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: (Twitter handle @authorstsanchez), and her blog

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:


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:



















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:

(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:


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.




Life Experiences – Interview with Author Marianne Sciucco

TN: Today’s interview is with Marianne Sciucco. You’ll see as you read through the interview and her bio notes at the end that Marianne is a very accomplished indie author. Marianne, when did you know you were a writer?

MS: My mother likes to tell a story of when I was in first grade. One day, I came home from school in tears and told her I was going to quit. “I’ve been going to school for three weeks, and I still can’t read! And I still can’t write!” It seems that was all I wanted in my short little life. My mother had to go to the school to speak to the teacher, who assured her I was well on my way to reading and writing. And before long, I had mastered those skills. So, I guess you could say I knew I’d be a big reader and a writer from a very early age.

TN: What is your writing style?

MS: My stories stem from my own life experiences. I try to keep them as real as possible, and infuse them with each of five senses so the reader can feel she’s a part of the story in every way, not just a silent observer. I use a lot of dialogue to drive the story too.

TN: Why did you write your first book?

MS: I had a lifelong dream to write a book, and in 2002 decided to sit down and do it. My first attempt didn’t get too far, but then I met the couple who inspired the characters of Jack and Sara in Blue Hydrangeas, and eighteen months later had a complete manuscript. It’s a story about Alzheimer’s, which is a cause very dear to me as I had three aunts succumb to it, and, as a registered nurse and case manager counseled hundreds of families living with it. Twelve years after I wrote Blue Hydrangeas, I started living my own Alzheimer’s story when my stepfather was diagnosed with three types of dementia. After living through that, I may have another book to write.

TN: Why did you decide to self-publish?

MS: I tried to traditionally publish Blue Hydrangeas but gave up after receiving more than 50 rejection letters from agents and editors who never read my book. It was discouraging and disheartening. At the time, the Kindle was taking off and a friend of mine who had published that way suggested I try it. I had nothing to lose, so uploaded my files. It was easy and I found I loved having complete control over my projects.

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

MS: I designed my first cover, which was simplistic but stunning. But I didn’t feel it told the story well, so after a year or two I decided to hire a cover designer to help me. Perry Elisabeth of Perry Elisabeth Designs and I came up with the cover of the white-haired couple dancing on the beach. It told the story of a loving, elderly couple, living on Cape Cod, and the blue hydrangeas were prominently displayed.

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

MS: I used Power Point and Photo Shop to design my first covers, both print and digital. I now use Canva. I designed the covers for my short stories Ino’s Love, Collection, and Birthday Party. The cover for my young adult sports novel Swim Season was professionally done by Heather McCorkle.

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

MS: It’s not easy. There is a very steep learning curve. You will need to spend lots of hours learning every little aspect. But it’s worth it because you’ll have complete control over your project.

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

MS: I get stuck a lot, mainly because of my repetitive strain injuries, which cause me to limit keyboarding. I need frequent rest periods, sometimes for weeks, which really throw me off. It’s hard to stay focused on a project with so many interruptions. I think about my project every day, usually when I’m trying to fall asleep or as soon as I wake up. I also do research and jot down ideas to help keep me in the flow.

TN: Describe the plot for one of your books.

MS: In Blue Hydrangeas, Jack and Sara are enjoying retirement on Cape Cod in their lovely bed and breakfast (called Blue Hydrangeas). Sara begins showing signs of forgetfulness, and when the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s, Jack makes an impossible promise: he and Sara will remain at home no matter what the disease brings. But after nine years of selfless care giving, Jack can’t go on any longer, and agrees to admit Sara to an assisted living facility. On the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days, and Jack can’t bear to leave her in that place. He wants to take her far away from their troubles, so they take a drive to the outer Cape, where many of their most precious memories were made. The day doesn’t end well, leaving Jack with the realization that what really matters is for him and Sara to stay together no matter what, and he finds a way to make that happen.

TN: Which one of your books is your favorite?

MS: I love Blue Hydrangeas, but I must admit that Swim Season is my favorite. It took me five years to write that almost 600-page novel based on my daughter’s 10-year varsity swimming career. I put everything I had into that story, and wrote it for the thousands of young girls who swim competitively and dream big dreams of the Olympics and college swimming. Feedback from readers has been terrific, but the book doesn’t do as well as Blue Hydrangeas.

TN: Thank you Marianne for the interview. You can read more about Marianne below.

About the Author

Marianne Sciucco writes contemporary and YA fiction. Her stories are considered “clean” fiction, meaning free of graphic violence, gratuitous sex, and four-letter words, so you can feel comfortable sharing her books and newsletters with friends and family.

Marianne says she’s not a nurse who writes, she’s a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues.

Her debut novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story (2013), is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a BookWorks featured book, a Library Journal Self-e Selection, and a 5-star Readers Favorite. Marianne’s work with Alzheimer’s led her to help found the organization AlzAuthors, which vets books and blogs about the dementias for those who need to read them. She is currently working on a novella, Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas, a prequel to her first novel.

Marianne has also published a young adult novel, Swim Season, which was recently chosen as an “Official Selection” in the Young Adult General Fiction category of New Apple’s Annual Book Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing. Swim Season is based on the author’s 11 years’ experience as a Swim Mom, and the longest book she hopes she’ll ever write. She prefers shorter fiction, and has published three short stories: Ino’s Love, the award-winning Collection: Daisy Hunter Story No. 1, and Birthday Party: Daisy Hunter Story No. 2. Dinner at the Tamarack Inn: Daisy Hunter Story No. 3 will release in 2018. The Daisy Hunter stories are loosely based on her childhood experiences.

A native Bostonian, Marianne lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her patient, reliable husband and their beautiful, brainy daughter. They are ruled by Mr. Chance, a cat they rescued who thinks he rescued them (he may be right but please don’t tell him.) When not writing, Marianne works as a campus nurse at a community college, and teaches classes in independent publishing. She enjoys books, the beach, and craft beer, preferably all at the same time.

You may follow Marianne’s Adventures in Publishing on her blog, newsletter, Twitter, and Facebook.



A Swashbuckling Author Interview with Ian Nathanial Cohen

TN: Welcome to Ian, an aficionado of swashbuckling adventuresIan, when did you know you were a writer?

INC: I don’t remember ever not having a knack for writing, and I’ve always had ideas for all kinds of stories in various mediums. However, now that I think about it, I probably latched on to writing a lot more seriously when I was in college. I found myself with time to actually try writing my own stories and parody poems, on which I got positive feedback. I was a Radio/Television Production major in college, and more than one professor mentioned my stronger aptitude for ideas, conceptualizing, and writing than certain technical capabilities. Rather than being resentful, I think it’s what led to me embracing writing as at least one of my particular niches.

I’m always hearing about how important it is to brand yourself professionally, and I’ve made writing a core part of my professional brand, beyond my novels and blogging. I’ve written user guides, process documents, training manuals, and developed an entire online course, and before that, I worked as a writing tutor for college students. In some ways, it’s not all that different from writing a novel – you still have to communicate your ideas in a clear, concise manner that engages the reader.

TN: What is your writing style?

INC: I don’t know if I have a distinctive style. There are certain tropes and character traits I like to use and re-use, if that counts. I don’t like long stretches of the protagonist being on their own with no one to play off of, so I try and avoid those when I can, and I’m not one for overly flowery prose. I’m big on dialogue and banter, and I love any occasion where I get to throw in a sword fight or a card game. I also don’t like writing protagonists who are heroes in name only, who act like monsters and are only the “good guys” because the villains are so much worse. I want my protagonists to be empathetic and likable. As for romance between my main characters, I think it’s important that they enjoy each other’s company beyond just the attraction that draws them together. They have things in common, individual tastes, and they can talk about stuff with each other beyond just being lovey-dovey. (Not that I have anything against them being lovey-dovey – I just want them to be more than that with each other.)

TN: Why did you write your first book?

INC: The Brotherhood of the Black Flag was one of those ideas I just had to get down on paper. In addition to being part of what I call the Princess Bride generation, I’m a lifelong fan of classic swashbucklers, both books and movies, and they inspired me to come up with loose ideas for stories like that of my own. I fueled that not only with more books, movies, and the occasional video game, but also researching different historical periods. Eventually, certain pieces fell into place, and a semi-complete idea for a book was eventually born. Once that happened, I couldn’t not do something with this idea. I had to write it.

TN: Why did you decide to self-publish?

INC: For a long time, I tried to get representation with an agent, mostly so I wouldn’t have to be responsible for distribution and marketing. However, finding agents that represent historical adventure fiction in and of itself was hard, let alone one who’d agree to represent it. Getting represented by an agent has only gotten harder, given how many writers are self-publishing these days and the higher standards agents now look for. They go by what they think is marketable, and I guess they didn’t see much marketability in a possibly one-shot book in a genre we don’t see much of these days. And to be perfectly honest, from a business perspective, I can’t blame them. Historical fiction simply isn’t as trendy as YA, romance, mystery, and so on.

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

INC: Since The Brotherhood of the Black Flag was written as a tribute to Hollywood swashbucklers and the classic literature they drew from, I wanted the cover to have that same feel. I wanted it to look like a movie poster from the 1930s or 1940s, or at least like a vintage adventure novel, and I think my cover artist, Luke Reznor, did a spectacular job on that front. He’s known me for a long time, knows of my love for classic films, and he understood exactly the kind of aesthetic I was going for. Also, while I know it’s not the typical book cover we see these days, that was kind of the point – I thought that this particular sort of design would stand out more.

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

INC: Nothing fancy – I just used Microsoft Word, and my editor helped with formatting.

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

INC: Don’t just throw your work out there on Amazon and expect instant success. First of all, there’s a lot of competition out there, and building and cultivating an audience will take a lot of time, so it takes a lot of patience. Second, readers have standards, and if they’re going to invest time and money in your book, they’re going to want to see that you likewise put time and effort into your work. Use beta readers and hire an editor, if you can afford one.

Also, when people help you out – research contacts, beta readers, cover artists, reviewers, etc. – be gracious about it, and make sure to thank them for their efforts and assistance, even if it’s only a small thing.

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

INC: It depends on why I’m stuck. If it’s because I’m trying to fill a plot hole or figure out a particular character arc, I’ll bounce ideas off my regular beta readers to see if I can find ways to get unstuck. Other times, I’ll immerse myself in whatever genre I’m working on at a time, or do some research, and hope something triggers an idea. I’ll even work on other projects – a different WIP, an INCspotlight review for my blog, just to keep the wheel’s turning. Sometimes I’ll be stuck for months, no matter what I try, just because the well’s run dry, and then inspiration will randomly pop into my head.

TN: Describe the plot for one of your books.

INC: The Brotherhood of the Black Flag is set in 1721, when the newly United Kingdom is dealing piracy in the Caribbean, Jacobite rebellions, and an economic crisis. Michael McNamara, wrongly kicked out of the British Royal Navy, has become a victim of the last of these, and he decides to relocate to Jamaica in search of new opportunities. Soon after he arrives, he falls in with Captain Stephen Reynard, a notorious pirate turned pirate hunter in order to earn a pardon. McNamara’s adventures alongside his wily new captain pit him against harsh seascapes, battle-hardened buccaneers, and into a treacherous web of intrigue and conspiracy that threatens thousands of innocent lives.

TN: Which one of your books is your favorite?

As of now, The Brotherhood of the Black Flag is the only one I’ve completed, so I’ll always have a soft spot for that one. I feel a great deal of pride that I took an idea and followed through with it all the way to full completion. It’s also given me the confidence that if I can complete one book, I can do it again. One of my works in progress (and likely my next one to be finished), The Sherwood Caper, is shaping up nicely. I’m really enjoying the dialogue and the way all the characters play off each other, I’m trying to surpass the action scenes from Black Flag, and I’m having lots of fun incorporating different versions of Robin Hood lore into my story. So when that one’s done, maybe it’ll be my favorite, or maybe Black Flag will keep the top spot. We’ll see what happens.


“FYI An Unintended Consequence” Interview with Patricia Gitt

TN: Today my interview is with Patricia Gitt, a former business executive turned writer. 

TN: When did you know you were a writer?

PG: I have been writing my entire career. However, I never considered it as anything more than another of my business skills.

TN: What is your writing style?

PG: When I first began to think of writing a book unrelated to my career, I chose to write a novel. Because it was an entirely different form of expression, I sought out seminars and workshops to better understand the differences between creative fiction and drafting factual copy.

TN: Why did you write your first book (fiction)?

PG: I was at a point in my career where I had become somewhat stale. In addition to writing corporate magazines and other documents I was also enrolled in graduate school and traveled a good deal for my job. During those days I spent a lot of time on airplanes and in hotels and wondered where I was going in my career. I asked myself what if I changed my goals and set my sights on becoming CEO of my company…what it would take to make me the best executive possible. That “what if” became the idea for my first novel entitled “CEO.”

TN: Very interesting reason for writing a book. Anyway, to continue…Why did you decide to self-publish?

PG: After querying over 80 agents with no success, I decided to self-publish so I could present my parents with a finished book. They had joined me in this journey that took 25 years from concept to publication. When I presented them with the first copy, they told me how proud they were that I had stuck with it. Their approval was worth the entire effort.

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

PG: I photographed an office building that I thought represented the company in the book and a designer augmented it by placing the title on the roof of the office building.

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

PG: The entire book was done in Microsoft word and the publisher formatted it for paper and eBook publication.

TN: What advice can you give to someone who is considering self-publishing?

PG: Do your research to find the publisher that has a reputation for delivering the quality you are seeking. Ask friends, read reviews and talk to the representative to see how responsive they are to your questions since you will be working closely with them throughout the process.

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

PG: Unfortunately, I go out to lunch.

TN: Describe the plot for one of your books.

PG: FYI An Unintended Consequence” – Fake news terrorizes Taryn Cooper Walsh, managing partner of 4G Investments. Each mysterious mailing contains increasingly vicious lies all suggesting that Taryn is running a highly unethical firm. Supported by her husband, business partners, and friends, Taryn searches for the source of these fallacious clippings before they are leaked and destroy her reputation along with the trust of investors in her firm.

TN: Very pertinent topic these days! Which one of your books is your favorite?

PG: It is hard to pick a favorite book, although the first book “CEO” will probably remain top of the list. Each novel is an improvement in my storytelling capabilities and draws on different experiences and people I have met during my career as an executive in public relations.

TN: Thank you Patricia for the interview, and I wish you continued success with your writing.