Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Interview with Jared Gullage

Jared Gullage was born and raised in Opelika, Alabama. Though at first a slow learner in reading and writing, once he began to do so, I grew to love it. His father always told him that to be a great writer, a person must learn to form pictures with words. Since him brother was the better cartoonist and
visual artist, he worked at creating stories. Role-playing and an excellent education in English throughout high school honed his skills further.

Attending Auburn University, he majored in English. Throughout his life, creative writing and anything that makes it better, easier, or more worthy, has been that which appeals to him most. Often, to understand this world, he took his knowledge to imaginary ones to toy with. He's jokingly told his students that writing is his default setting and what he'd do if he had to decide on one thing to do forever. Writing is much less a thing he does, but a place and time, a brief leap from the boundaries of the mundane.

Jared's book Drinna is available on the eTreasures Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Jared, when and why did you begin writing?

This has almost always been something I've loved doing since I learned how to write. My father always encouraged me to write, and consistently reminded me of the power of words. He told me that writers "create pictures with words," and after I began to write, I learned that I could create my own worlds and people and things that happen. For some reason, I've always felt most confident about my ability to tell stories and toy with ideas. My worlds are my little, mental libraries and laboratories--my refuge to retreat a while from the world to come back refreshed.

Tell us your latest news?

I am, so far as I know, getting yet another story published for eTreasures Publishing. However, things have been kind of slow to get started, both for me and ETP. As for me, I've been swamped at school, but readers be on the look out for The Cagulant, a horror story. Also, Drinna will hopefully be getting a second edition. I'm still waiting to work out the details of this, but I'm looking forward to sort of reawakening her and the characters she interacts with. With any luck and blessings, I may also be able to work on the sequels and/or other works taking place in the world of Trithofar.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Third grade, I began stories that went over a page. I remember sitting down at the living room table with my mother and inventing names for a dragon. We named it something like "Gargantua" after looking up that word in a thesaurus. Simultaneously, I was introduced to the amazing experience of entering into worlds of my own design while also learning to look up words in books like the Thesaurus and the Dictionary. After that, I convinced my mother to buy me my own copy of a thesaurus and dictionary, and learned the smell of those fresh books. That lured me in. More and more, I became addicted to looking things up, learning facts about this world I could weave into my own. Of course, becoming published has helped me become professional.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I experiment with different styles. I am particularly partial to Imagism, and the works of Faulkner, T.S. Eliot, and Fitzgerald. However, I like to experiment with different techniques. I think my style is a bit on the dark side, and I would like to incorporate a bit more humor than I have into it.

How did you come up with the title?

For Drinna, I honestly just picked a name that sounded reasonable for the type of character she is, as well as the culture from which she comes. It's a non-assuming, non-elaborate name for a simple, plain girl who learns to stand up for herself in the face of a difficult time in her life and against nearly impossible odds.

The Cagulant, by contrast, I was very intentional about naming. Suffice it to say, the word comes from the word Coagulate, which has something to do with what a Cagulant does in the fiction. Frankly, I think of these monsters as some of the most insidious and awful creatures that can exist in Trithofar.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Often, my books have messages. I am a believer, and so many times, I experiment with the implications of my beliefs, not only espousing my faith in a life ever after and the god that provides it, but also challenging my beliefs and wondering "what if" about some of the things I take for granted or think I take for granted in my life. I challenge my readers, too, or would like to wherever possible, to truly consider what makes a person's life the way it is, or what drives a person's decisions in life. I strive, also, to see things from perspectives different than my own, through people different than myself.

With Drinna, one of the major themes I worked with though, was learning to control one's own anger and learning to truly look at something before acting on it. This could also be true of The Cagulant, in that it also teaches that simply following emotions is risky and dangerous. We must learn to temper our emotions with self control, but sometimes that can be troubling as well.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Challenging to do? Or challenging for the reader? For me, I try to challenge myself by making more and more believable characters and situations in fantasy where the choices and situations for my worlds make a sort of sense. I am sort of a fantasy realist, in that way, trying to make characters that would do what a person might really seek to do, given the choices my worlds provide. Another challenging aspect of my writing is to try and make characters that humans may sympathize with, but who are not necessarily human. For example, Drinna is a kunjel, and because she is, she has issues to contend with that are different than what a human girl of a comparable age would have, but her struggles are also very human, too, and many of the themes of the novel are things a human can learn to contend with as well.

I also challenge, perhaps, the sensibilities of readers of fantasy. Whereas I appreciate such works as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, and where I just got through rereading the Chronicles of Prydain series by Alexander, I find many works of fantasy that use Christian imagery, symbolism, or allegory to be a bit more heavy-handed. Probably, this is because they were the first of their kind; other books that claim to be Christian fantasy--that I've read--have read like morality tracts or as rather...weak...for fear of offending their readership with magic and dragons. However, after realizing that Rowling's Harry Potter could be taken as Christian allegory in much of its symbolism, or simply enjoyed for the adventure it is, I want to do that. I want readers to find what they want in my writing, so while I am a believer, I don't want to beat people over the head with symbolism and allegory.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Finding time to do it. That seems to be getting harder and harder to do. Daughters and career have made it more and more difficult to find time for creativity. What's continuing to be the most difficult part of being a writer is promotion. I HATE to advertise my books, even though I believe in them. I don't like to brag. I don't like to push myself off on people. I want people to read my stuff because they think it is good, not because I've pestered them. I hate advertisements, unless they are funny, and don't want to be annoying to other people.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Largely, this has been addressed above. However, in addition to that, I will say I started playing outside with friends at an early age, and being left to have fun on my own. Picking up sticks and stones, and negotiating imaginary perils, I learned how to role-play with some other friends in early high school and got addicted, I will admit. Now, I was building maps and people groups and doing all manner of fun things on paper. This only propelled me further towards being a writer.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned humility. Looking back on my writing, I realize how much I want to change it, update it. I also learned that I can complete novels and sell them, and I am not as bad a writer as once I thought. But...mainly humility, much needed as it is.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Show, don't tell. Up the stakes. Just keep trying. For everyone who writes, there are those who read.

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

Thank you. Thank you, anyone who reads my works and finds some nugget of truth or entertainment in it.

What inspired you to write your first book?

The ability to dream. The desire to see myself published.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Not at this particular time. However, eTreasures, if you'd like, you certainly can find an interesting passage for me and put it in here. Actually, to be honest, I would be far more honored by that, than me doing it myself. Jokingly, I made the remarks about my pride above, but truthfully, I am a little shy and do not relish tooting my own horn. Probably not good with relish anyway.

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

My work is based on anything I can find that interests me. Stephen King, I believe, said "Write what you know," and I hold to that a lot. No, I've never met monsters, nor has my life ever been put in serious jeopardy like my characters, but many of the details or character traits are based on people I may have met, or things I may have learned.
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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Interview with Joy Brooks About her Beginnings as an Author

Every writer wonders how to go from the pages of their notebook to a published book. Today, Joy Brooks joins us to tell a little about her experience starting out and what she is working on now. Joy is an amazing author who has five books published with eTreasures and more to come. Check out her website for all of her latest news and tidbits, or visit her Amazon page to purchase of of her books. Let's give a warm hello to Joy!

eTreasures: When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing one April morning. I think it was around 2009. I can remember the month because I woke up and decided I was going to finally follow my dream. I had nothing to hold me back. The urge to write has been with me for as long as I can remember. Being an avid reader, I soon discovered I wanted to tell stories too. I have a vivid imagination, and I felt a drive to put words to paper. Also, I have a tendency to immerse myself in my stories. Once I wrote all day and through the night. I hadn’t realized what I had done until the sun came up.

eTreasures: What inspired you to write your first book?

During school I always loved history. My son got me into fantasy. I used to read to him at night and on winter days. So, I put my two loves together. My love of reading inspired me to write my first book. I think you have to have a love of reading to have a desire to write. Writing allows you a chance to step into another life. It is a chance to put your thoughts and feelings into words and actions. Writing is a gift that brings out the artistry within us.

eTreasures: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer when my first book was accepted for publishing. When I looked at the contract, it made the idea of writing a reality. I had done it. My dream had been realized. The desire to write grew even stronger within me, and I haven’t stopped, nor will I. Along with every other writer out there, I want my name to be a household word. Royalties are nice, but to have that much publicity connected to my name will mean my books are sought after, and I have been accepted by the public as a good writer. It’s not only enough for me to write, I want others to enjoy my work.

eTreasures: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Yes, I find it hard sometimes to keep up with my imagination. I might start out with one idea and before my fingers finish typing, the whole scene has changed. As I mentioned earlier, I have an active imagination, so most of the time, I like the changes better. I also struggle with finding new feats to bestow on the hero or to find original challenges. You don’t want to find a sword fight with the villain in ever book you read. Your hero must vanquish the villain in a different manner than the status quo. If you want to use a sword fight, yes, it’s fine. It just might need a touch up to make it a little different.

eTreasures: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned perseverance. When writing a trilogy, you’re writing a lot. After all, you are dealing with three books. You have to remember every aspect of the each book because you don’t want any errors. The traits the hero has in the first book, he needs in last. Everything must be consistent. I have one gift I’m very grateful for. Since I get so caught up in my books, it’s easy for me to remember characters, actions, descriptions, and names which helps me to keep the writing connected. Another thing, I love editing. I’ve learned a lot through the editing process. It has helped my books get better and better.

eTreasures: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes, don’t give up. Writing is hard work. It’s not something that will make you rich quick. It takes time for your name to get out to the public. Of course, there are exceptions. However, you don’t need to get into this business thinking you won’t have to work hard. Success is not guaranteed. You have to work for it. But, if you have a desire for writing, you will stay the course no matter what comes at you. The truth of the matter is writing is worth every minute of your time.

eTreasures: What is your latest news?

My latest writing news is the second book in my ‘King’s Trilogy’ is on schedule to be released in November. I’m real excited about this venture. Of all the books I’ve written, this trilogy is my favorite. I think it’s because I can relate to my main character, Rayden. The hardship he faces is reminiscence of my life. I put a lot of myself in my writing, and I think it is very therapeutic for me. In my personal life, I and three of my friends are going on a train ride through the Rocky Mountains. I can mark this off my bucket list.
eTreasures: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Yes, I can. I’m working on the third book of my trilogy, ‘King’. I’m making changes to this book that I made in the first and second books. Through the editing process things have been added to and some deleted. These changes need to be reflected in the third book. The story comes to an end. Rayden preservers and he finally gets the life he fought so hard to obtain. His struggles, for now, are over.post signature

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Characters We Love To Hate by Barri Bryan

I once thought villains were skinny men with bowed legs, wearing cowboy boots and black ten-gallon hats. They smirked and twirled their handle-bar mustaches as they devised plans to defeat my cowboy movie heroes. Time and experience broadened my perspective. Villains come in all shapes and sizes, and are found among both sexes. This article takes a cursory look at some daring and dastardly female villains.

Euripides' play Medea hops immediately to my mind. Media marries Jason of The Golden Fleece fame. Later he puts her aside and marries Glauke, daughter of King Creon. Medea has her bloody revenge. She murders Glauke and Creon, kills the children that belong to her and Jason, and makes a hasty retreat in a chariot pulled by dragons, taking her dead children with her.

Lady Macbeth is a malevolent presence in Shakespeare's play Macbeth. She is ambitious, single-minded, and ruthless in her pursuit of power. After the death of Duncan, she loses her sanity and ultimately, her life. Her treachery and underhanded scheming trigger one of Shakespeare's more famous soliloquies that begins, she should have died hereafter.

Witches make fascinating villains. The Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, has one eye and one driving purpose, to take from Dorothy the magical silver slippers. I know, in the movie the slippers are ruby. In Baum's book, published in 1900, the slippers are silver. Dorothy finally melts the witch by dousing her with a bucket of water.

Jadis, the White Witch who appears in C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, has no conscience. She is egotistical and narcissistic. Despite her white skin and great height, she has a small spirit and a heart as black as sin. Her subjects finally rebel and banish her forever.

Queens can be the vilest of villains. The queen in Grimm's fairy tale titled Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs is also the quintessential wicked stepmother. When her magic mirror tells her that she is no longer 'the fairest in the land' because that title now belongs to Snow White, she orders a hunter to take Snow White into the deep forest and kill her. The hunter returns leaving Snow White alone in the forest. The seven dwarfs find and rescue her. The queen locates Snow White. Disguised as a peddler, she gives Snow White a poisoned apple that puts her in a state of suspended animation. Later Prince Charming's first kiss awakens her. At the wedding of Snow White to her prince, the queen is forced to step into a pair of blazing hot iron shoes and dance until she drops dead.

The Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carol's Alice in Wonderland is a delightful villain and quite a card –pun intended. She is quick to decree death sentences to her subjects for the slightest offence by shouting, "Off with their heads." Her relatively restrained husband rescinds the sentences as fast as the queen declares them. This queen is no real threat since she never gets around to executing anyone.

Caroline Bingley is a character in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. She is an attractive and rich young woman who is also a total snob. Her family gained its riches through trade. Caroline desires to become a member of the aristocracy. She sets her sights on Mr. Darcy. Like all villains, she pursues her agenda with persistence and resolve. Her atrocious treatment of Jane and Elizabeth qualifies her as a first-class female villain.

Phillis Nirdlinger is the female villain in James M. Cain's Double Indemnity. She is a complex and mesmerizing woman. She is not beautiful. She is on the back side of thirty. She has a 'washed-out' look. Despite all this, she intrigues Walter Neff, insurance salesman. He recognizes almost immediately that she wants to kill her husband. She soon has him involved in a plot to literally throw her husband from the train. The scheme succeeds but leaves Walter a wounded and wanted murderer.

Mrs. Danvers is the housekeeper female villain in Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca. From the moment she comes on the scene, the reader recognizes her as vicious and mysterious. The heroine of the story is the recent bride and second wife of rich and handsome Maxim de Winter. Rebecca, now deceased, was his first wife. Maxim takes his new wife to live at Manderley, his Cornish family home by the sea. It is also, where less a year ago, Rebecca mysteriously disappeared. The second Mrs.de Winter finally conquers her fear of the conniving Mrs. Danvers, but no before the housekeeper has robbed her of much of her self-assurance and almost persuaded her to commit suicide.

Eight-year-old Rhoda Penmark is a charming, well-behaved, polite child. She is also a serial killer. In his novel The Bad Seed William March creates perhaps the most terrifying of villains, a child who is seemingly sweet and innocent. After a series of deaths of people Rhoda dislikes, her mother Christine, becomes suspicious. Christine then discovers that she is adopted and her birth mother is a sociopathic murderer. She is devastated and guilt-ridden. All this is her fault. She has passed along a bad seed to her child. She gives Rhoda an overdose of sleeping pills and then puts a bullet through her own brain. A neighbor hears the shot and rushes over in time to rescue Rhoda. "Thank God we saved the child."

Do you have a favorite female villain? If you do, leave a message and tell me who it is and why you chose that particular villain.

Barri Bryan is an author and poet with poetry collections published through eTreasures and novels published through Desert Breeze Publishing. Check out her website to learn more.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Excerpt from A Ghost Hunt by Jack Horne

A Ghost Hunt
eBook $3.99
Fantasy, Thriller, Paranormal, Occult
Available on:
eTreasures Store

Jack Horne is educated to double A-level standard in Information Technology (RSA Diploma) and currently works for the local theatre in Plymouth, England.

A number of his poems, short stories and articles have been published in magazines, anthologies and webzines, and broadcast on radio programs. He has also had some competition success. Horror is his favorite genre.

Jack Horne has collaborated with two friends to publish a collection of poetry: Shades of Darkness and Light, also available from eTreasures Publishing.

In a rush to get to the library, I phoned Raquel on the way. “There’s so much to tell you, love,” I said. “Fancy helping me research at the library?”
“The library? Hardly exciting, is it?” she snapped. “You do that on your own and you can tell me about it, if you like, over dinner in a decent restaurant.”
Suzy would have gladly helped, I thought as I put the phone down. Suzy would happily go anywhere with me.
The library was a grandiose Victorian building, a stone carving of Sir Francis Drake’s ship over its doorway. I admired the stained glass windows as I made my way up two flights of steps, and, panting slightly, smiled at the librarian. “Have you got any press cuttings about a hanging? I think it was in this month, about fifty years ago.”
“A public execution?” she asked, her gentle voice surprising from a woman of such size and with such a ferocious expression. “Or a suicide?”
I followed her to a huge wooden cabinet and watched as she selected a drawer. “What was the man’s name again?”
“Joseph Pearson,” I said, hardly daring to breathe as she thumbed through the index cards.
She nodded towards a card. “Here’s your man.”
“You have all the newspaper reports on microfiche?”
She nodded, removing the card and closing the drawer. “It says here where to find them. Lucky for you, they’re all on the same reel. I’ll get it for you.”
Thanking her, I suddenly had an idea. “Would it be possible to check a suicide that probably happened fifty years before that?”
“You’re not interested in this one now?” she asked, her mouth a scowl.
“Yes, but I think an actor, a Patrick O’Toole, was found hanged at the theatre about fifty years earlier.”

She studied me curiously. “Are you writing a book on suicides?” she asked, her smile transforming her face. She selected another drawer of the cabinet and flicked through the cards. “That’s strange,” she said with a slight frown. “It happened exactly fifty years to the day before the Pearson hanging.”
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Perfect Hot Spiced Apple Cider

Who doesn't like a warm apple cider on a chilly fall day? It's perfect for when you just want to sit
outside with the beautifully colored leaves and enjoy a good book. There are many shops where you can get spiced cider, and often just warming up some chilled cider from the grocery store will do in a pinch, but really good hot spiced cider takes a little more preparation.


  • Either 1 stick or 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 2 quart jug of apple cider
  • Optional:
    • Whole cloves- 1 tsp
    • 1 Orange peel
    • 2 tbsp Caramel sauce
In a saucepan combine all of the ingredients except the caramel. Slowly bring the cider to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Select a heat resistant pitcher, or a carafe, and place a strainer over the opening. Pour your cider through the strainer and into the pitcher. If you decided to add a little sweetness to your cider with caramel, you should now pour it into the cider and stir vigorously until the caramel is thoroughly mixed. Pour the cider into your favorite mug and enjoy!

While you drink, don't forget to grab your favorite eTreasures book to read while you appreciate the beauty of fall.

Image courtesy of Naito8 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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