Larry Cavender is a retired high school English teacher and a former broadcast journalist, with stints as a radio disc-jockey and news reporter as well as a cable television sports play-by-play and color commentator. He is also a veteran having served twenty-four years with the 116th Tactical Fighter Wing of the Georgia Air National Guard based at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia and later at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia. The retired Technical Sergeant was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for service in southwest Asia during Operation Southern Watch in 1998, and also received the Georgia Commendation Award for volunteer service during the great middle Georgia floods of 1994. In 1984, Cavender graduated with high honors with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education from Kennesaw State University and was twice named to Who's Who in American Universities. In 1981, he was named the Cherokee County, Georgia, Business Person of the Year. He is now a part time news reporter and features writer for the Pickens County Progress newspaper in Jasper, Georgia. Before publishing his latest book, The World Turned Upside Down: A forgotten man's view of our fractured and upturned world, he wrote and published two other books of local history, A Patchwork Quilt and Another Patchwork Quilt. Cavender's latest book is available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com for $14.99. E-book versions are also available for $5.99.
The only thing that separates the human race from animals, I have often thought, is our ability to read and write. I have always enjoyed putting pen to paper, and in fact, when I was a teenager, I always kept a pen and notepad in the nightstand by my bed and often fell asleep at night starting many an unfinished novel.
I dedicated my life to three challenging yet very rewarding careers, and because of that, I was unable to find much time to write. Although I sometimes dabbled in writing, penning an occasional poem or short story, I found most of my writing to be in the form of news copy or red ink notations on high school student's essays.
When I retired from teaching five years ago, I was lucky enough to have been hired as a part time news reporter and features writer by a former student, Dan Pool, who is now the Editor of the Pickens County Progress newspaper in Jasper, Georgia. The feature stories I wrote about my hometown that were printed in the newspaper led to the publication of my first two books, which were collections of those feature articles. Those books proved to be very popular with the local audience.
With my latest book, The World Turned Upside Down: A forgotten man's view of our fractured and upturned world, my targeted audience shifted from local to national readers. Recently, I have been troubled with the changes I see taking shape in the United States. Tiring of all of the hate, intolerance, and vitriol, I decided to address many of the changes I have seen in the course of my lifetime that I think may prove detrimental to my beloved nation. As I state in the book, "In our nation, where once scholars roamed the halls of academia, we now have socialists, anarchists, and even avowed terrorists donning professor's robes...Where people were once innocent until proven guilty, they are now found to be guilty, despite their innocence, by the prosecutorial mainstream media and in the court of public opinion...Where the anti-establishment of the 1960's and '70's have now become the establishment of the past three decades...Where once policemen and servicemen were revered and honored and criminals, thugs, and enemies were reviled and abhorred, now the reverse is true...Where we now have people who kneel during the playing of our national anthem, yet fewer and fewer people are kneeling in prayer in our houses of worship...Where once the Judeo-Christian principles on which our nation was founded were valued and protected, our principles are being demeaned and attacked. Is this not the world turned upside down?"
In my speaking engagements, I always recognize the veterans in the audience for their sacrifices. I am proud of my military service, but nowhere near as proud of my dad and his service. Dad landed at Omaha Beach, fought in the bocage of Normandy, the Falaise Gap, the Hurtgen Forest, and the Battle of the Bulge. That is why I dedicated my new book to "...Sergeant Roger W. Cavender, my dad and real-life hero, and all those like him who have worn the uniform in the service of our country. Whether you have worn the uniform of the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, or any law enforcement agency, fire department, or emergency medical services, this book is dedicated to you."
Because of the terrible changes sweeping over the United States, I pray that the sacrifices of my dad and all those like him will not be in vain. This is the reason why I wrote, The World Turned Upside Down: A forgotten man's view of our fractured and upturned world.
The World Turned Upside Down
Why is the World Turned Upside Down?
In our nation, where once scholars roamed the halls of academia, we now have socialists, anarchists, and even avowed terrorists donning professor’s robes....Where people were once innocent until proven guilty, they are now found to be guilty, despite their innocence, by the prosecutorial mainstream media and in the court of public opinion....Where the anti-establishment of the 1960s and ‘70s have now become the establishment of the past three decades....Where once policemen and servicemen were revered and honored and criminals, thugs, and enemies were reviled and abhorred, now the reverse is true....Where we now have people who kneel during the playing of our national anthem, yet fewer and fewer people are kneeling in prayer in our houses of worship....Where once the Judeo-Christian principles on which our nation was founded were valued and protected, our principles are being demeaned and attacked. Is this not the world turned upside down?
Where to Buy The World Turned Upside Down
#WhatsYourStory Featuring Kay Jay
Kay Jay is a 43 year-old teacher, trying to write around that, raising a 9-year-old (with help from my lovely, supportive husband) and training for marathons.
The Good thing about publishing your own work as an unknown, middle-aged author is most definitely the freedom. It’s important to me that writing is fun. Like running, it’s something I want to get as good as I can at, but I’m under no illusions it’s going to allow me to quit the day job. I wrote a book that I would want to read, and I knew that the chances of landing an agent and a publishing deal were pretty much zero, so I didn't really try.
It took me nine years to get 'Dunn' – my ‘darkly humourous psychological suspense’ novel- right.
Dunn is set in London circa 2010 and is named after the main character, Aidan Dunn. Aidan is a self-centred, greedy young man. He’s horrible, and he was meant to be. I like character driven books that give a detailed insight into why people do what they do. I also get fed up with reading books about bad things happening to nice people. I wanted to show how anyone could fall for a psychotherapy cult without creating and torturing nice people. So, that's what I did. My characters are all pretty horrible and my plot is intricate and detailed (more on my motivations for ‘Dunn’ on my blog). It won't be everyone’s cup of tea, as we say in the U.K – but so far, ‘Dunn’s received enough positive reviews to keep me motivated with the marketing.
Self-publishing – The good, the bad and the downright frustrating
There are loads of companies offering self-publishing packages that include cover design, formatting, production, distribution and the terrifying marketing. I wanted my novel to look good and to get an idea of marketing options for future books. So, I went with a company with a good reputation – Matador/Troubador.
My questions/queries were addressed quickly and effectively from the start. The production of my paperback and eBook was a breeze. They listened to me, and I am extremely happy with the end product.
They also offered various marketing options.
I opted for extended eBook marketing, which listed my book for free download by 'reading professionals’ on Netgalley and created an Amazon ad. They also tried to help me get my book featured in local media. This was also all good. I got some mixed reviews, but that was to be expected.
The bad and downright frustrating
So far, I have to conclude that most of the local media here in Sussex aren’t interested if you are self-published and unknown. Even independent bookshops seem unwilling to host book signings (with no pressure to take stock and not even a courtesy reply), and many book bloggers have lists. I knew that marketing was going to be hard, and I didn't expect 'Dunn’ to be a best seller, but I don't think I had really grasped just what a time-eating, draining process promotion would be. Or how restrictive it was to publish with a company that handles your sales and distribution internally. And I don't think I had any idea that no one would give me regular updates on sales numbers. That, and the fact that it's hard to make my book visible, could be extremely demotivating. But I’m not like that. If my short career as a research scientist taught me anything, it was that if one thing doesn't work, you try something else. I just have to work out what.
What's next/what will I do differently
I am extremely pleased with Troubador’s product.
Independent Netgalley listings and Amazon ads aren’t cheap, so the extended eBook marketing was good value.
The social media marketing wasn’t worth it, though. I've done better with that myself and I need to research further marketing options more thoroughly to build my platform (all suggestions welcomed).
I also feel that I had little real choice in pricing and that giveaway options etc are restrictive with Troubador (that may be misunderstanding on my part). I find it really frustrating how little information I get about sales, and whilst this is not entirely down to the company, I feel they should do more here. I also think they should offer to help arrange book signings/ blogtours etc.
I am currently writing a young adult, mythology-based, urban fantasy (just longlisted for the 2018 Wattys), and I will investigate my publishing options more for this one. I am considering trying to get an agent, but I don’t think I would go to the other extreme and go totally independent. I want a well-produced end product, and marketing services that include Netgalley/ amazon ads seem a good idea (though I have no evidence that they affect sales).
Guest post opportunities like this are really important, so I need to do some legwork and try to make my work more visible. I did a blog tour with Silverdagger, and that was well-organised; motivating and fun, but I think I really need to get more of my writing ‘out there’. I’ve made a start with this on Wattpad, but need to check out other options – being longlisted for the Wattys is a great encouragement. Maybe I will look into other competitions and developing a few short-stories too. I'll just keep trying new things.
Aidan Dunn is a man driven by money and power – he just doesn’t have any. What he does have - he thinks - is charm. He’s been honing his manipulation skills as a charity collector for years, earning enough commission to rent a bedsit and keep him in lager. But it’s time for bigger and better things. He needs a break or a meal ticket.
Rich, vulnerable looking Sophie Harris could be the answer.
The problem is, Sophie seems immune to his charms.
When she isn’t at work, she spends her time at a group which she won’t tell him about. Worse still, she won’t commit to seeing him. It’s infuriating and addictive, so when Sophie finally seems to melt and asks him to come with her to a Salvation program meeting, Aidan is putty in her hands.
Because nobody's perfect
At the meeting, ex-model front woman, Yvette Blake, and the program’s charismatic founder, doctor Jeffers, seem to be offering the route to money and power that Aidan seeks. All he has to do is climb the ladder and become a ‘Savior’ with the chance of securing a lucrative ‘Salvation program’ franchise.
The problem is, it costs too much. Fortunately, Sophie is willing to pay for him. She needs recruits to progress in the program, so what has Aidan got to lose? Nothing but his sanity, his freedom and his chance of true love with fellow initiate, Lizzie.
Find Kay Jay at her website, and on Facebook, and Twitter
Where to Buy Dunn
#WhatsYourStory Featuring K.T. Lynn
K.T. Lynn is an American Muslim living in Shanghai, China. She is a social media manager by day, and a novelist by night. Her hobbies include reading, scuba-diving, and traveling. She aims to promote cross-cultural understanding through her work, which has been featured in Toastmasters International Magazine, DIYMFA, SISTERS, Amaliah, Blue Abaya, Saudi Life, and Productive Muslim.
K.T. Lynn's first novel is based on her time in Saudi Arabia, and is set for publication in late 2019. She is currently writing her second novel.
You can read about her misadventures at www.ktlynn.com .
How My Writing Journey Began
I spent most of my childhood lost in a fictional playground. Stacks of library books were my companions. Children playmates didn't interest me. It seemed simple. If you want to become a writer, just write! And until my senior year of high school, it was.
During my last year of high school, a well-respected member of the high schools faculty accused me of plagiarism. Without proof, the principal and school board allowed him to drag my name through the mud. The punishment of receiving no credit for the writing assignment I sweated over was annoying, but tolerable. It was his reasoning for suspicion that crushed my dreams.
"You aren't smart enough to have written this well."
Instead of allowing the teacher to spread his assault on my intellect, I withdrew. Keeping my head down, I graduated with the sting of plagiarism unchallenged. In the fall I started university in a new state. It was just the fresh start I needed to let my creativity shine. During registration, advising upperclassman warned me not to register with Mrs. May.
"You don't want her as an English teacher. Not unless you want to stay up all night writing and rewriting your papers!" I registered for her English 101 class at eight A.M, determined to prove myself.
I toiled for days on our first assignment. After one last edit, I fell asleep. Unfortunately, I forgot to set my alarm. The next morning, I pressed print before throwing on some clothes, and running a brush through my tangles. After I collected the pages from the printer, I stomped on my shoes and ran all the way to the lecture hall, squeaking in at 7:59. When the stapler reached my desk, I fashioned the pages together with a click and passed my essay forward. Whew. I had made it.
That Friday, our papers arrived with comments and corrections. On mine, a note in red was scrawled in the top right corner.
"Be careful. D+. You had a B paper."
I had stapled the pages together in the wrong order. In her effort to teach me a lesson, Mrs. May killed the last bit of gumption I had. Several weeks later I withdrew from her class, and changed my major to environmental science. I figured I wasn't a writer after all. That was until, my writing found me.
Back to the Beginning
Six years later, I was working in Washington D.C. as a geographer and miserable. Seeking a way out, I came across an advertisement for a certificate in teaching English. I registered the next day. Two weeks after completing the course, I was on a plane to Saudi Arabia. I taught English and began to chronicle my experiences on a blog. Each comment, like, and interaction with the online community, my voice grew stronger. At this point I had been promoted into curriculum development. Armed with a large blog following and some freelance writing pieces, I applied for a technical writing position. Finally, I was a writer after years of denying my childhood dreams. But, that was only the beginning.
I spent the year as a technical writer forging relationships with the PR and marketing departments. Moonlighting as a journalist for the local newspaper, I continued to pad my portfolio with bylines. One day, I set a meeting with the lead editor of our PR department and simply asked.
"How do I become a writer?"
"Write more." He handed me a card.
"Tell them I sent you."
It was a PR firm needed freelancers. I started immediately. One by one, the jobs came. Paid or unpaid, I took them all. Some were smashing successes. Others were by in large failures. But, I kept going. Two years later, I was hired as a writer/editor. Now, I work in social media management and continue to freelance write and blog.
The three most important things I've learned from my journey as a writer:
Inspirations and Heroes
I'm always inspired by reading quality writing. The stories that snag your imagination and won't let go! Some of my favorite authors include Tana French, Dot Hutchison, Naguib Mahfouz, Ahmed Tawfik, Amy Tan, Tayari Jones, Khaled Hosseini, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I would love to meet Khaled Hosseini! Not only are his books heartbreakingly beautiful, but he uses his work to draw attention to social and political strife in a sensitive and poignant way. He is my writerspiration!
Karen Eisenbrey lives in Seattle, WA, where she leads a quiet, orderly life and invents stories to make up for it. Although she intended to be a writer from an early age, until her mid-30s she had nothing to say. A little bit of free time and a vivid dream about a wizard changed all that. Karen writes fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as short fiction in a variety of genres and the occasional poem if it insists. She also sings in a church choir, plays drums in a garage band, and was surprised to find herself writing songs for her debut YA novel The Gospel According to St. Rage. A YA wizard fantasy, Daughter of Magic, was released by Not a Pipe Publishing in 2018. She shares her life with her husband, two young adult sons, and two mature adult cats.
Community and Opportunity
I have never been ambitious or good at pursuing goals, so my writing journey has been long and slow. In the long run, that has worked out well.
I always loved stories. I liked reading as soon as I learned how. I looked forward to writing assignments but didn't attempt to write a story on my own until I was 16. Not sure whether I was waiting for permission or needed a grade as motivation! From that point on, I wanted to be an author. I went to college, majored in literature, took fiction and poetry classes, wrote two bad practice novels ... and realized I had nothing to say. I gave up.
Or did I? As a 20-something newlywed, I had ideas for goofy picture books (not for children but not inappropriate). I learned to draw just well enough to make five of them, each with fewer words than the last, and shared them with family and friends. I made one more when my firstborn was a toddler, then didn't write again until the chaos years: two young children, both parents working full time, household to manage. THAT'S when I needed to write? OK ... I still didn't have anything to say, but I attempted fan fiction, short stories, and another bad practice novel.
Around this time, I went to hear Ursula K. LeGuin read at a local bookstore. I'd been a fan since my pre-teen years; she wrote the way I wanted to about the kinds of things I wished I could write about. As it happened, I entered the store right behind her and thought I would pass out, I was so starstruck. I might have said something coherent when I went up to have my book signed. I know she said something kind and supportive. She's my role model.
After I'd been writing for two years, I had a brief, vivid dream with two wizards and at least three plot twists. When I described it to my husband, he suggested I put it into a book. I found the idea of writing a wizard book daunting. I'd loved the Earthsea trilogy and now Harry Potter was huge. Did I dare? But those plot twists ...
I struggled for a year to get the story out of my head and the draft into shape, then more time making it kind of good. I liked the characters and setting enough to start a sequel, only to realize it was book 3. In order to start book 2 that summer, I made a deal with my kids: Mom gets one uninterrupted hour a day to write. By the end of the summer, I had a draft. Three books turned into four, then I worked up a science fiction novel that turned into two more. I made a few lame attempts to submit that first fantasy novel, but mostly, I wrote and revised and wrote some more.
I joined a local writers' association to network, and won second prize in their annual contest before the group folded. The best thing I got out of it was a writing buddy. We met weekly for years, swapping chapters and giving feedback. She told me about Authonomy.com, Harper Collins' site for authors to upload manuscripts for comments from other authors. I never got near the editors' desk, but I received great feedback and “met” several of my now-favorite writers, who have become friends.
Around the time Authonomy was winding down, a few participants formed the Pankhearst Collective and invited more of us to contribute to an anthology of young adult fiction titled Heathers. I didn't have anything on hand that fit the theme so I cooked up a short story about a girl so self-effacing she's invisible, until her “fairy godfather” puts a hat on her head and makes her visible. “Hat” was my first published work. I wrote two related stories and considered self-publishing them as an ebook until Pankhearst persuaded me to turn them into a novel that they would publish. Um, yes? I spent 2015 writing my garage-rock fairy tale The Gospel According to St Rage, released in summer 2016. Pankhearst folded its tent soon after and I once again considered self-publishing. Once again fate intervened.
Another Authonomy veteran, Benjamin Gorman, had started Not A Pipe Publishing. He asked to use my Authonomy comment as a blurb for his first book. He had reviewed Heathers favorably, so I sent him a review copy of my novel. He said he wished he'd published it. The fifth book in my fantasy setting seemed like my best bet to submit to Not A Pipe, as the first book of a new series. Then Not A Pipe announced that 2018 would be “The Year of Publishing Women.” I wanted to get in on that as a matter of principle, but by the time my manuscript was ready, submissions had closed. I let them know I had something for when they reopened. “Send it now.”
Daughter of Magic became one of nine Not A Pipe books released in 2018. It has been a beautiful ride, watching these exciting books come out in succession, editing and blurbing each other, going to each other's release events, taking part in panels. It's not what I expected when I dreamed of being a published author. There's little money in it and no glamour.
I just submitted another manuscript.
Find Karen on her website, Facebook, and Twitter
Daughter of Magic
Luskell has been dreaming about dead people.
Her parents may be the two most powerful wizards in the country, but Luskell doesn’t have any magic of her own, so she’s stuck spending a summer with her grandmother in the small town of Deep River where her father is the hometown hero. Then the dead start to visit her dreams with mysterious messages. In a secret pact with her friends Jagryn and Laki, Luskell begins to teach herself magic and discovers an apparently bottomless well of untapped power. But before she has control over this ability, her dead grandfather appears with a dire warning. With no way to send word to her parents, Luskell and her friends mount a daring rescue. Can they get to the capital in time to save the country … and her parents’ lives?
Where to Buy Daughter of Magic
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.