November 2015 Author of the Month: Jessie Bishop Powell

We call this site “Our Write Side” because that’s what it really is. We want you to meet and mingle, find great new reads, a new author, maybe even a guiding light. We want to pay it forward to the same writing community that has treated us with such love and support.

This is why every single month we will host one author; one outstanding writer to showcase for the whole month.

This month we honor one of our favorite writers.

Our Write Side is pleased to introduce you to the Authoress, Jessie Bishop Powell, otherwise known as the Jester Queen in blogland.

Jessie B Powell

Jessie Bishop Powell grew up in rural Ohio. She now lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband and their two children. She has Master’s Degrees in English and Library Science from the University of Kentucky.

She and her children have Asperger’s Syndrome, though their issues differ drastically from those of William and Sara. The first book in this series, The Marriage at the Rue Morgue, was published by Five Star in 2014. Her first novel, Divorce: A Love Story, was published as an e-book by Throwaway Lines.  Both titles are available on Amazon.com. You can find out more about the author and her works on her blog, Jester Queen.

Name: Jessie Bishop Powell

Latest Book Released: The Case of the Red-handed Rhesus (forthcoming November 2015)

Contact Info: jesterqueen@charter.net

Preferred Genre: Mystery, Fantasy

 

We are so honored to have you as our Author of the Month! Thank you for sharing your words with the world! Let’s talk about your latest released book.

Tell us a short blurb about the book, please?

In The Case of the Red-handed Rhesus, newlywed primatologists Noel Rue and Lance Lakeland juggle competing demands  and struggle to protect the ones they love.  At work, the orangutan lets himself out at night, a run-amok capuchin nearly wrecks the sanctuary’s annual fundraiser, and the spider monkeys use their nimble tails to steal evidence from the police. At home, the couple navigates a hasty move into town while raising three foster children, two of them on the autism spectrum.

When a decapitated body disrupts a morning feeding and a severed head tanks the most important job interview in Noel’s career, it becomes clear that time is running out. Will Noel and Lance solve the mystery or be the next ones to lose their heads … literally?

Where did your idea for the story come from?

The first novel in the series, The Marriage at the Rue Morgue, stems from my tendency to flub words. Talking Poe with my husband, I said “marriage” for “murders” and knew I had a killer title. But that was all I had. I decided to look for other contrasts, which is how the only certain fact in the first book was that the killer was not an orangutan. The series grew from there.

How long did it take you to write it?

The first draft? Around six weeks. The revisions? Ugh. I had the wrong killer. I had to revise the whole thing when I realized I had pinned the crime on the wrong guy. It took me the whole summer.

How did you come up with the title?

Because The Marriage at the Rue Morgue was a play on a mystery title, this book is also a title play. All of those Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew books have similar sounding names. The Case of the Mystery of Something Semi-deceptive. For instance, while the Nancy Drew title The Secret of The Old Clock does indeed feature crucial evidence hidden inside a clock, and Nancy spends the whole story looking for said timepiece, it only shows up towards the end. And it’s what’s hidden inside that really matters. So The Case of the Red-handed Rhesus features a nonexistent variety of macaque in the title, and the reason the monkeys are crucial to the story only becomes clear once the whole plot unfolds.

DSC_0297What is your favorite line from the book?

It’s not really a single line. I loved creating the younger children’s language. They are twins and are both autistic, but they don’t resemble each other in any way. The boy, Will, is quieter, and he has a receptive language delay that’s key to the mystery. (More about that below.) He calls garden squash “lemon-nanners” and cameras “cheese-lights”, for instance. And the girl, Sara, is an absolute chatterbox who subverts language to meet her own needs. Among other things,  she can’t recite ordinal numbers correctly, so she says “firth” instead of “first”.

Noel and Lance find themselves sucked into the twins’ vocabularies.  Towards the end of the book, Noel is exhausted and trying to figure something out,  but she thinks “firth”, then wonders “Firth? Were my ordinals devolving into lemon-nanners?”….only to realize later  “Yes, lemon-nanners and cheese-lights”.

I like it because it makes no sense outside of the story’s context, but it explains Noel’s state of mind at that moment perfectly.

There’s a lot of talk in the writing community about “writing what you know.” Does that apply to this book?

It’s advice given backwards. Writing only what you already know is pointless. Far more useful is “Know what you write”.  An author may have no subject knowledge and still compose well on the topic. But a good author comes back and fact checks. Whether I have foreknowledge or not, I put a lot of research into my work. I have Master’s degrees in English and Library Science. I can research like a demon.

I know a little about autism, but I know nothing of police work, monkeys, or foster care, three of my main themes.

I run everything “cop” by Chief Deputy John Schadle, a detective with the Adams County, Ohio police department. I check all ideas “sanctuary” with Melanie Bond, a volunteer with The Center for Great Apes, whose expertise spans many years of primate care. She has been a godsend because she isn’t just an ape expert, she’s also an amazing writer and editor. She’s read my drafts and given sublime critique. She’s also introduced me to other experts, like Robert Ingersoll, a primate activist who answered my six million questions about rhesus macaques.

In this second novel, I feature children in the foster care system, and I had to research that, too. I read books and talked to foster families, social workers, and degreed experts like Lisa Harvey, who used to run Trifecta. I did take creative liberties with the system, but not huge ones.

I also needed to research autism. Though my kids and I have Asperger’s, one of my primary goals was to portray the ways that autism can manifest itself so differently in even closely related people. The little boy, Will, has what’s called a receptive language delay. That means he struggles to understand others’ language. My friend Dawn Beronilla shared her son Xander’s adventures with that condition to help me get a feel for Will’s voice. I made up most of Will’s words, but one of them, “cheese-light” is an irresistible Xander original.

Finally, I have no expertise whatsoever with poems. In fact, my poetry is rather awful. But one of the characters is a poet. The one poem in the book is by my friend K. Donovan

How did you find “your voice?”

I checked under the sofa. It’s where my kids chuck everything.

In all honesty, though, I’m still looking. I find that each story I tell has its own voice, and that I have to bend to its needs. There’s a fine line between a writing tell, a repeated mistake that gives a writer away, and a writing voice, a collection of unique characteristics that define a writer.

Do you stick to one genre or do you dabble in others, too?

No, I write whatever comes to mind. My first novel was an e-book published by a micropress called Throwaway Lines. It’s about a woman who is her rock-star father’s road manager and is best described as women’s or literary fiction. I’ve also written several fantasy short stories, and I’ve got a full draft for a fantasy novel that needs more editing.

DSC_0334What are you currently working on?

Right now, I’m finishing the third title in this series, The Mysterious Affair of the Spider Monkey, editing that fantasy novel (currently called The Thief’s Bargain), and trying to actually get my shit together to finish a blog entry.

Which manuscript did you have the most fun working on?

At what stage? There’s a Facebook meme about the various points of writing a novel, and I go through all of them. It seems like whichever one I’m currently working on is the one I like least, but as soon as I switch to another, I want to be back with that first one again.

What is your best one sentence advice to other writers?

Your gut matters more than the experts will lead you to believe.

Let’s talk about you, the author, now. What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I teach college English online. (I’d rather not say where, as I try to keep my two personas separate). I chase my kids. Our whole family has been taking taekwondo classes and loving them.

If you had to sum your life up in 3 words, what would they be?

Really fucking weird.

What motivates you?

I wish I knew. I’m not very goal oriented, though people perceive me this way, and I’m much more of a “shiny object” person who leaps from one fascinating amusement to the next.

Tell us about your favorite cause.

Autism awareness, in particular, the autism self-advocacy movement.

Identify your superpower.

A complete inability to think like others.

What’s your favorite ….

Quote:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 
Hamlet (1.5.167-8)

Book:

Sorry, too many to choose only one. I have read The Lord of the Rings more than any other books I own, though.

Movie:

Star Wars, the real Trilogy, or The Princess Bride

DSC_0328Song:

Like the books, too many to choose between. I enjoy everything but new country and hip-hop. I’ll always blare Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Holst’s The planets (especially Mars, The Bringer of War right now!), Lola by the Kinks, Ramblin Man by the Allman Brothers, and Amie by Pure Prairie League. I also turn up the volume for just about anything by Queen, Annie Lennox, The Ramones, They Might Be Giants, The Black Crowes, The Black Keys … at the moment I’m into The Head and the Heart, Houndsmouth, George Ezra, Hozier, Chvrches …. you see why this one is a lot harder for me to pin down? Rock and symphonic are my favorites. Let’s leave it there.

Food:

Here my true nature appears. Ribeye steak, rare to medium rare

Are you coffee or tea?

Coke Zero

And lastly, what is the one thing you wish people who DON’T write would understand about writing?

That a novel is worth a hell of a lot more than a cup of Starbucks, and it will last you longer.

Thank you for answering our questions.

 

To find out more about this fabulous writer, please follow her social media and author pages below. 

Facebook  |  Amazon | Personal Blog | Twitter

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October 2015 Author of the Month: Elizabeth Yon

We call this site “Our Write Side” because that’s what it really is. We want you to meet and mingle, find great new reads, a new author, maybe even a guiding light. We want to pay it forward to the same writing community that has treated us with such love and support.

This is why every single month we will host one author; one outstanding writer to showcase for the whole month.

This month we would be remiss if we did not honor one of our favorite dark fiction writers. It is the month of Halloween, after all.

Our Write Side is pleased to introduce you to the Authoress, Elizabeth Yon.

Elizabeth Yon

Elizabeth Yon lives in rural Bedford County, Pennsylvania. She is the author of two story collections: Wilderness, A Collection of Dark Tales; and Blackfern Girls. Her short stories have been published in the anthologies Precipice, Vols. II and III; Echoes in Darkness; and the Bannerwing Books showcase Open Studio. More of her dark fiction can be found on her WordPress blog, The Palace of Night.

Name: Elizabeth Yon

Latest Book Released: Blackfern Girls

Contact Info: elizayon1@yahoo.com

Preferred Genre: horror

 

We are so honored to have you as our Author of the Month! Thank you for sharing your words with the world! Let’s talk about your latest released book. Tell us a short blurb about the book, please? Blackfern Girls is a collection of four paranormal stories linked by setting and by the exploration of girlhood in that setting. These are coming of age tales, and like most tales of that sort, they are adventures – but adventures shadowed by the haunted Johns Woods in eerie Blackfern County.

image1 (3)Where did your idea for the story come from? The stories began as a combination of bits of my own girlhood, the beauty and mystery of the Pennsylvania countryside that somehow gets in your blood, and my love of everything creepy. With that as a base, they just took off.

How long did it take you to write it? Roughly a year. I didn’t work on it exclusively, and I picked it up in fits and starts for a while until it began to really become cohesive.

How did you come up with the title? I wanted to model my setting on rural Pennsylvania, but I didn’t want to use a real county. I wanted to make a sort of composite of different places I’ve lived in the state. So, Blackfern County was born, and it seemed right to title the book after it. Each story tells the tale of girlhood struggles, so the title became Blackfern Girls.

What is your favorite line from the book? That’s a hard question. I think it’s the first line of the story, The Skeptic. They are going to wreck Sparrowgate. That line came to me in the narrator’s voice so clearly that the rest of the story just tumbled onto the page with very little effort. Sometimes, when I’m lucky, it happens that way.

image1 (2)There’s a lot of talk in the writing community about “writing what you know.” Does that apply to this book? It definitely applies. I mined my memories and experiences for my characters and my setting. Blackfern County is significant enough in the stories that it really becomes a character in its own right. This is the soil of my upbringing, rich and dark, the way I saw it as an imaginative and lonely girl.

How did you find “your voice?” I think I stumbled over it. When I first began writing, I experimented with different voices, trying them on the way you might try on hats. Was it comfortable? Did it sound authentic? I wanted to emulate my favorite authors, but I always missed the mark. The key, of course, wasn’t to “put on” a voice, but to develop one. Then, one day, it was just there. I realized I’d been using it unconsciously, naturally, and with ease – for better or worse, I’d found it.

Do you stick to one genre or do you dabble in others, too? I’ve been pretty faithful to what I term “dark fiction”, a hybridization of paranormal/horror/fairy tale/fantasy. I have trouble categorizing my work, and I don’t like the idea that a label can become like a skin – something you can’t get out of. I’d like to experiment with other genres, or more likely, graft them onto my dark sensibility.

What are you currently working on? I have several short stories on the table, and I’ve begun roughing out a novel that I’m finding rather exciting. Another story collection is taking shape.

Which manuscript did you have the most fun working on? In Blackfern Girls, the story Local Honey is really a novella. I didn’t intend for it to reach such volume, but as I followed the thread of it, it grew and grew. Beta readers would come back with more questions about what happened to the characters, and it was fun to see them excited about the story. I enjoyed building that big one.

image1 (4)What is your best one sentence advice to other writers? Read everything you can, no matter what the genre, fiction or non, classics and new releases.

Let’s talk about you, the author, now. What do you do when you aren’t writing? I read, of course! I hike, kayak, and garden. I do a bit of sewing, and I always have a variety of art projects lying about.

If you had to sum your life up in 3 words, what would they be? Deep, quiet, anticipatory.

What motivates you? As a writer, the idea of readers. Just the idea of them out there, waiting for the tale I can tell them. As a person, the satisfaction of making things. Creative expression becomes a compulsion. Sometimes it’s an agony, and it’s always a joy.

Tell us about your favorite cause. I don’t really have a cause. The things that are deeply important to me have to do with respecting and communing with the natural world, with building empathy between myself and other living beings, human or not. Compassion is important to me, and community, and I try to combine those two things whenever I can. I try to be available when I’m needed.

Identify your superpower. Invisibility. It really comes in handy when I’m eavesdropping!

What’s your favorite quote? Book? Movie? Song? Food? I don’t have a favorite quote, I have hundreds! My favorite keeps changing. Favorite book might be Dracula. Again, there are so very many. My favorite movie is Jaws. Isn’t that a hoot? I watch it every time it’s on TV, and I have it on DVD, too. Favorite song, Gloomy Sunday. A lot of artists have done it in grand style. I love Billie Holiday’s rendition, but my favorite might be Sarah Brightman. Favorite food, Mac and cheese, the baked homemade kind with the crusty cheese topping. Mmm, comfort food!

image1 (1)Are you coffee or tea? Coffee with lots of sugar, cream, and a dash of cinnamon.

And lastly, what is the one thing you wish people who DON’T write would understand about writing? That it takes a great deal of time for which the writer may never be paid (in monetary terms); time to think about it, to research, to write, to edit and rewrite, to dream – and none of that is wasted time.

Thank you for answering our questions.

To find out more about this fabulous writer, please follow her social media and author pages below. 

Goodreads  |  Amazon | WordPress | Personal Blog

Ten Questions

Trifecta has a new challenge out. It is to answer the 10 questions they’ve posted. I’ve only been interviewed once, so this was extra fun for me!

Welcome to My Write Side. I hope you enjoy your visit.

You’ll find this in that handy little “About Me” Tab up top there:

SAM is a 40 something aspiring author with a trunk full of tricks thanks to a checkered past. She haunts tropical islands in her dreams while living the reality of a Central East Coast existence as a mom, a wife, a coach, a teacher, a maid, a chauffeur, a woman, and a survivor. She’s finally found her niche in horror/thriller writing though she enjoys the challenge of writing stories from all genres. She is particularly fond of fantasy, the supernatural, and thrillers. She finds the inspiration for her writing in her dreams and in enjoying the life surrounding her. She writes because it’s in her blood.

She’s successfully completed NaNoWriMo two years in a row. She has completed one novel (unpublished) and has three works in progress. She has won 3rd place in a short story contest and has three short stories (Season of Change, Gloria, and No Returns) published on Short n Scary Stories.

And, here’s more:

  1. What is your name (real or otherwise)? 

My moniker is SAM, derived from my natural full name only safely contained within the initials.

  1. Describe your writing style in three words. 

Chilling, emotional, deadly

  1. How long have you been writing online? 

I wrote my first online short story, titled The Heat Is On, on July 23, 2010. Boy has my writing come a long way since then. I started blogging February 21,2010.

  1. Which, if any, other writing challenges do you participate in? 

Where do I begin? I also participate in Story Dam’s monthly and weekly challenges, Write on Edge’s weekly prompts, Indie Ink Writing Challenge, 3 Word Wednesday, and I Am a Storyteller. I have also participated in the Light and the Lightning Bug‘s challenge, Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop, 100 Word Challenge, and I lead the Writer’s Workshop at the Bloggy Moms site.

  1. Describe one way in which you could improve your writing. 

I really need to work on not wasting words when I write. I tend to go off in details rather than letting my reader use their imaginations to take them there.

  1. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given? 

Just write, even when you don’t feel like it. Just sit down and write. Even if it’s rubbish.

  1. Who is your favorite author? 

Why must I pick just one? I pick 3: Stephen King, James Patterson, and Kristin Hannah.

  1. How do you make time to write?

If I don’t have it in my head, I really can’t just write. I am too easily distracted, so I tend to choose the late night hours or the early mornings or whenever my children are not home. I can only imagine how much writing would get done if there were no distractions at all.

That didn’t really answer the question did it?

  1. Give us one word we should consider using as a prompt. 

Risable: (riz’-uh-bull) n. 1: causing or capable of causing laughter; laughable; comical. 2: having the ability to, or disposition to laugh. 3: of or relating to laugher or used in laughing (e.g. ‘risible muscles’). [From Late Latin risibilis “laughable, able to laugh,” from Latin risus, past participle. of ridere “to laugh.”]

  1. Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn’t miss reading.

You realize that asking a writer to choose a story is like asking a mother to pick a favorite child, right? How do you pick just one?

This one is much more recent, but I do remember that certain feeling of pride after I completed it, so it’s probably my favorite of late: Home Again.

You can find every short story I’ve written (solo pieces) under The Writings.

Pull up a chair, browse the shelves, and stay for awhile.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I know you have more questions, so please, feel free to fill my comments with questions of your own. I would love to write a more detailed one and post it at the beginning of February for you.

 

Wikipedia: blog definition: a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.

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