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.

Ben Burgess Author Award

CONNECT WITH BEN

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Treat Yourself to Celtic Romance for Valentine’s Day with Grá mo Chroí

I wish to introduce you to Ali Isaac  and Jane Dougherty.

I met Jane during the aliMARSocial Author of the Year Competition with her book, The Dark Citadel.

Today, I am helping her and her co-author Ali Isaac promote their latest release, Grá mo Chroí‘ (Love of my Heart).

Jane Doughtery

Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty are writers with a shared heritage.

Ali has woven that heritage into the fabric of her stories about Conor Kelly and his adventures in the Otherworld.

Jane consistently slips references to the old stories and the old heroes into all of her novels.

book cover

Long ago in a green island surrounded by protective mists, a people lived among the relics of a bygone age of which they knew nothing, not being archaeologists, but around whom they created a mythology.They were a volatile people, easily moved to love or war, and motivated by a strict sense of honour. They had women warriors and handsome lovers, wicked queens and cruel kings, precious heroines and flawed heroes. Magic was in the air, beneath the ground, and in the waves of the sea, and hyperbole was the stuff of stories. They were the Irish, and these are a few retellings of some of their beautiful stories.

This collection of retellings of some of the great love stories from Irish mythology is our tribute to this culture which has so captivated us. Love in the Iron Age, as you will see, did not have the benefit of Disney. The Ancient Irish had to contend with far more violence than modern lovers, and their ideas of what constituted happiness were not necessarily the same as ours. An Irish princess was not going to languish at the top of an ivory tower waiting for a knight in shining armour. She was much more likely to get on her horse and drag him out of his bed with a curse if he hung about too long. But in many ways, love through the ages has not changed one iota. Grief, sorrow and passion are all there in spadesful.

If the only thing you know about Irish mythology is Saint Patrick, serpents, and Leprechauns, it’s about time you read this collection. If you like what you see, this could be the start of a life changing experience.

Here is a short excerpt from the first story in the collection,

The Tragedy of Bailé and Aillinn 

Bailé, the soft-spoken, left Emain Macha in the north to meet Aillinn, his betrothed. Rare was such a wedding host, and uncommonly joyful. For the king of Ulster’s only son and the daughter of the king of Leinster had made a love match. Even the sun shone bright on Bailé’s journey, the hounds danced and milled about the horses’ legs, fancy bridle bits sang silver songs in the wind, and the company was filled with joy.

Bailé left behind his own lands of Ulster, the blue lochs and gorse-yellow hills where the eagles cried. Before him, beyond the purple peaks of home, lay the low, wooded hills and the rich plains of Leinster. He saw his Aillinn in the contours of the hills, in the white plumage of the swans on the river. She was soft as new grass and spring foals, wild as the March wind, and generous as the blackbird singing to the world. His heart was full of joy that soon they would be wed and their union would bind together her rich beauty of soft hills and birdsong, and his wild majesty of the eagle and the red deer.

If you like the sound of the world of the ancient Irish, treat yourself to a little Celtic romance for Valentine’s Day. You can get Grá mo Chroí here:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Jane can be found on her blog, www.janedoughertywrites.com, on her Facebook author page , or tweeting. You can find out more about her on Goodreads, and all her books are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

You will find Ali Isaac pottering about most days on her blog: www.aliisaacstoryteller.com, her Facebook author page, or tweeting. Alternatively, you can email her at: ali@aliisaacstoryteller.com or aliisaacstoryteller.com@gmail.com. Her books are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Christian-Paranormal: Callie C. Colbert didn’t pick the genre; IT Picked HER!

FREE BOOKS! FREE BOOKS! FREE BOOKS!

Today and Tomorrow ONLY, You can download copies of ALL 3  of Callie C. Colbert’s books!

Callie C. Colbert is a delightful person and a very busy author. As she says, ”  write. I drink coffee. I write some more. J I write books, song lyrics, and poetry.

callie2

We met via running in the same MARSocial circles (Shout Out to Coleman Weeks!) and when I saw what she was writing, I knew I wanted to feature her on my blog. I’ve never heard of the Christian-Paranormal genre until now. See what can be gained by interviewing a variety of authors?

And the timing could be better! With her new release “Graze the Night” hot off the pres…upload!

“God first, family and friends second, and writing third.

Everything else will fall into place.”

Genre: Paranormal/horror, psychological thriller, Christian-paranormal (I didn’t pick my genre. IT picked ME.)

Provide and enticing, titillating, interesting, or fun fact about your book or series: ‘Graze the Night’ is written in first person. It also leaves the readers to draw their own conclusions as to whether or not the cop is insane or a victim of the paranormal. I had a great time writing it.

The Tibuens: Lexie’s Journey, Book I

Threads of Reality: Lexie’s Journey, Book II

And now a some exciting facts about Callie:

Tell us about your books:

I write all sorts of things into my books…spirituality, horror, paranormal, etc. so that covers a wide spectrum. One of my reviewers basically said I did a great job of working in a Christian aspect without becoming “preachy.” If you like paranormal, horror, etc. it’s there. If you like something uplifting and spiritual, it’s there as well.

Wow! You’re covering a lot of ground. I’m looking forward to reading them.  So tell me, what does your writing process look like?

My writing process varies, depending on my mood. The stories come to me much like watching parts of a movie in my head. I write those sections down and work at filling in the rest. While I am doing that, more of the story comes to me. It’s interesting because I get to watch the story unfold as I write it. I don’t know where the story is going at that point any more than a reader would. I get anxious to see what my characters will do next! It can take months for this whole process to happen.

There are times when I can’t write down the words fast enough, but then there are times when I really have to work hard at filling it in. It seems to always be one or the other. I’m not disciplined as well as several other authors I know; it is very difficult for me to sit down and tell myself I will complete x amount of words/chapters before I get up. It just doesn’t happen like that for me. It goes in spurts. The characters tell me what to write. I just roll with it.

That sounds very much like my own technique. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I can’t believe I am going to admit this. The majority of the time, I like to have a horror movie playing on the television while I write. Once in awhile, I like peace and quiet. Occasionally I will play classic rock, spiritual, or contemporary Christian music. Yes, I do understand this probably makes me bi-polar in my writing. J

Yep, you pretty much just diagnosed yourself! J I like having movies that fit what I’m writing playing in the background as well. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?

Writing physical fight scenes seems to be my most difficult task. I want to learn and grow as a writer so that I will get better at that. All writer’s have things they need to work on…none of us are exempt. I can see the fight scene playing in my head, but putting that into writing seems to be difficult for me. Fighting in dialogue form comes much more easily for me.

I’ve been there! Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

I love all aspects of spirituality, and I respect everyone’s choices in that area. However, I personally couldn’t write anything promoting cults, hate, etc. It’s just a personal choice. My books have plenty of evil/negative elements, but they are always tempered with life lessons and love.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series? T

hey just came to me. I don’t have to sit down and go through any long process of coming up with titles. They are just ‘there’. I still have to research them to make sure they are not in use, though.

I usually change my titles two or three times. Just as your books inspire other authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Stephen King is a very prolific writer, and I admire his style very much. 

Stephen King keeps coming up as an answer and I’d have to agree, 100%.

Billy Graham has also written some amazing books. Again, I understand I am bi-polar when it comes to writing. J There are some indie authors that I absolutely admire, and I enjoy reading their work. James McAllister, Rachel Dyson, Coleman Weeks and Pamela Winn instantly come to mind. Chris Tucker, who interviewed me awhile back, writes a zombie series that reminds me of ‘The Walking Dead’, which is my favorite television show. Each has a different writing style and genre, but they are ALL very talented writers, as well as good people. The writing world is insane; we have to stick together! J

I think we need to re-evaluate your self diagnosis…you’re not bi-polar; more like schizophrenic! J But have no fear! You are in good company! I think it is important for a writer to be a well rounded reader as well. The world can be a dark and scary place, and reading how others put that into words can be very helpful in working out how your own characters express themselves. So…you go for it! Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

My favorite character is Lexie, the little spirit-girl from the ‘Lexie’s Journey’ series. She is growing mentally and spiritually through each book. Alicia, from ‘The Tibuens’ and Jo from ‘Threads of Reality’ are also admirable characters. They both ‘come into their own’ through the process of each story.

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

My least favorite character is Badgeal from ‘The Tibuens’. It’s a love/hate thing. He plays a very important, necessary role in the story. He’s arrogant, deceitful, mean-spirited, and conniving. In fact, he is just evil-as-sin in the very literal sense of the word.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name-choosing resources you recommend?

I never use a name-choosing resource. The names of my characters just come to me. There is no changing the names once that happens, because that is just who each character is. I did run a contest to name the characters in ‘Threads’ prior to writing it, but none of them fit. As the story itself continued to develop in my head, the character’s just ‘had their own names’ and that is how it was. That is how it works when I write.

I’m pretty good about sticking with a name, but I have one character that I’ve changed his name three times and another guy has had two. What can we expect from you in the future? I

hope to write at least one more book in the ‘Lexie’ series, but I suspect there will be more than that. I also plan to work on my doctoral dissertation in the fall, but that depends on where I am at concerning a new book.

The stories hit me from nowhere…so I never know WHEN a new one will come to me. Once it’s in my head, it begs to be written so that is what I do. If I don’t, the characters will bug me until I DO write their story. J It’s not really an option for me. I don’t, and can’t, put a story on a back-burner unless there are crucial, critical things going on in my life during that time that require my full attention.

“When a character is born, he acquires at once such an independence, even of his own author, that he can be imagined by everybody even in many other situations where the author never dreamed of placing him; and so he acquires for himself a meaning which the author never thought of giving him.”

Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author

So, lets have some fun!  Have you ever been in trouble with the police?

Well…I HAVE spent plenty of time in a jail, but not for the reasons you might think. I was a security officer and then a police officer for many years, so I am actually on the other end of the spectrum. I saw the bars from the front side. J So no, I have never been in trouble with the law.

Good for you! Thank you for your service and protection. Serisoulsy. Now tell us, what is your favorite snack food?

My favorite snack set-up is Flipside crackers with cheese and summer sausage, along with a fruit/veggie tray. Additionally, I have to have a pot of Starbuck’s coffee brewing all the time as well as a large cup filled half with Sprite and half with water. Chocolate, as well, is a necessity.

Let me tell you the best “how to drink hotel coffee” recipe that I came up with while traveling for my real job.

Empty a package of hot chocolate milk into the bottom of the cup.

Fill the cup 3/4 full of robust coffee

Stir in 3 tiny containers of French Vanilla liquid creamer.

At least it is an improvement!

What is your biggest fear?

My biggest fear is that I will write something that no one is touched by. I want to know that at least ONE of my readers could either relate to a character, or at least have empathy for that character. I write to entertain, but I also write to touch people.

What literary character is most like you?

I would say the character that is most like me, or vice-versa, is Alicia from ‘The Tibuens’. She has some rough edges and is going through hell in her life. As the story develops, she becomes a strong force to be reckoned with, yet maintains her huge heart.

She sounds awesome!

Do you make up your bed every morning?

It really bothers me if my bed isn’t made every morning before work.

What is on your bed right now?

Right now I have sheets, a comforter, two regular pillows, three throw pillows and a teddy bear on my bed. J Additionally, I have one of those really soft, fluffy blankets that I like to throw in the dryer, and then curl up in. It’s folded up at the foot of my bed for easy access.

Sounds cozy! 

Please describe something you ‘deleted’ from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit The Delete Key!

‘The Tibuens: Lexie’s Journey, Book I’ went from about eighty-thousand words to just over fifty-thousand. My friend and fellow author, Rachel Dyson, taught me ALL about using the delete key. I wrote down the sections that came to me, but when I worked at filling in the rest, I had way too much going on in it. I had sub-plots within sub-plots within sub plots. My imagination took over and, well, the rest is history. Although, as the author, I knew everything about the story, it didn’t read that way to others. It was too hard to follow and went in far too many directions.

After months of tearful re-writes and pouting as I pulled out numerous plot lines, the story began to work better and I was able to maintain everything I wanted, which was to write an entertaining story that contained life lessons. I didn’t have to sacrifice my characters whatsoever…I just had to pull some of the fifty plots that were going on. I also maintained the ‘good vs. evil’ component, which was the basis for the book. Essentially, I pulled out a full book from my novel. I remember making a Facebook post about it. It was something along the lines of: “That moment…when there’s thirty-thousand words laying on the cutting-room floor, but it reads so much better than it ever did before!!”

It was a painful lesson. For many authors, including myself, we put pen to paper and create a story, characters, etc. and that work becomes a part of us. We get attached to the characters. We get excited about the plot. To pull that much from my novel was very emotional and I actually considered giving up at one point. But, like all of us, I had to learn that lesson, and I have utilized the delete key more than once in my new book.

You can maintain everything great about your story while cutting it down. It’s not only possible, it’s a good idea to help the reader be able to really understand your ‘key points’. Sometimes too much is just that…too much. Sometimes less is better. Sometimes the delete key can be your friend.

NOW THAT IS IMPRESSIVE EDITING!!!! Congratulations! I think you’re the winner, winner, chicken dinner for the most text deleted in a single story.

I just wish I had an appropriate prize for that!

For more information on Callie C. Colbert

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

Awards and Speaking Engagements: I have received awards for my poetry as well as for other writing ventures. I have also been listed as one of the Admiral’s favorite authors at http://www.Fortiter Publishing.com. My next venture is to have print versions of my books. I have just published ‘Threads of Reality: Lexie’s Journey, Book II’ and it is now available, with my other books, on Amazon.