Thursday, July 31, 2014

Interview with Author Margaret Taylor

Margaret Taylor 
I currently live in San Antonio, TX but that’s state 38 for me, so I’ve been just about everywhere…

Good morning, Margaret!  Welcome to Vision and Verse, the Place for Art and Authors.  Can you tell us what you've written
I have nine books out now:

A First Love Never Dies - Book 1 of The Spi-Corp Series (Sci-Fi Romance)
Saving His Love – Book 2 of The Spi-Corp Series (Sci-Fi Romance)
To Light The Dragon’s Fire – Book 1 of the Dragons, Griffons and Centaurs, Oh My! Series (Fantasy Romance)
To Save The Broken Heart – Book 2 of the Dragons, Griffons and Centaurs, Oh My! Series (Fantasy Romance)
Wolf's Paradox - Book 1 of The Layren Series (Paranormal Romance)
I Saw Momma Shoot Santa Claus – Book 1 of The Legacy Series (Paranormal Romance)
All In The Name Of Love (Contemporary Romantic Suspense)
Love's Prophecy (Paranormal Romance)
The Seer – Book 1 of The Shadowcon Series (Urban Fantasy)
Love On The Edge – Nine Shades of Suspense (Multi-Author Box Set, Romantic Suspense)

Wow!  That;s an impressive list. What is your favorite genre to write?
Anything where I can just make it up! *laughs* I prefer Fantasy, Science Fiction and Paranormal if you must know because I really dislike extensive research…

What's your favorite food? 
Anything I can eat if you must know. I love Pasta, Steak and Potatoes, Salad, whatever will fill my belly.

Are you a tea or coffee drinker?
Neither actually. But, I love Diet Coke.

Pizza or ice cream? 
Either? I’m horrible about cooking/fixing something to eat, so the easier the better as far as I’m concerned.

Oh, I hate to fuss, too, especially for just me, so I understand.  Where on earth would you like to visit? 
Australia and Ireland and Scotland. I’ve lived all over the world and those are the three places I’ve never made it too and really want to!

I want to go to Scotland, too.  Maybe we can get a planeload of authors together!
Favorite musical artist.  Do you listen to music when you write?  What?
Oh my yes. I couldn’t name a favorite though. I listen to a combination of stations on Pandora – now that I’ve figured out how to *use* the bloody thing – and just love it! I have a Dub Step Station, Imagine Dragons Radio, and several 80’s Rock/Ballard stations that I flip between depending on my mood and what I’m needing to write at the time.

What makes Margaret Taylor laugh?
Anything but stupid humor. I’m not a big fan of things like The Hangover, etc, but I love a good joke and love to be snarky and sarcastic. You’ll find a lot of my heroines are like that too…

Favorite work of art or sculpture.
Oh wow. That’s a tough one. I’m not a big “art person” if you must know, but I love older portraits, the kind done in Oils and such from “back in the day”. I guess it’s because I stand there and look at them and wonder “What were you thinking?” while you were being painted. And then my brain goes, “Hmmm, I see a story in there somewhere…”

How old were you when you started writing?
I was 13 when I penned my first short story – which was *horrendous* by the way – and I’ve been writing ever since in some form. I’ve been through the gambit of technology, from the Old Royal Typewriters (Yes, yes, I had the erasable paper and green pencil of doom with its little brush on the end!), an IBM Selectric (I thought I had died and gone to heaven the first time I hit that “correct/erase” button!) a TRS-80 from Radio Shack all the way up to now, with Windows Cloud and Office. I’ve always been a writer I suppose, but now is the first time I have a real shot at doing it for a living…and I am *loving* it!

Describe your perfect evening.
Letting the characters out to play…
Yes, a truly perfect evening for me is being able to sit back, have my Diet Coke and pretzels nearby and just write!

Where do you get your inspiration?
Oh everywhere! News broadcasts, a headline in the paper, conversations with friends, even had a Tweet one time inspire a book!

What do you do when you get a writer's block?
I’m fortunate. I don’t get it all that often, I really don’t. But, when I do, it’s usually because a character in my current work is just being stubborn! So, I pull out something else (I have about 30 books in various stages of production…), work on it for a while until Mr. or Mrs. Stubborn gets over themselves and wants to start playing nice again.

Who is your favorite author?
Oh wow. Another tough one. I like a little of everything, from the classics such as Tolstoy to Tolkien to Piers Anthony (I’m a huge fan of his and the first time I jumped ahead of him in the Fantasy category, I have to admit I did a little happy squee dance!) to the more modern like Julia Lake Mills, Kate Hill, Catherine Coulter and so on. It really depends on my mood at the time I guess. I’ve been reading most of my life and so I’ve had love/hate relationships with a lot of Authors out there.

Best book you ever read.
Again with the tough stuff! See above answer…*laughs* I could no sooner pick a “favorite/best book” as I could cut off my own toe…

Last book you read.
I actually just finished Julia Lake Mills Dragon Series and LOVED it! She’s totally awesome with the Hot Alpha Male who will move heaven and earth to save their lady loves and I love that…:D

What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
What I do now…*laughs* Yes, I’m being mysterious and that’s all I’m going to say about it…

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
Oh, *finally* an easy question! My mom. Sadly she passed away in 2003 – before she could see my and her dream come true – but I dedicate every book to her because she truly gave me a love for reading and writing and sinking into my own head for fun. She was a Professor of English Literature and I still remember, very vividly, the day she said to me, “I am so impressed with you honey. You truly have a gift with words…” I was like 12 I think and I still tear up thinking about it 20+ *cough* years later.
I miss her and still find myself, every once and a while, picking up the phone wanting to call her and share my joy over a new book I’ve finished…

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Oh, see above answer. I’d love to have my mom back, just for one day, so she could share the joy in this journey finally coming to fruition!

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Never, ever, give up! Keep working at it. Keep honing your craft.
And, Stephen King said it best I think: “If you wake up and all you can think about is writing…write!”

Oh, and one more…Give yourself *permission* to write crap. Complete and utter CRAP! Because, anything can be fixed in editing…*laughs*

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Kimono Art of ITCHIKU KUBOTA

Dear Gentle Readers,
    Five years ago, William and I had the distinct
pleasure of viewing this textile art exhibition in
Canton, Ohio at the Canton Museum of Art.  The
exhibition ran from February 8, 2009 to April 26, 2009.
and was only the second showing in the United States,
first appearing at the Timken Museum in San Diego in 2008 and ending in January, 2009.

    Itchiku Kubota was born in Japan in 1917 and became a textile art apprentice as a very young man.   His formal education and textile training were disrupted by the Second World War, when Itchiku was sent to war and  was captured by the Russians.   He was imprisoned in a concentration camp in Siberia, forgotten about by everyone except his family, and he drew and painted the Siberian sunsets in order to keep his sanity amid deplorable conditions.

Itchiku Kubota is best known for reviving and modernizing a lost art of fabric dyeing and decorating called "tsujigahana," which means
"flowers at the crossroads."  It was a technique used in the fifteenth century with natural dyes, but was lost because of it's difficulty in controlling the resulting shading of the textile.

Kubota's masterpiece, "Symphony of Light," was
a series of painted and elaborately decorated silk
kimonos that he said depicted "the grandeur of the universe."  The kimonos were displayed on large black frames and arranged in a giant oval
depicting a panoramic view of the seasons of the year.  The textiles were shaded so that they seamlessly blended into each other ever so slightly, allowing the viewer to almost see the movement of the earth as each breathtaking view is passed.  Once around the oval is not enough to take in the intricate design and the delicate beauty of the shading on the huge silk kimonos, creating
a mural of the natural loveliness of the Japanese countryside throughout the seasons.

 The sheer size of these large kimonos, set side by side, filling up the huge exhibit hall, was a scene to behold in itself.  But upon a closer examination of the subtly dyed silks and the elaborately decorated designs was truly inspirational and awe-inspiring.  It was a once in a lifetime, spectacular display that I will fondly remember.

Information for this article is from memory of my visit to the exhibition.  Photos are from the and also Canada's Homage to Nature page,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Review: MY MEMOIR OF MOTHERHOOD by Chantal Bellehumeur

5.0 out of 5 stars A Gentle, Touching MemoirJune 27, 2014
This review is from: My Memoir of Motherhood (Kindle Edition)
Memories of Motherhood by Chantal Bellehumeur is a gentle, touching memoir of a mother's years with her young son. It shows how she built a solid, loving bond with her child, despite having health and financial problems, and being a single parent. Chantal has a special way of telling her story. It's like sitting down with an old friend.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Christmas in July

Dear Gentle Readers,
   You may remember me telling you i submitted my Christmas short story, Madison's Christmas, to a publishing company to be included in a Christmas anthology.  Well, I have heard nothing back from them, so I am moving forward with Createspace to have paperbacks made available on Amazon. The cover has to be different, because I made the original cover by myself and it doesn't transfer well to their guidelines.  I would offer you, my readers, a sale to celebrate Christmas in July, but the kindle version (eBook) of Madison's Christmas is only $.99 and all proceeds go to St. Jude Children's Hospital, not just during the holiday season, but all year long.
   Below are some reviews and the current cover.  Here is a link to
   Have a great day.

5.0 out of 5 stars Another warm story !February 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Madison's Christmas (Kindle Edition)
Carol has a wonderful way of bringing love to the forefront. I have enjoyed several of her books,and am looking forward to reading more.You can feel that the characters all have a connection from book to book. Keep writing Carol .

5.0 out of 5 stars A Charming little story!January 24, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Madison's Christmas (Kindle Edition)
I found Madison's Christmas to be an extremely easy going read. I laughed and had fun reading this story. Made me feel good when I finished. The author sure knows how to bring her characters to life!

5.0 out of 5 stars ReadingJanuary 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Madison's Christmas (Kindle Edition)
I love the book and have recommended to members of my family. I would recommend this book to book lovers.

4.0 out of 5 stars Besides being a cute Christmas story...January 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Madison's Christmas (Kindle Edition)
Besides being a cute Christmas story, this novella is an excellent exploration of the demand of career on modern women and how we can get locked into job and social expectations. Madison is known as the "Dragon Lady" for her tough expectations for her employees, an attitude that helps her run a high-profile security business. She's reeling from the loss of her father and a co-worker, so perhaps that's why she doesn't correct a new employee when he doesn't realize she's the boss lady and instead treats her like an attractive, desireable woman. Now can Madison admit to the deception and get the guy? It's Christmas, the time for miracles!

5.0 out of 5 stars The best Christmas read!December 21, 2013
This review is from: Madison's Christmas (Kindle Edition)
This is a lovely story I highly recommend. Carol's wonderful writing is a joy to read. You won't be disappointed.

5.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical Christmas reading...December 20, 2013
This review is from: Madison's Christmas (Kindle Edition)
Kauffman creates an interesting organization headed up by a protagonist with several layers--she's strong, successful, and almost Byronic in that she can help other women so easily yet has a hard time helping herself. I was curious what personal hardship caused Madison to found a woman's outreach program and how that factored into her difficulties with intimacy and supposed need for control, and I liked the idea that new love can heal old wounds without replacing the people for which we felt the hurt.
Telling the truth in fiction makes it believable. I felt like Kauffman presented a Christmas scenario that speaks to those millions who experience grief around the holiday season and gives them some hope that things can change for them--if they have a little faith.

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful little read...December 15, 2013
Sandra J. Capicotti (Jupiter, Florida) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Madison's Christmas (Kindle Edition)
Refreshingly sweet and funny. A perfect love story for the holidays. This is not your typical boy meets girl plot.

5.0 out of 5 stars SweetDecember 13, 2013
This review is from: Madison's Christmas (Kindle Edition)
And short. Tight well done story that moves along nicely. I did enjoy it and will look for more by this author.

5.0 out of 5 stars Ooops you did it again...December 7, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Madison's Christmas (Kindle Edition)
Thoroughly enjoyed this short story with the theme of Christmas in the background. It was fast paced and an easy quick read. The character's were well developed and identifiable. The pacing and action of the characters made me think that this would be an ideal Hallmark movie. Kudos to you Carol Kauffman; you've done it again!

4.0 out of 5 stars Madison's Christmas Is A Lot of Fun!!November 12, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Madison's Christmas (Kindle Edition)
Madison's Christmas is a very funny, heartwarming story of love and loss at the happiest of holidays. It tells a sweet story of a woman who loses both her father and lover in a matter of a few months. Because of this, she doesn't want to celebrate the holidays and finds every reason to work, although she promises her sister she will be there to celebrate. An office mix-up causes a case of mistaken identity and shows Madison that we never know when love will enter our life again and the importance of never giving up. I enjoyed this short story very much and it is definitely a must read for Christmas lovers everywhere.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Interview with Author K. J. Rollinson

Kathy June Rollinson (K.J. Rollinson)
The Costa Blanca, Spain

Good morning, Kathy!  Welcome to Vision and Verse, The Place for Art and Authors. What have you written?
The Fallyn Trilogy. 'Fallyn and the Dragons,'  'Fallyn in the Forbidden Land,'
'Fallyn and the Sea Dragons'. A fantasy trilogy for anyone who likes fantasy books. Published on Amazon as soft books and kindle versions.
'The Rode to Justice', (John Rode, 1st grade detective, murder stories). Available from Amazon, only on Kindle. In one of the stories he quotes, 'This is a Court of Law, not a Court of Justice.'

What is your favourite genre to write? 
Although you may think that as I have written three fantasy books, and I am publishing 'A Twist of Fairy Tales' shortly, a modern twist of classic fairy tales, that fantasy is my favourite genre, but it is not. I enjoy writing in any genre, eg my crime book.  I am busy writing 'A Man Called Ian' at the moment a very adult book following the life of a young man, who goes to Africa.

Favorite food?  
Like my books, very difficult to categorise. I enjoy lots of things, depending on, as an example, the weather – here in Spain when it is very hot I tend to eat more salads.

Tea of coffee?
Weak tea, no sugar, but occasionally I like a coffee – weak and no sugar.

Pizza or ice cream. 
Again dependent on weather. Try to avoid both really.

Where would you like to visit?  
I used to think it was Australia but on 'Googling' about Africa for my new book 'A Man Called Ian,' particularly about Eritrea on the Red Sea, I would like to visit this part of the world. Especially as my favourite hobby was when I was younger was sub-aqua diving, and from my research I have learned this area is fantastic for diving. Going back to Australia I would want to dive on the great barrier reef. I just snorkel here in Spain.

Favorite musical artist.
I do not have one. Again, like my books and food, my music is varied. I like classical music, musicals and some pop, I line dance which keeps me in touch with the music scene. We recently learned dances to 'The Killers' and 'Lady Gaga' songs. 

Do you listen to music while you write
No I don't. I live on my own, so I have peace and quiet. Usually I get up at 5 am and after going through my emails I write for a few hours, leaving the rest of the day free for my other hobbies.

What makes you laugh?
  A humorous play, a book, a good joke. I don't like what I call slapstick humour, eg a programme on UK TV a few years ago 'Some Mothers Do Have Them' showed a young man doing everything wrong, and his patient wife, Betty, putting up with it – I'd have strangled him!

Favorite work of art or sculpture.
I am very fond of the paintings by Sherree Valentine Daines, a modern impressionist artist. Also I like classic impressionist artists such as Monet and Manet.

How old were you when you started writing?
I must have been about eight. I remember my first story was about a great big yacht, at least 20ft long!! I also remember writing my first poem called 'Pictures in the Fire' – that was when we used to have coal fires.

Describe your perfect evening.
That's easy living in Spain. A good open-air restaurant with a view of the sea.  Warm, relaxed company with friends, good conversation and lots of laughter.

Where do you get your inspiration?
A bit like the Martini advert really – anytime, anywhere. It can be a picture, a quotation, a book. I used to go to an art class and a friend painted a very proud dragon which inspired me to write a 500 story for her. From that it inspired me to write 'Fallyn and the Dragons.'  The second chapter in this book is more or less the story I wrote for my friend. From that it grew like Topsy and I went on to write the Fallyn trilogy.

What do you when you get writer's block?
I don't think I have experienced this. Usually I write every day. It can be 500 words, 5,000 words, depending on my mood or commitments. Quite often when I am swimming in the pool, or walking, my mind is thinking what the next chapter will be. I usually know the beginning and the end of the book. Once I start writing the characters seem to take over, and write their own story (with a little bit of guidance from me!).

What is your favourite author?
 Oh dear! Again, my answer must be like the answers I gave to food, music. I have no favourite author. All the books I read are usually by male authors, Wilbur Smith, Clive Cussler, James Patterson, Michael Crichton, Lee Child, etc. There are a few female writers I love, they include Tess Gerritsen, and Sharon Penman.

Best Book you have ever read. Again, sorry, I don't have a favourite. If you had asked me this question as a child I would have said without hesitation 'The Bondsman,' written by Hall Caine, a 19th century author, which my father had given to him as a Sunday School prize when he was a youngster. I have since re-read it, and I thought it old-fashioned and a bit maudlin, but at the time I thought it was so beautiful, it made me cry. Ah, the innocence of childhood. 

Last book you read. 
Another favourite author, Ken Follett,              
'The Hammer of Eden,' a suspense thriller.

What would you do for a living if you weren't a writer?  
I am retired. I used to work in administration, mostly in the NHS in the UK.  I suppose if you were to ask me what would I have preferred to do for a living I would say anything to do with animals. I don't mean a vet because I can't stand the sight of blood, but perhaps I could have worked for the RSPCA (Royal Society of  Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). I suppose in the end you choose a practical job - what will pay the mortgage and such.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?  
This a hard question to answer!  There have been many people consciously and unconsciously may have influenced my life, but one person sticks out in my mind. I don't know her name. She was a friend of my mother's and she wrote in an autograph book I had as a kid. She wrote, I quote below.

 Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever,
 Do noble things, not dream them all day long.

First two lines of the second stanza of a poem written by Charles Kingsley, 1819 – 1875.

These lines have influenced me a lot. Not that I have done noble things but because I am a dreamer. After all I get my inspiration for my books because I am a dreamer.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with one person, living or dead, real or fictional who would it be and why. 
Rupert Brookes, the poet, 1887 – 1915.  I love his poetry, and he was so handsome.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
You only have to read, as an example, Writing Magazine,which can sometimes give endless advice and how to write, ranging from where to write, when to write, what to write and read.

My advice would be practise, practise, practise. OK you must have a natural talent which has motivated you in the first place to write, but what works for one doesn't work for another. I write every day which may not appeal to everyone. When I first started writing seriously I used to put on paper whatever came to my mind. I didn't worry about editing until after I had written the piece. But, again, others may prefer to edit as they go along. Horses for courses I suppose.