Tag Archives: authortips

Interview with Author Angelica Clyman

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’m a painter, an educator, a business owner, and a mom (among other things)! I’ve always loved writing poetry and prose, but as I seriously pursued the visual arts, I put my writing aside…or tried to. As much as I attempted to convince myself that I wasn’t a writer, I couldn’t ignore the drive. I finally gave in while I was pursuing my Master of Fine Arts degree and made writing a priority again. I realized I didn’t have to make such a drastic choice – I could chase all my varied dreams.

What inspired you to write your book?

Actually, this was a story I was carrying with me in one form or another since I was twelve years old. I had a wonderful English teacher in seventh grade who really encouraged journaling and creative writing, and this story had its earliest beginnings in a class writing prompt. It changed a lot along the way, discarding its original Tolkien-inspired backdrop and undead characters, and finding its way into a dystopian world with Angelic magic, but the main characters and overall plot emerged from this time in my adolescence.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope readers enjoy the beautifully desolate imagery and the slightly twisted love story, but on a deeper level, I hope the underlying philosophy comes through – that the answers we are all looking for truly come from within.

What drew you into this particular genre?

I feel like this story doesn’t neatly fit into one genre, but I’ve always been excited by the different forms fantasy can take. In my paintings, I often play with abandoned imagery, so a dystopian setting was natural for me.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

The pirates would probably be the most fun to hang out with, but I think I could learn a lot from Asher Serafin. He’s one of the characters that is the least like me, but I strive to be as steady and unwavering as he is. He has seen the world before and after an apocalypse, he’s basked in the glow of the divine, he’s seen extreme good and evil (and the uncomfortable gray areas too), and he’s survived things that would have destroyed most. If I was having a difficult time and needed some perspective, he would be the one to go to.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Goodreads and Facebook have been useful, and I’ve finally made an Instagram! Sometimes social media distracts me from writing, but I’m trying to stay connected.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write the story you want to read. There are times that I almost stopped myself, worrying about what others might think or concerned that the book wouldn’t be well received. But in the end, only you can write your story, and something written honestly is bound to resonate with someone else.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m currently working on the sequel to Dominion of the Star – the second book of the Descendants of the Fallen series – tentatively titled Resurrection of the Hierophant. It takes place seven years later, and it finds some of the characters much changed. I’m also working on the audiobook for Dominion of the Star, which is already proving to be an adventure!

About the author:

Angelica Clyman was raised on Catholicism and urban legends, fairy tales and 80s movies. Her love for fantasy books and poetry was put on hold while she pursued other passions, but she found her way back to words and stories after following the seemingly disparate paths of the visual arts, academia, yoga, martial arts, business, dance and magick. Angelica is an artist, educator, wife, and mother. “Dominion of the Star” is her first novel.




Interview with Author Philip M. Fishman

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I guess you could call me a late bloomer.  I didn’t write my first book until I was 69, which was a memoir of my brief teaching career, which began at age 65 .  My degree is in chemistry, and after graduating and receiving a ROTC commission, I  spent two years in the Army Chemical Corps. My final assignment was as an exec officer in a technical intelligence detachment where we analyzed potential enemy capabilities in chemical, biological and nuclear warfare.  For most of my tenure, I was stationed at Fort McClellan Alabama where I met my wife, who is from Anniston.  After discharge, I worked in various facets of the chemical industry for the next forty years first in technical service, and eventually Southeast Regional Sales Manager until an unplanned early retirement when I was 63.  For the next couple of years I was a consultant; and then I decided to try teaching.  When my wife suffered a stroke in 2008, I then entered my dual career of caregiver and writer.    

2) What inspired you to write your book? 

I have been a political junkie since childhood.  I’m active on FaceBook and most of my commentary involves politics.  When Trump was elected, I just felt compelled to write some type of critique.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?  

I see similarities to the rise of Hitler and also parallels with George Orwell’s 1984.  If not for his cult, we could probably dismiss the man, since after all, he’s in his seventies and won’t be around forever.  But, unfortunately,  I think the fascist movement that he has inspired will be around long after he departs.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?  

In my mind, one couldn’t find a more suitable character for a parody or a satire.  The fact that he contradicts himself continually is comical itself; but that his followers do the same thing makes it outrageously so.  I’ve pointed out that it would be disingenuous to be against everything he says or does, since he is on both sides of most issues from time to time. . 

5) As this book deals primarily with Donald Trump and his presidency, if you had the opportunity to ask him a question or confront him about one of the lies he told that you highlight in your book, what would it be and why? 

“Mr. President, you have been quoted as saying ‘ Promises are like predictions ; they might or might not come true.’”  If you don’t believe in your promises; why then should anyone else?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership? 

Facebook by far.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there? 

Ask yourself first why you want to write a book.  If it’s to be a legacy or strictly educational.  I would encourage you to go ahead.  If, on the other hand, it’s to make  a lot of money; I’m sorry to say that you are probably in for a big disappointment.  Unless you are well known or have something really unique to say; the chances of you’re making it big are very slim.  There are just too many books out there competing for market share.  If I haven’t dissuaded you; then at least think about what might attract a lot of interest.  Who are your prospective audience and why should they select your book over all the others in the same genre or about a given subject?

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon? 

As stated above, I am in a dual career of caregiver to my wife and writer.  My first and most important responsibility is the former.  As time permits, I will continue to write.  I have written two short stories in the genre of Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone”.  So far, I have not come up with any more.  If any of your readers would like to contribute to an anthology for a nominal negotiated fee, they can reach me at themoderatelibertarian@gmail.com

.   I’m also early into “”A Debate with an Atheist.  It’s too early to say if I will finish it.  And, then there may be some other idea that strikes my fancy and takes me in a new totally unexpected direction. 

About the Author

I have been fascinated by science since age five or six, when I got a telescope for a birthday. At that point I was going to be an astronomer, but that changed when I got my first chemistry set at about ten. 

B.A. Chemistry Indiana University 1961. 

First lieutenant Army Chemical Corps 1963. Last assignment – Executive officer technical intelligence detachment.

Retired in late 2002 after a successful career with a number of chemical companies including one that I started and a second that I co-founded in 1974 for recycling and disposal of waste chemicals.

After retirement became a consultant and then a teacher. 

Now in my fourth career as a writer.

My first book was a memoir of a brief teaching career that I began when I was 66. Title is “Teacher’s Gotta Dance”, available presently only on Kindle. Second book was a rebuttal to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”, titled “A Really Inconvenient Truth-The Case Against the Theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming”. My latest is a novel, titled “Secession- A Republic Reborn”. 

Could States Start Seceding from the Union? This Author Thinks It’s Possible

Also a podcast interview (not the same). The interview starts seven minutes or so into the podcast. 


Interview with Author Tomas Cudzis

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’m originally from Slovakia but live in the UK since 2005 with two year pause 2010-2012, when I bounced between the US and Slovakia.

After my parents divorced, my dad stayed in the Slovakia while my Mom went to live with me in the UK for few Years and then with my sister that is living in the US since 2004 to help her with household. She stayed there ever since with occasional trips to visit me or her sister in the Slovakia.

So now I do have 3 homes really. At hearth, I’m still Slovakian and even though I live in the UK for a long time now, I never applied to be UK citizen, still remaining Slovakian. On the other hand, I do go every second-ish year to visit my sister and mom that live in Las Vegas for my holidays and still plan to  move in the future into the US if possible. But truthfully, since I have been in the UK for all of my adult life now, UK feels like home the most. I’m very  glad and happy that I had the opportunity to be part, live, study and work in it, due to the UK being within the EU zone at the time (Slovakia is EU country). But now, since there is impending brexit, it could go all into a halt (since I’m still only Slovakian citizen). Currently, I’m about to finish my masters (in September) at Coventry University in Exercise and Sport Science, and will be looking at my options after.

To answer how I did get into writing…Well, it’s really down to a chance really. Ever since I have been growing up, I think I was very creative. There was always a story behind everything in my head. Listening to a music? I have seen in my head a story to it. An object of any kind? Instant story in my head. I have always seen it more like a movie.

Could visualize everything in my head and eventually, music became more prominent where there was always not just a story behind everything, but also a song that would reflect the emotion that I personally felt and fitted the narrative of the story in my head. The books are really a tribute to the Linkin Park music band songs to date. When I was a teenager still growing up,  I started to imagine a story where I was the hero (what a surprise), or rather a superhero like a Batman. It started all with the “In the End” song from Linking Park that I heard possibly in the radio. Then I got their whole first album: The hybrid theory and that created a whole anthology of stories (of my superhero) in my head based on that. Needless to say, their follow-up albums didn’t disappoint, regardless of them being always different in the style of music, adding more and more stories in my head with each new song. The only band that I can honestly say, that I do enjoy an cherish every single song they had made. All of them are “hits” for me. But naturally, with me growing up, the stories in my head changed into something slightly more realistic (slightly I admit), that didn’t necessarily involve a super-hero. I always wanted to be in a movie production industry, but never really got a chance. Either way, I was getting (way) older, and I felt that the stories in my head are slowly fading, vanishing even. I just thought, I should preserve them for myself, if nobody else, as I thought they were pretty cool.

After Chester (LP singer) had passed away, it prompted me into action before it was too late. Although the whole 4 books stories are largely changed from the original one (about the second, more realistic hero).  Mainly due to me either forgetting it, or that now I had to also connect it into logical order (one giant story made of pieces of my previous visions connected to the songs) that would include all of the LP’s songs. Also, because I tried to add controversy into it, things that would challenge the reader himself. As you know, in the books (or the one you did read) the characters express the way they think, to make it seem logical (or perhaps not). However, many times challenging if not controversial in their final decision and action. None of the characters are perfect, and more often contradictory rather than complimentary to each other. No-one is straight up good, or just plain bad with a perhaps exception on the truly evil (bad guys) side. Nothing is white, nor black. All is grey and the reader himself would be the judge to who is his “good” guy, the most reasonable, the most compassionate etc., no doubt different from reader to reader. Just like in real life.

We all have a bright and dark side. We all are liked, and certainly also disliked by someone else. It didn’t matter that we didn’t give them reason for it, or at least we’re not aware of it, it’s just the way life works. People are different, unique, sometimes with contradicting values, simply can’t please everyone. I’m glad that you liked my book, but I’m sure that for some others, the content may be too graphic, too controversial, too violent or simply not good enough quality. I accept that, but to finally hopefully and definitively answer your question how I did start my writing: I wanted to preserve what I still had in my head whilst giving a tribute to the People who perhaps influenced it the most – the Linking Park. My only worry was that since I am not a writer really, and I’m certain that I will not write for a long time after I finish the last 4th book (never say never), the books would not by a tribute by far, rather lacking the quality of content, uniqueness and excellence of the LP’s genius. Thank you for bringing me peace now, that I know at least ONE person did like it and appreciated it for what it is: an amateur work.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

Oh, I accidentally answered that I guess. Well, to preserve what little of the  stories I still had in my head, to give back a tribute to the people that largely influenced me, and certainly, it was also fun and satisfying to actually use and to present my creativity, to make it “come to life”. Before, no-one really knew. Nor my family or friends, what I could be capable of in terms of creativity. To them, my previous attempts to get into let’s call it “entertainment” industry, was just that – a talk with no real evidence of skill.

There is but one: one I did when I was still only 18y old back in 2004 as a diploma project.

It is rather basic in animation and graphics, but I did it alone on a already slightly dated computer at that time. The rendering process alone took 3 whole days and I had to borrow my friends PC’s hard drive so that I had enough space. I will include a link: Aliens attack earth vs 4 heroes animation
Aliens attack earth vs 4 heroes animationI am not a animator, i have wanted to be a games designer.I have made full concept game with storyboard and ever…

The character in the video with the yellow eyes is the original “superhero” me, the rest my closest friends at that time. Largely influenced by largely unknown “Guyver: the dark hero” movie. I hope that you did recognize the aliens, as of the actual alien’s franchise. Hope you enjoy that too.

Damn, I wish I had a chance to do what I would love to do, to be part of a movie productions.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope it will force the reader to think more. To try to understand other people actions and beliefs, not disregarding them instantly based purely on personal feelings, or opposing view on topic.

Although, I had not explored the possibility to give a reason and a story behind the “primary” bad guys. I do believe that we are not born evil, or good for that matter. Nature and nurture are both influencing how we will develop. I didn’t need the need since the “main” character is controversial and “dark” enough on his own, but his way of thinking is explained. Again, not that the reader could agree or disagree with his actions, but to try to understand why. Especially if you account for the previous two books and the first one where Tomas is only 12 Years old at the very beginning. Reader could read and perhaps understand (or not) why he does what he does, or how he did end up at this point (end of book 3). It is really complex.

Again, I hope it will make the reader be more emphatic (or critical) of everything around, and himself. Therefore, dare I say it?: grew as a person, taking away whatever he finds of value in the book, if any. At the very least, I hope he will enjoy reading it.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Oh boy, my sick head? This question really brought smile on my face, thank you.

Well, you know it is quite graphic in the action part, and “heavy” psychologically.

I am a person who hides his emotions (just like the main character), but is rich in experiencing them. The first book is largely reflecting this, as it is almost the real story of me until the main character starts street fights and then kills a person, of course. Many things have been changed for the purpose of a story (I moved into the UK not China for instance), but almost half of the book is the actual biography of me with added controversy in regards of “viewing” women, so that it fits the dark, imperfect character and the  lyrics of the songs of course. But to answer the question: I find it richer in emotions (especially if you listen to the dedicated song after), therefore better experience. Personally.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Violetta, I would ask her to “fix me”, please. But seriously, I would ask Peter to get me into the movie industry, I’m sure he could hack an account or two, or had straight up connections somewhere that would get me the ONE shot at “it”, that I always dreamed about.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I have virtually no exposure. You are the very first person showing any interest in my work so I must declare, that it will be your blog. Thank you! I do have FB, Patreon, Youtube, Twitter, Goodreads, Reddit and something called Wattpad, I even tried all kind of LP’s fan forums, but none really exposed my work to the world. Partly, due to me not spending all the time, attention and effort I possibly could have on it, I think and hope.

I did have to work and study (full time) at the same time for the last couple of years now, and I do try to live quite healthy lifestyle (gym, dieting), as I am Fitness specialist after all with many years of Personal training and healthy lifestyle consultancy experience, but this takes away a lot of time as well. The little “spare” free time that I have, I tend to use on relaxing (games, movies), but I still managed to produce 3 books along all of this going on in the last two Years. Admittingly, each book is almost twice in the length of the previous one. Mostly because I really wanted to start at the second that was just naturally shorter than the 3rd , but I didn’t want to start it like the star wars: with the 4th movie (story) first, then come back to explain why and how the hero got into that kind of situation, so I was very conservative with the first book.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

It is very hard to get exposure in this business if you are just starting up, or have no social media presence at all. But first you have to have a “worthy product”, before you should worry about that. Now, I’m not saying not to try to build audience (via social media optimally) before your book is actually finished, but If you have none yet, there is no point worrying if you’re not successful at gaining the audience. That is, if this is not your living of course. I mean, I’m not the right person to ask anyway I guess. I’m just amateur who doesn’t even plan to continue to write once the series are finished, and I never really cared that much about the monetary side of it. It would be nice if it could produce me some income, and it would be very much welcomed right now in my life as well, but it was never the purpose of it, nor did I count on it. In fact, I did at least spent money on a professional looking book covers without any returns as of yet. Don’t matter, I’m very happy with them and grateful to the talented artist who drew them. If I could, I buy illustrations from him as well, a professional editor, hire narrator for audio book and more. My patreon is about animating the books to life, perhaps one day I could afford it.

But back to the question: I think It would be wise to make sure that the book that you’re working on has something “to stand out” in it, something that would guarantee that your only real problem is the lack of exposure, not the quality.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

As mentioned before, after I finish (hopefully still this year) the last 4th book of the series, I don’t plan to write anymore. I do plan to invest into illustrations and an editor as soon as my finances would allow it. In most likely distant future after that, I am planning to animate the books. I feel that if this would be an animated series on the YouTube, it would be a lot more successful in terms of exposure than currently in the form of a books. It would also make me very happy that I did in fact (technically) made it into the entertainment industry after all. But that’s getting ahead of myself anyway. Just because you liked my book (one of them), it doesn’t necessarily mean other people will, therefore exposure isn’t all. You brought me hope that it may be “worth something” and thank you very much for that Anthony, so that I will continue best to my ability to try to get more exposure. Who knows, it may actually help somebody to “grew” as a person, or just to enjoy reading it, or hopefully bring even more fans for the LP band. They sure deserve it. Although, they’re massive in the US at minimum, and certainly don’t need my help to gain them more fans, any new fan that will find his way to them thanks to the tribute books would be also a massive success for me.
Anybody wants to show support, please like my FB page: Security Check Required

Interview with Author Al E. Boy

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into writing? 

I’d always entertained the idea of writing, but the sage, old advice about ‘writing what you know’ left me pondering what to write about. I made a few failed attempts many years ago, but always abandoned the projects when I realized the effort was going to be lacking.

What inspired you to write your book?

I’ve been a department store/mall ‘Santa’ since 1976, and the many stories and explanations I employed to answer children’s queries about Santa, Mrs. Claus, the North Pole, the elves, reindeer, Toy Shop, etc., had left me with a wealth of information to work with. Going back to what I wrote for Question #1, I now had something I knew and understood to write about. I created the reindeer character of Fawn to help facilitate combining all of my tales into a cohesive story.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The ‘Fawn’ stories have a strong focus on friendship and family ties. Love, loyalty, and being able to depend upon those you hold dear is a major theme running throughout the books. In addition to that, I think keeping the joy and wonder of all things Christmas alive, no matter one’s age, is also an underlying theme.

What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m an English and drama teacher. I truly enjoy putting smiles on children’s faces, and seeing their young eyes crinkle at the corners in amusement. Writing the trilogy, The Adventures of Fawn, I hoped to bring that same feeling to anyone and everyone reading the books.

What social media site has been most helpful in developing your readership?

I’m currently residing in Asia, and don’t use social media as much as my contemporaries apparently do. I’ve dabbled with book blog tours, Facebook groups, and various book review sites via the Internet. I can’t actually say which of these has proved most fruitful though.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting out authors out there?

First off, I’d suggest if any writer is thinking writing a book is simply a matter of quickly jotting some things down and making a pile of money—they’re dead wrong! People aren’t stupid, and they expect a certain degree of quality in the finished product, and if they don’t get it, bad reviews will understandably follow. Secondly, no writer’s work is flawless. Family and friends will oft-times tell an aspiring author their work is great, and offer little or no critical examination, or negative commentary. The author certainly likes to hear how good their work is…but it’s also very important to ascertain where the work falls short, where the plot holes are, where things could be improved upon. 

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books or projects on the horizon?

At present, The Adventures of Fawn is a trilogy. I wrote a fourth book, but wasn’t entirely pleased with it. It’s sitting in a file, waiting for me to return to it one day and make it a suitable companion to the other three books. Other than that, I recently ventured into more ‘adult fare’ and co-authored a thriller with a writer living in Cancun, Mexico. We’re currently looking for a publisher for it.

About the Author

Through almost 40 years as a Santa Claus, Al E. Boy developed quite a repertoire of tales to explain and answer the many questions children ask about Santa, the North Pole, his reindeer, and his friends, the elves.

It was this collection of tales which prompted him to begin writing The Adventures of Fawn. Through the young daughter of legendary reindeer Comet and Vixen, he’s been able to weave an exciting, colorful, imaginative world which will delight readers of all ages!

Mr. Boy not only hopes you enjoy these tales, but make reading them part of your Christmas traditions, as well.

Additional info: ‘Til the Last Snowflake Falls was awarded the Bronze Medal in Dan Poynter’s 2017 Global E-book Awards, is listed as ‘Recommended Reading’ with The US Review of Books, and was awarded an Honoree Medallion by indieB.R.A.G.. In addition, it has garnered a number of favorable reviews.

Links: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NRZO920



Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/The-Adventures-of-Fawn-740272912731782/

Guest Blog Post: What I’m Writing Now, Now That My Novel Is on the Shelves By Madeline Sharples

Hey everyone, Author Anthony Avina here. I’m honored today to be sharing with you this guest blog post from author Madeline Sharples, author of the recently reviewed book, Papa’s Shoes, in association with Women on Writing Tours. I hope you all will enjoy it and please make sure to comment on this post and share it as well. Enjoy everyone.

I didn’t think I had another book in me after I finished my novel, Papa’s Shoes. Writing that took a long time even though I didn’t work on it straight through all those nine years. But when I had finished the tenth revision, I felt my book writing days were over.

However, I started to get itchy to write something else when I started querying publishers – exactly what I did in 2010. I started my novel while I was querying publishers for my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.

I took one look in the mirror and realized from my aging face that I’m at that stage in my life when I have almost all of it to look back on. I just turned seventy-nine, and my mirror told me I looked it. 

So I thought I could write a memoir from an old wise woman’s approach to turning eighty. I could write about the secrets of staying married to the same man for forty-nine years and living in the same house for forty years. Really where have all those years gone? And really that brings up another big question – how much time do my husband and I have left anyway, and what are we doing to prepare for our last years? Or better yet, how we’re handling our lives right now as we age – each at a different paces. Yes, I decided another memoir or even two are a real possibility. The options are endless: how we’re still working at surviving the loss of our son in 1999, what we eat, how we sleep, my health and exercise program, about our travels, and what do we do all day at our age.

Another thing that triggered my decision to write this new memoir is the many people my age who are sick or have died. Just yesterday I heard about the death of a wonderful work colleague and friend much younger than me who died of a massive heart attack. With those facts in mind I decided to bring aging healthy into the book. I am very fit for my age. I workout every day and eat healthy. Why couldn’t I write a memoir about aging healthy? 

I hope readers will take a good look at themselves and what they are doing to live the rest of their lives successfully. I hope they will take my examples about what to do and what not to do as I age seriously. For example, I recently spent a few days with my cousin who is four years younger than I. She is out of shape and doesn’t eat very healthy. But while I was with her we took long, fast walks every day, and she’s still taking them even though I’m not with her. She says I was an inspiration to her. I hope to be an inspiration to all my readers. 

I also have to contend with the hardest parts to write: 1) the lasting effects of our older son’s suicide death in 1999, 2) my married son and daughter-in-law’s decision to live a married life without children, and 3) some regrets about decisions I’ve made over the years. I know all of us have life experiences that are hard to write and talk about. We also have regrets. Hopefully my writing about these things will engage my readers in thinking how they’ve lived their own lives and what they can improve on for their futures.

So far, I’ve written the first draft to this brief outline:


  1. What stage of life I am in right now
  2. A little looking back – maybe incorporate my reunion experiences of seeing old classmates and being in the neighborhoods where I grew up
  3. What I see when I look in the mirror
  4. My daily routine
  5. What I do to take care of myself
  6. How much I like my privacy and alone time
  7. My physical maladies
  8. My emotional life 
  9. My depression and suicidal thoughts
  10. I say I’m a writer, but what do I really write
  11. My writing routine
  12. My volunteer life: South Bay Cares and WriteGirl
  13. My married life
  14. How my son’s death affects my life now
  15. What about no grandchildren – how has that affected my relationship with my son and daughter-in-law
  16. How I spend my time
  17. Friends and relatives – how much I back away
  18. What I see for the future
  19. What’s next on my bucket list
  20. End of life directives
  21. My beliefs or lack thereof of an afterlife, and my lack of a spiritual life


  1. What advice I give to those heading my way


  1. How I feel about turning eighty and repairing for my imminent 

About the Book:  

Papa’s Shoes, a work of fiction about immigration with a feminist and historical bent. At 99,968 words, Papa’s Shoesis a stand-alone novel with series potential.

Ira Schuman is determined to move his family out of their Polish shtetl to the hope and opportunities he’s heard about in America. But along the way he faces the death of three of his four sons, a wife who does not have the same aspirations as his, and the birth of a daughter, Ava, conceived to make up for the loss of his boys. Ava grows up to be smart, beautiful, and very independent. 

Besides having a feisty relationship with her overly-protective mother, Ava falls for the college man who directs her high school senior class play. With the news that she wants to marry a non-Jewish man, Ira realizes that his plan to assimilate in the new world has backfired. Should the young couple marry, he must decide whether to banish his daughter from his family or welcome them with open arms. Even though he won’t attend their wedding, he makes her a pair a wedding shoes. In his mind, theshoes are simply a gift, not a peace offering. 

·        Print Length: 286 pages

·        Publisher: Aberdeen Bay (April 27, 2019)

·        Publication Date: April 27, 2019

·        ASIN: B07R7MQ6CM


“From an insightful storyteller, Papa’s Shoes, is a heartwarming story of courage and love. Author Madeline Sharples has created an epic journey with intriguing twists and surprises along the way. From days of old in Poland to cultural and economic realities in America, this is an awe-inspiring novel about families, generational history, and the incredible power of change. You truly won’t want to put it down!”

—D.A. Hickman, author of Ancients of the Earth: Poems of Time

“Author Madeline Sharples tells the intimate story of an American family, of immigration, tragedy, renewal, and love with grace and the delicate touch of a poet. There’s a raw kind of sweetness in this rich and epic saga.”

—David W. Berner, author of The Consequence of Stars and A Well-Respected Man

“An immigrant family’s braided history – its conflicts, losses, and secrets – come to life in Papa’s Shoes. With loving attention to detail, Madeline Sharples transports readers from a Polish shtetl to the Illinois town where Ira and Ruth settle, and shows us the intimate workings of their

marriage. This family’s triumphant journey to the American Midwest will inspire you long after

you’ve closed these pages.”

—Eleanor Vincent, author of Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story

A longer synopsis

On a cold and pouring night in Sokolow Poland, Ira Schuman carefully steps over the red mud puddles on the streets, sad, weary, and soaked. He dreads what he’ll find when he arrives at his two-room house in the Jewish section of the stetl. He envisions his mourning wife, Ruth, angry he wasn’t home when three of their four boys died during a flu epidemic.

As he enters the silence in what was once a home full of the loud voices and cries of little boys is deafening. However, he can’t wait to embrace Ruth, comfort her despite his own grief, and tell his surviving son about his love for America.

Ira’s goal is to become Americanized and bring what’s left of his family to a small town in Illinois, when he has enough money and an established business. Ruth doesn’t want to leave Poland and the graves of their three dead sons.

After their initial cold and difficult reunion, Ira keeps his promise to impregnate Ruth before he goes back to Illinois. Three years later he sends her the money to follow him to Illinois with their son age 10 and little girl, Ava, age three. Ruth agrees to leave Poland because of fears that the Russian army will recruit her son.

After a short stay in Chicago, the family moves to Danville IL, where Ira joins his brother in their shoe-making business. Though free of his long hair, beard and forelocks, and wearing modern clothes without the four-cornered yarmulke he threw into the Atlantic Ocean, Ira wants to bring a semblance of Orthodox Jewish life to his family and his new town. He creates a synagogue, hires a rabbi, and arranges the delivery of kosher meats. He also begins an affair with a chubby but curvy redheaded widow. Ruth, who smothers Ava and tries to keep her a little girl, has grown fatter and more unkempt, always wearing the same tight-fitting black dress she wore in Sokolow. She wants no part of Ira’s synagogue work.

Ruth keeps her hold on Ava, antagonizing her daughter. They argue continuously throughout Ava’s school years. Ava gets the lead in her senior high school play, and she and the director, a student at the local college, strike up a relationship – she tells her parents they are just friends when he picks her up to take her to school events.

Her brother, in law school in Chicago at nights and working in the textile business during the day, comes home and warns his parents that if they don’t move her away from this gentile, he will take her to Chicago himself. Ira agrees to let Ava go; Ruth does not. In the end her brother’s argument wins. Ava, ever respectful of her parents and out of her love for her brother, tells her director friend that she must leave. They are devastated but stay away from each other until the day before her departure.

In Chicago, Ava’s brother introduces her to a suitable man. He’s a bit of a milk toast, messy, and not very motivated in school or business, but he’s nice and attentive so she goes out with him for quite some time. Her rationale is that dating him will protect her from meeting someone she could actually fall for. She also experiences the modern ways of young women in the 1920s. She goes to dance halls and speakeasies, speaks flap talk, works as a seamstress, designs her own short and swingy dresses, and lives freely away from her mother. Her suitor proposes, but Ava says, “What a pretty little ring,” instead of yes.

After continued pleas from her director friend and her still undying love for him, Ava returns to Danville as a mature and determined young woman. She withstands a blow-up with her parents when she tells them she wants to marry her gentile friend. Ira throws her out.  That night he goes to the synagogue to say the mourner’s kadish for his daughter but decides to break up with the red-headed widow and mourn his relationship with her instead. To assuage his guilt, he makes her a pair of shoes that she wears at her wedding.

While Ava is sad not to have her family with her at her wedding, she is hopeful that her mother and father will come around. Her biggest fear is that she will never see her brother again, the man she loved and looked up to all her growing up years. However, she is happy with her decision to marry her love no matter how they feel.

About the Author

Madeline also co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994), co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, and wrote the poems for two photography books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Her poems have also appeared online and in print magazines, e.g., in the 2016 Porter Gulch Review, Yellow Chair’s In the Words of Womyn 2016 anthology, Story Circle Network’s journals and anthologies, the Best of Poetry Salon 2013-2018, and the Vine Leaves Literary Journal: a Collection of Vignettes from Across the Globe, 2017.  And her articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, Naturally Savvy, Aging Bodies, PsychAlive, Story Circle Network’s HerStories and One Woman’s Day blogs, and the Memoir Network blog. One of Madeline’s essays has also appeared in the My Gutsy Story Anthology by Sonia Marsh. 

Madeline also co-edited Volumes 1 and 2 of The Great American Poetry Show, a poetry anthology, and wrote the poems for two books of photography, The Emerging Goddess and. Besides having many poems published in print and online magazines, writes regularly for Naturally Savvy, and occasionally for PsychAlive, Open to Hope,and Journeys Through Grief and The Huffington Post.

Find Madeline Online:


Facebook page 1

Facebook page 2

Twitter page

———-Blog Tour Dates

Launch Day – June 3rd

Madeline Sharples launches her tour of “Papa’s Shoes” with an insightful interview and giveaway at the Muffin!

June 4th @ Coffee with Lacey

The lovely Lacey reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples and shares her review with readers at Coffee with Lacey. This is a blog stop and review readers won’t want to miss!


June 5th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

Lisa Haselton interviews well known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples about her latest novel “Papa’s Shoes” – the story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America. This insightful interview is one you won’t want to miss!


June 6th @ Beverley A. Baird

Beverley A. Baird shares her thoughts after reading the touching story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America – “Papa’sShoes” by Madeline Sharples is a book that is sure to please readers!


June 7th @ Linda Neas

Today’s guest author at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas is none other than well-known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples. Today, her guest post is titled “How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my

age.” Heart from Madeline and learn more about her latest novel “Papa’s Shoes”! 


June 12th @ Linda Neas

Last week, readers at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas read a guest post penned by Author Madeline Sharples and today, Linda will share her review of Madeline’s latest novel “Papa’s Shoes”. This is a blog stop you won’t want to bypass!


June 18th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker

Cathy Stucker interviews Madeline Sharples at Selling Books. Readers will flock to learn more about Sharples and her latest novel “Papa’sShoes”.


June 26th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro

Fellow author and memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her review of “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples. Don’t miss Linda’s insight into this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they move to America!


June 27th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole Pyles reviews the latest best selling novel “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples – readers will delight to hear what Nicole thinks of this crowd pleasing story of one Polish shoemaker and his family!


June 28th @ Deal Sharing Aunt / Vicki Brinius

Vicky Brinius reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples. Find out how she feels after reading this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.


July 2nd @Author Anthony Avina

Fellow author Anthony Avina reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples – this is a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settled in America.


July 2nd @ Amanda Sanders

Amanda of Amanda Diaries reviews Madeline Sharples latest novel “Papa’s Shoes” – read Amanda’s review and add this lovely story to your TBR pile today!


July 4th @ Author Anthony Avina

Readers at Anthony Avina’s blog will delight with today’s guest post and author interview with Madeline Sharples – learn more about her and her latest work!


July 5th @ Lisa Buske

Lisa Buske shares her review of “Papa’s Shoes” – the latest novel by Madeline Sharples and a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.


August 12th @ Kathleen Pooler’s Memoir Writer’s Journey

Readers and writers alike will want to stop by Memoir Writer’s Journey to hear from Kathleen Pooler and friend / fellow author Madeline Sharples as they discuss Madeline’s latest book “Papa’s Shoes”.


Interview with Author J.J. Angel

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Hello everyone!

My name is J.J. Angel and from in “the Boot of the South”, “the Sportsman’s Paradise” of the United States, aka Louisiana. I’ve been here all my life and I’m still here, now living in the state’s capital, Baton Rouge, for several years. I majored in Entertainment Technology (Film) and Digital Arts but surprisingly not Creative Writing. My first published title was, “Voices from the Bayou: Baton Rouge Student tackle Racism, Police Brutality and the Historic Flood”. It was an anthology of stories written by college students caught in the calamity of all these events within a single year. My specific piece titled, “Still Water Runs Deep,” is a deep rooted tale about my physical struggle as a flood victim blended with my own inner struggles drowning me within. The book is on Amazon and my particular piece is located in the flood chapters near the end. You’ll see J.J. Angel in there.

I started writing when I was still in early grade school. I used to be into drawing before I turned to writing. I get that from my mother who was an exceptional artist. My pen name is a part of her real name, Angela. My first and middle initial begin with the letter, “J”. So this is how I got into writing. I’m a small guy. I’ve always been little. That means as a kid I got teased a lot for not being as outgoing or athletic as the other boys. I wasn’t into sports at all. I stayed in the library during recess but outside that I used to be teased about everything. So what did I do? I started drawing stick figures but these were no ordinary stick figures. These were superhero stick figures. The kind who could fight off any bully and save the world! Somewhere down the road I started to create stories for these characters in my trusty notebook. The stories were episodic spanning ten pages back and front (20 pages an episode) using pen and paper. I think I had about four or five tablets. Each were a different color and represented a different arc of the series. I did this for a few years until I finished Jr. High. I felt writing stories like that were for little kids and since I was in High School, it was time to do “adult things”.  I dropped novel writing in favor of poetry because all the cool kids were writing poetry. I was such a follower during that time of my life. I did not want to be that oddball loser but ended up being the oddball loser who writes poetry. I even remember my Biology teacher asking what I wanted to do when I graduated. I told her I wanted to be a writer and she told me I was living a pipe dream. I kept my writing ability a secret in fear of being judged and when my senior year came, my writing dreams were over.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

What inspired me? Myself. I’m not being egotistical or anything. It had been seven years since I wrote a single damn thing. That was a weird period of my life but that’s another story for another book. Anyways, one day while I was moving I found an old box. Before I threw it away I decided to look through it and guess what I found? One of my old Lost Fighter tablets from grade school. It was a bit worn but the stories were still there in glorious ink. I stopped what I was doing and decided to read through it after all these years. My God! I had run-on sentences as long as anacondas. However, there was something else there. I had a great imagination and whole lot of heart. This is what I loved to do. This is what I really wanted to do. Take people on my visual journey and inspire them to do the same. What happened to the kid who had a big imagination and so much hope? I had given up on him. I was afraid of the ridicule for being a boring useless writer. It was me being bullied again. How can I create such fantastical superheroes or noble warriors who stand against the forces of evil when I can’t even stand against my own self-doubt? That was moment I realized what I had been running from and what I needed to do. That was the first day I picked up my laptop and pressed NEW DOCUMENT in Word.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Oh Lord. Well, I was telling my writing colleagues Potentia is a deep story under all the science fantasy lip gloss it has on. I want readers to look at it with an open heart and mind. Potentia is Latin. It means force, power or political authority. There are points in the book where I play around with that meaning. I like the idea of hope and believing in yourself, even when things look opposite of that. Karissa, Rupert, and Amare have periods of courage despite the odds they are up against. Even though she was injured, Karissa still made herself continue to the other side. She doesn’t just give up and fall down waiting for her attacker. She keeps on going and the crystal reacts to that emotion! Same for Rupert and Amare. These young adults are going up against supreme cosmic entities who could rip them to pieces. These are my main “bullies” (for now…*wink*) of the Universe. Despite this, Rupert and Amare show great courage at times. First, you need to believe in yourself. Second, you need to search deep within yourself. Third, you need to find that spark. Last, you need to bring that spark to life. 

When the story says the boys discovered Potentia, it’s saying they discovered the power (authority) residing deep within them and once they accepted it and believed in it, they could create something spectacular. Something powerful enough to repel the invasive shadow-like creatures trying to eclipse them.

I want readers to not only note the hopeful and brave moments, but see the themes of  acceptance. This book has a lot of diversity in it. Rupert is German-American and Amare is African-American. They have a tight knit friendship despite their racial backgrounds and physical differences. I want readers to see the strong levels of friendship here. They are like brothers. A strong brotherhood. Teamwork does make the dream work! Even Ya’asha is confused by how the two boys can fuse powers together so easily. We humans know how it’s done though! Plus one for humankind! There is also an LGBT character mentioned in the story. So I try to be as inclusive as possible.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I have a really big imagination! I’ve said that too many time now. I love the unknown and space is full of it. Even so, there were still some other experiences that brought me into this genre, both real and fictional. In fiction, I loved R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series as a kid. It’s what got me into horror fiction for young adults. I’m a big fan of Ridley Scott as well. I love his movies, Alien and Legend. Legend was a dark fantasy and is one of my all-time favorite films still to this day. There is something magical about that movie that fueled my imagination as a kid.

Now for the realistic side. As a child, I know two instances where I thought I saw dark figures or shadow people. They scared the hell out of me but made me interested in the paranormal/supernatural. Speculative Fiction is a beautiful genre and Science Fantasy has the power to captivate the entire world. I love it!

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I was originally going to pick Ya’asha for this but he’s too much of a smart-ass to sit down and answer questions cooperatively so I think I’ll go with Karissa. “How does it feel going from a character that dies in Chapter 4 of the original draft to one of the central protagonists in the final draft?”  

I want to see if she will glare at me. Perhaps, death might have been more desirable than what’s she going through currently? I also like cats and she hates them.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I want to say it’s a tie between Facebook and Instagram. Thought, I think Instagram is more on the visual side of Potentia. Facebook might be one since I started with it, but Instagram is catching up since I put way more content on it now. My Twitter isn’t too hot right now but hopefully people will look in my direction and be like, “This little guy has created a story that has many layers beneath it. I’ve read it and found some things from incorporating many systems of beliefs within it.You have to be an active protagonist while reading and search for hidden meanings.” (Hint: One of the characters wakes up after a nightmare and sees 5:55 on the clock.  (According to numerology, this combination means huge changes are on the way! And boy are they! *grins*)

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?


8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m currently going over Potentia The Shadows sequels, Tales of Potentia: the Awakening and Tales of Potentia: The Clash. First drafts are complete for both of these. I have two or three more after those. Legacy, Rebirth and War.

Stepping outside the world of Potenita, I’m working on a fantasy story called, “Arabian Rhapsody”. It’s supposed to be a novella but I have too much going on with the mythological monsters, faeries and other things. It’s getting a little stuffy right now. We’ll see how that one develops.

I have a horror I’m working on which is turning out to be a creature-feature splatter-fest. Screams!!

I also have a chapbook on Amazon called, “Poetic Vibrations”. You can check that out as well.

Well, that’s it for me, for now.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful day!

About the Author

J.J. Angel, also know by his other pseudonym J.J. Angelus, is an energetic, humorous, but equally focused creative author who enjoys immersing his ideas and creating imaginary worlds within the realms of science fiction, fantasy, and some horror. He is a former Entertainment Tech Film Major of Baton Rouge Community College and a recipient of the Unsung Hero Award for his contribution towards the anthology, “Voices from the Bayou”, with emotional and thought provoking narrative, “Still Water Runs Deep”. 

When he isn’t writing, JJ enjoys creature features, evening walks by the river, poetry, volunteering, and digital art and animation.

Website:  https://www.talesofpotentia.com

Facebook: Facebook profile

Instagram (regular): @powerthenovel

Instagram (Music): @jjs_soundscapes

Twitter: @powerthenovel

Interview with Author D. Elizabeth Ayers

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Well, I was a lonely kid, and like most lonely kids growing up in the 70s and 80s, I read a lot and watched a disgusting amount of television and movies. So, my mind was always focused on how stories unfold. I also had geeky, well-educated parents who knew things about storytelling and myth. They would point out things like foreshadowing and symbolism in stories that made me incredibly curious to find out more. Strangely, I started off my creative life in the theatre and did a lot of acting from the age of twelve to the age of about thirty. Even though I might not ever act again, the theatre gave me a great background in character development and scene building.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I was in England in 2003 and one of the places I visited was Bath. In the circus, (I’ve attached a link to a Wikipedia image for your reference), there is a beautiful grassy area and a very small copse of trees. Apparently, the architect who designed it believed Bath was the center of druid activity and designed the King’s Circus with the measurements of Stonehenge in mind. After visiting the Jane Austen House in the morning, I had a little picnic snack under those trees and I communed with the trees and, I think, druids. I conceptualized a ghost story that involved a body snatching element. This initial idea took a little time to marinate, and I wrote some ideas out that never came to be. Ultimately, it became This Pale Mortal Shell.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

There are two takeaways I hope will come across. The first being, don’t take anything for granted. It can be snatched away from you at any moment, and even if you get a second chance, you might still lose it. Live in the moment and make the most of what you’ve got! The second is, I hope readers understand my view on right action, especially when you’re using magic. I’m afraid to say too much here without spoiling it for future readers, but I’ll always advise people to be careful with the power they yield!

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

 One thing was that when I was a kid, there was not a lot in the way of kids’ books and there was absolutely no YA, so I had read everything there was to read by the time I was ten, and I graduated to adult fiction. I think my mom was just glad that I was reading voraciously, so she didn’t monitor the material much. I started reading a lot of ghost stories and Edgar Allen Poe. Then I graduated to Stephen King when I was about eleven. I guess you could say I was kind of a dark kid. There were also things happening in my personal life that drew me to the paranormal and magic. In addition, I was the kind of kid who often paired off my plush toys and dolls because I didn’t want anyone to be alone, so I guess I was a romantic kid as well. I started reading paranormal romance a lot after I had the idea for This Pale Mortal Shell just to get a sense of what was out there, and I absolutely fell in love with the genre. Up until then, I had only experimented with historical fiction/romance.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I’m actually really having a hard time answering that one because there will be major spoilers! So, I don’t know if you have a protocol for dealing with that. The character that was probably the hardest to write is represented in three different characters in the story. The Young Rocker, the Goddess, and the Omnipresent Voice in Tristan’s limbo are all representatives of what I like to call the Universal Consciousness and boy do I have some questions for that one! One would be “Do people really get what’s coming to them, good or bad?” “Does everything really happen for a reason?” is another question. I like to believe that the answer to both of those questions is yes, but I’m often uncertain when really crappy things happen to undeserving people and vice versa. I won’t get all political as a writer yet, but I think you all can imagine what I mean.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

To be honest, I’m still feeling my way around the social media world. I’m what some people might call a digital immigrant, which is a person who uses technology but wasn’t born into it. I have been playing around with the biggies, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but I’m also working on my profiles on Goodreads and Amazon. At the moment, I’m getting a lot more feedback/connections on Twitter, and I like it a lot. I do sometimes hate being limited to 280 characters, though!

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

First and foremost, you must do two things pretty much every day, even you only spend an hour a day doing them: Read and write! And persevere! Not many writers are amazing right out of the gate. I think Mark Twain was one of the few, so be ready to kill your darlings and take the hard feedback when you get it. But also, stick to your guns if you really believe you are right and it’s not just your ego talking. You should also believe that you can get better every day and tell the story that people want to read if you keep working at it.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m so glad you asked! I have the first in a series coming out this fall. The series is called The Selkie Chronicles, and the first of the series is called Only Skin Deep.

Here’s a little teaser for that series:

The selkie. Those hot-blooded, sea-dwelling creatures on which the phrase “love ‘em and leave ‘em” was coined. Unfortunately, in the twenty-first century, they’re not so focused on the seduction of unwitting but oh-so-willing humans even though it sure is fun once in a while. These days, they spend more time building up their own societies and domains and living within the constraints of their politics. Very few people even remember they exist, and a select few humans have been chosen for mutually beneficial partnerships to protect the selkie race from discovery. Occasionally, these relationships have tragic outcomes, but every once upon a time, the right human and the right selkie can set each other free.

And the blurb for the first of the series:

Sloane’s finally met her tall, dark, and handsome. The only problem is, sometimes he’s chubby, spotty, and smells of herring. But hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

Sloane is a disowned heiress turned waitress living in a small seaside town in west Scotland. Llyr is a selkie prince living in a kingdom thousands of feet under the sea and hundreds of miles away. It seems unlikely that the two could even meet let alone fall in love. But when she inadvertently calls him, he is able to take human form and journey to the surface.

Sloane and Llyr must battle disapproving fathers, wicked stepmothers and other deadly enemies to make their relationship work. Along the way they discover secret treasure, unravel the truth about the past, and overcome the sins of a father and a mother. Against all odds, they find a way to bridge the gap between humans and selkies, and together they break the ancient curse which threatens to keep them apart.





And I also have a YouTube channel though it’s pretty thin at the moment. I like to have soundtracks for my novels which are in the playlists I have there. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC60_6pemqWIY3unPyAGgaTQ?view_as=subscriber

Interview with Author Sean Robbins

1- Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

“Who am I? I am Spiderman.”

Well, not really, but this should tell you all you need to know about me and my writing style.

I’m a huge Marvel (plus Game of ThronesStar Trek AND Star Wars) fan, which shows since my novel is loaded with pop culture references. If you are a sci-fi fan (I assume that you are, otherwise what are you doing here?) you will enjoy them tremendously. I even went full Deadpool in my first draft and broke the fourth wall multiple times, until my editor told it was distracting and kept taking her out of the moment. Shame. Those fourth-wall breaks were hilarious. Still, I can guarantee a few laugh-out-loud moments. Case in point: The “good” aliens in my novel are a race of pranksters, whose main goal in life is pulling other people’s legs (They have four legs, hence the slight change in the idiom). My favorite author is Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files), which is probably how I ended up writing in a first-person POV with the same light-hearted, funny tone as he does. The fact that my MC’s name is Jim is purely coincidental though.

I am a university/college level English teacher, and including Canada, I have lived and worked in five different countries. I have met people from all around the world. Plus, my parents are from a different background, and so is my wife. As a result, diversity has become a major theme in my novel. My characters look like the bridge crew from Star Trek. One of my female characters even impersonated Uhura once, albeit posthumously.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I have got purely obsessional OCD. What this means is a thought enters my mind—usually something negative—and doesn’t leave. I end up having to think about it 5000 times a day, and once this starts, my life is ruined for a week, two weeks, a month, or six months. I’d tried a lot of different ways to get rid of this problem: therapy, medication, meditation… Nothing ever worked, until I read an article that said the people who had this problem had an overly active imagination, and it would help if they channeled it into something productive, like writing.

I’d always wanted to be a writer. This is literally a childhood dream, one of those you give up when you grow up. I had the story of The Crimson Deathbringer in my mind for years (even started writing it and stopped a few times). When I read that article, I was going through a tough time in my marriage (fighting with your wife is no fun, even for sane people), and my mind had gone into its life-destroying over-drive, so I told myself, “Well, you’ve tried everything else, let’s give this a shot.”

And then a miracle happened.

My mind put the same energy it used to put into producing BS and making my life miserable into coming up with stories. Ideas would come to me fast and furious, and I had to stop whatever I was doing several times a day to write them down. I’ve been OCD-free since then (I know, I sound like a recovering alcoholic). When TCD (cool, eh?) was finished, it took my out-of-control brain half a day to plan my second novel, which is about a nerdy scientist and a sexy female mercenary who use a time machine to defeat an alien invasion.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

To be perfectly honest, I’m not trying to send a message. All I want is to entertain my readers. If they are so absorbed in my story that they forget about real life and its problems (and hopefully laugh a few times) my job is done. That said, being a Star Trek fan, I hope my book presents the same themes of optimism and diversity as OST does.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I think I was 9 when I watched the first Star Wars movie, and I never looked back. I’ve been a big sci-fi/space opera fan ever since, so it’s only natural that I write the same genre.  

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I’d love to ask Jim how he manages to shrug off the most terrible things a human might suffer using nothing but humor!

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

My publisher, Creativia, has a FB page called Creativia Street Team. Members of this group helped a lot.

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7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Besides the one mentioned in question 2, I’ve started planning for TCD’s sequels.

Twitter is @seanrobins300

Interview with Author Carol Es

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I started writing around the age of 12. I’d been quite illiterate to begin with because I missed out on a lot of schooling. I wrote indecipherable poetry filled with angst—stream-of-consciousness diary entries about wanting to get away from my abusive situation. It wasn’t until I started reading my favorite writers before I’d make any attempt at any real writing. I never wrote full time because I also played the drums and painted. I was most serious about music at the very start.   

I fell in love with authors like JD Salinger, Tom Robbins, and Charles Bukowski and buried my nose in everything they wrote. Salinger’s Nine Stories made me want to be a short story writer. Then, I read Bukowski’s Ham on Rye and that truly changed my life forever. He gave me a lot of freedom to be myself as an artist. Then came John Fante, He’s now just about my favorite writer.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I always knew I’d write this book. I just didn’t know if I’d ever publish it. Not as nonfiction anyway. I’ve always written autobiographical fiction and wrote a lot of dark comedy stories about my family. I figured I’d put them together as a collection or something, but I didn’t think I could string them into one long book. I didn’t believe in myself enough. I’d tried to write whole novels in the past and failed. Eventually, I wanted to try again. And again. And again. It took me almost a decade to finish this book, and as the years went on, Shrapnel took several different directions.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I really don’t have a direct intention for what my readers should or shouldn’t take away. This is the same philosophy I have with putting any of my art out on display. The work has two lives; the one it’s lived with me during its process, then the life it lives once it’s completed. It now lives with the audience and becomes their personal, individual experience. I can only hope people can identify with it on some level.

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Interestingly enough, I’d mostly been inspired by fictional stories that were written in a nonfiction, first-person format, such as Alice Walker’s The Color PurplePush by Sapphire, Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Alison, and Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. Dorothy Allison’s book is based on her real life and I originally wanted to take this approach, but my partner, Michael Phillips (also a writer), got me to change it to nonfiction. He got me to see how much more powerful it could be. I didn’t think anyone would believe it, and frankly I was fearful of putting my story out there. Now I’m grateful for his encouragement because it’s made me a stronger person.

5) There were quite a few different sides to your story that were heartfelt, emotional and powerful enough to convey your struggle to the reader. In regards to your experience within Scientology, if you could sit down and ask any of the leaders of the group a question or confront them in any way, what would you want to say to them?

I do not think anything I could ask or say to the leader, David Miscavage, that would ultimately change anything. As far as I’m concerned, and as the public continues to hear evidence of the stories regarding his abuse and destruction, he is a megalomaniac with blinders on. He has no conscious when making his ends meet, whatever they may be. Challenging his motives would only make things worse for his enemies and Scientologists alike.

Having once been a devout Scientologist, I’d rather address Scientologists in general and ask that they try to consult their gut. I would tell them that people that speak out against religions that abuse their members are not evil. Cutting off a dialogue with them doesn’t fix the situation. Disconnecting from people labeled “suppressive” only further isolates your mind to stick with like-minded Scientology kin. How will you find understanding with the rest of the world that way? And are you really the one who controls your communication?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Keeping a blog is key, as well as slowly adding to my mailing list. I put out a newsletter a few times a year and am careful not to “spam” my list with too many superfluous email blasts. I make sure I announce my blog posts on all my social media outlets. Facebook and ello are my most successful.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

You can always get better at writing by reading. Read a lot and a wide range of genre. Don’t give up, but don’t try too hard either. Try not to listen to other people’s opinions—that may possibly kill the best thing about your style and voice. Just be mindful of it anyway, because not everyone knows what they’re talking about. Strunk & White’s Elements of Style is almost the only thing you’ll ever need. But if you like spending $100K on college, do what you like.

The most important piece of advice I have is: despite rejection at seemingly every turn, you can do this. We are all stronger than we think.

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On a separate note, if you were to be able to speak to anyone who has questioned the practices of Scientology or has been approached to possibly join the group, what would you want to say to them or what advice would you want to give them based on your own experiences? 

I feel I’ve pretty much answered this and choose not to dig a deeper hole. But I would refer current members of Scientologists to Dr. Robert J. Lifton’s Eight Criteria to reevaluate their situation.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Right now I am finishing up new artwork for my big book launch and solo exhibit at the gallery that represents me in Los Angeles, Craig Krull Gallery. The show opens Saturday April 13th, 2019 at 4pm with a reading and a short Q&A. I will then sign books until the artist’s reception that goes from 5-8pm. The show runs until May 25.

I’m also putting the finishing touches on the special lettered edition of Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley, which is limited to 30 copies only. It is hard-bound in linen and comes with original artwork inside.

I plan to take a short hiatus over the summer and begin working on a book of short stories in the fall. I’d like to publish them with watercolor illustrations by 2020. 

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Author Bio

Carol Es

Carol Es is a self-taught artist, writer, and musician born in Los Angeles. Using a wide variety of media, she is known for creating personal narratives that transform a broken history into a positive resolution. Her paintings, drawings, installations, videos, and books have been exhibited nationwide in venues such as Riverside Art Museum, Torrance Art Museum, Lancaster Museum of Art and History, and Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles. Some of her works can be found in the collections at the Getty and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Her collaborative film was also featured in the 2015 Jerusalem Biennale. 

Awarded many honors, including several grants from the National Arts and Disability Center and California Arts Council, she is a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation, a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship, and the Wynn Newhouse Award. She has written articles of art critique for the Huffington Post and Coagula Art Journal, as well as having poetry published with small presses. She also received a writing grant from Asylum-Arts—a Global Network for Jewish Culture.

Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley


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