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text 2018-02-15 19:20
How a poet became a spy book writer / Author Interview with Wes Britton + Sci-Fi Giveaway

 

Today we talk to Wesley Britton, the author of both fiction, and non-fiction books. What inspired him to change genres? Read our interview and enter our giveaway to win a copy of The Blind Alien

 

Enter to win The Blind Alien by Wesley Britton.

Win the book and publish your review of The Blind Alien on your BookLikes blog to receive another installment in the Beta-Earth Chronicles! 

Request your copy.

 

 

Tell us about how and why you started writing - it all began with non-fiction, books about spies …

 

Actually, I started writing long, long before that. Throughout the ‘70s and ’80s, I wrote several terrible novels no one will ever see. When I went to grad school in 1983, I began to get published in scholarly journals with literary analysis, book reviews, and essays which led to a long association with Salem Press. They published the MasterPlots books, Magill’s Book Reviews, all sorts of encyclopedias. I can’t remember all the topics I wrote about.

 

Then, throughout the ‘90s, I was a pretty decent poet, published in all manner of print and online periodicals. It wasn’t until 2001 or so when the spy books began to jell when I wanted to write something longer than an article or poem.

 

 

Were you inspired by any non-fiction writers or events?

 

Hmm, a toughey. I recall starting the spy books because I had been reading books on specific TV shows but realized nobody had explored the genre of TV spies as a whole. So I saw an opportunity no one else had.

 

Some of my scenes in the Beta-Earth books were inspired by other authors. There’s one fight scene in Blood of Balnakin greatly inspired by a similar scene in From Russia With Love. The opening scene of my A Throne for an Alien was inspired, in structure alone, by a passage in Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi. That’s something other authors might like to think about. The scene opens with a grand overhead view, then begins to narrow in scope, then ultimately focuses on one character in one location. “Cinematic,” one teacher once described the technique to me.

 

The Blood of Balnakin - The Beta Earth Chronicles: Book Two - Wesley BrittonFrom Russia With Love - Ian Fleming

A Throne for an Alien - The Beta Earth Chronicles: Book Four - Wesley BrittonMississippi Writings: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer/Life on the Mississippi/Adventures of Huckleberry Finn/Puddinhead Wilson (Library of America #5) - Mark Twain,Guy Cardwell

 

As I explain in my first blog post here at BookLikes, the structure for the narrators of the entire Beta-Earth Chronicles was inspired by the print edition of The Beatles Anthology. All oral histories where the points of view alternate between members of a rock group or whatever were on my mind as well.

I can’t remember all the research I did and all the tidbits I pulled from my reading. For example, as I was setting my story on a world dominated by women, I thought it a good idea to read up on the Amazons. I got a few details from that research.

 

 

Were you happy with how your first books were received?

 

Ah, no, at least in terms of sales. The spy books, especially Spy Television, were very well received by reviewers, spy experts, fans, TV insiders, and other writers who wrote similar books. I got invited to appear on a number of radio shows, appeared several times at the International Spy Museum, and gave presentations at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention. Several intriguing side-projects came my way that were interesting but never bore fruit due to the sad deaths of two potential collaborators.

 

At the same time, I realized the three spy books from Praeger Publishers weren’t going to get a huge response in terms of my pocketbook. That was because the press prices their books so high. They expect their main readership is libraries who can pay the big hardcover bucks. I didn’t take that too hard after I heard a seminar where we were taught to consider non-fiction books as “calling cards” that should lead to other, more lucrative efforts.  This lead to my wife concluding that I’m “the man known by many, paid by few.”

 

This also led to my The Encyclopedia of TV Spies published by BearManor Media, a book priced for the general reader. It remains my ongoing best-seller.

 

I’m still waiting for The Blind Alien and the other Beta-Earth books to get a real foothold and break-out in a more than glutted market.

 

The Encyclopedia of TV Spies - Wesley BrittonThe Blind Alien. The Beta Earth Chronicles, Book One - Wesley Britton

 

 

Do you plan on writing more non-fiction? If not, why not?

 

Actually, yes. I have a thumb-drive full of all the audio interviews I did when I co-hosted online radio’s “Dave White Presents.” I used to interview celebrities from Jacki De Shannon to Ed Asner to Patty Duke to Walter Koenig to June Lockhart to Ron Dante to Ben E. King to Dave Mason to John Mayall . . . What I am hunting is usable software that I can use to convert audio interviews into text. When that happens, I expect a series of interview collections to result.

 

 

What inspired you to change genres? Science fiction seems as far away from non-fiction as you can possibly get!

 

I can recall several influences, like not wanting to do more meticulous research, but, most importantly, the stories just came to me. I’ve often said the characters created themselves.

 

At first, I didn’t intend to write anything down thinking I had no gift for writing fiction. But I changed my mind. I do that a lot.

 

Throw in the fact that I finally got sick of spies. Tired of reading about them, writing about them, all that. I like to do different things.

 

 

 

How did you find this new genre when you started your first sci-fi book? Was it easier, more difficult? More or less creative? More or less of a challenge?

 

I’ve been reading all sorts of genres all my life, including sci-fi. I will say writing fiction was, for me, a much greater challenge than the non-fiction books (and many articles as well.) Writing non-fiction books like I did was mostly to compile information, synthesize it, and organize it. Fiction is entirely mine. Much, much more challenging.

 

 

Do you read a lot of sci-fi and who is an inspiration (if you have one)?

 

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been reading sci-fi along with spy thrillers and all the literature you’d expect a Ph.D. in American literature would have read. I would say I was absolutely blown away by Frank Herbert’s Dune books, but I wouldn’t call him an inspiration. I’d be scared to even try to emulate what he did. Or Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series. All the classics.

 

Dune - Frank HerbertTales Of Riverworld - Philip José Farmer

 

But, to be honest, I can’t think of any authors or books remotely like mine. Frankly, I think that’s a good thing if you value originality and the unexpected.

 

 

There are now six books in the Beta-Earth Chronicles series. Are you working on book seven? How many will there be?

 

Yes, I’m presently working on book 7. At one time, I thought the first four books would be all there was as that was the vision I had in my head. Well, I must admit I left book 4 with a huge cliff-hanger at the end. I’m not sure what kicked book 5, The Third Earth, into gear. I guess I felt I wasn’t done with those characters yet.

 

Book 6, Return to Alpha, started when an editor tossed me a few starting points. He thought I should write a Romeo and Juliet story, set up a new Adam and Eve on our future earth, and I went from there with an entirely new cast of characters. Again, I thought that one would be the end.

 

Then, just a month or so ago, a friend told me I needed to start writing again. I don’t think she thought I’d carry on with the Beta-Earth stories, but a story started to develop anyway. I’m often astonished at where my strange ideas come from.

 

The Blind Alien. The Beta Earth Chronicles, Book One - Wesley BrittonThe Blood of Balnakin - The Beta Earth Chronicles: Book Two - Wesley BrittonWhen War Returns — The Beta Earth Chronicles: Book Three - Wesley Britton

A Throne for an Alien - The Beta Earth Chronicles: Book Four - Wesley BrittonThe Third Earth - Wesley BrittonReturn to Alpha The Beta-Earth Chronicles: Book Six - Wesley Britton

The Beta-Earth Chronicles series

 

 

Do you think authors need to plan a series ahead of time, maybe even when they start writing the first book?

 

I wouldn’t dare give authors such advice knowing we all have different wells to draw from and different roads to travel. I would say it worked for me to have the first four books mapped out in my mind so I knew, in general, where things were going to go. Lots of changes and revisions, revisions, and revisions happened along the way, but the framework was there.

 

 

What are your plans as a writer? How far ahead do you think and plan?

 

As I said, I hope I can get the software for the audio interview books to open that floodgate.  I have to admit, I’m pretty much tapped out for the Beta-Earth books. Book 7 is going to be a long, drawn out process as I have no idea where it’s going. I know where it should go, but I don’t have the story to take us from the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest to the ultimate bridges connecting up all the earths in the multi-verse. Not yet.

 

Follow Wesley Britton's blog on BookLikes: 

http://wesleyabritton.booklikes.com/

 

Wesley Britton's books (click the cover to add the book to your bookshelf): 

 

The Blind Alien. The Beta Earth Chronicles, Book One - Wesley BrittonThe Third Earth - Wesley BrittonWhen War Returns — The Beta Earth Chronicles: Book Three - Wesley BrittonOnscreen and Undercover: The Ultimate Book of Movie Espionage - Wesley BrittonThe Encyclopedia of TV Spies - Wesley BrittonA Throne for an Alien - The Beta Earth Chronicles: Book Four - Wesley BrittonThe Beta Earth Chronicles: The Complete 6 Book Set - Wesley BrittonSpy Television - Wesley BrittonThe Blood of Balnakin - The Beta Earth Chronicles: Book Two - Wesley BrittonReturn to Alpha The Beta-Earth Chronicles: Book Six - Wesley BrittonBeyond Bond: Spies in Fiction and Film - Wesley Britton

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text 2018-02-13 17:02
Interview with Rachel Jordan + Paranormal Mystery Giveaway

Rachel Jordan is about to release her debut novel, The Haunting of Dove Cote House, a paranormal mystery (launching February 16!). She agreed to talk to BookLikes and tell us about her lifelong passion for writing, the path that led her to self-publishing, and her writing plans for the future.

 

Paranormal mystery giveaway

Feb. 13 - Feb. 28, 2018

Read more & request a free copy ->

 

Tell us a few words about yourself - whatever you want to share about your personal and professional life, but also why you decided to become a writer.

 

I live in the UK, the West Midlands to be exact. I was born in Kent and lived in various parts of the county until moving here nearly six years ago to be with my late partner. I have loved writing for as long as I can remember, and from an early age I loved writing short stories. I did some freelance journalism for a while but when my personal circumstances changed I had to quit. Writing is something I loved and I guess I always knew I had at least one book inside me.

 

 

How did you start writing?

 

As I said previously, writing seems to be part of my life since I was small. I began writing short stories when I was in primary school, and I always excelled at both English Language and Literature. I'm one of those people who believe that if you have a book inside you, then you need a way to get it out there so others can read it. Admittedly in my case it's taken me to the age of 50, but I have finally achieved my lifelong dream.

 

 

What are you writing habits? How often do you write, and how long at one time?

 

My writing habits have varied while l writing The Haunting of Dove Cote House. When I began work on it I made sure I wrote at least one chapter a day to keep up the momentum. Then, as I progressed with the story, I was working on it from early morning to late afternoon. In the end I was working on it pretty much all day. I was determined that not a day went by unless I spent some time working on it.  I'm currently taking a short break from writing, but I must admit I have already made a start of my second book, and I will be throwing myself into writing that shortly.

 

 

Do you have plans as to how often you will write and publish new books, in a given time frame (like per year)?

 

I would like to try to write and publish at least one book a year. If I can do two a year I'll be pleased, but I don't want to put myself under any undue pressure and stop enjoying the writing process. If all goes well with this new book I'm working on I'm hoping to release it later this year, early next at the latest.

 

 

Why did you decide to self-publish? Did you approach publishers first, or did you start off with the idea of self-publishing from the very beginning?

 

I knew that if I went to an established publisher the chances of getting the book out would be remote. I looked at some of the "vanity publishers", but to me they were asking for way too much money. Eventually, I spoke to a friend who is an editor and she suggested looking into self-publishing, as she knew someone who had taken that route. I looked around and found a self-publishing company that resonated with me and I went for it.

 

 

Tell us about the road a self-published author needs to embark upon. Is it a difficult road to travel?

 

I personally think self-publishing is as hard or as easy as the writer concerned makes it to be. If you have enough money to pay for "vanity publishing”, then all means take that route.

 

I would suggest if you really want to get your book(s) out there look around and see if a company catches your eye, as I did. If you can find someone who publishes for free and then takes their fee from your book sales then that is probably your best option, if money is a problem. What you also need to remember is that you need to pay for a book cover, and the prices vary from company to company. I've used a company recommended by my self-publishing company, and I'm thrilled with the cover for The Haunting of Dove Cote House. You also need to consider getting your book into as many retail channels as possible. Some companies only give you three or four places to distribute, while others will place them widely.

 

 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a writer - so, to someone like you the person you were, maybe a year ago?

 

I would say to aspiring writers: make sure you get your book written, and while you are doing that look around to see which publishing option is right with you. Bear in mind what I said about how you can make it as easy or as hard, and this I guess this depends on your financial circumstances. Look for people who will help promote you and your work. Always remember that social media is important and one of the best ways to create a buzz about your book. But most of all never give up on your dream of seeing your book in print, because I believe that right now it's easier to get your book out there then it ever was previously.

 

 

Your first book is a paranormal mystery if I am correct - is this your favorite genre? What do you like to read?

 

I do enjoy reading paranormal books, but I'm the sort of person that will just find a book and if it grabs me I'll read it. When I'm not writing you'll find me sitting down with my Kindle, my nose stuck in a book. I think the only exception to my reading rule is full-on romance novels. No disrespect to those who write or read them but it's a genre I've never liked reading.

 

 

 

Who are your favorite authors and have they inspired you in any way?

 

Where do I start with favourite authors? Amy Cross, Neil Spring, Shani Struthers to name just a few. I also have a book blog and through that I'm getting to find out about some great authors I would never have heard of otherwise. I think that each author has inspired me in their own way to write my stories and just write them as me. I don't try and create a specific writing style, I just write naturally I guess.

 

 

Please tell us about your first book - I think you plan to write a whole series?

 

The Haunting of Dove Cote House - Rachel JordanThe Haunting of Dove Cote House is the first book to feature Caitlin Fletcher. She returns to her family home following the death of her father, but in doing so her whole life is turned upside down. Slowly she remembers her past living at Dove Cote and the spirit that was so attached to her. With the spirit suddenly reappearing on her return, Cat knows she has to get rid of this ghost for once and for all if she possibly can. Joining her on her quest is her husband that she has separated from, her best friend from childhood, a priest, and an excommunicated exorcist. Slowly Cat pieces together Dove Cote's past, and realises that a second spirit who haunts the property is in fact related to her, but as the story of the house's occupants unravels Cat is faced with something far more evil than she could have imagined

 

 

Is the series already planned and “written” in your mind?

 

I currently have another Cat Fletcher ParaInvestigations books planned. As I said, I have already begun work on the second and have the cover for the third ready. Some of the books are locked in my brain if you like, and I have a good idea of their plots. Others are at the moment just brief outlines, which I am sure I will fill in over time.

 

 

What would you like to say to your readers? What do they need to know about you and your first book?

 

What isn't widely known right now is that parts of The Haunting of Dove Cote House are based on truth, although the majority of it is fiction. Dove Cote is based on a much smaller house with a different name that I lived in until we moved to be closer to my secondary school.

 

If you like paranormal mysteries, horror and occult novels, then please give the book a try. I know it may not be to everyone's taste, but I have finally achieved my lifelong dream of being a published author, and I truly hope that people will enjoy it and carry on reading the series over time.

 

 

Follow Rachel Jordan on BookLikes: http://racheljordan.booklikes.com/

 

 

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text 2018-01-29 14:20
Food in Fiction: A Writer’s Delicious Story Device

 

Waring! A mouth watering post. 

 

-- A guest post by Evy Journey --

 

 

We can’t live without it. Yet sometimes, it can be poison.

 

When we gather together to celebrate or even commiserate, we usually offer food and/or drink. Even at funerals. On first dates, we’re likely to take our potential amour to dinner or, at least, meet her for coffee or a drink. Sometimes we binge on food to calm our nerves.

 

We are what we eat. So, when Evy Journey writes novels, she includes food/eating scenes.

 

She says they’re a delicious way to help define mood or setting, as well as activity. Even character. They can also draw readers in emotionally. Plus, she loves writing cooking and dining scenes.  

 

For instance, in Hello My Love, Book 1 of her trilogy, Between Two Worlds, the main characters reconcile at an Indian restaurant where they order tandoori lamb and mango lassi. Choosing an ethnic eatery offers a glimpse into their personalities—open and exposed to things exotic or often unfamiliar to Americans. It also serves to subtly situate where the story happens (a fairly cosmopolitan city). Three of Evy’s five novels are set in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

Hello, My Love! (aka: A Modern Love Story) (Between Two Worlds Book 1) - Evy JourneyHello, Agnieszka! (Between Two Worlds Book 2) - Evy JourneyWelcome, Reluctant Stranger (Between Two Worlds Book 3) - E Journey

Between Two Worlds series

 

There’s always a good cook in her stories, including a mother who only prepares Polish dishes in Hello Agnieszka (BTW, Book 2) and the computer nerd hero of Welcome Reluctant Stranger (BTW Book 3). So when she ramps up food talk in her latest novel Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies - Evy JourneySugar and Spice and All Those Lies, it seems natural and inevitableGina, the heroine, cooks at a Michelin-starred restaurant catering to a rich and privileged clientele.

 

Evy warns, though, that S&S&ATL uses cooking and food as a device to show how the heroine grows. In that sense, food isn’t really the focus of the story although there are ample references to it.

 

Rather, the story shows us how food affects those who make them and those who consume them. It’s more about the cook’s passion for creating dishes that give pleasure (and life). And more about how we relate to food than how it makes us salivate, lick our fingers, tease our taste buds, or what satisfies our cravings.

 

REQUEST->

 

Has she cooked any of the dishes in her latest book?

 

Yes, she has. When she mentions a dish in a scene, it’s one she’s familiar with, either from having eaten it or cooked it.

 

Evy often uses this teaser to S&S&atL:

Chanterelles Garnished with Cream and Mayhem.

She says it captures both the culinary and crime aspects of the novel.

 

Has she made the chanterelles dish?

 

Many times, and without using a recipe. For her, when it comes to savory dishes, recipes are merely guides. She claims to be a use-what-you have, taste-as-you-go adventurous foodie. Below she’ll tell you how she prepares it.

 

 

It’s a different story when it comes to baking. She does follow recipes. To the letter when she first tries it. Then, she’s likely to tweak it when she makes the recipe again.

In the book, Gina’s mother is the daughter of a murdered French chef. She inherited her father’s passion for cooking and passes it on to Gina. In one scene, she serves her guests gougère and fig tart with almond cream.

 

Evy has made both dishes a few times. She first tasted fig tart with almond cream in Paris and has been hooked on it ever since. She shares her recipes below, adapted from one she uses for Pear Tart.

 

 

Making Chanterelles in Cream Sauce

 

Evy  talks about how to make this dish in a An adventurous Foodie in Paris: A Simple Plate of Chanterelles. The only caveat she has is to use more chanterelles than onions. :

 

A pound of girolles (common French word for chanterelles) goes a long way in both quantity and taste; and they are easy and fast to cook—even away from home. Sauté some sliced onions or shallots in oil or butter until soft, dump the sliced girolles in, splash that leftover white wine, salt and pepper to taste, cook at high heat until soft and nearly dry, about 5 minutes. Before serving and with the heat still on, spoon some crème fraîche (or good sour cream) into the mix. If you have it and like it, sprinkle a little tarragon, and you’re all set. Go vegetarian and place a sunny-side up or poached egg on top and you will feel like you’re eating at a king’s table. For meat eaters, we’ve served this with sausages from a charcuterie. All good on top of couscous or just savor it with a crusty baguette.

 

 

A Couple of Pastries

 

Alain Ducasse’s Gougères  Recipe

Gougères are cream puffs with cheese. You don’t need to fill them.

 

The traditional recipe uses gruyere but Evy has substituted other kinds of cheeses and increased the quantity as much as half a cup more. You can make a lot of these and freeze some to serve another time. They last months in the freezer.

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup milk

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

Large pinch of coarse salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

3 1/2 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling

Freshly ground pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg

How to Make It

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms; stir over low heat until it dries out and pulls away from the pan, about 2 minutes.

Step 2:  Scrape the dough into a bowl; let cool for 1 minute. Beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly between each one. Add the cheese and a pinch each of pepper and nutmeg.

Step 3:  Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze. Reheat in a 350° oven until piping hot.

 

Notes

When making the choux pastry, it is important to be sure that each egg is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next. Don't worry if the batter separates and looks curdled at first. Keep beating, and it will come together nicely.

If you use 1½ cups cheese, reduce butter to 6 tablespoons.

 

Fig Tart in Almond Cream

Evy loves anything in almond cream. This is a versatile recipe. You can substitute other fruit.

You can use figs fresh, but you may need to lightly stew others like pears (very good in almond cream).

 

Tart Shell

2 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup ground almonds

11/4 cups flour

6 tbsp butter

1 pinch salt

1 egg

1 tbsp sour cream (or more as needed)

 

Evy makes the tart dough the easy, lazy way: Throw the first five ingredients into a food processor and whirl until the butter is well incorporated. Then, add the egg and sour cream (or lemon juice)  and whirl again until you have a coherent mass. The sour cream helps tenderize the tart shell. Chill.

Use your own techniques if a food processor doesn’t do it for you.

 

Almond Cream Filling

6 tbsp butter, softened

2 large eggs

1 cup almond powder

4 tablespoons cane sugar

Figs (cut in half and enough to line the tart shell.

Almond extract or vanilla

Apricot jam to brush over the figs when the tart is baked (0ptional).

For the almond cream, whisk together or whirl in a food processor sugar, butter, and almonds until well mixed. Mix in the the eggs one by one.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface and place it in a tart shell.

Spread the almond cream on the bottom of the dough. Place fig halves on top of the almond cream.

Bake for 30 minutes on 350F. Cool before cutting into wedges.

Yum!

 

Follow Eve Journey's blog on BookLikes: 

http://evictoriajourney.booklikes.com/

 

Don't miss our interview with Evy and win Sugar and Spice and all Those Lies!

 

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text 2018-01-24 14:55
Interview with kids and YA author Karl Beckstrand + Kid Lit Giveaway

International Publisher and Presenter Karl Beckstrand is the bestselling and award-winning author of 19 multicultural/multilingual books and more than 50 e-book titles (reviews by Kirkus, School Library Journal, The Horn Book’s blog, ForeWord Reviews). Raised in San Jose, CA (he knows the secret to peeling avocados), he has a B.A. in journalism from BYU, an M.A. in international relations from APU, and a broadcast & film certificate from Film A. Academy. Since 2004 he has run Premio Publishing. His survival western, To Swallow the Earth, won a 2016 International Book Award.

 

Karl has also offered 50 ebooks of Muffy & Valor as a giveaway for our BookLikes community! The book ties in with the Multicultural Children's Book Day celebrated on January 27.

 

Read the interview to learn more about Karl and why his books for children are so diverse and multicultural!

 

 

The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living - Karl Beckstrand, Yaniv CahouaYour newest book The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living is on work and careers for young people?

 

Yes. I hope it helps bridge the gap between what kids learn in school and what they need to know and do to succeed in life. Vermont’s Office of Treasurer has selected it as part of their primary school financial literacy curriculum.

 

What draws you to this genre?

 

Seeing a lack of kids’ curriculum on how money is made — how to earn a living. I used to be a recruiter in Silicon Valley; today’s graduates don't seem as prepared for work as their parents. Many young people don’t know that failure is normal and that it can nourish future success.

 

Please describe what the story is about in one sentence.

 

A child with a knack for solving problems learns that helping some hungry fish — who can’t pay him — facilitates his finding a treasure.

 

What was the time frame for writing your last book? Did you need a lot of time?

 

Only a few days. Illustration is the real work! — and I had to do some on this book.

 

Do you aim for a set amount of words or pages per day?

 

No (but I spend hours on books and marketing every day). It’s just what I do.

 

How much research do you do?

 

I did more for this book than a typical picture book. I had to organize and present valuable tips and business ideas I’ve learned over the years.

 

Most of your books have characters of color, is that intentional?

 

Yes, I grew up in a very diverse part of California, so it’s unnatural for me when I see a kid’s book where the characters are all one race. It doesn’t reflect the real world that I’m used to. I participate in Multicultural Children’s Book Day each year on January 27.

 

 

 

What is the easiest thing about writing?

 

Ideas that ambush me. They don’t leave me alone until I get them written out correctly.

 

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

 

In college (when I should have been doing my homework) I would get ideas and scribble them on scraps of paper. I thought I’d try to get published when I was old and retired, but I got lucky at a younger age.

 

What are your thoughts on good and bad reviews?

 

Every review can be helpful. Even bad ones contribute to visibility — and they offer great feedback. Still, I’ve learned what kinds of feedback to embrace and what to ignore.

 

Which do you prefer: pen or computer? And how do you stay organized (any methods, tools you use)?

 

I usually write ideas on scraps of paper in odd moments and places, then I write out the story on my laptop.

 

How do you relax?

 

Volleyball, music, and films are my favorites. I’m always reading something — though I’m not as big a book reader as other authors I know. I read articles, journals, and mostly non-fiction.

 

What were your biggest learning experiences or surprises throughout the publishing process?

 

When my first publisher died (the day they were to print my first book) I had to learn the publishing and marketing business. I’ve done a lot of self-publishing since then.

 

Giveaway: Jan. 24 - Feb. 7, 2018

 Request this lovely e-book

 

What would you have done differently if you could do it again?

 

I would have sought more reviews for my early titles. These really affect sales.

 

Can you tell us something personal about you that people may be surprised to know?

 

Yes! No matter how many achievements I have, I struggle with self-doubt, fears, and (at the same time) self-absorption!

 

What’s next? What are you working on at the moment?

 

I’m about to illustrate a couple of my non-fiction stories of immigrant kids. I’m also about to publish another bilingual (Spanish-English) picture book that teaches colors in both languages.

 

Do you re-read books? One book that you would read again and again?

 

I’m always re-reading the scriptures. I think there are many books out there that give you new insights the more you read them.

 

Who were you influenced by, and who are some of your favorite authors?

 

I love history, so anything by David McCoullugh is ideal. Other authors I love: Tolkien, Harper Lee, C.S. Lewis, Clancy, Grisham, Shel Silverstein

 

What book are you reading at present?

 

Major Problems in American Colonial History by Karen Kupperman.

 

Last question: what is the best piece of writing advice we haven’t discussed yet?

 

Write every day and join a writer’s group. You get great feedback from people other than family and friends — plus it is a great way to network (find editors, readers, agents, publicists, etc.).

 

 

Follow Karl Beckstrand on BookLikes: 

http://karlb.booklikes.com/

 

 

Karl Beckstrand's books:

Muffy & Valor: A True Story - Karl Beckstrand, Brandon RodriguezA Sky So Big - Karl Beckstrand, Ransom A. WilcoxThe Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living - Karl Beckstrand, Yaniv CahouaBad Bananas: A Story Cookbook for Kids - Karl Beckstrand, Jeff FaerberWhy Juan Can't Sleep: A Mystery? - Karl Beckstrand, Luis F SanzButterfly Blink: A Book Without Words (Stories Without Words 2) - Karl Beckstrand

 

Polar Bear Bowler: A Story Without Words - Karl Beckstrand, Ashley SanbornSounds in the House: A Mystery - Karl BeckstrandShe Doesn't Want the Worms! Ella no quiere los gusanos: A Mystery (in English and Spanish) - Karl Beckstrand, David Hollenbach

and more (click to visit the author page)

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text 2018-01-16 12:47
Evy Journey Interview + "Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies" Giveaway

 

Evy Journey is the author of several novels, most recently Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies, published in late November 2017. Read our BookLikes interview and get to know the author!

 

Evy has been very generous to BookLikes readers and offered as many as TWENTY (!!) ebooks of her newest book Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies.

 

Enter our giveaway contest to win!

 

Giveaway: Jan. 16 - Feb. 16, 2018 

Enter to win a unique food romance mystery!

Request an e-book

 

Let's start with a few questions about writing itself, and your books: I've noticed that you’ve published many books so far. How often do you write and how long at one time? What does your writing schedule look like, if you have one?


I engage with words a lot. If I’m not writing, I read. I think reading is essential to a writer. When I’m working on a novel, I write two or three hours in the morning and three more at night, usually after 10 p.m. I’m hooked on writing not just novels or short stories, but blog posts/articles on art, travel, and food (https://eveonalimb2.com) and book reviews (https://margaretofthenorth.wordpress.com). I try to post once a month on my three blogs including my author website (https://www.evyjourney.com).

 


Do you work on several books at once, or do you write them one by one? For example, did you write the Between Two Worlds books one at a time?


I’m not that organized in my novel writing. I wrote Hello, My Love! (#1) initially with no intention of producing a series.  But then, I got intrigued by the mother of Elise, the book’s heroine. That’s how Hello, Agnieszka! (#2) came about. After that, I thought I should write the story of Elise’s brother Justin. I wanted to make it an interracial pairing because that happens a lot where I live. So I created Leilani in Book 3

 

Hello, My Love! (aka: A Modern Love Story) (Between Two Worlds Book 1) - Evy JourneyHello, Agnieszka! (Between Two Worlds Book 2) - E. JourneyWelcome, Reluctant Stranger (Between Two Worlds Book 3) - E Journey

Between Two Worlds series


I wrote my latest novel after leaving a French “deli” in our area where you can get gourmet food in vacuum-sealed bags. It resurrected my delight in Babette’s Feast, a wonderful movie I saw years ago. From there, the characters and the story just took off. I just hope the French guy who owns the “deli” doesn’t find out I murder him in my book!


I need to be inspired to invest the serious amount of energy, time, and imagination to write long fiction.

 


Do you have all the stories and characters planned out from the beginning and then just write them, or do they come to you as you finish one book and start the next?


I do have characters worked out well in my mind when I start a novel. The plot, not so much. My first draft is usually pretty fluid.


Characterization drives the plot quite a lot; it can dictate or at least help shape what happens in scenes that move the plot along. But while those scenes advance the story, they also present multiple facets of a character that can compel me to make changes in my original conception of the character.

 


Tell us about your characters. Are they completely fictional, or are you inspired by people and stories you know? For example, Agnieszka, the character in the second installment of the Between Two Worlds series, has a Polish name and heritage. Did you know someone like her, or did you create her story from scratch?


Agnieszka is not based on a specific person, but she’s inspired by the many stories my husband told me. He is second generation Polish American and lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Agnieszka’s story is set. So, his memories of relatives and his lasting impressions of Pittsburgh where a lot of Polish families settled enriched the novel.

 

Elise in Book 1 was born out of a “what if” question—what would Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) be like if she had grown up in the 21st century? The other two heroines (Leilani and Gina) are mostly made up but, of course, one can never really get away from what one knows., For instance, I personally know people who went through the unsettling experience Leilani goes through when, as a child, she flees her country of birth.

 

 

Do you have writing goals - as in a certain number of books to publish per year, or in total?


No goals although I try to finish one book a year. You can say I go with my groove. I’m lucky in a way because I’m not in this game for the money. But I do want readers and I try to write stories that appeal to a specific niche. My particular conceit is I write love stories for the thoughtful woman and that rare sensitive, thoughtful man.

 


Who designs your book covers? Are you very involved in choosing the covers, and, if so, how involved?


Covers for my latest book and the book series were all done by book cover designers who always ask for the author’s input. I did covers for my first novel and my short story collection. I have some art background. I started sketching as a kid, went to art classes, and now I paint and do digital art.

 


Let's move away from your books and talk about literature and reading in general. Who are your favorite writers, who do you admire, look up to? Any contemporary writers you are fond of? Any favorite books?


I’ve always had eclectic tastes although I’ve never been big on science fiction, horror or paranormal. I’m seduced by beautiful prose like those of Evelyn Waugh or G.K. Chesterton or Robert Hughes (art critic/writer/historian). As a teen, I devoured both Dostoevsky and Jane Austen.


I still love the classics but my current #1 book is Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See. Great story, lyrical prose. I also loved Chitra Divakaruni’s Palace of Illusions based on the Indian epic Mahabharata. For similar reasons. When it comes to romance or women’s fiction, Ms. Austen continues to be my favorite.

 

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel - Anthony DoerrThe Palace of Illusions: A Novel - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni


To sum up this interview, please tell us a little about yourself. You did not start out as a writer, you gradually took up writing as a regular hobby, or do you see it as a job? Are you happier and do you feel more fulfilled as a person now that you started doing what you love and dreamed of in the past?


I didn’t start out as a fiction writer except in those occasional stories or beginnings of a few I wrote ages ago, stashed away, and lost in the many moves I’ve made. Or short stories I wrote for the high school paper. But my professional jobs involved a great deal of writing—research proposals, research reports, rehashing of research studies both mine and those of others for the consumption of “lay people.” Add to those grad school papers, a master’s thesis and a dissertation. So, no, I didn’t take up writing as a regular hobby. I’ve been doing it a long while and I got paid to do it in jobs after grad school. I also got paid to critique or evaluate the content of what other people wrote.


Do I feel more fulfilled now writing fiction? It’s a different kind of writing from what I used to do, which was grounded in facts, analysis, drawing of conclusions or recommendations, and which often followed a more rigid structure and its own special lingo. Fiction requires much more imagination, gives you much more leeway. In some ways, it’s scarier because there are no must-follow rules. But it’s freeing. When you create a character and a fictional story, you have a lot more control. And yet, you also have to be open to circumstance, to have the courage or imagination to veer away from your original story because of how characters or scenes develop. That’s what makes fiction writing occasionally surprising and exciting. I love it.


But fictional or factual, writing is work. Not a job necessarily, but work.

 

 

Follow Evy Journey's blog on BookLikes: http://evictoriajourney.booklikes.com/blog

 

 

Evy Journey's books on BookLikes (click the cover to add the books to your bookshelf):

 

Hello, My Love! (aka: A Modern Love Story) (Between Two Worlds Book 1) - Evy JourneyHello, Agnieszka! (Between Two Worlds Book 2) - E. JourneyWelcome, Reluctant Stranger (Between Two Worlds Book 3) - E Journey

Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies - Evy JourneyBrief Encounters with Solitary Souls: Two Paris Tales + Three - Evy JourneyMargaret of the North - E. Journey

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