Today's Guests are award-winning author/screenwriter, Robert Whitehill.
Last Saturday, April 28, 2015, I was lucky to have the charming Leyla Atke on my radio show Books and Bards.
Leyla is the author of Charm: An Amazing Story of a Little Black Cat, a true story based upon a little black kitten that she found one day under the most unusual circumstances.
Charm, stole her heart as this little book will steal yours. It will tear your heart apart and put it back together and make you wonder about the presence of miracles.
I am honored that Saket Suryesh agreed to let me interview him. He has a rare talent to paint a picture with words that will leave you breathless and haunted. His short stories are amazing and his poetry will touch your soul. If you haven't met him, let me introduce you to my friend Saket.
A gentleman and writer who I hope will remain a friend throughout our lives.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complimented you on something you had written.
I believe, it takes a great deal of courage for someone who is not full-time writer to go ahead and declare him or herself a writer. It is a difficult proclamation and I have been quite troubled by the same. It commits you to that being your only truth. Sometimes, one is worried not only about the commitment it means, but also if one is setting himself for a very public humiliation, by opting for a batman-esque double life without the perks of a billionaire which are available to Mr. Bruce Wayne. It is easier to work as a different man at night when you do not have to get up and go to the office next morning. However, writing is inescapable if you have things to tell, things which you cannot contain in your head.
I wrote a poem in Hindi when I was in school, more with the sense of pleasing my father, who wrote poetry. It was liked by my teacher, who did not initially believe it to be the work of a ten year old. I remember, it was about the democracy and that sacrosanct sense of freedom inherent in it which ought to be guarded. Well, my father wrote poetry and I loved the sense of letting myself go through the words. Writing is an avenue to be brutally honest. So I wrote. However, He was not much pleased with my seriousness with the trade, which he could only detect by the time I completed. Nudged by parents, I pursued the usual middle class path; I graduated as an Electrical engineer, fell in love, did my masters and wrote on empty cigarette packets through the college. Once I had a daughter, six years back, I felt a surge to write down what I would largely consider constituted me. I felt, any human being is a force of ideas. I wanted my thoughts to carry on to my child someday, so she could read them.
And then I wrote essays, which were more like my own struggle to understand the world around and self-published them as “If Truth Were To be Told”. It did not sell much, but it helped me gain entrance into a different world of literature where fellow writers, much better than me like you, embraced me as one of their own. That book was followed by a collection of my poems, picked from loose sheets and doodles on the books I had read during my student years. I could sail through my initial embarrassments and fear of being called a fake, and began writing a Fiction which is still under-works. In between, pushed by Julie Larson of StoryStar, I discovered the magic of Short-stories which I tried hand at off and on. The days went in selling Cloud Computing and through nights I wonder among the clouds, stitching my stories.
What can a reader expect when they pick up books or stories written by Saket Suryesh?
Most of my stories and books are written around the idea of individualism. I have great love for the non-conformist thoughts as long as they do not demand a surrender of reason. Most of my stories runs around love and death, which are two absolutes in life. They happen to everyone. Most of my stories are about what happens to everyone. That is what I believe, makes my writing honest. But than a good writer has to agree to expose himself to public humiliation and shame, and still continue to be honest. Each of my writing carries a little bit of me. There could be some playful games which I sometimes play for instance, my story “Love in Yale” was a conscious attempt to write a story in the background which I know nothing about. It was to see the universality of love. The environs were foreign, but the man in love there was me, so was the soldier, who died in “The Death of a Soldier.
What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?
No, I haven’t. I haven’t sold many of the books and when I sold initially close to thirty copies of my collection of essays, and found solace in what I read somewhere about Schopenhauer having sold twenty-eight copies of his first book initially. Anyways, I believe, reviews are good way to sell, but in India, it is pretty difficult to find reviewers on Amazon. I was talking to a new writer few days back, and he was equally confounded on the way into brick and mortar, which seems to be a very difficult art. To sell on Amazon, reviews are important. Goodreads Giveaway have not given results. I can believe, not all the ten applicants liked the book, but they could’ve at least given negative reviews. I trying to figure out best way to get reviews.
You’ve written a book of poetry and several short stories. Do you think poetry as an art is being under-valued and what can we do to inspire a new generation to read and write poetry?
I believe, all good writing finds poetry running through them, whether they are journalistic prose, blogs or stories. Most great stories aren’t made of very complex and convoluted plot. They are made up of sincere feelings transformed into magical structures by correct words, which is what poetry is. To my mind, all great prose is nothing but poetry without pretence. It is that great poetry flowing silently through The Great Gatsby which makes it a brilliant book. It is very important to get children exposed to poetry. It is a job too serious to be left to school teachers, many have scant love for literature. I still remember a teacher we had in my school in class XII, who read to us “Tonight I can Write Saddest Lines” by Pablo Neruda and how sadness simmered among the students. You need to be exposed to poetry by people who do not consider poetry as being frivolous with words. I trust, we are writers can do much about it, by doing reading sessions with schools. I still lament why I did not have teacher like her in other classes.
What inspires your poetry?
Love and love only. Being a father, I bask in love of my six year old and am aware of the fleeting flow of time. Stretched between a state of love and un-love, I write poetry.
Is there a major theme in your stories?
My stories are woven around individual thoughts and feelings. Even things like war which are much too grand to be considerate of human feelings need to be looked at from the eyes of human beings which are a part of it. Human beings cannot be reduced to mere numbers. There are real thinking, breathing and feeling human beings are hidden in each discomforting headline.
What were some of your favourite books as a child?
When I was very young, I read Ramayana and Mahabharata. As a teenager, I remember reading “Of Human Bondage” and “The Razor’s Edge.” During college, read all of Ayn Rand and Nietsche which impacted me a lot.
What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue?
They should align with the person speaking them. Dialogues should be there for the purpose of communication between the characters, not to carry the story forward. Burdening them with the task of carrying the story forward makes them heavy. They are supposed to lift the story up and shine through the story.
Don’t use dialogues to express the thoughts. Thoughts should be expressed as thoughts only and not be carried over the crutches of dialogues. Something the way Dostoevsky (Notes from The Underground, Crime and Punishment) does where characters speak in their minds and we read them. That is the advantage of being a writer; you can always tell what a character is thinking without them having to speak about it.
Dialogues ought to be simple, unless the person speaking them is a writer or a poet or a speaker. They should not overpower the character. They can be used to add colour to the character, like “Old Sport” of Jay Gatsby.
I also believe that Dialogues must use less of profanity. This is a bit of challenge for realism, but then that is the challenge, can we make the story youthful, true enough without being resorting to outright profanity.
What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?
There are many books like Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, The Great Gatsby. Then, Television shows like “Boston Legal and The West Wing are immensely witty. On Movies, three movies which I can never have enough of in terms of dialogue are “A Few Good Men”, “My Fair Lady” and “The Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.”
What three things should a first time visitor to India do?
Delhi is anyways constant. Then, depending on weather, it can be Rishikesh or Rajasthan. There are so many beautiful places, but the best attraction of any place is people.
What can we expect from Saket Suryesh in the next 12 months?
I hope to complete by novel in 12 months. I have been contemplating a book addressed to my daughter. And I am intending to collect all poems from my Facebook posts and get them out as a collection. I am also looking to re-launch my poetry collection, if someone can help edit it.
I would be happy to help you with the layout and editing of your poetry collection and get it ready for publishing in both eBook and paperback Saket.
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?
Be aware that you will not immediately sell. Seek happiness in your ability to write. We do not write because the world is dying to read us. We write because we will die unwritten if we do not write. It is not about stories waiting to be heard, it is more about stories waiting to be told.
Is there a particular theme to your stories?
What is your novel about?
It is about the story of a daughter who explores the life of her parents to understand them as individuals and in process, understand the true glory of love.
Do you have a favourite movie or author that inspires your writing?
Julie and Julia, I love Scott Fitzgerald. I also loved “The Moveable Feast” and “On Writing” by Stephen King as especially motivating.
Where can readers and fans connect with you?
Facebook, twitter and my blog- Love, Life and Happiness.
I have a page on FB- https://www.facebook.com/saket.suryesh
A Draft Novel and on Google+, A Difficult Love where I post select work on my upcoming novel.
Saket I am honored to have you as a friend. I truly believe that you have a rare talent that whether it takes you far in this life I don't know, for my crystal ball isn't working. But I do believe your work will be remembered and looked for through the years.
I have long admired Maria Savva, for both her writing and her willingness to support other authors. I have witnessed her on many occasions give her time and knowledge with kindness and generosity. I am honored and excited that she agreed to let me interview her on my blog today.
I am thrilled to welcome her to my blog today.
I loved both, Haunted and Coincidences and I am looking forward to reading more of your work. Would you tell us whether your books are inspired by real events or real people?
I would go as far as to say that all of my short stories and novels are inspired by real events and real people. Of course, I don’t just write someone’s life into my stories, but I have a mixing pot of lots of things I have heard and lots of things I have seen. Many of the events in my novels and stories are things that have in some way actually happened to me. Other events are things that I've heard maybe on the news, or from listening in to a random stranger’s conversation as I walk past them in the street. That sort of thing. For example, when I create characters, their personalities might be inspired by someone I know, or someone I knew briefly in the past. None of my characters have ever been solely based on one person, but have been a mix of different people. I like to think I am a collector of stories from our lifetime, and I fictionalize them and document them for future generations to read. That’s a fiction writer’s job.
There are similarities in Coincidences and Haunted, in that they both deal with emotions and secrets, yet are very different novels. Would you tell us what you wanted the differences to be between the two and whether you believe you accomplished this?
I don’t think about things like that when I write. I wrote Coincidences in 1997, and was not thinking about that book at all when I wrote Haunted. I don’t ever plan to make my next book different to the last or similar to the last, but I have noticed similar themes running through all my work, even though they are different genres. When I’ve written a book, I leave it behind me and move on to the next project. I write about things that inspire me to write. Inspiration comes in many forms, and different things that happen in my life will inspire me to write something. So, for example, Haunted was mainly inspired by a news story I heard in about 2004, and a road rage incident I witnessed in early 2011. Those things sparked my imagination and I had to write the book.
I read in one of your interviews that if you were trapped in an elevator you wouldn’t like it to be with someone who didn’t like your books. Would you mind telling us why?
I suppose because if someone doesn’t like my books they probably wouldn’t like me much either. There’s a whole lot of me that goes into my books. My philosophy about life, my values, dreams, etc. So being stuck in an elevator with someone who I didn’t have anything in common with would not be nice. Also, it would give me less to talk about... I do like to talk about my books LOL
How did it feel to have Coincidences land on the top 10 list of Susan Buchanan’s blog Sooz’s Top 10 Books of 2012?
That was wonderful. Especially because I really enjoyed both of Susan’s books. She’s a talented writer, so for someone like that to choose my book in her top 10, that means a lot. She reads loads of books, too, so it’s even more amazing she chose mine. I’m very grateful and thankful.
You grew up reading at a remarkably young age. What would you say was the most notable thing that kept you on your path to learning to read?
I was very young when I started reading, maybe about three. I think it’s because I had an older brother who was already at school and he was learning to read, and I am obsessed with the written word, so I probably wanted to read too. Or probably just wanted to do whatever he was doing. I’m sure curiosity played a big part in my learning to read so young. We used to live in one of those old houses that had three floors, and each room was occupied by a different family. That’s quite typical of rental accommodation in the UK in the ‘70s. There was an old woman who lived upstairs. She didn't have a family of her own, and used to look after me and my brother sometimes. I’m told she used to teach us things, so maybe she had a hand in teaching me to read so young.
I understand that you thought a bit of the reason you didn't feel like you fit into the life of a working lawyer was your love of human nature. Do you still believe that was a large factor?
I was actually quite successful as a lawyer, and enjoyed my job for the most part. I was made redundant in 2008 in the big housing crash, and as I was specializing in conveyancing it has been hard to get back into work as a lawyer. I would probably do that again though if the opportunity arose. I think what I might have said in the past was that I didn't like the way some of the lawyers I came into contact with behaved. In my novel, Second Chances, two of the characters are partners of a law firm, and they basically reflect the type of people that I didn't like working with. I am the sort of person who won’t step on someone else just to climb the ladder, but unfortunately, there are many people out there who will, and maybe what I have alluded to in interviews in the past is that due to my nature, maybe I didn't fit in that kind of dog-eat-dog environment.
It seems today that we all need to have an online presence. Do you have one that you prefer or find the most effective?
I’m mainly on Bestsellerbound, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. I’m not of the generation that grew up with computers, and in general, I would prefer not to be online so much, but as you say, it seems we have to have an online presence these days. I try to use those sites as a way to connect with people, especially authors and readers, as more of a support network for my writing really. It can get lonely being a writer, especially when you’re working on a project like a novel, so sometimes it’s fun to be able to chat with people online as a distraction. My favorite site is BestsellerBound.com because I have met some very supportive authors there, and people that I feel I can call my friends, even though I’ve never met most of them.
I find that each time I believe I am getting a handle on social networking a new site pops up. Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed with it all?
Constantly. I try to limit myself to a few sites, as mentioned in the last question. I have accounts with other sites, but rarely use them.
If one of your books were chosen to be made into a movie, which would you like it to be and why?
Only one? I want them all to be made into movies. It’s a childhood dream of mine. But if you twisted my arm and I had to choose, I would choose Haunted. I was asked this question recently for The Next Big Thing blog, and I mentioned that I would like Robin Williams to play Nigel (he’s such a versatile actor), and Kate Winslet to play Emily. That would be such a great film. It’s very dark, very chilling, and would be perfect for the big screen. Of course, I may be biased.
Is there one word that others who know you well would use to describe you? Do you agree with them?
Yes. They would say I’m quiet. That’s the most common thing they say. I agree. Most of the time I’m thinking up plots for my novels, or daydreaming about other stuff. My mind is not very quiet.
Where can readers find you and your books?
The best place to start is my website: http://www.mariasavva.com There are links there to my Facebook page, Twitter, and various other sites. There are excerpts from most of my books on there too, and my book trailers. My Goodreads blog is linked to the site. You can also click through from there to buy my books from the various online retailers.
Thanks so much for inviting me to your website, Marta!
Maria thank you so much, it has been wonderful having you on my blog. I am a big fan of your writing. BTW I agree Kate Winslet would make a fabulous Emily.
You can find Maria's books on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com and other retailers.
Each person you meet or interact with makes their own mark in our lives. There are a few whose generosity, wit, talent, and supportive human spirit touch you to the core. In my opinion, one of those people is Sammy Sutton. Those of you who know her, understand exactly what I mean. To those who have not yet met Sammy, I think you will find in her and her writing a tremendous talent, and a remarkable woman.
Thank you Sammy for taking the time and energy to join me today, I am blessed, and honored to know you.
1.) Where did you get the idea for the Dominguez Adventures?
Marta that is an interesting thought to ponder, but ultimately, it came from my fascination with being human and how we came to be who we are as individuals and as a society.
2.) I understand you have a love of history, religions, and spirituality, what do you find most fascinating about these things?
Boy do I, primarily, it is the declaration of truth that most fascinates me. People have a love hate relationship with truth. On one hand, they yearn for facts, yet, on the other hand, they refuse to accept any reality that doesn’t fit into an ideal.
My journey began back in college. One semester I had a very odd schedule heavily weighted in humanities. I had Anthropology, Philosophy, Religion, Psychology, and Sociology each claimed a sort of truth within their discipline, nevertheless each defied the other. It was at this point I became intrigued to the point of near obsession and began trying to understand man and his ancient past.
3.) Antonio and Amanda face many challenges, emotionally, mentally, and physically on their road to self-healing and discovery. Is there a back story behind this?
LOL Yes, the two are challenged on many levels. Antonio and Amanda are a compilation of my personal history and the history of others I have encountered throughout my life. Both professionally and personally many people and events have left a lasting impression and I am compelled to share this through my fictional characters.
In King Solomon’s Journey and Hidden Mountain this has manifested into a sort of adventuress saga as the story moves into The Reliquary of Dimensions and the next three books it becomes more specific and event based.
4.) Amanda has a very close relationship with her sons. I understand you have a son with Epilepsy and are a great advocate for both epilepsy awareness and finding a cure. Do you have any suggestions for those who either suffer from epilepsy or have a loved one who does?
Many thanks Marta for this question as it is very important to me and many others…Hang in there! To compare it to a roller coaster ride is an understatement. My son’s epilepsy and the disability it has created have taught me more than anything else in my life. Through him and his illness I have learned the true meaning of unconditional and rewarding love. He is an amazing young man untainted by bitterness despite the hand that was dealt him at birth. He is my hero and I am very lucky to be his mother. He is adopted therefore I take great joy in the belief that we were brought together by fate.
More specifically to address the illness, our lives are a testament to the idea of never giving up. Many times we have been told by professionals “there is nothing more we can do.” Never have we accepted this and never have we been completely defeated. Keep searching!
5.) You are a lover of poetry, but do not write it. Is there a reason you do not?
Unlike you Marta with brilliant poetic talent, I am simply not very good at it. Poetry and music are areas that bring me great joy, I like keeping the beauty in context.
6.) You are an advocate for children who are caught in the social system; do you have any suggestions that might make it easier for us as a society to do better by these children?
Oh yes, in the past I have asserted many opinions about children and their perpetrators, but in consideration of time and space I will remind everyone that each and every child on this planet is the responsibility of each and every adult on this planet.
As a tireless advocate for the challenged Marta I think you will agree with me, if a child turns out “Bad” somewhere along the way an adult contributed. The adult is not always the parent, and everyone should keep that thought in mind and strive to protect children, our future.
7.) How valuable do you believe knowing and learning history is to our progress as a species?
I love this question and the irony in the answer. Understanding the past is imperative; we must learn from our history, and keep in mind there has never been a civilization that did not fall. We must also look at the past through unclouded vision; evidence suggests our ancestors were pretty smart, too.
8.) So far to date you have written two books in the Dominguez Adventure series, King Solomon’s Journey and Hidden Mountain. At the end of Hidden Mountain, it was clear that this was only the beginning of another journey. How many books do you believe will be in this series?
Marta, you are very observant. Well, I’m not sure exactly when it will end. Reliquary of Dimensions is an explosive end to the trilogy based on King Solomon’s journey. After this the characters move on into the fourth adventure, which is very politically charged and based on events unrelated to the scrolls.
A little tease; Reliquary of Dimensions also introduces the reader to a new character that ultimately becomes the main character in another novel, which is not one of The Dominguez Adventures.
9.) When you do research for your writing, do you do it in one lump or as you go along?
Actually, the stories are based upon my research. Still through the process the story often births ideas that need further clarification. Rarely a day passes that I do not find myself researching a topic.
10.) You are one of the most supportive and loving people I have met online, and in your book Hidden Mountain, Antonio says, “After all, trust is greater than love, and to truly trust another human being is rare. Love can exist without trust, but trust cannot exist without love.” Do you believe this quote personally?
Thank you Marta, I’m flattered. You are incredibly supportive and a wonderful advocate for the craft of writing.
I believe this quote with all my heart. The problem with understanding resides within the limitations of the English language. There are many kinds of love, yet we are only afforded one word. I find this truly limits our ability to express affection. Keeping this in mind, trust is greater than love…it simply demands affection we must call love in the English language.
11.) Where do you want to be in your life a year from now?
Funny, I have not pondered that too much in the recent past. I guess a better and more experienced version of who I am now. I want to write and form a relationship with readers who find value in my stories.
12.) You write so gloriously, does it come easily to you, or do you struggle with some aspects? If so which?
WOW, thank you Marta. When it comes to writing, I am an unbridled wild child; luckily I have Kathy, my editor to reel in my story. I am thankful for her direct approach as I love writing from this perspective and do not want to change.
13.) What is your most successful marketing tool?
Currently, my Blog, without it there would not be a lot of reason to publish. Recently, I have updated and separated the components and this is really looking like an idea that was well worth the time. My Blog has received a lot of traffic and interest this has often resulted in sales on Amazon as well as other outlets.
I also find getting out and socializing is great for local print sales. Still, I am constantly reading and exploring ideas for promotion.
14.) How and why did you decide to give Amanda Messenger a brain tumor?
Marta, I’m sure you’ve heard of writing “what you know” well, I often take it literally. I lived for more than four years with the knowledge of a tumor in my head (not actually on my brain, but penetrating it) in February of 2012 a team of surgeons did an exploratory surgery and removed six tumors from the left region.
Since I wrote much of these books while I was dealing with immortality I think it was a bit of a coping mechanism. It also adds a certain level of complexity to Amanda, her abilities, and most importantly to her relationship with Antonio.
15.) Where can people find you and your books?
Marta, I would like to thank you for your time and effort, it is truly an honor to be interviewed by you. I greatly appreciate your support and kindness.
Sammy, I am more thrilled and delighted than you know, that you took the time to answer a few questions. I am also a big fan of your Dominguez Adventures and can hardly wait for the next book.
I first met Cyrus on Facebook about six am one morning. We had been aquaintances on Facebook and I had read many of his posts but we hadn't really communicated at that point.
Well that day he posted something that was of particular interest to me and I did make a comment.
That began our communication and he invited me to be a guest on his radio show "Conversations."
I had a great time and found him to be gracious and professional. He has an interest in everything as far as I know.
Cyrus Webb holds a belief in reading, writing, and education that is not uncommon. But what he is doing with it is.
Thank you Cyrus for allowing me the pleasure of interviewing you and sharing my space with you.
What made you decide on the name Conversations which you use in most of your projects?
Marta, I know what it's like to feel like dialogue is one-sided. When I started with the radio show back in 2003 I knew that I didn't just want to talk at others. I wanted to engage them, get to know more about them and ultimately let them share their voice as well. This, to me, is a true conversation. From there it just began the way I saw my mission, next with the magazine and then with the book club. It's all about bringing people together.
What led you down the path of promoting literacy and education?
It's ironic in a way, because I am not really the poster child of what education is shown to be. I didn't go to college, so I have no degrees are letters after my name. What I do have, however, is a love of learning and sharing with others the power of words. This led me early on to read all I could and then find creative ways to let others know what was available through books. I know the power they have. It's helped me get to where I am in life. That is what I share with people. You don't have to be a doctor, lawyer or media personality to be successful. All you have to be is the best you that you can be.
How do you decidew what event or feature you are going to promote on Cyrus Webb Presents?
Like so many part of my business and the brand I am building it has gone through some changes. I have never wanted to make things just about me. I have been very careful in trying to deflect attention from me in fear of over saturating the market with Cyrus Webb. What I have found over the past few years, however, is that people want to know what I think, what I
like and how I feel about certain issues. This is how Cyrus Webb Presents came about. I've been able to do it not just on blogs, on the radio show or in tv presentations but now through movies that I have presented as well. It's my way of saying I know there is a story out there that will help a larger audience, and this is my way of bringing attention to it.
You are an artist,columnist, radio and television show host. Which do you prefer?
Marta, this is always difficult to even think about as I see them all as inter-related. If I had to choose, however, I would say that the radio show has given me not only my largest platform but an ability to make the most difference. Whether it's through a radio affiliate or just the online side of the program I treat each and every guest as if they are the most important to me, because they are.
You are also an accomplished poet. I loved your poems, To My Sister, Responsibility 101 and I Can’t Be Stopped, spoke volumes to me. Where do you get your inspiration?
Poetry is really one of the most intimate part of my life. I write about what I am going through, what I hear about and those I know. Over the past decade I have accomplished a great deal. I've done a lot of good, however, not everything I touch has turned to gold or been well-received. I use the written word to put it all in context. Living a life of purpose is something I take very serious, so I try and use that gift when I am writing to help others appreciate their own purpose as well.
You have interviewed many famous people as well as the not so famous like me. Who inspired you most?
It's like I said earlier, everyone to me is equally important. I have been fortunate to interview people with name recognition, however, what is more enjoyable for me is talking with someone who has life lessons we can all glean something from. I've interviewed celebrities who fit that bill, as well as everyday individuals like you and me who are finding their place in the world. As long as I can share that part of their story, I am inspired and happy because I know others will be inspired, too.
What things surprise you most in life?
Great question. It has amazed me how much I benefit from disappointments and challenges in life. May sound crazy, but that has been how all of my successes have been birthed. There would be no radio show if I didn't see an opportunity for every day individuals to get attention for the great things they were doing in life. There would be no magazine if I didn't see non-celebrities getting their much-needed praise and opportunity to share their stories and successes. There wouldn't be a book club if I found reading groups that encouraged men as well as women to come together and discuss books of all genres. That is what I hope I can get others to see. A closed door or window is
an opportunity for you to open up a new way for others to see the world.
How did you come to start the project Hip Hop and Books?
I actually came to Hip Hop late in my life, like around 2005. Never really understood it until that point. When I started listening to some of the lyrics, however, I began to hear the story that some of them were telling and how I could relate to it. I was introduced to Platinum-selling recording artist/author Corey “C-Murder” Miller in late 2006 after discovering his book DEATH AROUND THE CORNER. I was so impressed by it that I invited him to partner with me in sharing the book and its message with a larger area. I started Hip Hop and Books to bring lovers of that genre of music to books that showcased the struggle and journey that the music talked about. To date we have hosted events across the South with more planned later this year.
What is your next project?
I want to begin a road series under Cyrus Webb Presents where I am traveling around the country and interviewing people for a web series. It will be called “Conversation Pieces”, and if everything goes well it will begin this summer. Other than that, I will be self-publishing book one of my serialized novel BLESSED which is called IN THE BEGINNING. Details about it can be found at www.blessedbycawebb.com.
What do you want your life to stand for?
Another great question, Marta, and I thank you for it. I want my life to show what is possible for all of us, regardless of where you live, what you look like and who you believe yourself to be. The only thing that I believe is impossible are the things you dare not do.
Where can people find out more about you Cyrus?
Cyrus A. Webb, http://www.cyruswebbpresents.com
Conversations Radio http://www.conversationsliveradio.com
Conversations Book Club, http://conversationsbookclub.blogspot.com
Conversations Magazine, http://www.conversationsmag.com
Thank you Cyrus for taking the time to speak a bit about you, your dreams, and your projects. I hope when you take your tour we will get a chance to meet.
It is a pleasure to welcome Lori A. Moore.
1. )What book are you reading now?
5.What fact about your life would you like to share with your readers?
This middle-age woman likes rap music.
6.If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be, and why?
Although I’ve visited all 50 states in the USA as well as 30 other countries, there are dozens of additional places I’d like to see.
Right off the top of my head I’d say Germany because it’s the only other language I can speak.
7.Do you have any hobbies (other than writing)?
As I mentioned before, I love to travel. I’m also getting pretty good at photography, which I enjoy immensely.
8.Are you working on any other books?
Tell us about them. Yes, my children’s book is releasing soon, so now I’m writing a thriller fiction with a female serial killer.
9.What do you enjoy most about writing?
Writing is like traveling, it takes you away from your everyday routine.
10.What other authors have inspired you?
Liz Curtis Higgs, Andy Andrews.
11.Do you have a link where we can purchase your books or read more about you?
Thank you Lori for taking the time to answer a few questions. I wish you much success.
Books by Lori Moore
Grady the Gray Cat Gets Adopted
Hannah the Hedgehog Goes to Heaven
From Zero to Christian in Just 35 Years
Missing Andy: The Journey From Grief to Joy
LEAVE A COMMENT TO ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF HIDDEN NEW JERSEY.
I cannot recommend this book enough. It is a wonderfully illustrated trip through both the history and the sites of New Jersey.
When Hazel Mitchell agreed to let me feature her and her new book on my website I was honored. I was even more thrilled when she agreed to answer a few questions.
1.) Are you and Linda considering doing all fifty states?
Two states have been done previously (Ohio and Michigan) and these were by different authors and illustrators, sot hat would be totally up to the publisher. Would be fun though!
2.) What made you decide upon New Jersey?
I was approached by the publisher at Mackinac Island Press, so the choice had nothing to do with me I am afraid. My hubby is from NJ though, so that helped along the way when I had questions to ask.
3.) How long did it take you to decide on the proper Illustration to go in each group on each page?
I received the manuscript with all the different facts for each page as researched by the author Linda Barth. I then looked at hundreds of pictures for the elements and made sketches as to how I could put all the elements together. I didn't have the time or resources to visit them all! The publisher approved my notes and sketches and then I drew the final images and coloured them. Each page took about 2 weeks.
4.) Where do you see the biggest market for Hidden New Jersey?
Well, definitely in New Jersey .. but this is a book that will be useful to all children in the USA and worldwide to teach them more about the history and the
geography of the third state.
5.) Do you believe as I do that it can be used in teaching the elementary
history of the state?
Absolutely! It's full of great facts!
I had the delight of being able to read. I must say even as an adult I enjoyed this little book. Hidden New Jersey by Linda J. Barth and Illustrated by Hazell Mitchell take the reader and the child on a magical trip to the shores of New Jersey. Teaching both the history and the ambience of the state. It taught me some really wonderful things about New Jersey, that I didn't know. I may need to take a trip and explore the many things it has to offer.
Each page holds a treasure trove to delight the young reader. It also gives them games to play making the book even more entertaining.
There are little rhyming verses that help to keep a child continually thrilled to return to this little gem.
Hazel Mitchell's beautiful color Illustrations are true works of art. They bring the history and wondrous joys that are New Jersey to life.
To say that Hazel Mitchell's Illustrations are just that is an understatement. The Illustrations are a delight to the eye and to the mind as you wander through each page learning about the history and what you can see and do in the state.
So come on down and paddle your way through the joys.
You can find out more about Hazel at the following links.
my website - hazelmitchell.com
my blog - hazelmitchell.blogspot.com
on twitter @TheWackyBrit
the book trailer -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuXJfjc-Dgo
Or you can find her on Facebook and Google +.
Available @ Amazon.com
I am privileged to share a guest blog with you from my friend Robert Walker. I first met Robert on Facebook a couple of year ago.
Since then I have read and enjoyed his wisdom, insights, humor and books. He is a warm and delightful, man as well as a talented author. He shares freely his wisdom, kindness and knowledge with all who wish to partake of his words.
His books are a delight to read full of twists, turns and suspense. I consider myBravo to my friend and thank you for taking the time to join me.
I am privileged to share a guest blog with you from my friend Robert Walker. I first met Robert on Facebook a couple of year ago. Since then I have read and enjoyed his wisdom, insights, humor and books. He is a warm and delightful, man as well as a talented author. He shares freely his wisdom, kindness and knowledge with all who wish to partake of his words.
His books are a delight to read full of twists, turns and suspense. Bravo to my friend and thank you for taking the time to join me.
Great FICTION Can Be Stranger & Stronger Than FACT…or: Can a Story be More Useful than the Truth?
It slays me every time on the news or talk shows some bozo uses a trite phrase, but in particular this one – "Aww…that's just fiction." or "We're talking fiction here" and always with disdain for fiction and story and storytellers, when in fact there are few things on the planet as powerful as a story example to prove a truth. The same attitude is three-fold in academic circles when your colleagues learn that you not only write fiction but OMG – genre fiction. If it isn’t what they consider to be “literature” (which is in the eye of the beholder) then your colleagues and even your bosses diminish your fiction titles with such phrases as, “Oh, yeah, he’s published a novel, but it’s just genre fiction—one of Rob’s types of books, likely just a fluff-piece mystery.”
I have gotten this sort of response at every college or school I’ve ever worked at rather than gaining support in such circles, and sadly, in a teaching career spanning over 30+ years, I have heard this kind of put-down of my fiction for a long, long time now. Honestly, this attitude toward genre fiction in particular is not unusual. There is an unspoken belief on the part of academics that if they wished to waste their time any one of them could do what I do in terms of writing a horror or suspense novel.
A professor across the corridor from me writes a novel based on the life of Jane Austen and it is given high praise among our peers, and instantly stamped “literature”; I write a fast-paced historical thriller set in Chicago in 1893 and it is just another novel to throw on the stack. Admittedly, I have a large stack, some fifty published works to the single title about Jane
Austen, so I am surely looking like the ‘hack’ writer of the department, but I will tell you this: it takes an enormous amount of research, writing, editing, proofing, rewriting, more research, more editing, more writing to craft any novel, and we who write genre fiction, we work like dogs.
We work as hard if not harder than the person who labors for ten years over a so-called “literary work of genius” conceived first as a thesis.
In our own way, we successful genre authors are also creating works of genius in the sense that we know our tools and use them with skill unmatched by so many “classics” that are in fact chockfull of boredom, books with what I call a straight line to nowhere like the straight line you find on the monitor hooked to a dead patient. We genre authors know our field, we know what moves people, what prompts a reader to turn pages and even finish the book, no matter its length. We know how to create a real seismograph of action, no straight line dead chapter after chapter of inner monologue or passive descriptions that lose sight of actors
and action on the page or ‘stage’ if you will.
I cannot tell you how many so-called “literary classics” are read via Clift Notes and the book itself remains unfinished. This is certainly the case with Moby Dick, most of the works of Dickens, especially Bleak House (what a bleak book). Even my hero and spiritual mentor and guru, Mark Twain’s most famous novel failed to have a proper ending, classic that it is. But then Twain in his day was closer to a ‘genre’ author than he is today in hindsight. Academics love him now but they hated him during his lifetime, and Huckleberry Finn was banned from the outset of its publication not for the word nigger but for the fact his heroes were the
uneducated orphan and the runaway slave—the vulgarity of the whole of it, just SHOCKING to the sentiments of the day. Twain, Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Alexander Dumas, Shakespeare,Victor Hugo even wrote the ‘genre’ fiction of their day.
Simple as that. These writers wrote for the masses in their own time and not for academics or newscasters who may not have a clue as to what the world of fiction really, truly conveys; people who actually do not know what the word even means.
Getting back to the TV pundits and their flippant use of the word “fiction”. How can they use it as if it was interchangeable with the word LIE. Let me tell you that every honest TRUTH about the human condition and our bondage of the flesh, as well as our mental state is found in Shakespeare’s plays—his “fiction”. Fiction that predates Sigmund Freud yet is chockfull of psychoanalysis in Hamlet alone. All that we know of the human condition is found in FICTION – which is by many defined as ‘a pack of lies to prove a truth’. It comes from the Spanish word ficciones. Look it up some time.
What do you think? For me, fiction is art, and good fiction, entertaining fiction is a work of art that has taken perfect shape whether a gem of a short story, a novella, a novel, a film script, or a play. A shapely work of art which the careful author takes pains shaping—many pains over a
long-suffering time period but not ten years long-suffering, I would hope! I have taken four months to create a simple, straightforward horror novel, and on and off, I have taken years to complete other novels. Every project dictates its own time, it seems to me.
My most recent ‘horrible’ genre novel is a sequel to my Dr. Abraham Stroud, archeology meets the supernatural trilogy which I penned back in the 90s with a character I enjoy spending time with. Here in what others often consider a “schlocky” horror series, I do my utmost to make it shapely and artistic in its delivery to the reader, which is all we can hope from an author. Below is an excerpt with annotations on what I am thinking/doing at each point of the 300 word excerpt, opening pages of Bayou Wulf. The annotated opening I feel could be eye-opening and instructive of how this art of the novel works in my mind but certainly not everyone else’s.
Excerpted opening of BAYOU WULF by Robert W. Walker O N E Oasis Bayou, Oasis County, Louisiana 3:10 AM, March 14,2011 **establish setting, place, time, date immediately or as soon as possible.
There came a strange sound to Dr. Abraham Stroud’s ear, but then Stroud’s ear was always to the ground—two grounds in fact. Where he slept atop the Louisiana bayou earth made one
ground. The second came of that pesky steel plate in his head, which ‘grounded’ him in two worlds. It kept him alive in the reality other humans enjoyed, the so-called normal world, yes, but it also kept him attuned and in touch. It acted as his private, built-in, high-frequency radio to the paranormal world.**
** start in the middle of things going on NOW…establish crisis moment of drama as opening; if you can string along a metaphor (groundings in this case), do so.
Author & Poet
Marta Moran Bishop, is an author and poet. Ms. Bishop writes many books for children as well as for more mature audiences.