WOLF NOTES: An Uncommon Interview – Donna Milward

081Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.

Give a big wolf welcome to Donna Milward.

publicity photoDonna Milward lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with two cats and a troll. She’s dabbled in writing since grade two, but it wasn’t until an RWA conference in 2009 that she found the knowledge and tools she needed to tell the world about her dreams. Donna considers herself a feminist, a spiritual person, an insomniac, and an unabashed crazy cat lady. Despite her canning, gardening, and fishing hobbies, she much prefers city life.

Wolf: What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?

Donna: I believe it’s called a Century Egg or something? It was hard boiled, black with a grey yolk. I tried it when I worked for a Chinese Food restaurant in the nineties. I remembered that I liked it—it tasted robust and pleasantly creamy. Not at all what you’d expect.

Wolf: What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?

Donna: I can’t say which one, but I gave her son back to her. I’m very proud of that scene, and I know I made more than one reader cry. I can’t give you more details. That would be Spoilers.

Wolf: What is the meanest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?

Donna: I killed her dog. In my defense, I was NOT a pet owner at the time, and I don’t think I’ll ever write that kind of thing again. I became a first-time pet owner after a long bout of Writer’s Block. I realized I couldn’t kill off a cat in my WIP. It made me realize I really liked cats and animals in general. I changed the scene and went to my local Humane Society and adopted my Freya. When I destroyed the dog in the previous book, I was going for powerful emotions and I wanted to shock the reader into realizing how awful the villain was. I didn’t have the empathy I have now.

Wolf: Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?

Donna: Cat person! I like dogs, but I’m a crazy cat lady now. They fit so neatly into my life and I adore everything about them, even when they are bratty. There is no such thing as an ugly cat, and as they say, ‘time spent with a cat is not wasted.’ That’s either Ernest Hemingway or Sigmund Freud—depending where in the internet you look.

Wolf: While walking in the woods you come across…

Donna: …An Elemental, or a true nature god. My grandmother is Finnish, and I’ve studied some of their folklore. Their nature magic doesn’t believe in good or evil forces. Some Elementals are good and others are just more difficult to deal with. I’ve written a short story about the Elemental I met in my dreams and intend to publish it in a future project.

Wolf: The world is about to end. What is the first thing you do?

Donna: I’ve had this nightmare more than once. The first thing I always do is scramble to find the people I love, just to tell them I love them before the ozone tears and rips us all apart. Thankfully I don’t dream those much anymore.

Wolf: Which of your characters is your favorite?

Donna: I hate to call favorites, but honestly, it’s Strife. She was only meant to be a minion, but she wrote herself into a larger character. I love her personality and how she evolved right before my eyes. She fascinates me and I’m proud of her.

Wolf: Describe a meal you would be served while visiting another world.

Donna: I used to dream and write in science fiction. I visited a world where the people were mostly fruitarians and their culture and spirituality were based on triangles and trios. Their favorite food was a flat, tangy, triangular fruit that tasted like a cross between apples and apricots, so I named them Applcots. I can just imagine all the delicious dishes they could create with it.

Wolf: What story are you working on now?

Donna: I’m actually editing two books right now. One is ‘Her True Name: Volume Two’ and it’s set in ancient Scandinavia. It is a novel on its own, but it keeps in time with Volume One and the reincarnation/mythology theme. ‘Elaina’s Fate’ is about an assassin who falls for the man she’s assigned to kill. The short story about the Elemental I mentioned will be part of a collection of short stories that don’t match my brand of reincarnation angels and mythology-based stories.

Wolf: Those sound very interesting. Thanks for stopping by.

Social Media Links:

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/DonnaMilwardAuthor/

Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/

Blog: http://earthtothoeba.blogspot.ca/

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/?trk=

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Why we need fantasy

So true.

M.C. Tuggle, Writer

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The great struggle of our age is to re-assert our humanity against those institutions that define and treat us as simple automatons. Freudian “Drive-Reduction Theory” attempted to minimize all life into simplistic, mechanical terms. B. F. Skinner went so far as to claim that ALL behavior results from external reinforcement: Reward “good” behavior and punish “bad” behavior, and humans can be conditioned for the better. Utopia, therefore, is just a few conditioning sessions away …

Problem is, living things are inherently complex. Life refuses to be contained within formulas. So when behavioral scientists observed subjects ignoring rewards and spontaneously exploring and experimenting, they had to admit this impulse was internal, rather than external, as Skinner had assumed. A new term arose to describe this activity, as this refreshing article from Medium reports:

Intrinsic motivation refers to the spontaneous tendency “to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise one’s…

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WOLF NOTES: An Uncommon Interview – Stephanie Collins

081Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.

Wolf: Welcome to Wolf Notes, Stephanie. Tell us a little about yourself.

Stephanie CollinsStephanie: WITH ANGEL’S WINGS, along with the epilogue and blog included on the book’s website, pretty much sum up who I am.  I am a mother of four.  Catherine (“Emily” in the book), 25, has high-functioning autism with mild to moderate cognitive delay. Sarah (“Hannah” in the book), 22, has a rare genetic disorder, Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome (history of 7 heart defects, non-verbal, non-ambulatory, incontinent, exclusively G-tube fed, seizure disorder, cognitively approximately 6-9 months old). Will, 15, has severe ADHD and dyslexia, and Ellie, 11, – who I described for years as my [finally!] “typical” child [albeit with something of a princess complex] – was diagnosed in third grade with ADHD/dyslexia (although, a significantly milder case than Will’s).  I have a 4-year degree in psychology and a 2-year degree in nursing.  I worked for approximately ten years as a registered nurse on the medical unit at Seattle Children’s Hospital, but gave up my career to focus on the growing needs of my family. When I was 40 I set out to get rid of the 10 souvenir pounds I had collected from each of my four pregnancies. In the process, I found my inner jock, and I now love to run and I’m addicted to Zumba. Other than that, I read every minute I can.

Wolf: If you had to pick a weapon, what would it be and why?

Stephanie: A pen. I’m not a violent person (unless someone messes up my clean house, and in that case I have the lethal mom glare ever at the ready). I do, however, enjoy working my frustrations out on the page, and some people can definitely get burned by that. It’s the very reason I changed all the names in With Angel’s Wings – fear of retaliation from those who ARE violent people!

Wolf: What is the meanest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?

Stephanie: Well, given that I’ve only written a memoir, I suppose the meanest thing I’ve ever done to a “character” is to be honest about his/her poor behavior. As the reviews to With Angel’s Wings will testify to, my ex-husband’s behavior allowed me to be VERY mean…very, very mean…

Wolf: Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?

Stephanie: I’ve had dogs and I love dogs. My sheltie and I did agility for years and I loved it. Now that I’m older, though, and lack the enthusiasm and energy often required for dog ownership, I’m enjoying cats much more. Potty training, racket when someone knocks on the door…not an issue, yet you can still enjoy the warm cuddles.

Wolf: I do agility with my dog. We love it. If you could have a super power, what would it be?

Stephanie: If it were possible, I would have the power to read the minds of those unable to communicate with us. I would choose that super power ANY time over any other, ever. One of the biggest challenges of special needs parenting is the constant second-guessing and chronic guilt trips. If I could ask questions like, “What’s hurting?”, “What would you like?”, “Are you happy?”, “Do you understand?”, without having to completely guess at the answers, I would have hope of a life weighed down by far less guilt as a special needs mom.

Wolf: The world is about to end. What is the first thing you do?

Stephanie: Clean the house. I’d be desperate for SOMETHING I can control, and if I’m going out, I don’t want any random person or zombie who might survive the apocalypse to think I kept a messy house!

Wolf: What story are you working on now?

Stephanie: I am helping my (11-year-old) daughter with a middle grade series. It started almost by accident late last summer. I was nagging at her to get off electronics, and she said, “Well, what should I DO, then?!” I said, “I don’t know; write me a story!” I half expected her to ignore my suggestion and go back to trying to negotiate more screen time. Instead, she started with a story idea, formulated a plot, did some character development and wrote an outline to her chapters. We worked on it throughout the fall, and her first book, Daisy, Bold & Beautiful is now with the editor, due back in the next week or so. We hope to publish on April 1st, and we’re super-excited!  😊

Wolf: That’s fantastic. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Stephanie: I like to go out in the neighborhood on either long, brisk walks or runs. I feel refreshed when I get back home, and a great and interesting side effect is that I do my best “writer thinking” when I’m out pounding the pavement. There’s something about the exercise that gets the creative juices flowing!

Wolf: How did you come to write With Angel’s Wings?

Cover with KudosStephanie: In what felt like the blink of an eye, I went from being a young woman wrestling with a temperamental marriage to a single mother of an asthmatic, autistic toddler and an epileptic infant in heart failure. There were suddenly an overabundance of WTF moments, OMG moments, and “I can’t even remotely believe this is happening” moments. I began writing therapeutically, and I found my recollections came in layers. I would first write what happened (like, the baby stopped breathing in my arms, but I didn’t start CPR right away as I should have), and I would think, “Oh, I handled that horribly; I’m such a rotten mother!”  Then I’d remember, “Oh yeah; this was going on, too,” (like, the fact that I was a young, sleep-deprived, postpartum mother who had just bore witness to hours of failed IV attempts, was reeling over a rare, potentially fatal diagnosis, holding onto hope for survival, but not having any idea what that survival would actually mean for me or my baby, while simultaneously preparing myself for the very real possibility of her passing…oh, and also “mourning the death of the healthy child I thought I had” before receiving her diagnosis just weeks earlier). Then it would hit me that 3 other things were happening at the same time (for instance, a failing marriage, pathetic financial woes, and my other daughter’s increasingly bizarre behaviors), and so…if that portion of my parenting career didn’t exactly resemble June Cleaver, well…no wonder! Those were some pretty extreme circumstances!

Then other people (specifically nurses and therapists) began to read what I had written, and said things like, “Wow, I’m working with another family right now, and I’m certain the mom is struggling with the feelings you wrote about here, but she doesn’t seem comfortable sharing her thoughts. I think she’s ashamed or afraid to open up, and I think reading something like this would really help her to know she’s not alone…that the way she’s responding to what life is throwing at her right now is only natural.” After many similar comments, I decided to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and bear my exposed, bleeding heart to the world. I figured if sharing my tale would help just one family facing similar challenges, my fear of criticism from the rest of the reading world would all be well worth it.

Social Media Links:

Website:                http://www.withangelswings.net

Trailer:                  http://youtu.be/d1feuCdh8dc (English)

Facebook:              (Book) https://www.facebook.com/withangelswings

(Author) https://www.facebook.com/catnsarah

Goodreads:           https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18642531-with-angel-s-wings

Google Plus:         https://plus.google.com/u/0/+StephanieCollinsAuthor/posts

Twitter:                  https://twitter.com/W_Angels_Wings

Blog:                      https://withangelswingsepilogue.blogspot.com/

 

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Quotations on Character

Love these little words of wisdom.

charles french words reading and writing

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(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

                                                                     Maya Angelou

M0015415 Sophocles, from the bust in the Lateran, Rome.

(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.”

                                                                          Sophocles

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(https://pixabay.com)

“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”

                                         …

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WOLF NOTES: An Uncommon Interview – Matt Fuchs

081Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives. Say hello to Matt Fuchs.

megreenshirt3Matt Fuchs writes speculative fiction. In his novella Rise of Hypnodrome, published with CCLaP in 2015, a political faction called the Lifestyle Party rises to power under the presidency of Deepak Chopra and rolls out a policy agenda to maximize personal happiness. Matt tells stories about enlightened AI and fringe political ideas taking over. Links to his work appearing in Compelling Science Fiction, Centropic Oracle, Allegory, Every Day Fiction, and more can be found at fuchswriter.com. Other endeavors include law review articles on the first amendment and magazine pieces about adventure eating. He hasn’t figured out yet how to combine the two topics.

Wolf: If you could be any animal in the universe, what would it be and why?
Matt: The backward-aging jellyfish. When it starts to die, it can reverse the aging process to the larva stage and then it grows into an adult again.

Wolf: That’s really cool. What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
Matt: I’ve tried a bunch of stuff including worms, crickets, and tuna eyeballs. But the food that I physically rejected, as in threw up on an East Village sidewalk, was a goat platter covered in a curry called p’haal, which is laced with spices that Indian farmers smear on their fences to keep elephants from their crops.

Wolf: I think I’ll stay away from that one. What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
Matt: I turned a character into a god. Can’t beat that.

Wolf: What is the meanest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
Matt: Dying alone. It’s happened to quite a few of my characters!

Wolf: You’ve just been turned into a plant. Describe yourself.
Matt: I need people’s emotions to photosynthesize. Sunlight and nutrients do nothing for me, but I crave human sadness, jealousy and enthusiasm, especially when these feelings are experienced within a few feet of my leaves. It makes me grow and blossom. Apathy makes me wilt.

Wolf: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Matt: The ability to change the timespan of a given day from 24 hours to any duration of my choosing.

Wolf: I’d love to have that one! If you had to pick a weapon, what would it be and why?
Matt: It’d be a weapon of the mind like telepathy. I would communicate responsibly to make the world a better place, or I’d more likely end up planting ideas in people’s heads about me being ridiculously smart and good-looking.

Wolf: What five items would you want to have in a post-cataclysmic world?
Matt: Number one, a machine that magically produces rivers of cold brew coffee. My tennis racquet. At least one other person so I don’t have to make friends with beach balls. Books for entertainment since it’s boring when everything is destroyed, unless zombies are chasing me. Also right after the apocalypse a time machine would be great!

Wolf: Great ideas. Describe a meal you would be served while visiting another world.
Matt: Humans are the enemies of the species inhabiting this world, so I’ve disguised myself as another breed of alien, one that’s on better diplomatic terms, to avoid capture. I’m hanging out with the emperor, who serves me a delicacy stolen from earth. Pan-fried humans! What do I do?

Wolf: Don’t have an answer for you. What story are you working on now?
Matt: A single dad raising his young daughter who is 60 percent robot.

 
Social Media Links: @FuchsWriter

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Mirage

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“Damn it, Joe. We’ve been searching for hours. That pet of yours could be anywhere.”

Joe bit his lip as he scanned the landscape. “She’s just playing hide and seek. We’ll find her.”

Billy wiped the sweat from his face. “No we won’t. That chameleon could be right in front of us and we wouldn’t see it. You should never have let it outside.”

“Wasn’t right to keep her locked up. Creature like that needs to fly.”

“Well it flew alright, probably into the next county. Let them deal with it.”

“I’m not giving up.”

“Well I’m hot, tired, and I’ve seen at least four disappearing ponds. I need a drink.”

“Let’s just check the next few sand dunes. She’s got to be close.” He gave a shrill whistle and trudged up the next sandy slope. “Come on baby, where are you? Come to papa.”

“Get real, Joe. It’s a bloody reptile, not a dog.”

Joe felt heat flush his face. He glared at Billy. “She’s smarter than any dog.”

“Not even close. My…what the….”

Sand shifted under Billy’s feet, and he tumbled down the dune. A pair of fist sized golden orbs peered at Joe, then Billy’s prone figure. Rows of jagged teeth appeared and a rumbling laugh filled the air.

“There’s my little Mirage,” said Joe. Her tail thrashed back and forth as he scratched behind her leathery wing. “You showed him who’s smarter. Great camouflage.”

Billy sighed. “You win, but you’re concept of size is really skewed.”

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WOLF NOTES: An Uncommon Interview – Peter Pollak

081Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.

This week Peter Pollak stopped by for a visit.Selfie.2015

Wolf: Welcome to Wolf Notes, Peter. Tell us a little about yourself:
Peter: Born in upstate New York to refugee parents from Nazi Europe, I wanted to write stories from the time as a teenager I finished Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel. That was the first time I realized what writing could accomplish—namely, it could give me a vehicle to reveal who I am, what is important to me, and at the same time give pleasure to others. Not equipped at that point to write anything anyone would want to read I postponed that ambition until I retired from my careers as a journalist, educator, and entrepreneur in 2007 and told myself, “it’s now or never.” Six novels later, I’m not ready to slow down.

Wolf: If you could be any animal in the universe, what would it be and why?
Peter:  A lion because I was born under the sign Leo.

Wolf: What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
Peter:  Some of my own cooking.

Wolf: That’s funny. If you had to pick a weapon, what would it be and why?
Peter: That depends on the circumstances, but if someone dangerous was about to break down my front door, a double-gauge shotgun would be handy.

Wolf: What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
Peter: Give them a voice. Of course, they’re not real, but they represent reality as I see it. They become real to many of my readers as well.

Wolf: What is the meanest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
Peter: Put them up against insurmountable odds and really nasty antagonists.

Wolf: You’ve just been turned into a plant. Describe yourself.
Peter: As a plant I lack consciousness and therefore can’t describe what I don’t know.

Wolf: Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?
Peter: Dog person. Cats are too independent while dogs can lift up one’s spirit by the way they welcome you when you’ve been away or take them out to the park to play.

Wolf: While walking in the woods you come across…
Peter: While walking in the woods, I come across signs of a struggle in a small clearing. There’s fur and blood on the ground and broken branches and matted down grasses. I begin to search the area to find clues to what took place, and at first I come up empty, but then I see it . . . the outline of a body. I’m almost afraid to approach given that the victor might be near by, but I have to know if it’s still alive. The body is partly hidden by a thicket of brush. I move closer one step at a time and start to push open the bush, but prickles grab at my hands and shirt. I pull back. Picking up two branches from the ground, I use them to part the bush. What in the . . .? The body is covered in grey fur, but has legs and arms like a human. It is the size of a child and its head resembles a rodent with a snout rather than a nose. I poke it with one of the sticks. It doesn’t move. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a voice says. I jump back and turn around. There stands a tall creature with an elephant head—a short trunk and large ears, but the eyes—the eyes are human. I’m not sure how I made it out of the woods alive, but I’m warning you. Stay away from the university’s forest preserve. You may not come back alive.

Wolf: Makes you wonder what they are experimenting on. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Peter: All of them.

Wolf: So you’d be a super super hero. There is a door at the end of dark, damp corridor. You hear rumbling. What do you do?
Peter: I’ve come to the end of a dark, damp corridor. I entered the corridor in the basement of a university building that is no longer being used while searching for the right office to renew my parking permit. It was out of that ridiculous curiosity that always gets me in trouble. I just had to know where the corridor went. I stand in front of the door debating whether to open it when a sound that I must have been ignoring breaks through my consciousness. It’s a rumbling sound like water rushing through a channel with nothing impeding its progress. The door is my only hope. I reach for it and then . . .

Wolf: The world is about to end. What is the first thing you do?
Peter: Tell the nut-job who keeps telling me that to get a life.

Wolf: Which of your characters is your favorite?
Peter: I like Nick Grocchi, the protagonist in my first novel, The Expendable Man, because he represents an everyman­­––someone who isn’t in a great place in his life in part because he’s the kind of person who doesn’t think much about the future. He just acts on his instincts and as of late they have failed him. Now all of a sudden he’s in deep do-do and he’s got to change his approach to life if he’s to have any chance of surviving.

Wolf: Describe a meal you would be served while visiting another world.
Peter: I guess I’m supposed to eat what’s on the plate that’s been placed in front of me, but I can’t really describe it because I’m on another world and don’t even know the language. I look around and everyone’s looking at me. No one is eating the food in front of them. I look down at the piles––one looks like head cheese, another like large un-ripened grapes, and the third is a red puddle that resembles blood. Instead I pull out a Snickers bar and take a bit and pass it to the person on my right. “Try it, you’ll like it,” I tell him/her/it.

Wolf: What story are you working on now?
Peter: I’m revising my fantasy novel that I call The Way. It’s a coming of age story involving multiple protagonists which is probably why it has taken me years to finish. At the same time I’d like to make some progress on another thriller—this one featuring a female FBI protagonist who comes from the most unusual background.

Wolf: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Peter: Read, play Words with Friends, watch a very small number of TV shows with my wife—small because I can only find a small number worth watching, play golf and especially take walks when the weather permits.

Wolf: Why do you write—is it to make money or fulfill some void in your life?
Peter: The answer is neither of the above. I’ve nurtured a story telling craft over the course of my life by reading and trying to write stories to the point where I have what I think are some interesting story ideas and I’d like to find out if I can pull them off. Writing to me is like doing the crossword puzzle in the newspaper. Every morning I can’t wait to get to that day’s puzzle to see if I can find the proper word; in terms of writing I sit down wondering if I can find the proper sentences to make the characters come alive.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://petergpollak.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pgpollak
Twitter: @petergpollak
Linked-In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pgpollak/

Picture(s): Attach as separate JPG file(s).

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