Who’s That Indie Author? Leon Stevens

Author Name: Leon Stevens

Genre: Poetry and Science Fiction

Books: Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, A Wonder of Words, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, The View from Here, Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar

Bio: I am a Canadian multi-genre author, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and artist with a Bachelor of Music and Education.

What got you started as a writer? I became a writer out of necessity. Along with songwriting, poetry was therapeutic and allowed me to accept and make sense of events and situations in my life. I decided that what I wrote could help and entertain others, so I decided to publish my first book of poetry.

What is your writing routine? I don’t have a set routine. However, most of my blog posts are written in the morning, so often, I’ll write a few things down after that. I’m a slow writer and will often write when inspiration strikes. I do try to write each day.

What route did you take to get your books published? I made a mistake that many new authors have made and used a vanity press to publish. I had no idea what to do, so it seemed to be the quickest and easiest way. They did provide a lot of invaluable publishing and marketing information and took care of the distribution. All my other books have been through KDP.

What things do you do to promote your books? Like most indie authors, money is a concern. Advertising costs vary greatly, and it’s a lot of work and research to decide where the investment will be the most effective. I also use BookFunnel and StoryOrigin to connect with other authors to promote to their readership. I have been interviewing authors as well, which is a great way to not only help promote their work but to introduce mine to others.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? I try to read a variety of genres, but I am very picky, so many books get left unfinished. Science fiction and historical fiction is what I prefer.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? I used to struggle with dialogue. Often, if I am getting stuck with descriptions, I’ll just write dialogue to get things moving. Also, I’m not one for writing lengthy descriptions, which is probably why when I set out to write my first novel, it wound up being a novella.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book?
Nah. They’re pretty open to dealing with the situations I put them in. I haven’t heard any complaints. Yet.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life?  Probably getting my degrees. 

What events or people have most influenced how you live your life? I think my father has had the most influence. He was the one who instilled the love of science fiction in me at a young age. He is such a hard worker, and I’ve never seen him get mad or complain. When people say, “You’re just like your dad.” I know I’m doing something right.

What would you tell your younger self? Funny you should ask. In my latest poetry book, I wrote about just that.

What I Want to be When I’m Young

I want to listen more. To the people who know better. To the people who say, “Don’t make the same mistakes that I did.” Learning from mistakes? Sure, we do have to make errors in life sometimes, but what’s wrong with looking up how to spell a word or use spell-check…? Nothing.

I want to set goals. Obtainable ones. Despite what people say, you can’t be anything you want to be. That’s a lie. There are some things that you just won’t be able to do. Although, by trying and failing, you will find out what you are good at.

I want to be a better student. I didn’t try my best. I think that I needed glasses. I didn’t understand the importance of learning—the importance of wanting to learn.

I want to not be a quitter. Piano, guitar, sports. I should have tried harder. Much harder.

I want to save 10% of all my earnings. I shudder to do the calculations. I never made a lot, but my father-in-law always said that compound interest was the eighth wonder of the world. He was right.

I want to be brave. Not reckless, just not so afraid.

I want to stay awake so that I can see Halley’s comet.

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? I have. Sort of. We could hear the bear just around the corner. There was a tree moving, so it was probably scratching it. We turned around and headed back to the tent. The next day we successfully completed the hike with no encounters. Except for the angry squirrel.

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? No contest. Snickers. It’s a delicious meal. But those Doritos are looking pretty tasty. Just my luck, whatever I buy will get stuck.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Interesting question. Had I known I’d be asked this later in my life, I might have kept a record. It’s funny how people gravitate to kitchens during get-togethers. Closer to the food and beer I suppose.

Closing thoughts: Thank you for having me here. Any opportunity to get the word out about my books is appreciated.  

Website and social media links: I have recently discovered linktree, so all my links can be found in one handy place: https://linktr.ee/leonstevens


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Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Book Review: The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevsen

The Copenhagen Trilogy
by
Tove Ditlevsen

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I had never heard of Tove Ditlevsen until I watched a stream of The 10 Best Books of 2021 from the New York Times, naming The Copenhagen Trilogy as one of the best books of the year. Ditlevsen was a Danish poet and author, and one of Denmark’s best-known authors. She was born in 1917 into a working-class family and during her lifetime, she published twenty-nine books of short stories, novels and poetry. Ditlevsen received numerous awards for her writing, but despite her success, she struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and died of an overdose in 1976 at age fifty-eight.

This sounds like a depressing book to read, but I thought it was beautifully written and it was obvious to me that Ditlevsen had a great talent for understanding and expressing complex feelings and conditions well beyond her youth. The poetry excerpts she includes are testament to her talent.

As a child and teenager, Ditlevsen lived with her parents in a tiny apartment in Copenhagen. Her father was a laborer and was frequently unemployed. Ditlevsen’s formal education was cut short at age fourteen when she began working in various office jobs and at eighteen, she moved out and supported herself. During that time, she published her first poem in a literary journal, then a collection of poetry and began writing novels and more poetry. As a teenager on her own, which was the norm in Denmark, she felt, “There’s something painful and fragile about being a young girl who makes her own living. You can’t see any light ahead on that road. And I want so badly to own my own time instead of always having to sell it.”

Ditlevsen’s memoir is divided into three sections: Childhood, Youth and Dependency and is largely personal. Themes of marriage, family relationships, alcoholism and suicide figure prominently. Although she mentions the socialist movement, the Depression, Hitler and the German occupation during World War II, these historical references serve only as a backdrop to her life story.

I was most shocked by the third section in which she lives recklessly, falls into addiction and in and out of marriages. Ditlevsen married and divorced four times and, during her marriage to Carl Theodor Ryberg, she became addicted to Demerol and other drugs (willingly supplied by her doctor husband) and was first admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Despite her personal ups and downs, Ditlevsen remains serious about writing, if nothing else. She writes, “And I realize more and more that the only thing I’m good for, the only thing that truly captivates me, is forming sentences and word combinations or writing simple, four-line poetry.”

I was completely drawn into the author’s story and touched by many of her descriptions. Special recognition should go to the book’s translators, Tiina Nunnally and Michael Favala Goldman, who manage to preserve the beauty of her writing.

I highly recommend The Copenhagen Trilogy to readers who enjoy memoirs and poetry. I found the cover to be a little jarring, but don’t let that turn you away.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Club Mom’s Indie Authors of 2021- here they are!

This year I highlighted twenty-two hard working indie authors, writers of fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry and children’s books. They have great stories to tell about their writing careers, so if you missed any, I hope you’ll visit them now.

Gail Aldwin – Contemporary Fiction

Bruce W. Bishop – Historical Fiction, Family Saga

Susan Blackmon – Historical Fiction

K. Blanton Brenner – Family Saga

Lorelei Brush – Upmarket Women’s Fiction and Historical Fiction

Sheila M. Cronin – Fiction

Jill Culiner – Nonfiction, Mystery, Romance and Romantic Suspense.

Kim Fairley – Nonfiction, Memoir

Tabitha Forney – Upmarket Fiction

Jacqueline Friedland – Women’s Fiction

Allan Hudson – Action/Adventure, Historical

Jane Elizabeth Hughes – Women’s Fiction

Miriam Hurdle – Poetry and Children’s Books

Kaitlyn Jain – Nonfiction, Travel, Memoir

Laurie James – Memoir

Leora Krygier – Memoir, Fiction

Tammy Pasterick – Historical Fiction

Angela Paolantonio – Memoir, Place-Based Travel Memoir, Women’s Studies

Margaret Rodenberg – Historical Fiction

Lauren Scott – Poetry, Memoir

Joe Wells – Murder Mystery

Faith Wilcox – Memoir


In January, I’ll be putting together a new set of interview questions and making a few other format changes. If you’d like to be highlighted, email bvitelli2009@gmail.com and I’ll send you the new questions as soon as they’re ready.

Happy holidays!

Who’s That Indie Author? Miriam Hurdle

Author Name: Miriam Hurdle

Genre: Poetry and Children’s Books

Books: Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude and Tina Lost in a Crowd

Brief Bio: I write poetry, flash fiction, short stories, and children’s stories. I’m retired after two years of counseling, fifteen years of teaching, and ten years of school administration. During my retirement, I enjoy gardening, painting, photography, and traveling, especially going to visit my granddaughters.

What got you started as a writer? After I finished college in Hong Kong, I wrote children’s books as part of my job in a literacy company. In 2016, I started blogging with the desire to share my cancer recovery journey. The blogging took me to write about my travel notes, flash fiction, gardening, and poetry. I compiled the poems written in two years to publish my first poetry collection.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? I think the ten years of my first marriage, the five years being separated from my daughter, and my cancer experience made me look at life differently and helped me as a writer.

Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? I have participated in the NaNoWriMo 2017, and the NaNoWriMo Camp in July 2020. November is not a convenient month for me to make a commitment to write every day because the Thanksgiving week is a family time. I completed the word count in 2017, but the last one-third of the story is messy. July is a better time to write, and I could use what I wrote in 2020.

What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? My advice would be:

  1. Write what you’re passionate about and write freely,
    as if nobody will read it.
  2. Read aloud what you write to see if YOU like it.
  3. Take a few online writing courses to refresh your writing skills.
  4. Do research to get a bird’s eye view of writing, editing,
    publishing, and marketing.
  5. Have a good or professional editing of your book for the publication.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid?  The biggest challenge during Covid was not being able to see my granddaughters. I missed being with my daughter for her childbirth for my second granddaughter. I didn’t see my younger granddaughter until she was eight months old. On my first visit, it took her several days to warm up with me. In fact, studies show that babies born during Covid take a while to get used to the social contact.

What are you reading right now? I’m reading my blogging friend Elizabeth Gauffreau’s new book Grief Songs: Poems of Love. I should be done reading it by the time this interview is posted.

Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? I would rather laugh over a book with a pleasant sense of humor. I have plenty of experiences that remind me of the tears.

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? I grew up in a city full of skyscrapers rather than trees, so I have never climbed a tree to read. I have had no experience of climbing trees.

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? I read Kindle books on my phone. I once left my phone in the pocket and put the jacket in the washer. It almost gave me a heart attack, not because of the books, but my contacts. It makes me very conscientious about holding a phone in the tub at home or in the spa at the gym.

Could you live in a tiny house? From childhood to young adult, I lived with my family in a tiny apartment in Hong Kong. After forty-some years of living in good sizes of houses, it would take a big adjustment to live in a tiny house.

What are the small things that make you happy? The smallest things are when my older granddaughter called me “grandma,” asking me to do things with her, and when my younger granddaughter warmed up with me and let me hold her.

Website and social media links:
Website/Blog: theshowersofblessings.com
Amazon Author Page: Miriam-Hurdle
Goodreads: Miriam Hurdle
Twitter: @mhurdle112
Facebook: Miriam-Hurdle-Author


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

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Who’s That Indie Author? Lauren Scott

Author Name: Lauren Scott

Genre: Poetry, Memoir

Books: New Day, New Dreams (2013), Finding a Balance (2015), and new release this year: More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose

Bio: I live in California with my husband of 32 years, and we have two adult children. Through my experiences over three decades: raising a family, grieving through loss, finding joy in the smallest things, and the many backpacking and camping adventures, my writing takes a magical path of its own. I also love to read, and my bookcase is bursting at the seams!

What got you started as a writer? When I was a teenager, I wrote poetry about the boys I had crushes on. I continued to put thoughts to paper throughout my life, but I grew more passionate within the last decade. Now I write each day; it’s a natural part of my routine, either creating poems, drafting a short memoir, or dabbling in fiction.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? My love for writing turned into a passion when my daughter was diagnosed with a rare disease that would necessitate a future transplant for her survival. It isn’t fair for children to suffer, and as her mother, this news took processing that prompted me to write. My hurting poured out through words into poems and stories, some personal, some shared.

Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? I haven’t participated in NaNoWriMo, but it sounds like a wonderful organization. Maybe someday.

What advice would you give a new indie author hoping to publish a book? Do your research, initiate dialogue with authors who have self-published. Persevere, because if publishing your book means that much to you, you’ll do the work to achieve your goal.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid? What tugged at my heart was not being able to see my daughter and son-in-law who live in Tennessee. Regarding writing, inspiration flowed at lightning speed. The last year and a half have been a challenge, but I am grateful for the abundance of creativity.

What are you reading right now? Dead of Winter, Journey 5, by Teagan Riordain Geneviene. This book is part of a series of short novellas and Journey 9 is her latest release. It has been an exciting adventure diving into this fantasy tale.

Would you rather laugh or cry over a book? Laugh!

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? I can’t say that I have. I enjoy sitting in the comfort of my living room or on the patio in the company of nature.

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? From my childhood, I have memories of a favorite paperback slipping out of my hands into our aquamarine kidney-shaped pool.

Could you live in a tiny house? No, but my husband and I live in a modest 1200 square foot home, a cozy dwelling, where we raised our two children. Even though we are new empty nesters, our 75-lb lab, Copper, still happily trots around the house.

What are the small things that make you happy? Baking.Flowers in bloom.Chocolate. Music. Carrot cake. A walk around the neighborhood. Backpacking. Freshwater lakes. Ping pong. Watching rom-coms or compelling thrillers. Reading. Family and writing are the Big things in life.

Website and social media links:
baydreamerwrites.com
Lauren Scott Amazon Author page


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

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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)


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

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Who’s That Indie Author? Matthew Williams

Author name:  Matthew Williams

Genre:  Memoir & Poetry

Books:  Something Changed: Stumbling Through Divorce, Dating and Depression; A Familiar Stranger

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  I’ve always been a bookworm and I like nothing more than sitting in a café with a cup of tea and a good book, in my native north east of England.

In the aftermath of divorce, in 2015 I took to my tablet and I wrote. I’d never written anything outside of studies and work, yet I felt compelled to write about what I was experiencing. So I did. I wrote, I wrote, and I wrote. The words poured out of me and, before I knew it, in August 2017 I had my first book ready for publication.

I would never have imagined that I would be a published author, and now I have published two books. Writing has helped me to make sense of some difficult life challenges; through it I have learned new things about myself and have had some wonderful opportunities and met many inspirational people. I have discovered a love of poetry and have had a number of opportunities to share my story at various events.

More than anything, it means a lot to me that my writing has helped others to navigate challenges in their own lives, and I am grateful for the platform that writing has given me to raise awareness of mental health.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  With difficulty! Like most people these days life is very busy, I work full time for a mental health charity and I am a dad to two beautiful children, who I have shared custody of. So most of my time is spent running around from here to there and chipping away at an ever-growing to do list. I write when I can, I love it and I really feel in my element when I am sat at my keyboard and typing away. I’m not complaining, I’m lucky to have a life filled with things that I am passionate about. I could just do with a few more hours in the day sometimes!

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  Like most parents I would say the two happiest moments of my life were the births of my children. Outside of that, and the smiles and laughter they bring into my life each day, holding my first book in my hands for the first time was a very special – and quite surreal – moment.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  With what I have written to date I have been a pantser. I tend to get a word or an expression come to mind and the rest flows from that. I usually don’t know what will come out and that’s the real thrill of writing for me. My goal is to write a novel; I’m curious as to how I will approach the challenge and whether my writing approach will need to adapt.

Could you write in a café with people around?  Absolutely, there are few greater pleasures in life! A lot of my first book was written in cafes. When I’m focused on what I am doing and the words are flowing I tend to be in my own little world and am quite oblivious to what is going on around me.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  That’s so difficult to answer! It’s very difficult to pick just one. There are a few authors that I adore – Louis de Bernieres, Haruki Murakami, Tolstoy, Michael Chabon, Salman Rushdie, Donna Tartt, Thomas Wolfe – but if I had to pick one I would say War and Peace. All human life is there and Tolstoy has an incredible understanding of the human condition.

I usually have a few books on the go. At the moment I am reading Dead Men’s Trousers by Irvine Welsh and 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B Peterson.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  I tend to get lost in whatever it is I’m reading, regardless of the format. I like the convenience of an eReader but you can’t beat the feel of a paperback in your hands.

Do you think print books will always be around?  I hope so! Reading print books is about so much more than the words, it’s the experience too and I think that there are enough readers that feel the same way to ensure that print books are with us for a good while yet. With so many high street stores closing down I do wonder about the future of physical book shops, but I hope they are around for many years to come.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  Short and simple – no!

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else?  My iPad; I do the majority of my writing on it, as well as the social media, promotion etc. that follows.

How long could you go without checking your phone?  Not long enough! It’s something I’m conscious of. I think I’m pretty good at not playing about with my phone in company, especially at meals. I don’t have social media apps on my phone either. That said, it’s too easy to reach for your phone when walking for instance, and more and more I am resisting the impulse to check it when there is no good reason to.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  No. I do think that they’re a good thing but, for me, I love reading so much that if there’s something that interests me I will always want to read the book.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I like it, but it’s necessary. I like the opportunity it gives to engage with readers and I think it’s a fantastic tool for getting your work out there. That said, it can be very time consuming and I’m not a natural self-promoter so it can feel a little uncomfortable for me at times.

Website and social media links:
Website: A Familiar Stranger www.afamiliarstranger.co.uk
Twitter: @3DMathW
Facebook: @mwfamiliarstranger
Instagram: math_williams


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

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Who’s That Indie Author? Ritu Bhathal

Author name:  Ritu Bhathal

Genre:  Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick Lit with an Indian Twist!

Books:  Marriage Unarranged, Poetic RITUals

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  What is my story, indeed. I am a British born Indian woman, born to Kenyan born Indian parents who moved to the UK in the seventies from Kenya. I was born in Birmingham, in the Midlands, and was raised with a massive extended family around me. After school, I went to university to study to become a teacher, my dream since I was seven. Along the way, I developed a passion for reading, thanks to my mother, and the urge to write stories came from the wonderful books I grew up reading. I would write short stories as a child and won a competition at school which definitely gave me more of an urge to write.

The beginnings of this novel started twenty years ago, as I was preparing for my own marriage. I would write little bits, then save and file away my installments. Life happened and with the addition of a husband, in-laws and then two children, there was precious little time to think about my book.

Almost fifteen years after I started writing it, I created my first blog, and realized that I had a story I really needed to finish, and hopefully publish. I also uncovered a hidden love of poetry by taking part in challenges and ended up with a poetry anthology out in the world too!

I have to say that blogging has been hugely instrumental in me getting this book out there.

From finding like-minded souls, to writers I have grown to love and admire, I have managed to learn so much about the writing and publishing process and have got an amazingly supportive team behind me.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  Well that is a tough one! As a wife and mother, my hands are full. Add in being a full-time teacher, and you must be wondering where I find the time!

Writing and reading, for me, are a release. I find that when I write, or read, I sink into a world that is all mine, with no interruptions. So, during term time, I make time in the evenings, to do both. I get the kids settled, then I have my time. I’m not a huge television watcher, so that helps. In the holidays, I know my teen and tween will be sleeping late in the mornings, so those couple of hours are perfect, before they all wake up, to get creative. It’s all about making time to do what you love.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  Oh my… just one? Finding out we were pregnant for the first time. I suffer from PCOS and had great difficulty in falling pregnant, so after a few years of disappointments, and upsets, seeing that little plus sign on a pregnancy test, then having it confirmed by the doctor was something else. Seeing the little heart beating inside our baby bean at that first scan brought tears to our eyes! Now, as that little bean gets older, the tears are caused by his attitude…but that’s teenagers for you.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  I proudly call myself a plantser! I fall heavily in the middle. I usually start off as a true pantser. I get an idea and let it fly. Then I realize that without a skeleton plan, at least, I am going to trip up, so I create more of an outline. But I don’t over-plan. I know the gist of the story. I have an idea of where I’d like us to end up, then I let my characters take me there! It can make for a fun journey. I mean, with this new release of mine, I had no idea I’d end up with a homosexual character, who ends up crying out for a book of his own, with his antics!

Could you write in a café with people around?  Honestly, I have tried this, but I am too much of a people person, and I end up in conversations with everyone. I do like the idea though, so there have been countless times my computer and I have journeyed to a coffee shop, and a few words have been typed. But not many. In all honesty, I think I prefer to people watch, or talk. After all, there is inspiration in every situation, don’t you think?

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  The characters in my book are British born Indian Sikhs, with a home language of Punjabi. They tended to speak English, with a smattering of Punjabi words within. I tried to convey the meaning of the words through how they said things. Initially I had some whole sentences, but then translating was tedious, and the language glossary page count was rivaling that of the book, so I decided to lessen the second language, and use the power of inference instead!

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  I always stumble with this question of a favorite book. It is a tough one, as I have read and loved so many books! As a child, anything by Enid Blyton was my favorite, or A.A.Milne. Then I started Danielle Steele books. My mother had the Flowers in The Attic series by Virginia Andrews, which I absolutely loved, but there was one book of hers that I reread many times, My Sweet Audrina. I think I was captured by the twists and turns that Andrews would create in her writing. Right now, I am about to start the fourth book in the Cliffside Bay series, by Tess Thompson. It is a Small-Town Romance set of books, with a host of interwoven stories written from the perspective of the different residents of the town.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  I am not as much a fan of hardbacks as others, because they can be cumbersome to hold when reading. I do love a paperback, but space doesn’t permit me to buy many, so for convenience, my Kindle Paperwhite is my faithful companion. And it has the added bonus of a back light, so I don’t have to disturb my Hubby Dearest at night, if I am engrossed in a book, and it is so light!

Do you think print books will always be around?  Oh, most definitely. How could the bookstagrammers of the world create such enticing book posts without the paperbacks to play with? Sure, you can get the photo of a cover on a screen but seeing the spine of a book on a bookshelf… there’s nothing to beat that! I know of many readers who will not read anything other than print books.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  I try to keep my Kindle with me at all times, but I can forget, and this is why I have the Kindle app on my phone. I don’t do it often, but I have, on occasion, read on my phone, while sitting at the doctor’s surgery, or if I have a spare moment.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else?  I currently own an Android phone and have never had an iPhone. Though, having said that, I recently bought a MacBook Air, so who knows… an iPhone might be on the cards!

How long could you go without checking your phone?  Hands up, I admit I am terrible. Unless I am at school, during the teaching day, my phone is near me and if I am bored, I will pick it up and check notifications. My Hubby Dearest has me down in his phone as #Valiyey, translation Girl of the Hashtag! But then, I have to keep on top of my Social Media for my Author brand… (see, I have an excuse!) I dread to think what one of those apps would tell me about my phone usage! But then again, my brother lives in Finland, and I have two Finndian (their mummy is Finnish, to their daddy’s Indian, hence, Finndian) nephews. So, we use the video call functions a lot so we can all stay in touch.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  I have to confess to being a non-listener. I prefer to read my books, instead of listening. If I was a commuter, I might have got into listening to audiobooks, but my drive to work is short, and the kids are with me. They’d refuse to listen to a book in the car, favoring their latest music!

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  As I mentioned earlier, I do love social media. I am active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram mainly.

Website and social media links:
WordPress Blog Website: But I Smile Anyway
Author Website: ritubhathal.com
Twitter: @RituBhathal
Instagram: ritubhathalwrites
Facebook: @butismileanyway (But I Smile Anyway) and @RituBhathal (Author, Poet and Storyteller)
Goodreads Author: Ritu Bhathal

Click here for more information about Ritu’s latest book, Marriage Unarranged.

Awards/special recognition:  Best Blogger at the Annual Bloggers Bash 2017 and Best Book Blog at the Annual Bloggers Bash


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Who’s That Indie Author? Frank Prem

Author name:  Frank Prem

Genre:  Free Verse Poetry/Memoir

Books:  Devil In The Wind (2019); Small Town Kid (2018)

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  I’ve been a prolific free verse poet for over 40 years now. Mainly keeping my work low key and developing skills and a kind of back catalogue of completed work. I’ve started to draw on that work now as I move in to presenting myself to the public in book form.

My professional career has been as a Psychiatric Nurse, which I’ve also been doing for 40 odd years, now. In that role, I have spanned the days of the old mental asylum, which I grew up with in my town, through student nursing for three years and a range of clinical experiences at different facilities around my state (Victoria, Australia). My current plan is to have a third memoir style collection of poems focusing on my experience of psychiatry in book form by the end of 2019, or early in 2020.

I started writing way back, when I was in high school. I discovered then that my teacher was so impressed that a student had attempted poetry that I was given credit even though my essay submission was a few hundred words short of requirements. I figured there was something very ‘right’ about that, and I’ve been a poet ever since.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  I’m not entirely sure that I do achieve balance in this respect. In my professional career I was always charging at my next objective as though NOW was the only possible moment in universal history to achieve it.

I am like that with my writing as well. I chase my fads with a singlemindedness that leaves other routine or mundane considerations behind.

It’s not necessarily a great trait to have and I need to constantly remind myself (or have others do it for me) to give attention to the other important things in my life that aren’t the passion of the moment.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  There are a few big moments across a life such as I’ve had, but the memory that comes to mind is from about 15 years ago. At the time I was courting a lady considerably younger than myself and had all the doubts that you might expect an old-ster (as I saw myself) having.

The memory is of the lady in question – a talented singer/songwriter – turning up to one of our earliest get togethers bearing a cassette tape, on which she had taped herself playing and singing a song that she’d created from one of my poems.

That was a very big moment.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  I am a ‘pantser,’ in every respect.

Why plan, when you can write? Why trouble to create a story arc and plot, when the next thing you write is the next thing in the sequence?

Creatively delightful, but tricky as I’ve had to transmogrify myself from simple writer into author, editor, publisher and self-publicist.

Very tricky.

Can or could you write in a café with people around?  Yes I can.

The likelihood is that the people in the café will become the subjects that I write about.

In all seriousness, I find I can tune out most distractions when I have something to write, and on occasion, at least, the atmosphere in a busy café is positively stimulating.

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  I have indeed, and have even had the privilege of being published in another country (that being the USA) with a poem using that ‘voice.’

My family was originally from Croatia in what was then Yugoslavia. I grew up with the Croatian language all around me and for a period in my writing evolution I wrote in pidgin language that is half Australian English and half Croatian.

This may sound a little arty-odd, but when I’m writing I have made it my practice to allow the idea I’m pursuing or the image I am contemplating to find its own voice and tell its own story. My job is to steer it so that it remains coherent and meaningful for a reader. In the case of the Croatian voice, I had enough familiarity with the idiom and vernacular and with the way this particular migrant population was likely to think to be able to shape poems in a reasonably accurate representation.

Quite a task, and not always successful, but completely unique when it worked.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  For a favorite book, I draw on my ‘go to’ library here at home, which includes Tolkien, Le Guin, Robin Hobb, and Mathew Reilly, to name a few.

I’m currently re-reading a Mather Reilly book – Ice Station, but I’d probably have to nominate Tolkien and Lord of the Rings as my favorite because of the inspiration and pleasure they have given me over the journey.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  Paperback, for me. Hard cover is fine, too, but I really struggle with the electronic book forms. I think it may be because I sweat over the keyboard for as much as 12 hours a day, and the idea of reading for pleasure electronically just doesn’t feel right.

Do you think print books will always be around?  I’m a print book guy who is only now discovering electronic forms with any purpose, so I say yes.

If you ask me in a few years’ time, when I’m perhaps scratching a living out an e-book readership, I may give a different response.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  Yes. I do that now, when I need to, and reluctantly. I don’t own an e-reader.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else?  I have an Android device. The first I have owned and I fell in love with its picture taking capacities long before I began using it as a phone.

I have begun to make something of an art out of writing to the image and letting the image communicate its own story without too much control from myself. The Android device has been quite material in allowing me to develop a new capacity within my writing skillset.

How long could you go without checking your phone?  I check it frequently. Not for the phone, but for the email and the social media that I might be working with. Looking for responses to my latest posting of a poem on my blog.

I’ve become a bit of a junkie in that respect.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  I have listened to audio books when traveling. Usually something from The Great Course range of educational materials, rather than novels.

I am very interested in perhaps creating my own audio books in future and have done a number of amateur audio recordings and podcasts and radio interviews, all of which are accessible from my Author page on the web.

I enjoy reading to live audiences very much.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  The only reason I use Social media is to pursue connections regarding writing and publishing and promotion of my work. It is a critical element in the pursuit of free publicity and promotion of new works.

The tricky bit is how to make contact with an audience that isn’t myself in disguise i.e. another author, pursuing the same goals and objectives that I am (only maybe better and smarter than me).

What I enjoy most is contact with genuine readers who might be curious about what I’ve done, why and how and so on.

That, I enjoy very much.

Website and social media links:
Website: frankprem.com
Daily Poetry Blog: frankprem.wordpress.com
Facebook: FrankPrem11 and @frankprem2
Twitter: @frank_prem

Awards/special recognition:  No Awards for a number of years – I stopped seeking them a long time back. Book reviews at Goodreads are worth a look, though. Try these: Small Town Kid and Devil In The Wind.


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Who’s That Indie Author? Richard Doiron

Photo: Patricia Eaton

Author name: Richard Doiron

Genre: Poetry

Books: Let There Be Peace; In The Spirit Of Gibran; Ancestors Dance (222 Sonnets)

What’s your story and how did you become a writer? Mozart was born to music; I was born to write.

How do you balance your work with other demands? Retired now, but even when holding two full-time jobs simultaneously, I still wrote two hours daily.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life: When my daughter was born, eyes open, fully alert.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner? I see myself as a channel, so some things would not apply; once a project is started, however, it would be seen to completion.

Could you write in a café with people around? I have written in every imaginable situation; once in a very loud bar, music blaring, I wrote a poem that will always stand out. Silence is good also.

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it? I was taught in French, originally, and I have written some poems and song lyrics in French; not as easy nor as spontaneously, however.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now? I am not a reader of books, something that has always been a struggle for me and a puzzle for others. However, Kahlil Gibran I related to, and his The Prophet will always hold a special place in my being.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader? Because reading books has always been such a monumental task, I have no preferences in this regard. But what I have read has been hardcover.

Do you think print books will always be around? I do believe that print books will always have a special place in our world, though they may eventually be relegated to history; I would hope not. The thrill of holding your own book for the very first time is a feeling like few others.

Would you ever read a book on your phone? Frankly, I am very much inept technologically-speaking and using a cell phone to call in and receive calls is about as much as I can successfully do.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, android or something else? I don’t want to sound out of touch with modern-day realities, but my old computer is my link to the outer world. I cannot relate to any of those things mentioned.

How long could you go without checking your phone? I rarely use my phone, using it only for necessary tasks, the simpler the better.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening? I have never listened to an audiobook.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform? To be honest, I have never been much of a self-promoting salesman. That would be unfortunate, I believe. While sharing a website with a friend for over a decade, it would be fair to say that we have not promoted our books, or even the website, very effectively. Online 18 years, I have shared poems online daily through that time frame, obviously thousands at this time.

Website and social media links: spiritsinpeace.com

Awards/special recognition: World Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award (2012); Pentasi B World Friendship Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award (2017); nominated for World Poet Laureate 2019.


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