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.

http://www.knowleselle.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elle-Knowles/507408332614952

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crossing-the-Line/445787668808115

http://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Line-Elle-Knowles-ebook/dp/B00BQ6RNKC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406479385&sr=8-1&keywords=crossing+the+line+by+elle+knowles

 

**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.

http://on.fb.me/R4HfLU

http://bit.ly/1ga5Hkp

http://amzn.to/1oOt1h5

Mirror Interview #3 Charles E. Yallowitz

charles-author-photo-bwunnamed

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.

Queue/line

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.

bacon/biscuits/gravy

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.

Cheers!

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.

Australians/Swedes/English

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.

Mirror Interview # 2 Elizabeth Tyree

Why don’t we start with who you are? Is this a pen name?

My name is Elizabeth S. Tyree and I write for the YA and Children’s age groups. I suppose technically they call what I do ‘Fantasy’ but I try to make sure that it is written like mid-20th century works would have been…no sex, no graphic language, and if there’s a fight scene or nastiness we move through it quickly. I don’t use a pen name because I am also a teacher and the daughter of a preacher so I work with people of all age groupings. It would be confusing for many of them to try to find my work if I used a pseudonym!

You can click any of these links and find me online (the last being my amazon.com page):

http://alaynabellesmom.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/TyreeTomes

http://about.me/ElizabethTyree

http://www.twitter.com/writerbaby13

www.amazon.com/author/elizabethtyree

How did you make the choice to become a writer?

Some people have said that they chose to be writers in their teens, or late adulthood, or whenever…I wasn’t aware that it was a choice I got to make. I have always been a storyteller and if I take time away from my ink and paper, the characters chase me down and cause me all types of trouble until I give in. Of course, that is also what keeps me motivated as an author…when the voices in your head just want you to write down their story, that’s what you do! (disclaimer: the voices are very kindly dragons and fairies, except for the one bent on world domination, and they only ever pop up when there’s new pieces of story to tell.)

What can you tell us about your books?

I have written somewhere between 8 and 10 books, ranging from children’s picture book storylines to an ‘adult’ novel about a woman who has estranged herself from her mobster family. That does not include the several blog posts a week, the short stories I post each Sunday, the myriad of poems, or the three unfinished manuscripts that I am working on right now.

That’s right, I said 3 current works in progress (because I apparently enjoy chaos and insanity). Since all three are vastly different from each other, a case of writer’s block on one can lead to a great day of work on another. However, I am mostly trying on concentrate on Dragons in the Deep which is The Stone Dragon Saga: Book 4; since I have the first three segments of this series already published and available through Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Hastings (the bookstores will have to order it in for you). I have people asking when book 4 will be available…guys, it’s not quite halfway written!

Do you play favorites?

My favorite of my novels has got to be Dragon on My Neck. That book was my baby for years as I coaxed it out of a short story that had been written for contest on writing.com. Eventually, after it became my first NaNoWriMo win and had been edited and sent to several agents and publishing houses who weren’t looking for that type of tale, I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and discovered the joys of self-publishing on CreateSpace. Though not my first completed novel, Dragon on My Neck was the first novel I poured my full self into, and it has become the first in a series entitled The Stone Dragon Saga. The characters are always with me, their voices and forms flitting through my brain and the corner of my eyesight, just waiting for their next turn in the lime light. Since the characters are several dragons, a few fairies, a sorcerer, two band geek college girls, and some Brits…they know how to keep my attention!

So you write novels, short stories, and a daily blog post? How DO you do it?

As for how I do all of this writing…I’m a writer, duh! No, seriously though, I stay at home with my toddler (my parents have been so amazing to give me this opportunity for the past 2 years) and I write during her naptimes and after she’s gone to bed, unless I just HAVE to write at some other point, which happens more often than I can tell. The coming fall will find me in my own classroom, teaching writing and social studies to 5th graders, so we’ll see how that works out for my writing.

That is a lot of writing, how do you come up with it all? Do you rely on a muse or is this inspiration taken from a hard fought battle with your brain?

I find muses to be unreliable and flighty creatures, though wonderful to have around. I take inspiration from my daughter’s zeal for life, the actions going on around me wherever I am, and especially from nature which is ever changing and ever similar. However, the best way to find inspiration (in my humble opinion) is to make yourself sit down and write, whether or not you know what you’re going to get out. Sometimes the best chapters are ones that I had to force, and the favorite short stories or blog posts took blood, sweat, tears, and cursing at writer’s blockades to get them published.

Once I become inspired, or my child is asleep and my most pressing chores are done, I sit down with a notebook and colored pen. I don’t usually type up novels until the first draft of a section is handwritten, that provides me with an automatic opportunity for editing and redrafting as I type up my word count. Writing it out by hand also forces me to slow down a smidgeon and really see the story I’m writing, although there have been several writing sessions that I finished up and then could not remember writing large chunks of the story because I was so in the zone that I merely became the vessel for the words.

Do you have a special writer’s area that you go to in order to write?

I like to sit outside and write at the park or near the lake/ocean so that I can take ‘block breaks’ and become re-inspired by the goings on around me. However, when I need to feel that extra bit of separateness that can mean the difference between writing and giving in to the world around me (read, watching reruns and Netflix), I have a writer’s loft in the old choir loft of our home (yes, the choir loft. Before it became a private residence, our house was a church building. There is still as belfry, with its bell. Sadly, my father will be having our bats removed after the bat babies are old enough to move).

Is there anything that you do to help the writing process that others might find odd?

I occasionally do silly things, like hanging upside down over the couch or sitting on the front porch during a severe thunder storm so that I can write from a new perspective (the storm was super fun except for the wind gusts of up to 75 mph and the straight line winds). You just have to find what works for you and go with it, no matter what other people think (unless it’s illegal, then I suggest finding the closest possible legal approximation that doesn’t put yourself or others in horrid danger).

Thank for this opportunity! I enjoyed interviewing myself…though it may have been one of my dragons that did the interviewing ;)

 

Thank you so much, Elizabeth for giving such a wonderful interview! I love that last question and answer!

*I apologise if the links are not working as they should. WordPress has been giving me fits the last few days and this morning it has been nothing but issues. You may have to copy and paste the links into your browser if they don’t work  :( Technology!

Hell yes, I read: Inside the mind of a lifelong reader

This is the conclusion to the 2 part series on reading habits (or not reading, if you caught the first half.) Today we are joined by Pamela, from Year Round Thanksgiving

and Poetry by Pamela.

Pam reads more than anyone else I know, so I thought she would be perfect to provide contrast to our previous guest. She has some really interesting answers, so authors, if you are wondering what makes your book sell, have a read.

 

Ionia: Why do you read so much? There are so many forms of entertainment, but what makes you come back to books?

Pamela: I have always been a reader. I grew up loving books. One of my fondest memories as a very young child, was “running away from home”. My mom had made me do something I didn’t want to do (but I am sure now that it was something I should do) and so I announced that I was going to run away from home. Back then, suitcases were those hard sided ones. I proceeded to pack it full of my books to take with me. No clothes or toys, just books. And then I asked my mom is she would carry it for me so I could run away from home because I could only drag it as far as the end of the driveway.

I’m not really much of a television watcher. I do love movies in the theater, but if the movie is based on a book I’ve read, I’m nearly always disappointed. Books capture my imagination and feed my soul.

Ionia: When you do find a book you think you’d like to read, what is it that first captures your attention? What makes you pick that book rather than another?

Pamela: What better way to spend an afternoon than in a bookstore or library? I can browse for hours. I think that the cover of a book is the first impression. It doesn’t mean that is all I consider, but that is what draws me to look at it. From there, the genre and the book blurb have to captivate me. Of course, most of the indie books are not in the bookstores or libraries and I find those through some of the promotional sites, blogs, and word of mouth.

Ionia: How important are what other customers say about the book in reviews? Do you pay attention to star ratings and customer reviews?

Pamela: Of course I read YOUR reviews and have picked up several books because of that. I don’t generally read reviews of books on the sites where I’m purchasing a book. Reviews can be so skewed by the readers. I rely heavily on the book description. I don’t notice the star ratings as much either.

Ionia: Do you do most of your reading in paper format or digital and why?

Pamela: There was a time I would have answered this question with “I will NEVER read other than a paper book”. Then I bought a Nook. I was hooked from the beginning. I could carry dozens of books with me all the time. About that time I also noticed that I began reading more and more. I was already a voracious reader, but my Nook (Julio is what I named him) was so easy to carry with me everywhere…and I did. But then I realized that so many indie books were only available on the Kindle platform. So I bought a Kindle. They fit so easily into my purse or briefcase so I always have one of them with me. No more outdated boring magazines in waiting rooms. Plus, when I’m reading on my Kindle and fall asleep, it doesn’t (a) hit me in the head and (b) keeps my place. I still love to touch books, smell books, and hold paper books, but I prefer reading electronically.

Ionia: You’ve decided to read this book. What makes you say..never mind. Not for me, or do you ever give up before finishing?

Pamela: I don’t very often quit reading a book. I guess it is that hopeful nature I have that keeps me going. But I do have to say that if a book can’t capture my interest or attention in the first 25-50 pages, there is a strong chance that I may just give up. There are so many really good books to read that I don’t feel it is necessary to read a book that doesn’t hold my attention. There have been some very popular mainstream books that I just couldn’t get through. I’m trying to think of the name…I saw the movie and it was good, but the book just couldn’t keep my interest. Oh, I know, it was “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larrson. Everyone said after the first 100 pages, it got interesting. I just couldn’t wait and gave up. If it is an indie book and has obviously not been proofread or edited, there is also a good chance I will just put it aside too.

Ionia: Does it matter to you if the book was put out by a big publisher or an indie author or indie press? Does the name of the publisher have any influence on if you will take the risk and buy the book?

Pamela: I love indie authors. But I also love some really big name authors. I have noticed that some of the bigger names aren’t necessarily good books. There seems to be a tendency for their books to start feeling the same as their last one, even if they aren’t in a series. I want something that is original. My preferred genre is thriller/suspense/mystery and there seems to be a formula for those books. But character development and plot twists and turns still keep me reading. I realize that much of life is a pendulum. Right now my pendulum has swung toward the indie author/publisher. I throw in a mainstream mass market book from time to time though.

Ionia: Do you have any favourite categories that you do enjoy reading when you find a book that you enjoy?

Pamela: As I mentioned before I really enjoy the suspense/thriller/mystery books. But I have been branching out with genres. Historical Fiction is another favorite of mine. But I will read just about anything. I’m not a big fan of sci-fi though. Or romance. I avoid romance books most of the time. Isn’t that ironic? I write love poetry and yet I don’t like romance books. Hmmm maybe I should read more romance.

Ionia: Does price influence your buying decisions? Are you more likely to buy a less expensive book than a more expensive on or is it really about the content?

Pamela: I remember the days that I bought all of my books in hard cover…at $19.99 up to $29.99 each. So, purchasing a book that is $9.99 is still a bargain. I am not dissuaded from reading something on my Kindle by price generally. That being said, if I spend $10-$15 on a Kindle book and it isn’t well written or edited, I’m not happy. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to see how much I spend on Amazon in the course of a year. I keep thinking how nice it would be to win one of those sweepstakes where the prize is $1000 at Amazon. Wouldn’t that be fun? As much as I enjoy reading, I also enjoy finding new books and buying them for my to-be-read queue.

Ionia: Will you buy a book just because it is part of a series? The hole in the shelf syndrome, if you will? Even if you don’t intend to read the books, will you buy based on having a partial series?

Pamela: Oh dear, someone told you about me, didn’t they? I have just enough OCD tendencies that I couldn’t possibly read books in a series out of order. And if I enjoyed the first one, I most certainly will buy every single one in the series…in order. But I also purchase books from authors, even those not in a series, so I will have them all. In fact, I have every Stephen King book he has published in hard cover copies. But I also have a lot of them for my Kindle. As I said earlier, I prefer reading on my Kindle so I want them to read in that format. But my bookshelf wouldn’t be complete without every single one of his books on it.

Ionia: Does sales rank have anything to do with purchasing decisions?

Pamela: What a great question. Until I published my own book, I had no idea about the sales ranking. Obviously then, it didn’t impact my purchasing decision at all. Even now that I know about the sales ranking, I rarely pay attention to it. I think it is the thing that the authors love (at least when the numbers are good), but from a reader standpoint, not so much.

Ionia: One final question: Where do you see the most advertising for books and have you ever bought based on an ad from that place?

Pamela: The only place I really notice book advertising is on blogs and through the multitude of “free and bargain book” sites. I subscribe to several of those and I find a lot of really good books that way. I may not buy them at the time, but I add them to my wish list.

Oh my, I just realized that we’ve been talking for a long time. I know you are busy and I’m sorry if I talked too much. But thank you again for giving me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects.

Thank you so much for being here today and giving us some insight into the mind of someone who really loves literature!