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Interview with author Michelle Segrest

Q1. Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

Hello! I’m Michelle Segrest from Sweet Home Alabama, and I’ve been a professional journalist for 34 years. Writing and reporting is my passion and I’ve published more than 30 nonfiction books. I also love sailing, tennis, world travel, reading, and adventure of all kinds! I’m 55 and have two adult children, one grand baby, and two beagles (Cap’n Jack & Scout) who are the stars of my children’s book series! In 2018, I departed on a journey to sail the world in a tiny sailboat, and yes, that included a three-week Atlantic Ocean crossing!

Q2 Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘Life on a 20-degree tilt’?

Life on a 20-Degree Tilt is the first book in my Living Life Sideways series. When you live on a sailboat, you are almost always on a heavy tilt. You walk on a tilt, you cook on a tilt, you pee on a tilt. You are just sideways—all the time! That little fact made coming up with the name of the series and Book 1 pretty easy. The cover image shows me looking at the horizon during a sunset. It represents the “calm after the storm” which is the big reward for all the challenges that sailing heavy offshore waters represent. This book series is most definitely “stormy” but I wanted to try and also share the reasons I continue to sail even when the seasickness, storms, and a dangerous skipper sometimes made me want to stop the journey and go home.

Q3. What were the key challenges you faced while writing your book “Blinded by Love & Loyalty’’?

Writing the second book in my memoir series was challenging because this part of the story introduces some of the heavy relationship challenges that began to surface between the skipper and myself. It was a toxic relationship, but I had a hard time understanding that I was being manipulated at the time. I was very dedicated and loyal to the man and the relationship, and that caused me to ignore a lot of the red flags that in hindsight I can now clearly see. Throughout the second book, I wrestled between the intrigue of the escape from the ordinary, the thrill of the adventure, exploring some awesome exotic locations and trying to balance all those great experiences with the personal battles. I truly was blinded by love and loyalty and could not see the signs that were telling me to get away. I believe a lot of women in abusive relationships experience this at times and that’s why it’s so hard to get out.

Q4. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild influenced me greatly. Her testament of courage about walking 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail while battling personal demons was very similar to my own journey of sailing the world while battling personal challenges. She didn’t always love it, but she kept going. And I was determined to do the same thing. I also love all of Lin Pardey’s books as well as Edna Buchanan. I recently began reading some of Jodi Picoult’s books, and I’m finding a lot of inspiration in her work, as well.

Q5. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

There are so many cool places to visit in the U.S. At the moment, Boston is my favorite—mainly because my 24-year-old son, Bo, lives there. Boston is full of interesting American history and it’s also just a very friendly town. The people are amazing! I always say it’s the smallest big city in the world! It has everything a big city has to offer but it feels like a small town.

Q6. Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing a book?

I generally create an outline and have an idea of where to go with the story. But generally, the finished result doesn’t look much like the outline. In the case of the Living Life Sideways series, I worked from very detailed journals and told the story chronologically. It was a little easier because it’s a true story. I got some help from my content editor to weave in some background stories to bring it all together.

Q7. How long did it take you to write your book ‘Captain of my soul’?

Writing The Captain of My Soul took about two weeks. It was difficult because this, the third book in my memoir series, is the darkest part of my story. Reliving some of those dark and dangerous times was difficult, but it was also a big help in my healing. I always encourage victims of domestic violence and narcissistic abuse to at the very least journal their story and all their feelings. Even if they don’t publish their story or share it with others, writing it all down is a very healing process. But we warned, Captain of My Soul is dark — it is very unsettling and disturbing in places.

Q8. On what platforms can readers buy your book set of “Living Life Sideways”?

All my books are available exclusively on Amazon. The individual books are available on Kindle Unlimited, hardcover, paperback and audio. The boxed set launches as an ebook and on KU on Jan. 24 and is available for preorder until launch for just 99 cents. After that it will be $6.99. The boxed set audio is also available on Amazon, Audible and ACX.

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

I mostly write nonfiction, but I’ve been told my books read like fiction. Especially when writing a memoir, I think it’s important to really open yourself up and share intimate details that others can relate to deeply and personally. Sometimes this is difficult because you have to expose all your vulnerabilities and often even your own character flaws. However, I think that’s what makes memoir’s special. Even though the story is personal and unique to you, it’s amazing to see how other people can relate it to their own experiences.

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

The book includes the good, the bad, and the ugly about my journey. There are some amazing experiences as well as deep, dark and often disturbing times. Some of the abuse is subtle, but some is revealed in vivid and terrifying detail. So I guess I would just want readers to know that if you are a victim of domestic violence or narcissistic abuse, then the book may be triggering. But I also believe that if you can get through those parts, you’ll also find the book healing and maybe even inspiring!

Buy the box set of Living Life Sideways on Amazon

Interview with author D.M. Zultowski

Q1. Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

My name is D.M. Zultowski. I guess the first thing about me is that I am from Philadelphia (which is where part of my book takes place.) I studied film at Temple University, and I also have a master’s in theology. I grew up as an only child, so my imagination was really what kept me company while the adults were having their time. I started going to poetry circles and creative writing circles when I was about 15. Talk about being surrounded by adults!

Q2. What were the key challenges you faced while writing your book “Deer in the Fields of Venice”?

“Deer in the Fields of Venice” is a very intimate story for me. Like the relationship someone would have with another person, I had that relationship with the story while it was unfolding. My challenge was my own vulnerability. And I am so happy I allowed myself to be so vulnerable, because that is what allowed me to give “Deer in the Fields of Venice” the respect I hoped to. I hope the reader can share in this journey.

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

A book that keeps its place in my heart is Anne Frank’s diary. I actually have a picture of her on my desk for inspiration while I am writing. Another author who really inspires me is Jerry Stahl. I actually got to meet him once at one of his signings! There are also Stephen King’s “It”, Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”, and Luke Davies’s “Candy”. I also enjoy reading graphic novels and have have found a lot of inspiration in Ellen Forney’s “Marbles” and “Rock Steady.

Q4. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

Easy answer. Reston, Virginia. I was there for a retreat a couple years ago, and I fell in love with it. Reston Town Center is a beautiful area for food and an amazing movie theater. It is also only a short drive to different forests for hiking. Though I got lost once and exited the wrong spot. I actually had to call an Uber to pick me up and drive me to my car that was eight miles away. I guess that’s the price for adventure.

Q5. Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing a book?

I like to make sure I have my facts right according to what I am going to write about. I started writing “Deer in the Fields of Venice” after a trip to Italy, but I still had to make sure I had all my information right. And since my characters are on a trip through Rome, Florence, and Venice, I had to give them a good itinerary for their ten days.

Q6. How long did it take you to write your book ‘Deer in the Fields of Venice’?

I always write my first draft with pencils and composition books. That took me under three months. After that, I started typing it up (which included a lot of changes), then editing, then re editing. The full process to get it to where I let one of my friends look at it took maybe a year of committed work. Like I said, it was a relationship, and I made sure I was spending plenty of time with it.

Q7. On what platforms can readers buy your book ?

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, anywhere else books are sold. I have been reaching out to a couple friends in the UK, so here’s hoping.

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘Deer in the Fields of Venice’?

I don’t want to say too much because the reason for the title actually comes up in the novel. What I can tell you is that deer are very vulnerable creatures. Whenever my mom and I saw them in our backyard while I was growing up, we would just watch them eating the apples that fell from the tree we had. If you ever get to see a mother deer and her young, it is a magnificent sight. But then, they are hunted and the group is separated. How many times does a deer experience that kind of loss, and do they expect the same thing will happen to them? For the cover, I was asked for any input I had for the art department at Newman Springs. All I said was it had to have something referring to Venice. I am so happy with the cover. It shows an exact spot in Venice where part of the story takes place. It is the Venice that our main character, Maurice, sees. And it is the Venice I want the reader to go to.

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

One simple rule I live by: if I lose interest, assume that the reader will as well. One thing I do is I work on it everyday. So, when I was talking about being in a relationship with the book, the first moments of writing something new is like the first few dates. I’m figuring out whether I want this relationship to go further. Then, after I write a little bit and I get to that first speed bump, I ask myself: Is this my story to tell? Is this the right story for me? Am I excited to tell it? Will others be excited to read it? Something about me is that I do not write for myself. I write for other people. I want them to have the experience. But for them to have that experience, I want to share the experience with them. But if I get started and I learn that it is not the right journey for me to take my readers on, then I should find one that is.

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

Hmm, secrets? I really hope to keep my readers surprised. But if I can say something that you can go in with.

Interview with author David Wells

1    Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

Originally from North Carolina, I joined the U.S. Air Force after I graduated from high school. During my first assignment, I met and married Sharon Brown. Honestly, this is the best decision I’ve ever made! During my tenth year as an enlisted member, I applied for and was accepted into the Air Force Medical Service Corps. After 23 years, I retired as a Major. In the years that followed, I worked for a multinational medical company for 16 years, then left to pursue my dream of bringing my stories to life.

2    What were the key challenges you faced while writing your book ‘Walking Out of Time’?

This may sound strange, but “Walking Out of Time” is based on a scene from a recurring dream I had for many years. I always awoke with a deep feeling of melancholy. The more I thought about it, the more it became apparent that there was a story to tell. The most difficult part was building a narration that led two characters to a specific place and time. Then, I had to determine why they were there and what had happened to them. The world-building was tough but knowing the main character’s motivation allowed for creating a viable story world. I had lots of help throughout the process and constantly bounced ideas off people close to me. 

3    What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel “The Historian” had a profound impact on me. Her style is elegant, and the flow is lyrical. Milena McKay and Patricia Evans are wizards at the use of words, phrases, and descriptions. To me, they’re the “gold standard.” Aimi Forton and Abby Taylor are who I look to for world design and character development. 

4    What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

I’ve been fortunate to travel widely and visit so many amazing places. It’s difficult to narrow down a specific place! I’m about to cheat a bit and give you two that I love, each for a different reason. Charleston, South Carolina, is wonderful for its food and atmosphere. It’s our go-to place to spend time when we get a break. The other is Deadwood, South Dakota, which is rich in history and picturesque.

5    Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing a book?

Probably! But, me being me, I jumped right in and started writing. I guess you can imagine how that worked out; not very well. So I paused and did all the research I needed and then continued writing. If I write another book, I’ll definitely employ a process that includes outlining and researching at the start of the project!

6    How long did it take you to write your book ‘Walking Out of Time’?

Twenty months. It seemed like a long time during the process, but now that the book is out, in retrospect, it flew by.

7    On what platforms can readers buy your book ?

It’s available in e-book format, paperback, and hardback on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. Soon, it will be available on my website: WritesWells.com

8    Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘Walking Out of Time’?

There is a deep connection between the cover and the themes of the book: love endures, time, separation, and past and present. I had the help of some talented designers, and we spent a good deal of time discussing how we could condense the entirety of the story into one picture. I think a reasonable summation is to say the cover attempts to bring to life the idea that love continues, even though time is a barrier.

9    When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself? 

The story of “Walking Out of Time” is deeply personal to me. At times, the characters seem real to me, like I could reach out and touch them. In creating the novel, I worked to give the reader something different in theme and format. I hope that the passion poured into it brings a fresh perspective on love and life.

10    Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

A reader, who recently finished the book, contacted me and said, “I didn’t see that coming.” I hope everyone that reads has the same experience. Earlier I mentioned that the story was based around a recurring dream that I had. I’d love for readers to write and tell me which part of the book they think is the dream.

Buy Walking Out of Time on Amazon

Interview with author Daniel Hettenbach

Q1. Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

My name is Daniel Hettenbach. I grew up in Southern Idaho in a poor, working class family.

I’ve been an avid reader since four years of age. I’ve been writing since adolescence. I’ve traveled the Southern U.S after high school. Lived in New Orleans where I did some poetry readings and was published in a small, long forgotten, independent literary journal. Eventually, I settled pretty much permanently in Oregon. I’ve consistently written every year of my life as it is my true respite.

Q2. What were the key challenges you faced while writing your book ‘after.’?

It was the only outlet I had to try to deal with my grief over losing my son. The collection is sequential and covers a period a little over two years.

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Cormac McCarthy, Charles Bukowski, Flannery O’Connor, Heidegger, Steinbeck, The Beat Generation.

Q4. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

The Kilchis River here in Tillamook County where my son’s ashes are scattered. Beautiful, green forest and a turquoise river that flows to the sea.

Q5. Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing a book?

No. I am always writing. Even if fragments, short story ideas, poetry always. It’s instinctual for me.

Q6. How long did it take you to write your book ‘after.’?

It was never intended to be a, “collection,” per say. It just formed. And as my friends read it we talked about me putting it together.

Q7. On what platforms can readers buy your book ?

Currently only available on Amazon in Kindle format. I’ve got pretty severe PTSD and get overwhelmed trying to publish the paperback. Which I’d like to do, but it is daunting.

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘after.’?

The book cover is my original photo. “after.” simply refers to I had a meaningful world and a beautiful son and after he took his life I was unmoored and still cry everyday.

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

My writing constantly evolves and is always contextual being extracted from my existence in this life.

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

Allow no one to put a timeline on your grief. The depth of your sadness is as great as your love.

Buy “after.” On Amazon

Interview with author Mika J Harris

Q1. Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

My name is Mika J. Harris, and I am first and foremost a woman of faith, who has had to learn how to stay hopeful through some messy and tough stuff. I am thankful for a loving and supportive family. I’m a mom of two young men, and I have two lovely grandbabies, and by day manage teams of social workers in the beautiful town of Santa Barbara, California. I am someone who loves people. Who enjoys finding out where people have come from, their culture and their ups and down; so time to share a meal, or a cup of coffee with others is important to me. 

Q2. What were the key challenges you faced while writing ‘Faith Lessons’ book?

One of the biggest hurdles was I was healing from a surgery and going through cancer radiation treatment when I did most of the writing. I was often tired, and unable to focus, while balancing both treatment and writing with working each day. But I made sure to spend time on the book at least a few minutes to several hours every day. At one point my computer stopped working, and the only way I made my content writing deadline was from typing via my phone until resolved. Though, I learned some lessons of persistence.

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

I’ve always been inspired by author T.I. Lowe. Even though she is a fiction writer, and I wrote a nonfiction book, her ability to capture her reader and write a compelling book each time is inspiring. Regarding influence of my own writing, I actually had to pull away from being influenced because I needed to find my own voice and writing style, and not compare what I was writing or how, with anyone else. Because it’s tempting. Though, I sat in webinars, and listened to guidance from other writers/authors during the process, but actually read less books from other people until I was done. 

Q4. What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

There are so many. But to pick a few: Natural Bridge in Virginia is a piece of my childhood that I always enjoy to visit, and hiking Zion in Utah is worth it every time. But overall, I am a beach scene gal. I enjoy some mountains, and nice landscapes, but nothing beats a great view of the western coastline ocean to me.

Q5. Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing a book?

Number one prayer, to make sure the timing was right. Especially in a circumstance like mine, or any circumstance where the timing from the outside looking in looks odd. And also brainstorm, bubble thoughts, go back over any creative notes, study the subject matter, read other books and take note of what you like about them or don’t with book style, format, size, cadence, tone and messaging, etc. 

Q6. How long did it take you to write ‘Faith Lessons’ book?

The writing of the content took six months. Then five months of editing, structure, design, formatting, proofing, and the release. 

Q7. On what all platforms readers can find ‘Faith Lessons’ book to buy?

Faith Lessons can be searched on Amazon markets by looking up Mika J. Harris, available in eBook, paperback and hardcover. And it is also available through Barnes and Noble stores as a hardcover. 

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘Faith Lessons’?

I will start with the title which was different when I started. It was called Even Still Flowers Bloom. I felt very sure of the title until about three months into writing, then changed the title after consult and redirection of what I desired it to do. The cover was just a gift. I had sketched one out, and reached out to different designers around the globe with a written description and one special designer illustrated what is seen now. The in between process is viewing different designs from different people, comparing them against other covers on the market, making sure it engages with the emotion of the book and making a decision on what to go with. 

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

For both, it includes asking questions. Such as, “this is how I am feeling or what I thinking about a subject,” but asking is there something else, something different, or more to consider? And as I chose which personal stories to share, I also made sure to include stories people had yet to ever hear me speak on, so it would be new information someone learned about me. And a great way to support the reader is with a experienced developmental editor who can see the big picture of the book and make sure it supports those who are engaging with it. 

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

Secret? Readers will come to find out fighting hard sometimes means to surrender. For a long time I was unsure of how well I would be walking or doing much of anything by this point in my life, but there was a healing that will catch people by surprise, that changed my future, even though it was considered impossible. 

Interview with author Shawn Herron

Q1. Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

My name is Shawn Herron. I grew up just north of Philadelphia. After high school, I moved around a bit. I graduated from Florida State University. Then I spent five years in the military, serving in the U.S. Army Special Forces; and another five years in Washington D.C., working for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). I decided office life wasn’t for me, so I resigned from my job and traveled around the world for over a year. During my trip, I walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage through Western Europe. This inspired my first book, A Thousand Miles to Santiago, which is a blend of memoir and travelogue, capturing that experience.

Q2. What were the key challenges you faced while writing ‘A Thousand Miles To Santiago’ book?

Walking a thousand miles takes months, but writing a book takes years. It was important for me to build a life that provided me time and energy to write consistently. I took a job at an indie bookshop. This gave me an opportunity to work on a part-time basis. It also allowed me to be around books and learn what I could about publishing.

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

I love Hemingway’s writing style. His scene descriptions really bring me into his stories. Thomas Cahill writes beautiful sweeping historical narratives. While his narratives flow effortlessly, it takes a lot of work to craft such prose.

Q4. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

I’ve always loved Charleston, SC. I visited this southern city several times. Along with beautiful architecture, Charleston has a rich history, delicious food, and vibrant nightlife.

Q5. Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing a book?

I think the biggest thing is just getting started, and then staying committed to working on the project everyday. As long as a writer is working on a project consistently, a lot of the details can be worked out as they go.

Q6. How long did it take you to write ‘A Thousand Miles To Santiago’ book?

It took me a little over five years to write this book. Much of my time was spent researching historical texts related to this pilgrimage. To portray European and Christian history as accurately as I could, I reviewed a lot of historical works. This past year has been spent in the post-development phase working with my editor, cover artist, map maker, and typographer.

Q7. On what all platforms readers can find ‘A Thousand Miles To Santiago’ book to buy?

A Thousand Miles to Santiago is published as both a Hardcover and an Ebook around the world. In the U.S., you can order it through your local bookshop and large book retailers, like Amazon & Barnes and Noble.

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘A Thousand Miles To Santiago’?

A book’s title on the cover needs to be legible on digital devices, which can often show the cover around the size of a stamp. Since my title is on the longer side, it was important that the words take up as much real-estate on the cover as possible. I found a wonderful cover artist named Andy Bridge. We worked on a concept together, and he did an exceptional job of bringing that concept to life. The name itself just sort of came to me one day.

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

It’s important for a writer to be passionate about the story they’re telling. Hopefully that passion comes through to the readers who pick up the book. Creating brings me great joy. I’m always surprised in some way when I write. This keeps things fresh for me.

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

Hmm. I actually never thought of writing this book, or any book about the Camino, during my entire journey. But I was so moved by the experience that I just started writing and it eventually became this book.

Interview with author Max Masure

Q1.  Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

  • I am Max Masure. I use they/them pronouns. I am from France, and I live in Brooklyn, NY, since 2012. I am a proud published author since I released my book ‘You Don’t Suck: How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome’ in March 2022. During my day, I work as a UX strategist for the National Institute of Health and as an inclusion consultant by leading training workshops. I have a fluffy cat named Pinkie and a fantastic 8-year-old, and we laugh a lot.

Q2.  What were the key challenges you faced while writing ‘You Don’t Suck: How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome’ book?

  • My biggest challenge was having imposter syndrome while writing about imposter syndrome! This is my first book, and I never published anything before except a few blog posts. But I kept returning to why I wanted to publish this book: to support people, especially underrepresented folks, getting closer to their inner power so they can find their inner power and overcome imposter syndrome. 

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

  • I knew from the beginning that I wanted my book to have a workbook component. On top of sharing my journey on how I overcame imposter syndrome over the years, I wanted to share the exercises I came up with to support myself in living more authentically and with more confidence. I reviewed a few books with prompts and got a lot of inspiration from them.

Q4. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

  • I love going on silent meditation retreats. My favorite place is Garrison Institute in New York. They have this bamboo forest where I love lying down and breathing, looking up, and listening to the wind going through the bamboo. 

Q5. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing a book?

  • I was swimming in the book’s content for a while before really thinking about a book. I benefited from my self-help exercises, and I wanted to offer these powerful activities to more people. For a few months, my living room walls were covered in sticky notes while I was sorting out all the ideas I had in mind. I needed that time to get everything out of my head before writing the first line.

Q6. How long did it take you to write ‘You Don’t Suck: How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome’ book?

  • I started to imagine the content in the spring-summer of 2020. I tested the prompts and exercises through workshops with a group of folks which allowed me to validate some and improve others. I worked on a manuscript and started to work with my publisher, Publish Your Purpose, who helped me find an editor and a cover designer. I did not need a designer for the inside of the book as I knew I was going it myself, being a designer by trade. I released my book in March 2022. So it took two years.

Q7. On what all platforms readers can find ‘You Don’t Suck: How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome’ book to buy?

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘You Don’t Suck: How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome’?

  • I listened to what my imposter syndrome was telling me when I was not confident, and I kept hearing, “You suck!”. I started thinking the title should be “You suck” so people would relate to the little voice we hear inside of us when we doubt ourselves. And then it clicked: no, we don’t suck!  That’s how I turned the title into “You (don’t) Suck.” I wanted the title to be very large and screaming at the reader, and I had this vision of a visual that would make it seems that it said, “You Suck” from afar, and you would see the “don’t” when you looked closer. I worked with Nelly Murariu on the cover, and she quickly understood what I wanted! 

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself? 

  • I used the workshops where I tried out my content and exercises as a way to test out what connects with my readers. I am now offering imposter syndrome workshops where I use the activities from the book, and I moderate raw, honest, and empowering conversations on the topic of imposter syndrome, confidence, and vulnerability.

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

  • In the book, I share my story that turns around my coming out as a transgender masculine person five years ago and how my confidence grew as I went closer to my inner self. I found my voice and a sense of purpose by sharing my story: I guide people through the prompts and exercises so they can tap into their inner power. My goal is to wake up more and more folks so we can be our true selves and achieve what we deserve.

Interview with author Djehane Hassouna

Q1.  Hello Ma’am, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

My Name is Djehane Hassouna. I was born in Cairo Egypt. I grew up surrounded by gardens full of fruits and flowers and populated with songbirds. I studied at the Lycée Français du Caire as well as the Lycée Chateaubriand in Rome. Our summer vacations in Alexandria Egypt created a special bond between me and the Mediterranean sea… I also studied in Boston, Washington D.C, Vermont, and Pittsburgh. I have always been fascinated by poetry and I kept reading and writing poems throughout my life. I especially love writing about nature. 

Q2.  What were the key challenges you faced while writing your book “Rainbow of Emotions: A Selection of Poems”?

Rainbow of Emotions was my first book, so every step was a challenge: organizing the book, searching for a publisher, working with the editor, coming up with the cover, and the ongoing challenge of marketing the book.  I had written the poems a few years before, but it was definitely a challenge to select the best poems since I like them all. 

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

I was mostly influenced by Victor Hugo, whose French poems still resonate in my ears and my mind. I was also influenced by Paul Verlaine and Jean de la Fontaine. 

Q4. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

My favorite spot in Egypt is the plateau of Giza, where the pyramids’ grandeur continues to revive the ancient Egyptian civilization.  I wrote many poems about them in my book, including “A witness to Eternity,” which features the Sphinx.

Q5. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing a book?

The poems are inspired by my experiences and my surroundings; they are an expression of my soul… So I didn’t really plan or do extensive research for this book.

Q6. How long did it take you to write the book ‘Rainbow of Emotions: A Selection of Poems’?

There were two phases in the creation of “Rainbow of Emotions”. The first phase consisted of writing the poems; it took about three years.  The second phase took four months to put the poems together and two months to work with the editor.  

Q7. On what platform can readers find and buy the book ‘Rainbow of Emotions: A Selection of Poems’?

 Readers can find “Rainbow of Emotions” on Amazon, on Barnes and Noble, on Apple Books, and many others. I have them all listed on my website: http://djehane-poetry.com/books.php.

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘Rainbow of Emotions: A Selection of Poems’?

I wanted to come up with a title that captures all the diverse ideas in the book as well as the common theme of the poems, which is “feelings”.  The cover reflects the title of the book and the nature of the poems. I collaborated with the publisher to come up with something beautiful and fun/whimsical at the same time. 

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself? 

Since “Rainbow of Emotions” is my first book, it introduces the readers to my style. I think they will find it unique…

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

Every poem has its own secret… The poems in the book are not consecutive so readers can go through them in any order they wish, and still relate to each one and discover its deeper meaning independently.

Interview with author R.J. Benson

Q1.  Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

Heyo, readers! I am R.J. Benson, an author of romance, magic, mythology and dips into all the spectrums of romance–hetero or lgbt+. I grew up reading books like Eragon, Harry Potter, the Shannara series, Goosebumps  and Animorphs. Naturally, I wondered how all these supernatural and mythological beings could hide in plain sight, a world within worlds! And over the years, the love of all things supernatural or paranormal has only grown. A little about my background; I grew up in Kentucky, spent a few years in the army and now live in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. I have two beloved puppers who are dear to my heart. They even inspired my pen name; “Riley” and “Jackson.” I love all things superheroes, anime and comics and even went to art school to learn how to make video games. One day, I plan to turn all my books into graphic novels! I’m also a huge believer in supporting the lgbtqia+ and BLM communities and so if anyone needs it, you’ll always have an auntie in me!

Q2.  What were the key challenges you faced while writing ‘Fallen Virtue’ book?

My biggest challenge was writer’s block. They say the first book is always the hardest. Well, it’s true. It took me years to really figure out where I wanted the story to go. For a long time, I only had the first scene in my mind where Zane and Damaceous meet at the nightclub. I didn’t know why or who they were… But once I created an outline, it only took a month or two to write the first draft. And had I not been attending college at the time, FV would’ve been published much sooner.

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

I read a lot of manga/japanese comics and fell in love with the boy love genre called yaoi. But growing up, I was really influenced by K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs, Terry Brooks’ the Shannara series, Christopher Poalini’s The Inheritance saga, JD Robb’s In Death, and of course, Nalini Singh’s The Guild Hunters as well J.R Ward, Kresely Cole, Gena Showalter, Sarah Maas, and Hailey Turner. I love them all and that’s just a few that I know directly influenced my work.

Q4. What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

I don’t travel too often. But one spot my friends and I like to camp is down in Red River Gorge. When I was younger, I visited during the late fall when you can see a “moon-bow” at the waterfall. One of the few places in the world that has one.

Q5. Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing a book?

My process is not entirely complicated… I like to make a summary of each book in the series, get an idea of who’s featured as well as any major plot points. From there, I go through each chapter, and summarize what’s going to happen in a couple sentences, who’s involved, point of view (POV) and again, any major plot points as well as any scene ideas that are already rolling around. Since my books always involve romance to some degree, I break it down further into a main romance arc and if applicable, a sub romance arc. I like an outline but like a pantser, I also don’t want to stifle my creativity so having a guide but leaving my story room for growth is helpful. Characters often like to put their own spin on things and really, we writers are just trying to corral them to go how we thought the story was supposed to be. LOL

Q6. How long did it take you to write ‘Sinful Pride’ book?

Writing SP didn’t take that long. Once there’s an outline, the words flow quickly. What takes forever is editing. And again, at the time I was working on my second book, I was struggling through finishing university. But with all that finished, readers can be assured the time between books will rapidly speed up. There was a two-year gap from Fallen Virtue to Sinful Pride, which comes out on June 25th. But the third book, Defiant Warrior, is scheduled for November, a mere 5 months away. And the last two aren’t far behind. Stay tuned!

Q7. On what all platforms readers can find your books to buy?

Right now, my books are available through Kindle on Amazon in e-book format. They will also be available in paperback. Fallen Virtue is available in ebook and paperback on most stores, just visit my website https://therealrjbenson/books and follow the links there.

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the cover and the title of your books?

Well, the covers feature my main character named Zane, and he starts out in Fallen Virtue as a Fallen angel. In Heaven, he was a part of one of three Dominions–Virtues, Powers and Warriors. So, Book 1 is Fallen Virtue for Zane. Sinful Pride is almost as literal. The second book features a demon named Sinohne, or “Sin” as Zane nicknamed him. Not only is Sin the main love interest, he’s a demon from the Pride faction in Hell. There are seven factions–Pride, Wrath, Envy, Sloth, Greed, Lust, and Gluttony–the seven deadly sins. Hence, Sinful Pride. Get it? Eh? LOL the rest of the series have similar reasons behind their titles but I’ll leave that up to the readers to figure out for themselves! Let me know your best guess when you join my reader’s group on Facebook!

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

I try not to do the same conflict or scene twice. It’ll never be the same twist more than once.  I also am constantly reading other books in my genre and watching readertoks as well as following reader groups to find out what they want to read.

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

*SPOILER ALERT* (Here’s an exclusive secret yet unshared with even my own reader’s group!) While I haven’t nailed down which characters will be featured yet, you’ll meet a few Fallen in a later chapter of Sinful Pride. From a network of Fallen that help support each other when they’re banished to the Earth realm. I plan on writing a spin-off series about the “Band of Fallen.” These Fallen characters become more prominent as the “Of Beasts and Buzzards” series goes on but if you, the reader, are intrigued by the introduction of those characters, you’ll be pleased to learn there’s more to come!

Interview with author Lelita Baldock

Q1. Hello Ma’am, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

I am author Lelita Baldock. I write historical and literary fiction, mostly set in the 1800s. I was born and raised in Adelaide Australia but now reside in England.

I love all things reading and writing, and can be found with a book in hand most evenings.

I live with my wonderful husband and our beloved rescue-cat Jazzy in beautiful Surrey.

Q2. What were the key challenges you faced while writing ‘Where The Gulls Fall Silent’ book?

My biggest challenge when writing is time management. I am not yet at the stage of my writing career where I can enjoy it as my full-time income, so for now it is my side project and I have to fit it in around my day-job as a web-developer. So finding a balance between work commitments, writing commitments and finding time to rest and enjoy life is tough.

But, I am very disciplined and work hard. So long as I have a plan and a schedule in place I will get it done!

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

I have always loved historical fiction. As a teenager my favourite novel series was Earth’s Children by Jean M Auel. Though these novels are set much further in the past than my own, the idea of researching history and then telling a story about the day to day lives of people in the past is exactly the same in Auel’s novels and my own.

Q4. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

I am going to need to give two answers here as I have made my home in two countries. I was born and raised in South Australia, and my favourite place there is a small coastal town called Goolwa. It is where I holidayed as a child with my family, where my husband and I were married and the setting for my debut novel Widow’s Lace.

I now reside in England and absolutely love this country and the lifestyle and opportunities it opens up. My favourite place here is definitely Cornwall. I love the rugged coastlines, the delicious local food and the warm and friendly people. This love inspired me to set my latest novel, Where the Gulls Fall Silent on the Cornish coast.

Q5. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing a book?

For me, yes absolutely. I am 100% a planner. Also, as a historical fiction author I need to put significant time into researching my subject and time period too, so that I can be assured of my accuracy.

I will outline my plot, research the details, and then write up chapter by chapter plans all before beginning.

Q6. How long did it take you to write ‘Where The Gulls Fall Silent’ book?

Where the Gulls Fall Silent took me around 6 months to get out on the page in first draft form. Then around another 5 months of personal editing and working with my line-editor Lucy Skoulding , of Starlight Editing to get it ready for publishing.

Q7. On what all platforms readers can find ‘Where The Gulls Fall Silent’ book to buy?

Where the Gulls Fall Silent is available through Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback.

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘Where The Gulls Fall Silent’?

The title comes from an old Cornish fisherman superstition. Life as a fisherman was harsh and dangerous. Most men could not swim, yet they spent their days in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Rough and unpredictable storms can sweep down the coast, so their is a significant chance of coming into difficulty while fishing.

Because of these dangers many superstitions developed in Cornwall around the water. One of which is that the seagulls will fall silent when they fly over water where a fisherman has drowned. This is where I drew my title Where the Gulls Fall Silent from.

The cover is an absolutely stunning piece of personal art painted by my dear friend @Creatively_Kimberly. She read the novel and we talked about the title and it’s meaning and then she developed the painting. It is absolutely perfect.

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

I am really big on changing up sentence lengths, so readers aren’t always working through long, drawn out paragraphs. Short and catchy sentences really help to change the pace and keep the reading experience interesting.

For myself, writing hasn’t become tedious yet. Perhaps because it is something I have to make time to do and I want to do, when I sit down I really enjoy typing away and living in my own little world for a few hours.

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

I don’t want to say too much, but the title is very relevant to the story, but perhaps not as you might expect!

Lelita’s social media details are:

Twitter: @LelitaBaldock

Instagram: @LelitaBaldockWrites

Facebook: @LelitaBaldockWrites

Website: lelitabaldock.com