Sunday, March 31, 2013

God the Father, Spirit (Sermon of the last week in March)

My dear friends in Christ Jesus, I am so happy to be amongst your thoughts and hearts today.  It always feels like there is so much to do, and so little time to do it.  But we know from scripture that all things happening according the counsel of God's will.  All things happen through Christ and according to the truth.  We may have peace, because as Christians we have the special favor of God.  (2 Timothy 2:1)

He grants us special requests.  He keeps us from stepping out in front of traffic!  That special favor is not necessarily working in the lives of unbelievers.  But we know from scripture that we are not chosen because of our works, but all this was determined in the heart of our creator long ago.

I want to encourage of you my dear friends, to put trust not in your own discernment, but pray for and receive the God given discernment through the presence of the holy spirit in your life.

We know we can rely on prayer and conscious contact with God to guide our spirits.  Always find yourself within prayer!  Pray about everything my friends, and constantly speak to God within your mind.  But as you speak to God during the day as you go about your business, let me also encourage you to go on your knees before God in the morning and in the evening to give thanks and love to your creator.

He loves you so much, he truly does.  He is a wise and old spirit.  God is spirit.  He is a loving father.  He is your father.  So let me encourage you to call God "Father."  For we know from scripture that when we are born again in Christ, that we are no longer children of earthly parents, but God himself is our father.  Give him thanks!

It's so easy during the day to offer thanks to God.  Thank you Father for this food, Thank you father for that green light.  Thank you father for my job, my full tank of gas, my loving wife, my loving husband, or if you're still waiting for that person, Thank you Father for the woman I know you have out there, picked especially for me.

If we can find a way to trust and put faith in our dear heavenly Father, then we can know true peace of mind.  Because then, no matter what happens in our lives, we know, through and through, that God is in control and that nothing can happen without his permission.

The Father loves you dearly.  He loves you so much, he gave his son to grant you passage into eternal life.

Know that there is no perfect faith in this life.  If you have an off day, don't beat yourself up about it.  God knows our hearts are flawed as humans, constantly tempted by sin.  He UNDERSTANDS this, because he came down to us in human form, as Christ Jesus.  We know Christ Jesus was tempted in every way possible, and that he endured the pains of a human life without sin.  This paid the debt that humanity incurred through it's endless disobedience of God.  Our faiths will not be perfect, but let me encourage you to rise again when you fall.  And if you can't seem to rise up out of the gloom in your head, or the mindset of sin going on, ask your loving Father for a hand up.  We know he answers our prayers.  Because he loves us truly.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Interview with Author Nikki Palomino






Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book.
2003 named Writer’s Digest Best Genre Short Story Writer, written many short stories for print rags, erotica for Foggy Windows Publishing, covered music for rags from Los Angeles Country Examiner, Blast, Buddy Magazine, to NYC’s indie magazines, studied under feature writers at both the Houston Chronicle and Houston Post. Co-writer and co-producer of Palomino Productions in Los Angeles with Film Noir, Baby, and award-winning dark comedy, The Rug, as well as TV pilot Our Way of Life for ABC.
DAZED (The Story of a Grunge Rocker) Silver Publishing is the first in the DAZED series in negotiation for movie option. Protagonist Eric Peterson returns home from the Portland streets to find most things unchanged, but a fellow art student sees the pain beneath the artistic brilliance as the men struggle to survive in a world that hates junkies and fags.
What inspired you to write your first book?

Having been part of what I call the underbelly of heaven (bullied, runaway, grunge rock musician hanging with punk rock icons like Patti Smith, etc.) I naturally gravitated toward the music and art scene. So very early on, I became involved with a junkie musician. Everything was beautiful, the discovering of each other’s bodies, the rush of dope, the falling in love among the rebellion where we existed for one purpose, to overwhelm our brainstems with the flood of endorphins. When he died of an overdose, I didn’t have to look far. By then I was playing infamous clubs like CBGB’s as a grunge rock musician. When I hit the strip in L.A., covering music for various rags, I met the grunge rock junkie musician, Kurt Cobain of the band Nirvana. He stood on the precipice of success. He seesawed in the playground others prayed for. I immediately recognized what drew me to him, his invincibility and total absence of discomfort when he spiked. Every junkie I knew thought I could fix them. I didn’t realize at the time, they had fixed me.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’d say, raw, impulsive, graphic, sparing no one the pain. Reaching into a junkie’s guts, you wonder how deep you have to dig. What I find is the tainted strand of words.

How did you come up with the title?

I used to sit on the couch staring at Kurt nodding. If I started to get up, he’d grab my arm and pull me back down. When I looked into his pinpoint pupils, all I could think was DAZED.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Romance doesn’t have to be between two people. In DAZED, the romance is between Eric and heroin.

How much of the book is realistic?

All of it. A junkie’s heart stings like a mutha, and he just wants to rip it out. In the end, he knows there will never be enough drugs to make things right.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Kurt was my biggest influence because he could have self-medicated with a whole different drug, success. He was like a dog forgotten in the bliss of affection, completely oblivious to the stress of the last beating and, if he could have really looked at what he was given, he might have chosen a different path. But he didn’t. I knew him when he was so wasted he couldn’t get off the bathroom floor or stop puking or shaking or crying and the whole time he’d beg to do something to make him stop. No one can kick the habit for a junkie. I learned that lesson the hard way. The weight of his life seemed to put nothing right, except the ability to write what others judge to this day.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Too many to mention, but Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds is the best description of human frailty spilling from each breath.
“The smaller birds were at the window now. He recognized the light tap-tapping of their beaks and the soft brush of their wings. The hawks ignored the windows. They concentrated their attack upon the door. Nat listened to the tearing sound of splintering wood, and wondered how many million years of memory were stored in those little brains, behind the stabbing beaks, the piercing eyes, now giving them this instinct to destroy mankind with all the deft precision of machines.”

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Can’t do one. Truman Capote and Sylvia Plath for we spilled the same mistakes.

What book are you reading now?

Rosemary’s Baby. Ira Levin nailed the American horror story set in modern times.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Rick R. Reed and Billie Sue Mosiman, and we are very lucky to have a group coming up the ranks that have paid their dues, grabbing the words from those ghosts haunting our bodies.

What are your current projects?

Second in the DAZED series, STILL DAZED (Through a Grunge Rocker’s Eyes) coming 2013 and a new series, The Underground Diaries, based on my runaway years set in NYC late 80’s.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Survival Instincts, uninterrupted.

Do you see writing as a career?

Already is.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Hard to say since STILL DAZED is already written and the third being thought out.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I grew up in a small town in Texas. In the back stood a field, two ditches and a gravel road lined with blackberry bushes. I was ADHD so my energy surpassed the constraints of nothingness. The only place I could escape to was my imagination. My parents didn’t have lots of money so books were limited to the small selection at the library. My grandfather was a writer, and when we’d visit Overland, I’d sit in his office and watch him type. I just remember the sheer joy washing over his face as he placed his words in a logical progression. I knew then I wanted to be a writer. It was from my grandfather’s library I discovered Truman Capote, James Cain, Flannery O’Conner, Harper Lee, Eudora Welty, and poets like Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath. I never got to keep the books, so I kept their most prized words and let them circle my brain like the stars circle the moon, at least in my imagination.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

STILL DAZED (Through a Grunge Rocker’s Eyes), 2nd in the DAZED novel series, has an unanswered question on each page, “Why can’t protagonist Eric Peterson stop using smack?” Eric’s journey through burgeoning grunge rock fame begins within the constraints of small town prejudice. Surrounded by a cast of unlikely characters who automatically fall into their enabling roles, he fights his inner demons. A young man in pain, he’s desperate for his mother’s approval and struggles through an empire of dope to choose what no one wants him to and survives an American nightmare, a world that hates junkies and fags.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Reliving what I’d put behind me.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Somerset Maugham, a hand-scrawled scrap of paper with his guts smeared bloodied on the page.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

On occasion. With social media, traveling unfortunately is kept to a minimum. There’s something about eye to eye that makes an author and his work resonate.

Who designed the cover?

Reese Dante

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I find the experience a dream, even the crap parts like editing.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

That I want to write even more; it’s the air I breathe.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write like your gutting yourself. Otherwise your words are not worth permanence.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

To live with Eric, isn’t pretty, so use his experience to understand a different aspect of life.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

Remembering what I’d wanted to forget.



Interview with Author Donna Wright

Amazon:
 http://www.amazon.com/Donna-Wright/e/B001JRZ63E/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1361737947&sr=1-1
My site: donnawrightsbooks.com
My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDonnaWright

Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book.

My name is Donna Wright and I live in East Tennessee.  I write sweet romance for Montlake/Avalon Books. 

My books are called the Tennessee: Love Series and in order are:
Inadmissible: Love
Found: Love
Diagnosis: Love
Verdict: Love

What inspired you to write your first book?
I kept trying to write inspirational romance and friends pointed out that I needed to use my crazy sense of humor to write romantic comedy.  On the way to a writer’s conference a bunch of us came up with the idea of a pig being a pivotal character.  I took it from there.


Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes, I am what is referred to as a panster.  I usually have an idea that is pretty much solid, but the characters then write themselves.


How did you come up with the title?
The original title of the first book was THIS LITTLE PIGGY WENT TO COURT.  Avalon changed it to Inadmissible: Love.  After that, I came up with the other titles based on the characters’ jobs. 


Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
These books are mostly for fun, but if they were to have a message, it would be that romance doesn’t mean sex.  It’s about emotions a journey that can end happily.


How much of the book is realistic?
Ft. White is really Knoxville, TN and I use many of the points of interest in all of them.


Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No.  I do have a husband of almost 33 years, so I had a romance with a happy ending.  That’s it. 

What books have most influenced your life most?
I just always loved romance stories and movies.  I got into reading and decided I wanted to write.  I can’t really say one book or even one author influenced me to write. 


If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I think more than any other the late Jane Bierce was a huge influence on me.  Other than she, I would have to say that for the most part the writers of the Smoky Mountain Romance Writers mentored each other.  Few of us really knew what we were doing but somehow we all got published and wrote great books.

What book are you reading now?
Right now, I’m in writing mode, so I have been mostly reading my own work.  I enjoy many types of writing from all genres of romance to the classics. 



What are your current projects?
I have a couple of things I’m working on.  One is a short story in the TN: Love universe.  The other is a regency set vampire story.


Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I think we’re back to the Smoky Mountain Romance Writers.  They have been the one true source of inspiration and have given me a boost every time I think about quitting. 


Do you see writing as a career?
Yes.  Emphatically, yes.  I believe that’s where writers, and for that matter, other artists are sucked into poor business decisions.  Writing is a craft or art, but publication is pure business.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently.  If they do, they’re lying. 

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would be writing faster!  LOL  I have no regrets in my TN: Love books.  I had a great editor.  Erin Cartwright-Niumata was absolutely the very best person and teacher and friend.  I gave her a piggy for each book because I just adored her.  I have no regrets about these books at all.


Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?+

One name: Donny Osmond.  I wrote stories about him as a kid and grew up to publish romance.


Can you share a little of your current work with us?
As I said, I’ve got 2.  One is my favorite book I’ve ever worked on.  I call it the Shield of Orion and it’s about regency set vampires.  That’s all I really want to say right now.




Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
YES.  I find I have a huge problem with action scenes.  I have struggled with this one for 2 months.



Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I am a huge fan of the one and only Jane Austen.  Her stories touch my heart and I honestly can’t explain why.  I loved Persuasion and when looking only at the books, not the wonderful movies that have been made of her works, I love this story the best.  I like books about people who once knew each other but were torn apart for whatever reason.


Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Funny you should ask.  I am going to start a book tour soon.  I want to go into towns and help promote their libraries.

Who designed the covers?
The cover artist for all four books was Tess Anson.  She did a fabulous job.  They were originally to go into libraries.  If I had one regret though, it would be that we couldn’t change them for mass-market.  I think the cover does a lot for a book.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I think it’s just working full time, raising my son, being a wife and then having the time to write.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes, write fast!  Look if you want to write and be published by one of the big boys, here’s the best advice anyone can give you.  This is business. As nice and friendly as your editor/agent is, you are your next book.  It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact.  If you want to write, write and write fast.  Keep the inventory going, even if your story isn’t picked up.  It will make a great book to introduce to that editor/agent when you sell that 2nd or 3rd book.


Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you.  I mean that from the bottom of my heart.  Thanks so much for reading and I hope you are enjoying the work. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

perfect love

Whoever lives in love lives in God,
and God in him. In this way, love is
made complete among us so that
we will have confidence on the day
of judgment, because in this world
we are like him. There is no fear in
love. But perfect love drives out
fear, because fear has to do with
punishment. The one who fears is
not made perfect in love. -1 John
4:16-18

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Justin's Sermon of the Week (2nd week of March)

You know I have to tell you about this individual, my dad.  Because hes really a big deal.  My father is the creator of the universe.

Yes, he's a big deal.

I can't know or understand this creator, this strange, curious, bizarre and mystery being that made all things. 

But I'm so curious about him.

And all these things hes made.  This ball of the light, the sun, that this ball of earth we stand on twists around it, all set up just right to allow for breath to enter my lungs and heat to come down and keep me warm.  My father keeps me warm.

And there is something else behind all that physical stuff.  That's love.  Love permeates every moment.  Love is my dog napping on my lap right now.  And she loves me, and trusts me so much she can just lay here and rest with me.

Does God love you?  Yep, yep he does.  Whether you believe that he exists or not, he does exist, and he does love you.  That's unconditional love.

And I'm not saying that I don't have an earthly father, I do.  And I love him and honor him, but I know from scripture, that's the word of God, that when I take Jesus into my life I am no longer a child of earthly parents, but God himself is my father.

What does it mean to take Jesus into my life?  The name "Jesus" is so overused and misused in our American culture that it's lost almost all it's meaning sadly.  The meaning remains, that is the true meaning, but when someone hears the name who doesn't necessarily follow Jesus or know scripture, it can cause a feeling of jadedness.  A feeling full of past prejudices, or times in the past that the name of Jesus was used improperly, and has now been associated with "hypocrite christians" and "arrogant judgemental people."  And there are certainly plenty of people out there who are like that.  They give poor testimony to the infinitely powerful name of this incredible figure in history.

Giving our life to Jesus, what does it mean?  It means going into scripture, the New Testament of the Bible and studying how Jesus lived.  More so it means accepting that Jesus paid the price for all the sins of humanity for ALL TIME on the cross.  And believing that he is the son of the most high God.  Once we do this we are reborn, our old self dies.  As we were dead in our sins. 

We receive the holy spirit, a force that speaks to us on doing right and guides us through a Godly life.

What a cool thing hm? 

It never seemed real to me.  Honestly, it never did.  I read about it, I knew about it, and even saw it in my family.  I couldn't explain it, but I had my own conclusions and misconceptions about what was "really" going on.

Then it happened to me.  I remember hearing somewhere that I wouldn't need anyone to tell me who God was when, and yes WHEN, he showed himself to me. 

I didn't know what that meant, but now I do.  God comes to each of us in a way we PERSONALLY can understand. That's how much he loves us.  He comes to us on a basis of our outlook and understanding of life.  He checks how we see perceive things, and makes himself real to us within a realm of thinking we can understand. 

And that's a real blessing.

It's a real blessing to have God in my life, to have Jesus in my heart.  Because that hole in my chest that was there my WHOLE LIFE is now filled.  I can feel it right now.  I can check for that emptiness and it's not there.  It's filled.  And I can be happy now.  It's not perfect, and it's hard.  But theres real peace in it. 

Let's go to God in prayer:  Father I ask that these words fill up the minds and the hearts of those reading.  That they would go to your word, the Bible and seek out their own unique understanding of the truth within those pages.  Father I ask that you bless these fine people, and give them peace, truth, and wisdom.  And Praise you Father, because you do.  We know all things work for good in the lives of those whom serve you.  Thank you Father, for your love and kindness to us, your creations, your child.  In Jesus name, Amen. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Interview with Author Leslie Drennan





3 links:


Introduction of myself and my book.
My name is Leslie Drennan, I am from the Oklahoma City area. I am the mother of three beautiful daughters and live a love story Hollywood would kill for! I have always loved to write and though I have a background in acting and singing I found my true passion in creating the stories rather than portraying them on stage.


"Enigma" begins when Matalyn Holland comes home to sirens and crime scene tape completely unprepared for the tragedy that awaits her. Her parents have been victims of a murder-suicide.

Just another girl enjoying school and her friends, Mattie never could have been prepared for the strange things starting to happen. With no records of the past to be found and surprises around every corner, Mattie discovers she is the offspring of two fallen angels from good and evil, making her an enigma. The most desired, one-of-a-kind treasure of the dark side, Mattie finds protection from Avan, a boy she'd merely adored from a distance at school. However, soon Mattie will come to realize that this flawless individual whose eyes she seems to get lost in was created specifically for her.

Evil is always after her in hopes of creating a new league of dark angels to conquer good forever, but being born into a human body, she must find the strength to overcome it all in order to evade capture, being forced to bear the offspring of the dark side and earn her wings resulting in an Angel's Promise that would determine the balance in the war of good vs. evil.

What inspired you to write your first book?
At the time I wrote “Enigma”, I had recently found myself unemployed when the company I worked for went out of business leaving with a great deal of time on my hands. I’ve always been an avid reader but after reading everything I could get my hands on I started coming up with a story I wished already existed in my mind.
After running the idea I had by a few of my friends that were also bookworms and hearing them say it was amazing I decided to give it a spin and put it on paper. As the story began to unravel in my mind the characters and scenes exploded and I wound up with an entire series as opposed to a book! I guess in the end when one door closes sometimes you end up discovering what you were meant to be doing all along!

Do you have a specific writing style?
The funny thing about this question Justin, is that I always begin with a writing style and a well thought out plan that’s very organized and meticulous. However, every time I start writing it all changes drastically. For whatever reason, once I begin writing it is as if the characters and the story take over and I generally end up with a book that couldn’t be farther away from what I’d originally intended as my ideas start flowing.

How did you come up with the title?
When I wrote the book, and began considering all of the things that made Mattie (the lead character) who she was and the circumstances around her she was truly an example of an unexplained mystery or enigma. As you read the story it is clear that everything about her entire life is a mystery that she has to find the answers to.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are actually a few different messages in the novel that I really want readers to grasp. The first message is that you need to be happy with who you are and be true to yourself without always striving to be who or what others want in order to make you feel important. In the end being who you know you are meant to be is most important regardless of what anyone else thinks. Always be true to you!
The second thing I want readers primarily females to grasp is that you don’t need to do anything that will compromise who you are in order to achieve popularity.
The last thing is that I want each reader to know that being unique in your own way is beautiful and desirable. Being unique is what defines each of us and there is a great purpose for each and every person.

How much of the book is realistic?
The book itself is completely fictional however, I have written it in a way that places the characters in very realistic situations throughout most of it. I wanted readers to be able to identify with the situations and emotions throughout the story. Even though there are some situations that are beyond imagination there are also plenty that you as a reader can connect with on a mental and emotional level.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In many ways, I wrote the story as an analogy of my own life events. Though I am by no means a hybrid angel of any kind and do not live these fictional events, the feelings the characters felt at the time they were going through them were much the same as how I may have been feeling in my own life at the time I wrote certain scenes or wrote about specific events. It definitely was very personal and heartfelt for me even though I wrote it as a fantasy/fiction novel.

What books have most influenced your life most?
The first book that I can ever recall having a major influence on my life was one I read in the fifth grade called “A Taste of Blackberries”. This book was instrumental in my life in many ways. In reading class with my then teacher Mrs. Phyllis Gilbert, who I am now honored to call a close friend and role model, we would keep a reading journal of what we read. One day she read mine aloud to the class telling everyone how impressed she was with my entry. It was right then I knew I was destined to be an author.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I really like Bob Larson, he writes so that you really feel you are going through everything right along with the characters in “Dead Air”, “Abaddon”, and “The Senator’s Agenda”. I hope that my audience feels that way about my writing.
Another person I would consider a mentor of such would be James Patterson. Not only do I enjoy his work but, you can truly see he has a passion for what he does as an author. Writing books is tough and making a living doing it is even harder. He always has something in production and you can tell he has a real enjoyment for what he does. He also chooses to be a role model in trying to get people reading more, especially kids. I think he sets the bar for what all of us as authors need to strive to be more like.

What book are you reading now?
Currently I am not reading any materials due to working on my own series. I tend to stray away from reading while working on my original materials in order to keep my own ideas flowing. I never want to derive anything from something else I’ve recently read so I just keep my mind clear and focused on the materials I am working on for the time being. I usually take a break between writing books though and you can bet I will have some kind of fiction in my hand!

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Yes, I have a few friends who are authors that have recently written books! Lindsay Avalon has recently come out with “Breaking the Nexus” which I can’t wait to read as soon as I take my next little writing break and there are several others such as Tim Miller, Katie Jennings with her “Dryad Quartet” series and a few others!

What are your current projects?
Currently I am working on the next two novels after “Enigma” Book 1 in line for my “Angel’s Promise” series. I am putting the finishing touches on “Exile” Book 2 and have begun writing “Eblis” Book 3.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Outside of my family members and countless friends who have offered so much support that I cannot even begin to put into words, my amazing boyfriend has been here to support me every step of the way in every way possible! I couldn’t ask for a better support system with all of them.

Do you see writing as a career?
I do see writing as a career. I have dreamed of writing since the fifth grade and to be honest, I really can’t imagine being meant to do anything else.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I actually do not and cannot think of a single thing that I would change. I am very pleased with the way it came out and can’t wait for the rest of the series to become available as well.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As previously stated, in the fifth grade my reading teacher, Mrs. Phyllis Gilbert was such a role model! She always made us see how important both writing and reading was. She was very good at peaking our interests with different genres of reading materials and giving us plenty of positive reinforcement when it came to our writing. I greatly credit her for me turning into the writer that I am today. Had it not been for her influence I may not have ever considered being an author as anything more than a dream. She gave me the confidence and skill I needed to make it a goal which eventually became a reality.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I think the thing I find really challenging from time to time is how the story seems to write itself from time to time ending up in a different but better place than where I’d originally intended for it to go. In many ways it is absolutely wonderful but at the same time it causes me to have to change things up for the books that come next.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I do have book signings that sometimes require a few hours of travel. However, I love meeting those who are fans of “Enigma” so it is worth every mile!

Who designed the covers? The graphic design team with my publishing company designed the original cover for “Enigma” based upon the ideas I gave them. I had imagined several things I wanted to incorporate so with the collaboration of my ideas and their knowledge we came up with an original design.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing my book was accepting that all these characters and personalities really came from and dwelled within myself. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap your mind around the concept that the villain you are writing about actually comes from something within yourself. As you write, different parts of your own personality make up the characters you create. Sometimes it’s difficult when you realize that parts of you could be as vulnerable, deceptive, evil, lascivious, and longing as some of your characters turn out to be.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think if I learned anything from writing my book, it would be learning who I really am. In my book, Mattie has to learn who and what she really is. In many ways throughout writing “Enigma” I believe I was on the same journey in my own life. I really feel like while writing this I took my own adventure through life and found out who it really is that I am. I found out what I really stand for, believe, and strive to attain. In the end I really believe I found my true self.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never quit. Never believe you aren’t good enough, that you don’t have the potential, or that it just won’t happen for you. Whether it be writing or something else, if you can dream it, then you can make it a reality if you believe.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I really want my readers to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I appreciate all of their support. If it weren’t for the readers, we writers would be nothing! Thank you to all of them who have given me the positive support to make “Enigma” happen! It amazes me every time I see download reports that people support me so much! I really hope that everyone enjoys every word and may their lives be full of adventure!

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
I faced a few challenges, the first is that I had to do some research on California law considering I am from Oklahoma.
Another thing that was very important to me was that I had a desire to write a series that anyone from any age group preteen and up could read and not find it inappropriate. Though there are some scenarios where peer pressure and things play a large role, this is not a book that parents or schools have to be weary of kids reading. I wanted to write a successful book series that I didn’t have to be weary of my own kids or my family members picking up or me having to say….”oh yeah, sorry about that one scene there.” Or “oh, you might want to skip pages …. To ….. “ I wanted it to be something captivating for all audiences that anyone could read.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Try It.

My friends, you know me well.  You've seen me struggle for my whole life.  You always knew me to be a seeker.  You read my constant words of searching.  You read my constant philosophical self discussions via my blog and journals.  You saw my posts and talked endlessly with me about philosophy, spirituality, truth, love, and light.  You saw me try out different religions.  You saw me try for true wisdom.  You saw me fail, and struggle.  And you ALWAYS knew me to be one who doesn't simply dive into something without THOROUGHLY researching it.  And you saw me lost, addicted, and troubled for years.  Now you see me, totally changed.  You see me doing good things, and not evil things.  You hardly recognize me.  And now I want to tell you, after all the YEARS of my searching, I found the answers I always sough in Christianity.  I am not saying that the answer is RELIGION... I'm saying the truth is within the word of God the BIBLE.  And how it appears to you.  I believe in the God of YOUR understanding.  If you have known me to be a true unbiased seeker, then I ask you not to take on MY God, but to simply TRY IT.  Because I want you to see the truth, as I have. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Interview with Author Stephen B. Pearl



Stephen B. Pearl.

3 Links:


Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book.

            Hi all. I’m Stephen B. Pearl remember the B if you Google me, it makes it easier to find me. I’m a fiction writer who thinks of himself as an okay kind of guy. Though I’m constantly surprised by how many folk mistake polite and easy going for sucker. They tend to learn the difference when they mess with something I care about. I’ve written several novels and have published four of them at the time of this writing. I’ll have two more novels published by the end of 2013. I also have stories in a verity of anthologies. I was a lifeguard for longer than I like to admit and trained as an Emergency Medical Care Assistant in my youth. I’m a better than average backyard mechanic and home handyman, an incurable girl watcher and hopelessly faithful and in love with my wife, who can drive me round the twist faster than a rocket car.
            The odd skill mix above comes in quite handy in my writing. My studies in metaphysics were applied when I wrote Nukekubi, my Paranormal Action Adventure, while in Tinker’s Plague the skill set I gave my Tinker, a doctor of general applied technologies, is a greatly exaggerated version of my own.

What inspired you to write your first book?

This is easy, if corny. My wife, or to be accurate the woman who is now my wife. I was smitten and started writing this horrible fairy tale type fantasy with her as the beautiful princess. Princess, yea right, maybe if you think Leia and Fiona. I like smart capable women and Joy is all that and more. So I wrote this horrible book which at the time I thought was wonderful. It took a few years for me to see how bad it really was. It did however accomplish its most important task. We’ll be twenty seven years married this November. The book also showed me that I could do it. After that it became a process of learning to write well.


Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes. Fast paced and adhering to an internal logic. By this I mean that if I am writing magic the magic will be consistent within the structure I define in the book. If someone has trouble levitating a pebble on page five they won’t be levitating a bolder on page two hundred unless a rational, such as additional training, is given. I assume my readers are intelligent people with a fair general knowledge and do my best to respect that intelligence. I also like to keep the pace up. I hate it as a reader when I have to drag myself through page after page where nothing is happening, so I try to keep something going on, which isn’t to say I don’t let the tension dip and rise, I do. If you have nothing but high stress it desensitizes the reader. I feel it important to have a peek and valley structure for the tension in a book with each succeeding peek higher than the last until the conclusion. In this way the reader feels the high stress peeks more because the valleys sensitize them to the effect.

How did you come up with the title?

Tinker’s Plague was easy. The lead character is a Tinker, Doctor of General applied Technologies, and he is dealing with a Plague.

Nukekubi was named after the book’s antagonist. Nukekubi are a form of Japanese goblin that separate their heads from their bodies and fly around scaring people to death.

Worlds Apart was self evident, since the male and female leads are from two parallel earths.

Haven’s in the Storm, well the army of monsters invading my lead character’s world is known as the Storm and Ackdominel, my lead character, has to lead the human survivors to the haven the wizards have prepared for them.

I tend to be a bit of a pragmatist when it comes to titles.


Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes.  You want more than that? Read the books and if I’ve done my job right you’ll get the message without even knowing I’ve given it to you. The first job of fiction is to entertain. If fiction can do more than entertain that can draw it across the line from good to great, but first it must entertain. Any message I include will be woven into the world and characters there for you to ponder or not as you wish.


How much of the book is realistic?

Gods, this varies. The Magic system in Nukekubi follows the principles of the Western Esoteric System with the power level bumped up. So some aspects will be recognizable to people who study such things.

Tinker’s Plague is a very realistic extrapolation of where we will be in about two hundred years time if we don’t do anything to fix the mess we’re making now. The science in it is pretty solid.

Worlds Apart, the stuff about Wicca and the witch burnings is quite accurate but it is a story about a wizard that travels between parallel universes and flies around on a magic carpet on his world where the laws of physics are different. I took a lot of latitude with this one while staying consistent within the book.

Haven’s in the Storm, though it is a fantasy universe and they are fighting ogres and trolls and the like the military formations and armour types are fairly accurate to our own world of the late fifteen hundreds.


Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Sometimes. When my wizard from Worlds Apart, first sees Alcina, the Wiccan priestess from our world, he is charmed, stunned, enthralled. I’ve had that effect twice in my life. With all due respect to her husband one of those times was when I saw Alyson Hannigan on the screen. The other, and more important, was when I first saw a picture of Joy, my wife, on her cousin’s wall. Joy knows about Alyson and looks on with amusement.

I do use a lot of my own emotional responses. For me writing is like method acting. I find something inside that parallels what my character is feeling and bring it to the fore in myself so I can put it on the page.  

What books have most influenced your life most?
Lord of the Rings: It gave me my moral code and taught me that good can triumph if good never quits, and good need not be lily white to still be good.
Dune: It taught me how to think and that the mastery of self was a matter of practice, learning and will.
Comic books: again with the never quit but also that one person can matter. A hero isn’t a hero because he puts on a leotard or has a fancy power; he or she is a hero because of the choices he or she makes.
The Dragon Riders of Pern Books: “What has been done can be done,” and not a direct quote, but the idea that while you never throw the first punch by the gods you through the last one.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Jim Butcher. His Harry Dresden Wizard for Higher books are brilliant. He is also a heck of a nice guy, or at least he seemed so during the rather brief time I spent with him and his lovely wife Shannon at a con a few years ago.

What book are you reading now?

I just finished one on Norse Mythology and am starting one on Celtic Myths and legends. I also have Ira Nayman’s what once were Miracles are now Children’s Toys on the go and Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story. One book for my car. One for the WC. One by my bed.


What are your current projects?
At present I am editing Tinker’s Sea, the second book in the tinker series. Each tinker book is a standalone set in the same post apocalyptic world. There is some character cross over but you don’t need to start with book one to follow the stories. I need to get started on a story for the second in the Morbid Seraphic series of anthologies, and I’m just about to put fingers to keys on a comedic cyber punk piece tentatively titled Cats. That is if I can ever get my head out from under all the promotional stuff I’m doing.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Ra, my primary God. I know it makes me sound like some Pagan version of a holy roller and that is a bit embarrassing because I’m not, but I think most people of faith, no matter what they choose to name the divine, can understand this. There is a quiet strength that you need not shout to the world or push on others that comes from being in touch with the divine. No one has a monopoly on it, it doesn’t matter what you name it and it isn’t in any book. It doesn’t mean you have to deny science and natural law, it simply is. 

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes. I kinda went from wanting to be an astronaut to wanting to be a writer.


If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not in my latest one but in Tinker’s Plague I use a type of wind turbine that is now outdated. I’d love to update some of the technologies. That is always an issue in science fiction though, and I’m not so dated that people would actually notice. I just know and I’m a perfectionist about things like that.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Hundreds of millions of words. Books upon books. Comics that threatened to make the floor collapse. The fire is stoked with the works of others that are distilled into new forms and pass out through ones fingertips onto the keyboard.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Keep in mind this is a rough draft. It’s still a couple of edits away from being complete but this is an excerpt from Tinker’s sea. To set it up Tabby, the tinker, has made port at a lighthouse station on Lake Huron just as the tail end of a hurricane is blowing in. A ship is floundering off the cost and because she is a coast guard reservist she is helping with the rescue effort. The Wave Mistress is Tabby’s boat.


Tabby and Burt hurried along the path hanging onto the rope at its edge. Sleet and hail mixed with the rain making everything slippery and stinging their faces. Reaching the pear they saw two people in heavy weather outfits readying the rescue boat. Tabby spared the Wave Mistress a glance.
“We set?” demanded Burt.
“The engine’s giving trouble again,” replied a female voice.
“Shorting grounded thing!” Burt rushed to where a hatch had been opened at the stern of the boat. Tabby followed him. The bio-diesel fuelled four hundred horse power engine sat below decks and whirred ineffectually as a man at the bridge depressed a button.
“Stop before you kill the battery,” shouted Tabby.
“Shorted thing. Not enough emulsifiers in the bio-diesel. Fuels turned to jelly. Exhaust dumps waist heat into the fuel. If it starts it’ll keep running,” explained Burt.
“Get me a plumber’s torch. I’ll heat the lines and maybe we can get the fuel to liquefy.”
Burt grunted and pointed to a torch that was clipped to the inside of the engine compartment. “I’ll handle the last of the prep.”
Tabby played the torch’s flame along the fuel line and filter. As she worked she felt someone clip a safety line onto her weather suit’s belt and heard the sounds of final preparations.
After a pair of minutes that felt like days Tabby called, “Try it now.”
The starter whirred then the diesel sputtered to life.
“Close the hatch,” Burt’s voice cut through the storm.
Tabby obliged and the life boat pulled away from the dock then cut into the swell. The rise and fall of the waves bounced her in her seat and between the rain and dark she could barely see the point of the bow.
“Where the shorting hell are we?” demanded a male voice from the wheel.
“Keep it steady, Zain. Follow the pings and triangulate.” Burt’s voice was even. Tabby glanced at the man sitting beside her, there was an air about him she’d not seen before.
The small boat crested a wave then crashed down.
“Rescue one, do you copy? Over,” demanded Candy over the howling wind.
Burt pressed a button mounted on the neck of his heavy-weather suit. “This is rescue one, we copy. Over.”
“I have you both on radar. They’re about three hundred meters from your location east by north east. Can you see anything? Over.
“No visual yet.”
Tabby grabbed Burt’s arm and pointed off the starboard bow.
Burt nodded. “Correction, we see the hull. Am closing, Over and Out.”
“Understood, Over and Out.”
The rescue boat’s engine slowed as they fought the waves to close with the sinking ship.   The ship was awash and human figures scrambled on top of the wheel house and crates that littered the deck. The lifeboat was smashed in half its bow and stern dangling from the winch lines. Several crates slid over the sinking wreck. A man in rain leathers clung precariously to what remained of the mast.
“Help, help,” the cry was faint against the wind. Bracing himself against the railing Burt stood and scanned the water. “Five degrees to starboard.” He clutched the ring buoy gauged the wind and threw it. The line snaked out then the ring splashed into a trough in the waves. The water carried it up then the line intersected a figure struggling in the water. The survivor grasped the rope and Burt hauled her towards the rescue boat. The rope slipped between her fingers but she caught the buoy and clung to it with all her might. Burt grabbed her arm then Tabby gripped her other one and they hauled her aboard. Tabby bent to inspect the woman while Burt turned to Zain.


Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Finding time to write. It seems there are always a thousand things getting in the way.


Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
J.R.R. Tolkien, he was a master of the language. Often his work reads like poetry and he exemplified the best of the human spirit. I don’t write like him but there is beauty in his work.

For Living authors Jim Butcher. Harry Dresden is the modern knight errant in a dirty trench coat battered and binged and still trying to do the right thing despite the fact that the very people who should most admire him ridicule and look down on him.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

This is increasing as the scope of my sales increases. At present I try to keep it within a couple hours of home for economic reasons. Though the Library in Bakewell Debenshire England has a copy of Tinker’s Plague. I was in town visiting my mother in law. Interestingly enough Worlds Apart is set largely in Bakewell.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Turning off my inner editor long enough to get the idea down. First I have to write it then I worry about making it good and that can be a challenge.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Writers are delusional masochists. Is that encouraging enough? Actually, I always learn from writing my books because I believe good fiction must stem from fact. I research things constantly to bring them to the page. I am currently trying to market a book set in space where we have effective interplanetary ships but no faster than light travel. I spent a lot of time boning up on solar sails and ion drives. It was fun.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Get out while you can. It is not what you think and it will devour you. If you are already addicted, and it is an addiction, write the story you want to write. Don’t worry about the in thing because by the time you’ve written to meet the trend the trend will be over. Write what you want edit edit edit and get others to critique your work. Be open to guidance and if you make it big toss a quarter in my cup. I have a feeling sitting on a park bench with my recorder and a hat will be my retirement plan.


Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thanks. If you could do me the favor of penning an honest review and posting it on the web I would appreciate it. Amazon, Good Reads even Face Book anyplace. Visibility is everything in this industry and this is how you can help small time authors grow so we can keep bringing you the books you love.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Which book?

Research: I’ve written a lot of things fairly close to home. Ray, my male lead in Nukekubi, is a lifeguard by profession. I was a lifeguard for more years than I care to think about.  The sustainable energy technologies in Tinker’s Plague were drawn from my long term hobby of sustainable energy. So I made things a little easier on myself, but I still did a lot of research.

Literary: I happen to be severely dyslexic. As I type this rough draft word is making it look like a rainbow of colored squiggly lines. I fight for each sentence and edit, edit, edit. This is the hardest element for me. I have a gift for storytelling, a very good oral vocabulary, and, if I say so myself, a fair mind. However, for me the nuances of spelling, and to a lesser extent grammar, are a struggle. Of course knowing this I work very hard to see that it is not reflected in the finished product.

Psychological: Because of how I write I have been in tears as I typed. Remembering what it was like to be called a “Stupid stupid boy,” by the abusive school teacher when I was little so I could bring that to the character of Andy in Tinker’s Sea and make that pain come to life. Drawing forward the exhilaration you feel when you compete with death itself and win more life for the person you set out to save. It is a rush to set your skill and training against death and win. In the end we never triumph but to keep the score even for another day that is a power trip that kicking a ball between a couple of posts just can’t match. So it can be a challenge to go to these places but one that is well worth it.

Logistical: This is a pain in the backside when one writes in the real world. I lucked out with Tinker’s Plague because the Guelph area was perfectly suited to the story I wanted to tell. With Tinker’s Sea I was forced to write around the geography a lot more. Sadly, with Nukekubi half of the wooded gully I used for one of the scenes no longer exists. It was my playground as a child.
When writing in a made up world you have a lot more latitude for where you place things though being married to a geologist I have to justify my mountain ranges and lakes with plate tectonics and ancient glaciers. But what ya gonna do?:-)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Interview with Author Joe Carvalko




We Were Beautiful Once is a psychologically complex courtroom novel that builds an intriguing web of events, creating a sustained sense of anticipation from chapter to chapter in the mold of John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief, where trial lawyer Nick Castalano tries to uncover the fate of Roger Girardin, MIA during the Korean War, and discovers he may have been murdered in a POW camp by Trent Hamilton, a politician (sights on becoming governor) and businessman. Before the war, Jack O'Conner, Hamilton, Girardin and Julie, Girardin's girlfriend and Jack's sister, hung out. In part the story follows the lives of the survivors, who after the war, with Roger's disappearance and Jack and Trent having spent years in a North Korean hell-hole, change dramatically, notably Jack goes through life teetering on the edge of insanity (believing he may have killed Girardin) and that his murderous act will be discovered by his sister, who waits her entire life for Roger’s return.



What inspired you to write your first book?

Twenty-five years ago I tried a case against the government demanding an accounting of Roger Dumas a Korea War soldier it claimed was MIA. The trial followed years of cover-up by the Army and the CIA, however, I won the first Federal court ordered reclassification of a U.S. soldier from MIA to POW. A documentary "Missing, Presumed Dead: The Search For America's POWs" narrated by Ed Asner details my trial efforts. I fictionalized the events drawn around the case as tried, delving into the issues of PTSD and generally converting it into a mystery with many characters of a wide-expanse of time.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Here is what Da Chen wrote: “Carvalko writes with such convincing realism and lyricism that I was at once brought into the landscape of his literary vision and grip of his storytelling.  His prose is wiry and wise, steely yet soulful. His tales are tethered to real life, lived and thoroughly pondered.  In right light, he is a cross between James Patterson and Scott Turow, only wiser and much more generous.”  Chen is New York Times bestselling author of Colors of the Mountain, a memoir, Brothers, a novel, and My Last Empress, a novel.

How did you come up with the title?

It speaks to the deterioration in body and soul of those silently ravaged by war.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

We abandon our children to demands that draft them into senseless wars and use their hands and minds for mayhem’s sake, and only in the accounting of those who survive into old age does it become apparent how beautiful they once were.

How much of the book is realistic?

Having tried many cases I use experiences from actual trials and create dramatic courtroom testimony that parallels events on the battlefield and in the prison camp. The juxtaposition of the courtroom and the battlefield makes the real seem surreal. In some sense it has the feel of The Rack, a 1956 movie where Paul Newman portrays an American soldier who collaborated with the Chinese while being held in a prison camp during the Korean war; or A Few Good Men where Tom Cruise cross-examines Jack Nicholson in defending Marines.

In addition to my knowledge of the trial, I researched the Korean War and use this in setting various battles, troop movements and troop surrenders. I have firsthand knowledge of the story’s settings, having made visits to Korea, working for a short while with the highest level of the Korean Department of Defense in Seoul. I am also a Cold War veteran of the Cuban Crisis, the Vietnam era and served in the Air Force with veterans of the Korean War. So, my story tracks the Korean War with a high degree of fidelity. There are many books about war, however relatively few about Korea. And, the recent success of James McBride’s The Miracle at St. Anna (WWII) leads me to conclude that there also may be a sizeable interest in the war that preceded Vietnam.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Base on the search for Roger Dumas, my experience growing up in the 50-60s in a rust belt town, my life as an 80s trial lawyer.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Jose Saramago’s the Blind, Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Saramago


What book are you reading now?

Saramago’s The Elephant’s Journey


Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Da Chen


What are your current projects?

Writing a memoire in Poetry—The Interior


Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

MFA program at Fairfield U.


Do you see writing as a career?

Yes


If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Would have pared down a few pages, would have been even more lyrical, but many publishers apparently do not prefer it as much as they prefer pulp.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I came from hard-headed disciplines, engineering, science and law. My career was filled with successful and failed inventors, corporate flights of fancy, mergers, law suits and high rollers who gamed the system. Since I was a very young man, my retreat had always been creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? Here is a short poem from The Interior

SIDE ROAD

Odysseus and Penelope

At nineteen, rebellious, blackboard jungle funk, joy
rheostat—zero. Dig-it Daddio?  Cool gloom,
smog in the noggin, stumblin’ through soda-jerk jobs,
joined Uncle Sam. One last time, me, my Chevy,
Penelope, blue ’52, skirts, whitewalls,
’47 Caddy V-8, two glasspacks, cruised
the drag, leavin’ behind drive-ins, S.S. Kresges,
the spent on Railroad Ave., the rich on Country Club
Road, landmarks memorized so like Odysseus,
I could return to the familiar and old, but
after “the War” it took fifty years to come back by
then town’d vanished in the wake of pot-holes, fifty
gallon drums, fast food wrappers, my Penelope,
raindrops streakin’ her windshield on a cloudless day.


Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Every piece of it is a struggle!


Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not now, having traveled to every continent except Antarctica and Australia. I anticipate traveling to venues to roll out the book.
Who designed the covers?

Eugenia Kim at GKGraphics


What was the hardest part of writing your book?

There are a lot of characters, lots of time periods, many settings, so getting the main character to come out of the weeds was hardest.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Ernest Hemingway once wrote,

"There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things, and because it takes a man’s life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave."

I believe in perseverance, seeking help, reading about and practicing what makes writing come to life--it takes one's entire life before we can measure just how far we get.

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