Mirror Interview with Tim Therien

“Mirror, Mirror on the ceiling…”

Now that I have your attention, I don’t actually have a mirror on the ceiling. In fact, the only mirror in my apartment is the one in the bathroom. I take a quick look at myself once a day to make sure I’m presentable to the world, other than that I avoid mirrors with the fervor of a vampire. After reading the clever, witty and intelligent “mirror interviews” featured her at “Readful Things” I have to admit to being a little intimidated. For starters I am not a big fan of tooting my own horn. If I took tooting my own horn I might just have to get that mirror for the ceiling. That said; let’s get on to the crux of it, shall we?

On Poetry

Poetry is very near and dear to me and perhaps I will always be a Poet first and a Writer second. I do make a distinction between the two. Both may be mediums of the written word, but I believe Poetry is more akin to Music than to Prose, especially in its connection to the soul. While Prose may be poetic, it does not make it Poetry.

I am a big proponent of writing in Form, or at least having the ability to do so. I don’t think someone should be able to call themselves a Poet without first being able to express themselves in at least one of the Fixed Forms of Poetry. I am not anti-Free Verse, in fact most of what I have written was without thought of form, but I do believe most Free Versed Poems would have been better served being put into Prose.

On Writing

I take writing very seriously, probably more seriously than I should. I was almost illiterate when I left school at age 15 and taught myself to read and write. I take great pride in that accomplishment. People have called me a “Natural Talent,” but they did not witness the long hard years I’ve dedicated to this craft. It has taken more than thirty years to get from barely being able to fill out a job application to penning these words you now read. This in my mind is not talent, but perseverance. Writing has been my Life’s Labour and my Life’s Love.

Writing is so much more than sitting in a room and putting pen to paper. That is only a small part of it. The bulk of writing is living life, experiencing things, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. It is these things that allow the Writer to relate to the reader. If someone cloistered themselves off from the world and wrote, none but the humble hermit would identify to the words.

The best advice I’ve ever received concerning writing would have to be “write like you speak.” It was in applying this advice to my writing that I discovered my literary voice. If I were to impart this advice myself, I would expand upon it and say “write what you think, but write like you speak.” In my opinion, just as important as literary voice is to a writer so too is the ability to express the things that are oft not expressed. Also I would tell the would-be writer to challenge themselves in all things writing. Lastly, write with the Reader in mind, but write the story you want to read.

On Editing

I am not a big fan of editing and not too long ago I refused to edit anything I had written outside of spelling errors and typos. I wanted to remain as true to the essence of what I had written as I humanly could. I do believe a lot of the soul of a piece of writing can be lost in the editing process. I write from the heart and rely on my gut and editing in my mind puts both into doubt. Editing is a game of second guessing ourselves and our instincts.

I have since moved on that position, at least as far as prose is concerned, but I still try to keep as much of that original draft intact as I can. I would call what I do now “Shading” and not editing. It is more akin to the artist who works in charcoal, first outlining his form and then filling it in to give it depth and three dimensions. The original lines remain, even if they have been shaded over.

On Marketing

I think it’s ridiculous to think that a writer must personally interact with every reader and potential reader out there. Really, it is unrealistic for an author with even a modest bit of success to be at the beckon call of their target market. It puts too much pressure on a writer. It also takes up too much time, time which could be better used to relate to the reader the way a writer should relate to a reader, through the written word, through Storytelling and through Poetry.

Writing, for me, has never been about commercial success. Truth is I am resigned that my success, if I am to have it, will most likely come after I have departed from this world. Many great and beloved writers have been misunderstood, even loathed in their own lifetimes. For me, my success will be measured by the ability of my words to stand the test of time.

I am not a big fan of self-promotion. It is, I’m afraid, a necessary evil for the self-published author, but it still feels like I’m pimping myself out and prostituting myself when I engage in the practice. So how then to gain exposure without selling my soul? This is something I haven’t found an answer for. I have contented myself with the belief that if I write something and if I put it out there and if it is truly worthy it will find its way into the hands and hearts of the Reader. That is a lot of ifs, but Life is full of ifs.

On Future Works

Since my move back to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, after over a decade in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, things have been very hectic. I have spent most of the summer working on a book of Poetry (“Crossing Main”) and a Romance (“Forever: The First Epoch”) simultaneously and haven’t been getting very far with either. My life has settled down a little now and I have turned my focus to the Romance until November 1st when I will turn my attention to and again take part in NaNoWriMo to write the second installment of “The Scrolls of Sion.” I have also couple of other projects on the back burner that will see light at the first opportunity.

In 2015, at least two books can be expected from me. “The Scrolls of Sion: Broken Bloodlines” and “Forever: The First Epoch.” If at all possible I will also publish “Crossing Main.” Beyond that, I cannot say.

The opinions expressed here reflect the man in the mirror, me and no one else. In no way is what I say a reflection, or judgement of anyone else. In closing, I would like to thank Ionia for having me here on her wonderful blog.

Links to Books



Links to Blogs



Mirror Interview: Martyn Stanley

Mirror: So, what’s the status of your fantasy series ‘The Deathsworn Arc’ now?

Me: I’ve now finally got a proper author website, which I will blog on and occasionally review other books on:- Martyn Stanley – Author of the ‘Deathsworn Arc’ epic fantasy series I’ve also made the books available in CreateSpace POD, Ingram Spark POD and on all digital formats – Kobo, B&N and Smashwords as well as Amazon. I recently made book 1 of the series free on all formats! Please follow the links here:- Deathsworn Arc: The Last Dragon Slayer is now FREE! – Martyn Stanley

Mirror: Free!? Are you mad?! All that hard work you put in! To give it away?! What on earth were you thinking?

Me: Well, to be honest it was a scary decision to make. It wasn’t an easy or quick thing to do. In the end, after experimenting with various pricing schemes, ranging from $2.99 to more, and as low as $0.99… Nothing had really taken off. When I used to do free promo’s on book 1, I got a lot of downloads and I got follow-on sales from those who enjoyed it enough to read through to book 2. Seeing as I was only getting the financial equivalent of a kick in the crackers for book 1 ($0.33) I decided, I may as well offer it for free and let the books pay their way by the read-throughs. I’m not asking anyone to invest any money into book 1 – just their time. I’m asking a bit more for book 2, but I think I only really want those who ‘get it’ and love the series to read on anyway so perhaps that’s for the best?

Mirror: Well, good luck with that, I see it’s doing fairly well at the moment?

Me: It is! It’s top #3000 in both the UK and US Free Kindle Store without any promotion! It’s top #50 for Dark Fantasy and Epic Fantasy in the US and top #50 for Dark Fantasy and Swords and Sorcery in the UK!

Mirror: Dark Fantasy? Is it ‘Dark Fantasy’?

Me: I don’t honestly know! I think so, I think book 2 ‘The Verkreath Horror’ is definitely Dark Fantasy, it’s border-line ‘Grim Fantasy’ at times. They don’t have a nice time in book 2. There is quite a lot of death and misery in the series. I like to kill off at least one character a book.

Mirror: You’re going to run out of characters!

Me: I don’t think I’ll always kill off a character a book. There will be light at the end of the tunnel, though things get worse before they get better I think.

Mirror: The title ‘Deathsworn Arc’ What does it actually mean?

Me: Ah, it’s explained in book 3 ‘Deathsworn Arc: The Blood Queen’ it’s something some of the characters become, I think in book 5.

Mirror: Is the title of book 1 referring to Silus or Korhan?

Me: Both, either, it doesn’t really matter. I suppose for me, at the start of the book it’s Silus, at the end it’s Korhan.

Mirror: Okay, so will Ramon Hern ever make a proper comback?

Me: He plays a bigger part later on in the series.

Mirror: What about Tubol and Tavion? Do they continue their pursuit?

Me: Oh yes, they are tenacious and will NOT give up. They are part of a really big plot element which starts in book 4.

Mirror: Now, Vashni. She’s *ahem* a bit of an evil bitch at times in book 1 – what gives?

Me: There are reasons for the way Vashni behaves in book 1. The reasons are multi-factorial and complex. You really only have a good idea of why Vashni is behaving the way she is in book one once you’ve read book 3.

Mirror: Have you got any idea how long ‘The Deathsworn Arc’ is at this stage?

Me: I think eight books. I have a solid plot for books 4 and 5 and I kind of know how it ends. I haven’t introduced the main villain yet!

Mirror: Who is the main villain?

Me: Ah, that would be telling. I’ll give you a clue, the human helping the Verkreath in book 2 plays a big part in it. He’s also older than Vashni and has gone by many names.

Mirror: When you wrote this, didn’t you worry that the atheistic world would put some people off?

Me: Yes! I did, but I felt like I had to write it anyway. Thankfully nobody has really picked it apart over that aspect of it – except one. A goodreads reviewer didn’t like it:

“Misery. Layers and layers of misery. The team moves from one horror to another all the while losing their religion. I hated this book and am sorry to have spent the time to read it.”

She gave it one star. That kind of annoyed me, but it impressed me too. It was what I was shooting for in book 2 and I clearly evoked a strong emotional reaction in this reader. At least the book would have been memorable to her.

Mirror: Does the feedback you get in your reviews ever surprise you?

Me: All the time! No two reviewers ever pick up on the exact same points. I suppose the common points are the ‘Truth’ – I expected that, the relationship between Korhan and Vashni – I expected that and the moral philosophizing. Nobody really seems to pick up on the atheist theme that much! That DOES surprise me!

Mirror: How important is the atheist theme and ‘The Truth’ to the overall plot?

Me: It’s critical to the overall plot. There are some huge, world-changing twists. Everything hinges on the ‘Truth’. I became a strong atheist by accident, and exploring the loss of faith and the search for a sense of purpose in life in the books was as much as for me, as for my readers.

Mirror: Are you like any of your characters?

Me: No, not really. I suppose I’m a bit Korhan and a bit Brael more so than the others – but even then, not much.

Mirror: This Korhan and Vashni thing – do they ever ‘get it on’ ?

Me: Well, hmmmm, that’s difficult to answer. Things change drastically for both Korhan and Vashni. Their interactions become a lot more complex in book 5, it’s partly to do with the Korhan taking the Oath at the Deathsworn Shringe and the mind inhabiting Harbinger. I won’t say anymore, but it’s a major, major event for Korhan.

Mirror: Do we ever meet any more gravians?

Me: Yes! There’s a new gravian character in book 4!

Mirror: Ahhh, so they remove Brael’s curse freeing him to use magic?

Me: Nope! They feel the same way Elira did.

Mirror: So does he ever get access to magic back?

Me: Pffft! I’m sick of giving spoilers – talk about something else!

Mirror: Okay, who are you?

Me: I recently posted this about myself on a writers group on Facebook;-

You know me! Want to know a bit more? I’m 37! I’m not old. I live in a little village betwixt Staffordshire and Cheshire which has a little castle perched atop a hill – which you can see for miles around. I have two kids, a girl who’s seven and a boy who’s three. I’ve been married for nine years, I’m a second degree blackbelt in Taekwondo, I’ve also done Kung Fu and Kick Boxing at times. I drive a 3.0 V6 Jaguar, but my favorite car I owned is still my old MX5 which I kept for seven years. I used to be an avid video games player before writing took over my life. In my mis-spent youth I played lead guitar in a band called ‘The Liability Crisis’ and smoked a little weed. I’ve been as far west as Florida and as far east as Singapore – but I usually holiday in France and Germany. Singapore and Rome are probably my two favorite cities I’ve visited. I write fantasy books,but I also work full-time as a manager at a manufacturing plant and I’m studying for a degree with the Open University! I’m about to start ‘Creative Writing’ level 2 – theory being if I actually suck at writing, I’ll get better. If I’m already pretty decent then it’s an easy 60 points and I get to learn ‘poetry’. I drink too much, I don’t exercise enough, but I also don’t eat enough so it kind of balances out. I’m not a very sociable person, but I can be good at faking it. I AM prone to depression, writing has helped with that. A sense of purpose is a powerful thing. *Edit – I also built my own house! Well my father-in-law worked on it more than me, but we literally built the house. I took time of work to do it, and worked evenings and weekends on it for three years! So writing a little 100,000 word novel doesn’t seem that daunting.

Mirror: Wow, you’ve fit a lot into your life!

Me: I dunno. I don’t think I have, it looks like it when I write it down – but it doesn’t feel like it. The last few years have been a blur!

Mirror: So how do you know Ionia?

Me: I came across this blog I think and requested a review. We’ve talked a bit since, she’s told me her story, I told her mine. I now count her amongst my elite group of online BFF’s. She’s awesome!

Mirror: Online BFF’s?

Me: Yes! Another is Inge van de Kraats her shared blog is at Bookshelf Reflections she has me in stitches at times! One of the best thing about writing the books has been the people they’ve facilitated me meeting. I’ve met some really awesome people because of the books. Inge and Ionia are just two examples, whom I have a particular soft-spot for.

Mirror: Anything else in the pipeline? What’s after ‘Deathsworn’ ?

Me: I have a few projects in mind – a dark, high concept urban fantasy with angels and demons, a futuristic earth-based sci-fi with some time-travel and a literary fiction series called, ‘The Week’, ‘The Month’, ‘The Year’, ‘The Decade’ and ‘The Century’.

Mirror: The Lit Fic series sounds odd – what’s it about?

Me: Just life, people, relationships – the passing of time. My main inspiration is that titling my books this way will enable me to market myself as ‘Author of the Week’, ‘Author of the Month’, ‘Author of the Year’ and ‘Author of the Century’ :P

Mirror: Haha! So what about your studying – what’s your degree about?

Me: It’s the most eclectic degree ever! I have modules from IT, Maths, Science and I’m doing Creative Writing next! I’m just doing what I feel like and trying to drum up enough points to cash in a degree. I’m doing it for personal satisfaction rather than career reasons.

Mirror: How big a part of your life is writing?

Me: Massive! I write or edit every day, I promote every day. I’m always looking for ways of increasing my readership. I love telling stories. I love reading them, but telling them is even better.

Mirror: Do your kids know about your stories?

Me: They do! Emily is amazed that people around the world have read my stories. She says she can’t believe it! I’ve told them both who the characters are and roughly what happens. I’ leave the gory out though – the stories are rather too dark for a three year old and a seven year old!

Mirror: Did you ever try to get published traditionally?

Me: I had a go, I sent out some submissions and queries. Nobody wanted to take a punt on it. I’ll be laughing when I’ve sold a trillion copies and I’m living in a castle next door to J.K. Rowling! Only joking! I would like to go trad-pub, i think it’s essential for growing my brand and raising people’s awareness of my work. I’ve more or less given up on Deathsworn Arc for Trad-pub though, I’ll maybe try again with one of my other projects. I think I will always write about contentious, deep, thought-provoking issues. Atheism and loss of faith will probably always creep into my work. For that reason I think many agents and publishers will think it’s risky – but I think it’s what people want to hear! I recently stumbled upon Shelley Segal | Singer and Songwriter from Australia I love her music, I love hearing what I think in song. I think people will like reading what they think in fantasy. There’s often a religious mythology in fantasy – so to create a godless world is fresh and new I think. It will resonate with agnostics, doubters and atheists. It’s not a strong theme though, I think very devout or extreme theists will hate it, but those in the middle will just enjoy the story for the characters, the relationship and the action.

Mirror: Now the big question – when are we going to see ‘Deathsworn Arc: The Temple of the Mad God’

Me: I expect, hmmm, late summer 2015? I have to do my course, and write it, then edit it, amdist working and toddler herding. The good news is I have 10,000 words down and I’ve edited it. It’s a really strong opening, I honestly think though book 3 was probably my best so far – book 4 will be even better. I’m really, really pleased with it. I just wish I had more time to write and I could afford a pro-editor. I might use Sophie Playle at some point ( http://sophieplayle.com ). She did me a sample for book 1 and I was really pleased with her work on it. I only didn’t use her because I couldn’t afford to at the time and I had offers from others to do it for free. I wanted ‘The Blood Queen’ to go out as version 1.0 and never need changing. I now think version 1.2 will be the one that doesn’t need changing. I want to make sure ‘The Temple of the Mad God’ is as close to ‘spot on’ as I can before I release.

Mirror: What is the ‘Temple of the Mad God’

Me: It’s a place, I’m saying no more!

Mirror: Okay, thanks for the interview!

Me: Thank Ionia for hosting it for me!

Mirror Interview: Jacob Airey

So Ionia had a brain fart. What? What you may say? How can this be? To tell the truth it happens all the time. I went on holiday and forgot the notebook that had all the scheduled interviews in it. So the 20th of August rolled around–also my birthday, coincidentally–and I didn’t seem to have an interview for that day. Since I forgot the book I couldn’t check to see who it was that was supposed to be the guest. Apparently the email was eaten in one folder or another. 3,000 plus emails a week that aren’t spam and another few thousand that are will do that, but no excuses. I goofed up. So thankfully, Mr. Airey is a kind soul and has offered me another chance to post his interview. I’m going to actually do it this time. Promise. I apologise for keeping you all from a great interview and to him for not posting as scheduled. :)


 Where are you from?

I was born in Beaumont, Texas, but I was raised in Dallas.


When did you first have an interest in writing?

I read an kid’s abridged version of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when I was 8. About a year later, I read the full version and I loved it. I soon read all of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and then I got into JRR Tolkien, Frank Peretti, Brandilyn Collins, HG Wells, CS Lewis, and on and on and on. These writers inspired me to tell my own stories.

Have you ever written a full novel?

Not like an eight-hundred page epic. I’ve written three novellas. One is a mystery, one is a supernatural thriller, and the last is a fantasy story. Plus, several short stories and poems.

Of the three novellas you’ve written so far, which is your favorite?

I would have to say the newest one. It’s about a prince and his fellow crown royals who are in a magical world filled with dragons and unicorns. The prince, however, is immune to magic of all kinds. To make matters worse, his kingdom gets taken over by an evil emperor and a sorcerer. That’s all you get.

Are they standalone?

The first two are, but the newest one is meant to be the first in a trilogy.

You do book reviews on your blog Lone Star Inspirations. Why is that?

Often times, critics are not writers, so they review from a consumer perspective which is great, but it often gives way to bias. I review fellow authors from a creative perspective without seeing them as competition, so it eliminates some of my bias. No bias can be totally erased, but I try to give everything I review a fair outlook.

What kind of headway are you making to get yourself noticed as an author?

I started another blog called Jacob Airey’s Librarium which is where I’m going to self-publish poems and short stories. I also have art gallery on there for my paintings.

Do you have a favorite genre?

I would say it’s a tie between science fiction and mystery, but I’ll read anything. I love period fiction, dramas, medical, thriller, fantasy, etc. I want to write in several genres as well.

Did you ever try to get one of your books published?

I tried to get the first one published and even got an agent. We were negotiating a deal with a publisher. Unfortunately, my agent abandoned my manuscript and the publisher wouldn’t talk to me without representation. After that, it fell to pieces. It was very discouraging.

Wow! Did it affect your writing?

In the worst way. I had already finished the second manuscript and done four drafts of it, but I was so discouraged, I stopped writing all together except for poems. I would start a project, but ultimately abandon it. I did this for about five years.

Five years? Whoa. What made you get out there again?

One of my teachers found out I was a writer and forced me out there. I did a creative project where I did my fifth draft of the second book and renamed. After that, I got the fire back and I started my third project which is completed, but I’m still drafting it.

What would you say to authors who have had that encounter or worried they could be next?

I would say, do not repeat my mistake. I stopped writing and that was terrible. I mean, my poems were great, but it felt like something was missing. Writing is something I did to make me feel alive and for other writers out there, don’t let discouragement haunt you and keep you from writing like it did me. That is the worst thing you can do! Sit up straight, fix your eyes, shake it off, and then grab a pen or laptop! Let it flow from you!

That’s all the time we have for today! Thank you for joining us.

There’s only one person here.

Say what? Hey, no one’s laughing.
Yeah, that was a bomb.

Mirror Interview: Graeme Cumming

Graeme Cumming is the author of Ravens Gathering, a dark fantasy thriller that twists and… Well, you get the idea.

Graeme CummingRavens Gathering is listed on Amazon as Dark Fantasy. Is that how you’d describe it?

If it has to be pigeon-holed, then yes, but that’s how booksellers and publishers categorise things. In a sense, it actually crosses several genres, which was the best way to tell the story.

What gave you the idea?

I was driving and spotted a group of birds at the side of the road. More flew down to join them and I commented on the ravens gathering. As soon as I said it I thought, “That’d be a great title for a book.” So the title came first and it lent itself to the creepy stuff followed naturally.

Do you normally come up with titles first?

No, though it’s not unheard of. I remember challenging school friends to give me any title and I’d create a story line. Someone said “Solid Gold”, and within 24 hours I had a plot involving the simultaneous hijacking of two gold bullion shipments and the shady dealings of a US President. (The arrogance of youth…) Thirty-five years later, it’s still waiting to be written, but now the bit’s between my teeth I’m confident it will – though the title needs changing!

Thirty-five years? Why did it take so long to write your first novel?

I’ve written stories since I was a child. One of my English teachers was once heard to say that she’d eat her hat if I wasn’t a published writer by the time I was 25. She’s had time to work her way through the stock of a large milliners since then, so I hope she likes a high fibre diet. The bottom line, though, is that I’ve not been sufficiently driven. It’s what I always wanted to do, but there were always other more pressing things that distracted me. In the early days it was rock concerts, girls and alcohol, but later it became about having to support my family.

So what changed?

I realised time was running out. In my mind I’d developed a fixed idea that I had to write “properly”, which meant doing it consistently every day, which I found difficult with young children, work and an inclination for idleness. So for long stretches of time I didn’t bother because, if I couldn’t do it properly, there was no point in doing it at all. But, as I hit my early forties, I realised I was depriving myself of the pleasure of writing – creating characters, places and situations I found entertaining. So I decided to just write when I could – and, after around six years, I finished the first draft of a novel.

Ravens Gathering?

Good God, no! After five years and long gaps between writing, I had the makings of a novel, but it needed a lot doing to it. And having lived with that one for so long, I needed a change.


So, yes, then I wrote Ravens Gathering. But I’d learnt a lot from the first novel, and I’d steadily become more focused. The first draft took about eight months. A year later it was ready to publish.

And you self-published.

In part it was about wanting to retain control, but it was also to speed the process up. I was fast approaching 50, so I had an increased sense of time passing. I know I probably should have more patience, but didn’t want to waste any more time than I already had.

So presumably you’ve been writing constantly since and must have another book due out?

Ah… Okay, I walked into that one, didn’t I? No, there’s no second book imminent. I went back to the first one – Carrion – and spent a long time editing that, but still wasn’t happy with it. In the mean time, my business began to take over my life and I haven’t written much at all in the last year. But that’s been a wake-up call, and I’ve spent a lot of the last 6 months re-structuring the business to give myself more time. In the next month or so the writing can begin again.

Completion of Carrion?

I’m hesitating over that at the moment, but probably. It’s about time it was given a wider audience than the limited number who’ve read a version of it so far. On the other hand, there are a number of others I’m just desperate to get out of my head and on to paper (or a screen).

It sounds like you could be busy, then. Will it be more Dark Fantasy?

Some of it will, but I just want to entertain. So, whatever I write, you can expect suspense, action, a little humour in places and a few twists along the way. It’s been gratifying that readers have said: “I didn’t see that coming” about aspects of Ravens Gathering.

You’re just trying to tempt us in now, aren’t you?

Of course I am. It’s not often I get the chance to make people aware of the book, so I need to take every opportunity to get them to read it – or at least try the sample on Amazon.

Do you want to provide the link, then?

Thought you’d never ask…

Ravens Gathering Cover










For my home market, it’s:


Otherwise, the best starting point is:


You can also find my website at: www.graemecumming.net. Keep an eye on it. There will be changes soon.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Like most things, books are mainly sold on personal recommendations. So if you enjoy any book you read, take a few minutes to write a review on Amazon – and then tell all your friends.

Thanks for reading.


Thank you Graeme! This interview had such a great flow and was so much fun! If you’d like to do an interview of your own for the Wednesday Mirror Interview feature, feel free to email me from the contact page. :) Keep writing–it’s the thing to do.

Mirror Interview: Joe Gergen

Question: So Joe, why should I read your books and other writings?

Joe: Because I’m funny.

Question: Why do you think you’re so funny?

Joe: If I don’t think I’m funny, who will? And besides, what do I have to lose.

Question: What’s one thing you could do without in writing?

Joe: Adjectives. Adjectives are for the weak.

Question: That’s a bit brutal.

Joe: I know. I know. I said it mostly for effect. What I mean is I have little need for adjectives and could survive writing without them. I’m not sure if that’s true but I’d like to give it a shot one day. My sometimes fluid grasp of grammar might get in the way though.

Question: What’s your biggest writing challenge?

Joe: Trying to be both serious and funny. And then be taken seriously for that. But I’m so irreverent I keep undermining myself. I’m sure that’s some sort of literary device.

Question: Well, are you trying to be funny or trying to be serious?

Joe: Yes. Seriously funny and funnily serious. Whichever one gets the point across. The goal is to convey ideas. By putting serious ideas in a funny context the hope is to shed a different light on the subject.

Question: Your book “Methane Wars” is about collecting methane from cows and a string of events that come from that. Are we supposed to take that seriously?

Joe: Yes. The narrative is funny. The ideas are less funny.

Question: It’s also a bit political. Which side do you fall on?

Joe: I try to mock all sides equally, though I am sure there is a slant in there somewhere. The goal is more to point out the absurdities of certain aspects of different ideologies. The behaviors on the extremes are good fodder for humor.

Question: What tells you that you achieved your goals in “Methane Wars?”

Joe: When people tell me that it is too subtle and someone might not know it’s not real. I guess it’s good satire when people have to be told it’s satire. Like when people post articles from The Onion or other satire sights because they thought they were real.

Question: What if I don’t read your book? Will that make you feel sad?

Joe: No. But I could add you to the list of 8 billion other people haven’t read it as well if that would make you feel better?

Question: I’m sure it would.


You can find the book here:

“Methane Wars: A Fable”



and Joe’s Website (I strongly recommend you check it out)



Thank you, Joe, for guesting today! I loved the interview, it was so much fun :)

Mirror Interview # 5 Elle Knowles

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Is writing your only job?

I don’t really consider writing a job. For me, writing is fun, an outlet, and downtime. Sadly, no, it is not all I do. By trade, I am a seamstress. I used to do alterations for bridal stores, but the pressure of working with brides and their families is very stressful. I have stories to tell and have plans to turn that experience into a book one day. Watch out. You may see yourself! Now working through the middle man, I work from home making mostly pillow shams and accent pillows for designers for condos in Destin, Florida. This gives me plenty of free time to write. If I was more organized I would probably produce more material, but that is a different story.

Why do you write under a pen name?

When I first started writing, I wanted to keep my actual life separate from my writing life. It wasn’t because I had something to hide, but more because I was doing something I had never done before and I wasn’t real sure of how it would turn out. Does that make any sense? After researching the practice of authors using pen names, I came up with the idea of using my maiden name and first initial spelled out as a pen name. Hence, L = Elle. Sometimes I feel as though I am a different person when I write. It took a little getting used to when I started writing my blog under the name and readers would call me Elle. Now I am more comfortable with it and it suits the purpose.

Do you have a pet peeve as an author?

Yes, I actually have two.

People who give nasty reviews. I don’t mean bad reviews. I can take a bad review and sometimes learn from it. Nasty reviews are a whole different ballgame. It is as though the reviewer has a vendetta or is holding a grudge. If you don’t like what you read or have found lots of errors or mistakes, there is always a nice way to say it. If you don’t get out of a book what you expected to then okay. Make the statement if need be and leave. Don’t go on and on about how the book is not up to par for you and not what you wanted it to be or thought it should be about. Yes, there are stupid people in the world. It takes all kinds and all books are not nicey, nicey when written about stupid people. Bad or nasty reviews don’t really bother me when I am searching for a good book or movie. If the content looks interesting and catches my eye I read the book or watch the movie. It’s all in what you prefer.

Readers who read a fiction book and just assume it is non-fiction and about the writer’s life. I really think this is more so of the writer’s family and friends. I have never thought a fiction book was a writer’s life and never thought to assume this. In my eyes, fiction is fiction.

How much of yourself to you put into your books?

I believe all writers include a portion of themselves in their books even if they are fiction. I only have one book published so far and I am working on the sequel. I did pull a little of my personal life into ‘Crossing The Line’. To clarify, Helena was a decorator and a furniture restorer in my storyline. At the time I was writing we were beginning to renovate and update a 1956 family home and I incorporated those experiences into my story at times.

Do you have plans for other books once you finish the ‘Crossing The Line’ sequel ‘What Line’?

I have varied ideas on the back burner. The first thing I want to work on is a book about my families’ experiences homesteading in Alaska in the late 1950’s. This will actually be a true story and I have letters written by my mother and other artifacts that I will pull this story from. I intend to have a lot of input from my four siblings and other family members and friends of the family to add to the story. We were young, but we made great memories! I wish I had done this before both of my parents passed away and am so grateful I have my mother’s letters and writings on this. There is always some hindsight.

I also have a few ideas and notes written on another novel. I don’t want to say what it is in case it does not pan out. “Crossing The Line’ was supposed to be a trilogy and now that I am into book two I am not sure there will be a third book. Read the preview of ‘What Line’ at https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1122188.

How long do you plan to continue writing?

I plan to continue writing forever because I love it. I always wanted to write, always had dreams of it. There were stories spinning around in my head continually. I think actually writing it all down scared me though. Instead of pursuing the subject I got married young and had children, divorced, married again, and had another child. When the last child went off to college I finally decided to take time for myself.

These days with self-publishing and blogs, writing and publishing is so much more than just a dream. However, it’s not just typing into a template, slapping on a cover and hitting the send button. There is a lot of research to be done and with self-publishing you have to also market and promote your own books. I have learned so much through writing and self-publishing and have acquired so many writer friends just like me through my blog and the internet.

Keep up with what’s happening in my writing world on the sites listed below. ‘Crossing The Line’ can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.






**Thank you so much, Elle, for sharing your insight and joining us today, it is lovely to have you!

Mirror Interview # 5 Luccia Gray

*Today our guest is the lovely and talented Luccia Gray. Please welcome her and take a moment to say hello and check out her work! If you would like to do your own mirror interview–it’s a lot of fun talking to yourself–go to the contact me page and send me an email :) CIMG4315

Why do you use a pen name?

There is a long literary tradition of writers using pen names. 19th century authors were keen users; Currer, Acton and Ellis Bell (the Brontes), George Elliot, (Mary Anne Evans), George Sand, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain. There are many contemporary examples, too: Anne Perry, Anne Rice, and Toni Morrison, among others. No doubt their reasons are/were varied. There is no one reason why a writer decides to write with a pen name.

I started using a pen name because I wanted my ‘writing persona’ to be distinct to my ‘ordinary persona’. I don’t consider it a pseudonym because I don’t keep it a secret. I consider it my ‘artistic name’. I’m trying to keep both ‘personas’ apart professionally, although they sometimes overlap.

Why Luccia Gray?

My pen name is part of me, so it’s an anagram of my birth name: Lucy Garcia. I changed the letters around to produce Luccia Gray. I feel comfortable using it. I consider it a tribute to myself, because I’m finally accomplishing my life-long dream to publish my work and become an author.

How does Lucy feel about Luccia?

Luccia is very special and fragile. She’s insecure, sensitive, and very creative. Lucy is assertive, strong-minded, and very practical. Lucy is very proud of Luccia, and Luccia is glad Lucy found the time, and peace of mind, to give birth to her. I know it sounds weird, but we both feel very pleased with this arrangement!

Why should I read your novel?

All Hallows at Eyre Hall, is a great read. It’s an intriguing and exciting neo Victorian, gothic novel, set in an imposing mansion, frequented by villains, heroes, lovers, and ghosts. I challenge you to read chapter one, and you won’t be able to put it down!

Which are your favourite lines in the novel?

All Hallows is a powerful novel. The characters who breathe life into the narrative are all unique and impressive, that is why so many have been given a voice and a point of view.

There are some beautiful and intriguing letters in the novel. The following extract is from a letter written by one of my favourite characters:

‘My hand trembles as I write this letter. I humbly entreat you to consider it a token of my eternal loyalty and adoration. I can no longer wait in silence while I watch you suffer unjustly. You are not alone. The place I most cherish is by your side, or better still, in your shadow. I offer myself to you in humble and loyal service for the rest of my days. For you alone, I live, I hope, and pray. I will do anything to alleviate your distress and contribute to your contentment. You alone shall be my mistress. My only wish is to remain as close to you as I should be allowed.’

What are you working on now?

I published All Hallows at Eyre Hall as an ebook in May, and it will also be available in print, soon. It is book one of The Eyre Hall Trilogy. I’m currently writing book two, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, which should be out at Christmas 2014. Book three, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, is due next summer, 2015.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

It seemed to be a daunting task to find an agent and/or a publisher, and I didn’t want to wait around for replies to query letters, so I just got on with it! I wrote my first novel, found wonderful beta readers, to test my novel and get quality feedback, a proof-reader, and a cover artist. I finally formatted for Amazon and CreateSpace on my own. Now I’m busy writing and promoting my book, myself.

Quite honestly, it has been a fascinating journey, and I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way, in the last eight months, that I’m really glad I decided to do it by myself. On the other hand, I would be delighted to find an agent and a publisher, to help me with practical matters, so that I could get on with my writing…

More Information and to contact Luccia Gray:

Visit Luccia Gray’s Blog at http://www.lucciagray.com

Read the first chapter of All Hallows at Eyre Hall: http://www.amazon.com/All-Hallows-Eyre-Hall-Breathtaking-ebook/dp/B00K2G4SXW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405987048&sr=8-1&keywords=luccia+gray#reader_B00K2G4SXW

If you are interested in reviewing this novel, please contact me at luccia.gray@gmail.com

Follow Luccia on Twitter: @LucciaGray

Visit Luccia on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8186541.Luccia_Gray

Like Luccia’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LucciaGray?ref=hl

Mirror Interview # 4 Rishika S.

Thank you so much Rishika, for joining us on Readful Things today. It is so much fun to get a glimpse into the mind of an author and learn about their process. If you would like to do your own mirror interview, please email me from my contact me page here on the blog. Thanks everyone, and please take a moment to check out her work and spread the word!


Tell us a little about you and your work.

My name is Rishika and I publish under the name of Rishika S. My first piece of published fiction is One Chance. It’s a short story based around the life of a married couple that is torn apart by deceit. The story follows their path to finding trust and love again. A Bond Unbroken is another love story, and is based on the reunion of two people who had been greatly in love but were forced to take different paths in life. Both of them are short stories that fall in the genre of love stories – the kind of books that you would read while travelling, on holiday, or if you wanted to read something quick.

So how do these story ideas come to you?

Most times, any one scene from the story will play itself out in my head. This generally happens through my dreams. I see these vivid dreams that come with their own back stories and that, I know, will lead somewhere. And if I remember them long enough after waking up to write down some pointers, I have a starting point around which the entire story falls into place.

You have a scene, you have an idea of a story surrounding it – then what? Do you write a haphazard first draft, just getting it all out there, or do you detail an outline? What is your writing process?

I generally just work on it in my head, forming connections and subplots until it all comes together. A lot of research goes on during this phase which often aids the process. Sometimes, I may make a brief outline. But mostly, I’ll just start writing. I write individual scenarios and bring them together and I also write from beginning to end. But I’ve never done a first draft as such. Most of my work is already quite ready to be read and structured. I guess the first draft is getting cleaned up in my head itself.

But you do follow through the outline you’ve set, whether down on paper or not?

Not necessarily. The odd thing is that you create characters, you give them personalities, and then they just start behaving the way a real person with those personalities would. The characters can turn a story differently than I’d planned – basically take a different route to get where the story needs to. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I always go along with it just to see if it works better than what I’d thought of, and I’ve very often found myself agreeing with the paths they choose. That is actually the most beautiful part about writing a story. You create people, and they live out their own lives, just about following the idea you have. That’s what makes a story great, in my opinion. You have to really associate with your own characters if you want others to do so. And I want people to associate with my characters and their emotions. Only then can they associate with their situations and with the story. I want my characters to feel as alive to the readers as they do to me. I’ve found that from the many books I’ve read; the ones I’ve loved are the ones in which the characters just pull you in, all on their own. It was reading such books that made me want to write so that I could create that kind of pull in readers.

So do you think that reading is essential to being a good author?

Immensely! I think that if you don’t read, you can’t write. I read a lot as a kid, and still do. I miss reading when I need to take a break so that I can concentrate on writing. Reading is a major part of me; it’s what made me want to write. It’s what successfully pulls me out of writer’s block – just taking a break and reading for a couple of days. And there are some fantastic authors out there, who make reading not a hobby, but an experience that you live out with the characters.

If you could meet any author, past or present, who would it be and why?

J.R.R. Tolkien, because he is one author who writes beautifully and whose work, to me, is charming. His work is truly unique.

Michael Crichton, because he made me love science fiction even though I had always disliked science as a subject in school. But more importantly because his character development is brilliant – he really knows how to depict human beings and he does it so subtly that you won’t even realize it’s happening. That is why you can love, hate, and feel for his characters.

Stephen King, because from the little of his work that I’ve read (I’m really scared of reading horrors, but I’ve tried his books), and from the many quotes and interviews of his that I’ve read, I think he’s a brilliant man who voices his thoughts in a quirky, but very honest manner; and I think he’d be a great conversationalist. And I think anyone could learn a lot from him.

Let’s look at the opposite end for a moment – are there any authors, or even characters (since they’re the ones that make or break a story for you) that, given the chance, you would… I don’t know… punch in the face?

Quite a few actually. The first would be Bella, from Twilight. I’ve read the books, and I just couldn’t like her. The entire clumsy, modern damsel in constant distress needing rescuing thing didn’t work from me. Her need for a guy’s support at all times, the way she breaks down when Edward leaves, was all a bit over the top. I mean, a normal woman, I think, would pick herself up and move on. The second would be Edward Cullen – only because he sparkles like diamonds. I mean, come on! You’re a vampire! And Dracula is one of my favourite books. So I just can’t digest this new twist on the ‘why vampires can’t get out in the sun’ thing. I’m even okay with the ‘I hunt only animals’, though vampires don’t exactly have consciences, but that’s creative liberty. But shining like diamonds – nope, sorry! As someone who loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula, that’s a bit much to take. My third choice would be Frodo Baggins. Odd, I know, but not because I hated him. In fact, I thought the way his character is influenced by the ring and the way he begins to slowly change was awesome. I just feel so bad for him – he was a good guy who was entrusted with something that began to break him. And I’d punch him in the hopes of breaking him out of that spell (even though it wouldn’t work).

You clearly don’t like the Twilight saga! What about another series that has garnered just as much popularity – the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy? You must have tried that one?

I did actually, but I couldn’t really get past the first half of the first book. It had nothing to do with the theme. BDSM has been around before Fifty Shades and will continue to be around. In fact, it’s an interesting genre to read too. But there was something about the story that just dragged on and I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it, making it only the third book I’ve ever left midway! The same goes with the Twilight saga. Vampire fiction has always been popular. I’ve read others in the genre like Katherine Sorin’s City of Lights trilogy which I really liked (the vampires were all gory and bloodthirsty in those, fitting my idea of a vampire). And there is nothing wrong with the Twilight saga or the Fifty shades trilogy. They really work for some people and, like all books, have been created through effort which I respect. But I just can’t associate with them, or really like them either.

Say you were hanging off a cliff and the only way to save yourself was to read either Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey. Which one would it be?

I’d brace myself for the fall! No, but seriously, can I watch the Twilight movies instead? That way, I get popcorn and save a lot of time… and my life!

You like giving honest reviews. But what would you do if someone gave your work a bad review?

I’d recognize that just how I can’t like every author’s work, not every reader can like mine. But like every storyteller, there are stories that I can tell in my own way which is different from others. And those that like my way, will like my work. You cannot please everyone, that’s part of every writer’s life. Accepting that isn’t easy. But I think I’ll get there with some effort.

Do you plan on continuing with short, love stories or is something else coming up?

I’m not genre limited. I write what comes to me. So I’ve got a lot of ideas for romances, fantasy, and mysteries and thrillers, which happens to be one of my favourite genres. But right now, I’m working on a full length novel – a historical fiction based in 700 CE, India, which should be up for sale end of this year or early next year.

Last question before we wrap up – how can one know more about you?

To know more about my work and me, you can visit any of the following links to my Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon author pages.




Mirror Interview #3 Charles E. Yallowitz


What is one of the most difficult questions I have ever been asked in an interview?

There are a handful of questions that always turn up, so it becomes challenging to give a unique answer. These come down to some creative replies or choosing from a list of possible answers that all hold some speck of truth. Yet, the most difficult question is the following: Who would you want to play your characters in a film version of your book? Wow. I never know the answer because my knowledge of current actors and actresses is limited. So I spout whoever comes to mind, which doesn’t always make sense. The truth is that I’d be so obsessed with the movie being good that anyone who takes on my characters will get the same treatment. Yet, this isn’t an answer that really works because it sounds like a cop out. So, I really hate this question and fear it rearing its head in an interview.

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

Which of my characters would I love to see being cosplayed at a convention?

For the people who don’t know, cosplaying is when a person dressing up as a fictional character and it isn’t for trick or treating. That’s the general idea, but the point is that someone takes the time to make a costume of a character and walk around as them. I’d love to see someone walking around as Sari because her wardrobe and appearance is more in-depth than the other heroes. Still, the one that tops them all would be the Hellfire Elf. The demonic assassin would demonstrate a lot of detail and I’d be honored that someone would take the time and effort to do such a thing.

As the work-from-home parent, how do I balance writing and tending to the toddler?

First, I take advantage of my son being at school and use that time to do errands. This way I don’t have try to do everything with him and waste his afternoon. Now, the amount of work I get done while he’s around depends a lot on the weather. If it’s miserable outside, I can do a little writing or editing while he plays in the room. If it’s good weather then I’ll get very little done and have to settle for jotting down notes on my iPhone while he plays outside. I’ve developed a habit of writing a few paragraphs or a big exchange in a scene then take some time to play with the toddler. This lasts until I reach a point where I can comfortably stop. I spend the night going over what I did while my son was around to fine-tune what I did. It isn’t easy, but the alternatives are to either ignore the little guy or stop in a place where I might not remember where I was going with the scene.

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

How did I get into using a Present Tense 3rd Person POV writing style?

Yes, I know this is a rare, difficult, and typically unloved style. Yet, it feels more natural to me and I like it. So neener neener! Seriously though, the development of this style came about by accident. I started trying to write my first book in high school and used excerpts for creative writing projects. Well, I kept leaping from one tense to another and was told to pick one before I hurt myself. I chose Present Tense and fine-tuned that over the ensuing 10 . . . 15 . . . damn I’m old years. The odd thing here is that I was never really told that I was honing an uncommon style until I self-published in February 2013. I received one warning in high school and that was it. Nobody ever tried to talk me out of this style, so it’s become ingrained in me. I’m playing around with present tense writing on the side, but it feels like I’m trying to run a marathon in floppy clown shoes. So I still need practice and confidence there.

What personal comforts do I need to get into the writing zone? Certain foods, drinks, music, etc?

I hear a lot of authors talking about their special treats and idiosyncrasies when it comes time to write. All of us have at least one quirk that helps us in our trade. Long ago, I used to always have one glass of wine while writing. I stopped when I could be called to pick my son up from school at any moment during the day. So, I drink flavored seltzer when I’m writing. No glass or ice. Just chugging from the wine-bottle sized container and going through 1-2 a day. Besides a drink, I need music playing for me to focus. Otherwise, I drift to the ambient sounds of the house and neighborhood. Music has always put me into a comfort zone and I listen to a combination of video game music, rock n roll, instrumental, random ringing of the phone (dang it!), and whatever else Pandora grabs.

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

How do I balance writing and blogging on a daily basis?

Poorly. I’ve been doing 1-3 daily posts every day since I started blogging in December 2012. At least I think I have since I’ve had to have missed something. If not then I should probably look into getting help. The real problem I have is that I read through a lot of other blogs, which takes time from writing. I’m not very good at balancing, so I’ve done more ‘liking’ than ‘commenting’. I still read them to see if a response pops up and there are times in the day that are betting for blogging than others. My advice to anyone who does this is to find a pace that works for you and not feel bad about having to adjust as your writing situation changes. Also, the scheduling function is a life saver. I always take a few days aside to set up posts about a month in advance by using a weekly theme. Though I might be reaching a time where I settle back to 3-4 posts a week. We’ll see because I truly enjoy blogging and the interaction it gives me while I’m hunched over my laptop typing away.

What is the challenge to taking a role-playing game like Dungeons & Dragons and turning it into a book series?

Let me initially explain that this isn’t about copyright infringement. Legends of Windemere came from a D&D game I was part of in college. Everyone knew what I was up to and agreed to the idea. Then I started writing the books and realized just how much the two mediums differed. In a game, you have multiple people instead of a single author and you can’t spend a lot of time on one-on-one or even small group adventures. Subplots are rather limited because of this and that’s where a lot of book content comes from. The personal journey of the heroes is very important to me, so they need solo time and evolutions. This required that I use the game as a suggestion and add a lot of character-specific things such as romances, deeper secondary characters, and more villain scenes. A final note on characters and development here is that not every player is in it for the characters. Some want only to goof off and others are focused entirely on the numbers, so transferring these characters to the book meant a total revamp. For example, Aedyn Karwyn in my books had no personality in the game and was included because he was ‘there’. There is a lot more too him in the books and his recruitment into Luke Callindor’s adventures is more than ‘I am another player character so you are stuck with me’.

Another big difference is that a game relies a lot on the roll of dice, so luck factors in. An author has full control over the results of an action, but you don’t get that in a D&D game. You also have experience points and levels, which makes sense for a game. In a book, you can have your characters improve over time, but they should have more skill than your typical Level 1 novice to make the adventure interesting. Unless part of the story is about getting trained. For example, Nyx in my books has an amazing amount of magic in the books. It’s more about her keeping control of it and not hurting innocent bystanders. In the game, she started with a pitiful amount of magic and developed a habit of charging into battle with a dagger. Then she would get knocked out and we’d scold the player for being underfoot. The day Nyx learned fireball was when she was finally effective. Also a danger to her allies because she kept forgetting what ‘area of effect’ meant. Thankfully, the book version knows this from the beginning.

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen (CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE)

If I could change one thing about the writing industry, what would it be?

I still consider myself a novice, but one thing I would love to undo is the idea that this is a cutthroat sport. Sure there is a little butting heads within genres and you will always have those people who think they can only succeed by trampling someone else. Yet, I firmly believe that the success of an author can help others. This is especially true with Indie Authors because we don’t have the power and influence of traditional publishers. It’s a lot easier for us to harm our reputation through childish fighting on forums because there is already a stigma of Indie Authors being unprofessional. Working together and showing a face of community to readers denotes a level of seriousness that can help boost the platform and all associated authors.

Say you’re curious about reading a fantasy book and you’re looking for something to cut your teeth on. You come across several authors who seem to be spending a lot of time attacking each other, so you get the feeling that the entire genre is full of immature people. You walk away and never look back. Now if you come across a fantasy author who seems to be working with others then you might have hit the motherload. After trying one author, you might be inclined to read the ones they’re friends with as long as you enjoy the genre.

Social Media:

Blog- Legends of Windemere

Twitter- @cyallowitz

Facebook- Charles E Yallowitz

Amazon Author Page

We’re not so different….

Stuff that is different in America, by an Englishman who knows.

Julian Froment and I are always joking about the differences one finds in translation when dealing with British Vs. American Terms. Sometimes they can be maddening, sometimes they can be funny but they are always entertaining.

Hello, Julian. I wanted to ask a few questions about the transition from the UK to the US. I realise that I usually do bookish posts, but I thought this had the potential to be too much fun to pass up. So, let’s talk a little about the differences between the US and the UK. I’m going to give you some cue words and you tell me what you think of, or what experience it reminds you of. This really isn’t as easy as it looks people, bouncing from one country to another. Of course, this is in no way a comprehensive list, but just a few of the things we have experienced.

Hello, Ionia. Thank you for having me here. You are right that it really is not easy bouncing between countries. I have found though that I have begun to find it more difficult to transition back to life in the UK, than in the US though. I have to confess that at first, and that still hasn’t changed in some areas, I found the differences daunting. Fortunately I had a very good guide to lead me through the maze.

Shopping carts/trolleys

All I can really say is that I am glad that there is not a shopping cart driving test you need to pass. I would be hopeless and fail abysmally. I cannot reverse for anything. I am probably much more dangerous with a cart than a car. I am used to the back wheels steering, and appear to have absolutely no ability if they do not.


I have never been a fan of the queue, or the line. I am generally impatient and don’t enjoy waiting. I would however stand forever in a line, were I with you.

Driving on the “right” side of the road

This has to be the biggy. You spend all of your life driving on what you think is the “right” side of the road, only to find that everyone else drives on the right hand side of the road. This took some getting used to, and I am grateful I had some instruction. I am sorry for all the danger that I put you in, Ionia, during those early days. Hopefully I am better now, despite the occasional lapse. I can probably even find my way to Walmart without prompting now.

Strangely though, the biggest transition with driving has to be returning to the UK. Driving in the UK just feels odd now. I cannot describe it better than odd, although weird works pretty well too. I feel myself drawn to the right side of the road far more than I should do. I have even driven on the right/wrong side of the road a few times. Proof positive that I need to be in the US for the safety of UK drivers.


Biscuits and gravy sounded so strange when I first saw it. I made more sense when I realised that biscuits weren’t biscuits and gravy wasn’t gravy as I knew them from the UK. Imagine dunking a cookie in brown gravy to understand my confusion.

The bacon. Well, what a revelation that was. Not the limp, greasy, pink stuff that we have in the UK, but a crispy, delicious, taste sensation. I love the bacon.

I will admit to a couple of minor mishaps in restaurants, such as ordering chips with a meal, when what I actually meant were fries. I am still working on that one.

American coins

You hear the names of the coins in films and so on, and kind of figure you know all about the currency system, but then you get to the US and realise, ‘Shit! I don’t actually know what each one is worth, or which one is which’. Also the dime being smaller than the nickel, but worth more, threw me. I think I have grasped it now, but I still make mistakes. I am but a child still.


I just cannot stop myself saying ‘cheers’ whenever I buy something or am given something. I can see that people are looking at me with these weird expressions, like I am speaking some alien language. I am trying. I shall conquer this. I shall.

parking lots/car parks

Parking lot seems to be one of those phrases that I just cannot get my head around. I always start saying car park and then try to autocorrect and come out with car parking lot. Other than this, and wanting to go in the exit and out of the entrance, not too many problems. It always amazes me the size of the marked bays though, since in general, cars are so much larger than in the UK.


I seem to be commonly mistaken for an Australian. I am not entirely sure why this should be. In fact almost as many people have asked if I am from Australia, as have asked if I am from Britain. I guess I can understand that in some ways. I am particularly useless at identifying accents.

I believe that you were also asked if you were Swiss, or Swedish, at one point too.

your “accent”

Generally I do not think that I have an accent. I am sure everyone thinks that anyone that talks differently is the one with the accent. I have to say that so many people have commented on my ‘accent’. I am always being told that we have such a cool accent. I believe that it has been responsible for many a free coffee for us too.

Fast food experiences

The whole fast food thing has just passed me by. Fast food to me has always meant a sandwich or something, in the car on the way to work, obviously not faster than the speed limit, of course, not that fast. I get caught out every time by the drive-thru, even though they are appearing in the UK much more now. I still find myself looking around for somewhere to park, to go inside and get a coffee or food, even if I can see that the building is tiny. I have to say I like it, when I can manage to use it effectively. Coffee on the run is awesome.

Thanks again, Ionia, for allowing me to talk a little about the differences that I have encountered moving back and forth across the Atlantic. Obviously the solution is that I be allowed to stay in the US, then there will not be so much confusion, or danger on the UK roads.