Archive for September, 2014

My Interview with Steve Lindahl

Please welcome STEVE LINDAHL, author of MOTHERLESS SOUL and WHITE HORSE REGRESSIONS.

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Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I am currently working on a series of past life mysteries. I’ve published the first two novels, Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions, through All Things that Matter Press and I’m working on a third. In each book something occurs that needs to be investigated: a crime or a devastating accident. Glen Wiley, a hypnotist, is called in to regress the people who knew the victim. He uses events from the past lives they shared to solve the present day mystery. Relationships in the books present a second, different type of mystery, since they change from life to life. People who are friends in the present might have been sisters in the past, a mother and daughter might have been a teacher and a student or possibly two students, a woman might have been a man or even an animal, but all the souls exist in all the incarnations and all play roles in whatever tragedy occurs.

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

My books are mysteries, but they are also historical fiction. White Horse Regressions takes the reader back to Victorian London during the time of Jack the Ripper and also to the Han dynasty when Buddhism was first introduced to China while Motherless Soul has many scenes set in the American Civil War. My past life mystery novels share characteristics with time-travel stories because historical portions can mix in with present day sections. However, past life regressions avoid the discrepancies of time travel. Although the characters can observe and discover, events cannot be changed.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Writers need to write. It sounds silly because it’s so obvious, but life is hectic and finding the time to sit in front of a computer screen can be difficult. Staying motivated is hard, since only a very few writers find success quickly. It helps to share your work with family, friends, or other writers in a critique group. Still while it is important to keep writing, writers also need to keep up other aspects of their lives. Believable, interesting characters are what makes for great fiction and, although writing is a solitary art form, writers who don’t know people can’t write about them.

 

What are your three favorite books?

I’m going to change this question a bit and answer my three favorite types of books instead.

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis has great characters and mixes carefully researched history from the year 1348 (the time of the black plague) with a setting in the year 2048. Sometimes the pace of the book is frantic, but at other times it slows down and the emotions are strong. I love the way Willis’ people share the same human failings no matter what century they’re from. And I love her treatment of religion in the novel. I have recently read the sequel: To Say Nothing of the Dog, which was also good. Doomsday Book was published in 1993, but I still consider it my favorite from the large, commercial publishers.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is my favorite classic. The pace is slow at times, which is something I expect and enjoy in nineteenth century literature. Perhaps it is that pace that makes the characters so great. I can understand the emotions that propel Anna into her relationship with Vronsky while also understanding her husband’s feelings. The story captures the importance of society and propriety in that period. I’ve read the book times three times which is more than I’ve read any other novel other than the ones I’ve written.

The last type of book I want to include among my favorite novels are the ones published by small presses, including my own publisher: All Things That Matter Press. Small presses are where readers find unique and fresh writing. My own novels are examples of this type and so is Conversations Among Ruins by the author of this blog. Others include Memoirs from the Asylum by Ken Weene, A House Near Luccoli by DM Denton, Out of Crystal Ice by P.J. Wetzel, Musical Chairs by Jen Knox, and others too numerous to list. All bringing something new to lovers of ideas and stories.

 

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Emperor Ming (the Chinese Emperor portrayed in White Horse Regressions) would be a good choice. I would get to learn why he wanted to introduce Buddhism to China enough to build the first temple. But the challenge I’m facing now is how to get the word out about my book, so instead I’ll choose someone who could help with that. I would love to talk to Hart Hanson or another television producer to ask about using my stories in a series. The characters and plots would translate to the small screen extremely well if I could be lucky enough to have an honest conversation with someone who could make that wish a reality.

 

What are you currently reading?

I just started Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. It was published in 1900, but I suppose I can still consider it a nineteenth century work. It’s a book I should have read years ago. Although the writing is very different from modern novels, the characters, especially Carrie, are fully developed, interesting people. I’m enjoying it.

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

As I mentioned before, I use the concept of past lives as a device in my writing and in doing so I cover the idea of the continuity of life. The idea that the soul is eternal is the most important message in my writing. But I don’t want any concept in my books to be accepted blindly. I hope my readers think and come to their own conclusions.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

My writing helps me keep sane rather than the other way around. I create characters I care about and watch them face problems that are often similar to ones I have faced in my non-writing life. As I experience these situations with my fictional friends, I learn how to handle my own frustrations. I imagine this is similar to what people get from role playing in therapy workshops.

 

Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

Many books have changed my life by making me think in different ways, but the one I’ll mention had an unusual impact on me. It’s The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. Noah Calhoun, the novel’s main character, grew up in North Carolina where he loved being by water. He spent some time in New Jersey, but never bothered to visit the lakes up there. I grew up in New Jersey and had been living in North Carolina for a good length of time when I read the book. In NJ I spent summers near a lake, but I hadn’t found one to enjoy after my move. I decided I’d look around for a place where I could get back to the water. Now I have a kayak I use about every two weeks and have found a walking path that winds around a lake just ten minutes from my home.

 

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

The main obstacle is finding time to write. I have a day job that pays the bills, so I work on the books in the middle of the night and on weekends. But publicity takes some of that time. I’m going to retire from that day job soon, so the obstacle should go away.

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

My favorite and least favorite aspects of writing are the same one, coming up with ideas. I’m as happy as I can be when the plot is going well and the characters are reacting in interesting ways, but when I can’t come up with the next step or somebody in the book has done something I know I have to rewrite, I can get frustrated. Writing isn’t different from any other project. When I’m in the zone, life is good.

 

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

I leaned so much its hard to know where to begin. The research was fun, especially about the introduction of Buddhism to China. Discovering Emperor Ming’s role in bringing a new religion to the people of that region was amazing. The research about life in Victorian London was also interesting, although I knew a little more about that era. The people in my novel taught me new things concerning emotions and coping with life. My characters have been my teachers in every story I’ve written and White Horse Regressions was no exception.

 

Thank you STEVE LINDAHL for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.

Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Things That Matter Press. More information can be found on my website: www.stevelindahl.com, my blog, www.stevelindahl.blogspot.com, and on Goodreads and Librarything.

 

 

 

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MOTHERLESS SOUL (summary)

by

STEVE LINDAHL

Emily Vinson’s entire life was impacted by the loss of her mother when she was 2 years old. At 82 Emily contacts a hypnotist hoping to draw out hidden memories and discover as much as possible about the short time she spent with the woman who gave her life. Glen Wiley, the hypnotist, teaches her more about herself than she had expected. He helps her bring out memories of many past lives, including an experience that took place on a smoke filled battlefield. All of Emily’s lives have had the same tragic outcome, the loss of her mother at a young age. Her soul is caught in what Glen calls circularity, meaning that the tragedy will occur again and again unless she can break the pattern. She and Glen must revisit her past lives and use what they learn to find the other souls who are part of the circle. They must use the past to change the future. Emily’s stubborn desire to know her mother is realized in intricate and unsettling ways no one could have imagined possible.

 

MOTHERLESS SOUL (excerpt)

 

Glen asked her to count backwards from one hundred.  When she passed fifty-nine he started to guide her saying, “Go back, back further to a time before you were Emily Vinson.  Keep going back.”  His words seemed to run right through her body, like a shot of whiskey.  Glen seemed to be growing distant, although she knew he was right next to her.  She kept counting toward zero, even as he spoke.

Emily lost track of the counting.  She was certain she’d repeated some numbers, but she tried to keep them coming.  She knew she had to do what Glen told her to do.  She closed her eyes.  Shortly after that the dim light she could make out through her lids faded into absolute darkness.

“You’re slipping through time and space into a place that’s been buried in your heart for ages upon ages.  Something important happened to you in this place.  You’re starting to remember what it was like: the smells, the sounds, the texture of the world around you.”

Her eyes started to burn.  Memories were flowing into her head after a period of nothingness and those sensations were different from what she’d experienced the day before.  This time it was as if she were two people.  The person she had been before the session began, the old woman nearing the end of her life, was now watching someone else from inside that other person’s body.  The other person was very young, but in trouble.

“Talk to me, Emily.  Let me know what you’re feeling.”

Emily started to cry.  She wasn’t able to hold back.  Her cry was the loud wail of a hungry baby.  But Emily knew what she felt wasn’t only hunger.  Something was very wrong.

“I can smell smoke and feel heat,” she told Glen.  She was in a trance, but able to speak.  “Images are coming into my head.  I see my mother sitting beside me.  She’s reaching over to pick me up.  I’m an infant, too young to say words or understand what’s happening around me.  There is so much noise, groans from men lying on the ground near us and shouts from other men behind the bushes and trees.  There are blasts of gunfire and the sounds of branches breaking and feet pounding as men run in every direction imaginable.  My mother’s lifting me to her face and kissing me.  Her face is wet with sweat, so are her hair and her arms.  She’s rocking me, comforting me.  This isn’t the mother I saw yesterday, when I was still Emily.  This is a different woman with light brown hair, blue eyes and two small moles under the left side of her mouth.  She is covered in soot and dressed in a torn, filthy cotton dress that hangs loosely on her thin body.

“And then there is the voice of my mother.  Everything will be all right, my darling.  We’ll be home again soon.  We’ll be with Charles and with Grandma.  This will all be over.  I promise.  Remember what God tells us, Charlotte.

“Charlotte is my name.  I’m so very young, but I recognized my name.  I also know this isn’t the first time my mother has prayed with me.  We have been walking for what seems like forever and during that long walk my mother often held me to her chest and talked with a soft, rhythmic voice that comforted me.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

“The words aren’t enough this time.  The noise around us is too loud and the sting from the smoke hurts too much.  A burning tree is crashing down behind us.  I’m crying.  I’m crying so hard.

Remember that I love you, my mother tells me.

“My mother kisses both of my eyes, then my cheek, three long, deliberate kisses.  She holds me on her shoulder and turns my face against her neck, as if her body can be a filter from the smoke.

“My mother starts singing and I listen.  Her voice is so beautiful and no matter what else is happening, I can’t help but listen.

In Scarlett town where I was born…  I know the song. My mother sings it often.  It’s one of her favorites.”

Emily was Charlotte, so she could feel what the baby felt, but she could also understand it with the background her age offered.  Charlotte’s mother was protecting her the only way she could.  She couldn’t stop what was happening, but she could ease the fear for both of them.  “…there was a fair maid dwellin’.”  It was a folk song.  The tone was gentle and soft.  If Charlotte concentrated on it she wouldn’t hear the gunshots or feel the heat of the fires.  She would be at peace.

…her name was Barb’ra Allen.

Then a nearby gun exploded loudly.  Her mother stopped singing and fell to her right side, still holding Charlotte in her arms.

Charlotte lay still.  She was too young to move, too young to do anything other than cry.

Emily was there, too, lying on the body of Charlotte’s dead mother.  She could see the same blood the baby saw and feel the same warm but lifeless flesh.  Charlotte didn’t understand death, but that didn’t lessen the sense of loss.  Grief for the baby was instinctual and hurt in ways that were more akin to physical pain than the sorrow of an anguished adult.  For Emily it was different.  She understood death all too well.

“I won’t let you burn,” the man’s voice said clearly.  He was the one who had walked with them.  Now he was standing above her, where Charlotte could see only his legs.  “Even Charles’ bastard deserves that much.”  He leaned close to her.  His breath smelled bad, worse than the smoke.  He had a knife and he used that knife to cut her.  He sliced her throat with one quick slash and, at that instant, Emily spun back to Glen.

 

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WHITE HORSE REGRESSION (summary)

by

STEVE LINDAHL

The soul is eternal, and no more so than in Steve Lindahl’s White Horse Regressions, the story of a group of individuals destined to share their lives throughout time, be it in ancient China during the Han dynasty, in 19th Century London during Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror, or in a small town rocked by murder in present-day Vermont. It’s been almost a year since Hannah Hersman’s girlfriend was killed, and the police still have no leads, no suspects, and no one in custody. Undeterred and longing for closure, Hannah calls in Glen Wiley, a renowned hypnotist, as a last resort. Glen quickly discovers that in a past life Hannah was a prostitute in Victorian London named Rose and her girlfriend was Annie Chapman, a victim of Jack the Ripper. In fact, many of Hannah’s friends and acquaintances were similarly connected to her, not just in then London but in multiple lives and multiple places throughout history. And, in all these incarnations, their existence is tied to a murderous plot that Hannah and Glen must uncover to ensure their future lives can avoid the pain and misery of losing their loved ones. White Horse Regressions is a compelling supernatural thriller that drops you down the rabbit hole and spits you out into the filthy streets of a not-too-long-ago London, the palatial estates of a long-forgotten China, and the seedy underbelly of small-town America. ~Patrick Lafferty, author of Anno Domina, Thinking Out of the Box, and Miller Time

 

 

WHITE HORSE REGRESSION (excerpt)

PROLOGUE

 

Stuart and Hannah sat in the audience of a small community theater in Springfield, Vermont, examining the set of A Doll’s House while they waited for the performance to begin. Paige was cast as Nora.

“Isn’t that picture odd?” Stuart whispered to Hannah, referring to the Asian-looking painting on the set. It did not belong to late-eighteen-hundreds Norway by any standard. “I’d like to have a closer look.”

“If we stay after the show’s over, there might be a chance we could go up on the stage. I’ll ask Paige.”

Stuart’s wife, Jamie, was also an actress, and when rehearsal and performance schedules prevented Paige and Jamie from attending each other’s shows, their significant others often went together. Jamie was currently in rehearsal for a production of The Drowsy Chaperone, so here they were.

The non-acting partners enjoyed their arrangement. Hannah had known Stuart and Jamie for years; before Paige, she’d been the tag-along friend, but had always felt welcome – more by Stuart than by Jamie.

The lights dimmed then slowly came up again. There was no curtain in this theater, so this was the signal that the performance was about to begin. Paige came out on stage, a dominant figure as always due to her red-orange hair. She set down the presents she was carrying and crossed to a Christmas tree on the far end of the stage. She started to add ornaments when Torvald Helmer, her character’s husband, joined her on the set.

There was no doubt Paige was the star as she made Nora’s transition from naïve to inured believable. Still Hannah could not stop thinking about the odd Asian painting, so out of place on the set.

When the play was over, while the cast was being congratulated by fans, Hannah asked her girlfriend if she and Stuart might look at the set up close. Paige took hold of Hannah’s hand and led them both up onto the stage.

Hannah and Stuart went straight to the Asian painting, which was a watercolor depicting a scene that was, they thought, taking place in China. There were a number of people dressed in the types of robes associated with ancient times in that country who were watching what, at first glance, appeared to Hannah to be a film; a closer look revealed that behind the screen men were holding objects up to cast shadows It was a  form of puppet theater.

“What is this?” Hannah asked Paige.

“It’s been the talk of the cast. No one knows why it was included on the set, but you have to admit it’s fascinating. I suppose it draws attention because it seems out of place, but I wouldn’t want it taken away. There’s something warm about it.”

“Warm?” Stuart asked.

Paige shrugged. “Hard to say why. None of us saw it prior to tech week, so nobody was prepared. Some board member wanted it hung here. I heard he’s a history buff. Anyway, he’s got money so it’s hard to say no. But enough about the set. Tell me what you thought of the show.”

“I’m sorry,” Hannah said, turning to Paige to hug her again. “You were fabulous. I can’t say that enough.”

“Were local models used for this?” Stuart asked, still focused on the painting. “Some of these people look familiar. This young girl in blue, for example, where’d they get her?”

Paige pulled away from Hannah, laughing a little and shaking her head. “I have no idea where or when that painting was done. I know what you mean, though. There’s a man in it I thought might be someone I used to know. I think it’s the way he’s standing, with his shoulders hunched forward. I had a teacher who used to do that, but he wasn’t Asian.”

“Do you two want to go out for coffee?” Hannah offered.

Paige agreed, but Stuart begged off; he needed to pick up his daughter, Starr, from his parents.

***

Their happy mood turned gloomy as Paige was pulled for running a light almost as soon as they started to drive toward downtown Springfield.

“It’s not fair,” Paige said. “I swear someone’s out to get me.”

“It’s just a ticket.”

“No, it’s more than that.” Hannah tried to convince Paige she was being paranoid, but later the words would seem prophetic.

***

The next night Paige’s performance was as spectacular as it had been on opening night.

By the following weekend, the show was canceled. Paige was dead.

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - September 30, 2014 at 6:26 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , ,

Acknowledging Achievements

night-bright-celebration_14287216The other night at my writing group I learned the odds of completing a book are small.

A friend and colleague informed us that 81% of people feel they have a book in them at some point in their lives. Of those, 3% start writing said book, and only 3% of those 3% ever finish it.

This coming week marks the publication of my second novel this year.

I am sharing this not because I feel great about myself, but because oftentimes I do not. I am the first one to point out my deficiencies and failures and the last one to mention anything I may have accomplished. I always look at all the work I have yet to complete rather than acknowledging the work I’ve completed.

But I don’t want to gloat over my achievement, either, because God knows there are enough people in this society who do just that.

Finding the balance is really difficult for me.

Can you relate to this?

Anyway, I’m working on rewarding myself for special achievements. My old rewards were essentially unhealthy so these days I’m seeking different pastures.

One primary reinforcer is food. After accomplishing something special my girlfriend and I will often go out to a nice dinner. Other ways I reward myself include getting new books, new DVDs, going out to see a movie, and for really special celebrations taking a trip, often to Disney World.

I’m curious to find out how you reward yourself in a healthy way for your accomplishments.

And I remain enormously grateful to all of those who helped in the publication of the books, and to my readers.

All my best,

Matt

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Posted by Matthew Peters - September 28, 2014 at 9:55 am

Categories: General Thoughts   Tags: , , ,

Depression: What Do We Tell the Kids?

Talking to our kids about depression may be very difficult, but is the best approach in the long-run. So argues Laura Zera in her guest post, “Depression as a Dinner Table Topic.”

Family

Depression as a Dinner Table Topic — Guest Post by Laura Zera

Starting at an early age, human beings go through life trying to attach meaning to experiences. We want to understand why our hamster died, and how Santa will know if we’ve been good or bad. It’s not enough to tell us “because that’s the way it is” when our minds are spinning tales and hopscotching toward conclusions. As humans, our very power lies in our advanced cognitive processes, and bleeds into our ability to use language as a tool for learning and exploration.

So what happens when, as parents, that magnificent brain of ours flickers and flares, and we find ourselves in the prolonged throes of depression? What do we tell the kids?

We may not want to tell them anything, out of worry they’ll latch onto the idea that Mommy or Daddy must be dying, or that they’ll develop related–and equally traumatic–fears. For children of certain ages, that may be true. But eventually there comes a time when bypassing the depression conversation lessens the power of everyone in the family.

Not talking about it doesn’t mean children are without some level of awareness. Mom doesn’t get up with them in the morning as much anymore. Dad hasn’t laughed in a long time, and he always drinks at night. The house feels different. A kid who doesn’t have all the information will capture things without even consciously comprehending them, and his or her gut instinct will holler, “something isn’t right.” In the absence of conversation, the follow-up emotions lean toward confusion and fear.

I bet you can guess what my prescription is. Have the conversation. I’m not idiot enough to tell you that it will be easy, but here are some things I do know:

  • Difficult conversation creates deeper, more bonded relationships
  • Talking about mental illness reduces the shame and stigma around it
  • Acknowledging and showing our vulnerabilities is what true courage is made of
  • Inviting questions from our kids gives them permission to use their voice, and retain their power

Still need some convincing that it behooves you to be candid and open a dialog with your kids? Let me point to a longitudinal study called ACES, or the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (the full article is fascinating; I hope you’ll read it).

From 1995 to 1997, doctors from Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Preventive Medicine and the Center for Disease Control interviewed more than 17,000 patients about their childhood and then followed them for 15 years afterward. The initial questions asked patients whether they were subject to physical, verbal or emotional abuse or neglect, if one or both parents suffered from a mental illness, if their parents divorced, or if one or both parents had been alcoholics.

What the team of doctors eventually realized is that there’s a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, social and mental problems. The people they talked to who had grown up in difficult environments suffered later in life. The more adverse experiences they had, the higher their adult risk.

Having a parent with a mental illness is considered an adverse experience, but mental illness has also become part of the human condition. We don’t get to pick and choose who will get it, just like we can’t pick and choose whether we’ll be allergic to shellfish and peanuts. So don’t blame yourself for having depression. Talk to your kids about it. Then talk to them some more. One day, they will thank you, both for teaching them the courage to communicate, and for doing the best you could do.

Has this been a dinner table discussion at your house? Or do you disagree with this approach? We’d love to hear from you below.

###

laura_04-web - Crop v2Laura Zera lives in Seattle with her husband, cat and dog. She is the child of a parent with a mental illness, and has intermittent depressive disorder herself (or what she likes to call “winter”). While her ACE score is 4, she gets a different outcome every time she takes the Myers-Briggs. As a writer, Laura’s work has appeared in an essay anthology, and in online publications. She is the author of Tro-tros and Potholes, West Africa: Solo, and recently completed a memoir. You can connect with Laura on her website, or via Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - September 16, 2014 at 6:03 am

Categories: Mental Health   Tags: , ,

Editing: Some Thoughts

blue-pencil-out-from-under-the-bottom_19-108584Currently, I’m editing the first draft of a new novel, the second book in the Nicholas Branson series.

First, let me just say, that historically, I’ve hated editing. All through college and graduate school, I never edited a single paper—including my dissertation.  I simply wrote them and turned them in. Luckily, I always managed to do well.

Now, writing fiction and publishing books, I have to edit. It’s the nature of the beast. I went through my familiar rejection of editing once I started writing fiction. But then, over time, something happened. At some point  I began to see editing as slightly easier than the initial creative process, the stuff it takes to write the first draft of a story.

I’ve even come to see it as rewarding. It’s incredibly satisfying to look back over your writing and say to yourself, “Hey, that’s not too bad,” when you read something that works.

I’ve come to view writing as a layering process, similar to painting. There is no way one can keep all the balls in the air while putting down stories the first time. One must go back and add subsequent layers of complexity. This is the only way I believe good writing is done. I’m somewhat confirmed in this belief when looking at the notebooks of great authors, whose initial drafts were often far from what they eventually published.

I still feel this way. However, I have developed a new fear: namely, that my writing is not going to get any better in subsequent revisions. That my first draft is my peak performance, and that no matter how much time and energy I invest, the writing is essentially going to stay at the same level.

But then I remember that I am not alone in this endeavor. There will be several pairs of eyes that read my work before it gets into the hands of a professional editor, and then, the writing will benefit from the expertise of the professional.

To me the specific process one uses to edit—and everyone ends up developing one that works for them—is less important than the realization that editing only improves the work. It is a second and a third, fourth, and fifth chance to get things “right,” to make the writing as strong as it can be, with the help of other people’s insights.

Again, I am struck by the realization that it takes a village to write a book, and I am humbled and grateful to the many people who assist me along the way.

How do you view editing?

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Posted by Matthew Peters - September 13, 2014 at 6:07 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: ,

Living with Anxiety

red-button_21-77309457I’ve been anxious the last several days, and I’ll tell you why.

With the publication of Conversations Among Ruins I have told some of my story to the world.

I won’t go into what is and isn’t my life as it relates to the book, but I will say that the main character, Daniel Stavros, is, like me, dual diagnosed.

As I’ve mentioned before, I recently engaged a publicist to help promote the book. This has brought me face to face with the realization that increasing the awareness of dual diagnosis will place me in uncomfortable positions.

For example, my publicist has suggested I reach out to local affiliates of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). These groups hold conferences, at which I might be asked to speak.

The thought terrifies me. In addition to major depressive disorder, I have generalized anxiety disorder that includes a certain degree of agoraphobia. Needless to say, speaking in front of groups of people about mental health is not my idea of a good time. Despite the fact that I have much teaching experience, this sort of thing is vastly different than lecturing to college students.

Why?

Because it’s personal.

But the fact that I need to do this without the benefit of mind altering substances is giving me the opportunity to put into practice many of the skills I have learned in recovery.

I’ll share two of these in the hope that they might help someone.

One of my favorite skills is a delaying tactic I call the Not This Second (NTS) mindset. It consists of this: If I don’t have to speak to a roomful of people this very second, I try not to worry about it. After all, what good is worrying about it, if it’s not immediately before me? It consumes a vast amount of emotional resources I could devote to other matters. I know I will be well-prepared when it comes time to speak; that is just my nature.  And once I get going things usually turn out just fine. It is the thought of doing something that is often worse than actually doing it. I have to remember this.

I use the NTS mindset for just about anything that I worry about beforehand. A related strategy I use essentially amounts to bait and switch.

Here’s how it works.

Let’s take two things I worry about: One, speaking at a conference, and two, paying back my student loans. As the speaking event draws closer I say to myself, what I really should be worrying about is paying back my student loans. So I try to hold this thought in mind as long as I can as the speaking event approaches. This serves to take some of the pressure off the one event, and allows me to gain perspective. After the speaking engagement, when I start to worry about my student loans, I’ll comfort myself by saying that while the loans are an issue, at least I don’t have to get up in front of a roomful of people and talk about them. It is largely a matter that can be handled privately.

This is not to stay that I don’t stay in the moment. When I am doing whatever task I am doing I try to focus exclusively on that. So when I speak about dual diagnosis, I think about dual diagnosis, not my student loans. But the bait and switch seems to help in the time leading up to the actual event.

I am going to need your support so I can do my job in spreading awareness of dual diagnosis. Please include me in your thoughts and prayers, if you are so inclined.

Thank you so much.

What strategies do you use to combat anxiety?

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Matt

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Posted by Matthew Peters - September 10, 2014 at 10:55 am

Categories: Mental Health   Tags: , , , ,

My Interview with Bryan Fields

Please welcome Bryan Fields, author of LIFE WITH A FIRE-BREATHING GIRLFRIEND and THE LAND BEYOND ALL DREAMS.

 

Leave a comment to win a free copy of THE LAND BEYOND DREAMS!!!

 

Fields Bio pic

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I’m fifty, live in Denver with my wife Noelle and our daughter Alissa.  I’ve been writing all my life, but I really got serious about five years ago while I was on the development team for an online game called Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted.  I wrote quests, dialog for the non-player characters in the game, and game-based stories for the players.  It was great fun, and once I started, I just kept writing.

My first published book was ‘Life With a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend’, your standard ‘boy meets girl, girl moves in, girl is really a dragon’ story.  The narrator, David, is an alpha geek and gamer whose moral code is based on Doctor Who, meaning he believes intellect and romance will triumph over brute force and cynicism.  Rose is just over a thousand years old, which is the Draconic age of adulthood.  She came to Earth to absorb love and wonder in order to increase the chances her next mating flight will produce happy, healthy hatchlings.  She meets David, and, well, hijinks ensue.

My new book, ‘The Land Beyond All Dreams’ is the sequel to ‘Fire-Breathing Girlfriend’.  David’s mother is in the final stages of lung cancer, and he’s trying to deal with that when he discovers the weight loss drug his company is developing has some nasty side effects, such as murder and cannibalism.

A necromancer named Ingrim Thain killed the head of the research program and took his place.  Thain is using the drug trial as part of a plan for global conquest.  He offers David vast wealth and power, even promising to cure David’s mother’s cancer, if David will simply keep quiet about the drug’s side effects.

If all that weren’t enough to deal with, a hat-wearing cat with working thumbs and a taste for coffee just moved into David’s house.  It’s not going to be a very easy time for them.

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

My favorite is urban fantasy.  I do have some Steampunk stories out, but even in the Steampunk tales, I like adding elements of fantasy.  The interplay of magic and technology has always been one of my favorite thought experiments.  Even back in high school, running 1st Edition D&D games, I wondered what these game worlds would be like once the industrial revolution hit.  What would civilization and government be like with multiple sentient races?  It’s a scenario I still enjoy playing with.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

My fez.  I don’t think any of the other authors I know have a fez with Cthulhu on it.

One difference I can think of is that I’m not aspiring to produce a masterpiece of epic fantasy.  The epic literary adventure school of writing can get along fine without me.  I like to keep my work light and readable, with room for comedy and pop culture references.  One reviewer compared my voice to a mix of Robert Heinlein and Spider Robinson.  To me, it doesn’t get better than that.

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

Both.  My books are published through MuseItUp Publishing, and I have several short stories self-published through Amazon.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

First, bring the emotion.  If the writer doesn’t feel any emotion, neither will the reader.  Second, the only thing you should compare your work to is the previous version.  Lastly, ideas are perverse little buggers and they don’t care what you’re doing when they show up.  Carry a notebook or something similar with you.  Have it next to your bed in case an idea shows up during a dream – because they will.  If one pops up while you’re working on something else, write it down, go back to what you were doing, and finish that first.  One finished project is worth more than an infinite stack of ideas.

 

What are your three favorite books?

Illusions, by Richard Bach.

Moonheart, by Charles deLint

The entire Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

As a reader, I have a hard time choosing between Charles deLint and Richard Bach.  Not just what they said, but how they said it.  Clean, simple, elegant, and moving.

As a writer, I found Richard Bach’s Ferret Chronicles both inspirational and motivating.  One of the stories, ‘Writer Ferrets: Chasing the Muse’, concerns a ferret named Budgeron.  He has a successful children’s book, but is just beating himself to death trying to write the Great Ferret Novel.  All he dreams of is legitimate literary success, and he’s failing, to the point where even touching his pen gives him visions of a dragon attacking, burning, tearing him to ribbons.  How many writers can relate to that?

I came away from that story seeing writing in a completely new way, which comes down to this: if there isn’t joy in your heart when you’re writing, you’re telling the wrong story.

 

Fields life-with-fire-brething-g-medium

 

What are you currently working on?

I just finished ‘Dragon’s Luck’, the third book in my ‘Fire-Breathing Girlfriend’ series.  It takes place in Las Vegas, at a gaming convention in a hotel/casino based on the world’s most popular online fantasy role-playing game.  David and Rose are now the owners of a game company, and are trying to make an online RPG of their own.  It’s not going well, of course, and they need to find an investor.  Instead, they find themselves drawn in to a religious war between the Dark Elves of a distant world.

David and Rose also meet a family of retired high-level adventurers from what would be considered a D&D campaign world.  They came to Earth as tourists and decided to stay for the flush toilets and fast cars.  It was fun to have a go at some traditional fantasy tropes and write characters who were used to solving problems with a sword or a lightning bolt.  They’re wealthy, they have no fear at all of reprisal or the criminal justice system, and they consider ‘killing people and taking their stuff’ to be a viable career path.  I mean, just imagine dealing with a bratty little sister who knows magic.

I really enjoyed writing this book, especially the issues with David’s gaming studio.  I didn’t even have to make anything up; I just asked my friends in the gaming industry to tell me about the worst or craziest situations they had ever encountered.    The responses I got were just a gold mine.  One example I wound up not using was an instance where an investor wanted the designers to add sexual animations and explicit chat channels to a Teen-rated fantasy MMO.  I guess he wanted to change ‘Looking for Group’ to ‘Looking for Grope’…

 

What are you currently reading?

I have a stack of new stuff by Charles deLint and Neil Gaiman I’m trying to work through.  I’m also trying to find the time to read ‘The Killer Angels’ as a Steampunk reference.  On top of that, I’m in the middle of three or four books written by friends.  I hate putting them down, because I’m lucky enough to know some really good writers

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

There is, and a few people have commented on it.  I wanted the lifestyle choices of the characters not to be an issue within the story.  People love who they love, believe what they believe, and that’s it.  There’s no preaching and no fanfare to it.

One philosophy I truly believe in and do my best to practice is the Star Trek ideal of Infinite Diversity from Infinite Combinations.  Even people who advocate everything I oppose have value, a place in the universe, and a right to be here, just like mosquitos, earwigs, and slime molds.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

That ship has sailed…

Seriously, though, it’s the writing that keeps me sane.  I don’t write because I expect to change the world; I write because I enjoy telling stories.

 

Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

Hey, that yak was dead when I got th- I mean, no.  No, not really.

 

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

The biggest obstacle is always putting butt in chair and words on paper.  There are so many distractions available to pull your attention away from writing…  Even the critical ones, like buying more coffee and promoting your books, are leeching productive time away.  That’s why I talked about finishing your current project earlier.  Great ideas, natural talent, a gripping writing style – all these things are worth crap if you never finish anything.

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

I like marketing and self-promotion the least, but it’s an unavoidable evil.

What I like best is simply telling stories.  Storytelling originated around the fire, as a way of driving back the night, and the terrors hidden in it.  Before written language, before schools and temples and governments, the stories we told turned mobs into communities and taught us who we are as a people.  Stories still have that power today.

To borrow from Whitman, the storyteller’s fire still burns, and we… may contribute our tales

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/BryanFieldsAuthor

Blog: http://laughingotterslair.blogspot.com/

Book: http://www.amazon.com/Land-Beyond-All-Dreams-ebook/dp/B00LU4772E/ref=la_B00HNVCHOQ_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410189650&sr=1-5

Book: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/new-releases/the-land-beyond-all-dreams-detail

Thank you Bryan Fields for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.

Fields The Land Beyond All Dreams

 

Excerpt from The Land Beyond Dreams

Being surrounded by cyclone winds and a circling wall of black clouds was enough to convince even the skeptics we were in trouble. The BADASSES formed up and nocked arrows in record time. The regular customers took a few seconds longer, but in no more than half a minute everyone was armed and ready.

Jake called out, “First volley! Aim for the head! Nock and draw!” He waited until the angry haggis straightened up to get a better grip on the shutters. As soon as the whole head was visible, he shouted, “Loose!” Fourteen arrows sank into the ugly bastard’s forehead. He stumbled backward and collapsed.

Jake took three steps forward, calling out, “Nock and draw! First priority is anyone with a ranged weapon and anyone casting a spell! Aim for the head and fire at will!” As he spoke, he elevated his aim and fired at a figure wearing ruined robes. Everyone else began firing in earnest.

The ranks of dead guys charged the building. The first ones to reach the wall just grabbed it and stood there. More grabbed on to them, kneeled down, or climbed up and found something of their own to hang on to. In seconds, the first two ranks turned themselves into siege ladders, and the rest of the army started climbing up to attack us.

Ackerman ran to the edge, firing round after round into the supporting corpses’ skulls. Part of the line fell. More surged in to replace them. Ackerman fell back and reloaded his Glock while Wells stepped up to take over.

A dead woman wearing nothing but bits of broken jewelry popped up from behind one of the cars. She pointed at Wells and a bolt of lightning turned him into a spray of small wet chunks. I fired at her without aiming. The arrow pinned her to our Range Rover. Ackerman blew the top of her skull off.

A soldier did a salmon-leap onto the roof and hurled his axe at our line. It missed. Three arrows dropped him. Two more soldiers replaced him. One wore a steel helm—five arrows bounced off before Miranda got her Glock out and dropped him.

A single Dwarf in heavy plate broke off and charged the feed store. I snapped a shot at him. It bounced off his pauldron. Three guys armed with hand tools made a stand by the entrance, and he cut them down without stopping. His axe split the door down the middle. He ripped it away and vanished into the store.

I heard the screaming start, and looked for a way off the roof. Someone shouted my name. Jake was shaking my shoulder. He was shouting, telling me to hold the line. I shook his hand off and started toward the edge of the roof. As I did, half a dozen corpses heaved themselves onto the roof and took up a defensive formation protecting those climbing up behind them.

If they established a beachhead, we were all dead. I drew Kindness and charged.

The first dead guy took a step back, right into two of his buddies. One stroke gained me three heads. I blocked a sword, sliced the head off a mace, and turned one orc into two half-orcs.

One of the soldiers jumped on my back, pulling a cloak over my head. I spun to the right, dropping to one knee and holding Kindness at full extension. I felt the blade slice through something and heard a body drop.

The bastard on my back stabbed me. The blade skipped along my ribs. I reached back, grabbed a handful of bone, and flipped the guy over my shoulder. The cloak went with him. I thrust Kindness up through his jaw and out the top of his head.

Ackerman fired two more rounds into the undead horde and fell back. I followed, clearing the field for the others to keep shooting.

A dead Elven woman leaped onto the roof of the Range Rover. She aimed and fired two arrows before her feet touched metal. The arrows struck Hugh and Emme, a couple I only knew slightly through BADASSES, and emerged from their backs. The arrowheads split open and spread out like flower petals.

Gold chains trailed from the arrows back to the Elf. She grabbed the chains and yanked Hugh and Emme off the roof. Dead soldiers swarmed the spot where they fell.

Ackerman fired his last three rounds at the Elf. She dodged them, nocked, and let fly. Her arrow split into three shafts, and then again into nine. All nine arrows struck. Three in his heart, three in his throat, three in the middle of his forehead.

Miranda dropped to one knee and aimed her Glock, shouting “Keep her busy!” Jake and Ember launched a volley of arrows at the Elf. She grabbed two arrows out of the air and nocked both. Miranda fired just as the Elf loosed. Rotting Elf brains sprayed all over my car.

One arrow sent the Glock flying. The other went through Miranda’s eye. She fell backward and didn’t move. Jake sank down on his knees next to her. Ember dropped her bow and joined him. I looked away, and spotted the dead Dwarf hauling himself up onto the far end of the roof. He rolled to his feet and charged.

I walked out to meet him. He leaped, swinging his axe over his head with both hands. Kindness removed both arms and his head. I didn’t feel any joy. I didn’t feel any satisfaction. I felt like I was killing a mosquito.

Harmony and Rose came out onto the roof. Rose was armored up, as I assumed Harmony was. Harmony stood at the edge of the roof, arms out at her side. She brought her hands up and around in front of her face, thumbs down and palms out. She began chanting in Draconic, sounding like a pair of didgeridoos pitched about three octaves apart. As she moved her hands apart, a wall of force pushed the undead back, away from the front of the store.

Rose stepped up next to Harmony, moving her hands around an antifreeze-green ball of energy. She brought it above her head and hurled the spell out over the mass of undead. The ball burst, and green flames rained down on them.

I spotted Thain standing against the far side of Harmony’s energy barrier. He tried spell after spell, attempting to break through the barrier. All of them failed. The green flames enveloped his legs and back. Flames blossomed inside his ribcage, sending burning pieces of parchment wafting to the ground. He fell to his knees, pounding on the barrier with his fists. He kept pounding on the barrier until the flames burned his arms into ash.

Harmony kept chanting far beyond any Human lung capacity, until the last of the fires died and nothing moved anymore. She released the spell and staggered back from the edge of the roof. She embraced Ember, and I did the same with Rose.

“What happened? What was all that? Are we safe?” The last two survivors of Lucas’ regular customers, a husband and wife in their mid-sixties, clutched at each other and stared, half-dazed from shock and adrenaline.

I looked around. I didn’t see any more dead soldiers, but that wasn’t much comfort. All around us, the cyclone was still roaring and churning away. Even looking straight up I couldn’t see open sky. “That was being attacked by an army of the dead, and no, I don’t think we’re safe yet.”

Rose shook her head. “No, we’re not. The portal would have collapsed by now if Thain were dead. He’s trying to trick us.”

Jake and I moved the people we’d lost off the line and arranged them next to the stairway. We had nothing to cover their faces with, so we closed their eyes as best we could. I tried to say something to Jake about Miranda, but he brushed me off. “We’ll hug it out when the bastard’s dead. Now cover me while I get the shotguns.”

He went out the side door, pulled two gear bags out of the trunk of his car, and ran back inside. Rose and I stood ready to shoot at anything moving toward him, but the field stayed clear. When Jake got back up on the roof, he draped one of Miranda’s uniform shirts over her face before setting about getting both shotguns loaded.

Neither our cell phones nor Ackerman’s radio were getting any signal. Ember tried the shop’s land line and got no dial tone. She grabbed a rubber-tipped small game arrow and wrote out a short message, which she secured to the shaft with rubber bands. Back on the roof, she aimed the arrow as high as she could and sent it flying into the wall of wind. “You never know,” she said. “Message in a bottle and all that.”

“This tornado has to be visible from downtown Denver,” I said. “The Lafayette police are missing two officers, and three people just tried to make it out of here. If they succeeded, if the way was clear, at the very least we should have seen a robot camera being sent in by now. Based on all that, I’d say we’re cut off.”

“Cut off by whom?” Ron asked. “And what do they want?” He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Try again. Why is whoever they are trying to kill us?”

“To keep us from stopping his invasion of Earth,” I said. “He’s not going to give up until we’re dead.”

Ron gestured to the empty parking lot. “So, where is he?”

“He’s here. He’s watching, probably planning a second attack. He wouldn’t send all of his forces in at once. He’ll find a weak… Oh, shit.” I turned around and looked at the grain elevator towering over us.

Something moved on top of the grain elevator. It was Thain, flanked by several horribly familiar shapes.

I grabbed my bow and shouted, “Hostiles on the grain elevator!” I loosed one of my flint-tipped arrows, aiming on instinct alone. It was enough. The arrow sunk into Thain’s chest, but he did not drop. Instead, he crumbled into broken pieces of clay, which fell and shattered on the ground.

In response, two of the undead Dragon hatchlings launched themselves off the grain elevator, streaking toward us with outstretched claws.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - September 9, 2014 at 6:45 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , ,

Writing Small

continental-wall-picture-frame-material_38-7185Sometimes writing can be overwhelming.

How are we supposed to keep all those balls up in the air? Plot, character development, and pacing, the pesky rules of grammar, word choice, and sentence structure. It’s enough to drive a writer crazy.

When I start to feel particularly overwhelmed I use a trick suggested by people who know worlds more about writing than I do.

Anne Lamott, in her incomparable book on writing and life, Bird by Bird, admits that writing can be a daunting endeavor. She talks about how she keeps a one-inch picture frame on her desk.

Lamott says of the one–inch picture frame: “It reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being.”

She also recalls E. L. Doctorow’s sage advice that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Lamott adds, “You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.”

Well said. Well said, indeed.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - September 8, 2014 at 9:46 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , ,

Guest Blog Post by Penny Estelle

September 13, 2014, marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Fort McHenry and the writing of what would eventually become the United States’ national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

 

But once again, historians have left out some important information.  Sammy (Samantha) Brown, a 7th grader in Miss Wickware’s history class, played a key role in the whole process.  Without her, Mr. Key may have never been on the boat that gave him a bird’s eye view of the whole battle which prompted the famous poet to….maybe you just have to read the story yourself.

 

Bumped Back In Time Book 4 of The Wickware Sagas.  Take a look at

 

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=146&Itemid=82

http://www.amazon.com/Bumped-Back-Wickware-Sagas-ebook/dp/B00FGDS9MM

http://www.amazon.com/Penny-Estelle/e/B006S62XBY

 

 

Bumped Back In Time 200x300 (1)

 

Excerpt

A full moon lit up the bedroom.  Sammy lay on the feather mattress in the dark, staring at the ceiling.  The window was wide open, a breeze stirring the curtains, though it did nothing to take away the mugginess of the night air.  The nightgown Sarah had given Sammy was drenched with sweat and it stuck to her like a second skin.

 

She got up and walked to the balcony.  Dr. Beanes had been right about his wife.  Sarah had sat Sammy down and got her a bowl of left over wild turkey and boiled sweet potatoes, which she inhaled.

 

The older woman tisked her tongue and her head shook in sympathy, distressed at the poor girl’s story.  “Your mother must be worried beyond belief,” Sarah said.

 

“Oh, I’m sure she’s freaking out all over the place,” Sammy snorted.  “And like she’ll ever buy this story!”

 

“I don’t understand.  You write stories to sell to your freakish mother?”

 

Sammy had to chuckle at that one. “No.  She’s just going to kill me.”

 

Outraged, the woman came to her feet.  “She will do no such thing.  William will make sure that you are safe!”

 

Staring into the night, Sammy smiled at the memory.  She had assured Sarah it was only a saying, but the woman did not seem convinced.

 

The sound of horses, riding up to the Beanes’ home, brought Sammy out of her reverie.  At least ten men, all in red coats, jumped off their horses and headed toward the house.

A serving girl tapped on Sammy’s door before opening it.  “Please ma’am, Mistress Beanes would like you to come to her room, quickly.”  She turned to lead the way without waiting for a reply, Sammy, hurrying to catch up.

 

The scene that greeted Sammy when the bedroom opened had the hairs on the back of her neck, not only standing straight out at attention, but screaming “run…hide…wake up!”  Goose bumps broke out on her sweaty body.

 

Dr. Beanes was sitting on a chair putting on his shoes while Sarah was wringing her hands and pale as the snow-white nightgown she was wearing.

 

Before Sammy could utter a word a BANG BANG BANG came from the door downstairs and that’s when all hell broke loose!

 

 

* * * *

 

Thanks to everybody for stopping by to take a look.  Bumped Back in Time is the fourth story in the Wickware Sagas.  There are five all together.

 

Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare

Ride of a Lifetime

Flash to the Past

Bumped Back in Time

Riches to Rags

 

These are all short, time travel adventures involving seventh graders in Miss Wickware’s history class.  They must draw a name from a box and do an oral report.  SOMEHOW, they end up back in time to get up close and personal with their drawn subject!

 

I also have a printed version of the Wickware Sagas.  This can be found at

http://www.amazon.com/The-Wickware-Sagas-Penny-Estelle/dp/1499179502

 

Due to the 200th anniversary of The Star Spangled Banner, MuseItUp is offering Bumped Back in Time for 99 cents for the first two weeks in September.  Check it out at

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=146&Itemid=82

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - September 5, 2014 at 4:39 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , ,

My Interview with Sara Jayne Townsend

Please welcome Sara Jayne Townsend, author of DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL

Townsend_pic1

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on or promoting.

I’m a UK-based writer with a day job, keeping busy fitting the writing in around it.  The first two novels in my series about contemporary amateur sleuth Shara Summers are being released shortly – DEATH SCENE, the first book, on 22 September, and DEAD COOL, the second, on 25 November.

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

Crime and horror.  I say that the common theme is that someone always dies horribly, in whatever I write!  There are differences in the two genres as well.  Crime tends to have a tighter structure, and there is generally a happy ending, in that the murderer is identified and caught.  Horror doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending – sometimes the Big Bad is not stopped.  My horror is darker, and often has – though not necessarily – supernatural elements.  My crime is set firmly in the real world.

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I don’t have an agent, but have always gone with small publishers.  The two forthcoming amateur sleuth novels are being published by MuseItUp Publishing.

My first novel, the supernatural horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN, was published by Lyrical Press in 2010.  I had a three-year contract on that so when the rights reverted back to me I decided to re-release it as a self-published e-book.  It had already been edited so all I had to do was produce a new cover, so I commissioned an artist friend to create one for me.

Self-publishing still has a bad rap.  I don’t think there’s a problem with authors self-publishing books but they must do two very important things with the manuscript before they do so – put it through a professional editing process, and make sure it has a decent cover.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Get used to rejection, and never give up.  It’s always crushing to have someone reject your work, but it’s part of the process.  I always make a list of places to submit to when I’ve finished a manuscript.  I start at the top of the list.  When the rejection comes back, I allow myself a day or so to wallow in disappointment, then I send it out to the next name on the list.  Eventually there will be a yes.  But it’s important to keep getting back on the horse.

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

There are two authors I love equally, one in horror and one in crime.

My favourite horror author is Stephen King.  I love the way he writes about ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Sara Paretsky is my inspiration for crime writing.  I love her female private eye VI Warshawski.  VI is a whisky-drinking independent-minded woman who refuses to be scared off in her quest to get to the truth, and as a result she gets shot at a lot.  But I think she’s a wonderful character, and Sara Paretsky is a great writer.

 

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on what I hope will be the final draft of a supernatural horror novel, about a group of live action role players who unwittingly raise a powerful undead entity in the course of a game, and then have to stop it before it destroys them all.

I’m also working on the plot summary for the third Shara Summers book, which I hope to be able to get on with writing soon.

Townsend_pic3

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Elizabeth the first.  I have a great deal of admiration for her as a woman in a man’s world, trying to prove that a woman could do just as good a job as a monarch as a man, and refusing to marry because she knew that if she did, her husband would over-rule her as monarch.

 

What are you currently reading?

MURDER by Sarah Pinborough, the second book in her ‘Mayhem’ series.  It’s set in Victorian London in the era of Jack the Ripper, but is about an entirely different set of murders.  It is dark, gruesome and disturbing – and brilliantly well-written.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

I play computer games.  I am particularly fond of the Resident Evil series, and Dragon Age.  Sometimes I find it’s really helpful to just switch off and blast zombies for a while.

 

Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

Because I’m a writer with a day job, I have to be extremely disciplined in trying to fit everything in.  What tends to be sacrificed the most is sleep.  Twice a week I get up at 5:30am to take the early train into London, and I sit in Starbucks for an hour with the NetBook to write before going to the office.  I find I don’t get much done in the evenings after work – the thoughts of the day intrude too much.  So for me, writing first thing in the morning, before my brain gets cluttered with other stuff, and before the internal editor wakes up, is the best time for me to get any writing done.  In the evenings, I tend to work on promotional stuff, updating the blog and catching up on emails instead.

I don’t watch a lot of TV and I don’t do housework – though the day job allows me to afford a cleaner, so I’m not living in complete squalor.

When I’m going through the editing cycle with my publisher I tend to have to sacrifice social activities on weekends, since this is the only time I can generally sit down and crash through edits without distractions.

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/sara.jayne.townsend

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/sarajtownsend

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3500282.Sara_Jayne_Townsend

Buy links on MuseItUp:  http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/70-our-authors/authors-t/420-sara-jayne-townsend

Blog:  http://sayssara.wordpress.com/

Website:  http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/

 

Thank you Sara Jayne Townsend for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.

 

 

 Townsend_pic2

Blurb for DEATH SCENE

Poking around in family closets produces skeletons…

British-born, Toronto-based, actress Shara Summers turns amateur sleuth when her sister is stricken with a mysterious illness. Summoned back to England to be with her family during a time of crisis, Shara discovers doctors are at a loss as to what’s causing Astrid’s debilitating sickness.

After her aunt is found dead at the bottom of the stairs the death is deemed an accident. Shara suspects otherwise. Her investigation unearths shocking family secrets and a chilling realization that could have far-reaching and tragic consequences that affect not only her own future, but Astrid’s as well.

DEATH SCENE is coming 22 September from MuseItUp Publishing:

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/coming-soon/death-scene-detail

 

 

Opening of DEATH SCENE

Approaching the steps down to Bethesda Terrace, the two men were up ahead, the first running directly toward me, the man chasing him carrying a gun.  As I dodged out of the way of the first man, the one following brought up the gun, and fired.

I dropped the bag and clutched my chest.  Falling down the steps, rolling and bumping and finally landing on my back on the concrete at the foot of the steps; lying still, my eyes closed, my head tilted slightly to one side, my cheek resting against my forearm.  In spite of being protected by a woolly hat, my ears were cold.  Ice water seeped through my jeans and froze the seat of them to the concrete beneath me.  My buttocks were going numb.  Thick liquid pooled across my chest and dripped into the snow.  My back was aching from the fall down the steps.

“Cut!” the director hollered.

I opened my eyes and took a grateful gulp of air.  Camera Three loomed above me after closing in on my death scene.  Behind it, the cameraman, Rob, grinned and gave me the thumbs-up.  Standing, I smiled back at him and looked down impassively at the crimson stain that had spread across my chest.  The ‘squib’—what the special effects team called the blood bag—was fitted underneath my sweater.  The button was hidden in the palm of my hand, and pressing it as I fell had triggered a small explosion that released the blood effect.

The leather shoulder bag stuffed with screwed-up newspaper to bulk it out was still at the top of the steps, where it had been tossed before my fall.  Shivering and rubbing my arms I climbed back up the steps to retrieve it.  The padded jacket, two sweaters, scarf, and woollen gloves I wore did little to stave off the sub-zero temperature.

Behind the barriers, erected to block off the area of Central Park required for filming, a curious crowd had gathered.  There were murmurs as I passed by; people craning their necks trying to catch sight of someone famous.  As soon as they worked out I wasn’t someone famous, their eyes scanned past me quickly.

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4 comments - What do you think?
Posted by Matthew Peters - September 3, 2014 at 4:03 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , ,

Win a Free Copy of Conversations Among Ruins

Car Cover front (1)I have some exciting news.

Starting today you have a chance to win a signed copy of Conversations Among Ruins!

Just click the button on the right to enter.

The contest runs from September 1 through November 1.

Here is a little more about Conversations Among Ruins:

Have you ever struggled with addiction or mental illness? Can you imagine what it is like having both? And what happens when just as you feel the world slipping away, you fall in love with the one person who seems to offer redemption? Conversations Among Ruins, takes readers into the heart and mind of a man on the brink of losing everything and finding it all. It is a portrait of a descent into madness, and the potential of attaining salvation there.

While in detox, Daniel Stavros, a young, dual diagnosed* professor meets and falls in love with the cryptic Mimi Dexter. But Mimi has secrets and, strangely, a tattoo identical to a pendant Daniel’s mother gave him right before she died. Drawn together by broken pasts, they pursue a twisted, tempestuous romance. When it ends, a deteriorating Stavros seeks refuge at a mountain cabin where a series of surreal experiences brings him face to face with something he’s avoided all his life: himself. Though miles away, Mimi’s actions run oddly parallel to Daniel’s. Will either be redeemed, or will both careen toward self-destruction?

*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.

Six out of every hundred Americans suffer from dual diagnosis. Find out just how terrifying it can be, but discover there is hope.

 

Praise for Conversations Among Ruins:

“Mr. Peters’s writing is effortlessly poetic…The novel presents a stark sometimes cold reality, but has heart and soul and even a mystical perspective.”

D. M. Denton, author of A House Near Luccoli

 

“The imagery is powerful, the narrative drive compelling, and the language wonderfully lyrical.”

P. J. Wetzel, author of Out of Crystal Ice

 

“This is an excellent read on its own, but is sure to strike a somber chord with those whose lives have been touched by the dark spirits of substance abuse and depression.”

Tyler Johnson, author of Tales from the Red Book of Tunes

 

I wish you the best of luck in the contest!

Matt

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5 comments - What do you think?
Posted by Matthew Peters - September 1, 2014 at 6:51 am

Categories: Addiction, Dual Diagnosis, Mental Health, Writing   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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