Posted in Author Q&As

Author Q&A: Anne Montgomery

9780996390149_p0_v2_s192x300Yesterday, I shared my review of the fabulous book, The Scent of Rain by Anne Montgomery. Now, we get to hear more details about the book and Anne’s own true experience with the people of Colorado City as well as what she has coming up next!

Enjoy!

What inspired you to take on this subject?

The ideas for all of my books come from current events. I am an admitted news junkie and have been reading the newspaper front to back daily for about 40 years. I’ve learned that truth is often far stranger than fiction. Stories about the polygamists in Colorado City are often in the news here in Arizona. I had never heard about the cult until I moved here and was shocked that such a group could exist today in the US. In regard to Rose, the 16-year-old protagonist, I am a teacher in a Title I high school in Phoenix. Many of my students come from difficult and disadvantaged backgrounds. I am also a foster mom. I have seen what abuse and neglect can do to children first hand.

Many of the non-FLDS characters describe the hostility they face from the residents of Colorado City and at the end of the book, you said you traveled to Colorado City for inspiration and experienced similar treatment. What was that like?

I find it impossible to write stories without actually visiting the locations where my characters live, so I recruited a friend and we drove to Colorado, City. We concocted a story about looking for a place to retire. As we studied the community, children stared at us as if we were monsters. They are told that outsiders are devils. We drove around town, stopping at the the local market, the shuttered public school, the grave yard, and the leader’s palatial estate. I’m pretty sure we were being followed, at times. It was very disconcerting. I’m not afraid of many things, but I have to admit I was uncomfortable while doing research on site and have no desire to go back.

What other research did you do for the book?

As a former reporter, I greatly enjoy digging for a story. I read articles about Colorado City and conducted interviews with people who had lived or worked in the community, including Flora Jessop, who escaped twice from the cult and today works with the Child Protection Project: an anti-child abuse group that helps women and girls escape from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The stories Flora told me were so harrowing that to this day I have not listened to the three-hour recording of our interview session. The images were burned into my brain. I also interviewed Dr. Theodore Tarby who bravely confronted the cult members, asking them to refrain from marrying and reproducing with their close relatives, after he discovered that the cause of the awful birth defects in the community were the result of incest. Unfortunately, Dr. Tarby was ignored.

Many scenes in the book are very emotional and are based on real-life FLDS decrees and beliefs. How did you decide what to include in the book? 

I took into account the stories that Flora Jessop relayed and, when possible, I gave those experiences to Rose. I find it interesting that some readers have been put off by certain scenes and have suggested that I have overplayed the situation. But the vast majority of the information I wrote about came directly from my interviews with Flora and Dr. Tarby. I also included information gleaned from newspaper articles and TV reports.

What do you hope people take away from the book?

Be aware of what’s happening around you and speak up when warranted. Some characters in “The Scent of Rain” are kind, well-meaning people, but they don’t acknowledge what’s happening right under their noses. Mistreatment of people, especially children, is something no one should tolerate, and no belief or religion should be a mask for abuse.

What are you working on next?

Two of my books that were previously published are to be soon to be reissued. “A Light in the Desert” is a soft-thriller involving a Vietnam veteran who is succumbing to a strange form of mental illness called the Jerusalem Syndrome, a pregnant teenager, and the deadly, real-life, cold-case sabotage of an Amtrak train in the Arizona desert. “Nothing But Echoes” is historical fiction that deals with the discovery of a fabulous tomb in Northern Arizona that reveals a man interred 900 years ago who doesn’t look like the pueblo people who buried him, and which leads to questions about archeological looting, the black market sale of antiquities, and when Europeans first arrived in the Americas. “The Castle,” which tells the story of a female National Park ranger who is a rape survivor and the serial rapist who is stalking her, is currently being offered to publishers.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

First, don’t quit your day job. It’s extremely difficult in the ever-changing of world of publishing to make a living as an author. And remember that authors are not just story tellers. In order to be successful, they must be marketers and bloggers and speakers. Also, an author will not survive without extremely thick skin. Rejections can wear you down, but they are part of the process. When someone says no, politely ask why. Respect the person’s opinion and see what you can do better. Obviously, writers must write. When you finish that perfect novel, take a few breaths then write another one. Publishers are not looking for a one-hit wonder. They want to sign people who produce lots of books. Finally, try not to take the ups and downs of publishing too seriously. If you have a sense of humor and appreciate those baby steps forward, you will be a much happier author.

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Posted in Book Extras, For Fun

#Blog Tour: Project Pandora – Guest Post with author Aden Polydoros and more!

 

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Welcome to my stop on the Project Pandora tour! I’m so excited to share information about this great book with all of you – including a guest post by author Aden Polydoros! Enjoy!

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Links:

Link to Goodreads

Purchase Links: Amazon – B&N – iBooksKobo

Giveaway Details: Project Pandora Prize Pack (US) or a $10 Amazon Gift card (INT)

Book Description:

EntTeen-01224-webbanner-ad2-STATIC(800x800)opt2Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening—waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight— Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself.

Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions…questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right? And what happens to rogue assets who defy control?

In a race against the clock, they’ll have to uncover the truth behind Project Pandora and take it down—before they’re reactivated. Good thing the program spent millions training them to kick ass…

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Guest Post by Aden Polydoros: How to Handle Pressure: Writing Under Deadlines

I have never been great at deadlines. I have a natural tendency to procrastinate on my work and wait until the last minute to finish it. However, with writing, I have found that it is easier for me to meet deadlines than when I’m working on schoolwork or other tasks. I have also come up with different strategies to compensate for my procrastination.

It is important to approach writing as a job. Although I love to write and hope to make a full-time career out of writing, I don’t want to view writing as a hobby. If I allow myself to fall into that line of thought, completing work by deadlines will seem less important to me and I might procrastinate more than usual.

For me, there are two different kinds of deadlines for my writing: Those I choose for myself and those that are given to me. The deadlines I have created are usually very short term goals, like write 1,000 words a day or complete this chapter by the end of the week. By thinking about it like that, the process of writing a novel becomes less daunting. I don’t have to worry so much about completing an entire novel, and can divide my work into small, manageable tasks.

This was one of the strategies I used while working on Project Pandora. I made a list:

  • Overall goal: Aim for 1,000 words a day
  • Specific goals:
    Add more status reports
    Add a romantic scene
    Make an event calendar to check for consistency
    Check for name and appearance consistency
    Research the D.C. metro system
    Write an outline for second half of the book
    Change names

I try to approach editor-enforced deadlines in a similar fashion. For example, let’s say that I have to complete edits by September 31st and it is currently September 1st. Before I even begin edits, I make a list of what I have to do based off of my editor’s notes. I estimate the amount of words that will need to be added to the manuscript. In the case of Project Pandora, I added 40,000 words to my 65,000 manuscript over the course of the editing process. I had aimed to add only 25,000 words, but when I reached that goal, found that there was still so much more to elaborate upon. I had aimed for 1,000 words added and one chapter edited each day. When I began to increase my workload, it felt like I was accumulating bonus points at a game instead of just meeting a deadline. I tried to beat each day’s previous “score”, and in doing that, the process of editing actually became more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise.

Which brings me to my next point: it’s important to enjoy what you are doing if you want to meet deadlines. When so much creativity and emotion goes into writing, if you are miserable at what you are doing, it will show. Even if you don’t think that your story needs a specific edit or that one chapter is good as is, it is important not to become resentful about the deadline. I try to approach writing as a job, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun while doing it.

I try to set awards for myself for each goal I complete. Usually, these are small things, such as watching a certain show on Netflix, going somewhere fun, or eating one of my favorite foods. If you are also motivated by rewards, what you can do is set aside some money after completing each task. Maybe you put two or three dollars in a jar after completing each chapter. Once you reach the deadline and submit your writing, you can spend the money on something special that you have been wanting to buy. It will make the purchase even more enjoyable, knowing that you met the deadline on time.

One of the most important things to keep in mind while working with deadlines is that if you don’t have time, make time. If a deadline is quickly approaching, I will write on the bus or train, or while in the waiting room during doctor appointments. If I don’t have my journal or laptop near me, I write on my phone. You can also dictate on your phone. If necessary, I cancel plans to meet with friends so that I can make a deadline.

Aside from that, it’s also important to mention that you should keep your emotional and mental health in check. Completing deadlines is actually very stress-relieving for me, but there are times when I feel completely overwhelmed with the task ahead. If I also have other problems in my daily life, this only worsens my stress. That being said, if you have something going on or there is an emergency, don’t beat yourself up over not meeting a deadline.

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About the Author

Aden PolydorosAden Polydoros grew up in Long Grove, Illinois, the youngest of three children. Aden’s family moved to Arizona when he was in second grade. As a kid, he spent much of his time exploring the desert near his home. When he wasn’t searching for snakes and lizards, he was raiding the bookshelves of the local library. As a teenager, Aden decided that he wanted to be a writer. He spent his free time writing short stories. He was encouraged by his English teacher to try his hand at writing a novel, which inspired him to begin PROJECT PANDORA. The YA thriller is set for publication with Entangled Publishing in Summer of 2017. He is represented by Mallory Brown of Triada US.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Posted in Author Q&As

Author Q&A: Affinity Konar, “Mischling”

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To celebrate the paperback release of the amazing and emotional read, “Mischling,” I got a chance to ask author Affinity Konar some questions about the novel. I am a big fan of her debut work so I am thrilled to share her answers with you!

And if you haven’t read the book yet, go get a copy; you won’t be disappointed.


Why was this subject important for you to write about?
It was so important to me actually, that I wanted to not write it. My family left Poland in 1932, and were harbored safely in America, so while I was growing up I always felt pulled back to the period, and to what could have been, if my ancestors weren’t offered this refuge. I think it’s necessary to live with that warning in the back of your mind, especially today, to let it echo in remembrance. When I was a teenager, I found the story of the twins in Children of the Flames by Lucette Lagnado, and so many of the testimonies approached questions of to how to retain one’s own humanity, how to survive, resist, and attempt to restore oneself after unimaginable trauma. After I read that, I couldn’t stop imagining a conversation between a pair of twins whose bond was their refuge, their means to survival.


How did you find the balance between such a dark subject and an ultimately uplifting story?
The trickiness of finding that balance is one of the reasons that the book took so long to write. One doesn’t want to impose any kind of veneer that might lessen the trauma of a very real experience. But I wanted to pay tribute to stories of incredible endurance that I can’t help but be inspired by, specifically because they arose out of the extreme darkness of Shoah. So managing this element came down to voice for me, in the end. The imagery that arises out of the voices of Stasha and Pearl may be charming, but they function as veils for horror. It was my hope that the very necessity for these veils–or the fact that the girls would resort to such transformative thinking–would magnify the true peril that they endure.


What is your advice to aspiring authors?
I have to quote Sarah Manguso from “300 Arguments”. “I’ve written whole books to avoid writing other books.” That was my life for a long time. Nothing that came out of that avoidance was very good. So I’d say that honoring your desire to write about what scares you most is important. If it’s not terrifying you on a certain level, if might feel necessary enough to bring out the best you have to offer as a writer. Also, oatmeal is cheap and nutritious when times are lean, dogs are good for getting you out of the house, and you should read everything you can, whether you’re drawn to the text or not, because it all informs the kind of stance you’ll take on the page


What are you working on next?
It feels odd to talk about this, because this book has felt like my life’s work, and I honestly never expected to finish it, much less start another. But I have found myself writing in hotel rooms while touring, so I guess I won’t be stopping any time soon? It’s currently in chaos, but it’s a chaos centered by a search for meaning and restoration, and I suspect that this is an element that will always be afoot in whatever I attempt to do.



About the Author

2894415Affinity Konar was raised in California. While writing MISCHLING, she worked as a tutor, proofreader, technical writer, and editor of children’s educational workbooks. She studied fiction at SFSU and Columbia. She is of Polish-Jewish descent, and currently lives in Los Angeles.

She dearly misses writing about Pearl and Stasha, and is grateful to any reader who might find the company of the twins.

Posted in Author Q&As

Author Q&A: Justin W.M. Roberts

34122259I’m thrilled to be able to talk with another author about work and their craft. Justin W.M. Roberts, author of the action-packed “The Policewoman,” took some time to share his thoughts on his characters and his experiences as a writer.

– Where did the idea for this novel come from?

Drug trafficking is a problem faced by every country. It’s big business and it’s a matter of time drug cartels will try to take over a country.

 

– This novel not only had action, but a lot of emotion too – laughter, romance, etc. How did you balance that in your writing?

Well, the life a real police officer is not one action sequence to the next. In fact, 99% of it is boring. This book is art imitating the life of a police officer, albeit an extraordinary life.

– Why did you choose a female protagonist? 

Good question! This book is more of a military action thriller than a crime fiction novel. Since there aren’t any female officers in the UK’s Special Air Service, I need the main protagonist to be a female so there can be a romance element in the book.

– What authors do you enjoy reading in your spare time?

I enjoy reading Tom Clancy, JK Rowling, Andy McNab, and Chris Ryan

– What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Just write! Send your work to a lot of people so they can send their feedback.

– What are you working on next?

The Policewoman is book one of a series. I’m currently writing the sequel.


About the Author

Justin W.M. Roberts was born in London, son of a British Army General, and grew up in Hong Kong, Germany, and England. After graduating from Hull university with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Psychology, he continued traveling and living Europe, Africa, and Asia.

He currently lives in Indonesia where he is an analyst of political affairs and an active promoter of secular humanism.

Authors of military thrillers are welcome to PM him (on Goodreads) for book reviews.

Posted in Author Q&As, Book Extras

Goodreads celebrates “Mystery and Thriller Week” with Lisa Jackson Q&A!

NI’ve made no secret about the fact that Lisa Jackson is one of my favorite authors – so I was so excited to see that she is one of the authors featured in the Q&A section of Goodreads’ “Mystery and Thriller Week” feature.

Goodreads users were able to submit questions for Jackson to answer about writing, publishing and her characters.

Here’s my favorite bits below:

Continue reading “Goodreads celebrates “Mystery and Thriller Week” with Lisa Jackson Q&A!”

Posted in Book Extras

“Dead Letters” book signing!

Today, Claire Dolan-Leach, author of the suspense-filled “Dead Letters,” did a book signing in my area! I was super excited to meet her after enjoying her novel.

She was really sweet in person and excited to share her first novel. I’m really looking forward to her future works, as this young author shows so much potential.

Read my review here!

Here’s a link to a Nylon Magazine article with more about the book and Dolan-Leach.


I usually get timid at these events, since I’m trying not to fangirl too much, I forget everything I want to say!

Dead Letters is available now!