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

Author Interview: Adesina Brown

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

About The Author

Adesina Brown

Adesina Brown is a queer, non-binary author who centers QTPOC in all their work. They have been previously published in Rigorous Magazine, Coffee People Zine, and more, and their debut novel Where the Rain Cannot Reach is forthcoming with Atmosphere Press. Check out their recent guest post on LGBTQ Reads, “The Liberating Politics of Queernorm Fiction.”

You can find author Brown here:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram


Interview

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

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California—where I’ve lived all 21 years of my life, with some stints at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie and an internship at Planned Parenthood in New York City, both in New York. I have two younger siblings, Negasi and Bakari, a dog named Oliver, and my mom and I are very close; my family is my greatest inspiration, and I wouldn’t be anywhere without their support, creativity, and care. I love all kinds of creative expression, which I try to make clear in my interactions and in my general enthusiasm for music, tattoos, paintings… I love it all! I also love plants, which you’ll learn in my author bio or on my Instagram; my greatest pride is my money tree, which has grown about three feet in the two years I’ve had it. 

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

Be prepared for altered states of consciousness with a collectivist lens. 

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

I think the greatest lesson I learned from my Room Magazine mentorship with Téa Mutonji is that I can’t control what my readers take away from my works. Every person is going to have such a personal, and ultimately emotional, connection to anything they read. That’s the beauty in literature—and the beauty in all art, really. I’m not so interested in defining the experience my readers have so much as I’m happy they’re having an experience at all. 

That said… If I had to choose one message I’m trying to communicate to my readers in this novel, it’s that you deserve to live unquestioned and unburdened by what the dominant culture would question and burden you for. You deserve liberation—but it must be on your terms, for your reasons. I poured a lot of my dreams for the future of queernorm fiction into this project, and I hope you may find your own path to safety through glimpses of this world.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

My favorite characters often differ from my favorite characters to write; in the case of Where the Rain Cannot Reach, I’d say Shianna is my favorite character, while King Usnaso, who shows up later in the novel, is my favorite character to write. I love both characters because they’re complicated, albeit for vastly different reasons, and they always kept me wondering as to what they would do next—I never knew myself!

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

I came up with the very first scene of this book when I was 12 or 13 years old, made some character notes, and then ignored it for the next decade or so. In 2020, I arrived home from Vassar College after having left to pursue writing—but having no idea what I wanted to write. After some digging, I found some of my old journals, and I decided to rewrite the first scene of the book. I think I ended up with something like 10,000 words in that first sitting, so I like to say I was inspired by my younger self to write this book. 

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

This is the toughest question for me to answer. It’s taken almost a decade from inception to publication. More accurately, the initial draft of this book took around three months; and it was maybe nine months before Atmosphere Press approached me with an offer for publication. We had another two or three months of editing after that… I don’t think I’ll ever feel like a project is complete. 

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

Five years from today, I will have released the entirety of the Doman’s Despair trilogy; I also will release another novel (or two!) that departs from this trilogy. I’ll publish a poetry collection, too. In truth, my greatest ambition as a writer, and my most sustainable goal I think, is simply to write—which means that I want to write a lot. There are days when I don’t have it in me to put a single word on the page, and I’ve learned to accept that. Most days, though, I wake up and wonder what I will write, and I hope that feeling never goes away, not in five years and not in my lifetime. 

Are you working on any other story presently?

Currently, I’m writing book two of Doman’s Despair, worldbuilding for another fantasy story, editing a sci-fi novel on-and-off, and shopping around my debut poetry collection. 

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

I’d love to write in as many genres and styles as I can. I love writing poetry and have had a lot of stuff I’m proud of published online and in independent journals. Admittedly, though, speculative fiction is my happy place. Sci-fi, fantasy, and horror come naturally to me. I find a lot of comfort in the questions about, against, and toward reality inherent in speculative fiction genres. As a queer, non-binary, and mixed-race person, I’ve always gravitated toward stories that did not shy away from life’s complexities but instead showed new possibilities within those complexities. I mostly write speculative fiction—mostly think about speculative fiction—because it requires newness and constant reflection of the self and the wider world. 

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 truly started writing in my preteen and early teen years. At that time, it was abandoned ideas, like the one I had for Where the Rain Cannot Reach, and fanfiction—my first taste of writing publicly for something other than school. Back then, it was largely anonymous, mostly for fun, and I don’t think I told anyone what or where I was publishing… I probably never will! However, it was my first taste of writing for an audience, and the confidence I gained from the realization that I can write and someone will be interested in it has since proved essential. When I decided to leave Vassar College halfway into my sophomore year, I also knew I was sacrificing institutional structure, stability, and support. Without those things, I had to cultivate and redefine my definitions of wellbeing and success. I’m inspired to keep going whenever I reflect upon what I’ve already accomplished.

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

For whatever reason, I can only write in the afternoons, usually starting around 1:30PM. I first change the lighting in my room from warm white light to cool, and then I light a stick of incense. The most important step is choosing the music to accompany my writing: it creates ambience and places me into the world I’m writing. If I’m working on a longer project like a novel, I have one or two songs that trigger my brain to get into writing—my “go song(s).” For Where the Rain Cannot Reach, it was “Human” by Molly Sarle; for the second book of Doman’s Despair, I’m loving “I’m Going Away” by Elizabeth Cotten and “Heavy Horses” by Jethro Tull. When I edit, I always start with Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.”  

With the space set, I aim for over 2,000 words a session, which I break into parts: after the first thousand words, which takes about 30-45 minutes, I take a break to stretch, drink some water, and make a meal; I then sit down to write whatever I have left in me that day. I’m a total pantser, so I often don’t know what I’ll write until it’s on the page. 

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

I write on my laptop. More specifically, I write with Microsoft Word in “Focus” mode on my Mac, which is essentially a blank page against a plain background. It’s perfect.  

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

Although it’s ever-changing, my current favorites are: Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown; Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo; Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Sadiya Hartman; She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan; and The Black Poets by Dudley Randall. The lattermost is a lifelong favorite—and probably my most traveled book. 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I’m a very self-motivated person, so I usually only take one or two days away from writing at a time. By then, I’m usually desperate to write something. However, if I’m truly unable to move a story forward, I have to change it. With the second book of Doman’s Despair, I wrote about 100 pages before I stopped; because I stopped, I knew I was not writing the story I needed to tell. I decided to scrap it all, and now I’ve almost finished writing it. Sometimes I need to take a step back and remind myself that it is not a block but a necessary break. 

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

Anyone can write, so if you’re aspiring to write, I’d recommend getting some words on the page! If you’d like to publish your writing, though, you need time—and you need to take the time you give yourself seriously. I only say this to be realistic about how elitist and inaccessible the publishing world can often be. Be truthful with yourself about how much time you need for this process, take it at a speed that suits you, and remember that your writing deserves to be read. 

Thank you, author Brown, for your honest answers!

About the Book

Where The Rain Cannot Reach

Tair has never known what it means to belong. Abandoned at a young age and raised in the all-Elven valley of Mirte, the young Human defines herself by isolation, confined to her small, seemingly trustworthy family. 
Abruptly, that family uproots her from Mirte and leads her on an inevitable but treacherous journey to Doman: the previous site of unspeakable Human atrocities and the current home of Dwarvenkind. Though Doman offers Tair new definitions of family and love, it also reveals to her that her very existence is founded in lies. Now, tasked with an awful responsibility to the Humans of Sossoa, Tair must decide where her loyalties lie and, in the process, discover who she wants to be… And who she has always been. 
In their debut fantasy novel Where the Rain Cannot Reach, Adesina Brown constructs a world rich with new languages and nuanced considerations of gender and race, ultimately contemplating how, in freeing ourselves from power, we may find true belonging. 


You can find Where The Rain Cannot Reach here:
Bookshop | Barnes & Noble | 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

Author Interview: Catee Ryan

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

About The Author

Catee Ryan

Catee Ryan retired in 2011 after 35 years as a marriage and family therapist. She has dedicated her life to writing since then. She spends her days in her home office in the Coachella Valley, down the street from her wife of 33 years. She enjoys strong coffee, expensive chocolate, and falling asleep on the couch to foreign language murder mysteries on Netflix. Catee’s book of short stories, Diving Home, was published in 2017.

You can find author Ryan here:
Atmosphere Press


Interview

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

My travels have deeply impacted my life and influenced my writing. I proudly claim the title: World Citizen.

Istanbul, Turkey

I lived here for 20 months, attending Robert College, which overlooks the Bosphorus, and living in a dorm with Turkish girls who spoke English in their classes but Turkish in the dorms. I was lonely. I wandered the cobblestone streets of Istanbul alone and found my favorite places to get lamb sandwiches, baklava, and espresso. I learned that although many Turks did not like Americans, they did like me. I fell in love with the cobblestone streets. I elected to stay in Istanbul for another 9 months where I taught English to Turkish adults at a Turk-American Cultural Association. I loved my students. (In Diving Home, my book of linked short stories, you can read more about my Istanbul story in the Cathy section.)

Greenfield, New Hampshire

My first of three jobs teaching outdoor education to 5th and 6th graders in New England. My relationship with nature expanded. I fell in love with the trees, forests, bogs, swamps, lakes, rivers, birds of New England, and the constellations in the night sky. Being in nature is being home. (Diving Home, Maine section.)

Bahia de Culebras, Costa Rica

I was on an archeology dig. I drove from St. Louis to Costa Rica on the Pan American Highway with 5 other Beloit College students; explored numerous Mayan ruins; and had many border crossing experiences. For three months we ate rice and beans three times a day at the dig.

New Zealand

I visited my parents in Palmerston North; hiked the Routeburn Track; met life-long friends who owned a dairy farm in Waiuku and are orienteerers. I fell in love with the New Zealand land, trees, birds, people, and culture, and was impressed that every child received medical and dental care at their school. (In The Prisoner and The Executioner, NZ is a destination.)

Southwestern United States

I had my Soul Year with Animas Valley Institute in Durango, Colorado. (2009-2010) I started the Eco-Psychology Program where I began writing prolifically after our first of four sessions, often waking at 3:13 a.m. with story-poems pouring out of me. I call this year: The Year The Muse Came and I Listened. My #1 gift: I became a writer. (I made a 58-minute CD of my story poems.)

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

At some point my writing partner told me I had to choose the protagonist. This was a difficult choice for me. I wanted there to be two protagonists. Both Eliza and Emma were important to me. I chose Eliza and I gave Emma a large section because I wanted to honor each woman.

My Muse gives me stories and my job is to weave the pieces together. Sometimes this feels daunting. What a story is about is revealed to me over time. I write what I hear.

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

Transformation is possible no matter what your circumstances are. In The Prisoner and The Executioner most of the characters transformed their lives. Eliza lived in a small underground cell for 3 years and 9 months. Initially she had hope that she would be released. When they condemned her to death, she lost hope. She went through Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief—denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Lydia/Emma, Nadia, Brian, Brenda, Celeste, and even MaryLou experienced the grief process and transformed their lives.

At some point in our lives all human beings come face-to-face with grief and loss. I want people to know that no matter what you have lost you can find a way to move through the grief process. You can create a life that you love.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

This time I do not have to choose: I love both Eliza and Emma. Both women have an amazing transformation process. Maiden—Mother—Crone. I love, appreciate, and relate to their struggles and their willingness to do the work it takes to create a life they want. I respect and admire their courage and willingness to show up and have difficult conversations.

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

My Muse began giving me pieces of this story. I said YES! I will take this story on. I had no idea where this story was going. I wrote to prompts which helped me move deeper into this story and its characters. Eventually I got what the story was about. Some of the prompts I wrote to: “If you believe you have it all mapped out…” (25 minutes), “I wonder how I’m going to…” (15 minutes), “When I saw the hanging lightbulb…” (19 minutes), “As I begin to make plans for my trip…” (10 minutes).

Writing to prompts is a great way for me to ignite my creative process.

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

Probably about a year, perhaps 13 months.

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

I have wanted to be on the New York Times bestseller list for a long time. I have wanted to be published by a New York Publishing House. Since getting published by Atmosphere Press, neither of these past ambitions seem to matter as much. I want to make an audiobook of The Prisoner and The Executioner, narrating it myself.

I am working on another novel. The current working title is ISLA. I am beginning to type in the handwritten pieces, which means I am beginning to edit.

I have another novel, Liberty, which is my first novel. I put it aside because I could not do the initial editing. I may want to go back to it.

I like trilogies; I have thought about writing one.

In five years, I see myself having published at least one other novel. More will be revealed as I continue to write daily and am open to getting stories.

Are you working on any other story presently?

I am working on ISLA, a novel. This is the third working title. I am combining two stories and My Muse has given me the connections to be able to do this. I am excited.

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

My Muse has brought me this genre. I choose to listen to her guidance.

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?

After completing Session One of my Soul Year with Animas Valley Institute, Nicole, another Soul Year participant, and I spent the first night in Flagstaff, Arizona. Upon awakening I began getting what turned out to be a poem. Every morning I got more words. I had been a daily journal writer since high school and had been doing Julie Cameron’s Morning Pages for about 15 years. Now I began to get stories that My Muse was giving me at 3:13 a.m. Only one time early on in this process did I not get up and write down the words I was hearing. After that one refusal I was full on in. At some point in the year after I completed my Soul Year I claimed I was a writer. I had no idea what that exactly meant, and I knew it was a big claim. For the past 11 years I have dedicated myself to writing.

This poem came to me in the middle of my Soul Year. (15 April 2010)

It is like this when she wakes in the early morning darkness

Before dawn has shown her pretty little head and the first signs of life appear

This woman who comes every morning holding the hopes of this new day

With new possibilities and treasures in store

If you are only open to receiving them

Do your part

Respond to her call

Whatever time it comes

You do not get to pick when The Muse comes for a visit

She comes when she feels like it

This time her words are one two three, connect the dots

That’s what you get

And you can do it or not

She waits to see what you will do

She doesn’t care if you are tired

She wants to know if you have what it takes to follow the thread from the beginning

To see where it goes without judging if something is good or not

Because it doesn’t matter

What matters is your response to the call

Sometimes the deep and bitter response to the call

You prostrate yourself to the words

You commit yourself to the process

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

Upon awakening I do an hour of meditation followed by a 25-minute proprioceptive write (PW). In her book, Writing the Mind Alive, Linda Metcalf describes this process. This is the proprioceptive question that I ask periodically during this write: What do I mean by…? I pick a word or phrase from what I am hearing and writing and write into that. When the timer goes off at 25 minutes, I answer four questions: What am I feeling now? What did I hear and did not write? What is the larger story? What are possibilities for future writes? Sometimes in my PW I get story.

I am in two writing groups that meet weekly. We write to prompts in both groups and I get more story. We read our work out loud and people give feedback.

Weekly for the past 11 years, Grace, another Soul Year participant, and I read our PW writes to each other.

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

I write in 8½-by-11-inch hardbound journals with blank pages (no lines). I write with two different types of pens. Both have black ink. I prefer a quiet space in my home when I write and I can write anywhere. When I begin to type the handwritten pieces into the computer, I begin my first edit.

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

Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

1Q84, Haruki Murakami

Surfacing, Margaret Atwood

Carthage, Joyce Carol Oates

The Lying Game, Ruth Ware

My 5 favorite authors: Haruki Murakami, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Strout, Tana French

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I do my PW daily.

I acknowledge I am stuck.

I write about being stuck.

I talk about my stuckness.

I ask My Muse for story.

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

Writers write. Sometimes we like what we write, sometimes we don’t. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we write no matter how we feel.

Make a commitment to write. Be specific regarding where, when, how long, and what tools you need.

Get an accountability partner if you need one. It helps to have someone supporting us to do what we say we want to do.

Write whether you feel like writing or not.

Develop a writing practice.

Consider joining a writing group or taking a writing class.

Read your work out loud to yourself and eventually to others.

Read a lot of books and notice writing styles, characters, and dialogue that you like and don’t like.

As William Stafford says: When I write, I like to have an interval before me when I am not likely to be interrupted. For me this usually means the early morning, before others are awake. I get pen and paper, take a glance out the window (often it is dark out there), and wait. It is like fishing. But I do not wait very long for there is always a nibble—-and this is where receptivity comes in. To get started I will accept anything that occurs to me.

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

About the Book

The Prisoner and The Executioner

Eliza Jacobs, a former midwife, high school counselor, and child advocate, is now a death row inmate. She was falsely accused and wrongly convicted of murdering Lydia Garth, a fifteen-year-old student. Today is Eliza’s execution day.
Brian Stafford, The Executioner and son of The Warden, is scheduled to execute Eliza. The Executioner knows The Prisoner is innocent and he will not be complicit in killing her.
Lydia Garth, now Emma Maxwell, is a nineteen-year-old sexual abuse survivor living in Santa Fe. When Emma becomes aware of Eliza’s imprisonment she ‘rises from the dead’ and contacts the FBI.
In The Prisoner and The Executioner by Catee Ryan, the reader is drawn into the horrors of injustice, the dark side of human nature, and the transformative power of love.


You can find The Prisoner and The Executioner here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Readers’ Favorite

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: Rosemary Nichols

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

About The Author

Rosemary Nichols

Rosemary Nichols practiced land use law for 50 years before she was able to write historical fiction full time. Nurturing an abiding fascination with America’s Civil War years, with this book Rosemary begins a series on the impact of that extraordinary conflict upon residents of the United States, particularly New York.

She has previously published three books of Nineteenth Century historical fiction. The two co-authored volumes earned significant writing awards. Her third published book begins a planned series on building the Erie Canal. Each book highlights a different place on the canal and a different newly invented technology that aided construction. Rosemary has lived for 35 years in a small city (Watervliet) on the banks of the Hudson River in upstate New York with her son and a collection of terriers. These days when she is not writing Rosemary restores her 140 year old house, gardens, makes jewelry and old-fashioned hats, watches birds at the feeders, and volunteers for a variety of organizations celebrating history. Please contact Rosemary at rosemarygailnichols@gmail.com

You can find author Nichols here:
Website


Interview

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

I love to read. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t read. My five sisters and brothers and I lived for many years on a relatively remote ranch in central Arizona. The configuration of the ranch at the bottom of a canyon meant telecommunication of any kind in the 1950s was challenging. There was no television, and only one country radio station, and that was late at night. Our indoor entertainment came from reading. Both my father and mother were avid readers when time allowed from the challenge of managing a small cattle ranch, so reading was normal to me as a child. We all read so the books got well-used, being passed from hand to hand.

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

I have been studying the American Civil War since I was a high school student. I set out the summer between my junior and senior years in high school to write ‘the great American Civil War novel’. Fortunately, I got distracted. At that time I would have written a derivative, cliché-ridden story. But the Civil War kept nagging at the back of my head through undergraduate and graduate school.

In the part of upstate New York where I have lived since June of 1972, the original European settlers were the Dutch, who came in 1624. After New York was taken over by the English in 1664, many of the Dutch families stayed. New York was their home. Why leave? The colonial Dutch heritage of New York has always been a theme in the history of upstate. Since the Knickerbockers are an original settler minority in the rich mosaic of New York’s population, and culturally very distinct from the early English settlers, I thought it would be fun to create a large family derived from the original Dutch settlers and learn what their experience might have been in 19th-century New York.

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

I wanted to share the insight that for black citizens in the North during the entire 19th century pre-war period, even coming from a monied family did not necessarily protect you. Lately there has been good work done by Civil War Era scholars writing about kidnapping of black Northerners into the South. See Jonathan Daniel Wells, The Kidnapping Club: Wall Street, Slavery, and Resistance on the Eve of the Civil War. Solomon Northup was a Saratoga Springs man who was kidnapped and held for more than a decade as a field hand in Louisiana before his family learned where he was and how to obtain his freedom. Solomon’s story, Twelve Years a Slave, has always fascinated me. Only lately have New York museums and Civil War study groups begun to acknowledge the ugly history of slavery in the Empire State. I think that is useful information to highlight in our current culture.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

That’s a tough question because I ended up liking or being intrigued by almost all the characters, including the villain. I started the book from the perspective of 13-year-old Amaranda Van der Peyster, so I have known her longest. I do remember being invisible to the larger world by virtue of my sex and age. No one ever asked me to do a brave series of actions as Ama was called upon to perform, but I hope I would have found the same kind of courage she summoned to help rescue Carl and Hannah.

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

To my eyes, the period immediately before the shooting part of the Civil War is intriguing. Everything is in flux. Loyalties are being tested in all ways. Small acts can have large consequences. That is certainly grist for a novelist’s imagination. This book and the series of which it is first has been in my mind for so long that if there was a single triggering element, I have forgotten it.

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

I write relatively quickly once I have my research in hand. In one sense I have been researching and writing this book for more than 50 years. In terms of putting text to paper in the present incarnation, I had been engaged in that work for less than a year before the book was submitted to publisher Atmosphere Press and its talented staff.

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

I want to become a better, more skilled storyteller with each year. Stolen is the initial volume in an open-ended series about New Yorkers in the Civil War. There are so many stories that can be told from a broader perspective than soldiers serving. On the other hand, I also want to make room for additional volumes in my Building the Erie Canal series. That series has a finite end, 1826, with the initial volume set in 1817. 

In five years, I would hope to have six additional books published to complement the four, of which Stolen is the most recent. 

Are you working on any other story presently?

Like lots of writers, I have plots circling around in my head. I am trying not to distract myself from the Civil War series and the Building the Erie Canal books. The first volume on the Erie Canal, Murder in Rome, came out in 2017. The second, Missing from Utica, got delayed with the closing of the archives of three places where I need to do research to learn more about one of the major characters, a famous Erie Canal engineer, Canvass White. Now that the archives are open for the fully-vaccinated, I have no more excuses to procrastinate. 

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

I write historical fiction because that is my favorite subject to read. I enjoy reading in lots of different eras and locales but for my own work, I like 19th-century America. It is an era on which I have focused my learning and I think I have an affinity for the history.

Several years ago, I wrote a three volume series of fantasy about nation building on a previously uninhabited Earth-like planet. The series garnered some agent interest but I have not pursued it because I think I should focus on the books I have in hand in a genre where I feel competent.

My family is both very old and comparatively new immigrants to what became North America. Two branches of my father’s family settled respectively in Quebec and Tidewater Virginia in the 1640s. My mother’s parents came to the United States from Norway in 1915. Along the way several of the ancestors had some interesting adventures. Two of my 19th-century ancestors wrote well-regarded memoirs that are still in print. When I can I do some genealogical and other research on who the family members were and where they were with an eye toward doing something with the material. It may end up being nothing more than a series of short pieces for my siblings and our children so it is easier for them to remember where we came from.

I think I had an unusual childhood. A number of people, with whom I have workshopped my memoir about a dramatic family incident related to our departure from our ranch home, have agreed. The memoir is almost finished. It just needs polishing and a good editor. I will find both of those essential elements someday. A good story doesn’t spoil over time.

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? (feel free to give us your story, we love hearing author stories!)

My stepdaughter, Michaela MacColl, is a well-regarded writer of historical fiction usually aimed at young adults. She recognized before I did a decade ago it was time for me to give up the practice of law and embark on my long-held wish to write historical fiction full-time. 

I was always too engrossed in my cases and projects to successfully carve out time to pursue a writer’s life part-time as a number of successful lawyers such as Steve Berry, Scott Turow and John Grisham have done. For me it was all or nothing. I had to stop being a lawyer in order in my own mind to satisfactorily become a writer.

Michaela was approached by a friend who had just become the managing editor of a young people’s imprint owned by Boyds Mill Press. Michaela was invited to submit a proposal for a series with the imprint. She had contractual responsibilities to another publisher that raised questions in her mind whether she would have the time to fill both publishers’ expectations as she would wish. She asked if I would like to join her in coauthoring a series we called Hidden Histories. It was an opportunity to bring to light some of the many stories that have gotten lost in the mists of time, with a focus on young people. I was to carry the laboring oar on the history part. Michaela would, at least initially, handle more of the writing duties. We published two books together, Freedom’s Price and The Lost Ones, both of which were commercial successes and won writing awards. 

Given Michaela’s importance in my successful introduction to writing and publishing, I think I was able through her good offices to slide relatively easily into the business of being a full-time writer. Having heard the heart-rending horror stories of the challenges that have confronted people who are now successful published writers only because of amazing perseverance, I feel my path as a writer was made much smoother by initially traveling it with Michaela.

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

I am a morning person. I do my best work before noon, so that is a characteristic I try to accommodate. 

I reconfigured my office so it now says ‘writer,’ not ‘lawyer.’ I changed the art on the walls. I changed the books in the shelves. I liked my desk, my lighting and my chair so I kept them but instead of being the command center of a busy office, they now face an interior wall on which I have installed a large display board where I put relevant elements of what I am presently working on. For example, all the time I was writing Stolen, I had two large calendars, one showing 1860, the other 1861. Though I didn’t end up writing beyond January 1, 1861 as the end of Stolen, I left that 1861 calendar to remind myself there needed to be some clues in the story that looked forward beyond the end I was presently writing. I also displayed a variety of images of the places I was writing about, since I chose to use actual geography and existing buildings in support of the story.  This visual display obviously changes with each book.

One of the ways I plot is by telling myself a story every night as I go to sleep. It is my goal to write all or part of that story the next day. Sometimes that works; sometimes not. In any event, come the morning I edit whatever I have written in the past couple of days. This has two benefits. It reminds me where I am in the story, useful because my stories are factually dense. It also cleans up glitches I may not have noticed as I was writing or editing the day before. I may be excessively sensitive, but I would rather catch my factual hiccups or plotting overlooks before my editor does.

I write fairly fast though I edit slowly. I learn a lot about editing from each of the editors with whom I work. I hope that makes me a better client for the editor and a better writer as I incorporate more of the wisdom of people other than myself into the structure and execution of the stories.

Once I finish my edits I then turn my attention to my day’s writing. I expect to produce at least a chapter every day. Since my chapters are between 2000 and 5000 words, that daily writing diet requires between one and three hours. If I come to a natural stopping point as at the end of a chapter, I stop writing. I am confident that if I am short on words on Monday, I will make up the deficit on Tuesday.

From then on, the afternoon is devoted to more of my life. If I am not doing research, I garden, play with my dogs, read or exercise. I also have been doing more organized promotion of my books, which is something I enjoy.

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

I have terrible penmanship. There was a flawed concept in the training of early 20th century elementary school teachers that said if a child picks up a pencil or pen with the left hand, you will be doing him or her a favor if you press them to use the right hand as the majority of the population does. I was one of those instinctive lefties. When my beloved first/second/third grade teacher Mrs. Potter (it was a one-room schoolhouse) urged me to learn to write with my right hand, I tried to comply. The price of that obedience was terrible, almost illegible, handwriting all my life. My penmanship is so bad that not only almost everyone I have ever worked with, but also myself, find it difficult to decipher my written notes a few days after they were created. Not a good formula for writing longhand with a pencil or pen.

From the earliest days of commercially available computers, I have sought them out. In the beginning it was word processing equipment. Then came true computers, which I have used faithfully since the early 1980s. If I didn’t have access to a computer, I don’t know that I could write legibly enough to produce any meaningful text. 

The one difference I find, which I view as a plus, is that having produced the bulk of the words in a chapter by a process where I type as fast as I can talk (which is pretty fast), on the many edits that follow I can work hard to refine the elegance of the language. Since that kind of language is a hallmark of 19th-century writing, I view that as a positive though I never feel constrained to imitate 19th-century novels. Readers today, myself included, have no patience for all those words.

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

That is a hard question for me to answer. Having been in the habit of reading an average of 5 fiction books and 1 to 3 nonfiction books a week for almost 75 years, I’ve read a lot of books. I love books. I love the way they feel in my hands, the way they look, the way books smell, the graphics on the cover and inside, the fonts. I feel privileged to live in a time when so many books are available in so many formats. [I do read on the computer, both my office and laptop as well as my phone.]

I can better talk about favorite authors. No surprise, almost all of them are historical fiction of one form or another. My current most favorite author is Louise Penny. I have read all of her books about the enchanting little Three Pines village in rural Quebec. When I read an interview where she said she had not expected to ever write again, having lost her beloved husband, I grieved not only for her loss but also for mine. When she published the Madness of Crowds, I was glad to see the author had not lost a step. Then when a few months later Louise Penny coauthored a thriller, State of Terror, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, I was confident her writing life will long endure. 

A longtime favorite author is Anne Perry. I very much enjoy her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt and William and Harriet Monk series as well as the five volumes of World War I historical fiction. Just when it seemed the author was finished with her writing life, she started two apparently open-ended new series. The Daniel Pitt books allow us to see inside the sometime messy practice of law (untidy in the 19th century; still that way) from the perspective of a bright but somewhat naive young man. The Elena Standish series, focused on the then newish profession of photography, allows the author to move into the World War II period. I have enjoyed the volumes I have read in these two series and look forward to others in the future. 

I am constantly charmed by Perry’s Christmas volumes. Both physically smaller and slimmer in subject matter, these novellas now number 19 with volume 20 at the publishers for Christmas 2021. They allow Perry to explore in more depth some of the interesting occasional characters she has created in the main series with a lighter touch and a guaranteed happy ending. Just right for reading after a nice Christmas dinner sitting in front of the fireplace with an appropriate holiday beverage close at hand.

One of the themes that always plays in the back of my mind when I read a Perry book is the amazing value of redemption. Most regular readers of 19th-century fiction know Perry and her beloved girlfriend joined together as 15-year-olds in 1954 to murder the other girl’s mother. No surprise, they were quickly apprehended. Sentenced to prison in New Zealand in an indeterminate sentence, Perry served 5 years. She moved to Scotland, took on a variety of different occupations, but started writing professionally in 1979 and never stopped. Talk about overcoming self-created adversity.

Moving to writers with American roots, I am especially fond of C. S. Harris, who writes the Viscount Devlin (Sebastian St. Cyr) early 19th-century series.  I always enjoy reading Charles Todd not only for the Inspector Ian Rutledge stories, which are great, but also for the puzzle the joint authors create. I always try, and usually fail, to figure out which author – mother or son – is responsible for which pieces of the story. My interest is probably stimulated by having been part of a joint writer team myself. Going back and trying to critically review Rory’s Promise and Freedom’s Price, after a few years I find it difficult to parse out which pieces of the books Michaela wrote and which pieces I contributed. No wonder I can’t decipher the separate contributions of the mother and son in the Charles Todd team.

Devlin and Rutledge served in two brutal wars, Devlin in the wars with Napoleon, Rutledge in the trenches in World War I. Since one of my major characters in my Erie Canal series also suffers from what we today call PTSD, I am always interested to see how other writers handle the symptoms and consequences of battle upon supposedly surviving soldiers. Having two Marine sons, each of whom served in one version or the other of the 20th-century Iraq wars, that is a topic of more than academic interest: how do soldiers, sailors and Marines find their way home from battle.

Finally, I would mention a writer who only gingerly put his foot into historical fiction in what became the United States. James McGee wrote a six-volume series about a very early Bow Street Runner, Matthew Hawkwood. Most of the last of the six books, The Reckoning, takes place in the wilderness of northern New York with Mohawk warriors as major characters. It seemed to be a successful series. There was no obvious reason why McGee had to stop with the 2017 volume, but he did. In one sense, I admire McGee who at least nonverbally says to his fans, “I don’t have anything else to say about this character.” He has stuck to his guns. Six books are it. I admire that, though I would love at least one more book.  I have a chronologically imposed deadline of ten books for my Erie Canal series. That is one for each year it took to build the original Erie Canal, starting in 1817, with the last book in 1826 for celebration of the success. Will I follow McGee’s example, get to the end of the story as history and stop, or will I be tempted to add just one more book to the pile?

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I have not yet suffered from Writer’s Block. I have reached places in books from which I cannot at the moment write forward. My solution for that is more research. My deficit is not characters or action. It is answering ‘what happens next’ in a way that is true to the history and engaging for my readers.  Picking a different angle to research, or re-reading a scholarly book usually solves my problem. I get ideas about moving the story forward, or a new character steps onto the stage who jars the story loose from its muddy trap, or just taking some self-imposed time to think through the writing problem I perceive has always pulled me out of the trap. But there is another trap waiting around the corner. Transportation in the 19th century was dreadful or worse. I’m not getting smug.

Another help for me is that, though I do not write it down as the formal outline many writers use, I know the arc of my story before I put fingers to keyboard. I know where the story is going. That is partly determined by the known history. I don’t do counterfactual history. Harry Turtledove’s alternate universe is not for me.

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

Read. Read as much and as broadly as your time and inclination allows. If you can, as you read run two tracks in your mind. The first track is the story. That’s why you are reading that book, essay, or poem. The second track is a learning track for you. How does the author do many things: engage your interest; sustain that interest; seem credible; create engaging characters; respect the genre or know you are violating its norms; tell the story in a reasonable number of pages.

If that double track is hard for you, don’t do it. Read the book for its pleasure. Then, if the book seems worth it, read it as a learning experience for you as a writer. Not every book will merit that level of your attention. As you read, you will become a more sophisticated reader. You may still love the books of your youth, but you are revisiting them as much for the memory they trigger as the books themselves. There is no reason why we should abandon our beloved book friends.

If everyone you trust is raving about a work and you despise it, consider why you are the reading outlier. You may learn a lot about yourself and your writing from that internal review. Self-knowledge is never wasted. I learned I am quite judgmental in the privacy of my own brain about what constitutes good writing. It isn’t always what sells. What I consider quality matters to me, in my own writing and in the work I choose to read for my education or recreation.

There is a well-published writer focused on digital books whose name on a promotion simply causes me to move to the next offering by someone else. I don’t even read the description. I read a book she wrote and I hated it. I thought it was derivative. The characters were cardboard. I had seen the plot before. Then I thought I was being too harsh, so I selected another of her books. I became even more set in my earlier negative opinion. In the second book the author had not even chosen to perform her own editing or engage a competent editor. There were factual inconsistencies between one chapter and the next. The book was rife with typos and grammatical mistakes. She got the names of the characters wrong from one place to the next. I felt disrespected as a reader. Why should I spend my precious time immersed in such an unsatisfactory product about which the author obviously did not care?

If the author does not merit your attention, using whatever criteria you impose, put the book back on the shelf or erase it from your computer. Life is short. Don’t waste your time. I used to feel a moral imperative to finish what I started. I don’t feel that way anymore. 

Thank you, Nichols, for your honest and insightful answers!

About the Book

Stolen (Civil War Series Volume #1)

“This is the first of what I hope will be a saga about the Van der Peysters, their family illustrating aspects of the Civil War other authors seldom consider.  Rosemary has ample experience with the Civil War historical community and knows her history very well indeed.”
– Robert E. Mulligan, Associate Curator of Military History New York State Museum

Fall of 1860. America lurches toward Civil War. Two students on their way to college are kidnapped into slavery. What is their family to do?
When Hannah and Carl vanish in Cleveland, it takes months to learn the two young people are prisoners in New Orleans, scheduled to be sold into slavery on January 5, 1861.
Lincoln has been elected. Southern states are seceding. For Northerners, the streets of New Orleans and its courts are now unfriendly places.
What is a family to do to prevent their cousins from vanishing into the horror of the seceding South?
Take their courage and baggage in hand, and travel to rescue them.

You can find Stolen here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop | Feathered Quill | Readers’ Favorite


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: A.M. Grotticelli

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

About The Author

A.M. Grotticelli

A.M. Grotticelli is a veteran technology trade journalist who resides in suburban New Jersey. After a life of overcoming similar challenges, he is an avid supporter of foster kids aging out of the foster care system at 18 and provides encouragement to all who need it.

You can find author Grotticelli here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook


Interview

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

I am a technology journalist who has worked for various trade and consumer publications over the past 30 years, writing about cameras, microphones and everything else used to make television shows. In high school I was part of the video production department, so I guess I learned the ropes then.

I have a natural curiosity for many things and try to stay well balanced in my hobbies (from guitar to collecting football trading cards). I also feel that the written word is a powerful thing to leave behind.

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

The book is a tale about what fostercare does to a person’s emotions. Through it, I hope to bring some attention to the plight of kids that turn 18 and are “aged out” of the system and have to fend for themselves. I also plan to start an online discussion group with foster kids to help them make the difficult transition a bit easier.

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?

That foster kids are people too. This book shine a light on what it really feels like to want to be part of a family. Too many people take that for granted today.

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

This is a story that needed to be told. I’ve been carrying it around in my head for 30 years and have now decided it’s time to share it with the world.

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

Four years (and many rewrites).

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

I am a professional writer by trade, so my ambition with this book is to shed light on a social issue that needs more attention.

Are you working on any other book presently?

Yes.

Do you also dabble in Fiction?

Yes, my next book will be fiction and is called Stupid Cupid. It’s about a hopeless romantic who tries to fix everyone’s relationship around him but can’t get his own relationships right. He spends a lot of time in a psychiatrist’s office. It’s a comedy. 

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? (feel free to give us your story, we love hearing author stories!)

I have kept a diary or journal for most of my life. Although I wrote often as a small kid, I knew I wanted to a professional writer after reading The Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

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

I write every day at different times of the day. I enjoy writing, so I never have a problem making the time. Finding a regimen is important, but there are no right or wrong hours or times of day/night to work. The key for me is to feel like I’m making progress. That could be ten pages or two paragraphs. Both forward my story, so both are helpful to the eventual goal.

Can you recommend a book or two based on themes or ideas similar to your book? (You can share the name of the authors too.)

Educated by Tara Westover and To the End of June By Cris Beam.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I don’t call it “writer’s block.” When I feel stuck, it’s time to get up from my desk and think about what I am writing. I call it “refreshing” for the next chapter. It’s not good to fight your manuscript. Sometimes you have to listen to your thoughts. Just listen.

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

If you have a story to tell, tell it. I had to write The Bond or I couldn’t live with myself. The story is that important. We live in a world now where there are many ways to publish a book, including just putting it online. Nothing should be holding you back from telling you story. If you are a writer, then you should be writing, not waiting and hoping for a book deal. It’s also a great thing to leave behind for the next generation of your family.

Thank you, Grotticelli, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Bond

The Bond is a powerful memoir that chronicles the strength of the relationships formed among a collection of unrelated siblings who forged a remarkable, separate, and permanent family within a foster home.

Kirkus.com calls it: “A poignant, infuriating, informative, and ultimately triumphant account of an unusual clan.”
BookLife.com wrote: “Grotticelli’s unsparing honesty about his birth and foster families will make readers wince and keep them marveling at the indomitability of these children. That the foster siblings were able to forge familial bonds with each other is extraordinary.”
OnlineBookClub.com said: “This is a book about real people, real lives and real feelings. It is the story of their triumph over adversity and their struggle to find the kind of family love that many of us take for granted.”

You can find The Bond here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes and Noble | Independent Book Review | Readers’ Favorite


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: Cathleen Cohen

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Cathleen Cohen for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Cathleen Cohen

Cathleen Cohen was the 2019 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, PA. A painter and teacher, she founded the We the Poets program at ArtWell, an arts education non-profit in Philadelphia (theartwell.org). Her poems appear in journals such as Apiary, Baltimore Review, Cagibi, East Coast Ink, 6ix, North of Oxford, One Art, Passager, Philadelphia Stories, Rockvale Review and Rogue Agent. Camera Obscura (chapbook, Moonstone Press) appeared in 2017 and Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press), 2021. She received the Interfaith Relations Award from the Montgomery County PA Human Rights Commission and the Public Service Award from National Association of Poetry Therapy. Her paintings are on view at Cerulean Arts Gallery (ceruleanarts.com).

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


Interview

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

I’m a painter, writer and teacher in the Philadelphia area. My family, students, and community have been a big source of inspiration, as has being a painter.

After 9/11, I was galvanized, along with other poets and artists, to create programs for children in our area to express themselves through the creative arts – since few arts programs existed for them. (www.theArtwell.org). There are so many diverse and rich cultures in our area. Teaching has inspired me to write, paint and think deeply about life.

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

As the Covid-19 pandemic caused social isolation, I (like many others) couldn’t teach in classrooms. But this gave me more free time to read others’ poetry, ponder and write more of my own poems, to hear my own inner voice. For years I focused on teaching poetry to others, but this project resulted from an enforced personal artist’s retreat.

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

All sorts of experiences will happen to us, joys and challenges. Things are broken and need repair. When such brokenness come to us (big and small, including big social upheavals, personal challenges, etc.) we can notice, listen and process things through creative acts, alone or in community. We can reach out to others. This can help. 

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

Sparks and Disperses was inspired by an art project that my daughter-in-law, Tiffany, and our friend, Gila, had begun. They were working on a beautiful ceramic mural outdoors. It was a joy to help them, to stand together for hours, even in the cold with our masks on, clipping ceramics and placing tiles. Neighbors dropped off contributions in the form of old plates and such. It became a communal project. There were neighbors next door who raised chickens in a coop (in the city, which was illegal!) These chickens would keep us company and peck at our feet as we worked. I included them in the poems.

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

It took a few months. A few of the poems are edited versions of writing I had begun years back. It was exciting to revise them and piece them together with new poems for the manuscript. Sparks and Disperses is actually the second book that I wrote during this period of Covid. The first is Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press).

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

I plan to continue teaching as well as writing poems. Hopefully my own poems will grow richer and deeper over time. So many topics are inspiring: stories of the self and others, issues of community and social justice, the importance of creativity. 

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

I like the lyrical, imagistic properties of poems and how they can resonate on so many levels. They can be a narrative, personal, emotional, a glimpse of a powerful moment. They can reach out to the reader, who bring their own meaning to the poem. How a poet uses the space of the page or between lines and stanzas can be powerful. So much is open and filled with potential. I don’t write much in other genres, but am a painter. My paintings definitely relate to my poems. (www.cathleencohenart.com)

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

My family moved to a new community when I was about 10 years old. A shy child, I was barely able to raise my hand and speak in my new classroom. But our teacher, Mr. DeFalco, was so creative and loved poetry and art. He took us on many field trips to museums in New York City. I remember making mobiles like Calder’s and painting “snow paintings” as we stood outside at our easels, pelted by snow. We read and wrote poetry every day. I seemed to have a flair for it, which my teacher recognized, and I became the “class poet”. This forced me to speak and join the community. What a gift he gave me.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? And how do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Often I write in the morning if my schedule allows, and I try to “make an appointment” with myself to write. I like to write on the computer using a voice activated program,

because that keeps up with the speed of my inner language. Sometimes I take a walk and dictate into my cell phone. It probably looks pretty strange, but maybe the neighbors just think I’m on a call! 

I edit poems later, anytime of the day.

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

When I was young, I wrote longhand in a notebook. Lately if I am outdoors painting landscape and ideas come to me, I will use a notebook. But if I have a real flow of ideas coming and am home, I use the computer and my voice activated program.

Who are your 5 favorite books or authors? 

This is a hard and delightful question. My favorites change by the week, depending what I am reading. Some favorite current poets: Ilya Kaminsky, Briget Pegeen Kelly, Eleanor Wilner, Aracelis Girmay, and the late A.V. Christie (who was one of my teachers).

How do you deal with writer’s block?

Sometimes our brains and souls need a rest! When those times come, I try to get more downtime, connect with others, go outside and walk, read, paint, listen to music, hear what others have to tell me. I try to be a better listener.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I would say to read widely, not just others’ poetry, but from a variety of genres. Keep a journal. Listen deeply to others—including those who feel challenging for you. It helps to have a scheduled time to write, (it’s the same for painting.) This helps your subconscious relax, I think. It can be beneficial to participate in workshops (there are so many available lately, especially online.) It’s nice to have a partner or group where you can share your work– but make sure it’s a safe space, not riddled with competition. I once had a great workshop leader who said, “You have to read and critique another person’s poem with love and care, as if it’s your own.” This is great advice.

Thank you, Cathleen, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Sparks And Disperses

The poems in Cathleen Cohen’s Sparks and Disperses reckon with contemporary life through the perspective of visual artists. Drawing on an ancient Kabbalistic myth of the “shattering of vessels,” Cohen explores issues of fracture, healing, and creation; the challenges of poverty, isolation, and the pandemic; and how we can find meaning and joy through artmaking. By building a poetic mural made of cracked ceramics, household items, and glass shards, Cohen promotes healing through continuity and hope.

You can find Sparks And Disperses 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 Spotlight: Richard R. Becker

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Richard R. Becker on The Reading Bud and his upcoming book 50 States.

About The Author

Richard R. Becker

Richard R. Becker is an award-winning American writer. His debut collection of literary, psychological, and speculative fiction began as a project to write one story a week for 50 weeks. He continues to expand many of these stories for inclusion in a second collection, and expects some will evolve into larger works.

When he is not writing fiction, Richard works as a creative strategist for Copywrite, Ink., a 30-year-old strategic communication and writing services firm with clients that have included government agencies and Fortune 500 companies. He has also been very active as a community servant, previously taught classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for 20 years, and has been a featured speaker for organizations such as G2E World Gaming Expo, Nevada Recreation and Parks Society, Regis University, U.S. Small Business Administration, and Wizard World Comic Con.

As a journalist, Richard has written hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, with his byline appearing in the Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, and publications for Simon & Schuster and Paramount Communications. He also scripted a documentary produced with PBS and contributed to five books, including “Beyond Generation X: A Practical

Guide for Managers” and the American Ambulance Association’s “Public Relations Handbook.” 
Aside from his writing, he enjoys a broad range of activities, including travel, hiking, exercise, photography, and illustration. He is married and has two children.

You can find author Becker here:
Author Page | Amazon | Goodreads Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Blog


About the Book

50 States: A Collection Of Short Short Stories

50 States is a debut collection of short stories that reflect on the human condition. The book spans several literary genres, moods, and situations across the American states between 1955 and 2020.

Two runaways cross paths in a Tennessee bus station with only one ticket between them. A middle-aged man in Illinois eyes the daily grind of a young basketball player who never boards the school bus. A family sees looters racing toward their home as they escape an Oregon wildfire. 

These and 47 more stories make up the collection. Together, they provide a sampling of the American experience over the last 60 years, similar to the Spoon River Anthology by Edger Less Masters or The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer with more diversity. 

You can find 50 States here:

Amazon (Print) | Amazon (Kindle) | Barnes & Nobel | Books-A-Million | Apple (with graphics) | Apple (with aoutflow) | Google | Google (with aoutflow) | Target | Blurb | Kobo | Odilo E-Sentral Ciando


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 R. Becker

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Richard R. Becker for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Richard R. Becker

Richard R. Becker is an award-winning American writer. His debut collection of literary, psychological, and speculative fiction began as a project to write one story a week for 50 weeks. He continues to expand many of these stories for inclusion in a second collection, and expects some will evolve into larger works.
When he is not writing fiction, Richard works as a creative strategist for Copywrite, Ink., a 30-year-old strategic communication and writing services firm with clients that have included government agencies and Fortune 500 companies. He has also been very active as a community servant, previously taught classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for 20 years, and has been a featured speaker for organizations such as G2E World Gaming Expo, Nevada Recreation and Parks Society, Regis University, U.S. Small Business Administration, and Wizard World Comic Con.

As a journalist, Richard has written hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, with his byline appearing in the Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, and publications for Simon & Schuster and Paramount Communications. He also scripted a documentary produced with PBS and contributed to five books, including “Beyond Generation X: A Practical

Guide for Managers” and the American Ambulance Association’s “Public Relations Handbook.” 
Aside from his writing, he enjoys a broad range of activities, including travel, hiking, exercise, photography, and illustration. He is married and has two children.

You can find author Becker here:
Author Page | Amazon | Goodreads Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Blog


Interview

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

Thanks so much for including me on TRB! My name is Richard Becker, and I’m the author of 50 States. Until recently, I was best known as an accredited business communicator and president of Copywrite, Ink., which is a writing services and strategic communication firm based in Las Vegas. 

For more than 30 years, I’ve developed campaigns for clients all over the world, including the City of Henderson, Fidelity Investments, McDonald’s, National Emergency Number Association (NENA), U.S. Air Force, and Volkswagen. Concurrently, I’ve worked as a journalist, magazine publisher, and university instructor. I’ve also been very active in my community, helping out on nonprofit and professional organization boards. Right now, for example, I’m serving as a city council-appointed parks commissioner for the City of Las Vegas.

Over the years, I’ve refocused my work with those who aspire to make the world a better place or seek to advance humankind. Along with this, I’m investing more time into writing fiction.

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

50 States is an eclectic collection of stories that explore the human condition, filled with characters who face or cope with life-changing moments, both real and surreal. 

It’s especially suited for people who enjoy many different genres: literary fiction, psychological fiction, speculative fiction, and historical fiction specifically. One reader described it as a box of chocolates because you never really know what’s next. There is some truth to their description. The diversity of the stories has been called out as one of its greatest strengths. 

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

As different as the stories are, they are much like life — an infinite series of intersecting stories, paths that cross, divide, and double back again. While it isn’t necessarily apparent in this collection, all of these stories are connected in small or significant ways. 

Independently, I hope readers find whatever they want inside each story because I don’t believe in forcing a message. Collectively, however, I hope they find we are more alike than different, all of us experiencing life with our collection of joys and pains, triumphs and tribulations.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why? 

This is a very tough question because there are so many stories, each with its own set of characters. So, for this interview, I think I’ll call out Ellen Williamson from ‘A Beautiful Day.’ The story takes place in Pennsylvania in 1990.

Ellen is an older woman, a grandmother, near the end of her life and resolute in knowing it. She isn’t afraid of death. Instead, she embraces its eventuality, content in her life’s completeness, lighter in what she has let go of, and only mildly remorseful for those she leaves behind.

I identify with Ellen because I was raised by a grandmother very much like this and experienced a similar feeling when I was diagnosed with cancer years ago. Except, in my case, I was fortunate enough to beat it.

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

I was a storyteller all my life. My grandmother used to tell me that I should be a lawyer because I had a story for everything. It wasn’t until much later in life, in college, that I learned to channel storytelling into writing so I could write other people’s stories. 

A couple of years ago, on the advice of a friend, I finally committed to putting my stories first by creating a self-imposed deadline to write one short story a week for 50 weeks. Everything else, the different locations and states of mind, evolved naturally from being immersed in the project.

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

The book took 50 weeks to write ‘first look’ drafts that I started sharing on a social network every week in September 2019. Once all of the stories were finished, the collection took a few more months to edit again, on my own and with editors, and put it into production. 

I originally slated six months for editing and production, but a family crisis and tragedy postponed publishing the book for another four months. This also made the initial launch a little haphazard, but things are moving along nicely now.

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

Eventually, I will focus exclusively on writing fiction. I have so many writing projects in the works or waiting in the wings — several collections of short stories and at least five novels. Most of them involve or intersect with characters or locations that exist in 50 States because many of these characters and locales have so much more story to tell. Time will tell how much I can wrap up in the next five years, but I’m hopeful more and more people will enjoy what will become a body of work. 

Are you working on any other books presently?

I’m currently working on several projects at once. I’ve written about eight stories that connect with or continue some of the stories in 50 States. I’m working on a much longer story set in Goldfield, Nevada, in the 1950s. And I’ve outlined what I think will be the first novel. So we’ll see how it all shapes up. I treat writing fiction a little bit like someone might garden. I tend to what needed to be tended. 

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

I’m a very eclectic reader, so I suppose it’s only natural to be a very eclectic writer. I write in multiple genres or cross-genres because, for me, I go wherever the stories want to take me. 

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

I was always a storyteller, but I never expected to become a writer. I was even held back in the third grade because I couldn’t read very well. I wanted to be an artist, and then a psychologist, and then an artist again. My stories were often told with pictures. 

When I realized I didn’t want to become a psychologist, I transferred schools with this idea to combine art and psychology so I could find a job in advertising. But when I arrived at my new school, they told me they had an advertising program through their journalism school. So that’s what I did. They taught me how to write, and I built a career as a writer after I graduated. What the challenge became, for me, was never having time to write my own stories. I was a slave to everyone else’s deadline. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? And how do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I wake up early, work out, and settle into writing first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee. I usually read whatever I wrote last, edit a few things, and then find my rhythm to carry it forward. On the best days, I see and feel the stories unfold in my mind’s eye. Then I write what I see and feel. 

I might add that working on 50 States with the self-imposed deadline of a new story every week did talk me out of this comfort zone on occasion. Sometimes I would have to thumb the story out on my phone while I was at the softball fields with my daughter. 

Who are your 5 favorite books or authors? 

Oh, I’ll have to go with authors because it’s too hard to pin down my favorite books. 

I always start with Ernest Hemingway and John Updike because they were so very good at writing straight, honest prose about people. After those two, it becomes more of an ever-changing potluck. I love the rawness of Zora Neale Hurston’s work, the poetic descriptiveness of Peter Heller, and, recently, the developing work of S.A. Cosby.  

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

50 States would have never happened had I not listened to my friend Geoff Livingston. Geoff had a heavy marketing deadline schedule as I do, but he managed to write several books and later transform himself into a photographer. So I asked how he found the time. 

He said you have to put your projects first. This really clicked for me a couple of years ago, and I set Monday mornings aside to start a new story every week. I also carved out time to take online classes from writers who are masters of their craft so that I could bridge the gap between commercial writing and fiction writing. This immersion and commitment to the work became its own inspiration. If you want to be a writer, then writing your stories should be the most important thing, not the least important thing like many of us make it (until we don’t). 

Thank you, Richard, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

50 States: A Collection Of Short Short Stories

50 States is a debut collection of short stories that reflect on the human condition. The book spans several literary genres, moods, and situations across the American states between 1955 and 2020.

Two runaways cross paths in a Tennessee bus station with only one ticket between them. A middle-aged man in Illinois eyes the daily grind of a young basketball player who never boards the school bus. A family sees looters racing toward their home as they escape an Oregon wildfire. 

These and 47 more stories make up the collection. Together, they provide a sampling of the American experience over the last 60 years, similar to the Spoon River Anthology by Edger Less Masters or The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer with more diversity. 

You can find 50 States here:

Amazon (Print) | Amazon (Kindle) | Barnes & Nobel | Books-A-Million | Apple (with graphics) | Apple (with aoutflow) | Google | Google (with aoutflow) | Target | Blurb | Kobo | Odilo E-Sentral Ciando


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: 50 States by Richard R. Becker

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Richard R. Becker for his novel 50 States: A Collection Of Short Short Stories.

50 States: A Collection Of Short Short Stories

Book: 50 States: A Collection Of Short Short Stories
Author: Richard R. Becker
Page Count: 358
Publication Date (Print): 6.21.21
Publication Date (Digital): 7.21.21
Genre: Short Story, Literary Fiction and Psychological Fiction


Synopsis

50 States is a debut collection of short stories that reflect on the human condition. The book spans several literary genres, moods, and situations across the American states between 1955 and 2020.

Two runaways cross paths in a Tennessee bus station with only one ticket between them. A middle-aged man in Illinois eyes the daily grind of a young basketball player who never boards the school bus. A family sees looters racing toward their home as they escape an Oregon wildfire. 

These and 47 more stories make up the collection. Together, they provide a sampling of the American experience over the last 60 years, similar to the Spoon River Anthology by Edger Less Masters or The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer with more diversity. 

You can find 50 States here:
Amazon (Print) | Amazon (Kindle) | Barnes & Nobel | Books-A-Million | Apple (with graphics) | Apple (with aoutflow) | Google | Google (with aoutflow) | Target | Blurb | Kobo | Odilo | E-Sentral | Ciando


About The Author

Richard R. Becker

Richard R. Becker is an award-winning American writer. His debut collection of literary, psychological, and speculative fiction began as a project to write one story a week for 50 weeks. He continues to expand many of these stories for inclusion in a second collection, and expects some will evolve into larger works.
When he is not writing fiction, Richard works as a creative strategist for Copywrite, Ink., a 30-year-old strategic communication and writing services firm with clients that have included government agencies and Fortune 500 companies. He has also been very active as a community servant, previously taught classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for 20 years, and has been a featured speaker for organizations such as G2E World Gaming Expo, Nevada Recreation and Parks Society, Regis University, U.S. Small Business Administration, and Wizard World Comic Con.
As a journalist, Richard has written hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, with his byline appearing in the Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, and publications for Simon & Schuster and Paramount Communications. He also scripted a documentary produced with PBS and contributed to five books, including “Beyond Generation X: A Practical Guide for Managers” and the American Ambulance Association’s “Public Relations Handbook.” 
Aside from his writing, he enjoys a broad range of activities, including travel, hiking, exercise, photography, and illustration. He is married and has two children.

You can find author Becker here:

Author Page | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Blog


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: Deepak Mullick

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Deepak Mullick for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Deepak Mullick

Founder and Chief Wealth Strategist, SimplyMutual

Deepak has spent over a quarter of a century in the investments industry, working with the country’s largest wealth creators. His last assignment was a 15-year stint at HDFC Mutual Fund. He was their Business Head for North, South and East India during different parts of his tenure. Having dealt with a large spectrum of investment avenues, Deepak realised that Equity Mutual Funds is where the best balance can be achieved. This belief in the India growth story and its potential to create wealth for decades to come stems from deep experience.

Deepak spent decades in the financial sector witnessing the fast evolution of each constituent of the investments industry — mutual funds, banking, insurance, investment advisors, NBFCs, the regulators, etc. He associated with the country’s top minds in financial and investment planning, attended numerous workshops and conferences, and dived deep into the intricacies of the business.

To come up with the best solutions for investor needs, he constantly drew comparisons between the most popular asset classes, such as equity, debt, real estate, fixed deposits, and gold, and other new asset classes like foreign equity, cryptocurrency, and art. He weighed each option with an exhaustive list of factors such as liquidity, volatility, regulatory environment, transparency, cost of investing, cost of holding and maintenance, convenience, and returns adjusted for risks, taxes, and inflation. This analysis has cemented his belief in the importance of Equity Mutual Funds for individual investors and given him the foundation to create SimplyMutual: The 1% formula to gain financial freedom.

You can find author Deepak here:
Email | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Website


Interview

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

Thanks for having me here. My one true passion is to travel the world with my family – my wife and two children. And that is what I have been doing post my early retirement. I took keen interest in financial planning and management very early on in life, and that has led to become what I am today. I am also a firm believer of the fact that knowledge is at its best when its shared and that’s something which I have tried to achieve through my book. And a lot of me is sculpted from my school – La Martinere College, where we were instilled with all the key values, and one of them being discipline. That has made me always approach situations and opportunities methodically. 

I have spent over a quarter of a century in the investments industry, working with the country’s largest wealth creators. My last assignment was a 15-year stint at HDFC Mutual Fund. I was their Business Head for North, South, and East India during different parts of my tenure. Having dealt with a large spectrum of investment avenues, I realised that Equity Mutual Funds is where the best balance can be achieved. This belief in the India growth story and its potential to create wealth for decades to come stems from deep experience.

I’ve spent decades in the financial sector witnessing the fast evolution of each constituent of the investments industry — mutual funds, banking, insurance, investment advisors, NBFCs, the regulators, etc. I’ve also associated with the country’s top minds in financial and investment planning, attended numerous workshops and conferences, and dived deep into the intricacies of the business. To come up with the best solutions for investor needs, I constantly drew comparisons between the most popular asset classes, such as equity, debt, real estate, fixed deposits, and gold, and other new asset classes like foreign equity, cryptocurrency, and art. I weighed each option with an exhaustive list of factors such as liquidity, volatility, regulatory environment, transparency, cost of investing, cost of holding and maintenance, convenience, and returns adjusted for risks, taxes, and inflation. This analysis has cemented my belief in the importance of Equity Mutual Funds for individual investors and has given me the foundation to create SimplyMutual: The 1% formula to gain financial freedom.

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

It’s fairly simple to put it in a few words – FINANCIAL FREEDOM. This book is your guide to retire early by investing smart and investing early. 

In this book I talk about a simple-yet-effective formula to make your money work for you! 

Want to escape the rat race, travel the world, or retire in your 40s with comfortable assets under your belt? SimplyMutual is your key to unlocking the 1% formula and gain your financial freedom.

With SimplyMutual you can learn how to: 

  • Retire in your 40s with a sizable corpus that provides you with a salary–pension that supports your lifestyle 
  • Free yourself from financial anxiety, fear, and corporate slavery to live the life you always wanted, now, and in the future
  • Cultivate wealth-building as a second nature, embedding it into the very core of your psyche 
  • Make financial decisions based on facts, not emotions 
  • Make the most of the India opportunity and invest in equity for long term gains while beating volatility

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

In India, millennials have a very unique opportunity to take advantage of.  Corporates and start-ups are on the rise. Globalization has increased the kind of jobs that pay well. There is a rise in different types of careers, that was not the case a decade ago. Income ranges are high and most of the population is working in companies or their own ventures. This, coupled with various investment options available to people right now, a little discipline and monthly investments will help them build a massive corpus that can enable them to live their dreams. 

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

I have spent a fairly decent amount of time in the Finance Industry and I see that most people ‘save’ their money and don’t ‘invest’. Let me give you an example – if you start investing 10,000 today every month for the next 15 years, you would have a corpus of 1 Cr. With this book, I want to educate people about investing, equity mutual funds and share my experience with them. After quitting my job, I mostly consulted on wealth building and management for my friends and family. But that made me realise that there is lack of equity understanding amongst people at large. And there is a sheer potential for growth through equity investing. So that inspired me to bring out my idea and my formula in a book, as that can reach  large set of people. 

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

It took me a few months to crystalize the idea and get my thoughts structured. Writing a book is no easy feat, I can tell you that.  Although the subject is right up my alley, it took a while to structure the subject and simplify it for it to resonate with readers.  Finance is a tricky matter – most people don’t like to read about finance. And hence, once I had the structure in place, I had to work on simplifying it and making it interesting for readers. 

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

While I am a great planner when it comes to planning for the future, this is one aspect I have not really thought of yet. This particular period has been very overwhelming for me and I would like to take my time to decide what the future is like when it comes to my writing ambitions. But I am more inclined to write my second book. 

Are you working on any other books presently?

None as of yet

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

The sole purpose of choosing this genre was to share my story and experiences with the audience in the most lucid way possible – while I understand that how this topic can get too technical for many, I have tried to keep it as simple as possible

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

Currently approximately 3% of people in India invest in equities. And there is a large potential for growth there. From my experience in equity investment and wealth management, I knew I had insights that are otherwise not easily available. And that’s when I thought, what better vehicle than a book can I use to communicate the idea of achieving financial freedom early. And that caught on very quickly for me and I started penning my thoughts down. Once that happened, I saw myself creating an outline, a structure and the message seemed very interesting and easy to follow. And that’s when I knew that I was ready to be an author. And from there until the time I held the first copy of my book in my hands, the journey has been exhilarating. I have realised that writing a book is not as easy as I thought it would be. There were multiple times, I stopped, had to go back to the drawing board, find a way for my thoughts to flow. Being an author also means that you have to constantly keep your readers in mind. It is not about what you know as an author but what will interest your readers. And putting your knowledge in that perspective is essential and not the easiest part. But not for a second did I doubt the decision of writing the book and it has been a great journey. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? And how do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I like to write at scheduled hours. I am someone who follows a calendar and I have dedicated hours for writing. I put together an outline and then a structure to the story and my flow of thoughts. And then I began writing the book chapter wise. 

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

After being in the corporate for so many and working on the laptop – writing on a laptop is my go to option.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I read. It helps me get the clutter in my head cleared and my thoughts to flow. But I did not encounter a serious writer’s block while writing Simply Mutual. I was very excited as it was my first book.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I would like to give one simple advice – write what you know and write what you like. If you feel your story/experience can help somebody with your knowledge, don’t hesitate. 

Thank you, Deepak, for your thoughtful answers!

About the Book

SimplyMutual : The 1% Formula To Gain Financial Freedom

Everyone wants to be rich, but not everyone is. There is a method and meaning to it that’s more than just numbers.  
In this book, investment veteran Deepak Mullick takes you on a journey to financial freedom. SimplyMutual isn’t just a guide to make more money, it is about building wealth to live the life of your dreams.  

If you’ve ever thought of retiring in your 40s to do what you love, this is THE book for you!

You can find this book on:
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

Book Spotlight: SimplyMutual : The 1% Formula To Gain Financial Freedom by Deepak Mullick

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Deepak Mullick for his new novel SimplyMutual : The 1% Formula To Gain Financial Freedom

SimplyMutual : The 1% Formula To Gain Financial Freedom

Author Deepak Mullick

Book: SimplyMutual: The 1% Formula To Gain Your Financial Freedom
Author: Deepak Mullick
Page Count: 191
Release Date: 19th August 2021
Genre: Non-Fiction, Finance


Synopsis

SimplyMutual : The 1% Formula To Gain Financial Freedom

Everyone wants to be rich, but not everyone is. There is a method and meaning to it that’s more than just numbers.  

In this book, investment veteran Deepak Mullick takes you on a journey to financial freedom. SimplyMutual isn’t just a guide to make more money, it is about building wealth to live the life of your dreams.  

If you’ve ever thought of retiring in your 40s to do what you love, this is THE book for you!

You can find SimplyMutual on:

Amazon | Goodreads


About The Author

Deepak Mullick
Founder and Chief Wealth Strategist, SimplyMutual

Deepak has spent over a quarter of a century in the investments industry, working with the country’s largest wealth creators. His last assignment was a 15-year stint at HDFC Mutual Fund. He was their Business Head for North, South and East India during different parts of his tenure. Having dealt with a large spectrum of investment avenues, Deepak realised that Equity Mutual Funds is where the best balance can be achieved. This belief in the India growth story and its potential to create wealth for decades to come stems from deep experience.

Deepak spent decades in the financial sector witnessing the fast evolution of each constituent of the investments industry — mutual funds, banking, insurance, investment advisors, NBFCs, the regulators, etc. He associated with the country’s top minds in financial and investment planning, attended numerous workshops and conferences, and dived deep into the intricacies of the business.

To come up with the best solutions for investor needs, he constantly drew comparisons between the most popular asset classes, such as equity, debt, real estate, fixed deposits, and gold, and other new asset classes like foreign equity, cryptocurrency, and art. He weighed each option with an exhaustive list of factors such as liquidity, volatility, regulatory environment, transparency, cost of investing, cost of holding and maintenance, convenience, and returns adjusted for risks, taxes, and inflation. This analysis has cemented his belief in the importance of Equity Mutual Funds for individual investors and given him the foundation to create SimplyMutual: The 1% formula to gain financial freedom.

You can contact Author Deepak here:
Email | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Website


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: SimplyMutual : The 1% Formula To Gain Financial Freedom by Deepak Mullick

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Deepak Mullick for sharing an excerpt from his latest release SimplyMutual: The 1% Formula To Gain Financial Freedom.

About the Book

SimplyMutual : The 1% Formula To Gain Financial Freedom

Everyone wants to be rich, but not everyone is. There is a method and meaning to it that’s more than just numbers.  

In this book, investment veteran Deepak Mullick takes you on a journey to financial freedom. SimplyMutual isn’t just a guide to make more money, it is about building wealth to live the life of your dreams.  

If you’ve ever thought of retiring in your 40s to do what you love, this is THE book for you!

You can find this book on:

Amazon | Goodreads

Excerpt

How I gained my freedom at 45

On a warm summer evening in 1947, my grandparents packed their bags and left their life behind. FREEDOM. That was the chant in the air. History was being made as the British left a partitioned India behind. For millions of people this meant leaving behind everything they owned, their life’s work and savings, the security and comfort of their homes, of the life they had known, and moving to unknown lands with an uncertain future. My grandparents too made their way from Dera Ismail Khan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of what is now Pakistan, to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. 

I grew up hearing the stories of their life. In the evenings when we all sat together in the courtyard of my grandparents house, they would get nostalgic. My grandmother would tell us about our culture, our food, the traditions, all the wealth we had, the lands we owned back then, and how we earned our surname Mullick, a title given to big landlords. Even as a child, I could hear the longing in her voice, and a note of bitterness at being uprooted. When I write this from the comfort of my home now, I can’t even imagine what they must have gone through. The way they had managed to move with just a few suitcases, hurriedly packed. The way they had to travel hundreds of miles in search of a new place to settle in an environment of extreme hostility.The stress and anxiety of not knowing where they are headed and the despondency of having to start living from scratch.

But start again they did! And they made quite a success of it too. 

Why am I telling you this? What does a story about uprooting and migration have to do with a book on wealth building? 

Well, in this story there is a lesson. That life is unpredictable. That ups and downs will happen. That sometimes everything you took for granted will be disrupted. But don’t lose your wits. Financial success is all about thinking in the long term. As the poster boy for long term investing, Warren Buffet said, “successful investing takes time, discipline, and patience.” 

I’ll add to that and say wealth building is also about optimism. I consider myself an eternal optimist! It’s in my DNA! And even after witnessing the ups and downs of economies for over 25 years, I continue to believe in the India growth story. But more on that later.  

I learnt important life lessons – resilience, optimism, and street-smartness – from my parents, grandparents, and my Alma Mater La Martiniere, that have helped me immensely on my path to financial freedom. 

After I finished my schooling, I had the easy option to join the family business. But it wasn’t something that interested me. I wanted to look at work as something that helped me live the life I desired. And I am very unapologetic about it. I am a firm believer that you work to live and not live to work. Have you ever thought about it? 

What would you do if you had all the money you needed to live a comfortable life? 

Would you still pursue the job you have currently? 

Would you go after something that you are truly passionate about? 

Would you give and contribute to the world? 

Would you spend time travelling the world, experiencing new things, and gaining different perspectives? 

The thing is, most of us spend a lot of time in the lower 2 stages of Maslow’s Hierarchy. We struggle to make enough money to pay for our basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. And we compromise on building meaningful relationships and on finding our true potential. Often because that raise or that promotion is so much more important. Well, I didn’t want to live all my life with some golden handcuffs.

So my aim was to find a career path that would help me realize my retirement goals (yes, I was thinking of retirement when I was 20!) by the time I turned 45. A highly ambitious goal given India’s economic situation then. However, in a series of seemingly unconnected events, I found my calling. 

In the early 90’s when I was figuring out my career choices, the financial services sector was abuzz with activity. India was undergoing an economic transformation. From a bottomless pit for foriegn aid, India was creating Economic Liberalization policies that will make it an emerging superpower in just two decades. Companies were coming up with IPOs every other day and there was high demand for finance talent. Later, this timeframe would also be known as the IPO scam period. Amidst this turmoil, I passed out with an MBA degree and a campus placement in a financial services company that gave me a take-home salary of about Rs. 5000/- per month. 

From a starting point of Rs.5000/- per month to a sizable corpus of a few Crores, I have come a long way to retirement at 45. And I have lived well. I’ve indulged in my passions and in things that interest me and my family. We’ve traveled extensively and experienced the world closely. From whisky trails to northern lights, we have made our way to 29 countries across 5 continents.

This financial freedom has been a journey of considerable learning. First, I found a God-sent friend, philosopher, and guide with whom I have had the privilege of working for two decades. And then, for over three decades, I had the opportunity to witness the rapid evolution of the country’s economic constituents – the businesses, the consumers, the regulatory environment, government policy, the markets, and the ever-changing global scene. I have figured out what works and what doesn’t. I have learnt to tame the volatility and to invest in a way that sustains my lifestyle choices while building my corpus of funds. I have distilled this learning into this book and created the 1% formula to gain financial freedom

The idea of this book came from my experiences of sharing my technique with friends and family members who wanted to quit the rat race, to pursue other life goals, and passions. And most of them have benefitted by following my technique. 

This book is written as an equity investing guide for those who are keen to make their money work for them. People in their 20’s and 30’s who are looking to retire by 45 or those who have 7-10 years before they want to retire. People who want an easy to understand insight into how investing works. This book is your ticket to long term wealth creation and living comfortably off that wealth without giving in to stress, anxiety, or overwork.      

In this book I will tell you the secrets to financial success. I’ll share stories of people who have seen the light and changed their investing behaviors for enormous gains. I’ll help you build good investing habits and make informed investment choices. 

While there are different assets you will invest money in – both physical and financial, we will not cover the entire umbrella of financial planning and management. And there is a reason for that. I believe that if you understand equities the right way, and work with the 1% formula, the need for other kinds of investment vehicles is greatly reduced.  

In my 25 years of experience in the financial sector I have got a fair idea of practices of banking industry, insurance industry, and the quality of the advisory business across categories of advisors. I have worked with several financial planners, attended many workshops, and deep dived into the subject of financial and investment planning. I’ve looked at all asset classes – real estate, gold, debt, equity, foreign equity, etc. from the lens of factors such as – returns adjusting for risks, returns adjusting for inflation and taxes, liquidity, volatility, convenience, costs of investing, etc. I’ve realized that Equity Mutual Funds is where the best balance can be achieved. In fact, I’ve been able to pull out of my term life insurance policies because of the corpus I have built through equity MF investments!

And so, this book will deal in equity investments only, and more specifically investing in equity through mutual funds. For the purpose of this book I am also considering Hybrid Mutual Funds with over 65% investments in equity as Equity Mutual Funds.   

By reading this book, you would: 

  1. Get a better understanding of the India opportunity and how long will it remain
  2. Get the right perspective on share-markets, understand emotional hurdles and mistakes on the way to financial freedom, and gain insights on how to benefit from the markets
  3. Learn a simple equity-based technique to build wealth and to create your own “Salary-Pension” stream for retirement

Like every great adventure, this book is a start. And as you read it, I’d like to give a word of caution. This book focuses on financial resilience. That means periods of no-gain or even loss that you sit through for long-term returns.This book is NOT about quick fixes or immediate gains. If that’s what you are looking for, then this book is not for you. If thinking long-term does not appeal to you, then this book is not for you.   

That said, in the coming pages there is a wealth of knowledge and tried and tested methods that work. I hope you’ll find them as useful as I have, and use them to find your financial freedom.


About The Author

Deepak Mullick

Founder and Chief Wealth Strategist, SimplyMutual

Deepak has spent over a quarter of a century in the investments industry, working with the country’s largest wealth creators. His last assignment was a 15-year stint at HDFC Mutual Fund. He was their Business Head for North, South and East India during different parts of his tenure. Having dealt with a large spectrum of investment avenues, Deepak realised that Equity Mutual Funds is where the best balance can be achieved. This belief in the India growth story and its potential to create wealth for decades to come stems from deep experience.

Deepak spent decades in the financial sector witnessing the fast evolution of each constituent of the investments industry — mutual funds, banking, insurance, investment advisors, NBFCs, the regulators, etc. He associated with the country’s top minds in financial and investment planning, attended numerous workshops and conferences, and dived deep into the intricacies of the business.

To come up with the best solutions for investor needs, he constantly drew comparisons between the most popular asset classes, such as equity, debt, real estate, fixed deposits, and gold, and other new asset classes like foreign equity, cryptocurrency, and art. He weighed each option with an exhaustive list of factors such as liquidity, volatility, regulatory environment, transparency, cost of investing, cost of holding and maintenance, convenience, and returns adjusted for risks, taxes, and inflation. This analysis has cemented his belief in the importance of Equity Mutual Funds for individual investors and given him the foundation to create SimplyMutual: The 1% formula to gain financial freedom.

You can contact Author Deepak here:
Email | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Website

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: Rich Marcello

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Rich Marcello for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Rich Marcello

Rich is the author of five novels, The Color of HomeThe Big Wide CalmThe Beauty of the Fall, The LatecomersCenotaphs and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, self-discovery and forgiveness. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his wife and Newfoundland, Shaman. He is currently working on his sixth and seventh novels, The Means of Keeping and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.


You can find author Rich here:
Website | Email  | Goodreads


Interview

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

I’ve been writing full time now for ten years and plan to do so, if all goes well, for the rest of my life. When I started, I had a goal in the back of mind to publish ten books before all was said and done. Cenotaphs is my fifth novel and my sixth book, so I still have a ways to go, but I remain committed to that goal. 

On a personal note, I love Newfoundlands and, in particular, my eight-year-old Newfie named Shaman. When I write in the mornings, she is normally at my side.

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

I was really interested in writing about a man and woman, separated in age and circumstance, that form a deep emotional bond. Few books are written about platonic love between a man and woman. In the rare cases when that kind of love does happen, it tends to be a deep and honest love. Once I got Ben and Samantha’s connection clear in my mind, the book wrote itself. I was just a conduit telling their story.

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

That love, in its truest form, a form where two people truly see each other, can be redemptive, even for those who don’t believe they are worthy of being redeemed.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

I equally love Ben and Samantha. They are such different people on the surface, but underneath they’re driven by the same things. Cenotaphs is their story, and that’s why I chose to tell it from both of their points of view. 

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

As I mentioned above, not many books are written about platonic love between a man and a woman. I wanted to explore this topic in addition to the topic of redemption for those people who don’t believe they deserve it.

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

A couple of years. 

What are your writing ambitions?

I plan to keep writing for the rest of my life.  I hope to make it to ten novels before I’m done. 

Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

Going to my writing studio each morning to work on a new novel, Shaman at my side.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I’m working on two novels, The Means of Keeping, about the climate crisis, and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.

Thank you, Rich, for your insightful answers!
You can read Rich’s previous Interview here and the review of his book The Latecomers here.


Books by author Rich Marcello


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: Deb McEwan

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Deb McEwan for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Deb McEwan

Following a career of over thirty years in the British Army, Deb and her husband moved to Cyprus to become weather refugees. 

Deb loves spending time with her husband Allan and rescue dog Sandy. She also loves writing, keeping fit, and socialising, and does her best to avoid housework. 

She’s written children’s books about Jason the penguin and Barry the reindeer and young adult/adult books about dogs, the afterlife, soldiers, and netball players. 

You can find author Deb here:
Blog/Website | Amazon | Goodreads


Interview

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

Before I started writing books I enjoyed writing rhyming verse and wrote poems/ditties for several friends and colleagues who were moving on to pastures new. I wrote a poem for my niece and her fiancé and was honoured when they invited me to read it at their wedding in 2013.

I started writing song lyrics in the early noughties and collaborated with a few local musicians. I co-wrote a song ‘We Belong Together’, for our 25th wedding anniversary and presented the song to my husband as a surprise. It’s very cheesy but he loved it! You can listen to all my songs here: https://www.debmcewansbooksandblogs.com/my-songs/

I hate cold weather! My extremities turn purple when I’m cold (literally) so my husband and I decided to settle somewhere warm when I left the Army in 2013. That’s why we live in Cyprus. When I’m not writing I work part-time for a military charity and enjoy keeping fit and hanging out with friends and our dog!

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

I’ve based the series on a fictional island (Souvia) rather than the island of Cyprus to give me some flexibility with the police procedures. However, whenever I describe any of the locations I have a place I’ve visited in Cyprus in my mind’s eye.

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

In an ideal world you reap what you sow and the characters pay the price for their crimes. Karma is very satisfying!

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

Elena is my favourite character in this book. She’s hard working, a bit nosey and can be quite naïve, despite what life has thrown at her in the past. Like one of my close friends who’s also a successful businesswoman, Elena’s found her soul mate a little bit later in life and is making the most of it.

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

I’ve wanted to write a cozy mystery series since writing my ‘Island Dog Squad’ series of novellas which are based on our rescue dog, Sandy. (Book #1 is free for subscribers at this link https://dl.bookfunnel.com/wdh6nl8p08 ) I also wanted a break from my ‘Afterlife’ series for a while so this felt like the ideal time to do it.

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

Each of the books in this series are approximately 30k long and I already had ideas for the first three. When I’m into my stories I aim to write 1000 words each day so finished the first draft in a month. From first draft to completed book takes about another month to six weeks, depending on how busy my editor is.

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

I’d like to write about 12 books in this series, more in my ‘Afterlife’ series and to also expand my standalone book about netball players into a series. I might even write another in my ‘Unlikely Soldiers’ series so guess that takes up most of the next five years! 

Whatever happens writing is in my blood and I’ll carry on for as long as I am able.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Although I’m concentrating on this series for now, ideas for the next book in the afterlife series often pop into my head. Jotting them down means I can forget them for the time being and come back to them later.

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

Variety is definitely the spice of live and I love writing in multiple genres. (Supernatural Suspense (Afterlife series), Action and Adventure/Military (Unlikely Soldiers) Women’s Fiction (Court Out, A Netball Girls’ Drama), Children’s Fiction (Jason the Penguin books and Reindeer Dreams for 3-8 year olds), Cozy Animal Mystery/Action and Adventure (The Island Dog Squad novellas)). 

I’ve also co-written a non-fiction book entitled ‘Zak My Boy Wonder’. It’s a short, harrowing, but inspirational true story of a mother’s fight for her son’s survival and acceptance in society, and how the military authorities deserted her family when they needed them most. 

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

I had a very busy career in the British Army but have always wanted to write. I had confidence issues and never thought I’d be good enough. We have an illness in our family (Huntington’s Disease) and when I discovered that one of my brothers had the disease but that I didn’t, I considered myself very lucky and decided to make the most of my life. I haven’t looked back since.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? And how do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I get up at 6am and write for an hour before going to my part-time job between 8am and 2pm. Then I write some more when I get home from work. I’m a speedy typist so I type all my stories on the computer at home. I stick to this routine at weekends too as I’m at my most creative first thing in the morning.

I write a rough plot for the first three or four chapters and then the end of the book. I always know the ending but sometimes my characters surprise me by taking unexpected turnings to get there. My characters are like real people to me and often surprise me. Some of my friends find this quite weird but that’s the way it is.

What are your 5 favourite books?

That’s such a difficult question so I’m not going to answer it! I loved reading Enid Blyton books when I was a youngster then Wilbur Smith books when I was a little older. Now I mostly read books by Indie authors such as Jean Gill (I love her Natural Forces and Troubadours series) and I’m currently reading ‘How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness’, by Jessica Bell. It’s a fascinating story set in a future dystopian world where immortality can only be granted to those who follow the rules. I change genre depending on my mood and am always up to reading new authors.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

A good walk sets the ideas flowing and always seems to work wonders.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

As someone once said, ‘Writers write’. So follow your dreams, go to your happy place, and get writing!

Thank you, Deb, for your insightful answers!

Books by author Deb McEwan


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

Character Interview: Fedor From Fedor by Brant Vickers

Today, we are featuring Fedor, the lead character from Fedor by, for our Character Interview feature.

About The Author

Brant Vickers

Brant Vickers started work as a caddy and delivered flowers in Southern California before going into the military. He’s lived in three foreign countries and seven states. He later found his true profession and calling working with students with special needs where he met some of the most endearing and loving people on the planet. His memoir, Chucky’s in Tucson, reflects those 18 years. This led to his interest in Fedor and his imagined story. Brant lives in Arizona with his wife, Cheryl Ann.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads 


The Interview

Welcome to The Reading Bud! We are really excited to have you over. Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

Thank you very much. My name is Fedor Adrianovitch Jefticheff and I was born in 1868 in Tbilisi, Georgia, part of Tsarist Russia. I traveled with my father for several years in a small carnival throughout Russia and Europe. A few years ago I was given the chance to become part of the Black Tent in the famous and gargantuan Barnum & Bailey’s sideshow.

What is your age and what do you do for a living?  

It’s now 1900 and I’m 32 years old. We’re currently on a several year tour of Great Britain and Europe. P.T. Barnum presents me as Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy in what is commonly called Barnum’s Freak Show. Several of us don’t like that term, but many of us embrace it and deal with the peculiars of our physical infirmaries. This is how I’m forced to make my living. I have no alternate form of employment. As my manager in Russia, Grigory always said, “If they pay in rubles we give them a show; it’s a show we provide.”

How you like to spend your free time? 

I have been a voracious reader since my mama started reading to me in my early childhood. We read books in German, English, and, of course, Russian. I am now fluent in both reading and speaking those languages. Her favorite author was Leo Tolstoy, as is mine now. But I have been fortunate enough to meet several writers throughout America. I have developed a close friendship with Mark Twain, who by the way is a fan of the circus. Also I have met, among others, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Louisa May Alcott. I hope to meet several more here in Europe.

Please share some of your beliefs, principles, motivations and morals (can be social, religious or political or, etc. Anything that will help us get to know you better.)  

I have had to develop a strong attitude to my predicament in this world. My friends and I in the Black Tent cultivate a strong constitution to our lot in life. People pay to gawk at us, but it is the only method, at this time in the world, for us to make a living. My best friend in Russia once said, “I don’t think being ordinary is such a benefit and something they should proud of.” Or as my friend Mark Twain said to me one day, “There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside the dullest exterior there is drama, a comedy, and a tragedy!”

Tell us something about your family and childhood. 

I have long, thick, silky dark hair all over my body. Everywhere. My papa had the same. Our life in Tbilisi was harsh and poor. Even when my papa could get work we rarely had enough to eat and after my beloved mama died, we went on the road with Grigory. His show was small but I had several close loving friends. At age fifteen I met the Tsarevich Nicholas II and shortly after a scout for the Barnum & Bailey Circus. My life changed dramatically after that and I’ve made many more friends whom I live and work with, and consider them my family now. 

Tell us something about your dreams and aspirations? Were you able to achieve them or are you planning to? 

I have recently met the love of my life and her name is Krao Farni and we suffer from the same malady, but have fallen in love. As Mr. Tolstoy said, “all, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.” My biggest aspiration is to make enough money and live with Krao comfortably in peace.

What is your biggest fear in life?

I have a fear of not succeeding with my greatest aspiration.

How would you describe your life in one sentence? 

I have traveled and seen more of the world than I ever dreamed. My infirmity has made this possible. If not for it, my life as an uneducated peasant in Tsarist Russia would have been very meager. We were, for all intents and purposes serfs. “You can’t throw too much style into a miracle and you my friend are a miracle,” Mark Twain said of me, and I would suggest that sums up my good fortune in life.

What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you? 

Living in the wondrous, magical, and unpredictable world of Barnum & Bailey’s Circus brings tragedy along with its marvels. Losing close friends to misfortunes in our world also brings some sadness. Along with gaining much, I’ve lost a few of my dearest friends.

Did it change you for the better or the worse?  

I must again quote from my legendary tutor and life long spiritual guide Mr. Tolstoy, “There is only one thing in this word worth dedicating your life to and that is creating more love among people…” If the people, who pay to gawk and be frightened of Krao and myself, can see us and realize we live this life with dignity and love, maybe they would understand there are many ways to live. 11. What are your plans for the future?  We are planning to wed upon our return to the United States and look forward to an early retirement and spend our days reading and enjoying each other’s company. I’ll leave you with one more quote and you can probably deduce who wrote it: If you want to be happy, be. And thank you for the opportunity to share my life and thoughts with you.


Fedor by Brant Vickers

“You can’t throw too much style into a miracle, and you my friend are a miracle,” Mark Twain says to Fedor Adrianovitch Jefticheff, also known as Jo-Jo The Dog Faced Boy. Fedor lives, travels, works, and loves among the haunting cast of performers in the Black Tent Sideshow of P.T. Barnum’s Circus in the late 1880s.

Fedor not only survived, but also profited by being a memorable and unforgettable human curiosity. Along with being an intelligent and avid reader of Tolstoy, Twain, Alcott, and Melville, he has remarkable interactions with a myriad of other world-renowned characters, one being Nicholas II the Russian Tsarevich. This proves that more than just being a “sideshow,” there was a lot of individuality and heart to this “dog-faced boy.”

Richly authentic, dramatic, beautifully written, and always thought-provoking, Brant Vickers tells Fedor’s story in an epic account of this young man’s extraordinary life.

You can find this book here:
Goodreads
| Amazon

Excerpt Reveal: Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad by Eric L. Heard

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Eric L. Heard for sharing an excerpt from his latest release Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad.

About the Book

Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad

The purpose of this book is an awkward discussion of Eric Heard’s life to his son. He talks about his life in a candid way that tries to explain his anxiety as an African American dad. It is an open and honest account of his life through the life of a child that has been through a lot in his life. It is a reflection on his life that has been shaped by his childhood experiences.

You can find this book on:

Amazon | Goodreads

Excerpt

This episode jolted me into making another connection between my childhood and how I was acting as a parent with my son. I would take actions to ensure that what had haunted our family tree for generations would not happen to him. I knew it would require some radical steps. One of those actions was writing a book that he can share with his family after I leave this earth. When he thinks about the times I would not go with him to the baseball game or to his school assembly, this book will provide the answers when he reads between the lines.

 I hope this book will help others who don’t have their stories told anywhere in media. There are other African American men dealing with their childhood experiences and wanting to insulate their sons and daughters from the echoes and continued grasp of systematic racism. I grew up during an era of seismic changes that saw whole communities decimated. The mental anguish quietly pushed African American dads to find a way to deal with an unforgiving world. These dads are looking to raise kids while at the same time reconciling crushing pain. I would like this book to be an acknowledgment of that pain and let them know they are not alone.


About The Author

About Eric L. Heard

Eric L. Heard currently lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky with his wife, Sonya, of 17 years and his son, McKinley. Eric is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Engineering. He also has a Master’s Business Administration from Indiana University and Master’s of Manufacturing Operations from Kettering University. He is an Army Brat who has lived in the Southeast United States, Germany, and Japan. Please contact me at ericlheard@hotmail.com, if you have any questions or need to contact m

You can contact Author Eric here:

Email | Amazon | Goodreads

Author Spotlight: Jake Camp

Welcome to TRB Lounge, the section of TRB dedicated to Book Promotions. Today, we are featuring Jake Camp, author of Banshee And The Sperm Whale, for our Author Spotlight feature.

About The Author

Born in Big Timber, Montana in 1973, Jake Camp is the son of an impressionist landscape artist and the grandson of an engineer and inventor.  He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from Western Washington University and the University of Montana, and has been a community college professor and department chair since 2002.  An avid fly-fisherman and snowboarder, he lives in Arvada, CO with his sons.

Get in touch with author Jake Camp here:

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | YouTube | Email


Book Trailer


About The Book

A sunset wedding in Kona. An ugly secret discovered on an iPhone. Experimental philosophical marriage counseling. Time travel. Diver Neurons and Angel Neurons separated by Sea and Sky. Banshee and the Sperm Whale takes the reader on a journey into the unconscious mind of Martin, a biracial chef from Denver who suffers from a particular kind of overabundance. Along the way, a modern allegory unfolds, and everyday notions about self-knowledge, the nature of good and evil, and possibility of finding meaning and spiritual significance in the face of inexorable uncertainty are turned inside out.

You can fins Banshee And The Sperm Whale 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/book featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com


Author interview: Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday for an author interview with TRB-team!

About The Author

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday 

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday is a business leader, marketer, mentor, public speaker and brand specialist who has built her passion for brand purpose on the back of her meaningful marketing career with various Fortune 100 companies. Her experience includes working with Microsoft, Google, Unilever, Huawei, Hyundai and many more. She is a big environmental advocate who truly believes in successful business done for good and is constantly curious about driving it forward.

You can find author Laricea here:

Instagram | LinkedIn


Interview

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

I am Romanian, living in London with my English husband and our chinchilla called Snowy. I am also very passionate about the environment and madly in love with all animals and plants. I have my own garden which I have been passionately working in for the past 5 years whilst also trying to explore as much as we can this beautiful planet. I have been to 65 countries so far, usually having a target of 5 new countries every year, however with the pandemic this has become really difficult to achieve. I even received a badge from Tripadvisor for one of the highest number of countries visited vs age. Another passion is diving, both my husband and I are certified advanced divers, with over 80 hours of diving all over the world, from Europe to the Indian Ocean, Mediteranean, Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The more we travel and dive, the more we realise how fragile the natural world is and how much we can do on an individual level to protect it. I am hoping that through my book, I will be able to raise awareness of this and encourage businesses and individuals to support the idea of profit for good rather than just profit.

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

I set about writing this book from a desire to raise awareness around brand purpose, its critical implications for society and beyond and to provide the tools for making the right, informed decisions for both marketers and consumers when it comes to evaluating true brand purpose. There has never been such a desire to change, fix, improve, eliminate, or embrace actions that would make a difference to the current affairs and not only make us feel better about ourselves but genuinely help shape a better future. Specifically, for this reason more than half of consumers believe that brands play a greater role than governments when it comes to the future of this planet. Whilst this is all fabulous news for brands to be entrusted with such great confidence, some of them are taking advantage of this trend in an unorthodox manner. Thus, through this book I am hoping to highlight some of the issues around brand purpose and purposeful brands, attempting to better define brand purpose and dreaming to be able to make a difference in how people/consumers/marketeers perceive brand purpose and its real importance and power.
This book is addressed to a very wide audience: from consumers, to marketers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, founders, pretty much anyone who has an interest in sustainable businesses and future proofing the future.

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

We live in a very troublesome world, which needs more than ever actions that speak more than words, consumers who act through their choices and businesses that put purpose above profit. I set about writing this book from a desire to raise awareness around brand purpose, its critical implications for society and beyond and to provide the tools for making the right, informed decisions for both marketers and consumers when it comes to evaluating true brand purpose. I am hoping that this book will make a difference on how businesses perceive, approach and apply brand purpose, which is for greater good, through genuine actions and a more empathetic approach towards consumers, society and the planet. My desire is for this book to enlighten the audiences, expand their understanding of brand purpose and its greater consequences and ultimately change the current state of affairs by being more like a dazzle of zebras and less like a lonely unicorn!

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

I have been working in marketing and advertising for a while now, so I have been exposed to a variety of brands – from cult driven, small, family run businesses to multi billion pound empires that have become modern days icons. One day, during a warm summer in London, I had completed a long brainstorming session with one of my clients, which concluded with a burning desire for the company to establish a new strategy that displays “purpose”. That was the moment when I realised that all of this was wrong; very wrong because what my client was asking me to do was to purely sell an image, portraying a behaviour that resonated with their current customers and potential new ones. However, for them, it was more important as to how they would advertise and market this new “purposeful” positioning and not how they could actually bring it to life with genuine actions and truthful communications. 

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

Around 5 months 

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

I do not consider myself a writer, as this is my first book, however I believe it’s more of a manifesto, a desire to raise awareness about an issue. I will have to wait and see what is the public’s reaction to this first book and if it is positive I will of course consider expanding on the topic and provide further inspiration and assistance to both brands and consumers. 

Are you working on any other stories presently?

No

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

Please see question 5, it all started with my brand experiences and because it felt very unjust and unfair, I decided I need to make my opinion more formal and also provide solutions and advice in terms of true brand purpose and ways of bringing it to life as a business. Lockdown and the pandemic helped me with the book writing as I wouldn’t have had normally so much spare time to sit down and write my ideas. So I have not given up anything per se to make this happen, however I was fortunate enough to do it during a time when the whole world has hit pause. There is a silver line in any cloud 🙂

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

I have collected first all my ideas in a little notebook over a few months since I first got the idea of writing a book. I then categorised them in chapters and then I start crafting each chapter. The first two months were most difficult as I was doing it after work, in the evening, so I felt quite tired at the beginning, but then the more I wrote, the more excited and motivated I began. And as I mentioned lockdown helped as I could do it over weekends as well and also over bank holidays, on sunny spring days in the garden. I always had a beautiful candle next to me and a cup of tea, this is my little secret to get inspiration, but it also makes me very happy to feel the beautiful smell of a candle and taste the hot tea on my lips.  

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

It was a combination of laptop and longhand with a pen as I adore to write 🙂

What are your 5 favourite books?

Non-fiction: Simon Sinek, Seth Godin
Fiction: Agnes Martin-Lugand, Elif Shafak, Ion Creanga (Romanian)

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I haven’t had this issue yet! 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Follow your dreams! If you have an idea, follow it to completion despite the hurdles you might come across. It isn’t easy, it requires a lot of time, dedication and patience, however when you hold you book in your hands for the first time, that feeling is so worth it! And also, knowing that your book will make a difference in this world, may it be cheering people up, inspiring them, helping them to go through difficult times, educating them or even being their companion for a short time, that makes all the difference. Never give up and follow your dream!

Thank you, Larecia, for your insightful answers!

About the book


Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra?

Purpose is a journey, not a destination. More business leaders, marketers and customers need to become aware of true brand purpose and act upon it through business strategies, marketing campaigns and their wallet. This book challenges the way brand purpose has been deployed over the past few years and examines ways of correcting misconceptions and misuses by providing practical solutions and examples of what good looks like. We all have a role to play in the community, so stop dreaming about unicorns and be more zebra!

You can find Brand Purpose here:

MyBestseller | Amazon Blurb


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: Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra? by Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday for sharing an excerpt from her latest release Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra?

About the book

Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra?

Purpose is a journey, not a destination. More business leaders, marketers and customers need to become aware of true brand purpose and act upon it through business strategies, marketing campaigns and their wallet. This book challenges the way brand purpose has been deployed over the past few years and examines ways of correcting misconceptions and misuses by providing practical solutions and examples of what good looks like. We all have a role to play in the community, so stop dreaming about unicorns and be more zebra!

You can find Brand Purpose here:

MyBestseller | Amazon Blurb


Excerpt

There is a lot of confusion around purpose, especially when it comes to a brands’ purpose, how they deploy this concept in their marketing efforts and then portray it to the world. We are currently living in some really troubled times (probably not the worst in human history); but nevertheless constantly bombarded with bad news, apocalyptic images and consistent negative updates across politics, nature, economics and many other verticals. So naturally, people as consumers and as citizens of this world turn their attention – more than ever to social and environmental issues. 

There has never been such a desire to change, fix, improve, eliminate, or embrace actions that would make a difference to the current affairs and not only make us feel better about ourselves but genuinely help shape a better future. Specifically, for this reason more than 60% of consumers believe that brands play a greater role than governments when it comes to the future of this planet. Whilst this is all fabulous news for brands to be entrusted with such great confidence, some of them are taking advantage of this trend in an unorthodox manner. 

Here I present this book, hoping to highlight some of the issues around brand purpose and purposeful brands, attempting to better define brand purpose and dreaming to be able to make a difference in how people/consumers/marketers perceive brand purpose and its real importance and power.

I just don’t want to stay silent anymore and marvel at how some big brands who have been silently chopping down trees from nature reserves are getting praised on a wider scale for improving and changing our society for good. I want to bring bad examples to your attention, but I also wish to define genuine brand purpose to inspire those companies out there who are fooling themselves (and at times, us) that their brand purpose is real.

Thus, I hope you will enjoy this book and become inspired to evaluate the brands you are working on as a marketer or the brands you are buying as a consumer through the lens of “true brand purpose”.


About The Author

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday 

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday is a business leader, marketer, mentor, public speaker and brand specialist who has built her passion for brand purpose on the back of her meaningful marketing career with various Fortune 100 companies. Her experience includes working with Microsoft, Google, Unilever, Huawei, Hyundai and many more. She is a big environmental advocate who truly believes in successful business done for good and is constantly curious about driving it forward.

You can find author Laricea here:

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

Book Spotlight: Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra? by Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday for her novel Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra?

Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra?

Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra? by Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Book: A Brand’s Purpose…Less Unicorn, More Zebra?
Author: Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday
Page Count: 200
Publication date: 27th Jan 2021
Genre: non-fiction, business, marketing


Synopsis

Purpose is a journey, not a destination. More business leaders, marketers and customers need to become aware of true brand purpose and act upon it through business strategies, marketing campaigns and their wallet. This book challenges the way brand purpose has been deployed over the past few years and examines ways of correcting misconceptions and misuses by providing practical solutions and examples of what good looks like. We all have a role to play in the community, so stop dreaming about unicorns and be more zebra!

You can find Brand Purpose here:

MyBestsellerAmazon | Blurb


About The Author

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday is a business leader, marketer, mentor, public speaker and brand specialist who has built her passion for brand purpose on the back of her meaningful marketing career with various Fortune 100 companies. Her experience includes working with Microsoft, Google, Unilever, Huawei, Hyundai and many more. She is a big environmental advocate who truly believes in successful business done for good and is constantly curious about driving it forward.

You can find author Larecia here:

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: E. T. Gunnarsson

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring E. T. Gunnarsson, author of Forgive Us, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

E. T. Gunnarsson

Mr. Gunnarsson grew up on a horse-rescue ranch in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. He now resides in Georgetown, TX.

Once in Texas, he wrote his first post-apocalyptic book, “Forgive Us” while attending high school. Outside of writing, Mr. Gunnarsson is a purple belt in BJJ and a brown belt in Judo.

You can connect with the author here:

Facebook | Instagram | Reedsy Discovery | Twitter | Website



The Interview

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

To start off, I learned how to read through World of Warcraft. It sounds funny, but it’s true. When I was taken out of school at around seven, I didn’t know how to read, write, or do math. While I was being tutored how to read and write, I played World of Warcraft, and as I slowly gained lingual skills, I applied them to the game which allowed me to go from wandering around all day to doing questions and leveling up my character.

I actually started writing when I was nine, though the literature I produced probably sucked, and never saw the light of day. I also started text roleplaying on platforms such as Discord, which led into my author career and where my writing skills first started.

I am also a Norse pagan, and I’m into woodcarving to create idols for deities and spirits.

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

Forgive Us is told as three interleaved stories covering different timelines in the 22nd century.This part is not in Forgive Us but gives more info about the environment the survivors live in: The wasteland began way before the fall of civilization. It started with the widespread use of Ignium in the 2050s, and its continued use through the 2060s and 2070s. Ignium, an energy similar to electricity and plasma, is easy to create and extremely malleable, therefore economically better than electricity. Its downfall was its slight toxicity. With its widespread use by billions of people, Ignium slowly poisoned the soil, air, and worldwide ecosystem, leading to cataclysmic climate change and leading to the sixth mass extinction on earth. Combined with pollution such as trash and other waste, the oceans were killed, the sun was blotted out, and the soil itself became a mix of dirt, Ignium, and plastics.

Ignium’s usage became a dependency, and by the time that it was discovered to be extremely damaging to the planet it was too late. Many major companies depended on it and funded campaigns to cover up the damage it caused.

During the 2070s, the world became destabilized and eventually collapsed. The population soared to roughly 14 billion, countries collapsed from resource, water, and food shortages. Despite the amazing technology of the 2070s, major parts of the population died due to illness and starvation as unemployment (in the US) soared into 60%.

Toward 2078, Europe collapsed into war between its nations while the US fell into a three-way civil war. At the same time as a world-wide pandemic and world-wide economic collapse, this broke the country. The pandemic which started in India, ultimately left India, the Middle East, and Africa in a broken state with most of the population dead or dying.

During 2079, the last powerful countries on Earth (such as the USA, Russia, and China) declared war on each other over the last resources on Earth. After a few nukes, bombs, chemical weapons, mutagenic bombs, and more, civilization finally came to a crumbling halt.

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

If there is a single message that can be derived from Forgive Us and the Odemark series as a whole, it’s to be green. In the series, the sky is blotted out from pollution and trash is everywhere, layering the ocean and earth. It is the idea of not poisoning our world. There are many other messages in Forgive Us, like caring for those you love, that war is hell, and that tyranny never dies but should not be stood for.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

I have to say that Oliver is my favorite character because he matches the perfect description of a wasteland survivor. He is the lone wolf that many post-apocalyptic works feature, he is the grizzled, mentally scarred survivor he fights and claws to live. His storyline also represents the wolf of power/greed, which is an evil predator.

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

There is no specific inspiration for Forgive Us. Rather, Forgive Us and the Odemark series was born from a love of post-apocalyptic fiction, a gap in the genre, and years of interacting with the genre. For example, there are many influences for many aspects of Forgive Us. The father-daughter relationship between London and Rose is seen in many games (see the Dadification of games), the wasteland is inspired from Mad Max, the Fallout Series, and 9, and the conflicts in the book are inspired from history and the media mentioned before.

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

It took me two years to write Forgive Us, starting when I was sixteen and ending when I was eighteen. The first year consisted of the actual writing as I learned the twists and turns of creating a book, while the second year consisted of editing, which was a long process of more learning.

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

In five years I hope to finish the Odemark series, along with starting a new series in my high-fantasy world which is currently still in the works.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Currently, I am writing the prequel to Forgive Us, Abandon Us, which will show life in theold world, the downfall of civilization, and show who the Outsiders really were.

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

I love post-apocalyptic fiction. I think it makes for great movies and great games when done well. Forgive Us came to me one day, so it was really the genre choosing me rather than me choosing the general. I learned to write in high-fantasy settings, so I hope to transition back one day.

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

I decided to become a writer when I started Forgive Us in 2018. Being a writer is not easy in general, but I am lucky to have an extremely flexible schedule that allows me to work a lot without sacrificing anything beyond free time that I’d otherwise waste.

Following the course of being a writer comes with a lot of ups and downs. The ups would be positive feedback on your work or success in writing, and the downs would be writer’s block, negative feedback, and self-doubt. Fortunately, I think the ups make the downs look small because when you’re so high up, falling a little bit does seem so far.

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

I’m boring when it comes to writing. I generally sit down, try to play some music that fits the genre I am writing in, and write. I usually have tea while I write, but not always. If I am doing serious writing, I will remove all the distractions around me and just write. No distraction writing is a really easy way to burn out in my opinion, and is really boring, so I usually avoid it.

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

I have dysgraphia, so it’s hard to write with a pencil or pen. I prefer the power and utility of a computer or a laptop, since it allows me to edit and create with ease.

What are your 5 favourite books?

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is one of my favorite books, simply because it’s the Lord of the Rings with lighter reading, and serves as a wonderful introduction to the series. The Poetic Edda by Snorri Sturluson is my second favorite book, since it serves as a pillar to understanding Norse Mythology, and as an important religion text. I also love Maus (Art Spieglman), 1984 (George Orwell), and Rise of the Lich King (Christie Golden).

When it comes to authors, I absolutely love Stephen King and Tolkien. My father read the Dark Tower series to me when I was little, which I think has a subconscious influence on my writing. Tolkien is the father of all modern fantasy, and without him I would not have my childhood game World of Warcraft, or the inspiration to make a high fantasy world.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

When it comes to Writer’s Block, a due date gets me out of it. If I feel pressure to write, I will write, and that’s how real writing works in my opinion. It’s a job, and a job does not wait for you. If you struggle with Writer’s Block, you either have to wait for it to go away or break through it.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If one wants to seriously write, it has to be treated like a job. A job has hours, due dates, and expectations, and writing should be no different. Without it, procrastination and no results rule. For me, I have a daily word count I have to reach, and a chapter/page amount I have to reach per week or month.

Thank you, Mr Gunnarsson, for your interesting answers!


About The Book

Forgive Us

Three timelines. One dark future…

A new form of energy has poisoned the earth, leaving civilization in ruins. As decades go by, the inheritors of this devastation struggle to survive and reconquer a broken planet…

In 2099: Mankind emerges from the darkness. A lone rider named Oliver journeys east, seeking civilization beyond the Rocky Mountains. Braving the toxic earth and poison air, Oliver must battle a horde of deadly mutants as he unites a band of refugees into the first nation of this new world…

In 2153: Fledging nations clash over land and resources. London, a veteran of the wasteland, struggles to protect his adopted daughter Rose as the world decays around them. But little does he know, both he and his adopted daughter will soon find themselves drawn into a coming war…

In 2184: Simon, a descendent of those who fled the earth, lives on the great Arcadis Station. A gifted technician, he works vigilantly against those who rule his society with an iron fist. In the shadows, he will be the difference between enslavement or liberty…

Fans of The Gunslinger and The Stand will love Forgive Us. This epic novel takes readers on a post-apocalyptic thrill ride, spanning three generations of a ravaged earth…

You can find the book here:

Amazon
 Barnes & Nobel BookBub Goodreads |  Lulu NetGalley


To read more author interviews, click here.

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

Excerpt Reveal: Forgive Us by E.T. Gunnarsson

Welcome to TRB-Lounge, the section of TRB dedicated to book promotions. Today, I’d like to welcome author E.T. Gunnarsson, for sharing an excerpt from their latest release Forgive Us.

Read on to get a sneak-peek into this amazing new read!

About The Book

Three timelines. One dark future…

A new form of energy has poisoned the earth, leaving civilization in ruins. As decades go by, the inheritors of this devastation struggle to survive and reconquer a broken planet…

In 2099: Mankind emerges from the darkness. A lone rider named Oliver journeys east, seeking civilization beyond the Rocky Mountains. Braving the toxic earth and poison air, Oliver must battle a horde of deadly mutants as he unites a band of refugees into the first nation of this new world…

In 2153: Fledging nations clash over land and resources. London, a veteran of the wasteland, struggles to protect his adopted daughter Rose as the world decays around them. But little does he know, both he and his adopted daughter will soon find themselves drawn into a coming war…

In 2184: Simon, a descendent of those who fled the earth, lives on the great Arcadis Station. A gifted technician, he works vigilantly against those who rule his society with an iron fist. In the shadows, he will be the difference between enslavement or liberty…

Fans of The Gunslinger and The Stand will love Forgive Us. This epic novel takes readers on a post-apocalyptic thrill ride, spanning three generations of a ravaged earth…

You can find the book here:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | BookBub | Goodreads | Lulu | NetGalley


Excerpt

Chapter I

‘Memory’

8:46 PM, December 31, 2099

Silent, empty, and cruel. This was the nature of the wasteland.

The wasteland was a vast expanse of ruins, sand, and dying life beneath a polluted sky. This was the new world. It was created by humanity in 2079, and it was the world that they now had to brave to survive. 

The downfall of the old world happened slowly. Humanity did not know it, but their cunning and technology became their undoing. In the great battle between Mother Nature and humanity’s dominion, there was no winner. 

The sound of a thunderous engine erupted throughout the eerie wasteland as a motorcycle sped along the ancient roads. Upon it was a survivor, alone and braving all odds. His name was Oliver, a thirty-six-year-old man who had grown up in the old world.

Oliver was a refugee from the wild and untamed lands near the Rocky Mountains. He fled East, guided by the hope that the East would be better, though he could feel in his gut that it wouldn’t be. The only solace he had were stories from traveling caravans and survivors who spoke of growing settlements in the East.

Oliver was pursued. Not by man, not by beast, but by time. Starvation, dehydration, exposure, all of these were barely kept at bay by luck and experience. His current and most dangerous pursuer was the weather. 

The pollution haze above blocked out the sun. As night approached, the world slowly became pitch black and freezing cold. The darkness parted before the headlights of his motorcycle, yet Oliver felt vulnerable. 

Parallel to the road were telephone poles, some of which had tilted or completely fallen to the ground. The surrounding wasteland was desolate and empty, occupied by rocks and sand dunes. 

Oliver wore an old-world smart suit that was on its warmest setting. He also wore a coat made out of animal hide over his smart suit. He had traded for it a while ago, and it had saved him from freezing to death many times already. Still, he shivered.

A gas mask covered his face. It was vital for survival in the wasteland; without it, the toxic air would corrode Oliver’s lungs. It was old and worn, created in a factory in the old world. Still, it worked much better than the makeshift masks that most people wore. Finding filters for the gas mask was easy; they were everywhere.

There was a grim face beneath the intimidating gas mask. Oliver’s brown eyes reflected a man whose past was full of pain and hardship. Through the visor, they seemed tired. The light that most people have in their eyes was dim in Oliver’s. He also had deep curves between his brows and fatigued laugh lines. His skin was dark and covered in colored blotches, irritated and damaged from the wasteland air.

Oliver focused on his current task: finding shelter for the night. Such searches were often painful since he had to be picky about the buildings he used. Some were too unstable to hold up against the wasteland’s extreme weather; some were too hard to get into, others occupied.

He paused at a fork in the road, gazing down each path. After a few seconds, Oliver turned the motorcycle right and sped off. The sand-covered asphalt in front of him rose into a hill. Oliver followed the road and arrived at a parking lot. In front of him was an old, wooden church that was leaning to one side. A few cars sat parked in the parking lot, their paint stripped by sandy winds and their frames rusted out by time. The church itself had shattered windows and holes in every wall. Oliver had to make do. It was too dangerous to search for better shelter with night fast approaching.

The thunderous engine cut out as Oliver parked and turned off his motorcycle. The world became silent again. Only faint wind could be heard in the absence of the engine’s power. Oliver turned on a flashlight that was attached to the side of the gas mask. Next, he grabbed his gun off the back of his motorcycle. Holding it with two hands, he turned toward the church. Oliver’s boots met the ground with quiet clicks. These were combat boots, tough and made for smashing jaws. 

He swallowed nervously. Though anxious, Oliver felt safe with his Railshot Rifle in hand. It was beautiful, a flawless combination of a railgun and a shotgun. He checked the top port of the gun before entering the church. The gun had plenty of scrap metal in it, ready to shred flesh and bone instantly. Next, he checked the round blue energy meter above the trigger. Oliver felt sure there was enough charge to keep him safe.

He moved toward the entrance. The flashlight pierced the darkness, allowing him to see the gnarled and twisted vines covering the church. They looked so dry that it seemed like they would crumble to dust if Oliver touched them. The twin doors that blocked off the entrance to the building posed no challenge. One was hanging weakly from its hinges, while the other had broken off and now laid on the floor.

Step by step, he entered the church, walking over a fallen door and looking up into the steeple. The lonely church bell still hung far up there. It was rusty, kept in place by a few frayed ropes, gently moving back and forth.  Each time the wind gently moved it, Oliver heard a distant “ding” from the steeple. 

The bell seemed so lonely. It was a reminder that this place was once the center of a community. Where were they? He assumed that they were all long gone, lost to the last twenty years. 

The interior of the church was desolate and destroyed. The hard, wooden floor inside had a layer of sand and pebbles. Each time Oliver took a step, a quiet crunch followed.

 There were broken benches and piles of rubble everywhere. Oliver wondered if any ghosts still sat on those benches. Were they at peace, or were they suffering? Many parts of the walls and roof had collapsed upon the altar and benches lining the church. Oliver looked around cautiously, taking in the looming structure.

Here was once a holy site that held peace, now defiled by the wasteland. To Oliver, all of it was just firewood.

The place was empty of any living presence. The only recent trace of human activity was a single piece of graffiti over the altar. Oliver examined the graffiti, stepping upon the altar to wipe some dust off of it. 

“GOD HAS ABANDONED US!”

Oliver frowned and stepped down from the altar, turned around, and started to gather pieces of wood. The graffiti was unsettling. Oliver breathed uneasily as he moved around. Once he grabbed enough pieces, he formed them into a campfire at the center of the building. Oliver took off his backpack and laid it beside him. It was an old, rugged backpack that held most of his belongings. There were some holes in it, and its fabric was so worn down that the once blue-ish fibers were black and dirty. The backpack held a bedroll, food, gas mask filters, incredibly precious bottles of water, and bags of scrap metal.

He dug inside the backpack and pulled out a tesla lighter. It was old, given to him when he was younger. On one side was a company logo that was almost invisible from wear. He flipped the cap open and turned it on. Arcs of energy formed between two metal rods, the arcs humming and dancing.

Oliver lowered the lighter down to the campfire. First, there was smoke, then after a few moments, a small flame appeared. Oliver nurtured the flame until it engulfed the small campfire. Once it was going, he unstrapped the bedroll from the backpack and laid it out beneath a bench near the fire. Oliver felt happy as he basked in the warmth of the fire; his shivering slowly stopped as he turned off his flashlight and sat down.

The church creaked and moaned from the rough winds outside. The sounds made Oliver uneasy. He stared at the fire, his face wrinkling in thought as he contemplated the church. People still clung to Christianity in the new world, though their beliefs had changed over the past two decades.

Many were afraid of old churches. Some said that God had punished humanity for their sins. Sin was thought to be the reason why the world was like this now. Many believed that the Devil lived in old holy places like this church. Oliver didn’t believe in all those stories, but the idea still creeped him out. He imagined the evil, horned demon dancing in the shadows with the flickering flame, laughing at his ignorance and plotting to steal his soul.

While warming up from the heat of the campfire, Oliver gazed at the device on his forearm. It was a Smartwrist, similar to a smartwatch from the early 21st century. He turned it on and checked the time. It was nine o’clock, three hours until midnight. New year, new century, same problems. People used to celebrate the new year, drink, and make merry. Not anymore.

With nothing else to do, Oliver decided to eat dinner. He grabbed the backpack and dug through it, procuring a vial with a full meal inside of it. Processed cubes of synthesized meat and vegetables composed the meal, food from the old world. He frowned bitterly under his mask as he looked at the vial. Oliver unscrewed the lid, quickly lifted his gas mask, emptied the vial, and put his mask back on in one swift movement. Instead of throwing away the vial, he put it back in his backpack for later use.

Oliver looked like a chipmunk with so much food in his mouth. Stuffing too much food into his mouth was a bad habit Oliver had; as a matter of fact, he used to be called “Chipmunk” by his family. The artificial food tasted like stale popcorn. Oliver’s metal teeth chewed through the stuff easily. While he was eating, Oliver thought about his last visit to a dentist in the old world.

He remembered having his teeth pulled out to be replaced by 3D printed metal teeth that wouldn’t break or decay. The pain from the procedure was brutal and lasted a few days after the surgery. For many, it was once a rite of passage, marking the transition from teenager to adulthood. Everyone went through it, and, in Oliver’s opinion, he was happy to have metal teeth. Suffering tooth decay from the inability to deal with his hygiene was the last thing Oliver wanted. They looked like real teeth anyway and didn’t turn yellow.

Oliver’s gaze shifted to the doorway of the church. Outside, there was the darkness of a polluted world. There was no grass, but there was still some life, mostly brown, dry, and barely alive. The winds were blowing fiercely as always. A blackish color tainted the air, and waves of dust sailed over the ground with the tremendous force of the wind.

A discontented exhale left his lips as he closed his eyes. Oliver tried to remember a time when the sky didn’t constantly have a dark haze over it. Growing up in a cramped apartment, Oliver heard stories of when there were still green fields and blue skies. He believed the stories only because he had seen pictures that captured those forgotten times, though some doubts lingered in his mind. No matter how hard he tried, he could never recall a bright, sunny day. All that came to mind was the sky darkening as time passed.

He struggled to remember a day when he didn’t have to wear a gas mask to go outside. Oliver recalled that every indoor space had a sort of airlock before anyone could enter. He would walk in, have doors closed behind him, then have the room completely emptied of air and refilled with filtered, clean oxygen in a few seconds. 

Oliver checked the time again. Two hours until the new year. He put more wood on the fire to push the biting cold away.

A pained moaning interrupted the peace as the sparks and flames engulfed the new fuel. Oliver let out a startled gasp, holding his breath and looking toward the sound. Far away outside the church, Oliver could hear footsteps approaching. Oliver barely made out the shapes of figures in the darkness outside, human shapes with extra arms, faces, and body parts fused into them. They were human mutants, the fiendish nightmares of the wasteland.

Oliver hastily stood up and snuffed out the fire in front of him with a boot before laying down flat. He reached out for his weapon and held it, his heart throbbing with dread. The noise and the moans were the worst part. The faint silhouette of their horrid, mutant forms was all Oliver could see in the darkness as memories of being chased, attacked, and more slowly crawled back and made his skin feel cold. They came close to the church, horribly close. Their footsteps and hoarse breathing filled the air.

Oliver heard bodies brush against the sides of the church as they walked past, their footsteps passing slowly and beginning to fade. Oliver carefully stood, proceeding to investigate the church. Had he been seen? Did they know he was here? Nothing. Nothing seemed to be hiding among the ruins, and he heard no more sounds outside. A relieved exhale left his lips as he returned to the fire and knelt beside it, trying to start it again.

Abruptly, footsteps quickly approached from behind. Oliver swung around with his gun ready as he heard them. At the same time, something his size crashed into him, causing him to see stars.

It knocked the gun out of his hands and sent Oliver to the ground. He landed with a pained grunt. In an instant, his knife was in his hands. Despite his surprise, Oliver immediately retaliated against the figure he could barely make out.

The beast shrieked as he plunged the blade blindly into its body. Its arms thrashed, mouth gnashing at Oliver. He stabbed again, then again, the thing falling on top of him. Its shrieking grew higher in pitch, a rough hand striking Oliver in the head. The strike made him blink, stunning him but not stopping him from stabbing.

With a tremendous kick, Oliver threw the creature off and began stomping the monster into the floor. Every smack made it squirm less, its whole body growing still after a while. As he stopped, Oliver heard a rasping breath from it. He stomped again out of spite. Oliver wasn’t going to give it mercy. He lifted his mask and spat on the dying creature. As he did, he caught a whiff of its rancid, sweaty smell.

Oliver listened to the creature as it occasionally let out pained squeals. He started the campfire again, the flame slowly growing from the church’s dried, ancient planks. In the light, Oliver could make out the creature dying before him. It was a mutant, shaped like a human with a face fused partly into its shoulder. A useless limb extended from its belly, while a stunted leg dangled from the calf of its right leg. Stab wounds covered its body, blood seeping from each.

Oliver relished its suffering. He watched it trying to fight again, weakly twisting and squirming. It growled and gurgled, painfully bleeding out. After five minutes, it gave in and collapsed completely. Once the mutant was dead, Oliver remained wary of any more creatures. Fortunately, none came to avenge the mutant that he had just killed.

Oliver felt a stinging sensation on the side of the head where the mutant hit him. He rubbed it, causing his face to scrunch as he winced. It must’ve been another mark. 

“That’s going to bruise,” he whispered to himself.

His skin was rough and covered in scars, damaged from the toxic air and the violent wasteland. Even if it did bruise, it wouldn’t stand out.

He checked the time again — only forty minutes to midnight. The wind outside began to batter the creaking church. The structure’s stability was questionable, but there was no option to find shelter in another building. Oliver moved his bedroll under a bench and got inside of it, keeping his gun close at hand.

He played games on his Smartwrist to pass the time. Oliver felt a sinking sensation of emptiness when his thoughts dwelled on these games. In his youth, games and social media were a major part of his life. Oliver had followers, friends, people that he still kept in touch with years after losing face-to-face communication. Sometimes, Oliver had met his old friends in virtual worlds. The thought caused his fingers to meet the port where the VR chip went, the object that connected the Smartwrist to the VR equipment he once had.

The world felt more desolate than it already was when these thoughts of loneliness came to him. He remembered virtual games too and how many hours of his life he lost to them. Gaming was a happy memory that made him smile when thinking about all the friends he had made, especially those from strange places. Now, survival was lonely and harsh. Whenever humans met one another, it was either shoot or run.

The last thirty-five minutes passed in the blink of an eye, and before Oliver knew it, the last minute before New Years arrived.

As the last minute dwindled, Oliver released a relaxed, drawn-out exhale. He counted it in his head, one Mississippi, two Mississippi. Oliver mumbled it under his breath until the last ten seconds. He turned off the Smartwrist and lifted both arms in the air with spread fingers.

“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one… HAPPY NEW YEAR!” he whispered as loudly as he dared.

The year was 2100, and Oliver was still alive.


About The Author

E.T. Gunnarsson

Mr. Gunnarsson grew up on a horse-rescue ranch in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. He now resides in Georgetown, TX.

Once in Texas, he wrote his first post-apocalyptic book, “Forgive Us” while attending high school. Outside of writing, Mr. Gunnarsson is a purple belt in BJJ and a brown belt in Judo.

You can connect with the author here:

Facebook | Instagram | Reedsy Discovery | Twitter | Website

Character Interview: Kimiko Chou from Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai by Con Chapman

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Kimiko Chou, the lead character from Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai by Con Chapman, for our Character Interview feature.

About The Author

Con Chapman

Con Chapman is the author most recently of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges (Oxford University Press), winner of the 2019 Book of the Year Award from Hot Club de France. His work has appeared in The AtlanticThe Christian Science MonitorThe Boston Globe, and a number of literary magazines. His young adult short story, “The Vanishing Twin,” appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Cicada

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Twitter


The Interview

Welcome to TRB! We are really excited to have you over. Please give our
readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

My name is Kimiko Chou.  “Chou” is my given name and means “butterfly.”  I was born a twin with a brother, Tadashige, or “Tada” for short.  My father is a samurai warrior—Kimiko Kiyotaka.  My mother stayed at home and took care of me and my brother.  We lived in the city of Ōita, Japan. 

What is your age and what do you do for a living?

I am twelve years old.  I am returning to Japan after a long journey to find my father, who had gone off to invade Korea with other samurai.  

How do you like to spend your free time?

Before my mother and brother were killed, I led the life of a typical Japanese girl of our city.  Tada and I would play, my mother would instruct me in gardening, housekeeping, art, poetry—and the tea ceremony.

Please share some of your beliefs, principles, motivations and morals (can be social, religious or political or, etc.) Anything that will help us get to know you better.

My family was Buddhists.  It may seem strange that a warrior such as my father followed a religion of peace, but samurai believe that Zen Buddhism helps them find inner peace and enlightenment to strengthen themselves, both in battle and in their daily lives.

Tell us something about your family and childhood.

My family was a happy one until the day when robbers invaded our house and killed my mother and brother while my father was off on an invasion of Korea.  From that day until I was reunited with my father, I was a wanderer, traveling with a ronin—a samurai who has been dismissed by his lord—and his page, Moto Mori, a young boy who was older than me.

Tell us something about your dreams and aspirations? Were you able to achieve them or are you planning to?

My aspiration at this point is to return to my home in Ōita and rebuild my life with my father.  He is without a wife and a son, and I am without a mother and brother.

What is your biggest fear in life? 

After what I’ve been through, there isn’t much I fear.  But my father is all I have left, and I could not bear to lose him.

How would you describe your life in one sentence? 

My world was a happy one until it was turned upside down by the death of my mother and brother, and I was forced to fend for myself to be reunited with my father.

What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you?

Losing my mother and my brother in a single day, when robbers invaded our home while my father was away.

Did it change you for the better or the worse?

Obviously, things became worse, but there was nothing I could do about it—they were gone, and nothing could bring them back.
But I became more self-reliant, and I experienced a great adventure, even though it was harrowing at times.  And I was reunited with my father.

What are your plans for the future? 

To return to Japan with my father and start our life over again.


Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai

KIMIKO CHOU is a girl on a mission. Her mother and brother have been killed by robbers in 14th century Japan while her father, a samurai warrior, is off on an invasion of Korea.
Chou (“butterfly” in Japanese) narrowly escapes death by hiding while the robbers ransack her home, then—dressed as a boy in her brother’s clothes—she goes in quest of her father. Alone on the road, she takes up with Hyōgo Narutomi, a former samurai who has been dismissed by seven previous masters, and Moto Mori, his page.
The three of them—man, boy, and girl—make their way across Japan along with Piebald, an old horse with a curious spot on his coat that resembles a Fenghuang, the mythical bird that rules over all others in Asian mythology. Together this unlikely trio experience a series of adventures and narrow escapes until Chou and Mori—but not Narutomi—land in Korea. There, as a spy for the Koreans, Chou searches for her father-across enemy lines!

You can find Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai here:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


To read more author interviews, click here.

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: Con Chapman

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Con Chapman, author of Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Con Chapman

Con Chapman is the author most recently of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges (Oxford University Press), winner of the 2019 Book of the Year Award from Hot Club de France. His work has appeared in The AtlanticThe Christian Science MonitorThe Boston Globe, and a number of literary magazines. His young adult short story, “The Vanishing Twin,” appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Cicada

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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The Interview

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

I’m a writer on the side—it’s not my day job.  I’ve written young adult fiction before (“The Vanishing Twin,” Cicada Magazine, March/April, 2015) but this is my first YA novel.  My most recent book was about Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington’s long-time alto sax player: Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges (Oxford University Press).  Kimiko Chou has a samurai theme because I’m interested in that now-abolished caste whose members were, at the same time, warriors and artistic; they were highly literate and wrote poetry; their motto was “The pen and the sword in accord.”  

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

It has a “meta” aspect to it, in that it is introduced by a character—Etaoin Shrdlu—who says that he translated the work.  He is as fictional as Kimiko Chou, though.  This technique—sometimes referred to as a “framing device”—explains how it is that the reader is holding in his or her hands a first-person account from the 14th century.  It is used in the novel by Thomas Berger, Little Big Man, one of my favorite works (and one that I think is underrated).

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

Not sure there’s a particular message I want readers to take away from the book, but characters reveal themselves to you as you create them—Pygmalion style.  Chou is hardened by the tragedy at the beginning of the book, but doesn’t miss a beat and embarks on a new life.  Along the way, she finds that her first impressions about people don’t always turn out to be correct, but even those who she grows close to—such as the boy page, Moto Mori, who is her companion on the journey—have their flaws that are in need of mid-course corrections.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

The ronin, or fallen samurai, Hyōgo Narutomi, who leads the two children on their expedition.  He is a failure who refuses to acknowledge that fact, and carries on despite having no real hope of ever realizing his ambition; to become a samurai again, after having been dismissed by seven masters.

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

I had a lot of time on my hands waiting for a publisher to get back to me on a proposal—over a year.  At some point I threw up my hands and decided to start on another project.  I’ve written two novels before, one of which (CannaCorn) is a baseball novel with a character who thinks of himself as a latter-day samurai in his role as a relief pitcher.  I read a YA novel about a boy samurai, and Women Warriors: An Unexpected History by Pamela Toler, which includes stories of female samurai.  I did a little research and didn’t find any YA novels about girl samurai, and decided to write one.

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

Once I got going, not that long, maybe a year.  I had to do some research on Japanese history during the period when the samurai first came to prominence, the 12th to the 14th centuries, and also on Japanese geography, to get the details of a Japanese invasion of Korea down.

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

I’d like to be able to write full-time, but I’ve got a long ways to go.  I’d like to write a sequel to Kimiko Chou if there’s a demand for it.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am currently writing a history of Kansas City jazz for Equinox Publishing, a British publisher.

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

The novel (or novella, it’s not that long) seemed right for this story.  I also write plays, histories, poetry, humor, and short-form journalism.

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

?  It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was  in high school.  I became a sports reporter for my small-town newspaper when I was a junior in high school, after I hurt myself and couldn’t play football anymore.  I got a newspaper reporting job right out of college, but found I wasn’t very good at going up to strangers and asking them embarrassing questions, which is essential to the job.  So I had to find some other path, which took a while.  I wrote an article on jazz for a Boston-area “underground” paper, but didn’t have much success pitching freelance articles.  I decided I needed to get a book written, and chose the 1978 pennant race between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, which no one had written about.  Red Sox fans didn’t want to be reminded about it, since they blew a big lead and didn’t make it to the World Series, and Yankee fans weren’t interested since it wasn’t a big deal to them—they went on to win the World Series, so the win over the Red Sox was insignificant by comparison.

I self-published the book, The Year of the Gerbil (the word “gerbil” refers to a scornful nickname the Red Sox hung on their manager that season).  This was back in the bad old days when self-publishing was expensive.  I took money out of my savings to finance it, and had to do all the marketing myself.  I wrote a lot of letters to bookstores, made personal trips to ask bookstores to stock it—very naïve.  I’d send copies to various newspapers and magazines, got maybe two reviews.  Then I sent a copy to the Business Editor of The Boston Globe because he had mentioned how Boston and New York had similar rivalries in business and sports; the Yankees back in the day were perennial winners, the Red Sox went 86 years without winning the World Series, and New York is a much bigger business market than Boston.  To my surprise, he wrote a glowing review of the book in the Business Section of the paper, the book got named to a list of 50 essential books about the Red Sox, and while I never made back my initial monetary investment, I had a start on a reputation in that I could name a book I’d written and people might actually want to read it.

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

.  I have to write at the beginning and end of the day since I have a day job.  If I wake up early I’ll try to produce a paragraph or two before going off to work, and at night if I’m not too tired I’ll try to do it again.

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

?  I write on a computer, as it’s much faster, even for drafts.  The one exception is playwriting; I’ve had twelve plays published, and because you’re just writing dialogue, not exposition (other than stage directions), it’s easy to get a lot down with just a pen and a pad of paper.

What are your 5 favourite books?

The books I’ve read the most, multiple times, are:

  1. The Moviegoer, Walker Percy (novel)
  2. The Sweet Science, A.J. Liebling (non-fiction, boxing)
  3. True Tales from the Annals of Crime and Rascality, St. Clair McKelway (non-fiction,         crime)
  4. George Ade and Ring Lardner, Midwestern humorists
  5. And the Holy Trinity of Southern female writers: Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and   Carson McCullers

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I had writer’s block when I got out of college, wanted to be a writer, and couldn’t get anything written.  You only have writer’s block if you want to write and can’t, so I can’t say I had writer’s block when I more or less gave up on writing for a while.

It’s sad but true, as far as I’m concerned and one of my friends who had writer’s block and couldn’t finish his Ph.D. dissertation, that getting thrown into a job where you have to write, or going back to school and being under pressure to produce on a daily basis will cure you of writer’s block.  The problem then is—you have no time to write because you’re busy.

For the most part that’s the situation I’m in today; I have to find time to write around my work, which forces me to become more efficient and not have a beer and stare off into space and think about the Great American Novel I’ve got in me down deep inside.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Well, you’ve got to look the part on paper.  I bought a book on manuscript preparation and writing book proposals (the Writer’s Market book, “Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript”), which gave me some guidance on presenting yourself as a writer.  Where before I’d do things wrong (like sending in a non-fiction article without querying first), I at least had a sense of what an editor or publisher who might actually buy something from you expected it to look like when it came in over the transom.

Thank you, Con, for your insightful answers!


About The Book

Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai

KIMIKO CHOU is a girl on a mission. Her mother and brother have been killed by robbers in 14th century Japan while her father, a samurai warrior, is off on an invasion of Korea.
Chou (“butterfly” in Japanese) narrowly escapes death by hiding while the robbers ransack her home, then—dressed as a boy in her brother’s clothes—she goes in quest of her father. Alone on the road, she takes up with Hyōgo Narutomi, a former samurai who has been dismissed by seven previous masters, and Moto Mori, his page.
The three of them—man, boy, and girl—make their way across Japan along with Piebald, an old horse with a curious spot on his coat that resembles a Fenghuang, the mythical bird that rules over all others in Asian mythology. Together this unlikely trio experience a series of adventures and narrow escapes until Chou and Mori—but not Narutomi—land in Korea. There, as a spy for the Koreans, Chou searches for her father-across enemy lines!

You can find Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai here:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


To read more author interviews, click here.

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