Indy Author Talk with Janell Rhiannon – The Power of Grandmas


When I first asked Janell to write an Indy Author Talk, I thought to myself, I wonder what she is going to write about.  She knew her topic and went off running (or writing).  Not that I gave her much time to think.  (Insert Giggles Here)  I read the her guest post and her Q&A and she felt like my best friend.   She took me back to my days in college when I would go over MY best friend’s Lina’s house and her Nonna was there.  Her Nonna recently became an Angel too and I was so sad for her and Jennie, my other bff/her cousin.  Anyway, off topic and if I say too much then I will spoil the beauty of what Janell wrote for the Nerd Herd today!  Sooooooooo…  Here you go… <3 Gladys XOXOtheNerdGirl

The Power of Grandmas

As a little girl the favorite woman in my life was my Nonna (that’s Italian for grandmother). She lived next door to us for a while, and I learned so much from her like how real butter with sugar on a saltine cracker and warm tapioca pudding were easy snacks (forbidden to her because she was a diabetic, and when she would sneak the sweet stuff she always swore me to secrecy with, “I’m your Nonna!”) She also taught me that cooking was a process that took all day (a can of tomato paste and a toss of sugar was the key to a great red sauce). I remember her house smelled of my grandfather’s tobacco pipe and dark chocolate. It was home. It was love. It was the best time of my youth.

So what’s the big deal about grandmas? Here’s 10 reasons we love our grandmas in a way we love no other:
1. they truly love you unconditionally (they make you feel perfect)
2. disappointing them is not an option (there are things we’ve done that moms knows, that we’d be mortified if our grandmas knew!)
3. you accept they know things your mom doesn’t know (it’s like wisdom skips back a generation, to the consternation of mother’s everywhere)
4. they have old school skills like sewing, crocheting, and cooking from scratch (if it’s not from scratch, we are never told)
5. they are soft places to land (literally they hug you and it feels soft)
6. they listen to music that you would know nothing about if it weren’t for them (like opera or Dean Martin or Frankie Sinatra)
7. they never had sex, but know how to explain love (…I know that’s a hard one, but it’s the truth)
8. they would never tell on you (and you would never tell on them)
9. they believe you can fly (they make you feel you can do anything, anytime, anywhere…)
10. they will stand up for you to your mother and WIN (because she’s your mom’s mom or your dad’s mom and well, mother’s always win, so…)

My Nonna happened to be a non-practicing catholic and with that came some heavy religious superstitions or beliefs, take your pick I won’t be offended. And the one that stood out in my mind was this: always be kind to strangers because you might be entertaining an angel without realizing it. I never forgot that. Consequently, whenever I encounter a stranger in need, her words rush my brain. What I didn’t know at the time was that this life lesson would become the premise for my first book, Invisible Wings. Now that I’m a Nonna myself, I understand how much she loved me and all her grand babies. So, when my granddaughter looks at me with her big brown eyes and smiles saying, “Nonna, I like you.” It spears me through the heart.  It’s truly a privilege and joy being a Nonna to all three of my grand babies. Invisible Wings - ebooklg

Just when you thought no one was listening…there was Arabella. 

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Get your wings at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and currently free @ Smashwords.

Nonna tribute video:

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Q. When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book? The first time remember writing, really writing with the purpose of sharing my work, was in the fourth grade. I wrote a play about Betsy Ross and the American flag for the bicentennial celebration at school. I’ve always been writing. Poetry. Short stories. Plays. Inspiration to write my first book came from a tragedy I needed to work through, and after that it felt right to continue writing. I wrote adaptations of Greek mythology that have yet to see the light of anyone’s computer screen. My first official book was Invisible Wings, followed by Birth, the first book in the Livingstone Saga. My current WIP is Uncross the Stars, about a high school quarterback afraid of the power of love.

sparty book

Q. What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?

The books I was most passionate about in my youth have remained the foundation of my reading and writing life…historical fiction, specifically the ancient history of Greece and Rome in my later life and then Fantasy. The first novel I fell in love with was Spartacus by Howard Fast. I remember reading this with a flashlight because I literally couldn’t put the book down when it was bedtime! I read everything historical fiction and fantasy I could get my hands on. These titles have stuck with me forever: The Immigrants by Howard Fast, North and South by John Jakes, Beloved by Beatrice Small, Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, The Deryni Chronicles by Katherine Kurtz, The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (I can’t believe they’re making a movie out of this!). In my later academic life I fell hard for Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. These have been a major influence on my later writing and story telling in general, and how I got started studying the “hero journey” in literature and film.

Q. Tell us about your characters and how they came to be?  Have they been in your head for a long time?

I love it when a character speaks to me in my mind. It’s like they wake up from a deep sleep and let me know they want a voice of their own. I keep about 4 different journals with different stories and characters outlined…I will be writing until I die and I think I will not have given voice to all.

Q. What motivates you to write?

I have always been a storyteller. It’s primarily why I became a historian…to tell stories. I’m motivated to write for publication quite honestly because of my age (just turned 49!) and the fact I became a grandmother. It’s like holy cow woman, what are you waiting for?

Q. What is the hardest part of writing?

Just sitting with butt in chair, even when I don’t feel the “mojo” working.  I guess the next hardest thing is actually putting your work out there for the world to see…hoping someone will love it as much as you do.

Q. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

An eye catching cover is key (thanks Regina Wamba) and an editor with a keen eye a must (thanks Melissa Ringsted) and Joy (my sister also a book lover and writer). I also found that music became a central part of writing mojo. Thank goodness for Pandora!

Q. Where do you get your ideas?

My ideas usually take me by surprise, while I’m eating dinner, sipping a coffee at Starbucks driving down the road, or reading something totally unrelated to what pops into my head. It’s like ideas are my distraction from reality.

Q. What does your family think of your writing?

They are completely behind me. My grand babies think it’s completely normal for Nonna to have an office and in it we read and write. They pull up a chair to my desk and read while I write. Currently, my son-in-law (youtube@1am2strong) is working on an AWESOME book trailer for Invisible Wings!  I have every faith that his mad editing skills will manifest an amazing visual. Keep you posted :)

Q. What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?

Write. Don’t wait for a better time. Do it. Don’t worry about traditional publishing or indie pubbing, you’ll have plenty of time to research your options AFTER you’ve written something. Personally, I love being independent. Just build your team, after all it takes a village to indie pub. And read in your genre and out of your genre. Read classics. Struggle through some Shakespeare.

Q. What book are you reading now?

I just finished Revelation by Randi Cooley Wilson (indie) and The Fault in a Stars by John Green (traditional pub). I just started Easy by Tammara Webber (traditional pub) and the second book in Randi Cooley Wilson’s series Restraint. I’ve been doing so much reading I have developed a kink in my neck!

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The NerdGirl

Blogger, Reviewer, Promoter extraordinaire, I don’t think you will find ANYONE that loves books more than her. Gladys will read anything but prefers paranormal and fantasy. She likes historical and some contemporary ….. as long as its not predictable.
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