Monday, June 26, 2017

Interview with historical fiction author Megan Easley-Walsh

Historical fiction author Megan Easley-Walsh joins me today to chat about her new suspense, Flight Before Dawn.

Bio:
Megan Easley-Walsh is a bestselling author of historical fiction, a researcher, and a writing consultant and editor at Extra Ink Edits. She is an award-winning writer and has taught college writing in the UNESCO literature city of Dublin, Ireland. Her degrees are in history-focused International Relations. She is American and lives in Ireland with her Irish husband.

Welcome, Megan. Please tell us about your current release.
Flight Before Dawn is the first novel that I wrote and it's recently become a bestseller. It begins in Normandy, France in the autumn of 1943 and explores the story of Victoire, a female leader in the French Resistance. When Leal, a man she's had watched for over two years, arrives on her doorstep, he uncovers a twenty-five-year-old secret with Victoire at its heart.

What inspired you to write this book?
I grew up in an Air Force family and lived in Germany from the ages of nine to eighteen. I walked the beaches of Normandy and took part in a service project with Girl Scouts and French Scouts each Memorial Day, where we honored the veterans and decorated the largest American cemetery from WWII in Europe in St. Avold, France. History was thus incredibly palpable. All of my writing is motivated by a desire to encourage peace. I write historical fiction full of suspense and hope. We can learn from the past, be inspired by their courage, and create a better world today and for the future.


Excerpt from Flight Before Dawn:
       Part One
Autumn 1943
Normandy, France
Betrayed. I was always so careful and trusted so few. I never let myself get close to the “wrong” people. Yet, somehow, despite all that, I was betrayed. There are a thousand secrets in war. I have held many. Never did I suspect that as I guarded my secrets, someone else harbored a closely guarded secret with me at the center— a secret that's remained hidden for twenty-five years.
— Victoire

Chapter One


Pebbles slipped beneath Victoire's feet as she moved deeper into the cave. The waves lapped against her boots, urging her on in her steps. Shortly, the tide would wash over the area, but the contents of her pocket burned with greater compulsion.
A lone dog barked in the distance, reminding Victoire that others could also creep among the shadows. She had but one guarantee: danger. Moonlight served as a lantern, beckoning her farther into the cavern of solace. Her right hand lifted to trace the stones that she had touched countless times before.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine,” she counted, her lips barely moving to ward off any breath escaping. In Victoire’s nightmares, she would trip and let out a small gasp that echoed through the cave before resonating across the beach and over the sleeping residents of the village. Her gasp thundered over the countryside and amplified over the cities, until at last it arrived in Hitler’s ear.
“Victoire, you knew you could not escape me. You knew I would find you,” he would sneer, his mustache twitching, as he erupted in villainous laughter.
“Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen,” her counting continued. At stone forty-four, she tapped it twice and pushed it back. A little golden key glimmered from the moon’s glow. Her pale fingers retrieved the metal, as she kept her other hand on the stone. For a moment, she held it to her heart and then slid it into the pocket of her coat. So many depended on her. So much rested on this secrecy.
“One, two, three, four.” She removed the fourth stone and then the two to the left and right of it and then the three above and below it. Reaching into the gaping hole, her hand brushed an oak box and she removed it from its location. The key turned in the sturdy lock and the box clicked open to reveal its contents.
She lifted a small notebook and recorded a few markings. A solitary golden coin then slipped from her fingers, to be deposited into the box along with the notebook. Locking the box and returning it to its location, Victoire placed the stones back into their positions and prepared to leave the cave. She remained close to the wall on the way out, so as not to attract anyone else who was also breaking curfew this evening or, more importantly, anyone who was enforcing it. Some of the soldiers delighted in showing off the moon from these sandy stretches, to the local women they set their sights on. The French were not considered untermenschen, an inferior people, but France was undeniably occupied.
A scattering of clouds filled the expanse of night above Victoire's head, as she pulled the scarf closer around her to fend off the coolness of the autumnal evening breeze. She hurried toward her home at the edge of town, avoiding the illuminated sandy reaches. Leaning on the stone wall, she looked to the lunar lantern to see if it might somehow mercifully dim its glow. A dog was barking again, but this time it sounded closer.
Her back to the wall, Victoire inched toward the stony stairs leading away from the beach and up to the town. She was halfway up the stairs, when a branch snapped against her face. Catching her balance after the surprise, she pushed the branch back into place with one hand. With the back of her other hand, she wiped the water droplets from her face that had cascaded from the falling limb.
No sooner had she distanced herself from the branch, then she found herself flattening herself against the bush again. The lights of a car on the road ahead were flooding the steps in a basking glow. She held her breath as her heart pounded in her chest, like a thousand horses in the American cowboy movies that she had seen before the war. Flames lapped at her lungs. She was convinced there would not be enough oxygen to last.
Half-praying, half-consoling herself, the words coursed through her veins,
Come on, just a little longer. Please let them go now. It’s all right. Almost there. Please. Please. Please.
Curving toward her, the light spread to the hem of Victoire's coat. Surrounded in an amber glow, she would be discovered. On suspicion, she would be detained and questioned. Relentlessly, the questions would fire at her like the machine guns of the Wehrmacht. She was certain of it. Convinced of the irony of her name and that no victory would come to her, she prepared to meet her fate.
Seconds slowing turned to minutes and at last the car turned— not toward her, but away from her. She did not allow herself to breathe, until the car had disappeared completely around the corner. Raindrops began to fall, as if the clouds too had been holding their breath and could breathe freely once again. Nearing the top of the stairs she turned toward home, thankful that the car had driven in the opposite direction. Tucking her hands into her pockets, she continued down the path. Skittish, but trying to remain in the momentary calm, she planted her eyes on her shoes.
A noise mixed with the sound of rain hitting the ground and bouncing against the buildings. Footsteps were gaining on Victoire. There was nowhere that she could retreat into. Well aware of the trouble she would face, if caught outside after curfew, she had no choice but to continue her journey. If only those steps had some way to identify themselves. Were they the small feet of some grandmother returning from church? Perhaps, they were the measured strides of another Resistance worker. Just as likely though, they could belong to Nazi feet.
She hastened her steps, without trying to appear as if it were for any reason other than the rain. Shuttered windows and steeped roof were in sight. Momentarily, she would be within those sheltered walls of her home. Sitting before the fire, she would savor her tea and evening reading. She would be ordinary and innocent of any accusations. Her hand lifted the latch of the gate. Falling heavy on her ears, the footsteps were much louder. Without turning her back, she opened the gate to her home.
Please, keep going. Keep walking.
The footsteps did not obey her.
“Pardon me,” a male voice punctuated the night air. Investing her safety in ignoring him, she continued walking.
“Pardon me,” he said again, in a slightly louder voice this time. Onward she moved, another step toward the door. A hand reached out and touched her shoulder, stopping her in her tracks. For the second time that night, Victoire was certain she had been caught and prepared to face her fate.



What exciting story are you working on next?
All of my published novels are historical fiction, but they take place within a variety of sub-genres.

My second novel, What Edward Heard, tells the story of a returned veteran from WWI to England and the mysterious Renaissance painting that he encounters and features magical realism. North Star Home tells the story of Ann Scarlet's adventure to get back her family's land deed and the romantic turn her life takes when she encounters the sheriff. It is my most straightforward love story. Across the River tells the story of suspense on both sides of the Atlantic in 1774 and love that knows no bounds, when the daughter of a lord is kidnapped and must find her way back home to the man she loves... but only if freedom is not too tempting to make her stay. My upcoming release, my fifth novel, is Painted Faces. In 1938, Vivian is desperate to become an actress, while on the other side of the world a brother and sister are just trying to escape the growing antisemitism of Budapest. Only one place will allow them all to realize their goals: Hollywood! I also have an e-book available of writing tips and tricks.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have been writing all of my life. I made up my first story before I could physically write, at the age of three, and my mom recorded it for me. I would say I became an author when I finished my first novel, Flight Before Dawn.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am an author, writing consultant and editor, and a researcher. As I told someone recently, “My days are surrounded by books”. She replied, “And you like it that way.” She was correct.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to make sure that I have enough time to set aside to complete a book when I start one, as I don't like to leave my characters in peril for too long. They have sped up in telling their stories to me as well, as I wrote the first four novels by hand and then typed them, but in the fifth novel I had to switch to typing as the story was coming out quicker than I could write. As it says on my website, I befriend characters in need of an author.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I knew I wanted to write a published book.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks very much for your interest in me and my books. I love hearing from readers. You can contact me at Megan@MeganEasleyWalsh.com. If you read something and enjoy it, I greatly appreciate reviews on Goodreads or retail sites and they allow new readers to find me. If you're a writer yourself and would like help with the writing process or editing your manuscript, please get in touch.

Links:

Newsletter of the most up-to-date book information, historical happenings, seasonal celebrations, writing tips and more.

Thanks, Megan!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Interview with writer Patrick A. Roland

Welcome, readers. My special guest today is writer Patrick A. Roland. He’s chatting with me about his memoir, Unpacked Sparkle.

Bio:
Patrick A. Roland is an award-winning journalist, author, and editor with 21 years of mainstream media, specialty publication, corporate and public relations experience.

Unpacked Sparkle chronicles Patrick Roland's transformative journey upon finding his partner Pack dead in January 2014. It begins on the day of the funeral that he was uninvited to by Pack's homophobic family and details the nearly two-year journey back to a now thriving, joy-filled life he experienced as a result. It discusses addiction and the recovery from it, grief and the journey to acceptance that ensued, the family dynamics and DNA that resulted in a live-saving bi-polar diagnosis, and the importance of civil rights and marriage equality. This miraculous journey is threaded together by a tapestry of amazing friends who helped him find his way back to happiness, where he remains putting his hand out to others in search of their own sparkle.

The author hopes that by sharing his experience and strength with readers, they will find hope. He believes everyone deserves to sparkle. Let's take this journey together so you can unpack yours.

For more information, visit www.unpackedsparkle.com.
To reach the author, write patrick@unpackedsparkle.com.

Welcome, Patrick. Please tell us about your current release.
Unpacked Sparkle documents the nearly 2-year period after I found my partner dead in our home one January morning in 2014. In the 8 days following, his extremely homophobic family raided our home without my permission, kicked me out of it and disinvited me from the funeral. Unable to grieve him, I turned to drugs as a "solution" to my pain. The intersection of grief and addiction was a dangerous place that eventually took me to the 26th floor of a Vegas casino, where I almost jumped out of a window. My mother - who I never told where I was and who has dementia I might add - somehow found me and called the police and I was hospitalized against my will. I have been sober since (now over 2 years), and my new life in sobriety is nothing short of a miracle.

What inspired you to write this book?
I think initially I wanted to write myself out of pain. In getting it all out of me, I found the power in everything that had happened. I wasn't really sure for a long time if this was just going to be this thing that I did for myself, or if I was going to release it, but I came to realize that there were others struggling with similar issues - especially grief - that perhaps I could help through my story. I feel like this is less about me and what I went through and more about me and what I got through. I want people to realize that no matter what they are facing, they can. It starts with loving yourself. I know that sounds really simplistic and maybe even cliche but so many of us - especially addicts and alcoholics - are not able to love ourselves. We think we are bad because of what we do or what we have done. But we are not - we are people with a disease who do recover and our addiction can become a beautiful blessing in our life if we do the work to make it so.


Excerpt from Unpacked Sparkle:
The very things in life you are the most afraid of are the very things that bring the most growth. It's in facing those intimidating and unrelenting fears that we become who we are. The other side of fear is always a miracle. Magic isn't created when you are comfortable, it manifests when you are not.


What exciting story are you working on next?
Well, life is kind of unfolding at the moment. I still want to turn Unpacked Sparkle into a screenplay. I also wrote a children's book, but I think for it to be successful, it needs a good illustrator, which I haven't found yet. My parents are not doing so well health-wise and we are at that point where some major decisions are going to have to be made, so something tells me that my next project will tackle that. A constant theme for me is taking things that seem hard or awful and making them beautiful. I don't let things break me; instead I look at the opportunity for them to make me.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In college I started writing for the newspaper there and people really took to my work; but I think I knew I was really a writer when I was at my first newspaper job right out of college. That very first year, I won a couple of major awards from the state newspaper association. I felt like if I was already winning major awards with such limited experience, I was probably on to something.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I actually do have a full-time job that is centered around writing but it is totally separate from my literary career. I've been employed as a writer my entire career - 20 years now. Finding the time to write is hard, especially since I have a full-time job and several commitments in the 12-step program that keeps me sober. I was kind of lucky that Unpacked Sparkle spilled out of me the way it did. It felt like I went through what I did because I was supposed to do this - like I was realizing my life purpose. That's pretty cool.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I wrote the entire book in the "Notes" section of my iPhone. I only used a computer during the final editing process.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a therapist actually. But when I got to college, I realized I was going to be in school for like 10 years and I wasn't very excited about that, so I picked writing because I figured I could still help people. I guess I just always wanted to help people really.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I want people to know that no matter how bad it seems it's never worth giving up. I'm living proof that you can turn your life around after a rough time. There are people all around you that will help you if you ask for it. But more importantly YOU are capable of more strength and power than you ever thought possible. All you have to do is love yourself. Even if you think you can't - and I get it because I was there once too - you can. You are beautiful and you are worth it. Don't ever forget how much you sparkle.

Links:

Thanks for being here today, Patrick.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Interview with poet Vijaya Gowrisankar


Poet Vijaya Gowrisankar joins me today. We’re talking about her new collection of poems, Savour – Art and Poetry meet.

Bio:
Vijaya’s fourth book of poems, Savour – Art and Poetry meet was published on April 30, 2017. Her first three books of poems, Inspire, Reflect, and Explore are best sellers. Her submissions have been published in Silver Birch Press, Nancy Drew Anthology, Poetry Marathon 2016 Anthology, Sometimes Anyway: Pride in Poetry Volume II, Forwardian, Triadae Magazine, iWrite India, Dystenium Online, and Taj Mahal Review anthologies. She has appeared as guest speaker in colleges. A participant in the Poetry Marathon 2016 (24 poems in 24 hours, 1 poem per hour), she has reviewed and edited poetry and fiction books. She participated in NaNoWriMo 2016 and completed her first novel in November 2016.

Welcome, Vijaya. What do you enjoy most about writing poems?
Poetry gives me freedom of expression. When I adhere to a poetry form, it gives structure to my thoughts and helps me enhance it. I love the ability to let my thoughts ride wings of freedom.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your poems – perhaps a couple of your favorites?

Painted dreams (from my second book of poems, Reflect)

It starts as a whiff
floats in imagination
conjures golden wings
soars into vast sky
dreams

Painted in bright colours
changes with mood swings
powerful to overcome obstacles
privilege of every child
faith

Free of shackles of stature
encourages heartfelt fantasy
a world built of positive dreams
inspires to combat every failure
innocence


A white dove (from my third book of poems, Explore)

She flaps her wings, seeking entry to hearts
She draws attention away from hurt’s darts

She urges to dream, as she flies amidst clouds
To explore the heights and hues, away from crowds

She calms the soul, when disappointment rages
She holds firm, like a friend, through tough stages

She smiles on joyous occasions, from behind the scenes
She takes the first step to fight hatred among enemies

She guides in the final journey of release
Unaffected by the darkness, she propagates peace


What form are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
Open Form gives me the most freedom. I learnt the Pantoum form in the Poetry Marathon 2016 last year. I love the rhythm of that form.

What type of project are you working on next?
Currently, I am writing one poem a day and submitting to anthologies. I hope to complete Poetry Marathon 2017. I am reaching out to readers about my fourth book Savour. Savour is a book of ekhprastic poetry, featuring 19 artists, 58 paintings, 73 poems in 20 poetry forms.

When did you first consider yourself a writer / poet?
I used to write in school. I participated and won many prizes in inter-school competitions. I used to send my poems to radio programs and some were read out in the shows. After that, I wrote at will, and sparsely.

I resumed writing in full swing in June 2014 and since then I have been writing at least one poem a day. I guess on November 1st, 2014, when I decided to publish my first book, I considered myself as a writer / poet. I felt I was writing well and my readers would enjoy my work. They would be able to relate to my poems and I felt an acceptance in myself for this love of writing.


How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for not-yet-published poets?
I read a lot. I strive to keep each poem different, each theme different. I try to keep the content of each book different. I ask myself “Why would a reader buy this book? What does it offer differently from the rest of my books?” I am open to ideas and I try to connect with the pulse of contemporary writers, their opinion on what the readers want and the suggestions my readers give me.
I firmly believe in the following two thoughts:
“Our inner voice guides us, we just need to listen to it.”
“Creative wings have the power to change the world.”

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I keep thinking of what to write and zone off when I have a thought in mind. That becomes embarrassing when I am in the middle of a conversation.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I was very unsure what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to do everything – be a teacher one day, an IPS officer the other day, a writer when I read books by Enid Blyton, a tennis player when I watched tennis. I just wanted to be the best at whatever I did. Life just showed its course, and I followed it.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I often hear “Poetry is dead” or “Poetry is hard.” The beauty of poetry is that it is open to the interpretation of the reader. Any art form – visual like painting, sculpture, cinema, dance, music or verbal like stories and poems has the power to touch the viewer or reader’s soul. It connects us with ourself. Each person should identify their creative interest and pursue that, rather than subduing it.

Links:

Thank you for joining me today!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Interview with writer Douglas H. Melloy

Writer Douglas H. Melloy joins me today to talk about spirituality, conscious awareness, psychology, and self help through his new book, Opening to the Realness of God: A Manual for Being Human, The Time is Now for a New Understanding.

Welcome, Douglas. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Became conscious at age five. At age ten decided to resolve anger as an issue. This took 36 years to accomplish at age 46. At age 12 knew I would be a teacher for humanity. At age 18 began meditating. Have studied four forms of martial arts. Have a black belt. Am also a world class musician. Began writing in 1980. Use to write aphorisms, then poetry, then prose. I am wine connoisseur. Have studied extensively. 9 books in print, 18 books written, 7 books in the works. I have moved 63 times and have lived in 6 states. This book is fourth density teaching for humanity. Went to college for two years, then went to a Ph.D. tutor for 3 ½ years. Am a graduate of Inner Bonding.

Please tell us about your current release.
Draws a distinction between God, what created us, what brought us to life, and what conquers, enslaves, and destroys. Also talks about positive and negative energy. Also defines what it is to be human, predatory, and arbitrary as a way of life. The book also talks about personal and social evolution. It explains personal and social ascension. Talks about the importance of doing personal work, meditating, serving others, and aspiring to ascend. Also explains why intuition, psychic abilities, and channeling are important to develop.

What inspired you to write this book?
Is part of my contract for being human. Plus people need this to prepare for fourth density.

Excerpt from Opening to the Realness of God:
When looking at the nature of the Self it is god to begin with issues and talents. Issues need to be resolved and talents developed. From here one is wise to be the love and know the light humanly and personally. There is also understanding how the will of God works consciously. Completing the mix is a working knowledge of God's All Encompassing-ness and the universe's infinity. We humanize all of these differing states of being and knowing. Further complicating the process is the preditor mindset of pain, fear, anger, and hatred that is antithetical to our true human ideal of joy, love, compassion, and kindness.


What exciting story are you working on next?
The next book is titled: Love and Wisdom the Art of Appropriateness. It is almost done.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At age 13.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work part time for a large grocery store. I used to write 8 hours a day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can put into language any idea. Case in point: I read once an article that stated: “Beauty that cannot be defined.” Here's my definition of beauty. Beauty is love and light given representation that reflects back to us the love and light we are so that we can see it.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Fully conscious.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Life can be lived using only 8 words. They are God, life, humanness, and service coupled with oneness, healing, wholeness, and ascension. When combined equal: The oneness of God, healing of life, wholeness of humanness, and ascension of that which serves. These are the only words one needs to work with because they include everything. My writings focus on 3 things. They are knowing the Self according to its Design, serving others as the positive path, and intending to collectively ascend. Negative energy is ending as our planetary base. It is imperative people become positive as the life so lived.

Thank you for your interest in my work.

Links:

Thanks for being here today, Douglas.

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