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Thursday, 15 August 2019

My Chat with Ava Black-Author of "The Bug Jar"

My latest interview is with Ava Black, author of The Bug Jar.  It's a psychological thriller and can be purchased on Amazon. She's been writing for ten years which she says there's a lot to love and hate about writing. Find out why she says that by and which authors inspired her to write. 

Ava autographing her book.

What do you love about your life right now?

Right now I love that readers have changed writing’s landscape by becoming more willing to buy, read, and review independently/self-published books. This changed my life. In the past ten years, more independent presses have opened and succeeded, while there are more best-selling authors are abandoning larger systems to self-publish. This move towards indie presses and self-publishing helps writers maintain more creative control, story rights, and profits. Overall, traditional publishing still dominates the industry, but I love that this shift allows marginalized voices to be heard and non-formulaic stories to be told. It’s great to see that readers support this change. Because they have, I’ve been able to tell a non-traditional tale about a mentally ill mistress, who readers don’t really like, but for some reason love. Thank you, readers! I love that!

How long have you been writing and what do you love about it?

For ten long, tedious, painful years, I’ve been writing. Joking! But not really. There is a lot to love and a lot to hate about writing. Most writers say they love getting lost in the story and spending time with their characters. It’s a world you can control (sometimes). It’s an escape. It can also be an emotional purge and a way to voice thoughts and ideas that may not be appropriate to speak. I love the release writing brings. But I don’t like how obsessive I become when writing. Many of my writer friends experience the same challenge. Often, when the chapter is going well, and the story starts to flow, we’d rather keep writing than eat, sleep, work, or take the kids to practice. There’s something about unraveling a scene in a rhythmic way that makes writing addictive. That addictive quality is great for the book and self-fulfillment, but agonizing when literary agents reject the novel. It makes you fear that it will never be read. That you’re a failure, that you’re less-than, as a writer. Rejection is a whole other topic that I could write about for days.  

Was there a particular book or author that inspired you to write?

Chelsea Cain and Jennifer Hillier are incredible authors. The way they weave plot threads together forces readers to fully engage in the narrative and never skip pages. I admire these writers so much that I sent them fan mail, and to my surprise, they responded. Their responses were incredibly warm and generous. When I told them I was a writer who was struggling to get published, they immediately became candid about their struggles to be published or maintain their sales. To have authors, who perform at their levels, talk so openly about struggling, made me realize that we’re all in the same boat. It also made me realize that I was like them because what drives us is our love of writing. Knowing that I felt the same way about writing as top-tier writers did, made me think that I had what it took to be one.  

Tell me about your book, The Bug Jar, and what were the challenges and joys of writing it?

The Bug Jar is a psychological thriller which blends my friend’s personal experience with bipolar disorder and a fictional murder. In the novel, the heroine, the bipolar mistress of a Chicago mayoral candidate, is accused of killing his child. She remembers that she was at his home on the night of the murder, but because of a misdiagnosis, and the effects of inappropriately prescribed medications, can’t remember what she was doing there or why she went. She investigates and finds evidence which suggests the murder was a cover-up manufactured by an unlikely suspect to evade a political scandal, but also uncovers evidence which indicates her absolute guilt. She struggles with herself, and the detectives tailing her, to reveal the truth about her involvement until she is institutionalized and meets….oops! No spoilers!

One of the biggest challenges I faced in penning this novel was maintaining the anonymity and integrity of my friend. She is an educated professional, working in a high-stress industry, and does not disclose her illness. I didn’t want to portray mental illness as something wild and scary. It is a real challenge faced by millions of Americans who risk their jobs, incomes, and families if they reveal too much to the wrong person. That being said, I did want to showcase the silent screams so many release. I wanted them to be accurate and truthful. My friend was incredible in helping me find that voice, but I struggled to hear it because sometimes is ugly, painful, and disturbing in ways that nobody talks about. Writing pieces of her truth, while preserving her dignity, and the dignity of anyone with a mental disorder is incredibly difficult because so much shame and humiliation surround it.

How long did it take for you to complete the book?

Generally, it takes nine to twelve months to write a manuscript which is fast considering I work full time and raise two sons. But I become pretty obsessed with whatever I’m writing, which helps it along. The querying process, however, is a bit different. When a writer finishes a manuscript, they pen query letters to literary agents asking the agent to represent the manuscript. If an agent agrees to represent the work, they begin the task of pitching and selling the manuscript to publishers (Big 5 publishers don’t accept manuscripts which are represented by literary agents). The process of securing a literary agent can take months or years. Currently, there are four books on my backlist that are unpublished because agents aren’t interested. Most of the feedback agents gave included something along the lines of “… a page-turner, but not for a mass-market audience.” “… read it in three days, but it is too fringe for a commercial audience.” “Not commercial enough.” After about a year or one hundred rejection letters, I usually give up on querying a novel. But with The Bug Jar, I’d conducted so many interviews with so many subject-matter experts, spent so much time researching, and so much time driving around the setting (Chicago) collecting sensory details, that I couldn’t let it go. I’d just put too much work into it. After the hundredth rejection letter, instead of tucking it under the bed and forgetting about it, I decided to self-publish.  

Where can your book be purchased and what formats?

The Bug Jar can be purchased through Amazon or Barnes & Noble in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats. It is also available at independent booksellers throughout the Midwest.

Are you working on another book?

I’m always working on another book! My next novel is about a terminally ill, female villain who blackmails a friend into killing her before the illness does. If the friend fails, the villain will reveal a secret that destroys both of their lives. The inspiration for this book was my terminally ill cousin who died of ALS. I ran the plot idea by her and she loved it.

Ava with Micki Colgan. It was her first sale!

Stephen King is quoted as saying, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”  Do you agree and why?

Agree! A writer can learn so much from reading. Grammar, formatting, punctuation, and other skills can be acquired by studying well-written works. It’s great to have unique ideas for plot and characters, but unless the story is told in a way that captivates readers, not just the person writing it, all is lost. Also, I just have to say here, when someone says, “I don’t have time to write,” I cringe. I think about my writer friends, most of whom work full-time and have kids, who write every day. They write for twenty minutes at lunch. They write for thirty minutes before bed. They get up an hour early to write. There is always time to write. The writer just has to decide whether or not writing is important enough to them to do it.

What’s been on your reading list for the summer?

This summer I’ve read My Darkest Prayer by S.A. Cosby, a talented new voice in crime fiction. Shawn Cosby (S.A. Cosby) struggled for years to have his work read, but was recently nominated for an Anthony award and secured representation by a well-known New York literary agent. I’m so excited for him! He is truly talented. I’m very much looking forward to his upcoming releases. Likewise, anything by the fabulous Renee James is on my reading list. Renee is a tremendously talented author who writes the Bobbi Logan series, the first of which was Transition to Murder which profiles a Chicago hairdresser who finds herself investigating the brutal murder of her client, a transgender woman.

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Quote by Anne Frank. Does writing do that for you?

Never! Writing actually brings a lot of these feelings to the surface, which is good because you can use them to develop richer characters with emotional depth. Also, my courage is never reborn when writing. Writing makes me question my sentence structure, grammar, concept, theme, character arcs and generally confuses the hell out of me. But if you feel moved or intrigued when you reread the pages, you know you’ve got something good, unless you show it to the world and readers hate it. Writing isn’t great for confidence unless you feel secure in what you’re writtenand I don’t know that any writer ever does.  

Any advice that you can offer to writers who desire to be an author but has allowed fear to stop them?

Fear inhibits your writing’s greatness. When fear causes you to hesitate, you begin to self-edit and whitewash your narrative/dialog because you’re scared people will harshly judge it. That hesitation creates a bland, voiceless character that people will find unreadable. If you feel like you have something that needs to be said or a story that needs to be told, tell it as if you’re talking to your best friend. Uncensored. Unedited. Write it as if nobody will ever read it. Bring that honesty into the novel and let your characters develop without judgment. Let them do what they’d do naturally. Let them lead the way. Once you’re a few chapters into the manuscript, your characters will start taking over and their authentic voices will emerge. You’ll realize that maybe you aren’t in control of the monster you created, but that’s the fun part of it. Don’t let your writing be about you, let it be about something that is greater than you. Once you’ve actually finished the novel, go back into it and edit it in a way that makes it appealing to readers, and the market, if your goal is sales. But during a first draft, the most important thing you can do is realize that you need to get it done. So do it. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t be harsh on yourself. Just write. Eventually, you’ll go back and edit, many times, which will bring your work to a good place that you won’t fear. Save the fear for your release day! Now THAT is scary!

Is there any advice you wish you were given before you started writing?

Years ago, I befriended an up-and-coming Hollywood scriptwriter. We’d chat off-and-on about writing and our struggles to have our works recognized. Over the years, he went on to secure incredible representation and now writes major motion pictures with A-list actors. A while ago, I was approached to write a script for a short, non-Hollywood, indie film, and consulted my Hollywood friend regarding the contract. I told him I was excited about this opportunity because it was a phenomenal validation of my skills. He said that was bullshit. He went on to explain that the best writing he’d ever done was when he helped a terminally-ill woman write her memoir about living with cancer. He stated that the discussions he had with her, and the product they turned out, which remains unpublished, was the best work he had ever done. That really gave me pause. I couldn’t believe a piece of writing that powerful was never published, but he said that publication often has nothing to do with talent, and more to do with money.  Yes, your novel may be the most poignant, impactful piece of literature ever penned, or the most fun and entertaining, but if the system believes it won’t make them enough money, it goes in the recycle bin. Know that you will get rejected. A lot. And it has nothing to do with your skill or dedication. To date, I have over four hundred rejection letters on four novels, and am still unrepresented, but The Bug Jar (a self-published book), has readers on four continents, thirty-four Amazon reviews, forty Net Galley reviews, praise from multiple award-winning authors, award-winning journalists, award-winning bloggers, appeared on multiple blogs in the US and UK, was named a Top Ten Book Of The Year on multiple blogs, and toured about seven bookstores in three states. So writers, know that the worth in your writing has nothing to do with publication contracts or agent approval, but comes from your own sense of accomplishment and the reaction of the readers. Don’t be afraid to say what you want to say or tell the story you want to tell. Tell it and know that you succeeded because you wrote.  

Tell me three fun facts about you.

Fun facts? Um….let’s see. I don’t know that these are fun, but they’re interesting. Maybe.
I can milk a cow.
I can change a tire.
I talk my way out of at least three speeding tickets a year (delete that fact if any of your readers are state troopers!).

I share motivational quotes with my readers, do you have a quote or saying that has inspired or encouraged you during a difficult time or to keep you motivated to go for your dreams?

Honestly, I hate motivational quotes. I think they’re useless. I think the best motivation is listening to how you feel. Take stock of what your internal voice is telling you. Listen to yourself. Not others. When I first started writing, I didn’t tell anyone for a year. Eventually, I had to because I needed critique partners, beta readers, and editors, but getting very quiet and listening to that small voice inside you will always lead you down the right path.  Honor yourself.

Describe yourself in one word.


Click here to check out her book

Follow Ava on social media!


Amazon Profile




Monday, 1 July 2019

Interview with Barrington Marson

My latest interview is up with Barrington Marson of Atlanta and originally from Queens, New York. He's a writer and film director as well owns a film company. He was inspired by George Lucas, John Singleton, among others to direct films. Learn more about Barrington and find out three fun facts about him as well his latest film project.

What do you love about your life right now?
The fact that I can wake up and live out my dreams and inspire people. It’s a beautiful thing! 

Was there any particular film or director that inspired you to write and direct films?

The directors that have inspired me are Akiro Kurosawa, Christopher Nolan, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, John Singleton, Spike Lee, Alfred Hitchcock, and Peter Jackson.
Films that have inspired me are Star Wars, Batman (1989), Lord of the Rings, 12 Angry Men, Dreams by Akiro Kurosawa, E.T., Forest Gump, Godfather 1 & 2, Indiana Jones, and Aliens.

Your company, Barrington Marson Films LLC, has been a company since 2007, what have been some of the struggles creating your film company?

For me, it is getting the finances to tell my stories. Which tends to be most filmmakers hurdles, but I realize when you don’t have the budget write what you can afford in meaning use the resources around you that are free. Get creative as possible, but no matter what keep moving forward! 

What are the joys of being the founder and creator of your film company? 

My joy is to create an opportunity for people to learn and grow working with my company.  

Tell me about your film project and also long did it take for you to write the script?

Abiding has been a story of mine for over 2 years. We are still in production for the film but this being my first feature film, it has been a great learning experience.  
It took about 5-6 months, but I would go and make adjustments throughout because I’m just picky when it comes to my screenplay. 

Where do you go to write your scripts? Is there a particular spot or time of day that is most beneficial to write?

Honestly, whenever I have free time, I’ll work on my script even while I’m at my 9-5, at home, etc. or whenever an idea comes I’ll write. I try to let it happen naturally. 

From what I see from the trailers for Abiding, is that it’s an action pack film with a diverse cast. What’s the movie about?  

The Abiding is a crime thriller about Arthur Fisher, a hitman for the mob, whose family has been made to pay dear prices for his choice profession-the death of his wife and addiction of his only son to cocaine being consequences of Arthur’s career choice. These, however, is nothing compared to what’s coming, as a killer from Arthur’s past is on a determined mission to kill him and everyone close to him. The estranged Fisher family must come together or risk extermination. 
The movie will focus on Arthur and his children and the conflict they go through. 

There’s a quote by Spike Lee, which he states, “Making films has got to be one of the hardest endeavors known to humankind.” Do you agree?

It can be frustrating at times when you don’t have the resources you need and finances,
but I try to make the best of it with having a great script, great cast, and crew. I always
believe hard times have not come to stay but they come to pass. A great quote from Les

Tell me three fun facts about you.
  1. I love spending time with my wife and family.
  2. I enjoy going to movie theaters.
  3. I’m a perfectionist in life. 

Any advice you would like to share with individuals who are wanting to work in the film industry? Is there any advice that you wish you knew about before you started?

Don’t get caught up on how much money you can make but focus on your dreams and your craft. If you do great work, the money will come, and you won’t have to chase it down. 

I share quotes with my readers to inspire and motivate them. Do you have one you can share that uplifts you or motivates you?

“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit. " Les Brown

In one word describe yourself.


Click here for the official trailer to his film Abiding.

Follow Barrington on social media:

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Interview with writer and performer -Grace Aki

Grace Aki, lovely lady with southern charm is leading her dream in New York City with her solo show To Free A Mockingbird. She's been gracing the stage since she was five and has performed in numerous productions with her many gifted talents of acting, storytelling, painting, singing, dancing as well as set designs. She shares some fun facts with me as well as what inspired her to write her show among other juicy tidbits and where you can see her perform live.

What do you love about your life right now?

I love that regardless of how tough life can be, I love that I don’t let it affect my productivity!  I have a great living space, a tolerable cat, and a decent husband.

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being super excited), how excited are you about your upcoming solo performance in New York with your first performance of To Free A Mockingbird?

Well my NY show is actually a workshop. Basically, I’ve invited a ton of people to view the production before it is finalized (kind of like a dress rehearsal.) In the workshop process, you can ask the audience what they remembered or forgot about during the show.  Things that help the writer/director what to keep or discard in the show. This is how changes occur in the developmental process.  Basically, I’m very excited, I’d say I’m at a 12.

Tell me what inspired you to write your show To Free A Mockingbird?

I’ve gotten really inspired by comedians that have turned to storytelling instead of a traditional hour-long stand up special. I have a lot of stories inside me, just bursting to get out ya know? In particular, a roommate of mine when living in the Bronx, Joe, heard me tell a story one late night and convinced me to turn it into a one-woman show...and here we are!

To my understanding, this is going to be a standup performance with storytelling, as a dramedy. What have been the challenges and joys of writing a work directly from your heart?

It’s very scary to perform as yourself, you can’t hide behind a character when the character is you.  The joy, however, is working with people that you feel artistically challenged and elevated by. My director, producers, etc. are a dream and I feel so lucky to have them working with material so close to my heart.

Was there a particular comedian or actor who had the most impact on your writing your solo show?

I think about Mike Birbiglia (Broadway’s The New One) and Hasan Minhaj’s (NETFLIX: Homecoming King) were huge inspirations for me. They were so crafty at blending their tone and execution with humor and drama. I highly recommend their work! The director of Mike Birbiglia’s show, Seth Barrish worked with me on the original workshops of my piece.

What’s your writing process? Do you have a particular place or cut on some music to get the thoughts flowing?

My director, Kate, always says to create a playlist that inspires you and your show. However, my writing process doesn’t involve a lot of writing. I’ve done a lot of transposing from voice recordings. I’m not an organic writer. I have taken recordings from rehearsals and performances and decide what works and what doesn’t.

There’s a quote by George Bernard Shaw that says, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” What are your thoughts on his quote?

I’ll say this, I’ve never had a year where I said, “I did exactly what I did last year.” I believe you should constantly be learning, creating, doing, volunteering. Nobody is ever too young or too old to be trying and perfecting something. I’d say I reinvent myself every year.

Your performances are going to be in New York and Atlanta and possibly Chattanooga as well? Any other cities that you’re planning to perform in?

I may have a show in the DC area in September, stay tuned!
I’ll perform wherever people will have me… seriously.

Are you currently working on any other projects?

I am trying to finish out the year having published the script for this show. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in just a year.

Where do you see yourself in a year?

I hope to be illustrating more and completing my first DIY guide, more information on that later.

Tell me three fun facts about you. Something that maybe your hubby, Damon, doesn’t even know.
  1. Nobody loves cheese more than me. Nobody. Fight me.
  2. I love all forms of trivia... like honestly. trivia on apps, at bars, whatever. Even if I don’t win, I like learning what the right answers were.
  3. I’m an extroverted introvert. I happily enjoy the solitude of watercolor painting at home, a tea and my cat & Damon by my side.
In one word describe yourself.

To Free a Mockingbird
Director: Kate Robards
Written and Performed by: Grace Aki
Wardrobe Consultant: Damian Dominguez
Producers: Double Back Bone Productions + Damon J Gillespie

For tickets to her show at the Atlanta Fringe click here

Keep up to date on her show and fun Instagram Posts with incredible pics and laugh out loud tweets by following her on her social media:

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Interview with Andrea Waltz -Author and Speaker

My latest interview is with Andrea Waltz of Orlando, Florida. She's an author and public speaker and is passionate about helping others to pursue their dreams by encouraging them to go for no! So passionate that she and her husband co-wrote a book all about it.
One of my favorite questions to ask an interviewee is have them tell me three fun facts about them. Well, one of hers is that she met a famous T.V. dog and it's not Lassie. She loves quotes too which is another favorite of mine to share favorite quotes with my readers. You have to keep reading to find out her three fun facts and who that dog was!

What do you love about your life right now?

I’m always involved in new and interesting projects. We’re helping people write and publish books. And I do a lot of sharing of the Go for No message each and every day which I love. And my husband Richard and I started the year off working out and eating healthier which is great and much needed!

How did you and your co-author Richard Fenton come up with the book Go For No that chronicles four days in the life of fictional character Eric Bratton a copier salesman? Is it based on someone’s life or experience?

The character of Eric is made up and the entire situation which is a little “supernatural” in nature is also made up of course. We were actually inspired by a movie called The Sixth Sense which has a really crazy twist at the end, so we wanted something that was different and fantastical.  Now that said, the way Eric discovers ‘go for no’ selling suits in the clothing store and having Harold challenge him is real and is Richard’s story.

I’ve read Go For No twice and I love it! I can already see a difference in how I respond to being told no; I don’t become upset about it like I used to. Years ago, I allowed NO to impact me very negatively. What are some of the feedback that you receive from readers of your book?

That is so great and it’s the best thing about writing the book – having people change their mindset like you have.  Many people tell us the book was not what they expected. They did not know it was a story. A lot of people really like the idea of meeting a future version of themselves and what secrets or lessons that person could offer them.  Many people have told us that they never thought to fail more or be willing to hear no more. It is so counter-intuitive. We love that we can create such a shift in a quick amount of time.

The book cover for Go for No!

Without giving away the story, what’s the takeaway that you want all future readers of your book to know and why they should read it?

Our goal is to “liberate” people from fears of failure and rejection. It’s one thing to get a ‘no’ from someone else but we feel it’s criminal to give yourself the ‘no.’ We would like people to exercise their courage and take a chance and ask. And, over time, become better and better at it. We hope that people learn the lessons but also have a fun time reading it and lose themselves in the story.

How long have you been writing?

We’ve been writing “professionally” (meaning making money from writing books) for 20 years! We’ve always self-published which is fine because we have sold many books to companies who give them to their salespeople and managers.
We have written several fables but  Go For No! is by far our most successful. We have also written a ten-book paranormal suspense series under the pen name, Diandra Archer. That series is called Onyx Webb. Although we’ve not yet sold anything to Hollywood,  we’ve also written a few movie screenplays as well. Of all the things we do, writing –teaching lessons and creating stories – brings us the most joy.  

Are you working on writing more books?

We have so many ideas for books. We are working on a new fable which we intend to publish this year. We’re publishing a couple books for other people and speaking so it takes away time to write. Plus, we always have such a hard time choosing what to write next. We also have a sequel to Go for No! on the agenda for someday. 

Besides writing, you’re also a public speaker as well; did writing the book spark the public speaking? 

We intentionally wrote the book in order to book speaking engagements. It’s one of the best ways to get your message out there. And people who plan events typically don’t just want someone who can speak, they want to know the message is there. They want someone with expertise and authority and having a book establishes that.  

What’s the main topic that you speak about and how does it impact your life to be a public speaker?

Our speaking is focused entirely on the Go for No! message of teaching people to hear ‘no’ more often to increase success. The funny thing is that before I found a message I loved and believed in, I absolutely hated speaking in front of groups and now I can’t shut up!
We typically speak at business and sales conferences and so there is some travel involved since we will go to wherever the meeting is being held.  

Andrea on stage.

Were you fearful of public speaking at one time and if so, how did you overcome it?

My husband and co-author Richard isn’t really fearful of public speaking at all. I was terrified of it. It took a few years of practice and many practice engagements to get better. Also what I discovered was that it was having a message like Go for No that I was so passionate about that made all the difference. I care about sharing it so much I got over my fears quickly.
Any advice you can offer to someone who is fearful of going for his or her dreams because of past failures outside of going for the no?

Success and failure are not choices. You can’t have one without the other. The trick is, the faster you fail, the faster you can succeed. You’ve got to get back to that tenacity you had as a kid when failure was part of the process and you didn’t care what people thought of you. Try to remember this: “No one is thinking about you. They’re thinking about themselves just like you.” (That’s from a book called Olivia Joules) It’s not easy and it requires courage, but you have to decide how much you really want something. You get to choose.    

Who are your biggest supporters?

My husband and I are definitely our biggest supporters as we work together and a lot of people in our family circle don’t really get what we do. We also count so many people as supporters who are fans and readers. All those people, all the comments and feedback is so wonderful to hear to know we’ve made an impact.

 What’s your favorite holiday and what do you love about it?

My favorite is Halloween. I am not a winter person but I do love the Fall. And candy. And dressing up so Halloween is my perfect “holiday!”

Tell me the one thing that motivates you to go for your dreams and to be successful?

I know that life is short, uncertain and nothing is guaranteed. Jim Carrey, the actor said one of my all-time favorite quotes: “you can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” I try to keep that in mind all the time! 

I share motivational and inspiring quotes with my readers, do you have one you can share?

I am a LOVER of quotes! But here is more of a poem that is one of my favorites:
“I’d rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I’d rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far; for a might have-been has never been, but a has was once an are.”
- Milton Berle

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

My husband and I love movies and theater and performances of all kind. Hugh Jackman is performing in a city near us so we got tickets to see him. Hamilton came to our city, so we’re going to that. It’s not like we go every week, but it’s definitely one of our favorite things to do. I also really enjoy cooking – I’m a fan of the service Plated which has really helped me learn how to be a decent cook by sending me the exact ingredients and the recipes. 

Andrea with husband Richard Fenton. 

Tell me three fun facts about yourself.

1. In Los Angeles, I worked as the training director for a pet supply company and met the dog from the TV show, Frasier.
2. I’ve taken two massive driving trips around the entire US. One that was 10,000 miles one was longer at 14,000. The 14,000 took 44 days!
3. I have been on twitter (@Goforno) for 10 years.

In one word describe yourself.


Follow Andrea on social media:

Book on Amazon:

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Interview with J.D. Estrada -Author and Poet

I've known J.D. Estrada for a few years who I have had the pleasure of knowing first as a fellow writer and now a dear friend who is very much like family to me. He's funny, quick with wit, a great storyteller, a big heart who cares for others and loves his family and friends. Become acquainted with this very talented writer J.D. and make sure you check out his books.

Introducing J.D. 

J.D. Estrada bio-
Hey there, this is your friendly neighborhood JD Estrada. I’m a Puerto Rican indie author who is now based in Atlanta because home shall always be my Caribbean Island. I’m a multi-genre author, would-be renaissance geek, and advocate of creative kindness. I like tea, socks, video games, and am also known as #00Bananas (look it up if you’re curious, but expect something silly when you do). 

What do you love about your life right now?

What a curious question. I think I like that whatever success I have has been through hard work and dedication, that I’ve never gotten a handout or a free ride, and that slowly but surely, I can make a difference.

How long have you been writing?

As a hobby, I’ve been writing since I was a kid, though plenty more when I was a teen. I’ve published six poetry collections because to me poetry has always helped me heal and make sense of my life and the world I live in. My first published book was in 2013, but before that, I did win a couple of prizes in college for short stories and poetry. I also was part of a rag-tag group of people who wrote anonymously in a blog for close to a decade, but that’s as much as I can say about that.

Tell me about your newest book Given To Fly like where did you find inspiration to write it and how long it took to write it.

Ah, Given to Fly is such a special book for me. The inspiration came from several sources. Firstly, my wife gave a wonderful gift almost 10 years ago. She asked me what image meant a lot to me and without batting an eye I told her the picture on the single for Pearl Jam’s “Given to Fly”. A couple of months after that question and she surprised me with a hardcover notebook with hard case with that image and my name on it. It’s one of the most amazing gifts I’ve ever received in my life so the stakes were high in regards to what the book would be about. Then a while after we had our first trip as a couple to Disney/Orlando. We went to Epcot Center and got on Soarin’, which has become one of our favorite rides ever. As we were immersed in beautiful visuals, music, and aromas during the flight simulator, one idea led to another and another and by the end of that 2 ½ minute ride, I knew what the story would be about: a boy who dreams about flying. It’s taken me all this time to finally write the book and the inspirations come from all over the place. Influences of Coraline, Charlotte’s Web, Harry Potter, Easter Eggs of Pearl Jam, Elbow, The Who, Tori Amos, nods to my favorite comics growing up which were from Hong Kong, nods to the lead singer of Days of the New, whom I hope can one day kick his drug habit and stay clean and creatively adventurous, nods to video games and even some of my books, and beyond. Heck, there’s even a library pillaging bookworm that’s based on Noam Chomsky. All in all, I’d say the plotting took me about 4 months and full one writing and editing another 4-5 month, but it happened in bursts throughout the years as I finished several other projects and hunted down someone who could nail the cover.

As a writer myself, I’ve struggled with writers’ block. Do you and how do you overcome it?

Writer’s block is luckily not something I get hit with much if at all and it’s all down to working on several projects at the same time. I’m sure that genetically I share some % of DNA with octopi because I can multi-task that way. At any given time, there are 3-6 projects running at the same time and in different stages of development. Now that I’ve finished Given to Fly, I’m focused on two main projects, Book 3 in the Human Cycle and a collaboration I’m doing with a great friend from the UK. I write in my blog, write music, and always strive to have something creative going along and to lean into the projects that most call out to me. Time is not something I have a whole ton of so when I do get time, trust me that I work hard to make it count. But reading different things, writing different types of projects, and other things help me to always stay in flow as much as possible. I think every block happens for a different reason and to me, I have projects I full on plan and others where I’m a bonafide pantser. I also like to mix things up and always try different things with my writing rather than finding my perfect method because part of the fun for me is discovering more of who I am through my projects. Things you can do to overcome it is to work on other things that flow easily and allow your brain to relax. We sometimes get so caught up and wound up that we forget to enjoy the process and I think that’s why I rarely get blocks because I love the various ways I can weave a story.

Where do you go to write your books like a coffee shop or home office and do you have a particular place that inspires you? 

For me, writing is more about my mood and the moment rather than a particular place. I’ve written plenty of times in food courts, restaurants of all types, coffee, shops, and even the bathtub. I think it’s all about picking up the notebook when inspiration strikes and running with it. I’ve known to take a notebook into a bathroom stall during work hours only because I was the only male who worked in a department with 14 other coworkers and I needed some space to write :) I can say that I’m particularly fond of writing during flights and I’ll NEVER buy in-flight WiFi. I also don’t mind long waits at the doctor because I always carry a notebook with me.

Who’s your favorite author and book?

 Favorite author has to be Neil Gaiman although the more I read Terry Pratchett the harder it is to answer this question. As for favorite books, to me, it’s a tie between two series: Harry Potter and the Sandman. In regards to fantasy fiction, these two books have hit the deepest and mean the most to me. Harry Potter arrived in my life at a time where I sorely needed some magic and the Sandman is a series that is as creatively amazing as anything I’ve read. Part of my goals in life is to write something both Joan (JK Rowling) and Neil (Gaiman) could enjoy. They have my respect and love for who they are as humans AND writers.

 Any advice you can offer for new writers?

Write for you, not the market. The market will change and will always change. You are stuck with you for the rest of your life and the more fun you have, the better off you’ll be. Be a ball busting editor, be brutally honest about what works and what doesn’t work, read everything, learn something new every day, taste new foods and dance outside your comfort zone. Also, focus on finding YOUR voice. Don’t be the next best [INSERT NAME OF AUTHOR]. Be the best you. Be uncompromisingly you. Be selfishly you. And then share it with others.

 What advice do you wish you knew before you started writing?

Transcribe as you write. Lol. My first manuscript was probably over 180K words long… and I began transcribing when I finished it… and trust me, that wasn’t fun lol. Also, save your work in several places. Jump drives die, computers get fried, and life happens. 

Tell me three fun facts about you.

I began 00 Bananas in a former job to make co-workers laugh.

I’ve tried to be in 3 bands… maybe 4th time will be the charm? Hey, one can dream.

If I could have any corporate job, I’d work in R&D for a candy factory.

In one word describe yourself.



His newest novel Given To Fly at Amazon 

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Find his books on Amazon at this link: JDBook
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