Did you love or hate Catholic school? Meet saucy journalist and author Amy Gallagher

Those of us Baby Boomers who attended Catholic school all have some strong memories.  Some good, some not so good.  Take a look at this author interview with dynamic and talented journalist Amy Gallagher.  Amy has a knack for bringing young adult and childen’s issues to the forefront through creative humor.  She has been published in numerous journals involving healthcare and aviation.   In addition, she has published two children’s books on being the “odd child out” and learning the ABCs through eating health veggies!  She has recently joined alliance with the Indie Authors of AgeView Press.  Enjoy!

Amy Gallagher writer

Meet YA and Children’s author Amy Gallagher

What sparked off the idea of your books?
My original manuscript – which I’m still writing – Riley Patton, In Search of the Blarney Stone, a fiction set in Ireland. My Chapter 4 was basically a character analysis of Riley which I then brought to life to create Good Girl Gone Plaid.
Which character, if any, most resembles your personality?
Definitely Riley. I’ve always loved the name Riley for a girl. And Riley is just as inquisitive as I was growing up. I think it’s important to ask “why” even to grown ups which was frowned upon at home, school and church during my childhood. When children know why, they understand more and feel greater empathy. It’s a child development fundamental that needs to be properly nurtured. It’s also a teaching moment between adult and child.
Which character was the hardest to write and why?
Probably Riley’s dad. My own father died in 2003 when I was drafting the Riley Patton, In Search of the Blarney Stone. Chapter 4 was about Riley and I read it to my dad who absolutely loved the character and her shenanigans. My dad never knew alcohol would lead to death, and as he lay dying in the hospital over the course of three weeks, I read my manuscripts to him, as well as scriptures.
How do you plan/research your books? Well, that’s a tough one because I work full time as an English teacher and I also write freelance for nurse-related magazines. Planning and researching for my books happens when it happens. I’d love to do nothing but write my books, and that’s what I’m working toward…one day!
Good Girl Gone Plaid for YA

A YA coming of age story!

What are you working on at the moment? I’m drafting Good Girl Gone Blue, a non-fiction account of my life as a “Blue” wife – married to a police officer…ten years but the streets got the best of him, which led to his adultery, ultimate divorce, first ever foreclosure, etc. The foreword is written by a psychologist who worked for and with the Dallas Police Department for 20 years which is very insightful, validating and supportive. I’m also including actual police reports to highlight the realities of the life as a Blue and a Blue Wife. Blue as in the color of the uniform, and Blue as in the resulting depression that emanates in the life. I’ve also completed two children’s nutrition books: The Blue Apple and Johnny’s New Race Car.

Do you write for any websites?   I’ve written articles published on various web sites and newspapers: ADVANCE for Nurses Newsmagazine; Air Med & Rescue Magazine;Nurses Lounge; Nurse.com; Fort Worth Star Telegram; Burleson Crowley Connection Newspaper; Burleson Star Newspaper. In addition, I run an advocacy website for nurses called RNspiration.
Do you prefer to read paperbacks or ebooks?  Tell us why . . .
I need both. I think a balance of the two is important to the growth as a reader, writer and teacher. As a teacher, I continually poll my students [middle school and high school] about their preference, and invariably the results are always 50/50. I find that very interesting and telling about the future of paper. So many have predicted the death of paperbacks, but I believe otherwise.
Favorite book as a child and as an adult? As a child, my two favorite books were Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Black Beauty. As an adult, probably Anne Lamott’s books, notably the Blue Shoe.
Whom do you admire and why? I admire my 17 year old son Michael. That may sound trite since I’m his mother, but I admire his ability to adapt to the adult-level demands of teens today. He is a child of divorce, and has had to manage the “double life” like many children of divorce today [including my students], along with the unrealistic expectations of others to produce perfection daily. The freedom to “run be free” has been stolen from our teens. Families are broken, society delivers conflicting messages, our leaders lie, money talks. I don’t mean to sound negative; I’m not. I am a realist, a mother who has had to “fight the good fight” for and along side her son. He has overcome many challenges and yet remains so beautiful inside and out.

When you just feel different!

When you just feel different!

Name three people, dead or alive, you would invite to dinner. And of course, why? Jesus, Peter, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Amelia Earhart, my son Michael, my mother Shirley, Ghandi, my best friend from St. Peter’s Catholic School Mary, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Ellen D. Why? Jesus for the obvious – He was the main character in the greatest story ever told! Peter, my elementary school was named after Peter, and throughout the book of Peter, the content address sobriety, salvation, suffering and serving. Peter was a pastor/shepherd and instructed how to deal with persecution from outside the church, false teachers, evildoers…all while stimulating Christian growth. I’ve always believed that if we aren’t growing, we’re dying. I’ve also been persecuted and have come to understand there are evildoers in this world, which I refused to belief as a little Catholic school girl. Churchill because he vehemently stated “We will NEVER surrender!” I love that! I fight my own personal “wars” at times, and yet this man was a Timex that kept on ticking. JFK because he was the first Catholic president, and I’d like to ask him who the shooter was. I’d also like to give him a piece of my mind about his multiple affairs. Earhart because I’ve been called “Amelia” a few times in my life, and I love flying – have also written for the aviation market, interviewed corporate pilots, flown in a private jet, flew a corporate jet simulator and a Blackhawk helicopter simulator. I’d like to ask her where she crashed…if she crashed, and what were her last thoughts. My son Michael because I love him and he has a brilliant mind and would thoroughly enjoy the experience. My mother because she would also enjoy the experience. Ghandi because he is the great teacher of simplicity/peace. My best friend Mary because we grew up together, and I considered her like a sister; we had so much fun together as kids. I would love to reconnect with her today but I do not know where she lives/works. Denzel because he is my favorite male actor and I find him very sexy. Tom Hanks is my second favorite actor, brilliant as well. Ellen D. because she is extremely authentic and incredibly funny which is a tough act to follow. She “bottom lines” to the truth which I appreciate as a journalist. Just the facts, mam.
Enjoy an exerpt from Good Girl Gone Plaid

A cheeky UK hockey player tells dragon tales! Meet Paul Cude

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Turning cheeky for kids!

Turning cheeky for kids!

I look after my two girls, and when they’re at school I’m a teaching assistant. I love playing hockey, and help coach kids, mine included. Other interests include reading, building computers, squash, cycling, great days out with my wonderful wife and kids, as well of course as WRITING! I’m currently editing my second book in the series. This one is called  ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation’.

 What is your favorite quality about yourself?

I suppose my sense of humour. I always try and look on the bright side of anything, and I’d much rather be laughing than crying. It’s always lovely to see my kids laugh, and be rather cheeky at times…….although I’d never really tell them that. My sense of humour is interspersed throughout my book…….look out for the giant grinning spider.

 What made you want to be a writer?

Oddly it just happened. Sounds a bit crazy really, but one night, when my eldest daughter was just a baby (she’s not far off 11 now) I had the single most realistic dream I’ve ever had. I didn’t remember it until the following day, but when I did, I swear it was just like watching a movie in my head…..so graphic, so intense, so…..mesmerising. Anyhow, I told my wife, who was gobsmacked to say the least. And so was what she said to me, “You have to write it, you just have to.” At the time I just laughed off her idea, bearing in mind that at the time I could only type with two fingers. But over a period of I suppose months, I kept getting more dreams, flashbacks into the story…….sometimes little details, sometimes insights into the characters, sometimes twists and turns to do with the plot. In the end I suppose looking back it was inevitable that I would write it. First I taught myself to type properly…..3 months, and then, well………..I began. At first I needed complete silence to be able to write, something there wasn’t a lot of bearing in mind I was taking care of one young child, with another on the way. But over time I’ve learned to filter it all out and can now write with the kids playing around me if I need to, but I still think I do work more efficiently in total silence. It has taken a long time, and I was surprised how hard and crucial the editing  process was. But in the end it was most definitely worth it.

The most surprising part of all though, is that sometimes…the words just flow out of you, almost as if it were supposed to be that way. On occasions, I’ve sat down to write for half an hour or an hour, and in the blink of an eye, over two hours have passed, and I’ve written three or four times the amount I was aiming for. It’s a little bit spooky, in a good way, but wonderful and rewarding at the same time. I wouldn’t swap it for anything.

 How did you come up with the title?

The whole story came to me in a dream one night, and in the dream, I could see the main character in his dragon form, with this very clear marking of a bent whistle, etched on his scales……hence his name…..Peter Bentwhistle. Whenever I think of him, that’s the first thing that pops into my head. As for the ‘threat from the past’, that’s more about the opening part of the book, that in my mind loops around and connects to the very ending, while still leaving a few unanswered questions for the readers to think about. All will be revealed, some bits in the not too distant future.

 What do you do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing I like to either spend time with my wife and children, or play hockey. A day at the beach down in Swanage or Hengistbury Head followed by a meal out on the way back sounds perfect. If not that, a family bike ride somewhere or a walk in the New Forest. I do love a game of hockey with my friends at Salisbury hockey club, but as I get older it’s much harder to do on a regular basis. I help coach my kids and other children every Sunday morning though, and still try to get to men’s training weekly. Playing squash weekly with an old friend, helps me get through the week. (He’s mentioned in the book.)

What was your favorite part of the book to write? Why?

My favorite part to write was easily the second to last chapter……….’Fawking Hell!!!!!’ As you may have gathered from the chapter title, it has something to do with bonfire night. This whole chapter had been in my head for years before I started writing it, and given that it’s around twenty-two thousand words long, I absolutely whizzed through it. It was a pleasure to write, and the words just zipped out of my head and on to the screen. I could genuinely see every little detail of what happens. Twists and turns abound in that chapter, and it includes a graphic fight scene, which ends in a most unexpected way. It’s easily my favorite part of the book, and just thinking about it sends goose bumps down both of my arms.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Well, I’ve only just finished writing my follow up book….’Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation’, and before any editing it’s just over 215, 000 words long, considerably longer than the previous one. It picks up pretty much from where the first book left off. Only in this one, things get much……..chillier. Quite literally. There’s another tale from the nursery ring (where dragons grow up), related to something that happens much further on in the book. Old and new characters alike feature in what I think is an adventure even more action packed throughout. We come across the mysterious nagas, for good or bad, and we learn a little bit more about the background and living conditions of the king, as well as discovering that he’s far from past his sell by date. There’s much more dragon and human team sport. Tank, one of Peter’s friends, even gets to play a whole detailed game of rugby, in a much similar vein to Peter’s hockey match in the first book. Plus more death defying laminium ball matches, this time in the league, rather than the global cup, with the Indigo Warriors perhaps biting off a little bit more than they can chew. Some of the action here is truly EXPLOSIVE! (A clue, methinks…) The characters, new and old alike, reveal a little bit more about themselves, with something for everyone. The new places visited include Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Egypt, USA, and of course the underground world of the dragon domain. My warped sense of humour still features in places of course. Watch out especially for two of the King’s Guards in the early part of the book, that are particularly good value on that front. Other than that, there’s not much more I can tell you without giving away some of the plot, which of course I’m reluctant to do.

How and where can my readers purchase your books?Bentwhistle

Currently my book can be found for free at Smashwords, in all formats, or can be purchased in either paperback or kindle version from Amazon

The Goodreads page for my book can be found here

Keep up with Paul Cude on facebook here

Or on twitter @paul_cude

Or his website to support the book www.bentwhistlethedragon.co.uk.  In addition, blog www.thesoberhockeyplayer.co.uk which provides further insight into his creations and author interviews.