Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The wait is over! Book Three in the Andy Smithson series is finally here!

In Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor, Andy discovers more than he bargained for when his parents reveal his mom's past and he realizes she will die when he breaks the curse unless he intervenes.

Now twelve, Andy returns to Oomaldee to find its citizens on edge after many have been turned into vulture-people. Against this background, Andy and his company embark upon the next quest, to retrieve the horn of a unicorn. But not long into it, a seductive voice calls to Andy, tempting him to surrender the next ingredient in exchange for a promise to preserve his mom. Will he be able to stop the transformation of Oomaldee’s citizens? Will he jeopardize his ability to end the curse to save Mom?

You won’t want to miss the non-stop action, drama and thrills on this adventure that is Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor!

"Andy Smithson will take on any problem that comes his way. The scenes and dialog in this book come alive on the page. I felt Andy’s emotions and victories, and I was with him for his pain and recovery. This is an amazing adventure that I have been impatiently waiting to read since book two!" - Rena Marthaler, Rena Writes (Rena is 10) 

"Sometimes, I just let the 5 star rating speak for itself. I can add nothing more." - Wayne Walker, Home School Book Review

"A long-lasting story that is part of one of my favorite series."
- Erik Weibel, This Kid Reviews Books Blog (Erik is 13)

Available in Kindle and Paperback

Book Four: Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace (Andy Smithson series) is coming Spring 2015.

Book One

eBook 1, Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury is now FREE. Pick up a copy at Smashwords, Kobo, Google, B&N. You can also listen to the FREE podcast of Book 1 on iTunes. Book one is also available in paperback.

 Book Two

Book 2, Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent's Cunning is available in Kindle and Paperback.

L. R. W. Lee writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. L. R. W. Lee lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband, daughter and son.
Connect with L. R. W. at: 
Twitter   Website   Facebook

For more about author L. R. W. Lee: 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Charles E. Yallowitz: The IAN Interview

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he spent most of his life wandering around his imagination. One day he returned from his fantasy world and decided he would share his stories with others. Eventually his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories over and over again, so she convinced him that it was time to follow his dream of being an author. Now, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

The Independent Author Network. Please tell us about your latest book.

Charles Yallowitz. My latest book is part of my ongoing fantasy series, Legends of Windemere.  This series follows the adventures of Luke Callindor, a young warrior who is determined to be a hero like his ancestors.  He is has more courage and bravado than common sense, which puts him in the path of a Lich and its dark master.  As the series progresses, Luke makes friends with other young heroes and learns that the gods of Windemere have big plans for him.

In their most recent adventure, Family of the Tri-Rune, Luke and his allies return to the city of Hero’s Gate.  It has been plunged into chaos due to his friend, Nyx the Caster, having unleashed a forbidden spell in the city’s defense. Now they must survive thieves, goblins, and a new breed of undead born from Nyx’s magic. Ghosts from the past are waiting in Hero’s Gate, but the most dangerous thing might be the revelation that one of our heroes has been living a lie.  It all builds up to a cliffhanger ending that leads right into Legends of Windemere: The Compass Key.

IAN. Is Family of the Tri-Rune published in print, e-book or both?

C.Y. All of my books are in eBook and Paperback.

IAN. Where can we go to buy the Legends of Windemere series?

IAN. What inspired you to write the Legends of Windemere series?

C.Y. I’ve wanted to be an author since high school and I was always drawn to fantasy books.  I started designing my own world when I went to college and continued my hobby of Dungeons & Dragons.  During one of the sessions, I thought of how I could use the characters for my books and the game could act as a testing area for storylines.  Everyone agreed it would be fun to play a game that turned into a published series, so I outlined the stories as we went and let my world grow around the new concept.  I quickly learned that I couldn’t use everything and alterations had to be made between the two mediums.  The game ended around the halfway mark of the plot, which left me to work on Windemere without the pre-existing material.  I took a little bit from everywhere and nowhere to create the world, characters, and stories and it’s become very different from the original inspiration.

IAN. Do you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

C.Y. I’m a big planner when it comes to my stories.  I have notebooks filled with character bios, monster write-ups, magic items, and whatever else has come to my mind over the years.  Part of this is because for about 10 years, I could only find time to outline future stories or edit what I finished.  Any idea that came to my mind was pursued during lunch breaks.  It eventually reaches a point where I have breakdowns of ‘chapter targets’ in a traditional outline format.  All that being said, these plans tend to get drastically changed once I sit down to write the actual book.  For example, I’ve occasionally found a chapter that can be absorbed into another or I switch characters for major events because the original choice wouldn’t be involved.

IAN. Do you have a specific writing style?

C.Y. I write using present tense third-person with a lot of action and dialogue to bring out the characters.  This style limits the amount of exposition that I can do and any world history has to be explained through conversations or a prologue.  I won’t deny that writing in present tense causes some confusion because most people aren’t used to it.  The funny thing is that I honed this style by accident.  I used to mix up present and past tense all the time when I was in high school.  A teacher told me to pick one, which ended up being present tense.  Nobody ever pointed out that it was an uncommon style, so I’ve been using it ever since and now it’s where I’m most comfortable.

IAN. How did you come up with the title?

C.Y. A lot of trial and error for the series and book titles.  Calling my first book Beginning of a Hero was the easiest since it’s where Luke Callindor sets off to become a hero.  The others all went through various titles due to the focus of their stories changing.  As for the series itself, Legends of Windemere has an epic saga feel to it and reveals the scale of story.  Windemere came about when I was sitting on a lakeshore trying to think of a name for my world and the wind was really strong.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?

C.Y. I write to entertain, so I always hope that my readers come away feeling like they went on an adventure.  I’m always hoping to hear about favorite characters and scenes when someone tells me they read my book.  If someone walks away with something deeper than a joyful smile then I see that as extra.

IAN. How is Family of the Tri-Rune different from others in your genre?

C.Y. It comes down to the world and a focus on characters.  I see a lot of modern fantasy heading away from magic, monsters, and quest-based stories.  There is more interest in political tales that are closer to reality than those with elves, orcs, and magic swords.  I’m heading in the opposite direction with my books because Windemere has magic everywhere.  The best way to explain this is that most fantasy worlds have it that wizards are unique to the point where they are awed or feared.  I’ve gone in a direction where they’re rather common and treated more like tradesmen.  It’s more the level of power that gets them attention instead of simply having magic since it’s not a rare resource.  Same goes for monsters that can be found alongside mundane animals.

As for my focus on characters, I use the quest adventure as a backdrop for the interactions between heroes.  Luke Callindor, Nyx, Sari, and the others are young and will evolve as they face their hardships.  So there are scenes where they wonder what happens after their adventures are done or if they’ll even survive their destiny.  Even if they fail in their adventure, the story can continue because I have brought attention to the heroes as fluid beings that will exist after their trials.  I am seeing stories that are more about the character development than the adventure, so this might be a growing trend.

IAN. Do you see writing as a career?

C.Y. Yes.  I’ve wanted to make a career out of writing for the last 19 years.  Wow, I’m old.  This is what I love doing, so if I can make a living that allows me to forge my stories every day then I’d be very happy.

IAN. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

C.Y. I write with an ensemble cast of characters, so one of the big challenges is making sure everyone gets some ‘screen time’.  This becomes very difficult in conversations because I’m having to balance 6-7 voices at the same time.  So I need to find balances or give some characters a reason to not be involved even if they’re in the scene.

Another challenge stems from my use of present tense.  As stated, I can’t show history like other fantasy books that use blocks of exposition.  In my style, it comes off very much like a clumsy info dump.  This means I have to be precise in the historical information that I give in narration.  Another method is to have characters explain things in dialogue since it isn’t always a given that the heroes know the origin of everything they’re facing.  This does result in me having to leave some of the more whimsical facts out because they’re not relevant to the plot.

IAN. Who designed the covers?

C.Y. All covers for Legends of Windemere are done by Jason Pedersen.  He’s very talented and I’m thankful that he’s willing to help me out.

IAN. Do you have any advice for other writers?

CY. Keep on writing and always make it fun.  Never let anyone tell you that it’s a waste of time.  Just keep pushing forward and cherish even the small victories like finishing a first draft or surviving your first editing run.

IAN. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

C.Y. The biggest challenges with the latest book were consistency and continuity.  I use a lot of foreshadowing, so I have to repeatedly go back to research my previous work.  A slip of a character’s behavior or a mistake in preexisting information can snap a reader out of the story.  All of the quirks, actions scenes, descriptions, and whatever else I use to bring the book to life can be easily undone by an error in one of these two categories.  This has caused me to write slower than when I started because whenever I have a feeling that something is off, I stop to go back through the previous volumes.  Even when I don’t think I made a mistake, I’ll go back to check at the end of the day.  Better safe than sorry because many readers will pounce on every mistake.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

CY. My next book is entitled Legends of Windemere: The Compass Key.  This is the 5th book of my fantasy series and it definitely has more action than the previous volumes.  A lot of the storylines and rivalries that have been established will come to a head in this book to make way for new villains and the revelation of the heroes’ true quest.  One could say that this is where the series takes a more serious and slightly darker tone because the characters will be pushed to their physical and mental limits.

One of my favorite things about The Compass Key is that I got to create a lot of new monsters for many of the battles.  I’ve always enjoyed creature creation in fantasy, so this book allowed me to go wild with a few ideas that were previously nothing more than vague notes on a piece of paper.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Simon Duringer: The IAN Interview

Educated at Mostyn House School in Cheshire; Simon became involved in writing from an early age. At the age of 13, under duress he was torn away from playing tennis and made to enter the school writing competition which he subsequently won. But to this day he blames said competition for only making the second pair in the school tennis team!
A self-confessed geek, Simon has a passion for mathematics and thoroughly abused that knowledge from an early age by writing probabilities for those playing the school masters at pontoon (21) and poker. Not that he believes in blame culture, but it could be deduced that his success at winning sweets at cards during his formative years has contributed to his six pack transforming prematurely into a one pack! His book "How Do I Win on a Lottery?" became a number #1 amazon bestseller in its genre...
A writer of many genres, yet probably better known for interviewing other authors than for his own books, but nonetheless enjoys scribbling, ranting and making up stories that chill, thrill and entertain.

Independent Author Network. Please tell us about your latest book.
Simon Duringer. The Word – Volume 1. The book delivers 28 bespoke interviews with successful writers; from debut sensation MJ Summers to the Veteran; DuPont, Royal Academy, 5 x Emmy Award winning war correspondent and for 20 years Head of NBC News International, Martin Fletcher. Simon puts them in multiple situations from the sublime to the ridiculous. From time travel to being marooned on desert islands, each set of circumstances has been designed specifically for the individual interviewee’s circumstances and is intended to draw out their inner personalities. Simon breaks down the layers of stardom to reveal the true individuals beneath the glitz. The results are nothing short of fascinating – The interviewees never fail to entertain, whilst also; informing, sharing and creating “out of genre” responses that delight the readers. This is no ordinary set of interviews and the collective trophy cabinet of those within is dazzling! With 10% of all royalties going to the veteran’s charity, The Royal British Legion, and with even bigger names in the planned Volume 2, it is worth getting on board early!
IAN. Is The Word published in print, e-book or both?
S.D. I am a great lover of traditional books and whilst the majority of the marketplace is now eBooks, I chose to publish in both kindle and paperback versions for all my offerings. The Word is slightly different as the kindle version has illustration whilst the paperback does not, so in effect they are treated by Amazon as two separate entities, albeit not by choice. All my books are also currently available on Prime and therefore Amazon Prime members can borrow them for free.
IAN. Where can we go to buy The Word?
S.D. The links I would suggest using are those of my amazon author pages which are as follows;
My books are also available through search on other global amazon sites and via my website: http://www.simonduringer.com
IAN. Do you have a specific writing style?
S.D. I find that to be an incredibly difficult question to answer. Honestly? I don’t know… I don’t tag myself with any particular style or model my work on that of others. It would be nice to think I have my own unique style! However, rather than disappoint or not answer, I have trawled through past emails and correspondence from readers and found this email from a reader in Canada, Isabel Galloway, who sent me a wonderful message late last year whilst reading Stray Bullet. This sums up the answer way better than I could. I quote;
At the beginning it reminded me of Mark Billingham but now I realize that you are more Peter James. Have you heard of him? His novels are all in Brighton. You have the sense of him, I think. And the racy bits remind me of Micky Spillane! Haha!”
IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?
S.D. I want my readers to be astonished, surprised and delighted! I attempt to deliver a story that will challenge readers’ imagination. I want them to attempt to decipher the outcome without making it too straight forward. At the outcome I want them to smile, curse the author (in a “I want to do that again!” kind of way) and then sink in their chairs uttering the words “OMG, How the hell did I miss that!” I want to deliver plots that will dumbfound, yet, without patronizing the reader in hindsight be obvious. I want them to be motivated to come back for more. But, most of all it has to be believable, plot lines must work and I must believe my own story before I can make it available to the reader. In summary, I want the readers to be entertained and left wanting more…
IAN. How is The Word different from others in your genre?
S.D. Whilst author interviews are bountiful online, The Word is unique. Each interview takes a vast amount of research time and is not designed to cater to the whims of those with new releases to pimp out to the masses. There are plenty of those around already. The Word attempts to challenge and probe in order to discover what the author is really about. I already know my interviewees are damn good writers, they have either been major award winners, debut sensations or have a unique quality that has caught my eye and intrigued me into approaching them for an interview. I am not looking for bland content to fill my website, or books, for the likes of Google or Yahoo search engines. I am looking for individuals of a like mind. Most of my interviewees, if not all, are far more talented at wielding a quill than I will ever be, and therefore through my interviews I can learn about writing, marketing and the publishing industry, whilst at the same time having my emotions rocked to their foundations by stories that are so sad, or so witty, or simply so incredibly full of creative thought. The Word has been an eight month rollercoaster and what I have outlined above is what has drawn the likes of Bernard Cornwell to my door; The 19th Globally Bestselling author of the decade (source – Daily Telegraph). His agreement to run the gauntlet of Simon’s 10 Q Interviews tells me I must be doing something right! He will be headlining The Word Volume 2. But ultimately it is the readers who will decide the fate of The Word, they are both judge and jury. Without big publishers or marketers behind me, my current quest is simply to get The Word in front of enough readers to allow that process to take its course.
IAN. What books have influenced your life the most?
S.D. I was always fascinated by two books penned by the same author, although of course there have been many… George Orwell’s 1984 is one of those. To see his ‘predictions’, which seemed so unbelievable back along, become reality, with me playing a small part in my mainstream career as an operations and control room manager, is something that astonishes me. Where it will all end who knows, but big brother is already watching you! Additionally, another George Orwell works, Animal Farm, which I read and subsequently watched as a feature length animation whilst still at school, had a great impact on the way I look at others. It displays how, in politics, whilst people might genuinely set out on a journey to improve the lives of others; conforming to establishment traditions, compromising on one’s beliefs, human nature and greed often erode those noble principles over time. I can look back over the course of history and see that as humans we don’t learn from our mistakes and regularly revisit the errors made by past generations. It wears me out sometimes as I find it all so predictable.
IAN. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
S.D. For me this is not a difficult question. In my life time I have had two people I consider to be mentors. One of which I still regard as such, the other, who was not a writer but an incredible man, sadly passed away some years ago. Josephine Bailey, or Godmother as I refer to her, has and continues to encourage me for no distinct reason other than being a good egg! She encouraged me to get started with interviewing and has been casting an eye over my progress ever since. She is an English Rose with a dash of heretic about her and I just feel it is a shame that she and her husband Sam live so far away in the US, though I am certain we will all meet in person one day! Prior to Jo there was a man who was our neighbor when we (my family) lived in Spain during the 1980’s. Possibly the most decent man I have ever known and once again for no apparent reason he took me under his wing for a time. Perhaps being cheeky to a man that nobody else ever dared to confront was what intrigued him into helping me, but John Lampitt who owned Blue Boar, Watford Gap services, Sheffield Ski Village, was referred to as the NCP of Switzerland’s car parking industry amongst other things and if I recall correctly owned sole rights to the sales of Mazda cars within Switzerland, was a great friend and source of inspiration to me. He had started life as a sergeant within the British Army and ultimately is a man I will never forget, though he was not a writer he taught me that anything is possible and I regularly think about him and the amazing things he achieved during his lifetime.
IAN. What book are you reading now?
S.D. I actually have four books on the go at the moment, all very different and all by authors that I know personally. Each is re-opened where I left off depending upon my mood at the time, they are all very good and are as follows;
Hotey by Josephine Bailey (my mentor) – This book is fantastic and I never tire of it. Sadly, it never received the exposure it deserves, Hotey is a contemporary novel and really should be made into a feature animation. There’s a lot in there to be learned both morally and in terms of great writing from Jo, who was voted by Publishers Weekly as Best Female Narrator a few years back.
Unsigned Unscene by John Winstanley – John is an author local to me who managed bands during the last decade. It’s a fly on the wall account of that time and the interviews he carried out. It is a cult book with a few similarities to The Word and whilst John has deliberately left famous individuals out of the book it does not detract from my interest in it.
Flat Out, Flat Broke by Perry McCarthy – This is a fascinating autobiography and reached the Top 20 motor books of all time. It takes the reader through Perry’s struggles to become a Formula 1 racing driver and all that happened between, including becoming the legendary driver The Stig of BBC’s Top Gear.
Finally, I have on my bedside table Daniela by debut author Georgia Melaris. Whilst her first novel, Georgia has been involved in editing and proof reading the works of many others. It’s steamy and not my genre of choice, but whilst I am only into the first couple of chapters of this one, I have 50 shades of hope for it and for her success!
IAN. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
S.D. In a nutshell, Simon’s 10 Q Interviewees. They are all amazingly supportive and I remain in touch with the vast majority of them. They are all such fascinating and unique individuals and the wealth of knowledge and experience that they have between them is somewhat phenomenal. Learning from them and the new interviewees that come along is a key driver for me, it really keeps me motivated. Conversing with them is like bathing in a fountain of knowledge, or having the ability to delve into the cookie jar with no fear of getting your hand stuck. For me they are the cookies and there is an endless supply out there, the only reason that supply will deplete is, if and when, hopefully, in the future I become one of them, at which time I hope to offer up similar support to those around me.
IAN. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
S.D. Writing both the thriller Stray Bullet and its sequel Phoenix has been a challenge as the stories are complex, full of twists and turns to keep my readers guessing to the very end. I believe, from reading the reviews, that I have achieved this. But as I write the books sporadically and sometimes take fairly long breaks between sessions of writing, I have had to re-read the narratives from the start on many occasions so as not to contradict or compromise the story line when writing fresh chapters. This is a time consuming process but ultimately I believe worth the effort. I would also guess that I am an undiagnosed dyslexic as I am aware that my grammar and punctuation leave something to be desired but am unable to fix it. I hand my work to professional editors, but for me, this is probably akin to an uninhibited author having a manuscript translated into a completely separate language, as in both instances I and they are in the same boat, rarely able to tell the differences post edit to pre edit and can only assume and trust that the professionals have done their job correctly. In the past this reliance on others has not served me well, but again I am in a position of learning and hold enough confidence in my storylines that this is something that can and will be overcome.
IAN. Who designed the covers?
S.D. I do a lot of the conceptual design work myself, indeed I produce my own promotional videos too. For The Word I simply didn’t have the time to commit to getting it “just right” and employed the services of a young and very talented designer from the US – Michael Price. We worked on the cover for months before getting it to a stage where I, and all those involved within the content of the book, was happy with its appearance. I am very grateful to Michael for his patience with us all! The theme is likely to carry on throughout the series.
IAN. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
S.D. Yes, I love you one and all! For me, there is no greater honour than for somebody to consider paying money for something that I have created. Writing a book is a time consuming process and I, as many other authors, put my heart and soul into delivering work of a quality worthy of you the reader. Hours are spent pouring over ideas and concepts for the storylines. Unlike those prolific writers whom are able to churn out story after story, I take great pride in weaving a plot for personal and not financial gain i.e. one that will challenge the reader to use their own imagination if they are going to even get close to the outcome before it is revealed. As with interviews, there are countless shelves full of repetitive storylines, I have no wish to become a part of those formula led award winners. I commit to putting everything I have into each storyline which is possibly why my ideas take longer than most to get into print. But, bear with me, you may not find quantity but I hope you will continue to agree that you shall find quality here…
IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?
S.D. The Word - Volume 2 is already completed and will be out towards the end of the year. Stray Bullet is being re-edited and re-covered for a second edition which will be out in due course and I am still working on Phoenix, the sequel to Stray Bullet, although I have not pressured myself into a time frame for publishing that offering.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Patricia Steffy: The IAN Interview

Patricia Steffy attended Kenyon College and American University. She is a recent refugee from the corporate world where she worked as an analyst for a law firm for more than 16 years. An escape plan started to develop as she pursued her interests as a writer and producer through Circe’s World Films.

She has been involved in co-and exec-producing a number of feature and short films ranging from broad comedy to psychological drama, including the award-winning short Touch. She is currently developing Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths as a web series. The series is based on her long-running blog of the same name which can be found here:

Independent Author Network: Please tell us about your latest book.

Patricia Steffy: Over the course of two years, I conducted interviews with the fabulous women around me and their equally fantastic friends for My Letter to Fear: Essays on Life, Love and the Search for Prince Charming. I put no restrictions on age, or ethnicity. They just needed to be willing to answer some questions. I asked them about the expectations they had for their lives when they were very young versus their current realities as adults. I asked them to tell me the best things about themselves (a question which was surprisingly difficult for people to answer) and the worst things. Those answers—the sad, the ridiculous, and the hysterical—and my own experiences became the basis for these essays. 

IAN: Is My Letter to Fear published in print, e-book or both?
PS: The book is available in print and electronic formats.

IAN: Where can we go to buy
My Letter to Fear?

PS: I’m very lucky in that a number of outlets have picked up the book. Here are the most popular retailers: Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Smashwords     iTunes    Diesel

IAN: What inspired you to write the My Letter to Fear?

PS: I was at a point of serious reassessment in my life. I had just quit my job of nearly 17 years at a law firm, and for the first time in a very long time I was asking myself what I really wanted to do with my life. Mid-life crisis? Maybe. But I was definitely at a point where I knew that the road I had been on for so long was not what I wanted for the rest of my life. Part of the process involved taking a look at the differences between the expectations I had for my life when I was a teenager versus what my adult reality was. After having casual conversations with friends about it, I realized that a lot of people I knew were going through the same type of reassessment. Then I began interviewing women in a more organized fashion - friends, friends of friends, etc. about the issues they were facing (career, romance, relationships generally, abuse, aging, etc). Those interviews and my own perspective on them inspired the actual writing.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

PS: When I decided to create the collection, I relied a bit on my previously written work to give me a base. I pulled those pieces together, and completed rewrites on that first batch. In some cases the edits were minor, and other pieces were near total rewrites. Then I reviewed what I had to see where gaps existed—either emotional gaps, or experience gaps. From there I created a list of possible essays that needed to be written in order to fill those gaps, and began another round of interviews (both in person and by email) to see where those would lead me. Of course, there were also some surprises along the way—situations where I was so inspired by someone’s story that I knew a piece had to be written and added to the collection.

IAN: How long did it take to write My Letter to Fear?

PS: t took about a year to complete all the interviews and write the new pieces. However, I seem to write in creative spurts, so it wasn’t a year of straight writing. After the initial draft phase, I had about 25 pieces written (some of those were workshopped as part of a staged reading to benefit the East Los Angeles Women’s Center). Then the review process began in earnest. I continued doing interviews, and then I wrote another 35-40 pieces, most of which ended up in the final book, in about four months at the beginning of 2013.

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?

PS: I’ve been told it tends toward the “wryly observational.” I don’t know that I have a consistent style when I compare my fiction writing with this kind of collection. However, I do tend to add humor to even the most serious pieces. I’m not trying to make light of the situations, just trying to ground it and make it more relatable.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

PS: I have a friend who is a therapist, and she was telling me about a technique she was reading about where the person seeking therapy wrote a letter, as part of the therapy, addressed to her concerns (Dear Anxiety, Dear Anger, etc). And I thought that was a fascinating idea. You’ll notice that many of the pieces, though not all, are addressed either to types of people, emotions or concepts. The original title was only My Letter to Fear, but I wanted people to understand that the book also included a good deal of humor and that it was a collection of essays rather than a single story.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

PS: A friend of mine read the book early on and said it was like having a conversation with your best friend. I loved that! Not every piece is going to speak to every reader, but my goal is for people reading it to see themselves in the struggles, in the stories, or in the emotions and know that they are not alone. There’s strength in the shared experience—in both the laughter and the tears.

IAN: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

PS: All of the experiences described in the book are based on real experiences (which is unfortunate in some cases), but they aren’t all my experiences. Most of the pieces are actually reaction pieces based on interviews with other women.

IAN: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

PS: Yes! I would include a forward in the book. It’s not strictly necessary in the printed version because a breakdown of how the book came to be is included on the back cover. Alas, when you get the electronic copy, you do not get that information unless you read the synopsis. If people don’t read that synopsis, they tend to think that the stories are all mine—in actuality, very few of the stories are my own personal experiences, but rather my perspective on the stories and information gained during the interview process.  Other than that, I do wish I hadn’t waited so long to get it out in the world.

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

PS: While there is a great deal of humor in the book, there are some darker pieces. I had to be in a place mentally where I could connect with those emotions in order to write about them honestly. That was tough. It is one of the reasons that I have to write alone. I can’t really let go emotionally if I’m writing in public or in a room with other people.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

PS: My next two projects aren’t books, but I am definitely back in “create” mode. I've written the first 10 episodes of a web series called Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths. We shot a pilot presentation for sponsors, and we are on the funding trail to film the entire first season right now. That is based on my original blog of the same title (which I continue to write). And I'm in the midst of working on a film script. It’s a drama, but even with the serious subject, I’m infusing it with some humor along the way. In terms of books, I’m toying with another one, but I’m leaning towards fiction the next time out. Now that I’ve committed that to print, of course, the exact opposite will be true.

IAN: Do you have any advice for other writers?

PS: While publishing is a business, don’t be deterred if your work doesn’t fit an easy marketing category. If you have something to say, self-publish it and say it.

IAN: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

PS: Thank you for taking a chance on a new writer!