author interview

Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, D. G. Driver

D. G. Driver’s book, No One Needed to Knowwon Silver for Preteen Fiction in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! Learn more about this author and her writing below.

Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing?

I began writing very young as a hobby, creating my first picture book stories while still in elementary school. I started writing professionally a couple years after I graduated college, selling my first story to a magazine and having my first play produced in 1994.

What’s the target age group for your books?

I primarily write middle grade and young adult novels. The majority of my readers tend to be kids in middle school. No One Needed to Know is targeted at kids 8-13.

What inspired your award-winning book?

No One Needed to Know is based loosely on my own experience as a younger sibling of a brother with Developmental Disabilities. My brother is four years older than me and was starting high school when I was in 6th grade. He wasn’t diagnosed as Autistic, because that wasn’t a well-known disorder back then. We figured it out later on. Still, my brother and I were great friends and played together a lot. When I was reaching puberty, I became less interested in playing pretend or having adventures, and that’s when it dawned on me that my much older brother should have stopped wanting to play that way years earlier. I based the novel on this turning point in my life and also on the bullying that my brother and I both dealt with as kids.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

“I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is” Forrest Gump – works a little for Donald, Heidi’s brother. He’s a true sweetheart.

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your books?

I would like to do an audiobook, but I haven’t made any solid effort in that direction yet. I welcome all the suggestions.

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?

I don’t really follow any audiobook narrators. If I were to find a studio here in Nashville to record it, I might hire my daughter who is 16 and a talented actress. I think she would sound great as Heidi.

Do you illustrate your own books?

My book isn’t illustrated, but I did the cover myself. I found an image from stock art for Heidi. Then I ran it through a program to make it look like a drawing instead of a photo. I used a background image of the iconic Autism puzzle pieces and changed the color to a more muted tone. The book takes place in the fall at school, so I wanted the puzzle pieces to appear a little like falling leaves. I put it all together on Canva.

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

I have many and the list grows. I have to admit I was inspired to write by Judy Blume and Louise Fitzhugh (Harriet the Spy – my favorite book in 6th grade). Current authors that blow me away consistently are my Nashville SCBWI friends: Tracy Barrett, Ruta Sepetys, Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, and Sharon Cameron, (among others).

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

Not really. When I’m really under a deadline, I have to get away from the internet, so sometimes I’ll drive somewhere and write at a park or in my car, so I don’t have the option of going online.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

It’s very difficult. I have a full-time job as a teacher, and I’m a parent and wife. Writing time is precious. I tend to do promotion stuff on weeknight evenings after work (and sneak in a tweet or two during the day at work), and I do my writing in sprints on the weekends. For this reason I’m a little slower than most indie authors at getting new work out.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

Congratulations to all the 2017 winners. It takes a lot of courage and determination to write a book and then just a smidge more to enter a contest. I think an award for a book is a nice validation for hard work and effort. I hope for readers, it is seen as a marker that these books are worth their time. For my part, I feel certain that if the issues of bullying and special needs are dear to your heart, you will enjoy the story and message of No One Needed to Know.

Author Bio

D. G. Driver likes to write about diverse people dealing with social or environmental issues, but she likes to include a touch of fantasy or fun, too. She primarily writes middle grade and young adult fiction. She is the award-winning author of the YA eco-fiction series The Juniper Sawfeather Novels, which includes Cry of the Sea, Whisper of the Woods, and Echo of the Cliffs. She has stories in a variety of anthologies, and her newest book is a middle grade story about bullying and Autism awareness called No One Needed to Know. When she isn’t writing, she is teaching, performing in a local community theater musical, or probably watching TV.

Connect with D. G. Driver on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, Goodreads, and her website.

Award-Winning Book

Heidi was trying to keep a secret. Her brother, Donald, is 16 and Autistic. She has always loved playing with him, but now she’s 11 and her life is changing. She’s embarrassed to have Donald around and tries not to tell anyone about him. High school boys bully him. When the kids at her school find out about him, she starts getting bullied, too. It’s not fair. No one seems to understand what she’s going through.

But Heidi needs to understand, too. She can’t change her brother, but she can change how she feels about him, and she can get people to see why her brother is special.

“Author D.G. Driver’s No One Needed to Know touches on many of the issues encountered by siblings of special needs kids. A book which will appeal to a broad audience, readers of all ages will appreciate Heidi’s story.” Literary Classics Book Awards

This book is available on Amazon (print ed.) and the Schoolwide Inc. Zing! Digital Library (ebook ed.). Learn more at www.dgdriver.com/no-one-needed-to-know.html.

Read more about the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest winners on my Interviews page and the Literary Classics website.

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Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, Jacqui Letran

Jacqui Letran is the author of 5 Simple Questions to Reclaim Your Happiness!the Gold winner in the Young Adult Self-Help category of the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest.

Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing?

Thank you so much! It is truly an honor to be recognized by such a reputable company as Children Literary Classics. I started writing professionally in 2014.

What’s the target age group for your books?

Although the content in my book applies to anyone, whether young or old, I wrote this book specifically for readers aged from 12 to their early 20’s. While writing, I imagine my readers reading the book in hope of discovering ways to let go of their emotional burdens, feel good about themselves, and trying to create better, more connected relationships. I wanted readers to be able to apply the content they are learning immediately so I wrote it in an easy to understand style, and included exercises through out the book to help readers work out some of their own concerns. I hope my books help readers gain insights, feel more in control of their feelings, and have the courage to let go of their pain and choose happiness instead.

What inspired your award-winning book?

I never entertained the idea of being an author until my clients kept requesting that I share my work in writing. I am blessed to have a private practice helping people take control of their lives by taking control of their thoughts and feelings.  I believe in helping people overcome their problems and giving them the tools to be their own source of strength and power. So with each client, I would teach them about their mind and how to take control of it to create the happiness and successes they deserve.  I provide a lot of new information to digest so my clients would ask for a written summary.  After repeatedly hearing this request, the most logical thing to do was write a book.  As the book evolved, I became more excited. I realized how important books were to me when I was a teen in need of help, and here was my chance to pay it forward.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

This is not about one of the characters in my book, but about the book itself.

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Buddha

I know it’s a bit dramatic, but when you think about it that way, it becomes silly to hang onto anger or other toxic emotions, when you can choose happiness instead.

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your books?

5 Simple Questions to Reclaim Your Happiness! is the first of three books in the “Words of Wisdom for Teens” series. It is not available as an audio book yet, but that is in the works.  The second book in the series, I would, but my DAMN MIND won’t let me! won Literary Classics’ Top Honor Award for Young Adult Non-Fiction as well as a Gold Medal in 2016.  This book is available in eBook, paperback, and audio.

Who would you cast as the voice actor to narrate your book? 

If I could cast anyone to narrate my book, I would choose Emma Watson.  She is a beautiful, strong, and talented young woman with a lovely voice.  I admire her acting, and her activism for gender equality.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I’m not sure if this is a quirk, but I have to write my books by hand.  I discovered early in my writing attempts that if I typed my book, I would spend too much time editing as I wrote, instead of just allowing the concept to flow freely into form. By writing it out by hand, my ideas are able to flow freely and the process is much more enjoyable.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

Book promotion is a must if you want to have success as a writer.  I schedule time for interviews, workshops, and other book promotion activities just as I would schedule time to see clients or work on other aspects of my business.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

To my readers, even though it might not feel like it at times, the struggles you’re currently going through will pass.  You are stronger than you know and you have everything within you to overcome your challenges and become an even stronger person.  Believe in yourself.  Be true to yourself.  You deserve a happy, successful life.

To my fellow award-winning authors, it is such an honor to be among a group of truly talented writers.

Author Bio

Jacqui Letran is a Multi-Award Winning Author, International Speaker, Nurse Practitioner, and Founder of Teen Confidence Academy and Healing Minds. She is passionate about her commitment to guiding her clients to achieve remarkable success in their academic, personal, and professional lives. Through private sessions, group workshops, and keynote engagements, Jacqui teaches that success and happiness are achievable by all, regardless of current struggles and circumstances. A gifted and energetic leader, Jacqui dedicates her life’s work to helping her clients and students transform into happy, confident, and successful people.

She is also the winner of the:
2017 Literary Classics’ Gold Medal for Young Adult Self-Help Books
2016 Literary Classics’ Lumen Award for Literary Excellence
2016 Literary Classics’ Gold Medal for Youth Adult Non-Fiction
2016 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Award for Young Adult Non-Fiction

When not working with clients or writing, you can find her traveling in her RV, hiking with her dog or spoiling her three cats. She currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Connect with her on Facebook and on Instagram at Instagram.com/WOW4Teens and Instagram.com/MsLetran.

Award-Winning Book

Winner of the 2017 Literary Classics’ International Book Award’s Gold Medal for Best Young-Adult Self-Help book.

Are you tired of endless fights and misunderstandings between you and the people you care about? Do you feel like no matter what you say or do, you just can’t get anyone to understand you? Do you feel powerless, or as though it is easier hanging on to grudges and negativity than to continue struggling?

In this powerful book, Award-Winning Author and Teen Confidence Expert, Jacqui Letran, teaches you how to use five simple questions to transform your relationships from those filled with tension and frustration to those complete with trust and acceptance.

In this book, you will discover:

• How to identify your feelings
• How to understand why you feel as you do
• How to let go of your unwanted emotion
• How to create win-win situations, enhance and rebuild your relationships, and much more!

If you want to be in control of your feelings, and to let go of things easily, this book is for you. This compact guide is filled with simple tips and easy-to-follow techniques.

Get your copy today and get ready to reclaim your happiness and create amazing relationships for life!

“Valuable insight and unique perspectives allow readers to approach their concerns from a profound new angle in an effort to resolve issues and pave the way for a happier and more fulfilling life.” Literary Classics Book Awards

This book is available on Amazon.

I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I have!

Read more about the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest winners on my Interviews page and the Literary Classics website.

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Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, Danielle A. Vann

Two of Vann’s novels won awards in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! The Whizbang Machine, Book 1, won Silver in Preteen (11+), and Tunney’s Curse, Book 2, won Gold, also in Preteen.

Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a child—seriously! I was the kid that stayed up all night reading and writing. I started writing intensely in high school. I had an English teacher that pushed me to write more, be better, focus. She submitted one of my pieces to a contest called Wings of Freedom. It won and was displayed in the White House and then the later in the halls of Congress. It inspired me to keep writing. I selected journalism in college so that I could write daily. I knew that being an author was ultimately where I would finish my professional career. Roughly ten years ago I shifted my focus and started to write for the commercial market. Since then, I have five traditionally published books to my credit.

What’s the target age group for your books?

I’ve been very fortunate to not be stuck in a genre. I have two children’s picture books series, a non-fiction Christian book with friend and celebrity carpenter, Brandon Russell, and then the Young Adult series, The Whizbang Machine, book 1 and The Whizbang Machine, Tunney’s Curse, Book 2, that placed silver and gold in the CLC awards. I’m the mother of three children ranging in ages from 12 ½ to 5. I began to notice that my older daughters were struggling to find engaging, clean series for their age groups. I wrote The Whizbang series free of sexual content, extreme violence, etc. I wanted to give them a book they could read without being exposed to questionable behaviors. I too wanted it to be a series that children from ages 10 to college level could read as a part of classroom materials.

What inspired your award-winning books?

This is an easy one, and honestly something I like to refer to as serendipity.

One month before I was given the pleasure of signing my contract with the Waldorf Publishing team, my dear friend Erin snapped a photograph of an old Royal typewriter, seated in a beautiful tan and maroon case, which her family had been gifted. Knowing my affinity for antiques, especially those that deal with writing and literary works, she sent me a text one early Sunday morning with the words, “Look at what David’s father gave us.”

I hadn’t yet made my way out of bed as it was still very early. Hearing the familiar chime of my phone, I wondered who was texting me at that time. As the photo came through, with it came the idea for the first book. I sprang from bed and began outlining. Unbeknownst to Erin, that single photo became my muse. In honor of this gift, her oldest daughter became the basis for the character of Elizabeth Yale. The rest of the series has honestly taken on a life of its own. I write as it comes and once I start, it’s impossible to get the characters to stop finding their through my fingertips.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

Oh, I’m cringing but it’s true: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!” HA!

Elizabeth Yale tries to get out of the drama, but well, sadly, she’s a drama magnet.

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your book(s)?

I’m very lucky to have had Audible buy into the rights for Book 1 and Book 2 very early in the game. In fact, they were sold before book 2 was nothing more than a single chapter. The Whizbang Machine is available on Audible.com and it is also can be purchased in physical copy through Audible, Barnes and Noble, Target, and other select retailers. We are hopeful that Audible will continue supporting the Whizbang series and buy into book 3 and 4 soon.

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?

Bailey Carr is my voice actor for book 1 and book 2. She is an INCREDIBLE! She has many award-winning books to her credit. Working with her is easy and pleasurable. The exciting part is both Whizbang books are full of Dutch words as they are set in Leiden, the Netherlands. She has been amazing to make sure she brings to the table all she can in the way of correct pronunciation and inflection. Truly, Bailey is a star in her own right.

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

One of my favorite writers is Garth Stein. He is amazing. He brings a simplicity to the page that I would be so lucky to employ. I can’t help but marvel at his talent. My favorite book of his is called, The Art of Racing in the Rain. I loved the fact that they moved it over into YA and republished it. The minute they did I purchased a copy for my oldest daughter and forced her to read it. I’m happy to say she loved it as much I do and did.

Clearly, there are so many other masters of the craft such as J.K. Rowling. I love that she refuses to back down from long, somewhat complicated text and gives it her all. Readers, whether reluctant or not, are pulled into her spell. That, to me, is her true gift of magic.

Lastly, I’m a fan of Ridley Pearson. His Kingdom Keepers series is something I’ve read with my children. They eat up everything he writes. He, too, works to keep the scenes clean and accessible to the young and old. That is something we need more these days. I’m no prude, mind you, but I do believe in the magical time of childhood. There is plenty of time to muck it up later, both in life and in fiction.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

Actually no. I don’t think so. I am a straight from the book kind of girl. I work from a detailed outline. I stick to deadlines. I love quiet and no music while writing. If I am not feeling it, I walk away and come back. End of story. Kind of boring if you ask me. The scene is all the noise I need. Oh, I guess I do bounce my legs like I’m running a timed marathon when the action is happening. That’s quirky, I guess.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

Oh boy, this is the million dollar questions, isn’t it?! Well, since I’m traditionally published the weight of promotion doesn’t fall directly on my shoulders. I have a wonderful team that backs what I do. Don’t get me wrong, I do a ton of my own. I write in the morning between 5 a.m. and roughly 10 a.m. every single day except for Sunday. I work for a publisher as the marketing specialist so I do my day job after that, and make sure I’m available to my family when and where they need me. That is, if I’m not traveling. However, they have been very lucky to travel with me as well.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

Absolutely! To the readers, thank you! I truly know that without someone to read my work what I do is meaningless. Truly, it is. I am always thrilled to hear from readers. I love it when they attend my events and speak about different scenes or even about the impact one of my books had on them. That truly is amazing to me. Oftentimes I feel that they know my work better than I know it! And for that, I’m so grateful. I welcome anyone to reach out through my social media sites and open a productive and positive conversation.

To my fellow award-winning authors, CONGRATS! Congrats! I recently was in Paris at another awards ceremony and while I was speaking I was able to say something that I truly believe in. And that is, writing is the intersection of determination and passion. I didn’t say talent and luck. I said determination and passion. Because, you see, I believe that once you have placed your intention and goals on what you love, passion sparks talent and luck is nothing but hard work in the making.

Author Bio and Award-Winning Books

Danielle A. Vann started her career as a television news writer at the tender age of 18. With a passion for writing Vann committed to learning every aspect of the newsroom as she worked her way up to reporter and anchor within two short years. After graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma she took an anchor position in Louisiana. Her career as a reporter and anchor earned her an Associate Press Award. Her book genres span a wide-range from children’s books with two highly reviewed series, award-winning YA fiction, and five star non-fiction title. Danielle lives in Texas with her husband and three children.

Connect with Vann on Twitter, Facebook, and her website.

After years of running from his tragic past, Jack Yale books a flight home. With him is a typewriter that is intended to be a gift for his granddaughter, Elizabeth. The minute Elizabeth’s fingers cradle the large black and cream keys the machine responses: popping, sizzling, and roaring to life with a Whiz-Whiz-BANG!

Elizabeth quickly discovers the typewriter has powers beyond anything she has ever seen. The more she types, the more the machine spells out guarded secrets. Each secret leads them deeper into a haunted past. Each secret must be revealed in order to set history straight and remove a curse that has been on their family for centuries.

To solve the mystery, Elizabeth Yale, alongside Jack, will have to crack the code of the Whizbang Machine. What they find challenges their most basic assumptions of their family, the history of the typewriter, and even Elizabeth’s father’s death. The ultimate goal is to remove the curse. The question is: will Jack and Elizabeth be able to carry out their mission?

“The Whizbang Machine is an incredibly suspenseful book which will have readers of all ages eagerly turning pages with enthusiasm as they wait to see what will become of Elizabeth and her eccentric grandfather, Jack.” Literary Classics Book Awards

Amazon ~ Target ~ Barnes&Noble

“The Whizbang Machine, Tunney’s Curse” finds Elizabeth Yale clinging to life. Her plan to save the Whizbang machine has backfired. As her grandfather, Jack, feverishly works to save her, the Whizbang factory begins to topple down around them. Narrowly escaping, the pair realizes the Whizbang machine is missing. Jack and Elizabeth must follow the clues Elizabeth’s deceased father, Jesse, left behind to unravel the secrets of Tunney’s Curse and stop it once and for all. This must be done before Elizabeth’s mother’s 40th birthday—which is mere days away. As they dig, they are sent on a wild chase into the dark underbelly of the Netherlands, into the city’s canals looking for a sunken ship, and through the private chambers of a Queen. Each new secret exposed only deepens the mystery of Jack and Elizabeth’s family’s past. The ultimate questions remain: will they gather the clues and stop the curse in time? Or will someone fall to the curse once and for all?

“Recommended for home and school libraries, The Whizbang Machine: Tunney’s Curse is a dynamic fantasy adventure with mystery, action, suspense and intrigue.” Literary Classics Book Awards

Amazon ~ Target ~ Barnes&Noble

Read more about the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest winners on my Interviews page and the Literary Classics website.

TALKBOOKS INTERVIEW WITH DAVID F. SNIDER

A warm welcome to SBW TalkBooks’ author of the month for March 2016, David F. Snider. The group read and interviewed him about his sci-fi novel, Stars in the Deep: Destiny, at its live author event. Continue reading to learn more about David and his writing, as well as what he thinks makes for a good story.

David Snider Stars in the Deep DestinyBook Description

When the NAVCOM Computer takes the ECS Destiny irretrievably off course, the crew and colonists on board must find an alternative world to colonize. In order to save the one way mission from catastrophic failure they must overcome various obstacles from within and without. Woven into the story are themes of love, hope, forgiveness and restoration, human spirituality and its potential parallels.

What inspired you to write a story about colonizing humans in space?

As a kid I was a crazy sci-fi nut. I remember taking a road trip in Christmas of 2009 and thinking about all different kinds of ideas. This one caught me. I’d tried several times to write and couldn’t get it off the ground; this one I couldn’t put down.

Space colonization has always been an area of interest for me. It is something we, as a race, must accomplish, if for no other reason than to ‘see what’s out there.’ I have another possible story arc which I may revive that explores colonization from different angles.

The beginnings of the idea for Stars in the Deep: Destiny started with the question: what if we had a society that developed under the ocean—a colonization of a water city? But the story took on a life of its own, with a ship the size of a cruise liner with 2,500 on board, including the crew.

Who are your favorite sci-fi authors and influences?

To name a few: Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Andre (Alice) Norton, Piers Anthony, and Frank Herbert. I like books that are very much about world-building. Personally, I like to write larger works rather than shorts.

How did you go about producing and publishing Stars in the Deep? Was the MS submitted to agents?

The production process was long and arduous. I started writing the book in 2009. I finished the long process of writing and rewriting in 2012, but I never thought I’d have so much trouble getting it looked at. After a year of trite replies of “sorry, we aren’t looking for this kind of thing right now…” from countless agents (claiming to do science fiction), I decided to try self-publishing.

In 2013, I released the first edition through CreateSpace under my own label, Starhome Books. It wasn’t a bad first try, but it lacked a good copy edit. Xlibris, a member of the Author Solutions organization, released the second edition. The book benefited from a reasonably decent copy edit, and the original cover art was tweaked a little. The new edition also includes a glossary, which I felt was quite necessary.

How did you invent a language based upon Sanskrit for your group of native inhabitants in your book?

Sanskrit is an ancient language that used to be a common, everyday language back in India, and which was used for early religious writings. I wanted to create something that seemed alien with an element of believability taken from history, which I believe gives a sense of familiarity. Sanskrit is mostly academic at this point. Online, I found a Sanskrit and Tamil to English dictionary, and I took the words I wanted for names that reflected the characters’ occupations, as well as ordinals and months.

Was it difficult for you to create a bad character?

It was hard putting myself in that role. I feel like I need to identify with the characters, and I feel sorry for my villains—like I’ve treated them badly. I even turned one of my villains around. The philosophical stuff that crept into the story wasn’t predetermined; but I found it sort of worked and figured out how it fit into the story.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I first started reading seriously in the fourth grade. Science fiction caught me, and I didn’t stop reading from then on. I’ve wanted to write since I was married. I’m a musician who plays piano and organ (anything with keyboard attached), and I went to school, graduating with a BA in music and a BA in ministry. My college professors suggested that I write, but I didn’t feel I had the time.

When do you write?

I’m a VTA driver, and back in the day I could type during breaks. But they’ve changed the rules since then. So, I find time when I’m not working. The writing’s been on pause for a few months.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Writing is kind of new for me. I also enjoy music and woodwork.

What does your family think of your writing?

I had a habit of reading to my five children, who got to hear the book in progress. My wife also heard the whole thing and thought it would make a good graphic novel.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I was surprised that sitting down and writing a story could absorb you so much. I created characters as I went along, and they grew on me.

This is the first book of a series. When will the next one come out?

I’m writing book 2 now, and there’s no anticipated release date. The characters decided the book should be different. I’m also looking for more beta readers. I hope to have Shining One out by year’s end.

What’s your writing process?

I have another story that I tried to write using the traditional outlining process. But I found that, for me it flows better and I have more fun freewriting to create all the characters.

What do you think makes a good story?

I need to like the characters; and I like a blend of action and thought provoking talk. I don’t like books where there’s action and nothing else. The story needs to feel like it could be real.

Author Bio

I am, after all, somewhat the normal average kind of person, though a few might beg to differ.  I was born and raised in San Jose, California, USA.  For those unfamiliar with California geography, San Jose is situated in Santa Clara County at the very bottom end of the San Francisco Bay. I attended Elementary, Middle and High school, all within moderately lengthy walking distance of each other. After High school, I moved to Santa Cruz, California for a couple of years to attend College.  There, I made a number of very good friends. One of those friendships became so close it became a strong union which has lasted 35 years and counting.  She and I are the proud parents of 5 children, all adults now.  We are also proud grandparents of one young lad of 2.

The greatest love in my life, next to my God and my Wife, ​​is Music.  I began piano at about 5 years old, switched to the accordion at the age of 6.  I mastered the accordion by late High School and studied music in college, where I earned a Bachelors for my troubles. So, I play, sing, read, write, arrange, and conduct music.  It has been the air I breathe for nearly my whole life.

Recently, I finally owned up to the fact that it is possible to be passionate about more than one gift.  I avoided the writing side of my skill set because of my full concentration on my music.  ​All the advice and urging of friends, family and professors I’ve had over the years went in one ear and ‘mostly’ out the other.  Then one day, with the echoes of all that urging rolling around in my head, I just decided.  Why not?  So, my computer and numerous spiral bound writing pads have become full of numerous story ideas in various stages of development.

Connect with David on:

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7157769.David_F_Snider

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/david.snider.528     

His website: HTTP://WWW.STARSINTHEDEEP-DESTINY.COM

Interview of Patty Fletcher

I have not yet read the work of today’s interviewee, but I’m inspired by her story. Patty Fletcher is the author of Campbell’s Rambles, a memoir about how she obtained her guide dog, Campbell. Learn more about this author’s writing and her international publication that features work by blind and sighted writers from around the world.

When did you first start writing?

I began to seriously write when I was in the sixth grade, and my parents bought me an electric typewriter for Christmas. I’d had a semester of typing by then because I attended the Tennessee School For the Blind and Physically Handicap in Nashville, TN at the time, and it was a required class. Their belief was this, “According to the sighted world at large you already have one strike against you, so your goal is to show them different any way you can.”

I sat right down upon opening the gift, put in a sheet of paper from the pack that had come with it, and began to compose a short story. My mother had made chocolate covered coconut balls for Christmas that year, and I began to munch on one as I thought, and soon I was typing away. When I finished there was a crazy funny fictional story about a coconut ball that had been sprayed with chemicals from the nearby Eastman Chemical Company and had grown to a large size, come to life and was beginning to take over the town.

I knew right then that writing was something I wanted to do. I’ve never looked back. I wrote short stories for extra credit in English Lit any time I could and was always the one asked to tell stories at all the camp out trips I went on, and simply love all things writing.

What is your primary genre?

Although my first ever type written short story was one of fiction, my primary genre is nonfiction. I love to write about what I do. I love to write of my life, and all the awesome, terrifying, wonderful, and sometimes horrifying things around me.

What do you hope to communicate to your readers?

I want to make the reader feel what I feel, and see the way I do.

When I write my goal is to take the reader straight in to my experience. I want them to laugh with me, cry with me and feel my anger fear, joy, and sorrow.

I want them to know what it is to truly be me. I want them to know blindness and mental illness does not have to always be a sad way of life but holds many awesome adventures. Yes, sometimes they’re frightening. Sometimes Campbell and I have the strangest calamities befall us, but we don’t sweat them too hard, and usually before they’re even over I’m already rolling a story round in my head and simply cannot wait to get back to my laptop to write it all down.

You also have a magazine called The Neighborhood News. Where did you come up with the idea, and what’s the magazine about?

The Neighborhood News came to be after an editor of an online magazine I was writing for at the time, and I had a difference of opinion that led to an argument between the two of us during which she said to me rather nastily, “Well if you don’t like how we do things, why don’t you go create a magazine of your own?” I immediately stopped writing for her, and then with the assistance of my then book editor The Neighborhood News was born. It was a slow process, the title changed a couple of times, and the content as well. Finally, the editor I had then and I seemed to for whatever reason be growing apart, and after much discussion with and with support from a writing group I belonged to at the time, and due to the kindness of my now editor, Claire, The Neighborhood News began to evolve and grow. It is a monthly magazine filled with both advertisements, news worthy events concerning what the readers themselves are up to and literary submissions from folks both blind and sighted around the nation and world. Yes we even have readers in other countries.

The mission of The Neighborhood News? Simple!

I want to create a safe place for people to learn and grow together. A ‘Neighborhood’ if you will, of people who are connected but unique in their own way as well.

A place where I can not only share what I learn and know, but where the people living in ‘Neighborhoods’ all over the world can write in and talk about what they know, and what they’re learning of, and doing as well.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

Do I have quirky writing habits? Wow! Do I!

First off I write at the oddest times. I sometimes wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, a thought will cross my mind about a particular book I am working on, blog post, or an idea for The Neighborhood News, and next thing I know even if it is only an hour since I went off to bed, I’m up, making coffee, and writing away.

My other habit that some feel is quirky is that I do my very best writing off the cuff. My truest and best writing is done on impulse, with no plan forethought draft, nothing. Just sit down write it spell check it and it’s done. People don’t seem to understand how I can write so much at one time, but it’s just my way.

I guess I do have a couple more weird things, one is, when I get extremely in to what I’m writing I tend to wrap the ends of my hair round my fingers while proof reading, and when I’m deeply involved with the writing process I hold my bottom lip in my teeth.

The man I occasionally keep time with says he knows when he sees me at the computer, and my hair is wrapped round the ends of my fingers, and my bottom lip is firmly held in my teeth, he has lost me for at least an hour or two, and lucky for him he respects it, because I do not like to be interrupted when I’m on a roll.

Do you keep a regular diary or journal?

Absolutely! The majority of my current book, Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life* came straight out of a journal I kept while the events written of were going on, and almost all of my blog entries in Campbell’s World are straight journalings. Nothing more nothing less. It’s just my way.

Where’s your favorite place to write?

I have two favorite places. The first is in my favorite chair in the living room. I am actually in it now. It is comfortable I can keep all the things I like to have with me easily to hand on a table next to me, and be involved with activity around me. I moved my desk in to the living room too, and if the room is filled with people sometimes I’ll sit at my desk, with a document open and write about what’s going on.

This however changes in summer. I have a porch swing, and I love nothing better on lazy summer evenings after the sun goes down, and folks get out on their front porches, and do what I call “Front Porch Sitting” to sit and listen to what’s going on around me and write.

It is the best time ever in the world for me to simply curl up in the swing with my laptop Campbell stretched lazily at my feet, and write a few great chapters, or work on some article for The Neighborhood News.

Where’s your favorite place to read?

I love to read while taking a long hot soak in the tub. I read mainly via audio books and so reading while in the tub is no hardship for me, just tap tap the BARD AP or Kindle AP and I’m on my way to other worlds.

If you had to choose one of your books to be adapted for film, which one would it be?

I have only one book published thus far, but if I could have it made in to a movie I’d be truly in ecstasy! I can’t think of much else that would take me to that kind of level of happiness. I sometimes sit and try to figure out what actor I’d have play my Seeing Eye instructor, Drew Gibbon. I have to smile just writing it. I dream of it often.

If you could spend one day in the life of one of your characters, who would it be and why?

If I could be one of the characters in my book I’d have to be Campbell. I’d really like to know what is in his mind. I’d like to know if what I believe to be is really so. He seems so very satisfied being a guide dog, but then again, he had no real choice, and other than his behavior and body language I haven’t a clue how to know what is in his mind, but … Would I really want to?

He might think me the silliest lady on the planet, but somehow I don’t think so. He really does come to life when the harness comes out and we are on our way out the door.

Still, I’d love to have his perspective on things.

*Legal Notes: THE SEEING EYE® and SEEING EYE® are registered trademarks of The Seeing Eye, Inc. See: www.SeeingEye.org

IMG_0060Patty L. Fletcher lives in Kingsport, TN, where she worked for nine years at CONTACT–CONCERN of Northeast Tennessee, Inc.  She now writes full time.

Her autobiographical book is Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life (C 2014). There, she tells how she obtained her first guide dog from The Seeing Eye® in Morristown, NJ: what motivated her, the extensive training she had, and the good friends she made.

For more details about her and her book, including where to purchase the book in e-book or print format go to: www.dvorkin.com/pattyfletcher/

To see her blog and newly updated website go to http://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/

Join me at the Speculative Fiction Cantina today!

S. Evan Townsend will interview Kevin M. Craft and me about our books on a radio show this afternoon (6pm EST, 3pm PST). Join us for SFF writing talk and live readings of our work!

Listen to the show: http://ow.ly/QG15E
Call in to ask questions: (347) 945-7246

TalkBooks Interview with R. L. King

Today I’m excited to feature R. L. King, author of The Alastair Stone Chronicles. This June, SBW TalkBooks read the first book of the series, Stone and a Hard Place. Learn more about King and her writing below!

Book Description

It’s hard enough for Alastair Stone to keep his two lives—powerful mage and mundane Occult Studies professor—separate without an old friend asking him to take on a new apprentice. Especially after a university colleague wants him to investigate a massive old house for things that go bump in the night. Still, Stone figures it’s an easy job: just turn up, put on a little show, and announce that the house is clean.

Only it isn’t. A malevolent spirit is reawakening in the basement, imprisoned between dimensions and intent on escape. If it succeeds, countless people will die. Worse, a trio of dark mages want to help it break free so they can control it for their own sinister purposes. They’ll do whatever it takes—including seducing Stone’s young apprentice and using him against his master—to get what they’re after.

With time running out, Stone has to stay alive long enough to uncover the spirit’s secrets. But even if he does, he fears that his own power won’t be enough to send it back.

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

What is your elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch needs that catchy line. I’m good at back cover blurbs but not at pitches. That’s something I think I really need to work on.

How did you happen to write this book?

I’ve always liked magic, but I’m not a big fan of traditional medieval fantasy. I like the idea of magic in the modern world, but I didn’t want to use all of the same tropes that appear in so many urban fantasy books. For example, everybody and his dog does vampires and werewolves—I didn’t want to do that.

Stone, your Mage, practices magic on par with Harry Potter and the wizards at Hogwarts. How did you learn about the magic used in your book?

Harry Potter was not my inspiration. I made up the magic system used in the book while I built Alastair Stone’s paranormal world. People tell me that my books remind them a little of the Dresden Files, which is funny because I hadn’t read any of those books until after I wrote two in my own series. I’ve since read them and I love them.

How long did it take for you to write this book?

Two or three months. I try to write every day. During one month, I wrote 90,000 words, but I don’t keep up that pace all the time.

This book is part of a series. How many books (of the series) have you written?

I have written five of the books in the series. The second one came out this week, and the third just came back from the editor. I’ve got one more finished in first draft, another that I’ve started, and ideas for at least five more.

Do you think of the whole story at once, or do you do part of it and let the character suggest what happens next?

My books are character driven. If people don’t like the characters, they’re not going to read the book. I like to use the same characters. I know where the book starts, where I want it to end, and roughly what needs to happen to get there, but I let the characters do what they do in the middle when possible.

What are your thoughts on publishing?

The more I found out about traditional publishing, the more I knew I wanted to have final control. I am self-published but I use professionals’ services to help me make the best book I can: good editor, good cover design. I used CreateSpace for my paperbacks, and everything went way better than I expected. Most of my sales are in ebook format, though, through Amazon.

TalkBooks Interview with Doctor Jac

SBW TalkBooks read two books by South Bay Writers members in the month of June. Today’s feature is Rough Waters by Doctor Jac. Read more about the book and the group’s live Q&A below!

Book Description

Michael grew up in a small town but always had his eye on something big. He wasn’t sure what to do with his life until he joined the Navy and found his place in the world.

Professionally, he falls in with Navy intelligence. He infiltrates China for secret information and leads a successful mission to Vietnam. He uncovers fraud within the officer ranks and exposes black market thieving of government property.

Personally, Michael struggles for years before finding true love. He travels extensively through Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. He lives a life of passion and excitement but always remembers the small town boy he once was. Michael is a man with dreams and the passion to follow them, even into the path of danger.

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

The book seems to have three distinct parts: Michael grew up in a small town; Michael falls in with Navy intelligence; Michael struggles for years to find true love. What is the most important theme in your book?

I have rewritten the story regarding Navy intelligence as The Spy from Nowhere. The memoir will be treated differently.

How much of this book is true but disguised as a memoir?

Much of the book is true, but not all. In my new book, The Spy from Nowhere, I took out the memoir part, the first two chapters. The Spy is the first of a series; the second is Grace Under Fire.

What is your elevator speech? What do you tell someone who asks what your book is about?

The book is the story of a young man from a small town who escapes to the real world.

What is your background?

In 1959, I started in business: sales and marketing. My experiences in sales and marketing carry over to selling books. There are four kinds of people:

Innovators: 10%;
Early Adopters—they copy innovators: 20%;
Mainstream—the average Joe: 60%; and
Zombies—they have trouble, just getting up in the morning: 10%.

I market to the first 30%.

What’s your writing background?

I am an experienced nonfiction writer with 14 books published over the past 30 years. This is my first venture into fiction. I read everything I can about fiction writing and then pick up what makes sense for me. I’ve got a lot to learn.