the end of the aisle, my feet skidding on the cheap linoleum as I crashed into the glass doors. They weren’t opening. Why weren’t they opening? I barely had the time to contemplate it when the ominous sound of a shotgun cocking another shell into place filled my ears.

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
Slowly. I write outlines. Then I sit down and write and have to rewrite my outlines. They aren’t terribly detailed. Here, I’ll share some with you.

Chapter 1
o Abby gives Stephen a coke at work
Chapter 2
o Abby and Lisa talk about Stephen on phone
Chapter 3
o Lisa and Abby in class

See, it’s incredibly interesting. I also listen to the same song/album over and over so my brain goes into a weird zen mode.

Describe your writing studio...
Directly in front of me there’s a computer screen. On one side there is a statue of a platypus in a superman costume and on the other a surfing rabbit. I also have a lava lamp and a Chris Jericho Liontamer action figure.

My desk is covered with notes for a novel I won’t be writing for at least two months and an empty water glass. I have a clock, but it’s stuck on 4:45, and I haven’t changed the batteries in a few months. There’s also a poster of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the wall from season 5. It’s autographed by the whole cast, including Joss Whedon. The other wall is filled with bookshelves and pictures of Star Trek people, also signed. There’d be more, but I ran out of frames a few years ago.

The walls are sea foam green and they very in shade as you circle the room. In the back, there’s about a million comic books, some rare, most not.

Who is your favorite author?
I’d have to say it is a tossup between Jim Butcher and John Scalzi. I really enjoy both of their work. The problem with Scalzi is that all his main characters are pretty much the same guy. I don’t know how much I like that guy because he reminds me of Wil Wheton.

As far as Jim Butcher? I like Dresden a lot, and even have a couple of his books signed. After reading the Dresden Files, however many there were in 2007, I wrote my first Lillim Callina novel, Kill it with Magic. I’ve even met him a couple times, and he seems like a nice guy. I also really enjoyed his Spider-man novel.

What are you currently writing?
I am currently writing a spin off to the fifth Lillim Novel. The book is called Under Wraps, and it is about a werewolf named Thes who gets sent back in time to Ancient Egypt to stop an evil mummy from taking over.

What are you currently reading?
I actually am not reading anything because I just finished the book I was reading yesterday. It was called Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and was one of the best books I have ever read. I did go to the library today though. I picked up The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett and Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson.

I am currently listening to The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. I hadn’t meant to listen to it, but my wife asked me to request As I lay Dying, and I got the wrong one. Rather than return it, I decided to listen to it.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
Keep writing. Everything you write will suck a little less than the thing before it. I often look back at things I wrote before thinking they were awesome and it makes me sad to read how bad they are.

If you find you’re getting stuck, try writing a simple outline like the one I did above. You may find it helps you.

Find music or background noise that makes your brain shut off. If what is on in the background is making you look up or pay attention to it, find something else.

Also, develop thick skin. The original beta reader for May Contain Spies hated the book so much that she asked me why I had even bothered to write it. It’s been my best received book by far. So there’s that.

List 10 things your fans may not know about you...
10. I really like Nickelback.
9. I saw the Ramones in concert when they opened for Metallica.
8. Dean Koontz and Stan Lee signed my cast when I broke my arm in seventh grade.
7. I’ve won several awards at Orange County fair (California) for flower arrangements.
6. I’ve owned not one but two hedgehogs. The first was named Georgie. The second was named Mallory.
5. I have two college degrees. One in Chemistry and one in Business Administration. One of them is a masters.
4. I wrote my first novel in ninth grade.
3. My step-brother is a professional baseball player. He plays for the Angels.
2. My wife is at least twice as good at writing as I am.
1. I’m secretly working on a sweet romance that takes place in Minnesota between an ex-navy seal and a librarian.

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J.A. Cipriano Bio:
When J. A. Cipriano was in second, grade his teacher gave everyone in class a journal to write down whatever they wanted. Their first subject was to write about something they didn’t like. J. A. chose to write about why he didn’t like writing. His reasoning was simple. He had bad handwriting. Even then he was destined to be an engineer due to his messy scrawl.
Unfortunately, he found through the course of this little adventure that he actually liked writing. That year was sort of the high point for his writing career because he won a writing contest for the state. He got to go to a big dinner and his teacher was all dressed up. He kept writing little stories, year after year, and in sixth grade, won another contest. In seventh grade he broke his arm and got the cast signed by both Dean Koontz and Stan Lee. It is, by far, the coolest cast he’s owned. That was about the time he found video games and anime. His writing turned mostly toward fanfiction until about ninth grade where he wrote his first novel, a small book about twenty thousand words called Revelations. In sophomore year, he wrote two more books to complete the trilogy because he saw Star Wars that year and learned trilogies were the cool thing to do.
Since then, he’s written six more novels, four of which are in the Lillim Callina Series, and one in the Abby Banks series. The other is stuck in a drawer for time undetermined. He’s writing his next book now which is about werewolves fighting mummies in Ancient Egypt. After that, he will move onto Abby Banks 2. The Spy Within will come out in June or July. J.A. also has three chinchillas. Two of them are grey and because of this, they are named Slate and Cadmium. The third is named Jet because he’s black, and Jet is old English for black. See, creative. He also has a cat named Turtle. This does pose problems for his two-year-old from time to time.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jan Phillips, Poetess

Welcome from Oklahoma USA Poetess Jan Phillips! Jan is the author of God Speaks, I write a poetry anthology about her relationship with God.

Do you remember writing your first poem?
I really can’t remember the first poem I ever wrote. I have been writing and reading poetry for many years because I love the rhyming of the words and they sound so musical.  I have read them many times at church and everyone enjoys them very much.  Everyone who heard me read them or read what I wrote always wanted a copy and I was encouraged by friends and family to put them in a book form.  I decided if I was going to do a book, I might as well publish it.  Since I feel that most of the poems were given to me by GOD, I think He would like for them to be seen by as many people as possible.  I am sure He would not want me to keep His words to myself.

Describe your poetry…
I think God Speaks, I write appeals to readers because it is a different sort of book.  It has a poem for everyone.  It has humor, truth, life and beauty.  The poems have a musical quality that is not often displayed in poetry.  It not only can be read, but if you are so inclined, you could sing most of them.

My book is different because I am a unique individual and each person brings something of themselves to their writing.  I also think that with God doing the speaking and me doing the writing we make a powerful team.  Not everyone has that sort of relationship and if they do, they don’t always use it for the purpose that God had in mind.  By reading this book you can tell my mind was open and the words flowed like a spring.

In your opinion, what makes a great poem?
What I really like most are the poems that rhyme.  The others don’t always make sense to me.  I think because the rhyming ones almost sound musical and I love music.

What do you write in Dear God Letters?
Writing Dear God Letters is a way for me to pray sometimes.  There is no book and the only place I keep them is my computer.  I may decide to make a book out of them someday. My main inspiration is God and all He stands for.  Sometimes people will say something that also strikes a chord and I immediately know I want to write about it.  I guess I get my inspiration and vibes from living life to the fullest.

Where do you like to write?
Usually when I get my inspiration is late at night when I can’t sleep and I go outside and look at the stars and wonder at the greatness of the world, then I come back in and write whatever comes to mind.

Who is your favorite poet?
I am not sure I have a favorite poet.  I like them all very much.

What are you currently writing?
Currently I am writing a novel.  It will be called Sharecropper’s Daughter and it’s all about growing up with nothing and ending up with something.  Still writing poetry as well.

You attend the Remington Park Church on the backside of Remington Park Race Track! Sounds horsey...
I run the Chaplain’s Clothes Closet at the Church.  We used to have racehorses at Remington and it is so great to watch the beautiful horses going by when I am there.  Never won anything.  The closest we came was 5th place one time and the friend that was co-owner of the horse had an ink pen in her hand and we got so excited that he was coming up in the race, jumping up and down and yelling and at the end of the race my friend was missing the ink pen.  We often wondered if we would see someone walking around with a pen stuck in their head.  We finally lost our trainer and our horse wasn’t doing well and so we donated him to the Baptist Boy’s Home in Edmond.  He was so tame and such a sweet thing that we figured maybe the boys would enjoy riding him.  Being in the race business is like riding a rollercoaster.  It’s all ups and downs.  When you are really up its so much fun that you forget about the down side.  I always wanted to be a trainer, but I was working at the time and didn’t think I knew enough to train a horse, but it would have been great to have been around horses all the time.

Since I work on the backside at the Closet, I get to see some of the most beautiful animals.  Prancing along like they are on top of the world.  One day I was outside watching these guys trying to unload one of the horses and one guy was at the front and the other at the back.  They couldn’t get it to come out of the trailer.  The guy on the back side tried pulling on its tail and that wouldn’t work either so I walked out to the fence and spoke to the horse and told it that no one would hurt it so to come on out of the trailer so I could see how beautiful it was.  The horse suddenly backed right out.  The guy led the horse up close to me and it kept trying to come over to me but he would not let it. Then it started throwing a fit when they tried to take its blanket off.  I told it no one would hurt it and let the take the blanket off so I could see how pretty it was and so it settled down and let them take care of business.  I don’t know if it was me talking to it, but the sound of my voice seemed to calm it.  Off it went with the guys prancing and beautiful. 

I miss having a race horse.  It was great fun.  In fact we had riding horses before that and it was great fun too.  I guess seeing them all the time is the closest I will get to owning one again.  But I still think it was one part of my life I will never forget and enjoyed it immensely.

List a few things that your fans may not know about you...
I have a good sense of humor
I have great rapport with all animals but mostly horses, dogs, and cats
I smile all the time
I love to garden
I love to cook (not gourmet)
I crochet
I love to read murder mysteries
I have been married 47 years
I have two beautiful daughters

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Jan’s Biography:
I was born in a small town in Oklahoma and grew up close by in another little town.  We lived on a farm until I was in the seventh grade in school and we had to move to town because my father was so sick.  He died when I was 16 years old and a senior in high school.  I missed him then and I still miss him and think about him a lot.  We were very poor and had very little to eat or wear.  But that’s another book being written.  We had to work hard just to survive and we did a lot of farming.  The first house I remember living in was built badly and we had to stuff newspaper in holes in the walls.  We papered the walls with any newspapers or magazines we could get.  That is how I learned to read and write at the age of five.  I started writing poetry then, it just wasn’t very good at that time.  I still love nature and all its glory and I believe living as we had to do give me a solid foundation on which to build to learn to cope with the world and people as they are today.  It instilled the love of family and God into my life.  I accepted God as my savior at 15 and started to grow as a person.  I hope some of that part of me went into the poems I have written to help others to fulfill their destiny with God as I hope I am doing.  I have no other books published.  I have written several short stories and am in the process of writing a book, but don’t know if I will publish it or not.  I still write poetry and probably always will as long as God gives me the words. 

Milliron Monday: The Recordings 4

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