What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
It’d be overlooking the Eiffel Tower and would have an inspirational quote on the wall, a chic, white leather couch, and a Frappuccino maker!
What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?
I hate when people give me ideas for stories because they’re usually pretty offbeat and aren’t suited to my style. I appreciate it, though, when others encourage me not to quit and when my mentors offer suggestions about plot twists.
In your own words, what is love?
I expressed that in my newest novel, Forgetting My Way Back to You. It’s living through and reflecting on the bad moments but wanting to be together, regardless. There are always problems, and relationships end because of them. It’s easy to give up on a fleeting feeling, but that isn’t the case with real love.
Does blogging help you to write?
It does keep my creative processes flowing and keeps me in shape, I suppose, but it takes away a lot of time from my usual writing. I guess it’s a love/hate relationship.
Blogging does take a lot of time. I get it. What kind of music do you like?
I enjoy almost everything from oldies to pop to (some) country.
In your own words, what is humility?
Humility is accepting that you’re flawed. You can still be proud of your abilities, but you have to recognize that others can and will be better. I think it’s also realizing that your ways and opinions aren’t law.
I dig it. Would you like to have children?
Yes, because they’re fun, genuine, and change your outlook on life.
Awwue. Right? Why is writing important to you?
Writing gives me freedom. Having Cerebral Palsy, there aren’t many things I can do on my own, but writing is one exception. Every idea and keystroke is mine alone—unless I’m on a deadline and need help typing. Plus, I’m free to create plot lines without being barred by reality.
That cover is so fun looking! What genre do you write in, why?
Though I’ve written love stories, I mainly write mysteries. I enjoy sculpting different twists and turns to make readers keep guessing. That said, almost all my mysteries have a romantic element to them because I “love love!” ♥
Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
I’m a big baseball fan, and I also love shoes.
Thank you Karina for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Karina Bartow grew up and still lives in Northern Ohio. Though born with Cerebral Palsy, she’s never allowed her disability to define her. Rather, she’s used her experiences to breathe life into characters who have physical limitations, but like her, are determined not to let them stand in the way of the life they want. Her debut novel, Husband in Hiding came out in 2015 and was well-received by readers. Her second, Forgetting My Way Back to You, was released in October 2018 by Vinspire Publishing and has been praised by reviewers. She may only be able to type with one hand, but she writes with her whole heart!
*I received a copy of this book as a gift from the author some time ago. This review is long overdo.*
This is my second read from this author. I absolutely loved COEDand you can find my five-star review of that book here. I enjoy Fant’s writing style and how his characters always remind me of real people (which if you’ve been following my reviews long enough you know that’s my most favorite thing about books, good characterization and dialogue that sounds like real communication between people.)
On September 3, 2001 , Dallas gets a call from his friend Kevin inviting him to a BBQ during Labor Day Weekend. At the house Dallas meets Kevin’s sister Thena. Kevin and his wife Jasmine are trying to hook Dallas up with her. Everything seems normal at first, until Dallas wakes the next day to the same phone call from Kevin, the same invitation to his BBQ, the meeting of Thena and the same series of events from the previous night. That’s because it’s September 3rd again, 2001, and it will be for the better part of the book. Each September 3rd runs through September 11th and then Dallas wakes up to September 3rd again. The loops involve similar but different outcomes, playing on Dallas mind until he realizes he is stuck in a time loop.
What I loved most about this book was the Final Destination type clues sprinkled about. If you haven’t seen the Final Destination movie series then you’ve seriously been living under a rock. Briefly, the movie released in 2000 and is a supernatural horror movie about a young man named Alex who experiences a premonition of a plane exploding and killing everyone on it. After insisting everyone exists the plane, several people do and shortly afterward watch the plane explode just as Alex saw in his vision. Throughout the movie the characters will experience coincidences and DejaVu associated with the coming of their own deaths. So yea, this book is kinda like that but without the gory deaths.
In Fant’s Darkest Loop, I loved how something would happen in one loop and then the author would take us to a loop that gives us the same events from a different perspective. Like how Dallas smells the scent of a woman on his sheets and meets a woman the next day with the same scent. They are just meeting but have already met and been together. The series of coincidences and Déjà vu keeps you on the edge of your seat, especially since Dallas is trying to figure things out just as the reader is. This book also reminds me of Premonition , the movie starring Sandra Bullock.
The only thing I did not like very much is the ending. The anticipation and tension was so well done that I was not as impressed with the revelation toward the end of the book. Things got weird…I mean more weird than usual for this book and while weird can be good, I felt the author drifted and the whole reason behind the loop was not as satisfying for me as I had hoped. Otherwise, definitely a five-star read.
Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5
Entertainment Factor: 4/5
Authenticity / Believable: 3.5/5
Thought Provoking: 4/5
Unfortunately, it looks like The Darkest Loop is out of print on Amazon. I do recommend you follow this author though and check out his other books. I recommend COED, linked above.
About the book:
Dallas Anderson is stuck in a time loop that repeats Labor Day 2001 to September 11, 2001. He thinks he must prevent the terrorist attacks to break the loop. But each loop challenges that theory, igniting a fiery romance between him and his best friend’s sister and exposing the dark truth behind Déjà vu.
About the author:
James Fant is an award winning author who lives in Charleston, SC with his lovely wife and two hilarious children. He received a degree in biology from College of Charleston and a master’s in business administration from Charleston Southern University. His love for literature was forged by the works of Eric Jerome Dickey, Walter Mosely, and Stephen King. He also finds inspiration from screenwriters Shonda Rhimes, Aaron Sorkin and Kurt Sutter. Literally, James has always been drawn to intelligent yet imperfect characters and he writes novels with them in mind.
Got a book* for me? Learn more about my Book Reviews Here.
*Books are read in the order they are received. The sooner you get your order in, the sooner I can get to your book and get your review published.
Whenever I travel, I always get the same question, “where can I find your books?” So, here’s a breakdown of where you can find me. For clarity, I write Poetry and Black Historical Fiction so my books are either poetic/inspirational or historical.
1. Always check my website first. Everything is there in one place. Just visit me atyecheilyahysrayl.com. Go to the bookstore page for print books only and the Amazon Author Central page for digital + print books. Go to services to learn about the services I offer and visit the events page for updates on any new events I have coming up.
2. After you have already checked my website, you can also find me on Webuyblack.com. Simply click on the link in my bio or go to > webuyblack.com/yecheilyahysrayl
3. you can also find me on Amazon. Follow this Amazon Author Central link and it will take you to my page where you can see all the books I have available on Amazon. (some of my books are only available on my website. be sure to check there first).
3. If you are in ATL, remember that I need your support at the stores. You can find I am Soul and Renaissance at Nubian books (IG handle – @nubian_bookstore), I am Soul at Medu (IG handle – @medubookstoreatl), Even Salt Looks Like Sugar and The Road to Freedom at Tall Tales Books (IG handle – @talltalesbooks). Be sure to stop in for a physical, signed copy and help me stay on the shelves. Not in ATL? Follow the first three steps.
I’ve been supporting the Webuyblack movement for a while now. I’ve purchased products from the many black-owned businesses on the site, attended the inaugural convention last year and met some talented all-black business owners. I bought toothbrushes, coffee, hair care products and even potato chips all from black-owned businesses. Recently, I watched the first episode of Killer Mike’s Netflix special and was proud to see Webuyblack represented. Mike’s idea intrigued me: See if you can survive 3 days solely on the strength of food, transportation and products from black-owned businesses. This was interesting and brought the idea of selling on the site back to my memory.
I first met a WeBuyBlack representative in March, 2018 at the Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta. At the time I had decided I would definitely open a store on the site. Over time, though, I was not sure if I should. I was not sure if it was worth it from an author point of view. I didn’t see many authors at the convention and I didn’t see many of the authors whose books are on the site being promoted by the Webuyblack team. I am not selling Laundry Detergent, Soap, or clothing. It took me almost a year to decide if it was worth it. To make a long story short, I have decided to try it out. I see this as eventually being monumental and I’d like to be part of its history.
What is WeBuyBlack?
We Buy Black is a global marketplace for Black owned businesses. All the products on the site are designed and produced by black business owners, but not only that, WeBuyBlack is a movement to see social and economic justice globally. Can we recreate our own version of Black Wallstreet? Can we pool our resources together and support one another? My books are on Amazon, B&N online, Kobo and iTunes but why not WeBuyBlack? As a writer of Black History, this is right up my alley. Surely, I can support a movement centered on black empowerment.
First, you should know that as my circle of readers, I am not asking you to buy anything.
Many of you already have the two books I have decided to upload for now. If you reviewed these books on Amazon, I am asking if you can review them on Webuyblack. This will help me to get the attention of other readers and to decide if I want to make this a permanent move or not.
If you LOVED Renaissance and you LOVED I am Soul, let’s show other readers why these books are worth the time investment. I’ve decided to start with just these two. Only if they do well will I add more. What do you think? Can we do this? Yes, we can!
*I was gifted a copy of this book but it was so good that I decided to purchase it in support of the author*
I am excited to be doing reviews again and boy do I have a tasty one for you today! I love poetry, have written four collections myself and hosted two poetry contests so far on this blog. For these reasons, it was probably surprising that I opted not to review poetry when I first started. One of the reasons was because I found it difficult to judge. Poetry is very personal and intimate and I don‘t think there’s any such thing as bad poetry. But, since my last contest (where we read over and critiqued tons of poems) I decided to review poetry books on this blog and since coming in contact with Knighten, I am glad I changed my mind!
/NAKEED/: a bare soul is a collection of love poems from an amazing poet, Shequila Knighten and her journey of discovering her authentic self. Upon the first read, you may mistakenly think these are poems mostly about a woman’s relationship with a man but as you continue, you’ll find it is much more than that. There is romance but on a deeper level these are poems about a woman’s love for herself, a journey of healing through heartbreak, depression, and facing insecurities. These poems are beautifully written and what I liked most is that the pieces are raw but not vulgar which is not easy to do. There‘s a sexiness to them but Shequila’s lyrics are elegant, strong and inspiring.
“He had a voice smooth as a saxophone…”
“they say time heals all wounds…I think my watch died…”
“insecurity established a deep-rooted self-hate growing in my womb…”
Whew. See what I mean fam? I am hoping Shequila will consider entering my next poetry contest! We will see. In the meantime, be sure to pick up your copy of /NAKEED/ which is just 99cents on Amazon!
Shequila is a writer of poetry and inspirational blogger. She became a writer after growing up with the constant fear of people not understanding her speaking what’s on her mind, so writing became her outlet. Starting with poetry, she released her first book of poems, /’NAKEED/. She now lives by the motto, ”if you can’t speak it, write it; your point will still be heard.” Shequila currently resides in Southwest Florida with her three children.
Welcome back to Introduce Yourself! Check out the new badge! Yasss! Let’s get started with our first interview of the year. I would like to extend a warm welcome to Ann Harrison-Barnes.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Ann Harrison-Barnes and I am from Rochelle, GA.
Okay. You in my neck of the woods. Georgia stand up. What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?
The one thing I hate most about writing advice, is the fact that there is too much of it. What one writer says can contradict what someone else says on the same subject. For example, two or three people have different advice about adverbs. What I love about writing advice is the fact that I choose which advice to follow me, and I take it and let it inspire me. For example, K. M. Weiland stated in a previous episode of her podcast entitled Helping Writers Become Authors that the reason your villain does the bad things he’s known for in your story, has to do with another character he loves with all his heart (pardon the paraphrase).
I feel you on there being too much advice out there and most of it is not even good advice. Ann, what was your childhood dream?
As a child I always dreamed of being a recording artist. I loved country music and I love to sing. However, when I was five or six, I had no idea that music would be the inspiration I needed to become a writer. I could tell you a story of how music has influenced my writing over the past few years, but we’d be here all day for that one. LOL
Since we’re already talking about music, what kind of music do you like?
I like mostly instrumental music such as classical, movie scores, new age piano etc. for writing. However, I have one particular country artist that I like to listen to for healing and sometimes for writing inspiration.
Does blogging help you to write?
Blogging helps me to write in several ways. It helps me to learn more about my fictional characters through character interviews. It also helps me to get my heartfelt thoughts out into the world, but I keep my blog positive and put my negative thoughts in my journal. It also enhances my professional writing style, so that if I land a freelance writing gig, I can be proud to show off specific posts as writing samples.
I love that. You said you keep your blog positive and put the negative stuff in your journal. Your a wise one. Let’s talk about your writing journey. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
To be honest, I published my first book back in July of 2016. I was excited, because after getting help with formatting and the book cover designed for me, I was able to publish it on my own. This book has since been updated and is now available on Amazon. Each book that I publish is exciting. I’ve heard many people say that it’s almost like having a baby, without the physical pain that a mother goes through. I must say, I believe it, because you have to nurture your creative baby and get it ready for publication. Then comes the waiting time until it’s been launched or borne (as it were), for all the world to see.
Nice. Married Ann?
I’ve been married twice. The first time for seven and a half years. I divorced my first husband, because he verbally and emotionally abused me. I’m currently married but separated from my husband, for the same reason. We’ve been legally married for a year and a half.
Oh. I am so sorry to hear that. Abuse is a real problem in our world. If you had any advice for someone enduring any form of abuse having experienced it yourself, what would you tell them?
My advice for someone who is in an abusive relationship is to find a way out as soon as you can. The longer you stay in that relationship, the worse it will be for you in the long run. I can’t speak to child abuse, but no one deserves to be belittled, humiliated or beaten. Don’t let the abuser’s charms fool you, he or she is only using them to pull you back into his or her web. I found healing from other sources, but if you feel that you need the services of a therapist, don’t hesitate to get the help you need, because everybody’s healing process is different.
Thanks so much. I am sure someone who needs to hear that is listening. Any babies Ann?
I do have a beautiful daughter, who I love dearly, although she can be sassy at times. She loves to brag about being taller than me.
LOL. I love it. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
The most difficult thing about being a writer can sometimes be the revision process. However, I am loving this process in my current novel. The most exciting thing is the fact that I can allow myself to let the creative juices flow and find whatever source of inspiration that fuels my creative fire. Although I am totally blind, I refuse to let my disability stop me from doing what I’ve been called to do, which is share the message of God’s love through something as simple, yet as deep, as a story.
I can tell by your answers you’re a great writer! What genre do you write in and why?
I don’t put my novels into one specific genre. I write in the Christian fiction genre, along with mystery and thriller, and I sometimes add a little romance. I know that online distributors and bookstores have to know where to place eBooks or paperbacks on the physical or virtual shelves, but I like to add a little of this and a little of that, to make the story interesting and compelling.
Thanks so much Ann for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Ann Harrison is the author of four books: A Journey of Faith, A Stepping Stones Mystery, Stories Outside the Box, Maggie’s Gravy Train Adventure, an Electric Eclectic Book, and Inner Vision, an Electric Eclectic Book. She has also been published in several anthologies. Aside from her work as a Christian fiction author, Ann is a professional writer, and she also crochets bookmarks and book covers to promote her books. To learn more about Ann and her work, visit her website at http://www.annwritesinspiration.com
Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Frank Prem. Let’s get started!
What is your name and where are you from?
I’m Frank Prem, and I live in a pretty little town called Beechworth, that’s nestled not far from the Victorian Alps in Australia. It isn’t famous for the Alps, though. Beechworth has a gold mining history that dates back to the 1850s, an association with an infamous band of bushrangers (outlaws) (The Ned Kelly Gang).
That’s the old fame, and it’s a well preserved and highly successful tourist town off the back of that, but in this day and age it may just be as well known for its bakery (The Beechworth Bakery), which seems to draw folk to it from everywhere and is almost too full some days for me to have my before-work cuppa at six in the morning. Not really, but it gets very crowded in there most days.
By the way, I grew up in Beechworth back in the 1960s and 70s, and that childhood is the subject of a memoir I’m in the process of releasing as first indie publication. That’s very exciting.
I bet! Releasing your first book is very exciting. Congratulations to you. Are you employed outside of writing?
I have had a lifelong association with psychiatry and psychiatric services over here in Victoria. When I was a young child, my parents were both employed to work in the local mental asylum (as they were known then). My first associations were through riding my bike up the Mental Asylum hill to visit either of my parents while they were working. My mum was part of the nursing staff while dad worked in the Kitchens. Subsequently, I became a student psychiatric nurse at the institution and went to work in a wide variety of jobs and roles in the system of Psychiatric care, including helping – in a very modest way – to close them all down in the 1990s.
These days I still work as a psychiatric nurse in a small rehabilitation facility in the town. The squaring of the circle, completed. The manuscript for a memoir of my time in psychiatry is complete and waiting its turn in the queue. I hope to produce it in book and electronic form within about a year, but there are other projects already in the pipeline that need to be completed first.
Wow, that is neat. Since we keep going back to writing let’s talk about that. Does blogging help you to write?
I find I write my best, or at least with the most pleasure from the work, when I am writing for a reader. I do not write for myself.
Since starting my poetry blog, I have found inspiration with every view recorded, with every ‘like’ for a poem, and absolutely with every comment and conversation that a reader has initiated. Similarly, with reading to an audience I delight in engaging with listeners, especially when something I have written and/or read has acted as a catalyst for a person to start telling me of their similar but unique experience.
I believe that all poetry, and especially mine, needs to be a means of communication, and needs to be accessible. I want people to understand what the poem is about, to be able to consider it, respond to it, discuss it with a neighbor. As my readership at the poetry blog has grown, I have felt myself to be freed up to write more and better, curious about how the new poem will be received, while hurrying on to write the next.
How did you come to the decision to write for your readers? Are there any instances where you write for yourself?
I think there is a point around when a writer realizes that the need to write has become a fundamental part of him- or her- self, that this issue has to be confronted. Who am I writing for?
In my own case, I tend to write and move on. I don’t enjoy revisiting old work and I resist doing anything beyond superficial editing. I would rather discard a poem and start over afresh with the next thought than rewrite what I have, in my mind, already completed.
For my own purposes, I concluded that when I have thought the thought, I don’t need it anymore. It is written for another person to contemplate, if they wish to. My problem, is that every thought can become a contemplation. Every contemplation become a poem.
I have a big backlog!
I love what you said about not needing it anymore and how it is now for someone else. That’s powerful. Frank, what do you wish you knew more about?
I’ve become quite fascinated with the universe in recent times – pictures that the good folk at NASA have made available through their library archive are simply amazing and become a feature of and inspiration for my writing in recent times.
What’s your favorite drink?
I confess to being a bit of a coffee fiend. Nothing uncommon in that, except that I buy my beans green, then roast them myself in a popcorn whirligig that I had to import special from the US.
Wow that’s nice! I, too, am a coffee fiend. Shout out to all the coffee lovers out there.
The making of coffee for my wife and myself assumes the role of ritual in our household. A certain number of spoons of beans into a hand grinder, then the ground powder into a stove-top espresso maker. Milk into a pot to bring to boil on the stove, with both of them timed to coincide in their readiness to be blended and poured. The hissing and boiling carry-on of the espresso maker as it approaches its climax is a delight to me, every morning.
Ha! Ya’ll are all over it. What is the most thought provoking book you’ve ever read?
The most inspirational books that I’ve read in recent times have been the translated works of a French philosopher named Gaston Bachelard – who died back around the 1960’s. He was a scientist as well as a philosopher and he spent a lot of time thinking about poetry and poetics and reverie – tying them up, breaking them down, showing how others had addressed these things.
I found that, for a long time, I couldn’t read beyond a paragraph without needing to pen my own interpretation, my own story of what he was illuminating for me. I’ve ended up with a set of around 800 poems that I intend to bring to book when I clear the queue in front of them, just a little.
That’s what’s up. Keep the creative juices going. Loving your cover by the way. So, what’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
The hardest thing about being a writer is turning the work into a book. I feel that I am on a fast-track learning curve that will take from being a writer to being an author, but at the same time requires me to become a publisher, and a publicist and an interviewee, and press release source, with all of it looking professional and as though it is as straightforward as taking the next breath of air.
The next book, of course, should be easier, because I am learning hard. The book that I am just about to start writing will be the easiest of all because all my new work will be in a book style and format even while it is in draft form. It will be surrounded, in advance, by the front matter and the back matter and copyright statement and the dedication page and …
It is hard because there is so much to learn. But this is work I badly want to master, and so I shall.
In the meantime, since I began thinking about these questions, my first book – Small Town Kid – has listed on Amazon in e-book form (with the paperback hurrying along behind it, I hope). It can be found at the listing below, and I feel unbelievably proud of this work.
I’m so happy for you. Tell us, why writing is important to you.
Writing my poems is the oxygen in my lungs. Ink is the blood in my veins and arteries.
I can’t imagine myself without my poetry, searching for the next thought that will bear scrutiny by the poet.
What genre do you write in, why?
I am primarily a free verse poet, but I have come to think that I don’t really have a particularly poetic genre or style. I feel my work is something of a hybrid between poetry and short story writing.
I have always been attracted to poetry as my best means of creative expression.
Over my journey through life I often have encountered strange and seemingly inexplicable events and phenomena – particularly in psychiatry. I often would use my writing as a way to unravel and better understand what I had done and what I had seen during the day gone by.
I needed a way to get difficult things out of my head, so that I could be at peace with myself, but not to have them lost to me (or to a potential reader, of course).
I use very little punctuation in my writing, and I use very short lines, as I attempt to incorporate the cadences of reading aloud with the pauses and accents and emphasis that go with that, and the additional natural pauses that come with taking a breath.
I hope that a person unfamiliar with my work could pick up a poem and read it aloud with a natural flow and feel, just by using the line breaks and stanza breaks as a guide to the pace of their reading.
Nice. Are you a spiritual person?
I think I’m a very spiritual person. Not at all religious, but respectful and in awe of nature and the life around me. Of the sky and the moon and the night. I dance to the tune of rain on my roof and the rumbling of a storm that I can feel deep in my chest.
You sound just like a poet too lol.
So, yes, Yecheilyah, I think I’m a very spiritual person, and I am grateful for it.
Thank you Frank for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Frank Prem has been a storytelling poet for forty years. When not writing or reading his poetry to an audience, he fills his time by working as a psychiatric nurse.
He has been published in magazines, zines and anthologies, in Australia and in several other countries, and has both performed and recorded his work as ‘spoken word’.
He lives with his wife, musician and artist Leanne Murphy, in the beautiful township of Beechworth in northeast Victoria (Australia).