Feeling rejuvenated

Last week, I had a dream about someone I’d never met. The very next day, I met the person in real life. My dreams have been very powerful, prophetic, and telling lately, providing insight, ideas for stories, and even brief escapes from reality. The nightmares haven’t ended, of course, but I’m grateful for even a short reprieve from those.

I’m filled with creative energy, bursting at the seams, and when I was able to change my perspective about the novel I’m currently working on, a few pieces fell into place, and I realized where I’d gone wrong. I ended up deleting at least three chapters, and removing the entire first section.

As I drove home in the pouring rain, I felt as if my father was sitting in the seat behind me, guiding me.

And I began a steady mantra to myself, a soft whisper in the back of my mind:

I will get an agent. I will sell a book to a big publisher. I will do it.

Because half the battle is the mindset. I’ve known this for many years, but it’s taken all that time to break out of the mold created for me when I was little, to shed the negative thinking I was brought up with.

I see where I made my mistake. I made my mistake when I believed the Voices I heard as a child, the ones that said I would never succeed. I made my mistake when I believed the people who scoffed at my dreams, crushing them like smoldering cigarette butts under their shoes. I see where I made my mistake.

Now I’m going to correct it.

New York Times Best Seller list, here I come.

Two Oceans
Two Oceans

Author Andrew P. Weston: If you had the power to make a difference . . . would you?

In a series of terrifying events, otherworldly beings intervene to save innocent lives. The world community reacts with relief as they realize that angels may in fact exist, and they are diligently protecting us.

But there are those who would seek to stop what they feel is a threat against their livelihoods. How far will some go to battle the Guardians? Is the fairy tale over before it even begins?

Guardian Angels is a powerful and compelling story about the catalyst that has the power to unite society in the hope for a better future. The spark of hope is fragile—can it last?

Welcome, Andy! Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in a little town called Bearwood in the UK. As the name suggests, it was an area of forests and woodlands and was all that remained of the once huge Forest of Arden of Middle-Ages fame. (Part of THAT was Nottingham Forest) . . . and we all knew who lived there. Ha-ha.

My family was 5th generation military– Royal Navy –and with that kind of heritage, it was a foregone conclusion which way my life would unfold. Despite being an avid sportsperson and also quite academic, I joined the Royal Marines. Life was “interesting” to say the least and I ended up serving in a number of specialist units. Just under nine years later, I joined the Police Service in the South West of the UK, and went on to serve in such diverse roles as a high speed pursuit driver, motorcyclist, and then later within Crime Intelligence.

Despite my gruff exterior, I love poetry, dancing and go all gooey with animals– but especially cats. An accident at work ended my career a little earlier than intended, but that gave me time to devote myself to the writing I’d wanted to do for quite a number of years.

Your background is really impressive! I’m sure you get a lot of ideas from it. What was the main inspiration behind Guardian Angels?

Bitter life experience. During my time in the military and my twenty-three years in the Police Service, I lost count of the incidents I had to deal with where someone’s life was changed forever by unexpected tragedy! Life is a very fragile thing, and “out of the blue” such things can strike when people least expect it, bringing untold calamity and suffering.

Attending those incidents often made me think, “What would have happened if we had got here sooner? Or if we had the resources or training to undo all this suffering and damage?”

That’s how the Guardian concept was born. The one accident that inspired me to actually put my thoughts together into a more structured form involved the death of a young boy on his way home at the end of a school day. Rush hour traffic is dangerous at the best of times. The scene was horrendous, as were the terrible sobs of the woman driving the vehicle he ran in front of. She was a mother herself, and her anguish was heart wrenching, even though there was nothing she could have done to avoid him. That’s why the opening chapter of Guardian Angels involves a young boy stepping out into the path of a truck. It describes what ALL the Emergency Service personnel there that day wish could have happened, had someone like a Guardian Angel been there to help. It describes what we’ve ALWAYS yearned to see for the people we serve. Can you imagine what it would be like if they were real?

What genre do you most enjoy writing?

I’ve always loved science fiction. I could read by the age of four and used to devour all the science fiction books in the library, so it’s inevitable I would gravitate towards that. However, now I’m getting my toe in the door, I’m discovering a bit of a “nose” for paranormal action / thrillers.

What is the easiest and most difficult thing about your genre? The easiest thing about those genres is the fact my warped and fragile mind is overflowing with ideas I want to get down in writing. The most difficult thing is to keep those ideas fresh. There’s a lot out there. I’m determined to make my stories different and appealing.

Who is your favorite character in your book, and what do you like most about him or her?

Commander Yasin. She’s based on my lovely wife. No-nonsense, stern, but with a quirky sense of humor. AT LAST I can get to tell her what to do! (Oooh, I’m gonna get it now!)

Do you get many of your ideas from your own life, or is your work mostly fictional?

While the concepts might be fictional– or a weird application of what I’ve experienced –I try to put as much of myself and what I know into the stories to add that anchor of realism. If it’s believable, people tend to relate to it more.

The science fiction of today is very often the science fact of tomorrow.

That is so true! How did you get started in publishing?

It took six months of research and preparation to get ready to start writing. Once I’d done it, I polished it, tweaked it– got it nearer to what you see now, and then submitted it to three publishers who didn’t mind multiple submissions. I got accepted almost instantly by two.

That’s a rare thing– congratulations! If you could share a tip for my readers about writing or publishing, what would it be?

Work with your editors closely! We are all influenced by life experience and can pick up habits that have become ingrained in us over the years. Our editors are there to take our little parcels of magic, and refine them into something cosmic. I have a tendency to wax lyrical. Thankfully, my editors have slapped my wrists and helped me begin to cut out the crap! I’m improving and so has the standard of my work. That can only benefit me and my stories in the future.

Thank you for visiting my blog, Andy!

Guardian Angels is available wherever books are sold, in both paperback and digital format. Buy direct from the publisher, or check it out on Amazon! It is a wonderful read.

Visit Andrew P Weston:

Website | Facebook | Blog

If You Follow Me

Hoping to outpace her grief in the wake of her father’s suicide, Marina has come to the small, rural Japanese town of Shika to teach English for a year. But in Japan, as she soon discovers, you can never really throw away your past . . . or anything else, for that matter.

If You Follow Me is at once a fish-out-of-water tale, a dark comedy of manners, and a strange kind of love story. Alive with vibrant and unforgettable characters—from an ambitious town matchmaker to a high school student-cum-rap artist wannabe with an addiction to self-tanning lotion—it guides readers over cultural bridges even as it celebrates the awkward, unlikely triumph of the human spirit.

This is one of the most delightful books I have ever read. I found it on the shelf at the library and could hardly put it down. Malena Watrous weaves a tale that we can all relate to. I was extremely touched by Marina’s journey after the death of her father, and her attempts to deal with her grief.

Divine messages come from the most unlikely of places. I often find that when I am dealing with something particularly trying, I happen upon a book that leaves me speechless and helps me to deal with whatever I am going through. If You Follow Me was one such book.

This past February, my father died. I am much too young to have lost my father. Although Marina lost her father to suicide, the death of one’s parent is still traumatic . . . especially since I only had three years to get to know my father. In many ways, Marina’s journey was my own. I am still dealing with the grief, and there are times when I break down.

I know my dad is here, watching out for me. In If You Follow Me, Marina sees her father in the strangest of places:

I don’t know how long I’ve been staring at the swarm of blue and white dots on the TV screen before they rearrange themselves into my father’s face, only that I’m not surprised when it happens. It’s like I’ve been waiting for this. “How did you find me?” I whisper, and the image flickers, disappears, then reappears.

Malena Watrous writes with a beautiful simplicity. Her writing found its way easily into my heart, reminding me of my own struggles. It’s funny how things come to us when we need them the most. In this case, it was this book. As a fiction writer, I know that I often wonder if anyone really “gets” anything meaningful out of my books. The thing is, you never really know when the words you write will be the words that someone else needs to hear. Thank you, Malena, for writing such a lovely book.

Writers: What’s the most annoying question you’ve ever been asked about your work?

For me, the most annoying question is, “How much of your novel is autobiographical?”

If Taking 1960 were autobiographical, I would be a tormented artist with psychotic relatives, and an apparent talent for solving decade-old serial murder cases.

If Check Out Time were autobiographical, I would be a somewhat homely girl with admirably large biceps, grease stains under her fingernails, steel-toed boots, and a dog named Diesel.

I am not either of these characters, and it grows tiresome when people continually confuse my life with my fiction. I know this happens to other authors. I attended a book talk once where the author was discussing her stories, which were loosely based on events in her childhood. In the book, the character’s father was a negligent drunkard (or something to that effect) and people in the author’s family were wondering if she was slyly revealing long-kept family secrets.

In a way, the confusion can be a compliment. Perhaps I have created such a believable world that people can’t help but think it’s an expression of my own life.

It does cause problems, though. When my mother first read the book, she was very upset, and wanted to know why I had killed her off. It took a lot of explaining to make her realize that Naomi is not me, and Naomi’s mother is not my mother. I pointed out some very large differences: Naomi’s mother is curvaceous, short-haired, and enjoys baking cookies. My mother is none of these things.

How much of Check Out Time is real?

Well, mostly just my experiences. Initially, I came up with the concept when I was working overnight in a grocery store, and when I had just met my dad again in 2008. I made up Naomi, gave her some of my interests, and gave her a few situations that I was familiar with.

To me, “write what you know” means “write the sorts of things that you’re familiar with.” I think some people take the phrase too seriously. Especially with fiction, people wonder if the author experienced the same things as the main character, or if the main character is based on them.

For example, the latest gossip centers around E.L. James and Fifty Shades of Grey. Everyone keeps whispering, “You’d have to know a lot about that stuff in order to write it.”

So, does E.L. James have a BDSM dungeon in her basement? Maybe.

Did anything in Check Out Time really happen? Most of it didn’t.

Writers: What’s the most annoying question you’ve ever been asked about your work? 

Have you ever written anything with a particular goal in mind, only to have readers interpret it completely differently? How did this affect you? 

Leave a comment: I would love to hear your thoughts!

How my father inspired Check Out Time

As I sit here, still sick, still grieving from the loss of my father, I am thinking about how this loss was the devastating force behind so much of what I have done over the last year or so. Since yesterday was Father’s Day, I write this in his honor, just as I created the character of Roy Vogler, in Check Out Time, for my dad.

If I remember correctly, Dad’s accident was on January 23, 2010. I was determined to believe that he would recover, despite the stroke, and that things would continue as they had. I pictured myself moving back to Pennsylvania, driving over to his house and visiting Dad and my sisters, having dinner with him, all of us echoing the same sentiment: “Dear God, we came so close to losing you.”

This fantasy didn’t come to fruition. I lost Dad, for the second time in my life. I had three years to get to know my father all over again. I cannot even begin to describe how grateful I am for those three years. I try not to think about the what-ifs and the maybes. There have been a lot of moments where I have thought to myself, “If only I had contacted him sooner.” But the fact is, we reconnected when we did, and I have to accept that fact. In reality, things were the way they had to be.

But, oh! To be sitting across from him and realize how much we had in common. It was a mind-boggling experience. I tried to make Roy Vogler as close to the character of my father as possible, but I probably didn’t succeed %100. After all, the circumstances in my book are different, and Roy’s daughter isn’t completely me. There are aspects of Naomi Vogler that match my personality, but there are many things about the two of us that are different. Fact versus fiction– a novel doesn’t have to be accurate, it just has to entertain. But in my case, Check Out Time is not just a piece of entertainment fiction; it is an expression of how much I miss and love my father, the real Roy Vogler– Dennis Godshall, Sr.

Those of you who know me well enough will ask me if I’ve seen him. Yes, I have. I can get ready for bed at night and firmly ask, “Dad, I would like to see you in my dream tonight. Please visit me.” He will be there.

I know that I am not alone. He is far away, and it’s not easy for him to visit, but he manages it. It usually happens when I’m driving. I get the distinct impression that I am not alone. Very shortly after his death, on February 17, 2012, I was in school and I kept hearing people say things that sounded like something Dad would say. The feeling grew stronger when I heard someone whistling the theme to the Andy Griffith Show; that was something that Dad did well. When I went outside that night, there was no one behind me in the dark parking lot, and I felt a distinct tug on my sweatshirt. I knew it was Dad.

Our loved ones never really leave us. I know that Dad watches over me. The last time I saw him in the nursing home, I held his hand. When I cried, his forehead crinkled, and he stared fixedly at me the whole time. His lips parted as if he wanted to speak, but he couldn’t. I told him, “Dad, if you come to visit me, I will know it’s you. I will see you. We’ll never be all that far from each other.”

I am not well. As I try to recover from my physical sickness, I feel the hurt in my heart. The only photograph that I have of Dad and I, taken months or a year before his accident, is sitting by my laptop. I see his face every day. And I consider how this heartbreak drove me to change my life in some very large ways.

I remember standing in Dad’s house and saying excitedly, “Dad, I’m writing a book with you in it! You’re going to be one of the characters.”

Now, I want to say to my father, “Dad, I wish you could be here to see this book with you in it. I miss you more than I can say.”

I solved my own personal Mystery when I was reunited with my father. I saw how alike we were, and it was an eye-opener for me. In Check Out Time, Roy says to Naomi, “Like father, like daughter.” It’s the same in real life. After Dad’s accident, I made a concrete decision to go to school for Automotive, and decided that, one day, I would open my own automotive repair shop. Dad has influenced my life so much. I am always thinking, “I wish he were here to see it.”

But then I remember– He is here. And he always will be.

PWC Book Club: Now reading Taking 1960

The PWC Book Club is reading my Paranormal Mystery novel, Taking 1960, for the month of June. I am honored! Click here to view the e-Book on Oaklight’s website, and read more about my first Mystery novel.

About the book club:

The Pagan Writer’s Community book club reads and discusses one pagan themed book each month. Our affiliation with Pagan Writers’ Community means that most members are writers as well as readers (but this isn’t a requirement for membership.) We may post discussion topics or study questions of our own or borrowed from other sources, but all participation is optional. Feel free to discuss each month’s book as much or as little as you like, post your own questions, or link to relevant articles or files elsewhere. When possible, we hope to direct members to free or discounted e-books or online texts of our chosen books. If you’re searching for a place where intelligent pagan writers discuss pagan books–this is it.

What are we reading next?

July — The Magic of Findhorn by Paul Hawken
August — Stalking The Goddess by Mark Carter

How can I participate?

Click here to visit the PWC Monthly Book Club on Facebook. Join the group, pull up a chair, and you’re in! We would love to have you.

All in a day’s work

I work at a library during the day, and when I get home, I try to go for a walk around sunny North Palm Beach.  Then I eat, have a cup of tea, and settle down to edit.  Some days are more difficult than others.  For example, there are some evenings that a certain furry friend of mine feels that I am not paying enough attention to her.

That’s Petunia.  She thinks that editing is a waste of time, and that I should be petting her and playing with her.  Her favorite game is “fetch”.  I throw a little toy mouse, and she fetches it, and brings it back to me.

“What are you doing? You should be petting me instead!”

I have done all of the editing that I needed to do tonight, so perhaps I will go play with Petunia.  Or maybe I will be scolding her instead, because she loves to scratch things and tear furniture apart.  Well, I suppose I have my job, and she has hers . . . .

The Lustre by Kate Policani


Kate Policani has just released her second book, The Lustre! I am proud to take part in her virtual Launch Party.  Today is the last day! I will be posting the review very soon.  In the meantime, visit Kate’s website and read more about her latest book.

The Lustre

Hidden within Human society is an entrancing race of beings who look just like us. They are the Akataromai. Originating on Earth, they conceal themselves, blending within the Human population. Though they appear to be Human, mature Akataromai live for centuries and feed upon negative Human emotions. Angelina Quorra is an Akataromai, a Human-looking girl who might never die. But Angelina is unique among her people, absorbing pain as well as emotion and giving anyone who feeds her overwhelming pleasure. This is her story, told by the men who adore her. Her talent is called The Lustre, bringing her great fame, and great trouble.

The inspiration behind The Lustre

“The Lustre actually started out as a vampire story. The way it was written was too salacious for my tastes with the vampire genre, so I shelved it for a long time while I tried to figure out what to do to make it less obscene. One evening my husband and I were discussing it and he came up with the idea for drinking emotions rather than blood.

“Somewhere in the discussion, we also were talking about how a character’s attributes are often enhanced by the opinions of other characters rather than just a straight description. I was fascinated by this concept and so I changed the voice of the book to reflect the points of view of the male characters. You’ll notice that Angelina never speaks for herself in the story.

“I originally was going to release it unedited as a free e-book, but I got scolded so much by my friend Cynthia, who loved the story, that I decided to expand it, edit it, and publish it.”

About the Author

Kate Policani is a homemaker and compulsive writer from Seattle. She has a wild imagination and an addiction to reading and writing. Her hobby is exploring and analyzing all kinds of stories. She uses them like a literary chemistry set to examine a variety ideas and concepts and to fuel her own writing. The Science Fiction and Fantasy genres are her favorites because the exciting flights of fancy make a thrilling plot. Every day is filled with the stories of those around us, especially in this information age. It is her passion to find what stories inspire her and others, and why they inspire. There are more than 80 stories waiting on her hard drive, incubating and developing for future reading! What will she come up with next?