Final Post

I’m sorry to say that Writer’s Block Party has seen its final post.

All you readers have been wonderful. We’ve had a fantastic year, with almost 20,000 unique visits and over 4,000 followers. You guys made this project possible. So thank you. I’ll never forget this blog and all the amazing people I met while I managed it.

However, in addition to my job at the library, I’m starting a second job teaching physics at Eastern Kentucky University. I’m also applying to graduate school there, since faculty gets their tuition waived, to get my MFA in creative writing at EKU, as well as starting the sequel to Crystallized. I just don’t have the time to keep this blog up anymore. I hope I made a little bit of a difference in the lives of all those struggling writers out there while I could.

The blog will remain live, since I have about nine more months on the domain. So authors who have been featured here, please feel free to continue using your posts in the promotion of your books. All posts will remain live for at least nine more months.

The email associated with this blog has been de-activated. If you wish to contact me, you may do so at blackfire9786 (at) gmail (dot) com, or lisamtaylor (at) zoho (dot) com.  Both these addresses are functional and checked daily.

Thank you again to everyone who was a part of this project. I hope to keep in touch with many of you!

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Book Feature – Abandon by Stephanie Dorman

Annalise never thought she’d live to see the apocalypse, but after the 2012 election she finds herself in a world that is falling apart. Riots are occurring everywhere and when her ex-boyfriend Cort texts her with an escape plan, she accepts the invite and follows him to the mountains of Western Maryland.

Once they make it to their destination though, everything is not as it seems. The power has gone out, cell phone service is non-existent, and the six friends find themselves trapped in a vacation home with no way to discover what is going on elsewhere in the United States.

Turns out, they might not really want to know after all…

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Zombies / ChickLit

Rating – PG13

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Author Interview with Leandi Cameron

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? This is quite a hard question – I would love to see the future, the changes that have happened, and how ‘gracefully’ we have ruined our beautiful world. I would love to see how technology has changed our lives and if we have taken our own advice on environmental issues and stopped the war on terror. I would love to see whether people in South Africa have finally come to a point where they can truly tolerate each other, and that Nelson Mandela’s ideals have finally made its way into our hearts, lives and future.

I would love to see whether Rhino’s are still alive or extinct, and whether we were able to stop the illegal trade of their beautiful tusks. All of these things are definitely issues that I would love to have a glimpse in on, but what I would love the most, is to go back in time. I am fascinated with so many eras gone by. Our history is what makes us; it is what forms us, and it is what will dictate our future and, therefore, it is the best place to start – at the beginning of everything. How fantastic would it be to go back in time; to see the earth form; to see people live in caves; to see the Ice Age; to see people living in Venice, dressed in masks and beautiful attire and living lives of promiscuity? How fantastic would it be to really be present, absorb all of those era’s, create memories and bring them back into today’s reality and be able to make them true, once again, and writing a book about my ‘travels’ back in time. No truer account of history can be told than that of someone who has lived it. I am fascinated with history. It truly is what has formed us today.

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose? I have been asked this question before, and truly, it is a hard question, because there are many people I would love to have to dinner. Unfortunately, some of the people in my dreams of the perfect dinner don’t really always include people who actually lived. Many of my characters are fantasy and people I wish into being. Wouldn’t it be wonderful! But, to be realistic, here is my list, and don’t laugh!

Thor, Zeus or any mythological god or goddess – yes, this sounds weird, but how cool would it be to meet an actual mythological god? They were, indeed our first gods before we modernised

Jesus – I would love to be in on his adventures and love to ask the many ‘why’s’ I have in my head.

Socrates – a master philosopher, and I could listen to his stories and thinking all day long.

Plato – Imagine having Socrates and Plato sitting around the same table, deliberating abut their different philosophies. I would be fascinated.

Charles Darwin – a master of psychology, with ideals and a thought process that absolutely astounds me.

This would definitely create a very interesting dinner conversation!

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you? My husband, because I would love for some good conversation and to share adventures with.

A rubber duck boat for when I decide to get off the island.

A magic wand – one always have to defend yourself against all the evils and weird creatures lurking in the dark. Besides, when you’re done having your adventure, you can conjure yourself back to reality.

What is one book everyone should read? I love philosophy, and it is quite inspiring to read the philosophies of some of the great minds of the past. One book that I believe everyone should read is the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. It is a heart-wrenching, eye-opening and a humbling novel. It looks deeper into the psyche of the human-being and shows us in our true raw form.

If you were a superhero what would your name be? Atheria

If you could have any superpower what would you choose? I would be able to change forms – which means, I could be anything or anyone I want aka a shapeshifter.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Rum and Raisin is quite nice, but I don’t eat ice cream all that much – I am more of a chocolate kind of girl.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose? I wouldn’t want to ‘meet’ anyone per se, but I would love to see my father again.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Not big on breakfast, but if I do eat breakfast, I love to indulge myself into bran muffins.

Night owl, or early bird? Definitely a night owl.

One food you would never eat? Asparagus – absolutely disgusting.

Pet Peeves? People who can’t write but who call themselves writers. Writing is a form of art, and some people misuse it, don’t respect it, and never realise the true power of it. I also despise nasty people. Because I was bullied throughout my primary and high-school years, I absolutely stand firmly against bullies. Even among adults bullies still exist, and nothing makes me so unhappy as seeing or experiencing someone look down upon others or treat them as lesser. We are all equal, and we all deserve to be treated with respect.

Skittles or M&Ms? Definitely Skittles.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Who would ever have thought that shapeshifters were created because of a brawl between two gods for the love of a human – it is a new, fresh take on modern-day paranormal fantasy, and teenagers can still indulge in their favourite genres of love, vampires, werecats and other mythological characters; all in one novel.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?  The follow-up novel in the A Tale of the Other Kind series, A Therian Struggle is currently in the works. I am also thinking of writing a non-fiction book on mythological characters, aimed at entertaining teenagers on the facts and beginnings of their favourite paranormal fantasy characters.

I further want to explore creating separate novels for each of my characters due to their strong presences and background stories that I have created for them – they all deserve to tell their stories.

I further want to deeper explore children’s literature, with a tale that was written by my father and I a long time ago, that is too beautiful of a story of love, loss and triumph not to tell, and will be an uplifting tale.

I also have a series of books that I have half-written that I have to revisit and probably complete. So, there is quite a bit that I have set out for my writing career. As a newspaper editor I would probably continue building on our newspaper to make it the best in our district.

But, for my company that I own with my sister, House of LeaVik, and through which I chose to independently publish my novel, I would like to grow it and make it a self-sufficient and powerful entity in all three of its specialties – editorial, publishing & design; makeup artistry & fashion styling & the online retail store we are currently pursuing. Dreams never end and I will always have goals and projects that I will be working on.

What inspired you to want to become a writer? It probably sounds like the world’s biggest cliché, but I was born to be creative. I was born to write and sketch. My veins are filled with ink and my hands itch to put pen to paper. I am drawn to books like addicts are drawn to their drugs and alcohol. When I write, or draw, I feel liberated; I am exported to another world that I create for myself – one I wish I could live in. I become my protagonist, and I become my characters. And for those periods when I indulge, I am nothing but my characters. They are who I am.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. Nothing felt more profound than the moment that I finally completed my novel and had the final hardcopy in my hands. Years of hard work and a dream was finally realised. I finally feel that I have made it. Now, only, I hope that others will enjoy it as much as I did writing it.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – YA Paranormal Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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Official Media Pack 

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Author Interview with Aliefka Bijlsma

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? Until about five years ago I’d have said “future”. I think looking back and longing for the past intensifies as we get older. I suppose so little of life makes sense and the more we live it, the less we understand. So we hope to find answers hidden in the past, at a time when the present seemed disposable as our lives were relatively clear. And as a writer, closely looking at the past, even if it’s very recent, goes with the job. Simply writing down something someone said means you’re looking back.

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose? John Coetzee, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Susan Sontag, Obama, Janis Joplin

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you? My son (albeit I’d not want him there if I thought it was dangerous J), my two sisters. The three of those people combined would mean: adventure, medical care, practical insight.

If you were a superhero what would your name be? Pepi van Dongen (we used to say that combining your first pet’s name with your mother’s last, would make an excellent porn-star name, so why not superhero…).

If you could have any superpower what would you choose? Reading thoughts. Actually, maybe that would freak me. Uhm: X-Ray vision?

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Caramel

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose? My grandma

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Yoghurt and fruit

Night owl, or early bird? Early bird

One food you would never eat? Insects of any kind

Skittles or M&Ms? M&Ms

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Because you don’t want to make the same mistakes in life my characters did.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? I have an idea for a new novel which is set in Ghana (Kumasi). It could well be my first historical novel, although I’d like to write it as if we’re on (or under) the skin of the protagonist: the wife of a British governor. Steamy and from the senses.

Future projects: I’m hoping the two screenplays I’ve been working on will enter a next stage, and I’ve currently been commissioned to write a Kid’s TV Series.

What inspired you to want to become a writer? I always wrote as a child and teenager, but never considered it as a profession. I became a lawyerm but woke up one day not being able to speak. The struggle to speak lasted almost two years until I found a proper balance in treatments (I have a neuroligical disorder which I won’t bore you with). Writing was my outlet. Slowly but surely, I allowed myself to see writing as not just a hobby, but a craft.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. When readers find me through the internet and say my novel touched them in some way.

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be? Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

What is your dream cast for your book? Stephen Fry as the Consul General. Penelope Cruz as Leandra.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? Keep going, persistence is key.

If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why? Achilles – fast and a good warrior, yet vulnerable.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Somewhere peaceful… which is?…

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? Various things at various stages. Dancer, actress, lawyer, doctor.

How did you know you should become an author? A piece I had written was turned into a play, and my words had an affect on the audience, to such an extent that one woman cried and thank me. She came from the Caribbean. The theme of my piece had been that we all have our struggles, despite our skin colour or ancestry. A white women can have an equally hard time finding a place in this western society.

Who are your favorite authors of all time? Shakespeare.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters? I am in all of them.

What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?  If we were to undo the wrongdoings in history, starting with a president who ships all ancestors of slaves back to Africa…. What would happen to the world?

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? Know your strengths and don’t waste time trying to turn your weaknesses into strengths. My ex-husband told me this. It sounds so simple but it’s incredibly hard for me.

Hidden talent? Dance (flamenco, salsa, merengue – all of it!)

Favorite Food? Indonesian

Favorite Candy? Potato chips

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year? I hate to admit, but the new Bond movie… apart from that, I usually take things as they come. Also in terms of books.

What was your favorite children’s book? This one’s really hard to answer. I suppose just simly the Grimm fairytales.

Nickname? Alief

How do you react to a bad review? I don’t react, I just go catatonic for a few hours and then allow myself to be depressed for a day or two. After which I’ve found anough arguments to peel the criticisms off me.

If you were a bird, which one would you be? Swallow. Or let me put it this way: I’d hope to be a swallow. They are so playful and elegant at the same time.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why? John Coetzee’s Disgrace. He writes with such elegance and precision. It’s mindblowing to study his sentences, his technique. Not a single superfluous word. Sometimes it seems almost mathematical and I wouldn’t like that, were it not for the fact that he brings across such intense emotions in his portrayal of human failure and nature. On top of it, the themes of Disgrace and the story itself is such an accurate depiction of the post-colonial drama, in my opinion. There’s such femininity to it too, it’s almost like I’ve met the people he describes. It’s the novel I would have wanted to be able to write myself.

You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy? A small rackshackle getaway by the sea. The sea somehow always manages to open up my mind.

Which authors have influenced you most and how?  This is a hard one to answer. Every book I read, every author influences me in some way. Either I learn something or gain insight. Or feel inspired. Sometimes, a book or author can be so good that I feel unnerved. Joan Didion for example. Or Iris Murdoch.

What do you do in your free time? Play with my son, or go on outings/adventures with him. I like to see as many classical concerts, plays, films, exhibitions as museums my budget and time allows. Discuss music and life and love with my boyfriend who is a conductor. Dinners with friends. I love dinners with friends.

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be? Turbulence

What’s your favorite season/weather? Summer. Heat. I was born in the tropics and lived most of my childhood right close to the euqator. It’s not a like, it’s a need.

Who or what inspired you to become an author? First, my voice problems ruined my career as a lawyer and triggered my writing. But then it was my mother, who had come to see my first play. It was hard for her as the play was all about mother-daughter relationships. She was quite moved by the themes. It was like I was speaking to her, but through the actors, and she understood. We didn’t need to discuss it because I could see she felt exactly what I was communicating. I was a little scared of her reaction to it. But she took me to lunch the next day and said “you have an obligation to pursue this talent.” This was a pivotal moment in my life as my mother had always advised against pursuing a creative profession of any kind. In retrospect I understand why: she is an artist herself and knows how hard it can be, for both yourself and your immediate surroundings.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? After the book-launch, which was a moment in time I felt so proud, so like “Me”. It felt like a coming-out. I had incredibly talented friends who played music from the island I was born, in the Caribbean. And after the launch we all went and had drinks, there were many special people there, the people I love most and who understood how much of a struggle it had been for me to get there, in my life.

What is your guilty pleasure? Catching a movie midday alone, and eating my own box of sweet popcorn.

What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?Xtreme make-over type programmes.

Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is….The Bible. (I’d probably have turned Jesus into a woman).

Favorite places to travel? I go to Curacao a lot because I was born there and many friends that are dear to me live there. But it’s a love/hate relationship with the island. I’d like to travel in Africa some more.

Favorite music? It varies, depending on what I’m working on or interested in. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Marvin Gaye. But half a year ago it was Carmen.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with? Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Contemporary Fiction

Rating – R

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Author Interview with Kate Campbell

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? Definitely back in time, probably to the 16th Century and the European Renaissance, a time when the Earth and the arts were being widely explored.  It was a golden age, Elizabeth I was queen of England, Shakespeare was madly writing masterpieces and the works of the Italian masters were being celebrated. Although created earlier, the art was and is a marvel. What attracts me to the period is the creative energy and the artistic possibilities. In terms of the entire century, British historian John Guy suggests “England was economically healthier, more expansive, and more optimistic under the period than at any time in a thousand years. Zowie! Take me there.

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose? Only five? Cheesh. That’s a hard one. There are so many accomplished people I’d like to share a meal with, but for my first soiree, I’d choose from the arts, science, letters, politics and sports. Impressionist painter Claude Monet would be among the guests and I’d insist the party be in his garden at Giverny. I’d select a yellow table cloth and blue chairs. Then I’d invite scientist Linus Pauling, novelist John Steinbeck, diplomat Condoleezza Rice and Olympic athlete Michael Phelps. Understand, however, this is merely the first party. There are many, many others I’d like to meet over a glass of wine and a slice of chocolate cake in a beautiful garden by candlelight.

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you? This is about what I can’t live without, right? A hard question. Perhaps my feather pillow, a family photo, pen and paper. I know this is four things, but really pen and paper are one in my mind.

What is one book everyone should read? For me, hands down, it’s John Steinbeck’sGrapes of Wrath. It had a big influence on me as a writer because it showed the value and nobility of my California experience, showed the importance of writing from a place of deep understanding, informed by social and political values.

If you were a superhero what would your name be? Superman! As a journalist, I’d love to be a mild-mannered reporter who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, plus I like the look of a heavy jaw and double-breasted suits.

If you could have any superpower what would you choose? The ability to fly. I live in Sacramento on the Pacific Flyway, the migratory route for millions of birds. Fall around here is always alive with birds—Sandhill cranes, herons, ducks, geese, tundra swans. It’s glorious and I always look forward to visiting the refuges and wetlands near my home. The ability to fly is a wonder to me.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Jamoca Almond Fudge with chocolate sauce. If you’re going to go into insulin shock, might as well go all the way. Modern-day Chocolate Moose Tracks works for me in a pinch. Please pass the hot fudge.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose? Mahatma Gandhi. I’d like to learn how to be serene and wise.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Pumpkin pie and coffee, boysenberry pie if nothing else is available

Night owl, or early bird? Early, early bird, so early I often meet night owls in passing.

One   food you would never eat? Tomato soup. It’s a long story, but I was once forced to eat it as a child, a contest of wills with my mother: “Eat it or you don’t leave the dinner table.” About midnight I gave in, deciding it was better to lose the battle and win the war. After that, it was game on!

Pet Peeves? Rudeness in all its guises. I hate it in myself and in others.

Skittles or M&Ms? Strictly an M&Ms kinda gal. My sons are named Mark & Mike, plain and peanut.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Adrift in the Sound is about what really happened to us in 1973, the end of an era, a contemporary history rendered with grit, verve and love that offers insights into our lives today.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? My next book is about a third written. It’s set in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in the 1990s. An ambitious, but flawed, young woman is banished to the delta after a major professional indiscretion. She’s charged with creating a five-star resort for a major international hotel chain, but wants to manage a fancy hotel in San Francisco. Shuffled off to the boonies, she finds herself in the middle of California’s water wars. Faced with her own personal problems, teetering on collapse, just like the mansion and estate she’s been tasked with resurrecting, she must come to terms with herself, her employer and a beautiful ecosystem on the verge of collapse.

Future projects include work on my short story collection: Songs from the Caldera, perhaps a sequel to Adrift in the Sound, because so many readers say they want to know what happens to Lizette and baby Violet after the story ends, and a memoir about growing up without a father. The last time I saw my father I was about 10 years old. For nearly 50 years I didn’t know what happened to him. Now I know and I also know what 50 years of longing feels like. Because this is such a personal story, I’m going to have to think very carefully about what needs to be told. I’m currently studying memoir as literary form and researching.

What inspired you to want to become a writer? For me, life is story. It always has been. Ask me a question, you get a story. But, I decided to take my writing and storytelling seriously while attending San Francisco State University, which has an acclaimed English Department and creative writing program. I took my degree in journalism because, as a single mother, it was a way to support my children and practice my craft, which I’ve done for the past 30 years.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. Unexpectedly, a friend, a man, (not that kind of friend) sent me a note that he’d taken Adrift in the Sound on vacation to Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California and read it. He loved the book, loved that the story was set to a large extent on Orcas Island off the coast of Washington State, and like most readers, he cared about what happened to the characters after the story ends. He said Adrift in the Sound was the best part of his vacation. I was thrilled by his response.

If you could jump into a book, and live in that world, which would it be? Perhaps the Antebellum South, brought to life in Margaret Mitchell’s book Gone with the Wind. I toured her home in Atlanta a few years ago and was struck by how small and cramped it was compared to her sweeping vision and story.

What is your dream cast for your book? Apparently every novelist harbors dreams of seeing their story turned into a movie and I’m no exception. I try not to be drawn into this fantasy, but I’m weak. So, my main character, the beautiful, fragile artist Lizette would be played by Lindsay Lohan or McKalay Maroney, depending on acting range, like I can be picky, LOL! Would someone please send Adrift in the Sound to Lindsay or her mother?.

Her best friend Marian, might be a scruffy Jennifer Love Hewitt. Rocket, the sort-of love interest, Kato. Toulouse the poet: Johnny Depp looking scraggly. Unfortunately Keith Richard is way too old to play Toulouse, but he would have been perfect in his younger days. Sandy the little snake dancer, let’s see, maybe Britany Spears, but much rougher and more conniving.

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen? Probably my earliest love was Scottish poet Robert Lewis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, my favorite poem: “Time to Rise.”

A birdie with a yellow bill
Hopped upon my window sill,
Cocked his shining eye and said:
“Ain’t you ‘shamed, you sleepy-head!”

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters? I’ve worn out several CDs during the writing of Adrift in the Sound, including blues man Taj Mahal’s albums “Giant Step” and “De Ole Folks at Home.” The lyrics from Taj’s version of “Light Rain Blues” appears with permission in Adrift in the Sound, as well as lyrics from “Six Days on the Road.” When asked if I could use lyrics from his album, Taj’s lawyer wrote: “Taj is cool with this.” Wish more lawyers talked that way.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? Put the seat of your pants in the seat of the chair and just do it—write!

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why? At heart, I’m an Edwardian. I grew up in an Edwardian-style home on the edge of the gateway to San Francisco Bay. Our home had touches of Art Nouveau, a beautiful Tiffany-style leaded glass skylight above the stairs to the second floor, gumwood paneling, hardwood floors inlaid with Philippine mahogany, leaded glass doors on the library book shelves, filled with leather-bound copies of the classics passed down from my great aunts and grandmother, and tons of popular books from Book-of-the-Month Club.

While in college I took an English class that required reading the complete works of Joseph Conrad. I’ve read many of the Edwardians: J. M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan, which I’ve read many times, dreaming I was Wendy; Rudyard Kipling, loving the short story “Rikki Tikki Tavi; and the plays of George Bernard Shaw, especially “Major Barbara.” Vita Sackville West.

If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why? Athena, the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. Who wouldn’t want these attributes? I’ve always wanted to be a beautiful, noble warrior.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? In my childhood home, well, maybe not. Maybe West Marin County where my family had a small ranch while I was growing up. I love horses and dogs and long walks on the beach. Afraid I’m not much of an adventurer, more of a homebody. My idea of an exotic destination is Reno, Nevada.

What is your favorite Quote? “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Plato. This reminds me to go easy for everyone has an important story to tell from their battle. My job is to open my heart to listen and learn, not judge.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? Judith, Queen of France.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why? A young Elizabeth Taylor or Vivian Leigh—stunningly beautiful and so much more.

How did you know you should become an author? That’s like asking how did you know you should breathe. I have always told stories. Journalism is a small canvas, however, and I’ve always wanted to paint with words on a big expanse. Perhaps I have spent too much time thinking about and studying the masters. A better question might be how did you know it was OK not to be perfect? That’s a more important question for me. I think close examination of the world’s great writers can be paralyzing. I don’t recommend the approach.

Advice from many great writers to beginners is to write, don’t read the work of others and compare. I got confidence in telling a story fully from, of all places, Walter Mosley, a writer of Los Angeles mystery/detective novels. In his book, This Year You Write Your Novel, he said a novel has the space to tell a long story, but it’s not an excuse for sloppy writing. I got the sense from this that I could write as much as I want, but must be disciplined about using that much canvas. I recommend Mosley’s book on writing. It gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get on with who I am.

Who are your favorite authors of all time? John Steinbeck, always John, but Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, (maybe I’m a Russian novelist at heart. Who knows my heart? I’m too busy examining the hearts of others) Virginia Woolf, who always makes me feel like writing, James Joyce, Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset, author of the historical trilogy Kristen Lavransdatter set in 14th Century Norway. I love big, meaty books.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters? I am in all of my characters, there in empathy and some understanding, at the very least. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to conceive them.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? I had a wonderful editor, David Weinstein, when I worked as a freelance writer at the West County Times in Richmond California. I’d fallen down the stairs at home a couple of weeks before Christmas, had a house full of kids and several parties planned. I was late with a story to David. He accepted the story, it was pretty good, gave me another assignment. I was walking out of the news room and he stood at his desk in the far corner and pointed a long finger at me as I reached the door and said loud enough for every reporter hunched over their computers to hear: “Kate Campbell, you do your work!” That admonishment keeps me going, keeps me producing as a journalist and a novelist.

Hidden talent? I’m a very good swimmer, the result of years of training and swimming teams. Breast is my best stroke, but you probably would have guessed that.

Favorite Food? Chocolate

Favorite Candy? Chocolate

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year? Michael Chabon’sTelegraph Avenue. I loved Wonder Boys, read it while I was editing Adrift in the Sound and about fell over when I found the wonderful snake scene, which is different, but similar to what I’d written in my book. I felt a special affinity with his work after that, like we were traveling some of the same creative terrain.

Nickname? Kate is my nickname, my nickname is me, and it’s my byline, my personae. Those who know me—love or hate me—call me Katherine.

How do you react to a bad review? So far I haven’t had a bad review, but when Adrift in the Sound was critiqued in workshop and I got feedback like: “Banal writing. The main character isn’t loveable. Ordinary narrative, not enough drama. The writing sounds like it’s copied from Wikipedia. Who cares about a bunch of junkies? Boring.” I couldn’t write for six months after that. I cried. I doubted. I took up knitting. I hated myself and I got over it. Adrift in the Sound is a better book because of those critiques.

If you were a bird, which one would you be? Red-tailed hawk, perched on a tree top, hunting.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why? The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, because of the jazz-age panache.

You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy? A small ranch in a beautiful location and invite everyone I love to visit.

What do you do in your free time? When I’m not practicing yoga, I’m outdoors gardening, hiking, kayaking, camping. I hate being cooped up inside.

Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting with when you wake up till you lie down again. I don’t recommend this schedule, but it’s what I do to get by. Up at 4 a.m., coffee & toast, at my desk at home by 4:30 a.m. writing, breakfast from 6:15 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., shower and dress for work, at my desk at work as a reporter and editor by 7:30 a.m., home by 4:30 p.m. Then I catch up on messages, email, before checking the news and then going to the club to workout from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., in bed for about an hour’s reading of books—novelists I’m studying, writing craft, research for reporting assignments

I follow this schedule, with slight variation, seven days a week, even if my butt falls off. Weekends I invest eight to ten hours a day in my writing practice and squeeze in housekeeping and shopping. I read that Stephen King was asked this same question and he didn’t want to admit that he adhered to his writing schedule seven days a week, holidays included, didn’t want to seem too obsessed or nerdy. I understand how he felt, but, for me, it’s the only way I can get the writing done. I try to explain the discipline it takes to write—as a journalist or a novelist—and people’s eyes glaze over. But, I want to be clear that I love what I’m doing. I choose to do this. It’s fun.

What’s your favorite season/weather? Fall, it’s an end and a beginning.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? I had a big party at the Comedy Spot, a stand-up comedy nightclub in mid-town Sacramento, had a cake made with an edible version of my book cover on it, read too long to family and friends, got bouquets of flowers, kissed and hugged, sold lots of books.

What is your guilty pleasure? Lemon meringue pie, with black coffee, on my back patio in late afternoon, followed by a nap.

What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit? True crime stories, can’t help looking at other people’s train wrecks. My favorite TV show is CSI, especially the gritty Las Vegas version.

Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is…. Orlando by Virginia Woolf, the concept of metamorphosis and gender shifting is so deftly handled. Second place goes to Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. No human being should be allowed to write that beautifully. It’s a crime, really.

Favorite places to travel? I’m not a big traveler. I’ve been too busy working and raising boys by myself, but when I do travel, I love to be in Lake Tahoe, Yosemite or California’s North Coast. To walk in the mountains or stand among the redwoods is to transcend the hum drum of ordinary life.

Favorite music? Low down, funky, black dog blues. I like music with grit that makes me shake my booty. Don’t get me wrong, I like all music, but we’re talking favorites here.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with? Joan Didion, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Janet Fitch, Caroline Leavitt, Cheryl Strayed, Lynn Freed, Pam Houston, Joy Haro. Sorry, can’t name just one. There are so many accomplished writers my list could go on and on. God, I love these women and learn so much from them.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Literary Fiction 

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Kate Campbell on her


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Re-posted in Memory of Jacqui Magar, Passed Away November 3, 2012

Written by Guy Magar – From his memoir KISS ME QUICK BEFORE I SHOOT: A Filmmaker’s Journey into the Lights of Hollywood and True Love

One morning, during Jacqui’s chemo treatment for aml-leukemia, she had been taken for X-rays early before I arrived for my 10-hour daily visit. When I got to her room, the nurse told me to wait and they would bring her back within an hour. An hour? I asked where the imaging department was and she told me it was complicated to go there as it was in another building down the street. Jacqui had been taken through a connecting underground tunnel, not accessible to the public. She advised, “Please be practical, wait here. She’ll be back shortly.”

I lasted three minutes. I’m not an alarmist or a worrywart. I just found it unnecessary for Jacqui to be alone at imaging and silly for me to just wait in her room like a putz. What followed reminded me of a scene from The Graduate where Dustin Hoffman is running like a maniac to find the girl (Katherine Ross) before it’s too late and she marries someone else. I started running down hallways on different floors till I reached reception. I was told Cedars-Sinai imaging was indeed across the street. I ran outside, crossed the street, almost got run over, and ran down a block into a medical building that had a crowded lobby. It was well guarded, with security guys by every door. I knew they would never let me inside and I didn’t bother asking or pleading with the front desk. I was so committed that when opportunity soon struck and a guard got distracted long enough for me to slip by, I James Bonded through the double doors that read NO ENTRY.

I started opening doors, peeking into rooms like a mad person. I reached doors with signs that read WARNING – RADIATION, and I was now terrified of opening a door at just the wrong moment when some giant X-ray beam would zap me and my testicles would fall off. But I was a man on a mission and could not be stopped as I moved from hallway to hallway. I was sure I was seconds away from being stopped by a security guard who would find me through the surveillance cameras, which were everywhere. He’d run in and just shoot me—shoot the crazy intruder!

Finally, kismet struck. I opened a door and saw rows of gurneys in a waiting room, but all I could see were their bottom halves because curtains separated each patient, leaving just the sight of a series of bare feet sticking out of robes. And then I saw them, like beacons flashing: one pair of feet wearing bright red socks, the same socks I had washed at home the previous day and had brought back to Jacqui. And sure enough, just like in the movies, I raced in and followed the red socks, and found my baby. I had found the needle in a radiated haystack! Her face lit up and she gave me her million-dollar smile. She told me she was done with her X-ray, but they were backed up with patients waiting to be returned to their rooms. She whispered, “Get me out of here!”

I raced to find the orderly and begged him to move her. I haltingly told him I almost got my balls zapped off looking for her in this Frankensteinish radiation building. He laughed, grabbed her chart, pulled her gurney out of a waiting line (sorry, folks), and we headed back to her room.

I had found the red socks. I was Dustin Hoffman. I got my girl back!

Genre – Celebrity / Memoir / Romance

Rating – PG

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Author Interview and Giveaway with co-authors Bonnie Biafore and James Ewing

Win a copy of Fresh Squeezed, the new Juice Verrone novel. Get your choice of either a Print edition (for U.S. addresses only) or an eBook (for everywhere). To enter just visit  Fresh Squeezed’s Facebook page, Like the page, and then post “I read James’ and Bonnie’s interview at” on Fresh Squeezed’s timeline. Remember, you must both Like Fresh Squeezed’s page AND post to Fresh Squeezed’s timeline to enter the giveaway.

Not on Facebook? No problem. Just leave a comment on this interview and let us know, and we’ll enter you in the contest as well. Be sure to include your email address in the comment so that we can contact you.

The giveaway will end on Friday, November 9, 2012 at 3 PM (EST), and the winners notified soon after via Facebook (or via email if you do not have facebook).

Meet co-authors Bonnie Biafore and James Ewing!

Bonnie Biafore is a project manager and author of 23, er, make that 24 books, numerous training courses, and hundreds of articles on personal finance, project management, technology, and now, stupid criminals. She lives on a mountain in Colorado. Find out more at





James Ewing writes a weekly blog loosely based on the proposition that life is really much more absurd than we know. Several of his humorous articles based on his seven-year sailing adventure have been published in Latitudes & Attitudes magazine. He currently lives in western Washington State, isolated on an island, because it’s really better for everyone that way.


Visit these authors at: Their Website, Facebook, Indie Bound
James at: His WebsiteTwitter, Facebook
Bonnie at: Her Website, Twitter, Facebook

Hello! What are your names?

James Ewing.

Bonnie Biafore

What do you write and why?

James: My major writing focus is a weekly humor blog at and novels. In the past I have had some articles published that were a humorous take on my life aboard a small sailboat. I also write short stories when the mood strikes. My blog allows me to take something of an absurdist look at the happenings in my life and the world around me while novels and short stories provide an opportunity to stretch out the story and develop a narrative unconstrained by my blog’s limited length. Right now my novel writing is sticking with the crime/comedy genre as we’re working on the sequels to Fresh Squeezed.

Bonnie: Almost everything I write is humorous–including most of my technical books. I figure if someone needs to learn about things as mind-numbing as small business accounting and project management, they might enjoy a slightly skewed perspective. Besides, as long as I’m going to be handcuffed to my computer and write about that stuff to pay the bills, I better have some fun doing it. Especially since I don’t have tanned, buff eye-candy doing the handcuffing. After cranking out dozens of books, articles, and training courses, the stupid criminals and incompetent hit men in our novel were a blast. I’m looking forward to diving back into my wacky characters for some short stories and more novels. I’d learn to write a screenplay if Guy Ritchie liked our story and Robert Downey Jr would star.

What is your favorite thing about being co-authors?

James: From my perspective, you immediately gain an insight to the story and how it’s told that you would not have had writing on your own. If I write something that I think works but that Bonnie sees a flaw in we can find it and work out the kinks right away. Plus it stretched my skills to make Fresh Squeezed a nice blend of our individual writing styles. You can see both of us in there, but we were able to find a single voice.

Bonnie: We were able to springboard off each other’s sense of humor to make the final result funnier and better than it would have been if we had worked on our own. For example, we had a scene with one of our incompetent hit men that was going to involve sex. James suggested a woman of questionable taste could knock on Ralphie’s door as the intro. My reply was that the only woman who would have anything to do with Ralphie was a blow up doll. James said “That would work.” I doubt that I would have thought of the blow-up doll if we hadn’t had that exchange of ideas.

The worst thing about being co-authors?

James: It takes a longer time than writing on your own. Pretty much everything needs to be discussed and the work can fall prey to our separate schedules.

Bonnie: It does take longer. Sometimes, we have to compromise. Sometimes, we argue. As James has explained to people, we’re both Capricorns, so we’re opinionated and stubborn. I have used this experience to try to learn to play well with others. I don’t have my diploma yet.

How do you keep things organized? Do you assign chapters, or tasks, or do you both just go at it, and then blend your stories together?

James: Bonnie’s the organized one, I’ll let her explain.

Bonnie: Anyone who writes a novel has to keep things organized. I’ve been to workshops that talked about the importance of character bibles, location bibles, bibles, bibles, bibles. So you don’t forget what color your heroine’s eyes are. Well, James and I did that without anyone telling us. We got together for a couple of weeks and brainstormed the story line, drew a map of the fictional town, and wrote descriptions of the characters, cars, boats, and guns. We used those descriptions to make sure things were consistent throughout. Good thing, too, because we referred to those documents a lot. Once we had the story line, we divided up the scenes using a voodoo ritual involving rubber chicken feet and Rhum Agricole. After we wrote the first draft, we traded scenes for the second draft. James got to have his way with anything I wrote and I did the same or worse to what he wrote. By the last editing pass, we would come up with the same edits to the same sentences (which still gives me the creeps, although I don’t know whether James or I should be more worried.)

What is the title you are promoting right now?

Both: Fresh Squeezed.

What is it about?

Both: It’s a story about “Juice” Verrone, a former Mafia enforcer from New Jersey, who testified against the crime family he used to work for and ended up as a guest of the federal witness security program in the small central Washington State town of Wanaduck. The move cost him his identity and his wife, and as he tries to rebuild his life he finds himself thrust into the middle of a cover up by the local utility to hide their failed financial shenanigans. Juice works with the local police chief, Dickie Gordon, and Juice’s client and forensic accountant, Rudy Touchous to sort out the conspiracy. Meanwhile, the utility brings in some hired guns to help clean up their mess and contracts with a local redneck cabal to assist them in qualifying for federal disaster relief funds, by creating their own disaster. Before they can pull it off, their plans are derailed by the entry of a local vegan commune, a feel-good front for VeggieTech, Inc. and the three groups come together at the end in a spectacular conflagration.

What makes this book different from others in your genre?

James: One of the things is our location. Wanaduck is definitely not Florida, Las Vegas, or L.A., so we’ve stepped away from that stereotype. We also took pains not only to make the bad guys the stupid criminals, but to use them to poke at some modern sacred cows, like vegetarianism, organics, and renewable energy, to say that things may not always be what they seem.

Bonnie: Considering that I hold Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey in the highest and most demented esteem, I could only hope that this book is like others in our genre. There could never be enough funny crime stories for me.

What’s the story behind the story?

James: Real life. Bonnie, her husband Pete, and I were sailing in the Bahamas. We started talking about them working in a small town and the discussion morphed into this absurd string of what-ifs. Most of which got tossed but a few stuck around and Bonnie and I wrote up some of them and realized there was a story there.

Bonnie: My husband Pete and I were on contract at a utility in mid-Washington state. One of the employees at the utility gave me a hard time about writing tech books and said the big money was in tawdry novels. So, I wrote a couple of short chapters as a joke. The idea was like one of those coal mines that burns underground for years. Then, a few years after my husband died, writing the novel seemed like the best way to honor (or perhaps sully) his memory.

What are your goals as authors?

James: I really like writing and telling stories. It’s a lot of fun to look at something and then look for the absurd side of it. In my blog I focus that view on things that I’m doing, like building a micro-farm or traveling, as well as the words of politics and economics. For the books, I think it would be great fun to build a small set of continuing characters and bring them along a storyline that shows how they grow as people and friends, as well as being hilariously funny.

Bonnie: I enjoy the craft of writing. I admire a well-written sentence, a well-told story. I’m ecstatic when the well-written sentence and well-told story is my own. However, I never had a real plan for what I wanted to be when I grew up or what I wanted to accomplish. Despite that, things have turned out pretty well for me, so I’ll continue to let whatever wizard is pulling the strings to keep her job.

Do you plan to continue co-authoring, or do you plan to go your own separate ways in the future?

James: Yes. Because of the need to get the sequels out in a timely manner, we’re each writing one of the next two books in the Juice Verrone series. They’ll be a collaborative effort but not strictly coauthored.

Bonnie: We have always been on our own separate ways but we’re still co-authors. The novel is like our misbegotten kid. We didn’t know how things would work on the first book but we figured them out. We don’t really know how our plan for the sequels will work, but we’ll figure that out, too.

Are you working on anything new? Give us a preview of what’s to come!

James: The second book in the Juice Verrone series introduces a whole new set of bad guys in the form of a Mexican drug cartel. Juice’s brother Mikey breaks out of jail and goes on the hunt for Juice while Juice tries to find and protect his ex-wife. Dickie Gordon is trying to find the last felon from the Utility debacle, a fugitive who ends up, thanks to the feds, squarely in the sights of the Mexican drug cartel.

Bonnie: what James said.

Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book?

James: I suppose if I had to narrow it down to one it would be Mark Helprin and his book A Winter’s Tale.

Bonnie: In our genre it’s Tim Dorsey and Hammerhead Ranch Motel. Sneaking in a second, Robert Crais and L.A. Requiem. I have a somewhat out of date list of books I like at

Where can readers find you and your work?

Both: Everywhere! Excerpts of Fresh Squeezed can be found at our website,, along with other fun stuff on Facebook and Twitter under @freshsqueezednovel. Bonnie’s online at @Bonnie.Biafore on Facebook and @BBiafore on Twitter. James’s blog and website is at and lurks as @jamesewingwords on Facebook and Twitter.

Fresh Squeezed is available from us, online at all the usual places, and at your local bookstore (find it at

What’s your view on the self-publishing/traditional publishing thing? Ideally, which one would you prefer and why?

James: As everybody knows publishing is going through some major changes right now. The margins are so slim for traditional publishers that they are very reluctant to take a chance on new authors. There’s just no money in it for the risk. On the flip side, self-publishing is an unbelievable amount of work and expense to do right. I started a publishing company (Slow Toast Press, to allow us to get Fresh Squeezed into traditional channels as well as the DIY channels like KDP and CreateSpace. In either case the author, particularly new authors, are going to be responsible for most of the marketing tasks.

Bonnie: At this point, I’m both self-published and traditionally published. I prefer traditionally published because I work with some great publishing companies. However, I’m impatient and getting older every day so I didn’t want to slog through the traditional process for the novel. Either way, it’s a lot of work; a lot of time; and no guarantee of success.

Do you have a favorite quote?

James: From the old comedy troupe, Firesign Theatre: “Living in the future is a lot like living with bees in your head. But there they are.” This speaks eloquently to the current state of getting your book produced and in front of potential readers.

Bonnie: Yogi Berra — “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.” I don’t know where I’m going, so I guess this is why I am so annoyingly careful.

What is the most important advice you have for aspiring authors?

James: Don’t stop writing. The important part is the story and if you have a good, entertaining story it will fall out of all the words. For Fresh Squeezed, we threw away – just pitched it – almost forty thousand  words from the first draft and then ended up completely rewriting another 25% of the final book. Stick with it!

Bonnie: Write. Write some more. And then write even more. Take classes. Learn what the rules are. Then break them, but break them in breathtaking ways. Meet other writers. (They’re fun and supportive, which is key because writing is a lonely life.) Join a critique group. Figure out when to listen to others’ criticism and when to consider it a bunch of hooey. Think positively, but don’t quit your day job.

Is there anything else you’d like to say before we finish up?

Both: Thanks so much for the interview. We’d like to invite your readers to visit us online. Post snarky comments, ask embarrassing questions. It would be great to get to know our audience better. We’re also doing a promotion on Facebook right now and are giving away an eReader and free print books to the fans who come up with the most popular Stupid Criminal stories. Just go to and tell us about your favorite stupid criminal.

Awesome, thanks for allowing me to interview you!

Don’t forget to pay Bonnie and James a visit at the links below!

Visit these authors at: Their WebsiteFacebookIndie Bound
James at: His WebsiteTwitterFacebook
Bonnie at: Her WebsiteTwitterFacebook

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