Smoky Trudeau Zeidel, Author of “On the Choptank Shores”

Welcome, Smoky! What is your book, On the Choptank Shores, about?

The tragic deaths of her mother and two younger siblings have left Grace Harmon responsible for raising her sister Miriam and protecting her from their abusive father, Luther, a zealot preacher with a penchant for speaking in Biblical verse who is on a downward spiral toward insanity. Otto Singer charms Grace with his gentle courtship and devotion to his brother, Henry. But after their marriage, Otto is unable to share with Grace the terrible secret he has kept more than twenty years. Otto believes he is responsible for a tragic accident that claimed the life of a young woman and left Henry severely brain damaged.

Luther’s insane ravings and increasingly violent behavior force Grace to question and reassess the patriarchal religious beliefs of her childhood. Then tragedy strikes just when Otto’s secret is uncovered, unleashing demons that threaten to destroy the entire family. Can Grace find the strength to save her sister … her marriage … them all?

On the Choptank Shores is a love story. The love between a young wife (Grace) and her decidedly middle-aged husband (Otto), and the love of a big sister for her abused baby sister (Miriam). It’s the story of the love for an aging, grief-stricken father (Luther) who is spiraling into a dark world of insanity, and the love of a kind and benevolent God whom Grace knows must exist, despite the crazed ravings of her father, who paints a picture of a vengeful, angry God as he spouts biblical verse to defend his abuse of both Grace and little Miriam. It is a story of the land on which they live, and the power of Mother Nature. Most of all, it is a story of love conquering all.

Who is your most unusual character?

That would be Henry. Henry is Otto’s younger brother who, although a grown man, has the mind of a child ever since a childhood accident left him brain damaged. He can be violent, mostly out of frustration. But he can be very kind, too, and he becomes a great friend to little Miriam, who mentally isn’t much younger than Henry at all, despite the wide difference in their chronological years. Henry gets in deep trouble in the book, but in the end, he turns out to be … whoops! Almost put a spoiler in there! I better leave it at that!

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

On the Choptank Shores is set on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, at a peach orchard named Windy Hill. Windy Hill Orchard was my aunt and uncle’s home, where I spent many happy vacations as a child raiding my aunt’s garden, devouring her blue crab cakes, swimming in the river, and jumping in the sand pit—although we weren’t supposed to do the latter, because my uncle feared the sand would cave in on us. My aunt and uncle were long gone by the time I wrote the book, so most of my research entailed talking to my mother to have her remind me of details about Windy Hill that I needed but had forgotten. I also dug through old photos taken at Windy Hill to help transport my mind back to that simpler time and place.

But I also did a bit of research at the library. I do have one sex scene in the book—it isn’t gratuitous; it actually makes a point about one of the main themes of the book—and I had to research what sort of underclothing a woman in the late 1920s would be wearing. It was fun! For example, Grace did not wear a bra; she wore a bust confiner. That was a fun fact to uncover.

I also had to research what giving birth would have been like back then. They certainly didn’t allow fathers into the delivery room, of course; nor did they have epidurals. It’s a wonder to me any mother survived childbirth before the advent of epidurals.

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

That’s differed from book to book. My other published novel, The Cabin, I had most of the story plotted out in my head before I set a finger on the keyboard. That was easy to do, because the plot stemmed from a story in my family’s history that I found fascinating.

But for On the Choptank Shores, I had a totally different idea of what the story would be when I started out than when I finished writing it. The characters just took over and wouldn’t let me write what I thought I was going to write! And they were correct in doing so, and I was smart to let them. Their story was so much better than the one I thought I was going to tell!

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

While meditating, I often come up with rough ideas for scenes I need to write. The characters get in my head and tell me what to write when I’m in such a relaxed state. I also sometimes dream scenes, which is pretty wonderful when it happens.

As to staying on track: often, I don’t. But that’s because, as I said in the last question, if my characters aren’t happy with the way I’m telling the story, they tend to take over and tell the story their way instead of the way I’m telling it. Sometimes, jumping the track is better than staying on it!

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

I am so glad you asked that question! As a former writing instructor, I get concerned when writers announce they are writing a 90,000-word book, or they have 4,000 words to go before they finish writing their book. How, exactly, can you know how long your story is going to be? My opinion is, you write until the story is done. Then, you stop. That means sometimes I end up with a novel, sometimes a novella. Sometimes, it’s a short story—one of my more popular short stories (it’s been published five time!) is “Good-bye, Emily Dickinson.” I wanted badly for that story to be a novel, but it just wasn’t. It was a short story. I would have had to pad, and pad, and pad to stretch it further, and that would have diluted the story.

Of course, once you have some experience, you can judge whether your story will be a novel or not. But exact word count? I don’t think so.

So, to get off my teacher soapbox and answer your question, I write until the story is done. When it reaches the climax, when I’ve done my denouement, I call it quits. Period.

I do have a neat trick I’d like to share for knowing exactly which sentence should be your last. Remove the last sentence. Is the final paragraph still strong? Does it make sense? If it does, now remove that sentence and ask yourself the same questions. If it does, now remove that sentence. Keep doing this until you weaken your ending by removing a sentence. Add that necessary one back, and that should be the end.

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

First, your characters must ring true. That means your hero or heroine can’t be perfect; they must have flaws. Similarly, your antagonist can’t be all bad. For your characters to ring true, you also have to get dialogue right. People speak in contractions, for example, yet it’s drummed into us in school not to use them!

Your plot must, of course, revolve around a central conflict. There are probably going to be other conflicts as well making up your sub-plots, but it amazes me how many manuscripts I’ve edited for people where there was no central conflict. They hadn’t written stories; they’d written “A Day in the Life of…” types of things. But that’s basic principle of fiction writing! No conflict, no story.

There are more, but those are the most important, in my opinion.

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

I am definitely a morning person. I like to arise before the sun and write. By about lunchtime, my mind starts to tire. I’ll switch to any editing jobs I’ve contracted at that time.

Of course, if I’m really on a roll and still feeling fresh, I’ll continue to write. But, generally speaking, mornings are when I’m at my best.

Do you have a favorite snack food or beverage that you enjoy while you write?

Graham crackers and Coca-Cola. I have a very testy stomach, and grahams and Coke keep it soothed while I write.

Does writing come easy for you?

Yes and no. When I sit down to write, the words flow, and flow easily and well. I’ve been told I’m a natural-born writer, but I don’t know if that’s the case. I grew up in a house full of books, and was always a natural-born reader, and I think being well-read is crucial to becoming a great writer.

The problem for me is the same problem most writers have, and that’s finding the time to write. That is not always easy!

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

The awe some people display when they find out I’ve not only written a book, but written several! Really, I don’t tell people I’m an author to stun them! It’s what I do, just like some people are gardeners or bank tellers or forest rangers. But there is something about being a writer that makes other people think you’re pretty cool—even if you aren’t!

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on my third novel, called The Storyteller’s Bracelet. A storyteller’s bracelet is a Navajo bracelet that has pictographs carved into it that tell the artist’s story, or another person’s story. My sister gave me one a few years back, and the inspiration for this novel came from that.

I’m also working on another project, called The Madam of Bodie. It’s loosely based on true stories from Bodie, California, which was known as “the baddest town in the West” during the California gold boom. It’s a state park now and one of my favorite places to visit when we go to the Sierras. It’s a writers dream, as far as inspiration goes.

Have you written any other books?

Yes, I have! There’s my novel, The Cabin, which I’ve already mentioned. My latest release is Short Story Collection, Vol. 1; the print edition of that was released just a few days ago. Then there’s Observations of an Earth Mage, my photo/essay book of reflections on nature.

I also have another new eBook release that will be available in print in October: Smoky’s Writers Workshop Combo Set. The book is comprised of both my books for writers: Front-Word, Back-Word, Insight Out: Lessons on Writing the Novel Lurking Inside You From Start to Finish; and Left Brained, Write Brained: 366 Writing Prompts and Exercises., The former title is the same fiction writer’s workshop I used to teach, so people can get an entire 10-week writing class in one book, plus a year’s worth of writing exercises in one book with the new, combined book. It’s a great way for someone who wants to write a book to learn the right way to do it, and it works! One of my former writing students, Robert Hays, learned to write fiction with my method, and he’s gone on to publish four novels!

Where can people learn more about your books?

Here’s the list of all my links. I hope people will look me up in these places, friend and/or follow me, and say hello!

Website and “Smoky Talks” Blog:  www.SmokyZeidel.wordpress.com
Facebook Fan Page:                            www.Facebook.com.Smoky.Zeidel.Writes
Amazon Author Page:                         http://amzn.to/mUvjpC
Goodreads Author Page:                    http://bit.ly/pGXAXq
Smashwords Author Page:                 http://bit.ly/qan6Nx
All Romance Author Page:                 http://bit.ly/p6pR9O

Click here to read an excerpt from: On the Choptank Shores

Click here for an interview with: Grace Harmon Singer, Hero of On the Choptank Shores by Smoky Trudeau Zeidel

Petra, Hero of Ghost Dance by Rod Marsden

What is your story?

I was born in England and died in Germany. I have been around for over a hundred years. I like being in Australia.

Who are you?

I am Petra, a female vampire.

Where do you live?

I don’t live anywhere. I haven’t lived since a certain fateful night in Germany. I am undead. This means I am somewhere between life and death.

Are you the hero of your own story?

Yes, I am the hero of my own story. It has been a long time since I have killed anyone unless provoked into doing so.

What is your problem in the story?

My biggest headache is this warlock who is after my blood. He is also after the blood of this young werewolf. The fellow is a bit of a doofus but likable enough. He needs a firm hand. I don’t want anything bad to happen to him. On the other hand, I don’t want anything bad to happen to me either.

Do you have a problem that wasn’t mentioned in the story?

I think everything about me is covered in the story except maybe the difficulties of leaving England for the first time to go abroard.

Do you embrace conflict?

I avoid conflict but, if someone wants to fight me, well, I will certainly give them their money’s worth.

Do you run from conflict?

I rarely run from conflict. I am no fool, however, when it comes to the odds. If I am outnumbered and sticking around will mean my second death of course I will bolt.

How do you see yourself?

I have a sense of honor. If you don’t attack me then I won’t go for your blood or the blood of the people your have sworn to protect.

How do your friends see you?

My friends see me as someone who sometimes causes trouble but also someone they can depend upon in a fight. I never let friends down. This is why I do have friends.

How do your enemies see you?

With any luck my enemies don’t see me until I have seen them first. I am a thorn in the warlock’s side. I also have the blood that he needs for his experiments. The young werewolf also has the blood this creep needs. It isn’t a good idea to get on my bad side.

How does the author see you?

I remind the author of a couple of no nonsense but decent women he has known for decades and has loved. They are as fiercely loyal to him as I am to my friends.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Yes. the author did a good job on me. I know I have a temper. I also know my upbringing in England was based on his grandparents and on other information that came to hand. But it was mostly his grandparents.

What do you think of yourself?

I am the best vampire you are ever likely to meet since I don’t just drain anybody I meet of blood. I was an English Vamp in 1920s Germany who became a real vampire. I still like to dress in black. Vampires don’t have to, you know, but I think black suits me. I sometimes have fun with being undead. The biggest problem there, however, is that mirrors don’t work on me. The reflection from a dead person’s eye, which is really small, is often the best I can do.

Do you have a hero?

No, sorry. I don’t have a hero. Well, when I was young my dad was my hero but he died and he’s not likely to ever come back.

Do you have a goal?

My goals are to stay undead and to look after my friends. Also, to do terrible things to anyone daft enough to attack me.

What are your achievements?

Despite vampire hunters, have managed to stay undead for over a hundred years. I understand the 2nd World War better than the present day living because I was actually there.

Do you talk about your achievements?

No, I don’t talk about my achievements. That’s not my style.

Do you have any special strengths?

As a vampire I do have heightened human abilities and I can fly. I am stronger than humans and can hold my own against other vampires. Vampires who owe me their lives I also view as my strengths.

Do you have any special weaknesses?

I have the usual weaknesses for my kind. Sunlight bothers me to ash. A stake through the heart would also finish me. You can consider my temper a special weakness if you like.

Do you have any skills?

I understand how most humans think and also most vampires.

Do you have money troubles?

I don’t have money troubles. If I don’t have enough money I can always rip an ATM apart or take it from one of my victims.

What do you want?

I want to travel and for vampire hunters to leave me alone. Also I want that warlock to go to hell before I do.

What do you need?

I need to sleep during the day and get blood during the night. I need to look after my friends and keep an eye out for my enemies.

What do you want to be?

I want to be human again but that isn’t going to happen.

What do you believe?

I believe I am not the worst vampire who ever lived. I wish I could believe in redemption. I believe that there are times when you have to lighten up or go mad.

What makes you happy?

Being with undead I care about makes me happy. Dancing for no other reason than I feel like dancing makes me joyous. I also like good music. Jazz and Blues I like a lot. I don’t dig disco music at all. Mind you, the blood at discos is good quality even if the people it belongs to aren’t always so good.

What are you afraid of?

I am afraid of the second and final death. I am also afraid of letting my friends down.

What makes you angry?

Injustice makes me angry. Bullies make me livid. I dined on Nazis during the 2nd World War because the stood for injustice and bullying. I get angry when I am attacked just because I am a vampire. It I did something wrong fair enough but I can’t help being undead. It wasn’t a choice I made.

Where can we learn more about you?

Petra can be found in Ghost Dance. Ghost Dance by Rod Marsden can be found on Smashwords and Amazon.com USA. It is part of Night to Dawn publications.

Rod Marsden, Author of “Disco Evil” and “Ghost Dance”

What is your book about?

My latest book, Ghost Dance, is in the realm of Dark Fantasy. It is a quest saga. A young man has lycanthropy and the cure can possibly be found in Germany. His allies are vampires and vampire hunters. A modern day warlock wants his blood for sinister reasons. I have been developing my vampires and vampire hunters for over a decade. They first appeared in a series of short stories. Then came the novel Disco Evil and now Ghost Dance. Soon there will be Torch Song.

How long does it take you to write your books?

Each book takes between six months and a year to complete.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I was inspired to write Disco Evil because I believe everyone deserves a fair go and that people who go out of their way to be nasty to others really do build up bad karma for themselves. I happen to like quest/adventures stories so that’s how Ghost Dance came about. Two of the women in Ghost Dance are based on certain stand up and be counted sort of ladies I know and love in real life.

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

There is quite a lot of myself hidden in everything I write. My writing, however, is more upbeat than downbeat.

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

My favorite main character in Disco Evil is Paul Priestly. He isn’t the brightest of pennies and he has somewhat of a one track mind. My favorite main character in Ghost Dance is Petra, the female vampire. She tries to do the right thing most of the time but she is also hot tempered and she does have her moments of blood lust.

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

With both Disco Evil and Ghost Dance I did some research in the library and on the internet. I also asked novelist and friend Lyn McConchie for help. Trust a first class novelist to tell you when you need to look into matters in more detail or when you need to cut back on description.

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

There are messages in my writing for sure but I don’t really want to tell anyone about them. It is best if the readers figure such things out for themselves.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I have a rough plot in mind before I begin writing. My characters tend to keep me going in the right direction.

What are you working on right now?

I have Torch Song in the pipe line. It is set in Australian and in the USA. In it I poke my tongue out at ‘Reality’ television and comment on the subject of loneliness. There are a lot of fun moments. It is definitely not all doom and gloom. Right now I am tentatively looking at political correctness in Australia in the 1990s and how this affected office work for a great many people. No working title so far. Even so, Torch Song comes out next.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

The first draft is the easiest part of the writing process. You can really let yourself go. Very few writers expect the first draft to be the last. Mitchener went through a number of drafts before he was happy with Hawaii. I go through a number of drafts before I even approach an editor.

Does writing come easy for you?

Some writing does come easy to me. When the idea that kicks it off is red hot then it’s easy.

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

When it comes to Disco Evil I want people to walk away thinking that they have had an experience worth savoring. With Ghost Dance it would be great if the reader feels that they have been on a journey that has come to a satisfying conclusion.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

When you deal with the supernatural killing off a characters doesn’t mean they won’t return. I have had characters return a number of times after death to either help or hinder the living.

How has your background influenced your writing?

One thing I loved doing with Ghost Dance was to bring back Ramsgate Baths as a place for the spirits. The Baths had been destroyed to make room for a car park. They do, however, live on in my memory and in the memories of quite a few people who lived south of Sydney when I was young. If people can exist as ghosts why not much cherished places that are no more in the world of flesh and blood? Why shouldn’t some ghost have a play where they can play and generally have fun?

What do you like to read?

I like to read adventure stories and dark fantasy. The Disc World novels of Terry Pratchett really crack me up – in a good way.

Where can people find your books?

My novels Disco Evil and Ghost Dance can be purchased through Smashwords as an e-book and also through Amazon USA.

Ruth Squire, hero of “An Unlikely Arrangement” By Patty Wiseman

What is your story?

My name is Ruth Squire. I’m locked in my upstairs bedroom. You’d think at 17 years old, I’d be allowed more freedom, but my parents think differently. Okay, so I tried to sneak out to go dancing with my friends, but this is 1929, after all, the roaring twenties, as they say. They are downstairs deciding my fate.

Where do you live?

My home is Detroit, Michigan. We live in the brownstone house where my mother was born. I love the old house. It’s not in the richest part of town, but we do very well. At least, that is what my parents tell me.

What is your problem in the story?

The problem is I don’t know what they are going to do for punishment. This isn’t the first time I’ve been in trouble. I suppose you’d call me a free spirit. They want me to graduate from high school, get married, and have babies. I don’t want to! I want to travel, see the world, become an actress. Girls don’t graduate from high school anymore. It’s 1929, and they all want to find rich husbands. I just want to get free of my parents rule.

Do you embrace conflict?

Embrace it? I think I create it. I’m always rebelling. My mother is strong-willed, so I suppose I get it from her. Father is very quiet.

How do your friends see you?

I’m the leader of the group. My best friend, Ginny, follows every plan I devise. My imagination gets the better of me, and my friends enjoy the excitement. Unfortunately, I’m the only one that seems to get caught.

Has anyone ever betrayed you?

Ginny runs away, but never really betrays me. As I think about it, my father doesn’t really stand up to Mother when it comes to punishment. We are very close, and he spoils me, but defers to her. Her punishment is usually harsh. This time I fear something big is afoot. Probably boarding school. They came upstairs to tell me they were leaving for the day and to remain in my room. The maid, Sarah, is to watch over me. Sarah has been with me since I was born. I hope she can tell me something of their plans.

Who was your first love?

I’ve never had a proper boyfriend. My parents wouldn’t let me date the high school boys, so I’ve never been in love. There is a horse-drawn milk truck downstairs; I can see from my window. My parents are back. Strange vehicle for a headmaster of a boarding school.

Have you ever had an adventure?

I’ve tried to have adventures. I want life to be one big adventure, not like my stodgy mother. It’s funny though, I think that is all about to change. Sarah is being very secretive, and I hear a man’s voice downstairs. They made me put on my ‘company’ dress.

What is your favorite color?

Red! I love red, it’s bold, daring. It stands out above everything else. Mother hates red and won’t allow me to wear it. I wish she’d catch up to the modern times.

What is your favorite beverage?

Cocoa. Sarah brews the best cocoa. My favorite time is in the kitchen with Sarah sipping on the warm brew. We talk and share secrets. Mother never shares any secrets with me.

What makes you think change would be for the better?

Anything would be better than this boring existence. Rules, rules, rules. Mother is so strict. I couldn’t survive if Father didn’t spoil me a little. He reads his stories to me. He’s a writer. I love spending time in his room listening to his tales. But, all in all, the house is too quiet. No parties, no friends, just Sarah, and my parents. I have to get out of here!

How do you envision your future?

On stage. I want so much to be an actress. My parents want me to find a husband, safely married with a family. I can’t think of anything more horrible. Housework and babies. No thank you.

Was there a major turning point in your life?

Not yet, but I think today might be the day. Something is going on downstairs.

What are you afraid of?

My mother’s wrath. There is something different this time. I fear the horrible punishment she has plotted. I only hope Father stops her in time.

How does the author see you?

I have to smile here because I think the author, Patty Wiseman, has nailed my personality. She sees me as spoiled, headstrong, rebellious, but with a touch of vulnerability. Seventeen is a difficult age for a girl in 1929 with few prospects and limited choices for women. She shows my strong side, but explores the insecurity that will surface, also. You can find out more about me and Patty Wiseman at http://www.pattywiseman.com and https://www.createspace.com/3585346

James Boyle, Author of “Ni’il: Waking Turtle”

What is your book about?

In Ni’il: Waking Turtle, Police Chief Dan Connor returns to continue the fight with the monster ni’ilaquo begun in Ni’il: The Awakening and continued in Ni’il: The War Within. As he and his partner Stephanie are preparing and watching for the monster’s next move, they are given a cryptic warning. As they investigate the mythology of the local Sihketunnai Indians, trying to figure out what the warning was all about, they soon realize Ni’ilaquo may be the least of their problems. For this time the fate of the universe itself rides on them figuring out the puzzle in time.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I’d had an extensive “what if” conversation with a friend several years ago that brought up many of the issues the characters deal with in the novel. When it came time to try and wrap up this trilogy, everything seemed to mesh.

How much of you is hidden in the characters?

Oh, quite a bit, I’d say. After all, as authors we try to empathize, or at least imagine, what even our most despicable characters are feeling in order to find their motivations and the rationalizations for what they do. We watch and study the people around us, but when it comes down to the basics all we have to draw on is our own experiences. So I’d say there’s a lot of me in every character.

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

The protagonists are Dan Connor, the forty-something Chief of Police of tiny Placerton, Oregon, who loves police work and hates small town politics. Up until recently, he was a single widower who devoted himself to his work. He’s recently found a new love in Stephanie Amis, the Department’s secretary/receptionist/office manager. They just recently learned that they have some interesting psychic powers of their own, which helps in their fight with the supernatural being Ni’ilaquo. My personal favorite is Harry, the ageless Indian shaman who guides and advises Dan and Stephanie. Though he takes the situation seriously, he can still play with his students’ heads. He is particularly fond of just appearing when and where Dan and Stephanie least expect him.

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

It varies from work to work but I generally have a pretty good idea of where I’m going when I begin. The story will often have a different idea than my original one, but I start with a general map. I usually tell people it’s 90% thinking about it and 10% writing it down.

Do you have specific technique you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

Not really. I start out with a very rough outline, with plots and subplots sketched out. I can usually tell I’m going down a wrong path when the ideas and inspiration begin to dry up. If I get stuck, it means I took a wrong turn somewhere. It isn’t terribly efficient, but it seems to work.

What was the most difficult part of writing the book?

For this particular novel, I knew about where I was beginning. (Since it’s a sequel, it basically begins shortly after the last one ends). I also knew how I wanted it to end. The hard part was getting from here to there. There were quite a few false starts and discarded subplots by the time I finished.

Has your background influenced your writing?

Absolutely. I was raised in a devout Catholic family; I even attended a seminary for a year before deciding it wasn’t for me. The spirituality is part of my way of looking at the universe though. Add in a little Zen, lots of Native spirituality, pagan-style mysticism and a little idealism and you’ve got the world view of the novel.

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

I’m a natural night owl. I can stare at a blank page for hours without accomplishing anything. Come 11:00pm though, the juices start to flow and I have to make myself stop at two or three in the morning.

What are you working on right now?

I just finished a short stage play (my first since college). I have a new novel plotted out and have begun visualizing the scenes, but haven’t actually written much yet. It will be something different, more of a detective story.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

I write works that I would like to read. Subjects I find interesting, situations I find interesting. My rule of thumb has always been how can I expect a reader to enjoy it if I’m bored when I write it? So yes, I write for myself.

What is the most difficult part of the writing process?

Definitely getting started. I have more trouble finding a place to begin the story than anything else. In second place would have to be naming characters.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

There comes a point after you’ve struggled for days and weeks, seemingly trying to wring words out of stone, when you finally hit your groove and the story simple flows out of you. It feels less like writing than channeling the story from some outside source. It is an amazing feeling when it happens.

What do you like to read?

Good, atmospheric horror. Detective and thriller fiction, with some fantasy and classic lit thrown in. Right now I’m re-reading Watership Down by Richard Adams. Next I have my eye on Dennis Lehane’s new novel.

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

Ralph Salisbury, my writing professor at the University of Oregon. “Read. Read a lot. Read everything you can because even if you aren’t currently writing a particular project, you’re internalizing voice, style, pace and structure without even trying. So always be reading something.”

Thank you for answering my questions, James. Where can we learn more about your books?

From Amazon. Here are the links to the novel’s Amazon pages:
http://www.amazon.com/Niil-Waking-Turtle-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B004VGTSL6/ref=kinw_dp_ke?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/146200296X/ref=nosim/theplanningsh-20

Jim Magwood, Author of “The Lesser Evil”

What is your book about?

THE LESSER EVIL is the story of the world staggering under uncontrollable crime and an evil that pervades every part of our society.

In 2008, I published my first novel, SANCTION, about a secretive group of men trying to take over complete control of the world. Another group of civilians and government agents gradually learns of the conspiracy and works to stop it. This novel, THE LESSER EVIL, isn’t a sequel to SANCTION, but it’s the same type of story looking at the question of what is going on in our world today? What is happening, and why?

A group of “vigilantes” campaigns to stop the spread of the evil and the question becomes, “Is the group right in what they are doing or are they just another evil influence themselves?”

Computers and bank accounts are raided and criminals are left destitute. Cayman Island banks are raided by computer and lose billions in secretive client funds. A missile attack wipes out a rogue country’s nuclear facilities and stops a threat to destroy Israel.

Is the fight an essentially good, though illegal one, that will drive the evildoers out and which should be continued, or is it essentially evil itself—and who makes that choice?

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I’m an avid reader of just about everything that comes out, especially dealing with world events today. The more I see of the world, the more I look at the question, Why is this happening? What I want to do is put our daily news reports into a good, suspenseful novel that will get people thinking about that same question. The same world conditions Rand described in her novels are in effect today and are driving us into the chaos we observe daily, and my mind continually comes up with story ideas that incorporate the world events.

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

I’ve “been there, done that,” as they say, but the stories aren’t about me. They aren’t history, so to speak, and they aren’t science fiction. They are “today.”

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

My main characters are taken from around the world, people who get together more by chance than plan. Jacob Asch is an ex-Mossad agent from Israel who still has his contacts in the underground network. He meets a Canadian computer expert who works with him to try to follow these vigilantes. They work with some CIA and FBI agents and several government leaders as they all try to unravel what is happening.

As in our world now, there are people from all walks of life who are either on the right or wrong side of things, and I want to highlight them all, not just concentrate on one hero or villain.

How long did it take you to write your book?

I started writing THE LESSER EVIL almost within minutes after SANCTION was published. My mind started whirling again, and another story just started coming out.

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

As I said earlier, I watch events around the world constantly and so many of them inspire new ideas for novels. I have another one finished and in my own heavy editing phase and another half a dozen already started in my computer. I don’t have a full story, just a concept. As I work on it, I flesh out the ideas.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I’ve been very acquainted with some events in my stories, but I do a lot of research as I begin. So much is available on the Internet today, whether it’s medical techniques or weapons or names of heads of state. I want things in my stories to be real. I want people to say, “I just read about that,” and maybe look things up to see if I know what I’m talking about. I do love the research, whether it’s talking to people or digging into the ‘net.

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

So far, I have had a basic theme I want to deal with, maybe a beginning and several possible scenes, and a rough idea of how I want to end. From there I just start writing and see where it all goes. I’ll write most of the book, then start chopping and re-writing until I finally see the story as I somewhat envisioned it. Once basically finished, I’ll pass it around to a few “reader” friends and get their ideas and criticism. After that, it’s read and re-read with the nasty red pencil. Move chapters, re-write events or characters or scenes, change dialogue and so forth until it comes out the way I want.

I’ve written a 40+ page mini-book entitled “So You’ve Written a Book. Now What?” in which I try to advise writers how to put their book together and then market it. The ideas all come from my own experiences working in this crazy writing world and it touches the ideas I’ve just mentioned. It’s available free to anyone, by the way, from my website, JimMagwood.com (http://www.jimmagwood.com).

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

I want my writing to reflect what is actually happening in today’s world. Data theft; political intrigue; espionage and conspiracy; the people acting like sheep. I would hope that some would really see the truth of events taking place through what I’ve written and maybe even decide to do something about it.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

The main one is time. Time to write in and around household chores, community events and so on. I would say generally that if you are going to seriously write you have to make the time. It won’t just give itself to you.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I’ve lived a few of the things I write about, but more than that I’m naturally inquisitive and love researching. I naturally “think” stories and often “talk” scenes to myself. (I do try to be careful about who might be listening as I’m talking, though.)

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

No, I don’t try to write a number of words. I write as the scenes play out in front of me. I don’t have a schedule as to when I must finish the novel. When it gets there, it gets there. I do try to write a lot every day, though. Ultimately, the only way to get a story written is to write, so that’s what I do. Early morning, late night. Just keep on writing.

What are you working on right now?

My next novel, finished now and in my own editing phase, is entitled COP. It’s the story of a Washington, D.C. detective who is dedicated to living The Job, as they say, but who is also trying to live a normal life. Any law enforcement agent will tell you that this is likely the hardest part of their job and where they most often lose their way.

The story is about a series of terrorist events taking place all over the city and how he is thrown into them. It also tells how the events and the fear he so carefully tries to hide begin to affect him and how he struggles through life.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

Generally, people who want a really good suspense novel but who want it “real.” While my novels are fiction, I want everything possible in them to be real people, places and things that we see in our news every day.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

So far, I’ve had a theme in my mind for the stories and a possible way I want to end. (I don’t give a traditional ending. As I say in my little book on writing, consider killing off your hero at the very end and leave the readers screaming. Haven’t done exactly that yet, but…) Trying to fill in the scenes to get to the ending, while also trying to keep the book “real,” is usually the hardest thing for me.

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

Without a doubt, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.

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

For me, the story needs to be “real,” and get people to think that way. Even if it’s science fiction, the characters should act and emote like real people would. Events and actions need to have people “living it” rather than just reading it. My first editor gave me some advice that I’ll never forget. He said, “Don’t tell people about the action. Give them the story line and let them live it themselves. Don’t tell about the story; tell the story. Make it real.”

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

From my little mini-book on writing:

“Inside many of us is a story that is crying to be delivered. There are many people who will give you many reasons why you should NOT consider this venture. However, there ARE many people out there who are waiting for your story—looking forward to it. Whether you make money on it, or thrill your family and friends with your story, or just feel the satisfaction within yourself when you finally say, “I did it,” you need to write that story. There will be naysayers—turn your back on them. There will be scoffers—smile and keep typing. There will be rejection letters—read them, file them, and send out more proposals.

Never give up. Keep on writing.”

How have you marketed and promoted your work?

“Let me count the ways.” You name it and I’ve probably tried it. I don’t have money to throw at this, so almost everything I’ve done has been basically no charge stuff. I have my own website, JimMagwood.com (http://www.jimmagwood.com). I put together a site to showcase authors for almost no charge called The Author’s Inn (http://www.the-authors-inn.com) and, of course, I’m in it. I write articles and blogs that I’ve had published and syndicated. Any place that will have me as a writer or speaker (thank you, Pat), I’ll be there. There is no easy and sure-fire way to market your work, but you have to try everything and anything. And keep on trying.

What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

Some goals are so worthy that even to fail is glorious.

Where can people learn more about your books?

My books are both in Amazon and Kindle, but you can best learn about them and me, and even purchase the books direct, at my website, JimMagwood.com (http://www.JimMagwood.com).

Monica M. Brinkman, Author of “The Turn of the Karmic Wheel”

What is your book about?

The Turn of the Karmic Wheel is the theme of good versus evil, with a bit of a twist. It is speculative fiction containing suspense, horror, the paranormal and spirituality, hence the Karma.

Set in a small college town in the Midwest, we follow the characters for one weekend where they will answer to the choices made in their life when Universal Law takes over.

For example, the ‘bad guy’s’ have no idea what is in store for them as they go about their ordinary tasks. Soon that tube of toothpaste, car radio or DVD will become an object of loathing, pain and humility. Voices from no discernable source whisper in their ear, music as dark as midnight surround them, urging them to ignore what is right in front of their face. And this is just the beginning of the physical and mental pain they shall experience at the hands of karma.

We also have the ‘good guy’s’ hearing angelic voices, mystical music and experiencing visions until they can no longer ignore the mission set before them. For these good people now hold the key of releasing the power that can save or destroy those who live by greed.

Moreover, from what source does all this come?

What inspired you to write this particular story?

My main reason was to show others that the acts and deeds you perform in life do mean something. I hear many people say that the greedy are the ones who have everything. However, do they really? What if at this very moment, we had to ‘pay the piper’? What if a person’s true self or soul were exposed for all to see. Would they act differently or continue on the same path?

Tell us a little about your main characters.

Angela Frank, late 20’s, a tiny petite woman is a wife, mother of twin girls, psychiatrist and a very reluctant psychic.

Monty Frank, also late 20’s, is Angela’s husband. Not what you would call handsome being overweight and balding, Monty adores his family so much he keeps his true feelings hidden deep inside his soul. He works at home as a Debt Consolidator.

Euclid Hannigan, Widower, late 50’s with a thick head of gray hair is short and stocky in stature. He speaks with a thick Midwestern accent and is considered, by most, a simple countryman. He also believes he is losing his mind.

Rosie Richards, middle-aged, carrot red hair, extremely overweight is brash in character and with the use of makeup. She is the town’s most profitable Realtor and very self-absorbed.

Karmin Shelton, early 50’s, a bit overweight, frizzy hair, thick glasses and not what most men would find attractive, works as a nurse in the local hospital’s psychiatric ward. She has never been married and performs charitable service on her days off.

Joshua Allen, mid 30’s, black hair, blue eyes, 6’2 and strikingly handsome works in the local bank as an investment broker. He views women as something to use for his own sexual needs and the people of the town as morons. He has it all, looks, the gift of gab, money and prestige.

Who is your most unusual/likeable character?

The most likeable and unusual character would surely be Euclid Hannigan. He is a simple man who at 55 lost his wife and his job at the auto factory. He is boisterous with a great spirit and speaks with a heavy Midwestern accent. Euclid is the neighbor who is always there to assist when needed. He is the solid, likeable grandfather whom the children of the neighborhood adore. His laughter would fill an auditorium and his recent acts would fill your heart with horror and fear. He believes he is losing his mind as the story begins, yet is he?

How long did it take you to write the book?

Writing the book took approximately 6 months but editing took another 3 months, so total would be 9 months to completion.

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

Definitely. I want the reader’s to understand each of us is accountable for our own decisions made in life and that these choices affect others lives as well. I also wish to give hope and value to those who are giving and caring; that it does mean something when you make the right choice.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

My main challenge was deciding wither to keep the writing simplistic or not. I opted to write it as I felt it should be written, in a way every person could understand with, hopefully, just the right amount of literary indulgence.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I wish. My schedule is quite busy with hosting the Two Unsynchronized Souls radio show which involves reading many author’s books. How I handle my writing schedule is to write when the moment hits. The words and story then easily flow from my fingertips onto the screen. So, some days I’ll write 5,000 words, other days a mere 500 or so.

What are you working on right now?

As far as novels go, I am writing the sequel, ‘The Wheel’s Final Turn.’ If anyone has read the first book, it reeks of a sequel, leaving it open at the very end for yet another adventure. I also write articles, poetry and enter contests to enhance my writing. The more your write, the more you learn.

What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

‘Don’t be afraid to be ‘the fool’.

You see, people live their life in fear of what other’s think of them or they put aside their own passions in life and merely ‘get by’. I want people to live their life and not just exist. Quit worrying about what everyone else thinks of you or what you are doing. If you love dancing, then dance. If you enjoy music, then play. The joy in life is entirely up to you.

Thank you.
Monica M. Brinkman,
Author, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel
Into The Tunnel of Darkness
Host of the Two Unsynchronized Souls Radio Show
http://tinyurl.com/237mvru
http://theturnofthekarmicwheel.blogspot.com

Michael Haskins, Author of “Car Wash Blues”

What is your book about?
Two Mexican drug cartel gangs come to Key West looking for my protagonist Mick Murphy, thinking he has stolen $20 million. Murphy is innocent, but has been set up by his friends in the shadows.

How long did it take you to write your book?
It takes me less than a year, but I spend a year on each book, editing and rewriting as I go along.

Did you do any research for the book?
I have to find a way to bring the crime/bad guys to Key West. I use a shadowy government agent as Murphy’s friend and check with a friend of mine in military intel to check my facts, especially firearms and they way drug cartels work. He is now an unrepentant contractor.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
I think that goes back to writing a Key West mystery because crime like you find in big cities, Miami, NYC, etc. doesn’t happen here. I find an item that interests me in news reports and then have to come up with why that incident would happen in the Keys.

What’s your writing schedule like?
Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day? I try to write in the morning and do a quick edit/rewrite in the afternoon. I keep a record of my daily writing. It helps with my continuity. I write the day it is in the story, time of day, and location. I avoid mixing up days and times in my writing. I am happy to write 1,000 words a day, but some days have to accept 250!

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?
Not before, but as I begin, the fist thing I do is re-read what I have recently written. That usually brings some rewriting but lets me know where to continue. I try to clear my head in the evening. Notice I said try, because it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes my story is rattling around in my head 24/7.

What are you working on right now?
I am almost finished with “Stairway to the Bottom,” continuing my Mick Murphy Mystery series. My plan is to get it as an eBook and trade paperback on Amazon for the holiday season.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?
As mentioned, I am almost done with my next book and the ending is a big surprise – or I hope it will be – and ends with a lot of lose ends. I did that on purpose because a follow idea come to me as I thought of the ending. To put it all in one book I’d need to write like Steven King, 1,000 pages. I decided to make it two books.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?
Oh that’s easy, turning on the computer!

Does writing come easy for you?
Now, that’s not so easy. The ideas come easy, making the idea work is difficult. As I said, some days I write 1,000 words and other days 250. Sometimes a whole chapter falls in place and I may exceed the 1,000 and finish a chapter in one day. Other times, getting the words to work is like pulling teeth without Novocaine. But I feel privileged to be able to write and have people read my books. I love it.

What do you like to read?
I read mysteries. Keep up on the competition! I am a firm believer that a writer must be a voracious reader. I learn something from every book I read. Sometimes it’s what doesn’t work, so I don’t make that mistake and other times I learn how to twist a phrase. There’s always a new technique out there.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?
Any book by James Lee Burke! I think Heaven’s Prisoner was one of his best. I would like to have written that or someday have someone compare my work to Burke’s.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Write everyday and read afterwards.

Where can people learn more about your books?
At my website: http://www.michaelhaskins.net and by checking Amazon.

Dan Davis, Hero of “Operation Blinder” by Robert Holt

What is your story?
My story? The adventures, or misadventures, of a Union Navy Covert Operation Team sent to disrupt the communications between a, would be, Dictator, and his Space Fleet. The title of the story is ‘Operation Blinder’.

Who are you?
Chief Dan Davis, United Earth Space Navy.

Where do you live?
Anywhere the Navy sticks me.

Are you the hero of your own story?
A reluctant hero I guess, but my troops are the real heroes.

What is your problem in the story?
My problem is; I hate anything related to war and, unnecessary killing.

Do you run from conflict?
No. I do my job to the best of my ability.

How do you see yourself?
I seldom think about myself, but if you pin me down, I’d have to say, a coward. Not where my duties in the Navy are concerned, but for not standing up to my father.

How do your friends see you?
I don’t have anyone I could call a friend, but those close to me in the Navy think I’m some sort of super hero. Probably because I finish at the top of any class I take. If they knew I take all those classes to avoid being sent into any conflict area, they’d probably have a lower opinion of me.

How do your enemies see you?
By enemies, I assume you mean those passed over for promotions that were given to me? They probably think I’m an arrogant ass, or some nepotism is involved. Although I can assure you Admiral Davis never interferes where his wayward son is involved.

How does the author see you?
I think he must hate me. He keeps putting me in harm’s way.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?
Yes. But there are things about me that even he doesn’t know.

Do you have a goal?
Yes. To get my troops out of this mess alive.

Do you have any skills?
Well, the Navy has taught me a lot of ways to kill my fellow man… does that count?

What do you want?
To be an old man… a live old man. I doubt that will happen.

What do you need?
A beer, but I’ll settle for a cup of coffee.

What do you want to be?
A tea-pot? Just kidding.

What do you believe?
If you’re referring to religion, then ‘nothing’. Too many people have died, and continue to be killed, in the name of some fictional deity.

What are you afraid of?
Letting my troops down. They actually believe I’ll get them through this.

What do you regret?
Not standing up to my father. I never wanted to be in this stupid Navy. I did get back at him… I didn’t apply for Officers Training like he wanted. I signed on as an Able Spacer… the lowest of the low. Unfortunately, because of my ‘abilities’, I’ve risen through the ranks. Now, as Master Chief, lives are in my hands… Officer or not. Did I mention, I hate war?

What, if anything, haunts you?
Not saying ‘No’ to this mission, even if it would have broken my father’s heart to have his son booted out of his beloved Navy, I should have let them do it. I hate this shit.

Has anyone ever betrayed you?
Possibly my mother. She was too busy being a good Officer’s Wife to stand up for me. She knew how I felt, but chose to ignore it.

Have you ever failed anyone?
In my father’s eyes, Yes.

What was your childhood like?
Ever been to Military Boot Camp? That was my childhood. So the answer would be ‘crappy.’

Did you get along with your parents?
You’ve gotta be kidding.

What in your past had the most profound effect on you?
Attending the, Full Military Funeral, of my favorite uncle and asking ‘why?’ That was when I found I hated war.

Who was your first love?
Never had time for love… although I’ve met a great girl here on Gilligan…

Have you ever had an adventure?
Well… this mission has been more adventure than I’ll ever want again. Being saddled with the troops the Navy wouldn’t mind losing… all facing Dishonorable Discharge as I was, plus an AI with an attitude and a sense of humor that I find quite annoying, is bad enough. But the worst part? I am convinced the Navy wanted this mission to fail. I refuse to let that happen. That’s why I changed the orders. I hate to fail.

Was there a major turning point in your life?
I think this may be it.

What is your most prized possession?
Funny you should ask. When I made Master Chief, I was given an engraved coffee cup. I spilled the Champagne out of it when my father mumbled, ‘It could have been Captain Davis.”

What is your favorite music?
I’m partial to an ancient jazz artiest called Brubeck. Ever hear of him? Give his title ‘Take Five’ a listen some time.

What are the last three books you read?
Hummm. Besides The Art of War, I’d have to say Larry Nivin’s Ringworld books.

How do you envision your future?
What future? Unless I can stay here on Gilligan, and out of the Navy’s sight, I don’t see much of a future. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not a deserter. Our orders stated, ‘After destroying The Shah’s Grav-Space Radio, we are to join, or organize, the local resistance’. We ‘are’ the resistance. Letting the Navy assume we died soon after we killed the Shah, is technically not desertion… is it?

Brando Mahr, Hero of “Foul” by John Klawitter

What is your story?
Hello, Pat. My “story”, such as it is,  is the murder mystery novel FOUL by John Klawitter, which is a bit of an 18th century dreadnaught, something of a penny novel and a picaresque, to boot. I’m a struggling Hollywood producer. The year particulates as 1984 and I venture in my mid-30’s. I have long hair and flowing mustachios. Strangers do not trust me, a brief appraisal and swiftly their cool side, a situation I will detail further on. My story is that I have been accused of murdering the pretty blond wife of football ex-great Ripper Brown.

Who are you?
I am called Brando Mahr.

Where do you live?
I pay monthly fee on a bungalow in the west end of the San Fernando Valley.

Are you the hero of your own story?
I am slapdogging to survive it.

What is your problem in the story?
Communication. My verbal skills, while extensive, are not effective. I have not snapped off the life of Ripper’s wife, though she was fetching and indeed (so I have heard) a somewhat ready dutchess.

Do you have a problem that wasn’t mentioned in the story?
Yes. I am an aphasiac-epileptic, the result of close proximity with a massive explosive device. As such, after nearly a decade in the Veteran’s hospital in West Los Angeles, I took my exit, found employ in the bowels of the UCLA library and retaught myself English. Unfortunately the books I read were novels from two centuries ago…that, coupled with my slow conclusion to words, finds me vastly misunderstood.

Do you embrace conflict?
Dear Pat, no one embraces conflict. I am, however, more effective with violent conflict than I seem. In fact, in my old LURP unit I was ticked Earman & The Hands of Death. Earman? Well, my near-death experience left me with hearing beyond excellent, nearly beyond believability.

Do you run from conflict?
My doctor tells me I should run, but it never seems right at the occasion.

How do your enemies see you?
Weird. Slow-witted.

How does the author see you?
The author is my brother-at-arms. I would die for him.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?
He has no choice. Oddly enough, he failed for three years before he found a way to tell my story. Sad cull, that: he actually tried to tell it 1st person narration. And mine self an aphasiac epileptic! Sometimes I felt sorry for him, but he finally did get it right.

What do you think of yourself?
Not long for this world, the sawbones and medicinates inform me. So I try to make every day, every minute count.

Do you have a goal?
I want to be a name in Hollywood. I cognate this may seem impossible to you, but with the writing skills of my Ninja nun pals, and my production experience and strangely effective effect as a film director, I think I have a shot at it.

What are your achievements?
I have directed a batch of commercials. I have held lower rung jobs at several major film factories. AND –Praise be to Plut!- I have just lucked into the assignment of a lifetime, to produce a docu-drama on the life of the greatest of the great, football hall of famer Ripper Brown!

Do you have any special weaknesses?
Alas, the irony. I am a Jacksonian epileptic, meaning that an excess of adrenaline brings on an episode, a seizure, a catastrophe. I have ways to forestall the grim reaper, but they are unpleasant and potentially self-destructive.

Do you have any skills?
I have the attribute of tenacity, though those who do not accumulate joy in my presence deem it stubbornness and a vice.

What do you want?
To prove myself innocent. To find who did her dirty. To find out why.

What do you need?
Just a little more time to follow the clues that nobody else thinks are important. To stay alive…oh, yes, somebody is now trying to dingbat me, and I don’t have a dither perchance.

What do you want to be?
Alive. Successful. Appreciated. Loved.

What do you believe?
I believe ordinary cods and their culls are basically good. Except for the few mundungus bumfiddles of the world. Watch out for the foul fiddles, mate.

What makes you happy?
Being with my fubsy wench, even though I cognate her affection is about as deep as ale swill in the bottom of the glass.

What are you afraid of?
Dying in shame, convicted of a crime I didn’t commit.

What is your most closely guarded secret?
That I need people and want to be loved.

What is your most prized possession?
What is left of my mind.

Name five items in your purse, briefcase, or pockets.
Swiss Army Knife. Toothpicks. A lock pick My wallet artifactual. My wallet regularus. My spare wad of dinero. And I have a sack of widow’s guns in the rear of my motor vehicle, a dreamobile I have named Fifi la Fiat.

How do you envision your future?
Brief, but exciting.