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Friday, April 21, 2017

Q & A With Author K.J. Farnham

Hi, K.J. Thanks for joining me! First question: what is your book NOT about?

Click Date Repeat Again is NOT a cutesy chick-lit novel.

What is your book about?

Click Date Repeat Again is a book that contains elements of chick-lit combined with aspects of women’s fiction and contemporary romance. It’s about Jess Mason, a young woman who’s made a pact with herself to shake a few bad habits in an attempt to get her love life in order. Trying to be helpful, her best friend Chloe (who met her significant other online in Click Date Repeat) subscribes Jess to an online dating site. This is when Jess’s journey toward finding that special someone begins.

What is your favorite line from your book?

My favorite line occurs on the very last page, so I can’t share it without spoiling the end. But here’s a runner-up…

“Maybe the love of my life is a chain-smoking Jewish porn star whose wife has been in a coma for the last twenty years. How will I find him if I set too many parameters?”

What celebrities would play your main characters if it were a movie?

Jess Mason would be played by Emma Stone.

Eric Dane would be perfect to play the role of Sawyer.

And Matt Lanter would make a great Justin.

Take me through a day in your life. 

During the week:

6:20-8:30 a.m. – Feed my kids, make lunches, and see my boys (12 and 9) off to school.

8:30-10:00 – Take care of breakfast dishes, do a few chores, do “school” with my 4-year-old.

10:00-12:00ish – Take my 4-year-old to dance or swimming, or go to the YMCA to do Body Pump (my favorite way to unwind). Then we go grocery shopping and/or run errands.

12:00ish-1:00ish – Lunch.

1:00ish-3:15 – I work on book-related things like social media maintenance and marketing tasks while my daughter reads, plays or watches one of her favorite shows.

3:15-7:00 – CHAOS. 12 year old gets home, followed shortly after by the 9-year-old. I help with homework and make dinner. Depending on the day, my kids have activities like piano, soccer, and gymnastics, so I take them where they need to be. Everyone manages to eat at some point during this timeframe.

7:00ish-9:00 – The kids get cleaned up, and the littlest one is usually off to bed at eight, then the boys at nine.

9:00-?? – This is when my husband and I find time to talk and/or watch a show together (unless he’s out of town). When he goes to bed, I usually read or write for a few hours.

During a typical weekend, my husband will take point with the kids when we don’t have anything going on so I can write.

Show me a picture of your writing spot. 

The loveseat in my living room is my favorite writing spot, but I also write in my bedroom and at my kitchen table. I took this picture nearly two years ago when I first started writing Click Date Repeat Again. The cat on the back of the loveseat always used to sit with me when I was writing, but he passed away last spring. I miss my writing buddy. 

If you could spend the day with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you do?

I would spend the day with my grandmother who passed away when I was 21. I would ask her all of the questions I’ve been wishing I could ask her for the past twenty years.

What is the weirdest thing you have had to research for writing purposes?

I can’t say that I’ve ever had to research anything weird. I’m not saying weird things don’t happen in my books, but everything I write about is based loosely on my own experiences or the experiences of people I know, so no research has ever been necessary.

Fact: Truth is stranger than fiction . . . especially when it comes to online dating!

What was your favorite book as a child, and what is your favorite book now?

I had a lot of favorite books as a child, but three that stick out in my mind are Curious George, Amelia Bedelia, and Mickey’s Magnet. As a preteen, I loved The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. Then during my teen years, I devoured books by V.C. Andrews, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King. Nowadays, I enjoy many different authors and genres, so there’s no way I could pick a favorite book. Sorry!

What books are you currently reading? 

Making Faces by Amy Harmon
Ethersay (ARC) by Sarah L. King
Liar by Winifred Morris

What is the strangest fact about you? 

Hmmm. This is a tough one . . . Probably that I used to sleepwalk when I was a child.

What writers inspire you?

I’m inspired every day by so many of my fellow authors. I can’t possibly name them all, but here’s a small list: Bria Starr, Tess Woods, Sarah L. King, E.S. Carter, Karen Ferry, Sara Ney, and Colleen Hoover.

Why do you write?

Writing is cathartic for me. I can’t even begin to describe the euphoria and sense of accomplishment I feel when I complete a book.

What are you working on right now?

I have two works in progress. By the Time We’re Forty is a women’s fiction novel, and SPIN is a young adult novel. Both books are NaNoWriMo projects that I started while working on Click Date Repeat Again. I plan to finish both within the next six months, but only one will probably make it to publication by the end of the year.

How can readers learn more about you and your work?

The best way to learn more about me would be to follow me on Facebook. I also have a website and other social media accounts, but I tend to share the most on Facebook (because I’m old, according to my teenaged niece and nephew).

Thanks again for joining me! Good luck with your book writing and participation in NaNoWriMo this year!


Monday, April 10, 2017

Q & A With Author Jessica Bayliss

Hi Jessica, thanks for joining me! Let's get started. What is your book NOT about?

My book is not about spooky happenings that turn out to be totally explainable by logical phenomena. It’s not about someone whose imagination ran away with them. 

So then what is your book about?

BROKEN CHORDS is about Lenora “Lenny” Ragno, a sixteen-year-old girl who is attending the Gypsy Cob music festival with her family. Lenny plays the fiddle—a special fiddle her dad carved for her with a spider insignia, which represents her family name. But, she hasn’t played it in public since last year at Gypsy Cob when she choked during the amateur contest in her duet with her long-time friend and crush, Jeb. Now, she’s totally freaked to play in public and to see Jeb. 

But, this book is a total horror story. There are creepy entities, including one that claims Lenny during her one and only foray into astral projection—at the request of one of her festival friends. She keeps getting sucked into this twisted between world where she has to figure out how and why the demon is fixated on her. 

So, this story is about her facing these fears—the mundane and the demonic—and learning to trust herself again and to trust Jeb.

Sounds fascinating! What is your favorite line from your book?

Here’s a little excerpt I love:

I breathed in time with my body. I wasn’t sure if I was really moving air around in my spectral form, but the reflex to carry out the action was strong, and it still felt soothing when I blew what might be nothing out of lungs that probably weren’t there anyway.

What celebrities would play your main characters if it were a movie?

I’d rather not say. I can see my characters in my head, but I want the readers to be able to envision them however they want.

That's a good point. Take me through a day in your life. 

I work full time with Veterans as a clinical psychologist. So, Tuesday through Saturday at noon, I’m at work. Sometimes I’m seeing patients or doing supervision for trainees or managing the administrative aspects of the clinics I run. Before work I try to get up one hour early so I can write. I don’t manage it every single day, but usually at least 3 days each week. And on the weekends and Mondays, if I’m not busy with friends or family, I’m writing. I also workout nearly every day, so I do that after work. By the time I’m done with that, it’s really hard for my brain to function, so I don’t do much creative work then. But, hey, I need reading time, right?

Show me a picture of your writing spot. 

I think dogs are an essential part of any writing space! If you could spend the day with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you do?

Oh, wow… Margaret Mahy. I just found out she passed away a few years ago. She wrote one of my favorite books of all time, THE CHANGEOVER. It’s a YA book, but I still read it every couple years. She also wrote THE TRICKSTERS, which I also read as a young adult, but I didn’t really understand it then. I’ve got a copy of that on my shelf too, and it’s been very interesting coming back to that one as I’ve gained more insight. The book is the same, but I’m not, so it’s like a totally new experience. I’d tell her how grateful I am that I found her books, because they’ve been a huge source of inspiration for me.

What is the weirdest thing you have had to research for writing purposes?

Oh, jeez! Let’s see: tree-climbing—like, legit formal tree-climbing techniques and equipment—opiate medications in the Victorian era, how fiddles are made (that one was for BROKEN CHORDS), hypnosis and the effects of sleep deprivation (those last two are for the book I’m writing now, a YA thriller), and how to build a watermelon cannon. Oh, and a local CT celebrity of old known as The Leatherman.

What was your favorite book as a child, and what is your favorite book now?

I always loved anything with ghosts, spirits, thrills, and danger. Even when I was still reading story books, the scary ones were my favorites. These days, in addition to THE CHANGEOVER, I’d have to say my favorite books are: IT by Stephen King, the BLOODSUCKING FIENDS trilogy by Christopher Moore (especially the audiobook versions because the narrator is BRILLIANT! She nails one of my favorite characters in fiction of all times, Abby Normal), and THE FAIRYLAND series by Catherynne M. Valente. I’m on the third one, THE GIRL WHO SOARED OVER FAIRYLAND AND CUT THE MOON IN TWO, right now, and I’m at that place where I’m slowing WAY down so it’s not over too soon. 

Christopher Moore is so hilarious! I am addicted to his books. What books are you currently reading? 

The book I just mentioned above. I am reading THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon, and THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker. I have WAY too many books on my TBR list.

I just finished The Sun is Also a Star not too long ago and wrote a review of it! What is the strangest fact about you? 

That’s a tough one. I’m a horror fan, but I won’t watch or read anything scary if my husband isn’t home. I’ll totally freak myself out and not sleep all night long. One night, after watching THE GRUDGE, even though he WAS home, I still got freaked out and was afraid to go to the bathroom. I went, though. It was fine. Thank goodness.

You are very brave! What writers inspire you?

Sigh. So many. So, so many. Every single one I read, actually. I learn something from every one, including all the ones I mentioned above. I also love Molly Harper and Holly Black. I love Tim Dorsey (The Serge Storms novels) because his brain goes in a million directions yet he still ties everything up perfectly—and hilariously—at the end of his books. Speaking of humor, David Wong. I basically like anyone who’s a little bit zany (hence Christopher Moore) or scary (hence Stephen King) or who can immerse me in a world I can almost touch (hence JK Rowling or Catherynne Valente).

Why do you write?

It’s literally my passion. I didn’t even know what that was before I discovered writing. I never imagined I’d be doing it now (it took ten years to complete my psychology training, so yeah, writing was not in the game plan), but I couldn’t possibly not write, and I’m so lucky to have discovered it. 

What are you working on right now?

I just finished a book I’m calling MENTAL BLOCK. It’s a contemporary thriller about what happens when a high school student conducts an experiment—on a few of her classmates, including her best friend and the guy she is in love with—where she combines sleep deprivation and hypnosis. Let’s just say, it gets scary.

Oh, I can't wait until it comes out! How can readers learn more about you and your work?

Thanks for joining me, Jessica, and best of luck with the release of Broken Chords!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's a Writer Thing -- Is THIS Why You Are Struggling to Finish That Book?

This is a guest post by Jessica Bayliss.

Hello, Wonderful Writers! Not too long ago, someone in the Electric 18’s group shared a video by Brene´ Brown, Ph.D. I majorly LOVE this woman’s work. In case you’re not familiar with her, she’s a researcher who focuses on studying shame and vulnerability. If you haven’t read her books, I really recommend them all. She talks about how being vulnerable is one of the most courageous things we can do, that vulnerability comes with great rewards, “because vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, trust, empathy, creativity, and innovation. 

That’s right. 

What she’s discovered through her research is that without vulnerability, we cannot create. If we’re going to make art, or put ourselves in the “arena,” as Teddy Roosevelt called it, then there is “one guarantee. You will get your ass kicked. If courage is a value you hold, this is a consequence. You can’t avoid it.” And who does this ass-kicking she speaks of? The critics. There are many kinds of critics (and I highly recommend you hear her talk or read her books for the full discussion), but today I want to focus on one—the worst critic.

The worst critic, she tells us, is ourselves.

I’ve always loved doing art. Drawing, painting, crafts. You name it. Back in my teen years, I did a lot of sketching. There’s nothing like a perfectly-sharpened pencil and a blank sheet of paper. There’s nothing, alright—nothing scarier. I’d sit there, thinking about what I wanted to draw, the tip of my pencil hovering over the page, and I’d be stuck. What if my drawing was a ginormous failure? What if the image I had in my head didn’t match up with what I achieved on the page. What if my subject was sucky or corny or boring? And of course, even though there was no risk of this happening—like ever, because I was never taking my sketch pad out of the safety of my house—but what if some one saw this sucky, corny, boring hot mess of a drawing? In my head, even if I locked up my pad in a steel safe, I could catastrophize until I ended up at school with the sheet of paper somehow magically glued to my butt, unbeknownst to me, out in the world for all to see. Yeah. It gets scary in there sometimes.

So, what did I do in response to these “gremlins?” I armored-up. I still put pencil to page, but I didn’t draw my own creations. I copied photos or book covers. Someone else already decided those pictures were worth making, so I played it safe and copied them. Sure, I was practicing my skill, and I got better at drawing, but I wasn’t creating. I wasn’t making art. Thinking back now, it would have been better if I had made a terrible version of the awesomeness in my head, even if the outcome was cringe-worthy. Better because it would have been mine. I would have made art.

Now, I’m creating a new kind of art with my stories, and I can’t help but wonder if this is the same process that causes us to get stuck. That causes us to stall partway through a work in progress. Are we so afraid of making a sucky, corny, boring hot mess of a book that we can’t create? Is our fear of vulnerability causing us to armor-up so securely that all we do is cut off the natural flow of our wondrous imagination? And all this even before a single soul has laid eyes upon what we’ve written—all except for ourselves. The worst gremlin of them all. 

So what’s a writer to do?

Brene´ Brown tells us that we must expect the critics to be there, including the one inside our heads, and that we must be prepared for what they’ll say about us. What’s the worst thing your internal critic tells you when you’re sitting there, fingers hovering over the keyboard? Find out, then tell that voice that you aren’t interested in his or her feedback. Lock those gremlins up in a closet where they belong. If you need to, find a mantra, like a magic spell, to keep them in there. Then, all that that is left to do is WRITE. Because you can do it. You can write!

Jessica Bayliss is an author of commercial fiction who loves nothing better than getting lost in a good story, whether in print or on film. When not busy with her latest fiction project, she can be found loving her friends and family—especially her husband, Eric—playing with one pesky Havanese, or trying to appease an ornery cockatiel, typically with a cup of coffee near at hand. 

Check out Jessica's other posts:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Q & A With Author Leslie DJ

Hi, Leslie. Thanks for joining me! Let’s get started! What is your book, Luz, NOT about?

It’s not an autobiography. Although Luz and I may have a lot in common it is not my life story.

What is your book, Luz, about?

My book is about a young woman’s struggle; Luz Vargas is a semi successful writer who at the beginning of the book is very lost. She’s living the life she thinks she’s supposed to live rather than the one she actually wants. In its own way it is a coming-of-age story. 

What is your favorite line from your book?

“She lived her life in fiction, too afraid to let the world in…
She surrounded herself with the only friends she knew,
Susan Sontag and Maria Irene Fornes…”

What celebrities would play your main characters if it were a movie?

Rosario Dawson would play Luz and I’d love to see Chris Evans play Luke. We can always go with a sexy unknown to play Henry. 

Take me through a day in your life. 

Since writing is not my main source of income, I have a day job. I wake up at 5:30am; shower then feed my birds and dog. I prepare a protein shake while Joey (my Chihuahua) looks on, take my vitamins and pour it in my to go cup to consume on the bus. 

I take the bus into work where I work as an administrative assistant at a college. 

Show me a picture of your writing spot. 

If you could spend the day with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you do?

I would love to spend a day with Carrie Fisher. I would spend the day gathering stories about her life and thanking her for all her advocacy work with mental health. Then we’d walk over to her mom’s house and sing some cabaret. 

What is the weirdest thing you have had to research for writing purposes?

I had to prove to my editor that in the Dominican Republic a family of four would ride at the back of a motorcycle taxi with groceries in tow. 

What was your favorite book as a child, and what is your favorite book now?

Charlotte’s Web” was my favorite book as a child. It was the first book I read from cover to cover. A book that I love re-read as an adult is Julia Alvarez’s “How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents”. 

What book are you currently reading? 

The Princess Diarist” by Carrie Fisher. I love and miss her daily. She meant a lot to me; her outspokenness, her courage when it came to talking about addiction and mental health, it breaks my heart knowing she is no longer around.

What is the strangest fact about you? 

I’ve been a vegetarian for 16 years. People think it’s strange that I don’t eat meat because I’m Latina and in Dominican culture especially a lot of meat is consumed. 

What writers inspire you?

Junot Diaz, Carrie Fisher, Julia Alvarez and Marian Keyes. 

Why do you write?

I just love it. It comes easy to me and I constantly have dialogues floating around in my head that I just need to jot down. I also feel like our stories as Latinos aren’t often told and I would like to do my part and contribute to the community. 

What are you working on right now?

I am in the very early stages of writing the sequel to my first book, “That Girl” I have a few scenes written out, a killer opening and tons of notes and points I want to hit. I’m hoping to release that by end of 2018.

How can readers learn more about you and your work?

You can visit my website.
Or follow me on social media:

Thanks again for joining me, and best of luck writing your debut novel!