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Archive for March, 2020

Answering the Question: So Now What with New York Times best-selling author, Laura Munson

My new novel, Willa’s Grove, begins with an invitation:

You are invited to

the rest of your life.

You know you can’t go on like this.

Not for one more day.

You need an interlude.

***

Imagine this:

You are in a farmhouse in Montana, wrapped in a soft blanket, sitting by a warm woodstove. There is a cup of tea in your hand, just the way you like it. There are women surrounding you who need this just as badly as you do.

We all have the same question.

The question is:

So now what?

Come to Montana and find out …

Love,

Willa

(You don’t have to do this alone.)

Maybe you have asked this question. Maybe you are asking it right now. Maybe you know you will be asking it in the near future. Maybe someone you love is asking it and you don’t know how to help them find their answer. Maybe you’ve seen yourself, or your loved one, or both, isolate because of the shame that this tether-less question can so often bring– simply in the honest asking of it. Everyone, I don’t care who you are or what’s in your bank account or how steady your life seems…everyone asks So Now What many times in their lives. It’s called being human. It’s called navigating this beautiful and heartbreaking thing called life.

But maybe you don’t know this right now. Maybe it’s new news to you. Maybe you think that everyone else knows exactly what they’re up to. I mean, just look at their Instagram and Facebook posts. Their lives must be perfect! Unlike yours. So you might as well go hide under a rock. But…maybe when you read the words “You don’t have to do it alone,” just now, you felt a little rush of surprise. And that’s likely because the only way you’ve been able to navigate these perilous waters is by becoming an island with no bridges in sight. You were supposed to know how to move forward into the next chapter of your life. You were supposed to do it with grace. I mean, you picked your spouse. It wasn’t supposed to end in divorce. You chose to have children. Empty Nest wasn’t supposed to be so debilitating. You don’t want them living in your basement. You’ve been slogging away at your job for a decade and you loathe it. But you applied for it. You majored in its field in college. You have letters after your name just so you can have this exact job. You are supposed to love it. So…shhhh…don’t tell anyone that you’re not “fine” at the grocery store. Lest you be judged. Or even rejected. Smile and buck up and pretend. And then go hide on your island. Likely there are pillows and Kleenex involved.

If you are nodding your head right now, I promise you this: you are not alone. There is a way out and it has to do with knowing just the right person to share your truth with. Having the courage to come together. And share your story. The one full of inconvenient truths and dirty secrets and oh…the shame. The shame. So do you pick the most together person in your life? How about—no. How about you choose someone who is also staring down the barrel of their own So Now What. Someone who’s just as scared as you are to have the conversations that you know you need to have. Someone who will be safe and real, even though they’ve been hiding too. Even if they’ve never been great at knowing how to be either of those things. Both of you know it’s time. And that you need to leave your life in order to bridge back to it. Not forever. Just for a small interlude. You can do a lot with a week when you are highly intentional. And that’s my call to action for you. I want us to come together. Now is the time for gathering in safe, trusted, circles of truth.

That’s what the women of Willa’s Grove do, and it’s a model of what’s possible for people everywhere at these crossroads moments of our lives. The model is this: you invite another person who you know is also in need of finding her So Now What—and it’s likely not someone in your daily life, but maybe a friend who reached out to you in desperation on a holiday or at 4:00 am but couldn’t quite bring herself to say what she seemed to really need to say. Who apologized at the end and tried to tie it up in a pink bow when you could hear her heart bleeding on the other end of the phone. That friend. Hopefully she will say yes. And then that friend asks another friend who is also in a major crossroads. And that friend asks the last. Four women. One week. One question.

I have learned the power of what I’m calling “bridge” community over and over at my Haven Writing Retreats in Montana, and that’s what inspired Willa’s Grove. In no way is this a novel about a writing retreat. But the spirit is the same. These strangers who are not strangers. These people who become kindreds as they help each other find their voices and set them free, especially in the woods of Montana.

It’s time to say yes to the profound invitations of our lives. To gather in trusted circles. And to tell each other our stories with the express intention of finding the answers we so dearly need. Please…in your hiding and pretending and shame…heed Willa’s call: We don’t have to do this alone. Call that friend. Create your own Grove Week! I hope my book lands in your heart and calls you to action. Let’s start a movement!

Yours,

Laura (and Willa)

You can pick up a copy of her book at https://amzn.to/2uxmKjH.

About the Author

LAURA MUNSON is the bestselling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is, which chronicles her journey through her own midlife crossroads. Drawing from the striking response to her memoir, the essay version of it in the New York Times “Modern Love” column, and her speaking events at women’s conferences across the US, Laura founded the acclaimed Haven Writing Retreats and Workshops. After watching hundreds of people find their unique and essential voices under the big sky of Montana she calls home, Laura created Willa, the invitation, the friends, and the town to share what she has learned with people globally. Her work has been published and featured in many media outlets throughout the world.

WEBSITE &SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: https://www.lauramunsonauthor.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lauramunson

Facebook: https://www.instagram.com/lauramunsonauthor/

 

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MONSTERLAND

By Michael Okon

YA Monster Fiction

Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth.Wyatt Baldwin’s senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance. But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?

Praise:

“Michael Okon crafts a fabulous novel with unique, unforgettable characters. …The world building was done fabulously. There were believable backgrounds that explain how it could be possible for there to be a world that had not only vampires, but also werewolves and zombies, excuse me, the vitality-challenged. It all comes together seamlessly as the plot lines converge to make for an explosive ending.” – Devouring Books 2017, blogspot

“I can assure you of this: you will not be disappointed. Nor will you sleep well at night for a while, either. But isn’t that the mark of a master storyteller! Hat’s off to Michael Okon” – Theodore Jerome Cohen, Author of “House of Cards: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Martelli NYPD, #2)”

“As this book deserves not only top of the New York Times bestseller list but on the big screen as well. The moment I began to read my world was transformed and I was living through the novel.” – Carey Hurst, Tales of A Wanna-Be SuperHero Mom

“First rate YA fiction with a monsterous twist. Highly recommended.” – Richard Schwindt, author of “The Death in Sioux Lookout Trilogy”

“Okon does a fantastic job of creating distinct personalities for the different monsters. The vampires are sly and cunning while the werewolves are weary and brooding. Even the zombies have some personality, albeit it’s only shown through thoughts they struggle to string together.” – Alejandro Ramos, medium.com

“I enjoyed the beautiful prose, the great characters, and the exciting plot. It’s hard to read this novel without getting emotionally involved.” – Divine Zape, Readers’ Favortie (Five Star Review)

“I think MONSTERLAND provides something different for the YA category that really isn’t otherwise present, not only in type of story but in teen/adult relationships.” – litbites.com, Blog Tour

“This book has a charm often lost in supernatural stories. Michael Okon sets a brilliant scene where you can hear and see the world coming to life before your eyes. You don’t read this book, you live it. .. Monsterland makes for a fun yet harrowing horror read, with injections of comedy, and masterful execution.” – K.J. Simmill (5 Star Review)

Monsterland Awards

  • 2017 Readers’ Favorite Five Star Review
  • Feathered Quill Book Awards 2018 – Science Fiction/Fantasy – Second Place
  • Feathered Quill Book Awards 2018 – Teen Fiction, Graphic/Anime (13-18 years) – First Place
  • The Feathered Quill, The Write Companion Award for Best Overall Top Pick
  • 2018 Shelf Unbound – Notable
  • 2018 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner in the Young Adult – Horror genre
  • 2019 International Book Awards – Fiction: Fantasy – Finalist
  • 2020 Feathered Quill Book Awards – Gold/1st Place – Best of Backlist

Amazon → https://amzn.to/31KQKFy

Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/2SCCo5P

Chapter 1

The Everglades

The sky was a sparkling, powder blue, mosquitoes droned lazily over the tepid water, frogs croaked messages while they sunbathed on waxy lily pads. The fire he created burned bright, rabbit roasting on a spit made from hickory, the juices dripping to hiss in the flames. Seven of them lay in scattered repose, enjoying the late afternoon lull—two napped, the others tossed a stuffed fur in the form of a ball around the clearing, hooting with amusement when it rolled into the brush. They traveled in a pack, his group, his makeshift family, foraging together, hiding in plain sight. It had been that way for generations. But the glades were getting smaller, the humans invasive.

The sun started its slow descent into the horizon, hot pink and lilac clouds rippling against the empty canvas of the sky. Their color deepened as the sky filled, the rosy hue morphing into a burnt orange as the sun hid behind the condensation. The air thickened, moisture causing the leaves to lie heavily against the branches. Here and there, fireflies lit the gloom, doing a placid ballet in the humid air. The men moved closer as the sun sank into the western treetops, the fading sky promising another clear day tomorrow in the Everglades despite the moving ceiling of clouds.

A lone hawk cried out, disturbing the peace of the glade. Huge birds answered, flapping their wings, creating a cacophony of swamp sounds. The area became a concerto of animals responding to the disruption of their home—wild screams, squeaks, and complaints of the invasion of their territory.

The lead male stood, his head tilted. He heard it again. It was music, the strange organization of sounds, predictable as well as dangerous. Where those rhythms originated meant only one thing—they were not alone. They all rose, tense and alert, searching the waterway. Billy pointed, his dirty hands silently parting an outcropping of trees to expose a flat-bottom boat with strangers floating slowly toward them. It was filled with people, excitedly searching the banks of the swamp, their expensive khaki bush clothes ringed with sweat. Many held huge cameras. It was obviously a film crew, invasive, nosy individuals looking for something, anything, to enhance their lives. Men’s voices drifted on the turgid air. Billy stood, sniffing, his mates following suit. He glanced at the sky, gauging the time, his eyes opening wide. It was late. The bald top of the moon peeked over the ridge in the south, the sky graying to twilight with each passing second. Night came fast and furious in the swamp, dropping a curtain of darkness, extinguishing all light except for the beacon of the full moon. That chalk-white orb floated upward, indifferent to the consequences of its innocent victims. A halo of lighter blue surrounded the globe, limning the trees silver, the cobwebs in the trees becoming chains of dripping diamonds in the coming night.

What were the interlopers doing here? Billy thought furiously. This was their territory. The humans didn’t belong in the swamp. The moon continued its trip to the heavens, the familiar agony beginning in his chest. Billy fought the demons churning within his body, feeling the pain of metamorphosis. He curled inward, hunching his shoulders, the curse of his nature making his spine pull until his tendons and muscles tore from their human positions to transform into something wicked. A howl erupted from his throat, followed by another, and then another. Grabbing handfuls of dirt, he tried to fight the awful change, but, as the sun dipped to its fiery death, the moon took control of his life, and the unnatural force tore through his unwilling body. Reason fled; his heart raced. Falling on his hands and knees, he let loose a keening cry as his face elongated, his body changing into a canine, fangs filling his mouth. He raced in a circle in a demented dance, knowing his fellow pack members did the same thing. Slowing, he regulated his labored breathing, forcing the icy calmness he needed to keep some semblance of reason. He peered through the dense brush. Lights from the search party bobbed in the distance. The odor, the stench of humanity, filled the clearing.

He turned, digging furiously on the ground, throwing dirt on the flames, hiding their existence. It was no good. Discovery would ruin everything. No one could live with their kind. Humans brought disease, humans brought anger, humans brought hatred. They were there; he could smell them, see their clumsy bodies invading his home. “They’ve found us,” he growled in the special language they used. “Run!” he barked as he turned to his pack, watching his friends’ naked skin transform until it was covered with the same silvered fur. They cried out in unison at the pain, howling with the injustice, and then ran in fear from the interlopers threatening their habitat.

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: http://www.michaelokon.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Michael0kon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iammichaelokon/

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Title: A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS
Author: J. Richman
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Company
Pages: 356
Genre: Memoir Narrative

BOOK BLURB:

A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS by J. Richman is a creative and life-affirming collection of ponderings that expose the deep thoughts and feelings of a man who has lived a life full of diverse experiences and challenges. This uniquely constructed compilation of more than 300 reflections focuses on several areas of living, including intimate relationships and acceptance of human frailty, as well as the author’s internal conflicts.

A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS homes in on the complications inherent in intimate relationships from the opening pages of the book: “Problems accrue when we confuse how a woman looks with who she is.” Richman brings the perspective of a mature man to the lessons on love presented in the book, including, “Exploitation of another depreciates both parties,” and “The reason we fall in love with flawed people is that that’s the only kind of people there are.”

In addition to offering a brief study of intimate relationships, A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS probes human frailty and offers readers guidance in accepting this fact. “We must learn to be strong enough to be gentle,” brings into focus the need to deliberately work at treating people well. The author also encourages readers to show self-compassion when dealing with their own baggage: “Sometimes it’s difficult to see beyond the wreckage of our lives, but we must! Take heart! We are more than our mistakes.”

In A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS, Richman further challenges readers to take the reins of their lives when he says, “Name those things that you would do if you had no fear then do something about it.” He offers words of caution regarding political rhetoric: “Beware of politicians who whip up emotions to make us suspicious of others unlike us.” And rounds the book out by sharing his internal conflicts: “The world has bent me more than I have bent it”; “too often my logical mind and my emotional mind are hostile enemies”; “every time I look in the mirror, I expect to see a younger man.”

A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS began as a series of notes that Richman wrote to himself. “I found that if I do not write out my true, and often painful, thoughts and feelings, I do not deal with them.” Richman wishes a book like this one had been available when he was a boy because the knowledge enclosed could have assisted him in navigating his teenage and young adult years. He hopes A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS will assure men that they are not alone in their quiet musings. For women, Richman believes the book will provide a window into men’s unexpressed emotions.

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2RVEoqX

 Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/3b7HaRo

Book Excerpt:

“introspection requires us to be an interested  spectator of our own life.” …can this me be a better me…what happens when unimportant me wants to be important me…can anyone understand us and love us anyway…why must we clutch desperately to or fantasy…what happens when we need for from life than is available…do you frolic  and run with the deer in deer hunting season?…not to worry it’s all in the grand plan that you can change anytime.”

About the Author

Richman is the author of A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS, a collection of thoughts about life, relationships, and humanity.

Richman’s work history includes his service as an undercover intelligence officer in the US Air Force; later, he established a thriving business in real estate investment. For 16 years, Richman owned and operated Modify My Mortgage, a company that worked with homeowners to prevent foreclosures. His business success allowed Richman the time to pursue his passions, which included serving as the president of Nova, a workshop that provided work and life skills training for clients with disabilities; cofounding A Way Across, a drop-in center for teenagers with emotional and substance abuse problems; and fundraising for several more public service groups.

Richman enjoys writing and editing at night after allowing his ideas to blossom and expand during the day. The author is married with three sons and five grandsons.

Visit his website at http://www.amanslatenightthoughts.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

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Title: THE MOCKING MAN
Author: Leslie Georgeson
Publisher: Leslie Georgeson Books LLC
Pages: 373
Genre: Romantic Suspense / Organized Crime

BOOK BLURB:

THE PACT: Two friends. One pact. A dangerous plan with an elaborate deception. In a world where they must rely on each other to survive, how far will each of them go to honor the pact?
______

The Mocking Man:

Deception.

Not a word I would have associated with myself fifteen years ago. Back then I was innocent and carefree, a teenage boy with big dreams.

Then my best friend Rafe was kidnapped, and my world fell apart. I foolishly thought I could save him.

I was wrong.

Now my entire life is a web of deceit. My every breath tainted by lies. I don’t like what I’ve become. But it’s essential for my very survival.

My job now is to stay in the shadows and keep Rafe’s sister Isabella safe. She can’t even know I’m here.

Then danger lurks closer. Somehow, I must protect her while keeping my secret.

But I get so caught up in my own twisted game that I eventually make a terrible mistake.

Now she’s a part of the pact. And I can’t let her go.

But what kind of life can I give her if I can never be anything more than the mocking man?

***This series is a romantic suspense duet. Book 1 is Alex’s story, and Book 2 is Rafe’s story. Each is a separate romance with an HEA (and no cliffhangers). However, events from book 1 lead to events in book 2. Therefore, it is recommended that they be read in order to get the full story. These books contain strong language, adult situations, and dark subject matters. Recommended for readers ages 18 and up.***

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2TLM1S0

Book Excerpt:

Mr. Wilson could be watching me right now through the video surveillance he’d mentioned.

Be very careful, Izzy. You could go to jail if you get caught. 

My boss’s words about being unethical flashed through my mind. What I was contemplating now wasn’t ethical at all. It was dishonest. Wrong.

But I needed to find out if Alex was alive. I needed to find the mocking man. And I needed to do it today. So while Mr. Wilson slept, I was going to quietly snoop while I cleaned, and see if I could find something that might give me answers.

Video surveillance be dammed. If I moved around just right, carrying my supplies and acting like I was cleaning, then he wouldn’t know I was snooping, right?

A half hour later, I’d searched through this entire side of the villa and found no evidence suggesting Alex Davies might live here. Was I wasting my time here? Was Alex truly dead?

I tiptoed back into the kitchen. Then I went around past the sunroom area and down a separate hallway, checking each room. Nothing.

The last door to my right was closed. The sun wasn’t all the way up yet, so it was still a bit dark in the hallway. As I drew nearer, it became apparent the “closed” door actually stood slightly ajar. Just a crack. As if someone had forgotten to close it all of the way.

For some reason, that small opening called to me, saying, “Come check me out. There are secrets in here.”

And I fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker.

I gravitated toward the opening, eager to see beyond, taking no heed to my inner warnings that shrieked, curiosity killed the cat, Izzy. Be careful.

Gently pressing on the door, I pushed it open.

The room was shrouded in darkness, the curtains drawn.

A sense of eeriness crept over me as I tried to make out what I was seeing.

I stumbled back, a scream erupting from my throat.

What the…crap was that?

About the Author

Leslie Georgeson writes romance and suspense, sometimes with a dash of sci-fi or paranormal tossed in to make things more interesting. She is the author of the military romantic suspense series, THE DREGS, which was nominated for the 2018 TopShelf Indie Book Awards. Her other titles include the UNLIKELY HEROES series, the UNDERNEATH series, the standalone romantic mystery, NO SON OF MINE, and the newly released romantic suspense duet, THE PACT. Book one, The Mocking Man, is now available on Amazon and book two, The Honest Liar, is scheduled for an early June 2020 release. Leslie lives with her husband and daughter on a quiet country acreage in Idaho.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: http://lesliegeorgeson.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lesliegeorgeson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlesliegeorgeson/

GIVEAWAY!

Leslie Georgeson is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Card.
  • This giveaway ends midnight April 10.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on April 11.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave-dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.

Her latest book is A Turkish Affair.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: http://www.j-arleneculiner.com

And http://www.jill-culiner.com

Blog:  http://j-arleneculiner.over-blog.com

Storytelling podcast: https://soundcloud.com/j-arlene-culiner

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JArleneCuliner

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jarlene.culiner

Interview:

Would you call yourself a born writer?

I don’t think there’s any such thing as a born writer. Like many people in the world, I started writing stories when I was very young; but most children write stories, and that doesn’t mean they’ll become professional writers. It’s not the act of writing that counts, it’s how you write, and how you use language, and those things require a long apprenticeship. I’m afraid, however, that children’s imaginations are now being programmed by television, Internet, cell phone entertainment, and video games. I’m not certain they write stories anymore, or that they are able to write them using their own imagination.

What was your inspiration for The Turkish Affair?

Like the heroine of The Turkish Affair, I once worked in central Turkey, translating for tourists. The landscape was beautiful but bleak; the winters were Siberian, the summers, hot and heavy. It was a dangerous time, too, and I knew there were rules that had to be respected: the police were untrustworthy; there was political unrest; and there were frequent arrests. I spent much time on archaeological sites where I learnt about artifact theft; and, through rather strange circumstances, I witnessed what happened to political prisoners inside Turkish prisons.

When I decided I wanted to write a romantic mystery, I realized how perfect that Turkish setting would be: thus The Turkish Affair, was born. Although the books is a romance and an intrigue, the story is realistic. There’s menace, but it’s psychological; the murder happens off stage, without graphic description, car chases, or screaming sirens. The setting is exotic, but because this is an unstable part of the world, we can’t feel too comfortable. And we can’t count on the police either, for corruption is endemic here.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Around five years. The Turkish Affair went through many changes, and I do tend to work on several projects all at one time.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I’m disciplined some of the time, but not always. I can wake up and start working at five in the morning for a whole month, then suddenly lose the willpower to leave my warm bed. Sometimes I’ll write all afternoon, sometimes I won’t. That doesn’t sound very disciplined, does it?

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Deciding on the clues that would solve the mystery, conjuring up the atmosphere of a bleak plain in Turkey, planting suspicion, having effective red herrings, and making sure my characters are well-rounded and true to life.

What do you love most about being an author?

Getting lost in my own imagination, working on all the drafts after the first (getting down the first draft is painful and hard), playing with characters. A work in progress takes over my own life during the time I work on it. It places me in another country, another world, and I also start thinking like the characters I’m writing about.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

My publisher for The Turkish Affair is The Wild Rose Press. I’ve published two other books with them, A Swan’s Sweet Song, and, Felicity’s Power, and I adore working with my editor, Eilidh MacKenzie. I’ve also published several romances with Fire Star Press. I’ve also worked with Club Lighthouse for the very unromantic mysteries I write under the name Jill Culiner.

I don’t self-publish because I like knowing my books are good enough to be accepted by an official publisher. Also, I would never be any good at doing all the hard promotional and distribution work those who self-publish must contend with.

 

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Paul Martin Midden is the author of five previous novels, each of which explores different writing styles. He practiced clinical psychology for over thirty years. Paul’s interests include historic restoration, travel, fitness, and wine tasting. He and his wife Patricia renovated an 1895 Romanesque home in 1995 and continue to enjoy urban living.

Riley FRONT COVER hi-resQ: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Riley. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: Thank you. Riley is about the eponymous protagonist who is about thirty, a writer by trade, who lives in Washington, D.C. At the beginning of the book, she has left her husband and has undertaken a novel about separation and divorce. She lives in a small apartment in a D.C. high-rise.

The characters in Riley’s novel are also in a marriage that is teetering on the edge. It opens with Adam, her protagonist, trying to decide if he should talk to Suzanne, his wife about their relationship. He works from home, and he has decided this was the day they would talk. In the end, he loses his nerve and doesn’t say anything. But to his surprise Suzanne is the one who takes the initiative.

Riley’s life and the novel she is writing share many similarities, but there are also major differences. Suzanne turns out to be having an affair with her female boss. Riley’s best friend is a slightly older lesbian who is attracted to Riley but who values the platonic friendship they have.

As the story unfolds, unexpected things happen that challenge all of the characters. Without giving away the plot, the lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur, and each of the characters has to deal with the emotional impact of events as they unfold.

That is what the story is about.

Q: What do you think makes a good Adult Fiction book? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: A good contemporary fiction work requires a realistic portrayal of the characters, both externally in terms of their behavior and internally in terms of the mental process they undergo. The other two elements are important for all novels: an interesting narrative that keeps the reader reading and sufficient suspense to encourage them to read until the end.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A:  I am definitely one of those writers who discovers the work as I go along. It is one of the joys of writing. It’s almost like reading in reverse.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Not formally. But as a psychologist with lots of time spent with patients up close, I have a pretty well-developed understanding of how people function. That has important in all my books, but it was invaluable in writing this book, as much of the action takes place inside the characters’ heads.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: What made the antagonist realistic was relating his internal story as well as his behavior. He wasn’t so much just a bad guy as a confused, conflicted, angry, and neurotic guy. Of course, there is considerable overlap among those things. Again, the internal, mental landscape gives life to otherwise confusing or bad behavior.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: For this novel, the dynamic tensions existed both among the principal characters and in the lives of the novel-within-a-novel characters. And there was a lot of interplay among them all. I think this helps the excitement and engagement level of the readers. Hope so!

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: The setting of the novel is Washington D.C., which I visit often. It is a city rich with opportunities for description and emits a certain gravitas that is distinct from most other cities. Being a large city, it also provides a lot of background material.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: Along with the plot, I discovered themes as the writing unfolded. The specific themes of this book are distinct from my other works, although there are some secondary themes that reverberate in several of them. I am given writing about neurotic, conflicted people. Occupational hazard, perhaps.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: I think I’m not a good judge of the line between craft and art in my own work; that is probably something for others to determine. Re: editing: It depends on the editor. I interviewed a woman who apparently thought the central structure of the book was flawed. I did not hire her, as the changes she proposed would have destroyed the narrative structure of the book. The ones I did hire were respectful of the work and its characters. I tend to be protective of my characters.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Dedication to the craft; a more or less continues output; and a love of writing. A willingness to self-promote is also important for commercial success.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. Thoughts?

A: I think there’s something to that, but with a caveat. I seldom enjoyed homework in school, but I love writing. That is such an important difference. It is a mature kind of love, however, rather than a one-night stand: it takes patience and perseverance.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: The book that triggered my actual decision to write was Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. Anyone familiar with that work knows immediately how potent her advice was. Beyond that, I think reading widely is one of the best preparations for writing.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: For those who love to write, the craft often comes naturally. I think it is important for individual writers to respect their own love of the process and write accordingly.

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