Ellwyn’s Blog

Interview With Historical Author Emma Lombard

By way of introduction to Emma Lombard, here’s her bio.

I am an Australian author living in sunny Brisbane. I was born in the UK and I called Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years before moving to Australia in 2000.

Before I started writing historical fiction, I was and still am a master goat wrangler—in other words: a mother to four teenage sons! 

In my past life, I was a freelance editor in the corporate world and lent my editing prowess to various industries including aviation, aquatic ecology, education and the world of academia. But now, I am a full-time writer.

I am an active member of Twitter’s #WritingCommunity where I love welcoming new writers to social media and helping them find their voices. It is what inspired my blog series Twitter Tips for Newbies.

Now that you’ve been introduced to Emma, let’s get to know her a little better.

Hello, Emma, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to be a writer?

I produced my first hand-drawn book at age nine. I completed my first full manuscript at age fourteen.

Little did I realise how lucky I was at the time that through a friend, my raw manuscript was placed directly in front of an editor at a major publishing house (oh, what I wouldn’t give for that opportunity now!)

Having learned more about the publishing process, I now understand what a privilege it was for me to get that personalised rejection letter full of encouragement and advice—but at the time, it hurt so much!

Then life got in the way for a while and it wasn’t until later that I had the time and willpower to sit down and write seriously again. 

Is writing your full-time profession?

In 2018, I bit the bullet and gave up being a freelance editor in the corporate world to write full time.

I began treating my writing career seriously, investing time and resources into it as you would any new business.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing my current historical fiction series since 2016. I wanted to get a few manuscripts under my belt, not only for the experience but also to have enough material available should publication of my first book go well.

I love reading a book series, so it felt natural to write a story with series potential.

How many books have you written?

I have a four-book series under my belt. The first book, Discerning Grace, is fully polished and edited, and is currently in the querying trenches looking for an agent.

I’m busy revising and re-writing my second book. The other two are completed manuscripts that have been beta read several times but still need some polishing.

Which genre do you write?  

Historical fiction. Not only did my story find its origins from a true story back in the 1800s, but I prefer having a wealth of source documents to research in order to build the world in which my story takes place.

I take my hat off to science fiction and fantasy writers who create whole worlds from their imaginations!

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?

Interestingly enough, there were several scenes I wrote based on factual events or characters that today’s modern audience (aka my beta readers and my editor) found implausible.

So, I had to find that sweet spot between toning down some of the more colourful events and keeping the plot going while still maintaining the historical flavour.

I also unearthed how much of an influence popular culture has on historical events that have been inaccurately portrayed over the years either through fictionalisation or screen adaptation. 

As a historical writer, you want to ensure you get all the facts straight but sometimes there comes a point in your story where creative license kicks in and certain events have to go a certain way to keep your readers engaged and entertained.

Some historical authors stick strictly to the facts, and kudos to them because this requires an extraordinary amount of research! But I have enjoyed bending the rules a little here and there to keep my story flowing.

Here’s an incredible blog post by historical editor, Andrew Noakes, who gathered the Top Tips on Writing Historical Fiction From 64 Successful Historical Novelists.

What are you working on now?

I have just signed up for a historical fiction writer’s group in which we will share, collaborate with and critique each other’s manuscripts. I honed my first book to be ready for querying by extensively using beta readers, professional manuscript assessors and an editor.

For my second book, I am trying a different approach by also using critique partners. Of course, I’ll still use my loyal beta readers who are all so wonderfully passionate about my story and my characters.

And my book shall not see the light of day until my editor has thoroughly picked it apart and helped me sew it back together again.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

My inspiration came from my grandmother who told me a juicy bit of family gossip!

This is what her letter said, ‘Your GGG grandmother was only 16 when she ran away from home to marry a sea captain… her family cut her off and she sailed the seas with him…’

As my grandmother put it, they were ‘… obviously a very enlightened couple, and she a very, very liberated woman.’ I knew right away I wanted to write that story—though mine is purely fictionalized.

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?  

Although I haven’t published my books yet, I have had the happy accident of publishing a blog series that took off—much to my utter surprise and delight! 

During my authoring journey, I researched the importance of having an author platform and one of the key elements of this is social media.

I had successfully dodged the social media bullet until that point, having not much interest in it for personal use. When I then dived into the deep end and re-launched my dormant Twitter account, I was hopelessly lost and overwhelmed.

However, I persevered, researched and experimented, and slowly I got the hang of it. I started a blog series called Twitter Tips for Newbies, mainly to document my bumbling journey into social media as a newbie, but it has gained a life of its own.

Clearly, it resonates with many other new-to-social-media users out there!

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

There is SO much conflicting advice out there, even from publishing gurus, book marketers, editors, literary agents and published authors!

I scoured hundreds of social media accounts and blogs to find a handful of these professionals whose advice I liked, and whose advice fitted in with my long-term plan, and whose voice I enjoyed reading and learning from.

You don’t have to go on this adventure alone but pick who you want on your team and then filter out the rest of the noise to focus on achieving your writing and/or publishing goals.

Here are a few of my preferred go-to professionals (all of whom I follow on social media too):

Publishing guru: Jane Friedman

Book marketer: Shalya Raquel

Writing coaches: Angela Ackerman and Meg La Torre

Editors: Andrew Noakes and Maria Tureaud

Literary agents: Janet Reid (aka The Query Shark) and Eric Smith 

Published authors: Delilah S. Dawson and Diana Gabaldon

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?

To combat my chronic fear of heights, I climbed the Eiffel Tower TWICE! Gulp! Not sure that it cured me altogether, but it has helped lessen some of the terror!

What message are you sharing in your books?

The themes in my first novel, Discerning Grace, include:

an independent woman

the importance of love over money

appearances can be deceiving

love can conquer all

triumph over adversity

What are your favorite books?

The books I first fell in love with as a teenager were Wilbur Smith’s historical-adventure-family-sagas, particularly the Courtney series!

The first book that ever made me cry was The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay.

My current passion is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I’m definitely Team Jamie!

If you could create an author’s group with writers from any time period, who would you invite?

All three of the authors mentioned above!

Who has influenced your writing the most?

I have drawn on Wilbur Smith’s galloping historical adventures that don’t shy away from sweeping the globe and diving into other cultures.

Diana Gabaldon’s epic historical tomes are a brilliant source for learning how to use all your senses as a writer to build the old world, and for painting deep and meaningful relationships between characters, despite their human flaws.

When you’re not writing, where can we find you?

In the car, ferrying teenage boys to and from work.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?

Ooo, isn’t this every writer’s dream!

Due to the nature of my story aboard a 19th century Royal Naval tall ship, there aren’t that many female characters, though I could play no role on the ship since I get hideously sea sick!

I would have to stick with a role that is safe on land, perhaps one of the guests at the debutante ball in my opening scene—flouncy gown and all!

An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do?

I’d send a letter to Santa at the North Pole informing him that one of his elves has gone rogue, and that he should send Mrs Claus with the med kit!

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Where can we find your books?

Alas, they are not out yet but in the meantime, folks are welcome to pop over to my website to meet some of my characters or subscribe to ‘By the Book’ Newsletter for some light authorly chats and to keep up-to-date with my book release news.

Thank you, Emma, for spending time with us and sharing your story as well as all the informative author links.

We look forward to seeing your books on store shelves one day. We wish you and Twitter Tips For Newbies continued success and lots of luck!

Trick Or Treat By: Ellwyn Autumn and Noel Cedric Harrison

Trick or Treat,

Rhyme and reason,

It’s the spooky

Hallow season.

Trick or Treat,

You and me,

What a wicked

Sight to see.

Trick or Treat,

Truth or dare,

We intend to

Stomp and scare.

Trick or Treat,

Poison and potion,

Eerie things

Are set in motion.

Trick or treat,

Round and round,

The dead are

Rising from the ground.

Trick or Treat,

Up is down,

Zombies shamble

Through the town.

Trick or Treat,

Witch or Were,

Steamy cauldrons

In the Square.

Trick or Treat,

Black and blue,

Come with me and

Stir your brew.

Trick or Treat,

Black and white,

Ghosts and goblins

Haunt and fright.

Trick or Treat,

East Meets West,

Scaring people

Is the best.

Trick or Treat,

Here and there,

Hags on broomsticks

Fill the air.

Trick or Treat,

Night and day,

Ghouls and wraiths

Have come to play.

Trick or Treat,

Bells and buttons,

Vampires are

Bloody gluttons.

Trick or Treat,

Bats and cats,

Be careful

Of rabid rats.

Trick or Treat,

Frick and frack,

Go away and

Don’t come back.

Trick or Treat,

Big and small,

Happy Haunting

To one and all!

Interview With Author J. Lee Graham

As an actor, middle-grade author and playwright, J. Lee Graham dabbles in various types of storytelling. I met him at a small bookshop in Cape May, New Jersey and we had a nice conversation about children’s literature and how essential reading is to success.

I found him to be intelligent and well-versed on a number of topics. He enjoys pursuing his spiritual side through astrology and currently teaches ASL (American Sign Language) and ESL at various schools.

Now that I’ve Introduced you to J. Lee, let’s get to know him a little better.

What inspired you to be a writer?

I have always wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager. I read voraciously when I was young and still do. When, at 13, I announced to my family that I wanted to be a writer; they laughed at me. That stifled that ambition for many years. Luckily, I’m making up for lost time.

How long have you been writing?

For about fifteen years. I had written radio mystery shows when I was younger and that was fun. I also wrote three plays.

How many books have you written?

I have written five books (4 MG and 1 YA) and working on number six for MG.

For MG:
THE SCULPTURED ROCKS

A time travel trilogy for MG:
IN THE NICK OF TIME
THE TIME OF HIS LIFE
ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD.

One YA book: THE PROMISE OF LIVING

Which genre do you write? 

I write mostly for Middle Grade, the upper end of the spectrum, so that would be ages 9-12, although 13- and 14-year-olds can relate to them as well because of the dark nature of the content. I also wrote one YA book, a coming of age novel set on a farm.

What do you find most challenging writing for these genres?

Keeping a balance between writing for that age range and their life experiences while raising the bar on creating good dialogue, challenging vocabulary and a strong connected plot and theme.

What are you working on now?

My new 6th novel is called THE GUARDIANS, another MG novel featuring a 14-year-old boy named Nick.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

Life, people one meets, or has met, or simply sees in an airport, or a café, who offer a seed of inspiration. The fun part about inspiration is the running with it, seeing where it takes you!

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work? 

Having young readers tell me how affected they were by my novels.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

READ the classics! If you only read what other current books are out there in your field, you can’t improve. Write, write, write!

What message are you sharing in your books?

My message always invokes the sense of authenticity and integrity that lies within each of us. For an early teen or pre-teen, that is the challenge: to find and define that authenticity.

In my novels, that involves a trial of some kind, akin to The Hero’s Journey. The protagonist must confront the darkness, be it in the form of a bully, or an awful home life or some kind of experience (time travel, ie) never encountered before.

He/She has to face the obstacle, learn something about their own strengths, and take it back to the tribe, however you define that to be, to share their gifts of what they learned.

What are your favorite books/authors?

I’ll need about 3 pages.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?

I don’t watch tv.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?

Be the snarky teacher whom everyone hates!

An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do?

“What kind of dog is that?”

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

No, I don’t. You can follow me on Instagram: jleegraham79

Where can we find your books?

They are available in both book and Kindle version on Amazon.

Thank you, Jeff, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

Claire Buss’ The Gaia Solution

The Gaia Solution, book 3 of The Gaia Collection

AVAILABLE ON KINDLE PREORDER – mybook.to/gaiasolution

Releases 8th November 2019 in paperback & ebook

The Blurb:

Kira, Jed and their friends have fled New Corporation and joined the Resistance, but their relief is short-lived as they discover how decimated the human race has become and learn of an environmental crisis that threatens to destroy their existence. Kira and Jed must travel up the mountain to the New Corporation stronghold, City 50, to bargain for sanctuary while Martha and Dina risk everything to return to City 42 and save those who are left. With the last of her reserves Gaia, the fading spirit of the Earth uses her remaining influence to guide Kira and her friends but ultimately, it’s up to humanity to make the right choice.

More about The Gaia Collection series

The Gaia Collection is Claire’s hopeful dystopian trilogy set 200 years in the future after much of the planet and the human race have been decimated during The Event, when the world went to war with high-energy radiation weapons. In The Gaia Effect, Kira and Jed Jenkins – a young couple who were recently allocated a child – together with their closest friends, discover Corporation have been deliberately lying to them and forcing them to remain sterile. With help from Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, the group of friends begin to fight back against Corporation eventually winning and taking over the governance of City 42.

In The Gaia Project, Corporation fight back under a new, more terrifying organization called New Corp and Kira, Jed and their friends end up fleeing for their lives trying to find a safe place to live. They travel to City 36 and City 9 in vain and must go further afield.

In the final book, The Gaia Solution, the main characters have ended up with the Resistance and not only do they have to deal with surviving against New Corp but an extinction environmental event is looming on the horizon and they’re running out of time to save what’s left of the human race.

Book Buy Links

The Gaia Effectmybook.to/gaiaeffect

The Gaia Projectmybook.to/gaiaproject

The Gaia Solutionmybook.to/gaiasolution

What Readers Say

Praise for The Gaia Effect, winner of the 2017 Raven Award for best sci-fi/fantasy book

‘A story filled with emotion, angst & hope’

‘Brilliant post-apocalyptic science fantasy’

‘Wonderfully written, with a warm friendship at its heart’

‘A fantastic debut novel’

Praise for The Gaia Project

‘A fantastic read from start to end’

‘Great book, thought-provoking read’

‘Mums are the heroes of the story and it’s the relationships that make it all work’

About the Author

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet based in the UK. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with her debut novel, The Gaia Effect, setting her writing career in motion. She continues to write passionately and is hopelessly addicted to cake.

Social Media Links

Facebook: www.facebook.com/busswriter

FB Group: www.facebook.com/groups/BussBookStop

Twitter: www.twitter.com/grasshopper2407

Website: www.cbvisions.weebly.com

Blog: https://www.butidontlikesalad.blogspot.co.uk

Interview With Blogger Gina Rae Mitchell

Gina Rae Mitchell is a creative soul who likes to try her hand at various things: knitting, reading, crafting, and of course blogging. A lover of books, she writes reviews and monthly lists with recommendations on them.

In addition to book reviews, Gina also enjoys writing about food. She lives on a farm and shares knowledgeable tips on gardening, cooking and canning that avid foodies will appreciate. I’m eager to prepare the teriyaki barbecue pineapple chicken recipe. It sounds tasty!

A doting grandmother, Gina believes family comes first.

Now that I’ve introduced you to Gina, let’s get to know her a little better.

Hello, Gina, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.     

What inspired you to be a blogger?

I love to write and talk. Since I live in a remote area, blogging is like talking to friends every day.

Photo courtesy of: Gina Rae Mitchell; courtesy of: Facebook

Can you tell us a little about your blog Gina Rae Mitchell?

I started out blogging about a bit of everything; books, food, crafts, family, & more. In 2019, I have slowly shifted my main focus to books.

Is blogging your full-time profession?

Yes, I suppose you could say that. I am retired, and blogging lets me continue to feel productive, and some months, I even earn a bit of extra “fun” money.

How long have you been blogging?

I have had several blogs over the years beginning around 2008. GRM is the first one I have taken seriously, and I believe that is reflected in my growing following.

How many books have you reviewed?

Since I began my book review business & website last year, about 275. I couldn’t begin to guess how many before I started keeping track of them.

Which genres do you review? 

I review almost all genres. I do not read horror, gore, or erotica. My favorites are probably romantic comedy and children’s books.

What do you find most challenging reviewing for these genres?

Non-fiction is probably the most difficult as I usually don’t have a basic knowledge or possibly even an interest in the subject.

What are you reviewing now?

This week I reviewed two non-fiction books on religious myths and communicating with the nonverbal child, a cowboy romance trilogy, and a dark fantasy novel. I love being introduced to books that would not normally catch my attention.

What has been your most rewarding experience since you started blogging? 

I would have to say it’s connecting with readers. Nothing delights me more than a blog reader letting me know they tried a book I recommended and enjoyed it.

What advice would you give to bloggers just starting out?

Simply write and get your words out there. As you gain your voice and improve your skills, you can go back & polish your earlier posts. That’s a good activity for days when you aren’t in the mood to create new posts. Oh & most important of all…. BACK UP YOUR WORK!

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?

I’m a geeky grandma! I love technology. I create & manage all my own websites and images. They may not be perfect, but I enjoy doing it.

What message are you sharing in your blog?

I believe for the world to be a better place, we should all read books. There is no better way to understand someone different from you than to put yourself in their shoes through a good story.

What are your favorite books/authors?

Oh, I love so many!

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon has been a favorite for years. A recent favorite is The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane by K. Kris Loomis.

The Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene has a place of honor on my bookshelves. My great-grandma introduced me to them, and now I am so pleased to share them with my grandchildren.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?

It’s a Wonderful Life and The Big Chill are my two favorite movies. As for TV, I would have to say Jeopardy and college basketball. I don’t watch a lot of TV shows.

When you’re not blogging, where can we find you?

Somewhere on the farm with my nose in a book or at my grandkids sporting events. I also love to travel. We have been driving all over the US since retiring. That’s the great thing about blogging. You can work from anywhere!

How can an author have their book reviewed by you? 

I have a book review policy on my website. They can use the website contact form or email me at GinaRaeMitchell@gmail.com.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc.?

My website is: GinaRaeMitchell.com. I am most active on Twitter, Goodreads, & Pinterest as @ginaraemitchell.

Thank you, Gina, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

Interview With Bindlestick Books

Founded in December 2005, Bindlestiff Books, is a volunteer-run neighborhood bookstore in West Philadelphia. They fill their shelves with carefully selected children’s books, literary fiction, graphic novels, art, cookbooks, history, labor studies, politics, and much more.

Housed in a pleasant blue building from 1925, their store front window is appealing and redolent of the early 20th century.

Another notable feature that adds to the store’s bygone charm is a Books and Buildings mural by local artist, Jonny Buss. Outlined in a turquoise frame, the warm and cool colors within commingle a friendly and bookish community.

As an all-volunteer enterprise, Bindlestiff Books’ hours can be unpredictable, but they are available Tuesdays (3:30—7:00), Thursdays (Noon—3:30), Saturdays (Noon—7) and Sundays (Noon—5). 

You can also contact them at 4530 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19143; Phone number: 215.662.5780; Email: bindlestiff.bookstore@gmail.com to see if they’re available at other times.

Jon Bekken, one of the store’s representatives, took some time to talk a little about Bindlestiff Books and its fundamental contributions to the community.

Hello, Jon, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

What motivated you to open an Independent Book Store?

We like books, we had a building, and the neighborhood needed a bookstore. There were book stores (new and used) catering to the universities, but nothing serving long-time West Philadelphians.

Can you tell us a little about Bindlestiff Books?

We’re a volunteer-run bookstore, aimed at serving people who walk or bike around the neighborhood.

We carry a fairly wide selection of new books (many of which are discounted); our strongest sections are children’s books, literary fiction and science fiction, politics and history, but we also have Spanish-language and bilingual children’s books, graphic novels, art, African-American, labor, education and gender studies.

We deliberately choose all our books; we don’t have space to carry everything, so we think about what we like and what we think our friends and neighbors would like.

What’s involved with running an independent book store?

It’s mostly about the books, of course. Following new releases, talking to people about what they’re reading, reading the reviews, etc.

But that’s the fun part; the challenge is keeping the store open (recruiting volunteers, organizing the space, managing the finances).

Is competition with online retailers difficult?

They have been able to use their market power to demand special terms from publishers, and so sometimes we can sell books for less than the wholesale price.

But now that happens only for a handful of titles; investors tired of losing millions of dollars every year to establish a monopoly position.

Many people want to hold a book in their hands, to read a few pages, to get a sense of whether it’s the right book for them before buying it. And we’re here for them.

How do small book stores compete with Amazon and Barnes & Noble?

By curating the books, helping people winnow through the tens of thousands of books published each year to find things worth reading.

And of course some folks are on their way to a birthday party or heading out on a trip and need a good book right now.

It’s not clear that B&N will still be here in ten years. They’ve been closing stores across the country and lost tens of millions on their efforts to go digital. They just got bought by an investment firm that is placing a former independent bookseller in charge.

But he’s also running a smaller book chain they own in Great Britain and claims his approach is basically to let managers run stores as if they were independents.

But the whole point of the chains (and of Amazon) was merchandising–targeted promotions, rapid turn-over, books as a disposable product.

I’m not sure how you meld monopolization and merchandising with what people love about bookstores.

What makes your store unique?

We reflect the neighborhood, bridging the community that was here before the developers tried to rebrand our neighborhood and the folks who have been moving in in recent years.

Our volunteers are people who love books, and our selection is as eclectic as they are.

What are your biggest sellers?

We sell a lot of children’s books, a lot of fiction, a lot of books on politics and current events. But we don’t carry lots of copies of any particular title.

We post a best-seller list to our website each month, and a book can often make the list selling 3 or 4 copies. Rather than focus on a few titles, we try to have a broad selection of outstanding books in the areas we stock.

Do you have promotions throughout the year?

We do occasional Giant Book Sales on overstocked titles and sell select new books for $1.00 during the Dollar Strolls down Baltimore Avenue.

Do you have author book signings?

We’ve cut back on events, and now only organize readings when we can partner with someone or have a very clear picture in our mind of who will turn out.

If we’re doing an event with an author, we try to put together something that stands out–the author of a history of Philadelphia transit workers at the Transit Workers Union hall; a book on the clipper ships and the magnates who ran the trans-Pacific trade at a Victorian mansion that’s been converted to a B&B.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

The writing is the most important thing, but once you have your book think about how you want to publish it.

Today anyone can print a few hundred copies of something that looks kind of like a book, the challenge is to connect your book with readers.

Look for publishers who have done a good job with similar books, or talk to authors in your area to find out what’s worked for them.

What are some of your favorite books/authors?

Ursula Le Guin is my favorite author, and The Dispossessed my favorite novel.

We try to carry all her books–and also everything by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, Roxanne Gay, Haruki Murakami, Kobi Yamada, and a few others.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

https://bindlestiffbooks.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/bindlestiffbooks/

Thank you, Jon, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you and Bindlestiff Books continued success and lots of luck!