Interview with Casey Bell, Author of ESSAYS FROM DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES: LITERARY BETRAYAL

What is your book about?

This book is sorta of two books in one. The first book “Essays From Dysfunctional Families” is written by a fictional author: Dean K. Brent. The book, (Essays) is a fictional book with ten essays from ten different people sharing their dysfunctional family. The fictional write used real life stories from his family and friends. The second half of the book, (Literary Betrayal) tells the story of how the author Dean K Brent became a best-selling author due to his book, however his family and friends are not so happy for him, knowing that he exposed their dirty laundry for the world to see.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

That is a difficult question to answer. I originally wanted to write a fictional, exaggerated book about the secrets of my family and friends, but felt it might be considered a betrayal so I never did. That idea was in my mind since about 2011-2012, but I never had the guts to publish it. I was too afraid people might read it and be angry with me. So that’s when I came up with the idea to write about an author who does the very thing I wanted to do. I finally wrote the book and it was published in 2014.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I HATE that we as humans think it is better to hide our pain and hurt then deal with them. I know due to shame, guilt, and condemnation, people have a tendency to keep secrets, but I know secrets destroy and kill. I decided if I wrote a book with enough dysfunction to make an addict feel like a saint, then maybe people would feel more comfortable in exposing their own dirty laundry.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I probably shouldn’t answer that question, but one of the stories in the first section is loosely based on my own dysfunction. And as said before the main character of this book did exactly what I wanted to do.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?

I did a little bit of research for the first part of the book (Essays). I wanted the essayists to be from all over America, but I wanted to choose unknown and small towns. So, I had to do internet search on small towns in big states, most Americans don’t even know exists.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

The main thing I want the reader to take away from these books is it is okay to discuss your secrets. There is no shame in sharing. Weak people keep secrets, the courageous expose. Not so much the person, but the deed. If you never deal with a problem, you can never put an end to the problem.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Funny you should ask that. I am a diverse and multi-genre writer. When you read my books each one has its own unique fingerprint. I was raised in a multi-ethnic family, multi-ethnic church, and went to a high school filled with students from all nations. I grew up with an eclectic interest of music, and went to a diverse college. So, when I began writing it was natural for me to be diverse, colorful, and eclectic. I chose to write any many genres due to my colorful upbringing it has taught me to never segregate my gift.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a children’s book series entitled, “American History.” Each book shines light on American inventors, entrepreneurs, and innovators that the school system chooses to ignore. Two of the seven books have been published. The third one will be published in May 2020, and the rest will be published between 2020 and 2022.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I was always a writer, but never thought to do it as work. As a child I wrote poetry, songs, short stories, as well as writing in a diary. Writing was my therapy. It never dawned on me to do it as a trade. I originally wanted to be a gospel singer.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

The most surprising and fulfilling part of being a writer is the reactions and responses of the readers. I always enjoy hearing what readers tell me about what my book(s) have done for them.

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Find out more about Casey Bell here: https://www.authorcaseybell.com/

You can download the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Essays-Dysfunctional-Families-Literary-Betrayal-ebook/dp/B00R6NSWJA/

Interview With Helen Donovan, Author of WHAT GOES AROUND

What Goes AroundWelcome, Helen. What is your book about?

What Goes Around is about Phoebe who is adopted at birth. She’s yearned to know where she came from for as long as she can remember, so after she graduates from college she hires a private investigator to find her roots. He does. She is thrilled when he finds two living relatives…that’s when things take a turn for the sinister. And I mean sinister.

Sounds interesting and ominous. How long was it before you began to write the story?

The idea germinated for at least three years, maybe longer. My game plan for when I retired was to do music full time.  And then when nature deteriorated my voice, I’d write. So that’s what I did. I sang, time marched on, but nature didn’t kick in. I could still sing but it was time. I had to make the decision. After a few months I told my friend and longtime accompanist that I was quitting.

What inspired you to write this particular story rather than, for example, something about music?

One afternoon I watched two members my friend’s family fly off the handle over nothing. Looking back over our long friendship, I must have had my head in the sand because that’s how her brother and sister always reacted. It was their behavior that intrigued me. Why do they react like that? Others would never react that way. What makes some people do what they do? Why does someone from a loving family commit murder and an abused kid becomes a priest?

Sounds like a good foundation for a story. How long did it take you to write the book?

Oh, at least three or four years. I had all of 96 pages and I thought I had a book but I knew I needed professional help. I was dead right. I enrolled in a general writing workshop that was led by a retired professor from Northwestern University, that’s in Evanston Illinois, and Jerry was merciless. At the end of six weeks I was among a few others he invited to participate in the advanced workshop, which I did. I recorded those sessions and rewrote What Goes Around.

How do you track or differentiate between characters?

What worked really well for me and what was suggested by another author was a flow chart. It was invaluable for remembering details. It ensures that if she always has an English muffin for breakfast on page 2 she gets the same muffin on page 296. Notes also help keep each character’s behaviors consistent.

Is there a message, or anything you want the reader to take away with them?

Yes, think about the age old debate: nature vs nurture. How much do we really know?

What was your greatest challenge?

Getting What Goes Around published. The only thing that kept me hanging in there after all the rewrites and all the rejections was keeping faith in the story that was based on a sound concept.Helen Donovan

So, now that What Goes Around is published, where can we learn more about the book?

From my publisher, Indigo Sea Press. http://www.indigoseapress.com/deep-indigo–mainstream-authors-a-l.php#Helen

You can also buy the book at Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/What-Goes-Around-Helen-Donovan/dp/1630662933

Thank you for talking with me today, Helen. Best of luck with your book!

Rami Ungar, Author of “Reborn City”

THUMBNAIL_IMAGEHi, Rami. What is “Reborn City” about?

Simply put, my book is about a young girl forced to join a street gang in a city similar to Las Vegas about forty-five years in the future. And forty-five years in the future, the world’s pretty different. For one thing, the United States doesn’t exist. Instead, the world’s become divided up into city-states and small nations. Another interesting thing is that my main character’s religion, Islam, has been demonized in certain places, so she’s got a tough time of things. I thought those elements would make the beginning of a great novel. I hope the readers agree!

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I was walking home from the library one day listening to a CD I’d just checked out. There were rap and rock tunes on it, and I thought it would be a great soundtrack to a gangster movie. And at that point I thought to myself, “Why not write a story with gangsters?” That was really the basis of what would become Reborn City.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

Mostly finding the time to write! I wrote this for two years in high school, and I took a lot of breaks for homework, an after school job, five weeks in Israel, and a few other factors really slowed me down. It’s a wonder I got the manuscript done. But finished it I did, and then I spent an extra two years editing it. I’m happy with how it turned out though, so I’m glad I took the time to write and polish it. With future projects though I’d like to cut down the time from writing to publishing it by at least half.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?

Mostly I did research on gang violence and Islam, subjects I was mostly unfamiliar with. I read the memoir Monster by Sanyika Shakur to learn about the former, and I read The Idiot’s Guide to Islam for the latter. I also did research on drugs and drug addiction, because one of my characters is a recovering drug addict. I also looked at some pictures of different Las Vegas casinos, because after all the setting is a city modeled after Vegas. It took a lot of time, but I got the information I felt I needed to make the story seem authentic to readers.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite?

Most of my main characters are gangsters, so they’ve been brought up in a culture where they’re revered, where they are considered superheroes of a sort. The only exception is my main character Zahara, whom is not accustomed to this life but is forced into it because of circumstances beyond her control. She has to learn to live with a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense to her, so that’s part of her character development. In sequels I look forward to seeing how she further develops into a stronger character, someone you want to admire and emulate.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

I think that if any readers have been in a gang or have been discriminated against because they are Muslims, they might empathize with either the other gangsters or with Zahara. That’s the hope, at least. I’m an outsider to both of those groups, so I had to really think on how these characters would think and act in certain environments and how those environments would color their lives. if the readers think I’ve done a good job, then I’ll know all the hard work paid off.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

That’s a tough one. I get my character’s names from all sorts of sources and places. Zahara, I think came from the Sahara desert, and her last name is from a famous figure in Islamic tradition. Ilse, Zahara’s best friend, had her name borrowed from a Stephen King novel, while Rip, the male protagonist…well, if you read the book and see what he can do, it’ll be evident where his name comes from.

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

Well, if RC was lucky enough to be made into a movie, I’d like Tyler Posey to play Rip and Jennifer Laurence to play Ilse. I’m not sure who would play Zahara though. Maybe that one would be left to an open audition. And as for my villain Jason Price, there’s only one person who can play him, and that’s Samuel L. Jackson, whom I modeled Price on. If I have him in the movie, I’ll be happy.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I’m working on RC’s sequel, Video Rage, and a political thriller called Laura Horn. I’m also editing a suspense/thriller called Snake, and I’m about halfway through the edits on that one. I’ve taken a bit of a break from writing though because I have to focus on my school work. I’m going to get back to writing soon, but first I have to find the time.

Where can people learn more about your books?

cimg1481Reborn City is available on Amazon, Createspace, and Smashwords.

I have a blog called Rami Ungar the Writer, and a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, all of which I regularly update. If anyone wishes to, they can find out more about my work there.

http://ramiungarthewriter.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RamiUngarWriter
https://twitter.com/RamiUngarWriter

Thank you for talking with me today, Rami. Best of luck with your books!

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Rami Ungar, Author of “The Quiet Game: Five Tales To Chill Your Bones”

cimg1481Hi, Rami. Good to talk to you! What is your book called?

It’s “The Quiet Game: Five Tales To Chill Your Bones”, and it’ll be available later this year as an e-book.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

At least since I first read “Harry Potter”, though I didn’t realize it till I was around ten or so. At that age you want to be a scientist, a superhero, a firefighter, President. But at ten I realized I wanted to write, and I’ve been writing since.

What writer influenced you the most?

I’d have to say Anne Rice, Stephen King, and James Patterson. I discovered the first two when I was in junior high and high school, and they blew my mind. I knew after reading them, horror was what I wanted to focus on. I discovered James Patterson shortly before graduating high school, and I think he was the one who taught me how to write thrillers. To this day, I think of Alex Cross and James Patterson when I think about how I was able to write my thriller novel “Snake”.

How long did it take you to write your book?

I spent about a week for every short story, so about five weeks. Each story had its own challenges in writing it, but I enjoyed writing each and every one of them. I hope people enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

I basically collected a bunch of ideas that popped into my mind all of the Fall 2012 semester, wrote them down, and then picked the five best ones out of those ideas and worked on them over winter break. I was really surprised how easily some of these short stories came to me, like “Addict”, which is about a guy trying to recover from a sex and porn addiction. I managed to get that one typed out in a day, a record for me with short stories.

Does writing come easy for you?

That really depends. Some days I can really write out several pages of work, and some days I can barely get one page down. I’m still looking for a pattern as to why some days are better than others. If I ever figure it out, I’ll let you know.

Have you written any other books?

I’ve written a science fiction novel called Reborn City and a thriller called Snake. RC is in the middle of its final edit before I put it out online, and Snake’s first draft is done, so I’ll get to looking at it soon. I’m waiting till March to edit Snake though, because I want to look at it with fresh eyes when I edit it.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

For short stories, I usually write them on sticky notes or note paper and put them on the tackboard in my dorm room before I write them. For novels, I wirte down all my ideas on a list on my flash drive. Otherwise they’d be whizzing around my head and they might get lost in that dark abyss of a mind.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Too many to count!

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

I’d say, make sure it’s something you’d want to read. Don’t write thinking, “This’ll be popular” or “This’ll sell well.” Write a story that makes you think to yourself, “I’d like to pick this up at a bookstore or library and spend all day and night finding out what happens.”

Where can people learn more about your books?

If you really want to know more, I’d recommend checking out my blog, Rami Ungar the Writer. http://ramiungarthewriter.wordpress.com/ It has all my writing updates for the past year and a half, and you’ll find links to short stories that have been published in magazines. I write at least three posts a week, so you’ll learn a bit more about my work if you just keep visiting and reading.

Thank you for talking with me today, Rami. Best of luck with your books!

John Lavan, Author of “Familial: Selected Poems”

What is your book about?

Poems that stimulate feeling.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Family relationships really. I have a son with Down’s Syndrome and he’s my great muse. Not much poetry has been written on the love between father and son and so it’s great to access the feelings and try to capture them in a poem’s

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took about seven years. I have 600+ poems on my blog and I selected the best ones according to number of comments and hits. It was like a global democratic choice.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

In a sense, every poem has a point about our human condition. Almost all my poems are positive and intend to uplift.

What are you working on right now?

A long and epic poem – about a little shaman.

At what age did you discover writing?

I arrived late – started at age 52!

When where you first published? How were you discovered?

Apostrophe Books discovered my poems through Twitter in July 2012. We published quickly and they’re great to work with.

Does writing come easy for you?

No – it’s like I have to squeeze out a poem and a tight deadline helps. Then I probably edit it over a dozen times, improving meter, rhyme, sound, structure, alliteration, imagery etc.

What writer influenced you the most?

Emily Dickinson – she has such mystery, intensity & compression.

Describe your writing in three words.

Words that feel

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

Focused

What do you think the most influential change in book publishing will come from?

The internet – particularly for poetry. An electronic global reach can break the stranglehold that paper-publishers have in only promoting existing poets on their books. The internet can reach a far larger market than those boys imagine – and transform the world’s attitude to poetry.

What is something you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)?

Mac and ipad

If you could have lunch with one person, real or fictitious, who would it be?

Shakespeare. Greatest writer ever. How did he do that?

Where can people learn more about your books?

On my blogs:

http://poemsfromreality.blogspot.co.uk/ and

http://beautifulwordpoems.blogspot.co.uk/ and

Apostrophe Books: http://apostrophebooks.com/books/poetry/familial/

J. P. Lane, Author of “The Tangled Web”

What is your book about?

The Tangled Web is a story of passion, patriotism and political intrigue; of drug trafficking and assassination. The plot travels between London, Prague, New York and Cali, but the central location is an island in the Caribbean. Being Jamaican, I use Jamaica as the visual backdrop, but this story could be about any Caribbean or Latin American country caught in the tentacles of the cocaine industry.

What inspired you to write this story?

You hear news about the awful drug violence in Mexico, but I don’t think the cocaine industry is at the top of the minds of most people – even though cocaine has wreaked havoc in the lives of countless people and ravaged entire societies. For example, back in 2010, Mexican drug cartels were getting cocaine from Colombia’s biggest guerrilla group in a deal that was causing a security threat to both countries. We in the U.S. feed the problem. We’re the largest user of illegal drugs in the world. One in six U.S. citizens claim they’ve used cocaine. According to Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, if there was a Federal tax on cocaine, the revenue would be in the region of $12.47 billion. I didn’t exactly set out to write a story about the cocaine industry, but once The Tangled Web started to evolve, I realized I had the perfect platform for talking about it – though I tread pretty lightly.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?

I did quite a bit of research on the cocaine industry for this book. A lot of the stuff in it is factual. I got most of the information about the Colombian cocaine industry from books written by experts on the subject. But that was only one aspect of the research. In addition, I had to find information on sniper rifles, private jets and Cigarette boats. After an extensive online search, which yielded nothing about the speed of Cigarette boats, I called a manufacturer. I discovered the reason the speeds weren’t listed was because if you buy a Cigarette boat, you custom order the engine. “So what’s the top speed for a Cigarette boat?” I asked. “ One hundred and eighty miles an hour was the answer. I had that speed in my first draft, but when a friend who read it seemed dubious, I reduced the speed of the boat in the book.

Tell us about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

One of the two main players is Lauren Anderson, a savvy investigative reporter who, while on the trail of something big, finds herself caught in a dangerous web of political intrigue. The other is Logan Armstrong, an entertainment tycoon who comes to a decision that will change a lot more than his life. Logan is my favorite. Why? Well, I kind of fell in love with him. Which woman wouldn’t?

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

None of the characters even vaguely resembles me, but Logan and Lauren are my voice on some issues.

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

My characters always take on a life of their own. For the most part, they lead the way while this poor writer scurries behind them doing her best to keep up with them.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I’ve traveled from an early age and I’ve lived in several countries, so maybe that’s the reason The Tangled Web trots around the world a bit. I chose Prague as one of the locations, because I’d been to Prague the year before I started writing it and the memories were still fresh. The familiarity with the Hispanic characters comes from having lived in Miami for twenty years and having had a lot of Hispanic friends and work associates. I also lived in Puerto Rico at one point. And there’s the Jamaican dialect in the book. Only someone who’s lived in Jamaica for some length of time could write that.

Which is more important to your story, character or plot?

I would say plot is more important in a suspense/thriller. You don’t want to linger too long on character nuances when you’re leading a reader through a plot as complex and suspenseful as The Tangled Web.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

I’m glad you asked that question. Yes, The Tangled Web does carry a moral message. The crux of it is right there in chapter 41 – a passage from Ecclesiastes attributed to King Solomon. Part of it reads “and behold, all was vanity and striving after the wind and feeding on it, and there was no profit under the sun.” Meaning, money isn’t everything.

What are your current writing goals and how do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?

For me, book promotion is a creativity killer and so I can’t write and promote at the same time. There are writers who structure their time in a way that allows them to do both. I can’t. When I write, I don’t want to be interrupted. I’m what you might call a binger. I’ve spent a lot of time promoting The Tangled Web, but I stopped work on the novel I was writing on in order to do so. When I get back to it in mid-August, I’ll probably not be doing too much promotion. A sequel for that novel has already started to take shape in my mind, so I’d really like to concentrate on those books.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been a writer by profession most of my adult life, but there wasn’t any point when I thought I wanted to be a writer. I just fell into writing quite by chance – just the way The Tangled Web came about – by chance. There was no thought of wanting to write a book. One day, I sat down and started writing and about a year later, there was a novel on my computer. Mind you, I was an advertising and marketing writer and I also had articles published in major Florida publications, so I wasn’t exactly green when I ventured into the world of fiction. Advertising writing requires tremendous discipline, so I was already reasonably equipped to be an author.

Where can people learn more about your books?

There’s all the usual stuff – synopsis, look inside, reviews – on Amazon http://tinyurl.com/d2e4nkz. Readers can also visit my website http://www.jp-lane.com. I can be contacted by e-mail from my website. I’d love to hear from them. I welcome questions about The Tangled Web or projects I’m working on.

Click here to read an: Excerpt from “The Tangled Web” by J.P. Lane

Sheryl Hames Torres, Author of “Illusions”

Welcome, Sheryl. It’s great to talk to you today. What is your book about?

ILLUSIONS, available from sapphirebluepublishing.com, is the story of Lily Cabot, a young mother striving to keep her six children and wheelchair-bound grandmother safe from her sadistic estranged husband. Little does she know but she has an ally in her children’s enigmatic music teacher, Alex Anderson, who has reasons of his own to despise and fight against Peter Cabot.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Oh, so many things. My mother, also a mother of six, the quintessential Mother Lion. My own fierceness about protecting my children and the people I love against all odds and ills. And I guess I’d have to say my fascination with cliched stereotypes. They drive me nuts! The whole black hat/white hat thing. When my children were born, my husband had a beard and hair down to his waist, and drove a motorcycle. Now, being Spanish/Cajun, the man has a temper, but no gentler man ever lived. Yet, when he finished school and took a supervisory position, he was forced to cut his hair and “clean up his act.” Guess I’m still a little peeved. You will find the villain in ILLUSIONS is a golden, high powered, pretty boy, while the hero is a long haired, tattooed musician. Yin Yang with a twist. LOL

How long did it take you to write your book?

LOL…let’s see, how old am I? Honestly, the first draft of ILLUSIONS has been written for years. My daughter suffered a life-threatening illness when she was eleven, the effects of which we battled for seven years. All my writing was put aside to care for her and help her with her recovery. Now that she and my son are grown and in college, Mama has a little more time to devote to writing again. So, I guess it took me about six months to write the story, but another nine years to edit it and have it published.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I usually have the bones written down…sometimes in as many as ten or twenty pages…before I start the actual story. That doesn’t mean I chisel it into stone, however. By the time I finish a story, it may only resemble the original newsy letter I started with.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I tend to SEE my characters. I will even go so far as to “cast” them, fishing around the Internet finding photos of actors/actresses, models, etc to “play” them in the book. I’ll collect them, and pull them out to make sure I have keep the eye color, facial or other features, hairstyle/color consistent. This also helps with mannerisms and habits. For example, I was fascinated in one scene Lou Diamond Phillips in played the 90′s movie, Renegades. The particulars, in this case, aren’t important, but someone asks him something, his grandfather I think, and he raises his eyebrows and stares out the window with this heartbreaking expression of vulnerability on his face. I thought, PERFECT! That’s perfect for a character in another of my works in progress. Seeing my characters helps me make sure they all have different personalities, different speech patterns, different attitudes, etc.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

LOL Ask any of my crit partners and they’ll tell you I never do. I get restless very easily. I seldom have a spare minute, so my writing time isn’t consistent. Translated: I can’t do the “write at the same time everyday” thing. There’s always something that needs doing right now, or someone that needs something right now, but I do adapt. I take my laptop with me on days when during the course of Mama Taxi Service I have to wait for an hour or two, and a story is worked on. There are nights I work all night and sleep all day. So, there are times I’ll go days without even looking at the story. I will work on several stories at a time…Presently there are 12 in progress…LOL So, once a story feels right, and the characters aren’t balking at me, that’s when it’s done. Usually the rough draft takes no time to write. Editing and rewriting, though…that can take a while. I will never submit anything until I AND my characters are satisfied that it’s the best story we can tell.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I’m the eldest of six kids. Our family life was always very important. While we all had outside friends, it was the family unit we were drawn to in times of joy and need. Our home was always full of kids…imagine six kids with two or three friends each. On any given day, it was like my mother was hosting a teen convention. LOL Presently, my three sisters and my parents live within 50 miles of each other, and there is rarely a time when one of us is in need that there isn’t someone to touch when we reach out. That sense of connection, of being a part of something that is inherently a part of you, is a running theme in all my books. They’re all set in the south…so far. I spent most of my life in Georgia and Florida. I love small country towns..what’s left of them…and mountains, and the people who populate them.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

Oh yes! I have two favorite times and it’s very hard to choose which would rank highest. I have always been very barometric…that is to say, I ADORE rain. Rainy days, drizzly, overcast, even cold and rainy. I’m sure our neighbors think we have no running water as my daughter and I make a beeline out the front door when the first drops fall. “Those crazy Torres women are showering again.’ LOL On days like that, I’ll add sugar free hot cocoa mix or cinnamon to my coffee, depending on what kind of scene I’m going to write, park myself by a window and tear up the keyboard. My other favorite time to write is in the middle of the night, when I know the kids are both home, hubby is home, animals are cuddled up together and I can hear everyone breathing. I know I have no one to worry about ..everyone is within my touch, and I can relax and just write.

What are you working on right now?

Well, like I said, I have 12 stories in the works, each at a different point in completion. I’m currently working on a story about a woman who receives a letter informing her that her family home is in jeopardy from her father’s child with a woman who wasn’t her mother. In this story, the family that surrounds Lisa Keller isn’t biological, but consists of Native American twin brothers she grew up with, a sister-in-law, one eleven year old girl, two five year old boys, and her cousin. When an old college friend of one of her brothers joins them for the holidays, Lisa learns how to trust

What do you like to read?

I’m eclectic. I love fantasy…but not political fantasy…(Someone please bring back the Lord of the Rings-type quest fantasy.) I love romance. I love smart fiction…Dan Brown’s Deception Point, Michael Crichton’s Timeline. I love paranormal. Okay, I’ll admit it, I love vampire romances…(Dear Linda Lael Miller, would you PLEASE write that last book of your series. You really kind of left us hanging.)

What writer influenced you the most?

Kay Hooper. I devoured her Hagen Series. her characters were smart, strong, NOT WHINEY or too stupid to live. Her humor was subtle but quirky. The situations made sense, even if they weren’t exactly situations I could see myself going through. When I read them, I didn’t feel like I’d just gone through a few pages of mental bubblegum.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

CHRISTY by Catherine Marshall. The terrible TV show, notwithstanding, this is one of the most endearing and colorful stories I ever read. The characters breathe and you feel it when the wind blows through. The reader walks right along with the characters. I read it when I was 10, and it’s still one of my favorite books.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

John Marco, author of The Eye of God. When I first started writing in the mid 90′s, John and I were in a short story writing group together. This was before he burst on the writing scene like the hurricane he is, and it was my week to be critiqued. One of the partners advised me to stop writing and take up plumbing. I was crushed. John told me that I would never write a book or story or grocery list that would please everyone. Chances were we’d never write anything that would please any kind of majority, so if I gave up on one person’s ill advised comment, he’d come to Georgia and hit me with my keyboard. LOL Thanks to him, I never stopped.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Let someone else do the plumbing.

Have you written any other books and where can people learn more about them?

I have two novellas currently available in separate anthologies: Fate’s Little Trick in Enchanted Holidays and ENIGMA in One Touch Beyond, both available from
jasminejade.com. You can find out more about my books, works in progress and read my not-updated-nearly-as-much-as-it-should-be blog at sherylhamestorres.wordpress.com

Thanks, Pat. This was fun. You can read about my books and me on my wordpress pages. http://sherylhamestorres.wordpress.com/books/ –Sher Hames Torres