Today Rachelle Ayala stops by to announce the release of her new romance Played by Love.
Today Rachelle Ayala stops by to announce the release of her new romance Played by Love.
It’s another edition of Author Wednesday here at Writing Whims. Today I am pleased to feature James Moushon who is a stellar promoter of Indie Authors through various blogs (The eBook Author’s Corner, HBS Author’s Spotlight, and HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle). When he’s not promoting the rest of us, he’s busy writing his own mystery and thriller novels. He’s just released the second book in the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novels, Game of Fire.
James, welcome to Author Wednesday. It’s a pleasure to return the favor by featuring you today as an author. Let’s talk a bit about your writing life. What’s an average day for you as writer, blogger, and promoter of Indie Authors?
I usually spend the first two hours working on a book I’m writing or a short story. Then I switch gears and start working on my three blogs. I try to do at least one post a day. All my blogs are book and author related so my research is sort of mixed together. In the evening I try to relax and do some social media things. Boring right.
I think it sounds very organized. For someone who does so many different things, it’s probably essential. Put your writer hat on now. Who has most influenced your writing and why?
Ernest Hemingway. I was fortunate enough to meet a Hemingway scholar when I was in college. I write about things I have experienced and visualized.
There’s no one better to serve as an example. You’ve been writing mystery/thriller novels. Is there another genre or form you’d like to try?
Short stories. I plan on publishing a bundle of six short stories this summer, featuring my leading character, Jonathon Stone.
Speaking of Jonathon Stone, do all your books have a common theme or thread?
All my books, so far, have a Mystery and Espionage theme with a CIA agent chasing down the bad guys and terrorists. One of the things that makes it unique is the action for the most part is in the United States, which is an off-books adventure.
Tell us about your favorite character from your novels.
Jonathon Stone, CIA agent at large. He likes action. He likes to gamble. He likes the ladies with drinking a close second. Although I am not as lucky as Jon, I like to gamble.
That’s the beauty of writing fiction. We can make our characters into the person we’d most like to be. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
Here’s my favorite review of Game of Fire: “That’s pretty much my criteria for how good a book is. If I keep putting it down, I probably won’t finish it. Trust me, you won’t be putting Game of Fire down. The story of former CIA Agent Jonathan Stone and his relationship with Jodi Shannon is wonderful, as is the fast-paced unfolding of the plot. I live in the part of California where the novel takes places and because of the author’s integrity to time and place, I can only assume that the bomb making and everything else is just as valid. I didn’t just like this book, I’m hooked on Jonathon Stone and the author’s style of writing. Thank you for providing such a great read!”
That’s a wonderful review, which gives us a view into the plot. What’s your one sentence pitch for Game of Fire?
CIA agent Jonathon Stone hunts for an arsonist linked to terrorism and espionage.
I’m hooked. How did you choose the title?
Game of Fire: The story starts with an explosion in Little Saigon, California during the Tet Festival Parade. The year was 2007 and the Vietnamese were celebrating the year of the Fire Pig. The cover has the Chinese characters announcing the event.
What type of research did you do in the writing of this book?
I lived in the area for years and experienced the celebration many times.
With your busy schedule, it’s hard to imagine you having down time, but when you do, what do you like to do?
Right now it is summer time, and I’m watching baseball almost every day. I love the game. Oh yeah, I watch the game with a laptop close by.
I bet you do. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you a little better, James. I appreciate all that you do to support us Indies. Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for having me.
Starting more than fifteen years ago, he helped lead the start up of the electronic forms industry in the creation, conversion, and usage of electronic forms by supplying that industry with a continuing source of published literature, software products, and training seminars. In 2003, Moushon changed his focus to eBbooks and their development.
He is currently wearing three hats. He is a mystery writer, book publishing blogger, and a computer consultant. He has spent the majority of his adult life developing computer systems and thinking about writing.
James can be found all over the Internet. Click on titles below to find him.
Links to books
And social media sites
And blog/site links
Website: James Moushon – Mystery Writer:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn surprised me. I thought it was simply a novel about a disintegrating marriage. There is nothing “simply” about this story. Since my review is the 19,852nd of Gone Girl, others must have some strong feelings about the novel as well.
I really don’t know how I feel about it. Is it well written? Absolutely. Is it suspenseful? Without a doubt. Is it surprising? There’s nothing mundane and ordinary about this plot or its characters. For those reasons, the novel deserves somewhere around ten stars instead of the standard five stars. The score balances out in the creepy department. Gone Girl thoroughly creeped me out and made me thankful that the significant relationships in my life thus far resemble a television series similar to Leave it to Beaver.
The author changes point of view in each chapter. Just when I thought the husband Nick was the bad guy, the wife Amy jumps in with her story, and the pendulum swings. It’s interesting that the person narrating in any particular chapter doesn’t always come off as the good guy. Nick represents himself as shallow, sneaky, and uncaring. Amy can show a side that’s, well, just plain creepy. No other word for it. Then when it’s almost unbearable, Amy becomes the victim once again.
Because every single chapter is its own little mystery verse, I can’t say much else without giving a spoiler. If you can stand folks who are usually unlikable; if you like a unique storytelling technique; if you like to explore the nether regions of the human psyche; and if you “simply” want a read where you are reluctant to put the book down, then read Gone Girl. It’s worth any stain of creepdom left on your brain.
I welcome J.J. (James) DiBenedetto to Author Wednesday. James is the author of the paranormal romance Dream Series. The seven books in this series are James’ first published work, but it’s a prolific batch of fiction. The titles: Dream Student, Dream Doctor, Dream Child, Dream Family, Waking Dream, Dream Reunion, and Dream Home.
Hello, James. It’s nice to have you here today. You’ve written seven books in your Dream Series, which is very impressive. I wonder if you convey the same messages or themes in all of your books.
I didn’t really set out to preach or to convey any particular message, but as the books have gone on, I see my beliefs coming through. I think the books emphasize the importance of compassion, and empathy, and a healthy respect for the power you have (whatever kind of power that is) and the importance of taking responsibility for your actions, no matter the cost.
That’s interesting. I do that with my own work, and before I know it a message emerges, which conveys my own belief system. Do you have a favorite character that you created?
Sara, the heroine of the Dream Series – I couldn’t have written seven (and counting!) books about her if I didn’t love her. What I like best about her is that while she is the heroine, and she does save the day, she’s definitely flawed and very human. She gets jealous and angry and has very irrational moments. And while she always tries to do the right thing, she sometimes has a lot of trouble figuring out what that actually is.
I bet you have fun putting her in new situations and deciding how she will react. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
I really loved one review of Dream Doctor, which takes place during Sara’s first month of medical school, where the reviewer wondered if I was a doctor or otherwise involved in medicine, because the book rang so true. That was high praise for the research I did, because other than going to the doctor myself when I’m sick, I’m about as far as you can get from that!
What’s your one sentence pitch for the series?
“What if you could see everyone else’s dreams?” – that’s the pitch for the entire series, really.
That’s an intriguing concept. No wonder you’ve written seven books with a character you love and a great idea. How long do you estimate it took you to take the series from an idea to a finished, published?
Fifteen years or so! I had the first idea in 1997 or so, and I wrote a (pretty bad) novel-length first draft. Then, I rewrote that to a slightly better second draft. And then it just sat there on my computer for a really long time, until, in 2012, a friend sold her first novel to a publisher, and I said to myself, “Hey, if she can do it, so can I!” I dusted off the old draft, rewrote it again–changing the whole thing from third person POV to first person, which was what the story needed all along, only I hadn’t realized it for such a long time–and then the next three books followed, one right after the other.
Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in one of the books
My favorite scene in Dream Student is a quiet and touching scene between Sara and her father, where she admits to him how much she loves her new boyfriend.
Let’s talk about your writing life. If you listen to music while you’re writing, what is it?
Usually classical music, and always something I’m very familiar with. If it’s music with lyrics, or something new, I get distracted too easily – it has to be something that’s just “there” so that it provides some comfort but I can still keep focused on what I’m doing.
I’m the same way. No lyrics allowed while writing. How about setting. Do you set your books in the place you live?
Places I live, places I used to live, places I visited, all of that! Sara’s college in Dream Student is my college with the names changed; the apartment building she lives in in Dream Family is the building I lived in when I first moved to Washington, D.C.; her mother-in-law’s house is modeled on my cousin’s old house. “Write what you know,” right?
Thanks for stopping by today, James. It’s been a pleasure to learn a bit more about you and your work. Happy writing.
About J.J. – J.J. (James) DiBenedetto was born in Yonkers, New York. He attended Case Western Reserve University, where as his classmates can attest, he was a complete nerd. Very little has changed since then.
He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his beautiful wife and their cat (who has thoroughly trained them both). When he’s not writing, James works in the direct marketing field, enjoys the opera, photography and the New York Giants, among other interests.
Links to books and social media sites
http://viewAuthor.at/JJDiBenedetto (Amazon Author page)
http://getBook.at/DreamStudent (book #1 on Amazon)
http://getBook.at/DreamStudentAudio (book #1 on audiobook)
http://getBook.at/DreamDoctor (book #2 on Amazon)
http://getBook.at/DreamHome (latest book – #7 – on Amazon)
http://www.writingdreams.net/audio (audiobook samples of all books available on audiobook)
In an Author Wednesday interview with author Carol Brodensteiner, I asked her the best thing someone could say about her novel Go Away Home. She said, “I think the best thing someone could tell me is that they were touched by the characters and the story. That would mean they felt the story was well told, which was my goal in the first place. The second best thing is that they came away from the book knowing more about life in the early twentieth century.”
Go Away Home, Ms. Brodensteiner’s first novel, scores on both counts. The story touched me, and I learned a few things in the process.
The main character, Liddie, yearns for a life outside of her family’s Iowa farm as the novel opens in 1914. She’s sixteen and has yet to deal with life’s harsh realities. The novel’s coming of age theme isn’t old-fashioned despite its historical setting. The same universal characteristics apply whether a novel is set in the 1900s or 2000s. Liddie must come to terms with the world, not as black and white, but as shades of gray. It’s the same for everyone. Those who adapt can enjoy fulfilling lives no matter the circumstances.
I particularly enjoyed one of the messages in Go Away Home. If offers the encouragement to keep doing something no matter how dire life may seem. We can sit and do nothing, but if we do there’s no hope for anything miraculous to occur. Liddie must keep moving and doing things even when the most precious things in life have been taken from her. If she sits and does nothing, that’s exactly what will happen. I loved Liddie and her determination. Yet, Ms. Brodensteiner created a very real character in this woman. In one particular scene, Liddie has made a dire mistake with a lovely dress made for a client of the dress shop where she works. She prays no one will notice, but of course, the owner of the shop does. Liddie’s horror, fear, hope, and embarrassment are the emotions we all share in the same type of circumstances. It’s a brilliant piece of writing and characterization.
The novel’s setting of eastern rural Iowa during the years 1914 – 1919 sets the tone for Go Away Home. First, the farming life creates a tableau of innocence and simple pleasures. Fresh baked bread, gooey chocolate cake, cows bearing calves, and shirts sewn with fanciful embroidery seem romantic to us living in the twenty-first century. However, to Liddie and her family those were the everyday occurrences on the farm. The world of wars and suffragists intrudes into the drum beat of everyday living. Letter writing brings news of family far away, but with great gaps in time. This simple way of life confines Liddie—or so she thinks—until she goes out into the world and discovers that life in the city isn’t as satisfying as she thought. The sister who must leave home in shame when she becomes pregnant without the benefit of wedlock affects the entire family. It seems so silly now, but then it was considered the worst thing that could happen—until the worst thing does happen and then priorities must be rearranged.
Liddie hopes that women’s suffrage will bring freedom for her to choose how she wants to live her life. The draft at the beginning of the United States’ entry into World War I creates fear among the family, although no one close to them is drafted. Automobiles are beginning to appear, even on the farm. And the telephone is a novelty, but one that soon proves to be invaluable.
We believe that technologies are changing at a rapid speed now. Imagine what it must have been like to suddenly go from horse-powered transportation to a machine filled with gasoline. Or what it meant to suddenly be connected to someone living hours away through the black device on the wall. We have no idea what it must have been like in those days of discovery and invention. However, through novels such as Go Away Home, we learn about those times and how it must have been for our ancestors.
The research is impeccable in this novel. Ms. Brodensteiner has proven herself as an exceptional storyteller in her first novel. If you enjoy rich characters and historical fiction, you won’t be disappointed in Go Away Home.
Disclosure: I was provided with an Advanced Review copy of Go Away Home in exchange for an honest review.
Imprisoned for murders he
didn’t commit, Max Kensington is exonerated after eight years when a new
witness steps forward. He returns to his hometown and no one’s happy to see him,
least of all his ex-fiancée, Rosemary Spelling.
Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m pleased to introduce you to Carol Bodensteiner. Carol released her first novel, Go Away Home, this past month, and she’s stopped by to talk a little bit about writing this World War I-era novel set in rural eastern Iowa. Her first book, Growing Up Country, is a memoir of growing up in Iowa in the 1950s. It’s so nice to have you visit today, Carol. Congratulations on publishing your first novel. Tell us about Go Away Home. What’s the one sentence pitch for this work of historical fiction?
Thanks for inviting me to Author Wednesday, P.C. Go Away Home is the story of a young woman’s quest for independence and the right to decide her own future set against a twentieth century backdrop when options for women were limited yet social change was occurring and the Great War was on the horizon.
What is the main message you wanted to convey in this novel?
Go Away Home explores the reality that life is not as simple, or the choices as clear-cut, as we often hope they are, and that when confronted with the conflict between dreams and reality we learn there are tradeoffs. To get one thing, we often must give up something equally important.
We don’t really grow up until we’re confronted with those gray areas in life. This lesson is an important one to address. Tell us how you came up with the idea for Go Away Home.
Ever since I was a small child and learned that my grandfather died of the Spanish flu in 1918, I’ve been fascinated by my connection to that major world event. In a way my novel creates a life for the man I never knew and for the grandmother I only knew as a stern old woman. Since I never asked my grandmother a single question about my grandfather and their lives together, the story is entirely fiction.
I did that in my last novel with my grandfather. It was a way for me to create the grandfather I wanted. I’m glad you were able to do this in your fiction as well. Since this is set one hundred years ago, what type of research did you do?
My research covered everything from photo studios, clothing, apprenticeships, boarding houses, electricity and telephones, to attitudes toward German immigrants during World War I. I roamed the Living History Farms, the State Historical Society Library, and the stacks at the public library. I spent hours with an uncle who grew up on a farm pre-electricity and with a high school classmate whose family owns a rural telephone company. I found on-line issues of Kodak magazines for photographers and YouTube videos about driving a Model T. I couldn’t have dreamed up things half as interesting as the reality I found through my research.
I was impressed with the wide range of issues you tackled in Go Away Home. I think it’s very interesting that YouTube helped you learn about the Model T. I know that both of your books are set in the same place in Iowa. What role does setting play in your novel?
Setting is critical to the story, representing one of the basic choices my main character Liddie faces. She grows up on a farm and though she wants desperately to get to the city with all the excitement and opportunities that represents, her connection to the farm and the kind of life she had there is stronger than she realizes.
I feel a strong connection to place myself and find conveying place is important to my writing. In addition to the larger “city vs. country” settings, there are smaller places very important to the story. Some readers have commented that the grove, which Liddie retreats to, is almost like another character.
I enjoyed the process Liddie went through in her discovery of what she really wanted in life. It’s a timeless study of maturing from a child to a woman. Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.
I have so many, but here’s one. Liddie relishes life and keeps adding more to her plate. In the effort to juggle everything, she makes a serious mistake. She hopes her employer won’t notice, but of course she does and calls Liddie out on it. While Liddie is ashamed of how she initially tries to hide the problem, she stands up and takes responsibility. A real growth moment for her.
I related to that moment. You captured the feelings perfectly. I’ve been there so I was rooting for Liddie all the way. What is the best thing someone could say about this book?
I think the best thing someone could tell me is that they were touched by the characters and the story. That would mean they felt the story was well told, which was my goal in the first place. The second best thing is that they came away from the book knowing more about life in the early twentieth century.
You scored on both counts with me. The characters have stayed with me after finishing the book, and I learned a few things about the life my father (born in 1904) and my grandparents might have lived. I hope you’ll come back and visit when you publish your next novel.
Thanks for letting me share my stories with your readers.
You’re very welcome, Carol. I enjoyed getting to know you a little bit better, and I enjoyed reading Go Away Home.
Be sure to watch for Book Review Friday and my review of Carol’s historical novel, Go Away Home.
About Carol Bodensteiner – Carol is a writer who finds inspiration in the places, people, culture and history of the Midwest. After a successful career in public relations consulting, she turned to creative writing. She blogs about writing, her prairie, gardening, and whatever in life interests her at the moment. She published her memoir Growing Up Country in 2008. Go Away Home is her debut novel.
Links (Click below)
Welcome to Author Wednesday. Courtney Giardina stops by today to discuss her novel Tear Stained Beaches. The novel explores what happens when a marriage the ideal marriage suddenly isn’t. Courtney says that “Tear Stained Beaches, is the story of one woman’s strength to stand up for what she believes is best for her despite the thoughts and words of others. This novel gives women hope and courage to live the life they see fit for themselves.”
I’m so happy to welcome you today, Courtney. Your novel sounds fascinating. Let’s start with your writing life before we talk about your book. Do you have any writing rituals?
I always write at night. For some reason my creativity just doesn’t start flowing until 9pm or later. When that time comes I turn my music on to almost a whisper, open up my manuscript and begin to write.
That sounds like a very good ritual. Since I’m a writer myself, I’m always fascinated by other writers’ lives. What is your vision of yourself as a writer?
I love writing and always have. If I could continue to do so and keep gathering inspiration for many more books to come, I would be happy. I’ve met so many great authors and readers with just this one book, I’m excited to keep building relationships with people I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I’d also love to delve a little more into blogging as well to keep my writing up to speed.
I agree that the bonus of writing are the relationships formed with readers and writer. Tear Stained Beaches is your first novel, but you’re working on your second one. Are there common themes between the two books?
I’m just finishing up my second novel now–Holding on to Georgia. The official book trailer (click here to view) has been released and I’m gearing up for the cover reveal! I like to think that both of them have an overall message that readers can get out of it. It wouldn’t necessarily be the same for everyone, but I do want them to finish the book and be inspired by it. Carry it over to their everyday lives.
You’ve received a lot of reviews so far for Tear Stained Beaches, so what’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
One of the greatest sentiments I’ve received from reviewers is how much they could feel the emotions of Haylie throughout the novel. The fact that my writing could really pull them in like that it such a sweet compliment.
I know how gratifying that is when you know a reader has really connected with something you’ve put on the page. We all receive them, so let’s talk about the bad review. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving one?
Learn from it, but don’t let it get you down. Not everyone is going to like your writing style or your story. You don’t write for them, you write because you love to write and your audience appreciates it.
Excellent advice, Courtney. I love the title of this book. How did you choose Tear Stained Beaches for the title? Has it been the title from the very beginning?
I wish I knew how it came to me! I really wanted something different, something that would catch a reader’s attention immediately and still convey the meaning of the book. Since most of my main character’s soul searching is on the beach, I began focusing on that and then Tear Stained Beaches just popped into my head.
You mentioned you have a similar theme in both your novels. What is the specific message you’ve conveyed?
The overall message in this book is to always be true to yourself. We all have the strength and courage to do what it best for us, sometimes it just takes a little digging to find it.
You are right about that. Thank you for writing a novel that also provides inspiration. Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.
This book is quite emotional, but there is one scene in the book that made me laugh out loud while I was writing it. It’s when Haylie first meets Chase. Let’s just say, she didn’t quite make the best impression, but it was a head banging one.
That’s a good teaser. Tell us about your life away from the keyboard. What do you do during your down time?
I love to workout and find new ways to challenge myself. I’ve taken up many fitness classes here in Charlotte such as Pure Barre, bootcamp and dance classes. Right now I am a member of a boxing club, and I love to sign up for 5k races. My next challenge is going to be a Wipeout inspired 5k called Roc Race. I’m very excited!
Not only do you write inspirational novels, but you’re an inspiration in your personal life. If a movie was made about your success as a writer, who would play you?
Ironically enough it would be the same person who I would pick to play Haylie if Tear Stained Beaches was a movie. That would be Sophia Bush. I really adore not only her acting skills, but who she is as a person.
Thank you for stopping by today, Courtney. It’s been a real pleasure to get to know you, and I look forward to reading Tear Stained Beaches. Please stop back when the new novel is finished.
About Courtney Giardina: Courtney is a Rochester, New York, native who currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. After nine months of wearing out the delete button on the keyboard, Tear Stained Beaches was completed. She is currently working on her second novel. When she’s not writing, Courtney is an avid health and fitness lover who has currently taken up a love of boxing as a member of Title Boxing Club and loves trying out new healthy recipes from Pinterest.
Click on links below to find Courtney and Tear Stained Beaches.