Marie Saint-Louis

Why do you write?: I write because the people I was meeting asked me to write a book. As a psychic medium, I meet people when they are often at their lowest. They are dealing with failed relationships, unfulfilling careers, pondering relocation, family members causing havoc in their lives, and others. Basically real life for all of us. I wanted to share with people that everyone is fighting their own personal battles.

Describe where you write.: Wherever I go, either to a party or an event, I pack a handful of pens and notebooks to record my experiences in a journal. Later, I head for my home office, and with my two cats to keep me company, I begin to write about my experiences that evening. I want to keep everything fresh in my mind.

Who or what is your muse?: My clients were my inspiration. They have constantly asked about me about my psychic readings and kept asking me when I was going to write a book about them. This was something I had never thought of. After much thought and encouragement from my brother, my book was born.

Three wishes . . .: Good health. A productive second half to my life filled with positively touching other people’s lives. To meet all my readers in person.

Favorite childhood book, and why?: Clifford The Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell As an animal lover, I always loved the fact Clifford was the runt of the litter but grew up to be this enormous dog that everyone loves. Clifford is a friendly and outgoing dog but he also got into a little bit of trouble. I have been known to not always follow the rules, so I am bit like Clifford.

Explain when is your ideal time to write.: I mainly write in the evening, after my appointments with clients. I usually stay up until 3am, even though I’m not really a night person. I live in Arizona, and love nothing more that opening the windows and hearing the coyotes howl!

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.: I have a lot of favorite books but the one which brings me good memories is The Pact: Three Young Men Make A Promise and Fulfill a Dream: by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt At the time, I had a classroom of over 40 high school students who hated to read and couldn’t read well. I only had one copy so we passed the book around and everyone read a sentence or paragraph. If anyone laughed because a student couldn’t read I’d kick them out of class. Never had one student leave the room.

E-book or print? Why?: Both. I’ve been asking readers which they prefer and it’s a tie

Favorite magazine, and why?: Just one? I love magazines and will read about anything that catches my eye. They are a quick read. I’m the person at the supermarket with milk, eggs, and cheese in my basket while I’m reading an article in aisle seven.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?: “We all have uncertainties about our life direction and purpose.” I’ve have the pleasure to meet and guide people from all walks of life; college students, teachers, accountants, police officers, surgeons and even adult film stars. All of my stories make for a more interesting experience for my readers. Throughout the book, readers will witness people coming to me when they are searching for direction and needing hope. We all have been there before; when our relationships are breaking apart, we are unfulfilled in our careers, family members causing havoc, and wondering if relocation will give us new opportunities and a new lease on life. There are many people having a similar struggle within their own lives. It may not be the exact situation, but they are hurting as much as you or even more . “Value your time with loved ones and make peace with them if you need to.”What I hear from clients is that they wished they had spent more time with loved ones before they passed. I love the part in the book where I read at a festival for a young man from Detroit, Michigan. Dion was unsure about having his first psychic medium reading but once he sat down, I read for him for over an hour. I still remember when I connected Dion to his deceased brother Bernard. At one point during the session, Dion looked at me and said. “Damn, the last time I saw my brother we fought over something real stupid. I wish I could take it all back because weeks later Bernard was murdered.”

Marie Saint-Louis

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Leeway

Intrigued by a college student studying English and American Studies who has recently written her first novel, I knew I wanted to read Colleen Caitin’s Leeway.

leeway

The story revolves around Captain Lian, a pirate with dreamy green eyes, and Princess Mila, the youngest and often ignored daughter of King Aaron IV of Platgo.  When the two meet by chance, both learn appearances and preconceived notions are not always what they seem to be.

Told from the alternating point of views of the two protagonists, initially the novel has a slow, nearly repetitive start with both Mila and Lian’s telling, but quickly picks up momentum and complexity as the pages are turned with elements of the deep sea supernatural and the unfolding of less than ideal childhoods.  In fact, the end of this breakthrough fiction leaves me wanting to read more.

As always, the English teacher within longs for a more thorough editing throughout of this work.  Quotation mark errors and wrong word errors such as “Her eyelids flatter. . .” (7) which should read “flutter” and “. . . now wears a red west instead of a black one” (62) which should read “vest” do make my skin crawl.  In addition, “overboard” is one word, not two.

Nevertheless, an ambitious piece of literature for an aspiring young author, and one whose body of work, I hope, continues to grow.

If you would like to read more about author Colleen Caitin, read through her  author interview here.

Devon Trevarrow Flaherty

Why do you write?: Because I love to! It’s also my job, but it’s nice that those two things can go hand-in-hand. It’s also the way I communicate best.

Describe where you write.
: On the couch, on the futon, at a desk, at a table, in a coffee shop, at the library, in the car…

Who or what is your muse?
: I have never been asked that and I have never thought much about it. Life inspires me, in every corner and around each surprising turn.

Three wishes . . .
: 1. To make enough money this year to keep being able to write full time. 2. To be able to travel more. 3. To have a good, long writing career.

Favorite childhood book, and why?: “Anne of Green Gables,” because it’s awesome.

Explain when is your ideal time to write.: When my kids are at school. Otherwise, it would be all day every day.

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.: I re-read Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter just about every year.

E-book or print? Why?
: Print! I’m a touch and smell person, so there’s just no substitute for me.

Favorite magazine, and why?: Food Network Magazine. Then maybe Poets & Writers. I am a total die-hard foodie.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
: Thoughtfulness. Introspection. Inspiration. Freedom.

Devon Trevarrow Flaherty

Five Minute Friday: Share

Share.  Participating in Kaitlyn Bouchillon’s #fmfsnailmail, I have been able to meet some incredibly strong women.  Some of these women have had to endure some hardship in one way or another, but have grown in their faith because of it.

In my inbox, I found an author who answered Ten Questions via my blog.  This same author, Jennifer Cook, just so happens to be on my current #fmfsnailmail buddy list.

So, what better time than now to share her Author Interview so that you may, too, have the pleasure of making her acquaintance.  Share.

Jennifer Cook

Why do you write?: I write because it is fun and God whispers little stories to share...or prompts.
I write because it makes me feel free.
I enjoy writing about our family, motherhood, faith, and seeing my own stories evolve.

Describe where you write.: in our home office at a PC

Who or what is your muse?: our family

Three wishes . . .: To visit Italy, To cruise to Alaska, and to live happy long life

Favorite childhood book, and why?: The Secret Garden, It took me to a place of friendship and beauty I dreamed possible

Explain when is your ideal time to write.: early a.m. -- pre dawn

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.: Bible, always new nuggets and so long and complicated I can never master its full Truth

E-book or print? Why?: print, I like to hold books...although my own writings and yours are E-books...so I guess I enjoy both

Favorite magazine, and why?: Southern Living, dream homes and recipes that will never truly be mine but seem awesome

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?: encouragement and joy

Jennifer Cook

Randy Susan Meyers

merylmmoss

Accidents of Marriage – Q&A

1. Can you tell us a bit about the book and the relationship between the characters?

Accidents of Marriage asks what is the toll of emotional abuse on a family. It’s an account of life inside a marriage that seems fine to the outside world, an account of emotional abuse, traumatic injury, and how a seeming accident is really the culmination of years of ignored trouble. It’s the story of an unexpected gift of clarity making the difference between living in hell and salvation.

For Madeline Illica, the love of her husband Ben is her greatest blessing and biggest curse. Brilliant, handsome and charming, Ben could turn into a raging bull when crossed—and despite her training as a social worker Maddy was never sure what would cross him. She kept a fragile peace by vacillating between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their three children, until a rainy drive to work when Ben’s temper gets the best of him, and the consequences leave Maddy in the hospital, fighting for her life.

Accidents of Marriage, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Emma, takes us up close into the relationships between all family members. The children, lost in the shuffle, grasp for sources of comfort, including the (to them) mysterious traditions of their Jewish and Catholic grandparents. Emma and her grandparents provide the only stability for the younger children when their mother is in the hospital. Ben alternates between guilt and glimmers of his need to change, and Maddy is simply trying to live. Accidents of Marriage reveals the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.

2. How many different titles did you experiment with before deciding on Accidents of Marriage?

My first working title was A Thousand Suppers (which comes from a line in the book, but ultimately made no sense out of context.) The title I used when I presented it to my editor was simply Maddy & Ben. After many long sessions with poetry books, anagrams of words, and other methods that I use, I came up with Accidents of Marriage.

3. How has working with batterers and victims of domestic violence influenced your writings?

Working with batterers taught me far more than I can put in a paragraph, but here is my version of the most important take-away: Never underestimate the hatred some men have of women. Never think that people (other than the truly damaged) ‘snap’. If they chose to find it, people can access at least a sliver of decision-making. We have agency. We do not choose to hit and scream at our bosses. We choose to hit and scream at people in our homes. The hierarchy of power always comes into play.

Women (and men) do not choose abusive people as their loves—they pick the charming folks they meet in the beginning of a relationship. There might be signs to look out for, but abusers keep those traits in check until the relationship has solidified, when breaking up is more difficult.

There is not a black and white line between being abusive and not being abusive. There is a continuum of behavior, and most of us fall on the wrong side of the best behavior at some point—whether is be yelling, silent treatment, or some other hurtful conduct. Learning that this can be controlled is a job for everyone.

Batterers can change; we can all change our behaviors, but most often we choose not to do the difficult work that change requires. This is something I hope I bring to my writing.

4. Can you discuss the role of Maddy and Ben’s daughter in the book?

Emma is an average teenager who is thrown into very un-average circumstances. She becomes the stand-in mother, a role she takes on without credit or even being noticed. She is also the keeper of secrets, an impossible position for her to take on. In every stage of her family’s trauma, she is the silent absorber, who ultimately will break or find strength.

5. How did you portray someone with a traumatic brain injury so well?

I did an enormous amount of study. Luckily I find medical research fascinating. My shelves are crammed with memoirs of those with TBI and caretakers of those with TBI, workbooks for those with TBI, and medical texts—as well as spending time on line reading medical information for those in the field and information for those affected by brain injury. I had someone in the field read the novel and am also lucky enough to have a doctor in my writer’s group.

6. Did you have any say in choosing the cover for the book?

Yes! The final cover was the fourth one presented. It was tough finding the right ‘mood’ for the cover, but I was very pleased with the final version. Of course, most authors (including me) would love to actually design the cover, but my guess is our final products would not be the graphic success we imagine.

7. What made you choose a car crash as the tragic turning point between Ben and Maddy?

Abusive and bullying behavior very often plays out in driving. Road rage is a real problem on our motorways and seemed the logical vehicle for demonstrating how Ben’s bad choices result in devastating consequences.

8. Parts of this story make the reader begin to empathize with Ben. Why did you choose to do this?

I don’t believe books that present characters as all good or all bad can adequately capture life’s totality or experiences. It’s important for me to tap into how we are all the stars of our own show and how we often convince ourselves why it is ‘okay’ to act in awful ways. Ben is not all bad, despite doing awful and bad things. The question I explore about Ben (among others) is can he change? Is he, are we, capable of change, and if so, how does will and can that change manifest?

9. Is Maddy modeled after anyone that you know?

Maddy is modeled after about a thousand people I know—including myself and my friends and family. Most of us have some Maddy in us, at least at some point. We close our eyes to the worst, or we use drugs or alcohol or food or something else to tamp down our feelings. We live in a maelstrom of problems and pretend it’s all okay. We deny and lie to ourselves. Until we can’t anymore.

10. What do you hope readers will take away from reading Accidents of Marriage?

Abusive behavior is wrong, whether it is physical, emotional, verbal or any other type of hurtful behavior. It overwhelms a family. Raising children with verbal and emotional violence is harmful and the ramifications last forever.

Most important, we can control our behavior.

But, most of all, I hope readers take a page-turning story from my book. I don’t write to lecture; I write to tell the stories that mesmerize me, and thus, I hope, fascinate others.