Meet Author Leigh Podgorski

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In my latest ‘meet the author’ interview Leigh Podgorski describes the many things, beyond just writing, that the modern author has to learn to be adept at. And all of that, for a lot of us, is on top of a hectic family and work life. It takes a special kind of dedication …

Leigh’s latest book was published in June by Solstice Publishing.

What is the title of your latest book?

WESTERN SONG. Western Song is a timeless love story filled with rich unique charactersLeigh 2 played out beneath the wide Wyoming sky about a bull riding rancher and his recently deceased best buddy’s Thai mail order bride As she learns the true power of freedom, he discovers he’s lost his heart.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

Unfortunately today the most challenging aspect is promoting and marketing. Things that once upon a time had nothing to do with “being a writer,” but today are the difference between whether a writer and more importantly a writer’s work will be read or left to wither and die away. The marketplace now is so vast—5.2 million books on Kindle, and counting to the tune of 1 million added per year. That’s a lot of noise to cut through. I always say the writing is the easy part.

Which brings me to the second part of your question: What is the most rewarding part of writing. To this I have often answered: Writing is the best high I have ever had. No substance exists that can fly you as high as writing can. You can create whole new worlds, universes and the creatures who dwell within; you can create love and sorrow—and you can grow the love and heal the sorrow. You can bring back characters from the dead, and kill off the bad guys. You are the creator of your world.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

Write. Write every day. Write even when you don’t feel like it. Write.

 What are you working on at the moment?

Promoting Western Song. I’m also looking at several new projects and deciding which one to tackle first, one is a Mystery/Romance set in a Broadway Theatre in 1949; the other could become a Mystery/Series that begins in the Philippines; and the third book would be the continuation of my STONE QUEST series about a psychic tracker and his nemesis a black magician.

 What do you like to read?

I love a good mystery with well-written complex characters like Elizabeth George writes; literary fiction such as Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett; great horror—Steven King, Anne Rice; family sagas: Susan Howatch; historical fiction. I’ve always devoured anything that Joyce Carole Oates has written. Basically, I like depth, complexity, rich characters—make me weep, make me laugh, carry me off to another time, place, another world.

Leigh 1 Where can readers find you ?

www.facebook.com/leighpodgorskiwriter

https://www.facebook.com/WStheNovel/

http://www.VioletHillsProductions.com

http://amzn.to/2sTk6CM

http://amzn.to/2u4dVsi

 

 

Meet author Cyn Ley

The latest author to appear on my blog is Cyn Ley. I first came into contact with Cyn when she edited one of my short stories for a Solstice Anthology. As you can see below, she is the published author of several short stories herself.

What is the title of your latest book? THE OSSUARY PLAYGROUND AND OTHERCyn 1 UNEXPECTED TALES. It consists of four eerie and touching stories of our world and the ones beyond–whether they are real, or matters of the imagination. One of my readers called it “stunning!” I leave the rest to you.

 My other book is ENCOUNTERS: TALES RECOUNTED AND REBORN. These are the best of my previously published stories from 2014-2016, some expanded and re-imagined. From the blurb: “Ranging from social satire to the paranormal, from fight to flight to friendship, these stories touch base on the encounters of the human experience.” Reviewers have called it “original,” “captivating,” “magical,” “thought-provoking,” and “a satisfying and interesting reading experience.”

Cyn 2 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

Taking your time writing the tale. I think we all get hit periodically with the impetus to hurry through our work—we want that stuff out NOW! The problem is, we tend to leave a lot of the story in our heads and not on paper when we do that.

The most rewarding aspect? There are two. The first is when I can read one of my stories over and say, “Wow. That’s really good.” The second comes when a reader comes up to me and says the same.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

Cat toys. Seriously. Write and rewrite as many times as you need to in order to get your wording absolutely right. Wad up the drafts for your cat to play with. No one’s first drafts are that good. Sure, there may be perfect bits. Your goal is to make the rest of the story as perfect.

What are you working on at the moment?

A collection of short stories based around a central concept, entitled Neighborhood Tales. It’s pretty much what it sounds like—tales of the microcosm right outside our front doors. There will be a lot of humor in this one.

I don’t write in a specific genre. It’s more like my Muse smacks me upside the head and orders, “Write this down!”

 Note to aspiring writers: Always obey your Muse. She hits hard.

 What do you like to read?

Everything. I’m a professional fiction editor by day for Solstice Publishing, which means my work runs the gamut when it comes to genres. (I was voted #6 Top Editor in the 2016 Predators & Editors poll.) Any well written story is worth the time it takes to read it. Beyond that, I love history and folklore and things that are generally rather strange. Finding where stories and facts intersect is a constant source of fascination.

Where can readers find you?

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A cracking time in Dublin

I’ve just been away for a few days – a quick trip to Ireland involving two nights in a hotelP1010404 in Dublin and three beautiful sunny days in which to enjoy lots of sightseeing and plenty of ‘craic.’ Almost everybody knows what ‘craic’ means without needing a translation, but in case you are one of the few that don’t, it can be roughly translated as ‘a fun time with friends’. The word seems quintessentially Irish, but in fact it started out in Middle English as ‘crack’ (meaning a loud conversation), and was borrowed by the Irish in the mid twentieth century. Then, with the change to the more Gaelic spelling, it took on a joyous life of its own over there. It has however subsequently been borrowed back – as in informal  conversations: ‘What’s the crack?’ (What’s the news? How are you?). ‘We’ve had a cracking day out.’

 

P1010435Dublin is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city. It was founded by Vikings who sailed from Iceland across the North Sea, down the Irish Sea, and up the large estuary to a spot where the river Poddle (which is now underground) flowed into the river Liffey. Where the two rivers met, they formed a dark pool, surrounded by fertile soil. The Vikings decided it would be a good idea to settle around this black pool – better known now as Dublin. (Classical Irish / Gaelic for black was ‘dubh,’ and the word for pool was ‘linn’).

The city has a literary feel, with plenty of bookshops, museums connected with writing or specific writers and, if our hotel was typical, shelves of books in all the lounges, and earnest looking young men scribbling away in odd corners. A great environment in which to think about my current writing projects, and catch up on some reading.

 

Postscript: When I was in Dublin, I did no tweeting, blogging, or posting on Facebook. So I was pleased to note when I got home that my new collection of short stories – Cast OffCast Offhad been selling steadily on Amazon, especially as an e-book, whilst I was away. Cast Off includes thirteen short stories based around female characters in plays by Shakespeare. Only one review so far, but it was very positive about the stories. I could do with more reviews and if anyone is looking for something to read on their holidays and is willing to review my collection (and post the review on Amazon, Goodreads etc.) I would love to send you a copy. Just email me with ‘Cast Off review’ in the subject line and I’ll email you back a copy: margaret.egrot@gmail.com

Cast Off, and other stories are always available from Amazon books. And there is always at least one free offer if you want to ‘try before you buy.’

Meet Author W. H. Matlack

W. H. Matlack, who has had several novels and short stories published, is the latest author to appear on my blog this summer. He writes in a variety of genres, including a recent venture into writing a series for  young children (see the end of this post for more information). He has another book released at the beginning of this month.

 What is the title of your latest book?

Latest book title: Grin of the Krocodil.  A new synthetic opiate has been discovered that offers a high that is hundreds of times more intense than Heroin. It’s also many times more dangerous than any other drug as it eats away flesh right to the bone.

Now a chemistry PhD candidate has worked out a formula that makes the drug safe and just as effective. As the word of this modification gets out both the US government and a powerful drug cartel become highly interested in obtaining the formula beginning a deadly tug of war.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

 Most challenging is plot-line development. Character development is the most rewarding. I can spend all day happily developing characters. It clearly releases endorphins when I’m working on characters. Then turning to what these characters should do, or what should befall them, the endorphins evaporate and the grind of plot development kicks in.

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

My top tip for all writers is to read like a writer. Go ahead and enjoy reading your favourite author, but the whole time be aware of how he or she phrases things, handles action sequences, builds characters and manages grammar.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m a third of the way into my sixth novel. It’s a bit too early to tell what it’s about, but it involves a pawn shop and a mystery gun.

 What do you like to read?

Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Carl Barks, Dashiell Hammett

Where can readers find you?

 On Facebook at: W.H. Matlack – Author

Amazon: http://goo.gl/jloZ8w

Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/ufLCJe

Email: matlackpr@att.net

Grandma Explains the Rain (1)

 

Are all book reviews equal?

I’ve been reading quite a lot about book reviews in various Facebook groups recently. One theme has been that even bad reviews can help sell your book. (I believe that JK Rowling has more one star reviews than any other writer, and they certainly don’t seem to have held her sales back).

To date I’ve only had a single one star review – for an anthology in which I had a short story (Mary’s Christmas in Festive Treats): festive-treats

Mary’s Christmas by Margaret Egrot relates the highly boring Christmas of an OAP in a nameless British town. Nothing of note happens. It is related in excruciating detail.

This review came straight after a much more upbeat one for the whole anthology, in which my story was again singled out:

Some of the stories are moving and heart-warming. The story of Mary’s lone Christmas, standing above the rest in the bunch, I feared another outcome, which is testament to the cleverness of how the author made the story unfurl, the resolution made me joyously happy! Margaret Egrot has written a truly beautiful story.

Just goes to show you can’t please everybody.

Despite (because?) attracting the full range of star ratings, Festive Treats has almost never been out of the Amazon best seller list – though the fact that it is free as an e-book might help!

One of my favourite ‘critical’ reviews was for my first YA novel, And Alex Still Has And Alex -coverAcne. The young reviewer hadn’t much liked the book, because she didn’t like books about topics covered by the celebrated author, Jacqueline Wilson. As many readers do though (including me) I was quite chuffed:

The book certainly shows the author’s understanding of the idiosyncratic problems which certain young people today (often described in the novels of Jacqueline Wilson) have to deal with.

Whether one star reviews boost sales or not, it is still re-assuring for an author to get a good first review after a book is published. So you can imagine I was delighted to get the following five star review last week for Cast Off, my recently released collection of short stories based on female characters in Shakespeare’s plays:

One word for this short story anthology? Original. Certainly an odd descriptor for a Cast Offcollection of tales based on the characters in another’s works, but Mrs. Egrot weaves intriguing story lines utilizing some of Shakespeare lesser known supporting characters, and spin-offs from his heroines. My favorite two? “Time Out of Mind” affected me on an emotional level, and “Ban! Ban! Cacaliban” left me wanting more. Each story stands alone on its own merit. If you’ve never even heard of the bard, and you were born in a cave and raised by wolves, you will find a tale here to fall in love with. Thoroughly enjoyed.

On balance, whatever they say about the merits of one star reviews, vis-a-vis five star ones, I know which I prefer for a first review!

All the stories mentioned are available from my Amazon author pages:

All but Festive Treats are also available from Solstice Publishing.

http://www.solsticepublishing.com

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A Blog About Blogging

Today, multi genre author Marie Lavender describes her blogging ‘journey’ – and offers several ideas for new authors thinking of starting a blog. She also has a new publication of her own  out this week – see details at the end of this article.

Blogging: A Journey and Its Benefits – by Marie Lavender.

Marie Lavender LogoWhen I started publishing books back in 2010, I had read about launching a blog. So I went for it. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the first thing about blogging at the time. If you browse through my older entries, you can see the struggle. But we all learn. In 2012, I was invited to guest blog on Nicole Galloway’s site. From that experience I gleaned how it was supposed to look. Of course, over the years I’ve subscribed to numerous blogs, and I’ve picked up little nuances here and there. I kept myself open to trying out new projects, not just with my writing career, but as a blogger.

My first blogging venture was the Writing in the Modern Age blog (affectionately termed WritModAge). It was established in 2010, but I didn’t accept guest writers/authors until

March of 2013. Since then, the blog has expanded into a great place for writers at any stage of their careers to visit for advice, and for readers to find their new favorite authors. Posts range from articles with tips about writing, publishing or marketing, all the way to new releases and book features, cover reveals, poetry spotlights, author interviews, service interviews, the Author’s Bookshelf Feature, occasional multi-author book giveaways, and special annual writers’ participation events, such as our 350th Anniversary post “What Does Your Writing Process Look Like?” On Writing in the Modern Age, we average about 95 guest authors featured per year, but that doesn’t count the new ones that donate books in our giveaways.

Another site I launched around the same time was Marie Lavender’s Books! blog (affectionately named MLB). The MLB blog was established in 2012, when I began writing articles and sharing writer news equally between my two blogs at the time. In 2015, I started accepting guest authors through exclusive author interviews, book spotlight interviews, cover reveals and new release features. We average about 60 to 70 guest authors featured per year on the MLB blog. I still post my own articles on both of those. I have another blog through my author website, offering updates, but that one is definitely smaller for now.

 

The final blog I want to mention is the I Love Romance Blog (ILRB). This blog was launched in 2014, with the intent of centering it on discussions about romance novels, as well as tips on romantic relationships. At first, not knowing exactly where to go with the blog, I posted random thoughts on romance, then started writing and posting romantic poetry. Soon enough, however, I networked and hosted character interviews, and the blog evolved to include other features like new releases, cover reveals and promoting free Amazon days for authors, presenting romantic guest posts, poetry spotlights, special events like multi-author book giveaways, or our latest popular series, “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” Our upcoming feature is titled “Heroes & Heroines”, which will entail a glimpse into each author’s take on a character (what drove them to write the story or kept them up at night). Each year on this blog, we have 60+ guest authors and average about 20,000 visitors and 40,000 total views.

 

So, what are the benefits of blogging as a writer?

  1. You will find your blogging niche. Discover what interests you and tell others about it in a unique, fun way. Plus, you can talk about your books in a manner that doesn’t sound like shameless promotion.
  1. You can meet new readers. I can’t tell you how many people have emailed me, or tagged me on social media, just to thank me for a great blog post!
  1. Readers need a way to keep connected with you. Whether you decide to get into indie publishing or go a more traditional route, you must find a way to reach potential readers. Even traditional publishers expect new authors to have a blog, or at least a website with a blog option. In my case, I have four blogs. I still write articles now and then for my blogs, but I am usually hosting all these great people, you know?

Blogging, however, is a great method for learning about others, and to show readers your utterly human side. Yes, even those foolish mistakes, the wins and losses we don’t always talk about.

My blogs aren’t the New York Times, but I’d like to believe I’ve made an impact on readers and writers alike. None of blogging was easy (don’t get me started on the occasional tech issues), yet in the process I’ve gained author friends and met people whom I never imagined I would. And last but not least, I helped other authors by promoting their work, and even assisted fledgling writers in making their mark on the world.

Marie Directions of the Heart - eBook cover

Thank you for reading about my blogs, and feel free to check out my modern romantic drama collection, Directions of the Heart, which was officially released on the 25th July!

Purchase Links for Directions of the Heart:                  

 

Guest Blogger Bio: Bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 21 other books. Mystery Blogger Award for 2017. A to Z Blog Challenge Survivor in 2016. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 10 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, dramatic fiction, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several multi-author anthologies. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series, The Blood at First Sight Series and The Code of Endhivar Series.

Links:

​http://marielavender.com/
http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/
http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
http://marielavender.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58
https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender
https://twitter.com/marielavender1
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarieLavender/posts

​​http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a
Amazon author page: Author.to/MarieLavender
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender

http://marielavender1.allauthor.com/
http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender
http://www.pw.org/content/marie_lavender
http://manicreaders.com/marielavender/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet author Jeffery Martin Botzenhart

Jeff B 1Jeffery Martin Botzenhart is a writer whose genres have included romance, steampunk, historical, science fiction – and more…

What is the title of your latest book? 

The title of my latest book is Daybreak (Book One of the 4 part Nightfall Series).  The story is set in 2035 San Francisco and revolves around Sebastian, a sixteen year old runaway who innocently accesses a sophisticated virtual reality program, which unknowingly leads to revelations of a world-wide robotic conspiracy.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

For me, the writing itself comes pretty easy.  It’s like sitting back in the seat at a movie theatre and watching this incredible film come to life.  The most challenging part of being a writer is finding readers interested in my stories.  I started out as a romance writer, but I don’t write the current popular trends which seem to be focused on billionaires, cowboys, shape-shifters, and aliens. Jeff B 2

My stories are a mixture of contemporary, steampunk, and historical (with settings such as the Vietnam War and the days leading up to the Second World War).  As for my young adult stories being published by Solstice Publishing, they focus on elements of science-fiction.

For me the most rewarding part of being a writer has been the kind comments and reviews left by those who have read and appreciated what I’ve written.  They inspire me to continue on this journey as a writer.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

Write the story you want to tell.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.  Though I am inspired by other writers, I don’t set out to retell their stories.  Make your story unique.

 What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a family drama set at a lake-side cabin in the Adirondack Mountains.

 What do you like to read?

I’m pretty open to everything.  When I first started reading novels I gravitated toward Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen King.  But later I moved on to stories by C.S. Lewis, S.E. Hinton, and J.D. Salinger.  Although I have been told that I’m a gifted romance writer, this is the genre I least read.

 Jeff B 3

Where can readers find your books?

All my books are available on Amazon Kindle Reads.  I also post weekly on my author page: https://www.facebook.com/jefferymartinbotzenhartwritingjourney/