Monday, July 27, 2015

Cynthia Kennedy Henzel, MYTH RIDER




AUTHOR: Cynthia Kennedy Henzel
BOOK TITLE: MYTH RIDER
GENRE: Tween historical fiction
PUBLISHER: 4RV Publishing


Please tell us about yourself.
I was born in Oklahoma City, but didn’t live in the state for any length of time until I was 15 and my folks decided to move ‘home’ from the east coast and live off the land near Stillwater. That was quite a shock for a city kid! I survived and got my first big gig writing a column, An Optimist’s View, for The Perry Daily Journal in Perry, OK. I started at $5 a column, but soon doubled my pay. I graduated from OSU, worked as an environmental education consultant for an international program called GLOBE, and wrote. Today, I’ve got a son and two grandkids in Edmond, a daughter with two more in Tucson, and a new book out!

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write full time. I love working on my novels, but publish a lot of nonfiction books and biographies for kids; also some shorter fiction, retelling of classics, and lately some animated scripts. I’m a morning person so I get up early to write, eat lunch with my husband, then write or do research in the afternoon unless dealing with household issues, other businesses, promotion, etc.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I’ve got 5 and 6-year-old grandsons that live nearby. We like to swim, cook, hike, and build things. I love to travel and explore new places with my husband. I like tearing apart houses and putting them back together, although my husband frowns upon doing this in places we currently occupy. I read. But really -- isn’t any experience part of writing?

What are your thoughts about promotion?
Writing is interesting, fulfilling, and absorbing; but I feel lonely when I’m trying to promote my books. It’s back to the big party where you are watching everyone else talking and having fun while you stand against the wall hoping someone will notice you. I’d rather my works speak for me – but I realize that can’t happen unless someone reads what I write. So, I do whatever I can to promote my books. I have a blog, speak, visit libraries and bookstores, work with other writers to promote books, give away a lot of bookmarks, etc.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
I went to a conference years ago and signed up to talk to one of the Super Agents. He said I had good ideas but my writing – he threw up his hands in a gesture meaning hopeless. That was pretty devastating. The best compliment? “When is the sequel coming?”

What are your current projects? 
I’ve got two new novels I’m working on: a mystery called DOLL CEMETERY that’s close to done (the manuscript took first in middle grade at OWFI conference) and the sequel to MYTH RIDER. I’ve also got two books in revision: a magical realism novel set in Maldives and an historical fiction set in 1930’s Ukraine. Plus, I’m researching a new nonfiction – the first nonfiction I’m going to try and sell to a publisher on my own rather than writing under contract. Then, there are several contracted nonfiction books coming out … busy!

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
I’m at www.cynthiakennedyhenzel.com. Ride along with MYTH RIDER at www.Facebook.com/MythRiderBook

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
MYTH RIDER is the story of a girl who leaves her native country to ride in a Wild West show in America. The main character, Tamara, knows she is destined to fulfill an ancient legend that will bring the Centaurs back to their homeland. When Fate intercedes, she must decide what to do when life doesn’t go according to plan.

Why did you choose to write a children’s book?
Several reasons. First, I like the way kids think. They are open. Curious. Great conversationalists. So many things that adults have left behind. Second, the best stories are for kids. Straight to the point without undue detail or flourish. Third, books were vital to me growing up. I hope I can pass that on. 

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
A love of story. A smile. New friends they want to read more about. Something to talk about with their friends. On a deeper level, I hope they glean something about the importance, and difficulty, of making choices. And, of course, I hope they develop curiosity about history, different places and cultures, and science.

What comes first: the plot or characters?
For me, it’s often the setting that comes first. I like to explore places and then research what happened there. Then, I imagine people who would have lived through those events. Finally, I choose one character to tell their story and write a lot of dialogue to get characters talking. A lot of it gets cut as the story evolves, but it helps me know my characters and start the plot.

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children’s literature?
Be willing to invest time and money in your writing career just as you would in any new business. Everyone needs to work on craft. Read critically in your genre, take classes, and join a critique group. My critique group is online and is fabulous. Learn about the business of writing and build a network of other writers by reading professional publications, going to conferences, and following conversations online. Remember that when you sit down to write you have one job. It is not teaching, preaching, or making your first million. Your job is to tell a story.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
I don’t like a story to be predictable. Surprise me and you have a lifelong fan. On the other hand, it bugs me when plots are not logical. Coincidence happens in real life, but not in novels. A writer has an unwritten contract with the reader: Everything you need to know is here, dear reader, if you can figure it out.

Describe your writing space.

I wrote my first novel while living on a mile-wide island in the Indian Ocean. It is unpublished. Having time and few distractions doesn’t make you a published writer! Now, I have a nice cubbyhole lined with bookcases with a view of the Catalina Mountains and my backyard fountain and birds to distract me. Currently, the shelves have, in addition to books ranging from Island of the Blue Dolphins to Architectural Details: a trebuchet, a catapult, a robot, a basket of shells, an etch-a-sketch, a leprechaun, and a slide rule. Hmmm. I wonder if I can get all of those into my next book …



Excerpt from MYTH RIDER (Cynthia Kennedy Henzel)
    Everything was different. The houses were flimsy new buildings, nothing that seemed built to last a hundred years and then a hundred more years like a true home. The few trees were short and twisted.           Mostly she saw grass, an expanse of grass that did nothing to slow the endless wind.
    Tamara wished that Giorgi or Irakli were nearby, but they were undoubtedly already at practice. She felt alone, and vulnerable, as if a wall of her home had suddenly fallen out exposing her to the world. As she looked around, settling her gaze to the north, she realized what was missing. No sheltering mountains. The Centaurs no longer watched over her.
    “Yuh look like your best friend just up and died.”
    Tamara whipped around and her mouth fell open. A girl perched on a fence rail behind her with a face that was black, as black as night, topped with a mat of black hair thick and tight as felt. As Tamara gaped, the girl swung her legs, black ankles poking from below baggy blue pants tied to a bib like an apron, and grinned showing teeth as white and straight as piano keys.
    “Yuh must be the green girl I’m s’posed to show round.”
    Green girl? Tamara looked at her hands in alarm. They had traveled at a mad pace for two months; six weeks in the ship to New York City, two weeks on the train to Ponca City and finally on the wagon that brought them to the 101 Ranch the night before. Many times during the trip she had felt a sickly green, but …
    “I’m Pearl.” Tamara’s attention went from her own hands, definitely not green, to the one the girl held out.
    “You’re black!”    
    Pearl held out both hands. Her eyes got wide until the whites showed all around and she squealed, “You’re right!” Then she let out peals of laughter that about toppled her off her perch.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Margery Leveen Sher, The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing



AUTHOR: Margery Leveen Sher                                   
BOOK TITLE: The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing…..(subtitle) Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine
GENRE: Non-fiction
PUBLISHER: Self-published through Bibliocrunch

Please tell us about yourself.

I have had a career as an entrepreneur and executive. I founded a consulting firm as well as a number of non-profit organizations. My consulting work centered on assisting employers in developing programs and policies for their employees to help them balance their work and personal lives – things such as child care, elder care, telework, flextime. During this time I published a book and numerous articles and spoke often. A few years ago, I decided to concentrate on writing and speaking about an idea that I consider life-changing: “Noticing”. Noticing the little things in life that give it meaning, that are mind-boggling, and that are often funny is essential to living a full life. I call Noticing “mindfulness with a smile”. To accomplish these goals I started The Did Ya Notice? ™ Project.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I am currently a part-time writer because I run a non-profit organization part-time as well. My goal is to be a full-time writer and motivational speaker.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing in high school. Instead of paying attention in class I would write notes to my friends about the funny, little things I Noticed – things people did or things I saw.  My notes were wildly popular with the kids but got snatched by the teachers from time to time. So I guess The Did Ya Notice? ™ Project really started long, long ago.

What inspired you to write your first book?

For a number of years now I have written weekly Noticings for my blog. Last year I realized I had more than enough material for a book. I took time to revise and edit and write additional material that would make a full book rather than a series of blog postings. I wanted to let everyone know that the world is divided into three parts: Amazing Things to Notice, Annoying Things to Notice, and Human Idiosyn-Crazies ™ to Notice.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

I am a flauteur. That is a high-falutin’ way to say I walk around looking at stuff. I live in the city and walk the streets. And lo and behold, my avocation as a flauteur often provides me material for writing.  Also, as I mentioned above, in my non-writing time, I  run a non-profit which provides medical care to children in low-income families. And, in addition, I have my own Amazing family to Notice. 

What are your thoughts about promotion?

I hate it.

I constantly have to talk myself into posting on Facebook and LinkedIn and tweeting and sending emails to my list. Ugh! Who likes a self-promoter??

On the other hand….if people understand the value of Noticing, they will be so much happier and more productive. They will be better communicators, team-players, and leaders.
So the bad voice in my head says “Shut up and sit down! You are always talking about yourself and your writing. Nobody cares!” Then the good voice in my head says, “You must promote your book! You are helping people! They will thank you! It would be selfish of you not to share this idea!” I hope the good voice is right.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I have not had writer’s block, but I have had writer’s laziness, writer’s paucity of ideas, and writer’s self-pity. For example, I will whine “Why can’t I just lie on the couch and read a stupid magazine like a normal person?” I have to be very strict with myself. To get ideas, I go for a walk (flauteur, as I said above) or I take a shower. Great ideas come in the shower. I also give up and go to sleep because I often wake up in the morning with an idea pretty well flushed out.

How can we find you?

Facebook Margery Leveen Sher
Twitter @DidYaNotice
LinkedIn Margery Leveen Sher

Any other news you’d like to share?
My keynote speech is “Notice What You See and Be a Hero at Work”.  I talk to groups about the power of Noticing zippers, broccoli, and Human Idiosyn-Crazies ™ for leadership, communication, and team building.

Tell me a little about your book.

You can change your life without changing your routine. How? By Noticing what you see! And by being ready with an easy laugh. Life is Amazing. Life can be Annoying. And life is full of our Human Idiosyn-Crazies™! Do you know why you should be awestruck by broccoli? Do you know why you should love zippers? Do you know there is a lot of Totally DeTestable Technology™ out there? Do you know why our closets get filled with junk? Do you spit a lot? This book is filled with 97 “Noticings” (short essays), each followed by conversation-starters to have with your kids, your parents or grandparents, your spouse, or your coworkers.  Noticing is mindfulness with a smile. When you learn to Notice, you will have a full life jam-packed with laughter.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

In our hustle/bustle world, it is easy for us to leave much of life “on the table” if we don’t Notice. I hope readers will see how easy it can be to make their lives fuller and more fun through Noticing.

What kind of research did you do for this type of book?

I do research for almost every Noticing I write. That means I Google a lot. One Google leads to another and before you know it, I am off on mental tangents. But…it is all fodder for more Noticings. My absolutely favorite website for wasting time is NASA. I am a nerd, geek, or dork. Not sure which. That was the subject for one of my Noticings.

What about your book makes it special?

My book is a container for my opinions, but it is also an invitation to develop your own opinions, insights, and discoveries. It is like a preschooler’s “look and do” book. Look what I Noticed. Now you Notice, too. We are all preschoolers if we are open to discovery.

What are your views on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?

I am an impatient egomaniac. I didn’t want to spend years finding an agent, then a publisher, then get on a publisher’s timeline. I wanted to eat dessert first. So I self-published.

What books have most influenced your life?

Two books:
1.     Piaget’s Theory of Intellectual Development by Ginsburg and Opper
2.     A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

The first book taught me about the remarkable human brain and how it develops. It led me to my professional career as an entrepreneur working first in early childhood development and later branching out to different aspects of work-life balance.

The second book taught me about the marvels of the English language. No book has a more amazing beginning than this one. 

Describe your writing space.

My office is really a small spare bedroom. My writing space is a desk covered with papers, with my laptop on the edge, and a humongous screen right smack in the middle. There is hardly room for my coffee cup. Once inch behind my desk chair is the bed. It is covered with books, papers, bins for “organizing”, newspaper articles, and various chargers to who knows what. It is an incredible mess. This is all good. I say to myself, “Don’t look! Don’t look! It’s too upsetting an environment. Just stare at the screen and fill it up with words. The screen can become beautiful, but all around it lurks horrors you don’t want to see!”


S
ynopsis - 
Change your life without changing your routine! How? By Noticing what you see! And by being ready with an easy laugh. Life is Amazing. Life can be Annoying. And life is full of our Human Idiosyn-Crazies™! Do you know why you should be awestruck by broccoli? Do you know why you should love zippers? Do you know there is a lot of Totally DeTestable Technology™ out there? Do you know why our closets get filled with junk? Do you spit a lot? This book is filled with 97 “Noticings” (short essays), each followed by conversation-starters to have with your kids, your parents or grandparents, your spouse, or your coworkers. Noticing is mindfulness with a smile.




Monday, July 13, 2015

Suzanna J. Linton, Willows of Fate



AUTHOR: Suzanna J. Linton
BOOK TITLE: Willows of Fate
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PUBLISHER: Self


Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I am a full-time writer. I left my job at a public library last year to pursue what I really love. I’ve tried to organize my time down to the hour but I learned I don’t function well that way. Mornings are generally reserved for social media, blogging, and business-type stuff. Actual writing happens in the afternoon and I don’t stop until I reach my daily word count or met my editing goal, unless something serious comes up. That usually takes me anywhere between two hours to all afternoon, depending on how well the words are coming or how often I’m interrupted.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first novel, Clara, is something I had been writing and re-writing on and off ever since I was thirteen. I first wrote it during a very intense time in my teenage years, when I was feeling a lot of pressure from my family and a lot uncertainty as to where I was going to be living and what kind of person I was going to be. It was a very intense time of soul-searching and self-discovery. I suppose I needed an outlet for all that internal chaos. Each re-write reflected that chaos until I finally was able to write it as a story and not as a mirror.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

When I’m not writing/editing, I’m doing other things with my blog and other tasks associated with publishing. When I’m not doing that, I’m reading, playing with my pets, playing Dragon Age, gardening, or just spending time with my husband. We love to watch movies and TV shows on Netflix. I also like to do some volunteer work for the poor and homeless.

What are your thoughts about promotion?

I hate it! I wish I didn’t have to do it. I’d much rather be focused on my writing and editing. However, it is a necessary evil and I do the best I can. I think my main philosophy about promotion is that it isn’t about me, it’s about my novel.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I don't like the term "writer's block" because it sounds like something coming from outside that can't be helped. If I find writing or editing difficult, I ask myself, "What am I afraid of? Does the idea seem too big or complicated? Am I afraid of failing? Or is it something else? Am I sick or bored or just need a short break?" I try to find the root problem and solve it, either through a pep talk or some outlining or just taking a walk.

What are your current projects?

Currently, I am promoting Willows of Fate, my latest novel and working on the sequel to my debut novel, Clara. I'm also working on an urban fantasy short fiction series called The Bookwyrm Series. It's available on Amazon.

What do you plan for the future?

I plan on publishing a sequel to Clara. Hopefully, I'll have that out either later this year or next year. I also plan to continue the series that Willows of Fate started, which is called The Lands of Sun and Stone Series. Everything else is up in the air, like a novel that wraps up The Bookwyrm Series and a whole other idea that's been percolating in my mind for a while now.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

I have a website on which is my blog and other information at http://suzannalinton.com. On my website, you can sign up for my monthly newsletter. I’m also on Twitter at @suzannalin and I am on Facebook. My Facebook url is http://facebook.com/SuzannaJLinton. I also have a Pinterest account! You can find me at http://pinterest.com/suzannajlinton.

What genre do you write in and why?

I write a lot of fantasy and urban fantasy. I first began writing fantasy because I could make up my own rules and that felt easier to me. Now, I write it because I enjoy creating new worlds.



Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

My current book is an urban fantasy called Willows of Fate. It is partially set in South Carolina, in a fictitious town based on my hometown, and follows Desdemona as she discovers family secrets in the wake of her mother’s death. It drives her to search for why she keeps seeing fantastical creatures, like knights and centaurs, that no one else can see. Things take a new turn when these creatures, which she calls ‘phantoms’, begin to talk to her and tell her that if she doesn’t go with them to their world, things will get much worse for her.

What comes first: the plot or characters?

Characters! To me, you can’t have a story without people, so it only makes sense that the people come first. Once I’ve learned the people and their voice, then I can put them into the context of a plot.

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process?

It depends on how complicated the story is and how long it is. A rough draft can take me anywhere between one or two months to six months. I generally start with the characters and the problem, then I sketch a rough outline (beginning, middle, end) before I get started. Sometimes, I'll write the ending first and work backwards.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?

Currently, I have out Clara and Willows of Fate. Their sequels are a little up in the air in terms of release.

However, each installment of The Bookwyrm Series comes out at the end of every quarter, so the next installment will be out September 30. Those who are interested in urban fantasy like The Sookie Stackhouse Series might enjoy The Bookwyrm Series.


Describe your writing space.

Very small, unfortunately. My husband and I live in small trailer, so space is limited. The spare bedroom has been turned into a library/writing room/man cave. There are books, camping gear, my husband’s National Guard gear, a white board, a smattering of posters on the walls, and my tiny little desk, which is crammed in between two bookcases. My desk has papers and pens all over it with barely enough room for my laptop. Oh, for a room of my own!

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?

My favorite part is the writing, the fiery act of creation. My least favorite has been the promoting. Some days, I feel like I’m in the middle of a crowd, waving my arms and yelling for attention. Not a good feeling for an introvert!


Monday, July 6, 2015

Mathias B. Freese, I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust, plus #giveaway




AUTHOR: Mathias B. Freese
BOOK TITLE: I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust
GENRE:Literary fiction/ short stories
PUBLISHER:Wheatmark.com
BUY LINK:Amazon, Wheatmark,  author


NOTE:  If you would like to win a copy of Mathias's book, please leave a comment and include your contact information.


Please tell us about yourself.

Retired English teacher and analytic psychotherapist, I have been a writer for almost 50 years. I am self-taught, with the deficits of any autodidact. I resist being shown how to write. I prefer to reinvent the wheel – in that is a learning by itself. Suffering has taught me a great deal. Writing simply reveals that anguish. The purpose of all my written works has been to educate myself about who I am and for that no teacher can work with me except to hand me a copy of Strunk and White’s, The Elements of Style, and leave me be. Consequently my writing reveals an awakening of intelligence, as Krishnamurti phrased it. I am a seeker and marketing of my books is a kind of perverse expression. I would like to be read, although I consistently refuse to shape my work for any market. That is a writer’s sellout, capitalistic perversion of the highest order. I say what I have to say whether you like it or not. The resistance to my latest effort has been strong. I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust has been reviewed splendidly; however, some bloggers, some editors and some reviewers reject even reviewing it. That says more about the Holocaust than it says about me.

When I come across an individual who is empty, I will on occasion tell him or her that he or she is not a serious human being. To be serious about how one lives one’s life is essential to my make-up. I don’t suffer fools.

Please tell us your latest news.

I am glad to report that I won The Beverly Hills Book Award 2015 in the category of short stories. That was a thrill. For writers I would suggest that they submit their work to as many contests as possible, Poets & Writers lists dozens of them with deadlines and entry fees, if any. At least you have judges looking at your work, so you are being read.

When and why did you begin writing?

My first expression was a poem I wrote at 18 that was accepted by the Yearbook. As I look back it clearly references the depression I was in. To add to that, the teacher-editor threw out the original title and missed entirely the basic theme of the poem. So much for English teachers who think they are editors. It didn’t help my depression, just made me angry.

In 1968 an article, “Is content enough?” was accepted by an educational journal and was the first professionally piece accepted by a publication. It took 10 years to secrete another effort. I  had no idea I was moving into writing. I can say, looking back, that early fiction and non-fiction pieces were written to work out or work through psychological and emotional feelings of long standing. Consequently I view writing as a personal therapy, a working through, to use psych-speak, of what harassed my emotional states.

For 30 years I wrote my stories and I promised myself that someday I would publish all of them, for some, indeed, had been published in little magazines. In 2008, I self-published Down to a Sunless Sea at the age of 68. It was reviewed favorably. A novel about the Holocaust, The i Tetralogy, was published in 2005, and a book of essays, This Mobius Strip of Ifs, a prize-winner as well, in 2012. So as I age the rewards come.  I am the Aesopian tortoise.

What inspired you to write your first book?

The i Tetralogy took me several years and it is graphic, overwhelming and heart-rending; reviewers have said that.  It is like Rashomon. I explore the mind and life of a concentration camp victim, and then I explore the mind of his perpetrator. I may not spell well, I may not be grammatically correct all the time, but what I have learned is that my imagination is first rate. But that is not enough. As a psychotherapist I learned to master to a large degree to be empathetic. Combining empathy and imagination allowed me to creep into the mind of both victim and victimizer. And so my first book revealed my feelings about what it is to be a Jew.

The Spanish Inquisition in 1492 based on racial purity led directly, indeed, was the template for the Hitlerian Holocaust. I wanted to learn how that came about. I have several reasons and understandings about all that. Chalk it up to the species being damaged; we are beyond remediation.  All this is in the Tetralogy.
  
What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

I say pompously that I do a lot of reflection, but is that being pompous, or is that what this collapsed culture thinks about it. For decades I have read the works of Krishnamurti as a kind of thread as I walk through the maze. So I am a seeker, believing wholeheartedly that the observer is the observed. Read his Think on These Things (Harper) and write me a note. I am a dedicated cinephile and, of course, I recommend that you see Pandora by Pabst, and the glorious work of Louise Brooks ( her book, Lucille in Hollywood, is a hoot). I am a real lover of anything Art Nouveau, and seek out objects, whether valuable or not, that reveal that era. Gustave Klimt is a favorite. I admire the Pre-Raphaelites as well.  I recently over extended myself and bought a Degas print at an auction. Since I don’t play golf or revel in sports, you will now appreciate the responses above all the better.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

As a former psychotherapist I see that all 27 short stories in Lament, reveal much about myself; that I have better skills now; instead of croaking my themes I sing them.

What is your marketing plan?

In Auschwitz, it was reported that an inmate asked a guard this question: “Why?’ And the guard responded, “Here there is no why.”

Consequently I used several tools to market this difficult book – this interview, per se; a book tour; entering contests, as many as I could afford; querying hundreds of reviewers, bloggers, et al. Like the guard’s answer, there is no answer to how this book has been received, too much Holocaust fear and historical ignorance among reviewers.

I accept that there is no answer. I am pleased to have made this work reveal the best of what talents and skills I have.

What do you plan for the future?

As Harold Bloom opined, we are all “near death” experiences. And so I have finished a memoir. Although professionally edited, I will work it over, for it may be my last book. I am 74. Sometimes I think the well may have run dry. I feel that all literature is worked over unconsciously and that the unconscious is a true friend if only we trust it. In short, when a story or a poem is written, it really is the second version. So we shall see.



What do you think is the difference between writing short stories and novels?

Short stories are epiphanies; short stories teach writers how to write novels. The Bible is beyond masterful in some stories, forget the religiosity and learn about the brevity from these stories. Writing short stories gives you an opportunity to see the whole, to see the arc of what it is you are saying. Short stories are the opened back of a Patek-Philippe. You can tinker or repair as long as you like. The great novel should read like an intense, passionate short story. Of course, the poem is the hardest epiphany of them all; some poems are novels.

Is there a message in your stories that you want readers to grasp?

When asked if a movie in production had a message, Sam Goldwyn reportedly replied, “If you want a message go to Western Union.” I never write with a message at hand; a feeling, yes; a mood state; yes. I like to be surprised with what I have written. Grasp this about me! I write like my hormones need to excrete. I am not into purpose. Some teachers take an idea or concept and parse it, analyze it, break it into components and then synthesize it for their students. When I taught I took an idea, turned it into fractals, sought no endgame, and let the pieces fall where they may. Consequently don’t ask me to plot out a novel; I am too intuitive to do that.

If you had to choose, which short story writer would you consider a mentor?

I have always been impressed with the humanity, the empathy and psychological understanding of  Sherwood Anderson’s, Winesburg , Ohio. Hemingway admired this book but never gave Anderson his due, but that is Hemingway. Anderson could write about the neurasthenic, to use an old term, woman; Hemingway had trouble writing about women.

Do you have any advice for other short story writers?

Write dozens of stories and then keep only a few; or slave over one story interminably only to realize it doesn’t work. Notice the trick or conditioning in this question. Advice? Has the human race ever asked for advice? Essentially, find your own way, work on being inner-directed and in this way the need for advice melts away. All writing is an extension of how much you have grown into a human being. Work on yourself and what you write will reveal this. Avoid all conditioning, religion, in particular.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Contemplate my end, which we should all do on a daily basis; and we can do that without regret or remembrance of things past. In fact, cogitating over this might make life that much more dear.
I also have a grand sense of humor so that compensates for what life teaches me. Awareness is the key. Get cracking, reader!

What books have most influenced your life?

Kazantzakis’s Report to Greco and The Last Temptation of Christ; Elias Canetti’s, The Crowd;
Krishnamurti’s Think on These Things, The Flight of the Eagle, and The Awakening of Intelligence.







I Truly Lament—Working Through the Holocaust is a varied collection of stories: inmates in death camps; survivors of these camps; disenchanted Golems complaining about their designated rounds; Holocaust deniers and their ravings; collectors of Hitler curiosa (only recently a few linens from Hitler’s bedroom suite went up for sale!);  an imagined interview with Eva Braun during her last days in the Berlin bunker; a Nazi camp doctor subtly denying his complicity; and the love story of a Hungarian cantor, among others.

A description meant to entice booksellers, librarians, reviewers and readers might be this: A weirdly wonderful short story collection exploring the Holocaust from diverse perspectives in literary styles ranging from gothic and romantic to phantasmagoric.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mike Hartner, I, James





AUTHOR:  Mike Hartner
BOOK TITLE: I, James
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Romance, Adventure
PUBLISHER: Eternity4Popsicle Publishing
BUY LINK:   http://goo.gl/NQHtwy



Please tell us about yourself.
This summer, I cross out of my forties.  I’m a husband, father, geek (retired), and patriot.  I’m a cheerleader to all my son’s activities, and I do my best as a support mechanism for my family.

Please tell us your latest news.
I, James, is Book Two in the Eternity Series.  You were nice enough to give me a blog post for Book One, I, Walter after its release.  I, James was released in September 2014, and currently has 14 reviews… half of which are 5 Star.   In November  2014, it hit #1 in historical fiction for Amazon.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? 
Writing time, for me, is an after-hours, when all the work is done, thing.  So, it’s sporadic.   But, it’s also my relax time, and I enjoy it very much.

When and why did you begin writing?
This particular series, The Eternity Series, I started writing about four years ago.  It wasn’t until after two years of dickering with the original manuscript that my editor and I went as far back as we could and found I, Walter waiting in the wings.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I, Walter is the first FICTION book I’ve written.  It was inspired by some information in history, and some family people that had done incredible things.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
Life.  Everything else. 

What are your thoughts about promotion?
Promotion is essential for the success of any endeavour.  It’s also the hardest part of r me as an author.  I’d much rather spend my evenings writing, and revising.   But, promotion is an essential part of marketing, and I’m trying very hard to get better at it.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
The toughest criticism about my writing, in general, is that some of my characters get a ‘free ride.’  They always seem to find a way through undesirable situations with having their mettle tested very hard. The biggest compliment is from returning readers.

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
Book Two, I think, had a little more to the characters.  But, it wasn’t a conscious effort.  I'm finding Book Three is very similar.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
 Writer’s block occurs regularly for all writers.  I view it as time for me to learn about some aspect that is stopping things from going forward. 

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I, James, I believe, is a story about the perseverance of the human soul.  Both James and Rosalind were put through many trials during their early years.  It’s a remarkable achievement to come through those trials with the character they both did.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is Eternity4Popsicle Publishing.  It is a self-pub company. I, Walter and the full Eternity series is its mandate.

What is your marketing plan?
My Marketing plan includes blog tours; being at book shows, kindle free days, and lots of signings in bookstores all over North America.

What are your current projects?
Book Three in the Eternity series is my current project.  It will be the end of the first of many trilogies in this Series.  And those who have had a first look have been happy with the content.

What do you plan for the future?
I don’t.  I write for the moment.  At the end of each book (or close to it) I learn of the key character for the next book (sometimes two books) and wait until they’re ready to tell their story.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
website: mikehartner.com
 Facebook.com/MHartnerAuthor
Twitter: @MHartnerAuthor

What genre do you write in and why? 
Historical Fiction, Romance, YA

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. 
I, James is the life story of James Crofter, the son of Walter Crofter.  It is the story of what happened after his capture in I, Walter.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
Toward the end of I, Walter,  James chimed in that he wanted to tell his story.  It seemed appropriate considering his capture close to the end of I,Walter.  Hence, I, James.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
No, I bounce a few ideas and write them down on a white board.  Then, I let them spend a few days percolating before I write.

What comes first: the plot or characters?
Character.  Always.

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
In I, Walter  I loathed Gerald.  And with good reason.  In I, James, I have to say the character disliked the most had to be Rupert.  It is very, very difficult for me to believe why any person would try to kill or neglect their own children.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?  Why or why not?
Writing for the young adult crowd, I never get too graphic.  But, I find that the reader’s mind imagines much more detail than any author is willing to use.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Getting the full story.

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process?
I, James took eleven months to write and edit.   To start the story, my muse introduced me to the main character.  A few days a week, I would stand at a whiteboard and write down what I thought was coming forward.   And then a few hours or days later, I would write.  And so it went.  Some days, I’d write new material, others I’d expand on what was already written. 
During the writing though, I needed to take some time off to mourn the loss of my father.  It took a lot out of me, and it delayed the release for several months.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
The Eternity Series now has two books out:  I, Walter  and I, James.   I am planning, towards the end of June, to release Book Three in the series.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?
To write what they know about.  And to write a complete first draft before worrying about editing.  NaNoWriMo is fantastic for getting people to focus on the writing.

What do you do when you’re not writing? 
Everything.  I’m the family chauffeur, I’m the cheering squad for my son’s sports teams, I’m the grocer, and the gopher for the family.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
Authors.  I have read a diverse set of books over the past few years, in part because I’ve been able to get to know the authors.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
Incomplete endings.  I’m not talking about books that begin series.  They have an ending but leave questions for the next book and are satisfying anyway.  I’m referring to books where the ending seems to be slapped on after running out of steam.

What books have most influenced your life?
Victor Hugo’s books, The Three Musketeers, Citizen Kane, Count of Monte Cristo, all Shakespeare’s plays, and Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
supportive, independent, father, husband, geek, patriot, Samaritan

Describe your writing space.
Comfortable seating, blankets and covers, pillows for back support, internet connection, light switch

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
The most favorite part has been reading and listening to reviews.  The least favorite part has been all of the marketing and promo work.  But, I have done it.




I, James is the second in a series of books in a saga which will span continents and time to arrive in present day North America. Each in the series will be connected, though that connection may not be obvious for several more books. It's almost like looking at a menorah (sic). Many lines, seemingly individual, connect to center at different points.



James Crofter was ripped from his family at age 11.
Within a year the prince was a pauper in a foreign land.
Is nature stronger than nurture? And even if it is, can James find the happiness he so richly desires?