A Conversation with NeonSeon, author of “Life of Shouty: Food and Fitness”

About NeonSeon

Creating Shouty Mack as a comic strip for a high school newspaper, NeonSeon developed Life of Shouty as a book series for children in 2010. NeonSeon grew up in Chicago’s Hyde Park community and currently resides in Atlanta. Honors include a Mom’s Choice Award for Life of Shouty: Good Habits.

For more information, visit www.SHOUTY.com.

The Interview

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

My ability to relate to others and see life through multiple perspectives.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

I can be too critical of myself.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” attributed to Robert H. Schuller. I love this quote because it frees me to think about a wide-open future.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

I’m most proud of my ability to learn new things and acquire new skills year after year.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

My home was filled with positive and motivational books, and these themes are found in the Life of Shouty Series. My upbringing was also very creative, and without that, I probably wouldn’t have volunteered to be the cartoonist for the high school newspaper, and thus create the comic strip Shouty Mack.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Certain books gave me so much joy that it was natural to want to elicit that in others through writing. I read Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” in eighth grade and it blew me away.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote short stories for fun when I was younger, and I had several writing internships in college. I was an English major so I was always writing papers. I have always enjoyed writing.

How long have you been writing?

The Life of Shouty Series came out in 2010, but I’ve been writing since I was able.

When did you first know you could be a writer?

I’ve always known I could be a writer.

What inspires you to write and why?

The human condition inspires me, and the journey of growth. Laughter. Play.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

Non-fiction comes easiest but rhyming is fun.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My character, Shouty. I knew I had to write and develop a series for him. He is relatable, lovable and imperfect.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

I like to let the story unfold so I would say it’s more of a stream of consciousness process guided by rhyme. “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron helped to get me out creative blocks, as well.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years?

What has helped me the most over the years is looking at other people’s edits or suggestions of my work. For that moment, I get to see how their brains work and in so doing, it expands the possibilities I see in the act and process of writing.

What made you want to be a writer?

I didn’t necessarily want to be a writer or set out to be one. I just wanted to tell a story and bring a character to life, and writing was the medium I chose.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Getting over your own doubts to realize the project and developing a good arc for the story.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?

I’ve struggled with making healthy choices most of my life and writing Life of Shouty: Food & Fitness taught me you can still contribute something of value in an area you’ve yet to conquer.

About Life of Shouty: Food and Fitness

Life of Shouty Food and FitnessShouty returns with a new challenge: his health. The second book in the Life of Shouty™ series by award-winning author and illustrator NeonSeon shows Shouty’s ups and downs on the path to wellness.

Like many of us, Shouty places a premium on being a productive person, and crossing items off his daily to-do list. While healthy food and fitness don’t make his list of priorities, Shouty is unaware of the impact this has on his declining health. Over time, Shouty becomes painfully aware that he must make lifestyle changes to improve his health, quality of life, and self-esteem.

Touching on themes of overeating, obesity, and inactivity, Shouty’s journey is illustrated in a way that captures his despair, as well as his ultimate triumph.

Debuting on Child Health Day, it is NeonSeon’s hope that this book affirms the importance of making healthy choices in one’s life and helps readers envision healthier versions of themselves. If you’ve ever found yourself on either end of the health spectrum, or are making your way somewhere in the middle, Shouty hits several notes on his path that will surely sound familiar.

Interview with Steve DeWinter: ‘I am a heavy plotter and planner.’

I was born and grew up loving to read. But enough about me; you’re here for my books. If you like super-charged thrillers that merge high-tech gadgetry with ancient mythology and pit the outcast against powerful clandestine organizations, you are among friends.

My goal as a writer is to transport you to fresh and exciting worlds that not only take you on a white-knuckle ride but leave you hungry for more when you finally turn that last page and reluctantly slam shut the back cover of the book.

This is my promise to you the reader.

I will continue to satisfy your never-ending desire for more. So keep reading!

When one story ends, another begins.

To find out more about Steve visit www.stevedw.com

Q: Thank you for this interview, Steve. Can you tell us what your latest book, Inherit The Throne, is all about?

A: Thank you for having me here today. I always love talking about my books. In my latest book, Inherit The Throne, Melissa Stone is a woman displaced. After being listed by the military as killed in the line of duty, her husband and young son move on with their lives. Living under an assumed identity, she would have been happy to spend the rest of her days under an assumed name in a small town. But my villain has other plans. She was the only one who could stop him, so he sends an assassin to close off the biggest loose end in his plan. His attempt to remove her has the opposite affect and instead puts her smack dab in the middle of the action. To find out what happens next, you will have to read my book.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Melissa Stone is a strong and capable woman. She has been referred by readers as a female Jason Bourne. Despite being a kick-butt female, she is still a mother, and that comes out when her son is put directly into harms way. Even though she has inner strength, Melissa still needs outward help. For this, she is surrounded by a cadre of supporting characters that help her find out who is trying to kill her, and more importantly, why. Nick is the man she turns to early on and he proves to be, by far, the best person to call. His easy access to much needed resources helps her evade the police after she tangles with the assassin; resulting in explosive results in the normally sleepy little town.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: My characters are larger-than-life and crafted entirely in my imagination. Thankfully, I write about events that never actually happened, or at least not in the way I write about them. I would hope that nobody in the real world behaves like any of my characters do.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: I am a heavy plotter and planner. I have usually written out what takes place in each chapter before I sit down to write out the detailed text that becomes the finished book you read. I work out the chapters and re-order them and revise them before I write out the entire novel. This helps me maintain a global perspective and assists with the pacing of my stories.


Q: Your book is set in some wildly different geographical locations throughout the story. Can you tell us why you chose these settings in particular?

A: The locations in my book range from the gritty backstreets of Washington D.C. to the fog shroudhed forests of the Pacific Northwest, back to the unique geographical location of the Adirondack Mountains, and the big finale taking place in a secret underground complex deep in the heart of Manhattan. I like to take my readers to places that they may not get to see on a regular basis and, since my book dealt with an attempt to gain control of the government of the United States, I felt that the story needed to encompass the entire geographical space of the nation.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: I like to have my characters travel as they change. The setting helps me identify where they are in their personal growth as well as giving me something that I can take away and make their lives even harder; pushing them to change if they want to stay alive. As a writer, I am a firm believer that without conflict, there is no story.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Melissa and Nick are debating about whether her small-town boyfriend is able to help them infiltrate a top secret government building. Melissa says that not only is he still injured from the assassin’s attempt on her life, but he is a civilian. Nick reminds her that he is not technically a civilian and is actually very qualified for the job. To this Melissa responds, “He was in the Navy fifteen years ago. He might as well have watched Top Gun four hundred times with what he still remembers about those days.”

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: This is from early on in the book when the double for the Vice President has second thoughts about “taking the bullet” for him.

Andrew perched on the edge of the back seat and watched as the dimly lit buildings of Washington, DC at night blurred past the limousine window. He felt like he was standing still, and the rest of the world was streaming by. When that first egg hit the top of the car he almost jumped out of his skin. It had sounded so loud; like a gunshot. Then more followed, hitting the sides and the top. Andrew was immediately pressed backward into the soft leather seat by the sudden acceleration as the motorcade sped away from the scene.

Well, they got that part right. This meant that the rest, no matter how incredible it sounded, was most likely true. It was probably the most overused plot in low-budget sci-fi movies, but Andrew knew that somewhere, out there in the night, there was an intelligent robotic killing machine looking for him. There was nothing left for him to do but sit back and wait.

Knowing the end was drawing near, Andrew naturally reflected on his life. But all he could focus on was the whirlwind year he was about to complete. Ten months ago, after the surgery, Andrew learned the informal medical term “new lease on life”. He set out to make his bucket list, the list of things he always wanted to do but never took the time. And now he finally had the time.

But when a sharp stabbing pain forced an emergency evacuation by helicopter from the peak of Half Dome in Yosemite, Andrew learned a new medical term only six months into his “new life”. Metastatic cancer. What this meant for him was that not only had the cancer come back; it came back in more places than it had started.

And now, four months later, here he was.

Sitting in a limousine posing as the Vice President of the United States.

Waiting to die.

He reflexively winced through every intersection as the convoy of vehicles screamed through at high speed. At this hour there was almost no traffic, and every cross street provided ample opportunity for a high-speed side-impact collision.

This was taking way too damn long.

Andrew suddenly glanced up at the roof of the limousine. An overpowering desire to live washed over him. He knew why that first egg sounded so loud. Maybe he could reach it? Pull it off and throw it out into the street? There were other treatments he could try. He didn’t have to die right now, did he?

Andrew shook his head as his vision blurred slightly. He knew that this euphoric thinking was a direct result of the opiates in his system caused by the breakthrough pain medication.

Still, he had a lot to live for, didn’t he?

Of course he did.

That settled it.

Andrew leaned to his left and fingered the controls to roll down the back window. A strong wind immediately blew around inside the cabin of the limousine. They must’ve been traveling at least seventy miles an hour.

With the window rolled down all the way, Andrew sat with his back to the window and reached up behind him to grip the door frame where it met the roof. With a single motion he lifted himself up and out and sat down on the edge of the closed door. The wind threatened to pull him the rest of the way out of the limousine, and he splayed his legs on opposite sides of the door’s interior to create an anchor for himself.

The wind buffeted him fiercely.

He squinted against the harsh conditions and scanned the roof of the limousine for what he knew must be there. And then he saw it. The tiny magnetic transponder sat just this side of dead center on the roof.

If he could just reach it.

Clamping his legs to the frame of the car he pushed a little higher, to give himself a longer reach. Flashing lights from his right drew his attention away from the tiny device. He glanced over at the Chevy Suburban filled with Secret Service agents. They were frantically flashing their headlights at him.

What did they think that would achieve?

Did they think that he didn’t know what he was doing?

He returned his full attention back to the device that sat, mockingly, just out of his reach. Losing leverage but gaining more reach Andrew pushed up ever so slightly with his legs.

Just a little further.

He almost toppled out of the limousine when a motorcycle officer appeared on the opposite side right into his field of view. The loud roar of the wind rushing past at over seventy miles an hour made it almost impossible to hear the officer, but not quite. “Get back in the car!”

With his left arm splayed forward on the roof to provide additional stability Andrew made one final push and gripped the tiny object with his fingertips. A second motorcycle officer joined the first, and they took turns hollering questions and commands at him. Andrew tugged at the device. It resisted slightly before releasing its magnetic grip and came free into his fingers.

He had done it!

He waved the device in front of him showing it to the two motorcycle officers with a big smile on his face. “I got it!”

And then his face fell as he looked past the two motorcycle officers to see the blurred grill of an SUV heading straight for them at impossible speed.

As soon as the Audi Q7’s bumper made contact with the second motorcycle, the collision detectors triggered the shaped C-4 charges, which focused all of their explosive power directly at the limousine right in front of it.

It happened so quickly that Andrew never even felt the end of his life.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Steve. We wish you much success!

A: And thanks again for having me on today. I enjoyed this interview very much.

Interview with Nzingha West, author of “Is My Kid Stupid?”

Nzingha West is a special education specialist working in New York City. As an instructor Nzingha’s expertise has been featured onRadio Disney, 106.7 Lite Fm in New York, News 12 Connecticut, NPR Radio and several parenting magazines. Before starting her education career Nzingha worked in several labs as chemist. Nzingha has honed her education expertise over 10 years in New York City schools and private companies. Nzingha has worked with several prestigous schools such as The Harlem Children’s Zone, University Settlement, The New York Foundling, The American Museum of Natural History and The City College of New York among others.

Nzingha is also the owner of Urbane Academics where she provides Special Education Advocacy, Educational Testing and Private and Small group instruction from her office. Because of her vast level of knowledge and expertise, Nzingha has worked with students in some of the most prestigious schools in New York such as the Brearley School, The Dalton School, The United Nations International School, The British International School as well as several public and parochial schools.

Nzingha firmly believes in the fair education of all students and their families no matter their economic status.

You can visit Nzingha West’s website at www.ismykidstupid.com or www.urbane-academics.com

Q: Thank you for this interview, Nzingha. Can you tell us what your latest book, Is My Kid Stupid? Avoiding an Educational Disaster, is all about?

A: Thank you for having me. Is My Kid Stupid? Is basically an informational book that teaches parents how to navigate the education system and get the services needed for their child(ren) for free. It discusses how to advocate for your special/execptional needs child, how to assist during IEP and 504 meetings. It also discusses different therapies, how your child can earn 8 college credits for less than $100.00 and how to get free private school tuition and free in home tutoring.

It really is a good read for any parent in any stage of parenting. It’s not just for parents who have children with special needs.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Because my book is a non-fictional informational book, I didn’t use characters persay, what I did do, is use my past experiences with my students and their parents working as an instructor and advocate, and I used those people as the basis of the stories told and the scenarios used. I also used the questions that I was asked as an advocate to provide the information and letter templates found in the book.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: My “characters” are all real people, I’ve neglected to use names, but the point has still been made in the scenarios and stories told. You have to be proactive.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: With my book, because it is a non-fiction book, I already knew what I would write about. I procrastinated a lot when writing it, but for the most part I knew what I wanted to say. I knew that I didn’t want to write another book that explained what learning disabilities are, and who/what/when/how they were caused. There is tons of information out there that explains that, what wasn’t available, in one place, is what to do after the diagnosis, what to say, who to speak to, what to write, what your rights are as a parent etc. It was important that my book express what is most important, what do you do after the diagnosis and how to get it done for free.

Q: Your book is set in Everywhere, USA. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

A: Ha! I love this question. I chose Everywhere, USA because I work with families from all of the states and a culmination of cities. This book doesn’t a regional story, it affects so many people in several different ways. I wanted to make sure that no one was alienated, that whoever read this book, whether your child has a learning disability or not found something helpful.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Not really, there really is no setting. The book is purely informational and super short. Perfect for today’s reader who wants to get right to the meat and potatoes of the book.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: On page 69 of my book Is My Kid Stupid? Avoiding an Educational Disaster, I am discussing how to choose extracurricular activities for your child if he/she has a learning disability. I am explaining several activities such as engineering classes, drumming and DJ classes; as well as how to choose which activity is best for your child.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: One of the excerpts I like the best is located on pages 36&37.
1. Waiting too long to act
Can you imagine a doctor (God forbid) coming to you and saying, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith, little Johnny has cancer and we need to operate.” Would you wait around and see what happens, chock it up to little Johnny being lazy or punish little Johnny? No! You’d do whatever it took to fix little Johnny’s problem. Get my drift?

Obviously, cancer is life threatening and scary, and in no way is it equivalent to hiring a tutor. However, when your child has a problem, waiting for it to fix itself won’t happen. Think about all the other problems in your life that magically fix themselves with no assistance from anyone or anything… Have you found one yet?

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Nzingha. We wish you much success!

A: Thank you! I was happy to do it.

As The Pages Turn Chats with Vila Spider Hawk author of Hidden Passages

click on the book cover to purchase

 

Vila SpiderHawk and her husband share a log home of their design in the woods of Pennsylvania where they live with their five cats and enjoy frequent visits with their many woodland friends.  SpiderHawk, a retired teacher, is an avid gardener and a gourmet vegan cook.

About Hidden Passages

Brimming with hope and beautifully written, these eight stories of women helping women and girls through the challenges and transitions of life will surprise you with every turn of the page.

In Passages, a girl moves through a rites of passage into womanhood, both symbolic and literal, among her tribe of watching women, bonding with the other women as well as with the feminine in nature, bonding with the divine, and erasing boundaries between all.

Lavinia is something of a ghost story of women, where the reader wonders at times who is living and who is not.

Vila SpiderHawk is taking a different view on the aging of womankind. Hidden Passages is a collection of tales, some of which are interconnected, others which stand alone, all of which deal with women who are finding or already using the wisdom acquired from years of life experience.

These are women as women should be: unafraid of living, unafraid of expressing their femininity, unafraid of aging, unafraid of facing up to their own fears and weaknesses and transforming them into strengths, unafraid to confront those who would deny them their place, simply – unafraid. We should all wish to be such terrific crones.

 

Interview

 

Q: Thank you for this interview, Vila. Can you tell us what your latest book, Forest Song: Letting Go, is all about?

A: Thank you for having me.  Forest Song: Letting Go is the third book of the Forest Song series. In this episode Judy Baumann and her friends survive death-defying exploits along the Polish-German corridor during World War II, rescuing a family from Auschwitz and carrying out another rescue from the Warsaw ghetto.  In the process they overcome betrayal and loss with courage, cleverness and humor.

Q: Is this your first novel?  If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

A:  Hidden Passages: Tales to Honor the Crones is my first book, though it is not a novel.  It is a collection of eight stories about women helping women and girls to overcome the challenges of life. 

          Forest Song: Letting Go is my third novel.  It’s different from Hidden Passages: Tales to Honor the Crones in several ways.  For one thing, it is a novel, not a book of stories.  In the Forest Song series, I have three books (thus far) in which to develop the characters and to describe the surroundings.  The writing in Hidden Passages is much denser, since I had much less space in which to describe the people, the action, and the surroundings.  I approached Hidden Passages: Tales to Honor the Crones more as I would poetry. 

Q: How difficult was it writing your book?  Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

 

A:  It’s not the act of writing that is difficult for me.  It’s making time to sit down and write that I find challenging.  I have very little time to devote to it.  Therefore, my writing tends to proceed very slowly.  Mercifully, I have never experienced writer’s block. 

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel?  Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

A:  Actually, Forest Song: Letting Go is newly out.  It hasn’t even come out in paperback form yet.  Many of my readers have gladly embraced the Kindle version of it, especially now that they know they don’t have to own a Kindle device to read it.  They’ve been downloading the free Kindle for PC program Amazon offers and reading the book from their computer screens.  Others, however, are waiting for the paperback to come out.  Thus far, however, the reception has been very warm.  Those who have read it tell me it’s my best book yet.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

 

A: I usually can’t sit down to write until eight or nine PM, and so I work until about one or two AM. 

I am a retired teacher, and so I approach my writing as I did my teaching: with a review of the previous work each night and, once I’m satisfied with that, moving on to the new material.  That seems to work well for me.  Then, once I’ve finished a chapter, I do the same thing.  I review the entire chapter, make whatever changes I feel need to be made, and then move on to the new chapter.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

 

A: I brush my teeth and go to bed.

Q: What book changed your life?

A: A book of poems called The World Split Open.  This is an anthology of poems written by women from all over the world and from the very early days of literature to contemporary times.  It chronicles women’s struggles and triumphs, hopes, and disappointments in a variety of cultures and eras.  I don’t know if it’s still in print, but if it is, I highly recommend it.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

 

A:  Sheer Pigheaded Stubbornness

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

 

A: I am not Wonder Woman.

Thank you for this interview Vila.  I wish you much success on your latest release, Forest Song: Letting Go!

 

Thank you very much.  It was a true pleasure to do this interview.

Interview with Author Monica Brinkman, “What goes around comes around.”

Monica M. Brinkman lived in the Philadelphia, PA area, relocated to the California Bay, where she resided for thirty years and now resides in the St. Louis, MO area, which was the inspiration of her newest book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel.

She views herself as a citizen of all the States, finding that people throughout the country are warm, caring and most want the same things in life, to enjoy their passions, make a living and be surrounded by those they love. In her own words, “Life is truly an adventure. I believe in giving everyone the opportunity to go after their passions in life. To not do so, creates hostility, depression and emptiness.”

A free-lance author and poet, she embraces stories that have meaning and purpose. Though a bit of a rebel, when some authors told her that no one would ever read a story set in the Missouri Ozarks, nor would they wish to read a mixed genre, that was all it took. “How dare they insult the intelligence of our readers by placing them in a box”. Off she went, and wrote this exact type of story, set in the small rural college town of Raleigh, MO. It is a mixed genre of suspense, horror, spiritutality and a touch of the paranormal. Monica is working on the sequel, The Wheels Final Turn, set in the State of California.

You can find out more about Monica and her work athttp://monicabrinkmanbooks.webs.com/

Q: Thank you for this interview, Monica. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, is all about?

A: My book intentionally written using a mixture of genres has created quite a few discussions of the real conception. The reviewers seem to have their own idea of the meaning of the tale. The good news is this is exactly what I intended when creating the idea of the story.

The best description I can provide, without giving away the suspense, is this brief synopsis.

“What goes around comes around.”
Truer words were never spoken, as evidenced by the complex interactions and fates of the characters in “The Turn of The Karmic Wheel.”
When the residents of Raleigh begin to hear music and voices that aren’t “there”, and to receive frightening messages from no discernable source, it soon becomes apparent that changes must – and will – be made: to their everyday lives, to their relationships, to their bodies, and, most importantly, to their souls.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Would love to and thank you for asking. I’ll touch on a few as I have many characters within the tale.

• Angela Frank is the main character and driving force within the story. A beautiful young mother, wife, psychiatrist and reluctant psychic, embraces the goodness within people and the world. Ms. Frank lives her life assisting the mentally ill, performing charitable acts within her town and tending to her family, husband Monty Frank and two twin girls Alesha and Alexis. Lately, she has been unable to avoid or repress ‘voices’ and ‘visions’ occurring at an increasing rate. Thus begins her journey and participation in the karmic wheels turn.

• Euclid Hannigan, on the other side of middle age, speaks simply with an Ozark twang and is a firm God-fearing, compassionate man whose life has been in turmoil since the death of his wife Gina and the loss of his life-long job at the car factory. He soon finds himself perplexed by his inability to resist the force calling him to perform uncharacteristic acts.

• Karmen Shelton, in her early 50’s, is a loving, giving, caring nurse working in the local hospitals psychiatric ward. Her life is the definition of being charitable in both her work and outside activities. Unmarried, a bit overweight with short, tight, curly hair and what people call ‘coke bottle glasses,’ she yearns to find a man who will love her for her heart and not her outward appearance.

• Joshua Allen, tall, a mid thirties Financial Advisor with a model physique, black hair and piercing blue eyes is a woman’s picture of perfection. Females seem drawn to his animal magnetism until they realize he possesses qualities of self-absorption, greed, arrogance and pretentiousness.

• Rosie Richards, unmarried, 60 years of age, is a successful real estate agent with flame red hair, loud, overbearing, grossly overweight, and flamboyant in dress and appearance. Ms. Richards’s business practices place her own financial needs above those of her clients.

• Monty Frank, a Debt Eliminator in his late 20’s, pudgy around the mid-section, a marvelous husband and father is married to Angela Frank. From outward appearance, life within the Frank household seems idyllic, two young successful parents, blonde beautiful twin girls surrounded by deep love. Soon, Angela confronted with a taste of reality, must re-think her entire married life as Monty’s deep secrets are exposed.

There are a few small characters, whom we meet throughout the story as they get a taste of the karmic wheels turn.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: I must confess that I do both. Many times I will combine both the real person I have met and add to their personality from my imagination. The characters appear in dreams many times and seem to ‘call me’ to bring them to life. With the diversity of individuals we meet in life, I believe, if an author is honest, they will tell you that all characters hold some truth with people they have met in life. We take them and tweak them a bit.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: The plot comes first. It is the actual idea of the entire story. The fun is adding the characters and watching them come alive before your eyes. The bond of intimacy between an author and their characters is perhaps the most exciting aspect of being a writer. The feeling is much as giving birth. First, an idea appears and you mold it into becoming a real, breathing individual that you hope readers will embrace.

Q: Your book is set in Raleigh, Missouri. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

A: Allow me a bit of local history. When the town of Rolla, MO was being named, legend has it, that new settlers from North Carolina voted to name the town after their hometown of Raleigh but chose to spell the Missouri version phonetically. I chose to use the original spelling and intention of the towns’ name.

I set the book in this setting when some very pompous authors told me no one would wish to read a story set in the Missouri Ozarks or any small town. They went on to say, to be successful, you must set your story in a large city. It didn’t set well with me, as I believe they had no right to place readers in some ‘readers’ box’, telling them what they prefer to read. Many excellent stories have been set in small towns. To me, they were insulting the readers of the worlds’ intelligence.

The sequel, The Wheels Final Turn, will be set in California but reach the world.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Definitely. In this case, I drew on the diversity of the people living in Rolla, MO. They are not merely ‘simple country folks’ but a blend of many different dialects, beliefs, ethnicities, and walks of life. Yes, you will find the Ozark accent, but the majority of the people have no accent whatsoever, or only a touch of it.

Also, the fact that a small, rural, college town would hold the beginning to a major shift in peoples’ perception of being held accountable for their own actions in life, intrigued me. How ideal, a sleepy little town awakening a universal force that would change humankind. It would not have been the same story had I set it in metropolis.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Joshua Allen has awakened and is preparing his morning meal, reflecting on the strange occurrences from the previous evening. He contemplates visiting Joansie, his female counterpart. As he reaches for his cell phone, he is jolted by electricity and sent reeling across the room, shocked (literally) and dazed.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: This one is my favorite as it awakens peoples’ eyes to a rare, incurable, genetic disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa or EB, for short.

I wanted to let the readers know, also, that every sale of my novel will create a donation to EBMRF, the only research foundation that uses 97% of their funding on actual research. They are starting to come up with promising research results. I can only hope and pray we will see significant results in the near future.

Miriam gazed at her daughter and saw pure beauty where others would see only the gauze bandages covering her thin, tiny arms, legs, feet and hands. Most people who saw her believed the lovely little girl was a burn victim. If only that were so, Miriam thought to herself. Yes, that she could live with, knowing her Tessa would get better and grow to a ripe old age. Often she wondered why such a disease as Epidermolysis bullosa, E.B. for short, existed. For what purpose were these children born into this world? Their reality was constant pain and misery. E.B. was a cruel trick of nature indeed. The doctors had explained that it had to do with genes that she and her late husband carried. Rather like Russian roulette. No one knew when, or if, a child would be born with E.B. There were no tests to find out if an adult had the gene, they’d told her—well, not until a child was born with E.B. Then the medical field was able to take DNA from the child and compare it against the parents’. Even then, she’d been told, the disease could simply be the result of a mutant gene that popped up out of nowhere. In truth, the doctors knew very little about this genetic disease and as much as admitted that each afflicted child was, more or less, a training tool for the medical field. The extent of the disease varied from mild to extreme cases.


Miriam knew that to the world, her daughter was a freak. Moreover, she knew that Tessa was growing weary of the long stares, rude questions, and out and out gawking whenever she went out in public. Miriam felt like telling Tessa to give ’em the finger the next time an adult stood next to her gawking openly. That would serve ’em right, but two wrongs don’t make a right, and it was better for Tessa to ignore them and not buy into their discourteousness. Miriam laughed to herself just thinking of Tessa lifting up that finger at some moron.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Monica. We wish you much success!

A: You are very welcome. I am humbled to provide a bit of information on my book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, my views and inspirations.

I appreciate your taking the time to talk with me about a story written to make people think and bring meaning to the world as it was conceived from the point of care and concern for our world.

Thank you!

West Oversea: Interview with Lars Walker

We are honored to welcome Lars Walker here today at As the Pages Turn!

Lars is a native of Kenyon, Minnesota, and  lives in Minneapolis. He has worked as a crabmeat packer in Alaska, a radio announcer, a church secretary and an administrative assistant, and is presently librarian and bookstore manager for the schools of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations in Plymouth, Minnesota.

He is the author of four previously published novels, and is the editor of the journal of the Georg Sverdrup Society. Walker says, “I never believed that God gave me whatever gifts I have in order to entertain fellow Christians. I want to confront the world with the claims of Jesus Christ.” His latest release is West Oversea: A Norse Saga of Mystery, Adventure and Faith.

Visit Lars online at www.larswalker.com/ and his blog at www.brandywinebooks.net/ .

 

Q: Thank you for this interview, Lars. Can you tell us what your latest book, West Oversea, is all about?

West Oversea is a historical fantasy, based on actual characters, which begins in Norway a little after 1000 A.D. Erling Skjalgsson, the hero, is the most powerful man in Norway until a question of honor forces him to give up his property and power. He sets out on a voyage to trade with Leif Eriksson in Greenland (he probably did actually know Leif). A storm at sea, plus supernatural forces, take them to unplanned destinations (such as America) and daunting adventures. 

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters? 

My hero is Erling Skjalgsson, as I said. He’s a saga character with a lot of appeal to the modern reader, because we’re told he had a system for helping his slaves buy their freedom. My own reading of his story (and I know a Norwegian historian who agrees with me) is that he spent his life fighting for the traditional Norwegian democratic system against kings who wanted to institute a foreign-style, autocratic monarchy. The narrator is his Irish priest, Father Aillil, an entirely fictional character I enjoy writing very much. He’s my hobbit—the bridge character who helps the modern reader relate to Erling’s heroic ethic. There are also various saga characters, including Leif Eriksson, and a vicious, shape-changing enemy. 

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination? 

Characters are an amalgam. I patterned Erling’s appearance on a friend of mine, who’s rather striking-looking. Otherwise he’s kind of my ideal of what a hero should be, largely based on a kid who once defended me on a playground when I was in first grade. Father Aillil is me, if I were braver and more fun. 

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write? 

I collect ideas for a story until I feel I have the basic points of a narrative. Then I jump-start it, and see whether it goes where I plan or not. 

Q: Your book is set in Norway, Iceland, America, and Greenland.  Can you tell us why you chose these locations in particular? 

I wanted to deal with the whole sweep of the Norse exploration of the North Atlantic. The Norwegian historian I mentioned, Torgrim Titlestad of the University of Stavanger, suggested in one of his books that Erling might have taken a voyage to Greenland. I’d hit a point in Erling’s career (this is actually the second book in the Erling series) where the saga doesn’t tell us what he did for a while. I figured it was a good time to open the story out. 

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story? 

A voyage story is all about the journey. When we travel in real life, we travel to meet new people, among whom are ourselves. We travel to discover new places, among which are our homes.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Our characters are in Iceland. Snorri the Chieftain, a character familiar to Icelandic saga readers, is telling the story of his part in the conversion of Iceland to Christianity (according to historians, the only instance of such a conversion being accomplished by parliamentary action).

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

 Sure. 

We rode into the steading as shadows stretched across it. We dismounted outside the hall. We could hear voices inside, wailing like Rachel in Ramah. 

“They’ll be in there now,” said Kjartan. “Who’ll come in with me?” 

“Everyone looked at me. 

“I suppose I’d best have a look,” I said. 

Houses in Iceland are thick-walled, and the screaming I’d heard from outside was as silence to the calamity of shrieks that outraged my ears as I passed through the entry and into the hall. Judging by the sound, I looked to see swarms of spirits damned being savaged by spear-wielding Azazels. What I saw was at once commoner and stranger. 

The house was walled into two rooms, besides the entry. The first room we entered (the smaller of the two) was filled with the members of the household, those who yet lived. There were only a handful, and they looked as if they’d eaten little and slept not at all for days. 

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Lars.  We wish you much success! 

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

Interview with Carolyn Wofe, author of The Bedtime of the Sky

 Carolyn Wolfe is a free- lance writer and author of five books. In this, her fifth book, The Bedtime Of The Sky and Other Sleepy Bye Stories, she has returned to her roots. Ms. Wolfe started writing children’s stories in verse in the early 80′s in order to have her nephew and nieces enjoy them. Now, she has compiled them into a short collection to be enjoyed by everyone! This book was specifically written for reading at Bedtime. From Dragons hiding in the sock drawer, to a Mom designing the universe, these stories are full of magical imagery and beautifully colored illustrations that are designed to delight any young heart! Happy reading! For more info please contact her website at www.whenthemoonspeaks.com.

 Q: Thank you for this interview, Carolyn. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Bedtime Of The Sky and Other Sleepy Bye Stories is all about?

 A: Thank you for the warm welcome! This book is an illustrated children’s book of five of my original stories in verse. It is illustrated by a wonderful artist, Leslie Mathis, who makes the stories come alive. As you can probably tell, it is written for the stories to be read at bedtime.

 Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

 A: This is actually my fifth book. I have one other children’s story, The Unhappy Little Dragon Lessons Learned and two books of poetry for a general readership, and also one collection of my short stories, also intended for a general audience. My first book was a collection of my poetry dating from my college years until 2001.

It was a daunting task. The Bedtime Of The Sky and Other Sleepy Bye Stories was actually written for my nieces and nephews when they were young and I had re-organized them for my newest niece

who is just turning five this May. I decided as I was putting them together that I would love to create it as children’s book. So

I sent it off to my Illustrator and she drew the perfect images for it!

It was published about six months later!

 Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

 A: Well, this book was easy. I did re-write some of the verses

and Leslie Mathis Illustrated and formatted it, and we went back and forth a bit with that. She has a happy talent for reading my mind so I was very pleased with how it all turned out! I did not have writer’s block with this book but have experienced it with my other work. I read, I just start to read my favorite author’s books and do a lot of journaling. By reading and journaling I get back the imagination to write.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

 A: I am very lucky because I have a wide circle of friends with children and even grandchildren so the word has spread about my book. I am also a Substitute Teacher and have been asked to have my book in some of the local Elementary school libraries. I do not have any funny stories quite yet. I am looking forward to that though!

 Q: What is your daily writing routine?

 A: On my days off, I also work at a bookstore, I sit at my desk in the living room and pick up where I left off on any given project. I also edit other people’s work and love to free-lance, so it all depends on how far I have gotten on any particular piece I am working on, how long I will be on the computer. If it is my own work, I could be writing all day and into the evening.

 Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

 A: Well, I love to watch Sci Fi on TV, play with my animals, I have a menagerie, and on weekends I go out with my husband and sing Karaoke!

 Q: What book changed your life?

 A: The First one, after that I was simply addicted to the whole process and to enjoying storytelling. I also started to coordinate writing events and workshops. So it made a huge difference, getting that first book out!

 Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

 A: Magic Happens!

I truly believe that life is magical and I have been blessed with having one adventure after another. I love the journey.

 Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

A: That I love writing for children and hope they get a positive, upbeat message from all of my stories.

Thank you for this interview Carolyn I wish you much success on your latest release, The Bedtime of The Sky and Other Sleepy Bye Stories!

Interview with Daisy Jordan – Author of Love Means Zero

Daisy Jordan is an obsessive tennis fan and wrote this book so she could live out her dream-job fantasy through Hilton. Before deciding to write a book about the tennis tour, she wrote six other books, including Everything Happens for a Reason…, the Spin the Bottle series, and All That Sparkles Isn’t Real Sapphire. Even before that, she grew up in Indiana watching tennis all summer every summer on TV, and even attended a few pro tournaments. She now lives in Denver and religiously fills out brackets for every Grand Slam with her brother Josh.

You can visit her website at DaisyJordan.com

Q: Thank you for this interview, Daisy. Can you tell us what your latest book, Love Means Zero, is all about?

A: Love Means Zero is about Hilton, a recent college grad with a dead-end job at a portrait studio, unexpectedly landing a freelance role with Game Set Match magazine, which she refers to as “the Us Weekly of tennis.” Hilton has always dreamed of traveling the world and taking gorgeous photographs, and suddenly, she is doing just that. It’s about the best life she can imagine—partying with the players and their famous girlfriends, seeing fantastic tennis every day, and jetting off to a new place every week. But for her boyfriend Luke, it’s about the worst life he can imagine. He’s stuck at home in Indiana finishing law school, and the more Hilton’s gone, the less she seems to miss him. As he closes off from her and harbors a relationship-changing secret, Hilton, a happy-go-lucky believer in love and fate, laughs off her feelings for one of the world’s top-ranked tennis players as nothing more than a celebrity crush. But then, in one intense, heart-wrenching, thrilling, and thought-provoking moment, Hilton’s world turns upside down as she starts to see that love may not be as powerful or fate-determining as she thought.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Hilton is easygoing, free-spirited, and in love with life. She believes everything happens for a reason, but she also believes in going out and making things happen for herself. She is head-over-heels in love with her boyfriend Luke, whom she’s been with for almost six years. She is intuitive, thoughtful, confident, and spontaneous, and her friends mean everything to her. However, she also knows she sometimes has to put herself first, even if it could mean hurting someone else.

Luke is tall, good-looking, and laid-back. The most important people in his life are Hilton and his other two roommates, Jill and Todd. He is 100% happy with his current life—living with them while he finishes law school. After that, he imagines marrying Hilton and basically continuing with their life as it is—fun-filled times with great friends.

Jill has been Hilton’s best friend since ninth grade and is the only person to whom Hilton can truly tell everything. She is wildly in love with her boyfriend Todd, who has long been the guy of her dreams. Jill has experienced a lot of tumultuous rollercoasters in her life, and in the past, Hilton was usually the one with the awesome relationship, while Jill was usually single and struggling with guy issues. In this book, their roles begin to reverse.

Tanner grew up in Aspen, Colorado, moved to Vero Beach, Florida to play tennis when he was fourteen, and now is ranked No. 3 in the world. He quickly became a fan favorite on the tennis tour because of his funny and gracious personality…and his killer looks. He is part boy next door, part New York City partier. He is genuinely interested in people, he supports animal charities, and he loves to go out and do crazy things in the spotlight—both on and off the court. Tanner always has fun with whatever he does, and his magnetic energy draws in everyone around him.

Haidin is tennis’ most notorious bad boy. Ranked No. 5 in the world, his press conferences have to air on tape delays because of his penchant for profanity and outrageously offensive comments. He dates model/actress Aubrey Gage, and their scandal-filled relationship garners him as much, if not more, media attention—and backlash—as does his complete lack of sportsmanship in tennis. There’s a reason he acts like he does, but it’s one nobody would ever guess.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: My characters are almost completely from my imagination. I do occasionally give them traits of real people I know, which I usually do to make my friends and family laugh. For example, in Everything Happens for a Reason…, which is about Hilton, Luke, Jill, and Todd in college, I made one of their guy friends a really terrible dancer. I knew this would make all my college friends laugh, because it would remind them of one of our guy friends who was a really bad dancer. Hilton being a somewhat obsessive tennis fan is based on me, to an extent, although Hilton, being an actual tennis player, has a way better excuse to be an obsessive fan than I do. My friends and family think I’m slightly crazy, so they all kind of shook their heads and laughed when I told them Hilton was getting a job traveling with the tennis tour in my new book. For the most part though, my characters are unique, and one of the most fun parts of writing is developing them and getting to know them.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: I am usually consciously aware of one or two big things that will happen over the course of the book, but I never make an outline or plan things in detail ahead of time. I just start writing and let the ideas flow. They always do, and sometimes those big things I had in mind before I started writing don’t even happen, or they happen differently from how I originally pictured. I would call my style of writing “go with the flow.” I let things happen naturally, I let the characters react to what happens, and the plot then takes a more realistic path.

Q: Your book is set all over the world.  Can you tell us why you chose this format for the setting?

A: I find travel invigorating, and I also know it can change the way people think and feel, especially when they travel for long periods of time. Hilton has always wanted to travel, and once she gets a taste of that life, nothing else is enough for her. She is dissatisfied and uninspired back at home in Indiana. When she travels, she takes something from each place she goes, whether it be a feeling, a memory, or a new way of looking at some aspect of life. Eventually, this does change the way she feels about her relationship with Luke, and about love in general, which never would have happened had she stayed in Indiana her whole life. I also use the different settings to invoke a thrill in readers. I absolutely love to travel, and reading about faraway places always makes me want to jump on a plane. I think a lot of people feel this way, and Hilton’s lifestyle, along with each section of the book taking place in a different location, adds excitement to the story.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: It absolutely does, in a couple of different ways. As Hilton travels and Luke sits at home growing more and more miserable, they begin to drift apart, and both of their views on the relationship—which at the beginning of the book was rock-solid—change. This probably never would have happened had they both stayed home and continued life as they had always known it. There is also one particular setting in the book, New York City, that plays a major part in the development of the story. Hilton spends much of her time there between tournaments, and she comes to see it as her “home away from home.” She names it as her favorite city in the world, and there comes a point when she is more comfortable there than she is in Indiana. There are also a couple times when something major happens, or doesn’t happen, because of Hilton being in New York.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

A: Hilton is in Paris on her first assignment for Game Set Match. One of her jobs is to sit in the hotel lobby at night, follow tennis players when they go out, and try to get scandalous pictures of them. She has seen all the big-name players cross through the lobby at least once during her first week there…except for Tanner Bruin. She is almost positive he isn’t staying in the hotel, and she wonders if he has a secret girlfriend. She sees him as a mystery and is intrigued by him, because he’s also her favorite player. Later that night, she talks to Luke on the phone and describes being in Paris with Game Set Match as “going from zero to sixty in like, two seconds.”

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: I’ll give you one of the best ones that doesn’t give away anything big, but hints at several key aspects of the story that you’ll see when you read the book! This excerpt happens on Middle Sunday of Wimbledon, and it takes on greater significance later in the story, in more than one way.

The four of them went to a dark, crowded, noisy pub right across the street from their hotel. When they walked in, they had to walk down a set of steep, creaky stairs into the main room, and Hilton liked it, because down here below ground it was warm and cozy and they were secluded from the rainy gloom outside. It was horribly smoky, but Hilton figured she could deal with it for one day. The atmosphere was festive; all over people were talking and laughing loudly while they downed pint after pint.

“Oh my gosh!” a girl behind the bar shrieked when they approached. “Oh my gosh. You’re Tanner Bruin. And you’re Bryony Adams. Oh my gosh! I read about you guys in Game Set Match. Hold on, I’ll clear a table for you right away.”

Tanner smiled his easy, sexy smile. “It’s okay, we’ll wait.”

The girl couldn’t take her eyes off him. “Oh my gosh.”

“What do you guys want?” Tanner asked, turning to Bryony, Hilton, and Luke. “First round’s on me. For Luke’s birthday.”

“Thanks, man,” Luke said. “What’s a good English beer? I feel like trying something new.”

“What would you recommend?” Tanner asked the girl.

“Ummm…” She was star-struck and could hardly seem to think. “How about Bass? It’s one of our best pale ales. It’s probably our most popular. I think you’ll like it.” The last comment was directed toward Luke, but Hilton laughed to herself as the girl’s eyes immediately darted back to Tanner. She only wanted to impress Luke because he was part of Tanner’s party.

“Oh no, we don’t want pale ale,” Tanner said. “Give us something dark. Something with some bite. You pick something. I’ll trust you. Whatever you think is best.” He grinned at the girl again. Bryony looked at Hilton, and they laughed.

“Okay! You want that in pints?”

“Sure.” Something about the way he said it was so sure, so confident yet warm. Hilton felt little tingles all over. Everything he did was such a turn-on. And he always looked so good too; he was wearing dark jeans with a blazer again, like in Paris, but this time he wore the blazer over a fairly tight-fitting Aerosmith T-shirt, and he wore black Adidas shoes with white stripes. Hilton loved the mix of casual and classy. Bryony was wearing dark skinny jeans and a long slinky purple shirt with a low V-neck that clung to her body and showed off how thin she was. Hilton was wearing jeans and a dark green lingerie-like top with thin spaghetti straps under a tight long-sleeved black shirt with a V-neck that went down almost to her stomach and showed off a lot of the shirt underneath. Luke had on jeans and a lightweight black long-sleeved shirt from The Buckle. It was tight and showed off his toned-but-not-too-huge upper body. Hilton thought he looked delicious too.

“Okay!” The girl scurried off a few feet and was back merely seconds later with their drinks.

Tanner pulled out a wad of cash.

“Oh, no, it’s on the house.” The girl beamed at him.

“Oh, well thank you.” Tanner slid a fifty-pound note across the counter, then picked up a pint and handed it to Bryony.

“That was like a hundred dollars!” Hilton hissed in amazement. “Wow. It’s her lucky day.” She laughed.

“Was it?” Tanner shrugged. “I don’t really know the conversions. I go so many places I can never remember the ones like here, that have their own currency. I’ve got the euro pretty down, but I can never remember pounds.”

“Must be nice not to have it matter,” Luke laughed.

“Hey, I see a table!” Bryony pointed, and they all rushed over.

They ordered food and talked for a few hours. Tanner and Luke asked each other lots of questions about where they’d grown up and what they liked to do, and Hilton loved how well they got along. She learned a lot about Tanner too; she’d known for a long time just from watching his matches on TV and listening to the commentators that he’d been born in Aspen, Colorado and had moved to Vero Beach, Florida with his family when he was fourteen to train, but now she was learning all the details. He said he missed Aspen like crazy; he hadn’t been skiing in three years because he never had time. He’d grown up skiing every winter, all winter long, and had looked forward to being on the alpine ski team in high school. Even though he was modest, Hilton got the idea he’d been pretty awesome at it. But he had been doing really well in some regional tennis tournaments, and when he’d realized he had the chance to make it big in that, he’d decided to go for it. He said someday he wouldn’t mind moving back to Aspen though; his family had moved back when he’d joined the pro tour. He told all kinds of stories about growing up there; his dad had worked at a ski resort so his family had always had free unlimited ski passes, and Tanner had started skiing when he was three. He’d snowboarded too, but he said that was more just for fun; he hadn’t ever planned to be competitive with it. He’d started playing tennis when he was three too, at the courts at the resort, and that was what he’d done all summer when he wasn’t skiing. He told about how when he was sixteen and back in Aspen for Christmas, he’d asked out a girl he’d liked back in middle school and taken her skiing, and she’d broken her leg on the first time down the slope. She’d lived in Aspen her whole life but hadn’t ever been skiing; her dad had forbidden her from it because his brother had died in a skiing accident. So Tanner had thought it would be romantic and bad-boy-like and adventurous to take her, and then after she’d broken her leg, her dad had told her she could never talk to Tanner again, but Tanner had only been in Aspen for another week after that anyway.

The four of them were practically rolling with laughter by the time he finished, and Hilton could tell Bryony was hearing all this for the first time too. After all, she’d only known Tanner since April. Hilton had tears streaming down her face. She loved the image of Tanner as a teenager, really liking this girl and trying to be reckless to impress her…it was totally hot and just reinforced her image of his personality.

He told them other stories about Aspen too, like how it wasn’t out of the ordinary at all to walk into the grocery store and see a celebrity—tons of them owned homes in Aspen and the neighboring Snowmass Village—and how a lot of people who worked in Aspen and Snowmass couldn’t even afford to live there and had to live in neighboring, less ritzy towns. As he talked…about the Aspen Music Festival every summer, the Winter X Games, how he and his friends would ski anytime they possibly had the chance…she could hear the love for Aspen in his voice. She felt a bond with him; she, Luke, and Bryony were hearing him talk about stuff not a lot of people ever got to learn.

“Do you ever wish you wouldn’t have left?” Hilton asked.

Tanner looked thoughtful. “I don’t think so. But I think about how it would’ve been different, where I’d be in life right now.” He smiled. “Maybe I would’ve made it big in skiing and gone to the Olympics and Bry would’ve seen me on TV anyway.” He flashed his gorgeous smile in Bryony’s direction, and she laughed and shoved into him with her shoulder.

“Probably, but I might not’ve been able to tell he was hot, if he was all bundled up in ski stuff,” she said, and they smiled easily at each other.

Hilton laughed, but she felt a little twinge of jealousy. She shook it off, knowing she was being ridiculous.

“No,” Tanner said, turning back to Hilton, “I really do think about it sometimes…what it would’ve been like. I think I would’ve had a blast going to high school there and stuff, and then who knows, maybe I would’ve played tennis in college and ended up going pro anyway. But I think part of me would’ve felt like I missed a chance, like I was too scared to take it.”

Hilton nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, I can see that.”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Daisy.  We wish you much success!

A: Thank you! I loved doing this interview, and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity!

What Inspired Me to Write My Book by Tom Graneau

http://www.renters-win.com/What Inspired Me to Write My Book

The inspiration for Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America essentially started in 1996. While sitting in an economic class for a Bachelor of Science Degree, it occurred to me that most people in the United States are broke. By that time, many of my fellow students had admitted, in one way or another, that they were borrowing money for college—thousands of dollars in student loans that would take years to pay back. Furthermore, during my course of business, I noticed that more and more people used credit cards for purchases instead of cash.

Interestingly, I was in the same financial predicament. I was using credit cards to pay for things, not because it was convenient to do so, I simply did not have the cash available. At the time, I had recently separated from the military and had difficulty finding a job without a degree that paid more than the minimum wage. My six-dollar an hour job was barely enough to pay for essentials. To make matters worse, I was receiving foreclosure threats from my lender who was demanding money to bring the mortgage current. Meanwhile, my credit card balances were skyrocketing.

“Struggling to keep my head above water,” as we often say, I considered filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. After graduation, approximately two years later, I found a job as a financial management specialist. I spent roughly ten years in that position conducting workshops, training, and private consultations for members of the military, government employees, and others in the community.

I enjoyed my work. Assisting my clients plot a course for financial solvency was emotionally rewarding. However, there was another side to the job that troubled me. As a result of my own financial experiences, combined with that of thousands of my clients, it became more clear to me that, as a culture, our personal financial problems are bigger than what most people are willing to admit.

I began to research the problem and discovered a widespread issue. Various surveys showed that most Americans are broke. Close to 90 percent of working adults live from paycheck to paycheck regardless of income, education, or career position. More research revealed that while the root problems are many, nothing devours more of people’s hard-earned income than the homes they buy. When the final numbers are tallied at the point of sale, assuming that they get the opportunity to sell the house, most home owners end up losing money on the deal. This is mostly because of inherent costs associated with the property—costs which are either ignored or not understood prior to purchasing the home.

I was determined to improve my own financial situation and felt equally concerned about helping others do the same. I began to address the issues affecting our personal financial performance in my first book, Are You Financially Checkmate? You live in an economic culture designed to keep you broke. Discover how to take control and free yourself from financial bondage. The book was released in 2005, but it’s now being revised to include more information and title change.

During my first writing project, I decided that the “home ownership” issue needed special attention—a venture that should be handled separately. Hence the book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America. The work was published towards the end of 2009 and is now available for purchase in all books stores around the country and major online book retailers.

***

Tom Graneau is a personal financial management coach and author of a new book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America. If you are tired of the bondage of debt and want REAL answers to personal freedom and financial independence, begin by turning things around with a no-nonsense approach to your housing option.

Interview with Tom Graneau – Author of Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America

Tom Graneau is the author of Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America. Lately, he spent roughly ten years as a financial management coach, conducting workshops and private consultations for people in the military, government agencies, and the civilian community. His first book, Are You Financially Checkmate?, was published in 2005 and is now being revised.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Tom. Can you tell us what your latest book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America, is all about?

The real estate industry, including banks, mortgage companies, the government, and various other organizations have come together with one voice, claiming that home ownership is the most reliable path for financial prosperity. Presently, most Americans (70 percent, down from 83 percent in 2003) are preoccupied over the idea of owning a home as a financial investment. However, based on historical trends and statistical facts, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America debunks the wealth claim linked to home ownership.

On the contrary, when the opportunity for wealth building is compared between home buyers and renters, those who rent have greater propensity for financial success. Data indicates that those who have purchased homes (in some cases, more than once) are not necessarily better off financially than those who haven’t. For instance, more than 85 percent of the 78 million baby boomers in the United States are home owners. Many of them have bought and sold several homes. Yet, close to 90 percent of them are broke. The curious question is, where is the wealth earned from the home.

Additionally, more than 2/3 (78 percent) of American families are home owners. Nonetheless, the majority of them are strapped for cash, have little or no retirement savings, and are deep in debt. Renters Win, Home Owners Lose is a stunning, thought-provoking work that unravels the realities of home ownership. All told, renting is a wiser choice than buying.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

The inspiration for Renters Win, Home Owners Lose essentially started in 1996. While sitting in an economic class for a Bachelor of Science Degree, it occurred to me that most people in the United States are broke. By that time, many of my fellow students had admitted, in one way or another, that they were borrowing money for college—thousands of dollars in student loans that would take years to pay back. Furthermore, during my course of business, I noticed that more and more people used credit cards for purchases instead of cash.

Interestingly, I was in the same financial predicament. I was using credit cards to pay for things, not because it was convenient to do so, I simply did not have the cash available. At the time, I had recently separated from the military and had difficulty finding a job without a degree that paid more than the minimum wage. My six-dollar an hour job was barely enough to pay for essentials. To make matters worse, I was receiving foreclosure threats from my lender who was demanding money to bring the mortgage current. Meanwhile, my credit card balances were skyrocketing.

My desire to improve my situation led to research, which confirmed my suspicion about the financial condition of the masses. I discovered that the majority of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck regardless of income, education, or career position. The root problems are many, but nothing consumes more of our hard-earned income than the homes we buy. Hence the book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

Most of my research was based on reference materials. The Statistical Abstract of the United States (2001 through 2009) served as a vital resource. Other sources included the annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), current events, personal experience, and clients’ contribution.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

Common wisdom suggests that home ownership is one of the best pathways to financial prosperity. In reality, however, the concept works against people’s goals and expectations. Most people lose money on the property, often without realizing it. Instead, a person can be equally safe, comfortable, and wildly successful by choosing to rent while investing the extra money that would be “wasted” on a home.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

The Passion for Home Ownership

In the American culture, the passion for home ownership defies logic. Somehow, we’ve been impregnated with the idea that until we buy a house, our lives remain incomplete. Never mind how much education we have, how successful we are in other areas of our lives, or what position we hold in the community. Until we can say things like, “my home, our house,” etc., we continue to have feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. Those who seek to become home owners are not necessarily homeless. Most of them are renters who live in comfortable, adequate housing conditions but have grown to dislike their situations because of cultural pressure. Renters have been branded as hopeless cases who will amount to nothing as long as they keep renting an apartment or a home from someone else.

Branding renters is no accident. In fact, it is a well-developed and orchestrated marketing system designed by the housing industry
to target renters regarding their basic needs. With help from its enabling allies, the industry has successfully labeled renting as an
undesirable and foolish lifestyle that provides no benefit. Those who rent are made to feel that they are fighting a losing battle—throwing money down the drain each month. Consequently, renters are on a mission to become home owners and hope to change their fate in life forever.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, less than half of Americans owned their homes. From 1900 to 1930, the home ownership rate hovered around 46 percent. Then came the Great Depression in the 1930’s, and many home owners lost their homes. The rate dropped to 43 percent. Two decades later, the rate dramatically increased to more than 60 percent and has continued to rise.

Much of this increase can be directly attributed to people’s eagerness to own homes. Various national surveys have given us clues into the mindset of Americans regarding home ownership. In 1996,mFannie Mae reported that in a thirteen-to-one margin, Americans would rather own a home than drive a new car. Almost 70 percent of the respondents said that they would put off retirement for ten years in order to own a home.

When the same survey was conducted in 1998, Americans continued to express strong desires toward home ownership. Six in 10 renters said that buying a home ranked between a very important priority and their number one priority in life. At the time, a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 7.2 percent. That was high compared to what we’ve seen in recent years. Even then, 65 percent of Americans admitted that the timing was perfect to venture into home ownership.

Prior to the housing crisis in 2006, Americans were prepared to meet any challenge to own a house. In 2003, a Fannie Mae survey found that 67 percent of those who responded believed that it was a good time to buy a house, and 61 percent indicated that buying a house was a safe financial investment. During that time, housing sales had risen to an all-time high; mortgage interest rates had dropped to the lowest levels since 1960; and mortgage initiation had climbed to 40 percent from the previous year.

By 2004, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported that the home ownership rate had broken all records. Nearly 70 percent of all existing housing units were being occupied by owners. In subsequent years leading up to the end of 2005, all departments within the housing market had experienced record-breaking results. New home construction topped the million mark and continued to climb. And although the median price of new and existing homes continued to skyrocket, Americans kept buying houses at record levels.

At the end of 2005, the housing market single-handedly accounted for 16 percent of the United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The estimated value of housing stock was $15.5 trillion—32 percent of the total wealth of the United States, and after subtracting mortgage debt obligations, home owners’ equity had increased to $10.9 trillion. If there was a time for people in the real estate and banking industries to celebrate, this was it. Both the housing market and the mortgage industry were flourishing.

But, we commonly say, “everything has its price.” Past all the business activities and money, there were several problematic issues brewing that few people took time to consider. One of which was the personal sacrifice that some Americans made in pursuit of home ownership.

Q:  In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

It is often said that writing a book is easy; publishing it is hard. This concept is partially true since writing itself is not easy. These days, any book can be published with money. But for one who has little or none of it, reaching the public with a message (fiction or nonfiction) can be difficult. My approach has been self-publishing through a reputable publishing house and using a systematic approach to promote the book. I am currently using, or have plans to use, the following mediums:

  1. Partnership: Forming alliances with companies who believe in the spirit or philosophy of the book.
  2. Radio Interviews: I believe, with the right message, one can reach a wide audience quickly, in the least expensive way.
  3. Publicity: Publicity is the next best effective method of promoting books. I plan to experiment with various press releases at regular intervals, hoping to obtain free national press coverage through print and broadcast media.
  4. Social Medi This medium has worked well for some authors. I’m currently experimenting with it.
  5. Book Reviews: Knowing how others feel about my book is important in the on-going effort of promoting it. Independent reviews are known to facilitate book sales. I’m continually seeking ways to get additional book reviews.
  6. E-mail Marketing Campaigns: Opt-in e-mail marketing is another good way of reaching people for book sales. The results are more effective when the list belongs to the author.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

The early morning hours (times vary) are devoted to writing; late morning and afternoon are spent running Writers Publications (my own publishing firm);  and late evening is spent on more writing with an hour or two reserved for some television entertainment.

Q: What’s next for you?

Currently, I’m revising my first book, Are You Financially Checkmate? I’m  also in the process of writing a book series for men, covering all aspects of how to become the best husband, father, role model, and leader.

Thank you so much for this interview, Tom. We wish you much success!

My pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you. Here is one of my websites: http://www.renters-win.com/