Friday, November 12, 2010

A Moment with Marvin Wilson

Marvin D. Wilson has a widely varied and rich life experience background - from Hippie Rock and Roll musician, to nightclub entertainer, to Zen Buddhist minister, to carpenter, to small business owner, to network marketer, to sales and sales training, to skilled trades instructor and adult education teacher, to public speaker and motivational coach, to now in his chosen “golden years” career, a writer and multi-published author with the self-proclaimed, “audacity to write novels”.

Wilson describes his spiritual path as one who is a non-religious, dogma-free, maverick spiritualist Christian, with a strong bent toward Zen, Taoism, and the Law of Attraction, and who believes in the Oneness of all creation and all paths leading to re-awakening to the One. He is a family man with three grown children and six grandchildren, and works with his son and oldest daughter in their organic compost and vegetable farming business when not writing, traveling, and marketing his books.

Marvin writes primarily in the spiritual/inspirational genre, but likes to pen “cross-over” novels that appeal to a wide variety of readers. His books are uplifting, sometimes weighty, oftentimes humorous, abidingly thought-provoking, meant to instill and create passion and emotion, more than occasionally provocative to the point of controversial, and always “tell it like it is”, real world, no punches pulled writing. He likes to deliver spiritual messages in a non-preachy, often irreverent, sometimes sexy and ribald way, through the medium of an entertaining story.

Marvin D. Wilson is the author of three published books, I Romanced the Stone (Memoirs of a Recovering Hippie), Owen Fiddler, and Between the Storm and the Rainbow. Owen Fiddler has been awarded the prestigious AVATAR award for excellence in spiritual books.
Wilson has had articles published in several Ezines, and has been interviewed on hundreds of blogs, radio and TV shows, both over the internet and on the airwaves. A prolific blogger, his internationally popular blog, Free Spirit, was voted first place in the 2008 Book Blogger Appreciation Week award contest, in the Christian/Inspirational Fiction category. His other blog, Tie Dyed Tirades, is also growing in global popularity.

What if a homeless, smelly, ugly, unkempt old man had a hug so powerful it could cure cancer? Cause a prostitute to stop hooking and seek true love? Shake the demons of addiction free from a junkie? Make a radical terrorist Muslim want to befriend and love a Christian and visa versa? But rare is the beneficiary of his divine embrace รข€“ nobody wants to come near him out of fear.

Beware the Devil's Hug is available on at:
and also directly from the publisher, All Things That Matter Press, at:

To view the book trailer, go to:

Marvin D Wilson is an editor with All Things That Matter Press and also does freelance editing.

Avatar Award Winning Author of Owen Fiddler, and Beware the Devil's Hug

Blog at:

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Check out tomorrow's interview by Heidi Thomas. She'll be speaking with talented author Maggie Ball

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kari Wolfe

Please welcome Kari Wolfe.
She is a writer and a blogger at Imperfect Clarity ( in whatever time is left over from being a stay-at-home-mom to a very precocious and energetic three-year old.  She blogs on a number of topics including writing, book reviews, interviews, and setting and meeting goals. 

Currently, she is on a mission: to combine fiction writing articles with and articles on how she’s trying to live her life to the fullest and she’s going to bring you on that journey with her through her blog.

Who are you?

I am an amateur, a wannabe, a talker.  I can talk it up and shoot the sh!t with the best of them, but when it’s all said and done, I am a fake. 

But at least I’ll admit it.  A lot of people won’t admit it for many reasons: they're afraid of what people will think, afraid of what people will say, afraid of what they will do.  They're afraid of what they themselves have to do to be what they’ve said they want to be.

They’ve spent so much time building their house of cards--now they spend it being afraid of what’s going to happen when the cards fall.

Admitting I have this problem has been such a relief to me.  I don’t have to hide behind what I’ve told people I am.  I can admit--to you as well as myself--I have areas of my life I need to focus on and to work on.  This leaves me free to write whatever I want to write, whether it’s for publication or myself. 

I’m going on the journey of my life--to be the best “me” I can be.

Why should I care?

My own goal is to be the best that I can be.  My own desire with Imperfect Clarity is that like-minded people would join me on my journey--people who want to grow, change and achieve things they’ve wanted to do for a long time. 

It’s all about your mindset.  Currently, I have an amateur mindset.  Through my blog, my books and my writing practice, I am going to change that. 

My goal is to become more professional in my daily work and personal life.  I’ll tell you what I’m doing and working on; you can tell me what you're doing and working on--it’ll be a blast.  A conversation. 

What do I get out of this?

If you're a beginning or an “intermediate” writer, you’ll get love and support from someone in your same basic boat.  You and I can work together to nourish ourselves.

As a published or an established writer, you can come cheer us on and share your own knowledge of how this all works. 

I hope ulitimately I provide you with inspiration to go out and to do your own thing, be it writing, dancing, running marathons, computer programming, teaching, or simply sitting back, enjoying what you have and working toward what you want out of your life.

I hope you’ll join me on my journey. 

What are your current projects?

Currently I am working on an ebook titled “The Art of Procrastination: A Writer’s Guide,” a weeklong course for the 2010 Muse Online Conference called “Write Like the Masters,” and a novel tentatively titled, “The House.”

“The Art of Procrastination: A Writer’s Guide” and “Write Like the Masters” will be offered for free on my website once they are finished.  I’m hoping “The Art of Procrastination” will be finished in early June and, of course, “Write Like the Masters” will not be available until after the 2010 Muse Conference.  You can read more about the class at and sign up for the conference at http://www.Themuseonlinewritersconference.Com/

I’m also excited to be guest posting for another blog twice a month.  Not gonna say which blog, only that it’s one I’ve been watching for a while.  I’m rather excited about it and if you keep an eye on my website--well, I’ll definitely have it linked!

You mentioned a novel?

My novel, “The House,” is about memories and learning to forgive yourself for things you have done in the past.  I mean, to REALLY forgive yourself.  As time goes on, it’s easy to leave the past behind you, but we need to learn from our mistakes, forgive ourselves and then move on with the knowledge that our past has taught us. 

This is something I am working on in my own life.  My past hasn’t been pretty and it’s HARD to forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made that hurt other people. 

I’m getting ready to set and announce deadlines on my blog as to what I’m ready to dedicate myself to.
Tell us a little bit about your background.

Well, I’m originally from Huntington, West Virginia, and currently live in Colorado Springs, CO.  Before moving to Colorado, I received my bachelor’s degree in science, majoring in physics and mathematics from Marshall University in my home town. 

It’s always been my dream to write.  And, by dream, I mean I have written my entire life but always have been told that I should do something else. 

That and I’ve had setbacks, mostly in school. 

During middle school, I wrote erotica—not the most appropriate topic for a pre-teen—and my writing was confiscated by the guidance counselor who pulled me into her office for a good talking to.  I don’t remember what she said but I remember the embarrassment I felt.  I don’t write erotica anymore.

In high school, I co-wrote a book with my best friend, Mikie—my character would flirt with his character, his character would tell mine no and that we were just really good friends, etc.  So on and so forth. 

As an adult, I kept a journal that was used against me by an ex-boyfriend who threw anything negative I wrote about him in my face.  Same guy who would take me to a secluded spot, make me feel guilty for whatever he was upset at me about and once I cried, he’d take me home.   

When I married my husband, it took me a while to finally realize that I was safe.  If I didn’t want anyone to read my writing—regardless of what it was—no one would.  He wouldn’t go through what I’d written without my permission.  I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2008 and, with his encouragement, I won. 

For my blog, Imperfect Clarity, I’ve interviewed some awesome people: Seth Godin, Peter Straub, Conrad Williams, Christopher Moore, Les Edgerton and more. 

Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary and also how you got the idea for this book.

Realizing there is more than to life than observation, a voyeur kidnaps a struggling stay-at-home mother and her children only to fight the trapped evil spirit of the house they are hiding in through his possessed partner-in-crime.

For this work, I combined several different ideas.

First, the newest Tool album has a song called “Vicarious” about how some people watch the news and the worse the news is, the better they like it.  The idea is they are “living vicariously through the eyes of others,” a phrase criminologist Jack Levin used in a personal conversation with me about why people are so fascinated with the idea of serial killers.  The song reminded me of our conversation which gave me Jake, the story’s protagonist.

Second, I wanted to try my hand at a novel about a haunted house.  Easy as that.  As to what the house actually does… I took a subject I was interested in, memory, and started asking myself questions about what I could do with that subject.

Last, the overall theme of the story is forgiveness of self.  It probably took longer to come up with the overall theme than anything else.  Plotting out the book’s main points and what I definitely wanted to have happen helped a lot in discovering this.    

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I have a three-year-old daughter who is autistic, so in some ways, I really don’t feel like I ever have a typical day.  On Monday and Wednesdays, she goes to preschool and, after my own physical therapy, I have an hour before picking her up.  Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have hippotherapy and speech therapy. 

Fortunately she takes a nap most afternoons—or, at least, I’ve instituted a rule of quiet time where she plays in her room.  This is when I do most of my writing. 

After Natasha goes to bed, I have some time available then, but I use it for reading and relaxing mostly.  My husband is home, so it’s more difficult for me to concentrate on writing fiction. 

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love to talk. You can ask my husband ;)

Seriously, I love to create.  I love to come up with an idea and to work it out on the page.  Recently, I’ve been inundated with new ideas and I keep jotting them down.  Hopefully one day I’ll be able to get to them all! J

What is the most difficult part of writing?

Sometimes it’s just DOING it.  I freewrite, to get my hands flowing across the keyboard and to kickstart my brain. 

Sometimes it’s just time—there are days I have no energy to focus on fiction and I only focus on nonfiction, blog entries, that type of thing. 

And sometimes it’s focusing on the here and now.  Daydreaming about having your books in bookstores and name on the publishing lists is great—but you have to do the work first. 

Do you have a website?
Yes, Imperfect Clarity at

Imperfect Clarity is a detailed look at the thought processes of a fiction writer trying to improve her life and become successful by living her life to the fullest.
The idea here is to combine fiction writing articles with my own fiction and articles on how I’m trying to live my life to the fullest that I can. I am learning how to do this not only from different websites I have found talking about motivation but also by actually DOING these things I talk about.
I’m in the process of branding it and hopefully will be able to institute those changes within the next month.  I’m really excited about it. 

You can sign up to receive Imperfect Clarity both through email ( as well as through your favorite RSS reader (

What are you working on right now?

Including The House (my fictional work-in-progress), I am currently working on a four or five-post series for my blog about resistance and procrastination. I have several nonfiction ebooks in the works as well as a guest posting position.

Kari, Thank you so much for stopping by. What a pleasure to get to know you better.

Stephen Tremp will be featured on tomorrow (10-14-10)
Make sure to stop by and find out what he has been up to.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spotlight on Stephen Tremp

  It is my pleasure to welcome Stephen Tremp to my blog.

 Stephen has a B.A. in information systems and an MBA degree in global management. He is currently completing his doctorate program in business administration.
   Stephen spent over ten years in consumer finance for some of the largest companies in the industry, holding numerous management positions. After many years of writing short stories and poems, Stephen has taken the last two years to fulfill his lifelong passion: write and publish Breakthrough.
   He has four more suspense thrillers to follow. Stephen receives his inspiration from some of his favorite authors: the Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child tandem, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King, among others.

Stephen, I think most of us are familiar with your book Breakthrough. Can you tell us about the other two books you are writing?

Breakthrough is the first installment in a trilogy, and is written as a stand alone book. The next two books entitled Opening and Escalation are written in the same manner, and compromise one continuous story that takes place over the course of a month.

How do Opening and Escalation differ from Breakthrough?

The main differences are in the plot, setting, conflict, and the introduction of new discoveries and breakthroughs in theoretical physics. While Breakthrough is set in metropolitan Boston and Orange County, CA, Opening and Escalation expand to a global setting. In Opening (to be released early 2011), the action escalates to Geneva where Chase and his friends need to foil an attempt to blow up the World Trade Organization’s headquarters as well as a large portion of the international city. Events quickly spiral out of control as conflict erupts in the Strait of Taiwan with a showdown between the U.S. Seventh Fleet and the Chinese military. In Escalation, events expand to Europe and the Middle East.

New characters are introduced while others are killed off. Yet, still at the center of everything is Chase Manhattan, his group of friends, and the psychotic grad students at M.I.T. as the power play struggle continues over who will own or destroy this once-in-a-lifetime discovery. Action and suspense are still the name of the game throughout. Fortunately, I was writing Opening and Escalation while I wrote Breakthrough, so I’m half finished with both books.

If you could sum up the Breakthrough trilogy with a single theme, what would it be?

Ultimately, the trilogy seeks to encompass the elusive Theory of everything, but with a supernatural twist. The Theory of Everything in philosophy is an all-encompassing explanation of nature or reality. In theoretical physics a Theory of Everything will (theoretically) link together and explains all known fundamental physical phenomena, forces, and matter into one cohesive framework.

 Professor Steven Hawking in a series of lectures in the 1990s, helped popularize this theory amongst the general population by attempting to unite General Relativity (science of the very big) with Quantum Theory (science of the very small). For the record, Dr. Hawking recently stated he is pessimistic on any such discovery in the immediate future. Some of the greatest minds of the past 100 including Albert Einstein have spent decades of their lives in an attempt to unravel and explain this theory. Currently, some of the usual suspects for a unified theory are String Theory, M-Theory, and Supersymmetry.

Does a Theory of Everything need to be confined to scientific method?

Great question, and one many over the millennia have pondered. Would this theory need to take into account the spiritual realm? Throughout the history of mankind, most civilizations including our own hold the belief of a spiritual world that is more real than our own. That there are forces at work that affect our physical world in ways we know in part but cannot fully comprehend.

We do not really have any idea what else is out there, but there is no reason to believe that we are the only intelligent beings in the universe. That would be arrogant and asinine. And there is no reason to believe that whatever else is out there will necessarily have to obey the same laws of physics that we do. Perhaps a unified Theory of Everything will need to take into consideration parallel dimensions beyond our currently accepted space-time continuum where angels and demons dwell and cross back and forth at will. This would explain a lot of things. This is indeed a very strange universe we live in.

If science wants to limit reality to what they can only rigorously test in a lab, perhaps a Theory of Everything should be renamed the Partial Theory of Everything, or a Theory Of A Lot Of Things But Not Quite Everything

How do all these proposed theories tie into the Breakthrough trilogy?

Breakthrough is basically a “What If” scenario. I have taken this premise and developed a trilogy that incorporates proposed theories of physics such as Einstein-Rosen Bridges (wormholes as they are commonly known), String Theory, Parallel Dimensions, and a Theory of Everything. It’s a scenario of what if science and the supernatural collided in such a way that mankind’s very existence was threatened. And to think it all begins with a breakthrough discovery in Einstein-Rosen Bridges, or wormholes, in a tiny lab at M.I.T. in the dead of winter by a lone professor of physics.

Any parting thoughts?

In the right column of my blog I have links posted under SCIENCE, CERN, AND THE BIBLE. I’ve blogged across a broad spectrum of subjects, including the latest and greatest coming out of  LHC, string theory, parallel universes, hyperspace, hyperbeings, the Bible and extra dimensions, and other fascinating topics. These matters are at the forefront of discussion and argument as it is very evident our understanding of the universe and our perception of our place in it is about to change.

Breakthrough (softbound version) is available for purchase through  iUniverse and is available for download to Kindle through  Amazon and to Sony Reader, B&N Nook, iPhone, Palm reading device, or your PC or iMac through Smashwords.

You can visit Stephen at

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How to Combine Writing with Parenting by Magdalena Ball


“Darling, please be quiet, mommy’s trying to compose a sentence.”

Yeah, right. Try waving a red flag to a bull and asking it not to charge. Combining parenting with writing is probably no more difficult than combining parenting with any job, except that writing doesn’t usually come with a flash/separate office and childcare initiatives, and can often be put aside when something urgent calls. As a parent, something urgent is always calling. It’s easy to try and do it all—support school council, attend events, Playgroup, lessons, matches, help with homework, or even take on a “day job” to pay the bills. So how do you make the time? How do you say no when your children (What could be more important?) are counting on you to be there for them? How do you get those sentences composed when everything else is more urgent? Here are a few tips.

• Don’t try to be superperson. You have to accept that you are a parent and that your children will only be little and attention hungry for a short time. You shouldn’t stop writing, by any means, but you also have to be realistic about what you can accomplish. Long projects like novels will take many years. If you write shorter pieces, you’ll have to be honest about the output you can manage.

• Plan, plan, plan and then expect the plan to go a little askew if someone gets sick. Sit down for a few hours each year (after the kids have gone to bed perhaps, or while they are at school), and plan what you are going to accomplish during that year, bearing in mind that your family will also need your time. Each month spend a half hour or so revising the plan; each week a few minutes and each day a moment, so that you’re always clear about what you are going to achieve from a writing perspective.

• Cut your plan into bite sized, relatively urgent pieces and make sure it’s in your planner/diary. Don’t have a planner/diary? You need one. Decide what writing work you’ll be doing each week and that way you can maximise any available time, whether it’s an hour after the kids are in bed, or five hours while they’re at school. Once the big plan is broken into little segments, you’ll feel a sense of writerly accomplishment meeting those small goals, but only if they are achievable!

Above all, don’t resent your children. What else is life about? The time spent with your children is, even in the most Machiavellian terms (never mind what you’re doing for them…think of what they’re doing for you), inspiration for your work. Notice what excites them, what interests them, how they look while they play and you’ve already got the basis for your next characterisation. Parent writers are lucky in that their work and play often bisect and that the joy and unconditional love in a child’s eye is the best fodder for writing.

About the author: Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. She is the author of the poetry book Repulsion Thrust, the novel Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything and four other poetry chapbooks Quark Soup, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and the newly released Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks.

Find out more about her books and pick up a book or two at:

Make sure to stop by her blog:

Thanks so much Maggie for the great article. I know all of us can use those tips. Sorry, gotta go I hear my kids calling. -Martha-

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Welcome Helena Harper

Helena Harper is a native of England, but she grew up in a household that did things somewhat differently to other English households, because her mother was German (her mother had met her father in Hamburg at the end of WWII, when as a British soldier he had been stationed there). This mixed background has had a profound influence on Helena and her understanding of so-called national divisions and whom we call an 'enemy' and whom we call a 'friend'.
From an early age she loved to read and write, particularly fantasy stories, and later she enjoyed studying foreign languages. At Surrey University she studied German, Russian and International Relations and spent considerable periods of time in Germany, Austria and Russia as part of the course. After university she went into banking, but soon realised that was a big mistake. “I felt like I was being suffocated,” she says of the experience.
She then spent a year teaching languages at a private school in London, and enjoyed it so much she decided she would get properly trained. She did a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Exeter University and then started her career as a modern languages teacher, a career which has lasted twenty years. During that time she has continued to write, concentrating primarily on fantasy stories for young children. However, in the past few years she has also discovered the joys of writing poetry for adults, and her first two books are poetry collections: It's a Teacher's Life...! and Family and More – Enemies or Friends?, which have been inspired by her professional and personal life.
Helena is now a private tutor and translator. She is continuing to write children's stories, and illustrations for her first children's picture book are now being done. Her aim is to see the book in print before the year is out. Many people ask Helena why she likes to write. She feels she can best express it like this:
The blank page calls,

the heart responds,

imagination spreads wide its wings

and launches into infinity...

Fingers dance,

words flow,

the page fills,

the soul takes flight

and the spirit sings.

Copyright © Helena Harper

Blurb for 'It's a Teacher's Life...!
A Collection of Poems Set in a Girls' Private School' and summary of contents.

No doubt you remember your life at school as a pupil - the long lessons, stringent rules and chaotic classrooms - but what was it like from the teacher's perspective? Did they savour the experience of setting and marking our homework? Did they get a kick out of writing our reports? And, most intriguingly, what did they get up to in the staffroom?

If you've never been there yourself, you need to follow Helena Harper into this alternative world of coffee addiction, frantic marking, lesson-planning and inspections. She answers all of your questions and more, and her insightful, evocative and often sardonic descriptions leave you more appreciative of the trials and tribulations (and the occasional pleasures) of being the dragon in front of the whiteboard.

It's a Teacher's Life...! will open the eyes of the pupils who always thought that teachers didn't exist outside of school hours... On the other hand, with such a long roll-call of meetings, assessments and after-hours activities, perhaps they were right all along!


The School Ethos — gently does it: kid gloves needed!

The Workplace — old and new: in harmony or at odds?

The New School Year — meetings, meetings, meetings, meetings! Brains creaking, creaking, creaking, creaking!

The Staffroom — a blessed haven, a refuge from all this teaching insanity!

The Lessons — rush, rush, rush! Sigh, sigh, sigh!

The Workroom — moaning, groaning, gossiping...moaning, groaning, gossiping...moaning, groaning, gossiping...

The Duties — brightening every teacher’s day

The Prize Giving — examination success applauded, independent thought neglected

The Carol Service — angelic voices and appearance: would it could always be like this!

The Trips — definitely, definitely, definitely not a good idea! Infamous risk assessments hanging like lead around the neck...eating and drinking, blinking and breathing must go in...hang it all, where’s the bin?

The Open Afternoon — uniformed angels painting the school in such a beautifully perfect light!

The German Teacher — hawk-like eyes, bubbling laughter, prejudice and French her common foes!

Matron — a cup of tea, a kind word, a listening ear: all provided with TLC

The Cook — Joy, her name, and joy her very nature (an unsung hero of everyday life)

The Caretaker — Emilio from Spain in the land of rain, glorious rain

Amy, the Able — Queen of Resources, organised, efficient, expert and skilful (another unsung hero)

The Inspection — smoking-hot photocopiers, senior managers and HODs on their knees...

The Exams — eyelids growing heavy with hours of sleep denied...

The Reports — the once a year chore, delight bursting forth in every breast at the joy of the long nights in store...

The End-of-Year Bash — bleary eyes shaking off tiredness for one last evening of merriment true

Martha:  Helena, I love the concept of your book. I'm a teacher myself and what a wonderful gift this would be. Have you always been interested in writing poetry?
Helena: Actually, no! I've always loved to write, but my first love has always been writing fantasy stories for young children. I wrote poetry at school, of course, and every so often when I was on holiday, but it wasn't a regular thing.
M;  So, what prompted you to write your first book “It's a Teacher's Life...!”
H:  Well, I've been a teacher for 20 years and about three years ago, when I was having a lovely holiday at a beautiful place in the country, I was inspired to write some poetry, and when I came home, I then had the idea to write some more poems about my life as a teacher. Each poem would concentrate on a different aspect of school life, such as the lessons, what went on in the staffroom, school trips, exams, report writing, and so on. I also wanted to pay tribute to some of the support staff who do so much to keep a school running, but are often forgotten about e.g. the cook, the caretaker/janitor, the nurse, the school secretary – the unsung heroes of life is what I call them.
M: Do you have a favourite poem?
H: No, I can't say I've got a favourite. Each one is written from the heart and it's impossible for me to single one out in particular.
M: What did you find the hardest about writing your book(s)?
H: Finding the time to finish them and then the editing, the endless checking and re-reading – it drove me crazy!
M: What was the easiest part?
H: Just writing the poems – I was totally absorbed by the process and really enjoyed it.
M: How do you describe your style of poetry?
H: Easy-to-read, easily accessible free verse. I want people to be able to read and understand what I'm writing about from the word go. I don't like things to be hidden in obscurity. I write simply as I'm inspired to write. The poems I've had published in my two collections are really stories and character sketches that just happen to be in verse. One of the reviews on Amazon talks about me developing a new form of poetry, called the 'anecdotal poem', and I think that describes my style of poetry very well.
M:  What's the attraction of writing poetry as opposed to writing children's stories?
H: When I write poetry, I can concentrate on the rhythm and sound of the words and use vocabulary I wouldn't be able to use in my children's stories. It's a marvellous linguistic challenge - the sound of words has always been something that's fascinated me. It's one of the reasons I studied modern languages. When I write my children's stories, it's more about escaping into a wonderful world of fantasy, leaving the mundane 'real' world behind – I find it wonderfully exciting and liberating.
M: When you're not writing, what are you doing?
H:  Tutoring, translating, reading, walking, playing tennis or dancing, doing Pilates, spending time with my niece and nephew.
M: What are your future writing goals?
H: The illustrations for my first children's picture book are being done at the moment and I will then get the illustrations done for my second picture book. I'm really looking forward to having my children's books published and going into schools to talk about them. Having been a school teacher for 20 years, I'm no stranger to the school environment, although it will perhaps be a little strange that I will be going into schools first and foremost as a writer rather than a teacher, although everyone can learn something useful, I hope, from my stories.

I'm running a contest at the moment on my "It's a Teacher's Life...!" facebook page where I'm giving away a free ecopy of the book each week. To qualify you just have to leave a comment like "Hi" on the wall. This is the link

Wow, you are one busy lady. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your book with us.
For all of you readers out there make sure to pick up a copy of Helena's book for your favorite teacher.


Available in paperback from all major online retailers. Can be ordered through any bookstore. Stocked by Haslemere Bookshop and Weybridge Books in the UK.

Contact details/more info.

My author's website:

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Writers on the Move May2010 Tour. Join in for writing, marketing, and book tips.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's my pleasure to introduce Elysabeth Eldering

Oops, maybe I better introduce myself.  My name is Hannah, I'm 8 years old and in the 3rd grade. I'm taking over my mother's author interview this month. I'm interviewing Elysabeth Eldering, author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery trivia series. I also had the pleasure of reading both of her books. Below is a brief description of her series. (I got this part from her)

Matt Patterson, Guy Lombard, Mary Beth Patterson and Jolene Ariette take on the newest handheld game to help them in their study of social studies course of US History (geography and trivia information about each state). Each book in the series will be presented as the game giving them "clues" which are basically facts and trivia information that can be found most any place about the states. The kids have to guess the state by the end of the book. Readers are encouraged to participate in guessing as well. Guesses may be changed during the story as no one is expected to get the state immediately. Some clues are more helpful than others and some are just downright fun. This is a fun way of learning something you never knew about state history and geography.
There are bonus clues to five territories throughout the series, one per book with a total of ten per each of the territory (Guam, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, US Samoan Islands). The ten clues will not come consecutively; the five territories will be one clue every sixth book for each of the territories. There will be a bonus clue section at the end of the series, recapping the clues, which book they appeared in and what the territory is in that book.

The first book in the series is STATE OF WILDERNESS.

I really liked this book because I love to uncover clues. Each clue was very interesting. Some were really funny. I loved discussing the clues and possible answers with my mom. I didn't want to put the book down so I begged my mom to let me stay up so I could finish it. The characters are fun and there are lots of great websites in back of the book.

The second book in the series is STATE OF QUARRIES

This book was a little more challenging but I still really liked it. Just when I think I figured it out, a clue comes along and makes me change my mind. This is a great way to learn about the United States. My mom and I also enjoyed trying to guess the identities of the territories.

After enjoying her books so much I thought I'd ask her some important questions.

Hannah: Where were you born?

Mrs. E: Yokahama, Japan - My father was in the Army and was stationed in Japan as his first duty. One of my brothers was also born in Japan.

Hannah: Did you write stories when you were a young girl?

Mrs. E: No. I started writing just after I turned 40. I was challenged by some friends to write and post something on the forum for everyone to critique.

Hannah: What persuaded you to write books about all of the states?

Mrs. E: I entered a fan mystery contest in 2005. We were given a list of eight words to use as clues in the story. I was on a mother-daughter trip to Stone Mountain, Georgia, and was telling the other mothers about the contest and one of the girls piped up and said, "I know, you can write it like a scavenger hunt on a train." The eight items were a page from a dictionary, the sound of a train whistle, a headless Barbie, a wig, a tattoo, a soiled ballet slipper, the scent of Obsession and footprints in the snow. I used all but the last two and made my scavenger hunt with a mystery destination (each item was two-fold, a clue to the next item and a clue to the mystery destination). After we got the results back and I had placed second place, I sent the story to an editor with the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI, which I'm now a member) and asked her to give me a direction to make a series with each state being the "mystery." She sent me back some wonderful advice.

Hannah: Did you ever think of a different subject to write about before this series?

Mrs. E: Yes, I wrote for some other contests, placing second in one other contest and placing first in one which meant my story was published as an e-book. I also had another YA short story published as an e-book from a contest entry but there were many folks that month who were published in addition to the winner of that month's contest, so I can't really tell what place that story was.

Hannah: How did you decide on your first two states?

Mrs. E: Randomly. When I first got my contract, I contacted all the states' travel and tourism departments asking them if they had items like lapel pins or other state items that I could either buy at below cost or they would give me to use as giveaways for the books. The first eight that responded were put in that order and then I added my state, my publisher's state, her daughter-in-law's state (she's an administrator in the school system), and the teacher's with whom I've been doing virtual class visits state. I sent out the remaining states to some friends and asked them all to pick four. As they sent their choices back, I went down the line, their 1's, 2's, 3's and 4's were the next in the order of the states.
Hannah: How do you decide what clues to use?

Mrs. E: This is the hardest part of the stories. I use several online resources and have all my facts and trivia type information gathered. I have to pick clues that I feel characters and readers would be able to react to as well as my illustrator would be able to illustrate. I try to keep them fun and interesting, so that the readers are learning but not realizing they are learning something and they have similar reactions that my characters have. I only have to really put in 25 clues as the final two will be the same for every state - the state flower & geographical center/state bird & state capital. The 25th clue will be something the state is better known for as close as I can come up with. I have to make sure I don't have any clues that are ideals so my illustrator can illustrate them. I get stuck sometimes deciding what to use but so far, it's all worked out.
Hannah: Have you visited all of the states in the U. S.?

Mrs. E: No. I've lived in or visited at least 14 of the 50 states. My goal is that by time my youngest graduates high school and I have enough books out so they are self-supporting, I can travel and do many school visits. I'd like to visit every state at least once and maybe some several times. I am starting some travels this summer by attending some homeschool conferences/curriculum fairs in four states. I'm hoping to do some homeschool conferences in states I've not been to starting next year.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. I can't wait until the rest come out. I 'm going to have the entire series on my bookshelf.

Hannah Swirzinski, future author, interviewer and artist
Make sure to check out all of this.....
STATE OF WILDERNESS, Book 1 of 50 now available.

STATE OF QUARRIES, book 2 of 50 now available

STATE OF RESERVATIONS, book 3 of 50 coming April/May 2010

STATE OF ALTITUDE, book 4 of 50 coming May/June 2010

STATE OF SUCCESSION, coming summer 2010

STATE OF NATURE, coming fall 2010
Teacher's guides are available through special order from They are available only as a PDF download. The teacher's guides will contain six research projects/discussion questions, a science experiment based on one of the clues in the book (where possible), a secret message puzzle (cryptogram, word search, scramble or other such puzzles alternating per state), and an end of book quiz (about fifteen per book - a mixture of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and True/False questions).

Books may ordered from
Vivian at,
from me directly -, -

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

.............Meet Mayra Calvani

.............Mayra thanks for stopping by and sharing your books and yourself with us.

Mayra Calvani loves writing for children and adults. She's a regular contributor to Blogcritics Magazine and the Latino Books Examiner for She also writes freelance articles for Demand Studios. Her nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, recently won a ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award. She's the author of 4 children's picture books with several more coming up in 2010, as well as 3 books for adults. She lives in Belgium with her husband, two children and her amazing dog, Amigo.

Tell us about your children’s book,  The Magic Violin

The Magic Violin is set in the late 1800’s in Brussels, Belgium and combines elements of reality and magic. It is the story of a young girl who is learning the violin and who suffers a lack of self confidence along the way. But with the help of her Romanian teacher (who happens to be a good witch!), a virtuoso Russian hamster and a shooting Christmas star, she’s able to regain her self trust and succeed.

What was your inspiration for this story?

My young daughter and I both started playing the violin about five years ago, so I know very well how difficult it can be at times, especially when learning a new piece. The violin is a very difficult instrument to master, requiring lots of discipline, perseverance and commitment, and this can be hard for a child at times. My love for the violin and watching my daughter play were my inspiration for the story. I wanted to create a tale which would be fun and magical, yet one which would encourage children and teach them about self esteem at the same time.

When did you start writing children’s books?

Though I have been writing most of my adult life, I started writing for children less than three years ago. It’s a wonderful new world and I still have a lot to learn, but the world of children’s books is both challenging and deeply satisfying.

You also write adult fiction, including horror. What goes through your mind when writing such different genres?

I’m often asked that question, but I don’t see any conflict in switching genres. I’m just a multi-genre, multi-faceted person who is inspired by many things and who feels the need to bring those ideas to life. I don’t think I could ever write in only one genre, as many authors are able to. For me, it would feel claustrophobic! I simply write what I love and I love paranormal, suspense, satire, mystery, modern fantasy, literary, romantic comedy, children’s, and young adult.

Do you have a website where readers may learn more about you and your books?

My children’s book website is

My blog is

Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

Never give up, study the craft, read a lot, find a support group—above all, write, write, write!

Watch The Magic Violin

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

................Gayle Trent

Gayle Trent is a full-time author. She is currently at work on a new cozy mystery series involving her hobby, cake decorating. The series features Daphne Martin, a 40-year-old divorcee who has begun the second phase of her life with a new home and a new business venture—Daphne’s Delectable Cakes. Gayle lives in Bristol, Virginia with her husband, daughter and son.
Gayle previously worked in the accounting and legal fields, and her last such job was as secretary to a Deputy Commissioner in the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Though she enjoyed the work, it was a long daily commute and she felt she wasn’t spending enough time with her family. Now she writes while her children are at school; and thanks to a crock pot and a bread machine, can often have dinner ready when everyone gets home.
“I think it’s important to be here for my children…to take part in school functions and to be an active part of their lives,” Gayle says. “I can certainly sympathize with moms who work outside the home—been there, done that—but I would encourage everyone to make time to visit their children’s schools, to have lunch with them [at school] occasionally, to get a feel for who their friends are…little things like that.”
Gayle loves to hear from readers who can contact her via e-mail at or via one of her Web sites: or If you share an interest in cake decorating, please visit Daphne’s Web site, available via click-through from either of Gayle’s sites or at

Tell us about Dead pan.

Dead Pan is the second book in the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series. When the book opens, a police officer is questioning Daphne about a cake she took to the Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical Company Christmas party. Many people at the party got sick, but most recovered after being treated with a vaccine manufactured by the company. Only one, Fred Duncan, went into a coma and died. Coincidence? Or did somebody have it in for Fred?

 What would you like to overhear people saying about your book?

"I laughed so hard when--" A local book club selected Murder Takes the Cake as one of their books; and when I attended the meeting, I was delighted to hear that they thought this or that part was funny. I also love it when people say, "I never guessed ______ was the villain." Also, there was a review where a woman said she loved the main character's relationships with various members of her family--that they were beautifully or realistically drawn. I felt like, "Oooh, she got it!" Actually, I'll take anything that's not negative. :-
What inspired you to write Dead Pan?

I was reading an article in Wired magazine about clinical drug tests. I did some further investigation, and I came across some fascinating stuff.
What do you advise new writers to do?

Read the genre they're interested in writing. For instance, when my agent pitched my first three chapters of the embroidery mystery to the editor, the editor said she liked it but didn't love it. I needed to revise it to make her love it in order for her to buy the book. I asked my agent who the editor had published recently. With two names in hand, I went to the bookstore and bought two books. I read them and found they were more descriptive than my own books. I went back, added more description and gave the heroine a bit more spunk, and the book sold. Sometimes you have to be flexible.

Tell us 3 interesting things about you

1) There is a feral cat who comes to visit us on holidays. We’re pretty sure he belongs to somebody because he’s always well fed. We think we’re his “other family.” We first realized his penchant for visiting on holidays when he came and cried at our door on Mother’s Day. He came back for Memorial Day and Father’s Day, and so on. Sometimes he’ll drop by for a visit, and we have to check the calendar to see what holiday it is.

2) I have an adorable cartoon Debbie Ridpath Ohi did of me with a cake (for “Murder Takes the Cake”) when her blog InkyGirl hosted me on my blog tour. The cartoon is framed and hanging above my desk. I figure I’ll never look that good in a picture again!

3) I once got to interview the famous criminalist Dr. Henry Lee via telephone for an article which appeared in Law and Order Magazine.

 Do you have any funny writing stories to share?

I once tried to "write" using my laptop's voice recognition feature while baking brownies and peeling potatoes. Great multi-tasking, right? BUT, there is a drawback to using voice technology gadgets when you have a Southern drawl. Although, the exercise helped me get unblocked and continue on through the chapter I was struggling with, the computer misunderstood most of what I said. AND, to add insult to injury, when I read back over what it said and laughed, the computer translated that as “a a a a a a a a.”

What exactly is a cozy mystery?
Cozy mysteries usually take place in a small community and involve a relatively small number of people. The reader knows that someone within the intimate group will turn out to be the killer. Think Desperate Housewives with one of the cast turning out to be the killer as opposed to Criminal Minds or CSI. Cozy mysteries also feature an amateur sleuth as opposed to a professional detective, and the heroine has an interesting profession or hobby.

Gayle, Thank you so much for stopping by today. I'm a big fan of cozy mysteries and love your main character.

P.S. Tour with VBT-Writers on the Move through February. New and famous authors,

plus useful information.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

................ Author Interview

Make sure to stop by on Feb 17th when I interview Gayle Trent. She writes really yummy stories.

Friday, January 29, 2010


My book signing had to be rescheduled due to the impending snow storm. It better snow here at the beach!
So I'll be at Busy Bees from 10-2 on Feb. 27th

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm pleased to introduce Jane Sutton

Prior to embracing the role of author, Jane considered herself a ‘professional tourist’ as her husband’s career kept her moving around the globe. According to Jane, settling in and exploring each new locale was an exciting, full time job with no pay but a host of benefits. She’s lived in Taiwan, South Korea, England, the Netherlands, Italy and Saudi Arabia, but has also had the opportunity to visit many other countries as well. Since settling back in the states, Jane is now a full time writer and occasional tourist. She is a member of the Florida Writers Association and the Gulf Coast Writers Association. The Ride, is Jane’s first novel and was released by ArcheBooks Publishing in August 2008.

When did you begin your writing career?

For years, I considered myself a ‘professional tourist’ as my husband’s career kept our family moving around the globe. Settling in and exploring each new locale was an exciting, full time job with no pay but a host of benefits. Our temporary homes in Taiwan, South Korea, England, the Netherlands, Italy, and Saudi Arabia provided opportunities to travel to many other countries as well. When my husband opted for early retirement about seven years ago, my touring ‘job’ came to an end. Once we settled back in America, I discovered I had run out of excuses for not following my dream of becoming a writer. It didn’t take me long to realize I loved my new pursuit and to settle into the daily routine of working on a manuscript. Writing a novel, I soon learned, was the easiest step of the publication process.

What is The Ride about?

Unaware that her mundane existence will soon be unraveling, Barbie Anderson approaches that fateful Thursday as she had the other 8,395 days of her marriage. When her world is shaken by a death and the disclosure of shocking family secrets, she begins to question her own identity. Her attempts to deal with the revelations, salvage her marriage and keep her daily routine from spiraling out of control are hindered by her self-esteem issues, an estranged daughter and an obsessed, self-centered husband. When a handsome stranger enters the fray, Barbie finds herself embarking on the ride of her life down historic Route 66 and on the road to self-discovery.

Is the story based on your experiences?

The first time someone asked me this question, I was stunned. I’m a fiction writer so I thought it was obvious that The Ride was the result of my imagination and not my life. Later and much to my surprise, I learned that many first novels are based on the author’s own experiences. However, in my case, the storyline existed only in my head and the characters are conglomerations put together from bits and pieces of people I’ve met or seen over the course of many years.

Where did the idea for the plot come from?

I woke up from a dream about a backyard roller coaster running amok and, like other dreams I’ve had, thought it was an interesting story idea. The idea didn’t fizzle out in the light of day as my ‘dream stories’ often do. I let the idea roll around in my head for a couple of days and then started writing.

Did you write from an outline or let the story unfold naturally?

I didn’t outline but I did jot down a few ideas. Then I let the story carry me long. As dreams seem to be more in the genre of Stephen King, I originally thought The Ride would have a horror or at least a supernatural element. I was surprised when the plot went in an entirely different direction than I first imagined. It’s as though at some point during the process of writing, my characters took control and I simply had to follow their lead.

Two of your main characters are Barbie and Ken. Is it coincidence or intentional that they have the same names as the popular dolls?

It’s intentional. The dolls exude an aura of perfection from their looks to their matching accessories, homes and cars. My characters couldn’t have been more opposite. I enjoyed the comparison and symbolism. At one point in the book Barbie mulls over her marriage to Ken and thinks to herself, “Our appearance may not resemble the dolls but our relationship is as plastic as they are.” When I read the Mattel press release about the breakup of Barbie and Ken dolls a few years ago, I thought it would be fun to work it into the plot, as well.

In The Ride Barbie has a lot of conversations with herself. Was this deliberate?

Yes. I went against the convention of ‘proper’ novel writing by using a lot of Barbie’s inner thoughts. I felt it was important to show readers that her depression and low self-esteem kept her from verbalizing how she really felt. It was her tendency to say one thing but think another. Because of her insecurity, she had a distorted view of herself and her world. I consider her vivid thoughts and her ability to fantasize about events, real or imaginary, an important part of the plot.

What message does the book deliver?

I hope there are several messages, such as a marriage without love is not a marriage at all, or it’s better to be alone than to stay in an unhealthy relationship. The main message, however, is that life should be one fantastic fun ‘ride.’ If it isn’t, do something about it, but never accept unhappiness as a way of life.

What audience will this book will appeal to?

In my opinion, women of all ages will find something to identify with or relate to in The Ride. However, I have also heard from several men who have read and enjoyed the book as well. I think that’s because it is a funny, fast read.

Are you planning a sequel?

Although I’ve been flattered by the number of people who have said they wanted to read more about Barbie, I currently have no plans to write a sequel. I learned long ago though, never to say never. I am, however, currently working on my second novel titled, Reigning Cats and Dogs.

Jane, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. Love the names of your main characters.

Contact Jane:
Email –
Web page -
Blog – Jane’s Ride

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reading time: Not just a quiet activity anymore!

Reading, playing, learning and exercising: How do we fit it all in?

One way is to make reading time with your young children part of their play and movement time. You don’t always have to make reading time a quiet activity.

Research has shown that children learn through moving. I think it is best said by Confucius: “What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I know!”

By giving your children an opportunity to experience fun new ways to move while reading, you provide crucial connections between his/her cognitive, social, emotional and physical domains. Learning and growth occurs in these domains simultaneously, and through reading, playing, learning and exercising you provide multiple opportunities to support them all.

So how do you turn reading time into a movement moment?

For every action word, have your child perform the movement. Act like the animal mentioned; pretend to play the instruments or move like the sounds.

Have your child act out Mother Goose rhymes.

•Ex. Hey! diddle, diddle,

The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon;

The little dog laughed

To see such sport,

And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Visit the library; they have many good books that you and your children can move to.

•Martha Swirzinski, Leap… Laugh… Plop…

•Doreen Cronin, Wiggle, Bounce

•Suzanne Williams, Ten Naughty Little Monkeys

•Rebecca Whitford, Little Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga

Look for prepositions when you read. Over, under, around, through, beside and near. When children act out these words they take on a greater meaning.

Children can even act out descriptive words. Such as: strong, big, small and loud. Ask them “What do these words look or sound like?”

Young children love to move and read so why not bring the two together and have FUN!

For more tips and activities visit these websites:

By: Martha Swirzinski, M.A.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Book signing/Reading

Come join me at Busy Bees in Virginia Beach, Va  from 10-2. I'll be signing books and doing readings at 10:30 and another at 1:30. They are located at 1544 Laskin Rd.
See you then.

About Me

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Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States