Saturday, July 28, 2012

Interview with Alice Osborn

Originally from Washington, D.C., and born there in "the winter after Watergate to a French mother and a civil servant father," Alice Osborn grew up in South Carolina before she migrated at bit farther west and north.  Her past educational and work experience is unusually varied, and it now feeds her work as a freelance writer and as an editor, mentor and marketing consultant for writers.  She teaches classes and writing workshops to aspiring authors of nearly all ages ("9 to 90"), both in person and online. For more details on her workshops, visit  

AFTER THE STEAMING STOPS is her most recent collection of poetry; previous collections are Right Lane Ends, and Unfinished Projects. The latter prompted these remarks from author Homer Hickam: "I love Alice's poetry.  She gives me thoughts I've never thought, and dreams I've never dreamed.  She uses words like a master potter—molding the clay of the mind into vessels that hold not things, but life, place, and time."  AFTER THE STEAMING STOPS seems a book more of broken dreams than of new or unexpected ones.  There is no sentimentality in the face of death, departures, endings: "Loss reminds you about change, / and what you are willing to throw away." The funeral of a princess becomes backdrop for a more intimate loss,
and tears betray determination more than grief: "... I cry for another death coming. / It's time for me to move out of his place, / tell him what he's afraid to say, / and take his fat cat and a few towels in the parting."  

Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?              

Alice: I’ve always wanted to be an author and always felt this sense that I was different from my peers—I didn’t take writing in college, but always had excelled in English and writing in high school, because I had been programmed by my parents that taking liberal studies/humanities is not something you do to get a job. Turned out that my Finance degree didn’t get me a job, either! After working for years at Belk first in advertising, then in store management and lastly as a buyer, I left after my son was born and did what I needed to do to become a professional writer. I got my graduate degree in Rhetoric/Composition from NC State, took more classes, read, become a mentee to many writing teachers, facilitated writing workshops for other writers, and then in 2006 started Write from the Inside Out. Incidentally, 2006 was also the year I published my first book, Right Lane Ends.

Deirdra:  What makes you passionate about writing?

Alice:  I love unleashing my quirky voice and sense of humor out into the world as well as taking creative risks with my work. I know it in my body when I take a risk when I write about things that are inappropriate or kind of weird—I feel right that I was willing to take that chance and stretch my writing without an audience or anyone looking over my shoulder. And the payoff is wonderful when someone reads my work and gets me—this reaction just fuels the passion and makes me know that I’m doing what I was meant to do.

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Alice: I self-published my first book of poems, Right Lane Ends, with Catawba Publishing Company in 2006. I wrote all of the poems in Right Lane Ends over the course of just four months from April to August 2006. Talk about a real burst of creativity! My poems emerged from auditing a summer poetry class at NC State and taking a one-week intensive women’s poetry workshop. After I wrote these twenty or so poems, I had them edited and reviewed by my wonderful weekly poetry group. Then I consulted with my boss at the time who was a self-published author herself, and she gave me the confidence to call up Catawba and work up the contract. At the time I had also scheduled my book’s book launch for October 13th at our favorite local coffee shop so I knew that I had to get order my books by Labor Day so I could get my books delivered a few days before the launch—and it happened!

Deirdra:  Where do your ideas come from?  How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

Alice: I get ideas from anywhere and I know the idea is good enough when I feel my arms tingle. Have your arms ever tingled when you’ve felt a good idea? For example, I got the title of my book, After the Steaming Stops from an Aunt Jemima waffle box—if you check out the instructions on the back you’ll see some of the boxes say, “Bake until the steaming stops” after you’ve poured the batter into a hot waffle iron.  I love to make waffles on Sunday mornings and came across this phrase—and thought, “how intriguing.” I changed it to “After the Steaming Stops,” to reveal what happens after the anger and after the love is gone. Many of my poems use domestic imagery and I also wanted the title to have an element of danger—which is steaming. Steam will burn you and it can also melt your love. Love is represented by the frozen popsicle heart that’s being lowered via ladle into the pressure cooker. In this case steam, one of the three states of water, is a metaphor for love in my book. Some love is solid (you know it’s unconditional), some liquid (it flows all around you and you know it’s there), some is steam (it’s in the vapors and you don’t know if it really even exists).

Deirdra:  Can you tell us a little about your book, After the Steaming Stops.

Alice: All of my poems in my book are stories, or narrative poems, about love’s flare-ups and endings. They are mostly true stories of what happened to me as a three-, eight -or ten-year old and how inappropriate my parents acted with me. As a kid, I remembered these incidents, locked them into my head so one day I could write about them. All of the quotations from my folks are real. Some poems weigh more on the father than the mother to give them equal time and I’m sympathetic with both. I also love to write about death! I also have two historical poems about a near death and a death and how they affected me. My poem “Early” is about a train engineer who kills someone on the tracks just because he was doing his job. I got the idea from that poem by reading the paper. The article said that over the course of a train operator’s career, they will kill three people on average.

Deirdra:  What’s your secret to making the characters in your books come to life?

Alice: My endings! I like to give readers an unexpected punch in the final line. I use stories and images that will stay in your brain for years (so sorry about that!) and many of my poems include my dry sense of humor, too. My poetry is very accessible and easy to understand BUT the more you read my poetry, you’ll discover more layers and more intrigue! I feel the emotion and sometimes see the image I want to end on, but have to enter the writing process in order to find the right words. I investigate where the emotional hot points are in the poem and either make a statement or find the right image that captures the essence of that poem. I also work very hard to make sure that the poem has earned its ending and everything that I’ve already written has climbed that mountain to the end.

Deirdra:  Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

Author:  I love to sing and have started voice lessons. I’ve even sung at several of my poetry reading events! I run, hike and organize a monthly book club so that I keep up with my reading even if I’m very busy. I love networking and connecting good people with each other.

Deirdra:  What are you working on now?

Author: I’m working on a full length collection of poems and have about 10 written so far. The theme is pop culture, historical figures and celebrities—sort of like a Jeopardy! Board. Predator, Kathy Griffin, the Devil, Hamburger Helper, Captain Bligh, and the Road Runner will all be making cameos.

Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

Alice: It’s all about making an appointment with yourself on the calendar and giving your own work top priority. I choose certain days of the week to get my own work done and this further trains my brain to get into the creative spirit. I’ve also found that contests, publication deadlines and open mics help me get motivated to produce new work and they can help you! Even when I was on maternity leave four years ago I wrote every day and used my online and offline poetry groups to keep me accountable. My advice is to write down your deadlines in your daily planner or on your smart phone. Also you need to write down your writing goals and be specific. How many markets do you want to submit to in a month? When you do you want your first draft of your book ready? Writing your goals down will make them real and measurable and will fuel your desire. You can also give yourself a reward when you do reach your goal—my reward is hanging out on Pinterest or Facebook.

There are consequences when you’re an artist not practicing your craft: if you aren’t consistent with your work and procrastinate by being too busy, you’ll lose your creativity and it’ll be so much harder to get back into the game. I write in some shape or form every day. It may not be a poem, but it’s certainly rewrites for a client, a blog post, an article, an essay, or a proposal. Professional writers write and keep producing no matter if they feel sick or if they know they’re work is crap or if they are too busy. They just do it.

Deirdra: Where can readers go to find your books and order them?

Author: That’s easy! Go to and you can order After the Steaming Stops right from my home page. You can also order my book through Amazon. I’ll personally sign your copy and give you a custom-made bookmark.

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Author: If you want to be a writer love books and read everything in sight! Join a book club so you can see how the masters craft sentences you will one day craft. Take writing classes either online or in person. Go to Open Mics, conferences and writers’ guilds in your area so you can meet other writers. Most importantly, you need to connect with other writers and join a writing group—you’ll need these folks as you ascend in your career and to keep you accountable.

Thank you so much. It’s a real honor to get your insights.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Interview with Jennifer Young

Jen’s bio:
Jennifer enjoys writing quirky and humorous stories for children. She has a BS in Sociology. She was born and raised in Southern Connecticut, and now resides in South Jersey with her husband and three children. Jennifer’s picture book Poison Apple Pie now available through MeeGenius Children’s Books and her picture book A Cherry Tomato on Top will be available before the fall of 2013 through Willow Moon Publishing. She is a member of SCWBI. Her blog: Jennifer Young –Castles in the Sky: Twitter:!/ItsJennyYoung

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Jennifer: I made a few mistakes along the way. I was eager to send out my not-so-ready manuscripts before having them truly edited.  My second mistake was not joining a critique group right away which made way for a bumpy pathway.  In 2008, I joined the CBI clubhouse and was able to start my own critique group. During the fall of 2011, I signed my very first picture book contract for A Cherry Tomato on Top with Willow Moon Publishing. Then, six months later on March 23rd 2012 my first children’s book Poison Apple Pie was published.

Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Jennifer: Yes! I’m always feeling discouraged about my writing. I still don’t know as much as I like to know about getting my stories published, therefore I do a lot of research. Most recently I joined a wonderful and supportive writing challenge hosted by Julie Hedlund. It’s called 12 x 12 in 2012 where you have to write one picture book draft a month for an entire year.

Deirdra:  Where do your ideas come from?  How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

Jennifer: Just about everywhere, but most of my ideas come from everyday tasks with my three kids.  I know the idea is good enough when I’m trying to write my first draft and I have a hard time putting my pen down. Also, it helps when my husband likes my idea from the get go.

Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?

Jennifer: I typically jot down notes whenever I’m waiting for anything. Then, when I have free time I’ll lay them out to write my first draft. Then, I edit, edit, edit.  After that I send it to be critiqued.

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?

Jennifer: I like it quite when I’m thinking about an idea but when I write it out it doesn’t matter what I’m listening to.

Deirdra:  What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Jennifer:  Is coffee a snack? If so, I like mine with two creams and one sugar.

Deirdra:  Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

Jennifer: I love to draw and I’m a want-to-be painter.

Deirdra:  What is the most difficult thing about being an author?
Jennifer: Since I’m still a newbie published author, for me it was calling myself an author and then believing it.

Deirdra:  What is the best thing about being an author?
Jennifer: I’m going to say my favorite part was having my book illustrated. I was so excited to see how the artwork made the story come alive. Also, I loved my first school visit. The students were so enthusiastic and welcoming with all their questions. 

Deirdra: Where can readers go to find your books and order them?

Jennifer:  Poison Apple Pie is available through For the direct link and free preview visit:

Thank you so much. It’s a real honor to get your insights.

You’re welcome and thank you for inviting me on your lovely blog, Deirdra!

Poison Apple Pie excerpt-

  Winka’s wand starts cracking and ruins all her spells. She decides to quit her job as a witch and try out other jobs in fairy tale land that might be more fitting.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Interview with Margaret Golla and E-book Giveaway!

In celebration of the release of FOR WHOM THE BELL TROLLS, Book Three of the Goblin’s Apprentice series, on July 24, 2012, Book One, TO GNOME ME IS TO LOVE ME, will be a FREE download on July 20/21, and Book Two, THE FAST AND THE FAERIEOUS, will be a FREE download on July 22-23. 


Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

M. A. Golla: I’d love to say that I was born with a pencil in my hand, but that would be lying. Over the years, I dabbled in writing. I wrote an article for my local Girl Scout paper when I was nine, but that was about it for a couple of decades. It wasn’t until I took a novel writing class in my late 20’s when realized I wanted to write, but that teacher manage to scar me for about another fifteen years. The reality is that other things in my life took priority over writing--my horse(s) were a big part of my life for years as I rode, trained and showed my horse in English Hunter show divisions, eventually I stopped showing and concentrated on developing my last horse as a three day event horse.

My real interest in writing peaked after my daughter was born and I went to work part-time. I had more time on my hands and, after I sorted a billion recipes, I needed something to do with my time. It had been over twenty years since I had to use the English language, and the learning curve was STEEP!

Deirdra:  What is your writing and educational background?

M. A. Golla: I have a BS degree in Medical Technology, along with a slew of letters after my name and title that don’t mean a darn thing any longer. I worked for 23 years in a large hospital laboratory, exclusively using my left brain and allowing my right brain to wither way into dust, which probably explains my learning curve when I started writing.

My writing background was simply learning how to do it the hard way. Luckily, I joined a local romance writing group and they took me under their wings prior to ripping the Band-Aid off my ego and allowing me to bleed all over the pages of my manuscripts. The person, who stated that you have to write a million words of crap, was right. I think I’m finally over the million words of crap, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t write crap, I do. I just recognize it as such and fix it.

Deirdra:  Can you tell us a little about your book, TO GNOME ME IS TO LOVE ME.

M. A. Golla: The fourth manuscript that I wrote was called, THE LEPRECHAUN CONNECTION. It was a fantasy novel that came close to being published by Bell Bridge Books. Deb Dixon loved it, but it needed work and it wasn’t quite right for their imprint. She was so encouraging in her rejection, but I had reached a crossroads. I knew I wasn’t really a romance writer. Oh, I love reading romance, but my stories were heavier on the plot instead of the internal conflict of the story.

I took a little mental break from writing, and during this time, my daughter and I came up with some picture book stories that I wrote about a naughty little fly named Peter. I never tried to get these stories published (she still hasn’t forgiven me!), but it opened my mind to pursue the types of stories that I like to write--middle grade. I love the age group, the plots, the fun, and everything about these stories.
But what type of character should I write about? This was when I realized I could write the main character from LEPRECHAUN as her younger self when she first discovered the Mythicals who live in our world. Two name changes and one story later (rewritten a gazillion times), we have Kyte Webber, age 11, in TO GNOME ME IS TO LOVE ME.

Yes, my friends, the entire series of The Goblin’s Apprentice books is really backstory!

Deirdra:  Are you planning on self-publishing, finding and agent, going with a small press or other? And why?

M. A. Golla: I tried to find an agent/publisher for the Goblin’s Apprentice stories/short stories, but no one was interested at the time. About a year later, one of my friends self-published her romance with great success, so I decided to electronically publish these middle grade stories. I knew I was ahead of the curve as very few kids had their own e-readers and parents are loath to share.

As soon as school starts, and my daughter is out of my hair, I plan to convert these stories to be available in print.

Deirdra:  What do you hope readers will get from your books? 

M. A. Golla:  Fun escapism.

Look, I read to escape the real world. I want to live vicariously through the characters in a story, whether it’s living in medieval times, Steampunk or dancing with faeries. I want to experience excitement, adventure, danger, mystery, and all that jazz when I read. If I learn something new, then that’s a bonus. This is what I enjoy reading and this is what I enjoy writing.

Deirdra:  What are your goals as an author for the next three years?
M. A. Golla: Oh, boy, I have a lot on my plate. So many ideas and so little time. For the short term, TROLL will be my last middle grade story until I get a few other projects off my desk. I’m already developing the storyline for Book Four, with a tentative title, OF DRAGON’S BLOOD AND TEARS. I’ll keep jotting ideas and notes down as they come to me.

I’m writing a non-fiction story about my weight loss journey (I’ve lost almost 50 pounds! Wowzers!). I’ve been blogging about it on my Weighty Wednesday blogs. I’ll tell it like it is, so if you want sugar coating then you need to dig into the stash of M&M’s that you’ve hidden from your family. You know what I mean  . . .  those M&M’s that are sitting in your unused crockpot. Yeah, those M&M’s.

And I have a rough outline and a few pages written of a four books series, featuring elementals. The characters are tougher and once I start them, I need to concentrate on their personalities.  

Deirdra:  What is the best complement you could receive from a reader?

M. A. Golla: All of them. My MIL read one of my Kyte Webber short stories (Lost Leprechaun Loot) to a group of underprivileged children at her church. The little girl drew a picture of Kyte for me. I have a folder on my computer that I call Warm & Fuzzy with all the emails that I’ve received. Some of my Amazon reviews have been funny, mainly those who are from adults out of my target age range (8-12 years) and they are surprised that they enjoyed the book.

Just because a book is written for a particular age group of readers, it doesn’t mean people of different ages might not enjoy it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Interview with The River

1. Deirdra: What genres do you write?
   River:  I do a little bit of everything although I am a poet at heart. I have published poetry, essay, articles, and creative nonfiction.

2. Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
    River:  The act of creating a flow of words and forming a thought. Writing drives me. I become consumed with expressing an emotion or thought. I write poetry while I drive in my mind and forget to eat lunch while I perfect sentences or stanzas to my satisfaction.

3. Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
   River:  A trying endeavor that led me to self-publish. I have a tendency to begin things the hardest way but everything is easier after. I dipped my toes into the publishing world with a creative nonfiction under my arm searching for an agent and came up dry. Then I ran into a publisher that wanted to change the whole premise behind my book. That wasn’t going to work. I decided to self-publish and then find a publisher to carry the book. Hopefully going backwards works for me.
The nonfiction led me to find self-publishing but did not end up my first published book. I chose to first publish another project close to my heart.

4. Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your books, Women’s Obsession with Shoes and Stumbled & Standing?
   River: Stumbled & Standing:  from Diagnosis to Acceptance- A Woman’s Journey with Multiple Sclerosis
is a book of poetry and essay. A woman on a journey of acceptance and love determined to keep moving forward. Stumbled & Standing is a story for everyone that has stumbled.               

Women’s Obsession with Shoes: Real Stories Straight from the Sole
is a collection of twenty-one stories encompassing women, their lives, and shoes. The stories range from a lost pair of moccasins at a Pow Wow to a six-foot woman making a claim on a man’s chest in stiletto boots. Every story is told in the woman’s voice as if you were sitting next to her while she told the story. Some of them will spark memories while others will be entertaining in their own way.

5. Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
   River: I hope readers walk away from Stumbled & Standing inspired to keep moving forward through all obstacles they encounter along their way. That people with MS feel they are not alone and their loved ones learn a little more about life with Multiple Sclerosis.
I hope the readers of Women’s Obsession with Shoes primarily are entertained by the stories and quotes. It would be great if a story sparked a memory or the introduction provoked analytical thought.

6. Deirdra: Where can readers go to find your books and order them?
     River: Both of my books are on Amazon or you can find more information on my author website, Writings by River.

In addition, requesting a book(s) at your local bookstore is greatly appreciated.

7.  Deirdra: What are you working on now?
     River: I am continuously writing poetry. My poems can be found at A Pocket of Agates.
I am the Senior Editor of the art and literary journal, The River.
In addition, I am in the process of compiling a collection of poetry and writing a children’s chapter book. I have plans for a novel down the road.
Thank you for having me.

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