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Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving and the recently released, A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | BLOG

Would you call yourself a born writer?

I’m not sure I would say I am a born writer as much as I have always felt called to write. It’s important to me to make sure of my God-given talents. Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed.

What was your inspiration for Amos Faces His Bully?

Like my first book, Little Shepherd, this story places fictional characters in a Biblical setting. My first inspiration was to continue with the format of my first book—make it a series of unrelated, yet similar, stories. There are others planned.

My primary reason for writing Amos Faces His Bully, however, is very personal. I was bullied as a child; teased from the day I entered elementary until the day I graduated high school. Yet, with all the awareness of bullying and the anti-bullying programs that exist in our cities and towns today, bullying still exists. As I’ve worked hard to prevent my own child from being bullied, I wanted her to know God could provide her—and other victims of bullying—with peace and strength.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Faith often plays a role in my books. Whether it be a young shepherd boy who must trust that God will keep his sheep safe while he visits the newborn King, or a bullied child seeking courage to deal with his tormenters, reaching out in faith has many rewards. A Christmas Kindness, while not faith-based, has themes in it that some might consider Christian values. Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving and A Christmas Kindness show young people as problem solvers.

How long did it take you to complete this picture book?

The first draft of Amos Faces His Bully took a few days…but that’s the easy part. It’s the editing process that takes a while. You’re not only looking for typographical or grammar errors. You’re looking to trim away the unnecessary words. You’re clarifying your meaning. You’re seeking out repetitive words or phrases. Even after a book is published, it’s not uncommon to wish you had done something differently.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Um…no. Total panster who waits until there is a fair amount of time to sit down uninterrupted to write. Usually that means once a month at writing group, but I’ll take what I can get.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Writing a book about a youngster being bullied when you were bullied and friendless for most of your childhood tends to bring up bad memories. Thankfully, as many of us discover, the years after high school bring with them a level of maturity the bullies—and you—didn’t have in school.

What do you love most about being an author?

It’s amazing to be able to go to Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com or other online retailers and find my books there. Have to admit that is a special feeling.

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?

All my books are published by independent publishers. After the manuscripts were accepted, the process—while not exactly short—was fairly painless. I’ve been blessed to work with wonderful people at both publishing houses. That’s why I keep going back with each new book.

Where can we find you on the web?

My friends say I am all over the Internet. Having worked in online book promotion and using social media for my current job means they probably aren’t too far off. I am out there a lot. The best places to find me are:

Website: http://ccmalandrinos.com

Blog: https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cheryl-C-Malandrinos-170542359697682

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ccmalandrinos

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ccmalandrinos

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4341623.Cheryl_C_Malandrinos

 

About the Book:

Title: AMOS FACES HIS BULLY
Author: Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 20
Genre: Christian children’s picture book

 

BOOK BLURB:

Amos is targeted by the town bully because he is so small. When word reaches Amos of his friend David’s battle with Goliath, he thinks back to what David told him about putting his faith in God’s protection. Perhaps the same God can help Amos face his bully too.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Guardian Angel | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |Indiebound.org

 

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Esmae Browder is an ex-catholic school girl who loves romance and vodka tonics. When not reading a spicy novel, she enjoys creating them by combining elements of well-known tales and updating them for our modern world. She is the author of the Naughty Shakespeare series, as well as, the paranormal romance Bite Thy Neighbor—a sexy Dracula meets Wisteria Lane style novel.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

About the Book:

Some neighbors suck…literally.

Quirky Maisy Harker spends her time daydreaming about her sexy husband, Jensen Helsing. Though their marriage is one of convenience, Maisy wishes the sparks of heat she feels around him were reciprocated. Sexually starved, she also lusts after her mysterious neighbor, Adam. True, his incisors do look a bit sharp, and he never seems to drink or eat anything—but hey, maybe that’s how he keeps that yummy, drool-worthy physique!

Yet Maisy knows something’s not quite right, and it isn’t long before she learns Adam is a centuries-old vampire embroiled in a gypsy curse placed on the women of her family. All her female ancestors have been drawn to the vampire and bound by his desires, experiencing a terrible side effect of the curse and resulting in death.

It’s up to Maisy to find a way to break the curse once and for all before she, too, falls under his spell.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Would you call yourself a born writer?

Absolutely!! However, I would say that I’m a born writer, but not a born storyteller. I love writing, always have! Something about putting words on paper and shaping them into an amazing tale that could potentially influence a reader’s feelings has always been very attractive to me. However, I am not an oral storyteller. I get tongue-tied and full of self-doubt if I have to verbally tell a story about myself or about a plot I’m working on.

What was your inspiration for Bite Thy Neighbor?

Have you ever lived someplace where the neighbors started out as great people, the kind you want to hang out with on Friday nights, but then they turn out to be psychotic, drug users who yell at each other in the street so that the cops have to be called? Yeah, that happened to me. Several times. Neighbors have certainly been the inspiration for this quirky little vampire tale about neighborhood wives gone bad. No, I’ve never had experience with actual vampires, but on more than one occasion, I have wished for one to swoop in and carry off one or two neighbors that no one would miss. Seriously though—this novel is dedicated to the neighbors in my life who keep things interesting.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I love exploring the idea of perception in my writing, the idea that what we believe to be true isn’t always. I think most of the novels I write explore this theme at some point in the story line. Even an erotic, paranormal romance like Bite Thy Neighbor plays with the idea that not every story you’ve been told about the bad guy is accurate.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

About six months to write and then another six months once my editor at The Wild Rose Press got her hands on it.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

A typical writing day is getting up by 7:00am, forcing down coffee in order to be human, and then checking all my social media accounts. Once that’s done, I spend about two hours working on whatever project is on the books. I take a break and do all my social media checks again. Then I dive back in and start editing, writing, or doing whatever needs to be done. I don’t work on the weekends, preferring to spend time with my husband.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

I think the most challenging thing about writing Bite Thy Neighbor was keeping the backstory timeline correct while juggling the present story timeline. This book required some research into Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, and I wanted to make sure that his frightening vampire came across as powerful, but sympathetic. Not just your typical bad guy, but someone more complex.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love being able to get the stories in my head out into the world. It’s cheaper than therapy and way more fulfilling!

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?

I elected to publish with The Wild Rose Press. They have a solid reputation for putting out excellent work and are easy to work with. I adored my editor, Trish Owens, and loved all the input I had on my book cover. TWRP is the kind of place where you feel supported and are given lots of marketing information. I have published with a traditional publisher, but did not find it to be a great experience. I’ve also self published and enjoy doing that. I really liked to keep a foot in lots of different publishing worlds in order to grow as a hybrid author.

Where can we find you on the web?

Please come visit me at www.esmaebrowder.com or follow me on Twitter @esmaebrowder.

 

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rani-st-pucchiThirty years ago, Rani St. Pucchi took the bridal world by storm, despite having no formal training in fashion. She is an award winning couture fashion designer and founder of the world-renowned bridal house St. Pucchi. A passionate and dynamic entrepreneur who launched her global empire in the United States in 1985, Rani’s vision was to create an avant-garde bridal and evening couture line with modern styling and classic details. That vision has been realized today.

Renowned for infusing her creations with touches of magnificently colored jewels, exquisite hand embroidery, delicate beading and sparkling crystals on the finest silks and laces, these inspired designs with innovative draping evoke the timeless elegance every woman desires. As one of the foremost designers to introduce exotic silk fabrics and hand embroidery, Rani is applauded for being a pioneer in bringing color to the United States bridal scene, having learned that white does not flatter everyone.

Rani has been recognized and nominated on multiple occasions for her design talent and won numerous awards as a Style Innovator. In addition, she has been honored with the Best Bridal Designer Award at the prestigious Chicago Apparel Center’s DEBI Awards (Distinctive Excellence in Bridal Industry).

Rani is famous for designing the wedding dress worn by “Phoebe” as she captured the hearts of millions when she said “I Do” in a unique St. Pucchi Lilac corset bodice A-line gown on the finale of the hit television show Friends.

Her range of avant-garde designs are worn by the world’s most discerning brides, including celebrities and style icons such as New York Giants’ player Aaron Ross’ wife, Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards; Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo’s wife Candice Crawford; Actress Tara Reid; Jason Priestley’s wife Naomi Lowde; actress Candice Cameron and Grammy Award winning country music singer Alison Krauss, who donned a specially designed Chantilly lace and silk gown at the Country Music Awards.

Rani has enjoyed much media attention. Her signature designs have been recognized in high profile media such as Entertainment Tonight, Harper’s Bazaar, WWD, Town and Country, Bride’s, Cosmopolitan Brides, Inside Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings and The Knot.

Rani’s real passion other than the world of design is to help women who have suffered abuse and those who are struggling to find themselves. On her quest to empower women to be their best selves, she is passionate about helping them find their voice through building their self-confidence. She believes that confidence must start with a woman’s love and acceptance of her body.

Renowned for her savvy knowledge of a woman’s form and fit, Rani is eager to share her knowledge of more than three decades with all women so they can make better styling choices. In addition to the book you are reading now, Rani is the author of four upcoming books: The SoulMate Checklist: Key Questions To help You Choose Your Perfect Partner; Seven Types of Men To Avoid: Recognizing Relationship Red Flags; Designing with Heart: A to Z Guide to Bridal Designing; and Unveiling: A Celebrity Fashion Designer’s Story, a Memoir of her Life Journey.

Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, Rani now happily lives in Los Angeles, California.

Her latest book is Your Body, Your Style: Simple Tips on Dressing to Flatter.

WEB & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | YOUTUBE

About the Book:

Rani St. Pucchi, a trend-setting designer whose designs have been recognized in Entertainment Tonight, Harper’s Bazaar, WWD, Town and Country, Bride’s, Cosmopolitan Bride, Martha Stewart Weddings and The Knot, can help define the style that flatters you most — no matter what age or stage of life you are in or what your body type is.

your-body-your-style-amazonWomen from all over the world have clamored to have a private consultation with Rani so they may benefit from her expertise and regain their self-confidence and shine.

In Your Body, Your Style, Rani shares with you her knowledge of the female form and guides you to find simple solutions to your most pressing body concerns. The focus is on you — and how you can make yourself more confident and appealing in almost every situation — simply by making a few changes and different choices in planning your wardrobe.

Once you embrace your unique attributes and dissolve your bad relationship with your body, you’ll be amazed to find how irresistible you are to others!

This simple and friendly guide reveals:

* What clothes and silhouettes are best for your specific body type

* Simple techniques to determine which colors flatter you most

* Solutions to common lingerie issues and the importance of fit

* The one dress that is a chameleon, and how to transform it into different looks

* How to travel stress free by planning your wardrobe well

* 101 styling secrets, professional tricks and fashion tips

RANI ST. PUCCHI  is an award-winning fashion designer, an author and relationship expert. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

PURCHASING LINKS:

AMAZON   *   B&N

Hi Rani.  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi, I’m Rani St. Pucchi, award-winning designer and founder of the world-renowned Bridal house St. Pucchi which was established in 1985.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

I write on subjects that are based on my personal experiences. It’s a methodical process and similar to designing a wedding gown. I first plan the outline, chapters, content and in what order to present them so they flow perfectly. I write from my design studio that opens up to a beautiful landscape.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

Your Body, Your Style teaches you simple tricks on how to dress your body in a way that will enhance your best assets and camouflage areas you feel uncomfortable about or find lacking in any way, so that you may elevate your self-confidence and become clear on how you wish to be seen in the world.

How did you get the idea for the book?

It was a thought I had for a very long time, one that came from working with more than 15,000 women in my 30 plus years as a designer, and seeing the challenges they faced with accepting their bodies and always wanting to change it.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have three more books that I am writing which will all be published next year. I am also an Inspirational Speaker, a Coach and a Jack Canfield Certified Trainer. And of course, I continue to design my St. Pucchi collections, and in the process, I have the privilege to dress amazing women!

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

As any writer and author will tell you, the first book can be the most challenging one. Editing, and re-writing several times even, to make sure that your readers will understand is key. Most information exists in our heads and, as in fashion, much of the lingo is so second nature to us and those in the know in our field that we tend to forget that the general audience, for the most part, is clueless about what we may be referring to. So I suggest that when you write you think carefully about your reader and try to understand from their perspective to make sure that everything is clear and easy to follow. Your subject must be either entertaining to keep your reader engaged (in the case of fiction) or solve a problem your reader has (in the case of non-fiction).

 

 

 

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michael-phillip-cashMichael Phillip Cash is an award-winning and best-selling novelist of horror, paranormal, and science fiction novels.  He’s written ten books including the best-selling “Brood X”, “Stillwell”, “The Flip”, “The After House”, “The Hanging Tree”, “Witches Protection Program”, “Pokergeist”, “Monsterland”, “The History Major”, and “The Battle for Darracia” series. Michael’s books are on the Amazon best-seller list and have also won numerous awards. Additionally, he is a screenwriter with 14 specs under his belt. Michael resides on the North Shore of Long Island.

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About the Book:

The Battle for Darracia Books I, II, and III, are now combined into one epic novel! On the planet Darracia, an ever-widening social gap between its inhabitants is causing turmoil that is fracturing a once peaceful world. the-battle-of-darraciaStruggling with his identity, nineteen year old Prince V’sair must harness the power of the elusive Fireblade, the secret to a warrior’s heart, in order to overcome his uncle Staf Nuen’s lust for supremacy. Will the energy of the Elements guide the young prince to his true destiny or will Staf Nuen conquer Darracia?

For More Information

  • The Battle for Darracia: Books I – II – III is available at Amazon
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.

Would you call yourself a born writer? 

Yes absolutely!

What was your inspiration for The Battle for Darracia?

I wanted to write my own Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Avatar.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Acceptance, tolerance, and hope.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

It was three books in one, so approximately 6 months.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Very disciplined. I’m up at 6am, and my research and development is from 8am to 4pm. Google is my best friend. I cook dinner for my family. Eat, play time, etc until 8pm. Tuck the kids and wife in. I write from 830pm to midnight every day.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Honestly, nothing. I had a ball creating my own universe.

What do you love most about being an author?

The freedom to explore and create your own worlds. Nothing is off limits.

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?

I self-publish all my own works, however I just got an agent so he is shopping two of my best-selling novels to major publishing houses.  No more self-publishing for me, as of now.

Where can we find you on the web?

www.michaelphillipcash.com. @michaelpcash

 

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JOhn Sibley WilliamsJohn Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Controlled Hallucinations (2013) and Disinheritance (2016). A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry, John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Midwest Quarterly, december, Third Coast, Baltimore Review, Nimrod International Journal, Hotel Amerika, Rio Grande Review, Inkwell, Cider Press Review, Bryant Literary Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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About the Book:

A lyrical, philosophical, and tender exploration of the various voices of grief, including those of the broken, the healing, the son-become-father, and the dead, Disinheritance acknowledges loss while celebrating the uncertainty of Disinheritancea world in constant revision. From the concrete consequences of each human gesture to soulful interrogations into “this amalgam of real / and fabled light,” these poems inhabit an unsteady betweenness, where ghosts can be more real than the flesh and blood of one’s own hands.

For More Information

  • Disinheritance is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

 

Would you call yourself a born writer?

I’m lucky to have been passionate about books since childhood. Perhaps it’s in part due to my mother reading novel after novel over her pregnant belly every day. Perhaps it’s in part due to my own restlessness, my need to make things, and my love of words. But I began writing short stories in middle school, and I continued in that genre until my early twenties. A handful of those stories found publication in literary magazines, which was eye-opening and oddly humbling.

I was 21 when I wrote my first poem. Before that, I had never enjoyed reading poetry and had certainly never considered writing one. It was summer in New York and I was sitting by a lake with my feet dragging through the current caused by small boats when suddenly, without my knowing what I was doing, I began writing something that obviously wasn’t a story. What was it? Impressions. Colors. Emotions. Strange images. I didn’t have any paper, so I used a marker to write a series of phrases on my arm. Then they poured onto my leg. Then I realized I needed paper. I ran back to the car, took out a little notebook, and spent hours emptying myself of visions and fears and joys I don’t think I even knew I had. That was 17 years ago. Since that surreal and confusing moment by that little city lake, I’ve written poetry almost every day.

What was your inspiration for Disinheritance?

Disinheritance was inspired by a few pivotal moments that occurred within a few months of each other, namely the illness and passing of my mother, a terrible miscarriage, and my wife and I’s struggles to move forward and redefine the landscape of “family”. To explore grief more fully in this collection, I adopted various unique voices, like those of our miscarried child, the hypothetical boy he might have grown up to be, my mother in her last moments, and my wife as she struggled to cope.

So Disinheritance shows a far more personal side than most of my poetry, though I hope the poems speak to larger, universal human concerns about how we approach mortality and what roles we play in each other’s’ lives.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Though each poem and story possesses its own unique demands, my work is always heavily rooted in human attachments and disconnects: to others, to self-perception, to nature, to language, to the past and future, to grief and self-reclamation. All the more as I age and recognize losses and gains as part of a reciprocal, organic system, my creative mission is to examine human experiences and how we deconstruct and cope with them in order to foster honest conversation about what it means to interact with the world.

The topics through which I explore these themes are greatly varied and derive from a broad range of passions: family, tradition, art, culture, history, politics, landscapes, and seasons. The structures I employ are similarly varied, from narrative to experimental to ekphrastic, according to which structure best conveys the work’s specific goals. However, regardless of topic, I always try to express a sharable, universal experience by balancing concept with emotion and by focusing on layered metaphors and the innate musicality of language. My writing dually emphasizes form and sound, as rhythm carries a resonance beyond literal and figurative meanings.

How long did it take you to complete the collection?

The poems in Disinheritance were written over a nine to twelve month period. Then it took me about a month to weed out the weaker poems, find a fluid order for the stronger ones, and edit each piece to fit the overall theme of the collection.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Although I don’t have a specific place or set times to write, I do write daily and am quite disciplined as it comes to carving out enough time. Of course, some sessions bear less fruit than others, and some poems take a few hours while others take months. But every time I sit down to write, however fruitful that session ends up, is a wonderful and necessary experience.

Ideas, phrases, and images emerge at the oddest times, so I’ve taken to carrying a pocket notebook everywhere I go. During my daily work commute. In the hospital visiting an ailing friend. While walking my dog. Even in the middle of a live concert or film. Though I tend to write best when outside, inspiration can come from anything. At its core, I think creativity is all about curiosity and how one chooses to communicate with the world. As adults, we’re programmed to think linearly, reactively, and, dare I say it, boringly. But if we retain a bit of that childhood innocence, that unabated curiosity, then we can find metaphors in everything. Why look at the night sky and think “sky, moon, stars”? Why can’t the sky be a river? Why can’t the stars be that part of our hearts we leave open to love?

My process is a bit different with every poem. Some pour forth as if on their own, leaving me the easier task of revising for sound and clarity. Other poems take serious effort, time, and struggle. But generally my approach is to have one or two notebooks filled with phrases and images splayed out before me. Whenever I feel stuck, I reread my old notes and see if any fit the poem I’m working on. Interestingly, that approach tends to yield results that even surprise me.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Most of my work is not overly narrative or overly personal, so it was an exciting challenge to write from a part of my heart still raw and healing. While writing these poems, I often struggled with how much real life information I should include vs. how much I should leave unsaid, how many details vs. how much ambiguity. As every reader has her own experiences to contend with and approaches the world from her own unique vantage point, there’s always that nagging challenge of finding the right balance between being true to my own experiences and being true to the experiences of total strangers. How can a poem be both personal and universal? I suppose that is always a significant (and fun) challenge, though all the more so with this collection.

What do you love most about being an author?

Definitely reader reaction. We have all read poems or novels that truly moved us, that made us reconsider ourselves, that illuminated the beauty and power of language. It has been indescribably rewarding to know my work has touched others in that way. When a total stranger who perhaps stumbled across your book or had it recommended to her contacts you out of the blue to say how much it inspired her, that is a potent feeling. When you’re giving a reading and you can see that glow in the audience’s eyes, that is unforgettable. Even after around 50 or so readings across the country, I am touched every single time someone goes out of their way to express their thoughts on my work. That’s what it’s all about. Trying to use language that lifts up off the page and resonates with people.

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?

Unfortunately, there are only a handful of big poetry publishers, so mid-size and small presses are really the best fit for poets who are not seeking self-publishing. My previous chapbooks and my debut full length collection were all published by small presses staffed by passionate editors. I feel very lucky to have worked with them. For this new collection, Disinheritance, I sought a slightly more prominent press, and I was honored to be accepted by Apprentice House, a great press run by Loyola University students.

I signed the contract back in November 2015, and both editing and design began a few months later. I was quite impressed by their openness to my input, which isn’t overly common with traditional publishing. They really listened to my thoughts on interior formatting and cover design, and they accepted my decisions on their editing suggestions. Though the book could have been published earlier this year, the press and I decided on a pub date of September 2016 to allow for an extensive Advanced Reader Copy phase. Apprentice House was kind enough to send out many ARCs to literary magazines for pre-review purposes. Working with them has been a wonderful experience.

Where can we find you on the web?

https://johnsibleywilliams.wordpress.com/

 

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Piers PlattPiers Platt is the New York Times bestselling author of “Combat and Other Shenanigans,” a memoir of his year-long deployment to Iraq as a tank and scout platoon leader. Piers grew up in Boston, but spent most of his childhood in various boarding schools, including getting trained as a classical singer at a choir school for boys. He joined the Army in 2002, and spent four years on active duty.

When he’s not writing or spending time with his lovely wife and daughter, Piers works as a strategy consultant in New York city.

His latest book is the sci fi/thriller, Rath’s Deception.

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About the Book:

Rath's DeceptionOn the cut-throat streets of Tarkis, orphaned teens like Rath end up jailed … or dead. So when the shadowy Janus Group offers Rath a chance to earn riches beyond his wildest dreams, he seizes it. But the Janus Group is as ruthless as the elite assassins it controls. Rath will have to survive their grueling, off-world training, and fulfill all fifty kills in his contract before a single cent comes his way. And ending so many lives comes with a price Rath can’t anticipate. It’ll certainly cost him what’s left of his innocence. It may well cost him his life.

For More Information

  • Rath’s Deception is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Rath's Deception teaser 1

Would you call yourself a born writer?

Yes and no. I would say I’ve always loved to read and write. But saying I was “born” to be a writer doesn’t give enough credit to my parents, who taught me to love reading, and my teachers, who first introduced me to creative writing and then pushed me to be better at it.

What was your inspiration for Rath’s Deception?

It’s based on a short story called Last Pursuit [available for free wherever ebooks are sold, here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Last-Pursuit-Piers-Platt-ebook/dp/B00JFXTW84/] that I wrote some time ago – Last Pursuit is the same concept / setting, it just focuses on a single mission for one assassin. Readers really enjoyed the story, but many said they wished it was longer…so I expanded it into a full book…and then a trilogy!

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I think each of my books has a different theme. But now you’ve got me thinking – are their common themes across my work?? Hmmm. I’ll have to think about that! In Rath’s Deception, the main themes are the challenge of living up to expectations, living with yourself after making bad decisions, and ultimately triumphing over adversity. But it’s mainly a thriller – less about themes and more about a gripping, action-packed ride.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

I wrote Book 1 in about 8 months. Books 2 and 3 I finished in about 4 months.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Yes, I am. I believe that discipline is one of the things that separate successful people from dreamers. I’m a dreamer, too! But I have concrete goals and a detailed plan to reach those dreams. I have a day job, too – so writing for me means getting up early to knock out some marketing tasks at home, then I write during the two hours each day I spend on the train getting to/from work. Honestly, it makes the time pass a lot faster than watching a show, so I don’t mind at all.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Balance! Aside from Rath, the protagonist, I have three secondary characters who each get their own chapters. I wanted to flesh them out (they play key roles in the later books), but not take too much away from Rath’s arc.

What do you love most about being an author?

Hearing from my readers! I love talking with fans who’ve found my books and enjoyed them. That’s what makes it worthwhile, for me.

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?

I published it myself. I’m absolutely happy with that decision – it gives me much more flexibility and control over the entire process.

Where can we find you on the web?

My website: www.piersplatt.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Piers-Platts-Books-260070717516391/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/piersplatt

Thanks again for having me!

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DSC_0962Joan Schweighardt is the author of several novels. In addition to her own projects, she writes, ghostwrites and edits for private and corporate clients.

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Twitter: @joanschwei

About the Book:

Two threads are woven together in The Last Wife of Attila the Hun. In one, Gudrun, a Burgundian noblewoman, dares to enter the City of Attila to give its ruler what she hopes is a cursed sword; the second reveals the unimaginable events that have driven her to this mission. Based in part on the true history of the times and in part on the same Nordic legends that inspired Wagner’s Ring Cycle and other great works of art, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun offers readers a thrilling story of love, betrayal, passion and revenge, all set against an ancient backdrop itself gushing with intrigue. Lovers of history and fantasy alike will find realism and legend at work in this tale.

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Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: The book is about a Burgundian noblewoman in 450 a.d. who goes to the City of Attila to give Attila what she believes to be a cursed sword. There are two threads throughout the book, one describing what happens to her in the City of Attila and one illuminating the reasons she went there in the first place.

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

A: My publisher is calling The Last Wife of Attila the Hun a “literary historical novel,” because every book that gets published has to have some genre classification and literary historical comes the closest. However, the book doesn’t fit neatly into that category. I researched two bodies of materials to write The Last Wife of Attila the Hun. I thoroughly researched Attila, not only regarding his life in his “city” but his relationship with the emperors of the eastern and western Roman empires during the very intriguing historical period in which the story is set. But I also researched Nordic legends that concerned the Burgundian tribes, some of whom seem to have had unfortunate dealings with Attila. I like to say the book is a “historical novel with a strong legendary component,” or “a novel based on legend within a solid historical setting.” I would say any book in this same unnamed genre should be well researched and should balance its influences so that the strands flow together and the world the writer creates feels believable.

JS_TLWATH_cover_thumb-1Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: Since I was drawing on legend and history, the main plot points were there for the taking. But it was still no piece of cake. I had to fill in lots of gaps. Also, when I wrote the first draft it was in chronological order, which meant that the legendary stuff was for the most part in the first half of the book and the historical stuff was in the second. That didn’t work at all. I had to find a way to weave the legendary and historical stuff together, and that took several more drafts.

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

A: I got my protagonist from the legendary material, not the historical. Very little is known about the “personality” of the last wife of Attila. We only know that at some point near the end of his life Attila married a Germanic woman. I identified this Germanic woman as the Gudrun from the legends. The legends provided elements for the motivation and the plot I would develop to get her from A to B to C, but they still left me short when it came to her personality, who she was as a woman. That just kind of developed over time as I worked on each draft. The story is written in first person, which helps a lot with character development.

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: The history books I researched had all kinds of interesting information about Attila. The Huns and Germanic people didn’t write back then, so most of the stories about Attila came from Roman historians. But, as ruler of half the known world and a man who felt his calling was to take over the other half, Attila was a hot topic among Roman historians, and I got some really juicy tidbits about his behavior, his relationships with his sons, his relationships with his various wives, his beliefs, his superstitions and of course his battles. A lot of this information found its way into the book. Even if a reader doesn’t care for the legendary stuff, they will walk away knowing a heck of a lot about the true historic Attila.

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

A: Unlike other novels, where I’ve had to really focus on plot, here I had to focus on what I should leave out of the plot so that the story would not become “congested.”

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: Again, a lot of it was there for me. There are descriptions of the great City of Attila in history books, so I was able to draw on that. The other main setting in the book is a rather dilapidated castle in a rural area of Europe in 450 a.d. I did research to figure out what life would be like in such a place, how people would bathe, how they would eat, what the inside of their dwellings would look like, etc.

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: I knew what themes were of interest to me when I started, but the great thing about fiction is that when you get done you see that there are other themes that worked their way in, things you didn’t really intend. The writer Susan Sontag once said she wrote to find out what she was thinking. I think this is what she was talking about.

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

A: If I never edited my work it would all be garbage. I can’t speak for other people, but for me craft is essential. Also, I have a few friends who are not only wonderful writers but also very honest in their critiques. I ask them to read early drafts of my work. When you get caught up in the day to day of writing a novel, you can take a wrong turn or get sidetracked by a really boring subplot. My three favorite fellow writers are all really different in their approach to writing. So once they each give me feedback, I feel I have the best possible picture of the weaknesses in my work and I can go back to the drawing board assured that the next draft will be better.

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

A: I am always surprised by the number of writers who don’t want to go back and polish. Maybe some are geniuses and they don’t have to. But most writers will find that it is impossible to write a really good book without going back over it a number of times. During the first draft you may want to concern yourself mostly with plot. The next draft you may want to work more on character development. The next one you may want to just go through and make sure your characters motivations are clear and setting descriptions are solid. Sometimes in my work I make assumptions about motivation; I think because I know why a character is doing something other people will know too. This is one of those areas where the help of other writers/readers has been invaluable to me. So, the three things I believe most writers need to be successful are: draft one, draft two, draft three (and drafts four and five can’t

hurt either).

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

A: Most people would agree that “homework” connotes a task that is given to you by someone other than yourself for the purpose of ascertaining that you’ve learned certain lessons. Writing a book, on the other hand, is a task you’ve generated for yourself, for the purpose of telling a story that is important to you for one reason or another.

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

A: Again, what I’ve found most helpful is insights from fellow writers. These days there are all kind of websites that provide help to writers too. Savvy Authors is one of my favorites, but there are plenty of others. There’s no shortage of ideas out there about how to do anything, whether it’s writing a book or changing out a toilet.

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

A: A lot of young writers who start out writing short stories with the hope that they will write longer works in the future get bogged down by the idea of taking on a huge project. I would like to say to them, Why not try your hand at writing a novel based on history or legend? Maybe you have a time period that interests you, and you can develop it and then tell a story on top of it, so to speak. Or maybe there is a historical character that you’d like to develop a setting around. Or maybe there is a myth or legend that you’d like to bring into modern times. Jane Smiley took the story of King Lear, which is of course best known as a Shakespearian play, and made it her own in her novel A Thousand Acres. What’s really interesting to me is that Shakespeare borrowed his King Lear from a Celtic legend, and the legend likely had some foundation in history.

The other thing I’d like to say is, These are hard times to be a writer. It’s very hard to get published, and even if you do get published, it’s very hard to spread the word about your book, unless you are published by one of a handful of big publishers with money to throw at your work or you have zillions of followers on social media. But there are many other reasons to write besides the remote possibility of making a lot of money. Every book is a journey; it is an opportunity to explore another world, as well as your own mind. Every book will change you in some way.

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