“Kernels – Stories” Author Interview

I recently helped Mary Behan publish her third book – a collection of short stories.

Back Blurb: This debut collection of short stories by author Mary Behan showcases her relentless curiosity and insight into the human condition, and displays her considerable talent for evoking an emotional reaction in the reader.  In settings ranging from Ireland to Iowa, from Norway to New York and beyond, her characters embark on journeys that leave them indelibly changed. These are tales of loss and pleasure, of poignant relationships and chance encounters. Reading Kernels, one experiences heart wrenching moments of sorrow intertwined with unexpected surprises of joy and comfort.

A question and answer with Mary

Where did you grow up and how has this influenced your writing?

My first 25 years were spent in Ireland, a country where language is everything. Reading was a huge part of my life, not just in boarding school but also at home. I remember saying to my mother that I was bored one wet afternoon during the summer holidays. Her reply — part censure, part challenge, part encouragement — was instructive. “Don’t you have a book to read?” she said.

The Irish are good at conversation. It’s often said that ‘talk’ in Ireland is a combat sport! We love to tell a good story, so it’s not surprising that I turned to writing when I had the time.

How did Kernels come about?

I had just finished writing my first novel, A Measured Thread, a 3-year journey that left me feeling elated but at the same time spent. After it was published I found that I didn’t have a clear idea for a second novel. I didn’t want to stop writing, so I came up with a plan: I would write a short story every month for a year, get some feedback from beta readers, and eventually one story would rise to the top and become the candidate for my next novel. I remember pitching the idea to a group of friends at a local coffee shop after Yoga practice, telling them this was an experiment as I had never written a short story before. Several of them volunteered to be beta readers for which I am immensely grateful.

The first story, Dangerous Building, was written in October, 2019. I sent out the final story, All That Glitters is not Gold, to my beta readers in December, 2020. Missing the deadline didn’t seem very important at the time, especially with Covid-19 all around. I gathered my beta readers’ comments each month but held off reading them until January, 2021. That’s when I began to revise the stories. Some revisions were easy but others more challenging, especially when two or three readers disliked the same part of a story, or suggested a completely different direction that required a major rewrite. Towards the end of March, I had the makings of a book and that’s when I approached Christine. She liked many of my stories, but challenged me with some unexpected questions about others. More revisions ensued over the next couple of months, and I could see the improvements. I’m very pleased with the way the stories have turned out. 

Where did you get your ideas for the stories?

The first story I wrote, Dangerous Building, had been lurking in the back of my mind for a long time. It was a place I remembered from childhood, a big country house where my sister and I went to play during the summer holidays with the three kids who lived there. I suppose I must have been 9 or 10 or thereabouts. The place has lingered in my mind for the last 60 years. About five years ago when I was back in Ireland, I went to see it. The description of the house and its surroundings is completely accurate, but the rest is pure fabrication. I needed a story. That’s when the magic of story-telling took over. It was such a powerful feeling: to create characters, have them interact, give them a voice. There’s a tiny kernel of truth in the story, but not much more.

As the months went by I found that about three quarters of the way through each story a new idea would pop into my head, almost demanding to take over. On the last day of each month I would send out a finished story, and force myself to take a week’s break so that the new one could sort itself before I began to type. During a long walk or a bike ride or a solitary drive I’d find the pieces of the story beginning to assemble themselves into a coherent arc.

What is your next project?

I don’t think that any of the short stories have the makings of a novel. Mind you, several of my beta readers disagree with me. That’s encouraging, so maybe I’ll change my mind in a year or two. Interestingly, as I was writing these stories I began to entertain the idea of writing a sequel to A Measured Thread. That hadn’t been my plan at all, and I was somewhat taken aback. I have an outline in my head: a beginning for certain, and a rough idea of an ending. But the middle is less clear. It’s going to be a hard book to write, not just structurally but also emotionally. So, I’m putting it aside for now; I’ll know when I’m ready. 

My sister and I wrote a memoir about our childhood in Ireland, especially our time together at boarding school, called Abbey Girls. We had such a wonderful time wandering through our childhood that we are going to write another memoir together, Travels with Mick. Our father, Mick Behan, had a delightful and quixotic approach to travel that each of us experienced both as children and adults. We have a treasure trove of letters, diaries and photographs to dig into, and will laugh endlessly as we combine our memories into a story for everyone who knew him and those who wished they had.

Will you write more short stories?

When I began to write short stories for Kernels, several of my beta readers asked who were my favorite writers in this genre. I had to admit that I didn’t read short stories, preferring full-length novels. It seemed foolish not to dip into some of the well-known writers in the genre so I read James Joyce, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, William Trevor and Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). I read stories in the New Yorker Magazine and American short Fiction. Oddly enough the exercise was unsatisfactory, perhaps because I couldn’t see my own stories reflected in any of theirs. Recently a friend suggested reading stories by Guy De Maupassant, and it was there I found a kindred spirit who will eventually lure me back to writing more.

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If you’re interested in getting Mary’s new book or connect with Mary, below are the links.

Amazon  

Goodreads (paperback and e-book)  

Barnes and Noble (paperback and NOOK)  

Smashwords  

Apple Books  

Rekuten Kobo  

Mary’s previous booksAbbey Girls and A Measured Thread

 

CKBooks Publishing
Where Publishing Dreams Become Reality

Author Visit – Bill Ried

I’ve had Bill on my blog before, when he came out with his debut novel: Five Ferries.

Bill’s come out with his new book – Backstory – and it’s getting great reviews:

 “An original and deftly crafted novel that in an inherently riveting read from cover to cover, “Backstory” showcases author William Michael Ried’s genuine flair for the kind of narrative storytelling style that brings his characters to life and holds the reader’s rapt attention from first page to last.”

Midwest Book Review

Here is a little questions and answer with Bill.

How did you come up with the idea for Backstory and what does the book say about facts and truth?

The 2016 presidential election introduced us all to the concept of “fake news,” that truth was whatever candidate Trump said it was at the moment and anything else was fabricated to embarrass him. This struck me as straight out of George Orwell’s1984, where the Ministry of Truth “rectifies” historical records to accord with Big Brother’s current pronouncements.

I then thought about writing a novel about a character’s attempt to change his own history by altering someone else’s novel. I imagined six classmates and placed them in a setting twelve years prior to the current story, on the picturesque campus of Trinity College that has occupied the center of Dublin for hundreds of years. I then contrived to reunite the ex-classmates in 2016 in New York City, for one to start writing a novel based on their time together, and for another to see this will reveal secrets that must be kept hidden and contrive to alter the novel.

Once the characters occupied the setting, the story pretty much wrote itself and the characters sometimes surprised me. For example, I created Becca to fill a limited, supporting role, but she wrote herself in as another major character—and my favorite. But Backstory also illustrates the trap for the weak-minded in falling in line behind propagandists who try to revise facts to fit their self-interest. In the end, facts and truth do matter, in the history books as well as in the life of Ansel Tone. 

What authors inspire your work?

I suppose James Joyce, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Franz Kafka, Ernest Hemingway, James Fenimore Cooper and Charles Dickens are among the authors who have taught me most about writing. It is no coincidence the hero of Five Ferries reads works by or references these authors and sees Europe through the prism of their works.

I also enjoy modern novels by Caleb Carr and Hilary Mantel and so many others. In trying to craft Backstory as a literary novel with an element of mystery, I took inspiration from modern novels such as Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, Tana French’s The Witch Elm and Lexie Ellliot’s The French Girl, although I should also acknowledge Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary for the counterpoint structure of the Yankee Stadium chapter. 

How do you approach cover design?

For Five Ferries I started with the image of a hitchhiker, created by an artist friend from actual photographs. I submitted this to 99designs.com along with a brief summarizing the novel and images of book covers I liked. I immediately received submissions from lots of graphic artists, with whom I conversed in real time through the site. After six days I chose six designers for a final round and continued to review submissions and make suggestions. I finally picked a winning design and only then learned my designer, Colum Jordan, worked in Dublin. 

For Backstory, I repeated this process, in the end receiving 144 designs and variations from some 35 designers. For this book I provided the artists with no central image but did summarize the story and the settings. Unfortunately, I noted the story involves a beautiful woman and two high-end sports cars. Some of the submissions looked more appropriate for a romance novel or a muscle car magazine than a serious novel, so I revised the brief to eliminate women and cars. The winner, Mikhail Starikov d/b/a michaelstar*, actually had it right from the beginning, and he stood out for employing genuine artistry rather than simply applying a font to a stock image. When I chose this winner, I found that he works in Moscow, which led to discussions about Tolstoy and the war of 1812. 

As to fitting the cover design to technical specs for print and e-books, I rely upon my editor/publisher Christine Keleny at CKBooks Publishing. 

How do you research your novels?

Five Ferries started as a memoir, so the basic research was simply living the story. However, memories fade and after 30 years of writing I turned the book into a novel, which required a lot of research. The internet made this much easier; I no longer had to visit the library’s map room to locate a village or find photography books to describe a building. However, I realized I also needed a person native to each country through which my hero travels (England, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Wales and Ireland) to advise about geography, language and customs, as well as native speakers from other countries, to get the slang right. This led to extensive correspondence, one of the things I most enjoyed about writing the book.

Backstory is largely set in my backyard and peopled with Americans who talk like me, so the research was simpler. But the backstory within the novel is set at Trinity College in Dublin. I sent a blind email to the Literature Department at Trinity and found a faculty member who answered my questions and corrected my descriptions. Also, two of my characters drive high-end sports cars. I haven’t even owned car in fifteen years and so needed specific technical expertise. My cousin the engineer loved helping out, and enlisted a friend of his who works in a pit crew. I also found a friend to describe the work life of a university professor, another to counsel on New York criminal law, and a third to help with the perspective and dialect of a twenty-five-year-old woman. As to the study of propaganda, which relates to changing history and thus is part of the theme of the novel, I did the reading myself.

I find that people really enjoy contributing their expertise to a novel. They feel part of the creative process, which enriches the collaboration and makes it fun.

What’s next? I have nearly completed the first draft of my next novel, as yet untitled. It is the story of a young man who lives an entitled life until tragedy strikes and forces him to get by on his own. It marks my return to first-person narrative, which I hope will allow me to explore the emotional challenges the hero seeks to overcome. I’ve also had fun including a Australian Shepard as a character and creating a family compound occupying a large bluff on the southern coast of Maine. I hope to publish this book in early 2022.

Here are links to Bill’s book:

Amazon  

Smashwords 

Goodreads – paperback –  e-book 

Rekuten Kobo

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble NOOK

Google Play


Bill’s first book:

Bill’s first book: Five Ferries

Formula For Wealth – Author Interview

I work with authors all year in various capacities through my book publishing company: CKBooks Publishing.

I can help with editing (all types), print and ebook design and formatting (yes, books you read have to be designed and formatted by someone), cover design, or even publishing. For Alan James (pen name), it was all of the above. 

Since I am an author myself, I like to help my clients when I can by featuring them and their books. So Alan has answered a few questions for us about his debut book: Formula For Wealth, which has garnered a 5 star review from Reader’s Favorite, btw. Good going, Alan!

 

This is part of what the reviewer (Foluso Falaye from Reader’s Favorite) said:

Formula for Wealth by Alan James details realistic and measurable ways to achieve certain financial goals. As clearly stated by the author, it is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Rather, it is a book for the wealth builders who are willing to put in the effort and the time it takes.

A wide range of subjects that determine wealth is examined: personal finance, wealth management, spending habits, lifestyle choices, unplanned expenses, assets and liabilities, and much more.

As the title suggests, Formula for Wealth includes some calculations, which would help in mapping out plans with specific time frames for achieving financial goals. In his richly packed book about acquiring wealth, Alan James leaves nothing untouched.

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Some questions for Alan. 

Alan, how do you determine what your wealth is and what it can become?

You can know your wealth by calculating your net worth and you can use the equation for wealth to see what your wealth will become.

Can you determine how decisions that you are making will affect your wealth?

You can put the information into the equation for wealth to see the effect on your wealth. A couple of examples used in Formula For Wealth (link to amazon https://www.amazon.com/Formula-Wealth-Alan-James/dp/1949085341/) are buying a car and buying a house.

What prevents me from getting wealthier?

Decisions that you make and the actions that you take can prevent you from getting wealthier. The Formula For Wealth goes through factors like credit, instant gratification, and market pressure. It also provides tips for being successful implementing wise decisions.

What would it take to become a millionaire?

One way to become a millionaire is to invest about $100 a week into a retirement account where your employer matches your contribution and then when you get 10 percent return on your investment you will become a millionaire in less than 26 years.

Now, what about you? 

So why would I use some of my time during retirement to write a book? I had come up with a statement that simplified the equation for wealth and wanted to share it. I began to write a book to explain the equation for wealth and the simplified statement that I call the Formula for Wealth. When I begin a project, I find it very hard not to complete it, which helped to get my book available to help readers understand wealth.

Now that I am done writing my book, what will I do to keep busy? We moved to Arizona for retirement. I bought a house that needed some attention, so there are lots of chores to do. If there is not enough work around the house, there is be plenty of work around the church that can be done. I try to exercise regularly. My wife and I have taken up line dancing and we take the dog hiking. We are enjoying exploring the southwest, too.

Thanks, Alan. Enjoy your retirement!

A Measured Thread – Author Interview

I am happy to share some good news for Wisconsin author Mary Behan.

In this strange time she has managed to publish her first solo novel: A Measured Thread. Yeah!!
(Full disclosure: Mary was a client of mine. I helped her publish he book.)

Let’s hear from Mary:

Where did you grow up and how has this influenced your writing?

I’m born-and-bred Irish, emigrating to the USA at the age of twenty-five. The nuns who taught me over the course of twelve years put a great emphasis on writing and reading. In junior school it was all about handwriting. I remember ruled copybooks and the importance of keeping within the blue (lower case) and red (upper case) lines. We had dictation too, where the nun read aloud and we wrote in our copybooks with a pen dipped in ink. At high school we studied a canon of literature that included Nathaniel Hawthorne (Tanglewood Tales), Kenneth Graheme (the Wind in the Willows) and several Shakespearean plays, as well as poetry. Each week we had to write compositions — three-page stories — in English, French and Gaelic. My mother read to my sister and me from as early as I can remember, and encouraged us to read — something we both have continued throughout our lives. Literature is bred in the bone in Ireland, I think. We like words: speaking them, writing them, singing them, and the country has produced more than its share of Nobel laureates in literature.

What is A Measured Thread about?

My editor, Christine Keleny, asked me this question so many times throughout the four years I was writing A Measured Thread, and I think I gave her a new answer every time. On one level it’s about on old lady approaching the end of her life, who it trying to come to terms with a fateful decision she made fifty years earlier when she first emigrated to the USA from Ireland. Themes of guilt, abandonment and forgiveness weave their way through the story. But on another level the story is a homage to a sense of place, to finding a true ‘home’ — the ultimate treasure for an emigrant. I had to create a villain, Bill Breunig, in order to highlight Maggie’s dedication to the stewardship of her land. She knows that in the bigger scheme of things she is just passing through, but she wants to pass her land ethic on.

Where did you first get the idea for the story?

About eight years ago, I was in Ireland in our family home. Sorting through old papers, I came across a box of letters that my father kept — letters that I wrote home from when I first emigrated. The packages were as I describe in A Measured Thread, typed blue aerogrammes redolent of age. I brought them back to Wisconsin… and stared at them for weeks and weeks. Eventually I got up my courage to sort through the packages, and began to read. At first, I thought about the young woman who wrote those weekly letters home, the young Mary Behan. But then I began to think about my parents. What went on in their minds as they read the weekly missive? It gave me a completely different insight. The conflict between these two mindsets was the spark that prompted me to begin writing.

What was your goal in writing this novel?

One of the things I wanted was to give a woman’s voice to emigration. Many of the writers on the Irish diaspora are men (e.g., Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín) and even though their protagonists may be female, those writers haven’t grown up with all of the baggage that comes from a society dominated by men. Ireland’s matriarchal Druidic history is reflected nowadays in the archetypical Irish ‘mammy’, but whereas she wields her influence skillfully, she still doesn’t really have power. I wanted Maggie to be a person who not only broke through glass ceilings, but lived a successful life on her terms. And I wanted her to share her memories with Isobel in order to empower the young woman.

What is your next project?

I felt at a loss when I finished writing A Measured Thread. There was elation of course, but I had been working steadily on the novel for four years, so it was strange to realize that I had finally arrived at my destination. I didn’t have the energy (or desire) to begin another novel right away, so I decided to try my hand at writing short stories — one per month for a year. I found a wonderful group of beta readers who were willing to read the stories and give me honest feedback. Now, six months into the project I’m enjoying it very much. My hope is that at the end I’ll revise and assemble enough of the stories to publish them in a volume. Deep down, though, I’m hoping that one of them will cry out to become a full-length story — my next novel.

There is another project close to my heart: to write another book with my sister. Valerie and I wrote Abbey Girls, a memoir about our childhood in Ireland, especially our time together at boarding school.

We want to write a book about traveling with our father, Mick Behan. It’s from him that we inherited our love of travel, and over the years we each (both together and separately) have had amazing and hilarious adventures with him. As with Abbey Girls, the format will be epistolary, for we have written innumerable letters to each other since Val emigrated to Canada in 1969. We have diaries and photographs… it’s going to be so much fun!

Interesting in picking up Mary’s book?
Go to:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1734494301

ISBNPaperback – 9781734494303;   Ebook – ISBN 9781734494310

Or go to her website: mvbehan.com

Here she is on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53244963-a-measured-thread

More about Mary:

Mary is a retired professor of neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She devotes her time to writing fiction, memoir and short stories. Her first book, Abbey girls, is a memoir she wrote with her sister, Valerie Behan, about their childhood in Ireland. She lives with her husband in the Driftless Area of southwest Wisconsin in a historic log cabin overlooking a tallgrass prairie.

Author Interview – William Ried and His Travel Novel “Five Ferries”

Interview with Author of Five Ferries

42286682

William Michael Ried

I’ve worked with Bill and I think the story of how his book came to be is as interesting as the story itself.

What is Five Ferries about?
I hear this question all the time, but it focuses on the story at the expense of what is more important: the themes or abstract things that give the novel internal coherence. Five Ferries is “about” the hero’s post-college attempt to work his way around Europe and along the way to work out inner conflicts involving his family, his feelings about the Vietnam War and his relationship with a woman. More important are the underlying themes:

  • In an ordered, modern life, adventure is still possible. Stephen Kylemore takes his one chance to go off script, to throw a stick in the air and go the way it points and thus to get a taste of freedom and adventure.
  • Freedom comes at a cost. It isn’t easy to break away and seek your own path, but the reward is worth the price.
  • Survival on your own in an unknown country requires nothing more than flexibility, resilience and learning to trust your instincts.
  • People are basically kind, and are the same everywhere in their essential humanity.
  • The young must rebel, but in the end loyalty to family and country bind them and comfort them.

How did you do research for your book?
I researched Five Ferries by living it. For the first thirty years I spent writing, my book was a memoir. Only in the last ten years did I realize the book would find a wider audience as a novel, and so I adjusted the action and added an overall story arc. In the early years I researched details by reading other novels and books about the places I had visited and putting in time in the map room of the public library. In recent years research became available at the push of a key. It is simple to confirm a river’s direction or describe the architecture of a building when you can instantly call up images on a search engine.

Why does your book reference to so many novels, films and musical works?
I initially wrote Five Ferries as a memoir. Like my hero, on my trip I read all the books I could find. When traveling alone in places where I couldn’t speak the language, the characters in these books were my only traveling companions and they both comforted me and helped shape my view of the experience. By coincidence, the books that fell in my way turned out to be many classics, including those referenced in the novel: The Nick Adams Stories; The Innocents Abroad; Don Quixote; Steppenwolf; The Magus; The Ambassadors; Madam Bovary; The Trial; Anna Karenina; On the Road; Tom Jones; and Ulysses. To acknowledge my debt to these books I made my hero an English major obsessed with literature. But I needed more than novels to establish the story’s cultural and political context, and so I added I references to the music, film and visual arts that embodied Stephen’s perception of the creative world. I hoped these references would serve as a shorthand way of setting Stephen in a place and time.

There are many books about coming of age/travel adventure. What makes yours different?
I believe each novel builds upon those that came before. American literature has often told of the young man embarking on a travel adventure. Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn expressed this in traditional story-telling set in a nation itself coming of age in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, war became increasingly mechanized and destructive and caused upheavals in society and the literature of adventure. The hero of The Sun Also Rises travels from Paris to Spain, numbed by the experience of World War I, and Hemingway stripped away the pretense of past narrative style to express his characters’ cynicism about the cause of and justification for the “war to end all wars.” On the Road tells of the protagonist’s travels across North America following World War II, searching for self-knowledge and experience in a world and language of jazz in what Kerouac called the “beat generation.” In Five Ferries, I wanted to create a hero who leaves behind the tumult of the 1960s and the Vietnam War for his first trip to Europe, to seek freedom and a broader view of the world infused with both the great literature of the past and the rock music the 1970s.

Why did it take you forty years to finish Five Ferries? Did you suffer decades of writer’s block?
By the time I finished law school in 1982 I had outlined all the chapters of Five Ferries (under its earlier title “Europe on No Dollars a Day”) and written rough drafts of most. I then moved to New York City to look for work, taking only two suitcases and sleeping on a friend’s sofa. When I found a job and an apartment, a classmate offered to transport the rest of my belongings from Washington, D.C., including the cod box that kept my manuscript safe. After driving up to the city he parked his car on the street in Greenwich Village on Halloween night 1982, taking inside my portable black & white television set but leaving the rest of my belongings in the car. Someone broke into the car and took everything, including the cod box and four years of effort on my book.I was, of course, devastated. I spent nights and weekends patrolling the Village and the Lower East Side, looking in garbage piles and sketchy alleys for the cod box and the telltale typing paper boxes that held my chapters. I taped up signs asking for help. When I asked The New York Post to print an article about my plight, a reporter asked what the book was about. I said mostly about a trip I had taken to Europe. He laughed and said: “So what, did you do it on one leg or something?” (This was the beginning of my disdain for the question: “What is your book about?”)The loss of the manuscript blocked me from working on my novel for years. I turned to short stories, because I could hope to finish them and make copies so I would be sure I wouldn’t lose them. But by 1987 I again felt the need to write a novel and decided to rewrite what I knew rather than start from scratch. So, I replicated my outline and began again to write the chapters. In 1995 I got a computer, which made everything easier. Still, with work and young children it was hard to find time, and it took me until early 2017 to complete the book, and another sixteen months to publish it.

6. How would you describe the “style” of Five Ferries?
In one scene of Five Ferries the characters discuss “building” a novel, as if this might be building a house. In fact, I initially hoped to expand the concept of a novel by constructing chapters in an assortment of styles inspired by the literature and music Stephen encounters. After twenty years, the “blueprint” for this book included chapters in: (i) the omniscient style of Dickens; (ii) the character-centric perspective and flowery language of Cervantes; (iii) an invented fugue-like form inspired by Bach, with rhythms structured from word groupings and punctuation grouped in thematic voices; (iv) a narrative melding dreams with reality in the mode of Kafka; (v) a silent movie screenplay to represent the hero’s inability to communicate in the local language, with moods set by a musical score; (vi) a Henry Fielding romp across the English countryside; (vii) a recent past story interspersed with present-tense stream of consciousness; and (vii) a “mezzotint” of themes rising from a dark background of setting and flashbacks.

Reading such novel—if I could pull off the writing—would have required a huge investment of time and energy, and it finally occurred to me that no one would be writing a doctoral thesis on my debut novel. I thus shifted gears and tried to address my themes while giving readers what they mostly want: likeable characters in a believable story they can follow and enjoy. Thus, after numerous attempts to find a narrative voice, I completed Five Ferries in the consistent past tense, first-person perspective of the protagonist, Stephen Kylemore. The story unfolds for the most part chronologically and the setting follows Stephen’s path through Western Europe. As Flaubert famously said, the novelist is one who seeks to disappear behind his work, and I hope I succeeded in this.

What was your goal in writing Five Ferries?
E.M. Forster said the final test of novel is our affection for it, and for most readers this depends on how well the story catches their imagination and creates characters they like and how the plot makes them need to know what comes next. I hoped to check these boxes. But the real value of a novel, what justifies the time it takes to create and to read, is its unique ability to help the reader discover something unknown about the human condition, and it was my real goal to do that.

If there were one thing you wanted readers to remember about you, what would it be?
That I recorded something true about what it was like to be young man on the road in 1978.

Interesting in picking up Bill’s book?
Go to: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1949085023

ISBN: Paperback – 9781949085020;   Ebook – ISBN 9781949085013

You can also follow him on instagram: http://www.instagram.com/fiveferries

Or go to his website: fiveferries.com,

Here he is on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42286682-five-ferries

More about Bill: William Michael Ried was born on Long Island, graduated from the University of Michigan and Georgetown University Law Center and has practiced law in New York City for thirty-seven years, almost as long as he spent writing this book. He lives with his wife in Manhattan. Five Ferries is his first novel.

A Terrible Beauty by V.M. Devine – Author Interview

A Terrible Beauty: the murder at Joyce's Tower by [Devine, V.M.]I recently became aquainted with half of the writing duo of A Terrible Beauty (Valerie Ganzevoort) and was interested in her story and her book, so I invited her and her father to share a bit about both. I think you might find it interesting.

V.M. Devine is the pen name for the writing-collaboration of Valerie Ganzevoort and her father, Michael Mahony.

1.       How did you come to write a novel together?

Valerie’s Response: My Dad had started on the book during a break that he was having from writing a series of theological books. He had always wanted to write a murder mystery and decided to give it a go. I was helping him proof read some of his theological work and so asked to look at the new novel early on in his writing. After a few discussions, he asked if I would like to help him write it and we started to reengineer the book and worked on it from there.

2.       Since you both live in South Africa, why did you chose Dublin, Ireland, as the primary setting for the book?

Mike’s response: The setting came from the place where I grew up. As kids we used to play in the James Joyce Tower in Dublin, Ireland – this was long before it was restored to the formal museum it is today.

The plot and characters were drawn from my own personal journey of life which encompassed living in Ireland, Nigeria, England and South Africa.

 3.       Why did you decide to write a murder mystery?

Valerie’s Response: My Dad has always read Agatha Christie and P.D. James so, for me, growing up and rummaging through the bookshelves for something to read often resulted in my reading them as well. We both enjoy the ‘puzzle-like nature’ of a murder mystery, where the book is not just a story but a mystery to be solved. We have particularly enjoyed hearing from readers who followed certain red herrings in the story or told us of their delight ay having picked up on certain clues which were important in solving the murder. Though, to date, we have not heard from any reader who has successfully guess the murder, so if anyone does guess correctly, we would love to hear about it.

4.       The Penname for the collaboration is V.M Devine, where did this come from?

The V and the M comes from our initials (Valerie and Mike) and the Devine is Mike’s mother’s maiden name, so a surname that felt fitting for both of us.

5.       Have you started writing another book?

Mike’s Response: Yes, I have recently returned from a family visit to Ireland where I visited the scene of our next murder, the Chester Beatty Library. I had arranged to meet with the Operations Manager of the Chester Beatty Library, Derval O’Carroll who was somewhat intrigued by the prospect, eventually even helping me to select the specific location within the library where the murder will now take place!

While in Dublin, I also met with the curator of the Dublin Writers Museum (Robert Nicholson) who is also the curator of the James Joyce Tower & Museum in Sandycove where our current novel, A Terrible Beauty – the murder at Joyce’s Tower, by V. M. Devine, has its setting. The book has since been catalogued into the museum and is on permanent display at the James Joyce Tower for visitors and tourists to flick through at their leisure. This was a great moment for us as the book ‘found its home’ in own setting.

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You can pick up A Terrible Beauty: The Murder at Joyce’s Tower on Amazon. And remember, if you don’t have an ereader or kindle, you can pick up a free app from Amazon to read it on any device.

Michael hails originally from Dublin, Ireland but has spent the greater part of his life in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a retired IT guy.

Valerie was born in Johannesburg. In between exploring her interest in Children’s Fiction, and writing in collaboration with her dad, she is primarily focussed upon raising her three very young children.

“A Terrible Beauty – the murder at Joyce’s Tower” is V.M. Devine’s first novel.

Rock Paper Scissor Book Author Interview – A Lizzy Ballard Thriller

Matty is an author I know so I wanted to share her latest book with you. I haven’t read it yet myself, but it’s on my list!

What is the underlying theme of Rock Paper Scissors?

The underlying theme of all my books is how a person with an extraordinary ability deals with that ability in the context of the ordinary world. In the Ann Kinnear Suspense Novels, The Sense of Death and The Sense of Reckoning, it’s Ann’s ability to sense spirits, an ability that sets her apart from other people, and causes the end of an important relationship. In Rock Paper Scissors, the first of the Lizzy Ballard Thrillers, it’s Lizzy’s ability to cause strokes in others, an ability that forces her to live in isolation, for the safety of others as well as herself.

Since Rock Paper Scissors is billed as a thriller, I suspect that Lizzy’s ability results in some mayhem!

Yes! The people who are responsible for Lizzy’s ability, and who are scheming to use it to further their own goals, are Gerard Bonnay, the head of a Philadelphia fertility clinic, and his wife and head of research, Louise Mortensen. During the course of the story, they acquire an unexpected ally, and Lizzy’s situation becomes even more perilous.

Does Lizzy have any allies to help her deal with the challenges her ability poses, and with the people who are trying to take advantage of it?

Initially, Lizzy’s primary allies are her parents, Charlotte and Patrick. The novel begins with Lizzy as an infant, and describes some incidents when she is a toddler and young girl to illustrate the dangers of her situation. However, most of the action of the story takes place when Lizzy is a teenager, and is triggered by a trip she wants to take from her home in the Philadelphia suburbs to New York City to see the sights at Christmas-time. At that point, it appears her closest allies are Owen McNally, a neurobiologist and friend of her father, and her family’s housekeeper, Ruby DiMano. But is Ruby really an ally? It’s clear that Ruby’s loyalties are torn, but it’s unclear which way she will ultimately throw her support.

You mentioned that Lizzy lives near Philadelphia—is that the main setting for the story?

As with The Sense of Death and the beginning of The Sense of Reckoning, most of Rock Paper Scissors is set in the Philadelphia area, near my home in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The Ballards initially live in Paoli, Pennsylvania, and as their fortunes decline, they move further out along the Main Line, which is the name given to the towns along the rail line that stretches west from Philadelphia. Lizzy and her mother also spend some time at the family cabin in the Pocono Mountains, a couple of miles to the north of Philadelphia. There’s also a critical meeting that takes place in Longwood Gardens, which is one of my favorite spots in Chester County. Patrick Ballard and Owen McNally work at William Penn University, which is my stand-in for my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, and Lizzy hides out for a time in a slightly fictionalized version of the Spruce Lane Lodge and Cottages in Smoketown, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster County.

How do you decide when to use a place’s real name and when to change it?

I change it when I want to reserve the right to adjust factual details to meet the needs of the story. I may also change the name if I may be portraying the place in a negative light. For example, early in the writing of Rock Paper Scissors, I thought the villain might be affiliated with the university, so I didn’t want to refer to it as the University of Pennsylvania. Similarly, I changed the real Philadelphia Inquirer into the Philadelphia Chronicle because I wanted to reserve the right to have one of its reporters engage in some less than ethical reporting.

Even though I’m tweaking the facts to support the story, I feel I’ve still been able to create a consistent world that runs through the books and across the series. For example, Lincoln Abbott, a reporter at the Chronicle who first appeared in The Sense of Death, pens several newspaper articles that appear in Rock Paper Scissors. Also, readers who are familiar with the Ann Kinnear Suspense Novels will be pleased to hear that Detective Joe Booth makes a brief appearance in Rock Paper Scissors.

What are you working on next?

I just started work on Lizzy Ballard Book 2. Book 1 ends in Sedona, Arizona, and my husband and I were just there for our yearly getaway from the Pennsylvania winter. Book 2 will start in Sedona, so I wanted to get started on that while I was still under the influence of the Sedona vibe. I also just finished my first Ann Kinnear short story, which I plan to make available to subscribers of my newsletter.

Where can people connect with you to sign up for your newsletter or to keep track of Ann Kinnear and Lizzy Ballard’s next adventures?

They can sign up for my newsletter at my website, mattydalrymple.com. For more frequent updates, they can connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

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Matty Dalrymple is the author of the Ann Kinnear Suspense Novels, “The Sense of Death” and “The Sense of Reckoning,” and “Rock Paper Scissors: A Lizzy Ballard Thriller,” which launches in March 2017. She lives with her husband, Wade Walton, and their dogs in Chester County, Pennsylvania, which is the setting for much of the action in “The Sense of Death” and “Rock Paper Scissors.” In the summer, they enjoy vacationing on Mt. Desert Island, Maine, where “The Sense of Reckoning” takes place. Matty also blogs, podcasts, and speaks about independent publishing as The Indy Author.

Matty is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Brandywine Valley Writers Group.

You can purchase Matty’s book on Amazon.

Transition to Murder by Renee James

I am pleased to introduce to you all Renee James, an author I met at aWisconsin Writer’s Association writing retreat I was speaking at last year. Renee and I exchanged books. I read Transition to Murder and I would recommend it, but I’ll let Renee talk about the book and a bit about herself.

Transition to Murder (A Bobbi Logan Crime Novel)

You write in the voice of a transgender woman—what’s your connection to the trans world?
I’m transgender, but not transsexual. I identify as a woman but live in both genders for many, many reasons. Lots of us in the transgender spectrum don’t transition for fear of alienating loved ones, losing careers, or, in the case of male-to-female trans people, losing male privilege.

How are you connected to the heroine, Bobbi Logan?
I developed the Bobbi Logan character after I decided not to transition. As a kind of therapy, I began writing a fictional journal about a trans person who transitioned in her late thirties as I might have done. I did the journal to see what her life would have been like. She had many of my physical and emotional characteristics at the start, but she evolved from there. I got about 50,000 words into the project and realized I had a really interesting character, so I decided to put her in a novel.

Transition to Murder is set in 2003 and Bobbi faced enormous difficulties in her transition. Have things changed since then?
It depends on where you live. In the big cities, especially in the north, it’s like night and day. In 2003, when a transwoman like me walked into a restaurant, conversations would stop, people would gawk, and even the people who accepted me would regard me with knowing smiles. Today, in those same places, no one gives me a second glance, the wait staff treats me like anyone else, and genetic women don’t even blink when we share the Ladies Room. It’s as close to a miracle as I’ve seen in my life.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as positive when you travel into rural areas or the poor sections of big cities or the states of the old Confederacy, where things remain very touchy for trans people.

What about the bathroom issue?
It’s a non-issue in places like Chicago and New York. I think I’ll wait awhile before I go to North Carolina or Texas, though.

Bobbi encounters conflicts and tensions within the transgender community too. Don’t you tend to support each other?Support was always the mantra when I came out, and in the bad old days, we did band together to have functions where it was safe to be “out.” Support isn’t the same as friendship, though, and it wasn’t especially easy to make friends with other trans people. Most of us didn’t have much in common other than being trans, so conversation didn’t necessarily come easily.

Today, more of us are out on our own because it’s safe and fairly accepted in many places, so our cohesiveness is declining. The other factor is age: young transgender people have a radically different experience than trans people my age had in their formative years. They are more out, more accepted, and better able to transition before they become fully formed in wrong gender. So they tend to be much more passable than many of us older trans people, and maybe a little embarrassed at being compared to us. Add to that the usual tension between generations, and you can see the basis for internal friction.

The other thing is, we’re a lot like any other group in America. The same mix of personalities, politics, religious beliefs, education—everything. And you’ve probably noticed that we American’s have a lot of conflicts and tensions these days.

Why do you write in first person?
The people who mentored me when I came out constantly emphasized how important it was for each one of us to make a contribution to the acceptance of transgender people by the rest of society.

I wanted my Bobbi Logan novels to be my contribution. My idea was to put non-trans readers in in the mind and body of a transsexual woman for a few hours so they could get a sense of who we are and how we experience the world. I thought first-person was the best way to go about it and I think it works.

Transition to Murder is based on an earlier book, Coming Out Can Be Murder, which you self-published. What’s the difference between the two books, and why did you re-publish?
I re-published because I wanted to see what I could learn from a professional publisher and to hopefully sell more books than I did as a self-publisher. I got to work with a good editor, and he convinced me to change the ending of the story. That was the biggest difference between the two versions, and the sequels are based on the Transition to Murder version. (Anyone who read Coming Out Can Be Murder and wants to know the change can contact me through my web site (reneejames.author.com).

Tell me about the sequels to Transition to Murder.
First of all, I don’t like multi-book series based on the same hero or heroine because there’s no character development, just plot. So I’ve spaced my sequels years apart, picking up Bobbi’s life at different stages of her development as a woman and a human being.

Transition to Murder is about her first year of gender transition. A Kind of Justice which came out last October, starts five years later. Bobbi is wildly successful and starting to explore all the possibilities of life, including romance, when the Great Recession knocks her flat and a brilliant police detective starts building a powerful case against her for the ritual murder of a sexual predator.

Seven Suspects will release next October. We pick up Bobbi’s life five years after A Kind of Justice when she’s a little world-weary and maybe a trifle arrogant and suddenly finds out she has a stalker who is getting closer and more violent every day.

What are you working on now?
I’m researching ideas for another Bobbi Logan novel, which gives me a great excuse to visit LGBT strongholds and friends. While that’s going on, I’m also working on a thriller with a completely different cast of characters set in Ontario’s famous canoe wilderness, Quetico Provincial Park.

Thanks for visiting my blog, Renee and I wish you the best in your writing career!

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You can get to Renee’s website from Here.

She is on twitter: @ReneeJAuthor

She is on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reneejamesauthor

You can purchase Transition to Murder on Amazon.

Author Interview: L.H. Williams and a FREE Book!

I bumped into (so to speak) a new author the other day that has an interesting story to tell. I’m talking about her life story. You’ll have to pick up her/his books to decide if you like the stories she/he writes.
Why all the she/he business? Read below and find out!
Then let me know if you want a FREE, yes I said FREE ecopy of one of their books by telling me in the comments.
Hey and Lou
1. Tell us about yourself.
I’m a retired jack-of-all-trades, having worked as a Marketing Manager, a newspaper reporter, and an administrative assistant. Now I write with my husband, who is an engineer. Heyward and I write together. Our ideas begin with a long walk, or a quiet drink somewhere. Later we compose our individual storylines, which we then join, chapter by chapter. But I am getting ahead of myself. You see, we were childhood sweethearts; we played in the high school orchestra, sang in the choir, went to dances, rode our bikes, skied, and were even taught by the same beloved English teacher. Then we went our separate ways. Heyward studied Engineering and has a successful career. I studied English and went to Brazil for two decades. There were marriages and children; there was happiness and there was loss.
We married in April of 2014. He moved to Florida and bought the condo next door to mine. The first thing we did was make sure that our two offices were set up for all the work we do. Now we are both on our condo board, and we have added two rescue cats to our family – one a tuxedo cat and the other a darling Siamese.
2. When did you start writing and why?
I’ve always loved writing, but I didn’t really get into it until I was in my sixties. [Step back] to 2012 when we reconnected via Facebook. I had been going it alone for a long time, and he was lonely too. He flew 1500 miles to see me, and we fell in love all over again. On the last night of his visit I told him about my desire to finish a book I’d started. A few days later I received his contribution. It was so beautifully written that I pasted it into Saving Dee and it immediately became an integral part of the book. In fact, his love of sailing created a whole new host of characters for all three novels – not to mention a beautifully cared-for sailing vessel he named Chauffeuse.
3. What’s your favorite books and why?
My favorite books are Regency Romance novels, especially the ones that have a touch of humor and a clever heroine.
4. What is your latest book?
My latest book is Lady in Lace. It’s the third book in THE DEE CHRONICLES. The other two are Saving Dee and The Penny Scam.
Saving Dee Cover Art
5. Where can people pick it up?
All three are available on Amazon, in e-book and paperback. [Or leave me a comment telling me you’d like a Free ecopy and I’ll pass it onto Louise and Heyward!]
1. Saving Dee     2. The Penny Scam    3. Lady in Lace
And note: Louise suggests you read the books in order.
6. What’s your favorite color?
I love turquoise, because it reminds me of the ocean.
You can also find Louise and Heyward on Goodreads  and  Facebook
 So let me know in the comments if you would like a free copy of their book(s). They are “young at heart” couple that would love to know what you think of their writing.

Author Interview with Joshua Robertson

I was introduced to a fellow writer on social media recently, Joshua Robertson, and wanted to introduce you to him and his writing. Joshua considers his book “dark fantasy.” Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it!

AuthorPic1Joshua – tell us about yourself:

I am a Midwestern boy from the country that is currently living in the rugged land of Alaska with my wife and children. Throughout the years, I have done a number of different jobs from projectionist to therapist. Though, no matter what I have done, I have always had a passion for storytelling.

What got you into writing?

I am not sure what exactly set me on the path of writing, but I do remember my older sister writing stories when I was younger. The first story that I remember writing was a horror story at the age of nine. After spending years reading fantastic novels by fantastic authors, I had decided to become a writer by the time I was in late adolescence.

What is your latest book about?

My larger works was published in January, called Melkorka.MelkorkaCover

Amazon Blurb of Melkorka: Kaelandur was forged by the Highborn to slay one of their own, Nedezhda Mager. As their slave, Branimir Baran never thought to question his cruel masters until he is forced to take part in the execution. His actions begin a chain of events that will lead him to confront demons, cannibals, and himself as he is forced to question his own morality and the true meaning of good and evil.

I am extremely excited about this novel and have received some great reviews. Though, my latest story was just released this week. It is a short story that was written in the spirit of Beowulf, called Grimsdalr.grimsdalrcover Amazon Blurb: …a renowned hero travels across the whale-road to defeat a monster that plagues the land of Croune

I have several WIPs (works in progress), including the sequel to Melkorka titled Dyndaer and a standalone novel called Anaerfell.AnaerfellCover In addition, I am working on the second story in the Hawkhurst Saga,(the first one is A Midwinter SellswordMidwinterCover   Gladiators and Thieves.GnTCover

What motivated you to write it?

I have been creating the world for Melkorka for over fifteen years, but it was not until December of 2013 that I completed this story. The story had gone through many revisions over the fourteen year lapse as I improved my writing skill and learned more about the craft of storytelling. The final straw was a dream that I had about a dagger that brought demons back from the dead, and it answered many of the questions I had about the plotline. It was such an engaging dream that I started writing immediately, and finished the book within a month.

Anything else you want to share?

Writing is something that many, many people want to do for a living. It is a very difficult to be recognized in this trade, especially as an independent or small press author. Though, writing is not about publicity, or fame, or becoming rich. Writing is about doing what you love. Even though I may never become insanely wealthy or famous from the tales that I tell, I know that telling stories is something that I will never retire from doing.

How can people find you and your books?

You can find me on all the regular social media outlets, my small press, or on Amazon. The links are listed below beneath my author bio. And please, feel free to message me in any venue to simply chat. I welcome the opportunity to connect and learn from each other. You never know when you might find a lasting friendship.
Joshua began crafting the world for the dark fantasy series, Thrice Nine Legends, in 1999. Melkorka, the first book of the series, was published in 2015. He spends his time enjoying the richness of coffee, family, and friendship. His heritage is primarily Scottish and Slavic and you will find these themes in the stories that he writes.

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BUY: Melkorka   BUY: A Midwinter Sellsword   BUY: Grimdalr

Gladiators and Thieves: Coming June 2015
Anaerfell: Coming October 2015
Dyndaer: Coming January 2016