Prismatic – Sarah Elle Emm


I am  pleased to introduce you to Sarah Elle Emm, author of the new book Prismatic published by Winter Goose Publishing.  Her first book, Marrying Missy, is also featured here.    Young-Adult Fantasy & Women’s Fiction Author,  Sarah describes her challenges as a writer, and gives us a prismatic look at the life of a writer.

Like me, you will get a sense of Sarah’s gentle humor and insightful personality as you read on.  I want to thank her for taking the time, in between unpacking boxes, to give me this interview today.  

Describe your life in a “headline” re: news of magazine:

Sarah Elle Emm’s young-adult fantasy PRISMATIC, now available in E-books and Paperback

Tell us your latest news?

Book one, Prismatic, from the Harmony Run Series was just released in paperback and e-books by Winter Goose Publishing.  The Barnes & Noble book signing for Prismatic is this Saturday, June 9th, from 2-3:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Booksellers of Evansville, Indiana.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I felt compelled to write from an early age.  When I sat down at Mom’s typewriter to write my first story at age seven, I felt at home and knew that writing was going to be one of the secrets to my happiness.  Even though I didn’t get that first story finished right away, I couldn’t ignore the need to create with words and wrote some poems as a kid.  Mom gave me a travel journal on our first trip to Germany when I was twelve-years-old, and I guess the journal entries confirmed that I needed to write to feel complete.  When I was twenty-two-years old, I decided to start writing short stories and novels in addition to those journal entries.  Even though I couldn’t tell the world about how I was feeling, I knew it was true.  I was a writer, and it was only a matter of time before I would be sharing my stories.

What inspired you to write your first book Marrying Missy?

Marrying Missy is about an unlikely friendship, women hurting themselves to look a certain way, betrayal, prejudice, judging people, overcoming the negative things some of us are taught by the people who have raised us, marriage, and the chance of change and love.  It is set in Atlanta in the spring time during the wedding planning of Missy.  It’s a fast-paced, fun, easy read, and at the same time has some important messages for people to think about.  A lifetime of internal conflict and low self-esteem inspired me to have Missy hate herself so much.  At first glance, it would appear that Missy hates the world around her, but once you get further into the story, you will see that Missy hates herself.  Lots of people hate themselves.  Everywhere I have lived and traveled, I have met women, some worse than others, who struggle with self-esteem and body issues.  I have daughters and nieces now, and I wanted to go ahead and put some thoughts out there about the consequences of negative behavior and getting caught up in the need for material excess.  Life is hard enough.  Let’s stop picking on ourselves, ladies.  You are worth it.  We are worth it.  I am worth it.  Prejudice is another important theme in this book.  Missy is a fictional character, based off of a multitude of experiences and hundreds of people I have met around the globe.  Prejudice is very real, it does not exist within one race or culture alone, and it simply disturbs me.  I might be purple.  You might be green.  Does one color make you better than another color?  No.  I might be broke.  You might have a billion dollars in your bank account.  Does that mean one of us is better than the other?  No.  Believe it or not, we all have hearts beating on the inside.  I don’t see the need to judge each other by the physical and material aspects.  Last time I checked, most people say that it’s our hearts that matter.  Let’s be nice to ourselves and one another, shall we?

Do you have a specific writing style?

Well, I have written in a few different genres.  I have written chick lit, romantic suspense, and now young-adult fantasy.  I think anyone who has read one of my books would agree that there is a common thread with everything I write including a romance or love story, even if it’s secondary to the main story.  I had fun with Marrying Missy, writing the main character’s voice, (the character Tate,) in first person in a chick lit voice, but I intentionally wrote in third person for the other characters’ view points to kind of mix things up.  I thought multiple view points added some depth to the story, but I still wanted Tate to be in first person.  I got into the three different genres being a fan of reading them.  A definite consistent in my writing would be that my chapters are on the short side, so my readers can pick up the book, come and go, and still have time to read an entire chapter at once.

Your latest book Prismatic, just came out.  Tell us about it?

First off, here is the synopsis…

Rare glimpses of birds are the only reminder of the freedoms Rain Hawkins once had.  Now segregated into a mixed-race zone within the United Zones of the Authority, under tyrannical rule of President Nicks, Rain is forced to endure the bleak conditions set upon her.  The possibility of a way out arises when Rain discovers an organized resistance called The Freedom Front, and learns that she, along with many other multi-racial people, has special abilities.  Determined to overcome her situation, Rain sets out on a mission with the resistance that will fill her life with wonder, romance, and the undying hope for a better world.

Prismatic was partially intended for a Twilight type of audience.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are no vampires or werewolves, but there is a teen romance between main characters, Rain and Jabari, vital to this series, and I was writing it for readers who can appreciate the crazy hormones and feelings that a first love or crush can involve.  Prismatic is unique in that the cast is very diverse, and the stars of the show, if you will, are mostly multi-racial teenagers.  The story takes place in the year 2050 and follows seventeen-year-old Rain Hawkins as she embarks on a mission against a tyrannical government, discovers her special abilities, risks her life on a daily basis, and even discovers love in her terrifyingly bleak circumstances.

What were the challenges having your books published?

I spent a few years attempting to get a literary agent to give me a chance.  I spent a lot of time researching how to write the perfect query letter, trying different approaches, and using every tip I could from agentquery.com and publishing books.  It was frustrating, but I made myself keep writing through it all.  When I began my blog, My Name is Sarah, to share my journey and random stories about my life, I got instant feedback from readers.  I wasn’t even published, and I was entertaining and connecting with readers.  That’s when I realized it didn’t matter if an agent ever gave me a chance.  Shortly after my blog began to grow, I received the first positive email from a publisher.  They wanted to look at Marrying Missy.  I was excited beyond words for once in my life.  The long road to publication was worth every bump.

What books have most influenced your life most?

The first time I recall being completely transported into the pages of a book was when I was a little girl reading a Trixie Belden mystery, The Secret of the Mansion by Julie Campbell.  All of a sudden, I was in awe of story-telling, and I felt the desire to write grow stronger.  That was an important moment for me.  The seed was planted.  Trixie was real to me.  I could picture her in my mind and visualize her story.  I wanted to do that.  I loved reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy because they comforted me during some difficult times.  I was inspired to go after my dreams, regardless of how tiny they were, after I read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.  It made me want to be a better person.  It made me want to believe in a better world.  If Mr. Mandela could survive, overcome, and change the world after the hell he went through, anything could be possible.  At least that’s how he made me feel.  I recommend everyone read his story.  It’s important.

What book are you reading now?

I like to support indie authors and small presses when I can, so my list usually includes some of those titles.  To be honest, I am moving right now, so I haven’t read a page for at least a week.  On my Kindle app for my cell phone now, I am reading Pearls, by Lisa Mills.  Her cover got my attention.  I just started it, but so far, I am enjoying it very much.  Next up on my to-read list is Stella Stafford’sDid Anyone Die?  I think it is going to be an entertaining read.

What are your current projects?

I am finishing the Harmony Run Series.  The sequel to Prismatic, is called Opalescent, and is set for a February 2013 release.  I am having a romantic suspense I wrote edited, marketing my books, and keeping up with my blog.  Keep in mind, I am doing all of this while keeping up with my preschoolers, (one is getting ready to begin Kindergarten,) being a wife, and oh yeah, moving from Indiana to Florida.  I am currently living out of a suitcase and will be driving to my new home after my Prismatic book signing this weekend.  Regardless of my projects, I have one main goal:  I want to be the best mother I can be.  I am so blessed to have an amazing mother, and I want to try and be the best mom I can for my kids.

Who are your cheerleaders?

These days?  I have a lot of them.  Mom, my brother, Sam, my sister, Coleen, my husband, Charles, my mother-in-law, Muriel, and her sister, Faye, my Grandpa, Grandma, Dad, and of course, my best friend, Sonja.  This group of people are telling everyone about my latest release and being truly supportive.  Before I got published?  Well, not everyone knew my secret.  My mother was my first cheerleader.  She reassured me for nearly a decade that I could, in fact, write, and that I should never, ever stop writing.  My husband jumped on board team Sarah as soon as I told him that I was finishing my first book, one that I had started writing years before I met him.  He was very supportive from the moment he found out he had married an in-the-closet-writer.  I remember the first time he read an excerpt from a book I had written, and he said, “Wow.  You are a writer.”  Sam, Coleen, and Mom have been cracking me up with their theories about what will happen in book two, Opalescent, of this new series.  They are cheering me on and all slightly irritated they have to wait until February to see what happens next.  I have my bag of secrets, the notes, outlines, and details for the entire series in my brother’s spare room right now, and I swear he has looked at that bag with some intensity and too much curiosity a few times.  My sister is trying to trick me into revealing the details, but it’s not happening, Coleen!  All of my cheerleaders will have to wait until the official release of Opalescent.  Sorry, guys.  😉

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Well, as of now…no.  I really like Prismatic.  It’s my baby that started with a dream I had.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Of course, it was just released so there haven’t been a lot of reviews yet, and it is bit of a controversial story.  You never know what people might say once word gets out about a futuristic, racially segregated world with multi-racial kids standing up to resist their tyrannical government.  I might be wishing I had written a Mary Poppin’s type of novel before long.  Ha, ha, ha…

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I love Nora Roberts because she continuously delivers a solid, well-developed, heart-warming story.  I can depend on her to tell a story I will enjoy.  She never disappoints.  I also love the FBI thriller series by Catherine Coulter.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would just say that it’s best to remember who you are writing for and that you can’t please everyone.  Write what you like to read, but more importantly, write for you.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I have a book giveaway once a month on my blog and Facebook fan page.  All you have to do is join the blog, My Name is Sarah, and ‘like’ my Facebook page, Sarah Elle Emm, and you are entered in the free book drawing.  I would also love for everyone to know about the Prismatic book signing this Saturday, June 9th from 2-3:30 p.m. at 624 S. Green River Road in my hometown of Evansville, Indiana.  It’s my last stop before I hit the road for southern Florida, where the next chapter begins.

Fun questions:

If you had to give yourself a “theme song” what would it be and why?

That’s easy.  SheDaisy’s, “Lucky 4 You (Tonight I’m Just Me.)”  Ha.  First off, I have a small list of country songs I like, and this is one of them.  It’s funny.  She’s talking about her supposed multiple personalities her ex says she has, but she tells him he’s lucky tonight, “It’s just me.”  It makes me laugh.  I can relate to moods, emotions, or hormones, whatever it is, influencing my daily decisions.  No, I don’t actually have multiple personalities, but sometimes I have to struggle to keep the calm, collected exterior in place that the world sees.  I have moods I guess in place of multiple personalities.  There is the crazy Sarah who just needs some chocolate, the stressed out Sarah who needs to blast reggae, rock, or blues from her speakers and dance her troubles away, the Sarah who needs to attack the treadmill to exercise the inner demons, and of course, the Sarah who needs to pour her heart onto the blank computer screen and write a fiction story.  That Sarah is kind of crazier than the rest.  She will laugh or shout out periodically, “Yes!” when a chapter suddenly clicks and it turned out the way she wanted.  You should listen to that song right now, (after this interview.)  It makes me smile.  🙂

Name three items which need to be with you at all times?

Cell phone, (for it’s phone but also because I like to listen to the music I have stored on it wherever I am,) favorite ink pen, paper of any kind

What would we find in your junk drawer right now?

I moved out of my house and am living in a suitcase for five more days, so technically, I have no junk drawer at the moment.  In my temporary junk drawer, (a backpack at my brother’s house,) you will find post it notes and my eye-glass cleaner.  (I only wear my contacts in public.  I am blind and prefer my glasses at home.)  You will also find a lovely scented lotion, an I-pod, and a small purse with coins only.  Change is my junk drawer thing.  My husband leaves a trail of coins wherever he goes, and I collect them.  I made $175 off of coins I wrapped last week.  It was a tedious process but somehow rewarding.  My husband had to laugh after he recovered from the shock of my cash-in.  Yep, I will keep saving those pennies.  You can count on it.

Who is your favorite super hero and why?

I guess I am a product of the eighties because the answer is She-Ra: Princess of Power.  I saw the cartoon when I was a kid.  She-Ra is the alter ego of Princess Adora and He-Man’s sister.  Her powers were cool…incredible strength, speed, she was acrobatic.  She preferred to outsmart her adversaries instead of using violence.  When I am trying to motivate myself to do something I am afraid of or overwhelmed by, the words, “I am She-Ra!” pop into my mind.  I can do it.  I am She-Ra.  Well, at least I am going to keep telling myself that.

How can we purchase your books?

Marrying Missy and Prismatic are in paperback and e-books at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

Sarah Elle Emm, a native of Evansville, Indiana and graduate of The University of Evansville, has lived in Germany, England, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and traveled extensively beyond.  Her love of travel, great fiction stories that you can escape into, and multicultural experience have all shaped her stories.  Sarah currently resides in Florida with her Chef husband and their children.  When she’s not walking the plank of her daughters’ imaginary pirate ship, she is writing. (source:  sarahelleemm.com)

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Follow Sarah  on any of these social websites:

 

Blog  *  Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Website *

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Sea Of Trees – Interview with Robert James Russell


This week’s author inspired me with his candor and excitement.  Robert James Russell has a lot to be excited about!   His book, Sea of Trees, published through Winter Goose Publishing,  is available, as of yesterday on Amazon.com.  I am so pleased our interview goes live today, as I love to see young authors thrive in this, sometimes challenging world of book publishing.

His bio on the publisher’s website, states Robert “is a fan of well-placed stream of consciousness and stories that feature everyday characters and dialogue”.  It states that he leans towards writing stories on relationships in their numerous forms.  Robert is also the founder of Midwestern Gothica site ‘dedicated to featuring work about or inspired by the Midwest, by writers who live or have lived here.”  Founded in 2010, this “quarterly print literary journal out of Ann Arbor, Michigan” …” aims to collect the very best in Midwestern fiction writing in a way that has never been done before, cataloging the oeuvre of an often-overlooked region of the United States ripe with its own mythologies and tall tales.”  (source:  About page on  Midwestern Gothic )

The Interview

If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be?

Too hard to answer! I guess…Jay Gatsby? All that wealth would be pretty grand. If I had to pick who my favorite character is (and not who I would be, because those are very different questions), I’d say it’s a tie: Henry Chinaski, and Patrick Bateman.

When and why did you begin writing?

I actually wanted to be an illustrator when I was younger, drew all the time. Writing stories sort of developed from that—or, in tandem to it, really—and I fell in love with it. I was hooked—I was around ten years old and could not stop writing fantasy stories (a genre I am very foreign to now). And now…it’s like breathing. I can’t not write. It’s just part of who I am.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Sea of Trees isn’t actually my first book. I wrote a book in college when I was really starting to explore my writing voice (which is, and forever shall be, collecting virtual dust), and I’ve written a few other full length “things” since, but I see them, in general, as practice. Getting a good cadence, honing my skills and my voice. So, I guess I wrote my very first book because it was the natural progression of things, of being a writer. I had an idea and I needed to see it written down. But that’s also why I still write books now, why I wrote Sea of Trees, and why I’ll continue to write in the future: Once that little seed of an idea starts germinating in your brain, what other choice do you have? You have to write it. I think inspiration for each project comes from different places, but again, once it’s been implanted, there’s no getting rid of it.

Is anything in Sea of Trees based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

I mean, everything is based to some extent on personal experiences, right? Personal feelings, arguments, things you’ve seen that stand in for places you may not have seen. I’ve never been to the forest at the heart of Sea of Trees, nor have I (fortunately) known anyone who has committed suicide, but I guess this book is a means for me to attempt to understand the understandable—something we all feel the need to do. So to answer your question, it is purely imagination, with feelings and thoughts taken from my own life, reinterpreted to fit this story. The setting for Sea of Trees, however, came about pretty simply: I came across an article about Aokigahara—this mega-forest near Mt. Fuji that is the second most popular spot in the world for people to commit suicide—and just found it absolutely fascinating—and unnerving. Quite simply: It was something I had to write about.

And as I developed the story, I decided to have the main character, Bill, be an outsider so he, like the reader (and like me), can be in the dark about this culture, this place, struggling to understand something so far removed from his own logic.

The story is about, in a larger sense, lost souls—Bill and Junko represent this both physically, as they are lost in the woods, as well as figuratively in a variety of ways (Junko, for instance, seems to be lost in life after the death of her sister, Bill seems lost about the true nature of their relationship, thinking he knows her one minute, then not at all another). I think the themes here are bigger than Aokigahara, and bigger than Japan, bigger than suicide, even, using these unfortunate events as catalysts to talk about what it means to be lost in the world, especially today.

What books have most influenced your life?

Too many to name, but here’s a few (in no particular order):  As I Lay Dying (William Faulkner), American Psycho (Bret Easton Ellis), Outer Dark (Cormac McCarthy), To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), McTeague (Frank Norris), and Post Office (Charles Bukowski).

Can you tell us a little about your book “Sea of Trees”?

Sea of Trees is about an American, Bill, and his Japanese girlfriend Junko as they wander through Aokigahara as they try to find evidence of Junko’s sister who disappeared there a year before. It gets moody, but it’s mostly about them, their relationships, and some stuff, as they say, does go down at the end. The book alternates between the main story, Bill and Junko, 1st person from Bill’s POV, as they navigate the forest in question, and then little 3rd-person vignettes/epilogues after each chapter that detail how someone came to the forest to commit suicide—each focusing on a random person, an unique story that brought them there.

What are your current projects?

Midwestern Gothic is keeping me busy—plus we have some very exciting (and big) announcements coming up that will up the ante of what we’re doing with that. I am also working on a new novel that I’m hoping to have finished later this year.

Do you see writing as a career?

For a very lucky few, yes. I think it’s getting harder and harder to do that, so many writers these days need to diversify their talents (teaching college-level English classes, for instance). I don’t have any grand hopes that I will be able to retire and be a writer full-time, not because I don’t think I’m very good, but just because the chances of that in today’s publishing clime is just so…slight. Also, if in the event that ever DOES happen, at least this way I’ll be surprised (rather than disappointed expecting it to happen, then finding out it won’t).

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Everything! I’m sure every author feels that way, right? But seriously, there are tiny little things here and there I see when I re-read it, little bits of dialog I’d tweak every-so-slightly (to infinity, I’m sure), but I’m actually quite happy with how It turned out in general, even now. But as a whole? No, I wouldn’t change it.

How would you describe your writing space?  Do you have a ritual?

My writing habits vary. I don’t have a ritual, per se. When the mood hits, I have to write. Doesn’t matter where I am (it’s one of the reason I almost always have a small notebook on me, or, at least, I can take notes on my phone), or what time of day. The one “sort of ritual” I guess I have is that I like to be in public places when I write (libraries, coffee shops)—something about being surrounded by people is inspiring to me. If I’m stuck on something, I just have to look around and people watch for about five minutes before I’m inspired again. I also tend to do my best writing late at night.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Hands-down: Faulkner. He was a pioneer, the way he dissected language, combated the norms of what could be expected from an American novel at that time, and just crafted the most gut-wrenchingly emotional and just overall fantastic tales ever. Period. I think it’s a true testament that his works, even now, stand up and are easily accessible. I’m the first to admit that when you read something from a while ago—Dickens, for example—it feels old and it can be hard to get in to. Faulkner’s works, though, at least to me, read like they could have been written in the last decade. They hold up remarkably well.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

First, I would say keeping it interesting. I purposely kept Sea of Trees short—a novella—since there are only two characters, I didn’t want it to get repetitive and stale. I wanted to tell the story and make sure there was an emotional wallop involved with it…again, without it getting repetitive.  I also think, beyond keeping it short (and powerful), making sure I wasn’t too preachy about the topic of suicide was something I was constantly checking myself on. This book is not meant to give some sort of Rosetta stone-answer to why people commit suicide, but instead, study it, study what it means to not understand something that you are—voluntarily or otherwise—a part of…an outsider looking in. So that was a challenge as well.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep at it. Writing is not easy, no matter what anyone says. A story may come out of you easy, but then there’s always the submission process, which takes a toll on even the most seasoned veterans. But if you love writing, if you can’t imagine not doing it, then none of that matters. Also, I tend to hear nowadays more “haters” saying how writing has changed, blahblahblah. It has, sure, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get enjoyment out of it—so again, keep at it. Keep the haters at bay. Tell the stories you have to tell. Don’t let anyone stop you from doing that.

If you had to give yourself a “theme song” what would it be and why?

Anything by the fantastically talented Anthony Gonzalez (aka the musical act M83) would suit me fine.

What would be your 1st first question to the people of Antarctica?

Yes! Interesting tidbit: My Great (x6) Uncle was actually an Antarctic explorer, and there is a piece of land named after him—Ellsworth Land. The very first thing I’d ask would be: “Who wants to help me build the sweetest snow fort in the world?”

Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point?

Depends, really. I can see a point and while others would like this, and I am a pretty neat (read: not clean) person, but this is one of those things that I just don’t care about. It does make the room look nicer, sure, but more times than not…I let it slip by.

How can we purchase your book?

You can purchase Sea of Trees here

You can follow Robert James Russell on :

 Twitter  

 Facebook  

 Midwestern Gothic  

Website/Blog

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The Divine Pumpkin – Interview with Hemmie Martin


Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say.  ~Sharon O’Brien

Over the past couple of months, I have met many new authors, and I find doing these interviews very inspiring and informative.  So much energy and passion goes into writing, and I have learned, when I read these interviews, that it takes great determination from the day the process starts, the editing, and finally the book release.  Most author’s with new books rely on self-promotion as a tool to get their book out there.

Please welcome Hemmie Martin to Muse In The Valley with open arms. She just released her book The Divine Pumpkin published by Winter Goose Publishing  on May 16th.  Hemmie writes Contemporary Woman’s fiction, and is currently writing her second novel.

Using your initials H & M, describe yourself in 6 words.

Happy, human, habit-forming, musical, mis-trusting & mildly amusing.

In what part of our world do you live?

England

What do you do when not writing?

I love reading, cooking, listening to music and having coffee with friends.

Where does your creativity come from? 

I believe it comes from being an only child. I would make up games and stories to amuse myself and my dolls.

Can you tell us about any challenges getting you book published? 

Rejections are part of the process and most days I took them in my stride. Writing the synopsis and query letter also presented challenges in their own right. Working with an Editor was liberating, but the process of editing itself was challenging towards the end. I also experienced lack of confidence in myself and my work at times – and I still do!

Would you change anything about your experience?

I wouldn’t change a thing as everything I experienced helped to forge my identity as a writer – even the rejections! I would say that even my periodic lack of confidence ensures that I never become big-headed or over-confident about my abilities.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book? 

‘The Divine Pumpkin’ is about Forensic Nurse Paloma Parker who seems to have her life in order. She is a successful career woman who is intelligent and confident in her abilities, but she just can’t seem to have a meaningful romantic relationship. Her newest patient, an incarcerated juvenile named Ella, has a connection to her that is fully realized when Paloma’s family secret is revealed.  As Ella yearns for inner peace and Paloma searches for love, these two women may just hold the key to each other’s very different kinds of freedom.

Can you share a little of your current work with us, a snippet?

I am currently working on another novel, ‘Over You’, which follows a group of mis-matched people who all have some kind psychological trauma or pain to overcome. It tells of the support they can offer one another, but also the games people play to meet their own needs.

What inspired you to write ‘The Divine Pumpkin’?

I worked as a Forensic Nurse on a Youth Offending Team, which was a fascinating career. I came across many interesting and yet sad cases involving young people. I sometimes experienced internal conflict over how I felt about the offenders, as even though they’d committed offences, they were still young adolescents. ‘The Divine Pumpkin’ explores this area, although the work is fiction and does not relate to one particular offender.

What are your future projects? 

I already have a second novel with Winter Goose Publishing, called ‘Attic of the Mind’, which is due for publication in Feb 2013.

Do you have a “writing ritual”? 

I prefer to write once all my chores are completed, as I find working surrounded by mess doesn’t allow the words to flow. I drink plenty of coffee in the mornings, then earl grey tea in the afternoons. I like something to chew on as I type, preferable jelly beans. I find that my mind can be more alert mid afternoon, but as my daughter’s return from school and college, it’s not the most family friendly time to write. If there is too much noise around me I listen to music on my iPod. Currently I’m loving the Seahorses.

If we were to snoop in your ‘junk drawer’ what would we find? 

You’d find a box with the teeth my daughters ‘gave’ the tooth fairy. Lipsticks, all various shades of brown, skin care samples and empty bottles of perfume. I have a torch there in case of a power cut, and nail files as I like to keep my nails short. I don’t like the clicking sound long nails make on a keyboard.

Do you have anything you wish to share with aspiring authors? Any advice? 

I attend writing conferences and subscribed to two writing magazines which I read religiously. I enter writing competitions and pay for a critique of my work so I could see where I need to improve. I am also an avid reader. A writer needs to be a reader; to drink in the words of others to stimulate the mind – not to plagiarise!

How can we purchase your book? 

I am published by Winter Goose Publishing, and my book can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It is available in paperback and ebook.

Hemmie Martin spent most of her professional life as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France, and currently lives in Essex with her husband, two teenage daughters, one house rabbit, and two guinea pigs.

Carry On Dancing – Heather Grace Stewart


I am happy to introduce to you Heather Grace Stewart, Canadian Poet.  This week, I asked Heather if she would accept an interview for my blog and she graciously accepted.  Just last night Heather found out that her book Carry On Dancing is currently #2 in bestselling Canadian Poetry on Amazon.ca.  Congratulations!

About Heather Grace

Heather Grace Stewart is the author of two poetry collections, ‘Leap,’ and ‘Where the Butterflies Go,’ and two non-fiction books for youth. Her third collection, ‘Carry On Dancing,” is published by Winter Goose Publishing, which was made available in March 2012. A member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and the League of Canadian Poets, she lives with her family in Montreal, Canada.

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An interesting fact: 

“Heather wrote her first poem at age five, inspired by falling down a lot while trying to figure skate. At the Arena was published in her school newsletter. (ref:  Winter Goose Publishing)

The Interview

Describe yourself in 5 words

Bubbly, creative, passionate, adventurous, spirited

How did you come to live your passion?

It’s been a lifelong process, and I am still growing every day.

I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a young child. I loved writing poems and short stories for Mrs. Nash’s grade 2 class. I thought journalism was the route for me, and I did love working at a paper and for magazines, but I felt I wasn’t able to be as creative as I wanted to. In 1999 I decided to forge ahead on my own, with my freelance writing  and editing business, Graceful Publications. By working from home as a freelance journalist, I found I had more time to try creative writing projects on the side,  and that’s how my poetry books were published. Last year it became an official publishing company too, with the release of my first children’s book, The Groovy Granny, which I wrote with our then-five-year old daughter, who illustrated the poems. I still write and take photos for magazines, but I’m focusing on creating books right now, because it’s what I most love to do.

That was the technical answer to how it all came to be, but the process of deciding that I deserve to do what I love every day was a long one. I don’t think it was until my  friend and mentor died of a brain tumor when I was 24 that I realized, truly realized, that I wanted to live every day as if it were my last. Now, I can’t throw my caution with money or my own health or anything out the window, as if I may die tomorrow,  but I do try to treat each day like it could be my last. I try to leap at unique opportunities (like working for myself). I try to learn something new or try something new every day. I try to send friends snail mail and surprises and if they call, I call  right back so I won’t forget. If I catch myself losing my patience with my daughter, I’ll go apologize to her a few minutes later, so she knows parents aren’t perfect. I sometimes forget and slip back into taking days for granted, but it’s almost a way of life for me now, and I think it has made a great difference.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I love to play with my daughter and husband. We do a lot of gardening and flea-marketing in the summer, but we kind of hibernate in winter. We toboggan some times, but our daughter likes creative games like playing ‘spa’ – soaking my feet in a bowl of sea salts by the fire! – and I am just fine with that! In my own free time, I love to inline skate, take photos, scrapbook, cartoon, and I just love walking along a  beach,looking for pretty shells, sand dollars, and other tiny miracles.

Where does your creativity come from?

For me, it’s a bit like a natural water cycle. There’s the source, which is inside my heart and soul and mind, always ready to be tapped into, and a constantly flowing stream, but that can get interrupted by dams – like my own laziness or self doubt or just a really rotten week. But when  it’s flowing, the water or my creative work eventually moves up and is spread out into the clouds, until it all returns to the earth as rain, and, the cycle continues.

What book struck you as a child and why?

A friend gave me a hard cover copy of The Neverending Story for my 11th birthday. I remember pouring over it many times, especially up in my tree fort. I liked the story line -the boy was bullied but he managed to overcome that – and I loved how the real world was written in green ink and the fantasy world was in red ink. It was magical; and that’s how I think books should be.

What is the last book you absolutely couldn’t put down?

“Safe Haven” by Nicholas Sparks. When I am writing poetry, I try to stay away from poetry, because I want to do completely my own thing, so right now, I’m reading quick-read-fluff-fiction. I do enjoy autobiographies and there’s a series of books by physicist Michio Kaku about the physics of the future and the physics of parallel worlds that I’m finding so fascinating, but with my recent book release I’ve been in need of very easy, mentally easy you know? reads at night, to just unwind. Safe Haven was predictable in its characterization and how the  story was resolved – by now we all know what to expect from Sparks – but the plot was a little more mysterious and darker than his usual work. I liked that. I love studying his work, because I’d like to try writing a romance novel one day. One day!

Who inspires you?

My parents and grandparents inspire me – they’re just damned good  people. My daughter and husband make me laugh, and that always inspires my work. I’m inspired as a writer by so many poets ~ Frost, Thoreau, Sara Teasdale, Mary Oliver ~ but mainly by people who took/are taking brave stands: Terry Fox, Rosa Parks, our war veterans, the single parents of 911 babies. Their stories remind me not to be a wimp when I’m having troubles writing a piece, or achieving any kind of goal. I think of them and I say to myself, Suck it Up, Buttercup!

Can you tell us about your new book?

Carry On Dancing is out in bookstores and on Amazon.com and bn.com now! It’s a book of poetry that I wrote in the last year and a half. It’s a mixture of poems about the world we live in – the world of Twitter and war and tsunamis and money-hungry marketers – set against our private worlds – those of our loves, our loss, our partnerships – and how we can balance both worlds and carry on dancing, through it all.

Where did the inspiration for the book cover come from?

I took that shot on our daughter’s fifth birthday. We’d just made this colourful tutu for her together after school (it was really easy- from a kit! I’m a poet, not a seamstress) and as she put it on and started twirling around, I started snapping away. I have such happy memories from that day.

What are your future projects

I have a lot of projects in the works. I have an illustrator finishing up my children’s bed time story; I’m working on my next book of poems but I’m going to take my time at that one, and I’m thinking about writing a novel. I’m also open to opportunities that come my way.

5 things you would like to accomplish in the next 5 years.

Gosh, can we just do the next five minutes? I’m trying to live in the moment more. I do have goals, but having just realized the biggest one – getting a poetry book published by a publisher before I hit 40 (I’m 40 on April 11!) I don’t want to push myself. I’m in coasting mode: sit back, enjoy the ride and the view, and see what comes my way. I just want to be a good wife, mother, friend, daughter, and to continue writing, and living with passion.

Do you have anything you wish to share with aspiring writers? Any advice?

Write what you know. Write from your heart. Don’t over edit. Don’t second-guess yourself. Volunteer. Be persistent. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

How can we purchase  a copy of your Book?

Carry On Dancing is now available on Amazon.com, bn.com and signed copies are also available from me, via Paypal, by writing writer@hgrace.com

Click here to all my books on Amazon and my children’s book:  The Groovy Granny

This is my new web site :  http://heathergracestewart.me

This is my blog:   http://heathergracestewart.com

Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Kim!
Heather

Thank you Heather!  Such a pleasure getting to know you more.. and a fellow Montrealer to boot!  We should do coffee soon!  Congrats on being no 2 NOW!!  at Amazon.ca!!

You can also follow Heather Grace Stewart on Facebook 

Hope you enjoyed your stay,

Kim 


Magic In the Backyard – Kellie Elmore


 I am genuinely honored to introduce to you Kellie Elmore, Author of the up and coming book:  Magic In the Backyard.    This is not a dream interpretation, but an interview I had with her this past week.  Kellie and I met online about 2 years ago.  I have always been drawn to her website , which shares the same title as her book, for its beauty and prose.  So get comfortable, grab a cuppa, and enjoy the show!

Now available for PRE-ORDER on AMAZON

About Kellie

Kellie Elmore is a writer who knows no bounds. She believes self-expression is most beautiful in its pure, raw and unedited form. “No rules, just write” is her motto.

Kellie finds inspiration in nature and in the humble surroundings of her “backyard” – Southeast Tennessee. Through poetry and prose, Kellie writes freely about cherished and magical moments as well as tragic losses. Her goal is to take readers back, rekindle a memory or elicit a feeling. Charles Bukowski wrote, “If it doesn’t burst out of you, don’t do it.” Kellie agrees and states, “If it were not for my pen, I would explode! Writing is my happy pill.”  Join Kellie as she writes her way through life’s journey – magic in the backyard…

Magic in the Backyard by Kellie Elmore will be released in April of 2012 via Winter Goose Publishing.


The Interview

Here we go…

KL:  Describe yourself in 5 words.

KE:  Sensitive, Loving, Funny, Silly and Weird

KI:  What do you do when you are not writing?

KE:  I’m always writing! lol But I enjoy playing with photography. I have really been experimenting with it here lately and have actually snapped some pretty neat shots I am pretty proud of.

KL:  Where does your creativity come from?

KE:  That would be life in general. Everything around me gives me something to write about. Especially people. I love watching people, how they interact and try to figure out why they say or do certain things and then I build scenes and characters from what I come up with.

KL:  Can you tell us about any challenges getting your first book published?

KE:  Actually, there were not many challenges at all except getting up the courage to submit my work in the first place. (Rejection scares me.) But, once Winter Goose Publishing graciously accepted my work and we began the whole process, it has went pretty smoothly.

KL:  Would you change anything about your experience?

KE:  Oh, not at all. I am having a blast with all of this! Can’t you tell?

KL:  Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

KE:  My book is titled Magic in the Backyard and it consists of prose and poetry. It is made up of primarily stories about growing up here in East Tennessee and the experiences both emotional and spiritual, that I have lived. Inspired by love, loss, nature and a wellspring of memories, I have literally put my heart to paper for this collection.

KL:  Can you share a little of your current work with us?

KE:  Sure! One of my more recent pieces that has received quite the reviews by my readers is titled “My Porch Swing is a Time Machine” and it is a really great example of the kind of prose you will find in the book…

in the silence of the afternoon

when the sun is just laying down to rest

giving shadow to the pecan tree in the yard

that blows a sweet wave of

cool air across my shoulders

and the town is crawling home from

their business and loafering-

when all I hear is the grinding creak of

the chain of the swing against the hooks

and the evening songs of the mockingbirds

my porch swing becomes a time machine,

with arms of gentle breezes,

wrapping me in yesterday

back and forth between memories

and I let it carry me

to the times when I sat with her

rocking the day away, watching birds

and drinking sweet iced tea on

hot summer days, with not a care for

much of anything at all except

what we might have for supper

and like the slow drifting clouds,

time and those hungry, empty spaces

travel- passing by in fleeting wisps

just beyond the reach of my fingertips

KL:  Thank you!  I almost felt as if I was on that swing!

KL:  I am in love with the book cover. Tell us how you came to choose this particular image. What does it mean to you?

KE:  As much as I would love to, I cannot take credit for the cover. Jessica Kristie and the WGP graphics team are responsible for this beautiful piece of artwork! I was ecstatic when I saw it for the first time. the tire swing was such a perfect choice. And blended with the snow, it really sets the mood and hopefully will allow you to appreciate the warm words that await you inside.

KL:  What are your future projects?

KE:  I am currently working on a new poetry/prose manuscript. Magic in the Backyard puts you into moments, my memories and introduces you to who I have known and loved with nature as a backdrop. My new book will be more of a personal journey into who I am. How these people and memories have affected me. I can only relate the content to that of Sylvia Plath as it will ride along the lines of the darker side, just into the gray.

KL:  5 things you would like to accomplish in the next 5 years?

KE:  Nothing is ever set in stone for me. Never has been. Who I am changes often; my idea’s, my desires, my views, my journey so to pick out five specific things would just pull on the reins.

KL:  Do you have anything you wish to share with aspiring writers? Any advice?

KE:  Everyone who knows me, knows my answer to this. Just keep writing. Write about anything and everything, any chance you get. Let your pen replace your television. Get everything on paper – leave something behind – the most remembered things in history have been words.

KL:  Last but not least, how can we purchase your book when it comes out the first week of April?

KE:  You will be able to purchase Magic in the Backyard from Amazon.com, BN.com (Barnes & Noble) as well as the Barnes & Noble Booksellers and other major book retailers in your area beginning the first week of April. Direct links to the purchase pages will be posted on all of my social media sites as well as my blog, so be sure you are following me!

Links:

TWITTER GIVE AWAY!!! 

Website – kellieelmore.com
and of course you may always keep updated on my book along with all the other wonderful WGP books and authors by visiting the website at http://wintergoosepublishing.com

Good luck with your book Kellie!   Keep us up to date with your new projects!  

Kim