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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A CHAT WITH JEFF WARD by Linda Swift



Today, in keeping with my intent to give males equal time, my guest is Jeff Ward. Welcome to Once Upon A Word, Jeff. To begin our chat, will you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you for having me Linda. I am a mid-50’s Software Engineer working in the Banking industry. I live in Murfreesboro which is geographically the center of Tennessee. I remain in love with the wife of my youth, Carol. Together we have three wonderful children. I’m father of three, grandfather of 5 with another due any day now. I’m very conservative politically, pseudo-Jewish religiously.
You've condensed a lot of information in a few words. I need a man like you to write my book blurbs. And speaking of that, what kinds of books do you read?
Oh wow, books that would bore you to death, or make your eyes glaze over. My reading is about 98% non-fiction. One recent book is “Programming Erlang” by Armstrong. It was written by the architect of a computer language used by Erickson since the mid-80s and is regaining popularity. Not stuff to discuss at a party however. Outside the realm of my profession you might find a few interesting. “The Dark Side of Christian History” by Helen Ellerbe chronicles the history of Christianity in an unflattering but tragically realistic way. “Paul and Jesus” by James D. Tabor was the best illustration of the tension that exists between the philosophy of Jesus and the philosophy and world view of Paul of Tarsus. I absolutely love Bart Ehrman though he reaches agnostic conclusions that I do not. I love the Judy Woods book “9/11 – Where Did The Towers Go?” It puts a scientific eye to 9/11 that makes the 9/11 commission look completely lame. As you might notice, most of these books are topics that you could talk about at a party...and get kicked out of the party. I want people to like me, but I’m attracted to literature that tends to make people angry...why is that? Oh wait, round them all off with a book that changed my life, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. My mother says that book was like a “charm school” for me. God bless her, she knows I sure needed one. Now there’s how I avoid getting kicked out of the party!
I’m sure notably missing here is any kind of fiction. In my youth, I read the Hardy Boys Series, probably 30 of them. I then moved to the J.R.R. Tolkein “Lord of the Rings” series. After “growing up”, I sort of disconnected with reading fiction. You might be pleased to know that I recently reconnected with reading for pleasure with “This Time Forever” by none other than Linda Swift. I lost almost an entire night’s sleep because I couldn’t put it down.
Thank you, Jeff. You learned well from Dale Carnegie! Most of the books you mentioned, including mine, appear to be long. Are lengthy books your preference?
For non-fiction, I prefer lengthy and complete if it’s organized well. I don’t always read professional books cover-to-cover. I sometimes spot-read, put a summary of the book in my head, then shelve it until I need the specifics.
I think I love a short effective book. “War Is A Racket” by Major General Smedley Butler immediately comes to mind. It’s a tiny little book, but it leaves me crying every time I read it.
My brother frequently alludes to concepts in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand which intrigue me. However, I picked up a copy and opened it. The thickness and tiny print left me thinking, “Am I going to live long enough to read this? How many books am I in the middle of right now? How important is this...really?”
Short  books are awesome!!
I get your drift. You can almost be assured of surviving long enough to finish the short ones. I wonder what criteria, other than length, contributes to selecting books you buy?
The term “out-of-the-box” comes to mind. The thinking that has been prescribed for us is a race to the middle of the herd. In that very middle is where almost everything is a lie or a distortion. I have a world view that there is a such thing as absolute truth. I’m attracted to those who see truths and express them effectively.
In fiction, I like themes that make me feel. This Time Forever for example made me grieve for the abused slave-girl and put me in touch with her heartbreak. It made me feel anger for those who create and perpetuate war. And oh yes, the love. Love always works.


Shades of Dale Carnegie again. And I'd love to spend the rest of our chat discussing my story with you but I'll resist the temptation. That book, and most of my others, are available as print or e-books.  Which do you prefer to read?

Print. I just can’t learn to like the e-books. After facing a computer screen for 8 hours a day, that’s not a way to relax and read a book. Give me a real book, perhaps a highlighter, and a cup of coffee.

Dare I say here online that my favorite is print also?  I imagine you have definite opinions about what pleases or annoys you in books.  Would you care to share that with us?
I don’t like it when people do things in books and particularly drama that people would not normally do. It’s like the writers are trying to influence human behavior, not illustrate it. They want to debase human behavior instead of glorify the good. Sitcom writers seem to love having elderly characters that are foul-mouthed and crude. The dialog all seems phony and unrealistic with an agenda of debauchery. Didn’t literature used to be something that helped build civilization? Am I crazy to think it should build what’s good and decent instead of tear it down?
Very well said, Jeff. I think you may have pointed out the reason I watch so little TV. Everything on screen seems so exaggerated. Do you ever give a print book a second read just because you like it?
Oh yeah, I’ve got my “Paul and Jesus” book out now. Well, I’m not really re-reading cover-to-cover. I’m skimming through my highlights from my first read. Looking at my notes in the margins. Try that in a e-book, right?
I've had a Kindle for several years and I'm still trying to turn its pages! Old habits die hard. Since your reading preference is print, do you spend any time online visiting websites or Facebook pages?
Yes, I do. Surprising how many you can send a “friend” request and they will friend you back. For me, Robert Eisenman was one such find. His research has had a huge impact on the Dead Sea Scrolls findings and its relevance to ancient Christianity. Do I want to know what crosses this guy’s mind on a daily basis? Oh heck yeah! Dr. James Tabor is another.
Some web sites are a tremendous wealth of information. For example, Douglas Del Tondo, author of “Jesus Words Only” has a web site that is chocked-full of wonderful information that you can’t get anywhere else I know of. Eric Jon Phelps, author of Vatican Assassins has a wealth of information, though his writing style is erratic and not very well documented.
Do you often read blogs such as this? If so, do you leave comments?
Well Linda, you’re talking now about the stuff that gets me in trouble. You know, a soapbox can be an expensive thing, and seldom a profitable one. It depends a lot on my mood which tends to run cycles. I try to be a gracious guest of someone else’s blog or Facebook page. I might temper my statements to what you would actually say standing in their living room. I’m more outspoken in my living room...my own Facebook page.
A well-advised word of caution. How do you find the books you choose?
Almost always Amazon search relating to a topic. On fiction, it’s almost always going to be a personal recommendation.
 Have you ever written an Amazon review of a book you have read?
Yes, I have. Several. As a matter of fact, you just might stumble across a review of This Time Forever out there. It wasn’t just a favor either Linda. It’s from the heart.
Thank you, Jeff. (Thank you, Dale Carnegie) I'll be on the lookout for it. But maybe you write your reviews under an assumed name as I do. It is often said that men should read romance novels if they want to know how to have a successful relationship with women. How do you feel about this advice?
Oh wow, very good advice. Common sense, right? If you’re going fishing, you need to fish with something the fish likes. What do women love? Storybook romance. But it’s got to be more than an act. It’s got to be sincere. And you know what? You don’t even have to do it well. You can flounder as long as you’re putting your heart out there. I can think of one romantic failure that would have been different I think. It was sort of a “love at first sight” for me. She made my heart pound so hard I could barely speak. What happened? Nothing. I “kept my cool”. She never knew how she made me feel. Hey, all you sixteen year-old boys out there...keeping your cool is stupid. Be real. Risk telling her how you are feeling and you just might be amazed. I used to say it had to be 100 percent real. I now think 75 percent real plus 25 percent inspired theatrics is a better formula. She’s smart enough to know what you’re doing, but she won’t mind. Be dramatic, she likes it.
I can tell you don't need to read a romance book. You've got this romance thing figured out. One last question for you.  If there is a love story in the book you are reading, do you expect a "happy ever after" ending?
No, I can’t say I expect it. I grew up listening to the soundtrack of “West Side Story” which has a romantically tragic ending. Maybe I’m affected emotionally by tragedy even more sometimes. Les Miserables always makes me cry. (sorry gentlemen, just look the other way cause this is ugly) It climaxes in so many themes that feel personal to me that I’m just overwhelmed. Among them are both the resolved love between Marius and Cosette, right beside the unrequited love of Eponine. The way the play wraps a half dozen very powerful themes into the finale is just amazing to me as a student of drama. As I speak of it, it makes me wonder how Victor Hugo accomplished that same simultaneous climax in the book. Hmmm…..
Have I just discovered another book I should read Linda?
I have one I could recommend, but it's currently out of print. It's been fun chatting with you today. And I'm sure our readers have appreciated your wit as much as I have. Readers, please share your own thoughts with Jeff. Just be sure to hit the "publish" box to have your comments appear on the page.
I regret to announce this will be my last chat with a reader for awhile. Since our publisher will be closing soon due to health issues, I will not be doing monthly posts on this blog.  I will, however, continue to post intermittently and will promote those posts online.
Thank you for visiting today. You can always find me at the links below:   

My Facebook Page

My Amazon Books Page

My Website


14 comments:

  1. Hi Linda,

    Sorry to hear that yet another small publisher will be out of business. Most of my readers are women. I think men might enjoy my books but I believe in general they prefer to read male authors. It's good to read a male perspective toward romance among other things.

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    1. Hi Jacqueline. Thanks so much for stopping by today. Yes, it is heartbreaking to see PbRJV close but at least it is not for lack of sales. Our wonderful publisher has health issues that require her to let the company go. But this blog will still be up and running. And I'll be back intermittently with topics of interest, just not doing chats every month.
      Yes, I think males tend to read other male authors and also shy away from romance books. But Jess has given them good advice on that! In olden days, most women authors chose male names or initials for just the reason you mentioned. Do keep checking on this blog as there will always be something of interest here.

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    2. Thank you Jaqueline, I'm glad you were entertained. I'm afraid men are 50% of the relationship and only about 10% of the commentary. Why don't we say more?? We're not sure. Just telling you the truth. :-)

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  2. Linda, I enjoyed reading your blog and Jeff was a great in responding to your questions. I can understand how he enjoyed reading your civil war novel, This Time Forever.

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    1. Bob, thank you for joining the chat today and for your nice compliments for Jeff and me. I think we know how much men enjoy reading romance from the response we have had from so many men who have read it. But then, there is fighting battles in this story, too.!

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    2. I'm not alone! Thank you Robert. You know, I even checked out some of the factual information in the novel. Sure enough, the business climate that was described in the book seemed to be exactly right for that era. I was surprised how well Linda did her homework. It made me tear up in a place or two also. Great book.

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  3. Jeff and Linda,

    I enjoyed your interview. Linda you ask some great questions.
    Jeff- Loved your witty answers. Robert Eisenman's research on the Dead Sea Scrolls sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out.

    Linda- I believe most of my readers are also female, but recently I had one of my husbands contacts (for photography supplies and equipment in the film industry) tell my husband how much he enjoyed my stories. Since my tales are mainly romances, it was nice to hear there was possibly a male audience who enjoyed the stories as well. :)

    Happy Reading!

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    1. Thank you, Karen. It was fun to interview Jeff and I hope a lot of people read his answers. His reading list leaves me in awe. I think we may be overlooking a silent readership we have in males, most of whom never admit they read our books. It seems the romance genre seems to be "typed" as for females only.

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    3. Hey Karen! Thanks for your responses. Linda does ask good questions...thought-provoking ones. And yes, when you hear what Eisenman has to say, you'll want your preacher to read it. It would probably rock his world a little too much, so he may decline.

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  4. I really enjoyed your interview...great questions, plus very thoughtful and interesting answers! It's always nice to hear different perspectives and you made a good choice in selecting Jeff for an interview. I will be looking forward to any of your future posts and will stay tuned for updates! I know you have enjoyed much success with your publisher RJV and it's nice that you have had such wonderful support. Thanks again for a fun and interesting interview!

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    1. MoreBlessed, I love your pen-name. What a great outlook that implies. Thank you also for appreciating the different perspective. Truth is, in the genre of fiction, I'm a novice to probably everybody else on the forum. Did you ever think how different life would be if you couldn't read? My life would certainly be different. Blessings!

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  5. Thanks for visiting and for your comments, Kaye. I have loved chatting with our readers and getting to know them. I hope to resume these chats again later on. And yes, being part of the PbRJV "family" has been the best thing that has happened in my writing career. And I'm very grateful for all the family and friends (like you) who have supported my writing also.

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  6. I'll add one more story that you might find amusing. Several years ago while working in a corporate office park, I set aside one day a week to go to lunch by myself. I would take with me an article...something I wanted to learn. While waiting for my fried chicken at the counter, my eyes met the gaze of the the young lady filling my order. The conversation was something like this:

    Her: Are you going to read that?
    Me: Yes, I planned to. Why?
    Her: Do you HAVE to?
    Me: No, I was going to read it for pleasure.
    Her: I'm glad I don't have to read it.

    The look on her face was priceless. Having to read something was like punishment for her. I've reflected on her reaction many times since then. Differences in people makes the world a wonderful and entertaining place.

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