Author Interview: Kari Holloway

Interview Cobalt

Hi folks! Today I’m chatting with Kari Holloway, an American writer who grew up in Leesburg, Georgia. She dabbles in southern romances filled with iconic components of sexy cowboys and firefighters, explores the unexplained in her paranormal series, and has found her way to the battlefields of the Civil War, and to love’s first kiss under the weeping willow through various anthologies.Head Shot__Reduced Size

Hi Kari, it’s great to have you here.

Hello! Thanks for having me, Book Squirrel!

You’re most welcome. I love meeting authors and talking about books. Tell me, what inspired you to write?

Truthful answer? I was a social fringe kind of kid. Screwed up bell-curve grades and preferring the uncool styles of country music and anime kept me there. I remember writing in school, but teachers wouldn’t allow students to bring notebooks on test days, so I brought books instead. Then in 2015 I went back to writing and haven’t stopped.

That’s the way! Don’t stop!

Absolutely!

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

Only one? There are scenes in Cracked But Never Broken that hurt my heart, Behind the Lens has those tantalizing moments of unsure requited love, Mark of Cain has my MC standing up for herself.
Trapped by Design is one of my favorites. It’s a paranormal short story set in the realm of my Devil’s Playground series. I haven’t published it yet. I’m shopping it around to publications. It starts off with Ava playing a game of peek-a-boo with her kid.

Oh, make sure you let me know when it’s out, and I’ll spread the word.

Hey, thanks!

No problem! What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks if we’re talking new school. If we’re talking in all of modern time, Sackett Series by Louis Lamour.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

I got to see a sneak peek of the stories in A Contract of Words. They are amazing, and some leave me in awe while others just creep me out. I think that’s a good hallmark of a well-balanced anthology.

What are you working on writing now?

I’m trying to rein in my muse. She’s trying to start me on book 5 in the Devil’s Playground series while I’m under deadline for a group release in October.

Those darned muses certainly have a mind of their own, eh.

You got that right!

Do you have a favourite food or drink that helps you write?

No. I tend to write while drinking a glass of sweet tea, but the tea’s the only thing I drink.

Who designs your book covers?

Steven Novak of Novak illustrations did my Laughing P series. German Creative is the designer on my Devil’s Playground series, and the short story covers are my handywork.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

Country with some 60s, 70s, and 80s of Pop and Rock.

Forest, country, beach or city?

Depends on my mood. I live in a fairly rural place. Lots of woods merged with rolling farmland. The beach would be nice—watching the storms roll across the ocean, the fresh breeze, and shell collection. I couldn’t live in a city like Atlanta or New York, but small-town suits me just fine.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

Scuba diving in the Florida Keys or off the coast of Panama City in Florida.

What’s your favourite TV show?

To be honest, I can’t think of the last show I didn’t catch on DVR. The two I do try to catch with regularity is Doctor Who and the Graham Norton Show.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

You’ve Got Mail. It’s hopeful and sweet.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a veterinarian.

I like you.

Awww! I like you, too!

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Spring. Seeing the birds return in a slow migration of robins morphing into cardinals, the first few flowers determined to bloom, and it being warm/cool enough to have the windows open.

What’s your favourite quote, ever?

“We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. Knowing the contents of a few works of literature is a trivial achievement. Being inclined to go on reading is a great achievement.”

That’s very thought-provoking!

It sure is!

What does a typical day hold for you?

I enjoy spending my evenings writing. During the day, it’s chasing my kids around, laughing at their sassy ways and the depths of their curiosity.

Sounds busy! What’s your motto in life?

Show the world the best version of you, for our actions of today make tomorrow.

Oh, I really like that.

Thanks!

Where can we follow you on social media?

I have a website, and an author page on Amazon. I’m also on Facebook and Tumblr.

Fantastic! And where can we find your books?

My books are all on Amazon, although not exclusively. The anthology ‘Love, Lust & Scary Monsters’ is in other stores as well.

Laughing P

 

 

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Book Review: ‘Country of Daughters – Daughters Inn’ by Bijou Li

An interesting cross-cultural read.

Bijou Li Country of Daughters Daughters InnThis is a story of cultures confronting one another and the tension between tradition and innovation that follows. When a young woman travels to work in a traditional community that has just begun to embrace tourism, she discovers the different interests and motivations that cause ripples and turbulent undercurrents in Lugu Lake.

Written from the perspective of a Chinese woman who studied these communities, the reader can sense the authenticity of the both the narrative, which offers a profound exploration of the experiences of the people and the problems caused by significant differences in thinking. This is a fascinating study of the development of a traditional Chinese town and its people, something that most western readers certainly have very little idea about, yet at the same time, it reminds the reader that human nature doesn’t actually change much wherever you go. It’s also a timely reminder of what happens when economic concerns take precedence over environmental and social considerations, and the impact that has on both place and people.
Acorn Award II Silver

It’s an intriguing and thought-provoking story, which I very much enjoyed. I’ve awarded it a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Author Interview: Claire Buss

Welcome to another interview in the “Nuts About Authors” series. Today we welcome Claire Buss, Indie author extraordinaire and a generally very nice person!

Interview Orange

Welcome to another interview in the “Nuts About Authors” series. Today we welcome Claire Buss, Indie author extraordinaire and a generally very nice person!
Welcome, Claire! 

Thanks, Book Squirrel!

What inspired you to write?

I am inspired by all kinds of things – the different people I meet, books I read, random ideas I have at 4am in the morning. What I find difficult is carving out the time to actually write so most of my ideas get jotted onto scraps of paper which are carefully saved in a box for later perusal. Oftentimes it will be the character voice in my head that shouts the loudest! I do prefer to immerse myself in one project at a time.

Claire Buss The Rose Thief

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I’m about to have a baby! But until very recently, I have been in the final stages of getting my latest book, The Rose Thief, ready for publication. I’ve worked through all my beta reader feedback and I’ve done the scariest part – the final read through before setting up for ebook and paperback. I am really excited about this book, it was so much fun to write. Someone is stealing the Emperor’s roses and it’s up to Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher and his team to find out who the thief is and stop them before love is lost forever in Roshaven. Think Terry Pratchett meets Douglas Adams.

And that’s just been released, right? 

Yes! Last week!

How exciting!

It is, rather.

Congratulations! It’s on my TBR pile as we speak. 

Oh, thank you! How big is your TBR pile?

It’s nuts. 

*laughter*

What movie can you watch over and over again?

There are a few actually – The Princess Bride, LOTR and The Hobbit trilogies, Constantine and 28 Days (not the Zombie movie!)

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Lois Lane.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

It’s a full-time job being an Indie author and that’s not just the writing aspect. You are, for the most part, your own editor, proof-reader and marketer. Most indie authors already have a day job so it’s really about being dedicated to something you love and couldn’t imagine not doing. The marketing side is constant, you have to work on it every day and keep momentum – there’s an awful lot of authors out there but the good news is that people still love reading so all you have to do is get out there and find yours.

Two things in life I wish were easier.

1 – eating cake and not putting on weight

2 – learning how to not feel guilty for either not writing or doing the housework or spending time with my family

I’m with you! Those would be great things to make easier. 

*high fives for cake*

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

I’ve had a few 5 star reads so far this year but I think the series that I am enjoying the most is Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series. I’m on book four now and they’ve all been brilliant. I love all the subtle – and not so subtle – literary references and admire the huge amount of world-building that must have gone into writing the series.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Autumn. It’s not too hot like the summer and you can wear a cardi with practically every outfit. There’s that lovely crispness in the mornings and still a few summery days to enjoy, leaves to crunch and lots of apple-based desserts. Springtime can be a bit wet although all that new growth is lovely. Winter can be too dark as well as bone-numbingly cold, at least Autumn is golden.

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

This is tricky because I haven’t read all the books yet but based on the small amount I have been able to devour I would have to say the top of the pile would be Sir Terry Pratchett for his Discworld series, his sense of humour and great intellect. As cliche as it may sound, I do admire JK Rowling’s persistence with Harry Potter and whilst I am well aware that her kind of success is unlikely to happen for me, it is motivating to know that you should never give up. I think my other literary inspiration is every indie author out there who is giving 100%, writing quality books and supporting others in the indie world.

Indie authors are amazing.

You’re right!

Some of the best books I’ve read have been Indie books!

Right again!

*another high five*

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

My best vacation memories are those spent on my grandparents’ farm in Wales. Animals, fresh air, the Welsh coastline, homegrown produce and freshly baked cakes, an open fire and lots of love.

Where can we find your books, Claire?

You can find my books on Amazon.

 

And where can we follow you on social media?

My social media links are as follows:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/busswriter

twitter: www.twitter.com/grasshopper2407

website: www.cbvisions.weebly.com 

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16197976.Claire_Buss

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/grasshopper2407/

Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWrKBeiBMQg_subFM9ot2vw

G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ClaireBuss2407

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/Grasshopper2407

 

Thanks for chatting with me today, Claire.

Thanks for being such an awesome squirrel!

And remember, folks: support an Indie author today!

And eat cake!

Yes! Eat cake!

Author Interview: Heather Dawn

Welcome once again to Book Squirrel’s latest ‘Nuts about Authors’ interview.  Today I sat down with Heather Dawn to discuss life as a writer and her novel, Imbroglio: The Ties of Love and Lies.

Interview Orange

Welcome once again to Book Squirrel’s latest ‘Nuts about Authors’ interview.  Today I sat down with Heather Dawn to discuss life as a writer and her novel, Imbroglio: The Ties of Love and Lies.

Heather Dawn Imbroglio

Hi Heather, thanks for being here and chatting with me. 
Hi, Book Squirrel. Thanks for having me!

What inspired you to write?

Pain inspired me to write, plain and simple. I needed to get out of my circumstances into someone else’s, and thank God it worked!

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

I penned an essay in college entitled, Dear Little Girl, which was an assignment to write a letter of advice to myself as a child. Despite the intense joy of publishing a novel that’s getting five-star reviews, the timeless words in this essay resonate with me the most, allowing me to walk down memory lane and relish the nostalgia of my youth, grow from the mistakes, and ultimately, appreciate who I’ve become as an adult. I never would’ve thought such a simple assignment would be so invaluable to me.

What are you working on writing now?

Between my tasks as an elementary school mom and an independent entertainment production events contractor, I’m sneaking in the sequel to my debut novel.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

My best vacation was a nine day trip to Italy, exploring more than eight beautiful cities and stretches of breathtaking countryside from Rome to Lake Como with a wonderful group of ladies, our own tour “mother,”  a private tour bus, delightful hotels, and food that made me hurt myself trying to devour it all!

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

My pet hate is deception––lying and hiding in relationships. Yes, I absolutely built that despicable behavior and its consequences into my writing. That is what Imbroglio, the Ties of Love and Lies is all about! An intense storyline of drama, action and suspense where a woman’s omission (intended to maintain the interest of one surprisingly debonair, irresistible and likewise mysterious man) collides with his secrets, and the two are led on a volatile, even dangerous, journey for truth, forgiveness, and love which neither of them could have fathomed. I think it would just be lovely for every reader of Imbroglio to recognize the fears that entice us to lie and consider the lamentations of Carlos and Shannon when facing such temptation! Perhaps my genre would evolve to “romantic suspense fiction with a lesson.” Hmmm…

What movie can you watch over and over again?

I can watch The Incredibles over and over and over. And over. There is something about the dynamics of their relationships. No perfection among super heroes there!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a veterinarian. With all my heart. And then I saw what happens when animals get worms and diseases. I said, “No thank you.”

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Beverly Cleary began my passion for reading with her character, Ramona (as in the pest.)
Ernest Gaines wrung the tears from my eyes with his masterful and deservedly highly-praised novel, A Lesson Before Dying. I admired his ability to write about a subject so heartbreaking and yet keep readers engaged to the end.
Stephen King paints a story so dexterously. I remember the idiosyncrasies of his characters being so vivid in my mind, loving the way he drew me into a tale, and feeling terrified to read on.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

It will challenge your fortitude. Unlike when there is a publisher behind you, there is no one to convince the world that you (the self-published artist) have talent except you. Keep pressing onward!

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

1) I wish erasing the painful emotional scars imparted by others and restoring hope to the lost was easier. 2) I wish it was easier to say what needs to be said.

Those can be tough challenges indeed!   
Where can we get your book?

Imbroglio: The Ties of Love and Lies is on Amazon.

Heather Dawn Imbroglio Author Pic

Fantastic! And where can we follow you on social media? 

Oh! That’s easy!

Book Squirrel Review: Christmas Miracle at Easter by R.M. Gauthier

Gauthier is a great writer and a master of finishing a story with a sledgehammer that leaves you wanting to read on and keen for the next story.

Renee Gauthier Christmas Miracle Easter

The third instalment in R.M. Gauthier’s Christmas Miracle series, this story is a little shorter than the others but still full of the same tension, humour and characters.

Gauthier is a great writer and a master of finishing a story with a sledgehammer that leaves you wanting to read on and keen for the next story.

I really enjoyed this book, and I really hope there will be another. Christmas Miracle on Canada Day, perhaps? Now there’s a holiday this squirrel can get behind!

Golden Acorns

‘Christmas Miracle at Easter’ gets a shiny Golden Acorn!

Get your copy at Amazon!

And if you haven’t read the others – they’re great, too!

SIBA First Miracle

Author Interview: Blaque Diamond

Today Book Squirrel is chatting with Blaque Diamond, author of poetry and contemporary women’s fiction.

Interview Cobalt

Hi everyone! Today I’m chatting with Blaque Diamond, author of poetry and contemporary women’s fiction.

Welcome, Blaque!

Thank you, Book Squirrel! It’s nice to be here!

What inspired you to write?

The question isn’t really what inspired me to write, but who inspired me to write? My fifth-grade teacher is the person who put the idea of writing in my head. She saw my talent for writing before I even noticed that it was there. She encouraged me to explore my craft. It started as her dream for me, but soon it turned into my dream for myself.

his-or-her-betrayal-cover.jpeg

What is your favorite thing you have written?

My favorite book that I have written is my novel entitled” His or Her Betrayal?” This is my favorite book because it deals with a real-life society issue. Even though we have come a long way of acceptance and tolerance of the LGBTQ community, we still have a long way to go. Although my story is fiction, I’m sure someone somewhere in this big old world can relate. Even if they can’t, it is still an interesting read. You never know the struggles that someone has to go through. My readers get to hear Michelle Anderson’s story from her own mouth.

What are you working on writing now?
Love, lies and heartbreak vol 1
Right now, I am working on the second volume of my short story anthology “Love, Lies and Heartbreak.” This anthology consists of five stories dealing with relationships that don’t end in a happily ever after. There are five different scenarios, but all of them deal with infidelity in some kind of way. Lies are told, and hearts are broken because love isn’t what they thought it would be. In the second instalment, the hurt and pain continues. None of these couples are strong enough to handle the acts of betrayal that they are dealt.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

The best vacation that I have had is when I went on a seven day western Caribbean cruise with my friends. It was the best time of our lives. It got so good that I didn’t want to come back home. I even asked if I could get a job working on the boat, but I knew it was impossible for me to give up everything to go and work on a cruise boat. It was very tempting though. We had the time of our lives visiting the different countries and observing the different cultures. I can definitely say that I have cruise fever, and I am going to make cruising a part of my vacation plans on a regular basis.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

The movie that I can watch over and over again is “The Sound of Music.” It is my all-time favorite movie. I love musicals and I love all the singing and dancing that goes on in the movie. My favorite part of the movie is the children though. I think they are so adorable. I loved that in the end the children got a mother and the husband got a wife.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a business owner. I wanted to own my own multi-cultural hair salon and spa. I wanted it to be a one stop shop for everything. I also wanted it to cater to women, men and children. Even though I am no longer a kid that is still what I want to be when I grow up. I do intend on making that a reality.

What’s your favorite season? Why?

My favorite season is summer. Even though most people are bothered by the heat, I am not. It doesn’t bother me at all. I am very cold natured, so I hate to be cold. Summer for me symbolizes happiness and fun. There are so many exciting things to do in the summer. Family vacations to the beach, picnic lunches and days spent sitting in the pool is my ideal summer. While I’m relaxing under a shady tree, I can work on my next publication or catch up on my favorite author’s new releases.

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

My three greatest literary inspirations are Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou and Alice Walker. They are my favorite African-American poets of all time.

What would you like people to know about being an indie author?

I want people to know that being an indie author is hard, but it is worth all the hard work and effort you put in it. The rewarding feeling of my reader’s reactions to my stories is what gives me the drive to keep going. I love what I do, but when my readers also love it too, it makes it all worth it. The fact that I have invested in myself by becoming an indie author brings me pride. I can say that I did something for myself. Even if I don’t become a best-seller, I am proud of how far I’ve come. I had the courage to press the publish button.

What is something that you wish would be easier?

words of my heart cover

I wish that things were easier done than said. It is easy to say that you are going to do something, but it is another thing to actually do it. Whatever it is you want to do in life, do it. Don’t just say you’re going to do it. You can say you’re going to do something all day long, but if you never take the initiative to put forth effort to make it possible, then it isn’t worth saying anything about.

 

Where can we find your books?

My books can all be purchased from Amazon.

Fantastic! And where can we follow you on social media?

Social media links:
http://www.amazon.com/author/blaquediamond
http://www.goodreads.com/blaquediamondbooks
http://facebook.com/writerblaquediamond
http://www.instagram.com/writerblaquediamond
https://www.twitter.com/heartofmywords

Thanks for being here with us today, Blaque.

Thank you for having me, Book Squirrel! It’s been fun!

Author Interview: Samantha Bryant

Hello and welcome to another Author Interview by Book Squirrel. Today we’re chatting with Samantha Bryant, author of the Menopausal Superheroes series. 

Interview Red

Hello and welcome to another Author Interview by Book Squirrel. Today we’re chatting with Samantha Bryant, author of the Menopausal Superheroes series. 

meandbook

Hi, Samantha. It’s lovely to have you here.

Hi, Book Squirrel. I’ve never chatted with a squirrel before, so I’m excited.

I’m a very exciting squirrel. 

I bet you are.

So tell us, what inspired you to write?

I’ve written nearly as long as I can remember. It probably started with a love of reading, but it was my first grade teacher who put me on the path to becoming an author. As a handwriting exercise, Mrs. Alsdorf had us first graders copy out classic poems in our nicest hand, illustrating them in the margins, and collecting them in a special folder made out of wallpaper scraps.

That was my first encounter with many classic poets: Robert Frost, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, etc. I fell in love with the sounds of the words and when I told Mrs. Alsdorf how much I enjoyed the poems, she knelt down next to my desk (not a far reach for her: she was very short) and said quietly and seriously, “You know, you could write poems of your own, if you wanted to.”

And I did. I don’t really write poetry anymore, except occasionally for myself, but I still love to read it, and I credit that early love of poetry with helping me craft beautiful prose and teaching me that I could write my own pieces.

That’s beautiful. Great teachers are so underrated!

Thanks! I agree!

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

That’s usually the thing I have just finished writing. There’s a glow over something when it’s fresh, and you can’t yet see any flaws it might have. Though it is also a lovely lovely feeling when you re-read something you wrote some time ago and think, “Hey, that’s pretty good!” I’m proud of all my work, even the work I now see flaws in. Choosing a favorite is rather like choosing a favorite child, so I refuse to choose!

all covers

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Oh my. That’s a hard choice. According to my Goodreads list, I’ve read 44 books this year. I have a yearly goal of 52 (one per week) and I usually exceed that.

I’ve read a fair number of classics because I co-host a classics book club at my library. Of those, Moby Dick is the best one I’ve read this year. I think I’m finally old enough to truly get the book. I saw the dark humor and wit this time, and the poetry.

My neighborhood book club reads mostly literary or historical fiction. Of these, my favorite this year has been Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell, which explores Doc Holliday and the Earp boys from the inside. I’m not generally much of a western fan, but Russell won me over with her beautiful language and strong emotional connection to what these men might have felt.

I’ve made a point of reading books by people I know this year, other writers I know online or from the southern convention scene. Many of them are indie writers, which can often mean a read that steps outside the box and takes a daring or creative turn in the narrative. My two favorites (I know, I’m totally cheating on how many books I say are my favorite) are Reenu You by Michele Berger and Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley. Interestingly, both of those books have quite a lot to say about racial politics, so while a scifi story about a hair relaxer gone rogue and a murder mystery set in an alternate history South Africa may not seem to have much in common, they are exploring some of the same issues.

I do love reading more than quite possibly anything else . . .except maybe writing, so I could go on for quite a while about what I’ve loved reading.

What are you working on writing now?

I was invited to be a part of a book bundle by a writer friend. It’s a collection of young adult, post-apocalyptic, romance. I couldn’t resist that challenge: three things I’ve never written, so I’ve been working on a story, though it’s come out more dystopian than post-apocalyptic. It’s working title is Thursday’s Children, and it follows a sixteen year-old track star named Kye’luh Wade, her cousins, and some other young people she collects along the way as they run away from government persecution to save themselves and rescue their parents. I don’t know if I’ll finish it in time to be a part of the bundle, but I’m grateful to my friend for prompting me to try something new. I’m really enjoying writing it.

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

I am especially annoyed by narcissism. It comes across in many ways: condescension, man-splaining, pontificating, failure to listen, aggressive driving, line-jumping, etc. But they all strike me as part of the same basic problem.

Patricia O’Neill, aka The Lizard Woman of Springfield, from my Menopausal Superhero series has proven a fun character to grind these particular axes with. She is a no-nonsense woman, with a secret soft spot for underdogs and a bit of a hero complex. Transforming into a giant bulletproof dinosaur did not soften her caustic demeanor. Of course, like many of us, the behaviors that annoy her in others are also found within her, so Patricia is continually coming face to face with the problems her own narcissism causes even while she takes down the bad guys, either with her claws or her wit.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

I have a few perennial favorites. I watch The Quiet Man once a year and am suckered by the chemistry between John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara every time. I love the entire story line of the man wounded by tragedy returning home to make a fresh start and in the process making his peace with his past.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I’m a fan of fall. Since I’m a schoolteacher, fall is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts for me in at least that aspect of my life. It’s also when the weather cools down enough for me to wear my cozy sweatjacket, but hasn’t yet become so cold that I have to zip it up or find a coat. I’m a tree-person, in that I feel most at peace among trees, and fall is definitely a showcase season for trees, with all their colorful finery on show. Then there’s all the fall pleasures, like hot cocoa, pumpkin flavored everything at the bakery, Halloween, hay-rides and corn mazes, and jumping into piles of raked leaves. Fall is definitely the best. I missed it horribly when I lived in Alaska where the seasons were pretty much “green”, “white”, and “brown.”

Are there many nuts in Alaska? 

You’d be surprised!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Emily Dickinson speaks my soul more often than anyone else I’ve ever read. I’ve been reading her all my life and even though there’s a finite amount to read, I still find something new in her words every time.

Neil Gaiman combines darkness and whimsy to write seemingly dark stories with a hopeful core. He also loves fairy tales, ghosts, and magic as much as I do.

Stan Lee created so many of my favorite heroes. He could also balance preachy-ness with exploration of moral issues and placed his characters in difficult situations to let them shine. He shared my soft spot for the underdog, too.

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

As a child, I had a mild obsession with Helen Keller. I researched her life for a speech contest, and read everything our library had about her. Her story is a fantastic inspiration, a reminder that every person has value and needs only the right opportunity to learn to shine so the rest of us can see it. As a teacher, I see how easily her life might have come out differently if not for the support and love she received and I try to offer that love and support to those around me. Her writings are deep and thoughtful and full of kindness and generosity of spirit. The world is lucky to have them.

Josephine Baker according to Wikipedia was “an entertainer, activist, and French Resistance agent.” Shouldn’t we all live to have a biography like that? She was important on so many fronts, fighting for freedom and equality both as a performer and as a human being. She used her art to make a difference and took risks throughout her varied career. She’s a reminder that “safe” isn’t always best.

My great-grandmother Lena Wilhelmina Wurth Taylor. Grandma Lena had it rough in a lot of ways. She was a child of recent German immigrants in rural Kentucky during a time when that could get a person beaten, imprisoned, or killed. She lived nearly all her life just on the respectable side of poverty and pulled herself and her family along through sheer iron will and indefatigable hard work. She married late and lost her husband early, spending more of her life widowed than she had as a bride. But she was determined to maintain her independence and did so until the last day of her life. Strong minded and stubborn, sure of herself, and fierce in her loyalties, she was not an “easy” woman by any means. She could be intimidating, but she would fight tooth and nail for those she loved. I aspire to be as self-sufficient in my own way as she was.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Time-management. I want more out of my day than is possible to squeeze most days. I want to write all the words, enjoy all the light, appreciate all the people, enjoy all the love, and still get enough sleep, exercise, and eat delicious things. Most of the time, I feel in a constant push-pull of life’s currents trying to keep my footing on slippery stones. I’d love to feel that I *really* have my balance.

Money. I am fortunate in my life in many ways and our family does not struggle for food or pleasant shelter or even for some frivolous pleasures, but like many middle class folk, I still often feel hampered by financial considerations, unable to pursue opportunities I want or take on work I would find fulfilling because I can’t “afford” to. I would love to have more freedom of cash flow. Unfortunately, I’ve chosen two less-than-lucrative fields in teaching and writing, so I will have to find my riches emotionally rather than in my bank account.

Thanks for being here with us today, Samantha. 

You’re most welcome! It’s been fun!

Before you leave, can you tell us where we can follow you on social media? 

Sure thing!  You can find me at:

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