Conversations With Colleen: Meet Author, Victoria Zigler

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you an amazing author, Victoria (Tori) Zigler. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions. 

Tori is visually impaired but that didn’t stop her determination to write. When I searched Amazon for her books there was a large selection of poetry and children’s books, available in multiple formats from a variety of online retailers. Her creativity will inspire you!

I schedule many of these posts far in advance, so to keep you in the loop, Tori notified me that she is under the weather and will respond to comments as soon as she can. I’m sending lots of healing energy her way! ❤

First, please meet my guest, Tori Zigler.

Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids.  Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’swandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.
 
To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future.  She makes her books available in multiple ebook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio.  She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Victoria’s Page: http://www.zigler.co.uk/victoria.htm

Hi, Colleen. Thanks so much for this interview. 

Hi Tori. I’m glad you’re here. You’ve published a ton of books. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I ever spent as a writer has to be the money I spent on my computer chair.

It might sound strange to care so much about my chair; especially to anyone reading this who doesn’t work at a computer.  But a good quality chair is worth paying out for if you’re a writer. In fact, if you do any job that has you sitting down at the computer a lot.

Though I regularly get up to stretch my legs, play with the dog, or do something else for a bit, I spend a large amount of my day at the computer.  Having a good quality chair to sit on is a must if I want to avoid back pain.  If you don’t have one, I suggest you do something about that.  Your back will thank you for it! I know mine has been grateful since I invested in a good quality chair.

Tori, I know you’re an animal lover. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I have two actual spirit animals, who found me when I took my first steps on to my spiritual path in my late teens.  One is an owl, and the other is a tiger.  But I don’t use either of them for my writing mascot, or even talk about them to others much. In fact, I think this might be the first time I’ve mentioned them to anyone – besides my hubby – outside of groups specifically for those kinds of discussions.  It’s definitely the first time I’ve mentioned them in an author interview, that’s for sure.

Read about Tori’s spirit animal: The West Highland White Terrier

My writing mascot is a West Highland White Terrier.  Not just any Westie though.  He’s the West Highland White Terrier who was beside me as I started on my publishing journey.  His name was Castellan Keroberous, and “Keroberous Publishing” – the publisher name attached to my paperback and audiobooks – comes from him. 

Tori and Kero

He crossed over the rainbow bridge a little more than four years ago, and we have another Westie now.  Her name is Lilie.  But it’s Kero who you will see photos of all over my website, and Kero who will have his picture on my business cards when I finally get around to having them made.

Do it

(CLICK HERE to find your own spirit animal).

Your books are so creative. Do you base your characters on real people?

Kero the Westie, from my “Kero’s World” series, is based on my own West Highland White Terrier.  Yes, the one who’s also my writing mascot.  As mentioned above, his name was Keroberous, but I used the shortened form of his name since I figured children would be able to say Kero more easily; many people struggle to say his proper name, so he was often just called Kero anyhow. 

Each of his seven books is based on semi-fictionalized accounts of his own life.  Although, the second half of the final book, “Kero Crosses The Rainbow Bridge” is just what I like to think happened. 

Kero is also the inspiration for Yua the Westie in “Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt” and – less obviously –Cubby the polar bear in “Cubby And The Beanstalk” (I sometimes said he looked like a polar bear cub, and “Cubby” was one of the nicknames we sometimes used for him, if you’re wondering how a polar bear can be based on a dog).

Similarly, my latest release, “Where’s Noodles?” is based on the attempts of our Westie girl, Lilie, to find her favourite toy.  Well, she had to have a book too, didn’t she? *wink*

Click here for the Audible Audiobook, Unabridged (FREE with your audible trial)

Additionally, all four of my degu books contain characters inspired by my four degus. My “Degu Days Duo” books actually have them appearing as themselves: Jacob, Jasper, Jenks, and Joshua. 

Learn about the degu HERE.

In“Degu’s Day Out” Oscar is named after the brother of Luna, who was a female degu we adopted, though the character is based on my Jasper, who took any chance he could to go exploring. 

While the degu in “How To Trust Your Human” is my remaining degu, Joshua, under the name of Buddy (the name I used for all four degus if I wasn’t entirely sure which I was talking to, or wanted the attention of all four).

I have several stories I’d like to write containing some of my other past or present pets too.  In fact, the adventure story I’m currently working on contains my rats, Star and Skye, who joined Kero across the rainbow bridge almost two years ago.

Oh, and I also have three poetry collections containing poems written for, about, or on behalf of, various pets.  The collections “Rodent Rhymes And Pussycat Poems” and “Puppy Poems And Rodent Rhymes” are only about mine and my hubby’s pets, while “My Friends Of Fur And Feather” contains poems about a couple of pets belonging to other family members too, though the focus is on my own pets.

Your creativity knows no bounds. You have written so many great characters and books. I have to ask… Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Yes. My “Toby’s Tales” series is based on my own experiences after I lost the last of my sight.  Each book deals with a different aspect that I was struggling with.

I’d tried to write an entire non-fiction piece about it, but couldn’t, even though I felt like I needed to write about it.  Then a friend suggested I tried fictionalizing it to see if giving myself that little bit of distance would help.  It did, and I ended up writing a five book series.

In the first book, Toby learns he’ll never see again, and struggles with accepting this fact, as well as dealing with the frustration of doing things that seem simple, until you try to do them without sight.  I used examples like eating without getting food on yourself, figuring out which is your toothbrush in a cup full of identical brushes, etc.  He also learns some ways to make those tasks easier for him to manage.

In the second book, Toby struggles with being unable to check what sounds are, and the fear of imaginary monsters his mind creates to explain the sounds.  He then learns a way to deal with that fear.

In the third book, Toby struggles with feeling left out when the activity everyone else is enjoying is very visual, and his whole family learns how much difference it can make to Toby if people explain things so he can be included in some way.

In the fourth book, Toby learns about how losing his sight doesn’t mean he can’t still do the things he loves.  It just might mean changing the way he does them.

In the fifth and final book, Toby attends a school for the blind, where he learns about Braille, and that he’s not alone in his struggles.

The whole series was written as a way to help myself accept, and adjust to, my new situation, since I was finding it difficult to do, despite having known since childhood I’d one day lose my sight.  But, it also serves as a way to potentially help others dealing with the same issues, or to educate friends and family of the visually impaired, who may not understand the struggles their friends or loved ones are dealing with.

Tori, you are such an inspiration. Have you ever used the weather for motivation, in terms of bringing out your literary best?

I can, and do, write in any weather, as long as it’s not so hot my brain is melting. I don’t cope with hot weather very well in general.  But bad weather, like storms and snow, seems to inspire me most.  You can especially see this reflected in my poetry, where storms and snow are common themes.  In fact, I’m going to share one of those poems with you.

It’s an old one, which appeared in my collection “Mr. Pumpkin-Head And Other Poems” back in 2012, and was a few years old when that book was published since I wrote it back in 2006.  But, it’s one of the favourites of my older poems, so I’m going to share it anyhow, and hope you enjoy it.  Here it is:

Wolves, Waterfalls & Bears

Like wolves howling in the darkness
The wind howls outside my door
Like a waterfall flowing from the sky
The rain pours… then pours some more

And like a bear in hibernation
I cuddle up warm and snug
With a blanket wrapped around me
And hot cocoa in my mug

© 2006 Victoria Zigler

What a great poem. Thanks so much for the visit, Tori. 

You’re welcome. Thanks for the invite. 

How to contact Author, Victoria Zigler

Blog: www.zigler.co.uk

Twitter: @VictoriaZigler

Facebook: Tori Zigler

k luv u bye

 Thanks for stopping by to meet Tori. ❤

#Fairies, #Myths, & #Magic Author Spotlight Guest Post – “What Happened in the Woods,” By L. T. Garvin


Welcome to my Author Spotlight – Guest Posts feature. As you can see from the image above, I am looking for themed posts about fairies, myths, and magic. If you are an interested author and would like to be featured on my blog, please click HERE to find out more. ~Colleen~


Today, I would like to introduce you to Author, Lana Broussard who writes under the pen name of L.T. Garvin. Her short stories have appeared in print in the Texas Writer’s Journal. She has published poetry online via The Drabble, Poet’s Corner, Silver Burch Press and Wildsound Poetry Festival. L.T. writes fiction, poetry, essays, and humor that she publishes on her blog: L.T. Garvin @ WordPress. L.T. Garvin is the author of Confessions of a 4th Grade AthleteAnimals Galore and Dancing with the Sandman.

Today, Lana has an unusual tale to share with you. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and read on!

Author, L. T. Garvin

“What Happened in the Woods”

By L. T. Gavin

     I was headed out once and for all – gonna get away from Bob, my bipolar mistake. My plan was to get to Ashborough, another town, then from there, I wasn’t sure… Maybe call Eileen, ditch the car? One thing about it, the further north I headed, there was more trees. Maybe I could hide and get lost in them. I was still shaking, thinking about what Bob would do to my dog when he discovered I was gone. I couldn’t take him. I knew this, the one friend that I had where I might possibly hide, had told me she couldn’t take the dog. In a violent rage, in which he often was, Bob had threatened to shoot him in front of me. I had left the back gate opened, and told Beau to go, I remember him looking back at me like I had lost my mind, which apparently, I had.

I drove through the town, and outside of it, the number of trees increased like diametrically opposed soldiers marching to battle. I had grown up in the sparseness of the west Texas desert, so I appreciated the giant towering green tree lords, gateway to the wilderness. I planned to drive for awhile, and I was hoping there would be someplace to stop. I needed something to eat and maybe some drink caffeine to get my wits about me.

The evening shadows started creeping in, although I was still in deep drama, I wasn’t as panicked as when I started this journey. I noticed a convenience store up on the right, tucked into a fold of trees, “Kat’s Corner Store.” I pulled into an absolutely empty parking lot.

Inside the store, a middle-aged brunette woman greeted me. “Hello, how are you doing?”

I smiled quickly, I didn’t want to talk to anyone too much. I could smell burritos, something I was interested in after not eating all day.

“Oh, you have fresh food?”

“Yes we do, the food counter is back there to your left.”

“Thanks,” I said.

I watched her slow smile…

“You’re welcome darling.”

As I rounded the corner, I saw another woman also with brown hair cooking the food. As she raised up from putting utensils in the bin, I noticed that she also looked just like the other woman up at the front.

Oh, wow. You two ladies are twins!” I said, gesturing towards the front cash register.

“No, not at all,” said the woman, giving me a curt look.

“Oh, I mean, I think you two look so much alike,” I stammered. “I guess people tell you that,” I smiled.

“Nope, not at all,” she returned.

I felt foolish and too chatty at the same time.

“What would you like?” she asked.

“Are those BBQ sandwiches?”

“Yes, they are,”

“OK, I will have one.”

The seemingly offended woman put the sandwich in the bag.

“Have you ever tried our churros?”

“No, I’ve never been here,” I replied.

She scooped a serving of the cinnamon sprinkled sticks in a bag and placed with the sandwich.

“Lite dessert, delicately golden friend with cinnamon sugar sprinkles,” she said.

“Oh, well thanks,” I said.

“And on the house,” she responded.

“Thank you.”

I picked up a can of ice tea and walked up front to the woman at the front counter to pay.

“That’ll be $7.38. Oh wonderful, I see you are trying the churros, you’ll love them. Where are you headed?”

“I’m going to see a friend,” I said.

“That’s nice, it’s a lovely evening to drive. There’s a table outside if you like.” She smiled and touched a pretty Lapis pendant around her neck.

“Thanks again,” I took my food and went outside. It was rather nice out there, the large fir trees swayed in the breeze, my panic and my hatred of Bob had somewhat quelled. I ate the sandwich, then absently grabbed the churro sticks although I was trying not to eat sweets. They were indeed sugary, and the cinnamon was almost overpowering. I found myself to be in no hurry, although I did wonder why the store had no other customers, it was almost as though I had fallen off the ends of the earth.

At some point, I must have gotten up from the table and got into my car. Still feeling oddly calm and separated from my predicament, I was driving and watching the landscape become denser. I couldn’t even remember seeing all these trees before, they became even larger in an almost menacing sort of manner. The highway had given way to some kind of small road, and I knew I was lost. I pulled the car over – trying to punch in the GPS on my phone. Bob had called – 15 times. The road ahead resembled a trail, my phone wasn’t working all I could do, was turn back – I went to get into my car, and the door would not open, I kept hitting the unlock button.

“What the…..??” I screamed. My voice filtered upward, then vanished. Dusk was falling, what was I doing here in the middle of nowhere, how had I taken a wrong turn on the highway?”

I stuffed my keys into my purse and decided to walk. There was no choice. Bears? Madmen? Whatever was in the woods, I couldn’t think about it. Resolutely I trudged, jumping at the sound of birds screeching. Then I heard the sound of rushing water, some sort of river or spring. I walked toward it. I don’t know why, everything seemed hopeless, lost as if I weren’t already. I sat down by this river and looked into the water. I no longer felt I could walk, my legs were heavy, my thoughts deep. As I stared, a big splash came from the center of it, and all of a sudden, two men surfaced from the water, fighting with swords. I shook my head, behind them was an army. I shook my head again, what complete madness! I was bonafide crazy. The river and shoreline came alive right there in front of me.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

A pale woman with ashen gray skin, and fine brown hair engulfing her face like spider legs, appeared in front of me in a forlorn mist.

“What do you want?” she said. She held her hand out toward me, then turned.

It was as if I was acting in a 3-D fantasy adventure. The war in the river raged on, the ashen girl now floated above the river. There was even a man screaming, “Plague!”

I turned and my heart leaped into my throat. It looked like Bob. Then he saw me, and stared at me with his red eyes, smirking while I sat there on the bank. A knight fell in front of me, and he was bleeding. The sound of death echoed, a heavy foreboding knell. Archers rose up, fired their arrows. The dead lady’s hands began to bleed. I felt sick, so incredibly sick.

“You there! Beware the battle! You linger too close to the edge!”

I turned, and there was the brunette woman from the convenience store.

“It’s you!…What are you doing here?”

She smiled. She wore a long, white dress, and her lips were red as Snow White’s poisoned apple. Around her neck was the Lapis eye pendant.

“It’s true, she who hesitates is lost.” Then she began to melt in front of me.

“No, wait! Where are you going? Don’t leave, I need help!” My words fell on hollow ears. She was gone. In the middle of the river, the Ashen Lady was motioning to me. I shook my head. Then, it was as if the bottom fell out of the convoluted world I was in and I must have fainted.

“Darlin’ are you ok?” I heard a voice. I looked into the eyes of the convenience store clerk.

“Now take it easy, you must’ve had a dizzy spell out here.”

“Where’s my car?”

“Well, it’s right here,” she said pointing. We were in the parking lot of the convenience store.

“But how did it get here?”

“You drove it to the store. Don’t you remember coming into the store? You need some coffee.”

“You are the same woman, and you are even wearing the Lapis necklace. You weren’t twins, there’s just one of you!” I shouted.

She just shook her head. “My shift is over,” she said and just like that, walked away.

I got up shaky but steady and walked into the store. A blonde woman was behind the counter now.

“How can I help you?”

© L.T. Garvin 2017


BUY ON Amazon


BUY ON Amazon

Nate, a 4th grader in West Texas, tells his story about life in Sportsville, USA.  The story will ring true to those of you in big football/baseball/basketball states.

Appropriate for all children, 4-10 and any adult who likes sports stories!

LT Garvin writes with a sly humor that will even make the most stoic adult laugh.

And of course, Corbin Hillam’s illustrations accurately portray those “sports moments.”

❤ CONNECT WITH L. T. GARVIN ❤

L.T. Garvin is a huge fiction fan and literature lover. She enjoys writing fiction, short stories, and attempts at poetry. L.T. has a particular fondness for Southern literature, possibly because they have such good food and bigger than life stories in the South. She currently has two books available, Confessions of a 4th Grade Athlete, which is a humorous children’s book about Nathan and his exuberant experiences in school and sports, and Animals Galore, and a novel. Dancing with the Sandman will be published in Fall 2017. L.T. Garvin maintains a blog where she writes fiction, poetry, and humorous essays.

L.T. Garvin WordPress Blog

L.T. Garvin Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodreads

Thanks for stopping by to meet Lana. See you soon! 

#Fairies, #Myths, & #Magic Author Spotlight Guest Post – “The Fantasy World of Belinda Miller”

Welcome to my Author Spotlight Guest Posts

“I have started a new feature on my blog, called Author Spotlight – Guest Posts. As you can see from the image above, I am looking for themed posts about fairies, myths, and magic. If you are an interested author and would like to be featured on my blog, please click HERE to find out more.” ~Colleen~

graphics-fairies-472152

I met Belinda Miller on Facebook well over a year ago. We hit it off immediately because as you can see, she loves everything that is magical. Fairies, gnomes, elves… we both love it all.

I was so impressed with her children’s fantasy books that I asked her to read my debut novel and tell me what she thought. Her words brought tears to my eyes and I knew I was finally on my way to becoming an author. Belinda and I have shared many laughs since then. I know you will love her as much as I do.

Please meet my friend, Belinda Miller – children’s fantasy author extraordinaire!

graphics-fairies-508064

A story started in the land of Winterfrost in 2011, when a retired ex-teacher met an artist who drew amazing, fantastical illustrations for his children. The artwork reflected the games they played amongst the garden gnomes and squirrels where they lived.

The imagination of the children ran wild — a castle, gnomes, a squirrel, dinosaurs, a witch, goblins, trolls, a wizard — or two, dragons and, of course, fairies.

The teacher was fascinated by these wonderful drawings and asked the artist if he had any plans to write a book. “Maybe, someday,” he replied, “but I’m an artist, not a writer.”

Two years and one broken back later, the artist asked the teacher to write his stories. The first book, filled with some of these fantastical drawings: Phillip’s Quest, Book I: Winterfrost.

In the last four years I have managed to publish three books in the Phillip’s Quest series: Book I, Winterfrost; Book II, Above the Stars, Book III, Across the Elusive Sea, and two books in the Ragworts of Brokenfell trilogy, The Beginning, and Along the Way.

 

And so, began Phillip Tuber, the gnome’s quest to the land “unbelievably beautiful and unbearably cold,” Winterfrost. From the ice and cold of the land of Winterfrost, Phillip and his companions must face perils of cosmic proportions and villains of epic badness.

Another series evolved from Phillip’s Quest and was written based on a family of gnomes that Phillip met on his way to the fateful Farmer’s Market — a family from Brokenfell — the Ragworts. And so the Ragworts of Brokenfell found themselves in their own trilogy of the same name.

The second book, Along the Way, made finalist for two separate categories in the 2016 International Indie Awards.

In November 2017, the final book of the trilogy, the Ragworts of Brokenfell, The Reunion, comes to an end, but they start a new life in Twistedoak, the home of Phillip Tuber.

As a reading developmental teacher who started her career in the late 1970s in a distressed elementary school in Kansas, I was presented with a large, empty classroom devoid of books and materials.

“It was the work I did as a senior in college and my love of literature that enabled me to create a curriculum using classical literature from Little House on the Prairie to Shakespeare!”

Kids went crazy over books I could customize for their reading level and interest. Eventually, my curriculum was shared within the State with other reading teachers and utilized by many.

One topic that was always universally loved by the children was, and still is, fantasy. Through fantasy, children could lose themselves in other worlds, live with exotic creatures, and be whatever they wanted. They didn’t have to live in the turmoil of everyday life and could choose the role of hero or villain.

Because of experiencing that in my own world, as well as the world of those children I taught, I knew that my first books would be children’s books, and Winterfrost was born.

The third book, The Reunion, will be released this November.

Currently, my first adult novel is being submitted to publishers and another is a work in progress. These two books are my first attempt and writing thrillers, involving another quest — a quest for little known religious artifacts.

As Albert Einstein is credited for saying, “Logic will take you from point A to B, imagination will take you anywhere.”

Belinda Miller

Author, Belinda Miller

MEET BELINDA MILLER

A native New Yorker, I now make my home, with my husband and two entertaining felines, in Manassas, Virginia. I have had a full life — living in foreign countries and traveling all over the globe. As a child, my mom always called me the gypsy — always ready for a new adventure.

I guess that explains the vast diversity of my life and my great love of people –especially small people — children. After careers in the corporate and academic realm, degrees in literature, the language arts and education, and a bout with a broken back, I wrote and published my very first children’s book in 2013!

Based on the amazing illustrations of Dean Kuhta and the stories he fabricated for his children, while playing amidst a garden gnome, Phillip came alive in Phillip’s Quest, Book 1: Winterfrost.

My second book, a compliment to the Phillip’s Quest series,  The Ragwort Chronicles, The Beginning, was published the following year – and was re-released in May 2015. Of all my accomplishments, I am the proudest of my books!

An only child, I was born into a large Italian-American family. My mother was an incredible cook, but a more incredible woman. Like her, I love to cook and watch people eat! Because of her influence, each book contains recipes from the characters, themselves!

Even though I was diagnosed with FSHMuscular Dystrophy at age 22, a slowly degenerating disease, it gave me the opportunity to do a lot of living in a very short time. Now, I have time to do what I truly love. Write my books, and foster literacy.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and indoor

❤ CONNECT WITH BELINDA MILLER ❤

website: https://belindamiller.me/  Winterfrost Publishing

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/WinterfrostCastle/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bella772013/?hl=en

Twitter: @bella772013

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cowabungaThanks for stopping by to meet Belinda. Happy Labor Day! ❤