Exclusive Interview with

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When did you start writing?

I started writing as a young child. I once told a friend that I was going to write novels and she responded by telling me that eight-year-olds cannot write novels. Well, she was right...but I did publish my first novel in my sixties!

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What makes writing your passion?

Writing is my passion because it is the way I can share so much with so many. This includes my love for family, my dedication to education and my fascination with history and the human psyche.

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How long have you been writing?

I have written and journaled since I learned my letters. However, I first began writing as an education professional, writing two trade books before I published my first novel.

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What was the feeling when you published your first book?

It was so exciting and uplifting when I published my first book, "Career Pathways: Preparing Students for Life" (Corwin, 2004). My first publication also launched my educational consulting business in assisting schools to build curriculum and career pathway systems for student achievement and transitioning.

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What’s the story behind your choice of characters?

In my novel, "Young Man on the Front Line: Lessons of War," the characters are my father, Sgt. Chris Makas, and a few of his men. The characters are all real and I built their personalities on the stories my dad told me.

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What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?

Well, for me it is the promotion part. I love the writing but promoting my book also means promoting 'me' and as a public servant (educator) I'm not very good at self or social media promotion!

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How do you get over the “writer’s block”?

I have a trick for writer's block. I refuse to believe in it. A person can always write something...even about not being able to write. I tell my students to put anything down on paper. It is easier to work with 'junk' than a blank page. Also, other tips for steady writing is outlining and not always writing sequentially.

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We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?

What keeps me going is making sure my writing tells a passionate, important and often overlooked tale that combines my love for teaching with my love for writing. Humans learn by story...and there is nothing like a good story!

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If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?

Get beyond yourself. It is harder to take risks when you worry about how things look or how people will take this or that. Live your life with passion - get out of your own way.

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Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?

I would love to have more book reviews! I have a few on Amazon but it is not always comfortable for me to push others to review my work.

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What is the feeling when you get a good review?

How do I feel l when I get a good review - Soaring! I think, "yes, they got it!"

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Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Yes, I have absolutely used my life experiences in my books. In my trade books I shared my experiences in the field. In my novel, I shared conversations and events that occured between the main character (who was my father) and me.

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Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?

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What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?

The book cover is important and such a fun part of putting all the pieces to your book together. It ranks right up there with the title. It's tricky because you cannot 'catch' everyone so you have to ask yourself, "What audience is my title and/or cover going to best pull in?"

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Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?

I would love to connect to my readers. I have a quite a few times in person (when I do a book presentation or talk). My book has an email where readers can contact me. The book's email address is young.man.on.the.front.lines@gmail.com

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How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?

It feels better to me when people recognize the sacrifice of the characters and events in the novel than appreciation or recognition of me. The heros here is not the storyteller but those who actually sacrificed and taught us so much by their life's testimony. I am just the messenger.

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Who is your favorite author? Why?

My favorite writer is Ernest Hemingway. However it is more of a fickled love affair. I love the way Hemingway writes - his sentence structure. Yet, what he chose to write about is not always of interest to me. I mostly enjoy reading his autobiographical writings.

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What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?

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Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?

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If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?

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What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.

Trolls! Ugh. Hey, life is full of unhappy people. Pray for them and move on!