Posts Tagged With: Spotlight

Motown Writers Network Author Spotlight ~ Rebecka Vigus

 

Rebecka VigusWhere are you from?

West Branch, Michigan
Tell us your latest news?

The third book in the Macy McVannel series, Sanctuary, is being released Aug.22, 2014
When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing at age ten. A teacher told me with my imaginations I would end up in books. I believed him.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In high school, some of my poems were in the school paper, but one of my poems was used by a minister in a sermon.
What inspired you to write your first book?

I had always wanted to write a novel. I became involved with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I wrote my first novel in 21 days.
Do you have a specific writing style?

I write easy to read books. Something you can pick up and knock out in about four hours. But, I have no name for my style other than they are mysteries.
How did you come up with the title?

For my first novel, it was set in a small town and in order to arrest the right person, you had to dig through all the secrets in a small town so Secrets was it. For the novel releasing in August, I had to really think about what the book was offering. Sanctuary is ultimately the goal, so hence, the title.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

In the current novel I am dealing with spousal abuse and how to escape it. There is always a way out, you have to be willing to go for it.
How much of the book is realistic?

I write realistic fiction with a twist. So, this book could happen any place, in any town, in any neighborhood.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not it this book.
What books have most influenced your life most?

Mysteries. I love trying to figure out who did it before the author reveals it. Agatha Christie, Patricia Cornwell, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Higgins Clark, Lee Child, David Baldacci, there are many who keep me fascinated.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

William Kent Krueger, I had a chance to do a one day intensive writing session with him.
What book are you reading now?

Stolen, by Daniel Palmer
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

C Hope Clark. I have read her book The Shy Writer Reborn and her mystery Palmetto Poison. I just received her first novel, Low Country Bribe to read.
What are your current projects?

I am working on a children’s anthology titled Of Moonbeams and Fairy Dust due out the end of November, 2014. I’m also working on the fourth Macy book, Something Borrowed, Something Blue due out in early 2015.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Blue Harvest Creative are my design team for my books.
Do you see writing as a career?

Yes. It has been my goal for fifty years. I am finding I am growing a fan base.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Absolutely not.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I remember writing non-sense poetry to start, but I have no one defining moment.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Macy McVannel is a police detective who teams up with her college roommate to rescue abused women from their spouses and set them on the path to a new life. This is the third book in the series. The first two were written from Macy’s point-of-view. This one was not written first person, so you get other’s views of Macy.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Making each new book as exciting as or better than the last.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

My current favorite is William Kent Krueger. I love his Corcoran O’Connor character. I love how he submerges you in the landscape of his stories.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not as much as I’d like to. I prefer to do live signings and book talks. I like getting questions from those who want to write or those who’ve read my books. I want to share my love of writing.
Who designed the covers?

Blue Harvest Creative are my design team. They do internal and external design and set up.
What was the hardest part of writing your book? For me the hardest part is knowing how and where to end it.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned even in law the lines are blurred.
Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. Read all you can about writing, attend a writer’s workshop or conference, but keep writing.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Please when you’ve read my books, write a review. Reviews sell books. If you didn’t like it, others want to know. If you did they want to know why.

Sanctuary

Author name: Rebecka Vigus
Book Title: Sanctuary
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MWN Author Spotlight ~ Mary Anne McMahon

 

Mary Anne McMahon

 

This week’s Motown Writers Network spotlight is being shined on Mary Anne McMahon. Mary Anne no longer lives in Detroit; but she regards the Motor City as the place she will ever call home. She is the author of The Motor City and Me: Our Story, a story that tells the remarkable history of Detroit and offers inspiration to the once great American metropolis during its most trying time. Let’s listen in on Mary Anne’s interview so we get to know her better and learn more about her book.

 

Where were you born?

I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I now live in Houston, Texas.

Tell us your latest news?

I have published a book, The Motor City and Me: Our Story, which highlights the rich history of Detroit and how the Motor City has left a lasting impact on my family and me.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have been writing most of my life and have taught writing skills to students for 28 years. After my retirement from education I wrote puppet skits for my puppet performing business, Sassy Celebrations. I then decided to write a book about my beloved hometown.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have always considered myself a writer.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My book evolved from the acquisition of my ancestral history, my happy Detroit childhood and continual connection to my hometown.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I do not have one specific writing style. In my book I utilize both the expository style and the persuasive style.

How did you come up with the title?

The Motor City and Me: Our Story parallels the rise and fall of Detroit with ups and down in my own life. The title reflects our connection.

Is there a message in your memoir that you want readers to grasp?

I overcame major obstacles in my life. I want to inspire Detroiters to overcome the obstacles facing their city today.

How much of the book is realistic?

My book is non-fiction. The events are real.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The experiences are based on my own life.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Mans Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel had a powerful impact on my life. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela inspired me as well.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I would choose John Grogan. His heartwarming book, The Longest Trip Home, about an Irish boy from Detroit resonated with me.  His story inspired me to publish my Detroit memoir.

What book are you reading now?

I am reading I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s writing and especially liked his book, David and Goliath.  The insightful novel, The Invention of Wings, drew me to Sue Monk Kidd.

What are your current projects?

I have begun a second book.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Both professional and non-professional reviewers have given me significant support and encouragement.

Do you see writing as a career?

I want to continue as a writer.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I made many changes as I wrote the book. So, I am quite satisfied now.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My mother influenced me with her love of literature and writing.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Paralleling the rise and fall of Detroit with the ups and downs of my own life, I show readers how Detroit values strengthened and reassured her throughout the difficult times. From the rise and fall of the automotive industry to the city’s recent financial woes, The Motor City and Me strives to take readers on a personal journey through an extraordinary American city. Tracing my family’s Detroit lineage through four generations, my memoirs aims to give readers a thorough look at the city’s history and the indelible mark it has left on me.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

When I wrote my book there were times when thoughts flowed for hours. Other times I had difficulty putting two words together. There was a certain amount of frustration that I had to leave my computer at the “two word” moments.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about his/her work?

I like Ross King. He writes fascinating detailed accounts of engineering marvels and the history that goes with those marvels. I loved his books, Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling and Brunelleschi’s  Dome. 

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I did considerable traveling while writing my book. I traveled to my European roots and ancestral homelands.

Who designed the covers?

My publisher designed my cover. I provided the photo.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The most difficult part was writing about the challenging times in my life.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

While I struggled with revealing challenges, I learned afterward that I am not alone. Everyone has challenges.  My book has inspired others to come forward and share the dark moments in their lives.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Writing is a gift that you give yourself and hopefully to others including future generations.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

The conviction, that we can overcome adversity and that failure is not an option, may be a good beginning for renewal.

MaryAnne Motor City and Me

For more information about the author and her book go to:  http://marymcmahonauthor.com/

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Author Spotlight~ Jossie Marie Solheim

This week’s spotlight is on author Jossie Marie Solheim. Join us as we talk with her about her first novel Insane Reno and more.

Where are you from?
Well, originally I am from Kent; but I have lived most of my life in
Cornwall. I love Cornwall and have been so lucky to grow up here and,
although Kent is lovely, too and I enjoyed my time living there in my
teens, Cornwall will always be the place I love best.

Tell us your latest news?

Ha-ha! Well, that would be my first novel, Insane Reno, being
published. It is truly some of the best news I have ever had and a
dream come true.

When and why did you begin writing?

Oh, I started writing when I was around nine years old. My childhood
wasn’t the best, you see, and it was my way of escaping reality. I
would write myself into happy stories with happy endings and pray that
they would come true. Well, they didn’t, when I was young, but the
last few years, more and more of them are coming true; perhaps, not
quite how I imagined them, but I am enjoying the discovery process, so
I don’t mind, too much.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Well, I have called myself a writer for a long time; but honestly, it
wasn’t until I got my publishing deal for my novel that I really felt
I had made it as a writer. For me the short stories and articles I had
published just weren’t enough, it had to be a novel.

What inspired you to write your first book?

So many things. Bodmin moor was one of my biggest inspirations. It
just held a fascination for me that just had to be explored and
understood. I read everything I could get my hands on, regarding the
moors and its myths and grew, ever more fascinated. If you spend a lot
of time there, you’ll understand what I mean. I guess they just spoke
to me, because they felt isolated, lost, and alone; things I had felt
a lot in my own life.
People also were a big inspiration. I had observed different types of
people for so long and examined human nature and I just longed to play
around with that, especially secrets and lies. I guess I experienced a
lot of secrets and lies growing up and longed for the truth to come
out. Well, I never achieved that with my own mysteries, so I wanted
Tizzy to succeed, where I had failed. That goes back to my childhood
days of writing a better outcome, I suppose; however, Tizzy is nothing
like me, she’s a far tougher cookie than I am.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t think so. I tend to adapt and change and like to try different
approaches. For me, writing is an exploration. I want to play around
and dabble with different styles, because I feel that, what works for
one book, may not work so well for another.

How did you come up with the title?

Well, I think the title, more likely, came up with me; just, one day,
I got Insane Reno in my head and it would not go away and I just knew
I had to write a book with that title. I had no idea what or how it
would work at the time, but it all came together, in the end. I think
it was made to be. Perhaps, it was God giving me a helping hand and
setting the wheels in motion. Whatever the case, it’s a title I have
loved from the start and I’m sure I’ll always love.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, kids are smarter than you give them credit for. No matter what
you try to hide from them, they see things; notice subtle signs that
something is wrong. All you do, when you hide the bad news is make
them search for it. Honesty is always the best policy, because bad
news, broken gently, in a well thought out way, is better than bad
news discovered alone or from an uncaring source.

How much of the book is realistic?

Well, the settings are real. Bodmin moor and Bude are both real life
places and Charlotte Dymond was a girl who really was murdered on the
moors and yes, people really do visit her memorial on the anniversary
of her death, in hopes of seeing her ghost. My husband and I try to
go, most years. It’s great fun and a little bit spooky, too.
Smuggling, too was common in the area. The Jamaica Inn, on the moors,
itself, is testament to that. So, I guess you could say it’s fiction
surrounded by a few snippets of reality.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Well, there are a lot of my own feelings and experiences fictionalised
in the book, but I think that is true of most books; however, the
story itself comes from my vivid imagination and my characters
occasional shoves, when I am being a bit blind.

What books have most influenced your life?

I guess books that were filled with tragedy, heartache, fear,
struggle, and hope; because that was something I related to and, in
the case of hope, longed for.
Flowers in the Attic, by Virginia Andrews really spoke to me; because,
like those children, I felt abandoned, lost, and alone, and Junk, by
Melvin Burgess, too, for similar reasons. I also devoured anything
about animals, because I longed to work with animals, at that time.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Virginia Andrews and Daphne De Maurier, because their characters are
so vivid, they’re not afraid to be blunt, and they deal with topics
that some people would have shyed away from. I think it’s important to
deal with difficult subjects; to let other people know that they are
not alone, to give them a sense that there are other people facing
similar situations or feeling the same way as they are. That’s what
books did for me, when I was younger, and they also gave me hope that
things could get better.

What book are you reading now?

I’m currently reading a couple of good books; the first is The day I
died, by Polly Courtney, which is a really intriguing read that isn’t
what you’d expect, and the second is Patrick Patterson, by James
Fryer, which is very interesting and is keeping me very absorbed. It
also happens to be published by Raven Crest Books, the very publisher,
who has made my own dream come true by publishing Insane Reno.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Absolutely, I love discovering new authors; that’s part of why I love
my Kindle, so much. Someone who has really got me hooked is Karen
Amanda Hooper. Her book, Tangled tides, made me feel like a child
again, taking me into a magical world that I longed to be a part of
and leaving me giddy for more.

What are your current projects?

My writing very much depends on what is speaking to me at the time. I
would like to say Annie, which is the prequel to Insane Reno is my
sole focus, right now; but, I actually have three books that I am
working on and with regards to which is published first, well, it
really depends on which one calls to me the most.
Annie is on its way, though and looks at Tizzy’s mum’s story; giving
us even more insight into the farm’s past and helping us to see that
life and its many twist and turns have played a huge part on how Annie
has become. I hope that it will give people a little more
understanding of Annie’s actions and also help them to understand that
we are all human and as such, capable of making mistakes.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

My editor, Chuck Jolly; he pushed me, guided me, and encouraged me to
keep going, every step of the way and also helped me to have more
faith in myself. I can’t thank him enough for all of his help.

Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely, it might not make me millions and it may be very hard;
but, it is the only career for me. I couldn’t live without it.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your
latest book?

There are always things I would change. Even if I did a thousand
re-edits, there would be something I would change. I’m a worrier and
so I would always worry it wasn’t good enough and, thus, always make
changes; it’s just my nature. It took a lot for me to pluck up the
courage to let it head out into the big wide world, but I am glad I
did.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

As I said before, it grew out of personal need. It was an escape from
an, at times, less than pleasant reality. I read books and I just
thought; maybe, if I write my own, I can, at least, imagine a better
life. It helped me get through things I probably couldn’t have,
without it.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Of course. I’m gonna choose something with both Jem and Tizzy in it,
as Jem is such a loveable rogue and is proving very popular with the
ladies:

I could sense Jem’s eyes on me, as I laid the table, so I added a
little extra swing to my hips and bent over a little further than was
necessary, as I set each dish in place.
“Your thong’s showing,” My dad said, making me jump out of my skin, as
he strolled into the kitchen, sniffing the air.
“Something smells good,” he added, dropping into his seat at the far
end of the table and gazing at me, with a wry smile.
“Did I interrupt something?” He asked.
“I dunno, did he?”  Jem said, directing his question at me, as he
beamed like a Cheshire cat.
“No!”  I snapped, mortified.
“Guess not then,” he replied, “must have just been my imagination,
playing tricks on me.”  He added.
“What are you on about?”  I growled.
“Oh nothing, it’s just I could have sworn you were doing your best
model swagger and making and extra point of flashing me you’re…” he
paused, mid-sentence, and looked to my father.
“Thong?”  My father replied, with a laugh.
“Well, I was gonna say cute little butt, but thong works.” He added,
and joined in with my father’s laughter.
“Oh, very funny,” I snarled.  “Anyway, what gave you the right to look?”
“If you wiggle it at me, I’m gonna look.”
“I didn’t frigging wiggle it.” I hissed.
“No, but you wanted to and that counts.”  He replied, the smug smile,
still firmly in place.
“Dad,” I cried, “are you gonna let him get away with that?”  I said,
knowing instantly what his reply would be.
“Hey, you were flashing him your thong, so you can fight your own battles.”
“So, if I flashed my thong at a stranger and he grabbed my butt,
you’d be ok with that?”  I asked.
“I dunno,” he replied, then leaning back to look at Jem he added.
“Hey Jem, why don’t you try it and see.”
“Dad!”  I cried, quickly dropping onto one of the bench seats as Jem
turned, eyes full of mischief.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get ya later.” He said, rubbing his hand together,
then turned back to the cooker, switched the hob off and scuttled
towards the table, frying pan in hand.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Staying focused. I always have so many ideas, that I often jump from
one novel to the next and back again, trying to accommodate all the
characters and ideas that are screaming for release.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you
about their work?

Oh, I couldn’t possibly choose just one. There are just so many great
authors out there; however, the one I am really watching at the moment
is Karen Amanda Hooper.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not at present. I tend to stick with my local area for settings, that
or other places I have lived; although, there is a book planned for
the future that might require a bit of a road trip, something to
look forward to.

Who designed the covers?

Well, with Insane Reno, it was actually me; I just had such a vivid
idea of what I wanted that it just seemed easier that way, but that
might not always be the case.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Knowing when to let go. As I said before, I’m a worrier and letting
Insane Reno go out into the world was like waving my son off, for his
first day at school, a very emotional and nerve racking experience.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I think every book is a learning experience and, as an author, you are
always learning new things; but a big lesson I learned from writing
Insane Reno is to try not to over think things, as it just leads to
unnecessary worry and stress.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just enjoy what you do and don’t worry, if someone doesn’t like what
you write, because everyone is different. What some people love,
others will hate.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for taking the time to read my book. Taking the step to
publish is such a scary one and knowing that people are reading and
enjoying it is a great blessing; so, thank you from the bottom of my
heart for taking a chance on Insane Reno. It truly means a lot.

By author Jossie Marie Solheim

Author Website http://jossiesolheim.ravencrestbooks.com/
Amazon Link http://amzn.to/T1kfsB
Facebook Link https://www.facebook.com/jossie.marie
Twitter Link @Jossiemarie84

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MWN Author Feature~ Erica Coleman

On saturday, August 25th I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing the beautifully talented author, Erica Coleman. This local Detroit author has penned her first novel Dying To Be Loved, a book whose message is relevant and on time for the hour such as this.

Who is Erica Coleman? 

Erica Monique Coleman was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Erica graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Her creative talents as a writer, model, actor and spokesperson have enabled her to communicate and befriend large groups of men and women “who all have a story to tell.”  Writing has been her passion for many years, but her focus has mainly been on women’s’ life issues, as featured on her Blog titled, “Girl Let Me Tell You.”  She currently resides in Detroit, MI with her son whom she hopes will follow in her creative footsteps.  Dying To Be Loved is her first novel with hopes of many more to follow.

Listen in on our fun-filled interview to learn more about Erica and her new novel Dying To Be Loved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author website: www.ericacoleman.com

Dying To Be Loved Facebook fan page: Dying To Be Loved

 

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Motown Author Feature~ Kevin J. Garrity

This week we’re talking with Kevin J. Garrity, the author of Sparrow River. Come along as we learn about Kevin and his debut novel!

Where are you from?

I grew up in northwest Detroit, went to school in Redford, and got my degree from Wayne State.  Since then I’ve bounced around a bit, moving from Detroit to Traverse City to Seattle to Chicago, and back to Detroit again. I lived In Grayling for 11 years, before moving to West Bloomfield in 2010.

Tell us your latest news?

I’ve just released my first novel, “Sparrow River,” set in a fictionalized Grayling and a fictionalized Pigeon River Forest.  It’s a murder mystery with multiple twists.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve written all my life.  For years I played guitar in bands in Detroit and wrote most of my own material.  I soon realized I was a much better writer than I was a musician. I’ve written short stories and other things.  It wasn’t until last year that someone convinced me to try my hand at something bigger, and thus “Sparrow River.”

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think when I penned my first good song. At least I believed it was good at the time.  I must have been about fifteen years old, and when we performed, people thought the song was great.  Ten years later it was still my most requested tune.  I realized right away that if you pen your own stories, you control your own destiny.  I’m still adjusting to the idea of being an “author,” in the “I’ve got a book out” sense of the word.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I had the time to write and I had a specific story in mind.  What I lacked was the confidence to sit down and actually do it.  I had a hard time with the concept of sinking six months or a year’s worth of work into one single project, and not having any idea if it was worthwhile until it was completed.  When you write a song, you learn pretty quickly whether or not it’s any good.  With a novel, you don’t get that instant feedback. And by the time you do get that feedback, you’re probably committed to most of the book’s content.  You can make adjustments, but the gist of the story is generally what it’s going to be. My brother kept pushing me to finish this book, see where it went, and I’m glad he did.

Do you have a specific writing style?

It’s still a work in progress.  For “Sparrow River” I tried to keep things clean and simple.  I’m a lover of old crime noir and pulp fiction, and I like the fact that these authors didn’t waste words in telling a story.  I tried to replicate that style in a modern way, make every word count.  On the other hand, I’m working on a new book that’s more in the realm of literary fiction, and I think more depth and description are required to capture the essence of tiny moments.

How did you come up with the title?

It’s a play on words.  The Sparrow River is actually the Pigeon River, but I didn’t want to be married to the truth.  I changed the names of a lot of things in this book, so that I could arbitrarily change anything that might make for a better story.  The fictional names gave me the ability to lie whenever it was convenient to the plot.  There’s also a bit of an homage to Hemingway in there, his “Big Two Hearted River.”

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I deliberately created some ambiguity throughout the story.  I didn’t want it to be a cut-and-dried murder, with a nearly perfect hero and a tidy little ending.  Those stories have been written a thousand times over, and I doubted I was going to improve on the classics.  I tried to create something that is more like real life, where things aren’t always what people assume they are, and perceptions are often deceptive.  Two people can read this book and end up with very different views of what it really means.

 

How much of the book is realistic?

The setting is very real.  The town of “Rasmus” is Grayling in disguise (with a few changes when it suited the story).  Sparrow River is real, it is the Pigeon River hiding under a pseudonym.  I tried to capture the north woods and small town life as best I could.  There are pieces of the area that folks will find familiar.  Some are just plain made up.  I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which is which, or whether it even matters.  The plot itself is pure fiction.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

My protagonist is loosely based on a good friend of mine.  He is not always warm and fuzzy.  I took the strongest parts of his personality and put them on steroids.  At the same time, I tried to humanize him whenever possible.  I didn’t want to write a cartoon character: in the end, nobody wants to root for a total jerk.  In the end, you want to like him.  So I tried to create a slightly over the top version of my friend, and put him in an exceptional situation.  I also borrowed liberally from my own life and from incidents that happened to people I know, wherever it made for good reading.

What books have influenced your life most?

When I was younger, Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” and Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories.  “Babbit” and “Elmer Gantry” captured a page in time like nothing else, and let me fall in love with the use of specific language to create an environment.  Those books made me an avid reader at a very young age.   Later it was E.L. Doctorow’s “Ragtime” and John Irving’s “Setting Free the Bears” that inspired me.  I read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” when it first came out, and thought it was the best thing I’ve seen in over a decade.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Walter Mosley.  I can’t put his books down.  His primary characters are often flawed and broken souls. They’re real.  He captures dialogue like you’re standing in a bar room in Watts, listening in on a stranger’s conversation. Nobody compares. And he proves you don’t have to follow the formulas of every author that came before you in order to succeed.

What books are you reading now?

Bryan Gruley’s “Starvation Lake” and John Irving’s “In One Person.”

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

When I’m not writing, I consume novels.  Sometimes I read two or three a week.  And I’m always a little wary of calling any writer “new,” because they might have been at it for twenty years before I’ve even heard of them.  For example, someone recently gave me a copy of Jonathan Lethem’s “Gun with Occasional Music.”  It’s not a genre I’d normally choose for myself.  It’s a mystery, but with strong elements of a dystopian society.  It was printed in 1994, though I just recently discovered it.  I thought it was brilliant.  So there’s a “new” author in my world.  The good news is, he’s since created almost two decades’ worth of work, that I can read whenever I’d like.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on a novel that’s set in Detroit, more literary fiction than mystery.   The writing is a little more time consuming, because it lacks the typical construct of mystery and resolution.  I’m planning a sequel to “Sparrow River,” which I hope will be done sometime next spring.  In the meantime I try to put a new short story on my blog (KevinJGarrity.com) at least once a month, so people remember that I’m still alive.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I can’t thank the Devereaux Memorial Library in Grayling enough.  When I first discussed “Sparrow River” with them, they gave me a royal welcome and all the resources they could muster.  The NextChapter Bookstore in Northville gave me my first signing.   Libraries and independent bookstores are my friends.

Do you see writing as a career?

I certainly hope so.  At the same time, the traditional models of publishing and marketing a book have been turned upside down in the last few years.  The big publishing houses seem less and less willing to sign an unknown and then allow him a few books to build his audience.  They need immediate results. There are tools and technologies that make it simpler and less expensive than ever to self-publish, but at the same time independent bookstores are disappearing at an unbelievable rate.  And it’s hard to do a book signing at Amazon.  We need places like The NextChapter and Book Beat.  The landscape is shifting at an ever-quickening pace.  It will be interesting to see how things play out.

If you had to do it over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I joke that I should have titled it “Fifty Shades of Grayling,”  and I’d have sold another million.  But no, I wouldn’t change anything.  I’m pretty happy with  the book.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I think I’ve always been a story teller, and I’ve always written in some form or another.  I’d much rather create my own reality than try to improve upon someone else’s.  To me, a novel was the logical next step in my progression as a writer.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Earth and wood, it turned out, weren’t enough to hold back the volume of water that races through the Sparrow River in the springtime.  “Sparrow,” a misnomer if ever there was one.  In the dog days of summer it flows smooth and shallow.  It meanders through her deeper stretches, hiding cool dark holes where the big trout lay until the evening hatch.  It riffles and purls its way across the gravel bars that stretch like fingers into her current.  It wraps around corners and dumps sand from her load, only to pick up where it left off and continues upon its former course.  In the summer months hikers are easily enticed to take a dip, washing off days of sweat accumulated during their hike across the lower peninsula’s shore-to-shore trail.  Horses have watered there since before time was measured.  The Sparrow can seem gentle enough, but most of the locals called it the “Bitch River” for a reason.

 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I have to remember that dialogue is almost never written in proper english.  People simply don’t converse in full and complete sentences. They talk in bits and chunks.  And proper grammar is usually not true to any character.  I’m getting more comfortable with dialogue the more I write.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Right now it’s Walter Mosley.  Sometimes his books are a little graphic, but his characters have a realistic grit that is lacking in mystery fiction.  There are too many books where the lead character is a former cop with one fatal flaw (he drank too much….he wouldn’t take a bribe…he failed to solve one crime and has been haunted ever since) that leads him to become an outcast private investigator.  Mosley smashes those stereotypes.  His protagonists are usually an everyman, with both good and bad inside.  Their actions are sometimes shaped by their circumstances, and tend to be more believable because of that.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book?

I’ve been traveling some, mostly to the northern lower peninsula and around the metro Detroit area.  Having to travel more would be a good problem. I’d view it as an indicator that Sparrow River is building a larger audience.

Who designed the covers?

The cover photos that I used were taken by a friend of mine from Grayling, George McKim.  The cover design itself was done by my twelve-year-old son, Teemu. He was laid up for six weeks this past winter with mono.  He was too sick to get off the couch, was sleeping eighteen hours per day.  I didn’t want him playing on an Ipod for the six hours a day that he was awake, so I put him to work.  All of the graphics, the fonts, multiple color changes and design tweaks, even the logo for Hammer Handle Press, it was all him.  He taught himself how to use Gimp and invested about 80 hours into the cover layout.  I think that by the end of the process, he’d rather have gone to school than be asked to change one more detail.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

It took me a while to find a voice for my lead character, Walt Pitowski.  I could hear Walt in my ear, but it took some serious effort to capture the right tone on paper.  I didn’t want him to be a total misogynist, yet that is certainly part of who the character is.  Once I finally figured him out, the words came quickly.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned that, even when you have a clearly defined outline of where you want the story to go, you have to be willing to change and adapt.  Sometimes the story has a mind of its own.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep at it, and don’t be intimidated by the process of publishing.  I know too many people that have spent decades talking about the book they intend to write, “someday,” “when they have some time.”   It looks scarier than it actually is, and not every thing you do needs to be perfect on the first run.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Sparrow River should be fun to read.  It is at heart a mystery.  At the same time, I tried to weave in slices of rural northern life, with all of the prejudices and flaws and problems that accompany that world.  “Rasmus” could be any small town, and Walt Pitowski could be a lot of people you’ve already met.  He’s rough around the edges, but underneath it all he is a man that wants to find his place in the community, wants to be loved.  I tried to make Sparrow River as much about a place and time, about a person making his way in a specific environment, as it is about one single incident.

AUTHOR WEBSITE

KevinJGarrity.com

AMAZON LINK

Kevin J. Garrity

FACEBOOK LINK

https://www.facebook.com/KevinJGarrity1?ref=hl

VIDEO

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Author Spotlight~ Jossie Marie Solheim

This week’s spotlight is on author Jossie Marie Solheim. Join us as we talk with her about her first novel Insane Reno and more.

Where are you from?
Well, originally I am from Kent; but I have lived most of my life in
Cornwall. I love Cornwall and have been so lucky to grow up here and,
although Kent is lovely, too and I enjoyed my time living there in my
teens, Cornwall will always be the place I love best.

Tell us your latest news?

Ha-ha! Well, that would be my first novel, Insane Reno, being
published. It is truly some of the best news I have ever had and a
dream come true.

When and why did you begin writing?

Oh, I started writing when I was around nine years old. My childhood
wasn’t the best, you see, and it was my way of escaping reality. I
would write myself into happy stories with happy endings and pray that
they would come true. Well, they didn’t, when I was young, but the
last few years, more and more of them are coming true; perhaps, not
quite how I imagined them, but I am enjoying the discovery process, so
I don’t mind, too much.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Well, I have called myself a writer for a long time; but honestly, it
wasn’t until I got my publishing deal for my novel that I really felt
I had made it as a writer. For me the short stories and articles I had
published just weren’t enough, it had to be a novel.

What inspired you to write your first book?

So many things. Bodmin moor was one of my biggest inspirations. It
just held a fascination for me that just had to be explored and
understood. I read everything I could get my hands on, regarding the
moors and its myths and grew, ever more fascinated. If you spend a lot
of time there, you’ll understand what I mean. I guess they just spoke
to me, because they felt isolated, lost, and alone; things I had felt
a lot in my own life.
People also were a big inspiration. I had observed different types of
people for so long and examined human nature and I just longed to play
around with that, especially secrets and lies. I guess I experienced a
lot of secrets and lies growing up and longed for the truth to come
out. Well, I never achieved that with my own mysteries, so I wanted
Tizzy to succeed, where I had failed. That goes back to my childhood
days of writing a better outcome, I suppose; however, Tizzy is nothing
like me, she’s a far tougher cookie than I am.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t think so. I tend to adapt and change and like to try different
approaches. For me, writing is an exploration. I want to play around
and dabble with different styles, because I feel that, what works for
one book, may not work so well for another.

How did you come up with the title?

Well, I think the title, more likely, came up with me; just, one day,
I got Insane Reno in my head and it would not go away and I just knew
I had to write a book with that title. I had no idea what or how it
would work at the time, but it all came together, in the end. I think
it was made to be. Perhaps, it was God giving me a helping hand and
setting the wheels in motion. Whatever the case, it’s a title I have
loved from the start and I’m sure I’ll always love.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, kids are smarter than you give them credit for. No matter what
you try to hide from them, they see things; notice subtle signs that
something is wrong. All you do, when you hide the bad news is make
them search for it. Honesty is always the best policy, because bad
news, broken gently, in a well thought out way, is better than bad
news discovered alone or from an uncaring source.

How much of the book is realistic?

Well, the settings are real. Bodmin moor and Bude are both real life
places and Charlotte Dymond was a girl who really was murdered on the
moors and yes, people really do visit her memorial on the anniversary
of her death, in hopes of seeing her ghost. My husband and I try to
go, most years. It’s great fun and a little bit spooky, too.
Smuggling, too was common in the area. The Jamaica Inn, on the moors,
itself, is testament to that. So, I guess you could say it’s fiction
surrounded by a few snippets of reality.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Well, there are a lot of my own feelings and experiences fictionalised
in the book, but I think that is true of most books; however, the
story itself comes from my vivid imagination and my characters
occasional shoves, when I am being a bit blind.

What books have most influenced your life?

I guess books that were filled with tragedy, heartache, fear,
struggle, and hope; because that was something I related to and, in
the case of hope, longed for.
Flowers in the Attic, by Virginia Andrews really spoke to me; because,
like those children, I felt abandoned, lost, and alone, and Junk, by
Melvin Burgess, too, for similar reasons. I also devoured anything
about animals, because I longed to work with animals, at that time.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Virginia Andrews and Daphne De Maurier, because their characters are
so vivid, they’re not afraid to be blunt, and they deal with topics
that some people would have shyed away from. I think it’s important to
deal with difficult subjects; to let other people know that they are
not alone, to give them a sense that there are other people facing
similar situations or feeling the same way as they are. That’s what
books did for me, when I was younger, and they also gave me hope that
things could get better.

What book are you reading now?

I’m currently reading a couple of good books; the first is The day I
died, by Polly Courtney, which is a really intriguing read that isn’t
what you’d expect, and the second is Patrick Patterson, by James
Fryer, which is very interesting and is keeping me very absorbed. It
also happens to be published by Raven Crest Books, the very publisher,
who has made my own dream come true by publishing Insane Reno.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Absolutely, I love discovering new authors; that’s part of why I love
my Kindle, so much. Someone who has really got me hooked is Karen
Amanda Hooper. Her book, Tangled tides, made me feel like a child
again, taking me into a magical world that I longed to be a part of
and leaving me giddy for more.

What are your current projects?

My writing very much depends on what is speaking to me at the time. I
would like to say Annie, which is the prequel to Insane Reno is my
sole focus, right now; but, I actually have three books that I am
working on and with regards to which is published first, well, it
really depends on which one calls to me the most.
Annie is on its way, though and looks at Tizzy’s mum’s story; giving
us even more insight into the farm’s past and helping us to see that
life and its many twist and turns have played a huge part on how Annie
has become. I hope that it will give people a little more
understanding of Annie’s actions and also help them to understand that
we are all human and as such, capable of making mistakes.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

My editor, Chuck Jolly; he pushed me, guided me, and encouraged me to
keep going, every step of the way and also helped me to have more
faith in myself. I can’t thank him enough for all of his help.

Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely, it might not make me millions and it may be very hard;
but, it is the only career for me. I couldn’t live without it.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your
latest book?

There are always things I would change. Even if I did a thousand
re-edits, there would be something I would change. I’m a worrier and
so I would always worry it wasn’t good enough and, thus, always make
changes; it’s just my nature. It took a lot for me to pluck up the
courage to let it head out into the big wide world, but I am glad I
did.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

As I said before, it grew out of personal need. It was an escape from
an, at times, less than pleasant reality. I read books and I just
thought; maybe, if I write my own, I can, at least, imagine a better
life. It helped me get through things I probably couldn’t have,
without it.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Of course. I’m gonna choose something with both Jem and Tizzy in it,
as Jem is such a loveable rogue and is proving very popular with the
ladies:

I could sense Jem’s eyes on me, as I laid the table, so I added a
little extra swing to my hips and bent over a little further than was
necessary, as I set each dish in place.
“Your thong’s showing,” My dad said, making me jump out of my skin, as
he strolled into the kitchen, sniffing the air.
“Something smells good,” he added, dropping into his seat at the far
end of the table and gazing at me, with a wry smile.
“Did I interrupt something?” He asked.
“I dunno, did he?”  Jem said, directing his question at me, as he
beamed like a Cheshire cat.
“No!”  I snapped, mortified.
“Guess not then,” he replied, “must have just been my imagination,
playing tricks on me.”  He added.
“What are you on about?”  I growled.
“Oh nothing, it’s just I could have sworn you were doing your best
model swagger and making and extra point of flashing me you’re…” he
paused, mid-sentence, and looked to my father.
“Thong?”  My father replied, with a laugh.
“Well, I was gonna say cute little butt, but thong works.” He added,
and joined in with my father’s laughter.
“Oh, very funny,” I snarled.  “Anyway, what gave you the right to look?”
“If you wiggle it at me, I’m gonna look.”
“I didn’t frigging wiggle it.” I hissed.
“No, but you wanted to and that counts.”  He replied, the smug smile,
still firmly in place.
“Dad,” I cried, “are you gonna let him get away with that?”  I said,
knowing instantly what his reply would be.
“Hey, you were flashing him your thong, so you can fight your own battles.”
“So, if I flashed my thong at a stranger and he grabbed my butt,
you’d be ok with that?”  I asked.
“I dunno,” he replied, then leaning back to look at Jem he added.
“Hey Jem, why don’t you try it and see.”
“Dad!”  I cried, quickly dropping onto one of the bench seats as Jem
turned, eyes full of mischief.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get ya later.” He said, rubbing his hand together,
then turned back to the cooker, switched the hob off and scuttled
towards the table, frying pan in hand.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Staying focused. I always have so many ideas, that I often jump from
one novel to the next and back again, trying to accommodate all the
characters and ideas that are screaming for release.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you
about their work?

Oh, I couldn’t possibly choose just one. There are just so many great
authors out there; however, the one I am really watching at the moment
is Karen Amanda Hooper.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not at present. I tend to stick with my local area for settings, that
or other places I have lived; although, there is a book planned for
the future that might require a bit of a road trip, something to
look forward to.

Who designed the covers?

Well, with Insane Reno, it was actually me; I just had such a vivid
idea of what I wanted that it just seemed easier that way, but that
might not always be the case.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Knowing when to let go. As I said before, I’m a worrier and letting
Insane Reno go out into the world was like waving my son off, for his
first day at school, a very emotional and nerve racking experience.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I think every book is a learning experience and, as an author, you are
always learning new things; but a big lesson I learned from writing
Insane Reno is to try not to over think things, as it just leads to
unnecessary worry and stress.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just enjoy what you do and don’t worry, if someone doesn’t like what
you write, because everyone is different. What some people love,
others will hate.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for taking the time to read my book. Taking the step to
publish is such a scary one and knowing that people are reading and
enjoying it is a great blessing; so, thank you from the bottom of my
heart for taking a chance on Insane Reno. It truly means a lot.

By author Jossie Marie Solheim

Author Website http://jossiesolheim.ravencrestbooks.com/
Amazon Link http://amzn.to/T1kfsB
Facebook Link https://www.facebook.com/jossie.marie
Twitter Link @Jossiemarie84

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Motown Writers Poet Spotlight~ Dimonique Boyd

Dimonique Boyd

“I wish I could disappear into a fine mist, but if I did, someone would probably choke on me.”  The day she uttered this statement in a casual conversation, Dimonique Boyd became fully aware that she…is…a poet.

A daughter of the Café Mahogany days, Dimonique experienced a rebirth in poetry when she became a regular at EchoVerse Poetry and Slam Series in 2007.  She has had featured appearances at the Blushing Sky Honors Series, The Beat Café, Sweet Epiphany,and the Detroit Public Library, among many other venues and shows.
By popular demand, she self-published and released her first volume of poetry, “This is How I Feel: My Life in Verse.”  Her book chronicles her life’s journey from ages fourteen to thirty. Though best known for her love and erotic poems, her writing delves into the socio-political, religious, and Hip-Hop realms.  An admitted Confessional Poet, most of her poems are short glimpses into pieces of her life.  She sees her poetry as both an outlet and an outreach.  She is unafraid to give the most personal parts of herself to her audience because she feels that it’s important to be a voice for who fear that they’re alone or don’t have the words to express how they feel.  No matter the subject of her prose, the focus is always humanity.  We love, we hurt, we cry, we lust, we sin, and she pours it all on the page and the stage to achieve oneness with her audience.
Her second volume of poetry, “Queen of Heart” follows the design of a deck of cards and is written in two parts-Court and Suites. From Ace to “Dimons,” or God to Self, Dimonique offers the full range of her versatility as a writer.

Questions with Dimonique…

Describe what you believe is the purpose of your poetry?

My poetry is for personal self-expression and release, as well as for the expression and release of others.  I write for myself, but I share as a means of giving others someone to relate to. I don’t mind giving the most personal parts of myself because it’s more important to me that someone who feels alone knows that they are not.  I write to heal, change, save lives-even my own.
When you heard your first poem how did it make you feel?

I really can’t remember hearing my first poem.  I grew up as a fan of music and drama.  I’d been exposed to poetry in elementary school. The first poem I learned was “Dreams” by Langston Hughes, which didn’t mean anything to me until I got much older.  I wrote poetry as class assignments through middle school, and I even wrote raps as a kid, but I really didn’t get into and saved by poetry until high school.

Who are some of your favorite poets?

My first favorite poets were Khari Kimani Turner and LaShaun Phoenix Kotaran (then Moore). Some of my more current favorites are Jeff Nelson, Clarity, Rhonda Welsh, UNtitled, and my newest favorite is Andrea Daniel.
What inspires you to write poetry?
What is your favorite poem? (It could be one of your own or someone elses)

My favorite poem is probably still “1999” by Khari Kimani Turner.  I wish more men and boys could be exposed to it today.

Videos:

Dimonique’s Favorite Poetry Quote:  “I love you in melodies too heartbreaking to play…” This Is How I Feel: My Life in Verse, “I Love You in Hushed Tones”

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Poet Spotlight~Caesar Torreano

Caesar TorreanoCaesar Torreano believes poetry is a beautiful vessel of expression. He chose the name  “Caesar” because it means King and fearless leader in Greek. Approximately 2 1/2 years ago, Caesar started his poetic journey and “spit” for the first time at Cliff Belles. Caesar is fondly known as “a venue junky” because he enjoys going to two to three venues in one night. He is extremely diverse in his poetic writing.  His poetry ranges from social injustices/conscious topics, love, and erotica. Caesar is the host at Nandi’s Knowledge Café in Highland Park and will soon celebrate his one year anniversary. In addition, he is a 38-year-old father of five beautiful children and repair computers in his spare time.

Questions with Caesar…

What fuels you to write poetry?

My life experiences and every day encounters fuels me to write poetry.


Do you remember when you wrote your first poem? 

I remember writing my first poem in the 7th grade at Durfee  Middle School for an extra credit assignment in English.

How would you describe your poetry?

Poetry is a learning experience for me therefore trying to  describe my poetry is hard because it covers a wide range of  emotions, it is raw, comes straight from my heart and authentic.

 Who are some of your favorite poets?

I have too many favorite poets to name them all but a few of my favorite local poets are LaShaun Phoenix Kotaran, Kevlaar, Claretha  Peace Robinson, Omari Barksdale and Chace “Mic Write” Morris. Also  one of my non local favorite poets is Rudy Francisco from California.

Videos:

Kai Mann 

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