Today I welcome a joint interview with Daivd and Cendrine, authors who collaborate to publish a variety of books and a magazine. Welcome to you both.
1.What drew you to poetry?
I grew up trying to write spoof lyrics for a lot of different songs, inspiration would come out of all sorts of places. When it turned out that my lyrical structures became too big and unwieldy for songs themselves to contain, I started turning to writing poetry because I was drawn into the musicality of playing with words and phrases. I was fascinated by how you could treat words as if they were musical instruments. I began reading lots of poetry written by my peers and in doing so, I gained the ability to write on an emotional level that connected with many different people. This is what forged my love of poetry, being able to communicate with like-minded souls and give them hope, inspiration, passion, courage and kindness in their lives.
2.You embrace a variety of topics in your poetry. Can you explain your process in choosing a theme?
Theme for me is pretty easy, in that I am most interested in writing things that are inspirational, romantic, funny or all three combined! I’ve always thought that when it comes to choosing a theme or topic, it should be something that you are passionate about. You should actively try to combine multiple elements to give you enough drive and material to visualize a project. For example, you may choose to write about snow but that on its own is not very inspiring. However, if you were to then combine other elements of an emotional nature (a first romance in the snow, playing in the snow as a child/with your own children, etc) then this will give you the means to flesh out your piece. From then on, you can continue to add whatever details you need to give enough colour to your piece of writing to interest others into reading it.
3.How does writing flash fiction differ from poetry for your writing process?
With Flash Fiction I am usually thinking of a specific scene taking place in my mind. Whilst this can also be true for poetry, stories tend to unfold themselves when I have some characters chatting to each other. Usually my flash fiction pieces consist of dialogue between quirky characters and action unfolding. I would say that a poem can embrace many different angles but a piece of story writing is focused, concise, every word needs to count when it comes to describing the scene/event. With a poem, you can be more vague when it comes to the overall meaning of the lines and still have a deep message that can be conveyed. Whereas with a piece of story writing, it is important to convey to the reader where they are and what is happening (even if the twists, turns and outcomes are a mystery), so that they can quietly imagine being there themselves enjoying the experience.
4.Who are your writer heroes?
I have tons in different genres! My favourite genre is Fantasy, so I will say that my top two literary heroes are Terry Practchett and Neil Gaiman. Stephen King for horror. For poetry, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson & Maya Angelou are also but a very small selection. I could literally spend all day and night naming people in the literary, TV and film world who constantly inspire me on a daily basis!
5. How did you come up with the title – “TooFullToWrite – I’ve started so I’ll finish”?
The short answer is that I always thought about the notion how writers and artists start things but struggle to finish them. Maybe they lose their creativity or drive, or some other shiny thing comes along to distract them. My philosophy was born out of wanting to finish things that I start because I am not a fan of loose ends and it is satisfying to complete things (no matter how long they take!) for our own peace of mind.
I actually wrote a humorous origin story about the namesake of my website, so if your readers are interested they can read it here:-
6.You have created workbooks for authors. Can you tell us about them and why you created them?
Cendrine & I created our workbooks series at Auroras & Blossoms because we wanted to inspire artists to create more material, to become more professional and to thrive at what they do best. We focus on a variety of different topics, including writing prompts, inspirational tips/techniques, new poetry and writing forms, social media etiquette, social media marketing, marketing your artwork better and many more. We want to keep expanding and evolving what we offer to be on the cutting edge of what inspires artists to show up and produce the best material of their lives! 🙂
7.How, why and when did you formulate the partnership with Cendrine Marrouat?
Cendrine goes into deeper detail in her interview segment below. We crossed paths years ago when I was interviewing fellow authors and artists. We have an excellent creative partnership that we have built a strong platform on. We complement each other with our skills sets and are both a creative force to be reckoned with. She is an excellent business partner and extremely talented too!
8.You have a wide range of skills, including podcaster, lyricist, humorist – do you feel these are all components of your writer life? How do each of these disciplines aid your writing?
I have never wanted to tie my creativity down to just one single thing. As I learn how to do one creative discipline, I become interested in others by way of association and because of my passion in existing disciplines, this enthusiasm carries over to new things that I try out in the artistic world. I do not feel like they are actually defined by a writer’s life, although to be fair, a writer’s life has led me to all of them and so much more. It’s very true what they say about how being a writer means that you can literally be anything you want to be in life! Being involved in many different artistic outlets gives you a much broader palette to paint from. It is not for everyone, since some people prefer to focus on one thing and get really good at it. I have to focus on many things in my life, otherwise I will get bored doing the same thing over and over – variety is the spice of life!
9.Does living in England enhance your writing – if so how?
This is an interesting question. I definitely have a British sense of humour and it comes out in my jokes, quips, puns and writing style because that is an integral part of who I am. I feel like it gives me a unique perspective on the world, one that is endearing, comical and entertaining to read. I embrace these aspects of my own personal character in that I have manners, am well behaved and professional (plus a bit old fashioned) but at the same time I do have an extroverted side, like to be playful and let my hair down regularly as well!
I want to thank every single one of you for your support and interest in what I do. I hope to inspire you, make you laugh or move you deeply in some kind of profound way that connects with you on an emotional level. We live in tough times right now and I would encourage you to spread as much kindness, help and support that you can. Work hard and bear with your struggles, there will always be better things on the horizon, if you weather the storms.
1.How long have you been writing?
Like many people, I wrote sappy stuff when I was a teenager. However, I only got serious about writing in 2005. So, I’m just counting the last 16 years. 😉
2.What drew you to combining poetry and photography as artistic expression?
Because both art forms work extremely well together.
Most of us are scared of poetry. In school, we are taught to analyze every word and line of the poems we read to uncover some kind of arcane meaning. The adults we then become cannot pick up a poetry book without over-thinking about the way we should respond to it.
As a former teacher to adults, I know that a majority of people prefer visual cues to written ones. Pairing imagery and poems helps redirect the focus towards enjoyment.
The images I use to complement my poems (all mine) have triggered very positive reactions from people. They realize that poetry can also be very relaxing and fun to read!
3.You are the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms – how did this partnership begin?
A few years ago, I was looking for interview opportunities to promote a new book. I found David Ellis and we instantly connected. I was impressed with his professionalism and personability.
After the interview, we decided to stay in touch. At the beginning of 2019, one of our chats led to sharing our frustrations about the process of submitting work to magazines and journals. We did not like how many of them factored in “who you know” and your number of publishing credits into their acceptance process.
So, on a whim, I suggested we start working on something that would run counter to that status quo. We decided that we would do things differently and give a chance to everyone. And our focus would be on something we did not see enough: positivity, inspiration and family-friendliness.
Within a few days, we had laid the foundations of Auroras & Blossoms. It took us a few months to set everything up properly, and we launched officially in October 2019.
4.What are the benefits of a collaboration with another artist?
In this day and age of fierce competition for visibility, partnerships are pretty much the only chance for artists to be successful.
Collaborations give you the opportunity to tap into other artists’ platforms, build relationships with like-minded folks, and pool resources together to achieve greater things than you ever could on your own.
The key to a great partnership is to find someone who is on the same wavelength as you and shares your values. David and I get along really well because we are both very hard-working, committed to our craft, and professional. We respect each other’s time. Finally, we understand what it takes to build solid projects.
5.Where do you prefer to write and why?
I always write in my office, with very occasional sessions in my backyard. My office is my private space, nobody bothers me there. So I can fully concentrate.
6.Can you tell us about why you created Reminigram, Sixku, Flashku and the PoArtMo Collective?
I wanted to challenge myself and increase my creativity.
The reminigram is a type of digital image that seeks to capture scenes that could have existed in the past. It’s my way to pay homage to early photography (daguerreotypes, tintypes, collodion processes, etc.).
The Flashku is my latest creation; it borrows from the Sixku, Haiku, and Kindku, another poetry form David and I created (along with the Pareiku). I came up with the idea because I love flash fiction but suck at writing descriptions. The goal of a flashku is to write a whole story in 50-100 words inspired by an image, using 7 words taken from another piece. I like to call that poetic prose!
The PoArtMo Collective was one of my long-time dreams. I wanted to bring a group of artists together to create and release inspirational, positive and uplifting art and artistic projects; the goal being to show that good art goes beyond technical aspects to tell memorable stories.
When it launched in 2019, the collective was called FPoint Collective and focused exclusively on photography. But co-founder Isabel Nolasco and I quickly realized that we needed to be more inclusive. Isabel left us last year to focus on other things and there are now three of us. We have recently released our second project, a book titled Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography.
French-born Canadian Cendrine Marrouat lives in Winnipeg. She is a photographer, poet, multi-genre author, and the co-founder of several artistic projects. She is also the creator of the Sixku, the Reminigram, and the Flashku.
Cendrine started her career in 2003. She has worked in many fields, including education (language instruction), social media coaching and training, content creation and curation, translation, photography, poetry, theatre, art criticism, blogging, and journalism.
David Ellis lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent in the UK. He is an award-winning poet, author of poetry, humourous fiction and music lyrics.
David’s debut poetry collection (Life, Sex & Death) won an International Award in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards 2016 for Inspirational Poetry Books.
David is extremely fond of tea, classic and contemporary poetry, cats, and dogs but not snakes. Indiana Jones is his spirit animal.
We met in 2007 on an online writing group where you share short stories, poetry and life experiences. We became fast friends.
2. When did you begin writing?
Cristal- I began writing in grade school. In 1976, in second grade, I won a writing contest. The prize was three silver dollars. I was hooked. I also published multiple special interest stories in the local newspaper. I typically wrote in journals growing up and started a couple novels, but they were never published.
Andy- I have always had a love for books and a vivid imagination. It wasn’t until later in life that I decided to put my imagination to work.
3. Where did this quote come from? It’s not about tolerance, it’s about acceptance.
We were both bullied as children and always felt we were not accepted the way we were. Tolerance is only allowing someone to be themselves and not genuinely loving them and encouraging them to never change. We prefer the be accepted.
4. How did this quote bring about your book series?
We created imperfect, quirky characters that are relatable to everyone. We threw them together because each one is unique, different or weird. It allowed us to show you can form friendships with all types and if you do, magical transformations can happen. We wanted to make readers think about their preconceptions of the deaf kid, the geek or even the bully. We want to show that digging deeper can produce an understanding and lifelong friendships by just being kind.
5. What age range are your books aimed at?
We consider the books to be young adult/adult paranormal mystery genre. However, we have had ten-year-old advanced readers love them. There are some intense and scary moments plus a little gore that could affect younger readers, so we ask parents to use their own discretion.
6. Can you give the readers an idea of the messages within Secret 8 and The Wandering?
We have found that our readers all relate differently to the books. What might resonate with one person may not with another. It might be easier if I give you key words to describe what our readers have experienced and relayed to us. Secret of 8- adventure, self-discovery, confidence, trust, courage and inclusion. The Wandering- grief, guilt, first love, teamwork, closure, second chances.
7. How many books will be in the series?
We are currently working on the third book in the series, “Freaks to the Left” which is to be released in the Fall 2021. We have plans for at least eight books.
8. What is the fundamental message you wish your books to convey?
Whether you are being bullied, went along with it so as not to be bullied yourself, or maybe you ARE the bully, there is always a choice to change that behavior. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. You have a choice to look at the behavior and get to the root of why. By simply being kind, you can influence others to do the same.
9 What are the subjects you will cover in your books?
Our books hit on many aspects of growing up. Awkwardness, low self- esteem, love, loss, social class, racism, disabilities, sexuality, prejudice and addiction to name a few. So many books for young adults only skim over sensitive subjects. Our books approach them head on but tactfully and through the eyes of our character’s first-hand knowledge.
10. Has your own background contributed to the stories?
Yes, very much so. We both have life experiences that are sensitive and meaningful. By including these in our books, it makes our characters more realistic. They say to write about what you know. If you have never experienced it, how would you explain it? How would you capture the emotions? Sure, you can research it, but will it come off as authentic?
11. Where do you prefer to write?
We wrote the first book entirely through email. Andy lived in Pittsburgh and I lived in Erie. Once we married in 2016, we published the first book and built an office in our home. The office has shelves filled with everything that inspires us. Andy likes to write on the laptop there, but I tend to write chapters in paper notebooks whenever the urge hits.
12. Do you feel a writing group is an important tool for writers?
Absolutely! Chatting with fellow writers, reading their works, asking questions and encouraging one another is the best kind of support. Writers are unique in that they do not compete; they are fully supportive and celebrate with you.
13. What is your writing process – punster or planner?
We have never used outlines with our books. They have evolved as we wrote. We often wondered where it all comes from, but it seems to flow freely and eventually make sense in the end. The last chapter takes the longest though, as we tie up loose ends and make sure the climax is exciting.
14. Can you share your social media and book links
Bio: Cristal Underwood: Born and Raised in Erie Pennsylvania, She is the mother of one Daughter Megan Grace, and an extra Mom to Andy’s for children. She has always had a passion for writing and has been writing stories and poems since elementary school. Writing books that encourage inclusion, anti-bullying and acceptance is her life long goal. She enjoy’s baking custom decorated cakes and delicious cupcakes.
Andrew Underwood was born in Salem Utah, he is the father of four wonderful kids, and newly became a grandpa this last week. He is an avid paranormal investigator, loves to read, build things in his woodshop and daydream. He has always had an active imagination and a love for the outdoors. He always considered himself a geek and a little different which fits in well with his message in the books they write.
As you may know, I have made a goal for 2021 to enter contests, submit articles to magazines and stories to anthologies. This seemed an easy process until I began to look at all the paperwork accumulating. For each submission there is of course, rules, guidelines, email address and accounts to create. On top of that, I have author interviews for this blog to monitor as well as a novel writing workshop with four other authors. Not to mention my freelance writing projects and my current work in progress.
So how should I organize it all?
Each ‘task’ has its own specific process, so I needed to come up with a way to keep track. Firstly, I printed out the relevant contest, magazine and anthology links and highlighted the deadlines for each one. Noted passwords required and any dates submissions were sent.
Now to catalogue them in separate folders. (And yes I use actual physical folders! I’m a hands on type of girl)
Green folder: Anthologies
Purple folder: Contests
Orange folder: Magazines
White Folder: WordPress Interviews
Orange folder : Presentations I will host
White folder: Novel Workshop
Black folder (not shown) Freelance Projects
Then I separated the relevant information for each in date order with the submission dates – first to last. I printed a calendar for the blog interviews so I can mark each one down, so there is no duplication. I have also bought a large desk calendar to mark submission deadlines, writing events, presentation dates, freelance projects, conferences, interviews etc. Having everything there in front of me lessens the panic that I have forgotten something.
You will see me interviewed for my book launch of The Commodore’s Gift as well as reading from my writers group new writing prompt book. P.S. I left it with a teaser LOL
Now this event is behind me, I will be waiting on reviews for The Commodore’s Gift but also making plans for my new project. Yes it is never ending!
I have decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month again this November and will be tackling another new genre – detective/crime. An idea popped into my head for a three book series covering three female detectives in three different cities. Apart from the Rython novellas, this will be my first book series. I;m looking forward to the challenge.
If you have not heard of NaNoWriMo it is a frantic 30 days of writing to achieve 50,000 words! Yep in the month of November. This will be my tenth year. I only missed 2017 since 2009. It is