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Archive for October, 2015

Please give a big welcome to JORDYN REDWOOD.

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rem: Thank you, Jordyn for being on my blog this week.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

JORDYN: I’m a pediatric ER nurse by day—suspense author by night. I’m married with two beautiful daughters. I was born in Wyoming but raised in Colorado. I lived in Kansas for about thirteen years after graduating from nursing school but have been back living in Colorado since 2006.

rem: Colorado is beautiful country – I lived there for sixteen years and I miss it sometimes. How does your medical side balance with your writing life?

JORDYN: One is a gift to the other. Writing helps me process all the emotions that stem from nursing and my medical background has given me the knowledge to write medical thrillers. I put aside writing to do nursing and sometimes kick myself for doing that but as the saying goes . . . God wastes nothing and I think my two passions have blended nicely.

rem: What a blessing to recognize that balance, and what an excellent outlet for your emotions. Tell us three things about yourself.

JORDYN: I’m a tea addict. I have enough tea to survive the apocalypse—or so my husband says. I’m an avid cross stitcher and sometimes quilter. I’m mildly addicted to the game Friendly Fiends.

rem: I, too, am a tea addict, have said for years my blood type is A-tea-positive… What was / were your favorite book(s) as a child?

JORDYN: The earliest books I can remember reading and coveting were Shel Silversteins’s poetry books. In my high school years, my love for suspense started with Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. Honestly, I don’t think my mother realized what those books were about but it’s the first time I ever said, “I’m pigging out on this book. I don’t want it to end!”. That’s when I also fell in love with Dean Koontz.

rem: Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

JORDYN: I tend to not reread books. But the one book I have gifted over and over and will reread is Six Hours One Friday by Max Lucado. I think it’s his best one.

rem: Max Lucado is great. What is your most treasured possession?

JORDYN: My most treasured possessions are the handmade things from the women in my family. Quilts. Afghans. When I got married, my grandmother typed all of her German recipes on an old fashioned typewriter and gave it to us as a wedding gift.

rem: What a wonderful gift! What is your greatest fear?

JORDYN: My children dying before me.

rem: I can understand that, a few people in my life and in my family have experienced that and I honestly can’t imagine anything more heart wrenching. What is your greatest regret?

JORDYN: I abandoned writing when I went to nursing school and didn’t pick it up again until my early thirties. I should have continued to write and develop my craft through my twenties.

rem: What is it they say about hindsight? I didn’t even start writing seriously until after I turned fifty… What is your favourite quotation and why?

JORDYN: I actually heard commentator Bill O’Reilly say once—“Things are never as bad or as good as they seem.” I find this true in a lot of ways and it helps me stay centered when I start to worry about things I can’t control.

rem: Wise words, perspective sometimes is everything. What do you most value in a friend?

JORDYN: I think I value loyalty the most. Those people that stand next to you when things are tough—when you can’t see through the current crisis to the other side.

rem: Not much of a friendship without loyalty. What do you do as a hobby?

JORDYN: I quilt and cross stitch.

rem: Love both of those, never tried either… Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?

JORDYN: Dogs. Maybe it’s because they’re such loyal creatures as well!

rem: Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

JORDYN: Peril is my favorite book that I’ve written. It deals with the issue of whether or not the phenomenon of cellular transfer of memory exists which is where people who get an organ transplant develop tastes or have memories from the person they got the organ from. If you want to see the Planned Parenthood issue dealt with in a Christian way—then I would have people read this book.

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rem: I’ve read Poison and Proof, (loved them both!) and will be reading Peril to include in my November Blog Blitz for the launch of my second novel. Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

 

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JORDYN: Suspense is my favorite genre to read but I also read a lot of nonfiction for research. My favorite authors are Dean Koontz, Harlan Coben, Lisa Gardner, and Linwood Barclay.

rem: What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

 

JORDYN: I wish I could say I had a writing routine. The way I approach my writing commitments is basically a form of triage. What is due first usually gets my focus. I actually think this isn’t a good way to manage my writing career. I’m trying to fix that—to not be so reactionary to my schedule. I have an awesome writing cave that my husband built for me.

 

rem: Never thought of applying “triage” to writing, but I do basically the same thing! And awesome sauce to your hubby for building your cave! Tell us a little about your writing journey.

 

JORDYN: I’ve always loved to write stories since I was a little girl. As soon as I could write sentences—I was writing stories. As I said, I gave up writing for a “real job” for over fifteen years. After my first daughter was born, I convinced my husband to get me a laptop so I could begin to write down all these crazy stories in my head. I became involved with a local writer’s group and began to go to local conferences to see if “people in the know” thought I had any talent. That was around 2003. About six years later published authors were telling me my writing was good enough to get an agent. That happened in 2009. My first publishing contract came in 2011. First novel published in 2012. It’s true when they say it takes six to ten years to learn the craft of writing.

 

rem: As I mentioned earlier, I started writing late in life, but have come to recognize God-appointed seasons; methinks what you’ve just described sounds like such seasons.

What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

JORDYN: Writing the first draft is a struggle for me. It’s such a mind game. One day—your words are brilliant. The next day—you want to toss your computer into a big metal grinder and destroy it. I’ve learned that all first drafts need work so just get the words on the page.

 

rem: Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

JORDYN: My favorite part of writing is actually research. I could research forever and never get tired of it. I love it because I love learning and taking what I’ve learned and turning it into stories.

 

rem: Meeee toooo!! I love the research, and have reams of trivia that never makes it to the story! (filed away for future use, of course!) What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

JORDYN: Getting reader e-mails is the best thing ever. Connecting with readers. Knowing that the words you’ve written have helped someone through their day or challenged their thinking on some level is addicting.
rem: Hearing from readers who love what you’ve (I’ve) written – nothing like it! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer?
JORDYN: 1. Write what you want to write. Someone told me once that I should write magazine articles to develop a writing resume to increase my chances of getting a book published. I just didn’t see the value of that. If I want to write books—then that’s what I should practice doing. If I want to write magazine articles then I should do that. rem: I agree!

 

  1. Write a complete first draft and then let people critique it. For years, I was stuck on the first thirty-thousand words of my novel because I would write some, let people read it, and then I felt like I had to change what they didn’t like about it. This kept me from developing my own voice.

 

  1. Be open to writing opportunities that you consider outside your genre. My first published work was a chapter in a medical textbook that dealt with nursing care of an abusive head trauma patient. I was asked to write it by a physician I had worked with in the Pediatric ICU—after I left. I’d never mentioned to her that I wanted to be a writer. It was a total gift. A great learning opportunity because I wasn’t as emotionally connected with the writing as I am with my fiction stories. It was more like writing a research paper. The experience was invaluable.

rem: Good recommendations. Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

JORDYN: My latest book is currently titled The Hangman’s Noose and is set to release July, 2016. It was my entry for Love Inspired’s Blurb to Book contest. Next, I’ll be going through edits of my first indie book and writing two or three book proposals. Becoming part of the Love Inspired family has been a true gift and I hope to do many more books with them.

rem: Congratulations on being part of Love Inspired! And congratulations on your new book! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

JORDYN: I think the central theme of my books is God’s sacrificial love for us and what that means. I hope, even though it is a scary tale you’re reading, that’s what you see at the end of the story.

rem: Some of what we read in the Bible are pretty scary – getting thrown in a lion’s den? And doesn’t God’s love make a way always! I like that about your books, by the way. Thanks for joining us today, Jordyn. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

#jordynredwood, #authorinterview, #ernurse, #proof, #poison, #peril, #thehangmansnoose

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party

We are having a Cover Release Party for Pepper D. Basham’s second historical romance, The Thorn Keeper, set to release in February 2016. Pepper’s debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, arrived in May 2015 and has been met with fantastic reviews.

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A few notes of praise for The Thorn Bearer:

“Tucked inside a wonderful romance, you will find more depth here than most books you’ll ever read.” – Charity Andrews

“Wonderfully story-telling, a realistic faith journey, memorable prose and a dry wit that I appreciate very much all make this book one I won’t soon forget.” Cathy West

“From the opening scene to the end, I was completely caught up in this amazing tale about forgiveness, second chances, and even blooming in the middle of pain.” Candace Joy

“This just-released debut is a special one. The historical pieces of the puzzle were there and added a great punch – and often surprise – to the story, but the real focus of The Thorn Bearer was about the people and their faith in God. Books like this make me so happy to be a reader and reviewer.” Savanna Kaiser

As we look forward to the second book’s release, here’s a little blurb to tempt you.

With her past in shambles, how can she fashion a future of hope?

Catherine Dougall’s past of manipulation has left her future in threads. With a new faith, she longs to take the remnants of her life and make something beautiful, but shame, societies’ judgments, and the natural consequences of an unplanned pregnancy test her newfound hope. Dr. David Ross doesn’t help either. His kindness, sacrifice, and tenderness tempt her to impossible dreams. A fallen woman doesn’t merit a fairytale.

David Ross has made every effort to keep his life above reproach. His passion for the sick pump fresh purpose through his choices, but without financial support to maintain his war hospital, all is lost. When his notorious aunt offers an easy solution, David is tempted to give in to her demands, but his growing affection for the reformed flirt, Catherine Dougall, unwinds the careful wall around his heart and offers an unexpected choice.

When the worst of war tears them apart, can love renew the memory of what was lost or will tragedy steal away their hope forever.

From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who designs a masterpiece out of brokenness and fashions hope in the most unlikely places.

This book has many of the same things enjoyed in book one – historical details, deep emotions, adventure, humor…and, of course, romance. (an extra dose of romance in this one)

So without further ado, we introduce The Thorn Keeper – available February 1, 2016 from Vinspire Publishing.

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And…don’t forget that Pepper’s first contemporary romance novel will be available in January 2016! A Twist of Faith is a modern retelling of My Fair Lady with an Appalachian twist.

Leave a comment for your chance to win a digital advanced review copy of The Thorn Keeper, which will be sent to the winners near the end of November!!

What’s one thing you like about this cover? Or, if you read The Thorn Bearer, what was one thing you enjoyed about Pepper’s debut?

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Pepper D. Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. She writes a variety of genres, but enjoys sprinkling her native culture of Appalachia in them all. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she works with kids who have special needs, searches for unique hats to wear, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at her writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of Seymour Literary Agency. The Thorn Bearer is Pepper’s debut novel and the first book in the Penned in Time series. You can learn more about her at www.pepperdbasham.com.

#pepperbasham, #coverrevealparty, #thethornbearer, #thethornkeeper, #blueridgemountaing, #appalachia #historicalfiction, #romance

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Please give a big welcome to CARLA GADE.

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rem: Thank you, Carla for being on my blog this week.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

CARLA: I was raised in the historic New England town of Wrentham, Massachusetts where we celebrated its tri-centennial when I was in grade school (this fostered my love for history). For the past 13 years, I’ve lived in central Maine with my husband, near my two adult sons and 2 yr. old grandson.

rem: I love history! Historical fiction is my favorite genre to read. Tell us three things about yourself.
CARLA: I’m creative, a deep thinker, and I adore classic movies.

rem: What was / were your favorite book(s) as a child?

CARLA: Harold and the Purple Crayon (I could always relate to his imagination), and the Tell Me Why children’s question and answer books (always inquisitive!).

rem: I can relate to both the imagination and inquisitiveness also. If you could chose to be a character in a book, who would it be and why?
CARLA: Galadriel from Lord of the Rings. She’s so magnificent, ethereal, and wise.

rem: Great choice, good reasons. What is your most treasured possession?

CARLA: Next to my laptop or iphone, lol, my Bible. Yet, since I read that in a variety of forms now, I would say my family photo album from my childhood.

rem: What is your greatest fear?
CARLA: Bats

rem: Oh, I like bats – they eat mosquitoes! What is your greatest regret?
CARLA: I don’t do regrets. I find it best not to dwell on mistakes because when I submit them to the Lord I find that He redeems and redirects my life.

rem: What a wise and lovely attitude to have. I admire that. What is your favorite quotation and why?

CARLA: “A true imagination is beholding a truth of God,” by 19th century Scottish storyteller George MacDonald. It reminds me that any worthy and creative idea I have only comes from the mind of God. He is the true Author and Creator.

rem: We do think a lot alike. What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?
CARLA: I admire men who respect women and women who respect themselves, and vice versa.

rem: Respect cannot be overlooked, both for self and for others. What do you do as a hobby?
CARLA: I enjoy drawing house plans. One of them will be built in the spring by a relative. I also enjoy photography and genealogy.

rem: House plans? Well this one surprised me! I’m an Interior Designer, so yeah, I love drawing house plans!

Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?
CARLA: Cats. I just lost my 15 year old calico kitty, Briar Rose, but we still have 3 year old orange tabby, Dasha.

rem: Sorry to hear about your sweet Briar Rose. I’m a cat person also. (some might say crazy cat lady) What would you do if you weren’t writing?
CARLA: I was formerly a webmaster and graphic designer and stopped when my writing responsibilities became my priority. So, I suppose I would still be busy with that.
rem: Tell us about your blog, Relatively Speaking. Who is your favorite ancestor you’ve discovered? The most interesting? The baddest? What prompted you to look up your ancestry?

CARLA: Relatively Speaking is my family history blog. It’s a place to share and record my adventures in genealogy. Mostly I post about my New England family heritage (a great deal of my ancestors were first settlers in 17th century Massachusetts) and my husband’s similar history. I also post what I can regarding our Scandinavian roots (I am half Swedish and my husband half Norwegian). I’ve been fascinated with my ancestors since childhood. My grandmother told me we were “Yankee” so I wanted to find out just what that meant. Basically, we are a European blend on that side: English, Welsh, and Scottish with some Mayflower connections and even several royal lines.

My 10x great-grandfather, John Howland, is one of my favorite ancestors. He actually fell off the Mayflower during the crossing and was rescued. Had he not been, I would have not been. 😉 Mary Towne Estey, my 10x great-grandmother, was executed as a witch in Salem, MA in 1692.
Tried alongside other ancestors, and condemned also by ancestors in the hysteria. Rev. Nicholas Noyes was the officiating clergy during the Salem Witch Trials. He later regretted and apologized for his involvement, though not before sending many to their grave. Such a tragedy. Great-great-grandchildren of Howland and Estey married some years later, thus my maternal line on my great-grandmother’s side. Imagine the stories they had to tell to their children!

rem: I, too, am fascinated by ancestry and genealogy.

Tell us a little about your writing journey. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

CARLA: A life-long writer, I began writing fiction with a goal of publication about 15 years ago. I got my first publishing contract in 2010 and now have 8 books which have released. I don’t have much of a writing routine, except when I have a project such as a proposal or contract I’m working on. Then I’m basically “on.” I spend a great deal of time researching, planning, plotting, and characterizing. I write fairly methodically, intuitively, for hours on end, a chapter at a time. I send each chapter to my “first editor” (Mom), and as she is busy with her red pen, I continue writing. She returns her edits, we discuss, I make revisions, rinse, and repeat until “the end.” The only time I really “draft” is when I get a brainstorm and I either write in a notebook or on my laptop whatever the story is telling me and then I try to make sense of it later. I write in my nest, which is empty most of the time, except for on occasion when I have caregiving responsibilities.

 

rem: I love that you say “… write … whatever the story is telling me…” I’m totally a pantser and totally get what you mean by that. What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

CARLA: Over the past few years I have had to write through significant grief on several occasions. When you are numb inside it is hard to locate the muse. I always pray as I write for inspiration, but I never prayed so hard as when I have a writing commitment feeling like a dry well. God is faithful and as long as I plant myself down, he gets my fingers dancing again.

 

rem: He really is faithful. I’m amazed how much more productive I am when I take 20 or 30 minutes or more and sit with Him before I start writing. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

CARLA: Creating. I find the publisher’s line edits very tedious. It’s hard work to write a book well.

 

rem: You’ve got that right! I had a friend comment that exact thing recently, just watching me in my process. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
CARLA: I love being able to have the flexibility to work at home and other places. I also immensely enjoy the research involved for my projects.

rem: I love my research! And I’ve said for years, in half jest, that I can literally sit on a beach and read a book and call it work… wink wink What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
CARLA: The hardest thing may be conforming to the publisher’s specifications and editorial recommendations for “your” story. Once you sign the contract you really must let go of your precious creation and trust others with it. The easiest? I’d say enjoying interaction with readers.

rem: Ouch to letting go. I had a hard enough time letting go of my concept for my cover, remember, artist here. And I love interacting with readers, as well as other authors. What are your recommendations for a new writer?
CARLA: You must believe you are a writer! Network with experienced writers online and off. Learn the craft of writing well, but don’t get so bogged down with all the “rules” that it zaps your creativity – apply a principle at a time and build on it. Join a critique group (with higher skilled writers) and welcome the process of creative growth. Don’t be prideful and take things personally – your writing is a product, not a person. Do not disregard industry standards and recommendations for craft and professionalism.

rem: I joke that my first rule is to know the rules and then ignore them! LOL I think you’ve displaced that: new first rule, believe you are a writer. I love that. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
CARLA: Oftentimes from historical places and museums and antique books. I try to image “what if” or find a hidden nugget of a real historical person or event and build around it.
rem: And thus, historical fiction is alive and well. Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?
CARLA: I read mostly inspirational historical fiction. A few of my favorite authors are MaryLu Tyndall, Laura Frantz, Julie Klassen, Ruth Axtell, and many more.

rem: Tell us a little about your latest book?
CARLA: My new release, The American Dream Romance Collection, actually includes a previously published book, Colonial Courtships with my novella, “Carving a Future”, along with five other novellas (nine in all). I tell the story of a ship’s figurehead carver who is working as a journeyman and on his way to become a master carver. He is commissioned to carve the image of the story’s heroine, an indentured servant who works at his family’s inn in 18th century Connecticut.

 

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rem: Intriguing premise. And now, of course, I must read it! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?
CARLA: My hero and heroine both have to labor in difficult circumstances. I hope my readers can be encouraged to work in service to Christ, above all, in whatever we do, and seek our reward from him, not others who may disappoint.

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rem: That’s a powerful message in that answer you just gave. What is your current project?
CARLA: I’m working on a novel about Swedish immigrants, as my paternal grandparents were. In fact, one of my primary research resources in an antique tome about Swedes that belonged to them. I made the author of that book a character in my story.

rem: Where can we find you online?
CARLA:

Media Links:

Website – www.carlagade.com
Blog – https://familyhistory.wordpress.com
Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.com/Carla-Olson-Gade/e/B007W4ZZOS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1402802534&sr=8-1

Facebook – http://tinyurl.com/facebookcogauthor
Twitter – @ carlagade
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/prov33
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/carlaolsongade

 

rem: Thanks for joining us today, Carla. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

#carlaolsongade, #authorinterview, #theamericandream, #colonialcourtship, #mistletoememories, #patternforromance, #theshadowcatchersdaughter

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Please give a big welcome to MARK DAVID GERSON.

 

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rem: Thank you, Mark David for being on my blog this week.

Tell us three things about yourself.

MARK DAVID:

  • I have set foot in 48 of the 50 U.S. states and eight of the 10 Canadian provinces. (I have also lived in four U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.)
  • I can’t whistle.
  • I have no formal training or credential for anything I have ever done professionally, including writing. (I have a business degree.)

 

rem: Sometimes the best credential and pedigree is from the University of Life. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

MARK DAVID: For someone who spent all but the first three months of his first 21 years living in the same house, I’ve sure made up for it! I grew up in Montreal, but have since lived in Toronto, on the shores of Lake Huron, in three different towns in Nova Scotia, in three distinct communities on two Hawaiian islands, in Northern Arizona, briefly in Southern California and, now, in New Mexico. Mingled among those moves were three open-ended road odysseys that carried me across the U.S. multiple times: The briefest journey lasted eight weeks; the longest, 30 months.

 

rem: That’s a lot of landmarks. Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

MARK DAVID: I’m reluctant to list particular authors as I have so many favorites and I’ll just get myself in trouble by forgetting some. My absolute favorite, of course, is whatever I happen to be reading when someone asks me the question! Right now, I’m on a Nero Wolfe binge, reading for the first time all 72 novels and short stories featuring Rex Stout’s corpulent detective.

As for genres, my indefinably eclectic taste over the years has ranged from literary fiction to fantasy, mysteries and thrillers and from biography and memoir to books about film, theater, architecture, design, photography, creativity and spirituality.

 

rem: I’m hard pressed to name a single favorite author, also. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

MARK DAVID: Although I haven’t reread them in a long time, C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books would probably take the prize.

 

rem: Good choice. What was / were your favorite book(s) as a child?

MARK DAVID: I don’t remember a whole lot from my childhood, including what I read. But given that I have returned to them off and on over the years, I’d guess that it was the Narnia books.

 

rem: If you could chose to be a character in a book, who would it be and why?

MARK DAVID: Today, I would choose to be Bernie in my new novel, Sara’s Year. Not surprisingly, I identify with his journey. Also, I envy his happy ending! If we’re talking about someone else’s book, I might choose to be Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, for his humility and great wisdom.

 

rem: I did wonder if there was some connection between you and he. What is your most treasured possession?

MARK DAVID: Having rid myself of nearly all my possessions seven times over the past two decades, I have learned to be very detached when it comes to “things.” There is much in my life that I’m grateful for and much that I treasure; none of it in this moment takes the form of an inanimate object.

 

rem: I understand that “less is more” is actually rather healthy. Perhaps I’ll get there someday! LOL What is your greatest fear? Your greatest regret?

MARK DAVID: My greatest fear is one that dates back to my childhood, although I’m grateful to say that it has been largely tempered over the years. It’s a fear of being harshly and unfairly judged, which is probably why helping others to deal with judgment and criticism in their lives and in their creative work plays such an important role in both my coaching work and my books for writers. Come to think of it, it’s also a minor theme in all my fiction; it shows up both in my Q’ntana Trilogy books and in Sara’s Year.

 

rem: That, sir, we have in common, although mine has been tempered as well by being accepted for who I am and learning to love myself. What is your favorite quotation and why?

MARK DAVID: As with all other “favorites” questions, this one is hard for me to answer. There are so many that touch me from so many inspiring people. If I can’t bring myself to choose an all-time favorite, I will offer up one that was meaningful enough for me to include as one of the two Sara’s Year epigraphs. It’s from Canadian author Robertson Davies: “To ask an author who hopes to be a serious writer if his work is autobiographical is like asking a spider where he buys his thread. The spider gets his thread right out of his own guts, and that is where the author gets his writing.” Like Davies, I write from a deep inner place, and every situation and every character in each of my books is, in some way, a reflection of me.

 

rem: That’s deep, pun intended, and I agree. What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?

MARK DAVID: Compassion. Honesty. Spiritual openness. Optimism. Sense of humor — about themselves and the world.

 

rem: What do you do as a hobby?

MARK DAVID: I don’t really have a hobby, but I do have other creative pursuits apart from writing. I’m an avid photographer and an occasional sketcher. You can view some of my photography and artwork at www.mark-david-gerson.artistwebsites.com as well as on Instagram (markdavidgerson).

 

rem: Great photos, I’ve seen a few. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

MARK DAVID: I’m not sure I could be not-writing! However, if my time and energy were not filled with book-birthing, I would probably spend more time traveling and on my other creative pursuits.
rem: How can a writer not write, right? Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?

MARK DAVID: If forced to choose, I would choose dogs. I love cats, too, but I’m more of a dog person.

 

rem: What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

MARK DAVID: I don’t do well with routine, whether it’s in my writing life or in any other aspect of my life. Rather, I do my best to respond in the moment to the demands of whichever creative project I’m working on. For example, the initial two drafts of my first book, The MoonQuest, wanted to be written first thing in the morning in total solitude in rural Nova Scotia…longhand. However, I wrote most of Sara’s Year largely in afternoons, often surrounded by the anonymous buzz of a cafe…mercifully, on my laptop. While time of day doesn’t often change from one draft of a project to the next, where I write and the kind of music I listen to sometimes does.

 

rem: Tell us a little about your writing journey.

MARK DAVID: I write about this in detail in Acts of Surrender: A Writer’s Memoir, but the short version is that “writer” would have been at the bottom of my career-choice list when I was growing up. I hated writing, I hated English class and I was convinced that I wasn’t creative. My Muse, however, had other plans for me, plans that were so subtle and devious that by the time I realized what was going on, it was too late to turn back. I was already a writer!

 

rem: My Muse, thankfully, didn’t leave me alone either. I’ve always loved words and etymology, but spent decades trying to fit in someone else’s idea of what my life should look like. Oy vey!

What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

MARK DAVID: After 12 books, three screenplays and various other works-in-progress, I’m grateful to say that I rarely struggle with the fine details craft anymore. I know I can write and I know that I write reasonably well. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own version of the full range of writerly insecurities. While I was writing Sara’s Year, for example, I knew I had a great story. What I couldn’t be certain of was whether I had the creative chops to do it justice on the page. From early feedback and reviews, I’m relieved to learn that, apparently, I do! Still, it’s always challenging to pour your soul onto the page and then, to mix metaphors, run down Main Street at midday, fully naked.

How do I handle it? But forging ahead. There’s a quote in The MoonQuest that really speaks to that for me: “Feel your fear. Then pass through it to the other side, where your destiny awaits.”

 

rem: Great quote. And you write more than “reasonably well.” Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

MARK DAVID: Bits of both and bits of neither. I enjoy discovering the story. As you and I have discussed in the past, I never know what my books will be about when I start out. I never plot, and I never outline. I let the story reveal itself to me through the first and, sometimes, subsequent drafts. I like to compare the creative process to a road trip to an unknown destination, where the story is the driver and I’m the passenger.

Finding the words that do the story justice: That’s what can hang me up, and that’s where I sometimes feel frustrated and inadequate, which is why another of the issues I deal with in my books for writers is the futile quest for perfection. “Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it,” Salvador Dali said, and it’s a quote that applies just as much to the revision process.

What I like about revision is taking the rough raw material of the story and shaping it into something polished and refined. What I like less is the detailed fine-tuning that is so necessary but can feel so tedious.

 

rem: Ah! Another quote! Perfection is a cruel task master, for that very reason. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

MARK DAVID: Touching others with the murmurings of my heart.

 

rem: Indeed. What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

MARK DAVID: Hardest: All the tedious, picky details involved in the process. Easiest: Ripping open the envelope that holds the first copy of a new book.

 

rem: Easiest and most jubilant! No feeling like it! Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

MARK DAVID: I don’t go looking for ideas. They come looking for me. The MoonQuest, for example, “happened” to me during a writing workshop I was leading. When I felt called to do the same exercise I had just given participants, what I wrote turned into the first scene of the first draft of a novel I knew nothing about. That novel became The MoonQuest.

 

mark david gerson - qntana series

 

Even The MoonQuest’s two sequels, The StarQuest and The SunQuest, weren’t so much ideas I had as stories that formed through the telling of them. Interestingly, that kind of intuitive storytelling is key to the plots of all three Q’ntana books.

As for my second book, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, I was writing it before I even knew I was working on a book. The Voice of the Muse began as a series of morning pages-like writings that I thought were only for me. As it turned out, they weren’t!

With Sara’s Year, I had a vague idea for a story based loosely on my mother’s life. But when I began to write, what emerged (and continued to emerge) was altogether different from anything I had imagined.

 

rem: I like that, they come looking for you. Glad you’re receptive when they do. Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

MARK DAVID: Until Sara’s Year, it would have been The MoonQuest, which was my first novel and my first book. It also represented a huge creative breakthrough for me after so many years of resistance and blockage. Now, although it comes in close second, The MoonQuest has been nudged out of first place by Sara’s Year. Why? Perhaps it has only just been released. Perhaps, too, because it represents another creative breakthrough: It’s the most complex story I have ever written. It’s also the most personal.

 

rem: Tell us a little about your latest book. What is your current project?

MARK DAVID: Sara’s Year emerged from a series of health crises early last year, when I felt compelled to ask myself what I wanted to be certain to do if I were going to die sooner rather than later. To my surprise, the answer that emerged from a very deep place was “write another novel.”

Sara’s Year takes place mostly in my hometown of Montreal between the 1930s and 1980s, with some key scenes in postwar Halifax, and it tells a story of dreams abandoned and reclaimed. Esther and Sarah share a single passion: to be the best they can be – on an epic scale. But “real” life takes over for the two young women, pushing those dreams aside. Fifty years later when death takes one of them, her son and her oldest friend must each decide whether Esther’s abandoned dreams will defeat them or spur them on to triumphs of their own.

 

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rem: And it’s a powerful story. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

MARK DAVID: “It’s never too late to follow your dreams.” That’s the tagline for Sara’s Year, but it’s a theme that shows up in some form in many of my books. The other takeaway, this one from all my books, is how important, and healing, it is to tell our stories.

 

rem: You have been called the “Birthing Your Book Guru.” With titles like Birthing Your Book and The Voice of the Muse, you have addressed much of the angst and complications of the writing process. Any nuggets you’d care to share today?

MARK DAVID: I’ve touched on this indirectly in some of my earlier answers, but the top piece of advice I would offer would be to trust your characters (if you’re writing fiction), to trust your story (whatever the form) and to trust your creative process…which is a great segue to your next question…

 

rem: I can attest to that! Started college at the age of 50 (not writing, incidentally) and published my first novel at the age of 55! I can relate to Sara’s sense of accomplishment. What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

MARK DAVID: My top three recommendations come from a chapter in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write titled “Trust. Let Go. Leap.” Trust past your conscious imagination, which has its own limits, and trust those unconscious creative sources that guide and inspire you. Let go all expectations and preconceptions, including those related to form, structure, plot and outcome. Leap onto the blank page or screen in total trust in your creative process and in unconditional surrender to the greater wisdom of your story. Your story knows best. Always.

mark david gerson - book images -

 

mark david gerson - book images -

 

 

 

 

 

 

rem: Oh, those are good, I need to write those down…

Multi-talented and faceted, you are also a photographer. How does that fit in with your writing?

MARK DAVID: Photography is another way for me of interpreting how I experience the world, using images instead of words. It also offers me the gift of near-instant gratification, something that writing never does. With a photo, the entire process from shooting, through editing and to finished product can be measured in minutes, not years!

rem: I’ve seen several of your photos and they are lovely. One final queston, Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

MARK DAVID: More coffee than tea these days, though I started out as a tea drinker. Tea is Twining’s Irish Breakfast, with just a dash of milk. Coffee is generally an eccentrically customized Americano. No flavors. No sweetener. (I generally avoid most of Starbucks concoctions as I find them too sweet.)

 

rem: What are we, twins?? I drink Irish Breakfast tea, Twinings, and prefer both my coffee and tea unsweet. Where can we find you online?

MARK DAVID:

www.markdavidgerson.com

www.facebook.com/markdavidgerson + www.facebook.com/markdavidgerson.page

www.youtube.com/markdavidgerson

www.pinterest.com/markdavidgerson

www.twitter.com/markdavidgerson

www.amazon.com/author/markdavidgerson

(Are you noticing a pattern here? LOL. My user name is markdavidgerson pretty much every online.)

 

rem: Indeed, and as it should be! Thanks for joining us today, Mark David. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

#markdavidgerson, #authorinterview, #sarahsyear, #moonquest, #starquest, #sunquest, #thevoiceofthemuse, #actsofsurrender

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When your life derails and your plans crash and burn before your eyes, what is there to do? You put one foot in front of the other and wake up every day with the life you’ve got, the life you’ve been given. And those dreams you used to dream, those plans you made so long ago? Are they dead and buried, or do they lie dormant, awaiting the clarion call, “It’s time. Now is the time.”

 

Synchronicity plays a significant role in Sara’s story. Threads from various sources and different times weave together to weave make this tapestry-story.

syn·chro·nic·i·ty ˌsiNGkrəˈnisədē/ noun

  1. the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.

 

Sara has known Bernie since the day he was born; she and his mother were life-long best friends. As Bernie walks away from his mother’s funeral, he leaves behind not only the Jewish shiva but unknowingly walks into a new life. Memories – Sara’s – mingle with reminiscences of Esther as both Bernie and Sara talk out their grief, and regret.

Esther speaks from the grave, it seems, urging them both to seek out their dreams, to breathe life into them, and to follow their hearts.

Does Bernie embrace the revelations Sara shares with him? Can he accept the self-discoveries he makes in his grief-borne wandering?

Will Sara pick up her pen, and be who she always wanted to be?

 

While the bulk of the story takes place over only a few days, the memories shared take the reader back fifty years, to the then-young and aspiring Esther and Sarah. What, then, is the year that is Sara’s Year? What makes the year so significant and life changing? Which begs the question, what synchronicities in my life have made a year or a day or a week significant and life changing? I should be an old Jewish woman? I should have a Bernie or an Esther stirring my dreams? The ultimate question is, have I picked heeded the clarion call in my own life? Have I owned the dream placed within me from the beginning of time? Why yes, yes I have. Because it truly is never too late to follow my dreams, wherever they may take me.

 

Mr. Gerson had created a vivid story world in which this reader readily entered. Relatable characters gave depth and dimension to Sara’s Year, making it a favorite read of this reviewer.

 

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#markdavidgerson, #sarasyear, #nevertoolate, #followyourdreams, #synchronicity

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