Author Spotlight: Jennifer Ponce

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Jeninfer Ponce is an urban fantasy author who published her first book The Bazaar in January, 2014. She works as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as travels throughout the Panhandle of Nebraska to speak about healthy relationships, the dynamics of intimate partner violence, and healthy sexuality. She’s been reading since forever and thinks the only bad book is one that hasn’t been written yet.

Authors Welcome had the opportunity to asked Jennifer a few questions about her book and her writing process.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Jennifer: The idea for The Bazaar started as a dream. Devany Miller, my main character, didn’t come until later, when I realized that the dream was only a scene. A good scene, but still, one scene does not a novel make. I had to work backward from the scene to figure out who it was happening to, why it was happening, and where I’d go after that. It took quite a bit of playing around with words to get to the book I have now. The first chapter was the hardest and I swear I rewrote that at least ten times. Completely rewrote it. Scrapped the old, started again. Good thing, too. I love the beginning now and it was worth the sweat and tears.

AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Jennifer: My “Ideal Reader” is someone who loves adventure and fantasy. They love strong female characters, horror, monsters, and funny stuff. I expected that women would enjoy my book and have been quite pleased that I’ve had several great reviews from men who thought it was great, too.

AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?

Jennifer: The title, The Bazaar, comes from the bazaar in the book, where the outlaw witches sell human body parts to fuel their magic. It’s not a good place. I used The Bazaar as well because it’s a homophone for bizarre—and there certainly are a lot of bizarre things in my book. (A floating, talking fleshcrawler head, for one. His name is Nex. He grows on you, dangling intestines and all.)

AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?

Jennifer: Despite all current wisdom, I designed the cover myself. I found GIMP this summer and fell in love. How could I not make my own cover? Plus, I put Nex on there, using my youngest son’s head as the framework. He loves that he’s on the cover, albeit looking quite different! My cover went through almost as many incarnations as my first chapter. I asked a lot of people for their feedback and adjusted, changed, and revised until I had something I really liked, that represented the story I wrote.

AW: How long did it take to complete your novel?

Jennifer: This book took about six months to finish. Rewrites and revisions took about two years. I’ve learned I have to give myself deadlines in order to get things finished faster. I do think the extra rewrites and revisions helped me find the best first chapter, as well as gave me a chance to figure out that the book would be a series and not a standalone.

AW: Did you ever experience writer’s block? If so, what did you do to get out of the funk?

Jennifer: Yes. A lot of the block was me not setting a deadline for myself and not being disciplined enough to write every day no matter what. Now that I’ve made writing a habit (and I’ve written over 260 days in a row now) I don’t get writer’s block. I don’t allow it. If I have to write something brand new to get the words out, I do that. If I have to write utter dreck to get the words out, I do that. My deal with myself is that I write. Sick or not. Busy or not. Tired or not.

AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first novel published? About how long did it take?

Jennifer: I submitted my novel to Harper Voyager last year, during their open call. My book made it past the first, second, and third cuts (almost a year) before they finally sent me the rejection. By that time, I’d decided I didn’t want to submit and resubmit and subject myself to anymore year-long wait times. I’d been researching self-publishing for a long time, liking the idea of having control over my own destiny. I’m not only happy that I decided to do it on my own, I’ve become a better writer because of it. Or, perhaps it would be better to say, a more disciplined writer. I like the feeling of accomplishment. I like seeing my book on Amazon, on my Kindle, on my bookshelf and knowing I did the work to make that possible.

AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Jennifer: That’s a hard one! (And I’ll bet every writer says that, huh?) I love Devany, my main character. She is a lot braver and more courageous than I am. Then there’s Nex, a complete surprise as a character (I had no idea his mate would take his head and give it to Devany, and that, once severed, he could live on as a new creature.) Plus, I enjoy Neutria, the assassin spider (who was only going to be an assassin and not a main character. She was in that original dream. Little did I know how strong her personality was.)

AW: Who is your least favorite character and what makes them less appealing to you?

Jennifer: I don’t care for Yarnell. He’s the leader of the group of outlaw witches and he believes in the justness of what he’s doing. He thinks of humans as cattle and doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with dragging them to his world and using their body parts to fuel his magic. His people are losing their power and humans are an easy fix. If a cow could fuel your house for a month, effectively cutting your electric bill to zero, wouldn’t you go grab yourself a cow? He feels justified in taking lives and that makes him oogy, dangerous, and very unappealing.

AW: If you could change only one thing about your novel, what would it be?

Jennifer: There are a few bits and bobs of setting I would add to. I know my strong suit isn’t describing the setting and I wouldn’t mind going back and taking a crack at making the places in the book pop more.

AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series.

Jennifer: Many of my characters, species, and other-worldly place names came from me playing with Google translate. For instance, I have beings called Skriven in my book. They are demon-like and they live in the spaces between worlds. I came up with Skriven by typing in demon and translating the word into other languages. A little adjustment. A little tweak, and voila.

AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike? Did they inspire you?

Jennifer: I really love Faith Hunter and her Jane Yellowrock series. At the time I wrote The Bazaar, only two of her books were out. I think her Beast and my Neutria would like each other, though Beast is a puma and Neutria is a spider. (A giant spider.) I think they would respect each other’s hunting abilities.

I also love Lilith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine series. Her demons are amazing and helped to inspire me to write my own.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Jennifer: My friend Kathy and I played with Barbie dolls growing up. Only we didn’t play the way a lot of kids did. We created elaborate plots, worked out all the scenes, and only then did the dolls come into play. It was only after carrying around the dolls became embarrassing that we had the brilliant idea of writing our stories down instead. My first writing was collaborative and fun and it grew from there.

AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?

Jennifer: I love to write about funny things. Silliness. Vampires who fall in love with dumb but beautiful people. Karate chopping old ladies. In college I minored in fiction writing and my professor hated my funny stuff. He didn’t get it. I worked hard on the funny stuff and he knocked it down. So anytime I write funny, I scrutinize it extra hard because of that experience.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Jennifer: One of the reviewers on Amazon, who said, “Devany Miller has earned the distinction of becoming my most favorite, fictional female character.” That whole review made my day.

AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?

Jennifer: I work at a domestic violence/sexual assault program. We work to empower victims of violence, help them stay safe, and raise awareness about these issues. A lot of what I do now is travel throughout our service area giving presentations and speaking to people about healthy relationships, dating violence, and sexual assault. I would like to write full-time someday. Until then, I’m working to change the world, one person at a time.

AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new novel or project that you are working on?

Jennifer: I’ve recently created what I call my Epic Two-Year Writing Schedule. I’m editing a vampire horror novel which I plan to publish in April and a lighthearted paranormal mystery romance that I will publish in May. The Bazaar is part of a series. The second book is written and needs edits and I’m currently writing the third in the series. It’ll come out in June. And many more!

AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Jennifer: Be organized. Keep track of who you’re submitting to and be persistent. I, admittedly, was not persistent or organized. I’m much more organized and persistent now, because I’m working for my own pleasure and working for myself. It made a big difference for me and my writing to go it alone.

AW: How do you market your book?

Jennifer: Good question! My next step is to sit down and work on an Epic Marketing Schedule to compliment my writing schedule.

AW: Do you have a Facebook author page or Twitter that we can give out to our readers so they can follow you?

Jennifer: I do! My Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/jenponceauthor My Twitter page is: @jenponceauthor. You can also visit my website at www.jenniferponce.com. I feature other authors on my page, you can see what my upcoming books are, and you can read some short stories on my blog. A one stop shop for sure.

 

If you are interested in having doing an Author Spotlight, please contact us AuthorsWelcome {@} gmail.com

Author Spotlight: Jonathan Husband

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Jonathan Husband has been a human resources executive throughout his post graduate career. He attended the University of Hull in Yorkshire, England during the early 1960’s. His career has helped him develop a deep understanding of interpersonal relationships and the value of emotional intelligence.

He has combined this knowledge with his passion for history to perceptively describe people he knew who, from 1943 to 1972, had to deal with emotions that would spiral out of control and take charge of their regular lives. An Unplanned Encounter begins in war time England in the midst of the bombing campaign over Nazi-occupied Europe. It ends with the death of his father in 1972.

Authors Welcome had the chance to speak to Jonathan Husband about his writing career and his first novel.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Jonathan: The book is a story about a woman’s right to choose and how the circumstances of war and history can affect this decision and its consequences. It is set in England and California 1943-1972. A sexual assault takes place in July 1943, the woman discovers she is pregnant, and then makes a series of decisions that change forever the lives of the two protagonists. The central incident takes place in Yorkshire, England but the story also includes events that take place elsewhere in England, in Sacramento, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, and in Vienna, Austria and in Shanghai, China.

AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Jonathan: The book should appeal to a broad range of readers, with a likely focus on women over 30. It is an interesting and detail rich story about human relationships against a backcloth of war torn Europe. I tried to weave a broad understanding of what life was like during the middle of the last century in Europe and the US, especially for women who were still to be socially liberated. While it is historical fiction, the events are based on a true story. The novel examines the mother’s love for a child, how this love develops before birth, and the sacrifices a woman will make to defend the well-being of her baby.

The book should also have an appeal to various narrower groups of readers because it contains stories within the main story. Its coverage of the World War II European bombing campaign should appeal to those interested in the Second World War. Additionally, Karen, the woman who one of the main characters marries, talks about her parents escape from Vienna at the start of the war and their subsequent flight across Northern Europe to Shanghai. This event is also based on a true story. Finally, towards the end of the book, there are chapters that cover the “hippy” scene in San Francisco during the early 1960’s. This may appeal to baby-boomers.

AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?

Jonathan: The title focuses on a single encounter (albeit unplanned) that causes two people’s lives to spin out of control, and demonstrates that all actions have consequences, and that some consequences can last a lifetime.

AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?

Jonathan: I designed the cover myself. The front page depicts a farmhouse alongside a river which is the house next door to the one where the main character in the book grew up. It also backs on to the church where this main character is buried. The Nazi image on the back cover is used with permission of the Imperial War Museum in London. It illustrates the innocence of adolescence during a time when horrifying actions took place.

AW: How long did it take to complete your novel?

Jonathan: The novel took about four months to write and a further two months while approximately a dozen people reviewed the draft and provided helpful feedback to the author. Events were researched during this period and the personal stories of the two main protagonists in the book were already known.

AW: Did you ever experience writer’s block? If so, what did you do to get out of the funk?

Jonathan: I had relatively short periods of writer’s block. Typically the answers to these obstacles would occur during the middle of the night, and on many occasions it was if the main protagonists (all dead) were giving me insights that he was not aware of previously.

AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first novel published? About how long did it take?

Jonathan: It took about six months to self-publish. Literary Agents approached were encouraging and kind with their comments, but appeared unwilling to support an unknown writer. To expedite the process, I researched alternative publishing methods and chose to use Lulu.com to assist. The process has been unpredictable and rocky from time-to-time, but overall has been satisfactory.

AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Jonathan: Mary Louise, the main character. She is the author’s mother and without her courage and love, the author would not be alive to tell the story.

AW: Who is your least favorite character and what makes them less appealing to you?

Jonathan: Bob Hutchinson, the step-father. Although many of his actions were driven by illness, he was often obstructive, disrespectful, unkind, and occasionally violent.

AW: If you could change only one thing about your novel, what would it be?

Jonathan: I would have preferred to have made the main character the storyteller throughout the book. However, because much of the story was unknown to her until after the events, this was very difficult to realistically accomplish.

AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series.

Jonathan: It is being published to coincide with my 70th birthday.

AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike? Did they inspire you?

Jonathan: This novel was written without reference to others. The inspiration for the book came from the discovery by the author of his birth circumstances told to him by his mother in December 2007 when he was 63 years old.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Attending school with my son at Creative Writing courses, and a sense of creativity/imagination that my work as a Human Resources specialist had not allowed me to use.

AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?

Jonathan: Insufficient coverage of people’s emotions and how their feelings after extraordinary events. The author has worked hard to correct this impression.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Jonathan: This is a book that is hard to put down. The best compliment I received was that someone got up at 5:00AM to finish it before going to work.

AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?

Jonathan: My plan is to write additional “encounter series” novels. I also do part-time consulting in Human Resources.

AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Jonathan: Persevere and have fun. Undertake the task for enjoyment and sharing, not for money.

AW: How to you market your book?

I will use a professional Publicity Firm and my network of friends and relatives. I also use Facebook and Twitter to promote myself. My Twitter handle is @JonathanHusband. I also have my website and blog at www.jonathanhusband.com.

Author Spotlight: Alice Furse

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Everybody Knows This is Nowhere is the first novel from Alice Furse. It centers around a girl, an office, and an impending apocalypse. The novel is geared toward anyone who is wondering what on earth to do with themselves as it reflects that awkward time of finishing university and asking yourself what the hell you’re going to do next.

Authors Welcome had an opportunity to chat with Alice Furse for an Author Spotlight, and get the story behind the story of her book, and what the writing and publishing processes were like for her.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Alice: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is primarily about those awkward years after university, when you’ve been taught that the world will open up for you, but it doesn’t quite work out that way. Action centres on a girl who moves to suburbia with her boyfriend and starts working in an office, both of which come with their own problems and mysteries.

AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Alice: My novel targets young women. I wrote it because I felt totally disenfranchised and isolated, and I don’t think for a minute that I’m the only one. I hope it will appeal to other people who might find themselves in a similar position and at the very least, give them an idea that they’re not alone.

AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?

Alice: It’s actually the name of a Neil Young song. I tried to think of something original but this was just the perfect title.

AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?

Alice: I’m self-published so I had total control, which is nice – in fact, I came up with the idea of using hole punch holes and I took the photo myself. I’m lucky too in that I know a graphic designer who helped me choose that idea, tidy it up, and selected the font. I really wanted to make sure it looked like a modern novel, and not something else, like a textbook – it’s not as easy as it sounds!

AW: How long did it take to complete your novel?

Alice: In total, it took about two years to complete.

AW: Did you ever experience writer’s block? If so, what did you do to get out of the funk?

Alice: Honestly, I try not to worry if I’m not writing masses. Contrary to the traditional wisdom of getting through a daily word count, I’m not someone who works well when I force it – I’d rather work when I feel like I have something to say and the energy to say it. If you’re lucky enough to make a living from writing then perhaps you would need that structure, but for the rest of us, life gets in the way – and so it should.

AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first novel published? About how long did it take?

Alice: I wrote Everybody Knows a good few years ago, and when I finished it I approached an agent who seemed keen to get it out there. It got reasonably far with a few publishers, but in the end they said although they liked it they couldn’t market it. I left it and got on with other things, but it struck me a little while ago that this was a bit of a waste, and putting it on Amazon myself and keeping it my own seemed more interesting than building up a collection of rejection letters. I also now have a background in PR, so I enjoy marketing it too.

AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Alice: Is it too horrible and narcissistic to say the narrator? Probably is… but I’m going to say it anyway. Yeah, she’s based on me. I’m proud of how the voice develops throughout the novel – I wanted to write from a perspective that was cynical but not unkind, and I wanted her to be a force that people can identify with, but quirky at the same time. God knows if I’ve achieved it – I’m probably not the person to ask.

AW: Who is your least favorite character and what makes them less appealing to you?

Alice: I don’t dislike any of the characters. People you clash a bit with in real life tend to be the ones that are easiest to write because that’s where the energy is, and there’s always something to be said for that. They’re the most interesting people and relationships to explore. Not to get too deep, but the word ‘personality’ suggests that we’re separate entities. I think it’s closer to the truth to say that our identities are only given shape by the people around us.

AW: If you could change only one thing about your novel, what would it be?

Alice: Nothing. It’s not perfect, but it’s just fine.

AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series.

Alice: Everyone in the book was based on someone I know.

AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike? Did they inspire you?

Alice: I’m not sure that there are very many books similar to my own which is part of the reason I wrote it, but I have been inspired but hundreds of writers. I love Magnus Mills’ pared-down style and while I didn’t consciously emulate it, I’m sure I learnt a hack of a lot from reading his books – The Restraint of Beasts in particular. The Bell Jar also really inspired me – I read it for the first time when I was about 14 and I love her voice, her honesty, and her cynicism.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Alice: It wasn’t really a decision – it was just something I always did. When I was nine I wrote stories about what my toys said to each other when I left the room. When I was twelve I wrote a lot of stories about a girl with one leg for some reason, and when I was a teenager there was a lot of the usual angsty poetry bollocks, which was all burnt in a dramatic fire – thankfully. When I was in sixth form I wrote some short stories that won competitions, and chose to study English Literature and Creative Writing at university, which properly cracked me open.

AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?

Alice: I know how this sounds, and maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I haven’t really received any. I don’t think that’s because I write the best things ever, it’s because when people don’t like something their response tends to be silence. No one’s queued up to tell you you’re shit, and if you dig around for feedback people are usually constructive.

During my first writing workshop at university, a girl told me I used a couple of clichés. She was right.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Alice: My tutor at university was always very good to me. She told me that I was one of her best students, and encouraged me to write a novel in the first place. I took that as a massive compliment.

AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?

Alice: I have another job. I do PR for a sports radio station.

AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new novel or project that you are working on?

Alice: I’m focusing on a short stories at the moment with a view to getting them published in magazines, and also working on a second novel, which is about 10,000 words in. I’ve also just started a book site called The Rebel’s Book Guide, which aims to focus on literary self-published authors, as opposed to genre fiction. I’m hoping it’ll be a real resource for people to sift the pile as self-publishing continues to grow in popularity.

AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Alice: Don’t be scared of self-publishing – it has a bad reputation for being a vanity thing, but if it actually gets your work out there and being read, it couldn’t matter less. If you do it, do it properly. I don’t think you have to spend tons of money, but put thought and time into editing, formatting, and cover design, because all those things will help. Don’t expect to shoot up the Amazon chart straightaway – and if it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong.

AW: How do you market your book?

Alice: Twitter is a useful tool, though it has to be used in a canny fashion and can’t just be tweets saying “Buy my book now”. I’ve worked out who my target market is, and approached people that I think will be interested in it – it’s a slow process, but very exciting. My Twitter handle is @alicefurse.

I also have a blog site called The Rebel’s Book Guide. I hope you will check it out and follow me on social media to keep up with what I’m currently working on.

Interested readers can check out Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere through Amazon.com.

Author Spotlight: D.J. Wilson

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D.J.Wilson was raised in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. He graduated from Cumberland University, located in a small town in Kentucky quite a few years ago. We had the pleasure of chatting with D.J. about his book, Ride to Redemption.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

D.J.: Righting another’s wrong landed D in the witness protection program and cost him family, friends, and everything of substance in his life. Loneliness is his constant companion until he meets Candi, the girl of his dreams. He and Candi embark on a three-week ride to redemption where they deal with mind-numbing deceit, perilous treachery, their overpowering lust for each other and their personal demons.

Nevertheless, new opportunities bring a chance to begin again. And, it doesn’t hurt that he’s got 200 pounds of illicit diamonds to use to ease the pain of those wronged. He will continue the redemption process by way of a well thought out plan involving a 5,000-mile adventure through the Western United States and Canada.

When D meets Candice, aka Candi, she captures his heart, mind and soul the instant she ‘inadvertently’ almost runs him down in the Starbucks drive-thru. Candi joins him on his three-week, two-wheeled ride to redemption, where they’re forced to face their personal demons, while dealing with wanton lust, mind-numbing deceit and perilous treachery.

Spectacular scenery and a cast of unforgettable characters they meet along the way makes the journey memorable, but nothing prepares them for the sacrifices they must eventually make midway in the ride.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” sadly, does not ring true for Candice and D throughout this first of a two part series. Lust and greed are forever game-changers, even for those who desperately seek redemption.

AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

D.J.: I wrote Ride to Redemption to appeal both to women and men, weaving a geographical adventure into a life altering, lust filled romance, between two very flawed people.

Life happens. Sometimes for the good, sometimes not. Regardless of circumstance, we choose how we embrace its next chapter, either building on the good as it comes or redeeming the bad, as it goes. In that is our hope, for those of us in the throes of life.How did you come up with the title for your book/series?

Redemption comes through second chances. The ride, via a motorcycle across the West and Canada, was used as an inconspicuous tool, to right a grievous wrong that affected thousands.

AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?

D.J.: My cover projects the heart and soul of my novel, without a single word being spoken. The beautiful body conveys the girl of D’s dreams, while the diamonds convey power through restitution. I was fortunate to find the perfect picture, in less than than four hours and with the help of my publisher, create the cover from there.

AW: How long did it take to complete your novel?

D.J.: Forever it seems like, looking back. I spent the first three months, writing and rewriting the first half of the book and two months writing the second half.

AW: Did you ever experience writer’s block? If so, what did you do to get out of the funk?

D.J.: Writer’s block was never an issue, as much as, life constantly getting in my way. Long, solitary  walks each day, helped me more than anything, to see the beginning of the end.

AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first novel published? About how long did it take?

I was fortunate to have a friend and fellow author, who saw in me a work in progress. Through his inspiration and direction, we were able to e-publish Ride to Redemption in less than thirty days. The book goes to print mid March.

AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

D.J.: Great question, but not one I’m able to answer at this time. Once the sequel finishes up, I can probably tell you who my favorite will be. Remember, life happens, the book is living proof of that. It’s fluid, as are the characters in my daily circus, aka life.

AW: Who is your least favorite character and what makes them less appealing to you?

D.J.: That’s a question, I can answer. Joseph, Candi’s Ex, who happens to be an Ivy League lawyer with an outstanding pedigree, whose mission in life is to ruin other’s, while continually enhancing his own.

AW: If you could change only one thing about your novel, what would it be?

D.J.: Thank you for the question. I’ve second guessed myself many times regarding the steaminess of the book. Only our readers will answer that question for me. Stay tuned for the answer, via the reviews, which through today have been ‘5 star’ kind.

AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series.

D.J.: Easy, it’s sprinkled with truth, lot’s of it. It’s up to our audience to separate the facts from the fiction. To live with us in the moment or to embrace in aghast, our past.

AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike? Did they inspire you?

D.J.: Books by John Grisham inspired me,  as well as the novels of John Sanford and James Patterson. None, however, wove a chance encounter love interest, so integrally into the read.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

D.J.: Life happens, remember? We’ve a story to tell, even while it continues to be written. Successful, that’s me, catastrophic failure, that’s me too. We’ve been there, done that and have the life changing scars to prove it.

Our writings reflect real life through the throes of heartache and loss, as well as through the joys redemption brings.

“Life is not waiting for the Storms to Pass, It’s Learning to Dance in the Rain.”

AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?

D.J.: Those closest to me, tell me I’m the World’s Worst Proofreader, to which I must confess, guilty as charged.

AW: What is the best compliment?

D.J.: I’m thankful you asked. Paying it forward is a personal choice that pays priceless dividends, regardless of the chaos in our own lives. Ride to Redemption conveys that message, without it wearing thin.

AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?

D.J.: I’ve been blessed beyond measure to succeed in many wonderful things, and humbled by failing in a few. Currently our passion is writing and that’s what I’m  committed to do.

AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new novel or project that you are working on?

D.J.: The sequel, “Ride to Restoration” is well underway. I hope to publish in late April or May 2014. Visit my website:www.dalehollowlakelover.com to discover my next project, which will depend entirely on our readers and their nominations of the unsung hero’s in their lives.

AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

D.J.: If you are passionate about something, share it, be it through the written word or music. There is someone waiting to hear what you have to say. It’s in that passion, you will rise above the crowds, your voice will be heard, the message you convey, will be received. Settle for nothing less than your very best. Because of self publishing, the World is your marketplace.

AW: How do you market your book?

D.J.: We’ve explored many avenues, all of which require quite a bit of time. Time away from writing. Thankfully, I’m working with some amazing people who are steering me in the right direction, offering to promote me, as little, or as much as I want, while allowing me to focus on our book.

I would be honored if you’d visit my website: www.ridetoredemption.com and say hello. You can follow us on Twitter: @dhlakelover and find our blogs scattered about The Huffington Post.

Author Spotlight: Judy Snider

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Today Authors Welcome is delving into children’s book publishing with our spotlight on new author Judy Snider. Judy was raised in Michigan, lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband Gil and her cats Lucy and Bailey. She also has two grown sons, Jon and Nick.

A retired social worker, Judy had the joyful job of working at Cape Henry Collegiate School for eight years. She occasionally does school visits in her city, as she loves reading her book to kids! Goldy’s Baby Socks is Judy’s first children’s book that she has published and it is due out soon. We had the opportunity to sit and chat with Judy about her upcoming books and how she got started as an author.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Judy: My children’s picture book is Goldy’s Baby Socks. It is the story of a family who adopts a cat and all the fun that follows.

AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Judy: The intended audience is children age 4-7. So far the feedback has been very good. Kids love the book, and find it funny, yet sweet. It is also about a cat, so the younger kids love to make cat sounds.

AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?

Judy: I had a cat called Goldy who always brought us socks as presents. I decided to call the book Goldy’s Baby Socks since it was almost as if she was carrying a baby kitten in her mouth. Her picture is on the book’s website so kids can see what she looked like and make the connection.

AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?

Judy: For this book Thomas McAteer did the cover design and illustrations. He was an illustrator who I found through Xlibris. It was a fascinating experience working with an illustrator while we lived in different cities. I gave him the story and a brief idea of how I would love to see some of the scenes be, and he created the illustrations and cover. He would send them to me for my thoughts and approval. I think the cover of the book is one of the most important parts of a children’s book. It needs to catch a child’s eye to pique their interest as to what’s inside.

AW: How long did it take to complete your picture book?

Judy: It took about 2 months off and on to write it, and then of course to edit, edit , edit. It was published in about 6 months as a print on demand with Xlibris. I wrote another picture book, I Love You, Be Careful with my sister and it was illustrated by Cady Driver. This book targets adults and that took about 6 months as well.

AW: Did you ever experience writer’s block? If so, what did you do to get out of the funk?

Judy: Yes, I did experience writer’s block and chocolate always seemed to help and listening to music. I just wrote my first mystery novella for adults, called, “No Where to Run,” which is currently in the editorial process.  I am working on a second one, and for those I really need music and chocolate. I also just leave the computer and walk outside, and allow thoughts to just come to me.

AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first book published? 

Judy: I have written picture books since third grade. I took a writing course with The Institute of Children’s Literature years ago and submitted my picture book to some traditional publishers, and one said we are going out of business, but publish this one with someone. I read to children at a library in a school, and they loved the manuscript for Goldy’s Baby Socks, and kept asking when I would get it published. I decided to go with a Print On Demand publisher , found an illustrator, and then had so much fun reading the books to children and marketing the book. It really is up to the author to market their book, so they need to like it themselves I feel.  My goal was to read my book to children and see them laugh…and they did…the fun part of being published.

AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Judy: Lucy is definitely my favorite character. She is smart, funny, and is kind to animals. I wanted to make Lucy from a multi-cultural family and make her the kind of girl that many children could relate to. In general, I tend to like strong female characters who also caring and keep going thru tough times.

AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series.

Judy: Goldy really did bring socks to us every night. It was just her special thing. In I Love You, Be Careful, my sister and I would laugh at how often we said , “Be careful,” to our children, and they would probably be thinking, Oh, Mom.

AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?

Judy: I love so many books, but love beautiful illustrations and books that touch the heart. Each holiday we would find books that were kind and wonderful. I love Mary Hoffman’s book, An Angel Just Like Me.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Judy: I have written books since third grade. Being in my 60s now, I have written poetry, many children’s manuscripts, and also song lyrics. I have always loved to read, and most of the time writing is a joy for me. I am loving writing novellas now, and that is my new chapter in my writing career. When my kids were little I took a writing course by mail, joined a writer’s group, and continued reading. I have always loved books  and loved Nancy Drew Mysteries. I can’t draw , so finding good illustrators was so important to me as well as my sister for our book.

AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?

Judy: I was told that I preach too much in some of my manuscripts, and that I’m trying to hard to teach a lesson. Thank goodness for editors, as I need help with spelling, and sentence structure.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Judy: The books are funny and heartwarming and I Love You, Be Careful makes a sweet gift for new moms and brides. Most parents can relate to it.

AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?

Judy: I am a retired social worker, retired from working at a school, but I volunteer a lot. I also help my husband who wrote a medical/political thriller set in New York City and Ukraine banter ideas about his second book he is writing.

AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new novel or project that you are working on?

Judy: I will always write, but hope to finish my second book, am trying to get my second Goldy book picked up by a publisher, collaborating with another author on a script she did , and writing and collaborating on more songs.

AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Judy: Edit, Edit….don’t give up- really don’t give up…you can write a book….children’s or novel….write every day if only for 10 minutes.

AW: How do you market your book?

Judy: I promote myself in Alumni magazines and local newspaper articles. I have also joined groups with subject matter similar to my book (Cat Writer’s Association).  I have also worked Marsha Casper Cook and Virginia Grenier, who  do great book tours. They also made a book video for me, and let me do interviews on Blog Talk Radio, etc.

Readers can find me on my websites  www.goldysbabysocks.com and www.iloveyoubecareful.com.  There are pictures and videos, and you can learn more about the book.

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