Blogger Interview: Sandra

Hello, friends.  A few of weeks ago, I encouraged fellow writers (and anyone else who wanted to play along) to write a short story to accompany the writing prompt I featured and then allow me to interview them.   As with many things new, a lot of times people like to wait until they see someone else dip their toe in the water before they take the plunge.  But I anticipated as much when I put the challenge out there.  So, rather than waiting for someone to be the first to respond to my writing prompt, I’m jumping right into the interview mode, without the homework.  Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of my newest blogging sisters as well as one of the most artistic and creative photographers I know, Sandra.

Please tell us your name and the links to your blog, website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.  When did you start photography? What motivated you to undertake learning all you could about photography?

Thank you again for having me over Rachel! My name is Sandra. I have been posting on Square One Notes since 2010. I have a Twitter account, my handle is: @squareonenotes although I’ve taken a social media hiatus lately. WordPress is currently my only regular haunt.

As far as my picture collection goes, the backstory is that my husband Erik bought me a Nikon for Christmas about five years ago. I took a class to learn how to use it and have enjoyed experimenting with it ever since.

Sandra

Do you offer any of your photos for sale?  If so, please share the link(s) to purchase your work:

I’m more of an enthusiast/hobbyist. I don’t consider myself a pro. I share my pictures on my blog. Taking pictures gets me out of my head. It allows me to disappear into my surroundings instead of my thoughts. It’s become a daily practice. I really enjoy it.

One of Sandra’s beautiful photographs!

What is the one thing you have done and the one thing you have not done during the course of your life that would most surprise (or shock) your readers? 

I have set off the fire alarm more than once while cooking a meal.

I have not had a drink in 17 months!

What is the one thing you have done and the one thing you have not done during the course of your life that would most surprise (or shock) your mother? 

I regularly serve store bought tortillas to my family. My mom always made them for us from scratch. They are so delicious when they are homemade but they are time consuming and labor intensive. Sorry mom, it’s true.

I did not always go to bed on time. In the days of call waiting I would dial up the lady who tells the time so my friends could beep into the line without the phone ringing so we could talk when I should have been sleeping.

If you could travel through time, what is one thing you wish you could tell your younger self, and would your younger self listen?

I would have given my younger self the money to buy tickets to that Nirvana concert I missed right before Kurt killed himself. I didn’t go because I was a broke college student at the time. Still makes me sad that he is gone.

If you had one year to prepare, which record do you think you would have the best shot at breaking in the Guinness Book of World Records?  Have you ever actually attempted to break a world record at anything?

I have never attempted breaking a record. I loved reading this book when I was a kid. I think I would have the best shot at breaking the record for most t-shirts worn at once. It would make my concert t-shirt collection famous!

I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing time with you Rachel! Thank you for welcoming me so warmly to your blog!

Xoxo,

Sandra

***

Thank you, Sandra, for answering my questions with such fun responses!  I hope everyone else has enjoyed getting to know you as much as I have.  (If I could talk to your and my own younger selves, I’d have gotten together the money and gone to that concert with you!)… By the way, I if anyone’s looking for me, I think I’m going to Sandra’s mom’s house for dinner! 😍

(If YOU would like to be featured in an upcoming interview, please visit my Call to Writers for details.)

Dear Writer…

I tried this last month, but didn’t get a big response.  So, let’s try this again.  (And, no, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke.)

The following announcement is geared mainly toward my writer friends.  Of course, if you’re not a writer, you’re still welcome to read, reply, and play along, but if you are a writer, you might have a particular interest in what I have to say today.

In the past, one of my more popular blog features has been my author interviews.  Not only did these help draw new traffic to my blog, but they helped market your work to a broader audience. I’ve decided to start a new feature called “Writing Prompt Wednesdays” wherein I will post a writing prompt, either text or pictorial, on the first Wednesday of each month.

I invite you to then take (click to open in a new tab, then right click and save) the prompt over to your own blog and use it to write a short story – say (roughly) between 100 and 800 words, telling what happened to lead up to the prompt, what happened after the prompt, why the prompt, or anything else relevant to the prompt.  Then reply to my post with the link to your post and be sure to include your email address so I can interview you.  For each subsequent Wednesday for the rest of the month, I’ll select one of your responses to feature on my blog along with an interview with you and the links to where we can purchase your work.

April’s Writing Prompt:

Click on this image to open in a new tab, then right click to save.

Actual history of this photo:  This awesome guy actually drives this Radio Flyer car around town, and I see him every so often.  He always gets a lot of looks, stares, honks, thumbs up, and people stopping traffic to get their cameras out and photograph him.  I think it looks really cool, but I’m afraid I’d be too embarrassed to drive it.  Bit I would  love to know what it looks like inside.
Photo: ©R. Carrera

Let’s talk:  Will you be participating in my Writing Prompt Wednesdays?  Would you have taken a photo of this “wagon” if you saw it driving down the road?  Would you ride in it?  What’s the strangest motor vehicle you’ve ever owned?

Author Interview: Mike Steeden

 

Hello, friends.  A few weeks ago, I encouraged fellow writers (and anyone else who wanted to play along) to write a short story to accompany the writing prompt I featured and then allow me to interview them.   As with many things new, a lot of times people like to wait until they see someone else dip their toe in the water before they take the plunge.  But I anticipated as much when I put the challenge out there.  So, rather than waiting for someone to be the first to respond to my prompt, I’m jumping right into the interview mode, sans the homework.  Today, I’d like to introduce you to my favorite Knight of the British Empire, Sir Mike Steeden!   (Okay, he hasn’t technically been knighted yet, but I’m sure once the Queen reads about him here on my blog, she’ll make time on her royal calendar to invite him over for tea and she’ll take care of it then.)  Without further ado, heeeeeere’s Mike!

Please tell us your name (or pen name) and the links to your blog, website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc. When did you start writing? What motivated you to undertake writing your first novel?

Mike Steeden

Firstly, young Rachel, my thanks for the invite. In doing so you must surely be a tad crazed…and there’s nowt wrong with that, all the best people I know are bonkers.   Anyway, I go by the name Mike Steeden, a one-time Private Detective specialising in fraud investigations, now a fast aging-juvenile.

When did I start writing? As a person who cannot spell for toffee, I have to say, “Since ‘Post it’ notes became redundant, and not long after the moment ‘spellcheck’ magically appeared on Word.”

The reason I began writing was to unburden my…such as it is…chock-a-block brain of the plague of words it had housed for far too long.

You can find Mike at his blog at: https://mikesteeden.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/michaelsteeden or simply @michaelsteeden.

Please offer us a snippet of your most recently published novel and tell us what it’s about. Also, please share the link(s) to purchase your work:

I well remember the day ‘The Blue-Eyed Cat’…a lovely gal also known as sweet ‘Lily’…had finally been freed from her solitary confinement within the lonely prison cell that is my dark and, of late, empty skull. At last at liberty, the world was now her oyster and boy has she, against all odds, enjoyed herself.

Herewith the ‘blurb’ thing that, in essence, describes Lily’s tale without giving too much away:

‘A book of mind-boggling time-travel, feverish sex, syrupy romance, ho hum history, a dark future, The Moon, Constantinople, Paris and Berlin human consciousness, infinity, a tongue in cheek take on all things carnal, art for art’s sake and three thoroughly mad yet oh so delightful gals.’

Insofar as the overtly risqué shenanigans Lily and chums…both female and male…get up to, shenanigans that committed prudes would no doubt declare as obscene all I can say in my unnecessary defence is that they are nought but an exaggerated take upon the nonconformist life my delightful, yet deliciously, uncontrollable Shirl, long since decided we adopt. By Jove we’ve had some fun.

I believe it is of some importance that ‘The Blue-Eyed Cat’ does have the potential to appeal to free-thinkers, Bohemians, Mata Hari on an average day, Ms Dietrich when the fancy takes, dab hand illiterates, raving lunatics of any and all persuasions plus, of course, uninhibited romantics. Having said that, this is definitely not a book suitable for killjoy Great Aunt Maud, the local Vicar, pious Uncle Percy, racists, sexists, homophobes, those of a sensitive disposition nor, sadly in many respects, swoony types.

You can purchase “The Blue-Eyed Cat” and the rest of Mike’s work at: https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Steeden/e/B015WAUW8C?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1583784194&sr=8-1

Mike was then asked to select three of the next few questions I posed and answer them as he chose.  He selected the following:

If you had one year to prepare, which record do you think you would have the best shot at breaking in the Guinness Book of World Records? Have you ever actually attempted to break a world record at anything?

I’ve never really felt the need to be the best at something or break records. It’s likely the alpha-male gene took one look at me and thought ‘no’. Having said that, I once, late teens, lead the field in a school cross-country run in Richmond Park…a park overlooking the River Thames, south of London and favoured by Henry XIII when not beheading his wives…for the first 5 strides of the long-distance race. I was rather proud of that small success.

After that minor victory I fell hopelessly behind my enthusiastic peer group. However, albeit by unhappy chance, I found that I’d done so well that I’d been chosen for the County of Surrey team in the upcoming annual county contest.

How so, one might ask? Well, what happened was that bringing up the rear, instead of running round the large lake known as ‘Pen Ponds’ like the others, I in my lack of wisdom, spotted a walkway that dissected said lake in two. You see, taking that path enabled me to both shorten my part in the tedious run, and also allow me a little time to enjoy a puff of nicotine. The beauty of my scheme was that, if I made the right choice when re-joining the others…the keen ones…I’d defeat the ignominy of coming in last.

How wrong I was. My calculations not fit for purpose. Unbeknownst to me at that time, I’d prematurely re-joined far too early! The net result was that I’d come in third in a field of over 80 adolescent athletes. The word ‘bollocks’ came to mind as the Sports Master passed on…to him at least…the good news that I’d made the county team.

I never did take my place with the others come the big day. My cunning plan, soaking my right foot in a bucket of beetroot juice for several hours in order that the authentic look of a foot damaged beyond repair would not be in doubt, saved me.

What characteristics, personality traits, likes, or dislikes does the protagonist in your most recently published novel share with you?

Ah, Lily the protagonist. Small, yet perfectly formed, a gal who takes life as it comes; a gal who never gives up on a good cause, despite the curse of dilemmas, the predicaments she finds herself in, and the perilous dangers she has to overcome when seeing to it that fascist Nazi’s get their comeuppance. The bravest gal in all of time…almost, yet that’s the way she’d have it. That she, not unlike my dear Shirl, finds fervent romance and all that that unveils along the way a characteristic that is the one that appeals to me most.

If you could travel through time and take any character from your most recently published novel, who would you take and why? Would you travel to the future or the past and why?

Without a shadow of a doubt it would have to be the incorrigible Lady Freya Hella, a dyed in the wool charmer of lesbian persuasion, who is not just a time-traveller, but time itself. A lady of compassion towards the suffering good and by far the worst enemy the wicked would ever want to know. Additionally, and by nature, Freya defines love in all its definitions.

It is thus, rather than me take her upon a journey across time, she would…hopefully…ask me to join her in the escapade as we, along with sweet Lily, turned back time.

You asked in which time direction would I travel. Backwards, my answer, always backward for I wish to see history in factual progress rather than foolishly take it as read that any and all historical accounts are unambiguous.

Thank you, Sir Mike, for taking the time to answer all my nosy questions with such fascinating responses!  I wish you the best of success with “The Blue-Eyed Cat” as well as with your many other titles for sale!

(If YOU would like to be featured in an upcoming interview, please visit my Call to Writers for details.)

Author Interview: C.S. Boyack

Hello, friends.  A couple of weeks ago, I encouraged fellow writers (and anyone else who wanted to play along) to write a short story to accompany the writing prompt I featured and then allow me to interview them.   As with many things new, a lot of times people like to wait until they see someone else dip their toe in the water before they take the plunge.  But I anticipated as much when I put the challenge out there.  So, rather than waiting for someone to be the first to respond to my prompt, I’m jumping right into the interview mode, sans the homework.  Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite blogging brothers as well as one of the most productive (and most imaginative) authors I know, C.S. (Craig) Boyack*.

*(Don’t let the word count here deter you from reading the whole thing… Craig’s discussion of his book “Grinders” will captivate you, and his answers to my questions will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat!)  Without further ado, I hereby present C.S. Boyack:

Thanks for inviting me over to kick off your author interview series today. I hope it becomes a big hit on your blog.

Rachel was one of my first blogging friends and earliest supporters. I lost track of her for a while, as we all did, but I’m thrilled to see her back.

My first question involves giving you the basics about myself and providing a few links where you can contact me and read my books. Always the rebel, I try to provide my bio box these days along with all the links.

You can contact Craig at the following locations:

Blog   |   My Novels   |  Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Facebook   |   Pinterest   |   BookBub

One of the cool things about Rachel is she’s very artistic. I doubt many other authors could boast this, but she made two of my favorite book covers. As an encouragement to click on the “My Novels” link above, check out ‘Will O’ the Wisp’ and ‘The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack.’ She did a fabulous job on the covers, and I still move copies of those titles.

Let’s see… I’m supposed to tell you about my newest book and provide a snippet.

The new book is called Grinders. It’s a bit of science fiction known as cyberpunk, and I’m pretty excited about it. It’s about police officers chasing criminals known as grinders. These people operate back-room surgeries to install small bits of hardware and software into their customers. It’s almost like the tattoo industry and the plastic surgery gone haywire if you want to think of it like that. That’s the plot, but cyberpunk is largely about the environment, and it’s extensive in the story. It’s almost a character in its own right.

A small sample, but I want to lead you in first. My main character, Jimi, is a painter in her off hours. She’s purchased a Bloody Mary, then taken it to the roof of her building to work on a new project. She is accompanied by her cat, Cole, who is a robot:

***

The rooftop was windy, so Jimi set up behind the doorway. The garden held all manner of vegetables, and there were even some tropical fruit trees. The bananas weren’t quite ripe but made an interesting picture. She opened her photos and found the street scene with the drone and raindrops. “Can you project this across my canvas, Cole? I want to draw the… Cole?”

Cole sat across the roof from her on the very edge of the safety wall. A group of swallows flitted just outside his reach.

“I thought you were going to help me.”

“We discussed no such thing. Besides, I’m a cat. Disdain is part of our charm.”

“Ugh!” Jimi returned to her canvas and drink. Her phone made a small hologram but didn’t project it. She tried to draw the street scene as best as she could. Cole could always project it later, so she could adjust the proportions.

She snitched one of the peppers and dipped it into her drink. By the time Cole interrupted her, she’d figured out the best place to situate the drone in the painting and decided to expand the composition so some of the lights from the grid and neon from the stores made it into the image.

“Sorry to interrupt, but the crew is ready to place your vases,” Cole said.

“Okay. We got a few hours of sun, at least.” She bundled up her things then grabbed the glass. “How are the birds?”

“Maddeningly, intelligent enough to stay out of reach.”

“Millions of years of evolution, pal. That’s their edge.”

***

If you’d like to check it out, this is the purchase link: http://mybook.to/Grinders

Moving on to the next question. If, for one day, you could be any character from your most recently published novel, who would it be and why?

This is a tough one for me, because I don’t know that I’d want to be anyone else. Since it’s only for a day, I’m going to choose Lou. He’s the senior partner to Jimi who I mentioned above. I’d kind of like to explore the cyberpunk world of San Francisco, and he’d be a good one to do it as. I’d get to experience things that are important to the story, like The Grid, robotic and holographic characters, and might even go see the electronic forest before they turn it all into plywood. Then maybe I’d have a nightcap with his holographic girlfriend, Piper.

If the protagonist in your most recently published novel came to life and moved next door to you, would they be a good neighbor?

Either Jimi or Lou would be good neighbors. First of all they’re cops, so that has something going for it. Then there is the fun of creating a cyberpunk world. It’s near future, so I had to do a little projecting based upon where we are right now. The Internet has taken over so much of our lives that people don’t interact much today. We all live in our own little microcosms and this doesn’t change in the future. Having one of them next door wouldn’t be intrusive at all. Jimi is a bit more outgoing, so she might be painting in her back yard from time to time. Although, her cat might stalk the bird feeders a bit.

Even the antagonist in the story wouldn’t be a horrible neighbor. He spends most of his time indoors obsessing over his own personal problems.

What is the one thing you have done and the one thing you have not done during the course of your life that would most surprise (or shock) your readers?

This is a tough one, Rachel. Mostly because people are so judgmental, and I have a public image to maintain. I’m going to go for it and see what happens. I have an ulterior motive, because I’m thinking about writing a novel that would include some of this.

As a young man, I stuck my nose into every dark hole in the west. I’m talking about from the high arctic of Canada to Mexico. Most of these were the result of hunting or fishing trips. I know the vocal minority thinks this is horrible today, but back then it was a way of life for many of us.

I haven’t fired a rifle in twenty years now, but would again if the motivation hit me. What I gained from it is real life experience. This all happened before cellular phones, and when you’re three hundred miles into the wilderness you can’t call for pizza or an ambulance. You have to figure some things out for yourself. I have insight into a world that no longer exists. I’ve seen herds of caribou and musk oxen. I’ve been startled by the buzzing of a rattlesnake, and even played with horny toads as a kid. Having a beer with the Inuit people in their town hall was fun.

One of the advantages to an author is that I know how firearms work, and what they’re suited for. You’ll never hear the pump-racking sound of a double barreled shotgun in one of my stories. (Double barreled weapons don’t have a pump mechanism.) I also know how to build a camp and start the fire. Any zombie apocalypse I decide to take on will have realistic elements in the story.

Leading to the second part of the question, I’ve eaten a buffalo tongue (and testicles). I’ve dug my own clams and hauled in buckets full of Dungeness crabs, then cleaned and cooked them myself. I had to survive for a week on a cube of butter, some Pop-Tarts, and a case of beer. Good thing the river was full of silver salmon, and butter is a great way to cook them.

So to get to the second part of the question, I’ve never once eaten a raw oyster. I know people love them, and I might one day, but it really doesn’t appeal to me.

This interview has gotten long with the snippet included, but I’m going to tack a blurb on anyway. I hope your fans will take a chance on Grinders, and thanks for having me over.

***

Blurb:  Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.

 

Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.

 

Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.

 

Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.

 

Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.

 

This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.

I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

***

Thank you, Craig, for taking the time to answer my questions with such mesmerizing responses!  (And also thank you for the kind words!)  I wish you the best of success with “Grinders” as well as with your many other titles for sale!  (Buffalo testicles, really?  Wow!)

(If YOU would like to be featured in an upcoming interview, please visit my Call to Writers for details.)

Dear Writer…

The following announcement is geared mainly toward my writer friends.  Of course, if you’re not a writer, you’re still welcome to read, reply, and play along, but if you are a writer, you might have a particular interest in what I have to say today.

In the past, one of my more popular blog features has been my author interviews.  Not only did these help draw new traffic to my blog, but they helped market your work to a broader audience. I’ve decided to start a new feature called “Writing Prompt Wednesdays” wherein I will post a writing prompt, either text or pictorial, on the first Wednesday of each month.

I invite you to then take (click to open in a new tab, then right click and save) the prompt over to your own blog and use it to write a short story – say (roughly) between 100 and 800 words, telling what happened to lead up to the prompt, what happened after the prompt, or anything else relevant to the prompt.  Then reply to my post with the link to your post and be sure to include your email address so I can interview you.  For each subsequent Wednesday for the rest of the month, I’ll select one of your responses to feature on my blog along with an interview with you and the links to where we can purchase your work.

Today’s Writing Prompt:

Click on this image to open in a new tab, then right click to save.

Actual history of this photo:  As soon as I stepped outside Target and looked for my car, I spied this vehicle parked next to mine.  I thought it was kind of funny how much stuff was loaded on the back, but when I stepped around to open my door and glanced in their passenger seat, I knew I had to get the camera out.
Photo: ©R. Carrera

Let’s talk:  Will you be participating in my new Writing Prompt Wednesdays?  Would you have taken a photo of this car if it was parked next to yours?  Do you ever take photos of strange things you encounter during your daily travels for no other reason but to document what you saw?