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Author Spotlight: Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel by Samantha Bryant

 

Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight and my first author spotlight on 2017! Today I have Samantha Bryant returning with her book, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel, and a great guest post about growing up!

Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her secret superpower is finding lost things. When she’s not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys time with her family, watching old movies, baking, reading, and going places. Her favorite gift is tickets (to just about anything).

She’s the author of Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel and the sequel sequel Change of Life, both available through Curiosity Quills Press. The three-quel will be out in summer 2017. You can find her on Twitter @mirymom1 or at her blog/website.

Connect with the Author

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Amazon Author Page
Curiosity Quills Author Page
Goodreads Author Page
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Subscribe to Samantha’s Newsletter!

About the Book

Half women’s fiction, half action-adventure story, Going Through the Change is a new take on superheroes. The series dares to ask the question: what if the people with powers were grown women with careers, relationships, responsibilities, and families?

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Keep reading for a guest post by the author:

Not a Girl Anymore
By Samantha Bryant

I’m not as young as I used to be. I guess it was bound to happen. It was either that or living fast, dying young, and leaving a beautiful corpse. Or vampirism, I suppose. I’m not really up for that—I like sunlight too much, and the “dying young” train has already zoomed past anyway, leaving me standing at the Middle Age station.

I don’t sit around mourning my youth all the time though. The only thing I really miss is the physical energy: the way I could stay up all night and survive the next day on coffee alone, or sleep in the back of my truck and still be able to turn my head in the morning.

There was a lot that didn’t suit me about being a girl: the uncertainty of it all. Top of the list was being underestimated. People assuming I couldn’t do something for myself or that I wouldn’t be interested. People thinking I was there as decoration or entertainment only. Being a woman means that if someone tries that, I call them on it. I speak up.

Like Bonnie Raitt, “I’ve been around the world/I’m a woman, not a girl!” And I’m so glad. I enjoy it.

Except when I read, watch TV or go to the movies. There, too many women heroes are eternally twenty-two, underdressed, unattached, childless, and only out for adventure. They’re so not me anymore. There have been some wonderful older women characters, but they are the exception in a world where the rule is young, svelte, and beautiful.

I live for characters like Judi Dench’s M, Helen Mirren’s Victoria, and Ming-Na Wen’s Agent May or The Calvary. Women with history and experience, treachery and expertise. I’ve been thrilled to see more of these women showing up on the imaginary hero landscape. Now, I want more women like that who also have people they love in their lives. There are plenty of loner heroes, not so many heroes with a family. At least we have Helen Parr, even if she still lets people call her girl.

Toni Morrison said, “If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” So, I did.

Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is my attempt to show the heroism of grown women. Besides dealing with the sudden onset of superpowers, my characters are also facing conflicts in the rest of their lives: relationships, work, families, society. The main characters range in age from thirty-two to sixty-seven. One is a mother to young children, two to grown children. One is a grandmother. Two are horrified at the very prospect of children. They are diverse in other ways, too: attitudes towards love, money, careers, and race.

Writing this book was a delight, so much so that I’ve already written several more short stories, two novellas, a sequel and a three-quel for the characters (several of which are due out in the next year!). Superhero fiction has been a great venue for exploring what it means to be a female hero. I love speculative fiction for its ability to take on issues without feeling like you’re doing anything more than playing. Ideally, I want a fun story that leaves the reader thinking. I hope that’s what I’ve written: a thinking woman’s heroes.

As I say when I sign copies, “We are all of us heroes!” (some of us are just a little more literal about it).

Guest Post: What to Do If You Are out of Writing Ideas by Richard Nolan

Today I have guest blogger, Richard Nolan, returning to share with us what to do if we’re out of writing ideas!


Minolta DSC

New writers fail to understand one thing that writing is hard. It is not an easy task at all. Not sure where to start for your next writing project? You are at a loss for inspiration and ideas. Well, it happens to all at one or another point. You are going smoothly, producing creative high-quality and unique content, and then, instantly, you run out of new ideas. You search high and low for new thoughts and inspiration, but you are stuck. It is all for naught. As a matter of fact, you are blocked.

Whatever the business you are dealing with, there is always a dire need for creativity. Maybe it is how you offer your blogs and posts to your readers, or maybe it is the blogs and posts itself. Either way, you are in need of help to get out of that creative rut.

Let me tell you some secrets of getting out of such a situation.

First, understand that you’re not actually ‘out’ of ideas

Sometimes, when you stuck, you feel that you will always remain stuck. It is not the case. You must understand that your brain is actually an endless source of ideas. In fact, you’re continuously feeding input into your brain, constantly giving it stimulation and subsequently new information. You practically can’t avoid it. You must take a deep breath and know that this rut isn’t permanent.

Get rid of your stress and tension

Sometimes, anxiety, tension, and stress can get in the way of creativity. When you are already stressed, your stress becomes double due to the lack of new ideas, making the block even stronger. Now it’s the time to reduce your stress and feel relaxed. You can do some meditation like yoga or exercise. You can go for a short jog or if you like to play a game, just play that game. It takes only a little amount of tension relief before you instantly get the old creative juices flowing again.

Feeding your brain

One of the most important things you can do to keep your own creative ideas flowing is to provide your brain with some new, beautiful and substantial input. In this respect, you can study books of great authors, watch TV, travel, go outside and sit in the garden to listen to the chirp of the birds. Also, you can consult and talk to your close friends about different topics to get new ideas. An imaginary friend can help you a lot in this context. Just try to feed your brain with the latest and unique information.

Take baby steps

It is not always necessary to write the entire blog post or an article in a single sitting. You should take baby steps. You must write the content through small dots and move forward. This way, you will get out of the block.

Use a different writing tool

Stuck in a creative rut! You can switch from Microsoft Office to Google Doc, or you can even write directly into the WordPress. You can also change the font or even the color of the font. Or one of my favorite options, you can increase your font size. Apparently, it seems awkward and silly, but it works. Such small things can make the writing an interesting thing for you once again.

Goof around on LinkedIn, Facebook, or G Plus

People consider the social media as a great time suck, but if you are out of thoughts, social media is a rich mine full of precious ideas. Just browse through the different social media platforms, check new posts, talk to your links and enjoy yourself. Over and above this, absorb what others are talking about. You will surely find the latest ideas. But don’t sit for hours in front of social media networks; just half an hour is enough to crack the things.

Start in the middle

All of us know that a fantastic introduction always attracts the readers to read the rest of the article. A wonderful introduction is integral for a great post. But sometimes, trying to write a perfect intro can restrain your writing process. In such a situation, you can leave the ‘opening’ for later and just get going with your blog. You can write the intro when you feel comfortable.

Reread your fantastic posts

Feeling down? You’ve lost your mojo, and you might be unsure about your writing skills. All bloggers face such situations at one point or another. Reread the best posts you have written in the past. Go back and read the post word by word. You see how good you are? The talent doesn’t evade; it is still inside you. You just have to refresh your thoughts, and you’ll soon get dozens of new ideas. At a time, you just need a little reminder.

Look at your competitors

You are stuck, well, it’s fine, but you can at least take some time to review your competition. What they are writing and what are their ideas. I’m not saying that you should steal ideas from your competitors, but you can create your own ideas by going through the content of your competitors. High chances are you will find something new, intriguing and interesting.

Watch movies to get new ideas

Writers often get fresh ideas from movies. You can create a blog post on the story of a film. Even a great dialogue can provide you with a base to write your content. Other times you can get inspiration from the fantastic camera work, the way that a beautiful face is framed and the charisma of the mesmerizing landscape captured on film.

Bottom line, it is natural to get stuck, and it happens to all the writers. Stay positive, and you’ll get rid of this situation. You can try the tips mentioned above to get new writing ideas. Remember, only you can get you out of this block, so follow these methods to fetch new ideas.


About the Author

Richard Nolan is a blogger and a private tutor,  sharing his experience in spheres of  blogging, self-growth, and psychology. Richard writes for numerous blogs and gives useful tips for bloggers, students, and teachers. At the present moment Richard works as a general editor for  ProWritersCenter. Learn more about Richard on Facebook and Twitter

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Guest Post: How to Research for Historical Fiction by Andrew Joyce

Today I have a guest blogger visiting, Andrew Joyce, sharing how he researches for his historical fiction novels.


My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank Renee for allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

Through no fault of his own, a young man is thrust into a new culture just at the time that culture is undergoing massive changes. It is losing its identity, its lands, and its dignity. He not only adapts, he perseveres and, over time, becomes a leader—and on occasion, the hand of vengeance against those who would destroy his adopted people.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about: the research that goes into writing an historical novel or an action/adventure novel that uses an historical event as a backdrop.

I want to say that I learned the hard way how important proper research is. But it wasn’t really that hard of a lesson. In my first book, which takes place in the last half of the 19th century, I made two mistakes. I had the date of an event off by one year and I had my hero loading the wrong caliber cartridge into his Winchester rifle. I would have gone blissfully throughout life not knowing how I had erred if not for my astute fans. Both mistakes were quickly pointed out to me in reviews of the book. One guy said he would have given me five stars if not for the wrong caliber bullet mistake. I had to settle for only four stars. Lesson learned!

Before I get into telling you about the year-long research I did for Yellow Hair, I’d like to tell you how I researched my second and third books and describe what that research entailed.

My second book was a western and the protagonist was a woman. The research took about three months. I had to know everything from women’s undergarments of the late 19th century to prison conditions for women in those days. (I sent my heroine to jail.) That kind of research was easy. Thank God for the internet. But then I had to do some real research. Molly (my protagonist) built up her cattle ranch to one of the largest in Montana, but she and her neighbors had nowhere to sell their beef. So Molly decided to drive her and her neighbors’ cattle to Abilene where she could get a good price. She put together the second largest herd on record (12,000 head) and took off for Abilene.

That’s when I had to really go to work. I wanted my readers to taste the dust on the trail. I wanted them to feel the cold water at river crossing. I wanted them to know about the dangers of the trail, from rustlers to Indians to cattle stampedes.

This is how I learned about all those things and more. First of all, I found old movies that were authentic in nature. I watched them to get a feel for the trail. Then I read books by great authors who had written about cattle drives to soak up even more of the atmosphere of a cattle drive. That was all well and good, but it still did not put me in the long days of breathing dust and being always fearful of a stampede.

That’s when I went looking for diaries written by real cowboys while they were on the trail. After that, I found obscure self-published books written by those cowboys. Then it was onto newspaper articles written at the time about large cattle drives. That’s how I had Molly herd the second largest cattle drive. I discovered that the largest was 15,000 head, driven from Texas to California in 1882.

My next book took place in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Here new elements were added such as wolves and the extreme weather as adversaries. Dogsledding was also involved. I have seen snow only three times in my life and I have never dogsledded. I knew even less about wolves. I had to learn about those things. I had no idea what it was like to travel across a wilderness on a dogsled at seventy degrees below zero. I also had to acquire knowledge about the dogs themselves, especially the lead dog.

I learned about all that by doing the same things I did for my second book. The old diaries were the most helpful. As to the gold rush, there was plenty of material in the form of self-published books by some of the participants. Some were never even published, but I found copies of them in the archives of universities and historical societies. Again, newspaper stories printed at the time were very useful. Concerning wolves . . . I read everything I could get my hands on about wolves—their habits, the pack hierarchy, the alpha male, and the different jobs or tasks the males and females have while hunting.

Now we come to Yellow Hair. As I mentioned above, the book is about the Sioux Nation from 1805 to 1890. I had to know both points of view, the white man’s and the Sioux’s. Getting to know the whites’ take on things was easy. There are many, many books (non-fiction) that were written at the time. I even found a book written by Custer detailing his strategy for wiping out the Sioux entirely. That was hard reading. And, again, there were universities and historical societies whose archives were a great help.

As to the Sioux’s point of view, there are a few books that were dictated to newspapermen years later by the Indians that took part in the various battles that I weave into my story. I found a lot of material from Native American participants of the Little Big Horn, written twenty to thirty years after the fact.

But I wanted to immerse myself in the Sioux culture and I wanted to give them dignity by using their language wherever possible. I also wanted to introduce them by their Sioux names. So, I had to learn the Lakota language. And that wasn’t easy. There is a consortium that will teach you, but they wanted only serious students. You have to know a smattering of the language before they will even deign to let you in. I had to take a test to prove that I knew some Lakota. I failed the first time and had to go back to my Lakota dictionary and do some more studying. I got in on my second try.

I’m running out of space, so I reckon I’ll wrap it up. I hope I’ve given you a little insight into the research process. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. But it is also a blast. Every new discovery is like finding the motherlode.

I’d like to sign off with another commercial. The three books I alluded to above are:

  • Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer
  • Molly Lee
  • Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure

I would like to thank Renee once again for having me over and you good folks for tuning in.

Andrew Joyce


About the Author

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, Yellow Hair. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mick Reilly. Connect with the author.

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