Meet the Author: Prostrate Cancer Strikes – Navigating the Storm by Gogs Gagnon

Today we travel to Vancouver Island, BC, Canada to chat with Gogs Gagnon about how a passion for computers, Apple, writing over a million lines of code, humour, dogs, therapeutic writing, Disney, and income tax software come together as part of his past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

A native of New Westminster, I followed an early passion for computers by becoming a programmer and independent technology consultant. In the course of my career, I have developed software for Apple, IBM, and the government of British Columbia, where I was the lead programmer analyst and data architect.

Now, in addition to promoting prostate cancer awareness, I devote much of my time to writing. My next book is a coming-of-age memoir set in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia during the 1970s.

I’m the father of three children, and lives with his wife and their two dogs in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

In which genre do you write?

I write non-fiction about my life experiences. My first book is my prostate cancer memoir. I’m currently writing my second book, which is a coming of age memoir that reveals what it was like going through puberty. I’m also toying with the idea of writing a few children’s books on life lessons.

How many published books do you have?

Currently, I have one book published, my prostate cancer memoir.

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

I had no plans to be a writer. However, during my 40-year career as a software developer, I’ve written thousands of pages of technical specifications and over a million lines of code. It’s not real writing, but after I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and realized it was therapeutic to share, I decided to write a book about my diagnosis, treatment and recovery. It was a real labour of love and ignited a passion for writing, and it became essential for me to share all the intimate details and lessons learned. Otherwise, I thought there was no point in writing. Since then, I’ve written several guest blogs about cancer and launched a YouTube channel.

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

I like to use humour while writing about my experiences to help lighten the more serious moments. For example, I imagined what a conversation would be like between different body parts during my cancer diagnosis and treatment. I’m still a little boy at heart who enjoys cartoons, video games, and playing with toys.

What would you choose as your mascot, and why?

I love dogs and would choose a dog as a mascot or a dog as a spirit animal. During my cancer diagnosis and treatment, my two dogs provided much-needed companionship that helped my recovery tremendously. Even though my wife and children stood by my side, the dogs’ unconditional love was beyond human. I’m saddened to say, one of them passed away recently. She suddenly became sick during the night, and on the way to the nearest emergency vet, she passed in the car before we arrived. It was incredibly hard and emotional to say goodbye. I’m blessed to have had her in my life for 13 years, especially throughout my cancer diagnosis.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I can write anywhere when the mood strikes. I always have paper and a pen handy as I never know when I’ll find inspiration. Although, I’d love an office with a spectacular ocean view, with beautiful palm trees and mountains in the background, with a blue sky and sunshine. I would need a big desk and a comfy chair, with lots of inspirational photos on the wall. And of course, a bar to entertain family and friends that extends out into a big deck overlooking nature with a hot tub and private chef. Oh, and I guess a new computer with software to write would be nice too!

What are you currently reading?

I love to read biographies and overcoming memoirs and find it empowering to realize we are not alone. I have several books in the queue and currently reading When Breath Becomes Air.

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

It was devastating to hear that I had cancer, and I completely shut down. I had no plans to even talk about my diagnoses, never mind write a book. However, I soon learned that it was very therapeutic to share and helpful to journal my thoughts and feelings. At first, my journal was private and for my eyes only. But several friends, family members, and co-workers asked about my health and how I was doing. Therefore, I decided to share my private journals with them and was overwhelmed by the feedback and encouragement to continue writing.

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

My wife and I are big fans of Disney and love to visit Disneyland in California and Tokyo, although we have not yet visited Disneyworld. I recently joined a rowing team, and my wife and I like to keep active by walking, hiking, and swimming. However, COVID-19 has put a delay in our training activities. My heart goes out to all affected by the virus, including my dad, who lost two good friends. Please stay safe and be kind to each other. I’m also a member of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of BC, and a few prostate cancer support groups in my area. We currently meet using Zoom. It’s not the same, and I miss the social interaction and human touch.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

1. I did terrible in school and barely graduated high school. My teacher told me I had a mental block and would never amount to anything. I found a few odd jobs and later found work as a janitor. I loved the job and the people and had no plans to leave. However, in the late 70s, I purchased an Apple computer and discovered a passion for technology, quit my job and enrolled in College, where I graduated at the top of my class. I quickly found work as an independent consultant, developing games for Apple and utility software for IBM.

2. In the early 80s, I developed the first Canadian income tax software program approved by Revenue Canada. Shortly after the success and launch of the software, I landed a job with the government of British Columbia as a lead programmer and data architect, where I worked for 35 years before retiring.

3. I met the girl of my dreams on the dance floor over 40 years ago, and we have been together ever since.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

I would have loved to had the opportunity to ask our dog Maya, who recently passed away, lots of questions. But I’ll keep them simple.

1. Do you remember the day we first met at the animal shelter?

2. Tell us about your life before we adopted you?

3. What are your favourite memories?

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, and a pleasure getting to know you, Gogs! Wishing you all the best and much success with this book and your next! – Camilla

Book Blurb

AT AGE 57, GOGS GAGNON became one of the millions of men diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetimes. After his surgery and recovery, he decided to share his story to inspire others to advocate for their health and learn from his experiences. Prostate cancer hits at the very core of manhood, and Gogs, in this deeply personal account, reveals intimate details that every person impacted by the disease — man or woman — needs to know. A guide to those facing prostate cancer themselves or are curious about the disease.

Book Trailer Interview:

Where to find the book:

Prostate Cancer Strikes: Navigating the Storm is available on Amazon and a lot of other online stores in both paperback and electronic formats, with an audio version coming soon. It’s also available in many different bookstores and libraries. If you don’t see a copy, please ask for it. You can also order a personalized signed copy from my website, and you can learn a lot about my diagnosis on my YouTube channel.

For the last 5-days of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Sep 26-30, 2020, PDT, the ebook price will drop to $0.00 to purchase free anywhere in the world! Please help spread to the word to help ensure others don’t miss out on a free copy. https://bit.ly/3bdvsoI

Connect with Gogs:

Website: https://gogsgagnon.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/GogsGagnon

Twitter:

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Book Shelf: The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell – What I Learned from a Remarkable Bird

The title and the cover are what drew me to this book as I discovered it while pulling holds at the library. Written in 2015, about an event that happened in 1975, I really enjoyed this story.

While away for the weekend in Uruguay, twenty-three-year-old Tom Michell rescues a penguin covered in oil from an ocean spill. Michell cleans him up and tries to return him to sea. The penguin refuses to return and follows Michell. We learn how Michell smuggled the penguin, now named Juan Salvador, back to Argentina with him, where he is assistant master at a boarding school.

Heartwarming story of Juan Salvador’s life on the campus, to include the lives he touched along the way.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZrtY5x

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Meet the Author: Guns Under the Bed – Memories of a Young Revolutionary by Jody A. Forrester

Today we’re traveling to Venice (Los Angeles) to chat with Jody Forrester about how the Pacific Ocean, Nancy Drew, Edward Hopper’s house, roller skating, and being doggedly persistent come together as part of Jody’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am that rare thing, a native Angeleno, raised mostly in
Hollywood during the fifties and sixties. I live with my husband,
musician John Schneider, in Venice (Los Angeles) just six blocks from
the Pacific Ocean.

In which genre do you write?

Primarily memoir, but also short fiction.

How many published books do you have?

My first book, a memoir called Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary, will be released on September 1, 2020, by Odyssey Books. At least six short stories and essays have been published on both online and in print literary journals.

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

I wrote my first story when I was ten, pretty much lifted from the Nancy Drew books that I loved so much. Having always been an avid reader, I had a deep desire to write but it took a long time for me to have the time and confidence to pursue the dream.

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

I revise, from what I can see, many times more than most writers. It’s not unusual for me to revise a story more than a dozen times, and my memoir required at least twice that.

What would you choose as your mascot, and why?

My dog is always close to me when I write, keeping me company and my feet warm.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I once saw the painter Edward Hopper’s house on a bluff on Cape Cod, with a large window overlooking the ocean and surrounded by old-growth trees and wild flowers. That would be a wonderful place to write, though I wonder how much I would get done with such a view!

What are you currently reading?

Find Me, by Andre Aciman, a sequel to Call Me By Your Name. He’s one of my favorites writers and his latest book doesn’t disappoint.

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

Read, see friends, walk my dog, exercise.

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

When I’m on a good roll, how transporting it can be. I love how time gets swallowed up until I emerge feeling like I’ve just gone on an amazing trip.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary?

I have a box of spiral bound journals that I began writing in when I was about eight but since I’ve been writing stories and memoir, that’s fallen to the wayside. I’m not sure why.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I did have a lot of fun riding my bike around the neighborhood, roller skating down the steepest hills I could find, and making up games and plays. But otherwise my childhood wasn’t so great, and I’m much happier as an adult.

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

Don’t be stopped by fear or lack of confidence. It’s all in your head, all made up, not based in reality about who you are.

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

I’m doggedly persistent and don’t give up easily. Otherwise, I would never get anything written because it’s always tempting to give up.

What are you currently working on?

I’m not writing now since all my concentration is on promoting my book. Marketing and writing occupy different modes of thinking and I seem to be unable to do them both at the same time.

It was great to have you be a part of MTA, Jody. Wishing you all the best! –Camilla

Where to find the book:

Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary, is available in brick-and-mortar and online bookstores and for order through Jody’s website, jodyaforrester.com.

Praise:

“Jody Forrester’s memoir is at once an important eyewitness account of how American student activism in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s turned radical, and a portrait of a young woman’s struggle to find her way in the world. Guns Under the Bed traces her journey from innocence to experience, and, in doing so, offers lessons that resonate today. Heartbreaking and edifying, this story is difficult to forget.”
— Samantha Dunn, author of Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life

“Evocative, compelling, terrifying, sad, and ultimately triumphant. A classic coming of age narrative about a woman who seeks a sense of belonging that she doesn’t find in her family or her body.”
— Emily Rapp Black, author of Poster Child: A Memoir (Bloomsbury USA); The Still Point of the Changing World (Penguin Press)

”Every memoir turns on a fundamental question: How did a person like this get into a place like that? In Jody Forrester’s case the question becomes distinctly fraught: How did a middle-class white girl from LA find herself a member of a deluded Maoist sect, armed to the teeth and prepared to die for the revolution? Her odyssey through the last days of the mythical 1960’s touches all the sweet spots of that time even as it illuminates some of its more shadowy corners: our red-hot anger at war and racism, our alienation from the hollow promises of a corrupt establishment, and our certainty that we could heal our hurting hearts and at the same time transform the world into a place of joy and justice. But of course there are no universals—Forrester’s journey is uniquely hers, and hers alone—no easy answers, and no casual causal claims. We see a young woman bursting to live, determined to find meaning in her life, and—for all of her mistakes and miscalculations—a woman with the courage to storm the heavens.”
Bill Ayers (Fugitive Days: A Memoir; co-founder Weather Underground)

Connect with Jody:

Website – jodyaforrester.com

FB – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001532824693
Instragram – https://www.instagram.com/jodyaforrester/
Twitter –  https://twitter.com/jaforrester2

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Meet the Author: Gone Viking by Bill Arnott

Today we travel to Vancouver, Canada to chat with Bill Arnott about how traveling, socializing with other artists, coffee, a sense of humor, acoustic Indie Folk, a belief that we’re all the same, a weatherproof journal, throwing away ten years of research and writing, New Zealand, a giraffe in a pub, and a miracle in a book store come together as part of Bill’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hey Camilla, thanks so much for the invite. I love MTA and it’s a privilege to be featured!

I’m Bill Arnott, author, poet, songwriter, and my home is Canada’s west coast, in Vancouver. I spend most of my time writing, travelling, or socializing with other artists. Bill Arnott’s Showcase is one of the ways I feature and promote creative peers.

In which genre do you write?

My first five books were nonfiction, published over fifteen years, but I recently leapt into poetry and fiction and love the breadth of genres.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A decent view and access to coffee, a pint, and buddies with a sense of humour!

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just reread two favourites by mentor/friends Tim Winton (Land’s Edge) and Anna Badkhen (Waiting for the Taliban).

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

I perform a lot – acoustic Indie Folk and spoken word, so I’m often rehearsing. If it’s my poetry, I rarely read, but instead LEARN it (different, I feel, than memorization). It takes a lot of time but shows respect for an audience.

If you could have a fantasy coffee date with an author or famous person, who would it be?

I have a circuitous answer but stay with me, I think it’s worth it. I adamantly believe we’re all the same. I’m not one for pedestals. Yes, I have role models and folks that may view me that way but we’re still all the same. So when I encounter a famous (living) writer I’d like to visit with, I reach out to them. If they’re surrounded by gatekeeping agent/publicists, well, I’ve gained some insight into that individual and probably won’t be as keen to connect. But most often, a sincere intro to a genuine person results in a lovely exchange. I’ve in fact had great visits and connections with most of my heroes – good people who’re in the very same boat as all of us.

This is beautiful, Bill. I believe we are all the same, too. I just wish we could all see that and treat one another as equals.

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

I was surprised to realize I no longer care what people think of me. Not much, anyway.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced or remember while writing a memoir?

Every performance, even a performance you KNOW will be brutal, results in a memoir story, which is why I won’t shy away from a potentially bad gig. A favourite was the event with ZERO attendees. Now THAT’S good material!

This is such an excellent point. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Do you journal or keep a diary? Has this helped with your published writings?

When I’m working on travel memoirs, a weatherproof journal’s essential – my writerly bread and butter. A story I like to share as a life lesson is the time I finished a 110,000 word manuscript – ten years of travel, research and writing. I had it in a Word doc. But we were moving (packing boxes, paring down). This, combined with the fact I’m lazy, I threw out all my journals and notes. Every bit of it. I had my Word doc after all, so I was solid. (Of course you know where this is going.) Did I back it up? Certainly not. I’m too busy and important to waste time on such trivialities. Suffice to say my computer crashed, my manuscript vanished, and I had to start again from scratch with a handful of photos. The lesson? I’m a moron.

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

I just watched Hunt for the Wilderpeople, New Zealand being a place that I love. I trust Taika Waititi as a filmmaker and LOVE artists who create poignant stuff and still pepper it with zany humour.

A giraffe knocks on your door and is wearing a bowler hat. What does he say and why is he there?

Here’s the thing about a giraffe in a hat. He’s spiffed up, right? So he and a buddy go to the pub. They get there and the giraffe has a lie down. Bartender says, Oi, what’s that lyin’ there?! The buddy says, Ain’t a lion, it’s a giraffe! (Needless to say this a joke for telling, not writing, but YOU brought up the giraffe.)

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 was shopping for, dare I say, a spiritual book, at a colossal retailer. And chose to release into the moment, simply let go (I actually closed my eyes) and a book fell from a high shelf – literally dropped, and I caught it midair – James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy. And I thought, if I ever have the confidence or indifference to share this story, it was one of those moments Deepak Chopra talks about. It shifted my perspective of everything.

Lovely story, Bill. I can see and feel how this would cause a shift in perspective. Wow!

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

I actually have a couple, radically different stuff I’m equally proud of. Firstly, my travel memoir Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, a Whistler Independent Book Awards Finalist, now with Rocky Mountain Books. And secondly, Allan’s Wishes, an all-ages graphic novella I created with brilliant Vancouver artist Brett Jasch.

It was great having you be a part of MTA, Bill. I really enjoyed getting to know you better. Wishing you all the best and if you’re ever near Reno, Nevada, look me up and let’s have coffee! – Camilla

Blurb:

Gone Viking: A Travel Saga. Bestseller Bill Arnott takes readers on a personal odyssey, trekking Europe to Asia, the UK to Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland and the New World in the wake of history’s greatest explorers. With a small pack and weatherproof journal, Bill writes with a journalist’s eye, a poet’s prose, and a comedian’s take on everything else. Prepare yourself for an armchair adventure like no other!

Praise:

This is definitely one of the best reads of the year. – Silver Bow Publishing.

An extremely well-documented travelogue with beautiful imagery. – Ottawa Review of Books.

Where to find Bill’s books:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/billarnott_aps

Gone Viking: A Travel Saga here: https://rmbooks.com/book/gone-viking/

And fun mini tours of my Viking trek here:

Connect with Bill:

Bill’s Website: https://billarnottaps.wordpress.com/

Bill’s Showcase: https://mailchi.mp/dd5400632582/bills-artist-showcase

Facebook: Bill Arnott

Twitter/Instagram: @billarnott_aps

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Latest News: February 2020 Meet the Author Interviews with Most Views

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Thank you for taking the time to read more about these authors and sharing the interviews on this website. A great deal of work goes into these interviews by the authors and by me. Deep gratitude! –Camilla, Founder & Host

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Book Shelf: Tomorrow to be Brave – A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion by Susan Travers with Wendy Holden

Tomorrow to be Brave – A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion by Susan Travers with Wendy Holden

My interest in this book was due to having interviewed Wendy Holden on MeetingtheAuthors.com. I really enjoyed meeting Wendy and getting to know her, so went in search of any books my local library had authored by Wendy. They have several that I’m making my way through. I’ve also requested the library purchase her newest book!

A gripping true story that left me in awe of this courageous woman. An up close and intimate tale of what was endured by those who fought World War II, told through Susan Travers’ eyes about what she experienced.

Follow the link to learn more about Wendy and her other books …

Meet the Author: One Hundred Miracles by Wendy Holden

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2tr2dgC

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Meet the Author: Devil in the Wind by Frank Prem

Today we welcome Frank Prem to Meet the Authors. We’re travelling to Beechworth, in the North East corner of Victoria, Australia to hear what storytelling, Psychiatric Nursing, playing the ukulele, photographs, and the Grampians mean to Frank.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I describe myself as a storytelling poet with a forty year apprenticeship behind me. That’s about how long I’ve been writing my poetry – mostly in an idiosyncratic free verse style, that is part poetry and part storytelling.

I live, together with my wife Leanne, in a pretty little town called Beechworth, in the North East corner of Victoria, Australia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechworth). Beechworth attracts thousands of tourist visitors every year because of its gold mining and bushranging background during the mid to late 1800s. A bushranger is the Australian equivalent of an wild west outlaw, or a highwayman, and we had quite a few around this way, most notably Ned Kelly and the Kelly gang about whom much has been written.

By profession, I’m a Psychiatric Nurse, and have worked across a wide range of roles in Psychiatry though my working career. My next published poetry collection will be a personal memoir of my experience in Psychiatry, tentatively titled – The New Asylum.

In my early days as a poet, I sought out as many opportunities as I could to get my work published, and had a good number of successes, but I grew weary of having my work not accepted, without knowing the reason, so I largely stopped seeking publication, in favour of developing my own writing style and voice, until just three years ago beginning to post my work on a personal creative blog (https://www.frankprem.wordpress.com) and using that as both, an online archive for my work, and as a way of attracting readers to find and engage with my work.

In the six months since December 2018, I have published two collections in book and ebook form. These are:

1. Small Town Kid – a free verse memoir of growing up in a rural setting in Australia in the 1960s and 70s.

2. Devil In The Wind – a free verse poetic rendition of the voices of survivors and victims of the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires we experienced in 2009.

In which genre do you write?

I write almost exclusively in my own free verse poetry form. I write using very little punctuation, and in quite short lines.

As I’ve gone along I’ve developed my approach so that my line breaks and stanza breaks serve as a form of punctuation – encouraging pause and nuance in the reading, and giving a cue for taking a breath.

I don’t often write a line longer than about 4 words in length, these days.

Regardless of genre, though, I believe every piece, long or short, needs to convey a sense of story – beginning, middle and end. This can be a challenge, at times.

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

I was always a good reader at school and was very engaged with the stories that I read. That interest extended to story writing in English classes at high school as I progressed through the grades.

There was an occasion where, out of sheer laziness, I believe, I decided to cut corners and several hundred words off my assignment by doing it in the form of a poem. Very quickly and very easily.

I was a little dumbstruck to receive a high grade for the work and I think that may have been all the encouragement I needed to set me on the trail of experimenting with poetry as a genre.

I attempted to self publish some of my work in book form quite a few years ago, but the technology wasn’t helpful and the costs were enormous, so nothing much came of the first attempt. Print On Demand technology makes a world of difference to an up and coming poet like myself, but is probably a whole different discussion in its own right.

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

For a few years now, I’ve been playing ukulele and singing in a community choir/ensemble, here in Beechworth.

It has always been a delight to me to sing, but until I started playing the uke, I rarely managed to sing in tune. The uke has changed that.

Last Spring we recorded ourselves in a couple of songs that were pasted on Facebook. Readers might enjoy a listen, so I’ll pop in a couple of links to the songs:

Dog and Mob (written by Leanne and myself): https://www.facebook.com/springsingbeechworth/videos/20339179721516/

Boris and Maria – a very short little love song: https://www.facebook.com/springsingbeechworth/videos/765584533788001/UzpfSTEwMDAyNTI1MTY3NTExMzpWSzoxMzkxOTQ3NDE3NjA2NTU1/?q=boris%20and%20maria&epa=SEARCH_BOX

What does your ideal writing space look like?

At the moment it is my dining room and dining table – very impromptu quarters, but I don’t really need all that much.

We’ve begun planning to build a sort of Men’s Shed outside the back door that will become my Writer’s Den, but that is still to happen. I’m looking forward to it because my needs are changing. As I become more ambitious in my writing endeavours, I think dedicated space will be helpful.

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

I’ve been surprised at something that has become something of a skill for me, which is allowing photographs and other pictorial images to inspire interesting poetry. There is what feels like a kind of empathy that I am able to apply to allow a story to emerge.

Sounds a bit mumbo jumbo, but perhaps I can illustrate with a small poem.

This one was taken from a series of photographs I took while walking through a collectibles barn. I later sat down and wrote the story that each picture suggested.

Voices #15: chill factor

people say
I am cold

my demeanor

my manner

cold

I hardly consider them
worthy
of my time

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 prepare by reading my material aloud several times in the lead up to a speaking engagement. On the occasion itself, I’m generally a little numb with performance anxiety. It always feels very important to me to present as knowing my material and also my limitations as a presenter, so the audience feels I’m within my range of competence at all times.

Where music is important to me is in the actual writing.

I find I write much better if I can find some music in my head – not a song as such, just music, as I believe that our language is musical and I need to be able to sing my way through the poem, in order to know that it will read well after I put my pen down.

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

I truly do believe things happen for a reason. I went through a long lifetime, doing the best I could – sometimes ok, sometimes not so good – but it was only after passing through a very low ebb that I met the lady who completes my life.

The whole of my life was spent, I now believe, preparing me to be the man I needed to be from that point on.

As an aside, we met at a poetry open mic session in Melbourne. I was reading my 3 poem set and she sang a song. Life is sweet, sometimes.

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

We have a quite wild part of our state named the Grampians (indigenous name – Gariwerd). Strange rock formations, wonderful wildlife and bush. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grampians_National_Park

This area is about a half days travel from where we live and we always find it to be a spiritually uplifting place.

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

My most recent collection is titled Devil In The Wind. This book is a free verse collection of poems that are my interpretation of the voices of survivors and victims of the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires that took place here in Victoria in 2009.

I personally feel that the fires have left my whole State traumatised and that we haven’t psychologically recovered from the experience yet.

I enjoyed learning more about you, your life, and writing style. I also write poetry inspired by photographs, with a bit of twist from your style as mine are using the nature photographs I make. It’s wonderful to meet someone else who has a similar style. The Grampians sound like my kind of place to visit. I look forward to reading your poetry collections Frank! It was a pleasure having you be a part of MTA! –Camilla

Book Trailer:

I also have recently started a YouTube channel which I’ve begun to populate with a few videos of myself reading from Devil In The Wind.

The link to that is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvfW2WowqY1euO-Cj76LDKg

Blurb for Devil In The Wind

Devil In The Wind is an account of catastrophic fire and its immediate aftermath.

In this 21st century, the whole world seems to be on fire. America burns. Europe burns. Greece is reeling after its own tragedy of fire.

And Australia burns, as it has always done, but now so much more fiercely.

In February 2009, wildfires burnt through entire communities, taking 173 lives and injuring hundreds, while destroying thousands of houses and other buildings. Up to 400 fires destroyed 450,000 hectares of forest, native fauna and habitat, livestock and farmland.

In the aftermath of the fires, the voices of people who had lived through the experience — victims, rescuers, and observers — were spoken and were heard.

Devil In The Wind is Frank Prem’s poetic anthology of the personal, and very human, accounts of those who themselves experienced and survived Black Saturday. Poetry writing that interacts directly with readers emotions.

The collection is available in paperback book form at all the good online retailers, and in e-book form through Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

Devil In The Wind (ISBN 978-0-9751442-6-8):

Amazon (Available in all markets): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/097514426X/

Booktopia: https://www.booktopia.com.au/devil-in-the-wind-frank-prem/prod9780975144268.html

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Devil-Wind-Frank-Prem/9780975144268?

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130932330?ean=9780975144268

Small Town Kid (ISBN 978-0-9751442-3-7):

Amazon (Available in all markets): https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07L6114KS

Booktopia: https://www.booktopia.com.au/small-town-kid-frank-prem/prod9780975144237.html

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Small-Town-Kid-Frank-Prem/9780975144237?

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/small-town-kid-frank-prem/1129995806?ean=9780975144237

Connect with Frank:

Author Page: https://FrankPrem.com

Poetry Blog: https://frankprem.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frank_prem

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frankprem2

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 – Founder and Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Apple Island Wife by Fiona Stocker

Today we welcome Fiona Stocker as we travel to Tasmania to learn how River Cottage, a sloth, The Time Traveller’s Wife, and Four Weddings and a Funeral are a part of Fiona’s business, life, and writings. Get ready to get in the zone ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an Englishwoman living in Tasmania. We moved here for a slower lifestyle. Last year I had a travel memoir Apple Island Wife – Slow Living in Tasmania, released by an independent publisher in the UK. It’s kind of like A Year in Provence or Driving Over Lemons, but in Australia. I live on five acres with my husband, two children, Alice the incompetent collie, Charlie the killer cat, and around thirty-five pigs.

In which genre do you write?

I have just published a travel memoir, about living in Tasmania – think A Year in Provence and Driving Over Lemons, and then add breastfeeding. It’s the wife’s tale. Long overdue.

How many published books do you have?

This is the first book I’ve had published in my own name. A couple of years ago I was commissioned to write a book for a women’s farming group here in Tasmania, which is jollier than it sounds. Farming women are full of grit, and their lives make for great stories. I’ve also worked as ghost writer and editor on a book of short travel stories about women traveling solo, and a couple of other books too.

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

When I was sixteen my English teacher Mr. Warnett put a comment in red pen on an essay I wrote saying I had a particular way with words and would do well to nurture it. There wasn’t a big tradition of encouraging one’s children in my family or even talking to them and I spent a lot of time alone in my bedroom listening to Dire Straits. Mr Warnett’s comment was the first time anybody had taken an interest, and gave me a hint of what might be. (My parents are very loving, they were probably downstairs watching Morecamble and Wise. Parenting has changed a lot in the space of one generation, we’re all a lot more interested now.)

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

I gaze furiously at my laptop screen when writing and if I’m in the flow with a deep frown on my face, my husband knows he must not interrupt me for fear of severe consequences.

I also think that good writing comes with practice. I’ve written professionally as an advertising copywriter, and write freelance journalism and press releases and other communications in my work now. I can do what I do quickly and efficiently and I know immediately and instinctively whether something is working or right, or not.

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

I’d possibly have a sloth, as they get a lot of sleep, which I love, but they’re not good communicators and I’d find that frustrating. I have a teenage daughter, she’s fifteen, and doing a lot of internal adjustment which requires a lot of sleep. She reminds me of a sloth, another reason for choosing said creature, because it would remind me of the miracle of her.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

If I’m in the zone, I can write anywhere. I’ve written in the back of my car, in my very untidy office with piles of notebooks around me, in the foyer of a local college while my daughter and son do band practice with their college wind instrument band (think trumpets). If I’m below par, I write in bed. I channel Roald Dahl for this. He wrote in a shed at the bottom of his garden, but I dress it up the same way, woolen blanket, one of those breakfast trays for my laptop, a pile of paperbacks for my mouse to sit on, the curtains drawn, the cat at the bottom of the bed, and the electric blankets set on ‘toasty’.

What are you currently reading?

Anna Funder’s book All That I Am, about a small group of artists and writers fighting fascism in the second world war. It’s intense. Also Flesh Wounds by Richard Glover, an Australian journalist. This is his memoir. It’s very revealing and also very funny. I admire a man who can write personal detail unflinchingly. I believe a lot of men think they’re too important to do that, that the domestic and the familial is women’s realm and we should be left to it. Those men need to be given lots of the housework to do, have their pocket money taken away, and stick to a 5pm curfew until they shape up. (Removing self from soap box now.)

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

I’d have an afternoon coffee date with Henry from Audrey Nifenegger’s book The Time Traveller’s Wife. I’d ask him how his day has been. And I’d most definitely sleep with him.

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

That I’ll do pretty much anything to make my writing and my book sell.

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

When I began writing Apple Island Wife, it was as a blog. That really helped pull the book together because I had this huge bank of material – 135 posts. It had to be rewritten because the voices for blog and book are very different. That was a very long exercise which required a bit of discipline and determination. You’re in it for the long haul as a writer. Since then I’ve made sure I keep notes, some in notebooks, and sometimes for the next book I just collect info that’s relevant and shove it into a file in Word, with a well key-worded file name.

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

I met the man who is said to be the world’s sixth best chef last year. I interviewed him for eleven minutes for a newspaper article. He looked a bit scary during the research phase – he’s a serious, Brazilian ju-jitsu master. He turned out to be insanely genial, generous and completely absent of ego. I was completely smitten and loved the piece I wrote. The bloody editor who had commissioned it then never got back to me so it remained unpublished. So I put it on my blog recently. Shooting Star: Alex Atala Does Tasmania.

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 always have a water bottle with drops of Rescue Remedy in it. That stuff is magic.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Nothing! My life gets infinitely better as I get older, know more and am prepared to sweat the small stuff less.

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

I watched Four Weddings and a Funeral the other day, for the umpteenth time. It’s brilliantly written. The dialogue is tight, it has fantastic running gags, and great characters. So clever the way Hugh ends up saying ‘I do’ – that’s very neat narrative making. I like the swearing too. And it was the first movie that depicted a gay couple respectfully. So much to like, and it never fails to amuse.

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

I’ve got quite strong willpower. Every so often I mess up and offend somebody,usually by saying something unguarded. I used to agonise and beat myself up and spend hours in deep self-recrimination. Now I just think this is me and I’ve got to like myself anyway, live with myself, forgive myself and get on. People forget things, and they get over things, and maybe they needed telling. Nobody is perfect, and this is what’s meant by that saying. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to hold the view that there’s not much time left. It certainly keeps you on a straight path to what you really want to wring from life!!

Thank you for joining us on MTA Fiona. It was interesting to learn more about you and your book! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2N9fqmJ

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

UA Amazon: https://amzn.to/2UItt3A

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: People Who Hurt by Celia Micklefield

Today we welcome Celia Micklefield as we travel to Norfolk on the east coast of England to discover how writing short stories, growing vegetables, complex characters, narcissism, a barn owl, and curiosity are a part of the fullness of Celia’s human experience. Slip into the gardening shoes, let’s go …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My real name is Celia Smith but I write in my maiden name: Celia Micklefield. I used to think that was a good idea but now I know how difficult it is to fit such a long surname on the book cover!

I was born in the county of West Yorkshire in the north of England where folks call a spade exactly what it is. I’ve lived in Scotland, near Aberdeen, where for the most part I couldn’t tell what people were saying at all and for nine years I lived in southern France where my schoolgirl French improved considerably. Now I live in Norfolk on the east coast of England. It’s a wildlife wonderland with its inland waterways, wooded areas, windmills and quaint villages. I often use inspiration from nature in my short stories. That’s how I began: writing short stories for a UK women’s magazine. Since then I’ve published two short story collections, three novels and one non-fiction book. I’m currently working on my fourth novel with another two in the pipeline.

Leisure time is usually spent in my garden. I love growing vegetables but have to make sure the deer can’t get at them or they’d eat the lot.

In which genre do you write?

I suppose you could call my work Women’s Fiction but they’re all different.

How many published books do you have?

I have six self-published books. I used to have an agent but it didn’t work out so I went ahead by myself.

My first novel, Patterns of Our Lives, is a UK saga set partly during World War Two.

It’s essentially a multi-generational story about love and the sacrifices people make in its name.

My second novel, Trobairitz – the Storyteller is harder to classify. Trobairitz were female troubadours in France during the 12th and 13th centuries. My Trobairitz is a contemporary woman entertaining other truck drivers at an overnight stop in Languedoc by telling them a story. Her main character is an ex sex worker, now in her seventies who has a running battle with the current mayor of the village and his grandfather.

My third novel, The Sandman and Mrs Carter is a psychological mystery. Narrated by five main characters the story of Wendy Carter unfolds through their different points of view.

All my fiction is character-led. I love stories with multiple threads and complex characters with problems to solve. There’s usually a mystery woven in and maybe a tragedy or two. Life isn’t all sweetness and light so I hope to reflect the fullness of human experience in my work.

My two collections of short stories feature work that isn’t suitable for women’s magazines as they prefer, if not a happy ending, at least a hopeful one. Women’s magazines fiction tends to shy away from difficult subjects too but I love to jump into the dark stuff every now and then. In Arse(d) Ends you’ll find dark comedy, sexual harassment and sibling rivalry. In Queer As Folk the story Lemon Meringue captures sisterly love when one suffers from dementia, for example.

My sixth book, People Who Hurt is non-fiction. Part memoir, part informational the book outlines covert, passive aggressive narcissism and the abusive patterns of behaviour individuals with this personality disorder inflict on their partners. I make this book free as often as Amazon allows and I’m pleased to know it’s helping others realise that not all abuse is physical.

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

I’m slow. In everything I do I’m slow. In 2013 I was hit and knocked down by a careless driver. My bones mended but my central nervous system didn’t and I’m in pain all the time. My condition’s been diagnosed as CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) so on low pain days I write as much as I can. On other days my energy is used up by just getting up. It’s taken me a whole week to fill in this questionnaire. I can’t sit in one position too long or my muscles spasm and my joints lock. That’s how slow I am.

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

The barn owl.

After I’d left the abusive relationship I lived with friends until the legalities were finalised. It took three years to get my money out of the property we’d bought together because of his delaying tactics and spurious claims against me. I began looking for a place of my own but was anxious it should be the kind of home where I could find peace.

As I drew up in preparation to park outside the cottage I wanted to view, a barn owl flew low over the roof of my car. I watched it fly down the lane ahead of me. Its wings were majestic, beating slowly, calmly. It wasn’t in any kind of rush. I felt it was an omen. If a beautiful creature like that was happy meandering along this country backwater then this was the place for me.

What does your ideal working space look like?

Ah, it’s beautiful. Deep in the forest there’s a hidden clearing beside a lake. Distant mountains rise in misty mauve beyond the tree line. There, like Snow White surrounded by cute animals, I sit in my cottage and the words flow like magic.

In reality I’m in the spare bedroom with my trusty iMac up against the window. I can see cute animals, though. Except for when they’re eating my vegetables. They’re not cute then!

What are you currently reading?

Currently I’m not reading anything other than research for my next book but I have The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan on my Kindle ready to begin.

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

Not a lot. I like a quiet life. But I do like visiting foreign countries when I’m able. I usually pay for it afterwards and have to rest but I love the Greek islands in particular. I can look at that turquoise water for hours!

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

I’d choose Daphne du Maurier. I keep a copy of Rebecca near my work station to remind me of the power of character. I’d like to ask her what she’d change about the book for today’s readers.

Do you believe things happen for a reason?

I do now. Everything is a learning experience. I like to think we are spiritual beings having a human experience. If I hadn’t experienced loss, grief, betrayal, bereavement, etc. how would I know what it felt like? I want to write well about how these emotions affect my characters and the things they do. My research following time with an abusive partner opened my eyes to a hidden world of domestic abuse and it pleases me that my story is helping others in similar situations to come to an understanding of what happened to them.

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

I think I must name two things:

Curiosity. I have to look things up. I want to know the reasons, meanings, backstory, processes, outcomes etc. etc. I love learning. Very useful for writers.

Patience. Without it there’d be no number one!

What is your most recent work and what is your work in progress?

My most recent book is People Who Hurt and the link is above. My work in progress is A Measured Man, an unsentimental, passionless romantic comedy aimed at mature readers. At the rate I’m going it could be finished in 2020!

Please drop in and say hello at my website or facebook page. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thank you for being a part of MTA Celia. It was wonderful learning more about you and your writing style. –Camilla

Where to find Celia’s books:

People Who Hurt:

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ZP5LaA

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/31dYw9C

Patterns of Our Lives:

getBook.at/POOL

Trobairitz:

getBook.at/TTS

The Sandman and Mrs Carter:

getBook.at/TSAMC

Arse(d) Ends:

getBook.at/AE

Queer As Folk:

getBook.at/QAF

Website: www.celiamicklefield.com and Celia has an author page on Facebook also.

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: Eat, Pray, #FML by Gabrielle Stone

Today we welcome Gabrielle Stone as we travel to Los Angeles, California and we learn how a unicorn, romantic love, Dee Wallace, being a foodie, and Robin Williams all play a role in Gabrielle’s life and how this book came to be. Pack your travel bag and let’s go ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi! I’m an actress/director born and raised in Los Angeles. I’ve always loved poetry and creative writing but I never considered myself a writer. That has changed considering I have a book out now. 2017 was an absolute tornado in my life and the only thing that got me through it all was writing it all down…in this book!

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

I didn’t really realize I wanted to be a writer. My circumstances that prompted me to write Eat, Pray, #FML more or less happened to me. A shocking divorce after finding out my husband was having an affair with a nineteen-year-old for six months. Falling madly in love with someone new, only to be broken up with forty-eight hours before we were getting on a plane to Italy. Everyone in my life kept saying “you can’t write this stuff,” so, I did.

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

I am a serious foodie. If I didn’t care about the shape my body was in, I would literally out eat most of the men in my life. I definitely didn’t hold back on my Europe trip (and paid for it when I got home). For the record, I regret nothing.

What is the most beautiful memory you have of something shared between you and your mother, Dee Wallace?

That’s a tough (but great) question. There are so very many. Were best friends. My mother has been the one constant in my life that has always shown up for me no matter what. So while we have a million light hearted and beautiful memories it’s the times where she had to help me pick up the broken pieces that truly matter the most.

For one, taking care of me when my father passed. I write about how strong she was at handling that whole situation in the book. When my high school sweetheart was killed in a car accident. My divorce. I don’t know how I would have ever made it through any of it without her.

What is the most inspiring advice your mother has shared with you to date?

-Again, THERE’S SO MUCH. If I had to pick one, it would probably be to not be a victim. If I hadn’t learned to not succumb to the victim-ness in situations I probably would have lost my mind a long time ago. It has shaped me into who I am and how I handle situations. This is the reason I am as strong as I am.

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

A unicorn. Cause I’m freaking magical.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I wrote Eat, Pray, #FML in a leather bound journal on my Europe trip. There were days I wrote in cafes, on beautiful balconies, in the Gardens of Versailles, long train rides, incredible restaurants, and beautiful beaches. Because of this I would say that anywhere with rich culture and beauty is my ideal space. I think I definitely got spoiled in that sense 😉

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?

Robin Williams. What Dreams May Come is one of my all time favorite films. He had such a light about him that was inevitably taken over by the dark. He was one of the true geniuses of our time.

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

Writing this book quite literally uncovered every deep rooted belief I have carried with me since I was a child. My fear of abandonment, how I handle intimacy, not feeling okay by myself. I have never learned or healed more than I did while writing this book. It was like therapy for me.

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?

This entire book is a collection of strange and ridiculous experiences that happened over a few months in my life. A divorce, romantic love story, a last minute solo adventure, sex, mistakes, growing, traveling to seven different countries by myself, and learning how to love myself. Every single thing on this adventure lead me to something I needed to either heal or learn. I came back from that trip an entirely different human, in the best way possible.

What do you miss about being a kid?

LITERALLY EVERYTHING. The simplicity of life, mostly. Not having any inhibitions or fear of being judged for things. Being a kid is one of the most pure and innocent times in our lives. I was always in such a rush to grow up and get older. While there are things I love about being an adult and my current life, I definitely miss not having a care in the world. And being able to eat whatever I wanted.

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

Don’t let anyone dim your freaking light.

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

Ha! What a fun question. Probably Rugrats. I was obsessed. Or The Berenstain Bears. I had every book and VHS.

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

MY ENTIRE BOOK. From the moment I found out I would be taking this trip on my own, I knew it was all happening for a reason. I have always been scared to be by myself–the Universe delivered a clear way for me to go force myself to deal with that head on. Every single decision I made on that trip lead me to exactly where I needed to be. Every person that crossed my path crossed it for a reason. If I hadn’t have made certain decisions things would have ended up so differently, and I would not be where I am now.

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

Somewhere out of the country, by the water, on a sunny day with a light breeze. Preferably with lots of pasta and lots of wine.

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

Eat, Pray, #FML is available now exclusively on Amazon in paperback and ebook! I love hearing what people think, during and after the read, and love sharing it on my social media, so please tag me and the book so we can see and share!

Thank you Gabrielle for joining us on Meeting the Authors. It was wonderful to learn a bit about your background and the parts that come together for the role of your life.

I am a huge Dee Wallace fan. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, the most memorable role for me of your mother, is the mom in the movie E.T. I loved that movie as a kid! It was not until about 7 years ago that I re-discovered Dee through a friend. I have been inspired and moved by her ever since through her newsletter and blog talk radio. And, her newsletter is how I heard about your book! Good stuff! –Camilla

Synopsis:

A year and a half into our marriage, I found out my husband had been having an affair with a nineteen-year-old for six months. I filed for divorce and left.

Two weeks later I met a man, and we fell madly in love. It was a fairy-tale romance for a month and a half, and he convinced me to join him on a romantic month-long vacation in Italy. Forty-eight hours before we were supposed to get on a plane, he told me he needed to go by himself. I was devastated. So, I had a decision to make. Either stay home and be heartbroken, or go travel Europe for a month by myself. And staying at home heartbroken? F%*k. That.

What does a woman do when her life has fallen apart and her heart has been ripped out and stepped on twice in two months? She goes on a wild adventure, makes some bad decisions, and does a sh*t load of soul searching. But most importantly? She finds out how to love…herself.

This is so not Eat, Pray, Love.
This is Eat, Pray, #FML.

Where to buy and connect with Gabrielle:

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

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2J1egXc

Website: https://www.EatPrayFML.com

Social Media:
@gabriellestone
@eatprayfml

Book Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8m2K2LJJPE&t=3s

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