Friday with Friends: What’s More Satisfying than Doughnuts? – Spencer Stoner

Happiness, Satisfaction, or Doughnuts?

I’m a writer. That’s what I do. Three novels and one comic, along with a random seasoning of short stories can attest to that.

Over this last year, thanks to the extra time… given… to us by the world’s health scare, I have started three new novels and been endlessly editing another comic. Does that sound productive?

Don’t be too impressed. There is a reason I used the word “started” and not “finished”. Despite having extra time, I have actually found it more difficult to focus on my work.

I don’t think I’m alone here. Since I was given the opportunity to write this article, I have even been putting it off. I started to ask myself, “Self, why are you being so lazy?”.

“Well, lazy isn’t completely accurate,” myself replied. Then what is the best way to describe it?

It all comes down to why I do what I do, why you do what you do, what we do what we do. Ultimately, it’s because all of us want to be happy.

I don’t mean the just momentary, smiling wide happy like I get from eating doughnuts. I think I’m being inaccurate again.

A better word than “happy” may be “satisfied”. Getting what you want from the results of your actions. (Again, eating doughnuts may apply here but your waistline would likely argue.)

So what haven’t I been getting from my writing over the last year that I had been getting the years before? Oddly enough I think that, in the lonely work of writing, I found satisfaction in the interacting with people.

It started with the people in my head (who I have always thought were more interesting than I am). Then it became introducing them to people at book launches, signings, and conventions. That was the part that has been missing for the last year.

Several months ago, I joined an organization called the Fraternal Order of Eagles. “People helping people” was right on the sign in front of the building. It is a fine group of people I highly recommend you check out when you have a moment.

What does this have to do with anything I have talked about thus far? It will all come together in a moment.

The Eagles often run fundraisers for local charities. A short time ago, they were looking for ideas to do just that.

That was when I had a two birds with one stone moment. Okay, that may not be the best analogy in a group called Eagles but we’ll just go with it.

I remembered really enjoying going to conventions, talking to people, introducing them to my characters and their stories. I also remembered that it was a decent part of my income, selling the books I wrote that introduced said people to those that lived in my head.

And the Eagles meet in a nice, wide open building. Could we actually hold a convention there? It would be a small one (it’s a meeting hall and not a convention center, after all) to be sure, but it would be a chance to interact with people again!

It would also make money for a local charity. In this specific case an organization called Solace Tree. They provide grief counseling for children, teens, and adults. Truly a worthy goal, I hope you would agree.

Remember that “people helping people” thing? The Fraternal Order of Eagles thought a convention was a good idea. But wouldn’t holding a convention be kind of self serving then?

Well, as I have been asking people in the community if they will come to the convention that we have come to call Aerie-Con, I have been pleasantly surprised at the enthusiasm that they have shared at the idea of a new convention coming to town.

So, is Aerie-Con self serving? In all honesty, I would have to say yes. But, after all, I am people, too! There is nothing that says you can’t enjoy yourself while trying to do some good in the world.

Actually, raising funds for Solace Tree is the stated goal of Aerie-Con but it is more than that. Humanity, no matter how nerdy or introverted, is still a social creature. So the convention is also bringing people together and this brings us back to the two birds with one stone!

To synopsize: in deciding to try and make others happy, I am finding myself becoming happier as well.

Maybe that’s the secret. If you want to be happy, try making others happy. It’s even more satisfying than doughnuts.

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You can find out more about Spencer, as well as links to his books, on his website: www.authorspencerstoner.com

Aerie-Con will be held on August 20-21, 2021. You can find the event page on Facebook here:

https://facebook.com/events/s/aerie-con-2021-presented-by-th/1852143874993190/

To see Spencer Stoner’s previous interview on MTA, go here:

Meet the Author: Divine Intervention by Spencer Stoner

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Friday with Friends: Embracing Change – M.J. Mallon

Thank you for inviting me to your blog Meeting the Authors for a Friday with Friends chat Camilla, it is such a delight to be here again.

I have a new release, or should I say rerelease!

My debut novel has been re-released with Next Chapter Publishing, Bloodstone The Curse of Time #1. This YA Fantasy novel is primarily prose but each chapter starts with a short poem, so there are masses of poems!

Good grief, it has been an interesting and somewhat daunting experience relinquishing control of my book to someone else – especially as I’m republishing a version and if you are a control freak like I am… there are obstacles, difficulties and invaluable lessons to be learnt.

Metadata, title changes these all effect your novel and make the process much more complicated. But I am hoping that the initial niggles will be overcome and it will be worthwhile.

Change is challenging but sometimes you have to embrace change to move forward.

At least with the second novel in the Curse of Time series I won’t have this problem as Golden Healer will be all new, starting from scratch! Yeah. Good news I’ve just heard: Bloodstone is to be in the Ingram Catalogue with access to bookstores. And Next Chapter have also revamped their cover design process for these editions, with full sleeve covers that will look great on a shelf and attract the eye of potential customers.

I’m thrilled to announce I am also a contributing author in a new release coming out soon (Pandemic inspired,) with a winning poem contribution entitled Hope is and a short piece of writing about my thoughts about the pandemic. This is to be published by Chantelle Atkins, more about that soon…

With regard to Bloodstone, I have all sorts of plans, at the moment I am arranging an impromptu launch with the lovely author community.

I’ve managed to link the old reviews on Goodreads but sadly can’t do that with Amazon due to the title change and metadata issues which means I have lost over twenty precious reviews on Amazon on the original version! Ouch. All is not lost, some lovely friends are going to re-review.

So, if anyone can help, re- reviews and new reviews gratefully received for the new version!

Thank you, lovely peeps.

Blurb

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who is imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house.

When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden path where she encounters Ryder: a charismatic, perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set and some crystal wizard stones, can Amelina discover the truth about her family?

A unique, imaginative mystery full of magic-wielding and dark elements, Bloodstone is a riveting adventure for anyone interested in fantasy, mythology or the world of the paranormal.

Next Chapter Publishing – YA fantasy The Curse of Time series:

Bloodstone – The Curse of Time Book 1
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal
UK Book Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bloodstone-Curse-Time-Book-1-
ebook/dp/B097QZBKNY/
US Book Link: https://www.amazon.com/Bloodstone-M-J-Mallon-ebook/dp/B097QZBKNY/
Universal book Link: http://mybook.to/bstmm
And the 2nd in the series coming soon: Golden Healer – The Curse of Time Book 2

Excerpt – Bloodstone – (The Curse of Time Book 1)

Sometimes notes can jar,
Music’s unexpected tunes,
Blended harmonies,
Driving out the sadness vibes,
Sweet silent stringed perfection.

The next day, after my memorable visit to the Crystal Cottage, I felt supercharged, buzzing with energy, ready for my pre-arranged band session with my friends. The crystals had triggered my creative energies. Today, I had music on my mind. Things were looking up, and meeting Leanne had given me hope that life could only get better.

My mobile rang just before I had intended to set off. I couldn’t believe it, it was
Ryder. I hadn’t heard a word from him since our last meeting. He surprised and
perplexed me by asking if he could join our band session. How could he have known our practice was today? I hadn’t mentioned it to him, yet he seemed to know about it. I couldn’t stop debating how odd this revelation felt. In the end, I agreed he could join us.

The prospect of seeing Ryder again thrilled me. Nevertheless, I wondered if this was the best time to get together. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about him, but I wasn’t too keen on him meeting them now. He’d somehow taken the choice right out of my hands.

My mind journeyed back to the day I’d first encountered him. Ryder had appeared down a pathway that my mum had warned me not to travel on. My first experience with him had been swift, and he had disappeared just as fast. Then, there was that weird experience with the portrait of my dad turning into the haunting image of Ryder. I sensed danger. There was something different about him compared to other boys, eerie almost, but I couldn’t decide whether to trust him or to stay away from him. The threat from those other boys and their intentions that day had vanished with his unexpected but welcome arrival, and yet my concerns suggested he’d been shadowing me, following
me for some reason.

To see MJ Mallon’s previous interview on MTA, go here:

Meet the Author: Mr. Sagittarius by M J Mallon

More about MJ Mallon:

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros!

M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of writing began inspired by their vivid storytelling. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in the Venice of Cambridge with her six-foot hunk of a rock god husband. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery, heart-warming smile to greet her.

MJ’s writing credits also include a multi-genre approach: paranormal, best-selling horror, supernatural short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. he has worked with some amazing authors and bloggers compiling an anthology/compilation set during the early stages of COVID-19 entitled This Is Lockdown and later she wrote a spin off poetry collection, Lockdown Innit.

She’s been blogging for many moons at her blog home Kyrosmagica, (which means Crystal Magic,) where she celebrates the spiritual realm,her love of nature, crystals and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious.

MJ’s motto is…

To always do what you Love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too, even if it appears that the odds are stacked against you like black hearted shadows.

Her favourite genre to write is …

Fantasy/magical realism because life would be dull unless it is sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic!

Her eclectic blog shares her love of reading, reviewing books, writing, and photography: https://mjmallon.com/

Articles:
https://issuu.com/electricpress/docs/epnovember2020
https://lightboxoriginals.com/difficult-times/
https://lightboxoriginals.com/lollipop-leaves/
https://spillwords.com/the-magic-of-the-dragonfly/
https://sachablack.co.uk/2018/04/08/prologues/

Connect with MJ Mallon:

Authors Website: https://mjmallon.com
Authors Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon
#ABRSC – Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook :
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1829166787333493/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-j-mallon
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjmallonauthor/
Spiritual Sisters: https://www.facebook.com/5SpiritualSisters

Kyrosmagica Publishing (MJ’s Imprint)

Pandemic Poetry: Lockdown Innit
https://mybook.to/Lockdowninnit

Poetry, Prose and Photography: Mr. Sagittarius
http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

An anthology: This Is Lockdown
Kindle: mybook.to/Thisislockdown

Shorter version – Paperback: mybook.to/Thisislockdownpb

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Meet the Author: Nerve Attack by S. Lee Manning

Today we travel to Vermont to chat with S. Lee Manning about how stand up comedy, the death penalty, photography, pumpkin pancakes, jazz, anxiety, fruitless arguments, fireflies, hide and go seek, living on Mars, Sesame Street, and a sombrero wearing penguin come together as part of Manning’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, I moved to New York to become a writer, worked as an editor on a small magazine until I got tired of being poor and applied to law school. I had a legal career that spanned from a top tier law firm in New York to the Office of the Public Defender in New Jersey to my own practice.

I was also Chair of New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and wrote the first draft of the legislation that abolished the death penalty in the state. Retired from the law, I am now concentrating on my writing, although I sometimes slack off with some of my hobbies: guitar, photography, and stand-up comedy.

I currently live in Vermont, in a little town called Elmore that no one’s ever heard of, half an hour north of the town of Montpelier, which is the smallest state capital in the United States, with my husband Jim and our cat Xiao, although I like to visit my son Dean in New Jersey and my daughter Jenny in West Hollywood, LA from time to time.

In which genre do you write?

I write thrillers, although my books also fit under suspense.

How many published books do you have?

As of September 22, 2021, I will have two published books.

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

I realized I wanted to be a writer when I was about seven and I read a book in which the author killed off a dog. I decided I was going to write books that had better endings. I immediately wrote a version of the same book but the dog didn’t die. I still don’t kill dogs – or cats – but people have to watch out.

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

A cat. Mostly because my cat is on my lap now and if I choose any other animal, he’ll be really pissed off.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I like having an office with a lot of books around, which I already have, although I’d like a bigger desk and some bigger bookshelves. I suppose I could just get rid of books, but that just seems wrong.

What are you currently reading?

The Power of Poison by B.J. Magnani, a fellow Encircle Publications author.

What is your favorite season and why?

Fall. I live in Vermont. It’s the best. Gorgeous colors. Not too hot. Not too cold. I just love pumpkin pancakes with maple syrup, and we have the good stuff up here.

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

The idea for my most recent book actually came from my previous book, Trojan Horse. In Trojan Horse, my main character Kolya, an intelligence operative, was set up by his own agency to be kidnapped and tortured in a twisted scheme to stop a terrorist. Understandably pissed off, he quits the intelligence business at the end of that book to try to build a normal life with the woman he loves. For this book, I needed to think of something that would drag him back into the spy game. In various places in Trojan Horse, Kolya was either hallucinating or dreaming about his past, including memories of his childhood best friend whom he’d put in prison. I decided to use the former best friend and his relationship to Kolya as the means to entice Kolya away from his new life (which he hates anyway).

Can you play a musical instrument? If not, which instrument would you like to be able to play?

I can play piano – I love jazz, although I’m not very good, unlike my main character Kolya, who is an accomplished jazz pianist, and my giving him that talent and interest may fall into the category of wish fulfillment. I also play guitar, intermediate level.

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

I started doing stand-up a few years ago – and in 2019, I was a semi-finalist in Vermont’s Funniest Comic contest. I also play music sometimes. (See above.) Sometimes I take pictures. I love to read. I like to take walks and bicycle but only moderately strenuous, although I’m pretty good about exercising every day. I like to pet horses. I used to ride, back before I started having anxiety about, well, everything. I’m working my way to getting on a horse again. Someday. I also like to chill out in the evening with my husband and watch something on television, while the cat alternates between our laps.

What is your favorite time of day and why?

I love mornings, right after I finish that first cup of coffee. The day is ahead of me, full of promise, and I could achieve anything. In theory. Then I waste most of the day in fruitless arguments on Facebook – but that’s another story.

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve received lately?

Stop reading articles about Covid. My son told me that after I kept reading articles on new variants and worrying about whether I’ll have another book launch with the country on shut down. (My first book debuted last September.)

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

Immersing myself so completely in the universe I’m creating that it feels more real than the real world. Wait. That sounds a little weird. Okay, but I’m a writer. We’re expected to be weird.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What do you do to prepare yourself?

I reread parts of my novel and select the passages to read. Then I sit in a dark room with my cat and meditate on the meaning of life and how it doesn’t matter in the vastness that is the universe if I screw this up, after which I have a glass of ice tea or a cup of coffee and get on with it.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Long summer nights that seemed to stretch forever while I chased fireflies, played hide and go seek, and told stories on my porch. The excitement from everything seeming to be fresh and new.

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

Turn off the social media, go outside, and chase fireflies.

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

I’d probably turn into Kolya, because he is a much more complicated and interesting person than I am. What would I do as Kolya? Maybe play amazing jazz piano at a little bar in the Village and then when some Nazi starts going on about Black people or gays or Jews, quietly walk over, break his leg, and then disappear into the night.

Oh wait. That’s my next book.

If mars or another planet was livable, would you accept a one way ticket there? Why or why not?

When my kids were little, we used to watch Sesame Street together. My favorite song on Sesame Street was sung by Ernie:

Well, I’d like to visit the moon
On a rocket ship high in the air
Yes, I’d like to visit the moon
But I don’t think I’d like to live there
Though I’d like to look down at the earth from above
I would miss all the places and people I love
So although I might like it for one afternoon
I don’t want to live on the moon

(skip two verses)

So if I should visit the moon
Well, I’ll dance on a moonbeam and then
I will make a wish on a star
And I’ll wish I was home once again
Though I’d like to look down at the earth from above
I would miss all the places and people I love
So although I may go I’ll be coming home soon
‘Cause I don’t want to live on the moon
No, I don’t want to live on the moon

And that sums it all up.

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

He’s there because his home has melted, and he’s wearing a sombrero to keep the sun off. And he’ll ask: “Are you going to do something about global warming – or what?”

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on the third novel in the Kolya Petrov series – and it involves neo-Nazis in Germany. That’s all I’m prepared to say at this time.

Tell us about your most recent book.

In my latest book, Nerve Attack, former American intelligence operative and Russian Jewish immigrant Kolya Petrov, still suffering from the aftereffects of imprisonment and torture, is reluctantly pulled back into the spy game when his childhood best friend, Dmitri, holds the key to stopping an attack with the deadly nerve agent Novochok. Doing so puts Kolya, as well as his fiancee Alex, at risk once again, as he struggles to trust not just Dmitri but himself.

The early reviews have been fabulous.

It was wonderful having you be a part of MTA!! Wishing you all the best and much success with your writing and future books! – Camilla

” Manning writes with such authority about the shady world and shifting loyalties of the intelligence community, it’s a wonder her novels aren’t riddled with redactions. At once terrifying, unpredictable, and all too believable, NERVE ATTACK will leave you breathless.” – Chris Holm, Anthony winning author of The Killing Kind.

” While enough backstory is imparted to allow this book to stand alone, Kolya’s foes are more relatable to the average reader in this second of the series: pain from the past—both physical and emotional, PTSD, and a begrudging distrust as Kolya learns that some ties may transcend betrayal. In a world where loyalties are split between his native land and the one that seemingly spurned him, the woman he loves versus the duty he feels compelled to fulfill, Nerve Attack is, surprisingly, an even more complex book than its predecessor and better for it. Another winner for Manning and her readers who I assume will share my anticipation for Book #3!” – D.M. Barr, author of Saving Grace—A Psychological Thriller and The Queen of Second Chances

From Kirkus Reviews: “a reluctant spy leads this taut, effective thriller.”

“A heady rush of intrigue and psychological inspection that weaves a cat-and-mouse game into an evolving new life.” Diane Donavan, senior editor, Midwest Book Reviews

Where to find the book:

Nerve Attack is available for preorder on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Nerve-Attack-Kolya-Petrov-Thriller-ebook/dp/B0971255GC

Nerve Attack can stand alone, but if you’re interested in my award winning first novel, Trojan Horse, which introduces Kolya and his world, that is also available on Amazon in Audible, paperback, hardback, and Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/Trojan-Horse-S-Lee-Manning/dp/1645991024/

Connect with S. Lee Manning:  www.sleemanning.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sleemanning,

Twitter: @SLeeManning1952

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@sleemanning

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Meet the Author: Wolfe Trap by Matt Cost

Today we travel to Brunswick, Maine to chat with Matt Cost about how a video store, Fidel Castro, teaching history, jazz music, the Cuban Revolution, great advice, Jukebox Hero, and a blind pony come together as part of Matt’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Over the years, I have owned a video store, a mystery bookstore, and a gym. I have also taught history and coached just about every sport imaginable.

I live in Brunswick, Maine, with my wife, Harper. We have four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. I now spend my days at the computer, writing.

In which genre do you write?

I write histories and mysteries. Historical fiction and mystery.

How many published books do you have?

6. Joshua Chamberlain and the Civil War; At Every Hazard, I am Cuba; Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, Mainely Power, Mainely Fear, Mainely Money, Wolfe Trap. I am under contract for Love in a Time of Hate, Mind Trap, Mainely Angst, and Mouse Trap.

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

I had an inkling I wanted to be a writer when I was eight, but this did not ignite into flame until my senior year in college when a Latin American History teacher got me excited to write a book about Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. It was his sheer passion for the subject that burst me into flames.

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

My desk is in a corner of the living room, and I write with headphones on listening to jazz music. My wife and four kids and three dogs could be having a party behind me, and I wouldn’t know it.

What are you currently reading?

Celestine by Kevin St. Jarre

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

A story in the paper about a mother who was wiping the residue from her heroin bag on her infant daughter’s gums to get her to stop crying. While in the short term it worked, the end result was not good. This is the premise for Wolfe Trap.

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

Travel. I’ve been to Cuba, Iceland, Russia, and all over Europe to name a few places.

What songs hit you with a wave of nostalgia every time you hear them?

Jukebox Hero by Foreigner

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 B. Parker. Where did Spenser come from?

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve received lately?

Write true to yourself.

Share an interesting or funny story from your childhood.

When I was seven, I owned a blind pony. He used to get spooked by chickens and other sounds when I rode him. One day, startled, he took off running and I was unable to rein him in. We rode straight into a swimming pool. No ponies or young boys were injured in this incident.

You can have anyone fictional as your imaginary friend, who do you choose and why?

Spenser. I like his amusing, affectionate, but no-nonsense style.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently writing the first draft of the fourth book in my Clay Wolfe/Port Essex series. The first book, Wolfe Trap, came out June 23rd.

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

Wolfe Trap is about heroin being smuggled through lobster traps in a coastal Maine town. When a woman comes into the office of PI Clay Wolfe to hire him to uncover who sold the drugs that killed her grandbaby, he has no idea of the storm that is going to follow. The book is filled with a colorful setting and flamboyant characters. The plot twists its way through the underbelly of Port Essex, from hardworking fishermen to wealthy summer residents. The end is as shocking as the beginning and will leave the reader rapt within the pages.

It was great having you be a part of MTA, Matt. Wishing all the best and much success with your writing! – Camilla

More About Matt:

Matt Cost, from Brunswick, Maine, in the U.S., is the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of the Mainely Mystery series. The first book, Mainely Power, was selected as the Maine Humanities Council Read ME fiction book of 2020. This was followed by Mainely Fear and Mainely Money.

I Am Cuba: Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution was his first traditionally published novel in March of 2020. A second historical, Love in a Time of Hate, will be published in August of 2021.

Wolfe Trap was the first in the Clay Wolfe Port Essex Trap series. Mind Trap, will be published in October of 2021, and Mouse Trap will follow in April of 2022.

Over the years, Cost has owned a video store, a mystery bookstore, and a gym. He has also taught history and coached just about every sport imaginable.

Cost now lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Harper. There are four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. He now spends his days at the computer, writing.

Where to find the book:

Wolfe Trap on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wolfe-Trap-Clay-Essex-Mystery/dp/1645991695/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=wolfe+trap&qid=1624628273&sr=8-2

Connect with Matt:

Website: https://www.mattcost.net

Twitter: @MattCost8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/matt.cost.3/

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Meet the Author: The Search for Summer by Chantelle Atkins

Today we travel to Dorset, England to chat with Chantelle Atkins about how creative writing clubs, Watership Down, gardening, people watching, dog walking, co-writing, and listening to music come together as part of Chantelle’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Chantelle, I’m a mother of four from Dorset, England. As well as being a writer, I run a community interest company called Chasing Driftwood Writing Group. We provide creative writing clubs for children and adults, as well as events, projects, online courses and workshops! My hobbies include gardening, reading, listening to music and walking my beautiful dogs.

In which genre do you write?

I write in both adult and young adult and in a multiple of genres. Dystopian, post-apocalyptic, family drama, mystery, crime, and psychological thriller, but I’d say the most common theme with all of my books is that they are all very character driven.

How many published books do you have?

I have thirteen! Five are standalones and the rest comprise a trilogy and a five-part series.

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

When I read Watership Down around the age of 10, I became so deeply immersed in the world the author had created, so in love with the characters and so addicted to reading, it just made me want to write too. I wanted part of that escapism, to be in control of characters and their lives, to create a world and direct it – it just seemed like pure magic to me and it still does.

I started writing my own animal-based stories around that time, all influenced heavily by Watership Down! I made front covers for them and write back cover blurbs. From there, it became a true addiction. As I grew older and got into different genres, they would then influence my own writing. SE Hinton was another huge influence on me as was Stephen King.

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

My most recent book was the final book in a trilogy. It’s called The Holds End trilogy and in order the books are A Song For Bill Robinson, Emily’s Baby and The Search For Summer. A Song For Bill Robinson was based on a book I wrote but never finished when I was 16 years old. I found it in an old suitcase when I was sorting stuff out one day and just knew I had to finally finish it. It was all hand-written and I even found a notebook full of character bios, scene ideas and so on. It was just all there waiting for me to pick up again. So, I rewrote it and it then evolved into a trilogy! I do recall that I originally got the idea for the first book after watching the film The Commitments when I was 16. It inspired me to write a story about a grumpy and uncommunicative teenage boy who had a huge talent for singing. The unsolved murder storyline was new to me when I picked it up again!

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

There are so many things that are enjoyable and magical about writing, but if I had to pick just one it would be that because of writing I am never, ever lonely and never, ever bored. It’s impossible to be lonely or bored with a head full of ideas and characters, old and new. It’s impossible to be alone when these people are always with me. That’s a pretty nice way to feel.

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

This is a tricky question because although I love all my characters very, very much, I have given them very difficult and complex lives I’m not sure I would want to live! However, if I had to pick one, I think it would be Bill Robinson from the Holds End books as I am envious of his singing talent and I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar, so I would get his gifts if I became him for a day. I would write songs, play the guitar and sing for an audience!

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

I would have to say being a quiet introvert who enjoys people watching has been very useful. I’ve always been one of those people who lingers around the edges, who shies away from noise and crowds, and I used to be ashamed of this. When I was a kid, people were always accusing me of being too quiet. I’d think, if I only you knew how noisy it is in my head! But the whole time I was watching and listening and noticing body language, tones of voice, facial expressions and all the things people say without actually saying it. I’d notice interactions between people, conflict, jealousies, passions and more and all of this has been invaluable for writing!

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on two projects at the moment. One is a YA post-apocalyptic 4-book series. I’ve written the first two books and I’m currently doing some edits on them before I start book three. I won’t publish them until the whole series is complete. It’s set in the village I live in and is about how a group of kids survive after a series of viruses wipe out the entire adult population. It’s about the natural world fighting back and the kids having to learn the new rules to survive it! I am also working on a YA trilogy with another author. I never imagined I would co-write books with a fellow author but my business partner, author Sim Sansford suggested it and we are in the middle of writing the third book in the trilogy. It has been so much fun! We each write a different character and send it back and forth, swapping messages as we go about what happens next. It has been a very raw and organic and fast-paced experience and I’ve loved it. It’s basically about a strange little town and two teens who discover they have superpowers. Not a genre I’ve written in before but it’s brilliant fun!

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Search For Summer the final book in the gritty Holds Ends series ties up the storylines set up in book one – an unsolved murder and a neighbourhood feud collide with a self-destructive teenage boy’s singing ambitions! There is a love triangle storyline too and plenty of family drama. It also has a very good soundtrack!

It was great to have you on MTA, Chantelle! Wishing you all the best and much success with future books, and the co-writing book. Sounds great! – Camilla

The Search For Summer

When Bill’s desire for the truth pushed Charlie into an impossible decision, he lashed out in horrifying fashion, stealing baby Gabriel and leaving Bill for dead.

Panic-stricken Charlie is now on the run with his three-day-old son. His hiding place reveals a mystery that will drive him further across the country.

Summer was involved with the set-up that pushed Charlie over the edge and she was there when he stole the baby…but where is she now?

As his band The Rebel Anthem attract a manager and a possible record deal, Bill has a lot on his mind. He cannot accept that Summer would run away and fears his own behaviour may have played a part in her disappearance.

In this dramatic climax to the YA trilogy, previous actions and decisions have consequences for all, while Bill and his friends must find Summer and baby Gabriel and finally bring a killer to justice.

Where to find the book:

Available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and other platforms

Connect with Chantelle:

https://www.instagram.com/chantelleatkinswriter/

https://www.facebook.com/chantelleatkinswriter

Website: https://chantelleatkins.com/

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Meet the Author: The Lazare Family Saga by Elizabeth Bell

Today we travel to Northern Virginia, USA to chat with Elizabeth Bell about how George Mason University, elementary school vocabulary words, two hundred library books, talismans, wrought iron, sensory deprivation, a turtle, and The Princess Bride come together as part of Elizabeth’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Elizabeth Bell, and I live in Northern Virginia, USA. I grew up in Colorado. I came to Virginia to pursue my Master’s degree in Creative Writing at George Mason University. After graduation, I realized I’d have to return my two hundred library books. Instead, I cleverly found a job in the university library, where I work to this day.

In which genre do you write?

Historical fiction, specifically family saga with strong romantic elements.

How many published books do you have?

Necessary Sins, Lost Saints, Native Stranger, and Sweet Medicine, the four books of The Lazare Family Saga.

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

Around the second grade. My teacher would give us students a list of ten vocabulary words to learn each week. To show we understood their meaning, we had to write a sentence that used each of the words correctly. No matter how disparate the words were, I always used those ten sentences to tell a little story.

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

I have talismans to get me “in the zone” when I’m writing. I’ll burn an appropriately scented candle, such as gardenia for a scene set in a Charleston garden or Yankee Candle’s Storm Watch for a scene set on the Great Plains of the American West. I’ll also wear a necklace based on the wrought iron of Charleston.

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

A turtle. I’ve always been an introvert, and I may be the world’s slowest writer. I spent twenty-eight years researching, writing, and revising the four books of The Lazare Family Saga. But I got there in the end!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I’d prefer a sensory deprivation chamber! I need as few distractions as possible to concentrate on my fictional world. I write in a U shape: an L-shaped desk plus a table alongside me so I can have research materials spread open all around me. I’m also surrounded by bookshelves. In my ideal writing space, those shelves would be lovely, grained dark hardwood instead of plywood and I’d own all the books instead of borrowing them from library.

What are you currently reading?

I’m rereading Be Free or Die, Cate Lineberry’s excellent biography of Robert Smalls, after reading Rebecca Dwight Bruff’s novel about him.

What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

The Princess Bride. I have practically the whole screenplay memorized. It’s brilliant—funny but also heartfelt, exciting, romantic, and and wise.

What is your favorite time of day and why?

The wee hours of the morning, when the rest of the house has gone to bed. That’s my best writing time, when my characters really come alive and tell me their stories.

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

Lowcountry South Carolina near Charleston. It’s one of the two main settings of my historical saga. I grew up in the other setting: the Great Plains of the American West along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. I’ve visited the Lowcountry a few times and fell in love with it. I haven’t been able to live there in real life, but I do vicariously through my characters. I love the flora and fauna of the Lowcountry, the birds and even the reptiles. I love the gardens and the architecture, so well suited to the semitropical climate. I love how present the history of Charleston is, how well it’s been preserved. That history is often contentious and tragic, because it’s about the legacy of slavery and the persistence of racism, but it’s also about resilience. That complexity is what makes the history dynamic and compelling and essential.

What are you currently working on?

With the help of my cover designer, I’m creating hardcover versions of my four books. I thought the paperbacks were beautiful, but I love my first hardcover proof even more: beauty and durability! My cover artist is James T. Egan of Bookfly Design, and he is so talented.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book is Sweet Medicine, the fourth and final installment in my historical fiction series The Lazare Family Saga—but please start with Book One, Necessary Sins. The series is a continuous narrative.

It was great having you be a part of MTA, and learning more about you and your background. Love the bit about the library books, and that now you work in the university library! Wishing you all the best, with much success! – Camilla

Blurb:

The sweeping Lazare Family Saga transports readers from the West Indies to the Wild West, from Charleston, Paris, and Rome into the depths of the human heart. Passion, prejudice, secrets, and a mother’s desperate choice in the chaos of revolution echo through five generations as the multiracial Lazare family struggles to understand where they belong. A French baroness, a Catholic priest, a daring physician, an unconventional Southern belle, an enslaved maid, and a blond Cheyenne Indian find love in dangerous places in this epic spanning 1789-1873.

Kathleen Grissom, bestselling author of The Kitchen House, called the first book, Necessary Sins, “a feast of a novel by an extraordinary new voice. Haunting, meticulously researched, and exquisitely told through characters so human you’d swear they have beating hearts.” Lost Saints and Native Stranger were both Editors’ Choices in the Historical Novels Review, and the Historical Novel Society proclaimed: “Necessary Sins is a rare breed of book, invoking family epics of the past such as The Thorn Birds… [Elizabeth Bell] renders a vivid world that truly feels like stepping back in time.”

Where to find the books:

The four ebooks are available exclusively from Amazon, and they’re free to borrow through Kindle Unlimited. The paperbacks are available through your favorite online bookstore.

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/contributor_profiles/146

getbook.at/LazareFamilySaga

Connect with Elizabeth:

Website:

An Epic Three Decades in the Making…

https://www.facebook.com/elizabethbellauthor

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19269250.Elizabeth_Bell

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Meet the Author: Con Me Once by J.L. Delozier

Today we travel to Pennsylvania to chat with J.L. Delozier about how Asimov’s magazine, medicine, rescue cats, a Roswell Award, an accordion, Autumn, a nun, a chunky sweater, speaking to the dead, and a cozy cottage come together as part of Delozier’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

By day, I’m an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Penn State. I live in Pennsylvania with my Whovian husband and three rescue cats. By night, I’ve written five suspense novels and several short stories. My 2016 debut thriller, Type & Cross, was nominated for a “Best First Novel” award by the International Thriller Writers organization. Storm Shelter and Blood Type X completed the trilogy. My fourth novel, Con Me Once, published in 2020. My short fiction has won a Roswell Award and appeared in Artemis Journal, Thriller Magazine, Retreats from Oblivion, and the anthologies, Noirville: Tales from the Dark Side and Writers Crushing COVID-19.

In which genre do you write?

Thrillers, mysteries, crime, noir…and a touch of sci-fi and paranormal!

How many published books do you have?

Four – the Persephone Smith thriller trilogy and a stand-alone heist novel, Con Me Once. A fifth, The Photo Thief, is done and awaiting a publisher.

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

I’ve loved to write since childhood. I submitted my first story, handwritten in pencil on lined school paper, to Asimov’s magazine while still in junior high school. I was a huge fan of the “Year’s Best” anthologies. Later, I took a creative writing elective at Penn State and was hooked. To this day, my favorites works are my short stories. Click HERE to read “Dirge in D Minor,” which was posted on the Hollywood National Organization of Women’s website after it won a Roswell Award.

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

After I get an idea, I sit down and write the beginning (a few paragraphs) and the end. Then comes the hard part—filling in the murky middle.

What is your favorite season and why?

Autumn, without a doubt. I’m a true Wednesday’s child. I love the melancholy of it – the shorter days, the chill in the air, the children moping about return to school. Hot tea, a warm fire, a chunky sweater – I could live in that weather year-round.

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

Three year ago, I was out to lunch with a friend when I heard the someone chattering on the radio about “photo thieves” – young men from the 1920s who were hired by big-city newspapers to break into homes where there had been a murder and steal family photos to run with the news article. I wondered how this would psychologically affect these young men, my creepy murder-mystery, The Photo Thief, was born. I’m seeking an agent for it now.

Can you play a musical instrument?

I briefly took accordion lessons. I play – badly. It’s an Italian-American rule that every family have either a priest or a nun and an accordion player. I didn’t want to be a nun.

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

In The Photo Thief, Cassie McConnell claims to speak to the dead via their vintage, black-and-white photographs that hang on her mansion’s walls. I’d like to have that skill.

If mars or another planet was livable, would you accept a one-way ticket there? Why or why not?

Absolutely. At the age of five, I proclaimed I wanted to be an “Astro-nomer.” I considered that all through high school before finally deciding on medicine. I’ve always had my head in the stars and am a huge classic sci-fi – films, television, and literature – fan.

What’s the weirdest thing that has happened to you while working at your current or a previous job?

Got an hour? After almost thirty years in medicine, I’ve seen and heard it all. I could never—NEVER—pick just one.

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

If I could blink my eyes and travel through time and space for a perfect solo date, I’d find myself in one of two locations: Either I’d be snuggled in an Irish knit sweater while standing somewhere in the British Isles on a craggy, windswept cliff overlooking the ocean on a grey day. A charming, cozy cottage complete with huge dog and a lap cat await my return (does that still count as a solo date?) OR I’d be walking the cobblestone streets of Florence, Italy, poking around tiny boutiques and stopping for an espresso and biscotti at a quaint café. (Reality check – I’ve never done either of those things. Life goals.)

What are you currently working on?

I just finished the aforementioned The Photo Thief and am mentally outlining a sequel, while trying to land the perfect agent.

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

Con Me Once was published last year. After the dark, 2016-2019 Persephone Smith trilogy (about a manmade viral pandemic which starts in China and chooses its victims based on blood type, natch) I needed something a little lighter. Con Me Once is still gritty, but at heart it’s a fun, geeky, Ocean’s 11-type heist novel complete with wannabe superheroes, the mob, and everything in between. Even Elvis makes an appearance.

It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA, and to learn more about you and your books. Wishing you all the best, with much success! – Camilla

Blurb

Three superhero wannabes. One femme fatale. Millions in mob cash. This con is on.

Where to find the book: Everywhere books are sold

Connect with J.L. Delozier:

jldelozier.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jldelozierMD/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/jldelozier

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/J.-L.-Delozier/e/B01CDMOZEE

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15012818.J_L_Delozier

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Meet the Author: Music from a Strange Planet by Barbara Black

Today we travel to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada to chat with Barbara Black about how a porcupine, a magic spot on her couch, the Delphic Oracle, adventure motorcycling, playing the piano, collage, whispering to bees, the William Tell Overture, thriving on the random, a margarita with a Antarctic ice cube, and the Jetsons come together as part of Barbaras life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in the southwest corner of British Columbia, Canada, on big, beautiful Vancouver Island in the city of Victoria. Land of sea, mountains, rainforest, raccoons and seagulls. City of many restaurants and creative people who move here to pursue their bliss.

In which genre do you write? How many published books do you have?

I write poetry, short stories and flash fiction. I’m a minimalist at heart. I love the art of compression and squeezing an entire world into a few lines or pages. Music from a Strange Planet is my first book: a collection of twenty-two short stories, published by Caitlin Press.

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

Since it’s a story collection, I can’t cite just one idea. But mostly my stories start with a character’s voice, or a distinct statement that I know will lead me into a new fictional landscape. Interestingly, for my story “Belly-Deep in White Clover,” about a solitary taxidermist who becomes enamoured with a porcupine, the idea came from Geist magazine’s “CanLit Premise Generator” (as in Canadian Literature). It was a fun generator of random CanLit themes and tropes, including moose, loggers, beavers, hockey teams, Leonard Cohen, French-Canadian clowns, and harsh winters. When I pressed the magic generator button I got something like: an unusually tall man/with an antiquated profession/falls in love with a wild animal. For the longest time, I tried to write a humourous story on this subject, but finally gave up. Then one day, the beginnings of a very differently-toned story arrived, with those same quirky elements, but it was beautiful and tender and mysterious and has been beloved by readers.

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

I have a magic spot on my couch. When I sit there early in the morning, brilliant opening lines come into my head, unbidden. It’s like I’m the Delphic Oracle presiding over the mysterious fumes of prophecy, only with no fumes!

What would you choose as your spirit animal and why?

I discovered my spirit animal at a poetry retreat. Our first assignment was to call in our spirit animal and write a poem about it to share the next morning. I tried all evening to summon up an animal and as the deadline loomed, started to panic. I imagined all the experienced writers in their rooms crafting pieces of brilliance about their totem animals. The solution? I just let go and wrote nonstop, calling in this animal until my pen stopped, then looked at the first line: “Are you the dark brown one of the sweet-smelling soil, the solitary thorn who eats the tender leaves?” It was a porcupine. Of course, there’s the connection of quills with writing, which I only subconsciously realized. But after some research, I was touched to learn that porcupines are mostly solitary (like writers!) and gentle and they sleep in trees, something I actually did as a child. I composed the poem and went to bed after midnight. The next morning, I read it at the writing circle. One of the retreat participants was an editor of a Canadian literary journal. She came up to me afterwards and offered to publish my poem. It was my first publication.

What are you currently reading?

I love to read and write short forms. Short stories, flash stories and compact poems. My latest interest is prose poems. They’re a lyrical, enigmatic hybrid. I’m currently reading two prose poem collections—a heart-breakingly beautiful collection by Allison Benis White, called Self-Portrait with Crayon. She writes in a unique style that somehow manages to convey complex states of mind; and David Shumate’s witty book of prose poems, High Water Mark, inventive takes on everything from Hitler’s barber to Neruda carrying a sea in his suitcase. On the fiction side, I recently finished Madeline Miller’s Circe, which I highly recommend. I’m also working my way through George Saunders’ short story master class book, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. And I love pretzeling my brain with cryptic crosswords.

What outdoor activity haven’t you tried, but would like to try?

Adventure motorcycling on the backroads. No traffic! Hills, and rivers, mud, dirt paths, and bumps. Plus, I might see a porcupine. Or, at least, the back of one.

Can you play a musical instrument?

I play piano. Currently enjoying a book of transcribed jazz improvisations from some of the greats. What a little jazz can do for a person’s soul. I have over ten years of classical vocal training, but now I prefer singing jazz and folk music. I can also play the beginning of the William Tell Overture on my front teeth, if you care to listen.

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

In the warmer months, I’m travelling, out in the garden whispering to the bees or riding my motorcycle and bagging some curves. In the winter, I read and write and often am busy on a collaboration. This year I’ll be working with a composer in Amsterdam, writing text for his composition, “Seven Colours of the Night.” I also recently took up collage and now collage excerpts from my writing on Instagram. (As a matter of fact, my publisher kindly asked if I would design the front cover for my book and I did!)

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

…that when a story gets stuck, I can just wait until a new scene acts itself out in my head visually. If I allow my subconscious to do its work, the character solves the problem for me. Characters generally come to me unbidden and seem to ask for me to write their story. In this collection, there’s a solitary taxidermist who lives in the woods, a business analyst who yearns to be a sculptor, and a female global traveler who looks for love in all the wrong places. Where these people came from is a mystery to me.

After I finished my manuscript, I was surprised to see inadvertent themes related to my past or to what was happening in my life during the four years of writing the book. I saw in several characters my Dad’s struggle with dementia; and myself in a little girl character who wants to dress up as a very specific kind of beetle (as a child, I loved insects); and my thoughts around mothers and daughters showed up in a story with a mother who mourns her stillborns; one who’s lost her daughter; another who connects with her estranged adult daughter. This is not to say there aren’t moments of humour and subversity in the book. There’s plenty of that, too. So, despite most of the characters not being like me at all, parts of my life are woven into the very fibre of the stories.

As for a writing process, I’m not a planner. I don’t follow the advice to have a writing routine. I thrive on the random. Mostly, I rely on a very strong voice or line to kick-start a story and start the “machine of story-writing.” George Saunders calls this, “Follow the Voice.” Once the kernel of the story is in place, I’m very disciplined at pursuing it.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. Why is he there?

Never doubt the muse. It might bring a sombrero-wearing penguin to your front porch. Go with it! And say yes to the margarita with the Antarctic ice cube floating in it.

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

I loved The Jetsons. That opening with its crazy, punchy, exciting music (they squeezed in a few notes of “Chopsticks”!), and the family bubble-jet zipping around the futuristic cityscape. It was so neat that, after landing, the jet snapped down into George’s briefcase! Being a bit of a tomboy, I identified with Elmore. Back then, my father read Popular Science magazine and there were always futurist scenarios in there, like moving sidewalks in the city, personal mini-jets and highways layered on highways like a stack of noodles.

If Mars or another planet were livable, would you accept a one way ticket there?

“Livable” is a pretty minimalist term. Why would I leave my little pocket of raincoast paradise of four seasons for a dry red planet with no greenery or coffee shops?

What are you currently working on?

A collection of flash fictions titled, “Little Fortified Stories,” that began with sitting in the Port Institute in Lisbon, sampling port and muscatel and free-writing words that came to me based on that tipple’s unique qualities. The collection has since evolved to include more story-inspiring spirits, from bourbon to gin and other warped, poignant or fantastical tales that relate to my mostly imagined ancestry.

Tell us about your most recent book. And what’s the “strange music” part of it?

My first book is Music from a Strange Planet, a collection of short stories with themes of quirky love, emotional attachment, transformation, grief and the influences of the natural world (and the occasional insect). Among many other characters, you’ll meet a woman who plans a “sologamy ceremony” to marry herself; two insomniac strangers who come together over a raccoon; and an installation artist who transforms herself into a caribou.

The book title comes from a story with the same title which involves a precocious girl named Lucky Bee who, in addition to having a live cricket who helps her predict the future, is a young composer. Her most recent opus, “Music from a Strange Planet,” is inspired by the convergence of cricket choruses. Several stories in the collection reference music, including one about a punk music singer suffering a creative crisis and inadvertently falling in love with a bassist, and another about a love-seeker who meets her true love—a tram-riding musician—in a tiki bar in Prague.

The book is eclectic, or “unusual and unorthodox,” as one of my endorsers says, full of varying characters, all of whom I care deeply about and who seem to exist somewhere in another galaxy, carrying on their unique lives. I’m thrilled to be introducing them to readers.

It was wonderful having you on MTA, Barbara!! Such a fun interview!! Wishing you all the best, with much success, and many margaritas with Antarctic ice cubes! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Music from a Strange Planet:

A striking and genre-bending debut short story collection from writer Barbara Black.

Off-beat, provocative, philosophical, Music from a Strange Planet transports you to intimate worlds in a quirky multiverse. This unique story collection places characters at the core of their vulnerabilities. Grief, tenderness and longing soak the pages, taking the reader into the intimate places of the heart: An awkward child envisions herself as a darkling beetle; an unemployed business analyst prefers water-walking over “rebranding” himself; a psychologist wants to marry herself; and in the squatters’ district, a biogenetically-altered couple visits an attic to observe a large cocoon. Black takes the reader from the ruins of a dystopian city to inner self-created landscapes with a masterfully crafted tone and a register that ranges from contemplative to comic. Expect your planet to tilt a little to the strange after reading this engaging collection.

Book Trailer for Music from a Strange Planet:

Book Endorsements:

These exhilarating stories, quick and sharp and tender, breach the barrier that separates civilized and wild, human and non. Senses fuse, flesh is transfigured; characters come to themselves at moments of metamorphosis, modulating to new forms of life. Barbara Black’s magic is the kind that illuminates.”

—John Gould, author of The End of Me

“Barbara Black’s debut collection, Music from a Strange Planet, offers tales of obsession and transformation in which the melding of character with the phenomenal world is nothing less than astounding. With a surgeon’s exacting skill, she lays bare the often-strange music of the human heart.”

—M.A.C. Farrant, author of One Good Thing: A Living Memoir

“Be prepared. Be very prepared and preferably with your inner antennae on high alert as you enter into this translucent, transcendent, Kafkaesque world of illusions. Black goes beyond spider-like weaving as she spins her tales. Unusual, unorthodox, but always unique, they will stick to you.”

—Cathleen With, author of Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison

Excerpt:

Music from a Strange Planet

Where to find the book:

Order direct from the publisher here: https://caitlin-press.com/our-books/music-from-a-strange-planet/

Or order from your local independent bookstore.

Order from Amazon.ca here:

Order from Amazon.com here:

Connect with Barbara:

YouTube Author Page:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSf6wfF1zx0-GbnPcZSK8vQ

Author Page at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57136889-music-from-a-strange-planet?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=ig5ybOCHtw&rank=1

Facebook Writer Page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarablackwriter

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

Website: https://www.barbarablack.ca/book-music-from-a-strange-planet/

Other Links:

Author Interview with Mandy-Eve Barnett:
https://mandyevebarnett.com/2021/05/20/author-interview-barbara-black/

Book Review by Bill Arnott:
https://miramichireader.ca/2021/03/music-from-a-strange-planet-by-barbara-black/

Author Interview with Bill Arnott:

https://mailchi.mp/e1829eb04ddc/from-a-late-bloomer-creative-writer-some-of-the-best-short-stories-ive-read

Author Interview with Oscar Martens:

Taking risks with Barbara Black

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Meet the Author: Your Story, Well Told by Corey Rosen

Today we travel to San Francisco to chat with Corey Rosen about how new beginnings, Jabba the Hutt, interesting experiences, Harrison Ford’s ear, Visual Effects, improvisation, We Are the World, Star Wars, and a Chinese Theme Park come together as part of Corey’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Corey Rosen. I am a writer, actor and storytelling coach that lives in San Francisco, California. When not writing, I perform at BATS Improv and teach applied improvisation, storytelling, and stand up comedy writing. I also work in Visual Effects and have worked on some of the Star Wars movies. Lately I’m writing a movie that will be shown in a Chinese Theme Park.

In which genre do you write?

I focus on Storytelling, both my own, and helping people craft and tell their own stories. We all have interesting experiences. I love hearing those, and the lessons and learnings people have collected through our lives.

How many published books do you have?

“Your Story, Well Told” is my first published book! Woohoo!

What is your favorite season and why?

Fall. I grew up in Rochester, NY and, while I miss having a winter, I don’t miss shoveling snow and skidding on the ice. The weather in San Francisco, where I live, is a Mediterranean climate, which feels like autumn most of the time – not too hot and not too cold. I think fall is my favorite season because I associate the fall with change – changing weather, changing colors… it’s also when the new school year starts. For me, it’s a reminder that a new beginning can be just around any corner.

Can you play a musical instrument?

I play a bunch of instruments. I love to make music. I recently discovered the joy of recording and harmonizing with myself on parody and personalized songs I’ve written for friends as a fundraiser for my improv theater, BATS Improv. The trailer for my book is an example of this – I’m playing all the instruments and singing 6 parts in a parody of “We Are The World” to introduce my book. Check out the trailer here:

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

I teach applied improvisation, storytelling, and stand up comedy writing. I also work for a visual effects studio founded by Oscar-winner Phil Tippett, who designed and animated the most iconic creatures in the original Star Wars movies, like Jabba the Hutt and the AT-AT snow walkers. As a creative director, I write and direct movies shown at theme parks around the world.

Have you ever had any Do It Yourself disasters?

There’s a classic children’s book called “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie,” by Laura Numeroff. In it, a simple action leads to increasing complications. My DIY prowess often unfolds in this way. A few weeks ago, my wife asked me to hang a picture on the wall. Looking at the wall, I couldn’t help but be irritated by the chipped paint and holes from prior screws and pictures. Within an hour I’d bought new paint and spent the rest of the afternoon taping, spackling, and repainting the entire wall. When we sat down to dinner, my wife quietly said, “maybe tomorrow you could hang that picture?”

What’s the weirdest thing that has happened to you while working at your current or a previous job?

When I was hired at ILM, George Lucas’ visual effects company, I was tasked with (digitally) removing specs of dirt and dust from the original Star Wars movie for the Special Edition re-release. This was the movie I saw as a child that made me want to tell my own stories, and work in the movie business. It was a heavy responsibility. One of the first shots I had to “clean” was a shot of Harrison Ford (Han Solo). I cleaned what I thought was a spec of white dirt from the same spot in every frame, only realizing when I was done that I’d actually removed Han Solo’s entire ear! I was so scared that I didn’t tell anyone, and, to this day, there is a moment in the Star Wars universe where Han Solo doesn’t have an ear, thanks to me!

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently writing a few movies for a theme park near Shenzhen in China! The movies will be seen on large dome screens, with the audience feeling like they are flying from Earth to Mars. It’s really fun to write this kind of experience because you are working in many dimensions – the audience is in motion having physical sensations while you are telling them a story.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My book will teach you fun and easy strategies to get inspired to develop stories, structure them, and tell them, well! My favorite discovery after writing the book has been all the stories others have told me – many by people I’ve known a long time, telling stories I’ve never heard! I hope this book helps you remember and tell stories that connect you with others.

It was wonderful learning more about you, and having you be a part of MTA, Corey! Here’s to your success!! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Learn the art of telling stories and make the sale, land the client, propose a toast, or impress a date – maybe all at the same time! Moth veteran and master teacher Corey Rosen is an Emmy-award winning writer and actor with years of experience as a skilled storytelling coach. His book, Your Story, Well Told, is crafted to help ordinary people tell extraordinary stories. This laugh out loud handbook covers everything from how to tell a good story to going off script.

Book Trailer:

Where to find the book:

www.coreyrosen.com: Has links to independent and BIPOC-owned bookstores where you can order “Your Story, Well Told: Creative Strategies to Develop and Perform Stories that Wow an Audience.”

Connect with Corey:

Website: www.coreyrosen.com

social media links:

facebook & Instagram: @storyrosen
twitter: @coreyrosen

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

 

Meet the Author: Chasing Shadows by Steven Smith

Today we travel to Stotfold in Bedfordshire to chat with Steven Smith about how LEGOs, book reviews, Jack the Ripper, gaming, Discworld, Elton John, coffee shops, winter, an out of control roller coaster ride, an electric guitar, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show come together as part of Steven’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I am Steven, or Steve – either works for me! I live in a little town called Stotfold in Bedfordshire. It’s about an hour by train from London. I live with my wife Vanessa and my tuxedo cat Rey.

When things are a little more normal I love to travel and get out with my camera, too. I’m also an avid video gamer, armchair athlete and absolute Lego fanatic.

In which genre do you write?

My debut novel Chasing Shadows falls into steampunk – an alternate history set in a Victorianesque world where everything is steam-powered and electricity did not expand quite as it did. I have also written a number of short stories in a wide range of styles and genres.

How many published books do you have?

At the moment, just Chasing Shadows. Its sequel As the Crow Flies is well underway. I am also considering releasing a collection of short stories when I get the chance to write a few more.

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

Hmmm, now this is a tough question. Back in primary school, I remember doing something the teachers called “Extended Stories”. Everyone spent the lesson just writing anything we wanted. This carried on throughout the year. I loved those sessions. But then exams, needing a career, all that kind of thing waylaid my writing.

I’ve always been an avid book reader, so in March 2015 I started a blog where I review books, interview authors and take part in a range of other bookish features. In 2017 I decided the time was right to try and write a novel of my own. I set out to write a fictional account of the infamous Jack the Ripper – who he was and how he managed to evade arrest. It didn’t work out though – I became exhausted by the level of research to get the historical facts accurate, and it faded into nothingness.

I dabbled with some short stories after that until, in late 2019, an idea struck me. To begin with, it was just as the concept for a character, closely followed by another. Then I had some ideas for adventures they might find themselves in. And that was it, the early ideas for Chasing Shadows was formed.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I do love my home office space. It’s filled with all manner of things that are so homely to me. My wife and I have a range of similar interests, so we’ve made this space very much our own. There are signed Discworld prints and special framed stamp display pieces themed around Harry Potter and Elton John. There are framed signed comic books, a display cabinet brimming with video game paraphernalia, another bursting at the gunwales with Lego. That’s a habit of mine that has spread beyond the cabinet and throughout the house! Then, on the wall immediately behind the desk is a huge The Nightmare Before Christmas poster, my most beloved film. It really is a little slice of nerdvana for me.

Aside from there, I love writing in coffee shops. I can people watch and get inspiration for characters and events from what I see and hear. I’ve even done a spot of writing on the terrace of a wonderful cafe in the town of Riva, sat on the shore of the beautiful Lake Garda!

What are you currently reading?

Right now I am test-reading the first draft of a novel by author and good friend Richard Dee. It’s something a little different genre-wise from him, and I have to say I am absolutely loving it!

What is your favorite season and why?

Winter, without a shadow of a doubt. I am not built for the hot days of summer. I love nothing more than a cold, crisp, bright winter day. Blue sky, biting cold, your breath a freezing fog out in front of you. I love it! Plus, I am a massive Christmas fan, so it’s a no brainer for me. Indulgent food, festive music, cheesy films and an overabundance of decorations. It always fills me with joy!

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

The honest answer is that I am not really sure. I’ve always loved steampunk. It’s utterly fascinating to me – the inventions, the vehicles, the outfits, the airships. I love it all. As far as Chasing Shadows, well it was a series of disconnected ideas that hit me. First, it was an idea for a character, my leading man. Then there was the beginnings of another main character. Then I saw a few events. Nothing too large, just an underlying theme as such.

The connective tissue needed to hold the bare bones together wasn’t planned. Much of the book wasn’t planned. I only learned what came next after I had written it. The whole process was a frenetic, out of control rollercoaster ride that I thoroughly enjoyed. I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

Now this one is easy, especially as it’s indelibly inked into my right bicep. That would have to be Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. I was six years old when it came out back in 1993. I saw it then and was transfixed. The creepy world of Halloweentown and its denizens, the wonderful vibrance of Christmastown, Burton’s bizarre story and the incredible score and songwriting of Danny Elfman. All of these things have been forever imprinted on my mind, and guarantee I will watch that film multipe times a year. And yes, I do know it almost word for word.

If you pressed me for a second choice, that’d have to be The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Another weird, wonderful, riotous sing along movie.

Can you play a musical instrument? If not, which instrument would you like to be able to play?

I actually own an electric guitar – a stunning piece bought for me for Christmas by my wife. I haven’t played it nearly as much as I’d like. I want to learn it though. I used to be able to play real simple chords like the basic riff from Wonderwall by Oasis. I’d love to learn some more though. I am a huge rock music fan – Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden, Kiss, AC/DC, Foo Fighters. That would be a definite goal to play a few of their songs one day.

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

Reading is an obvious answer for this one. I am also a massive video game freak. I lose hours at a time to a good game. Travelling is another passion of mine. I dabble with photography, I love playing around with the camera and trying out different things. And then there is Lego. It’s one of my biggest hobbies. I find the process of following the instructions and seeing the set come together really therapeutic.

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?

Wow, now there’s a killer of a question. How do I pick just one? First up there would have to be the authors Terry Pratchett and Stephen King. They are two of my very favourite authors. Then there would have to be a few musicians in there, more likely whole bands – I just don’t think I could pick one.

Fantasy people, now that is interesting. I think I’d love to meet both Roland Deschain and Randal Flagg from The Dark Tower series. I love the series of books and these two characters are so deep, there is a lot to them that I’d love to uncover. Without sounding too narcissistic I’d also love to meet my own leading man, Edison Crow. I know he came from my mind, but there is so much about him I’d like to get to know over a coffee.

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

That I can do it. That I can actually start the process and see it all the way through to the end and hold my book in my hand. That’s something else. Early on, I’d have been happy to reach 30 or 40,000 words. To make it to a complete novel, weighing in at over 78,000 words is a pretty incredible feeling!

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

I tried planning the story as I went along, but it just didn’t work out for me. I found it easiest to just write and see where the story took me. I loved this approach. It meant I got to discover the story much like the readers do! I only knew what was happening in the fractions of a second before I typed the words out. I know many people love to plan things meticulously, but my mind is too disorganised and chaotic for that, it just doesn’t work for me.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

I don’t in the traditional sense. I’ve started keeping a movie journal though. I am a film lover, but I am also aware there are a lot of films that always appear on ‘top movies to watch before you die’ lists that I’ve somehow not seen. I am using this as a way to motivate me to watch some of those films.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?

With the UK having not long come out of COVID restrictions, I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to do anything like this. I hope to, though. And if I do, Obviously I would prepare a choice chapter or two to read. Beyond that, I feel passionate about my book, so I would just like to get that across to those listening.

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

American History X. My team at work has started doing a movie club – someone recommends a film and everyone watches it ready to discuss the following week. It’s a great way to start watching films I might not have seen otherwise. And I have to say I really enjoyed it – fantastic visuals, deep story, tragic finale. A great film.

What are you currently working on?

I have a few things on the go right now. After finishing my first draft of Chasing Shadows, I dove headfirst into the sequel – As the Crow Flies. On the side, I am also working on a short story set in the same world. It’s following a young Edison Crow and Selah, just after they meet. Ideas are swirling for yet another short in that world, but in no way related to these characters.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book is my debut novel, Chasing Shadows. It’s a steampunk novel with action and adventure along the way. It follows the roguish airship captain Edison Crow, his childhood friend and second in command Selah, and a ragtag crew of the most loyal rogues a captain could hope for. Seeking a big payday, Crow hopes to put his childhood as a street orphan firmly behind him. A series of unfortunate incidents and nearly failed jobs land the crew in the heart of a mystery with potentially dire consequences.

It was great having you be a part of MTA! I thoroughly enjoyed your interview, Steven. My mind is also disorganized and chaotic. I’ve only written nonfiction and poetry to date, but should I write a fiction, what you describe is how it will have to be for me, too! Wishing you all the best, with much success!! – Camilla

Blurb:

As captain of the airship Arcos, Edison Crow and his childhood partner in crime, Selah, lead their crew in search of a big payday. When it comes to the pursuit of wealth, nothing is out of the question for this band of charming rogues. Smuggling. Theft. Embezzlement. It’s all part of a daring game.

But all is not smooth sailing when you’re a high profile thief with a target on your back. A job gone wrong will thrust Edison, Selah and those aboard the Arcos upon a journey straight to the heart of the shady United Republic of the High Commission in pursuit of the truth.

Troubled by his own personal demons, Edison must navigate dark skies if he hopes to gain answers. Will it be enough to help the infamous Captain Crow clear his and his crew’s names? Or will he end up Chasing Shadows?

Where to find the book:

It’s available on Amazon for Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and in Paperback. I also offer personalised paperbacks directly from myself – just pop me an email to discuss!

Connect with Steven:

https://authorstevensmith.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorStevenSmith
https://twitter.com/ATCFpublishing
https://www.instagram.com/stevensmithauthor/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21297044.Steven_Smith

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host