Who’s That Indie Author? Biff Mitchell

Author name:  Biff Mitchell

Genre:  Speculative Fiction

Books:  Fiction: Heavy Load (a laundromance), Team Player, The War Bug, Boston Jonson in Murder by Burger, Boston Jonson in Murder by Art, Boston Jonson in Murder by Coffee, The Reality Wars, The Weekly Man

Non-fiction: eMarketing Tools for Writers, Writing Hurts Like Hell: How to Write a Novel When You Don’t Have Time to Write a Short Story.

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  I’m a writer and a photographer. Writing is my obsession. Photography is my passion. If I don’t write, I go crazy, whether or not the writing is driving me crazy. This is why I call my writing workshop Writing Hurts Like Hell.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  I schedule my writing just as though it’s work that I have to do, or I’ll be fired. It means sitting in front of a laptop when my friends are all out partying and it means saying no to people who think that writing is just a hobby when you have a fulltime job doing something else.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  As a parent, I’d have to say the moment my daughter was born; as a writer I’d have to say the day my first novel was accepted for publication by Jacobyte Books in Australia.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  I start off with a story dump…a hardback notebook that I can carry everywhere. I jot down the idea and then, over a period of several months, I develop the idea until I’m ready to build a story board from the first to the last scene. Generally, about 40 or 50 pages in, the characters take over the story and the story board goes out the window. I do it anyway because the story board structures my writing so that, even when the characters take over, I have a good idea where the story is going.

Could you write in a café with people around?  Since my first novel, every one of my novels has been written in a coffee shop. There’s something about the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop that inspires me to get the work done.

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  Nope.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  My favorite book is In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan. It’s a hippie novel, so I’ll leave it at that.  I’m currently reading a Tim Dorsey novel on my Kindle and a Carl Hiaasen novel in print format. I read print books an hour or so before bed because the blue light from screens suppresses melatonin production and inhibits sleep.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  Paperback and eReader, with my Kindle being the preferred between the two. I like the portability of paperbacks and eReaders over hardcover books because I’m on the move a lot. However, if I want to read something and it’s available only in hardcover format, I’ll get the hardcover. No matter what the format, it’s the content that matters.

Do you think print books will always be around?  Dynamics such as quick access, production and distribution costs and availability of materials will eventually drive print books out of production, especially as new technologies take literature into new directions (such as books that allow reader participation in the story.) I’m not sure how this will eventually play but, but I’m guessing it will happen as books and video games are merged into a single medium.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  No, but I’m working on three short stories on my iPhone. I work on them when I’m sitting in waiting rooms or otherwise have a few spare moments.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else?  I use my iPhone for writing and photography…maybe not as much as I should, but I’m learning.

How long could you go without checking your phone?  I only pay attention to it when I need it or someone calls me. I call myself a lot and leave messages for ideas on my home phone. I never take my phone with me when I travel.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  Never. Well…once. I almost drove into a police car. When I get into a good story, it gets all my concentration.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  Starting September 8, I’m going to serialize a novel (The Weekly Man) as a daily coffee break novel for two and a half months. I’m well into a social media campaign to promote it. I just set up a Pinterest business account for it because I think this particular novel will attract more female readers than male. I’ve used Facebook in the past, but I’ve never been impressed with the results.

Website and social media links:
Website and photography: biffmitchell.com
Facebook writer’s page: @BiffMitchellWriter
Weekly Man blog: theweeklyman.com
Weekly Man Facebook page: The Weekly Man – a free serialized novel
Personal blog: biffmitchell.wordpress.com

Awards/special recognition:  New Brunswick Artist of the Week (NB Film Coop). I’ve had over a dozen short stories published in the award-winning Twisted Tails anthologies. Atlantic Canada Radio Awards (ACRA) first place award in PSA division.

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

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

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood


I hadn’t read The Handmaid’s Tale in over ten years so I was glad when my book club chose it for this month’s discussion. And it fits right in with the National Banned Books Week (September 23 -29). The Handmaid’s Tale has been challenged or banned many times since its publication in 1985. In Atwood’s dystopian story, the American government is overthrown and replaced by a theonomic military dictatorship in which fertile women are used solely to bear children and all other women are either assigned to a hierarchy that enforces this policy or sent to the Colonies to clean up toxic waste. The idea is to build up the country’s dwindling population, which has suffered due to nuclear explosions and other contamination. The men’s roles vary according to station and include Angels and Guardians, with Commanders at the top.

The story’s narrator is a handmaid, Offred, so named as belonging to her Commander. Handmaids are assigned to the Commanders and their presumably barren wives who participate every month in an orchestrated Ceremony in which the Commanders try to impregnate the handmaids. Although Offred is not at the bottom of the hierarchy, she is nonetheless trapped and by no means secure. If she doesn’t become pregnant, she could be sent to the Colonies.

As with all forms of oppression, ways to communicate, small freedoms, and an underground resistance give Offred hope, but their discovery is slow and unsure. A risky relationship with her Commander and even more dangerous connections with others could go either way as Offred tries to reconcile the life she lost with what may be possible. I enjoyed rereading The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s a look at what could go wrong and is a good exercise of thought. I recommend it to readers who like speculative fiction and to all readers who like seeing how characters fight back in both small and large ways.

The Handmaid’s Tale is also a popular television series. Streamed on Hulu, the show has won eight Emmy awards and a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama. Seasons 1 and 2 are available to watch and Season 3 is in the works. You can even see Atwood in a small cameo role.

You may also remember the 1990 movie, directed by Volker Schlondorff and starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway and Aidan Quinn. Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay.

I also read a great article about what influenced Atwood when she wrote The Handmaid’s Tale. Click here to read Atwood’s March 10, 2017 essay in The New York Times: “Margaret Atwood on What The Handmaid’s Tale Means in the Age of Trump.” Here are some highlights:

  • Atwood began writing in the book in 1984.
  • She was living in West Berlin at the time, before the fall of the Berlin Wall where she “experienced the wariness, the feeling of being spied on, the silences, the changes of subject, the oblique ways in which people might convey information, and these had an influence on what I was writing.”
  • She wasn’t sure she was up to the task of writing a dystopian, speculative fiction.

Atwood also answers three important questions about the book

  1. Is it a feminist novel? She says no, and yes. No because the women in her story are not all angels, and neither are they so victimized that they can’t make moral decisions. But she clarifies, “If you mean a novel in which women are human beings — with all the variety of character and behavior that implies — and are also interesting and important, and what happens to them is crucial to the theme, structure and plot of the book, then yes. In that sense, many books are ‘feminist.’”
  2. Is the book antireligion? No, it’s against using religion “as a front for tyranny.”
  3. Is the book a prediction? She calls it an “antiprediction” and explains that if this kind of future can be described, maybe it won’t happen.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Diana Tarant Schmidt


Author name:  Diana Tarant Schmidt

Genre:  Speculative Fiction

Book:  Remember For Me (Book 1 of the Remember series)

Bio:  I have been teaching junior high for sixteen years. Through all I have learned from my diverse student population, to being a mother of two incredible young children, I think often about life’s most important lessons. Writing became a way to best learn about those lessons.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Nothing compares to reading a review when someone found comfort in your words. Nothing.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  So many challenges…but, I simply wish I could get more people to read it. The fact that it has given strangers a sense of comfort makes me want to share more of it.

Favorite booksThe Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein; Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling; Rock Chick series by Kristen Ashley; whatever I read this morning.

Contact Information: Author info:  Open Books – Diana Tarant Schmidt
Facebook: @dianatarantschmidt

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

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

Thanks for visiting – come back soon