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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Interview: Vickie McEntire

Today, we have an opportunity to talk to Vickie McEntire. 

Vickie has written the book, 

Little Bird 
& Myrtle Turtle. 

First, let me thank you for joining me. 

I appreciate you giving me your links and I want to share those with our readers.

Author Name: Vickie McEntire
Facebook: @booksbyvickie
Twitter: vickie_mcentire
Instagram: booksbyvickie
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/booksbyvickie
Title of Book: Little Bird & Myrtle Turtle
Genre of Book: Children’s

That’s great. Tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start writing.

I believe in the power of the written and spoken word and live for those little moments that can change lives. 
I live in Northwest Georgia with my husband and cat. In 2014, I joined a local writing group, Calhoun Area Writers (CAW), and attended many conferences and learned so much through the connections of that group.

I write about things that are important to me—literacy, community, and family. 

I would credit much of my success to my love of reading and the support of CAW. Becoming a member of several local critique groups, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Georgia Writers Association (GWA), Rome Area Writers (RAW), and Chattanooga Writers’ Guild CWG) played a major role in my achievements. They all provided encouragement and opportunities to write.

My three children grew up and moved out, which inspired me to write my first children’s book, Baby Birds, in October 2016, about the life cycle of birds. After Cheryl Snow showed CAW members how easy it was to write and submit a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul, my story, “The Book Fair,” was accepted for Inspiration for Teachers in April 2017.

A class taught by John Mannone at a CWG conference, inspired me to publish my book of poems, Empty Nest, in May 2017. A four-year-old in foster care inspired me to publish a second children’s book in October 2017, Little Bird and Myrtle Turtle. It was chosen as a finalist in the 2018 American Book Fest International Book Awards and won the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year Award. Are you noticing a theme? I love birds!

I have had the pleasure of sitting under John Mannone as well.  He is very inspiring. What happened next?

       I started getting invitations to speak—an author event at Calhoun-Gordon County Library in April 2018 and at the Northwest Georgia Writers Conference in May 2018. I presented 5 Things Every Children’s Book Writer Needs to Know at the Red Clay Writers Conference at Kennesaw State University Center in November 2018 and participated with the SCBWI booth at the 2018 AJC Decatur Book Festival. My favorite opportunities were talking to elementary students in schools, libraries, and museums about the writing process and the importance of reading. They really respect authors! Except for one little guy in second grade who questioned my credibility, because my real face didn’t match the head shot on the back of the book. Gotta love kids.

            My story about dementia, “Love the One You’re With,” won third place in the literary non-fiction category and was published in the CWG 2019 Anthology. In July 2020 my engagement story, “A Night of Surprises in Chattanooga,” won the Chattanooga theme category of the CWG Spring Writing Contest. I have stories in two different Chicken Soup books this summer: The Magic of Cats out July 2020, and Listen to Your Dreams out August 2020. I’m having trouble setting up a book signing. May have to Zoom it!

I’ve written sixteen stories for Calhoun Magazine since 2016, with six of those issues boasting my photography on the cover. When the Sep/Oct 2020 issue is distributed, my name will be listed as editor.

Do you write full-time or around another job?

I’ve been writing full-time for about a year. Prior to that, I wrote around full-time jobs.

How do you schedule your time to write?

It’s much easier now, although focus has been an issue this year. Most of the writing that was published this year was written during better times.

It has been a crazy year for sure. I know many writers have struggled in 2020. Where do you get your inspiration, information, and ideas for books?

In brilliant moments of simplicity. Anything I witness that pulls at my heart, is a possible launching point for a story. I journal most days. My computer is organized into files for different kinds of writing, so I can find something easily when an opportunity to share is presented. I love to research, but the internet is a deep hole that can waste a lot of time.
What are your hobbies and do they ever play into your writing?

Reading, and yes. I was once so inspired while reading a book, that I started writing in the blank pages in the back of the book. Photography is the basis for a second novel that I started before finishing the first one.

What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?

Do it. If you write words onto paper or type them on a keyboard, you can claim the title of writer. If you want to claim the title of published author, it involves a few more steps. There are plenty of free digital sites to learn from. Join a writer’s group.

 Learn how to edit someone else’s writing. Read. I will quote Stephen King about reading. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

Please tell us about your current release.

My story, “A Wanderer in My Dreams,” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Listen to Your Dreams was based on a dream.

Can you provide us with a small excerpt?

While my husband parked the car and unlocked the front door, I approached the furry, coiled animal slowly. She had chosen our welcome mat for her bed, and had her back against the front door. The dog lifted its head and looked at me. She was a beautiful blonde husky. Her tail wagged. I reached out to pet her, and she tried to stand. My husband opened the door from inside, and the dog quietly limped down the brick steps and off into the darkness.
“Did she have a collar?” he asked.
“I didn’t see one,” I said. “She’s hurt, though. Should we go look for her?”
“Not at this hour of the night,” he said. “Maybe she’s going home.” I wanted to believe that, because I couldn’t stand the thought of that sweet dog suffering in pain from an injury.
“I wonder who she belongs to,” my husband said, still holding the open door with one hand.
“I don’t know,” I said, looking out into the darkness, “but I’ve seen her before.”
“In my dream.” I looked at him with tears beginning to pool and shivered in the cool night air. “It’s Lily.”

What exciting story are you working on next?

I’ve been working on a novel since 2014. Working title is Tucker Hollow Road. Setting, a small North Georgia town.

Who are your favorite authors?

Adult: Kahlil Gibran, Malcolm Gladwell, Helen Keller, Simon Sinek, Cassie Selleck, Sean Dietrich,
Children’s: Barbara Cooney, Matt de la Pena, Kate DiCamillo, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Leo Lionni, Jon Muth
Writing Craft: Rayne Hall, K. M. Weiland, Blake Snyder, Anne Lamott, Stephen King

Any plans for the upcoming holiday?

I was a single mom for most of my life, so any day when I’m with the ones I love is a day of celebration.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Every membership and registration fee to get me closer to the giants paving the way.

That is great advice. I just paid for my first conference, the Atlanta Writer's Conference. I'm excited to go be near "the giants."

What is your writer’s kryptonite?

Not writing down what I need to accomplish each day. Without a list, I could easily spend a day scrolling or cleaning the house, but more likely scrolling.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

Support other writers in whatever way you can. Buy a book, leave a review, share a post, or just be kind when delivering a critique.

One more time, where can someone go to purchase your book?

All of my books can be purchased HERE! Thank you!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Interview with William Wilfong

Today, we have an opportunity to talk to William Wilfong.  William has written the book, Movement.  

First, let me thank you for joining me.  I appreciate you giving me your links and I want to share those with our readers.

Author name: WilliamWilfong
On the Web: Wwilfong.com 
Facebook: Facebook.com/wwilfongauthor
Title of book we’re promoting: Movement
Genre of book: Thriller/General Fiction

That is great.  Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start writing?

I grew up in Richmond, VA before moving to Chattanooga in ’97. I’d always had a love for reading and writing short stories, but some of my short stories seemed to grow and grow to the point that I thought there might be something interesting in them. Crazy dreams, spicy food, and my inability to find something good to read all led to the conclusion of Movement and a half dozen other projects in various stages of completion.

Do you write full-time or around another job? How do you schedule your time to write?

Sadly, writing is a part time gig for me at this point, but I can dream. I try to set aside the late evenings for writing as I do my best work when the house is quiet and everyone is settled in. Sometimes I will go months without touching a draft before leaping headfirst into it and spending days in front of the computer. 

Where do you get your inspiration, information, and ideas for books?

Every idea I’ve had has been the result of some crazy dream that I’ve been lucky enough to remember. I’ll wake up and scratch the idea down on a piece of paper, and then spend some time alone on the back porch of an evening fleshing it out to see if there’s a story somewhere in the sentences.

That's great! I can never remember my dreams, but I have used some of my wife's remembrances before.  What are your hobbies and do they ever play into your writing?

I’m big on spending time in the outdoors whether it be fishing, camping, or hiking. Peaceful surroundings definitely play a role in helping my mind get freed from the stress of life and help lubricate the gears of creativity.

What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?

Read Stephen King’s “On Writing.” There are some things in this book that I wish I had known much earlier in the journey. There’s an excellent section in it about not plotting your book from end to end, and letting it flow organically. In doing so you create a book that is predictable to the reader, and if the reader knows how the book will end from the start, then it’s not a good book.

Nice article on 12 takeaways from "On Writing"
I've read On Writing twice.  It and a great course I listened to (How to Write Best-Selling Fiction by James Scott Bell) have been the most influential to me.  King's book, in particular, is great.  Shifting gears, please tell us about your current release.

I released Movement in December of 2019 just after the birth of my first son. It’s actually the fourth book I’ve started, but the first I’ve finished. It’s on the small side at around 80,000 words, but it’s had good reception with friends and family. 

I haven’t spent nearly as much time promoting it as I had planned, so I really need to get on that.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 

By far it was buying my own ISBN number. Don’t give the rights to your hard work away.  

Just for our readers, let me provide the description on the back flap:

Was it a chance meeting or was it meant to be? For Jacob Thornton things had never come easy, but meeting Sarah made for a love that transcended time and space. She saw something in him, and ability, that he didn't even know existed.
This is more than a love story though. This is a story of deceit and cover-ups; a story where finding out the truth of your past is just the prelude to outrunning it long enough to have a future.

What exciting story are you working on next?

I’m not sure. I have few and I can’t decide which direction I want to go in next. Having a kid put a slight hiatus on writing, but at seven months Ben is sleeping through the night and allowing some free time in the evenings. 

The two that show the most promise are Expat with a word count of around 150,000 and Hole In The Dirt (bad working title) with 40,000 words. Despite the title, I think the second will be the next to finish. Think along the lines of something ancient from below coming to the surface with a millennia of hunger, sharp claws, and the intelligence of pack hunters. It follows how several people from varied backgrounds fight to survive, fail to survive, and work to find a way to stop these creatures.  

That sounds like a fun read! I know your free time is limited with a newborn, but who are your favorite authors to read?
Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Joe Abercrombie are my all-time favorites. 

What is your writer’s kryptonite? 

I would have to say the television. Good documentaries and murder mysteries turn me into a couch potato and keep me from my work.

I think we all are susceptible to the draw of television.  It reminds me of a quote from King.

Thanks for joining me.  One more time, let our readers know where they can purchase your book?

Monday, July 20, 2020

Argh! Move over Harvard! MIT is teaching real life skills.

What child ever went to their parents when they were seven and said, "Father, I hope someday to be an accountant for people in the sock industry," or "Mother, my dream is to be a engineer designing freeway bridges in large, metropolitan cities with mass transit."

Okay... maybe a few kids say that.  But most have no interest.  Rather, they want to be a superhero, a fireman, a professional athlete, a musician, an actor, or perhaps a pirate.

Yes, a pirate.  Whether it is the story of the princess bride, Robin Hood, Pirates of the Caribbean, or some other version, young people have always had a fascination with pirating.

Indeed, when I took my youngest son to DisneyWorld for the first time, becoming a pirate was his favorite activity.  The opening picture is evidence that (1) Disney does a great job turning children into pirates, (2) Disney pirated all my money, and (3) there is such a thing as a skeleton pirate.

Now all of this is interesting, until you hit your senior year in high school, which my son is entering.  As you look at colleges, there is great excitement for those still chasing their dreams.  There are science and STEM jobs where you may hopefully get to be part of an experiment and become a super mutant.  There are scholarships for actors, musicians, and even for accountants.  There are trade schools as well for firemen.  But where do you go to be a pirate?

Harvard? Nada. Yale? Nope. Vanderbilt? No.  MIT?  You bet!!

That is right,

If you are at MIT and need to fulfill your physical education requirements you can take their pirate program.  Now, for those youngsters who love to do AP work in high school, MIT makes clear that "Non-MIT courses and life experience are not counted towards completing the certificate."

And, of course, they ay, "The MIT Pirate Certificate is for entertainment purposes only and does not give the recipient license to engage in piracy or any pirate activities."

Wink, wink...

But still, a real pirate certification from an American University!  If I was their marketing director, I would put this on the front page of every brochure.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Checkout My Podcast Interview!

Spilling Ink 
Podcast Interview
Saturday, July 11th

Check Out Other Spilling Ink Podcasts Here

My friend, Katie Salidas, has invited me to be a guest 
on the acclaimed podcast, Spilling Ink.  

Check out her awesome series here!

What I gave to Katie

Spilling Ink is a podcast that goes behind the book with authors Katie Salidas, Jason LaVelle, and David Jones.  They give an inside look at all aspects of the publishing industry. They look for authors working their way to the top of the slush piles, and see what it takes to bring a story from idea to print. (adapted from their website: Spilled Ink)

What Katie helped me create!!
I am very blessed to have met Katie, who helped me on the cover design and formatting of Jam Sessions.

Katie also helped me connect with someone on ACX, where I produced my audible version.  She was a great help navigating the indie publishing waters.  I am excited that I have been invited to interview on the podcast.  It will air live Saturday evening and can be found in archive at their site:


Saturday, July 4, 2020

Quarantine World: Trapped in the Coronaverse

Author name:  
Michael H. Hanson


Genre of book: 
Poetry Chapbook

Today, we have an opportunity to talk to Michael H. Hanson.  Michael has written the poetry chapbook, “QUARANTINE WORLD: Trapped In The Coronaverse.”  

 Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to start writing?

I am a Member of both the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) and the Horror Writers Association (HWA). Though an experienced short story writer in the fields of fantasy, science fiction, and horror with over one hundred published tales to my credit (most notably in Janet Morris’s Heroes-in-Hell series and The Sha’Daa Series), I am also a active Poet. The son of a U.S. Army Sergeant and a Nurse, I’ve penned four published anthologies verse, ‘AUTUMN BLUSH’ and ‘JUBILANT WHISPERS’ (Racket River Press) and ‘DARK PARCHMENTS’ and ‘WHEN THE NIGHT OWL SCREAMS’ (MoonDream Press). I am currently compiling an illustrated collection of poems for children titled THE GREAT SOAP REBELLION. I recently announced the publication of my new full collection of science-fiction and fantasy poetry titled “ANDROID GIRL and Other Sentient Speculations” (Three Ravens Publishing, 2020). In recent years, my poems have regularly appeared in the HWA Poetry Showcase and the Rhysling Anthology, as well as in various other magazines, webzines, anthologies, and journals.

My earliest writing endeavors, for both poetry and short stories, began in High School. The local newspaper published three of my rhyming poems over the course of two years, and I penned my first short stories during creative writing classes my junior and senior years.

Though my poetry writing took a 20-year hiatus after that, I embraced short story writing and scriptwriting during my college years, but after graduation from Syracuse University spent my free time working exclusively on writing spec screenplays and teleplays.

Middle-Age, Divorce, the death of my Mother, and a two-week tour of Ireland to spread my mother’s ashes marked the end of my 12-year attempt to break into the film biz as a scriptwriter, and I found myself embracing writing poetry and short stories exclusively during every spare moment I had/have in my life in the intervening years.

In my late 50’s, I have come to terms with my demons and find that poetry and short stories are a genuine catharsis for all my existential challenges and dreads.

Do you write full-time or around another job? How do you schedule your time to write? 

I was recently laid off from my job of 24 years (a technical editor of engineering journals) and am currently looking for full-time work. I spent all that time writing on evenings and on weekends, and occasionally lunch hours. You take the time you are given as a writer and make the best of it. That is all there is to it.

Where do you get your inspiration, information, and ideas for books?

Everywhere and anywhere. I am both a short story writer and a poet, and I find a muse in the news, in movies, other poems and short stories and books, TV shows of all kinds, nature itself, conversations I overhear out in public, the taste of food, the smell of a pine tree… inspiration is all around us, in everything we do or are exposed to. We just have to listen to it… Also, Google and Wikipedia are great ways to begin conducting any and all research. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?

Start typing! Stop putting it off. Write! Creativity is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Cultivate patience and discipline (it’s going to take awhile to get good, and setting aside time every day to write, lunch hours, before you go to bed, etc. is all part of the game).

Please tell us about your current release.

“QUARANTINE WORLD: Trapped In The Coronaverse” is a poetry chapbook, a small collection of poems about my perceptions and experience witnessing and dealing with the Corona Virus and Covid-19 throughout the first half of 2020. It is available on Kindle, will soon be available as a pocketbook-sized paperback on Amazon, and is also going to be released as an Audiobook on Audible in the near future!

Can you provide us with a small exert? 

Is anybody out there real,
I ask myself most every day
and if you are can you now feel
that we’re all in a shadow play.
Does anybody else exist,
I ponder staring at my hands
or did you all up and enlist
to ride spaceships to Mars’ red lands.
Will anybody know if I
just up and vanish from the Earth 
knowing that all things surely die
as counterweights to every birth.
Or did the universe espouse  
bringing expansion to a halt
and then contract down to my house
where I defy god’s harsh assault.
Please tell me how one can endure
defeat and solitude’s allure.

What exciting story are you working on next?

I’m currently editing and putting the final polish on two shared-world anthologies I created, and which contain short stories by a lot of talented authors. They are SHA’DAA: ZOMBIE PARK (which is part of The Sha’Daa Series and will be published in late 2020 by MoonDream Press) and NOT TO YIELD (which is a science-fiction military space opera that I plan to Pitch to a number of Big Publishers when it is finalized later this year).

Who are your favorite authors?

Oh the full list is endless, for both my favorite Poets and favorite Authors, so this is just a sample short-list:

Roger Zelazny, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe, Pablo Neruda, Stephen King, Lord Byron, e.e. cummings, Robert Frost, Connie Willis, F. Paul Wilson, William Butler Yeats, Ursula K. Le Guin, Dr. Seuss, Nancy Kress, Mike Resnick, Sylvia Plath, Ray Bradbury, Walt Whitman, C.J. Henderson, Langston Hughes, Isaac Asimov, Andre Norton, Rumi, Shel Silverstein, Anne McCaffrey, Jay Leeming, Samuel R. Delaney, and oh so many others!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

My poetry collections and some of the Sha’Daa series have begun, and/or will soon begin, to appear as audiobooks on Audible!  I highly recommend you check them out. The Voice Talent in each publication is fantastic!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Horses in NYC and why firecrackers are important for children

Link to article... mostly about electric cars...

I came across this picture last week.  In the course of thirteen years the streets of NYC went from 1 car and a lot of horse poop to 1 very confused horse and lots of cool, vintage cars.

Of course, they weren't vintage back then.  They also cost less than most people's single paycheck today.  In 1913, you could buy a Model T for $525.  By 1916 it was only $345!  Imagine that!  Ford motors selling cars cheaper each year!

The revolution from horse to car was radical and quick.  The radical shift was washed away by the rise of washers, dryers, and fridges.  

You can fast forward (pun intended) to the 50's and 60's when things like VCR's and TV's came commonplace.  

Then there was the ever amazing development of the home computer.  Zach gave us Saved By The Bell but also popularized the cell phone. And today we are at another precipice.

Everyone wants to predict the next wave of change: electric cars, solar power, drone delivery for burritos.

I even saw an amazing documentary where this man dressed up in an "iron" suit powered an entire tower.  He also could fly, shoot rockets, and weld.  I always thought the power to weld was a dangerous add-on for iron man, but it never seems to come up as a problem.

Which leads me to our main point.  In one of the iron man movies, Tony Stark drops into Chattanooga, TN.  He spends some time in a barn / garage with a young boy.

When I was a young boy in Chattanooga (well, Ooltewah, TN to be exact) I move through the very distinct phases of boyhood for my generation:
-1. Play with models people bought for me (hot wheels, GI Joe, etc)
-2. Build models / assemble kits (The GI Joe tank took all kinds of work!  But ran off 6 D batteries and a corded remote!  awesome!)
-3. Discover fireworks
-4. Blow up most of everything your parents bought and you built.

That level of discovery and fun was not an accident.  For years I ran a summer camp in Tennessee.  I recall all the trade journals discussing how to advertise camps to parents.  Yes, to parents.  They, after all, are the ones who pay for camp.

In my childhood, we went to camp to do the things that we could NOT do at home.  We did not have ski boats, zip lines, or tennis courts.  Today, those things are more accessible.  If not in actuality, a small electronic device allows you to be an olympic athlete, ESPN X game star, or a great assassin with bunny ears.

Over the 1980's parents started shrinking their children's worlds.  It was safer to play on a rec team with rules, uniforms, and referees than in the street.  It was safer to stay in the yard or subdivision than wonder miles from home or off in the woods.  (I recall a friend of mine getting bit by a copperhead in the woods.  Our parents sent us back out to finish the tree house a week later).  Then backyards were exchanged for basements.  Big screen tv's became the window to the world rather than actually walking outside.

I have a daughter who loves being outside.  But where I could go out and find ten kids to play with, her friends are all inside.  If she can coax one out, it is to walk our neighborhood with their phones in their hands.

As a camp director, we discussed advertising camp not as a place to have "bigger, greater" fun, but rather as a place to have unplugged fun.

I see some of this with the concern for environmentalism, marching for causes, and an emphasis on being outside.  I am also hopeful that our experience in quarantine will cause us to value face-to-face relationships more.  And in doing so, radically change our now zoom / Skype society.  What if the smart phone and chromebook were the horse and buggy?  It is my hope, that the next big transformation will not be a way to power more technology.  I hope it will be a path for the rising generation to live with technology but not in slavery to it.  If they need my help, I'm happy to buy some firecrackers.