Author Interview: The Tenacity of Linda Kane









linda and Shari- cropped





Hi Linda!!


Check out her author site : Linda L. Kane

Follow her blog at: L.L. Kane

Connect on Social Media: Facebook @lindaleekaneauthor

on Twitter @llkane2152







front cover
Light at end of the tunnel.


The Black Madonna


*I read about your location in your bio. Does living near the ocean help your writing process?

When my bio was written I assumed that I would be living primarily In Pacific Grove, California. Instead, I ended up  living  in  both Fresno and in Pacific Grove. I have many horses, and dogs in Fresno. I couldn’t bare to leave them for any length of time . As to writing, I write in Fresno, in a back bedroom that I have turned into an office. I paint in the garage in Pacific Grove and create ideas for writing while walking on the boardwalk or on the sand with my dogs. I also belong to a writing group in Pacific Grove that are creative men and women.

Wonderful!  I’m picturing you walking along the boardwalk with tons of ideas. 






                                            Very beautiful horse!




*Are you originally from California?

I am originally from Oregon City, Oregon. Most of my family still lives there. I miss the cool weather, the smell of the trees, and the freshness of the air.

I’ve heard Oregon is absolutely gorgeous, can’t wait to go there one day. 









What did I study?

I studied many things, becoming an airline stewardess, journalism, reprographics, and animal communication, then I became older and realized that I had two sons with learning disabilities. I saw how teachers out of frustration or lack of training had difficulty working with them and so many other kids. I decided not only to help in the class room, but I became a school psychologist, learning disability specialist, behavior analyst, and I also received a degree in Communicative Disorders and a Masters in Education.

WOW. That’s amazing! You’re quite an accomplished person, and a lot to do with communicating. Now I can understand why you would be a writer. It’s just another way of communicating. Excellent.








*Which genre do you claim as your own?

The genre that I read the most is nonfiction, historical. What I claim as my own is speculative historical fiction.

I always have a high appreciation for anyone who can write historical fiction. Hats off to you, Linda!








*Why do you write for adults and children?

That is a great question. I write for me when it comes to the adult books. I finished The Black Madonna, a historical fiction book with romance after two years of research on the Cathars. I write for children because of my background in learning disabilities. The stories provide inspiration in never giving up, whether it’s dancing, math, reading, or conquering your fears.

Very inspiring! You’re truly a multi-talented artist. 




Children Books by Linda Lee Kane



book 6


Katterina Ballerina



book 5


Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Christmas





Matty’s Adventures in Numberland





*Who are your favorite authors and books?

Steve Berry, Brad Metzler, Tey, Agatha Christie, Dr. Seuss, the Brothers Grimm, and so many more.

Wonderful group of authors.



*You strike me as a very expressive person, have you ever written poetry?

I had never really read poetry until a woman I met, Brenda Najamin would read her poetry in a class I was taking. I would take her poems home and pour over them, it was amazing. I do like Robert Frost, I have kept his poetry tucked back in my mind. I love his flow, his rhythm and the stories he tells.


I’d bet you’re a natural at it. I got that vibe when I read your bio. 





~Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words -Edgar Allan Poe




How did I come to love history?

Great question. I could give the tried and true answer that if you don’t know the past you’re destined  to repeat it. But for me, there is so much more. I believe that when you see individuals struggle through life, you realize no matter what era you live in, you’re not alone. We all have the same ‘wants’, desires, and compassion.I also like to rediscover people from old books, like Richard III, or Mary, Queen of Scots. The battles, the heroism, and yes, the love.


History is my worst subject, so I appreciate anyone who can write historical fiction.








                     This is my brain on history…..






“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.






Do I have a favorite time period?

I believe that in every time period there is something that gets me excited, that I want to learn more about. I stumbled upon the Cathars from the 12th century and how the Roman Church persecuted them for their beliefs. I’m reading about the Plantagenets and the Tudors and was amazed to find out that King Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard was only thirteen years old. His reasoning to cut off her head was insane, he probably was by then. How Henry VII won the crown from Richard III, and I ponder who really was responsible for the death of the Princes in the Tower, or did they die? My family is from the Isle of Man and about Illiam Dhone who rose against the Stanleys and captured all the insular forts. Dhone was tried and executed and a famous poem was written about him by Sir Walter Scott. Yes, he is a relative.


That’s cool! Can’t wait to read your book, the Black Madonna. 










Why did I begin to write?

I think to chase the demons away, it’s cathartic. Something in every book has a little of me. By writing about it, creating a story I can resolve parts of history and possibly help others with a clearer understanding of that time period, or possibly about themselves, or me.


I see a fascinating connection between your desire to resolve something in history, in your past, and your love of history.



What is my goal?

To write well, to learn, to educate, and possibly with my children’s books, help kids with learning disabilities or life struggles.

Those are all honorable goals. 



What hinders me?

Nothing hinders me, I set a goal, and I go after it. Every day I write, every day I set a new goal for myself. Primarily it’s to educate. My father always said, ‘You may not be the brightest bulb in the batch but you have tenacity’. I think that’s true of me.


YES. “Nothing hinders me, I set a goal, and I go after it.” I love that spirit! A tenacious bulb!




What keeps me motivated?

I believe that I have no choice, I have to share what I learn, I have to educate, and for a personal goal, I would like to be the best that I can be as a  storyteller.


I kind of knew this was coming. You’re a very driven person, and you strike me as an overachiever. You can only be the best you at any given moment. Your desire to educate is very inspiring. 



Why do people give up?

I believe they give up because of their lack of belief in themselves. You can make an excuse like, time, kids, etc. but if you really want it, you toss out the naysayers in your life or the evil demon that sits on your shoulder telling you to ‘give up, you can’t do it. You find a time to write, to go after your dream, you never give up, you never give in. You Just Do It (like the Nike commercial).


This is great. I’m seeing the fire of your tenacity here, it’s admirable. Can I borrow some? I see why you’re an educator. You’re passionate, dedicated, focused, driven, and committed to learning. This is also why I say you’re “expressive”. You have strong feeling to communicate, connect and help others. This was evident in the beginning when you said you studied animal communication, became a school psychologist, and even painting and writing. You go Linda!



What do I say to people who have given up?

Believe in yourself, there is no one but you, and only you will live to regret the choices you’ve made. If you want it bad enough, don’t let anyone or anything stop you.





*Can you give us a summary of the Black Madonna?

The Black Madonna is a story of Luci de Foix, a young woman who was orphaned at the age of nine when her parents were killed in a car accident. But the more Luci learns, the more she realizes that there might not have been an ‘accident’ at all. A mysterious group called The Order has been keeping watch over her family line for hundreds of years, and has been waiting for the day when a secret diary will be delivered to Luci, unlocking a code that The Order desperately wants. And when just such a diary is delivered to Luci when she is twenty-nine years old, she realizes that it might be the only way to learn her true family history and the key to her own future. Will Luci be able to figure out the codex in time to save herself and avenge family?
Excellent premise. Whoever did the book cover for this did a great job.





front cover
Light at end of the tunnel.






Robert Frost  wrote a poem called, ‘The Road Not Taken’, I think it’s a must read for anyone thinking of not pursuing their dream.




Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


By Robert Frost




What am I currently working on?

I just finished a YA titled Chilled to the Bone which will be out in the next few weeks, a children’s story to help kids and parents with math, a children’s story about an abandoned pony named Clyde. It’s a true story, and I can’t wait for the artwork to be completed. My current book is called Bottoms Up, it’s about the Central Valley, murder, and mystery in the world of fine wine and the competition that goes on.


Can’t wait to see what you come up with! Thanks Linda!




Favorite Quote:

Anything by Mae West, she was incredible so I’m not quoting anything profound, or am I?



Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before, or you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.


Here’s another: I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.







~Keep writing

and don’t stop

-Benjamin Thomas







Benjamin Thomas




The Definition of Art & The Story based Artist with J.N. Garrett



Everybody Please Welcome 

Artist & Illustrator & Writer

J.N. Garrett



Welcome Jennifer!








Here’s Jennifer in digital format…







Jennifer is a story-inspired artist from the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. When she’s not making art, she loves reading, writing, being out in nature, and drinking rather copious quantities of tea.







~Art is not what you see but what you make others see -Degas



Let the games begin



*I’m assuming you drink Starbucks? 

Haha! This strikes me as an interesting way to phrase this question. Is this assumption just because so many people do drink Starbucks, or because I said something that made it sound like I drink Starbucks? O.o Haha! 🙂 Actually, I’m not a big coffee drinker, so I only go there occasionally. Most of the time, I’m much happier with a proper cup of black tea with cream and sugar. 🙂

Hah! Just wondered. Most people from the Pacific Northwest are hardcore Starbucks fans. I like black tea as well minus the cream and sugar. Earl grey to specific. 






You gotta love that cup of tea




*Your profile says you’re a story-inspired artist, can you elaborate?

The short answer or the long one? 😉 If I were to sum it up, I would tell you that I greatly prefer to create art that is based on stories, or has a sense of story to it than working in real-life subjects for their own sake. I can enjoy still life, portraiture, landscape, and figure art to a point, and there are many wonderful artists who work in these genres that I positively love, but ultimately, I’m more interested in how those things can be used to tell stories than I am in those subjects for themselves.

Ok, here’s a more elaborate answer if you want one:

Stories have always had a special place in my life. I jumped from learning to read “Bob Books” at the age of five to devouring the entire Narnia series at the age of six. I can still remember a surprising amount of detail about how it felt to visit some of the different places and events in Lewis’ fantasy world for that first time, despite the fact I was that young.

My love for art started early as well. My mom has frequently recalled that I was about two when I started carefully drawing circles with features that were recognizable as faces, and I could easily spend hours playing with crayons or play dough, even at such a young age. I suppose I heard that story often enough to not feel much wonder in it. I talked, read, and drew “early”. That was just me. Now, watching my nephew and two nieces beginning to grow, I’ve realized that for a two year old to draw anything recognizable or to have the patience and interest to invest that much time in one project really is somewhat of an unusual thing.

I continued to devour books as I got older. “Little Women”, “The Princess and the Goblin”, the “American Girl” series, “Treasure Island”, “The Wind in the Willows”, “The Lord of the Rings”, – I was constantly surrounded by beautiful story worlds. We won’t talk much here about what a struggle math was for me all through school, but my reading comprehension was quite high from the get go, and it stayed that way. I was that weird kid who read a short, illustrated adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and liked it so much I decided to read the original play – at the age of 12. I was also the kid that would critique “terrible” jobs at casting in book-to-film adaptations when it was obvious to me that no attempt had been made to match the descriptions of the characters in the books. (“How could they cast a BLOND in that role when the book CLEARLY said they had DARK hair?!” Oh the horror.)

I think it was this knack for reading comprehension that made the idea of combining my love for stories and my love for art such a natural concept for me. Even as a child, I drew pictures based on stories I read and loved. I particularly remember a long season filled with drawings of Tolkien’s characters. I also wanted to write my own books and illustrate them. For years, I said I wanted to be a “writer and illustrator”. I remember an attempt to create an illustrated story as early as kindergarten, and although that attempt didn’t really get too far, it is interesting to look back that far and realize how much of an inkling I had even then of what I wanted to do.

At some point in early adulthood, I dropped the “writer” from my quick comeback when people asked “What do you want to be?”. Insecurity may have been the wretched imp that launched the decision to “shelve” the writing-related part of my dream (“There’s so many people out there who write better than I do”), and practicality was likely the culprit that sealed that decision (“How many art forms do you think you have time to master anyway?”). Together, they whispered something along the lines of, “Better just focus on your drawing and painting, and then you can illustrate other people’s books”. I bought it, and so fiction-writing and I largely parted ways for a while.

After high school, I attended a classical fine arts atelier. I am beyond grateful for the foundational things I learned there, but at the end of four years of painting still life, landscape, figure studies, and plaster casts of famous statues, one thing could not have been clearer to me – I had very little love and passion for those things in and of themselves; I was interested in them mainly for how they could help me to tell stories visually. Around the time I graduated art school, I was also forced to take a fresh look at my attempt to “stuff” the idea of being a writer. What called it into question for me was the jealousy I felt spring up when someone I knew made the simple statement that they were writing something. I was not jealous of their story or ideas – those were their own to explore, and I was happy they had that – no, I was only jealous of the fact that they were writing at all. That feeling was an indicator for me, and I began to realize that I really couldn’t walk away from that old desire. I landed on an idea I decided to pursue as a story, and it was a joy to “un-shelve” that part of myself again. At first, I thought I would do an illustrated novel, but that left me with the problem of having to muscle through an entire book before I could also draw the characters I was longing to portray visually as well as through words. I began to see graphic novels and comics being done in styles that varied widely off the “Marvel” model I had always associated with comics, and I realized that telling my story in a sequential art format like that would allow me to fully indulge both my writing and illustrating.

Wow! You’re quite a unique individual. I’ve never heard anyone say this before. Story based art is something new and fascinating to me. I’m starting to see a connection with stories we read and appreciate with a pattern of imitation. Many times children do this by imitating or pretending to be characters in their books. Their imagination attempts to recreate what they’ve apprehended in a story.  With you, it’s a ruthless desire to create story based art. That’s so cool!







By J.N. Garrett





*What were your influences early in life towards art?

I would sum this up quickly by saying the stories that sparked my imagination, and my mom, who taught me the first things I learned in art, and who has supported me in my artistic pursuits for my entire life.

That’s so sweet!  In no particular order; you gotta love stories, the imagination and moms. 




*What are your favorite mediums to use? Painting, drawing, writing, photography?At the rest of sounding slightly crazy…ALL OF THEM!!! 😀 SOOOOO many kinds of media! 😀

I’ve actually been trying to come up with a short, descriptive phrase to sum up how I work, because I tend to interconnect and flow between different media. I sometimes start a drawing in digital media and transition to finishing it in a traditional media, or vice versa, or I may mix a couple traditional media, such as watercolor with color pencil. I don’t want to just draw or write, I want to interweave the two. I’ve even wondered recently if I could take my hobby pianist skills and create a soundtrack for the webcomic I’m writing. (That would be an adventure!) More recently, I’ve been looking at using photos as a base for digitally painted backgrounds in my story too. There’s so many amazing possibilities out there!

That’s great, have at it! Sounds like you’re having a lot of fun.





By J.N. Garrett




*Your Facebook profile says after highschool you attended Atelier Maui art school where I received a….? 

I am a story-inspired artist from the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. After graduating high school, I attended Atelier Maui (formerly Ashland Academy of Art), where I received a Certificate of Completion of Four Years. I have also received training as an artist through the Masterpiece Christian Fine Arts Foundation, and I continue to study to improve my craft through self-teaching and other opportunities. I am currently writing/illustrating a graphic novel and teaching art classes though Grumbacher at Michaels Arts and Crafts. I am available for online and/or in-person art tutoring, and I also do commission/freelance work. If you have any questions about working with me, feel free to contact me at

Don’t miss Jennifer’s epic website at J.N. Garrett Art





By J.N. Garrett





*What made you chose art school?

Well, I knew I wanted to be an artist, and the idea of spending four years in a traditional college where I would be forced to re-hash general education subjects felt like a stifling waste of time to me. I also knew a lot of former students of the teacher I studied with, and I loved the quality of the work they did, so that really influenced my choice to go to that specific school. It also happened to be right in my backyard, so to speak, so that was a huge plus too. I love the perspective of an artist who chose to mentor me for a number of years, that an artist should be a perpetual student. I may have finished school, but there is always more to learn, and the bar is always being raised for the standard of what I want to achieve. I think that’s such a huge part of what I love about art – there is no “peak”, no ultimate mountain top or end of the road. There are always new ways to try things, new levels of ability to push toward.

That’s what I love about art. It’s a continual journey of discovery. What an adventure! 




By J.N. Garrett




*You’re an Art instructor where do you teach?

I am currently certified with Grumbacher to teach drawing and painting courses at our local Michaels store. I love the opportunity to connect with people in meaningful ways through teaching, whether it’s pouring into a particularly passionate student, or just begin to able to encourage someone who needs it.

I like it. Connecting with others in meaningful ways through teaching. An you do sound very passionate about it. I think passion begets passion in my book. 



*Some people say art can’t be taught, is that true?

Muahahahaha! Are you sure you want to get me started on this topic? It might cause a very long rant that wanders into other areas that I see as being connected to this issue. 😉

Honestly, that is one of the most frustrating  perspectives I encounter as an artist. Do I believe people can have a natural inclination or bent toward being good at something in a specific area? Sure. In that sense, I do believe in talent, which is the thing inside you, and no, I would say that can’t be taught, because I think that God gives us each areas that he wires us to naturally gravitate toward. HOWEVER, art is just like any subject out there. Just because I’m not a math genius doesn’t mean I can’t learn my times tables and algebra. Just because I don’t enjoy writing chemistry equations doesn’t mean a teacher can’t help me wrap my head around the basics. Just because someone isn’t a “natural” artist doesn’t mean that they can’t be taught how to draw. I have a problem with the “art is talent that you either just have or don’t” perspective, because every artist I know who is any good put in a lot of work to get there, and people don’t talk like that about any other skilled craft I know of. A doctor is not just “talented” – everyone knows he worked his tail off to get through school and learn how to do what he does. A businesswoman isn’t just “gifted” or “lucky” – she learned how to observe and work with the structures and systems in place in order to make smart decisions that would help her make the most of the opportunities that came along.

There are a couple other issues that I see as being related to this. First, there’s the view of art being the “easy class”, that art class is a way for students who don’t want to work hard to get an easy credit. This is a devaluing statement to the students who are there because they DO want to work hard and get better at their craft, and who, if they succeed in any degree, will hear it again as adults in the forms of “Ok, you’re an artist, but what’s your REAL job?”, and every kind of variation on, “Why should you get paid to do something you enjoy?” I feel it also allows a skewed perspective of the arts to start forming for people at a very early age. If students were being taught construction drawing, and having to wrestle through all the complexities of learning form, tone, and color from an early age, I can’t help but feel that art would be taken a bit more seriously by adults who had taken those kinds of classes as children, and therefore understood the inherent work involved in becoming a good artist, even if they weren’t artists themselves, any more than I can appreciate the talent, dedication, and work involved in someone becoming an engineer, because I had to take a certain amount of math and science in school.

Second, a more modern issue I see as being connected to this is the tendency to marginalize digital art as not being “real” art, or somehow taking less skill/talent/work than traditional media. Again, I think if more people were exposed to drawing digitally, it would help dispel some of the myths people have bought about this medium. No, the computer is not doing it for us. No, just because certain things are easier to fix than traditional media or there is more wiggle room to experiment in some ways, it still doesn’t mean it’s “easy” to do.

I don’t know. I get it that writers come up against things like this too, and that’s in spite of the fact that most people have had to take English classes, so I don’t think classroom education is the sole key to fixing problematic attitudes towards the arts and artists, but I can’t help feeling that better education on the subject would still be a great place to start in combating some of the misconception artist of all kinds – writers, photographers, painters and more – have to face throughout their lives, and I do feel that visual arts in particular suffer from a lot of these misconceptions.

EXCELLENT. Spoken like a true passionate person. I wasn’t aware of some of the misconceptions you mentioned. I find it hard to believe anyone would find art as *easy*. No art is easy in my mind, especially digital. To me, digital art is harder and more complicated with all of the technology involved. All the Adobe platforms, Wacom tablets, digital brushes, settings, layering, CS 6 etc. That stuff is definitely not a walk in the park.






By J.N. Garrett




*According to your current understanding, what is art?

Wow, big question there! I like it though. It’s a “thinking cap question”. 🙂 I think art can be many, many things, but one of my favorite definitions of art that I’ve ever heard was from Madleine L’engle in the book “Walking on Water”. She describes art as something through which we get to bring order and beauty, or “cosmos”, into the chaos and destruction we see in the world, that the truest form of art as it reflects our Creator is in the creation of things that ultimately affirm what is true and lovely and real and alive. Seen in that way, art is a way we can make a little rightness in a world where there is so much wrong. That’s why, for me, I will never buy into the idea that art is merely “entertainment”. It can be very entertaining, and that is not a bad thing, but if it is creating that “cosmos in chaos” to any degree, then I feel it is also something more than entertainment.

I also like C.S. Lewis’ perspective on this, which comes out in this quote on friendship: “Friendship, like art, is unnecessary; it has no survival value. Rather, it is one of those things that gives value to survival.” It is interesting in light of this quote to consider some of the articles written in recent years that talk about the damaging physical effects of chronic loneliness, which some studies have claimed can be worse for our bodies even than smoking. You could make a strong case that the reality is that art, beauty, and meaningful connections are actually not only important, but actually ARE necessary, not only for the health of our psyche, but ultimately because what affects the heart and mind affects the body, and so those things are actually quite impactful on our physical well-being as well. There are reasons people like Hitler were hellbent on destroying art and the physical beauty of the land. I feel like that’s largely what Lewis is getting at in that quote – there are things that are necessary in other ways than in having immediate survival value.

Very beautiful. Your whole statement stands like a piece of art. Well put.




“Friendship, like art, is unnecessary; it has no survival value. Rather, it is one of those things that gives value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis






~I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else – Pablo Picasso






“I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.” -Vincent Van Gogh






~Art is in continually in transit. From the miraculous conception of the imagination; unto the perception of the eye of the beholder. From the eye of the artist to the eye of the beholder. ~ Benjamin Thomas





Stay tuned….





Benjamin Thomas



Watch “How To Write a Book | The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Writers” on YouTube







Author of the Alpha Drive Trilogy 










Which habits do you practice? Tell me in the comments! 




Benjamin Thomas



















What are your favorite signed books? Tell me in the comments! 




Benjamin Thomas



Watch “Writing Discipline And Mindset For Authors With James Scott Bell” on YouTube










Words of wisdom from James Scott Bell








What did you learn? Tell me in the comments!




Benjamin Thomas


Story of the Writer: Interview with Ian Townsend




Everyone Please Welcome 

Ian Townsend







Welcome a fellow writer, blogger and Wordplayer from our Facebook group. Check out Ian’s blog over at The Town’s End Tribune .



Let the games begin






“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” -Mark Twain









* Were you born and raised in Texas?

I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Despite not living in the state since I graduated high school (minus a 9 month period when I was stationed in Corpus Christi), it is still home to me. Hopefully, in the near future I will be moving back!

Awesome, I love Texas!  



*What did you read in your early years?

When I moved past children’s books, I started out reading the things that my parents had on the bookshelves. It was mostly sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, mysteries, and horror. Some of the authors stuck with me, but I eventually branched out and found authors and stories that I liked. I read as often as I could, and I loved going to the used book stores to search for hidden or gently used treasures.

I always enjoy learning how others got started loving reading. 







*Any particular stories that had a major impact on you?

The Bazil Broketail series by Christopher Rowley is, hands down, my favorite series of all time. It wasn’t all that popular during its time, and you can’t find it anywhere except in paperback, but no other story influenced my imagination as much as that one. There is also the Fuzzy Papers by H. Beam Piper. The simplicity of the story showed me that you don’t have to beat people over the head with details to tell a great story.

It’s fascinating how certain stories resonate with certain individuals and not with others. The other mystery is how these stories seem to ignite, inspire and influence our imagination.







*Who are your favorite characters?

Bazil Broketail is #1 for me, because he is not only the namesake of my favorite series, but he is the heart and soul of everything great about the book. There would still be a good story without him, but he makes it extraordinary. Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher really got me interested in using magic in my stories. I also loved the humor and “Hard Luck Harry” feel about him. Aspar Whyte from the Kingdom of Thorn and Bone Series by Greg Keyes is a great everyman character. All he wants is to do is protect his forest and be left alone, but with the world going crazy all around him, he has to leave his comfort zone to protect people he has come to care about, and to try and help ease the madness that has gripped the world. He’s not a superhero, and he’s not your prototypical protagonist, but he will do anything to protect what he loves, and that makes him a hero in his own right.

Nice. It’s amazing how one character can make an impact on us. Now it’s our turn!




*Name your top 3-5 favorite authors.

I’ll start off with John Scalzi, who has written a lot of great sci-fi. His Star Trek spoof novel Redshirts was highly entertaining. Jim Butcher’s works influenced me to begin writing again, via his connection to Deborah Chester. When I got my hands on her writing book, I began seeking out other writing advice, and here I am now. Jim’s urban fantasy and new steampunk work are very good reads, and they are so immersive. I can always see exactly what the book is saying in my head. Then, of course, there is Christopher Rowley. I wish that he had written more of the stories in the world he created, but after the seventh book in the Broketail series, he moved to a different genre. That fantasy world is the one that I can’t help but return to for inspiration.

Inspiration is great isn’t it? Its contagious nature is powerful.



*In your opinion who are some of the top authors of the century?

To me, being a top author doesn’t have to correlate with the most successful one. Jim Butcher and John Scalzi are recognized in their fields, but they are not giants in the writing world. I still think they are top authors of the 21 st century, in my humblest of opinions. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child always put out compelling stories together in the mystery/thriller department that are far better than most of the well-known writers in the genre. There are so many more I could point out, but those four are the ones I have read most regularly over the past 16 years.

This is great. I’ve been asking different writers this question and enjoyed every answer. There’s definitely no shortage of talent among authors. 








Summary of A Mage’s Fire (working title)

When the discovery of his extraordinary magical powers puts his family in danger, Cade embarks on an improbable journey to rescue them. Silas, an outcast mage, has set a trap to lure Cade in so that he may exact revenge and gain favor and glory he so desperately seeks. Cade must learn to control the potent magic flowing through him in time to save his loved ones and himself from the vicious enemies that lurk beyond the borders of the Ferrovathi Empire.

Cool! Sounds intriguing. 




There is no friend as loyal as a book  ~Ernest Hemingway




*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

When I was younger, I did a lot of reading. I would always imagine what if scenarios associated with the books I was reading, and my imagination was always full of ideas and stories. It was never really anything substantial or interesting until I learned how to harness my ability to write in college. I was talked in to joining the school newspaper and it took off from there. What was just an imaginary world in my head began to take shape on paper. Before I learned how to properly write, I had a lot of great ideas, but no understanding in how to expand upon those premises. I would get a fantastic thought, and it would die after the initial burst of creativity. In college, I learned about “going down the rabbit hole” to see where the story led. Journalism is a different world than fiction writing, but there are many similarities that I was able to apply to my desire to pursue being a fiction novelist.

Awesome. This also seems to be the ultimate fascination. How to translate what we see in our heads into stories on the page. 







*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

I want to make a living as a fiction novelist. I want to do something with my life that I can put my heart and soul in to, and this is my brass ring. Writing is a love that I have always had, and after college, it was a pursuit that has been who I am. I had to set it aside for a long time, but now I am going after it again harder than ever before.

Go after your dreams! I’m doing the same myself.




*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

The biggest hindrance for me has been my job in the military. After college, I was working for 2 newspapers and I was also working a part time job in retail. I loved my writing jobs, but I wasn’t making ends meet. I joined the Navy to follow family military tradition and to pay the bills. This didn’t really leave me time to write. I put it on the back burner to focus on the military, and I would take stabs at it when I could. Another thing that has hindered me is myself. I doubted my abilities to actually write something worth sharing with others. You are your biggest critic, and if you tell yourself you can’t do it, you won’t. The third thing that has hindered me from being productive is creative atrophy. If you don’t work your creative muscles, they will stop working. When I would try to work on things, I would hit walls because my creativity wasn’t in shape. I would get frustrated and give up, and my creativity would atrophy even farther.

I can totally relate to this. Trying to keep the drive alive so to speak, is difficult. 



*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

When I decided to really give writing another shot, it came with the realization that I didn’t want to spend 20 years in the military. My wife has been working on her Bachelor’s degree in music performance, and we always talked about her achieving her dreams of playing viola in a big time orchestra. She had times where she wanted to quit, but I always talked her through it, and told her to never give up on her dreams. I realized that it was time for me to start focusing on what I wanted. The military wasn’t it. My sports days were long over, and I was not going back to journalism. It was time for me to really focus on being a fiction writer. So I began working on it. Right now, I am just getting my skills back in shape and doing what I can to keep it in my life on a constant basis. Being a part of my wife’s pursuit of her dream has kick-started my chase. Setting my future goals is also helping my motivation, because now I have something to shoot for.

Seeing others go after their dreams is so invigorating and encouraging.













If you can dream it

You can do it 

-Walt Disney





*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

The biggest antagonist I have is myself. I control what time I set aside to write and how much effort I put in to it. I am my own worst enemy, and the only way to beat me is to keep doing things in small doses. I have been taking my process in small increments, which has helped me space out the work. By doing this, I have been able to create a stable platform to work on and I keep myself from overloading. I also keep myself from creative starvation, because I am not doing everything all at once, and leaving nothing in the tank. You will constantly fight battles in your own head, and the only way to win is to find a way to work with yourself. (I realize I sound like someone with multiple personality disorder, but don’t all novelists suffer from this?)

I know this all to well. By the time the day is over whatever fuel writing is on fumes. 





*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

There are so many answers to this question. You could ask 100 different authors and get 100 different answers. I think the ultimate REASON is the writer. Whatever factor plays in, the writer is the common denominator. If the writer wants to get the book done, they will. If there is a will, there is a way. It can sometimes take years, but if they persevere, it will get done. If someone gives up, then ultimately, the writer is the reason that the book failed. Life is fluid and ever changing, so for a writer to completely give up on a project is for the writer to fail. I am guilty of this. I have thrown several projects in the trash, and that was a failure by myself as a writer. No idea is unsalvageable. Never give up on an idea. One day, many years later, you may finally be able to complete it, but not if you throw it out.

I believe writers are pretty resilient. You have to be in order to complete something like a novel. Thanks for sharing! 




Thanks for stopping by Ian!  Glad to have you on the Train!






No one can stop a dreamer with wings  ~ Benjamin Thomas











Benjamin Thomas



Author Interview: Discussing Comedy with Ana Spoke










Everybody please welcome



I am a self-published author and an unbridled enthusiast, moonlighting as a middle manager. I started my blog with one purpose – to finish a novel. The good news is, that after almost two years of constant writing, editing, and more editing, I have finished one. It’s a comedy, and it is now available on Amazon. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing.

The sequel to Shizzle Inc, Indiot is now AVAILABLE. Ana also blogs about the book marketing game over at . Have a look at the “book marketing” tab for lists of resources and my personal experiences testing various marketing gimmicks.



AnaSpoke face only



Fo’ shizzle


Ana is also the founder of Comedy Book Week. An awesome event with an official website, over 60 participating authors and 111 books! It should be even more epic next year! If you’d like to sign up see the link above or contact Ana.
























* What part of Australia are from? Were you born and raised there?

I live in Melbourne, Victoria, and it is currently the middle of winter here. I was born in Russia, but I’m technically Ukrainian, and I’ve lived in the US for 14 years. Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia but, arguably, the largest center for culture and arts.

Wow a world traveler! Melbourne sounds like a neat place.


*What’s Australia like?

It’s great, if you don’t mind the kangaroos, which are everywhere. Just kidding! Australia is more laid back than the US, but just like the US, it’s huge and varied in climate and local culture. In the US, I lived in Florida, so I still can’t get used to Melbourne’s crazy weather – it really can have “four seasons in one day.” Yesterday it was freezing and raining with hail (that’s the middle of winter for you), but today the sun is up and it’s warming up quickly. In summer, it’s not that unusual to have temperature drop by 20 degrees Fahrenheit in a space of an hour, when the wind changes direction and starts blowing from the Antarctica. To make me even more miserable, while I’m freezing here, I hear it’s almost 90 degrees in Darwin, Northern Territory.

One of the things I like best about Australia is its multi-cultured mix of people. In Melbourne, about 40% of residents were either born overseas or had at least one parent born outside of Australia. So, being a foreigner is not such a big deal, and I felt accepted from the very first day. Such a mix of people also means you can get any ethnic food you desire, and it would be authentic, too.

Another thing that’s different from the US is that in Australia, most people live in cities, so the rest of the country is barely populated. This means a lot of untouched, wild “bush” nature. It also means crazy property prices in the city, tiny apartments, and tiny backyards, if you are lucky enough to have one. I think most Americans would struggle with the size of an average family home here.

Sounds quite fascinating!  It’s good to experience different cultures. Thanks for sharing your experience. 




*Where did you go to school? What did you study?

I’ve gone to school on three continents! I’ve studied landscape architecture, microbiology, environmental science, and project management, and have 1.3 Ph.D.s to show for the total of 13 years of full- and part-time study. I’ve never studied literature or writing, but over the last 2 years I’ve put myself through a self-designed and managed Masters of Self-Publishing (sort of). I blame it all on a combination of curiosity, short attention span, and a life-long addiction to the endorphin rush that comes with achieving goals.

That’s quite a blend of academic studies. I do remember when you were agonizing over your debut comedy novel Shizzle Inc. in some blog posts. Now it’s out! Impressive.




* What was your career track before pursuing writing? You mentioned about being a middle manager on your blog.

Still doing that, although I am currently finishing up my five-month long service leave. I work in a government agency, managing a small group of people and putting together management strategies. Maybe that’s why I could not resist starting #ComedyBookWeek – I was missing the rush that comes from organizing something new and nurturing it to grow into something big.

That’s again very impressive. Especially since it’s something fairly new and grew so quickly. You’re hired!



* Do you have any major hobbies you enjoy?

Currently the only one, obsessive, and all-consuming hobby is writing and marketing. I’ve had others– from breeding rare fish to kiteboarding, but they tend to come and go (see the previous comment about short attention span and endorphin rush).

Ana, I have to say, you’re a very interesting individual. I’ve never heard of kiteboarding and organizing anything makes my eyes cross.



Young man with Work in progress mark over his head
My brain on organization




*What’s your genre and why? Will you branch out?

My life-long genre is humor. It’s in everything I do, so even if I ever write something different, it will be funny. Perhaps a hilarious erotica series?

I love it. Everybody needs a good laugh right? 



*Tell us about your upcoming book, the sequel to Shizzle.

Indiot follows Isa Maxwell to India, where she was supposed to help a mysterious prince win back his fortune. She also hopes to convince the prince to use his wealth to help the orphans, and maybe write a book about it. Needless to say, noting goes as planned. It’s a mad romp that goes from bad to worse, and then, just as she sighs with relief, it plunges her even deeper into trouble.

Sounds wildly entertaining! I’m finishing up Shizzle now and will press on to Indiot very shortly. 




Indiot for Kindle June 21 2016


(Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 2)


*What have you learned in your experience writing Shizzle?

I think the biggest lesson was to trust myself and to believe that somewhere in the world, there are people who would enjoy reading my books. I was so insecure about my ability to tell the story of Shizzle, Inc., that it took forever to finish it, and then even longer to get the balls to self-publish. Along the way, I just wanted someone to say, “Hey, this is not absolute garbage!” Now, thanks to my fans, I have an audience that’s eagerly awaiting Indiot’s release, and already asking about the third installment. It’s an amazing feeling, and a powerful fuel to keep going.



New Shizzle Kindle cover 21 June 2016


Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1)




*Can you tell us about your experience in self-publishing and marketing your book?

I’m strange in the sense that I now love the experience of self-publishing, and even more so –marketing. I had a lot to learn – the launch of Shizzle, Inc. was basically me saying “Thank God, it’s finished” and pressing “publish.” It took me another three months to publish a paper copy and to figure out some of the basics of book marketing. This time around, I am better prepared. The ebook and paperback are available at the same time, I have some early reviews thanks to fans willing to review ARCs, there’s paid marketing, Goodreads and Amazon giveaways, and of course, #ComedyBookWeek. Fingers crossed, all that effort will pay off. More importantly, I am learning so much, I have no doubt that the third book will be even better.





*You’re a writer; so what’s your story? What inspired you to take this journey?

I think I was meant to be a comedian – books are just one of the outlets for my never-ending clowning around. I literally can’t put a lid on it, and keep my colleagues laughing at work, and my family at home. At one point, I was even a comedy actor but, unfortunately, you have to wait for someone else to give you a role and write your material. With books and my blog, I can channel my gags straight at the audience – no middle man necessary.

I wanted to be comedian when I was a kid. I can totally relate to you on this level. 



*Now that you’re published what’s your GOAL (S)? What’s the next step?

One of them is to continue writing the Isa Maxwell escapades series – I’m not finished yet or, rather, Isa is not finished. I trust she will tell me when she’s had enough. I also want to write a new book, and have a multitude of ideas noted down – it will be a matter of choosing one. It will definitely be funny, although it will have a different “flavor.”

I’m all too intrigued to see what you come up with next. You got me on my toes.







*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

Lack of self-belief had to be the most significant one. I consider myself to be a confident person, but even so, it’s pretty scary to say to yourself, “Hey, I think I can write a whole novel, and make it worth someone’s time.” The second obstacle is time – my “regular” job is demanding, and it’s hard to be creative after a full day. And finally, lack of knowledge – with the first one, I had to study plotting, character development, and editing alongside of writing the actual novel. If anyone is writing their first book, I would highly recommend undertaking a self-designed Masters of Writing. There are so many books on writing to choose from, plus you may find local courses or online resources. And if you want Cliff Notes on self-publishing and marketing, then read my blog!

A lack of self-belief is a big one across the board for majority of writers. I can relate to the lack of time! Especially after work and kids. Writing is such an subjective process it can be overwhelming for new authors. Then the objective side of learning the monstrosity of putting together a complete novel is a large undertaking to say the least.



*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

A vision of myself as a full-time writer, plus the positive reviews on my books. I have read and re-read the reviews many times over, and each time I vividly imagine that person, laughing out loud on a train or “snorting tea everywhere.” That’s what keeps me going, especially after I get an occasional bad review. There are people out there, on the other side of the planet that have never met me, but have loved reading a story that I made up and published. It’s an amazing “head trip” for me.

YES. I’m so happy for you AND very jealous.  I’m also one of those far away peeps cracking up when everyone else is asleep.








*What’s your main ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way of you accomplishing your goals?

Some unpublished writers think getting published is the only hurdle. Currently, I’m the boss of my antagonists and demons, and ploughing away every day. Again, this is thanks to the small successes along the way – positive reviews, supporters of my blog, and sales of my books. There have been times when I’ve questioned my investment of time and money, but I got up in the morning and kept going, and the Antagonist got weaker and weaker. I don’t think I will ever be completely free of self-doubt, but I’ve learned to manage it. Marketing your book is a much bigger hurdle than publishing. I hope writers understand and embrace it – and hey, it can even be fun! I would say that unpublished writers should have reasonable expectations of sales of their first book, and then continue working every day on improving their craft, as well as packaging, marketing, positioning, platform, and all that jazz. It’s a snowball, and it takes a long time of pushing it around before you start seeing it grow.

This is great info and inside scoop for us newbies looking to get out feet wet. Thanks Ana! I’m glad you keep going despite the hurdles you had to overcome. You must be good at track I suppose?




Overcome growing obstacles. Business concept. Render.




*Why do writers give up, quit or abandon their dream?

I have not studied this enough, but I would say self-doubt coupled with negative feedback could kill any dream. I would recommend striving for smaller, intermediate goals on your way to “success,” whatever that may mean to you. That way, there are bursts of positive energy all along the way that will keep you going.

Good practical advice here. That way we don’t set up ourselves for failure. 



*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

It’s a very personal issue, and this industry is not for the faint of heart, so I would ask them what it is they really want. It may not be writing – in my case, for example, it’s the desire to make people laugh. There are other outlets for it, such as acting or stand-up. If, however, the person truly wants to be a writer, I would tell them to stop acting like a victim, get it together, make a plan, and try again. What can I say, my Russian is showing.

This is good stuff here. I like your Russian.



*What else is coming down the pike for you?

Well, #ComedyBookWeek is shaping up to be quite a celebration. It’s hard to think it was just a vague idea six weeks ago, and now it’s an event with an official website, over 60 participating authors and 90 books. Based on the level of interest I’ve been getting over the last few weeks, the next year will be huge. Another sharp learning curve for me, and another blast of endorphins. Bring it on!













Stay connected with Ana! 



Shizzle, Inc: Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1

Indiot: Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 2







I thought about a few famous quotes, but decided to live the interview with a fresh one. My nephew-in- law has written a musical called “Einstein, Master of the Universe.” One quote from the play truly resonated with me:


“Pursue a problem, and it soon becomes a prize.” It worked for Einstein, and it would work for any of us.



Keep Writing




Benjamin Thomas



Watch “A Thousand Nights Book Review!” on YouTube






Welcome to Television Tuesday














A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnson









Have you read or heard of it? Tell me in the comments!




Benjamin Thomas

Watch “The Author As A Start-Up And How To Give Books Away For Free With Damon J Courtney” on YouTube




Welcome to Television Tuesday


A must see interview with Joanna Penn & Damon J. Courtney about







So what did you learn? Tell me in the comments!



Benjamin Thomas