Thursday, April 5, 2018

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Jenny Morton Potts, Author

Jenny Morton Potts, Author
Jenny Morton Potts brings us HIDING, a psychological thriller that reviewers say has a “terrific concept, in-depth personalities” whose author has a “gift for creating terrifying atmospheres” “with twists and turns that border on incredible.” Potts confirms that the story is about the study of the two main characters, which might take it out of the crime thriller genre—but she believes it falls within that genre as well. She also allows the story to pull her away from traditional rules, when she believes the “unusual” is the way to go.

She has recently moved to a new location near London and lives there with her family. She  loves to travel and would like to do more, enjoys opera, theater, sudoku, and her dog. She is in the process of finishing a new thriller.

Q: You describe HIDING as a psychological thriller. What makes it so?

Jenny Morton Potts: It’s an incredibly deep psychological study of the two main characters. Although there is a lot of plot, HIDING I feel moves out of the classic crime thriller and into the realms of deep characterization analysis. That’s why I classified it as a psychological thriller. But it fits well within crime thriller too!

Q: Many of your reviewers claimed that HIDING is “character driven” “great” …“believable characters” and “in-depth personalities.” What character traits are important to develop in a psychological thriller? What will draw readers in and what will push them away?

Jenny Morton Potts: I think readers are drawn to the edge, the jeopardy the character finds themselves in. The trick is to make the reader feel it so closely, that they question their own responses fully. Then you must allow them to move away from that, back to safety, as the ‘baddie’ turns so bad that they are lost, and the reader no longer has to question themselves to the same extent.

Q:  First, congratulations on numerous thoughtful reviews of HIDING.

I was struck by the mild disagreement by your reviewers regarding the dual storylines that you use to tell your story. Some unequivocally enjoyed its use; others did not, but applauded how well executed it was and also suggested it would make a great movie. Why did you use this approach?  

Jenny Morton Potts: I think what distracted reviewers more was the fact that the duality lasted so long. I didn’t really intend for that to happen but it did, and it was strong, and so I rode that wave. I knew it would be controversial but that is mostly because it is unusual.

I once wrote a short story in second person and because that was rare, people fretted over it. However, by the end of the story, they got it, and I won a prize for it. I don’t mean to give the impression that I do controversy or gimmicky for the sake of it. It all grows organically. Sometimes I put a stop to it but then if I halt a process because of concern over feedback, I can, on occasion, question why am I writing? Who am I writing for? You know?

Q: One of your reviewers – who gave HIDING a high rating – was disappointed that not all the loose ends were tied up as normally done in mystery novels. I tend to also look for resolution when reading mysteries, my favorite genre. Did you deliberately write your story to leave out tying up loose ends for some reason? Are you planning a follow-up book?

Jenny Morton Potts: I could follow up this book but am very satisfied with it as it is. Most reviewers who remarked on loose ends thought that they were tied up in HIDING but I remember someone saying what you quote here. That was surprising, since I only left one end loose. And that was deliberate. It was a minor character and I just don’t think it is realistic to have total neatness.

Q: Were you able to use elements of the setting to help tell or enrich your story?

Jenny Morton Potts: Yes, setting was very important. Because I had an unusual story and an unusual take on spinning it, I wanted to make other elements simple and fully embraceable. That is why I picked an austere Highlands mansion and used the classic, American ‘porch.'  I didn’t want the reader to have any work to do with settings, just to love them!

Q: In addition to writing novels, you also have written a screenplay PIANO FROM A 4TH STOREY WINDOW. Do you prefer one over the other? Are you able to borrow techniques from one to apply to the other?

Jenny Morton Potts: I think ‘Piano…’ is the best piece of work I have ever done, as a novel. If I had to choose from plays and books, I think I’d pick novel writing, because you get to do dialogue and prose. I couldn’t relinquish the prose. I can’t think of how I appropriate a technique from one to the other, except that the screenplay is so disciplined for dialogue, it instils great honing for spoken scenes in a novel.

Q: One of your reviewers says that HIDING is “A wacky thriller that breaks all the rules.” Do you believe that you broke “the rules?” Why and what rules did you break?

Jenny Morton Potts: I think that reviewer is absolutely right. I am a wacky writer. But as I explained above, this isn’t something I focus on or try for. It is just me. I am also a gentle writer and a funny writer. I am thinking of the reader all the time and trying to make the experience as good as possible for me and you, in partnership. There are an amazing amount of rules in writing and whilst I think they should be read and understood, the best books will often break rules.

Q: What techniques or approaches did you use to create the “thriller” or suspense parts of HIDING?

Jenny Morton Potts: This is an interesting question (well, they all are). As if there was a little cupboard to go into and choose. What I did was lay clues. Some were supposed to lead you quickly, some were subliminal. I laid those and also creepy lines. I often let them hang. Later, I go back and lay more or uproot and replant them. HIDING is a puzzle. It was so much fun to make that puzzle.

Q:  What’s next?

Jenny Morton Potts: I’m just completing a new thriller. This has all my hallmarks but it has a more regular structure. I take you to places you’ll want to see and places you’ll dread. Fascinating dilemmas and unique situations. There’s death, birth, loss, mayhem, sex, heartache. All my staples.

Q:  Tell us about Jenny Morton Potts. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Jenny Morton Potts: I like travelling. I’d like to do a lot more, so that I can write about the far-flung world and its people. Just need to wait for my son to finish his schooling. I like opera, theatre, super-fiendish sudoku, my dog. I love tennis but can’t play due to injury. Oh yes, my family, I love them and doing stuff in our new location near London.

About Jenny Morton Potts

Jenny Morton Potts was born in a smart, dull suburb of Glasgow where the only regular excitement was burglary. Attended a smart, dull school where the only regular excitement was the strap. Worked in smart, dull sales and marketing jobs until realizing she was living someone else’s life.

Escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon who wanted to talk about The Da Vinci Code, wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England – and unlikely ever to leave again – Jenny, with assistance from loyal hound, walked and swam her way back to manageable health.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, partnered for 28 years, she ought to mention, and living with inspirational child in Thaxted, Essex.


Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?


Thursday, March 29, 2018

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Antwan Floyd Sr., Author

Antwan Floyd Sr., Author
Antwan Floyd Sr. brings us a crime drama, PIECE KEEPER, with unique characters, according to his reviewers, where “even the good guys are bad.” His reviewers also say that the novel “was on a whole other level.” 

Floyd believes that the “human element”—where readers can relate to emotional aspects of the characters—is an important element of any genre. He also provides unpredictability with unexpected twists to engage readers, and uses relatable humor to enhance his characters. 

Floyd enjoys traveling and also likes to meet other authors and read their books so he can discuss them. He is currently working on Dope Fiction pt. 2 and also on a spinoff from his Black Love Detective series.

Q: You describe PIECE KEEPER as a crime drama, but reviewers have also applauded the unique characters and plot. Is this “just” a crime drama or is it also a police exposé or more about uncovering the gritty side of life? 

Antwan Floyd Sr.: Technically it is just a crime drama/mystery novel but like all great fiction it has elements of real life within the pages. In my opinion no matter the genre be it mystery, horror, romance or sci-fi it is all about what I like to call the “human element” and if you can have human emotional aspects to the story and people relate then it will make for a better story.

Q: One of the reviewers of PIECE KEEPER said, “This is a book where even the good guys are bad, it's a matter of degree and intent.” Another reviewer describes them as “think outside the box characters.” By creating more unique characters, what traits do you provide that will enable readers to engage with your characters? What will make readers care what happens to them?

Antwan Floyd Sr.: I just think about what my father told me all the time growing up “it takes all types of people to make up the world.” Now I don’t know if that is an original quote from him but nevertheless it makes sense. So I apply that to my story when creating characters, people interact with a wide array of people sometimes in their inner circle more often than not outside their inner circle and when the main character comes across another character that is a complete opposite of their belief system that makes for not only interesting writing and situations but hopefully interesting reading.

When you give characters a goal they are trying to accomplish and place obstacles in the way then on top of that give that character a human flaw be it a drug or alcohol problem, perhaps they are a chronic procrastinator or a bad guy turned good fighting to earn the trust and respect of another character to achieve said goal. These are all things that the average reader has gone through personally or knows someone who has and that makes it relatable and if well written enjoyable and easily attachable.

Q: “Suspense was awesome.” “Page-turning storyline.” How did you create suspense? Were mystery, suspense, and surprise twists an important part of telling your story—maybe even more than character development?

Antwan Floyd Sr.: When I write I don’t specifically think of a way to add suspense. I suppose it just happens as the story progresses. I just try to keep the story on track and keep the reader engaged. I suppose an important aspect for me is to not have it be predictable so I am conscious of adding unexpected twists.

Q: “The bad guy is really creepy and evil, a great character to hate.” What character traits do you believe contribute to creating an effective villain that readers would want to hate?

Antwan Floyd Sr.: In my opinion a great villain is one that is as equally good as they are evil sometimes in some ways more good or should I say righteous in their cause or in what they believe to be right but are willing to cross over to the dark side sort to speak to achieve their goals.

Q: How useful was humor to develop your characters or tell the story?

Antwan Floyd Sr.: When it comes to humor I am no comedian by any stretch of the imagination but I do have a jaded sense of humor and sometimes like to add it to my stories, perhaps implement them into the character’s lives to lighten the mood sometimes in the story yet at the same time always make it relatable, someone out there reading that story has either gone through it or knows someone that has.

Q: Were you able to exploit the setting to tell your story? How big a part of your story involves location? Could it have occurred in any city in any time period?

Antwan Floyd Sr.: Not for this particular story, no I’ve never been to Danville, IL so I relied more on interior locales, things that I could use my imagination for depending on the character and their lifestyle in the story: where they lived, bars or restaurants they would frequent, placing them in places outside of their comfort zone be it beyond their wealth status or beneath it. All of these aspects of locale and their comfort zone will dictate how said character will interact with other characters.

Yes, for this particular story it could’ve occurred in Any Town, U.S.A.

Q: You’ve also written a second Black Love novel, CANNIBAL IN THE CITY.  Tell us about Black Love. Is he based on anyone? On you? Is he a hero?

Antwan Floyd Sr.: I created Black Love as an ode to strong, book smart/street smart black men. I suppose he could be classified as a hero but he is not without flaws. He tries to do what he feels is right but has his own set of internal code that he lives by and that code is not always on the same side that the law is on so I suppose he is more anti-hero than hero. And no, he is not based on anyone in particular.

Q: What’s next?

Antwan Floyd Sr.: Next I am working on Dope Fiction pt. 2 “Greed Between the Lines.” Black is a prominent character in that story and I am also preparing to write Purple Reign “A Trigger Brown Mystery” a spin-off from The Black Love Detective series.

Q: Tell us about Antwan Floyd Sr. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Antwan Floyd Sr.: I enjoying traveling and meeting new readers. I truly love interacting and discussing books, not only mine but others so I do a fair amount of reading so if a reader I meet talks about a book I can join in the conversation because I’ve actually read it.

About Antwan Floyd Sr.

Antwan Floyd Sr. is a Publisher, Author, and Reviewer. He publishes Crime Fiction novels under his publishing company Maleah Solange Books. He has released two titles in the Black Love Detective Series: Piece Keeper & Cannibal in the City. He has also written Dope Fiction and Dope Fiction pt. 2 "Greed Between the Lines". Originally from Chicago, IL he currently resides in Indianapolis, IN where he is penning his next novel.

Teresa Prince, a small-town girl with a big heart, had dreams of working in law enforcement. Her goals are deterred when she is violated in the worse way possible. Will she overcome this tragedy and emerge triumphant with her mind and soul intact? Or will the mental anguish be too much for her to bear?

James is a twisted soul with ideals of love and grandeur with a woman that doesn’t feel the same for him, at least not yet. That will all change if he has anything to do with it. To complicate matters worse her old flame has stepped into the picture. Will James be able to win her over and make her the love of his life before the flame is re-kindled between her and her ex? Or will he be left in the cold while they live happily ever-after?

Black Love was always more white collar than rider. When an unfortunate incident occurs in a small town in Illinois he rushes to the side of his ex-fiancé to attempt to save the day. It doesn’t take long to figure out that not everyone wants to see justice served. On top of that, his feelings for his past love may not only cause conflicts in the case but also add a rift to his new relationship. Will Black put his past behind him and find out who violated Teresa?

In this fast-paced tale of pain, misguided passion, and lost love we follow these three souls as they embark on a journey of romance, rape, and retribution. When there’s no one to count on but yourself will you stand and deliver? Or bend and break? Each will be faced with that question in the midst of questioning what they once thought was true. They all find out that when love turns to war, someone has to be the Piece Keeper!

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Dhruba D. Roy, Author

Dhruba D. Roy, Author
Dhruba D. Roy brings us his novel, MY FIRST BREAKUP, which he wrote to help himself but believes will also help others worldwide, given that we’ve all faced a breakup at one time. A reviewer says that “It is much more intimate and relatable” than the usual ‘boy meets girl’ novel with “A different and fresh approach.” He uses humor to develop his characters but also incorporates a little of himself in each of them.

In addition to being a writer, Roy also is a musician and a software engineer. He is currently working on two projects: a sequel to MY FIRST BREAKUP and a mythological fiction based on Greek, Christian, and Hindu history.

Q: Tell us about MY FIRST BREAKUP. Would you consider it a romance or contemporary fiction? What theme did you want to develop?

Dhruba D. Roy: MY FIRST BREAKUP is about a character whose name is Anirudh. The story revolves around this character who falls head over heels in love with a girl in his childhood only to be drifted apart from his girl before high school itself. The protagonist is obsessed with the girl of his dreams and after being separated makes it the motive of his life to win her back in his life.

The story then gradually unfolds where both of them do meet again. By this time both of them have entered their adulthood and deeply respect the bond that they had developed over the period of time. Anirudh discovers that he loves music equally and also starts performing at many different gigs with his musical band. But as we all know, nothing lasts the same forever. His world is turned upside down when he had to abandon his musical band and move out of the city.

The next sequence of events paves the plot for the climax of the story which is the most gripping part of the story. Let’s just keep that a secret for now.

MY FIRST BREAKUP is a combination of both romance and contemporary fiction. Infact the book has a musical touch to it and I feel that’s a value addition for the readers.

Q: You are an engineer by training, as well as a musician and a freelance writer. What caused you to also want to become a novelist?

Dhruba D. Roy: Hahaha…. let me tell you something about this question of yours. It certainly wasn’t the engineer in me who made me want to write a novel. Freelance writing was just a way to engage myself in some activity when I was free. ‘Music’ is perhaps the driving force behind this. I love music, especially the Rock N’ Roll of late 1970’s-1995’s. The Beatles, Queen,  Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Eddie Van Halan, Eric Clapton, etc. I loved their music. The lyrics of their songs were so strong and captivating. It’s sad that I cannot write lyrics of songs that good. And it was when my music band disbanded after our graduation that I decided to start writing a book. It was a tedious task and after many years of struggle, here I am with my debut novel MY FIRST BREAKUP.

Q: MY FIRST BREAKUP is set in India. What makes it universal whose characters will relate to multiple nationalities and countries?

Dhruba D. Roy: MY FIRST BREAKUP is based on three fundamental things: Love, Music, and Friendship. These three factors are very much universal to me, and the readers of any contries shouldn’t have any problem connecting to it.
Another thing that I feel readers will most certainly feel a strong connection with is the plot of the novel MY FIRST BREAKUP. It is very simple and very realistic. It is very common and it happens to almost all of us. Most of us go through our First Breakup and it’s very difficult for any one to get break the shackles and be normal again after such an event . This story is all about that and much more :)

Q:  Is there a hero or villain in MY FIRST BREAKUP? If so, what are the character traits of a villain? Does a villain need to be a person? Or can a culture or circumstances substitute for a villainous person?

Dhruba D. Roy: Yes, I consider that there is both a hero and a villain in this story. I guess, both the characters of being a hero and a villain is played by  the same factor called ‘Time’. It is ‘Time’ that gives happiness to the protagonist and it’s ‘Time’ who knocks him down. It is ‘time’ that teaches the protagonist the most valuable lesson in his first Breakup and that is ‘Learning to Let Go!!’

Q: Did you write MY FIRST BREAKUP primarily to entertain readers, or did you want to deliver a message?

Dhruba D. Roy: I wrote it to help myself. I wanted to write, and I feel my thoughts might not even be well accepted by my readers, but to be blatantly honest with you, that’s how I feel and all my characters are endowed with a bit of my soul in them.

Q: How useful is humor in telling your story or developing your characters?

Dhruba D. Roy: As a writer, I feel a story should be a combination of all the flavors that can give satisfaction to its readers and humor is one of those important ingredients. The story should always have an element of humor, not necessarily all throughout the story, but in a calculated fashion. This theory of mine stands true not only for humor but also for all the other ingredients that are necessary to write a story.

Q: Did you find that your experience as a freelance writer helped you to write a fictional novel?

Dhruba D. Roy: It definitely did. It gave me the freedom to think and be more imaginative. Not only that, but my days as a freelance writer also helped to become a better writer when it comes to structuring the plot.

Q: What’s next? Will you write more novels?

Dhruba D. Roy: Presently I am working on two projects. The sequel to My First Breakup and another one is a mythological fiction which is based on Greek, Christian and Hindu History. So, hopefully either one or, if God permits, perhaps both of them.

Q: Tell us about Dhruba D. Roy. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing or working?

Dhruba D. Roy: Dhruba D. Roy is a boring engineer, a creative writer and an exhilarating vocalist.I enjoy playing my guitar or traveling to new places with my friends when I am not writing or working. This gives me happiness.

About Dhruba D. Roy

Dhruba Das Roy is a freelance writer, a musician by passion, and a software engineer by profession. He is from Assam, but born in a small town of Meghalaya, where he finished his schooling. He then obtained his degree in engineering from the esteemed college of National Institute of Technology. He discovered his love for music there and was the lead vocalist of his band, “The Rozarts”.

He loves rock and roll and is a great fan of the pioneers of rock and roll-(Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen and the list goes on).Unfortunately, as engineering life came to an end, the band had to split. Recently, he moved to Kolkata where he is working in one of the leading software service based companies in India.

Not everyone can put thoughts into words. Dhruba had never tried his hand in writing; but he had an experience, an experience which changed his life for the better. Being a vocalist, his only way of expression was through the creative way. He decided to pen down his thoughts, and he discovered that writing came naturally to him. His thought process in the novel relates to the general mass in many ways. He decided to stretch his limits and ended up voicing his thoughts in a different way this time.

“Oh God, why me?”

This is perhaps what we think of when we go through a ‘breakup’.
This story is about Anirudh and Anvi.

Both of them have their own thinking which are not alike.

The story begins with Anirudh meeting with an accident. As he slowly succumbs to the pain, he starts reflecting about his bygone college days where he found his love for music. He loves Anvi dearly who is a long-lost friend of Anirudh.

The story reveals how Anirudh struggles as the hands of reality strikes him down.


Monday, March 5, 2018

TIPS FROM THE EDITOR: Remembering How to Write in the Growing World of Social Media

Don’t misunderstand – I love Texting, Facebooking, Instagramming, Tweeting....

But I wonder what the impact will be on the current generation focused on these cryptic forms of communication. Will we forget how to write a complete sentence? Will the next generation even know about adjectives and adverbs? Will we be able to write anything without adding the ubiquitous hashtag?

I suspect my concern might be inflated. After all, our schools still teach reading, writing and arithmetic. Well, at least reading and arithmetic. How much longer will they count writing as a requirement? As we eliminate music, art, and sports form our schools, can writing be far behind? 

OK, OK. I’m exaggerating again maybe just a little – but I fear JUST a little.  However, just in case, I’m thinking that we might want to offer some tips to assure we continue to think in sentences and paragraphs. And what better place to hone our writing skills than having fun with our family and simultaneously increasing quality time together.

FunFamily Writing Exercises

My suggestion is that you schedule time for family activities and include some writing exercises as one of the “games.” Don’t make the timing inflexible – after all we’re all very busy being cryptic. And if it works better for your family just to do it extemporaneously, then so be it. But make it a priority.

Maybe Sunday evening as part of an informal family dinner you could do some of the following exercises to involve as many family members as possible. I suspect if you’re a parent you already know that you’ll have to work on topics of interest to the age group of your kids, although "superheroes" seems to be a subject for all ages at the moment. 

By the way, you might also consider this as a great way to tell Mom what you think of her for Mother’s Day; or Dad for Father’s Day; or for any family member birthday. Eventually you might like the exercises so much that you start to write prose and poetry. 

Consider using one or more of the following as part of your routine family gatherings. Once you start, you will most likely think of many other exercises that your family might appreciate.

·      A special gift for Mother’s Day or for Mom’s birthday: each family member choose a topic to build a story about Mom. Then put it together in one document. You can print it out or read it to her. Suggested topics:
o   Her sense of humor – she always laughs at my jokes
o   Her fantastic appearance
o   The cool way she tells me I’ve made a mistake
o   How she helps me with my homework
o   Her favorite movies
·      Each family member is to write a paragraph that includes a topic sentence and at least 2 detail sentences and a conclusion about a favorite super hero without telling anyone who it is. Write a physical description, special gift that makes your character a super hero, and why you like him/her. Read your description to your family. The first one to guess gets to go next.  
·      Each family member writes a paragraph describing the family getting ready for school or work in the morning. For a little something extra, include some dialogue. This should make for some interesting discussion when you read your paragraph aloud to the rest of the family and then they read their paragraph. The different perspectives could be very enlightening.
·      Write a dialogue that occurred between you and your teacher, friend or even a stranger. Ask the rest of the family to act it out. 

Of course, in today's world of school, earning a living, commuting, baseball games, music lessons, extra-hour work meetings, hobbies, television, movies, and errands--and so many unexpected interruptions, maybe we don't have time to learn to communicate. But surely we can try.