Who am I? Well, about an hour ago, I was the middle-aged ditz in the market who tried to pay for groceries by swiping her AARP card instead of her debit card. Last week, I was the editor so engrossed in her work that when the phone rang, I answered it with “Put me on your Do Not Call List,” and hung up. It was my mother.

Like most people, I come from a dysfunctional family which is not necessarily a bad thing because otherwise I’d have to take responsibility for my screw-ups. I always like to look on the bright side.

But I guess the appropriate response to ‘who am I?’ would be a description of what I do. I’m a freelance researcher, writer and editor. For my own amusement, I also do collage art. I’ve attended six different universities, having lived on both U.S. coasts (north and south) and in Montréal, with my undergrad work in French and grad work in Clinical Psych. I’ve worked in psychiatric settings, as a technical writer, and briefly as a disco Playboy bunny. I’ve owned a construction company and an agency that paired writers with jobs. The most interesting job offer I ever received was as a shepherdess on a sheep ranch in Québec. I currently reside in the peace and tranquility of a small peninsula in the Pacific Ocean in Washington state.

What compelled you to write your first book?

I first wrote Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History after reading and translating into English the memoirs of my great-great uncle, Aron Simanovitch, who was both friend and secretary to Rasputin for a decade. If my ancestor had portrayed Rasputin in the same light as history, books and film have, I’d have thought little of it except for the fact that it is a lively account of the underbelly of Petersburg high society. However, Simanovitch, a Jewish jeweler and gambling parlor owner, also recounted many incidents of Rasputin’s aid to the poor, the ill and the minorities — most notably, the Jews who were denied most rights, by law, and were largely confined to The Pale of Settlement. With anti-Semitism as government policy, Rasputin’s actions were viewed by many as treasonous and, together with his equal rights and anti-war stances, the aristocracy sought to discredit him by attributing evil intentions to him. Their account became known as ‘history.’

I had originally intended only to publish my English translation of Simanovitch’s memoir, but I felt if I were to make my point, I needed to research my ancestor’s claims and the incidents he described, in addition to giving some background on tsarist Russia and its treatment of Jews, in order to place Rasputin in a broader historical context. After more than a decade of research, my first book, Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History does just that.

What compels you to be a writer?

I have no idea why I’m compelled to write. Perhaps it’s the medium in which I best express myself. I just know I was raised being read to and reading avidly. It’s possible that the little artists’ colony I call my home town influenced me. Of all the artists I knew, the writers were the most appealing to me. I loved the idea of sequestering myself in a room with just the images and thoughts in my mind, and playing with words until they conveyed what I felt. I think the question of why I write is best left alone, lest any explanation impede the process.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s. What are their titles; which is your favorite if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about.

Once I had published Rasputin and The Jews, I turned my attention back to my translation of Simanovitch’s memoir. I spent several drafts tightening it up, eliminating redundancies, and annotating the events and people he cited. Just two months ago, I published the first English translation of the memoir, under the title Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary by Aron Simanovitch. It is the story of his time in Petersburg, with Rasputin, including Rasputin’s murder and its fallout. The book is written in the first person, in Simanovitch’s voice.

I can’t really say I have a favorite between the two books. They’re companion pieces. One is an eyewitness account and the other puts that account in a more global context.

Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?

Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History has not only received glowing reviews, but has earned the following credits:

  • 2012 Readers’ Favorite Awards Finalist 
  • 2012 Sharp Writ Awards Finalist 
  • 2012 IndieReader Awards Finalist

Do you belong to any writing forums or organizations that have helped spur your career as a writer?

Yes, I’ve found Goodreads and LinkedIn particularly instrumental for connecting with other authors, learning of and sharing sources for promotion, and for obtaining reviews, as well as for simply chatting about writing and publishing.

Earlier in my career, I attended writing workshops which were useful for critiques, as well as for honing critiquing skills.

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

I can’t have any sound around me at all when I write. Anything that distracts me from my train of thought is unwelcome. That being said, I’ve been told that I generally don’t respond even to my name being called from eight feet away when I’m ‘in the zone.’ Either that or I’m losing my hearing, in which case it soon won’t matter if music is playing or not. If there is any music, it cannot have lyrics or those words will somehow wind up in my manuscript. And the music cannot transport me in any way, such as urging me to dance, daydream, drum on my desk, or do the armchair bebop.

Hey, let’s get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

First of all, I’d like my epitaph to read “Old writers never die; they just submit.” I’d like my obituary to include the statement: “Her greatest epiphany was the irony of having taken acid in the 60s and antacid in her sixties, confirming her belief in Newton’s concept that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction.” I also wouldn’t mind it mentioned that: “Delin Colón was an activist who advocated the liberation of oppressed prepositions which had long been banned from freely ending sentences.”

Actually, let me rewrite that epitaph: It might have more impact if it simply read: “See you soon!”

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like?

You’ll be sorry you asked. It’s not a pretty picture. The day begins at 5:30 a.m. when my internal clock wakes me for no other reason than habit. Coffee comes first. I’ll eventually consume the whole pot. I can’t bother wasting my time dressing, so pajama bottoms and a t-shirt are my working wear. By six, if I’m writing, I’m sitting at the dining room table surrounded by books and index cards. I write with a ballpoint pen on a legal pad. I feel closer to the work without a machine between me and it. There are dust bunnies under the furniture and a thin layer on counter and tabletops. (Perhaps you didn’t want this much detail.) The carpeting is crying out to be vacuumed but I’m told that a clean house is the sign of a dull woman.

If I’m editing or promoting my books, I’m at the computer by six, in the same outfit, but in my tiny home office surrounded by stacks of files, papers, books, bills and many sticky notes, some of which are illegible. At around 11 a.m., I’ll have a bowl of cereal to counteract the caffeine-induced gnashing of my teeth. Before I know it, it’s 5 or 6 p.m. and time to shut it down for the day. It’s not an interesting scene — fairly boring in fact — but it is disgusting, if you have that kind of quirky, voyeuristic tendency.

How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

I first found and read the 1930 French edition of Simanovitch’s memoirs in the late 1990s. It took me about two years to complete the first draft of my English translation. Since I decided to publish my researched work first, I spent the next dozen years reading and taking notes. It took me another couple of years to write several drafts of Rasputin and The Jews which was finally published in April, 2011. Overall, it was fifteen years or so from the time I read Simanovitch’s memoir until I published my own book. Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary came out two years later. I’d never have guessed both of those endeavors would take so long, but it was time well spent and I didn’t have a deadline.

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by or with your writing?

The primary purpose I’d like to achieve with both of these books, naturally, is for people to take a second look at Rasputin through the eyes of people who were not out to do him in, and to see how circumstances conspired to make of him a scapegoat for Russia’s ills. I have been in touch with Rasputin’s great granddaughter who tours Europe lecturing on the subject. She’s been appreciative of my efforts.

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

The greater lesson revealed in these two books is the adage that history is written by the powerful, not by the poor, the illiterate or the disenfranchised. History is a matter of perspective. The history of tsarist Russia from the point of view of the nobility is far different than that of the poor Jew who feared for his life in The Pale of Settlement. One has to consider the source.

It’s said that the editing process of publishing a novel with a publisher can be grueling and often more difficult than actually writing the story. Do you think this is true for you? How did you feel about editing your masterpiece?

While I am self-published, I don’t find editing grueling at all. I’m very big on it. My words are far from golden and I’m self-motivated to edit relentlessly. Generally, I’ll write at least a half dozen drafts, honing and streamlining, before passing the manuscript on to my editor, after which I’ll write further drafts, thanks to my editor’s discerning eye. It’s actually a part of the process I enjoy, kind of like a literary “Where’s Waldo?” I want to get the manuscript right, and if I’m not willing to polish my creation, I’m devaluing my own work.

Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined?

I had not imagined feeling any other way than I had been prior to publication. In the past, I’ve had poems and articles published in journals here and there. The printed copy gets placed on a bookshelf and life goes on. Having published two books was no different. I’m the same person I was before, so I’m not sure what would make me feel differently. Perhaps that’s because, for me, the actual process of writing and editing is the high point. It’s the time during which I’m most engaged in the work. The act of publishing the book is anticlimactic. At that point, the work and I are no longer one. We part ways except for the business end of promoting. Now that’s by far the most grueling part of the entire process: promotion.
Now, use this space to tell us more about who you are. Anything you want your readers to know. Include information on where to find your books, any blogs you may have, or how a reader can learn more about you and writing.

Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary by Aron Simanovitch (translated and annotated by Delin Colón) is available on Kindle and in paperback at:
http://www.amazon.com/RASPUTIN-The-Memoirs-his-Secretary/dp/1484925858/

Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History by Delin Colón is also available on Kindle and in paperback at:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1461027756
The Real Rasputin is my website about the books: http://therealrasputin.wordpress.com/

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Michy. I’ve enjoyed this interview and hope readers will, too.

 

       

To introduce myself, I am Carlos Aranda; I am a new Christian author. I just released my first book out on October 1st. I was saved at the age of seven in the Royal Rangers program at my local Assemblies of God church. I walked with the Lord through my teen years serving on mission’s trips abroad to build churches, along with local outreach ministries in the surrounding communities. Almost twenty years later I experienced what can only be called a burning bush experience, where God gave me the wisdom and instructions to write my book. This book has truly been a labor of love and has been such a blessing.
Tell us a little bit about your book/s. What are their titles; which is your favorite if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about. Pay particular attention to your most recent book and/or your first book:

My first book is “My Conversations with God” it is a biblical perspective on how God wants us to view and get through the trials in our lives. It is life’s lessons that we sometimes see and others that are there but are not seen. It shows us how we should see things and what God’s word says about our situations.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

I am currently working on a sequel to my first book and also a book about the various men in the bible.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

It was an amazing day. I felt such a sense of accomplishment.

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

I listen to praise and worship music.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

The Spirit of God and His words of grace, love and mercy even for those who don’t feel as if they deserve it. His love surpasses all things that we may have done and making sure that this message is shared and applicable to our lives is what drives me to continue to write.

What one thing are you the most proud of in your life?

My Children, because it has not been easy growing up the way that they have had to.

The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

Each one of the stories in my book are all experiences that I have gone through or have been shown, so yes a little of me goes into each part.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

Dr Charles Stanley, Bishop TD Jakes and Dr. Cindy Trimm, have all influenced my writing and it’s style flow.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

The Hardy Boys mystery series.

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

Dr. Cindy Trimm is my favorite author currently. I am reading books now on spiritual warfare and its basis in the bible.

Hey, let’s get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

I would hope that they would say that my writing is a treasure not just for now but for future generations. I would hope that they would say that I was kind, open, and inspirational. I don’t take any credit for my writings. They are God’s word I was just the vessel to share the word. I will never take the credit due to God. Im just honored He would choose to use me.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?

So much of my book was handwritten until I was able to get a computer. I wrote so much of it while in my car waiting for my children to get out of school. I would park in a nice shaded area and put on some praise music or listen to Pastors speak on the radio, then listen and write what God was showing me either through something I had been through or something that was important for people to understand to help them to get through.

Do you watch television? If so, what are your favorite shows? Does television influence of inspire your writing?

I watch a variety of evening shows, but for any kind of inspiration I will watch TD Jakes The Potters touch, or Everyday living with Joyce Meyers, and Destined to Reign with Pastor Joseph Prince.

What about movies? Same as above.

Faith like Potatoes, The Gospel

Focusing on your most recent (or first) book, tell our readers what genre your book is and what popular author you think your writing style in this book is most like.

My book is considered Christian non-fiction/Christian living. My style is most like Dr. Charles Stanley.

How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

My first book only took three months. I thought that I might take longer but the words just flowed out and there was no stopping them. I didn’t have any kind of writers block. God’s word just came and I was finished before I knew it.

Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

I want to acknowledge God, who placed me in the churches I needed to be in to learn and grow.

Is there any one particular book that when you read it, you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I’d written that one!”?

Dr. Cindy Trimm’s “The prayer warriors way”

Thinking about your writing career, is there anything you’d go back and do differently now that you have been published?

I would not have relied completely on the publishers editors to do the full editing of my book. I would have asked at least two other separate people to read over and make corrections.

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by or with your writing?

My main goal and purpose of this book is to teach others what God has for them and how best to get through our situations the way God prefers us to.

How has having a book or being published in a book changed your life?

It has made me more accountable to how I live my own life and has opened my eyes to the needs of others and how sharing God’s word impacts their lives.

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

God’s love, mercy, grace and joy are there for everyone in all situations. Always know who you are and who’s you are.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where?

A radio interview on www.Artistfirst.com on November 11 at 7pm eastern. Also a radio interview on my local Christian radio station on November 12 at 6:15pm. Pacific time. On KFIA radio sacramento ca.

It’s said that the editing process of publishing a novel with a publisher is can be grueling and often more difficult than actually writing the story. Do you think this is true for you? How did you feel about editing your masterpiece?

Editing and layout through the publisher was a nightmare. I had to stay on them constantly to get anything done in a reasonable manner, they missed many things that makes it seem as if they really didn’t even read over the manuscript at all. Some misspellings and word errors that made no sense and they didn’t even catch them. It was very frustrating and now I know to have a few other eyes go over the work they said they finished. Overall after I made all the corrections I am happy with the final product.

Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined?

It is not too different really. It’s an honor and a wonderful thing to see my name and book listed on so many different sites and knowing that the words of God that I was given to write are getting out to many people around the world.

Anything else you want your readers to know?

My book is available on all eReaders, nook, Kindle, and the iTunes marketplace. It is available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, any local Christian bookstore,Walmart.com and many other sites around the world. The book is available on Amazon UK, FR,GR and Canada. It can also be purchased directly from the publisher at Tatepublishg.com.

I have a blog and more information on my book at http://carlosaranda.tateauthor.com I am also on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/losman1976 or @losman1976. I also have a fan page at http://www.facebook.com/author.Carlosaranda All of my sites allow for comments and questions and I am diligent to answer and get back to all who write to me. I am accessible and welcome all who have questions, prayer needs or just comments. I thank everyone who takes the time to visit my sites or buys and reads my book may you be as blessed reading it as I was blessed writing it.

Deserea Morse (Blackberry Del’Le Horrer) Interview:

My name is Deserea, I am the author of Blackberry’s Tales, which is a book dedicated to all the dark things in life.

I have been writing since I was 16 years old. I think because I have such a deep fascination with the Occult, this tends to inspire my creativity throughout Blackberry’s Tales. Many, if not all, of my characters are formed through the blackness of my mind. I enjoy darkness…and this really shines through my characters such as Viper, Sception, and Frost.

What compelled you to write your first book?

Wow! I think it all came down to this one word: Inspiration. I have always loved the darkness which used to just sit, festering in my mind, so I think writing is the only way for me to get out all this darkness and be a somewhat sane individual.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

No, surprisingly. When I was a lot younger I absolutely hated the idea of writing, because I did not understand the grammatical rules. I stuck with mostly drawing. I found a true love for writing about when I turned 14, I think.

What compels you to be a writer?

I think what compels me would be the idea that my mind is creating these characters’ who other individuals would find fascinating, and that through me, I am helping others release their own pent up creativity, if that makes sense.

Tell us a little bit about your book.. What are their titles; which is your favorite if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about. Pay particular attention to your most recent book and/or your first book:

Well, Blackberry’s Tales is a boom series, so there is more than one of course. Tale one: The Grimoire of Destruction is focused on the creation of Sception, along with Viper, and it kind of explains where all these creatures are coming from, and why The “Mallum’” are what they are throughout the rest of the books.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

I felt critical (Laughs), No honestly, I did feel critical of my writing as whole, and I think that this is the way with any creative individual, they tend to just watch for mistakes from their own minds. I felt excited too, of course.

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

Metal, of course. This and symphonic is what inspires me. I believe music can make or break a scene in a movie or a book.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

I think it is everything. If you cannot take inspiration from everything, then you will not grow as an artist of any caliber. I take inspiration from the smallest and simplest things, or even the darkest of things; it depends on my frame of mind that day.

What one thing are you the most proud of in your life?

Being open enough to be creative, nothing else can compare.

The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

No, not really. I tend to take from the personalities I have encountered in my life, sometimes the personalities are unlike anyone I have met, and this really makes me interested in hearing their opinions through my writing. Viper, for instance, is unlike anyone I have ever met.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

Anything Horror based I loved!

Hey, let’s get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

Wow, yes let’s. I guess I would like them to say that I was able to portray my characters in a gruesome light. And one thing that I hope will always be said about me is that I do not shy away from controversy within my writing. Controversy has never bothered me.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now – city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?

I grew up in a lot of different areas, Not too much city life when I grew up but I am honestly more of a city person and hope to move to New York one day!

Do you have any pets? What are they? Tell us about them.

Dogs, cat- the cat is more my inspiration. I love cats.

Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

Yes, there are many people who inspire me, my family, and my friends. I would like to acknowledge my spirit guide for giving to me what I needed most; bravery.

Is there any one particular book that when you read it, you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I’d written that one!”?

Hmmm, I think so. I would say…Anne Rice, she is a good writer. (Laughs)

Many authors have said that naming their characters is a difficult process, almost like choosing a name for their own child. How did you select the names of some of your lead characters in your book/s?

I don’t know how the names came to me, mostly through my study of witchcraft and the secret meanings behind the names I think!

Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it?

Yeah, Sception. He was originally meant to be a much lighter character but I don’t think he wanted to be (laughs), yeah Sception defiantly. I don’t ‘handle’ it per say, I just go with what is happening naturally.

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

Evil always wins, kids. No, I would just say that my moral is to never close your mind off to anything.

Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined?

No, I feel content and this is really all that matters.

One last question before we let you go, Deserea. Do you have any last words to your readers?

Yeah, I do. Thank you for your support. Darkest blessings.

Deserea is the writer of Blackberry’s Tales. Her book: Tale one-The Grimoire of Destruction, can be found on Lulu, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, as well as many other major retail stores. Look for her other tales of horror and decay which are soon on the way!

What inspired you to write this story in the form of a novella? 

I’m a firm believer that each story has a natural length, and a story will be less than its best if the writer departs from, or doesn’t find, the natural length, either because he or she is trying to achieve a length required by industry customs and practices or by other imposed requirements.  I personally find many novels too long for their meaningful content, and I can’t help but feel that in some cases that is the result of writers conforming to what they are told is the necessary length for a novel.  And there are other writers who use over-writing as part of their process, rely on editing to getting them to the proper length, and then for internal or external reasons fail in the editing process.

All of this is an excessively long way (probably needing editing) of saying that “Man from the Sky” is the length it is because I found that to be its natural length.  I considered making it longer so as to qualify as a novel, but concluded that would weaken a tight, sparely-written, well-paced story, and naturally didn’t want to do that. 

Which writers and what works count amongst your greatest writing influences?  

“A Good Day to Die” by Jim Harrison, “Dog Soldiers” and “A Flag for Sunrise” by Robert Stone, “The Comediens” and “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene, “The New Confessions” by William Boyd, and “The Magus” by John Fowles.

“Man from the Sky” contains a bonus short story entitled, “The Moment” which touches about the idea of recapturing lost youth.  What themes would you say both stories have most in common with one another?  To be more precise, “The Moment” deals with a 53-year-old taking a look back to see who he was 25-30 years before.  The device that is similar in both books is the notion of looking back over your life and assessing it, seeing how you feel about it.  The protagonists in my two pieces both have disappointments, but ultimately feel very differently about them, and the stories have very different endings.  

Your stories’ settings seems to encompass both exotic locales and the seduction of travel– would you consider yourself a travel fiction writer?  

Yes, but I also have my hometown, NYC, to work with, which of course for some people is a travel destination.  I do feel that an interesting setting can greatly enhance a story, and because I do settings better than plots, I tend to go for the enhancement

What are you currently working on?  

A novel called “Jack”, which is another thinking man’s adventure story, which takes place in the Greek Islands in 1981.  And a novel called “Lucien and I”, which is a portrayal of a weird but close friendship, and its demise due to the quest for kicks one of the friends is on.

What inspired you to write this story? 

I wanted to show the power of an unfulfilled life, and how open an unfulfilled person can be to an interesting stranger.  Many people are constantly yearning for excitement and for more in their lives, and would be very receptive if a person stepped into their lives and delivered something along the lines of what they’re looking for.

What was the genesis of this story; that is, how was it born?

I write about people who are locked into a quest to make themselves feel fully alive. To convey that in “Mam from the Sky”, I created a thinking person’s adventure story.  It’s about a bored 73-year-old man who tried a number of times to make a life elsewhere, but didn’t succeed and wound up back where he was born.  He feels strongly that life has passed him by. A stranger appears in his life, and presents him with an opportunity to do something that feels real, and he takes it. It’s something that many of us daydream about.

What do you think is the role of tragedy or hardship in life?

Tragedy and hardship in real life are extremely unpleasant, without a lot of positive things you can say about them.  About the best you can say for them is that for better or worse they are part of the human condition, so one has to achieve some understanding of them and come to terms with them.  As a writer who grapples with the human condition, tragedy and hardship definitely come within the territory I’m working in.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about being a writer?

Favorite things – the pleasure of words, when a story and its characters come to life, when I write something that moves me and I believe will move at least some other people. 

Least favorite things – shortage of inspiration, the limited life experience I have to draw on, the limitations of my natural talent.”

“Man from the Sky” takes place in Majorca – how best would you describe the island’s seduction?

The island’s power of seduction lies in its stunning beauty, the casual elegance of the lifestyle, and the overall vibe, which is positive and unpretentious.  Originally I was seduced by the mountainous western coast, and by the physical beauty there being the exact type of natural beauty that I find most pleasing to look at (endlessly).  When I stay in that area, I rent houses in the Deia area.  

However, over the course of 25 or so visits to the island since 1987, and with the help of a close friend who now lives in Sa Caboneta (with whom I stay sometimes), I have explored many other parts of the island, and have come to appreciate the other types of beauty there — the vast rolling plains, the city of Palma, the beaches in the southeast, Formentor, Pollensa, Sant Elm, the road from Puigpuyant to Esporles, the extraordinary drive up over the mountains to Cala Tuent.  Every time I go, I discover something new and wonderful, and I expect that will continue for as long as I live.

You reside in New York City’s West Village.  Do you feel that there are many similarities between the West Village and Majorca?

Good question.  The two locales certainly have many things in common — for example, the West Village truly feels like a village, though surrounded by the massive city of New York.  The West Village has a human scale to it, and is calm and down to earth, all of which are similar to Majorca.  The two locales complement each other superbly.  Splitting time between the two is the perfect life, and gives me everything I need.

How far would you go to add excitement to a life you felt was boring and meaningless?

 In New York City based novelist Danny Wynn’s new book, Man from the Sky (Bacon Press Books; 140 pages) the answer takes protagonist Jaime by surprise.
Jaime is a 73-year-old man born and raised on the island of Mallorca. His father was American and his mother Mallorcan. He lives alone on the mountainous western coast of the island near the village where he grew up, though in the course of his life he has lived in New York City and London, without succeeding in building a meaningful life in either city. He feels forcefully that life has passed him by, and he suffers from isolation and lack of activity. One morning, he is out for a hike on the mountainside behind his house, and a small plane flies over the ridge top above him, abnormally low. A man parachutes out of the plane, which flies onward briefly and crashes in the sea. Jaime meets the man from the sky, and the man presents Jaime with a belated but extremely precarious chance to once again feel fully alive.
In a nutshell, it’s a drug smuggling operation gone bad. Intending only to help a man in need, Jaime invites Stefan, the man from the sky, home only to discover that his new guest has escaped with eight kilos of cocaine in a gym bag. Soon, Jaime becomes entangled in Stefan’s attempts to sell the cocaine and start a new life. As they dodge Parisian drug dealers and corrupt Mallorcan police, Jaime’s search for excitement and Stefan’s resolve to find stability lead them both down dangerous paths.
Man from the Sky story deals with the powerful need in some people to feel they are living their lives to the full, and how that need by itself can drive a person to extreme unexpected behavior.Publisher’s Website: http://www.baconpressbooks.com/Press.html

 

46274_10150263552875226_5944905_nMust Try the “Yummy Must Try” at Masa Sushi Sake (off menu, ask)

Sushi and sake, Japanese dining with Texas flare and style–Masa Sushi Sake offers a little something for everyone.

 

298402_10152132106460226_2098797807_nMasa Sushi Sake Location

Masa Sushi Sake, a Japanese American fusion restaurant in League City, Texas, located at 1804 FM 646, Suite R, near Dickinson with other locations.

Masa Sushi Sake Parking

Nestled in a shopping center, with easy access and excellent parking, we pulled up on the front side of Masa Sushi Sake, and were met with dark tinted windows, properly obstructing our view of diners, but allowing the folks inside to see out with no problems. I thought the outside looked good, inviting, slightly upscale for the shopping center in which it was located. It was well-lit for nighttime, and safe and secure.421250_10152132105850226_468982049_n Read the rest of this entry »

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Milton C. Toby

Noor is the best Thoroughbred no one remembers.He was owned by Charles S. Howard, who is most famous as Seabiscuit’s owner, but in 1950, Noor was as good as any horse, anywhere.He defeated Citation four times in California that year, set three world records in the process, and would have been Horse of the Year if the voting had taken place after the Hollywood Gold Cup rather than before the race.
Noor died after a mediocre career at stud, and he was buried in an unmarked grave on a Northern California farm.No one gave the horse another thought until a few years ago, when commercial development threatened the farm.
An avid race fan named Charlotte Farmer wanted Noor’s memory preserved, and she spearheaded a campaign to locate the horse’s grave, exhume the remains, and ship them to Kentucky for reburial.Noor now lies at Old Friends, a Thoroughbred retirement farm a few miles from my house. Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred’s Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky is Noor’s story, and Charlotte’s.

Publishers, Weakly: What The Penguin/Random House Merger Really Means
By: Michael Levin

When I saw the word “synergies” applied to the proposed merger of publishing giants Penguin and Random House, I laughed out loud. “Synergies” is Wall Street-speak for “Let’s merge two failing companies, fire half the employees, run the resulting business more cheaply, suck out all the money we can as quickly as we can, and then leave the wounded, gasping beast that is the resulting company to die a miserable, public death.”

Which is exactly why “synergies” best describes the merger of two of the biggest names in the publishing industry, which is wringing its hands over the immediate consequences of this deal, which really represents one more death rattle of the once thriving book publishing trade.

Here’s what happens now: lots of editorial, marketing, and other jobs will vanish. Agents will have fewer places to sell books. Fewer books will be published. Authors will get even less money (if that’s even possible, since some publishers are paying zero advances whenever they can get away with it). And the pontificators will pontificate on what it all means to society (not much, since most of society has already given up on reading books).

Here’s what happens next: the remaining major publishers will find it harder to compete, because the resulting publisher (Penguin House?) will be able to produce books more cheaply. So they’ll fire people, merge, fire more people, and eventually roll over and die.

All because publishers never figured out how to deal with the Internet and how to sell books in a wired world.

All because publishers considered themselves “special” and thought they could get away with selling products they didn’t market.

All because publishers are English majors wearing Daddy’s work clothes and pretending to be business people, running their businesses on whim and gut feeling instead of figuring out what people want and giving it to them, the way smart businesses work.

I have no pity for the fallen publishers. In Wall Street terms, there isn’t enough lipstick in the world to make these pigs kissable. They had the responsibility to shape society by providing it with books worth reading, to create a cultural legacy for our generation and generations to come. And instead, what did they give us?

Ann Coulter, Navy SEALs, and Fifty Shades of Gray.

The publishers will blame everyone in sight for their predicament, but this is a self-inflicted wound; what the Brits would call an “own goal.”

You can’t run a successful business passively waiting for people (in this case, literary agents) to tell you what you should produce.

You can’t run a successful business by throwing 10,000 strands of spaghetti (or 10,000 books a year, in Random House’s case) against the wall of public opinion and seeing what sticks.

You can’t run a successful business selling information in the form of printed books by putting them on trucks to distant cities, hoping that booksellers (anyone who can fog a mirror, run a cash register and repeat the phrase, “We don’t have it but we could order it for you”) will actively work to sell your stuff to people.

Bottom line: you can’t run a successful business when you are essentially competing with yourself. If Barnes & Noble doesn’t sell a Simon & Schuster book within three weeks, it sends the book back to Simon & Schuster, at Simon & Schuster’s expense, only to have that same space on the shelf filled with…wait for it…a different Simon & Schuster book.

That’s not marketing.

That’s masochism.

A New York editor who worked at Penguin once told me that his boss called all the employees into a meeting and said, “If there’s any merger talk, you’ll hear about it from me and not from the New York Times.

A few days later, he was reading The New York Times on the subway on the way to work, and read that Penguin was merging with another publisher.

Here we go again.

If it weren’t for Fifty Shades of Gray, Random House (and Barnes & Noble, for that matter) would have been on life support. There would have been nothing left to merge.

Penguin’s owner, Pearson LLC, is the smartest guy in the room, dumping off Penguin’s trade publishing on Bertlesmann, a German conglomerate which somehow still thinks it can make money selling books.

And now a few thousand more publishing employees are going to leave the world of books and hit the bricks.

So let the handwringing begin. The collapse of a once proud industry has taken a giant step forward. And there ain’t no synergies in that.

New York Times best selling author and Shark Tank survivor Michael Levin runs www.BusinessGhost.com, and is a nationally acknowledged thought leader on the future of book publishing.

Connect with the author:

https://www.facebook.com/BusinessGhost

http://twitter.com/business_ghost

——-

The views in this guest post belong to the author of the post and may or may not reflect the views of Michy or Texas Straight-Talk Reviews. For more information about the author of this guest blog, please visit the author’s website included in the post. We would love to know your thoughts on the topic at hand, however, so please be sure to leave a comment below.

 

Author Interview with Sherry Foley

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Sherry Foley: Writing is my day job. I’ve worked at a bank, a morgue and a college.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Sherry Foley: Yes, because then hearing voices sounds legit.

What compels you to be a writer?

Sherry Foley: I love making up stories, writing with the reader in mind and entertaining.

Tell us a little bit about your book:

Sherry Foley: SWITCHED IN DEATH is a psychological thriller where you get two killers for the price of one. You’ll have to read the book to figure that statement out.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Sherry Foley: A CAPTIVE HEART is the first in a three book series.

Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?

Sherry Foley: As a member of RWA I have placed in several writing contests with all seven manuscripts.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Sherry Foley: Euphoric. The dance I did in the living room made the Snoopy Dance look like a slooow waltz.

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

Sherry Foley: Depends on the scene I’m writing.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

Sherry Foley: I have the FABULOUS published author, Shannon K. Butcher as my mentor. I’m very lucky. It was fun to dedicate my first book to her.

Thinking about your writing career, is there anything you’d go back and do differently now that you have been published?

Sherry Foley: I would have listened a lot less to the voice of self doubt that has kept trying to rob me of where I am today. It still whispers to me…

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by or with your writing?

Sherry Foley: To keep writing with the reader in mind and leave them coming back for more.

Many authors have said that naming their characters is a difficult process, almost like choosing a name for their own child. How did you select the names of some of your lead characters in your book/s?

Sherry Foley: My son asked me once, “Mom, do you think you’ll ever name a character after me one day?” The hero in SWITCHED IN DEATH is named Seth after him. The character Laney is named after a friend and the biggest character, Peggy Lucille, is named after a dear great aunt that sadly didn’t get to live long enough to see me publish.

Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it?

Sherry Foley: Everyone one of them. I’m a total panster. I think up a story line, name a few character to act out the story and from there my job is pretty much just to follow along after them and take notes.

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

Sherry Foley: Yes, making fun of people can hurt them to the quick. Some rise above it. The serial killer in SWITCHED IN DEATH never did and when his rage is unleashed-no one is safe.

It’s said that the editing process of publishing a novel with a publisher is can be grueling and often more difficult than actually writing the story. Do you think this is true for you? How did you feel about editing your masterpiece?

Sherry Foley: It is grueling, yes, and I’ve seen many along the years give up. I loved the editing process because I want my story to be as tightly written as possible.

Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined?

Sherry Foley: No. It’s just as wonderful and exciting as I’d hoped. I did think though that getting published would be the hardest part. I was wrong. Once I scaled the wall, fell flat on the other side and find caught my breath again, I realized the other side had been the playground. All of this social media is a time suck. Still, it must be done. I miss the days where writing and spinning a tale was all I had to do. It’s all great problems to have though.

Now, anything you want your readers to know?
Sherry Foley: I love everything about the writing process. I love hearing from fans, connecting with them. I’ve gotten along braver, stronger, in my writing since being published. I’m very excited about my next project which is a detective series. I look forward to hearing from readers. My contact info is:
Twitter: @Sherry_Foley

I am a long-time researcher of Civil War history. I have written for most of the jobs in my life and probably have had 3,500 articles published in my career.

I do a great deal of research on each book, following historical events as they happened and then filling in the spaces to create believable historical fiction.

My general audience is folks who have an interest in the Civil War but don’t necessarily want to read
about troop movements or the minutia of the battle strategy. I write about the ordinary soldier in the field and try to convey what they were feeling and show how they were basically bored, tired and hungry, but willing to sacrifice for what they believed was a noble cause. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Melinda Todd:  Yes, my ‘real’ job is being a wife and mother. My husband and I have four children and my family always comes first, even when a character is trying to chat in my head. Sometimes I jot some quick notes because I can’t sit down and type out a scene that’s playing in my head. Then I pray that I remember it when I can get back to writing.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Melinda Todd:  Deep down, I have always wanted it. I wrote a lot of poetry in high school to get through some tough times and sort through those feelings. I won several contests with a few of them. I started my first ‘book’ in fourth grade. Someday, I may have to pull it out and type it up for others to read. Nothing like a fourth grader’s imagination!

What compels you to be a writer?

Melinda Todd:  It really started a few years ago when I decided I wanted to be able to help people who have been through what I’ve survived. If could heal and move forward, I knew my story would give hope to others.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s. What are their titles; which is your favorite if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about. Pay particular attention to your most recent book and/or your first book:

Melinda Todd:  My first book was, How I Forgave My Molester. This will always be my first love because of what it means to me. While I intend to write fiction from here on out, this book is my heart poured out in order to help another sexual abuse survivor find healing.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Melinda Todd:  Yes, I have two novels I hope to have released in the next couple of months. One book is a mystery and the other deals with attempted suicide and cutting.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Melinda Todd:  It was surreal. My name on the cover of a book I wrote. There’s nothing like it.

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

Melinda Todd:  I can’t listen to music when I write. I have to have silence or I am easily distracted and singing along to the music or watching the tube instead of writing.

What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing?

Melinda Todd:  I am married to my high school sweetheart. We’ve been together 18 ½ years now. We have four children; 3 boys and 1 girl, in that order. They are 15 (almost 16), 10, 8, and 6.

The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

Melinda Todd:  There’s always a little of me in my characters but I find it enjoyable to put myself into someone else’s shoes and imagine what they think and feel. I’ve always been a people watcher. People fascinate and intrigue me and not always in a good way.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

Melinda Todd:  I am a huge fan of Janice Hanna Thompson. She is a witty author who interacts with her readers and cares about them. I love that I have been able to take some of her online classes and feel as though I’m a friend even though we’ve never met. There is something special about an author who will take the time to authentically engage their readers. Kathi Macias, Ginny Ytrupp, and Michelle Sutton are just a few who do exactly that and do it well.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

Melinda Todd:  I grew up reading Judy Blume books. I grasped for anything that could make me laugh. And then I graduated to The Babysitters Club and read every single one of them, always wishing I could create my own club.

Do you have any pets? What are they? Tell us about them.

Melinda Todd:  Yes, we joke we have a small zoo here but we do live on 5 acres. We have two dogs, 4 cats, 1 duck, and 15 chickens.

How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

Melinda Todd:  Well, in reference to the two books I hope to release in the next couple of months, it has taken a while. The mystery has only been a few months. It’s not as complicated as the second one that deals with cutting and attempted suicide. The second book I have been working on for over a year. It’s a delicate subject matter and I want to take my time and be very deliberate with how it is presented.

Is there any one particular book that when you read it, you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I’d written that one!”?

Melinda Todd:  Yes, The Hunger Games come to mind! I submerged myself into that series. It’s so easy to imagine our own society falling into the same extremism as the colonies in the books.

Thinking about your writing career, is there anything you’d go back and do differently now that you have been published?

Melinda Todd:  I would have started sooner. I didn’t think I was good enough. I have the crazy imagination for writing but I’m still working on the craft of it. I wish I’d realized this is what I wanted to do with my life a little sooner.

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by or with your writing?

Melinda Todd:  I want to go beyond entertaining folks. I want my stories to have meat to them and make people think. I want them to imagine themselves as the characters and gain some insight and empathy into their own lives.

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you. Anything you want your readers to know. Include information on where to find your books, any blogs you may have, or how a reader can learn more about you and writing.

I am the author of How I Forgave My Molester and Trailing After God. My books are available on my site at, http://melindatodd.com and amazon.com. I love watching America’s Got Talent each spring and summer. While I enjoy encouraging people, I wouldn’t make it being a judge on a talent show where negative feedback would be required. I’d absolutely hate telling someone that they had no talent and/or to give up their dream.

Melinda Todd is published with TTM through their digital downloads TTM eShorts. Her story, Quarrelsome Fools, can be purchased directly through TTM here or via Kindle Direct on Amazon.com here. For other formats, check out the Smashwords page here.