War and Peace

At any period of your life, did your extended family have big “get-togethers” around
Independence Day? is our question of the week.

As everyone should know by now, I grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs. The Fourth of July was a big deal when I was a kid.

When I was little, and we lived in an apartment in Maryland. My father, mother, brother, sister and I would go to a big park and watch major firework displays. When I was just a bit older, we moved to a house on the Virginia side of the Potomac. We’d go with our father to pop-up firework stands and buy all kinds of fireworks, fountains, spinners, sparklers, Roman candles, you name it. They were inexpensive and although he was normally tight-fisted, Dad would indulge for holidays, and most of our neighbors did the same.

We’d even start early with ‘snakes’, those cubes of compressed carbon which you light and incredibly long, curling snake-like cylinders of ash slowly grow from them. It was my mother’s appeasement of our excitement and the wait for the sky to become dark enough to set off the real fireworks. I still love those snake-things! I think it still evokes my youthful anticipation of something bigger later to come.

When my nieces were small, we’d take them to big firework displays, much like those we attended when I was little. The one year we did our own again in a big way was on the Bicentennial. We have Super 8 films of that night of. We all went nuts making a red, white and blue feast, too.

When my sons were young, we went to big displays because Colorado was not fond of personal fireworks. We had good times, even though on one year an automatic sprinkler system went off and drenched us along with many of the families. At least the weather was hot and we all laughed it off.

Fast-forward a number of years to all of the family moving to Kentucky. My oldest niece and her husband would take huge amounts of fireworks, (large and small), to my sister’s place outside of town. We’d gather and have a big cook-out with many different side dishes and desserts. We’d bring in friends, and sometimes even extended family would travel in.

Alas, those days have gone.

Everyone is scattered. My sons are in and out of town; the niece and her husband work longer hours now, and older members of the family are now gone or are unwell. The grandkids are with their other sides of the family more often than not.
I always hope that they are creating memories as good as the ones that I have.

We’ll celebrate, but quietly.
There is a lot to be said for quiet!

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Posted in big plans, childhood, Family, fourth of July, Holiday, memories, Tonette Joyce, traditions, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Big Holiday Bash?

How Has My Family Celebrated July Fourth

By Jeff Salter

Eleven of my twelve school years were spent in the wonderful small town of Covington LA. From those otherwise memorable formative years, I don’t recall any significant family gatherings around the Fourth of July. Oh, sure, my brother and I – and later my buddies and I – would save up our meager earnings (from redeeming discarded beverage bottles) and buy as many fireworks as we could afford. And we loved blowing them up… and firing the rockets and Roman candles. Even the sparklers and “black snakes”. Our favorites, of course, were the cherry bombs and M-80s — both of which had already been outlawed by the time I went to college.

But I digress.

My point was that we observed (and looked forward to) the Independence Day holiday, but I don’t recall going anywhere to watch anyone ELSE – like a city agency, for instance – shooting off fireworks. And I don’t recall large gatherings of relatives… other than one time when we spent the night at my Aunt Luna’s and Uncle Edgar’s small apartment, hardly a block off the Gulf beach in Biloxi MS. [People nearby were shooting off fireworks until very late and kept me from falling asleep.]

My Wife’s Family

The experience of my wife’s family, however, was nearly opposite. Her dad was one of seven children and each of them had at least two kids. Nearly every July that my wife can remember involved her family traveling from LA to Somerset KY to hook up with the uncles, aunts, and cousins from Cincinnati (and elsewhere)… all of whom gravitated to the Possum Trot farm house where Grandma Williams lived. No doubt the calendar (and work schedules) affected travel plans, but many of those visits, I gather, included Independence Day.

Williams-siblings

Charles Williams (right, rear) — my wife’s dad — with all six of his Possum Trot siblings and their mom (left, front) in 1978.

Among those seven families, there were 27 first cousins born — and each July, a goodly portion of them showed up from thither and yon. I’ve met most of those cousins and don’t recall hearing much about fireworks. What they do tell are stories about the fields and woods of the 25 acre ancestral farm… and, of course, the graveyard created in 1863. They tell about the kid cousins getting into trouble themselves… and occasionally getting each other into trouble. They talk about swimming and boating in Lake Cumberland, wading and splashing in Clifty Creek, visits to Cumberland Falls, and hiking to Yahoo Falls… and (after all the exertion) eating cold watermelon that one of the uncles had selected just for that occasion.

Some of the adults slept over at the homes of local siblings… while some must have tried to find empty beds inside the farmhouse. The kids old enough to do so sometimes camped out in tents in the front yard…. others collapsed onto pallets inside. My wife even recalls a time when five girl cousins were in one double bed and four boy cousins were in the other double bed in that same room. She vows not a wink of sleep was possible because everybody giggled all night!

There was a huge spread of ages – some 36 years – among those 26 surviving cousins — the oldest probably seemed more the age of typical aunts or uncles… compared to the youngest. So, it’s logical the activities and interests of seven cousins born before and during WW2 would have been vastly different than those of the youngest (born in 1968). But the big equalizer was that Possum Trot was their home turf and it seemed perfectly natural for as many who could… to gravitate back here each year, during those hot days of early July.

Over the years, of course, work obligations – and plain old geography – often kept some of the uncles, aunts, and cousins away… but none were ever forgotten.

And some of those cousins never quite outgrew the times – decades previously – when they were kids playing on the farm. During one July family reunion in the 1990s, Denise recalls two cousins, at that time in their fifties, squirting each other with water guns.

As those 26 cousins grew, and married, and had their own kids, an entirely new generation of youngsters came to know and love Possum Trot… and formed their own memories of place and family.

Question

What about YOU? Did your family ever have big get-togethers around early July?

[JLS # 390]

 

 

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Happy Fourth of July

elaine 's picture

Happy Birthday, America, and Happy Fourth of July to all of you. My name is Elaine Cantrell, and I’m your new Wednesday fox. I was born and raised in South Carolina.  I hold a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and am a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators.  I’m also a member of Romance Writers of America.  My first novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Press. I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you.

How are you celebrating the Fourth? I know lots of people go to public celebrations and watch fireworks, but when I was a child my family always did it another way.

About twelve miles from my home, there’s a state park that was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. It’s a nice little place. They have a pretty, sandy swimming area, refreshments, a bath house, picnic tables, a nature center, boat rentals, and several nice hiking trails. One of the trails is extremely pretty. It has a little waterfall that creates a pool in the creek, which eventually is dammed up to make the lake. I love to sit there and watch kids jump in the cold water to play.

My extended family and I have been going to the park for many years. The Fourth was one of our favorite holidays to celebrate there. Counting all the cousins, aunts, and uncles, our family was large so we always went early to get several tables. I was always so excited on picnic day. My mother spent the entire morning cooking. She’d make fried chicken, potato salad, pimento cheese sandwiches, and a cake, usually chocolate, and when it was all ready we headed to the park. And in case you were wondering if I cook all morning now that I’m an adult, I don’t. I stop by a deli and pick up some food, but I have to admit it can’t beat my mother’s cooking.

Once everyone gathered we ate our lunch, and then the kids started to beg to go swimming. The parents put it off as long as possible, but eventually they gave in, and the family moved to the beach. I remember how the lake smelled and all the sounds as the kids laughed and splashed in the water. We’d stay there until our mother made us get out. Both my sister and I are fair-skinned, and if we stay out in the sun too long we’ll burn.

We’d leave the park in the late afternoon, tired out from all the excitement and the swimming and looking forward to the next celebration, which was Labor Day. I don’t remember if we swam on Labor Day or not. Probably didn’t since I don’t remember it.

If we fast forward to the present day, we celebrate a little differently. We all still bring food, but we don’t go to the park anymore. We go to my cousin’s house. She has a very nice pool and screened in porches with electric fans. Do the kids still swim and have a good time? You bet they do. Do we still talk about the old days when we were the swimming children? You bet we do, but times change, and we’ve changed with them. The important thing isn’t where you have the celebration. The important thing is being with your family, and we enjoy that as much as we did those long ago celebrations.

How about you? How do you and your family celebrate the Fourth?

Posted in America, author's life, childhood, Uncategorized | 12 Comments

A Family Gathering

Fourth of July brings back fond memories for me, as well as most of my family. We had grand celebrations when my siblings and I were young. Every Independence Day we would get up early (my older brother had a paper route and those papers needed to be delivered before seven because it was a holiday) to roll newspapers and stack them into my brother’s delivery bag. Sometimes he would let me tag along and help deliver them. When we got back from delivering papers Mom would have breakfast ready and waiting for us. Then the preparations began. Dad would get out the horseshoes and stakes, the large metal coolers, and wooden ice cream makers. We kids would load the coolers with soda and then cover it all with ice. We’d load them into the back of the van where the lawn chairs were already waiting. Mom would grab whatever dish she was taking to the family reunion then we would head out to my grandparent’s farm.

Usually, we were the first to arrive as well as the last to leave. Dad would drive the stakes for horseshoes. We’d drag the coolers under the large oak tree, it was the shadiest spot in the yard and still very close to the house and the garage. Then we’d help Grandma set up the long tables along the side of the house where the food would be placed. As the cousins, aunts, uncles, and great-grandmothers arrived everyone unloaded their own coolers and the dishes that they brought were added to the table. My sister would often help Grandma set up the carnival-like games for all of us little kids. Each of us younger kids would get a handful of tickets to use to play a game. After each game we got a prize, I remember bubbles, paddle balls, and other little prizes like whistles. All things that we could play with that day while running around in the country. While we kids played the games the adults would play horseshoes or volleyball. Though the kids were allowed to join in if we wanted to. I used to love joining in on one game of volleyball. It was always fun until one of my older cousins spiked the ball and hit me in the face, it happened every year.

There was a talent show. Usually it was just us younger female cousins who participated in that. Every year my cousin Julie and I would sing God Bless The U.S.A ( I still sing this song every 4th of July). As the sun climbed into the sky Grandma and Mom would get the ice cream ready. Two of the ice cream makers were electric, the third was a hand crank one. I would sneak into the garage and offer to crank the ice cream for a while. Really I just wanted to sit in front of the fan that Grandpa had put in there for Grandma. When I was tired of cranking the ice cream I would run out to join the rest of my cousins (there were 21 of us first cousins) it never failed that one of the older boys would grab a handful of ice out of someone’s cooler, sneak up behind one of the aunts while she was sitting and talking, then drop the ice down the back of her shirt. That always kicked off an ice war. All of us would run around trying to drop ice down someone’s shirt, or tossing a bucket of cold water onto someone.

When the ice cream was done we would all eat. Filling our plates we would find a spot to sit and enjoy the food that had been brought. Most times I sat under the tree as the aunts and uncles took up the picnic tables, though sometimes I would go around to the back of the house and sit on the deck. Grandma and Mom would dish up ice cream. By the time we had finished eating I needed to get away. My brothers and the male cousins could often be found in the pasture, near the little creek that ran through the bottom. There was a stand of about five trees there and the boys were attempting to build a fort (it never did get finished). I would climb the hill on the opposite side of the creek where my lighting struck tree stood. This lone tree that had been split in two was my hideaway. I often climbed the half that overhung the hill, sat, and read or daydreamed. The only souls around to bother me were the sheep that were out in the pasture. From my little perch I could see what the boys were doing but was far enough away that their noise didn’t bother me.

As the sun moved closer to the western horizon the family began to pack up and leave. Everyone heading back to their homes so they could get to the fireworks displays. As the farm quieted down my parents, siblings, grandparents, and I would gather on the back deck to watch the sun set behind the woods. Our sparklers would wait until we got home that night.

I have to admit I miss those gatherings. They stopped after my grandparents passed away. Some of my uncles tried to carry the tradition on but it fizzled out after a few years. It just wasn’t the same. Our gatherings are much smaller. This year it will just be myself and my kids, perhaps my nephew. We’ll enjoy some sparklers and glow necklaces while watching the town’s fireworks. Perhaps we can make it down to watch the soap box derby but nothing compares to the Independence Days that I knew as a child.

What is your fondest Fourth of July memory?

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Family Fun on the Fourth

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Image from Deposit Photos

This week, our resident hound asked about Fourth of July celebrations. Specifically, about large celebrations with extended family. When I first noted the topic, I thought this would be an extremely short post, because I have very few extended family members who are Americans. Other than one uncle and two cousins, no one outside my immediate family would have any reason to celebrate the American Independence. I have vague memories of my brothers and me standing in our yard twirling sparklers around. Other than our parents, no one else was there. We didn’t travel anywhere to see fireworks.

When I went to college, I spent two summers taking classes in Illinois, so of course I was away from my family. I spent the morning of the holiday marching in a parade with the Bloomington Municipal Band.

After college, my membership in the musician’s union earned me a spot in various band performances during the summer, including fireworks concerts at a nearby lake. Sometimes members of my family would join the crowds assembled to watch the concerts and the fireworks display afterward.

IMG_2608

Our oldest daughter and son-in-law love to entertain!

When I married, my extended family grew, but not by much. My husband’s family is small (he has one brother), and his local extended family consisted only of two aunts. Everyone else lived in either Indiana or Arizona. We never got together for the Fourth of July. We took our kids to see local fireworks displays, but that was the extent of our celebration. One year, my brother and his wife brought their girls to Grand Rapids for the holiday and we watched the city fireworks together.

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Our middle daughter and her family enjoy the celebration.

It wasn’t until our five children grew up and started their own families that our holidays started to become more populated. Our eldest daughter married an energetic and successful businessman who loves to entertain. Around ten years ago, they began to throw Fourth of July parties at their home. Everyone brought a dish to pass, but the gathering wasn’t just about food. They hired a band, had activities and goodie bags for all the children, set up lawn games for the older kids and adults, and arranged for things like a popcorn wagon one year IMG_0272and a chocolate fountain the next year. Scott, our son-in-law, enjoys setting off fireworks, and he embraced the opportunity to host a party to which EVERYONE was invited – family, co-workers, friends, and friends of friends! He has a large extended family, all of whom live nearby, so it’s fortunate that they own several acres of land for their annual bash.

IMG_0365The all-inclusive gatherings discontinued when a few people who’d been invited by extended family did some extensive damage to the home’s plumbing (Why would anyone try to flush a diaper?). This year, we have no plans to get together, but our pool and backyard are available in case some of our family want to come and cool off from the record high temps we’re having. Our five children have given us nine grandkids and two great-grandkids, so we’re starting to grow, but for now we enjoy still being able to remember everyone’s names.

 

Posted in author's life, Family, fourth of July, Holiday, holidays, Patricia Kiyono, traditions | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Guest: Author RWK Clark

I am pleased to welcome R WK Clark this week. I’ve had my eye on him as a guest for some time. His works cover a number of fictional genres, perhaps ‘something for everyone’, but certainly not ‘all for everyone’, (although he has one YA series).  Let’s let the man speak for himself.

Clark

None of my books have foul language, the love seen if any, are clean and always between the opposite gender. I feel comfortable letting my own daughter read any of my books. Anyone who is a fan of my work has plenty of material to comb through and there is no doubt that more is on the way. As of today, I have published twenty books and seven of them are available in Spanish. At this moment my three psychological thrillers are my most popular books, Passing Through, Brother’s Keeper and Box Office Butcher. My romantic suspense novels are Requiem for the Caged, Passage of Time and Out To Sea; Out to Sea is my environmental awareness offering. My novels that offer a bit more underlying romance would be Overtaken, Blood Feather Awakens and Living Legacy. Now, DeSai In The Depths has the most intimate seems of all, reason being he is a vampire. If you like zombies, I have four books for you. Dead on the Water, Permanent Ink, Living Legacy and the Zombie Diaries series. If you like Witches I have two for you. Lucifer’s Angel and the DeSai trilogy, DeSai is a vampire that falls in love with a witch. If you like Vampires I have two for you. Stolen Blood and of course the DeSai Trilogy. Lastly, I have one crime drama Shattered Dreams, although, Passage of Time and Out To Sea, could be considered as dramas.

Welcome!  First, what shall we call you? Robert, or R?   Is there a story for the change to just your initials?

My first name is Robert, although my friends call me Clark.

Clark2

 

Something that will interest all of the writers: You sat down and wrote a book in one day. Will you tell that story one more time?

This was misunderstood, one day as in someday; one of these days.

Almost everyone says that they might decide to sit down and write a book someday, and yes, I procrastinated for most of my life in doing so. Finally, one day I made it a mission, to complete one of my work in progress stories into a full book. I will tell you the hardest part for me was not only writing the books, but publishing, most publishing houses want tens of thousands of dollars to publish your book for you, and they want to rewrite it in the process. After tons of research, I was finally able to self-publish my first novel in July of 2015. I published, Overtaken: Captive States a novel about aliens.

Were you a kid who read? Were you a kid who wrote?

I was a kid that dreamed, I love to dream up little movies in my mind and some of which I wrote down, to this day I wish I would have wrote all of them down. At least the basics, just enough details to jog my memory enough to recreate the vision I initially had. So many stories were lost over the years, that I thought would make a fantastic novel, or perhaps a movie.

 

Throughout your books there is a bit of humor, even if it is in quips from a few characters, but none of your work could be considered truly light-hearted.  You have contemporary murders, but more  futuristic stories , zombies, vampires, , witches devils, angels and aliens. You have a real flair for tension, even in the work where you let us  know the culprit, the characters in town seem to suspect the culprit, and we know what he is going to again do, (which we can’t even elude to this ‘family-friendly’ blog), yet, the suspense is thick enough to cut. I doff my hat to you!  Your readers can also find themselves caught up in worlds of your making. What drives you to write, and write so darkly? (You seem like a nice and funny guy on Facebook!)

I’ve always like scary thrillers, I guess it’s the chills, the adrenaline that is released when you are spooked. It is probably why so many people love thrillers, are we adrenaline junkies? Virtually everyone knows what it’s like to feel really scared. That pounding heartbeat, fast breathing, nervous perspiration and of course butterflies in the stomach. I think of it as education, if you live life not knowing these kinds of psychopaths could exist, I believe it leaves you unprotected. What would you do if you met Eliot Keller in real life? Would you stop your car to help him? Would you rent him a room? I think the creepy feeling you get when you meet some people, that feeling of apprehension, that is your key to triggering all the scenarios that played out in all the novels you have read and the movies you have seen. Your mind starts running through all the scenarios, what if this guy is a killer? What would I do, how would I get away from him. After seeing so many movies and reading so many books you are now armed with the knowledge, and hopefully you will not make all the same mistakes the victims made, plus, now you don’t scare so easily. At least that is the way I look at it.

How do you research areas and information on places and procedures which are not from your own imagination? Have you studied psychology to reach into the depths of some of your characters?

 

I don’t really, I just enjoy creating these fictional towns full of ignorant, innocent unawares that have no idea what is about to hit them, yes, it is far-fetched and sometimes unbelievable. But, I love to develop these little burgs, and I enjoy creating the people who live blissfully within their boundaries. This is what makes it such fun fiction.

[I don’t find small towns full of ignorant, innocent unawares as ‘far-fetched’-T]

“The glory of fiction is in its falseness, but the impact of fiction is found in its painful reality.” – R.W.K. Clark

YA books have become popular with the senior set. Do you find that older fans like The Zombie Diaries?

 

Yes, I do, I consider this light-hearted novel a horror comedy novel. The ‘horror’ part is simply to appease those who may be squeamish about reading something bloody or scary, but this book is really neither. Granted, it has some moments that are a tad ‘gross’, with no in-depth details. It is easy, as the reader, to get the point without ever coming close to losing your lunch or sleeping with the lights on, and it is safe for young readers as well. The best thing about this book, and the others, is that it shows us, by example, that when it comes to fiction there are no rules. Being a zombie does not have to mean walking around, grunting and groping for brains. The series chronicles the adventures of Mavis, a teenager who suddenly finds herself going through some pretty serious changes: She is slowly becoming a zombie. Since she doesn’t know what is happening to her, Mavis is dealing with each change as it comes, and sometimes she is quite unsuccessful in her efforts. Since her family and friends have no idea regarding her situation, they are no help, and she is pretty much stumbling through the dark alone. The results, while a bit gory, are pretty mild, and sometimes very funny.

Clark's 1Clark1.2

Most, if not all, of your books are available in Spanish. I assume you have a large following of Hispanic/Latino readers. Do you often hear from fans in both language?

Yes, in fact, Overtaken in Spanish is more popular than the English version.

 

Back to Facebook, it seems that you daily post “Reasons to Read”, with adorable and/or funny memes. I look forward to them. Where do you find these, and which are your favorites?

It is a collection that I have been building for a few years, whenever I come across a new book related meme, I It is a collection that I have been building for a few years, whenever I come across a new book related tend to add it to the collection. I have so may I couldn’t choose a favorite, but they are usually all good for a smile and that is what is important, starting the day with a smile.

Although I have never been to New Mexico, I have had friend from there and more friends move there. What keeps you living in and loving Albuquerque and the area? (Although I’ve been over much of Arizona, I know there is a difference; any New Mexican will tell you that quickly enough!)

Well, there is not enough shade and water in Albuquerque for me. I am planning on moving soon, I would like to find a location with an abundance of trees and water. Arizona is very different, indeed. I lived in Ahwatukee and Mesa for a few years. Phoenix for example, all the highways are landscaped and very clean, free from trash and litter, the roads are in fantastic condition and you would agree if you live there or have visited. It is unfortunate that Albuquerque, and Rio Rancho suffer on all three major points.

What do you do when you aren’t writing? What other talents do you possess?

I work full time as an IT Director. I love to do fine art photography and sculpting, I want to try my hand at painting eventually.

Is there anything that you’d like to tell our readers?

Yes, I would like to thank all my readers for their continued support, I am extremely grateful. You will not be forgotten.

Please let our readers know how they can learn more about your work.

http://rwkclark.comhttps://amazon.com/author/rwkclarkhttp://rwkclark.comhttps://amazon.com/author/rwkclark

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/r.w.k.+clark

https://www.facebook.com/R.W.K.Clark.Novelist

https://www.goodreads.com/rwkclark

Thank you again for coming in for the interview, RWK Clark.  I’ve been waiting to have you in!

 

 

 

Posted in author interview, author's life, book covers, Books, careers, characters, Guest, interview, jobs, novels, Uncategorized, writing, Writing and other professions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Guest Fox, M. R. Anglin

Welcome, Michele

By Jeff Salter

I’ve only recently encountered Michele Anglin, a new colleague at Clean Reads, so her booking as my Guest Fox was a chance for me to get to know her a little better. Michele has a new book out – her eighth, I believe – and I’ll be sharing some info about that title (later in this post). Right now, let’s jump into her biographical sketch and my interview questions, so you can get to know Michele also.

Michele-Anglin-large

M.R. Anglin has always had a fascination with space—particularly the moon and stars. She also has three amazing nephews, two adorable “near-nephews” (with another one on the way), and one brilliant niece, so it’s no wonder she eventually wrote a story that combines these loves into one. You can often find her gazing up at the Florida sky at night or hunching over her notebook/computer by day.

She is the author of several books, including the self-published, ongoing Silver Foxes series and Lucas, Guardian of Truth (LampPost 2012). She has also has stories included in anthologies and posted online.

Facebook Author page: http://facebook.com/authoranglin

QUESTIONS

  1. Jamaica sounds like such a beautiful place. What did you like best about living there as a youngster? How does it compare to the part of Florida where you now reside? Have you ever been back to Jamaica?

[*** MRA ***] — Growing up in Jamaica, my sisters and I played outside more, so we were always exploring together. I think that’s what I liked the most. That and all the fruit trees that grows in most yards, including ours. We climbed trees a lot. Where I live now is pretty similar but nothing compares to Jamaica. The last time I went to Jamaica was about 6 years ago. I forgot how relaxing it is there.

  1. Along with many others, I love listening to the accents of Jamaican actors and actresses. Do you also have that lovely accent?

[*** MRA ***] — No, unfortunately. I came to America when I was young so my accent is mostly gone. It does tend to come out more when I’m angry or with my family, though.

  1. You would be the first author I’ve met who drew inspiration from the Super Nintendo gaming system. Can you explain more about what captured your imagination?

[*** MRA ***] — Super Mario World. I loved that game so much—it’s one of my all time favorite Mario games. The characters captured my attention, and since there wasn’t much lore to it at that time (Mario games are pretty light on story), I came up with some myself.

  1. I’ve never tried fan faction, though I’m aware several authors have made a big splash doing so. Other than the obvious things – like not having to create your own major characters – how does the writing process differ? How much liberty can you take with those established settings and major characters?

[*** MRA ***] — I think fanfiction is an easy genre to get into because world-building is not an issue—it’s already done for you. The characters are already there, so you can have a base on which to express your creativity. As for established characters and settings, it’s fun to expand on the character you love so much and try to make them more alive—give them motivations . . . likes, dislikes, etc. . . . beyond what is seen in the game. Or you can give side characters more presence. Plus, there’s nothing to stop you from creating your own characters. Fan-characters are a way for burgeoning authors to put themselves into the world they love and allows them to imagine themselves doing things they can’t do in the real world.

  1. Your expanded bio mentioned several jobs you’ve held. Which was your favorite and why? Which did you like LEAST… and why?

[*** MRA ***] — My favorite: being a freelance writer. It was fun to get paid for writing.

Least favorite: working at a dry cleaners. The particular one I worked in was not a nice place to work. I’ll leave it at that.

  1. Any explanation for your fascination with the moon and the stars? If given the opportunity, would you travel into space?

[*** MRA ***] — No explanation. I just love astronomy. And the moon is so beautiful. But I don’t think I’d ever want to travel to space. The thought of being in a place where a relatively thin piece of metal separates me from a horrible death scares the living daylights out of me. It’s the same reason I wouldn’t go down in a submarine.

  1. I see you’ve released at least two titles through a “traditional” route and had half a dozen that you “self-published”. Obviously, there are major differences, but what would you say are the advantages and disadvantages of each route?

[*** MRA ***] — With self-publishing you’re in control of the story, formatting, cover . . . everything. And once the book is released, you have direct access to looking at sales, offering discounts, and marketing. The drawback is you don’t have the benefit of a professional to help with book covers, proofreading, or editing unless you pay big bucks for it.
With a publisher most of your control is taken away, however it is replaced with invaluable help—editors to help you polish your work, professional book covers and formatting, with no cost to you. However, it’s harder to track sales and market, I think.

  1. Tell us about your ongoing Facebook Live discussion. What can you accomplish through that venue that you can’t with an ordinary blog environment?

[*** MRA ***] — I just started the discussions on June 1, 2018, so I don’t know what works or what doesn’t yet. However, it’s great to be able to interact with readers instantly. That’s all I can say about it at the moment.

  1. Your bio also notes the spiritual center of your life and your writing. Would you like to add anything to that?

[*** MRA ***] — As a Christian, all my books have a Biblical element about them—even those that are not overtly Christian. The tagline of my website is “sharing Biblical truth through fiction,” and that’s my goal in my writing.

  1. What can you share about the inspiration for your newest release, Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon?

[*** MRA ***] — Oh, boy! You asked for it this time. I have several inspirations for that book. The two major inspirations are my niece and nephew. I came up with the idea for “day-people” and “night-people” in my book when I noticed my niece liked to sleep during the day when she was a baby. (FYI: In my book, day-people are those who get energy from the sun and fall asleep as soon as the moon hits them. Night people gain energy from the moon and sleep as soon as the sun hits them.)
My next inspiration is the old Greek and Roman myths. They inspired Helio and Lumina, the Guardians of the sun and moon, respectively. Astronomy is also a big inspiration to the entire series.
Then we have the Bible verse that is written in the front of the book: Joshua 10:12b-13 where it speaks of the sun and moon stopping in the sky. If you read the book, you’ll see that inspiration pretty clearly.
Yeah, so I had quite a bit of inspiration for this book.

  1. If sales (money) and critics (reviews) were immaterial to you, what genre and length would you write?

[*** MRA ***] — Fantasy, novel length. Same as I do now.

  1. Have you ever encountered people who seem unable / unwilling to comprehend that writing is something you are driven to do?

[*** MRA ***] — No, not really. If they did, either I didn’t notice or they didn’t say.

  1. If you were not a writer, can you imagine what else you might do to express the creativity within you?

[*** MRA ***] — Well, I already dabble in sewing, crochet, quilting, drawing, and embroidery, so . . .

  1. Give us at least one example of someone who has contacted you and expressed how much your writing meant to them.

[*** MRA ***] — I know I’ve received some, but I can’t remember the specifics right now. I have a terrible memory =(

  1. In the conversations (about writing) that you’ve had over the years, what is one writing question which you’ve WISHED had been asked of you… but never has been asked?

[*** MRA ***] — Have you ever had writer’s block? No one’s asked, but I’ve given the answer anyway. =) I feel very strongly about it.

  1. What’s your answer to # 15 above?

[*** MRA ***] — No, I never have. I believe the reason writers suffer from writer’s block is because they write and write until they burn out. For at least one day a week I rest my creative mind and do not write. I believe that’s why I’ve never experienced writer’s block.

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Blurb

Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon

For years the Moon Palace in the Valley of Aijalon and the Sun Tower in the Plains of Jashar has stood as testaments to the power of the sun and the graciousness of the moon. Helio and Lumina, Guardians of the sun and moon, kept watch over them and the Prince and the Princess who ruled them. But the Prince and Princess are missing, and the sun is exhibiting strange behavior.
Now Joshua and his younger sister, Deborah, must untangle a web of lies and deceit to uncover the secret of who they really are and save their world from an imminent disaster brewing in the heavens. And they must hurry. Between the earthquakes, the sun and moon standing still in the sky, and the planet Jants hovering closer than it’s ever been, the planet could be torn apart before they have a chance to do something about it.

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Prince-Princess-Moon-Rulers-Galaxy-ebook/dp/B078T6KJSN

Question [for our blog readers to respond to]:

I’ve just started a Facebook Live ongoing discussion group I call Book Chat. If your favorite author started streaming live episodes, what would you want to see them discuss or do? What would get you to stop and watch?

 

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