Author Interview: Rita Emmett

Farkle Shark was feeling blue. His big sister Sparkle criticized the way he talked. But when Big Bully Boy called him stupid because he can’t climb trees, Sparkle jumped to her brother’s defense. Her advice, followed by a wild adventure, changed his attitude … and his life.

This fun and funny book will bring on laughs, cheers and an understanding of important life lessons about bullies and feeling stupid. (Haven’t we all felt that way some time in our lives?) Four to eight-year-olds and beginning readers will love Farkle’s story.

Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the author of Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid, Rita Emmett!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born, raised and still reside in Chicago area, home of the Cubs. Have you heard about them ever?? I am married to a very cool – but slightly goofy – husband and have 5 kids who had the audacity to grow up.

College studies for me was a bit stretched out … in between having and raising kids PLUS the fact that I was The World’s Greatest Procrastinator, I took night classes… occasionally. From start to finish it took 18 years to get a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree. Then I stopped procrastinating. I converted.  Now I am a “Recovering Procrastinator”.

In the next 2 and ½ years, I earned a Master’s Degree in Adult Learning. I still passionately love paying attention to how people think and how they learn.

Next, I wrote a few books that became best-sellers.
The Procrastinator’s Handbook,
The Clutter-Busting Handbook and
Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress.

Now my latest book, Farkle Shark You Are Not Stupid is also my first picture book. It’s not a best-seller …. Yet.

Some of my favorite things to do are traveling, talking and writing. Guess what? I’m a Professional Speaker! People pay me to talk!! And they pay for me to travel to where they are!! And THEN these people buy my books!!! And (this just gets better and better) other people also buy my books. Over 310.000 copies in 32 countries have been bought … and hopefully read. So I am a lucky ducky who loves what I do and am enjoying life.

One more important fact to add to my biography. I rode a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back, then a few years later, I rode a horse to the bottom of the other side. That has nothing to do with my professional life. I just wanted you to know it.

2. Why did you start writing?
When I converted from being The World’s Greatest Procrastinator, the only books on the subject were by psychologists for psychologists. Not helpful to me. Not what I was looking for. Then I kept meeting procrastinators who felt hopeless – that their “putting off habit” was just the way they were born. A personality trait. A character flaw. And could never be changed.

But I had converted, I KNEW they could change and I knew how. So I wrote The Procrastinator’s Handbook — the book I wished was available when first began my journey of change. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who wanted a book written by an “average person”. Others wanted that type of book also. My very first published writing sold 100,000 copies its first year.

3. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid?
Yes, for many years, one of my favorite quotes, which is attributed to Einstein, is: Everyone is a genius. But if a fish is judged by how well it climbs a tree, it will live its entire life feeling stupid. The moment I decided to write this picture book (OK, OK – it’s not exactly a novel but it’s my very first fiction) was when I was speaking at a conference for Special Ed teachers and I realized they did not know that quote. I feel it’s important for everyone – including every child, parent, teacher and especially special ed teacher – to hear this quote.

My book, Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid is for those kids we’ve all met who think they are stupid because they are not doing well in school, but when they talk about trains or dinosaurs or whatever they are interested in, they are brilliant. Farkle Shark helps them learn to focus on their strengths instead of weaknesses.

4. How different is the final product (the book) from your original vision? That is, did the structure and content of the novel change with the passage of time?
The biggest difference is that since I knew nothing about picture books, I wrote the whole text while still learning. First lesson: “Write to the illustration”. Bummer – that meant my first four illustrations would be the same two fish talking. Boring.

So I went back, re-wrote and had Farkle Shark use odd sayings on each page such as “Holy mackerel mailbox”. This gave the illustrator opportunities for fun creativity as big sister Sparkle Shark mocked his goofy expressions and imagined hilarious images in a cloud above their heads.

In turn, that created a big sister who picked on her little brother but later she helps “set-up” for him to become a hero with the monkeys who have called him stupid because he can’t climb trees. I’ve received many emails about how that has pointed out to kids that siblings can tease and even battle with each other but they are the first ones to defend each other if one is getting bullied or picked on.

5. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
When writing articles, newsletter, things like that, I sit at my computer in my office. Thoughts go from my brain to the keyboard. Not so with writing a book. I never have written any part of a book in the office. The text goes from my brain to paper to the computer. My favorite is to write alone outside but living in the Chicago area, that’s not always possible. So I also write at the airport, on planes, in doctors’ offices, in the living room … anywhere but the office. And no, I can’t explain why because I don’t know why.

My books are all written after 9 at night until the wee hours. Other stuff I can write any time of day.

6. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
It seems I don’t think in a linear fashion like they taught us to outline in school. So I’ve used mind-mapping for all my books. Love it.

7. Any project in the works?
Yes, am working on a second Farkle Shark book for kids who feel different or weird. It’s great fun but I have ideas for two other of my “real books” (adult self-help) that will not leave me alone. I’ll start those after this picture book is complete, but yes, I am jotting thoughts and notes about them now.

8. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

  • Read the type of book you’re writing.
  • Do tons of homework. Learn about writing, specific needs of your genre, self-publishing vs. trade publishing, agents. Learn, learn, learn.
  • Have others read your book for comprehension, editing and proof reading and ask for feedback.
  • If only one person doesn’t like something, but several others do, pause and evaluate — who do you want listen to?
  • If you don’t think you’re a good writer but feel called to write, take a writing class.
  • We make time for what’s important to us. Mark “Time to Write” on your calendar and honor it as an IMPORTANT appointment that must not be changed or missed.
  • And most of all — write.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Dogs or cats?
Cats

2. Cake or ice-cream?
Cake

3. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book

4. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Having telepathy

5. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Being able to travel to the past

6. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Being Spider-Man for a day

7. Reading or writing?
Writing

8. To find the love of your life (only to find out that you’re not the love of their life) or to have someone declare you the love of their life (note, however, that this someone is not a person whom you are romantically interested in)?
To find the love of my life (only to find out that I’m not the love of their life)

9. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Being able to speak and understand every language known to animals

10. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
Never eat solid food again

11. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous)

12. Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk or eating a bowl of cold, slimy worms? (Note: the worms would be dead, though not cooked.)
Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk

13. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
Losing my ability to hear

14. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
To never watch another film

15. Spending half a day locked in a coffin (there would be a hole for air, of course) or spending two days trapped at the bottom of a well?
Spending half a day locked in a coffin

Thank you for joining us, Rita!
Readers: want to connect with Rita? You can find her on Goodreads and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her author website.

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New Release Alert & Giveaways: Puppy’s Bubble

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Title: Puppy’s Bubble (the Talking Tales series)

Author: Erica Graham

Genre: Children’s book

Release Date: March 23, 2017

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SUMMARY

When Puppy wakes up from a nap, he sees a bubble. When it disappears, Puppy begins his long journey to find the missing bubble. Will Puppy find the bubble, or has it vanished forever? This engaging story is a fun way to read to little ones while promoting babbling, early words and language skills. It provides over 90 examples of some of the earliest developing sounds in their most common word positions including “p”, “b”, “m”, “n”, “d” and “h”. This book also includes tips for encouraging speech development.

Purchase your copy today!


GIVEAWAYS

Click here to be taken to the list of giveaways associated with Puppy’s Bubble!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ERICA GRAHAM graduated from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville with her Master of Science Degree in Speech Language Pathology. She also holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence with the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. As a mother, Erica understands the difficulty caregivers have finding time to work on speech with their children. In her pursuit to create a fun easy way for therapists, children, and their caregivers to enhance speech development while promoting literacy, she has written a series of exciting children’s books. Each book focuses on a core sound used in the English language.

Outside of writing and working as a Speech Language Pathologist, Erica enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and daughters, volunteering with the youth group at church, and a good cup of tea.

To check out Erica’s interview from when she visited Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar earlier this year, click here.


OTHER TITLES IN THE TALKING TALES SERIES INCLUDE:

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New Release Alert & Book Trailer Reveals: An Accident

Title: An Accident (Andrew Sister’s #2)

Author: Lindsay Marie Miller

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: March 28, 2017

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Synopsis

Amy Andrews is an aspiring young artist living alone in the heart of New York City. With an acceptance letter to NYU in the mail, her dreams of opening her own Manhattan gallery one day appear within reach.

Until Austin Taylor crosses her path. A smooth talkin’ country boy from Southern Missouri with a knack for the culinary arts. What starts as innocent flirtation quickly blossoms into a passionate love affair, branded by sweet temptation and burning desire.

But when a heavy dose of reality drives them apart, will their whirlwind romance come to an end?

Or is their love the kind that lasts a lifetime?

Spin-Off of An Arrangement
With Appearances by Benny & Claire Lewis
*Can be read as a Stand Alone*

Purchase your copy today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK

More in the series!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble

About The Author

LINDSAY MARIE MILLER graduated from Florida State University Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. An author of Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense, she enjoys writing about strong heroines and the honorable gentlemen who claim their hearts. The author resides in her hometown of Tallahassee, FL, where she is currently working on her next novel.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Mailing List

Book Trailers


(Hello! It’s Jessica — the founder of Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar. I had the pleasure of getting to put together the trailers for An Arrangement and An Accident. If you’re an author in want of a trailer like one of these, I encourage you to visit Stellar Book Trailers in order to view my portfolio and learn more about my packages!) 

Author Interview: Becky Benishek

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming children’s author Becky Benishek. Her debut novel — What’s at the End of Your Nose? — hit virtual shelves earlier this year. Before we sit down with Becky, let’s take a quick look at the aforementioned title’s blurb:

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Sidney Snail is so sick of Slipperyville that he wants to go on an adventure—any adventure—anywhere but here! A timely word from mysterious Old Samuel Snail convinces Sidney to give Slipperyville one last chance before he snails out of town. Experience a snail’s-eye view as Sidney awakens the world around him.

Sidney will help show children (and adults!) that they can find magic, mindfulness, and meaningfulness in even the simplest things. All you need is a change of perspective.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m Becky Benishek, born and raised in Wisconsin. Most of my family is still here and I’ve got a great group of friends, so I’m happy to stay.

College was grand; I went to Lawrence University, which draws in people from all different cultures and countries. I learned as much if not more from my friends as I did studying for my English major. I added in Environmental Science because I wanted to use my words to help animals and the environment. My work career took a different, fulfilling path, but I feel that in writing these children’s books, I am starting to achieve that long-held desire. I’ve started with animals and plan to move on to trees.

I’ve worked at the Crisis Prevention Institute for six years now, doing social media strategy and managing online Yammer communities for our customers to share strategies and success stories. We’re all about person-centered care and safe outcomes for everybody, whether you’ve got an agitated patient in your emergency department, a child with special needs in your classroom, or a client in late-stage dementia who just wants to go home. Our customers inspire us, and my coworkers are amazingly supportive (and excited about my books!).

I love singing and listening to music, playing with my guinea pig, Teddy, who is the latest in a long line of rescue guinea pigs, building intricate Lego structures, beading, going to Renaissance Faires, playing video games, doing logic puzzles, and hanging out with friends even if we’re doing a whole lot of nothing. Libraries and bookstores are my haven.

I also stick googly eyes on things because it’s fun. It’s also a marvelous ice-breaker. Try it!

2. Why did you start writing?
I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t writing. Of course there must have been; but it’s seamless in my mind. It just was always a part of me, something I had to be a vessel for, something I had to get out. I can be just as lazy as anyone, though! When I’m not in the grip of inspiration, plugging away at a plotline is definitely work and takes discipline.

3. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your debut novel?
“What’s at the End of Your Nose?” happened when I saw a series of photographs about snails that uncovered a whole new world, right down at their level. Unusual things I hadn’t expected snails to do.

The idea percolated in me, ticking over in the back of my mind, and I thought, what if this were just one snail, and this was that snail’s day? Early one morning I got up, sat down at the kitchen table, and wrote the entire story. Writers (and other creative people) can be notorious for self-doubt, but I knew I had something when I finished. And then I had breakfast.

I originally had Sidney Snail coming to his final realization in a slightly different way. After I’d let a little time go by—I always do that when I finish a piece, to clear my mind–it just didn’t work for the character, so I changed it to what you see today.

4. How did you arrive at your novel’s title?
Originally, “What’s at the End of Your Nose?” was called “Sidney Snail’s Great Day.” I had it as the latter all the way up until final editing. For one thing, the title was too close to “Gracie Goat’s Big Bike Race” in my mind, and once that got into my head, I couldn’t shake it. Also, it didn’t really convey what I wanted it to. I wanted the title to be truly evocative of what happens in the story.

5. Does What’s at the End of Your Nose? have a moral?
We live in a fast-paced world. We’re surfeited with things to do, yet still find ourselves being bored. I think that’s because we often take a passive role to being entertained. All these options keep coming at us and we just have to sit back to be served. But then we aren’t really choosing what to do, and so don’t really find what we’re looking for because we’re not actively looking. And we remain distracted and bored. Sidney Snail’s whole journey begins the moment he decides to give his immediate world another try.

It’s important for all of us to slow down, take a look around, and give the seemingly simpler things a chance. We so often miss what’s right in front of us–at the end of our nose!

Here’s a secret: I didn’t think of all of this as I was writing. I knew I wanted Sidney to have a journey. I knew he’d learn something important, something that kids could learn, too. But I didn’t realize the depth of it until after I’d had time to reflect and look at what I’d created.

6. What is your favorite book?
Agh, the desert island question! Yet I can’t help but answer it anyway.

“The Once and Future King” by T.H. White. I didn’t even like it the first time I read it. This wasn’t my King Arthur! I thought, having previously read Malory and Pyle. What’s with all these ants and Merlin’s owl and odd nicknames?

The second time, I was hooked forevermore. That book has everything in it. How to survive, how to listen, how to learn, how to remember. How to look at things a different way. How to realize once and for all that might does not equal right.

All that with an enviable style; yes, this is my desert island book.

7. Any project in the works?
Yes! I’ve started getting my third children’s story ready; I’m targeting Fall 2017. I’ve got a fourth story, a true picture book, next in line. I also have a middle-grade story out to agents and publishers.

When I get through all of those, I’ll focus on polishing and writing more adult short stories, which are intended for a collection.

8. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Stop thinking about writing. Stop thinking about stopping thinking about writing. When you’re thinking about it, or saying, “I really should write today,” or “Everybody be quiet, I’m writing!” you’re not writing. It’s a tricky paradox because the whole thing involves forgetting about yourself, about that “I” in the back of your head, yet you still have to be there to do it.

There’s a passage in Madeline L’Engle’s book, “A Ring of Endless Light,” where the lead character, Vicky, describes how when she’s writing a poem, she’s not thinking about herself, but she’s more herself than at any other time. This always rang true to me.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?
1. Books or movies?
Books

2. Dogs or cats?
Guinea pigs!

3. Summer or winter?
Summer

4. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book

5. Reading or writing?
Gahh, my brain broke at trying to choose.

6. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
“Certainly, my home at my uncle’s brought me acquainted with a circle of admirals. Of Rears and Vices, I saw enough. Now do not be expecting me of a pun, I entreat.”

7. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Animal language!

8. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Going without watching movies/TV. I can’t help it. Internet!

9. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
Expressway. Unless I can speak animal language by this point and prevail on nearby deer or hawks to get help.

10. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
To never speak again.

11. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
Never watch another film.

12. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Ha, I never drink coffee, so all the chocolate for me!

13. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
Two inches tall. This world is still not built for the differently-abled, but I’ve read the Borrowers…

Thank you for joining us, Becky!
Readers: want to connect with Becky? You can find her on Twitter and Goodreads. Also, be sure to check out her blog and author page on Amazon.

Author Interview: R.L. Jackson

33785759A year after being left at the altar, headstrong E.R Nurse, Lana McKenzie is finally piecing her life back together. Tired of dealing with seeing her ex and his new girlfriend at every turn, she longs for blissful solitude and can’t wait to enjoy a peaceful vacation alone in the mountains. However, her plans go awry when a rude stranger literally embeds himself into her life and mind.

Handsome, wealthy, and troubled, Kayden Capshaw is struggling with the death of his brother, while also trying to escape the claws of his controlling mother. In his grief, the last thing Kayden wants to deal with is the fallout from his last run in with the law. Yet, he also longs to get to know the woman now snowed in with him at the house on the hill.

The ice between them thaws every minute they spend together, and they find that they have more in common than they realize. Will they find a way to make it through, or will it all, like the snow, melt away?

Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar is proud to present the author of Crash Into Me, R.L. Jackson!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m from sunny South Florida. I enjoy unwinding by binge-watching TV and movies when I’m not writing. I’m a full-time writer at the moment.

2. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
Oh yes, I had read a few other romance novels for the first time in a long time and although I enjoyed them, I noticed a similar pattern and story plot. I wanted to try and do better and give people something a little different.

3. How different is the final product (the book) from your original vision?
It stayed on track for the most part, but there were definite moments when the story took off in different directions than I had anticipated. It makes writing that much more fun and easy, when the story just “vomits” out of you lol.

4. How did you arrive at your book’s title?
The title for “Crashing Into Me was hard fought. It was actually named several other things, but I hated them all. I thought of things that related to the story, I tried to be literal, I tried every mashup known to man that made sense and also wasn’t already taken in Amazon. Crashing Into Me, was the ultimate winner, and it really relates to the characters and story perfectly.

5. Does your story have a moral?
I guess the moral of the story would be that second chances are possible and that forgiveness of oneself is just as important when you’re seeking it from others.

6. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I usually write out several different idea plots then outline them from beginning to end. If none jumps out, I mix and match to see if that makes sense until I have a product I like. From there as I write I let the characters dictate if the outline makes sense.

  • Do you listen to music as you write?
    I do listen to music. Either before or when I take a break and need to work out the mood of a scene with a similar song. It helps greatly.

7. What is your favorite book?
Why “Crashing Into Me” of course lol. Not only is it a tale of opposites attracting, it’s a story of people with real problems. When they’re forced to have to deal with each other, and they have to let their guards down a little but in very different ways. This opens the door for a whole lot of friction, both good and bad (wink). But nothing is ever a bed of roses, and Kayden and Lana will stumble as they learn this the hard way.

8. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
I think what ultimately makes a story good, is if it’s believable and the reader can put themselves in the characters shoes with ease. Of course being original is a plus as well.

9. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write. Get up and even if you only have 10 mins, write it down. Write the story you want to read, but do your homework as much as possible on the business side of writing. The hard part my appear to be writing, but I find that the easiest of the task. It’s the marketing, advertising, and networking side that hardest work, in my opinion.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Cake or ice-cream?
Ice cream

2. Car or motorcycle?
Car

3. Ebook or physical book?
Physical

4. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis

5. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Past

6. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Call

7. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Airplane

8. Losing all of your money or losing every picture you’ve ever taken and every picture that has ever been taken of you?
Pictures

9. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Wow, good question. I choose love everytime

10. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Neither, lol Mystique

11. Reading or writing?
Writing

12. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Animals i think

13. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
Busy expressway

14. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be Christmas?
Christmas!!!

Thank you for joining us, R.L.!
Readers: want to connect with R.L.? You can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her author website.

Author Interview: Peri June

34053143Even the people closest to you can be monsters.

Maggie Martin is plagued by nightmares.
This hasn’t always been the case. She used to be your typical 17-year-old, worrying about boyfriends and college applications.
Until, one night, when she wakes up to the sound of screaming and witnesses the unthinkable. Now she’s scrambling to put the pieces of her life back together, which is not as easy as everyone would like her to believe.
Especially when she’s struggling just to BREATHE.

With the help of new friends, and a new love, will she be able to put her life back to rights? Or will the past come knocking once more?

It is my pleasure to introduce you all to the author of My Life As I Knew It, Peri June!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Peri June. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. I am a nocturnal creature of the worst kind. Reading (and writing) is just so much better at night. I have a very selfish sweet tooth. If you put something made of chocolate in front of me, I will eat it, even if you tell me not to. Lol.

2. When did you start writing?
I have always scribbled down ideas whenever I had them, but I was never serious about it. I only decided to sit down and write a few years ago. I released my first book in January.

3. Why did you start writing?
It’s an amazing escape from everyday life.

4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
Yes. It was summer a couple of years ago. I had the idea for “My Life As I Knew It” and I didn’t want to forget it, so I started writing and, before I knew it, I had written the whole thing. The concept of the story as a whole didn’t change, only the details did. One character that was supposed to be only mentioned in passing became a solid supporting character and my personal favorite. That was a nice surprise.

5. How did you arrive at your book’s title?
The title of “My Life As I Knew It” came to me when I first thought of the idea for the book. It was the only title I considered.

6. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
Like I mentioned above, the character of “Kevin” wasn’t supposed to be an actual character, but I felt there was more to his story and I decided to explore it and then he became my favorite. The character that was the most fun to write has to be the main guy “Sam”. I simply love his sense of humor.

7. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in My Life As I Knew It.
Maggie: Smart, loyal, funny, anxious.

8. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I like to write exclusively at night, in my living room, after the whole world goes to sleep. I don’t really have a specific word count to get through. I write until the words stop coming and then continue another day.

9. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
Definitely for them. More often than not, I deviate from my original outline, but it’s still nice to have a clear picture of where you want to take the story.

10. Any projects in the works?
I’m currently working on a story set in college. It’s still in the early stages, but I’ve already deviated from the outline!

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books.

2. Dogs or cats?
Dogs.

3. Summer or winter?
Summer.

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Ice-cream.

5. Car or motorcycle?
Car.

6. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book.

7. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in.

8. Living in the city or living in the country?
Living in the city.

9. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis.

10. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Being able to travel to the past.

11. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Making a phone call.

12. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Travelling by airplane.

13. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Staying in a hotel.

14. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Being Spider-Man for a day.

15. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind.

Thank you for joining us, Peri!
Readers: want to connect with Peri? You can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her blog.

Author Interview: Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon

a-place-in-the-world-final-lo-resWhen her Colombian husband deserts her on his family’s coffee farm in a remote part of the Andes, Alicia struggles to make a life there for herself and her son even as guerrilla uprisings begin to threaten the area, and a nearby volcano rumbles to life. She forms a steadfast friendship with the barefoot housekeeper and a rugged geologist provides a love interest. This passionate story, about a young biologist and a multinational cast of characters, is like a South American “Out of Africa” in the final decades of 1900’s.

Sounds like an interesting read, doesn’t it? With us in the virtual studio is the author of the award-winning novel A Place in the World. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon! 😀

on-cover_1526ps-crp1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

  • Where you are from?

I grew up in Europe and South America. My dad was in the Air Force and then worked for different embassies; when I was 12 he retired in Costa Rica and I lived there the longest, so I used to say I was from Costa Rica. Americans didn’t believe me, maybe because I have light hair and eyes, but interestingly, Spanish speakers did!

  • Where do you currently reside?

I have lived in northern California for so long now I tell people I am from California.

  • Do you have any hobbies?

I photograph wildflowers and study French.

  • What do you do for a living?

I am a retired hydrogeologist. I volunteer now for a local creek group; we are trying to restore our downtown stream, which is partially encased in broken concrete. I majored in Geology and Biology which I sprinkle into my writing (a cloud forest features so prominently in A Place in the World that one reviewer called it a character.)

  • Give us a few fun facts about yourself.

I wanted to be a rainforest biologist and that didn’t work out, but the novel gave me a chance to research and write about rain forests.

For years I was a volunteer with Guide Dogs for the Blind, which involved (before they begin their formal training) teaching the puppies how to behave in public and getting them used to every situation they might encounter, including traffic, loud noises, elevators, restaurants etc. A couple of our “puppies” are still “working” for people who love them.

I have a fun Pinterest site, Readers, Where in the World are You?”  where I ask readers to submit a picture of themselves with my book or any book. I have photos sent by people as far away as Japan and England.  If interested in adding to my photo “collection” please let me know!

2. When did you start writing?
I think I’ve been a story-teller since I was a kid. I used to make up stories for my little brother – he was a wonderful audience and hence the first person to encourage me! I submitted my first short story when I was 12 or 13.  Another short story, published in “Bacopa Literary Review” with a collection of other authors a few years ago, won honorable mention with GlimmerTrain Press.

3. Why did you start writing?
There are a couple of answers here: a.) I just did; without thinking about it, almost as a compulsion. I always had a story in my head that wanted to get out; b.)The other answer is a common one with writers whether we know it when we start or not: it is a way to process information, understand our own lives and share experiences and bits of knowledge we find interesting.

4. How did you arrive at your book’s title, A Place in the World?
wfall-hana-rd_840psI came up with it fairly early as the setting, a coffee finca (farm) surrounded by cloud forest, became a key element.  It is a double entendre because the story is about a young woman finding her “place in the world.”

Briefly, I thought I might call it A Woman without a Country, because the protagonist is seen as a foreigner wherever she lives and feels like a foreigner in her parents’ home country because she has never lived there.  I ended up using that for a chapter heading instead.

5. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
Carmen is the barefoot woman who has worked for this Colombian family since she was a teenager. She is ever cheerful despite a tough life. Carmen befriends Alicia (the protagonist) who is a young mother without any relatives and living in an isolated place.  All of the other characters are fictional, but Carmen is based on our housekeeper who was so kind to me when I was a teenager.  This is my tribute to her.

6. Let’s talk about what a typical writing session looks like for you.

  • Do you listen to music as you write?

Sometimes I’ll listen to something like Mozart (studies show his music stirs creativity).

  • What is your preferred writing time?

I sit down after breakfast and write most of the morning and sometimes after lunch, but I tend to be brain dead as the afternoon progresses. If the house happens to be quiet I’ll write for an hour before dinner, but most often I start again after 9pm. I get a lot done on planes and on vacation.

7. How do you feel about outlines?
I start out just writing scenes as they come to me and at some point piece them together through an outline to organize the plot.  This is what works for me.  I think an outline helps at some point structure a novel and allows you, for example to go back and foreshadow, but starting out that way would give me writer’s block!

8. What is your favorite book genre?
I love historical and multicultural fiction.

9. What is your favorite book?
I have more than one, but my favorite author is John Steinbeck. I love East of Eden, Mice and Men  and especially… Cannery Row – one of my all-time favorites because the characters and setting (Monterey, California) are magnificent! At the time I discovered it I was living in Latin America never dreaming someday I would live in California.  Many years later I worked in Steinbeck’s Salinas Valley and had the feeling I’d “come home.”

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?
1. Books or movies?
Both!

2. Dogs or cats?
Both! (Uh-oh I may not be good at this!)

3. Summer or winter?
Spring ( ok if I must pick I guess summer)

4. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book.

5. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in

6. Living in the city or living in the country?
Country

7. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telepathy

8. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Text!

9. Working in a group or working alone?
Usually concentrate better alone

10. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Love.

11. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
Rap sounds more fun!

12. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Hard one, but I vote for animals!

13. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
Expressway

14. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
The former (you have to stay awake to walk anyway!)

15. Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk or eating a bowl of cold, slimy worms? (Note: the worms would be dead, though not cooked.)
Curdled milk

Thank you for joining us, Cinda!
Readers: want to connect with Cinda? You can find her on Goodreads and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her author website/blog. Interested in purchasing a copy of A Place in the World? Click here for a physical copy. Click here for the e-book.