The  Sunday Spotlight, with poet Cooper Wilhelm @cooperwilhelm

Something about my writing:



I really like the idea of poetry as having someone else in the room with you. I focus a lot on loss and the idea of trying to build a little escarpment in the passage of time. Poetry can be a way of holding onto things, especially yourself. I have my first-full length book (DUMBHEART/STUPIDFACE) coming out in September and a lot of it has to do with that.

Something about me:

I like how poetry feels like an occult practice (I wrote a microchapbook about necromancy and breakups and Walt Whitman). I also do a radio show where I interview witches and other occult scholars/practitioners about the “dark arts.”

Social media and so on:

Twitter: @cooperwilhelm // instagram: @cbwilhelm //

Website with publications and stuff: cooperwilhelm.com / poetryandstrangers.com


                                              {•}

                        Share this Post and Tag me

                       Facebook Twitter Instagram

                    Want to leave a tip? Buy me a Coffee!

Advertisements

THE SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT with POET ISABELLE KENYON@kenyon_isabelle

I started writing about 7 years ago – but seeing as I’m only 21, my writing style and content has definitely evolved! Writing has always been a way of formulating my feelings and often, a way of doing justice to them. At the moment, grief perpetrates my writing – not necessarily in a depressing manner, but as an inspiration to do justice to past happy memories. Next for my writing is the release of the extended edition of my first chapbook, This is not a Spectacle – a full anthology by this Xmas!

About Me: I’m based in Greater Manchester – although I am soon to move to Guildford…I have a passion for (other than writing) theatre and dance. My favourite writers are Sylvia Plath, Cornelia Funke and so many others.
kenyon_isabelle

flyonthewallpoetry.co.uk

                                                {•}

                        Share this Post and Tag me

                       Facebook Twitter Instagram

                    Want to leave a tip? Buy me a Coffee!

The SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT with CHILDREN’S book AUTHOR PATRICIA FURSTENBERG @PatFurstenberg

Katie, thank you for inviting me here! I was the student always scribbling a story on the back of her notebooks. And when there wasn’t enough time to read, I would be reading on my way to the bus station, a 15 min walk.

I find myself influenced by what I read, and I gravitate towards books that fill my soul, ignite my imagination and speak to my heart. Poetry and history, past and present, possibility and certainty. 

I write for children, mostly. Writing children’s literature is like having a good laugh with your best friend, it makes me happy. It is also a challenge, taking grownup concepts and wrapping them in bright, child-friendly packages. In an era of technology and terrorism, children need joy, books and imagination in their lives, more than ever before. Books make us human.
I write about friendship between unusual animals, about breaking barriers where friends are concerned. I write about diversity and about acceptance and love. And I write everywhere I am. In my car, at the semaphore light, a quick note in my notebook. I write in my head as I drive. I write before I fall asleep; some of my best ideas come to me in that no-man’s-land, when your body is suspended between reality and dreamland. Of course, most of my writing is done in my oasis, at my writing desk.

I have just finished a trio of children’s books depicting, in rhyme and with bright, happy illustrations, wonderful friendships formed between unusual animals. I have a few other stories bursting to come out on paper though. So excited! 

I live in South Africa with my wonderful family and our two dogs. Coffee fuels me. My family supports me. When I don’t write I love to read, read, read, drink coffee (again!), listen to music and dance. I am a big fan of “Gilmore Girls”, “Outlander” and “Frasier”. 

I am the author of “Happy Friends”, of the Amazon Bestseller “Joyful Trouble”, “Puppy, 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles” (out October 31st), “The Lion and the Dog”, “The Elephant and the Sheep”, “The Cheetah and the Dog” (these three will have the Cover Reveal on October 31st at jessiecahalin.com and will be released on the 12th of November)
I also write the Sunday column for Mypuppyclub.net and I am a contributor for the Huffington Post SA.

CONNECT WITH PATRICIA FURSTENBERG

Author Website // Amazon UK // AmazonUS

Huffington Post SA // Goodreads // Twitter // Facebook // LinkedIn

THE BOOKS

Puppy, 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles: What happens when puppy is full of good intentions, yet his actions go wrong?

The Lion and the Dog: What a Wonderful World it is when a lion and a dog share a bond stronger than any animal or human rule.

The Cheetah and the Dog: The unlikely friendship between a wild animal and a dog or, when friendship bonds you it doesn’t matter what you look like.

The Elephant and the Sheep: Imagine a world where love and kindness can solve any problem.

                                               {•}

                        Share this Post and Tag me

                       Facebook Twitter Instagram

                    Want to leave a tip? Buy me a Coffee!

THE SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT, with ETHAN SHANTIE, a WRITER & MUSICIAN. 

My name is Ethan Shantie and I’m from Potsdam, New York. As of late I have been publishing poetry, but I also write fiction and have worked as a freelance writer for Life with Films and New York States of Mind. 

I have released two books of poetry – a chapbook called “Poems for Danielle Steel’s Purple Prose,” (2013) through Many Moons Press in Saranac Lake, NY and a full length collection entitled “We Meet by Accident” (2016) through Ghost City Press.

“We Meet by Accident” deals in large part with loss, death, and how small events have a lasting effect on our lives. I have been working with Kevin Bertolero to release a Poetry Mixtape featuring many Ghost City Writers and plan to work on a new chapbook this summer. I have been writing poetry since 2008 when I studied at SUNY Potsdam under Pulitzer Prize nominated poet, Dr. Maurice Kenny. 

Some of my favorite writers include Stephen King, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Cormac McCarthy, all of whom have wonderful poetic voices that have influenced my own. 

In addition to writing, I play in an experimental punk band called Sunflo’er. We have released one full length LP, “1963,” (2015) through Magnetic Eye Records of Albany, NY. We have recently released a collection of three EPs, have been featured on two compilations through our record label, and are set to record a second full length album this summer. I play drums, sing (yell), and write lyrics for the band. 

Other excerpts from my collection can be found on my Instagram @ethansunfloer. My band can be found on Instagram @SunfloerNY, on facebook at facebook.com/SunfloerNY and at sunfloer.bandcamp.com. 

                                              {•}

                        Share this Post and Tag me

                       Facebook Twitter Instagram

                    Want to leave a tip? Buy me a Coffee!

The SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT with JOHN CONNOR @connor_rev a HOSPICE CHAPLAIN who likes to PLAY THE DRUMS perform STAND-UP COMEDY & is the WRITER of NONFICTION book THE STRAITJACKET OF PERFECTIONISM


When did you start writing:



I started writing in High School, in Humble Texas.  (A place that is now flooded from Hurricane Harvey, unfortunately.  Bless them, and I’m thankful many people are volunteering in the Houston area to help out.)  My first piece was a science fiction short story. It was so trite that I later found out, perusing Writer’s Market, that everybody had the idea before me: see, it was a futuristic short story in which — surprise! — the last man and woman left after the space battle are actually Adam and Eve who then begin earth’s humanity.  What?!  I wasn’t the first to think of it?!   “No Adam and Eve stories,” is what sci-fi magazines were saying.

Why do you write:



I now focus on psychological and spiritual growth in my writing. My first book, “The Straitjacket of Perfectionism: how to stop chasing ‘perfect’ and finally achieve your greatest goals” is an example. It springs from my own experience in discovering how unrecognized perfectionism is such a killer of creativity. Using strategies to overcome perfectionism helps you actualize your dreams.

The book started out years ago as a lecture and workshop. It is so rewarding to see “the light go on” for people, when they realize how perfectionism has held them back. Folks are so appreciative to learn how to overcome those unhelpful internal standards.

What influences your writing:



I seek to have a conversational style, since I am writing nonfiction.  Although they are not influences in a sense, because I largely wrote my book before reading theirs, I am drawn to Brene Brown (Daring Greatly, and others) and Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking).

Which genres do you write in:



I write nonfiction self-help. In the 90’s I did stand-up comedy for a few years, so I wrote comedy then.  You can see a few minutes of my stand-up from about 15 years ago, if you search “John Connor – comedy” on youtube. You may have to scroll past videos about The Terminator….

Where do you write: 



I often write at Starbucks, where I just took this photo.  

I also have a desk at my home.  When I had kids at home, I was able to get chunks of writing done by getting a local hotel room for a couple of nights. I totally recommend it.  Just don’t get distracted by all the cable TV, the swimming pool, and the mini-bar…

What is next for your writing etc.: 



My next two books I’m working on simultaneously.  Well, dilly-dallying on, more accurately. One is called, “The Gold in Your Wounds: how our tragedies and hurts can be portals to new awareness and new life.”  The other is not titled yet — open to suggestions! — but it is based on my work as a hospice chaplain.  
Specifically, it is a guide for volunteers and non-professional church chaplains on spiritual care for dying congregants.

Something about you:

Hmmm, my passions and hobbies? Well, to the degree that you can be in love with an inanimate object, I am in love with my 12-string Martin guitar. My playing and singing is amateur, but I enjoy it, and my hospice patients and co-workers seem to like it, too.  However, I need to start learning some happy songs, because all the stuff I love to sing are melancholy tunes from the Neil Young, Carole King, Eagles canon, with a little Pearl Jam and Pink Floyd thrown in. Any suggestions, anyone? I also hack away at the drums, which is fun.

I live in Austin, Texas USA, and have been blissfully here for over 30 years.

PUBLICATIONS include some articles in The Huffington Post  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-connor/seeing-uncertainty-as-a-g_b_11121550.html,

Unity Magazine, Austin American-Statesman and Austin Chronicle newspapers.


“Well written and entertaining, this book is full of helpful advice. I recognized myself in some of the stories – and I bet you will too! Don’t waste time criticizing yourself. Use your time instead reading this book and trying the tips within it!”

— Cindy Wigglesworth Author of SQ21: The Twenty- One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence 

Excerpt


“It would be bad enough if perfectionism kept you from trying only new hobbies, learning a new language, and joining your friends at karaoke. And it does do all that. But the real harm is that perfectionism prevents you from following your dreams, from attempting the deepest desires of your heart, because it carries such a great internal risk if you fail.

An example of this is if, say, you want to write a novel. You will likely stop writing it a third of the way through the rst draft. One reason is that you know you’ll be crushed if you send it around to the publishing houses and they all reject it. at’s because you have an internal sense that a great novelist is not only what you want to be, but maybe Who You Are. So the book either stays in your drawer or you tweak it here and there every few months. If you keep the book in your desk, it always “has potential” and might someday be ready to be sent out and published.

But the book’s never ready, is it? So your dreams, your deepest desires, remain on hold.


You and I know deep down that this is no way to live. And we don’t have to live that way. You can overcome chasing perfection and constantly failing to catch it. You can be someone who strives for excellence and who accepts mistakes and setbacks along the way.

The biggest mistake of all is to stop attempting anything in order to avoid making mistakes. Every ice skater, for example, falls down many times in the beginning. It is a given: You can’t escape falling while you learn to skate. Yet those falls aren’t failure, they are learning. As perfectionists, we make unrealistic assumptions about what our own standards of performance should be. So if we choose to ice-skate, we expect to be able to do a triple toe loop our first time out.


Come with me, and we will wrestle this inner perfectionist to the ground together. And then you’ll be amazed at all the creativity and bravery within you, just waiting to come out.”


–John Connor, The Straitjacket of Perfectionism

Follow John Connor on Twitter @connor_rev and on his author page on Facebook: JohnConnor.Writer

                                                 {•}

                        Share this Post and Tag me

                       Facebook Twitter Instagram

                    Want to leave a tip? Buy me a Coffee!

@danecobain is in The SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT. He tells us all about life as a MUSICIAN & FREELANCE WRITER. 

Something about your writing:



I started writing when I was a teenager, beginning with songs and poetry and moving into journals, fiction and non-fiction. I write because I’m compelled to – I feel uncomfortable when I’m not writing and try to do it as much as possible. In terms of influences, I generally try to write books that I’d want to read myself, so I suppose I’m influenced by my favourite writers (like Graham Greene, Charles Bukowski, Terry Pratchett, etc.). I’ve just released an anthology called Subject Verb Object, which brings together contributions from eighteen different authors – you can find that at http://www.danecobain.com/svo. My next release will be a detective novel called Driven, which is currently going through edits. It’s a sort of 21st century take on the old school cosy detective novel.

Something about you:



I love reading, writing, making music and learning stuff. I play guitar and sing and find it to be a great way to unwind after a long day of writing. I live in High Wycombe, UK, with my girlfriend Becca and my cat, Biggie. He’s on Instagram and Facebook, you should follow him. I recently quit my day job to start up as a full-time freelance writer, mostly writing blog posts, ebooks and other stuff for marketers. 

I currently have six books on the market:


                                                   {•}

                            Facebook Twitter Instagram

                                     Buy me a Coffee!

The SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT with CAROLINE WEBBER, author of SURVIVING CHILDHOOD. 


When did you start writing:

I was a journalist starting in the ’60’s and I started my book Surviving Childhood January 1988!

Why do you write:

I love words and their ability to portray life.

What influences your writing:

People, places, memories.

Which genres do you write in:

Fiction, true life, semi-autobiography and bios.

What themes are in your writing:

Childhood, abuse, experiences, life in general.

Where do you write:

At my desk! 

What is next for your writing:

2/3rd’s of the way through writing an adult book about an intricate love story (I’ll update you about this, hopefully within 30 years, lol).

Something about me:



Interests: 

reading, theatre, music

Hobbies:

writing.

Passions:

family, friends and life.

Country of residence:

England.

Pets:

none.

Favourite writers/artists:

Nora Roberts, Harland Coben, Micheal Connelly, Jane Austin and Shakespeare.

Previous publications:

Short story called The Dream in a collection of authors from Avon.

Can poverty, deprivation and child abuse ever be overcome by sheer strength of character and willpower?

JILLY JAMES never realised that when researching a dull, historical project about caring, fostering and adoption in the early 1950s, she would unleash such turmoil. If only she had known that in delving into their past, it would be such a tremendous struggle to come to terms with her own. Did she want to face a deeply-buried memory and change forever her “idyllic” childhood?

Through her keyboard she weaves the true story of the Grigg children for a television drama/documentary series in the face of constant criticism and derision until it reaches an astonishing conclusion.

Caroline Webber worked in the newspaper and television industries for many years before leaving to take up a freelance career. Amongst many other activities, she wrote and directed for a well-known (non-professional) theatre company in Bristol. She was a co-founder & Editor of a paper campaigning for the rights of local communities which was fortunate in having many distinguished contributing columnists.

Surviving Childhood is her first novel.

Paperback 978-1-78719-064-1 £9.99

Hardback 978-1-78719-065-8 £16.99

To purchase Surviving Childhood, visit Amazon 

Review copies available on request – contact details below 

For interview, comment and information from New Generation Publishing, email: info@newgeneration-publishing.com or call 01234 711 956

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Blog  // Twitter – @Author_Bristol // Facebook  // LinkedIn 

                                                    {•}

                           Facebook Twitter Instagram

                                     Buy me a Coffee!

The SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT with POET MARC D BROWN. 



1,
Marc, tell those that might be reading this when, and why, you started writing, and which genres you write in

I started writing poetry and little horror stories when I was around aged 15-16 years old. I had always loved music but couldn’t play an instrument or sing so I started writing sets of lyrics and as time went on they got a little more mature and poetic. Regarding the horror writings, I love scary movies and am a big fan of the teen slasher genre from the 70’s & 80’s – films like Halloween, Prom Night, Nightmare on Elm Street etc so I’ve always wanted to write a movie style teen slasher story to reignite that genre…that’s how I’d like it to happen anyway. (Fun fact – Aged 7 my big brother and sister forced me to watch Nightmare on Elm Street part 2, I’ve never been the same since hahaha.)


2,
When was it you realised you had a talent for writing poetry?

In secondary school my English teacher really pushed me, she saw that I enjoyed writing and got me to learn to be as descriptive as possible, build a world with only words. (I’m still learning).


3,
You have published two poetry collections, and I have noticed your development. How often do you write? Do you stick to a particular routine, or is it a case of when inspiration strikes?

It’s definitely a case of when inspiration strikes. I’ve tried forcing myself before and it’s terrible… it’s not real. That’s why I’m proud of my latest book ‘The Lost Art of Self’ it took just over 4 years to write…nothing was forced, everything was written when it was felt.


4,
Your first poetry collection has been updated. What changes have you made to the book, and why?

Semi minor things really, when I first wrote it, I was that eager to put it into the world that I never got a proofreader…I was torn to pieces by a few so it had to all be checked over. Other than that, just updated social media details.


5,
Who, or what, has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Music has ALWAYS been the biggest influence and always will be. I’m inspired by it all…from Chopin to The Doors to The Dillinger Escape Plan. I love music!


6,
Which methods do you use to share/promote your work, and which do you find the most effective?

I only really use social media such as Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. Twitter used to be the most effective when I started…I got into indie publishing while it was kind of new-ish/really taking over and everyone one wanted free books on Kindle promo days no matter what the genre. I once did a weekend promotion and got just shy of 1000 downloads…it was amazing! Nowadays I’m lucky if I get 30 over a weekend. I feel I’m going to have to start paying to be promoted now.



7,
What are you hoping to achieve with your writing?

It sounds morbid but I want to create something, a reflection of myself to be remembered when I’m dead.


8,
What are your future ambitions for your writing?

I want to write my first full length novel, a good horror story!


9,
Other than writing, what else are you passionate about?

My wife and my two huskies, Misha & Mako. I like to go to the gym a lot with my wife. I also enjoy gaming, I love my xbox’s.


10,
Finally, do you have any words of advice (or caution!) for fellow writers?

Get a proofreader! Never be afraid to go back and change things and like everything else…you only get out what you put in, so keep pushing yourself.

                                                  {•}

                          Facebook Twitter Instagram

                                      Buy me a Coffee! 

The SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT, with ELIZABETH HUTCHINSON BERNARD, author of HISTORICAL SUSPENSE novel THE BEAUTY DOCTOR. 

Tell me a little about your writing?

I would say that the style of my writing is pretty traditional, meaning that it tends more toward Edith Wharton (The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence) than, let’s say, Paula Hawkins (Girl on the Train). One of the contemporary writers whom I admire most is Sarah Waters. As you might guess, I’m a Downton Abbey fan. What I prefer to read and the dramas I enjoy are, for the most part, historical fiction—so that’s what I write. But I’m also into suspense and mystery, which is a big part of what people seem to like about my novel, The Beauty Doctor.    

When did you start writing?

I wrote my first mystery book, or at least 50 typewritten pages of it, growing up in Illinois, during the summer between the fifth and sixth grades. Though I hadn’t yet finished my story, when classes started again I showed it to the school librarian who assured me absolutely I could get it published. That was the first and last time anyone has been so unequivocally encouraging! Anyway, by the time I reached my early 20s I had become sidetracked by my interest in music. I toured for nearly a decade as a singer and flutist.  I did a lot of songwriting. After that, I got involved in public relations and marketing for the international music trade and settled in California. Fast forward, a few years later I’m in New York City as Communications Director for a professional society of about 2000 plastic surgeons. Quite a switch! I was also the Executive Editor of their peer-reviewed journal on cosmetic surgery. All this time, my fiction writing was on the back burner. Then about six years ago, I decided it was time to turn up the heat. Writing is essentially all I do now.  

Why do you write?

I still believe that music is the highest form of communication that we have as human beings.  But I also love words, and I always knew I would come back to them sooner or later. I remember distinctly one of my professors in college telling me, “You were born to write.” That was really special to me, but maybe I didn’t quite believe it at the time.  I knew that I was good with words, but I hadn’t yet figured out what I really wanted to say. Now I know—more or less.  Of course, it’s different with each book

What themes are in your writing?

The Beauty Doctor is my way of examining the social and moral implications of beauty in the course of telling an intriguing story that I hope will engage readers. I like to write about the struggles of women determined to pursue their dreams, even when society tells them they can’t. Part of that comes from my interest in history, especially the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. And part comes from my own life. I did a lot of things in my youth that were unusual for a woman—like fronting a rock band. My next historical novel, by the way, is about music. It’s called Temptation Rag

Where do you write?

I have an office in my house done in dark wood with a big stone fireplace—very soothing. It’s a space that I share with my husband. If we didn’t work at our computers in the same room, I’m afraid we wouldn’t see much of each other. I have a computer monitor on my desk and a second one built into a bookcase with a shelf that slides out to create a very cool standing computer. Since both monitors are attached to the same computer, I can switch back and forth from sitting to standing very easily.  I try to stand as much as possible, though, because it’s healthier. I tend to get very focused on my writing, such that I can go for hours without stopping.

What is next for your writing?

My historical novel Temptation Rag should be available for preorder within the next couple of months, with a release date in June 2018. The story opens in 1896, when ragtime music began to sweep over New York City in what soon became a frenzied wave. A fortunate few rode on its crest for a couple of decades before it came crashing down. My story follows the interwoven lives of three famous ragtime musicians—their lust for fame, their loves and betrayals, and their ultimate longing for redemption. An interesting side note is that one of the main characters, Mike Bernard (known as the Ragtime King of the World), is my husband’s grandfather.

Something about you?

Hmmm.  I’m selfish enough to want to be an artist. I’m married to a very sweet and fantastically funny guy. I love dogs. And, nearly all the time, I feel like about the luckiest person in the world. I have no complaints.

Please tell us about your current release.

The Beauty Doctor is the story of Abigail Platford, a young woman of the Edwardian era, whose fascination with the world of medicine leads her down an unexpectedly dark path. Abigail’s father was a physician, and it had always been her dream to follow in his footsteps—to become a doctor and devote her life to serving New York City‘s poorest. But his sudden death, for which she feels responsible, changes everything. Penniless and adrift, she happens to meet the flamboyant Dr. Franklin Rome and is persuaded to accept a position as his office assistant, never imagining the bizarre world she is about to enter and the web of treachery in which she soon will become entangled. 
The following excerpt, from Chapter 2, takes place during Abigail’s second meeting with Dr. Rome, at which she learns that he is, in fact, a beauty doctor and that he wants her to help him promote his practice. 

                                                {•}

“Oh—you’re a beauty doctor.” The inflection in her voice no doubt came across as somewhat disparaging. She dipped her head in an effort to obscure the visual evidence of her skepticism beneath the plethora of ostrich feathers emanating from the brim of her blue velvet hat.  

“Just imagine it for a moment, Miss Platford,” he said, seeming not to have noticed anything disturbing in her reaction. “Your mere presence by my side would stimulate in any average woman an intense longing for beauty; then, arising quite naturally from that, an urgent curiosity.  With just a hint, she would be eager to learn what I offer in the way of beautifying procedures. That’s how one goes about building a thriving beauty practice. Stimulate the need, offer the solution. Or, if you prefer, think of it this way—you would be helping to enlighten women about advances that can greatly enhance their lives. It’s no different than selling a product—a product that people would certainly buy if they only knew its benefits.”

So he wanted her to help him sell the concept of beauty surgery to other women? That was not what a doctor does! To participate in such activities would be a compromise of everything she believed in. “So your idea is to use me as a sort of walking advertisement?”  

“I wouldn’t put it exactly like that.”  

“Forgive me for being blunt, but are you really a doctor?”   

He gave her a scorchingly indignant look, shoving aside his coffee cup, nearly knocking it over in the process. “Would I call myself a doctor if I wasn’t one?”   

“I don’t mean to offend you,” she said, again regretting her lack of decorum. “It’s just that I don’t know of any other doctors who are engaged in your kind of work.”

“That’s because no medical school in this country has yet had the foresight to embrace transformative surgery. That’s why it was necessary for me to receive advanced training in Europe. As a matter of fact, I returned from Paris only recently.”

“But you did train in medicine? Here in America?”

“Certainly, though that doesn’t make me any more enamored of our system. The medical establishment is very set in its ways, I’m afraid. It resists anything that might challenge the status quo. And that is exactly what transformative surgery does. The social implications are immense.  It represents, in fact, possibly the greatest force for the empowerment of women in all of human history.”

“Empowerment of women!” Despite her disappointment, she had to smile. “I’m sorry, but I don’t see what your transformative surgery could possibly have to do with the movement for women’s rights.”   

“Maybe you’ve never thought of it this way but, simply put, beauty is power,” said Dr. Rome, with the calm certainty of a man who knows he speaks the truth. “And with enough power, Miss Platford, one can achieve anything.”

She remembered what her father had always told her: As a woman, her looks meant she would need to work doubly hard to convince others that she had a brain. “I’m afraid I can’t agree.  Besides, I wouldn’t feel comfortable encouraging vanity. It’s not a trait that I find admirable.”  

“Rubbish!” He leaned back in his chair with an exasperated sigh, as if weary of confronting attitudes like hers. But when he spoke, his tone and manner were conciliatory. “That’s fine for a Sunday school lesson, but in the real world, appearances are everything. Beauty is a woman’s greatest asset and the most reliable predictor of her future happiness. What you naturally possess, my dear, many others covet and believe impossible to attain. But what do you think they would give if they could achieve it? Not entirely, of course. But maybe half your beauty? A third?  Maybe just enough to feel there was, after all, hope?”

“So your patients will be paying you for hope. If that’s all they stand to gain, I doubt they’d feel it money well spent.”  

“Hope is only the beginning. Ultimately, what I offer is happiness. They say money can’t buy it, but I’m here to prove them wrong.” 


The Beauty Doctor is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks, and Kobo.  For more about Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard, including her historical fiction-lovers’ blog, “Style and Substance,” visit EHBernard.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

                                                 {•}

                   Facebook Twitter Instagram Newsletter

                                     Buy me a Coffee!

The SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT. MICHAEL AMPERSANT, author of GREEN EYES & an EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT of THIS IS HEAVEN. 

When did you start writing?




When a friend of my mother got a typewriter. I was eight years old then and would spend hours sitting there just typing. Then I got a typewriter myself and moved into poetry, writing 20 poems per day. That was in the tradition of automatic writing, the idea was not to think at all while typing (side remark: Truman Capote about Jack Kérouac: “He doesn’t write, he types.”). I wrote scientific books during my academic career, and I started my non-academic writing with a feature script, FREEDOM FRIES, which tells the alternative history of George W. Bush’s retirement (Bush, the 43rd president, has a change of heart). I couldn’t get it produced, of course, and then tried to turn the script into a novel, getting about half-way…I lost faith because of libel-concerns—Dick Cheney, Bush’s vice-president, orders the murder of Bush at one point in the story. 

I then started a blog, and wrote a lot of blog posts, rashly, quickly, which gave me some confidence. My first novel, the GREEN EYES, the prequel to my new book, evolved from an unprintable piece of porn I wrote around a picture by Joe Phillips, Latino Boy, but said piece of porn ended on a cliff-hanger, so I had to write another piece (which also ended on a cliff-hanger, and so on), and after a few pieces I knew I had the material for a book. So, in some sense, the GREEN EYES were written by accident. My new book, THIS IS HEAVEN, is a sequel to the Green Eyes.

Why do you write?




Good Question. I asked this myself already at the age of eight sitting behind the typewriter of mother’s friend. I enjoy it.

What influences your writing?


As to authors, the major influence would be Mark Twain. As a boy, I must have read TOM SAWYER twenty times. I shouldn’t compare myself to Twain of course, but the way he pokes fun at the world, that’s what I’m trying to do.

Other writers? Let’s mention just one, David Foster Wallace, the author of INFINITE JEST. He’s so good, he’s somehow beyond style. I started reading Infinite Jest while already writing the Green Eyes and discovered that he was using lots of tricks I had just invented for myself. Very encouraging.  

Which genres do you write in?




The Freedom Fries is alternative contemporary history. The Green Eyes is erotic romance, and the sequel, This Is Heaven, is an erotic thriller. I started a YA novel, THE SENATOR AND I, which is sci-fi (in some sense). But regardless what I’m doing, it usually turns into a Fast Action Comedy. 

What themes are in your writing? 




The two fiction books I’ve finished are fairly erotic, and fairly explicit in places. So, sex would be a theme. But it’s not the principle message. There’s this aphorism by Mark Twain: It’s easier to fool people than convince them that they get fooled.  That’s what I’m writing about. Highly topical in the age of Trump, I’d say. I’m interested in language, and lots of my writing is about language and how it’s used and misused. I’m also interested in politics. Here’s one little fragment from This Is Heaven (with Nick, the owner of Nick’s Restaurant, speaking):

“People have a right to forget,” he says. “Think of slavery. That wasn’t ‘slavery’ at all—that was ‘our peculiar institution.’ ‘Suffragette’—that was our term of derision for a bunch of uppity bitches. ‘Miscegenation’—that was miss, you understand, and illegal to boot. ‘Separate but equal’—my God, we swore by it until fucking Truman put them all in the same bunkbeds. And Brown versus Schoolboard—have you seen the clips, Brown emanating from a court hearing, and the entire American press stalking him with sneers and laughter ‘cuz he’s black and wannabe white? And now you guys, with your rainbow marriage. There’s only one solution for real Americans, who have never, ever, been racist, or misogynists, or segregationist, or anti-Semitic, or homophobic, or whatever was wrong with us in the past—or will be wrong with us in the future—and that’s forgetfulness.”




Where do you write?




In bed, behind my desk, and, since I got a new computer with a better battery, outside on the balcony. 

What’s next for you in writing?



I have plans for a play, a comedy of manners, Oscar Wilde style, set mildly in the future, about an aging psychoanalyst, Sarah. Her household robot, Robbie, is 25 years old, and gradually falling apart. It’s a piece about emotions—why we love our dogs, or our robots. Okay, a little bit more: it’s Sarah’s 50th birthday, and when she and her then-boyfriend David broke up 25 years ago, he promised to show up at her 50th birthday, regardless. David moved on to found the company RobotsAreUs, now the world’s leading robot maker. Robbie was his first, experimental creation…

 

At the moment, I’m writing—well at the moment I’m writing this interview—but otherwise I’m taking notes about a piece about Donald Trump (of course), titled “Trump Is a Symptom, Not the Cause,” which will try to explain his phenomenon as a consequence of modern information technology (shortening attentions spans, outsourcing of memory, etc). I’m also thinking about a third book of the GREEN EYES series, titled “The Yellow Parrot” in which the green-eyed lead character Alex has to solve the puzzle of the disappearance of said parrot, the pet of a famous, NYC-based art critic. Spoiler alert: the parrot is rumored to have a sixth sense for the art market, and got itself abducted by a vicious hedge fund manager dealing in contemporary art.

Something about you


Interests: I’m interested in too many different things. And I’m obsessed with the Trump phenomenon, of course.

Hobbies: Not so many, fortunately. I like hiking and chess, and movies. Reading (haha). 

Passions: Sex, of course. 

Country of Residence: France, Cote d’Azur. I was born in Berlin, Germany, and spent most of my active life in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I’m thinking about moving to Portugal.

Pets: Dogs and cats. 

Favorite writers: I’ve mentioned Mark Twain and David Foster Wallace already. A few more: Vladimir Nabokov, John Updike, Thomas Mann, Donna Tartt (especially her first novel, “The Secret History”), Hemingway, Flaubert, Annie Proulx, Oscar Wilde… 

Artists: Yes, artists. Ernest Hemingway mentioned in an interview in The New Yorker back in 1950 that his writing was influenced by (the painter) Paul Cézanne and (the composer) Johann Sebastian Bach. Occasionally I’m thinking about this. It’s never too late to try, so I’ll hazard that my writing is influenced by (the painters) Paul Klee and Joan Miró and (the composers) Ludwig v. Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach. So, I’m even more influenced than Hemingway was. 

PREVIOUS PUBLICATIONS



Novels

Green Eyes—an erotic novel, (sort-of). Lustspiel Books, 2015.

This Is Heaven—Green Eyes, Part II. Lustspiel Books, 2017.




Novellas/Short stories:

Active Duty. 2013 EtherBooks.

Astral Engineering. A retelling of Jules Verne’s “Voyage to the Moon” from the (gay) point of view of Michel Ardan. 2014. Unpublished.

La Corniche d’Or. 2014. Temptation Magazine.

The Fountain of Geneva. 2014. The Bear Review.

Jamie 1.0. 2015. Gay Flash Fiction.

Jennifer. 2016. Gay Flash Fiction.

There Is so much Sex Going on in the World. 2016. Lustspiel Books. 

Rilke’s Ghost. The author and his partner Chang vanquish the ghost of Rainer-Maria Rilke. 2016. Unpublished.

Le Trayas Station. The author meets a sluggish, pretty, Arab youth, whose brother is a terrorist. 2016. Unpublished.

Florence. 2017. Gay Flash Fiction.

It’s Immoral. 2017. Bunbury.

John Is a Great Guy. 2017, forthcoming. Gay Flash Fiction.




Feature Script: 
Freedom Fries. Alternative History: George W. Bush has a change of heart after his retirement. 2009. Unproduced.


BLURB This Is Heaven:




Alpha males, delicate souls, and the Undead hit it off in a new scramble for the last happy ending. 

A billionaire dies a suspicious darkroom death in Georgia Beach’s only gay haunt. The Vampire Festival is about to start. A professor of quantitative metaphysics predicts Armageddon for Thursday. Her sister, Juliette, falls in love with street-smart Romeo. Elsa, author of heat-level romance, meets ravishing Ben, progenitor of erotic techniques. Shakespeare, Albert Camus, Enid Blyton, Mark Twain, and many other writers appear in cameo. Corpses pile up. Alpha-hunk Alex recovers from a suicidal overdose—with amnesia—and can’t remember his sexual orientation. John, his oversexed lover, is losing it. Is Alex still gay? Is John is still trolling? (Yes.) Will their partnership survive the End-of-the-World?

Explanation: 

This Is Heaven is a satirical combination of sex (gay and straight), crime, politics, and culture (both high and low). Set in the (fictional) town of Georgia Beach, GA, the book relates how John and Alex, the anti-heroes of the Green Eyes, manage to hijack the resort’s Summer Festival despite overwhelming adversity from many quarters, including metaphysical ones.

The title is a sequel to Ampersant’s first work, Green Eyes, which was a finalist of the prestigious Lambda Literary Awards of 2015.  

Links 

Michael Ampersant website / Facebook / Twitter 

Green Eyes Buy Link / This is Heaven Buy Link 


And to Finish here is This is Heaven Excerpt 


42 JOHN IS A GREAT GUY

Alex is at his home; that’s where he’ll be, in his single bed, which is exactly the size of Ben’s. 

In cases like this the second time is the real thing, the first time is spilled booze and confusion and pent-up petting and laughter, and cum, eventually. The second time, they’ve had seas of time, they spent the whole day together, Alex on his mysterious errands, Ben riding shotgun, or taking the wheel because he’s never driven a hybrid car. They won’t talk about sex of course (not theirs, at least), and they won’t talk about Alex taking pictures of Ben (or Romeo, for that matter), but they will talk about Alex’s amnesia, and about engineering. Ben, you’re at Georgia Tech, right? Good school, isn’t it, one of the best in the country; Ben is proud, and Alex is proud because Ben is proud. They talk about the harp bridges that Ben is going to build, and about girls and women—Alex half-apologizing for the ‘practical joke’ of the first outcall with Greta and Jane, and Ben cracking up (“practical joke”). 

Alex might raise the subject of Ben’s other outcalls, but he won’t talk about the Knights, and they wouldn’t talk about John, except that John is a great guy, a great guy—Ben finishing Alex’s sentence (“a great guy”). A few days down the road they might share a joke about me, perhaps, when the dust has settled; this after Alex having talked about his soul again, how Ben, (you, Ben) found his (Alex’s) soul—yes, it could go that deep, both of them commanding an emotional depth that John sadly lacks. Terrible sentence.

So, a few days later they’ll have a serious conversation in simple terms, like ‘life,’ and ‘future,’ and ‘help,’ (Alex asking for help), and ‘love.’ There would be no need for mixed metaphors or spurious allusions to popular culture, the way John always gets it wrong, and then there is this innocent joke about me, so innocent that they kiss another French kiss as the punch line. And there would be no need for French words like ‘orientation,’ or ‘preference,’ or ‘bisexual.’ The joke, yes, the joke would be that they need a larger bed, the way John always needs a larger bed. 

This joke seals their relationship, they realize, both smiling their sheepish smile at each other. Alex knows about the smile, and Ben has an inkling as well. Alex may reach for a little alpha-moment, like saying ‘ambiguity is a strength, not a weakness,’ and Ben answering, ‘unless one is writing code,’ and both dudes will love it. But we are not there yet.
We are still in the Prius, Alex giving directions. They both realize all too well that this is their second time, both reasonably sober still, honestly trying to kick bad habits and talking about Luke since the fridge is empty and they are on their way to his store. Ben’s cell goes off (speaking of the devil), but Ben’s concentrating on the traffic until the ring tone dies. They burst into Luke’s ice room (the coldest convenience store in the world), Luke himself behind the counter (the undead never sleep), Alex asking for a six pack and grinning with duplicitous conviction—Alex knows that Luke knows that they know that he knows and so forth. So, Luke doesn’t grin at all since he’s jealous, terribly jealous—almost as jealous as I am at this moment—and because he doesn’t dare to ask why Ben doesn’t answer his phone.

There’s still an off-chance they didn’t really do it on Tuesday night, too drunk, or spent, and this is their first time indeed. There’s a sense of absentmindedness as they scale the stairs to Alex’s pad. The stupid door’s jammed and kicked open, the A/C’s repaired, we know, Alex is off to the bathroom. Ben won’t sit down until Alex returns, he’s fussing with the nibbles they also bought from Luke. Dude is back from the john, and now we’re into quantum tunneling—it’s a matter of nanometers how much daylight will be left between them as they plop down on the mini couch. Serious conversation resumes. Alex is keen to talk about his problems with an engineer, somebody intelligent who can think things through, and Ben is keen to forget about the A-level shit and to please the smartest, handsomest, least-expected person of his life. Ben is smart, too, he’s minoring in philosophy, he’s much better than John at posing the right questions and helping Alex to find answers as to the relationship between introspection and soul—e.g., whether the term ‘soul’ makes sense here—until he cracks up with a solid ebony laugh, reminding Alex of his (Alex’s) perennial talk of Heaven—a place where body and soul come together like never before. He has this on good authority from Dr. Martin Luther Fletcher, his father, by coincidence. 
We’ve reached a branching point even though the next iteration is the same. Ben cups Alex’s ears with both hands and applies a big smooch to dude’s lips. 

Now the branching: 

(1) If this is their first time, there will be uninhibited petting and groping until they reach Alex’s single bed about which Ben will briefly comment (“exactly like mine”), and then they make love. 

(2) If this is their second time—more likely, alas—there wouldn’t be anything immediate, the kiss would be deeper, the lips wetter, but that’s all. They disengage and look at each other. 

It’s real this time, Ben lost in admiration of Alex’s beauty—beauty here in the widest sense of the word, full Plato—and so it’s about Alex’s inner assets, his entire α-being. Alex reciprocates—not quite as platonic as we’d like (Ben’s body, skin, lips, cheerful profile pass his mind)—but soon we return to the truer issues, Ben’s own charisma for example, or his effortless formality (not that we’ve seen much of his effortless formality during this episode, but I assure you), or Ben’s bearing, accentuated and tender (somehow letting others know how important they are—his secret weapon during A-level assignments and a key ingredient of his alchemy with Alex, I guess). And the nostrils, OMG, I failed to mention Ben’s breathing nostrils.

The longer this lasts the more it means. Now what? Alex will put his big hand on Ben’s thigh (Ben, as always, not wearing shorts but snug simple jeans). There won’t be any petting, it was a bit awkward last time. They get up. They embrace. Alex is obliged to make the first step because he’s the host. Or Ben, how about Ben taking the initiative by the graces of his effortless formality, e.g., unbuttoning Alex’s shorts. Alex reciprocates, outer legwear drops. They both wear Ben’s MuchachoMalos—we really had enough, never-ever will we mention this brand again—the unmentionables drop by sheer force of will. Ben wears white socks, which he’ll keep on during the proceedings (at Alex’s instigation, haha). Ben’s half-open Hawaii shirt, that’s a task for Alex, the three buttons left. Now Alex raises his arms, and Ben peels the green tank shirt from his lover’s torso. For the next eternity, they will undress like that, each other, each night, up there on their own, private cloud bank.

                                                    {•}

                   Facebook Twitter Instagram Newsletter 

                                      Buy me a Coffee!