Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Interview with women's fiction author Grecia Chasteen

My special guest today is author Grecia Chasteen. She was one of three guests this past Sunday from Gator House Publishing to visit The Writer’s Chatroom for a live chat. It was a great time. Today she’s chatting with me about her debut women’s fiction novella, Because of Yesterday.

Grecia Chasteen received her BA in Women, Gender and Sexuality from University of Cincinnati. Grecia resides in Cincinnati, OH with her two children. Grecia has followed her passion of helping others with a career in the Social Work field, working with the homeless population. She is founder of W.I.N (Women, Inspiring and Networking) a community group based in Cincinnati.

Please tell us about your current release.
Because of Yesterday, is a book inspired by true events that happened which makes this work so important to me personally. The book is set up with a woman going to therapy to discuss a current situation she is in but instead of focusing on that situation right away, the therapist discusses past situations. This work discusses topics such as child sexual abuse, domestic violence, sexuality to name some.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write this book because I felt the need to tell my story, so I can start to heal. Once I started writing I realized that my story may inspire others that they are not alone. This book was also meant to help educate those who may not understand how domestic violence can become a cycle or the hurt of child sexual abuse influences who you are as a person.

Excerpt from Because of Yesterday
I sit in my car, staring at the white building debating going in. When I made this appointment, I had so much to say. Now I can’t think of anything to discuss with this lady. How can some stranger help me with my problems? Why am I paying a lady to listen to me talk about nothing? Maybe I will just do this one session and never return. I grab my purse and get out of the car, “Geez, feels like I’m carrying around luggage instead of a purse.” I say aloud. Great, now I’m talking to myself before I see a therapist, how ironic? I shake my head, shutting the door.
I walk into the building and fill out the paperwork given to me by the receptionist. When I finish, she leads me to a back-corner office. The small room has the therapist’s brown framed diplomas on the wall. I sit on the couch and look around the room. The office is organized with very little in it and I can smell vanilla oil burning in the warmer. Looking out the window I see a bird sitting on a tree, I think to myself, how easy life would be if I were a bird.
“Hello, my name is Ms. Jones. How are you today?” The therapist asks, shutting the door and taking a seat across from me.
“Hello, I’m fine.” I respond, feeling a little uneasy, but forcing a smile at the short medium framed woman.
“What brings you in for therapy?”
“Well, I’m currently going through a situation with my partner and I’m not sure what to do. I thought maybe I should come see someone to discuss it. My family also believes I have some issues to work through from my past,” I say, but now questioning if I’ve said too much for a first session.
“Have you ever been to therapy?” Ms. Jones ask.
“No, this is my first time.”
“Ok, well, anything that we discuss here is private unless you mention wanting to hurt yourself or someone else.”
“Why is that?”
 “As a therapist it is my job to make sure you do not hurt yourself or anyone else. This is a safe place where we can talk. Do you feel like your past is affecting your current situation?” She asks, opening a notepad.
“I don’t believe so because I don’t think about it. My past shouldn’t have anything to do with my present, right?”

What exciting story are you working on next?
My exciting story I am working on currently is a follow up book. There’s more to discuss in therapy.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure if I would label myself now as a writer. I love writing, it’s my art form of expressing who I am and what I desire. It’s a way of speaking without being verbal.

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 do not write full-time as a job. I write when I get the urge to write. Writing for me is not forced it happens. I do have a full-time job as a single mother and social worker.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
This is an interesting question because I’ve never thought about it. I tend to listen to music while writing. The music I choose is usually something that allows my mind to get lost, so I am able to just write without overthinking what I am trying or wanting to say.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a 3rd grade teacher as a child. I choose 3rd grade because my teacher allowed me to be quiet and shy. She would never push me or ask me hard questions in front of the class. It wasn’t so much I wanted to teach but I wanted to be who she was.


Thank you so much for visiting today – and for the live Q&A conversation this past Sunday!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Interview with women's fiction author Kristie Booker

Novelist Kristie Booker joins me today and we’re chatting about her new women’s fiction, Blooming Into Life.

During her virtual book tour, Kristie will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky, randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Kristie Booker is the author of Blooming Into Life, a blogger and a Wellness Coach. She enjoys coaching and inspiring women through her writing as well as in person. Kristie is a wife and mother of two sons. She grew up in rural Illinois, but now lives in Chicago.

Welcome, Kristie. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Growing up on a farm in Brockville, Illinois, did not prepare Colleen O’Brien Adler to be the wife of a wealthy entertainment lawyer living in Chicago. It certainly didn’t prepare her to be Dinah Adler’s daughter-in-law. The stay-at-home mother of two has more than she’s ever wanted—a personal stylist, a prestigious country club membership, a multimillion-dollar home—but she finds herself not only struggling with depression and body image but also failing as a parent and fearing for her marriage. Her life is about to change when an invitation to a wellness meeting arrives in her inbox. With some coaxing from personal coach Kory Stone, she commits to a new beginning. But will she be able to overcome the things that are holding her back?

What inspired you to write this book?
My work as a wellness coach focused on helping women lead healthier lives inspired me to write this book. Too many women (myself included) measure their self-worth by the number on the scale, the price tag of their clothing, and the status of the social group they belong to. I came to realize that we do this in the name of acceptance. So, I decided to write a story about how one woman’s desperate need to belong and fit in left her with a broken self-worth.

Excerpt from Blooming Into Life:
            “After several weeks on the medication, some weight loss is expected,” Dr. Bradley had assured her. She had weighed herself that morning. After she removed all of her clothing, emptied her bladder, removed her ponytail holder, blew her nose, emptied her bladder again, spit until she had nothing left to spit, she finally stepped on her brand-new Weight Gurus smart body fat scale. The digital number was as hateful as it had been a week earlier. Dr. Bradley told her to be patient. Colleen felt she was running out of time.
She unzipped the beige garment bag that held her social future. The hand-stitched embroidered silver stars exploded against the dark silk fabric. The two-toned navy silk gave the illusion of wide stripes draping down the skirt of the dress.
“The A-line cut and the tonal stripes create a wonderful slimming effect,” the sales associate had told her. If Colleen could jam herself into the reserve Raina Rose, she was going to stand out. For once, she would be better dressed than Ashley Barr and Victoria Heller. That night, Fourth of July, would be the day of reckoning. She would let Jay and Dinah and the entire club see how beautiful she looked. She would finally be socially accepted within the country club circle, and then she would confront Jay about the woman in Los Angeles. Dinah would think twice about sending Colleen’s invitation late next year.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently working on a story addressing the absurd amount of pressure youth sports organizations put on parents and kids and how adults measure their own self-worth by their child’s performance. Former professional hockey player Matt Klein dies suddenly leaving his beautiful wife Sydney and ten-year-old son Jack behind. Sydney wants to be closer to her parents and her late husband’s best friend – who happens to be the director of Chicago’s elite hockey program. While trying to navigate the politics of the hockey club and deal with the jealous behavior of fellow parents over her son’s hockey talent, she finds herself tangled up with power couple Dr. Pete and Margo Deveraux’s divorce.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I realized I was a writer when I signed up for my first writing workshop about 10 years ago. I was reluctant to call myself that out loud until I finished my first draft of Blooming Into Life.

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?
These days I spend more time on my writing than anything else but I still carve out time for wellness coaching. Depending on the weather or my mood, my typical day begins at my favorite coffee shop, in front of my fireplace or on my front porch writing where I write until lunchtime. After a long walk, I shift gears and focus on marketing and wellness coaching.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can only write when I’m alone or have the perception that I’m alone. The only place I’m able to write with people around is the coffee shop. I think that’s because I find a spot off in the corner where I don’t have to engage with anyone. If my husband, kids or a friend sat across from me, my mind would go blank. Since the same thing happens when I take a writing class, I'm only able to take classes where all the writing happens outside the classroom.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a teacher but the dream of being a writer was always whispering in the background.

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Interview with mystery author Jenny Jackson

Helping me wrap up the week is mystery author Jenny Jackson. We’re chatting about her new novel, The Silence of Knowing.

Jenny Jackson was born in the north of Kent, UK a few months after the end of World War II. Happily married for over 50 years now and with two children and two grandchildren, Jenny currently resides in East Sussex.

Having worked in a comprehensive school for over 20 years, Jenny is now a volunteer for a local charity that works with adults with learning difficulties.

She belongs to local writing group, Shorelink, and enjoys walking in the countryside with friends.

Jenny claims an addiction to strong tea, but hates coffee, and is annoyed as the way the passage of time is definitely speeding up.

Please tell us a little bit about your debut novel release.
In a small Kentish village in 1952, eleven-year-old twins are thrilled when an American teacher arrives at their village school, suspecting him of being their absent father. Josie, who has been born mute, communicates through her writing and details the adventure that leads her and her brother and their two best friends into an adult world of dark secrets which land them in a life-threatening situation.

What inspired you to write this story?
Memories of my own upbringing in Kent and the specific memory of a school friend who lived with her mother and grandparents. I was told that her father wasn’t dead but that he had had to go and live in another country. Not a lie, as her father had actually been an American G.I.

You can read an excerpt here.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A longer novel in the same genre, this time with a male protagonist.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Writing has always been a now and then hobby but once I joined my writing group, Shorelink Writers, I found my work was being taken seriously and it is thanks to my fellow members’ encouragement that I wrote the book.

Do you write full-time?
Although retired, I am a part-time writer as I seem to be busier than ever. I write mainly when I am alone in the house with no distractions.

Please tell us about an interesting quirk.
I can only work when the place is completely silent. Initially, I write with a propelling pencil in a notebook.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An author! It’s only taken me 60 years...


Thanks for being here today, Jenny.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Interview with YA author L. B. O'Milla

My special author guest today is L. B. O’Milla and we’re chatting about her new middle-grade YA fantasy, Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends.

L. B. O’Milla was born in Kiev, Ukraine (back then a part of Russia), and loved to read and write from an early age. Her dream was to become a writer, but due to religious and ethnic persecution she faced, she was unable to pursue that dream in her motherland. When she was 26 years old, she with her husband and daughter fled the country. They wound up first in Vienna, Austria, then in Rome, Italy, until finally entering America as refugees.

In the US, she graduated from NYU and worked as a physical therapist all while raising her family, but she never gave up her love of writing. Having grown up in a family that exposed her to literature, the arts, and music, O’Milla enjoyed Russian folklore and its characters.
She worked very hard to learn English, so she could write in English, the language of her new country.

One of L. B.’s great surprises was running into a former high school teacher here, in America, who had also emigrated from Russia. The teacher pulled out some notebooks of L. B.’s old writings that she had saved and brought with her to this country. Encouraged, L. B. kept writing.

In her spare time, L. B. enjoys reading, writing, laughing, playing Scrabble, spending time with friends and family, attending stage performances, traveling, and participating in outdoor activities. Widowed at an early age, her biggest supporters are her children and her sister.

Welcome, L. B. Please tell us about your current release.
Little Yaga is a teenager who lives with her old hag of a grandmother in a house on top of a chicken leg, deep within the Enchanted Forest. She is troubled by her own appearance. While all the other Forest creatures have magnificent fangs, thunderous roars, and bony legs, Little Yaga looks like a human. She even wears custom crafted dentures to give herself fangs! In her quest to fit in with the Foresters, Little Yaga listens to her great-aunt, an old enchantress, and travels to the human world where she meets a group of teenagers on the run from an evil sorcerer. Together with her new friends she returns to the Forest.

Scraggard the Immortal, the ruler of the Forest, uses the energy of humans to remain immortal. When he captures Ashley, a human girl, Little Yaga takes pity on her. She gathers a group of both old friends and new to help Ashley escape from Scraggard and save the Forest from his malevolent reign.

As Little Yaga discovers the secrets of her forest home and her own origins, she comes into contact with creatures and settings straight out of Russian fables and mythology.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by the modern technological advances and wanted to show how they sometimes seem to work like magic. I thought it would be interesting to draw parallels between the modern technology and good old fairytale magic. In my novel I play with this idea. For instance, the characters from the enchanted forest think a remote control is a magic wand and a cell phone is a magic looking glass, while the human characters believe the magic talking stove is a programmed mechanism and a magic piece of coal is a voice activated device.

Excerpt from Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends
A few minutes later, they were standing on the bank of the rapidly flowing Milkshake River, which smelled like Ashley’s favorite mixture of strawberry, raspberry, and watermelon. A note posted on the trunk of the weeping willow growing on the riverbank said, “If you want to cross it, drink it.” Instead of leaves, there were small green cups dangling from its branches. Ashley’s eyes lit up, and she reached for a cup, but Little Yaga grabbed her hand and forced it down.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now, I am working on two projects. One is a spinoff of the Adventures of Little Yaga and Her Friends, and the other one is Diary of a Soviet Emigrant, which is a lighthearted and humorous recount of difficulties and challenges a newcomer from the Eastern European block must deal with to adapt to a new cultural environment.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t remember a time when I did not consider myself a writer. As soon as I started reading literature on my own, around age nine or ten, I began writing. Unconsciously, my first pieces imitated the styles of the authors I was reading at the time, no less than Tolstoy, Chekov, O’Henry, Maugham (whose works were translated into Russian), etc.

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?
My life-long dream to write full-time has not yet come true. I still practice physical therapy from nine to five and write mostly late at night, on weekends, and sometimes on vacations.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love to rhyme. When I first came to the US, I was surprised American poets had pulled away from such a form of expression. My characters are still prone to rhyming on occasion.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I never wanted to do anything else for living but to write.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I was twenty-six years of age when I came to the US and did not speak or understand a word of English. Nevertheless, my goal was to write in English as I wanted to become an American writer. It was a big challenge, but today I am proud of my accomplishment


I would also like to thank Lisa for this wonderful opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences.

It’s been my pleasure having you visit. Thanks so much, L. B.!