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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Inspirational Christian Author, Kevin Lewis, Shares His Writing

Kevin, can you tell us about yourself.
 I am a 36 year old Christian author. I grew up in a town in Florida called Niceville, Florida. I currently live in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. I am not married and have no kids but am ready for that next part of my life. I have four academic degrees including a Masters in Business Administration and a Masters in Information Technology. I actually did not know God or Jesus until the age of 30, when I received my salvation. I love God and Jesus with all of my heart.  I started writing books when I was 32 years of age. The reason that I started to write is because I was praying one day and God inspired me to start writing. I had never written anything before that time. However, from that day forward I have had no problem writing anything. Anytime I sit down to write anything the words just truly flow out of me. I currently have two books published. The first one is called Water for the Christian Spirit Vol. 1 and the second book is called Devotionals for Living Free. Both of the books are inspirational poetry books. My third book coming out later this year is going to be a Christian children’s book.
Tell us about the genre of your work.
 The genre of work that I write is Christian inspirational writing. I write to share the Word of God with readers and to inspire readers to have a closer relationship with God. It is a rewarding genre because it is such a life-changing genre.
Why did you choose this genre?
 Well I should say the genre chose me. Through prayer I discovered that God had a plan for me to be a writer. God is definitely a great provider. As anytime that I need to write anything he supplies the perfect words for me to get the message across to my readers.

What are some of your books, stories that have been published? 

 As previously stated I have two books Water for the Christian Spirit Vol. 1 and Devotionals for Living Free. I have also contributed to Relationships and Other Stuff  Vol. 3: True Stories and Poems from Men and Relationships and Other Stuff: True Stories about Relationships. In addition, I maintain a weekly blog @ my website: 

What ages do you direct your books?
 My first two books are directed at all age groups, because they are for any reader but mainly Christian readers. The third book will be directed at children ages 4 to 8.

Can you tell us more about the books?
Water for the Christian Spirit Vol. 1 is a book of inspirational Christian poetry which is for any Christian believer young or old. The book is meant to inspire a closer relationship with God. The book can currently be found on and the ISBN is 9780982366806
Devotionals for Living Free is a book of Inspirational Christian poetry which is also for any Christian believer. This book is also meant to inspire a closer relationship with God. The book has themed poems within different chapters and an additional section of helpful information for every believer. This book can be found on and the ISBN is 9781456317997

Do your books have a teaching objective?  If so, what is it?

The teaching objective of my books is to inspire people to seek a relationship with God if they do not have one. If they have already received their salvation, then the objective is to inspire the reader to have a closer relationship with God each day.

How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books? 

 I can actually explain how I come up with the poems in my books. I pray before I sit down and write. In addition, I study the Word of God and am always looking for new revelation within the Word. When I sit down to actually write the words come out of me from Godly inspiration and revelation from what I have received in prayer and studying. The titles of poems come to me at different times. I can be anywhere and get a title for a poem. I will write the title down and then when I get in my spirit the time is right for that poem I will sit down and write the poem. 

How did you develop the character/s of your in each of your books? 

This really does not relate to my current books, but does relate to the book I am working on. I developed the character of my upcoming children’s book through prayer and then sitting down and writing a story that would be an inspiration to parents and kids alike. 

What is your favorite thing about your book/s?
My favorite thing about my books is that they honor God and inspire people to seek a relationship with God and Jesus. Moreover, the books help other Christians develop a deeper relationship in their Christian walk.

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?

The genre that I write is very different from other genre’s because the genre focuses on Christian readers.
Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published?

 I have a publisher but with self publishing it is quite easy to get any book published including Children’s books.
What is your writing schedule?
I write every week, but usually I take a year in between books to write my next book.

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
 I am currently working on completing a Children’s book.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
 I would say make sure that you learn grammar rules. While spell check is great, it will not catch every error. Do not give up, keep submitting your work. Not everyone will like what you write but it only takes one person to like your work to become published by a company. Always keep writing and improving your writing. Never think that you have arrived. Even the best need to continue to practice.

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
 I would say write what is in your heart and always keep writing from that place. People can tell if you are sincere and when we write from the heart, the writing is always sincere.

What do you do when you are not writing?
Hard to answer because I am always blogging and writing. I would say that I keep developing my relationship with God. I can never learn everything about he Bible and I will never lose my zeal for developing a deeper relationship with God. I also am into health and fitness, movies, and traveling. In addition, I love to sing and am often singing throughout the day.

Anything else you would like to add?
 I would say to everyone out there to keep following any dreams you have. Nothing is impossible and you can achieve each and every dream that you have.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
The made it moment was actually seeing my first book published and being able to tell all my family and friends to check it out. Then my parents telling me about how proud they were of me. That means a great deal to me and touches my heart each time I think about it.
Find out more about Kevin on these sites: 

Twitter: @kevin_l_lewis

Note from Sylvia: You can visit my other blog at: features a preview to my new book, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Agron Shehu Tells Why He Wrote His Sc-Fi Book, Human in SpaceTime…What a Shock

Agron Shehu, a Professional Petroleum Engineer lives with his family in Halifax Canada. The author has lots of interests including astronomy, physics, math, history and social behavior. He enjoys playing the guitar and tennis. He has gained lots of life experience traveling around the world. The most recent passion is writing books.

Tell us about the genre of your work. 

It’s an Sci-Fi book. The book is about the human historical journey in the space-time from the dawn to the modern days seen by an alien (Quark) very sophisticated being, a human mind (Higgs, no instinct or whatsoever feelings in his being) and a primitive human (Ardi) as she evolves over time. During their journey in space-time they encounter the images of the most vital civilizations on planet earth from the dawn to the future and compare to that of civilized world of planet QUARK where alien Quark belongs, going from future to the past. The journey is a concurrent one in space-time from the dawn to future for planet earth and from the present to the dawn for planet QUARK. They scrutinize the human evolution and alien Quark draws conclusion why human all time is fighting to each other and suffering so much. Why the most vital civilization lost in history. What about human mind and human instincts?  Why human instincts were manipulated so much overtime and human decision making was based mostly on his instincts and still it’s the same nowadays?

 Why did you choose this genre?

Always I have been fascinating by the human being on earth. It’s a matter like the rest of the other matter on universe but so sophisticated, a matter with mind who changes the environment, who no other matter can do in the way that human does. In order to describe the human doings I think the best way is to use Sci-Fi genre.

I see that you have a published book, could you tell us more about it?

“Human in SpaceTime…What a Shock” is the first my published book.

Human journey in space-time from dawn to the present…what a thrilling and captivating journey! A concurrent journey of human civilization, from past to present and from present to past for another world, so sophisticated . . . a combination of three strange characters, one from present time, another from human primates and an alien!  A scrutiny of a virtual life of human in space-time; where the events pass in a parade shocking Higgs from planet earth and alien Quark. Higgs instincts are left to his twin Hitt, on earth . . . and what consequences for the people on earth caused by Hitt, without mind . . . led only by instincts!

What a love story between Quark from that sophisticated world and Ardi coming from the dawn of human . . .

Why is human fighting all his life, why is symbiosis always in conflict with commoners . . . what is the solution? Why food, shelter, healthcare and energy are the conditions of existence of human, in fact the existence of civilized human.

Human evolution scrutinized by three different characters in this imaginary voyage . . . and solution . . . find out, what’s next in this fascinating story!  

“Human in SpaceTime…What a Shock”

Library Congress Control Number         2011917522

ISBN    Hardcover                                 978-1-4653-7417-2

            Softcover                                  978-1-4653-7416-5

            Ebook                                       978-1-4653-7418-9                   

Kindle Edition

How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?  

Usually the places are those historical on earth such as Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome …. and Moon, planet earth and planet QUARK. Mostly all these places are encountered in  “Dreamliner” (the spaceship) as images in spacetime. The characters are mostly three acting in the “Dreamliner” and some others who are met by the three characters over their journey in spacetime as images come by. Three of the main characters’ names Quark, Higgs and Gluon actually come from the elementary particles in physics. That because they look like so small compare to the Milky Way galaxy, but so important yet.  

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book? 

Higgs who is one of the most import character in the book in all actions represents only his mind not at all instincts exist in his being. He left his instincts and his body on planet earth without any mind as Hitt. Higgs is developed as only mind while Hitt as only instincts. You can reveal in the book what is happening with both of them as such. That’s the most interesting thing in the book.

Quark comes from sophisticated world QUARK, so he is quite different from human being. Actually he judges what’s happening on planet earth and why. Could that be different in a better way? He scrutinizes things and finds out why human in earth fights to each other. At the end he calls them military humanoid not yet a civilized society.

Ardi comes from the dawn of planet earth. Her body is covered with fur, but over journey to planet earth she is changed in a so beautiful woman with her proper mind and not brainwashed, so no instincts manipulated. 

What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?

There are two antagonist developments in the book. ‘Symbiosis’ and ‘commoners’ which fight to each other and that’s one of the Quark findings why there are lost civilizations on planet earth and the other one is instincts and the mind of Higgs which couldn’t live together and separate to each other. Mind remains Higgs and instincts becomes Hitt. Hitt is a unique ‘bad guy’. 

What’s your favorite thing about your book? 

My favorite thing of the book is the way how the book is composed.

I think it’s is a very rare or it’s a unique way how to scrutinize the human character over time.

The duality Higgs and Hitt is an amazing symbiosis which I like so much.                                                                                                                                

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre? 

That’s completely different. That’s why my book could be a unique one. 

Why and when did you begin writing? 

I am so frustrated why the human fights to each other. Human should be peaceful being. Human is so unique in universe. That’s why he couldn’t be a military humanoid but a civilized human being. That the message of this book. I think there is a way how the human should be a civilized being, which is mind education, not instinct manipulation. Through the mind education he can find the proper ‘energy’ and proper ‘healthcare’ in order to be a civilized human being. 

I wanted to send this message to the reader. 

I started to write this book about three years ago, but thinking about that was way before. 

What is your writing schedule? 

I am a petroleum engineer and I live doing this job. Writing is a kind of my hobby.

I want to see how this book is doing, so it’s impact and than I’ll schedule next step. 

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future? 

I have lots of projects in my head, but again it would depend on outcome of this book. 

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published? 

If you have something to contribute in the life of humanity don’t hesitate write and tell the truth.  

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers? 

I think there are no tips for writing. If you think (not feel) to do so just do it, no hesitation, try it. 

What do you do when you are not writing?   

I work as petroleum engineer. The rest I play guitar, play tennis or skiing. 

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life? 

Waiting what’s going to happen with this book. But as I have already mentioned I am petroleum engineer, so I have ‘made it’ lots of things.

Note from Sylvia: You can visit my other blog at: features a preview to my new book, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

International Bestselling Book Author,Elinor Stutz, Shares Her Story and Her Books

A vision came to me while at Stanford Hospital lying on a stretcher with a broken neck. I had one of those near-death experiences you read about but never happens to you. My life flashed in front of me in the form of a report card. On the left hand side, I had very high marks, but the right hand side was startling – it was blank and entitled Community Service!

I instantly recognized a need to begin giving back to communities at large. I vowed that if I were able to walk out of the hospital, I would begin doing just that. It was on that stretcher while waiting to be admitted, that I wrote my first business plan – to help others near and far understand how to take their natural talents and convert those into sales and grow business. 

Elinor Stutz, CEO of Smooth Sale, LLC authored the International Best-Selling book, Nice Girls DO Get the Sale: Relationship Building That Gets Results.” Community Service work teaching job seekers how to sell themselves on interviews to land their desired job led to the writing of her second best-selling book, HIRED! How to Use Sales Techniques to Sell Yourself On Interviews.”   

OpenView Labs designated Elinor as one of the worldwide 25 Top Sales Influencers for 2012.  Elinor is known for delivering inspirational keynotes to standing ovations. She provides consultation, team training, private coaching and business retreats to GROW your business.  The Smooth Sale product line complements all she does. Elinor is available upon request for consultation.  

Tell us about the genre of your work.   

My forte is sales through creative business development.  I am an advocate for using all types of media and mediums to build business along with building relationships every step of the way.  Likewise, I use many methods for teaching my clientele such as webinars, tweets, blogs, articles, books, videos, training sessions for teams, coaching individuals and coordinating Business Retreats.   

My style is to commit to continual education and report back what I find to work best.  My mantra is to over-deliver on value. 

Why did you choose this genre? 

Many years ago, I was a stay-at-home Mom.  But realizing I needed to help earn college money for the children, my husband did some research on the best avenue for me.  One night he came home to say, “I’ve got it, you have the personality of a salesperson.”  I turned around somewhat appalled, and quietly asked, “Is that a compliment or an insult?”! 

It turned out my husband was right.  Looking back, as a child I was always selling my parents and everyone else.  My first job in the corporate world did not welcome women and being the only woman, some very nasty tricks were played on me.  Additionally, they refused to train me plus I was given the silent treatment.  Wanting to be a good role model and refusing to quit, I kept on doing my best.  By the 4th month I became the top producer.  My secret technique was being nice to all of my new contacts.  They each called me a breath of fresh air and actually asked permission to buy from me! 

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?

I learned to write as if we were sitting in my breakfast room having a cup of coffee together as I share stories about what happened in the field and how I overcame the difficulties. So the reader is drawn into the story, able to picture exactly what happened, how it was resolved, and read the end result so that they may avoid similar difficulties in the future.  Most business books are factual and dry whereas readers describe my books as not only informational but also highly entertaining!

What are some of your books, stories that have been published? 

Nice Girls DO Get the Sale: Relationship Building That Gets Results, Sourcebooks – became an international best-seller, translated into several languages and appeared in TIME Magazine.

HIRED! How to Use Sales Techniques to Sell Yourself On Interviews, Career Press – became an instant best-seller.

I also write weekly articles for – rated #5 of all the blogs available, and many of my articles are syndicated. 

Can you tell us more about your books? 

 Nice Girls DO Get the Sale: Relationship Building That Gets Results, Sourcebooks, 2005 

ISBN: 13: 978-1-4022-0744-0

ISBN: 10: 1-4022-0744-1

The theme of this book is to believe in yourself, strive to do what is right and commit to learning to improve situations and your status in the work environment.  On the entertaining side, the book is referred to as a “corporate tell-all” relaying the nasty tricks and shenanigans women often experience when trying to establish themselves.  What the reader derives is how to stand up for oneself, the relationship build and selling techniques that work best and how to build a long-lasting clientele.  There formula is there too for those who wish to become the next top producer of their company.

HIRED! How to Use Sales Techniques to Sell Yourself On Interviews, Career Press, 2010 – became an instant best-seller.
ISBN:  978-1-60163-142-8

ISBN:  978-1-60163-685-0

HIRED! explains the process of the sales cycle and how interviewing follows the same.  The book walks the reader through each step of interviewing explaining the sales techniques that should be applied at the right moment.  Examples through story-telling provide an accurate viewpoint of how it all works together for a greater positive impact.  Years of prior community service led this author to recognize the techniques work well.  When the financial markets dropped worldwide, I knew it was time to write the book.

Where do you get your ideas for writing? 

Upon attending my very first networking event as an entrepreneur, I experienced one of two reactions:  The men laughed thinking a woman couldn’t possibly know enough to be a sales trainer and the women ran away hearing I was a sales trainer.  I went home to read marketing materials, as my message was obviously way off the mark.  The common theme was, “write a book”.  Since no one was talking to me, I had all the time to do so. 

What is your favorite thing about your book? 

I believe the Nice Girls book is classic in that etiquette is included in the sales know-how.  It’s appropriate even with the advance of social media.  Good manners will never go out of style or be unappreciated.  The book brings acclaim from around the world and puts a smile on everyone’s face who reads it.

Likewise, much about HIRED! will remain in fashion.  Everything I write about is based upon building relationships, understanding the needs of others and working to solve their problems.  So no matter the new technology, the principles will always be the same.  My favorite thing about HIRED! is that it has helped many people land their desired job.  It’s community service at its best because it teaches the reader from their point of reading forward to become strong in their field.  Additional opportunities arise due to the goodwill the book produced. 

Why and when did you begin writing?  Is there any one person who had a big influence on you or encouraged you to write?   

Nice Girls was my first attempt at writing.  It was the marketing materials that encouraged me.  If I didn’t try writing, I would never know if I could succeed.  The first publisher said yes and it became an instant success. It’s a remarkable record, and that is why I wrote the second book to make certain it wasn’t just “luck” as some said but that I was actually good at what I did. 

What is your writing schedule?  What atmosphere do you need to write?  

Being goal-driven, I set the number of pages per day that I expect to write but include an overall number of pages for the week.  Therefore, if one day I fall short, I make it up on Saturday to fulfill the weekly goal.  My first book was written in 3 months; being highly competitive with myself, I wrote the second book in two months.  A third book is in the works and that goal is six weeks to completion. 

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future? 

Speaking programs are being planned now and should begin in the Spring.  I’m working with another who is an outstanding fundraiser.  This will be a community effort to help people land the job they desire and to give a portion of the proceeds to medical research. 

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and be published? 

My expertise is in the non-fiction area based upon my personal experience.  In this realm, write what you know well.  What were your experiences?  What difficulties did you have to overcome to do well?  How did you overcome those difficulties and what was the outcome?  How did all of this further your endeavors?  Are there stories you may share to make the book more personal and engage the reader?  Before you begin writing, mentally review the highlights of what you wish to share.  Perhaps these topics will become the chapter headers and then the rest of the information will be easier to fill in. 

Final word here is do not doubt yourself.  Write what you believe helped you and will serve to help others.  Believe in yourself and others will believe in you.

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers? 

Many people belong to writing groups while others agonize over every paragraph and title.  Some I know took ten years to write their book and it became outdated before ever going into print.  My advice is to commit to writing your book without second guessing yourself.  When you ask opinions, each person will give you a different one serving only to confuse.  Find quiet time to write and answer only to yourself.  Most likely your answer will be the right one. 

What do you do when you are not writing?  

Monday through Friday I work on my business and that invariably involves writing in the form of email or posts.  But on Friday afternoon through Sunday, I enjoy time with family and friends.  Travel has always been a passion and I get away as often as possible. 

Include anything else you may wish to add. 

In today’s world, your book is now a business card.  The book establishes your credibility.  People know who you are and where to find you.  The Resource Section in the back of your book may point readers to other events with which you are involved.  You will find the book is a springboard into other activities such as speaking, guest appearances on shows, and requests for collaboration.

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life? 

The book made all the difference in my business.  It was more than worth the effort.  I have enjoyed the following due to becoming a credible author: 

Delivered Keynotes: in Paris, France and at large conventions across the U.S

Honored by OpenView Labs of Boston MA, listed in their “Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012”

The “Global Leadership Award” will be received by Powerful Women Int’l. on International Women’s Day 2012

Note from Sylvia: You can visit my other blog at: features a preview to my new book, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nancy Clark Townsend and Her New Book, Furred & Feathered Friends: Katrina Castaways

Nancy Clark Townsend was born in New York City's Borough of Manhattan, but lived most of her life in New York State's Lower Hudson Valley. She has shared her home or cared for an assortment of animals – dogs, cats, parakeets, ferrets, box turtles, chickens and goats among others. With her late trainer-driver husband, she owned and raced several harness horses. Nancy has been writing for pleasure since she was eight. She took Creative Writing courses from “Writer’s Digest” and studied writing at SUNY Empire State College. She has written several romance and suspense novels and is currently working on a personal memoir and a collection of animal memoirs. She is the editor/writer of her church’s newsletter, “Church Chatter,” for which she also creates a Bible Word Search and Acrostic. She was a legal secretary for over twenty-five years. Later, as an education secretary, Nancy worked with teachers to write and produce curriculum guides for elementary and high school students. In one, she re-wrote and modernized several of Aesop's Fables.

She belongs to two on-line writing groups – Advanced Writing Workshop and AARP’s Writing Memoir. Nancy has nine grandchildren.  Her son Greg is a police lieutenant in a city in upstate New York. Her daughter Karen, whom she describes as "the incredible soccer mom", lives in Virginia. Her stepson Michael is a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, stationed in Georgia, but he will be retiring in June 2012.  She is now retired and resides near Shreveport, Louisiana with her rescued dogs, Buddy and Luke. 

Tell us about the genre of your work.   

Furred & Feathered Friends: Katrina Castaways  is pure fantasy – the animals talk and do some pretty amazing things in order to survive until they are rescued.  It is completely different from my usual genre which I classify as a combination of suspense, mystery and romance.

Why did you choose this genre? 
With regard to  Furred & Feathered Friends, I live in Northwest Louisiana near Shreveport where we were sideswiped by Hurricane Katrina.  Not long after we were hit harder by Hurricane Rita.  Between those two storms, the Gulf States suffered a terrible blow.  The northern parts of each state were flooded with refugees, both animal and people.  It was a very upsetting and depressing time even if you didn’t suffer directly.  I remember feeling so inadequate because I wasn’t able to physically help and what little money I could afford to contribute seemed so small.  I think at the time I needed to focus on a story of survival because the news was full of horror stories about death and destruction.  I wrote this short novel about a group of animals who survive despite being left behind when their owners are forced to evacuate without them. 

What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
The short novel Furred & Feathered Friends is my first published book.  My story “The Dog and the Nike” has been accepted for publication in a short story anthology entitled “That One Last Shoe” edited by Betsy A. Riley which is due out in 2012.  My full-length novel The Witness Wore Fur is also due out in 2012.  All three books have been, or are going to be published by Betsy’s private imprint, Blue Dragon Press. 


"First-time author, Nancy Clark Townsend, should be very proud of Katrina Castaways. I loved how she swept me through the story, introducing each of the Castaways, their back story, and how they overcame hardship and fear to band together and preserve their home until rescue arrived. I have always loved stories where the animals communicated, and this one was both charming and delightful. Like any Disney tale, I could see the cats, dogs and the parrot working together to overcome their physical limitations. Humorous, sweet and memorable. I felt the ending could have been less abrupt. However, maybe that was just me wanting to read more. I highly recommend Katrina Castaways to all who love a well-told animal story." --
by Kimberley D. Kozlowski "Kimberley Dehn, author"

What ages do you direct your books?

Most of my novels and short stories are written for adults.  However, a teacher in a Texas middle school showed my short novel, Furred & Feathered Friends: Katrina Castaways to her colleagues and they have expressed an interest in it.  Those children are generally seventh and eighth graders, but it’s a simple book.  It could be read by and certainly read to younger children. 

Nancy, tell us where to find your books.

 Book (fantasy) - Furred & Feathered Friends: Katrina Castaways (short novel)

            By Nancy Clark Townsend

   (Kindle ASIN: B0076UH1JK) & paperback

            www.barnes& (Nook BN ID: 2940014021029)

   (paperback ISBN-13:978-0-9837356-1-8)

 The anthology, That One Left Shoe,  includes my short story "The Dog and the Nike".
Book sales will benefit the Carroll County chapter of the Maryland Writers' Association CCMWA)

Book (suspense/romance) - The Witness Wore Fur (full-length novel)
             By Nancy Clark Townsend

                                                 To be released in Spring 2012

Do your books have a teaching objective?  If so, what is it?

I didn’t write Furred & Feathered Friends: Katrina Castaways  with a teaching objective in mind, nor did I write it for children.  I think it is a book that will be enjoyed by all ages of readers if they are as crazy about animals as I am.  I was pleasantly surprised when a woman in Texas wrote to me that she has shared the link to Furred & Feathered Friends with some of the reading teachers in the middle school where she teaches. She said that in order to spike interest they are always looking for ways to connect learning with real life or things their students are familiar with.  Texas was impacted by both Hurricane Katrina and Rita – Katrina sent thousands of refugees to their state and Rita did tremendous physical damage, displacing and killing even more people and animals.   

How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

I avoid the names of people I know or have known and I use the Writer’s Digest book, Character Naming Sourcebook,  to help me name my characters.  Sometimes I use the actual names of cities or towns, but if I’m writing about a small town and I think the story might offend its residents I make up a name.  In that case I check my Atlas to try and avoid using the name of any real town in a particular state.   I am not, however, above using the names of the many animal friends I’ve had over the years.  I like to think they would be delighted.  Four of my characters in Furred & Feathered Friends: Katrina Castaways are based on animal friends from my past – Bruno, a large Newfoundland dog; Fawn, a little fawn-colored Chihuahua; Will, a yellow cat; and Jasmine, a Siamese cat.  The black and white pointer dog that is a main character in my upcoming novel The Witness Wore Fur is based on and named after my dog, Luke who came to me as a stray and adopted me.  I tend to use animals I’ve known as characters in my novels.  It is my way of memorializing them.   

How did you develop the character/s of your in each of your books (If you have more that one)?

I get the idea for a story or novel first.  Usually I have a vague thought of what the protagonists should be like, but I don’t plan them out.  Like people they tend to grow and change on their own and I follow their lead.  I keep a list of the characters, even if they are peripheral (barely mentioned), and I write down everything about them even though sometimes it’s not specifically mentioned in the book.  I’m sure that most of my characters have bits and pieces in them of not only me but of people I have known, but I try not to make it obvious.
Is there a unique character or a recurring character if you have more than one published or to be published book? 
I don’t have recurring characters – they come to life in one novel.  I think all my characters are unique in one way or another – at least I try to create them that way.  However, since Furred & Feathered Friends: Katrina Castaways has been so well received I find myself wondering – hmm, is there another adventure awaiting Bruno and friends?  I found it very difficult to part with them.

What is your favorite thing about your books? 

My favorite thing is the writing itself.  People ask me if I have a hobby, like crafts, knitting, sewing and so on.  I have to say that writing has always been my hobby.  I should get a bumper sticker that reads, “I’d rather be writing”.

Is your book illustrated?  If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience? 

My book, “Furred & Feathered Friends: Katrina Castaways” isn’t illustrated, although the paperback version has some great animal silhouettes and paw prints that my publisher, Betsy A. Riley of Blue Dragon Press ( put in as segment dividers.  It definitely adds to the story.  However, I believe that the cover of a book is very important in attracting readers.  Betsy designed the front and back cover of this paperback and did a really fabulous job.  She also designed the cover for my upcoming novel The Witness Wore Fur.  It has been a great experience working with Betsy all around.  I’ve heard that some publishers don’t give authors any say with regard to the cover but from the beginning Betsy sent me her various ideas and I had a great deal of input. 

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre? 

As for my little trip down fantasy lane with “Furred & Feathered Friends”, it is not generally a genre I’m that comfortable with – it just happened to work.  I believe in the saying “write what you know”.  I would never try to write a purely medical or political novel or a book about spies or the military.  I don’t know enough about those genres.  I couldn’t pull it off even with technical assistance.  On the other hand, I know a lot about romance – I’ve been married and widowed three times and engaged once to a man who died before we were able to marry.  I have had my share of boyfriends before, in between and after.  So I know a great deal about love and relationships.  My favorite TV shows and reading material tend to be suspense and mystery with a smattering of romance – I love lawyers and lawmen.  I was also a legal secretary for many years, so I weave a lot of that knowledge into my stories.  I had a great many animal friends so I rarely write a story without animals involved.  I’ve written a couple of stories that involve harness racing because my second husband was a driver and trainer.   

Why and when did you begin writing? 

I grew up in a reading family and my earliest memories are of being read to.  I think that
 background plays a crucial part in becoming an avid reader and that is also necessary to 
become a writer.  I began writing when I was about eight years old.  I don’t recall why except I always enjoyed playing “let’s pretend”.  I think reading and writing fiction is an older child and adult’s way of being able to play “let’s pretend” without feeling silly.  If I have any regret it’s that I didn’t try harder years ago to get published.

 What is your writing schedule?
 I’m retired so I don’t have a set schedule.  I write whenever the mood strikes me and I don’t feel pressured to do something else – like housework or shopping.  Of course my dogs, Luke and Buddy, don’t take too kindly to being ignored – fortunately they like to sleep a lot.  When they’re awake I have to make time for feeding, walking, rubbing tummies and playing.   In addition to working on my projects I spend some time writing on line.  I belong to an AARP community group called Writing Memoir that I recommend to seniors out there even if you aren’t a writer ( and look up Community and Groups.  I also spend time posting on a small private website – Advanced Writer’s Workshop.  That is actually how I came to be published because Betsy A. Riley is the Administrator and a member.  I shared my rough story about the Katrina castaways; she read it and now it’s a published book. 

 What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

I’m in the process of helping my publisher, Blue Dragon Press, to edit my full length novel, “The Witness Wore Fur”.  A widow finds a dog that has been stabbed in the woods behind her home and she and a State Police Senior Investigator meet and fall in love.  The story evolves around who, what, when, why and how the dog was stabbed.  Otherwise I plan to edit novels I have already written over the last two decades – one at a time – for as long as I’m mentally and physically able.  If I achieve some success then perhaps my children will decide to publish the novels I leave behind.  I do have an idea for a new novel, but that’s all it is right now – an idea. 

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published? 

Keep writing.  Keep writing.  Keep writing.  Don’t give up.  There are so many venues now with e-books, print-on-demand, the Internet, self-publishing.  The world is wide open to you so explore your possibilities.  Network.  Make friends with other writers.  I think we are a generous group of people and always willing to help others to achieve their dreams.  Become involved with on-line writing groups and your state and local writer’s associations.  Just be cautious in how much you share because unfortunately there are those who would steal it and make it their own. 

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers? 

I think the future is wide open for authors in all genres.  The venues may change but I really hope the time doesn’t come when books as we know them disappear.  I love to curl up with a good book hard cover or paperback book, and at this point I don’t own a Nook or Kindle e-book. 

What do you do when you are not writing? 

I am Treasurer for my United Methodist church, and have led a number of adult Bible studies in the past couple of years.  I’m preparing a study now on “The Passion and Death of Jesus” but admit I’ve been somewhat sidetracked by what is going on in my writing life.  I have two wonderful dog companions who do their best to get me up in the morning when they decide it’s time – who needs an alarm clock.  They also make sure I do my chores (like feeding them).  There’s Buddy the adorable mixed breed who is 9 and Luke a handsome black and white pointer who is about three.  Both wandered into my yard as starving and abandoned older puppies and promptly adopted me because they recognized a soft touch.  They are much smarter than me.  I also enjoy interactive games on line – Scrabble and a similar word game, Lexulous, through Facebook.  I’m an avid advocate on Facebook for a number of animal rescue groups and animals that need to be saved from kill shelters. 

Anything else you would like to add?

Although I enjoy the writing I don’t care for the business end of the process.  I am so grateful
 that my publisher took all that off my shoulders.  I have a few good friends to thank for 
encouraging me and helping my dream come to fruition - bbdunne, Sara Van der Wansem, and the author Kimberly Dehn – not to mention Betsy A. Riley and Blue Dragon Press. 
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
I was unable to have children, so my first husband and I adopted two infants – a girl at 6 weeks and 3 years later a boy at 4 weeks.  Those were my supreme “made it” moments – becoming a mother.  I’ve lived an interesting life despite its ups and downs, and I have a lot of great memories mixed in with life’s inevitable struggles and tragedies.  I had to pass up one of my “made it” moments many years ago because my family came first.  I had the opportunity to work in the District Office of a newly elected Congressman.  I had been his Assistant Legislative Secretary during the time he served in the New York State Assembly.  I knew it was a job that would require many long hours away from my husband and children, so I turned it down.  He went on to serve twenty years in the House of Representatives so I have had some regrets about that, but on the other hand I know I did the right thing.  It took me 74 years to get here, but publishing “Furred & Feathered Friends: Katrina Castaways” is definitely a “made it” moment.  I’m PUBLISHED! Wow! 

I have an author page on the Blue Dragon Press website ( and also at author and cat-lover Kimberley Dehn’s website (  If anyone would like to write to me I'd love to hear from them –

Note from Sylvia: You can visit my other blog at: features my journey of writing my new book, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts. Book trailer and more.