Inside A Beautiful Mind – Shirani Rajapakse

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Good Morning Everyone and happy Friday

Welcome to Inside A Beautiful Mind.

For those of you who have been here before, go grab your coffee, tea or beverage of choice and come sit with me as we get comfy and have a chat with the wonderfully talented Shirani Rajapakse.

Good Morning Shirani, thank you for hanging out with me this morning and being a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind.

So now let’s get to it and tell our readers a little bit about yourself. 

 

Hi and thank you for having me over for a chat.

I’m a poet and short story writer from Sri Lanka. I live in the suburbs of the capital, Colombo. I have worked in journalism, research and management. About 15 years ago I became a full time creative writer. It wasn’t something I had planned. It just happened. I was in between jobs and had planned to take a year off to do several things I wanted andSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA just relax before getting back to the rat race. I also thought this would be the ideal time to edit several stories as well as put down ideas I had scribbled in note books. But it didn’t seem to end as the ideas tumbled out one after the other and I kept writing short stories and poems, adding to what I already had. I realized how much I enjoyed writing and decided this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, not as a hobby, but full time.

I’ve published two books – a short story collection and a poetry book. I have also published a lot of individual pieces in literary journals and anthologies around the world.

I’m a vegetarian and a chocoholic. I love dogs and have an eight year old dog named Bambi who has become rather dependent on me since her mother died last year.

I enjoy reading anything that is well written. The genres I read these days are literary fiction, women’s fiction, contemporary romance, light mystery, fantasy and of course quite a bit of poetry.

Can you tell us about your books?

My first publication was a collection of short stories. It was called Breaking News and it was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award in 2010 and published by a small traditional publisher the following year.

This year I self published my poetry book Chant of a Million Women. I worked on it the whole of last putting together the poems that would make up the collection, deciding on what to use and the order of the poems and also getting it edited. I spent the better half of this year learning about self publishing – how to format books, do covers (although I didn’t do the cover for this one), and also market and promote the book. I published it last month, and although it’s taken longer than I thought it would to get published it was fully worth it.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I have been writing since the late 1990s. My first book is an unpublished novel and was inspired by a rather disturbing incident that took place involving a young woman. After writing this I began writing short stories and poems. I think it was like a chill out period from writing the novel. I found that I liked writing short stories and poems; the brevity of words was refreshing and I felt intrigued with the shorter forms of writing. Since there were many stories and poems piling up I felt it was time to start publishing them as collections. I decided to go with a short story collection first because I was more serious about fiction than poetry. Breaking News was publishing in 2011. I didn’t think I would write many poems or that it would become a form of writing I preferred over stories until much later. It was only after Breaking News was published and I started looking through my unpublished work that I found enough poems to make up loosely themed collections.

Chant of a Million Women is the first collection to be self published. Each of the poems were written at different times, and although I had a collection ready by the end of last year, I found myself adding three more poems a few months before I signed off on my final draft. The poems are about women in different circumstances and situations. TheyChant of a Million Women - Shirani Rajapakse are influenced by what has been happening to women down the ages and across the world, the treatment of women and children and the responses of society. They cover a gamut of topics and emotions and I hope these poems open up a dialogue to discuss issues about the treatment of women.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Everything I write about is influenced by what I see around me. The stories or poems are not all based on real life experiences but most are. Breaking News is based on incidents that took place in Sri Lanka and consists of stories written about living under the threat of war that a lot of us experienced. Getting attacked by Tamil terrorists, losing family and friends, not knowing if we would return home when we left for work or school, was normal life for us for many years. Yet despite the terror and fear we lived under there was also room to poke fun at our situation and enjoy whatever bursts of sunshine we could have. It also made us realize how transient life was and that gave us a sense of awareness about how precious it was.

Chant of a Million Women has a lot of ‘stories’ told in verse about incidents that I’ve read or heard about. It is more global in outlook than Breaking News, but there are many poems that have Sri Lanka, South Asian and even the Middle East as a backdrop. Everything is not factual but most of it is based on fact. Imagination takes over to create something that is uniquely mine.

What was your favorite parts to write and why?

In Breaking News, it was the way the stories developed. My first lines were important to me and these were the lines that started the stories for me. If I couldn’t find the right words to start the story I couldn’t write it and that became a challenge. In Chant of a Million Women all the lines mattered, not just the first lines and this meant I had to work harder at developing every poem. I had to give a lot of thought and make a bigger effort to create the poems, more than the stories. Every line had to work; every line had to be a thought or idea, or even part of an idea. There was no room for fillers or excess words. I already had many poems but I needed to add more to make up a collection. There were sometimes ‘stories’ that I wanted to write about again, with a different angle and it was interesting to see how I could do this without making it seem similar to the one already included. The challenge was to create poems that were different yet addressed the issues I wanted.

How did you come up with the titles?

Both books take the titles from a story/ poem included in the collections. I selected Breaking News as the title of the book because I thought it would be a good title since it was the first book I was publishing and it was like a news item calling emphasis to the book. Also the subject matter being such – attacks on civil society, the disruption of life and destruction of property by terrorist attack – anything happening during that time was ‘news’ and would be splashed across the newspapers. With the poetry book the obvious choice was Chant of a Million Women since the book is all about women. It details the experiences and situations women the world over face and it is also something almost all women can identify with.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I haven’t got much harsh criticism for my writing, but I’ve been told the stories in Breaking News are difficult to read because of the subject matter. I do realize it is not easy to talk about some things, but I don’t believe in shying away from issues just because it is hard to come to terms with. I think that if we can live through horror and come out of it, then it’s also important to talk about it and as a writer I know I will continue to do that, even though it may not be appreciated by many people.

Since publishing Breaking News I’ve been submitting work, mostly poetry to literary journals and anthologies and except for three instances when the editors suggested very minor changes to the work submitted, like changing a word or two or delete a couple of lines, I’ve never had to re-write or alter anything I submitted. I consider this a huge compliment as it means I have been able to create something that is near perfect. Another compliment would be the acceptance of my work by editors of literary journals the world over, as it means they like and value my work enough to include it in their publications that are read by many different people.

Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?

I don’t know if this qualifies as quirky or unique, but I tend to do my first draft in my mind. I have to see everything in my mind, like a movie. I can’t write it if it doesn’t unfold in a particular sequence and even if the desire to write it is strong, the story won’t sound good and it won’t be a success. I’ve tried that and have realized it just doesn’t work. So now I let it play inside my head before I take it down and put it in words. Although I love writing I’m a lazy writer. It takes me ages to write what’s in my mind. I’ve lost many ideas because I was lazy to put them down.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I mostly just write, although there are some times when I outline my stories in my mind. When I get inspired by either reading or seeing something I immediately see a story happening in my mind. Sometimes the story I have is not at all related to what I’ve seen or read but is merely influenced or inspired by just reading or seeing whatever it was I saw or read. I let the story flow through my mind like a short movie for a few seconds until I am comfortable with it, then I quickly write it down. It doesn’t have to be the full story or poem, but I have to write whatever comes to mind. Later I add and change things around, but that first line or idea has to be there. It’s the same with poems, although I have to write down the complete poem when I am inspired. The editing later takes care of any discrepancies etc.

 

Can you tell us about your experiences in getting your first book published?

I’ll talk about my second book Chant of a Million Women because it is the first book that is self published and this means a lot to me. The collection was put together in 2015 from poems I had written at various times. I started working on it seriously in 2016 when I began selecting the poems that I wanted from what was there, adding new poems, creating an order and getting it all edited and ready for publishing. Then I left it to learn about how to self publish. I spent the first six months of this year talking to people online and in writers groups, asking questions which later I realized were so silly but at that time felt like they were the most important, learning to format a book, design covers, making decisions about where to publish and how to market the book etc. This was probably the most intense six months of work I’d done for a long time and it felt harder than writing. I was very fortunate to meet some very nice and helpful people and I’ve made friends with quite a lot of people along the way. Writing was the easy part, publishing was hard and I think marketing and promoting the book is going to be the hardest.

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I had been collecting poems for a long time and in 2015 I started separating them into themed collections. The strongest to come out was the theme on women. But I didn’t have enough and I started adding more. Then in 2016 I had a rough draft of about 85 poems. That got edited down to 80 and then to 70 by the end of 2016. I decided to publish this and left it to start learning about self publishing. A couple of months before I started to format the book I included three more poems that I had written with the objective of submit to a journal.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

I think the genre chose me. I’m more interested in literary fiction probably because that has been the genre I’ve read the most. As for writing, I never thought I’d write short stories or poems since I didn’t much like short stories and I had no idea how to write poetry. I always thought I’d be a novelist. The short stories and poems were written during breaks in writing the two full length novels that are yet unpublished. When it came to publishing I submitted the short stories and one of the novels. The publisher selected the short stories. After publishing I continued to write short stories as I felt some of the stories I had worked better as short stories than as a novel. I also began submitting poetry to journals and this resulted in turning towards writing more poems. I realized that the more I read and wrote poetry the more interested I was in writing verse and also that I was getting better at it.

Where do you get your ideas?

The ideas are all around me. They are to be found in the garden listening to the squirrels chirping in the trees, watching the sun walk across the sky every day and the conversations I have with people around the world and the news happening everywhere.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing

I grew up reading Enid Blytons and the classics like Jane Austen, the Brontes and others. I devoured books. Anything that was interesting was read and re-read. Books were like a lifeline of sorts and I preferred reading to homework. I can’t say a particular book or author influenced me, because there were many authors that I followed and many books that influenced me at the various stages of my life. I also found that a particular author or book I liked at one time in my life didn’t bring me as much joy in another time. I used to think it strange but realize that we outgrow our interests and what we find pleasure in at one time can be boring and uninteresting at another time based purely on our experiences and where we have been in life.

Growing up I read mostly white writers and it was only when I was in my twenties in University, reading for my degree in Literature that I found myself having to read non white writers or writers using Africa and Asia as their background for stories. At first I didn’t want to read them as I had got so accustomed to reading and being familiar with the type of writing of white writers. Then when I started reading I was amazed to find how much I liked the stories I read and could finally identify with the characters and the worlds they inhabited. It was like reading my own experiences and narrative.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Write whatever you want to write because you alone know the stories you want to tell. When you sit down to write let the words flow the way they want. Later, when you have finished your story or chapter go through it and make any changes. Then put it away and go do something else. Write another story, read a book, travel somewhere, do anything to forget the story you wrote. Come back and look at it objectively. Edit it as if it was someone else’s story and not yours. Be as merciless as you can, cutting down unnecessary words, adding new words to make the story stand out. Polish the lines, re construct sentences left hanging. Tighten them like you would tune a stringed instrument to get just the right notes. Put it aside again for another month or two. Let your eyes go over it again and send it to someone to read, maybe a beta reader. Edit based on the feedback you get. Keep editing until you are happy with it and know that there is nothing you can do for it anymore. But of course, writing and editing is never finished and you will always have something you want to add or change even minutes before you hit publish.

What is your favorite quote or saying?

Write with your heart. Edit with your head. Not my words but they work for me.

 Tea or coffee?

Love them both. Sometimes I’m a coffee drinker and at other times I’m a hopeless tea drinker.

Sweet or salty?

As long as it is chocolate then it’s sweet.

Would you like to share with us a passage that will give us a glimpse into the world you built?

Here are two very different poems from Chant of a Million Women.

Loneliness

 

Because I crossed over

no man’s land one day, a few steps

of nothingness between two countries

that drew borders to fence us in.

A sliver of territory

just enough for a road to run through,

a few kiosks that might make it

livable, but not

sufficient for homes

to make you feel loved, or

to put down roots.

 

No one feels

at home in no man’s land.

 

No one stops there. Not for long.

Only lonely birds swooping down infrequently

to rest awhile, taking wing as they sense

all is not quite right. Or

the occasional curious cow that wonders

if the grass is really greener

yet doesn’t venture further.

A feeling of unease she can’t quite understand;

fear of death by slaughter, slow and painful,

cold breeze carrying messages of anguish

and terror waiting on

the other side.

 

Because sometimes words

are not required to make one understand or

experience joy and grief

at the same time.

 

Because of this you left, unable

to comprehend, refused to accompany me.

Stood for an hour at the threshold until

the gates closed behind me.

You gazed as I went over

to the other country.

Past the entrance,

the men in uniform, the plumed hats,

the paperwork, the stamp of finality,

to get lost in the rest of what makes it theirs.

 

Not yours anymore.

 

Because it happened so long ago you

don’t remember the words spoken

as you watched people

stride away. Like me.

 

But I remembered your face that day

and the words you

wanted to speak,

but couldn’t,

so you let your eyes converse instead.

Because it sounded so good,

like a violin crying in an abandoned house,

like a dog howling in the lonely ruins,

like a peacock singing in a desert dream,

and I remembered.Chant of a Million Women - Shirani Rajapakse

 

Somewhere in the Middle East After One War Ended

 

Child in the classroom unable

to speak. Staring at the space in front

silent to the teachers urging.

 

Mouth refusing to shape

words that don’t come out, they died,

crumbled to dust and got lost

in the sands swirling not so very long ago.

 

What thoughts hold her back afraid

to open lips that might howl out secrets

best left hidden amidst the ruins

piled up like garbage?

 

Numb to the people, deaf

to the voices moving around, she hears

strange noises in her mind

deafening the songs

trying to rise up from a corner where

she stored them for safe keeping,

to make her smile.

 

Gunshots in the street,

 

the heavy fire of machine guns in

the dark of the night, a river

roaring through

nonstop taking with it the trees

uprooted, buildings collapsed.

 

Flares lighting up the

sky as she hid under

the bed seeing neon signs flash across

the sky through a hole in the roof

that brought in the sun during the day,

hot and burning, like the sting of the bullet

in her mother’s chest.

 

The guns are silenced for the moment,

only the distant low hum of

sporadic fire in some other town

not so far away.

 

People walk the streets unafraid, go about

their work like

nothing ever happened.

The past erased.

 

Yet the guns inside

her head continue to fire volley after volley

as she struggles to live each day.

 

Would you mind sharing with us the best way to stay in touch with you and where to learn more about your books?

Website: https://shiranirajapakse.wordpress.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/shiranirajapakseauthor

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13850404.Shirani_Rajapakse

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/ShiraniRajapakse

Universal ebook link: https://www.books2read.com/shiranirajapakse

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shiraniraj

LinkdIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shiranirajapakse/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shiranirajapakse/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/shiraniraj/

 

Alright folks, it is that time again but I would like to say a heart felt thank you to Shirani for sharing with us and spending some time in her world today. Also, I would like to say a big thank you to the lovely readers out there for joining in and taking a moment to support your Authors.
If you or any of you know of someone who would like to be a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind, please send me a message or email me, kadecook.author@gmail.com.
Enjoy your Friday folks, you are awesome and please remember to be kind to your Authors, leave a review. See you in a couple of weeks, Peace.
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Kobo Writing Life Podcast – Episode 091 – Special Audiobook Announcement: Let Me Tell You A Story

Kobo Writing Life

Episode 91 of the Kobo Writing Life Podcast, narrated by Jim Dale, beloved actor and narrator for the Harry Potter books in Canada and the United States, will introduce you to Kobo’s new Audiobook program.

Let me tell you a story. Do you remember when you first fell in love with reading? Well you weren’t really reading, were you? No, your passion for books began quite another way. It was listening, wasn’t it? To a story. Yes; your love of reading got started when you were being read to. Could there be any six words that have more anticipation behind them than: “Let me tell you a story.”

Introducing Audiobooks for the Free Kobo App with a beautifully designed, easy to use player.

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Start your free trial today and embrace the art of…

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Inside A Beautiful Mind – Jeanne Blasberg

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Good Morning Everyone and happy Friday

Welcome to Inside A Beautiful Mind.

For those of you who have been here before, go grab your coffee, tea or beverage of choice and come sit with me as we get comfy and have a chat with the amazing Jeanne Blasberg.

Good Morning Jeanne, thank you for hanging out with me this morning and being a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind.

So now let’s get to it and tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been a writer all my life although EDEN is my debut novel. After graduating fromJeanne Blasberg_-12 Smith College in 1987, I surprised everyone who knew me by accepting a job on Wall Street and embarking on a career in finance.   I’m a firm believer that you are never too old to change course and began studying the art of memoir and the craft of the novel at Grub Street, a wonderful creative writing center in Boston. I am an avid squash player and skier and my husband of 27 years and our grown children all enjoy playing and being active.   We split our time between Boston, MA and Westerly, RI.

 Can you tell us about your books?

 A sweeping family saga, Eden chronicles four generations of Meister Fitzpatrick women from 1915 to 2000. The book centers on an extraordinary family home aptly named after the Biblical paradise. As the novel opens, the family matriarch, Becca, is faced with the loss of this beloved home due to her late husband’s financial missteps. She is also planning to disclose a long-held secret to her extended family over a Fourth of July weekend. Fireworks result from both as family love and loyalties are tested and resentments emerge.

Eden is both a marvelous page turner and a fascinating look at the changing roles and choices available to women throughout the 20th century—and how these choices, or lack of choice, reverberate through generations. Redbook states, “This beautifully written family saga firmly establishes Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg as a rising writer to watch – and it will likely have you liking your family a whole lot more.”

 What inspired you to write your first book?

 I guess you can say the core of this story has been inside me all my life. I am the product of a hasty marriage when my mother got pregnant in college. Later, I met someone who talked openly about his feelings around being adopted. That meeting sparked a lot of “what if’s” for me. What if my mother had chosen not to have me? What if she gave me up? I dwelt on these issues during my early writing life where I wrote personal narrative and memoir.

But being an avid reader, I was driven to emulate the kinds of books I like to read: family sagas, works of fiction, especially those that span big time periods. I like multiple points of view and multiple chronologies. My thought was, if I only write one book in my life, why not write a big one?

 Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Yes there are many anecdotes in the book that are from real life experiences (see above). Several of my matriachs are characters inspired by women in my family.

What was your favorite parts to write and why?

I love to write setting. My scenes are cinematic and the sense of place in EDEN is very poignant. EDEN is a quintessential, New England, shingle-style beach home where four generations summered together over the span of eighty years. After reading my novel, you’ll have picked out your favorite bedroom and may feel you’ve spent every summerEDEN Cover of your life there as well.

How did you come up with the titles?

My original title was “A Garden”, then “Her Father’s Garden”. It was my publisher who convinced me to go with the very profound title : “EDEN.”

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

The best compliment is that my book is a page turner. I do not view criticism as tough or as negative. It is all important feedback as I am developing as a writer.

Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?

The thing about quirky people is that they don’t realize when they are being quirky J

What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?

Hmmm…. I researched a lot about train travel in the early part of the 20th C, the velveteen of the seats the names of the linens – that’s not very strange, though!

Give us an interesting fun fact about your book.

Everything in my book is fictional, however the setting is based on the town where I live in Rhode Island. The large stone home where the residents of Long Harbor weather the 1938 hurricane is actually my father’s home and all of the events that took place there are based on oral histories. The large Italianate villa is named Sunset Hill and the original owner was indeed, Mary Thaw Thompson.

 Do you work with an outline, or just write?

For my first draft I just write and write and then at some point later on, I need to organize everything and I create an outline.

Can you tell us about your experiences in getting your first book published?

It was a long, drawn out, difficult process. The book was re-written and revised many time after a long series of rejections from agents. I worked very hard on learning the craft of the novel and improving my book. I thought about giving up on several occasions.   I finally found an agent at a writing conference called the Muse and the Marketplace in Boston. We really hit it off and had a great discussion about my goals as an author. April Eberhardt, my agent, helped me sift through the different publishing options and I ended up publishing my book with She Writes Press which is an independent, hybrid model in Berkeley, CA.

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I started writing in 2008 and finished in 2015. Yikes!!

How did you choose the genre you write in?

I love reading fiction, historical fiction most specifically. I wanted to emulate the type of books I am a fan of reading.

Where do you get your ideas?

My ideas and characters are based on my life experiences and then I extrapolate from there!

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way

The Big House by George Howe Colt was an enormous influence to me in the way that the house was a character in his work of non-fiction. I try to achieve the same thing in EDEN. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible was written in multiple points of view and reading that made we want to attempt the same thing. I was influenced by John Steinbeck’s East of Eden in terms of creating a biblical allegory.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

It is really easy to get discouraged. Don’t let other people get you down, and don’t give up. Make a regular practice of writing and stick with it. Your writing will improve, just put in the hours and read as much as you can!

What is your favorite quote or saying?

It is a little corny, but my niece reminded me of this favorite recently: “The past is history, the future is a mystery, but the present is a gift, that’s why it’s called a present.”

 Tea or coffee? Mint Tea!!

Sweet or salty? Salty!

Would you like to share with us a passage that will give us a glimpse into the world you built?

Even though Becca could be accustomed to life without her husband, a life without EdenEDEN Cover was an entirely different story. Even during the winter, the sheer notion of this place had buoyed her as much as the physical house did during the summer. Eden transcended time as the receptacle of the family’s legends and most vivid memories. She associated Eden with love and tradition, a link between the generations, and it made her sad to think that Sarah’s baby would miss the opportunity to run through its cool grass.

Would you mind sharing with us the best way to stay in touch with you and where to learn more about your books?

Website:  www.jeanneblasberg.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jeanneblasbergauthor/

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15746550.Jeanne_McWilliams_Blasberg

Twitter: @JeanneBlasberg

LinkdIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeanne-blasberg-10942a13/

Instagram: @JeanneBlasbergauthor

Alright folks, it is that time again but I would like to say a heart felt thank you to Jeanne for sharing with us and spending some time in her world today.  Also, I would like to say a big thank you to the lovely readers out there for joining in and taking a moment to support your Authors.

If you or any of you know of someone who would like to be a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind, please send me a message or email me, kadecook.author@gmail.com.
Enjoy your Friday folks, you are awesome and please remember to be kind to your Authors, leave a review. See you in a couple of weeks, Peace.

 

 

 

 

Inside A Beautiful Mind – Dee Wilson

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Good Morning Everyone and happy Friday

Welcome to Inside A Beautiful Mind.

For those of you who have been here before, go grab your coffee, tea or beverage of choice and come sit with me as we get comfy and have a visit with my new friend Dee Wilson.

Good Morning Dee, thank you for hanging out with me this morning and being a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind.
For those of you who don’t know, Dee and I were recently contenders in the 2017 Kobo Emerging Writers competition and Dee was awarded the winners prize. Just want to take this moment to say a HUGE Congrats to you on winning. Amazing accomplishment, so proud of you.

So now let’s get to it and tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

Me, in numbers… I’m a redhead, and meet all the requirements of such. I run two Dee Willson Photo 3, Color, Web Sizebusinesses. I have two beautiful daughters. Hubby and I are celebrating twenty years. I love to read and write. I am the author of two books, with another two on the way.

Can you tell us about your books?

I am the author of A Keeper’s Truth, and GOT (Gift of Travel). I am currently working on the second installment of A Keeper’s Truth, titled The Truth Enslaved, and a quirky coming-of-age identy struggle titled No Apology For Being.

What inspired you to write your first book, A Keeper’s Truth?

A Keeper’s Truth came to me in a dream, and wouldn’t let go. The urge to note what I’d seen and heard in my sleep was strong, and I found myself writing a novel before the concept really entered my mind. I guess you can say I was compelled, versus inspired.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
There are scenes inspired by events in my life, but the characters and situations are not details I’ve experienced personally. One of my favorite scenes (in the book) describes a moment I shared with a stranger in a mall, when my daughter was a baby. A woman approached me insisting my daughter was an old soul, that she’d lived many lives. She claimed my daughter “knows things.” Quite freaky at the time, but has meaning in hindsight. Or could have meaning, should one attempt to interpret the concept.

What was your favorite parts to write and why?
Hmm… I think my favorite scenes to write were between Bryce and Thomas, the two leading men. They have a complicated history, so there is all this tension, and hidden subtleties that could only come through during dialogue. They are also very strong personalities, making their dialogue fun to write.

How did you come up with the titles?
I never seem to struggle with titles. Or character names. They are just there, like they are part of the story waiting to be told. Sometimes, as is the case with No Apology For Being, the title comes to me on a whim, and then I hear all or parts mentioned in conversations, or on television, or on the radio, and I sort of feel like the universe is trying to tell me I’m onto something. LOL.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
We live in a world where money, success, and acclaim are tightly entwined. I think the toughest criticism to take as an author, is to see how little money your work is (sometimes) worth. To others, anyway. And I am, hands down, my worst critic. The best KOBO Awards Ceremony, 2017compliment was winning the Kobo Best Canadian Emerging Writer Award. I would like to say the pat on the back isn’t necessary, but it really does feel good.

Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
My worst habit is not writing at all. I live a busy life, and I wish writing could always take the front seat, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I can’t write with noise or chaos happening around me. I’m not good at staying focused. I have to write in a different room than where I work, so I don’t get distracted by email and paperwork calling my name. LOL.

What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?
What it feels like to die. Like the actual feel of it. How would this ever really be documented, anyway? LOL.

Give us an interesting fun fact about your book.

The original draft of A Keeper’s Truth was twenty thousand words over the published version, and took me less than ten weeks to write. Learning what I’d done wrong, however, and how to edit those overwritten words, took me almost four years, and countless more words as notes. Writing is one thing. Learning to write well is another altogether.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

A Keeper’s Truth was written on a whim. The first draft, anyway. I learned my lesson, however, and wrote GOT (Gift of Travel) with a clear outline. No Apology For Being is outlined as well, to the point where the story is written before it’s written. I find this allows me to focus on the words, the sentence structure, the characters, without getting caught up in the plot or loose ends.

Can you tell us about your experiences in getting your first book published?
I signed with an agent of a reputable firm, but her personal struggles overtook her career and I found myself unrepresented within a year. A Keeper’s Truth was sold to Driven Press. They are a small imprint with big dreams. I love what they aim for, what they represent, and how they support me and my writing. They listened to my opinion regarding the publishing details of A Keeper’s Truth, and I’m not convinced I would have felt the same love from a bigger publisher. That said, their size makes distribution and marketing difficult. Every author should do their homework, and decide what route is best for them. This even changes with future works, as our writing career isn’t stagnant.

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I have my first rejection letter from Berkley Publishing. I keep it framed, to remind me of the long path I’ve taken. I was fifteen. I didn’t finish the first draft of A Keeper’s Truth until I was in my thirties. I often say that writing took the slowly marinated route to me.AKT e-book cover final 1400x2100

How did you choose the genre you write in?
I write genre? LOL. I write the story that comes to me. Genre is for marketing teams and retailers. That said, I tend to write similar to what I like to read, which is fast pace books that cross genre lines and blur rules. I like to think outside the box, and stuff formula under the carpet.

Where do you get your ideas?
They come to me on a breeze. Anytime. Anywhere. Usually they start with some silly notion or curiosity. GOT (Gift of Travel), for example, was brought to me by roadkill. Yep, you read that right, roadkill. I was on a road trip with the kids and couldn’t believe the number of poor dead animals on the side of the road. Here I was, this selfish human being, driving my car through mountains and forests, while they had their lives brutally stripped by passing death-mobiles, just so we could get from point A to point B on a tight schedule. I found myself apologizing to each and every one. And GOT was born.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way?
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Hands down, the best book ever written, in my mind. I have at least four copies, each battered from use, and refuse to admit how many times I’ve read and reread the book in its entirety, never mind specific pages. Every author could learn A LOT reading this book.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write because you love to, because a story calls to you. Write because you can’t imagine doing anything else with your time. Not only will your future readers feel the love that you feel, but you’ll have gained something more valuable than money or praise. The craft in itself is a gift. Enjoy every moment.

What is your favorite quote or saying?
“Fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment.”

Tea or coffee?
Tea. No caffeine.

Sweet or salty?
Both. Ideally, together.

Would you like to share with us a passage that will give us a glimpse into the world you built?
Every one of us has a soul. Some are new, some old, and a few, the dangerous, are lost. But only twelve know why we have a soul at all. Only twelve remember mankind’s forbidden past.

Would you mind sharing with us the best way to stay in touch with you and where to learn more about your books?
Absolutely!
Website: www.deewillson.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dee.willson.52
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/DeeWillson
Twitter: @denisewillson

Alright folks, it is that time again but I would like to say a heart felt thank you to Dee Wilson for sharing with us and spending some time in her world today. Once again Congrats to you on a job well done. Keep your eyes on her.

Also, I would like to say a big thank you to the lovely readers out there for joining in and taking a moment to support your Authors.

If you or any of you know of someone who would like to be a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind, please send me a message.
Enjoy your Friday folks, you are awesome and please remember to be kind to your Authors, leave a review. See you in a couple of weeks, Peace.

Shadow Talkers and the Covenant of WHAT? #shadowtalkers

So I did something the other night. I made the first Episode of a series called “Shadow Talkers and the Covenant of What?”.

It is just a show on the fun side of life. It is an idea that manifested with my best friend Jenna McLean one day over a couple of beverages.  In this series we will discuss everything from different flavors of Oreos to books and what not.

Anyway, sometimes you just have to make fun of yourself and what better way to do that then on Youtube for the whole world to see.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

(We are looking for questions from the public so feel free to post them below and we will do a Q&A Episode down the road on ST & TCOW). Big hugs,

K

 

Inside A Beautiful Mind – Crystal MM Burton

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Good Morning Everyone and happy Friday

Welcome to Inside A Beautiful Mind.
For those of you who have been here before, go grab your coffee, tea or beverage of choice and come sit with me as we get comfy and have a most enchanting chat with my friend Crystal MM Burton.
Good Morning Crystal, thank you for hanging out with me this morning and being a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind.
So let’s get right to it, can you tell me a little bit about yourself.
Thank you for having me today! My name is Crystal, and I write under my real name, Crystal MM Burton. I live in the small, rural town of Lott, Texas, with my husband, our three children, and my Yorkie. If you were to 19911682_10154681459586475_1379521768_oask anyone about me, they’d probably tell you I’m a fangirl. I find it very easy to slip into fictional worlds and I often lose myself wishing they were real. I don’t have the time or space to list them all, but my main fandom is Doctor Who. It stands to reason that I was destined to create my own fictional worlds, too. I’ve self-published a children’s book (Mommy, What Is the Moon?) and I’ve been published in multiple anthologies and collaborative novels, but my first solo novel is in the works now.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
I’m one of those authors who has a whole folder dedicated to project ideas and starter chapters. But my main project, The World Soul, is a high fantasy series following a forest-dwelling exile on her quest to find the four elemental heartsouls and replenish the life energy of the world. My series is full of two unique breeds of mermaids, stone giants, a winged race, forest-dwellers, and of course, humans.
How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
Harder than it should have been, to be honest. I don’t usually have an issue with sitting down and at least knocking out a rough draft. But with my novel series, my passion held me back. I was so worried about writing it wrong that I spent more time fussing over the outline than actually writing the story. I wanted it to be perfect. That still holds me back sometimes.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
Both, depending on the story. If I’m using a writing prompt, I just get a base idea in my head and let the prompt guide me. It’s a creative exercise for me. But if I have a real, solid idea for a story, I’ll sit down and do an eight-point plot outline to make sure my story has all the dramatic arcs and emotional elements it needs.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
I’m much more open with my thoughts. More confident in my ideas. When I first started writing, I was terrified of what people would think and how they would judge me. Nowadays, I take pride in my ideas and the way I portray them. This is my future and my legacy. I don’t want to lead readers around their own back yards, I want to lead them through jungles and under the oceans and to new, exciting places that only exist in my books.
What is the most important thing about a book, in your opinion?
Being relatable. When I read a book, I want to know that if I took the place of the main character, a lot of the events in the story wouldn’t change, because I’d do the same things, make the same mistakes, fall in love with the same people. I want secondary characters that I love to hate because I can understand them. Characters I’d want to be friends with. Characters I’d want to strangle because they remind me of someone I know. When we as readers can compare our lives to a book in some way, no matter how small, it gives us a connection. That’s so important.
Do your novels carry a message?
They do. Many messages, though not all of them are obvious.
Never lose hope; it’s the greatest motivator of all time. Be yourself. Find your balance and your world will have meaning. Dedicate your life to something greater than yourself. And never judge someone without knowing their side of the story.
How much of yourself do you put into your books?
All of me. Each character has something in common with me, even if it’s just a quirk or habit or hobby. A shared opinion or belief. A lot of authors do this without realizing it; I do it on purpose. It all goes back to relatability.
How realistic are your books?
They’re not as realistic as other genres (I do write about mermaids and stone giants, after all). However, I’m a firm believer that if something exists in a fantasy world, it should at least follow the same laws of physics that our world adheres to. If it’s too “out there,” it loses a big part of what keeps the reader comfortable. Yes, they want to escape, but they also want a world they can make sense of.
What is that one thing you think readers generally don’t know about your specific genre?
I don’t think many fantasy readers realize just how similar their fantasy worlds are to our own. I’ve mentioned before that readers tend toward fantasy to escape the real world, but nearly every successful fantasy story still has human elements and traits. Realistic notions and events. Political drama, domestic drama, rivalries, hopelessness. We escape it at home only to dive into it in a book, just because it’s not ours. It’s sugar-coated in magical creatures, spells, and far-off lands, but it’s the same thing.
How liberal are you in term of expressing ideas in your books?
If my characters require it, I’ll write it. There are many differing ideals, opinions, personalities, and cultures in my books. I have no problem writing any of them because they aren’t “me.” I would hope that anyone who knows of me would be able to differentiate between my personal ideals and those of my fictional characters.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Getting it right. For some reason, I always seem to forget that I can always go back and add things in and rearrange. I get so caught up in not forgetting to include anything and in finding the right words that I get stuck. It’s part of my OCD, I think. Being a perfectionist is a huge challenge as a writer.
Writers are often believed to have a muse; what are your thoughts on that?
I think we all call it something different. Some people call it a muse, some call it their dreams, others just call it what it is: their imagination. The thing is, no one really knows where our ideas come from, so it’s almost comforting to imagine a magical deity whispering in our ears. I often make comments about my muse, treating her like a close friend. Many of my ideas stem from my dreams, so I tend to call my muse “the girl of my dreams.” Do I honestly believe there’s an otherworldy being feeding me all my ideas? No. Does it help me to personify the creative side of my brain? Definitely.
What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
I have, actually. Quite often. The first collaborative work I participated in was a zombie fiction novel called Bit. I worked alongside five other authors, and that story turned out fantastically science-fiction-y. It will be published next year (2018).
I’ve also participated in what is called the Collaborative Writing Challenge, a program that brings masses of writers together under the guide of a story coordinator to collaborate on a novel. I’ve had chapters selected for four CWC projects to date, each one a different genre: sci-fi, drama/mystery, fantasy, and steampunk.
I think all authors should try at least once to collaborate on a writing project. The point of it doesn’t have to be something publishable, nor does it even need to be entirely coherent. Ultimately, it just makes a great writing exercise and helps you grow as a writer. The challenge to it is that you don’t have full control. Your characters take on a life of their own, because they’re being manipulated by multiple writers. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without my experience in collaborative writing.
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Do you plan on owning a publishing house?
Yes and no. I am the creator and co-founder of Imagine House, an indie publishing imprint. I teamed up with my friend and fellow author Jae Dawn to create this company, but we’re not a traditional publisher. As we like to say, we’re more of a club. We can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and our website, imaginehouse.co. We focus on fantasy, but we encourage reading and writing in all genres. If you can dream it, you can write it. It’s like I always say… “As I imagine, so shall it be.”
Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?
For the past eight years, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom. I have three kids—two boys and a girl—and raising them is a full-time job in itself. However, being a mother is not a career path. Which is why, in August 2016, I officially became a freelance fiction editor, and I love it. I had spent seven months as the Editing Director for a small press, so I had the skill and experience, and working for myself gives me the ability to set my own hours. The only downside I can think of is that I spend more time working on other people’s stories than my own, but that’s still pretty great.
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
For each of my stories, I first write it, revise it, pass it to beta readers, revise it once more, then toss it to a professional editor for the final pass. Even though I’m an editor myself, my work always needs to go to someone else for edits. No matter how great you think you might be, everyone needs an editor. As the creators, we’re just too close to our own work. We’ll miss things. I know editors can be expensive, but I strongly urge all writers to save up for a real editor. Trust me—self-publishing has the sad reputation it does because of self-publishers who thought they could do it themselves.
What do you do in your free time?
Ha! Free time! You’re funny. Everyone knows that’s just a myth.
If I did have any free time, though, I’d be tending to my garden, spending time with the animals, crocheting, having endless Netflix binges, gaming, or learning. I’m always learning. If it could be said that I have a single passion, it’s for knowledge.
What is the dream goal you want to achieve before you die?
My dream goal is to be published by one of the Big Five. I want to be a household name, like Tolkien, Rowling, Martin, or Jordan; I want people to hear “Burton” or “World Soul” and know that it’s me. I have a very strong feeling—hope, I think—that the Big Five can get me there. I’ve had my eye on Tor Fantasy since the day I decided to be a writer.
What advice would you like to pass on to young writers of today that is unconventional but true?
The best rule of writing is that there are no real rules. Yes, you will always have grammar rules. You can’t get around those. But most writing “rules” are just guidelines for beginners. Things like “no prologues,” or “don’t open with a dream,” or “don’t kill the dog.” They’re not hard laws, just strong suggestions. The trick is to figure out why someone says not to kill the dog, then determine if you have a solid reason for doing it. Anything can work in a story if done well. So, learn all the “rules” and why they exist before determining which rules you want to break.
How about sharing some of your book with us? Maybe a passage that will give us a glimpse into the world you built.
I’m still in a heavy outlining stage, and I’ve only written a few small sections that aren’t ready for the world just yet. But I’d love to tell you more about my books.
My series is based on one idea: the eyes are the windows to the soul. Except, that window doesn’t always lead to your own. Tarenya is an exile whose eyes lead directly to the world soul itself. When the stars begin to go out, she is set on a quest to find the heartsouls of the elements and restore the life energy of the world. Her traveling companions throughout the story include a dashing human pirate, First Mate Tennison, a young stone giant, Mmrmr, and the Salcean princess, Breann.
There are seven races in my world. The first one you’ll meet is the forest-dwelling Avendii. They are a bit shorter than the average human, have emerald-green eyes, and have a cat-like resemblance and antlers. They guard the Heart of Forest.
The second is the Elvik. They live in the mountains and their dark skin is as tough as diamond. They have fiery orange eyes and are said to have descended from the stone giants themselves. They guard the Heart of Stone.
The stone giants, the third race, are born of the mountain and named for the sounds rocks make when they collide. The only three still known to exist are young brothers, Mmrmr, Tktk, and Drrg. The landmass of the world was rumored to have been created when the great stone father died.
The fourth is the Salceans—the merfolk. They are nothing like traditional mermaids, though; they aren’t part fish. Their lower halves are similar to a dugong, and their upper halves resemble thick humans with golden hair and deep blue eyes. They were bred as a cross between humans and the deadly Zimwahar, the original merfolk (the fifth race). We see the Zimwahar in book two, but they’re not pretty. Their teeth alone would give you nightmares. The Salceans are said to guard the Heart of Sea.
The sixth race is the Tl’ys. These exotic, birdlike people are thin and pale with wide feathered wings and light-purple eyes. Their hair is either pure white or the deepest black, with no other shades between. They used to guard the Heart of Wind until the queen depleted its energy to maintain her and her son’s immortality. The Dark Prince is the ultimate antagonist in my story, hunting down the other heartsouls to keep himself alive.
The seventh is, of course, the humans. They couldn’t be trusted to guard a heartsoul, and for good reason. They are spread across the land, each village unique unto itself, and not all of them placing their belief in the world soul’s existence. They don’t even all believe in magic. The fate of the world soul depends on them, though, because it was a human witch who set everything in motion over two hundred years ago.
Anyway, that’s a crash-course on the worldbuilding of The World Soul. I wish I could give you a planned release date, but to be honest, when the first book is finished, I’ll be submitting it to agents and publishers in my quest for Tor.
But if you’d like to stay updated on my progress and my journey as a writer, you can follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/crystalmmburton and subscribe to my website at crystalmmburton.com. 
Thank you so much for having me today!
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Alright folks, it is that time again but I would like to say a heart felt thank you to Crystal MM Burton for sharing with us and spend some time in her world today. Keep your eyes on her.
Also, I would like to say a big thank you to the lovely readers out there for joining in and taking a moment to support your Authors.
If you or any of you know of someone who would like to be a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind, please send me a message.
Enjoy your Friday folks, you are awesome and please remember to be kind to your Authors, leave a review. See you in a couple of weeks, Peace.