Category Archives: Author Chat

Author Chat with Dorothy M. Place

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I am totally excited today to share my interview with award-winning author, Dorothy M. Place in accordance with the release of her new book The Heart to Kill. Dorothy sees the world from a unique creative perspective, I admire her character and I fell for her rich writing style immediately. She has taken her talent to great heights in the telling of a story that many might consider taboo.

Dorothy’s new book takes a deep look into the psyche of a woman who has inexcusably taken the life of her own child. The story follows alongside her childhood best-friend who joins her legal defense team in spite of public outcry and a sure verdict of guilty. Check out this intense and intriguing story of these two young women and discover what could drive a mother to commit such an unforgivable act. The side story here is just as rich and compelling as the main plot, so this book is guaranteed to grip you all the way ‘til the end.

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How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

The year I started graduate school at UC Davis, I went to see the play MEDEA. I believed I was the only person in the audience who empathized with Medea when she murdered her two sons. Like Medea, I had just been dumped by my husband for another woman and, being the sole support of three rowdy children, trying to complete a doctorate, and keeping everything on track, I have to admit there were times that murdering the children seemed like a possibility.

Actually, the play had a profound impact on me. Euripides, has the Greek chorus ask, “How does she have the heart to kill her flesh and blood?” That question came to mind with every media report that yet another mother had murdered her children. In fact, studies show that about 500 children under six years are murdered every year by a parent, and that number remains fairly constant.

And so, my book, The Heart to Kill, grew out of that question. Sarah, the protagonist, wonders how her high school friend, JoBeth Ruland, came to the point in her life when murdering her children was the only solution.

I have been thinking about the dilemma of women who have nowhere else to go but to murder their children. Like everyone else, I keep asking why. Perhaps there is no answer.

Where did your love of storytelling come from?

At age twelve, my parents moved to 58 acres of weeds and rocks in upstate New York from the New York metropolitan area and became “farmers.” We lived eight miles from a town of 3,000 and my mother didn’t drive. We lived more than a mile from our nearest neighbor, and their children were fully engaged in farm work. So, except for school, I spent my days and evenings alone. My favorite thing to do was to lie upon the roof of the goat house, where my mother couldn’t find me and ask me to do housework and read. Although I never considered writing as a profession, those long afternoons opened up the entire world for me.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing about ten years. I started with short stories, ten of which have been published, and two awarded prizes in short story contests. Since I was a research director at Sacramento State University, this was a complete departure from the number crunching I did at work.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

Well, when I started I thought this was going to be a blockbuster because it dealt with a question that has been asked for 2,500 years. But, like your first pancake, this didn’t quite turn out the way I envisioned because, being my first novel, I didn’t realize how difficult it is to take an idea and turn it into words. Nevertheless, the book does offer the reader a journey into a story that explores a horrible crime and the enduring friendship between two women.

What projects are you working on at present?

Along with marketing my first novel, I am working with an editor to polish a collection of short stories and starting my second novel, The Search for Yetta. In the second novel, Sarah, the protagonist in my first book, goes on the find what became of a relative whose name had expunged from the family history after she survived the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City.

download-1On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burned, killing 145 workers. It is remembered as one of the most infamous incidents in American industrial history, as the deaths were largely preventable–most of the victims died as a result of neglected safety features and locked doors within the factory building. The tragedy brought widespread attention to the dangerous sweatshop conditions of factories and led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that better protected the safety of workers. Read more…

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Sarah, a student at Northwestern University Law School, returns to her apartment after a trying day to find two telephone messages. The first informs her that she has not been chosen for a coveted summer internship, a position for which her father had arranged an interview. The second is from her mother, with the news that Sarah’s best friend in high school, JoBeth Ruland has murdered her own son and daughter. To mislead her father about her failure to be chosen as a recipient of the internship, Sarah decides to secure a position on JoBeth’s defense team. Against her father’s vehement protest, she leaves Evanston, Illinois at the end of the term and returns to Eight Mile Junction, South Carolina, a small town in the Appalachian foothills, determined to convince him that the experience will contribute to her future.

To make the best of the situation, Sarah sets out to become a vital member of the defense team and to regain favor with her father. But she is not well-prepared for the shock of leaving her sheltered academic life and working in a community rife with chauvinism, malice, and betrayal. Her struggle is met with the benevolent amusement of the senior law partner, John-Two who, despite her objection, insists on calling her “Little Lady.” The criminal trial expert on the team, Al, a tense, disciplined young attorney, resents the intrusion of what he believes to be a know-nothing law student and treats Sarah as if she is incompetent. The folks of Eight Mile Junction close ranks in the face of Sarah’s inquiries, hiding the town’s complicity in JoBeth’s degradation from the eyes of “outsiders” by finding her guilty before the trial begins. And finally, her father, on whose judgment Sarah has relied her entire life, rejects her efforts to placate his ill-humored response to her decision that summer.

In the end, Sarah discovers the underlying issues that precipitated her friend’s murderous act. Through interviews with JoBeth, her mother, her former lover, and her work associates, her ex-husband’s mistress as well as the testimony given during the trial, the horrifying events that shaped JoBeth’s life are revealed, helping Sarah understand how a person can be driven to extremes that defy ordinary reasoning. It is the betrayal by those they love and believe in that changes their lives forever. Ultimately, it means disgrace and imprisonment for JoBeth. But for Sarah, who decides against returning to law school, it is the beginning of a life in which she, not her father, manages her future.

Get Your Copy Today!

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untitled-1-copyBorn in Jersey City, New Jersey, Dorothy M. Place now lives and writes in Davis, California. A principle investigator of a research group at Sacramento State College, she began creative writing, first as a hobby then as a second career, ten years ago. Since 2005, ten of her short stories have been published in literary journals and magazines, two of which were selected for prizes. At present, she is putting together her first collection of short stories, Living on the Edge, and working on her second novel, The Search for Yetta.

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Author Chat with Chiara Talluto

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I recently had the opportunity to meet and work with author Chiara Talluto, a genuinely warm-hearted person, and gifted storyteller. I fell in love with her new book Petrella, the Gillian Princess and am honored to have the opportunity to share her book launch with you. I invited her to an Author Chat so you could have the chance to meet her too.

Check Out Our Chat Below


But First….the Book Launch!

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From November 23rd, 2016 until December 7th, 2016 get a discounted price of the Petrella, the Gillian Princess in paperback format only at Createspace!

Order your copy today!

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Petrella, the Gillian Princess is a fairy tale about a courageous young princess who defies rank and authority to follow her heart.


“In a world filled with chaos and destruction, true love can exist. Love always prevails over evil.”


patrella-5-5x8-5The year is 2041 A.D. Yemell, the new world, is divided by land and sea and governed by kings; separated into kingdoms with strict laws in place to help maintain order. There are humans on land and a newly evolved ocean-bound species, the Gillians.

Princess Petrella is a gentle Gillian female. An admirer of all sea creatures, she is enchanted by romance, and longs to fall deeply in love with that special Gillian male. Instead, she becomes smitten with a Human named Finerd. Relations with humans are forbidden on Yemell.

Her father, Hermas, the Gillian King of the Anglon Kingdom, has ruled his kingdom with an iron fist for over thirty years. Alas, Anglon is in dire straits. Rebels are overthrowing neighboring kingdoms and the king’s health is quickly failing. Hermas has no living male heir. To remain powerful, King Hermas must ensure that his only child, Princess Petrella, marries a wealthier Gillian prince from another kingdom. But, the young princess can’t tame her feelings, and neither can Finerd.

Will Petrella pursue this dangerous affair, defying her father’s mandate and put their kingdom at risk?


Available at a Special Discounted Price, and for a Limited Time Only, Through Createspace

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Also Available Below, In Paperback and Ebook Format, Through Amazon!

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Chiara Talluto is an avid reader, philanthropist, conservative, and energetic outdoors-type who dreams of owning a Harley and one day riding across the country feeling the wind whip across her face and tangling all of her brown hair. But until then, she is content on being a stay-at-home mom raising her two active young daughters and practicing wife to her wonderful and supportive husband.

The thing I love best about Chiara’s new book is that her talented daughters had a hand in its making. If you get the paperback version, you’ll find a collection of their drawings that playfully illustrate the story, located in the back. These illustrations are absolutely adorable and are perfectly suited for coloring.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Surrendering to the opportunity to write something for my young daughters, who are eight and six. They have been my number one motivational force. I wanted them involved in my writing process—giving me key points to include and expand upon.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

This unique fairy tale interweaves themes similar to The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Tangled, Sleeping Beauty, and Noah’s Ark. It is meant to be enjoyed by all readers young at heart, but especially those children who read middle-grade fiction—ages 8-13 years old.

Petrella, the Gillian Princess can be used as a discussion piece on the importance of making solid, moral decision, and understanding the consequences that result from those decisions, as well as an effective teaching tool to help explain all the elements that go into making a story…a story.

My wish is that those parents/guardians/fairy tale enthusiasts will read this book with their children, or the child can read it to themselves.

What kinds of writing do you do?

I have a passion for writing about people who struggle with decisions and conflicts that arise in their lives. I like real-life stories, and have been drawn to writings that have a biblical theme, are motivational, and encouraging. I admire writers like of Mitch Albom, Richard Evans Park, Billy Coffey, Mathew Kelly, Hans Christian Andersen, Jodi Picoult, etc.

What other books have you written?

loves-perfect-surrender-cover-only11My debut novel, Love’s Perfect Surrender, was published in 2014. It is a “grown-up” Christian Romance about a troubled married couple with flawed expectations and an imperfect, beautiful child who teaches them to surrender their expectations in order to mend their broken union.

Get Your Copy Below

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Where did your love of books come from?

I began writing poems and keeping a journal at the age of eleven. My love for the written word was sparked by reading the Nancy Drew series and Hardy Boys books. It wasn’t until my late teens that I discovered Danielle Steele novels and began my hand at short stories. I continued writing longer prose as much as I could during a prosperous career as a Human Resources Recruiter, and then as an Instructional Designer. I received many awards and accolades for my accomplishments, and my work responsibilities grew, but there was something missing. I began to devote less and less time to my joy of writing. And soon, my creativity began to suffer. It wasn’t until after much soul-searching and some tough decision-making that I finally left the corporate world to start writing full-time.

What inspires you? Why did you choose to write in your genres and how do you balance them?

I write for the euphoric desire and need to transfer spiraling thoughts into words that move people emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I love taking everyday life situations and circumstances that people encounter, struggle and conquer, and turn it into creative storylines.

I’ve never written children/juvenile fiction or anything with what I call a “youthful” tone. This experience has allowed me to exercise my imagination on a different writing level, and go beyond my comfort zone.

I balance my writing by doing one project at a time. That is, completing that “one” particular project. I can be writing, reading, editing many things at the same time, but once I know what I’m going to do with a writing project, I set a goal to complete it to the end.

How do you find or make time to write?

I am a mom first, so I write during the wee-hours of the night when my children are asleep. It is also my most creative time of the day. It’s quiet, and I can have conversations with my characters in my head without disruptions. The interesting point is that I have always associated night with writing, and day with editing. Go figure…

What do your plans for future projects include?

I have two projects on the back-burner. A short-story, a Dystopian-type tale that I had written back in 2007 which I want to resurrect. And, a Woman’s fiction novel in which I am currently working through the edits.

What would be useful to anyone writing in your genre’s?

Petrella, the Gillian Princess is my very first children/middle-grade fiction. I really thought it would have been easy to write. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

There is a certain writing style that goes along when writing for a juvenile audience. There needs to be more visual descriptions and language that is not childish but on the cusp of helping the reader transition to Young Adult books, which are more complex in sub-plots.

Whatever you write, you have to research. I know that’s not exciting for some, me included. You can’t just sit down and write and be done with it. All those advice blogs and writing forums that talk about knowing your audience, and seeing yourself as a business person too, besides a writer, well, are correct.

And, if anything, you better know how to manage your time to the minute. There are lots of distractions on the internet that will suck you into cyberspace.

Has your writing journey been worth it?

Yes. There were a number of roadblocks and hills I’ve had to climb to indie publish this little story. The problems are not of importance, but I think I learned to overcome the conflicts by keeping the purpose of the producing this gem in the forefront of my mind at all times. My goal was to write and publish this for my daughters; to tell an honest and compelling story, show them what it takes to work hard and persevere, and never give up for the right cause. I hope I have pleased my kids in doing so.

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petrella_author_pic-2Chicago-born, a full-time mother and author, Chiara Talluto, is known as the Master Storyteller in her household. She has a passion for writing about people who struggle with decisions and conflicts that arise in their lives. Enchanted and inspired by many of Disney’s fairy tales, this is her very first middle-grade story. Chiara Talluto’s desire…Changing people’s hearts to better themselves. Her goal…Leave nothing unfinished.


For all that’s been said, let it be done.


Check Out Chiara’s Website at www.chiaratalluto.com.

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Networking – Are You a Writer?

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Hello, and thanks for stopping by 🙂

I hope you can take some time and answer a couple of questions for me in the comments section.

I am lucky enough to have a growing network of writers that I would love to know more about. I have visited most of your blogs although I’m still working on getting to them all, and am learning to be better at networking by leaving feedback while I’m there. Beyond what I’ve already discovered, there are just a few questions I’d like to ask that would help me to get to know you better. And I promise I’ll be around to read your posts much more regularly in the future 🙂

Also, I’m in the process of a book project that you may be able to help me with. I’m trying to collect some useful information for writer’s just starting out. I have my own ideas but it would help to get your input. If you could tell me what information would have helped you out most before you got your author platform started – it would be super helpful to me.

I have read some of your books and really enjoyed them. I’d like to read more.  I am also looking to introduce my book club to your work which they may not otherwise happen to come across.  It would be awesome to refer your book to them so please leave me a link to your books after your comments –  pretty please and thank you 🙂

I leave reviews at the points of purchase and encourage my book club members to also.

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Call Me! Let’s Chat!

USA 360-399-3665 PST     8 AM to 7 PM      Monday-Friday

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you can send me your answers using the contact form below…

Thank You!

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Writing to Make a Difference

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To all the writers I know and have met through social media, I want to say that I believe in you.

I believe that what you have to say can have an impact on the world around you. I believe that you are special and talented and I stand in awe of what most of you have accomplished already. I applaud all of your efforts, especially the time and care you’ve put into creating your works of art.

I hope that I can serve as some sort of inspiration by working tirelessly to compile resources and information to make your entire writing and authoring experience easier and more enjoyable.

As a graphic designer, I am currently writing a book that will help you understand how to go about creating all of the images you will need to successfully brand yourself as an author, publish your book, and market your book and your author platform.

This is something I’ve been working on for a while now. I have come to understand that there are so many of you out there who have something amazing to share but just don’t have the financial resources to get the graphics you need that would most likely serve to launch your successful writing career.

Visual imagery attracts the eye, it draws the viewer into what you’re attempting to promote. If you don’t have great graphics to support what you are trying to sell, the chances of you reaching the audience that’s available to you are substantially reduced. You are more than qualified to do the writing that people will enjoy. But you could benefit by having imagery that lives up to what you have to offer and attracts as many new readers to you as possible.

I hope you will find the information I have to share as a helpful resource as you continue along your journey. I want to make creating the graphics you need fun, easy, and affordable. I’m including templates and examples as well as free resources to help you get the graphic design work done on your own. I think you will not only enjoy the process of creating your own imagery, you’ll see the results in your growing network and book sales.

If you have any suggestions for information you’d like me to include, please let me know in the comments section 🙂

All my best,

Michelle Rene


Coming Soon!

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If you need help with your book cover or author graphics right away, I’m here to serve you…

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Author Chat with K.M. Weiland

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I recently had the opportunity to interview K.M. Weiland who is just super awesome! I am a huge fan of her writing and admire the vast amount of knowledge she has to share with the writing community. Check out how she got her start as a leading author mentor and more…

k-m-weilandK.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY, NIEA, and Lyra Award-winning and internationally published author of Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


Tell us a little about yourself:

Where are you from and what is your favorite pastime?

I’m a longtime western Nebraskan. Writing, of course, is my all-consuming passion. But I also enjoy various types of design, as well studying the psychology of personality.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I don’t know that it was ever something I “discovered” per se. For as long as I can remember, I’ve made up stories. In fact, my earliest memory is of myself dreaming up some wild story about saving my family from some unknown catastrophe. I started writing my stories down when I was eleven or twelve, and throughout high school, I wrote, edited, and published a newsletter for horse-crazy girls. Moving on to novels was a natural progression. I guess you could say I’ve always been a storyteller; it’s just inborn; it’s who I am. But the writing—the learning of the craft, the studying to show myself approved—that was something I became.

What is the number one book you would recommend to writers and why?

Tough to pick just one! But I’m going to go with Robert McKee’s Story. Blew my mind.

What inspires you to write speculative historical fiction?

I’ve always loved history—mostly because it’s… a story! But I love exploring faraway places and times and the beauty of other cultures.

Where do you come up with your ideas?

I like to say that inspiration is everywhere—and it really is. I’ve picked ideas from such disparate places as the dust on my windowsill (I’m a terrible duster) to my pets to the grapefruit I had for breakfast. It’s really just a matter of being open to whatever you’re experiencing at the moment.

But I will say that most of my inspiration is usually the result of other people’s art. The three big ones are most definitely:

1. Books
2. Movies
3. Music

I feed off other people’s stories and glean little tidbits that inspire stories of my own. The characters and themes in books and movies and the half-answered questions in songs are endless sources of inspiration for me.

What is the main theme of your fictional writing?

I’ve always loosely defined my fiction as “blood and thunder,” but a reviewer recently described them like this: “The consistent theme in each of her books is finding the best in human relationships and coming to an understanding about who you are and what you believe.” I thought that was pretty accurate, so I adopted it!

Helping Writers Become Authors

If you haven’t discovered Katie’s award-winning blog Helping Writers Become Authors, you should take the time to visit.

You are an expert in your field and I am curious to know how and when you got started? Was your author mentoring blog an early career goal, was it strategically planned, or was it created to fulfill the needs of your growing network?

Like most newly published authors, I was looking for a way to build a platform. And, like most newly published authors, I was clueless how to start. I figured blogging about writing would be more interesting than blogging about washing dishes or walking the dog. At the time, my intent was merely to spread the word about my fiction. But, of course, it’s grown into so much more.

What do you love most about what you do? How would you describe your journey as a mentor so far and where do you see yourself in the future?

I think the reward is two-fold:

1) I’m learning right along with everyone I teach. My blog and my books are just an outgrowth of my own writing journey. Forcing myself to put my own thoughts and discoveries into a teachable format has been invaluable to me in strengthening my own conscious knowledge of writing.

2) I love helping people. It’s a joy to be able to reach out and touch others in the solitary lifestyles we pursue as writers. I’m humbled and honored that I’ve gotten to work with so many people. It always makes my day to hear that something I’ve written has helped another writer have a “light bulb” moment in their own writing.

How do you carve out enough time to manage your platforms, provide such great content, and write books?

I like to say, in all seriousness, that schedules are my secret weapon. I manage my time strictly and I’m always tweaking my daily schedule to try to get my best productivity while still balancing the need for relaxation and recharging.

I like to get my writing done first thing in the morning, while the day is still fresh. Right now, I’m experimenting with staving off email, and Internet activities until the very last thing in the work day. Blogging gets its own day, in which I take care of all the weekly blogging duties in one fell swoop.

Minimizing distractions is key, so I’m very strict with myself about wasting time on the Internet, watching videos, or even reading news sites.

What advice would you give to someone carving out their own niche in the publishing industry today on how to strategize for the greatest chance of success?

Marketing is about personality. It’s about getting your personality—your books—your brand—to as many people as possible. That starts with a platform, and the foundation for that platform is your home on the web. Start building an email list as soon as you can, since this will be your only assured direct route to dedicated readers. Give them content they care about to keep their attention: drawings, freebies, special deals, glimpses into your life. Craft your book launches with care, since Amazon’s sales algorithms will treat you right if you can prove early on that you can generate sales. And most of all—have fun! Don’t let marketing be a chore; embrace it as a challenge. Your audience will sense that attitude and respond to it.

Author Advice

Write Yourself a Bad Review

I recently read a guest post you did with Patrick Ross where you gave some great advice for authors in “Write Yourself a Bad Review”. In your post, you mention our inner critics and how they might actually benefit us. I liked the idea of giving these critics the chance to be heard to identify weak areas of our writing.

I love the humor you injected into this article while also offering up a specific set of areas to focus on so the bad review pays off. Your plan of action at the end is a brilliant method for going back to a manuscript with a fresh set of eyes that has looked at the writing from a fantastic perspective.

I would recommend this unique approach as a round of edits that all authors should approach because it can provide a level of assurance that they have put their best work out for publication.

I had never come across this idea before as something that could provide such a great deal of positive criticism without seeking outside help.

When did you start implementing this technique and how did you discover it?

If memory serves I think fellow author Roz Morris had written something in her great writing book Nail Your Novel that sparked the idea. I don’t use it for every book, only those that are really giving me trouble.

What are some faults it has helped you overcome as an author?

It’s a good way to really drill down to the heart of the issues that are dogging a novel—to see them objectively, instead of just flailing away at the book, knowing something is wrong.

Do you have any other suggestions that might make an impact on an author’s final product as the process of writing yourself a bad review does?

How about writing yourself a good review? 🙂 Usually, I’ll write myself both a bad review and a good review of the idealized novel I want to create. More on that in this post: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/strengthen-your-story-by-writing/

More Author Advice

Earlier I mentioned your Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. I have these books now and love them. I have found everything I learned from them extremely helpful to me as a writer. You didn’t have the boxed sets with the workbooks like you offer now, so that’s an added bonus for anyone that’s interested. You also offer a story structure database on your website that is pretty impressive.

How can writers take advantage of that?

I have a whole post, talking about how to best utilize and navigate the Story Structure Database: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/story-structure-database/

Basically, I recommend watching your favorite movies and reading your favorite books and trying to figure out the structure for yourself. Then stop by the site, look up the story, and see how it lines up with what I’ve provided. It’s a great, hands-on way to really understand how structure works and how it affects a vast array of stories.


A huge thanks to K.M. Weiland for taking the time to  chat with me 🙂