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Interview with Patrick Canning, Author of The Colonel and the Bee

TS. I first ‘met’ Patrick when I stumbled across The Colonel and the Bee. Something made me order it and read it. Then review it. I don’t generally read fantasy but this was different…and beautiful…and my favorite character in the book was actually the three-story basket attached to the hot-air balloon. I ask, as I do all of my interviewees, for a short bio to begin the interview. Here is Patrick’s answer. 

PC. I’ll try to do it all in one breath: born in Milwaukee, grew up in Chicago suburbs, came to LA for film school, worked in film/entertainment throughout my 20’s, now trying to spend increasing amounts of time writing because I love it and I think I could be good at it with enough sweat/luck/coffee.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

PC. I rotate between a shared workspace, coffee shops, libraries, and my own apartment (where I get the least amount done). I live alone so being around people part of the day is nice. My dream work space has electrical outlets, a chair comfy enough to be in for hours but not so comfy you can fall asleep in it, ample people watching, low music, a bathroom, and if we’re aiming high, free refills.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

PC. Coffee and tea are almost always involved, but other than that I try to keep it as un-exotic as possible. Recently I started making the background of my Word docs legal-pad yellow. I heartily recommend this to writers who get sick of staring at bright white all day.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

PC. I’m exceptionally bad at foosball, but above average at ping-pong and pool.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

PC. Morning session/afternoon session, both 3-4 hrs. I’m still working on a more solid process and seeing what works. I heard one writer’s schedule (Dan Brown maybe?) is 4 am-11 am. That sounds weirdly alluring to me but I have yet to wake up at 4 am to give it a try…

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

PC. I think if you’re really procrastinating a lot, over and over again, it could be a case of wanting to be a writer more than actually wanting to write. I think a lot of people torture themselves over this when in reality they might just be chasing the wrong vocation. Some days are better than others to be sure, but if they’re all bad days, there’s no shame in career/hobby course correction.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

PC. Usually they’re a part of the initial idea but I love the revision stage when they start to crystallize and sound more like themselves in the dialogue. I try not to panic if elements like that are less than perfectly clear early on because they usually arrive by the time things wrap up.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Ballooning over Africa

PC. I came to novel writing through screenwriting, which I came to through a love of movies. I’ve always loved any kind of creative storytelling and the more I write, the more I enjoy it (for the most part), so that’s reassuring to me. Beyond that, it can be a matter of ‘why isn’t anyone talking about this’, or ‘this could be a nice way for people to escape’, or the ol’ reliable: ‘what if’.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

PC. The situation, followed very closely by the characters, and they become inextricable almost immediately (though both bend and change as the story takes shape).

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Join us March 22nd for the  conclusion of this interview with the talented Patrick Canning.

Did you miss my review of The Colonel and The Bee?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz. March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese

 

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Winter of Murder Receives Stunning Review!

Winter of Murder is the tenth book in the World of Murder series, and like its predecessors, it both stands alone as a remarkable read for newcomers and as an excellent addition to the series as a whole. In this story, Detective Stella Garcia journeys to Alaska to visit her son, who is interning with a field biology group in the Alaskan wilderness. He’s only been away from home for six months, but it seems an impossible distance away from her urban world.  Unfortunately, the one thing that consumes her professional life is as active in Alaska as in New York, as Stella soon discovers.

Predictably, murder enters the picture and the dead bodies begin to pile up, prompting her to set aside family time in favor of consulting with the local authorities, given her experience and background with solving homicides. Meanwhile, Detectives O’Roarke and Sneed are on their own without their third investigator Stella, which means not only a challenge to their crime-solving abilities, but new opportunities for their evolving relationship. While prior familiarity with these characters and their experiences will enhance appreciation for how much Stella and her comrades have grown since their first appearances in the series, newcomers will find the story completely accessible and thoroughly engrossing.

Personal and professional dilemmas abound, encounters between all are realistically portrayed, and the contrast between Stella’s urban world and the rural wilds of Alaska are well done, creating a compelling environment in which Stella finds herself far from familiar scenarios or approaches to solving problems. The background and atmosphere of Native Alaskans are particularly well done and lend to a story which is vivid on more than one level: as a detective piece, as a story of character growth and personal advancement, and as a cultural inspection of Alaskan peoples and places.

As Stella navigates uncertain territory and affairs, she gains new perspective not only about murder investigations, but her own relationship with her son.Steeped in personal growth and revelation as well as a satisfyingly complex murder mystery that ventures into cross-cultural perceptions, Winter of Murder is a gripping and strong addition to a powerful series. ’ ~~ D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with Actor PLaywright, Rick Lenz (part 2)

…with wife

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

RL. I sure do. I don’t think I’d stop sometimes, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve got a body and that it gets tired, hungry, thirsty, and sore from remaining in the same position too long.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

RL. I wrote a book last year that is now complete except for some editing. I’m not yet sure when it will be published, but I hope soon. It’s about an old actor, devoted to his wife, who made a few mistakes during his younger years. He gets a chance to redo those years, but discovers all he really wants to do is get back to his wife.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

RL. I switched my acting career from first priority to second about 15 years ago. Writing took its place as my great passion.

Q. How long after that were you published?

RL. It took me eight years to write some books that were publishable.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

RL. I don’t believe that will happen.

Q. What makes a writer great?

RL. Since writing is very much a craft (plus inspiration, of course) I think the major factor is wanting—no loving—to write and doing it until you get good. I’d add one thing to that: nothing you write is sacred. If it’s not exactly what pleases you, throw it away and rewrite it until it does.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

RL. It is never the same for me. The book I wrote last year unfolded itself within a year. My first two novels took me over 10 years to get right. My memoir, North of Hollywood, took only about a year. I really can’t say what the whole process looks like. I think if I knew that—and this is speaking only for me—I wouldn’t be a very good writer.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

RL. I came from a very dysfunctional family. It was often painful at the time, especially during my teenage years. So, that was certainly a factor. After that, I spent most of my life as a professional actor; my show business life, as a theater actor in New York, and a Hollywood actor, living in Los Angeles, has had a big influence on my writing.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

RL. I read, exercise, meditate, and spend my most joyful times with Linda and my children and grandchildren.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

RL. I have been a playwright (as well as an actor) for most of my life. I prefer writing books now. As to the genre of my writing, some people call it fantasy, but I do like to try to make it as a literary as I possibly can.

…with grandson

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

RL. I think life is meant to be joyful. But in order for that to be the case—again, speaking for myself—I have to constantly practice kindness, forgiveness, and the continual understanding that God loves me no more than He loves everyone else.

Don’t miss Part I of this wonderful interview.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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New Book in the Series, World of Murder

Book #10, Winter of Murder adds a new chill to the series. 

 

Detective Stella Garcia visits her grown son in the wilds of Alaska. He is interning with a field biology team. Their visit allows them to reunite after R.J.’s six month absence. Stella is delighted to spend quality time with her son. But murder has followed her north to the wilds of this vast winter wilderness and dead bodies start showing up in and around the Native village. Weather forbids local law enforcement from taking on the investigation and Stella is recruited as a murder consultant.

Caused by the absence of Stella, Detectives O’Roarke and Sneed deepen their professional relationship.  Once again they are called upon to solve a murder that was meant to look like an accident.

 

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with Rick Lenz, Broadway & Film Actor, Playwright, Turned Author

Cactus Flower circa 1969, Rick with Goldie Hawn & Walter Matthau

TS. Rick Lenz is a graduate of the University of Michigan, past member of the Actor’s Studio, and active member in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is a veteran Broadway, television, and film actor who first came to national attention when he repeated his Broadway role in Cactus Flower,

the film version. He went on to appear in a long list of movies and TV shows. As a writer, his plays have been produced Off-Broadway, on PBS television and in regional theatres across the country. His memoir North of Hollywood was called “masterful” by Writer’s Digest, while his first novel, The Alexandrite was named “one of the best books of the year” by Kirkus Reviews. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

RL. I write anywhere I can: in my office on my computer. I write in doctors’ offices on a legal pad and also in the car when my wife Linda is driving. I write on my laptop in bed, or in the backyard on nice days, which most of them are in southern California. I write at the dining room table or, actually, anywhere I can do so without being rude to someone.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

RL. I honestly have no rituals or quirks about writing; I just do it whenever the muse is kind enough to land on my shoulder. My wife suggests I not answer this question in regard to anything else in my life.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

RL. I used to be tall, dark, and more or less handsome. Now, I am not quite so tall and I’m gray, and a bit funny looking.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

RL. I really don’t. I usually meditate in the morning, have coffee then start writing. On the other hand, if I’m going through a period of insomnia, I may write all night—I may do it in bed or sitting in my favorite chair in the living room.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

RL. Write a paragraph or two and see if that doesn’t get you going.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

RL. All of my characters are born when they have to be for the story. Most of my characters—when things are going well—are based on people I have known at sometime during my long life. There are a lot of characters, more than I’ll ever be able to use, lolling about in my brain.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

RL. I’m not sure. I liked the idea of writing when I was a kid. Later, when I became a theater actor and director, I saw the usefulness of writing too. So I was about 21 or 22 when I first started writing short plays.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

Rick’s granddaughter

RL. Sometimes an idea for a character suggests the situation. Sometimes, it’s the other way around. Maybe what I’m saying, probably I am, is that they really show up about the same time.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?  Join Us for Part 2 of this Intriguing Interview ~~ Feb…. 23rd

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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What the Critics are Saying…

 ~~  A Review ~~

Book #9 in the World of Murder series is, as its predecessors, inspired by real life events which add an extra dimension of authenticity to the story line. It opens with the dilemma of Penny, who is experiencing an independent life after being buried in childcare and being a wife for eighteen years. A special arrangement has been made with husband Tony that preserves the semblance of their twenty-year relationship while allowing her more freedom; but when she meets Lyle at a bar, things change not because he loves her, but because he, too, plans to entrap her.

Investigators O’Roarke, Garcia and Sneed, come to investigate a murder where Penny is the victim. Could Penny’s husband, who loves her, be the perp? As the homicide detective team uncovers a myriad of perps, mishaps, and convoluted triads of circumstance, readers receive a vivid and fast-paced investigative story that offers more suspects than answers and keeps the action taut with a guessing game that holds no obvious answers and many possibilities.

As a love relationship and a special arrangement morphs into shootings, a cunning perp, and boys who inadvertently become part of a bigger picture they’d never planned, Triad of Murder excels in a romp through juvenile involvements and adult activities that challenges investigators and a community alike.

Stella, Jack, Phoebe, and friendships gone awry intersect over a murder that will keep readers involved in police procedurals and family relationships right to the end.

While mystery fans and prior readers of the series will find this a compelling addition, true crime enthusiasts should also place Triad of Murder (and the entire series, for that matter) on their reading radars: the reality-based events and action are exquisitely detailed and the story is hard to put down.
~~ Donovan’s Bookshelf

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Guest Blog by author, Rick Lenz

‘Delete’ Clever ~~ Make Room for Honesty ~~ by Rick Lenz, author

When I was a young writer, I made my living as an actor. During the first half of my acting career things went well. I tried to be as honest as I could in my work, but when I was offstage or off-camera, it seemed to me the best thing I could do was to be “cool.”

Between jobs, I worked hard on my notion of who I was and wanted to be. Without knowing that’s what I was doing, I convinced myself I had an image to build and protect. Like many young professionals, I thought it was important to be clever. If I said a cynical thing and got an appreciative laugh that was the kind of thing I wanted to learn to say more often. I was “hip.” On the surface anyway, there were very few things cooler than being hip.

The word isn’t used much anymore, but I desperately wanted to be and stay hip. When you’re young, people often seem to react positively when something cutting, or biting, or just plain mean is said at someone else’s expense. Often, I’m afraid, that’s a fair definition of what “hip” was at the time and “cool” often is now.

Those things wear thin very fast. A constant onslaught of clever soon gets to be something you want to turn away from. Clever too often turns out to be cruel.

Meanwhile, my writing, which became more and more important to me, suffered from the fact that I’d spent much of my adult life trying to invent my cool and clever self, the artificial me. It turned out that persona—for me—was not only an uncomfortable place to live, it was an alienating way to be a writer—and a writer cannot afford to alienate his reader. For years my writing suffered from that voice.

If you’re cruel, cruelty is what will come back to you. The wisest voices of the ages have not said, “Judge not lest God will judge you.” They’ve said, “Judge not that you be not judged.”

It’s not some outer power that’s going to come after you, seeking retribution. It’s you yourself, who will unconsciously (in most cases) know for sure that payback is coming your way. And it will get you and it will pay you back. In kind.

It took me far too long to learn that the most important thing I could do toward becoming a good writer was to be Don Quixote “In search of honor.” One of the synonyms my dictionary gives for “honor” is “mark of respect.”

It’s a wonderful thing to give your reader a “mark of respect.”

That does not mean that you can’t be witty or funny or even clever when that’s called for. But underneath whatever it is, readers deserve one thing from us beyond our professional due diligence: our respect.

Come back for my Interview with Rick in March ’19

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
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Book Review ~ Schugara by Joe English

 

reviews, authors, writing

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5 out of 5 quills.  Book Review  

 

If you like words as much as I do (and you know how much I do) you will love this book. Words chosen and arranged so masterfully. English’s use of language is superb. No surprise, maybe, as the author took thirty years to complete the book. And he was still editing when he sent me the advanced reader’s copy. That’s dedication…but it also shows in the final product. 

I don’t writer spoilers…that is, I don’t include the whole story (as so many reviewers do) in any of my book reviews. I review the writing and the story. Is the writing good? Is the story entertaining and complex? Are the characters believable and do I care about them?  In the case of Schugara the answers are a resounding ‘YES’!

We’ve all wanted to run away and reinvent ourselves at some point in our lives. I certainly have…upon reflection I have actually done it! And that’s what this story is about. Several characters run away and they end up on the same remote island in the Caribbean. This book will require your full attention. It is not ‘light reading’ as the multiple characters are rich and the story complex. 

My only negative critique is with the publisher. The back cover of the book does not give a synopsis of the story to lure a reader into buying it. Reviews are fine but they should be taglines on the back cover and full reviews saved for inside the book.   The format is very distracting. (Maybe the issues were only in my advanced copy. Let’s hope so.) Unjustified spaces. Indents too deep. All these issues, including line spacing, contribute to the final number of pages, 500+, and may be a negative when a reader considers buying the book. Believe it or not, buyers check to see how many pages there are. No effort was made to create an author’s page on Amazon.com and other outlets, which is basic marketing. The readers want to know more about the book and its author. 

Having said my piece about the production of the book, it’s a fine piece of writing and I congratulate the author. Waiting anxiously for his next book. I think there’s a book in Joe Rogers, Zero and the bookstore, The Yellow Harp. 

Did you catch my interview with this author?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  other AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and in early 2019  Patrick Canning.
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Latest books in the series, World of Murder, Now in Audio Books!

Beneath the Bridge of MurderGood news!  With the recent recording of Bridge of Murder and Video of Murder, all of the true crime series are now available on audio books. Just added: 

 In Book #6 of this true crime series, someone is knocking off the homeless of NYC. There don’t appear to be any motives; what could a bum have that anyone would want? Their life style affords the killer plenty of opportunity. Nobody cares what happened to these shadow people?  Detectives O’Roarke and Garcia quickly realize that they have another serial killer on their hands as more bodies are found at an alarming rate. 

Available soon on audible.com, amazon.com and itunes.com for purchase

Sample of Bridge of Murder 

Sample of Video of Murder 

A murder occurs every day in the Big Apple. It follows that homicide detectives carry a case load of three to seven cases, at all times. In this new thriller, Video of Murder, NYPD Homicide Detectives O’Roarke and Garcia investigate seven killings. Every case has one witness who is never mistaken, can’t remember, or tells a lie. The video camera. They must enter the unknown world of the Tongs, the Chinese Mafia, when one of its members is beaten to death, sparking a string of retaliation-type homicides. At the same time they investigate the random murder of a cross country trucker only to be interrupted by a domestic disturbance case gone horribly wrong. A normal day in the life of a murder cop.

 

Coming soon! Shadow of Murder in Audio!

Now available on audible.com, amazon.com and itunes.com for purchase

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and in early 2019  Patrick Canning.
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Interview with author, Joe English (part 2)

Q.  Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?   

JE.   Definitely.   The rest of the world goes on, I am told and occasionally realize, while I am puzzling over a phrase, a sentence.   Should I add a poem to the beginning of a given  chapter to foreshadow  the chapter’s worth?   Should I use the word large or big?  Is the simile in the sentence “The sky was as blue as the bluest  eye. . .” apt?   [Answer:  no.  Why not?  Well, the sky is vast; the eye, small]. How about “The sky was as blue as the bluest eye and the jungle as green as gold”?  The second half not as bothersome, but still not quite there yet.  So, after hours and hours (literally) of tinkering, thinking, playing, rewriting:   throw the sky overboard.  Go with just the jungle:  “The rising sun stoked greens—emerald and jade, myrtle and moss—into glistening gold.”   There! 

Q. You have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.  

JE.   I am working on a short story.   What has kept me going all these years is that many, many readers have praised SCHUGARA.    Gratifying.   But the bills must be paid.  I am not sure I want to  put myself through the torture, abuse, neglect, duplicity, that an unestablished  novelist must endure.   Tell me:  is posthumous  recognition appealing?  I think frequently of Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”:  

Full many a gem of purest ray serene, 
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear: 
Full many a 
flow’r is born to blush unseen, 
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
  

Q.  When did you begin to write seriously?    

JE.  Since I was a child, ten years of age of thereabouts.  I have always been fascinated with words.   Elegance has all but disappeared from writing.   From our use of language.   From our culture.   From the ways we interact with others. 

Q. How long after that were you published? 

JE.   High school.  Literary publication. 

Q. What makes a writer great? 

JE.   Having something to say and saying it well.  

Q.  (Note to Self: a life lesson you’ve learned.) 

JE.   I quote Lily Tomlin in SCHUGARA:  “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.”  I don’t like saying so, or recognizing this, but I have come to the conclusion that, for the most part, people simply don’t care, don’t give a damn, pay lip service to the concerns of others, and live inside solipsistic bubbles.  My advice to aspiring writers:  get off the beaten path.   If you are in a city, move into one of the many “ghetto” areas the United States cultivates, dumping grounds for people without money, for the most part people of color.  Do not get sucked into the television world of lies and happy faces:  YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY!  HAVE IT YOUR WAY!   Those who are idealists in their teenage years and twenties sell out by age thirty without ever realizing so.     Do we need more stories about suburban angst?

 Q. and the all-important:  What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?   

JE.   A book is NEVER finished.  The writer must force himself/herself to stop.   Now that I have been forced to stop, I suffer the slings and arrows of trying to get attention paid.   The literary gatekeepers keep a close-knit mutually praising society, frightened, so it seems, at anyone or anything that goes against the grain.

Ours is a close minded culture, wherein those who know know they know better.   They are the tastemakers.   Do you think a novel published by a struggling tiny press located in Louisville, Kentucky, clearly the hayseed  capital of the nation, has a chance of being reviewed by the New York Times?

Did you miss part 1: Click here 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and in early 2019  Patrick Canning.
To receive my posts sign up for my   On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

 

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