Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why I Write by Kevin V. Symmons

People who know I came from a successful business career often ask me this question.  The easiest way to begin is to answer in the reverse. I do not write to gain fame and riches though I would love to have a New York Times number one best-seller and the royalties and adulation it would bring. I do not write so that I can hobnob with the cool kids or the inside sanctum of the literati. I do not write so I can talk on national TV with Matt Lauer or Oprah... Don't misunderstand me all those things would be great fun and I have no lack of ego so they would admittedly be gratifying. I have had the good fortune to be successful in my pre-writing life so putting words to paper does not feed the kids or pay the mortgage. I don't write to earn a living.

So then—you're asking by now why do you spend thousands of hours brooding over a novel crafting it till you're satisfied it's a piece worthy of sending to your readers?

The answer is patently simple... I love telling stories and (hopefully) the enjoyment they bring. I always have. I am a baby-boomer and grew up on folklore of WWII so I wrote my first short story about PT boats when I was twelve. I was enough of a nerd and a mediocre athlete so I toiled over the school paper while others wore the highly coveted school letter on their jackets.

I had the great good fortune to have emotive, enthusiastic English teachers in high school and at the undergraduate collegiate level who pushed and prodded me to the limit, bless them. Life, the military, and my growing family precluded any idea of seriously pursuing writing as anything other than a pastime or part of my job, but I always joked that someday I would write a great American novel knowing it had been done more than once. 

I had the good fortune to leave my business early and low and behold though it took many false starts, rejections, and the bolstering loyalty of supportive family, friends, and fellow authors, after several years my long dormant dream became a reality when I got what's referred to in publishing as "the call!"

And though I write slowly, I've averaged about a novel a year over the last five. Three have been published, two have been Amazon best-sellers and my debut novel was a finalist in a prestigious awards competition.

So why do I continue? Well... though I haven't had that date on the Today show yet I have achieved some recognition, made so many wonderful writing friends I've lost track, helped to run a respected writing organization, and even taught creative writing at the junior college level.

And though I am not Mary Higgins Clark or John Grisham I have had my share of rewarding "fan" encounters. I could go on, but I hope you get my point. I began this journey because I loved telling my stories and somewhere along the line it seemed that those who read my work liked them, too.

Part of it is ego. Everyone who crafts a story and asks another to read it feels he/she has something worthy of telling. But much of it is simply the enjoyment of discovering that some readers out there have enjoyed our work enough that it gave them pleasure and perhaps a respite from this fast-paced, chaotic, often frustrating world.

Matt and Oprah... eat your hearts out. NY Times book editors I have not thrown in the towel but for now, I'm happy doing what I do. Perhaps we'll have a date sometime in the future...

Enjoy this interesting winter!

Stay safe, warm and dry!

Kevin V. Symmons

Friday, February 20, 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A visit with Jessica Long - From the novel Solo

We’re thrilled to be talking to Jessica (aka Jesse) Long from Kevin V. Symmons, latest novel Solo.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Pimp That Character!

Thank you for your interview, Jesse.  Can you tell us your story? Why yes. I was raised in Portland, Maine. My dad died when I was four. My mother found a man she thought was kind but turned out to be anything but. He and my older brother, Ryan, had a confrontation and they fell down a staircase and both died as a result. The one legacy my real father left me was my love for serious music. When I was 10 a kind and talented woman named Pauline Richards heard me sing and become my mentor and vocal coach. Her tutelage and sponsorship helped me gain acceptance at Boston’s New England Conservatory.

Can you tell us about one of your most distinguishable features? My voice… may coach and teachers think that one day I could achieve greatness as a lyric soprano… Oh. I’m sorry! I know that sounded really conceited but… well I just hope they’re right!

What would I love the most about you? Listening to me sing 8 bars of any piece of music!

What would I hate the most about you? My drive! My desire to be the best! Some people call me arrogant but I call it self-assurance. I’ve found that to succeed that you can take no prisoners.

What makes you laugh out loud? My four-year-old daughter Ali. When I’m bummed or down she never fails to bring me back.

What is in your refrigerator right now? Cold spaghetti and half a quart of chocolate chip ice cream.

What is your most treasured possession? The 8-track tape player and collection of Verdi, Puccini and Wagner my dad left me when he died. I’d listen to it endlessly and picture his face when he smiled.

What is your greatest fear? Failure. If I don’t succeed as a vocal performance major at NEC my future will be bleak. I’ll spend my life as a short order cook and waitress.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately? Yes… damn him. It was like that damn guy Symmons could read my mind… get inside my friggin’ head. It drives me crazy!

Who is your best friend? My mother Alice. I’ve never made many friends my own age. Never had the time or the interest. Second place… Pauline, my teacher and vocal mentor.

To see all of Kevin's books 

Monday, February 16, 2015

19th Century wisdom...

Great inspiration from the 19th century for my novel "Impending Love and War" published by The Wild Rose Press
The historical romance is set in 1860 in the fictional Ohio town of Darrow Falls. Abolitionists Cory Beecher and slave owner Tyler Montgomery should never fall in love, but they do.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” - Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker a lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” - Abraham Lincoln

“There is no freedom on earth or in any star for those who deny freedom to others.” – Elbert Hubbard, 1859-1915

“Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” – Mark Twain

Laura Freeman

Friday, February 13, 2015

Are you a snob? I am.

by J. Arlene Culiner

I’m a snob, aren’t you? Of course you are, no matter how fair-minded you believe yourself to be. We’re all human (I’m assuming, perhaps rather snobbishly, that our pets can’t read this article) and at one point or another, we’ve all looked down on someone, judged them to be inferior because of education, or looks, or taste, or behaviour, or speech, or a million other reasons.

Sure, some people really do behave badly, or are less educated, or are just terrible-looking. But how many times have we judged someone’s worth on…well…those pretty flimsy grounds? And how many times have we had to revise our opinion, eat our words, bury those first impressions and discover what the person in front of us — the one with the terrible chartreuse nose, pink eyes, pointy ears and long brownish fangs — is really like. Plenty. If your experience is anything like mine, you might have found yourself enjoying, even really liking, the person you were willing to reject.

So why are we snobs? Because we often feel insecure. Because we like to feel we’re superior. Because we don’t like challenging our own, carefully constructed opinions. Also because we don’t understand — don’t want to understand — another way of life, other values.

Being confronted by a snob is certainly an unpleasant experience, but that’s exactly what happens to Sherry Valentine, the heroine of my new release, A Swan’s Sweet Song. Sherry, a country music star, walks into a radio station, meets Carston Hewlett…and…well, he’s condescending, superior and arrogant. He’s not a bad guy. He’s kind, he’s creative, he’s pretty gorgeous, he’s talented, he’s gentle. But he’s also a highbrow, a well-known intellectual playwright. To him, country music belongs to the world of low-brow entertainment.

The problem is, Sherry and Carston are also very attracted to each other: fascination at first sight, you can call it.

So how does Sherry handle the situation? She does what we should all do when meeting a terrible snob: show our humanity. And when Sherry conveys her passion for music, Carston realizes how silly he’s been. That, even if their lifestyles, their backgrounds, are so very different, they can learn so much from each other.

And, that’s what they do, and they do it beautifully too. But there are also quite a few surprises in store for both of them…

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Riverboats and the Showboat Affair

I’ve always had a fascination with river boats, especially the old-fashioned paddlewheel kind. Think showboats such as regularly cruised the major U.S. rivers between 1830 and the 1870s.
Unfortunately, the first showboats didn’t resemble the Cotton Blossom made famous in stage and movie adaptations of Edna Ferber’s novel of the same name. They were long, flat-roofed barges pushed by a small tugboat. Folks along the river paid in produce as well as money to be transported into another realm by the company of actors and actresses who lived on the boat. A British actor, William Chapman, Sr., birthed the first showboat in Pittsburgh in 1831. During the Civil War, these floating theatres suffered a brief decline but revived again in 1878 to entertain with melodramas and vaudeville acts. In 1926, Edna Ferber’s novel hit the American scene, and the next year Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II adapted it as a stage musical. Three movie versions followed: 1929, 1936, and 1951, the latter possibly being the one most remembered today. Not all of the productions were true to the original story line, but each tugged at the heartstrings of the theatre-going public. Probably the song most associated with the musical Show Boat is “Old Man River”, and Paul Robeson told a story in song in 1936. William Warfield’s outstanding rendition in 1951 still echoes. My first experience with a river boat resembling the Cotton Blossom came in the summer of 1967 when I traveled up the Congo River to do summer school for a group of missionary children. However, the two-night trip reminded me more of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as I stood at the rail watching the village fires in the distance. Later, my boys enjoyed a short excursion on the Mississippi River on a boat docked in Vicksburg. It doesn’t run anymore. But it was in Branson, Missouri, when I enjoyed a dinner theatre evening on the Branson Belle as it cruised Lake Taneycomo that I thought again of Magnolia, Gaylord Ravenal, Cap’n Andy, and the tragic Julie LaVerne. Thus was born The Showboat Affair (authored as Gwyneth Greer). Jean and Nick remain close to my heart, though in truth they didn’t sail away to the rising strains of Hammerstein’s magnificent music. It was a fun write and, I hope, a fun read.

Judy Nickles/Gwyneth Greer
Vintage Romance/Romantic Suspense/Cozy Mystery
"...a good clean read"

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Courthouse scenes from Impending Love and War

I received a letter from the Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh congratulating me on the publication of my first novel. How great is that?

In Impending Love and War the hero, Tyler Montgomery, has to defend Noah St. Paul in the Summit County courthouse to prevent him from going to jail and paying a fine for helping runaway slave, Tess, his wife, and their baby, Adam. Information about the original courthouse, which was in the same location as the present one, was on display while I was covering a criminal case as a reporter for the Hudson Hub-Times. Tonight I'm watching #ToKillaMockingbird by Harper Lee. Greatest courtroom scene with #GregoryPeck. What is yours?

Impending Love and War is published by The Wild Rose Press and can be ordered in print of ebook at

Laura Freeman
Impending Love and War