Author’s Roundtable: Maggie Thom


How long have you been writing?

Pretty much my whole life. I know as a young child I used to like to write. When I was about nine I wrote my first “novel.” It was a one-inch by one-inch size book that was about forty pages long, with maybe ten words per page. You get the picture… not much of a story. And from there I wrote off and on over the years.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Yes. I absolutely love writing. I think I might have been born with a pen in my hand. 🙂
 
What books or stories have you written? Published?

I have two published novels – Captured Lies and Tainted Waters.
 
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

CapturedLies - FINALCaptured Lies

She was kidnapped not once but twice and now someone wants her dead because of it….

Her life was a lie!

Bailey knew her upbringing wasn’t normal but she’s worked hard to stabilize her life. At 29, she finally has a good business, a stable home; her life is miles from that of her childhood. Then suddenly her mother dies, leaving a gaping hole and a discovery that they may not even be related. If Guy, the private investigator is to be believed, her life is a lie. Using the skills she learned on the streets, Bailey travels back through a sketchy and dangerous past to find answers. Dodging bullets, staying ahead of those who want her dead and convincing Guy she can do it alone are making it difficult to discover not only the secrets of her mother’s past, but that of a family claiming she is their’s.

Everyone seems to have a story… but who’s telling the truth? And who wants her dead? Is Guy part of the solution? Or part of the problem? To discover the facts, she’ll have to untangle a web of deceit, lies and secrets, dating back more than thirty years.

But can she do it in time…

Tainted Waters

He didn’t commit suicide but who’s going to believe her…

TaintedWaters800x1200Frustrated at being fired from her latest job and overwhelmed by her consolatory family, Sam decides to move to the family’s cabin at the lake. A place she hasn’t been since her dad committed suicide there twenty years before. Or did he? Snooping is something she’s good at but someone seems to be taking offense to her looking too closely at what has been happening at the lake. What she discovers is shocking. Now she must uncover what’s real and what’s not. All that she learned growing up may be false. Keegan, who has recently moved to the area to finish his latest book, is also trying to find out if his grandfather, who’d passed away ten years before, died of natural causes or was murdered? The descendants of the four families, who own the land around the lagoon, are dying off. Since Sam and Keegan are the only ones questioning the deaths, they find themselves working together to seek the truth. Are people being murdered? Who would benefit from their deaths? Why would there be barricades and armed guards at the north end of the lake? To stay alive, Sam and Keegan must find the answers and convince others, before more people are killed… including them.

“This is a book that will have you on the edge of your seat. Just when you think the story is over, think again.” Read Your Writes Book Reviews

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

The ideas for the books were things that just happened when several things came together at the right time. I love writing about family secrets and lies and what are the extremes of that. I like pushing the boundaries, and I love putting in twists and surprises.

Captured Lies – A plane flew low over us, and I wondered what if it crashed. I flew three times in three months (very different for me as I fly about once a year), and I watched a show about kids being kidnapped by their families. And I just started to play “what if.”

Tainted Waters – I have always been fascinated by people who have a cabin at the lake. And we had gone camping at a secluded, slough-like lake where we discovered big trucks drove by all night long, heading to a plant only a few miles away. And I just started to play “what if.”

Are the books based on personal experiences?

No. They for sure aren’t. However there are some real situations that led to the creating of them.

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

Write. Write. Write. And write some more. And at some point take the leap. Ask others what they think of the story. Plot is the most important – grammar, punctuation can all be fixed but you need to have a compelling storyline from start to finish.

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

Editing is so important. You really need to make sure that not only do you go through your manuscript several times but that you get others to go through it as well. No matter what you are writing you need someone else looking it over who can catch all the spelling, the grammar, the punctuation.

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

Myself. I loved writing. I loved creating stories but I was always too worried about what others would think about what I wrote. Finally I realized that was what was holding me back. It wasn’t that my writing wasn’t good enough, it was that I was worried about being judged. So I took the leap. I’m learning as I go.

How do you find time to write your books?

I have always written whenever I could find five minutes. Now I try to write during the day when my family isn’t home. But I try to balance that with marketing my books. Sadly sometimes writing loses out.
 
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?

It is definitely therapeutic. Often, it helps me work through issues, sometimes I’m aware of those issues and sometimes I’m not until I’ve written something about it. As for it being relaxing… sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. I think the act of writing is relaxing but when I get into my stories, and I have the characters going through a lot of stuff, I too tend to go through it. I laugh when they laugh, I cry when they cry, I jump when something scary happens. I love writing because it takes me on an adventure that I’m never really sure where that is going. I love it. It’s almost as exciting as reading a good novel.

Has writing made you a better person?

Interesting question. Not sure but I’m not sure who I’d be without it. And it for sure helps me work through issues and see things differently. I know it has awakened me to a whole new world. I am finding the confidence of being an author.

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

I love to read. I always have one, two or three books on the go. I just don’t always have the time to read them when I’d like to. I read all genres but I prefer suspense, thriller, fantasy, mysteries… I love the puzzle, the “who done it.” I like twists and turns in a story. I like surprises, never really knowing where this journey is going to take me.
 
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are how we get found, get noticed in this sea of writers and authors. Reviews are really a word of mouth that shouts out to the world about our work, our books, our stories. I’ll admit that before I became a published author I never did a review on the Internet. I didn’t think anyone would care what I thought. And I had no idea what to say. Now I realize how important they are. I just state what I feel about the book. I never write disparaging or “put-down” reviews. If I don’t like something I just state it wasn’t for me but I always try to put some positive. The author worked hard on that story and should be recognized for that. I make a point of writing reviews and helping out other authors any way I can. There are many people who do reviews and I am forever grateful for those who do take the time to do so. Not only do reviews make a difference in being found but it really helps an author understand how their work is being received. I always use reviews as a learning tool. 

Would you mind sharing an excerpt from your book?

Since Tainted Waters is on a Book Review Tour this week (June 27 to June 21), I’ll share an excerpt from it.

“Hello, George.”

“Hello, Harry. Did anyone see you come in?”

“No, I was careful but even if they did I could say I was doing a story on this funeral or something.”

George stared at the man he’d personally groomed. This alliance served him well. Or it had. He smiled. “Can I offer you something to drink?” He moved over to what looked like an elaborate and intricately designed and carved feature wall. With a quick press on an obscure point, a panel swung down, exposing a myriad of liquor and mixes.

“Scotch, if you have it please.” Harry walked over the plush, leather sofa and eased himself down, only to find himself plopping backwards. “Couch is damn low, George.”

“Sorry. You’re right. I really should replace it. I just don’t seem to have time to do anything about it.”

Harry waved it off like he was swatting a fly. Keeping his back to him, he poured the drink, while allowing a momentary reaction of clenching his teeth as his whole body stiffened. His eyes darkened. Turning, he put on an amicable smile as he walked across the plush black carpet, which muted the sound of his steps.

After handing the drink to him, he stepped back and leaned against his oak desk. “What can I do for you? It’s kind of a busy day for me.”

He took several gulps before answering. “Yeah. Well… I seem to have a bit of a problem.”

“Oh?”

Harry looked around suspiciously before moving forward, which was really just leaning his head forward, his bulk didn’t bend. He spoke in a hushed tone. “I know I’m not supposed to talk to you about this but…”

“What is it? You sound really stressed, what’s going on?”

He finished off his glass of scotch. “It would seem that Mr. Ozz isn’t happy with me.”

George’s eyes widened. “Oh. What did you do?”

“I didn’t do a damn thing. That little bitch you had me hire is who did something. She has caused me nothing but grief.”

“You mean, Sam? I’m so sorry, Harry. I was just doing a favor for an old friend. I didn’t think it would be that big a deal.”

“Well, it damn well is. I fired her ass a few days ago but it would seem that wasn’t enough for him. I need you to talk to him.”

“Oh no. I can’t. I really don’t want to get involved.”

He waved his empty glass indicating he wanted another one. George immediately complied. “Well you damn well are involved. It’s your fault she turned out to be such a busy-body and stuck her nose where it doesn’t belong. You need to get me back into his good books.”

“I don’t know why you think I could do that.”

“When he hired me and set me up as CEO to the newspaper, he got you to show me the ropes – how to look like I was born for that role, how to act sophisticated, how to handle myself with dignity and confidence. You made sure that everything worked out. I know you have connections and are well liked in this town. You are a respected businessman. You make things happen.” He held out his glass for a refill. “I need you to fix this problem. He makes things…” Harry leaned forward or as much as his bulk would let him and whispered, “go away. And I don’t want to be one of those things.”

Anything else you’d like to share that I didn’t ask?

Thank you to everyone who reads my books and keeps coming back for more. You are why I keep writing. 🙂 My third novel, Deceitful Truths, the companion novel to Captured Lies, will be out late 2013. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and/or Goodreads.

Maggie 3 - 337 x 431About Maggie Thom

Maggie Thom took the challenge and leapt off, leaving a full-time twenty-year career in management, to write full-time. After her initial panic that she might need a straight jacket, she published her first book Captured Lies in October 2012. And now is excited to release her second novel, Tainted Waters in April 2013. Her third book, Deceitful Truths (sequel to Captured Lies) will be available this fall. An avid reader and writer her whole life, she decided to break the monotony of wishing to be an author by making it happen. Married to her best friend, she is learning that humor, love and patience help her navigate her way through her twins’ teen years. Her motto: Escape to read and read to escape. Maggie Thom writes a fast paced thriller laced with romance that keeps the reader interested and on edge!” InDtale Magazine

Check out Maggie’s website, become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, check out her Goodreads author page, check her out on Google Plus and find out what piques her interest on Pinterest

Buy Tainted Waters on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony, Barnes and Noble, and Diesel

Buy Captured Lies on amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.uk, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony e-reader store and Diesel.

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Souls Are Perfect


Souls Are Perfect

By Michelle Martin Dobbins 

In the Hamrick family, we’ve been blessed in many ways. We are a quite unique collection of people, and we have always been closer than most extended families. We have disagreements, and we have hurt each other unintentionally, but we always forgive. We hold family as important, and we get together often, even though we are scattered around the country and sometimes the planet. Homer and Roena Hamrick, my grandparents, knitted us tightly together.

My cousin, Brian, drew us in, too. Brian had cerebral palsy, and he spent his life in a wheelchair. He was a bright and shining light in our family, and we all loved him beyond measure. He loved music and was almost always smiling. When I was little, though, I was afraid of him. I was afraid of his chair and the sounds that he made, and I couldn’t understand him. I thought he was different from me.

BrianOne rainy afternoon with Brian changed how I saw him and the world forever. We were watching a parade, but as often happened in our town, the weather did not cooperate with the local festival. My aunt parked a camper along the parade route and the children watched the parade perched in the loft of the camper, peering out of the window. At one point in time, it was just me and Brian. He looked at me and clearly said, “Why are you afraid of me? I’m just like you, except that my body is different. It just doesn’t work the same way as yours.” Normally, I had difficulty understanding Brian’s words, but that day they rang our perfectly clear to me. He spoke to me from his heart. Although I was sometimes still shy around him, I learned something from him that day I will never forget.

I learned that all souls are perfect. Bodies can be disabled, minds can be damaged, and spirits can be crushed, but souls are created by God perfect and remain ever perfect. This knowledge welled up in me and overflowed as a desire to work with special-needs children. I went to college and spend eight years teaching special-needs children, until I left to have my own children. I loved my job, and I adored those kids. They lit me up. I saw my students differently than most people did. I connected with them on a soul level, and I could feel who they were. I didn’t see their disabilities. We can all do that with anyone if we try. I don’t know why we all come in to this life with different challenges, but I have experienced that many people who have physical or mental disabilities have stronger spirits. We all have challenges to bear, and people without apparent disabilities are no exception. We all have gifts to share, and people with disabilities are no exception. We are all more alike than different, so reach out and connect with everyone you can.

Brian died, unexpectedly, a few weeks after his fortieth birthday. Our family was sad to lose the person he was, but his perfect soul still exists and this gives us comfort. I am thankful for the love he shared with our family and how his spirit made us all closer to each other.

Michelle 2012About Michelle Dobbins

Michelle Dobbins is a pre-published author, who shares tips for positive living and true stories of magic, creation and love in everyday life on her blog. You can connect with her and get her Magic Question of the Day on Facebook and Twitter.
 
Michelle, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting my readers know that, yes, souls are perfectly and wholly made by God, and that we are indeed perfect in His eyes. We do all have something special to give, and I want to sincerely thank you for opening my eyes and showing me that everyone has their own struggles and difficulties. Sometimes I’m guilty of “assuming” that nothing is wrong with someone else, because I cannot physically see a disability. Thank you for your amazing gift that you’ve given me, the ability to see through to the soul of someone who’s truly a role model for others and has inspired not only me, but the countless students you’ve taught. God bless you.

Author’s Roundtable: Margie Miklas


How long have you been writing?

I only began writing three years ago so I still consider myself a newbie.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Not really although I used to write limericks as a child, wrote letters to the editor occasionally, and wrote a humorous newsletter for my department in the hospital for several years.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I have written one book, and have published numerous articles for various websites and an Italian-American newspaper.

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

My book is a true story, a memoir of the three months I spent in Italy traveling solo.

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

Since this book is nonfiction, all the characters in it are real.

Margie Profile 1Are the books based on personal experiences?

Yes, my book is a memoir based on three months I spent traveling through Italy.

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

Other authors and writers have consistently told me to keep writing, and to write every day. I think this is good advice. I also had been told to discipline myself so that I set goals of word counts, either per day or per week, in order to accomplish my goal of finishing my book.

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

Yes, I published my book initially without the benefit of a professional editor, and found numerous typos and errors, which I edited myself and resubmitted.

I currently am working with a professional editor, on this already-published book, and her direction is immensely helpful, not only to correct typos, but to improve sentence structure, avoid repetitious words, and so on. I am still working on this.

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

Since I self-published my book, both the e-book and the paperback, I found the formatting to be very challenging. There definitely is a learning curve to self-publishing.

How do you find time to write your books?

I have to make time, create a specific amount of time each week to turn off the Internet and focus on writing.

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?

Since I write about true experiences, I am almost re-living them as I write and edit the story, and this brings me a great sense of satisfaction, almost as if I am going to Italy again.

Book signing Event edit FB sizeHas writing made you a better person?

I think so, insofar as it has made me appreciate the amount of work that goes into writing.

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

I do enjoy reading, and wish I had more time to do so. Right now I have about ten books on my iPad partially read. My favorite genres are suspense, intrigue, courtroom dramas and biographies.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are important to writers because they provide feedback and give a writer a sense of what readers expect.

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

Yes, and I think all writers have received at least one negative review. Being human, I felt bad reading it at first, but then let it go. I realize that not all readers will like my writing, and also sometimes a review is written by someone who is not in a good mood, or is having a bad day.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt from your book?

Of course. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 4.

It is now early Friday evening, and I am back in my hotel room in Siena. All of a sudden there seems to be a lot of noise outside, as though someone is announcing something on a loudspeaker. Today is Good Friday in Italy, and there is a cathedral around the corner, so maybe there is some outside religious event going on.

My curiosity gets the best of me, and I grab my jacket and leave the hotel to see what is going on, not wanting to miss out on what could be a major event. To my naiveté and surprise, the cathedral appears to be closed, yet the streets are filled with people and there are quite a few police. I’m noticing that the people are not strolling, as in la passeggiata, but instead seem to have an agenda, and suddenly it becomes clear to me what is going on.

Book cover print version Amazon (200x295)I can see the lights and the soccer stadium, which is right behind my hotel, and after inquiring from the police, I become aware that there is a soccer game between Siena and Venezia. Never having been to a professional soccer game, I make a snap decision to go to the game so I find out where to buy a ticket. I am thinking that if it is a reasonable cost, I will go. Fortunately for me, the ticket costs only eight euros, which is incredible. I am quite surprised that I need to show my passport to purchase the ticket, and I don’t have it with me. It is in the hotel. After a few minutes, the ticket seller feels sorry for me and maybe I look like I am not a security threat, and she lets me buy the ticket anyway. The other person, however, has to walk me to the gate and explain to the guy there that it is OK for me to get in. Again it is a process here just to get in to a soccer game. I thank them, and I am really happy that I am now experiencing my first Italian soccer game!

Italians are passionate about life but they are really passionate about soccer! I have always heard about this, but now have a chance to see this firsthand. I love being part of the crowd, hearing the fans singing, yelling, probably swearing in Italian and stomping their feet on the aluminum stands, which is making a deafening sound. It is a great time! I’m smiling and nodding my head to the people sitting near me whether I understand everything or not. I feel a part of it!

Anything else you’d like to share that I didn’t ask?

Maybe readers would be interested in knowing if I am writing any other books.

I actually have a second book half finished. This book is about my travel experiences in Sicily, and not as a solo traveler.

I think you covered it all, Jason, and thank you again for this opportunity. You are very special, and a real asset to writers. I really appreciate all that you are doing in support of writers.

About Margie Miklas

Memoirs of a Solo Traveler-My Love Affair with Italy is Margie’s first book, and it is based on her three-month solo adventure in Italy.

Margie Miklas is a writer, photographer and critical-care nurse, who has a passion for travel, with a particular love of Italy.

Margie is a contributor for Yahoo Voices, a contributing writer for La Gazzetta Italiana newspaper, a travel writer for Beachcomber Pete Travel Adventures, and writes travel and medical articles for several other websites.

DSCF6502 (1024x681)Margie writes a blog, margieinitaly, where you can follow her adventures through her writing and photography throughout Italy.

Margie first started writing as a young teenager, when she would amuse herself and her friends by writing limericks. A few years later, she became a headline editor of her high school newspaper in Elyria, Ohio. Later still, she developed, wrote, and edited a humorous hospital newsletter in Tampa, Florida.

Margie lives in Port St Lucie, Florida, where she works in a cardiovascular intensive care unit, and is always seeking out opportunities to travel, especially to Italy. When she isn’t working or writing, she enjoys spending time with her twin granddaughters, going to the beach, and working in her garden. Check out Margie’s blog, follow her on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, and buy her books in paperback and on Amazon Kindle.

Reading: It’s As Easy As A, B, C . . .


I agonised over what to write for this guest post for Jason’s blog, and by agonised I mean that for at least ten days I sat looking at a blank Word document because I had absolutely no ideas what-so-ever. I picked the brains of some friends for ideas. Hell, I even got to the point of having tears well in my eyes from the frustration of not having a single, solitary, good idea to write about. I don’t know whether I’d classify this period as writer’s block, or if it was simply the fact that I had such a huge choice of topics that I could cover but had no interesting place to start from. Either way, I was ridiculously frustrated about the post.

KathrynFox3As I mentioned, I spent days looking at the screen without the hint of an idea. It seemed to me that the longer I sat staring at the Word document, the more it appeared that the damn page was mocking me, taunting me, laughing at the fact that I was out and out stuck for a post. I would flip between the blank page and my various social media platforms, desperately hoping that a topic would leap from one of the timelines or feeds and inspire me. It didn’t. Then the social media became a distraction: if I couldn’t write a post, then I’d futilely creep profiles, like updates and photos, pimp my own blog, anything that would take my mind off the inevitable . . . the unwritten blog post. Still no ideas.

I’m not sure how I finally came upon the topic, but when it arrived, it came guns a-blazing and thwacked me right between the eyes. Okay, so maybe not literally, but it did hit hard enough for me to have one of those a-ha moments. It’s something that I like doing, something that everybody really would benefit from being able to do, and something that seems to me to be a dying art: reading. Yes indeedy, I was going to write a post about reading, and ta-da, here it is.

In my day job, I deal with booger eaters (kids, for those of you who might not have heard the term before), and many of those booger eaters have difficulty reading. If I’m brutally honest, many of those booger eaters can’t read at all. That’s right, I wrote at all, and I’d imagine that if I extrapolated the data globally, it’s more of a widespread issue than most people would realise. Take a moment to fully digest that information. Many of today’s children can. Not. Read. Scary, isn’t it? The future leaders and decision makers of our society are unable to pick up a book, turn to a random page and read the words written on that page.

Why is this the case? I mean I live in a world (real life and online) where I deal with people who are authors, writers, poets, and educators . . . and who love reading and writing. So, why are the booger eaters of today bordering on the illiterate? Maybe “illiterate” is too harsh a term to have used, but in my school days if someone couldn’t read and struggled to write – which yes, do go very much hand in hand – then illiterate is the word used to explain their lack of ability. And maybe, yes, it’s wrong to categorise and label these booger eaters, but I think we tend to err on the side of political correctness too often, and we fail to address the issues head on for fear of offending someone. However, the thing is, an inability to read is one of the education problems that the younger generations are facing so, in this instance, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to call it as I see it: illiteracy is far more prevalent than anyone wants to admit.

I wanted to avoid a “point the finger and lay blame” kind of post because that won’t get us anywhere. I will, however, go as far as to say that everyone involved in the education of booger eaters is, in part, responsible for the fact that the ability to read is going down the toilet: teachers, parents, administrators, politicians, educational theorists, and yes, the booger eaters themselves. Everyone plays an equal role here . . . or rather, everyone fails to adequately play his or her role. No one is completely to blame for this decline because everyone has a role to play here.

Me in MelbourneTeachers have over-sized classes and therefore can’t spend enough time with each booger eaters. They have curriculums to teach, and the emphasis of those curriculums might not be heavy on the reading side of education. Parents are busy running households, raising children, working to pay the mortgage, working to earn money to live, trying to find time to spend with their brood . . . day to day, important things that matter in family life. Administrators are focused on successfully steering their schools in the right direction, working towards raising always needed funding, dealing with behavioural issues, new enrollments, battling against school districts and other upper-echelon administrators and bean counters, running the school. Politicians will tell you that they’re doing everything that they possibly can to make sure that your children have the best possible education. This is highly debated amongst educators and parents alike. Educational theorists are doing what they can to justify their existence . . . I mean, investigate the next best educational theory that is going to be the best thing since sliced bread and will ensure that your booger eater is at the top of his/her education game.

And the booger eaters? Most of them just aren’t interested in reading. They’d prefer to play whatever gaming console they have, or sit at the computer and play games or Skype or Facebook. Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, these are real excuses for not reading that booger eaters tell me on a daily basis. I’m not making this stuff up. But to get the full effect of how these booger eaters feel about reading, imagine them moaning one of the above excuses and then add in to that image the “oh my God, I can’t believe you’re going to make me read” eye roll.

Now, I’m not saying that every booger eaters feels this way about reading. As with anything, there are exceptions, and there are a number of them who greatly enjoy the activity. In fact, I know booger eaters who’d prefer to sit undercover and away from other booger eaters and read, instead of going out at lunch break and playing. Granted, these booger eaters are few and far between, and I might find one of two per educational institution that I visit, but they are out there if you know where to look . . . sort of like the mythical fairies at the bottom of the garden, or the last of the unicorns. If you believe hard enough, you may just see them here and there . . . if you squint your eyes and lean your head slightly to one side.

I mentioned to a colleague a few weeks ago how I noticed that many, many booger eaters couldn’t read, unlike our cohort when we were at school, and her response was: “Yeah, but the times have changed and they’re so much better with computers and the Internet than we were at their age.” Aside from the fact that the Internet practically hadn’t been invented when we were at school, her reply baffled me. Let me get this straight, as educators, we’re trading off reading ability with computer skills? Hang on a minute, you still need to be able to read in order to navigate the Internet, and you still need to be able to read in order to use those computer skills to your advantage . . . don’t you? At least I thought you did. Maybe I’ve been approaching this whole computer/Internet thing the wrong way? Maybe I was banging my head against a brick wall with my colleague?

The thing is, these booger eaters may very well be computer geniuses but, and it’s an important but, along with the fact that many can’t read, is the fact that many of them also don’t know and can’t recite the alphabet. Yep, you read that one correctly too. A large proportion of booger eaters that I deal with absolutely, categorically cannot recite the alphabet, and God forbid you give them the task of putting words in alphabetical order. And so I say again, these are our future leaders and decision makers. Our society rests in the hands of people who can’t, don’t, and have no interest in reading.

100_0905The educational theory pendulum swings in both directions, often in the extreme. We’ve gone through the “boys in education” fad, the “girls in education” counter-fad, this fad, that fad, all, it seems to me, ad infinitum. As educators, we spend a few years focusing on this particular problem to the detriment of other areas, then we’re told that there’s a new area of concern and education swings towards that problem again, to the detriment of all other areas. It’s in this process of educational to-ing and fro-ing that we’ve lost sight of making sure that future generations have basic skills such as those required in reading, writing and arithmetic. We need to get back to these basics and stop namby pamby teaching, stop falsely praising booger eaters for every tiny achievement, go back to correcting them when they are wrong because that’s part of learning lessons. If booger eaters are afraid to fail, just as with adults, they will cease to try things. If booger eaters are constantly praised for the smallest thing that is done well, as with adults, we cultivate a false sense of achievement, abilities, and effort in them, just as it occurs in adults.

I know that I will have offended a number of parties involved in education with this post, I do. But at some point, we must stop jerking around and solve the problem of why our booger eaters don’t like and can’t read, and we won’t do that by walking on eggshells. Let me conclude by saying two things:

  1. I am not an education expert. I am simply commenting on what I have experienced across a number of educational institutions.
  2. If booger eaters don’t experience significant people in their lives reading, and enjoying reading, then they can’t learn from their environment. If teachers don’t enjoy reading, if parents don’t enjoy reading, if their role models don’t demonstrate enjoyment associated with reading, then you can’t expect that the booger eaters themselves will harbour the desire to read, let alone enjoy reading.

Reading: it’s as easy as A, B, C . . . providing you actually know the alphabet.

Instagram MeAbout Danielle Monique

Danielle writes stories that may be considered to be a little twisted, and sometimes she does write opiniony, ranty pieces that she calls her armchair philosophy. Currently unpublished, she harbours a desire to become one of the lucky writers who manages to wrangle a publishing contract. Until then, Danielle’s stuck with working a day job in education and messing around with her social media profiles. On the positive side of the day job, she has been fortuntate enough to teach some really lovely young people who have excelled in their chosen fields.

Check out Danielle’s blog, follow her on Twitter, be her friend on Facebook and get connected on Google Plus.

Author’s Roundtable: Christa Simpson


How did your family and friends feel when they heard you were writing?

A few of my friends were really excited about it; especially after I let them read my first book in The Twisted Trilogy. My family was totally shocked. Even though they believed in me, they really couldn’t imagine me self-publishing my stories. But guess what? I did it!!

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I’ve written three books, which comprise The Twisted Trilogy. To date I have published the first book, Twisted. The second book, Twist and Turn, is tentatively set to release on July 1, with the final book, A Twist of Fate, to follow later this year.

I have some other stories in the works, but they are all in the very early stages, and I’m not even sure which one I will pick up and go with next. There are two very different stories fighting for my attention; that is after I get The Twisted Trilogy out there as a whole.

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

Absolutely, Jason. The Twisted Trilogy is a sexy, sassy New Adult romance premised on a love triangle.

In Twisted, you follow the life of Abigail Jenkins, a sassy chick who works at a lawyer’s office and lives with her handsome ex-boyfriend Edwin Santora. Abby’s dating life is a mess and Edwin continuously reminds her that she needn’t look any further because he’s just what she’s looking for. Before long, Edwin lands a job at her firm as a junior lawyer, and she finds herself catching feelings for him again. The short of it is: A man and woman cannot be “just friends.”  And friendship isn’t what Abby is looking for. She wants babies.  Yes, babies. And yes she’s only 24 years old.

In Twist and Turn, after Abigail is forced to face a heart-wrenching truth about her relationship with Edwin, she sets out to find herself a suitable replacement. Right when she thinks she’s going to end up a lonely old bag, Cameron Clarke lands right on her doorstep. This hunky new lawyer is the man of her dreams and the man of Edwin’s nightmares. Edwin vies for her attention, but he’s unable to compete with this man; who also happens to have a rough past and a beautiful little girl to show for it. There’s a paranormal twist that starts to come to light and you learn that maybe Abby isn’t quite as crazy as you thought she was.

In A Twist of Fate, Edwin and Cameron will go head to head to fight for what’s their’s. But, in the end, there can only be only one. Who will Abigail choose: the love of her life or the man of her dreams? Either way, Abigail will get her happy ever after.

Twisted_500x750How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

Reading inspired me to write my own stories. When I finish a story and feel like the secondary characters are deserving of their own story, I picture moulding those characters into my own to give them their happy ever after.

I like to play it by ear and go with the flow. When an idea strikes me, I get on the computer and just let it flow. Walking down the street inspires me. Listening in on people’s conversations inspires me. My husband inspires me. Life is truly the most inspiring of all.

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

I was impatient. I self-published before spending too much time dwelling on traditional publishing. I had read one too many articles about how new authors are not well received; especially when they didn’t have agent representation. I decided, “Why not do this myself?” I really had nothing to lose, but a couple of bucks for a cover and my beauty sleep, or so I thought.

Since then, time management has become a major sore spot for me. I’m working on it, and I’ll get there eventually (after The Twisted Trilogy is complete LOL). It’s tough being a mother of two active children, working a full-time job and keeping a functioning relationship with the hubs, all while trying to successfully edit, publish, promote and monitor my novels.

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

It absolutely has benefits. I have to write. My sanity depends on it. Even if I never published, I would write. My brain won’t stop pumping out these ideas, and I can’t have them cluttering my mind. So I write, and I get to keep a clear head. Alternately, my kids think being a published author is cool, and I like to make them happy.

Was there ever a point in your life where you felt like giving up because nobody understood you? How did you overcome this time in your life?

I tend to tuck those not-so-nice times away in a little place that I don’t like to visit. I don’t know how I do it, but once I put them in that vault, it’s almost like they never happened; except that I never forget the lessons learned to prevent me from making those same mistakes again. I relied on writing poetry as a teenager, and fortunately I burned every last page of them a long time ago. Yeah, I was weird like that.

I’m lucky to have a solid loving family. My husband is always there for me, even if I bore him to death with my book talk. My mother and sisters are always just a call or text away if I need them, and my little girls are always attached at the hip, so I’m literally never alone.  It’s hard to give up when you have so much support.

What are your goals as a writer?

Honestly, my goal was to be published. I’m published. Next, my goal is to publish book number two. I’m taking things one step at a time. Overall, I hope to become a better writer and engage a larger audience.

Any new challenges you’ve had to face?

The latest challenge I’ve had to face is dealing with scathing reviews. I knew that publishing sassy stories with sarcastic characters was going to rub some people the wrong way. I also knew that others would absolutely love it. Constructive criticism I can deal with, but I’ve learned that some people can be just plain old mean.

Thanks so much for having me, Jason. Isn’t this guy great??!!

Final note: If you read indie and like it, please do the author a huge favour by rating their book and writing an honest, thoughtful review on Amazon and Goodreads.

And like my mother always says: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” 🙂

christa3About Christa Simpson

Christa Simpson is a Canadian indie author and mother of two. She loves reading, writing, music, movies and dancing. She likes her men muscled, her music loud and her kids happy. She lives in a small town in southwestern Ontario with her two little girls and her husband of nine years.

She’s just published her debut new adult romance novel, Twisted. Books two and three of The Twisted Trilogy, Twist and Turn and A Twist of Fate, are coming soon.

Do you want to connect with Christa Simpson? You can find her on her blog, become a fan on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Author’s Roundtable: Shannon ‘Guernsey’ Coulter a.k.a. S. Moo


How did your family and friends feel when they heard you were writing?

HAPPY! Since I was a little kid, my nickname has been “Motor Mouth.” They were happy I’d be quiet for a bit and put some of the thoughts in my head down on paper instead of constantly into their ears. 😉
 
How long have you been writing? 

I have always loved to write and studied as a Communications major at Vanderbilt University where I learned all different ways to use words (from public speaking to poetry to lyricism.) 

When I left school, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to “be” so I became a Communications Consultant, which brought even more forms of writing into my life. My favorite form was creating wellness campaigns that helped adults “look inside” and find aha moments to change their life. When I met my stepkids in 2007, I decided to leave Corporate America to use my skills with campaigns to bring wellness to children through stories and activities. I love it.
  
S Moo FamilyIs there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

JUST DO IT!

Do not hold back because of fear of rejection. Know that rejection will come, but so will acceptance! There is no way on this planet to make everyone happy, but because there are so many people out there, others will love your writing just as much as you do!

And please, do not judge yourself by the commercial success of your writing. If you are brave enough to put your art in the hands of others, you ARE a success!

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

I self-published because my books were meant as a gateway to my company. The books offer positive lessons for kids, and the company has fun activities to reinforce these lessons.

Whether self-publishing or looking for a publisher, know things can go very slowly. Don’t get down on yourself or your work. Persistence and patience – and faith – are key.
  
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Absolutely. We all have so many thoughts in our heads. Writing is a wonderful way to learn more about who you are and the way your mind works. Whether writing in a personal journal or with the purpose of sharing your work with others, getting your thoughts out on paper is hugely therapeutic.

Has writing made you a better person?
100 percent. When I was a Communications Consultant, I wrote to help others better their health and finances. As a children’s book author, I write to teach kids to respect themselves, others and their planet (and hopefully make them laugh!). I truly hope I am helping others with my work. 

PF_Facebook01_R00As a person, writing has helped me get through many tough times. I often find when I’m down, if I put my feelings on paper and read them back to myself, I am able to more clearly understand what I’m feeling and more quickly “get over it.” As I read what I’ve written, it puts things into better perspective, and often times, when I delete what I’ve written, the negative emotions go into the trash with the written words!

Was there ever a point in your life where you felt like giving up because nobody understood you? How did you overcome this time in your life?

Many, many times. I aim to take accountability for misunderstandings I encounter and learn more about the others so I can present my thoughts in a different manner. If I do this in an empathetic and kind way and there is still a misunderstanding, I can move forward, knowing I put in my best effort with a kind heart. Life is full of different types of people, and as frustrating as it is, we simply can’t please everyone. As long as we are the best person we can be, we can look back at our experiences – even those that don’t turn out that great – with respect for ourselves.  

What are your goals as a writer?

To help others find and focus more on happiness. Life is hard. There is NO question. So if in my children’s books, my company and my blogs, I can help people smile and recognize the good things they do have despite life’s obstacles, then I have succeeded.

Any new challenges you’ve had to face?

Creating my own company and writing books have been huge growth experiences for me. When I was younger, I tied how I felt about myself as a person to how “perfect” I did at tasks (be it being the best on my soccer team to getting the best performance review from a superior). If things were any less than perfect, I was devastated with whom I was as a person and treated myself as a failure. It was a black and white existence. The growth of my company and the sales of my books have been slow. If I tied how I felt about myself to these facts, I would be shattered. I have learned to look at the things I have done – having the guts to start a company and write books – as successes and be proud of myself for persevering.

S Moo Author PageFocusing on small successes and letting go of “perfectionism” has changed my life for the better in all aspects – from being a business owner to a parent to a spouse to a friend.

Check out Shannon’s author bio on Amazon, her children’s book series on Amazon, her blog with simple play ideas and fun for families, and her author website to help people laugh at themselves and give themselves a break.

Author’s Roundtable: Peggy Holloway


How did your family and friends feel when they heard you were writing?

They weren’t surprised. They are all used to me going off in an extreme opposite direction from what I was doing. They’re saying things like, “Look what she’s doing now.” I don’t think they are taking me seriously yet.

How long have you been writing?

Less than four years. I had ideas in my head for years before I started writing. I waited until I retired to begin writing so that I could devote as much time as I want to it.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I always wanted to write a novel. I didn’t know it was going to get so out of control. I have never done anything halfway, so I don’t know why I’m so surprised.

What books or stories have you written? Published? 

I now have thirteen books published. Most of my books are mystery/suspense/psychological thrillers. I also have two science fiction/fantasies, a self-help book and just recently published my memoirs.

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

There are five in the Judith McCain series. She is a runaway fifteen year old in the first book, in search of her identity. She uncovers a lot of horrors about her childhood but also finds her twin sister that she didn’t know she had. Through all of her hardships, she grows into a very human adult who still has some issues but she becomes a psychologist. She helps the FBI solve many cases. The two science-fiction/fantasy books are a time travel love story. The first one, 3037, takes place in the year 3037. A woman from the 1950s has to come from the past to try to save mankind. The sequel is called Time and Time Again.

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

I can’t explain it. I had the first book, Blood on White Wicker, in my head for about thirty years. Once I started writing it the characters took over and I felt so out of control, it scared me at first. After that, every time I had a general idea for a book, I just started typing, and the characters took over. I guess the ideas come from my subconscious since a lot of them come from my dreams. I have to keep a notebook on my nightstand so I can write them down in the middle of the night.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

I don’t know if the books themselves are based on personal experience, but sometimes I’ll put in something from my own life. Like once, when I needed a career for someone, I had the person be a geophysicist because I used to be a geophysicist. Judith McCain is not a morning person because I’ve never been a morning person.

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

Yes, read, read, read. I personally don’t see how anyone can hope to write if they don’t read. Before I started writing myself, I read one or two books a day. I now read three or four books a week. It was through reading that I started to think that I could write a book myself, but it was only after I had read several thousand books.

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

I had a bad experience with my first editor and didn’t think I wanted an editor. I edited my own books about twenty times each and friends and family read them. I have recently gotten an editor because I keep getting feedback in my reviews about needing an editor, even in some of my five-star reviews. Editors are expensive, and I can see why many indie authors don’t use them. But I think it will get you farther ahead if you use them.

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

That’s easy, and it’s what had hindered me in everything I’ve ever done, my impatience. When I finish writing a book I want to get it published now.

How did you find time to write your books?

I have all the time I need because I am retired.

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

Writing is very therapeutic for me. My characters have taught me a lot about myself.

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? 

I agree that it’s therapeutic but relaxing? Nope. It takes a lot out of me. I feel like I’ve actually been cut open and have bled onto the page. All of my emotions get stirred up.  One of my main characters got murdered in one of my books, and I cried for a week.

Has writing made you a better person?

I sure hope so. I hope it has taught me more patience.

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

I read everything I can get my hands on, but my favorites are mysteries, medical/legal/psychological thrillers, science-fiction/fantasy and espionage. I don’t like vampires, werewolves, zombies and young adult-type novels with high-school crushes, etc.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Most writers will do anything short of selling their soul for a review. They are so hard to come by. So many people will tell me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or out by the pool where I live that they love my books and will promise to write reviews but most don’t. I give away thousands of books in hopes of getting some reviews in exchange but get very few that way. I now try not to dwell on reviews or sales but just concentrate on writing.

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

I don’t mind a bad review if it’s honest and I can learn from it. Unfortunately, there are some folks out there who will give a bad review when it’s obvious they haven’t even read the book. I was a victim of the trolls for a while on Goodreads and it really hurt. I write reviews myself, and I try to give good, honest reviews. I wrote more than 100 last year, all indies. I usually don’t write a review if I didn’t like the book. The only exception is when someone tries to pass off a short story for a novel. I don’t like short stories.

Was there ever a point in your life where you felt like giving up because nobody understood you? How did you overcome this time in your life?

This is something that, if I let it, it could make me quit writing. I try to ignore comments like, “I’m glad you found this little hobby to do after retiring.”

What are your goals as a writer?

To become a best-selling author, of course.

Any new challenges you’ve had to face?

I guess one of the biggest is to learn to not compare myself to other indies. It’s difficult, when I see someone whose books I’ve read, and I feel like mine are better, and they get rewards I have entered. I try to not compare. There are enough readers out there for all of us.

small pic pegAbout Peggy Holloway

I had three careers before turning to writing. I taught Mathematics in high school and community college, worked as a geophysicist in a major oil company exploring for oil and gas and worked as a counselor/psychotherapist with adults, groups, families, couples and teens. I have a BS in geology, an MCS in mathematics and an MA in psychology. I taught Algebra II to William Faulkner’s granddaughter.

My past writing experiences were writing plays for the neighborhood kid to put on when I was around 12-14 years old, writing technical reports as a geophysicist, writing research papers while working on my master’s in psychology, and writing letters to judges, with recommendations, while counseling juvenile justice adolescents.

Besides writing mysteries, I like to read (anything I can get my hands on), paint landscapes in oil and in enamel on glass. I enjoy swimming and walking on the beach. I have had many struggles in life, and I like to incorporate my experiences into my writing. A fantasy I have is to wear a Versache evening gown and dance the tango with Al Pacino.

I am a night person and can’t stand morning people who wake me up early. I like relating to one or two people rather than being in a crowd. Most of my friends are for life. Check out my blog and check out my books on Amazon.