Saturday, July 4, 2015

Welcome to an interview with Prolific Author Melissa Bowersock...

      Hello one and all! How are you today? I'm back and hope everyone is doing well and happy! It’s so great to be with all of you again. Welcome back to my writing blog page where I try to share whatever I think may interest you. Today I interview another fellow author. With me this time is award winning and eclectic author Melissa Bowersock where she discusses writing and her latest release, Fleischerhaus, which was released on June 1, 2014 in both paperback and e-book. 

     Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning author who writes in a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres. She began writing stories at the age of 5, completed her first novel at 12 and has never stopped. Her work spans several genres from action to romance to fantasy to paranormal, spiritual and satire, and she never tells the same story twice.  She also wrote and published the award-winning true story of her aunt, an Army nurse and POW during WWII (Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan. she published a collection of the full first chapters of her 12 novels, called A Novel Idea.  She has been both traditionally and independently published and is a regular contributor to the superblog Indies Unlimited. She lives in a small community in northern Arizona with her husband and an Airedale terrier. She also writes under the pen name Amber Flame. Additionally, she has edited and published books by and about her father, artist Howard Munns.    
 Photo of Melissa.

SJ) Welcome Melissa and thanks for joining us here…. If it‘s all right with you, Melissa, I‘d like to begin with your experiences in traditional and self-publishing.   Why did you choose to publish in both? As a multi-published author, do you like one over the author? Why or why not?

Melissa: I’m not sure how much of this journey was choice and how much was being funneled forward by the changes in the industry. I began writing seriously in the late 70s, and had my first really marketable book by the early 80s. At that time, I wrote longhand and by the time I was done with it, I was wanting to start writing a new one, not type up the first one. Luckily my mother offered to do that for me. As she typed, of course, she read, and she thought it was worth publishing. She just happened to know an agent and without even telling me, she gave him the manuscript. He agreed to take it on and before I knew it, my first book was sold to a NY house.  As that one was making its way through the lumbering traditional publishing process, they asked me if I had any others, and it just so happened that I did. I sent them the second one and they picked that one up as well.
At that point, I figured I had a pretty clear path to future books. Not so. I changed genres, which I found threw me to the back of the line. Having proven yourself in one genre does not translate to others, so I was back at square one. The industry was starting to change in drastic ways as well, and the traditional houses were getting more and more gun-shy about taking on unknowns or barely-knowns. Luckily, a lot of small presses were springing up to take up the slack, and there were several author showcases on the web where writers could post excerpts of work that would be perused by agents and editors. I actually sold three books that way, all to small presses.
Shortly after that, my original two books had had their runs and the publisher resigned the rights back to me. I wanted some way to keep them viable, so I published them through iUniverse, about the only affordable option at that time.  Shortly after that, I found out about CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing arm, and as I had several books complete but unpublished, I decided to try it out. The first time was a learning process, but the results were wonderful—I could publish my own book, my own way, with my own title and cover. When I realized I could self-publish more quickly, easily, and for very little money (like $10), I was hooked. I’ve been indie ever since and have never looked back.

SJ) Can you briefly tell us why you write in so many genres? Do you prefer one over another? Is one genre easier for you to write than another?

Melissa: Again, I didn’t so much choose to be multi-genre as it chose me. I write whatever story captures my imagination, and it just happens that the genres vary from story to story.  I began with historical romance, switched to fantasy, satire, action/adventure, spiritual and paranormal. I much prefer paranormal above anything else; I have always loved stories that had just a touch of magic to them. But I don’t sit down and say, “Think I’ll write a fantasy.” The story comes to me and demands to be written. I never know what the next one will be.

 Front Cover.

SJ) What was your inspiration for your current release, Fleischerhaus? Can you tell us a little bit of how the idea came about?
Melissa: Fleischerhaus is the story of a woman who experiences a past-life memory of being murdered during the Holocaust. I actually got the kernel of the story years ago. I was talking with a friend about reincarnation and she told me she had been in Germany touring a concentration camp when she had a vision of bodies hanging from beams in one old building. She felt very strongly that she had been a prisoner there and had witnessed many atrocities. I tucked that story away in my brain for years and finally it began to gather some momentum to the point that I needed to start writing it down.  

SJ) What do you love most about being a writer? Least?

Melissa: The thing I love the most is having an idea speak to me, then as I write, having it come alive on the paper. I don’t do a lot of planning out; I will write out a bullet list of maybe 5 or 10 main plot points, but I don’t outline or plan in detail. I sit down to write and let the story evolve as it flows out of me. Very often the characters surprise me, and it’s not unusual for me to not have any idea where the story is going or how it’s going to end. That may be surprising to some, but it’s true. With Fleischerhaus, I got close to the end and realized I didn’t have a clue how it was going to resolve itself. I finally settled on three possible scenarios, and I imagined each, how they would play out and how they would feel.  Two felt unsatisfactory, mechanical and forced. Only one felt like it flowed naturally. That’s the one I chose. But I love the organic quality of writing like this. I love being as surprised by the story as my readers are.
The thing I love the least is when a story doesn’t flow, when I have to pull it out of my head like I’m pulling teeth. My current WIP is going very slowly, which is sometimes discouraging, but I know it will come eventually. I wish they all just rushed out like a wide-open tap, but I’ve learned that they all come differently and I just have to take them as they do.

SJ) What writer inspired you most and how?

Melissa: I read voraciously as a kid, so many authors created stories of wonder and adventure in my life. I doubt I could list them all, or even remember them all. As a teen, I loved the Black Stallion novels of Walter Farley. When Stephen King’s The Stand came out, that—to me—was an instant classic. I enjoy all of Marlys  Millhiser’s books, but especially The Mirror, and Rita Mae Brown’s Six of One is another book I read again and again.   I think the reason all these authors and books stick with me is because they all have complex story lines and complex, fascinating characters. I like a book with many layers, stories I have to think about, stories that ask as many questions as they answer. And good writing like this inspires me to write my best.

SJ) If you could give just one piece of important writing advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?

Melissa: Keep at it. Even if you only write one paragraph a day, or one sentence, keep at it. When you first sit down, thinking that you might write a 600-page book seems unreal, but if you keep at it, you just never know what you can accomplish.

SJ) In closing, Melissa, what is a favorite book you enjoyed reading and would recommend without hesitation? Why?

Melissa: My favorite book on the planet is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Irving is streaky, and not all of his books are compelling, but this one is magical. I re-read it about every year, and it still makes me cry, still makes me laugh out loud. It is just sublime. 
     Thanks so much, S.J. for having me. It’s been fun, and you’ve asked some great questions.

Thank you, Melissa for allowing use to take some time out of your busy schedule and interview you about your writing. Keep writing. Readers, take note you may purchase a copy of Fleischerhaus or any of her books at her website at:        

Back Cover.

But before we go, it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t share the synopsis for Fleischerhaus:

      Julia Martin, newly-divorced but still reeling from her husband’s infidelity, takes a much needed vacation to visit old college friends in Germany. While touring a little-known concentration camp and museum, she spontaneously experiences a violent past life memory of being murdered in this very camp during the Holocaust. Efforts to understand her memories only lead to more questions, the largest being: is her killer still alive? Supported by her friends and comforted in the arms of a handsome doctor, Julia attempts to uncover the mysteries of her past life and find justice for the person she used to be. 

      Interested? Then here’s an excerpt from Fleischerhaus: Read on and enjoy:




JULY, 2003 

The bucolic German countryside breezed by, wandering sheep and a few lazy cows in direct contrast to the racing bike Julia propelled over the dirt lane. Her blonde hair flying in the late July breeze, she couldn’t get over how clear the air was here, how sharp everything looked. It was as if she’d been living under water all her life and now suddenly she’d been thrust up out of the bleary depths into startling clarity. She couldn’t seem to get enough of it.

“Jules,” her friend Maggie laughed from her own bike, “you’d better watch the road. This isn’t Venice Beach. If you hit a rock or a pothole while you’re gawking around, you’ll go flying.”

Chagrinned, Julia dragged her green eyes from the thickly forested hillsides and the rolling pastures. “I can see why you love it here,” she said. “It really is gorgeous. I thought you were nuts when you said you and Denis were moving here.”

“Well, if you’ll remember, I wasn’t completely crazy about the idea at first, but I have certainly come to love it,” Maggie said. “Like any born and bred Californian, I thought this was the back of beyond, but after a while I realized I enjoyed the peace and quiet, the lack of malls and freeways. It really is almost a fairy-tale existence.”

“Complete with Prince Charming,” Julia noted. “I think you’d be happy living on a pig farm if you had Denis there with you.”

“Well,” Maggie allowed cheerfully, “that helps.”

Julia fell silent, her friend’s quiet happiness in sharp relief against her own new emptiness. It still pained her to remember that gaping hole in her life where her own husband used to be. She wasn’t sure what was worse, the loss of him or the fact that he had wandered so blithely, hardly even considering what his infidelity would do to her. She supposed that lack of consideration had actually underscored their entire married life, but she’d never been forced to arm wrestle with it until he confessed to the affair. Why hadn’t she seen it coming? Try as she might, she could not see the signs, even in the rear-view mirror. Had she been too naïve? Had he been too smooth?

“I’m so sorry,” Maggie said softly. Julia looked over to see the concern in her friend’s blue eyes and realized she’d sunken into the now familiar silent reverie that seemed to occupy her every day.

“Shit, Mags, I’m the one who’s sorry,” she said forcefully. “Why my brain insists on climbing back onto that hamster wheel and rehashing the whole thing over and over again, I’ll never know. I go over the same ground every time and it never changes, it never resolves, it never reduces down to an equation I can understand, accept and walk away from. I just keep going through it again and again.”

“It’s only been a few months,” Maggie reminded her gently. “You don’t undo eight years of life in six months.”

“I know,” she sighed. “But you know what the worst part is? I feel like I don’t know what’s real anymore, what’s true. Hell, I thought we had a pretty good thing going, better than most. I mean, sure, there were days we weren’t on the same page, things we disagreed on, but all in all I thought we were pretty happy. To find out it wasn’t that way at all … well, it just makes me wonder what else I’m not seeing clearly. I don’t trust my own judgment anymore. I see things one way and then wonder if they’re actually different.” She shook her head. “It really rocked me, a lot more than I would have believed.”

“I guess,” Maggie said slowly, “when you put it like that, it would be normal to start questioning everything, but I hope you’re not being too hard on yourself. You’re one of the most down-to-earth people I know, Jules. You’ve never been flaky, never been an airhead, so I don’t think it’s fair to start rethinking everything you’ve ever believed. You never expected Jack to stray, so you weren’t looking for it. He did the unexpected. That doesn’t invalidate everything you know.”

Julia nodded, not completely convinced. “I guess.” She sighed. “But I just hate sliding into that zone, obsessing about it at the drop of a hat. And I don’t want you to feel like your happy marriage makes it worse for me. It doesn’t. I love seeing you and Denis together. You guys are great. You two let me know that honest, respectful relationships really do exist. And the way Denis is with Marita—he’s definitely a keeper.”

“That he is,” Maggie agreed happily, nodding her dark head. “His offering to keep her today while we go exploring is pretty normal for him. He’s such a good dad, and Marita just adores him. Sometimes I feel a little pang over how close they are, but in a few months I’ll have my hands full with the baby, so I don’t think I’ll have any room to complain.”

“I don’t think so, either,” Julia said, and her meaning was unmistakable.

Both women had entered USC with no more ulterior motive than to get the education they needed to have the careers they envisioned, Maggie in medicine and Julia in teaching. The fact that each had found and married a compatible partner deterred neither from her course, and for a while it seemed they had it all—satisfying career and nurturing home and family. When Julia’s marriage fell apart, the rock-hard foundations of her life had dissolved suddenly into quicksand.

“At least,” she said, voicing the thought Maggie had kept silent, “we didn’t have any kids. I can thank God that Jack wanted to wait on that.”

“Absolutely,” Maggie agreed. “It would be so much harder to start over with small kids, plus you’d be tied to Jack forever through them. This way it’s pretty much a clean break.”

“I made sure it was,” Julia nodded. “I even traded my stake in his pension for his half of the house. I didn’t want anything tying us together, least of all money. This way we can go our separate ways and not look back.”

“Well, it’s great that you took the summer off to come over here. I think it’ll be a wonderful interim for you, a time when you can relax and just enjoy yourself and recharge your batteries. At the end of the summer it’ll be time to switch gears again, but by then you’ll probably be frothing at the mouth to get back to work.”

“I’ve wanted to see your place ever since you moved here, but there just never seemed a convenient time to do it,” Julia said. “Now that I’m here, I wish I had come years ago.”

“We’ll do our best to make it worth the wait,” Maggie laughed. “When we get to town, I’ll show you our clinic and we’ll eat lunch at a tiny little café and buy fresh-baked bread and do all those European—”

“What’s that?” Julia interrupted. She pointed to a collection of small white bungalows in a clearing amid the trees. A neat white fence bordered the property, speaking of care. A small parking lot had one car in it. “Couldn’t be a school out here, could it?” Her teacher’s curiosity sparked to attention.

“No, it’s a museum,” Maggie said. “This was a work camp during World War II. I’ve actually only been there once, and that was years ago.”

“Work camp?” Julia repeated suspiciously. “Does that mean ...?”

“Concentration camp?” Maggie finished. “Yes, unfortunately. It wasn’t a big one and didn’t have the ovens or anything like that, but over a thousand Jews died there, as well as others, mostly from starvation and exposure. There’re several mass graves in the back. It’s very tragic, of course, but they do a nice job of honoring the victims. We can stop there sometime, if you want.”

“Can we stop now?” Julia surprised even herself with the hasty request.

“Now?” Maggie repeated. “Well, sure, if you want to. We’ve got no schedule today; we can do whatever we want.”

“Yeah, let’s stop,” Julia said. In her new unattached state, yielding to the sudden pull of the place seemed a small celebration amid the pain. Maybe she really had gotten kind of pedantic without realizing it. How long had it been since she’d done something so impulsive?

The two women steered their bikes onto the car-wide lane that snaked through the trees. The morning sun slanted intermittently through the trees, its yellow rays alive with dust motes and tiny insects. A slight breeze barely fluttered the leaves around them. The setting was so peaceful, Julia thought, how could anyone envision a death camp here?

They parked their bikes in a rack in front of the main building, the small sign reading only Fleischerhaus. Julia had to wonder if it were the kind of thing where everyone knew the story so no explanation was necessary, or if it were a subtle sense of shame that precluded any larger advertising. Any monument to victims that died here had also to be a monument to the native Germans who lived nearby and turned a blind eye to the Nazi atrocities. She couldn’t imagine anyone coming through that war unscathed, no matter how hard they may have tried to go about normal lives. In a conflict like that, there was just no room for neutrality.

“The fences are all gone, of course, but they’ve set markers in the ground where they used to be,” Maggie explained as they walked past the flowerbeds toward the front door. “All of these bungalows are the originals, just restored.”

Julia nodded, but thought restored might not be the right word. She doubted that this place ever looked as homey as it did now. Certainly the startling white paint and the multi-colored flowerbeds were never a part of the original experience.

“What does Fleischerhaus mean?” she asked. “I think haus is house, right?”

“Yes. Fleischer means butcher.”

“So, butcher’s house.” Julia shivered. “Ug.”

They went inside. A docent behind a desk welcomed them and spoke with Maggie. Julia noticed a collection box and slipped a couple Euros into the slot. The walls were covered with black and white photos as well as racks of books about the war.

“She said there’s a self-guided tour,” Maggie said as she joined Julia at the bank of pictures. “I’ve got a guide brochure here. There are four other buildings beside this one.”

“Look at the children,” Julia noted, pointing to a picture of school-age children working an unpromising plot of ground. Sadly she realized these kids were the same age as her students back home.

“Yes,” Maggie said, “unfortunately whole families were brought here. I believe the youngest to die here was a child of two.”

“Were they all Jews?” Julia asked.

“Primarily. There was a scattering of other ‘undesirables:’ homosexuals, political prisoners, other non-Germans. I suppose the good news is that this area has always been composed of small villages, so there was never a large population of any particular group. I think that alone kept this operation small.”

Scanning the photos along the wall, Julia was dismayed at the expressions on the faces. She saw the fire of defiance, anger and hatred, the pain of hopelessness and despair, the shuttered look of resignation. Somehow that blank stare was the worst. To her, it looked like those who had abandoned all feeling were dead already. But in what ocean of pain and degradation had they swum before they slipped beneath the surface? How much had they endured before they shut down so completely?

“Let’s go outside,” she said, wondering now whatever possessed her to want to come in. She hadn’t been prepared to see faces, or for the onslaught of emotions that tore at her.

Leading the way out the back door, she stepped down the two stairs onto a concrete path. The path led around the perimeter of the grounds and branched to the other buildings as well. Needing the open space and the fresh air, Julia turned right along the perimeter.

“Boy, it felt so heavy in there,” she told Maggie. “The emotions are just overwhelming.”

“I know,” Maggie agreed. “It’s such a horrible thing that you don’t even want to be reminded, you don’t want to hear about it or think about it, but it’s exactly because it’s so awful that we have to remind ourselves. We have to keep it fresh so it never happens again.”

“Amen,” Julia murmured.

“Here’s that garden area that was in the picture,” Maggie said as they neared a marker. Scanning the brochure, she said, “They mostly raised potatoes, but some other vegetables as well. When the people got so emaciated that they couldn’t work, the gardening stopped.”

Julia scanned the ordinary plot of dirt, imagining stick-thin people scrounging in the earth for shriveled potatoes. Immense sadness settled around her.

“How long was this place in operation?” she asked. Standing at the corner of the grounds looking back at the bungalows, she realized the quaint, unremarkable collection of buildings could never align in her head with the atrocities that must have happened here. The peaceful image before her and the sense of the destruction would always be at odds with each other.

“Four years. Long enough for hundreds to die.”

Julia nodded. They walked the perimeter to the back of the property where markers denoted mass graves. Physically there was nothing to delineate the graves except the slight rise of the ground. Lush grass covered the area, dotted with small summer flowers that grew wild. This should be a picnic area, she thought when she looked at the cool grass and the tiny flowers nodding in the breeze, but her mind imagined a picnic table set over a pit stuffed with wailing, suffocating people. She shivered and walked on.

“This next building had been the officers’ quarters,” Maggie read. “The one dormitory that’s been restored is that last building before we turn back to the visitor’s center.”

The officers’ quarters could have been any military “home.” Austere but comfortable, it had several bedrooms, a large kitchen, a genial front room. The large front windows had heavy, dark drapes that could be drawn against the sight of the emaciated prisoners on the grounds. Was it really that easy to block out? Julia wondered.

 “I guess the ‘lucky’ ones, if you could call them that, were the ones who were recruited to take care of the officers,” Maggie paraphrased from the guidebook.

Julia shook her head. “The truly lucky ones were the ones who were killed outright,” she said. She could envision a bold young man trying to escape one of the periodic round-ups, imagine him breaking away and running. The cowed others would see him summarily shot and they would go docilely wherever they were herded, thinking they were better off than the man lying dead in the street. Of course they wouldn’t know they were wrong until it was too late.

Leaving the officers’ quarters, Julia found herself not caring to touch anything, as if the horrific machinery of the past were somehow imbued with an evil that could transfer to her through touch. As before, she felt much better stepping out into the sunlight again.

A smaller building sat behind the officers’ quarters. There was no sign on it, but Julia felt a morbid curiosity about it. “What’s that?” she asked Maggie.

Maggie scanned the guidebook. “Storage building,” she said. “The dormitory is over this way.” She indicated the path that would lead them to the last large building and then return them to the front of the property.

“I want to see this first,” Julia said, and headed for the storage building.

She felt a peculiar prickling sensation in her head. A headache? She didn’t think so. The sensation itself was not unpleasant, just ... unusual. She couldn’t remember ever feeling anything quite like it. She walked to the door of the storage building and reached for the doorknob, then found herself immediately, uncontrollably, shrinking back.

Get a grip, she thought. How much misery can be stamped on a storage building? But she seemed powerless to open the door.

“Jules?” Maggie queried from behind her.

Willing herself through the curtain of dread that seemed to keep her stationary, she swallowed and reached for the door. The knob turned easily in her hand—not with difficulty, as with a rusting mechanism as she had expected—and the door swung open. There was no odor, although she expected one: the musty, powdery smell of bulk flour or grain, the earthy smell of raw potatoes. After the brightness of outdoors, the windowless building was dark but she forced herself to step up into the dimness and let her eyes adjust.

The room was distinctly unremarkable. Blank white walls held a few pictures of prisoners in a food line, holding dirty, dented metal plates, each being served a single smallish potato in a thin gruel. A small table nearby held one of those plates. A desk in the opposite corner was empty except for a roster of supplies under glass. Rough burlap sacks were stacked against one wall, but when Julia peeked into the loose opening of one, she saw it held only rocks.

The prickling sensation in Julia’s head intensified. Her vision began to swim slightly, as if her eyes were crossing and she could not get them to line up correctly. Instead of the clean white walls, she saw dingy raw wood and signs tacked up with flat metal thumbtacks. The paper signs seemed to flutter as if a breeze disturbed them, and the blurry picture revolved slowly around and beyond her sight of the actual room before her. She felt her stomach turn over, as if the moving images were making her nauseous. A heavy dread descended on her and she wiped damp palms on her thighs.

“Nothing much here,” Maggie said behind her.

But there was, Julia realized. There was a door behind the desk. A door ... to another room. Clamping her jaws tight against the sickness that threatened to well up in her throat, she crossed to the door and put her hand on the knob. Every nerve in her body screamed out against opening it, but she fought through the intense panic and turned the knob. The door swung open to another, smaller room, as she had known it would.

Her eyes jumped about the room, looking for things that she did not want to see but that should have been there. A ghostly vision of clutter—boxes, wooden boards, stacks of burlap bags and ropes, a crude wooden palette with a thin ticking on top—was superimposed over her view of the room as it currently was. The small windowless room was entirely empty but it felt oppressively crowded to her, as if she couldn’t move, she couldn’t breathe. The air in the room was thick, stifling her lungs. She felt herself struggling for breath. Chest heaving, sweat breaking out on her face, she had to fight to keep her feet as dizziness swamped her. She had the distinct feeling that her throat was closing, her airway shutting down. She heard small, harsh gurgling noises and realized they were coming from her own throat. Putting a hand to her throat, she saw the side door leading to outside and she lunged for it. Yanking the door open, she leaped as if the hounds of hell were after her and fell blindly down the two steps to sprawl on the grass outside.

“Jules!” Maggie called. She was instantly beside Julia and turning her limp body face up. Julia’s eyes were rolled back in her head and she gagged violently. When Julia fought to turn away from her friend, Maggie let her go and Julia vomited on the grass. Her entire body shuddered with the effort. Maggie sat quietly beside her and rubbed her back until the spasms stopped.

“Julia?” Maggie said softly. “Are you okay?”

Julia gulped in air and fought the bile that threatened to rise in her throat again. Slowly her head began to clear and she could open her eyes and see only the grass and trees before her. Raking in huge breaths, she turned back toward Maggie and struggled to sit up next to her friend. Maggie helped her with a supportive arm behind her back.

“You okay now?” she asked.

Julia nodded, still not quite trusting her voice. She looked around at the open grounds and was acutely relieved to notice that it all stayed put. She steadied herself with a few more deep breaths and finally faced Maggie.

“Jesus,” she said wearily.

Maggie felt her forehead. “You’re warm but you don’t feel like you have a fever,” she said. “I wonder if you’re catching something? Or if something at breakfast didn’t agree with you?”

Julia shook her head, then regretted it as the dizziness returned. She clamped her jaws tight and waited for it to pass.

“No,” she said finally, “it’s nothing like that.” She glanced over her shoulder at the small white building behind them. “It’s that,” she said, hooking a thumb in that direction.

Maggie looked back over her shoulder, clearly confused. “It’s what?” she asked. There was nothing there, at least nothing that would make anyone sick.

“Can you ... help me up?” Julia asked. She rolled to her knees and let Maggie pull her to her feet. “I’d like a drink of water.”

“Sure,” Maggie said. “Come on, let’s go back to the visitor’s center.”

“No,” Julia said firmly. “I want to stay outside. Over there.” She pointed to a bench set beneath a large tree just off the parking lot.

“Okay,” Maggie said. “Can you walk okay? I’ll go get you some water.”

Julia nodded and started across the grounds toward the bench. Maggie angled back toward the visitor’s center and found Julia beneath the tree a few minutes later.

“Thanks, Mags,” Julia said gratefully. She opened the small bottle of water and sipped it. The cool liquid felt heavenly on her rough throat. She sloshed some water around in her mouth and spit it out on the ground, then drank deeply. She held the cool bottle to her forehead.

“So, now,” Maggie said, watching her friend closely, “what did you mean back there? What do you think made you sick?”

Julia rolled the bottle across her forehead, stalling a bit. “This is going to sound nuts,” she started slowly, “but the truth is that I feel like I died in that room.”

Maggie sat silently, a blank look on her face. “What do you mean?” she asked finally, her brow knitted in confusion. “You only blacked out for just a few—”

“Not just now,” Julia said quickly. “Before. I think I died there, suffocated there ... like in another life.”

       Fascinated like I was? Want to read more? Here’s the purchase links for your convenience:


Kindle: ebook/dp/B00KPI2F5A/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid =

For more information about Melissa, writing and her books, please check out her website at:


    Thank you all for visiting with us. Until next month...every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey.  One person, one voice can make a difference.

    S. J. Francis
    Advocate for the underdog, and cat, et al.

    In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family."  Coming soon from Black Opal Books.   

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Copyright 2015 by S.J. Francis. No portion of this blog post may be reprinted, modified or used without written permission of the author.
Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and the guest author and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Welcome all to an Interview with Author Eva S. Nelson…..

Welcome all to an Interview with Author S. E. Nelson…..

      Hello one and all! How are you today? I'm back and hope everyone is doing well and happy! Welcome back to my writing blog page where I try to share whatever I think may interest you. Today I interview another fellow author. With me this time is human rights activist, S. E. Nelson.
Photo of S. E. Nelson.

     S.E Nelson works as a Consultant for the United Nations, and for SIMA which stands for Social Impact Media Awards. She is a published author of two award-winning novels. Her first novel "Nightmare Along the River Nile" is set in Uganda and Sudan. It is a story about a student who was abducted by the LRA and sold into slavery. The second novel "The Helpers" which is set in Democratic Republic of Congo, Europe and United States, is an International tale of espionage and corruption. “The Helpers” had now been made into a series. She is an advocate of human rights issues like anti human trafficking, protection of war children and child education. As a child, Nelson experienced wars caused by various regime changes in Uganda before moving to the United States.  Since then she has worked in Europe, Africa and United States.


SJ: If it’s all right with you, Eva, I’d like to begin with your advocacy for human rights and anti- human trafficking. You’re not the only author I’ve heard that has breached this subject, but still I barely hear about it. How big of a problem is human trafficking in our modern age?

SEN: My novel "Nightmare Along the River Nile" is about war and human trafficking. The latter being the dominant factor. The story was inspired by actual events that happened to many young boys and girls in northern Uganda in the 1990s. The story was conceived from many interviews that were conducted with survivors and former child soldiers who managed to escape the LRA. Kony the leader of the LRA had terrorized families in northern Uganda for more than a decade when I started writing this story. In was well known that he and his soldiers took girls to be their sex slaves. What was not known was that when he ran out money he started selling some of the people he abducted. All this was conducted in the bush so little was known about it.
     I have always been concerned with human rights because I grew up seeing hardship and inequities which disturbed me. Working for the UN was a way of trying to contribute in helping the developing world. My interest in Human Trafficking started while writing the book. Like most people I thought slavery was a thing of the past. When I got involved in the cause, I discovered that at present the world has over 27 million people in all forms of slavery which include: forced labor like child labor, adult labor, domestic labor and sex trafficking.


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Book Excerpt from Nightmare Along the River Nile:  (A Story of Twentieth Century Slavery)
     Written in simple English from an African perspective and in an African voice, this award-winning story will tug at your heartstrings. Edgar is heading home to visit his mother after finishing high school exams, when rebels belonging to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) ambush his bus. Edgar and other passengers, most of whom are students, are abducted and taken to the LRA headquarters deep in the mountains of southern Sudan. He finds himself caught up in a nightmare he never imagined and his life is forever changed.
      Edgar's friends learn of his fate and embark on a challenging and unpredictable rescue mission full of twists and turns. Can they find the strength to continue the difficult search? Can Edgar's faith sustain him long enough to escape the hell he is in? Find out in this compelling narrative about a young man and his loyal friends whose story will remain with you for a long time to come.
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SJ:) Can you briefly tell us more about SIMA? What is the Social Impact Media Awards and what it is you do with them?
SEN: SIMA is the first documentary and educational impact media competition that awards members of both the independent film and global humanitarian industries. It has grown to become an international film program and collection, curating the best impact cinema. SIMA is like the Academy awards but the recipients are film makers who create works about social justice, human rights and humanitarian development. SIMA awards creative visual storytelling that inspire activism, compassion and social transformation. My job is to connect SIMA with the UN entities, other organizations and individuals who want to partner with SIMA as donors or want to screen films for their events.


SJ: What was your inspiration for your two books? No doubt your job with the UN and SIMA influence your writing. Can you tell us a little bit of how the idea came about? What was your inspiration?
SEN: I was working with the UN when I started writing but not with SIMA. Unlike most writers, writing was not something that I pursued. I was aware of what the LRA were doing in northern Uganda and I had a lot of compassion for affected people but I did not feel connected in the beginning.  The story about the children and young adults who were escaping the LRA and coming back with horrifying firsthand accounts fell into my lap, and I felt compelled to write it. When I started writing I discovered that there more stories to tell and I continued writing.

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Book Excerpt from The Helpers: (An International Tale of Espionage and Corruption)    
      American journalist, Jenny Osborne, will not let fear stop her from getting a story. She is determined to report on the war between the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the rebels that is causing political and social turbulence within the country. But after she and her photojournalist, John Spencer, arrive in Kinshasa, they soon discover that things are not as they seem.
       Monsieur Lance Lemmand, a veteran French Intelligence Officer in DRC, suspects the hand of The Helpers in the current political unrest. He enlists his protégé, the brilliant and handsome Pierre-Jean Philippe, to help him investigate. When Kai, a local schoolgirl, who is hiding a deep dark, secret, decides to take action, she seeks out Jenny for help. Kai gives Jenny damaging information that could bring down The Helpers. But can Jenny survive long enough to fulfill her duty to Kai and fight her feelings for Pierre, while trying to achieve her ultimate goal?
       "The Helpers" find out that Jenny has obtained damaging information about them, they go after her with a vengeance. They will stop at nothing to prevent Jenny from exposing them. Jenny finds herself on the run, caught in a web of intrigue, espionage and assassinations, spanning from Congo to Europe, and as far reaching as the United States. Her only hope is to find Lance and Pierre. But will they find her before it is too late? Or will "The Helpers" silence them once and for all.

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SJ: What do you love most about being a writer? Least?
SEN: I am an avid reader. I love reading and escaping into the story. Writing is like that for me. I enjoy the escapism of writing, creating scenarios, characters and setting.  It takes two years or more to complete the novel since I only write during my free time and I have to do a lot of research, but I enjoy the entire process of writing.
Because of the types of books I would say that the downside is the emotional toll it takes to go deep into the characters state of mind and try to portray it honestly. Writing about Kai’s experiences in “The Helpers” was very difficult. I tried to omit some scenes but my developer insisted that I had to make the story real. This was tough.
Similarly writing about Edgar’s journey in “Nightmare Along the River Nile” was gut-wrenching. At the time most of the survivors didn’t want to tell their stories as they were afraid of retaliation from the LRA. The journey as described by survivors was treacherous. Many family members and friends of the captured youths attempted to bring them back, but few were successful. The tough part was making characters that were interesting, since the subject matter is very serious. No matter how many times I re-wrote or edited the story, some scenes disturbed me.

SJ: What writer inspired you most and how?
SEN: There are too many to list because I love all kinds of genre. I would say that the authors that inspired me when I was younger were: Robert Ludlum, Sidney Sheldon, Chinua Achebe, Charles Dickens, Ian Fleming and Erle Stanley Gardner. The other authors that I really like are: Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, James Patterson, Jeffery Archer and David Baldacci. Sometimes I indulge in the juicy books written by Jackie Collins, Judith  McNaught, Danielle Steele and many others. These days I read a lot of books by self-published authors.

SJ: If you could give just one piece of important writing advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?

SEN:Just do it, but it’s important to have professionals evaluate your work before you put it on sale. Get a good Developmental Editor and Proofreader.  After the book is on sale, get ready to face a tough road ahead as you may spend more time promoting your books than writing if you want your work to be read. Do not let bad reviews affect you. It comes with the territory. Not everyone is going to see your work the way you do.

SJ: In closing, what is a favorite book you enjoyed reading and would recommend without hesitation? Why?

SEN: Most people who read my books will not believe this but as I mentioned before I am an avid reader. I read books of almost every genre except erotica. “Chances” by Jackie Collins is one book that stands out for me but I can’t tell you why (technically) since I have read and loved thousands of books.  There are others that I recall not wanting to put down but since you wanted one, “Chances” is my choice. The book was satisfying, like the feeling you get after a good thanksgiving meal. The miniseries was okay but not as good as the book. 
     Thanks S.E. for taking time out to visit with us. Thank you readers for doing the same. It's been fun as usual. I love speaking with other writers and sharing their insight with others, especially readers. Each visit is a learning experience for me. I hope it is for you, too. 
    Readers, to learn more about S.E. her writing, books, and human rights issues she cares about check out her website:


And don’t forget to catch her Book Trailer for 'Nightmare along the River Nile' -

You can also find S.E. all over the internet. Here are her connections:

Twitter accounts:       Personal @Nelson_SE

                  Human rights @SENHumanRights

Facebook fan page

Human Rights -

Goodreads and Shelfari social forum for readers and authors.


Thank you for visiting with us. Until next month...every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey.  One person, one voice can make a difference. May all your wishes come true.

    S. J. Francis
    Advocate for the underdog, and cat, et al.
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