Author Guest Post: Operation Mom! by Reenita M. Hora

Hello everyone. Please join me in welcoming author Reenita M. Hora as she stops by for a guest post today. I have to say I’m impressed about George Michael! First, a bit about her book, Operation Mom!.


Synopsis:
Ila Isham has a lot to worry about – the angst of being an Ali Zafar groupie and the extra layers of fat she has inherited from her Punjabi lineage. Add to this separated parents, an enthusiastic best friend, Deepali, whose idea of variety means dating three guys at the same time and Aunty Maleeka, mom’s BFF, whose savvy skills throw up more problems than solutions.

Ila’s life takes an exciting turn when she decides to hunt for the perfect partner for her mother. With a little help from Deepali, Aunty Maleeka and Dev of the inviting chocolate-pool eyes, she’ll have to brave it all – from Lagaan.com and Ok-cupid profiles to handlebar-moustache colonels and middle-aged psychos, if she wants to succeed in her quest!

Guest post:
Operation Mom – an opportunity to whack the funny bone.
In general, I think life would be more fun if we took it down a notch. I am a huge proponent of stand up comedy and improv because I think it helps us let go of our Type A existence, be spontaneous and have a laugh or two. That goes for the performers as well as the audience members. So many of us take ourselves way too seriously and really need a whack of our funny bone from time to time.

I grew up reading very serious novels, most of them Classic British literature. It wasn’t until I moved to the United States many years later that I discovered the American sense of humor – so basic, so subtle and so able to lighten your mood on any given day. It made me think about how I had so material right here in my home.

In Indian life, be it in or outside of India, there is an element of predictability and safety that underscores practically every decision — it’s a classic example as to why Indian parents want their kids to go into ‘safe’ professions like medicine and engineering. There is plenty of comedy in that itself – you just need to dig for it. And when it comes to predictability, you don’t typically find an Indian situation in which the daughter is setting up her mom – usually it happens the other way around. You don’t find stories which expose you to a variety of cray cray ethnic situations strewn around Mumbai – all ripe for comedic interpretation. That’s what I wanted to do with Operation Mom — in many ways it is an LOL window into my life and circumstances. As a Mumbaikar I feel like I have many affinities – to the Punjabi way of life, to the Parsi community, to places like Swati Snacks and Worli Seaface…all these are part of my ordinary world that I wanted to share with folks everywhere. I wanted to highlight the contextual comedy that is such a huge part of my people and in these places. And the fun with writing fiction is that through it, you can make the ordinary, extraordinary.

My relationship with my own mom has been fairly laid back. She definitely played her role of ‘Classic Punjabi Mother’ during my younger years but as any Punjabi will tell you, the moment you enter into the institution of marriage, the Punjabi mother becomes completely hands-off. My book actually has nothing to do with my own mother but her ridiculous Punju traits definitely carry through all the humorous set-pieces. For anyone familiar with the quirks of this particular community, the anecdotes will resonate.

When I was a kid, she was highly skeptical of anything concerning me – where I went, who I met and why I pursued the things I wanted to do. Her old-school Punjabi mindset had her believe that if I was too ‘interesting’ or ‘determined’, then it would naturally become an impediment to ‘marrying me off’. So when I successfully stalked George Michael, my teen pop idol, it truly stressed her out.

Who is George Michael, you ask? Well, back in the eighties, he was the lead singer of Wham! Okay that completely gives away my age 🙂 I was one of many teenage girls in the eighties who was completely obsessed with him. Determined to meet him in person, I went through lengths to stalk him one summer holiday in England. It took practically all summer for me to track him down, and mind you this was long before the age of internet or social media, so I really take great pride in my grass roots research skills! I made my way to his father’s restaurant in Edgware, and then followed his cat to his house in Bushey Meads where I had a long chat with his mother, who finally pointed me to the office of his manager in Central London, where I eventually met him. I was fifteen then, obsessive to put it mildly…or perhaps I should say, ‘determined.’ But this event propelled me to teen stardom…as pathetic as that sounds! And the story has kept listeners marveling and laughing with each re-telling these last thirty-five years. So I chose to copy-paste the George Michael story from my life and into my novel, almost verbatim.

What’s wrong with the Comedy of Obsessiveness? Like I said, life would be so much more fun if we took ourselves a little less seriously.


Author Bio:
Reenita Malhotra Hora is a founder, executive-level content, operations & marketing leader, and prolific writer. With multiple years of experience in media, entertainment, communications, tech/innovation and wellness industries in the USA and Asia, she grows organizations, ranging from early stage startups through mid-size businesses, through storytelling, creative marketing and business strategy.

Reenita has written seven books – five non fiction and two fiction. She is the writer, anchor and executive producer of Shadow Realm and True Fiction Project podcasts and founder of the Chapter by episode fiction app. She has contributed to The Hindu, South China Morning Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN, Asian Investor, Times of India, National GeographicKids, Cartoon Network Asia, Disney, and more.

Website: http://www.reenita.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReenitaMalhotraHora
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reenita_storyteller/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/reenymal

Special thanks to A Marketing Expert!

Author Guest Post: Sticks and Stones by Chelsea DeVries

Hello all, please join me in welcoming author Chelsea DeVries as she stops by today for an inspiring guest post about her writer’s desk. She is on virtual tour for her book of poetry called Sticks and Stones. Click here to view the rest of the tour stops.



About the book:
In Sticks and Stones, DeVries paints a poetic picture of rising above toxicity, love found and love lost, and delves into what it means to find strength in the human spirit. Through poetry, the reader finds a voice of strength and the rebuilding of one’s heart a home with all the sticks and stones thrown upon it. Newly expanded with more full color photos, 41 new poems, and a rewrite of Drowning in An Ocean of No Tomorrows, DeVries shows a full poetic picture of turning pain into poetry in order so you can rise above whatever is pulling you under.

Advance Praise:

“This collection of poetry and innovative thinking by Chelsea DeVries is a remarkable work of words. Sticks and Stones: Full Story Edition is a definite read, and please, read the dedication at the beginning of the book, and then you know the set stage for this book. It is personal. The words almost float across the pages, bringing different situations and emotions to light, in a very toxic world. After reading this, I realized what the title actually alludes to, and how it just fit this unputdownable collection. Such a wonderful read. My favorite was Perks of Being a Wallflower which starts with ‘I’m just a girl, Really strong, like petals on a flower, I wilt.’ I liked this so much, I read many of the poems twice. I look forward to reading more by this poet. Sticks and Stones is a definite recommendation.” –Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

“This book highlights that you are not alone in the emotions, thoughts, and situations that challenge you. It’s a reminder too that you can make it through those things and come out on the other side. I love the idea of building something beautiful and strong out of the sticks and stones that others throw at you.” – Amazon reviewer Sara Hovel

About the Author:

Chelsea DeVries wanted to be a writer at the age of 7. Her first publishing credit came at the age of 14 with a poem in a student anthology. She then wrote nonstop while doing IB classes in high school. She published two YA novels while still in high school which after over 10 years she rewrote as a NA romance that she looks to put out as her next publication. She is a seeker of justice and uses her words to free this world’s outcasted, peculiar, and underdogs from the chains that bind them. When not writing she runs and does PR for authors and musicians with her bookish brand The Smart Cookie Philes. Though she’s Florida born and raised, she has New Jersey in her veins. She currently lives in Port Richey, FL with her squad of two dogs.

You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @chelsealynnpoetry, and her squad at @dasquad26. In October 2020, DeVries was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome which is a form of Autism.

Add to GoodReads:

sticks and stones

Available at Amazon.


Author Guest Post:

In August 2016, I finally got my own writer’s desk. It had a purple desk chair and was one of those cheap desks you get from Walmart. We struggled to put it together so I paid my woodcarving neighbor to do it for me and he did. The desk was so nice and new. Even better, it would have enough space to hold all my business essentials because outside of being a writer, I run The Smart Cookie Philes, which I started because I wanted to be a publicist for authors and musicians. One of the first clients of the Smart Cookie Philes was pop singer Rachel Platten. With the desk all ready to go, I began reworking the novels I published as a teenager. When they were first published, they were YA romance but now that I was older by ten years and wiser, I wanted them to read as NA romantic suspense. I finished the new 40,000 word novel on December 10,2017, at that desk and I never felt more proud of myself.

From here, I went through a strong writer’s post-project depression and I didn’t write for 8 months because I was facing a lot of imposter syndrome that was about the idea that was I only ever going to write one novel my whole career? After a cruise that went to Turks and Caicos, I ended up finding my creative spark again with a new novel project that I watched grow and grow until I worked for the toxic workplace mentioned in Sticks and Stones and following being let go there, and having so much to say … again my writer’s desk was my safe space. I wrote, edited, and published Sticks and Stones, and wrote, edited, and republished Sticks and Stones. And some of it wasn’t pretty at all. I sat at that desk some days and bawled my eyes out. Unfortunately for me, my writer’s desk has to be left behind in my upcoming move in order to recover from mold toxicity, and I feel extra sad about that.

That desk was there for me better than even the most trusted therapist. It was there when I needed to vent, express, tell my story, speak through my characters, decompress. If it weren’t for that desk, I would definitely not have made it or been more depressed. She helped me kill my darlings and was even more darling to me on the hard days when the words don’t come. Writer desk, thank you for everything.





Special thanks to Poetic Book Tours. Click here to view the rest of the tour stops.

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: Nunzio’s Way by Nick Chiarkas

Hello all, please join me in welcoming author Nick Chiarkas as he stops by today for a wonderful guest post about the positive influence one of his teachers had on him when he was 9 years old. Read on for a bit about his latest book, Nunzio’s Way which is the sequel to his book titled Weepers. Also, find out how you can enter to win a copy of the book and an Amazon gift card at the end of this post.



“In this city, you can have anything you want if you kill the right four people.” ~ Nunzio Sabino In Weepers (Book 1), Angelo and his gang, with a bit of help from his beloved “uncle” Nunzio Sabino, defeated the notorious Satan’s Knights. Now, in this standalone sequel to Weepers, it’s 1960 and Nunzio is still the most powerful organized crime boss in New York City, protecting what’s his with political schemes and ‘business’ deals.
Against this backdrop of Mafia turf wars, local gang battles, and political power-plays in the mayoral election, the bodies begin stacking up. An unlikely assassin arrives fresh from Naples after killing a top member of the Camorra to avenge the murder of her family. She blends seamlessly into the neighborhood and with the focus on the threat from the Satan’s Knights, no one suspects that Angelo’s father and Nunzio are next on her hit list. Nunzio has lived his entire life by the mantra; Be a fox when there are traps and a lion when there are wolves. Will Nunzio be a lion in time?

Praise for Nick Chiarkas:
“Writers are always told, ‘Write what you know.’ Nick Chiarkas knows New York, organized crime, and how to write an engaging story. Nunzio’s Way is gritty and thoroughly gripping.” John DeDakis, award-winning Novelist and former editor for CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer”

Book Details:
Genre: Crime Thriller / Historical
Published by: HenschelHAUS Publishing
Publication Date: October 2022
Number of Pages: 261
ISBN: 978159595-908-6
Series: Weepers, #2
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Author Guest Post:A Lakefly Question by Nick Chiarkas

I was recently asked if I attribute my achievements to defiance. It was at a recent writers’ conference in Wisconsin, I was presenting a session on self-editing, and my bio was posted in the conference brochure.

My bio: “Nick Chiarkas grew up in the Al Smith housing projects in the Two Bridges neighborhood on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. When he was in the fourth grade, his mother was told by the principal of PS-1 that “Nick was unlikely ever to complete high school, so you must steer him toward a simple and secure vocation.”

Instead, Nick became a writer, with a few stops along the way: a U.S. Army Paratrooper (101st Airborne Division); a New York City Police Officer; the Deputy Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; the Deputy Chief Counsel and Research Director for the President’s Commission on Organized Crime; and the Director of the Wisconsin State Public Defender Agency. On the way, he picked up a Doctorate from Columbia University; a Law Degree from Temple University; and was a Pickett Fellow at Harvard.
How many mothers are told that their children are hopeless? How many kids with potential surrender to despair? That’s why Nick wrote Weepers and Nunzio’s Way — for them.”

Obviously, the question was about my wanting to prove the principal wrong. Usually, I respond to this question by saying it could have been a wee bit of a desire for a reckoning and let it go with that. But these were writers like me; they ought to know the power of their words. The truth. So, here’s the truth I shared that day.

I was nine years old, sitting outside the principal’s office, it was the end of the day, and his secretary was gone. Just me, and I could hear every derogatory word he was telling my mother about me. My mother was a poor Italian second-generation immigrant who thought God ordained principals. A teacher who had left for the day to pick up a bag of groceries had returned to the school to retrieve papers she inadvertently left on her desk. She stopped in front of me. Clearly, she could hear the principal. She took my hand, and we went to the teacher’s lounge. She made a pot of tea for us. At this point, I was feeling like a big shot. She took a poundcake with white frosting out of her shopping bag and asked if I liked cake. I said, “Yeah, especially the icing.” She unwrapped and cut the cake horizontally, leaving about an inch of cake and a half-inch of icing. We enjoyed tea and cake, and we talked. We talked about her growing up, and then she asked about me. What I think about. What I care about. She gave me a book of poems, Yesterday and Today, by Louis Untermeyer (I still have it). She told me to read it. I said, “I can’t read poems like these.” She said, “I believe you can. Read them and read everything and anything you can find.” And then she said, “And, Nicky, always eat the icing off the cake.”

When I was eleven, I had a job delivering groceries and would have money in my pockets when returning to the store. Gangs knew that and would chase me. I was good at running across the rooftops, jumping from roof to roof, they would give up, and I would go to the New York Public Library, gaining access from the roof, and hide in the fiction section, and I would read and read until it was safe to leave.
When I received my doctorate, I tracked down that teacher and mailed it (actually a copy of it) to her with a note that said, “See what you did.” That teacher made me feel valued, her advice empowered me, and reading gave me wings. I hope teachers, writers, and all those who take a moment to share a thought know how powerful their words are. That kids remember you. That we readers remember your words. That you can make a child fly.



About the author:


Author Links:
NickChiarkas.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @AuthorNickChiarkas
Twitter – @chiarkas
Facebook – @NicholasChiarkasAuthor

Giveaway details:
There will be FIVE (5) winners for this tour.
1 – Grand prize: $10 Amazon.com Gift Card & gift ebook (epub) of Weepers and Nunzio’s Way
4 – Runner Up prizes of Nunzio’s Way ebook (epub)

CLICK HERE to enter to win!



Special thanks to Partners in Crime Tours

Tour Stops:
10/24 Review @ I Read What You Write

10/24 Showcase @ BOOK REVIEWS by LINDA MOORE
10/25 Showcase @ 411 ON BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHING NEWS
10/26 Guest post @ The Bookworm
10/27 Showcase @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea
10/28 Guest post @ The Mystery of Writing
10/30 Review @ Guatemala Paula Loves to Read
11/08 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
11/09 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
11/1 Interview @ I Read What You Write
11/13 Review @ Paws. Read. Repeat
11/16 Guest post @ The Reading Frenzy
11/18 Review @ The Page Ladies

Guest Post: Rooted & Winged by Luanne Castle

Hello all. Please join me in giving author Luanne Castle a warm welcome today as she stops by for an interesting guest post relating to the mention of birds in poetry as well as a bird rescue story.


Her book is available at Finishing Line Press and from Luanne Castle’s Bookstore.

Author Guest Post:
When I was a little girl and we would visit my paternal grandmother in Chicago, I would sit by her parakeet’s cage, mesmerized by the little bird so close at hand and unable to fly away from me. Over the years, Grandma must have had several parakeets, one at a time, but they were all named Dickie. When my grandmother moved into a nursing home, she was not allowed to bring her parakeet with her, so we took in the bird. Although I tried to coax it to eat, within a week it passed away, pining for my grandmother.

My association with birds, though, is not just personal. Birdsong has been a metaphor for the voice of the poet for centuries. Scottish poet Don Paterson argues that “birds provide a natural metaphor for the song all poets aspire to. We envy them their ease of expression, as their song provides a bridge into the mysteries of a world the animal in us fondly half-remembers.”*

My favorite poem is Walt Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” a long rhythmic exploration of a young poet’s burgeoning voice as inspired by the singing of a mockingbird. The adult poet reminisces about his poetic awakening as a child when he heard the song of a special bird. He believes that he and the bird have an understanding of life and death that many do not.

Shelley meditated on a skylark; Keats on a nightingale. Whitman on the mockingbird. But are birds still important to poetry and poets?

In the Rooted and Winged poem, “Noah and the Middle School Marching Band,” I mention the “famous poet [who] chastised me / for putting birds in poems.” I was in a workshop led by Richard Siken at Arizona State University’s writer’s conference years ago. He forbade us from putting birds in our poems, insisting that birds have been overused in poetry.

Isn’t it ironic that one of Richard Siken’s poems shared on poets.org is “The Language of Birds”? I guess he couldn’t stay away from birds either. But I didn’t know about that Siken poem until after I had written “Noah and the Middle School Marching Band.

Siken’s pronouncement seemed arbitrary to me. After all, if birds are an important part of my life, why can’t I write about them? There aren’t many new subjects explored in poetry—the key is to do something fresh with them. In “Noah and the Middle School Marching Band,” I decided that I wouldn’t listen to Siken.

But you know what? I’m alone
with my paper and who will care
if I lure them in with my baton
-like pen, parading them into place
two by two like Noah and the
middle school marching band.

In addition to their song, birds, along with bats and insects, are unique in the animal kingdom in that they are winged. For the majority of birds, that means that they can fly. The wings of birds and of angels inspire me as I find myself wanting to soar above it all, although I actually have a serious fear of heights. Poetry allows me to go places that are not available to me in “real life.”

But sometimes even birds have limits.

My poem, “Without Flight,” from Rooted and Winged, describes an experience that I had soon after the start of COVID when my husband discovered a red-tailed hawk heart-breakingly earthbound in our yard. The hawk sat underneath the hanging plant on our deck. A female dove was raising two babies in that plant so my husband had to water it very carefully because if he didn’t water it at all, the plant would die and the nest wouldn’t have the camouflage that the mother intended. He called to me when he saw the hawk.
My heart thumped when I thought that the hawk was resting after eating one of the babies. We came to realize that the hawk had not eaten a baby bird and was, in fact, grounded. We put out a shallow pan of water and called Liberty Wildlife, a wonderful wildlife rescue organization. We were told to wait overnight in case the bird was just winded.

In the past, I had taken many quail babies to them when they were abandoned by their mothers. Liberty Wildlife doesn’t have the volunteer staff to come pick up all the small wildlife like quail and songbirds that people find in need of help.

The next morning the hawk had moved to a different area of the deck, but still could not fly, so I called Liberty Wildlife again. They said they would send out a volunteer because we would not be able to catch a hawk ourselves. A woman, experienced with raptors, came out to capture the bird, but our deck hangs over a decent sized wash, and somehow the bird managed to lead her on a merry chase through the wash. Even without use of its wings, the bird was determined not to be caught.

Eventually, the volunteer was able to trap the bird with the help of my husband. She told us that the hawk belonged to the magnificent species of red-tailed hawks. Later, I called to check on the hawk and was told that Liberty Wildlife does not let the public know the condition of the animals they bring in, but they did let me know our hawk was a female. It was tragic seeing her like that, and I appreciated Liberty Wildlife so much. They give advice when I call about our wildlife, and they accept any wild animal brought to them. When they take in an animal I bring them, I always give them a small donation as a thank you. That’s why when I wanted to create a fundraiser for Rooted and Winged I didn’t even have to think about what charitable organization I wanted to benefit. Here is a link to Liberty Wildlife. They often post fascinating videos on social media.

———————-

What a great guest post Luanne! I really enjoyed reading it especially the story about the red-tailed hawk that landed in your yard. I’m glad you were able to help her. Organizations such as Liberty Wildlife are so important. Over the years we have called the wildlife rescue in town to come and get birds that have broken a wing and ended up in our yard as well as a baby squirrel who actually followed my son home one summer while he was out riding his bike. This happened right after hurricane Sandy so we figured she was displaced from her mom due to the storm.
I think birds are important in poetry, they are symbolic of freedom and hope. Your post also reminded me of one of my favorite poems, Hope is The Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson.

About the poet:

Luanne Castle’s new poetry collection is Rooted and Winged (Finishing Line Press). Kin Types (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. Her first collection of poetry, Doll God (Aldrich), won the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Poetry. Luanne’s Pushcart and Best of the Net-nominated poetry and prose have appeared in Copper Nickel, American Journal of Poetry, Pleiades, Tipton Poetry Review, River Teeth, TAB, Verse Daily, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Saranac Review, Grist, and other journals.


Special thanks to Poetic Book Tours for making this possible.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Sept. 15: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (interview)

Sept. 20: The Bookish Elf (interview)

Sept. 28: the bookworm (guest post)

Oct. 4: Author Anthony Avina’s Blog (interview)

Oct. 11: The Book Connection (interview)

Oct. 19: CelticLady’s Reviews (guest post)

Oct. 25: The Soapy Violinist (guest post)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #rootedandwinged @writersitetweet #LuanneCastle

Book/Author Spotlight and Book Giveaway: Dreadful Beauty by L.M. Rapp


Hi everyone, please join me in welcoming author L.M. Rapp as she stops by on virtual tour today for her book A Dreadful Beauty. Read on for an excerpt, guest post, a few interview questions including some gorgeous Notre Dame gargoyle pictures and information on entering to win a copy of A Dreadful Beauty.


About the book:
Nymphosis, a disease that turns humans into Chimeras, is ravaging the land of Gashom.
The More-Than-Pure, determined to protect themselves, have seized power and enacted segregationist laws.
Neria, the daughter of a high dignitary, witnesses more and more of the Chimeras being ruthlessly executed.
When she learns she is afflicted by the very disease her father is determined to eradicate, she’s forced to surrender her privileges. She flees the capital amid her terrifying transformation and traverses the strange wilds to seek refuge with others like her.
But she knows what’s happening isn’t right. Find out how Neria develops the courage to fight oppression in this inspiring and elegantly written fantasy novel that pushes all to look deeper.

———————–

A Dreadful Beauty Excerpt

One moment, she had been enjoying the security and comfort of her family home. The next, she was left helpless in a deserted square. An oil lamp rested in Neria’s hand. A clay container, filled with a greenish-yellow liquid. A wick, coiled within its heart, snaked up to the groove that guided it into the open air. A flame danced on its tip, a paltry defense against the darkness of that night, one of those gentle nights that often follow the heat of the day. The moon watched her with a wry smile.

Neria suddenly felt she was going to collapse, crumpling like a sheet that had fallen to the ground. Without the warmth of the hand curled inside hers, she would have indeed done so. She remembered the last time she had seen Arhel’s hand, crimson and reaching out of the covers. Who knew what the disease would do to her? But before she succumbed to it, she would save Anaëlle.

She breathed in, then out, and took a step forward. Her aching limbs strained at first, but after a few minutes, she was walking briskly, her head bowed like a servant, the child in tow. First, she had to find the secret passage her mother had told her about and cross the wall of the High District without going through the ever-guarded gates.

She came to a dead-end and saw the dried-up well and a withered pistachio tree lined with shrubs of rosemary leaning against the perimeter wall. It concealed a narrow, low opening. She went in first, crawled into a tunnel bereft of cobwebs and emerged behind an olive tree, also surrounded by shrubbery. Crouching down, she peeked between the branches. No one was there. She called to Anaëlle in a hushed voice, the child joining her. They emerged from their cover and arrived on the street. Before long, they had made their way to an impoverished part of town they had never been to before. The hovels were huddled together, separated here and there by narrow, randomly arranged passageways. The first on the left… The second on the right…

“Hey there, little lady! Where are you off to in such a hurry?”
Three guards had concealed themselves in a nook to drink to their hearts’ content…


Author guest post:

A Dream Come True
I loved reading and writing from a very early age. In elementary school, I remember writing a poem in which I described, in rhyme, the sunlight shining on the snow… My family complimented me, but I soon realized that writing stories or poetry wasn’t what was expected of me. My aim in school and university was to get a diploma, so I would be able to have a good job and earn a decent living.

So, I stopped all my efforts to develop my writing skills, though I did continue on reading. In fact, I never left home without a book. Even now, since I read on my phone, I carry my library with me everywhere I go. It’s amazing and it gives me an inexplicable level of serenity.
But this thought of becoming a writer was still sitting on the back of my head and I decided to check back in with my abilities. While I was a student, on a long train ride from Toulouse to Bordeaux, I took out a sheet of paper and a pen to brainstorm an idea worthy of exploration. Nothing came to mind. At least, nothing that warranted delving deeper and eventually morphing into a novel. So, I reached the conclusion that I had no talent as a writer and that I would never be skillful enough to pursue this profession.

Years have now passed, I’ve lived in other countries, and have had several jobs. I spent some time painting. This discipline, like any discipline practiced seriously, taught me precision and the search for a harmonious balance. To promote my painting, I kept a blog. At a certain point, I wished a bit like a classical pianist learning to play jazz, to free myself from constraints. Abandoning methods and technical means, armed with a pencil or a ballpoint pen, I started to scribble on scraps of paper.
Monsters appeared for the first time. Unlike humans, who always try to smile in pictures, and showcase ourselves at our best to hide weaknesses and negative emotions, my monsters don’t smile if they don’t feel like it. I decided to write their stories, a short one for each of the paintings. And slowly but surely I began imagining a young heroine growing up in a family of supremacists until the day a disease turns her into one of these persecuted creatures. With just a storyline and a few characters in mind, how did the ideas come to me when I thought I had none?

Well, I sat down at my computer for more than five minutes. Even now I dread that floating sensation, that emptiness, that time of latency during which I look at the screen without knowing if the miracle will happen again. The brain spins, searches, weighs, then the inspiration arrives. And if it doesn’t, I scribble what comes to mind. Anything and everything. Truncated, wobbly and unintelligible phrases… But it doesn’t matter. I have to keep the flow moving and I’ll get it right later.

For three years, I worked alone. I read essays, tried to learn, and went through some typical steps: first the doubt, then the wonder at a short story or a few well-turned sentences I had just written. After a while, I began to realize that I didn’t understand anything. We imagine artists as isolated, and while it’s true that most of the creative process is accomplished in solitude, everyone needs community and support. After three years, determined to find answers, I was fortunate enough to discover an excellent literary consultant on the Internet. He guided me to rework the story, make it denser and improve my style. He often quotes a phrase from Proust: “The main quality of a writer is courage.” The courage to persevere despite difficulties, to admit mistakes and to ask for help when necessary. The rewriting took a year.

Today, I can hold my dream in my hand and I would like to motivate you to pursue yours, not for the money or potential fame, but for the unspeakable joy of seeing it come true.

A few interview questions:
Q: How did you do research for your book?
A: The research took place mostly on the internet. A word I stumble upon while writing can instantly turn into several hours of reading.

Q: Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?
A: None of the characters were easy to write about, but certainly the most difficult was the tyrannical father. I read three different books about serial killers before I began to understand the reasoning of a psychopath.

Q: In your book, you describe the gargoyles’ people. What made you use elements of Gothic architecture for creating these characters?

A: During a visit to Notre Dame de Paris, I was able to admire the sculptures of gargoyles that adorn its facade. Their mere presence evoked a fabulous universe and served as great inspiration in my novel.

Q: Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
A: The ideas seem to me to be floating around, in books, events, and encounters, and that it is enough to sit for long hours in front of a computer screen and concentrate on arranging them in a new way.

Q: There are many books out there about chimeras. What makes yours different?

A: The story follows a family and a people through a tone that is both intimate and epic, which is rather unusual in this kind of literature.

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About the author:
L.M. Rapp has lived in different countries and practiced several professions: dentist, web developer, artist, aikido teacher, farmer. Eager to learn and discover, she uses her experiences to enrich her stories. She has also written a thriller, Of Flesh and Tears.
Website: https://www.lmrap.com/en Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/L.M.Rapp

Giveaway details: *open worldwide now through September 25th*
To enter to win a copy of A Dreadful Beauty by L.M. Rapp:
1. comment on this post and leave your email address
2. spread the word about this giveaway for an extra entry
That’s it! good luck! I will email the winner on September 26th

*this giveaway is now closed*.


Special thanks to A Marketing Expert for making this possible.