Today’s Featured Author – Taylor M. Fletcher

Please welcome Taylor M. Fletcher to my blog. His book, Our Marriage Contract, a self-help book, was released last month.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

First and foremost, I’m happily married! And I’m not just saying that to be saying that. I’m a guy who feels incredibly blessed for all the little and wonderful things God has offered me in my lifetime.  By trade I’m a Corporate Attorney who again has been blessed with the ability to help my clients prosper and stay out of trouble. I’m a dog parent to a Boxer Beagle mix, named Gemma and married to my best friend. I enjoy a good movie on the couch with my BFF (my wife) or jumping on the motorcycle and grabbing a bite to eat with my wife. My favorite thing besides flea marketing hopping is to get a pedicure alongside my wife, those chairs are Great! Other than that, if you strip away the titles, the degrees, the material possession, I’m just your average everyday guy except I found happiness through dealing with my expectations upfront.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Flint, Michigan, and adopted at the age of 6 weeks old by an older white couple and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan; now my wife , and our Boxer-Beagle live and play in the wonderful city of Philadelphia.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I think what really inspired me to write the book was first and foremost having a marriage contract in my own relationship work and is still working to this very day. So, thinking” I Finally Cracked the Code”, on what I refer to as the Miss”Education” of Romance and I coming to grips that as crude as it may sound; relationships are just like any other of life’s fragile unions and in order to be successful there needs to be rules both people must follow to make it work. I put my hypothesis or what I called “cracking the code” to the test, not only did I test and try it out on my then fiancée’ and now wife but I tested it on many of my friends who are in relationships or at the early stages of one. To my surprise it worked! Years later, Our Marriage Contract “the book” was born.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I really don’t consider myself a writer, I do think I have one more book in me but I consider myself to be an average guy who has a really great message told and narrated in a short book. An average guy with a message who’s trying to get that really message to the public in hope that it’ll help, save and even rescue people and their relationships. At best, if it message is received to late, it could at the very minimum help people have better romance in future relationships.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

A lot! My mannerisms and southern speak and weird ways of talking or looking at life and how I view women wants and need based on my experiences, yeap, it’s all in there. My first time reading the manuscript once it was proofed and formatted, made me smile because, I finally saw why people always ask me “Where are you from” when they speak with me, the little speaking habits I picked up from the South when I was in school down there, readily spilled over in my writings. In fact in the introduction of the book I stated the word “Hitched” instead of saying getting married. And as far as my experiences, the book is full of them especially since I wrote the book from an what I call the average guy’s standpoint” me , who after years of darting and trying to figure why during most of my relationships I was either a hero at times or a big fat zero; even when I tried to do the right thing.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

The next project is going to be a book I’m affectionately titling the next book “Grand Opening, Grand Closing” The art of keeping the business lights on.  Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 1 “American Dream”

“GRAND OPENING – GRAND CLOSING” So you’re ready to start a new small business. You’ve looked around and looked around, and decided there was nothing close to what you need, so hey. Why not start a business, right? Sounds logical. People start a small business for several different reasons, of course. One of the most popular reasons, I believe, is financial freedom; they want to gain wealth. The second one is to fill a need. The third is that most small businesses happened to fall into the business itself purely by accident. Before we get ahead of ourselves about starting a business, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. If you are planning on starting a business, be prepared to do something you love while not getting paid for it for at least a year or more. Yes, you read correctly: I said expect not to get paid for a least a year! Be ready for that to last even longer, because most small businesses don’t make money or break even in the first 3-5 years of operations. If that’s going to be a problem, starting a business may be a huge issue for you. So let’s make sure that your new business hobby is going to be fruitful for you. Before we even think about organizing the business, make sure you have the following in order.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

No, by trade I’m a Corporate Attorney, so I consider myself an “A Book Writer/Author”, meaning if there is an existing need and it’s a topic or issue I feel can help people with then I’m more likely to through my two cents in to see if I can make a difference, like my current book and my next project.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

Best advice, Book marketing is a marathon and not a sprint, came in an email from one of my many emails from my Publisher’s marketing team. Worst advice, someone told me “you don’t need a Publisher, you can publish your book on your own”. While that was true, the Publisher I used even though I went through the self-publishing platform was invaluable AND did all the things I just didn’t have time nor did I want to do, particularly like listing my book with several of the major retail chains (Barns and Noble and Amazon).

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

Since this is my first book, I can’t say but for me when I was writing the book, I’ll admit there was a little uncertainty on how the message in the book would be received beyond my friends and family. My personal experiences varied when I told people about my own marriage contract it was either the person were shocked to “oh yeah, you’re a lawyer big whop”. I figured the message in the book would be overlooked if people couldn’t or can’t got past the title. Honestly, at times I almost gave up, rationalizing to myself “normal people don’t want to use a contract for a better relationship” and when I say normal people I mean non-wealthy people. But, I thought…..I’m normal and I wanted something, heck anything that made sense and was going to help keep me happily married, so I continued to write on.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

In hope that my messages in the book(s) will be of some help to the readers and that ultimately it will make a difference in their lives.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I outlined the book as I wrote, it was tough organizing my many thoughts into an outline that made since to the message and the book intended purpose but finally it came together and I couldn’t be happier with the finished product, I hope the readers enjoy it.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, that guy rocks!

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

I found myself eating grapes and drinking milk, not sure why but it was the food of choice.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

What book are you reading right now?

We Got Fired! By Harvey Mackay.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Robert T. Kiyosaki, I love his book and his message of encouragement within it. And there’s Jessica Dorfman Jones, Oh, she is so interesting, and has such a unique way of telling her story in her books. I’m in love with her most controversial books.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m addicted to pedicures!

Book Blurb

mc_book_coverNO JUDGES, NO LAWYERS, JUST GREAT COMMUNICATIONS…… Although titled Our Marriage Contract and written by a lawyer; I’m happy to say the book has absolutely nothing to do with the court or U.S. legal system. Instead the book actually explains and shows people how their relationship Expectations…Leads to Disappointment….Disappointments Leads to Resentment and Resentment Leads to Failure.

Author Bio

tmf1Taylor M. Fletcher is the Managing Partner at The Law Offices of Kawalski, Fletcher & Kirkpatrick, P.C. Mr. Fletcher has more than ten years’ experience as a corporate law attorney, an attorney consultant, and an expert legal volunteer for various public and private non-profit organizations throughout the Tri-State area.

You can find out more about Taylor and his book on his website or on Facebook.

You can purchase Our Marriage Contract on Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary

It was a sunny fall afternoon when someone knocked on the kitchen door. I opened it to find an exasperated young man.

“Do Jody and Bridget live here?” he asked.

I assured him that he had found the right place. He sighed with relief. You see – he had been to three other apartments before landing at ours – where, in fact, Jody and Bridget shared a four-bedroom campus apartment with my best friend Kathryn and me.

And that is how I met my husband. I like telling people that he just one day showed up on my doorstep.

Thankfully, he was only friends with my roommates and not romantically interested in them.

RH-LH-WeddingThat incident happened in October of my junior year of college. By December, we were dating and by the following September (on my 21st birthday) we got engaged. If it seems fast, it is by far a longer relationship than my parents had. My mom met my Dad in October. Three months later, they were married.

My husband and I were actually engaged for a year and nine months before we got married in June 1995. Looking at our wedding picture all I can think is “Boy, don’t we look young.”

So this past week we celebrated our 20 year wedding anniversary. Since we got married, my husband has graduated law school, we have moved four times (living in three different cites), bought two homes (and sold one of them), had two kids (after 10 years of marriage), started our own businesses (he has his own law firm, and I have my Etsy card shop) and I have published four fantasy novels.

Wow. A lot has changed in the last twenty years. We certainly have come a long way. There have been good times and some bad ones. There are a few things that I would do differently and others that I wouldn’t change. Isn’t that always the way it is?

5581390378_b43d0ac69e_zWe celebrated our anniversary with a dinner out – eating at the Chart House, the restaurant at the top of the 750-foot-tall Tower of Americas in downtown San Antonio. The restaurant slowly rotates so you get an awesome view of the city.

Dinner out wasn’t our only celebration. In April, we celebrated with a weekend get-away…to Austin. Yes, no exciting destination for us but it was a kids-free weekend with just the two of us which we hadn’t done in five years.

But the celebration I am looking forward to most is our Caribbean cruise in August. My parents are taking us (including the kids) and my brother on an 8-day, 7 night cruise as a joint celebration of our 20 year anniversary and my dad turning 80 in October. It should be fun!

In a world where everyone seems to be getting divorced, staying together for 20 years is quite a feat. And here is to many more years of making memories together!

Today’s Featured Author: Skye Hegyes

Today I welcome author Skye Hegyes to my blog. Her latest book, Puck’s Choice, is the first in a new series. Puck’s Choice came out in December.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Born in Germany while my parents were stationed overseas, I’ve lived in North Carolina since I was two except for a two-year stint in Montana between the ages of five and seven. I am married with two kids, and love my family more than anything in the world. There are also several animals in my life: a dog that stays at my parents’ house because of my lease agreement and they have more acreage for him to run on, two parakeets, and three cats.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

While I would like to one day write full time, at the moment, I can only say I write part time. I have a full-time job and work forty plus (40+) hours a week as a production associate at a factory that builds cab servers, so I can’t devote as much time to writing and still have a semblance of a life with my family. Maybe one day.

I tend to find time to write at both work and home. I work third shift and there is a lot of down-time sometimes. If I’m not online researching, replying to emails, or procrastinating on Facebook, I’m writing. I tend to write at work if there’s nothing to do.

At home, the process can be different, but not by much. Again, I tend to write for twenty-minute sprints, but in between each sprint, I take a ten-minute break in which I eat, drink or use the restroom. I tend to get more writing done, as it’s not interrupted by the things I need to do at work. Then again, there are kids, but they can be distracted with movies and food, which makes it easier.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

This varies from project to project. Sometimes I outline my works, and sometimes I just roll with the idea and see what happens. With larger works, I do at least complete a basic bullet-point outline with a couple of minor details—just little things I want to see happen in the work. Shorter projects tend to be just written out from start to finish. I take an idea, write it into a sentence or two that will become the “blurb” and write.

Please tell us about your current release.

My newest release came out in December. Puck’s Choice is the first book in the Shifters & Mages series, which is about witches and their familiars in the modern world. Puck is a fox shifter (familiar) who has spent over a year as a fox and is now getting used to a human life again and making up the year she missed as a junior in high school. It’s a new adult paranormal romance with some language, some sexual content, and a whole lot of magic and high school mayhem.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

Honestly, my favorite character seems to be everyone’s least favorite (of the good guys): Rand. I really can’t explain why he’s my favorite. I just know that if he was real and I met him, I’d hug him and squeeze him and never let him go.

In the same respect, my least favorite character is one everyone loves to hate by the end, Melinda. It was real easy to write her as a nasty mean, upfront character, but that didn’t make me like her anymore.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Puck’s Choice is the first book in the Shifters & Mages series. I am currently working on editing book two, Jenna’s Story. Each book tends to follow a different character in the same world. Jenna is a teenage girl who can change into the form of a wolf. She doesn’t know who her father is, her mother ignores her existence, and her stepfather abuses her. It’s a tale about her growing into her own and discovering who and what she is.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

Chocolate is always a welcome snack. I’ve actually gotten in the habit of buying large bags of Hershey’s kisses (right now I’m still eating the chocolate truffles from Valentine’s Day). When I’ve reached a certain word count goal, I snack on seven kisses. Seven being my lucky number. On the weekends, when I’m writing at night, I also like to pour myself a glass of wine if I have any to sip at as I write.

What book are you reading right now?

Currently, I am reading Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. It’s pretty good so far, and I hope to finish it soon and then watch the movie again. Another I am reading (I always seem to be reading more than one at a time) is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It’s one I’ve read multiple times in an attempt to understand it, but it wasn’t until I watched the movie that I even really recognized what was going on. Now I love it, and I come back and read it at least once a year.

Do you have an all-time favorite book?

There are a couple of books on this list. One is The Black Stallion by Walter Farley, which fed into my love of horses. Another is Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey. Mmmm… It’s a nice blend of romance, magic, battle, and everything a fantasy novel could ask for. A newer edition to this list has been Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. If you need an urban fantasy with a kick-ass heroine and a blend of fey, vampires, werewolves and other magical creatures, this one’s for you.

Book Blurb

PucksChoicePuck Dupree moved in with her sister after spending over a year trapped in the form of a fox. She had hoped to move on with a normal teenage life; however, trouble seems to have followed her.

 

The Council wants her to partner with a mage or forfeit her life, a friend of hers has a stalker who may or may not be trying to destroy her, and a boy at school keeps watching her. If only she could decide if he wants to kiss her or kill her.

About the Author

SkyeHegyes“Creativity: having a pencil in one hand and the paper below it. All that’s left is the writing.” ~Skye Hegyes

Dragons, wolves, and sharp objects are commonplace in Skye Hegyes’s home in North Carolina. She spends most of her time between writing and working. When not doing either of these things, you may find her making crafts or adventuring with her family, which consists of her husband, two daughters, two birds, and three cats… and a partridge in a pear tree…

You can find out more about Skye on her website or Facebook.

You can purchase Puck’s Choice on Amazon in either e-book format or as a paperback.

Struggling with beginning my next book

This is not something I like to admit, but I am struggling with motivation to work on my next novel. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing and story-telling. However, I am not at that stage yet. I am still at the planning stage, and I just can’t seem to get excited about this new story.

Well, I am excited about the characters, but before I can begin writing there is still so much planning to do. I have to get the rest of the world developed, and I know, even as much as I don’t feel like doing it, that my story will be better if I do it now before I begin writing.

time flyingBut the end of school year/beginning of summer is such a busy time. Other things have demanded my attention. There were the end of school picnics, field day and our end-of-the-year PTA breakfast. Then there are first days of summer activities (which included a pool party I was in charge of throwing) as the kids enjoy their freedom. Even as I knew these things would pull me away from my writing, I vowed to try writing some each day. But that didn’t last, and I kept putting off working on my book. Other things just demanded my time more.

Some might say then that my new novel idea isn’t good enough. If it was a solid idea, I should be driven to write it. I don’t believe that is true. I like the characters I have developed. I think once I iron out the plot to make sure it is strong and compelling that this will turn out to be a great story.

DestinyFINALAnd this lack of motivation has hit me before. It happened on my last two books. Writing Destiny, the conclusion of my trilogy, should have been easy as the world and characters were already developed and the storyline begun. But I wanted a satisfying ending, and I was introducing a new secondary antagonist so it took some work before I finally felt everything click into place.

HeirAlexandria_ebookcoverAnd with The Heir to Alexandria, I had the plot worked out pretty well in advance, but it was the characters that took a little more time to develop. They changed a lot from my first ideas. I made them older and for my male main character, I completely changed his job and his background.

I think part of the problem is that the planning process can be slow, and it is easy to get discouraged or overwhelmed with the amount of work required. I mean it isn’t like all you need is a good idea and a character or two. It takes more planning than that – especially when developing a whole world for your setting.

So anyone who is thinking about sitting down and penning a novel, there are a few things you need to have to be successful. (Okay, there really is a lot to writing a successful novel, but I am thinking more in terms of personality traits.)

Self-Discipline You have to be able to stick with what has to be done even if it is not fun or exciting. You have to reassure yourself that the planning stage (or editing stage or whatever stage you are stuck at) is necessary.

Long Attention Span – You don’t pen a novel in a few short weeks. It takes months of focus and commitment to write, rewrite, edit and reedit to polish your book until it is ready for publication.

Yes, the more excited you are about your book, the more determination you will have to see that it comes to fruition. However, a lack of excitement over a phase doesn’t mean the end of the world. Or so I am telling myself.

And so I find myself in that familiar place of where I need to plan out my novel. Unfortunately, I am allowing my lack of enthusiasm to put me off of what I love doing. I need to get over this hump and get moving on this story. Part of me knows that soon this will be a distant memory. I will be engrossed in a new adventure. Here is hoping that summer plans don’t hinder me too much with getting past this unproductive phase.

Quote of the Week – June 10

RH-LH-WeddingToday marks twenty years of marriage to my husband. It simply amazes me that we have been together so long. Over the years, we have had ups and downs as any married couple does, but I wouldn’t change anything. Here is to many more years together.

It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life. ~ Rita Rudner

New Release – New Girl on Salt Flat Road

Today, I wanted to help authors Marcy Winograd and Jackie Hirtz promote their latest release aimed at girls between 9 and 13 years old. New Girl on Salt Flat Road is the sequel to their book Lola Zola and the Lemonade Crush.

Book Synopsis

New Girl CoverLola Zola is back. . . and this time her world is being rocked by the new girl on Salt Flat Road! Eleven-year-old Lola Zola wants a bra, but her mother won’t buy her one, reminding her that she’s “not quite ready.” Ouch. But Lola isn’t giving up – she’s even praying for her pancakes to become cupcakes. Her prayers go unanswered and Lola and her BFF, Melanie, are coming to the realization that they’ll be the only girls at school without bras. Just when they’ve become used to being called “Flatty Patties,” a new girl with a great figure moves in next door in the sleepy desert town of Mirage. “Queen Pauline” as Lola and Melanie call her, hails from Malibu and lives tween life in the fast lane. She shoplifts, steals friends, wears eye shadow, and likes boys, boys, boys – including Buck, Lola’s secret crush from the lemonade war days. Before Lola knows it, Lola is also racing to womanhood, crashing into the law and making a spectacle of her fugitive self.

About the Authors

marcyMarcy Winograd is a former congressional peace candidate and current community organizer, Marcy teaches English to special education students at a public high school in Los Angeles. In Marcy’s class, students tell their life stories in poetry and debate animal testing and other charged issues in persuasive essays. Before introducing the writing of Pablo Neruda and Langston Hughes to her students, Marcy broadcast news on both commercial and public radio stations, such as Pacifica’s KPFK and an NPR affiliate, where she earned three Golden Mike awards, the broadcast industry’s top honors for writing and reporting. Marcy lives with her union-side labor lawyer husband Ira “Buddy” Gottlieb, texts with her stylish daughter Gina, and cuddles with her three rescue cats who compete for attention before bedtime. Sometimes, however, the whiskered ones must wait until morning because Marcy is also an insomniac who likes to write in the middle of the night. “It’s quiet then, so my characters and I can think.”

jackie-hirtzJackie Hirtz, M.S.Ed., is a former elementary school teacher, is a writer and writing coach. She discovered the power of the written word when she first began writing poetry at age nine, thanks to her wonderful grandmother Martha, who gave her all the encouragement in the world. Jackie’s credits include Disney, The Los Angeles Times, and the Brentwood Media Group. She has also written for companies and non-profit organizations. Together, she and Marcy wrote for children’s television, including Nickelodeon’s animated series “Doug.” Jackie believes that good books help make the world a better place because they open minds and hearts. When she’s not writing, reading or teaching, Jackie is training her puppy to become a registered therapy dog as well as a Reading Education Assistance Dog (R.E.A.D.™)

You can find out more about Jackie and Marcy and their Lola Zola books on their website.

You can purchase New Girl on Salt Flat Road on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.