Monday, January 23, 2012

Author Interview with Kathryn Starke

Today's author interview is with Kathryn Starke.  Great to have you here, Kathryn!

      Q)  When did you start writing?  What keeps you going? 

A)  I started writing professionally in 2005. I continue to write children's books and educational works for students and fellow educators looking for new materials. 

Q)  What was your most encouraging moment as an author? 

A)  When I first noticed that children chose "Amy's Travels" off the bookshelf to read on their own, I knew I had written a story that people will enjoy reading.

Q)  What was your most discouraging moment as an author? 

A)  It's always discouraging when you write people in the book industry who don't see the value of your work when you know it is well-received and needed. Amy's Travels is going into its second edition and can be found on six continents.

Q)  What’s your antidote to writer’s block? 

A)  I only write when an idea hits me or I have a story to share.

Q)  Describe the typical writing day: 

A)  I always put on music when I'm writing and go straight to typing my manuscript or draft. I find that when I'm working on a project, I write for at least two hours everyday. The next day, I always return to what I wrote to edit and make changes. This way, I am still excited about writing for any audience.

Q)  From where do you draw your inspiration?  

A)  My students and co-workers inspire me to write new stories and create new ideas that are both engaging and educational. 

Q)  Tell us about your latest book: 

A)  Amy's Travels will be released in its second edition this year. It is the first children's picture book to teach all seven continents and has lesson plans and activities for students, parents, and teachers to complete together. This multicultural children's book, based on the true story, of my dear friend Amy teaches the culture, geography, and diversity of our world through the eyes of a young girl. 

Q)  What author have you been most influenced by?  

A)  So many but I truly love the works of Eric Carle, Chris van Allsburg, and Laura Numeroff.

Author Bio: A native of Richmond, Virginia, Kathryn Starke is an elementary school reading specialist, literacy consultant, children's author, publisher, public speaker and freelance writer. A graduate of Longwood University, she earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education and her master's degree in literacy and culture. She currently serves as the CEO of Creative Minds Publications. Kathryn spends every day motivating children to read, think, and learn. As a former first and second grade teacher in an inner city school system, Kathryn believes that motivation and a print rich environment are the two factors needed to promote literacy. Kathryn travels to schools, libraries, museums, and bookstores to share Amy's Travels with children, parents, and teachers. She presents literacy workshops for parents and teachers and is available for public speaking engagements. Kathryn continues to write and share her passion for literacy with!  fellow educators.

Thanks for visiting.  Please enjoy and comment.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Looking Back: How to Eat Like a Child

            Growing up in the late seventies, Delia Ephron’s How to Eat Like a Child: And Other Lessons in Not Being a Grown-Up (Viking Press, 1977) had the auspicious honor of being in my top five.*  Sassy and irreverent, the seemingly rebellious collection of expository essays was nothing less than side-splittingly hysterical.  It was also a fun time-suck that initiated deep, profound experimentation and conversations with friends.  True Case: My childhood chum, Colleen, and I really did see if M&M’s would melt in our hands (Outcome: positive) and it was unanimously agreed upon after extensive discourse that we’d both much rather be frozen to death than burned alive. 
            The cult success of How to Eat Like a Child surely owed debt to the sleepy zeitgeist of the decade’s waning years.  But it was also a much simpler time to grow up.  While computers were something on The Jetsons and trotting off to the neighborhood pool was the activity du jour, How to Eat Like a Child fell right into place between episodes of Mork and Mindy and multiple games of Mastermind.  And with that came the era of old-school rebellion.  The notion of calling your teacher and sending seven pizzas or torturing siblings with jelly doughnuts certainly qualified as satisfying, subversive fun to any eight-year-old. 
            So check out or revisit the timeless universal enjoyment of How to Eat Like a Child.  After all, we’re all kids at heart! 
            Now where is that number for Pizza Hut…I never did like that mean, craggy Mrs. Weinerschmidt. 

 *Top Five – Favorite books

Friday, January 13, 2012

Author Interview with Jenn Nixon

Today we have Science-Fiction and Suspense author Jenn Nixon with us.  Great to have you here, Jenn!  

Q) When did you start writing?  What keeps you going?

A)  I started writing poetry in grammar school. In the 5th grade we made books for our parents. Mine was full of poems and really crappy drawings. I didn’t actively write until receiving a diary for my 12th birthday…along with some Nancy Drew books.

The stories in my head keep me going. I think I’ve always been a story teller, writing video game concepts, plays, short stories, movie scripts…I can’t keep up with the stuff running around in my brain and it has to come out somewhere!

Q)  What was your most encouraging moment as an author?

A)  One of the best happened a few years ago when I submitted an excerpt to and online blog where they offer it up for critique. I admit, it wasn’t the best version of the excerpt at the time but it was good. As with any piece of fiction, some people liked it others didn’t. One commenter was a NY Times Best Selling Author. I don’t know her personally and was very surprised by her encouraging comments. It was proof that I was moving in the right direction.

Q)  What was your most discouraging moment as an author?

A)  Ha! This one is easy. My first “novel” sucked big time. The plot and story were interesting. People told me I was very good at dialogue. But seriously, it was horrendous. I posted information about it in an AOL group way back in the day when people still went to them. They slammed me. Big time. I almost thought about giving up on trying to get published. I’m glad I didn’t!

Q)  What’s your antidote to writer’s block?

A)  Movies or TV shows about writers or writing, like Castle. I knew about this show when it first came out but didn’t watch because something else was on, I think. It’s a great show, of course I can usually figure half of them out…but that’s the writer in me!

Q)  Describe the typical writing day:

A)  I’ve never had a typical writing day. Whenever I write I usually have some music playing and try to keep the other distractions, like the dogs, to a minimum!

Q)  From where do you draw your inspiration?

A)  Everywhere. Seriously. I once got a whole plot idea by watching 5 minutes of a TV show. Brainstorming with friends is another great way for me to get new ideas they don’t mind me bouncing ideas off of them and working out story lines.

Q)  Tell us about your latest book:

A)  Trust Me, Tell Me is my latest novella and the final of the trilogy released 1/15/12 from Tease Publishing. It’s a little different from what I usually write, it’s more spicy, but people seem to like it!

Blurb: Mason Storm is set to marry Veronica Chance in seven days. When he receives a mysterious text message he immediately packs and leaves without saying a word to anyone. After meeting with his former boss, Mason knows his past has finally caught up with him. In order to clear his name of false charges he returns home to Boston ready to put the issues to bed. Veronica, however, isn’t making it easy. She’s determined to help despite his claims of being the only one to make things right. As the investigation intensifies, Mason is captured and Veronica holds the key to his release. Will she make it there in time to save him and their wedding or will everything fall apart?

Q)  What author have you been most influenced by? 

A)  Many, many authors have influenced me. I belong to the Liberty States Fiction Writers group which is a huge group of wonderful people who have helped and guided me on this long journey to publication. They are my main inspiration and I can never thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me over the years.

Author Bio:
Jenn Nixon resides in New Jersey. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Liberty State Fiction Writers. Her love for thrillers and suspense often finds its way into her novels whether they are Science Fiction or Romance. When not writing, Jenn spends her free time reading, absorbing pop culture and current events, and social networking online.

Book Links

Twitter: @jennnixon 

Thanks for visiting.  Please enjoy and comment. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Author Event - Book Signing for Pretty Dolls

Join me at The Frothy Monkey - Nashville, Tennessee - on Saturday, January 14th from 1-3 p.m.

Author Interview with Steve Shilstone

Today we have author, Steve Shilstone joining us.  Great to have you here, Steve.  

Q) When did you start writing?  What keeps you going?

A)  I began writing as a fifth grader in Seattle, Washington, probably on a rainy day. The title of my initial effort was ‘Art Ant Off To War’. Thankfully, a veil has been drawn over any of its content. I keep writing because writing is so very, very, really awfully quite a lot of fun.

Q)  What was your most encouraging moment as an author?

A)  It was a day in 1995 when I opened a letter from a publishing house, Breakaway Books, and read that my literary baseball novel, CHANCE, had been accepted for publication.

Q)  What was your most discouraging moment as an author?

A)  Rephrased for me, the question would be, ‘What was your most discouraging moment while playing?’ That noted, every rejection is a paper cut. Death by a thousand paper cuts would be rather discouraging. And yet, after multiple paper cuts, a word of encouragement balm tends to show up with the latest rejection.

Q)  What’s your antidote to writer’s block?

A)  Once I have a few characters and general story line, I am able to plod forward without writer’s block. Between stories is where I sometimes stall. Finding a plot and somebody to live it are the toughest barriers for me to conquer.

Q)  Describe the typical writing day:

A)  When I have my characters and a list of tentative chapter headings, I face a blank piece of paper, pen in hand. A firm believer in the short chapter, I scrawl all of Chapter One. The following day I enter the scribbled chapter into the computer, editing as I go. I print out the chapter. Next day I read the printout, editing again, and proceed to write Chapter Two. Next day – Enter Chapter Two into computer, edit it, print it. Next day – Read Ch. 2 printout, edit, and write Chapter Three. When, after a few months, I type ‘The ‘End’, I have a triple edited manuscript, which I then edit again, mostly adding foreshadowing and other changes made necessary by surprising to me plot developments.

Q)  From where do you draw your inspiration?

A)  I’m writing stories I’m sure the fifth grader in Seattle, back in time before the dawn of man, would have pulled from the library shelves to read along with all the horse, dog, and Oz books he loved.

Q)  Tell us about your latest book.

A)  Here’s the tentative blurb for Book Five of The Bekka Chronicles, THE BLUE HILLS:
In Book #5 of The Bekka Chronicles, Bekka of Thorns awakens one morning feeling uneasy and not knowing why. Then it hits her. Silence. Complete. A stiff sort of silence, if silence can be called stiff. She looks around and notices that the only magic item she possesses, The Carven Flute, is dead wooden brown in color instead of its usual flush yellow pink. Alarmed, she hurries from her hut and heads for the nearby bramble bower hedge, home of her bendo dreen (bramble dwarf) younglinghood. Slipping inside, she heads down the tunnel toward the Assembly Bower and encounters a pair of bendo dreen frozen in place. Carefully passing them by, she peers into the Assembly Bower and sees the rest of the bendo dreen population, some sitting or caught in the act of sitting, some standing, some in mid-stride, some with mouths wide, some posed gesturing, but all motionless, all silent. Now fully stricken with fear, she flees the hedge to return to her hut. Her steps falter, and she slows to a standstill at what she sees. What does she see? A bird. A beeketbird. Above her hut, midair, wings spread wide, hanging motionless. Thus begins for Bekka a new quest, a new journey.

Q)  What author have you been most influenced by? 

A)  First, James Joyce. He freed me from the shackles of convention. He gave me permission to play with language. Now, I’m a toddler with pail and shovel in the sandbox of words.  Second, Georges Perec, French genius and author of LIFE: A USER’S MANUAL. He demonstrates how to build a structure and hang stories off of it,  A tie for third between the Reverend Charles Dodgson of the ALICE books and Edward Lear, nonsense king of the 19th century. My RAKARA, Book Three of The Bekka Chronicles, pays particular homage to Mr. Lear.

Author Bio: Steve Shilstone is an elderly benign hippie lite loon UCLA Anthropology graduate with a fun-filled history as a postal worker, unloader of trucks, department store stock associate, painter, baseball coach, and father. The first 4 (BEKKA OF THORNS, THE CARVEN FLUTE, RAKARA, THE WOODLOCK) of his children’s fantasy ebook series, The Bekka Chronicles, are available at

Links website, etc. Fantasy support site:
Self-indulgent sandbox nonsense site:   

Thanks for visiting!  Please feel free to comment.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

Write What You Know?

            So everyone’s heard the old writing adage - Write What You Know.  But does this Comp 101 advice help or hobble the aspiring writer? 
            Probably neither when you get down to it, but it could affect one’s penchant for garlic.  Example: If I aspire to be the next Stephenie Meyer and write about vampires, does that mean I have to go find one?  And if on the off-chance I do nab myself one of these fetching blood-sucking gents, must I really have them munch on my neck?  I seriously doubt Ms. Meyer, Morman mother of three, spent copious time with vampires and yet, she’s the creator of the teenage lust truffle – Edward. 
            Which brings me back to my original question – do you have to write what you know? 
            I’m thinking not so much.  
            It’s like that time in the fourth grade when I had to write a research report about koala bears.  Nothing against these eucalyptus enthusiasts, but I had no vested interest in my subject matter and as a result, the report was dry, lacked voice, and earned me a paltry C+.  Yet when I delivered my dissertation on the Bee Gees clad in my disco jacket that same year, I oozed nothing less than fervent enthusiasm for the satiny, chest-bearing, crooning triad.  (Hence, it’s no surprise that Barry, Robin, and Maurice earned me an whopping A+.) 
            So as far as writing adages, it might be more productive to say write what you have passion for.  Through genuine passion one naturally writes with authenticity, which in the end is what all writers seek through their truth wielding pens – or laptops as the case may be.  So whether it be vampires, faux fur, or ambrosia Jell-o molds - think about what you really love or really hate, get your passion on, and write, baby!