Posted in Interviews

Meet Jen Benjamin, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome Jen Benjamin to my blog.

jen-benjamin

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello and thanks for having me! I’m Jen Benjamin and I write romantic comedy/chick lit. It’s basically light reading that’s fun to write and (I hope!) fun to read.

How long have you been writing for?

Writing has been one of my favorite pastimes since I was pretty young. When I was really little, like ages 6 through 10, I used to write stories and try to get my friends to act them out. The pre-teen and early teen years were mostly spent writing lame poetry. (Poetry itself isn’t lame, but mine was!) I returned to stories in seventh or eighth grade and have been writing stories ever since.

What is your writing process like?

I don’t outline or anything like that. Basically, I make myself sit down. Sometimes I have to bribe myself. You think I’m kidding, don’t you? Well, I’m not. If I can just talk myself into turning on the computer or opening the notebook, I can get going. But it seems very daunting until I start. When I do start, I just go where the story takes me.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I don’t really have a routine. I usually write at night when everyone else is sleeping and I almost always have a sitcom playing in the background. And I usually write from beginning to end but every once in a while, I’ll have a scene that I have to get down while it’s still fresh in my mind. That’s rare and is the only time I write out of sequence.

What motivates you to write?

That is the hardest part of writing! Just getting motivated to DO IT. It feels impossible sometimes. There are times when I have to just force myself to start and I know that once I do, the words will flow. But sometimes I’ll have a story bouncing around in my head until it starts to drive me crazy and I simply MUST get it out of my head by putting it down on paper or screen.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

You know, I honestly don’t remember but, knowing myself as I do, I’ll bet I read through the whole manuscript again to try to catch anything that might be outrageously stupid.

Are you currently working on anything new?

I have another book coming out in April. It’s about Annie Gallagher, a small-town museum curator who believes that if she’s patient, Fate will bring love to her doorstep.

I do have some other stories and fragments bouncing around but I’m not sure which of those will come to fruition first.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

Oh, I have no idea. I used to want to be a history teacher. But I ended up making a career as a newspaper journalist before I decided to stay home with my kids.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

I think, for me, the easiest part is getting the story out. The hardest part, aside from, you know, actually turning on the computer, is tying the end up so that readers will be happy. I’m a person who is content with ambiguous endings when I’m reading, but I know that most readers want closure. I try to be true to the story and give the readers what they need. For me, it’s a fine line.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

An author will never make everyone happy. I cannot write a book that will appeal to everyone and trying to do that is a waste of time.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

I really read just about everything. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a long, wordy classic. Sometimes in the mood for something that requires zero thought. I can’t think of any one book that made me want to write. I have my head in the clouds a lot and sometimes those daydreams turn into a good plot and I want to write it down.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I have no clever advice. Just write. Just do it. You can’t just wait around for someday. But when you do have to wait, read, read, read!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I’d just like to tell you how grateful I am for this interview and how grateful I am to anyone who gives my stories a chance! I hope they make you smile. That’s really all I’m after.

About Jen

Jen Benjamin is a newspaper writer who enjoys fiction when she gets time away from writing facts. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, daughter and various furry creatures. When she isn’t writing, Jen enjoys photography, reading, catching re-runs of Frasier and playing the violin. She used to play the violin for church and various other events, but now just plays for herself (and still has nightmares about her one gig as a strolling violinist!).

You can email Jen at authorjenbenjamin@gmail.com, or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorjenbenjamin or on Twitter, @jenbenjam.

Jen’s Books

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Posted in Interviews

Meet Jessica Dall, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome Jessica Dall to my blog.

Jessica Dall

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a history nerd turned writer who, I think, has finally worked out how to properly join the two. I’ve written a little bit of everything at this point, but most recently have been focusing on my historical fantasy and just plain historical fiction works for the last year or so. It takes a good deal of work when you’re writing things in historical settings (especially since I’m a stickler for accuracy. I spent much longer than I should have looking up the moon phases in 1755 to make sure I had the right moon on a particular date in the work I’m shopping at the moment…) but I find it incredibly enjoyable being able to marry my two passions so completely.

How long have you been writing for?

My mom will tell you that I’ve been writing since before I actually knew how to write. As a four-year-old I would take pieces of paper and do a bunch of loops on them pretending it was cursive (before leaving the scribbled papers around and driving my mother crazy, of course). I didn’t seriously get into writing until much later, though. I dabbled in fan fiction early on in high school because my friend was very much into it, which then led me back into writing original works (though I entirely admit my first novel is pretty much Harry Potter with the characters’ names changed…) By college, I was fully immersed in writing once again, and it’s been my life since!

What is your writing process like?

Since I have recently been focused on settings that take a fair bit of research these days, I start out with my trusty friend Scrivener (a writing software) and begin researching. Most of the time that ends up getting a relevant book on my Kindle and then taking notes from it so I have a good background in the time period I’m using. From there I work out who my main characters are and how they fit into the events playing out around them. Since I’ve never been able to fully stick to an outline, I try not to over plan, though. If I have my beginning worked out, I’ll start that and then stop and plan again when I hit a snag. This often means that there are times when I’ll have to stop and do some more research along the way, but as I said I’m a history nerd, so I like the researching almost as much as the writing some days.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I admit I’ve never been good at sticking to a routine. I work from home most of the time, so I tend to have whatever I’m writing open in one tab with whatever editing work I have open in another and then bounce back and forth throughout the day whenever I need a change of pace. Some days that means I get thousands of words written, some days nothing (especially if I’m up against an editing deadline and my focus is entirely on that other work), but everything always seems to get done in the end, and so the system works for me!

What motivates you to write?

I always joke and say I have self-diagnosed hypergraphia (the compulsive need to write). Whether or not I actually do, I do get rather tetchy if I go too long without being able to write something, so it’s often not what motivates me to write but what keeps me from writing the times that I’m not. If you run into me sitting alone somewhere, you’re very likely to find me scribbling away wherever I am.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

The first time I got an acceptance, I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down then felt the need to tell everyone I know. Sadly I’m a little jaded at this point down the line, and so there hasn’t been jumping recently, but it’s still always an amazing feeling to hear that it isn’t just you who thinks your book is good and it really is going to get out there for the world to see.

Are you currently working on anything new?

There are a bunch of pans in the fire at the moment. I’m in edits for the third book in my historical fantasy series (currently titled Shattered Tempests) which will be out sometime this year if all goes as planned. I’m also shopping my straight historical fiction novel, set in Age of Enlightenment Portugal, which is a really interesting time period I knew absolutely nothing about before writing the book. As for writing, I’m in the early stages of working on a book set a little closer to home—namely colonial Maryland.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I actually have a political science degree, since in high school I was planning on going to Law School after college. It was an internship junior year that turned me on to being a writer/editor full-time (with some teaching on the side). I love what I do so much that it’s difficult to imagine being as happy in another profession, but I have to imagine I would now be somewhere in the legal profession, had I not had that switch in college (lawyer, paralegal, wherever life would have had me end up).

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest part of writing for me has always been dialogue. Once I develop my characters, they seem to take on a life of their own and writing dialogue becomes me trying to keep up with what they’re doing. Coincidentally, the hardest part is keeping everyone on track. I have a tendency to end up with conversations that don’t move the plot forward/add much that I know need to be cut but really like. I’ve started another document full of conversations that don’t add anything to the stories they were a part of but are too enjoyable to delete entirely.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

While your first novel is always going to be your baby, it likely isn’t going to be very good. There are certainly people who are the literary equivalent of Mozart and the first thing they put down on paper will be brilliant, but for the rest of the world, you will finish your first novel, think it’s amazing, and then look at it five years later and go “What was I thinking?” Writing is a skill. One that gets better the more you practice, and that means while your first novel will always have a special place in your heart, it likely isn’t the first thing you’ll want readers to see—not unless you edit it several years down the line once you have gone from “beginner” to “professional.”

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

Unsurprisingly, my favorite genres are what I’ve ended up writing—namely historical fiction and fantasy. When it comes to a favorite book, I have plenty, but the one that I tend to come back to is The China Garden by Liz Berry. I first read it in high school, and the historical and fantastical combination really spoke to me, I suppose. I still have the beat up copy in my bookshelf now and I pull it out from time to time since it has a brilliant sense of nostalgia mixed into the storyline now.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? 

Write. No matter how good or bad you feel you are doing, you need to keep going and put words on the page. As said above, writing is a skill, and you can only get better if you practice. And remember, there’s always editing. You can’t compare your rough draft to a completely edited, published book. Editing fixes many sins; it just can’t fix an empty page.

About Jessica

Jessica Dall finished her first novel at the age of fifteen and has been hooked on writing ever since. In the past few years, she has published novels such as, Raining Embers and The Paper Masque, along with a number of short stories that have appeared in both magazines and anthologies.

In college, Jessica interned at a publishing house, where her “writing hobby” slowly turned into a variety of writing careers. She currently works as both as an editor and creative writing teacher in Washington, DC.

Connect with Jessica

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jessica’s Books

raining-embersgraven-idols-hi-res

Buy Links

Raining Embers
Graven Idols

Posted in Interviews

Meet Phyllis Edgerly Ring, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome Phyllis Edgerly Ring to my blog.

Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Because I began life as an Army brat, and I’m a Baha’i, I value a world citizen’s perspective about where our human family is going on its shared journey.

My nonfiction books explore how to create balance between the spiritual and material aspects of life. I write fiction because, like so much of art, it can help us discover just what shape this balance is taking within our own lives. More than any other kind of writing, book-length fiction requires an absorption and immersion that will lead to what wants to be known and realized — in a story, and in a life. When a writer goes the distance with this, it allows mysterious unseen threads to weave into what both emotions and spirit can recognize as true and, in that recognizing, encounter what transcends this earthly life.

How long have you been writing for?

Since my teens and, in a focused way — selling and publishing work — since my late 20s. I wrote for magazines and newspapers, which was a great way to build the skills I now value and rely on as I write books.

What is your writing process like?

I allow whatever portion of a work that wants to come to reveal itself and I capture it down. I’ve never started at the beginning, but what the beginning is always becomes clear as I allow the process to reveal things in its own way, which is almost never in chronological order. Once enough pieces come into existence, they begin to show me how they connect and relate to each other, and what further directions to take. This, for me, is one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I’m possessive and protective about the start of my day (which may come even before the sun shows up) because of the quality of its energy. For newly arriving writing, this is the very best time. For revision work, late morning and late afternoon seem best. I don’t necessarily get words onto a page every day, but I am always writing – living with the work, and “noodling” and discovering more about it.

What motivates you to write?

The utter joy of it, immersion in this deeply absorbing and revealing experience. As some writers describe, it can be like living in my own movie. Plus, the research that most of my writing requires is a delight for nerdy me. It never feels like work, just pure delight in discovery, with inevitable surprises.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

Called my sister, who is also a writer, as was our mother. Then I went straight downtown to inform my wonderful local independent bookstore.

Are you currently working on anything new?

My first book for children, Jamila Does Not Want a Bat in Her House, is coming out this year. And my latest novel, The Munich Girl, keeps me busier as I interact with book clubs and other widening circles of readers, and offer presentations about it at libraries and such. I’ve also waded into 2 new projects. One is what I’d term spiritual memoir, based on my experience with writing The Munich Girl and some of the nearly inexplicable synchronicities that it brought. The other is historical fiction set in 19th-century New England.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

Something that incorporates the powerful role of story in human experience, and healing. I worked in the healing field early in my life. I learned that story plays an enormous part in how people heal, because it supports how they come to resolution, understanding, and eventually, find peace as they make meaning about life experience.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest: that it’s there waiting for me everyday, and I can pursue it anywhere I am in the world. Hardest (sometimes, at least), is that every writing work has its own timetable, directly related to the one connected with my own development, and that it’s wise not to try to force or speed up.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

If I am true to the nature of my own writing self, allow it to be the soul-led experience it is, the process will be enjoyable, full of discovery, even empowering. It will amaze me. And, I believe, it will be a part of what transforms me.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

Historical fiction has attracted me from my earliest (grade school) reading days. The first book I read on my own that made a huge impact on me (third grade) was a biography of the medieval life and work of St. Elisabeth.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read, persevere, learn craft — do all of these until you find both your voice and the process that works for you. Then relish the rewriting as much as you do the exciting early drafting that brings with it so much discovery. Also, learn how to be edited, so that you’re able to recognize when someone’s applying this fine skill to your work and it really does improve it, help you past your blind spots, etc.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I love hearing from readers with their thoughts and reflections about my books. They can contact me at info@phyllisring.com. Thanks very much for this opportunity, Rachel. ☺

Author bio:

Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and frequently serves as workshop facilitator and coach for others’ writing projects. Her published work includes fiction and inspirational nonfiction.

Connect with Phyllis Edgerly Ring:

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

Phyllis Edgerly Ring’s Books:

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Amazon | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Audible

Posted in Interviews

Meet Heena Rathore P., Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Heena Rathore P. to my blog.

Author Heena Rathore P.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thank you, Rachel, for having me on your blog.

I’m an introvert who likes to stay at home 99.9% of the times. I’m a movie buff and watch at least 2 latest releases every week in theatre and the old ones at home in the rest of the week. Being a book reviewer I get to read a lot and over all I read around a 100 books every year (or have done so from that last 3 years) – sometimes more, sometimes less.

My writing style is simple; I believe in writing stories that can be read and understood, and hence, be enjoyed by everyone (and not just literary geniuses.) My writing is a bit on the darker side and that is something that I have no reason for as it comes naturally to me. It’s probably the influence of the kind of books and movies I prefer.

How long have you been writing for?

I started writing in early 2014, so I’ve been writing full time for almost 3 years now.

What is your writing process like?

My writing process is quite simple. I generally keep a fixed timing for writing. In the mornings (either early or between 9-12am) but that’s not the case everyday. Sometimes the inspiration hits in the evening or sometimes in the middle of the dead of the night. So I write whenever I feel like it.

All I need to get going is a scented candle (mild one) and absolute quite. I can then write for hours.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

As I said I have a fixed schedule for writing, but that keeps on changing while working on different aspects of the book and also on my mood. But for most of the time this is the schedule I try and stick to – I’m a morning person, so I get up around 6 and make it a point to complete my exercise, yoga, Gratitude practice, and breakfast by 9:00 am. Then I sit for writing on my dining table (I have 2 dedicated study rooms, but the only place my creative mind likes is the dining table.)

I write continuously for 2-4 hours, meditating in between for 5 minutes every 45 minutes. Some days are good, but some days are a struggle, so I make it a point to complete at least 1500 words before getting up from the table. I follow this routine strictly for at least 5 days a week.

Then I read in the afternoons and if I feel like it again, I write for another hour or two in the evening or night again (this happens at least 3-4 days a week.)

Sometimes, if I skip the morning session, I do it in the evenings. Saturdays are mostly dedicated to other things so I write only for an hour on Saturdays. And Sundays are completely dedicated to spending quality time with my husband, so I never write on Sundays, except while participating in WriMos or meeting deadlines.

What motivates you to write?

I am a disciplinarian. The voice inside my head is more than enough to get me through anything, even writing. But on off days, I read stuff about by favorite writers and authors and that seem to work like a charm.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I cried, a lot! And then I celebrated with a bottle of red wine with my husband.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Yes, I’m presently working on my second novel, Sinister Town. It is a crime thriller with elements of horror and is based on the concept of ritual and cult killings.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I guess, Librarian, but I’m quite sure my family wouldn’t have let that happen. So I’ll say that if I would have not left my engineering college for finding the right path for me then I’d still be an Electronics and Telecommunication Engineer.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

Easiest part is writing itself and the revising. And the hardest part is the taxing amount of research that goes into a project. Sometimes the research is fun, but after a while researching about haunted stuff and psychopath and serial killers starts to get overwhelming.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Nothing. 

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

I love psychological thrillers and dark fantasy genre. I also enjoy apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stuff. So in general, I like dark genre. I wanted to be a writer since childhood, so there’s no single book that made me realize it as such. I guess it was the effect of the sum of all the books I’ve read in my life so far.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

My advice is always the same: Write only if you have a story inside you. Write if you have a passion for sharing that story with the world, and write only if you actually have the guts to sit down and write.
A lot of people don’t realize it, but writing needs a certain level of self-discipline. And if you think writing can be done without any discipline, then you might be able to write for a while, but you’ll never be able to do it consistently for long.

About Heena Rathore P.:

Heena Rathore Pardeshi is a novelist, novel critic, as well as a book reviewer. She is also an ace social media strategist and an acclaimed YouTube Podcaster. An award-winning writer, she has won several NaNoWriMos and JuNoWriMos since 2014.

Heena also manages her own book club, RMFAO on Goodreads.com.

A fan of crime-thrillers, apocalyptic fiction and slasher movies and series, she draws inspiration from the works of legendary writers such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Sidney Sheldon.

An introvert and free-thinker, Heena prefers neatness over chaos – in her fictional themes as well as in her real life. She has a special place for German Shepherds and books in her heart.

Heena is twenty-five years old and lives in Pune, India with her beloved husband, Vishal – a successful entrepreneur, in a house full of books, music, and love. Heena passionately creates vivid fictional worlds; some to read and cherish, and some to live in.

Connect with Heena Rathore P.:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | Goodreads | YouTube

Heena Rathore P.’s Book:

Deceived by Heena Rathore P.

How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.

A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.

A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.

And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, unwittingly to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the mist of deception bred from a long unforgiven betrayal.

Deceived will be available in 2017.

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Interviews, Writing

Meet Jasmine Farrell, Poet

It’s my pleasure to welcome poet Jasmine Farrell to my blog.

Jasmine Farrell

 Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a poet and an author. I published two collections of poetry, My Quintessence and Phoenixes Groomed as Genesis Doves. I write for Ayo Magazine and I like to dance to Charles Mingus and lil’ Kim when no one is watching. I am from Brooklyn, NY and I badly want a snow leopard.

How long have you been writing for?

Well, I’ve been writing since I was a child. However, I didn’t begin to take my poetry seriously until I was in high school. I attended Fashion Industries High school and during draping classes, I would be writing poetry instead of my assigned tasks. Probably why I did so poorly during Draping I.

What is your writing process like?

Free writing. I love free writing for a set amount of time and listening to music. Whenever I get inspired to write, I immediately let the words flow and call it a “word vomit” until I polish it up to become a poem.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

Not really. Unless I am writing an article for Ayo, I just simply write whenever I feel inspired to write. Excluding my personal journal writing, of course.

What motivates you to write?

Life motivates me to write. Autumn leaves, heartache, self-discovery, new beginnings, etc!

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I put on a pair of my “good socks” and slid around my house as though I was the flyest thing since clouds.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Yes, I am currently working on a novel. I won’t release what it is about yet.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I would have been a lawyer. A bitter, miserable and angry lawyer.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest part of writing for me is completing the last line of a story or a poem. The hardest part is continuing my poem or story after the first line. Oh, and grammar. Good God, grammar and punctuation are my enemies!

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Restricting yourself is for fools.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

My favorite book is, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. There wasn’t a special book that made me realize I wanted to write.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write EXACTLY what’s going on in your head. Write down your vividly awesome stories and make adjustments later. Don’t second guess your words before those words reach the paper.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken and someone needs your weird ass just the way you are.

About Jasmine Farrell:

Born in “the village” and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Jasmine Farrell is an author, poet, and blogger with a Bachelors in Communications.  She released her first book of poems in 2014, My Quintessence, about adolescent angst, self-acceptance, love and societal stances. Ms. Farrell’s work has been featured in The Heron Clan III, appeared in the Nyack College’s literary journal, The Fine Print, and she has been a guest blogger for WomenWithGifts.com, GreenNation.Org and FemPotential.com. She writes for Ayo Magazine and dances to Charles Mingus and lil’ Kim when no one is watching. Writing in her late Grandmother’s memo pads is included into her repertoire of writings. She has recently released her second collection of poetry, Phoenixes Groomed as Genesis Doves, May, 2016.

Connect with Jasmine Farrell:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter 

Buy Jasmine Farrell’s Books:

Phoenixes Groomed as Genesis Doves
My Quintessence

Posted in Author/Site Information, Interviews

Interview on Writer’s Treasure Chest

Happy Monday!

I don’t really have a post for you guys today, but I wanted to share something with you.

The lovely Aurora over at Writer’s Treasure Chest was kind enough to interview me and showcase me on her blog.

Aurora posts a wide variety of different things such as author spotlights, guest posts, her own creative pieces, articles about writing, and reblogs. She loves to share the work of others as well as her own work.

So, please, go check out her blog and give it a follow if you’re not already. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Aurora’s Blog | My Interview

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