Meet The Author Monday – MJL Evans

This week’s featured author is MJL Evans.  As usual we will have my comments/questions in BLUE with MJL in GREEN.
megan bio

Thank you for stopping by MJL. Let’s jump right in and talk about your first forays into the literary world.
I was read to growing up and I listened to audiobooks, so I believe this encouraged to be an avid reader from a young age.

What genre excites you the most? Any other favorites? 
I really enjoy horror, fantasy, literary fiction, and erotica, Basically if it sounds interesting to me, I’ll read it.

Sounds pretty eclectic. What made you decide to start writing your own stories?
I’ve been writing stories from a very young age, they were my favourite homework assignments. I was inspired by what I read. Books like Alice in Wonderland, Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, and Little Women, they all fed my imagination.

Wonderful choices. Do you consider yourself a writer of a specific genre, or do you dabble in several?
Not really, I like dabbling. I mix genres in my stories. For example, No Quarter: Dominium is a mixture of historical fiction, romance, adventure, suspense and humour. LIfe isn’t just one genre, so my stories develop into whatever seems most natural.

Characters do tend to take on a life of their own sometimes. How did your publishing journey play out?
I became an Indie Author starting in 2013. At the time I hadn’t written in many years, it was always something I wanted to revisit. What pushed me back into writing was a routine surgery that went wrong and I almost bled to death (sounds melodramatic, I know!). But what it did was made me reevaluate what was important to me and I’ve been writing like hell ever since! 

Well, that is exciting. I’m glad you recovered to bring your stories to life. Do you have any other interests you’d like to share?
I am also a visual artist who dabbles in acrylics, oils and watercolours. Also, I read a lot and cater to my two senior cats, who spend a lot of their time trying to push their way onto my keyboard!

Cats and keyboards, a pretty common foil to getting any writing done. Now you’re situation is a bit different than my previous featured authors, as you have a partner. Can you tell us about that?
I like writing my own stories, however, I’ve found that having a co-author is a great way to challenge my story ideas. We don’t always agree and sometimes I want to throw a thesaurus at his head, but it keeps the story-line fresh and ultimately makes the story better.

Great perspective MJL. I’m glad you stopped by and chatted with us today. If anyone would like to find more information, or buy one of MJL’s books, you can find her at all the links below.

Website
Facebook

Twitter @noquarterseries
Twitter @artistmjlevans
Instagram mjlevans

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And for any authors looking to be our featured author of the week, you can get details and sign up HERE.

Author Interview- Melinda Kucsera

I have a great new friend to introduce you to today, my Gentle Readers. Melinda Kucsera is a fellow author with two works currently on Amazon. I have added her to my To Be Read pile (which never seems to get smaller) and I think you should too. In the style of my previous interviews, I will put my comments/questions in BLUE and Melinda will be GREEN.

Let’s start this off with something easy since almost all writers are avid readers as well. Is there a specific event or person which made you a reader?
Like many other writers, I grew up reading. My mother is a voracious reader who didn’t much care for television. So she allowed my sibs and I only 1 hour of TV per day. So yes, I missed out on most of the 80s shows. When I was a kid, her ‘one hour’ rule irked me, but now I’m grateful to her. Not following a ton of TV shows frees me up to read and write more. Though I grew up reading, I was never as voracious a reader as mother was until I discovered audiobooks. Now my audiobook habit outstrips her ebook addiction and we have a good laugh about that when we get together to talk about books.

That’s funny about your mom. Sometimes I wish I had watched less TV as a kid. Maybe I should try this with my kids. Since you prefer audiobooks, what are you favorite books to listen to?
Fantasy, thrillers, mysteries, police procedurals, Sci-fi especially military and hard sci-fi, physics, astronomy and other nonfiction science books. I love the Great Courses series of audiobooks.

I may have to check those out myself, though I am not much for audiobooks. What pushed you across that threshold from reader into writer?
My imagination. I invented a fantasy world before I started school and I carried it with me everywhere I went. Every day I refined it, and I spent hours imagining adventures for the characters living there. One rainy day, I started writing those stories down to distract myself from the argument my parents were having. I wrote until my hand cramped and then I switched hands and brute forced more letters onto the page. Some of them were actually readable thanks to ambidexterity. After that, dreaming of adventures wasn’t enough. I had to note them down.
World building is generally a long process if you want to get it right, so kudos to you on the dedication. I probably don’t really have to ask this but for the sake of the interview, what is your writing specialty?
Fantasy, epic or paranormal non-romantic though, I like action and adventure!

We know your world building was a long journey, but once you had all this down, tell us how you went from cramped up hands to published writer.
My journey is an eccentric one. I work in the publishing industry at the intersection of design, IT, editorial, business and marketing. I’d already been researching and thinking hard about self-publishing when the unthinkable happened. My sister died suddenly at the age of 29. Before she passed, she asked me to publish the Curse Breaker series I was working on at the time. Grief crushed me. I crawled into audiobooks and took refuge there until the pain lessened and the tears stemmed. I’d lost my best friend and she never got to read the story I was most proud of, the penultimate sequence in the Curse Breaker saga.
In the dark days that followed, I clung to the promise I’d made to her. I would not let her down. I published the first story from the series, Curse Breaker: Enchanted, on the second anniversary of my sister’s death as a memorial for her and all those who never had the chance to chase their dreams.

I am very sorry to hear about your sister. To shift gears a little bit, what do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
When not writing, I’m a project manager for a privately held publishing company that I do not own. They don’t publish fiction, so there is no conflict and my coworkers are quite proud to have an author on staff. I can usually be found listening to an audiobook and sneaking onto audible.com to search for my next great listen or chatting with other coworkers about the audiobook they’re listening to. I’m also fitness/health enthusiast. So if you pass by my neighborhood or my office, you’ll find me out there wearing the rubber off my sneaker’s soles. I love to walk.

Well, keep up the good work and thank you for stopping by to chat with me for a few minutes.

If you would like to find out more about Melinda or her work, you can find her at the links below.

Melinda Kucsera’s Website

cursebreakerenchanted
Curse Breaker: Enchanted is available from Amazon

Facebook

Twitter

Novella Launch and Novel Relaunch!!

Well Gentle Readers I have some exciting news. I have launched a new ebook novella, “Haunting of House 1273”. This haunted tale is available on Amazon for FREE through Halloween 2016. I hope you will take a look, give it a download and let me know what you think in the reviews. This is a bit of a departure from my normal writing but it was a strange dream I knew I had to put down on paper. Huge shoutout to Steger Productions for the great cover.

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Also, I have an expanded second edition of my debut novel “Beginnings” that went live this weekend. Amazon is still showing the old cover for the ebook, but I assure you it has all the new stuff in it. If you had bought the book in the past, you should be able to get the update for free.

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On This Day – March 31st

charlesdickens

Today in 1836, the literary world was treated to the first monthly installment of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Charles Dickens published this serial under pseudonym of Boz at just 24 years old. Another early 20s successful writer. Although to compare myself with Charles Dickens would be a prime example of hubris run amok. The man was a genius.

I think the lesson I am learning from seeing these authors become successful so young is that I need to step up my game and focus on writing more and procrastinating less. You might see some gaps in this series from time to time. It isn’t because I am not writing my Gentle Readers, but mainly because nothing from that day really spoke to me. For now, I’m going to work on my own creative projects. Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.

Spell a Day – Feb 28th 2016

Time to take stock of where we are so far this year my Gentle Readers. We are 2 months in, one-sixth of the year is over. How is everyone doing on their goals for the year?

Here was my list I made:
1 – I want to finish the rewrite/editing of my first book so that the improved second edition can be released. – The second edition is at my editor friend getting looked over, hoping for a spring release.
2 – I want to self pub my novella (still in the editing phase). – I have the edits back, just haven’t worked through them all yet.
3 – I want to finish, edit, and self pub my the second book in my Family Heritage series this year. – Waiting on feedback to the extended ending of book 1 so I can flow it right into book 2.
4 – I would like to make some major progress on my high fantasy (think Tolkien) series. I have the skeleton of a realm, deities, antagonists/protagonists. Just have to finish plotting and then get to work fleshing out the stories. I haven’t quite figured out if it will be a series of short stories/novellas, or if each set of characters will end up in their own full blown novel. Since they will also overlap I have to make sure my outlines are complete for consistency. – Tabled this one for now.
5 – I plan to get myself down in weight before summer. I have at least the 20-30 to lose that I want to, so from there I will evaluate what I still can lose healthily. – Still holding steady where I was at the beginning of the year. At least I haven’t gained back any of the 30lbs I lost last year.
6 – I want to blog at least once a week, if not more often. I will be looking for topics to discuss. As part of this I want to do at least 2 book reviews a month. I need to get a submission page setup for anyone interested in having me review their work. – So far this is going well. I am averaging at least 1 book a week and my Spell a Day posts seem to have gathered some avid readers. I hope everyone is enjoying them.
7 – It would be nice to put together a book of poetry as well. I have a notebook almost full and a thumb drive with a few dozen from when I was younger. Just not sure if I have enough that would be of interest to others. The ones I have blogged here have received favorable reviews so perhaps there is potential in others as well. – This is buried under the other writing projects.
8 – I want to bring down and gain a better handle on my temper. I am not a homicidal maniac, but there are times where a cooler head would be a better face to present. I have noticed my son picking up some of my habits and I hope that if I can break my cycle, I can help him to not struggle like I have. – Things seem to be going well in this category. No blow-ups. 

A few other updates, my home office is done and so is the nursery. We are all ready for the new baby to arrive in April. I am excited and scared all at the same time. That’s all for now my Gentle Readers. Take stock of where you are and keep striving for those goals.

 

Spell a Day – Feb 13th 2016

Today’s topic is special in and of itself, but also because tomorrow, Valentine’s Day, is also my grandmother’s birthday. She would be turning 86 if she were still alive. Not a day goes by that I do not miss her and wonder what she would say about how my life has changed in the last few years since she left us here for the next great adventure.

Parentalia is an ancient Roman tradition where one honors their ancestors in some way. Many would visit the graves, bringing flowers and wine, to commune with their forefathers(and mothers) in a meaningful way. I think this is a lovely tradition. Since my grandmother passed I have tried to spend some time on her birthday to remember the lessons she taught me on the road to becoming who I am today. She was always filled with compassion and forgiveness for others, even when better judgement said the person felt no remorse for their actions. She always tried to see the good in people, especially her children and grandchildren. The world is a darker place for her departure.

I have shared this before but this is a poem I wrote when she was alive and we used to play cards in the morning when I got off from my third shift job.

Spending Time with My Grandma

There are mornings where I have a new pastime.
It involves a visit with my aging grandma.
We sit and talk and play a few hands of cards.
While I talk to her about my work and day,
she listens intently, always with a few kind words,
or a bit of advice to help me on my way.

Staying with my mom, she is right on the way
home from work. This new fun pastime
of mine is sometimes hard to put into words
what it truly means to me. When I visit grandma
she always tells me she misses me every day,
and is quick to bring out the deck of cards.

Her shaking, aged hands shuffle the cards,
everything on the table cleared out of the way.
With school and work I can only visit every few days,
but nothing can take away the joy of my pastime.
The time is precious that I spend with grandma,
and the hours spent is more important than any words.

We pass the time in laughs and exchanging of words,
shuffling, dealing, shuffling, and dealing the cards.
“I am going to beat you this time,” says my grandma,
getting three aces and clearing the cards out of the way.
I think she has as much fun as I do with our pastime.
With excitement I wait for the visits on those days.

When it is time for me to leave at the end of those days,
a sadness creeps into my heart. We put into brief words
the happiness and comfort that comes with our pastime.
The table has been reset, the scorecard and the cards
have been put in the drawer and out of the way.
With a hug I leave, saying, “I love you grandma.”

The time with my grandma on those special days,
will always outweigh the advice or the words,
or the little deck of cards of our favorite pastime.

Spend time with those loved ones that are getting on in age Gentle Readers. I would give up anything to play one more hand of cards with my grandmother.

Spell a Day – Feb 10th 2016

Ash Wednesday, not a particularly important day unless you are part of the Christian faith. While I may not be in the realm of “practicing” anything these days, I still respect their traditions, as long as someone doesn’t try to cram them down my throat.

For today however, we are going to talk about reconnecting with nature. Even when I would have classified myself as a Christian (Methodist to be exact) I always felt this awe inspiring power in nature. As a kid I would go fishing with my cousin. We never caught much in the ponds near our house but it was still fun. As I grew older I became more of an inside person. I blame technology and too many books, along with the Carolina heat in the summer.

Shortly after moving to Wisconsin I enrolled in a university with the intention of becoming a high school English and Theater teacher. Yeah, I wanted to be that teacher. The one that assigns the 2000 word creative writing exercises then covers the grammar and spelling mistakes with red ink and an encouraging word to just “Keep writing, the rest is all in the editing.”

During one of my assignments in Creative Writing 101, we were tasked with finding a quiet spot in nature to reflect. In the midst of a snowy winter, I went deep down the cross country skiing/hiking trails on campus and found a relatively clean downed tree to sit upon. I was far enough away from any roads to forget I was even in the city. No cars could reach me where I was. I sat on this log and breathed the crisp air until my fingers and toes went numb. It was glorious.

I highly recommend finding a special place to do this same exercise and write down your impressions and feelings from the experience. Just dress warmly if you are doing this in a snow covered forest like I did.

Take care my Gentle Readers. Until next time.

Spell a Day – Feb 2nd 2016

Imbolc, Groundhog day, The Feast of St. Brigid. That is right Gentle Readers, we are halfway though winter. While many of us in the US will be waiting for that little rodent to pop out of his home, I will be wishing for a more traditional Irish celebration. St. Brigid, the Matron saint of Ireland, shares her name and her feastday with the Celtic goddess of Inspiration. There are traditions of feasting and gift giving to ring in the coming spring. As the plow is also associated with this time of year, I read about a tradition where children decorate the plow and take it from house to house demanding sweets. The homes that failed to buy off these young people may find fresh furrows in their front lawns. I doubt we would get away with this today unless you really knew the neighbors. Or they wanted to plant a vegetable garden there.

The awakening of spring as it begins to win the war against the cold harshness of winter leading up to the spring equinox (at least for us in the northern hemisphere) is a cause for celebration and renewal. Today is the day to seek the blessings of Brigid for creativity and inspiration in your life and pursuits. Be they of the musical, artistic or literary ilk, she is especially important and this is a momentous time. Dust off those notebooks or tools of your trade and get back to your passions.

It’s also time to start that spring cleaning and purification phase of the year. Grab some sage smudge and push out the winter spirits to make room for spring. Organize that garage for the upcoming yard sale season, or to donate to charity.

A little springtime poetry. Until next time my friends.

Spring’s Awakening
Stretching to the sun
Seeking its life-giving warmth
Spring’s awakening

Pushing back the cold
Of Winter’s frozen embrace
Shaking off the ice

Relief is coming
From the bitter winds and snow
Of Winter’s harsh reign

Eyes turn to the skies
The sun peeking through the clouds
Spring’s Awakening

Spell a Day – Jan 28th 2016

moneyevil

So, I did a bit of reading and reviewing instead of keeping up with my Spell a Day my Gentle Readers, and I apologize. I hope you will check out the reviews I have posted and will be posting in the next day or so. Today’s topic regards money. Now, the Spell a Day has to do with redefining your relationship with money in order to bring abundance and prosperity. I went in a different direction with my poem this time. I hope you enjoy.

Money = Evil?
Some believe Money
Is the rot of all Evil
But why is this so?

Should we place blame
On inanimate currency
For man’s failings
And passions run amok?

Where is our moral compass
Why is it acceptable to dodge
What we responsibility we have
Because of want of money
Who thought this through?
How have we reached this point
When we can justify genocide
Because of want of money

Gold coins and jewels
Exchanged for dollars and pounds
Classic bait and switch

How does Money feel?
Being blamed for war and death
Throughout history

Spell a Day – Jan 26th 2016

Tuesday. One of my favorite days of the week Gentle Readers. This is because, unlike most people who work Monday through Friday. Tuesday is MY Friday. Depending on which week it is in my rotation, it is either a 2 day Friday (and I work the weekend beginning Friday morning) or it is a 5 Day Friday, granting me no work obligations until the following Monday. Pretty sweet deal for only giving up every other weekend.

Tuesday is also a day held to be sacred to Mars. Today’s topic focuses in on one of Mars’ traits, Courage. Courage can be shown in a lot of different ways. To some, the epitome of courage is our military service men and women. I am not going to argue that point. My little brother served two tours overseas in the early to mid 2000s. My grandfather was a marine in WWII and served in the Pacific theater. Nothing should ever be taken from the courage these people show. It is deplorable that our nation treats lazy baby factory welfare moms and illegals with anchor babies better than our military veterans. Before you get all up in arms about that last sentence, think about it a little. We have all probably met/seen those people who just like to bleed the system. I am not talking about single moms who are trying to make ends meet getting a little boost. I am talking about the ones popping kids out every few years to get a bigger check so they can keep themselves in nail appointments and fancy electronics. The freeloaders. Anyway, I digress.

Courage can also be found in small ways. Stand up for yourself and chase your dreams, no matter how big or small. It took me over a decade to try and share my writing with the world, and I am still not quite happy with it so I am going to be revising/editing again. To all the aspiring writers, poets and geeks out there, Don’t Give Up on your dream. Learn your chosen craft and show the world that you have value. Sure, there are going to be naysayers, but do you think any of the greats do not have moments of doubt? Even J.K. Rowling was rejected a couple dozen times. Now look at her. Dr. Seuss faced similar rejection. I grew up learning to read using his books. If he had given up, and not shown the courage to pursue his dreams, I don’t know what I would have learned to read while sitting with my grandfather.

Find your courage today Gentle Readers and chase your dreams. Until next time, just keep writing.