Book Spotlight: A Reservoir Man by L.J. Ambrosio 

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author L.J. Ambrosio for his latest release A Reservoir Man.

A Reservoir Man

Book: A Reservoir Man
Author: L.J. Ambrosio
Publication Date
Page Count: 340
Genre: Fictional Memoir
Publisher: Film Valor


About A Reservoir Man

A Reservoir Man, critics have hailed this explosive and timely work as “a must-read coming-of-age story of 2022.” Twists and turns further pull the reader into Michael’s action-packed tale, with powerful themes, from betrayal and family to secrets and identity.

“Be sure not to blink because you just might miss a pivotal moment in Michael’s rousing, larger-than-life story.”

-R.C. Gibson, Indiestoday.

“This book is a dream, a gamble, a utopia, even.”

-Kalyan Panja, Bookmarkks.

You can find A Reservoir Man here:
Amazon | Goodreads | BookBub


About The Author

L.J. Ambrosio

Louis J. Ambrosio ran one of the most nurturing bi-coastal talent agencies in Los Angeles and New York. He started his career as a theatrical producer, running two major regional theatres for eight seasons. Ambrosio also distinguished himself as an award-winning film producer and novelist over the course of his impressive career.

You can find author Ambrosio here:
Instagram | Blog | YouTube Channel


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Reed Logan Westgate

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of The Infernal Games (Book One of the Baku Trilogy), Reed Logan Westgate, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Reed Logan Westgate was born in Sanford, Maine and attended college in Dover, New Hampshire where he studied Accounting and Finance. He currently works for a non-profit social service agency in the finance department. He married his dream girl whom he met in grade school. They have a loving family with two beautiful daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys tabletop gaming, roleplaying games, and fishing. Learn more at .

You can connect with author Reed Logan Westgate here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I was born and raised in Sanford, Maine, where I still reside today. Growing up was tough for me. I was bullied and teased relentlessly because of my weight. High school was a daily exercise in torment for me because I had very few friends and there was a plethora of mean-spirited kids. I had always wanted to be a writer and had planned on going to college for creative writing on graduation. Life didn’t really go as planned. Instead, I got my degree in accounting, settled down, and did what was expected of me. I worked decent jobs, bought a house, had two beautiful children. From all traditional measures I should have been happy. I wasn’t.

Then one day, while giving my oldest daughter a lecture about having the courage to chase her dreams instead of chasing a paycheck, she hit me with the “What about you?” It was a gut punch. Twenty years had passed since I graduated, and I had never truly given any effort to realizing my dream. In a large part, it was self-doubt. If I never tried, then I could never fail. The dream would always exist out there in the nebulous place we call “someday”. That moment was my someday, and I spent the next year working on The Infernal Games. Writing again, with purpose, was like finding that piece of me that was left behind as a child. The wonder and awe, the ability to build a world and share it—I had forgotten how much I truly enjoyed being a storyteller.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The Infernal Games is set in our world, where magic has been kept from the world at large by the Grand Enchantment: a powerful spell attributed to the Druids that creates the Mist, a dense fog that clouds the mind and conceals magic. The characters and setting imagine a world where all magic, all the gods, all the religions are real. They have just been concealed. This creates an underground society steeped in magic, from the Brother’s Three who sell information and black-market spell components in the farmer’s market to the nightclub operated by the Fae. Magic lurks everywhere in the world around us, just waiting to be discovered.

The central protagonist, Xlina, is the descendant of the Baku legend. A mythical creature from Japanese lore which consumes dreams. She is cursed to experience nightmares every night, but due to her father being a Druid her body can store nightmare energy giving her powerful magic. She struggles with isolation because of her gifts. In her darkest hour, when she is most vulnerable, a demon chooses her to be used as a weapon against a rival demon. This puts Xlina on a whirlwind collision course with all things supernatural, as she struggles to survive long enough to save her soul. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

The central theme of the series is the power of choice. With free will comes the power for each of us to choose, but for there to truly be free will, people must be allowed to make their own choices. Even if that means they make bad choices. Thus enters Oxivius, the lamia necromancer. He is a practitioner of the dark arts, a cannibal, literally everything Xlina was taught is evil in the world. He soon turns her preconceptions of good and evil on their head. Oxivius shows Xlina that despite her being marked by a demon and being condemned, the power to choose is still hers. That intent is everything. Xlina could choose to ignore her dreams and pursue a normal life. Oxivius must choose whether he is the monster everyone thinks he is or the man he knows himself to be. Even Amber comes to see that her life’s direction directly results from choosing between the role she has been expected to play and who she really is.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

This is a tough question because I feel like a proud father. I love all the characters. Each of them grows and changes. Each of them, with the help of the others, realizes their full potential. At the end of the day, Amber Sedgewick is one of my favorite characters. She originally started as an embodiment of the mean girl trope to act as a foil for Xlina on the human side of her life. I wanted to give Xlina conflicts that were more than magic and monsters. The one thing I had a load of experience in was having a school bully, after all. The original intent was for Amber to die pretty early on in the book, a tragic result of the magical world spilling into the mundane and something that would continually haunt Xlina. Emma, my oldest daughter, simply wouldn’t have it. She fell in love with the character and the dynamic between her and Xlina. Thus, Amber went from being a trope to one of the central characters of the series.

Amber’s evolution over the series is fun because she is suddenly thrust into the world of magic. When the illusion of her world shatters, she realizes that she is merely living the life she is expected to live, that much of what she has done and who she is as a person is a result of expectations placed on her by her father. She evolves from the mean girl trope to a complex character, with her own flaws and motivations.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

In youth, I had always envisioned myself writing fantasy. Sword- and sorcery-type swashbuckling adventures were my favorite reads. When I sat down to write The Infernal Games, I knew I needed to try something different. I had been watching Supernatural and had really loved the magic and monsters in the modern setting. I set out to read as many urban fantasy books as possible in a short time. I found a staggering breadth of styles and genres.

The only things I was certain of was that I wanted to stay away from vampires as the market felt heavily saturated. Instead, I went searching for more obscure lore and legend. That lead me to the Baku. I fell in love with the concept of a character with those abilities and Xlina began to take form.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

It took just under a year to write The Infernal Games. I spent a lot of time in editing purgatory. Revision after revision, trying to make it perfect. I spent a lot of time kicking things back and forth with the editor until finally I felt it was ready to be shared with the world.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

Writing has been a journey of rediscovery for me. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is what makes me happy. If I could write for a living, then I would never have a day of “work” again in my life. The accountant in me, however, screams practical thoughts and goals.

My plan is to retire from the day-to-day work to be a full-time author by the age of 50 (a statement I have made to my employer as well). That gives me nine more years to build a following. My goal is to publish two books a year continuing with the world I have created. I am not looking to win any awards or be some literary giant, rather I would like to entertain as many people as possible.  

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am currently working on the Soulstealer Trilogy, which will go back and explore Oxivius’s origin story. The first book, Soulstealer Origins, is scheduled for release on November 1, 2022. It seems like a short window since I just released the final book in the Baku Trilogy on June 1, but I have been working on this backstory for two years. Oxivius has had his origin story fully fleshed out since I started generating the characters for The Infernal Games.

After I finish the Soulstealer trilogy, I plan on returning to the future and doing a subsequent trilogy which will pick up right after the end of the Baku Trilogy. Xlina and Amber have changed the world and I am eager to explore what that means.  

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

There is a certain draw of modern day fused with lore and legend. I love being able to pull apart monsters and magic from long ago and really bring them to life in the modern setting. I think there is a relatable element when mixing modern technology with magic. With that said, I do have story ideas for an immersive fantasy series and a dystopian sci-fi, but for the moment I am content still exploring this urban fantasy world I have created.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I have always enjoyed telling stories. My second-grade teacher helped me bind the first story I wrote into a little book, and I remember being so proud of what I had done. I attribute my love of books and reading to my Grandmother Rosie. She was a Polish immigrant, who never got the privilege of going to school or receiving an education. As an adult, it was something she placed so much value on. I never really understood that as a kid. She bought us Hooked on Phonics, and while my siblings were in school; she worked with us every day on reading and writing. At the time, I thought it was so unfair. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized the amazing gift she had given me. I entered kindergarten reading and writing. By the time I was in third grade, I was reading well above my grade level. It culminated in the first time I got in real trouble in school when I refused to read the class-assigned book.

As I got older, the bullying started and I found my escape in the pages of books. A book could take me anywhere. I could be anything. Most importantly, it was an escape from the one thing everyone around me seemed to dislike: me. Soon, reading wasn’t enough. I began crafting my own stories and my own worlds. By the time I entered high school I knew writing was my passion. I knew I wanted to share my worlds with other people, but time has a way of dulling our passions. I remember stopping. I remember the day I quit on the manuscript I was working on that I was certain would be my big break. My college ambitions had fizzled. My parents thought a degree in creative writing was a waste of money. My only friend in the world joined the military and left for boot camp. It was time for me to “grow up” and join the working world. I started at a printing company, in perhaps the most soul-sucking, boring job of my life. Shortly after, I decided factory life wasn’t for me and tried going to college on my own. I was accepted into a two-year school, for the accounting program, and I took my first steps on a road that would leave my passion dormant for the next twenty years of my life.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I still have a lot of responsibilities and a full-time job. I can’t complain as I have found more than my fair share of success. This means, however, that my writing is done at night and on weekends. I tend to devote large blocks on either Saturday or Sunday for writing. I turn on some background music and just let the magic happen. I spend a lot of time on my commute thinking about what I want to write or what is happening in the next chapter so that when the weekend comes, I am prepared to bring all those musings to life.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I prefer my desktop; it’s just more comfortable for me. I tried a laptop and felt too cramped. I tried dictation, but my Maine accent is brutal for voice recognition. I also find I don’t speak like I write, so anything dictated tends to need serious editing.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

My all-time favorite author is R. A. Salvatore. I think he is the master of cinematic fight scenes. Picking one of his books to stand out as a favorite is near impossible. From his popular Forgotten Realms books to his DemonWars Saga, Salvatore has time and time again shown he can make loveable characters and memorable books that not just last as fond memories, but also change you as a reader.
Following that I really enjoyed Daughter of the Drow by Elaine Cunningham, so much in fact that my second daughter is named after the main character.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I stop writing. I find anything else to do. Go to the mall, go to the beach, anything. Writer’s block for me is a sign that I have spent too much time at the keyboard and not enough time out in the world. After an afternoon out and about, I usually find myself full of ideas. It could be for a character or a simple conversation, but the world around us is our inspiration. So when you are stuck, go immerse yourself in the wider world. Look at the stories playing out around you every day and before you know it, a quirk, a comment, or a moment becomes all the fuel you need.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t stop. The worst voice of all is the one in our heads telling us we are not good enough. That’s the secret, after all. We really don’t care what some stranger who says mean things to us thinks. After all, we might never even see them again. The reason their words hurt is often because they are affirming something negative we have said about ourselves with that little voice in our head.

When some stranger says “Your writing is terrible,” the pain comes not in the stranger’s words, but in how many times that little voice inside has said the same thing. It affirms our own internal narrative. So, change the narrative. Flip the script. You can do this. You can finish. Your story might not be everyone’s favorite, but it will be someone’s favorite. If you stop now, that someone will never get to experience your world, your characters.

We all need a world to escape to when this one becomes too much. Don’t let self-doubt take that escape away.

Thank you, author Reed Logan Westgate, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Infernal Games

The world you know is a lie…
It’s not that you have been duped, rather you are simply asleep. You didn’t ask for it; the forces of heaven and hell have kept you in a slumbering stupor. All around you, the awakened exist. Those individuals who know magic is real.
Xlina’s move to Portland, Maine, was supposed to be the start of a new life. A second chance. One that didn’t involve her magical-duty-obsessed druid father or her own legacy as a descendant of the Baku: an ancient creature that consumes nightmares. But when her court assigned social worker turns out to be a demon, Xlina finds herself drawn into a deadly game of survival with the stakes being her immortal soul.
If she can survive the Infernal Game, maybe she can redeem her enslaved soul. But survival means allying with the enigmatic necromancer Oxivius, who urges her to embrace her power instead of running from it. Steeped in the Dark Arts, Oxivius represents everything she has ever been told about evil. Will he be the key to her salvation or the road to eternal damnation?


You can find The Infernal Games here:
Goodreads | Amazon

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Guest Post: Cocktail Parties by Nick Gray

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Nick Gray, author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party to share a guest post.

About The Author

Nick Gray

Nick Gray is an entrepreneur and author living in Austin, Texas. He started and sold two successful companies: Flight Display Systems and Museum Hack. Nick is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, a step-by-step handbook that teaches you how to build big relationships by hosting small gatherings. Over 75,000 people have watched his TEDx talk about why he hates most museums. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and New York Magazine called him a host of “culturally significant parties.” 

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tiktok



Cocktail Parties by Nick Gray

Most adults haven’t made a new friend in years. I moved to New York City and hardly knew anyone. But then I made new friends, and those friends helped me launch a multi-million dollar company.

How? And can anyone do this?

Instead of going to random bars or meet-ups to try to create new connections, I decided to go a different route. Instead of going to other peoples’ parties, I decided to bring the party to me.

What I discovered, through lots of trial and error, is that there’s a specific way to structure parties to make them easy and successful—a “formula,” if you will, that anyone can follow to make new friends.

Over the last ten years I’ve hosted hundreds of these small parties. Then I’ve spent the past few years writing this book and testing every single aspect of it with different people around the world to make sure it works.

My book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party is my formula to “hack” your social life by learning how to throw parties. I’ll show you how to easily host fun events in your own home.

Why parties?

Some people may think a party requires loud music, late nights, and tons of booze. But a party is simply where people get together and have a good time. There can be an explicit purpose such as playing board games, celebrating an event, or meeting new people. But the essence of a party is that you are there to enjoy yourself and to connect with others.

Combining partying and relationship-building may sound counterintuitive. But it works. I’ll show you how throwing small parties in a strategic way can be the easiest method to make new friends and even boost your career.

About the book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party

You know that well-connected friend who only exists in the movies? The one who throws the best parties and can set up any introduction you need?

Everyone wants to know someone magical like this who brings people together. The secret is: you can be that person. You should be that person. The 2-Hour Cocktail Party will show you how.

Discover a simple party-hosting formula with step-by-step instructions that help you meet new people, strengthen your existing relationships, and make you the person everyone wants to know.

You’ll learn which days are the best to throw events (probably not the ones you think!) and what to say to the first people who arrive. Learn how to ensure your invitations get responses and your guests show up excited to mingle. Plus, get helpful pre-party checklists and a breakdown of activities to encourage new connections.

With The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, you’ll make new friends, boost your career, and leave everyone asking. “When’s your next party?”


About The Book

About the book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party

You know that well-connected friend who only exists in the movies? The one who throws the best parties and can set up any introduction you need?

Everyone wants to know someone magical like this who brings people together. The secret is: you can be that person. You should be that person. The 2-Hour Cocktail Party will show you how.

Discover a simple formula with step-by-step instructions to host parties that help you meet new people, strengthen your existing relationships, and make you the person everyone wants to know.

You’ll learn which days are the best (probably not the ones you think!) and what to say to the first people who arrive. Read how to ensure your invitations get responses and your guests show up excited to mingle. Plus, get helpful pre-party checklists and a breakdown of activities to encourage new connections.With The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, you’ll make new friends, boost your career, and leave everyone asking, “When’s your next party?”

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Book Website | Amazon | Read more


If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Phillip Riley

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of Sleeping With Cancer, Phillip Riley, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Phillip Riley was born in Seattle, Washington but whose adult journeys took him to New York City, Boston, Vermont, California, and for the last several decades, Hawaii. His half a dozen colleges include the Cornish Institute for the Arts in Seattle, Washington and the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He has a Bachelors in Fine Arts and a Master’s in Education. He continues to paint, teach, and write in Hawaii.

You can connect with author Riley here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

 Briefly I have roved the United States as a fine artist before finding myself in Hawaii sleeping on the beach after a divorce 23 years ago.  I remarried and mostly wrote poetry and children’s stories, as well as other short stories in both first and third person.  I remarried and followed my wife around the world on adventures.  I became a special education teacher during this time using the arts as a way to address what educators call core content.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Sleeping With Cancer developed without an outline.  I modeled the main character after a lady I met in Boston.  As I continued the narrative, my thoughts as a caregiver in real life with a wife fighting an advanced stage of cancer began seeping into the story.  In a role reversal I wrote my thoughts from the first person of the lady with a boyfriend with cancer.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

If there is one message, it might be that there are examples of courage all around us that go unseen and without drama, especially with those surviving with cancer.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

My favorite character is the lead character, Emily.  It is her thoughts that resound through most of the book.  She is THE character, with grit, sarcasm, heart, and I would have to say love.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

An incident began when my wife and her mom went to Las Vegas and she called so exultant about winning a jackpot of $6000.00.  I began to think, you can win a jackpot, but you still have cancer. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I think this book began about four years ago.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I write in different venues.  I would like to publish several more books of short stories as well as novelettes and another book.  I like to think my writing will be a contribution to my fellow human beings.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am writing another book, but like Sleeping With Cancer, I am not sure where it is going.  In general, I prefer the tone to be optimistic.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I have never written in the first person of a woman for a book as in Sleeping with Cancer.  I suppose I did so to get my thoughts out without naming my wife. I do write in multiple genres.  For example, I have a number of short stories whose characters are insects, crabs, and squirrels.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I think the person who inspired me long ago was a teacher at Massachusetts College of Art named Lila Chalpin.  In my twisted journey through New York City, Boston, and elsewhere living on the edges of poverty attempting to be an artist, writing has been my refuge for reflection. Traumas and experiments in living bring a lot of fodder to the mind.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I like to write in the morning beginning at Starbucks and later at home. I bring a notebook everywhere to write impressions, such as when I occasionally teach.  I go to a writers’ group once a week to share what I am doing.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I prefer old school writing first draft by hand in a notebook.  Section by section is then put onto my computer, which functions for me in the editing process and where the writing is made more readable and legible.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

  1. Anne Sexton, Transformations
  2. Erica Jong, Half-lives
  3. Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror
  4. Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna
  5. Lately… Diana Gabaldon’s books, such as Dragonfly in Amber

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I just write nonsense. I call it my blah blah time.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I think I might say to be careful who your teachers are and to not think too much about the outcome.  As a special education teacher I am aware of different learning styles and that it is sometimes important to give oneself room to go your own way.

Thank you, author Riley, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Sleeping With Cancer

What is the meaning of life when you can see the end in the one you love?
Emily’s life changes after she witnesses two men kill each other in her apartment leaving a duffle bag with 1.2 million dollars.   With money no longer an obstacle and drifting through a dreamy state of trauma where spirits often appear, she eventually falls in love with a new man.  When he is later diagnosed with cancer, they embark on parallel journeys with an urgency and impatience to absorb the world.
In Sleeping with Cancer by Phillip Riley, Emily’s thoughts on the arbitrariness of life accompany her new love who is engaged in each moment with an appreciation she can only imagine.


You can find Sleeping With Cancer here:
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Nick A. Jameson

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of Rosebud: A Poetry Collection, Nick A. Jameson, from Infinite Of One Publishing, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Nick A. Jameson is a philosopher-poet with strong progressive convictions and a history of creative endeavors, including the conception of left-leaning political, economic, business and spiritual theories. Residing in Bend, OR, Nick was born in Fort Bragg, CA, and has spent most of his life in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, CA.

Nick has a BA in Business Economics from UCSB and an MA in English from ASU. His projects include works of fiction and nonfiction delving into the disciplines of storytelling, philosophy, poetry, spirituality, sociopolitical theory, nutrition and naturopathy. All of his ideas, projects, discussion boards and blog posts are available at infiniteofone.com.

You can connect with author Jameson here:
Author Website | Facebook | Instagram


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I’m a natural philosopher-poet spurred by a deep inner force, what I consider the essential Self, or Spirit, to seek answers to the foremost questions arising from humankind’s quest for meaning. Both highly contemplative and highly emotional, my heart and mind have converged to create everything from my own idealistic set of social systems (see my other works, including Infinite of One and Cultural Cornerstones, Recarved, as well as my website at infiniteofone.com), which is why I consider myself an ‘ideologue,’ to poetic, cathartic releases on every emotion with which I wrestle. My progressive convictions and philosophical nature shine through in most everything that I write, including my poetry, as does my strong drive to seek the spiritual, or metaphysical, nature of existence. I’m also highly romantic, and motivated by a chivalrous sense of honor and a platonic idealism valuing ideas and principles above everything but love, which, along with liberal education and the philosophical and poetic arts, I think are highly undervalued attributes and pursuits in the modern materialistic era of corporate dominance. I’ve been a creative, self-driven individual all my life, and much prefer to be the driving force behind my own endeavors than attempt to fit into a box or a role designed for the purposes of others, which is part of why I’ve always been resistant to the concept of the ‘job,’ or even the ‘career,’ in which we’re compelled by forces other than the fired heart and impassioned mind. Instead, my desire is to combine my conviction regarding ownership of one’s work, a semi-socialistic entrepreneurial attitude towards the ‘workplace,’ with my desire to write and create generally. While I created games for friends set to paper as a youth, which I called ‘paper games,’ my creative side has found a grander outlet in my poetry, social theories and philosophical pursuits.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Rosebud is an emotional, intellectual and spiritual outlet collected into a series of poems with the power to both elucidate complex ideas as well as to touch upon and assist the reader in cathartically releasing their emotions, especially when those emotions are based upon the unresolved quests for love and self-realization. Like my book Heresies of a Heathen, it experiments with a type of writing I call “reinterpretive verse/prose” in several of its poems, as well as in the post script. While I’m certain that the writing community has another term for this, what I mean by ‘reinterpretive’ is that I’ll be inspired by a work, such as The Prophet and Siddhartha in the subject book, Rosebud, or the collected Gnostic Gospels in Heresies of a Heathen, yet I’ll see the ideas and wisdom that they impart through my own philosophical lens, and thereby come to rewrite them, or portions of them, in my own words, reinterpreted through my own perspective and philosophy. I believe Rosebud contains a ton of value on many levels, including: insights into the nature of Spirit/God; how spirituality and religion aren’t identical, and why; explorations of the emotional and psychological aspects of love and ‘the muse;’ both the suffering and the reward of the seeker; and much more. It is representative of the overlap between the philosopher and the poet. As Emerson said: “The true philosopher and the true poet are one. And a beauty, which is truth, and a truth, which is beauty, is the aim of them both.” 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

While, per my response to the previous question, it would be all but impossible for me to conflate the book into a single message, if forced to choose one, it may be: while it may sound cliché, one must follow their hearts, for the heart is the focal point of Spirit into matter, and is therefore the bridge to the everlasting wisdom and One Being which we all share, and which, though it shall test you, assailing you with demons, the secretly angelic nature of those demons shall someday be revealed in the incalculable rewards wrought by the stronger self they bring.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

Writing is an outlet for me; I call it my ‘pressure release valve,’ envisioning my sanity being much like a cannister under pressure. Yet, without the emotional and intellectual pressure, and without the suffering they entail, I wouldn’t be able to delve into the ideas that I do, or be inspired to write what I write. So, it’s a combination of needing an outlet for beliefs and ideas and the fact that I’m what one might call ‘troubled in love.’ I collect muses and unrequited affections, for a number of reasons, and my related fantasies and pains produce much poetry.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I’m always writing, and struggle not with ‘writers block,’ but with much the opposite phenomenon: with having too many ideas and too much content, and not knowing exactly how to organize them into particular projects, or to ‘stop’ those projects. This particular book, Rosebud, is based upon a collection of poems produced over about half a year. The two muses whom were in my heart and mind when I wrote it, for example, include the memories of one I was in love with for years, and was writing about in Northern CA, and a newer muse I became infatuated with since moving back to Bend, here in Central Oregon, who has since been, let’s say, very unkind towards me; the word ‘betrayal’ is definitely apt; but who, nevertheless, I’m happy I got the chance to know, because the poet needs a muse, because I got to focus my love on someone new, and because all pain is a lesson in disguise. Six months, going from one muse to the next.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

It’s difficult to put a limit on such ambitions. I firmly believe that I have a natural capacity to create theories of near limitless social value, to elucidate most any obscurity of the philosophical and spiritual landscape, so to speak (if nothing else, I’m a natural philosopher), and to purge my own emotional struggles onto the page in a manner which others may identify with. Having started my own independent publishing imprint, Infinite of One Publishing, with ‘infinite of one’ being an allusion to the core spiritual belief of mine, a non-dualistic monotheism I call ‘monoexistentialism,’ my ambition is to be a globally-recognized philosopher poet that runs his own publishing imprint in league with a cadre of like-minded creative, spiritual progressives.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I write in most every genre; all of it has value. Naturally, philosophy and poetry are my go-to’s, but I write sociopolitical theory and fiction as well, just not as regularly. For me, I love poetry because, as in the book blurb, I believe it to be the freest of writing genres; the one the least beholden to form, structure and style and, therefore, permitting the possibility of the purest conveyance of heart and mind. My favorite poems, in fact, seem to come out of me when my mind is the least aware of itself, and when I’m in a type of trance, seemingly conducting from the very depths of my being without my mind really understanding what I’m writing, or why.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I’m a writer by nature, because I’m a thinker and a creative, and because I love language and the exploration of ideas; my particular combination of attributes tells me I’m meant to be a writer along progressive lines, where I create not just for fun or entertainment, but for the quest to understand all the mysteries of human existence. That said, deciding to pursue writing professionally is anything but easy, as I’m sure you and all your interviewees know. And yes, you could argue that it entails sacrifice; heeding what I believe my calling is has, to the dismay of some family members, pulled me away from less risk-averse, seemingly more lucrative paths.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I tend to do the most writing early in the day. I read while drinking coffee or tea, usually with classical piano playing in the background, and as I read I’m routinely provoked to write, either because I’m reflecting on ideas or recent happenings in my life with the blood circulating quickly thanks to the caffeine, and/or because I feel the need to respond to what I’m reading. I also have the routine of making ‘notes’ in my phone whenever a thought arises that I believe to be of value, most of these being of a philosophical nature. Let’s check… I currently have 2,759 notes on my iPhone. After I make the note I send it to various outlets, including two different email accounts, and from there I copy and paste the note into collections intended for writing projects, one of which will be a lifelong series I call From the Roots Up: A Progressive, Spiritual Philosopher’s Notebook, which is, per the title, a collection of notations of philosophical value.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Per the last response I make a lot of notes in my phone. That said, I write in many different ways. I’ve always had very good penmanship, and I write in a series of journals (the current go-to is a leather journal with a Tree of Life imprint), plus the phone, plus often directly into MS Word.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

That’s a tough one. Plato, Rumi, Orwell, Thoreau and Wilde. 1984, Walden and the collected works of the other three. I have so much on my reading list! It’s a dense word document on my computer. I’m a bit of a rarity, I believe, in that I write more than I read. Relatedly, it’s long been a goal of mine to transfer some of my cinephile self to being more of a bibliophile.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I don’t really experience this. I’m an ideas guy, and I have the opposite problem: knowing which ideas to pursue, and when to cut them off when it comes to a particular project. I don’t think writing should ever be forced. Inspiration is the force of creation, and if I’m not being inspired by something, whether positively or negatively, I’m not writing.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Your heart is your truest self. If it tells you to write, write. Don’t worry about popularity or who will read it and what they’ll think, or even grammar/editing. Release it onto the page, even if it’s just for your own emotional and intellectual development; just to explore an idea, to develop your convictions and/or to cathartically release emotion. What to do with it, and whether or not you or anyone else thinks it’s of value and worth broadcasting, is a ‘downstream’ concern.

Thank you, author Jameson, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Rosebud: A Poetry Collection

Poetry is powerful because it’s free; free from the forms, constructs and constraints of prose. It permits those that wield it to go anywhere, to explore anything, without the restrictions of other forms of lingual expression. In this book of poems, the writer uses poetry for manifold purposes, from wrestling with his inner demons, to seeking that elusive angel amongst his muses, to evoking every color of the emotional spectrum, to pulling progressivism from the greed and controls of prevailing culture and politics, to seeking the nature and imparted wisdom at the very source of all truth and being: Spirit, or God.


You can find Rosebud: A Poetry Collection here:
Goodreads | Amazon

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: N. Ford

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of The Refuge, N. Ford, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

N. Ford spends most free time in the open air, usually barefooted and with readily available mango.  An alumni of Taylor University and the University of Central Florida, N. Ford exists somewhere in between a midwesterner and beach bum, currently residing alongside the mountains of Tennessee.  With the steady company of a giant dog and something to write on, anywhere will do. Defined by faith, fueled by tribe, and driven by purpose, N. Ford writes for all; and simultaneously, for just One.

You can connect with author Ford here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I am a life-long learner who hopes to continue to learn new skills, have dynamic experiences, study other cultures, and continue in formal education.  I need physical movement nearly all the time, and ideally outside.  I love to be at the sea, or in the mountains, or exploring somewhere new.  I start every day in a Bible and end every day with exercise.  I like nothing more than to be with family and friends, but a day under a tree with my dog, my guitar, and a notebook is also a day well spent. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The entire idea for the book was formulated in 2015, and once I really got started in 2019, it felt like it wrote itself.  Interestingly enough, the majority of the theming centers around war, unity, and race relations – subjects that became highly relevant in the wake of 2020, 2021, and 2022.  It’s my great hope that the messages of unity and human value can seep into our current cultural events in impactful ways. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

More than any other, the primary message of the novel is the value of human life.  We humans represent a beautiful and dynamic amalgamation of shapes, sizes, colors, ethnicities, capabilities, backgrounds, nationalities, experiences, etc.  This story celebrates our differences while highlighting our similarities.  We need each other.  And everyone brings a unique value.  That’s the primary message here. 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I read somewhere that as an author, there’s a part of you in every character.  Knowing the truth of that, it’s hard to choose a favorite.  I love Jude’s drive toward meaning and his desire to do something purposeful with his life.  I admire Mae’s simple and immoveable nature, along with her love for her people.  I desire to have Matthew’s curious and independent mind, and Faith’s courageous spirit.  I relate to Jonathan’s heart and respect his iron will to do the right thing even though it hurts him deeply.  I want to lead like Issachar, dream like Eden, and rejoice like Jackson. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

For me, life is driven by faith.  This project is no different.  This story was placed on my heart to tell, and I did my best to tell it without letting my own voice get in the way. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I wrote the first words to this book on August 15, 2015.  After receiving discouragement at the first try, I gave it a rest for a while.  I had a few successive failures to launch over the next few years and finally dedicated myself to writing it with new strategies and tactics in place.  That was in August of 2019.  By August of 2020, the novel was complete, along with an outline for the rest of the trilogy.  From the first words on a page to publication – it took 6 years and 9 months.  Books two and three won’t take quite that long.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

Ideally, I’d like to quit my grown-up job and write full time.  I’d like to finish this trilogy, make it into a movie or a TV series, and then get to work on the ever-growing list of writing projects sitting unattended in the notes app on my phone. 

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Other than Book Two of The Refuge Trilogy, no.  There’s a long list awaiting my attention, but graduate school will need to end before I can give it the time it needs.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I will write in multiple genres.  I chose this one to begin simply because I felt called to write this story first.  There are many that will be published as nonfiction pieces, and hopefully more in the fiction realm as well. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

A few years ago, I found an envelope my parents kept of papers I wrote in school.  They all received high marks, were a mix of subjects, and came from several class years.  Upon further investigation I discovered that my parents always knew I had a skill set for writing.  It took me much longer to discover.  I was one of those kids that had no clue what I wanted to do when I became an adult.  I ended up in my university major by default, not by choice, and chose to make it work.  Discovering my purpose and understanding what I wanted to do on this earth was a deep and difficult challenge for me.  I think that’s why I so deeply relate to Jude’s search for purpose-driven work. 

After an explosive time in my life in which I lost a job, a primary relationship, and had close family move away, I started using writing as a means of catharsis.  That’s what ultimately led me to understand that writing is something I love, something that gives me energy and passion and meaning, and something I feel I can use to make a positive impact.  More than all of that, though, it’s something I feel God created me to do, and I want to pursue it with all that I am. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

This novel was written at a time when I was juggling a full-time job, graduate school, and multiple community service opportunities.  It was highly challenging some days to achieve the ritual I committed to completing.  Nevertheless, day after day I would work my job, do the tasks assigned from graduate school, and then force myself to walk to the coffee shops in my near vicinity to write until I couldn’t anymore.  Sometimes this was no longer than twenty minutes.  Sometimes it lasted for hours. 

What I was able to identify that was crucial to my writing process was that I needed music playing in headphones (I chose tracks for this by Audiomachine, John Paesano, Ivan Torrent, Gustavo Santaolalla, etc.).  I also identified that I had to be somewhere that was a dedicated space for writing.  In my home, I had one chair for writing – I used it for no other purpose.  I also selected several coffee shops or cafes that were my ‘writing spaces’.  I didn’t socialize there or do any other work there – only writing.  The psychological and physical separation of these places for writing helped me make progress day after day in ways that I don’t think would have been as successful otherwise.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

My writing process starts with a pen and a notebook.  Outlines turn into chapter synopses (still in pen and paper form), and once the chapter synopses are complete, I move to a laptop. 

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

Frances J. Roberts is a long-lasting favorite author.  She writes truth with beauty, poetry, and rhythm.  It’s truly unique and distinctly beautiful.  My favorite title by her is Come Away, My Beloved.

For gorgeous and descriptive fiction, Charles Martin is a go-to.  When Crickets Cry among others are true works of art. 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I do something else.  I walk away, go work out, spend time with family and friends.  Play some music, work on something else.  There’s a separation that must happen for me.  I try not to let it bother me and try again the next day. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I would tell aspiring writers to do everything they can to not strive for a story.  Let the story come to you.  Let it call out to you instead of you striving to create something that you think may be unique or may sell.  The more you can let your experience be about the story you were created to tell instead of the story you think you should tell, the better it will go for you. 

Thank you, author Ford, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Refuge

In a world that has ever only known war, generations still swing their swords on whispers of conflict from centuries past.
In Physis, the law of the land is ‘every territory for itself.’  Lineage is everything; racial identification is paramount; and territory loyalty is the code by which one lives or dies.  But when a few individuals decide the given system isn’t working,  everything begins to change.
What will happen to the world when inherited authority is questioned; when standards of judgement are re-evaluated; and when independent thinkers redefine purpose for a new generation of leaders?
In The Refuge, by N. Ford, readers travel from the snowy mountain estates of The Diamond Isles to the clay arenas of warrior life in Agon.  They sail the Physis Sea, chasing mystery and meaning, and swim in the clear pool at the bottom of the Western Bay.  Readers will meet love, loss, and sacrifice anew, while rediscovering what purpose can do when it’s authentic and hard-won.


You can find The Refuge here:
Goodreads | Amazon

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Michelle Bennington 

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Michelle Bennington, author of Devil’s Kiss, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Born and raised in the beautiful Bluegrass state of Kentucky, Michelle Bennington developed a passion for books early on that has progressed into a mild hoarding situation and an ever-growing to-read pile. She delights in spinning mysteries and histories. Find out more on her website: http://www.michellebennington.com and follow her on her social media profiles.

You can find author Michelle here:
Author Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I was born to a blue collar family of construction workers, farmers, and factory workers. I was one of the few people in my family to go college.  I’ve always loved books and since the age of 13 wanted to be a writer. But when I was younger, in the place I lived and in a pre-Google era, there weren’t many resources to guide and facilitate my growth in writing. Later, once I got to college, I was introduced to world of writing workshops, craft courses, and a host of other resources, which vastly improved and honed my craft. Since then, I’ve published a few short stories and poems, but writing books was always the primary goal. Now I’m aiming for other goals within the industry. When I’m not writing, I hold down a full-time job. And when I’m not working (which is rare these days), I enjoy crocheting, painting, dancing, reading, ghost tours, distillery tours, traveling, and hanging out with my family. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I really wanted to write a book that featured Kentucky  in a positive light. That was incredibly important to me. Also, I named my character Rook after my grandmother’s favorite card game, Rook. So I wove a few real-life things into the book.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I don’t really have a message planted in the book, but I suppose, if there’s a takeaway, it could be summed up in one word: Resiliency. My characters go through things, horrible things, but they remain hopeful and resilient. 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I think my favorite character is Prim. She’s a sassy grandmother who has seen hard times and though she’s petite and delicate-looking, she’s tough, wise, and takes no guff.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

The book concept first began with a half-baked idea about an amateur sleuth who is also a part-time college instructor. I happened to also be a part-time college instructor at the time. While I was generating ideas around that, my husband and I attended a ghost tour at the Buffalo Trace bourbon distillery. Because Buffalo Trace has a long history, there are a few places on the property that seemed a little spooky to me—especially at night on a ghost tour. That gave me the idea of a murder mystery taking place at a distillery. Then not long after that, I read an article about the Pappy VanWinkle heist, which was a BIG deal in the bourbon industry because Pappy is a rare 15-25 year old bourbon and is quite expensive. Then the ideas began swirling and soon the plot for Devil’s Kiss was born! 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

From conception to publication, it took me about four years total. The actual writing and completion of the manuscript was two years. Then, because I really wanted to do the traditional route first, it took another two years to find an agent and publisher. Once I landed the publishing contract in January 2020, I had to wait an excruciating 18 months! Taking the traditional path to publication has definitely put my patience to the test.  But that’s a character flaw in myself that I needed to work on anyway.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I have a long list of books I want to write and publish. A few are already written and need revision or rewriting; a few are partially written and need completion; and many are just idea-seeds right now.  I want to be a full-time writer. I want to write in a few genres (historical, mystery, romance, fantasy, paranormal). While I enjoy writing the fun stuff like cozy mysteries (and I have no intention of quitting those), I do want to write some upmarket books and serious historical fiction, too. I want to grow my YouTube channel and start a podcast, teach some writing workshops, sit on conference panels, maybe even start up my own indie press.  I want to finish the screenplay I’ve started and I would love to have any of my stories picked up for movie / TV production.  That’s where I see my next five years. Will all that happen? Who knows? I’ve always operated with the notion of “Dream Big, Work Hard, and See What Happens.” But I go into my plans knowing that I won’t get everything I want, work for, and dream for.  I might get a much smaller version of what I hoped for. And that’s okay.  Of course I get disappointed when things don’t go as I expected or when I worked really hard for something that doesn’t come to fruition. I accept that it wasn’t meant for me and move on.  I try not to dwell too long on disappointments because it’s a waste of time. I just get right back to work.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am working on a lot of things presently. When I signed Devil’s Kiss with Level Best Books, they gave me a three book deal. So, I’ve already written the second book (Mermaid Cove, slated for release in 2023) and will soon begin plotting the third book, Unbridled Spirits (2024). This week I signed another 3-book deal with Level Best Books for a historical mystery series set in 1803 England. The first book, Widow’s Blush, is due to release October 2023, with books 2 and 3 coming out in 2024 and 2025, respectively. I’m also currently working on a Southern gothic cozy mystery, called Dumpster Dying, that I intend to self-publish by October 2022. In addition, I’ve started the rough draft for a historical fiction based on a true crime. I have no idea how long it will take me to write that manuscript because I want it to be upmarket, closer to literary fiction. However, I do anticipate that it will be a 2-3 book series because it involves a ton of characters. I also have begun writing a screenplay, but since I know nothing about writing a screenplay, I’m having to educate myself as I go.  And lastly, I have two completed manuscripts—a romance and a historical fiction—that need to be revised. My plan is to start revising one of those once I’ve completed Dumpster Dying. The romance I plan to self-publish and the historical fiction I would like to see traditionally published. But we’ll see what happens there. 

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

Well, the very first book I wrote was a romance. Honestly, I chose that because I thought it would be easier and therefore I could use it as a means of training myself how to write a novel.  One of those statements is true. I did, in fact, learn a ton about writing a novel, but it was not easier to write a romance. The romance genre doesn’t get enough credit, I think. It’s really hard to grow a believable love relationship between two characters and keep that thread running through a whole book. But I didn’t like writing love scenes. It’s one thing to read them, but writing them felt awkward for me. So I thought, “Why am I not writing mysteries?!  I love mysteries, thrillers, forensics, true crime books, shows, and movies.” It was a simultaneous lightbulb and “DUH!” moment. Because I love historicals, I paired that with a mystery and came up with Widow’s Blush and later wrote Devil’s Kiss. Right now mystery and its subgenres are my primary focus, but I do eventually want to branch into romance, fantasy, and historical fiction. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

My writing journey was a long, circuitous route. I began dreaming of being a writer when I was 13 after reading an Edgar Allan Poe anthology. I fell in love with his writing and wanted to impact others the way his writing impacted me. I fashioned a journal for myself and began writing. I wrote a lot of really bad poetry imitating his style. Then in high school my English teacher praised a passage I wrote for a creative writing assignment—and read it in front of the whole class as I blushed and sank lower and lower in my chair. Afterward, everyone sat quiet, looking at me as if seeing me for the first time (many of them probably were seeing me for the first time). It was embarrassing and exhilarating at the same time and something sparked for me that day (I’m ever grateful to Mr. Campbell!). But my road to writing was not an easy one. I grew up in an environment that left me with little or no self-esteem or confidence and some mental health issues. I thought, “That’s a dream for other people, not for a small-town girl from Kentucky.” Add to this that I didn’t have much in the way of resources: computers, internet, books, writing groups, etc. that help so many people develop and hone their writing skills. I tried off and on for years to write and publish, but it always felt like I was in the dark, that I didn’t know what I was doing. 

Through college, even though I continued to receive praise, minor publication, and even small awards for my writing, I was far too shy and reticent to share my dream with anyone or to try to find someone to help me hone my skills. It still felt out of reach. I decided to go into teaching instead.  I did that for a while, but writing was always in the back of mind. I thought if I was a teacher then I could write during the summer months. But I was not very happy in teaching and left that. Then several years ago I came to two conclusions: first, I’m not getting any younger and second, I want to die with as few regrets as possible. And I knew that I would regret never chasing my dream of being a published writer. I was already regretting putting it off as long as I had, that I had let so many years slip by.  So I went and found as many books about the craft of writing that I could find and began reading. I read as much fiction as I could find. I took all the writing workshops I could find and afford. I had to overcome perfectionism. I pushed myself to try to get published and was repeatedly rejected. At first, it stung, but I knew I needed the rejection to make myself better. I got all the feedback from anyone who would give it. Again, sometimes it stung, but I knew that I needed it to produce better writing. My confidence began to grow (my husband was crucial in the growth of my confidence and self-esteem). My biggest hurdle was completing that first novel. But once I did that, it was like the universe opened up to me, as if I had deciphered a secret code. And long story short, I just kept pushing. Resilience. I guess my story always comes back to resilience.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

 I wish I had the time to develop a ritual. I don’t have one.  These days, I write when I have the time. Even if I have only five minutes to write a few lines or a paragraph then I consider myself that much further ahead. I write on road trips when I’m the passenger. I have an adapter that plugs into my laptop and the car cigarette lighter. I write on lunch break and after work. I write on weekends, vacations, and holidays. I write when I’m in the airport on a layover. I have written in hospital waiting rooms. I plot and plan stories while driving or in the gym or in the shower.  I don’t mean to make it sound like I never stop. Of course, I do. But if I’m on a vacation or visiting family, I get up earlier than everyone else anyway. So, I make myself a cup of coffee, crack open the laptop, and write until I’m interrupted. That’s maybe a whole hour of time where I can easily get 2-4 pages written. That’s a good chunk. If I’m lucky enough to be in a mental flow where the words are pouring out, but I have to stop, I make a few notes on the page of what I want to say next so I’m ready to go when I come back next time. I’m hybrid plotter-pantser. I always sketch out where I want my story to go before I begin writing. However, I usually go off course about half way through the book because better ideas always crop up once I’m in the thick of it. And that’s okay. I just see where it takes me. So far, with every book I’ve written I complete the whole rough draft before I go back and edit/revise. But then that leaves all  the revision work at the end and I’m not keen on revision; it can be so tedious. It’s the part that takes the longest. I would like to train myself to revise the previous day’s material before continuing on.  I know of many writers who do that, but I’m not sure if or how that would benefit me or if I would like that method. I might try it for my next book. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Computer, definitely.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

Five favorite books? Oh, gosh. That’s like choosing my favorite ice cream, so I’ll go with authors: Jane Austen, Daphne DuMaurier, Pablo Neruda, Mary Oliver, CS Harris—It just doesn’t seem fair that I can only name five! There are so many!

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I used to struggle with writer’s block a lot when I was younger. And then I read or heard somewhere that writer’s block is a result of not knowing where you’re going with the story. That’s when I started to plot out my stories and that has helped so much. Another thing that has helped is that I usually work on 2 or more books at a time. That way, if I’m not connecting with one book, I can go work on another. If I’m blocked on that one, too, then I’m probably just tired and need a break. So I go do something else for a while. Baking, crocheting, painting, reading, bubble baths, walking or swimming usually help me loosen up my mind. 

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

  1. In the beginning of your journey, read all the books on the writing craft that you can find, join a writing group, connect with a mentor, and take writing courses. There are many online and community-based groups and programs that are low cost or free. Writing groups, especially the in-person variety, give you a safe place to fail. And you need to fail. It sounds contradictory, but failure is actually a good thing if you learn from it, grow from it, use it to improve your work, and as long as you don’t let failure intimidate you. You have to keep trying. Some writers get rejected dozens of times before getting accepted. 
  2. You’re not a writer unless you’re writing. Get in the seat and start writing. Even though I don’t have a ritual right now, in the beginning I did. I tried writing first thing in the morning. I made myself write every day, even if all I wrote was a single sentence. I kept doing those things until I developed the discipline.
  3. Understand why you want to write. If it’s to get rich or famous, you will very likely be gravely disappointed. You have to love the work for the sake of the work. Most writers work other jobs.
  4. Read everything you can get your hands on—especially in the genre you want to write in—but books outside your genre will help your writing, too.
  5. Everything you write is NOT gold. Edit and revise without mercy. 
  6. Let the first draft be junk. It’s called first draft for a reason and that’s what revision is for. Just get it written. 
  7. For the beginning writer, find different authors you like and imitate their writing style when you write. It will help you find and develop your unique voice. 
  8. For those hoping to go pro: When you submit to an agent or publisher, thoroughly read and follow the submission guidelines. And do your research. Understand how to write query letters and what genres the agent/publisher represents, etc.  
  9. If you’re serious about writing find an excellent critique partner who will tell you the truth about your writing—not what you want to hear but what you need to hear. They are rare, but invaluable.

Thank you, author Michelle, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Devil’s Kiss

Rook Campbell is broke, divorced, jobless, and in desperate need of steady employment, which is hard to come by in the small town of Rothdale, Kentucky. With the help of her friend and neighbor Bryan, she lands a good job at the Four Wild Horses Distillery and meets an attractive co-worker with lots of dating potential. Her life is finally headed in the right direction until a co-worker dies under suspicious circumstances and a shipment of rare small-batch bourbon goes missing. Worse, her personal life begins to unravel as her beloved grandmother falls ill. Normally she can depend on her ex, Cam, for help, but his new fiancée’s jealousy is getting in the way. As the body count rises, Rook becomes ensnared in discovering who’s committing the crimes—or she might be the next to die.


You can find Devil’s Kiss here:
Amazon | Goodreads

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Richard Scharine

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author of The Past We Step Into, Richard Scharine, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Richard Scharine is from rural Wisconsin. A professor emeritus in the University of Utah theatre department, his honors include University Professor, University Diversity Award, and College of Fine Arts Excellence Award. Dr. Scharine has published two scholarly books, five book chapters, and many articles. A Fulbright Senior Lecturer at the University of Gdansk in Poland, he has directed a hundred plays and acted in seven foreign countries, including the title role in Oedipus at Colonus in Athens, Greece. The smartest thing he did was to marry Marilyn Hunt Scharine.

You can connect with author Scharine here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I attended a one-room grade school.  Disadvantages:  No plumbing or indoor bathrooms.  Having to work to the nearest farm with a bucket for water.  Advantages:  Taking 8th grade eight times if you paid attention.  (Seven in my case because I skipped a grade.)  Going to the library meant only walking to the back of the room.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

In eleven of the twelve stories a woman gives advice to a man—almost always the character based on the author.  Sometimes she shares with him.  Sometimes she blames him.  The title, The Past We Step Into, was taken from Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

We’re aware of most of what happens in our lives, but it may take a long time before we recognize its importance.  (I call it “the unawareness factor.”)

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Lynne, the wife of the narrator, appears in ten of the twelve stories.  Two are told entirely from her viewpoint:  In “Hiroshima 1964” she has a miscarriage, and in “Yemaja” she is diagnosed with a fatal disease.  (Believe me, that is not the most important thing in the story.)

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I didn’t even know I was writing a book until I wrote the 12th story, “Danton on the Kaw.”  At that point I realized I had written a cycle of stories about the same set of characters, set from the 1940s to the early 21st century, but with a gap from 1964 to 1977.  The events of “Danton on the Kaw” happened in 1970.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I’m an academic and I’d written two books and a score of articles and reviews in that genre, but I didn’t begin to write “fiction” until my sister died in 2006.  She was the last of my family from that generation (including my wife), and as my academic career slowed down I began investing the richness of their characters in situations where they didn’t always find themselves in real life.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

Given my age, my ashes will probably be found at the base of the tree that Westminster College planted by the Arts Building in honor of my wife.  If I survive (given my age), I have a lot of stories yet to tell, courses yet to teach, and on-stage roles yet to play.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Right now I’m working on a story called “Harvest,” which centers on a nine-year-old Wisconsin boy taking part in his first grain harvest in 1947, but the characters who shape his life are a cousin (who never appears) with almost God-like abilities and a hired man with a dark past.  “Harvest” will also be the title of the book, if Atmosphere Press is willing to include a number of other stories I’ve written.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

Children always make up stories.  Mine were initially based upon 15 or 30 minute radio programs (Superman, Tom Mix, The Lone Ranger, etc.).  My father, who had to go to work in the 6th grade, always had magazines and books around the house.  My favorite was Collier’s, especially the single-page science fiction stories by Ray Bradbury—many of which I still remember today.  As a literary historian, I fell into the habit of teaching history through stories (80 minutes of stand-up).

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

Beats me!  Following army service, I discovered theatre in my second junior year of college.  After a Berlin Wall-based call-up was over, I was accepted into graduate school solely because in those pre-feminist days my wife had been accepted and they felt they hadto take me.  Sixteen years later, I had directed 45 plays and the University of Utah hired me strictly as a classroom teacher.  I’ve acted in seven foreign countries—always with an academic group—and I believe the connection between acting/directing and writing fiction is imagination.  I always see pictures and hear dialogue when I write.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I don’t sit down until I have something to say (or a deadline).  Even then I put it off as long as possible.  It’s mid-afternoon before I touch the laptop and I’m there until the early hours of the morning.  I don’t work from handwritten notes unless the story has a particular routine and time period to cover, e.g. a summer of riots and rehearsals in “Danton on the Kaw,” or a farm to farm grain harvest in “Harvest.”

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

The great thing about a laptop computer is the ability to start over again, and to save something that isn’t right at this moment, but may be useful some other place in the manuscript.  You young whipper-snappers have no idea what it was like to write before the days of saved documents and copy machines.  Imagine a 1964 graduate thesis written on a typewriter using four carbons to make five copies.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

I’ll stick to Americans and also eliminate playwrights.  As a child of the ’30s I was first introduced to Sinclair Lewis and John Steinbeck.  I read every word Thomas Wolfe ever wrote.  (Thank God he died before he was 38.)  Look Homeward, Angel is the most nourishing book I ever read, in that when we were breaking bivouac during a War Games exercise, somebody threw my copy into the egg crate of a mess truck.  I also read nearly every book John Updike wrote, Kurt Vonnegut going back to when he wrote for Collier’s, and twenty years of short stories in The New Yorker.  Alice Munro is almost exactly seven years older than I am, and should she go first, I am planning a Mr. Spock Vulcan mind-meld to get inside her brain.  That girl can really mess with time!           

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I know what I did, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  At the beginning of 2020 I had stopped writing.  “Danton on the Kaw,” the last and longest story of The Past We Step Into (located in the exact middle of the book), was fifty years in the making, based on the Vietnam War protests and Civil Rights riots in Lawrence and at the University of Kansas, where I was working on a PhD in the summer of 1970.  I saw no way of dealing with it.  Then I was diagnosed with cancer, and then the chemotherapy didn’t work.  The answer, eventually, was Imbruvica, but before that was available I experienced some colorful hallucinations, the best of which I wrote as a short story which I hope Atmosphere Press will consider for my next book.  When I got out of the hospital almost exactly two years ago, I couldn’t walk but my mind was clear and, thanks to the pandemic, no one could go anywhere anyway.  In the summer of 1970 I was obsessed with Georg Buchner’s 1835 revolutionary play, Danton’s Death.  Danton was an actual hero of the French Revolution, until it occurred to him that the only way of continuing the revolution was to kill more and more people.  At which point he “tuned in, turned on, and dropped out.”  Shortly thereafter he was on the guillotine.  Shortly after I was home, the protagonist of “Danton on the Kaw” was trying to produce Danton’s Death in the midst of an actual revolution, interacting and in one case, casting, actual participants in the revolution.  As I’ve said, that story turned The Past We Step Into into a book.  My methodology is not practical, but I can walk now.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

For heaven’s sake, write from your own experience. Already suffering from writer’s block in 2018, I took a college class with other hopeful writers.  My young classmates, whose accumulated ages roughly approximated mine, lived in a world of sexual and economic threats, reasonable fears, uncertain futures, and about the same number of intriguing possibilities.  And I never read so many cliches in my life.  Look around you, I would have counseled.  Of course, given my age, I didn’t have to “look around.”  I looked back, and wrote “Saturday Night in front of the IGA, which became the first chapter in The Past We Step Into.

Thank you, author Scharine, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Past We Step Into

“Time is the school in which we learn

Time is the fire in which we burn.”

— Delmore Schwartz

A young couple finds themselves hip-deep in sex, social change, the Arts, Civil Rights, politics, warfare, and — ultimately — children, as they negotiate the paths of self-discovery spanning over fifty years and four continents.

In the twelve stories of Richard Scharine’s The Past We Step Into, we experience the America we remember, the America we want to forget, and the America we dream of achieving.


You can find The Past We Step Into here:
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Spotlight: Devil’s Kiss by Michelle Bennington 

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Michelle Bennington for her latest release Devil’s Kiss releasing this May!

Devil’s Kiss

Book: Devil’s Kiss: A Small Batch Mystery
Author: Michelle Bennington
Series: A Small Batch Mystery (Book #1)
Publication Date: 31st May 2022
Page Count: 274
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Level Best Books


Synopsis

Rook Campbell is broke, divorced, jobless, and in desperate need of steady employment, which is hard to come by in the small town of Rothdale, Kentucky. With the help of her friend and neighbor Bryan, she lands a good job at the Four Wild Horses Distillery and meets an attractive co-worker with lots of dating potential. Her life is finally headed in the right direction until a co-worker dies under suspicious circumstances and a shipment of rare small-batch bourbon goes missing. Worse, her personal life begins to unravel as her beloved grandmother falls ill. Normally she can depend on her ex, Cam, for help, but his new fiancée’s jealousy is getting in the way. As the body count rises, Rook becomes ensnared in discovering who’s committing the crimes—or she might be the next to die.

You can find Devil’s Kiss here:
Amazon | Goodreads


About The Author

Michelle Bennington

Born and raised in the beautiful Bluegrass state of Kentucky, Michelle Bennington developed a passion for books early on that has progressed into a mild hoarding situation and an ever-growing to-read pile. She delights in spinning mysteries and histories. Find out more on her website: http://www.michellebennington.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and GoodReads.

You can find author Michelle here:
Author Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Audiobook Excerpt Reveal: Ballad Of Jasmine Wills by Lee Rozelle

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Lee Rozelle who’ll be sharing a couple of excerpts from their latest audiobook Ballad Of Jasmine Wills.

About the Book

Ballad Of Jasmine Wills

A zany twist on the Southern Gothic, Ballad of Jasmine Wills is a wild and heartfelt tale of abduction and revenge, body shaming and media fame. Lee Rozelle’s debut novel is the story of overweight banker Jasmine and her kidnapper, the enigmatic reality TV mastermind Preston Price. Trapped inside an egg-shaped studio in the secluded backwoods, Jasmine is tortured with haute cuisine, brainwashed with self-help videos, and badgered with cardio exercise routines for her growing mass of livestream fans. Filled with flashbacks of adolescent nuttiness and ennui in the 1980s, Ballad of Jasmine Wills goes bizarro to explore links between reality TV and the real, intervention and exploitation.

You can find Ballad Of Jasmine Wills here:
Author Website | Amazon | Goodreads

Audio Excerpt #1
“Jasmine and Suzie Work Out”

Overweight banker Jasmine Wills has been kidnapped, placed in an egg-shaped dome, and forced to watch self-help videos. Suddenly a monitor pops on and she hears techno…


Audio Excerpt #2
“The Ossobuco Catastrophe”

Reality TV chefs Annon Martiz and Morris make a special Mediterranean meal for kidnapped Jasmine.


Audio Excerpt #3
“Preston’s Deliverance”

Preston searches for Jasmine in the woods but finds a gang of suspicious-looking pig hunters instead.


About The Author

Lee Rozelle

Lee Rozelle is the author of the novel Ballad of Jasmine Wills and nonfiction books Zombiescapes & Phantom Zones and Ecosublime. He has published short stories in Cosmic Horror MonthlyHellBound Books’ Anthology of BizarroShadowy Natures by Dark Ink Books, If I Die Before I Wake Volume 3, and the Scare You to Sleep podcast

Learn more at leerozelle.com

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Spotlight: The Life of Plants In A Changing Environment by Rishikesh Upadhyay

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Rishikesh Upadhyay for his latest release The Life of Plants In A Changing Environment.

The Life Of Plants In A Changing Environment

Book: The Life of Plants in a Changing Environment
Author/Editor: Rishikesh Upadhyay, PhD
Publication Date: 1st January, 2022
Page Count: 270
Genre: Environment, Nature, Botany, Ecology, Gardening, Reference 
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, United Kingdom


Synopsis

Plants experience stress due to environmental changes, either in biotic or abiotic form, during their life cycle. Non-heritable modifications in morphological, physiological or biochemical characteristics tend to reduce or decrease growth and productivity, and sometimes lead to death.

This book presents an exhaustive overview of the specific effects and modifications that could occur in this regards, and will serve to consolidate the ideas to promote standardization of plant adaptation to these changes in the environment. This book returns to the facts of both biotic and abiotic stress, detailing an essential aspect of plant life in the context of stress response.

The text is a comprehensive, current reference that effectively addresses issues and concerns related to plant stress in natural environments. Although many reference books about abiotic stress and other environmental stresses have been published, they all exist in relative isolation from one another, covering only one specific topic. This book is, rather, a comprehensive review of all aspects of the responses of plants to changes in the environment.

You can find Into the The Life Of Plants In A Changing Environment here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Google Books | Google Play


About The Author

Rishikesh Upadhyay

Rishikesh Upadhyay PhD, also known as R K Upadhyay, is a multi-award winning Indian author, Assistant Professor and research writer. He was born and grew up in a small Nepalis’ hamlet, Bhanjang Basti via Mahadev Tilla, just a few kilometres of Haflong, the district headquarters of North Cachar Hills (now Dima Hasao district), India to Late Pitamber Upadhaya (father) and Nandakala (Bawni) Upadhaya (mother). His research and teaching works has focused largely on the environmental physiology, stress biology and biochemistry of plants.

You can find author Rishikesh at:
Twitter | Goodreads | Bookbub


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Rick Rosenberg

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author of Jewbilly, Rick Rosenberg, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

At the ripe age of 9, Rick moved from the big city to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, aka the “Secret City.” It was around then he had his first experience with the literary world, publishing a short story in Grit Magazine. Somehow surviving a fraught, pimple-filled adolescence, he attended the University of Tennessee/Knoxville where he earned a Bachelors in Communications. Since then, he’s lived in multiple cities and has managed to win accolades for copywriting and screenwriting. He has one child adopted from Vietnam. Jewbilly is his first novel.

You can connect with author Rosenberg here:
Amazon Page


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

My first breath was taken when my mother birthed me onto the warm, wet leaves of the Borneo jungle. Although I couldn’t quite see yet, I sensed the wide, angry eyes of a proboscis monkey glaring at me. Ok, wait … that didn’t happen. How about this: I live an interesting dichotomy. For normal, everyday life events, I always show up early. Yet, for life’s big things, I’ve always been late. I was late to puberty. I got married later in life. I had a kid later in life. I wrote my first novel later in life. I’m also planning on showing up at death’s door as late as possible.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Yosef is the main character, and most of the book is written from his POV. But there are several chapters in the third person narrative about his parents and grandparents. Young Yosef’s mostly unaware of their histories, and I felt it was important to show why his folks were the way they were. What happens is the reader starts to understand his parents and grandparents better than Yosef himself does.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

The only one, true religion is love.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Well, I guess it makes sense since he’s the main character, but Yosef is my fave, for sure. He’s so innocent, yet so self-centered, while being funny and impressionable. It was really fun to write him. He’s also somewhat close to who I was at that age.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

JEWBILLY is a highly fictionalized version of my life when I moved from the big city to a small town in Tennessee. I didn’t have to look far for inspiration since it’s based (very loosely) on what I experienced. Over the years, I’ve also been very affected by Neil Simon’s stories. I think JEWBILLY has a similar vibe to a lot of his work. Years back, I took a comedy writing course taught by his brother, Danny. I got to know him and he used to talk about Neil all the time. So there’s a bit of a personal connection there, as well.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

All in all, it probably took a year and a half. I had the basic story and most of mycharacters in my head before I began.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

JEWBILLY is my debut novel, but I am working on a new one. It’s a different genre, so it’s a whole new challenge. As far as 5 years from today, I’d like to still be eating, breathing, and cutting my fingernails when and where appropriate. On a larger scale, it’d be grand to make the transition from an advertising copywriter (my current gig) to a full time novelist … that gets paid! Guess we’ll see.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

My new novel is about a Chicago couple who’ve been trying to have a baby. When they finally make the decision to adopt from Vietnam, they travel there, and something unfathomable happens. Soon, they embark on a crazy, dangerous journey in a country they know virtually nothing about.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

For me, the concept chooses the genre. I have all types of ideas; sci-fi, thriller, comedy- drama – so whatever genre the idea fits best with is the one I go with. But I think JEWBILLY is proving to be a “genre-bender” of sorts. Yes, it’s a coming-of-age story, but it’s also a religious story, a family story, a love story; it’s even historical fiction. This is probably not smart from someone trying to make a living as an author, but I try not to pay too much attention to genres. I think it can be stifling. But that’s me. Also what’s been interesting is that the JEWBILLY audiences who seem to enjoy the book are varying. Several editorial reviewers have said it’s perfect for young teens. That’s fantastic, of course, but all my very positive reader reviews – so far, anyway – have come from adults.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

My father wrote short stories. Although I’m not aware of any specific point where I realized I wanted to write as well, for me, it started when I was 11. That was when I wrote my first short story. It was published in a very, very, very, small children’s newspaper called GRIT. Afterwards, I started making small films. Then I went back to short stories. I eventually made the decision to become an advertising copywriter. I’ve had a successful career writing and producing everything from print ads to TV commercials to online videos. I’ve also written several feature screenplays. If I’ve sacrificed anything, it’s been sleep! Since I’ve had a day job for years, I would get up at 5am to work on the novel or a screenplay, then commute to work where I actually got paid for writing. No complaints, though. I can sleep when I’m dead.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

These days, I like to write from about 9:30pm to 12:30 or so. The house and neighborhood are mostly quiet, and as long as I’m not too tired, I’m usually fairly productive. But there are some nights when I write a paragraph and that’s it. I don’t sweat it, though; the next day will be more.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I’m a Mac laptop guy, Microsoft Word. I also use a bulletin board with yellow sticky notes if I have a thought I want to tackle later.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

My favorite books are Lonesome Dove, A Confederacy of Dunces, Love Story, The Prince Of Tides and Rabbit, Run. Also, anything by Michener, John Irving.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Depends on how you define writer’s block. In a sense, I don’t get writer’s block, because I learned long ago that creating a full outline and extensive character bios – BEFORE writing – would keep writer’s block at bay. And it does for me. If I’m stuck on a chapter, I just move onto the next one – it’s right there in the outline so there’s no excuse. But if I get stumped earlier, ON my outline, then that’s block, I suppose. Outline block? And yes, that happens sometimes. The best cure for any kind of writer’s block is to step away from it. If you’re a creative person, the ideas will come.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Run. Fast. Hard. Now! JK. Depends on the level of writer. If you’ve literally never put pen to paper (finger to key?), then just start writing. Anything; journaling, blogging, cursing. Whatever works, whatever you need to get words out of your head and onto your Word doc. Some people just need to write that first novel. Do it! Don’t think too hard about it. Just write. If it sucks, so what. You wrote. If you continue, you’ll either get better, or eventually quit. Either is fine. There are two amazing books I recommend for aspiring writers: “Bird By Bird” by Anne Lamott, and Steven King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” Also, Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman have Masterclass courses that are brilliant.

Thank you, author Rosenberg, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Jewbilly

Jewbilly is a funny, heartwarming, coming-of-age story about the importance of family, spirituality (wherever a person might find it!), and how friendships can really bloom in the most unlikely of places. Get ready to experience culture clash like never before as a young Jewish boy’s life is uprooted and relocated to the South – sparking a journey of growth, adaptation, and dramatic change.Yosef Bamberger is a typical, 11-year-old Jewish kid in 1973 Brooklyn; scrawny, naive, and excited for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. He lives with his extended family, and a not-so-extended penis that won’t grow no matter what Yosef does. Still, he’s mostly a happy kid. Until the night of his 12th birthday party. When his father arrives late, Yosef’s world is shaken beyond comprehension; a real oy gevalt on the Richter scale. Apparently, his Dad just got a new job – in a small town in Tennessee. They’re moving. Like a gefilte fish out of water, Yosef now has to not only navigate a completely different world, but he also has to find a friend. At least one. And he does. A Southern Baptist, highly-freckled, miscreant named Calvin Macafee.
With the help of his new companion, Yosef manages to balance two religions, while becoming involved in drugs, alcohol, sex, and a murder investigation – all in just under two years.


You can find Jewbilly here:
Kirkus | Goodreads | BookBaby | BookShop

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Ethan Avery

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author of Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire, Ethan Avery, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Ethan Avery believes in the power of stories. As a child growing up in Ohio, they gave him a chance to see a bigger world, and to hear what life was like for people that didn’t look like him or believe what he did. And now years later, he hopes to do the same for others. 

You can connect with author Ethan Avery here:
Author Website | YouTube | Twitter


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hi, I’m Ethan Avery, author of the upcoming novel Sword and Sorcery: Frostfire, thanks for having me! I guess a bit about myself now is that I work between writing novels and movies, so it’s storytelling for me all the way! In addition to the book coming out this month, I also have some exciting potential Hollywood movie news, but I have to be hush-hush about it for now. I’ll probably make an announcement later on YouTube or Twitter. As far as an introduction goes, instead of giving a long and boring list of awards and accomplishments, I’ll just say that I’m a storyteller. I studied at The Ohio State University with a focus on both storytelling as well as the social aspect of politics. Things like why people believe what they believe in a theoretical sense, as opposed to the individual issues themselves. And that’s actually been an invaluable tool as a fantasy writer.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Oooh, that’s a good one. I guess I’ll keep it spoiler-free. Sword and Sorcery is not only a fantasy adventure, but it’s written from multiple perspectives to really show the world through more than one person’s eyes. Primary socialization, which is a fancy term for how people learn about life in their youth, was one of my big points of study in college and that’s translated to helping me write the book, because the way you grow up truly does affect how you see the world.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Oh my, another good one. Personally, I try to keep myself from influencing a reader’s experience by telling them what they should or shouldn’t learn. Sword and Sorcery will probably be a book that different people get something different from, and that’s no problem to me. In fact, I’d love to hear from readers when the book releases about what they feel it might have been about. And I’m always open to connect on Twitter!

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Uh-oh, that’s the kind of question that gets writers in trouble, and honestly, I know people think it’s the easy-way-out answer, but I truly can’t choose. From the main cast to the most seemingly-insignificant little side-characters, they all feel to me like the most important person in their own little world, and I try my best to write them as such. Real-life, I think, is similar in that way, in that most people view themselves like the main character of their story or video game, but we all share this space together. In that sense I guess life is less like a traditional RPG game and more like an MMO or giant D&D campaign!

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I was honestly obsessed with fantasy as a kid, and still am now, of course! I’ve read, watched and played pretty much every kind of fantasy story I could get my hands on. Perhaps it spoke to me because in fiction, and fantasy in particular, we get a chance to remove ourselves a bit from the biases of our own world and see the problems societies go through from a fresh, more objective perspective. And I think there’s a lot we can learn from that.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Sword and Sorcery was written over the course of about 15 years, so it’s been a blast crafting and building the world of the book, which is always one of my favorite parts of making fantasy stories!

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

Whew, that’s a tough one, hopefully I’ll have written a few more novels.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am indeed. Other than the secret movie project, and another book in the Sword and Sorcery series, of course, I’m also beginning to develop another series, but it’s still very early in the creative process at the moment.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

Ah, perfect timing on that question. The series I’m starting to develop is a sci-fi universe, so I’m definitely a multi-genre kind of storyteller.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

It happened in several parts. I had a few poems published when I was like 14, and that gave me the confidence to be like, you know, maybe I can do this. But even though I was working on Sword and Sorcery then, I didn’t really have much direction in terms of how to pursue getting a novel published. So I wrote a bit here and there and kind of put the story off to the side. Fast forward a few years and I’m doing film and animation in college and learning screenwriting, which shares the basics of storycrafting with novel writing, but they both branch off in their own fun and interesting ways. And it was here I think I truly realized I’d become a storyteller. I had a college exam once worth a big portion of the grade for the class, and I skipped it to finish a story I was working on at the time. And I also remember a moment listening to Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow, in the Ron Howard/Jay-Z Made in America documentary, where Andrew mentions that he once pictured himself going back to school and becoming a rich lawyer, and then he realized that if he did that, all he’d want to do once he got there was make music. Anywho, after skipping that college exam, I worked on a lot of film stuff for some years, and yes, there were some rough years but I did indeed survive, then when I had more time on my hands in 2020, due to the pandemic, unfortunately, I decided to dust off my old Sword and Sorcery notes and finally finish the story.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I do a lot of outlining, which is sort of ridiculous because most of the time I end up writing pretty spontaneously and going away from said outline. But when working in a world as big as the one in Sword and Sorcery, it’s nice to at least know what my plan was before I deviated to something else that I think is better.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Desktop computer for sure. It’s gotta go there eventually anyway, so it’s easier to just start that way, though I still jot down scenes or notes on my phone or notebook when I’m away from my pc.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

Oh no, I’ve been put on the spot. I honestly can’t choose, mostly because the list is forever updating. I’d be remiss not to mention anything though, so how about I recommend Michelle Knudsen’s highly underrated Trelian series. And I think people that have read both of our books will know exactly why.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

It’s honestly never been a problem for me. If I’m stuck on a scene where I know the ending I’m writing for it isn’t right or I don’t know what scene to go to next, I just jump to a different part of the story and start writing that. And if it’s a more deep-rooted problem I’m having, like plot/character stuff, I usually get up and take a short walk to clear my head. By the time I’m done, I almost always have a solution!

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Figure out if you want to do this. Or need to do this. And if you need to do it, what kind of writing do you need to do? There are writing jobs out there that are a lot less hit or miss than being a novelist or screenwriter. You might find you enjoy telling stories as a columnist, journalist or even starting a cool and awesome blog like The Reading Bud!

Thank you, author Avery, for your honest (and fun) answers!

About the Book

Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire

If you could change your life by trusting in a stranger… would you?

Erevan has a problem. He grew up on the unforgiving streets of Bogudos and has the scars to prove it. His friend, however, is stuck in jail because of his mistake. But when a suspicious courier offers him a chance to fix things, should he lift his sword and journey across treacherous lands to aid her cause?
Meanwhile, Aireyal has been accepted into the wealthiest and most prestigious magical school in all the land. There’s just one problem. She can’t do magic. But that’s far from the only secret within the walls of Darr-Kamo. And what she discovers might just change the world.
Swordsman & Sorcerer
Scholar & Spiritualist
All four have enemies. And all four need help to get what they want. But help is never free.

What would you sacrifice to get what you most desire?


You can find Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire here:
Amazon | Goodreads

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Brett Shapiro

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author of Those Around Him, Brett Shapiro, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Brett Shapiro is an American writer and the best-selling author of L’Intruso – a memoir published in Italy (Feltrinelli) that was later produced into an award-winning film and theatrical production. He is also the author of two children’s books, one of which was the recipient of Austria’s prestigious National Book Award. Several of his short stories have been performed in theatres throughout Italy, where he lived for 25 years, and his essays and articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers in Italy and the United States. While in Italy, he made many guest appearances on Italian television, including as commentator for 60 Minutes, and was a regular guest lecturer at the University of Siena. Brett is a veteran writer for the United Nations and currently lives by the beach in Florida.

You can connect with author Shapiro here:
LinkedIn


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Now this is a challenge: an introduction (brief or otherwise) about a life lived for 66 years and still going strong! I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and moved to Manhattan after university to pay my dues as a budding writer who thought he could change the world – and to make the necessary connections to do so! After 11 years in the Big Apple, I moved to Rome, where I lived for 25 years with my partner and our two sons. When my partner and I uncoupled (very amicably), I decided to return to the USA, where I chose a quiet beach spot in order to shift into a lower gear.

I wake up early each morning and walk to the beach with my dog to watch the sun rise. I spend no more than three hours a day doing my “bread and butter” work – drafting and editing documents for the United Nations and giving writing webinars for UN staff all over the world. The rest of the day is mine to do with as I please. I am semi-retired, after all! In those free hours, I always put in at least two hours of writing each day. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Those Around Him is a meditative book. I was more concerned with how people think about the things that happen to them; less concerned with the things that happen in themselves. Of course, there is a plot and an arc, but they tend to be unremarkable undulations, as life often is. There is a lot of “interiority” going on in the book, but of the accessible kind. Promise! 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I’m not sure there is a message that I’m trying to convey in the book. It’s more of a mood, a rhythm, a way of turning things about in our heads that I’m trying to capture and tame so that readers think “Oh my gosh, I can relate to that,” detail after detail, page after page, and in an enriching way.  

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I’m sure I sound like a parent when I say that I don’t have a favorite. I really care about all of my characters, complete with their various crimes and misdemeanors. I have to care deeply about each and every one of them; otherwise, their complexities won’t emerge and they’ll wither on the page.  

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I would say it was an idea that inspired me more than anything else – the power that youth and beauty can have over someone whose own youth and beauty have long since faded. The power to create minor disturbances and to unsettle. A “Death in Venice” kind of theme, but the similarities stop there. Thomas Mann is Thomas Mann.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

There was about one year of what I call “writers’ avoidance”, where ideas about the book were percolating in my head but not spilling over onto paper. Once I overcame that, it took me two years to write it.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

My only writing ambition is to continue playing with words every day. I wouldn’t even call it an ambition. For me, it’s more of a necessity – like continuing to eat clean or to walk along the beach at sunrise. I’d be perfectly content if, five years from today, the routine of my daily life remained unchanged and I was still in excellent health – and with another novel or two under my belt.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I completed another novel – Late in the Day – about eight months ago; after making the rounds of publishers, it should be going to press this summer or autumn. I am also about one-third of the way through the first draft of another novel, provisionally called Henry’s Version.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

My novels fall into the category of literary fiction (although I’m not really sure what “literary fiction” means). I didn’t choose the genre and then proceed to write myself into it. I write, and my writing consistently falls into that genre. I don’t think I could write in multiple genres. I’m not in my skin with a lot of “multis”. I can’t be working on multiple stories at a time. I can’t be reading multiple books at a time. But I’m a whizz at putting together a five-course meal in no time flat.   

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

The writer imperative struck when I was a teenager. I always enjoyed reading books as entertainment, but during adolescence I realized that books could be so much more (thank you Virginia Woolf, Thomas Hardy and a slew of others). As I was reading and marveling over these books (and reflecting on them long after I’d closed the back cover), I was also thinking, “I want to do this too. I must do this too.” Against my parents’ wishes, who wanted me to be a doctor, I majored in literature. All I wanted to do was read great books, analyze them and write papers about them. My parents refused to pay tuition for such “nonsense”, and I had to work full-time while going to university. This double life, which seemed so unfair at the time, actually served me extremely well, as it was a division that I’d have to face and manage carefully even after graduating: I needed to work, I wanted a family, I needed to write, and I wanted to do all of them well and with pleasure. During the years of raising my sons, my writing output certainly decreased. But the books I managed to have published during those years were successful and kept me in the writers’ loop, which was important to me – if only to stave off my parents’ admonition, “What nonsense”. When my sons left the nest, I dug back into writing longer works, and I carved out a space of time each day in which to do so.    

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

My writing ritual is quite simple. I write best when I feel that all the business of the day has been taken care of. For years, I have made 5:30 until dinner time my writing slot. By 5:30, I’ve finished my quota of UN work, my errands, my phone calls, and my domestic chores. I can afford to be untethered and spin off into my creative zone. Of course, this means that I might eat dinner at 7:30 or I might eat it at 10:00. (Fortunately, I eat a light meal.) I take my computer and whatever scribbles I may have made during the day to the screened-in front porch. Then I sit down and I write. I have a large back yard, with a deck and a pool. But it’s private, and I like to observe the occasional passerby while I’m writing. I’m not sure why. I think it has something to do with reminding myself that people are my main characters and that any idea I’m trying to elaborate needs to come through the characters in my book and not through an invisible but intrusive narrator. The front porch has beautiful shrubbery wrapped around it. Anyone who is walking down the street can’t see me, but I can observe them. Very sneaky. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I prefer using my laptop. I can see the words as they would appear on the page of a book, which helps me to scrutinize them better. Using a computer also enables me to keep the copy from getting too messy. I don’t work well with messy copy. I keep a sheet of paper and pencil by my side to make notes about things that might need addressing but that I don’t want to address during that particular writing session. I type up the notes on a separate document and review the notes the next morning to decide whether I should incorporate any of them when I return to the front porch in the evening.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

Trying to choose five favorite books is an impossible task. As soon as I set myself to thinking about it for more than thirty seconds, I find myself facing a mountain of titles. I’ll offer a knee-jerk reaction: American Pastoral; To the Lighthouse; Enormous Changes at the Last Minute: The Hours; and The Magic Mountain. I read these books years ago, some of them decades ago, and I still can’t shake them off. As far as authors, my knee-jerk reaction would be Philip Roth, Virginia Woolf, Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor and Grace Paley. I ask forgiveness of the scores of books and authors who didn’t make the list. You know who you are. 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I’ve never experienced writers’ block. When I sit down to write, something always gets written. It may only be one sentence in an hour, or it could be an entire page. But the page is never blank. What I used to experience was what I mentioned before: “writers’ avoidance” – continually finding reasons not to sit down to write. This was magically overcome when I attended a one-week writers’ retreat. There was something about a community of writers gathered together to share their work, critique the work of others, have discussions about writing in general – and, most importantly, disperse themselves onto verandas and benches and lawns to write for two-hour intervals each morning, afternoon and evening – that calmed me down and made me realize that the effort was a human effort, not a superhuman one.  

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

There is only one piece of advice, and it’s so commonplace that it seems almost banal: Write. Even if it’s only ten minutes a day (to start). Thinking about writing is a lovely idea, a noble idea, but it’s only an idea. 

Thank you, author Shapiro, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Those Around Him

Andrew returns to the beachside town of his father, Charles, who is dying. In the throes of middle age, Andrew is trying to come to terms with the fact that not everything is still possible, that horizons shrink and parts break, and that he may no longer be desirable – or desired. On one of his routine sunrise beach walks, he is greeted by Lex (whom he calls “Ex”), a young man whose physical beauty and emotional warmth and exuberance completely unsettle the quiet and measured rhythm that Andrew is trying to establish in his new home and his own advancing years.
The intimate relationships between and among the three generations of men, each with his own needs and hopes – and darknesses – unfolds during hurricane season. When the season is over, carrying off much with it, Andrew has begun to understand his place along the continuum and the quiet balance that he has been seeking amidst his wisdom and foolishness, and through the arrivals and departures of those around him.


You can find Those Around Him here:
Amazon | Goodreads

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Rhema Sayers

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Wind Out Of Time, Rhema Sayers, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Rhema Sayers is a retired physician who started in Family Practice on the Mexican border and then switched to Emergency Medicine after ten years. She loved the ER and spent the rest of her career being an adrenaline junkie. Her husband and she adopted three little girls from China in 1998-99. The girls are young women now, off living their own lives. Rhema took up writing when she retired and has had nearly one hundred articles and short stories published. Living in Arizona near Tucson, she and her husband and her dogs love the desert, the mountains, and the climate.

You can connect with author Rhema Sayers here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I have wanted to be a doctor since I was about 5 years old. One night our family dog chased a car and unfortunately caught it. Badly injured, we brought him inside. Upstairs from us lived a family whose daughter was my best friend and whose father was a surgical resident. The young doctor worked on that dog for hours. I stayed with surgeon and dog well through my bedtime, fascinated by what he was doing. Finally my parents retrieved me and put me to bed. During the night, Shiner died. But that did not dampen the flame the incident kindled within me. I was going to become a doctor.

After college, I applied to several med schools and was placed on waiting lists, eventually to be rejected. Then I met the love of my life. We were married within 7 weeks. We moved to the Boston area so that he could finish at MIT. Meanwhile, I once again started applying to med schools. University of Connecticut School of Medicine placed me on a waiting list and I got my acceptance letter in June. 

We ended up in Arizona on the Mexican border after med school and a family practice residency in Pennsylvania. A decade in, family practice was enough for me. I discovered that I hated office practice and loved the ER. I switched to emergency medicine and spent the next two decades in ERs, until I was no longer able to keep up the pace. Then I did urgent care for a few years and retired.

I have also always wanted to write and that was my plan for retirement. I thought I was pretty hot stuff as a writer. Then I started taking writing classes and discovered that I had a lot to learn. After several years, I have indeed learned a lot. I love writing, although procrastination is also a favorite pastime.

Since retiring, I have had over 90 short stories, historical and other articles, and even a couple of poems published. With that foundation, I approached the massive project of writing a novel.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I had a wonderful childhood with parents who loved all three of their children. I got a good education and never went to bed hungry. Basically, I did not have the background to write the ‘Great American Novel’. I was happy and had no major psychological scars. I wanted to write a novel that would entertain people, that would take them elsewhere for a few hours, that would make them laugh and possibly cry but would not make them feel uncomfortable. I wanted to write something beguiling but not dark and gloomy. The result is Wind out of Time.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

A strong woman can do whatever she needs to do. And when you find yourself in an untenable situation, you do not stand around wringing your hands and sobbing. You do whatever it is that you have to in order to resolve the problem.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Actually I really love Denim, the blue roan stallion with a wicked sense of humor. But I like Andrea a lot, too. She is smart, not easily daunted, has a good sense of humor, and loves animals. I’m afraid I based her on my idealized concept of me. Obviously I need to get my self-esteem under control. But I don’t cook and she has a passion for it that I just don’t understand.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I have always been so annoyed by the Arthurian legends. Everyone is so noble and so damnably stupid. They always, always do the wrong thing. So I brought in a moderator, someone who knows that the wrong path will lead to disaster. She steers the characters down the ‘right’ paths gently – or with a cattle prod if needed.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Three years. But I’m about ¼ through the second book now.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I hope to have written another 3 or 4 books, along with a large number of short stories and articles. I just had an article come out in The Desert Leaf, a local upscale magazine. The article is about Gleeson, Arizona, a ghost town in Cochise County near Tombstone. It was a boom town in the late 1800s with mines producing silver, gold, and lead. I write a lot about the history of southern Arizona and have gained enough knowledge to become a lecturer on the subject.

My favorite stories have a lot of action. Right now I have about seven stories sent out to magazines with hopes of getting them published.

I want to make Wind out of Time a trilogy and am writing the second book now. I also have a novel in the back of my head about an emergency department woman physician in Tucson who finds a body in the desert when she’s running with her dogs. She’s already becoming attracted to a TPD homicide detective. I plan to follow it from two points of view: the doctor and the killer.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Oh, yes. A number of them. I am researching a story about the Mountain View Hotel in Tucson, a highly popular hotel whose clientele included Buffalo Bill Cody, senators, and other politicians, run by William and Annie Neal, a black couple who defied the color barriers in the early 1900s. I am also writing a science fiction story, a story of a dog and a young man who find each other, and a story about a sparrow. 

My stories tend to be eclectic. I wander around through the genres. I don’t do erotica, but I have written a horror story that I’m trying to sell. I write whatever occurs to me at the moment. The first story I sold was about a man who was so boring and so bored with his life that one day he sat down on the bench at the subway station and evaporated. The kid who stole his clothes found it really weird.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I write murder mysteries, dog stories, bird stories, fantasies, horror stories, medical stories, and some stories that are just plain odd. I let my imagination run wild. Unfortunately, sometimes it comes to an abrupt halt and refuses to go any farther. I have a dozen stories tucked away, looking for an ending, because my imagination refused to go any farther.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I discovered that I could spin tales when I was just becoming a teenager. I found my own imagination rather fascinating even though that sounds sort of egotistical. But I wrote stories and some very bad poems in high school. In college I took enough creative writing courses and literature courses that I ended up minoring in English lit. But then I met my love, married, and started med school. I kept a diary intermittently while I was a doctor, but it turned out to be very intermittent. It wasn’t until I retired that I had the time to write.

As far as sacrifices are concerned, the most I’ve given up for a story is lunch. I read voraciously and listen to books in the car, hoping some of the brilliance of the authors will rub off on me.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I sit down at the computer, play a few games, then go to whatever I’m working on. I write a few sentences or pages, sometimes play a few more games, depending on whether I have any idea of where I’m going with the story. As I said, I’m very good at procrastination.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I love my PC. On rare occasions, I may take a notebook with me to an appointment and spend the downtime writing. Usually something new, whatever pops into my head.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

  1. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Witches of Karres – James Schmitz
  3. The entire Honor Harrington series and the Safehold series – David Weber
  4. Wasp – Eric Frank Russell
  5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

While I wouldn’t rank any of his books with these five, I absolutely love John Sandford, especially the Prey series. Also Craig Johnson and Walt Longmire, David Rosenfelt and Andy Carpenter.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Basically I ignore it. If I can’t write, I can do housework, wash dogs, take a nap, pay bills, or engage in any number of other thrilling activities. Eventually I go back to the computer.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Write. Every day. Your first work will usually be poor. You’re a newb. What do you expect? Keep on writing. Take courses in creative writing at your local college or junior college or on-line.

Remember – the more you write, the better you’ll get. 

And then rewrite. Not once or twice, but ten, fifteen, twenty times. 

That’s all – write and rewrite. Every day. 

Also – remember that you will never be published if you don’t submit your work to editors who will criticize what you’ve done. 

That’s their job. You need to learn to roll with the punches. 

Good luck.

Thank you, author Sayers, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Wind Out Of Time

FBI Special Agent Andrea Schilling is chasing a terrorist around the world when they both are forced to go through a time portal. To her horror, Andrea finds herself in the 5th century in King Arthur’s court. Seriously?
When she can’t return home, she takes over the kitchen, becoming chief cook for King Arthur. But this king is named Ardur, and resides in a falling down castle where the knights are lecherous drunks. Andrea finds the situation untenable. So, with the help of a perplexed king, two huge dogs, a bad tempered stallion, the servants, and Guinevere, Andrea transforms the kingdom of Camdhur to Camelot. Well, almost.  
The ancient legend is turned on its head as a strong woman, organized, smart, trained to fight, takes the kingdom apart and puts it back together again, along with the king’s heart.


You can find Wind Out Of Time here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Atmosphere Press

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Kara Jacobson

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Kara Jacobson, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Kara Jacobson resides in the beautiful, rolling hills of Red Wing, MN with her husband and young son, Logan. She and her husband both work at the local hospital, where they first met. Born with an insatiable appetite for science fiction, Kara has always been intrigued with the notion of entire civilizations existing within the earth. She was a New Media Film Festival (2021) nominee for The Intra-Earth Chronicles, Book I: The Two Sisters.

You can connect with author Kara Jacobson here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hello, Beautiful Book-loving Friends! My name is Kara Jacobson and I am a little on the shy side. I adore my family, nature, friends, art of any fashion, movies (Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones are a few of my all-time favorites 😊) and fantasy books! 

Yes, I am a daydreamer, always walking in two worlds: the mesmerizing and shimmering one playing in my head, and the ordinary, everyday one of working in a hospital pharmacy and taking care of my family (a husband, son, and two cats). Maintaining the perfect balance of both worlds is crucial!

When I first set out on my writing quest, I tried my hand at writing movies. I must admit that writing movies is an art that I have yet to master.  
Please view my projects on my author website: https://karalynejacobson.com/

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Pictured above is Sasha. She is the intuitive older sister (15 years old) with a red diamond-shaped birthmark on her forehead.  Sasha’s diamond-shaped birthmark tingles before she receives a premonition.  This picture is in black-and-white in the book.

Adrianne is the younger of the two sisters (11 years old) and is the fierce girl depicted on the cover with the tiger.  She wears a brass hair clip in her crimson hair that conceals a tiny, sharp knife. 

The initial inspiration for Adrianne was, actually, a real person!  Adrianne was inspired by my childhood friend, Bria Gehringer.  Bria was an only child who lived down the rural Wisconsin highway from me.  She was charismatic, free-spirited, fearless, and harbored a deep connection to the animal kingdom (she had a ton of pets: dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, rats, and an iguana, all of whom she called siblings) and I remember her dying her hair bright red at least once.  She saved me from ultimate loneliness as a kid as I accompanied her on many childhood adventures.  

The rest of the characters in this story have been completely conjured from my imagination.

A fun fact: The Intra-Earth Chronicles; Book I: The Two Sisters, was selected as a nominee for the New Media Film Festival 2021 (They accept books under their scripts category!).  Here is a link to the Q&A Session for The Two Sisters: https://medium.com/authority-magazine/kara-jacobson-5-things-you-need-to-know-to-become-a-great-author-f0d4a82e511

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

That there is always hope for a better tomorrow even when outer circumstances appear most dire.  

Sasha clung to the hope that Adrianne was still alive and living inside the ravine, which drove her to set off on this adventure across the desert. 

Adrianne never relinquished the hope that she could commandeer a nuclear machine that could revive a dying civilization.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Adrianne, because she is absolutely fearless!

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

In my early 20s I had the chance to attend a “Walk-Ins International Conference” in Las Vegas. The group took a tour to a park outside of Reno, NV where there were large, intricate stone circles in the ground that were places where they believed that the inner earth beings were close to the surface.  This concept blew my mind, and I have been actively exploring the subject ever since! 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Seven months.  It would have been faster, but I have a 4-year-old son and suffer from a multitude of distractions, internal and external. 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I would love to occupy the ranks of true “author” vs “writer of stories for my own joy”.  Or, compromise on an amalgamation of the two.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

The second book in the Intra-Earth Chronicles series is nearly complete!

I also have another book, Beneath Storm Mountain, currently being published by Pegasus Publishing (with a possible 2023 release date) that was first written as a movie screenplay.  The screenplay placed as a Semifinalist in the 2019 ScreenCraft Animation Contest.

Beneath Storm Mountain is a YA fantasy adventure that also takes place in the civilizations below the earth’s crust.  Two 15-year-old boys, Darren and Kale, star in this tale. While on vacation in South Dakota’s Black Hills, the boys discover an otherworldly relic in their fishing hole that is coveted by evil shadow beings. The boys meet a mysterious girl from the intra-earth, who leads the boys below to her technologically advanced civilization to hide them from the evil shadow beings that hunt them.

I have included scenes from Beneath Storm Mountain, illustrated by Brendan Kulp.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I adore middle grade!  I also write YA, but prefer middle grade. My constitution is a bit sensitive, so middle grade is usually the easiest for me to digest.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

A 5th grade teacher (Mr. E.) once said to me, “Kara, you are a writer.”  I discarded this message at the time, but it must have remained ingrained in my subconsciousness, because now writing is what I feel most compelled to do!

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I do a meditation for receiving inspired writing and art, created by bj King, when I have time or remember. You may contact her at bjnamaste@gmail.com for the direct prayer. 

The meditation involves sealing the room on all sides from negativity, connecting a cord of light (or a lightsaber) into the great central sun at the center of the earth, opening your heart, and then inserting the light cord high above yourself into your own Oversoul or Higher-self.  A series of counting begins as you focus on your mid-brain.  This puts you into a higher state of consciousness and awareness, to begin the transference of automatic writing from your soul.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I do both, longhand with a pen and paper, and computer writing.  As inspiration strikes, I jot everything down into my pink notebook (as scribbles at midnight), and much later it gets transferred (often changing its form entirely) onto to the computer.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

  1. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (I love anything related to King Arthur and Camelot.  The Merlin series, starring Colin Morgan, was a smash hit at my house!)
  2. The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel
  3. Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan
  4. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  5. The Dead Zone by Stephen King

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I take a break and return another day when inspiration strikes.  I regret, admittedly, that I am not the most disciplined writer.  I truly write for only a few hours a week when I have the house all to myself.  Though I think about the story continuously.  

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Write what you yourself would enjoy reading or watching on the big screen!  Others will, hopefully, also enjoy your creations 😊.

Submit your books to Atmosphere Press—they are phenomenal!!  

Thank you, author Kara, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Intra-Earth Chronicles

The Two Sisters #1

In the year 2444, two noble sisters, Sasha (15) and Adrianne (11) have survived a nuclear fallout, only to be torn apart. 
The ground splits open and Adrianne is thrown from her horse, plummeting into the ravine.  Spurned on by the hope that Adrianne lives, Sasha embarks on a journey through the desert to face the ravine that claimed her only sister. Meanwhile, deep within the earth, Adrianne is running for her life. She took something that did not belong to her.
In The Intra-Earth Chronicles, Book I: The Two Sisters by Kara Jacobson we experience a fast-paced fantasy adventure woven within the earth, and the unshakeable bond between two sisters.


You can find The Intra-Earth Chronicles here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Atmosphere Press

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Spotlight: Into the Undercastle (The Shadow Arcanist #1) by Alexander Dawnrider

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Alexander Dawnrider for his latest release Into The Undercastle.

Into the Undercastle

Book: Into The Undercastle
Author: Alexander Dawnrider
Series: Shadow Arcanist
Page Count: 406
Publication Date: 31st January 2022
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Dawnrider Press


Synopsis

A kingdom in peril. A forbidden stronghold. An unimaginable horror.

For centuries, the northern kingdom has faced constant attacks from hostile creatures in the surrounding wilderness. The population has dwindled to a few hundred, and an army of savage humanoids threatens to wipe Talidith out forever.

Their only hope is the Undercastle, a subterranean fortress built long ago to protect the people during an invasion. But it has been sealed by a mad king, and entry is punishable by death.

The young fisherman Aedan, along with his father, must retreat with the rest of the population to the Undercastle to wait out the invasion, hoping for help from the outside. But when their presence releases an evil from another realm, it threatens to destroy not only what is left of Talidith, but the entire world.

You can find Into the Undercastle here:
WebsiteAmazon | Goodreads


About The Author

Alexander Dawnrider

Alexander Dawnrider grew up reading copious amount of science-fiction and fantasy. Wherever he went, there was a thick paperback in his hands, or stashed in his satchel, or waiting beside his bed. He absorbed the works of Asimov, Heinlein, Tolkien, Foster, and countless others. 

As he grew older, he applied his knowledge to the world around him. Each electronic appliance was really a robot ready to serve mankind. Each cat secretly knew how to walk through walls. It wasn’t anything so mundane as bears or foxes inhabiting the nearby forest, but fiendish orcs and goblins. And just beyond the stars was a young urchin with his flying minidrag. 

Now Alexander dwells in a lofty tower of a northern province, endeavoring to contribute to that fantastical world with his own ideas. When he isn’t busy madly scribbling away on the scraps of parchment that cross his desk, you can find him enjoying a grilled-cheese sandwich and tinkering with his time machine. His companions are an assortment of gargoyles and a small dragon named Sea Glimmer.

You can find author Alexander at:
Email | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Janet Kelley

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Janet Kelley from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Janet Kelley

Janet Kelley is a teacher, reader, writer, and feminist. A native of Hutchinson, Kansas, she studied Humanistic Studies and Religious Studies at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana. She studied Historical Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She earned her teaching credentials from Indiana University at South Bend. Ms. Kelley currently lives in Boston and Budapest. Ms. Kelley believes that books are the cornerstone of freedom and justice. Her work to support survivors of sexual assault was inspired by the writer V and The Vagina Monologues. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this novel will be donated to The Trevor Project. Please consider a donation to The Trevor Project to support their crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth.

You can connect with author Kelly here:
Author Website | Twitter


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Thank you for the chance to introduce myself beyond what you can read in my Author Bio. I am a high school English teacher with a passion for reading. Together with a friend I started a book club that still meets over twenty years later. I was thrilled to join them by Zoom during the Covid era. I started another book club in my city a few years ago. My book clubs read both classics and new releases, fiction and nonfiction. We recently decided to branch out into “reading” films and will even read and then attend a production of the stage adaptation of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

Beyond books I love being active—running, working out at my favorite gym, Orange Fitness Theory, and learning how to cross-country ski this season. In my spare time these days I enjoy making homemade jams, taking ukulele lessons, and drinking good coffee. (I also drink terrible coffee as needed.) I spend part of every year in Budapest, Hungary, where I have a home in the city center. I can spend an entire day at one of Budapest’s famous thermal water spas. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

My book deals with the impact of trauma in our lives. Much like how we experienced the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, trauma enters our lives seemingly out of nowhere. One day we are living our lives, and then in a flash our lives are changed by forces outside of our control or understanding. Sexual assault sometimes works in this way. (Sometimes sexual abuse is more insidious as perpetrators groom their victims.) This is why I set the story of Luke’s sexual assault in parallel with 9/11. I want readers to see the two events as similar–both are traumatic assaults that force us to consider how to respond. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I want readers to contemplate the plight of men and boys who are sexually assaulted. In the early 2000s the situation of men who were assaulted was dire. There were no pathways toward healing. The shame and the fear of being labeled as  gay often silenced men. The shameful silencing led to further damage. 

In Taint, I show how this damage extends to others. Luke was assaulted and confides in Rebecca. She tells his story and in fact decides for him how to make his rapist pay for the crime. I do not endorse her decisions. I want readers to harshly judge her choices even while they understand what forces caused her to act. 

I want readers to understand that male sexual assault happens and that we need to create both a safety net for victims and pathways toward healing. 

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

My favorite character in the book is Tiffany, the third friend in a group of three. She is earnest and well-intentioned. I like that she sticks with her friend Rebecca even when she faces ostracization. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I had been working with the issue of sexual assault and domestic violence for many years. I produced The Vagina Monologues for many years at our local university. There were several awesome vagina-friendly men who were active leaders in our group. They made me more sensitive to men’s assault stories. I grew very interested in the silence of male victims. I wanted to explore that in my work. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Well, a long time. I started writing it in 2006. I was teaching high school at the time. Then I started my family, moved across the country, and moved to Hungary. This novel was in a drawer for many years. I finally decided that its story needed to be told. 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I see myself with a new book in the next 5 years. I will continue to write poetry and short fiction as well. 

Are you working on any other story presently?

Of course! It is natural for me to have drafts floating around. In the past I kept a blog and tried to maintain regular writing practice. Now I am more into snatching time when I can—on the subway, waiting in line, while I am on a lunch break from a teaching job. I keep a small notebook for that purpose in my purse at all times. 

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I chose YA because it felt natural to me and suited the voice I wanted to explore. I am not too strict about genre. I like to bend the rules about genre and style. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I am a reader and a writer. I am a teacher. I am a mother. A wife. A friend. These all come naturally to me. The decision to publish was more fraught. My writing was always a personal habit born out of my teaching practice. Taking my work public required an extra push. For me that came due to Covid. The restrictions on life produced the feeling that I needed to push back against all the sorrow and suffering. I wanted to put my novel into the world as a positive push back. It was a way to say that I choose creativity and the life of the mind despite the fear and suffering. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

As I mentioned above, my practice has changed. I used to need two or three hours in the morning. I worked best in a cafe. I needed to be away from home and the lure of cleaning dishes.  I loved getting into the flow of writing for hours at a time. In many ways this is my ideal. I think it is necessary for the stage of writing when you are immersed in a long project. Now I have transitioned more into snatch writing–catching a few lines here and there. I have abandoned the need to protect long stretches at a time. It simply wasn’t happening with the demands of children, work, and Covid restrictions. I enjoy my new writing freedom. It gives me more of a writer’s eye–I am constantly looking at people, situations, setting. I listen and eavesdrop with a writer’s ear. I like the energy this brings to my writing. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Longhand with a pen in my journal. Laptop for longer pieces. 

What are your 5 favourite books?

When I was young I loved the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and stories about Ramona by Beverly Clearly. Growing up I was a huge Stephen King fan, until I got too creeped out reading Gerald’s Game. We used to sneak King’s novels beneath our desks during English class. I adored Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Now that I look back, reading was kind of what the boys did and my reading selections mirror that.  The other book that stands out as an influence was A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter, given to me by my grandmother.

In college I really discovered literature (I was a science/sports geek in high school). One of my majors was a Great Books program, which means we read works from the Western canon. Here is the stuff that moved me from college: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, A Passage to India by E.M. Forester, Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera, Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther, Pope’s Essay on Man, The Collected Stories of Flannery O’Connor and, of course, Shakespeare.

It has only been since I started to teach high school English that I began to seriously read like a writer. When I had to teach reading/writing/story concepts to 9th graders, I had to be able to analyze a story so that its mechanics were visible to my students (without destroying the magic, which gets dicey). Books/Authors that have moved me in this era include: Blindness by Saramago (really, a favorite), anything by Margaret Atwood or Louse Erdrich, Toni Morrison, Ian McEwan and Alice Munro among others. Most recently I finished Gaddis’s Carpenter’s Gothic and I am slightly obsessed. I can’t leave out the Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, now known as V, which I produced/directed for three years. In my recent reading history I would include the following favorites: The Overstory by Richard Powers, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, Elena Ferrante, Stoner by John Williams, Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro Kazuo, Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli, Hunger by Roxane Gay, and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I don’t believe in it! 

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Read and write a lot. Try to break some rules. For example, never limit your answer to only 5 favorite books when they ask. 

Thank you, author Kelly, for your insightful and honest answers!

About the Book

Taint

Rebecca White, a senior at the top of her class at Plains High School in 2001, is a Kansas girl going places…until the rape. She wants the rapist to pay for his crime and go to jail. Unfortunately, nothing is that simple, and she wasn’t the one raped.  
This is the story of how Rebecca seeks revenge for her best friend, Luke Warren, who was raped by the principal’s son, Weston. While the senior class chooses corsages and boutonnières for prom, Rebecca plots revenge against Weston. She must find a way to make him pay without revealing Luke’s secret. The solution she finds is chilling.
Set in a small town in the American Midwest when the terrorist attacks in New York City brought life to a standstill, Taint by Janet Kelley portrays how friendship and justice are tested when the unthinkable happens.


You can find Taint here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Atmosphere Press

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Teri M. Brown

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Teri M. Brown, author of Sunflowers Beneath The Snow, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Teri M. Brown

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown graduated from UNC Greensboro. She began her writing career helping small businesses with content creation and published five nonfiction self-help books dealing with real estate and finance, receiving “First Runner Up” in the Eric Hoffman Book Awards for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, finalist in the USA Best Books Awards for How To Open and Operate a Financially Successful Redesign, Redecorate, and Real Estate Staging Business and for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, and Honorable Mention in Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award for Private Mortgage Investing. In 2017, after winning the First Annual Anita Bloom Ornoff Award for Inspirational Short Story, she began writing fiction in earnest, and recently published Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others. Teri’s debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, is a historical fiction set in Ukraine. 

You can connect with author Brown here:
www.terimbrown.com


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I’m Teri M Brown, and I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a child, but at the time, it was linked with being a brain surgeon and Olympic ice skater! I loved to read and was always writing stories and poems. My mom recently gave me one she had saved that was written on the back of my grandma’s bank deposit slip! I read everything I could get my hands on and even had a special tree in the yard that I called my reading tree. 

But then life kind of got in the way. I got married, had children, divorced, and homeschooled. I remarried someone who was emotionally abusive. By the time that relationship was nearing its end, I no longer believed in myself. 

But, I was given an opportunity to go to a writer’s retreat, and from that moment on, the characters in my head wouldn’t shut up. I began writing again.

I’m now married (yes – again) to a wonderful man who supports me in all that I do. And he pushes me to be all that I can be. In fact, we recently rode across the US on a tandem bicycle from the coast of Oregon to Washington DC – 3102 miles. Not only did we raise $34,000 for Toys for Tots, but I found a way to heal from my past relationships. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The book is loosely based on a real-life story. I am friends with the granddaughter – Ionna – though that is not her name in real life. She was visiting my home and telling me this story that was too incredible to believe. I won’t tell you what it is because it would be a huge spoiler alert. But I knew that story had to be told. Unfortunately, there was no way to know what really happened – so I created a story to get to that ending!

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book? 

I want people to understand that even when life is kicking you in the gut, you can still find joy and happiness. It’s all in the way you choose to see what is happening.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

I like Yevtsye the most. She realizes she is gutsy and can do hard things. Plus, I relate to her in many of her experiences like postpartum depression, her angst with her mom, and the empty-nest feelings.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I pretty much answered this in #2. A friend told me an ending that needed a beginning, so I wrote it. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I was at Weymouth Writers in Residence in Southern Pines, NC for two weeks. I got the book out of my head and onto paper during that time. I then did a major edit, adding another 30,000 words during a one-week retreat I created for myself at my mom’s house while she was on vacation. The rest of the editing took about 80 hours of work over a month. However, it took me three years to get the guts to write the story!

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

This is my debut novel, and no one really knows who I am. In five years, I want all of that to change. I want a readership that looks forward to my next book because I have lots of books in my head. 

Are you working on any other story presently?

My next novel, An Enemy Like Me, is set during WWII. It features a man who is a first-generation German American who fights for the US in the war but finds himself in Germany. It looks at the angst of loving his heritage and loving his country. I explore this topic from his point of view, as well as his wife’s and his young son’s.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres? 

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow is a Historical Fiction/ Women’s Fiction. An Enemy Like Me is a Historical Fiction. However, I have two other stories that are Contemporary Fiction, and another that has a fantasy twist. I also have a great idea for a YA dystopian novel, a humorous women’s fiction, and two children’s storybooks. I don’t think I have a genre as much as I have characters in my head that need a platform. I tell people that I write character-driven fiction and the genre is chosen by the characters.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

It was very difficult to follow my passion. First, children and life kind of got in the way. I loved being a mom and homeschooled my kids, but that left little time to develop my own skills and follow my dreams. Marrying an emotionally abusive man sealed the deal. Although I wrote articles and blog posts for small businesses, I didn’t believe I was capable of writing a novel. But I met a friend who was a young mother and writing a book. She told me about this writer’s retreat, so I applied. I went for one week and wrote my first novel. It was no good. My characters had no depth. The story was too predictable. But I got it out of my head. Those fifty thousand words on paper gave me the courage to keep writing – and to leave my miserable marriage. Getting this book published is just the beginning of my dream.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I wish I had something crazy or unique to say here, but I don’t. I just write. If I have a computer and some free time, I write. I can write on the beach, in a coffee shop, in the car, or even in the middle of the living room with things going on. In fact, I tend to like a bit of household noise around me – complete silence is not my friend!

When writing a novel, I do what I call ‘word vomit.’ I simply let the story out of my head. I don’t worry too much about character development. I don’t do a lot of research for the setting. I just write the story down and get it out of my head. Once that is done, I leave the story alone for about a month and then begin the editing process. I prefer to have a big chunk of time set aside for this so that I can get the bulk of it done quickly. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I write almost entirely on a computer. I can type 80 words per minute, which is much faster than I can write longhand. Plus, when I go back to my notes, I don’t have to decipher my scribble! The only time I use pen and paper or dictation is to take a few notes that I will need later on or to capture an idea while I am out walking on the beach. 

What are your 5 favourite books?

Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (The first book I read that made me realize there was more going on than a cute little story), and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

For me, writer’s block means that there are other things pressing on my mind and taking up the space I need to write. The only way to get rid of it is to clear up those other things. Or at least take care of them enough that they are no longer ‘top of mind.’ I rarely get writer’s block. I think I spent too long not writing so my characters refuse to shut up even when life is busy!

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Write. Write. Write. If you have a story in your head, write it down. Don’t worry that it isn’t perfect. Don’t worry about anything. The more you write, the better you will get. It’s fine to take classes or get a degree, but don’t let that stand in the way of writing or be the excuse to keep you from writing. I also recommend learning a bit about marketing. You will love your book more than anyone else. It will be up to you to help people know it exists.

Thank you, author Teri, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Sunflowers Beneath The Snow

A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.
When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces – leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure the cold, starvation, and memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter’s deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?


In Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, Teri M Brown explores the tenacity of women, showing that even in grueling circumstances, they can, and do, experience all the good things life has to offer – compassion, joy, love, faith, and wonder.

You can find Sunflowers Beneath The Snow here:
Author Website | Amazon | Atmosphere Press | Goodreads

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Excerpt Reveal: Sunflowers Beneath The Snow by Teri M. Brown

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Teri M. Brown who’ll be sharing an excerpt from her latest release Sunflowers Below The Snow.

About the Book

Sunflowers Beneath The Snow

A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.
When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces – leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure the cold, starvation, and memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter’s deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?
In Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, Teri M Brown explores the tenacity of women, showing that even in grueling circumstances, they can, and do, experience all the good things life has to offer – compassion, joy, love, faith, and wonder.

You can find Sunflowers Beneath The Snow here:
Author Website | Amazon | Atmosphere Press | Goodreads

Excerpt

Chapter 1: 1973

Lyaksandro was aware of just three things. The slit of sun sneaking through the hurriedly closed curtains in an otherwise claustrophobic room. The air sucking into his lungs only to escape again in uneven gasps. And the unsympathetic, unyielding metal pressed against his temple awaiting his decision.

How had he gone from a simple man – Lyaksandro Hadeon Rosomakha – a university employee, a son, a father, and a husband – to a man facing a decision at the end of a gun? What had pulled him into a life littered with secret meetings, men with no names, and information passed in the hours between darkness and dawn?

Undoubtedly, the state police would slap an informant label on his forehead despite the mundane activities he was called upon to perform. His treachery was not the kind to find its way into the banned spy novels still wending their way through the eager hands of boys wanting to prove they were men. No, rather than the high-tension, clandestine meetings of books and movies, he merely passed along innocuous information on loose pages of lined notebook paper carefully taken from the university library that employed him.

Sometimes he was asked to provide a list of those visiting the library on any given day. Other times, he would be asked to provide the names of those who checked out certain books or inquired about specific topics. He’d even been asked to photocopy pages from manuals. He didn’t know what they were looking for. The link between a man named Bodashka Kravets and an interest in 4th century Ukrainian history, for example, was never explained. Nor did he truly know who was asking. His place in the resistance machinery was minor at best, and deadly at worst.  

In this moment, though not for the first time, he wondered if the information was actually worth dying for. He was simply a small gear in a huge network of informants. Yet, despite the inconsequential nature of the information he passed, he understood, if caught, he was unlikely to survive. Informants – spies – regardless of their importance, were not tolerated. At best, he might face permanent imprisonment in a psychiatric facility. At worst, he would be killed and unceremoniously dumped into the nearest ravine, never to be heard from again.

The cold metal pressed more urgently against his skull. Would he die here? The choice was his to make and his to live with or die from. Would he say yes? No? Beg for a different option, like a small child hoping to get a treat for lunch rather than carrots and beets?

Pictures from his life flashed into view, each one an arrow pointing toward the path leading him to this place, this time, this decision. Although he had no memory of his father choosing a strong name for a strong son, his naming had become a personal folktale with Lyaksandro as the hero. His father would hold his young son in his thick arms, smelling of sweat and freshly cut wood, explaining each part of his name in considerable detail.

“You, my son, are no ordinary boy, and you have been born into extraordinary times. I’ve given you a name to guide you – to show you what you are meant to be. You are Lyaksandro Hadeon Rosomakha.

“Lyaksandro. Defender of man. A protector and guardian of mankind. 

“Hadeon. Warrior. But not merely any kind of warrior – impetuous warrior. I want you to be willing to complete your mission without concern for the consequences as you seek after your cause.   

“Rosomakha. Wolverine. Ferocious and wild, yet intelligent. Connected to family. Willing to be alone but longing to be part of a community – preferably like-minded souls longing for something better in life.”

By the time he entered school, he recognized who he was and what kind of man he would become. His name said it all. 

A name, however, wasn’t enough fuel to propel someone forward if they weren’t willing to go. He was one Lyaksandro among many, and to his knowledge, they were all waking in their homes this morning while he drew in, what had the potential to be, his remaining breaths. 

Although he had been born under communist reign, his father never let the stories of the Ukraine he experienced as a boy die. In the same way he could recite the story of his name, Lyaksandro could narrate the stories of his home as it had once been before communism and the USSR. The community traditions, the dances, and the songs, even the acres and acres of sunflower fields fading into the horizon.

“Ah, the bechornytsi.” This word would sigh from his father’s lips turned upward into the closest thing Lyaksandro would ever see to a smile. “Once the crops were gathered and put up for the long winter to come, all the young people from the village would gather in a sparse building in the center of town erected specifically for occasions like these. 

“Such singing and dancing, Leki! Young men performing the Gopack, alternating between standing and squatting while energetically flinging their legs and feet toward the giggling young women who shyly observed in hopes of being chosen from the crowd for more personal attention. Older women embroidering along the edge of the makeshift dance floor, keeping time with their feet. Older men telling tall tales and laughing too loudly at their rude jokes, secretly wishing they still had the ability to dance at the end of a long day to titillate the ladies. 

“And the food. Oh, Lyaksandro, you have never seen such food. Varenyky, borscht, golubci, salo, papukhy. Everyone ate and talked and laughed long into the night. I met your mama at a celebration such as this.”

In spite of never witnessing the glory for himself, he missed it with a fierceness as immeasurable as his father’s – a man who died trying to gain back what had been forcefully taken away.

During the Shelest regime, Lyaksandro believed everything his father wanted for his beloved Ukraine was happening. He believed perhaps his father’s death had not been in vain. Novelists, artists, and film directors created their art with few restrictions. Ukrainian pride – something quite apart from Party loyalty – flourished. Lyaksandro had found, courted, and married Ivanna, and the two of them had a darling daughter. What more did a man need to be content? 

Except he had ignored the signs and pretended all was right with the world. He was blinded by the Politburo’s permissiveness and flattery and was unable, or unwilling, to see the truth, until, without fanfare, and more importantly, with very little protest, years’ worth of literature was ripped from the shelves. Any art deemed anti-Soviet or nationalist was burned. Dissidents, once tolerated with a mild slap of the hand, were incarcerated in corrective labor camps – ispravitelno-trudovye lageria, or insane asylums. 

Then, one fateful day changed the course of his life and brought him here, a man on his knees, at a fork in the road which would change the trajectory of his life. He realized he could no longer be a bleating sheep, following along with a timid “as you wish” while the Party elite dined on stuffed pheasant. He could no longer tolerate a gradual reformation of society, when all around him, those he loved suffered.

Despite his mother’s heroic efforts to keep him from taking up his father’s sword, Lyaksandro would do no less – could do no less. It was for this cause he found himself with a choice to live or die.

His name. His father. His love. His country. Each played a part that landed him in a dark alley – was it just last night? – instead of lying next to his wife of 12 years under a hand-stitched quilt, her soap-scented hair swirled on a pillow they shared. The pretense that all was well in his beloved country was over. This realization led him to seek out those who were actively making changes, while others only whispered about them, furtively looking around for Party finks. Ultimately, he had agreed to collect information to pass on to unknown carriers to squash communism and bring back the Ukraine his father had taught him to long for. 

Last night had been the culmination of two long years’ worth of effort. For months, he had been providing information through coded sentences in the still of the night, each time acutely aware that this could be the last time – each time lying to himself that this would be the last time. And yet, he ventured into various alleyways throughout the city on scheduled nights, again and again, delivering bits of information to further the cause despite these promises he made to himself while lurking in alleys in which he didn’t belong.

Three hours ago, maybe four, he had been standing in a pitch-black alley, fear wrapping itself around Lyaksandro like a jaded lover’s arms ready to administer another round of arsenic in the wine. Had he somehow known he would end up here, like this? His skin pricked on the back of his neck again, precisely as it had then, the small hairs standing at attention. He recalled the small sound, a distance away that had caused his breath to halt in his throat, fearing any sound might give him away. He had flattened himself against the doorway and listened intently, once again hearing the small but deafening noise. 

Such a minuscule sound would have been swallowed up in the bustle of the day, but there, in the inky darkness, it became ominous and menacing. Though he had willed it to be his contact, his sense of foreboding suggested otherwise. Never had he heard the approach before. In fact, he was often disconcerted at how swiftly and silently the contact arrived, asking for a light before Lyaksandro fully comprehended someone was at hand.

The sound, like soft scraping of metal against stone, happened again. Then again. More regularly. And closer. 

Lyaksandro carried no weapon, and though he was officially a spy, he had no training. Until this very moment, he had never considered what he would do if things didn’t go as planned. Nonetheless, some instinct, or perhaps the hand of God, had him drop to his haunches, seconds before a bit of brick where his head had been moments earlier burst into fragments and rained shards into his hair.

Whether he yelled out or not, he did not know, but it wouldn’t have mattered either way. A cacophony of noise instantaneously erupted in the once-silent night. Men’s voices mixed with explosions and the tinkling sound of broken glass. Running footsteps. The squeal of tires. And then silence again.

This could not be happening. He wanted to help his country, to provide a place for his wife and child to thrive. Nothing more. Certainly not this. He wanted only to be home with his wife and child, and tears flooded his eyes as he crouched against the wall, immobilized by fear.

Before he comprehended what was happening, someone grabbed Lyaksandro under the arm and hauled him to his feet. He threw his arms wildly toward the hand that gripped him, desperate to get away. He wasn’t a spy. He was merely a man. “Please, please. I don’t know what you want. I…” But before he uttered another word, a man in perfect Ukrainian said, “Come. Now. Quickly. We don’t have much time. They followed you here, hoping to catch two birds with one stone, but ended up with nothing to show for their night’s adventure, eh? Are you hurt? No? Come.”

One foot quickly followed the other as the man, carefully concealed under a cap and scarf, weaved in and out of streets and alleys, bringing him to a fourth-floor flat in a run-down, nondescript building. He threw some clothes in Lyaksandro’s direction. “Change. Quickly. No! Don’t use the light. Hand me your things.” Then, they were off again, this time, more slowly but not without purpose. Two more times, they ducked into buildings, changed clothes, and emerged again, the final time as others were beginning their morning routines. 

Lyaksandro realized with a joyful clarity that, unlike his father, he had lived. His joy, however, was fleeting as the man who saved his life said, “Here. Enter here.” As they moved inside, he gave Lyaksandro specific directions which seemed foreign and impossible to understand, consonants and vowels hobbled together but providing no meaning. “Sit here, in this chair so I can cut and dye your hair. We procurred documents for you. We will have you in London by this time tomorrow.”

“But…” Lyaksandro sat down heavily in the proffered chair, his mind reeling as he tried to take in the events over the past hour. Leaving his beloved Ukraine? Everything he did was to save this country, not leave it. And his family? What would Yevtsye think about leaving her homeland with a child in tow? It would make no sense to her. He needed to speak to her, to help her understand. “What about Ivanna? Yevtsye? When will they arrive? Where are their papers? They will be so frightened, so confused. I must explain everything to them.”

The man’s hand reached out and held Lyaksandro’s shoulder. “мій друг, my friend, the deal is for you. You, alone.”

Lyaksandro jerked away, wild eyes darting around the room. He would never leave his wife and child. They were the reason he did what he did. They were the reason for the risks he took. Without them, the midnight rendezvous made no sense. With a mixture of panic and resolve, he shouted, “No! No! They go, or I stay.”

Bending at the waist, bringing his face level with Lyaksandro’s, the nameless man who had saved his life hours before whispered slowly, as if speaking to a small child. “No. It is too late for ultimatums. We cannot get your wife and daughter. Your home is under surveillance. They watched you leave tonight. They followed you to the alley. They wanted to kill you. Your wife and daughter…they are…it is hard to say…where they might be?”

A wild, animal-like guttural groan escaped from Lyaksandro’s throat. His beautiful Ivanna. His beautiful Yevtsye. He had killed them. He regarded his hands, realizing they were capable of both stroking his wife’s cheek and effectively signing her death certificate. Had they started trembling in the alley, or only as he became aware of his new role as executor?  

More urgently, the man said, “Now. You must go now. We cannot permit you fall into your government’s hands. Doing so would cause far too many problems for us. Get up. Now.”

Mere seconds had passed. The man shifted his stance to stare directly into Lyaksandro’s eyes, the two men merely a gun-length apart. “Are you going? Or are you dying here?”

Twenty-four hours later, a shattered man, stripped of his Ukrainian name and his family, landed at Heathrow.


About The Author

Teri M. Brown

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown graduated from UNC Greensboro. She began her writing career helping small businesses with content creation and published five nonfiction self-help books dealing with real estate and finance, receiving “First Runner Up” in the Eric Hoffman Book Awards for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, finalist in the USA Best Books Awards for How To Open and Operate a Financially Successful Redesign, Redecorate, and Real Estate Staging Business and for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, and Honorable Mention in Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award for Private Mortgage Investing. In 2017, after winning the First Annual Anita Bloom Ornoff Award for Inspirational Short Story, she began writing fiction in earnest, and recently published Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others. Teri’s debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, is a historical fiction set in Ukraine. 

Learn more at www.terimbrown.com

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Spotlight: Sunflowers Beneath The Snow by Teri M. Brown

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Teri M. Brown for her latest release Sunflowers Beneath The Snow.

Sunflowers Beneath The Snow

Book: Sunflowers beneath The Snow
Author: Teri M. Brown
Page Count: 332
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Atmosphere Press


Synopsis

A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.

When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces – leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure the cold, starvation, and memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter’s deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?

In Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, Teri M Brown explores the tenacity of women, showing that even in grueling circumstances, they can, and do, experience all the good things life has to offer – compassion, joy, love, faith, and wonder.

You can find Sunflowers Beneath The Snow here:
Author WebsiteAmazon | Atmosphere Press | Goodreads


About The Author

Teri M. Brown

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown graduated from UNC Greensboro. She began her writing career helping small businesses with content creation and published five nonfiction self-help books dealing with real estate and finance, receiving “First Runner Up” in the Eric Hoffman Book Awards for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, finalist in the USA Best Books Awards for How To Open and Operate a Financially Successful Redesign, Redecorate, and Real Estate Staging Business and for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, and Honorable Mention in Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award for Private Mortgage Investing. In 2017, after winning the First Annual Anita Bloom Ornoff Award for Inspirational Short Story, she began writing fiction in earnest, and recently published Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others. Teri’s debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, is a historical fiction set in Ukraine.

Learn more at www.terimbrown.com


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Danielle Dayney

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Danielle Dayney, author of When Love Sticks Around , for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Danielle Dayney

Born and raised in Ohio, Danielle Dayney got her start writing rock concert reviews for a Toledo-based music magazine, THE GLASS EYE. Today, her work has appeared in the FREDERICKSBURG LITERARY AND ART REVIEW, online at HUFFINGTON POST, DEAD HOUSEKEEPING and THE MINDFUL WORD, and in several anthologies.

Her first book, WHEN LOVE STICKS AROUND, is out now.

You can connect with author Dayney here:
Author Website | Newsletter SignUp | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I have lived in four states: Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Virginia. Though Virginia is my favorite, I will always think of Detroit, Michigan as a “home”. I have two children, both girls, and two dogs, both doodles. And I have been married for almost seventeen years to my very best friend.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

This book is mostly about relationships; my relationship with my mother, my relationship with my stepfather, my (mostly) non-existent relationship with my biological father, and eventually my relationship with my husband and his family. 

While in the research phase of writing When Love Sticks Around, I interviewed aunts, uncles, my sister and my stepfather for pieces to my story that were a little blurry. My family answered any questions I had, even if they seemed ridiculous at the time. The only person who would not talk to me or share any stories with me was my biological father. To this day, unfortunately, we don’t speak.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book? 

The one message I’m trying to get across in this book is that love doesn’t always look like the typical thing we see in movies. Sometimes loving is merely the opposite of not loving; sometimes the smallest gesture, like sticking around, is love.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

Because this is a memoir, some people may assume that my favorite character is myself, but that’s not the case. My mom is my favorite character in this book because she was so kind and selfless, but she also had an Irish temper, which made her fun to write. Plus writing her character helped me understand her a bit more.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

Shortly after my mom passed away, I had a dream about her. I was on a playground surrounded by a field of tiny white flowers with my daughter. In the distance there were two young girls wearing white dresses, swinging on an old metal swing set. I think the girls were me and my sister. As my daughter climbed the slide ladder, I noticed my mom walking toward me. She was also dressed in white, surrounded by tiny butterflies. When she was within arms’ reach, I hugged her. She said to me, “I’m okay now. I’m okay.”

When I awoke in the morning, I started writing about her – stories to remember her life, stories that made myself cry, and stories that I simply didn’t want to forget. That was in 2012, and though none of the stories I wrote back then are in my memoir, it was still the inspiration for this book, and also for my return to writing.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

A very long time, haha. It took me several years to put the pieces of this book together, a year to edit it and, after a publisher picked it up, another year to edit and proofread with my project manager. So about four or five years, give or take.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

Five years from today I see myself with a few more books published, one more memoir and hopefully a couple novels. I also see myself taking more writing classes, or maybe even going back to school for my Masters’ degree.

Are you working on any other story presently?

I am currently working on a second memoir about parenting with anxiety, and the first draft of that is close to being done. I’m also working on a novel set in Detroit, Michigan. 

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres? 

I dabble in fiction and poetry, especially when I feel stuck with whatever I’m currently working on in nonfiction, but writing memoir is my favorite. I started experimenting with short memoir pieces about six years ago to decode what was happening in my life and head. It’s my way of processing events and shedding light on the feelings involved with them. I really fell in love with the memoir style and have continued working at it since.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

There are several moments in my life that helped me decide to be a writer. First, in second grade my teacher took me to the local Young Authors Conference. I met Bernard Waber, the author of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, and he signed my book in green pen. Second, my first college English professor asked me to write for his music magazine called The Glass Eye. I interviewed bands and reviewed concerts. It wasn’t a bad gig. 

Even still, when I moved away from home, I stopped writing for a few years. I was busy with college, working as a part-time paralegal and raising my first daughter. I returned to it after my mom passed away in 2012, and I haven’t stopped since.

The thing I’ve sacrificed most to become a writer is sleep. I wake up very early every morning to write/edit/work on social media.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

Like I said above, I write very early in the morning while everyone in my house is asleep. I pour myself some coffee and head to my home office. My writer-brain works better in the morning.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I prefer to mind map and write my first drafts by hand, then complete my first edit as I type it on my computer.

What are your 5 favourite books?

It’s so hard to narrow it down! I think one of my favorite fiction books would be The Help by Kathryn Stockett. My two favorite memoirs are More Now Again by Elizabeth Wurtzel and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. My favorite thriller author is probably Lisa Jewell, as I’ve loved every book of her’s that I’ve read. I also love anything by Mary Karr, another memoir author.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

For me, writers’ block is an inevitable part of writing. It doesn’t happen very often, but it happens more than I’d like. When I have it, I like to take walks by myself, or listen to music relating to what I’m writing about. Sometimes that helps loosen the block.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Read. Take classes if you are able. And write ­– a lot.

Thank you, author Dayney, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

When Love Sticks Around

Hand-me-down pants that don’t quite fit, twilight bike rides down sleepy neighborhood streets, sweaty family camping trips, the things that almost break you, and the things you barely notice-it’s hard to see the shape of your life until you’re looking back on it.
In this collection of short essays, Danielle Dayney recounts her experiences as an awkward child in the piecemeal family that raised her. From her biological father’s absence to her mother’s battle with cancer to the birth of her daughter, Dayney’s stories venture beyond anecdote to nest safely among the tangled experiences that shape the people we become. With a keen eye for the pebbles of humor and glimmers of beauty along the rough roads of her life, Dayney has crafted a book that feels as familiar as a home-cooked meal and as exciting as the first night in a new city.


When Love Sticks Around is a memoir of love, loss, humor, identity, and above all, family-the one you’re born into and the one you gather along the way.
Those are the things worth sticking around for.

You can find When Love Sticks Around here:
Amazon (.com) | Amazon (.in) | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Michelle McConnell

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Michelle McConnell from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Michelle McConnell

Michelle McConnell lives in Atlanta with her son, mother, and two cats. As someone diagnosed with Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorders, she states: “With my book, I want to rip a hole through the veil of mental illness so that others may understand and help their loved ones who may be suffering in silence. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Being ignored and neglected is a much worse fate for the mentally ill than having a caring friend asking questions in order to understand.”

You can connect with author McConnell here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I am a graphic designer, artist and musician. I also enjoy hiking. My first half of my life was spent battling an unknown illness. I have been managing my bi-polar for the past decade. It took a while to find the right medication. Anyone who is going through the medication process should be patient; it takes time to find the right combination of prescriptions. Don’t give up! There is life beyond the illness. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I began compiling my diaries and journals about 15 years ago, so it took a long time to complete. It was therapeutic to share my story for others to read, in hopes that they may seek the help they need sooner than I did since I didn’t even realize I had an illness. It took five mental hospital stays before I was properly diagnosed. I lost most of my friends due to my erratic behavior, which I share in the book. I hope my book helps at least one person who’s experiencing similar behavior and can’t understand why. 

Why did you choose this particular theme for your book? What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I chose the theme of mental illness since I suffer with it. I want the readers to recognize mental illness, and help a friend or relative who may be exhibiting similar behavior. Being bi-polar is not something that can be controlled alone. There are many misconceptions about mental illness, most of them being negative stereotypes. I hope to share that mental illness comes in many forms and is treatable, given time and patience. I would like the reader to know that mental illness is a physical disorder, a chemical imbalance in the brain, which is treatable.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I got the idea of writing this book one day when I was cleaning out my desk and found a collection of forgotten journals and diaries. I began by putting them in date order, then transferring the entries from written to typed format. I used these entries as an outline, and I edited and rewrote entries for the next fifteen years.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Fifteen years, off and on.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I don’t plan on writing another book. In five years, I see myself in a healthy, calm place.

Are you working on any other story presently?

No, and I don’t plan to write another book.

Do you also dabble in fiction?

Part of my book is fiction. I based it on real experiences, then elaborated and created credible scenarios. So, my book is both non-fiction and fiction. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

During the last ten years, I really began to believe that I could actually write a book. The biggest sacrifice has been my relationship with my mother, which was always troubled, but really unraveled after the book was released. There are many aspects of my life she doesn’t remember due to her heavy drinking. I try to keep on good terms with her, but the relationship is strained.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I spent most of my writing hours in a local pizzeria where I felt comfortable and enjoyed the public interactions. Sipping on wine while observing life around me inspired me to keep writing. Working on my book alone felt more depressing, so I really enjoyed sitting somewhere public.

Is writing your profession or do you work in some other field too?

I work two part-time jobs: one as a graphic designer for a magazine, and the other as an office manager for a small company. Writing is not my primary profession, but I respect people who can turn their writing into commercial success.

What are your 5 favourite books?

Two books which are similar are Go Ask Alice, which was anonymously written, and Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness by Patty Duke and Gloria Hochman. They both inspired me to write my memoir. 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I worked on different sections of my book, so if I had Writer’s Block, I skipped to a different chapter and tried my luck there. Since I had an outline of a book, it was easy to move to a different section. 

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Be brave. It is frightening to share one’s life experiences with the public. It feels rather like walking to the edge of a cliff. Don’t let that deter you. If you want to share your thoughts and ideas, a piece of yourself, know that you can do it. It will be a rewarding, therapeutic experience. You can do it!

Thank you, author McConnell, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Memoirs Of A Manic-Depressant

Harvey Doucet, a reasonably good Catholic, would never have committed suicide.
His son, Harvey Jr. – H – knows this, so after Doucet Drilling causes the collapse of a salt mine and thirteen deaths, H searches for clues to clear his estranged father’s name.  H and his father’s bodyguard, Placide, encounter dangerous cliffhangers, as the pursuers become the pursued. On the way, H exposes greed, fraud, and corruption, leading all the way to the White House.
In Pillars of Salt by J.A. Adams, we experience H’s journey from his original bitterness, angst, and cynicism toward his life and his father, to a place of appreciation and understanding of his father’s integrity. Maybe H will also discover the inherent goodness in people, even when the world seems to be circling the drain.


You can find Memoirs Of A Manic-Depressant here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Kirkus

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Excerpt Reveal: Fancy Shop by Valeri Stanoevich

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Valeri Stanoevich who’ll be sharing an excerpt from her latest release Fancy Shop, a collection of short stories.

About the Book

Fancy Shop
Short Story Collection


The stories contain features of fantasy, urban legends, mystery, magical realism, penetration in the deepness of the human soul.
The characters are different: knights, anonymous people, dreamers, outsiders, crazy ones, technocrats, cockroaches, holders of secret knowledge. They crave for another world of dreams come true, inexpressible truths and oases of redemption of past guilt. On the way to their new identities, they move freely between reality and fantasy. They are in constant conflict with themselves, and the front line is the line dividing the two hemispheres of their brains. The stories are very short but each has a complex plot, provocative suggestions and a surprising end. Without in any way denying the traditional concepts of good-evil, simple-profound, they lead the reader into worlds in which paradox is a synonym of universal meaning. 

You can find this book on:
Amazon | Google Play Store | Barnes & Noble | Pinterest | Goodreads | Book Bub

Excerpt

THE GREASY RAIN

Nobody remembers when the greasy rain started. It’s considered to be a meteorological phenomenon. (Its drops leave stinking spots.) People of means use grease-protected cars and an appliance like a tunnel, through which they reach their shelters. The government provided the rest of the population with remaindered wetsuits, but due to their negligence they soon became completely greasy. 

In the evening, the city becomes quiet. From the streets, through the lashing rain, from time to time wails of desperation or hatred can be heard. For example: ‘White worms!’, ‘Shit!’, and so on. 

They say that there was a valley over which snow kept falling eternally. Those who reached it, would sink into the drifts. The cold would numb their bodies. The wind would stop their breathing. And there, a moment before they froze, with the last breath of air they accepted freedom. The freedom to be pure. 


About The Author

Valeri Stanoevich

Former engineer and forensic expert. All my live except the study I inhabit my native city Ruse at Danube River. Occasional publishing in Bulgarian editions. I prefer silence and loneliness. Beloved activities: wandering through the mountains, contemplation, solving technical problems. Interested in: mythology, philosophy, psychology, poetry and painters with an unusual point of view to the reality. I don’t like displaying. I think that one should remain in the shadow of his deeds.    

You can contact Author Stanoevich here:
Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Enne Zale

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Enne Zale, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Enne Zale chooses to remain anonymous until the end of her service in the United States Marine Corp. She is an author, poet, and artist. She is currently a University student in Business Administration while serving as an Active Duty Marine.

You can connect with author Zale here:
Author Website | Instagram


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hello everyone! I go by the pen name of Enne Zale. I got this name by taking parts of my real name, then rearranging the letters to create what we now know as Enne Zale. I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and spent the first eighteen years of my life there. My father is Puerto Rican and my mother is Mexican. I grew up around art, and enjoy graphic designing in my free time. I’ve done a couple of art commissions, but being an author has always been my dream.

After high school, I knew the next step in life was to go to college, but I couldn’t afford it. I didn’t know how to apply for scholarships, nor did I receive any. My wonderful parents worked too much as it was to support us, so I didn’t have the heart to ask them for more after everything they’ve already given me. So, I enlisted into the United States Marine Corps. It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life, but the people I’ve met and the adventures I’ve experienced since are something I wouldn’t trade for anything.  I am currently twenty-one years old, and have been an Active Duty Marine for a little over two years. I am also a full-time student studying to obtain my BA in Psychology (I changed my Major countless times before settling on this one).

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Convalesce is a collection of experiences from both those around me and myself. My first and last poems are letters to my loved ones that are meant to explain some of my past behavior. My hope is that readers will find a poem they resonate with and realize that they’re not alone.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

There’s a euphoric relief that dances in someone’s chest when they feel like their story has been heard, and that’s what I wanted to capture in this book. We all have secrets we are too afraid to say out loud, and they sometimes eat away at us. There’s a freedom that comes with confessing your secrets, even if it’s through a medium such as poetry. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

Instead of a diary, I kept a journal where I would write or draw about everything: what I felt, what I saw, what I heard. After some major personal events, I ended up in the hospital for a small period of time. I suddenly had nothing but time on my hands, and it was there I rediscovered my love for literature. I was inspired, reading all those books of different tales, and I realized I had a story I wanted to tell, too. When I was discharged from the hospital, I began the process of publishing my first book. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

In the beginning, I didn’t decide to write and publish a book. I wrote and eventually had enough poems to fill the pages of a book. It took me about a year and a half to write all of the poems in this collection, and another year to get around to publishing it.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I plan to publish at least two more poetry books to complete the Aerial Series, if not more. I’d also like to write one fictional manuscript in my lifetime to say that I tried it, although it doesn’t have to be published. Overall, the goal is to become an established author. 

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I didn’t necessarily choose the genre; I just happened to write a lot of poetry in my free time. I want to be a fiction author, a poet, and a mental-health advocate, but those things take time.

Currently, I am working on a self-reflection logbook. I have a free one-week logbook on my website, but I’m making a full version of it for resale. It’ll include coping exercises and guided daily reflections.

 I have a handful of ideas and drafts sitting around in my workshop, but I like to work one task at a time to ensure each project gets the attention it needs to be the best version of itself. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

Being a first-time author, a lot of publication companies aren’t willing to pay the author to publish their book with them, because there’s no guarantee it’ll do well. I wasn’t prepared for how much publishing would cost, and spent a pretty penny getting this to happen. I learned a lot on the way, such as what to pay for and what not to pay for, but I don’t know anyone in the industry so it was a little harder to get my foot in the door. 

The biggest sacrifice I had to make was my comfort and privacy when deciding to become a poetry author. I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, which you would think is pretty easy when you don’t have to share your real name anymore. But it still wasn’t, because even if I’m using a pen name, those are still my stories. It’s also impossible to be completely anonymous, especially when it’s a one-man show.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I have a desk set-up, so normally I just sit down and I can spend hours writing or designing. When it comes to writing poetry, I just hear words which I draw inspiration from sometimes, and I’ll go to my notes section on my phone and write down what comes to me. 

Other times I’ll sit down with my notebook and give myself a writing prompt. I select a random feeling and a random object, and my one rule is both themes have to be used in the poem. It’s a good writing exercise to test my creativity. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I prefer to handwrite my poetry, so I worked on my penmanship for that very reason. After drafting and revising my words carefully, as well as organizing my thoughts, I tend to type my poems on my computer and proofread for errors. 

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

I love Circe and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Circe being my favorite book and The Song of Achilles being my fourth. Rose Madder by Stephen King is definitely my second favorite book. Jackson Pearce’s fairytale retelling series was amazing; Sweetly and Fathomless were her best works in my opinion. Those two books are a tie for my third favorite book. Lore Olympus is my fifth favorite book/series. 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Whenever I have writer’s block I try to get something on paper regardless of the quality. I can always revise the draft, and it gives me somewhere to start. I’ll step away and come back to it later with a fresh set of eyes; other times I scrap the entire idea altogether. 

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

My advice is to not settle. Remember, just because you submitted an application with a publication company does not mean you have to sign with them as soon as they respond to you. Take your time, do your research, and make sure you get everything you want from them. It’s a partnership, after all. I also recommend that you save money, because it costs a lot to be a first-time author, but it’s an investment into your future. My final advice to you is to get out of your head and just do it! 

“If you give yourself 30 days to clean your home, it will take 30 days. But if you give yourself 3 hours, it will take you 3 hours. The same applies to your goals, ambitions, and plans.” – Elon Musk. 

Thank you, author Zale, for your candid answers!

About the Book

Convalesce

Relationships are about an exchange of trust. This trust can be romantic, carnal, or familial. What do we do when this trust is placed with the wrong person? What do we do when that trust is twisted and abused for the benefit of another, at the expense of our innocence?
We will fight to justify what happened and make peace with our demons. We will re-play in our heads “he’s a nice guy,” or “she didn’t mean it like that,” until we believe the lie ourselves. But to truly heal and become resilient, we must acknowledge our truth.
With Convalesce by Enne Zale, you are challenged to acknowledge your truth. You are challenged to revisit your demons and become resilient. You are challenged to create peace from trauma and find wisdom through your experiences.
Find a cozy place to sit. It’s time to whisper your confessions.


You can find Convalesce here:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Atmosphere Press

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Garin Cycholl

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Garin Cycholl, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Garin Cycholl

Garin Cycholl grew up in south-eastern Illinois and has lived in Miami, southern Minnesota, and Chicago, where he has lived for the past two decades. His series of Illinois poems (including Blue Mound to 161, Hostile Witness, The Bonegatherer, and the forthcoming Prairied) explore violence, displacement, and changing ecologies across the state throughout the twentieth century. His recent work also includes the screenplays, The Indianan and The Hippodrome, an adaptation of Cyrus Colter’s novel. Rx is Cycholl’s first novel.

You can find author Cycholl here:
Author Website

“A deeply American story in the guise of a road trip novel. Elegiac, original and compelling.” 

-Ling Ma, author of Severance

“With wit, sticky situations, one-of-a-kind characters, and a captivating mystery, Cycholl probes the idiopathic American psyche. His diagnosis, Rx, is a potent prescription for literary joy.”

-Alex Shakar, author of Luminarium

Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I’m kind of a chameleon, having lived in a range of places.  Urban spaces, including Chicago, Miami, and New Haven.  Rural spaces, where my nearest neighbors were a half-mile or more away.  It’s a fortunate trait in some ways.  I can work with a wide range of people, as I have in teaching and pastoral ministry.  It’s also kind of a curse—the shape-shifting that Rx’s main character goes through as he tries to locate a center to himself.

I’ve taught in Chicago and Gary over the past 25 years at schools including UIC, the University of Chicago, and Indiana University Northwest.  Prior to that, I pastored churches in Southeastern Illinois and on Chicago’s Northwest side.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

My father was a family doctor in Southeastern Illinois for just short of four decades before his death in 2007.  My brother currently works as a family doctor in the same town.  Their experiences are a great part of Rx, the kinds of joys and frustrations of medical practice in a small town (i.e., getting to know generations of family members, but also seeing them in their own moments of breakdown and loss). 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Not so much a message as a reappraisal of the fault lines that exist in American culture at present.  Through the narrator’s experience and flight, I’m rethinking the distinct American violences that we recall (and hopefully acknowledge) as history, process, and anticipate.  Where are those violences’ roots?  The book builds a fundamental awareness on how we, personally and culturally, encounter those fault lines—whether they become bridgeable spaces or swallow us.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

I’m close to the narrator, a half-assed psychiatrist who can’t decide what to do with himself.  I also love Daniel Blackwater, a Native American physician.  I’ve tried to engage him as a character with a lot of historical insight and sensitivity to the legacies that define him as well as the wider “country.”

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

A joke that I always made with my dad—that when he died, I was going to take on his identity and practice medicine without a license.  Of course, there’s also a kind of joke on the mythic figure of Oedipus.  What happens when you put him down some place in the rural United States?

Of course, as noted above, there’s also a post-9/11 impulse.  How does one measure, sequence, or narrate American violence and the historical terrors perpetrated in “progress?”  It seems like capital itself just swallowed the 9/11 bombings as an act and belched up the conflicts in which we reside in this moment.  Through the chapters titled by states, Rx explores the violences beneath American geography.  Whose blood was spilled on your plot of ground or street corner?

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Rx was written over the course of several summers.  The short chapter structure helped provide individual moments of intense focus within the short bursts of time I had to write the novel.  Each of the plotlines developed along a string of chapters that I then reassembled into the final shape of the book.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I really enjoy working within and across genres.  I recently finished Prairied, the fourth in a series of book-length poems on prairie geographies and family history in Illinois.  These poems cover wetlands, stretches of highway, and a range of L stops in Chicago.  Completing that feels like the end of a project.  I also work in screenplay, a form I wish I had more time and opportunity to work within.

Are you working on any other story presently?

A detective novel set in Chicago that plays within spaces set up by Richard Wright, Saul Bellow, and Daniel Borzutzky.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

As noted above, I work in a range of genres, including poetry, screenplay, and essay.  I have always found that working across genres provides spaces to explore when something in a novel feels stuck or insoluble.  Going into a poem can reset my narrative imagination.  Working through scripts has been of inestimable importance in the development of characters on the fictional page.

I’ve also felt a great affinity between geographical and literary spaces.  Memoir, poem, narrative, and maps blur in my head.  This tendency has encouraged me to think about the more obsessive aspects of literary genre to the point where obsession is on par with conflict as a narrative impulse.  How do I tell this “place?”  My mind is always moving along what Gaston Bachelard called the “intimate immensities” of memory and poetic experience.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

The lure of writing was a big part of working within ministry, a vocation that allows one to explore a range of capacities (counseling and managing, with the added bonus of getting to stand up once a week and speak what’s on your mind).  Sermons were an enjoyable form, but I didn’t get serious about writing’s discipline until I was well into my thirties.  I have had the benefit of some great colleagues and mentors, plus the opportunity to cross paths with some highly insightful writers along the way.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I write on a lot of small scraps of paper.  The writing task becomes one of making something coherent out of them.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Transcribing bits of thought from paper to a laptop, develop them, then print them out and paste them on the walls.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

These shift and change, but I’ve been most influenced fictionally by Herman Melville’s The Confidence-Man, Bonnie Jo Campbell’s American Salvage, Michael Anania’s The Red Menace, Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive, and Barry Hannah’s Ray.  Among Chicago and Great Lakes books most recently, I’ve been hanging around Eve Ewing’s Ghosts in the Schoolyard and Dan Egan’s The Death and Life of the Great Lakes.  Other works that have shaped my perspective in a sustained way are Sterling Plumpp’s blues lyrics and Robert Schenkkan’s The Kentucky Cycle.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Fortunately, I have never had to fight it.  My fits and starts of ideas will probably outlive me.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Michael Anania always reminded us that great writers rarely appear in isolation, so build on conversations and friendships with other writers.  Don’t see them as competitors.  Move into your voice.  Love the process.

Thank you, author Cycholl, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Rx: A Novel

First, do no harm…
A patient comes to you with vague but troubling symptoms. He seems to know a little too much about the odd sickness you’ve seen in other patients lately. You start to wonder what he’s been up to in his chicken coop. Is he growing the next plague? Should you call the FBI? The only problem is that you’re not really a doctor.
Taking on his dead father’s identity, a man becomes intent on practicing medicine in an out of the way town. He watches the nation bubble into a new kind of civil war around him. A con man amidst rumors, homemade bombs, and a developing sense that he has been “made,” Rx wrestles with a distinct American identity—slippery and always in flight.  Between a violent “here” and an anxious “there,” a wider, remapped “America” emerges. 


You can find Rx: A Novel here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: J.A. Adams

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author J.A. Adams, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Author J.A. Adams is retired in Northern Colorado after teaching English for sixteen years at Louisiana State University. This debut novel grew out of observing and becoming enamored with the Cajun culture during those years.

You can connect with author J.A. Adams here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I’ve lived in many places in the US.  I was born in a small town in Ohio and lived there until I was eighteen. My father’s job took the family to Long Island, then Houston, where I was married. Then my husband’s job took us to California and finally to Louisiana, where I went to LSU, earned my PhD, and taught English for sixteen years. 

My experiences in each of the places I’ve lived informed my thinking and broadened my mind, though I was most intrigued by the Louisiana culture.  My marriage eventually fell apart, but then I met someone in Louisiana, and we’ve been married for four wonderful years.  He inspired me to complete the book I had begun years ago. We both had wanted to move to Colorado, so I was able to make my writing dream come true after retirement. Though I miss the Louisiana culture, I am happy to be nearer to my son, who teaches in Boulder.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I wanted to capture Louisiana’s unique Cajun culture while also showing how big oil, with its government subsidies, corruption, and greed, was taking a toll on the state. As a starting point, I used an actual disaster, in which a drilling rig drilled a hole in a salt mine, causing its collapse. Then I built my fictional story around that, showing how it affected everyone’s lives in and around New Iberia in southwest Louisiana.  Moving through the story, we see how greed and the corruption of corporations and politicians have led to the catastrophe. 

‘H’, the son of the drilling company’s owner Harvey, is determined to prove that his father didn’t commit suicide. Along the way he discovers the true cause of the disaster and brings bad actors to justice. Not only does he clear his father’s name of suicide, but he develops a new respect for his father’s honesty and integrity in the face of corruption.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I tried to impart two important messages. I wanted to show how the greed of corporations, with the help of dishonest lobbyists and politicians, can negatively impact the employees and the land those employees call home. At the same time, I wanted to show how one man, estranged from his father for years, came back to clear his father’s name, and how he finally developed an awareness about aspects of his father’s life he had not considered. It is a novel of his personal growth from bitterness and cynicism to understanding and appreciation.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

My favorite character would have to be H; named after his father Harvey, H never wanted or felt worthy of his father’s full name. H’s mother and baby sister died in childbirth, causing his father to turn away from his two sons and devote his life to his job, while H and Victor were raised by their aunt and uncle. In such a dysfunctional family, H and his brother both grew up with their own neuroses: H always bitterly resented being left and ignored by his father, while Vic turned to gambling, fast cars, and fast women. H found purpose in clearing his father’s name and grew as a result. The same transformation has not happened for Vic, but H remains hopeful that he’ll come around in the future.  

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I moved to Louisiana the year of the salt mine disaster, so it was powerful in its effect on the state. The cause was never determined, and though, miraculously, no one was killed in the actual disaster, I decided to write a fictional account of what could have happened, based on my understanding of what big oil and political corruption have done to Louisiana. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I started writing shortly after I began teaching at LSU.  I could only find the time to work on it between semesters.  It wasn’t until I retired that I was able to actually sit down and stick with it until the end. So altogether, I guess it took around sixteen years.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I am enjoying writing, and now that I have free time, I’ll continue writing, at least over the next five years. I guess my ultimate ambition, like any other writers’ ambitions, is to sell lots of books. Also, when I have an idea, a concern, an event, that impacts or inspires me, I feel that I have to get it out there in the best form I can. 

Are you working on any other story presently?

I’m working on a story about a Ukrainian who emigrated to the US with his family after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, during a time of Russian hostilities, Ukrainian corruption, and a failing economy.  Mykola was an impressionable seventeen-year-old, aware of a nuclear bomb that had been lost in a storm from the ship his father was stationed on before his retirement from the Navy. The lost bomb intrigued H, and he determined he would return to Ukraine one day to find it before Ukrainian Separatists, who wanted to take over Ukraine, found it and used it on the Ukrainian Resistance. The Russians were surveilling Mykola during his graduate studies and dissertation about Russian aggression, and especially after he returned to Ukraine and located the bomb’s coordinates. They sent an attractive spy to be a student in his class, seduce him, and discover the coordinates. 

I believe the book will be timely now, with Russia rattling its sabers and threatening to invade and take over Ukraine, which it considers the Mother of Russia, so I’m working diligently to finish it.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I find mystery, thrillers, and intrigue to be interesting topics. I enjoy timely topics based on corruption and greed unmasked. I guess Pillars of Salt and my new book are both based on a David and Goliath motif. I will probably continue in that vein.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I was an avid reader at a very young age. My mother would sometimes make me put down a book to go out and play. I regularly walked the mile to the library to check out books like Jane EyreWuthering Heights, my favorite, Rebecca, and others. During those impressionable years I dreamed of writing my own book. It just took many years to realize that dream. I realized I needed a degree in English, and two graduate degrees. Then I had to use my degrees to actually teach! Those years of studying, researching, preparing classes, grading papers, etc. were a roadblock to writing for many more years. But finally, I am in a position to follow that childhood dream.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I’ve read about writing rituals others have. I don’t really have a ritual. I love to write, so whenever I have some free time, I sit down and write, sometimes for hours on end. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I began writing everything longhand before sitting down at the computer to revise, revise, revise. I’ve become more adept at composing on the laptop, after which I revise, revise, revise.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

My first love as a teen, Rebecca, by Daphne de Maurier; the subject of my dissertation, The Awakening, by Kate Chopin; anything by James Lee Burke, whom I consider my mentor on writing Pillars of Salt; Beloved, by Toni Morrison; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou; anything by Virginia Woolf or Eudora Welty. 

In Non-fiction, On Tyranny and The Road to Unfreedom, by Timothy Snyder

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Talk to my husband for ideas; research! I finally solved the ending of Pillars by reading an actual account of a political scam.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

I guess, if you want it bad enough, it will finally happen. Of course, not everyone can take the long route through grad school and teaching that I took. I urge anyone who wants to write to read, read, read, as much as you can get your hands on. Notice how people put words together, being as economic as possible. If you’ve written a long, wordy phrase, see how you can shorten it without losing meaning. Sometimes a precise word can account for many explanatory words. 

Thank you, author Adams, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Pillars Of Salt

Harvey Doucet, a reasonably good Catholic, would never have committed suicide.
His son, Harvey Jr. – H – knows this, so after Doucet Drilling causes the collapse of a salt mine and thirteen deaths, H searches for clues to clear his estranged father’s name.  H and his father’s bodyguard, Placide, encounter dangerous cliffhangers, as the pursuers become the pursued. On the way, H exposes greed, fraud, and corruption, leading all the way to the White House.
In Pillars of Salt by J.A. Adams, we experience H’s journey from his original bitterness, angst, and cynicism toward his life and his father, to a place of appreciation and understanding of his father’s integrity. Maybe H will also discover the inherent goodness in people, even when the world seems to be circling the drain.


You can find Pillars Of Salt here:
Amazon | Indie Bound | Barnes & Noble

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Excerpt Reveal: Newer Testaments by Philip Brunetti

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Philip Brunetti who’ll be sharing an excerpt from his latest release Newer Testaments.

About the Book

Newer Testaments

Ever get the feeling that your life is caught up in some kaleidoscopic Jungian dream and that you weren’t exactly dying but still everything you’d ever been is flashing before your eyes-and then when you wake from this dissolutive dream, your reality remains altered and time has become concurrent and characters from thirty-plus years ago walk into your life again, if ambiguously, and press you on matters of a sacred-profane written text that you never completed?

Heretical and outrageous, ironic and absurd, Newer Testaments scores a hit in the heart of where the existential meets the fated, and the writer’s task becomes both revelatory and abject. Into this formidable personal struggle a cast of untoward and/or diaphanous characters rotate including The Jesus Girl, John Baptist, Macbeth, King Kisko, The Tree Girl, Nurse Mother, a glass satyr and a French New Wave Mother. Has the nameless narrator lost his mercurial mind, or is this a subconscious-shadow-world sojourn he’s been practicing for all his life?-the keys to the kingdom of being. 

You can find this book on:
Amazon(.com) | Amazon(.in) | Goodreads | Atmosphere Press | BookShop | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

“In the tradition of Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, Brunetti’s wondrously wandering writing is taut and cryptic, vivid and hallucinatory, rendering an irony-laden, aberrant odyssey for his impossibly likable protagonist.”

-Franco D’Alessandro, playwright & poet, Roman Nights, Stranger Love, and Everything Is Something Else

Excerpt

Three

1.

I thought I was living in a French New Wave film. I had faked my own death. I’d spent my life carrying pens. There were these days. Each thing had its place. But there was never the right thing or place. Or rarely. I went on moaning. They strung me up like a dead Jaws tiger-shark on a hook. But everyone knew I was a fake. I’d lived inside my wallet. Folded up. This doesn’t mean I’d known money. Mostly we were left to pray by the curtains. My sister with her tail in her lap.

2.

They had spoken of vestibules. The house was collapsing around them. I didn’t even know their names. But they were standing there like in a box. An elderly couple. They appeared naked. They were holding each other by the waist. They both had gray hair and pubic hair. It mixed with the dust. The house was being demolished around them for some reason. And for some reason they were naked in the dust. I was off in the bushes somewhere like a secret photographer. A faux paparazzo. But I never clicked a picture. The image of their fall from grace was their own.

3.

We’d picnic in winter. Sometimes in the park under the nether-Whitestone Bridge. I couldn’t remember why I was dying (I wasn’t) but as a kid I had the feeling that I was. I went to get lost in the woods. My sister was behind me. She was getting ready to play a trick. She’d sneak around and jump out on the trail and scare me. I’d throw up my arms and scream. I was timid. Then she’d report me for my timidity. I had to be the man but I wasn’t this kind of man. I hadn’t been invented yet. I was on trial. And all the juries were out still. Maybe it was coming to disaster. But I’d never let out a sound.

4.

In the interim I read Leaves of Grass. I crossed and crisscrossed America. I had a fool’s wanderlust but found nothing inspiring. The Walmarts were a cancer. They’d eaten up the towns. I was on my knees in Chicago—Lake Michigan bound. I fell at the Great Lake seaside. The pillars of tenements behind me. The black children playing in the sand. I took a fiery shot of bourbon. It’d been warmed up in the heat of the van. My partners in crime were misfits. We were men on the run. 

5.

We planted infant trees in the garden. We went on planting infant trees. I didn’t know what I was doing but I could follow directions. So I followed them. The woman was like a little drill sergeant. She told me what I could and couldn’t do. I was given a spade and trowel. I had loose wrists and turned the earth. It was slipping from my senses. All the meanings I’d once meant.

‘We’re going nowhere now,’ I said to the woman.

‘That’s why you’re here,’ she rejoined.

I said nothing else. Later I’d show up with a watering can. I was playing with seeds. I didn’t know any better. The ground would open up too. There’d be a big crack in the earth, a hole fissuring. We’d have to go under the trees and roots even. All of the sprigs and dreams busted. But there was some truth in the ground.

‘How deep?’ I asked.

‘Keep going,’ she said.

We were six feet underground. 

6.

The Jesus Girl never had a hold on me. I’d buried her like an ant in the carpet. But I could see her still—shining in my eyes. I had wanted to be something. There was this fusion—bad and good, masc and fem, life and death. In truth I couldn’t go through that atrocity. I kept quiet. I was a small man in a big world. The word on the street was there was no word on the street…I’d expected more…or different. I was a man waiting at a vending machine without change. Dark stormy clouds were gathering. I felt weak. In a few hours bad things would happen. It was just a matter of time.

7.

I had to become him but could never become him. It was easier to put the fig back on the tree. Take some other bite. 

I didn’t know anything about grace. But it’d been threatened into me so I eventually grew curious. I talked to Simon. His black eyes burning—he harped on the Book of Revelation. He wrote his 8th Grade interpretation of it. The English teacher gave him an A+. It’s a sacred cosmogony. Simon never said that. But it came to that in the report. Even the end of the world was beautiful.

8.

Tiring at dusk. But getting more awake too. And never remembering my name. Never having a proper name in the least bit. Being nameless even with a name. That’s how it mattered then.

We’d go out in the snow. There were 27 inches, nether-New York’s biggest blizzard in years. I had my pants tucked into rust-colored boots. My father put plastic bags over my doubled socks so my feet would slip through, stay dry. Then he tucked in my pants, meticulously, mercilessly. All in the name of love.

We exited from the garage door—into a landscape of pure snow. My older sister led the way. My father kicked me in the ass and I got moving. Each leg lift, each leg plant and I got buried to my thighs. The wind blasts froze my snots to my face. There was no turning back. This was the tundra of youth…we’d keep marching delinquently across the virgin snow.


About The Author

Philip Brunetti

Philip Brunetti writes innovative fiction and poetry and much of his work has been published in various online or paper literary magazines including Cobalt, The Boiler, The Wax Paper, and Identity Theory. His debut novel Newer Testaments, published in November 2020 by Atmosphere Press, has been described by the Independent Book Review as ‘an innovative existential novel told through hallucinatory poetics.’ 

You can contact Author Brunetti here:
 Website | BookShop | LinkedIn

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Hilah Roscoe

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Hilah Roscoe, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Hilah Roscoe is originally from Mississippi. She has a love/hate relationship with running, doesn’t deviate from recipes, and should never be left alone with a family-size bag of Salt and Vinegar potato chips. When she isn’t writing, she’s obsessing over her next travel destination, listening to numerous true crime podcasts and taking an obnoxious amount of pictures of friends and family. Currently, she resides in Texas with her husband, daughter and rescue dogs.


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I grew up in a town in Mississippi that was about twice the size of Taloowa (the main setting in the book).  I can’t keep house plants alive to save my life, and I read just about every genre of book.  I heart audible books just as much as hard copies or Kindle versions.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I listened to a lot of country music around the time I was writing the book.  I actually never listened to a lot of country music before, and now I am a much bigger fan.  You’ll see a few actual songs mentioned throughout the book, and those were just a few on my “Sweet Shrub Inn” playlist.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Hmmm. Some relationships can be mended even when there are years of hurt behind them?  I wrote Cora as a budding therapist, but I am not one myself.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

I’d say Coop is my favorite character. She’s the epitome of what you want a best friend to be to help you steer through life—she’s intrusive, funny, loyal and maternal.  

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

Honestly, I just wanted to write the type of book that I wanted to read at the time.  Easy, funny, sweet. Although it touches on a terrible disease (Alzheimer’s) in its very early stages, I think it’s a feel-good book.  After the last few years, I wanted to read something that made me feel good because, seriously, what have we been living through?

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Writing it took about 7 months.  

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I have another book that’s almost complete now, but I’ve been waiting for the last year to write the last few chapters.  I feel like writers are the biggest procrastinators in the universe.  It’s set in a fictional town (in Alabama, this time) and involves another small-town romance.  The main character in this one is a bit younger, and it isn’t a “we’ve known each other for years” type of romance.  

Are you working on any other story presently?

What’s funny is—I wasn’t until today.  I have a story that includes some characters from The Sweet Shrub Inn.  I’ll say it involves a different Mabry brother.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I actually wrote a book that I referred to as “light science fiction for women” a few years ago, but I couldn’t get an agent or a publisher.  Rejection emails were in no short supply.  When I started writing The Sweet Shrub Inn I was just in a completely different mindset.  I wanted to read/write something that would make me feel good.  I am an absolute SUCKER for some romance.  There are so many subgenres within romance, and there are authors that do amazing things in each of them.  I will read just about anything.  I would love to think I could branch over into another genre again, but I am a little partial to southern romance at this particular stage in my life/writing.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I have to be alone (obviously).  I love listening to music before or after I write, but I can’t do it while I write.  Even instrumental music distracts me.  I write best in the mornings.  Come late afternoon, my brain just isn’t where it is in the mornings.  I also put YouTube on a crackling fireplace channel to make me feel cozier when I write.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I do take notes in a notebook, but I work on a laptop 90% of the time.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

I think Maggie Stiefvater is a super cool writer. Penny Reid and Colleen Hoover are romance champions, but I’m still reading new romance authors all the time. Jack Olsen, Jon Krakauer, Augusten Burroughs. Is that five? I could go on longer than you have time for.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I don’t beat myself up about it as much anymore.  I used to try to force myself to write when I was clearly not in the right mindset. If I had a deadline for an editor, I would keep writing from morning until night (often still not making the deadline). The ideas just weren’t coming after a certain time of day, and I started to second-guess everything I had written previously. You can’t get blood from a turnip. Yes, I just referred to my brain as a turnip.  I think Writer’s Block is sometimes your mind’s way of telling you to step away. It sucks when you have it for months at a time.  Ideas come to me in the most strange (and sometimes inconvenient) situations. I still find myself trying to “make it happen” when it just isn’t the right time.  

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

I can’t claim credit for it, but my best advice is probably to write what you know.  I have tried to write stories that weren’t based in my own personal experiences, and I struggled with it. Plenty of writers are able to do it.   My second piece of advice would be to enjoy the feeling when readers really relate to your story.  Some people will hate what you write. Some people will love it.  That’s really how it goes.  I was so pleasantly surprised by how much some people enjoyed and invested their time in the book.  When they reach out to me to tell me how they felt reading it, I am practically giddy.

Thank you, author Roscoe, for your honest answers!

About the Book

The Sweet Shrub Inn

Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, Hilah Roscoe’s The Sweet Shrub Inn is an unforgettable tale of love, loss, family, and Southern charm.
In less than twenty-four hours, young therapist-in-training, Cora Graham, is dumped by her boyfriend in Chicago and notified that her estranged father is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. It’s been years since Cora has visited the small Mississippi town of her birth, and the wounds she suffered there still ache. Two years earlier, at her best friend’s wedding, she finally made her feelings known for Jensen Mabry, the town heartthrob, only to be turned down.
Despite her anxieties at seeing those who played such an integral role in her flight from home, Cora returns to discover her ill-tempered father has purchased the old Sweet Shrub Inn, which she must renovate and sell to pay for his increasing medical costs. Though Jensen offers to loan her the money through his family’s construction company, something feels amiss. Has reuniting with her long-lost love in a town that holds so many ghosts clouded her judgment? Or is there another, more suspicious reason for his kindness?
As she navigates her rekindled passions and her father’s terrifying illness, Cora must face her heart’s ultimate dilemma: should she return to her old life in Chicago or stay in a town she’s learning to love again?


You can find The Sweet Shrub Inn here:
Goodreads | Amazon | Atmosphere Press

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: James Gilbert

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author James Gilbert, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

James Gilbert

James Gilbert is a historian and novelist. While a professor at the University of Maryland, he published eleven books on American culture, and one of which was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. He has lived and taught abroad in Paris, and with year-long Fulbright Fellowships in Australia, Germany, and the University of Uppsala, Sweden, where he received an honorary doctorate degree. His fiction titles include The Key Party, Tales of Little Egypt, and Zona Romantica. Murder at the Olympiad is the second book in the Amanda Pennyworth Mystery series. He currently lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C. Find more at jamesgilbertauthor.com.

You can find author Gilbert here:
Author Website | Facebook


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

My career was a long detour to my calling as a fiction writer.  Very early on, I wrote plays for puppet and marionette shows.  And then I wrote a few stories and poems in high school.  After attending university, I spent a long and fruitful career as an American historian, publishing a number of books on culture and always edging closer and closer to literature.  During these academic years, I spent considerable time living abroad trying to understand what were, for me, alien cultures.  One of my favorite pastimes was to sit in a café observing people, inventing stories of their lives.  I suppose what I like best is to watch and imagine.  So everything I have experienced, even the smallest observation, is in the sourcebook for my fiction.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

While murder is certainly a serious business and death always a tragedy, life has many lighter, humorous moments which I also try to incorporate into my mystery books.  Not everyone is serious all the time or focused for every minute.  Life goes on, unexpectedly, even in the most solemn whodunits. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

My message is plural: life is remarkably complicated; motivations are complex; relationships often difficult and explosive; and the unanticipated should always be expected.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

I love this question because it allows me to say what I think most writers feel, and what I do especially.  That is: every character I am currently writing about; living in their space; expressing their thoughts; observing their actions—that character is always my favorite.  I should add, however, that in retrospect, in this novel my favorite is Amanda Pennyworth, the American Consul to Puerto Vallarta, and the sleuth who solves the mystery.  Why?  Because she is the most complicated and I inhabit her character the longest.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I was inspired to write Murder at the Olympiad in part because I was looking to create a sequel to my first Amanda Pennyworth book: Zona Romantica.  But the immediate motivation came during a ramble in the trendy part of the resort city, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  I passed by a doorway, with a staircase leading up into the dark, with a rainbow flag over the entrance.  I was pretty sure this was a gay sauna and the thought occurred to me:  what about a murder there?  And so I started with that.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I spent about six months drafting the novel and an additional half-year revising and editing—so I lived with this story and its characters for close to a year.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

My ambition is not unusual. I would love to publish all of the other manuscripts I have completed. But above all, I hope that my creative energy and inspiration will to continue to allow me to write novels and immerse myself in the imaginary worlds that I love to create.

Are you working on any other story presently?

I have just completed a collection of integrated short stories depicting a very unusual area of Appalachia and the people who live there.  My aim was (and is) to understand these folks whom the nation has seemed to have forgotten.  By writing about them, I have tried to understand their motives, their fears and aspirations, and especially their dilemmas of living in a place that progress appears to be passing by.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I have always been a writer delving into one genre or another, from the childhood plays I wrote (and performed), to stories and poems I wrote as a teenager, to the many history books and articles I authored, and finally, to the short stories and longer fiction that engage me now.  I am particularly drawn to mystery stories because they allow me to explore a variety of characters all linked together by one event or a singular place.  And who doesn’t like a puzzle?

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

To be a fiction writer was for me perhaps the most difficult, most frightening, and now the most rewarding thing I have ever done.  It took me a very long time to gain the confidence and the recklessness to write fiction, because I understood full well, that the writer has nothing to stand behind except the writing itself.  A novel or short story is, despite its disguises, much like a naked ego, and inviting criticism is invariably provoking criticism of oneself.  So I began tentatively, writing a book of stories that I sent to a literary friend who saw enough in it to encourage me to continue.  And suddenly that opened a new life for me and an unexplored part of myself that I have since discovered.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

My writing schedule is both very mundane and then, sometimes, surprising.  Every morning I like to go over the previous day’s work, editing, changing words and sentences, adding and subtracting, until I find myself extending the text, almost automatically, into new sentences, paragraphs, scenes and situations.

The really odd part usually occurs as I am settling in, reading, late at night.  A sudden thought will come to me, an urgent metaphor, a name, a situation, and I have to write it down on the pad I keep next to my bed…lest I forget.  Sometimes these brief notes will occupy my whole writing time the next day.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I have written several books and articles and stories in longhand when the only other technology was an electric typewriter.  But now I prefer the computer because it is easy to correct and edit and because I like to see how the text appears on a page.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

  1. James Baldwin for his remarkable prescience and beautiful Biblical cadences.
  2. Isaac Asimov (I, Robot) for his realization that the problems of controlling technology are the same as the age-old ethical problems that humans have always faced.
  3. Alice Munro for her incisive, remarkable novellas and short stories.
  4. Dona Leon, in any of her mystery novels set in Venice because of her realization that a crime once solved is never solved.
  5. Elena Ferrante (My Brilliant Friend), for making it possible to understand a culture that is utterly different yet entirely plausible and comprehensible.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

The only time I experience writer’s block is when I am conceptualizing a story—never once I am immersed in it and the characters have come alive.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

I would advise any writer to follow these suggestions—more or less:

  • Write about what you know.  Let memory spur your story-telling.  It will happen anyway, so embrace it.  
  • Don’t be afraid to put people you know (or yourself) into your stories.  You will inevitably change them, but it’s a wonderful place to start.
  • Do research.  Find out what things look like, how they operate, how history and contemporary society function.
  • Surround yourself with images, maps and other visual aids.
  • Start small with short stories so that you learn the rhythms of writing fiction and especially, how to end a piece of fiction.
  • For every character you create, no matter how difficult or unpleasant or reprehensible you wish to portray them, try to find something you like about them or that amuses you in their personality or behavior.  It will make them come alive.

Thank you, author Gilbert, for your honest answers!

About the Book

Murder at the Olympiad

An American tourist is murdered in a Mexican gay sauna, and Amanda Pennyworth, the American consul to Puerto Vallarta, risks her career and her life to find the culprit.

Amanda Pennyworth works with a junior officer of the Tourist Police in search of suspects in the secretive underworld of a beautiful resort.  When a young Mexican boy is arrested on flimsy evidence, Amanda is convinced it is a terrible mistake.  But no one is willing to listen to her: not the arrogant chief of police; not the boy’s parents who seem to blame her for the murder; and not the cynical American Ambassador who only wants to avoid an international incident.  It’s up to her.  

In Murder at the Olympiad by James Gilbert, we travel to the popular resort city of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and follow Amanda as she is drawn into the search for the killer of a young American.  When she finally identifies the killer, she also discovers some very unpleasant truths about the Foreign Service in which she serves.


You can find Murder At The Olympiad here:
Goodreads | Bookshop | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Atmosphere Press

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com