Writer Wednesday: Author Tracey Deming, Founder of RoM Relief

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1379473_10202179423357635_1463831534_nAuthor Tracey Deming, Founder of RoM Relief

M.L. Gardner staunchly supports special causes. For this reason, she’s delighted to introduce you to today’s Writer Wednesday featuring Author Tracey Deming and her non-profit group, RoM Relief.  Tracey and her team of authors, editors, and book designers/marketers from around the world have combined forces to produce, “Winds of Change,” a book benefiting Oklahoma storm damage victims. Please purchase the book here, and help Oklahoma residents get back on their feet.

What is RoM Relief? What inspired you to begin this non-profit?

RoM Relief is short for Realm of Meard Relief. I created Realm of Meard many eons ago when I began my writing career. The Realm of Meard is the world from which I write, it is where all my hopes and dreams have been born and where all things impossible become reality. When faced with the need to establish a non-profit venture to facilitate self-publishing book collections and other fundraising opportunities, it only made sense to me to name it after my world of dreams where everything is possible. I live in Oklahoma, and when devastation hit my state, my town, and my immediate community, I felt driven to do something. I wanted to put together a simple collection of stories, and publish online to raise funds for my neighbors, but over the course of several months I learned how NOT simple a task that would be.

What is your latest project with RoM Relief?

Our first project that inspired and created the need for RoM Relief is “Winds of Change,” a collection of fantasy short stories from authors all over the world.

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From Realms of Fantasy spring hearts of gold, as Authors across the world bring you a sampling of short stories to raise funds for Oklahoma Storm Victims. Within these pages, you will find Vampires and their Hunters, Dragons, Elves and Mutants, Twists and Turns of Fate, as well as stories of Love, Destiny, and Childhood lost.

Presented by Realm of Meard © Relief Charity Publishing, we invite you to share a glimpse of our worlds, in order to become the Winds of Change for our devastated community members.” Authors Inside Include:

Mandi Bean, Brielle C., Pete Clark, Tara Clark, Sarah Daltry, Lexi Delouvre, Tracey Deming, William D Dickerson, Lara Henley, William Lloyd Jenkins, Sara Marion, Sarah Menary, Michael Mounts, Simon Parker, Tania Penn, Jack Phillips, Cindy Ponds-Newell, Vivian K Smith, and Ron Stelle.

Editing services by Literary Editor Rogena Mitchell-Jones and Karen Jones of Rogena Mitchell-Jones Manuscript Services at www.rogenamitchell.com.

Cover and Design by www.bookdesignsbydee.com. Marketing and Promotional package by Janel Kane with www.puddingtane.com.

What specifically will the proceeds from “Winds of Change” buy?

Gift cards to be distributed to families affected by the severe storm damage in Oklahoma. While the government and large charity organizations help with the initial devastation and provide grants for rebuilding, families still need help meeting their everyday needs. When your entire home is scrubbed to the foundation, and all you have left is your life, it takes a tremendous amount of time and help to rebuild just the essentials.

Where can readers go if they wish to donate additional money to RoM Relief? Are there other ways they can help?

We have a PayPal account set up under ReliefFund@realmofmeard.com for additional donations. Local fundraising events will be announced on the official Facebook page for RoM Relief @ www.facebook.com/RoMRelief. In addition to donating money, or buying our project book collections, people can help spread the word about the books on their social media pages. We understand that not everyone has money to give, that is the reason that drove me to put together “Winds of Change”. I wanted a way to use my talents as an author to help those in need in my community.

What is the hardest and most joyful thing about putting together a collection of short stories with other authors?

The hardest thing is sorting through the submissions and rejecting the few that just wouldn’t fit with our collection. The most joyful thing was seeing what a large response to the collection there was. I had responses from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, Africa, as well as nationwide in the United States. The willingness of people to donate their time and hard work to this project has humbled me beyond words. The people working on this project are truly a testament of the human spirit, and I look forward to creating many more collections in the future.

What advice would you give to others wishing to start a non-profit?

Research, research, research. When I first had the idea of the book collection I had no idea of the legal hoops and hurdles that came along with it. I was just a person wanting to help others, now I am an Author, Publisher, and Business Entrepreneur forged in the fires of necessity. Non-profits are a labor of love, expect to work longer, harder, and more than you ever would for a regular 9-5 gig. Be positive, keep your goal always at the forefront of your mind, do not give up. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance.

How can our readers contact you? email, Facebook, Twitter, blog

tracey@traceydeming.com is my professional email address. ReliefFund@realmofmeard.com is also available for contact and PayPal purposes. www.facebook.com/Tracey.R.Deming is my personal FB page and I do accept friend requests from other authors and readers for networking purposes, I just ask that they send a quick message with their request so I know who and why they are requesting me to friend them. www.facebook.com/RoMRelief for the charity page, www.facebook.com/RealmofMeard for fans of my personal novels, https://twitter.com/RealmofMeard is connected to FB RoM page and will also post updates. My forums are connected to my webpage at www.TraceyDeming.com, where authors and readers alike are encouraged to register and post their details.

Feel free to add anything about yourself, your books, your non-profit, etc.

Writing to me is like taking the sexiest, strangest, most powerful beings you can dream up, then scramble their heart and minds as horribly as you can possibly imagine, just to watch them come to life and surprise even me with their spirit and determination. I think I enjoy discovering the plot more than the readers do.

My first published material, “Ravenfire” will be included in the first book from RoM Relief Charity Publishing, “Winds of Change” I am currently working on my novel “Oath Keepers” which I will be splitting into three novella sections for online publication. The first of the series will be: Oath Keepers: Journey Bound, followed by Oath Keepers: Journey Lost, and Oath Keepers: Journey’s Oath. I expect the first one to be available by end of 2013 or early 2014. For updates please refer to my contact pages.

Music Monday: Musician Kaela Sinclair

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She’s a musical dream. The melodies, the lyrics, the vocals, and many of the instrumentals are all her own. Meet Kaela Sinclair, a 23 year old indie musician from Denton, Texas who is making tidal waves in the industry. Kaela infuses her tracks with depth and layers yet still manages to exude a restorative simplicity. I think you readers will appreciate this unique sound so much that you’ll feel you can literally inhale it deep into your lungs like a breath of fresh air.  Enjoy.

What is your name?

Kaela Sinclair

Describe your music style to our readers.

My music has been described as alternative indie pop with a cinematic, dreamy quality. I like to think that my songs lay in the happy place between mainstream and underground music. I enjoy writing complex chord progressions, but I think melodies should be natural and easy to grab onto. My lyrical style tends to be introspective and sometimes philosophical, but relationships and romantic endeavors certainly find their way into my songs as well.

How and why did you become a musician? Are you full-time?

I am a full-time musician. When I’m not writing, recording, or performing my original music, I’m teaching private music lessons and doing all sorts of paying gigs in a variety of styles. I’ve been playing music since a very young age. My parents tell me I started singing around the same time I started talking. A few years later, I started learning piano on an old upright we had in the house, and I started writing songs shortly after that. I’ve come a long way since then, having put in years of musical training and study.

What inspires you?

I’m very inspired by the works of other musicians. I’m particularly fond of Impressionist and Romantic classical music. The piano music of Debussy and Chopin always makes me want to write. I also listen to a lot of modern bands and singers. There are too many to name in full, but my current favorites are Poliça, Local Natives, Oh Land, and Bombay Bicycle Club. Of course, I’m inspired by real life experiences too – good and bad, personal and universal.

Describe a typical day.

On a typical day, I wake up later than most people (to my credit, musicians’ schedules tend to be shifted much later). I get up, work on emails, and run errands. If it’s a weekday I drive to work around 3pm and get home around 9pm or 10pm. I teach private music lessons, mostly to kids. I teach voice, piano, guitar, songwriting, and music theory. Nighttime is my creative time. That’s when I practice, write, and continue to take care of what I call “business chores” (emails, social media, booking, etc.) Sometime after midnight I might do something relaxing like listen to music, watch TV, or read a book. On the weekend (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) I am typically performing music somewhere in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. The gigs can start around 8 or 9pm, and can end as late as 3am. My life is really busy, but I’m so glad I get to make my living doing music.

What are 3 fun things we should know about you?

I was homeschooled for a long time. A lot of my early childhood was spent hanging out with my Mom and my brothers. I credit homeschool with my love of reading. It might have also contributed to some of the social awkwardness I exhibited in high school, but hey, who wasn’t a little awkward in high school? Speaking of reading, I’m almost finished with the very long Game of Thrones book series. It’s thousands of pages of fantastical, grown-up fun. I love it. I also love lemons. I mean, I LOVE lemons. I eat them by themselves and I put lemon juice on everything. Oh, and I’m left-handed!

What advice would you give to other musicians?

Practice. Practice hard. Spend time learning the ins and outs of your instrument and of the theory of music. Don’t stop. I’ve already seen a lot of talented musicians quit music and take day jobs in unrelated fields. If having a family is a priority, that’s fine, but if you want to have a musical career, you have to keep going. It’s not the quickest or the surest road to financial security, so you have to really be okay with some shaky times, but it’s worth it if you love it!

Connect With Her

There are many ways to stay updated on my music! For shows, news, music, videos, and other updates ‘like’ me on Facebook and ‘follow’ me on Twitter! Download my brand new album on Bandcamp and iTunes.

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Listen and Download 

My debut LP, Sun & Mirror, was released October 8th. It was produced by myself and drummer McKenzie Smith (Midlake, St. Vincent, Regina Spektor, Sarah Jaffe) at Redwood Studios in Denton, TX. It was called “…one of the best albums to emerge from the DFW area thus far in 2013.” by DFW.com. You can hear the album and purchase it at www.kaelasinclair.bandcamp.com and on iTunes!

Why I didn’t write for 20 years.

Once upon a time at the young age of 12, I liked to write short stories involving me and my best friend where every story involved us babysitting together and ending up needing to solve some mystery. (Who knew, right! It’s safe to say I was kicking myself in the arse a few years later when ‘The Babysitter’s Club’ hit the market.) Well, even though I knew it was the grammatically horrible ramblings of a preteen, I still loved doing it, and it validated my thoughts that I was capable of some decent ideas. After some not so great feedback from an adult (“They’re so dark and depressing!”), I tossed the stack of shorts aside, they ended up in the garbage and I dropped writing for fun for at least a year.

Then my new best friend, (Hey, we moved a lot) and I started writing this…book?…series?…serial? I’m not really sure what it was. We had some neat ideas that we used to start the story, and we would take turns writing several pages. I’d write five pages and run it over to her house. She’d read and pick it up where I left off. The story and characters took twists and turns based on what was in each of our imaginations, and we never knew what to expect when one handed her work to the other. It was terrible fun. Even after I moved again, we kept it up for almost a year, sending our chapters through the mail. Then, as we got busy with the start of junior high, it became harder to keep up long distance. Slowly it tapered off and then stopped altogether. By then I was absorbed in my life and Madonna, and though I had some fantastic stuff running through my head, I didn’t take the time to write it down. Some of the magic was lost without someone to share it with. I needed inspiration. We lost touch, and it was years later before we found each other through the internet. We talked on the phone and laughed about those stories. We still remembered quite a bit of them, too.

I found the inspiration to write again a year later in, of all places, family therapy. Hey, it was the 90’s and therapy was all the rage. In fact in my circle, if your family wasn’t in therapy, something was wrong with you. And they say the 70’s were strange.

Our family therapist was new, eager and talented.

And amazingly beautiful.

I sat hour after hour just staring at him with googly eyes, nodding at whatever he said. The first appointment my mother had to drag me to the office. Every appointment after, I was rushing her to get there.

And so, awash in fifteen year old naivety and positive I was “in love” and somehow this would work out, I started writing again. Only I didn’t pick up mine and my friend’s story or the babysitting mysteries. I started writing Love Stories. It was some of the most horrible hormonally charged crap you’ve ever read. With such a strong emphasis on crap. I laugh now thinking back on the moonlit picnics and ridiculous declarations of love. Oh, for the love of cheesy whine. Even though the main characters had different names, you and I know exactly who I was writing about. I had flaxen hair and he had bulging biceps. There was even an episode where he came in riding a white horse to spirit me away from my miserable family life.

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(Cringe! To this day I can’t even look at a Harlequin book cover.)

Regardless, this opened up all kinds of possibilities with writing and I was on fire. I wrote furiously every day.

UNTIL, the notebook was found.

And delivered to the therapist.

And read aloud in therapy.

And then, I died.

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Or at least I really, really wanted to. For the adults involved, they thought they were “looking out for me” and wanted to make sure that nothing unprofessional was going on. For me, it traumatically cured me of writing anything down for a very long time. I am being serious when I say that I didn’t so much as write a grocery list for the better part of twenty years. I forgot what my own handwriting looked like and that was fine with me.

After that I kept stories in my head where they were safe. No one could mock me or embarrass me if I didn’t utter a word about them. I had three or four books running in my head and I’d picture the words typed on a typewriter and could fly in my mind to this section or that. The beautiful part of writing like this is that it needed no editing. It always came out perfect. The down side was, it wasn’t enough. But with my belief that I couldn’t survive the possibility of being found out and mocked, I settled to keep it all inside my mind.

I trudged along memorizing grocery lists, settling down in Washington State, having babies and getting fat, taking college classes and losing weight. I spent many late hours in Sherry’s restaurant eating way too much cheesecake with Lisa, talking about mundane housewife stuff and what we wanted to be when we grew up.

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When we were bored with talking about ourselves, we spent a fair amount of time gossiping, as girlfriends do. And when I went home, that gossip always spurred ideas for plot lines. Most of them were crap but the point is, my wheels were still turning.

And so went my life for the next ten years or so, lying to myself that I was content to read, gossip and write stories in my head. Until that one day.

I was sitting at home watching the bloodshed on Wall street when the market crashed in 2008. I remember the horror the day it dropped 777 points. I had always been fascinated with the Great Depression and had read everything I could get my hands on about the period. And the way things were shaping up in this country financially, I was seeing an encore performance of those hard years. I grabbed my books, compared charts and graphs and had this feeling of dread wash over me. The roaring twenties were definitely over for us. After several hours of being glued to CNBC, I had to change the channel. It wasn’t getting any better and I just couldn’t look at the train wreck any longer. I flipped through the channels with my mind floating off to one of the many far off places it loved to roam. But this one wouldn’t leave me alone. Plot lines and ideas started swirling around and quite literally haunted me. It wasn’t long before I had to force myself to sit down and start the story. It wasn’t enough to see it in my head. I did so in private, (occasionally with my laptop under a blanket) hiding my files on a thumb drive under a boring name (Clinical research studies of Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria) and then hiding that thumb drive in a box, under clothes in the bottom drawer of my dresser. Eventually I found the courage to tell my husband and Lisa what I was doing. The husband was supportive though he didn’t understand my hyper-paranoia, nor why I went into a flustered freak out whenever someone walked in the room when I was writing. Lisa was engrossed and involved from the minute I let her have a peek into this secret world.

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She was a massive source of inspiration to keep goin, and I leaned pretty heavily on her in those days. I finished 1929 and then spent several months debating on whether or not to put it “out there”. Again, Lisa was encouraging, pushing and supporting. After several near nervous breakdowns and more than a few bottles of Jameson, I did. And I survived.  After I realized I would in fact live knowing strangers were reading my book, we dove into the next one. I wasn’t immediately cured, mind you. The first three releases were amazingly agonizing for me. My God, the melodrama Lisa had to put up with! But each one does get a bit easier. I’m finally to the point where I mostly look forward to a release. I keep my head in the books and the demons stay in the closet. Most of the time. And the rest, as they say, is historical fiction.

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Free-For-All Friday: Artist Thomas Philbrook

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We’re pleased as punch to introduce you to artist Thomas Philbrook, a resident of Rockport, MA which, as most of you know, is  the setting for the majority of M.L. Gardner’s 1929 Series. And to top it off, many of Philbrook’s images portray Rockport in all sorts of bold and colorful, unusual ways. With an offbeat perspective, this photographer, illustrator and graphic designer takes his photographs to fantastical levels and creates gorgeous, inspiring, and thought-provoking digital fine art. Please, please, please check out his website here, and see his images for yourself. Go ahead, and do it now.  We’ll wait for you………… Did you see them?  They’re quite spectacular, aren’t they?  Okay, now you may continue to read more about the talented Thomas Philbrook.

What is your name?

Thomas A Philbrook (Tom)

Describe your products.

On Etsy I sell blank notecard versions of the photo-based digital images I create.

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How and why did you open an Etsy store? Is your Etsy shop your full time job?

I started my Etsy store principally as a promotional vehicle for my images which I sell in a couple shops here in beautiful Rockport Massachusetts. And “nope” – my Etsy shop is not a full time job. I split my time between pursuing my own picture-making and working part-time as a graphic designer/illustrator – a profession I’ve had for the past 35 years.

What inspires you?

In addition to a number of favorite artists, my inspiration comes from the natural world around us — its diversity, beauty and spirituality. Also lately, I’ve enjoyed introducing whimsy into my landscapes by incorporating toys and images evocative of childhood. The creation of my images is a combo-deal, employing cameras, computer equipment, and my imagination. As I’ve already said, I’ve a deep regard for nature and my pictures reflect this. I’m especially fond of zeroing in on — and sometimes tweaking — that which goes unnoticed by the casual observer. By studying nature at a more intimate level, I might try to draw your attention to some of the more unique qualities of the wondrous world around us. The computer allows me to tinker and play with pictures, taking the viewer on a walk through a newly ‘conjured-up’ world.

Describe a typical day.

A typical day usually begins around 5:00am. If it’s light enough, I’ll grab my camera and head outdoors for a walkabout for an hour or so. After that, if I have a “real job” commitment that day I’ll stick my nose in front of a Mac computer churning out whatever graphic design challenge is queued up. But my preferred day would be one spent ‘beginning’ or ‘working on’ or ‘finalizing’ one of my own creations. As with the real job, this sort of day also involves being plopped in front of a Mac for the day. It’s where the magic happens.

What are 3 fun things we should know about you?

1. I could eat Italian food seven nights a week. 2. I’m a world-class bench-sitter. 3. I have a pumpkin stem collection.

What advice would you give to others beginning their own businesses?

Only pay attention to about half of what people advise you about. Follow your heart first and foremost.

 Connect with Thomas Philbrook

Facebook

Website

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Email: tphilbrook@verizon.net

If you are visiting Rockport Massachusetts, please visit the Rockport Art Association and the Toad Hall Bookstore where I – and others more talented than myself – have work on display. I hope my work will find an audience who enjoys it as much as I enjoy making it. Thank you!

Writer Wednesday: Author Laurie Breton

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Today, M.L. Gardner is proud to bring you USA Today bestselling author, Laurie Breton! Laurie has penned 10 novels and 1 novella, the most recent being the Jackson Fall Series, a deeply emotional romantic journey which I have personally enjoyed and recommend.  She’s an expert at telling a story, having done so since childhood, and her focus on relationships goes beyond the typical boy meets girl romance novel and demonstrates the realities and complications of real love.  Laurie is an author with a full-time job and a passion for painting and picture making.  Click the Jackson Fall Series covers above to buy her books.

What is your name?

Laurie Breton

Describe your books/genre to our readers.

I am currently working on the latest book in my Jackson Falls Series, which has received fabulous reviews and built a solid fan base. It’s women’s fiction/romance; here’s a quick description of COMING HOME, the first book in the series: Aspiring songwriter Casey Bradley is just eighteen years old when handsome, charismatic singer Danny Fiore storms into her life and turns it upside down. Danny has a voice that rips her heart to shreds and leaves it bleeding, combined with a single, blinding ambition: to become a rock star.. Neither of them plans on falling in love, but sometimes, the heart has a mind of its own. Together with guitar wizard Rob MacKenzie, Casey writes the songs that catapult her husband to a fame beyond their wildest imaginings. But life with Danny isn’t everything she expected; rivers of darkness flow through her troubled marriage, and every time Danny breaks her heart, it’s her best friend, Rob, who picks her up, dusts her off, and glues the pieces back together. It isn’t until tragedy strikes that Casey realizes how lost she is, and begins to question who she is and what she really wants from life. As she searches for herself amidst the wreckage, she discovers the bittersweet truth that the choices a woman makes at thirty may differ vastly from those she made at eighteen.

How and why did you become an author? Do you write full time?

Oh, how I wish I could write full-time. But, alas, I’m addicted to luxuries like groceries and electricity and toilet paper. So I’m still working at the same day job I’ve had for 28 years as an administrative assistant at the local branch of our state university. I’ve been writing since I was eight years old, and the road to publication was long, slow, and twisted. I worked on the same book (Coming Home) off and on for two decades before it occurred to me that if I really wanted a career as a writer, I needed to a) finish the darn thing, and b) overcome my natural shyness and SHOW IT to somebody. After that, it got easier. I wrote the second book in the series, Sleeping With the Enemy, and a third, unrelated book, Black Widow, before I found a couple of teeny-tiny online publishers, in the early days of e-books (around 1999), who put them into print. My fourth book, Final Exit, caught the interest of a New York agent, and he got me a three-book contract with MIRA to write romantic suspense. This was followed by a second three-book contract before, in a purging of midlist authors, I was released. By this time, I was burned out, writing a book a year on deadline while still working a full-time day job, and I didn’t write a word for five years. Eventually, I started writing again, and to my surprise, the voices in my head (which had left me completely for those five years) turned out to be Casey Fiore and Rob MacKenzie, from Coming Home, the book I’d finished fifteen years earlier. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I listened to them and kept writing. Halfway through the book, I realized this could be a series and, since the publishing landscape looked very different than it had five years earlier, I decided to pull out those first two books, blow off the virtual dust, and self-publish them on Amazon. Thus, a series was born. In addition to Coming Home and Sleeping With the Enemy, there’s also Days Like This and a short novella, The Next Little Thing. Within the next few months, I’ll finish the current book (tentatively titled Redemption Road). I love self-publishing! It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

What inspires you?

I love to take long rides on the back roads of Maine. It’s so beautiful here, and I do my best thinking when I’m driving. I nearly always come home with new and fresh story ideas. Sometimes, I’ll drive to the coast and walk the beach, especially during the off season, when there aren’t many people there. It’s my happy place, and always renews me when I’m feeling down or discouraged or just plain tired. My other favorite place, which has also given me a ton of story ideas, is the city of Boston. I love to take day trips to Boston and just walk the streets, breathing it all in. Although I’ve lived in Maine all my life and love it here, if I were allowed to live a second, parallel life, it would be lived in Boston.

Describe a typical day.

My typical day revolves around my day job. I’m up early (usually between 4 and 5), and I try to squeeze in writing time before work. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. I spend time on my Facebook fan page, do some tweeting, and deal with any other marketing I may be involved in. After work, I again try to squeeze in writing time, with varying levels of success. I often say that, if not for that pesky day job, I could write four or five books a year. But reality tells me that if I wasn’t working, other things would fill big chunks of that free time, and I’d still get just one book a year finished.

What are 3 fun things we should know about you?

1. In addition to being a writer, I’m also a painter and a photographer. 2. I love bright colors. When we first bought our house, everything was beige and white, and on Sunday mornings, when my husband was at work, I would sit and cry because I hated the blandness so much. It took me several months to convince hubby that it was okay to paint the walls. Now, my walls are full of color, and I find better things to do with my Sunday mornings! 3. I’m addicted to Lay’s potato chips and Diet Coke. I take my morning caffeine cold, icy, and carbonated. And keep it going all day.

What advice would you give to new authors?

Learn your craft! I can’t say this enough. I see a glut of poorly-written (some of it barely literate) self-published books on Amazon, because so many writers aren’t bothering to learn how to write before they try to sell. I certainly don’t advise spending twenty years writing and rewriting the same book, the way I did. But spend time reading books and magazines on writing. Find a critique group. If your English skills aren’t up to par, consider taking an adult ed brush-up course on grammar. Do these things before you try to publish. Oh, and write. Write a lot. Most of what you write at first will end up in the trash. It doesn’t matter, because you’re learning to write, and the more you write, the better you’ll get. We all write trash at first. That’s how we learn. I spent two decades inhaling books on fiction writing, as well as monthly magazines such as Writer’s Digest and The Writer. I read, and learned, and wrote, and learned, and wrote some more, and learned, and threw out millions of words, and learned, and…are you seeing a pattern here? When I was ready to seek publication, I joined an online critique group and continued to learn. It’s the most important thing you can do for yourself, because putting out a bad book is roughly akin to shooting yourself in the foot. Put out a well-written, solid story, and readers will keep coming back for more.

Connect with Laurie Breton

Facebook

Website

Twitter

Email: lauriebreton@gmail.com

Blog: There’s a blog (Musings From Exit 112) that you can reach from my website, but I hardly ever post anything. I had to choose between blogging and sleeping, and I chose sleep. 😉

I hope readers will give my Jackson Falls series a try. I’m in love with the characters, and plan to continue writing about them as long as there are still stories inside my head and readers keep asking for more! If you’re interested in romantic suspense, my six Mira books can still be found online. Most of them are out of print, but can be picked up secondhand very cheaply at Amazon, and probably other retailers. The last two are also available as e-books. The first four are paperback only. The titles, in order, are: Final Exit Mortal Sin Lethal Lies Criminal Intent Point of Departure (ebook available) Die Before I Wake (ebook available) Thanks for the interview. Happy reading, everyone!

Music Monday: Jasper James of “In My Coma”

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Today, we’re jumping up and down and shrieking like teenage girls because we have the immensely popular Jasper James of the band “In My Coma” here to talk to you! If you haven’t heard of them, I promise that you’ll be buzzing about this band soon. Yes, they are THAT good. So here’s the blueprint: Jasper James on vocals and guitar, LauraDoll on bass and vocals, Mike Paterson on drums and percussion. What does this create? A symbiotic trio of musicians producing an amazing blend of alternative rock and Brit-Pop. Sit back, and feast your eyes on the videos, your ears on the music and your minds on Jasper James of “In My Coma”.

What is your name?

Jasper James (band: In My Coma)

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Describe your music style to our readers.

I was born in England and moved to southern Ontario when I was about 3 years old, but I grew up with English folks and even my grade school teacher was British, so I was surrounded by the accent and culture. I grew up listening to Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and loads more British pop bands that my mum had blasting out our car speakers. My dad was more rock and roll though and so his love of the Beatles and the Stones came out loud and clear. And I grew up in North America during the nineties, so grunge hit me like a tonne of bricks and I loved it. So, what do you get when you combine Brit Pop and Alternative Rock? Briternative. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but I think it’s a good description of our sound and I think it’s an odd combination that’s not too common.

How and why did you become a musician? Are you full-time?

For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to music and the different instruments used to create music. It simply catches my attention like nothing else can. The band plays full-time. We rehearse three times a week and practice new material when we’re not on tour.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by creativity. I don’t care what the genre. Personally, I like to paint pictures or define emotions with the songs. I don’t mention the words “losing” or “sleep” in our song “Losing Sleep,” but the lyrics still give you that sense of insomnia. Ideas for songs come in different ways. I like to challenge myself as much as possible. I’ll write a song on my acoustic one night. I’ll write on my electric another night. Other times I’ll write something electronic on the computer or lay something down with the keyboard. It’s important to experiment and test your own abilities. I’ve written entire songs with only FL Studio on my old PC and in fact, we used some of those drum samples in our song “Friendly Fire.” When recording that song for the album, I challenged myself not to use a single electric guitar and low and behold, it’s the opening track on our album. Music inspires me when it’s done for the right reasons.

Describe a typical day.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, exercise. Rehearsals typically last 2-3 hours and writing sessions usually last longer.

What are your fondest musical memories?

I’ll say one thing about each member: I’ve never been a fan of sweet treats or chocolate. I’ve never eaten a Mars bar. I’ve never eaten Skittles. There are so many candies I’ve never eaten because for some reason they don’t appeal to me. But, I am a huge cereal fan and when I say cereal, I mean kids’ cereals like Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops. LauraDoll laughs more than anyone on the planet. And her laugh always changes. She has an array of different laugh sounds that can come out at any moment. Mike and I get a real kick out of it too and her laugh often spawns more laughter from us. Mike makes weird noises when he drums. He has this sort of upwards moving moan that happens sometimes when he’s drumming. I’m exaggerating of course, but for example, when we were tracking drums for the album, the studio engineers heard an odd sound in one of the takes and were completely puzzled by it. They were wondering what microphone was faulty. Laura and I knew that it was Mike’s grunt noise and we just laughed on the studio couch for about 2 minutes or so while the engineers tried to figure out what the hell the sound was.

What advice would you give to other musicians?

Hindsight is 20/20 and you have to move on. You’re going to make mistakes, but the important thing is to try. When I first started playing, I messed up so many aspects of the live show. I didn’t play with a tuner and so I would attempt to tune on stage, etc. It’s a maturing process and it takes time to be good at something as a group. You have to build chemistry when you’re in a band. My first piece of advice is for all guitarists and bassists: If you haven’t already, buy a silent tuner for the stage. You’ll be amazed at the difference that makes. But as far as the mistakes we’ve made, I wouldn’t change anything.

Connect with In My Coma 

We’re all over social media. There’s also a contact section on our website. Here are the sites:

Facebook

Website

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Twitter

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Our debut album, “Magnets & Miracles” is a wall of sound and a collection of a fairly diverse array of songs. We fluctuate from electronic elements to rock elements to pop elements, both between songs and within songs. The lyrical content is pretty dark, but there’s an underlying sense of hope. Our song “Dreamers” embodies the theme of the album pretty well and the main line of the chorus of that song is “I know the world can make the dreamers fade away. I wish that we could bring them back just for a day.” We didn’t hold back on this album either. We knew it didn’t make sense to release 15 tracks all at once, but we wanted to get ourselves out there in a big way. We’re really proud of the album.  And now, we’re working on our follow up and I’m very excited about the songs we have so far.

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Ryobi is my prozac

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As some of you may or may not know, I struggle with depression. As does much of the population. I have always managed it without medication because first, it’s not so bad as to require it in my opinion, and second, side effects are nasty business. Quite by accident I discovered something that helped me get through these times and found a way to stay productive even when I’m down. (Because above all, I MUST be productive.) Thankfully, I stumbled into woodworking. It all started a couple years ago when we bought an old RV, gutted it and I rebuilt the inside having no clue what I was doing. I found out I LOVED it. I built upper hanging cabinets, beds with under storage, a desk, bookshelf, all custom fit to the RV. I even laid real hardwood floors while hubby ripped off the roof and rebuilt that. The adventure we intended to go on with that RV is another post all together. But the best thing I got from it was discovering a new hobby that I love with a passion. And one that saves me from “the blues” turning into weeks of dragging sadness.

Since moving to Utah and buying a fixer upper here, I’ve been able to really go nuts with the woodworking. I’m getting ready to build a wall to create a third bedroom. I’ve built a coffee table,Exif_JPEG_422with matching end tables,

a console table, IMG_20131013_172216a see saw for my nephews, see saw and most recently a kitchen table. IMG_20131016_110135I learned with this table that you can stain wood with coffee. Safe and non toxic for kitties and kids alike. IMG_20131014_130607Soon I’ll be tackling new chairs for the table.

Everything I make is rustic and pioneer looking. Pa Ingalls would be proud. In my mind I’m drawn to the Depression era but in my furniture preferences, I’m drawn to the turn of the century, claim staking, cabin style. It’s all heavy and sturdy and will last a lifetime. My goal? To have everything in my house hand built by me. I want people to walk into my house and step back in time 100 years.

As far as balancing my two passions, (writing and woodworking) I’m rather compulsive but at the end of the week it all works out. I’ve always dreamed of doing both in one day. Write in the morning and build something in the evening. But because of my compulsive nature, it has yet to work that way. I’m still trying though. What I do when I feel the blues coming I will build like a maniac for three or four days. Then my arms are sore, I’m tired of sanding and I’m in better spirits. So I sit down and write like a maniac for awhile. Back and forth it goes. Although I have to say that writing get at least 70% of my attention and woodworking gets the rest. Of course it’s alot faster to put a table together than a book so I’d say it’s balanced pretty well.

I should say here that I am not always depressed when I build. Sometimes I am so drawn to a project or I find there is a need for something, (like a bigger table for Thanksgiving, or super sweet nephews having a birthday) I’ll dive in and bust out a project just for the sheer love of it. But when I catch myself feeling down, when I wake up with a dark cloud over me and find myself giving long sighs staring out the window or just not able to smile easily, I’ll break out the chop saw and wood screws. Works every time.