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Friday, 15 November 2019

Interview with Ingrid Jordan- Actor and Executive Producer of Atlanta


Photo Credit: Eralphia 3 Imagery

My latest chat is with Ingrid Jordan of Atlanta is an award-winning actress and has been acting for seventeen years. She was inspired to act by one of my favorite actors of all time.  She also loves to cut the rug on the dance floor too. Learn more about her and who she looks up to in the entertainment industry. 

Introducing Ingrid...


What do you love about your life right now?
I love the fact that I have the freedom to create my own content under my production company F.O.F (Faith Over Fear) Productions, LLC.

Was there a particular actor or film that inspired you to act?
One particular actor who inspired me to act was Paul Walker. As far as a film that inspired me to act was The Fast and the Furious starring Paul Walker and Vin Diesel.

Before you fell in love with acting, I understand that you became a student of learning a second language: Español/Spanish as well as learning the dialects. I myself am trying to learn it as a second language. How were you inspired to embrace a second language and how does it help with booking other roles in films and television?
 I embraced a second language when I moved to Atlanta, GA. I was introduced to Latin culture. I made a lot of Latin friends in the process and in return, I picked up on their language and taught myself along with watching telenovelas. 
It helps with booking roles because I am more diverse. This allows me to have more opportunities in the acting industry.

How long have you been acting?
My love for acting initially started when I was 6 years old in a play called The Nutcracker. I took a huge break from acting to focus more on my education. Then at the age of 13, I had my first audition.  I have been on this incredible journey for 17 years.  

What have been some of the challenges of acting and the joys?
The main challenges of acting were getting an agent and having an eye disease called Keratoconus, makes it difficult at times to read scripts. The joy of acting is tapping into other people’s worlds.

You’ve been in the hit series ATL Homicide as Cassie Ford, what did you enjoy about playing that particular character?
Portraying the role of Cassie Ford on ATL Homicide made me feel like a tough badass I enjoyed it, but I had to keep in mind, as an actor, we want to portray someone’s real-life accurately.



Overall, how was your experience on the show?
The show was great. It was definitely, an eye-opening experience acting out someone’s life.

How do you prepare for the roles that you auditioned for as well as booked?
 To prepare for the roles that I auditioned for, I read the script 3 times in a regular tone. Then I proceed to do a script analysis to breakdown my characters overall objective. 

Do you prefer a particular genre of film or TV show to act in?
Drama and action is my preferred/primary genres. When it comes to a preference to act in a TV show How to Get Away with Murder takes the cake.

From what I’ve read, you can transition from comedy to drama to suspense as well as thriller all in one take. Curious, how do you do that?
My training from my acting coach, Jonna Johnson, is designed to transition your acting from your personal pre circumstances, which allows me to expose my true life through a script.

Sandra Bullock said, “You have to dance a little bit before you step out into the world each day because it changes the way you walk.” What do you think about that quote and how it might apply it to acting?
Basically, you have to stay ready to be ready and keep honing your craft daily. Success is when opportunity meets preparation.

Photo Credit: BK Headshots


Now, recently you are co-creator, executive producer, casting director, and co-director of Un-Bowed which I understand will be a directorial debut for you. What are you enjoying about the directing?
I’m grateful for Executive producing my first featured film Un-Bowed, loosely based on my life story. However, I wouldn’t necessarily call this my directorial debut. I only directed two scenes, unfortunately. Directing my own film fully is most definitely on my future vision board.

You’re also are going to be in the film as well as Riley Carter. What is Un-Bowed about?
Un-Bowed is an inspirational drama based on a true story. It’s the story of a young Atlanta teen that is currently carrying the world on her shoulders – who’s just about to give up. But she finds hope when she least expects it in having faith in God.

What are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m working on a recurring role on a new web series called The Next Assignment.

Is there any advice that you wish you knew before you started this journey of acting?
To take acting classes as a child.

What’s the best advice that you’ve been given in life?
The best advice I have been given in life is, “You have one life to live, go for it all. Take the risk while you’re still dreaming.”

Who do you look up in the entertainment industry?
Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Angela Bassett, Ava DuVernay, Tyler Perry, Shonda Rhimes, and Courtney Kemp.

Do you have a dream role and director that you would like to work with?
My dream role is to be a part of the Marvel Universe and play a superhero. Directors, I have several favorites: Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler, Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, Jordan Peele, and Michael Bay.



I share motivational and inspirational quotes with my readers, do you have one that has inspired you during difficult times?
“Without commitment, you’ll never start, but more importantly, without consistency, you’ll never finish.” – Denzel Washington

Tell me three fun facts about you.
1.       I have my Bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems, a minor of Computer Forensics. I graduated top of my class as Magna Cum Laude.
2.       I absolutely love to dance. I can watch dance videos all day long. I always wanted to be a hip-hop dancer and train with Matt Steffanina.
3.       My favorite sport is soccer and played position defense attacker.

Describe yourself in one word.
Relentless




 Follow Ingrid on social media to learn about her:





Saturday, 19 October 2019

Interview with Eileen Koteles





Eileen Koteles of Atlanta, Georgia will be gracing the stage of Artistic Civic Theatre studio stage right here in Dalton performing as Dr. Ruth Westheimer in the play Becoming Dr. Ruth which will be directed by Judith Beasley. Eileen has been acting for quite a while and is looking forward to the performances.
I got to meet her recently and we did an interview.

Introducing Eileen ...

What do you love about your life right now?
The people in it!  I do feel like I’m at a great stage in my life. I have a close-knit family, wonderful friends, I’m doing theatre, I’m in love, and I’m a grandmother!!

How long have you been acting and what do you love about it?
I’ve been acting for 47 years. I was a member of Equity for 10 years (1977-1987) I love the process, rehearsals, learning lines and finding ‘moments’. Like the moment you’re NOT acting but reacting as your character.

 Was there a particular actor or film that inspired you to act?
 I started out wanting to be a dancer and loved watching Juliet Prowse, Chita Rivera, Shirley MacLaine, and Gwen Verdon.



 Eileen as Dr. Ruth and her Stehaufmaennchen doll. Knock it over, and it bounces right back up, like Dr. Ruth herself.

 You’re going to be playing Dr. Ruth in Becoming Dr. Ruth at Artistic Civic Theatre in February directed by Judith Beasley, how did you hear about the play?
Judith called me and asked if I would be interested in doing the show. She thought it might be a long shot since I lived so far away.

You’re driving from Atlanta, why are you willing to come to Dalton to act in the show? I know that’s over an hour one way to get here or more depending on where you live.
First I said no... the time commitment, the drive, and I have a full-time job.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  This was the perfect opportunity to do a meaningful piece of work with such a talented woman and a dear friend. I’m so glad I said yes!

How are you feeling about becoming Dr. Ruth and how has the process been so far learning the part?
I have loved learning about her life, and surprisingly the words are staying in my head because her story is very captivating.  Every day I go over lines, certain pages or start from the beginning.  

What have you done to prepare to learn this particular role?
I’ve watched a lot of Dr. Ruth interviews and YouTube! And I had the privilege of talking to Dr. Ruth. It was a short conversation, but I learned that even now at the age of 91 she is very strong, to the point and wants to make a difference in the lives of others.

Eileen as Dr. Ruth telling one of her animated stories. 
Tell me what has been challenging about the part and what you’re loving about it.
Memorizing an entire show. She changes subjects often to keep things light and to stay positive and upbeat.  That can be tricky.  I love her eternal positive attitude. It’s so empowering.

Describe yourself in one word.
Energetic.  Maybe this is why I’m drawn to the personality of Dr. Ruth.  

Who are your biggest supporters with your acting?
My supporters are those who really know me, family, and close friends.

Eileen as Dr. Ruth..she was a sharpshooter in the Haganah.

Tell me three fun facts about you.
I love to dance; I love polka dots; I use to be a Lemon Twist Showstopper!


The holidays are fast approaching, do you have a favorite one?
Halloween!!

One last thing, I share motivational quotes with my readers, do you have one you can share that has inspired or encouraged you in tough times?
My father used to say “When in doubt, throw a party!”  In other words, LIVE!

The performance dates for the show are February 14-16 and February 21-22, 2020. I know Judith and Eileen would love to see you there. Maybe, I can interview Judith next! 













Saturday, 14 September 2019

Fall In Love with Local ...Dalton Places!








This is my first post in a series about local restaurants and what's special about them. I thought I would start with one of my favorite places. In late March, I started eating breakfast on Saturdays with a couple of my friends at Native Kitchen. I failed in love with the location, the food, and the incredibly friendly and excellent customer service. My personal favorite breakfast is a classic breakfast plate which is: two eggs, toast, and bacon with a cup of coffee. That sets me up for my workday. They serve that all day. They had fried green tomatoes in the summer and they were some of the best I've ever had.

Classic eggs and bacon breakfast 

Mocha Latte ...my personal fav!




Native Kitchen also has this lovely space which is open and you don't feel crowded and it's relaxing. I also go there and write sometimes or read. To me, it's just a wonderful place to be with friends or family or by yourself to recharge for the day. Then to make this place even better and special, they've started making oatmeal pies. Needless to say, I had to get my hands on one. What I love about the ones they make is that they are gluten-free and vegan and most importantly delicious.


Let me tell you, I'm falling for these gluten-free tasty pies!. You have got to go to Native Kitchen and buy one for yourself and before you know you it, you will fall in love with them too. There's a fresh batch every Friday morning and they sell out quick. They also have cheesecake and I'm going have to try that next, but my waist is begging me not to though.

Don't they look delicious? Oh, there's flourless brownies too!

Wes...one of the young men that work here makes the best mocha latte and super friendly!


To sum up this short and sweet article: Fall in love with local! I told you what I love about Native Kitchen and what makes it special: location, breakfast, service, and well, oatmeal pies. You may have already discovered this place and love it. My suggestion to you if you haven't had a chance or don't know about this local restaurant, go and see what makes Native Kitchen so special to you.

They're open Tuesdays-Saturdays from 7AM-9PM, and they are located at 825 Chattanooga Avenue located in the Mill at Crown Garden in Dalton, Georgia.


I bought one yesterday and took it home and finished up some writing on my site!


Follow them on social media:

Facebook
Instagram






Thursday, 5 September 2019

Interview with Melanie Victor of California...Podcaster of The Actors Lounge


Photo by Lance Carr

My latest chat is with Melanie Victor of California. She's a podcaster and her show consists of interviews. She has interviewed over 100 individuals in the entertainment industry, and she just recently celebrated a year of podcasting. I came across one of her podcasts because she had interviewed one of my friends who is an actor as well as a director. I was impressed with how casual and fun her show was. I was inspired as well because coming across her show has inspired me to look into doing this in the near future.

Learn more about Melanie and find out her who her biggest supporter is and if she has a favorite interview.

Introducing Melanie... 

What do you love about your life right now?

My husband and I are able to pursue our passions and dreams all while raising our 1-year-old son Jaiden. It’s exciting to have him on this journey with us. He keeps us very busy, so we definitely have to be strategic and work together to get things done. Although this journey can be challenging at times, it’s definitely been worth it and I know eventually things will pan out the way we desire.

You’ve been a podcaster for a little over a year, was there an individual or was there a show that inspired you to be a podcaster?

My husband was the one to encourage me to start a podcast. I was terrified, but he believed in me so much that he actually started reaching out to actors and setting up interviews for me. So at that point, I had no excuse; I had to show up. Looking back, I’m so grateful to him for giving me that push I needed.

What have been the joys and challenges of starting it?

Some of the joys of the podcast have been getting the opportunity to talk with and hear so many different actors stories. I also have enjoyed watching the podcast grow and connecting with so many people that have been encouraged and inspired by The Actors Lounge.
A big challenge was just doing it and knowing that I was good enough to host my own show and interview all of these actors. That was big in my mind but once I started to own it and gave myself permission, my confidence and courage grew.

Was there a class you took to learn how to do a podcast?

No, I didn’t take any classes. My husband has taught me everything I know about successfully running my own podcast.



Do you mainly interview actors and are you planning to interview others in the entertainment industry?

I mostly interview actors, but I also have interviewed directors, casting directors, producers, etc. My focus is the actor’s story and acting business so I’m open to interviewing anyone in the field that can speak to the business or offer a different perspective for my listeners.
How many actors have you interviewed so far?
So far, I’ve interviewed over 100 actors and counting. So much more to come!

Do you have a favorite interview? And I imagine that you have more than one for different reasons, am I right?

I’ve taken something away from every interview I’ve done so far. I really appreciate hearing the stories about the actors who wanted to quit or give up but didn’t. They were so close to throwing in the towel but they got that opportunity or finally booked that first costar or dream role. I enjoy hearing about the challenging times because they have managed to maintain and keep going. That gives me a lot of hope in my own pursuit, and I know it helps a lot of people.

So, how do you go about preparing for the interview and what does that entail?

So for each guest, I have them send me their bio and I like to watch any past interviews they may have done. I also like to watch at least one of their shows or movies, so I’m familiar with their work. I come up with 10 questions for each guest as a guideline, but I like to allow the conversation to naturally flow. My interviews are very relaxed, casual, and free-flowing.

What do you want potential interviewees to know about your podcast?

That there are no right or wrong answers to the questions I ask. This is just a space for actors to freely share their stories and experiences. The Actors Lounge is a great resource for the acting community, and by coming on the show, you have an opportunity to help and inspire a lot of other actors. So many actors that have been on the show have told me how much they enjoyed the interview because it gave them the space to reflect on and appreciate how far they have actually come on their journey as an actor. It’s a gift to me, but it's also a gift to the interviewee.

You’ve done some acting, what do you enjoy about it?

I enjoy being able to tell a different story from my own and being able to walk in someone else’s shoes. I find acting to be very freeing.

Photo by Lance Carr


Besides your acting and podcasting, you’re also a print model, is there one you prefer over the other?

Anytime I get to act in front of the camera or work on a print shoot, I’m grateful. I really just enjoy having the chance to do what I love. I don’t take any of it for granted.

Wearing your different hats as an actor, podcaster, model, Mom, and wife, what has been the most rewarding for you and why?

Well, I wouldn’t say one has been more rewarding over the other but having my own podcast is the most surprising because I never thought I’d have my own. It was always something I’d seen other people do, but I never imagined myself having my own show. That alone is rewarding because it has shown me that I am capable of so much.

There’s a quote I came across recently that says, “Some people are artists. Some, themselves are art.” What are your thoughts on that and are you the artist or the art?

I’d say I see myself as the art because I ultimately want my life and story to be an inspiration. People use art to be inspired and I want to inspire people.



Who are your biggest supporters?

Hands down my biggest supporter is my husband, he really keeps me going and holds me accountable on a daily basis.  

Tell me three fun facts about you.

1. I have my Masters in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. I had plans to become a therapist. After finishing school, I had a change of heart and decided to pursue acting.
2. I love to collect notebooks and journals. I enjoy writing down my goals and thoughts. I have so many notebooks, used and unused. There is something about a pretty notebook that I can’t resist.
3. I’ve been a vegetarian for 7 years now. 

“It’s amazing what you can get if you quietly, clearly, and authoritatively demand it.” The quote is by Meryl Streep. Do you agree with her? 

Yes, I agree with this quote. I believe you can demand things with a certain amount of class and a knowingness based on who you are and how you carry yourself. You don’t always have to make a lot of noise or fuss in order to get things done or make a change. True confidence doesn’t have to be loud. Also, setting your intention is powerful because it keeps you focused on the goal at hand. That is where clarity comes into play.

I share motivational quotes with my readers, do you have a go-to saying or quotes that uplifts or inspires you during a difficult time?

Pray or worry, don’t do both.

Describe yourself in one word.

Sincere

Photo by Lance Carr

Follow Melanie on Instagram and check out her podcast! Links are below.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

"To Free a Mockingbird" ...My thoughts on the show.







“There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.” Unknown

Grace Aki is a storyteller and one you don't want to miss next time she's in Atlanta performing her show To Free A Mockingbird. The above quote says it all. I was inspired among other things. My review is a little overdue but my thoughts are the same as the day I saw her show. So let me tell a little more about it...

I smiled, I laughed, I cried, and I reminisced. I attended Grace Aki’s To Free a Mockingbird show back in June at the Atlanta Fringe Festival. I’ve known her a few years and seen her performed in a few shows in Georgia and have always admired her talent of singing, dancing, and acting. She’s quite funny too! This show was different from the ones I’ve seen her in before because she wrote it, and it was a solo show. I didn’t quite know what to expect but I was anticipating a show that tugged at my heart and tickled my funny bone and she delivered.





I smiled …because I got to see Grace perform in a show and not just any show, but her show. She wrote it directly from her heart. It was a dramedy which is by far one of my favorite genres.  As usual, she had her incredible and fun energy while performing, and she came on the stage to some music from a famous film based in the South. An author was talked about in the show along with with bits and pieces of her parents' lives and a brick. The brick piece, well, you really had to be there to understand.



I laughed… so hard until I snorted…out loud. Yes, I snort…laughter that is. Grace has this knack of storytelling where she weaves in sad moments of her life with bits of humor. To me, that’s a gift to be able to do that and from what I can gather is that she has learned to cling to hope and love in spite of the dark moments. I laughed also because she has some of the best facial expressions by far!  There’s a story in them!  If you didn’t see her show, go follow her on Instagram, and you won’t be disappointed.

Grace Aki Pic credit by Mindy Tucker


I cried…because the way she shared about her father. The man who encouraged her dream of acting by showing all kinds of films when she was a little girl. Later in her life, she discovers a painful truth about him. I also cried in how she spoke lovingly of her spouse Damon and how they met.

With  Jennifer Jones

I reminisced…after the show. It was the ending of the show that really hit me hard...that caused me to reminisced and well cry too. On my way back home with my friend Jennifer, we talked about how much we enjoyed her show.  We also talked about our dads too. Her show sparked a conversation that for me can be hard to talk about but at the same time healing each time I share. At the time I’m writing this, I am crying and wishing I had a different story that I could share about my dad.

The show may not be exactly as she wanted it or perfect, but it didn’t have to be. “Perfection is shallow, unreal, and fatally unrealistic,” quote by Anne Lamott. I love that artists like Grace are willing to bear their heart and soul to an audience and share. It takes courage to do that and not know what the reaction will be from the audience. In sharing her stories, she’s able to liberate some of the pain and be relatable to others.  I was touched in a range of emotions from attending. It was an hour of storytelling with heart and soul poured into it with wit, fabulous sense of humor, and vulnerability.

"Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage" quote by Brene Brown. In my opinion, Grace showed up courageously. I look forward to seeing her perform again.

After the show with Grace



Follow Grace on social media: 






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.

Writer.  


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