Interview With Author Deborah Kalb

By way of introduction, here is Deborah Kalb’s bio.

Deborah Kalb is a freelance writer and editor. She spent about two decades working as a journalist in Washington, D.C., for news organizations including Gannett News Service, Congressional QuarterlyU.S. News & World Report, and The Hill, mostly covering Congress and politics.

Her book blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, which she started in 2012, features hundreds of interviews she has conducted with a wide variety of authors.

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

Thank you for having me.

When did the writing bug ensnare you?

I’ve always been interested in writing. I grew up in a family of writers and journalists, so I guess it was just something in the air. I remember writing a “novel” in third grade in a series of black-and-white notebooks.

Is writing your full-time profession?

At this point, more or less. I was a journalist for many years but have been focusing more lately on writing books, plus freelance writing and editing.

How long have you been writing?

Most of my life. But specifically, in terms of published books, for more than a decade now.

How many published books have you written?

I’ve written a nonfiction book for adults (with my father, Marvin Kalb)–Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama.

I’ve written three children’s books, George Washington and the Magic Hat, John Adams and the Magic Bobblehead, and Thomas Jefferson and the Return of the Magic Hat.

They’re a series of middle grade novels focusing on a group of fifth graders in Bethesda, Maryland, who go on time travel adventures and meet the early presidents. I’ve also edited/written some reference books about U.S. history and government.

Which genres do you write?

It’s eclectic nonfiction for adults and fiction for kids. Plus, I have some other manuscripts I’m working on that are fiction for adults.

What do you find most challenging writing for these genres?

In terms of the children’s books, probably getting the right balance between the historical time travel events and the everyday 21st century events happening in the kids’ lives.

What are you working on now?

I’ve handed in book four in the series, James Madison and the Magic Book, to my publisher and am working on book five, about James Monroe.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

It’s all a matter of combining bits and pieces of things I see, hear, and experience. Somehow the characters emerge. And for the historical characters, I do a lot of research to make sure the details are right.

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

Talking to kids in school groups or elsewhere about the books and answering their questions, which often make me look at things in a completely new way!

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

Don’t give up! Keep trying. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you run into writer’s block.

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

I live in the Washington, D.C. area and I have a blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, where I interview a wide range of authors about their books.

What message are you sharing in your books?

The importance of understanding history.

What are your favorite books?

Some of my favorite kids’ books are the Half Magic Series by Edward Eager. I loved them as a kid. There are so many others. For adults, again, there are so many it’s hard to say. Some authors whose work I admire include Elinor Lipman, Nick Hornby, Stephen McCauley, and Tracy Chevalier.

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

I’d invite Jane Austen, definitely. Maybe Louisa May Alcott and E.L. Konigsburg.

Who has influenced your writing the most?

My family. My parents are both authors, and so are my uncle and aunt and sister and cousins.

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

Reading, taking walks, and—pre-pandemic—sometimes traveling.

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?

I would probably play a 18th/19th century journalist covering the events I’m writing about in my children’s book series.

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?

Get six feet away from him and ask him why he’s not wearing his face mask.

What are your most effective marketing strategies?

Social media, word of mouth through friends, and family.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

Yes! I have several websites, but the one that links to my other pages is www.deborahkalb.com.

You can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deborahkalbauthor/

Twitter at https://twitter.com/deborahkalb,

Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/deborahskalb/?hl=en.

Where can we find your books?

Amazon, Indiebound, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, and (I hope) some local bookstores and libraries.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Jefferson-Return-Magic-President/dp/0764360191/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=deborah+kalb&qid=1597764263&sr=8-1

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780764360190

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thomas-jefferson-and-the-return-of-the-magic-hat-deborah-kalb/1136295992?ean=9780764360190

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/thomas-jefferson-and-the-return-of-the-magic-hat/9780764360190

Schiffer Books: https://www.schifferbooks.com/thomas-jefferson-and-the-return-of-the-magic-hat-6908.html

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

Deborah Kalb’s Featured Book: Available September 28, 202o

For ages 8-12

After almost six months in Maryland, fifth-grader Oliver still misses his friends back in New Jersey. But things start to change one day, when his neighbor—and possible new friend—Sam lends Oliver a magic hat that takes him back to the 18th- and 19th-century world of Thomas Jefferson.

Oliver and his sisters—Cassie, the nice one, and Ruby, the annoying one—end up learning more about Jefferson than they’d expected. And Oliver finds that his new neighborhood might not be so terrible after all. 

Thomas Jefferson and the Return of the Magic Hat is the third in The President and Me series that began with George Washington and the Magic Hat and John Adams and the Magic Bobblehead.

This new adventure brings back previous characters Sam, Ava, J.P. (blink and you might miss them, though!), and of course the cantankerous talking hat itself.

R. Janet Walraven’s Rainbow of Promise


https://www.amazon.com/Rainbow-Promise-World-War-Romance-ebook/dp/B08BRBZMKY


Rainbow of Promise: A World War II Romance by R. Janet Walraven

My newly published book is NOW available.

True romance—the historical fiction version of my parents’ love story during World War II—how they met, their romance, surprises, obstacles, sorrows, and triumphs. Writing it has been pure JOY!

Synopsis:

It’s 1942, a time when soldiers, despite wartime fears, hold onto their dreams of love everlasting. W.E. finds his world turned upside down when he meets beautiful and vivacious Sadina―a woman determined to live every day with joy. Will secrecy sever the trust in their romance? This poignant World War II romance is based on the love story of the author’s parents. Includes historical photos.

Bonus: historical photos included in all versions.  I am thrilled to share it with you.

Here’s how to get it on Amazon or from me:

1. Print version: $12.95 plus tax (shipping is free if you have Amazon Premium).  I’d love a 5-star review after you’ve finished this delightful read.

2. If you don’t want to order from Amazon, send me $15 (includes my cost for shipping and tax), and I’ll gift you the book through Amazon. That way you are able to post a 5-star review 😊—Yay!

3. Kindle Regular — $3.99 and please post a review.

4. Kindle Unlimited free if you have an account. Some don’t realize that they can only have 10 books at a time in their Kindle Library. It’s not a book that you “own” on Kindle Unlimited.  Need I mention…please post a review?!

Please keep in mind that reviews do not have to be lengthy or complicated. You can post a review on Amazon and copy the same review to Goodreads and/or Facebook or any other social media.

Reviews are the bread-and-butter for authors. A special thanks to those of you who purchased my last book, CONNECT FOR CLASSROOM SUCCESS and posted reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads. I am very grateful!  If you haven’t yet, it’s never too late.

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R. Janet Walraven is an award-winning writer of short stories, creative non-fiction, poetry, and novels. Her Masters in Education and her passion for excellence in education prompted her to write Connect for Classroom Success: A Mentoring Guide for Teachers K-12.

Now retired after 35 years of teaching, she enjoys gardening, traveling in Europe, visiting the beaches of Cabo and the Caribbean, and writing. She has lived all over the United States and chose New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment with its eternal sunshine, as her place to call home.

Her latest book, Rainbow of Promise: A World War II Romance, is based on the true story of her parents during the war years. 

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!