Author’s Corner: An Interview with Shellie Blum

Shellie newest(1)2Escaping instantaneous death and paralysis from a hangman’s broken neck and shattered jaw endured in a horrific water skiing accident is only part of this unbelievable story as told in her book:
WaterskiGirlWonder_KINDLEYou don’t have to be a water skier to enjoy this inspiring true story told by the first female freestyle water ski ramp jumper in the World.
Absolutely riveting! Once you begin reading it you will find it difficult to put her book down as you follow Shellie on her journey from the Ozarks to Egypt and even the back alleys of Hollywood streets as she perseveres through more than her share of grueling setbacks.

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The Interview

First of all, thank you for consenting to this interview, Shellie.

When I asked you for this interview quite honestly I didn’t know where I would begin. You have accomplished so much. In my mind, your family represents an ideal of achievement, firmly rooted in the motto: Doubt Whom You Will but Never Yourself. It is a motto wrapped around the belief that you always strive to be the best that you can be.

Before we begin the main body of the interview I am compelled to ask the following:
After everything you have accomplished and continue to accomplish, how would you describe Shellie Blum now? In other words, who is Shellie Blum? Who has she become?

A:  I don’t like labels, but if I had to describe myself it would be independent and stubborn. Qualities that have made things more difficult for me but have also helped me. Who is Shellie Blum, well again, if we have to put a label on me, what’s most important to me is being a Mom. Who have I become? Well, hopefully I’m still becoming something. I think it’s important to always be striving towards new things. I’m not really certain what my future holds. Maybe telling my story will open some new doors. If not, I’m perfectly happy being the best Mom I can possibly be.

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Q:  All of your siblings, including you, have middle names. Do those middle names carry significance in your family?

A: I am named with my mom’s middle name. She is Carol Ann, and I am Shellie Ann. My dad was so excited when my older sister came he insisted on naming her Tamara Lynn, after the first female Russian astronaut. My oldest brother is Bradford Thomas because my dad’s nickname and what he went by in life was Tom. My second oldest brother, Brent Joseph has my dad’s true middle name which was Ronald Joseph Blum.

Q: On your site is a photo with the caption: Family Loves Football. What memories are recollected when you look at that photo?

A: Great question…but this is where there may be several times, that I’m gonna’ have to plead the fifth, or say, “It’s in the book!”

Q:  Your father, Ronald Joseph “Tom” Blum, held the prestigious title of “Top Gun” in the Marine Corp. Did this entail a lot of moving about for your family? And, if it did, how did it affect the family and, of course, how did it affect you?

A:  My dad flew off the air craft carriers. We moved around alot, yes, and I guess this attributes to the concept of adaptation. You learn to adapt.

Q:  Did you have a hero growing up? If your answer is yes, please tell us something about why you chose that person as your hero.

A:  I wanted to marry Elvis or John Wayne when I was really young. But then I became super impressed with Larry Bird from the Celtics. I didn’t want to marry him, but I wanted to play basketball like him. My mom has always been my hero and still is.

Q:  How did sports shape your early life? Include your interest in basketball and the 1982-83 Missouri Tigers.

A:  Gotta’ plead the fifth, it’s in the book.

Q:  I noticed that you played trombone in the School of the Osage Indians March Band. Did you play other musical instruments? Who encouraged you? And, how, if at all, did music shape your early life? Do you still play a musical instrument?

AI only played the trombone in band, but we competed in Jazz Band, Concert Band, and I loved the marching band. But I also sang in all the choirs and competed in a sextet. I still sing and act like fool, but my trombone playing days are pretty much over.

Q:  What memories are evoked when you hear “Lake of the Ozarks?”

A:  I get very nostalgic. I miss the “Lake”! But much of this is covered in the book.

Q:  What was the most difficult feat you had to learn (back flip, front flip, helicopter, pyramid, other) and why?

A:  Back Flip, for sure, and again I hate to say this but this is covered in the book.

Q:  As your career developed you had the opportunity to travel to Jordan where you met King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan? Give us some idea of how you felt and what was going in your mind and in your career during that period and what you achieved.

A: This ought to peak people’s interest. I have never been so proud and angry at the same time. “It’s in the book.”

Q:  How were Six Flags Magic Mountain and Cypress Gardens important stepping stones in your career?

A: Six Flags Magic Mountain is where I believe I may have made history by being the first female to land a front flip. Performing them in the ski show forced me to become extremely consistent at them. I didn’t want to let the audience down. Cypress Gardens is and was the pinnacle of my skiing career. There was no better or highly regarded arena to perform in show water skiing than Cypress Gardens. What a shame it is no more!

Q:  No interview would be complete without mentioning your twins: Dashiel Alden and Josie Lynn Lois.
What’s the history behind their names? And, how did the twins save your life?

A:   It’s in the book.

Q:  In your book Waterski Girl Wonder, what was most difficult for you to write and why?

A:  The accident scene was most difficult to write and I think for obvious reasons. When I read those passages I still literally get sick to my stomach.

Q:  What is the most rewarding thing for you now that your book is published? Are there any downsides? If so, explain.

A: To have set a goal and to have completed it. No downsides that I can think of, at least not yet.

Q:  What is the most valuable lesson(s) you have learned?

A:  To try and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, (at least to begin with) and to never give up on your goals.

Q:  What is next for you?

A:  I’m thinking I might like to run for political office. I have a bit of a game plan but lots of things have to happen, the pieces of the puzzle have to come together. It may never happen but, if things fall into place, don’t be surprised. I would run as an Independent. It’s not very likely, but I never say never.”

Q:  Is there anything you would like to add that I may have missed?

A:  I can’t think of anything at the moment.

Q:  Where can readers find your book?

A:  Waterski Girl Wonder can be found in the regular places: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc etc.

 

 

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Author’s Corner: An Interview with Sherry Bagnato

picture Bagnato

Welcome to Author’s Corner, Sherry!

Let’s whet the interest of potential readers. Before we begin,  please share an excerpt from your novel Happy Endings.

Happy Endings cover picCHAPTER TWO (Excerpt)
Carol and Barry: A Look
Love doesn’t cure everything, does it?
“Carol? Are you there? I just heard about Barry. Please pick up.” The sound of a sob being swallowed.
Carol spit into the sink, and scrambled to the phone.
“Sadie?”
“What happened? Why didn’t you tell me? Three months you kept this to yourself?”
Why did she?
_______________
Ifs. If only it were not true.
After they’d finish speaking, Carol fled to her bed, and buried herself in the darkness and warmth of her flowered comforter. What was it Sadie said?
“Listen to me,” Sadie’s voice had been fervent and high. “He loved the edge. That was his story. To sit at the top of the building and calculate the drop down was what he lived for. It was always there, Carol. Fast forward twenty-two years later and surprise, he’s still the same. People don’t change. Did you think he would be different? Listen to me. There is NOTHING you could have done to stop what happened, and there is nothing left for you to fix. ”
Not true, she wanted to scream. If she connected the series of events, and filled in the jigsaw puzzle composed mainly of shades of black cut outs then perhaps she could surrender to the death of her brother. The demise of the man blown to bits on the beach, torturous souls left behind could be capitulated too by the act of fill in the blanks..
She pulled the comforter up to her nose. The scent of fabric softener prompted memories of him way back then. Everything back then smelt of April Fresh fabric softener. The yellow and white checkered tablecloth, dish towels, pillow cases, Barry’s denim jacket. Dolly used it like perfume. If she could, she would have misted their little bungalow with it and created a force field around it for her Barry.
You can’t tie thoughts down, and snare them to the ground. Like clouds they float here to there, and eventually the darker ones filled with weighted putrid memories descend closer, a hairs breadth from your left shoulder.

Happy Endings is a page turner. Your excerpt is an example of what I call a ‘wow factor’ common throughout your book; it compels the reader to read on. Thank you, Sherry.

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I am a reluctant writer who agonizes over every story I tell. I published Happy Endings in November 2014 and was  pleasantly surprised by the feedback. Recently, I won second prize for my short story Aisha Unbroken for the on-line magazine-Big Pond Rumours. I have extended myself this year by taking on the writing of two new novels simultaneously. The real story will be if I can stay awake long enough to see them published. I am a writer by night and a Communications Specialist by day to pay the bills. A mother of two, along with two dogs and three cats, I love to fund raise and hike. I also have a reputation for jumping into any body of water that’s in my way!

Q: What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

A: When I was a child I wanted to be a lawyer, doctor and writer. Since I was not great in the sciences, I ruled out doctor. Because I had to read my stories out loud in class, I was extremely inhibited about becoming a writer, so I tried to become a lawyer and ended up in advertising. Over the years I wrote a few stories, a couple of very bad books. It was then I decided to be a real writer.

Q: Are you a pantser, a plotter or a little of both? Give us some idea how you plan the overall structure of your novel and your approach to each chapter.

A: I must admit I have no plan when it comes to writing a novel. My second novel which I am working on is a mystery, and I don’t plot it out. I let the characters talk to me, and allow their personalities to carve out the story. In my third novel, which I am writing concurrently with the second, it is more methodical because it follows a timeline. In some ways it’s a much easier novel to write, even though the subject matter is more difficult.

Q: How do you go about getting the ideas for your novel?

A: I am an idea’s writer. I may be sitting with someone having a coffee and they may be talking about a specific situation. Suddenly I have an incident that needs a story. Or, it may be a person that is experiencing something, and that person will of course need a brother or perhaps need to be killed. It’s always interesting where your imagination takes you.

Q: What is your favorite part of writing? Is there a least favorite part?

A: My favorite part of writing is to see it in print or the beginning of each chapter. Sometimes, when I am experiencing a Zen moment with one of my characters, I absolutely love writing. For the most part, I find it excruciating.

Q: When you are in the midst of writing a novel, what does a typical day look like for you?

A: When I am in the midst of writing, I do all the chores around the house or go for a run, before I can sit down and put fingers to keyboard. Depending on how well the words come I will work from an hour to three hours a day. Three quarters of the way through, I will step it up and spend 5 hours a day on it.

Q: Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you prefer to mix your readings with other genres? Why?

A: My reading choices are very eclectic. I enjoy a variety of genres depending on my mood and the topic. For me, it is truly about how engaging the story is, rather than the genre.

Q: What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Or is there something else? Why? And how do you overcome it?

A: I think the most difficult part for me to write is characters. I am a visual person and the challenge is to ensure your characters are real and not television versions of themselves.

Q: Sometimes the manuscript for a first novel never sees the light of day. Do you have any manuscript(s) hidden away? If you do, what keeps the manuscript(s) in the drawer?

A: I have two novels sitting on my laptop that will never see the light of day. They lacked depth, and I lacked the experience to give it the require complexity and beauty it needed to tell the story well.

Q: Having achieved your goal to be a published author, what is the most rewarding thing? Is there a downside? If so, what was it for you?

A: The most exciting thing about being a published writer is to see your story or novel in print. After that, it is a great privilege to listen to readers’ feedback. I sell many books through book talks, and I love to hear what characters the readers identify with and why. I get great constructive criticism from readers.

Q: Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

A: I always suffer from writer’s block. The way I get around it is to exercise or meet up with people; anything that will revitalize my spirit. Writing is an incredibly difficult process, and it is important to keep positive.

Q: What inspired you (Where did you get the idea from?) to write Happy Endings?

A: I am always attracted to flawed characters. Happy Endings is a reflection of that. For me, it is a story of what people do to create excitement in their lives and to just survive. Hidden behind a single act of murder, are lives that are skewed, flawed, and not representative of people we know.

Q: How likely are people you meet or know to end up in one of your novels?

A: Guaranteed someone will end up in my novel with or without knowing it.

Q: What was the most difficult thing you found in the writing Happy Endings? For example, in order to capture the realism for the characters and the situations, writing sometimes involves research and preparation before the novel is written. Did you go through any special preparation to write Happy Endings?

A: The most difficult thing in writing Happy Endings was agonizing over whether I was telling a good enough story. It is a complicated novel that jumps around and I wasn’t sure if I could make it work. I researched the character Aisha quite extensively to give her a life of her own. She was my favourite character as a result.

Q:  What is next for you? In other words, what are you presently working on?

A: I am currently working on two novels. The first one is titled “Blessed Are The Peacemakers”, a mystery about a serial rapist. The second novel is a fictitious memoir. It’s really exciting to be working on two very different pieces of work.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you learned on your road to publication? And, what advice do you have for future novelists?

A: Work. Work. Work. It is a difficult process, and it is so important to gain skills to sell your work as well as write it. So many writers who have self published have great novels that go unnoticed. Use social media to your advantage!

Q: Is there anything you would like to add that I may have missed?

A: Writing is a joy and a curse. Stick with it.

Q: Where can readers find your books?

A: Happy Endings is found at:

Amazon.com;
Blurb.ca;

And by ordering directly from the author: sherry.bagnato@rogers.com.

Thank you again, Sherry, for taking valuable time away from your very busy schedule. It has been a pleasure meeting you and I look forward to your next novels.

Author’s Corner: An Interview with Sherry Foley

Picture of Sherry Foley

Welcome to Author’s Corner, Sherry!

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I write full time and when I’m not writing I’m reading. Reading is called research you know, at least I tell myself that so I don’t feel guilty curling up with a good book.   I love to garden, travel with my husband, cheer my kids on at their games and cook. 

Q: What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? And, if you did always know, how did you go about nourishing that dream to fruition?

A: I wanted to be a grown up and be independent. Before I could read I was making up stories with imaginary characters. After learning to read and write I put the stories on paper. I kept writing and imagining readers curled up somewhere so engrossed in the lives of my characters that they took a break from theirs.

Q: You once wrote: “Concentrating on the positives erases the negatives and keeps the grumpies away.” I love this piece of wisdom. It is such a winning philosophy. But, I know that this is not always easy to do. How do you make it happen for you?

A:  I’m an optimist by nature and I always focus on the blessings instead of the negatives.

Q: Are you a pantser, a plotter or a little of both? Give us some idea how you plan the overall structure of your novel and your approach to each chapter.

A: I’m a total pantser. I think up a name for the hero and imagine his personality, do the same for the heroine and decide what their conflict is and begin writing.  I end each chapter with a cliff hanger and go to the next to find out what happens. I never know where the story is going. I like the adventure. 

Q: How do you go about getting the ideas for your stories?

A: My imagination bank is HUGE. I dream up a story I would enjoy reading.

Q: What is your favorite part of writing?

A: I like all the aspects of it including the editing too. I think of it as polishing the final look.

Q: Do you have a least favorite part to writing?

A: No.

Q:  When you are in the midst of writing a novel, what does a typical day look like for you?

A: I start out rereading the part I wrote the day before as it gets me back into the story and I write from there. I write at least 3,000 words and if I don’t have any errands to pull me away I try to write 5,000.  I stop whenever I feel like I’m trying too hard because I know it’s going to be what I will end up deleting the next day.

Q: How likely are people you meet or know to end up in one of your novels?

A: Very likely. I’m always people watching, eavesdropping, honing in on the gestures people make along with body language.  All of these things can be used to help you lift the character off of the page for the reader to experience.

Q:  Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you prefer to mix your readings with other genres? Why?

A: I read widely in my genre and then throw in other genres just to stay current. It all influences the way your voice sounds.  I call it research so I don’t feel like it’s a guilty pleasure to curl up somewhere with a book when I could be writing. 

Q: What is the most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?

A: Sometimes I struggle with emotion and have to revisit those areas a few times until I feel the level is right.  I’m more even keel than emotional so I have to be sure my characters are reacting emotionally enough in the scene. 

Q: Having achieved your goal to be a published author, what is the most rewarding thing?

A: Being invited to book clubs to speak and hearing the readers talk about your book.  I mean, I know my characters are not real, but when the readers talk about them like they are…it’s so exciting.  

Q: Is there a downside?

A:  No, I can’t think of anything. I love all aspects of it and feel fortunate to have it as my day job.

Q: Have you any strategies for writers who suffer from writer’s block?

A: I just keep writing and give myself permission to get the bones of the story down.  You can go back and put some flesh on it later and dress it the way you want to then.

Q: Of the three books we will discuss today, is there one you found the most fun to write? Why?

A: Switched in Death. I  loved writing the twisted personalities. The brain fascinates me. The way it works is still a mystery. The mind can convince one of anything, even if it’s wrong.  We all can justify things, but some take it to the extreme. Example: John Gacy.

Switched_in_Death_cover Sherry FolleyQ: What inspired you (Where did you get the idea from?) to write Switched in Death about a serial killer?

A: I was made fun of while growing up because I was the only one in class that didn’t have parents. Divorce was rarely heard of during that time period. I was raised by my grandmother. Kids can be so cruel.  I got to thinking about all of this bullying you hear about these days.  There has always been bullying, but it seems to be addressed more at the same time these poor kids are taking their lives over it. Words can never be taken back and we must be careful what we utter. They can heal. They can sever. I wanted to show that in Switched in Death.

Q:  Was the killer based on an actual serial killer or a compilation of several serial killers?

A: I just came up with the name Christina Mitchell and flipped it to Mitchell Christian.  One is the tortured child and one is the personality they would’ve had if they had not been verbally battered by others.

Q: In one or two sentences, what is the premise (logline, elevator speech) for Switched in Death?

A: A serial killer hunts for a murderer responsible for tremendous amount of deaths.

Q: Tell us about the hero (heroine) including strengths and weaknesses. (Please include how you arrived at the name Seth Banning.).

A:  My son Seth asked me one time, “Mom, do you think you might ever name one of your characters after me?” Seth Banning was born out of desire to show my son great things can be achieved from having noble character. Seth desires to play by the book and protect the lives of others.  He has allowed his past hurts to stand in the way of his future until Laney shows him some risks are worth the pleasure.  Laney believes in wonderful things for others, but doesn’t reach for them enough herself.

Captive_Memories Sherry FoleyQ: In your novel, Captive Memories, you quite nicely captured the emotional turmoil Brian Helms was living through after the loss of his wife. I think writers go to a ‘special place’ to do this. What was your ‘special place’ and how did you hook into it?

A: No matter what the betrayal is, we’re always left wondering if the person ever really and truly cared or whether it was all a selfish act on their part at our expense.

Q: In one or two sentences, what is the premise (logline, elevator speech) for Captive Memories?

A: Betrayal is hard to bounce back from, but the risk is worth it when love is found through some amazing circumstances.

Q: Tell us about the hero (heroine) including strengths and weaknesses.

A: Brian Helm’s heart has been broken by the one he trusted most. In order to self preserve he has built some pretty thick walls. When a disoriented Shawna McFadden wanders into his studio, not only do Brian’s cop instincts kick in, so does his long dormant need for love. Torn between her feelings for Brian and her fear of what might lurk in her past, Shawna will do anything to protect him, even if it’s from herself. When someone from her former life steps out of the shadows, Brian and Shawna find out what real loss—and real love—are all about.

A Captive Heart by Sherry Foley

Q: What was the most difficult thing you found in the writing of A Captive Heart? Why?

A:  It was my first story that I wrote and I was amazed at how much of yourself you pour into your stories.  You show your core, all walls down, and it leaves you very vulnerable.

Q: In order to capture the realism for the characters and the situations, writing often involves research and preparation before the novel is written. How did you prepare to write A Captive Heart?

A: I read a lot of books on writing, went to conferences and practiced learning POV.

Q: In one or two sentences, what is the premise (logline, elevator speech) for Captive Heart?

A:  When your life is at stake how far will you go?

Q: Tell us about the hero (heroine) including strengths and weaknesses.

A: Uncovering corruption within his own department, FBI agent Ian Mulherin watches the lines of justice blur as he finds himself in the middle of greed, betrayal, and double-agents tied to the Mafia. Realizing he is being framed, he must now protect Nicole, the innocent woman marked to be his victim, as feelings between the two of them begin to blossom. While the conspiracy tightens around Ian, he frantically races to clear his name, bring down the perpetrators, and protect the woman who has captured his heart.

Q:  What is next for you? I understand that you are working on a detective series. What can you tell us about it?

A: I have just finished the first book. The series is set in my hometown of Springfield, Missouri.  I celebrate the area with combining the past with the present into a lot of the mysteries.  I grew up hearing the local lore and incorporated some family stories into the mix too. The first case is very close to my heart. There was something that happened in our town when I was in grade school that kept me glued to the news every night. It was hard for me to get over it. I’ve told the story in a fictional way and written an ending that heals some of the memories.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you learned on your road to publication?

A: If you fight self doubt you’ll write faster

Q: And, what advice do you have for future novelists?

A: Hold on tight to your dream and don’t let anyone rip them out of your hands.

It has been a pleasure meeting you Sherry. Thank you.

And, a BIG thank you goes out to all of you who dropped by to meet Sherry! Have a great day!

Just point and click below to find Sherry’s books:

wintergoosepublishing             

Amazon            

Barnes and Noble            

Books a Million

Author’s Corner: An Interview with Roberta Goodman

DSCN1992Welcome Roberta Goodman to Author’s Corner:

A Meeting Place for Emerging Authors

Q: Tell us about yourself; include how you got started writing.

A: Before I get started, I’d like to thank you for featuring me on your blog, Barry. I appreciate the support. I’m an extroverted introvert. I’m very social and talkative when I want to be, but I can be just as content spending time alone. Individuals who don’t know me assume I’m quiet and reserved. I’m actually quite loud at times. I think the tendency to raise my voice, which most of the time I’m unaware of, stems from being raised in a large city. I grew up in Philadelphia. I moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland with my husband, then boyfriend, fourteen years ago. I hope to move to a warmer climate in the future, because I dislike cold weather. I can tolerate cooler temperatures, but I hate winter and snow with a passion. I’m an outdoorsy person who loves to walk, hike, bike, and swim. I practically go insane during the winter months when I’m cooped up in my house because it’s too cold to do anything outside.

When I turned thirty-six, back in 2008, I found myself on a quest to find my passion in life. There had always been this desire inside of me to tell stories, but up until that point I was busy being a SAHM to my two children, so I waited until they were both in school to pursue a writing career. In January 2009, I embarked on writing my first manuscript. A Sojourn in Hell is loosely based on situations that occurred to members of my family. I weaved fact with fiction to create a story that’s an emotional roller coaster ride. I revised it in 2012 to make it a much deeper read than it had been originally. It’s my second published novel, but the first one I self-published.

About seven months ago, I started focusing my energy on becoming more involved in the indie writing community. I created Tweetathons on Twitter to showcase some of the amazing writers I meet there on a daily basis. I initially focused on writers, but I realized there were lots of other talented individuals as well as those trying to make their small businesses successful that deserved support, so I started including them. My scheduled tweets run four days for twenty-four hours straight. I devote Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays to help spread the word to all my followers about books, music, or anything else they might not learn about otherwise.

Q: What is your favorite part of writing? Is there a least favorite part? And, if there is, what is it?

A: My favorite part of writing is creating scenarios that will get readers thinking. I prefer writing fiction to non-fiction overall. In the case of my upcoming memoir, I used my writing ability to document a very dark period of my life, because I needed a way to cope. It was a cathartic experience to know my words might end up helping others who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis of themselves or a loved one. I haven’t discovered a least favorite part of writing, at least not yet.

Q: Are you a plotter or a pantser? And, how would a typical day look for you while you are writing?

A: I’m a complete pantser. I make notes about my characters, but I never outline. I do my best writing when I’m alone in my home. I can’t concentrate unless I have a quiet atmosphere. I usually start right after my kids leave for school. Depending on my mood, I’ll either sit on my sofa or at my dining room table with my laptop. I’m a caffeine addict, but I’m not a coffee drinker, so I usually have a Diet Coke or a cup of hot chocolate sitting beside me. I usually work for hours completely unaware I’ve done so until something alerts me to the time.

Q: Were you inspired by particular writers or genres and, if so, how did they influence your style?

A: I’ve been inspired by every writer I’ve ever read. It’s a list that’s way too long to write here, but I can’t honestly say any of them has influenced my style. I like to believe I have my own unique way of telling a story which is independent of anything I’ve chosen to read.

Q: What are you reading now?

A: I’m ashamed to admit I’m not reading anything at the moment. When I have free time from editing my memoir, which I’ve been working on daily, the only thing I want to do is rest my eyes.

Q: Was your road to publication difficult or a walk in the park?

A: I apologize in advance for this lengthy response. My journey to become a published novelist wasn’t an easy one. In January 2009, I began writing my first manuscript. My tragic romance/family saga took ten months to complete. After many months of querying to agents I failed to secure representation, so I decided to set it aside.

I was inspired to write Snow Escape a few months later. It took me a total of five and a half months to complete it. Again, I started the process of querying to agents. I had high hopes someone would feel as passionate about this work as I did. I sent out over a hundred queries and waited patiently for the responses. Rejections started to pour in from about half of those queried. After several months I ended up shelving Snow Escape.

I started doing some freelance work, because I couldn’t bring myself to write a third manuscript. I didn’t even consider self-publishing, because I didn’t feel it was a road I wanted to go down. At the time, I falsely believed the stigma some people attach to self-publishing, and I was convinced the only way I’d succeed in the writing world would be through traditional means.

At the beginning of 2011, my husband was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. It was an incredibly devastating time in my life. I knew I had to stay strong and find a way to deal with the stress of his having to go through surgery and chemotherapy, so I began to write a manuscript about our struggle. After I completed it I started the process of querying to agents, but I didn’t get very far. I was told several times our story is too personal, therefore it isn’t marketable. I made the difficult decision to set it aside.

In July 2011, something compelled me to revise Snow Escape. Within a week, through fate, I had the number of a small independent publisher. I called her up and told her about my project. I ended up sending her a query, a synopsis, and the first three chapters of my manuscript. A little over a week later I received an email stating my work was going to be published.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how much control I was giving up by going with an indie publisher. Couple that with the fact promotion of the book was my sole responsibility and most writers will understand why I decided to try self-publishing. After I revised my first manuscript, I was able to overcome the intimidation and stigma I initially felt about the process and it’s not something I regret. I plan on self-publishing my memoir.

Q: Now that you are a published author, what is the most rewarding thing for you?

A: It’s a powerful thing to know I possess the ability to entertain readers or help them escape their own troubles just by reading something I’ve written. If I can get them to relate to my characters, and to become engrossed in the story, then I’ve done my job.

Q: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do to combat it?

A: I have suffered writer’s block, and I continue to occasionally. The only thing that helps me combat it is to walk away from what I’m working on. I’ve learned the more pressure I put on myself to break through a block, the worse the block will become. I’ve purposely shelved work, because I felt I couldn’t do justice to the story by forcing myself to continue. I do find myself going back to most stories, but there are some I’ll probably never finish. My philosophy is I can’t beat myself up when inspiration leaves me.

Q: What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?

A: Characters give me the most trouble. I have a tendency to focus more on their flaws as opposed to highlighting their positive traits. I believe flawed people are much more interesting to read about, so I always have fear readers will think my characters are boring if they aren’t flawed enough.

Q: Though A Sojourn in Hell was your first manuscript (2009), a very different novel Snow Escape (September 2011) saw the ‘light of day’ ahead of it. What was happening to bring this about? In other words, what inspired you to write Snow Escape as your first published novel?

goodman_SnowEscape_final (414x640)A: I endured three huge snowstorms during the winter of 2009-2010. Two occurred within a week of each other. I was sitting at my computer querying agents for my first manuscript, A Sojourn in Hell, about a week after the back-to-back storms. I looked out the window and watched as more snow fell. Thankfully, this storm was going to pass my area and head up to New York. I remember thinking Thank God we’re not going to get hit from another storm. Let New York get clobbered with it, because I’ve had enough snow. That’s when I had this light bulb moment. What if you had a woman in New York who’s trapped in her apartment, because it just keeps snowing? What if this woman uses online dating to meet guys and one of them decides to contact her during the blizzard? The details basically came flooding to me, so I was compelled to write them down. Here’s a brief description of my murder mystery/thriller:

Set against the backdrop of a historic snowstorm, Snow Escape is the story of one woman’s innocent foray into the world of online dating turned deadly.

 

Allegra Maxwell is a 30-year old, single school teacher looking for love. Having chosen to use the Internet to meet the opposite sex, she encounters an articulate, prospective beau on the night the biggest blizzard in history is blanketing the Big Apple. Their pleasant conversation soon turns sinister when she discovers “Charles” has been stalking her for weeks and claims he lives in her building. When threats of destroying her little by little are made Allegra must stay one step ahead of the mind games. Turning to neighbors for help, tragic consequences ensue.

When her sanity is questioned because the online evidence her stalker exists disappears, Allegra must prove he does exist, and she isn’t losing her mind. She’s convinced he’s somewhere in the building just waiting for the right time to attack, so when a power outage thrusts her into darkness will she be able to overcome the helplessness she feels? Placed in a situation that’s spiraling totally out of her control, while trapped in her apartment building with no escape, will she survive until the authorities can reach her?

Q: A Sojourn in Hell—a multigenerational novel spanning almost 80 years from the Depression through WWII and beyond—is rich in historical research. Was it difficult for you to capture the life during that period? Describe how you went about preparing yourself to write this novel. 

A SOJOURN IN HELL EBOOK COVERA: It wasn’t difficult for me to capture life during the period starting with the Depression, because I grew up in a family whose members enjoyed talking a lot about what life was like in the 30s, 40s, 50’s, etc. The only thing I did to prepare myself to write A Sojourn in Hell was recall stories told to me throughout my lifetime. Writers write what they know, so for my first manuscript I chose to build a story intertwining fiction with real life events. Here’s a brief description:

A Sojourn in Hell focuses on the tragic romance of a young woman. Losing the love of her life in combination with a dysfunctional upbringing help to shape the subsequent decisions she makes. As you’ve stated in your question, the story is a multigenerational tale spanning almost eighty years. From the Great Depression through WWII and beyond, the reader is witness to the changes one woman’s life undergoes as she becomes a wife, mother, and grandmother as well as the trials and tribulations her own children end up going through. Alcoholism, untimely deaths, physical and mental abuse, adultery, and life-long regrets abound in this heartbreaking character study of human emotions.

Q: A Sojourn in Hell explores the long reaching effects that violence has on a soul. Why do you think this is a common theme in literature?

 

A: Writers know most readers can empathize with suffering characters; ones who’ve been physically or emotionally scarred from a violent incident or incidents. If they’ve been a victim of violence themselves, reading about a character in a similar situation can sometimes help individuals delve deeper into how the violence they experienced shaped their own lives. If they’ve never been a victim of violence, reading about it will hopefully build compassion within them for those who have suffered.

 

Q: Do you have plans to extend A Sojourn in Hell to follow any of the central characters on new adventures? Do you think there is scope to follow up the novel in this way?

 

A: I don’t have any plans to extend A Sojourn in Hell. The supporting characters are definitely interesting individuals, but I purposely built the book around a complex main character. The reader follows her throughout her lifetime until her death. I felt content ending the story with her passing and letting readers use their imaginations to envision what happens to the other characters in the future.

 

Q: Your most recent project Persevering through the Unforeseen: One Couple’s Experience Conquering Testicular Cancer will soon be published. Recently you wrote “…Persevering is closest to my heart because everything documented happened. I hope to spread the word about Testicular Cancer by releasing this story.” Cancer has touched many families including my own. I am still battling stage 3 prostate cancer (Gleason 7) after a prostatectomy 2 years ago. Describe this most recent endeavor and how you hope “to spread the word about Testicular Cancer.” How can people reading this Blog help you reach your goals?

PTTU eBook Cover copyA: I’m sorry to hear about your struggle, Barry. I certainly hope you win the battle. Cancer is an insidious disease that can strike anyone at anytime. I was hit with this realization when my husband, who was thirty-six at the time, was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer in January 2011. He underwent an orchiectomy to remove his testicle which we later learned contained two tumors. When TC is suspected removal of the testicle is the only way to perform a biopsy. When it was discovered the cancer had spread to his pelvic area, he was forced to endure four aggressive cycles of chemotherapy for a total of twenty doses.

It was a very stressful time for my entire family, because we didn’t know what to expect. When I initially looked for information about TC, I was overwhelmed by the medical jargon. I also discovered not many people have written personal accounts of their TC battles. It’s not a cancer that gets much publicity, because the numbers of men who get it are overshadowed by the number of individuals who get other cancers. I decided I needed to document what was happening to better educate people about the emotional upheaval and the treatment options for this particular cancer. I knew very little about chemotherapy until my husband went through it. I didn’t realize older people can’t get chemo in the amounts he received, because they’re not strong enough to handle it.

Writing down what we went through was my way of coping with a situation I couldn’t control. If I can reach those who might be comforted by reading what my husband and I as well as our family went through, and triumphed over, then all the work I’ve done writing, revising, and editing it will be worth it. If I can educate those going through a similar situation, so they are aren’t terrified by the experience, then all the suffering that happened in our lives won’t be in vain.

Q: Where can readers find you? And, where can readers find your books?

A: Website/blog-  http://rogoodman.com

Facebook Author Page- http://on.fb.me/Wm9RBE

Twitter-  https://twitter.com/#!/RobertaGoodman

Linked in-  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/roberta-goodman/44/886/b87

Goodreads-  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5253029.Roberta_Goodman

Goggle + –  https://plus.google.com/103358666573770201293/posts

Buying info for Snow Escape:

Amazon- amzn.to/16sh1oN

Amazon UK- amzn.to/1h1FjfF

Write Words Inc-http://www.writewordsinc.com/snowescape.html

Barnes & Noble-bit.ly/11x6dBK

Buying info for A Sojourn in Hell:

Amazon- amzn.to/11wu4l3

Amazon UK- amzn.to/15MdlCe

Barnes & Noble-bit.ly/168oIAJ

Buying info for Persevering through the Unforeseen: One Couple’s Experience Conquering Testicular Cancer:

eBook coming soon to Amazon, Amazon UK, & Barnes & Noble

Thank you Roberta for taking time from a very busy schedule to participate in this interview. I hope all goes well and I am looking forward to your next book.

Author’s Corner: A Meeting Place for Emerging Authors

Welcome to the premier of Author’s Corner!child-and-books-134831705568z

Developing the Creative Mind: It all begins in childhood.

 I am pleased to have as my first guest, Kelly Graham, author of the novel Eyes of the Many. From the moment I began reading Eyes of the Many, I found it difficult to put it down.  Your debut novel is as ingenious as it is a compulsive page turner. Thought provoking and action packed, your novel hits the mark in every way from well developed scenes and memorable characters to delivering underlying weighty themes. And, you managed to it with the light touch of a writer immersed in creating suspense; the result was a delight with an ending that both shocked and satisfied to boot.

Welcome to Author’s Corner, Kelly.

As both a reader and as an author, I have always been interested in how it all began. So, Kelly, how did you get started writing?

It followed after a bout of illness, actually.  I wasn’t able to do very much for a couple of months around this period and so I found myself filling in time by reading fiction novels: something I hadn’t done for quite a few years.  Well, as it turned out, reading wasn’t enough – I began to ask myself the question, “Could I write something like this?” There was only one way to find out!

Do you have a favourite part of writing?

Finally getting on paper the kazillions of ideas that are buzzing around my head – whether a mere chapter or an entire story. It’s like having a mental flush-out.

You probably know my next question. What is your least favourite part of writing?

The inability to sit still and focus for any substantial length of time – I’m a relentless fidget and constantly on the look-out for distractions. (It’s probably why I got into so much trouble at school.) Also, knowing that as soon as I start to concentrate my two children will embark on their next sibling war.  How do they time this so well?

As I stated in my introduction, your thought provoking, action packed debut novel hits the mark in every way from well developed scenes and memorable characters to delivering underlying weighty themes.  What inspired you to write Eyes of the Many? Where did you get the ideas for this story?

I guess you could call Eyes of the Many a lucky dip construction.  While I was hoping to write something within the thriller or horror genres, I really had no specific ideas in mind.  Once I decided that I was going to have a crack at writing a novel, I just figured I’d sit back and wait until the story came to me.  And it did just that, about a week later, and while I was vacuuming of all things.  I guess my brain did a bit of a blind search and just plucked a few random themes from a back room somewhere.  It then pretty much fell straight into place. I ditched the vacuum for a notepad and scrawled out the skeleton for the story and went from there.

Well, I’m sure pleased you “ditched the vacuum” and took up writing. Will there be a sequel to Eyes of the Many?

I’m not sure about this. If something good comes to mind I’m all for it. I guess we will just have to wait and see!

 How would you describe your writing style: In other words, are you a plotter or a pantser?

Being a bit of a control freak, I like to know where I’m going, so that makes me a plotter.  If something new or different comes up which requires me to change course, however, I’m all for it. There is something to be said for a little spontaneity.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? 

Not so far.  My biggest problem is stumbling on the arrangement of a particular sentence or paragraph.  I stubbornly refuse to move on and come back to it later and so this can be time costly.  Usually it gives me another excuse to fidget.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading Unbridled Greed by Barry Johnson.  It’s a thriller about medical insurance fraud.  So far I’m impressed with what the author has created out of what might be considered dry subject matter.  Who knew that healthcare could be so hazardous to your health?

Are there certain genres that you are drawn to as a reader?

I’m open to a variety of genres, so long as the story is compelling and well written.  I do lean toward the warped and horrific, however. Stephen King gets me every time. I’d prefer not to ask myself why.

Now that you have written Eyes of the Many and your second novel is underway, what advice would you give to someone about to write their first novel (other than don’t do it)?

Dive in!  Just be mindful of the rocks beneath the surface, because they will be there.

Tell us something about your next project and when you expect it to be released.

I’m currently working on a horror-thriller called Cellular. It’s about a fit young man who unexpectedly suffers heart failure while out jogging one morning. Due to the damage inflicted on the organ, he requires and undergoes a heart transplant procedure. This all goes well but soon after some strange things begin to happen. He begins to have nightmares of brutal murders, senses that someone or something is watching him, and acquires a new talent which seems to have a power of its own. I don’t want to say much more at this point but suffice to say that it will be a lot darker than Eyes of the Many. Scary too – well, at least I hope so anyway.

If all goes well it will be released sometime next year.

What advice do you have for other authors just starting out?

Really look into the marketing and promotional side of things and strategize before releasing your book.

Where can readers find your books? (Print and/or ebook).

Both ebook and print formats of Eyes of the Many may be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBookstore. Links are available on my website www.kelly-graham.com.

Thank you, Kelly. I look forward to reading your next novel Cellular and encourage everyone to check out her  website: http://www.kelly-graham.com