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

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.

What’s That Book? Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? by Bella Mahaya Carter

I’d like to welcome Kathleen Le Dain as a contributor to What’s That Book.

Hi Everyone! Today I’d like to welcome Marian Beaman, today’s contributor to What’s That Book. Thank you, Marian!

TitleWhere Do You Hang Your Hammock?

Author: Bella Mahaya Carter

Genre: non-fiction; advice for writers

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What’s it about?  Author, writing coach, and speaker Bella Mahaya Carter urges writers to settle back and let go in her latest book, Where Do You Hang Your Hammock?. Using the image of the hammock, a universal symbol of relaxation, the author invites writers to hold their work lightly and with joy as they go about the serious business of sending their work into the world.

Carter’s book is a toolkit with nuts and bolts, a how-to-write-and publish primer, but its narrative style frees it from sounding like a handbook. She pinpoints every reader’s quest: “They want light bulbs to flash in their minds as their eyes scan the page. They want their hearts pried open.” She understands that readers long to “see themselves in your tale as clearly as if they were looking into a mirror.”

The author’s prose dances on the page, an art form she’s practiced. On receiving early copies of her book, she exclaims: “It was as if my Cinderella manuscript, once dressed in rags, was ready for the ball!” Personal illustrations and quotes from experts kept me engaged. For example, wisdom from Martha Beck, Pablo Neruda, and James Pennebaker dot the pages.

For me, Chapter 37, Turn You Blog into a Book was worth the price of Bella’s book because it’s the focus of my next book, My Checkered Life: Heritage, Hassles, and Hilarity. Lines attributed to Tao Te Ching surfaced as I read this chapter: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

How did you hear about it?  Bella’s book was featured on the monthly broadcast sponsored by the National Association of Memoir Writers

Closing comments:  Carter writes with honesty and heart, lovingly showing writers how to develop essential skills, which includes using recent technology. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned writer, this book belongs on your shelf.

Contributor: Memoir writer Marian Beaman, former professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville, is the author of Mennonite Daughter, which records the charms and challenges of growing up plain in 1950s Lancaster County, PA. Her story has evolved from blog posts which she began publishing in 2013 at marianbeaman.com. Marian feeds her muse with nature walks and Pilates classes. She lives with her husband Cliff in Florida, where her grown children and grandchildren also reside.

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.

Who’s That Indie Author? Jane Elizabeth Hughes

Author Name: Jane Elizabeth Hughes         

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Book: The Long-Lost Jules (Spark Press, August 3, 2021)

Brief bio: I’m an obsessive reader with two fully-loaded Kindles and a collection of audiobooks for the car. Unfortunately, reading novels all day is not an easy career path, so I have a day job as a professor of international finance. A native New Yorker, I now live on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

What got you started as a writer? I always wanted to write novels. I wrote my first “book” when I was seven (Lorena Lorenson, Student Nurse – I guess the title tells you everything you need to know). Somehow I morphed into a banker and finance academic instead (to pay the bills, I guess), and I published business books including the forthcoming Greed Gone Good, but I never let go of this dream. Finally, I was able to take a sabbatical from the finance world a few years ago, and started writing fiction. I haven’t stopped since.

What difficult experience has helped you as a writer? I was that little short kid who read all the time. And I mean, all the time. At the dentist, during math class, at the dinner table, even at eye doctor appointments (which was problematic). I was always the last kid picked for teams at recess, but I didn’t care because I could curl up in a corner of the courtyard and read. That need to escape into books, I think, drove me into writing because there I can not only escape – but I can create my own world.

Have you ever participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? If so, how many times and what was your experience? No, but I think it’s a wonderful notion and would love to participate in the future.

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

  1. KEEP WRITING! You get better at it as you go along. My first and second novels never got published and, with the benefit of hindsight, didn’t deserve to get published. I didn’t have that clarity of hindsight at the time though, and it was just pure slog to keep going.
  2. DON’T BE ALONE! Have cheerleaders in your corner (my husband and sister were phenomenal), and don’t quit your day job.
  3. REMEMBER: This can take a long time, and a lot of rejections along the way.
  4. INVEST? Think about putting away a little money to invest in your writing career – writers conferences and publicists are your best friend. The latter is especially a biggie for me, since I’m super-uncomfortable promoting and marketing my books.
  5. ACCEPT THAT WRITING IS A JOB, NOT A HOBBY! Hobbies are fun and relaxing; writing a book is work.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during Covid? Not seeing my grandchildren!

What are you reading right now? I’m rereading one of the Stephanie Plum mysteries by Janet Evanovich, and Sheila O’Flanagan’s The Women Who Ran Away. I’m listening to a real nail-biter about climbers on Mount Everest in my car.

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

Have you ever climbed a tree to read a book? No, I was much too timid. Why climb a tree when I had that overstuffed armchair in the living room?

Have you ever dropped a book in the tub, in a pool or in the ocean? Oh, yes (along with my cellphone, keys, and wallet).

Could you live in a tiny house? I think so. I actually like small spaces quite a bit; they’re much cozier and more inviting than big, open spaces.

What are the small things that make you happy? Reading. Writing. Family — my long-suffering husband, my four children, my precious grandchildren. (We had eight of them in just seven years, so they’re a very exhausting joy.) Buttered popcorn and pecan pie with gobs of whipped cream on top. Dancing. Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, and Ariana Grande. Bookstores. Beaches. Babies.

Website and social media links:
Website: janehughesauthor.com
Facebook: janehughesnannyland
LinkedIn: Jane Elizabeth Hughes

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? Bill Moseley

Author Name: Bill Moseley

Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Adventure

Book: La Cuesta Encantada

Are you a full-time author? If not, what’s your side gig? I’m not a full-time author. My side gig is working in higher education. I’m the Dean of Academic Technology at Bakersfield College, a community college in California. I’m just getting more serious about writing, and it’s an important creative outlet for me.

Favorite author/books: I really love books, and my taste in reading is really varied. As a child, I loved The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Lately, I lean a little more toward Neil Gaiman and I really love the sort of whimsical adventure that he creates in The Graveyard Book. Toni Morrison’s work, especially the Song of Solomon, is really powerful. I admire how she gives readers a glimpse into another culture in such a visceral way.

What experiences or people have influenced your writing the most? I think my writing is a combination of a wild imagination, the places I’ve been, and a childhood obsession with Indiana Jones movies and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, with a side interest in romantic comedies. This book, in particular, takes place in some of my favorite locations – places where I played and visited as a child. I think of it as a story that’s been woven together in my imagination for much of my life.

Do you keep a writing journal and if so, how do you use it? I don’t. First, I’m not formally trained as a writer, so I’m guessing my approach is somewhat unconventional. Second, my work has been sort of project-oriented so far, and I spend a lot of time thinking about ideas and developing scenes in my head.

Do you belong to a writers’ group? If so, describe your experience: I don’t, but I’d love to. I think community is one of the best ways to develop any skill.

Are you up with the sun or do you burn the midnight oil? I used to burn the midnight oil.  With age, I’ve shifted the other direction. I’m up early these days, to walk with my wife before we start the day. If I’m honest, I feel like my best time for writing is in the afternoon – I think some days I get tired of the grind, and my brain is looking for a way to get creative by that time.

How do you get over a writing slump? I don’t think I’ve had a real slump. I often write when I have enough pent up creative energy that I am anxious to sit down and get some words on the page. I think in the few times when I just haven’t been feeling it (writing my dissertation comes to mind), the trick is to just write something. Even if it isn’t your best, there are times when the forward movement of just doing it is what matters. Anne Lamott’s notion of a shitty first draft applies here, I think.

Do you prefer writing dialogue or descriptive passages? Descriptive, I think. I’m a visual person, and I often “see” the things that I write long before they hit the page. They play out in my mind like a movie. I hope one day to be able to describe them the way I see them in my mind, but I’m not there yet.

What are you working on now? I’ve started outlining the sequel to La Cuesta Encantada, because there is some more story there that I want to tell. I have another story in my mind that I’ve been thinking about for a while, as well, but I’ve decided to hold on to that for now. As an academic, I usually have another non-fiction project or two in the works as well. I’m also working on a non-fiction book on the topic of failure, and how failure can be used as a tool for growth and development. Reclaiming Failure is something I hope to have published in early to mid-2021.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing and publishing a book? The world always needs more books. Stories are important to us as a society. Writing a book is hard, and the competition for the attention of agents and publishers is insane. However, if you want to write, and you enjoy writing, then you should do it. Honestly, I think that’s the best reason to do anything. Publishing – even self-publishing – is a nice way to celebrate the completion of your work, and to share your work with others. I think it’s probably natural to fantasize about dropping the next bestseller, but make sure you have the intrinsic motivation above all else.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which podcasts do you find the most interesting? I do listen to podcasts. The one writing-related podcast I listen to is called “Story Grid.” It’s an application of the book by the same title. This book and podcast were very helpful in guiding my thinking around how to put together an effective novel. I’m also a pretty regular listener of “Armchair Expert,” “The Tim Ferriss Show,” and “Up First.”

Favorite escape: Almost anything creative, from drawing and painting, to cooking, and even writing computer code (this is very creative, despite the reputation it has for being sort of stiff and mechanical). I also love to travel (pre-COVID) and get active with my family (we have seven kids, so there is always someone to do something with).

Have you ever tried Kombucha tea? Nope. Can’t get past the smell for some reason.

Do you prefer a couch with pillows or no pillows? I’ll say no pillows, mostly because my ideal couch is long and wide enough for me, a fairly large human, to easily take a nap on without limbs hanging off onto the floor. Pillows just take up space that I would rather use for myself.

Would you rather rake leaves, shovel snow or weed? Hard stop on weeding. I will avoid that at all costs. Being a California native, I’ve never shoveled snow, and I’m not sad about that.  There is a certain satisfaction in raking leaves on a nice fall afternoon. When I was young, my grandparents had a house with three very large mulberry trees in the front yard. I remember raking those leaves, and how satisfying it was to make them into neat piles that I could jump into. The earthy smell of leaves in the fall still takes me right back to that place.

Favorite mask – disposable paper, plain fabric, colorful print or something else? Plain black, but with straps that go around the back of my head. I must have an abnormally large head, because when I wear the kind with ear loops, my ears get pulled straight out to the sides.

Biggest writing challenge since COVID-19: In my day job, I’m in charge of distance education for a college of almost 40,000 students. As you can imagine, this has been a busy time. Fortunately for me, writing is something that I really want to be doing, so I find the time in between other things.

Website and social media links:
www.bmoseley.com – This is my personal site, and everything else links from there.  Thanks so much for this opportunity.  I’ve really enjoyed reading the other “Who’s that Indie Author?” entries.

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.