Writing Process Blog Tour

Today we would like to say thank you to Chantal Bellehumeur, a very talented Canadian writer we have had the honor to work with several times this year. Chantal invited us to participate in a Writing Process Blog Tour. This is our first ever, and we are very excited to take part.

Here are the rules for all of you who would like to participate in this blog tour

Rules:
1. Introduce who referred the blog tour to you.
2. Answer the following four questions:

1) What am I working on?

2) How does my work differ from others in the genre?

3) Why do I write what I do?

4) How does my writing process work?

3. Introduce the people you are passing this on to who will then post on their blogs.

We met Chantal through Facebook. She joined us on our women writer’s anthology Aspiring to Inspire, a collection of works by women writers that stayed at the Smashwords #1 slot in its genre for over two months. She has also worked with us on Words of Fire and Ice, Summer Shorts II: Best Kept Secrets, and our upcoming It’s About Living, our 2014 memoir anthology. Chantal is a very talented mulit-genre author with numerous books available, including her recent memoir My Memoir of Motherhood, her feel-good book Not Alone, and Emily- A Compilation of Short Stories. You can find out more about her by visiting her website: http://author-chantal-bellehumeur.webnode.com/. You can also check her out on our Author Page.

Currently we are working on our memoir collection due out next month. This is turning into a really great collection, and we are really excited to see it come together. Submissions end on August 25, 2014, so there is still time to get a piece in for consideration if anyone is interested.

As far as how our anthologies differ from other anthologies, the best way to think about this would be in our overall approach. We feel that these collections are a group effort and that every writer is vital to the book’s success. We hope to help each writer involved by introducing new readers to new authors. We have a good many authors who write with us, and we are always looking for new authors to help. We offer unlimited e-book editions of the collection to all writers included via Smashwords to share with whomever they would like. This is really different from other places.

We create our anthologies for the express purpose of helping other writers. We have found that when authors team up and work together big things can happen. Five of our seven anthologies have hit #1 on Smashwords, and the other two have made it to the top ten. That is an amazing accomplishment, and each writer involved deserves the credit. Way to go!

When we plan a collection, we think of what we would like to incorporate. We focus on how we can involve and connect the collection without narrowing our focus to one set topic. We also try to find something that speaks to the heart.

 

We’ll be passing this on to April J. Durham at her personal blog: http://bewilderedwriter.blogspot.com. April formats and designs covers for our collections and is a writer with a recent book out.

Second, we will pass this on to Patrick Durham at http://patrickshanedurham.blogspot.com/. Patrick has several projects he is working on as well.

We will also pass this along to Mellissa Black, a writer who has worked with us numerous times–enough to be considered a “house writer.”  http://terminalsunshine.com/

Please feel free to join in by posting a link to our blog and following the rules laid out above. We hope you’ll join us!

Best wishes and God bless,

The Durhams

Our August Featured Author-Connie Langhorst

We are pleased to introduce Connie Langhorst as our Featured Author for the month of August. Connie’s essay, “The Age of Boxing and Bedwetting,” appeared in Aspiring to Inspire, an anthology of women writers that was released by Durham Editing and E-books in April 2014. Her memoir, Finding Happy, was published by AuthorHouse in 2006. Langhorst’s works have appeared in various publications and literary journals, including The Scarab and Eckerd Review. Her essay, “Lost and Found,” is slated to appear in the August issue of Animal, A Beast of a Literary Magazine, and an essay she wrote on teaching in a nontraditional setting is scheduled to appear in a pedagogy textbook (pending release by an international publisher in 2015).

Connie while visiting the Grand Canyon.

Connie while visiting the Grand Canyon.

Connie is a military veteran and currently resides in Tierra Verde, Florida. In addition to teaching and writing, Connie works as a realtor and has served the Pinellas Realtor Organization as a blogger and feature writer. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing from the Red Earth Low-Residency Creative Writing Program at Oklahoma City University in January 2014 and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Eckerd College in 2009. Connie has twice been invited to attend Writers in Paradise hosted by Dennis Lehane (author of Mystic River). She is a member of/affiliated with Anarchist Writers Group of St. Petersburg at Eckerd College, Writers in Paradise Alumni Group, WordSmitten, Binders Full of Women, and is a Red Earth MFA in Creative Writing Alumni.

We were able to catch up with Connie this past month and talk with her about her personal inspirations for writing, her memoir, and how a dog can make a good lumbar pillow.

When did you first start writing?

In junior high school, I began submitting greeting card ideas, written by hand on index cards, to Gibson Greeting Card Company (now American Greeting). To my surprise; checks, in payment for my ideas, began arriving. For this, I was smitten (or maybe bitten by the writing bug).

Where did you grow up, and how did it influence your writing?

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. This was my home from 1955 to 2002. I was raised by my mother and maternal grandparents on the “West Side” of town, which means something to Cincinnatians.

Where do you write? Describe this area for us.

I write in my office, usually when I have time alone. I put my cellphone on mute for an hour or two (that is, after all, what voicemail is for). The space is organized. There is a big window to let my thoughts escape. I am surrounded by style books and, for inspiration, some of my favorite books. I keep the lighting subdued. To be truly inspired, however, our dog has to be “in position,” stretched out on a pillow behind my back on my desk chair. (He does not realize it, but he provides excellent lumbar support.)

Connie in her writing area holding her copy of Aspiring to Inspire.

Connie in her writing area holding her copy of Aspiring to Inspire.

When you are not writing, how do you spend your time?

My husband and I have the good fortune to live in a place that we refer to as “paradise found.” Tierra Verde is an island at the southernmost tip of Pinellas County, Florida. The community has a Key West vibe and is home to approximately 5,000 year-round and seasonal residents. We enjoy Tampa Bay sunrises to the east and Gulf of Mexico sunsets to the West. Tierra Verde is home to historic and pristine Ft. De Soto Park. Surrounded by white sand beaches, the park represents Mother Nature in all of her divine glory. My husband and I enjoy biking, kayaking, walking, bird watching, sunning, and sailing. We share a passion for photography, reading, and traveling. Aside from writing, I serve the South Gulf Beaches as a Realtor with Wave Realty of Tampa Bay and am a substitute adjunct professor at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School. A military veteran, I am a member of Veterans of Southern Pinellas County and serve as a member of the board of directors for Media Heritage, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of big band era music and history.

A photo Connie took going over the Tierra Verde Bridge at sunset.

A photo Connie took going over the Tierra Verde Bridge at sunset.

What inspires you to get out of bed each morning?

My husband, Thomas, and our shelter-adopted miniature Dachshund, Moby, tend to rally me with patronizing whines (intended to lure me out of bed to fetch breakfast). It is, however, great to wake up and see their faces. They are, in equal measure, my inspiration. Thanks to them, most days start with a laugh. Who could ask for more?

Thomas and Moby watching Dog TV. Connie says she doesn't know who is enjoying this more.

Thomas and Moby watching Dog TV. Connie says she doesn’t know who is enjoying this more.

What are your five favorite books, and why?

Wow. I am not sure that I can answer this. This question is akin to asking a mother to pick her favorite child! I became interested in words on the page and was inspired by children’s literature at an early age, so I have to start with two of Maurice Sendak’s books, Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen. I absolutely adore Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man. Essays and stories by Jamaica Kincaid, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, and Barbara Kingsolver, as well as Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, are all favorites. I have a new appreciation for young adult literature, having read two stellar examples—John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (please be sure to read this book before seeing the movie) and Aryn Kyle’s The God of Animals. I could go on and on, across time and space and all genres, but will stop here. Tough question to ask a writer!

What is the best writing advice you can give another writer?

I am a short story writer and essayist. There is a quote, attributed to Brian Doyle, which resonates with me. “Bad personal essays are about the writer. Good personal essays are about all of us.” This is the headspace I like to be in when I begin writing something new. This quote reminds me that the process is as much about my readers as it is about me. Yes, of course, we write for ourselves to satiate our passion for the craft. It helps to remind ourselves that we are writing for our readers, too. Let your reader utilize their mind’s eye to see things. We do not necessarily have to tell them that the car is red or a BMW, if it is the action of the car that matters. Do not slow down your writing with unnecessary details. Be mindful of sensory details—and use all of your senses in your writing (just do not overdo it).

Beyond this, I wish to offer, as advice, the suggestion that any writer who is serious about writing needs to adopt a thick-skinned attitude about the critique process. I value it so much! My friends in writing catch things that I miss and offer ideas worth exploring. As writers, we are overall, gentle (if not fragile) souls. We do not take kindly to anyone who may wish to kill our darlings (which is a common literary term for assassinating our characters). In regards to the critique process, I like to say… take what you need and discard the rest. Generally, there is a positive takeaway from every critique, something useful. Hold onto it. Mull it over. Play with it. I instruct my students, when offering a critique, to begin by offering the writer something positive and specific that they liked about the piece. Bottom line, we all, each of us, own our writing. We should not be so egotistical as to believe it cannot be improved upon in some way. Remember, readers are our friends. They help share the “good word” about our writing. So, be kind to them!

My last bit of advice is to… read, read, and read!

Tell us a little about your memoir, Finding Happy.

After a devastating tragedy occurred in my life, I was paralyzed by anger and depression. My then-boyfriend (now husband) suggested I should write through it. His suggestion was the starting point for my memoir. Finding Happy, set in the late 1950s and early 1960s, is a coming-of-age story. The title is a play on words. Everyone, I portend, is on a journey to find happiness. More often than not, it is right in front of us, but we are unable to see the forest for the trees, so-to-speak. In addition, it is about finding a dog, which I named “Happy.” The book is dedicated to my niece, Julie Ann Crawford, who lost her battle with cancer at the age of 21. It details the experiences of my childhood growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and features family photographs and local history. Finding Happy is a tribute, in part, to Midwestern culture and charm. The book is available online from Amazon and the publisher (www.AuthorHouse.com).

Cover for Finding Happy. Photo by Brad Smith

Cover for Finding Happy. Photo by Brad Smith

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a manuscript of stories and essays, entitled Amborella. Compiling it has been a journey, prompted by two polarizing life events. Getting married (for the first and, hopefully, only time) at age 50 to my husband (and best friend), Thomas, and being told, pretty much simultaneously, by my gynecologist that I was pre-menopausal. The ebb and flow of life, like the ocean tide, is unstoppable. I decided to write through the highs and lows I was experiencing. Thankfully, throughout, my husband saw me as nothing less than beautiful. I did not always see myself this way…  and this writing helped empower me to do so.

The collection features personal anecdotes and commentary on aging gracefully (and with good humor), in essay form, along with short stories. Each story features a female protagonist that “blooms and grows” around her life circumstances. Individually, these characters are varied and struggle in some way. They are each beautiful in their own way, and together, as a bouquet, they are radiant. This is the way, I believe, women are in real life, too.

The title was inspired by Charles Darwin’s “Abominable Mystery Theory,” which attempts to identify the world‘s first flowering plant. It was presumably found in New Guinea and named “Amborella.” I believe that women, at all ages of life, are beautiful. It has been fun to play with metaphor and simile with this collection. Beyond this, I am waiting to hear if my personal essay on teaching in a nontraditional environment has been accepted by an international publisher for a forthcoming pedagogical textbook, and I continue to write, blog, and post about issues and causes that are near and dear to my heart.

Upcoming Releases

“Lost & Found.” Essay. Animal Literary Magazine. animalliterarymagazine.com. August 2014.

“First-Timer’s Approach to Teaching in a Non-Traditional Setting.” Essay. Creative Composition: Inspiration and Techniques for Writing Instruction. Co-Editors, Lori A. May and Dr. Danita Berg. Editor approved for publication in pedagogy text. Pending Publication. 2015.

You can find out more about Connie and her works at the following links:

Website: www.FindingHappy.com
Amazon: www.amazon.com/Connie-Langhorst/e/B00J5W9LP4
REMFA Program (Accomplishments): www.okcu.edu/english/redearthmfa/student-accomplishments
Smashwords: www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=langhorst%2C+connie
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ConnieLanghorst

 

 

Our July Featured Author–Kari Sayers

It’s July and time for our latest Featured Author. This month, we are featuring a very talented writer named Kari Sayers. We had the privilege to work with her on her novella The Gifted Souls, the first book in the Seventhdust Novella Series, earlier this year.

Kari Sayers Pic 2
Kari lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her husband of six years, Colwyn—a man Kari readily describes as one of her best friends and having the sexiest accent ever—and their twin three-year-old sons (Thing 1 and Thing 2, as Kari lightheartedly puts it). She considers herself a Midwest girl stuck in the South, but she enjoys the sunny weather and the overabundance of sweet tea.

Kari and Colwyn
Kari is an avid reader, and she loves a good love story, particularly romantic comedies. One of her guilty pleasures has always been young adult books. She also enjoys books about vampires, angels, and other supernatural creatures. Despite her fear of zombies, Kari can’t stop reading articles about the impending “zombie apocalypse” and watching zombie movies—even if she has to watch scary movies in the daytime, with someone else in the house, and then follow them up with a comedy in hopes of laughing until she forgets how scared she just was.

 

Kari was first published at age 17 in a local paper. Her first published book, A Toast to the Dummies Who Lost Us, is a break-up survival guide that was released when she was 25. The Gifted Souls was released in April, 2014.

kari sayers
We had the good fortune to catch up with Kari and ask her a few questions to get to know her a little better. She shared with us the poignant tale of when she started writing, her loves in life, and a little about the great stories she is currently working on.
When did you first start writing?

My uncle passed away when I was a kid in the early 90s. I wrote a poem as a way to express my grief. It’s the first meaningful piece of work that I can remember writing. I still remember the feeling of relief after I wrote out my emotions. I was hooked after that.

 

Where did you grow up, and how did it influence your writing?

I grew up in a small industrial city in northwest Indiana with my two sisters, my police officer father, and my bubbly mother. I get my sense of humor from my mom, a characteristic that is very evident in the self-improvement books I write. My love for science fiction was influenced by my dad. Growing up, I would sit with him and watch episodes of Star Trek. I was totally fascinated by the story lines. Today, I have an irreversible addiction to watching the SyFy channel and lots of science fiction movies. My husband thinks I watch way too many “low-budget” SyFy channel movies—I can’t help it… they’re interesting.

 

Where do you write? Describe this area for us.

Give me a cup of coffee with French vanilla creamer (hold the sugar), a little bit of sunshine, the low chatter of other people having interesting conversations, and POW! that’s my perfect writing spot. This often ends up being a local coffee spot, but sometimes it’s my own breakfast table at home.

 

When you aren’t writing, how do you spend your time?

I have two extremely active twin boys. They are three years old and quite possibly believe it’s their life mission to wear Mommy out each day. So when I’m not writing, I’m listening to my animated toddlers tell stories about purple monsters, forest trolls, lost princesses, and Power Rangers. According to one of them, I’m the troll (can’t argue with a three-year-old). My husband and I also like to think of ourselves as movie connoisseurs. We are the king and queen of matinee movies on Friday afternoons before we pick up the kids.

Boat Trip_Lake Hartwell

I also love WINE. I spend a good deal of time drinking it on the weekends.

 

What inspires you to get out of bed each morning?

Most mornings I wake up with one or both of my sons sleeping in our bed. As much as I would love no kids in my bed, there is a part of me that loves cuddling up next to them in the wee hours of the morning. Like a lot of parents, my children inspire me. My parents worked hard to provide a great life for my siblings and me. I want to do the same for my boys. I want to show them the importance of realizing your passions and life goals, then creating a plan to accomplish them.

 

 

What are your five favorite books, and why?

The Once and Future King by T.H. White—I’m totally fascinated by Merlin and the explanation that he lived his life backwards. I’ve read this book three times.

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne—this book is just really positive and encouraging. I truly believe in the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction. The Secret really speaks to me.

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella—I own this book on audio, and, no matter how many times I listen to it (which is at least once a year), I still find the main character Lexi extremely hilarious with her foul mouth and good intentions.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer—I don’t care what any of the critics may say, the first time I read Twilight, I fell in love with the writing style and the characters. Of course, I’m totally infatuated with vampires anyway, so this book and the other books in the series were pretty darn amazing to me.

A Divine Revelation of Hell —I read this book when I was a teenager. I don’t remember who the author was or where I even got the book from, but it has influenced some of the stories in my Seventhdust Novella Series. The book was supposedly based on the true story of a person who experienced visiting hell—kind of like Dante’s Inferno. The book gave me the creeps, but it had a huge impact on me as a teenager.

 

What is the best writing advice you can give another writer?

Just write. If you have a story inside you, get it out. Write it out. Don’t get all caught up in trying to perfect your story or editing each line you write two seconds after writing it. Just write. Point blank.

 

Tell our readers about your novella The Gifted Souls and the Seventhdust Novella Series.

The Seventhdust Novella Series was inspired by dreams I had when I was a teenager. I would dream (both at night and during daydreams) that something invisible was holding me down, trying to take control of me. These dreams helped build the storyline for this series.

The Gifted Souls is the first book in the series, and it introduces Liora, a teenager with a special gift that she keeps hidden, a white light that pools beneath her skin. She spends her summers at an academy in Ohio for gifted students. She and a few other students discover that the world is on the brink of a supernatural war and that reincarnated souls have returned to fulfill a task that was millennia in the making. The next book in the series will uncover the origins of these reincarnated souls and what sparked the war that actually began millennia ago.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000448_00034]
What are you working on now?

In addition to working on Book II of the Seventhdust Novella Series, I’m also working on launching a wine blog. I hope to share my love of wine and books through this project. WineandBabble.com is the name of it.

I’m also working on a variety of other writing projects, including a marriage guide with my friend Dr. Nicole Ausmer, as well as my first fantasy novel that outlines the second life of a character who must attempt to live and learn the Karmic Laws in order to maintain the balance of good vs. evil.

 

 

You can catch up with Kari online:

Website: http://www.karisayersbooks.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/karisayersbooks

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/karisayers

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/karisayers

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/karisayers

 

 

You can also grab your own copy of The Gifted Souls:

http://www.amazon.com/Gifted-Souls-Seventhdust-Novellas-ebook/dp/B00JS8BZ2W

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/430294

Thanks to Kari for sharing with us and working with us. We can’t wait to see what happens next in the Seventhdust Series. We know that once you read The Gifted Souls that you will be waiting as anxiously as we are. We have no doubt that you, too, will fall in love with this gifted writer and the wonderful stories she crafts.

Summer Shorts II Book Trailers

We are pleased to share the book trailers for our latest anthology, Summer Shorts II: Best Kept Secrets. This collection features short stories from 21 writers from around the world. We are excited about the variety of pieces included and feel like this is going to be our most diverse collection yet.  We hope you enjoy the trailers and the upcoming book, available online June 21, 2014.

 

Summer Shorts II Cover Image

Nicola J McDonagh: Our June Featured Author

Our featured writer this month is Nicola J McDonagh. She is a writer of contemporary fiction and poetry who hails from Syleham, Suffolk, UK. Nicola was the winner of the Suffolk Book League’s Short Story Competition in 2011, and she was short-listed for the Escalator Genre Fiction Competition in 2012. Her works include Echoes from the Lost Ones, A Silence Heard (books in the YA dystopian/sci-fi series The Song of Forgetfulness published by Fable Press), and Glimmer and other stories, an adult anthology of short stories. She is also featured in two of our DEE anthologies, Aspiring to Inspire and Words of Fire and Ice. She is a reviewer on The Review Board and a resident article writer for All Authors Magazine.

Nikki MacDonagh

Born in Liverpool, Nicola was the youngest of six children who, as she states, “grew up in a chaotic household full of stray animals, musical instruments, and lots of books.” She has spent most of her adult life performing on the stage, gaining an Honors Degree in Drama and English Literature. After working as an actor, scriptwriter, and workshop leader, she moved to Suffolk and was drawn into writing again by the surroundings of her summer home. Nicola went back to college and received a Diploma in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She is an author, creative writing tutor, and photographer, now living in rural Suffolk with her musician husband and, as she describes, “several feral/rescue cats.” She is learning to play the flute and piano accordion and is part of the band The Swamp Kittens. Nicola enjoys cooking, growing vegetables and fruit, and relaxing in a hammock—weather permitting. Nicola continues to experiment with words and photographs and has a website dedicated to her experimental photography: www.tracerlight.co.uk.

 

Future projects include: Marauders of the Missing Mummies,a children’s action adventure novel, and an audio book of Glimmer and other stories. Nicola is also engaged in a top secret writing collaboration on a book with the working title Spicasso. To celebrate six months of Glimmer and other stories being published, Nicola is giving away a signed paperback copy. The Kindle version will be on KDP select during the month of June.

 

Nicola shared her thoughts with us on writing, her favorite books, the influence of her hometown of Liverpool, and the inspiration she draws from her surroundings.

 

When did you first start writing?

I started writing when I was about nine or ten. I used to write short poems to the weather to make it sunny if it was raining. Sometimes it worked, too. Then I stopped because growing up became more important to me. I do remember, whenever we changed the wallpaper, I would leave some short stories on the walls before the new wallpaper went up. All in pencil so that it would fade quickly. I didn’t write anything for a long time after the age of twelve. When I did go back to writing, it was in the form of scripts for theatre. I started doing prose seriously about eight years ago.

 

Where did you grow up, and how did it influence your writing?

I grew up on a council estate in a place called Kirkby—a suburb of Liverpool. It was rough, and I became quite good at running away from bullies. I also became good at defending myself. Being the youngest of six children, I quickly learned how to fight back. I think having such a turbulent childhood influenced my writing in that I tend not to sentimentalise characters or plotlines. I lived in a city known for its rich cultural heritage and multi-cultural influences. I loved visiting the docks, and seeing the huge ships, but I also loved the beautiful museum and art gallery and, of course, going to the theatre. I think that’s where I learned what a good story should be like—full of drama and interesting plotline.

 

Where do you write? Describe this area for us.

I mainly write in my small living room. It has a low, oak-beamed ceiling and fireplace, which makes it very cosy in the winter months. I always sit in my battered old armchair. It is so comfortable, although its original cover has long since melted away. I drape it in a dark red cover and prop myself up with plenty of cushions.

 

When you aren’t writing, how do you spend your time?

I have a huge garden, about an acre, and that takes up a lot of time with weeding and trimming and planting and all things gardening. I also have a lot of cats to feed and groom. I also love to cook and make big batches of soup and curry. I also take photographs. I love to experiment with light and create unusual images influenced by artists that I admire. Oh, and I teach a variety of arts-based workshops such as creative writing and photography at the local high school.

 

What inspires you to get out of bed each morning?

 The promise of fresh coffee and a new day to soak up the beauty of the countryside that surrounds me.

 

What are your five favourite books, and why?

 Difficult to choose just five, but here goes. In no particular order:

 Ray Bradbury – The Martian Chronicles. This book is so much more than a simple science fiction novel. Bradbury’s writing is beautiful. He creates an alien world using imagery and imaginative descriptions that make you believe it is real. He always has some sort of message in his works, and, in this book, he is showing how mankind destroys all that is good and beautiful through greed and selfishness. It is a profound book and also full of humour.

 Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar. This book is touching, harrowing, and funny. Sylvia Plath was a great writer, and she knew how to touch the reader with her rich, yet sparse, use of language. Her soul-bearing narrative is so poignant and honest that you empathise but never feel sorry for her.

Theodore Sturgeon – More than Human. This is another science fiction book, but one that deals with the human condition and the potential of the human brain and mankind to become better than they are now. It is at once a gothic horror/romance and a startling examination of what power can do to the individual, and how those with enormous power need to be humbled in order to use it wisely.

John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy of Dunces. This is a wonderfully funny book by a hugely talented author, who sadly killed himself before the book was published. His use of language and colloquial dialogue is superb. The central character is a complete anti-hero, and we love to see him get caught up in his imaginary conspiracy theory.

Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol. This is truly one of my all-time favourite books. Moralistic, condemnatory, and just so evocative, the transformation of Scrooge from a miser to a philanthropist is utterly believable and heart-warming. The narrative is wonderful, skilful, and has you laughing and crying in equal measure. He knew how to tell a tale, all right.

 

Since you are both a photographer and a writer, how do these two forms of artistic expression come together in your work?

I suppose I use my photographer’s eye to help me with descriptions. I tend to write visually and often use some of my photographs as triggers for short stories, or to help me to describe locations.

 

 

Tell us about your YA novel that was released in May, A Silence Heard.

 A Silence Heard is a follow up to Echoes from the Lost Ones. They are part of a YA dystopian/sci-fi series called The Song of Forgetfulness. The books are an unsettling and mysterious vision of the future where animals are almost extinct, humans are subjugated by the sinister and secretive Agros, and gifted children, known as Meeks, are going missing.

A Silnce Heard cover sml

In the books, I deal with issues that are of concern to us today: overpopulation, rapid advances in technology, and global warming. Both books are set in Scotland because oceans have risen, and that is all the land that is left in Great Britain. There are no animals because of viral infection, except for the elusive birdybirds, and they never land. In A Silence Heard, I am trying to suggest that if mankind continues to abuse this beautiful planet, then a world like the one I have created might happen. But I am also trying to say that we are all connected somehow, and that we all have something special inside us, even if we aren’t sure what it is. That we are all capable of doing something amazing if put to the test.

 The books came about after some pupils that I teach in my afterschool clubs suggested that I write a futuristic novel for them, incorporating issues and concerns that they wanted to address, such as global warming, cloning, and the threat of widespread disease. They also wanted a heroine they could identify with, who did ordinary things like going to the toilet, as well as having supernatural powers

I wanted to use a slang-based language as a way of getting instantly into the character’s personality and unfamiliar world. As the narrative is from Adara’s point of view, it made sense to have her talk to the reader in her “own” voice. The characters and futuristic setting become more credible and believable, when the vocabulary reflects this by being different to today’s spoken or written word.

 Link to book trailer for The Song of Forgetfulness: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoh9FB_bNO4rQdNvJ5AWA5Q

echoescovercopy

[important]                                                  Echoes from the Lost Ones is free on Amazon until June 2, 2014.[/important]

 

You also have a short story collection, Glimmer and other stories, that will have been out for six months in June. Can you share a little about the collection and its June promotion?

Glimmer is a collection of darkly humorous stories that tell of mysterious liaisons, supernatural intrigue, deathly hauntings, disturbing fixations, hidden secrets, forbidden urges, necromancy, and a rebellious housewife. Phew!

I decided to publish this anthology to step away from the genre that I was writing in with the Song of Forgetfulness books. I wanted to reach an adult audience and chose a varied selection of tales from my stash of shorts. I have included stories from a few years ago and a couple of new ones written in a variety of genres. I enjoy writing and reading all kinds of stories and wanted to reflect that in this anthology, so there should be something of interest to almost any reader. They range from horror to humour to mystery and to speculative fiction. I wanted to create atmospheric tales as well as stories about ordinary people who want to break free. I am giving away a signed paperback copy of the collection (see details on my Facebook Page). The Kindle version will be available mid-June on Amazon countdown deal starting at $0.99 to celebrate six months of its publication (go to my website for details of this promotion in June).

Glimmer_Cover_for_Kindle

 

What are you working on next?     

I am working on a children’s action adventure book called Marauders of the Missing Mummies. It is about a young girl and her archaeologist mother who are trying to recover a couple of important mummies to take back to the British Museum. But their archenemy and rival, Van Clutch, has other ideas and steals them. The mummies are cursed, and when Van Clutch unleashes the Egyptian god of chaos, Seth, to bring about the destruction of mankind, it is up to Cleo and her friends to travel to the Land of the Dead to bring back Ma-at, the only goddess who can destroy Seth and return order. It is also about coping with loss and understanding what belief means to us all, and how delicate the balance is between what is good and what is evil.

 

You can find out more about Nicola and her works by visiting any of the sites below.

 

The Song of Forgetfulness website: http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesongofforgetfulness?ref=hl

Twitter: @McDonaghNikki

Website photography: http://www.tracerlight.co.uk

Blog:   http://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17986040-echoes-from-the-lost-one

 

Amazon links:

http://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Lost-Ones-Forgetfulness-Volume/dp/1939897041/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nicola-J.-McDonagh/e/B00D4NAH0S/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Silence-Heard-Song-Forgetfulness-ebook/dp/B00JMPWRX2/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1398776526&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-Nicola-McDonagh-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386950835&sr=1-7&keywords=glimmer

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Glimmer-Nicola-McDonagh-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_img_2_AC5G

http://www.amazon.com/Silence-Heard-Song-Forgetfulness-ebook/dp/B00JMPWRX2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400247413&sr=1-1&keywords=A+Silence+Heard