Monday, October 18, 2021

An Autumn View

Fall is upon us and the autumn colors are making their colorful showing,  reminding us that Winter isn't far away. That means stocking up on those books you want to curl up with during the cold days ahead.  Our guest today in My Writing Corner is Karen Guzman and her latest book,  Arborview, sounds like a perfect way to enjoy  some of those cold, quiet evenings reading and drinking hot chocolate.  It is now available on Amazon.

Karen is not only a fiction writer, but also an essayist.  Her debut, Homing Instinctswas published in 2014 while her short fiction has appeared in a number of literary magazines. Her story collection, Pilgrims, was a finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award. Karen is a regular contributor to the Collegeville Institute’s Bearings Online magazine. She is the recipient of a 2021 writing fellowship at the Collegeville Institute.
Let's hear more about Arborview, starting with a blurb and then an excerpt:


When the recipe for a new life is bittersweet…


Ellen Cahill’s financial future rides on the success of her new pastry shop. A bruising divorce has drained her bank account, along with her spirit. A man enters her life promising love, but Ellen, haunted by the past, questions whether she can pull off this new beginning.


College student Rosa Escamilla has her own culinary dreams—and a difficult mother who’s dead set against them. Rosa won’t be deterred. She scrapes up the money to enroll at a prestigious culinary school, setting out to prove everyone wrong.

When hidden betrayals by the people they love most surface for both Ellen and Rosa, can they overcome the blows they never saw coming on the road to where they want to go? 

Let's get more information! How about an excerpt:

That was how she had come to think of herself: a divorced person. She disliked ”divorcee,” which Alice liked to throw about suggestively. The word had the faint stink of misogyny, of finger-pointing, the whisper of failure—more so a woman’s than a man’s. Why was that? Men were simply “divorced,” a neutral proclamation. No cutesy name had been invented to designate their failed-marriage status. 


In truth though, if Ellen had failed anyone, she had failed herself. That stinging little insight had come to her Arborview, lying in dappled sunlight, where she was free to look at things, to test them out, and creep near the truth. The truth was she had fallen like a stone to the earth after all these years, and the voice that she had learned to ignore had only grown louder. God, forgive me. She had abandoned, or at least shelved, herself, long before Zach worked up the courage to do it. 

She really should tell Rosa this: Don’t worry about what your mother thinks, or your brother, or anyone else. Choose, or the world will do it for you. That was what the girl needed to hear.


Sounds like an intriguing story. If you want to learn more about Karen and her books, here is her contact information:

Website: www.karenguzman.com

Facebook:    https://www.facebook.com/kgwriter/?ref=nf&hc_ref=ARSsOdRw3vq1CUpEDRKrdKvd5PbS4qlrKI98cqDWUVl016YmfHd73u0Trc7R_5ZM0dw

Twitter: @kg_authorYou can find Karen’s books on Amazon, and learn more about her work at www.karenguzman.com

https://twitter.com/kguzman_author 

Instagram: @kagauthor

https://www.instagram.com/kagauthor/

Blog: www.writedespite.org

Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/kareguzman7

If you would like to purchase any of Karen's books, here are the Buy Links:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/arborview-karen-guzman/1140053868

https://www.thewildrosepress.com/book-post/arborview

https://www.amazon.com/Arborview-Karen-Guzman-ebook/dp/B09DNQH267/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&qid=1632415749&refinements=p_27%3AKaren+Guzman&s=books&sr=1-4

https://books.google.com/books?id=nOBDEAAAQBAJ&pg=PT172&lpg=PT172&dq=apple+books+karen+guzman+arborview&source=bl&ots=pgp5N-onJb&sig=ACfU3U2sP91yID2ykuadkBCEudy-765-GQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjAxceBx5XzAhXdF1kFHdKnAt8Q6AF6BAgOEAM#v=onepage&q=apple%20books%20karen%20guzman%20arborview&f=false

Thank you, Karen, for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for Karen?

Monday, October 11, 2021

A Wild, Wilder West

 Don’t we all love cowboys who behave badly?  I say yes! We adore them almost as much as the determined or feisty heroines who take them on or tame them. Today’s guest in My Writing Corner is Anna Taylor Sweringen and in her latest work, she visits the Wild West. Let’s greet her writing alter-ego:

Michal Scott is the erotic romance pen name of Anna Taylor Sweringen, a retired United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister. Inspired by the love mystics of Begijn, Audre Lourde and bell hooks, Rev. Anna writes erotica and erotic romance with a faith arc, hoping to build a bridge between the sacred and secular, spirituality and sexuality, erotica and Christ, you and a well-written spiritually-stimulating and erotically-arousing story. She uses story settings to give insight into the African American experience in the US. Besides erotic romance, she writes inspirational and sweet romance as Anna Taylor and gothic romance and women's fiction as Anna M. Taylor. 

Her latest work is “The Patience of Unanswered Prayer,” a short story that appears in the Anthology,  Cowboys: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology #6 and will be released on October 12, 2021.


Let’s get a blurb:

Back from his latest round up, trail boss Franklin Adams senses trouble has come to his homestead. His wolf companion Zeb senses it too. Feisty shop owner Eleanor Taylor has been kidnapped and is destined to be another victim of Reconstruction-era violence for running a successful business. When Franklin rescues her, he reveals a secret that may save or condemn them both. 


Sounds interesting but don’t we all want to get to  know these characters better, starting with Franklin.


What kind of a future do you hope to build?

It’s always been my dream to have enough land to recreate the freedom my people and species had back in Africa. It’s why I’ve always loved trail driving and working on the range. I see myself with a mate ruling and roaming over our kingdom here in the West, creating a healthy pride and generations who will follow in our footsteps when it’s time for us to join the ancestors.


What first draws you to Eleanor?

Her character. Every time I went into her store I admired her concern for others, her integrity, how she cares more for relationship than profit. Then once I got my character admiration glasses off, I was able to see she’s a damn fine looking woman.


What concerns you about her?

Her eyes are so focused on the stars, she doesn’t see the snakes on the ground. I’ve always sensed there’s more to her than I perceive. She moves with authority, the kind of authority I imagine my mate would have, but Eleanor is all alone. She doesn’t realize that having a sense of self the way she does is no real protection against the evils of the world.


What worries you about the future?

I’m watching the violence happening in the South, watching how it’s creeping West. No one, no matter their color, is immune to what’s being called Redemption. As more and more settlers occupy native territory I really worry if people of color and my species in particular have a chance at a healthy, happy life in America. I’m worried our only hope is to go back to our mother continent, Africa.


Now let’s talk to Eleanor.  Why were you kidnapped?

Because the sheriff is in league with Reb [character] to take over my business. They trumped up charges against me which my lawyer knows I will beat, once we get to court. To make sure that doesn’t happen the sheriff kidnapped me to get me out of the way permanently.


What draws you to Franklin?

The first time he walked into my store I was drawn to the way he carried himself. Quiet but not

subservient. Casual but always alert and so appreciative and charming. There was something about his manner. Regal, I call it. I imagine him on a savannah in Africa, a king on a throne, ruler of all he surveys. And did I mention he’s the finest specimen of male Blackness I’ve ever seen?


What do you want most out of life?

I’m so lonely. I want a mate I can depend on, share my true self with, have a family with, grow old with.


What is your biggest fear? 

That if the townspeople learn my secret, who I really am, in fear and out of ignorance they’ll turn on me. Even though I’ve always stood up for them, they’ll stand aside and let my business competitor, Reb Gordon Daniels and Sheriff Radcliffe kill me.


Intrigued? Want more? How about an excerpt:

The sounds of horse hooves clopping, drunken laughter, and saloon music had faded long ago. Only chirruping crickets, croaking bullfrogs, and Sheriff Radcliffe’s lies penetrated Eleanor’s covering. Where were they taking her?

The wagon wheels creaked with every rut they hit. Eleanor wheezed, desperate for fresh air. Nausea roiled at the base of her throat. Would she die choking on her own vomit? Fear squeezed her chest as yes flit through her mind like a lightning bug.

The wagon lurched to the right. Her nausea intensified.

"Mind how you go there, boy. We don't want to be accused of mistreating the prisoner."

Being arrested on false charges didn’t count as mistreatment? How about being abducted by ones sworn to uphold the law? Eleanor’s agony mirrored that of Christ’s on the cross.

My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?

She moaned, her spirit smothered by despair. The pressure at the small of her back eased only to be followed by a sharp jab to her spine.

"Shut up, damn you," Radcliffe snapped. "Your days of troubling me will soon be over."

"What was that you said, Sheriff?"

"Thank God this trouble'll soon be over. We'll have delivered her safe and sound to the county seat tomorrow."

"Safe and sound,” Deputy Jim Flyte said. “Thank the good Lord."

His tone, full of innocence and ignorance, penetrated Eleanor’s cloth prison and killed all hope that he’d be of any help. She stifled a groan lest her tormentor kicked her again. Flyte was too young to know that safe and sound to Sheriff Hobart Radcliffe meant only one thing: Eleanor’s death.


To buy the book or reach out to Anna/Michal, here is her contact information.


Buylink: https://amzn.to/3zfDpo2

Social media: Twitter @mscottauthor1

Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2TSHzRn

Website: https://michalscott.webs.com

Newsletter signup: https://mailchi.mp/106e6b05cdfe/michal-scotts-newsletter


Thank you, Anna/Michal for being my guest today on My Writing Corner!  Any questions or comments for her?




Monday, October 4, 2021

Cooking Up A Romance

 Today’s guest in My Writing Corner, Linda Griffin,  touched me with the answer to the first question I asked her. She is  a native of San Diego and is a retired librarian for the San Diego Public Library. (I remember one of my first stops when I moved to San Diego many, many years ago was a visit to the library there.) 


Linda has now retired so she can spend more time on her writing, but she already has an impressive background and history. Her stories have been published in numerous journals including Eclectica, Thema Literary Review, The Binnacle, and The Nassau Review. Her latest book, Love, Death and the Art of Cooking is her fourth romantic suspense novel from The Wild Rose Press. It was released in August. In addition to the three R’s—reading, writing, and research—she says she enjoys movies, Scrabble, and travel.

Tell us about your road to publication.

My passion for the printed word began with my first Dick and Jane reader, and as soon as I figured out that somebody had to create those words, I wanted to be a “book maker.” I wrote my first story at the age of 6 and had my first publication in college. My first novel was published in 1994, but the publisher soon folded. I never stopped writing, but it wasn’t until I retired that I became a frequent contributor to literary journals. I had two manuscripts rejected by The Wild Rose Press before they accepted Seventeen Days, and both were later revised and accepted. I couldn’t be happier with my experience with this publisher.


What do you find is the most challenging part of being an author?

 

The biggest challenge is when the level of creativity in the universe is low, and my characters won’t talk to me. When they do, it’s often during the night, which is a different kind of challenge! Editing is a challenge too, but to me an enjoyable one. I love the whole process of working with my wonderful editor, Nan Swanson. Then there’s promotion, which is hard for most authors, because writing is a solitary pursuit, and it can be hard to put ourselves out there.

 

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

 

Read! Read widely for background and more comprehensively in the genre you want to write. Reading a lot of different writers will help you develop your own unique style. Keep trying—you never know when a story will find the right home. In his memoir, My Second Twenty Years, Richard P. Brickner says that a novel is as large as an ocean to its author, but a mere drink of water to a reader. Use that idea to keep criticism and indifference in perspective and just enjoy the swim!  


What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?

 

Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking is a romantic suspense novel about a man who loves to cook. Although I don’t share his ability—my best kitchen skill is dishwashing—I love reading and writing about food and cooking, so I’ve wanted to write a story like this for a long time. The idea for the suspense plot came from a “what if” question that arose out of a completely different story. As often happens with me, putting two different ideas together started the words flowing.


Let’s get a blurb:


She wants to be friends, and he wants so much more. Software engineer Reid Lucas loves to cook and has a history of falling in love with married women. When he leaves his complicated past in Chicago for a job in California, he runs into trouble and must call a virtual stranger to bail him out of jail. Alyssa Knight, a tough street cop waiting for a church annulment from her passive-aggressive husband, is the roommate of the woman Reid calls for help, and she reluctantly provides bail for him. He falls for her immediately, and cooking for her is an act of love. She just wants to be friends, but they keep ending up in bed together. When his boss is murdered, Reid is a suspect—or is he the intended target?

 

What’s your next project? 

 

The next one is called Bridges. It’s set in 1963 and has a more old-fashioned tone and a classic romance trope—a reluctant heiress who has to marry to keep her inheritance. Unlike my romantic suspense novels, this one is a sweet, slow-burning romance with no murder--the only body is at the grandfather’s funeral! It will be my fifth from The Wild Rose Press.


That sounds like a wonderful story idea, one I know I want to read! Here are Linda’s  social and buy links if you would like to reach out to her.


Social links:  

Website: https://www.lindagriffinauthor.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lindagriffin.author/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaGriffinA 

 

Purchase links:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09827RTP2/ 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-death-and-the-art-of-cooking-linda-griffin/113974960 8 

https://books.apple.com/us/book/love-death-and-the-art-of-cooking/id1574123800 

 

Some of the recipes Reid uses can be found here:

 

https://www.pinterest.com/lgriffin08392487/love-death-and-the-art-of-cooking/

 

Thank you Linda for being my guest today.  Are there any questions or comments for her?


Monday, September 27, 2021

A Visit to a Mysterious World

 One of the fun parts about doing a blog on authors is that I get to learn the stories of so many fascinating authors. Today’s guest in My Writing Corner, Christina Strigas, is another one whose story is as interesting as the characters in the fictional tales she writes.

Christina Strigas is an author and poet, raised by Greek immigrants. In addition to her fiction work, she has also written four poetry books. Her popular poetry book, LOVE & VODKA, has been featured by CBC Books in, “Your Ultimate Canadian Poetry List: 68 Poetry Collections Recommended by you.”Her fourth poetry book, LOVE & METAXA, has just been released to rave reviews from Pank Magazine.  Her  poems have appeared in Montreal Writes, Feminine Collective; Neon Mariposa Magazine; Pink Plastic House Journal; BlazeVOX; Thimble Lit Magazine; Twist in Time Literary Magazine; The Temz Review, and Coffin Bell Journal, to name a few. Her poem, “Dead Wife” was nominated for best of the net 2020. 


She has also self-published a self-help/poetry book based on her popular quotes that went viral on Twitter. She writes romantic love poetry in a stream of consciousness narrative prose. Her influences are Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Mary Oliver, the Romantics, and Pablo Neruda. Christina Strigas will be releasing  The Wanting, an erotic romance novel with The Wild Rose Press, releases today,  She will also be rereleasing Crush, a paranormal romance novel on October 13, 2021, with The Wild Rose Press. 


She created the popular @ArielPoets on Twitter along with poetry editor and poet, Alexandra Meehan, where they inspire writers and poets to believe in the power of poetry. In her spare time, Christina enjoys foreign cinema, reading the classics, and cooking traditional Greek recipes that have been handed down from her grandmother.


Christina, tell us about your road to publication.


My road to publication has been a challenging one, due to the fact that I am a poet and a novelist. Both have similarities but are somewhat very unique in their own way. I self-published my poetry books through Amazon and Ingram Sparks. My first poetry book was published in 2016 and my latest one, this past summer of 2021. I taught myself everything about self-publishing, hiring illustrators, format specialists, editors, and book cover designers to assist me on my journey. I found a traditional publisher for my two novels, The Wanting and Crush. That road is somewhat easier, in a sense, that you have the publisher and editor guiding you and assisting you along the way. 


Recently, the traditional publishing company for my two novels had to shut down for personal reasons, and I gratefully joined The Wild Rose Press Publishing Company. Whether you self-publish or publish with a traditional publishing company, as a writer, you still have to produce a polished final copy that is ready for print. 


The most challenging of all my books, was my recent poetry collection, Love & Metaxa. It was accepted and rejected three times, due to various circumstances, and the pandemic. After the third attempt to publish it, it was already uploaded on pre-order with a particular publishing company before they broke the news to me that they were not going to be able to publish my manuscript due to their own personal circumstances and issues. I tried not to take it personally, but I was left high and dry. I had to continue the editing process on my own, with the help of my editor and friend Alexandra Meehan, who was with my every step of the way. 


I had to change a few specs on the cover that they designed for me. I had to redo the formatting completely. What I didn’t expect and what I wasn’t told by them is how the “pre-orders” that were sold under their label, were already printed and ordered. To my surprise, and horror at the time, there were sixty copies of my pre-order ordered and shipped on the release date. Hence, after numerous emails to Ingram Sparks, and a slight meltdown, I realized that the old version and the new version of my book were floating around in the universe. It was a stressful time for me, but I survived the chaos. I learned the greatest lesson, if you upload your manuscript on Ingram Sparks for pre-order, you better make sure it is the final copy! In the past, I had never done a pre-order with my other poetry books. 


I am proud to say, that from the feedback that I have had from my readers, my self-published copy is turning out to be a well-received book, with a soft cover and a beautiful format design. 


What do you feel is the most challenging part of being an author?


The most challenging part of being an author is having the time to write without being interrupted. Also, partaking in all the social media and promoting your books and your brand continuously. I find it draining and lacking in creativity when I have to promote my books. I know I should do more, I know I should ask people to read my books, I know what I have to do, but I would rather use my spare time writing than being on social media. My favorite platform is Twitter. I have met many writers and poets on there and I find it is my best outlet. I still use it to write some thoughts and tweet ideas, but I find it challenging to keep promoting my books. I know my fans and followers like my tweets better than they like my book promotions, so I do it once in a while rather than every day. I find there is not one way of being an author. I prefer to be raw and myself, hence followers will buy my books based off of my unique vision, rather than a tweet of my book with no connection to me. It’s challenging promoting yourself everywhere. I think writers have to choose their favorite platform and focus on that rather than be all over the place and achieve a minimal result. 


It’s challenging to be a writer most of all, because our minds never rest. I am thinking of a new novel even as I write my old one. 

 

What do you enjoy about being an author?


The fact is that I live my daily life as a teacher in a public school, and a Course Lecturer for a university. I write books and poetry and I am an author, but I find it hard to enjoy being an author. I find it hard to communicate with people what it feels like to be an author. It gets confusing for me when the lines blur. I don’t live the life of an author because I can’t afford to sit home and write, except when I am off during the summer. I would love to sit at home and write all year long and dedicate my days to writing, but life as we know it is expensive. 


I enjoy the parts when people reach out to me and tell me how they are inspired by my writing or loved my book. I am humble when it comes to my work and excited to talk about my writing when people ask and care. I should shout it out loudly that I am a writer but most of the time when people ask me what I do, I say, “I’m a teacher.” 


How do you develop characters?


I develop characters by taking mental notes of people I meet, people I have met, and people I will meet. I research names and their meanings. I like how names roll off the tongue. I like how characters are flawed. I like tragic heroes. I am Greek, so I think of all the Greek tragedies ever written and the characters that formed them, created the essence of historical figures we try to decipher today. I research jobs, characteristics, public figures, and places. 

I delve deep and even use my own experience from time to time. I remember stories that were told to me from a young age. 


I develop characters who I would like to meet, and ones who I would stay away from and are toxic.


I like when my characters have so many imperfections, but are still loved, despite it all. 


How do you come up with your plots?


I come up with my plots while I write. The ideas come to me during the writing process and the stream of consciousness awareness. It is as if my mind is visualizing the characters and the scenes as they are being written. I don’t know what will happen from chapter to chapter, but when it comes to my first draft, it is all through stream of consciousness. 


What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?


My latest book that is coming out on Sept. 27th is an erotic romance novel. It all started when I received a beautiful journal as a gift from one of my students. I opened the journal and started to write a poem, on July 4, 2010. It was 7:45 a.m. and I woke up with a poem in my head. I wrote “I love your soul” on top and the number one for the page number. I flipped to the final page of that journal and I wrote, “New Book Idea : Serena – Teddy” and the first two chapters were hand written poems turned into prose. It started out as a poem and then it turned into love letters, and finally a book. The creative process has no boundaries. 


When I started writing this story of Serena and Teddy, I had no idea where it would take me. My imagination ran with it. 


 I don’t write any outlines when it comes to my novels or poetry books. I go with the flow of the words and the characters. I did know that I wanted to write about two people and how they were destined to meet. I also wanted to write about their sexual awakening happening at the same time. This is not your typical erotic romance novel. I did not follow any formula, but the one guiding my fingertips. I have learned that when it comes to coming up with an idea for a novel, I need to merely write it out and the words will come rather than sit and think about it. I am more of a stream of consciousness type of writer when it comes to both my poems and my books. 


My other novel Crush, which is a paranormal romance novel, is also not a typical love story. I wanted to make my vampires unique and so I researched Greek folklore and came up with my own terminology and definitions of vampires. At the time that I was writing The Wanting, Crush was getting rejected left and right. Then one day, in 2012, it was accepted by MuseItUp Publishing. 


I worked closely with Lea, the editor,  and years later she published The Wanting. She helped me with the editing in both novels and helped me become a better writer, as much as Alexandra Meehan helped me become a better poet.


A writer needs an editor more than she needs coffee!


Tell us about your latest book, The Wanting.


 It’s an intimate account of sexual awakening. Between two people with a magnetic pull and connection that leads them to each other. It is an erotic tale of relationships and their internal struggles as told through dialogue with themselves. 


One night, Serena and Teddy are out at a bar and they both meet and fall for another person. Serena meets Ben, an attractive eBook writer and Teddy meets Melina, a sexually charged school teacher. The story that unfurls, is a roller coaster ride of two erotic journeys. Questions arise...Are two people meant to be together? What is serendipity? Do soulmates exist?


The Wanting is a book about the confusion between sex and love. It is a modern romance into the mysterious world of sex and the power it holds over our minds. 


What’s your next project?


I am working on a few projects at the time. I have a finished poetry book that I am submitting to publishing companies. I am also working on a collaborative poetry book with my poet friends, Alexandra Meehan and Jacquie Prebich. We want to feature all our poems in one book to showcase our different writing styles through similar themes. 


Over the course of the summer I started to write a series that I need to edit and rework based on a group of friends and their romantic relationships in foreign cities. I am on Book 1 and Book 2 now. It is the first draft. I am hoping to finish it by next summer.


I also have a full-length manuscript that I have been working on the past couple of years that I keep changing. 


As you can see, I have a lot going on at all times and my mind rarely rests. 


Here are Christina's buy link and contacts to find out more about her work:


https://www.amazon.com/Wanting-Christina-Strigas-ebook/dp/B09C2HYFDN/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1L9NIGYVWDBGL&dchild=1&keywords=the+wanting+christina+strigas&qid=1631554492&sr=8-1

https://christinastrigas.com/

https://twitter.com/christinastriga?

https://www.facebook.com/christinastrigasauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/c.strigas_sexyasspoet/?hl=en

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/christina-strigas

https://tinyletter.com/christinastrigas


Thank you Christina for being my guest on this week's My Writing Corner.  Any questions or comments for Christina?

An Autumn View

Fall is upon us and the autumn colors are making their colorful showing,  reminding us that Winter isn't far away. That means stocking u...