“My Name is Kayla” – Interview with Alison Woods


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Hello. Today is a very, very special interview for me. Alison has been a friend of mine since college…and that was quite a while ago! She has published her first children’s book, “My Name is Kayla” and it is absolutely delightful. Even more so for me, because I know the Kayla in question. So let’s get started with the interview.

TN: Alison, thank you for agreeing to the interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your career.

AW:  I was born and raised in Chicago.  I attended Chicago Public Schools – graduating from Harlan High School. BA from Carleton College. I was in the Information Technology field my entire career. First at IBM (17 years) and I retired from PepsiCo in 2017.

TN:  Why do you write, and what subjects or genre inspire you?

AW:  I write children’s picture books. That makes me really dependent on finding an illustrator that sees my vision. I write so that African American children can see themselves in the stories. My voice for the books is always from the child’s perspective.

TN:  You’ve started your own publishing company called Mirror Image Books.  What was your inspiration to start Mirror Image and to concentrate on children’s books for African American children?

AW:  My inspiration was my oldest granddaughter – Kayla. She has come to visit me every summer since she was 1 year old. When she was about 3 years old I went to my local bookstore looking for a series with an African American little girl as the lead character. Although I could find individual books with African American little girls as the lead – I didn’t find a series. I thought that I could do that and so I wrote several books. But work kept me from doing anything.

I decided to create Mirror Image Books for several reasons:

  1. I wanted to publish multiple books with different characters and I wanted other authors that share my passion to get their books in print.
  2. I wasn’t having any luck finding an agent.
  3. I wanted to select the illustrator myself and traditional publishers pick the illustrator. It was important to me that the illustrator be a person of color.

TN:  What challenges did you overcome in setting up Mirror Image Books and how long did it take?

AW: Well, I didn’t really have any challenges setting up. I had to come up with the name – but I thought of Mirror Image almost immediately.  Then it was just the paperwork to file with state and federal government to get going.

TN:  Did you consider self-publishing rather than starting your own publishing company?

AW:  I did. But I started with the vision of bringing other authors on board so I wanted to be set up for that.

TN:  Describe your writing style, (e.g. narrative, lots of dialog, first-person, lots of illustrations etc.)

AW:  Well – children’s picture books is my focus – so lots of illustrations! Usually first person as the lead character tells the stories.

TN:  What was your biggest challenge when writing your first book?  

AW:  Kayla has provided me with so many stories. My biggest challenge was deciding on which one to write first! I have several written and plan to release one every 15-18 months. It takes the illustrator a lot longer to create the artwork!

TN:  What inspired you to write your first book, “My Name is Kayla?”

AW:  Kayla 🙂

TN: The bane of writers: Did you use a copy editor, beta reader and/or proofreader for “My Name is Kayla” and did you find his/her comments useful?

AW: Yes. I used an editor for the book, for the jacket, for the website. Same editor for all. She made the copy for the website and the book jacket so much better with minor tweaks she suggested. The book’s language was so simple that she felt it was fine.

TN:  Marketing is the hardest part of a writer’s life. I think other authors would be interested in knowing your marketing strategy for “My Name is Kayla?”

AW:  I’m still working on my strategy. I spent so much time getting the physical book designed that I am just now pulling that together. I’ll come back with a follow-up on what I do. What I have done is scheduled several book signings hosted by me or my friends:

    • Irving, Texas (Book Release) at my home on December 7, 2019
    • Los Angeles, California (Book Signing) – friend’s home, January 18, 2020
    • Dallas, Texas, AKA Sorority, Inc Founder’s Day (Vendor Booth), Sheraton Dallas, January 25, 2020
    • Chicago, Illinois (Book Signing) – friend’s home, March 7, 2020
    • Detroit, Michigan (author and illustrator signing) – TBD
    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (author and illustrator signing) – May, 2020

Working on stepping up my Instagram game.

TN: How did you come up with the cover design and the illustrations?

AW:  I asked three illustrators to do a cover for me. I paid each of them and then selected the one that I like the best. She did all of the illustrations.

TN:  Have you written any other books?  If so, which one is your favorite?

AW:  Yes – but they haven’t been published yet!

TN:   Do you plan on writing another Kayla book?

AW:  Yes! The next one that will come out in the spring of 2021 is “On Sundays We Go to Church.” The third one will be out in the fall of 2022 – “What Do You Want for Christmas?”

TN: Do you have any other authors in mind for future books to be published by Mirror Image Books?

AW: Not yet – but I’m looking!

TN:  I notice your book is not in Amazon. Do you plan to eventually use other selling channels?

AW:  Definitely. Working on Amazon now.

Thank you again Alison. I’m so glad you could share with us, and so glad that your writing skills are being used to promote self-awareness among African American children.

To my readers, you can purchase the book here: mirrorimagebooks.com/shop

Mirror Image Books Website, where you can find more information about the author, the book, future books, and you can see the real Kayla: mirrorimagebooks.com

“The Bridge Between” – Interview with Dr. Nicholas De Bonis



Today is a special interview for me. I met the author through Facebook and then participated in his writing project, The Bridge Between, which we talk about in the interview. Also we are both from the town featured in his book. I didn’t know him at the time we went to high school as we were in different schools. I have only skimmed parts of the book and look forward to reading it.

TN: Nick, why do you write and what subjects or genre inspire you?

NDB: Writing is the most personal form of communication with me. It allows a range of expression through word pictures, can communicate emotion and is also cathartic. It represents a commitment to ideas and to sharing those ideas. People are their stories are my passion. I also enjoy taking complex subjects and converting them into understandable, logical form that can be assimilated, understand and provide functionality for the user. I’ve tried my hand at writing mysteries, which is my favorite reading genre. But there are so many plots and distractions that I haven’t been successful.

TN: When did you know you were a writer?

NDB: There was a student publication in junior high school (7th-9th grade, in the day) called the Wooden Pony. I wrote a short story and a poem that was selected. Being published was a “heady” experience, I’m naturally curious about people and their stories a la Studs Terkel, so I joined the student newspaper in high school as a writer, then editor. It was the same paper for which my maternal uncle had been editor 30 years before. Interesting, the advisor was the same one he’d had. I founded my college’s student newspaper, worked my way through college at the local newspaper as a reporter and sports editor, was an effective academic writer and then started writing a few magazine articles. Some book chapters and paper presentations at baseball conferences in Cooperstown with friends continued to stoke the fire. But I think I really knew I was a writer when a friend invited me to co-author a book with him. It was a business book that was well received and published in five international editions and paperback. That was the experience that confirmed in my mind that I am a writer.

TN: Describe your writing style.

NDB: My writing style is storytelling. I create a stream-of-consciousness story about an idea or a topic and commit it to a file without editing, essentially brainstorming.

I taught media, broadcast and business writing for 25 years at colleges and universities. One of my most important rules was that there are no good writers, “good” meaning effective. The best writers are better editors than they are writers. Once the first draft is done, I do the editing. Does the story flow logically from one sentence, paragraph, section, chapter to the next? Is the story effective? Interesting or entertaining? Can the reader relate to the story and would they be able to tell it to someone else?

TN: You’ve just released a new book, “The Bridge Between – Race, rage & Reconciliation in 1960s Iowa” which is of special interest to me. Through the eyes of high school students, the book covers the racial situation in our home town, Waterloo, Iowa, during the 1960’s. What was the impetus for writing the book?

NDB: Subjective experiences as a student in Waterloo during the 1960s and subsequent life experiences living throughout the country. I lived on the “black” East Side of town and went to the “black” East High. In reality, only 15%-18% of the students were black. All blacks lived on the East Side, so the schools were racially mixed. No blacks lived on the West Side, so the schools were “white-bread.” I didn’t realize until I was older how much that affected my high school and adult life perceptions and experiences. It was noticeable that few black friends from our class attended reunions, despite having assured others they would be there. And I found that my race relations with people from other ethnic and racial groups were different than those who had been in an all-white educational environment. There was a story there, a personal one, about a segregated Midwestern town that was a microcosm of the civil rights movements being played out in communities throughout America.

TN: What was your biggest challenge in writing “The Bridge Between,” and did you ever get writer’s block?

NDB: No. I don’t believe there is such a thing. A “block” means you absolutely can’t write anything, which is impossible. I asked students who were “blocked” if they could write anything about the topic. They could. Then you’re not “blocked.” You’re only “blocked” from writing a perfect first draft which — as stated earlier — no one can do. My first paid newspaper job when I was a junior in high school was taking dictation from “stringers” — part-time reporters in other cities — calling in sports stories. On a typewriter with a roll of teletype paper. With a landline cradled in my neck. No headsets then. Many times it was just a collection of phrases. My job was to cadge together a story under deadline. I learned with some coaching to write the back “5 Ws & the “H” lede (sic) — first paragraph — then build down from there. The final step was to edit the story with a red pencil on the paper, hand it to the deskman and move on to the next one. There were sections in The Bridge Between that were complex and complicated. I was only “blocked” as long as it took to start doing a “core dump” — typing out everything I knew about that part of the story. Then went back and edited it a couple of times for a final draft,

TN: You interviewed a lot of people for your book. How did you go about this? Was there any hostility to the questions you posed?

NDB: I’ve always been a huge fan of Studs Terkel and his writing style, which was to interview people and use their words to tell a story. The “interviews” were described and conducted as “conversations” rather than an interview. The process was conducted in three phases. After talking about this idea with classmates over the years, I’d developed an agenda of roughly 10 discussion points relevant to being able to tell the story. I tested these with about two dozen volunteers using a SurveyMonkey questionnaire. This pre-testing helped me refine, eliminate and add to the list. And neutralize the hostility before the fact. The second phase was to go to Waterloo for a week and sit down with people with whom I’d been able to schedule time. I also saw others in other cities on the routes to and from Waterloo. The final phase had two parts. One was to contact the original participants with discussion points which needed clarification or expansion. The second was to spend about two months having phone conversations with people who weren’t able to meet with me when I was in Waterloo or lived somewhere else literally around the world.

TN: Why did you decide to self-publish instead of going through an agent or publisher?

NDB: My first three co-authored books were with publishers. Not an easy avenue. And self-publishing has become so sophisticated and provides so much control it was a no-brainer.

TN: How did you come up with your cover design for “The Bridge Between?”

NDB: Believe it or not, it literally designed itself in my mind as soon as I’d finished the three-world title, three words being a power mnemonic device. It was a combination of a functional representation of a bridge over the Cedar River in Waterloo, the schism between the East and West Sides, with two people on the left East Side representing a black and a white, and one person on the right West Side of the Bridge representing the white population on that side of the river.

TN: What software do you use for your print version and/or for eBook?

NDB: Microsoft Word, especially the Word template for CreateSpace. Easy Peasy.

TN: What tips would you give to someone who is considering self-publishing the work?

NDB: In order of importance, first decide whether it’s a commercial project to create revenue or one from the soul. The Bridge Between was the latter for me. The next one will be a combination. That will affect these others tips. If it’s the former, be prepared to invest to buy the additional support from the publishing site and then use it to hone the book into marketable shape. Hire an editor who’s used the publishing site before and can edit effectively. Let him/her do their job. Be prepared to invest money for shotgun marketing to broader markets, and bow & scrape to the requirements of the major book distributors and retailers. Be prepared for a short shelf-life. Self-published books are like May flies. If it’s a project which is under your skin, be prepared to sacrifice time, and physical and psychological energy. That requires belief in your topic. Look for funding from Kickstarter or other sources. Better yet, find a mentor who’s used the publishing site before and can guide you around the rocks. Let someone else edit. I used four different people. When we edit our own materials, we proofread what we know SHOULD BE THERE rather what the text ACTUALLY SAYS. Target narrow markets where your selling has to be minimal. Use the feedback on the book’s site to generate buzz. Know when the book’s cycle has ended and move on. It’s like kicking the kids out of the nest.

TN: Do you have any future projects/novel ideas in mind?

NDB: Yes. A book, video series, lectures, assessment tools and a five-symbol mnemonic wristband for the working title Mate Selection Guide to the Universe or How I Learned to be a Realist and Manage the Heart-Head Conflict When it Comes to Relationships.  

TN: Thank you Nick for the great interview. To my readers, here are some links for purchasing his books and finding out more about Nick. 


“Imperfect…” – Interview with Elizabeth Noyes

TN: This week’s interview is with Elizabeth Noyes, author of the “Imperfect Series.” Her fifth and final book of the series will launch on August 21st. Take advantage of the one-day introductory sale price of 99¢.

TN: Welcome ElizabethWhy do you write, and what subjects or genre inspire you?

EN: I’ve always been a writer. In high school I wrote skits for the cheerleaders, a play for our acting club, and even won a local short story contest. Every job I’ve ever held always ended up with a writing requirement, likely because it’s my strength. Even in conversation it becomes apparent that writing is my passion.

I’ve also always been an avid reader, though it’s less about the genre than the quality of the writing. Give me a good plot, characters that come to life and I’m hooked. 

TN: What genre do you normally write in?

EN: My natural inclination leans toward action/adventure/suspense with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure. I like excitement and emotional upheaval, but I also like when the good guys win. 

TN: Describe your writing style. (e.g. narrative, lots of dialogue, first-person, etc.) 

EN: I prefer third-person point of view and try to mix up the various styles. Too much of any one loses the rhythm. 

TN: What is your biggest challenge when novel writing? And do you ever get writer’s block? 

EN: Distractions are my biggest challenge. I tend to immerse myself deep into the story and when the inevitable distraction occurs, I find it difficult to re-establish the connection. That’s why I’m prone to early morning writing—while the world is still sleeps! 

TN: How many books have you written, and what inspired you to write your first book? 

EN: I have written five books, four published and one due to release August 21, 2018, and co-authored two others.

I started writing after one of my favorite authors let me down. He did a really poor job of finishing up a novel that had a marvelous buildup. I couldn’t help but think he was up against a deadline and took the easy way out. I’ve never bought another of his books. Disgusted, I thought to myself, “I can do better than that.” And so it began. 

TN: Why did you decide to self-publish instead of going through an agent or publisher? 

EN: I published through a small press, which is not quite indie, but not quite a traditional method either. 

TN: How did you come up with your cover design? 

EN: I stumbled across a picture, one of an eagle with a damaged wing still flying high. My editor and I collaborated on the design with me insisting on using the eagle. 

TN: What software do you use for your print version and/or for eBook? 

EN: I use Microsoft Word and Excel for writing. My small press publisher formats for both print and eBook versions. 

TN: What tips would you give to someone who is considering self-publishing the work? 

EN: There are lots of indie collaboration groups out there. Join them. Follow the threads. Identify those most knowledgeable and ask for advice. Pose questions to the group. In other words, educate yourself on all aspects of the process. There is a learning curve and you will make mistakes. Forgive yourself, learn from your errors, and move on. 

TN: Describe the plot of one of your books.

EN: The five books I’ve published under my name alone is actually a series. The story revolves around a ranching family in Idaho—the mother, father, and their five grown children. In the first book, a young woman stumbles onto a drug operation and murder in Honduras, and in so doing bungles a special ops mission underway. The leader of the special ops team has a decision to make: continue the mission or rescue the woman. Of course, he rescues her … and falls for her in the process. The ensuing story is series of adventures that take them on wild chase across the states with him protecting her until she can testify. It’s one of those edge-of-your-seat types of stories. As I like to say, not your ordinary romantic suspense!

TN: If you’ve written more than one book, which one is your favorite?

EN: The subsequent books in this series revolve around each of the siblings. The underlying threat is that same characters continue throughout so they become like family to the reader. More of their personalities are revealed as you progress. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be the first one I described above, Imperfect Wings, because 1) it was my first published book, 2) it took me longer to write/edit/polish and then release, and 3) it has garnered the most reviews simply by being the first.

TN: Do you have any future projects/novel ideas in mind?

EN: I have my first ever manuscript waiting in the wings. I call it my ‘practice’ manuscript because in it I did everything a new author could possibly do wrong! I still love the plot idea, so the outline is pretty much there. It will require a complete rewrite though.

TN: Thank you Elizabeth for sharing with my readers. Here are the links to her books, available on Amazon:

And you can learn more about Elizabeth on … 

Self-Interview – Theresa Nash

This week I’m featuring my own interview. Hope you enjoy it.

Q:  Why do you write, and what subjects or genre inspire you?

A: I’ve always loved to read, but I never thought of becoming a writer. I remember starting a James Bond type novel when I was in high school but I after I wrote about 20 pages I stopped. I’ve written many essays and short stories as homework, and proposals during my professional life, but if someone had told me I’d ever write a book and publish it I would have told them they were crazy.

My reading taste leans toward thrillers and crime, although I will read almost all genres as long as the book is well written. So I would say that crime and thrillers are  the genre that inspire me.

Q: What genre do you normally write in?

A: I haven’t written enough to establish a norm. My two books are in the crime and thriller genre, but there’s no blood, nor extreme violence.

Q:  Describe your writing style.

A: I like to include a lot of dialogue. I feel it is an effective way to move the story along, describe the characters to the readers and show interaction between the characters. I try to avoid verbose, long prose, although sometimes the description of a place is necessary for the development of the story.

Q:  What is your biggest challenge when novel writing? And do you ever get writer’s block?

A: My biggest challenge is to convey clearly my story to the reader. I know what I want to say and I know where the story’s going, but I have to make sure my reader discovers it too. Yes, I get writer’s block. I’ve started writing a third book but somehow haven’t found the courage and or inspiration to continue.

Q:  How many books have you written, and what inspired you to write your first book?

A: I’ve written two books. The impetus for the first book, Il Molo, came from a dare. The story is set in Varigotti Italy on the Liguria seacoast (Mediterranean) where we go every summer on vacation. During these vacations I read a lot, mostly thrillers and crime novels, on the beach. One of our local friends dared me to write a crime novel and I said why not. Almost right away I had an idea for a crime/thriller. By the way, Il Molo is also available in French. The translation was done by a very close friend in Geneva.

Q:  Why did you decide to self-publish instead of going through an agent or publisher?

A: I had never even heard of self-publishing until my aunt and cousin, who are also indie authors, clued me in to the possibility. I was not looking forward to doing all the work to find an agent and publisher. So I chose the self-publishing route.

Q:  How did you come up with your cover design?

A: I designed the cover of the first book, using the functionality in CreateSpace. For the cover of the second book, The Cruelty of Love, I used the services of a professional designer. Of course I gave my cover ideas to the designer. I think she did an excellent job.

Q:  What software do you use for your print version and/or for eBook?

For the print version I used Word and uploaded the manuscript to CreateSpace. The eBook was also created through CreateSpace.

Q:  What tips would you give to someone who is considering self-publishing the work?

A: Writing the book is the easy part, relatively. Of course there’s a lot of re-reading and re-editing before you are happy with the final manuscript. The hardest part is promotion and selling – they take a lot of time…and money. So if you go down the road be prepared to use promotion services (free and paying), participate in Facebook groups, and actively use Twitter and other social media. Don’t be hesitant in organizing book signings and asking your local bookstores to purchase copies of your books.

Q:  Describe the plot for one of your books.

A: In The Cruelty of Love, Kate has made it to mid-level management in the IT group of a pharmaceutical company. When she watches a television interview of one of her ex-boyfriends, her demons of over 30 years ago are awakened. Over the coming weeks she cannot shake the resurrected feelings of betrayal and injustice, and vows to confront the two men she once loved. She methodically conceives and carries out her ingenious, and illegal, plan. As the two men, her family and friends seek to understand her actions, Kate accepts her punishment.

Q:  Which one of your books is your favorite?

A: Both of them. Each book draws on my experiences and people and places I know.

Q:  Do you have any future projects/novel ideas in mind?

A: Yes, but for the moment I must admit I have writer’s block.

Read more about Il Molo and The Cruelty of Love on my blog and take a look at some of the reviews. And if you search for the titles in the Search box on the left you can scroll through earlier posts about these books. Thank you for visiting my blog.

Fantasy Writer – Interview with S.T. Sanchez

TN: My featured writer this week is S.T. Sanchez. Welcome Sarah. Why do you write, and what subjects or genre inspire you?

 SS: I love to write fantasy. There is no limit to fantasy other than my imagination. I do have a couple of ideas for new books that don’t fall into the fantasy realm, but I’m not ready to divulge any details. I’ll have to see how those go. I have found writing in a different genre to be challenging. 

TN: Describe your writing style.

SS: The Sunwalker Trilogy Books and The Portal Keeper are both written in third person. I have a couple of stories that I am working on that are in first person. I couldn’t tell you why some are in first person and some are in third, they just come out that way.

TN: What is your biggest challenge when novel writing? And do you ever get writer’s block?

SS: One of my biggest challenges when writing is simply making the time. I have a day job, a husband and three kids that demand attention. I also serve actively in my church and I am a wolf den leader for the Boy Scouts of America.

TN: How many books have you written, and what inspired you to write your first book?

SS: I currently have three books that are published. The first two in the Sunwalker Trilogy, Sunwalker, and Nightwalker. I also have a Middle Grade Fantasy book called The Portal Keeper, it is the first book in The Keeper Chronicles. The Sunwalker Trilogy is a YA vampire series. I wanted to know where vampires came from. Nothing I had read or watched seemed to really answer that question. In Sunwalker, I answer that question.

TN: Why did you decide to self-publish instead of going through an agent or publisher?

SS: The main draw to self-publishing for me was control. Writing a novel takes hundreds of hours. The idea of handing that over to someone else and letting them make all the calls seemed appalling. I have a phenomenal editor. She keeps me on track, and polishes up all the flaws in my book. Other than that I do it all on my own – from cover designing, to formatting, to marketing. Doing everything on my own makes it so much more rewarding. I have learned so much more that I would have if I had just found an agent. I enjoy doing it on my own.

Since I embarked on this journey I have met many authors who started out traditional and then switched to indie publishing because they felt they lost too much of their choices. I have also met authors who started out self-publishing and went traditional. All are happy with their decisions. So I think that’s the ultimate goal, no matter what you choose, just find what makes you content.

TN: How did you come up with your cover design?

SS: My editor designed the cover to Sunwalker. I fell in love with it, and it gave me the inspiration to create the cover for Nightwalker. I also designed the cover for The Portal Keeper. My first cover wasn’t great. But another benefit of self-publishing is that if you aren’t satisfied you can change it. I really like my new cover. I hope that with each cover I am getting better.

TN: What software do you use for your print version and/or for eBook?

SS: Microsoft Word. It’s widely used so if I can’t figure out how to do something, chances are someone on YouTube has.

TN: What tips would you give to someone who is considering self-publishing the work?

SS: If you aren’t one for hard work, don’t go down this road. But chances are if you have written a book, than that is not the case. Don’t skimp on the editing. When someone publishes a book and doesn’t get it professionally edited, it makes the rest of us look bad. Get beta readers. If everyone is telling you your book is amazing, keep looking for people to read it. I can’t imagine a first draft that doesn’t have a flaw.

TN: Describe the plot for one of your books.

SS: Sunwalker is a vampire dystopian series. Vampires in this series are born through a rare genetic trait making them Sunwalkers – vampires that can move in the daylight and are stronger than vampires that they create. The series follows a Sunwalker named Lilly. She is a vampire living a secret life, pretending to be human in a world that hates her kind. Her one wish is to meet another of her kind. When she finally does it turns her world upside down. There are lots of twists and turns. I hate predictability and try not do the expected.

TN: If you’ve written more than one book, which one is your favorite?

SS: I LOVE all my books. It is hard to choose a favorite. But The Portal Keeper was the most fun to write because I wrote it for my kids. They are a little young for the vampire series, and so my son asked me to write a book with dragons. Seeing their enthusiasm as I finished a chapter was great. It was the best motivation you could ask for. That’s probably why I finished writing the first draft in under a month. The fastest I have finished a book.

TN: Do you have any future projects/novel ideas in mind?

SS: I have an idea about a plague and another about immortals. Presently I just want to focus on finishing the final book in the Sunwalker Trilogy, and finish The Keeper Chronicles. I do have an early children’s chapter book that is ready to go, I just need to find the right illustrator. I am also in the progress of getting Sunwalker translated into Spanish. So I am trying not to add too much onto my plate until some of those projects are finished.

TN: Thank you Sarah for sharing with us and I wish lots of success for your future projects. For more information on Sarah and her books go to:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorstsanchez (Twitter handle @authorstsanchez), and her blog https://authorstsanchez.blogspot.com/.

Writing “…is part of who I am.” – Interview with Tasche Laine

TN: Welcome to Tasche Laine, my featured author this week. Why do you write, and what subjects or genre inspire you? 

TL: I write because I’ve always written. It’s a part of who I am. Before blogs existed I wrote letters—that I actually mailed to people. I’ve always kept journals and diaries, and have written for a few jobs (news reporter, technical writer, education).

A genre that inspires me is realistic fiction, memoir, or biography. I like stories with truth in them, stories I can glean something from and perhaps apply to my own life.

TN: What genre do you normally write in?

TL: CLOSURE is my first book and it is a hybrid of women’s fiction and memoir. It is based on a true story about my life, but aspects have been fictionalized for literary effect, and to protect the privacy of those involved.

TN: Describe your writing style.

TL: The writing style I used for CLOSURE was past-tense, first-person. It is mostly narrative with dialogue interspersed, and has an epistolary element as well, as there are quite a few letters and emails from the characters in it

TN: What is your biggest challenge when novel writing? And do you ever get writer’s block?

TL: My biggest challenge is making time for writing. Going forward, I plan to be more structured and block out chunks of time for writing and nothing else. I don’t really get writer’s block, but when I’m having trouble with a certain scene, I get up and walk away. I come back to it after it’s rolled around in my mind for a bit. So far, this has worked well for me.

TN: How many books have you written, and what inspired you to write your first book?

TL: So far, I have written one book. I was inspired to write it because this story would not let me rest until I told it. It is deeply personal and the emotions expressed are real. I feel an obligation to tell it, to be a voice for those who feel silenced. Part of my story deals with adversity and heavy issues, such as rape and depression. I hope that readers will see this book as more than just a story about two kids who fell in love. Because life is so much more complicated than that. Yes, there is a love story here, but it is also a life story. I was inspired to see it through to publication because I feel I have been given a second chance—I almost lost my voice to a thyroid tumor, and my life to kidney cancer—I survived both, and now I’m making a difference.

I started writing my story at age 19 because of the book, A Bridge Across Forever, by Richard Bach. I became obsessed with the idea of having a soulmate—thus the seed of when my story began.

TN: Why did you decide to self-publish instead of going through an agent or publisher?

TL: I queried 28 agents. Not one of them asked to read the manuscript, and most sent back form letter rejections saying it wasn’t for their list. I never thought I’d self-publish, yet here I am.

TN: How did you come up with your cover design?

TL: The story begins with two kids, best friends, who fall in love. I wanted to capture that childlike innocence of young love without assigning identities; I didn’t want to see their faces. I searched for silhouettes of a boy and girl together and found the shot of their backs. I thought it was perfect.

TN: What software do you use for your print version and/or for eBook?

TL: I typed and formatted my manuscript in MS Word, then converted the print version to a pdf, and the eBook to ePub and mobi through Calibre. I also reformatted it especially for kindle using their software.

TN:  What tips would you give to someone who is considering self-publishing their work?

TL: It’s a steep learning curve, but it can definitely be done, and there are lots of great sites and community forums with indie authors offering valuable help and insights. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions!

TN: Describe the plot for one of your books.

TL: In Closure, best friends and childhood sweethearts Trey and Tara fall in love through writing letters. Each other’s first love, they pledge to spend their lives together. But unforeseen events tear them apart, putting them on different paths. Yet, they weave in and out of each other’s lives through the years, even though they are not together. Haunted by memories and feeling incomplete—that fate isn’t finished with them yet—they see each other after twenty years. Could this be their second chance?

TN:  Do you have any future projects/novel ideas in mind?

TL: Yes. I’m currently writing the sequel to CLOSURE.

TN: Thank you Tasche for sharing with my readers. Learn more about Tasche on her website: http://taschelaine.com


Thrillers and the Supernatural – Interview with Kenneth Passan

TN:  Today our interview is with Kenneth Passan. Why do you write, and what subjects or genre inspires you?

KP:  I enjoy writing because it is one way I can express myself or my interests. When I first started, it was two nonfiction books I had published, related to criminology, true crime and forensics. Those were my specialties in interest, life and experiences. Then I turned to novels, because I’ve always been a storyteller ever since I was a little kid.

The genres of my thriller novels include horror and the supernatural, a wildlife thriller, a marine thriller, and one crime thriller so far. Although I’m not limiting myself to these, these are my main interests in storytelling. I’m usually open to anything else, as long as it’s a thriller. It’s my interest in these subjects that inspire me to write those genres.

TN: What genre do you normally write in?

As mentioned in my previous answer – thrillers of horror, supernatural crime, and anything else that sounds exciting and reads the same way.

TN: Describe your writing style.

KP:  I use a combination of narrative and a goodly amount of dialogue. I try to keep it balanced enough to maintain the reader’s interest and a smooth following of the story and plot. I never use the first person. Sometimes I will jump scenes and characters among different chapters, but I make sure I continue a smooth continuous follow-up on later chapters with the same scenes or characters. I avoid as much as possible trying to confuse the reader by ambiguous storytelling. In other words, I want the chapter to chapter flow as smooth as possible.

TN: What is your biggest challenge in novel writing and do you ever get writer’s block?

KP: My biggest challenge is starting the story. Although I think about and plan ahead what I’m going to write about, it’s how I begin that I consider one of the most important things about the story. A lousy beginning can cause the reader to put it down and not return to it, so I have to make it as a kind of hook to keep the reader reading for more.

Occasionally I do get writer’s block but my persistence, no matter how long this block lasts, always overcomes that. That’s one of the main reasons I can continue writing. My ability to do that.

TN: How many books have you written and what inspired you to write your first book?

KP:  I’ve written a total of seven books so far. Two nonfictions and five novels.

Inspiration to write my first book, Forensics and the Violent Criminal Mind, came from my experience, education, and complete interest in criminology and forensic science. Watching TV documentaries on true crime and man’s violence against man inspired me to write about it. Since I could not qualify to do police work, writing about it or its related sciences was the next best thing for me to express myself.

TN: Why did you decide to self-publish instead of going through an agent or publisher?

KP: Well first of all, I did have three publishers. Two different ones for my nonfiction books. The second one had dropped me because the book didn’t sell and they then refused to publish my first novel just because of that.

Getting an agent was impossible. All 300 that I queried, for most of my books, rejected me for totally subjective reasons. I gave up on agent queries forever. To me, the only vocabulary word they know is “no”. So, for my first novel I did get a traditional publisher that accepted it because of the correct genre. They also accepted my second novel for the same reason. The third they rejected. Not the right genre for them. That’s when I turned to self-publishing. Mainly for the genres they couldn’t accept. One of my future books I plan to write I expect they will take. Bottom line: practical reasons for self-publishing.

TN: How did you come up with my cover designs?

KP: The traditional companies I had used came up with them by their graphic artists. The self-publishing I am doing I try to relate the cover design to the theme and story in the book. Trying to make it attractive and eye catching to the potential buyer. In other words, try to make it so that the potential buyer will want to pick it up and look through it for possible purchase. So I try to consider all that is involved in book buying, since I’m a former book buyer myself.

TN: What software do you use for my print books and ebooks?

KP: I use Word, first of all in order to make any editing easier. When I’m ready to make it an ebook, I either convert it to pdf myself, if required, or I let the self-publishing company do it. If I do it myself, I use Sada PDF Premium, which does allow editing. For print books, I use Word entirely.

TN: What tips would you give to someone who’s considering self-publishing the work?

KP: Do your homework. If there are publishing costs involved, how reputable is the printing company, if there are free online publishing companies ( which there are), and if you are willing and able to do all the work yourself, which involves editing (often multiple times}.  Know the advantages and disadvantages of traditional vs. self-publishing before you make your decision. Whatever company you choose, whether self or traditional, know as much as you can about the company before you commit yourself. You want to avoid getting burned. It happened to me with my first company and after that it never happened again because I did my homework. Never, ever, use a vanity publishing company. I mean, NEVER. You WILL get burned if you do.

TN: Describe the plot for one of your books.

KP: In Stingers, an invasion of the deadly irikandji jellyfish invades the eastern US coast after having been brought along from the other side of the world by ocean currents. When deaths and serious injuries start occurring to swimmers and anyone else in those waters, it’s up to the marine and other scientists, as well as the US Coast Guard to not only safeguard any more lives, but also to get rid of the things. A unique plan is hatched and adopted to engage such a plan before the deadly swarm sweeps all the way up the coastline.

TN: If you’ve written more than one book, which one is your favorite?

KP: My favorite is The Elevator. It is suspenseful and coincides with my interest that the supernatural does exist and not a figment of anyone’s imagination. It also is a lesson that even the most horrific experiences and occurrences, devilish or not, CAN be overcome. Goodness always prevails despite the odds.

TN: Do you have any future projects/novel ideas in mind?

KP: Of course. I always do. Currently I’m well into my sixth novel, which is another supernatural horror. There’s another one I put on hold until I finish this one. This other one, when completed, will qualify for my publisher of my first two novels so I plan for that to be traditionally published. The current one, when completed, will be self published.

TN: Thank you Kenneth for sharing and I wish you continued success. For my readers you can discover more about Kenneth on his website: www.kensbooks.mozello.com



















Writing is my life, gotta keep on writing…

Over the last few weeks I’ve posted interviews of several self-published authors on my blog. To read them go to the Categories on the left of the blog and choose “Interviews and such.”

Everyone interviewed has a unique story to tell about their writing and their love of writing. The one common element of all the interviews is the authors’ dedication to writing and publishing, and to meeting the daunting marketing challenges of independent publications. Enticing readers to buy the book, and to actually read it and leave a constructive interview is an on-going effort, long after the novel has been published.

Thanks to the authors for their willingness to share their successes as well as their setbacks with my blog followers. I’ve enjoyed reading and editing the interviews, and I’ve discovered new books which are now on my reading list.

There are more interviews on the way, and I hope you will enjoy them.

I’d like to add plug for my books. You can read about them on my blog: https://mytheresanash.com/my-writing/

(Title of this post is paraphrased from a Patty Labelle song – “Music Is My Way of Life”)

“I am a story teller.” – Interview with Kat Michels

TN: Today my interview is with Kat Michels, story teller and award-winning author. When did you know you were a writer?

KM: I started writing stories and poems as soon as I learned how to write. However, oddly enough, I never considered myself a writer. It was just something that I did, and despite the fact that I did it well, it wasn’t one of the things that I considered a passion. It was more of a compulsion, just something I had to do.

In retrospect, I can see the moments where the burgeoning writer in me tried to get out, but got shoved back for one reason or another. The truth of the matter is that for most of my life, if people asked me if I was a writer, my answer was no. It wasn’t until I was in college, for the second time, that a professor asked me to stay after class one day because he needed someone to write the narrative for a documentary, and he had picked me. I told him that I wasn’t a writer, and he matter-of-factly informed me that yes, I was. He had read all of my papers and I was clearly a writer. As he was not the kind of professor that you ever wanted to let down, I gave it a shot and it turned out he was right. I wrote the narrative, the documentary turned out great, and we won a couple of awards. The next year he tapped me again for a similar project with the same result. Not only was I a writer, I was now an award-winning writer. Not even I could ignore that.

TN: What is your writing style?

KM: Like any good writer, I can change my voice to fit the particular piece I’m working on. However, I would say that my most natural voice can best be described with a quote from the movie Dragnet, “Just the facts ma’am.” I tend to be utilitarian with my words and eschew flowery prose that may confuse the intentions of the piece. Which means I generally have to go back through in subsequent drafts to properly flesh it out. But to start with, I put down the bare bones and work from there.

TN: Why did you write your first book?

KM: My first book was a children’s book that I intended to give to my sister at her baby shower for her first child. I had written it and I was going to do some rudimentary illustrations, print a single copy and give it to her. However, every time I asked someone to read it and give me feedback, they asked where they could get a copy. I realized that I needed illustrations that were better than I could provide, so I found an illustrator. In the end, the book wound up as a present for baby’s first Christmas, instead of the baby shower.

TN: Why did you decide to self-publish?

KM: I self-published my first book because I needed a cost-effective print and an easy way for friends and family to grab a copy. When I started work on my second book, I figured I had already started down that road, why not continue?

TN: How did you come up with your cover design?

KM: The covers for my children’s book were done by the illustrator of the book, and my novel’s cover was designed by a graphic designer.

TN: What software did you use? for print? for eBook?

KM: For my children’s books I used Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat for the print version, then used Calibre to convert the PDF into an eBook. For my novel, I used Adobe Photoshop for the graphics, Microsoft Word for the formatting then exported that to a PDF for the print version. Then, like the children’s books, I used Calibre to convert the PDF to an eBook.

TN: Do you have any tips for someone who is considering self-publishing?

KM: Every project is subject to the golden triangle, which is composed of Time, Quality and Cost. You can only have two of the three for any given project. If you want it fast and cheap, your quality won’t be great. If you want it fast with good quality, the cost is going to be really high. If you want cheap, and excellent quality, it’s going to take a long time. If you’re greedy and try to attain all three at once, your work will suffer and your readers will know. Always remember the golden triangle.

TN: What do you do when you are “stuck?”

KM: I’ve discovered that I don’t get writer’s block, I get writer’s fear. I’m afraid that what I put down won’t be good enough, or that I’ll never be able to adequately convey the picture in my head on to the page, and this fear paralyzes me. I become incapable of putting down a single word, because I know that it will be the wrong word. It’s taken me years to overcome this, and the best way I’ve found is to write. Whenever I want to write the least, is the exact time that I need to be writing. So I force myself to sit down and put words on the page. If I’m really dug in, I’ll do a free write with whatever is in my head, even if that means typing, “It’s going to suck,” over and over again. Every time I do this, I eventually get to the point where my brain gets tired of beating itself up, and I start writing something worthwhile.

TN: Describe the plot for one of your books.

KM: My novel, In A Time Never Known, is historical fiction that takes place during the American Civil War. This is the official back cover description – “Wife, mother, spy. Anna is hiding a dangerous secret from her family, especially her Confederate General husband. However, it is not her covert work for the Union that she finds the most daunting, it is dealing with her spoiled Southern belle daughter. When Kady discovers that her mother has been leading a carefully constructed double life, she must choose whether to work by her mother’s side in the shadows or return to the pampered life of a Southern planter’s daughter. Cast into the bloody fray of one of the deadliest wars in our history, In A Time Never Known is the story of women who courageously defy the expectations of the era to do unprecedented things, altering the course of American history and their own lives.”

TN: Which one of your books is your favorite?

KM: While my children’s books are my favorite to work on – they’re just fun – my novel is definitely my favorite overall. I love the opportunity to really flesh out a story and build a world that the long-form provides.

TN: Thank you Kate for sharing this interview with us. My readers can discover more about Kat and her books on her blog: www.katmichels.com


An Accomplished Author – Interview with Diane de Simone

TN: Today my interview is with Diane de Simone, a versatile and accomplished writer who began her writing career penning articles for top national and international magazines. Diane, when did you know you were a writer?

DH: When I was about 11, I fell in love with reading at an early age. Then as a reader I found Nikos Kazantzakis. I read The Last Temptation of Christ, Zorba the Greek, and his letters. I became aware how this man was changing my internal landscape. It was then that I became a writer. But I knew that first I’d need to experience the world a bit. That I needed some age, some texture, some knocks, some deepening engagements. So, I didn’t begin to write “seriously” until my late twenties, after some wide-ranging experiences.

TN: What is your writing style?

DH: It depends on what it is I’m writing. I’ve written non-fiction, memoir, and fiction. The “stories” ask for different voices.

TN: Why did you write your first book?

DH: I was passionate about the subject-matter.

TN: Why did you decide to self-publish?

DH: I had been part of the traditional publishing world for a number of years. But then I left it and New York and London, and went off to walk down some very different roads. When I came back to writing books, the publishing world had radically changed. Walls had been erected. Gates. Statistics. Rules. Writing was no longer solely about the joy and craft of writing. Yet for me it still was. I was not ever going to give that up.

TN: How did you come up with your cover design?

DH: A designer friend said…how about this?!  (I just noticed that someone somewhere recently judged one of my covers as a very “bad” cover design. However, I like it. That’s what counts.)

TN: What software did you use? for print? for eBook?

DH: I’m a very simple lady who lives a very very simple life.  Microsoft word. Hired out for formatting.

TN: Do you have any tips for someone who is considering self-publishing?

DH: Be in the joy and the flow of writing. Learn to listen to the gentle voice inside of you as you write. Learn to trust your rhythm and your intuition. Forget what the world says you should or should not do. As for the afterwards, take some deep breaths. Do your research re: the business of publishing. Again, keep on listening to your inner self. There’s a lot of noise out there about what to do, which ways to go. Slowly sort through the information. Watch out for companies who say you can hire them to publicize your book. Don’t rush into any decision.

TN: What do you do when you are “stuck?”

DH: Take a break. Walk. Breathe. Go into town. Stay with the process. Keep trusting I can become unstuck and that I’ll be led into the how of that. Usually I’m being asked to go deeper.

TN: Describe the plot for one of your books.

DH: Dear Thailand: A Love Story is a memoir. It reflects a transformative journey that happened for me after I found Thailand – after my first visit here. (I’m still here!!) I ended up bringing my father to Thailand to die, and learned so much in the process. I not only explore the joys of Thailand in the book, but also explore who we think we are, what values we think we believe in, our tensions and behavior, how we meet life, and how our culture determines all of that… Unless we … become aware.

TN: Which one of your books is your favorite?

DH: Dear Thailand: A Love Story.

TN: Thank you Diane and I wish you continuing success with your writing. If you would like to read more about Diane’s interesting writing career and discover her other books go to her author description on Amazon.