Today we welcome Ronda Del Boccio.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Ronda Del Boccio: Is there life outside writing? Just kidding. There’s plenty of it. I’m a blind person living in rural Missouri with my gorgeous golden retriever guide dog, Diva. She gets ALL the attention when we’re out. I might as well be invisible.
I enjoy cooking, card making and other paper crafting, planning (decorating a paper planner), reading, and playing with my dog. I’ve actually won awards for coking, translation of a Medieval Spanish manuscript, and art.
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Ronda Del Boccio: I’m an eclectic in life and writing. I’ll try to keep this short so you don’t doze off. I write fiction, nonfiction. Some years back, an editor told me I was really a novelist, and that came as a shock to me. Now I have 2 of those written and another on the way. Sounds like a pregnancy, but I do mean a book. I don’t stick to one genre either. Though I mostly write fantasy or paranormal stories, every once in a while I shock people and throw down a mundane story. I just took 2nd place for a my first ever western short story.
My mom’s unsafe food habits prompted me to write a food safety quiz book that I self published. I also have a couple of paranormal novellas on Kindle. You can get all my books on Amazon, linked at the end.
My new paranormal suspense novel They All Died Smiling comes out soon from The Wild Rose Press. It’s about a woman who has a psychic ability that has only ruined her life. Now her special talent could help save lives, assuming she chooses to embrace it. You can get a free sneak peek and find out when it will hit ink at http://WriteOnPurpose.com/read.
I have been a columnist for a local newspaper and an international blindness magazine in the past. At a writing conference, 4 women who collaborated on a book gave me and my friend Bonnie the idea that we should co-author a book, and we wrote I’ll Push You Steer: The Definitive Guide to Stumbling through Life with Blinders On and found a publisher for it the same year. It’s only available on Kindle currently. I’ve been a ghost writer and a co-author of business books.
I choose to write because the character or idea comes to me and won’t let go. All my work, no matter fiction or nonfiction, no matter the genre, has underlying messages of love and healing.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Ronda Del Boccio: Several. I’m doing a final read-through of a fantasy novel. I’m in the early stages of a memoir about the journey my prison-raised guide dog, Diva, and I. I’m also working on a book of quick tips and hacks for authors. And, I’m scheming the sequel to They All Died Smiling, since readers will be wondering what’s next after the shocking ending.
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Ronda Del Boccio: The most difficult scenes are those in which a character is struggling to come to terms with his/her own truth and power, no matter which book I may be writing. I live through the trials and triumphs my characters experience.
The hardest scene to write in They all Died Smiling is the one in which Kassidy relives the memory of her preacher father disowning her and kicking her out of his life at age 8 because she saw the demon inside him and tried to help free him of it. Obviously, he wasn’t interested.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Ronda Del Boccio: I do what I need to do, often drawing on my eclectic knowledge base. In the case of They All Died Smiling, there’s a certain degree of personal experience involved. I had to verify what a drowning victim’s body would be like if it wasn’t discovered right away for this book. The setting is Chicago, which is where I grew up. I had to make sure the restaurant I mention, Lou Mitchell’s, was still open (and it is still going strong for the past 85 years.)
In Deadly Mist, which isn’t YET published, I drew upon knowledge of aromatherapy, energywork and healing methods. I verify those things I can.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Ronda Del Boccio: I read everything from cozy mysteries to fantasy to paranormal to historical fiction. Every so often I read a mundane, but not that often.
I wrote one of my favorite authors, Terry Goodkind, and he was nice enough to encourage me in my writing and send me some swag. I thought that was cool.
You can follow me on Goodreads (link below) to find out what I’m reading this week. Here are some of my favorite books:
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Richard Bach, Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
Bob Burg, The Go Giver
Wallace Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich
Terry Goodkind, Sword of Truth series
Kevin Hearne, Iron Druid Chronicles
Debra Geary, A Modern Witch series
Orson Scott Card Ender’s Game
Marian Zimmer Bradley Mists of Avalon
Stephen King, “Grey matter” (short story)
Ray Bradbury, “A Sound of Thunder” (short story)
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Ronda Del Boccio: My bestie Seana encourages me a lot. She hates running out of pages to read, so she wishes I could write constantly. I absolutely must credit my 1st and 2nd grade teacher Miss Dunn for insisting that we read. She began my love affair with books. I am glad I had a chance to tell her that when I was in 8th grade, as she died the next year.
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Ronda Del Boccio: Readers tell me they feel immersed in my writing because I put them right there in the scene. Several have said they see the internal movie in their heads. I don’t leave them feeling like they’re in a dark closet with the lights off. They also tell me I create real characters with dimension.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Ronda Del Boccio: I write about five or six days a week, but I hate slavish routines. I’m not good at feeling bound to strict anything.
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Ronda Del Boccio: I vision myself continuing to write novels, doing live events, podcasts, radio and TV interviews, and inspiring my readers to claim their power and share their gifts.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Ronda Del Boccio: I have to give two that are interwoven. Being the rebel that I am, I can’t just give one. Read everything with an eye for how it can help you improve as a writer, and keep writing!
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Ronda Del Boccio: If the person read a nonfiction of mine, the best compliment would be that my book inspired her. If fiction, it would be that the characters feel like real people she knows.
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
Ronda Del Boccio:
My next train rolled up, and the doors opened and spewed out bundled passengers. I stepped into its warmth. No visions, but I could feel so much despair and loneliness around me. Just what I need; an emotional barometer of humanity. But at least no one had brought a source of evil with them that I could detect. This time I was able to sit forward-facing, which made it easier to stare into the mingled reflection and blackness of the window.
My mind took me back to the worst day of my life. I was only eight years old. The stiff dress Mama made me wear for services itched something fierce. I couldn’t wait to get it off me, but we hadn’t even gone to church yet, so it would be forever before that happened.
Pa was next door at the church going over his sermon. Mama and I ate breakfast together. She made pancakes, my favorite, but I picked at my food. She asked me what was wrong.
“I’m worried about Pa.”
“I think something’s gonna try and hurt him.”
“He has a dark place, and it’s getting worse.”
Mama pursed her lips and shook her head. “Just pray for him.”
“I do, every day. But Mama, I get my signs when he’s around.”
“He’s a preacher. The Lord looks after his own. It’s in God’s hands, not yours.”
Her sharp voice cut my spirit. Mama kept telling me to sit still and eat my breakfast. She yelled at me for wasting food when so many folks went hungry.
I ran to the church and listened to Pa finish practice-preaching his sermon. My palms hurt. The black funnel over his heart had drawn the biggest, nastiest-looking demon I had ever seen. It was fiery red beneath with black scales and eyes like smoldering embers and a tail full of stingers. The demon had hold of him but good. I had never been so scared. I prayed for God to help me help my Pa.
When he finished, I ran up to the pulpit. The demon glared at me. Swished its barbed tail. A nest of pulsing pale green eggs rested in the bottom of the lectern. Did Pa see them? Or the demon?
I couldn’t let it alone. I was so worried. Whenever I mentioned the blackness I saw around his heart, he got so mad he belted me. If I could just help him get free of the evil, he’d be all right, wouldn’t he? I had to try.
Pa patted me on the head. “My sermon should put the fear of God into them.”
I tugged his hand. “Pa, please, may I speak with you?” What if the demon crawled clear inside him and took over? It shook its barbed tail at me and hissed. I bit back a scream.
Pa gave me a wary look. “Folks will be coming in any minute. Make it quick.”
My heart pounded so hard I thought anyone could see a lump every time it beat. I opened my mouth, but no words came out the first time. Finally, I pointed and squeaked, “Father, a demon is trying to hurt you. Please let me pray with you.”
Pa’s eyes blazed like the devil himself looking out at me. Shaking from head to toe, I brought my hands together, fingers pointing downward, charging them with power to send that demon on home. My golden bubble surrounded me, shining bright, protecting me.
Pa pointed a shaking finger at me. “Impudent child, how dare you enter a house of God and speak such evil!” The nasty creature inside him growled. Waved its tail like a mad cat. Pa raged. People started coming into church for services. Everything blurred together.
Stunned faces. The demon. Pa’s flaming eyes. Yelling. Screams.
Mama ran into the church and called my name.
Pa pointed at me and proclaimed, “This child has prayed with many of you under the guise of easing your suffering, but she has mislead us all. We cannot allow such evil among us.”
He threw a Bible at my head. I dropped to the floor to avoid being hit. It wished past my hair and thudded into the pew behind me. I jumped to my feet, quaking head to toe.
More screams. One of them Mama’s.
Pa’s pronouncement shook me so hard my teeth clacked together. I tried to speak, but no words would come out of my mouth. I didn’t think anyone else could see the demon that had hold of him—the power of darkness he himself had invited. I looked at the horrified faces all around, some shaking their heads, some crying. None of them dared defy the preacher. Nobody came to help me, not even Mama.
Pa wrapped his hands around my throat, lifted me way off the ground and addressed his flock. “This demon-possessed child has no place in our church.” He looked straight into my eyes and decreed my doom. “You have forever fallen from grace. God cannot love one such as you. Now be gone! Let me never see your face again.”
He threw me to the ground. I clambered to my feet, turned to look at him in shock. Nobody spoke. My tears blurred the stunned faces of those who had been, until now, my church family.
Mama’s “No!” and her gasp echoed around the church.
I wanted to protest, but I could barely breathe, much less speak. Only a feeble squeak came out of my mouth. Why would nobody come help me? They all stood frozen.
I ran toward Mama. Surely she could talk sense into Pa, fix this horrible mess. She clutched at her chest and fell to the floor. I dropped at her side, calling to her, but she could not answer. Her face went white as snow. I yelled for someone to get help. As if glued in place, they stayed put. Not a single soul moved to help her.
Pa picked me up by my neck and tossed me toward the door. “I said be GONE, child of Satan!” The demon had hold of him clear to his soul.
The door flew open. For a terrifying moment I thought his fiend had done it, but two policemen ran into the church. I darted between them and fled into the morning.
No one followed. My world shattered, I ran all the way to the lake, about two miles. Silent tears poured down my face to join its waters. Waves lapped around my ankles, embracing me. My parents, my church and God abandoned me all at once, even though all I did was try to help.
The train lurched, pulling me back into my current surroundings. I shook my head to clear it and swiped away tears. I wished I could emerge from terror’s dark grip. I trembled but not from cold.
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