About Once Upon a Word: We're a large group of multi-talented authors working together, to bring you the best romances.

Saturday, May 27, 2017



This month I am deviating from my usual chat with a reader who isn't a writer.  I thought it might be interesting to hear from a writer who is a reader. And to make the reversal complete, I invited a male to share his views. I "met" today's guest some time ago through the blog Fifty Authors from Fifty States.
Welcome to Once Upon A Word, Kenneth (Ken) Weene. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Well, the first thing is I’m what I like to call a Broody New Englander, which is also the title of one of my books—not a memoir, but based on my experiences growing up in New England, especially Maine.
Later, I lived in New York where I practiced as a psychologist. That professional experience underlies a couple of my novels, Memoirs From the Asylum in particular. After a long career, I burned out and fled to the comparative sanity of Phoenix, Arizona, where my wife and I now live. That’s where I started writing. Before that, in New York, I did write some poetry and short non-fiction, but something about the Arizona sunshine has caused my writing to flourish. It may also have to do with joining a writing group.

That group inspired another of my books, Tales From the Dew Drop Inne. The connection isn’t that the group meets in a bar—we go with coffee houses like true artists— but those groups, however we form them, become like families—filled with quirks, jokes, and pathos.
Anyway, enough about me, let’s talk books. And, if your readers want to find my books and more, I hope they’ll stop  by. http://www.kennethweene.com

I think the entire Southwest  could have the effect on creativity you describe. And yes, let's talk books. What kind do you read?

You could say I’m an omnilectorem, that would be the reading equivalent of an omnivore, which I also am. I’ll try any book, or story, poem, essay, or whatever. Right now, I’m reading By More than Providence, a history of American diplomacy in the Pacific. Before that I read The House at the Edge of Night. Let’s see, before that, Paris Is Always a Good Idea. And just to show what I mean about reading everything, there was a book for teens finishing their studies at Montessori schools and entering high school.

Now, that doesn’t count the books that people send me to review either for comment on Amazon and Goodreads or for possible interviews on the internet radio show I co-host, It Matters Radio. Recently, for example, I read a new book, Goodbye My Love, by paranormal romance author Maggie Tideswell from South Africa. However, since those are solicited reads, I guess that’s a different category.

You have convinced me that you are indeed an omnilectorem.  Do you have a preference for  long or short books?

I don’t care about length only quality. It’s like the old joke: How long do your legs have to be? Long enough to reach the ground.

I will say that as a writer I have always tried to keep books short enough so that a good reader could read one on a plane trip from New York City to Los Angeles. Not that the folks who get on planes in Los Angeles can’t read, but I’m hoping that that hypothetical reader has connections in Hollywood. Actually, one of my books, Times To Try The Soul of Man, has been picked up and we’re working on the script. (Yeah, I know, shameless plug)
But, I do have to admit that the book on which I’m currently working will require a longer flight. I think it will probably work for New York to London.

What are the main reasons you buy a certain book and which of these is the most important to you?

Whim and whimsy mostly. I don’t buy a lot of books at bookstores. Most of the time, I get recommendations (and as I said before, requests). If the suggested book sounds good, I give it a go. Sometimes on Kindle, but usually in print. Typically, if it hasn’t been sent to me, I sample it at Amazon—sometimes on an author’s website.

Much as I love bookstores, I don’t get to them often, especially given the paucity here in Phoenix. When I do go shopping for books for fun, usually when we’re out of town, I roam through the store stopping to sample different sections. Strangely, bookstores bring out the primitive hunter and gatherer in me. I feel like I’m sneaking up on that elusive great read, or perhaps I’m more porcine and trying to find as many truffles as I can.

Do you prefer ebooks or print books?                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Print. I love the sensory quality of holding a book in my hands. I have to admit that I don’t treat books too kindly. I write marginalia and bend pages; that is unless it is an old book worth a lot that has somehow found its way to me or a personally dedicated copy from a fellow author. People sometimes wonder about that. “Why so disrespectful?” they ask. It isn’t disrespectful. I in no way want to have that book go on to a used-book store. Quite simply, I want people to buy new books so that authors get royalties. I know many readers love to pass that great story on, but please reconsider. We writers need money; we can’t live on love of words alone. 

Let me add a brief note on used-book stores. Personally, I find them fascinating except for the sneezing—mine not the stores. They are great places to hunt for books that are no longer in the regular stores. Typically, if I find something used that sounds good, my first response is to try to buy it new. If not, then I will resort to buying the used copy. Even if it is available on Kindle and not in print, I will go with the Kindle so the author gets their due.

By the way, why haven’t you asked about audio books? I love them for long car trips. A few of my books are available in that format. For some reason, Memoirs From the Asylum does particularly well as an audiobook.

An oversight on my part not to have included  audiobooks, especially since I have two recently released.  Are there things that please you or turn you off when reading or listening to books?

I love good writing, writing that carries me along in its flow. When I was younger, I did a lot of whitewater rafting. I loved going with the rush of the water. Sometimes, there would be a rock or a place where we’d lose control, which added to the sense of challenge, but in the end, we’d get ourselves right and on the flow would go. I look for that same sense of movement and pace with occasional moment to make me stop and think.

Do you ever read books a second time just because you like them?

Absolutely. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien; I’ve read that a few times. Steinbeck—to whom I’ve been compared—Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath in particular. Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. And, of course, plays, particularly those of Shakespeare and Mamet.

I wonder if you often read blogs such as this?  And if so, do you leave comments?
I can’t say that I follow many blogs, but I do read them. For a long time, I co-edited one that was quite successful in getting hits, but we decided that it had become flatulent if not moribund. As for comments, I try to leave helpful and positive comments when I can.

Have you ever written an Amazon review of a book you have read?  

Yes. I write many, not only of books but other purchases as well. Sometimes, because I’m friends with an author or because Amazon’s algorithm has identified me with It Matters Radio, my reviews don’t get posted. However, I do write them. By the way, when I do reviews, I try to be honest. If I am really negative about a book, I probably won’t review it at all—in part because I probably haven’t finished reading itMy goal in life is to not harm others.

An admirable goal. A scathing review can do serious damage to a writer who often doesn't realize this is just one person's opinion.

However, if the author contacts me to ask why I never published a review, then I will tell him. If he had asked me to read it before he put it on Kindle, I also would have said something. Which brings me to one of my pet peeves, badly edited books. I don’t mean that occasional grammatical error or formatting flub. I don’t even mean that unusual word choice or slight problem of logic. I mean overall lack of editing and particularly lack of a clear idea of what the book is. I find bad editing to be like getting in my raft at the top of the river only to find that somebody has set a boom across the water, sometimes a boom with sharp spikes to make sure that the raft is not only stopped but that it sinks.

I have heard this from many other readers as well. It seems in our haste to get our book "out there" we often don't take the time to edit properly. And I believe the final responsibility lies with the author who knows the material better than anyone.

So, an unasked for but freely given bit of advice for those of your followers who write: Find yourself a good editor, not just a page editor to check grammar, but a real editor who can help you create a book that truly works for the reader.

Thank you for this suggestion even though it means additional effort for authors. And thank you for chatting with me today, Ken. As always, your wit and candid views are interesting to hear. I hope readers will join in by leaving their own views on our conversation today. If you leave a comment, be sure to click on the blue window that says "Publish" or your comment won't be shown and we do want to hear what you have to say!

Find Linda Swift at these links below:





  1. Thanks so much for interviewing me, Linda.

  2. It is my pleasure to have you here, Ken. Since this is a busy holiday weekend, we may not have many readers stopping by just yet. Please feel free to invite your friends to visit us and I'll be posting the link to our chat on other places myself. Talk again later.

  3. I can't help but shiver thinking of a winter in New England. It's so picturesque to imagine being there, but I live my best in the south--the southeast, not southwest. I agree with you that the warmer, sunny climate is more conducive to creativity.

    I only buy nonfiction books in print. I really just don't have the space for print books anymore. I buy all fiction books on Kindle and I've grown to love that lighted screen for easier reading now that I'm older. I do write in the margins of books. Sometimes I do it to clarify a difficult passage such as when I read a book by Stephen Hawking. He thinks he's writing for us common folk, but I have to read some of the complicated theories several times and write my simpler version in the margins. Some may think it disrespectful, but I also write in the margins of my Bible and underline passages. Of course, I don't really care what others may think about writing in books. I bought them. They're mine and they aren't going anywhere.

    I'm so glad to see you support other authors by writing reviews on Amazon. I like to give a good author credit for their work, too. IU used to write reviews for a review company, so I had to write some bad ones, but I hope I wrote them in such a way that was helpful to an author and not just some snarky remarks to make myself look clever.

    I love audio books on trips and sometimes at night to help me relax.

    You didn't talk about your radio show very much, but I bet it's fun to interview authors and discuss books via the radio. Seems like a fun job'

    I want to wish you all the best, Ken. I enjoyed reading this interview with you.

    1. Hi Sarah. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comments. I always enjoy what you have to say on any subject. I agree with you about reviews. They can be very helpful to an author if given in the right way and I'm sure yours are always tactful and worthwhile.

  4. Thanks for your kind words. And, yes, it is great fun doing the interviews, not only with authors but with all our spoken word guests. Here's the link if you'd care to check out some of the podcasts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R36G0ca9588&list=PL7nztxPtknQ7h_WKXRJTy5c47H2MziLuC

  5. Enjoyed the interview, Ken and Linda.

    Ken- so nice of you to support other authors with reviews.
    I'm with you. I won't leave a review unless I liked the book. I have no desire to hurt someone's feelings.
    Love audio books. I'll listen to them on my drive to and from work. Passes the time on the road.

    Regarding audio books: Did you find someone to read your book through ACX or from another agency? Right now I'm looking for a producer to read one my stories and am curious if you thought royalty share was a good idea or if paying the producer in one flat rate is better?

    I'll have to check out your radio show. Sounds interesting.

    Thanks so much for sharing today. I wish you the very best.:)

    1. Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to leave your comments, Karen. I imagine you have a long drive to work in your area, and lots of traffic to contend with. I wonder if you ever get so involved with listening to a book that you find it difficult to focus on driving? I know I would and I don't multi-task very well when it comes to matters of the mind.

    2. It's never bothered me to listen to the audio books anymore than listening to the songs on the radio or talk radio do.

      It takes me about thirty to forty minutes to and from work depending on the traffic. Not so bad as others have it.

  6. My publisher, All Things That Matter Press, arranged the audios. I did hire actors for some of my trailers, but they were paid for their work at regular rates except for one, who did it as a friend and to whom I gave a gift card.

    1. It would be much easier if someone would just choose the producer for me. I find I can't decide. lol

  7. Find yourself a great publisher like I have and they'll do that among many things.

    1. Ken, it has been a pleasure to chat with you. Thank you so much for coming and sharing your thoughts with us. I wish more of our viewers had joined our conversation but I want to thank all who have visited and hope they stop by again soon.


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