C.M. Huddleston is taking a two-week vacation to places out west including the Great American Book Festival on 2 September 2017 at Rapid City, South Dakota. Monday Morning Indie will resume when she returns. In the meantime, Connie would like to announce her next writing adventure entitled Winter Wonder. Connie has joined with eight other authors to give you a children’s anthology.
Winter Wonder brings you a confection of Christmas stories by an array of well-loved authors featuring characters drawn from their award-winning books. Eleven new stories, spanning all ages from the young to the young at heart, will whisk you away on a snowstorm of delight to worlds of fantasy, adventure, history, and even outer space with tales celebrating the magic of Christmas or the wonder of winter holidays.
Winter Wonder will arrive in late September!
What influenced you to start writing?
Well it all seems a bit surreal when I think back. About 7 years ago we lived in Christchurch, New Zealand, when a series of earth quakes hit levelling our beautiful city and destroying thousands of homes. At the time I was a self-employed artist, but with the galleries gone no one really had time for art, and I felt guilty not helping those in need, so I ended up working for the Red Cross as a volunteer helping those who were worst affected. Soon I found the grief, sadness and suffering overwhelming. I did try to keep at the artwork, but all that came out were paintings of mouldy walls, cracked concrete and broken houses, so I decided to paint fantasy lands with short stories attached. In no time at all the stories of these lands grew and grew in my head. After each day working in the quake zone I used to walk with our dog along the lanes where we lived, imagining I was somewhere else and take notes, then at home in the evenings I’d type away. I used some of my experiences of a broken city with fractured lands, and rich versus poor, it was a lesson in humanity I will never forget. This is how my first book was born. I still sometimes draw on my experiences of the quakes today, but now living back in my home town of Cheltenham, in the United Kingdom, I use the encounters of my childhood days and the wealth of history that surrounds me.
What exotic setting would you like to visit and then use for a new book? Why?
I know this one it’s easy, but not possible. The space station of course. I always like to experience what I write about to make it seem real. Whether it’s flying a plane, crashing a go-cart or sledging down gravel on a mountainside I have done most of these stupid things in my younger days and have the scars to prove it. I have thought about bringing space travel into one of my future books, but it’s hard to imagine what weightlessness must feel like until you experience it yourself. I suppose I will have to read a few books from real astronauts, but book reading isn’t my thing, I can write them as that’s creative, but reading one is a different matter I just don’t seem to have the patience. I know it’s strange isn’t it.
Who most influences your writing? Why?
My father was a kind gentle man who always helped others, and had impeccable manners and taught me to be the same, so I suppose he has influenced me a great deal.
I was also influenced by an ordinary looking guy I was introduced to one day working with the Red Cross. He wore old shorts, a tee-shirt and sandals, and he always had a laptop with him. At the end of each day he would ask me what we had discovered during the day i.e. poverty, loneliness, damaged houses, the hungry and the cold. Only later did I find out he was a philanthropist and he donated a massive sum of money toward the Christchurch people. I thought, wow, what a guy travelling the world to disaster areas and helping those most in need. Can you imagine what the world could be, if we had a lot more people like him?
What one thing do you hate most about being an Indie author?
I’ll shout this out loud, “MARKETING”. I hate selling, taking money. I think over the years I’ve given away almost all of my art work, I’m always too embarrassed to ask for money. That’s why Sally, my wife, has taken over a lot of the marketing tasks around my books, as we all need money to survive.
.What projects do you have in the works for your readers?
I always say, “As soon as I finish this book that’s it I’m not writing another.”
But as always I was half way along writing “Belas Rift”, the third book in my series, when up popped book four in my head. I always tell people my stupid brain is full of rubbish waiting to get out, I just can’t seem to stop my imagination from taking over. I have written the start and the end and have the basic storyline in my head; but the story always seems to develop and evolve as I start writing and painting the images for the book, they work together for me. I don’t want to start in earnest as I know what I’m like, I will shut myself in my little studio, start painting and writing, then before you know it another year has passed by. I’m waiting for the winter months before I start again, so I can enjoy a bit of summer.
In the long term I would also love to create one of my imaginary lands in metal, as it’s another thing I enjoy working with, comes from my days as an engineer I suppose.
Then there’s my love of restoring classic cars and motorcycles, along with cycling, and walking with my wife and dog, but now I’m rambling, so see you guys later. Cheers.
Learn More about Stephan von Clinkerhoffen at:
C.M. Huddleston's Review of The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham: Stig's Flight of Encounters
By combining mechanicals, nature, and total fantasy, von Clinkerhoffen has created a world to get lost in - literally. In Stig's Flight of Encounters, A boy, Stig becomes lost in a world containing evil and new friends while trying to return to the hidden city of Chelldrah-ham, his home. His encounters with evil are heartbreaking and overwhelming, yet he succeeds in finding friends, learning to trust, and seeing the world for what it is. While I have not read all of the series, I am sure children and adults who enjoy worlds of total fantasy will be enthralled with Stig’s future adventures.
What one stand alone book that you have read (one book, not a series), do you wish you had written. Why?
Yikes! You don’t waste any time getting to the tough questions, do you?
There are many amazing works that I might wish I’d written, but the one that keeps coming to mind, again and again, is Little Witch, by Anna Elizabeth Bennett, first published in 1953. You can find it at https://www.amazon.com/Little-Witch-Anna-Elizabeth-Bennett/dp/1616089644. This is a great read for middle-graders, and one I’m confident has withstood the test of time. I recollect reading a copy that looked like the 60th anniversary edition at the link above—except that the background of the cover of the book that I read was blue—or maybe it was green . . .
I recall checking Little Witch out of the library many, many times. I loved the story of magic—and of a little girl who lived a rather sad life. I guess I identified with her in some ways. I actually think that most children would. It seems that each of us has to come to an appreciation at some time about how we are indeed “different” from those around us—and that it is those very differences that make everything worthwhile. Likewise, we all undergo some hardship and we all face incidents of unfairness. But kindness, creativity, and perseverance, can see us through. (Just talking about it convinces me that I’ll need to get my own copy one day.)
What exotic setting would you like to visit and then use for a new book? Why?
It’s difficult to know just what qualifies as “exotic,” but I’m going to go with Budapest, Hungary, an old city with an amazing history. It has known times of independence, and times when freedom was but a distant dream—one either recollected from the past, or conjured up in anticipation of the future. In just the last century, having experienced the oppression of both the Nazis and the Soviets, Prague is sometimes referred to as the “Paris of the East” due to its evening illumination, as its lights reflect off the Danube’s waters. Oddly, it is also known for its baths and spas, the consequence of some natural water springs. The area intrigues me, as Hungary is surrounded by Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Solvenia, and Austria. For me, it evokes mystery, espionage, and even a bit of magic. I’d like to approach the city via a cruise on the Danube. I think its centuries old buildings would make interesting settings, and its people—who I understand are sometimes considered rather stoic (by outward appearances, anyway)—could make for some intriguing characters.
Who most influences your writing? Why?
Hmmm . . . I don’t think anyone necessarily influences my style. I do, however, find that I’m deeply moved by stories of self sacrifice. Of course, to be meaningful, the sacrifice must be something chosen—not something imposed on a character via outside forces. Thus, I suppose I’m influenced by Victor Hugo who wrote two of the greatest works of self-sacrifice that I’ve ever read. Les Miserables is of course the first. Another—a lesser known work—is Toilers of the Sea.
What one thing do you hate most about being an Indie author?That I don’t have more time for it. I’m still a working mom—and though my two youngest are in college, in my experience, young ones don’t require less of your time over the years—they require more. At least that’s true until after they reach their mid-20s or so. In addition, young adults require much more in the way of support, which comes in the form of tuition, rent, car insurance, cell phones, internet access . . . you get the idea.
What projects do you have in the works for your readers?My newest work, Ignorance is not Bliss, provides information for authors on protecting their brands and copyrights and on how to avoid infringing on the rights of others. It will be available soon.
For my fantasy fans, I’m working on an audio version of Oathtaker: The Oathtaker Series, Volume One. I hope to wrap it up (someday!) and then move on to the others. I’m also working through how volume four of The Oathtaker Series will shape up. It’s great to let the story just happen as I write it—but I have to have at least a general sense of where I’m headed. If things change along the way, I simply change my plan. However, if I don’t have something at the outset, writers’ block sets in.
Please send any social media links that you wish to include. I’ll add a cover image for your book, my review, and a sale link for Amazon.
Learn more about Patricia Reding at:
C.M. Huddleston's Reviews of Oathtaker, Select and Ephemeral and Fleeting.
Oathtaker is a book I might never have read if its author had not gifted me a copy in exchange for an honest review. Nevertheless, I found myself enthralled in the story, unwilling to put it down unless forced to do so. Unlike many fantasies, the human characters reign supreme in the story and the “creatures,” while inventive, are only used for background. There is magic in this created fantasy world and evil quite supreme. The story and the characters grab the reader drawing them further and further into a world you will desire to know and will come to cherish. Reding’s fantasy is not this world she has created, but the images of it floating in your mind throughout your day urging you back into this book.
Select continues the story of Mara and Dixon and all the characters of Oathtaker, and many more for you to enjoy. There are prophecies and more magic, but again, the characters are what keep you reading. Reding’s storytelling enhances a drama, a plot, built around human emotions and needs. You will recognize all the bits of humanity in her story. You will revel in their commitments to each other all while living in a fantasy world full of danger and evil. I could not get to this book fast enough after Oathtaker.
Okay, I have to say, after two books in a series I am usually ready for a break, and I read something else. However, I rushed from Select right into Ephemeral and Fleeting without even a minute’s delay. I had to keep enjoying about Reding’s fantasy world, her characters, and even her evil oppressors. I wanted to see good overcome evil. I wanted to keep the enjoying, and I did. Ephemeral and Fleeting is dark and full of danger, horrible circumstances, and trickery, and but it is also full of human resilience, honor, and bravery. I can’t wait for the next in the series!
Last year I interviewed Jacqui after meeting her at the Literary Classics Award events. Jacqui had won a gold medal for "I Would But My Damn Mind Won't Let Me" This year, she won for "5 Simple Questions to Reclaim Your Happiness!" Now Jacqui has big news about events in her future!
Please tell us why you decided to write your award-winning books?
I grew up with a love for books. As a young adult I struggled with anger, low self-esteem, and difficulty connecting with people, so books were my friends. I remember going to the library to avoid being around others so that I wouldn’t feel judged, or worse – end up in an argument or a fight. I would check out three to four books at a time and devour them. Having these books gave me a sense of comfort – an escape from the pressures of daily life. As I got older, my love for books continued.
I never thought about being an author until my clients repeatedly suggested it. I am blessed to have a private practice helping people take control of their lives by taking control of their minds. I am passionate about helping people overcome their problems and giving them the tools to be their own source of strength and power. So, with each client, I would teach them about their mind and how to take control of their thoughts and feelings. There is a lot of information to absorb in that first session with me, so my clients would ask for a written summary. After repeatedly hearing this request, the most logical thing to do was write a book.
As the book evolved, I became more excited. I realized how important books were to me when I was a teen in need of help, and now I had a chance to pay it forward. And although the content in my book applies to anyone, whether young or old, I wrote the book specifically to help teens. I hope that my work can reach teens who need the extra support like I did. I want my books to help young adults feel less alone, give them some powerful insights, and some tools so they can go after what they want in life.
How has being an author contributed to your mission to help teens and young adults?
I am honored and blessed to have readers of all ages, and from around the world. I receive emails from teens and parents alike thanking me for helping them to understand themselves and their situation better, and for giving them an easy to use tool to start taking control of their minds.
Before being an author, I never knew how far my work could potentially reach. Being an author has given me even more confidence and opportunities to pursue my passion of helping more people. I often get invited to speak and teach through various venues from podcasts to tele-seminars, in-person workshops, and keynote engagements. I am now able to reach so many more people than when my practice was strictly one-on-one.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on two big projects currently. The first project is my third book in the Words of Wisdom for Teens Series. This one is called Unleash Your Inner Super Powers and Destroy Anxiety and Self-Doubt. This book is so much fun to write because it gives the readers very actionable steps to become powerful in who they are. If all goes as planned, this book will be ready to launch in November.
The second project I am working on actually fits in with your previous question of, “how has being an author helped me with my mission?” As a result of my books, I was chosen to receive one of ten scholarships to travel to China and teach at the Academy for the Future of Women. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am so honored to have been chosen. The World Academy for the Future of Women’s mission is, “to empower women through the discovery of their passion, purpose, and path to success, calling forth the full expression of human possibilities through collaborative and inclusive partnerships.” Helping teens and young women to find their personal power and step into their greatness is my love and passion. With The World Academy for the Future of Women, I get to make a greater impact, helping young women learn necessary skills and develop a powerful mindset needed to advance into global leadership roles.
What will be your role at the Academy for the Future of Women?
The Academy for the Future of Women is very unique in that it does not have traditional professors, but rather, “Facilitators” who go on campus to impart their knowledge and expertise for five consecutive weeks. As a Facilitator, I will be responsible for preparing and delivering my lectures four times a week, as well as serving as a coach and mentor to the students. In addition, I’ll have the opportunity to do community outreach at various locations, to reach an even wider audience. The ability to share my work with people who have not been exposed to these ideas is so exciting, and I imagine will be very rewarding. I’d love to tell you all about it after I complete my assignment.
Do you have any parting words for our readers?
Yes, I do. Dream big. Anything is possible! After all, I’m a high school drop out, who went back to college, and now I’m going to China to teach at a university.
Also, I love connecting to my readers, so feel free to connect with me at:
You can also follow the adventures of my books at https://Instagram.com/WOW4Teens
C.M. Huddleston's Review of 5 Simple Questions to Reclaim Your Happiness!
I know firsthand that Jacqui's first book can helps teens. Now, having read her second book, I believe it can help teens and adults on the path to reclaiming their happiness. The book is really 5 simple questions for each one of us to explore as we deal with negative emotions. Jacqui presents a variety of case studies to illustrate for her readers how detrimental emotions can wreck your life. I am not a fan of "self-help" books, but Jacqui's are the exception. They are not long, but they are powerful if you choose to put her message to work in your life.
Author Interviews and the Occasional Blog by