Author’s Roundtable: Rachel Done


How long have you been writing?

I have been writing in some form or another for my entire life, but the last five years have been the most serious. I wrote my first novel for a little more than a year before realizing the plot was not savable and I took a break for about six months to regain my bearings. I wrote the first draft of my current novel after that, and after major (so major it burned) edits about a year later, I had draft two of it. From draft two I’m revising key parts in the beginning and early middle, and I hope to complete the third (and final) draft by November!

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I never knew what I wanted to do as a profession when people ask. I still don’t really know. Writing is too fun to be a profession, but I’ve always wanted to write and read in some form, whether it was poems or novels. Books have always been in my life.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

Nothing published yet, although I have every hope and dream for my current work in progress, “Immemorial Love.” Of course, the title will probably change dramatically. As mentioned above, I have the terribly plotted novel sitting on my hard drive, half-finished and waiting for a second chance. Some day, it will get it.

Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

Both of my books are YA fantasy in some way, although the first and unfinished one was more high fantasy. “Immemorial Love” is a modern, urban fantasy with a very prominent romantic subplot. Both deal with the social and political interactions between humans and the not-humans (for lack of a better, all inclusive word) and how love comes in every form imaginable. “Immemorial Love” is about two boys, one a human and one a daphir, who fall in love and are forced to fight in a war over magical weapons and the consequent struggle for control of the Earth because of their destiny, which may or may not leave one of them dead and the other heartbroken.

More about “Immemorial Love”

When Jesse and Brycen swear to love each other regardless of the pain, Jesse doesn’t know that Brycen isn’t human. A bloody nose reveals it, however; Brycen is a daphir, a human life species with instinctual bisexuality, a deadly allergy to oranges and alcohol, black blood and survives on life energy called Corr. After a near-fatal night Jesse is labeled a target by Project Genesis, a cult of daphirs who assembled genes in a daphir to make him a weapon to overthrow the world: Brycen.

The boys take refuge with governmental daphirs, but with constant danger they will never live in peace. Project Genesis needs Brycen for the magical Immemorial Knives, weapons they made him to be genetically compatible with them. The danger heightens when Project Genesis steals one of the six Immemorial Knives and threatens to make a new, evil daphir to enslave humanity, and to keep the world safe and live peacefully with Jesse, Brycen will have to obtain all six Immemorial Knives and destroy Project Genesis.

All Jesse wants is the Immemorial Knives, as legend has it they would enhance his human life to match Brycen’s several hundred year one, but all eyes are on him. Why does his Corr burn so bright? Is he human? Or is he the soul mate of a daphir from legends? Only the Immemorial Knives can tell…

How did you get inspiration for the characters?

It was a late night, I can tell you that. Brycen and Jesse are the main elements that carry through all three drafts (and the only common factor between draft one and two), although I originally made them to simply be the best of friends. Other authors can attest to when characters take on lives of their own, as mine did, and it can be frustrating. The scenes I was writing with them weren’t turning out, and then I realized they were in love! A great plot twist from my subconscious. Brycen could be any teen who never knew his parents or was in foster care/adoptive systems, or anyone having an identity crisis. Actually both could be identity-stricken teens, although Jesse definitely “struggles” with being gay. I say “struggle” because he loves himself and Brycen, but he has issues with his neglectful parents, and especially how his father (who, as a heart surgeon, has unreachable and undesired standards for Jesse) would receive him. Luckily the parents are absent for the first book, but they make a cameo eventually.

Overall, I got the inspiration from anyone who has ever been different, said so, fought for what/who they loved, who stood up and said, “This is MY world, and you’re not taking it from me.”

And this book is for all of you who bravely stood up; may you inspire those yet to come.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

Nope. In my life there has been no best friend turned lover, no lover turned not-human, no normal life gone crazy fantastical with destinies, knives and reincarnations. I wish, although I do have a little of the family tension Jesse experiences, but who doesn’t?

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Just do it. Sorry Nike.

Just do what you love, write what you love, read what you love, never let anyone tell you no. Never stop, always do something to keep your mental juices flowing and don’t give up. I won’t lie, though. It’s hard. I still have no agent (although hopefully that will change soon) and no publishing contract. It’s not easy to get one either. But if you have something you’ll die for, die for it. Metaphorically. And never say it’s your best work. Because that’s the beauty of writing: it never ends. There’s always more improvement, self criticism, you’re never done. The day I’m done will be very sad indeed.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

I actually had part of my book edited/criticized by a pro editor, and quote, “Best reality bitch slap ever.” Truly. Everyone looks at their work and sees, well, their work. But other people look at it as what’s strong, what’s weak, what works, what doesn’t. Other people’s opinion is gold, you just have to learn to take it well. They’re trying to make you better. Take it well.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Definitely the “I’m small and no one knows me, I have no connections, my book has some controversial elements but it has heart and meaning, and people need it but I’m scared,” complex. That was totally me. I was young, alone, typing into Microsoft Word for an average of an hour today. I knew nothing. I taught myself everything. I had no social life. Writing was (still is) my life. And I’m still not published, but still not stopping. I have learned you have to stand by your work, even if it’s controversial in any way, shape, or form, because guts=glory. Agents, publicists, etc… like people who love and will die hard for their work. If the author won’t stand by it, who will? So be your one person fandom. Do it. Because someone, someday, will be impressed by it.

How did you find time to write your books?

I’m a time budgeting-aholic. I balanced school with writing, which is no easy task. I’m not a procrastinator at all: my motivation for working was so I could have time to write. I set a writing time, say after dinner on week days, and that motivated me to be done with everything else before dinner. On weekends, I did half of my work before I can write, so by Sunday evening I was task free, except for writing. I’m also always thinking about what I have to do next, new developments and plot twists, and new ways to make it better. The notes app on my iTouch is perfect for the random one liners and plot ideas that fly through my brain at any time of day!

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Absolutely! Writing is a perfect way to send a message or feeling about a certain issue. It’s how I express my opinion, how I want to make my stamp on the world. And it makes us smart.

Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

If I’m having a miserable, trashy day I can just go vent, write, escape for the time while I’m breaking imaginary faces and plotting to take over the world. It’s my hobby; I love to do it. And my characters always love me back, no matter how many times they’re nearly shot. I’m also a very intellectual person who gets bored easily, so perfecting aspects of a plot and characters is the perfect activity for my over-stimulation.

Has writing made you a better person?

Without a doubt. I am no longer afraid of criticism, even the bad kind. I’ve also learned how to talk to myself objectively, to tell myself, “Rachel, this bottom out sucks, and you sooo know it.” I know who I am, know what’s my “thing,” and I know what I’m out to do. I have my niche in the world. I will always be a writer. And in the process of writing, when my characters came to life and decided to love each other, I taught my young mind to not judge any person because of who they are, which I believe to be a skill every human could benefit from.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

Of course!! My favorite genres are all those who have some kind of fantastic/not real aspect. I don’t even know if I own a pure contemporary novel. And I’ll probably get chewed out for saying this, but I don’t want to read what I could experience in real life. If I wanted that I could go out and do it, but if I wanted to go fight a magical war for the sake of the Earth and fall in love with my soul mate who was not human, I think I would have a hard time doing it.

About Rachel Done

Born where it never rains, Rachel Done taught herself to read when she was three, although she still can’t spell. In the second grade she altered every reflection journal prompt to be the opening sentence in a series of childish shorts about a girl living in a jungle with animals, and her teacher let her do it. It wasn’t until sixth grade she discovered the true joy of writing, and she is now on her second novel. The first one remains hidden in her computer, as its plot is so butchered and unplanned that it would take years to repair. Someday she will return to it.

She runs because she really loves dessert, and could survive with only her laptop, Microsoft Word, an unlimited knowledge base/dictionary, note cards, a pen, and of course, books. Her favorite office tool is a binder clip, and she shuns paper clips. Visit her at immemoriallove.blogspot.com.

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Ten Important Research Findings on Marriage and Choosing a Marriage Partner


Helpful Facts for Young Adults

1. Marrying as a teenager is the highest-known risk factor for divorce.

People who marry in their teens are two to three times more likely to divorce than people who marry in their twenties or older.

2. The most likely way to find a future marriage partner is through an introduction by family, friends or acquaintances.

Despite the romantic notion that people meet and fall in love through chance or fate, the evidence suggests that social networks are important in bringing together individuals of similar interests and backgrounds, especially when it comes to selecting a marriage partner. According to a large-scale national survey of sexuality, almost sixty percent of married people were introduced by family, friends, co-workers or other acquaintances.

3. The more similar people are in their values, backgrounds and life goals, the more likely they are to have a successful marriage.

Opposites may attract but they may not live together harmoniously as married couples. People who share common backgrounds and similar social networks are better suited as marriage partners than people who have very different backgrounds and networks.

4. Women have a significantly better chance of marrying if they do not become single parents before marrying.

Having a child out of wedlock reduces the chances of ever marrying. Despite the growing numbers of potential marriage partners with children, one study noted, “having children is still one of the least desirable characteristics a potential marriage partner can possess.” The only partner characteristic men and women rank as even less desirable than having children is the inability to hold a steady job.

5. Both women and men who are college educated are more likely to marry, and less likely to divorce, than people with lower levels of education.

Despite occasional news stories predicting lifelong singlehood for college-educated women, these predictions have proven false. Though the first generation of college educated women (those who earned baccalaureate degrees in the 1920s) married less frequently than their less well-educated peers, the reverse is true today. College educated women’s chances of marrying are better than less well-educated women. However, the growing gender gap in college education may make it more difficult for college women to find similarly well-educated men in the future. This is already a problem for African-American female college graduates, who greatly outnumber African-American male college graduates.

6. Living together before marriage has not proved useful as a “trial marriage.”

People who have multiple cohabiting relationships before marriage are more likely to experience marital conflict, marital unhappiness and eventual divorce than people who do not cohabit before marriage. Researchers attribute some but not all of these differences to the differing characteristics of people who cohabit, the so-called “selection effect,” rather than to the experience of cohabiting itself. It has been hypothesized that the negative effects of cohabitation on future marital success may diminish as living together becomes a common experience among today’s young adults. However, according to one recent study of couples who were married between 1981 and 1997, the negative effects persist among younger cohorts, supporting the view that the cohabitation experience itself contributes to problems in marriage.

7. Marriage helps people to generate income and wealth.

Compared to those who merely live together, people who marry become economically better off. Men become more productive after marriage; they earn between ten and forty percent more than do single men with similar education and job histories. Marital social norms that encourage healthy, productive behavior and wealth accumulation play a role. Some of the greater wealth of married couples results from their more efficient specialization and pooling of resources, and because they save more. Married people also receive more money from family members than the unmarried (including cohabiting couples), probably because families consider marriage more permanent and more binding than a living-together union.

8. People who are married are more likely to have emotionally and physically satisfying sex lives than single people or those who just live together.

Contrary to the popular belief that married sex is boring and infrequent, married people report higher levels of sexual satisfaction than both sexually active singles and cohabiting couples, according to the most comprehensive and recent survey of sexuality. Forty-two percent of wives said that they found sex extremely emotionally and physically satisfying, compared to just 31 percent of single women who had a sex partner. And 48 percent of husbands said sex was extremely satisfying emotionally, compared to just 37 percent of cohabiting men. The higher level of commitment in marriage is probably the reason for the high level of reported sexual satisfaction; marital commitment contributes to a greater sense of trust and security, less drug and alcohol-infused sex, and more mutual communication between the couple.

9. People who grow up in a family broken by divorce are slightly less likely to marry and much more likely to divorce when they do marry.

According to one study the divorce risk nearly triples if one marries someone who also comes from a broken home. The increased risk is much lower, however, if the marital partner is someone who grew up in a happy, intact family.

10. For large segments of the population, the risk of divorce is far below fifty percent.

Although the overall divorce rate in America remains close to fifty percent of all marriages, it has been dropping gradually over the past two decades. Also, the risk of divorce is far below fifty percent for educated people going into their first marriage, and lower still for people who wait to marry at least until their mid-twenties, haven’t lived with many different partners prior to marriage, or are strongly religious and marry someone of the same faith.

~From the National Marriage Project’s Ten Things to Know Series~

Authors Roundtable: Heather Thurmeier


How long have you been writing?

I started writing my first book three years ago. That book took me 10 months to write and probably another year to edit. I’ve been published for one year.
 
Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Yes! But I ignored myself for a very long time. I always made up little stories or poems here and there throughout my school years. Every time I got an assignment to write something creative in English class, I would cheer while everyone else in class would cringe. However, it took me a long time to come up with the idea I wanted to write my first book. Once the idea hit me, there was no stopping my decision to start writing.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I currently have four books published — “Love and Lattes,” “Love on Landing,” “Bunny Hills and Bikinis” and “Falling For You.” “Love or Luxury” comes out in September, and I have a few other books that are written and still in the polishing stage that will hopefully be published soon. 
 
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

All of my books are contemporary romances with a humorous, lighthearted feel.

My Meadow Ridge Romance series (“Love and Lattes,” “Love on Landing” and “Love or Luxury”) are about characters who all live in an elite, gated community. They may be stinking rich, but they still have their share of problems, and they all long to find the love of their lives.

“Bunny Hills and Bikinis” is a stand-alone novel about a girl who is forced to attend a weekend retreat for work with a colleague who won’t keep his hands to himself and a workshop presenter who makes her feel hot and bothered even on the coldest of nights.

“Falling for You” is the first in a new series of reality TV romances. Cassidy is a contestant of a new reality TV dating show where she has to compete for the bachelor with nine other women. And there *may* be a hunky cameraman following her around 24/7 who is impossible for Cassidy to ignore.

More about “Falling for You”

Newly single Cassidy Quinn is thrilled to be a contestant on the new reality dating show, “The One.” But her excitement turns to horror when the gorgeous bachelor turns out to be her ex-boyfriend. Seeing Brad again makes Cassidy realize she might not be as
“over him” as she thought—and then she meets hunky cameraman Evan Burke.

After watching his brother lose his wife in a tragic accident, Evan vows never to fall in love. But following Cassidy around as her personal cameraman makes him question his decision, and resisting her gets harder with every sunbathing, bikini-wearing day.

Cassidy and Evan begin a forbidden affair while her ex-boyfriend tries to win her heart back one groping, awkward moment at a time. If Cassidy can manage to stop falling off horses (literally), stop falling onto her ex-boyfriend, the bachelor (yes, literally), and stop falling in love with backstage playboy Evan, she might still make it through the show without becoming a tabloid sensation.

But soon Cassidy must choose between the ex who broke her heart and the cameraman who might never love her back. For Cassidy, this reality show just got real.

How did you get inspiration for the characters?

My inspirations come from all over the place. Sometimes I’ll see someone sitting in a restaurant gazing across the table at her love, and I’ll start to wonder how she got to that point in her life. Sometimes I get the general idea for the story first, and then the characters come to life because of the situation I’ve decided to put them in.
 
Are the books based on personal experiences?

No. I’ve never lived in an elite, gated community or had any part of that extravagant lifestyle. I’ve never liked skiing, and I would probably take a spill down the mountain like Amelia did in Bunny Hills if I tried to ski again. And I’ve never been on a reality TV show of any kind, although a watch a lot of reality TV.
 
Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep learning. It takes a lot of mistakes to make a great book happen! No one has the perfect first draft. Find trusted critique partners, preferably other authors who have books published in your genre and who are strong in an area where you are weak. Then listen to what they have to say! But at the end of the day, you have to make sure that your work is the story that YOU wanted to tell.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

Professional editing is SO important. Editors know what they’re doing. They can find all those little mistakes and inconsistencies that we just don’t see after working on our stories for so long. Even if you decide to self publish, it’s wise to have your book edited by a professional editor you trust.
 
What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

I think the hardest thing to overcome has been my own fear. Every time I come up with a new idea, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to write it as awesome as it is in my head. Every time I submit a manuscript, I’m afraid it will get rejected. Every time a new book release, I’m afraid that readers will hate it.

But I’ve learned that the fear is just going to be there no matter what and if I embrace it, it will make me a better writer.
 
How did you find time to write your books?

I’m a full-time mom to two, have a dog, and my husband works crazy, long hours. Finding time to write has been very challenging in the last few years. I started writing once my kids started preschool. I would write while they were there for an hour or two a couple of times a week. Then I would try to sneak in a few words here or there whenever the kids were occupied or hubs was home. I burned plenty of pancakes attempting to finish a scene and cook dinner at the same time! It was tricky to fit it in, and writing was very slow going. Now both of my kids are in grade school, so I’ll be writing five full days a week starting in September! I’m excited to have so much uninterrupted time!! And hopefully the kids won’t have to suffer through more burned pancake dinners.
 
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Writing is so freeing! I can be any person, go anywhere, do anything and all from the comfort of my own couch!
 
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

Writing is very relaxing…when I’m in the zone. Sometimes it’s very not relaxing. Sometimes it’s like pulling my own teeth with rusty pliers. Those are times when the words just won’t come to me. But when I’m in the zone and the words are flowing freely, it’s so relaxing! It actually feels a little bit like I’m watching a movie in my head, and my fingers are just typing what I see happening. It’s a little surreal. When I finish a writing session like that, I usually feel incredibly charged up and exhilarated. It’s awesome.
 
Has writing made you a better person?

I think it’s made me realize who I really am. I finally feel like I know where I belong in the world, and that is a wonderful gift.
 
Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I love to read! I read every night before bed and a little during the day if I can squeeze in the time. I love romance—contemporary and paranormal—urban fantasy, YA, dystopian/post-apocalyptic and the occasional adventure/mystery. I don’t like anything dark or disturbing.
 
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are very important. Money is tight for most people these days, and I think readers are careful how they spend their hard-earned dollars. If a reader is undecided about a book, they may read the reviews to see what other readers think. Those reviews could make the difference as to whether or not the reader buys your book. 
 
Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

Yes, I have. I wouldn’t say it gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling that my five-star reviews give me, but it didn’t crush my soul either. I was disappointed to read that someone didn’t enjoy my book because I always hope people like what they read from me. But I also know not every book is going to appeal to every reader. How often have you read the back of a book and then put it back on the shelf because it didn’t really entice you to read it? How often have you read an entire book and then felt annoyed with something about the book? I don’t write my books with the intention of pleasing every reader. I write what I love, and hopefully the right readers will find my books and enjoy them.

I think the most important thing to remember about getting a bad review is that you can’t take every criticism to heart. Something that one person loves, another might hate. That’s okay. Read the review and then let it go. Don’t let it change who you are as a writer or let it influence how you write your stories. And if you ever find that you can’t get the reviews out of your head and they are preventing you from writing new work, STOP READING REVIEWS! 😉

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Jason! I’m happy to answer any additional questions your readers might have. Just drop me a little note or question in a comment, and I’ll be back to check in!

About Heather Thurmeier

Heather Thurmeier was born and raised in the Canadian prairies, but now she lives in upstate New York with her own personal romance hero (aka her husband) and their two little princesses. When she’s not busy taking care of the kids and an adventurous puppy named Indy, Heather’s hard at work on her next romance novel. Heather loves strawberry margaritas, hates spiders and is a reality TV junkie. Her passion is contemporary romance—writing stories filled with laugh-out-loud moments, uber-hunky heroes, feisty heroines and always a happily ever after.

Check out Heather’s website, become a fan of Heather’s books on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Buy “Falling for You” on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Rockin’ Out with Glitter Rose


How did your interest in music get started?

I’ve always loved music, and at 12 decided I wanted to start writing songs, although I didn’t play an instrument yet and had only sang in my school choir for a couple years. It was something already inside me and just manifested at that age; ever since I’ve been addicted to it. I learned to play keyboard first, then guitar to accompany my songwriting.

Did you sing in church when you were younger? Did your family sing or play instruments? 

My grandmother was a singer, piano player and performer. So were some of my aunts and uncles. I never did get to see any of them perform, nor was I really influenced by them to play music. It’s in the family tree and is in my blood, so it manifested itself. 
 
Can you talk a little bit more about who have been your biggest inspirations, either other artists or your family? What lessons did they instill in you that you will carry with you on your singing career? 

Musically, I’ve been inspired by so many bands and songwriters. The first band really to spark my interest in songwriting was Counting Crows. Adam Duritz is an incredible lyricist, and the band brought so much feeling to his words. Also, I’m a big fan of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash and Bonnie Raitt. In my teenage years, I played 80s influenced rock and was inspired to write in the style of Motley Crue, Guns n’ Roses and Blondie. I’ve tried to learn from all different styles of music and songwriters. In life and music, I’m greatly inspired by my sister and manager, Mary Louis. She has taught me about respect, gratitude, ethics and doing good business. She is the reason I am the woman I am today, and she also inspires my songwriting, always encouraging and helping me with ideas.

Can you talk a little about your family and how they inspired you?

The most influential people in my family have been my father, Peter, and my sisters, Mary and Niki. My dad was a very cool guy, and always believed in and supported my dream.  Unfortunately, he passed away on Christmas Day 2011. I wish he could have experienced with me the success that keeps coming my way, but I know he is looking out for me and making sure all my dreams keep coming true, as long as I work hard and stay focused, like he taught me. Of course, I talked about my oldest sister, Mary, earlier, and she is definitely my rock. She is always there for me and makes sure I’m taken care of, I am so blessed to have her in my life. My sister, Niki, is closer to my age, and over the years has done everything she can to support my music career and help how she can: sell merchandise, promote my music, was a dancer for my rock band, Hollywood High, babysits my dogs when I’m on the road. We have a very large Italian family, but these three people mean the most to me, and I feel very fortunate to have them.

Have you recorded any albums? How many have you released?

Yes. I recorded and released my first album at 13. It was the first group of songs I ever wrote and was an 11-track album, which was very country pop. I then started writing hard rock music and over the years released several EPs with my rock band, Hollywood High.  In 2007, I started a solo project and released my full album called “Southern Comfort.” For every album that was sold, one was sent to a soldier overseas. My most current full album release is brand new, just released in March 2012. It’s called “Dead or Alive” and is available on iTunes, CDBaby, Amazon and my website.

Can you talk a little bit about how your journey began and how it’s led you to where you are today?

My journey has been long, hard, beautiful and remarkable. It started when I was 13. I was born in the Mojave Desert in California. I moved with my oldest sister, Mary, to my dad’s house in Ft. Worth, TX. From there we dove into the music business, recording my first album, putting together a live band and starting to perform live. We were very green and didn’t know a thing about the music industry. Over the years, we learned many lessons, and met lots of people along the way who mentored us and taught us various aspects of the business. At 15 years old, when I was getting ready to turn 16, I decided I wanted to play hard rock music and formed my band, Hollywood High. My idea was a modern-day Motley Crue, with a female front. It was a crazy time! We recorded a music video for my song called “Rock n’ Roll Peep Show” and, from there, started receiving rotation on 97.1 The Eagle in Dallas/Ft. Worth. We started touring Texas, then the southwest, then on to Hollywood. After doing several Los Angeles shows, we relocated to Hollywood, were nominated for Outstanding New Artist at the 14th annual Los Angeles Music Awards and won. We also performed at the event and got some offers from labels. Unfortunately, those labels weren’t interested in me being a rock artist. They wanted to write my songs for me and make me pop, and I had to decline. I am a songwriter, first and foremost, so that means the most to me when considering opportunities. I moved back to Texas after the Hollywood High reign and started my solo project. I started writing a blend of country and rock, which has now developed into my current Southern Rock sound. 

As an artist, what are some of the things you’ve been able to do? 

I’ve been very blessed with some really cool opportunities. When I first started in music, I worked with a lot of teen organizations, and received awards from Girls, Inc. for my positive work for their organization and received a key for the city of Killeen, TX. I got to open for KISS and Aerosmith in my rock band, Hollywood High, in Dallas, TX. We also received Outstanding New Artist at the 14th annual Los Angeles Music Awards. In my current solo project, I received Honorable Mention in the Billboard World Song Contest 2010 for my song “Doublewide on the Backside.” I also have been asked two years in a row to perform at the NAMM Show. Another really cool thing was my recent five-month residency at the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Boulevard for an event they created for my music called Southern Rock Brunch. I performed every Sunday morning. Now, I am nominated at two different award shows. The 22nd annual Los Angeles Music Awards has nominated me for Best Country Artist and Country Single of the Year for “Vodka Girls.” The 2013 Artists in Music Awards has nominated me for Best Rock Artist. I feel very blessed and honored to have had so many incredible experiences over the years.
 
Have you met any other artists? Who’d you meet, and what was the experience like?

I’ve gotten to meet a few great artists over the years, but the coolest experience for me was meeting Steven Tyler at Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas. I was recording my single, “Doublewide on the Backside,” and Steven came into the studio to check it out. I looked up from the sound board, and Steven was in the other room checking out my guitars. He then came into the control room and introduced himself, and said “I’m sorry to interrupt your session.” What a humble and gracious guy. He was very nice, and to get to meet one of my idols not as a fan, but as a peer, is an amazing feeling.
 
What advice did they give you? If you could give an aspiring artist advice about the music industry, what would it be?

I would advise artists getting into the music industry to first learn all aspects of the “modern music business.” Digital distribution, music licensing, how to make money with your music through these outlets. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to make money on touring/live shows anymore, it’s actually a huge expense. If you’re going to get into the industry, you need to start with a good amount of money, and every bit that you might make needs to go back into your career. It’s not an easy way of life, there’s a lot of challenges you face and heartache because music is an emotional experience, and when you add business to that, it’s a rough balance. Make sure you have good support from your family and friends, and that they want your success as much as you do, or it will break your focus.
 
Did you have to overcome rejection while making the climb to the studio? Did they make you a stronger person? In what ways?

Since I have played music and done it professionally for 14 years, I have experienced several different types of rejection. It’s impossible to please everyone, and starting as a kid, I grew up on stage and through my songs, so my teenage years were under a microscope. Every time I was rejected, I grew stronger and got better at my craft. If you can’t overcome, then you’ll fall backwards, and eventually your music will fade away. You have no choice but to grow stronger from rejection if you want longevity in the music business.

If you could pick one instance when you were rejected, how did that make you feel? Any lessons you could take from that rejection and tell to someone so they don’t get rejected?

If you are trying to make music professionally for any amount of time, you WILL get rejected.  No doubt about it. You have to take everything as constructive criticism (whether it is meant that way or not) and find the positive. You have to have no fear. Feel and express your emotions, but don’t dwell on it and keep moving forward.

I can imagine that as an artist, you’re away from home a lot. How does being on the road affect your relationship with your family?

I, myself, am very fortunate because my sister and I work together as a team, and I always have my family support by my side. But both of us miss our friends dearly. We are very blessed to have amazing people in our lives in both Texas and California, as well as other parts of the country. When in California, I miss my Texas peeps, and visa versa. We talk to all of them a lot, and sometimes they travel to where I am for special shows, etc. So again, I am very blessed. 🙂
 
How does being an artist affect the holiday season for you? Are you able to take time off to visit family and friends? What do the holidays mean to you?

The holidays are always crazy for us, being a big Italian family!! Even when performing through the holiday season, we always get the chance to spend quality time with our family and friends. We like to jam and play music together, share memories and eat lots of food!! It’s always a positive time of year.

How important do you think down time is for an artist?

I think when you work hard and throw yourself into the business, there’s a point when you have to take a few days off. Stop worrying about your Twitter and Facebook page, and take a second to breathe, enjoy your surroundings, and live “normal” for a bit. It’s the little things that you sometimes forget to recognize when you’re always looking for the next gig, job, big break, etc. The music business is a revolving door, and you have to continuously stay on top of it to stay in the spotlight. So, those few days of recovery are necessary to refresh and get re-inspired.
 
If you could perform anywhere in the world with anyone in the world, who and where would it be?

Gosh, there’s SOOO many artists I’d like to perform with!! But, the ultimate would be the Rolling Stones in London, I think that would be off the chain amazing! My ultimate fantasy would be to play with John Lennon in a little bar or coffee shop somewhere off the map, just me and him and two acoustic guitars. Jammin’ tunes and maybe write a song together. Maybe in another life. 

About Glitter Rose

She’s got a Southern heart, and a Rock n’ Roll soul. Outlaw Southern Rocker, Glitter Rose is from Ft. Worth, TX. This left-handed guitarist owns the stage with her amazing charisma and defining Southern Rock sound. GR is endorsed by TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik, Fishman Acoustic Amplification, WARRIOR Guitar, BAE Audio, Rotosound Music Strings, Moody Leather and Guitar Hands Hand Care. She’s also a preferred artist with C.F. Martin & Co. Acoutic Guitars and Strings. 

GR is a veteran in the music industry, starting professionally at 13 years old in 1998. She is an accomplished guitarist, a simply genius songwriter, and has vocals packed with power, grit and originality. Her live show is that of legends, captivating the audience with her high-energy performance and her passionate presence. GR has great love and admiration for her fans, saying “They are the reason I make music. If I can evoke emotion and excitement in one person in the crowd, I’ve done my job. It brings me great satisfaction to touch people with my songs and my performance.”

GR is currently in Hollywood, CA, where she held a five-month residency with the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Boulevard for an event they created for her music called Southern Rock Brunch. She is a highly respected performer at The NAMM Show and the Dallas International Guitar Festival. She received Honorable Mention for her quirky, tongue-in-cheek “Doublewide on the Backside” in the Billboard World Song Contest 2010. Her new album “Dead or Alive” was released in Spring 2012 and is making waves in the music industry. She is nominated for two Los Angeles Music Awards in 2012 including Best Country Artist and Country Single of the Year with her song “Vodka Girls.” She is also nominated for Best Rock Artist at the 2013 Artists in Music Awards. With the perfect blend of country and rock GR brings to the table, she will be a pioneer in modern Southern Rock, defining a new generation.

Check out GR on the Web

Blessed


Hi guys, sorry I haven’t taken the time to post anything in a few weeks, but I’ve really been hitting it pretty hard at work. I’ve worked the past couple Fridays and am going in today for a few hours, even though I’m part-time. I’m really hoping this job pans out and I’m able to be hired full-time, but I’ll take anything I can get at this point the way the economy is. Working for the city of Marietta is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I have the best co-workers in the world. We are almost like a second family, and it feels really good knowing I can count on one of my co-workers to lift my spirits when I’m having a bad day.

Just the other day I was getting off the elevator, and I saw a really good friend of mine, who works on a different floor, and we spent about 15 minutes talking. She asked me how I’m doing, and I told her I was doing okay. Truth be told, my stomach was hurting, and I didn’t really want to be there, but I knew I had a lot to get done. She said something that really touched my heart and made me just praise God I work for the city. She said something like, “You really impress me. You get out and get stuff done while a lot of people just sit on their ass and do nothing. I wish more people were like you, Jason.”

And that’s just one of the compliments I’ve received from my co-workers the past couple weeks. Last week, I was asked to go take pictures of a former NFL player who came to talk to kids and a talent show, both of which took place at the local recreation centers. I told my co-workers I would, and I don’t mind saying that I had the best time hanging out with the kids and my friends, even though I was scheduled to be off last Friday. The next day I got an e-mail from a co-worker in Marietta’s Parks and Recreation Department and she said, “Thank you so much (for coming to take pictures). You truly are a blessing to me.” Another co-worker e-mailed me a day or two later and called me her hero. When I read that one, I almost started crying, and had to email her back and tell her I am NO hero. I just do the best I can and take it one day at a time.

You have to understand something. When I started this job, all I wanted to do was make my family and co-workers proud of me. I never expected to win any awards or be recognized for my accomplishments. I truly love helping people and prefer to be behind the scenes, out of the spotlight. I love seeing other people being recognized for things they’ve done to help the city save money or finding a way to do things more efficiently. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my friends succeed, and whenever they say something nice about me, I almost feel unworthy. I don’t do much. I’m just an average Joe doing the best I can with the talents God gave me, and all the glory and honor goes to Him.

Well, I better go get dressed and head to work. Today’s going to be a great day, I can feel it.

Author’s Roundtable: Junying Kirk


How long have you been writing?

I was born with a pen in my hand. 🙂 Seriously, I started writing very early on, as a child. My earliest memory of writing was writing letters to my parents on behalf of my illiterate grandma, who raised me, as my parents lived in a different county and were too busy with their revolutionary activities, under the great leadership of Chairman Mao. 🙂

So to answer your question, I have been writing for a few decades. 🙂 I cannot be more precise than that as that would reveal my age, fatal for a lady. 🙂

My first attempt at writing fiction was when I was at university. I wrote a story about my crush on a boy. Then I destroyed it because I did not want to get myself into trouble with the authorities.

Writing in English came later, after I arrived in the UK in 1988. So in the past 25 years or so, my main writing medium has been English.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Yes, most definitely. I enjoyed my composition class when I was at school, and Chinese language was my favorite subject, until English came along, of course. 🙂

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I have kept diaries since I was at university back in China. I wrote research papers while I was doing my doctoral research in Cultural Studies and Education. I also published a few short stories in Chinese magazines in the early 1990s, when my Chinese was still pretty decent, and not as rusty as it is now.

The first two novels of my “Journey to the West” trilogy were published on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords in 2011, and the third and final book is now being edited, and will be ready for publication in September 2012. I’m very excited about that.  

Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

In book one “The Same Moon,” we are introduced to the protagonist, Pearl Zhang, a feisty girl who was born in southwestern China and grew up during the Cultural Revolution. Through her eyes, we get to see and experience what life was like under chinese skies from the 1960s to early 1980s.

Then Pearl seized an opportunity to study in the United Kingdom – and stayed. We follow her footsteps in Europe in pursuit of professional achievement and personal happiness. She is in a new world, both foreign and exciting – under the same moon.

Trials of Life” begins with a love story – Pearl meets Andrew Church, and they fall in love. Pearl gets a job at a UK university, but her senior colleague, Dick Appleton, does not welcome her. When Dick discovers that Pearl has a secret mission, he decides to use it to his full advantage.

“This wonderful book dissects and lays bare the entire course of a harassment claim, from the events leading to the claim through the hearing and its aftermath. A beautifully crafted work, the book tells the story from a series of changing viewpoints of the many people involved.” – Review from a Goodreads reader.

Finally here is a short blurb from the soon-to-be-published book three “Land of Hope”:

Jack Gordon, former Special Forces soldier (SAS in the British Army), now an inspector in the SCS (Serious Crime Squad), and Pearl Zhang, a professional Chinese interpreter, join forces to fight the snakeheads of the corrupt underworld of human trafficking, including prostitutes, drug farmers, cockle pickers and smugglers.

You will meet fascinating characters, raw, colorful and multi-dimensional, and you will be taken on a roller-coaster ride across continents, diving into a world which has been hidden and little known to the world, until now.

Every year, millions of illegal immigrants cross borders, suffering unimaginable hardships, searching for their dream of wealth and a life of ease in the Land of Hope. This is their story.

How did you get inspiration for the characters?

Good question! I find inspiration from everyday life, from people I meet and interact with. I’ve been exceedingly lucky and have met many fascinating individuals. Having worked as a teacher in both China and the UK, as well as a couple of other interesting jobs, especially as a professional interpreter for the British justice system, I come across people from different walks of life. They provide me with an amazingly varied and unlimited source of wonderful characters.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

Yes, a lot of events in my books really happened, either to me personally, or to people I knew, some I loved, some I loathed. My first book has a strong autobiographical feel to it, so much so that many of my readers believe that Pearl Zhang is a carbon copy of Junying Kirk. 🙂

But I can assure you and others that Pearl Zhang is my artistic creation, something extremely close to my heart; yet she is much more than me, and she will live on, long after I’ve turned to ashes, I hope. 🙂

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

I have not received any specific advice where writing is concerned, although I have had my fair share of inspirational mentors in my long writing career. I do have something to pass on to people who aspire to be writers: Go for it, if writing is your thing. It’s the passion for the written word that really matters. Not everyone who has a flair for languages can sit down and complete a novel. Being a writer is not a given, it’s a natural talent combined with a strong motivation to tell stories and share them with the rest of the world. It’s 90 percent hard work and determination, and 10 percent genius and luck. 🙂 Or perhaps the other way around for some. 🙂

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

It is hugely beneficial. I rushed off the first editions of my first two books without them being fully edited, except by someone very special, who was actually a professional editor at one time. Still, there were mistakes, which were not acceptable. I was a lot happier after someone from Good Reads offered to do a full copyediting, which I have since used, and my current editions have been properly edited.

My WIP will go to her in two weeks’ time. This time around I am using beta-readers, an editor and a proofreader, the whole package. I think it is important that we present our books as error-free as possible. I write books in English, which is my second language, so it is even more essential to hire a professional editor where we can. I do understand that many indie authors may struggle with the budget etc., but in my view, it’s an author’s responsibility to publish their work to the highest standard they can.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Writing has been the easiest part for me, that’s for sure, but publishing is altogether a different animal. I won’t go into how difficult it is to go through the traditional publishing route here, but I’d like to share something about self-publishing. Personally, I needed help with my formatting and book cover designs before my books were ready to be published, even just electronically. I admire authors who have the capabilities to design their book covers, format the manuscript to whatever requirements necessary and promote their work tirelessly. I’ve found the technical side of publishing demanding, as well as the post-publication marketing and promotions.

I’m extrmely lucky that I seem to be blessed with a lot of writing time, not entirely by choice, but because of the nature of my current profession. For the past decade, I have been self-employed, working as a professional interpreter and translator. This type of work is very unpredictable at the best of times, and right now with the recession and public funding cuts in the UK, it has shrunk so much that I am forced to stay at home and write! 🙂

How did you find time to write your books?

As I just said, I have a lot of free time, which I prefer to spend writing, while some people may choose to do other things they enjoy. Besides, even when I had lots of job offers, because I am self-employed, I had the freedom to pick and choose whether to accept work or turn them down. Writing has been a passion for me, so I make time. Give me a choice of washing dishes or writing a blog, I think it’s a no brainer, don’t you? Ask my husband if I qualify as a good housewife, he’ll tell you that he irons his own shirts. 🙂 Having said that, I do make sure that he gets fed when he comes home from work. Even a fiction writer needs nutritious food for her brain, as well as for her stomach. 🙂

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Where can I begin? I mean to count the benefits. There are too many! Why would an intelligent woman like me choose to write if there were no benefits? 🙂 Kidding aside, I am not sure why other authors write, but for me, it gives me satisfaction and happiness, and a mixture of feelings I can’t quite explain. I think writing allows me to express some of my inner most feelings, which may not be otherwise articulated. I’m a better writer than a speaker. 🙂

Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

Yes, I totally agree. I wrote my second book, “Trials of Life,” for exactly that  reason. I had a terrible experience with my last full-time job in a prominent UK university where I was subject to bullying and sexual harassment. I took a nasty man and my employer to an employment tribunal and then left. That episode was so harrowing and hurtful that writing about it helped me deal with it. As we all know, there is no perfect justice in this world, but somehow in a fictional world, we can achieve some kind of power balance, and we can at least attempt to explain why there was no justice or why it is hard to attain it in reality.

In a way, writing my other books serve more or less the same purpose. Some things that happen in our lives are beyond our control and sometimes beyond our comprehension at the time; however, if we look back, or when we examine what has happened with a analytical and objective view, we begin to detach ourselves emotionally and are able to reach some kind of closure, so to speak.

Has writing made you a better person?

Absolutely! I was never a bad person, but writing has brought out the best in me, of which I have not a grain of doubt.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I LOVE reading. Fiction is my first love and will remain my last love, I believe. 🙂 Unless I become blind, I’ll be reading when I draw my last breath on earth, I hope. 🙂 Perhaps I’ll put in my will that I am allowed to take my Kindle or iPad to my grave so I can carry on reading in the other world. 🙂

Of all the genres, on top of my list are contemporary literary fiction, classical literature and crime fiction, especially Scandinavian crime fiction. I am a huge fan of modern writers like Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Khaled Hossein.

I enjoy novels with a combination of good writing style, action-packed stories and fascinating characters. I do read a wide range of genres, but they must contain what I have just listed to make it a compelling read. If it’s something I can visualize and relate to, then it’s my kind of read.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Yes, extremely important. First and foremost, I’m a reader. When I go to Amazon to buy a book, I will browse through the reviews and see how good or bad the book is, before I decide to buy or not to buy. The same goes nowadays when we book a hotel – people check reviews from the Trip Adviser. 🙂

As an author, I have produced something for readers to enjoy. If they don’t like it or hate it, is there a reason for me to continue writing? Perhaps not. I’m not talking about a minority, or one or two bad reviews. If the reviews are predominately bad, I would question why the author bothers to write – well, write by all means, if that’s what drives you, but don’t publish it for public consumption, when the public does not like what you are offering.

I hope I don’t get shot by what I have just said. Anyway, I think it is not important how many reviews we have received, but those who have read and bothered to write reviews have my unreserved respect. I have read books for which I can’t be bothered to write reviews. If I do, it means I like them enough, and I want to share what I think with other readers. So here is my big thank you to those who not only spent time reading my books but came back and posted what they think of them. For this reason, I’m eternally grateful – YOU are the reason I shall continue writing, and I pledge to write better and to the best of my ability anyway. 🙂

Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

Thank God I have not received a single bad review! I have received critical comments, all of which are helpful to me as a writer. I know my books are not everyone’s cup of tea, which is fine. I know people who chose to read my books knew more or less what to expect from the book blurbs; however, I hope that once they get into them, they would be pleasantly surprised with what’s in there, and they would have learned something they did not know before.

I was trained to be a teacher and have a teacher’s genes, so with all my books, I have in mind what I want to achieve with my books. They are to inform and to inspire, to entertain and to enchant, perhaps not all at once. If, by the end of it, my readers tell me that they have benefitted from reading my books in one way or another, then I consider that as my best reward of being a writer!

About Junying Kirk

Junying Kirk grew up in the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution. A British Council scholarship led her to study English Language Teaching at a top English university in 1988, followed by further postgraduate degrees at Glasgow and Leeds. She has worked as an academic, administrator, researcher, teacher, cultural consultant and professional interpreter. She loves reading and writing books. The first two novels of her “Journey to the West” trilogy, “The Same Moon” and “Trials of Life” were published on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords in 2011. The third and final of the trilogy “Land of Hope,” will be released in September 2012.

Based on her experience in an earthquake in Sichuan in 2008, she has contributed a piece to a collection of short stories to raise money for the Japanese earthquake in March 2011 “With Love.” She writes and maintains a blog, where she regularly shares interesting short stories, fantastic travel logs, tantalizing food recipes around the world, original music videos and fabulous pictures, insightful interviews with inspirations individuals, anecdotes about different cultures, and many aspects of modern life. She publishes regular guest posts from fellow writers and bloggers, as well as contributes to writers anthologies and a number of international websites.

Before becoming a self-published fiction author, she was published in both Chinese and English. She lives in Birmingham, UK with her husband.

Many thanks, Jason, for inviting me to your lovely site. I’ve very much enjoyed our chat. 🙂