Thursday, June 28, 2012

An Invitation To Go For A Pint.

Another Thursday!
Today's featured guest,
Graham Smith!

As a hotel manager and husband and father I find that my writing has to be slotted in around lot of other commitments.

My average day sees me finish work and then head home. I tend to spend time catching up with my family until my son goes to bed or at least upstairs to his room. I can then spend anything between ten minutes and two hours catching up on E-mails, Facebooking and dealing with all other social media. Then if I have energy left I will lift up the laptop and start pounding the keys.

I tend to write sitting on the couch with the TV on low in the background. I don’t write every night, but I do try and do something connected with writing everyday. Whether it is the promoting either of my Ebooks, an update for my blog or taking part in interviews or guest posts such as this, I do a little bit almost every day.

At the time of writing I’m roughly ten thousand words away from finishing my debut novel. The grand plan is to finish the first draft and then take a month off to let it slip from my mind while I crank out some short stories. Then I’ll edit the novel and try to get a publishing deal.

A call from work, a football match or an invitation to go for a pint can disrupt my writing at any point although I’m much more disciplined than I used to be. Short story writing is much easier for me to tackle as a discipline as the end is always nearer.

Being in the service industry my days off tend to be midweek so they often afford me a good few hours to crank out a few thousand words although Mrs The Wife can often demand some of my time.

I’m also an avid reader of crime fiction and I review for the well respected review site so I also have to find time to write reviews. It isn’t easy juggling all this but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. For the last eleven years he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer for the well respected review site for over two years.

As well as reviewing for Graham has also interviewed such stellar names as David Baldacci, Jeffrey Deaver, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Matt Hilton, current CWA Chair Peter James, Mark Billingham and many others.

When not working, his time is spent reading, writing and playing games with his son. He enjoys socializing and spending time with friends and family.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Pink Day!

Happy Pink Day!
It's a Dog-Gone great day.

Have fun 
and join up with Beverly and the the ladies

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Life Isn't a Rehearsal

It's a Wicked Thursday today,
Introducing Roger Hurn

Hi, my name is Roger Hurn. I live in London and I'm a full time writer and storyteller. I realized writing was going to be my life on my first day at school. You see, it was just a regular school, not Hogwarts, but my teacher gave me a magic wand and I used that wand to have the most amazing adventures. Only my teacher didn't call it a magic wand - she called it a pencil. It was thanks to her that I set out on this life of storytelling and writing.

I do lots of author visits to schools, and sharing my stories with kids is just the most amazing fun. It seems to me that the human brain is hard-wired to love a good yarn. My evidence for this is, although I’ve gone into some tough schools with challenging kids, I’ve always found that a good story grabs their interest and holds their attention – even on a wet Thursday afternoon! When the students ask me if I like doing what I do I tell them that if they can get someone to pay them for doing the thing they love – which in my case is writing and telling stories for great kids like them - then they will never work a day in their lives. It’s the secret of a happy life. I also tell them that I would still make up stories even if nobody paid me because you don’t choose to be a writer – it chooses you. Though my wife doesn't think it's so great when the Muse comes calling at 3 in the morning and I have to get up and write an idea down.  I know if I don't I'll only have forgotten it come the dawn.  But no matter how quietly I try to sneak out she always wakes up, snaps on the light and acts surprised that it's me standing there and not a burglar! 

Despite the odd nocturnal misunderstanding, my main problem is balancing the time I spend visiting schools with the time I spend writing. I love the buzz of sharing a new story with the kids and getting their feedback, but I also have to meet publisher deadlines. So, if I’m out all day in schools I have to write at night – and my wife and kids aren’t best pleased. On top of this, I play guitar in a rock band and football (soccer) for a local team. So, trying to fit everything in and keep everyone happy isn’t easy. But then, as someone once said, life isn’t a rehearsal.  Of course, the answer to all my problems would be to find a way of never actually sleeping but unless a mad scientist somewhere is busy inventing a "Who Needs Sleep?" machine I don't think that's going to happen.


Roger Hurn is a storyteller and writer of children's books. On a storytelling trip to Nigeria he was made Mallam Oga by the local Hausa people. The title Mallam Oga means "Wise teacher, Big Boss" - or at least that's what they told him!
Roger really enjoys writing stories that are dark and edgy, but that also have a gleam of humour to lighten the darkness. That's why he was delighted when one reader of his novel "Something Wicked This Way Comes" wrote the following review: "... with humour and scares taking turns on the page, this book will keep you thrilled and engaged." He hopes that plenty of other readers will feel the same way about it!
Roger lives in London with his long suffering wife Pam.  He also plays bass guitar in a rock band – much to the despair of music lovers everywhere. 

His latest book: Something Wicked This Way Comes (Amazon Kindle Store) came about when a school asked him to tell their children the story of the Pied Piper. He did, but it struck him that the Piper is one of the most sinister characters in fairy stories. He researched the background to the legend and discovered some evidence that the Piper reappeared in England about one hundred years after he stole the children from Hamelin. This intrigued him and he wondered what happened to the children he stole; why he did it; how was he able to travel through time; and what would happen if he came back today? The only way Roger could exorcise this evil character and was to write the story. The Piper has stopped haunting his imagination now, but you can find him in Something Wicked – if you dare!  

Amazon author page:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Figuring It All Out

You know how much I enjoy
reading about writers.
I really enjoy
reading about young authors.
Today I have a very special guest author, 
Selena L.C. Kramer

I write from my dreams, see I don’t remember my dreams much and when I do they are detailed and extraordinary. I like to write in the morning and late at night because I am a “night owl” and I can focus on my writing without my siblings bothering me. I never base characters on people, and I am not in my novels. I seem to love leaving myself hanging, because my dreams ended at the most exciting part. I like the good versus evil cliché, and you don’t really know who your friends are until their put to the test.

My first book is coming out in July, and I have been working on it for 2 years, not including the editing process. My dreams is to be a published author and its coming true, surprisingly it’s much easier to balance with my school life then I was lead on to believe. I do not expect to become huge, but I don’t care as long as my work touches one person. So I try to write with as much emotion as a person feels. I have write because it feels write, and when it doesn’t I don’t write. I may be a published poet, I have been for two years, I’ll find out tomorrow. I know its kind of silly I don’t know. My writing helps my anxiety, and sleep.

I am 16 so balancing school, social life, and being an author was very hard at first. Then I realized if I give myself time limits on how much work I do on everything every day I would be able to get everything done. When I get home I work out for a half hour, then my homework, dinner, then writing. I try to write 5 pages a day. Then after I study until I can sleep. During school I write when I have my free time in class after all my class work is done. This has helped me keep up my 3.87 gpa and get all my deadlines done. Still having my beta readers be done on time is a task that requires a lot of attention. I ask about how much time they need and how far they are about 3 times a week. It truly helps that most of them are at my school. I have to keep in touch with my editor and it helps she’s a relative. It’s stressful and fun to be a self-published author; well I will be in July. Having projects and deadlines on the same day freaks me out at first but I figure it all out.
Selena Kramer is a native of Southern California. Presently the age of 16, she is a Junior in High School and the Author of The Bloody Dreams Series. Selena found her affection for writing in 3rd grade. Her poetry includes When its hard in High School, and Help!. Selena is currently working on the second book in The Bloody Dreams Series.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Never Off Duty

Get ready to Balance
your writing and your life
with  Harper Donohue

I had not thought about writing stories since I was a child but in 2007 I was absolutely compelled to write one. I was not writing to publish. I spent every spare moment I had over a period of three years writing that story and when I wasn’t writing I was thinking about it. I thought that would be the end of the whole experience but then I found I needed to write another and then start on yet another before the second was finished. 

I get very frustrated at not having enough time to write. I have two children at home, a job and on the bigger timeline have started writing quite late in my life. So, there is not that much time now and probably not as much as I need in the future. While I don’t have the number of hours I would like to sit at the key board my way of overcoming this is to think the story through continually. This may be while dropping off to sleep, in the bath or walking to school to pick up the children. There have been points where my attention to my fictional world has impacted on my real world. I suddenly realised I should have got out of bed half an hour ago or I’ve got out of the bath forgetting that I was supposed to wash my hair.

I also tune my brain to listen out for relevant discussions and spot pertinent articles or documentaries. I might look up something I need to find out about early in the morning and let the information percolate through my mind during the course of the day. Sometimes I must come over as really nosey when I meet a person who relates in some way to one of my fictional characters. I probably ask them way too many questions as I try and find out more about what makes them tick. I can’t believe how many of the things I write about do subsequently crop up in real life. I spent hours researching possible wedding venues all over the country for a story before eventually choosing a suitable candidate. The next day my eldest son was invited to a wedding at that very place. I guess rather than a time for writing and a time for real life I have them both running in parallel. I’m never off duty either way. 

I recently decided to experiment with e-publishing. I must admit that I did waste a whole afternoon of writing time one day as I got hooked on following my ranking on Amazon. I have also got a bit hooked on on-line writing groups over the last two weeks. It’s a phase though and it will pass. My story is called ‘The Last Day the Sun shone’.

Harper Donohue is a writer living in London. Following many years of working with people in a variety of ways she remains fascinated by the complexity of individuals. In addition to her natural interest she has formally studied child development and human psychology. In her writing she explores the continual struggle created by the human desire to relate to one another.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Balance Is All In How You Make Chicken Soup

It's Thursday!
And I'm hungry.
If you aren't now, you will be soon.
Here's Diane Schochet!

How do I manage writing and other stuff like washing and cooking and straightening up?
Not well. I wear underwear once but outer wear for days.  I make an easy chicken soup.  Here’s the recipe.  Boil chicken in a pot of water.  Strain off the slime. Add carrots, parsnips, onions, leeks, a hot green pepper, and celery.  Bring to a boil. Then turn to simmer. Then write for 45 minutes.  Check soup. Add parsley or bay leaf. Check to see if the chicken is done.  If done, put the soup in the refrigerator.  Leave it there until the next day.  Defat it.  Take out what you won’t eat with the soup.  In my case this includes the chicken.  My husband prefers beef in his chicken soup.  His name is Leo.  
I don’t have straightening up down but I can be fast if company is coming over.
Which brings up how I deal with the people in my life and still write.
My children are grown and out of the house.  My husband works out of the house.  So you would think that I would have hours to write.  If I didn’t procrastinate and waste time, I would.  If people didn’t call, I would. I have a writer friend who says nobody can call her until after three.  But, I haven’t been able to manage that rule.  Maybe somebody will have an emergency, I think.  So my rule is I don’t call you.  You have to call me.  Unless I haven’t heard from you for a long time.  Then I call you.
Even so, despite disorganization, people, and bad habits, I always write  at least one page a day. 
Author's Bio: 
I'm from California.  Went to UCLA.  Majored in theater. Taught school.  Directed plays. Married Leo one thousand years ago. Have two sons.
One daughter-in-law.  And absolutely shiny granddaughters.  Here's the skinny on them.  They are gorgeous geniuses who are kind. And I'm telling it like it is.  Not bragging.
My novel, COG STONE DREAMS is a mystical, magical, humorous love story with a murder, 9000 years of history, Jewish themes and estuarial wetlands thrown in. Cog Stone Dreams is set at the Westbruk Wetlands.
The Westbruk Wetlands are based on the Bolsa Chica Wetlands.I live in Huntington Beach, California and have lived on the east and north side of the Bolsa Chica where I’m a history docent.
Every year I take classes.  I’ve taken anthropology classes where I learned about Cog Stones and other ruins on the wetlands.  I have taken bird classes, fish classes, native plant classes, niche classes and classes given by the indigenous people to the area.  When I first moved to Huntington Beach, I heard the Wetlands would be built upon and there would be houses, restaurants and a marina.  And I said, “Yea! How wonderful!”  I didn’t realize the harm that would ensue.  I didn’t realize that all most all the wetlands in California had been degraded.  
On September 14, 1947, when Dessa, the main character, was ten, her father’s Dodge broke down on a Southern California coast road between the Westbruk Wetlands and Cardboard Beach.  That day Dessa explored the beach, witnessed what may or not have been a bow and arrow murder and bought a dream inducing cog stone from a homeless boy named Leo.  That night she had her first cog stone induced dream. All her dreams took place at the Westbruk Wetlands and Card Board Beach. Leo, the homeless boy who sold her the cog stone, is in every dream.  Like Dessa he gets older.
It is now 1957.  Dessa is twenty and engaged to a Mister Perfect named Micah.  How perfect? Micah is kind, smart, handsome and rich. He adores Dessa.  They are at a sorority dance.  Micah has excused himself to go to the restroom.  Dessa is sitting on a metal folding chair. Here’s an excerpt:
My right foot fell asleep. I stretched it to stamp out the tingles and kicked a white sock inside of a large brown, scuffed, loafer. “I’m sorry,” I said to the sock and shoe, then looked up to the face the shoe and sock belonged to and jumped.  I was looking at Leo, the boy I had met on Cardboard Beach when I was ten.  The Leo who’d sold me my dream inducing cog stone. The Leo I dreamt about.  “Leo?”  I said.
“Do I know you?”  He smiled the same crooked teeth smile. 
“We met when we were ten,” I said.  “I was ten.  I don’t know how old you were.  How old are you now?”
“I was ten and you were eleven,” I said.
“Vas it in the orphanage or the school?” He seemed to have an accent or speech impairment. 
“It was on the beach,” I said. 
“When I was eleven I never went to the beach,” he said.
“You’re a liar,” I said.
Instead of arguing the point, he asked me to dance.  A Strauss waltz was playing on the record player and I walked into the arms of a man who knew how to waltz.  He had on cologne or after-shave lotion, I’m not sure which, and his breath smelled minty. 
            At the end of the dance, people clapped for us, we bowed---.
Both in paperback and on ebook Cog Stone Dreams is published by Red Phoenix Books and can be found at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. puts books about estuarial wetlands in their lakes and ponds category.  Today Cog Stone Dreams is number 18 in best-selling and number 2 best rated in the Kindle lakes and ponds category.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Balancing Act

I can't seem to get enough advice.
Today's guest is 
Jonell Kirby Cash

Over the years as a college professor, I wrote several books and other shorter works. Then, widowed and in the middle of busy retirement, I married my high school sweetheart, increasing exponentially my family size and complexity.  It seemed that people “ate up my time,” and age began to take a toll on my energy. But I wasn’t ready to settle for the routine, and as I approached the eighth decade of life I became mindful that I had not fulfilled my dream of writing a novel. Then and there, like turning on a dime, I decided to become a serious student of fiction and write a novel that would speak to the fifty-plus year old reader.

My big hurtle was to block out uninterrupted time to write and to give myself permission to use the needed resources (time, money, energy) to get the help I needed to understand the structure of fiction. And I wanted to be part of the give-and-take of the creative writers’ community.

I approached what I needed like any self-confident woman would:  I hid my, I want uninterrupted time, wish behind my age.  I thought, No one expects an eighty-something year old to be available from early till late!  This time slot idea was great because I enjoy working into the night—and I also enjoy sleeping my eight hours from the time I go to bed until I get up.  I carved out my writing time from about 8pm until around 3am, when the home activities had settled down, and I slept from about 3am until 10:00am or later.  (Note: As fate would have it, shortly after our marriage, my husband and I had agreed that we would make our own breakfast.)

My use of money was actually much less a problem at my age than it would have been had I been a young mother with children.  Retired and with my own income (and with an agreed upon joint account for our common use) I did not need to account to anyone for my expenditures and I could determine what I could or would spend on my writing activities.  For example, I was free to pay a consultant to critique my work if I made that choice.  However, being away from home to attend conferences required negotiations and/or making the event a shared experience (which was not always convenient or even comfortable—but it was workable.)

As my writing progressed, and my commitment to my novel became more intense, I did have some internal friction about some things, like not having frequent family gatherings (because preparation and cleaning up afterwards was time consuming), and sometimes I had the feeling that my extended family was unhappy with the way I was using my time; yet, their disapproval (if real) was unspoken and so I pursued my dream knowing that we are living fully when we are pursuing our passion.

Voila! This past year, at age 82, I had my first novel, A RING, A DANCE, A SECOND CHANCE (Tate. 2011) published.  Writing the love story about high school sweethearts, who marry more than forty years later, was a personally satisfying experience.  Now, I’m looking forward to embarking on my next work of fiction.

Dr. Jonell Kirby Cash

Jonell  Kirby Cash grew up in Georgia where she graduated from Franklin County, Georgia, high school, in 1947; Reinhardt Junior College, Waleska, Georgia, 1949; University of Georgia, , BS.HEC, 1952; MS  Degree in Education, 1957; (PHD)  EdD (in Education,) Counseling Psychology, 1964. She performed her post Doctoral work included a summer session at Carnegie Melon University.

She taught in the public schools of Georgia for twelve years and was a full-time teacher at UGA while she was a full-time doctoral student.  Her first college position was at Augusta College as Directory of the Counseling Center and later served as Director of Instruction Director of Instruction with Georgia’s 9th District Services Center.  She taught at the graduate level at University of Georgia, Syracuse University and West Virginia University, in Morgantown, WV.  She moved to Kanawha Valley Graduate Center in Charleston, WV as Coordinator of Instruction with West Virginia University and later, was an Assoc. Dean for Program development, and she was involved in developing an accredited graduate college (WVCOGS) in Charleston, West Virginia.

Professionally, Dr. Jonell Kirby Cash served on the editorial board of the Journal for Specialists in Group Work and as an advisory editor for The Individual Psychologist; she was a member of the Commission on Higher Education of the North Central Accreditation Association, and a consultant to overseas workshops in Portugal, Australia, Brazil, Egypt and England. 

Dr. Jonell Kirby Cash has authored four books in the field of psychology and counseling and since retiring has written her first novel, A Ring, A Dance, A Second Change.  With her busy schedule Jonell has found time to attend workshops in writing, create a writing group, and read widely. Since retiring her volunteer work has included CASA, working with couple under stress and with disruptive children and troubled families.