Character Interview: William Miller From An Enemy Like Me by Teri M. Brown

Today, we are featuring William Miller, from An Enemy Like Me, for our Character Interview feature.

About The Author

Teri M. Brown

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown came into this world with an imagination full of stories to tell. She now calls the North Carolina coast home, and the peaceful nature of the sea has been a great source of inspiration for her creativity.
 Not letting 2020 get the best of her, Teri chose to go on an adventure that changed her outlook on life. She and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. She learned she is stronger than she realized and capable of anything she sets her mind to.
 Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others.

You can connect with author Teri M. Brown here:
Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube


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.

My name is William Miller. I was born in North Canton, Ohio right before the United States entered World War II. That war shaped my life, not only while the fighting lasted but to this very day. That may surprise you since I was obviously too young to be a soldier. But here is something you should know – war changes people – even when they aren’t the ones doing the fighting.

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

I’m 76 years old, so I’m retired now. However, when I was younger, I was a carpenter. Although I built some houses, I mostly did renovation work. In my later years, I did what would be called finish work, such as creating mantles for a fireplace or dental molding to a dining room. I gained quite a reputation in my little North Carolina town for my work and stayed very busy.

How you like to spend your free time? 

I have two main hobbies, painting and fixing up old cars. My paintings were never as good as my father’s, so I often went months without getting out the oils. However, I did produce a few that I’m proud of, including one featuring a set of silver wine goblets. You can see images in the condensation. Now, fixing up old cars? That is my true love. I’ve restored over 100 cars. The first one I ever completed was a 1932 Model A coupe with a rumble seat. When I got it, it was nothing more than a rusted-out shell with more holes than metal. I had to borrow money from my father-in-law to buy it, and boy was my wife, Marie, ticked off! However, I fixed it up and sold it. With that money, I paid back my debt and bought another car. Now, 50 years later, I work on cars worth $50,000 or more.

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.)  

There are two things that really drive me. The first is family. Family is at the center of everything I do. I worked to earn money for my family. I created fun experiences over the holidays to bring my family closer together. I would give my life for my family. Without family, what does a person have?

The second driver is patriotism. I love the United States and all it stands for. My father fought in WWII to preserve our freedoms, and I joined the Air Force for the same reason. I think I am a lot like my father in both respects. He had to make impossible decisions because of his love for both.

Tell us something about your family and childhood. 

I loved growing up in a German community. The food was amazing. I remember going to my grandma’s house when she’d be baking. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was a professional baker and candy maker. But for me, as a little boy? It was just grandma making me treats.

One of my favorites was made from leftover pie dough. She would roll out the leftover dough, spread it with butter, and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. Then, she’d roll it up into a log and slice it up into discs. Once baked, I’d get to eat them hot off the baking sheet.

I wasn’t very good in school. Reading was hard for me. I did fine in math and loved doing anything with my hands. To this day, I’m not much of a reader, unless it is a magazine about antique cars.

There is a funny story about me and cars as a teenager. Well, it is funny now, but at the time? My dad let me drive the sedan, but I wanted the car to look extra special for a date. The steering wheel had a brodie knob, or what my friends and I liked to call a necker knob. You could hold onto the knob with one hand and have your arm around your girlfriend with the other.

Well, I thought it would be cool to move the knob to the right side of the steering wheel. I would still hold it with my left hand, but that would allow my left hand to be across my body.

I took the car out for a test drive and stopped to show my buddies. Everyone loved the idea. However, on the way home, I must have let my mind wander. All of a sudden, I had a thought that my hand was in the wrong place, so I quickly pulled on the knob – and ran into a tree. Needless to say, my father was not happy!

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

I dreamed of being an inventor like my grandfather. Although I never actually became an inventor, I did create many things that helped me in the garage or at work. I never let the lack of a part or a tool stop me from completing a job. I just figured out another way around the problem.

What is your biggest fear in life?

My biggest fear is not living up to my father’s expectations. He’s been dead for several years, and I still wonder if he’d approve of what I’m accomplishing.

How would you describe your life in one sentence? 

My life has been a series of events that have led to this moment in time.

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

My father left for the war, and I had to live with my grandparents while my mother went to work.

Did it change you for the better or the worse?  

That’s a good question. It definitely changed me. After you read An Enemy Like Me, you’ll have to decide if the change was good or bad.

What are your plans for the future?

My life is about at the end. However, I hope to figure out my relationship with my son, continue to work on my cars, and travel a bit with Marie. She has always wanted to go to Australia, so we are planning a trip next winter – their summer.


An Enemy Like Me

How does a man show his love – for country, for heritage, for family – during a war that sets the three at odds? What sets in motion the necessity to choose one over the other? How will this choice change everything and everyone he loves?
Jacob Miller, a first-generation American, grew up in New Berlin, a small German immigrant town in Ohio where he endured the Great Depression, met his wife, and started a family. Though his early years were not easy, Jacob believes he is headed toward his ‘happily ever after’ until a friend is sent to an internment camp for enemy combatants, and the war lands resolutely on his doorstep.
In An Enemy Like Me, Teri M Brown uses the backdrop of World War II to show the angst experienced by Jacob, his wife, and his four-year-old son as he left for and fought in a war he did not create. She explores the concepts of xenophobia, intrafamily dynamics, and the recognition that war is not won and lost by nations, but by ordinary men and women and the families who support them.

If you are a fan of historical fiction with a love for heartfelt, introspective war stories, then you’ll enjoy An Enemy Like Me. This emotional saga explores war and its impacts in unique ways that few military fiction novels do.

You can find An Enemy Like Me here:
AmazonGoodreads | Author 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: Karin Ciholas

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of The Lighthouse—Karin Ciholas, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Karin Ciholas was born in Virginia and grew up in Switzerland where she studied classical languages. The study of Latin and Greek led to her fascination with the ancient world and its history. She earned advanced degrees in languages and comparative literature at UNC Chapel Hill and enjoyed teaching modern languages and courses on the ancient world. She has won twelve awards for her short stories and plays. She lives in Sarasota with her husband, author and theologian Paul Ciholas. 


Interview

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

 My father sang Norwegian songs to me and told me stories about his native Norway. My mother told me about her “old Kentucky home” where she grew up. As a child in Switzerland, I learned the Swiss dialect from my school friends, and all my courses were taught in German. All my life, I have been grateful for my gifted teachers in the Swiss school system that placed great emphasis on Greek and Latin and gave me a lifelong love of classical antiquity and ancient history. We spoke English at home, but the first class I ever had in English was when I came to the US to go to college. On a student trip to Rome, I fell in love with a young theology student from France, and when we married four years later, we lived in France for several years. After completing advanced degrees, we chose teaching careers in the US: Paul to teach religion and philosophy at universities in Kentucky and I to teach languages and humanities at Centre College. And that is how we ended up in “our new Kentucky home.”

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

The Lighthouse is about a dedicated Jewish physician named Simon who wants to heal and save lives and make the world a better place. But he is thwarted and opposed by violence and racism. Antisemitism rears its ugly head. He fights back at every turn. He fights against vicious criminals, against arbitrary Roman power, and against the injustices of racism. He struggles for freedom for his fellow Jews. One of the battles he cares most about is his struggle to find better ways to treat illness. When his sister is abducted and sold into slavery, he starts his fight against slavery. It is a deeply personal battle that endangers his family. It is a battle he cannot win.

He is a witness to several historical events that profoundly changed the world. He is neither responsible for those events, nor can he intervene to stop them. During the first pogrom of recorded history in Alexandria, Egypt, Simon tries but cannot stop the massacre. He does manage to save many lives.

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

The fight against prejudice, racism, and antisemitism is never done. Prejudices against fellow human beings have distorted human behavior since Cain and Abel, and wars and hatred in the name of religion still mar our history and continue to cause havoc. Simon, the physician who seeks to heal, cannot find the way to cut this defect out of the human heart. And yet he tries. Boldly, Simon fights for justice for his family and his people. When Simon plunges into danger, we worry about him. Sometimes we want to shake him and talk sense into him. We are moved by historical drama where life and death are at stake. His urgent fight for justice is never done. At stake, for him, is the survival of his people. Despite many setbacks, Simon brings healing to many. We all need healing.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Aurelia is my favorite character because she is strong. In many ways, she is stronger than Simon even though Simon does not see it that way. She often protects him, assists him in saving lives during the pogrom, and is not intimidated even when the emperor or the prefect of Egypt opposes her. There are several strong women who sometimes quietly and other times quite theatrically make a difference. Antonia, sister-in-law of Tiberius, saves Rome from an upstart tyrant who wants to take over the imperial throne. One of my favorite characters is Sosias, an orphan Simon rescues who has irrepressible curiosity and sets out to become an engineer. Through him, I show some of the scientific and technological advances of the times.

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

My Mother was a discerning and avid reader. She enjoyed reading my short stories and plays but complained she couldn’t find enough historical fiction set in New Testament times. She asked if I had ever thought about writing a novel about one of the characters in the New Testament who knew Jesus. I told her I was intrigued by Simon of Cyrene. I mentioned Simon did not really know Jesus, that he met Jesus under the most excruciating circumstances and that Simon was an unusual Jew since he gave his children Roman and Greek names. She turned to me and said, “Well, Karin, when will you write his story?”

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

It took about 15 years. During a demanding teaching career, I kept my mother’s request in mind, enjoyed studying primary sources in ancient history, and discovered so many jewels of information I could use for the novel she wanted. When I finished the first chapter, I sent it to her in the mail. Then she kept wanting more. I sent chapter by chapter until 1000 pages landed in her mailbox. There have been many changes since, but the basic bones of the novel are still there. A wise agent told me the book needed to be divided into a trilogy.

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

I hope to get the next two books in the trilogy into shape for publication. Between initial concept—even if on paper—and completion much needs to be done. After that, I may turn back to a historical novel I’m writing set during WWII. I have also ghostwritten several memoirs for veterans of WWII and helped them with the logistics of publishing. Alas, more and more vets are leaving us without having told their stories.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

History provides an endless source of material. My favorite era is the first century when so much was going on. I like to take a character like Simon and show events through his eyes, making him a witness to the great events that occurred in his lifetime: the rise of science in Alexandria, the power of the Roman empire, amazing advances in medicine that will later be lost for centuries, the crucifixion of Jesus, the beginnings of Christianity, the fall of the temple…. I might write a story about another historical character from that time.

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

I’ve written and published short stories and poems in literary journals, and five of my plays have been performed. But historical fiction is my preferred genre for reading and writing. Faulkner said: “The past is never dead…It’s not even past.”

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

I have always loved books. As children, my brother and I even started a little library and made library cards for each book he owned and each book I owned. When my mother discovered he was charging me a penny to read his books, and I charged nothing, she put a stop to his enterprise but not a stop to our reading. The impulse to write was first evident when I started rewriting the endings of stories I didn’t like. From there it was a logical step to just make up my own stories. From those childish beginnings came the urge to write short stories. All my first attempts at publishing them were rejected. I am sure the editors of the journals did me a favor by rejecting them. I started subscribing to the best literary journals and began to learn what was getting published. I also learned that what one publisher rejects can be submitted elsewhere and be accepted.

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

When I go to my computer in the morning, I read the news and check the last sentences I wrote the day before. Reading the news is quickly depressing. So, I turn to my writing. Writing makes me feel involved in the whole story of humanity. Research is exciting. I am in a different century. Except…some current events are not always that different from what was going on in the Roman empire.

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

I started out with pen and paper. All writing is now on the computer.

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

Any book by Sharon Kay Penman. One special favorite: Here Be Dragons. She makes Welsh history come alive.

Books by Margaret George. She is the doyenne of historical fiction, the astute researcher who makes major historical characters live and breathe. The Autobiography of Henry VIII with Notes by his Fool, Will Somers is a compelling saga. The Prologue alone is a masterpiece of historical and psychological insights.

Books by Tan Twan Eng. The Gift of Rain is set in Malaysia during WWII. A beautifully written novel filled with mystery and wonder.

Books by Mark Helprin. Paris in the Present Tense is a personal favorite. Helprin’s writing is lyrical, visual, hauntingly beautiful, entrancing.

Books by Geraldine Brooks. My favorite new book this year: Horse. There are many levels of meaning in this book, woven together into a fine masterpiece. Brooks is a versatile writer who makes time travel to distant shores and times sound easy.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Life can intervene. That’s ok. I just had cancer surgery a week ago. I need times when I must be gentle with myself. When at an impasse, I go to some writers I love most and reread my favorite passages and follow the flow of their sentences through a dramatic sequence and try to learn from them. If inspiration doesn’t come quickly, I like to sit in my garden or take a walk. The silliest thing I do is tell the story to my stuffed bear and explain what I want to do in the next scene. By the time I have told him, I often know what to do. I have a very intelligent bear, and he often warns me not to overthink it.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Besides getting an intelligent stuffed bear? Read, read, and read good writers you enjoy. After your enjoyment, take time to analyze why the writing moves you or inspires you or why it makes you smile or cry. Remember 3 p’s: perseverance, passion, and professionalism. It takes perseverance to complete a work and see it through the many steps toward publication. So don’t give up. If you are not passionate about your subject, your reader will not be. And if there is no passion in your main characters, they will not be interesting. Professionalism requires following the rules of submission to the letter, proper language use or having someone help with that, and being attentive and appreciative to those who give you advice, especially if they care enough to give you pointers when you get rejections. There is a fourth p. But you should avoid this one—perfectionism. Maybe Shakespeare wrote the perfect play, but I doubt it. At some point, you must stop the rewriting and editing and send your work out. Perfectionism is an enemy of success.

Thank you, author Karin Cicholas, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Lighthouse

Simon is a gifted physician who faces constant danger as a Jew in first-century Egypt under Roman rule.

When Meidias, an escaped convict, declares a “holy” war against Jews and abducts Simon’s sister, Simon’s search for her leads him on a treacherous journey to slave markets in Alexandria and to Jerusalem where a Roman soldier forces Simon to carry a crossbeam for a stranger. Simon is troubled by the stranger’s death but does not know that this moment will change the world forever.

Simon’s passion is Aurelia, inaccessible daughter of a Roman senator. His mission is revenge against the outlaw Meidias. His ambition is justice for his family and his people. His torment is the conflict between his Hippocratic oath and his vow to kill Meidias.

As his medical reputation grows, he comes face to face with prefects and emperors and the poor suffering masses of Alexandria and Rome. Overwhelmed by the plight of his people, he tries to stop what becomes the first pogrom in Alexandria.
THE LIGHTHOUSE moves between Egypt and Italy and back to Alexandria. It is a story about family love and loyalty, medical breakthroughs and heartbreaks, and one man’s quest for justice for his people.


You can find Balsamic Moon here:
Amazon | Goodreads

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

Author Interview: Alan Gartenhaus

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

About The Author

Alan Gartenhaus served as an educator at the New Orleans Museum of Art and Smithsonian Institution, and as a director of Cornish College of the Arts, in Seattle. A recipient of an Alden B. Dow Creativity Fellowship, he created and was the publishing editor of The Docent Educator magazine. His fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Broad River Review, Entropy Magazine, Euphony Journal (University of Chicago), Ignatian Literary Magazine (University of San Francisco), and the Santa Fe Literary Review. His short stories have been awarded with an “Editor’s Choice” distinction, and been designated a finalist in an international competition for Baby Boomer authors by Living Spring Publishers. His nonfiction has been published by Running Press, Smithsonian Press, and Writer’s Workshop Review.

You can connect with author Alan Gartenhaus here:
Author Website


Interview

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

Thank you for the welcome and for your interest in my novel, Balsamic Moon.
 
Balsamic Moon takes place in New Orleans. My undergraduate and graduate degrees are from Tulane University, in New Orleans, and my early working years were spent on staff at the New Orleans Museum of Art. I loved my time in that colorful, diverse, richly textured, and exotic city. It was akin to my “first crush,” the place that still makes my heart race whenever I think of it.

Today, many years later, I am seventy, married, and have lived on the island of Hawaii since 1995. In addition to having created, edited, and published a professional journal for museum educators and docents teaching with art, history, and science collections, I’ve spent much of my Hawaii years farming avocados, breadfruit, grapefruit, oranges, and pineapples. Rather than sell our produce, we’ve donated everything beyond what we consumed to local foodbanks.

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

“Balsamic moon” is an astrological term for the final phase of the lunar cycle. It’s considered a dark time of endings, dissolution, and change. I had never heard of a balsamic moon until researching the dates on which the novel takes place and discovered that it occurred during such a lunar phase. The irony of this did not escape me, and ultimately provided the story with its title.  

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

To be compassionate and respectful of all people, regardless of how they might differ from you.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I love and care about both of my main characters, but am most fond of Doreen, who struggled to succeed in life, to retain a sense of humor, and to grow despite adverse experiences.

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

Perhaps not surprisingly, the inspiration for Balsamic Moon came from watching the experiences and tragedies that befell the citizens of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck, the levees were breached, and floodwaters surged into 80% of the city. Seeing the suffering, the damage, and the ineptitude of our response to the desperation was agonizing. Writing helped me process that pain.

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

I worked on the manuscript for over eleven years, although not consistently. I would write, put it away, and come back to it months later. I reworked the text many times over those years.

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

I want to continue writing both short stories and novels, and hope that my readership, and their interest in my writing, will have grown. 

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am almost always writing––mostly short stories. I am also working on another novel that is presently in an initial, rough draft form.

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

All storytelling interests me but I am most prolific as a writer of short stories. I have had about twenty short stories published. Several of them are shared on my author website:  www.alangartenhaus.com.

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 can barely remember a time when I didn’t write. As a youngster, a neighbor-kid and I used to write science-fiction stories, alternating paragraphs––he, then me, back-and-forth. Since adolescence, I’ve kept journals, written poems, dashed down stream-of-consciousness thoughts, and recorded personal events. I haven’t had to make sacrifices to write; it’s been folded into my life. It is an integral part of who I am.

My focus on writing fiction became more serious when we moved to a very rural environment. In addition to providing me with “imaginary friends” to play with, writing offered a balance to daily chores and the physical rigors of farming.

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

I am an early riser, and routinized person. I write most days, after morning exercises and walks, until lunch. If the writing is going well, I continue into the afternoons; if not, I don’t.

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

With the exceptions of making notes, or writing a journal entry, both of which are in longhand, all my writing is composed on a laptop.

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

These are five favorites, not necessarily of all time but that I’ve much enjoyed in the recent past:

  1. Edgar Allan Poe: The Complete Short Stories
  2. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
  3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  4. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
  5. The Absolutist by John Boyne

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I wish I had a magic solution, but don’t. Mostly, I agonize, fret, and take long walks.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Give your work to readers whose opinions you respect. Listen and learn from criticisms; don’t rigidly defend your choices without understanding what has caused a reader to hesitate, question, or have difficulty. Be flexible.

Thank you, author Alan Gartenhaus, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Balsamic Moon

Within a few short hours, rising floodwaters force next-door neighbors into a desperate fight for survival.
Before Hurricane Katrina, neighbors Doreen Williams, an African American single mother, and Richard Girard, a reclusive gay man, were aloof and even suspicious of each other. But when the levees in New Orleans burst, these two are sent scrambling into a cramped attic where, together, they face tests of grueling heat, dwindling supplies, worries about loved ones, and the struggle to keep living.
In his novel Balsamic Moon, author Alan Gartenhaus explores the journeys and losses that survivors endure, the courage and persistence required to come through them, and the truth that, when our very survival depends on the formation of ties across differences, our compassion for one another is what makes us feel safe and whole.


You can find Balsamic Moon here:
Amazon | Goodreads

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

Author Interview: Teri M. Brown

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Teri M. Brown, the author of An Enemy Like Me for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Teri M. Brown

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown came into this world with an imagination full of stories to tell. She now calls the North Carolina coast home, and the peaceful nature of the sea has been a great source of inspiration for her creativity.
 Not letting 2020 get the best of her, Teri chose to go on an adventure that changed her outlook on life. She and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. She learned she is stronger than she realized and capable of anything she sets her mind to.
 Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others.

You can connect with author Teri M. Brown here:
Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube


Interview

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

Hello! I’m Teri M Brown. Besides being a writer, I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. My life hasn’t been easy. I’ve been so poor that I the home I lived in had no central heat or air, and I could see the ground between the floorboards in the living room. I was also married to an emotionally abusive man for 14 years and didn’t want to leave because I didn’t want to be seen as a failure. Now, I’m married to a wonderful man who has helped me understand who I am and what I’m meant to be. However, we found out in June that he has an aggressive form of brain cancer, so my life has taken yet another twist as we navigate this journey together. Despite all of this, I am an optimistic person who honestly believes that everything turns out okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.

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

The characters are loosely based on my own family. My grandfather is the soldier, Jacob. My grandmother is Bonnie. My father is William. Although I take liberties with their personalities and stories, anyone that knew them in real life would likely recognize them in the book.

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

We are far more like our enemy than we are different from them. I believe that if we look for similarities rather than focus on our differences, we can rid the world of the hatred that splits us up into opposing groups.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

My favorite character is Bonnie because she is a woman ahead of her times. We see a quiet strength in her, and even when she is weak, she eventually rises above it.

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

My family is German-American, though we’ve lived in the United States since before the Revolutionary War. My grandfather fought in WWII and ended up in Germany in an area near where our ancestors were from. He rarely talked about the war, but once, when I was a teenager, he said to me, “I always wondered if the person on the other side of the gun was a cousin.” That idea haunted me and became the basis of this book.

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

My writing process is something I call word vomit. I don’t use an outline (also called a pantster), and I tend to find a time to write in which I can truly immerse myself for days (I call this binge writing). As a binge pantster, I try to get my story down from start to finish as quickly as possible. Then I let it sit for a while – a month or two – before going back to make substantial edits. When writing An Enemy Like Me, I did the binge pantster part during a two-week writer’s retreat. I completed the edits during a one-week retreat. After going to my editor, I spent another 60 hours or so making the needed changes.

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

Five years from now, I hope to have another five books out, for a total of seven. My goal is to write a novel a year. I also hope to have finished my book about our tandem bicycle tour, as well as a children’s book that I’ve promised my grandchildren. Finally, although I have written historical fiction to date, my writing is really character-driven fiction. I hope to branch out and write some other genres including something with a bit of fantasy or even a romantic comedy.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am currently working on a manuscript about a healer woman in the mountains of North Carolina. I hope to include lots of mountain folklore as well as Cherokee lore, and show what happens to traditions as ‘modern’ advancements take over.

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

I love historical fiction for two reasons. The first is that I love to do research. I call myself a #researchjunkie. The second is that I have trouble with setting. I wouldn’t do well with the kind of world building often found in full-fledged fantasies or science fiction. With historical fiction, I don’t have to ‘make up’ a setting. I just have to do enough research to help my readers understand what it was like at that time. It’s a perfect genre for 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?

As a child, I used to tell people that I wanted to be three things. The first was an Olympic ice skater, but for anyone who knows me, this isn’t likely because I’m not terribly coordinated! I also said I wanted to be a brain surgeon. Once again, unlikely because I hate the sight of blood. However, I also said I wanted to be an author.

I wrote a lot as a child and teen. Unfortunately, being a writer was not seen as a worthy occupation by my family. One didn’t go to college to learn to write because being a writer meant you would end up as a server in a restaurant and likely starve to death. So, I went to college getting a major in education and psychology, as well as minors in math and sociology – but I never used any of these directly in an occupation.

After getting married, having four children, and then divorcing, I needed to find a job that allowed me to continue to stay at home and homeschool my children. I began writing for small businesses, helping them create content for the Internet.

Then, I spent 14 years married to an emotionally abusive man. I eventually came to the point of no longer believing in myself or my abilities. I had stories that needed telling, but I believed – and was told – that just because I could write nonfiction didn’t mean I could write fiction.

Once I finally got out of that relationship, the words started to flow. However, I was still too terrified to let the words out into the public. I couldn’t handle the thought of rejection.

In February 2018, I met my current husband. Although I never planned to marry again, he was persistent – and perfectly suited for me. While we dated, he encouraged me to write the manuscript that became my first novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. Then, after we married, we went on our tandem cycling adventure. That adventure changed my life. After those three months doing something well outside my comfort zone and very challenging, I realized that I could do anything I set my mind to.

Six months after returning from the trip, Atmosphere Press accepted the manuscript for Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. And now, my second novel, An Enemy Like Me, is out.

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

I am a computer writer all the way. I type very quickly and can keep up with my thoughts. I can’t do that with longhand. Plus, my longhand is very messy, meaning I have trouble deciphering what I wrote later!

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

I have never liked this question because my favorite books change every time I read something new! So, I will give you some books that have meant something to me over the years.

  • Over in the Meadow – This was a picture book with a sing-song poem by Olive A. Wadsworth. This is the first book I remember being read to me, and it still brings back happy memories.
  • Trixie Belden books – Trixie Belden was a girl detective. These books were aimed at readers younger than Nancy Drew. I read them all. Then, I read all of Nancy Drew. And then? I read all of The Hardy Boys because it made me angry that I wasn’t supposed to read the books for boys.
  • The Grapes of Wrath – This novel by John Steinbeck was the first book I read for something other than pleasure. It was with this novel that I learned that authors often had something they wished to impart to their readers. Learning this changed the way I read books.
  • 1776 – I loved the way David McCullough weaved history as a story. I used 1776 to teach my children American history. Because the facts were part of a story, it made history fun and exciting. His books helped me to become a historical fiction fan.
  • Harry Potter series – Because my children were interested, I read the books, too. I realized that JK Rowling had the ability to write in a way that intrigued children, teens, and adults. That is a skill I’d love to cultivate.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I don’t believe in writer’s block. When a writer can’t write, I believe it is because there is something else going on that is taking up the creative space in their head. It’s impossible to write if something big or overwhelming is crowding out creativity. The only thing to do is to fix the thing that is ‘top of mind’ or find a way to put it into perspective so that it is no longer in the way. For instance, when I first found out that my husband had brain cancer, I could not write because that was the only thing on my mind. It took up all the free space and crowded out creativity. I can write again, not because there has been a change in his condition, but because I’ve found a way to go on living despite the diagnosis. Cancer is part of our life right now and it has its own space in my head. However, I have far more control over it and when it comes out.

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

I have four things I would tell aspiring writers. The first is to write. Don’t wait for a class or a degree or some specific event to get started. You will never be a writer until you write, so get started now.

The second is that once you have something you feel has merit, let someone you trust – but who will be honest and give you feedback – read it. Then listen to what they have to say. Feedback can be difficult because it can feel like criticism. But you won’t get better at writing if you continue to do the same things over and over without improving.

The third sounds like it contradicts the second but bear with me. You don’t have to listen to everyone’s advice! There is more than one way to write and more than one kind of reader. Listen to suggestions and give them a try, but if they don’t work for you, it’s okay to put them to one side. For instance, I cannot use an outline. I’ve been told it is the “BEST” way to write, but for me, it stifles my creativity. I tried it. It didn’t work. Now? I’m comfortable with being a binge pantser.

Finally, you’re going to have to be more than a writer if you want to sell your books. That means you’ll need to learn marketing. So, before your first book goes to print, learn how to market and get started marketing at least 12 weeks before the launch date.

Here are ways readers can purchase the book and/or get in contact with you?

You can purchase the book on Amazon(https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Like-Me-Teri-Brown/dp/1639885455), Barnes & Noble (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-enemy-like-me-teri-m-brown/1142018249), and wherever books are sold. You can also purchase the book from my website at http://www.terimbrown.com.

The easiest way to connect with me is through my website at www.terimbrown.com. In addition to joining my newsletter, where you will get the list of “The 10 Historical Fiction Novels You’ve Never Heard of That Will Bring You to Tears,” you can reach out to me through my contact form and find links to all my social media.

For those who prefer going directly to social media, you can find me here:

  • Facebook.com/TeriMBrownAuthor
  • Twitter.com/TeriMBrown1
  • Instagram.com/TeriMBrown_Author
  • LinkedIn.com/in/TeriMBrown
  • Goodreads.com/terimbrown
  • Pinterest.com/terimbrownauthor
  • Tiktok.com/@terimbrown_author
  • Youtube.com/@TeriMBrown_Author
  • Amazon Author: https://www.amazon.com/author/terimbrown

Thank you, author Teri M. Brown, for your insightful answers!

Book Trailer

About the Book

An Enemy Like Me

How does a man show his love – for country, for heritage, for family – during a war that sets the three at odds? What sets in motion the necessity to choose one over the other? How will this choice change everything and everyone he loves?
Jacob Miller, a first-generation American, grew up in New Berlin, a small German immigrant town in Ohio where he endured the Great Depression, met his wife, and started a family. Though his early years were not easy, Jacob believes he is headed toward his ‘happily ever after’ until a friend is sent to an internment camp for enemy combatants, and the war lands resolutely on his doorstep.
In An Enemy Like Me, Teri M Brown uses the backdrop of World War II to show the angst experienced by Jacob, his wife, and his four-year-old son as he left for and fought in a war he did not create. She explores the concepts of xenophobia, intrafamily dynamics, and the recognition that war is not won and lost by nations, but by ordinary men and women and the families who support them.


If you are a fan of historical fiction with a love for heartfelt, introspective war stories, then you’ll enjoy An Enemy Like Me. This emotional saga explores war and its impacts in unique ways that few military fiction novels do.

You can find An Enemy Like Me here:
Amazon| Goodreads | Author 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: Emma Grace

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Emma Grace, he author of Match for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Emma Grace

Emma Grace is a lifelong novelist, student, and lover of the outdoors. She is currently pursuing a B.A. in Creative Writing with a Minor in Wilderness Education at SUNY Potsdam, a combination of her two passions, however different they may be.

Emma lives in both northern New York and southern New Jersey, splitting her time while she pursues her degree. The back-and-forth nature of college has allowed her to embrace her love of travel while simultaneously learning to understand her transient characters (who handle change far better than she does). Her parents, sister, and exceptionally spoiled dog are her biggest supporters.

When she isn’t holed up in a library or coffee shop, you can find Emma out in nature, either sunbathing on a rock like a gecko or finding yet another mountain to climb.

Match is Emma’s debut novel. To learn more about the Underground and Katie’s future, visit her website, www.authoremmagrace.com, where you can sign up for her newsletter.

You can connect with author Emma Grace here:
Author Website | Instagram | TikTok


Interview

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

Hi! My name is Emma, and I’ve been writing for pretty much my entire life. Match is my first novel, which I’m super excited to share with the world! I was born and raised in southern New Jersey (think of farms and big pine trees) but I go to college in super-upstate New York. In fact, my school is so far upstate that it’s not even called upstate—it’s called the north country! I’m a creative writing major and wilderness education minor, and I love spending time outside, whether I’m climbing, hiking, camping, or simply enjoying an afternoon in my trusty hammock. A lot of my best work happens after a day spent outdoors. I’m really excited to share my work with you guys and get to know you, too!

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

One of my favorite things about Match is that it’s written in first-person, present tense, which gives it a really intimate feel. The narrator’s name is Katie, and you get to see into her brain and understand why she makes the choices that she does, how she rationalizes them, all those gory details. You also get to see how much she loves her friends Chris, Ava, and Noah. The four of them are exceptionally close, and while the story is narrated through Katie’s POV, they’re really all the protagonists, which is why I simply refer to her as the narrator.

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

First and foremost, I want readers to have a good time. That’s my main goal with writing—produce something enjoyable to share with others. As far as a message goes, I want readers to realize that they’re so much tougher than they think they are. Katie, Chris, Ava, and Noah go through so much together, and a lot of it seems unsurvivable. But at the end of it all, they get through it, and even manage to laugh a little along the way. I want readers to look at the four of them and think ‘wow, if they can get through that, then I can get through whatever I’m dealing with, too.’

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

Even though Katie narrates this book, I really love Noah, one of her best friends. He’s funny, sweet, and very protective, but in a respectful way. He sees the world in a very black and white way, which sometimes lands him into trouble. There’s a running joke that he and the principle were on a first-name basis when he was younger because he was such a prankster, but they were always pretty harmless because he just wanted to make people laugh, not hurt them. He’s really protective and would go to bat for pretty much anyone without a second thought. He’s just a total doll, and I love writing scenes with him.

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

I saw a Tumblr post when I was younger that pretty much said, “what if when you turned 18 you were given this half-heart necklace and your soulmate had the other half, so you had to go on this epic journey to find them?” That really struck me as interesting, and I said, “what if we took that, but made it dark and twisted?” So then I kind of reversed the concept and made it, “your soulmate is already in this town, and the government will tell you who it is by matching up your half-heart necklaces,” which is what prompts my characters to run away. Throw in a resistance military, old family secrets, and the journey of self-discovery, and now you have Match!

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

I started writing Match when I was about 13 and decided to publish right after I turned 20. So technically 7 years, but I would take time away from it to work on other projects or just focus on school (usually work on other projects, like the sequel).

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

I would love to publish Match and its two sequels, and then maybe get more into poetry or general YA. I also plan to go on a lot of adventures in the near future, doing some long-distance hiking, working outdoorsy jobs, etc. I would love to eventually publish a memoir of all of my adventures. In 5 years, I see myself getting ready to settle down somewhere in the Adirondacks, or maybe out in the western U.S. if I find somewhere that captures my heart just as much. I’ve got lots of exploring to do before then, though!

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I’m currently working on the sequels to Match, which are called Spark and Burn. Spark is narrated from Chris’s point of view, which is a really interesting adjustment to make. A lot of Katie’s narration is how my inner monologue sounds, so I have to be very careful and deliberately switch it up for Chris. Burn is from Katie’s point of view again, so it feels more natural to me, which is why Spark is currently getting a lot more of my attention.

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

I chose YA dystopia because those were my favorite books growing up. The Hunger Games rocked my world—I was so obsessed I wrote fanfiction, braided my hair every day, the works! When I first started Match, I wanted to create something that, if I worked really hard and also got really lucky, would have the same kind of impact. I do dabble in poetry, but only if an idea pops into my head—I try not to force it. Eventually, I’d like to work on a regular YA project that I have in mind, but that’s a ways away!

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

I decided I was going to be a writer in the 3rd grade. We had a period in school called “Writer’s Workshop” which was just time to work on stories or poems, kind of whatever we wanted. I liked it so much that I started typing up a story on my mom’s work laptop every night when she got home, and eventually I (with the help of my dad) emailed it to my teacher. The next day in school, she was so excited about it, asking me questions about what happens next (I’d left it on a cliffhanger, which is something I still do). I remember thinking, ‘wow, I really like doing this, and other people really like when I do this, too!’ And that was it, I never looked back. Over the years, other things have taken up more my time and attention, but I always come back to writing.

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

My favorite times to write are whenever I feel like I’m stealing words, if that makes sense. In high school, I’d race through a test to have a couple minutes to write; at work, I’d pull up a word document whenever my boss wasn’t looking. Those are the times when I feel the words flow the fastest—when I feel like my writing is a tiny act of rebellion. When I’m not stealing words, I like to head to the library and put some lofi beats on. I usually use noise-cancelling headphones—I call them my “work-mode blanket.” I’ve found that I’m not great at writing at home since that’s primarily my place to relax and rest, although I do enjoy lighting a candle and doing social media work there.

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

I really like to write on my laptop—my brain works too fast for me to write longhand! I’m also a leftie, so I end up with pen smudges all over my hand. I would love to get a typewriter someday, but I do tend to make a lot of typos, so we’ll see! Occasionally, I’ll use dictation, especially on a long drive (like the one from NJ to the north country) if I have an idea that just won’t leave me alone.

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

This is like asking me to choose my 5 favorite friends! Okay, here goes nothing:

  1. The Hunger Games/The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (SO excited for the movie!!!)
  2. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
  3. The Song of Achilles (except I cried so hard that I’ll probably never read it again—I can’t afford to be that dehydrated)
  4. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse
  5. The Sun is a Compass

My favorite authors, however, are a little different:

  1. Suzanne Collins
  2. J.K. Rowling (I don’t agree with her on pretty much everything/I won’t financially support her anymore, but Harry Potter did shape my childhood/desire to write, and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for those books)
  3. Rick Riordan (PJO also shaped my childhood)
  4. Delia Owens (same as JKR—amazing writing, crummy person!)
  5. Madeline Miller

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

For me, ideas have to kind of fall into my head. They remind me of thunderstorms in July—they appear very suddenly, and then poof, they’re gone. Staring at the sky won’t make a storm appear, and staring at the blank page won’t make an idea show up. I like to stay busy by hiking, climbing, hitting the gym, or hanging out with friends. Funnily enough, reading does not help, because then I end up comparing my writing to whatever I’m reading and then I just feel worse. So, staying busy, keeping my mind and body active, and allowing the ideas to come naturally is my best method for dealing with Writer’s Block. A good cry helps sometimes, too.

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

I would tell aspiring writers to defend themselves fiercely. There are going to be people who doubt you, even in your inner circle. My best advice would be to cut those people out ASAP—not necessarily from your whole life, but definitely from your writing life. Writing is hard, and it’s a process that can be filled with self-doubt. The last thing you need is someone else making it harder for you. Surround yourself with support and positivity, and you’ll realize very quickly how much you and your writing can thrive. You’ve got this—I can’t wait to read your story!

Thank you, author Emma Grace, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Match

Katie Davis has had her whole life planned out for her since birth. She, along with every other citizen of Carcera, is predestined to marry her perfect Match. She knows that she will eventually have two children, and that none of the citizens will never leave the Border, the wall of stone encircling the city. No one could have predicted, however, the harrowing night that forces Katie and her three best friends to flee for their lives only days after their Matching Ceremony. With nowhere to go, Katie and her friends must make impossible choices at every turn.

They are faced with life-altering decisions, such as whether or not to join the Underground, a resistance army dedicated to overthrowing Borders. The smaller choices seem just as unfathomable as the larger ones-what to eat for dinner, what to do in their free time, and even what to wear. When their luck begins to run out, they are left with only two options: fight, or die.

Match is the first installment of The Matchbook Trilogy.


You can find Match here:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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

Excerpt Reveal: Please Feel Bad I’m Dead by M. Price

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author M. Price who’ll be sharing an excerpt from his latest release Please Feel Bad I’m Dead.

About the Book

Please Feel Bad I’m Dead

Jhaegar Holdburn is a forlorn teenage edgelord who constantly attempts suicide and finds himself continually failing due to last second blunders. His desire for death comes from his often frazzled, often incoherent mind and how it fuels the way he’s ostracized by his peers as well as how he’s been made a pariah in the current social climate. At last the opportunity arises, Jhaegar manages to commit suicide using a foolproof method, and after years of despair he finally dies…
But not quite…
Jhaegar is instead resurrected…as he will always be resurrected. He finds the one thing standing in the way of sweet death is his uncanny inability to truly die and that his suicides result in increasingly stranger and psychedelic realities, irreversibly made worse by his ever deteriorating mind. He discovers the only way to break this cycle of death and rebirth is to uncover the real root of his problems and find his own personal sense of happiness, as well as to unravel the esoteric tangle of his own repressed psyche.
But, with his grasp of reality slipping away by the minute, will Jhaegar have time to save himself from his own self-destruction?

You can find Please Feel Bad I’m Dead here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble


Excerpt

Intro to Insanity

Jumpin’ Christ, this is too much work. How do people even get these things loaded?

I’m on nine, but there’s still room for seven more. What? How? Who’s this strong? It’s—ya know, it’s not even about strength, it’s dexterity—but how do others have this dexterity? They’re strong, yeah, but they can’t be that good with their hands. And why do I even care? I only need one. Guess it’s just unrealistic, uh, something standards.

And my thumbs! Already swollen up to shit now. What’s really stupid is people would see this and be like, “Oh, what a loser, he can’t even load it all the way, what a scrawny whi—” —ya know, it’s not always about strength—just not as practiced as others may be in this field and that’s nothing to hold against me. I’m certainly trying something new and isn’t that what everyone wants? What they keep telling me to do? Whatever.

Durkheim posits that neurasthenia has no definite correlation to suicide. Jhaegar Holdburn posits that Durkheim’s a rustic country asshole who doesn’t know anything about me and I’m gonna do whatever I want. Stupid sociology, telling me how to think. Or psychology. Phycology. Something. They’re all the same. Bunch of old white people (which I’m definitely not, by the way).

Oh, my jumpi—forget it. We’re sticking with nine. I don’t have time for this, it’s all just a waste—they’re not gonna check it anyway. Nobody but me has standards in the first place and if they’re all gonna be degenerates, I may as well be, too.

But yeah, I set the gun (pistol?) on my desk. My nerves assault me as I do. What if I miss? I should’ve got the shotgun—I mean, it’ll be Visa’s problem, not mine. Sigh. I never think. This website I saw (name forgotten already) listed all the best (best) ways to (I gotta stop using parenthesis) kill yourself and they listed shotguns with a 99% success rate (“success” and I sure feel bad for that remaining 1%). Gun/pistol was set at I think number three right after cyanide, but it’s like, who has cyanide? And I feel it’s more classical or something this way with a gun/pistol. I’m a man of aesthetics.

I’m just afraid I’ll jerk my head at the last moment and shoot my face off. Or shoot below my brain and just sever my eye connector things—orbiter deals. Or shoot myself in the forehead and hit the wrong lobe. According to that website, it’s actually a lot more difficult than it may initially appear. I really should’ve got the shotgun, but it’s fine. It’s all fine.

Whatever. Step two: Music. I turn on my radio cuz I’m also a rustic country asshole and still own one and put in The Sleepy Jackson’s Personality (One Was a Spider, One Was a Bird). It’s my favorite album and the second track, “Devil in my Yard,” is one of my favorite songs and should queue up by the time I’ve completed the other steps. Their album title also has parenthesis. Double also: I enjoy, “You Won’t Bring People Down in My Town,” but it’s farther down the track list. I was gonna use it in a movie I never made—it was for the part when Mico’s at the dance with all the girls and he dances with all of them in turn during the “na na bu dah” parts but he doesn’t really feel it until the big “na na bu dah” part comes in while Luke’s like—ya know? I’d use the real lyrics, but I’m sure they’d sue my corpse—fine me while I’m in Hell or something—but then the right girl comes on to dance with him even though she’s not actually real and all the lights switch to a new color and they dance and as they dance the camera does this neat thing where it changes the central filmic lens and the girl then becomes the main character of the movie to help illustrate the man having a sexual identity crisis and longing to be a woman but then he dies and like I said she’s the main character until of course she dies and he’s reborn out of her dead body. It was a pretty wild movie. “How Was I Supposed to Know?” is also a great song, but it’s the last one.

Step three: Use the bathroom.

Step four: The Note. One must (wait, isn’t THIS the note?) be careful creating The Note as this’ll be the final messa—well, I’m just trying to get out of a going to a party tonight. Is this worth it at the moment?

Shut up! Yes, yes it is—I was gonna do it anyway, it’s just a convenient coincidence. But The Note, or lack thereof, is important cuz it’s your last chance to blame others—or leave an extreme, yet ambiguous, trail of breadcrumbs about your death to forev—

—A dog just took a shit outside. Is that alright? And she just left! Pick up after your dog, people live here!

Benny’s back of course. Squirrely little squirrel asshole. Always mocking me.

“Dear Benny: Fuck you.”

No, that won’t work. All wrong. How could I put “Dear” in my note? Do I really hold anyone dear? Not really. But what else would I put? Do I have to put anything? “Devil in My Yard” is playing so I don’t have time to lollygag.

Ya know, I’ll put “Deer” instead. The detectives won’t understand cuz Benny’s a squirrel. We’re doing it.

Alright, “Deer…”

I fucking hate writing. Waste of time—goofy I even have to do this. I rather say nothing, but then people’ll call me selfish. Need a drink of water.

I get said water from the bathroom sink like a real American. An unfortunate side effect of this is that I see myself in the mirror. I’m, uh, six even, hundred eighty pounds of muscle cuz I’m in basketball. Yeah. I’m smokin’. And I’m black…I mean, Black. Well, brown (Brown). Definitely not white. Never white. I’m a woman, too. Latin-American is offensive to me, just letting you know. I’m Chilean Second Generation.

The “Welcome to Chili’s” meme gets stuck in my head. Great. This is what I wanted to think about right now.

“Deer: I hope you’re all doing fine. As you can see by the body in this room: I am not fine.”

Ehh, I can’t use that. That’s stealing from George Carlin…well, the whole idea of this note is stealing from George Carlin, but they won’t know. They don’t listen. I’ll use it and they’ll never see. And if they did, they wouldn’t care. Maybe they like him, too? Maybe it’d make them admire me, they’d find in me a kindred spirit. Plus, what are they gonna do, write me up? I’m dead.

“Deer: I hope you’re all doing fine. As you can see by the body in this room: I am not fine. I’m penning you this notice regarding my death in hopes of bringing to light my decisions (not that you could ever hope to understand HahHahHahHahHah). Luke Steele’s an underrated singer who—”

—Piss! My thoughts interrupted my writing again! Gotta start over. Do I have enough paper for this? Oh well, I’ll quick get this thought out before I write again: Luke Steele, the main singer guy, has his other band, Empire of the Sun, right? They rushed their third album, like SO hard. That kind of stuff disappoints people. You get these expectations and

This is my fault

Shut up! It’s fine. Just get the note, get the note, get the note, get the—

—I sneeze. I have a cold, I guess. It’s not ideal, but it’ll have to do. We all make the best of our situations. See? I’m always told I’m not very positive. Clearly wrong. I am quite positive (double meaning!).

When one leaves behind a suicide note, the detective people take it in and examine it to see if I was murdered. Nirvana fans still think Cobain was murdered—not all Nirvana fans, I understand this, just some—but he wasn’t murdered. Kurt definitely killed himself. I wonder if it’s better that he did? The whole message they were giving wouldn’t have really worked with a band of forty-year-olds…and at least he knew commercialization with appeal to a larger audience ultimately kills true art…or maybe he wanted to die. Doesn’t matter thinking about it now, he’s dead and—

—He used a shotgun! I should’ve got the shotgun!

Christine Chubbuck lived for like fifteen hours after she shot herself. I don’t want that, that’s nuts! She severed the eye thingy—the orbiter!—she shot too low. I won’t make that mistake. Have to learn from others. Thanks Christine, for all you did for us. Is it alright if I call you “Christine?”

I ditch the note. Simply not practical. I’ve been writing (attempting) for a time now, so long in fact I’m actually approaching, “You Won’t Bring People Down in My Town.” This is either an unforeseen boon, a, uh, or—people always wanna do things in threes. There’s actually only one in this situation. You won’t see a false second and third from me. Terrorists don’t win this time.

But yeah, people’ll just have to deal with it. They don’t care anyway. I reset the album back to the beginning. I take my gun/pistol off my desk, slip into bed, a

I’m sorry

Jhaegar! Stop! Just do it already!

I prime or whatever-it-is the gun/pistol. Harder than it looks. Daniel Craig just snaps it back like a badass. It’s more of a strained yank for me. I always wanted to make a James Bond movie cuz I have an old ex-friend who loved James Bond and I know he’d go nuts. He ruins my friendship, I ruin his movie. It’s the least I could do.

I sneeze again. Man, this cold. Suddenly, I get the impression I’m a Manchurian candidate. What? What even is that? Does that relate to my cold?

“Devil in My Yard” comes on. Now’s my chance. I decide to leave a mental suicide note. Wait, weren’t there more steps? Never mind. “Deer everyone: it’s my life and I love it, I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask, uh…I won’t ever ask…or tell, I guess.” It’s alright to copy that, people too busy playing Bioshock instead.

I hold the barrel underneath my chin. Sigh, too unreliable…I hold it to my temples. The eye thingies! I raise it higher. I don’t know how much is right! I try my forehead! It’s hard to aim this way! Do I have sufficient finger strength?! Finger dexterity?!?!

Luke’s almost done! Piss on it all, I hold the gun/pistol back underneath my chin and pull the—

—I sneeze.

***

I wake up in the hospital.

Piss…

Or maybe it’s just a hospital-like Heaven or Hell? Whether this is worse or better, I cannot yet determine.

If Charlie Kaufman directed this scene from my life and/or death, the lights would be flickering and there’d be cockroaches everywhere. That’s called Expressionism, ya know? Expressionist filmmaking. Not about how something is, but how something feels. But Kaufman didn’t direct this, some dime a dozen studio “Filmmaker” did. And no, I’m not gonna attack Marvel right now (though I should). Rather, I must investigate.

My mystery finds itself quickly solved. I discover several thick bandages covering my right ear—this is the same moment I realize I can no longer hear anything out of my right ear.

I sigh.

***

I sigh just a bit harder as I sneak back inside my house. God knows what would happen if my Mom saw this. The Doctor told me she’d (cuz not all doctors are men mind you!) let me off with a warning which I found rather strange. An attendant at the door then told me to, “Please come visit us again!” Real, real strange.

Some blood trickles past my bandages. A soft pang (right word?) in my heart gives me a tad of insight into what it must be like being a woman. At least maybe? I’m a woman sometimes—but not at the moment, so my prior knowledge is null. I wipe the trickle with a store brand facial tissue and remind myself to never wear white again and then chastise myself for reminding me now cuz it won’t really matter unless I remind myself at the next instance I’ll be pressured to wear white. No barnyard weddings in the coming weeks I can think of so I should be fine. I can’t stand those barnyard girls. Quirky culture’s dead.

I get a drink of water and, well, you know me, it leads me to the bathroom sink and I see my new reflection. These bandages put a damper on my appearance. Jumpin’ Christ, they’re gonna call me “Hijab Holdburn” now. I take off the bandages.

I see my NEW new look.

I put the bandages back on.

“Hijab Holdburn” isn’t that bad. Maybe it’ll make people think I’m Middle Eastern? But Middle Eastern is the one that hasn’t really risen up the social tiers yet, they’re still kinda open season. Not like Black. Black is set. Black is good to go. Is there a Black sounding nickname I could get from this? I only see Middle Eastern or Latinx—Latino—Latin—La—whatever. I don’t know, I just have to stop being white.

The “Suicide Checklist” I keep on my wall mocks me (it’s the several items already crossed out). Jumping off the roof just hurt my legs and apparently I have a preternatural immunity to sleeping pills, et cetera, et cetera. I grab a pen and cross out, “Fucking shoot yourself.” You got me this time, Life, but next time I swear I’ll win. This pride dissipates as there’s nothing left on my list to try.

I recall that party is still on tonight and I, quite well alive, must attend.

Super sigh. I regret not putting all sixteen bullets in the clip. That probably would’ve added the required weight to stop the gun from jerking so hard.


About The Author

M. Price

M. Price may or may not live in the American Midwest. If one should find Price walking alone in the park, please feel free to leave Price alone. Some people say Price is something, but others say Price is definitely not (but defiantly yes), and whether it can really be known, who can know? All we know now is that you will never get this time back.
M. Price’s favorite pizza is pineapple (not Hawaiian as Canadian bacon is for the Goys (Hilary Hahn’s favorite pizza is pepperoni (or so I’ve been informed))).
STONKS.

You can find author M. Price` here:
Twitter

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: M. Price

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author M. Price on The Reading Bud for his upcoming book Please Feel Bad I’m Dead.

About The Author

M. Price

M. Price may or may not live in the American Midwest. If one should find Price walking alone in the park, please feel free to leave Price alone. Some people say Price is something, but others say Price is definitely not (but defiantly yes), and whether it can really be known, who can know? All we know now is that you will never get this time back.
M. Price’s favorite pizza is pineapple (not Hawaiian as Canadian bacon is for the Goys (Hilary Hahn’s favorite pizza is pepperoni (or so I’ve been informed))).
STONKS.

You can find author M. Price` here:
Twitter


About the Book

Please Feel Bad I’m Dead

Jhaegar Holdburn is a forlorn teenage edgelord who constantly attempts suicide and finds himself continually failing due to last second blunders. His desire for death comes from his often frazzled, often incoherent mind and how it fuels the way he’s ostracized by his peers as well as how he’s been made a pariah in the current social climate. At last the opportunity arises, Jhaegar manages to commit suicide using a foolproof method, and after years of despair he finally dies…
But not quite…
Jhaegar is instead resurrected…as he will always be resurrected. He finds the one thing standing in the way of sweet death is his uncanny inability to truly die and that his suicides result in increasingly stranger and psychedelic realities, irreversibly made worse by his ever deteriorating mind. He discovers the only way to break this cycle of death and rebirth is to uncover the real root of his problems and find his own personal sense of happiness, as well as to unravel the esoteric tangle of his own repressed psyche.
But, with his grasp of reality slipping away by the minute, will Jhaegar have time to save himself from his own self-destruction?

You can find Please Feel Bad I’m Dead 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

Book Spotlight: Please Feel Bad I’m Dead by M. Price

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author M. Price for their latest release, Please Feel Bad I’m Dead.

Please Feel Bad I’m Dead

Book: Please Feel Bad I’m Dead
Author: M. Price
Publication date: 28th May 2022
Genres: Literary Fiction and Satire 
Page Count: 294
Publisher: Amazon/KDP


About Please Feel Bad I’m Dead

Jhaegar Holdburn is a forlorn teenage edgelord who constantly attempts suicide and finds himself continually failing due to last second blunders. His desire for death comes from his often frazzled, often incoherent mind and how it fuels the way he’s ostracized by his peers as well as how he’s been made a pariah in the current social climate. At last the opportunity arises, Jhaegar manages to commit suicide using a foolproof method, and after years of despair he finally dies…

But not quite…

Jhaegar is instead resurrected…as he will always be resurrected. He finds the one thing standing in the way of sweet death is his uncanny inability to truly die and that his suicides result in increasingly stranger and psychedelic realities, irreversibly made worse by his ever deteriorating mind. He discovers the only way to break this cycle of death and rebirth is to uncover the real root of his problems and find his own personal sense of happiness, as well as to unravel the esoteric tangle of his own repressed psyche.

But, with his grasp of reality slipping away by the minute, will Jhaegar have time to save himself from his own self-destruction?

You can find Please Feel Bad I’m Dead here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble


Praise for Please Feel Bad I’m Dead

“William Faulkner, Thomas Pynchon, John Ashbery, Virginia Woolf, David Foster Wallace–all are fascinating writers but hard to follow. M. Price’s PLEASE FEEL BAD I’M DEAD feels like a candidate for this abstruse club.”

– IndieReader

“The book is a whirlwind experience of an imploding mind…PLEASE FEEL BAD I’M DEAD by M. Price invites the reader to explore in-between spaces. The often blurred lines of sanity and illness, the void of daily dialogues, the societal gaps which engulf misfits, and whatever lies between life and death.”

– Bestsellers World

About The Author

M. Price

M. Price may or may not live in the American Midwest. If one should find Price walking alone in the park, please feel free to leave Price alone. Some people say Price is something, but others say Price is definitely not (but defiantly yes), and whether it can really be known, who can know? All we know now is that you will never get this time back.
M. Price’s favorite pizza is pineapple (not Hawaiian as Canadian bacon is for the Goys (Hilary Hahn’s favorite pizza is pepperoni (or so I’ve been informed))).
STONKS.

You can find author M. Price` here:
Twitter


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: John Walker Pattison

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of Me and My Shadow: Memoirs of a Cancer Survivor – John Walker Pattison, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

John Walker Pattison

John Walker Pattison was born in the wonderful seaside town of South Shields 65 years ago. He is a dedicated Newcastle United supporter since 1969 when he took his steps through the clackerty clack of the turnstiles at St James Park; however, there is little doubt that the crucial hinge in John’s life is his beautiful wife, June. “Nothing is more important than family,” says John.
He retired from his post as a senior clinical nurse specialist and head of service in haematology at his local hospital, partially due to his chronic illnesses as a consequence of the salubrious chemotherapy and radiotherapy he received decades ago, this being the same hospital that established his cancer diagnosis almost 50 years earlier; at that time his parents were told that he would not survive, yet here he is today, humbled to be one of the longest living cancer survivors in the UK.
He has written dozens of articles for national and international nursing and medical press-presented lectures the length and breadth of the country on many aspects of haematology and cancer management. He is honoured to have won numerous awards both locally and nationally for his work in haematology.


However, Pattison knows that being one of the longest cancer survivors is his greatest achievement.
John Walker Pattison recently completed his memoirs, ‘Me, and My Shadow – memoirs of a cancer survivor’ and which was published on 31 st October 2022.
In addition, following the completion of his memoirs and in retirement he is now focusing on children’s fiction. John declares, “I have always been an elasticated Grandpa – relaying exaggerated stories to my grandchildren for many years.” These unbelievable tales are now the basis for his children’s books. In 2021, his inaugural title, ‘Strange Trips and Weird Adventures’ was published, as part of a series of adventures of Daniel and Papa. ‘Blenkinsop Blabbermouth and the Ghost of Broderick McCaffery,’ is due to be published on 16 th December 2022, ‘The Fastest Water
Pistol in Splodge City’ has a target publication date of May 2023 and the fourth title, ‘The Kingdom of Huckleberry Jam,’ is likely to be released late 2023.
Meanwhile, Lunar von Buella the Mystical Mouse from Missoula is a work in progress. Pattison enjoys the solitude and escapism of fly fishing and photographing Native Americans. More significantly, he found solace throughout his cancer journey in the history, and spirituality of the Lakota Sioux Nation. In 2018, he would spend time on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with the indigenous people of South Dakota, the people who, unknowingly, supported him through his, and life’s greatest challenge, cancer.

You can connect with author John Walker Pattison here:
Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | Email | MeWe


Interview

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

I am 65 years young, married to June and live in an old Victorian house, built in 1867 in South Shields.
South Shields is nestled on the north east coast of England and is our home. We have three daughters and four grandchildren, all living locally, “Nothing is more important than family.”
I left school with a handful of worthless qualifications and started working life as a welder in a local shipyard. Early in life, my aim was to join the Royal Navy, however, when cancer gripped my life in a deathly stranglehold, that goal was lost.
In 1997 I returned to college to get the qualifications required to start my nurse training.

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

My book, ‘Me and My Shadow – memoirs of a cancer survivor’ had a number of high profile celebrities ready to write a foreword. However, I decided not to offer any of them that opportunity as I wanted the book to stand on its own merits. I did not want to be seen to be relying on a celebrity in order to raise the book’s profile as I believe the three-dimensional and inspirational story, will stand up to scrutiny and critique.
I am honoured to reveal that his Royal Highness King Charles III has a copy of ‘Me and My Shadow -memoirs of a cancer survivor.’

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?

Inspiration! I felt passionately that not only should my unique story be heard but, that it would offer inspiration and hope to anyone in society, but especially to anyone touched by a cancer diagnosis.
Statistically, 1 in 2 of the population will get a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lives, a scary thought. Each and every one of us knows someone, friend, relative or loved one who has been affected by the scourge of society, cancer.
Everyday makes me realise how fortunate I am, humbled at being one of the UK’s longest cancer survivors at almost fifty years post diagnosis. But, it is not just my story – the fact that my parents, way back in 1978 after 3 years of treatment and multiple relapse’s, were told that I would not survive is a blessing in itself.
Yet eight years after my unexpected recovery, my daughter was diagnosed with terminal leukaemia – like her father she too would unexpectedly survive, going on to become an international swimmer, gaining two silver medals at the ‘World Swimming Championships’ in New Zealand in 1998.
However, the third aspect of this three dimensional chronicle details my return to college and then a subsequent meteoric rise to the top of the clinical nursing ladder, becoming a haematology nurse consultant at my local hospital, the same place that made my cancer diagnosis decades earlier and where I would prescribe chemotherapy and break bad news diagnosis to individuals with the same cancers as my daughter and myself.

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

When, last year I retired due to chronic long term illness due to the salubrious chemotherapy, I just felt compelled to share my story

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

Although the story is almost fifty years in the making; the actual writing of the book took around six month. This did not include the time I spent requesting, then gaining access to my medical records in order to ensure I transcribed the correct chronological order of the many treatments I received.
Occasionally, my memory would recall the many thoughts of my journey and, often during the middle of the night, when this happened, I had no other option than to get up, and start writing. Even today, after publication, there are one or two anecdotal stories that were not included in the book because I simply did not recall them.

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

At the risk of sounding blasé, I would hope to be sitting on a best seller, delivering inspiring author talks to patient groups, health care professionals and any other reader groups that are prepared to listen.
I have also played around with the idea of a follow up chronicle, so that would not be beyond the realms of possibility. Ultimately, in response to the question and with total sincerity, I will settle for just being around in five years.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Yes, my fifth children’s book, ‘Lunar von Buella the Mystical Mouse from Missoula.’

Do you also dabble in Fiction?

I certainly do, following retirement I wanted to keep active and, being an elasticated Grandpa I decided to write children’s fiction.
I have always told my grandchildren about the adventures I have undertaken during my past years; such as, the time I climbed Mount Everest barefoot and captured the Abominable snowman, before letting him go again or, the time I built a sherbet fuelled rocket and blast off to Jupiter or, the time I won the world’s greatest steeplechase, the ‘Grand National’ on donkey called slowcoach or, my fights with lions, tigers and salt water alligators during the time I spent in the jungle teaching Tarzan how to survive or, the time I saved the King of England from being robbed of the crown jewels by masked robbers when I squirted them with salad cream and, the stories go on.
I published ‘Strange Trips and Weird Adventures’ in 2021 and this was followed by ‘Blenkinsop Blabbermouth and the Ghost of Broderick McCaffery’ only this month. My third title, ‘The Fastest Water Pistol in Splodge City’ is on target for publication in May 2023 after which time I will submit the fourth title called ‘The Kingdom of Huckleberry Jam.’ As highlighted in a previous question, I am currently working on ‘Lunar von Buella the Mystical Mouse from Missoula.’

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

Following my retirement, my wife suggested my elasticated stories would make good reading for children. I therefore, set about formulating a series of adventures of Daniel (my grandson) and his best friend Papa (me). Despite having never written a book previously, I decided the key ingredients should be intrigue, escapism and a splattering of magic, leading the child to feel as though they are participating in the adventure themselves.
Ultimately, I think all children’s authors will agree that we are all children in a part of our hearts and I believe we never lose that childlike sense of fantasy and adventure. In that respect, I am no different to anyone else. It is that fantasy imagination that allows me to conjure up my stories.

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

To be honest, I do not have a specific writing ritual. Like most writers, there are times when the thoughts and ideas are free flowing. But, of course there are many times when I come up against the inevitable wall. In that situation, as I am extremely lucky to live on the North East coast of England, I can simply walk out of the door, stroll along a beach or, amble through a serene park and often a sudden splurge of ideas will enter my mind.
I tend to try and write a little each morning, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If you do, how do you overcome it?

I don’t think writer’s block as an entity is real, some authors, of course, will disagree and that’s fine. 
Admittedly, there are times when you struggle to find the vocabulary needed to further your work. But, at the outset of your project, you have a direction and a route map of how that work will progress. You know how you want the work to flow, so it’s not unusual to find that ideas dry up. 
But, I feel it is important to realise that if it were as easy as just writing and writing without the occasional stoppage or the need to gather your thoughts, redirect the project, and perhaps even make a major change to the story, then everyone would be an author. 
It is of course important to recognise this and put the pen down (or remove your fingers from the keyboard) and do something else for a few hours, possibly a few days. I have, certainly when writing children’s fiction left my work for up to three weeks. What is significant is, that eventually, you will continue the thread from where you left it.

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

I guess as I retired from my senior cancer nursing post last year, yes, writing would now be considered my profession.

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.)

That’s an easy one and relates to my memoirs, ‘Me and My Shadow.’ My inspiration during the difficult challenges of cancer treatment and the ultimate psychological battle I faced; was the history and spirituality of the Lakota Sioux nation.
Early in my diagnosis I read ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’ by Dee Brown, a history of the indigenous people of America and their oppression and how they were almost destroyed beyond recovery. Yet their strength, pride and humility were such an enormous inspiration to me that eventually, I would spend time on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota with the Lakota people who unknowingly supported me through life’s greatest challenge, a cancer diagnosis.
In addition, as a children’s author I have no hesitation in suggesting any book written by Julia Donaldson, in my view a phenomenal once in a life time innovative children’s author.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I tend to put my work to one side, just go for a walk, or, pick up my camera and head out to seek stimulation and a thought that will allow me to continue.
I have always believed that simply sitting (in a park for example) and watching the world go by, observing peoples mannerism, their interactions or listening and watching nature will yield thought provoking ideas.
Alternatively, it is not unusual for me to leave my work alone for a few days.

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

Decide what you are going to write, be true to yourself. Make plenty of notes (I still write long-hand before transcribing to the PC). Write from the heart but do not be afraid to re-write where necessary. Re-writes are almost always inevitable.
You must be your own critic but be prepared to accept criticism from others. Remember, family members are not always the best people to offer a critique as they are clearly bias in your favour. Join author forums and seek advice from your peers.
I tend to structure my projects, deciding in advance what each chapter will contain, but it is not written in concrete and can and often does change, but it gives me a framework.

Thank you, author John Walker Pattison, for your honest and insightful answers!

About the Book

Me and My Shadow

Me and My Shadow – memoirs of a cancer survivor, is a brutally honest account of one teenager’s struggle to understand and deal with the most feared diagnosis known to society: cancer.
At 18 years of age, John Walker Pattison was thrust onto a roller coaster ride of emotional turbulence – his innocence cruelly stripped from him; his fate woven into the tapestry of life.
After years of failed chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments that ravaged his physical frame and almost destroyed his psychological stability – his parents were told that he would not survive. Yet, today, he is one of the longest surviving cancer patients in the UK.
Eight years after his unexpected recovery, the news that all parents fear, his daughter is diagnosed with terminal leukaemia. Yet like her father, she too would defy the odds and go on to become an international swimmer.
Pattison turned his life full circle and became a cancer nurse specialist at the same hospital that made his diagnosis decades earlier. He prescribes chemotherapy and cares for individuals with the same cancers experienced by both him and his daughter.


Throughout his journey, Pattison’s inspirations were the space rock legends, Hawkwind. He would get to play on stage with his heroes at the Donnington Festival in 2007. More significantly, he found solace throughout his cancer journey in the history and spirituality of the Lakota Sioux Nation. In 2018, he would spend time on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with the indigenous people of South Dakota. The same people who, unknowingly, supported him through life’s greatest challenge: cancer.

You can find Me and My Shadow here:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | 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: A Pterodactyl Named Kahoutek by Matthew Levine

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Mathew Lavine for his latest release, A Pterodactyl Named Kahoutek.

A Pterodactyl Named Kahoutek

Book: A Pterodactyl Named Kahoutek
Author: Matthew Levine
Publication date: 9th November 2022
ISBN: 9798360452553
Genres: Children’s Humorous LiteratureShort Stories collection, Children’s Humor
Page Count: 15 pages Kindle / 20 pages paper back
Publisher: Amazon/KDP


About A Pterodactyl Named Kahoutek

A short story for youth of all ages with humor adults might enjoy about a clumsy Pterodactyl that befriends a sad teenage girl on a San Francisco bus. Contain discussion questions for students at the end.

You can find A Pterodactyl Named Kahoutek here:
Amazon


About The Author

Matthew Levine

Matthew Levine has enjoyed writing essays, stories, poems, songs, and answering machine messages for the last half century. His latest musical, Love Stings, with bookwriter/lyricist Richard Castle was produced by Northern Sky Theater and debuted during the summer of 2022. He currently lives in Ecuador.

You can find author Ambrosio here:
Website | Amazon Page


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: Jane Kay

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

About The Author

Jane Kay is a South African-born writer whose early career was in teaching. She has worked as a research analyst for the management consulting industry and as a writer/editor. She has lived and worked in South Africa, Canada and Russia and currently lives in northern Portugal. Umbilical is her second novel.

You can connect with author Jane Kay here:
Author Website | Facebook | Atmosphere Press


Interview

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

How wonderful to share your space – thanks for having me!  I’m a fan of TRB.

What’s not mentioned in my bio is that books helped raise me.  What I didn’t get at home or in my life, I went looking for in the written word; in stories about others.  What you might guess from reading my bio is that I’m a bit of a nomad, both mentally and physically.  I think I always was, even in the days when South Africa was far more isolated from the world and I was a kid with significant awareness of what was out there.  Don’t we all have the capacity to become better humans when we’re exposed to what’s “other”?  I certainly think so.  Finally, it’s not all cerebral or sedentary for me – I’m a wine (and naturally food) lover and I have a physically active lifestyle.  Not only does the latter help with the writing process but my hedonistic leanings necessitate it!

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

It’s very personal, more than I initially recognised.  When I submitted my first manuscript to agents and publishers, I was told that writing about South(ern) Africa was no longer sexy.  So, in my youth and insecurity, I turned away and wrote something entirely different, but this one I felt I had to write.  It’s a love letter to a flawed country with a complicated history and at the same time a way of trying to examine the forces (and people) that shaped me.

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

It’s all connected – and it’s up to us to discover where and how.  And once we discover the connection, what are we going to do with it?

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

You’re making me choose, no!  I have a soft spot for both my main female protagonists: Ella for her defiance, irreverence and deep sense of anger and Ruth for her grace and fortitude.  Although there is one very peripheral character – Ryan Henningh, a very broken man whose full story is not in the book – who still lives in my head.

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

If you’re a South African and you have half a brain and a fraction of conscience, you probably grapple with some of the issues of our past.  There are so many secrets and we all have a few in the pasts of our families.  The idea came to me of a person receiving a message that said: I know what you did in 1989/1990/xyz.  An implied threat not intended for the recipient but one that they started exploring when they realised that it was a part of their own history.  What would happen if they tried to unravel the secret?  How would that knowledge then affect them?

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

12-18 months of writing, several years on ice (due to a bruised ego after a major publisher showed interest and then rejected the novel) and then a full year of polishing the book and going through the publishing process.

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

I wonder how many writers have specific ambitions other than the thing or things they’re working on at any moment.  It’s a fickle business, so it feels scary/unwise to have grand plans, much less voice them!  I’d say my main fuzzy goal is to keep growing and maturing as a storyteller.  The more concrete one would be to have one or two more well-received international mystery/thrillers under my belt as well as a growing audience.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Yes!  A completely whacky one that is inspired by a series of industrial, criminal and political events – all connected – in China and the US.  It’s complex and I’m currently waayyyy down the rabbit hole…

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

It’s one of the main genres I read for relaxation.  I read almost everything, but I love a complex mystery/thriller with some solid characters thrown in.  I guess that means I write what I want to read.

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

Decide?  Phew, it was more a case of taking one step, quivering… and doing it again.

I’ve written since I was a kid – little rhyming poems to start with!  My head was full of stories, but you know, life and career and all that.  The catalyst for this phase of my life came when I was working as an analyst/researcher for a consulting firm and my boyfriend (now husband) transferred to a different part of the world with the firm.  That route wasn’t available to me, so we got to the point where we had to address the future and it was kinda sorta agreed that I would follow him halfway across the world, without having a job, and pursue the dream of writing so that we could be together.  Having said that, though, the number of people in this world who have that very dream is not insignificant, and to make it happen is difficult.  The sacrifices, judgments, challenges and pressures are real.  I’m eternally grateful for the engaged, supportive life partner I have.  He is the original nomad and I’m extremely lucky.

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

Based on an idea or something that interests me, I do a great deal of research initially, then outline what shakes loose during that process, and then I put pen to paper.

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

I tend to do longhand first.  I write so fast that I can barely decipher it half the time, but it does slow me down for round two, which is when I turn to my laptop.  From there it’s a bit of both until I think the story has strong enough legs to live independently on my laptop.  I do multiple versions and endless tweaks and edits all on the laptop.

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

Impossible task – I’m going to go with authors.

  • Biggest childhood influence – Enid Blyton for the stories (while acknowledging her somewhat tarnished reputation these days)
  • A book that stayed with me as I grew up – First Poems by South African poet Antjie Krog, gifted to me by a friend at a time when I was particularly receptive to her poetry.
  • Biggest influence – Robert Goddard
  • A small selection of other favourites: JM Coetzee, Tom Wolfe, Stieg Larsson, Deon Meyer, Joyce Carol Oates, David McCullough, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Lewis, Anne Applebaum, Gillian Flynn, etc.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

For immediate distraction: Sudoku, solitaire or a crossword puzzle!  Yes, embarrassingly, I’m that person…  A quick game or puzzle manages to relax my brain enough to be able to get back to the task at hand quickly.

Generally, I don’t have writer’s block (just laziness!), but I do need thinking time, so I go for long runs to give me space to think and process.

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

The same advice I give myself: break it down, don’t be overly attached to pretty sentences, keep going.

Thank you, author Jane Kay, for your honest and insightful answers!

About the Book

Umbilical

It’s the early nineties in southern Africa. Not far from Cape Town, a small chartered plane on its way to Namibia crashes unexpectedly. On board is a nun who is hiding an undocumented baby.
Today, thirty years later, two people have very different reasons for wanting to find out what happened to the child: Ruth Masisi, a prominent African judge about to be appointed to the International Criminal Court, and Arthur Coleman, a pharmaceutical industry tycoon from America, who is finalizing the deal of a lifetime with China to establish southern Africa’s first full-scale pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Botswana. Werner and Ella, the descendants of the men who rescued the child, know nothing of the complex history that connects them, but when Ruth tracks them down and pleads for their help, they find themselves faced with an almost impossible situation. Will they be prepared—or able—to sift through their shared past and find the child in time?
In Umbilical, Jane Kay weaves a tale of an unwelcome inheritance, one that is as inescapable as it is perilous.



You can find Umbilical 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

Guest Post: Making Magic Wasn’t Easy by Dr. Kathy Martone

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Dr. Kathy Martone, author of Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery to share a guest post.

About The Author

Kathy Martone

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Before retiring, and moving from Denver, CO to Eureka Springs, AR in 2015, she was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys. The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  Dr. Martone’s work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self-published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email 



Making Magic Wasn’t Easy

It was August 1991 and the hot Arkansas sun beat down on my bare arms.  The summer dress I wore hung loosely from my shoulders, allowing my wet skin to breathe in the intense heat.  I watched as rivulets of perspiration traced a path down my arms, weaving a pattern among my girlish freckles, remnants from a childhood I’d rather not remember.  Standing only yards away from the Little Rock train station, I heard the familiar sounds of rumbling wheels, banging boxcars, screeching brakes, and lonesome shrieking whistles.

I stood in front of the Victory House, about as far north on Victory Street as one could go before falling off into the tangled spaghetti tracks of the rail yard.  Although a block away, I could still smell the odors of diesel oil and creosote hanging in the stillness of the sweltering summer air.  Looking up the three flights of narrow cement steps, I took in the sight of my Victorian masterpiece, so aptly named.  I clutched the black iron railing in my right hand and paused just long enough to remember how proud I was to be the owner of this historic landmark.  Hundreds of people’s life stories had been told and retold inside those 90-year-old walls.  Countless paths of healing had been explored, some with great success, others not so fortunate.  But most people reported an exquisite sense of peace and well-being after spending time inside the hallowed walls of this Healing Center.  Because I was the owner and practicing psychologist, people usually credited me with astounding success.  But it wasn’t easy.

I had just returned from Dr. Glenn’s office and my Radix Bodywork session. As I dragged my feet up the red brick steps to Linda and Austen’s office in their suburban Conway home, I felt an overpowering sense of dread.  I stopped for a moment on the front porch to take a deep breath as I remembered how painful my last session had been.  Taking a long look at the cascading ivy that tumbled off the porch and covered most of the lawn, I could smell the delicious fragrance of the thick white Gardenia blossoms that dotted the bushes next to the porch like so many clusters of perfume-drenched clouds, drunk on their own elixir.  I opened the front door, hearing the familiar creak of the hinges as Linda met me with open arms and a warm, inviting embrace.

Lying on a green mat in the middle of the hardwood floor, I began stretching my body into yoga-like positions to loosen my muscles, then slowly merged into the breathing exercises designed to carry me into the deepest recesses of my mind.  Soon a series of cartoon-like figures materialized inside my head.  A tall, dark man appeared first, etched in red.  Initially, he seemed to carry a red cane.  I could scarcely breathe as I watched this walking stick turn into an erect penis, which he rubbed over the naked body of a little girl.  Then the image folded up like a paper fan, transformed into a vertical black line in my field of vision.  A little girl’s voice spoke out:  “Bad boy!  You were not supposed to come out.”  Next, the chubby fingers of a child’s right hand emerged, holding a key.  She reached over and locked the black line, as if it were a door.

Months later, the dreams began – strange images of a small hysterical child, hurling herself against the fiery red, burning walls of a pit, desperately wanting out.  “We have to know,” she said.  “We have to let the secret out in order for me to be freed.  Please, please help me!”  I had no idea that the life I had been living was about to crumble like so many pieces of stale bread.

In 1992, I began working with a new therapist who encouraged me to continue with my daily, hours-long meditations.  I continued to have really vivid dreams that pointed toward childhood sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.  Previously, I had had no memories of any sexual abuse and this new information drew me to my knees and set me on a path of considerable pain and suffering. 

Prior to this time, I knew little about shamanism but I was about to be educated when I picked up a book titled “Healing and Wholeness” by John Sanford.  In this text, Sanford discusses what is known as a spirit spouse.  “Quite often the shaman acquired a tutelary spirit, a particular spiritual being who became his instructor….In shamanesses, the tutelary spirit was always masculine, and was like her celestial husband.”

It was not long before I began doing shamanic journeys where I encountered a magnificent spirit or ghost whose name was Grandfather.  He stood about 10 feet tall and had massive golden eyes like ferris wheels right in the middle of his large white face.  He wore long ivory robes with golden threads and eventually he became my spirit spouse, the impact of which would change my life forever.  We spent long hours over many years engrossed in deep telepathic debates in which he drew forth many unknown truths about my own life and that of the cosmic universe surrounding us.  I recorded our many conversations in a journal and these records became the basis for my novel, Victorian Songlight.


About The Book

Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery

The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel

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: Jordan Neben

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of A Lot of Questions (with no answers)?Jordan Neben, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

A Lot of Questions (with no answers)? is Jordan Neben’s first published book. Jordan has always possessed a life-long passion for learning, and especially reading history. This book is an attempt to try and pass some of the questions and insights that the author has arrived at after decades of learning and consideration. Jordan was born in and currently resides in Nebraska.

You can connect with author Jordan Neben here:
Author Website | Twitter


Interview

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

Well as it said in the author bio of my book, A Lot of Questions (With No Answers?), I was born and currently reside in Nebraska. I’m in my late twenties, I am part of a family of parents and four siblings, I am 6’7”, no I didn’t play basketball when I was in high school or college. Since my book is a philosophical work covering topics such as history and how it is viewed and interpreted, you can probably guess I am interested in history. I have always been fascinated by history, and lately I have devoted myself to learning more about history that was never taught or even mentioned in public school or college. For example, I have recently been reading Jason K. Stearns’ books Dancing in the Glory of Monsters and The War That Doesn’t Say Its Name about the decades of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At least in my experience living in the central US, African history and current events are never mentioned, and in my opinion that is a detriment to us all.

Another one of my passions that doesn’t relate to my book at all is aviation. I have been fascinated by flight ever since my maternal grandfather showed me his collection of aircraft books when I was a toddler, and when my paternal grandfather took me on my first flight in his old Piper J-3 cub. Someday I would like to be a pilot, though for someone of my height that will not be an easy task.

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

As is mentioned on the back cover, the book is a collection of six essays, but publishing a book was not how I originally planned to start my career as a writer. The first two essays in the book are the first ones I wrote; I initially thought I could get them published in a philosophy magazine. However, none of the magazines I approached were interested in publishing such long essays, even as a multi-part series, and to get the essays down to a suitable length would have meant getting rid or more than half the material, which I felt would be too reductive for the subject matter. After having no luck with the magazines, I had an idea. Through the course of writing the first two essays, I had inspiration for yet more essays to write. I thought to myself: “Instead of trying to get each individual essay published separately, if I can write enough of them, and put them together, I would have enough material for a full-length book.” As soon as I had this idea, I knew this is what I wanted to do. Combining the essays into a book meant that I wouldn’t have to make compromises on how long I wanted each essay to be, and I could write until I felt I had done the topic in each piece justice.

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?

As readers of my book will see, the essays cover a variety of topics ranging from religion and belief to the recent (and currently ongoing) pandemic, to how history is perceived. However, even though the book visits widely ranging subjects, there is a central theme that acts as a foundation that all the essays are built upon. Naturally, the theme also relates to the title of the book: questioning. Questions such as: Why do people believe what they believe? How often do people take the time to consider why they hold the beliefs that they do? Theoretically, could a person’s convictions be altered by changing the circumstances of their life? For example, someone is born in the United States and grows up to be a staunch American nationalist in the early 21st century, and this person has strong anti-China views, out of a fear of China’s growing economy and global influence. What if the circumstances of this person’s life were changed so that now they are born and raised in China in the same time period? Could this person become a staunch Chinese nationalist, who possesses similarly strong anti-American views, believing that the US has been a chauvinistic and hypocritical global hegemon for too long? How much are our convictions based on genetic traits, and how much are they based on factors completely outside of our control, such as the society we were born into? These are the types of questions readers will find in my book, and questioning is the central theme.

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

As I mentioned above and will discuss in more detail in another question below, the first essay of the book is the first one I wrote, which I initially intended to be a magazine article. But more specifically, why did I write this type of book, a philosophical piece with the goal of challenging the reader to think more critically about their own beliefs and humanity as a whole? That term I just used, “critical thinking,” is one that has been used a lot recently, so much so that it has to an extent lost its meaning and impact. Which, in my opinion, is a disservice to us all, because critical thinking is vitally important, especially in the age of mass information and social media. Now hopefully I am not about to sound like some out of touch old codger lamenting about what the kids are doing these days, and as readers shall see I believe that humanity has changed little over time and that history reveals patterns of human behavior that are cyclical in nature. With that being said, the digital age and social media do represent a sea change in technology. It is easier and easier for politicians, businesses, celebrities, and ordinary people to tell others what to think, what to buy, what to love or hate, what to think about themselves, what to think about their nation and the world, and so much more. I wrote my book in the hope that it will inspire the reader to examine their own views and those of others more closely, and to believe something not because they were told to by someone else, but because they used their own critical thinking.

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

All six essays put together took about a year to write. I did not write the entire book from beginning to end all right away, however. After I finished writing the first two essays, I spent some time trying to get them published, thinking I would write more essays after the first two had already been released. When that fell through and I had the idea to combine all the essays into a book, that is when I began to write non-stop until the manuscript was complete.

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

Hopefully 5 years from now I will have published one more book and possibly be working on a third. I do have several ideas for books covering a variety of topics. These new book ideas will more than likely require more time and much more research to complete. A Lot of Questions is mostly a philosophical work, and any historical events mentioned in the text are not meant to inform the reader on the events. Rather, they are used as a way to create discussion. A scholarly historical text recounts the events and lists the author’s sources, while A Lot of Questions looks at the event and asks, “What can this tell us?” The books I plan to write in the future, however, will be carefully researched and cited. I have never written a book of this type before, so it will likely take time to learn how to write it and cite my sources correctly.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I do have a topic for my next book, and I have begun the preliminary research to test the waters of the subject to see what information is out there and what other authors have already written about. That is all I will say about my next book at this time, since it still remains a kernel of an idea and it will likely be years from now until I have a book that is ready for publishing.

Do you also dabble in fiction?

As readers of A Lot of Questions will see, in each essay of the book I use what I call “hypothetical case studies,” as a tool to help the reader understand the topic of each essay. Through the course of writing the first essay I realized that I had several pages of nothing but abstract questions, which could be difficult for a reader to intellectually digest, and frankly is not the most entertaining reading. That is when I had the idea for the “case studies.” These case studies are short stories where I take the questions and ideas that have been postulated in the essay and put them into the context of the stories. Hopefully, readers will find these stories entertaining and engaging. More importantly, as readers consider or discuss these hypothetical case studies, they will be considering the questions raised in the essays. My hope is that these fictional stories (often based on an amalgamation of real events) will show the reader how abstract questions can have ramifications on the real world.

I wanted to highlight that aspect of A Lot of Questions here, because I think it is an important component of the book’s character. However, to return to the spirit of the question above, have I written any fiction, or do I plan to do so in the future? As of right now, no I have not written any fiction, and I do not plan to in the future. That does not mean that I do not thoroughly enjoy fiction and do not want to write a large and successful fictional book. To be honest, at this point I do not think I have what it takes to write a fictional novel. I have had a few ideas for books, but I never get further than the initial idea. I imagine that if I took that initial idea I would get buried or lost trying to build a fleshed out fictional universe, create believable characters, and write a compelling story all at the same time. If I do write any fiction in the future, I will probably start small, with much more manageable short stories, and build from there. 

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

For me there wasn’t really an exact point where I said to myself “Yes I shall become a writer.” And this may be a bit of imposter syndrome talking but even after publishing a book sometimes I have to remind myself that I am a writer. However, as I have mentioned before, the first essay in the book was the first one I wrote, and there was an initial moment of inspiration that started me on the path to writing my book. By nature, I am an introspective person, and I enjoy thinking about the events or ideas that I have heard in podcasts or from books. One day at work, I was thinking about the subject of faith and organized religion when I thought to myself, “I should write some of these ideas down so that I can remember them.” I didn’t realize it at the time but those little notes I quickly jotted down on a sticky note would eventually grow into an essay eighteen thousand words long. Once I started writing and thinking about the subject of the essay more and more it was relatively easy to get new ideas on how to expand and make the essay large enough that no magazine wanted to publish it.  

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

As I said in the question above, I started the first essay of my book by jotting down a few ideas on a sticky note so I wouldn’t forget them. That is actually how a lot of the book was written. When I couldn’t sit down to write, if I was busy at work or at home doing chores, I was still thinking about what I wanted to write continually. Whenever I thought of a sentence I wanted to write or a concept I wanted to discuss, I would quickly write it down on a sticky note or a small composition notebook I had so I could remember it. These notes would probably make little sense to anyone but me, not the least because of my terrible handwriting. I usually only wrote enough so that it would act as a placeholder for my brain, so when I read the note again, I could say “That’s what I was thinking about.” Once I had time to sit down with my laptop to write, I would go to my essay outlines and transcribe my hastily written notes in greater detail. When I was in high school and college, I usually sneered at the idea of creating an outline for a paper, mostly because I couldn’t stand the extra work. Only once I started writing a book did I realize how useful they actually were. The outlines were crucial to my writing process, not only for forming a basic structure for the essay, but also as a tool to take all the random notes I made and put them all together. But the outlines were not static and immovable; as I wrote each essay the outline would change, too. Notes and ideas would shift around as I wrote, and I would make additions or deletions as the essay took shape.

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

Currently I work a 9-5 job that I am not passionate about; it just pays the bills. I hope to someday become a full-time author, but I would have to write something successful enough to give me that financial freedom. I’m hoping the promotional work I’m doing for A Lot of Questions will help me realize that 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.)

No doubt the two biggest inspirations for me as I wrote my book were authors and podcast hosts, and their work I cited in the “Suggested Reading and Listening” section of A Lot of Questions. They are Dan Carlin, host of Hardcore History and author of The End is Always Near, and Mike Duncan, host of The History of Rome and Revolutions and author of The Storm Before the Storm and Hero of Two Worlds. My book is very similar in style to Dan Carlin’s book, and I hope that readers of The End is Always Near will enjoy my book as well. Carlin took many of the themes and questions he had been developing in his podcast and put them into a book that his listeners had been demanding for some time. The End is Always Near is a fun and thought-provoking read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. In the Revolutions podcast, Mike Duncan walks listeners through some of the most complex and tumultuous periods in human history, while still delivering a coherent and cohesive narrative that not only provides context for each revolution, but also gives concise and informative biographies of the major players in each revolution. Listeners of Revolutions will recognize many similar themes as they read several of the hypothetical case studies in A Lot of Questions.   

I also wanted to mention here that my two brothers helped me a great deal as I wrote my book. We often had discussions as I was writing the book that helped me develop my thoughts more fully, and they read through the early drafts of the essays which helped reduce the number of errors before it was sent to the publisher.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I never actually planned anything that helped me deal with writer’s block. My schedule for writing, however, accidentally helped whenever I did encounter it. Usually, I tried to devote two to three hours a day to write. Since I was working full-time for the entire book writing process, that two to three hours was always broken into smaller chunks as my free time allowed. Every once in a while, as I was writing, I would get a burst of inspiration and would be able to write several pages in a short period of time, and I would be upset that I didn’t have more time to write. But those bursts of inspiration were rare. More often than not writing was a slower process, and there were times where I would get completely stuck and could waste an hour writing a single short paragraph that I was never satisfied with. It was at those moments I was glad that I didn’t have a lot of time to write. Going to work or running errands allowed me to clear my head and ease my frustration, so that when I returned to writing later I could do so with a better frame of mind. If I ever do become a full-time writer, I will have to develop a ritual to help with writer’s block. For me it would probably involve going outside. I find nature rejuvenating, so a walk or a bike ride would probably serve the same purpose of helping me feel more relaxed and ready to write again.

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

Since my book is a philosophical examination of different topics, it didn’t require a lot of in-depth research, so I doubt I could offer a lot of practical advice on how to do research and citations. In fact, I am the one who could use advice in that department. The advice I would give any aspiring author might sound cheap or obvious, but I do think it is essential: read as much as you can. I have always had an interest in learning, and I spent years with the goal of reading several new books every month just for the sake of reading. There is no way I could have ever written my own book had I not spent those years learning and observing how other authors wrote their books. I know everyone says it, but reading is important if you want to be a better writer. It is the same as if you wanted to become good at a sport or learn to play a musical instrument proficiently: there is no magical shortcut to becoming an author; it just takes time and practice.

Thank you, author Jordan Neben, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

A Lot of Questions (with no answers)?

How often do people take the time to question the basic assumptions that underlie their beliefs and worldview? How strong can a person’s convictions be if they cannot allow room for doubt in their minds? Is a great deal of conflict generated by people’s refusal to question what they believe? Can a person’s beliefs be molded in a specific direction?
These are the types of questions the reader will encounter in A Lot of Questions (with no answers)? In a series of six essays (essays with whimsical titles such as “Make Sure Your Death is Sudden and Violent”), we will discuss topics ranging from religion, to history, to the recent pandemic.
The goal of this book is to encourage the reader to consider not only their own beliefs, but also humanity as a whole. Can humanity overcome its flaws? Are we doomed to repeat history in a cyclical pattern? Is being able to examine our flaws and shortcomings the first step to bettering ourselves (on an individual and collective level)?


This sounds like a lot to discuss in the course of a short book. Indeed, it is, and by no means is this essay collection definitive, but hopefully it is the first step to the reader becoming more discerning.


You can find A Lot of Questions (with no answers)? 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

Character Interview: Grandfather From Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery, Dr. Kathy Martone

Today, we are featuring Grandfather, one fo the main characters from Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery by Dr. Kathy Martone, for our Character Interview feature.

About The Author

Kathy Martone

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Before retiring, and moving from Denver, CO to Eureka Springs, AR in 2015, she was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys. The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  Dr. Martone’s work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self-published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

You can find author Kathy here:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email
 


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.

Hello and thank you for having me.  My name is Grandfather and I am proud to represent the author who wrote about me in her latest novel titled Victorian Songlight.  I am not a human – at least not in my current incarnation.  But of course, you would know that, from reading Kathy’s book :>) I live in the between realms, suspended between spirit and matter, and I am infused with golden light.

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

Gosh, it’s hard for me to pin down a specific age for you.  I can tell you, though, that my first human birth occurred in the year 15o1.  What do I do for a living?  Well, mostly I hang out around humans who are seeking spiritual enlightenment, offering support and insight.  Very gratifying work, indeed!

How you like to spend your free time? 

Suspended as I am between two different worlds, time is not the same for me as it is for you humans who live on only one plane of existence.  For example, there is no difference for me between “free” time and otherwise occupied productive time.  I just sort of float along in space and allow myself to be pulled in whatever direction the spirit, so to speak, moves me.  (Ha Ha, my little joke :>)

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.)  

Well, ahem, let me see… (fingers tapping my forehead)

Having lived for over 500 years, I have had lots of different beliefs but perhaps it would be easiest if I focused on my current principles, morals, and motivations.  Primarily, I believe in the principles of love, kindness and compassion, for oneself as well as for all living beings.  I have been a Buddhist practitioner for most of my lifetimes and I have strong moral convictions about the sanctity of all life and the importance of living in a constant state of heightened awareness.  I am committed to the alleviation of all suffering.

Tell us something about your family and childhood. 

In all but one of my lifetimes, I was fortunate enough to have very loving parents who took very good care of me.  However, in the one instance where this was not the case, I was born into a family of wealth and power.  My parents were far more concerned with their greed for money and influence than they were with me.  Consequently, they assigned my care to their many attendants who mostly ignored me and abused me.  This was the lifetime where I began my study of compassion.

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

From the very beginning of my lives, I have dreamed of becoming an enlightened Master who would be blessed with humans to love and to nourish.  It has been my utmost privilege to have known many talented and honorable humans, with Kate being one of them.  It truly is a great honor to share ancient teachings with human beings and to watch them flourish as a result.  So basically, I guess you could say that I have always aspired to be a great teacher.  If Kate is any indication, I would have to say that my dreams have been a huge success.

What is your biggest fear in life?

Ah ha!  I knew you were going to ask me about fear.  Why is it that humans often struggle with that emotion?  I can tell you that it is largely because your bodies are sculpted out of matter which has a very dense vibration which translates into the emotion of fear.  But I digress.  For one such as me, fear is what you humans like to call an oxymoron. It just doesn’t exist in the ghostly realms.

How would you describe your life in one sentence? 

I was born and I died, both on the same day at the same time in the same womb of Divine Nurturance.

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

In one of my early lives, I accidentally stepped on a caterpillar and I heard the poor creature screech in pain.  This experience stayed with me for many moons, keeping me awake at night.

Did it change you for the better or the worse?  

Definitely for the better.  It taught me that all living beings experience pain and that I should strive to alleviate suffering for all sentient beings.  This experience broadened my understanding of compassion and its importance for the evolution of consciousness.

What are your plans for the future?

Once again, spirits don’t experience time in a linear fashion.  So I don’t think about “plans” like you do.  The past, present, and future are all the same to me.  There is no difference.  For example, I am seated here visiting with you and I am also a little boy in the year 1504, while at the same time I am accompanying Kate as she reincarnates into her next life.  I guess you could say that any plans I might have would be to continue my many journeys through time and space.


Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery

The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel


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: Dr. Kathy Martone

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery, Dr. Kathy Martone, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Before retiring, and moving from Denver, CO to Eureka Springs, AR in 2015, she was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys. The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  Dr. Martone’s work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self-published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

You can find author Kathy here:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email


Interview

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

Like Kate, the protagonist in my book, I am currently living in a small Victorian village in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.  I first visited Eureka Springs when I was 12 years old and immediately fell in love with the magic and the mystery of this place.  I determined that one day I would make my home in this historic, mystical town.  I just didn’t realize it would take me another 57 years to make it happen!

Eureka is an artist colony brimming with lots of creative people, many of whom find inspiration in the turn of the century buildings that whisper tales of magic and wonder, not to mention ancient history as well. People have lived here from the late Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago, to the present time. 

When I was younger, I never saw myself as an artist or a writer but over the years my dreams kept prompting me to pursue creative endeavors and now I am nestled in the perfect place to follow my dreams!

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

Around 2007, I had a psychic reading in which I was told that I would publish a book roughly 12 years hence.  The psychic suggested that I “seed” the book by writing a chapter on my computer.  So I promptly went home and wrote the chapter and then completely forgot about it. 

Some 12½ years later, I happened to spot the short text on my desktop and opened it up.  I was so surprised and pleased at what I had written that I continued to embellish the story until the novel was completed several months later.

When I went searching for a publisher, I ultimately discovered a company whose name is “Dreaming Big Publications” and their logo is the image of an eye. During my career as a psychologist, my specialty was dream interpretation and my logo just happened to be the image of an eyeball!  That just seemed too much of a coincidence so I contacted them and they agreed to publish my book.  Like Kate, the synchronicities were flying fast and furious around the publication of my manuscript.

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

I think the most important message would be to know that we are all capable of re-imagining ourselves, of stepping into lives that are much bigger and more profound than we could ever imagine, that magic is real.  No matter what our human failings or humble beginnings, we are all spirit beings at our core and thus, we all carry within ourselves Divine Light.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I think I would have to say that Kate is my favorite character.  She is extremely talented but she also struggles with the same human issues that plague all of us at one time or another.  I really like the way her humanity actually contributes to her talents as an artist and her gift for mystical revelations.

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

Victorian Songlight is based on a true story – my story.  Many years ago, I was training to be a shamanic practitioner and during many of my shamanic journeys, a ghost by the name of Grandfather often showed up.  Kate’s love affair with her Grandfather is loosely based on my own relationship with a disembodied spirit who goes by the same name.  It was a relationship that changed my entire life – just as it changed Kate’s life in the book.

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

Once I rediscovered the “seedling” on my computer, it took me about 8 months to finish the story.  However, my publisher suggested a number of additions and corrections, which took me several more months to complete.  So, all in all, it took me a little over a year to complete the process of writing the book.

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

It’s hard to say what I envision for my future as I am in my early 70’s and I don’t have as much energy as I used to. However, I would like to write at least one more fantasy novel and I also  want to continue creating art as long as I can.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

About the time I published Victorian Songlight, I began another fantasy novel but had to put it down in order to complete the publication process.  And when the pandemic hit, I lost most of my motivation and interest in finishing it.  However, just lately I have picked it up again and I’m looking forward to re-engaging with the process of writing.

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

Having a relationship with a spirit or ghost just automatically sets the stage for fantasy.  Beyond that, I have always enjoyed an active imagination and have loved pushing the boundaries of what we call reality.  I have studied shamanism extensively as well, and this spiritual practice easily lends itself to visionary fiction. However, I do enjoy writing in other genres as well and have published a number of nonfiction essays and short stories.

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

I am a Jungian psychologist, mostly retired.  As such, my specialties have included dream interpretation, shamanic journeys, and women’s spirituality.  I never saw myself as an author and only accidentally found my way into writing.  (However, when I was in grammar school, I used to love writing stories especially ones with fantastical themes.)  Once I picked up my author’s pen again, so to speak, I felt compelled to continue and Victorian Songlight was born.  I feel lucky that I didn’t have to make any sacrifices in order to follow my passions, as my career gave me lots of flexibility with my time.  And now that I am semi-retired, I continue to have that same flexibility.

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

I don’t really have a ritual per se.  I just sit quietly and let the images and thoughts in my mind coalesce and then I start writing down what I see and hear, even if it doesn’t make any sense.  (I think all the years of recording my dreams has helped me with this, as dreams often don’t make any sense at first and it is only after having them interpreted does the story become clear.)  So I have learned to let the jumbled thoughts and pictures in my brain marinate until I have time to return and edit the material.

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

Computer always!

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

Only 5?????  Gosh, I have so many favorites! Okay I’ll give it a try.

Favorite Books:

  1. The Walking People by Paula Underwood
  2. Thou Shalt Not Be Aware by Alice Miller
  3. Daughter of Fire by Irina Tweedie
  4. Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  5. Return of the Bird Tribes by Ken Carey

Favorite Authors:

  1. Marion Woodman
  2. Augusta Trobaugh
  3. John Grisham
  4. Leo Tolstoy
  5. Alice Howell

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I guess I’m lucky as I haven’t experienced any significant writer’s block yet – probably because I only sit down to write when I already have lots of ideas and images jotted down on scrap paper.  If I get stuck, I just leave my computer and go do something else.  Usually when I return, I have come up with new ideas, etc.  And once I start writing, things usually just start to flow – its really magical for me.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I think I would tell aspiring authors that the most important thing is to enjoy what you do.  So if you enjoy writing, you should write, regardless of whether you publish anything.  I would also say that publishing should be an act of joy, not a task. 

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

About the Book

Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery

The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.


You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel

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: Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery by Dr. Kathy Martone

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Kathy Martone who’ll be sharing an excerpt from her latest release Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery.

About the Book

Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery

The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel

Excerpt

Chapter 1

It is a cool winter evening in mid-January, and the moon is full, casting her alabaster veil over the tiny house nestled among the forest of trees deep within the Ozark Mountains of northwestern Arkansas. The three-room cabin is home to Hank and Jane, a newly married couple in their twenties. Where Hank is dark haired, rail thin, and movie-star handsome, his wife is an auburn-haired beauty with big, green eyes. Jane is nine months pregnant with their first child and frequently troubled with the anxiety of a first-time mom.

“O-o-oh I wish this baby would get on with it!” Jane complains to her husband, who is engrossed in the newspaper he holds in front of his face. “Honey, would you hand me my knitting needles?” she asks as she awkwardly deposits her very large bottom into the antique rocking chair. Silently Hank tosses her the pointed plastic tools, letting the ball of yarn unravel across the room behind them. “Ha-a-ank! Can’t you please just hand me the yarn too? I can’t exactly do
much without it, ya know.”

Hank begrudgingly stands up and slaps the newspaper onto the yellow-and-red plaid couch while bending over to retrieve the pesky fabric sphere. Handing Jane the desired object, he ambles over to the record player, a wedding present from his parents, and moves the needle up and over the black plastic disk already in place. As he gently drops the tip of the pin onto the shiny grooves, the silky melody of Frank Sinatra’s voice fills the room with its soothing refrain:

I look at you and suddenly
Something in your eyes I see
Soon begins bewitching me
It’s that old devil moon
That you stole from the skies
It’s that old devil moon in your eyes

Blinds me with love
Blinds me with love

Closing his eyes as he sways to the music, Hank doesn’t notice his wife’s grimace of pain and her back-arching exit from the chair. “Hank!” she yells. “I think this is it! Better call Jessie and get me a towel. I think my water just broke.”

Instantly Hank snaps to attention, his eyes wide open with concern. “Of course, my darling. Of course. Let’s get you into the bedroom first.”

One hour later, Jane is lying drenched in sweat in their double bed, waiting for the midwife to arrive. Tearfully she clenches Hank’s right hand in a viselike grip, causing him to wince in pain. “Honey, stop! You’re hurting me,” he says as he gets up to answer the knock at the front door. “Hope this is Jessie,” he mumbles. “Don’t think I can deal with this much longer.”

Hank hurries into the living room and jerks open the door, relieved to see Jessie standing there with her thirteen-year-old daughter, Winnie. “Black as the Ace of Spades, the both of them,” he mumbles under his breath.

“Sorry, Mistah. What was dat you jus said?” Jessie asks. “I couldna unnerstan a word dat you jes spoke.”

“Never you mind, Jessie. Just please get into that bedroom and take care of Jane, will ya?”

Jessie nods her head and bobbles her round, short body across the living room, pulling her daughter along with her. “Jessie, is that you?” Jane calls from the bowels of the birthing room.

“Yes ma’am,” Jessie replies. “’Tis Jessie fer sure come to hep you, Miss Jane.” Jessie enters the small room and looks around before moving to the bed and taking Jane’s hand in hers. “It’s goin’ to be okay, Missie,” she whispers.

Minutes later, Jane’s high-pitched screech causes Hank to stop dead in his tracks just outside the bedroom door. “Holy shit,” Hank snorts. “This is more than I bargained for.” Taking a deep breath, he cracks open the door and cautiously peeks inside the semi-dark room. Jessie has her back to him as she peers between his wife’s spreadopen legs on the bed. “Everything okay?” Hank whispers.

Jessie turns around slowly and escorts him out of the room, ordering him to boil some water. Once she thinks he is out of sight, she shakes her head and makes the sign of the cross over her forehead. “Poor thang,” she mutters to herself. “This ain’t goin’ to be no easy birth, no way.” Looking out the window at the moon scudded with bluish-colored dark clouds, she brings her hand to her mouth. “Oh my, my!” she utters between her fingers. “We in fer a long night, sure ‘nuf!”

Lying peacefully in their bed the next morning, Hank and Jane can’t stop smiling at their baby daughter sound asleep between them. “She’s such a pretty thing, Hank, isn’t she?” Jane gushes to her husband. Hank nods in silent, blissful agreement. “But, sweetheart, did you notice this ugly, red birthmark on the back of her neck?”

Hank gently turns the infant over onto his arm and there he sees it—a dark red mark in the shape of a crescent moon, of all things. “What the hell?” Hank mouths silently to his wife.

A knock at the front door startles them both, and Hank places his precious child back in her mother’s arms to go see who could be bothering them so early in the day. Hank’s scowl turns to a bright smile when he sees Jessie standing before him. “Oh, goodness, Jessie! I almost forgot about you. Come on in and have a seat. Jane’s resting with the baby and besides, I want to have a chat with you, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure ‘nuf, Hank,” Jessie replies as she sits in the rocking chair. “What name did you give dat little one?” she asks as she sways back and forth.

“Kate,” Hank responds. “We named her Kate, after my mother. She looks like a Kate, don’t you think?”

Jessie smiles and nods her head, clearly enjoying the soothing motion of the rocker. “Kate’s a might purty name, sure ‘nuf, Mistah Hank.”

“Oh, Jessie. I almost forgot. Here’s your money—well earned, I must say!” Hank hands her a wad of dollar bills. “Now then, about our chat.”

Jessie comes to a halting stop in the rocker and takes the payment, placing the money in the front pocket of her red calico dress. Then placing both hands on her knees and staring right at Jane’s husband, she says, “Yessir. What you wanna talk ‘bout?”

Hank clears his throat and stammers. “Well, uh, gosh, Jessie, um, I’m not sure how to bring this up. But well, geesh, I was watching how you reacted to that moon outside the bedroom window last night. Something upset you, didn’t it?” Coughing into his fist, Hank continues. “And on top of that, why Jane and I saw that awful red birthmark on the back of our baby’s neck. We want to know what you make of that too!”

For several long minutes, Jessie sits stone quiet in the chair just staring at Hank. Finally she stands up, never taking her eyes off his, folds her arms, and says, “Thought you didn’t b’lieve in my dealins in dat dere magic, Mistah Hank. I ‘member you tellin’ me lossa times never to bring any o’ dat nonsense into yore house, ‘member? You called it nonsense, ‘member?”

“Yes. Yes, I remember, Jessie,” Hank says, waving his right hand in a gesture of dismissal. “You know me. I’m always spouting off saying things I don’t really mean. Now can we please talk? I really am interested in what you have to say, okay? Please, Jessie. This is my daughter we’re talking about here!”

“Okay, Mistah Hank, if you be sure den.” Jessie speaks slowly, holding her breath as she resumes her seat in the rocking chair and begins to swing back and forth, back and forth, her eyes closed and her hands placed solemnly on her knees. After what seems like an eternity to Hank, she exhales loudly, opens her eyes, and says, “Dat chile o’ yorn, Mistah Hank, is mighty gifted, being she was born on da night o’ da Devil Moon. Dat birthmark, as you call it, is da mark of dat light in da night sky. She goin’ to be quite a magician but her life also goin’ to be harder dan most. Quite distressin’, actually, poor thang.” Jessie looks down at her hands and shakes her head slowly.

“Devil moons, they give an’ they take, Mistah Hank,” she continues. “Tragic.” Jessie’s expression turns even more decidedly downcast. “Mos’ likely she gonna feel like she don’t b’long nowhere. Shapeshifter she be, scarin’ folks as Miss Kate won’t never appear same ways twice.” Taking a deep breath, she finishes, “Now da givin’ part of da lady in da night sky. Da givin’ part is a spirit man, Mistah Hank. A spirit man who goin’ to love Miss Kate like none udder. A spirit man wit’ big ole yeller eyes.”

Standing up and wiping her hands on the front of her dress, the black-skinned sorceress speaks her final words. “And lastly, Mistah Hank, yor preshus chile, she gonna ‘member lots o’ da happenins in her early livin’, mark my words. She even gonna ‘member this here night wit’ dat moon. Oh, she won’t know dat what she ‘members but she’ll ‘member jus da same. Good day to ya and thanks fer the cash,” she says, patting her front dress pocket. “You take good care now, ya hear? You and da missus, you take good care.” And Jessie the shamaness turns on her heel and exits the house, leaving Hank feeling dumbfounded.

“Aw, shit—what a bunch of nonsense!” Hank exclaims quietly.


About The Author

Dr. Kathy Martone

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Before retiring, and moving from Denver, CO to Eureka Springs, AR in 2015, she was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys. The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  Dr. Martone’s work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self-published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

You can find author Kathy here:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email

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: Dr. Kathy Martone

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Kathy Martone on The Reading Bud for her upcoming book Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery.

About The Author

Dr. Kathy Martone

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.  She and her husband also manage two small BnB’s in their charming turn of the century village.

Before retiring in 2015, Dr. Martone was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys.  Prior to this, she was the director of a small mental health clinic and then she served as company psychologist for Southwestern Bell Telephone.  She taught classes at Colorado Free University, The Jungian Ministries International, Naropa University, and Iliff School of Theology.  For the past 35 years she has studied with Richmond K. Greene, past chair of the New York Jungian Institute. 

The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  As a Jungian psychologist and shamanic practitioner, energy and depth of meaning are very important to her.  So frequently she will accent the tapestries with symbolic objects, such as old pieces of jewelry, the lining from a purse that belonged to her grandmother, or a piece of ribbon she wore as a little girl.  Layering these materials into a meaningful image evokes for her the multi-layered realms of dreams, myth and metaphor.  Like the magical nets of ancient shamans, these colorful tapestries ensnare the features of her dream spirits as they stare back at her from their watery dimensions.  Her work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

In 2006 Dr. Martone self published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  The book chronicles the author’s relentless quest for self understanding and provides a blueprint for other seekers who are looking for spiritual enlightenment while grappling with painful life experiences.  Written in easy to understand language, the book explains how various spiritual and psychological practices were brought together in an alchemical blend to produce a potion of timeless healing.  Weaving its way through such healing practices as psychotherapy, shamanism, Buddhism, Jungian thought and dream work, the reader is given a clear map for psychological and spiritual change.

Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

You can connect with author Martone here:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email


About the Book

Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery


The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel


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: Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery by Dr. Kathy Martone

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Kathy Martone for her latest release Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery.

Victorian Songlight

Book: Victorian Songlight: The Birthings Of Magic & Mystery
Author: Dr. Kathy Martone
Publication Date: 16th October 2019
Page Count: 210
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Magical Realism
Publisher: Dreaming Big Publications


About Victorian Songlight

The birth of a magical child at the time of the Devil Moon sets the stage for heartache and misery, magic and supernatural love. Beset by unrelenting obstacles and bestowed with remarkable psychic gifts, Kate is often accompanied by fantastical black ravens who carry her through time and space. A well known legend in the Ozark Mountain countryside where Kate lives, Grandfather is a ghost with large golden eyes who frequently rides on the back of Pegasus, another Ozarkian legend. Victorian Songlight is a tale of redemption and renewal, death and rebirth, triumph over darkness. But most importantly, it is a love story. Alone and utterly forsaken, adrift on treacherous waters, Kate meets Grandfather for the second time in her life and they become lovers fulfilling a prophecy at the moment of her birth.

You can find Victorian Songlight here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Nobel


About The Author

Dr. Kathy Martone

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Before retiring, and moving from Denver, CO to Eureka Springs, AR in 2015, she was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys. The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  Dr. Martone’s work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self-published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  Essays and short stories written by Dr. Martone have been published in eMerge, an online magazine published by The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow.  In addition, some of her writings have also appeared in two anthologies titled Dairy Hollow Echo and Not Dead Yet 2.

You can find author Kathy here:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Email


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: Tim Aherns

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of The Grand Game (Dark Creatures #2), Tim Aherns, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Tim Ahrens has been writing for more than forty years, and he is especially passionate about character creation. He has worked on a number of short stories and novels and has frequently collaborated with other writers. Dark Creatures: The Grand Game is his third book; his first was The Salvation of Tanlegalle with a foreword by Piers Anthony, followed by Dark Creatures: A Simple Game. Find more at www.thedarkcreatures.com.

You can connect with author Tim Aherns here:
Author Website


Interview

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

Hello, my name is Tim Ahrens and I have been writing or involved with writing since I turned 14 years old. I got started writing short stories and novels mainly because of one of my best friends. His name was Tim Atkinson. He got me hooked on a little-known game at the time called Dungeons & Dragons. As it turned out I would end up game mastering our group more than playing. In fact, the players loved the games I concocted so much that many of them, including Tim, pushed me to start writing my ideas down for future stories. This is how I started down the long path of a writer. I soon began incorporating my fantasy stories with my other passion: horror. I’d been in love with horror since I was ten. I used to sit with my father every Friday and Saturday night and watch horror movies with him. It was one of the tings that brought me closer to him. He started me off with the classic Universal monster movies. Then TV series like Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and One Step Beyond. To this day I still feel a pang of sadness for the Frankenstein monster, or Lawrence Talbot’s curse to become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the moon is full and bright.

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

The Dark Creatures series is a multi-level story. The first level is that of the ancient forgotten Gods that have been cast out of our reality and into a realm where they are forced to wait until the end of creation. In order to alleviate the boredom of eternal life they have been granted the power to play a Game they have dubbed Dark Creatures. In this game two Gods face off against one another in a god versus evil scenario. They are allowed to chose two mortals who have little or no connection with current history and use them as pawns. While they play an amphitheater full of Gods waiting their turn to play cheer, boo or bet on the outcome.

The second level deals with the human pawns chosen for the game. William J. Donovan and Doug Pimpkin have no idea that the events that are unfolding around them will alter their world forever.

The third level is that of the actual living world known to its inhabitants as the world of Dark Creatures. This is a dark world where every nightmare or horrifying creature you can ever dream up lives and roams. Humans also exist in this dark world, but they are in the minority. Into this world William and Doug create their own pawns, bringing to life their own avatars so that an even more complex game can be brought to life for all to enjoy. Dark Creatures: A Simple Game and Dark Creatures: The Grand Game follow these motley entities as they try to stop what was supposed to be a simple game of pawn against pawn from spiraling out of control and threating the very existence of the universe itself.    

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

Stop every once in a while and look up from your busy lives at the world around you. You never know what or who may be watching you as you watch them.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I love all of the characters in my books. All of them have a life and a flavor all their own. But if pressed for an answer I would have to say Llica Travilan. Why? Well, I get to write songs for her to sing. She’s a quick-tempered, good-hearted bard who loves Augury with all of her heart. She faces life with an adventurous gusto yet is never too busy to stop and play with a child or teach a dark-hearted individual manners. She’s just fun to write.

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

Believe it or not, I got the motivation to write the Dark Creatures Series from an anime I was watching at the time called Berserk. It’s about a swordsman who wanders a very dark world in search of his mortal enemy. After listening to the music along with the anime I suddenly began to see my story forming in my mind.  

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

It took about a year to write The Grand Game. I had to keep starting and stopping because I have a full-time job that keeps the roof over my head lol.

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

I’d love to say that I’d be a full-time writer with a fan base and enough of a following that I can do this full-time. But until that happens I will continue to create the world of Dark Creatures and hold down my full-time job.  

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Yes, Book Three in the series, called Dark Creatures: Worlds Without End. I hope to have it done sometime near the end of 2023.

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

I love the fusion of horror and fantasy, or dark fantasy, as it’s called. I can and have written short stories in sci-fi and modern settings, as well as Westerns and Gothic settings. Dark Creatures just happened to be set in a dark fantasy setting.

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

As I said above, I started writing when I was about fourteen. And I have to say, yes, it’s been easy to follow this passion because I can move it at my own pace. As far as sacrifices go, I really didn’t have to make many. I loved to dream and when I wrote I dreamed in 3D. Beside friends pushing me into spending the money to get published as well as giving me their endless goodwill when I flooded them with questions, like Is this any good? What do you think? Do you like this?

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

I sit down and get my bearing after I return home from work for about half an hour. Then I pour myself a cup of coffee, turn on my computer, and put on the soundtrack music that is most appropriate to the scene I am working on. Then I just begin to write, and the world opens up before me in my mind. Sometimes I only write for an hour. Sometimes for half the night. It all depends on how that world flows out before me.

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

I use a computer. Without Word my poor editor might pull their hair out lol.

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

Steven King’s Firestarter. Pers Anthony’s The Blue Adept. Elaine Cunningham’s Daughter of the Drow. Robert A. Heinlein’s Friday. And Brian Stableford’s The Werewolves of London.  

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I take long walks. Try to clear my head. Listen to music. Take a nap 🙂

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Never give up. All you need is time to hone your craft. Also, never throw anything away!! You never know when you might need that page!

Thank you, author Tim Aherns, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Grand Game

A Grand Game of Dark Creatures has Begun!
Three new Gods join the Janus’s in the madness that has become a Grand Game of Dark Creatures. Circe, Goddess of magic, Apophis, God of chaos, and I Am, Eder God of nightmares, add their human pawns to the game table that has become Millten, Wisconsin. 
In turn two more souls join William J. Donovan and Doug Pimpkin, the Gods’ human pawns, as all are forced to craft slaves of their own with in the very fabric of yet another world. A world of real fantasy and nightmares. The true world of Dark Creatures. 
What role will Augury Pars and Llica Travilan play? What other horrors may they encounter as they strive to survive as they do the bidding of their human masters? Does the town of Millten, it’s people, as well as the whole of creation, still rest on in their hands? Or is there another force at work that may tip the balance of power and doom all the worlds to darkness?


Come read, enjoy, participate in the greatest of all role playing games! Welcome to Dark Creatures: The Grand Game!

You can find The Grand Game 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

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

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

A Reservoir Man

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


About A Reservoir Man

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

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

-R.C. Gibson, Indiestoday.

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

-Kalyan Panja, Bookmarkks.

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


About The Author

L.J. Ambrosio

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

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


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

Author Interview: Reed Logan Westgate

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

About The Author

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

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


Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you working on any other stories presently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

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

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

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

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

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

About the Book

The Infernal Games

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


You can find The Infernal Games here:
Goodreads | Amazon

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

Guest Post: Cocktail Parties by Nick Gray

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

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

About The Author

Nick Gray

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

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tiktok



Cocktail Parties by Nick Gray

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

How? And can anyone do this?

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

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

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

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

Why parties?

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

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

About the book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party

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

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

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

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

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


About The Book

About the book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party

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

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

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

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

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Book Website | Amazon | Read more


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

Author Interview: Phillip Riley

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

About The Author

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

You can connect with author Riley here:
Author Website


Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

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

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

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

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

I think this book began about four years ago.

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

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

Are you working on any other stories presently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

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

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Thank you, author Riley, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Sleeping With Cancer

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


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

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

Author Interview: Nick A. Jameson

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

About The Author

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

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

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


Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

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

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Thank you, author Jameson, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Rosebud: A Poetry Collection

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


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

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

Author Interview: N. Ford

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

About The Author

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

You can connect with author Ford here:
Author Website


Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you working on any other stories presently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

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

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Thank you, author Ford, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Refuge

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


You can find The Refuge here:
Goodreads | Amazon

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

Author Interview: Michelle Bennington 

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

About The Author

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

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


Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you working on any other stories presently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Computer, definitely.

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

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

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

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

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

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

Thank you, author Michelle, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Devil’s Kiss

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


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

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

Author Interview: Richard Scharine

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

About The Author

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

You can connect with author Scharine here:
Author Website


Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you working on any other stories presently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

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

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

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

Thank you, author Scharine, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Past We Step Into

“Time is the school in which we learn

Time is the fire in which we burn.”

— Delmore Schwartz

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

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


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

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

Book Spotlight: Devil’s Kiss by Michelle Bennington 

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

Devil’s Kiss

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


Synopsis

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

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


About The Author

Michelle Bennington

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

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


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

Audiobook Excerpt Reveal: Ballad Of Jasmine Wills by Lee Rozelle

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

About the Book

Ballad Of Jasmine Wills

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

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

Audio Excerpt #1
“Jasmine and Suzie Work Out”

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


Audio Excerpt #2
“The Ossobuco Catastrophe”

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


Audio Excerpt #3
“Preston’s Deliverance”

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


About The Author

Lee Rozelle

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

Learn more at leerozelle.com

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

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

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

The Life Of Plants In A Changing Environment

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


Synopsis

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

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

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

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


About The Author

Rishikesh Upadhyay

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

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


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