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Interview: Blogger and Writer Katie Schnolis of Peace, Love, and Yoga Pants

Writing and yoga pants go hand in hand (along with comfy hoodies and fuzzy socks!) so I jumped at the chance to catch up with Katie Schnolis of the blog Peace, Love, and Yoga Pants.

What inspired you to start your blog, Peace, Love, and Yoga Pants?

I had the urge to share my story in bits and pieces.  I guess that’s what a blog is, right? I felt like I had more to say than what could comfortably fit in social media posts or at a dinner table conversation.  A blog just sits there patiently for you, and you can read it whenever you’re ready.  You can subscribe, even, and your email tells you when you can read it.  Technology.  What a great gift. 

I come from a family of many writers.  My dad was a writer, my two eldest siblings are writers, and my mom wrote often.  Letters.  She wrote letters to the editors of publications for subjects she found incredibly important, she wrote letters of support when she thought someone needed an electronic pat on the back, she wrote to inmates because they had no one else to talk to and she couldn’t imagine being that lonely.  “I’ve got time, paper and a pen,” she’d say.

As far as naming it, when I started my blog in 2015, I’d hit the skids, in a matter of speaking.  My dad died in 2014, and in 2015 I got sick for many months, missed a lot of work, saw too many doctors with too few diagnoses.  For half a second I thought about naming it Peace, Love and Happiness, but at the time happiness seemed out of my reach.  Peace what was I longed for, love was what I wanted to share with the world, and yoga pants were the vehicle by which to get both of those.  Who doesn’t feel peaceful and loving while wearing yoga pants? I’m tellin’ ya, it takes much longer to bring about peace with tight jeans.

I understand you have a book in the works.  Tell us about that.

My dad had bipolar disorder and wrote a manuscript that he never published.  He ended up writing the book around 1983, and I eventually read it as an adult at some point, but don’t remember many of the details besides the big talking points: his illness and the effect on our family.  After he died in 2014, I talked to my siblings about my publishing his book with my book chapters feathered in between his.  You see, as it turns out, I have bipolar disorder as well, and some of my story sounds like his.  My siblings gave me the go-ahead to use my dad’s story and I’ve been writing mine alongside his. It’s a little bit: “Mental health life and treatment: then and now”.  

What advice do you have for anyone who’s trying to balance their writing life with family and children?

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, because that will just make you miserable. 

Do your best. 

Some parents get up early to write so they can focus before the kids start making noise.  Others stay up late for similar reasons.  “Me time.”  That’s what you need.  Finding an appropriate amount of “me time” that works for your family isn’t selfish.  It’s healthy, and it will demonstrate for your kids healthy boundaries and interests.  My favorite author Anne Lamott says often that you just need to sit (butt in chair!) and write regularly.  Make a schedule and stick to it.  If you can only manage 15 minutes a day, that’s almost two hours a week! It really adds up.  It’s good for your kids to see you chasing your dreams!

 Follow that still, small voice telling you to do it because no one else will do it for you. 

As my brother Mike, a fellow writer tells me, “Sit down and write!”

Coffee or tea?

Iced tea.  When I’m not drinking water.

Have you always been interested in writing?

Yes.  I can picture myself as a six or seven-year-old when I used to ride my bike around my neighborhood.  I spent a lot of time by myself and would have a running narrative in my head.  “She rode her bike up the shady hill to the small playground to find two kids she’d never met before…”

I constantly narrated my day as a kid.  It hasn’t really stopped. 

What’s your favorite place to write?

My office desktop computer.  My husband and I found a used desk online and it’s absolutely just right for me.  The walls are painted a shade named Hawaiian Blue, which is a teal-ish color.  The carpet tiles are multicolored because I love all things bright.  I’ve got some paintings on the walls, year-round Christmas lights and some pictures of my parents and other family members.  I never write without a candle to light my way. 

Are you reading anything good right now?

I’m about halfway through Dear Evan Hansen, which I giddily stole from my son.  It’s got some surprising differences from the movie and soundtrack – I haven’t seen the stage production yet.  It’s quite enjoyable. 

I’m also reading Matt Haig’s The Comfort Book.  If you’re not familiar with Matt Haig, (please get  so, now!) he writes both fiction and non-fiction; adult and children’s books.  The back cover of The Comfort Book says, “The Comfort Book is a collection of little parcels of hope.  Gathering notes, proverbs and stories, it gifts us with new ways of seeing ourselves, the world and ourselves in the world.”  It’s sweet, insightful and kind.

I have to ask:  What are your favorite yoga pants?

THEY STOPPED MAKING THEM! I’m so sad.  I can’t go on. 

Okay, I’ll go on.  It was an active pair by Old Navy and they’re no longer available.  Now my (rare) yoga pants-shopping life consists of reading review after review, but *sigh*.  They’re never the same. 

***

About Katie: Writer of life-y things, employee for companies usually related to marketing, mental health advocate, wife, mom, fur ball mom, sister, frustrated crocheter just trying to learn how to make a freaking hat.  Yes, she’s tried YouTube, no, she’s not getting any better.  Her scarves look pretty nice.  She doesn’t have any awards yet, but you know that thing when people flip their hands upside down and make their index fingers and thumbs into circles and put them on their face and make them look like they’re wearing glasses? Yeah.  She can do that.  And she’s incredibly grateful that you would take the time to read this.

You can find Katie at Peace, Love, and Yoga Pants as well as on Facebook.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Author Interview: C.J. Hudson of the upcoming Fairhaven Series

C.J. Hudson is the author of the upcoming Fairhaven series, with the first book due out this year. I caught up with him for a few moments to discuss his writing life and his books.

What would you sacrifice for a chance to win back your first love?

Danielle and I were both ten when we fell in love as neighbors on Fairhaven Street. We spent three amazing years together. Despite my “ugly duckling” appearance, lack of confidence and a family with three generations of abuse, she loved me. Being with her exposed me to a life I never thought possible. All we wanted was to go on one date because we were not allowed to go on dates due to our age.

I was forced to move out of state to escape my father. On my last day with Danielle, I gave her a pendant necklace of half of a broken heart, and a promise that I would come back for her when I grew up. I kept the matching pendant.

For seven and a half years, until I was eighteen years old, I remained faithful to her. I never took my half of the pendant off, even after it rusted. All those years, she was the inspiration that guided me to become the man I am today. I broke the cycle of violence in my family so that she would never have to experience it. ​

All I ever wanted was that one date we were denied because of our age back then. Nearly eight years later, I was standing outside her front door, the promise kept. ​ For years I was told what I was doing was crazy, that there was no way she would remember me, let alone still love me after so long. The only question was, who would be right?

What inspired you to write Destiny Lives on Fairhaven Street?

The initial inspiration came back in 1996 and returned in 2017 when my children were born. Back then, I’d been wracking my brain trying to figure out a special way to tell my first love, Danielle, that I’d devoted the last eight years of my life to her, hoping for one more chance to see her again. It had to be something different, something unique. The tour guide on a class trip to Paris suggested I write a novel, that it serve as “the grand gesture.” I also wanted to leave behind my story for my boys. The story of how I became the man I am today, how I met their mom, and how they came to be.

Have you always been a writer?

Most definitely. I wrote my first book when I was seven. It was “published” with glue and staples.

How many books will be in the series?

I’m thinking of at least five, but the great thing about memoirs is that you get new material every day in your life. It only stops when I’m in the ground.

Since this is a novel based on real-life events, what challenges did you face in portraying people you know?

Recalling memories that were 30+ years old as accurately as possible. Keeping the story entertaining while being truthful. The fact is I was depressed and struggling through most of these events, but I didn’t want the writing to be depressing. I am trying to sell a book, after all.

Coffee or tea?

Neither. Keeps me up. I’m a water kind of guy.

What does your writing process look like?

The nice thing about a memoir is that the book practically writes itself. I’ve found over the years that my best work comes when I’m feeling the emotion in the chapter. It just flows out of me. That means re-living every single part over and over, both good and traumatic. My wife would come into the office and see me in tears sometimes because I was re-living the event I was writing about. If I try to just sit there and write, the quality is horrible.

If you could spend the day with any writer, who would it be?

J.K. Rowling. I’ve always enjoyed her writing style and ability to convey emotion.

***

You can follow C.J.’s progress and get updates on his book by visiting his website.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Author Interview: Robert E. Christopher

It’s always fun to go “behind-the-scenes” and see what makes another author tick. I got to do just that with Robert E. Christopher, author of The Tower: Anya’s Story.

From your bio, I see that Dungeons and Dragons has inspired you to create deep characters.  Are there any other places you draw your inspiration from?

I read a lot of fantasy novels, and though I enjoy the themes of good versus overwhelming evil, I often feel let down by what I see as thin or clichéd characterization. What inspires me is when I discover a series like the Books of Babel by Josiah Bancroft, which feature flawed but very human characters doing their best in extremely difficult circumstances. This is what I set out to achieve when I wrote The Tower: Anya’s Story.

What inspired you to write The Tower?

The original idea for The Tower came from a very long running game of Dungeons and Dragons that I’ve been involved in for over thirty years. Over that time, the story has grown to include the fate of kingdoms, worlds and gods, with the consequences of character choices spilling out across the universe. The central concept of the arrival of a mysterious tower is one such consequence. I thought it would be fun to explore the possibilities such an event could have.

In addition, it was very important for me to make sure the central character, Anya, was as real as possible. My eldest daughter was twelve when I began writing, and I imagined all the discrimination and difficulties that she and other young women could still face in the twenty-first century and applied it to Anya.

This long-running game of Dungeons and Dragons game sounds intriguing. Can you tell me more about that?

Our Dungeon Master, Simon Williams, runs a unique game with enormous depth of history, characters and even physics. He has started a new branch of the story with us playing live on Twitch. It’s called The Ruined Keep and features a gang of thieves and smugglers reacting to an encroaching evil. You can catch up with us at 8pm GMT every Tuesday.

What’s your writing process like?  Do you outline or are you a pantser?

I definitely outline. With short stories, I may launch into them with nothing but a single idea, however, the idea of beginning a novel without the security of a framework fills me with dread. I like to consider what themes are important to the overall story, so they can be baked into each chapter, if possible. An outline may take a few months to get right, but it saves much more than that in editing. For me, an outline also gives me reassurance I already have a story to tell and there isn’t an endless blank void of empty pages challenging me to fill them.

Coffee or tea?

Neither. I’m a social pariah in England for not liking tea, but I was never brought up on it. As far as coffee is concerned, I’m honestly unsure why anyone would drink it.

Are you reading anything right now?

I’ve just started reading The Hunger Games. We watched the series of films together as a family, and I was so impressed with the themes and construction of the story, I borrowed my daughter’s books to see how Suzanne Collins does it.

Are there any other writers in your family?

My mother’s cousin has written a children’s book based on stories he told his own children, but I don’t know of anyone else.

What’s your favorite time of day?

I am certainly not a morning person. It’s a little ironic, because my writing routine for Anya’s Story was to get up whenever I woke and write, so I would often be up and typing at five thirty when the rest of the house was still asleep. I think I would have to say that the evening is my favourite time because that is when I can spend most time with my family.

Do you have any future books in the works?

Like many writers, I have several ideas rattling around in my head. My next project is another Tower story. I wouldn’t call a sequel, instead, it is a linked, almost concurrent tale set in the same part of the universe as Anya’s story. I hope to be able to explore different, real world issues in two more novels before bringing the different characters together for a climactic conclusion.

***

You can find The Tower: Anya’s Story on Amazon on Robert E. Christopher at his website.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Author Interview: Natalie Dale, Author of The Writer’s Guide to Medicine

While there are many books written to help other writers, Natalie Dale’s A Writer’s Guide to Medicine definitely caught my eye! I had the chance to catch up with Natalie and talk about her inspiration, her pet peeves, and what she’s got coming in the future.

What inspired you to write A Writer’s Guide to Medicine?

 The Writer’s Guide to medicine was inspired by my fellow writer friends. My writer friends kept asking questions about medicine, until one day someone suggested I should write a book compiling the most commonly asked questions.

I started the project, but quickly realized that medicine is WAY too big a topic to cover in just one book. I played around with different structures, and finally came up with an idea for the series. Volume 1: Setting & Character, would cover medical settings, healthcare personnel, and the important medical basics that every writer should know. Volume 2: Injury & Illness, forthcoming 2022, will cover the specifics of particular ailments, ranging from chest pain to head injuries. Volume 3: Special Populations will cover issues specific to unique subsets of the population, such as children, women’s health, and the elderly.  

With your medical background, what kinds of things drive you nuts when you watch TV or read a book?

Ooh boy, it’s a long list. I’ll just give you my top three.

  • When a character is knocked out by a hit on the head, then wakes up hours later and is totally fine. Head injuries have consequences. If a character is knocked unconscious for even a few seconds, they are going to have a pretty nasty concussion. If they’re knocked out for more than a few minutes, it’s because they had a SIGNIFICANT brain injury. If they wake up at all, they’ll have severe and permanent brain damage.
  • When a character passes out from blood loss, then wakes up hours later is totally fine, even though they haven’t gotten any medical care. If your character is bleeding out fast enough to pass out, they’re bleeding out fast enough to die. People don’t just stop bleeding because they lost consciousness. People pass out after losing about 40% of their total blood volume (about 2L for an average sized man); after 50% blood loss (2.5L), they’re dead. So, the window between passing out and dying from blood loss is incredibly narrow. 
  • When a character receives CPR for 30 seconds, then wakes up and is totally fine. CPR is a last resort. All it does is manually squish the heart, forcing blood to flow through the body. CPR does not cause the heart to start beating again – for that you need a defibrillator and/or injected cardiac medications like epinephrine or amiodarone. To do CPR properly, your character needs to press really hard. The saying goes that if you aren’t breaking ribs, you aren’t doing it right. I understand that actors in movies have to bend their elbows while “performing CPR” on screen to avoid hurting the actor receiving CPR, but it’s given the wrong impression. Performing CPR is hard work and it mutilates the body of the person receiving it.   Finally, the success rate for CPR is dismal. Most people who receive CPR outside a hospital setting will die. Even if they’re able to get a heartbeat back for a little while, the vast majority will not survive to hospital discharge.  

Where’s your favorite place to write?

At my desk, with my cat on my lap. I love looking out over the field behind my backyard, watching the birds. I regularly see kestrels, a resident pair of red tail hawks, great blue herons, scrub jays, and flickers, along with the usual crowd of sparrows, juncos, and finches.

Are you reading anything good right now?

I just finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. What a powerful and poignant book!

What do you feel is the most important advice for someone who needs to incorporate medical information into their book?

Do your research and use reliable sources. Healthline, Mayo Clinic, and UpToDate are all excellent sources. Websites associated with universities – Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, etc. – are also good bets. If you’re going to write anything about mental illness, do yourself a favor and buy a copy of the DSM-5 – the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It’s basically the psychiatrist’s bible.  And if you’re looking for information on what certain conditions feel like, look at support networks like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Cancer.org. 

Stay away from self-help websites and any site trying to sell you things. Also, avoid crowdsourcing your answers – just because one person had a particular experience, doesn’t mean that their experience is typical or realistic.

Coffee or tea?

Tea all the way. I love black teas (I have a particular soft spot for Masala Chai) with a dash of milk but I’m also a sucker for a good peppermint tea.  

Do you have another book in the works?

Always.

I’ve finished writing the second volume of the “Writer’s Guide to Medicine” series, Illness & Injury, so now I just need to go down the rabbit hole of editing. Hopefully that won’t take too long, as I’m planning to publish in spring 2022. 

But I can’t stop there.

 My first novel, Pathétique, is a women’s fiction novel about a professional violinist with bipolar disorder. I wrote it while dealing with my own diagnosis of bipolar. I currently have the manuscript out to several agent – fingers crossed it gets picked up!

I’m also working on the second draft of a YA fantasy novel that emerged from last year’s NaNoWriMo and have been outlining ideas for a potential historical fiction novel based loosely on my mother’s experience as the daughter of a diplomat escaping Indonesia during the failed 1965 coup. I also have several essays and short stories coming down the pipeline.

As you can tell, I’m totally incapable of sticking to a single genre, or even a single project. I love writing about a whole host of different topics; I can never pick just one!          

After struggling with bipolar disorder, Natalie Dale, MD, took a leap of faith and left her Neurology residency to focus on her life-long passion: writing. Since then, her short stories and essays have been published in Flash Fiction Magazine, Wyldblood, McCoy Monthly, the READ White and Blue Anthology, and the National Health and Mental Illness (NAMI) blog, among others. In her spare time, Natalie organizes an elementary school reading program, runs a writing critique group, and plays violin in a community orchestra. You can visit Natalie on her website, on Twitter @DaleNatalie, and on Instagram at natalierose6627.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Author Interview: Brian Prinzo II

I recently got to catch up with Brian Prinzo II, author of the recently released Cain and Abel: The Revelation, to explore his writing life and what’s behind his new book.

What inspired you to write Cain and Abel: The Revelation?

It started with my boredom with the science fiction section in my local library when I was in high school. I checked out and returned numerous books without finishing them because they couldn’t catch my attention. It also stemmed from my fantasies of being similar to the characters in Cain and Abel (having powers, inhuman strength, fighting bad guys and the forces of evil, etc.). So when I was in college, I started my own book to satisfy my bizarre imagination.

What’s your writing process like? Are you an outliner or a pantser?

I’m definitely a pantser. I started writing Cain and Abel before I had a full plot outlined. I was basically piecing together action sequences I had in my head and trying to make sense of them. I did make character descriptions with brief back stories and laid the foundation for the settings and the world, but beyond that there was little to no planning. Any English teacher would be rightfully whacking me on the knuckles with a yard stick for this.

Have you always been a writer?

I’ve always dreamed about being one, but I’m careful with the term. It’s hard for me in my mind to really define the word. Does having a published work make you one? If you’re sitting on thirty books that’ve never been published are you still considered a writer? I’ve tried my hands many times when I was younger, but I never really finished anything until Cain and Abel. Quite frankly, I almost gave up on that.

Coffee or tea?

Although I drink both, I definitely prefer tea. I’m currently hooked on Arnold Palmer (half tea, half lemonade).

Where’s your favorite place to write?

Usually on the couch in pajamas and a bathrobe with my laptop. I find my arms get strained really quickly when I sit at my desk, and I have all my notes in an app. It’s a little more comfortable that way, at least for me.

Are you reading anything good right now?

I am. I’m currently reading American Demon, and I have Million Dollar Demon on queue (both by Kim Harrison). Her Hollows series is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it to any fans of paranormal and dark fantasy. She definitely influenced me, but the biggest influence on my book was The Nimble Man by Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski. This is another all-time favorite of mine. I will say Kim Harrison is a little more in depth with her material concerning magic, but I would still suggest both.

What’s your favorite time of day?

I’m a bit of a night owl, but there are pros and cons to everything. I’ve read successful people are up very early and in bed very early but I can’t seem to get into that schedule (and I’m far from a millionaire).

Do you have any future books in the works?

I am working on a sequel to Cain and Abel, as of right now entitled Cain and Abel: The Resistance. I have no release date and I honestly don’t want to create an ETA because I write agonizingly slowly, and I sincerely have no idea when it will be done. I hit a bout of writers block with this title that was equivalent to a brick wall and it literally spent years collecting digital dust. This year however it started pouring out of me. This is one of the nice things about self publishing. You can move at your own pace with no agent breathing down your back. I will say however that as crazy as The Revelation is, The Resistance pretty much tells The Revelation to hold its beer.

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You can connect with Brian on Facebook, and be sure to check out Cain and Abel: The Revelation on Amazon. If you pick up a copy, make sure you go back and leave a review!

Thanks, Brian, for spending a little time with me to dive into your work!

***

Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Author Interview (and Giveaway!): Susie Murphy

Susie Murphy’s new book, A Class Apart, is a brand-new release on Amazon.  Read to the end for your chance to win a copy!

Is there anything that has driven you to write historical fiction instead of something set in modern times?

I have always viewed books as a means of escaping from reality, so in general I’m not as interested in reading or writing about the times we live in. I want to be swept away to another world or another era and get caught up in the lives of people and places that are different from what’s outside my front door. That’s probably why I enjoy fantasy a lot, but I adore historical fiction most of all: the fashion, the big houses, how the people travelled, how they communicated. Even though it’s our own world, it’s poles apart from how we live our lives now. And I just love the idea of attending a ball in a flowing gown and being courted by a charming gentleman! That is, of course, an idealised view of the way things were; I can’t turn a blind eye to the social injustices and poor health conditions of the times, and I do highlight the contrast between the upper classes and lower classes in my book. But it’s all so fascinating – I can’t get enough of it.

Susie Murphy

How much research do you have to do in order to make these books happen?

Tons of research needs to go into writing historical fiction. You’d think I’d have realised this early on in the process but, no, I’d been writing my series for years before that obvious penny dropped. In the summer of 2016, it occurred to me that I should really double check some of the details in my book…and there followed twelve gruelling months of revisions. I had the noble titles totally wrong, my scullery maids were doing the wrong duties, the term grandfather clock didn’t even exist (not until 1876) – I could go on and on. And what I read up on inheritance law almost scuppered the premise of the whole series! I learned my lesson the hard way, and now I don’t include anything in my manuscripts that hasn’t been thoroughly fact-checked.

But there needs to be a balance as well – I don’t put every detail I’ve researched into my books. I read as extensively as I can on a subject to give myself a full understanding of it, and then only include what’s relevant to the story itself. The research provides the framework, but the story still needs to be the focus.

I see you don’t like tea or coffee (gasp!), so what do you like to drink?

I do get very scandalised reactions about this and have even been offered boiling water as an alternative. But I just don’t like hot drinks! I have discovered in the past year that I can be persuaded to have a hot chocolate – but it needs to have marshmallows, and I’ll want a glass of water to go with it. What do I actually like though? Give me two big glasses of milk with dinner and I’m happy. J

Where and when do you do your best writing?

We have a large armchair in the sitting room that has become my nest over the years. More often than not, it is scattered with notebooks, my laptop and a cosy blanket. (However, I have recently had to relinquish it to my husband for the World Cup, as it has the best view for the TV.)

When I’m on a roll, I can write at any time of the day. I like to accomplish something early before breakfast and can happily work on into the wee hours too. The mid-afternoon slump is usually my least productive time.

a class apart

What book are you reading right now?

I’m actually reading a contemporary book at the moment (the irony!). It’s After You by Jojo Moyes, and it was a gift for my birthday. I’m also listening to the third volume of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series on audiobook in the car. While I do read loads of historical fiction (my last book was The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor), I find it’s nice to mix things up now and then.

What’s life like when you aren’t writing?

I’ve been a piano teacher for the past nine years. This generally includes many conversations that go along the lines of, ‘Yes, I know you recognise that as a hashtag, but in music we call it a sharp.’ One of the funniest things about being a teacher is when you bump into a student outside of school and they look at you like you’re an alien – and that’s when you realise that up to that point they believed you existed only in your classroom. There are plenty of challenges in teaching but in the end it’s worth it when you see a student progress and, more importantly, when they see it too.

When can we expect the next installment in the series?

I do have a completed manuscript for the second book in the series, A Class Entwined, but it will need another draft based on the final edits in A Class Apart. After that, I’ll schedule it in with both my editor and cover designer. All things going according to plan, I hope to publish it in early 2019!

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Want to win an ebook copy of A Class Apart?  Leave a comment below, or visit Ashley O’Melia’s Facebook page and find the pinned post.  A random winner will be drawn on July 14th!

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Susie Murphy is an Irish historical fiction author.

In her working life, she has been a library cataloguer, a shop assistant, a market research interviewer, an office manager and a piano teacher, but all she has ever wanted is to add ‘author’ to that list.

She doesn’t drink tea or coffee (but swears she really is Irish).

She has lived for a substantial time in six different counties – she now resides in Kildare but she’s from Tipperary.

She can recite all the colours of Joseph’s amazing technicolour dreamcoat at top speed in one breath.

When she was young, Susie and her mammy won a sandcastle competition on a summer holiday in England – there were some pretty spectacular sand sculptures on display but the judges gave them the prize because they were the only ones who built an actual castle. Susie’s advice since then: always stick to the brief, people.

She wrote her first ‘novel’ when she was eleven. Entitled The Rabbits’ Journey, it was eleven pages long and an unashamed plagiarism of Watership Down.

You can find Susie on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author Interview: Ashley Goss

An author who isn’t afraid to be prolific in any genre that pleases her, Ashley Goss and I had a moment to chat about her book background and where she’s headed with her writing.

What inspired you to write about vampires?

Honestly, I love reading about vampires and werewolves so I knew I would end up writing a series one day however I didn’t think it would be this soon. My series all came from nightmares I had for a series of nights. I would jot notes down as soon as I would wake in case I would forget anything. It’s crazy how that happens. Always have need a pen and paper by my bed.

Will there be more vampire books in the future? 

Yes, there will be more books in the future along with werewolves, witches and others. I have built an entire world around this vampire series which will fall into the other books. Once the vampires series is done, certain characters will play HUGE roles in the werewolf and witch novels. I can’t say too much cause I don’t want to give anything away too early.

Tell us about your other books.

My other books are strictly romance books. I have written a mystery novel that should be released at some point towards the end of 2018. Stay tuned for more information on that release.

I see that you like to do book reviews.  What do you look for in a book?

I look for a good synopsis. If your synopsis can hold me then I use the Look Inside feature and read the first chapter of the book.  Of course if I’m still interested then I purchase the book and continue reading.

Were books a large part of your childhood?

Yes, as a child I was obsessed with reading anything I could get my hands on. Some of my favorite authors are still: John Green, Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steel and Gayle Forman. Of course, I couldn’t have gotten through grade school without Judy Blume or Goosebumps.

In your opinion, what does it take to be a writer?

No matter what kind of writer, you have to have an active imagination, a way to tell your story, and of course keeping it interesting. The hardest thing about being a writer is finishing your story, seeing it through from beginning to end.

What’s your life like outside of writing?

I am a mother of a beautiful 9-year-old girl and just recently got engaged on Christmas Eve of 2017. I work a full-time office job as well as writing on the side. I am still an avid reader. Right now, I just got done binge watching the Harry Potter collection.

Tea or coffee?

I don’t even like tea. I am 100% a coffee FIEND. I write often at coffee shops. When I write, I always have a cup of coffee by my side. =)

Do you have other books in the works?

I have about 20 unfinished manuscripts at the moment, all of which are half-written. I have three books coming out in 2019. I have not released exactly what books on what dates yet but I will announce this in March 2018.

Be sure to check out Ashley’s website, follow her on Twitter at @authorashleyg, and like her on Facebook.  Her books can be found on Amazon.

 

 

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Author Interview: Carlos LoPopolo

There’s nothing better than a good children’s book, unless it’s one that is based on real life.  That’s the case with Zobo:  The First Mustang, the first in a series of books that follows the real history of the mustang in America.

              Zobo with his mother, Rain

I see you’ve established two wild horse preserves in New Mexico, and you’re working on starting another one in Texas.  Where did your passion for horses come from?

I’ve always been around horses since I was seven, but in ‘99 when I found out what was happening to the mustang it became important to understand their plight and help to preserve them for future generations.  It was on their back this country this country was built.

It’s quite a process to produce a picture book.  What’s the toughest part?

Finding an artist that understands your concept.

                    Zobo’s father, Sombrillo

What does the future hold for Zobo?  Will there be more books coming?

Zobo is the first generation. The series brings the lineage forward from the area of present day Vera Cruz, Mexico to the government preserve they graze on today.  I am presently working on the eighth book in the series and the tenth line of Zobo’s descendants.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was in a kid but didn’t get serious until I was in high school.

 

Who are your favorite authors?

Thurber, Diaz, Castaneda. I like this quote from Castaneda: The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.

The path Zobo and his family would have taken.

What are you reading right now?

Historical documents from New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico.

Bio:  Pam and Carlos live in Bastrop Texas on a little parcel of land with their friends; three dogs, Bob, Mindy, and Trish, two cats Molly and Terry, three chickens (the chickens all look alike so they are hard to name), two donkeys, Bella and Storm, and two horses, Bliss, and Crackers. They all live together in harmony most of the time but, sometimes in chaos.  When they are not enjoying the bright sunshine of Central Texas or the fantastic sunsets they are thinking about where Zobo’s descendants are going next.   Since 1999 Carlos has been rounding up and preserving wild horses.  He has established two wild horse preserves in New Mexico.   Together with his wife Pam they are trying to raise enough money to purchase land here in Texas to open up another wild horse preserve. They are not asking for donations, which is why they are writing the Zobo series.  Through the sale of the books and the development of the movie project,  they hope to raise enough money to purchase land for a new preserve.

 

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Author Interview: Catherine Bannon

Having lived both in Canada and the US, Catherine Bannon gives a unique perspective to experiencing two different worlds.  She has used this understanding in her writing, and I got the chance to chat with her about that.

I see that you were born in Canada but live in the U.S.  What do you miss most about Canada?

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how best to answer that. I was eleven when we moved to the US because of my father’s work, so my memories are those of a child and I’m not sure of their accuracy. I think Canadians are better about respecting your personal space; Americans are so friendly and open and that’s not a bad thing at all, but I’m just made so that I need a wide space around me. And I’ll probably make some people mad with this but when it comes to the concepts that America is supposedly all about, the “Land of the Free” and the “All Men Are Created Equal” type thing, quite honestly I think Canada does it better. On a more personal level, I wish I could have grown up closer to my cousins; there are some I haven’t seen for thirty or forty years just because we live so far apart. And one of my absolute favorite places on earth is the Banff National Park. I probably wouldn’t have been able to get there any more frequently from Ontario, but I still miss it.

What has writing this book done for you?

It’s made me more completely aware of how much I still identify as a Canadian. Jillian is not Canadian; she’s British, but the point still holds. I’ve lived in the US most of my life and all of my adult life, but there’s still something in me, when the wheels of the plane set down in Toronto or Calgary or Vancouver, or when the car clears the Customs station, that settles down happily, sighs, and says, “Home!” I love my home in the Boston area but that little inner something is never completely satisfied until I’m north of the border.

Was there anything specific that inspired you to write this book?

I first started thinking about writing Imperfect Cadence when a friend of mine kept asking me, “Is that a Canadian expression? I never heard it before,” on a fairly frequent basis. I began to realize that I didn’t even know, a lot of the time, whether the idioms I used were Canadian, British, or American as all three had an influence on my speech. That started me thinking about culture shock, and my realization that even after spending most of my life in the US I still was undergoing a certain amount of culture shock that I’d never really gotten over. So I started writing Jillian’s story, and how she tried to reconcile the more reserved British culture she was used to with the more relaxed US culture here. They are similar in many, many ways but there are subtle differences that will over time become more evident. I wanted to try to make my readers see that, as great a country as the US can be, it isn’t the whole world.

What’s your favorite book?

That’s a really, really hard question. It changes every week. I suppose if I had to pick just one, it would be either Anne of Green Gables or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Both children’s books, but both books that have a lot to say to adults on many levels as well.

What are you reading right now?

Right now I’m re-reading the books of Charlotte MacLeod. She’s also a Canadian author who lived in the US, and her books are very, very funny. They’d qualify as cozy mysteries, I think, but the characters are drawn somewhat larger than life and in fact are deliberately overdrawn. She died a few years back and I’m still mourning that there won’t be any more of her wonderful stories.

With working at a university, how do you find time to write?

I have to use all my time as effectively as I can. I use my commuting time to do my plotting and planning; I named all the characters in Imperfect Cadence while at a baseball game. My husband is very good about doing things like the dishes and his own laundry to leave me time to write, and I can sometimes make time during the day by bringing my lunch, eating it at my desk and using my lunch time to write. I try to get a couple of writing hours a day during weekends and when I can after work. I always have a pen and notebook with me so I can jot down ideas as they come to me.

Do you have more books coming?

I certainly do! Pas de Deux, a sequel to Imperfect Cadence, should be coming out in late winter or early spring; I’m just doing the last revisions on it now. It picks up the story about a year and a half after Imperfect Cadence leaves off but follows when Joyce, Jillian’s next door neighbor in the States, goes to graduate school in London. I have plans for a couple more books in the series but I’m not ready to talk about them yet. I’m also working with a co-writer on a series of contemporary mysteries about a different set of characters, but set in the same universe as Imperfect Cadence, and also on a series of historical fiction with a paranormal twist.

Catherine Bannon was born in Canada and lived there until her family moved to the United States while she was in middle school. Despite living in the US for most of her life, she still finds the mix of cultures confusing, which is why she wrote this book in the first place. Catherine likes to travel but doesn’t have to time to do as much of it as she wants. She also is fond of classical music, which drives her classic-rock husband crazy. Catherine likes to cook, and her idea of hell is being stuck somewhere with nothing to read. She likes cats, but doesn’t have any at the moment because her husband is allergic to them. Occasionally she borrows a friend’s cat or dog just to get her “furry friend fix”. Catherine is a Christian and sings in her church choir. The church that Jillian, Josh and their families attend is the same one she went to for many years before she got married and moved out of town. Catherine works in the Employee Benefits office of a university in Cambridge, MA. She is married to Brad Bannon, a political analyst and adjunct political science professor. They live in Marshfield, MA, which is just south of Scituate. You can check out Imperfect Cadence on Facebook and Amazon.

 

 

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Author Interview: Claire L. Brown

Between cooking, writing, fundraising, and spending time with her dog, author Claire L. Brown always has something happening.  Check out my interview with her below.

Did you do any writing as a child?

I’ve been a writer all my life. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling stories.  If there was a story I didn’t like as a child, I’d write my own ending.  Then if I couldn’t find a book I wanted to read I started writing my own.  I was also badly bullied as a child so my imagination and writing became my safe haven and a place where the characters were friends you could trust.

Tell us a little bit about your charity, The Poppy Garden.  

After the publication of The Poppy Garden, on 11th November 2016, I decided that I could do more than just tell a story so I decided to start the Poppy Garden as a charity to help veterans of our armed forces to deal with their PTSD.

I was Inspired by my grandfather, SGT Joseph Robinson, who was part of the RAF during WWII, and how he dealt with his experiences of war by throwing his effort and his passion into his garden.  In the novel, the issues around PTSD and how this affects not only the veteran but also their family are looked at and examined in more detail.

I now aim to establish The Poppy Garden Trust – a charity to create a Poppy Garden in various areas of the UK for veterans to seek assistance and support and create their own poppy garden experience.  The Poppy Garden will be a centre to provide support, assistance and recuperation facilities, retraining and family support.

I am currently in the initial stages of setting up and starting to fundraise.  I am also currently in the process of identifying a suitable property and site in the North East for the very first Poppy Garden to be developed. You can track my fundraising progress at Go Fund Me.

Your blog includes several posts about recipes and cooking.  What’s your favorite thing to make?

I love cooking and baking and I also love experimenting with food.  What I love to cook changes with the seasons and with the ideas that I come up with or recipes I research.   Lately I my most prolific tests have been with Cinnamon Sugar Madeline’s and Ginger Bread tray bake.

With books like The Draco Chronicles and Jonah Axe and the Weeping Bride under your belt, it’s clear you like fantasy.  What first got you interested in the genre?

I think it’s the pure escapism, in fantasy nothing is impossible the only limits are your own imagination.

What’s your favorite time of day?

Early morning, especially on a day off when I can wake up naturally, get up and go for a walk with my dog Hero.

Tell us what your writing process is like.  Are you an outliner or a pantser?

I class myself as an organic writer and my process changes to fit the project.   Sometimes I plan manically and have every page plotted out in fine detail, other times I have a brief idea of the story and I just start writing it and see how the words flow.

What are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. I love crime stories and have for the last year been reading a lot of cosy mysteries.  This is my expansion out in to other branches of the crime genre and I’m enjoying it so far.  I’m also reading The Little Book of Lykke, the research carried out by the Happiness Institute in to what constitutes and how we create happiness.

Do you have any future books in the works?

I’m currently working on a project with the working title Dear Diary. I’m just in the initial writing phase and I’m not sure where it’s going, but I’m enjoying meeting the characters and starting on their journey.

 

Be sure to check out all of Claire’s links below:

Website     Facebook     Twitter     Pinterest     Instagram     Amazon Author Page

My Life As A Writer Blog  & My Life As A Writer When I’m Not Scribbling Blog

 

 

 

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