Thursday, May 25, 2017

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY by Ralph Nader

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Brenda Faucon

1      Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

Hello! Thanks for having me. I’m Brenda. What most defines me is that I’m a perpetual expat, and my imagination is always on fire. I grew up in Belgium but, at this point, I’ve spent more years abroad. Now, I live in France with my husband (an American), our two cats and three dogs. I’m head-over-heels for my little family.

What got me writing is one of my favorite early childhood memories of going to the library with my father. The small chapel next to the church had been converted, it was no more than a room. When the door opened and I could release my dad’s hand, running right into the thick of books, knowing each one was a different world to slide into like Alice down the rabbit hole. We were avid readers, my father and I. I remember being around 10 years old when we took turns with Colditz, a set of books by Patrick Reid about his time spent in captivity in WWII. To this day, it’s a favorite memoir and I’ve carried the books across the world and back. My parents never put a restriction on the material I read and I think it’s memories of complete immersion that are the garden of my imagination. Many years later, the immersion evolved from reading, to writing.



How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

Stephen King says to be an author you should read a minimum of two hours a day and write 2000 words per day. It’s a good goal to aim for. The fortunate thing is that I work from home. If I get frustrated building a website, I have the option to step away from it for a little while to work out a scene. The beauty of my jobs is to always have that two-way refresh button. Even on the days I don’t get to write, I edit, or research, or think through scenes and conversations. But there days that I write 6000 words easily. 

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?

I write a first draft in long-hand, in a good-quality, lined notebook, with a perfectly balanced fountain pen. I’m very particular about that. It is the perfect medium for me. I love when the clock fades into the walls and time slows down enough for me to examine the movie reel playing in my head; and to then describe my vision.

My preferred time to write is at bedtime, or super early in the morning. I like to get up at three or four am and, with a pot of coffee by the fire, let my imagination be the boss until it’s time to walk the dogs. In spring and summer, I enjoy writing outdoors with my back against a tree. Or you might find me at a pub terrace with my notebooks. When the scenes are done it’s on to the PC. Editing, I absolutely prefer to do in the dark. I need that tunnel vision to help me stay focused.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing? 

We live in a very noisy world where authors truly have to move a mountain to be heard. Everything that is involved with publishing a book, from having a well-edited product, to web pages, to social media and other advertising, is either costly or time consuming. None of these things are favorites, but the choices are either to pay someone, or learn to do them yourself. Fortunately, I love learning and I’ve discovered an affinity for creating websites which was unexpected. I do it for other people now, because I love the creative process just as much as writing. They are oddly similar. The best part about writing is the research, and of course, to write, to construct and solve the puzzle of a story. There is nothing like it.

How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?

The very first moment I heard live Blues, “Hoochie Coochie Man” was being performed. The Blues was a very personal discovery, something that branded itself into my soul. One of my favorite adopted hometowns is Memphis, Tennessee. I spent 10 years there. It was a real opportunity to get to know the Blues. I read, listened, absorbed, attended a lot of gigs, and met interesting people.

I’ve also loved romantic small village type stories for as long as I can remember, Maeve Binchy, Rosamunde Pilcher, Catherine Cookson… at the end of each of those books, I wanted more. I wanted to grab a pen and paper and keep writing. So, I vowed to one day write a story of my own.

Somehow, somewhere these two inspirational occasions merged. It is something I had to write; a great story with characters you end up caring about. Hopefully it inspires the reader to listen to the Blues too. This music is a piece of our history that should be carried forever into the future. I’m not a musician and I didn’t know what I could do to make my small contribution, except to use my fountain pen.

In retrospect, I began this book long before I knew what an outline was, and long before I spoke English. My learning curve spanned many, many years. Actually it’s ongoing and may it never stop.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

Oy! It still feels like wading into a murky lake on a moonless night. Aside from social media, I try to figure out what has the biggest bang for my buck. For instance, I find business cards are cheap, and easy to reach English-speaking markets with people who travel, and have them in places visited by tourists. When Rhythms and Blues, Vol. 2 is ready in the fall, there will be a big giveaway contest via Goodreads, for Vol.1. Meanwhile I’m considering a release of the trilogy with a different set of covers. Assuming music lovers read books, one set is music oriented. The additional set depict aspects of Blackwell-on-Sea, the fictional village where the story takes place so it has appeal for romance and small village readers.  Also, when a reader visits my website, I want them to have a nice experience. In addition to free chapters, which are in book format rather than a single page, there is imagery of the village and I hope to provide a hand drawn map of Blackwell at some point.

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What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I am going through a final-readthrough on Rhythms and Blues, Vol. 2, and writing Vol. 3 … Rhythms and Blues must be completed.



Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I’ve a few people in 18th-century France bouncing up and down in my brain. They have a huge need to be adventurous and outrageous. The protagonist is a fierce, but poor, daughter of an aristocrat, who resorts to unusual practices to save her father’s estate from ruin.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

I certainly understand because I’ve been there myself. Even when you feel that you’ve produced something good, self-doubt tends to creep in. Go through self-examination to determine which battles to pick and with that in mind, how to best spend your writing/marketing/learning budget. A well-edited story is top priority and brings credibility. Examining the most beloved books throughout the ages, it is clear their authors were fearless. As readers, we sometimes must challenge ourselves to be fearless to get through a scene; as an author, even more so. Write what evokes passion in you, because that passion will reach the reader. Then go for it. Never give up. If you get it wrong, embrace learning from those mistakes and chalk it up to growth.

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A Question for Kathryn:

How does a publisher or agent decide on engaging a project/author? Is it content, or social media reach? Hypothetically, there are two authors with great products, similar subject. There is only budget for one. Do you choose the best project with low social media reach; or do you approach the author with the lesser story who has huge social media reach? How often do you choose a project just on belief with social media not at all a factor?

Great question, Brenda. The good news about Idea Creations Press is that the author doesn't have to have a large social media reach to publish with us. Because we are a hi-brid  publisher; we're not really traditional and we're not really self-publish, we can take on any author with a great manuscript (we do have some guidelines on the genres we publish) who has a desire to reach out to others, whether or not this reach is just family or expands to the world. It is really up to the author what they do with their creation. We just help facilitate their dream, and give them a good head start. The author pays to have their book published with us, but after the publishing, it is entirely up to them what they choose to do with their book. Because Idea Creations Press doesn't take a percentage of any of the author's sales, it is up to the author to bring their dream to fruition in whatever way they see as success.


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website: brendafaucon.com

twitter: @BrendaFaucon


Friday, May 19, 2017

FRIDAY FLICKS: You are Not so Smart



Thought this was perfect for today.

What is it, after 5?

I usually get my Friday Flick out in the morning.

Enjoy!




You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, an d 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself by [McRaney, David]
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Blair McDowell

     Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I’ve been a “writer” since somebody first put a pencil in my hand. I’ve always made up stories. However my love of writing fiction didn’t have free compass until I retired from University teaching, during which time I wrote six professional books and many articles.

Once retired, I returned to my first love, fiction. My sixth Romantic Suspense, Fatal Charm, will be released some time during the summer.


How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

    With a friend, I run a B&B on Canada’s Sunshine Coast. That means mornings are a pretty busy time for us. When we’re through with our chores I fortify myself with a double espresso and settle down to write. I aim for 4 hours a day of just writing. No Facebook, no mail, just writing. Some of that time may be in on-line research, but not unless it’s directly related to what I’m writing.

     How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?

I work on a laptop. At home, on the west coast, I have a large comfy chair and a lapboard in my bedroom. When the tourist season is over, I travel, Italy, France, Greece, the settings of my books. This year it will be to Scotland. My laptop is always with me. But I also carry a small moleskin notebook. I make note on people, on accents, on appearance, on anything that catches my fancy, and particularly on place. I put these notes into a file on my laptop daily.

But my favorite writing space is on the veranda of the little Caribbean house where we spend our winters. I can raise my eyes and watch the little yellow birds at their feeder and gaze at the sea in the distance as I try to figure out how I’m going to get my heroine out of her latest peril.

 What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

My least favorite part is certainly marketing. I want to be working on my next book instead. My solution to that is to have someone help me with marketing.

My favorite part? Creating people and helping them solve their seemingly unsolvable problems. I love plotting.
  
     How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?



Where Lemons Bloom took about eight months to write, another four to make changes suggested by my editor. Fatal Charm, due to be released this summer, about the same. Working with a good professional editor like Kinan Werdski at Wild Rose Press takes time, but it always produces a better book. I’m that rare writer who actually enjoys the editing process.

As to where my ideas come from? Place, always they come from setting. I stand in the Parthenon, the Louvre, on a cliffside on Santorini, and the ideas come pouring in. My characters seem to be born of my settings.

     What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I don’t. I leave that to my wonderful Marketing Assistant, who knows what she’s doing.

It seems to me the best responses we had on the last book were from advertising on professional sites. Reviews help also, and they’re necessary BEFORE the book is out, so I suggest to other authors that you line up reviewers who have been good to you in the past, and get prepublication reviews.

     What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

The latest book out is Where Lemons Bloom, the story of two people who unexpectedly come together after life-changing experiences. They find their second chance in a small inn on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Except, this being a story of suspense, there are some pretty dangerous people who find their very existence a threat.

The next out (soon I hope) will be Fatal Charm. A failed jewelry heist at the Louvre five years ago results in extreme danger for a young Berkeley jewelry designer and her history professor boyfriend, Colin. To right a wrong, they travel to Paris and Brittany, with danger dogging their footsteps.

And I am presently working on a book as yet untitled, set in the Scottish Highlands.

I usually have one book just out, one in the editing stage and one just started. I’m not happy if I’m not writing.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

That would be my Scottish book, as yet untitled. A young woman visiting Scotland for the first time discovers the diary of a woman who died 200 years ago. From that point the story moves back and forth in time between the two interwoven tales, one in the present, one in the past. There are, of course, an unsolved murder and other mysteries to unravel.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Don’t be discouraged. Writing is as much about perseverance as about talent. Take courses in writing. They’re offered evenings through many universities. And they do help. Then write. And submit your writing to publishers. Often you’ll hear nothing back. That has happened to all of us. Don’t stop submitting. Contests too are a way to get critiques of your writing. And join your local writers’ group. Also join RWA. RWA offers courses and their magazine is full of writing helps.

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Question for Kathryn:

I feel we are losing “storytelling”. I understand about POV, but is there never a place anymore for the kind of magical telling of a story? The kind of storytelling that Michener did in Chesapeake and Hawaii? That Rutherford did in Paris and Dumas did in Camille? I feel we are losing something important when we never allow the omnipotent point of view.

I think books have simply evolved through the years, and not necessarily in the best way. I also think readers have become too busy, and many want an 'easy' read, one that will fill their minds with people and places, not something they may have to struggle to get through, though the telling might be beautifully done. 

Like converting from eight tracks to cassettes and then to CDs and finally to audio plays, there is something to be said for going with the flow. Publishing has also changed through the years, and it's up to the writer to keep up. 


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 Learn more about Blair: