Welcome to Day 7 of the “COMES THIS TIME TO FLOAT” Blog Tour! @stephengeez #FreshInkGroup

Geez Float Tour Guest-blogger Placard Feb 2020 07

Salutations!

Hey! You’ve made it to the last day of 7! One more time, I would like to thank my esteemed host for sharing some blog space today.

I hope to interest you story-likers in trying my first book in way too many years, this my only collection of short fiction: Comes this Time to Float: 19 Short Stories by Stephen Geez.

You could add another “by Stephen Geez” to that, as I put the moniker in the subtitle, too. I’d be forcing it to find a theme, except maybe that all my stories try to look at something I think is important, but told in a decorative sort of way. Written here and there among novels over two decades, they show a variety of genres and styles, as I get restless. Now they’re tucked between jacketed hard covers and softs, or in e-however-you-likes.

The Payoff

Today I’m going to link you to my blog to see if your comment randomly earned you a free book. There you will also find a link to an audio version of the story sampled below and posted in full online. If you’ve been impressed by any of these tales,  check out my widely varying novels and collection of memoir essays. Find any blogs you miss on the Events page at 4WillsPublishing.com, link below. Be sure to follow our hosts’ blogs and discover their writing, maybe post a thank-you-too.

And you, I thank, too.

Stephen Geez Author Icon 2020 800wide

A Geez Author Blurb

Stephen Geez grew up in the Detroit suburbs during the American-auto domination. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. He retired from scripting/producing television and composing/producing television music, then expanded his small literary management firm into indie-publisher and multi-media company Fresh Ink Group. Now he works from a deck overlooking the lake in north Alabama, helping other writers share their compelling narratives with the world. 

The Book Blurb

Prepare to think as you explore these wildly disparate literary short stories by author, composer, and producer Stephen Geez. Avoiding any single genre, this collection showcases Geez’s storytelling from southern gothic to contemporary drama to coming-of-age, humor, sci-fi, and fantasy—all finessed to say something about who we are and what we seek. Some of these have been passed around enough to need a shot of penicillin, others so virgin they have never known the seductive gaze of a reader’s eyes. So when life’s currents get to pulling too hard, don’t fight it, just open the book and discover nineteen new ways of going with the flow, because NOW more than ever Comes this Time to Float.

The Promo Video

<emb>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0wJSjEtqhk</emb>

Today’s Sample: “Veneer”

In the end, bad weather turned out to be what pierced the veneer.

Two uniforms pounded on the door, demanding entry and using her name like they had a right. She remained frozen, barely breathing, her stroke-addled leg throbbing, finger twitching on the trigger of Daddy’s rifle.

Bam bam bam! “Mizzus Heidway!” came the door-muffled call of Sheriff Dander, his voice a rumble under that drone of wicked downpour shotgunning the tin roof. “Now, y’alls got to come with us! They’s evacuatin’ the whole valley!”

Twenty years since Mama died and left her the house, twenty years since Iris came back to live the South Alabama life she’d fled hoping never to return, twenty years running all her errands in nearby towns to avoid in-yer-business local busybodies, yet now these uniforms had the gall to come uninvited right onto an old woman’s property.

“If you’re in there, you’s got to come out now!”

Nothing is what she ever got to do, especially for two bullies with badges. She’d seen Sheriff Dander on the news a few times, always under investigation for some kind of brutality. Seems like the kind of person who wants to be a cop is the one who has no business being one.

Letting her screen door slam, the intruders retreated into a frenzy of rain. Iris Heidway hobbled to the window and peeked through the curtains. A county van packed with busybodies turned around, then rocked and swayed its way back up the hill, splashing through a frantic gravel-washer streaming down the rutted road. She couldn’t see herself climbing in with that mob, or wedged between all those so-and-so’s at some makeshift shelter, everybody grabbing and hugging, you’ll be okay honey this’ll be over soon anything you need just let us know . . .  Touchers pretend they’re doing something for you, but they’re the ones tricked by a fool’s notion of connection. Anybody lays a hand on Iris Heidway, he’ll be lucky to get it back. 

The Whole Story

It’s the top post, but I’ll add the precise URL to the comments below. Be sure to come back here!

https://freshinkgroup.com/fig-shorts/veneer/ 

The Audio-short

Okay, find “Veneer” along with the other two in my YouTube channel, precise link on my blog today.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA2kP6eBIs7nUtOzrH7ObBw

 

Comes this Time to Float 1000p high

Find the Book Now

Should be just about everywhere, but here are the biggies:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/comes+this+time+to+float?_requestid=1776240

https://www.amazon.com/Comes-this-Time-Float-Stories-ebook/dp/B0846WY2HZ/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=comes+this+time+to+float&qid=1582276112&sr=8-1

 

 

 

Other Places I Lurk

https://twitter.com/stephengeez

Instagram: StephenGeezWriter

https://StephenGeez.com

https://StephenGeez.Wordpress.com

Thank you for supporting this author and his tour.  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please drop in on this author’s 4WillsPub tour page. 
If you’d like to schedule your own 4WillsPub blog tour to promote your book(s), you may do so by clicking HERE. 
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Interview with Rebecca Hubbard, author of “The Gift”

 

Rebecca Hubbard Author PhotoHello readers! I’d like to introduce you to Rebecca Hubbard. Rebecca is a native Texan, who enjoys spending time with friends and family, including her two dogs, Idgie and Sully, and her two horses, Cash and Cloud. She also loves to read, paint and garden.

Please tell us a bit about your book, The Gift:

“The Gift” is a story about a young girl, Pip, who receives a horse for her birthday and her desire to have a best friend. She believes that the horse she names Buck should be her best friend because he was given to her. She learns that in order to have a friend she has to develop a friendship. She struggles with how to do this and misinterprets Buck’s behavior. From her father she learns how to understand Buck’s perspective and how to develop a friendship with him. The story is told from the perspective of Pip and the perspective of Buck. From Buck, we learn how he interprets Pip’s behavior and how he feels about the things she does to try to make friends with him. We also learn about the things that bring him joy and what causes him to feel afraid. It is a story about understanding one another, patience and developing a true friendship.

The Gift by Rebecca Hubbard

Where did the story idea come from?

The seed of the idea came from an interaction that I witnessed between a girl who desperately wanted to be friends with a horse and the horse completely ignored her existence. Something about that interaction and the heartbreak the girl felt played over and over in my mind. My business partner at the time kept asking me to write a story about a kid and a horse but I felt I didn’t write those types of stories so I tried to ignore her request. She, however, would not allow me to ignore it. She asked me frequently when I would write the story, keeping the idea of a story about a kid and a horse in the forefront of my mind. So when my muse struck the interaction between the girl and the horse became my template for “The Gift.”

The Gift is told from two distinctly unique POVs – first from Pip’s POV and then from Buck’s. What made you decide to write the book this way?

This is going to sound silly but I never considered telling the story any other way. I feel that in order to fully understand the story you must hear from both characters. If you only hear Pip’s side of the story, then Buck appears ornery, belligerent and maybe even snobbish. When you hear Buck’s side of the story, you have compassion for him and understand his behavior and may feel that Pip is selfish and ungrateful. Having both points of view makes you appreciate the dynamic that occurs between the two of them. In addition, telling the story from two points of view gave me the flexibility to help children understand that things are not always the way we think they are, and that there are many reasons for the behaviors of others. It also opened up the ability to help children with learning perspective taking and understanding from another’s point of view, allowing for increased sensitivity and compassion.

Can you tell readers a bit about your background with horses?

I was born with the “horse gene.” Folks say you either have it or you don’t. Horses are in my blood. As a child I spent as much time with horses as I possibly could. I would ride my horse for hours pretending I lived in the old west traveling to the mountains or pretending I was a Comanche with excellent horsemanship. I grew up in a rodeo family, so I competed in rodeos on weekends. When I left home for college and started my career I wasn’t able to be around horses. That was a very sad time in my life. I remember the first time I was able to be around a horse after many, many years. I was overcome with emotion. I buried my face in his neck and cried. Later in my career I was able to marry my two loves, horses and therapy, and now I am around horses almost every day. When I drive onto the ranch I am greeted with the site of horses grazing and playing. My whole workday is surrounded by horses and it makes the day so much less stressful than doing traditional therapy.

What types of books do you like to read?

I love to read mysteries, crime novels, westerns, children’s books of all kinds, and some fantasy. When I was younger I would read anything I could get my hands on. My papa set a good example for me about reading. He was an avid reader. He would stay up all night to finish a book. Sometimes I would find him asleep in the chair when I woke up in the mornings. I love books that pull me in and paint such vivid pictures that I lose myself in them.

What would readers be surprised to know about you?

ually an art that develops with mentoring, time and experience. It takes an enormous amount of time and effortPeople who know me very well know I am extremely shy and I avoid being in the spotlight. People ask me how can I can be shy and talk for a living. Well, usually I am only talking to a few people at a time. But early in my career, even doing that was hard. This project has been so important to me that it has pushed me outside my comfort zone but it has been so worth it.

Many authors struggle with self-promotion. Has book marketing and promotion been difficult for you personally?

In August my book will have been out a year and I feel like over the last six months I have just begun to better understand the importance of marketing and how to do it. I think marketing is act

Being shy I struggle with self-promotion. It would be much easier for me if all I had to do was write the books and somehow they sold themselves. But promotion is important to do so I use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I developed a blog, had a book trailer made, and talk about my book at events when asked. I also write guest blogs for Natural Lifemanship.

Should readers be expecting a follow-up Pip and Buck story in the future?

 When I wrote “The Gift” I did not intend for it to be a series. But after completing “The Gift” Pip and Buck continued to stay with me. I am working on the second book now, “Pip and Buck: Saddle Up!” I am considering adding to this book the point of view of the father. This book focuses on the importance of relationships over tasks and things.

How can readers connect with you?

I am on Twitter at @rebeccajhubbard. My website is rebeccahubbardlmft.com. My Facebook page is Rebecca J. Hubbard LMFT. I have a blog Hopeful Scribe and I guest write blogs for Natural Lifemanship.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

The best advice I could give is to write often, write about things you are interested in, things that make you wonder, things that make you think, and things you dream of. Practice describing what you see, what you feel and what you think. Practice perspective taking, spend time observing people and things around you and allow yourself to just feel those things in the moment. Read as much as you can. Every moment in which you are truly present makes your life richer and in turn will make your writing richer too.

MORE ABOUT REBECCA HUBBARD

Rebecca J. Hubbard is a master’s level Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over twenty years of experience working with children and their families. She began writing short stories as a child for her own amusement and enjoyment. Rebecca discovered that she could facilitate the healing of her young clients by writing stories for them.

Currently, Rebecca works at Spirit Reins as a clinician and as the clinical supervisor where she practices Natural Lifemanship, ™ a Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy™ model.

Rebecca encourages readers to connect with her via her Website and Amazon Author Page.

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“The Gift” by Rebecca Hubbard Book Tour & Raffle

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The Gift by Rebecca Hubbard

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  • Paperback:62 pages
  • Publisher:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 23, 2015)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1515181839
  • ISBN-13:978-1515181835

ABOUT THE BOOK

All eleven-year-old Pip wanted was a best friend. When Pip gets a horse for her birthday, she’s delighted. She thinks that the horse she names Buck will be her best friend from the moment that they meet. But she finds out that friendship does not come that easily.

Pip’s father gently guides her so that Pip can discover for herself how to make Buck a true friend. Pip’s new friend, Buck, has a story of his own. After leaving his own herd, to move to Pip’s house, he is looking for a relationship that will help him feel safe. He, too, learns that making a friend takes patience and understanding.

Told from the perspectives of both Pip and Buck, The Gift is a heartwarming and valuable lesson about friendship, trust and love that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

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AND NOW FOR SOMETHING SPECIAL

Character Interview with Pip’s Dad

What was it like for you to watch Pip struggle to make friends with Buck?

Unfortunately, I have had a lot of practice with watching someone I love struggle. Pip’s mama was diagnosed with cancer when Pip was three years old. I watched her fight for her life for two years and watched Pip grieving her loss. It was excruciating to see them both hurting so much and to know there was little I could do. That experience more than anything else, taught me that I cannot take away someone else’s pain, and the only thing I can do is control own emotions.

It’s hard for me to hear how hard things are for Pip and see her confused and upset. I don’t want her to experience any more pain in her life. Losing her mama is more than enough pain for a lifetime. When Pip was smaller I hated to see her cry. The sound of it caused my heart to break. When she was little I did almost anything I could to keep her from crying. That meant I did a lot of things for Pip that maybe she could have done herself. Pip’s mama always said, “There’s no harm in struggling. The harm is in struggling alone when you’re a kid.” I always try to remember that since she isn’t here to remind me.

The truth is it is still hard to see Pip cry but I do things differently now than I did then. I realized that by doing things for Pip I was keeping her from learning. Not only learning how to do things but learning about herself. Pip is a smart kid but she is short on patience. I reckon the way to build patience is to have things that try your patience. But it is hard to watch, that’s for sure. I know it’s my job as her dad to be supportive of her so she has what she needs to be successful in life. I could have gone down to that pasture and worked with Buck myself, but if I did that Pip wouldn’t be any closer to a friendship with him. If you want a friend you have to make a friend yourself. Nobody can do that for you, no matter how hard it is.

Did you worry that it might not be safe to allow Pip to interact with Buck alone?

 No, if I were worried about that I would have never done it. Horses are pretty good at taking care of themselves. The way I see it, if they feel unsafe in a situation they usually run. Unless a horse has been hurt by someone or has something wrong in his brain, he will run if given the chance. If they can’t run for some reason or feel that running isn’t going to solve the problem then they might strike out with a hoof kick or even bite you or run you over. That horse of Pip’s has a good head on his young shoulders. He just hasn’t had much handling, that’s all. I have no worries about Pip’s safety.

What made you give Pip a horse for her 11th birthday?

 I promised Pip’s mama that I would get Pip a horse when Pip was old enough. I think I probably waited too long, eleven is kind of old. I was worried about how hard it would be on Pip and I wanted to protect her. I guess I will always want to do that. Something about your child losing a parent makes you even more protective of them. I wanted to make sure she could handle the feelings I knew would come up and the challenges having a horse would bring. I never worried about the responsibility part of it. Pip is a responsible kid. She gets herself up in the mornings and she does her chores, but she has a hard time hanging in there when things get tough. I knew she was ready to learn how to be responsible for Buck and her eleventh birthday was the perfect opportunity.

How do you know so much about horses?

 Honestly, I don’t think I know that much about horses. My family had a few horses on the farm where I grew up. One of those horses was Kink, a black horse my daddy won in a bet. Kink and I became friends. My daddy and I had a few arguments about how I should treat Kink. He said I should show him who was boss. That just didn’t feel right to me. So I set out to have the kind of relationship with Kink that I wanted. I learned a lot about life from Kink. He taught me how to see things from another set of eyes. When I’m working with a horse, and trying to figure out what to do, I just ask myself what I’d want if I were him.

Do you think Pip’s friendship with Buck will help her throughout life?

 I strongly believe that Pip’s friendship with Buck will help her in many ways, like learning how to pay attention. Paying attention to things is important and that horse is really teaching her how to do that. In this world, paying attention to things is half the battle. If you can pay attention to what you are feeling and thinking then that’s good. If you can do that and pay attention to what someone else might be feeling and thinking then that’s even better. As Pip grows up with Buck they’re going to learn a lot from each another. That friendship will teach her things that friendships with people just can’t.

Like what types of things?

 Well, Buck is teaching Pip how she presents herself to others and what that tells them about her. He is also teaching her how to control her body, her feelings and the intensity of her feelings. From Buck, Pip is beginning to understand her impact on others.

I try to help Pip understand that inside each of us, and all around us, is energy. I think that’s important for her to understand because that’s how animals understand us. For example, when a mountain lion is hunting he has an intense focus on his prey and a strong desire to kill it but on the outside he appears calm. A horse doesn’t pay attention to the outside calm. He feels the intensity from deep inside the mountain lion. That’s the energy he’s responding to when he takes off running so he can keep himself safe.

Horses are very good at noticing when the outside of something and the inside of something don’t match. You can’t feel really angry and pretend that everything is okay and expect a horse to come to you. They won’t. They can feel the anger that’s inside of you in the form of energy. The outside of you isn’t matching the intensity on the inside of you, which makes them even more suspicious and wary of you. Buck is helping Pip understand her energy and the importance of her inside and outside matching.

You know how people are really good at taking something until they can’t take it any longer? It’s confusing for kids for an adult to accept a certain behavior for a long time then one day start hollering at them because the adult is sick and tired of it. Well, horses don’t do that. If they don’t like something from the start they let you know. They might let you know in a small way at first but they’ll keep showing you until you understand that they don’t like it. Horses are real honest and that helps us learn things from them that’s hard to learn from people.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

 Yes, just one more thing. I hear people say that horses are magic because peoples’ lives change from being around them. Believe me, it isn’t magic; it’s hard work. Really getting to know a horse and seeing him as an equal partner in your friendship changes your life. It changes how you communicate, how you interact with others and how you see the world. When you stop trying to control someone else and just control yourself things go much better for everyone. Sometimes you have to help horses learn that they can control themselves, but heck we have to teach our children that too. Relationships with people can teach us the same things if we let them. But most of us won’t let that happen with people. I suppose that’s because people hold on to things and horses give us more opportunities to do things over without bringing the past into it.

Rebecca Hubbard Author Photo 2

ABOUT REBECCA HUBBARD

Rebecca J. Hubbard is a master’s level Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over twenty years of experience working with children and their families. She began writing short stories as a child for her own amusement and enjoyment. Rebecca discovered that she could facilitate the healing of her young clients by writing stories for them.

Currently, Rebecca works at Spirit Reins as a clinician and as the clinical supervisor where she practices Natural Lifemanship, ™ a Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy™ model.

Rebecca is a native Texan, who enjoys spending time with friends and family, including her two dogs, Idgie and Sully, and her two horses, Cash and Cloud. She also loves to read, paint and garden. Rebecca encourages readers to connect with her via her website and Amazon Author Page.

 

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Stacy Harshman and Beamer, The Headstrong Lamb

I’d like to welcome Stacy Harshman, author of Crowning Glory, back to my blog with her special story of Beamer, a headstrong lamb.

Stacy Harshman and Beamer Photo

Beamer

Last year I saved Beamer, one of my best friends from death.

Beamer is a sheep.

After a period of severe depression last year, I moved from New York City to work and live on a therapeutic working ranch community in Vermont.  I needed to be around people and have a meaningful schedule, every day. While I worked on many jobs with people around the ranch the being that opened my heart the most was Beamer

I went to the pasture and hung out with the little bottle baby. He loved being around people. Due to a traumatic birth Beamer had big, bulging eyes and was knock-kneed. But he was a lovable goof. He and I would cuddle together in the field, basking in the sunshine. I was in heaven. This was the best therapy.  One day he put his head down and started backing up like he was going to charge me. I yelled, “Beamer!” and he stopped.

All was well for a while, but then he did it again and this time he rammed me, full force, right in the knees. I had to kick him away.  Then I ran away, over the fence.

Beamer had a botched castration and his hormones had taken over. He began to ram everyone and chase the lady sheep.  I wanted to be exempt from his aggression since we’d spent the summer and fall bonding, but he rammed me just like everyone else. I felt sad that my sweet little sheep wasn’t my friend any more.

The night before the ranch was going to “send him to auction” which meant slaughter, I found out and was heartbroken and responded.

 I’ve heard many accounts that Beamer will be sent to auction soon … maybe even tomorrow.  I find this upsetting on many levels.  

 I know your point of view is that an animal on a farm must be productive.  So, with this mindset, Beamer has no place here.  I disagree with that.  I know spending time with him has calmed and cheered me in a way that was not possible from other people.  That has great value.  

I also believe that a strictly utilitarian philosophy for the farm and the animals here is not in line with the greater mission of the Ranch– which is to help people heal and recover through working together.  The farm should support that mission, not that of a commercial farm, and shipping Beamer off to slaughter without having a discussion will cause distress. I know he has been ramming people, and I understand that is definitely a problem.  But I don’t think this issue is being dealt in a creative, respectful or open manner.  

 I know I am not alone with this.   I just haven’t had time to organize peoples’ voices and since I heard, late tonight, that Beamer will go to auction tomorrow I would not be at peace with myself if I didn’t speak up right now.   

I ask you not to send Beamer to auction tomorrow and open up a dialogue.

My letter worked.  Beamer was given a new home, complete with his own harem of lady sheep.

ABOUT STACY HARSHMAN:

Stacy Harshman recently relocated from NYC to Vermont where she currently works on a therapeutic farm. After a Midwestern childhood in a family of designers, antique dealers, and equestrians, Stacy traveled extensively before finding a home in New York City, which she still maintains.

Always driven toward creative expression, Stacy writes fiction, memoir and essays, and has written and recorded five albums of original music.

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Her passion for color and pattern led to the launch of Andarina Designs, a custom lighting design company. Stacy is inspired by women all over the world, working in community partnerships to produce beautiful and sustainable work. Currently, her favored form of expression is mixed media painting-collages. She devotes her time to animals and to the healing arts.

Stacy invites readers to connect with her on her website and on Facebook.

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Guest Post by Stacy Harshman, Author of Crowning Glory

Stacy Harshman, author of Crowning Glory shares her creative process.

Stacy Harshman Author Photo 2

I’m very kinetic when I create, whether it be writing, painting or making music. When I get inspired, I feel the creative, kinetic idea and energy inside my body. It is a tangible feeling. When I have this feeling, I know I’m going to create something that speaks to me. I might not even know what it is, but I follow that feeling and work until the art on the outside matches/satisfies the feeling I have on the inside.

For example, I’m very inspired by color. I create paintings on glass with dried pressed flowers, special glass paints, and encaustic wax.   I can become completely inspired by the colors in a flower and then I create a palette of paints and waxes around it. Once I have everything ready, I let loose and play. The way I paint is very fluid and playful. I actually pour the paint onto the glass and let it move around and morph into different shapes and blend with other colors. Then, I add flowers and wax and keep building form there. I know when a painting is done. I can feel it. I can also feel when I’ve over-painted it! There’s a fine line!

Stacy Harshman Original Artwork

It makes me happy to create. I feel like it completes something inside of me. When I am anxious and feeling ungrounded, creative expression is what I need. I bring something into the world and then can share it with others. It’s a way of connecting with myself and the world.

ABOUT STACY HARSHMAN:

Stacy Harshman recently relocated from NYC to Vermont where she currently works on a therapeutic farm. After a Midwestern childhood in a family of designers, antique dealers, and equestrians, Stacy traveled extensively before finding a home in New York City, which she still maintains.

Always driven toward creative expression, Stacy writes fiction, memoir and essays, and has written and recorded five albums of original music.

Her passion for color and pattern led to the launch of Andarina Designs, a custom lighting design company. Stacy is inspired by women all over the world, working in community partnerships to produce beautiful and sustainable work. Currently, her favored form of expression is mixed media painting-collages. She devotes her time to animals and to the healing arts.

Stacy invites readers to connect with her on her website and on Facebook.

UPDATE!

7/18/2016

What an honor and terrific prize! I won an original painting by Stacy Harshman and I LOVE IT!

Geri Stacy Harshman Artwork

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Crowning Glory, Stacy Harshman’s SOCIAL EXPERIMENT

An exciting interview and book you’ll want to read!

Crowning Glory by Stacy Harshman Book Tour BannerPlease tell readers a bit about your new book, Crowning Glory:

Crowning glory is a book that is a social experiment combined with a memoir. It started when I bought a long, red wig one late night on eBay. When I put the wig on, I felt transformed into a fiery, sexy and bold woman. When I wore the wig out into the world, people reacted to me very differently. Men and women both stared. One man threw his briefcase down on the ground, kneeled and asked me to take him home with me. I got a lot of attention. And I admit I loved it. I started wondering what it would be like if I had the same long hair, but different colors. How would I feel as a blond or brunette? How would people react to me?

I decided to find out and concocted a 5-week long experiment where I would live the life of a redhead, a blond, a raven-tressed woman and brunette, plus the last week was me with my own hair. I even hired an accomplice/spy to accompany me at all times and record data, like stare stats. The book is about the experiment and the adventures my spy and I have along the way, plus it is the story of my struggles with bipolar disorder and how the experiment helped me heal in ways I couldn’t have predicted.

Your book is certainly a unique one! How did you come up with the idea?

Wearing the initial red wig out and about in Manhattan and getting so much attention gave me the start of the idea. I was amazed at how different I felt — fiery, confident, and fun – which was a huge change from how I had been feeling. I had been fighting a long bout of depression, and this wig wearing was a weird miracle. It helped me feel good and gave me energy.   I decided to do the experiment out of curiosity and also give myself a steady structure and focus.

I was wondering about how I would feel and how people would react to me wearing the same wig but with different hair colors. As I pondered the idea of doing some big hair experiment and writing about it, I walked under David Letterman’s “Late Night” marquee and realized that people do “Stupid Human Tricks.” That was all the encouragement I needed!

What would you say was the most important thing you learned from your experiment?

To avoid comparisons with other people. That’s a hard thing to do. It’s cliché, but if you are jealous of someone then try to improve yourself in those areas you covet, but do it for yourself.

I’m proud of myself for doing the experiment. At the time, I was in a deep depression and a great deal of social anxiety. I needed something drastic to pull me out of it. I was isolating and stuck in my apartment and head. The experiment and spending so much time with my spy/assistant was a big challenge for me. It might sound like a simple thing to do, but it took guts on my part. I had to go against all the internal messages of “No way! I can’t! I won’t …”   I found out I was stronger than I thought. I needed the support, structure and friendship I found in the experiment. That helped me heal.

So, sometimes throwing yourself into something new and scary, even playing dress up for a month straight, can lead to unforgettable adventures and experiences that show you who you really are.

What did you learn about other people?

Other people are affected by your appearance. You are judged by your appearance. I think once someone gets to know you that judgement lessens as they see the bigger/deeper picture of who you are.

What did you learn about yourself?

I’m affected by my own appearance! I judge other people by their appearance, at first, too. I think we all do, on some level. I try to drop that judgement as soon as I have it and have an open mind.

During the experiment, I judged people less and opened up to others much more when I started to feel better and more confident about myself.   I think any negativity or criticism I felt towards others stemmed from the fact I wasn’t happy with, and didn’t have confidence within, myself. I was afraid of being judged “unworthy’ or deemed “unwanted.”

I see from your website that you’re not only an author; you’re an interior designer, an artist and a musician. Tell us a little about each of these aspects of your life:

Well, the writing manifested in “Crowning Glory.” I also have a play called “Portraits of Vivienne” which is right on the verge of being finished. I just have to dive back in and figure out the ending! I also have a children’s book in the works, called “Blub Blub the Baby Blue Whale.” Bulb’s quest is to let the world know about the noise pollution in the ocean, which severely hurts whales and other aquatic mammals.

My music adventures began when I first arrived in NYC, back in 2002. I wrote, played and recorded five albums of music. I mainly sang, but also accompanied myself on keys, which I played out with my guitar player. I had many fun and challenging experiences.

During my interior design career, I sold antique tribal rugs and also created a lighting design company. Sourcing the rugs and then selling them was so much fun for me. I really appreciate, admire and love handmade beauty that has a history. My love of it and enthusiasm carried over into my customers. They were thrilled with there finds and grateful to learn about the history and stories their new pieces of fiber art contained.

I also started a lighting company, called, Andarina Designs.   I was inspired by the antique, colorful glass swizzle sticks that I would see in vintage stores. One day, I saw sunlight shining through a bunch of them and though, “I want to make a lamp out of that.” So, I started to experiment and came up with two different lines of lighting. That was a lot of fun for me.   The first lamps were made with original vintage swizzle sticks. Then I discovered that a huge glass rod color palette was already available. Combining colors and making my own palettes was heavenly!

Where the heck do you find the time to do all these things?

I’ve actually taken a break from living in Manhattan and doing all these things. I’m in Vermont now. I volunteer on a therapeutic farm/ranch. For example, today I’ve been planting onions in the garden, and tomorrow I will be taking care of llamas. I still paint and teach people my multi-media technique here at the ranch.

You’re clearly driven. Where does your ambition and drive come from?

I want to make meaningful art and and have a meaningful connection with people. I think that desire to connect fuels my drive and ambition. Sometimes, I don’t feel connected and that is a painful place to be.

Living in NYC must have been exciting, since it put you right in the center of the arts, fashion and entertainment industry.

Well, my life is very different now since I live in Vermont and work on a farm.   I was having a hard time with depression last year, and I decided I needed to move and get help. So, I came to Vermont, and lived and worked on a Therapeutic Farm called Spring Lake Ranch. I don’t live there anymore, but I do volunteer during the week.

How much has your life changed since moving from your hometown in Illinois?

Wow. I’ve had so many lifetimes since then. I’ve lived in Central America, Europe, Canada, New York and now Vermont.

In Illinois, I lived in a very secluded community and didn’t have much news from or dealings with the outside world. Obviously, this has completely changed.   I do feel like my explorations have led me to a small, working community here in Vermont where I feel more comfortable. So maybe I’m still a country girl afterall.

Do you have any new books in the works?

I want to finish my play, “Portraits of Vivienne.” It deserves to be finished.   I’d also love to find someone to help me with “Blub Blub the Baby Blue Whale.” I really feel strongly about educating kids about the noise pollution in the ocean and what it does to whales and dolphins.

What advice would you give other writers who may be sitting on the fence about publishing their book?

Well, I would first work with an experienced, professional editor before you publish. At first, I didn’t want to do it. I thought my book didn’t need it. My book was well-served by doing this. It gives me reassurance that grammatical issues aren’t going to get in the way.

I really wanted an agent to pick up my book. I was disappointed when that didn’t happen, but I think going ahead and self-publishing is the way to go. I think you should get it out there, in whatever way that works best for you. You’ve worked this long and hard – you and your book deserve to be heard!

Stacy Harshman Author Photo 1

ABOUT STACY HARSHMAN:

Stacy Harshman recently relocated from NYC to Vermont where she currently works on a therapeutic farm. after a Midwestern childhood in a family of designers, antique dealers, and equestrians, Stacy traveled extensively before finding a home in New York City, which she still maintains.

Always driven toward creative expression, Stacy writes fiction, memoir and essays, and has written and recorded five albums of original music.

Her passion for color and pattern led to the launch of Andarina Designs, a custom lighting design company. Stacy is inspired by women all over the world, working in community partnerships to produce beautiful and sustainable work. Currently, her favored form of expression is mixed media painting-collages. She devotes her time to animals and to the healing arts. Stacy invites readers to connect with her on her website and on Facebook.

*Author Interview prepared by Susan Barton, eBook Review Gal.

 

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Q & A with Robert Germaux Author of Hard Court

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Why a novel about a private detective?

I’ve always loved mysteries, starting when I read the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books as a kid. As I got older, I enjoyed Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels, and eventually I also got hooked on the characters of Spenser, Elvis Cole and Myron Bolitar, among others. When I decided to write my first full-length novel, there was no doubt in my mind that my protagonist would be a private detective.

How would you describe Jeremy Barnes, Bob? 

There’s an old line about people you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley. Well, if you did end up in that dark alley with one of those people, JB’s the person you’d want covering your back. He’s a tough guy with a soft spot in his heart for life’s underdogs, and while he’d much rather diffuse a tense situation with his sense of humor, if push comes to shove, he’s more than capable of handling himself that way, too.

Is JB based on anyone in particular?

There’s a little bit of several people I’ve known in JB, but mostly he’s a product of my fertile imagination. Actually, other than the fact that he’s bigger, stronger, younger, smarter and better-looking than I am, we’re remarkably similar

How do you come up with the plots for your books?

It’s a combination of finding subjects I’m knowledgeable about and things I have an interest in. For example, in Leaving the LAW, JB attempts to help a young man who’s involved with gangs at the school where JB used to teach. In the early 90s, I was teaching at a Pittsburgh high school that the local cops called Gang Central, so I had some personal experience with that whole scene.

Why first person narrative?

I can’t imagine writing about JB in any other way. When I write my Jeremy Barnes novels, I’m right there inside his head. At those moments, we’re one and the same. He’s definitely my alter ego.

You’ve said you can’t see yourself ever writing a character interview with Jeremy. Why is that? 

Jeremy exists in the world I created for him, and I’m very comfortable writing about him in that world. But bringing him into this world just doesn’t work for me. It would be sort of like the literary equivalent of breaking the fourth wall in a stage production. I’m sure some authors can pull that off, but I’m not one of them.

Do you have a reading group?

Yes, and the group’s name is Cynthia. As soon as I finish writing a chapter, I give it to my wife. Cynthia knows my characters as well as I do, so I almost always end up using her comments/suggestions.

How important was it for you that Jeremy would have a love interest in the character of Laura Fleming?

I knew from the start that Jeremy would have a woman in his life, a soul mate. The scenes with JB and Laura are my favorite to write, whether they’re discussing one of his cases, talking about her kindergarten kids or just sharing a candlelight dinner at one of Pittsburgh’s hilltop restaurants.

Okay, Bob, last question. Are there other Jeremy Barnes mysteries on the horizon?

I’ve actually written three other books about Jeremy: Small Bytes, Speak Softly and the aforementioned Leaving the LAW. If there’s a demand, I will definitely publish them, too.

Robert Germaux Author Photo

ABOUT ROBERT GERMAUX:

Both my parents were readers. I’m talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it’s no surprise that at an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places.

Hard Court by Robert Germaux Cover Photo REDUCED  (532x800)Although I’ve always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia’s idea was a good one.

Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes. I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write Small Talk and The Backup Husband. Now I’m back and I just released my first Jeremy Barnes novel, Hard Court, on April 11.

In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), going to live theater productions, watching reruns of favorite TV shows such as “Sports Night” and “Gilmore Girls,” and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we’ve been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific and share a romantic dinner in Paris.

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my characters and stories. Please feel free to contact me via my website.

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Advice for aspiring authors: write!

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Advice for aspiring authors: write!

(From an interview with Julie Tetel Andresen by Linda Lee Williams..see link below!)

If you are a writer, you have a story to tell that you can’t not tell. So, you’re killing yourself if you’re gazing at a television screen, driving around, or doing anything other than writing your story – especially because I know that while you’re doing these things, you actually have the story you’re dying to tell roaming around in the back of your head…and it’s frustrating you.

So, end your frustration and write. Of course, a new frustration will arise, namely the difficulty of actually writing. But this new frustration is better than the old one of not writing.

Your job isn’t to determine whether the story is good enough. Your job is to get it down. (Editors come in handy at this point. I would never dream of working without one.) Julie Tetel Andresen

Fascinating Interview With Julie Tetel Andresen Author & World Traveler!

Love and Happiness by Ben Burgess, Jr.

 

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ABOUT “LOVE AND HAPPINESS:

Karen has it all: a handsome husband, beautiful twin daughters, a lovely home and a great job. Karen also has a secret; she’s cheating on her husband, with not one man, but two.

On the outside her life seems perfect, but on the inside Karen feels neglected, bored and unappreciated. Yearning for affection and excitement, she falls into the arms of first Raheem and then Tyrell. Out of fear of losing her husband and breaking up her family, Karen ends the affairs but things don’t turn out how she planned. When Karen’s dirty secrets are revealed she must fight to keep her family together.

Chris is doing all he can to hold his marriage together. He loves Karen but she grows more distant every day. When she starts coming home later and later, he suspects she is being unfaithful. When Chris accidentally takes her cell phone what he finds changes their lives forever.

When tragedy strikes, Karen must decide if she should sacrifice her happiness for her husband’s love, and Chris wonders if he should stay with Karen because he still loves her despite her infidelity. But if they do stay together, will they ever find love and happiness again?

Sexy and relatable, insightful and inspiring, Love and Happiness shows us both sides of Chris and Karen’s story, and reminds us that sometimes to have it all, you must first lose it all.

PURCHASE “LOVE AND HAPPINESS” ON AMAZON.COM HERE

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Love and Happiness is a romance story that makes you think. It’s told from both Karen and Chris’s perspectives so you can see where both of their heads are at. Karen is cheating on her husband Chris, with not one man, but two. On the outside, her life seems perfect, but on the inside, Karen feels neglected. Out of fear of losing Chris and breaking up her family, Karen ends the affairs but when Karen’s dirty secrets are revealed,
Karen must decide if she should sacrifice her happiness for her husband’s love, and Chris wonders if he should stay with Karen because he still loves her despite her infidelity.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Where do your story ideas come from?

My first novel “Monster” was based on my personal life and experiences.

My second novel “Wounded” came about while I was actually working on “Love and Happiness.”

“Ken” from “Monster” makes a cameo appearance in “Love and Happiness.” I didn’t want fans to think I was a one trick pony or feel that my book was derivative so I was stuck with how I would write it.

My co-workers (Who happened to be lesbians) asked me to write a book with a Lesbian protagonist. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be possible since I wasn’t a woman, and I knew nothing about being Gay or the LGBT community. My co-workers decided to
take me to a Lesbian bar. (They took me to the Cubbyhole, which is the first bar I mentioned in Wounded.) After going there with them and talking to the women, I decided to work on the book. To make the book feel as authentic as possible, I did a lot of research. I interviewed fifteen women and five couples, to hear their thoughts, feelings, and philosophies about being a Lesbian, and life. I also used one of my family members as a basis for my character development, so I felt personally invested in creating “Samantha.”

For my latest novel “Love and Happiness,” I used real life relationships as m
y inspiration. I talked to several married and divorced couples. I asked them what they enjoyed and hated with marriage. I wanted to know what they wish they could change or what they regretted not doing. With all of my novels, my goal is to make people think. I want to help people see things from different perspectives to help the world to be more open minded.

Do you have a favorite character?

My favorite character to write would have to be Karen because she was more of a challenge. To write as a woman when you are a male is hard. I did a lot of research. I interviewed close to twenty women, asking them all types of questions about marriage and infidelity. It’s a lot of work to develop a female character as a male author, but I loved showing the different layers of her personality.

Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in her 8th-grade class, I read Richard Wright’s “Native Son” I r
ead that book, and it was life changing for me. I knew I wanted to one day write something that could have the same effect on people. Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? While in 8th grade, my English teacher Mrs. Marcus gave the class a poetry assignment. My poem was on basketball. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I remember my teacher was blown away by it. She encouraged me to keep writing. She was
one of my most influential teachers, and I promised her if I ever wrote a book, I would write a poem about the Holocaust for her. (She was Jewish and had family that were survivors.) My dream was to publish a poetry book. I continued to write throughout high school and college.

How do you work through writer’s block?

When I have writers block, I do several things. Sometimes, I’ll force myself to continue writing. Sometimes, I’ll read a book that is a different topic than the one I’m writing. Sometimes, I’ll take a break from writing altogether to recharge my creative batteries.

What do you think makes a good story?

I think a strong plot with strong dialogue and believable characters help to make a good story.

Do you think most authors understand the importance of marketing their own work?

I think most authors have difficulty marketing their book because there isn’t an exact formula for success with marketing your book. What works for some authors, might not work for another. I try to observe different authors and stick with what I found helped and was effective.

What are some of your methods for self-promotion? To sell your book effectively, I believe it starts with you. You have to talk to all types of people. Personally, I set a goal to sell (5) paperbacks a day to five complete strangers. To sell a lot of books, people have to know your book exists. I search for credible reviewers on Amazon and Goodreads. I also do research on the internet for other well know reviewers. Word of mouth is definitely important, but it can only go so far. I use all of the popular social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest) to advertise. I use press releases, advertise in local newspapers, and enter book contest to promote and spark interests for potential readers and reviewers.

What’s your writing schedule like?

I write whenever I have the time or as soon as I have an idea. I have a Samsung Note 5 so if an idea comes to mind, I literally write it down or use the voice memos to record my thoughts and write them out when I get time. I try to write something every day, even if it’s only a paragraph. I’m a huge perfectionist so I’m constantly editing and re-editing while I’m writing. Once my project is completed, I edit again to try to make my work the best it can be. When I’m writing, I can have music or a movie playing in the background, but I totally zone out and focus on writing. I turn the internet off when I’m working on my laptop because honestly, I usually end up looking at Facebook or checking out stuff on ESPN.

To include my daughter in my writing process, she puts her desk next to mine while I’m writing and practices writing her letters and/or doing her homework.

What kinds of things do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love playing with my daughter. I like doing puzzles with her or playing sports with her. I love basketball and boxing. Those are two of my favorite sports. I love to read of course, and I’m a big movie buff. I love going to the movies and watching all types of movies.

Who would you say has been a major influence in your life?Ben Burgess Author w: daughter

My biggest inspiration/motivation is my daughter. As a parent, I want nothing but the best for my child. I look at her as an extension of myself. I didn’t have a great childhood. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, I was insecure about myself, I lived in poverty, and I missed out on opportunities due to a lack of funds. While my childhood wasn’t the best, I had a great role model – my mother. I watched my mom struggle to pay bills, work two jobs, put herself through school all the way up to her doctorate, and moved us out of the dangerous neighborhood we lived in, into a house in the suburbs. She did all of these tasks on her own. My mother did the best she could to push for me to have better opportunities than she did. She drove me to want more out of myself and to become the best person I could be.

That is exactly what I wish to do for my child. I want to instill in her that strong work ethic and will. I want her to realize that with hard work and dedication, she can do anything she puts her mind to. I want her to see how I juggle being an NYPD detective, personal trainer, father, and author. I love her, and I want to be that positive role model she looks up to like my Mother was for me. Every achievement, every award, every acknowledgment I receive, I want her to understand that I put 100% into everything I do. I pray that it pushes her to be a great person.

Do you ever use friends, family members or acquaintances as character models?

I love to people watch and I’m constantly thinking, so when I observed different relationships I felt this book “Love and Happiness” needed to be written. I felt the story would help both men and women think and that is what I always try to do when I’m telling a story. When I’m developing my characters, I like them to be layered. I don’t want to make perfect characters because no one is perfect. I develop characters that have strengths and flaws because I feel that makes it easier for readers to connect. I put pieces of myself into every character, but I also look at the personality traits of strangers, family, and friends to inspire me for my character development. I like to do research also by interviewing strangers to get different perspectives on topics.

How do you deal with criticism?

There are different strokes for different folks. There will be some that just don’t feel my style of writing or the story I’m telling. In this business, you have to have thick skin, you can’t take everything personal. I listen to constructive criticism that I feel is helpful. As a writer, I try to work on my flaws and improve with every book, but it’s impossible to please everyone. I work hard to write stories I believe a majority of people will enjoy.

What types of books do you like to read? I

like to read Urban/African American Fiction, Drama, and Contemporary Romance. What would readers be surprised to know about you? I think readers would be surprised to know that I’m actually an NYPD Detective.

If you could spend the day with a famous author who would it be?

I would want to spend the day with my favorite author, Eric Jerome Dickey. He was crucial in my decision to become an author. He has also supported me and has given me advice about the literary industry.

How would you spend the day together?

I would probably ask him questions about the industry.

Are you working on anything new now?

My next project is titled “Daddy’s Girl” Which will be a story of the trials and tribulations of a single father raising a bi-racial daughter on his own. The daughter character in this book will be “Lynn” from my first novel “Monster.” Here, you will see her origin, and learn more about her character. After that novel, I will begin working on another book called “Black and White.”

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

There will be lots of times when you want to give up. There will be times when people will talk bad about your book or sales might be low. Never give up. Believe in yourself and believe in your work. Listen to critiques and push your pride to the side. It doesn’t matter how great of a writer you think you are, you can always improve.t of a writer you think you are, you can always improve.

There will be those who will not be fans of your writing, but you should never give up. Keep growing and learning your craft. Edit and re-edit. (*always have your books professionally edited. You want people to take your book seriously and not feel that it is amateurish.) Learn from your mistakes, take classes and read other authors. Research the industry.

Two of the most important things to do are:

1. Find a credible editor

2. Promote, promote, promote!

You have to put your heart and soul into your work. While it will be hard and you will go through trials and tribulations, in the end, it’s worth it when your book is entertaining people and it’s successful.

Ben Burgess Author

 

ABOUT BEN BURGESS JR

Ben Burgess Jr is the author of the award winning novels “Monster”, “Wounded”, the poetry book “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange” and the new novel “Love and Happiness”

He is an active performer of spoken word poetry. Ben uses his love of writing to inspire and influence youths to strive for what they believe in, and to never give up on their dreams. His poetry book “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange” and his novel “Monster” are currently used in schools on the lower east side of Manhattan.

Ben Burgess has a BA degree in Business Management, and a MA degree in Educational Leadership. He is the proud father of his daughter Jaelynn and is active in trying to improve urban neighborhoods and communities.

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CONNECT WITH BEN

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AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

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