Author Interview – Lilly Brown

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be introducing you to some amazing young adults who will be releasing a short story anthology in the next month or two.

Today, I am very excited to introduce you to Lilly Brown, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the last 7 months. She has been working hard to finish her short story, The Spark, which will be included in an anthology being publish within the next couple of months. I promise to keep you posted on the publication details as we have them.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Lilly Brown, author of The Spark.

Lilly BookWhat name do you write under and is it a pen name?
I write under the name Lilly Brown and no it is not a pen name.

What or who inspired you to start writing?
I don’t really have a specific inspiration as much as I’ve just always wanted to write a book. However, another author and my former writing coach, Amanda Porter, was the one who gave me the opportunity to write.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing tiny little stories probably since I could write, but I’ve been seriously writing for about three and a half years.

What is the name of your most recent story and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say?
My latest story is call The Spark and I would describe it as a group of moody teens who don’t want to do what they’ve been told to do.

Is the above story part of a series or anthology?
It is in an anthology called a Door to Our Minds, which includes my story and four other stories. However, The Spark is also the first book in a series that I’m planning to continue with now that the anthology is getting ready to be published.
ADoor-Final - FRONT COVER

What or who inspired you to start writing?
I don’t really have a specific inspiration as much as I’ve just always wanted to write a book. However, another author and my former writing coach, Amanda Porter, was the one who gave me the opportunity to write.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing tiny little stories probably since I could write, but I’ve been seriously writing for about three and a half years.
The Spark - Lilly Brown
How did you come up with the cover design idea/concept?
The basic idea came from one of my favorite scenes in the book but my cover artist, Amanda Orneck took it and made it so much better.

Did you listen to any particular songs while writing your story?
I listened to a lot of Broadway soundtracks. I listened to many video game scores and plenty of Star Wars as well.

How did you come up with the title for your story?
My main character is firey and I like to think of this book as the beginning of the story so I thought “The Spark” was fitting.

As a reader, do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audio books?
Hardcovers all the way. I kind of hoard them but they’re just so beautiful that I can’t help it.

Have you ever read and book more than once? And if so what is it?
Yes I have read a book more than once–seven times, I’m pretty sure and it the Warriors Super Edition, Crookedstar’s Promise.

Have you ever read a book based on its cover?
No. I don’t trust covers alone. There have been so many times where I see a cool cover and then I read the blurb and it sounds super boring so I always double-check books.

What is your favorite film based on a book?
The Phantom of the Opera is definitely my favorite film based on a book, as well as musical.

What is your favorite book genre at the moment?
Fantasy. It’s my favorite right now and I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t.

What books have made it onto your wish list recently? And why?
Bright Burns the Night by Sara B Larson is at the top right now. I found the first book in her series at a used bookstore and I loved everything about it, especially how she explained the lore of the fantasy world.

What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
I’m reading Part of Your World by Liz Braswell and it’s a hardcover.

If you could invite and four (4) authors (alive or dead) to your dinner party, who would you invite and why?
This may sound totally basic but the first would be J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter is one of my favorite book series and I have always admired Rowling for the way she wove every part of each book together. The second would be Erin Hunter. Even though Erin Hunter is a pen name for the group of authors behind the Warriors, Survivors, and Seekers series, I’m still going to use them as my second author. I’d love to find out how they are able to write and publish so many books and keep every character and timeline in order. The third person I would invite is, Liz Braswell. She’s is one of the two authors of Disney’s Twisted Tales series and I admire her ability to take classic stories and rewrite them. The fourth author I would invite is Leigh Bardugo, the author of the Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows Duology. I love the way she connected these two series and I really admired her world-building skills.

What’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
To not edit as I go. I would end up editing things out that I really liked but I would get rid of it because I thought I didn’t need it. I finally learned to let my editor edit.

What authors inspire you?
The list is very long but I’ll cut it down to just a few. Obviously, the four I would invite to a dinner party inspire me. Also on this list is: Kendare Blake, Ashley Chappell, Stephanie Garber, Marissa Meyer, Amanda Porter, Nina Soden and Tui T. Sutherland.

If you are interested in reading The Spark and purchasing your own copy of a Door to Our Minds, fill out the information form below and I’ll be sure to email you more information as soon as the anthology is released. 

My 2 Cents… Adrift

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adrift

Movie: Adrift
Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Writer(s): Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell, and David Branson Smith
Stars: Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin

Blurb:
A true story of survival, as a young couple’s chance encounter leads them first to love, and then on the adventure of a lifetime as they face one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history.

Storyline:
Starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin, Adrift is based on the inspiring true story of two free spirits whose chance encounter leads them first to love, and then to the adventure of a lifetime. As the two avid sailors set out on a journey across the ocean, Tami Oldham (Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Claflin) couldn’t anticipate they would be sailing directly into one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history. In the aftermath of the storm, Tami awakens to find Richard badly injured and their boat in ruins. With no hope for rescue, Tami must find the strength and determination to save herself and the only man she has ever loved. Adrift is the unforgettable story about the resilience of the human spirit and the transcendent power of love.

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Acting: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

My 2 Cents:
WOW… the cinematography of this film is stunning! The vast expanse of the open ocean had my agoraphobia working overdrive. I can’t even imagine being stuck (on a sinking sailboat) out in the middle of the ocean – no land for hundreds of miles much less in sight.

This film is a window into the human soul, our survival instincts, and the truly frightening power of the earth we live in.

The way this film moves through time, taking us from flashback to present day and back again, is beautiful. The on-screen relationship between Tami (played by Shailene Woodley) and Richard (played by Sam Claflin) has all the intensity of new love and the comfort of a lifetime spent together.

Without giving too much away, I have to say I loved seeing that this story doesn’t leave out female protagonist sitting passively waiting to be rescued. From the starting scene when Tami wakes up in a sinking boat, she acts. She is fighting for her life and the life of the man she loves and never plays the damsel in distress. It is entertaining, suspenseful, romantic, scary, and most of all – and maybe the hardest thing to pull-off – it is REALISTIC!

Congratulations to director Baltasar Kormakur and of course both Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin who brought their characters to life!

Have you seen Adrift yet? If so, what did you think? Comment below and let me know.

You can watch the official trailers here:

https://youtu.be/HdMP4sWc71M

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A #@$! by Mark Manson

SubtleTITLE: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A #@%!
AUTHOR: Mark Manson

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: N/A
Appearance: ★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.
For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.
Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.
There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 

THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: Mark Manson could be a comedian, easily. His writing style is fun, light, energetic, and full of laughs. However, it is also full of insight and wisdom.

STORY: Obviously, The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A #@%! Isn’t a novel – I’d classify it as self-help.

Mark covers so many important life lessons in this book, but some of the main topics that stood out to me were:

  • The Value of Suffering “If suffering is inevitable, if our problems in life are unavoidable, then the question we should be asking is not “How do I stop suffering?” but “Why am I suffering—for what purpose?””
  • The Choice “Choosing to not respond to the events in our lives is still a response to the events in our lives.”
  • Rejection Makes Your Life Better “…we need to reject something. Otherwise, we stand for nothing.”

This is a really quick read, with lots of relatable stories/examples throughout. So, if you are the type of person who is constantly GIVING A #@%! About everything… then this just might be the book for you. You’ll read it and laugh. You’ll read it an relate. You’ll read it and realize what you are doing wrong, could be doing better, and should be doing now to stop GIVING A #@%! about everything.

APPEARANCE: The cover shown above is very similar to the one I have, but also slightly different. Where this one says ‘THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*UCK’ mine says, ‘THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A #@%!’. I like the one I have better, no real reason other than #@%! Seems to be a bit subtler than F*UCK.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE: “The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

My 2 Cents… A Quiet Place

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A Quiet Place

Movie: A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski
Writer(s): Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and John Krasinski
Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe

Blurb:
In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.

Storyline:
Two parents do what it takes to keep their children safe in a world full of creatures hunting every sound they can hear. Not a sound can be heard from the family hiding in silence, but all it takes is one noise and everything can go wrong.

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Acting: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

My 2 Cents:
Oh my goodness… This movie was incredible. Husband and wife team John Krasinski and Emily Blunt both star in this amazing, sit on the edge of your seat, thriller.

The concept of this movie is simple… be quiet or you’ll die. I’ll be honest with you, when I clicked play on this one I was expecting a horror film, nothing more. I thought there would be some pop-out-at-you thrills and an interesting concept. I had no idea the acting would be so unbelievable.

There is very little dialogue, which meant that the story had to be strong and the acting even stronger. The film, directed by John Krasinski, relied heavily on the use of visual cues and ACTING. In reality, I walked away knowing it wasn’t just a horror/thriller film, it is a piece of art.

Watching Emily Blunt, in the “delivery scene” – I won’t say more – was intense. I was holding my breath the whole time.

Blunt and Krasinski have amazing onscreen chemistry, not surprising, and the family dynamics between them and the two young actors that play their children is breathtakingly believable. As the movie begins, we are thrown right into the story, with little to no backstory, you are immediately immersed in the love, pain, and fear these people live with day in and day out. I was on the edge of my seat – in a good way – from the time the movie started until the credits rolled.

Have you seen A Quiet Place? If so, what did you think? Comment below and let me know.

You can watch the official trailer here:

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

killerTITLE: I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
AUTHOR: Dan Wells

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.
He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.
He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.
Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat—and to appreciate what that difference means.
Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.
Dan Wells’s debut novel, I Am Not a Serial Killer, is the first volume of a trilogy that will keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 

THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: I love Dan Wells’s writing style. He dives deep into the mind of a psychopath with this one and leaves you disgusted, intrigued, afraid, and sad. His use of description left me with a new determination that after death, I want to be cremated. There will be no embalming, no open casket, no mortician poking and prodding along my body to “make it pretty”.

STORY: We start of by being introduced to a young John Wayne Cleaver, the stories protagonist. He is the perfect combination of Michael C Hall’s characters in both Dexter (where he plays a psychopath) and Six Feet Under (where his family owns a funeral home). John Wayne Cleaver is the teenage version of Dexter. Although instead of an obsession with forensic science and blood, his obsession is serial killers. John has all the impulses of a psychopath… he feels the draw of the kill, but he doesn’t want to act on those impulses. Like Dexter, he has established strict rules to live by, rules he must follow to keep him “normal”.

The twist takes place when a “real” serial killer shows up in John’s town. Through John’s research we quickly learn that this serial killer isn’t like any of the others he has studied. Not even close. The supernatural aspect of this killer takes the story to a whole new level. I loved watching as John was discovering who he is, who the killer is, what the killer is, and how his inner struggle of wanting to know more about death and killing and also wanting to be normal effected his choices.

APPEARANCE: The simple cover, much like a young kid’s school notebook, was excellent. The cover artist did a wonderful job making it appealing to the eye and not overly crowded.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE: “The thing about boxes, is that you can open them up. Even though they’re completely boring on the outside, there might be something interesting inside. So while you’re saying all of these stupid, boring things, I’m imagining what it would be like to cut you open and see what you’ve got in there.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/QUn7OqNRz8U

Watch the movie trailer here:
https://youtu.be/WQBnWWWU-gU

Listening to my body!

Listening to your body can be hard, believe me I know. I think all too often my fear of doctors and needles wins out when really, I should be listening to the aches and pains my body is throwing at me.

I’m not a teenager any more. Hell, I’m not even a twenty-something. What have I learned about my body as I’ve gotten older? Not a whole heck of a lot… or at least I’ve pushed it far back into the crevasses of my brain where my mind can pretend it isn’t there.

Logically, I know I should see a doctor when I pull a muscle, twist an ankle, or just have unexplained pain. The problem lies in the fact that I have a true phobia of both needles (aichmophobia) and doctors (iatrophobia)… mainly needles, or doctors holding needles.

Right now, I’ve been suffering with pretty sever lower back pain for about two months. It all started when, in my infinite wisdom, I decided that I could flip a tracker tire.

Something like this:

OK, I didn’t look quiet as good as the ladies in this video, but I did start with a small car tire, then I moved to a small tractor tire, and then… STUPIDLY… I did the large tractor tire!

Since that day, when I knew I tweaked my back, I haven’t taken care of myself the way I should have… I continued to go about my life as normal and the result has been increased pain.

Why am I telling you all about this? Because sometimes life smacks us in the face and calls us an idiot and we are forced to listen. With that said, I give in. My back has won. Fear aside, I’m seeing a doctor… calling a doctor. I’ll call and set up an appointment today.

Hmmm… I wonder if this pain or the experience will find its way into one of my stores somehow.

If you’re a writer, does your day-to-day life ever find its way into your writing? If you’re a reader, do you ever wonder if the author of your favorite books have ever had experiences similar to the stories they write?

Author Interview – Jared Barlament

Every now and then, I have the pleasure of welcoming another indie-author to my blog as a guest. Today, I am excited to introduce all of my readers to Jared Barlament, author of The Agony of an Age.

Author-J.-W.-Barlament-174x300

  • What is your name and where do you call home? My name is Jared Barlament, and I reside in the midwestern United States.
  • Do you have a pen name? I like to fashion my name as J. W. Barlament, because J. W. just sounds so much more formal and classical than Jared does. I don’t bother with any pseudonyms, though, because I don’t see the need for me to hide my identity like a secretive superhero.
  • What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say? The title of my most recent book is The Agony of an Age. It’s an immense fantasy saga that tells three interwoven tales of power, warfare and incessant torment.
  • Is the above book part of a series? Indeed it is. The first book in the series, The Plight of a People, was published on October 16th of 2017. The aforementioned successor is coming this October 16th of this year, and I hope to have the final novel out on October 16th of next year.
  • What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing? I’m still making my way through high school, so I haven’t had as much time to develop my craft as others. I’ve been writing creatively for as long as I’ve been able to, though. Ever since early childhood, I have always been able to feel a thunderous need within me to write down the ideas inside my mind.

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How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book(s)? Originally, my covers were going to be far more elaborate, but I was wary of hiring anyone. My sister, who is excellent at that sort of thing, volunteered to do the first book’s cover. She wasn’t entirely reliable, though, so my girlfriend ended up teaching herself Photoshop just to make my covers for me. If that isn’t dedication, I’m not sure what is.

 

 

  • Did you listen to any particular songs while writing your book(s)? Typically, I listen to classic rock or jazz, but writing has made me appreciate classical music so much more than I used to. Nowadays, I listen to a wide variety of classical while I write, but Tchaikovsky and Holst have always been my favorites.
  • How did you come up with the title for your book(s)? My first book’s title was its working title for a long time, and I figured it was unique enough to keep. Turns out, people weren’t fans of it, so I attempted to make the second book’s title much snappier within the same format.
  • Do you have a book trailer? If so, where can we watch it? As much as I would love to display great armies of men, beasts and deities battling to the death, I’m not quite that good with a computer.
  • Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hard-covers or audio-books? For reading, I definitely prefer hardcovers. They have a more classic vibe to them, and they’re certainly much less flimsy than a paperback. I tend to zone out on audiobooks, and my eyes just can’t take the monotonous screen gazing necessary for an e-book.
  • Are you a self-published/Indie author? That I am. I attempted to get into the traditional industry for my first book, but I quickly found it to be a soul-sucking process. Thus, I chose to go my own way.
  • If you’re a self-published/Indie author what made you go that route instead of the traditional publishing route? In addition to the reason listed above, I also enjoy the freedom of it all. I get to choose how much I make off of each book. I decide how to edit. I decide what the cover will look like. It’s certainly a big bonus to have that kind of creative control.
  • Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it? I read The Art of War a few times before realizing that I would be reading it and forgetting its material until death if I didn’t take notes. Since then, I have taken notes on the content and notable quotes of every book I read. Hopefully, this will prevent me from having to read anything else a second time.
  • What is your opinion of novellas? They aren’t my cup of tea, but to each their own.
  • Have you ever read a book just based on its cover? I can’t say that I have. I have picked up books based on their covers, but I always read the back cover and take a peek inside before I decide to buy.
  • What is your favorite film based on a book? Without a doubt, Jaws. Very few films are even as good as the books they’re based off of. However, the film version of Jaws is vastly superior to its literary counterpart. There’s a reason barely anyone knows it was originally a book anymore.
  • What is your favorite book genre at the moment? Classic literature, hands down. There’s just something so aesthetic and downright magnetic about reading a story written in a faint period of the distant past.
  • What books have made it onto your wish list recently? And why? I don’t have a wish list at the moment, because I have a massive pile of books on my nightstand waiting to be read. Thus, I have sworn to hold off on getting any others until those are done.
  • What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format? I just began The Divine Comedy in a beautifully decorated hardcover format.
  • If you could invite any four (4) celebrities (alive or dead) to your dinner party, who would you invite and why? I don’t care much for today’s celebrities, but there are plenty of historical figures I would love to have for dinner. A grouping of Baruch Spinoza, David Hume, Carl Jung and Friedrich Nietzche would certainly make for an interesting discussion.
  • What’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing? Self-discipline is key. Anyone can begin to write a book, but very few people can ever finish one. Being overly harsh on yourself will do no good, though. The goal is to keep your mind under your control and prevent it from being seized by distractions.
  • Do you have any hobbies that aren’t related to reading & writing? You know, I never realized how much my life revolves around those two activities until I came across this question. I do enjoy taking spontaneous walks in nature, as well as biking, drumming, and map-making.
  • Where can your readers follow you? I do believe that’s what the links below are for. I would especially recommend checking out my website. It is there that I post a whole host of intriguing articles on political, philosophical, spiritual and societal topics.
    Blog: https://jwbarlament.wixsite.com/anindividualmind
    Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17243214.J_W_Barlament
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/anindivmind
    Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-W.-Barlament/e/B076J36J31/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Do you have questions for Jared? Comment below so he can answer all your questions. If you’re an author and would like to be interviewed, check out the author interview submission here