A Time For Writing: An Interview with John D. Fie. Jr, Cliff Roberts and Airwolf’s Alex Cord!

It’s the weekend, and to celebrate the fact we are all able to leave work and go home for fun– we have a special interview for you. This interview is with Western heroes John D. Fie. Jr, Cliff Roberts and Hollywood actor and author Alex Cord. Let’s make them welcome!

John D. Fie, Jr.

One of the most successful Western authors of his generation. His hits include the multi-million selling “Blood on the Plains,” “Luke Pressor: U.S. Marshal,” and “Incident at Benson’s Creek.”

Cliff Roberts

A multimillion book selling powerhouse who has turned out hit, after hit, after hit. His latest is called “Draw!” His other million sellers include “Reprisal: The Eagle Rises,” “Reprisal: The Gauntlet,” “Connor Slate: Bounty Hunter,” “Ambushed” and many others.

Alex Cord

The legendary actor and star of TV’s “Airwolf,” who has scored award-winning hit novels like “A Feather in the Rain.” His latest novel is called “High Moon at Hacienda del Diablo.” “A Feather in the Rain” is currently being considered as a movie.

Welcome to this interview Alex, John and Cliff. How are you all today?

Alex: Feeling pretty good—thank you for having me.

John: Great to be with you.

Cliff: Greetings!

Cliff, let me start with you. You seem eager to start. Are you ever surprised by how many Western readers there are in the world?

Yes, I was surprised at the number of people who currently read Westerns. At first, I thought it was one of the niche genres and that Westerns had pretty much faded into history. I was wrong.

The Western readers are great, friendly and loyal to a fault. I greatly appreciate their patronage. Thank you for reading my work, and I’ll endeavor to make each new book better than the one before.

John, I think this is a good question for you. With your novels constant favorites, perhaps you can explain to us why Westerns are still so popular?

As surprised as people are at the success of Westerns, I’m really not. I’ve always enjoyed the West, and I know many others have, too. I think there’s a lot of hype when it comes to romance, erotica and horror—but the Western fan base is just as busy buying the books they want.

I guess you can identify with that, Alex. As someone who has been writing and making Western movies—let me ask you this one: Do you prefer writing (and acting) the heroes or the villain characters?

I prefer to write about human beings and discover who and what they are. There are elements of heroes and villains in all of us. Shakespeare wrote entire plays about one element of humanity. Evil: Richard III; jealousy: Othello; heroism: Henry V. I like to delve into the depths of an individual and see what I can find.
Interesting—but it’s the title that sometimes draws the reader in before they’ve even discovered the writer. John—let me ask you this: How did you come up with the title of your “Blood on the Plains” novel?

Well, I was looking at a photo of the Kansas Plains and thought about how it must have been back then, with the first wagon trains crossing the plains and facing a vast nothingness in all directions. Then, the thought of Indian attacks and the blood that must have been spilled making that crossing. As I looked over more photos, the story was forming in my mind. I then came up with the title Blood on the Plains.

Did you have a different experience with “Luke Pressor: U.S. Marshal?”

Luke Pressor, U.S. Marshal is a story in itself. I was asked to publish a short story by Outlaws Publishing. I looked through the short stories I had written over the years, and I just couldn’t make up my mind. Then I thought, why not combine a story or two?

From the outset, it became a challenge. Luke Pressor became the hero of the story. This is how it became Luke Pressor, U.S. Marshal.

It’s interesting how things develop. Cliff—let me ask you this: Do you think part of the appeal of Westerns comes from the fact that they mirror the American way of life?

I think Westerns are the basis of the American way of life. The good guy is always honest, sometimes to a fault; and he believes in fair play, family and doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. In the Westerns, good triumphs over evil without exception.

And Alex—which Westerns do you think have really affected your life?

Red River, Lonesome Dove, Monte Walsh, The Westerner, Stagecoach, My Darlin’ Clementine, The Wild Bunch, One-Eyed Jacks. I list them not in order of preference. They are all fine films that I have seen more than once, some more than three or four or five times. Any of John Ford’s films. John Wayne, Ben Johnson, the great Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Slim Pickens, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden. These are the finest of the fine.

John—I suppose part of the appeal of the Western comes from the covers chosen by authors and publishers to illustrate the book. What has your experience been like with covers?

Blood on the Plains, at first, had a very bland looking cover. I had a contract with a different publisher at the time. The book wasn’t moving. Outlaws Publishing took a look at the book and the cover. It wasn’t until I signed with Outlaws Publishing that the book was pulled from the market. The book was re-designed, and I immediately saw the difference. The book, with the new cover design, just jumped at you. I knew right then I had made a good decision going with Outlaws. They specialize in the Western genre. Luke Pressor, U.S. Marshal also had two different book covers. Several covers were designed, and we put our heads together and again came up with a colorful book cover with eye appeal.

I think you have some of the best covers around, John. Cliff—you signed a contract with Outlaws Publishing after being both traditionally published and self-published. Do you think a larger publisher is important? Is it a step towards success to garner a large publisher’s interest?

I think it is important to have a good publisher, no matter in which genre you write. I’ve had several publishers who failed big time at actually helping me or being part of my team for success. The larger, well established publishers seem to be out for the almighty dollar and that alone. Your success as a writer doesn’t matter to them, other than they get more money. If you’re asking who I’d consider publishing my Western novels, I’d say use Outlaws Publishing. That’s who I use. They will treat you right, and they really want you to be a success and place their success secondary to yours. Outlaws has several divisions, so they can help you publish in almost any genre. If you’re looking for a publisher, send your manuscript to Outlaws and see if they can help you. Oh, yeah, they don’t charge you to up front to publish your book and are extremely fair on royalty splits.

John—what do you do differently to other authors when writing a Western?

I like to use small, quick one-liners in my stories to add a little comedy. Also to have a few characters who are somehow different from the others.

I think that’s an important part of being human, John. It’s a shame more writers can’t attempt to inject human characteristics into their books. Alex, let me ask you a similar question. What real life inspiration do you draw from people you know when writing your books?

My life is filled with experiences with all kinds of people. A rich bank from which to draw truth. Most of my characters are either based on people I know or have elements of them. I have made a practice of acquiring characters throughout my life and studying them. A creative artist, writer, actor, painter, dancer, musician, must be intensely curious, perceptive and interested.

Cliff would you agree with Alex? And would you go back to the West if you could?

I would agree with Alex. And no, I don’t think so. Whereas part of the Old West seems romantic and peaceful, it was a very dangerous place. Knowing me as I do, I’d probably end up having to learn to be a gunfighter and fast because I don’t take injustice well. I’d be out there trying to stop the lawlessness and probably get shot dead. Maybe I’d even become a historical figure if I did. The quickest lawman to get killed.

John—what would your one piece of advice be for a young author?

For new writers, make sure you get an editor. You can’t edit the book enough. When you’re ready to publish, look around and choose wisely, then stand by for the reviews.

I think that’s great advice. Alex, did you learn anything from writing your latest Western?

I did. That writing is fun, challenging and bloody hard work. Many people say they would like to write a book, and I believe that everyone has a book in them. Getting it out from within and onto blank pages is another matter. It requires huge belief and relentless commitment.

What a learning process. Cliff, what do you think is the key to success?

Good writing, good promotion and making sure you surround yourself with those who will help you, rather than hinder you. A good publisher, publicist, and editor will make you as an author. A poor publisher, publicist, or editor will break you. I need say no more. Invest in yourself, your product and hire a good publicist.

And John—what does it feel like to be one of the top authors in the business?

It feels pretty good. It’s good to know that somebody is enjoying your story.

Check out the latest books from these three great authors.

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Express Yourself! An Interview with Artist and Author Judy Mastrangelo

judyThis interview is with the very talented Judy Mastrangelo. Judy has created books, artworks, cross-stitching patterns and all manner of things creative. She is currently working on a series of card decks with her creative partner. This interview should highlight just how deeply she is involved in artistic expression. Enjoy reading about Judy and then pop over to the Amazon author page and pick up a book, or two, or three…

Where do you find the most joy from your work? Is it the creation? Is it the entertainment it brings others?

I find joy both from both the Creation of my art, and the Entertainment it brings to others. Everything that I create gives me great delight, and I hope to impart some of that enjoyment to others. I find that all forms of Art, be they Music, Literature, Dance, Film, Painting, etc, are some of the highest creations that Mankind can produce. They exemplify our inner feelings and ideals. So when an Artist can produce a work of Art in any of these creative fields, which “speaks” to everyone, I feel that Artist has achieved something special and magical.

This is what I aspire to do: to uplift, delight, and fill my audiences with inspiration and the Joy of Life. I hope that my Art will have a universal appeal to many people worldwide, of all ages.

Of all the work you have done—what piece of art do you consider to be your finest?

I do like most of the work I have produced, in various degrees. It all fulfills certain feelings that I mean to convey. My painting “TITANIA’S FLIGHT” has seemed to become my “trademark” piece that everyone enjoys. So I suppose that would be considered to be my finest. But as I said, I strive to constantly improve and build on my Art. So I will continually endeavor to produce fine artwork in course of my lifetime, to the best of my ability.

Are there any younger artists that you enjoy?

There are many excellent Artists younger than I am, whose work I enjoy very much. It’s difficult to choose among them, and I don’t mean to pass any of them by. I’ll list here two of my favorite younger artists, who specialize in Fantasy Art:

Carol Phillips: http://www.carolphillipsart.com

and James Browne: http://www.jamesbrowne.net

Who was your favorite partner to work with? Have you got a favorite?

I have done an “Inspirational Card Deck” with Frances Munro, for US GAMES SYSTEMS, INC. It includes 44 cards, and is entitled “Inspirational Wisdom from Angels and Fairies”. Frances wrote the text for it, using my artwork. It is scheduled to be released in September of 2015. I enjoy working with Frances very much. She is a world renowned Spiritual Healer, with the wonderful gift to channel. We have a special connection, and sensitivity to each other, and share many things.

We are both very excited to now be working on our second Inspirational card deck for US GAMES SYSTEMS, INC.

Frances Munro’s websites are: http://www.francesmunro.com, and http://www.godworldwide.com Follow her on Twitter: @FrancesBelper; Facebook and LinkedIn.

Is there a project past—or present that you wish you could have been part of?

I would have loved to have been a part of the amazing group of talented and imaginative Artists who worked with Walt Disney on his early animations, such as the beautiful “SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS”, “PINOCCHIO”, and “BAMBI”. This era was entitled “The Golden Age of American Illustration”.

Walt had invited quite a number of very wonderful artists to help him produce these beloved animations. They were like beautiful classical storybooks which came alive. Gustaf Tenggren, who was an extremely wonderful children’s book illustrator, was one of the fantastic artists that Disney invited to be a part of this inner circle. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustaf_Tenggren I would have truly been extremely inspired to meet him and the others, and I certainly would have enjoyed tremendously being a part of this fantastic group of Artists to produce these Disney animations.

I love everything about their early movies, including the magnificently detailed backgrounds, which were much like classical paintings, the beautiful fluid motion of the wonderful figures, and the delightful music, etc. They had put tremendous love and care into the creation of these early films. For example ~ as part of their research to provide realistic animal motion in “BAMBI”, they even brought in live animals to their studio, so that they could study their movements.

If you could only take three things to a desert island—what would those three things be?

1. Art supplies so that I can create my paintings.
2. Art books of my favorite artists, so that I can see their paintings, and read about their lives.
3. CDs of some of my favorite music (such as music of Bach and Beethoven), and DVDs of operas and ballets that I love, (such as the ballet Coppelia etc.)

Bringing all these things along would give me great Joy and Inspiration.

Who are the greatest artistic influencers of all time?

I love the Italian Renaissance Artists of course. There are so many amazingly gifted ones, including two of the greatest: Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli.

And two of my favorite artists of later periods are the English Pre-Raphaelite John William Waterhouse, and Maxfield Parrish, one of the “Golden Age of Illustrators”.

I love the mystery, grace, fantasy, and captivating beauty of Waterhouse’s lovely women. And the Fantasy, Colors, Nature details of Maxfield Parrish’s paintings, completely enthrall me. When I observe Parrish’s amazing landscapes, with his majestic mountains, celestial clouds, imperial trees, sense of Fairy Tales and Fantasy, and beautiful and imaginative architecture, I am truly inspired with awe.

Where can we learn more about you?

Here are my two websites:

My new one: http://www.judymastrangelo.com, can keep you up to date with all my new books, and other products using my artwork, plus my interviews, press releases etc. While you are there, you can also sign up for my newsletter to find out what’s been happening with my art: http://judymastrangelo.com/newsletter/

My original website is: http://www.themysticalvisions.com, where you can view my entire art portfolio.

My books are available online and can be purchased through Amazon.

I’m also delighted with the wonderful reviews my books are receiving on “Goodreads”. You might want to check them out: http://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=✓&query=judy+mastrangelo

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judy.mastrangelo.9

Facebook Fan page: https://www.facebook.com/JudyMastrangeloArtofficial

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ArtbyJudyMaster

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=nav_responsive_tab_home

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box set

You can also get Judy’s fantastic childrens book box set “Portal to the Land of Fae” on Amazon. This is a must-buy for the inner child in your life. Get your copy now!

A Note From Children’s Author Dennis Gager

Hello everyone! My name is Dennis Gager and I am an author of Children’s books. My books are written for kids to have fun enjoying what they read and to help them walk away from the book knowing they have learned a lesson. My characters have many adventures and along the way readers will always meet new and funny characters designed to make your kids laugh. When your children finish reading my books—he or she will come away with a life lesson told in a way that they will understand. I hope to help children really grasp why mom and dad tell them they should or shouldn’t do something and to help emphasis to them how important it is to stay away from certain things that will harm them or get them into trouble. I promote literacy and one of my major goals to help parents get their children away from the computer and to put down that video game.

You can find my books on Amazon.

The First Book in a New Series From Author Vanessa A. Ryan!

vanessa a ryan

Vanessa A. Ryan is an actress in Southern California. She was born in California and graduated from UCLA. When not writing or acting, she enjoys painting and nature walks. Her paintings and sculptures are collected worldwide. At one point, she performed stand-up comedy, so her writing often reflects her love of humor, even for serious subjects. She lives with her cat Dezi, and among feral cats she has rescued. She is the author of A BLUE MOON, an urban fantasy, HORROR AT THE LAKE, a vampire trilogy and A PALETTE FOR MURDER, a traditional cozy mystery.

How do you come up with the titles of your books?

Sometimes the title just comes to me. Other times, I ask my family, friends, the publisher, or even strangers I meet see on the street to help me choose the best wording of a preliminary title. They’ll all have different opinions, and then the hard part is making the final decision.

What is your writing schedule?

My writing schedule is to write at least a thousand words a day, seven days a week, for the first draft. Most of that happens late at night, when the phone is least likely to ring. I may stay up until two in the morning to get in those thousand words, especially when I’ve had a busy day doing something else. I know if I don’t persevere, I won’t get that first draft written. As for revisions and rewrites, I like those the best. The hard work is already done. Cutting, revising and adding is the fun part.

Do you jump out of bed with coffee in hand or are you an afternoon writer?

I never jump out of bed for anything, unless the house is on fire––which has happened to me. I like coffee and breakfast in the morning, and reading the Los Angeles Times. Three days a week I read it online, and four days a week I get it delivered. It’s an important part of my daily routine. I never turn on the TV or radio for the news in the morning. I’m the type who wakes up slowly. I like to know what’s going on in the world, but without someone barking at me. If I can, I will write in the afternoon for a while. I might finish what I started writing in the afternoon later that night, if I didn’t get enough done.

What conditions do you like to write under?

I like overcast days. In fact, I love overcast weather. I feel more creative when the sky is gray and the atmosphere is a little foggy. Sunny days are just for enjoying the warmth of the sun, smiling a lot and not thinking much.

What do you have to avoid when writing a book?

I have to avoid too many other activities, or cut the time I devote to them. And since I’ve always got ideas in my head for new stories, I have to stop thinking of them so I can write the book I’ve already started.

Do you ever get burned out?

Sure. Writing is work. It’s putting in the time. Since December, I have been taking a break. But the holidays are over, and tomorrow, I will begin looking at the edits of the last book in my trilogy, Horror At The Lake, A Vampire Tale. However, even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking of my next book or series of books.

How do you start to write a book? What is the first step?

The first step is to decide which book floating around in my head I am going to commit to writing down. I usually know who the main character is and whether I’m going to write in the first person or in the third, but I will have to rough out the secondary characters. The next most important thing is to figure out the ending. The challenge, then, is how to get from the beginning to the end. Sometimes I write plot points on three by five cards, and sometimes I just wing it and start writing. I try to write chapters that are about ten pages long, and I read over what I wrote yesterday before I begin writing again.

Which books have most influenced your life most?

I think the books of Carlos Castaneda, Curt Vonnegut, Jerzy Kosinsky, and the mystery writers of the twentieth century, such as Agatha Christie and Ross MacDonald. Also the noir writers, such as Cornell Woolrich, Charles Willeford and Dorothy B. Hughes. But one of the most important influences in my life was meeting Ray Bradbury after a lecture he gave. I had read Death Is A Lonely Business, and although not one of his most famous books, it is set in Venice, CA, where I once lived. It inspired me to write my paranormal novel A Blue Moon, which also takes place in Venice, CA. It was thrilling to meet the writer who inspired me to write the book.

Do you see writing as a career?

I do see writing as a career. Of course, every writer hopes to have a best seller, but regardless, I will keep at it as long as I have stories I feel impelled to write.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No. I’ll just write another book.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I started writing in the third grade. My teacher allotted a portion of her lessons to creative writing every week. In the sixth grade, we put on a school play, and I wrote the script.

What is your overall opinion of the publishing industry?

It’s like the film industry, though maybe without so much nepotism. While it’s easy to self-publish, it’s still tough to get into the mainstream market.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I am currently working on another traditional mystery, the second in the Lana Davis series, titled A Date For Murder. The first, A Palette For Murder, will be released this May by Five Star Publishing.

Do you ever get tired of looking at words?

I don’t know that I get tired of looking at words, but I do need to take time off. I love walking in a park near my house, watching my favorite TV shows, traveling and socializing with friends.

Who designed the covers?

The publishers of my books have designers and they create covers from settings in the books that I describe to them.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

That first draft is always the hardest part.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I have learned to be more forgiving. All my characters have flaws, some worse than others, but they have some redeeming or humanizing characteristics as well.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Talk less and listen more. I get many of my ideas for stories from what people say.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you enjoy my books and the journeys they take you on.

The Legacy of Fear (Horror at the Lake (A Vampire Tale) Book 1)

Now Available

Susan Runcan is on a quest to clear the name of her grandfather Lindon Runcan, the famous archeologist whose career ended under a cloud of suspicion. Although Lindon claimed thieves stole precious artifacts from his last expedition in Egypt, depriving the Egyptian government and his backers of the spoils, Lindon stole them himself. After the death of her uncle, Susan is the last of the Runcans and inherits the artifacts, along with her grandfather’s stately home in Lake Masley. Susan comes to the lake hoping to discover the reason her grandfather risked his career for these artifacts. What she finds is a town filled with rumors and fear. And what she discovers will change her life forever.

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Available Now

A Sinner Kissed An Angel: An Interview with Hit-Author Megan Elizabeth

Megan Elizabeth is one of the most exciting authors to appear on the book scene in some time. Megan moved to her new publishing home and released a new edition of “Sinners Craving: League of the Fallen.” She has a second novel coming out early next year and will be releasing a third novel in the summer.

How do you come up with the titles of your books?

Book titles are a funny thing. At times, you can just know exactly what the title to your newest book is. At other times, you can start writing a book, have it nearly completed and not know what to call it. Usually, I’ll just keep bouncing titles around my head and write them down. When I narrow it down to a select few, I’ll bounce some of them off of my critique partner then, boom! New title!

What is your writing schedule? Do you jump out of bed with coffee in hand or are you an afternoon writer? What conditions do you like to write under?

I am a write-whenever-I-am-able-to kind of author. I’m definitely not a morning person; my brain doesn’t start functioning until I’m well into my day. So I write during the mid-afternoon or late evening. The best condition I can think of for writing is sitting alone in a room with some soft music playing.

What do you have to avoid when writing a book? Do you ever get burned out?

When writing a book, I try to avoid reading another author’s work. Though reading is my favorite pastime, I would prefer not to have any of my thoughts tainted. Of course, I get burned out, usually around chapter 13. I have this period of stalling or procrastinating until I get going again and start writing.

How do you start to write a book? What is the first step?

The first step in writing a book is actually thinking. Thinking of the story you want to tell, thinking of a plot line that would intrigue, thinking of characters an audience could connect to. Thinking, “How the hell am I going to write another book?” Then I sit down, plot out another story I can’t wait to tell, and begin writing.

Which books have most influenced your life?

I’d like to say something profound here, but in all honesty the novels that have affected my life the most are the ones that helped me in some way. One that helped me get through a rough break up or the one that inspired me to start writing. Almost all have been written by one inspiring author—Kresley Cole.

Do you see writing as a career?

I see writing as my dream career. It’s everything I love and wish to pursue well into the future. It’s addicting holding your first book in your hands, like nothing I can describe.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

At this point I think “Sinner’s Craving,” my current new release, is everything I could hope for it to be. It was a complete labor of love, and with that I will take the good with the bad.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My interest in writing began after I went on a reading binge that lasted years. My head was filled with different worlds and characters that will haunt me for the rest of my life. As wonderful as it all was, I wanted to share a world of my own. I wanted to make readers feel what I had felt all through that time.

I felt like I couldn’t get enough, and now I hope that I can instil that same feeling in others through my own work.

What is your overall opinion of the publishing industry?

The publishing industry, like any other entertainment industry, has its ups and downs. It is ever-changing, always evolving in some way. The publishing world is where I found my home and exactly where I belong. It can rip you to pieces with a bad review and give you the most amazing high with one word of praise. I love every minute of it.

Do you ever get tired of looking at words?

In truth, sometimes I get tired of my own words. There’s only so many times you can proofread a book before your eyes start to cross and you need to walk away for a moment. But do I ever get tired of reading? Never!

Who designed the cover?

The cover was an idea that I came up with and described to the designer. About thirty mock up covers later, I had the one that I loved.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part of the writing process for me is editing. It can be gruelling. I love getting the story out, playing with the characters and the banter between them, even changing the plot; but editing is that part I hate the most.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

That I could actually do it. I’m now working on my third novel, and every time I write it’s a learning experience.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice to other writers would be to keep writing your stories, bring people into worlds they couldn’t dream of that only you can create on paper. Always conduct yourself as a professional, and never stop writing what you love.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them. I also love to hear from you and get feedback, so please feel free to reach out to me or leave a review.

 

Check out “Sinners Craving” by Megan Elizabeth

Available Now

Sinners Craving New Cover

“Portal To The Land of Fae” Author & Artist Judy Mastrangelo Shares Her Talent

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How do you come up with the titles of your books?

They just pop into my head.

What is your writing schedule? Do you jump out of bed with coffee in hand or are you an afternoon writer? What conditions do you like to write under?

I enjoy a relaxed atmosphere to write in. My schedule is not planned. I write when the spirit moves me. Since I am also a painter, and my writing goes hand in hand with my art work, my text is often influenced by the images I depict on canvas and paper.

What do you have to avoid when writing a book? Do you ever get burned out?

No I never get burned out. There’s never enough time in the day to complete all the book projects I’d like to do. I can’t really avoid things. I just try to make the best of my life as things come along.

How do you start to write a book? What is the first step?

I daydream about my ideas. Then I write things down in a sort of “Stream of Consciousness” state. I then refine these so that they will be understandable to others.

If I try to “force” ideas, they don’t come out well. I feel that writing, as well as painting, are enjoyable outlets for me.

If I feel inspired and gratified in this process of creation, I am hopeful that others will also enjoy the fruits that develop from my efforts.

What books have most influenced your life most?

I have enjoyed the classics, such as Shakespeare, and other great literature. Plus I love many well known Fantasy works, such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and the Wizard of Oz books, etc.

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes of course.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’ve always enjoyed Fantasy Literature as a child. And even as a young person, I liked to write imaginative stories.

What is your overall opinion of the publishing industry?

I am hopeful for the future of the publishing industry. I know there are a lot of changes going on with it now, because of ePublishing. Hard copy printed books, and book stores, seem to be disappearing. But it is an evolving industry. People of all ages enjoy a good book, and there are many popular themes to choose from for everyone. It is an exciting development to being able to “carry” books around with you, and view them on various devices.
So again, I feel that at this time, there are wonderful opportunities available for book writers and illustrators. Many people in this field are turning to the alternative of self publishing. I am doing this myself with eBooks, even though

I have had some books published in the past as printed books.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I am working on several projects simultaneously. My next eBook to come out is entitled “PAINTING FAIRIES AND OTHER FANTASIES”. I’ve been woking on this for several years. It tells about my journey as a developing artist, and also about my painting techniques and philosophy, and how I’ve been influenced by the great Master painters throughout history. I attempt to encourage others to experiment in developing their own artistic painting talents.
Some of my other eBook projects include: an original Fairy Tale for children that I’m writing and illustrating, and an original story about a little rabbit. The others are books of classical poetry, and fairy tales that I’ve illustrated.

Do you ever get tired of looking at words?

No. It’s always a delight to me.

Who designed the covers?

I have done all the original artwork for my covers, and the interior art.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I go over my books quite a few times, looking for mistakes. Often I see quite a few of them. I am always looking for perfection. But I never seem to achieve that aim. And so that is the most difficult part of creating my books.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Yes. What I learned ~ to my surprise and delight, was that I could write a book!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

You can emulate other writers whose work you love, of course. But I suggest that you also look into your heart to make sure what you write is truly personal. and comes from your soul. I’m not suggesting that your book be autobiographical. But it should be something that you honestly love and were inspired to write.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Enjoy life, and all the wonderful Art that has been created over the Ages. There have been great books, and otherArt forms, which were created years ago. Many of these have stood the test of time, and are still delightful to appreciate today. All of the fantastic worlds of Literature, Music, Painting, Drama etc., are some of the highest creations that Humankind has ever produced. They are inspiring and uplifting to all. So explore the World of Art that you love the most. It will inspire and uplift you to new heights.

Try out “Portal to the Land of Fae” by Judy Mastrangelo today. Available on Amazon as a box set.

box set

Spice Up Your Life: An Interview with Yveta Germano

I backed off as soon as I saw his flashing eyes. Those weren’t the mesmerizing blue eyes I could previously get lost in. These were the eyes of a man so angry, he could kill me just by looking at me.

“I told myself a hundred times I would never touch you. But you’re so fucked up in the head, you leave me no option.” His voice was hoarse and furious; it was the only thing I could concentrate on.

He threw me over his shoulder, and before I could protest and call him another name, he took me to my bedroom, shut the door and pinned me against it. He quickly pulled both of my arms behind my back and kept me immobilized with his one hand. I was still angry, and I jerked my head from side to side. He clasped my face with his other hand and pressed my cheeks in, mangling my lips outward. He was still fuming and was about to say something but stopped himself when I let out a faint cry. He let go of my face and breathed out a few times.

“You want me to stop?” he whispered and, for a short moment, I thought I should say ‘yes.‘ I shook my head ‘no‘ instead.

yveta germano pic

Who do you have in mind when you write?

I should probably say my readers, but the truth is, the characters I create take over my “mind” almost completely. Even if I have nothing but a vague idea what the story is going to be about, I always know what kind of a characters I want to bring to life. As I write and dig deeper into their imaginary heads, their stories, dialogues, thoughts and feelings take over my own mind and thought process. I no longer think up conversations, I only write down what I feel and “hear” the characters speak. Once I allow myself to become one or more of the characters, the story unfolds right before my very eyes, on the computer monitor. All I do is type and stay connected.

Once I’m about halfway through the manuscript, I do consider the readers. I want to make sure they love my characters as much as I do. I ask myself questions like, “What would the readers think about so and so behaving so weird? Would they hate him? Would they understand her? Is the scene too unreal?” I analyze the characters and the story in light of these questions or even ask my daughters for input, and then make necessary changes.

Have you always aspired to be a writer? 

I suppose I have. I’ve kept my book idea journal since my early teenage years. Somehow, I always knew I wanted to write, but I was also fortunate to have an unbelievably event-filled, adventurous, and sometimes outright crazy life. Coupled with a busy career and two daughters, I had to wait a while to get to a point in life when the urge to write became so powerful, everything else (except my family) simply faded.

Tell me about how you became a writer—what was the first step for you?

I was definitely a reader first. Growing up in the Czech Republic, we had to read a lot for school. We kept reading journals, and I loved writing my entries so much, I’d even illustrate each entry. We read everything from modern literature to classics, from Czech authors to Russian, English, American; basically every author who was somehow influential. At fifteen, I managed to read almost all of Victor Hugo (even though Les Miserábles is a very long novel…). Soon, I realized the books allowed me to imagine myself in the world they described. I loved that feeling, and I kept on reading my own personal selections of Jack Kerouac, Franz Kafka, Truman Capote, Nikos Kazantzakis, and many more. The wide array of interesting novels I read throughout my early life showed me that every story, no matter how seemingly simple or complicated, can become a great novel if written in “a light, or point of view, no one has ever seen before….”

That’s when I began to write notes in my own journal. I jotted down book ideas, short stories, personal observations of the world around me, even my feelings of how I thought I did or did not fit into this physical, “real” world we live in. It was this journal that ultimately showed me that whenever I felt like I’d rather be someone else, in some world far from ours, all I had to do was to imagine it and write it down. And so I did…. And I still do…

Do you have a distinctive “voice” as a writer?

Not really. Like I said, I feel as though the stories I write just come to me when the time is right, and I only write when I feel the urge. The voice comes with the story. If I write a diary of a French girl, the voice is hers: young, excited, scared at times. It’s the first voice of a unique person. When I wrote Bring Me Back, the story manifested itself through a third voice, sometimes a voice so strong and persuasive, I found myself listening to it wondering what will I learn next. When the need to write Choking Game finally overpowered my fear of the sadness the story would bring with itself, the voice became ardent, even cruel, but slowly turned kind, understanding, and filled with hope.

No, I don’t think about the voice. I let the story speak for itself in whatever voice feels right for it.

Do you think anyone can learn to be an effective writer, or is it an unnamed spiritual gift?

I suppose with a little talent, anyone can learn to “write” like a writer. There are many very talented people who write for hire, and they do it well. Many TV shows use such talent to write episodes after a successful pilot show. Writing, after all, has rules that apply just like any other “trade.” Even the best stories, if told without the regard for some of the rules like “show don’t tell,” “don’t jump from one character’s head to another,” etc., can fall short of their potential.

Having said that, however, I do not think one can learn to “create” stories and characters. I feel the difference between writing a piece of work and creating something from within your own inner self is tremendous. Writers who bring stories and characters to life in this way always leave a piece of themselves within the pages of the book. At least I do. I have never written a book where I would not share a piece of my own self, whether a prior experience, personal feeling, or a whole lot more.

Was there a point at which you felt this would be a career?

I never thought of it that way. Now that you mention it, I am not even entertaining the idea of quitting and going back to a day job anytime soon, if ever. So, maybe writing is my career. All I know, it’s something I love to do more than anything else.

Is there a book you’re most proud of?

This may sound a little pretentious, but I do love every one of my books. Each is very different, and each represents a different part of me or my life experience. I poured my heart out in the Choking Game, which was a very personal journey. The first book of the series, Diary of a French Girl: Recklessly Yours, was so much fun to write, I cannot wait to write a sequel.

But my love affair is the Bring Me Back trilogy. The first book was published last year, and I am halfway through with the second book. It’s taking more time than I expected because this trilogy is far more than a story. It’s a lifetime of learning, experience, imagining time and space, and the answers to enigmatic questions like, “Is there life after death? What is a soul, and where does it come from? Can we clone a human being that has both a body and a soul?” Bring Me Back is my take on all of this, and I do my best to create a story that will not only show the many possibilities, but also entertain, intrigue, and pull the reader into a world they could feel and love.

Writing is so internal—in the head—how did you release the pressure before you began writing?

I don’t. Every time I start a new book, I let the pressure build up inside my head, my heart and my soul. It allows me to forget who I am personally, and become one with my characters. The internal pressure fuels my desire to tell the story as realistically as I can by feeling it, rather then making it up.

On average, how long does it take for you to write your ideas down before you start writing a book?

I’m probably the most disorganized author you’ve interviewed. I never organize my thoughts or even think what exactly the book is going to be about. I don’t get up in the morning thinking I will spend the day writing. I don’t write a synopsis, and I write thoughts and ideas only once the manuscript is almost finished. I often go back and re-write, though.

There are two ways I start a new book. I either sit down and “doodle” a sentence. The sentence becomes a paragraph, the paragraph grows into a page on the monitor, and then a page follows another page… This is how I started Choking Game. All I did was write a Twitter tweet: I wonder what the world would be like if I didn’t exist? And the rest of the book followed in a heartbeat.

Or I get up one day and all I can think of is being alone, closing the door to my office and to the “outside world” because I feel something is pounding my head, and I have to let it come out in the form of a new story. As crazy as it sounds, this is how the Bring Me Back trilogy started. And I waited several months from when the first book was published until that same crazy feeling returned, and I began to write the second book. Once I do start to write, though, the story unfolds so quickly, I can barely keep up with the typing.

How do you guard your time to do what’s most important?

I don’t. I let things slide; I steal quality time from my family; I get anxious wanting to write while I have to do some other so-called “important tasks;” I get panic attacks that there’s simply too much to do to manage to do it all, and then… I inhale, close my eyes, and realize I am my own worst enemy. So, I do what I have to. I do one thing at a time and stop obsessing about wanting to do it all at once…

What are some of the more common distractions you struggle with, and what ways have you found to overcome them?

My friends, my family, my dog, and, of course, my second homeland, Czech Republic, where I spend a lot of time because I have more friends, family, and another dog there. I’m connected to everyone on social media sites, and if that’s not enough of a distraction, we FaceTime, Skype, go out, hang out, you name it.

But when the need to let a new story out of my head takes over, my friends and family understand my kind of “not normal.” Yeah, I retreat for a while, kind of disappear from the radar for a couple of months and go to live happily ever after in a new world I am creating at that time.

What kind of review do you take to heart?

The one where I can tell the reviewer actually read the book. Have you noticed how many reviews are on Amazon by people who did not purchase the book and seem to have no understanding what the book is really about?

As a writer, however, you have the opportunity to self-reflect, to revisit experiences. How does that feel?

Sometimes, it’s a great feeling, especially when the story has a deeper meaning, like in Bring Me Back. I find myself laughing while typing some scenes and remembering similar situations that might had happened to me before, like in the Diary of a French Girl. And sometimes the writing journey is so emotional, I can’t see the words on the monitor through the tears I am unable to hold back, just like when I wrote the Choking Game.

Yes, my work is full of self-reflection. I think that’s why I enjoy it so much, whether it’s a happy and fun experience, or a sad one. I get to revisit the past and make it better or worse in the present in a world I create. The opportunity to do this makes the entire writing process worthwhile, whether I write for readers or simply for my own enjoyment.

When you start a new book, do you know how a book will end as you’re writing it?  Or does its direction unfold during the writing, research and/or creative process?

I never know how the book will end. That’s what makes the writing so exciting. Sometimes, the story unfolds and takes such unexpected turns, I am surprised myself about how it ends. Like I said before, I do not decide to write a story, then sit down, write a synopsis, and then follow the story line. I make no decisions to do anything unless something—and I don’t know what it is—literally makes me sit down, open a new file, and start typing. I may have an idea from my journal, or I may think of something and it pops in my head, but I never have a story line.

As I write and the story begins to wrap up, I am always amazed how naturally the end of the story unfolds. Writing the very last sentence is my favorite part of every book. It has to feel right—final but not absolute. The sentence has to clearly end the story, but give the reader some room for his own opinion.

How do your books speak to people, both inside and outside the reading world?

It depends who you have in mind. One thing I realized as I wrote more young adult and new adult books, though. My characters are never quite “normal.” Even if a character acts “normal” at the beginning of the book, sooner or later he or she reveals some deeper character flaw, something unique to each one, something good and definitely something bad. I gave up on entirely positive characters. I’d go as far as saying, “I can’t do normal.” Maybe it’s who I am or maybe I met too many interesting, unusual people along my unusual life. I prefer to “hang out” with quirky, edgy, even mean or depressed characters. People come in all shapes, forms and shades. I pay more attention to those who have some kind of an internal struggle. They feel more human to me.

With a character who has certain flaws and internal struggle, it is easy to go deeper into the story and relate it to the world around us in a way that may even speak to a lot of people. I hope my books do that. It’s up to my readers to make the final judgment.

How do you see your role in impacting and influencing society?

I never thought about myself as someone who could impact and influence society. Then one day I found myself working along some unbelievably smart, brilliant people who actually considered me their equal. It was a humbling experience. That was my former career as a CEO of a privately held medical research company. I was too busy working to think about making an impact. All I wanted was to keep the company going, the scientists being able to conduct their studies, and helping as many sick people as I could. And then I picked up a phone one day and man’s voice on the other line said, “Yveta, you’re a blessing to me. Without your help, I wouldn’t be alive.” That statement made me cry, and I am definitely not one who cries often.

What I realized was that this phone call reinforced what I always believed very strongly: everything we do, no matter how big or small, has an impact. We cannot hide or run away from our actions. I am far from perfect; I have many flaws, and I have trouble following the rules; but I was always ready to accept the consequences of my actions. I was fortunate to have a career that allowed me to have a positive impact, and now I am trying to use some of that work experience to do the same with my books.

Do you look at yourself as an “envelope pusher” with your writing?

Absolutely. The further the better. I do not shy away from issues that make people feel uncomfortable. I shared this quote on my Facebook page: “Art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.” I don’t know who said it, but it’s a great thought. I kind of feel the same way about books.

What are some pieces of advice that you would give someone on writing well?

Don’t try too hard. If you find yourself thinking too much, going in circles, or making up conversations that don’t sound real, walk away. Come back in a few days or weeks or even months, whatever it takes to feel rather than make the story. If you find yourself back to where you were before, maybe it’s not the story you’re supposed to be writing.

Young writers often make foolish mistakes. What is a mistake to avoid?

Thinking that you know it all… Just because you read a lot of books or have a fantastic story idea, doesn’t mean you have what it takes to be a good writer. Books take time and the willingness to re-write, sometimes more than once. A good writer listens to feedback and is able to step back and see the manuscript with the feedback in mind. Sometimes, writers get too entangled with their point of view and don’t consider the fact that others may not see it their way. Always keep an open mind.

What obstacles and opportunities do you see for writers in the years ahead?

The Indie publishing world is a double-edged sword. Everyone has the opportunity to publish his work, which allows far too many to publish just about anything. The market is saturated as it is. It will be even harder to find the really good novels among so many other pieces of work.

Could you talk about one work of creative art that has powerfully impacted you as a person?

My all time favorite artists have always been Michelangelo for his unbelievably carved marble statues and Rembrandt for his paintings that played with darkness, shadows and light. I read many books about these two artists when I was a teenager. Ever since I read about Michelangelo’s Pieta, I knew it was something I wanted to see one day.

Two years ago, I was in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and as I walked towards the Pieta, I was blown away. It was even more beautiful than I had ever imagined it to be. I cannot imagine what kind of genius can take a piece of marble and carve Jesus dead, laying in Mary’s lap, with such an incredible detail. Every muscle, sinew, piece of the body seems so real. I stood there for a long time taking in the fact that Michelangelo carved this marvel before he was thirty years old.

I felt elated for the rest of the day, knowing that I finally saw the one statue I wanted to see my whole life. It was like I finished a chapter in one of my books. I called my mom in the Czech Republic from Rome later that evening and found out my father suddenly died on that day. Michelangelo’s Pieta had a powerful impact on me and always will. It closed not one, but two chapters of  my life.

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