Talking Television, Movies & Characters with Writer Meg Bonney

 

 

 

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WELCOME TO THE TRAIN MEG!

 

 

 

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Meg Bonney is a mom, writer, blogger, freelance writer and TV extraordinaire. Her YA fantasy novel Everly is due this November through Pandamoon publishing.

 

 

 

 

TAKE ONE…

 

 

 

 

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*Were you born and raised in Wisconsin?

Meg Bonney: Yes, I was! I work in Illinois and often get asked why I don’t just move there, but I am in love with Wisconsin. My town is right on Lake Michigan and the lakefront is gorgeous. I can’t imagine moving away from it.

It sounds like a nice place. I should have asked you for pictures!

 

 

 

*Which diva cat rules the household?

That would be my older cat, Sammy. He is the less dominate cat between my two kitties, but Sammy is the most demanding of his humans, for sure. He will meow at you and jump on the counters if he can see the bottom of his food dish. He is a snuggler but gets so mad when you move. He’s a total diva.

Wow. Sounds like a domineering feline-diva cat snuggler. Yikes!

 

 

 

 

cat in the clothes of the king on a red background

 

 

 

 

 

*What did you study in college?

I went to school for Paralegal studies. I work for a large company in the Mergers and Acquisitions legal department. It’s really fast paced and keeps me on my toes.

Oh cool! I enjoy legal stuff. We’re going to get along just fine. Sherrie, another blog-buddy of mine is also a paralegal. 

 

 

*Why did you pick to write YA Fantasy?

That’s always been what I gravitated towards as a reader and as a writer. I think that there is something more magical about those teen years before you are slammed with actual real life problems. It’s just a much more emotional time and I love writing characters at that age. And Fantasy is just plain fun. I take the firm stance that real life is boring. Fairies, goblins and magic just make anything more exciting.

I’ll completely affirm, that life is rather boring at times. Mundane even. That’s why being a writer is so much FUN! You can live an adventurous life over and over again. 

 

 

 

*Tell us about your upcoming Everly Trilogy

Everly is the story of Madison Rosewood and her quest to save her aunt. She and her best friend, Jason must travel to a hidden world called Everly where Aunt Ruth is taken in order to save her from a terrible fate. Once they get there, Madison comes to realize that Everly holds all of the answers she has been searching for about her family and her past. Book 1, which will be out later this year, introduces you to the world of Everly and the emotional struggles that Madison must face when she gets there. Book 2 and Book 3 will continue to chronicle her journey as she tries to figure out where she fits in and how to manage the devastating events of Book 1.

I like your premise! Sounds very interesting and adventurous. Love the name Everly. It gives it a nice fantastical feel.

 

 

 

 

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*Can you give us a snippet about the protagonist?

Madison lives on a tiny Florida island with her icy, fitness trainer Aunt Ruth and her cousin. Madison is the star athlete on her school’s track team. Even though she is a gifted runner, she has no passion for it and yearns for something more. Her life goal has always been to find her birth parents and escape the constant work outs and self defense classes that her Aunt makes her participate in. She is withdrawn and snarky to everyone but her best friend and constant companion, Jason. She is outspoken and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her. She is far from perfect but always tries hard to do right by the ones she loves.

YES. I feel like I’m already drawn into the story. Love the dynamics of the relationships here. I was just reflecting on this today actually. Our characters and the ones we love in our favorite books round out in dynamic relationships. Just think of Sherlock and Watson. Stories or movies that have a great sidekick are more enjoyable than the typical lone wolf hero. 

 

 

 

*Which medium do you enjoy more, reading or TV?

That’s so hard! I guess I would have to say reading because your imagination has no budget. But TV is great because of the community aspect, especially when you are watching a show live and you can discuss and theorize together. That’s very fun!

I can’t wait to ask you more questions since you’re a TV buff. I’ve been enjoying comparing and contrasting the two mediums a lot recently.  One of my favorite authors, K.M. Weiland, will be posting an analysis about the movie Avenger Civil War this week. If you’re so inclined, check out her site:  Helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com

 

 

 

 

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*Who are your favorite TV characters and what do you enjoy about them?

I love Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She is flawed yet strong and faces her destiny with determination even though her lot in life isn’t always fair. She is one of the greatest television characters ever. I also really like Bellamy Blake from The 100. He tries so hard to do the right thing but is tragically misguided and makes some pretty terrible decisions. I love characters that want to be the good guys but have a hard time aligning their goals with their morals.

Please don’t stone me, but I haven’t seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer yet. I’ve always been the slow one in the family. Go figure. BUT I LOVE BELLAMY and the entire 100 series. I was so hooked on the first two seasons!!!  Then I dropped off the map for some reason. 

 

 

 

 

“I love characters that want to be the good guys but have a hard time aligning their goals with their morals.”

 

 

 

 

*Who are your favorite fictional characters and what do you enjoy about them?

Hermione Granger. She goes from stuck up young girl to brilliant young woman over the course of the story and its captivating. Her journey is still one of my favorites. I also really like Batman. He is just so complex and the older I got, the more I grew to appreciate how messed up he really is. He is one of the most emotionally screwed up heroes out there and that makes him super interesting to me.

Hermione certainly sounds popular. Not acquainted with her either, but I have a feeling I will be pretty soon. Batman is once of the best characters ever crafted. Definitively a timeless classic that keeps coming back again and again. Even the whole story of Batman is classical. Gotham city with its backstory, villains, police department etc. Gotham the television series is also EPIC. Loved it until I fell off the map again. 

I got a kick out of your appreciation for Batman’s twisted emotional state. Because we can totally relate to these “screwed up” characters. That’s why I never could relate to Superman. He too *super* if you know what I mean. Even Clark Kent is essentially flawless. In Avengers Civil War they tried to make Captain America go through some sort of change, or arc, perhaps. But it utterly failed in my opinion. Simply due to the fact that he’s too flawless. Mind you I’m no expert, but he’s seems too confident and sure of himself to have flaws. Captain America is the representation of our idolization of old school heroism and is the epitome of American idealism. He stands for freedom, rights, liberty etc. But too perfect if you ask me.  

 

 

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*Which inspires you more TV or reading?

Reading is what made me want to write. I spent most of my childhood reading and it solidified my love of books and storytelling. TV inspires me in my writing when it comes to character development. There are certain things that a show can do subtly with characters that you maybe can’t do in a book. There is a lot more chance for subtle moments in TV that you may not get in a book simply due to the point of view of the story.

Yes, I find the contrast between these two mediums very fascinating. I also get inspired by TV. That’s actually how I got started writing!! I kept watching all these awesome shows with great characters until the light bulb finally went off in my head. Every time I’d watch something interesting I’d say to myself, write it yourself…write it yourself. So I did! Or, am still writing. But there are things we can do in books that you won’t get in a movie. Like fully develop a character the way you want without the time restraint of a movie. 

 

 

 

 

~Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere~ Mary Schmich

 

 

 

 

 

*Tell us about PureFandom.com.

PureFandom.com is all about the fans and their nerdy loves. I write recaps and reviews for them covering Supernatural, Agents of SHIELD and The 100. I also write all sorts of news items. They are a site dedicated to fandom and working with them is a blast!

Sounds like it. That would be so fun! I love Agents of SHIELD and the The 100. They’re wonderfully written and keep you on your toes the whole time. 

 

 

*Tell us about the hiddenremote.com and your contributions.

For Hidden Remote, I will be covering Supergirl! Supergirl is making the big move to the CW and I think it’s going to be an amazing change for them. I can’t wait to cover it! #girlpower

You go girl!! (Pun fully intended).  :)

 

 

 

 

 

Superhero Child With Cityscape To Sunset

 

 

 

 

*When will your book be available?

My book will be available later this year! I am in the crazy editing stage and its been a blast so far. I love sharing stories with people and I can’t wait to share the world of Everly with you!

We can’t wait to read your story! I bet you’re an excellent storyteller. Looking forward to it. 

 

“Great stories happen to those who can tell them” -Ira Glass

THANKS MEG PLEASE COME AGAIN!

Connect with Meg!

Meg Bonney

@MegBonneyWriter

Blog

Pinterest

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Storytelling with the Master Steven James

 

THURSDAY SPECIAL EDITION

 

 

EVERYONE PLEASE WELCOME CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED NOVELIST STEVEN JAMES MY FAVORITE CRIME FICTION AUTHOR

 

 

 

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Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

 

 

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NEW BOOK BY STEVEN JAMES

 

TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR NOVEL: Essential Techniques for Identifying and Solving Manuscript Problems

 

 

 

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  • Paperback: 360 pages

  • Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books (September 20, 2016)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 1599639807

  • ISBN-13: 978-1599639802

  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches

 

 

 

FROM AMAZON

 

Take your story to the next level of excellence!

You’ve completed the first draft of your novel–now what? Chances are, it’s not perfect…at least not yet. In order to increase your chances of getting a literary agent, selling your manuscript to a  publisher, or garnering an audience for your self-published work, you need targeted, practical instruction on tackling the problem areas and weak spots in your story. You need Troubleshooting Your Novel.

In this hand-on, easy-to-use guide, award-winning author Steven James provides helpful techniques and checklists, timesaving tricks of the trade, and hundreds of questions for manuscript analysis and revision. You’ll learn how to:

 

  • ADJUST elements of story progression, from causality, tension, and setbacks to plot twists, climaxes, and endings.

  • DEVELOP authentic, riveting characters by exploring their attitudes, desires, beliefs, and more.

  • LEARN narrative techniques for elements such as dialogue, flashbacks, suspense, voice, subtext, and flow.

  • ENSURE reader engagement by aligning with their expectations, fulfilling promises, and instilling trust.

  • CHECK issues with context and continuity.

You owe your book more than just a polish and a proofread. Strengthen your story, prepare it for the marketplace, and make it the best it can be with Troubleshooting Your Novel.

 

 

 

 

NO ONE TELLS A STORY LIKE STEVEN JAMES- Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1. What exactly is organic storytelling and can it be learned?
Many people I speak with are simply not interested in or very good at outlining a book. For all of us, there is another approach.
Organic writing is the process of allowing the story to emerge as you work on it rather than plotting it out or outlining it beforehand. It’s a more natural and intuitive way of approaching any art form than imposing predetermined constraints on it. As far as learning it, unfortunately there are few books that really teach it. Most offer a repackaging of the traditional approach of structure and plot. I offer one approach in my book  Story Trumps Structure: Who to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules. 

This is awesome! Two words stick out to me in this statement. Emerge and organic. Trusting the story to emerge as we’re writing it is very intuitive.  

 

100 Percent Organic Food on Price Label Tag
2. In another interview someone asked how you keep track of plot because you’re an organic writer. You stated the following: “I’m a big believer in context determining content”   Can you expand on this? 

Within every scene you will find a variety of narrative forces pressing in on the narrative. For example, believability (the scene needs to remain believable within that story world), causality (every event has an impetus and an implication), escalation (tension continues to tighten), and pace, flow, voice, and so on. The context that precedes a scene will affect the emergence and affect of these forces. Really, any scene edited out of context will suffer in one of these areas. Writing great fiction does not consist of filling in the blanks, but in allowing the context and the unfolding promises and their payoff to inform the direction that the story takes.

I love it. Can’t wait to get more into this. 

“Writing great fiction does not consist of filling in the blanks, but in allowing the context and the unfolding promises and their payoff to inform the direction that the story takes.”-Steven James

3. What are the major facets of storytelling?

Beyond the ones I mentioned early would be implied and explicit promises. So, is you start a story by showing how perfect Anna’s home life is, with her doting husband and obedient children and daily yoga lessons, it’s an implied promise to readers that things are about to go very wrong very soon. You’re not telling readers this, but they understand the movement of a story and anticipate it. I strive to always give readers what they want or something better. And much of that comes from making big promises. And then keeping them.

This sounds simple yet profound. I totally agree with readers understanding the movement of the story. When all is well in the beginning there’s a certain amount of anticipation and suspense built up. Excellent.

 

 

 

 

What is your story Concept

4. What are the biggest hindrances to storytelling?

It’s lonely. Every novel I write requires at least a thousand hours of solitude. At times it’s hard to feel motivated, especially on a project that’s so large and daunting. So, many of the hindrances deal not with content or ideas, but with words and perseverance.

That’s amazing! A thousand hours of solitude rounds out to be 41.6 days steeped in the organic writing process. You just elicited the Wow factor.

 

 

 

Wow Surprised Word Astonished Surprising

“Every novel I write requires at least a thousand hours of solitude.” -Steven James

 5. What do you love most about telling stories?

Not going insane by keeping them caged up in my imagination. If I keep them chained up, they start looking for their one way of escape.

I can totally relate to this. This is the real escapism for authors. To gladly unleash our imagination to the world.

 

Here’s a short poem I couldn’t help but write after hearing about the writing process of Steven James. Here it goes…

 

 

*********

A THOUSAND FOR THE MASSES

 

He gave himself;
to the power of solitude, willingly.

A thousand hours
fiercely burned, consumed, only knew 

Him.

He gave himself so;
to multitudes  

of words, unsparingly.

Now the masses consume them.

 Benjamin Thomas

THANKS STEVEN!

CONNECT WITH STEVEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Amazon Author page

@readstevenjames

www.stevenjames.net

***************

READ STEVEN JAMES BOOKS

The Patrick Bowers Series

The Jevin Banks Series

The Blur Trilogy

Other Books

Thanks for ridin’ the Train!

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Legal Thriller, Mystery and Crime Fiction with Sherrie Marshall

 

 

 

It’s time for FORENSIC LENSES!

 

 

 

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This week we would like to see through the “lenses” of a person who not only loves mystery, legal and crime thrillers; but also who has over two decades of work experience in the legal system. Come join us for another investigative session of Forensic Lenses…

 

 

 

 

LET’S WELCOME FELLOW WRITER AND MY GOOD FRIEND SHERRIE MARSHALL

 

 

 

 

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*What did you study in college?

I have a B.S. In Organizational Leadership and a minor in Economics. Yes, that’s a real degree. It’s code for how to be a leader in today’s disorganized society. The instant gratification expected in everything we touch lends to a society that has become less focused. It has left the door open for much needed leadership. I just hope I can contribute some small part.

I’ve definitely heard of this one. Couple of my comrades have the same degree! 

 

 

*What genre do you write?

I have an affinity toward legal thrillers and mystery. After serving the legal community for 22 years, I’ve learned that the human spirit is the most creative medium to write about. The criminal side, as well as tangled civil matters fascinate me.

We’re definitely kindred spirits in this department. Legal thrillers, mystery, law…It’s all so fascinating. My dream is to write a sci-fi type legal thriller, then perhaps other quirky legal thrillers. Whatever my imagination can come up with. 

 

 

 

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*How long have you wanted to be a writer?

For as long as I can remember stories have been brewing around in the old gray matter. It’s only in the last year that I’ve decided to share. Writing has been an evolution for me. Like any artist will probably admit, sharing our craft is intensely personal. I’m delighted to have arrived at a place in my life that I finally have the time to create and the inclination to share.

I like the word you’re using in describing this journey. It’s definitely an evolution in many ways. Writers are the most interesting people on earth. Unless of course, you’d happen to be an alien writer. THAT would be something.

 

 

 

“Easy reading is damn hard writing” -Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

 

 

*What exactly is your work experience? (In the legal system)

The first ten years were spent as a bailiff sitting in the courtroom for trials and hearings of all kind. I worked for a District Judge which allowed me to study human nature stemming from a very unsavory place. It was not for the weak at heart, but I became fascinated with human psyche. After my journey through the courts, I became a paralegal and focused mainly on Securities Litigation. Weirdly, it wasn’t that much different than previous criminal trials I had attended. Someone was always faced with losing something very dear to them, money, retirement, possibly business or family. The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature, and it intrigues me deeply.

This is too good, Sherrie. I had a hardy laugh and about cried, all in the span of one paragraph. I laughed at what you said about human nature stemming from an unsavory place. I pictured you making a face at some pungent smell in the courtroom. Lol! But in all seriousness, I almost cried at the mention of loss that people have to face. I guess I never realized it in this way before. Someone is always put at a loss for something dear to them. Whether it be family, friends, possession, freedom etc. There will always be a loss involved with consequence. 

“The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature” I love this statement. Human nature is extremely flawed. But some authors explore the beauty in the midst of the storm through their writing.  I believe it was Sally Allen who said something about it in our interview. Finding beauty in the midst of the shipwrecked human condition. Very intriguing. 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Someone was always faced with losing something very dear to them…”

 

 

The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature, and it intrigues me deeply.- Sherrie Marshall

 

 

 

 

 

*Which books did you devour growing up?

I loved the antics that Nancy Drew found herself in every novel. I couldn’t wait to check out the next book from the library and shred through it like it was the holy gospel. My imagination worked overtime at a very early age. It fascinated me that a young girl could solve a crime. Talk about your strong female character!

That’s awesome! I admit, I’ve never read Nancy Drew but I’m glad you’re imagination was set on fire! That’s great. Would you ever write a YA mystery?

 

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*Who are your childhood heroes?

My parents were my everything. They showed each other kindness and respect. I held a naïve belief that all children had parents like mine. We took picnics regularly; I can still taste mother’s fried chicken, and we stayed after church to eat dinner on the ground (it’s a southern thing). Then I found Elvis. I completely admired that a backwoods boy from Tupelo, Mississippi could turn his beautiful pipes into a voice heard ‘round the world. The fact that he paused his career to serve his country deepened my admiration even more. I always thought if he could do it, anyone who tried hard would have a chance too.

That’s great. Parents are a very important part of our lives. Elvis is awesome. I love to impersonate Elvis. I actually have a pair of “Elvis” sunglasses (Shh..Don’t tell anyone).

 

 

 

 

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*What are your favorite legal thrillers and mysteries?

John Grisham is the legal thriller king in my book. I have to say after studying writing for decades, he is not the best person to emulate if you’re a newbie. He breaks all the writing rules, but is a fine example of consistency in delivering a wallop of a story to readers every time. Books in this department include The Testament and The Innocent Man by Grisham, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and The Burden of Proof by Scott Turow.

I’m a Grisham fan as well. I have the Testament downloaded but haven’t read it yet. Definitely looking forward to reading Harper Lee, and I’ve yet to read Scott Turow. .

 

 

 

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*List your favorite crime and mystery writers.

James Patterson is simply a freak of nature in the writing world, and I also enjoy English cozies by Deborah Crombie. I believe I’ve read all novels written by both authors.

Awesomesauce! I have some Patterson books lined up on my to-be-read-list. The cozy mysteries are extremely appealing for some reason. The next one I’ll read is by Elizabeth Spann Craig, or Riley Adams. 

 

 

 

“Maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.” -Unknown

 

 

 

 

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*Who are your top 5 sleuths and what do you appreciate about them?

 Alex Cross (Patterson) is such a lovable detective. He has a realistic family life with ups and downs that carries through the entire series. The crimes he must solve are heinous, which peaks my interest.

 Gemma James (Crombie) is a female detective that solves crimes in the UK with sensible rationale. No hyper-dramas, which I appreciate.

 Sherlock Holmes is of course on my list. He is so flawed by nature, that I can’t help but pull for him when solving a crime.

 Mike Hammer (Spillane) had a no nonsense style that forged “hard boiled” detectives into my brain at a fairly young age. All that Hammer reading became beneficial later when I worked with lawyers 

 Inspector Clouseau was such a bumbler, I couldn’t help but love him. Since I was so young, I never knew whether or not the caper would be solved. But of course, they all were, which may be my earliest hook into the legal arena. The movies released in the 60’s and 70’s were always a family favorite.

I love it! This is a very diverse group of sleuths. Honestly I’ve been pondering starting a Mystery Thriller Week starting February 2017. Interested? I could use your assistance.

 

 

 

“Danger is the snack food of a true sleuth” -Mac Barnett

 

 

 

 

*What do you experience as they solve crimes?

The novels that capture my attention always propose more than one logical answer to a set of problems. I am enthralled with how the sleuth arrives at his decision to pursue one only to find that it is a complete disaster. I’m not a fan of such plot devices as Deus ex Machina, but I love a surprise during the climax of any novel, as long as there was some small crumb left along the way that I can go back and connect. It becomes the “Wow” factor for me in novels. I’m a “twist” junkie.

Nice. I’m thinking it must be very challenging to fool an experienced mystery reader.

 

 

 

 

 

AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME….

 

*As a reader, what are your top 5 pet peeves?

Talking heads, hopping heads, a huge cast of characters with a POV, abandoning me for 100 pages after a cliff-hanger, and novels without resolution. I like to know what happened after the disaster.

Very good list here. I’m always fascinated by what irks readers in their experience of a story. It gives great insight.

 

 

 

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*What fascinates you most about criminal, civil matters?

I led a lovely sheltered and protected childhood and was shocked to discover the other side of human nature. I began to research what made serial killers tick, and why passion seems to be the human emotion I most closely equate with animal instinct. In other words, if someone is threatened with the loss of something they hold as dear to them as breathing, then fight or flight enters into the equation. I believe that is where the wires get crossed in many killers. Civil trials can be as twisted and quirky as criminal court. One of my favorites included a lawsuit where a real estate developer decided to cut corners and not spray for termites under the foundation. Guess what can swarm thick enough during dinner to blind you? Yep, termites. It was strange though, after the verdict in favor of the family, that home burned to the ground while they were on an extended vacation. Hmm, fascinating.

Fascinating indeed. I can see why discovering the other side of human nature would be very shocking. It sounds like such a contrast doesn’t it? Certainly makes for great fiction!

 

 

 

*As a person who has much experience in the legal system, what is justice?

Such a loaded question! Justice is administered in a legal sense when a jury of your peers decides on a verdict. But, whoa, is that a huge oversimplification?! In my personal opinion, real justice is when a wrong is set right, be it sincere incarceration for an offender or the correction of a civil issue. Where these two can never meet to administer true and rightful justice is a flaw in our judicial system. Laws are made to protect us all, but at what expense to our basic rights as humans? It is unfortunately deemed prejudicial to a defendant to tell a jury about his prior convictions for similar crimes and patterns. I never sat through a trial where a jury was allowed to consider every piece of evidence for this reason. Jurors and Judges have some of the hardest jobs on the planet. They must weigh all evidence and vote to do the “Just” thing. Justice probably boils down to what Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, “We’re paying the highest tribute you can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It’s that simple.”

I couldn’t wait to ask this question. LOVED EVERY BIT. This is a large reason why I’m even writing at all. What is justice? I can’t escape this question. It comes back to me time and again. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks so much for sharing Sherrie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Watch “How To Use PR To Authentically Market Your Book With Janet Murray” on YouTube

 

 

Television Tuesday!

 

Sorry it’s a bit late…but here it is!

The talented Joanna Penn and Janet Murray talk using PR for book marketing. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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What did you come away with? Tell me in the comments!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Q & A Tag with Bloggers

 

 

The Q & A Tag on the Train

 

 

 

 

 

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I want to thank Sherrie’s Always Write for including me in the Q&A Tag. The rules are:

  • Tag the Blogger(s) who have nominated you

  • Answer the questions you were given

  • Nominate 10 bloggers

  • Write out your 10 questions

  • Let them know they’ve been tagged.

 

 

 

 

  1. Who is your hero? Christ. I can’t think of another person, honestly.

  2. How many siblings do you have? Three older knucklehead brothers. I happen to be the youngest knucklehead.

  3. What’s the best book you’ve read in 2016? Tough one. Probably a tie between two books, Cress by Marissa Meyer and Storming by K.M. Weiland. But if I had to pick one, Cress.

  4. Do you shower in the morning or night? Both. Sometimes I alternate. I’m quirky like that.

  5. What’s the best book on “Writing” you’ve ever read? Ack! That’s another tough one. I think it would have to be The Writing Process by Anne Janzer.

  6. Blue or Gold (dress reference from the internet)? Blue all day long.

  7. American Idol or The Voice? NO BRAINER! THE VOICE ALL THE WAY BABY! I’ve actually never seen American Idol.

  8. How much money is too much to spend on a date? Oh boy. Not sure about this one. Can I plead the fifth? If the person is worth it and you’re serious, spend it! But not beyond reason. Whatever dollar sign that may be is beyond me.

  9. Would you like to make your living writing? Absolutely! Everyday I’d much rather be writing something for a living.

  10. Superman or Batman? Batman. No offense, Clark Kent. It’s just that Batman is so cool and has lots of cool gadgets. Gotham is also one of my favorite settings in the comic world.

 

 

 

My 10 questions to nominated bloggers below:

 

 

  1. Who is your favorite actor?

  2. If you could tour the world where would you go first?

  3. You have one wish, what would you do with it?

  4. Your favorite fiction book of 2016?

  5. Your favorite non-fiction book of 2016 ?

  6. Who would you pick to be your personal body guard?

  7. If you had to marry a fictional character who would it be?

  8. If you could go back in time what would you do?

  9. You’re in prison serving a life sentence with one choice for a book. Which one do you choose?

  10. If there were one fictional world to replace this one which one would you pick?

 

 

 

 

I nominate:

Literary Dust

The Page Turner

Kristina Stanley

Storylight

The Jumping Bean

Plottinger Twist

StoryPort

K.T. Ivanrest

Of Bleeding Pens & Pages

Lorraine Ambers

 

 

 

 

 

WASN’T THIS FUN!!!

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

Interview with Story Coach, Author and Ghostwriter Kevin T. Johns

 

 

 

WELCOME TO THE TRAIN KEVIN!

 

 

 

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Kevin T. Johns is an author, writing coach, ghostwriter, and podcaster who is passionate about helping  writers.

 

 

 

 

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Were you born and raised in Canada?

Yup. I’ve lived in and around Ottawa, Ontario, most of my life. I did a brief stint in Toronto after high school, but, for the most part, Ottawa has been my home.

I’ve yet to go to Canada. Can’t wait to tour the country!

 

 

 

 

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What sparked your love of literature?

Comic books and Stephen King. I wasn’t a big reader before the age of ten or eleven, but around then I started reading super hero comics and Stephen King books and it just took off from there.

I started with a comic bent too, but I didn’t start with novels until much later.  I should’ve asked you about your favorites.

 

 

 

 

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After studying literature in college what 3 things have you come away with? (Besides debt)

1. An understanding that we all bring different lenses to our reading experiences, i.e. a book can be read with a feminist lens, a structural lens, a post-colonial lens. No one point of view is the “right” one. Each lens will provide different take-aways from a work of literature, all of which will be valid.

2. Literature (and art in general) plays a massive role in defining the culture we live in. We generally think of storytelling as escapism or just entertainment, when, in fact, it’s often key to formulating the world around us and how we understand it.

3. The analytical skill-sets used by literary scholars are applicable across a wide range of disciplines and situations, and are, therefore, well worth developing.

I love it. These 3 are great nuggets to chew on and appreciate. 

 

 

 

 

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What drives you to help other writers?

I believe books and stories are profoundly important to our world and to people’s happiness in general. But books, and novels in particular, are exceptionally difficult to create. If I can help make the writing process a little bit easier for someone, I feel like I have a duty to do so. Shawn Coyne said something when I interviewed him for The Writing Coach podcast that I totally agree with: “When you learn a particular craft, it’s kind of your responsibility to share it so that we can take storytelling to a new level.” Sharing what you know, helping others as a teacher and a mentor, is how we all get better. So there’s a certain moral responsibility to sharing what I know about writing. I also just love working with writers. For whatever reason, it’s the thing that lights me up and makes me happy.

That’s awesome! I’m all about taking storytelling to the next level. It’s fun to work with writers!

 

 

 

~A brand is a story that is always being told- Scott Bedbury

 

 

 

 

Can you name up to 5 common problems you see most in writers?

1. Not writing (procrastinating, overthinking, delaying, giving-in to resistance,          avoiding doing the work, etc.)

2. Not having a regular writing schedule

3. Thinking software and tools will solve their problems

4. Taking themselves too seriously

5. Perfectionism

I’m definitely guilty of some of these. But if you don’t know the problem then you can’t fix it. 

 

 

 

The only mistake you can make is not asking for help.-Sandeep Jauhar

 

 

 

 

What are some of the ways that you help them?

The great thing about being a writing coach is that I can tailor my help to the individual writer’s situation. While there are certain common challenges every writer struggles with, the way each writers overcomes those challenges is totally unique to them. I don’t have a one-size- fits-all approach to helping authors. There is no secret answer or push-button solution. My job is to work with writers to explore options and find solutions that allow them to excel in their own special way.

I like the tailoring approach to helping writers. That’d be the most beneficial because everyone is so different.

 

 

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Tell us about some of your own writings.

My novels The Page Turners and The Page Turners: Economy of Fear are young adult horror/sci-fi/fantasy mash-ups about a group of teenager who accidently unleash their favourite fictional villains into the real world.

Rocket Princess vs. Snaggletooth the Dragon is a children’s picture book for rebellious young ladies who want to be more than just another princess. It’s beautifully illustrated by Rich Lauzon.

Smash Fear and Write like a Pro is a short self-help manual for writers grappling with self-doubt.

The Novel Writer’s Blueprint: Five Steps to Creating and Completing Your First Book is a writing instructional book that helps aspiring authors craft their first novel.

I also blog regularly about writer’s craft.

AWESOME. I’d definitely like to check out some of your writings!  

 

 

 

 

 

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Who are some popular Canadian authors?

I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an expert on Canadian literature. My reading tastes are more focused on the cannon of “great literature” without much concern for the nationality of the author. There are, of course, certain Canadian authors everyone knows and reads like Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje, but that’s not really my thing. I guess some of my favourite Canadian writers would be indie comic book guys from Toronto like Chester Brown, Joe Matt, and Seth.

Just wondered. I’ve been meeting so many writers from Canada I couldn’t help but ask. 

 

 

How can we sign up for your podcast?

On my podcast, The Writing Coach, I speak with all sorts of people who, like me, work with authors, be it editors, coaches, or book marketing experts. You can check out the full archive of past episodes and subscribe via iTunes right here.

Sweet. I listened to one these a while back and really enjoyed the production and audio quality.

 

 

 

 

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Tell us about some of the services you provide.

My one-on- one coaching offers support, accountability, and expert advice to authors via weekly video-conference coaching sessions. Each week, I hop on a call with the writer and we dive deep into their writing, goals, and challenges.

My group program is similar to the one-on- one coaching, but takes place in a group context. I have an amazing collection of authors in the program right now who have created a wonderful community of support for one another.

I also have an online course, The Novel Writer’s Blueprint Master Class, which consists of video tutorials that walk aspiring authors through the entire process of writing a book, from idea creation all the way through to completed manuscript. I’ve set up a coupon code for your readers, so if they use the code WRITINGTRAIN at the checkout, they’ll get $200 off the course.

I also work as a ghostwriter. Successful entrepreneurs, coaches, and business people hire me to help write their self-help, business, or other non-fiction books and articles.

Sounds like a great deal that offers a lot of good services. You sound really busy! 

 

 

 

 

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Are you currently working on a project or novel?

This fall I’m releasing my latest novel, M School. It’s an action thriller with an all-girl cast. It deals with issues of violence and mental health, and I’m super excited to share it with the world. Folks can get some free goodies if they join the book’s early notification list here.

I just signed up. Curious about your new novel!

 

 

 

M School by Kevin T. Johns

 

 

 

 

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DUE THIS FALL!!

 

 

 

Favorite inspirational quotes.

I often come back to the Ernest Hemingway quote: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

 

 

 

 

DON’T FORGET THIS MARVELOUS OPPORTUNITY

GET $200 OFF The Novel Writer’s Blueprint Master Class  when you use the coupon code WRITINGTRAIN at the checkout. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU KEVIN!

 

 

 

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CONNECT WITH KEVIN

@Kevin_T_Johns

Amazon Author page

Goodreads

www.kevintjohns.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

Unlocking Worlds a Reading Companion by Sally Allen

 

WELCOME BACK TO FORENSIC LENSES

 

 

Featuring Sally Allen author of UNLOCKING WORLDS a reading companion for book lovers

 

 

 

unlocking-worlds

 

 

 

  • File Size: 1760 KB
  • Digital Length: 172 pages, Paperback 248 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Griffins Wharf (November 11, 2015)
  • Publication Date: November 11, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017VOU7NC

 

 

 

 

 

 

WELCOME SALLY!

 

 

 

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Have you ever wondered what life is like through the eyes of another? To see what they see, know what they know, experience as they do? Do you yearn to participate in another’s inner life journey as they learn to navigate through it? Well, today we have an excellent resource in talented author and book lover, Sally Allen. Her book Unlocking Worlds, does exactly that. Unlock worlds in book after book with amazing protagonists, heroes and supporting cast. I’ve already added several (and counting) of these books to my Goodreads account. Which seems to be growing like kudzu on steroids at the moment.

I love books, and I also yearn to experience the the world view through the eyes of voracious readers, bookworms and book lovers. To get a taste of what they appreciate and how books have shaped them over the years. Whoohoo! Fun stuff! Unlocking Worlds will introduce you to the familiar and uncharted territories of lands waiting to be explored. To boldy go where no man has gone before…(sounds like Star Trek).

 

Now we get to enjoy an interview with Sally! Yippee!! Take it away Sally…

 

 

 

 

 

Who affected your reading habits as a child?

My family was my strongest influence. My parents restricted screen time (meaning I wasn’t allowed anywhere near screens from Monday through Friday), and my parents and older siblings were all readers. So from house rules to house habits, I learned to turn to books for entertainment. And I did!

We do the same thing at our house and our kids hate this. My childhood was quite the opposite with unrestricted screen time, yikes!  Wish I could’ve read more books back then. 

 

 

 

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Which stories, characters, or themes became part of your core values?

The two that first come to mind I read (and reread often) as a child: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The All-of- a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. Both embodied the values my family instilled in me – community, family, empathy, and compassion – though in very different ways. They’re books I still think of, draw inspiration from, and enjoy rereading to this day.

These are very good values!  

 

 

 

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How did your reading affect you in high school?

Reading was how I would relax and unwind. I remember spending countless hours lying on the floor of my room reading and rereading my favorite contemporary novels. High school was also when I first fell in love with classic literature Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and learned to embrace a broader range of literary genres and styles.

I often hear these as sources of inspiration, especially Austen.

 

 

 

 

 

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What did you appreciate about literature throughout college?

I most appreciated building on the close reading skills introduced in high school and learning how to research and discover more about the story behind a book. These highlighted how much we don’t understand and how much we have to learn. They taught me to have patience, to listen, and not to rush the judgment. Incidentally, all excellent life skills as well!

Reading is one thing, but learning the nuts and bolts behind it is another. Gleaning solid virtues such as patience, listening and understanding are excellent.

 

 

TRUE BEAUTY IS FOUND IN VIRTUE 

Who can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies -Proverbs 31:10 

 

 

 

What was your goal in writing this particular book?

I wanted to share a way of reading for personal pleasure and enrichment. Reading preferences can be incredibly personal, driven by what we’re trying to figure out and by our personal experiences and preoccupations. I wanted to honor that and to show how books of all kinds can bring us both pleasure and growth, depending on how we approach them and why we’re drawn to them. I hope that readers will discover both books they’ve read and not read and that my book will inspire reflection and conversation.

Yes I’ve definitely appreciated reading your book and I’ve added many to Goodreads account already. Personally I believe we could benefit more from reflecting and conversing about what we’ve read and experienced. 

 

 

 

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Tell us about your fascination with “aspects of wonder” from “Criticism” by Matthew Goulish. 

I encourage everyone to find and read Goulish’s beautiful essay! There is so much to treasure in and learn from it. What captured my imagination about “aspects of wonder” is the idea of being transported by beauty. In a way, it seems like it should be obvious that engaging with art is about transcendent moments. But that’s not always what happens in practice.

I’ll have to do some more digging to find it. Thanks for the reference!

 

 

…”it takes a keen mind and an open heart to recognize and value beauty.” I really enjoyed this quote and Ghoulish’s view of the critic changing, and not the work of art.

Thank you! Goulish’s view reminds me of the saying (I believe it’s Carl Jung’s), “You are what you do.” How we approach and engage with art can mirror how we approach and engage with the world around us. If we enter into an art experience with an openness and sense of possibility, it can change what we allow ourselves to get out of it. And that approach to books can translate into how we approach the world around us as well. So how we read matters a great deal.

I find this very fascinating. How we approach and engage with art mirroring how we engage with the world around us. EPIC!

 

 

 

 

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How do you feel about the current 5 star rating system for books?

I am not a fan. Reading is such a rich, transformative, dimensional experience. To reduce a book to five stars has a way of draining the complexity, life, and beauty out of it for me.

Wow. I love your statement on this. It provides a totally different mindset when it comes to books. 

 

 

 

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If you had to choose another time period in which to live in, which would you choose?

So many of the books I love were written in the 19th century. I’m also fascinated by ancient Greek literature and by all that we can’t know about that time. It would be interesting to visit and experience everyday life in either of these times. Though I must admit, I’m quite happy to read about the past from my comfortable perch in the 21st century!

Hah! True enough. Greek is pretty fascinating, love the language. The 19th century sounds cool…but I’d rather read about it. 

 

 

 

How does reading shape and transform us?

Reading allows us to see the world through another set of eyes and from another position in space and time. It introduces us to new ideas and new ways of looking at the world. Research is beginning to help us understand how reading experiences can rewire our brains. Having felt changed by my experience of books – Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth come to mind – I can believe it!

I’m very intrigued how reading affects our brain development and experience. Recent books have touched on this using cognitive science. It’s affects are amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tell us about your favorite literary Mom.

The first one I thought of is Marmee from Little Women because she’s such a steady, comforting presence. But I also adore Miranda’s mom in When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. She’s quirky, gives great advice, challenges Miranda to think harder and be kinder, and she is 100 percent devoted as a parent.

Moms are the BEST! Like you said, steady and a comforting presence. That’s a mom. I’ll have to add these books to my ever-growing TBR list.

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you have a favorite father figure?

My favorite literary father figure is Joe Gargery from Great Expectations. He’s kind, loving, patient, loyal, forgiving. My favorite literary dad is Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. He never talks down to his children, and he embodies empathy, even when it is most difficult (and therefore most valuable).

Splendid. Empathy can be rather challenging at times, but it’s definitely worth it.

 

 

If you had to pick a protagonist to marry who would it be?

I love Hamish Macbeth from M. C. Beaton’s murder mystery series. He has the right priorities: the desire for a peaceful life (somewhat ironic, since he’s constantly having to solve murders!) and deep care for his community. Another favorite is Obinze from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. He’s patient, loyal, and an empathetic listener, (and he’s a reader!).

This was a fun one! Hamish Macbeth and Obinze. By the way, thanks for recommending Americanah. It sounds like a very moving story. 

 

 

 

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If you had to pick a hero for president, who are your top 3 choices?

I agree with Albus Dumbledore that those who want power are probably the least to be trusted with it. So my choices would lean towards those who have neither expressed a desire for power nor pursued it. My three picks will stick with the Harry Potter theme: Kingsley Shacklebolt’s focus, discretion, and principles put him at the top of my list. I would also vote for Hermione Granger, who is highly rational, clever, and has a strong sense of justice. Finally, Mr. Weasley seems happy to sacrifice prestige for doing the right thing. He would get my vote.

Great picks! Love your philosophy on this. Sounds like it would make a great book, or perhaps fan fiction?

 

 

 

 

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If you were a damsel in distress, who would you call on to rescue you?

Hopefully, I would be able to rescue myself.🙂 But in a pinch, Hermione would be a good person to have in my corner.

Being rescued is more fun🙂  I’m noticing a pattern here. If Hermione would become president, then rescued you, that would be a blockbuster.

 

 

 

 

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Do you have any other books in the works?

I’ve been working on an idea for a book on classic literature. It’s still in the beginning stages, so we’ll see where it takes me.

Stay tuned!

Absolutely. A book on the classics sounds great. 

 

 

THANKS SALLY!

 

 

 

Sally Allen is an award-winning author who holds a PhD in English Education from New York University, with an emphasis in writing and rhetoric, and an MA in English Language and Literature. She has taught writing and literature at New York University and Fairfield University, and is the recipient of New York University’s Willy Gorrissen Award for Dedication and Skill in the Academic Development of Student Writing. Currently, Allen is a faculty member at Post University where she teaches literature, writing, and communications. She is the founder of Books, Ink at HamletHub, a website dedicated to Connecticut books news, where her writing has earned her three Connecticut Press Club awards.

Unlocking Worlds (Griffins Wharf, 2015) can be purchased from Amazon

and other booksellers nationwide. More information about Sally Allen can be

found at www.sallyallenbooks.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

 

Watch “Obama & Putin Phone Conversation on “Tonight Show”” on YouTube

TELEVISION TUESDAY WITH BARACK OBAMA & PUTIN

#HILARIOUS

 

 

 

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Did you laugh? Tell me in the comments!!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Watch “Daniel Craig Reveals A Mind-Blowing Scene From “Spectre”” on YouTube

TELEVISION TUESDAY WITH ACTOR DANIEL CRAIG & STEPHEN COLBERT

 

 

#HILARIOUS

 

 

 

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Did you laugh? Tell me in the comments!

Benjamin  Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Watch “CFA Master Class: Harlan Coben (1/2)” on YouTube

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY WITH HARLAN COBEN

 

 

 

 

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Who’s your favorite mystery writer? Tell me in the comments!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com