Q&A with Diane Pomeranz, Lost in the Reflecting Pool

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Lost in the Reflecting Pool is a memoir about my marriage to a man who was interesting, brilliant, charming and a narcissist. It is the story of surviving in an emotionally abusive marriage while going through treatment for an aggressive cancer and finally breaking free and growing from the experience. A major theme in my book is how we neglect to pay attention to the things we do see, the clues, our own internal “watchdog,” which can guide us if we would only trust ourselves.


Why publish a memoir now? What inspired you to do so?

Process … from the very beginning it has been a process. I started keeping a journal in 1997 when I began psychoanalysis. I was married, we had struggled with infertility problems, finally had created a family through adoption and a successful IVF pregnancy, moved into a wonderful house and I was depressed. A year after starting analysis I was diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer. Initially I thought I would write about that journey. Little did I know that cancer would seem like an insignificant problem compared to the mind-devastating, gas-lighting betrayals and mind-tricks I was to experience within my marriage as I fought for my life medically. Little did I realize this had actually been going on for years, subtly … this had been my depression.

So, the focus of my writing changed …. it became cathartic; it was the raw expression of the pain and anguish that was my life. Finally, when I separated, I continued to write but with two children to raise and working full-time, whenever I returned to write, I found myself re-writing chapter seven over and over again … this went on for years. Once my children were in college, my writing became more focused, and with increased understanding came increased distance from the pain. The narrative of my life began to unfold, and then that, too, began to change. What’s been most fascinating has been the discoveries I’ve realized since my memoir was completed and published. The process of understanding and healing did not end when the writing was done. As a psychologist, I’m not new to psychotherapy … I have had a lot of it over the years, and since I have finished writing my memoir I feel more grounded than I have ever felt before. I discovered that having written my memoir continues to heal me in ways that astound me. I felt my story was an important story for many woman who all too often do not trust what they know in their gut to be true. That was why I wrote this book.

When did you suspect, for the first time, that Charles was a narcissist?

Probably not until the very end of the relationship … despite being a psychologist, when one is in the midst of a relationship one isn’t really thinking in “diagnostic” terms … at least I wasn’t … I thought of him as “sadistic” and ”crazy-making” but I really didn’t think in diagnostic terms until much, much later.

Your story explores heavy themes, such as dealing with psychological and emotional abuse. Why did you find this important to do?

The insidious damage caused by psychological/emotional abuse in relationships to all family members is profound despite there being no physical bruises or injuries … the trauma is significant and has lifelong impact on an individual’s ability to function. I felt it was essential to bring attention to this, to bring attention to the possibility for healing and to validate the experience of the emotionally abused.

What has the feedback to your book been like, so far? Have you heard from any readers who experienced something similar in their lives?

The feedback has been very positive. My book has received a number of awards and my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are very strong. I have been contacted by many readers who have found the book to be very validating and helpful to them in their own healing journey.

Even though you had a lot of bad experiences in your marriage, you started out describing many of the happy moments. Why did you take this approach?

There were several reasons. First, no relationship is all bad and had the relationship started out with nothing good, I really would have been crazy to continue in it so the back story was important. Initially I didn’t include that but it didn’t make sense so I revised it. Also, in order to understand the narcissist, it is important to understand that they can be charming and engaging, so it was very important to show the flowers and the good-times in contrast to the sadism and gas-lighting and empty-shell behaviors.

In your memoir, you reveal very personal aspects from your life. Did you find this hard to do?

Definitely, which is why it took me so many years to write the book. I struggled with whether to write it as an autobiographical novel, whether to use a pseudonym, I changed things that I ultimately brought back to fact in the final memoir form … but it was a struggle. In the end, I decided that I wanted to take complete ownership for my story, it was an important part of my healing process.

Tell us more about the title of the book. Why did you name it "Lost in the Reflecting Pool"?

As with everything about writing my memoir coming up with the title was also a process. There’ve been many titles, mostly in the last few years of writing … I started writing my memoir about nineteen years ago, But the title that lasted the longest and was most meaningful, before the final title was Scheherazade’s Cancer. According to the tale of The One Thousand and One Nights, many years ago, the king of ancient Persia discovered that his wife had betrayed him. His distress and wrath was great and, he had his wife beheaded. He then vowed to marry a young virgin every day and ordered her beheaded after the wedding night! Finally, he had married and killed all the young women in the kingdom until his vizier’s daughter, Scheherazade, asked her father if she could marry the king. Her father, was not pleased about this and tried to persuade her not to do it. But she had a plan.

Scheherazade was beautiful, well-read and intelligent, and she was a talented storyteller, able to weave together stories with lessons for her listeners. She married the king and on their wedding night, she told him with a tale that went on late into the night, but it was so late she couldn’t finish it and thus the king put off the beheading so she could finish the story the following night. The clever Scheherazade continued to weave ever more fantastic and adventure-filled stories, each night leaving the king waiting to discover what happened next. Her powerful storytelling thus continued every night, until the king eventually let go of his fear of women, fell in love with the beautiful Scheherazade … and in his unending love for her, allowed her to live ... 

Scheherazade had a voice ... but it was her wiles that kept her alive ... for me, the first title of my memoir, Scheherazade’s Cancer, was my statement that I Tell My Story or Die ...(initially from cancer)…

But as I wrote I realized I had lost my voice in my marriage, I did not have the strong voice of Scheherazade, I was much more like the mythical nymph Echo in the tale of Echo and Narcissus ...
I was truly Lost in the Reflecting Pool.

What advice do you have for other women who suspect that they might be married to a narcissist?

  • Narcissists will try to isolate you from others … it is essential that you maintain a support system

  • Trust what you see and trust what you feel in your gut

  • Set/ maintain your boundaries

If writing your story has taught you anything, what has it taught you?

I suppose I would have to say that I have developed a thicker skin. I realize that not everyone is going to like what I write, but that’s okay … I don’t like everything I read either… I don’t take it so very personally and I think that is a good change for me.

What changed for you from writing your story.

I believe that overall I feel more grounded within myself since I have told my story. It has been an experience where I  have gotten to understand myself much better than previously and that feeling goes far beyond the story of my marriage but rather it has to do with a sense of solidifying my own sense of self.

My Top 10 Favorite Authors/Books by Anna Willett

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I have so many favorites, it was difficult to come up with just 10, but here goes: 

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Stand by Stephen King
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
Jaws by Peter Benchley
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
11.22.63 by Stephen King
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
An honourable mention goes to The Ruins by Scott Smith. It didn’t quite make the list, but it’s still an outstanding read. 
 

Q&A with Linda Ballou, The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon

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Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

LB: Absolutely. I was deeply immersed in the riding world when a herniated disc in my lower back forced me to give it up. I had invested not just dollars, but huge blocks of time, my best energies and I loved the sport. The pinnacle of my riding career was doing a cross-country course in Ireland which is detailed in my story Irish Mist. Back home in California I was doing three-day events on an amateur level with my mare. I adored her and loved every moment we shared together on the trail and in the riding arena. Writing this story helped me get through the tremendous loss that I felt when I had to give her to Hearts and Horses a non-profit that helps handicapped children.

How much of the book is realistic?

All of it, I hope! I tried to capture the energy, danger and excitement of the Grand Prix jumping world. The Mariposa equestrian facility in the story is modeled after the facility I visited in the celebrity-owned ranches nestled in Hidden Valley in Southern California. I was a groupie at horse shows trying to absorb the courage of the riders like Susan Hutchison, I so admired. Susie is the protégé of the legendary trainer Jimmy Williams, who I was privileged to interview in 1993, not long before his passing. The character Billy is modeled after this authentic “horse whisperer,” who was a giant in the riding world.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Besides the obvious “To Finish is to Win” message that Gemcie brings home, I hoped that by taking readers to the mountains and seeing that world through Brady’s eyes it would engender a greater love and respect for the natural world. I did a horse pack trip in the John Muir Wilderness that allowed me to know the ethereal beauty in the “Range of Light” that Muir described in My First Summer in the Sierra’s. It was a momentous journey for me. I always wanted to return and ride the Pacific Crest Trail solo as others more capable than I have done. This was my way of getting there on my own and to share the message that not enough is said for solitude. Time alone allows us to absorb, and digest all the external stimulation moderns are bombarded with daily. It enables us to become centered and grounded in nature rather than looking outside of ourselves for endorsement. In addition, to this message there is a very powerful environmental statement about our place in the natural world. I don’t want to share too much of the story, but it is my hope that people will come away with a little different perspective and understanding for all things wild.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

LB: It was physically difficult because I had to write it standing up at my breakfast bar. Sciatic pain in my right leg would not allow me to sit for any length of time. Like a shark I couldn’t rest and had to keep moving. I had to deal with the fact that I would have to leave the riding world behind. Writing the story kept my mind off the constant pain I was experiencing and allowed the deep emotions over the loss of what I cherished wash over me. It was a cathartic and a very important healing process. Still, it wasn’t easy to let go.

What genre do you consider your book?

LB: It is New Adult. I am so happy that this classification has come into being.  Horse stories are typically for young adult readers, but this is an adult story with adult themes.

There are a couple of love scenes that culminate into sexual encounters, but they are not graphic. I don’t believe they are offensive to an adult reader, but perhaps not appropriate for readers under 18. The story is filled with action and adventure and is a coming of age story so it is hard to pigeon hole.

How did you come up with this title?

LB: That’s funny you should ask. A girlfriend gave me a t-shirt with that tag over the picture of a cowgirl jumping over the moon on a starry night. It just stuck with me.

I always loved the image and cut it out when it was time to toss the well-worn gift away. I wrote the first draft of this story many years ago and that little reminder was pressed inside the journal that contained the notes for the story that has it found its way to fruition

Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

I chose audible because it is easy to use and does not cost anything if you chose to split royalties with your narrator.  It is a painless process once you have found the right person. You should not be too eager as you are agreeing to a 7-year contract with audible and if you make a mistake in your choice you will be stuck. Scott Glennon was easy to work with and provided chapters to me in a timely manner. I listened to each file carefully, made my edits and he complied. We worked very nicely together and I am very proud and pleased with the results. You can’t just turn the project over to your narrator, you must be hands on and help them create distinctive voices for each of your characters.

How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?

Very closely. We communicated well. Scott was not offended when I asked for more energy, or a different accent to keep the characters distinct from one another. He made all the fixes I asked for in a timely manner. He kept the chapters coming in a reasonable amount of time so that we did lose connection to the story. I was very excited to listen to each new chapter.

What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?

LB: I am an adventure travel writer with a book of travel essays called Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales to my credit. I also published an historical novel titled Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai’i. I have been told that Wai-nani casts a hypnotic spell that transports you to ancient Hawai’i—a place you can’t get to any other way. In The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon I let readers ride solo on the Pacific Crest Trail and to feel the fragile beauty of the lofty realm. Ultimately, all of my books are destination pieces that provide you with a sense of place and could be called travel literature. I use my travel writing skills to enhance my novel writing to engage readers. It seems to be working!

What are your current projects?

My story  On the Road with Isabella Bird-The Lady of the Rockies just won Gold for the best destination piece in the Traveler’s Tales annual Solas Awards. Here is a link to that story.

http://bit.ly/2I4zzUV

I hope one fine day to turn this incredibly brave and independent woman’s story into an historical fiction novel. Research for this book involves returning to Colorado ,which I love, and to ride in the different seasons of the year. She rode mostly in the fall and winter. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!

I am presently collecting stories for my next travel collection Lost Angel Unleashed! What do you think?

Do you have any advice for writers?

LB: Writers write. Builders build. Surgeons cut. If you say you are a writer then write. Keep notes of your stay on the planet. Journal about your experiences. Reflect upon what you see and try to capture the essence of it in words as a painter tries to capture it in colors and images. You will not remember the details that make a story vibrant. You have to write your impressions and feelings down as you go along. Then when you have time to organize your thoughts and know what it is you are trying to say you can go back to your notes and extract details that will liven your work. Don’t wait to be a writer. Life go goes by too fast. Simply be a writer and see what happens.

Q&A with Clark Rich Burbidge, StarPassage: Honor and Mercy

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When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write?

I have always been a story teller. I made them up as bed-time stories for my kids. The fun was to do it on the fly which made it challenging and fun for all. In 2010 I was between jobs and thought networking 24/7 was burning me out. I had a few stories I wanted to put down on paper and one thing led to another with my first book published in 2011. It is the most fun and hardest job I have ever had. 

Where/When do you best like to write?

I get up early and in the quiet hours of the morning I sit in my favorite recliner chair, lean back with my computer on my lap and disappear into different worlds. It is awesome.

Do you have any interesting writing habits or superstitions?

I don’t really make an outline. A brief outline which is departed from regularly is the base. I get an idea and it leads me places. I never know when I round the bend who will be there. It is very exciting. I have found occasionally on passages that I ended up somewhere unexpected and had to stop writing while I did the research. It means that writing is very exciting like I am having the experience with the characters. When I stop I can’t wait to get back and start again. That is how a lot of my readers feel.

What do you think makes a good story?

Strong characters and a meaningful, intriguing story. The roller coaster ride of adventure is always there to keep the pages turning but its about the story and the characters. Do they draw you into the story so you have an experience with them and not just read. That’s the secret.

What inspired your story?

Current topics. I am tired of the pop culture narrative that if you can’t have it exactly how you want it then give up. That’s a stupid narrative. We become great because of the challenged and trials and “Monsters” in our lives. Heroes in literature could not be so without them either. Our trials are what give us the opportunity to be great. They are tools of success, not weapons of destruction. It is what you dwell on that matters. You can choose that. My characters lose physical, emotional or social capabilities often in sudden change. I want my readers to know that they can use even the worst events in their lives as stepping stones to be heroes rather than as excuses to become helpless, hopeless victims.

What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

Coming up with additional passages that took the story somewhere meaningful. I always knew about where it would end but the road in between makes all the difference. I could not just have gratuitous passages and throw them at people. They had to move the story along and tie together in a logical and compelling way. It had to stay fresh and exciting and introduce new twists. You can’t just rely on the things that work for book one.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Tolkein, Bobrik, Dickens, Scriptural Writers, Bernard Cornwell, Dan Brown and Clive Cussler.

What person(s) has/have helped you the most in your career?

My father taught me to never give up and be generous. My Mission President who was a pilot in three wars taught me to take pride in what I do and that I could do anything if I was willing to work hard and my Uncle taught me how to enjoy every day of the path along the way. That brings me to my wife who teaches me every day that there is a higher reason and purpose to our lives and that we can and should lift others up along the way and the great secret that serving others is the surest way to personal happiness.

What’s the best writing advice you have ever received?

Take all the advice you can but never give up your own voice in your works.
 

Guest Post: I Am a Brown Coat Wearing Trekkie by A.S. McGowan

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As I have said before, books are my thing. I have an addiction to the written word. However, I do like movies also. Sometimes they can take a book and make a good movie out of it. Other times the transition from pages to screen loses too much for me. In a previous guest blog post that I did for my blog tour for my Centaur Agency series, I talked about my two favorite movies. To recap my favorites are We Were Soldiers and Dog Soldiers. I can watch those movies over and over again without ever having burn out. However, everyone in my house reaches the ends of their ropes when I get like that. With that said there are other movies and television series that I enjoy.

First off everyone in my house except my youngest child and myself likes Star Wars. Sorry everyone but my 5-month-old and I neither one like it. We both like Star Trek. I like the originals and all the new modern Star Treks. The movies or the series, it doesn’t matter. I will consume all things Star Trek. The reason I know my 5-month-old likes it to is that most the time he sleeps when the television is on. However, I have noticed that if anything Star Trek is on he sits wide eyed and watches. He even smiles occasionally when there is a Vulcan on the screen.

Firefly series and Serenity movie. What can I say when it comes to sci-fi shows I am a brown coat wearing trekkie. River was one of my favorite characters. On one hand she was so childlike. On the other hand, she was a psycho killing machine. Inra was a complex class act as well. So much the upscale lady and yet a paid companion. Seriously what a complex combination. I hated that her and the captain never really did get together despite the love between them.

Another movie I don’t want to neglect to mention is the Divergent movies. I feel they did a great job taking it from book to movie. The whole ‘Faction before blood’ really got me. As a mother I know I would hate if my child was to choose a faction different than mine. But at the same time, I would cheer them on to reach their full potential. Complex family dynamics with this movie. It didn’t hurt that Four was some nice eye candy.

Well my time is up here. Please comment with some of you favorite sci-fi movies.

Guest Post: "Hope is the Thing With Feathers" by Elizabeth Younts

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HOPE is the thing with feathers. So Emily Dickinson’s wrote in one of her poems. From the dawn of time we humans have been chasing after HOPE. We've tried to define it—tried to find it—tried to nail it down.

It is what moves us out of our despair. It is what pushes us out of bed in the morning. It is what we look for when we are hurting. The HOPE that things will get better and that healing will come.

In the same poem, Emily Dickinson wrote that HOPE sings while it perches and even in the midst of a storm—HOPE still sings—and not quietly either. I think that Emily Dickinson got it right. HOPE does its work actively and does not stop. 

HOPE is everywhere. It's easy to overlook it when the storm comes or when we have no words left to say—though hope is often written about. A famous hymn writer wrote about hope: My HOPE is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. And in Jeremiah, God says that He knows the plans He has for you—plans for good and not evil, to give you a future and a HOPE.

In my new release THE SOLACE OF WATER, I explore what happens in relationships when they take our eyes off of HOPE and eventually feel it doesn't exist at all anymore.

Delilah is dealing with the heaviness of her grief over losing her son and she cannot resist pouring guilt onto her daughter, Sparrow, who was the last to see the child alive. Who was partially responsible. Neither expect a quiet, reclusive Amish woman, Emma, in their new Pennsylvania town to have pain and guilt of her own, but their unlikely connection reminds them all that no one is free from a certain hopelessness they feel they are drowning in.

But, the great thing about HOPE is that even if we take our eyes off of it...it's still there and it continues to do it's thing—it doesn't take its eyes off of us. These three women learn this apart and together and it is all that can save them from themselves.

Hope sings through the gale.

It can be found.

It can be heard.

Writers since the days of the Bible have sought to understand this little word—but don't overthink it, it is all around you. In the sun that shines, in the seed that grows, and in the mere involuntary instinct it is to smile when something pleases you. And, with that, I HOPE you smile today.

THE SOLACE OF WATER:

'The Solace of Water is a gripping coming-of-age historical fiction story that will stick with readers for some time after the final word is read. Hauntingly beautiful prose is bountiful in this tightly woven tale . . . The characters demonstrate the impact secrets, guilt and unforgiveness can have on a person in this emotive gem.' (RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 stars, TOP PICK)

In a time of grief and heartache, an unlikely friendship provides strength and solace.

After leaving her son’s grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband’s hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor, Emma Mullet—yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.

Delilah’s eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother’s pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother’s death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma’s house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own—secrets that could devastate them all.

With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long-buried hurts have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.

Eminently relevant to the beauty and struggle in America today, The Solace of Water offers a glimpse into the turbulent 1950s and reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race, and custom—and has the power to transform a broken heart.

Elizabeth Byler Younts

Connect: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Ok, my lovely readers! We have a special treat. Please enjoy this exclusive special two-chapter extended audio clip!

Q&A with William Todd, Dead of Night

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Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

It was a fun process. This is the third book that I have turned into an audiobook. This one was a bit more daunting because it’s a compilation of 6 horror stories, so the narrator had to wear many more hats on this one than with my previous books. The settings are varied and the characters even more so. I go from American to British to Irish. From man to monster to little girl with Down Syndrome. But my narrator Ben Werling was up to the task.

Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

Not at first, no. And this book certainly not. Most of these stories I wrote before audiobooks took off and certainly well before I thought I could get my books on audiobook. My most recent stories, however, I am rather cognizant of how I write, if only a little, thinking, “how would this sound on audiobook?”

How did you select your narrator?

Honestly, Ben Werling is my Sherlock Holmes and Watson story narrator. He’s been a great narrator with a wide range of styles and voices which is needed for the types of stories I write--late Victorian/ gothic horror. His voice is perfect for what I write so I have Ben do all my books.

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

Bumps in the Night was a story with my daughter in mind. She was born with Down Syndrome, and I thought it would be neat to tell a story through her eyes.

How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?

I lead a pretty active life with my family, two teens--one gearing up for college and the other in integrated track (for special needs kids), and a full time job  that has me travelling 80 miles a day in commute. You would think I’d get burned out quickly trying to fit writing in between all that but I really don’t. At least it hasn’t happened yet. I’m not sure where I find my writing time but I do find it. I manage one or two books a year and that seems to be my sweet spot. Anything more than that then, yeah, I’d probably burn out rather quickly.

Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?

I have only recently come into audiobooks but I love it. My son makes fun of me because I have come kicking and screaming into the technology age (I have only owned a smartphone for about 5 years). As an old man of 50 I had heard of audiobooks but never really gave it much thought. Since becoming  a writer and wanting to get my stories out in as many formats as possible I finally gave audiobooks a try and loved it. In today’s hustle world where there’s no time for anything, you can listen to an audiobook just about anywhere. You can’t say that for a paperback.

Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

I think with the way Ben does his audio he does sound effects in the background that harkens back to radio shows of old. I think the type of horror story I write lends itself very well to audiobook with those little sound effects giving you a little something different that you won’t get in book format. I think that helps heighten the experience of listening to a story rather than reading it.

What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?

In today’s hustle and bustle world we sometimes don’t have the time to “sit and read” a book. But hey, we all need our escape to other worlds, other times, other places, other people, and audiobook gives you that escape. You are able to listen while driving, exercising, or being otherwise predisposed where reading a book would be an impossibility. That will always be the ace in the hole for audiobooks.

What’s next for you?

I just finished my third Sherlock Holmes story, Murder in Keswick. I’ll market it over the summer then hit the keyboard again. I don’t have anything in the works at the moment, but inspiration is only one nightmare away!

Q&A with Lisa Becker, Clutch

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Were there any real-life inspirations behind your writing?

When I was writing the Click trilogy, (Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click, and Right Click), I was obsessed with NCIS re-runs and would have the show on in the background as I wrote. There was an episode where a character refers to a man as a “handbag husband,” or something useless you carry on your arm.  I started thinking about that, and the idea for Clutch grew from there. I believe that everyone deserves a happily ever after and would like to think there’s a “clutch,” or someone worth holding onto, out there for everyone.

If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?

I think Eloise Mumford, who played Kate in Fifty Shades of Grey, would make an outstanding Caroline. She has the right mixture of warmth, gumption, vulnerability, and beauty to bring this character to life. I still can’t decide who would play Mike, although I know I’d love to sit in on those casting sessions.  ;)

How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?

In the past, when I’ve typed the final “the end” on a manuscript, I celebrate with a box of my favorite chocolates. However, with Clutch, I thought it fitting to buy myself a new purse – a Michael Kors shoulder bag that I use every day.

How did you select your narrator?

When searching for a narrator, it was important for me to find someone who really understood not only the individuality of each character but the unique dynamic between the two main leads. I needed someone who could make Caroline relatable and showcase her intelligence, ambition, vulnerability and hopefulness in finding true love. And at the same time, the narrator needed to bring to life Mike’s irreverence, sense of humor, loyalty and drive. Early on in my search, I was lucky to find the very talented Suzanne Barbetta who was able to capture all of this effortlessly.

Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?

Spend the time and money necessary to find the right partner who is professional, personable and truly gets the material. There’s a magic that happens when the connection is right, and you’ll reap the benefits from that to more than compensate for your initial investment.

Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

There are quite a number of a quick-witted exchanges between Caroline and Mike including the use of clever puns and rapid-fire jokes back and forth. I think an audiobook is a great way for those to come across and bring out the humor in the story, as long as you have a talented narrator with comedic timing and an understanding of the dynamics between characters. Again, I feel so lucky to be working with the talented Suzanne Barbetta as she was able to capture the chemistry between these two characters, which is the heart of the story.

What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?

I love the idea of audiobooks and giving people the opportunity to enjoy amazing storytelling in a convenient and accessible way. So, whether you want to read a book in a traditional manner or listen to a story while exercising, making dinner, lounging around or doing a myriad of other things, the important point is that you are enjoying the escapism and the beauty of the written word.

Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

Clutch actually started out as a screenplay that had been optioned by a production company at Sony Studios. The movie didn’t progress past the initial stages, so I turned it into a novel to bring this light and breezy story about love and handbags to the public.  It was only after I received so many positive reviews of the story, its characters, humor and heart, did I think to turn it into an audiobook. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to expand the reach of this story that hopefully will inspire people to seek out their own happily ever after.

What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?

Like all writers, I’ve encountered my share of writer’s block.  My solution: Chocolate! No joke, I eat chocolate. If I’m stuck on a certain section or not feeling motivated to write, I give myself little chocolate incentives to get past the blockage.  Judging by my thighs, I had some serious problems writing this book. ;) I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a reading slump, though. If anything, I need to find ways to stop reading so much, as it sometimes affects time with my family or work.

What’s next for you?

Included in Clutch is a preview of my next book, Starfish, a new adult story of unexpected love, the redemptive power of music and hogging the bed.  Starfish is expected to be released in spring 2019.

Q&A with Melanie Dickerson, The Orphan's Wish

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What is your process of choosing and then determining the best way to rebuild a fairy tale each time?

Melanie: It’s a little different with each story. If it’s the first book in a series, I start out with the fairy tale, then build a story around it using the elements I like most about the fairy tale. Otherwise, I start out with a main character who was a minor character in a previous story. Then I pick out a fairy tale that seems to work with that character’s situation and personality. It’s fun to take elements from the familiar story and twist them, or bend them to fit my own setting. I try to use as many familiar aspects of the fairy tale as I can.

What inspired the story in The Orphan's Wish?

Melanie: I was inspired by the Aladdin fairy tale as well as by my character, Kirstyn, who was one of the Gerstenberg children. She had been very quiet and unassuming in the other stories, so I had to think about why she was quiet and how her childhood had shaped her personality. I was also inspired by the character of Aladdin in the Disney movie as well as the traditional story, because he was so determined to win Jasmine’s heart. What would motivate my Aladdin to be so determined? What would that look like if there was no magic lamp.

If you would like to read and extended excerpt from the book, visit here.

Q&A with Jennifer LeBlanc, The Tribulations of August Barton

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Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?

It really depends on the writing style. Having it read out loud and brought to life is an amazing thing. Your characters become more real and the reader gets to become more immersed in your story. With that said, if the writing isn’t something that sounds good when read aloud it might not translate as well into audiobook format. This is why choosing the right narrator is so important because translating what's in your mind and your story the way you see it in your head is difficult. Details and certain things like character quirks and the tone need to match what you are trying to convey to the reader in your story. If the writing is flat and has no life or is too bland, it will be bland and flat when read aloud. I have listened to several audiobooks with the same old monotone narrators that try to make the story interesting, but don’t, because the writing isn’t interesting or the story isn’t written in an interesting way. On the flip side of that though I have also heard ones where the narrator works wonders for even the most boring and flat writing so it goes both ways.  

Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

Yes, I definitely anticipated getting my book made into an audiobook early on in the process. Because of this, I wrote the story the way I would want to hear it. It was like I was watching a movie in my head and when writing, I wrote how I would want the movie to play out. I thought about what reactions people would have if a character said or did something more interesting. This helped give my characters more individuality and spunk. They weren’t just people put together as a means to an end in the book. They became so much more and it’s definitely something you can hear in the audiobook.

How did you select your narrator?

This part was scary because I knew what I wanted for the characters and how I wanted them to sound, but to find someone who could do them, and the story justice seemed really daunting. I did a search on the audiobook production platform and came across James Oliva’s profile. He conveniently had samples of his previous work available to listen to. I listened to each one several times and I just couldn’t believe the range he had as a voice actor. I was hooked and just knew he was the one. From there I sent an offer and he gladly accepted. I feel like it was just meant to be because I found who I believed was the perfect narrator on the first try. That never seems to happen and I feel so blessed to have worked with and to continue working with him.

How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?

For some of the lines yes, but for Augie he just had it. He sounded young and skittish and weird and that’s exactly what I wanted. It was the same with Gertie and for the most part all the others aside from a few things here and there that were easy to fix.

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

Yes, I have always been socially awkward and at times never really felt like I was confident or even comfortable in my own skin. This is a characteristic that I gave to my main character Augie because it stems from me and how I was at that age. I have also always had a special relationship with my grandmother and she’s been one of the most influential people in my life. I wanted to write a story that portrayed that relationship even though my grandmother is the complete opposite of Augie’s in many ways.

What about the audiobook format appeals to you?

I really loved audio books as a kid because they essentially taught to me how to read better and how to pronounce words that I didn’t know how to. They helped me understand the tone and get into the story better. I would always get the cassette tapes from the library and then follow along with the physical book. I still listen to them here and there on occasion without the physical books. Some of them are great and others don’t grab my attention as well. It really depends on the narrator. I don’t listen to audiobooks very much anymore, but I do like them.

Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

All of it, in my opinion the whole experience of listening to it brought so much more emotion out and so much more appeal for the characters. They become more real and relatable and I can’t thank James enough for the work he put into making my audiobook so great.

What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Talk to other authors if you can and connect with the writing community, whether it be local or reaching out online. Having the support of other people in the same boat helped me immensely through this process. The knowledge and advice of other readers, writers, and authors is invaluable whether it’s good or bad. Everything helps. Learn as much as you can. Do research on self-publishing and traditional publishing and most importantly READ! To become a good writer, you must first become a good reader.

Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?

Be diligent in selecting your narrator and make sure they will be a good fit for your book. Also be patient with your narrator, once you have chosen one, because they have a lot more work they have to do behind the scenes than we see or know about. There’s a lot that goes into recording and editing the content in your book. It’s a process and it takes time. It’s not an easy feat by any means and is more than worth it in the end.

What’s next for you?

Publishing book two in the August Barton Novella Series titled, The Revelations of August Barton. Once the paperback and ebook are out, James has graciously accepted the task of narrating the audiobook for this one as well. I can’t wait to dig in and get it out there for all the readers and listeners. Once Revelations is released, I plan on doing more author events around where I live and doing some more marketing.