Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Anthony St Clair

Author name: Anthony St. Clair

 Links to book: https://rucksackuniverse.com/books/the-lotus-and-the-barley/

 Bio: Anthony St. Clair, a freelance writer and entrepreneur, is the author of over 500 fiction and non-fiction works, including novels, short stories, articles, and more. Library Journal calls Anthony’s storytelling “reminiscent of Terry Pratchett,” and his fiction has been celebrated for its “quirk, wit, travel, and magic.” In addition to his global travels, Anthony spent fifteen years in media and business before turning full time to writing in 2011. Together with his wife, son, and daughter, Anthony lives a life of everyday adventure at home in Oregon and on the road anywhere. For more information, see rucksackuniverse.com and anthonystclair.com.

 Tell us a silly fact about yourself: Much to my children’s ongoing amusement, I’m incapable of blowing up a balloon.

Please tell us about your publications/work. My Rucksack Universe series revolves around people who seek to know themselves so that they understand their place in the broader world, be that with a social group or a place they want to live in.

The core of everything I write is an exploration of how we make the decisions that shape our destinies. What are the rules we are told about life and living? How many of those rules help us do what we consider meaningful? What rules deserve to be followed—and which rules should we break or get rid of?

We go through this life trying to find our way, searching out how we fit in. Sometimes we have to push back against presumptions and notions from family or culture, so we can understand and live our own personal truths about the world. My Rucksack Universe series is all about people making those choices.

Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom? Even when we don’t realize it, the written word is all around us. Books and articles are obvious manifestations, but even “visual” mediums such as video have an underlying script or teleplay written element that guides what happens and what’s said. The written word is similar to the atmosphere: All around us and essential, yet easy to forget it’s there.

How did you become involved with bundles? (For Bundle Authors) I got to meet Chuck Heintzelman at Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s and Dean Wesley Smith’s Business Master Class in 2017. I’d been aware of his BundleRabbit platform, but especially after meeting Chuck was so impressed with how BundleRabbit was helping authors develop and participate in ebook bundles. Bundles are such a great way to help readers dive in deep on different variations on a theme, topic, etc., and it’s so fun to work with other authors on new ways to put our work in the world.

 How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? Travel has always been a big part of my life, and my fiction centers around people who travel as a lifestyle. I include destination research and draw from on-the-ground experience as much as I can too, so I can really evoke that feeling of “being there.”

For my novel THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY, I drew on my own travels to London, my background covering Oregon’s craft beer industry, and a “what if?” mindset that helped me imagine a London that had built itself up in a different way, but based on landmarks that could be familiar to us in our world.

The beery touches were especially fun. My work has brought me on many a tour of breweries, so I got to bring all that experience together not only into my pro brewer and homebrewer characters, but the beer itself is its own character.

What is your greatest success? Marrying well. I had the good fortune and the good sense to know when I had found my soulmate. Jodie and I met in 2005, got married in 2009. From business to parenting, we bring out the best in one another, and I’m grateful every day that I found her.

Which authors have influenced you the most? If there is one author I wish I could have met, it’s Terry Pratchett. Discworld titles such as Thud! and Witches Abroad are books I re-read and re-read. Pratchett’s characters have to channel other feelings into meaningful action, and his sense of humor and satire is a candy coating that helps us swallow some tricky truths.

What is your writing space like? My wife and I currently share a “corner office” in our house. I usually use the office in the morning for writing and client work, and she uses it in the afternoon for teaching violin lessons. At other times I’ll be set up at our front table, with a MacBook Pro, a mouse, and an external keyboard. It helps me be both focused and flexible—and reminds me that I can work anywhere.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? If you want others to value your work, time, and expertise, then make sure you show that you value them too.

It’s not uncommon for writers to undervalue their work and underestimate the time and energy it takes to do their work. When I went full-time as a  freelance writer in 2011, I made sure to track my time on projects, agree fair rates with clients and editors, and, above all, to make sure that I always got paid. Writers do work that other people wish they could do—the power and value in understanding that is without equal.

 Tell us about your latest piece? My 2020 novel, STRANGE RIDE, brought me an interesting challenge. The setting was in a walled city full of skyscrapers, and drew heavily on labyrinths, mythology, and the five stages of grief: depression, anger, bargaining, denial, acceptance, collectively referred to as “DABDA.” I had to extensively research labyrinths. Plus, the city where I live—Eugene, Oregon—is home to many indoor and outdoor labyrinths, so I also got to have some contemplative introverted fun going to different labyrinths around town and walking them.

STRANGE RIDE focuses on a 10-year-old girl named Soarsha. She lives in this giant walled city, in a high-rise apartment with her dad. They lost her mother years ago, in the wasteland beyond the city. We meet Soarsha on her tenth birthday, and see her get bullied by her classmates. She seeks refuge in her Wandering Heroes comic books, and in hanging out with her dad. It’s not necessarily a great life, but she has some good things going for her. Until, the next day, she comes home… but her father doesn’t. She sets out to find him, but winds up discovering truths she didn’t even know she was looking for.

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? There’s this ongoing discussion that it can be really difficult to publish ebooks to different retailers—you know, upload to Amazon, to Draft 2 Digital, to Apple Books, to Kobo, etc.—because you have to enter the same information over and over. The problem isn’t the process, it’s whether or not the writer is organized to handle the process in less time.

 I independently publish my work, and I distribute ebooks to all the channels: Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play, Nook, you name it. I keep a spreadsheet with all the details about every release: publication date, Patreon release date, links to stores, prices for different markets, even the color codes for my cover’s primary color. Once that info is set up, it’s a simple copy and paste job. I can set up a title across multiple channels in less than an hour.

Writers get hung up on the number of stores. That’s not the problem. Most of your time and energy goes into getting the details ready. Actually setting them up is a much smaller fraction of the time it takes than we often think it is.

 What’s your greatest networking tip? There’s an easy way to be remembered by pretty much any presenter at any event. It’s based on a simple principle: Everyone likes knowing their work is appreciated, looked forward to, and will help someone.

Before going to any sort of writing conference, take a few minutes to research presenters whose talks or workshops you plan on attending. Then, contact them—through their website’s contact form, their email, or a social network—and leave a short and simple note, such as “Hi, I’m FIRSTNAME LASTNAME, and I’ll be attending your talk on SUBJECT at NAMEOFEVENT. Just wanted to let you know I’m really looking forward to it.”

Anytime I’ve done this, it’s led to useful connections and worthwhile conversations. Plus, the moment I introduce myself, they say something like, “Oh, I got a note from you, thank you so much!”

It’s a simple but powerful way to help yourself stand out.

Why you should produce a Large Print Edition of your book

I am in the process of producing large print editions of as many of my books as possible. Some people have asked me why I bother.

I did a quick search of LP editions available on Amazon UK – there were only 7 pages worth (109 results) , and most of those were calendars/planners.

Of the rest I found:

The Karma Sutra

Frankenstein

The Picture of Dorian Grey

Siddhartha

The Crimson Cryptogram: A Detective Novel

Dracula

Pride and Prejudice

Great Expectations

Emma

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Prince (Machiavelli)

Razor Sharp

The Yellow Wallpaper

The Importance of Being Earnest

Final Justice

Moby Dick

A Patricia Cornwell book

A Christmas Promise

Give Me Death

Eight Days to Live

Southern Lights

Capital Crimes by Stuart Woods

Most of these were via 3rd party sellers and may or may not have actually been available.

There may have been more which were incorrectly marked.

Abe books has a large print section https://www.abebooks.co.uk/docs/LargePrint/ and better accessibility than Amazon however Abe charges sellers to sell on its site – so that may exclude indies and small presses from considering it as an option.

https://www.wfhowes.co.uk/browse/formats/large-print – has a reasonable catalogue

W.F.Howes Ltd is the UK’s leading audiobook, digital services and large print publisher, releasing around 100 new unabridged audiobooks every month under a number of imprints including ClipperJammerAvidLamplightNudged and Jammer Teen.

Our digital arm provides eAudiobook and eBook lending to the library market through the RBdigital platform, alongside several other platforms specialising in same-day newspapers and magazines, adult learning and language tutorial programs.

But unless you know that is there, or are accepted by them you’re book won’t be available in this accessible format. 

Why do I do this?

My father was partially sighted, having lost some of his sight serving in the army. He enjoyed reading but struggled to read printed books for any length of time unless they were large print. In his later life he could barely read regular print books at all. What a shame – he loved to read. Why should a person miss out on literature because they cannot see well?

It is easier now with e-readers and audiobooks, but these are not suitable for everyone (especially older technophobes like my dad), and audiobooks are pretty expensive. Listening to a story read aloud is a very different experience to reading the printed word. Surely the joy of reading should be available to all?

Our local town library (when there were such things) had a small assortment of LP books, but not many.

It’s better now than it was but lots of indie authors with great books simply don’t offer then in large print – maybe because they don’t think about it much, or don’t know.

How easy is it to produce a book in large print?

RNIB states large print is font 16-18 and giant print is anything larger than this. Regular print is 10-12-point font, so there is quite a difference. And some people really struggle with smaller fonts.

Amazon will allow authors to produce book in large print, there is a little box to tick stating it’s in large print format. Other than that it’s a case of formatting the book for a larger trim size (8×10 or above). KDP will provide a template of all of the trim and cover sizes. It’s relatively easy to copy the text into this template and use MS Word styles to change the font size (and pick a font like Times New Roman or Arial) and the chapter headers etc. The cover would need to be enlarged – but most of the image design programmes can do that, or you can use the cover creator and select the appropriate size for the book.

That’s it. There’s no extra cost, other than ordering a proof copy.

There are restrictions on expanded distribution for some trim sizes but there are a few which are suitable. ED puts the price up – and as LP books tend to be meatier they will likely be more expensive than the regular sized one. KDP print only caters up to 400 pages – so anything longer than that will need to be split – again this raises the cost to the buyer. I am going to investigate the logistics of that at some point soon.

So why not produce a large print edition when you produce your paperback? All it takes is a little extra time. Everyone should have access to books, and it’s easy to produce.

https://www.rnib.org.uk/information-everyday-living-reading/large-and-giant-print

Guest Post – Desiree Villena – How to Market a Book Without Breaking the Bank #Bookmarketing #Books

How to Market a Book Without Breaking the Bank

You know what they say: you have to spend money to make money. Or, as the Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus put it in the original Latin, Necesse est facere sumptum qui quaerit lucrum.

That’s right: the financial mind behind this maxim wasn’t some Daddy Warbucks wannabe — it was a writer. And though Plautus wasn’t selling ebooks on the web’s best self-publishing companies, his wisdom still applies to indie authors working today.

Fortunately, investing in your writing career doesn’t have to mean emptying your savings account. Giving your book the perfect, professional cover might require a decent payout up front, but promoting your book is a different story. When it comes to getting your work in front of readers’ eyes, a little DIY can go a long way.

Not sure where to start? Here are three ways to market your book without breaking the bank.

1. Set up an author website

First thing’s first: you need a home base for all your marketing efforts. And that means setting up a killer author website.

You don’t have to get fancy, with all manner of flashy animations and mini-apps. In fact, you should keep in simple, paring away all the distractions so your most essential content stands  out. That means putting your work — and links to buy your work — front and center, along with an author bio so readers can get to know the person behind the stories.

In addition to compelling descriptions of all your books, make sure to feature some high-res images of your cover art too. Not only will they lend some visual interest to your site without distracting from your most important content, they’ll help you ensure your books are recognizable right from the thumbnail. Just think of The Great Gatsby, with its lipsticked mouth and glossy eyes, projected in an inky sky over a glowing cityscape. Or The Catcher in the Rye, with its iconic, burnt-orange carousel horse. That’s the level of brand recognition you want for your cover art. And to get there, you’ll have to start by giving it pride of place on your website.

How much will all this cost you? Well, you can set up a no-frills website for free on WordPress. It’s best to register a domain name, though, so you can set up your shop on, say, AnneAuthor.com instead of AnneAuthor.wordpress.com. Don’t worry — a domain name will only cost you about $10-12 a year.

2. Build out your mailing list

After you fill out your site with tantalizing tidbits about your book — and yourself — there’s one more thing you should make sure to add: a place to collect your visitors’ emails. Once you have them, you can feed them into an email marketing platform like MailerLite to promote your books through newsletters.

Of course, not everyone who stumbles across your website will want to give you their contact information for free. That’s why you should entice them a little with a lead magnet. Think of this as a freebie that will draw them in like iron to, well, a magnet. Offer to send something interesting to anyone who signs up — maybe a short story you wrote, or the spreadsheet that took you from brainstorm to publication when you were first writing your book.

Every email you collect with this bait is marketing gold. Those are all people you can woo over time, so that they’re eager to preorder when your next book is set to launch. And best of all, growing your mailing list won’t require dipping into your bank account, at least at first. MailerLite lets you collect up to 1,000 contacts for free. Once you’ve broken past that barrier, you can move up to a paid subscription tier for $15.00 a month, which will let you handle 2,500 emails. But until you hit that benchmark, all you’re investing is the time it takes to craft your lead magnet.

3. Get more eyes on your site with a blog tour

Now, let’s talk about how to feed more names into your mailing list — for free.

During pre-COVID days, one of the most glamorous (and most expensive) book marketing tactics was the book tour. We can’t all be like sci-fi phenom John Scalzi, hitting up 24 cities in five weeks. We can, however, try to replicate that whirlwind dynamic with a blog tour.

On a blog tour, you’ll write guest posts for a wide range of websites frequented by readers in your genre. In exchange for providing your “hosts” with intriguing content, they’ll give you a platform to promote your work. Just make sure to link out to your website — and tell your visitors there’s something in it for them if they offer up their emails.

Unlike a traditional book tour, with its nightmarish tangle of logistical considerations, a blog tour isn’t hard to set up. Just look for book blogs that specialize in your genre, and see if they’re open to guest submissions. Then, get in touch with any promising candidates and pitch something you’d like to contribute. For a craft-focused blog, that could be an inside look into your writing process. For a book reviewer, you could offer a free copy of your latest title in exchange for their honest impressions. The key is to pitch something each blog’s readers would love to read.

The best thing about this promotional hack? It’s completely free! Now, get out there and start connecting with your future fans.

 

Noobs’ Guide to Self-Publishing – Reviews on KDP/Amazon

(C)A L Butcher

 

I haven’t done a Noob’s Guide article for ages, but during lockdown I’ve spent a lot of time on the KDP forums. If you’re unaware of these they’re the forums for Kindle Direct Publishing and offer guidance from other author/publishers to their kindred souls. There’s a corps of veterans (including myself) who have been around long enough to answer most of the questions – Hitch runs a service for newbies and knows a lot about formatting, Booknookbiz, Notjohn and Levi’s Companion are always willing to help out.

That said there are dozens of newbie authors who simply don’t read the help pages. Most of the answers to the regular questions can be found there, or a simple check on the forum pages – for the hundreds of similar questions asked every month.

READ THE DAMN FAQ AND HELP PAGES! Seriously. It will save a lot of bother.

One of the recurring questions is about reviews. An author posts up that review he or she knows about can’t be posted or has been taken down. Why?

Let’s start with a bit of history: several years ago a whole host of authors were gaming the system. Getting reviews by paying people to leave dozens of fabulous five-star reviews, and other rather underhand methods. It caused a storm. After that the big bad Zon got a little sensitive about product reviews, particularly in relation to e-books.

A review is only of value to the customer looking at it (and hence to Amazon) if it is impartial. A review from your mother is NOT impartial. A review from your mate Dave who thinks your book is great is NOT seen as impartial.

Think about it. You go to buy a product and all the reviews say it’s the most awesome thing ever created do you stop and think, ‘Really?’ There will ALWAYS be someone who doesn’t like a product, and that is especially true of books. Most books, if they have been reviewed, have a mix – some readers will love the book, some will be meh, and some will hate it. All are perfectly valid opinions. Do you love every book you read or movie you see? No, of course not. And that’s the other thing – what I like in a book is great worldbuilding and awesome characters. I can overlook the odd typo or editing issue. Some readers will hate a book with technical problems. Some readers will like a book with juicy sex scenes, and some won’t. Some readers will not mind violence, and some will put the book down for this.

How much is too much? That’s subjective.

Would you buy a product if you thought those reviews might be a bit dodgy? Maybe? Probably not?

Amazon changed their review process in 2017 as a result of this scandal (see link for the official guidelines). 

  • A customer has to have spent $50 (or equivalent) in the last 12 months to leave a review.
  • Persons who share a household or are well known to the author cannot leave a review
  • The author cannot review his/her own book (although I’ve had a few emails suggesting I review my own books – well done bots).

The guidelines state that social media friends or followers are allowed to leave a review. In reality, this is a very grey area. There are several posts a week from people who say follower so and so has told the author they cannot leave a review for book X. Where is the degree of separation on such relationships?

How do you define a friend on Facebook? Someone who is in the same groups as you and you comment on their posts? Do you chat to them in messenger? Do you share links? You can bet Amazon tracks this stuff and pulls reviews if it feels there is too much of a relationship there.

Personally, I’d say if a reader contacts you to say they can’t post it may be BECAUSE they feel they know you well enough to do so that they cannot post.

Reviews are for customers – not for authors. It is NOT an author’s job to contact KDP, or whine on the forum that a review doesn’t post. Advise the customer to email community-help@amazon.com and ask why. If an author does it the likelihood is Amazon will take a hard look at the other reviews on that author’s book.

Amazon does, in theory, allow review copies to be given out – but you cannot demand a review. If any incentive is offered it invalidates the review and reviewers are supposed to state they had a free copy for an unbiased review.

‘You may provide free or discounted copies of your books to readers. However, you may not demand a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review. Offering anything other than a free or discounted copy of the book—including gift cards—will invalidate a review, and we’ll have to remove it. To learn more, see our Community Guidelines.’

‘Additional Guidelines for Customer Reviews

The following guidelines apply to Customer Reviews in addition to the other guidelines given above:

  • If your review is removed or rejected because it does not comply with our guidelines concerning promotional content, you may not resubmit a review on the same product, even if the resubmitted review includes different content.
  • Reviews may only include URLs or links to other products sold on Amazon.
  • Customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product.
  • We may restrict the ability to submit a review when we detect unusual reviewing behavior, or to maintain the best possible shopping experience.
  • You may not manipulate the Amazon Verified Purchase badge, such as by offering special pricing to reviewers or reimbursing reviewers.

To learn more about Amazon Verified Purchase views refer to About Amazon Verified Purchase Reviews.’

Customers can remove or amend their own reviews (and I have done this).

‘We remove reviews that violate our Community Guidelines. We also remove reviews if we unlink two titles that were incorrectly linked. The reviews will only appear on the detail page of the book for which they were first posted. To protect our customers’ privacy, we only share information about specific reviews with the customer who posted the review. If a customer contacts you about their missing review, ask them to write to community-help@amazon.com. Customers can also remove their own reviews.

Customer Review Guidance.

In short – it is NOT the author’s job or business to deal with reviews that can’t be posted.

Do not expect reviews just because a reader has bought your book. Reviews on books are about 1%.

As a reader I don’t review every book I read. I doubt many readers do. Do you?

Ratings can be left without a text review.

If the review is not complementary – tough luck. Not everyone is going to like your book. Move on. Do not react, do not comment. It’s none of your business.

(C)A L Butcher

Other useful links about the review process on KDP and some of the articles on the issues of dodgy reviews.

Other products have been subject to these shenanigans:

https://www.authorimprints.com/amazon-book-review-policy-authors/

https://www.lovemoney.com/news/52275/amazons-battle-with-unbiased-product-reviews

Phone Chargers https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/01/which-uncovers-fake-five-star-reviews-flooding-amazon/

https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/07/exposed-the-tricks-sellers-use-to-post-fake-reviews-on-amazon/

https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-bad-review-practices-crackdown-2018-4?r=US&IR=T

Guest Post – Mary Ann Cherry – It Isn’t Just About the Verb

Today we welcome Mary Ann Cherry – author of the Jessie O’Bourne Art Mysteries

ALOHA!

IT ISN’T JUST ABOUT THE VERB

My short talk is about adding excitement to your writing, not about the difference between active and passive verbs. To use active words instead of passive, you must first know the difference. so even though most of you are old hands at it, I’ll give a short explanation.

Recognizing passive voice takes attentiveness. The biggest giveaway is some form of the to be verb in a verb phrase. The “to be” verbs are essential in writing. But with overuse, they can also be an enemy of the novelist or short story author.

So let’s first go basic.  In passive voice, the subject receives the action such as: This scarf was made by my grandma. Or…the building was demolished by the storm. Sometimes, in the passive voice, you can’t even tell who is performing an action. For instance: The building was demolished. (By what?)

In active voice, the subject performs an action such as: My grandma knitted this scarf. Or…the storm demolished the building. Or better yet, get some action going:  The scarf twisted under grandma’s knitting needles, growing and stretching like the beanstalk in that old fairy tale.

Phew. That’s done. Now let’s talk about how to use words to activate scenes, characters and descriptions that don’t bore the reader. Active writing isn’t just about the verb. It’s about engaging the reader. So when I talk about active words, I am talking about words that elevate a story from the mundane to the exciting—or at least to the interesting. Choices between boring and exciting can be as basic as what your character is eating or drinking. Words should be painting a picture in your reader’s mind. They should bring taste, smell, and color. When you are writing fiction and have a choice between active and passive verbs think physical. Think “show don’t tell”. It helps to start with the basic sentence and then reevaluate the words.

  • She was drinking apple juice
  • She drank apple cider
  • She sipped hot cider with mulling spices

Okay, there you have the basic. Now, think physical. Think Aloha moment…that which is different will always stand out…

  • She lifted the mug to sip steaming cider, redolent with the heady smell of cinnamon and cloves and hot enough to burn her tongue—badly. That can show rather than tell…another way to show rather than tell.

 

She lifted the mug to sip.  Now give the CIDER a personality – “The amber cider burnt an angry path down her throat like flowing lava.”

The steam, the heat, the smell, the burnt tongue all bring the reader into the moment. It’s about engaging the reader. Active words overhaul a boring story the way exercise shapes and sculpts a flabby body.

Does it have to be verbs that make a story seem to rumble with action? It is certainly better to use verbs that show action instead of the boring passive verbs. However, I have found those can be overdone easily as well.  To augment those words that move, that suffocate, that rejoice, use words that entertain—that DO something to the reader’s experience.

When someone picks up a book, they want to be entertained. They want to be sucked into the story until they become part of it. They want your hero or heroine’s life to become their alternate reality, if only for a short time.

What makes that happen?

Let’s talk people. Fabricate a character readers love, or a character that readers love to hate without making them look in the mirror so often, or have their ex-wife tell about what a jerk they are. Instead, do most of it with—and I’ll repeat it–action!

DESCRIBING YOUR CHARACTER: Description of the character doesn’t have to be dull. A description can be active, and inanimate objects can be given life.

  1. She looked in the mirror and saw freckles, red hair, and her favorite blue shirt– okay, we’re describing the woman…but it’s a bit dull.
  2. Freckles and red hair run in the family – she hated both… a little more active.
  3. Her red hair curled about her face and freckles peppered her nose and cheeks. With an action verb, notice that the freckles have become a living thing? They participate in the story.

If you want more drama, then think more physical. The freckles are alive, but give them something to do.

  1. Freckles didn’t just run in her family – they stampeded through generations of O’Bournes like the running of the bulls in Pamploma.

Character traits: You can describe your character’s personality the same way, but usually it is better to give examples of what the character does to SHOW true character rather than describe it.

  1. Adam is selfish
  2. Adam is a penny pincher – too clicheʼ
  3. More active – Adam pinched pennies until they squealed like piglets.

Or think show don’t tell…

  1. Adam lifted the heart-shaped box and flipped it over to look at the price. Would it take the twenty-dollar box of truffles to make her forgive him? Or could he buy the ten-dollar box of assorted candies and have the clerk gift wrap it free? He took the smaller box off the shelf and handed the clerk his platinum card.

 

LOVE SCENES – of course passion should be active. At least one hopes.

  1. John is passionate about Carrie… informative but boring
  2. John kissed her
  3. John swept her into his arms and kissed her passionately – better

Think physical…think action

  1. In the middle of the sidewalk, John yanked her to him as though saving her from an oncoming bus, then kissed her until traffic stopped.

DESCRIPTION – How about scenic descriptions? They can be active as well.

Tumbleweeds rolled across the dry ground and settled against the fence like waves rolling in from a brown ocean. The clay soil crunched and cracked under Jason’s feet.

Instead of “The sky was cloudy grey ”  anthropomorphize… The wind grew in strength and the oppressive grey clouds trembled like goose-bumpy teens slipping into a haunted house.

FEELINGS AND MENTAL ACTIVITIES are not exempt from action…from page 132 of WRITING the THRILLER by T. Macdonald Skillman…

“…Comprehension swept away denial, eroding her self-control, allowing the fragmented thoughts swirling about her to tumble out.”

Example two – show, don’t tell…from Cherry –

She stood slightly bent, the broken thoughts swirling about her weakened body like the serpent hair of Medusa. She put her hands to her pale face and heard a feral muttering, realizing the sound burbled from her own mouth. The truth will out.

ANTHROPOMORPHIZE: How does the “humanizing” of inanimate objects, the sky, a kitchen table, a random thought or a tumble of nut-brown hair make your writing more exciting and active? Readers spend their days sitting, watching, listening. They yearn for something exciting to do but either haven’t the time, the money or the inclination. The elderly live sedentary lives. The ill are bed-ridden. The activity of words used in extraordinary ways pulls them into the story and gives them an experience. It doesn’t have to be monumental—just different from hum-drum. The story doesn’t have to be outlandish. It just needs to be told in a manner that gives the couch potato a sense of something happening. Let them experience movement and delicious description vicariously.

Colors can be active. The correct color gives personality and mood in a scene. We all know this but seldom think about it.

Which one brings a love scene to life?

Example one: Her billowy dress was low-cut and in his favorite color—a pale, baby’s breath pink (makes you think right away of babies and diapers, doesn’t it?)

Example two: Her billowy dress was low-cut and in his favorite color—a blast of erotic red (red is erotic, aggressive, demanding…

EMOTIONS have color. You may hear “red-hot anger” – you never hear “pink anger”. Any shade of color that would have white added to it, pink, pale lavender, light blue, denote weaker emotions. The primary colors vibrate in your writing. Make sure you use them in ways that are appropriate. Use variations such as crimson for red, ultramarine for blue, etc.

COLORS—especially in a scene: Think about things you like to do and places you like to travel Each one should have a color that comes to mind. We seldom think about that but it part of the way our world works. Morning starts with white bread that becomes brown toast or a blackened charcoal slab fed to the birds.

Color affects mood in our daily life and will do so in the book. A grey drizzly day, a happy sunshine-filled blue sky, etc. Make yourself set the stage. Color can do that in a similar manner of the active verb without having to elaborate. But when you join both together they rock!  A noun that has some latent action will help…

A shimmer of pale-blue draperies –where are we? A bedroom? A B&B?
A blast of Navy-blue – are we at a military parade?
Green –we can’t think green without thinking “nature” and grass OR envy, depending on the scene
A riot of yellow sunflowers – we can almost see them waving in the breeze
How about an explosion of crimson? – we immediately think blood

Colors that sound like food or include food activate two senses—vision and taste—without the reader even realizing it: Nut-brown, candy-apple red, caramel, coffee-colored, creamy white and so on…

Again, let color be active by humanizing the tint or shade and making it DO something…

Black erupted across his vision…
Sea-green rushed in, hammering the beach with wave after wave…

ALOHA!

COLOR SENSE: Excerpts from How Color Affects Our Mood by Rachel Bender
“…
There are several reasons why colors influence how we feel. …There are social or culture levels as well as personal relationships with particular colors,” explains Leslie Harrington, executive director of The Color Association of The United States, which forecasts color trends. …You react to color.”

  • RED – Red is the hot, crazy girl of colors, evoking powerful emotions such as fear, anger and passion. The mood red conveys changes dramatically when you lighten it (sweet and innocent pink) or darken it (sophisticated burgundy).
  • GREEN – associated with the environment, it puts you in a relaxed or refreshed mood
  • YELLOW – Yellow carries both positive and negative connotations — from sunshine, which conveys a joyous, happy mood to jaundice and sickliness
  • BLUE – Psychologically, blue is the opposite of red — it lowers blood pressure. Red picks you up and blue takes you down, but not down to depression level. That may be because if you look to nature, such as the sky and the ocean, blue conveys tranquility. That’s also what you project when wearing the shade. Blue is also associated with trustworthiness, strength and dependability — hence, the blue power suit.
  • ORANGE – Orange evokes action. It is said to stimulate enthusiasm and creativity and symbolize vitality and endurance. It’s a little “edgy”

PASSIVE VERBS –  The forms of the verb “to be”

When? Who? Form Example
Base form   be It can be simple.
Simple Present I am I am here.
You are You are here.
He/She/It is She is here.
We are We are here.
They are They are here.
Simple Past I was I was here.
You were You were here.
He/She/It was She was here.
We were We were here.
They were They were here.
Simple Future I will be I will be here.
You will be You will be here.
He/She/It will be She will be here.
We will be We will be here.
They will be They will be here.
Progressive form   being He is being unusual.
Perfect form   been It has been fun.

Check out the info for the blog tour.

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Abbie Johnson Taylor #Uniqueauthors #Memoir #Poetry

Author name: Abbie Johnson Taylor

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor (or artist)? I’m the author of five books: two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My stories and poems have appeared in various anthologies and journals. I’m visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was partially paralyzed by two strokes three months after we were married. Before that, I was a registered music therapist and worked for fifteen years in nursing homes and other facilities serving senior citizens. I taught braille, facilitated a support group for blind and visually impaired adults, and served on the advisory board to a trust fund that allows the blind and visually impaired to purchase adaptive equipment. To learn more about me, please visit my website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

Please tell us about your publications/work.

My latest book, The Red Dress, a novel, was published in 2019 by DLD Books. In 2016, my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, was released, also by DLD Books. In 2014, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press. In 2011, another poetry collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, was published by iUniverse. In 2007, my first book, another novel, We Shall Overcome, was released, also by iUniverse.

As a disabled author, how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? Because of my visual impairment, I use text-to-speech software on my computer that reads to me what’s on the screen and tells me what I’m typing. I also use a braille tablet, both as a display with my computer and as a stand-alone device for email, word processing, and other tasks. I read print with the help of a closed-circuit television reading system.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? For me, the most challenging part of being a writer is marketing my work. Because I don’t see well enough to drive, I can’t just hop in my car and drive around my state or country, selling books. I have to rely on others to take me places. So, I’m limited in what I can do to promote my work.

However, I’m fortunate to have discovered Tell It to the World Marketing, a business that promotes authors mostly through social media. I recommend them to any writer or business owner needing help with publicity.

The publishing industry is not friendly toward disabled authors. Many sites like Amazon are a challenge to navigate for a visually impaired person with screen reading computer software. Traditional publishers like Finishing Line Press have proofs in formats that are not accessible and stringent requirements that make publishing a book difficult for a visually impaired writer.

Thank goodness for DLD Books. They help authors with editing and format manuscripts for publication through Amazon, Smashwords, and other online retailers. Their rates are reasonable, and they do great work. What’s more, they contract with Tell It to the World Marketing so you’re not paying extra for those services. I recommend them to all authors.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Too late, I learned that if a piece is published on a website or blog, it’s considered previously published, and most journals and anthologies don’t accept such work. If I’d known that when I first developed an online presence in 2005, I would never have posted so many of my short stories and poems on my website and blog.

What’s your greatest networking tip? Start a blog and post regularly. I post to mine at https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com three days a week. It’s also important to categorize and tag your posts so readers can find topics of interest and search engines can more easily discover you. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic you’ll draw when you do this.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? I’ve been told to eliminate adverbs and elaborate dialog tags when writing fiction. Although other authors, even bestselling ones, don’t follow this advice, I’ve discovered, over the years, that my writing flows more smoothly as a result.

What’s the worst advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Get an agent. In the summer of 2005, when I was ready to publish We Shall Overcome, on the advice of my sister-in-law and a writer she knew, I researched agents and sent queries. Most were rejected, and I didn’t even hear back from some of the agents I queried. I also contacted some publishers directly with similar results. A year later, I decided to self-publish the book with iUniverse.

If you really want to be a bestselling author, find an agent or traditional publisher. Good luck. If you just want to get your work out there, don’t bother. Self-publish instead.

Which authors have influenced you the most? Danielle Steel has influenced me but not in a positive way. After reading her work, I’ve figured out how not to write. Although she tells compelling stories, and I’ll continue to enjoy her books, her habit of providing too much description in her narrative drives me up the wall sometimes.

What is your writing space like? My office contains a three-corner desk which holds my computer, printer, closed-circuit television reading system, and other odds and ends. Behind me is a smaller desk I use for labelling and stamping envelopes. In one corner is a stereo I rarely use. I play music on a smart speaker while working. I sometimes write in my recliner or outside when the weather’s nice.

Tell us about your latest piece. The Red Dress is a work of women’s fiction about how such a garment is related to the lives of three generations of women. Here’s the synopsis.

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

What’s your next writing adventure? Several years ago, I started a collection of short stories set in my home state of Wyoming. Reading a similar collection by Ann Beattie inspired me to do this. Her stories are set in Maine.

Links

Blog: https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/ybmouz5y%20

Website: http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Abbie-Johnson-Taylor/e/B00GDM1BWK/#nav-tophttp://

 

Bio

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Please visit her website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Robert D. Sollars #Uniqueauthors

Author name: Robert D. Sollars

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor (or artist)?

I want to save lives and entertain people. My personal belief is that if I can help save someone’s life through my training and consulting or achieve success by getting published as a writer themselves…my mission is complete and accomplished.

Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom? Absolutely it does, depending on the political persuasion and how well it is documented, without omissions or lies, then a work of non-fiction or fiction can literally change the world. Having said that, you must research and discover for yourself what is being said and the facts presented and not necessarily take the given facts as the facts…statistics and facts can be massaged by omissions and not reporting of the entire set of facts.

As a disabled author how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? I am very fortunate that I have several people who can help me with technological issues with the computer, which is usually the only issues I have. My wife, best friend, and others all help me get over the inaccessible websites and when I can’t access websites and other items I need for the books.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? The publishing world is definitely not disabled friendly. They have tried, but despite federal laws that require that websites be accessable many, far too many, are not…still. There are numerous barriers in submitting your work such as one popular site where it is nearly impossible for a blind writer to submit their own work…someone has to help us do it or do it completely themselves…and then there are other issues with trying to sign up for webinars and stuff and the sites won’t let you do it…coming back to forcing you to have someone else do it for you if you want to listen.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Write what you want when it comes to fiction and with non-fiction write what you are passionate about. I would far more successful if I had learned that before going blind in 2003.

And how hard it was to raise the greenbacks to self-publish books like mine and how hard it is to get people interested in your topics. Most of the media outlets, I’m sorry to say, are mired in their own sensationalism to report real facts and research.

What’s your greatest networking tip? Get out there and mingle with other writers, editors, publishers, publicists, and the myriad of others who may be able to push you forward with your career.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? The wildest subject I’ve ever looked at? I’m not a wild and crazy guy in my non-fiction, LOL. I’ve researched BDSM and other fetishes for fiction

As for my speciality…I look at all the pertinent facts, papers, reports, and etc. for anything I put into my books. The only one I didn’t do any research for was my customer service book in 2018…it was all based on personal experience and things I’ve learned in 40 years in the security field.

I don’t generally have to do a lot of research for my non-fiction books, since it is my work speciality. As for fiction, I create my own worlds and fill in the blanks along the way and if I have to, I’ll go back and revise it to keep a proper perspective on it so it doesn’t distract.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? Everyone tells stories, whether they believe they do or not. Story-telling is a tradition that dates back hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. It is a way to pass along information and to entertain. If we stop telling stories, usually for entertainment purposes then we as a culture will die of asphyxiation.

Our culture began with storytelling. Long before language, the written word, and alphabets, we had storytellers. They were known by different names to whatever culture you were in but they were all storytellers. It was a way to stay abreast of the news, stories from far away, and entertainment.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Write what I want to write and don’t worry about the critics.

From Tim Allen “Never give up. Never Surrdender!”

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? You’re not a college graduate. Go to school and learn the book way of doing things and you’ll be better off.

No one wants to read that crap (speaking of security). Write something interesting if you’re smart enough. This from a former publicist.

*Please tell us about your publications.

 I have 4 books out since 2009. The first one was so poorly edited I won’t even discuss it.

The 2nd one was “One is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace Violence” (Amazon 2014)

“Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention” (Amazon 2018)

“Unconventional Customer Service: How-to Break the Rules to Provide Unparalleled Service” (Amazon 2018)

What first prompted you to publish your work?  I’ve been writing for nearly 40 years, ever since high school. I’ve published innumerable articles and blogfs but never a book, which was always my dream. I started working on the One is too Many & Unconventional Customer Service nearly 2 decades, but after going blind…I had the time, expertise, and knowledge I decided now as the time to do it.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Knowing when to stop writing and say enough is enough so as not to confuse the reader! All experts in their field can talk all day about it but the trick is to know when to leave without the reader wishing they’d picked it up…in other words, make it readable and not like a textbook.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I would have to say a pantser with fiction but not really a plodder with non-fiction. I pick out the facts and research I need to utilize, not hiding anything of course, and then decide where in the book it needs to go. Sometimes the same facts appear in several plaes in the books…just depends on the topic.

Fiction is definitely pantser…I get my ideas from my dreams and let the characters tell me what the story is, including their names. When I get up in the morning…voila the story nearly writes itself and is, most of the time anyway, not bad.

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. Al Giordino or Dirk Pitt from Clive Cussler…the beer and burger guys, not the fancy smancy cuisine that they can eat.

What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work? Well, while it is expensive, if the author is proud of their work and think that people will enjoy it…then give away a few free copies! You don’t want to break the bank doing it, but if you get it into the community and around your region, state, or city, then people will start talking about it and hopefully, it will generate sales. I try to give away copies to those who helped me in some way during the proves…whether it be advice, computer issues, or anything else. Others I give away and have gotten some sales from doing. I just have to remember that talking about death & destruction in real life is not a sexy topic and people don’t like discussing it in ‘polite company’.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? If an author doesn’t comment on a negative review, then they can open themselves up for even more ‘abuse’ from the reviewers. If they respond without getting nasty and refuse the ‘invitation’ to be as nasty as the reviewer, eventually those trolls will go away and you can delete their reviews.

If the comment are good, a simple “Thank you. I appreciate your review on my book.” (and you could add if you desire…Please pass your comments along to friends & family)

How do you deal with bad reviews?Answer them with politeness, courtesy, and professionalism.

Sort these into order of importance:

  1. Good plot
  2. Great characters
  3. Awesome world-building
  4. Technically perfect

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? Jim Qwilleran on the “The Cat Who” series by Lillian Jackson Braun. The reasoning is this simple. A simple man who happens to be a reporter falls into billions of dollars because of an obscure family relationship. He then stll lives simply but begins benefitting the small rural community and county he is now a resident of.

I want to give away that kind of money to help innumerable organizations but alas…no billions for me!

Which authors have influenced you the most? Rod Serling, Clive Cussler, Lillian Jackson Braun, John Scalzi, Diane Carey, & A.C. Crispin.

 What is your writing space like?  I have my desk in a spare bedroom against the wall, a window on my left, where my cat spends her time watching me and the birds. The door is on my right, my wife’s desk behind me and surrounded by filing cabinets & shelves…some would call it cramped but why do I care? As long as I can type…

Tell us about your latest piece? I am in the process of doing the final editing on several pieces, including “Murder in the Office: A Practical Guide for Prevention” and a series of novellas based on sci fi and fantasy “Three for Victory” & “The Cat”

What’s your next writing adventure? After I finish those above, I intend to begin finishing all of the other writing projects I’ve had hidden away since getting cancer last winter…a ton of novels, novellas, and other things that are just languishing at this point.

What was the last book you’ve read?“The Cat Who Blew the Whistle”

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? Yeah, well, but the brick & mortors are still there and probably will be for a very long time. I worry about the possibility of an EMP and the fact no one knows to read a book without a screen any more.

With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling? Absolutely, so many wonderful stories out there. Fantastical worlds filled with wonder, awe, & cataclysmic destruction. Then it resets and you can read another!

Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? They used to be, but with the advent of so many independent publsihers such as bookbaby, and several others, anyone can write and hae a bookpublished. I do have to say though a quote from Ambrose Bierce is very appropritate in these times “The covers of this book are too close together!”

Is there a message in your books? I would like to say that, even in my security books, everything has hope to it and you just have to keep working towards it is all. I try to convey that but whether I succeed or not…

How important is writing to you? Let me put it this way…I’ up and at the computer by about 3:30 every morning (mon-fri) and usually don’t quit until about 4:00, taking time for the news and lunch if necessary.

Links

www.facebook.com/robertdsollars

dldbooks.com/robertdsollars

@robertsollars2

Bio

A somewhat strange 58-year-old blind guy with what has been called weird, unique, quirky, and ddown right stupid ideas, Robert has been blind since moving to the Phoenix area in 2003, 6 weeks after getting there. He lives with his wife, lover, a cat, and a volatile sense of volcanic anger and hostility.

Irritating the hell out of most people. he follows his grandfather’s habits of going to bed early (by 1800 hours) and rising between midnight and 0200. Coffee is drank black and he has more than a few health issues to fight along the way…cancer, kidney transplant, intestinal issues, and too many to mention.

A Day in the Life of… Lynda McKinney Lambert #Uniqueauthors #Visualartist #Wordsarepower

Meet Author and Visual Artist:

Lynda McKinney Lambert lives and works in the Village of Wurtemburg, in rural western Pennsylvania.

Lynda Lambert

  1. Please give us a brief outline of who you are. 

I wear a variety of different hats. I use this word, hats, to describe an actual object, as well as a metaphor that portrays myself.  It is a little thing – but important.

Today, I am working on P.R.  for my latest poetry book, Star Signs: New and Selected Poems, just published on July 15.

Star Signs: New and Selected Poems showcases my professional career as a poet from the mid-80s and takes readers to the latest poems, written just before the book was published.

I  give readers 54 poems in this collection.

2. You’re a writer and artist – how is this reflected in your typical day?

Now that I am retired from my international teaching career, my days are more flexible, even, unpredictable. I love it because I embrace randomness and chance in my life.

In my Writing Life:

 I am often writing during the nights because I’ve never been one who sleeps much. I sleep in short periods of a couple of hours at a time. Typically, I am up working in my office between 2 and 5 am. 

My days begin early because I have 2 dogs to take out – they like to be out by 6 or 7 am.  It gets me moving, so that’s a good thing.

I do very little work after 5 pm. Evenings are my downtimes when I might watch some TV, or just listen to a book or relax. I like to sit and think – thinking takes a lot of time. You have to intend to think, and then set the time aside so you can actually do it.

 In my Artist Life:

I make art only during the daytime.  Because I have profound sight loss, I use an Acrobat CCTV – which is an electronic device that greatly enlarges my working area – it is a closed-circuit TV. My eyes are only able to work at this intensity in the mornings or afternoons.  After that, they are too tired to work any longer. So, you won’t find me making art in the evening or night.

On the days I am making art, I like to focus only on that.  I go to a place of “timelessness” in my studio and I am always unaware of the passing of the day while I am working.

Either way, my writing or art day begins after I’ve taken care of the dogs and cats. Bob will get up around 10 am, and he can take care of his own breakfast or whatever else he wants to do.   We often begin to work outside in the summer months, or inside the house in cooler weather.  In summertime, I tend my flower gardens.  My husband takes care of the yard work.

Like everyone else, we have appointments and essential trips to different places for groceries or exercise or social communications. Typically, we go to the gym 3 mornings a week for weight resistance training or cardio workouts.

My THEMES:

Nature is a predominant theme in my writing and my mixed-media fiber art.

I observe the day, the season, and watch for changes. I listen to the sounds of life, changing weather, and all the little details and nuances that we experience at any given day or night. I am so conscious of changing seasons, the quick turning from one to the other almost like magic.

In my writing, I describe the natural elements in my world, and in my art, I use the natural elements such as water-worn river stones; gemstones & crystals from different locations in the entire world; fabrics, and found objects.  I use the objects in the art, and in my writing, I also use them as metaphors or subject matter.

Other themes in my work:

*The passing of time

*Memory as in collective memory or place

*History – searching out the historical context of ideas

*Passage or Journey; a sacred Pilgrimage from one place to another

*No separation between sacred and secular

 

3. Do you work at another job?

My job is to be at work when the Muse arrives.

My responsibility is to arrive at work on time each day.

When I was working as a professor of fine arts and humanities, I had to fit my writing and art-making in-between my responsibilities at the college.  I wrote my first book, Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage, from my journal jottings, drawings, and research that I did each summer. I taught a month-long course, “Drawing and Writing in Salzburg.”   Whatever the students were working on that day, I was working right alongside them in the classroom or in the field.  We met each morning at 8 am to begin our day. By 9 am we were often on a bus on our way to a location for that morning’s creative work.  Our class ended at noon (Monday through Thursday), so this gave me afternoons and weekends that were free for me to pursue my personal work.  I usually travelled to a different country each weekend, where I wrote in my journals and did photography and drawings.

As a professor, I had to squeeze my personal work in-between my heavy workload during the semesters.  Not only was I working on my own art and writing projects, I was also actively exhibiting my art in galleries and museums all over the world. It took a great deal of discipline to be able to do this intensive work.  So, I’ve always been a person who is focused and willing to put in the hours that it takes to be successful in what I am doing.  Retirement just opened up the door wider for me to create even more work because it eliminated the rigid teaching schedule I lived with for many years.

 

4. How did you fit in a family or ‘real life’?

I married my husband Bob, when I was seventeen years old. He was twenty.

We celebrated our 58th wedding anniversary this year.

We have 5 children and my life was completely occupied with cooking meals, doing laundry daily; managing our home and the children’s activities and needs.  We were active in their school and church life. My children were the center of my life and it was important that I was there to take care of our home, and all of them.  My first commitment was to my family.

My heart’s desire, was that I wanted to go to college, and I wanted to be a teacher.  That part of my life would not begin until I was forty-two years old, and the children were all in high school.

My academic career began at age forty-two, and I had a single focus. I intended to “go all the way” with education.  I intended to earn not only a BFA in Painting, but I would pursue the terminal degree in fine art, which is an MFA. I intended to be a college professor. I actually earned the MA in English along the way, too.  I had a passion for writing and making art – so this seemed like a good idea for me. From the beginning, I worked across disciplines.  And, this eventually led me to my teaching position at Geneva College, a Reformed Presbyterian college in western Pennsylvania. Because of my dual degrees in fine art and English, I was hired to use my expertise in the Humanities at the college. This work is both challenging and educational as a life-long learner. I loved doing research in my fields.

I advised students:

“Don’t give yourself permission to do less than what you have a passion for doing.

 Follow your passion and your abilities – you want to do work that makes you happy to get up each morning.

You want to do what you dreamed of doing.

Never make a plan for your life out of fear. Go for your highest purpose and you will get there.”

 I also believe in excellence. This does not mean I think that perfectionism is to be admired. It is not an admirable trait but perfectionism is a liability.  By the word, “Excellence,” I mean to be your best.   Perform at the highest level you can, and do the best job you can possibly do. That is not perfectionism.  It is holding on to your highest potential and working hard to make your dream, Plan A, your reality.

In 1976, I took my first class in painting.  Soon, painting was at the heart of my creative life. It was pure magic.

With 5 children and a husband to take care of.  I realized from the beginning that I had to be time conscious in order to live a creative life that was separate from family obligations. We have to have our personal identity, something that is ours alone to pursue.  Our “do” is not our “who,”  and I’ve always believed in my purpose in life – to create beauty and to keep memories alive for others.

5. Are you very organized?

This is a tricky question to answer.

At first, I thought, yes, I am very organized.

Then upon further reflection, I thought about how we live surrounded by chaos.  It is our normal condition of being a human creation.  We are finite creatures; we are flawed.

How we think about chaos matters –

I think it is better if we begin to think of mastering the chaos.

 

A plaque in my office reads:

“Nur kleine Geister  brauchen Ordnung,

ein Genie  beherrscht

Das Chaos.”

 

Translation:

“Only little spirits need order,

a genius mastered

The chaos.”

Links/samples/etc.

An Introduction to Lynda McKinney Lambert:  https://www.lyndalambert.com/

My Books:  https://llambert363.blog/lyndaslinks/

Lynda’s Media Kit:  https://www.lyndalambert.com/media-kit/

“My Books” on my blog:  https://www.lyndalambert.com/lyndas-books/

Listen to my poem, “To the Curator of Small Things,” in the Summer 2016 issue of Wordgathering. read by Melissa Cotter:

http://www.wordgathering.com/past_issues/issue43/poetry/lambert.html

LINK_ to my poem and voice recording of “Star Signs: in the December 2016 issue of Wordgathering – Read by Melissa Cotter:

http://www.wordgathering.com/past_issues/issue40/poetry/lambert.html

Lynda’s Authors Page- Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/author/lyndalambert

Lynda’s Official Authors Page: http://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert/

 Smashwords – get my ebook:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lyndalambert

Link to Lynda’s author Site at DLD Books:

http://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert/

 

My Blogs:

Website & Blog:  Lynda McKinney Lambert  – Official Author’s Website

Scan-A-Blog – A quiet Place of Inspiration, Art, Nature, Literature

Below – Photo: “Lynda with Tamukeyama,” by Bob Lambert

Lynda Lambert

Photo of Lynda – wearing one of her original hand-knit jackets in ombre shades of blues and aqua.

She is also wearing a one-of-a-kind necklace of Swarovski crystals and gem stones. She designs knit clothing, talismans, jewelry, and wall works.

Lynda is seated in front of her Tamukeyama Tree in her Zen Mediation Garden. Photo by Bob Lambert.

 

 

 

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Phyllis Staton Campbell #Uniqueauthors #Meetanauthor

Author name: Phyllis Staton Campbell

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor (or artist)?

I was born blind in Amherst County Virginia, the youngest of two sisters and a brother. We moved to Staunton, Virginia, when I was seven, where my sister and I attended the Virginia School for the blind. Reading has been an important part of my life, since I can remember. I sold my first short piece in the sixties, and have been writing professionally ever since. I have published six books, both in the traditional market place and self-published. In addition, I did a true-crime book, under contract to the family of the victim. My latest book is “Where Sheep May Safely Graze” inspirational. I’m currently working on a sequel.

 Please answer 12 of the questions/discussion points below.

What first prompted you to publish your work? Writing is, hard work, if enjoyable. I felt that that effort should be put into something to share with others, and perhaps bring some tangible reward to me.

As a disabled author how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? I faced many challenges in the beginning. There were no computers, no braille aware devices, permitting ease in proofreading. The first piece I sold was written with the slate and stylus, meaning that the braille dots had to be punched individually by hand. I lacked the money for a proofreader, meaning that I had to work very hard, first doing the work in braille, and then painstakingly typing it to send out for consideration. Today, I feel I have few challenges after that.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? Like most things that can be answered with both “yes” and “no”. Some publishers are friendly, some not. The real challenge there, is knowing which. Some will claim interest and then say they’ve taken on their quota for the year. Have they? Others such as Barbara Brett of Brett, will go beyond the last mile for the disabled writer.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? The public taste in books varies greatly. Study the market carefully before submitting to be sure that you’re meeting the needs of that publication.

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. Harry Potter, and we’d have pumpkin pasties.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I write three columns, so I do a lot of research. Years ago I wrote a piece on vampires, not the interesting ones in popular literature, but the real thing. Well, those who believed themselves to be real, and acted accordingly.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? It has been influential to all cultures, but I feel it is perhaps less today, because of TV.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Study your market and be persistent.

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? A sphinx I like cats!

Which authors have influenced you the most? For my current series, Jan Karon, and Janice Holt Giles. For my early stumbling efforts, Lucy Montgomery, Gene Straton Porter. In other words, they’re tied to what I’m doing, and where I am in my writing journey.

What is your writing space like? My writing space was once a dining room with a door to the kitchen, and French doors on either side of the chimney, leading to the living room. My house is quite old, and when I sit quietly, I can feel the echo of all of those who have lived and died here.

Tell us about your latest piece? “Where sheep May Safely Graze” is the story of Pastor Jim, who was blinded serving in Iraq, and his wife, Amy. It tells of his struggle to adjust to his blindness, her struggle to adjust to her new role as his wife, and their struggle against the prejudice of the wealthy church where they both serve. They are further challenged when they go to serve in a rural town.

What’s your next writing adventure? I’m working on “Goin’ Home, a sequel to “Where Sheep May Safely Graze.

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? Brick and Mortar shops are definitely on the decline, witnessed by how many large chains have closed.

Are indie/self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? Some people will always be wary of self-published authors, but this has changed drastically. One reason is those self-styled writers, who pay little attention to proofing and editing, and who, in many cases, have no real story to begin with.

What is your greatest success? To this point, my greatest writing success has been “Friendships in the Dark” published in hard cover, paperback, large-print in the US, and translated into Chinese, as well as publication in the British Isles, all by a traditional publisher.

How important is writing/art to you? Writing is a large part of my life.