Blog Post

This week I’m sharing a short extract from Broken Pieces of Tomorrow with you which is my debut Coming of Age novel. It is semi-biographical and much of the story is based on my own experience of my marital breakdown and the tears and thrills of building a new life. I hope you enjoy it and if you haven’t read the book I hope you choose to soon.

“Georgia liked the control she had over her relationship with Sean, which meant she could, for once, do what suited her. She could however feel herself becoming more selfish and the more she saw of Sean the more she wanted him, like an addict she craved him. She began to spend more and more of her free time with him and less and less time with the boys. And every time she saw him they made love. She pushed his home situation to the back of her mind; for now, it didn’t matter where he lived.

On Sundays while Nicolas took the boys to watch Andoni play football, she met up with Sean in Hampstead. Nicolas, she knew, had spent hours at a time talking with Roksana during Andoni’s Sunday matches and she now did the same thing under his nose and even though they were separated she felt smug about it; getting one over on him. They took a different route each time, Georgia breathing in the fresh scent of nature and avoiding the banks of nettles as they walked hand in hand. They made love behind huge green bushes and brambles, camouflaged by the shady woodland and the thick canopy of petalled branches casting pink and red shadows along her skin. Georgia lay on the soft lichen covered ground of the forest, the damp earthy scent filling her nostrils, the heavy drone of insects filling her ears as Sean fluttered her name against her lips.

They never got caught and the risk of getting caught, of doing something daring, dangerous, added to the intensity of their love-making. Georgia didn’t care though. She took Sean in her mouth, writhed up and down on him, her bra hanging around her waist. Sean loved her hard and she saw fire in his eyes as he loved her harder still. She felt invincible.”

Thanks for reading and if you have already read Broken Pieces of Tomorrow I’d be most grateful for a review on Amazon.

***HAPPY ST VALENTINE’S DAY***

Until next week, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy You!

Soulla xxx

It’s already the last day of January but you can be assured I’m finishing the month with a very special A Cup of Conversation with author Sarina Dahlan. Connecting with other authors is one of the most wonderful aspects of being part of the writing community and Sarina’s wonderful approach to her writing and the world of books shines through in this interview. She reveals her three big plans for 2019 as well as answers my questions with due consideration and care which is reflective in her writing too. So join me as I chat to Sarina now.

1. When did you start writing creatively?

The first creative writing piece I remember was a poem I wrote in a pink diary with a tiny silver lock, which I got when I first came to the U.S. I’m sure I started writing before that—just nothing worth remembering. I think it was a love poem, which must have been pretty boring coming from a prepubescent girl whose idea of love was anaemic and uninspiring. I never shared it with anyone. It took me a really long time to develop enough trust in myself and others to share my writing. Years later, I don’t like pink and I don’t keep a diary, but the love of writing remains.

2. You were born into an Indonesian family in Thailand and have lived in the US since the age of twelve. How have your experiences coloured your writing?

I came from Kampong Java, a little Indonesian enclave in the middle of Bangkok. While well-assimilated, we were a minority with a different religion, culture, and food. When I moved to a small desert town in California I, again, was a minority. But being a minority gave me a comfort level with, and a deep love for, diversity. It also gave me a sense of pride in where I came from. Having travelled extensively, I can say that I have yet to encounter another place like Kampong Java. I wanted to share that part of me, and at the same time share the America I know with others. There are not a lot of books and stories that reflect the way I see both places—with complexity, nuance, beauty, and flaws. So I was determined to write one. Shadow Play: Ten Tales from the In-between is set in both Bangkok and the U.S., with characters that are different from each other in race, faith, age, perspective, value, and even the time period they inhabit. Yet, they are all linked by a karmic web. The collection reflects my own belief that all things and people are interconnected, and that decisions we make, however small, can affect the course of the world.

3. A reader has described your stories as, ‘making magic real and reality unsure.’ How do you do this and can you give us examples from your own work?

Having grown up in Thailand, instead of fairy tales I had ghost stories, myths, and legends. The country is old and has a long history. In addition to being a Buddhist country, it also has roots in Hinduism and Animism. There, magic and the supernatural are accepted more readily as a part of everyday life. There are spirit houses in homes, in front of hotels, schools, and hospitals. There are palm readers in parks under trees and in malls next to shoe stores. All of this coexists in a sophisticated modern society. I also noticed this trait in places like Myanmar, Cambodia, and Bali where legends and myths are told in the same breath as history. The predisposition to believe in the supernatural is very much embedded in the human psyche, but we’re also taught logic and reason. I address that dichotomy by bridging the seemingly at-odds concepts in my work. In the stories in Shadow Play: Ten Tales from the In-between, the supernatural is presented as a natural phenomenon. The characters, when encountered by it, are not surprised. While the stories are fictional, the places are real. I put a lot of care into describing the locations: the sight, the smell, the colors, the sounds, the feel. I wanted to anchor the readers to the reality of a place as they traverse each fantastical tale.

4. Are any of the characters in your books based on yourself?

In parts, but none in entirety. Ali, a young man in the short story Dust Bound, does reflect a moment of self-analysis in my twenties when I lived in Thailand for a year after college. I would say that places, more so than characters, are based on my own life.

5. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

In Shadow Play, it would be Blue from the short story, Call Me Blue. She’s a fifteen-year-old girl in search of her missing grandmother who we learn in the course of the story is a witch. She’s intelligent and brave. She takes matters into her own hands and is not afraid to go after what she wants even if it’s dangerous and might get her into trouble. In RESET, the speculative novel I wrote last year, my favorite character is Benja. He’s passionate, reckless, wicked smart and endearing. But he is also self-destructive. He’s a complicated character who sees things very clearly in his own way. He’s not afraid to go after what he wants even if it’s dangerous or would get him into trouble. I think there’s a pattern here. I like to write smart and brave characters, and I love to read about them. I don’t think I’m alone in being attracted to those qualities.

6. What are you currently working on? 

I’m currently working on an untitled fantasy with magic, witches, and the supernatural. It is set in the U.S., Thailand, and the In-between, a place where magic resides. It’s an extension of the short story, Call Me Blue, with Blue as the protagonist and other characters from the tales in Shadow Play: Ten Tales from the In-between making appearances. The stories in my collection are connected and occupy the same universe, and in this novel, the connections are more apparent than ever. I’ve been reading a chapter a night to my children and so far, they really like it.

7. How do you organise your writing process and how do you prepare your books for release?

I have a messy mind but I work neatly. I write everything on my laptop. I put my notes and outline at the bottom of the manuscript so I can refer to them as I write. I edit as I go. I reread before I add to make sure that I don’t have plot holes. This makes for a slow writing process but when I’m done with my manuscript, it is not a first draft but rather a close-to-finished product. To prepare Shadow Play for release, and with very little funds, I enlisted help from my amazing husband and several generous friends who gave feedback and edited. I also had the help of a talented designer friend to create my book cover and typeset my hardcover, while I typeset the e-book and paperback myself. I published the hardcover through IngramSpark and published the e-book and paperback through Amazon. It was a lot of work but I just took a step at a time and asked a lot of questions along the way.

8. What do you do to relax or recharge and how does it help your writing?

I love to travel. It both recharges and influences me. I tend to start with a place in my stories, and the countries I’ve visited gave me inspiration. I went to Myanmar in the fall of 2016 and am itching to write something with it as a setting; maybe a love story with a bittersweet ending with some supernatural elements, something befitting the beauty of the place.

9. Are you a planner or a pantser?

I’m a pantser for about the 1st third of the book. Once I have the shape of the story, I write an outline to see whether the idea is solid enough as a novel, which I guess makes me a planner. Then I more or less follow the outline while still giving myself the freedom to explore and veer off track (plantser?). There are also elements of magic and kismet in writing (especially around 3 AM) and sometimes stories write themselves. When that happens, I’m not sure if it fits into either category.

10. What are your three big plans for 2019?

January has been such a lucky month for me. Many wonderful things are set in motion. I’m continuing to spread the word about Shadow Play: Ten Tales from the In-between, which includes a book signing in February at Warwick’s in La Jolla and (hopefully) a speaking engagement later in the year. I’m also working on finishing my untitled fantasy, which is almost half way done. I will also be partnering with my new literary agent to find a publisher for my speculative novel, RESET, which I had finished last year. My skeptical side is bracing for a crash but my optimistic side is expecting a front row seat to a spectacular fireworks display in 2019. It’s still early in the year so I’m going with optimistic.

I’ve really enjoyed having you Sarina and thank you so much for your wonderful engagement with me and my readers. Thanks too readers and followers and please connect with Sarina on any of har links below.

Until next time, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy You. Soulla xxx

Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarinaDahlan

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarina.dahlan/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SarinaDahlanWrites/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarinadahlan/

Website: https://sarinadahlan.com

Blog: https://sarinadahlan.com/blogs/

Amazon link to books: https://smile.amazon.com/Shadow-Play-Ten-Tales-between-ebook/dp/B07JL7ZXRZ

More options to buy book: https://sarinadahlan.com/buy/

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s A Cup of Conversation which I’m really happy to be bringing you this week as it almost didn’t happen! I know, shock, horror! But Sydnie Rose came up trumps and her interview is a breath of fresh air…she is determined, fun and has a great can-do attitude. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did…it will certainly leave you wanting to eat pancakes! 

1. When did you start writing creatively?

Ever since I was in the third grade! I was basically a Junie B Jones/Cam Jansen fanatic, whose cleverness inspired me to begin writing my own stories.

2. Your Instagram bio states you are a 12 x 12 picture book challenge member. What does this mean/entail?

The 12 x 12 picture book challenge is a year-long community of just picture book writers, who, with the support of one another, aim to write 12 picture book manuscripts in 12 months. Not only does it increase your writing motivation, but it increases your chances of landing an agent!

3. Have you incorporated your own experiences of growing up in your books?

I have! I’ve incorporated some of my own fears and likings (such as pancakes in my latest picture book, Plenty of Pancakes).

4. What is your process for querying?

When I finish writing a manuscript, I do a thorough re-read through it myself, then send it off to my genuinely lovely beta readers, and when all those edits are at last conquered, I start querying them to agents! Yikes!

5. Tell us a little about your picture book Plenty of Pancakes.

Plenty of Pancakes was initially inspired by my love for the sticky breakfast food, because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like pancakes?! It’s sole purpose is for the entertainment/enlightenment of children, as I remember back in my own childhood days, that picture books with food were always the most interesting to me. So fun and tasteful!

6. Are any of the characters in your books based on yourself?

I love this question. Yes, they are! In my current YA contemporary lesbian romance novella WIP, the protagonist, Cindy, was inspired by myself! When a character is based on the writer themselves, I feel as though we wholeheartedly connect with them a lot quicker, and the words simply flow out more smoothly, as all we have to do is reflect on our own experiences, and boom-shakalaka! We’ve got a great start.

7. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

Eliza, from my YA romance novella WIP, Relationship Pending, is one of my ultimate favorites, as she’s such a romance, and, not to mention, a downright badass. I think readers will like her because her free spirit is really inspiring, and they may even learn some relationship-tips from her.

8. How do you organise your writing process and how do you prepare your books for release?

If I’m being brutally honest, I’m not someone who absolutely has to have every single little detail of the plot planned out. I’m really laid back about the whole thing, and usually just outline the major ideas, as I know the rest will come to me along the way. Although I haven’t released any of my books yet, as I’ve actively been submitting them to agents & publishers for the last 7 years, when it does (hopefully) come to that time, I would promote them with several advertisements/excerpts in the weeks prior.

9. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy? Why?

Thinking ahead gets to me, at times. For example: say I’ve just started writing a manuscript and I’m up to only 1,000 words and I’m shooting for a goal of 20,000. The thought of the long road scares me just a bit, but I know I will get there in time, and that’s when I try and remind myself to just enjoy the ride.

10. What do you do to relax or recharge and how does it help your writing?

I Netflix! For some reason (I can’t be the only one), Movies/binge watching TV shows help take my mind off things. And, sometimes, the characters portrayed in them inspire the words to begin flowing out onto the paper again. Funny thing is, I’m going to school to become an actress next year, so, who knows: perhaps someday, I’ll have the privilege of watching myself on TV and will be inspired from my own work!

11. Are you a planner or a pantser?

I’m going to combine these two and call myself a “plantser”, as I believe my writing process reflects both.

12. What are your three big plans for 2019?

1: Finish wring my YA contemporary lesbian romance novel.

2: Write 12 new picture book manuscripts for the 12 x 12 challenge.

3: What has been my goal for the last 7 years: find an agent to represent me!

 

What a delightful interview! Thank you so much Sydnie – I know you were really pushed for time but I’m so glad you took part in A Cup of Conversation. And thank you to my readers…and please link up with Sydnie on any of her links listed below.

Until next week, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy You!

Soulla x 

Links:

Twitter: @sydnierosewrite

Instagram: @wanderinginthewritedirection

 

Welcome to A Cup of Conversation with C.L. Walters, a wonderful author, who I have had the pleasure of connecting with on Instagram just before Christmas and who has already engaged in the writing community with passion, authenticity and most of all creativity. Here she reveals her career as an English teacher has spanned twenty years and shares her favourite quote from Michelle Obama’s book and what her latest book Swimming Sideways is all about.

 

1. When did you start writing creatively?

The first story I remember writing for an audience, I was eight or nine. It was the story of an older man riding a bus with a bouquet of flowers bunched in his fist. He was dressed up in a suit and pondering his impending reunion. The man recalls a promise he made during the war and the plan he and his friend made to reunite after they’d established their lives. As a reader, we followed the protagonist through his thoughts about his friend, the war and friendship from the bus as he walks the remainder of the way to the meeting. Finally, upon our protagonist’s “hello,” we learn he’s ventured to a cemetery where his friend has been long buried.

This makes me chuckle, now, because what would an 8 or 9-year-old girl know about being an older man? Or a soldier in WWII? Or what it would feel like to have developed a brotherhood? There are so many layers in this story that my limited perspective would never have been able to capture, but I also am a bit surprised by it too. Where did that story come from? It seems so nuanced for an eight or nine-year-old child to conceive.

I remember after I finished writing the story, I rushed to read it to my mother – an obviously biased audience. She cried, she was so moved, and her reaction was addictive for me. I’ve been writing creatively ever since.

2. In your own words you are ‘a teacher of stories and a writer of make believe.’ How does this translate into the reality of your life?

I’ve been an English teacher (among other positions in education) for over twenty years and have taught nearly every age from Kindergarten through Seniors in secondary school. I love opening doors to literature for students, specifically with regards to the elements of story and devices writers use to leverage meaning. When the light bulb is illuminated on the layers of an exceptional piece of literature, and a student has that ah-ha moment – it’s as addictive as my mom’s response to that first story I read her.

I believe my experience teaching story – of studying it and then attempting to make it accessible and relevant to those not as enamoured with it as I am – has made me a better student of writing and story structure. Over the years, as I’ve taught story and writing, I can see the development of my own writing craft.

3. How have you incorporated your own experiences of growing up in Oregon and Hawaii in your books? 

Swimming Sideways, the first book in the YA series I published this year incorporates both Hawaii and Oregon. The protagonist, Abby is part Hawaiian grappling with her identity as both a young woman and as a native Hawaiian in a foreign land (and attitude) of Oregon. My experiences in both places – growing up in Oregon, moving to Hawaii, teaching Hawaiian students, being a mother of Hawaiian children – have definitely influenced the initial writing of the book, however, given that Abby is Native Hawaiian, I also drew heavily from my Native Hawaiian friends and colleagues to write her appropriately. I would never want to appropriate a culture to misrepresent it in edited snapshots. Aside from that, I remember what it was like to be a young adult, and working with teens has kept me connected to the high drama and vitality of those visceral experiences.

The other two titles: The Ugly Truth (also published) and the third book (to be released in 2019) are all set in the fictional town of Cantos, Oregon. I grew up in Oregon and it wasn’t until I graduated from university and married my Hawaiian sweetheart that I moved to Hawaii.  I’ve lived in Hawaii for almost as many years as I have Oregon at this point in my life, so both places have embedded their power in my identity. That makes it difficult to escape those attitudes, though I do make a conscious effort to develop characters who aren’t a reflection of me. And while I am a woman, I definitely find writing male characters so much easier. I attribute it to being only one of two girls during my youth in my extended Oregon family of all males.

4. You recently read Becoming by Michelle Obama. You mention this quote, “Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result…’ How or why is it a favourite?

The quotation spoke to me on many different levels, but I think as an artist it spoke the loudest. Creative endeavours are so lonely. I find myself willingly trapped in my own head a lot, but there’s a danger to being there in that lonely creative space, because – and I think you as a writer will understand – the self-doubt is a giant monster we are continually slaying. After so many rejections of my work as I attempted to walk the traditional publishing path, the self-doubt was giant and co-mingled with fear, it was paralyzing.  I stopped writing for some time, afraid because I didn’t think I was good enough – that I had failed. I think that’s why this quotation stood out. It’s always why I think about how important a fellowship of creatives is in order to work through those doubts. I think about CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien and their writer’s group without which neither The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia would exist.

5. Tell us a little about your next release/WIP.

I’m working on the final installment of the story that swirls around the characters of Abby (Swimming Sideways), Seth (The Ugly Truth) and Gabe. The third book, told from Gabe’s point of view, is entitled The Bones of Who We Are, and I expect it will be out this coming October.

The three books are contemporary Young Adult novels with a coming-of-age slant. While I call the books a series, a better description might be companion novels. All three narratives are distinct in that they are told from a different character’s point of view. The period of time is the same, but by telling the story from varied perspectives, it highlights the idea that we can never really understand someone outside of ourselves without really trying to understand their story.

6. Are any of the characters in your novels based on yourself?

No. Not really, though if you’ve read Swimming Sideways and The Ugly Truth, I do see parts of myself, my friends, my family, my experiences in situations or in conversations. It is the nature of writing and the writer, I think, to draw from our experiences and twist them as the narrative warrants. While the stories aren’t specifically about me, there are touches of who I am in the layers of the prose. For example, Seth’s story which is about abuse and alcoholism isn’t one that I have personally lived through, but there are things like working on his truck with his dad, the lockers in the high school, or in the love of music that are ghosts from my own memory and experience.

7. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

Am I allowed to say all of them? (LOL). When I first started writing this series of stories, it started as a paranormal fantasy with demons and angels. I was inspired to write it because I hated how Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series dealt with Jacob – the contrived pairing of him with Bella’s daughter really bothered me. Abby – as a character – had already been on my mind so, I began writing her story which introduced me to Seth and Gabe. Shortly after I finished the first novel which I’d tentatively titled Fallen, the novel Fallen by Lauren Kate and Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick were published with a very similar premises (Fallen angels, demon antagonist), and I was crushed creatively. I stopped writing (here’s the full-circle moment of that quotation by Michelle Obama).

Seth, however, was persistent and wouldn’t stop talking to me. I don’t blame him since at the end of the original Fallen story I’d taken him into hell and left him there for Gabe to come and rescue (Ha, ha, ha). Seth kept saying to me: “you can’t leave me here.” So, I did return to his story years later. I decided to draw Seth’s story out of the paranormal world and make it a stand-alone novel. I spent time getting to know him. In the original story, Seth wasn’t very likeable (which still remains in Abby’s story Swimming Sideways), and I wondered why. As I began to get to know him, I realized the struggle of his story, and as I began to understand him as a character so deeply flawed, in understanding his why I began to love him. In the rewrite, I brought Seth into the contemporary world (though there’s still some magical realism in his story) and that is how The Ugly Truth came to be.

To be honest, though, I find that my favourite is whoever I’m writing – because right now, I adore Gabe. He hits my heart strings in a different way than Seth but I think I might have a thing for the flawed hero.

8. How do you organise your writing process and how do you prepare your books for release?

I journal every day and that is where I start my writing day: First with some prayer and study (I am a Christian, so I spend time studying the Bible), then I journal to reflect on my personal life, choices and experiences. The reflections always take me toward whatever creative endeavour I’m working on and provides me the space and quiet to ponder the questions I have on my mind. I find that journaling is a great way to get me focused and present.

In the midst of my process, I use a calendar to keep me honest to the writing. In it, I set my monthly goals (which is usually a specific goal like “develop character A” or “explore conflict between B and C” rather than a word count. Word counts freak me out and tend to paralyze my creativity). Then, every day, I record the work I do with a quick check in. For example, I might note: Gabe (the book), fight (the scene).

With regards to release, the first book Swimming Sideways, I released to Amazon in October 2018 (I’m relatively new to the independent author world) and shared it with all of my contacts on Facebook. In a fortuitous series of events, I’d already started an author Instagram, an Author page on FB and my own website. I began to use to those platforms promote the work. I’ve been really humbled by the response to Swimming Sideways which has been reviewing at five stars. Especially after coming from a place of such doubt and fear.

For The Ugly Truth I did a cover reveal (the book was released December 2018), which I’m not sure if it was successful or not. Sales are slow, but I anticipated a slow start because it’s realistic when no one knows you or your work. I’m working to build an author platform which I know takes time (even if I don’t want it to because I’m impatient). I’m attempting my first give away on Instagram, and I have made a wonderful world-wide group of writer friends on Instagram who have reviewed my books and provided a space for an interview (Thank you, Soulla!). That has been a blessing because it makes me realize I’m not alone. Sometimes Instagram can make me feel like I am failing in comparison to everyone else, but I return to the belief that I’m doing what I can and maybe the time isn’t mine to worry about. Truthfully, I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m just doing it because I LOVE writing, NOT writing isn’t an option, and I want it to be my day job, too.

9. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy? Why?

I just described it; self-promotion and marketing myself (my work) doesn’t come naturally. I’m actually a perfectionist which I know Anne Lamott warned is “the voice of the oppressor,” but when I do something, I want it to be exceptional. So, because I don’t know much about marketing, sales, and publicity and because it isn’t natural to this introvert, it’s a struggle. That said, I do have a healthy enough ego to believe in the work I’m trying to get out there, so I’ll step outside of the comfort zone and do what needs to be done to build that platform. If it means sharing stories that I believe in, then so be it. That, and I try not to take “no” personally.

10. What do you do to relax or recharge and how does it help your writing?

Read! Read! And Read! Stephen King wrote about the importance of reading in one of my all-time favourite reads On Writing: a memoir of the craft. I learn so much from other writers at varying stages of their own careers. I study story and craft and find ways in which maybe I’m falling short and see different approaches which help me refine my own approach to the craft. I love to watch movies (which my husband and I enjoy together. We have a website and Facebook page where we review movies). This is also about studying story for me.

I enjoy spending time with my family, but they don’t necessarily re-energize me since I tend to be introverted (they are soul suckers, but I love them so very much) but being with them gets me out of my own head where I can often get lost. I love going to the beach – the sound of the ocean, the feel of the water. I’m always listening to music (Spotify is incredible) because music inspires story in my mind. A moving piece of music can move my imagination. I enjoy traveling (and would love to do more of it). It offers me perspective, new experiences, and pushes my comfort zone which I know is essential as a developing human and as a creative writer, but my favourite place to be is home.

11. Are you a planner or a pantser?

I think I’m a planner. I’d like to be a pantser – and maybe scenes are born from the spontaneity of a moment, a sound, a scent, a song, a word – but once the scene is written, I have too many questions. I begin to answer them and that is where the planning is born.

12. What are your three big plans for 2019?

  1. Release The Bones of Who We Are (Gabe’s Story)
  2. Begin work on a new project. One is a mixed genre fantasy/Sci-Fi that I worked on for Nanowrimo this year. I’d like to complete a solid, cohesive draft since the 70,000 words I wrote for Nanwrimo are a mess.
  3. I also have a new idea in the works for Nanowrimo 2019.

 

It’s been a pleasure having you on A Cup of Conversation Cami and wish you all the best with your writing and new books in 2019…and thank you readers for joining us. You can connect with Cami on any of the links below as well as have a closer look at her books too.

Until next time, Happy reading, Happy writing, Happy you.

Soulla x 

Links:

Twitter: @peeledandcored

Instagram: @cl.walters

Facebook: CLWalters (@clwaltersofficial)

Website: http://www.clwalters.net

Blog: http://www.clwalters.net/blog

Amazon link to books: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01IC3RH7K

Welcome to the first A Cup of Conversation of 2019! I’m kicking off with author Anton Marks who I was introduced to by Anne John-Ligali at the London Book Fair in March 2017 and who I have since not only had the pleasure to talk to about books and his works but have also read his book 69! I am starting off here with a real bang as Sci Fi, Fantasy and supernatural Thrillers are genres so many readers enjoy and his books have been described as being “fast paced, witty yet very, very dark…”, having “some fantastic action and quite really well written scenes of intimacy…” and of his novel 69 as a “futuristic thriller that definitely stirs the reader’s imagination and wonder…”.

So I think I’ve built the anticipation and intrigue enough now so let’s join Anton Marks as he spills all about his writing, inspiration and reveals which author he would most like to meet! 

1. When did you start writing creatively?

I started writing creatively from a young age? I was bitten by the writing bug from primary school. I watched a lot of TV – nothing much has changed, and I wanted to write continuing stories of my favourite programs. I guess my short stories were more like comics because I had intermittent illustrations running through it. I didn’t care what it was, I was excited to write it and my small audience of classmates was too.

2. In your own words you write fiction ‘that highlights the black experience through the lens of the extraordinary’. What does this mean?

I grew up with an insatiable appetite for reading. I was drawn to stories that had an adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Horror element to them. As I matured I began to realise these stories that were so dear to my heart were written by authors who seemed to believe people of colour did not exist in the worlds they created. I vowed to one day write stories about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Highlighting the black experience through the lens of the extraordinary for me means including my African – Caribbean heritage within the pages of any story I write and not being afraid to include my passion for the fantastic.

3. How have you incorporated your own experiences of growing up in Jamaica in your books?

I tend to incorporate characters in my stories who are of Jamaican heritage giving me the opportunity to add some of my life experiences of growing up there. Like all countries the island occupies its own unique place in the world. It adds verisimilitude to whatever tale I tell when I weave in these personal anecdotes. I think readers appreciate truth, when it’s being expressed as the written word or spoken.

4. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?

A steamfunk novella called Black Gods Drums. One of its themes was unity is strength and it was also a wake-up call for me to realize there are some great speculative fiction stories out there. I need to keep improving my craft.

5. Tell us a little about your next release/WIP.

Good II be Bad is the second in what will be a series of supernatural thrillers. It’s the continued adventures of three mystical gifted women who have been ordained with the responsibility of maintaining the delicate balance of good and evil. Their first adventure in the novel Bad II the Bone had the girls battling a very powerful Witchdoctor. In their second outing in the novel Good II be Bad they come up against a ruthless Vampire queen. With ever novel I write about the trio I enjoy the experience more and more. It’s great getting to know them in the quiet moments as well as the fights.

6. Are any of the characters in your novels based on yourself?

Not specifically but I share different aspects of my character with the characters in my books. From the antagonist to the protagonist and even walk on characters.

7. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

If there is a character in any of my books that I gravitate to the most it would be Joshua N’Gon. Joshua is the fourteen year old protagonist of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy YA novel called Joshua N’Gon: Last Prince of Alkebulahn. I like him because he has a bright spark of passion about him. Everything he does is an adventure filled with vast possibility. Maybe I created him as a reminder that I need to re-capture that spirit of adventure myself. All I know is writing the character fills me with optimism.

8. How do you organise your writing process and how do you prepare your books for release?

My writing process begins with the idea. If it’s a new concept I have a scene in my head with the main character. If it’s a continuing series then I’ve worked out a rough premise and plot. Depending on the complexity of the story will depend on whether I create a mind- map or a chapter by chapter break down. First draft is to get the rough shape of the novel. I need at least five drafts working with my editor to bang the manuscript in shape for publication. I didn’t mention that the cover idea usually appears with the concept of the story. I get my graphics artist to start working on it from early on. Percolating in the background with everything else that is happening, is my marketing strategy. It is ideally implemented six month before launch date. Within that marketing campaign I have my street team read and review the book in advance. My final task is to produce two versions of the finished manuscript for digital and paperback reproduction.

9. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy? Why?

I enjoy most aspects of the writer’s life; my challenge is the quantity of tasks required to be successful as a self-published author. I definitely need a virtual assistant.

10. If you were able to meet any author, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?

Stephen King. His stories are amazing and his imagination is prodigious. He has an uncanny ability to focus on aspects of the characters inner world that you wouldn’t expect to be not just entertaining but vital to the story. I’d want to know how he effortlessly brings his characters to vivid life.

11. Are you a planner or a pantser?

A bit of both.

12. What’s on your current to-do list?

A short story with my son and the second in a YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy tetralogy.

Thank you Anton for a wonderful interview and I wish you lots of continued success with your writing. If you would like to connect with Anton his links and social media accounts are listed below. 

 

Thank you too for joining us and until next time,

Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy you!

Soulla xxx

Links:

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/antonmarks/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/antonmarks1

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/marksman.studio

Website:www.antonmarks.com

Amazon link to books:

Omega Point short story – http://bit.ly/omegapoint1

Bad II the Bone – http://bit.ly/badIIthebone-US

Chauffeur Audio Book – http://bit.ly/chauffeur-audio

Joshua N’Gon:Last Prince of Alkebulahn – http://bit.ly/LPOA1US

Messiah Short story – http://amzn.to/2xs575q

Bushman – http://bit.ly/Bushman1

69 – http://bit.ly/69thenovel

Dancehall – http://bit.ly/dancehallthenovel

I wanted to mark the beginning of 2019 by looking back at what a fabulous group of authors I interviewed for my A Cup of Conversation author interview series.

I think I covered many different genres and styles of writing, authors at different points along their writing journeys and careers and from all over the world and I have since read many of their books too!

So as a recap I’m sharing their names and book links with you so you can build your reading list ready for 2019.

Everything is here from SciFi to Romance, Coming of Age to Historical Fiction, Rom-com to Young Adult, Fantasy to Women’s Fiction, Thrillers to Crime reads, Magic and Fairytales…

So Happy New Year everyone and Happy Reading!

January 2018

 

Heather MacKinnon – https://www.amazon.com/Changed-Heather-MacKinnon-ebook/dp/B01M9IU0EJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515737047&sr=8-1&keywords=changed+by+heather+mackinnon

Phyllis Duncan – http://bit.ly/PADuncan

March 2018

 

Jackie Baldwin – Here and Here

Aaron Brinker – Author.to/aaronbrinker

April 2018

 

Anne John-Ligali – https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=anne+john-ligali+books

Chris Toedt – https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Toedt/e/B077Z25W9Q

May 2018

 

Ian Sutherland – http://geni.us/AyYLB

June 2018

 

Effie Kammenou – https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Saga-3-Book/dp/B07DCBXGGJ/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1528001925&sr=8-5&keywords=effie kammenou

Elisa Gianoncelli – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kindle-Store-Elisa-Gianoncelli/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A341677031%2Cp_27%3AElisa%20Gianoncelli

July 2018

 

Kristy Jo Volchko – https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00BGCZGQY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1530929893&sr=1-1&redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

Chariss K. Walker – http://www.amazon.com/Chariss-K.-Walker/e/B004QZNKRK

August 2018

 

Andrew Mowere – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FPWXRP2

Mark O’Neill – https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B074LCQN1D

September 2018

 

Amy J. Markstahler – http://getbook.at/LHOTShttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1720226148/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1https://www.amazon.com/Amy-J.-Markstahler/e/B07F5MBYQJ/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Cassie Faber – https://linktr.ee/authorcassiefaber

October 2018

 

Tina-Marie Miller – https://amzn.to/2Cy3aqm

November 2018

 

Joe Congel – amazon.com/author/joecongel

December 2018

 

Patricia M. Osborne – http://mybook.to/HouseofGrace

 

 

A bit about me.

I’m an author of adult fiction and have two books – Broken Pieces of Tomorrow, coming of age and The Summer Will Come, historical fiction – both with a thread of romance running through them available via Amazon as well as Sunshine after Rain, a collection of poetry inspired by old sayings and proverbs.

Before writing I was a teacher in a secondary school where my specialism was Business Studies which I taught at GCSE and A Level and BTEC Levels 2 and 3. I was also Head of PSHE, Deputy Director of Learning for the Sixth Form and Head of UCAS. I taught English one-to-one as part of a programme to improve overall grades at GCSE too. I was busy!

Since leaving my career in education I have devoted my time to a number of different roles; writing, marketing to for a fashion brand and for a local private school, editing, ghost blogging and private tuition including creative writing classes. I am still busy!

How I came about writing the 12 part Writer’s Guide.

This guide came about as a result of my observations across social media regarding the sort of information new writers were looking for and often had to hunt across multiple sources to find, as well as my own experience of writing my books, publishing them and marketing them. Finding the right information at the right time took up a lot of my time and energy and I found it tedious and often quite stressful. There didn’t seem to be a one-stop shop or site to help me.

It is an introductory yet comprehensive guide with examples, links to professional writing organisations and associations and suppliers of and experts in the fields of publishing and marketing too.

It is a mini encyclopaedia of everything a new writer needs to know in order to successfully write, publish and market their book, whether their work is fiction or non-fiction.

What are the 12 sections?

Quite simply:

  • Part One – Completing Your First Draft
  • Part Two – Writing Fiction or Non-Fiction
  • Part Three – Knowing Your Genre
  • Part Four – Researching Your Book
  • Part Five – Editing For Your Self-published Book
  • Part Six – Proofreading Your Book
  • Part Seven – Rewriting Your Draft
  • Part Eight – Finding a Self-Publisher Online Self-publishing
  • Part Nine – Printing Your Own Book
  • Part Ten – Off-Line Marketing To Sell Your Book
  • Part Eleven – Online Marketing To Sell Your Book
  • Part Twelve – So Your Book Is Printed
  • Bibliography – Links, Sources and Authors Quoted

Where is the Writer’s Guide available to buy?

It’s available via my website. Go to the red band at the top of the page…let it roll across and then click when prompted) and there is a simple payment option to buy the guide as well as extracts and information there too.

Any questions?

Please just email me or contact me via one of my social media platforms (all on this website)

 

 

I wrote this poem – friends…discombobulated – over a year ago when I first started working seriously on the manuscript for my third book – currently titled Trust is a Big Word – though this may change.

For those of you not up to date with my next story it is about a friendship which begins online, across Twitter, as a bit of harmless flirtation and which ends up crossing the line and developing into an illicit affair, the main character is married.

It is a story about why so many people stay in relationships and make do, thinking they are not worth more, getting so comfortable in their relationship they lose their own identity and how one casual comment can turn their world upside down, make life worth living again.

It is a story of love and lust, of friendship and more and of how accepting who you are can create a whole new world where you can live, and breathe and laugh…it’s going to be an incredible story.

And in the meantime this poem catches some of the essence of the book…hope you enjoy it.

I always believed you would be the one

From the wannabe excitement to the

Fat belly diets and silly football jokes

Besties through the good and the bad

But then something changed

Like ships on the wild sea, discombobulated

The clouds leaked unwanted watching

Into what became a useless, wrong lazy love

From gay spring happiness to utter desperate failure

Our love from virgin pure

To a disgusting addiction, intoxication

Now unusable, a one-sided single passion it seemed

Ears listened no more, lips moved wordless

Emerging, sounds solidifying on the ice air

Likes and fans, watching moving Twitter blue

Our bed a cake of disappointment

Bitter taste on our tongues,

Like a telling off from our mums

So we turned away from each other

To never return, to never say I could love you again.

 

Thank you for reading and I hope to share some of my writing with you again soon. Until next time, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy You.

Soulla xxx

PS: My poetry collection Sunshine after Rain is available as an e-book download on Amazon…why not take a look here? Mwah xxx

 

 

 

Welcome to A Cup of Conversation with author Patricia M. Osborne who wrote her first poem when she was in Infants School! Things have certainly moved on since then and she now has an MA in Creative Writing via the University of Brighton. She has a new book coming out soon and shares her writing journey with us here so let’s have a read…

1. When did you start writing creatively?

I’ve been writing creatively for as long as I can remember. I won my first poetry competition when I was around six or seven. The poem was about clothes, but that’s all I remember. It was only when I took up creative writing during my Open University BA degree that I started to take writing seriously. At first, learning all the technical tools stifled my creativity but as time went on, I found my creativity returned and my writing improved.

2. How have your interests outside of writing supported your writing journey?

I love walking and that helps because it gives me the excuse to wander around inspiring places like my local park and lake, and National Trust Properties. I also like to play the piano which clears my head.

3. You have an MA in Creative Writing via the University of Brighton. How has this helped your writing?

The MA has introduced me to so many wonderful resources, given me the opportunity to meet lots of writers and artists, and played a big part in expanding my platform and network. There was always plenty of opportunity to workshop and critique with peers.

4. You write novels as well as poetry. How does your process for writing each differ?

They are different, yes, but for me they go hand in hand. Writing poetry encourages me to ensure that every word counts in my novel writing. Working on a novel takes me time to warm up and I don’t always have that time whereas  I can start a poem even when time is short

5. Tell us a little about your next novel, The Coal Miner’s Son.

The Coal Miner’s Son runs alongside House of Grace, A Family Saga. It may be read as a sequel or stand-alone. It begins in 1962: when nine-year-old George is ripped away from his family after tragedy strikes the village coal mine. Six years on, and living with his noble grandparents, he discovers he’s been living a lie. He feels betrayed and unsure who to trust.

House of Grace is set in the 50s and 60s and opens in 1950 with sixteen-year-old, Grace, leaving boarding school. All she wants is to become a fashion designer but her father has other plans for her.

(In October 2017, House of Grace won a ‘Chill with a Book Readers’ Award.’)

Back to ‘The Coal Miner’s Son’, I was hoping to release this in December 2018 but the MA dissertation took over more than I’d anticipated. I’ve now resolved to finish it by the end of December with a view to release in March 2019.

6. Who designs your book covers and how much input do you have?

House of Grace was a joint project with Create Imaginations (now ceased trading) designing the picture and PJ Formatting and Cover Design did the rest.

I had lots of input with the cover illustration. I told Paul Beeley, Create Imaginations, exactly what I wanted. It took a few drafts to get it right but we got there in the end. I’m sure you’ll agree that the cover for House of Grace is quite striking. I intend ‘The Coal Miner’s Son’ to be just as eye catching.

7. How do you ensure your books are ready for release?

Firstly, I make sure my manuscripts are thoroughly edited by a qualified person, correctly formatted, and ensure it has a professional cover. It has to be every bit as good as a cover that a traditional publisher would use. I employed PJ Formatting and Cover Design to complete the formatting for House of Grace.

8. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?

The last book I read was Pat Barker’s Regeneration. I suppose the lasting message for me, was just how tough those poor soldiers in the trenches had it. Even when their comrades had been blown to pieces they had to stay put. Horrendous. So important that these stories are passed on to the younger generation to hopefully keep wars at bay.

9. What aspect of the writer’s life do you least enjoy? Why?

Probably the marketing. I actually love marketing and networking but it mean less time to write.

10. If you were able to meet any author, alive or dead, who would you choose and why? 

I think I’d quite like to meet Barbara Taylor Bradford as it’s been said by some of my readers that my writing style is like her early writing.

11. Are you a planner or a pantser?

A bit of both although I normally like to know the ending. However, I changed my mind about the ending for ‘The Coal Miner’s Son,’ so in this instance, definitely more pantser.

12. What’s on your current to-do list?

I have a couple of poetry collections that I’d like to get out.

  • When I was Poet in Residence to my local Victorian Park, I wrote a poetry portfolio for my module assignment. This collection uses a fictional timeline to narrate the story of the park and is broken into four sections.
  • I have worked on another poetry portfolio for my MA dissertation. This was on myth, folklore and legends around trees. However, I still have a few more poems to write to add to this collection.
  • And of course my priority at the moment is to complete ‘The Coal Miner’s Son.’

Patricia thank you for your lovely message, “Once again Soulla, thank you for having me here. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions.” and I wish you all the best with the completion of The Coal Miner’s Son. 

Thank you readers for joining me this week and you can connect with Patricia across any of the links below. Until next time, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy You! 

With much love, Soulla x 

Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PMOsborneWriter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/patriciamosbornewriter/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/triciaosbornewriter/?eid=ARAWl6kX-Z4ENmaNIYhvFHIqRBpmnA8ALjtVhY_WLYHM1GtvkhdCcDVPUdzOp7wN8BmGkRkmGsHJD2ZJ

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/feed/

Website / Blog:    patriciamosbornewriter.wordpress.com

Email: patricia.m.osbornewriter@gmail.com

Amazon link to books:

http://mybook.to/HouseofGrace

Copyright ©  soulla-author.com - All rights reserved.