Ran lives in Ontario Canada, and as we talked, the temp was WAY below zero. She works in the mental health field, which is what we talk about in the second half, but she views her writing as a major part of her life, starting at the tender age of 6.
She’s also an avid board/card gamer, which I can relate to. Playing games can be very creative and is also a good way to relax.
She is working on publishing her first books but she has been a part of publishing a memoir written by her grandfather. The book has been sitting around for over 30 years and Ran worked to get its story out to the world.
Some of her favorite books:
The bookstore she likes is 2 hours north of here – Chat Noir
Stephen: Today I’m talking to Ran who comes from the great white North up in Canada and it’s very cold the day we talk. She discusses a book she was involved on in not something she wrote, but it’s something her grandfather wrote over 30 years ago and it hasn’t been published. Hadn’t seen the lie today till recently when Ran was involved with it.
It sounds like a great story with. Her father, her grandfather’s journey from World War II and his life, and it’s a memoir, and then ran, used that for the inspiration to get going on her books. So she has her own stories coming out now, so it’s a great listen to, it’s a great thing to check out if you enjoy those types of books with memoirs.
Please go check her book out, let her know what you think of it. And here’s.
Great. And with me today I’ve got ran. Welcome, ran. I appreciate you coming on the podcast. Thanks. Thanks for having me. And so to get started, let’s find out a little bit about you who you are, where you’re from, bit about your background and some things you like to do besides writing that type of.
Ran: Okay I write under the moniker Ran Winegardner. I live in a small town in northern Ontario, Canada, where it’s currently minus 17 Celsius. It’s really cold. Usually it’s a, it’s bittersweet because the sun is shining, but usually when the sun is shining, that means it’s bitterly cold out there.
So you gotta take the good with the bad so it’s a good day to cuddle up and read a book.
Yep. That is right. Absolutely. Absolutely. And yeah, currently so I have a day job. I’m the office manager at a mental health clinic. And um, and I’m actually, for one of the fewer times throughout my working life, I’m actually really enjoying my day job.
So that’s a win. . And in terms of things that I do outside of writing, cuz writing is really my primary focus. It’s what I love to do above anything else. But but I love playing board games with friends and family that’s really taken a hit in this past year. We’re trying to figure out ways of doing it remotely, but it’s uh, it’s difficult.
Spending time with my dog Charlie, and and baking sourdough bread, like the tactile experience of that is, is a, like a completely new discovery for me. I am not domesticated in the least but I am loving just the experience of making sourdough bread and every loaf is different. .
Stephen: Oh, that’s cool.
I’ve got another friend that I actually do another podcast with, and he loves to bake bread, but he has found he’s diabetic now and Oh, no. Bread is not a good thing. . So that’s, he’s taking a hit on that. Ah what type of game board games do you like to play?
Ran: So we we really, so my whole gaming career started with with Katan.
So anything, right? Anything, any board game that is designed with a nice mix of chance, right? You gotta roll that dice and you don’t know how you get. But also strategy and the ability to to. Play the hand that you’re dealt, right? So if you get really crappy roles and you get really crappy resources how can you turn that around for yourself?
I just love that. So we have we have a cabinet. It’s a huge like floor to ceiling cabinet full of board games and we’re gonna have to start thinning it out cuz there’s just so many . Eventually we’re gonna have to
Stephen: sell some. Yeah, I feel your pain. I used to the card game Magic?
Yeah. Have you heard of that one? I used to deal with magic cards, buy, sell, trade, that type of thing. Yeah. And when I stopped doing that, I took all the cards to a local game store and traded them in for store credit. So we literally have almost like $2,000 worth of chord games. Wow.
That’s awesome. So I’ll have to shoot you over a couple suggestions if you haven’t played.
Ran: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. We should compare notes for sure.
Stephen: Yeah, and my wife has gotten into some of the ones that she didn’t think she’d get into. So there’s quite a few good ones out there nowadays.
Ran: Yeah. Yeah, I just got Kaka Sun. in for my birthday in, in the summer, and we’ve been playing it, I think it’s the same game designer as Katan. But it’s a little bit different and it’s, I didn’t think I’d like that. I resisted that one for the longest time, but I’m, we’re really enjoying it.
and you can play it with two players, which is great. During a pandemic you don’t Yes. When you only have a
Stephen: household two. One that we got a couple years ago that we enjoy though it is more fun with more people. It’s called camel up. It’s basically your ra betting on camel race. Yeah. Yes. With
Ran: camels that go backwards too.
Yeah, that’s a good one. We’ve enjoyed that one a lot. Yes. It’s hard to find games. It’s hard to find games for people. Like we, we had another couple that we would play with and there’s lots of really good games for four people, right? But then we added another couple and then it was hard to find games so you could play six players or more.
And Camel was definitely one of them. It was a really good time.
Stephen: Yeah I agree. You hit a stage where games that are good for up to four people are not as good. Yeah. For bigger groups, and then you have all these other games sitting around that you can’t really play unless you have five or more people
Ran: Exactly. Yeah. Exactly.
Stephen: When you decided to start writing and make that a big passion what made you want to start writing? I’ve I like, gosh, I think I wrote my first story at, maybe I was six or seven. And I. I think I just love the escape from reality. I just love I think it was through the looking glass, the whole idea that you could take a household object like a mirror, and that there was a whole fantastical world beyond that mirror.
Ran: Just, I’ve never gotten over that. Like I’m still in awe. of that concept. And I, so I think for me, it’s been less about a moment where I decided to to write and it’s something that’s always been with me, like the idea of creating stories, delving in stories, being in stories like I am, I love television, I love books.
I love audio books. I love the. Theater, anything that , basically anything that can take me out of my daily life I’m up for it. I’m absolutely up for it. But I would say if there was a turning point for me it was this year, this past year when I turned 50 I turned 50 and I thought what do I wanna do with the next?
Assuming if I’m lucky, I have maybe another 25 years, so what do I wanna. Really focus on what do I wanna spend my free time doing free and quotation marks. Because you never have enough of that. And and that was really when I was like the answer to this, you absolutely know the answer to this.
You’ve gotta devote more time to that passion that really ignites your imagination. And essentially is that’s what I’m here for. I feel like this is what. This is what I was meant to do. And and so it, it set me on this journey and it’s, and you know what? Since I’ve committed to getting up at an ungodly hour in the morning and writing and writing every day, oh, this has been years in coming writing every day.
I just find that whenever I have a question like, Hey, what could I do? You. What could I do with this plot point? Or I wonder who I can show this story to or whatever the case may be. The answer just comes someone appears, someone goes on a Slack channel that I’m a member of and goes, Hey just in case anybody was wondering, this is what I’ve been playing with or resources come anything like that Thinking of doing a podcast and then you started posting a bunch of things about Hey, this is what I’m doing.
I’m starting my podcast. And I just was like, this is it. This is, if there was any confirmation from the universe that I’m on the right track, this is
Stephen: it. Yes. That’s, I was almost gonna say that exact same thing. Agreed. It, I had. several. I had been thinking about some stories for literally four years.
Yes. Which without doing anything about it. And then within the space of a couple weeks, multiple things came at me that like pushed me towards actually writing. So I said I better take my cue and listen to the universe. . Yes.
Stephen: Awesome. So tell us about your book and what made you want to write this book.
Ran: I have a, I have two books that are still in production. Okay. One is the novel that I started, my God, like a million years ago. And but I’m determined to, to finish it. But I what I set myself as a goal for 2021 is to write short stories. Cuz I really wanna work on my craft.
I answered the call for to write a short story for an anthology, and I just learned so much from just doing that quick turnaround, that 2,500 word you knows. Start, middle and end that I just thought I want more of that. Like I wanna learn more of that. So that’s what I’m doing for 2021.
And I’m hoping that by the end of 20, I’m not hoping by the end of 2021, I will have I will have short stories to publish and to to publish a collection of but. . If I may, I’d like to plug today a book Okay. That I was involved in, but that that I was not the author of. So is that all?
Stephen: Yeah, absolutely. That’s what I like getting books out there that the anyone listening may not have heard of, so this is perfect.
Ran: Yeah. So this is a labor of love. So this is my grandfather’s memoirs. Okay, now he’s been gone 30 years, like this goes back, way back to World War ii.
The book is called Journey of Faith across a Turbulent Century, and the tagline is Memoirs of a Refugee Pastor. And I did a Google search the other day. Memoirs of a Refugee Pastor takes you directly to his Amazon sales page. And it’s It reads like part thriller, part romance.
He was a medic in World War ii. this was like in, in Yugoslavia. It’s a country that doesn’t even exist anymore. And just watching so here he is, he’s got his family established and he’s got his wife and he’s got his four kids. And and there’s this slow descent into World War II that happens and it’s, so you can, you have that firsthand, like first person account of what it’s like to watch the machinery build up.
And then World War or World War II happens people are scattered they don’t have a country anymore. The they flee. There’s and then at one point my grandmother and my grandfather. Separated and they have no idea where each other is. They do get reunited. So there is a happy ending on that front.
But it’s really like for a memoir, it’s been it’s been really interesting to read it. It really speaks to the resilience of the human spirit and how much we can tolerate, right? Which I think is really what we need to be reading at this time. . I think some of us thought maybe 2020 good rids and 2020 started off with a bang so when I was like, I was doing some copy editing and some line editing and it just, it was really helpful for me to just be reminded that as a species we’ve we’ve survived and we’ve prevailed.
And what is it like, what are those ingredients, right? What is it that makes, cuz he does have some tragic stories of people who just gave up. People who just it was too much. It was too much. And but what did we do? What did people do to help each other through some of that despair and give each other the courage to keep going.
Stephen: Like you said, it’s kinda like history repeats itself where with what’s going on now, so your grandfather wrote this how long ago?
Ran: So he he finished writing it in the eighties. It he, he he he died in the early nineties. And he, so my, he had three sons my two uncles and my dad, who thought we really, we to make this available for for his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren.
So they started translating it and my dad, when my dad retired, He took it on as a whole project. So it wasn’t just the translating of his notebooks that he carried in the trenches and across these long marches across Europe. It wasn’t just that, but he put some historical context to some of them.
So when you’re reading it, you’re getting a sense of what was happening in the in the historical moments in the. Big what governments were doing, what and then have that larger context with what the people on the ground were experiencing. And that took a lot of work, lots of tracking down photographs and putting them in.
So if you’re a history buff this is really the way to go. So it’s been like a love from the whole family getting involved.
Stephen: Yeah, I was just gonna say that. the, were you involved with helping this or are you just interested in reading it now because you are wanting to write?
Ran: I thought that’s what it was, but my dad my dad and I have worked together.
We’ve written together and and he, so he really asked me for my help in terms of some copy editing writing the blurb. I’m more dialed into how to market books these days. You know how to. So I got to weigh in on a lot of that and I read it did some line editing as well.
Made sure all the the footnotes matched and the wording was right and it wasn’t too repetitive and so on. So all that kind of work, I was lucky enough to get involved with.
Stephen: Nice. It’s obviously a family labor of love, but it also gave you a little experience to see how things went.
Do you think that has helped you with the what you’re working on?
Ran: Absolutely. Everything helps, right? Every experience that you have. And for people who are listening, like if you’re if you’re a writer and you do even something like you write the brochures the marketing brochures or the informational brochures for your day job, that helps, right?
Like it’s all right practice. It’s all practice. What I. what I would take away from it, because again, I’ve had experience doing that work and even doing that work professionally. But what I hadn’t had experience with is releasing a book. Like usually I’ve ghost written books.
Once it’s done, I pass it on. Right? And then it’s like another team that publishes it, that does the marketing, that does everything. Like my job is done with this one though. I got to we we went with a hybrid publisher. . And so they did a lot of the boots on the groundwork, but there were a lot of decision points that they came back to us with and said do you wanna go this track?
Do you wanna go this track? What are your plans are, how do you see it going? And and I got to be involved with that and that is definitely gonna be helping me when I release my own.
Stephen: Yeah. And I think that’s, I was gonna mention that helping work on a book of someone else’s gives you that experience, gives you a little self-confidence.
So when you’re working on your own book, I know a lot of authors ha start getting fearful, oh, how will I get this published? Will I get it out and is anyone go read it? And that, so some of that fear was taken away from you. So do you think that’s helping you with the books you are working on?
Ran: yourself. Yes, a hundred percent. And I’ve heard this is a theme that has come back to me recently. Writing can be a really solitary venture . You’re in your own mind. Yeah. You’re in your own brain a lot of the time, and sometimes that means you’re in really bad company
If you you had an episode that I really appreciated from your podcast on self-doubt and and that th those beasts at. Six o’clock in the morning when you’re writing your crappy first draft, or you’re like just writing, getting the words out, and you’re thinking, why am I even doing this?
Is this ever gonna become anything ? This is so much work, right? Why? Why do I even do this? when you’re write, when you’re co-writing, or when you’re write, when you’re working on someone else’s project and they have. Self-doubts. You’re like, are you crazy? This is brilliant. This is great.
It doesn’t even matter if nobody else reads it. This is, this needs to be out there. Like people will read it. You have this faith when it’s other people’s work you have this faith. Yeah. Because even if it’s one person even if it’s just one person that read it and went, my God, this is exactly what I needed to read, right in this moment, that has value, that has absolutely has value.
But you can’t tell me that when I’m full of self-doubt at 6:00 AM Like I, I will. I don’t believe. So we need each other, right? We need other writers to just go, no, that’s a big deal. That’s a big deal. Good job. Keep going.
Stephen: I totally agree. You said you were involved with an anthology and you wrote a story for that.
Yeah. Yeah, tell us a little bit about that anthology and that, that
Ran: story. The anthology didn’t happen. There weren’t, okay. , it was an anthology for for charity, which I thought was a really, it’s a really great idea to get your work out there. If you can get into anthologies or if you’re part of a.
Even a, a group of readers, if it’s a mastermind or a critique group or whatever the case may be everybody kind of participates. It’s that group like that support from other writers that you can all practice releasing the book. Yeah, so it was a really good experience.
It was a run at it. I have a short story out of it, and I’m I’m gonna recycle that short story. Like I’m absolutely happy with the work that I did, and even though that anthology hasn’t come to be there will be another anthology or there’ll be a magazine or I’ll just put it up on my own as of yet to be released blog like whatever it is, it’ll see the light of day.
and uh, so the exercise was not in vain
Stephen: and that, I assume that was with Jay, correct? Yeah. Yeah. It was the ki. And there’s a, he does a lot of anthologies for charity and he’s been a big help for a lot of starting writers. Yeah. So I know there’s a lot of other new authors that have been on the podcast and that listen to other interviews look up Jay Thorne, look up his mastermind, look up the services he offers.
Absolutely. We’re both in his mastermind group. You’ve got these plans for the year, and it’d be great to follow up in a year and a half and see where you’re at see what books you have out, how things have changed. Yes. But for this what are some of your favorite books and authors?
Ran: I’m glad you asked because I’ve just discovered TJ clones writing. Someone suggested the house in the Sierra Leonian Sea, and it was. An amazing read. It was a brilliant read. I was captivated from beginning to end. So check it out. TJ clone the House in the Sierra Leonian Sea. It’s a fantasy slash romance book.
But it’s got philosophy in it. It’s got. It it talks it talks about inclusion, it talks about feeling like you’re the odd person out and you’re never gonna fit in. It’s just got everything. I just, I love that book. So that’s my latest read. Yeah. I also have been really getting into this, and this is more the the sci-fi.
part of me is I write soft sci-fi fantasy John Scalzi, like I just love his stuff. Yeah. And the interdependency series is just my best friend right now. Just I find for from Scalzi he’s one of these people that I like. I aim to write like him, like I wish I could be him.
He’s very unassuming. Like I find his writing to be really approachable and it’s an easy read. It’s What’s the word I’m looking for? It’s not pretentious, right? It’s just, he’s got swear words in it. He doesn’t use big words. It’s just like your best friend telling you what happened to him last night and and so I’m really, yeah, I’m really enjoying that.
He’s given me kind of permission to be myself and to have my own voice in the writing.
Stephen: And he wrote the red shirt’s book. Yes. Which is a little comedy ish, correct? Yeah. That’s been on my virtual book pile . I haven’t gotten to it yet, unfortunately.
Ran: Yeah, it’s really good. And then continue.
In terms of classics, . So I’m a Neil Gaiman fan which is probably not surprising. Oh yeah. But I don’t know if, I don’t know how many people have read this book. It’s my favorite of his, it’s called The Anazi Boys,
Stephen: and it’s yeah, the, it’s the kind of sequel to American gods.
Ran: Yes. Yeah.
Yeah. Sequel or prequel, I don’t know. But it takes, takes yeah. Takes him. Out and shows his backstory and it’s, it, I love it. Absolutely love it. It’s hilarious. And the
Stephen: audio. Yeah. I love
Ran: his writing. Yeah, the audio book is brilliant. Like the guy that reads is, it has amazing accent and voices and yeah it’s really awesome
Stephen: up there in the very cold North
Yeah. Are there any bookstores that you get to go.
Ran: So there is one that you like? Yeah, there’s there is one actually. And it’s two hours north of here, so it’s even more remote than I am.
Stephen: It just Is that by car or dog sled,
Ran: right? I think dog sled would actually be faster, to be honest.
Cause you could just drive, like you could just go right over the frozen lakes and more. The crow fly. But yeah, to know driving is about two hours away and it’s called SHA Noir. Black cat, basically c h a t n o i R. So they’re they’re. Website is oi books.ca and it’s my happy place.
Like it is my favorite place on earth cuz you walk in and it’s floor to ceiling books, board games, and fancy drinks. That’s. All I need. In the middle of it. They have a fireplace so you can sit all the way around the fireplace. They have board games that you can just take off the wall and try out before you buy.
So you can go with your hot chocolate and you play a board game and you’ve got your stack of books that you’re gonna buy on the way out n Seated Next to You. It’s, I love that place.
Stephen: Love it. That sounds great. If I ever make it up there, we’ll have to go visit. You
Ran: should. It’s worth it. I.
Stephen: I will definitely try.
All right. So hopefully we can catch back up with you in a year. I think this is really interesting and great that from the reader perspective, hearing about some books that are on the way and an author that is working on getting those out. It’s almost Pre-marketing to get people interested.
I I think that’d be great if we could follow up to see what the books are and the progress.
Ran: I would love
Stephen: that. Great. All right. I appreciate you taking some time to talk to us about your writing and your books. In the second half of the podcast, we’re gonna talk a little bit about mental health and writers.