Posted in authors, books, children, Indie, writers, Young Adult

Combining childhood innocence with historical verisimilitude and a dash of magical fantasy

Welcome Linda Schell to Author Interview Friday. Tell us a little about yourself.

Combining childhood innocence with historical verisimilitude and a dash of magical fantasy—that was the impulse behind the start of my writing career.  A travel log about the city, St. Petersburg, Russia inspired me to write my first fantasy-adventure book, Come Along With Me.

I wanted to bring appreciation to American children and their parents for the magical city known for its culture, architecture, tree-lined parks, and its bridges by the hundreds. This led me to my second book, The Palace Buzz, a wacky romp coated in outrageously true history.

Perhaps one day the series will find its way into Russia, and the people there will learn that there are people here in America who have an appreciation for their history and accomplishments.

Do you remember when you first wanted to be a writer?

When I was five years old I saw a broken typewriter in my aunt’s attic, and I wanted to start writing then.  I didn’t have access to a typewriter until I was a junior in high school.  By then I had put my writing ideas aside.

My long-range goal is to expand the imaginations of children while simultaneously exposing them to a variety of cultures and histories. For the last twenty-four years I have lived in Venice, Florida with my husband, Tom, of forty-six years.  We have one son.

Do you have a background in writing?

My background in writing is business.  The Elements of Style helped me in the business world.  The book is short, and informative, and easy-to-understand.

I wrote the first rough draft to my debut story in about three weeks.  Because I worked full time and sometimes sixty hours in a week, it took me years to tweak it, have it edited, and finally published.

What genre are your books in?

The two books I have written are fantasy/adventure, primarily for the nine to twelve set.

The Gracie Series would be found in the children’s section for fantasy, although the books do claim a little science fiction.

I see you went with self-publishing? Why did you go that route and are you happy with the results?

The hours I worked in my day job didn’t permit me to query main-stream publishers.  At the end of the day I was too tired to query.  Eventually, I would like to try mainstream.  I am pleased with Amazon’s Create Space.  Their crew responds immediately to my phone calls.  They are patient.

What has been the hardest part of writing for you?

Writing a well-crafted descriptive sentence.  In order to overcome my personal obstacle, I read not for enjoyment, but to learn how other author’s craft their sentences. 

What are you doing to promote your books?

I’m a novice to writing as I started two years before I retired from work.  Right now I am relying on Facebook, book fairs, and my husband’s great selling skills.  Eventually, I will have to move to my own blog and website.  I’m talking my time and learning as much as I can about marketing before I take definitive steps.

Do you have advice for other writers just starting down this path?

If the writer is as “wet behind the ears” as I was,  I hope the newbie can find a friend who doubles as a writing coach.  I’m not suggesting a professional, I am suggesting someone who understands what it takes to move a story forward, and someone who understands good sentence structure. I would suggest finding a Writer’s Group to learn about social media and marketing.  If   new writers finds themselves in a Writer’s Group that delves on negative personal criticism and the leader of the group is weak, move on.  There are lots of groups out there.  Read good “how to” books.  Be mindful that some books are long on form and short on good advice.  Read books.  Although my target audience is children’s chapter books, I read adult books to improve my writing style.  J. D. Salinger is a great author to study.  Personally, I don’t care much for what he says, but how he says it was a learning curve for me. When sitting down to write, don’t worry about an outline.  How can an author produce an outline if the author doesn’t know what he wants to say in precise detail.?  Let your pen take you to the place you want to go.  If you have amassed a great deal of research data, a time line will start to emerge in your mind.  At that point, write down key events of what comes next and when.  Another thing I taught myself to do, I did this with my first book because I had a beginning and no middle or end, I wrote little scenes that I thought would be interesting.  The scenes spawned other ideas.  Before I knew it I was easily connecting one scene to another, and throwing out other scenes that didn’t fit. That said, if an outline works for the author, use an outline.  Use what works.  Write in a way that the reader wants to keep turning the page to find out what will happen next.

What is the premise of the book we are promoting today?

My protagonist wants to visit the magical, fairy-tale city of St. Petersburg, Russia. Instead she finds herself marooned on a dairy farm in St. Clair, Pennsylvania where she meets a new friend, Gibson, a Maine Coon Cat who was just dumped off on the farm.  Gibson is a dude from the city.  The two meet two evil rats who are on a mission to destroy the farm and the farmer.  In the end good triumphs over evil.  In the meantime the grandparents will have fun reading Come Along With Me, because it takes place in the 50’s, pink kitchen appliances, hoola hoops, and all!

Watch this interview with author Linda Lee Schell:




Come Along With Me Cheryl Abney


EXCERPT OF BOOK  Come Along With Me, Vol. 1 in the Gracie Series:  (First page)


Deep inside the thirty-sixth universe, just south of the Never-Ending Rainbow, millions of shimmering spheres drift serenely through a tranquil sky. Gracie, a gentle soul, lives on one of these spheres, located near the heart of not only one of the oldest, but quite possibly the grandest of all the universes.


When the rays of the Everlasting Never-Ending Rainbow find their way to Gracie’s sphere, rose petals in myriad shades of pink and red flutter playfully to the ground.  The creatures in Gracie’s world amicably take turns removing the petals from their lawns and winding paths.  Here, even the local version of “bad weather” (which is always conveniently forecast well in advance by the Weather, Whether or Not creature), rarely turns out to be anything more severe than a late afternoon breeze, producing much rose-petal clutter, but little else.  Undoubtedly, Gracie’s world is perfect in every way–except for one small problem:  Gracie is bored.






Posted in authors, characters, conflict, fantasy, fiction, mythology, sci-fi, writers

The evolution of writing with “Seeds” author Robert Messier

I can’t tell you pleased I am to have Robert Messier with us today on Writing Under Fire for Author Interview Friday. Robert and I are close friends and critique partners. We have struggled and sweated through countless revisions on our WIP’s and I think I am just as excited as Robert about SEEDS making its first appearance as an e-book on Amazon. This story begs to make the top seller list. Robert has a unique style and insight into his writing that I have rarely seen. How he manages to combine sci-fi, fantasy, mythology and history and even prophecy into one cohesive compact story amazes me. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Robert Messier. Please take the time to read this great work of art in SEEDS.

Robert Messier

Robert: Thank you Joanne. It is a pleasure to be here and thank you for the kind words.

Joanne: Let’s get straight to the questions. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get you started?

Robert: When I was 14, I would write silly adventure stories for and about my teen friends called “The Born Losers” which was popular. I also felt inspired to write epic poetry tales similar to “Beowulf, Conan the Barbarian and Homer’s Greek myths”. This again was popular with kids but not so with my English teacher Mrs. Keating. LOL

Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Robert: I took a class for creative writing and was voted top writer in class at Edison Community College in Florida for my short stories. I majored in English at Nassau Community College in New York and wrote for Think Magazine with both articles on magic and epic pagan poetry devoted to Goddess worship. For personal reasons I ended my association with the magazine.

Joanne: How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

Robert: I was fortunate the editor of Think magazine attended my class when I was teaching about “The Power of Music” in a New Age bookstore called The New Moon and immediately wanted to feature me as a writer. As for my first book 100 Years of Thrillers and Chillers, this took three years of handwritten re-writes before learning to type my manuscript and sending it to Rose Dog Books and it got published almost one year later.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Robert: No, I just write whatever inspires me at the moment. I like diversity.

Joanne: Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Robert: Of the three books I have written, two are easy to categorize but “Seeds” combines numerous genres but since it begins and ends science-fiction I suppose it falls in Science Fiction.

Joanne: Are you published through a traditional publishing house?

Robert: My first book was produced by Rose Dog Books, a self-published division of a Dorrance Publishing house in Pittsburgh. For now, Seeds will be available as an e-book on Amazon but at some point I will attempt to get an agent and publish it traditionally because (I don’t want to brag- but) it is a very special story. My third book will not be available until it is re-worked with reggae recording artist Frank Carroll to promote The Unknown Guitarist. It will be a music e-book dedicated to musicians from around the world that are relatively obscure guitar virtuosos.

Joanne: Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?

Robert: I met an author who had her book self-published by Rose Dog and so I chose them hoping to gain credibility as an author but this method is expensive.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Robert: I like writing in a narrative style but I have not always written in this method…

Joanne: What do you think writers are talking about when they say “finding your voice?”

Robert: I think this is meant to mean is…to write about your passions because if what you are writing is passionate to you then it will excite your reader also. That is what “voice” means I think. LOL.

Joanne: For you, what is the hardest part of the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query, marketing?

Robert: Marketing is far and away the hardest part of being a writer.

Joanne: What marketing techniques do you use to promote your books?

Robert: An author must learn computer marketing techniques such as blogging to reach an audience because traditional publishers now expect the author to promote his own work. Talent is no longer enough. Luck and computer generated promotional skills are required for success. This is the new reality of publishing. On some level it is more difficult to be a successful writer today than in the past. That said if you love to write hang in there but know there are a million other writers to compete against who want success too.

Joanne: What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Robert .If you really believe in your manuscript and abilities as a writer then find a method of publishing that works for you. Whether self-publishing, e-book or traditional publishing with an agent. I’m still exploring all these methods to see what works best.

Joanne: What is the overall premise or theme to the book we are promoting today?

Robert: Seeds is the quest for humanity’s evolution and place in the universe. It is a story of love and growth, history and myth with interesting main characters that evolve along with the world.

Joanne: Can you share a few paragraphs of SEEDS with us?  Also, where can readers purchase the e-book?

SEEDS cover from website

Robert: SEEDS and my other book, 100 Years of Thrillers and Chillers can be purchased on from my Amazon Author page at

If you are not into sci-fi fantasy don’t be afraid to read further because many genres are covered in the 32 chapter novella. It evolves. LOL




Jesse has always been the optimist, thought Lucy.

Watching my brother skillfully navigate our crystal starship down towards the green vegetation and lush flora of the young planet, I felt apprehensive but naughty. This was a mission of observation but Father required some action. Large flocks of birds of various shapes and colors scattered and flew off at our approach. Jesse loved to observe Father’s seeding projects first hand. Our beloved scientist Father called these new worlds the Terraforming Project, but this was one of those worlds that made me wish I had stayed home with Mother.

Ages ago Father discovered this small planet rotating in space lifeless, just another large rock in the universe. It had volcanic activity and great deal of hot carbon monoxide gas caused by excessive meteor showers and other cosmic debris. The planet was a prime candidate for seeding life forms in all its bio-diversity. This would be a test subject for Father’s atmospheric projects to induce and sustain life because of its proximity to its sun. This planet also had the ability to maintain an ocean which could act as a nursery for the development of new life, plants and animals including the humanoid species for which our Father is so fond of.

But this world is so boring. If it wasn’t for Father’s psychological experiments on growth I would never choose to come to this planet at all but I am Father’s favorite child and I did not want to disappoint Him.

I looked outside the viewport of the starship still lost in thought. Last time we were here Jesse formed a bond with these aliens and was eager to see them again. These beings were so unlike the life-forms on the fiery, gaseous world of Tartarus. The humanoid creatures of this world were infantile in mind and weak in body and they just seemed so damn lazy and stupid. All they seemed to do was eat, sleep and shit. Not much different than the animals and the lower life forms. They could not change their shape at will or thrive in extreme conditions. They are limited in intellect and physical form. What is so special about the human beings?

“Did you hear me Lucy? I said it’s time to go!”

Despite Father’s wishes of non-interference, Jesse insisted on communication with these inferior beings. As we approached a clearing in the garden, we could see two people eating fruit naked amongst the trees. Jesse transformed himself into a likeness of the man but since I had nothing but contempt for these lazy creatures I chose to transform into a slithering beast and watched from some bushes.

The man embraced Jesse and they walked off in the distance talking. The female of the species had stayed behind and fell asleep under Father’s experimental tree and since our Father asked, I was obliged to do something about it. Another seed needed to be planted to stimulate growth and quite frankly I did not want this species to become immortal. They are not deserving of the gift. These beings were only flesh and blood. No more, no less. They are not like us at all.

As our starship prepared to leave this world, my good natured brother quips, “I can’t wait to tell Father the Good News. He will be pleased to know the experiment was a success. The human beings had not eaten the fruit from Father’s tree and I for one am hoping Father will let us return to this world someday Lucifer, because there is potential here.”

I hated to be called by my formal name as I smiled in response to Jesse.

“My dearest little brother Jeshua”, I teased, “Wherever you go I will follow.”

In the blink of an eye, our crystal starship quietly flashed into space and we were gone.