Ideas

file6831251040142Ideas… I have some ideas about things I’d like to do.  Whether I can do those things or not, well, we’ll have to see.  It’s matter of finding time and energy to commit myself to other projects.

One thing about self-publishing, there seems to be more ideas, projects, works-in-progress, than there is time to do them all.  It keeps things interesting, and at times overwhelming, but always interesting and never boring. I really wish I could do this full time! One day, one day, my dream will come true!

Here’s some ideas percolating through my noggin at the moment:

  • Doing reviews. But doing them a little differently. Most reviews talk about the book and also gives a rating. This is very important and I would definitely keep that element.  I know how valuable this is to the author and I want to help as much as I can. Here’s my twist,  I also want to offer up a valuable lesson in the review.  Like what I took away from the book, a quick tip from the book that I can share as a lesson or maybe even what I’m going to do with the information I’ve just learned… I could be a guinea-pig of sorts 🙂 My focus for this would be non-fiction materials on writing, marketing, and other books that would be helpful in self-publishing.
  • Creating a separate website for 12 Angels Publishing. This one has been bugging me lately.  It’ll be another site to maintain, but it seems like the right thing to do where I can really highlight the books and authors.
  • Creating products or swags for the books, authors, and 12 Angels Publishing.
  • Adding to my non-fiction titles.  I’ve been laggin’ on this and I need to get busy finding a topic that’s meaningful to me and something I hope would be useful to a readership.
  • Creating a list of providers that I’ve found for book covers, art work, etc.  I don’t have too many yet, but the ones I have worked with, have delivered consistent, high quality results.  They’re professional and responsive and always so easy to work with.
  • Offering more free downloads.
  • Creating more book trailers.
  • I want to learn photo editing too.  This will be a future thing, but how cool would it be, if I could create my own graphics?

What do you think?  Would you be interested in any of these things?

Thanks for coming by!

 

Poetry by: Miyaoaxochitl

 Books, Blogs, and Bits

is proud to present;

free flow poetry by the talented:

Miyaoaxochitl or Miya (for short)

Pink RoseSELF-ESTEEM

Look at you, you’re so beautiful—how strange, must be the lighting

I want to love the way your skin shimmers in the sun;

the way your pudgy nose compliments your face exactly

Your brown eyes full of tragedy raise a million questions

The remnants of the oldest of nations rest on your head, out of control always; in perfect harmony with your soul

I want to love your blemishes, your scars, for they show the barriers in the way

Your stretch marks are the stratum which tell of your struggles

I want to love your humble intellect

The flab under your arms… it might give you flight some day

Your very own essence tastes…

It tastes like tobacco

It tastes like coffee, red wine, and marijane

All concocted to make you an addictive substance

Too dangerous to savor

Too tempting not to

~Miyaoaxochitl

IMG_8956Javier

Mi amor por ti es suavecito,

like a gentle caress.

Mi amor por ti es paciente,

te esperaría una eternidad si me dieras el sí.

Your presence is putting on an old coat,

you’re familiar, comfortable.

Llegaste sin prender la alarma,

like a thief in the night.

Y de repente me encontré vulnerable,

without my armor.

Pero de ti no tengo miedo.

Me gusta verte sonreír, pues alegra el día.

Me fascina tu voz, tiene la potencia de derretir mi ropa.

Me intriga tu mente, porque enciende la mía.

Amo tu alma, pues puede cambiar el mundo.

Y así, suavecito, sigue mi amor.

Esperando que por fin aterrices en mi corazón.

~Miyaoaxochitl

Chapel chandelier

Author Interview–Nancy Brooks

Books, Blogs, and Bits

is proud to present:

Nancy Brooks!!

~ ~

BB & B:  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

NancyNancy: I’m a first-generation American with cultural ties to several countries rich in legends and folklore. I’ve published five books, and am in the process of publishing three more. All of my books are action-adventure/horror/romance/thrillers which are based on legends, folklore, urban legend, myth, rumor, etc.

BB & B: You have been writing stories since you were a wee little girl 🙂  Tell us about what you saw and experienced as a child that captivated your imagination to write.   Do you still have any of your stories from back then?

Nancy: I didn’t spend too much time with my Irish-French Canadian father, and never really met his side of the family, so I was raised Salvadoran. My mom and her family immigrated to the US a few years before I was born. Since they had left before the Salvadoran Civil War, the stories they would tell were happy “remember-back-when” kind of stories, and spooky events they had “actually lived through”. I loved to listen in as they told these stories at birthday parties and get-togethers.

 I have a file cabinet filled with stories. My uncle would also commission me to write stories which he’d then sell to his friends.

BB & B: You’ve heard a lot of legends and folktales as you were growing up.  Any favorites?  Why?

209983_2051412848794_3063220_oNancy: I loved the ‘bad woman’ stories—the ones where the man was cheating on his wife with a woman who was later revealed to practice witchcraft. Most of the time she had cast a spell on him, and the only way to break it was to find the location where she’d buried his picture and whatever she was using to bind him to her. It was never the man’s fault… it was the witch’s. That’s why I really love the legend of La Ziguanaba. She was a malicious entity who wandered the river and gorges of El Salvador, waiting for any wayward men to attack.

These stories were told as a warning to men: if they were out at night, fooling around, the Ziguanaba would get them. The best stories were the ‘true’ stories, the ones where the man who was attacked was a relative or a friend of the family. My step-father knew a lot of people who had seen La Ziguanaba but had escaped her clutches.

I also loved the stories about El Cipitillo. El Cipitillo was a mischievous goblin-type creature who would be seen around the sugarcane mills, dancing in ashes. I loved to hear about him because I liked the idea that El Salvador had tales of ‘small people’, just like Ireland.

BB & B: What fascinates you about all these legends?

Nancy: What really fascinates me is that you can pick a legend, any legend, Cipitand find a similar story halfway around the world. Whether these creatures were once real, or people migrated and took these stories with them… I mean, how cool would that be to find a hidden species? And how cool is it that our ancestors were so creative, they told stories that still live on today?

BB & B: I’d never heard of the Sons of Mil legend until I met you and I must say it is fascinating.  What stood out in that story for you and why that particular piece to spin your series off of?

Nancy: I had written my stories and had found the main human characters would eventually meet with one goal in mind—fighting the non-humans. When I read about the eight sons of Mil, and how they banded together to fight the non-humans, I realized I already had 8 main characters! It was like something opened up and led me into this world. It’s also a tribute to the Irish side of my family.

BB & B: I know you’ve got a lot of projects you’re working on.  Can you give your fans a sneak peak of what’s to come?

Isle-of-Cipit-finalNancy: Welcome to my world! I have a graphic novel in the works – LEGENDSEEKERS – which will be all the books in comic book format, sort of like a comic book soap opera. The first will be The Isle of Cipit. I also have a movie in the works, based on In A Drink. I’ve begun a presentation/ lecture series on legends, a new book series called Tangled Threads, and tee shirts that

depict art based on the legends. I’ve also got three novels ready to be published.

BB & B: You’ve recently entered into a collaboration for a movie production for In A Drink; this would be a dream come true for many authors.  How are you preparing yourself for this?  What will be your role?

Nancy: I’m focusing on everything else so that I don’t feel overwhelmed. The actual thought of seeing it on the big screen is amazing. That part’s easy (the thought). Working on a script to get it on the screen will be a lot of work. Whether I’m writing it, or I’m helping someone else write it, I will have to make sure it represents My World. If it was a stand-alone book, there wouldn’t be a problem. I could just let the story come out as it comes out. Since it does tie in with the other books, I want to make sure I maintain integrity. I can’t have it veer off into a totally different direction than where it’s supposed to go. I’m not sure what my role will be, officially. I plan to ‘stalk’ everyone on set, though! I want to see everything! I want to see how the sets are made, how the wardrobe is chosen, how angles and lighting are chosen… everything! And I’d love to hear the actors’ perspectives on their characters.

BB & B: For those that have not yet read In A Drink, can you give a quick highlight of the book.

Nancy: In A Drink is a supernatural crime thriller about NYPD detective ChrisIn-A-Drink-ebook Gerardi who  moves to San Francisco in order to start a new life. Although he’s trying to get away from being a workaholic, he’s drawn into an investigation as soon as he gets to town. Several young men are being murdered, but there are never any clues. He goes undercover to help the SFPD solve the case, and quickly becomes the serial killer’s obsession. It’s no ordinary serial killer, though. It’s La Ziguanaba! He also falls in love with a young single mother who has much stronger ties to the Ziguanaba than he might be able to handle. I also have a twist on the ‘bad woman’ stories—it’s a man who is trying to cast a spell and bind someone.

BB & B: Writing has been such a journey for you and look where it has brought you J What’s it been like and do you have any words for other artists who are pursuing their dreams?

Nancy: The main thing is to dream. If you don’t have a dream, you have

nothing to pursue. I don’t know whether having a dream is a good thing or a bad thing, because I’m hardly ever just content to sit around and do nothing. I’m not happy unless I’m working on something—so your dream has to make you happy. If you have a dream you have to work hard to make sure it comes true. I work all day, but I’m also up early and up late working on my dream. I don’t rest. Keep growing in your dream. Don’t settle—the end result is never the final end result because there’s always room to change it. If you can fix it, fix it! Start new dreams.

And have a purpose. Yes, I want to entertain, but my main purpose is to bring these legends back to life. If I’ve piqued someone’s interest in La Ziguanaba or beings like her, then I’ve done my job! Everything else is just icing on the cake—everyone may not like icing, but you want them to eat the cake!

BB & B: Do you have any closing words you’d like to share?

Nancy: Welcome to my world!

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Make sure to catch up with Nancy and her latest adventures at these following sites:

Nancy’s Website

Facebook

 

All of Nancy’s books are listed under the 12 Angels Publishing tab (at the top of the page).  Click on BOOKS to see all her current titles.  The links will take you directly to Amazon.com.

Author Interview–Richelle E. Goodrich

Books, Blogs, and Bits

is proud to present:

Richelle E. Goodrich!!

Richelle E. Goodrich lives in Washington with her husband and three boys somewhere in a compromise between country and city living. She has two BA degrees and possesses a wide range of interests in the creative arts.

Untitled-1 copyHer love for writing emerged later in life, first manifesting itself through children’s books geared at entertaining her boys. ‘Eena, The Dawn and Rescue‘ and ‘Eena, The Return of a Queen‘ (the beginning adventures in the Harrowbethian Saga) are Richelle’s first novel-length achievements.

This author will tell you that the greatest thrill of writing is to hear what readers have to say about the characters living within her enchanted pages.

~ ~

BB & B: I love this quote of yours, “Courage to me is doing something daring, no matter how afraid, insecure, intimidated, alone, unworthy, incapable, ridiculed or whatever other paralyzing emotion you might feel. Courage is taking action…..no matter what. So you’re afraid? Be afraid. Be scared silly to the point you’re trembling and nauseous, but do it anyway!” (Smile Anyway)

Can you tell us about this quote and what brought out these words of encouragement?

Richelle: Yes, I certainly can.  For the most part my quotes have been inspired by personal experiences and some unpleasant trials.  At times, however, they’ve resulted from a keen fascination for observing and evaluating human behavior.  I like to ‘people watch’, perhaps because I never cease to be amazed by the actions of others.  Smile Anyway FINAL COVER smallest

The quote you mention regarding courage came to me when I was facing a difficult challenge that resulted in taking a stand for what I heartily wanted despite strenuous opposition.  I’m no super hero, I’ll admit.  I cringe at the mere mention of anxiety, fear, and confrontation.  But I’ve learned that courage isn’t reserved for the brave and daring only.  Courage means taking action, period.  And even a timid personality can do that—albeit trembling the entire time.    

BB & B: I love fantasy and magic in my books and you definitely capture these elements so beautifully in your stories.  What inspires you when in the creation of your characters and the world they live in?

Richelle: I’m a daydreamer to the very core.  There are a thousand stories swirling in my head constantly, sort of like an inner library where I slip a book off the shelf almost daily for the purpose of entertaining an untiring brain.

If only I could write—had the time to write—all the adventures and fantasies that play on my mental view screen.  I have my favorites memorized, and I tweak their stories often, hoping someday to jot them down on paper.  I’ve always been this way, passing the time in another world, pretending to be some extraordinary character.  I have to laugh because I actually wrote a quote inspired by this truth:

 “I live in two unique worlds, traveling between both with just the opening or closing of my eyes.”

~Richelle E. Goodrich 

 That’s me.  What inspires these stories—the characters and the worlds they come from?  Well….what doesn’t inspire them?  In other words, just about anything can act as inspiration for me, depending upon what I’m thinking about at the moment.  A mangled tree once inspired an entire book, including the type of life that dominated a fantasy world.  A touching scene from a movie Dandelions Cover smallwas what sparked the idea for my book, ‘Dandelions’. 

Art seems to be a strong stimulation when it comes to sparking stories in my imagination.  I believe that’s because art is so highly interpretive, which means I must draw on my own creativity to evaluate it.  And once the creativity starts to flow, quite frankly there’s no stopping what develops from it.

BB & B: To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?

Richelle: I’m smiling at this question.  I am a firm believer that there is absolutely a portion of the personality of a writer in the main character(s) he/she creates.  My characters are not exactly as I am, but they most certainly do possess solid elements of ‘me-ness’ in them.  They must, because it’s me imagining how they would react and respond and reply to presented stimuli.  And all I have to go on is what exists within my experience; experience that has made me, me.   

BB & B: If you had to pick just one story or one character of yours.  Which or who would it be and why?

Richelle: Hmmmm.  Pick one for what purpose?  Do you want the character that entertains me the most?  Or the one I most relate to?  Or the one that I enjoyed creating most?  Okay, let’s see…

The character that entertains me most is probably Kira the Mishmorat from my stories in the Harrowbethian Saga or ‘Eena’ books.  Kira’s personality is nervy, edgy, and spirited—traits I normally repress.  She speaks at will, behavesEena1 cover boldly, is a striking beauty and an alluring nymph.  I love how she is.

The character that I most relate to would be Annabelle Fancher in ‘Dandelions’.  Not because I have ever experienced the abusive life she unfortunately endures, but because she and I both are dreamers and avid people watchers.  Despite Annabelle’s youth, she makes very astute observations about her peers and many adults.

The character I most enjoyed creating would be Eena, hands down.  That’s because she is me.  I am her.  At least that’s the way I always imagined it when I use to daydream about Eena and her other-world adventures as a high school student bored to death in class.

BB & B: Here’s another quote from Smile Anyway, “A daily dose of daydreaming heals the heart, soothes the soul, and strengthens the imagination.” I just love your quotes.  They’re inspiring and full of wisdom.  I can see that you are about positivity and living up to your true calling and not giving up. 

Can you share with us your tips for staying positive and keeping on course?  I think this can be especially challenging for those of us in the creative field.

Richelle: There are three things that help fuel my drive to succeed.  The first is an easy and simple habit; I do at least one thing daily to get me nearer to my goal.  On a busy day, that might mean writing just one sentence in a developing EENA 3 COVER FINAL smallest copymanuscript.  On a lazy day I might read for research purposes or scribble out an entry on my author blog.  The point is that I not allow myself to become stagnant.  Doing nothing achieves nothing, therefore I take at least one step toward my goal every day, despite how tiny the step.

 Next, I’ve come to realize that where dreams are concerned I have only two choices—give up or keep going.  If I were to give up, that would translate into sheer failure, and I do NOT want to fail.  Therefore, I’ve no other choice but to keep going, to keep striving towards those dreams.

The last habit I rely upon most heavily.  I pray.  I explain to my Heavenly Father what I wish to achieve, and I ask Him for inspiration, guidance, and His hand in making it possible.  And I believe assuredly that He can and will help me.

BB & B: Do you have any works in progress?  What can fans expect from you in the near future?

Richelle: Yes, as a matter of fact; I’m excited about this one!  I’ve begun a new YA book staring a genius boy-gifted girl duo.  They’re coerced by an old Mayan priest into opposing phantom villains who must be stopped at all costs or else…  (Wait a minute.  I probably shouldn’t give the entire story away.)  Anyhow, I hope to have this work completed by the end of the year. 

BB & B: Do you have any closing words you’d like to share?

Richelle: Sure, how about a quote to inspire?  This one is from my recently released book, ‘Smile Anyway’: 

 “Never give up. 
It’s like breathing—once you quit, your flame dies letting total darkness extinguish every last gasp of hope. You can’t do that. You must continue taking in even the shallowest of breaths, continue putting forth even the smallest of efforts to sustain your dreams. Don’t ever, ever, ever give up.” 
 Richelle E. Goodrich

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Thank you Richelle for your time!  Beautiful words indeed!

To get to know more about Richelle and her great works, please visit the links below:

EENA BOOK 2 FINAL COVER COPY smallest

Richelle’s Websites:

 

Author Interview–Paul Howard

Books, Blogs, and Bits

is proud to present:

Paul Howard!!

“I am an author, screenwriter and film maker, my screen credits include the cult classic “Night Terror” (1990) and the soon to be released “Hunt for the paul howardDesert Apeman” in collaboration with M.L. Behrman.

 I published my first novel: “The Galley“(2012) and its’ short story extract: “The Unthinkable (The Great Fire of Rome)“(2012). My newest books are “Timelines: The Beethoven Incident“(2013) and the first installment of “The Palindrome Chronicles”: the short story “We Were Here!”(2013) In October, my newest book; “Phoenix Part One: Spooks” was published.

 After spending my early years in the Midwest, I migrated to Southern California where I received most of my education. There is an old saying: “You can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.” I think that’s true in my case. Although I’ve lived in L.A. most of my life, the simple ways of Southern Illinois are still close to my heart. I love the opportunities to get away to the quiet of the deserts and countryside. It helps me think. My joys in life are playing the guitar and spending time with my grandchildren, (as well as writing!).

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BB & B: You are a very diversified gentleman—author, screenwriter, film maker, and guitar player.  What triggered your passion for the creative arts?

Paul: I think it was a combination of things throughout my life. My mother was an accomplished pianist; some of my earliest memories are of sitting under the piano as a toddler listening to her play. I grew up in a house full of books; my brothers and I were allowed to read any of them that we wanted.

By the time I was three I was drawing on the walls of our house. Our dining room had a barnyard scene with a giant pig over the table. I think I was two when I drew that. It burned through every time my father tried to paint it out. By my early teens, my desire to create took on the nature of a yearning, at first I was drawn to music and studied it in college.

Then, one night I found myself sitting in the front row of the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, watching Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. I immediately got myself a camera and film making textbooks. It was like all of the fine arts wrapped in one: music, literature, painting, sculpting, and drama all at once. I love all aspects of film making, but the business just wasn’t for me.

After completing my first feature, I found myself turning down every project that was offered to me after that over the next several years. I turned more and more to writing, first screenplays and teleplays, and ultimately books, where I could speak in my own language and tell the kinds of stories that really interested me.

I love the guitar; it makes me feel so good when I play it. Nothing gives a sense of pleasure and reward better than a musical instrument. Playing electric guitar was always a childhood dream. When I picked it up and started playing at the age of 50, I discovered that it was even better than I imagined it would be. If I had picked one up at the age of 15, who knows how different my life would have been?

BB & B: Your latest work was just released in October 2013.  Spooks is set in the year 2127 to a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles.  Can you tell us a little bit more about Spooks.  I’m intrigued about “ecto-infused.” Can you share with us how Spooks Cover3 copyyou came up with the concept.

Paul: The core concept of Spooks and the entire Phoenix Saga, is resurrection on different levels, first as the individual, but eventually of humanity as a whole. I’m not speaking spiritually, but sociologically.

The ecto-infusion process is a technical way of regenerating the recent dead using their own tissues as a template for the “ecto-being”. There is no magic or religious basis for it, thus keeping the storyline in the realm of pure science fiction.

I have always wanted to write a detective story with sci-fi overtones, this is my shot at it. As for the inspiration, ideas like this just pop into my head. I am always developing new material in my day-to-day activities. This idea just appealed to me so I developed it.

The biggest problem with most of my writing is that it doesn’t fit into any of the standard genre molds, which makes my books very hard to market. Spooks is still trying to find its audience, if people knew what it was, I think they would really go for it. It takes patience to write, it takes even more to find a readership for your work. 

BB & B: Spooks, is the first book to the Phoenix Saga, can you give us a sneak peek at what’s to come as the saga continues?

Paul: Should I? Here goes: as I stated before, the central theme of Phoenix is resurrection.

 The seed for the second book has already been planted in the first one. When it becomes apparent that they have an infused homicidal maniac running loose, Sam suggests that the U.S. should be chipping its criminals with GPS trackers. By the second book, which takes place a generation later, this becomes the standard practice. In fact, everyone on Earth is chipped. Almost everyone, anyway. Those who aren’t, are invisible in society; the LAPD, (who are now almost exclusively Spooks), find they are back to using old investigative methods to deal with such a person.

 The third book is based on the development of new chips, which are enhanced to educate through “Direct Memory Implantation”. Within a decade, everybody under the age of ten has the brain of an Einstein. But they are still caught up in a moronic culture, ruled by greed and power. The Spooks of the LAPD are now dealing with a generation of Superminds who still have the emotional responses of young children, and the powerful people who feel the growing threat of their presence.

BB & B: What inspires your stories and your characters?  

Paul: This not a cop out: everything I see, everybody I meet, every note of music I hear. The role of music in my inspiration is huge. My first book, The timelinesGalley was inspired mostly by Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade. My second book, The Beethoven Incident drew its feel from The Eroica Symphony and band music from the mid-nineteenth century. Go figure.

Maybe there’s something wrong with my head, but I’m enjoying it. I draw my characters from the people all around me. Not as individuals, but as personalities. I let my characters develop on their own as much as possible. I try to not to interfere with their motivations. If they can’t surprise me, they are not real enough. I don’t write characters, I try to write people who could exist outside of my muse. It seems to work for me; so far none of my critics have ever suggested that my characters don’t play.

BB & B: To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?

Paul: All of my characters are extensions of me to one degree or another. I think that is true for many authors, whether Shakespeare or Genet. The diversity of who they are is drawn from others that we know or meet, and are built on empathy.

I always ask myself: “What would it be like to be in your shoes?” I try to internalize the answer to that as honestly as possible. I think the best authors do that, too. You really can’t write good characters without a high degree of empathy and self-honesty. I love all of my characters; I love all the people I meet, even if I can’t stand to be around them. I feel sorry for those who can feel hate or alienation; it must be a very lonely world for them.

 BB & B: If you could put together a dream project, what would that be and why?

 Paul:Uncivil Nation” If there is one Great Truth of human existence, it is this: “Man is a genius race trapped in a moronic culture by self-centered idiots.”

The most humbling experience of my life is to look into the face of a six month-old child. There is all the unbridled potential and optimism that Man is capable of achieving. Turn on your television or internet and look at the continuous effort to process that potential out of him or her.

Why are we obsessed with celebrity culture? It has absolutely nothing to offer us but lowered self-esteem. The only stars in our lives are the people we are close to. Sit in a room full of people and observe the isolation imposed by the new phones which keep us distracted from our lives and each other. Why is this happening? The answers are out there, but god help the person who expresses it. I can only imagine what Hugo or Dickens would be writing about today.

If I had the time or resources, I would undertake such a project, but it would also take more than that. Vonnegut wrote about these things and couched them as humor, if he hadn’t, his books would have been unpalatable, and he would have been silenced. We nail those who try to find our better angels to crosses.

BB & B: What can fans expect from you in the near future?

Paul: Now that I have published three series novels, I am going to service those. The next book is going to be the follow-up in the Timelines Series, followed by “Galley II: The Fall of Nero”. I have also resumed work on a fourth galleyseries: The Palindrome Chronicles, but it will have to wait for the other three series to develop. My plan is to issue new installments of past series, along with a completely new book, at least once a year. Goodness knows where I will find the time, my hands are so full.

BB & B: Do you have any closing words you’d like to share?

Paul: Wow! Yes there are. After spending over a year in the self-published e-book environment, there are one or two points I would like to make.

First of all, the vast majority of you who are reading this are self-published authors. That is my first point. While the e-book market is growing rapidly, the actual marketing and discussion tools on the web are being used by the authors themselves, not the reading audience. We have become a cloistered group like the Free Masons; writing for the consumption and approbation of our colleagues instead of our readers.

While I admire and support you all, I am not interested in doing that. I am interested in the guy with the Kindle sitting on the commuter train on the way home from work. Am I entertaining him? Based on my numbers, I am reaching that audience. But he doesn’t write reviews. I have known many people who are avid readers, not one of them writes reviews. When I look at most e-book reviews, including my own, I see authors, not readers commenting on each other’s work. Most of them of them, to be frank, are terrible at it.

How many times do I see, “I have an obligation to tell the audience what they’re getting.”? An e-book costs less than a hamburger these days, we have no such obligation to ourselves, or each other. People are burning over four bucks on a gallon of gas! Get real. I never review a book I don’t like, if I see errors or typos, I contact the author personally and give them my report. I review on content, not style or grammar; I have no wish to do injury to the efforts of another author, and neither should any of the rest of us. If you read an e-book and feel like doing it, you should ask yourself why. I see typos in books that are over two thousand years old. The only reason I bring this up is because the reviews on e- books are marketing tools: raw numbers on a book page.

The real reviews are in the book stats. I am getting very high loan numbers on KDP. About one loan for every three sold. That is a reader review that matters. They are passing my books around to their friends! I’m not getting rich, but I’m showing thousands of readers a good time. Which leads me to my second point: I am very encouraged by the quality of the novels that are being self-published! Over the past year, I only encountered one that was unreadable, one that was badly written to the extent of distraction, and over a hundred that were actually worth reading.

There are some really good authors out there! I am constantly reading comments from authors who are worried about bad product giving self-publishing a bad name. Based on my experience, that is not a problem to worry about. I think that the overwhelming majority of those who can bring a book to completion are also capable of writing a decent book in the process, and the majority of what I have seen is consistent with that. If you have a finished book online, the odds are that it is pretty good, and you have good reason to believe in it.

This is wonderful Paul! Thank you for sharing your time with us and best wishes on all your future endeavors.

To follow Paul and his work, you can find him at any one of these links below:

Check out Paul’s books at Amazon.com.

Author Interview–Darren Worrow

Books, Blogs, and Bits

is proud to present:

Darren Worrow!!

In his own words 🙂 about his bio… shot from my dying home planet as a baby in an egg shaped craft I grew up with a company of wolves, learning to live as they did. Until one day the threat of the return of a naughty tiger meant I was guided out of the jungle by a jazz singing bear and into a man-village.

darrenworrowAt the village I managed to win a golden ticket to a chocolate factory where I fell into a river of chocolate and got sucked up a pipe. Things went from bad to worse when I found out that a drunken sailor in the local inn had a treasure map and I was accosted by pirates and traveled to a secret Caribbean island.After this I could take no more of my adopted parents and so I went away off with some strange bloke to a school for wizards where I thought it best to challenge a lecturer that killed my parents.

However after this my life turned around, I grew up and gave my favourite toys, a cowboy and a space ranger away to a snotty girl from around the corner and went to college. Unfortunately though I was bitten by a rare spider and found myself with special arachnid powers which I used to defeat an evil leprechaun.

Now, well, now I just write books, people say where do you get your ideas from and I tell them I have no idea, I’ve had such a boring, everyday life.

Hi, many thanks for inviting me here!

BB & B: You are definitely an artist when it comes to crafting humor in your work.  What inspires you to take something that can be so ordinary like a wsvmcover2delivery driver job and turn it into a space adventure as seen in White Space Van Man?

Darren: Yes thanks, humour (or humor to you, I don’t know, too lazy to stick a quick “U” in!) is the only thing I am ever serious about. I have always had a bit of fascination with the MGM cartoons of the great Tex Avery, how he took such a simple area of logic and exploded it into complete madness; as in “King Sized Canary,” whereby a bottle of super fast plant grower is drunk by the cat and the mouse and they grow to enormous proportions.  One simple piece of logic turns into complete hilarity and mayhem.

 To take something quite simple, every-day or even mundane and twist it or take it out of context is a good starting point. Schh, keep it to yourself but in the case of White Space Van Man, I really have been what the UK media term a “white van man,” (a delivery driver, usually with a stereotypical obnoxious attitude towards other road users) so the concept here begins with just having a rant about the mechanics of my employment.

Not a very entertaining prospect you might think, but again to simply take that area of logic, that simple thought, out of its usual surroundings or environment, such as space in this instance, well, the gags flow like water off a ducks back. Douglas Adams uses sci-fi to great effect but the real logical starting point for him was simply hitchhiking. The Flintstones takes humo(u)r from everyday life, it just gives it a prehistoric setting. 

So anything life throws at you can be the basis of a funny plot, no matter how modest, mundane or humdrum it starts, as long as you can expand the idea beyond the realms of its normality. Some humorists use this as a form of crooked payback too, I often get asked by paranoid people if that character was supposed to be them, like a magician not revealing his tricks I never reply with any truth!  I overheard two people speaking about White Space Van Man in my workplace, one said “So, what’s it like?” The other replied, “It’s just like a day working in this place!” Ah-ha, but it is so much more than that I thought to myself, yes, we don’t get to have such an adventure in space, we don’t mess about in the space/time continuum, well if we did I hadn’t noticed.

BB & B: To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?

Darren: I think I touched on this a little in the last question. Other characters I do take inspiration from people I know, if I never actually use a compete person I might well merge two or three people into one, but for a main character, in order to give them realism of course they all have a piece of me in them. Again though, they are not always the complete me, they might be me in a particular mood or even me from a time in the past. This way I can change the characters attitude or opinions by the end of the book and it will still be a little part of me, you see?!

My wife started to read White Space Van Man, when she finished the part where Barry complains about his wife, how he thought she took him for granted and generally criticized her, she gave me a stern look and asked if I was Barry! I told her no I wasn’t, as it is hard to explain that although some attributes of the character derives from me the character is not really wholly me at all. I then told her to read the rest of the book whereby Barry realizes the error of his ways and changes and she forgave me, told me it was her favorite book (another missing “U”, favourite, what have you guys and gals got against the letter “U?”)

So yes, I think it’s important to have a little bit of you in every main character but equally vital not expose your full self. This applies no matter how far away your character is from yourself, I mean if your lead character is a small slice of banana cake you still have to make it a bit like you. I am sure that although Bilbo Baggins is not human and lives in a complete fantasy world he still retains an inner likeness to Tolkien.

One piece missing coverTXTWhen I wanted to write a romance story, (not just to cash in on its current popularity you understand?) I pondered the idea of writing from the perspective of a female. This is tricky, although other authors on forums I discussed this with seemed to think otherwise. I decided not to do it, that to make a realistic character it had to be my own gender. In the end the book,One Piece Missing has fast become a favorite with readers of both genders, however I did get a reviewer that commented how well she related to the main male character but that the girl was rather flat and she could not relate to her.  Maybe it’s easier for women; men are far less complex, (we think about beer, sex and sport, the only confusing part is in what order we do so) particularly if they write about a small boy, like Sue Townsend or J K Rowling. So, perhaps this is a good challenge, one which accomplished authors can do, I’m still just playing around with it!

BB & B: Not only are you an author, but you are also an artist.  Tell us a bit about your art work and what you love about drawing.

Darren: Well that is the starting point you see, I relished as a child in TV cartoons and reading the Great British comic institutions like the Beano and Dandy. I spent many hours making up my own cartoons just for the fun of it. One day in a “Bash Street Kids” story in the Beano comic said kids went on an outing to the Beano studios. For the creators I am sure it was all just an excuse for a lot of in-house jokes, for the writers to mock the artists and for the artists to get their own back through their caricatures of the writers.

For me though it was a turning point for although I knew somewhere in my mind that people must draw and write these comics I had never really considered it before. That was it then my career dream was mapped on that very day and no teacher or adult could steer me away from it.

So pen and paper in hand I sketched away, having my first experience of being published in my school magazine. I flunked Art College, being pushed into graphic design; they asked me at the second year interview if I really wanted to be a graphic designer. I was too honest, I should have lied through my teeth but I said “no, I want to be a cartoonist!” Cartoons are seen as a hybrid of art and literature that neither world likes to touch, they are truly out there on limb. I argue that the ancient Egyptians created writing by drawing little pictures and symbols and so by all reasoning cartoons are actually the father of both writing and art. Unfortunately this was far too radical a thought for my college and they threw me out into the real world, the fact that a man that made cartoons became the largest entertainment industry ever never meant a Mickey Mouse to them.

So I used to dream of becoming the next Charles Schultz, getting a syndicated cartoon strip and moving to the sunshine state, oh how naïve I was! The reality saw me slaving away at my art after a day working a real job and making very little money out of it. I did start contributing to many a magazine and gradually finding a home within the self-published music fanzines and FINs (free information networks, little hand-made zines that gave counter-culture information- the internet killed this off very quickly) as these would be the only ones that dared publish the outrageous material I was churning out.

It wouldn’t be long under the wing of self-publishing that I decided the time was nigh to put all these crazy cartoons in one place and make my own comic. In the spirit of underground comix of yore I made Toonedelic Times in 1995, a madcap mixture of psychedelic cartoons, music reviews and other insane babble! I ran that comic for ten years, it had its ups and downs but the highlight for me was releasing three off-shoot comics in which my main characters (two whacked-out superheroes called “Rat Arsed and Shit Faced,”) took to a full-length adventure. This was the point where I found myself favo(U!)ring the writing over the artwork, so I began writing scripts for other artists to bulk out the comic and even set about writing a graphic novel.

At the point whereby Rat Arsed and Shit Faced where reaching a bit of a cult status and I was meeting my heroes, people like Gilbert Shelton who created the underground comic “Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers,” I unexpectedly fell in love. My life turned around, we got married and had my daughter. The skullduggery in my life which fueled the nature of the comic was put to rest and I matured. That never worried me, it was getting tiresome and I had no time now for self-publishing, nappy (sorry diaper) changing yes, making crazy-ass comics, no!

It would be some years later that I got a kindle for my birthday and a year after that when I realized that I could self-publish on it. So, I reformed to be an author.

Comic creators may dub me a traitor to the ninth art if they wish, but I will always love drawing and keep my hand in by designing many posters, local shop logos and of course, book covers. I do my own covers and have done for a few other authors too. Be warned though I will always try and convince the client that they need a cartoon in their design somewhere!

BB & B: If you had to pick just one story or one character of yours.  Which or who would it be and why?perminatorcover

Darren: Oh that’s a tricky one, its New Year’s Day y’know, don’t make me think too hard! Can I answer this like a politician? Yes, that’s a good question and one which I would like to answer in the fullness of time but let me first say this, under the previous government picking just one character would give us mass unemployment, civil disobedience and, and oh, I don’t know…..

Like I have said, a little bit of me is in every character. So, I have selected the first book character I wrote, Robert Longdong from the Hargreaves Code. It is still my bestseller to date and Longdong is nothing at all like that of any similar sounding character from a more renowned author like, say Dan Brown for instance.

He is a fool but a lovable one, a little bit sneaky and can, at times reveal a certain intelligence that is beyond him; perhaps that is just a fluke though. I could say that he is not the most developed of character as say, Barry from White Space Van Man, but for that reason I choose him….or maybe The Perminator, he is not what you might think, oh, it aggravates my wife when I spend eons staring aimlessly at a menu in a restaurant, this is no different, I have to leave it like that before I change my mind again!

BB & B: Your latest project, I am not Frazzle; the foreword in Frazzle is great, it starts beautifully detailed and had me giggling at the mention of nose hairs.  For those that haven’t read I am not Frazzle yet, can you tell us again, what inspired you to put this project together? 

Darren: Awl gee, thanks! I don’t stand on convention (it never stood on me.) When it comes to writing things like Forwards I guess it goes back to the days of making the comic, Toonedelic Times where I would have things like a Fake Contents page at the start. Another uncompleted book which just hangs on my computer called “50 Lampshades of Clay,” begins with a forward like “Forward. Can we have sex now? Well, how much more forward do you want me to be?”

So, yeah, anyway; Frazzle! As the forward says, the idea to make a charity anthology just popped in mind as I came crashing down on the sofa to watch some TV after work. I put up a group on Facebook to see if other authors would be interested in contributing and that is how it came about. A day before there was a news item I was reading, yet another story whereby some children had been horribly mistreated, a toddler left for dead for over two years in a pile of rubbish in a house and the mother hiding the fact so that she could claim the social benefit money. Now I am sorry if I swear here but what the f*** is going on in this world, how on earth can I be expected to make people laugh when this kind of sick, depraved event could possibly happen? There was no doubt that I wanted it to be a children’s charity.

Last year my daughter Jess did Christmas box packing at a local church. This is where they pack up shoe boxes with toys, clothes and things for children in third world countries. She was so inspired by this that this year she wanted to organize some at home to do and so she sent out an appeal letter to her school for items for the boxes. The head teacher was so impressed by her letter she encouraged the whole school to get involved and they ordered over 150 boxes to pack. I could not believe that my daughter had organized this all by herself, she is only six! So, she got her picture in the paper and received the Head-Teachers award, the highest merit in the school and she is only in her first year!

I was overwhelmed with pride as you can imagine but not to be outdone I decided that I have never really organized a charity fundraising exercise myself! And so Frazzle was born, I had the idea for my cover story somewhere on a random file of ideas and so I put you guys to work creating some others and wow, the book looks amazing, I love it more than anything I have ever made before, save a really nice pasta bake.

I did think that by getting others to write other stories it would reduce my workload but I have found it not so easy. I now find myself getting frustrated with these websites that want money to promote books and they will not wavier that for a charity project. Still it is in its early stages but doing quite well.

BB & B: I am not Frazzle was done to donate proceeds to a children’s charity. What has it been like to work with a charity organization like The Devizes and District Opportunity Centre?  Would you consider undertaking another similar CoverJpegproject?

Darren: At first I approached the big children’s charities in the UK; they however would not allow us to use their brand name without being an established company and giving a guaranteed sum. Unfortunately I could meet this criteria and this frustrated me. It was my wife who told me that the Opportunity Centre in our town was a registered charity; I thought it was council funded.

I went to talk to them, they showed me around. They specialize with young children with learning difficulties and disabilities, working with various organizations, schools and parents to give the kids the best start to life and make parents aware of the options open to them.

For the children themselves they seem to see it as one big nursery which caters more for their needs than normal nurseries, they have a one-on-one ratio and work with children very closely and on a personal level. The kids love it there and see the workers as friends. I was a lively place to be and full of fun, I could have stayed all day; they had a train set and everything!

 The Centre was very helpful, and warmed to the idea very quickly. I will be revisiting very soon when we have some paperbacks in the local bookstore, hopefully with the local press, as long as they don’t want to play with MY train set.

BB & B: Do you have works in progress?  What can fans expect from you in the near future?

Darren: Fans? Plural? Fan, I think you mean; that spotty guy on Facebook that always likes my status.

I seem to have more ideas than time to produce them all and therefore I have several projects just hanging there. I started a zombie comedy which takes place in a very British West Country village. I have the 50 Lampshades project I started too. I have also plotted out a sequel to White Space Van Man, called “Stark Trek.”

I am part way through an enormous project called Kelly. It is very ambitious, starting off as a social commentary which holds no prisoners; it is a twisted narrative which becomes more paranormal and horrific as time goes on. The second part is more political thriller and by the time it all pans out you will see that it fits nicely into a sci-fi genre! After the great reception that my first serious novelette Saffron, received I thought I would try my hand a large full length novel in three parts. It does give me the creeps writing it though and I make notes, stop and work on comedy to refresh myself!

BB & B: Do you have any closing words you’d like to share?

Darren: Indeed I do and it is this: People- support self-publishers, review, plug and shout out loud to the world when you find a self-published book you liked, splash it all over the social networks and make your friends out there, that would have otherwise just paid for an overpriced celebrity autobiography from a supermarket, know what is happening. People are waking up to the fact that there an alternative choice of publications they can venture into, they just need a little shove in the right direction!

Thank you Darren for your time! Best wishes to I am not Frazzle and all your future works!

The pleasure was all mine, thanks!

Get more laughs and more fun with Darren by going to the links below:

My books can also be found on iTunes, Sony, Kobo, EBM and many others!

 

Author Interview–Graham Downs

Books, Blogs, and Bits

is proud to present:

GRAHAM DOWNS!!

Graham Downs was born in Alberton, in Gauteng, South Africa. He now lives in Germiston with his wife. He is a computer programmer in Rivonia, who has always had a passion for writing.

The stories he writes are not constrained by genre, length, or time period. They are the stories that are burning to be told, and unleashed onto the world.

BB & B: You are a very busy gentleman—author, reviewer and librarian for Goodreads, blogger, and a computer programmer!  How do you maintain a healthy balance between all these great things that you do?  Any tips for other authors who find themselves maintaining a full time day-job while trying to pursue their creative passion?

cover jpegGraham: Well, it’s not easy, I’ll admit. My day job keeps me busy for long hours, but I always find time to read. Reading is incredibly important, and I find that Goodreads keeps me focused and disciplined in my reading.

Since discovering that site a year and a half ago, I don’t read anything (except what I have to read for work) that I don’t review anymore. I really enjoy thinking of all the things that I’m going to say when I review books, as I’m reading them.

As for my writing, well, I’ve always been the kind of person who really struggles with discipline. I always have at least three unfinished projects (writing projects, programming projects, household projects) on the go at any given point in time, most of which I’m sorry to admit will never see the light of day! The reading helps with my writing as well (you’ll hear a lot of authors say that); it keeps my imagination ticking, and when I’m struggling to write a difficult scene, or an ending for a story, I turn to a good book to clear my head and motivate me to press on.

I also have an amazingly supportive wife, who has promised to support and back me in anything that I want to achieve. Having that kind of love and support is invaluable!

BB & B: You are a fiction author.  Your collection of stories range from fantasy to thriller.  This is quite a range. Tell us what you love best about writing in these genres.

Graham: To be honest, I don’t really think about what genre I want to write in; I come up with the story, and the genre comes naturally. My first book was a short story called A Petition to Magic, and I don’t think I could’ve told that story any other way. Next came Heritage of Deceit, which is a modern day thriller set in an office environment. The idea for Stingers just hit me, and I knew exactly how the story would play out before my fingers hit the keyboard. As for what’s next, who knows?

BB & B: What inspires your stories and your characters?  What fuels your creativity?

Graham: I think the best way for me to be creative is to just “switch off” froma petition to magic technology and the world. Again, I think you’ll hear a lot of authors say that–it really works!

I’ve always had a really vivid imagination, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve liked to tell stories. Growing up, I played a lot of table-top RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, and I was always ended up being the “Game Master”, the one in charge of telling the story.

As to my inspiration, that’s a really difficult question to answer. Stories just come to me at the weirdest times. For A Petition to Magic, it was one particular scene where Solon was standing in his study preparing to cast his fateful spell. I dreamt about that one, one night, and it was really vivid.

Heritage of Deceit, not surprisingly, hit me one day at work when I was struggling with a particularly difficult programming problem and decided to step away from my computer for a few minutes. And as I’ve mentioned, Stingers came to me as more or less a complete story, all at once.

BB & B: To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?

Graham: Well, it’s not intentional, but I think there’s a little bit of me in all of my protagonists. Solon the Wizard is a mirror of my fears of trying new things, or “getting back on the horse” when I’ve made a horrible mistake (although thankfully, none of my mistakes have ever killed anyone!).

James Clarke is reminiscent of my Primary School days, when I was a bullied kid –although the bullying never escalated to the point that it did in Stingers.

cover jpegI guess that Lloyd from Heritage of Deceit is a lot like one or two people I’ve met in my career, whereas I fancy myself as being a bit like Robert.

There’s probably a little bit of us in all of our characters, for better or worse, and there’s a certain amount of “confession” that goes on in all our stories. Writing is a writer’s special kind of therapy, of getting things off his chest.

BB & B: You recently collaborated in a great children’s charity project—I am not Frazzle.  What inspired you to be so giving of your time? Would you do it again?

Graham: I just love to write. I saw a blog post by Darren Worrow (our editor on the project), looking for people to participate. His brief was very broad: A story, geared at adults, with at least one main character who’s a child. As I’ve already mentioned, when I read that brief, Stingers just came to me. I don’t know from whence it came, or why, but it just did. Before responding to Darren (and certainly before I knew whether he still had space, or whether I’d be accepted), I bashed out the first scene of the story, popped it off to him, and he loved it!

Would I do it again? Absolutely! It was a huge honour to be part of such a big project, and to work with all the amazing authors. Words cannot describe how I felt when Darren told us all that the project was going on sale. Even though I’m not making any money off of it, and I’d never heard of the charity before I embarked on the project, I have humbled and grateful to be supporting that worthy cause, in my own small way.

BB & B: Like many authors, you must have a ton of ideas for stories.  How do you decide which of your stories to bring to life and devote to paper?

Graham: I know what you’re thinking: you’re probably thinking that, as a computer programmer, I must have this carefully organised folder of story ideas, maybe I’ve even written a computer program to help me keep track of them all, and that I carefully choose what my next story will be from that list, based on market trends, genre, and so forth.

None of that is true, though. Most of my ideas aren’t even stored anywhere outside of my own head. The ones that get written are the ones that choose to be written when I sit down at my keyboard, stare at a blank screen, and start typing. You see, I don’t decide; the story does!

BB & B: Do you have any current projects and what can fans expect from you in the near future?

Graham: You know, every time someone asks me what I’m working on currently, they get a different answer!

I’m busy with a really short horror story, which I’m hoping is going to be accepted into a well known Independent Author Magazine. But I might not finish that, we’ll see how it goes. Then I have two ideas which might actually turn into novella length books, but I don’t think I’ll be any more specific than that, because by the time someone interviews me again, I may have forgotten all about them and be working on something completely different!

BB & B: Do you have any closing words you’d like to share?

Graham: Ooh, an open-ended question; those are difficult!

Readers, keep reading. If you’d include my stories in your reading, even better! Even better than that, though, is if you’d leave a review of each when you’re done. Reader reviews are independent authors’ bread and butter, and not just because we don’t have access to the insane marketing resources that big businesses do: we all tend to be an insecure bunch, and we’re never truly sure if anybody out there is actually reading what we’ve put out into the world. So, good or bad, please leave your thoughts on our stories. Every word of encouragement or criticism means that somebody has read our work and taken the time to say what they thought. You, dear reader, are the reason we keep writing!

Writers, keep writing! It’s a labour of love, and most of us will never get rich off it, nor even ever make enough to quit our day jobs. But it’s as necessary to us as breathing.

I find that I’m a lot like Graham in that my stories, my characters tend to take over and they dictate what’s next.  Thank you Graham for your time and we look forward to your next work!

To get to know more about and Graham and his work, check out these great links:

You can also follow Graham by going to:

Author Interview–Holly M. Kothe

Books, Blogs, and Bits

is proud to present:

HOLLY M. KOTHE!

Snapshot_20130601Holly M. Kothe is a freelance short story writer and novelist from Cincinnati, Ohio. She holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University and works as an editor for The Oddville Press.

~ ~

BB & B: What inspired you to create Sweet Violent Femmes?

Holly: The whole thing came together over time. I never planned to put short stories into a collection, but the more I wrote, the more I noticed an ongoing theme of dark, twisted payback with a feminine slant. The first story, “The Glass Room,” was the only one exclusively written for the Sweet Violent Femmes collection, and it also happens to be my favorite.

BB & B: All the stories in this collection has a reason for why the heroine of the story resorts to what she does, but which of the short stories in Sweet Violent Femmes affects you the most?  Why?

Holly: Probably “Tethered.” It is the only story with a paranormal element, and it deals with a lot of real life issues that affect me way more than I’d care to admit. There’s true love gone sour, infidelity, death, the afterlife—oh, and the selfish nature of womanizing men (creative gold for me).

 BB & B: To what extent do your characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?

 Holly: To a large extent, I think. The percentage of real-life vs. art is a constantly changing one. I couldn’t tell you how much is true, and how much is imagination. I use myself as a model for a lot of my characters, then I’ll throw in quirks that are the complete opposite of me…working as a prostitute in Paris, for example.

BB & B: What research did you have to perform for Sweet Violent Femmes? SVF COVER PHOTOWas there any research which really opened your eyes or gave you a new perspective or respect for a topic or profession?

 Holly: It was great fun to research Paris, its modern day brothels, and the French language because I’m so obsessed with these topics. Also, researching the autopsy process in gross detail completely creeped me out. I figure, if I’m really freaking myself out with these thoughts, then I better write them down, fast!

BB &B: You are getting great reviews on Sweet Violent Femmes.  Congratulations! Your writing style is described as beautiful, biting, highly descriptive, and like looking at a painting. Can you take us through a glimpse of your thoughts as you write and craft your words to tell your stories?

Holly: I try to be highly descriptive and write the scene I see in my head without too much fluff. When I’m editing, I cut the bullshit that came out the first time around. I try to think of Hemingway, and his no-nonsense prose. I model my writing after that style, and sometimes I’m pompous enough to tell people that, ha.

BB & B: What can fans expect from you in the near future?

Holly: More short fiction! It’s a format I will always have a soft spot for. Also, a YA novel. As a teen, reading became one of the most important things to me. I want to write for teens who have that passion like I did. It will be real-life drama, dark and humorous. I think dark fiction and comedy pair well together.

 BB & B: Any tips you’d like to provide to new writers or closing words you’d like to share?

Holly: Don’t listen to people TOO much. By that I mean, yes, learn everything you can, but be careful to filter advice from writers or readers so that you find what works for your own personal style. I’ve heard it a million times, but it’s a true cliché: the best thing you can do for yourself as a writer is to read and write.

Great words of advice. Thank you Holly for spending time with Books, Blogs, and Bits. Best wishes to you and we can’t wait to see more of your future work.

If you’d like to see more of Holly’s work, be sure to check out these links:

A Little Literary, (a lotta Coffee)

Facebook

Twitter

Purchase Sweet Violent Femmes Here:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

Artist Interview–Shane Burke

Books, Blogs, & Bits is proud to present: our very first artist interview!

SHANE BURKE!

ShaneShane Burke is a Graphics Designer, Illustrator, and Artist that works out of the Modesto, California area. He works in all mediums; oils, acrylics, water color, charcoal/pencil, pen and ink, pastels, colored pencils, and much more. 

Shane is very familiar and up to date with most design software including Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Final Cut, Dream Weaver, Flash, Premiere, After effects, Toon Boom, and many more. 

Shane has completed many commercial assignments in the film and entertainment industry to include movie posters, video production, motion graphics, album covers and art, children’s book illustration, character design, concept art and story boards, graphic novel illustrations, product illustration, package design and web development, and many more.

And as if he wasn’t busy enough, Shane also accepts commissions for private collectors and has completed many portrait illustrations, landscapes, murals, and custom art pieces for art lovers all over the world.

Without further adieu, here is BB & B’s interview with this fabulous artist:

BB & B: What is your favorite medium to work in?

Shane: That’s a tough one.  Pen and ink was my first love.  But over the years acrylics have grown on me. 

 BB & B: What captures your eye and makes you want to translate that vision into artwork?

Shane: I believe I look at the world through different eyes than most.  I see depth, value, contours, horizon lines, vanishing points, contrast etc.  I look at things as simple as the road while driving, and how I would create the scene on a sheet of paper.   But new things seem to inspire me most.  A new road I haven’t driven down, a new idea, new moment, new person, new feeling, or even a new pen or pencil and new pad of paper. 

 BB & B: What style would you say is your specialty?

Shane: Since I was very young I thought the more accurately you could render an image, the better the artist you were.  I have dedicated all my life to realism, and I believe that is what I am best at.  As I grew older, I realized great artists render a feeling, emotion or idea, not just realistic images.  Now I do my best to create both. 

 BB & B: Do you have any unique techniques that you use?

Shane: As a young man walking through the museum I wasn’t sure what made

beautiful couple in embrace

beautiful couple in embrace

good art.  I still don’t.  But RembrandtHarmenszoon van Rijn makes me stop every time. I enjoy the contrast from very dark to bright in his work. 

I like to use dramatic contrasts with lighting whenever possible, and let the contrast form the image.  

 BB & B: If you could create your dream project, what would it be and why?

Shane: Since I was a kid I loved comic book art, and studied my favorite artists work.  I have stories written in my head that are decades old.  My dream project would be to get all of those stories onto paper for others to see. 

 BB & B: What do you love best about being an artist?

Shane: Tears.  I do a lot of commercial art, but private collectors are usually more emotionally attached to the work I create for them.  Most of my work is sent out in the mail, but whenever I can, I like to deliver them myself so I can see their reaction.  I feel great honor and pride in creating something so dear to collector’s heart.  And incredibly lucky to be able to make a living this way.     

3kids3

BB & B: What can fans expect from you in the future?

Shane: I have illustrated several children’s books and have a couple more that should be available in the next couple months.  But I will be taking a stab at writing and illustrating my own stories for teens and adults.  It’s time to get these stories out of my head.  

 BB & B: Do you have any tips for new artist?

Shane: It doesn’t matter how great your art is if nobody sees it.  Do anything and everything you can think of to get eyes on your work. 

wedding bliss

wedding bliss

~ ## ~

If you’d like to see more of Shane’s work or connect with him on some projects of your own; this is where you can find him:

BeezInk

Make sure to check out the children’s books: here

Facebook

Want more? Take a look below 🙂

Character concept illustrations done for NANCY BROOKS, Author.

 

Leaning forward

MC900303033[1]I was at a meeting yesterday at my day job.  The meeting had nothing at all to do with books or of my own personal goals to build my book biz.  But then there came a moment when the presenter felt like he tapped into the wanderings of my mind and began talking to me directly.

Of course, that wasn’t the case, but I had one of those instances when I felt like I was being given a divine message.  I’ve been questioning my abilities, skills, and even my desire to really stick this out and figure out what I need to do to become successful.  It’s been a year since I’ve published my book, but it hasn’t gained much traction.  I can blame this or that for this stall in progress, but I have to be honest with myself and claim the problem as me!

I’ve been afraid.  I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to take the steps I need to take the next leap of faith.

I can see where I want to be, but I can’t figure out the path I need to take to get there, but then in my meeting, the presenter said these things… “blah, blah, blah, and in order to build a program, you will need these…”

I woke up from the drowsiness that was sure to have me nodding off and I was like ‘hey, that makes sense!’  You know what he said?  Here it is:

  • Logo
  • Brand
  • Mission Statement
  • Integrity/Action Triggers
  • 3-5 year plan

Logo/Brand–this is how you will be identified.  Put this on everything you do to 12_Angels_Publishing_2associate yourself with your services and your products.  Your logo/brand represents you.

Mission Statement–what is your mission for doing what you are doing.  Why is it important?  What do you hope to accomplish? Put your heart into this statement.

Integrity/Action Triggers–what is the basis for your decisions?  These will be the guiding tenets of what you do.  For example, “I will only produce quality work.  Anything less will not be published.”

Plan–must have a plan.  What do you hope to do at the end of year.  What do you need to do each month, each week, each day to get closer to your goal? Adjust accordingly.  Plans sometimes don’t work out the way we like or anticipate.  Be open to adjust and to re-work the plan.

Good stuff right?  I thought so, but the most important takeaway from that meeting was the presenter’s emphasis on “leaning forward” and not giving up–ever! Perseverance is the word!

Even if you can’t take a step, just lean into it, push into it, and eventually you will move forward.  Every little thing that is done, is something done.

Creation takes time.  Building things that will last takes time.

Where does this leave me?  I’m back to the drawing board–again 🙂