Who’s That Indie Author? Bjørn Larssen

Author Name: Bjørn Larssen

Genre: historical fiction, fantasy

Books: Storytellers (historical fiction set in Iceland), Children (a dark Norse myth retelling), Why Odin Drinks (humorous Norse myth retelling)

Bio: Bjørn Larssen is a Norse heathen made in Poland, but mostly located in a Dutch suburb, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland. He has a degree in mathematics and has worked as a graphic designer, a model, a bartender, and a blacksmith (not all at the same time). Winner of Queer Indie Lit award, Stabby nominee, Eric Hoffer Grand Prize Award finalist.

What got you started as a writer? In 2015 I tried to lift a massive Ikea kitchen unit and ended in a special profiled chair, only left to eat, sleep, and see doctors. I’ve always told people I’d totally write a book if I had time. Well, now I had all the time, a life I needed to escape, and a story demanding to be told…

What is your writing routine? I don’t really have one. There are days when I write for hours, followed by days when I just keep existing until I can go to bed and hope for a better tomorrow.

What route did you take to get your books published? During work on Storytellers, my debut, I was researching various forms of publishing. It turned out that traditional publishing had nothing to offer me except validation—after years of rejections from agents and editors, of course. I never received a single rejection, because I never sent a single query. I chose self-publishing and I have no regrets.

What things do you do to promote your books? I post silly stuff on Twitter and Facebook, I have a mailing list, a ko-fi page, a website in dire need of updating. I write guest posts or do interviews like this one 🙂 I’ve been just about to join TikTok for at least a year. Not that I’m afraid or anything…

What is your favorite genre to read and why? In 2019-2020 I went through lots of grimdark, then suddenly reality started doing whatever it is that it’s doing. I switched to romcoms and humour, and stayed there.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? Dialogue—once I find the character’s voice. Readers tell me my descriptions are great—the word “cinematic” gets used a lot. They have no idea what I see, hear, taste, smell, and fail to describe well enough.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book? When I try to force a character to do something for the sake of the plot, they often cross their arms on their chest and announce “Nope, I wouldn’t do that.” Unfortunately they don’t tell me what they would do instead. It’s up to me to tweak the plot and hope they like the new one.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? Moving from Poland to the Netherlands. It was the best, the scariest, and the BIGGEST decision I have ever made. The only thing I ever regretted was not doing it earlier.

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh are two books that literally saved my life. And… my therapist. After two years of c-PTSD therapy I’m such a different person that I need to get re-acquainted with myself. So far I seem quite nice.

What would you tell your younger self? Just because you are forced to do adult things, that doesn’t mean you’re an adult. Don’t be so hard on yourself. (Then I’d give him a long, warm hug.) And don’t lift kitchen units.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? In the gay community, a “bear” is a big, hairy beast of a man. I have met up with a bear or two on hikes. 😉

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Snickers. I don’t like Doritos (pauses for gasps to subside), I don’t know Fudge Pop Tarts, and I don’t like taking risks when I can only pick one.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Oh, ten or so? In a kitchen made for two if they really like each other? Every good party ends up moving to the kitchen, it’s a law.

Closing thoughts: I always blank at open questions… um… Sam Ryder is a human golden retriever. It’s a thought, right?

Thank you so much for having me!

Website and social media links:
Website: www.bjornlarssen.com
Twitter: @bjornlarssen
Instagram: bjorn_larssen


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Who’s That Indie Author? Gerald Yeung

Author Name: Gerald Yeung

Genre: Travel Memoir, Humor

Books: Kong Boys (2020); Wannabe Backpackers (2009)

Are you a full-time author? If not, what’s your side gig? I am a tech project manager aspiring to be a full-time writer one day.

Favorite authors/books: Authors: Bill Bryson. Lauren Weisberger. David Sedaris. Augusten Burroughs. Books: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. A Wolf at the Table. Born a Crime.

What experiences or people have influenced your writing the most? I love reading about other people’s travels. I live vicariously through books like The Motorcycle Diaries because I don’t have the grit to “rough it out” like many people. When I took a “backpacking” trip with my childhood friends the summer we turned twenty, I decided to keep a journal. One thing led to another and I discovered my passion for writing (and what I like to write about).

Do you keep a writing journal and if so, how do you use it? Only when I travel. A few years ago, I made the switch from pen and paper to my iPhone. Storyist is a good app for writing.

Do you belong to a writers’ group? If so, describe your experience: I don’t but would love to one day.

Are you up with the sun or do you burn the midnight oil? Up with the sun for sure. I go to sleep at 10.

How do you get over a writing slump? I reread my favorite books and passages. They inspire me to tell myself, “well, I think I can do this.”

Do you prefer writing dialogue or descriptive passages? Dialogue comes more naturally to me.

What are you working on now? I’m taking a break after releasing Kong Boys this summer. Next I would like to try fiction.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing and publishing a book? Write something that interests you first. Writing should be enjoyable. Then think about what may interest your readers.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which podcasts do you find the most interesting? Yes. Fantasy Football Counsellor is my secret to get ahead in my fantasy league. 🙂

Favorite escape: Golfing on an early Saturday morning

Have you ever tried Kombucha tea? I have not!

Do you prefer a couch with pillows or no pillows? Without for sure. I even started sleeping without pillows.

Would you rather rake leaves, shovel snow or weed? Weed. I spent seven years in Upstate New York and have had enough snow for the rest of my life.

Favorite mask – disposable paper, plain fabric, colorful print or something else? Anything reusable and eco-friendly

Biggest writing challenge since Covid-19: Keeping up with my two small kids at home (20 months and 4 months)

Website and social media links:
www.geraldyeung.com
https://www.facebook.com/geraldyeungauthor


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Who’s That Indie Author? Cendrine Marrouat

Author name:  Cendrine Marrouat

Genre:  Poetry, photography, theatre, humor, guides for authors and writers

Books: Click here for a full list of Cendrine’s books. Below is a list of 2020 titles:

Blog Your Way to Success: 35+ No-Nonsense Tips for Authors and Writers (upcoming); Songs in Our Paths: Haiku & Photography (Vol. 1 upcoming); Bad. Pitches. Period. 30 Flavors of Spammy Emails; My Positivity Journal: 100 Action Verbs and Affirmations for Daily Inspiration – co-authored with David Ellis; My Twitter Workbook: 20 Tips to Get Noticed and Followed – co-authored with David Ellis; The Little Big eBook on Social Media Audiences: Build Yours, Keep It & Win (2nd Ed.); My Poetry Workbook: 20 Tips to Write Great Poems– co-authored with David Ellis; My Marketing Workbook: Promotional Tips For Poets – co-authored with David Ellis; My Creative Journal: 40 Prompts to Take Your Writing to the Next Level! – co-authored with David Ellis; The Heart of Space

What’s your story and how did you become a writer? I was born and raised in Toulouse, France, and have lived in Winnipeg, Canada, since 2003. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in English-to-French translation.

In my 17-year career, I have acquired a vast experience in several fields: translation, language instruction, social media coaching and training, content creation and curation, photography, poetry, theatre, art reviews, blogging, and journalism. I am the author of 23 books in different genres.

Last year, I co-founded Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal with fellow author and poet David Ellis. Our magazine focuses exclusively on positive, inspirational and uplifting poetry. We have also co-authored a series of mini-guides for authors and writers.

In 2019, photographer Isabel Nolasco and I co-founded FPoint Collective, a collective of photographers. There are currently three members.

I am the creator of the Sixku (poetry form) and the Reminigram (photography genre). As a photographer, I specialize in nature, closeup, and black-and-white images. I also teach French to adults and occasionally advise clients on social media strategy.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  Very early in my career, I learnt how to prioritize tasks and organize myself accordingly. It makes everything easier

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  The day when someone compared the style in one of my books to Kahlil Gibran’s!

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  I always start with a title. Then, I take the time I need to complete a project. The only planning I ever did was for my play, titled In the Silence of Words.

Could you write in a café with people around?  Yes, I occasionally do. But solitude is my jam.

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  French is my mother tongue but I have always prefererd writing in English. I worked hard and practiced a lot. Also, I have only expected the best from myself.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. This book saved my life. I have just finished reading Robert Harms’ The Diligent: A Voyage Through the Worlds Of The Slave Trade and am about to start Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  It’s hard for me to concentrate on a screen. I only use my Kindle Fire when I am on a trip or for short books. Nothing beats print books. Paperbacks are great!

Do you think print books will always be around?  Of course! Actually, they have never been threatened.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  Nope!

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else?  My computer.

How long could you go without checking your phone?  I was born and raised in an era when smartphones didn’t exist. My first “cellphone” was a pager and I heard of the internet for the first time when I was 17 or 18. I sent my first email a year later.

Smartphones can be useful but they are useless when you mostly work from home. I have everything I need on my computer. Some days, I do not even look at my phone.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  I don’t listen to audiobooks.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  As a social media coach, I love social media! I have used Twitter, Facebook, Linked, and LinkedIn for a very long time. Instagram is also a decent platform.

My favorite network has always been Twitter. There are many authors and readers there!

Website and social media links:
Website: cendrinemedia.com
Blog: creativeramblings.com
Twitter: @cendrinemedia
Facebook: @cendrinephotography
Instagram: cendrinemedia
YouTube: Cendrine Marrouat

Awards/special recognition:  Canadian Geographic: Photo shortlisted to appear in the 2021 Canadian Parks calendar; 2015 SMALL BUSINESS BOOK AWARDS: Community Choice vote winner in the Social Media Category (The Little Big eBook on Social Media Audiences: Build Yours, Keep It, and Win); BUZZHUMM: Top 100 Business Blogger; FIT SMALL BUSINESS: Best Small Business Blogs of 2015 and 2016 lists (Social Media Slant, my former social media blog)


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What’s That Book? The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

TitleThe Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Author:  Phaedra Patrick

Genre: Fiction. Tough to classify, part slice-of-life, part humor, part adventure, and part mystery

Rating:

What’s it about?  A reclusive widower has finally decided to go through his wife’s belongings when he finds a charm bracelet he never knew she had. Curiosity gets the better of him and he slowly unravels the story behind each charm. This discovery not only reveals things he never knew about his wife, but also forces him out of his comfort zone and helps him realize a side of himself he never knew he had.

How did you hear about it? Just a random bit of browsing through the library catalog

Closing comments: This is a charming (sorry for the pun) slice of life story that readers of a Man Called Ove and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will enjoy.

Contributor: Tammie PainterI turn wickedly strong tea into imaginative fiction – You can read about my adventures over at TammiePainter.com/blog.

Many thanks to Tammie Painter who was generous enough to submit two book reviews for What’s That Book. Click here to read her review of A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer.


Have you read something good?  Want to talk about it?
Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

Email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com for information.

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The safe world of political fiction

If you can’t watch the news, but you still like political stories, you can always pick up a novel. These three books will help you escape into the safe world of political fiction. One all-American story, a smart romance and a clever mystery.


America America by Ethan Canin

In 1971, Henry Bonwiller is near the front of the race to become the next Democratic nominee for president of the United States, and a young Corey Sifter is there to witness his rise and ultimate fall, as an aide to the money and power behind the campaign.


Candidate by Tracy Ewens

Politics are tough and public image is everything for United States Senator Patrick Malendar of California. He’s up for re-election and his young Republican opponent is giving him a run for his money. This modern romance is full of fun banter and romantic tension. But it also tackles many serious subjects, including the price of public life, family secrets and infidelity.


Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery by Andrew Shaffer

Why not write a mystery with Barack Obama and Joe Biden as amateur detectives? This pair has plenty of rapport to wrap around a good story line. Who better to solve a mystery than the former President and Vice President of the United States?


And if you really just want to escape from it all, try

Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse

Imagine a scenario in which ridiculous characters bumble through a series of hilarious coincidences and an equal number of snafus, all in the name of love, marriage and a big business deal. The first of three short novels included in Just Enough Jeeves, a fun introduction to P.G. Wodehouse’s famous characters: twenty-something Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves.


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Who’s That Indie Author? Willie Handler

whos-that-indie-author

Author name:  Willie Handler

Genre:  Humor

Book:  The Road Ahead

Bio:  Willie Handler grew up in Toronto and did his undergraduate work at the University of Toronto. He also has graduate degrees from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto and the Fox School of Business at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He spent over thirty years in various positions in the Ontario public service. before leaving in 2011. He has a number of humorous short stories published online on CommuterLit and Show Me the Funny, as well as many articles published in professional trade journals. THE ROAD AHEAD is his first novel. Willie is currently working on funny story about a chef stranded on Mars who is rescued by two Martians.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I was a technical writer for much of my work career. Three years ago, I decided to try creative writing and have been loving it. I enjoy storytelling, creating humor and using my imagination. Writing has been a wonderful opportunity to develop skills.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  The publishing industry has changed a lot over the years and authors are expected to actively market their books. Indie authors have to carry the ball largely on their own. I have no background in marketing and was not very active on social media. This aspect of writing has been challenging but I’m getting better at it.

Favorite books:
Cider House Rules – John Irving
Goodbye, Columbus – Philip Roth
The Plot Against America – Philip Roth
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Contact Information:
Blog: williehandler.com
Twitter – @WillieHandler
Facebook – @willietheauthor


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Kristen Hansen Brakeman

whos-that-indie-author

Author name:  Kristen Hansen Brakeman

Genre:  Memoir

BookIs That the Shirt You’re Wearing?

Bio:  Kristen Hansen Brakeman’s comedic essays have appeared in the New York Times Motherlode, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Working Mother Magazine, Scary Mommy, and Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, where she was recently named Humor Writer of the Month. She has appeared on Huff Post Live to endlessly debate the use of the word “Ma’am,” and is a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books. Real humans have compared her writing style to both Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron, but possibly they were intoxicated at the time. Brakeman works behind-the-scenes on television variety shows and lives in the suburbs of Los Angeles with her husband, and three daughters.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Besides saving money on therapy bills, what I like about writing is connecting to my readers. Nothing makes me happier than hearing, “I could totally relate…” because something I wrote struck a chord, or reminded them of their own lives. I’ll be honest – it’s very gratifying knowing you’ve touched or made someone laugh enough to write you a personal note.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Marketing and self-promotion are the challenge of any author, but especially indie authors who have to do the lion’s share. It’s not my personality to say, “Pay attention to me!” but luckily I’ve found most people have been very receptive, and it’s nice to have the interaction with readers that comes from being heavily involved with the selling phase.

Favorite book:  I can’t name just one!  For nonfiction I love anything by David Sedaris, and the late Nora Ephron.  Fiction – probably Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is still my personal favorite. That and, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, so I guess I’m drawn to magical realism in my fiction.

Contact Information:
Website:  kristenbrakeman.com
Facebook:  @kristenhansenbrakeman
Twitter:  @KristenBrakeman
Goodreads Author:  Kristen Hansen Brakeman

Awards:
Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop HUMOR WRITER OF THE MONTH (MARCH 2017)
FRESHLY PRESSED honor by WordPress
Finalist, Blogger Idol

Click here to visit Amazon and order your copy of Is That the Shirt You’re Wearing?


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Book Review: Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse

Joy in the Morning from Just Enough Jeeves
by
P.G. Wodehouse

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Imagine a scenario in which ridiculous characters bumble through a series of hilarious coincidences and an equal number of snafus, all in the name of love, marriage and a big business deal. That’s the main idea in Joy in the Morning, the first of three short novels included in Just Enough Jeeves, a great introduction to P.G. Wodehouse’s famous characters, a twenty-something Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves.

In this story, Bertie and Jeeves leave London and head for the quiet hamlet of Steeple Bumpleigh. To anyone wishing to escape a hectic metropolis, Steeple Bumpleigh sounds great. Bertie describes it as located “in the midst of smiling fields and leafy woods, hard by a willow-fringed river.” It’s a place where “you couldn’t have thrown a brick in it without hitting a honeysuckle-covered cottage or beaning an apple-cheeked villager.” Steeple Bumpleigh is also the place, however, where Bertie’s domineering Aunt Agatha and her fearsome second husband, Uncle Percy live. And nothing good can come of meeting up with them.

Uncle Percy, a shipping magnate, seeking wise counsel, enlisted Jeeves to come up with a scheme for Percy to meet in secret and seal a big business deal with a wealthy American shipping tycoon. What better place to meet than the Wee Nooke, temporary country cottage to Bertie Wooster? It takes some convincing to get Bertie to agree, but Bertie is nothing if not a good sport and the promise of a fancy dress ball is an extra bonus.

Add to the mix the ever-changing romantic ties between Bertie, his ex-fiancée Florence Craye, and her current betrothed, Stilton Cheeswright and things get a little complicated. Florence is Uncle Percy’s daughter from his first marriage and Bertie had narrowly escaped her clutches only months earlier. If that wasn’t enough to cause some hilarious disasters, throw in twenty-year-old Zenobia (Nobby) Hopwood, Percy’s ward, who is madly in love with a famous writer, Boko Fittleworth. Nobby needs Percy’s approval to tie the knot, but Percy has vetoed a wedding. In steps Bertie to put in a good word and you can only guess where that will lead.

I loved this clever story! Joy in the Morning is pure entertainment and a great escape into the frivolous upper crust world of a lovable good chap who gets himself into the wildest predicaments. As in all of Wodehouse’s books, everyone counts on the ever-wise Jeeves for a solution and he does not disappoint. It is written in a light and fun-loving mood and I read the whole thing with a big smile on my face. Check it out and you’ll know what I mean!

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Click here to learn more about P.G. Wodehouse.
Check out my review of Very Good, Jeeves.

Dented Cans by Heather Walsh

Dented Cans
by
Heather Walsh

Rating:

Here’s a nice young adult read for teens who, more than anything, want a normal family with normal parents and normal relationships.

Hannah Sampson is a high school junior who’s in a hurry to escape her family and their blue-collar town of North Prospect, Connecticut.  Nothing can keep her from wanting to leave.  Her quirky parents are borderline hoarders.  Her mother fills scrapbooks with pictures and packs them away in the basement.  Her father can’t pass up a bargain on dented cans from the supermarket and has loaded them up on their basement shelves.

If that isn’t enough, things have changed with her fourteen-year-old brother, Ryan.  And little brother Ben barely speaks, preferring instead to communicate with sound effects.  What else is there to do but study hard and find a college that’s far away from this group?  The months pass slowly and a vacation to Disney World brings everything to a head when Hannah’s parents reveal a family secret.

I liked this story, written from Hannah’s point of view, because it gives a pretty good look into family dynamics.  What seems like a weird family turns out to be similar to the way many families communicate, and don’t communicate, with each other.

I think Walsh is best at describing the sibling dynamic, which can be both combative and affectionate.  Hannah and Ryan are both nice to Ben and they share that protective nature.  And the three band together in defiance of their parents, particularly in Disney World.  She also touches on how kids have to break the family rules in order to gain independence, particularly with Ben at the water park.  I also think Walsh does a good job showing how Hannah’s parents react to Ryan and Hannah as they assert themselves.

Some readers may be frustrated with Hannah’s opinions, which are strong and intolerant, but I think that shows how kids can exaggerate their points of view to deal with their frustration.  And once Hannah understands her family better, we grow to understand Hannah.

All-in-all, this is a fast, enjoyable read, with a serious message that’s delivered in light humor.

Dented Cans is Heather Walsh’s first book. Be sure to check out her second book, The Drake Equation.

And click here for an interview with Heather Walsh.

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Hanging on the Telephone

This made me laugh so hard – hope you enjoy it too!

Listful Thinking

Yesterday, I spent 20 minutes clicking my way deeper and deeper into a company’s website, looking for someone’s email address. Unless you’re looking for an incredibly specific, possibly illegal item that’s only sold by a tiny curio shop in the Ukraine, that’s a stupid amount of time to spend looking for anything online. I was determined to find the address or die trying, though, because my only other option was calling her.

Yep. I had her phone number the whole time. When it comes down to it, I would rather fly a rickety, snake-infested plane to the Ukraine to hunt down an incredibly specific, possibly illegal item that’s only sold by a tiny curio shop there than pick up the phone and call someone.

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