The Signs Are There

For Today’s Throwback Thursday and our last day of Pet Peeve Month, I’d like to share a story about my final pet peeve: misleading signs.  I can’t stand how many road signs are deceiving.  It reminds me of the song “Signs” by Tesla.  (Okay, it was originally by Five Man Electric Band, but I don’t know that version, or even that band for that matter, plus I think the remake sounds much better, so I’ll stick to the Tesla version, thank you.)

I know this TBT is long, but I think it’s funny enough that you won’t mind once you get to the end.)  One time my sister Michelle and I were torn between two concerts.  We had friends in both bands, and we wanted to see them both.  One show was in the afternoon on Jones Beach in Long Island, New York, and the other was late that night at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut.  So we decided to do both.

We got to Jones Beach early, and the weather was perfect for an outdoor show.  We had a lot of fun, but the moment the show was over, we said some quick goodbyes and had to book it if we were going to make it to Foxwoods in time for our next event.  My sister drove my car, and I had the map to navigate.  Now, the driving time between these two locations is three to three and a half hours, depending on which route you take and if the weather is good, so our plan was doable.

However, as soon as we crossed over the L.I.E. (Long Island Expressway), the sky turned black and opened up.  Not only was the rain so bad, you could hardly see the front of your own car, but it was hailing as well.  The 5:00 PM sky was so dark, it might as well have been midnight.  Traffic came screeching to a halt or at least a snail’s pace, and there was no end in sight to the bad weather.  Of course, we panicked that we wouldn’t make the next show on time.  And it was at that exact moment that in the midst of all the mayhem, one of the windshield wipers flung off my car and onto the interstate somewhere!  So, as we crawled along, I climbed out my window and had to flip the empty wiper arm up so that it wouldn’t scrape up the window.  (Of course I got soaked.)

This was the in days before GPS, and cellphones still weren’t very popular yet, so there was no way for us to locate a store that might have replacement wipers other than getting off at each exit and exploring the area.  So, we made the executive decision to forge forward without the wiper.  It wasn’t as if we could see any better even when it was on, anyway.

Finally, somewhere between Stamford and Bridgeport, the rain let up to a light drizzle.  Even though it was dry in the car, we felt like drown rats by this time (especially me since I was soaking wet).  It was after 10:00 PM, and we still had more than an hour to go, and we missed the beginning of the show.  We decided to try to find a restroom and freshen up, then we figured we’d hook up with the band after the show and visit with them then, even if we missed seeing them play.  Plus, Michelle was tired of driving and wanted me to take over.

So, with our new plan in action, we felt a little better mentally, and we began looking for an exit.  Unfortunately, in a lot of the New England states, the towns roll up their carpets and go to bed at 10:00 PM (or earlier), so our choices were rather limited.  It seemed like an eternity, though I’m sure it wasn’t, when somewhere near New Haven , we saw a sign for a “24-Hour Dunkin’ Donuts – This Exit.”   So, of course we took “this exit” and followed the arrows that said “This Way to Dunkin’ Donuts.”  We ended up along one of those frontage roads — you know — the kind that’s a two-lane rural street that runs parallel to the interstate.

But there was no Dunkin’ Donuts in sight!  In fact, there were no signs of life anywhere along the dark road.  We could clearly see the interstate beside us , but there wasn’t even an entrance to get back to it.  During our search, the rain picked back up, and our speed slowed to about 20 MPH.  As Michelle attempted to see through the blackness of night, I watched the interstate and noticed that the next seven exits all had signs that said “24-Hour Dunkin’ Donuts – This Exit.”

We were flummoxed.  We didn’t understand how we could’ve possibly passed more than eight Dunkin’ Donuts on the desolate road.  Yet the signs on our road kept instructing us that we were indeed headed toward “This Way to Dunkin’ Donuts.”

Then like a beacon in the darkness, after more than forty-five minutes since we exited, we saw the neon orange and pink DD logo up ahead.  Of course we both had to pee like racehorses by then (I apologize for the TMI moment here, but I wanted you to get a good feel for what we were dealing with), and we couldn’t get there quickly enough.  However as we got to the “restaurant” (Okay, not technically a restaurant… “Shop” perhaps?), the rain was coming down quite hard, and we couldn’t see the entrance which was on the left side of the road.

A few seconds later, and we realized that we’d apparently passed the parking lot, and we looked for a way to turn around.  There were no crossroads in sight, and while our side of the road was nearly desolate, the oncoming line of traffic on the left side was bumper to bumper.

I have no idea why my sister did what she did next, but she turned into someone’s driveway on the right.  “What are you doing?” I asked her.

“I’m turning around,” she said.

“You can’t turn around here.  Look at that traffic.  We can’t back up into that,” I said.

She looked over her shoulder and realized I was right, so she faced forward, threw the car into drive, and sped forward!    I was mortified!

As you can imagine, the lights in the house went on as we drove down the long driveway and into the people’s back yard!  “What are you doing?” I screamed.  “You’re going to get us arrested!”

(As a side note, I’m cracking up laughing so hard even as I type this, that I keep having to take a break!)

She said, “I thought the driveway would have a turnaround at the end.”  (It did not.)

We had to do a three-point turn, which actually ended up being more like a seven point turn (so we wouldn’t run off into the grass and either tear up their yard or get stuck in the mud!), at the end of the driveway which ended at a carport well into the back yard of these people’s house.  The people ran outside with umbrellas and pajamas on and were screaming at us and flailing their arms.  We tried to haul butt out of there, but of course, when we got to the end of their driveway, we couldn’t turn left because there was still so much oncoming traffic.  So we had to turn right and travel a few more miles before we found a crossroad where we could turn around and go back.  We were laughing so hard by this point, that we definitely needed that restroom soon or our bladders would burst.

When we finally made it to the Dunkin’ Donuts, as we pulled into the parking lot, they turned off the light and put up a sign in the window that said they were out of donut flour and would reopen the next day.

Bwaaahaahaaa!  No, I’m totally kidding, that didn’t happen.  (But I bet that’s where you thought I was headed, right?)  When we finally made it there, we used the facilities, ordered some hot chocolate, and asked how it was that we exited where we did, yet we missed over eight more stores on the way.

The cashier told us, “You didn’t miss eight stores.  All those interstate exits lead here.”

I’m sure we looked as stupefied as we felt, but now do you see why I hate misleading signs?

So tell me, was this worth the long read?  Did I cover your pet peeve this month?  Would you like me to do another pet peeve month sometime before next year?  Do you have a tale of looking for a rest stop long after the city went to bed?  What’s the funniest traffic or driving malfunction you’ve ever been in?  (By the way, this was NOT the funniest thing that’s ever happened when my sister and I were on the road.)  What was your favorite pet peeve this month?

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Can I Get Some of That?

Before I get to my post of the day, please accept my apologies for not visiting many of your sites yesterday… I’m having a host of computer problems at my house, and WordPress failed to email me my notifications for some reason.  Weird.  (If you happen to know why, can you please tell me how to fix it?)  Plus with it being my sister’s birthday, we were out late, and the time got away from me.  I’ll catch up with you soon!  And now, back to our regularly scheduled post…

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As I’ve mentioned before, besides being a writer, I’m a professional photographer.  I specialize in weddings, though I also do various types of portraiture as well as other events and parties.  As I wrap up my pet peeves month, one thing that peeves the bejeebers out of me is how often my “friends” will ask me for free portraits of them, their families, and their children.  Sometimes, they’ll even ask me to shoot their parties or weddings and expect me to donate my time and talent for free.  If I offer my services for free, that’s one thing, but many of them come right out and ask (some of them, several times a year).  I think what irritates me even more with these “friends,” is that I never hear from them any other time, except when they need photos.

Furthermore, because we are “friends,” many times they call at the last minute to tell me they’re running late.  Quite often, this means thirty minutes to an hour or more that I sit around waiting for them, despite the possibility that I have other plans for my own day.

Now, many of these friends work at stores, medical buildings, law offices, etc.  I have never once gone to any of their places of employment and asked for free merchandise or services.  (And before you say it, I already know:  The fault is actually mine for not turning away these clowns who never seem to contact me any other time except when they want something.)

While I’m on the subject, another thing that cheeses me about photography is prospective wedding clients who come to meet with me, then need to come back again and waste another hour or more of my time by bringing back their parents, then might even come back a third time so I can repeat everything again.  Then they have the nerve to ask for a discount.

No!  I am a professional!  Would you dare to go to your dentist and ask for a half-off root canal?  Would you ask your gynecologist if he offers a groupon for a pap smear?  No, of course not!

What makes a professional photographer?  Hint: It is NOT owning a “nice camera.”  It is having education as well as experience in lighting and posing.  It’s also owning appropriate professional grade equipment as well as possessing the knowledge of how to use said equipment.  It’s also being covered by insurance which protects us as well as you, it’s having a backup system that duplicates everything we shoot so there will be no danger of a technical difficulty if one of our cards goes bad, and it’s having a sound contract in place which covers both parties.

I meet so many people that are shopping for the cheapest photographer to capture what should be the most important day of their life.  Sometimes they even get so frustrated, that they rely on their “uncle with the nice camera” and don’t hesitate to tell me so when I refuse to budge on my price.  So many times I want to ask them, “Hey, if your aunt owns an oven, is she going to be baking your wedding cake?”  or “Hey, if your cousin owns a pocket knife, will you be letting him do your appendectomy?”

And the saddest thing of all is when this happens and I get the call after the wedding from upset brides that ask me how much I charge to “fix” their photos that turned out awful.  The lesson to be learned is, if you’re in the market for a professional photographer and you insist on a cheap one, you just might get what you pay for.*

*Sometimes there are expensive photographers that are simply awful and either take forever to get the photos to the client or have a horrible personality or perhaps are even unskilled.  Sadly, these are a disgrace to my profession.  Most of us that are true professionals, however, are not like that.

Okay, so I’m stepping down from my soapbox now.  I apologize for the rant.  So how many of you have ever had friends ask you for free goods or services?  How easy would it be for you to say no when that happens?  Did you hire a professional photographer at your own wedding?  Describe the best professional photograph you’ve ever had taken of yourself.

Happy Birthday, Michelle!

Today, I hope you will join me in wishing a very happy birthday to my sister, Michelle.

Michelle & Rachel After Skydiving

This photos is from a few years back just after we went skydiving on one of my birthdays.  Michelle is on the left.

Michelle, you’re the best!  I hope we can skydive again soon and that we have many more fun adventures ahead.  Happy Birthday, Sistah!  ~Rach

What Do Charles Manson, Doris Day, and Folgers Coffee Have in Common?

Did my post title catch your attention?  Good.  We’ll talk more about that in a moment.  If you’ve noticed, on Tuesdays during pet peeve month, I’ve been discussing gross discrepancies in various laws as they apply to certain people.  Well, I’m not off my soapbox yet.

For today’s pet peeve, I’m here to talk about crime and punishment.  I’m sure I might also tick some people off when I say that I don’t think Charles Mason should be in prison.  Now, hold on!  Don’t jump on me until you’re heard everything I’ve got to say.

My problem with Charles Manson still being incarcerated is this:  He’s been in jail for longer than I’ve been alive for murders he did not commit.  Whoa!  Wait a minute before you react.  What I’m saying is he instructed the members of his cult to massacre the people that were killed, but he didn’t actually commit the murders.  His cult members did.  In fact, he wasn’t even charged with murder, but rather the lesser charge of seven counts of conspiracy to commit murder.

Now, why on earth would I say that I don’t think this man should still be in prison?  Because, there are worse murderers walking around free.  The murders I’m talking about?  MOMS.  There are plenty of mothers who have either killed their own child(ren) for a husband or boyfriend or with a husband or boyfriend.

Bradley McGee

Case in point:  In 1989, twenty years after the Manson slayings, right in my own hometown, Sheryl Coe helped her husband brutally murder her two-year old son, Bradley McGee.  Of course that was after they abandoned the child at a mall, and later the boy had been removed from the home repeatedly by the state because they had tortured him mercilessly throughout his short life.  She served less than nine years in prison before she was released, at which point she moved to Illinois.  Furthermore, she has since remarried and had another child, and she was allowed to keep custody of said child by an Illinois court.  Bradley’s stepdad is still in prison.  I went to high school with the sister of the demented husband who killed this child.  His sister was a smart and very nice girl.  I don’t know how he chose to be so wicked.

Ursula “Sunshine” Assaid

Need more proof?  In 1982, again, right here in my home state, Susan Assaid aided and abetted her boyfriend in torturing her five-year old daughter, Ursula “Sunshine” Assaid, for 55 hours before brutally murdering her then dumping her body in a retention pond.  She received only a 15-year sentence and has long since been released and moved to California.  The boyfriend who led in the abuse was killed in prison by another inmate in 1996.  The judge who presided over this trial and sentenced the parents was the same judge who did a rotten job on my custody case with my son.  Of course that’s after he was reassigned to family court after being caught keeping porn in his chambers, but that’s a different story.

Caylee Anthony

Do I even need to go into the more recent Caylee Anthony murder where her mother Casey Anthony was acquitted?  And in case you’re wondering, yes, I believe she was guilty.  At the time the child went missing, I lived only a few miles from her home, and I witnessed the family putting up the initial missing child flyers around Orlando.

I think the worst thing a person, either male or female, can do is to purposefully brutalize and kill their own child.  And I’m not talking about an adult-sized angry teenager on drugs or other such factors that might mitigate some sort of “justifiable homicide.”  I mean, these children were all under kindergarten age!  They literally had their entire lives in front of them.

So, yeah, while I definitely empathize with the Helter Skelter victims as well as their families, I’m outraged over the fact that Charles Manson, a man that was admittedly on acid (as well as other drugs) at the time the murders took place is still in jail, yet these women who have since tortured and murdered their own children are now walking around free.  I think the fact that Manson was on hallucinogenic and other mind-altering drugs at the time is proof that he wasn’t in his right frame of mind, and I reiterate the fact that he wasn’t even present at the crime scenes.  (I do think it’s a sick testament to his power of persuasion that he was able to convince so many other lost kids to commit the murders, though.)

But these mothers that killed their own children were not on drugs.  Their brains were functioning at 100% when they made the conscious choice to abuse, nay, viciously torture, and allow their husbands to abuse and cold-bloodedly kill their own children.

Is Charles Manson a danger to society?  Probably.  Should he be walking around free?  I don’t think so.  Do I think he should be locked away?  Absolutely!  But perhaps a more appropriate place for him would be in a mental institution.  The State of California is footing the bill either way.  At any rate, I don’t think these moms should have ever seen the light of day again.

By the way, the answer to the title’s question is simple:  Record producer Terry Melcher was Doris Day’s only son.  Sharon Tate and her husband rented Terry Melcher’s house which is where the Manson Family killed Mrs. Tate and some of her friends including Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folgers Coffee fortune.  It’s been said that Mr. Manson was actually targeting Mr. Melcher for failing to include him in a record deal (though later it came out that Manson did in fact know that Melcher had moved).  Furthermore, I chose today to post this particular post, because today is my sister Michelle’s birthday, and Michelle’s favorite actress is Doris Day.  Happy Birthday, Michelle!

So that’s my two cents for today’s installment of “Rachel Rants.”  Are you for or against capital punishment?  How would you feel about mandatory sterilization for parents found guilty of barbaric child abuse?  Do you think that parents found guilty of murdering their own child should have to register once they are released from prison, such as a sex offender does?  Or do you think once a person has served their time for murdering their own child, their crime should be erased from the minds of everyone else?

Where’s the One About Rachel?

As long as we’re still on the subject of pet peeves, do you know what’s really cheesed me for years?  Why isn’t there a hit song about Rachel?  (Please note I said a “HIT song” and not that goofy song from 1871, Reuben and Rachel.)  There are literally hundreds of songs about other people, but not one of them is named Rachel.  I personally know several professional musicians, and none of them has risen to the challenge and written a song about a Rachel.  I don’t know why… something about their wives not understanding or something like that.

There are countless songs about women!  Think of the dozens of songs about Mary, Alice and Rosie.  The Police sang about Roxanne, Neil Diamond sang about Sweet Caroline, Dr. Hook even sang about Sylvia’s Mother!  But there are plenty of names that are far less popular than Rachel, and they still made the cut.  David Bowie sang about a Letter to Hermione, The Oak Ridge Boys sang about Elvira, The Monkees sang about Auntie Grizelda, Green Day sings about Haushinka, and Tommy Roe sang Hooray for Hazel!

Songs about both men and women include The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde, The Ballad of John and Yoko, Linus and Lucy, and Jack and Diane.

Even men alone have songs about them!  There are numerous songs about Billy, and Johnny, and even men named Harry.  Eminem sang about Stan, The Beatles sang Hey Jude, Phil Collins sang about Lorenzo, and Johnny Cash even managed to sing about A Boy Named Sue!

Some people are lucky enough to get both their first and their last name in songs about them.  Think of I’m Henry the VIII, I Am by Herman’s Hermits, Jimmy Olsen’s Blues by The Spin Doctors, and Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin. Not to mention Marshall Mathers in Eminem’s autobiographical ditty, Paul Revere by The Beastie Boys, and Postcards From Richard Nixon by Elton John.

Heck, even The Devil has songs about him!  Motley Crue urged us to Shout at the Devil, Van Halen was Runnin’ With the Devil, and The Rolling Stones even had Sympathy for the Devil!  And if you’re still looking for him, Charlie Daniels and his band will be the first to tell you that The Devil Went Down to Georgia.

The Kingsmen liked singing about Louie Louie so much, they said his name twice, and Neil Diamond felt just as strongly about Holly Holly!  (Of course, he was fickle and did the same thing for Cherry Cherry, as well.)  Santana certainly had a similar affection for Maria Maria, and The Blasters felt that Marie Marie was worth repeating.  Jenny Jenny was on Little Richard’s mind twice as much as other women, and Ray Peterson felt twice as nice about Corinna Corinna.

So in conclusion, when I hear about one of these other ladies or gentlemen that are honored in song, it makes me a little sad.  If you don’t have a song about your name, feel free to join me in my misery, because frankly, I’m tired of feeling left out!

Talk to me:  What is your favorite song (including artist) with someone’s name in the title?  (Some of my favorites are Stan by Eminem, Jezebel by Peter Noone, Beth by Kiss, Jeremy by Pearl Jam, Stephanie by The Partridge Family, Angie by The Rolling Stones, Dirty Diana by Michael Jackson, My Michelle by Guns n’ Roses, Just Like Jesse James by Cher, Amie by Pure Prairie League, and Rosie by Bon Jovi.)  Is there a song about you or your significant other?  (Check the lists in the links above if you’re not sure.)  If not, what band would you ideally want to sing the song about you?

Author Interview – David McCaffrey

Recently, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog.  (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.)  I asked everyone thirty-five questions — some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries — and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend, David McCaffrey, had some very captivating responses which I’m sure will enchant you, as well.  (And please note, he writes in my own genre, so I particularly think his book sounds amazing!)  After you read his interview, please be sure to hop on over to his Facebook page and Twitter account, and follow him for a regular dose of his charisma and wit.  And now, I turn the microphone over to David…

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ABOUT YOU::

1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:

My name is David McCaffrey. I’m 39 and currently work as an Assistant Clinical Matron in Infection Prevention and Control in a local acute hospital. I have a Kelly, a Jake and a baby Liam on the way!

2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/david.mccaffrey.129

Twitter – https://twitter.com/daveymac1975

Pintrest – www.pinterest.com/davidmccaffrey

3. How many books have you written?

Hellbound is my first novel.

4. Has any of your work been published yet?  If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:

Not yet!

If his book is as creative as his photo, I can’t wait to read it!

5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing?  Why?  If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?

Hellbound is currently on Britain’s Next Bestseller and in the middle of its pre order campaign in order to try and secure a publishing deal.   Please see: https://britainsnextbestseller.co.uk/index.php/book/index/HellboundTheTallyMan

6. How old were you when you started writing?  When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I have always loved writing, ever since I was a little boy. I entered a competition when I was 7 or 8 with a tale about a witch who was afraid of heights and won a set of coloured pens! But I started taking it seriously after the birth of my first son, Jake. I felt it was something I could be good at and that I had the ability to tell stories that would entertain people.

7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?

Probably the fact that I am able to take my vivid imagination and put it down on paper in the hope that someone else will enjoy what I have written. And I have fantastic support from my friends and family who have always been honest about what works and what doesn’t in a story. It’s good to have people around you who you can trust to offer you constructive criticism, because in the end it only helps you to construct a tighter narrative.

8. Who are some of your favorite authors?  What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?

Hard to select just a few but if I had to I guess I would say my favorite authors are Steve Alten, John Grisham, Stephen King, George. R. R. Martin, Simon Kernick and Stephen Leather. And at the moment I’m reading ‘I Am Pilgrim’ by Terry Hayes which is an awesome story of a man who formerly worked in the world of espionage and has to content with preventing an act of global terrorism. It is a fantastic, gripping tale and one of the best books of the year so far.

9. What is your preferred reading method?  (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.)  Why?

I love my Kindle, but to be honest I don’t think you can ever beat the feel and smell of an actual paperback or hardback book! I’m a bit of a traditionalist…I buy CD’s and DVD’s rather than downloading them. I like how they all look on a bookshelf!

10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?

For ‘Hellbound’ I wrote in the third person because I felt it made it easier for the reader to relate to the characters by maintaining that level of distance. The antagonist does some horrific things and I felt in the first person it would be harder for the reader to feel towards him what I intended them to feel if it sounded like events where being described in real time.

11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books? 

I read nearly every night. Maybe only a few pages of something, but I find it helps me settle my overactive mind!

12. How many books would you say you read in a year?  How many at any one time?

I might read 6 or 7 books during the course of a year. And at one time, I have been known to be reading 3!!

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ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::

13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?

Hellbound

14. What is your novel’s genre?  Would you say there is a sub-genre?  What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?

Hellbound is a psychological thriller and proudly fits into that category. How it differs from other books in that genre is that it’s concerned with consequences of being remorseless and how do you make someone suffer who is truly evil. Is it possible to make them understand what they have taken from you? And if so, where do you draw the line between revenge and justice. All of these elements come into play in Hellbound, but play out in a way I think most people will find surprising.

15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?

Oddly, most of the inspiration for Hellbound came from Kung Fu Panda! The film features the ultimate isolated prisoner who finds himself freed and only the most unlikely hero can save the day. Silence of the Lambs was also inspiration in the sense that Hannibal Lecter is an evil individual but you warm to him because he has bizarre moral standards you can relate to. And I threw in a bit of Groudhog Day and An Inside Man for something a little different!

16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?

My target audience is 18 and above and I think it’s a story that anyone will enjoy. I think those readers who enjoy thrillers will like it for its slight spin on convention and those for whom thrillers are not their first choice of book will be pleasantly surprised with its accessibility and fast pace.

17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?

Hellbound begins with the execution of an infamous serial killer, Obadiah Stark, witnessed by the world’s media and one reporter, Joe O’Connell. When certain elements of the execution begin to raise suspicion, Joe decides to investigate only to find out that not everything is as it seems. Parallel to that, Obadiah finds himself in an afterlife surrounded by a family and people who seem to have no recollection of who he is and what he has done. Their journeys converge to a point where the reader has to ask themselves where the line between justice and revenge lies and what secrets are being kept.

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ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::

18. How often do you write?

I try to write five days a week. Working full time as a nurse and with a family, it is sometimes difficult to find long periods of time where I’m free so I mostly tend to write on an evening for a few hours at a time. At the end of the day, if you enjoy it enough and are passionate about it you make the time.

19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?

On average, I will write maybe six/seven hundred words a sitting.

20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?

For Hellbound, I was fortunate enough to have New York Times Bestselling author Steve Alten as my writing coach and he edited my manuscript for me. For my as yet untitled second novel my beautiful other half Kelly is doing the honors. She is very honest about what does and doesn’t work and is really good at spotting typo’s!

21. What is your method of writing?  (i.e. Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes?  Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters?  Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)

I was taught an invaluable lesson and that is to create a beat sheet for the entire story. This is essentially the key ‘beats’ or scenes of the story in short bullet points. By doing this you can easily see which areas scenes work, which don’t and whether some can be moved elsewhere for greater impact.

Once the beat sheet is complete, I can begin writing each chapter. Certain aspects may change with the writing as you begin to see how aspects of your story can be better served by being more fleshed out, or whether certain characters need more backstory or characterisation.

I will always re-read and edit what I have written the previous day with a fresh perspective and then continue writing from there. I also always have a backstory for the key characters; personal history, education, relationships so that they are fully realised people once they are being put down on the page.

22. Do you have a muse?  If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?

Inspiration? Probably Kelly and my two sons. Kelly is definitely my muse and most ardent supporter though I do have other people who continue to be extremely important and enthusiastic about my writing.

23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?

Hellbound took my just over two years. I would have had it completed quicker but life gets in the way occasionally! My second novel will be finished by the end of this year.

24. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?

In Hellbound, the antagonist’s name needed to be something biblical and powerful yet at the same tie unusual. Hence I settled on Obadiah Stark for the name of the antagonist.

The protagonist was given the friendly Irish name of Joe O’Connell. The supporting characters where named after people I knew at work and some friends.

As for the location, I didn’t want to choose America or England but it needed to be somewhere familiar and relatable so I chose Ireland. The other reason for choosing Ireland was due to the fact that The Blasket Islands (a group of islands off the west coast of Ireland)  are quite a desolate place and seemed ideal to place a supermax prison where you might want to keep the worst of humanity out of the way! Though the locations in Hellbound are real, many of the organisations and businesses are fictional.

25. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write?  (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)

The only thing I like is some music in the background, something instrumental and either classical or a film score. Anything with lyrics and I get distracted!

26.What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?

I will only write in a really old wooden chair that irritates Kelly as it matches nothing in the house!

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ABOUT YOUR WORK::

27. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?

It would be fascinating to be Obadiah Stark for a day! Though having had him in my head for the past two years I feel as though I know him well…which is worrying as he is a serial killer!!

28. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?

Easy! John Cavizel as Obadiah Stark, Stephen Amell as Joe O’Connell and Jamie Alexander as Vicky Carter.

29. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?

Researching all about the death sentence and the process of an execution was quite challenging, as it isn’t necessarily information that is readily available, even in this age of the Internet. Though you could find basic information, finding out specific details about the drugs used and the exact routines used during the execution of a prisoner was at the same time difficult and disturbing.

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Thank you, David, for allowing me to interview you.  I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.

~Rachel

 

Author Interview – Lisa Montanino

Recently, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog.  (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.)  I asked everyone thirty-five questions — some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries — and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend and fellow-blogger, Lisa Montanino, had some very captivating responses which I’m sure will enchant you, as well.  After you read her interview, please be sure to hop on over to her blog and follow her for a regular dose of her charm and wit.  And now, I turn the microphone over to Lisa…

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ABOUT YOU:

1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:
My name is Lisa Montanino, I’m the author of the fiction novel, Feedback. I’m from Long Island, NY and have been writing for the last ten years. And I’m really good at miniature golf.

2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):
http://lisamontanino.wordpress.com/
Lmontanino@gmail.com
twitter @ldmontanino https://twitter.com/LDMontanino
facebook https://www.facebook.com/lilmountain

3. How many books have you written?
One… currently in process of writing second.

4. Has any of your work been published yet?  If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:
Yes, Feedback is published! You can buy it here:
http://www.amazon.com/Feedback-Lisa-Montanino-ebook/dp/B00J7PTQJU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398891344&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+montanino

5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing?  Why?  If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?
I chose to self-publish on Createspace and Kindle to have full rights of my writing project. Also to better learn the publishing process. What a long strange trip it’s been so far.  My plans for the future are to finish the sequel to Feedback and have that published by next year. So far all the readers can’t wait to know what happens next… they have asked me to hurry up and release the follow up novel asap… I’m so grateful to that response!

6. How old were you when you started writing?  When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I started writing when I was 30 and probably by the time the first two chapters morphed, I knew I wanted to finish it… make it a novel and become an author.

7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?
I love writing… couldn’t fathom not doing it really. Luckily I motivate myself and since having a book out… the readers reviews… their feedback have become another impetus for me as well.

8. Who are some of your favorite authors?  What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?
It’s a long list but my top five notables are: John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Klosterman, Nick Hornby, and Agatha Christie.

9. What is your preferred reading method?  (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.)  Why?
Physical book because it’s more of a visual treat and I just love the feel of it. kindle is great though… I use it when I travel and don’t want to lug all my books with me. Best of both worlds.

10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
Always first person… third person doesn’t feel natural to me. First person definitely does.

11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books?
I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t read jack when I was writing mine… maybe one or two in the year during that time and that was painful. But now that I’m more experienced as a writer… I’m able to multitask better as I’m writing my second one.  I usually don’t take breaks.

12. How many books would you say you read in a year?  How many at any one time?
Probably about ten in a year… depending on size and matter. With the exception of when I was writing one… about two a year.

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ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK:

13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?
Feedback – completed novel and the new one isn’t title yet… Nameless for now.

14. What is your novel’s genre?  Would you say there is a sub-genre?  What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?
Mine’s literary fiction… sub genres would be comedic, contemporary, romantic, philosophical… possibly chick literature… though it’s really geared towards readers of both sexes.  I think my book is different because there’s nothing out there like it.  It’s a year in the life of a radio dj… you go on this journey with her as she ponders her life.. decisions, mistakes, and the daily grind. I feel it’s very relatable to anyone in the work force. From what I’ve been told, especially by male readers, is that the male characters are strong and they feel I captured an accurate portrayal of what goes on in their minds. Also, the same applies for the female characters. Most of the characters were inspired by real people… I think that’s what helped in regards to writing realistic dialogue between the characters. Readers have said they laughed… couldn’t put it down, and were touched by the somber moments that appear at times.

15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?
People I meet or know… life events… sometimes how the sun shined that day. As of late… I’ve been pondering how fragile people can be, especially if they have an illness. I’ve always been empathetic to that in my volunteer endeavors even more so these days.

16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?
Probably the span from 20’s to 40’s primarily because of the characters but I think it will be appealing to younger and older generations as well. Though I do warn, no one under 18 should read it… they may enjoy it, but they won’t be able to fully absorb it.

17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?
Basically it’s a story about a female disc jockey that’s going through a very conflicting and chaotic time in her life. She’s trying her best to get through the heartbreak and turmoil of ending her relationship with her fiance. She finds help through co-workers and a therapist on her journey to get back to the simple life she once had… with laughs, tears, and tribulations along the way.

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ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE:

18. How often do you write?
Everyday… on breaks at my day job and when I get home from work. Sometimes early morning before work too.

19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?
Varies… usually 1000 to 2000 words or more.

20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?
I had my book professionally edited (you have to!) and will have my next one edited. I edit my blog posts.

21. What is your method of writing?  (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes?  Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters?  Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)
Great question. Usually I free flow write and work chapter by chapter in sequence… though I sometimes will leave a chapter unfinished to write an idea or storyboard for another chapter. After they’re all compiled… I go back to the beginning and start pruning!

22. Do you have a muse?  If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?
As blasé as it sounds… life is my muse. I don’t have one in particular though there are people in my life that constantly inspire me.  I tend to steer away from my personal life in my writings. I’m living it… I have no ambition to write about it i.e. an autobiography. In my opinion, it’s a lot more fun… rewarding to create something as opposed to repeat it.

23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?

My first one took me five years… sadly. I had a full-time day job and volunteer efforts to contend with. My current manuscript should be done within a year.

24. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel?  If so, please
elaborate.
No… though I probably should. The only rule I have is to write at least a sentence each day for my project.

25. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?
The names just come to me. Geography… at least in my last novel was inspired by my living out in California and traveling to UK… one of my favorite cities.

26. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?
Pretty extensive when I’m researching a subject. I usually write out notes… print out articles and then story board them to create a cohesive writing piece.

27. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write?  (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)
My must haves are a comfortable setting… usually lying down with laptop. Hot beverage(s) are usually consumed. Sometimes I like to listen to music too… helps the writing flow.

28. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location?  If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?
Not really… it’s whenever time permits. Either in my living room or when I’m traveling… especially on long plane rides.

29. Does your real life ever neglected because of your writing?  If so, how do you feel about that?
Yes it does. Not so much in the beginning phases of the book but once you get to the final stages of editing and what have you, that’s when it becomes trying. I didn’t go on a vacation last year because of it. And I couldn’t go to half of the events my friends invited me to. The book becomes a priority.

30. What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?
I sometimes talk to myself and my plants in the house or garden when no one’s around… I don’t know why (laughs). Can’t think of anything quirky I’ve done when I write.

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ABOUT YOUR WORK:

31. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?
So far it’s just one. Feedback.

32. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?
Probably the character Shane… He’s a fun one to write. I’d love to know what it feels like to have that much self-confidence, courage, and charisma.

33. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?
The perfect cast would mostly be comprised of seasoned actors that are too old for their parts.  Ideally it would be young versions of Michelle Pfeiffer (circa The Fabulous Baker Boys days) for Claire. A thin vibrant version of Alec Baldwin for Shane. Steve Zhan for Jared – yes. Kate Winslet or Michelle Williams for Sandra. Chris Hemsworth for Ethan… hands down. Ryan Reynolds or John F. Kennedy, Jr. with an English accent for Griffin. David Duchovny for John (therapist). And we’d have to have Kevin Spacey in there for good measure… probably as Warren Woods… actually I’d stipulate that! (laughs) Oh and Lana… I see present day Sandra Bullock, definitely.

34. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?
I don’t know if it constitutes odd but when I researched what goes on in the minds of men in their early twenty’s… wow. I love how it doesn’t change as they get older 😉

35. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?
Probably cognitive therapy… it taps into so much, endless really. It’s difficult to peace-meal it at times.

Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me Rachel! You’re a wonderful spirit and writer.

Cheers – Lisa.  

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Thank you, Lisa, for allowing me to interview you.  I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.

~Rachel