Meet the Author: The Sand Between My Toes by Ailsa Craig

Today we welcome Ailsa Craig as we travel to Far North Queensland to learn how Fairy Rock, dogs, dolphins, a mountaineer, and Scotland Yard relate to the ocean of Alisa’s life. Slip on the hiking boots, or perhaps the beach shoes, let’s begin this voyage …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Ailsa Craig, an actual little island off the West Coast of Scotland. My mother, a Scot, named me after the rock. It has quite a little history and it sits like a large, ominous presence on the horizon overlooking the village of Girvan. It is also called ‘Fairy Rock’ which I can relate to as my mind is constantly running off to places in my imagination where the beauty of magic exists.

I grew up surrounded by books. Every Christmas one of my uncles would give my sisters and I a beautiful picture book which we always managed to get lost in and the prizes at church and school were always story books full of adventure, secret societies or horse stories. One of my loves from a very early age was Africa; I wanted to live in the jungle, ride elephants and live in a village hut – so my first book was about a young village girl called Nada. I loved any books to do with Africa, especially biographies about explorers, their adventures and discoveries etc. thus my love and intrigue about others’ lives and their journeys through life. I haven’t as yet visited any part of Africa on my travels, but do have a close friend in Botswana, who I plan to visit one day. I have though lived for quite a few years in Papua New Guinea.

Another of my loves is romance, the initial bloom of love and the journey it takes you on which led me to my poetry and pouring my heart out in poems from early teens to now.

Growing up in a science and mathematics family, I was always a bit different to my lovely sisters who are very highly sought-after tutors in both these areas. I was more theatrical and studied for awhile with The Melbourne Theatre company youth theatre which I loved – escaping into someone else’s life or feeling the joy of dancing and comedy. However, after never really finding my niche in study at University, I found a great job in a medical college then took time off, packed my backpack and headed off overseas to find my story, which I certainly did. I still love to travel, to talk to interesting others about their lives and see the beauty and magic of another country.

I am a mother of three beautiful children who are spread far and wide and three gorgeous grandchildren all under the age of six. My husband still works in PNG while I live in the beautiful tropics of Far North Queensland and write. I can find a story anywhere; romantic, travel, within nature or in the mountains and seas.

In which genre do you write?

Poetry and life stories.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Well, I’m in my office at the moment and surrounding me are all my happy and inspiring memories – photos of Nepal, the sea, Scotland, musicians I like, my grandies and my children. My guitar sits next to me as well as my dog. This is where I write stories. However, my poetry can come at any time so I carry paper and pen with me to jot down lines that come into my head, then melt into my favourite spot by the window overlooking the garden and put it into poetry. I also write a lot in my head, while walking in the bush or by the sea or wandering through an interesting place with friends – I just hope I remember my thoughts but usually the feeling I come away with is enough to jot it all down.

What are you currently reading?

One of my loves and studies is health and wellbeing – holistic approach to weight management and selfcare, so I’m currently reading a book about hormones.

What would you choose as your spirit animal, mascot, avatar?

I have a lovely gold dolphin I have been wearing around my neck for many years, representing my love of the sea and my love of dolphins; I love their spirit, their spirit of play and connection and freedom.

While fishing with friends in PNG, we were always surrounded by a pod of dolphins – they were beautiful. They would swim beside us, glide through the water and do somersaults around us. One of my friends used to say, it was because of me they would come and have a laugh. Maybe my spirit animal.

But I have always had a dog in my life and by my side and have connected very deeply with each so maybe that’s my mascot.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I am currently studying to better equip myself in helping people become who they want to become. After I qualified in weight management, I started to study mindset, the brain, physiology and exercise/movement etc so that I can honestly help people and know how I can help people.

I have a love of natural foods so am always experimenting with cooking tasty meals and snacks that are truly good for your body. Other than that, when I’m with friends we’ll go somewhere interesting and listen to good music, enjoy a few drinks or find a nice beach to visit and walk.

How do I prepare myself to discuss my book?

I love acoustic guitar so listening to this type of music gets me in mood in such a good way I get excited about discussing anything. I take my mind back to a time and place that meant the world to me and put myself back there so I can pass on that feeling in my voice. Or I might have a swig of whiskey to calm the nerves and get the smile going – only joking, or am I?

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Well I think I have covered that in another question but I will say my month in Nepal was a turning point in my life. I was so fortunate to travel with the inspiring people I was with; they were the best thing to happen to me. The whole journey was physically tough, emotionally all over the place and mentally inspiring from every view I saw, every person I met, my little Nepalese school friend who I adored and adopted me as her friend, the guidance of the Sherpas and our guide, their lives, their families, the simplicity of their lives and the toughness of their lives. It was something I needed and absorbed and I fell head over heels for a mountain climber who inspired so much poetry – it flooded out of me.

One crazy thing I did, with the help of friends, was try to find my mountaineer, so we wrote to Russian, Ukrainian and British mountain climbing groups and sent a photo, hoping to turn a lovely moment into a lovely story, but our efforts were in vain until a Russian mountaineer checked me out on Facebook and then I seemed to attract lots of Russian climbers following me on Instagram – quite amusing really and still not the one I shared a beautiful moment in time with; a moment though which inspired many heartfelt poems.

PNG inspired me for a couple of the same reasons. Becoming a mother to three amazing human beings and a grandmother, that’s crazy and wonderful and to meeting beautiful friends who seem to find a place in your heart and curl up and remain there for a while.

I have also done a couple of unintentional somersaults, one in camp in Nepal which made all the Sherpas run to my aid wondering how on earth it happened – I looked sheepishly at them and said the shoelace from one boot hooked onto the other boot – lucky it wasn’t on the side of a mountain. I won’t go on about the other incident only to say, it was enough to make my daughter go into labour with her gorgeous little son on time and have a quick labour to boot. All these times and many many more, inspire me to write about so many things.

A penguin knocks on your door wearing a sombrero. What does he say to you?

“Excuse me, my name is Pedro, I seem to have had too many tequilas and ended up in this ‘penguin’ suit with your address in the pocket. Do I know you; do we have a date?”

How many published books do you have?

I have just published my fifth book.

What interesting writing quirk do you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I don’t sit down and think I am going to write about this topic today – for some reason, I will hear a word, a sound, a song which will bring me the first lines of a poem, like a memory or vision of something meaningful in my life, that I have to write then and there. There is no rhyme or reason, it just appears in my mind and then on paper; it can be anywhere at any time and a lot of times in the middle of the night or before I go to sleep.

If I try and think too hard about something, it just won’t appear and I don’t like what I write – poetry wise. If I’m writing a story, it’s totally different and I usually get a run on once I get started.

If I could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would love to sit down and chat with so many who have had interesting personal stories. There are many authors that I have read, who have written about their lives and I have felt like I was sitting in the room with them listening to their story, they’re the ones I would love to share a coffee with and just be inspired by their journey whether through life, countries, climbed Everest, reached heights in business or battled illness – I am in awe of them. Too many to name just a few.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

I would be Tinkerbell due to the fact I came from ‘FairyRock’ , love making magical things happen for others, if I can, love her outfit and being in nature and most of the time, wear my hair up like her ..

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

Well I have done many things strange and otherwise over and through my lifetime, some that just happened – like being saved by Scotland Yard after nearly being kidnapped, and other like stories. Chased through the streets of Istanbul because I didn’t want to pay for an uncooked chicken dinner. Been locked up in a windowless room in Spain then learning how to say (in Spanish) I would meet my captor the next weekend for a ‘get together’ if he let me go to meet my friends who were waiting for me and many other stories like this. The best one was my trip to Nepal which captured my heart, found my physical strength, found love, freed my soul and gave me back to myself – this reinspired me to write again and remember and tune into, all of the above and everything that has followed on ever since.

So probably not intentionally strange but all added up to an interesting story that could probably only happen to me because I have been told many times, ‘You certainly attract strange things and people into your life. You have to learn to walk away.’

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

I try to as I feel its very important to close the day with; to write down what you’re grateful for, or wins for the day or accomplishments etc, your feelings.

I think my poetry is a kind of diary because of the messages that seem to come through and remind me of a time or person that have meant so much to me and I have to write about it or them – a bit like a clearing of the mind. It has certainly helped with my books and always takes me on an emotional path while I write what comes to me and I hope this comes through in my verse and is relatable to the reader on some level.

What do you miss about being a kid?

The fun my friends and I had just being ourselves. The imaginary adventures we went on in the back yard which still seem so real, the great friendships, feeling invisible, being able to run and climb without fear and the joy of Christmases and birthdays; so much fun and smiles.

What was the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

I have been watching some pretty heavy shows lately and wanted something light so picked ‘Wine Country’ on Netflix with a cast of some funny ladies. It was very enjoyable, a bit sad too as the women were confronting a few issues we all face and the prospect and freedom of getting older.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

My sensitivity comes into play quite a bit and lets me feel so much and connect to certain elements around me and my friendliness will sometimes lead me down paths I maybe shouldn’t wander but my inner ability to work things out, gets me through somehow. I have very strong intuition which I get from my mother, so more than usually my senses are right and then I have to deal with whatever is occurring both good and bad. This all helps me to write and understand where my writing journey is taking me to and why.

What is your favourite place to visit in your country and why?

Well I guess I would have to say the coast line up here is absolutely beautiful – where the mountains kiss the sea (literally) and the fact that the Great Barrier Reef is all around me with gorgeous little islands dotted here and there. Just a lovely place to sit and contemplate one’s life.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place etc.

Early morning wander or early evening wander along an isolated surf beach, just as the sun is rising so I can greet another day and watch the colours light up the morning sky or watch the sun set and melt into the horizon and know I have lived to see another day through. I would have my camera and dog with me, and, as well as just absorbing the beauty and listening to the waves rolling in and crashing along the shore, I would be snapping away trying to capture it exactly as it is.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My recent poetry book is called ‘The Sand Between My Toes’ and is the fourth book of my series of poetry books representing my journey through many relationships, travel, connection with nature, friendship, sadness and happiness – it is a wander through my emotional memories which have remained in my thoughts and heart or drawn from other’s experiences that I’ve felt deeply about.

It also represents the footprints left behind over the many years included in my writing and the many connections I’ve made as I wander the shoreline in my little world.

Thank you Ailsa for being a part of MTA. Ailsa and I have been “digital” friends for more than a year now. I am blessed by her kindness and friendship, and loving that I got to interview her. She sent me the sweet gift of her book; which I just received upon returning from a trip. I cannot wait to enjoy your beautiful book. Oceans of fairy love to you! –Camilla

Where can we find your book?

It is available on Amazon and most online book seller sites or in my own little bookshop I have at home.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2yIId89

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/31kejUd

AU Amazon: https://amzn.to/2yzkbN4

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Death in Avignon by Serena Kent

Today we welcome Serena Kent as we travel to the Provencal area of the Luberon and a Kentish village near London as we discover how robust English tea, an aardvark, a puffin, the Luberon mountains, trees, David Bowie, and Mary Shelley come together to create the husband and wife writing team of Serena Kent. Grab the lantern and the magnifying glass. Let’s go ….

Serena Kent is the pen name of husband and wife partnership Robert Rees and Deborah Lawrenson. Deborah is a best selling novelist and has had eight novels published previously, including the bestseller The Lantern which was featured in the UK TV series The TV Book Club. Robert Rees, after retiring from the City of London has had one book published, A Season in the Sun.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Robert: I am from the UK and worked for most of my career in the City of London. After finishing with this about 10 years ago, I have been able to concentrate more on the type of work I enjoy, writing music, songs and plays. A few years ago I began to think about writing novels, and after the first was published some three years ago, I and my wife have joined forces to produce a series of cozy mysteries based around the Provencal area of the Luberon, where we have a house. In the UK we live in a Kentish village near London.

Deborah: I’m also British but grew up in various countries around the world as my parents were in the diplomatic service. I worked for some years as a journalist in London while I gathered the courage to write a first novel.

In which genre do you write?

Light humoured murder mysteries.

How many published books do you have?

Robert : Death in Avignon will be my third

Deborah: Death in Avignon will be my tenth

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

Robert: I thoroughly enjoyed writing the local pantomime (words and music) for our village, and it seemed a logical step to move to books, after I had an idea for a novel which became eventually ‘A Season in the Sun’. I have always enjoyed writing, though in the City it was more legal than imaginative.

Deborah: I always wanted to write. I was the kind of child who bought notebooks and set out to fill them with deeply derivative adventure stories that ran out of steam by the third chapter.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

Deborah: I have to earn the cups of robust English tea that fuel my writing by achieving word counts. Tea is the stuff. I have never been able to understand how Fitzgerald and Hemingway can have been so brilliant while drinking strong liquor – I can’t write a decent sentence after just one glass of wine!

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

Robert: An aardvark – I feel sorry for them as they get a pretty bad press and are not chosen nearly enough.

Deborah: A puffin. Puffins are stocky, loyal and vocal at their colonies but silent at sea while they concentrate on their work.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Robert: I particularly like writing at our house in France, on the kitchen table (close to food and wine). It has a low ceiling of provencal beams, a truly magnificent cooking range, and a view out to our garden with the Luberon mountains in the background.

Deborah: I prefer writing in my study in Kent, where the red walls are gradually getting covered in floor-to-ceiling bookcases and my desk faces out onto trees. I love writing through autumn and winter especially on grey, rainy days when the pictures in my head seem to get more vivid.

What are you currently reading?

Robert: The latest Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child , the Life of PG Wodehouse by Frances Donaldson (brilliant) and ‘Guns Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond .

Deborah: Pulse, a collection of masterly short stories by Julian Barnes, the biography of Agatha Christie by Janet Morgan and Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia because I now know that it is based on her own experiences of archaeological digs in Iraq in the 1930s.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Robert: Play the piano and take part in music shows and plays locally.

Deborah: Walk, exercise, have lunches with friends, read, paint, travel.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Robert: David Bowie – and I would ask him how he remembers the words to all his songs (I never can). More seriously I guess, Albert Einstein. I studied science at Cambridge and still find it fascinating.

Deborah: Mary Shelley. If possible, when she was only 20, so I could see for myself what kind of young woman could have written the brilliant and prophetic Frankenstein. I’d also like to warn her that Romantic poets were all very well on paper, but in real life Percy Bysshe Shelley would make a terrible husband.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

Robert: I can occasionally make people laugh out loud.

Deborah: I am extremely and stubbornly determined to achieve what I set out to do.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

Robert:. No, but it is extraordinary how certain events in one’s life are definitely locked away for future use in stories. This is not always conscious, but I do find myself now looking at objects and considering how they could work as murder weapons…

Deborah: I have kept a diary since 1974. It reminds me of all kinds of details and sequences of events, though it’s of no help at all with writing.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Robert: I once had to audition Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie for singing in the Cambridge Footlights Pantomime. Not that I would have dared criticise any of them! Even by then they were outstandingly good and extremely funny.

Deborah: When I was a journalist on the Daily Mail, I once had to ambush the actor Michael Caine on a street near Piccadilly. He was not only very charming and forgiving, but unexpectedly tall for an actor. Proving yet again that one should never judge people before actually meeting them.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

Robert: A glass of rosé (if it is after six o’clock). I tend to listen to music most of the time, so I wouldn’t have any favourite song in particular.

Deborah: I’d join Rob in a glass of rosé and hum something jazz-bluesy.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Robert: Anticipation and the passing of time so slowly. And those wonderful summer parties where we drank lemonade and played games on the lawn until it was quite dark and getting chilly.

Deborah: The sense that anything was possible.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Robert: Not quite a cartoon world, but I always longed to be able to visit Narnia. Talking animals, magic, and that feeling that the side of right would always win.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? 

Robert: They say your characters have a bit of you in them, so I could say any of them, but I do like my main character in my first novel. Henry is a slightly diffident bon viveur who discovers hidden strengths when tested.

Deborah: Hate to say it, but it’s the other way around: there’s a lot of me in Penelope Kite!

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

Robert::I saw Bohemian Rhapsody with Deborah in a rather nice cinema in Apt, a small town near our French house. It was subtitled and so the dialogue was still in English. The actors playing the parts of the Queen group were outstanding – Brian May in particular. It is a great story with a suitably tragic ending and the songs have stood the test of time.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

Robert: ‘Can you hide me? The polar bears are on my tail and the Mexican disguise just hasn’t worked!’

Do you believe things happen for a reason? 

Robert: I do have a certain fatalist element in my make up, and sometimes I feel that there is a karma about us. But most of the world is a mixture of randomness and luck. I remain cautiously optimistic.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Robert: A measure of stubbornness, and an optimistic outlook.

Deborah: Stubbornness has also worked for me, but allied with a romantic nature and belief that eventually most things work out for the best.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Robert: In England it would either be Grasmere in the Lake District, the most idyllic lakeland scene, or standing on one of the London Bridges on a clear night.

Deborah: I’ve always loved the sea and am particularly drawn to the Kent and Sussex coasts, and to Northumberland out of season. Bambrugh with its brooding castle over the beach is spectacular.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

Robert: Beauvallon Bay, the Seychelles, in the dry season, snorkelling mask at the ready to dive down amongst the coral and the fish. With a plentiful supply of Mojitos and a radio broadcasting England thrashing the Australians at cricket.

Deborah: Sanary-sur-Mer in the south of France, in September. A wander around the market, followed by lunch overlooking the port. It’s warm but not stifling, and the perfect time to go along the coast to swim at Bandol. After that, a glass of local rosé at sunset.

Tell us about the book.

It is a sequel to ‘Death in Provence’ and follows our heroine Penelope Kite as she gets caught in yet another web of deceit in Provence. This time the Southern French art world conspires to drag her into the shady underworld of fraud, poison and murder.

Thank you Serena Kent (Deborah and Robert) for being a part of MTA. It was incredibly interesting and inspiring to learn more about each of you. – Camilla

DEATH IN AVIGNON – BOOK BLURB

When Penelope Kite attends a gallery opening on the arm of the gorgeous mayor of St Merlot, her dream life in Provence seems finally to have become a reality.

But beneath the glamour, scandal is brewing. Shockwaves ripple through the art world when a controversial painter, Roland Doncaster, chokes on an almond-stuffed olive.

A tragic accident? Or a ruthless poisoning? Embroiled once more in a murder investigation, Penelope discovers that any number of jealous lovers and scheming rivals could be in the frame. And with dashing art dealers to charm, patisseries to resist, and her own friends under suspicion, Penelope will need all her sleuthing talents to uncover the truth…

Where to find the book.

Death in Avignon (published by Orion in the UK) came out on June 27th and is available in most bookshops and on amazon.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2K8cPqw

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Mzm2K5 

Harper Collins US link to Death in Provence: bit.ly/2X0racY

Instragram link @serena.kent
Facebook @serenakentauthor
Twitter @SerenaKentBooks
Website http://www.serena-kent.com/

Here are some reviews of Death in Provence – our first novel together.

“As scenic murders go, it’s hard to beat the dead man floating in the swimming pool of Le Chant d’Eau, a stone farmhouse hilltop-high in Death in Provence…. Who could resist a vacation in Provence?” (New York Times Book Review)

“Riffing on Peter Mayle and his year in Provence—as well as Alexander McCall Smith and his Ladies’ Detective Agency—this is the first in a breezy mystery series set among the vineyards and olive groves of the Luberon.” (National Geographic)

“Peter Mayle fans will enjoy this first novel and series opener.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Penelope sparkles, turning what could have been a lightweight Shirley Temple into champagne. Although Kent makes no promises, updates on her heroine’s further adventures would be most welcome. “ (Kirkus)

“Charming…. While the quirky characters are enjoyable, it’s the details of the details of Provençal life that will attract armchair travelers, fans of Peter Mayle.” (Library Journal)

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Divine Intervention by Spencer Stoner

Today we welcome Spencer Stoner as we travel to Reno, Nevada USA and learn how doughnuts, Stan Lee, humor, and He-Man inform the game of Spencer’s writing life. Pour the hot chocolate and have a seat ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Spencer Stoner. I live in Reno, Nevada, USA. I was born and raised here, although I did live in Idaho for a few years. I still found my way back here.

I’m forty years old. I love reading novels, comic books, RPG video games, whatever I can get my hands on!

As a writer, the most egregious thing about me, I hope, is that I don’t drink coffee. That seems to be an almost defining trait in the community! But, still, where I lack in caffeine consumption, I make up for in sugar with a love of hot chocolate and doughnuts.

In which genre do you write?

I don’t think that authors should be only allowed to write in only one genre. That being said, most of my published work is fantasy. Although my first published work was a horror short story. Also, I am working on my first science fiction novel.

How many published books do you have?

I have a grand total of five, currently. That is, if you count the anthology novel that my first published short story, On the Way Home, was in (the book is In Creeps the Night, if you’re curious). Three are my Ophelia Legacy fantasy adventure series. In August, my first graphic novel releases, a spin-off of the Ophelia Legacy called Divine Intervention. 1+3+1= equals five, right. I don’t want a chandelier to get shot off the ceiling or something because I am lazy at math! (Anyone who gets the movie reference receives the coveted No-Prize, as made famous by the legendary Stan Lee!)

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’d say it was when I was twelve years old. Several things hit all at once. I had just moved to Idaho and had zero friends in the same time zone. So, I made a kind of oasis in the school library. I discovered the Xanth series of novels by Piers Anthony, which taught me that fantasy didn’t have to always be formal and noble (not to disparage the Lord of the Rings but, for me, it was a bit of a slog because of that). Not to mention that the injection of humor really helped me in those days! For good or ill, I still think puns are the pinnacle of humor.

But what really, figuratively, revved my engine to want to become a writer was when I started reading comics. I fell in love with the work of Chris Claremont, who was writing X-Men at the time. Then I discovered Neil Gaiman and his Sandman series and I was hopelessly hooked to the idea of writing. In fact, I wanted to write comics before I actually wrote my first novel!

Back then the internet wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, so I had no idea how to write a “script”, nor any way I was aware of then to find out. So I started writing short stories. Then I started playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends that came into my life as it moved along. We ended up almost ignoring the source books because we had ended up creating our entire world to adventure in.

Finally, I decided to find out if I could actually write a whole novel. The result of that was Ophelia and Lyan are Dead Meat. I found that I not only had a novel in me, but many, many stories I wanted to tell!

What are you currently reading?

In addition to my monthly rotation of comics, which currently includes titles like Monstress, Unnatural, and Sunstone (as well as Superman and Saga), I recently finished Neil Gaiman’s retelling of norse mythology. Gaiman is always worth reading. I also picked up the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft.

Now, I always thought I had a robust vocabulary but with reading Lovecraft, which never fails to illicit the feeling of existential horror, I’ve come to realize how many words have fallen out of general use in the relatively short time since he was alive! I’ve had to look up more than I care to admit but it is truly an adventure amidst the insanity.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

Thankfully, whenever I’ve had to speak in public, at a convention or other venue, I’ve often had friends and/or family to keep me relaxed before heading out on stage or in front of large group. On those rare occasions where I am alone, I’ll pick some music that never fails to give me goosebumps and pump me up. It can be anything from a movie score like The Anvil of Crom, from Conan the Barbarian by Basil Poledouris, or from a video game like the Sephiroth Choir from Final Fantasy VII by Nobuo Uematsu, or a piece of classic music like Night on Bald Mountain or just about anything by AC/DC.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

When I was really young, I loved the cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (in fact, Teela was one of my first crushes but that is a different story). I think I would like to live there, the mix of magic and sci-fi technology was always interesting to me. Not to mention all the potential for adventure!

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

He’s probably looking for my sister, Kalani. Her obsession with penguins is well known. I would probably be their designated driver when the penguin takes her out for tequila shots!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my first science fiction novel, entitled Dimensional Schism. It is an eclectic mix of the movie Alien Nation, shadow governments, the Mandela Effect, and Harlequin Romance. Anyone who has read any of my stories knows that romance doesn’t come up very often.

Also, I am working on the sequel to my most recent release, which just happens to be the next question so…

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

My first graphic novel, called Divine Intervention, is written by me but drawn by a very talented artist named Stephanie Haigney. It is set in Honua (the same world as the Ophelia Legacy novel series) and follows the story of a young cleric woman named Appelonia. She is recruited by another woman called Narasumas to find a murderer before the turn of the seasons in two days. If they fail, a spiritual force will descend upon the city and destroy everything and everyone (innocent or guilty) until the criminal is punished!

Thank you Spencer for joining us on MTA! Spencer and I met at my daughter, Lillian Darnell’s, Barnes & Noble book signing this past June. It was great fun having him as a neighbor and Lillian enjoyed borrowing from his huge collection of colored sharpies to use for signing books. Take care Spencer and we’ll see you around! –Camilla

BLURB FOR DIVINE INTERVENTION

Narasumas is hunting down a murderer and needs the best tracker in the region. That would be Appelonia—a godless young elf formerly of the Order of Kuan Yin with the uncanny ability to find those who try to hide. She’s familiar with the barren fields in the Land of the Long-toothed Rabbit and knows how to survive.

There’s only one complication. The notorious mercenary Ophelia has already contracted Appelonia to help her search the frozen landscape for an exiled barbarian—and she doesn’t like to share.

But divine intervention won’t wait. And with it comes the destruction of the town and all the innocents living within.

Narasumas must find the criminal she seeks before her promise causes every unwary man, woman, and child unlucky enough to be around her to be torn to pieces…

Divine Intervention is available for pre-order online now but will be available at any bookstore and comic shop (online and physical) officially on tomorrow, August 3rd. I hope you give it a look and want to see more of “Apple” and her friends!

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LSKkyO

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Mu3PgQ

WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Spencer’s website: www.authorspencerstoner.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AuthorStoner
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sjcloudxiii
Instagram: www.instagram.com/sjcloudxiii

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Painted Oxen by Thomas Lloyd Qualls

Today we welcome Thomas Lloyd Qualls as we travel to Northern Nevada USA to learn how building bridges, gryphons, practicing law, and Calvin and Hobbes make the case to support Thomas in his writing life. Grab your paddleboard, let’s go …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a writer, a condition that is apparently incurable. I live in the high desert beauty of Northern Nevada, along with the children’s author Lynell Garfield and our son August. I am a former copywriter, a licensed attorney who has overturned two death sentences, and a one-time vagabond who regularly wandered the globe with a backpack and three changes of clothes.

I’m the author of two novels, the co-creator of several video storytelling projects, and the former owner of a music festival. I am also a sometimes painter and a contributor of essays to Rebelle Society, Wild Heart Writers, and Reno Tahoe Tonight Magazine.

My debut novel Waking Up At Rembrandt’s received national critical acclaim. The Midwest Book Review called it, “an impressive debut novel showcasing an undeniably talented and imaginative author.”

My second novel Painted Oxen was awarded the 2018 Landmark Prize for Fiction and was published April 02, 2019 by Homebound Publications.

In writing, one of my goals is to bridge the worlds of literary and spiritual fiction, adding something new and valuable to the written landscape. With all my creative projects, I work to build bridges between people and to foster positive curiosity about each other and this beautiful crazy world. You can follow my trail of words and other misadventures at www.tlqonline.com.

In which genre do you write?

I write fiction (novels), poetry, and essays. And I sometimes collaborate with other local artists on things that defy category.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I don’t know exactly when the awareness came, but I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. Also, I realized pretty early on I probably wasn’t the type who could have a normal job.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

My whole life is an interesting quirk.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

A gryphon. Because, gryphons.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A cabin with a view, stocked with good food and coffee, a trail to run on nearby, preferably near water.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Run, ride my bike, paddleboard Lake Tahoe, practice law, research the next book, feel guilty about not writing.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

These “favorite” type questions are hard for me. But for contemporary writers I’d pick someone like Neil Gaiman or Jeanette Winterson. Historical figures, I’d pick Rumi or Rilke. I would not want to have preset questions, just an organic conversation.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

Any kind of consistent writing is helpful, whether it is journaling, morning pages, essays, or a blog. All of it keeps the gates open, the flow going.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Definitely Calvin and Hobbes. Because, Hobbes. And also because my life is a little like Calvinball, where I get to make it up as I go.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? 

In some ways I am all of my characters.

Modern lifestyle photographers

Thank you Thomas for being a part of MTA. It was wonderful to learn more about your background and writing life. I’m adding your book to my ‘to be read’ list, sounds wonderful! Plus, I learned something. Now I know about gryphons! HA! –Camilla

Book Blurb

Two men, three realms, one goal: to find the heart of the world.

Painted Oxen is a novel of transcendence, one that not only invites its readers into its story, but somehow enmeshes them in its alchemy, leaving them changed in unexpected ways at its journeys end. Bridging the worlds of ancient Tibet and modern-day India, Painted Oxen weaves a tale of two men—one young, one old—on parallel journeys. Their separate-but-connected pilgrimages are equal parts internal and external.

The old man, a Tibetan monk, is searching for a sacred hidden valley known to bring enlightenment to those who enter it. The young man is backpacking through India, searching for a guru or the love of his life; he doesn’t care which. A mysterious red-haired woman who resembles an ancient goddess appears in a series of dream chapters that tie the two journeys together.

The underlying theme of the novel is the transformation of the human heart, which is required to arrive at any true change in our lives. With its authentic voices, unforgettable characters, and well-crafted story, Painted Oxen successfully bridges the worlds of literary and spiritual fiction, adding something new and authentic to the literary landscape.

You can find Painted Oxen wherever books are sold.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2SUoewG

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2YHgvHS

Painted Oxen by Thomas Lloyd Qualls

Book trailer:

website: https://www.tlqonline.com/

social media links:

https://www.facebook.com/thomas.qualls https://www.facebook.com/authorthomaslloydqualls/ https://www.instagram.com/alchemyofwords/ https://twitter.com/alchemyofwords

Reviews of Painted Oxen from other authors:

Reading Thomas Qualls’ ‘Painted Oxen’ I am reminded of a quote by T. E. Lawrence, ‘All men dream but not equally.’ Qualls’ multithreaded narrative explores the crisscrossed yet meshed realities of the senses, the spiritual quest and the dream realm. The reader is also a select disciple on this pilgrimage and reciting the alchemy contained in these pages is softly and inescapably transmuted at the end. – Poet J. K. McDowell, author of Night, Mystery & Light

Lit by ancient starlight, we follow Thomas Qualls along the sacred river through the heart of India. Reminiscent of Kerouac’s On the Road, we meet fellow travelers seeking transformative knowledge, mercy and grace. Painted Oxen entertains, informs, and delights. –Mark Daniel Seiler, Award Winning Author of River’s Child and Sighing Woman Tea.

Part lyrical prose, part musings of a wandering backpacker, part mystical quest, Painted Oxen is a story of many parts: becoming and unbecoming, seeking and finding, and ultimately, of leaning so far into mystery that falling through to the other side of a dream seems like it might not be so far out of reach. Thomas Lloyd Qualls’ words may be fiction, but they invited me to be more than the reader of a story – suddenly I was part of the story, intent on figuring out what all the layers might mean and accepting the invitation to hold truth and mystery close to the bone as one essential whole. Read it, and embark on a journey that will continue well after the last page. – Heidi Barr, author of Woodland Manitou

What would happen if Paulo Coelho and Alan Watts had a love child? It might look a lot like Thomas Qualls’s new book, Painted Oxen. I am rarely challenged by modern fiction: challenged to keep up, to stretch, to imagine, to feel. Somehow this writer weaves mystery, ancient wisdom, and one hell of a sexy story into a book that makes you wonder, makes you think. -Jacob Nordby, author of Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives

Part travelogue, part dream journal, part meditation, Thomas Lloyd Qualls’ Painted Oxen is less a work of literature than it is a work of alchemy. Dreams and reality mingle here until the reader does not know if they have dreamed the book or the book is dreaming them. – Jason Kirkey, author of The Taste of Water and Stone

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Hear Me Cry by Amanda J Evans

Today we welcome Amanda J Evans as we travel to Co. Meath and discover how a phoenix, Julia Cameron, He-Man, and the Grimm Brothers come together to inspire Amanda’s writing life. Grab your pen and paper. Let’s go ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a 41 (nearly 42) year old Irish writer, living in Co. Meath with my husband, two children, and our dog Max.

In which genre do you write?

I write paranormal and fantasy romance for young adults and adult readers.

How many published books do you have?

I have three self-published books and a number of short stories. I also have some non-fiction and a middle-grade book of short spooky stories, Nightmare Realities, published by Handersen Publishing in the US. Nightmare Realities 2 is due to be published in the fall. I currently have my new novel, Winterland, out on submission with agents.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I think I was probably about 7 or 8 when I discovered my passion for writing and spent my time filling copybooks with stories and new episodes for whatever cartoon or TV show I was watching at the time. I wrote my first book at 9, The Little Elf Fairy, complete with illustrations and my parents had it typed and printed out for me. I also have very fond memories of writing a book called Ghostbusters in Mar 🙂

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I like to do things old school with pen and paper and I never plan or even know what I’m going to write until I pick up my pen. I have a funny little thing I like to do before I start writing and that is to say to myself, “Okay, let’s go.”

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I think I’d choose a phoenix. Someone who rises from the ashes to continue to fight for another day.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I currently write in my home office but if I could write anywhere in the world, I’d love to write on a wraparound porch in a rocking chair looking out over a lake with a forest and mountains in the background. It would have to be somewhere warm too. I love the idea of sitting in nature and allowing my stories to develop.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading VE Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows. I’m a little late getting to these as I spend a lot of time reading ARCs for other writers. At the moment I’m reading an advanced copy of The Witch Who Courted Death by Maria Lewis.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I love to watch crime series on Netflix with my husband, and if I’m watching alone it will be something like Shadowhunters, The Chronicles of Shannara, or some other fantasy or sci-fi series. I love to go out to eat and of course scroll through social media to see what’s happening in the world. I’m very much a family person so most of my free time is spent with my children and husband.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’ve always loved the idea of sitting with Roald Dahl, L Frank Baum, Hans Christian Andersen, or the Grimm Brothers and talking about their stories and the inspiration behind them.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I love being surprised. I tend to let the story unfold by itself and there have been many times where I’ve literally dropped my pen and gasped at something I’ve written. A character has done something so unexpected and I’m shocked. I’ve also learned that regardless of whatever happens, I am at peace and happiest when I’m writing. It does something to me, destresses, relaxes, and makes me feel alive.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot or to help you remember something if writing a memoir?

I can’t think of anything off hand. I tend to write my books as if I’m watching a movie in my head. There have been times where I’ve talked out loud to myself, but nothing unusual.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

I journal every morning to clear out my brain so as to speak. I developed the habit after reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She talks about morning pages and I do this every morning. I usually tend to write about what I have planned for the day, what worked out well the day before, and quite boring stuff. Sometimes I will write about how I’m feeling. I think it helps to clear my mind and thoughts and leave me free to concentrate on writing.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

I have to say, I’m a very boring person and I don’t tend to do a lot of crazy things. The most inspiring things for me are messages from readers and reviews for my books. I’ve received some wonderful messages from people and my mother loves to tell me about people who meet her on the street and remark about how great my books are. I tend to think I’m invisible, but little things like this make me smile and inspire me to keep going.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

Song wise, I’d have to say, Christina Agulera’s Fighter. It’s motivating and would remind me how hard I’ve fought to get where I am. In other preparation, it would be deep breaths and telling myself I can do it.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I miss the sense of wonder, the belief in magic, and not being afraid of anything. I miss the naivety of childhood, of having my father as my hero and always knowing that I could do and be anything I wanted.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

I’d probably choose He-Man or The Gummie Bears because these remind me of times when I was happiest, carefree, and hadn’t experienced the torture and sorrow that death brings. I also loved how these cartoons were all about the power of good over evil something which tends to play out in my books.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? If you write non-fiction or memories, what fictional character would you invite into your story and why?

This is a tough one. I’m torn between Kate or Drake from my novel Save Her Soul. Kate because she’s determined and strong and believes in seeking justice. If I were her for a day, I’d enjoy sneaking around gathering evidence, and generally being a bad ass. If I choose Drake, I’d enjoy moving between worlds, being able to hide in plain sight and snoop on everyone.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

The last movie I watched was Avengers Endgame. My daughter was adamant we were going to see it in the cinema.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

“Time to go, you’re needed.” A fantasy realm is under attack and they need their long lost hero (me) to come and save them.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I do. I believe everything has a reason, both the good and the bad things that happen to us. They often show us different aspects of ourselves and in many cases how strong we are. My father’s death destroyed me, but it has helped me to portray grief in my stories and share the emotions of my characters.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I’m very stubborn and I don’t give up if I believe something is right. I’m also a big softy and a romantic and all of these traits help with my writing. My stubbornness has seen me learn new things because I have to know how something works and how to do everything.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

I’ve always loved Glendalough in Co. Wicklow. It’s serene and beautiful with amazing walks. I also love going to the beaches in Co. Wexford.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

A secluded beach with caves and sand dunes in the early morning with the sun just breaking the horizon. It would have to be summer and I’d have a notebook and pen and relish the quiet time to write, walk, and explore. Perhaps even spot a mermaid or two.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent novel is titled Winterland and is currently out on submission with agents. My last published book is Hear Me Cry, published on the 16th May 2018. This is a fantasy romance retelling of the Irish legend of the Banshee and it won the Book of the Year Award at the Dublin Writers Conference 2018.

Thanks Amanda for stopping by MTA! It was wonderful to learn more about you and your style of writing. I’m a huge Julia Cameron fan and journal write (along with writing morning pages nearly every morning). I find it incredibly helpful! –Camilla

Hear Me Cry Blurb:

A forbidden love, a torturous curse, and a loss so great it destroys.

Isla is a warrior of the Summer Court. She has one mission, to keep humans out of Faery. Kill them on sight. When she inadvertently saves one and triggers the mating bond, her life changes forever.

On the run and hiding from her own people, Isla must protect the one thing she’s been trained to hate. With magic now flowing through her veins, she must learn to control it if she is to survive.

The faery are coming. Her once commander leads the charge. Will Isla be ready in time? Can she harness her magic and resist the darkness?

As both sides clash, Isla learns that her kind possesses a cruelty she could never have imagined. Her loyalty will be tested. To save the one she loves, she must give up everything, including her life as she knows it.

Find out how the banshee came to exist in this dark fantasy retelling of an old Irish myth.

Praise for Hear Me Cry

“A fabulous, mystical read with an unforgettable ending.” Claire Allan Author

Where to find the book.

Hear Me Cry is available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and is free to read with KindleUnlimited.

Hear Me Cry Universal Link: https://mybook.to/hear-me-cry

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2SOdgZt

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GyKE1K

Connect with Amanda: 

Website:http://www.amandajevans.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/amandajevanswriter

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/amandajevans

LinkedIn: http://ie.linkedin.com/in/amandajevans/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ajevanswriter/

Books By Amanda J Evans

Hear Me Cry – A Fantasy Romance Novella
Winner of the Book of the Year – Dublin Writers Conference 2018
Amazon: https://mybook.to/hear-me-cry

Save Her Soul – A Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance
Virtual Fantasy Con Awards 2017 Silver Award for Best Paranormal Book
Amazon: http://myBook.to/SaveHerSoul

Finding Forever – A Romantic Suspense Novella
Summer Indie Book Awards 2017 Winner for Best Thriller
Amazon: http://myBook.to/Finding-Forever

Surviving Suicide – A Memoir From Those Death Left Behind
Amazon: https://myBook.to/survivingsuicide

Nightmare Realities – Spooky Short Stories for Ages 9-16
Amazon: https://myBook.to/nightmare-realities

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Book Shelf: Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change

Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron

Another great book! I always find such meaningful content in Pema Chodron’s books. – “Living Beautifully”

“Let the power of your emotions open you up … Take your seat in the middle of your home ground and rouse your confidence – your innate capacity to open to your experience.”

Book Information:

Is it possible to live well when the very ground we stand on is shaky? Yes, says everyone’s favorite Buddhist nun, it’s even possible to live beautifully, compassionately, and happily on shaky ground—and the secret is: the ground is always shaky. Pema shows how using a traditional Buddhist practice called the Three Vows or Three Commitments, offering us a way to relax into profound sanity in the midst of whatever non-sanity is happening around us. Just making these simple aspirations can change the way we look at the world and can provide us with a lifetime of material for spiritual practice.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2SRLL1q

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Yoio7P

Meet the Author: Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom by Kerry McDonald

Today we welcome Kerry McDonald as we travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts and learn how Dale Carnegie, sipping local craft beer, and limitless human creativity inform the policies of Kerry’s writing life. Make sure the laptop is charged and let’s go …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Senior Education Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019). My articles have appeared at Forbes, Newsweek, Reason, NPR, Education Next, City Journal, and Natural Mother Magazine, among others.

I’m a Board member at the Alliance for Self-Directed Education and a co-founder of AlternativesToSchool.com. I’ve got a B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College and an M.Ed. in education policy from Harvard University. I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts with my husband and four children.

In which genre do you write?

Education/parenting

How many published books do you have?

3

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I would love to say that I have a quiet spot and a special desk and a dedicated mug of coffee to trigger my creative writing, but the truth is that as a mom of four unschooled children who also does public policy work, I write whenever and wherever I can. I bring my laptop with me as often as possible and seize any quiet—or loud!—moment to write.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished reading Rich Karlgaard’s new book, Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed With Early Achievement. The longtime publisher of Forbes, Karlgaard offers a refreshing view on parenting, education, and career success, arguing that our societal push toward early achievement may be causing all of us unnecessary angst. He suggests that a longer, more personalized time horizon for learning and career may be preferable, as we gain perspective, skill, and wisdom.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I am cooking, cleaning, and connecting my children to the many community resources tied to their interests. I also enjoy reading, listening to podcasts, jogging, and sipping local craft beer on the front porch with my husband after the kids go to sleep.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

The book that has probably had the most meaningful impact on my life is Dale Carnegie’s bestseller, How To Win Friends and Influence People, so I would definitely have coffee with him. I read it as a teenager and its timeless message of self-empowerment has stuck with me. I find that it informs much of my own writing and speaking, as I think of how to communicate my message persuasively to an audience, as well as help others to tap into their own sense of personal agency.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

The most surprising things I’ve learned is that motherhood makes me a very efficient writer and that human creativity is limitless. Parenthood focuses us squarely on organization and output, which has helped my writing tremendously.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

I recently had an article of mine at the policy think tank where I work, FEE.org, go viral, with over one million page views and counting. It was an incredible experience to know that my message—which in this article focused entirely on parental empowerment and parental choice in education—reached so many parents and educators around the globe. That was both inspiring and humbling.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I started working on my Unschooled book several years ago, and was frustrated that it was taking so long. In hindsight, I realize that the timing was perfect. During those years, I fine-tuned my writing skills by publishing frequent articles in both mainstream and niche media sites, built more relationships with individuals and organizations that are featured in the book, generated a much more robust platform on social media and elsewhere, and found an incredible literary agent who was able to sell my book to a great publisher in just a few weeks. Once everything came together, it was clear that this book was meant to arrive now and not a minute sooner.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I’ve long thought that my best personality trait is execution, or the ability to get things done. That is very helpful as a writer, meeting multiple deadlines, and as a parent, managing the different needs of four lively children.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

I spend a lot of my time in Atlanta where the think tank I work for is located and I have really fallen in love with the South. As a lifelong New Englander, there is something special about southern warmth—emanating both from its people and its climate.

Thank you Kerry for joining us on MTA. I am an unschooling mom of two, so I cannot wait to read your book! My oldest just graduated as an unschooler and the youngest is headed into the high school years. It was wonderful to learn more about you and your writer’s life. –Camilla

Where we can we find the book:

Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom is available wherever books are sold,

either at your local bookstore https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781641600637

or on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JU8mWP

or directly through the publisher, Chicago Review Press https://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/unschooled-products-9781641600637.php?page_id=21

Connect with Kerry:

Follow her on Twitter @kerry_edu

Facebook and Instagram @wholefamilylearning

Her blog: WholeFamilyLearning.com

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft

Today we welcome Sue Moorcroft to Meeting the Authors as we travel to Kettering and learn how Malta, primary school, twitter, and writing retreats impact Sue’s writing life. Get ready, let’s board this helicopter …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Kettering, Northamptonshire, England but I was born in Germany because we were an army family and spent much of my childhood in Malta and Cyprus.

In which genre do you write?

Commercial fiction. A lot of readers call it chick lit or rom-com, although I think it’s more ‘the occasional witty line’ than ‘com’. Sometimes it’s called women’s commercial fiction but I hate to exclude men. Rude.

How many published books do you have?

A Summer to Remember is my fourteenth published full-length novel but it looks more as there are one novella and several stories that were magazine serials but are now novella-length ebooks. There’s also a writing guide.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

In infant school, I realised that someone had to create the stories that I loved and vaguely wanted to be that person. When I was eight or nine I used to create my own ‘books’ – about five pages long, with a badly drawn cover. I was in the final year of primary school when my teacher told me one day there would be novels on the shelf with ‘Sue Moorcroft’ on the spine. I set out to prove him right.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

A Summer to Remember came from a tweet. It was about a guy who shared an intimate meeting with a woman and forgot to switch off his conferencing software. The image with the tweet wasn’t explicit but it was pretty obvious what was going on! I admit that my first reaction was to laugh. But then I began to think about it. The man was in a suit so was he at work? Was the woman a colleague? Were they cheating on partners? Did his employer get to know? Did it embarrass them? Did it affect his/her career? Answering these questions but making the situation backfire on the wrong person gave me the opening of the book.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I read a lot! I love Formula 1 and watch its TV coverage. I like Zumba, Dancefit, FitStep and yoga, hanging out with family and friends. And then there’s all that cooking and shopping stuff to get through.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

That I will keep going through rejections and disappointment. That writing isn’t a job or a hobby – it’s a compulsion.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

Writing retreats! I used to think they were an excuse for a jolly until I was invited to work on one. I could not believe how much work I got done with no gym and no social or domestic responsibility. Now I regularly head up writing retreats for Arte Umbria in Italy and love the mixture of intensive work and other creative people to chat with over meals and in the evenings. I’ve been lucky enough to join friends on a retreat at the home of one of them and even taken myself off alone to Malta to enrich next year’s summer book by being in the country of which I’m writing.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

Been in a pretend helicopter crash. In Just for the Holidays Ronan is a helicopter pilot recovering from a broken collar bone after a forced landing. It’s called ‘autorotation’ and something helicopter pilots practice routinely, pitching the rotor blades so that they can get the craft down more-or-less in one piece, a bit like the way sycamore seeds whirl to earth. A helicopter pilot took me up and demonstrated the art. You come down from two thousand feet pretty quickly and it’s awesome.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

I read the relevant pages to myself over a cup of tea. I remind myself about not speaking too quickly and about trying to make eye contact with the audience at intervals.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Living in Malta.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

When an agent reaches out to you, there’s a reason. Follow it up.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Stubbornness, because it took twenty years to be an overnight success but I didn’t give up. I wrote short stories, serials, columns and writing how-to alongside my novels. I taught creative writing, appraised manuscripts and judged fiction competitions. I did what it took to get where I wanted to be and I don’t regret it – but it was tough.

Tell us about your most recent book.

A Summer to Remember is set in a tiny seaside village with little access to the internet. Clancy escapes there when her life in London implodes without really considering what it will be like to live in a close community when her cousin Alice jilted one of its members six years ago. Lee is the brother of Aaron de Silva and the relationship of Aaron and Clancy consists of one hot kiss, one blazing row and six years of stilted emails. Lee’s just come back to the village in a fragile emotional and mental stage. Aaron’s feeling protective. The reunion of Clancy and Aaron doesn’t get off to a promising start.

Thank you Sue for joining us on MTA. It was incredibly interesting to learn more about your background and writer’s lifestyle. And, now I want to attend a writer’s retreat!! –Camilla

A Summer to Remember blurb:

COME AND SPEND SUMMER BY THE SEA!

WANTED! A caretaker for Roundhouse Row holiday cottages.

WHERE? Nelson’s Bar is the perfect little village. Nestled away on the Norfolk coast we can offer you no signal, no Wi-Fi and – most importantly – no problems!

WHO? The ideal candidate will be looking for an escape from their cheating scumbag ex-fiancé, a diversion from their entitled cousin, and a break from their traitorous friends.

WHAT YOU’LL GET! Accommodation in a chocolate-box cottage, plus a summer filled with blue skies and beachside walks. Oh, and a reunion with the man of your dreams.

PLEASE NOTE: We take no responsibility for any of the above scumbags, passengers and/or traitors walking back into your life…

GET IN TOUCH NOW TO MAKE THIS A SUMMER TO REMEMBER!

About Sue Moorcroft:

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary, and has been nominated for several other awards, including the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards.

Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared all over the world.

Part of an army family, Sue was born in Germany and lived much of her childhood in Malta and Cyprus before setting in the UK.

Where to find the book:

Apple iBook: buy

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2lFEKEd

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2keeuQU

Kobo: buy

Twitter: @SueMoorcroft

Facebook: SueMoorcroftAuthor/

Instagram: @SueMoorcroftAuthor

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Seacity Rising by Elika Ansari

Today we welcome Elika Ansari to Meeting the Authors as we travel to Dubai, and ten other countries, and learn what a turtle, yoga, Masters Degrees, and Dexter’s Laboratory have to do with Elika’s writing journey. Grab your yoga mat and get comfy ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a writer, social scientist, and humanitarian professional. Other than writing my book, I have spent the past few years working in refugee camps across Greece, trying my best to lend a hand in bringing some semblance of normality to people whose lives have been turned upside down by international policies and politics. I love education and learning, and therefore have a small ‘collection’ of Masters degrees in the fields of International Relations, Anthropology, Development Studies and Cultural Narrative Studies from 4 different universities in Europe, and will soon be wanting to pursue my Ph.D. studies.

As to where I am from: I am of Iranian origin, born in Dubai, grew up in Europe, namely in Spain and the UK. I have lived in over 10 countries worldwide (so take your pick!), which is cool but at the same time perhaps a little overwhelming. At this point in time, I am spending the summer vacation with my family in Dubai.

My first book, Seacity Rising, was published by Black Rose Writing on June 6th, 2019 and is being distributed worldwide.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

A turtle, because they are such calm and spiritual creatures. I feel zen just by looking at one resting on a rock. But at the same time, I think they have a dimension of adventure that I feel only comes out when they are not being watched.

What are you currently reading?

‘Tuesdays at the Castle’ by Jessica Day George. It is an uplifting fantasy story about a castle that changes itself sporadically and three royal siblings trying to protect their kingdom from invaders. Enjoyable for both kids and adults alike.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I’ve been doing humanitarian work in refugee camps across Greece for the past two years. At the moment though, I am on a break, dedicating more time to writing, studying, and just being with my family.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I have lived in over 10 countries worldwide.
Yoga gives me peace of mind.
I sing sometimes.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Tahereh Mafi, author of the Shatter Me series. I don’t really have any questions in mind, I just wanted a chance to tell her how inspiring and unrestrained I found her writing style to be. It’s commonplace to fall in love with a story, but falling in love with a style; that for me, is rare.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Summers, where my creativity was unleashed. I would create comic books, write up stories on my typewriter (yes, I had a typewriter XD), draw designs of theme parks, come up with songs and poems, ‘invent’ cleaning products, you name it. Every summer, I would undertake a different creative project, which made going back to school in September all the harder.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Dexter’s Laboratory, because I immensely enjoyed both Dexter’s and Didi’s worlds. Dexter was always working on nifty inventions which I would have loved to witness from up close, and Didi (whenever she was not messing with Dexter), was in her pink haven, playing on her own or with her friends and just being Didi.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?

I would want to be Lo the turtle because it would be so cool to be the princess of Seacity Pond for the day. As Princess of Seacity I would mark an Earth Day, where all Seacitians would be instructed to volunteer to help clean Dark End, the part of Seacity pond where garbage keeps piling up and everyone except for Babak the frog seems to avoid.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

“Ms. Elika Ansari? Author of Seacity Rising?”
“Yes?”
“I came as fast as I could. The glaciers are melting, and the penguins are all drowning. The animals in your book were right. The black smog is consuming our world; it is real and it is happening right now. We need to do something. Can you help?”

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘Seacity Rising: A Tale of Unwatery Adventures’ is the first in a trilogy series, which touches on themes of friendship, self-development, trust, diversity, displacement, and climate change, as well as other important ideas that children (and adults!) should be familiar with.

Imagine your world is so incredibly small and sheltered, that you can only begin to fathom murmurs of adventures abroad in storybooks and legends of old. It may be a dull life, but it is certainly a familiar and comfortable one, and one that does not easily invite danger. That is, of course, until danger appears at your doorstep, and you are forced to leave your home behind searching for answers on how to save it.

Thank you Elika for joining us on MTA. It was incredibly interesting learning about your journey thus far. May our paths cross again at some point! –Camilla

Book Blurb:

When the underwater creatures of Seacity pond learn that their home is in danger, they decide to investigate further by doing something no one has ever done before – go up to land to seek the answers they need. An unlikely team of two royal turtles, a genius goldfish and a timorous frog are then assembled to embark on a series of adventures. Whether they are racing the fastest tortoise on earth, falling in love with native mice theatre, or bringing peace to warring ant colonies, each unique experience is taking the group
of friends closer to the heart of what is really going on. But will they make it back in time to save Seacity before the Winter’s Slumber?

Where to find the book:

Seacity Rising is available on Amazon, Waterstones, Blackwells, Foyles, Barnes and Noble, Thrift Books, and others!

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2lnRpvt

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2jShBy3

Website / Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.elikaansari.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/elikaansari/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19226072.Elika_Ansari

Instagram page: @elikaansari

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryam-elika-ansari-56b5685b/

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Becoming One With The Universe by Al Duncan

Today we welcome Al Duncan to Meeting the Authors as we travel to Dunedin, New Zealand and learn how a wolf, an owl, John Lennon, and The Himalayas align to inspire the story of Al Duncan. Grab your travel gear and let’s go ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Life has been a very colorful experience to date. I’ve amazed myself by fulfilling a dream of becoming a self-published author of a book that resonates with so many. Even if they haven’t purchased it, the comments I receive on my author page are amazing. https://www.facebook.com/alduncanauthor1/ 

Looking back life has been an incredible, yet challenging journey which has given me the gift of not only believing in myself but also the ability to write from the heart. Even to the extent that many believe my writings are divinely guided.

I love the beach and am blessed to live directly opposite a beautiful beach in a quaint little beach house in Dunedin, New Zealand. I have worked in a myriad of positions from managing bars to Mentoring Youth, to saving the World with Greenpeace. All of it has lead to a purposeful point in life of creating a fulfilling lifestyle.

In which genre do you write?

Nonfiction. Inspiration. Spiritual.

How many published books do you have?

One at this stage. “Becoming One with the Universe – Inspirational Reminders, Signs and a Story”

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I was blessed to cross paths with a very wise soul who truly taught of the magic of unconditional love. Unbeknown to me, my soul had enrolled me on a spiritual apprenticeship spanning 20 years. When my mentor tragically departed, a knowing spark eventually arose insisting the wisdom and knowledge be shared. It was like being handed a “baton of light”. It was up to me whether I chose or even had the courage to run with it.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I tend to become obsessed with my writing. It becomes 24/7 and everything I do revolves around it. Hence why it’s has been nice to have a break. I’m blessed to be able to write at the drop of a pen. Inspiration may flash through my mind at any time; hence my belief that there is no such thing as writer’s block. The flow comes and goes. When it goes, it’s simply time to rest and enjoy life in other ways.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

The wolf and the owl. The owl for its wisdom and the wolf for its incredible survival instincts.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My ideal working space is varied. A lot of my writing I have done in South East Asia and Western Australia. So anything from a beach setting with an iced coffee, or hidden away in a little guesthouse room typing, formatting and editing away to all hours.  Ideally, I’d like a cool comfy funky chair that I can spin around full circle in for fun. A desk would be handy. And a fantastic view of nature for inspiration or so I can happily procrastinate.

What are you currently reading?

Haha well, funny one. I’m reading my own book for the first time from the perspective of a reader. I want to check out what this Al Duncan dude has got to say!

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

In the last 5 years, I have traveled throughout South East Asia and Nepal. I love exploring new places and discovering and interacting with new cultures. Right now, I’m in recharge mode back in New Zealand. Deciding on my next move in life and trusting the process, as well as integrating all that I have experienced in the last few years. And lots of nature hits!

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would love to sit, laugh and chat with the Dalai Lama. Cups of tea and biscuits shooting the breeze. Ahhh yes! I would ask him what his innermost thoughts were on the state of the world. What his beliefs are around humanities ability to turn it all around, and live the ultimate purpose of living as One. John Lennon would pop in to sing “Imagine”. And Bob Marley would sing “One Love” to end our time together.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

Hmmm, that’s a good one. Discipline. Wow yes, I’m a master of discipline now! Determination. Self-belief. And, how I overcame the many times I wanted to give up on it all. Also, as my numerology suggests I really do have inner gifts.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Inspiring …hmmm.  A 16-day expedition high into the Himalayas. 5100 meters. Stepping back in time to what the modern world has long forgotten. And the incredible experience of living one of the greatest analogies. The art of living life and fulfilling our dream one step at a time.

I experienced altitude sickness on the Larke Pass. The guide having observed our team for the last 9 days made the decision I had the inner strength to go the distance. I recall him taking a triumphant photo of me in front of Tibetan pray flags on the highest point. I was smiling; however, I was also well aware I had 9 hours of trekking through a snowy unforgiving wilderness. I could literally feel each step I took for the rest of that day. The insights were incredible in hindsight.

The absolutely amazing courage the human spirit has when faced with adversity is mind-blowing.  To the extent that when we recall these times, they are sometimes the greatest reminder that we are divine beings and capable of anything when we utilize our minds for its true purpose.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

Well, firstly I get nervous, hehe Following this is a process of finding my mojo and being in the zone. I surprise myself as to how I come across. I was recently interviewed by Mike Dooley, live on Facebook. That was a first! Yes, one of the dudes that were featured in “The Secret”. I also woo-hoo and jump around a bit to get my energy levels up. And if possible, a stroll in nature works wonders.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Life was simpler. Yet being a grown-up is almost a blessing in that we become aware we are at choice in whatever we do with life. And, anyway, my inner kid is still alive. I was scuffing through autumn leaves the other day in the park and woohoo-ing on a swing. I’m still a big advocate of a simple life.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

I can’t recall the name of the last one I watched. But a recent one was “A Dog’s Purpose”. The storyline was heart-warming, as well as tear evoking. I love inspiring movies. Put a dog in it, and it’s a must!

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

Yup Al, I chose you as I’ve learned not too many people would believe that penguins can talk. We in the penguin kingdom know you believe we can fly! Yes, one of our angelic penguins was the inspiration behind your children’s penguin book. The sombrero you ask Al? The Galapagos bro!

Tell us about your most recent book.

Becoming One with the Universe. Is just that. A process of becoming the most authentic version of ourselves. I would say for want of a better phrase it’s a self-development book with a difference. It has been referred to as what will become a reference book for years to come. My story of becoming is a part of the book. This is something I didn’t want to include, however, there was an intuitive insistence that this would offer the reader a more authentic and greater understanding of the content, concepts, insights, and inspiration shared.

A final word from Al …..

I am currently excitedly working on a new book. This book will have a different style but still packed full of inspiration, insights, fun, and intrigue. It’s an adventurous story of becoming, with an intriguing storyline based on a solo travelers insights with the intention to inspire people to go for their dreams. I also have a children’s book ready to go. I just need the right illustrator to cross paths with.

Thank you Al for joining us on MTA. It was beautiful learning more about your story and writing life. Al and I have known one another for more than a year and I’m so happy I was able to interview him. He is a deeply beautiful and kind human! Blessings to you Al! – Camilla

Extracts of a few key phrases from online reviews. (There are also many more on my author page.):

I found it a delightful read, thoughtful, entertaining, enlightening and REAL.

An amazing, amazing life transforming book. The best part of this book is the simplicity and ease with which Al ignites the readers’ minds. A must must read.

Within the pages of this beautifully written book, you will discover some of the most heart- warming and authentic words. Al will take you on a journey of self-discovery that is so comforting and puts your heart at peace.

This book has offered the best cognitive enlightenment I’ve received from the universe yet.

If you are on a spiritual journey, please read, re-read, reopen any page at any time and you will always find some very inspirational ideas, in such a depth, and with so much truth, that it all makes sense. This book, my bible, makes you think, question,realize, smile… and anything in between… such unique and beautiful writing!

Al’s humor shines in his writing, even with the darker subjects like death, I get a sense of peace.

Love it! It is one of the most inspirational books that I have read in a long time.

No matter what stage in life you are, this book will certainly be a keeper!

Beautiful and uplifting on so many levels. Comforting but at that same challenging. Familiar but giving depth and inviting the reader to ask the questions of oneself.

Where will you find “Becoming One with the Universe”?

Only a tap or seven away. Pretty much most online bookstores around the world. Shop around. Some have great discounts. Remember its 728 pages. Read it all or happily open any page for an answer to a question.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2jUsGhP

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2jVUfaH

Australia Amazon: https://amzn.to/2llsDMv

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee