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1. Blog Tour For WHEELS OF CHANGE

Tomorrow I begin the blog tour to help promote the release of my first book, a MG historical titled WHEELS OF CHANGE. I’m excited to be sharing the journey with all of you and hope you will visit some of the stops on the tour to learn about how the book came to be.  Here’s the schedule, and please send me your comments about your favorite post; I’d love to hear from you.  There will also be two opportunities to win a free autographed copy of WHEELS OF CHANGE at two stops on the tour.

8-19- Marriah Nissen:  http://www.divinesecretsofthewritingsisterhood.blogspot.com   and   http://www.therandombookreview.blogspot.com    Interview and Book review.

8-22- Yvonne Ventresca:  http://www.YvonneVentresca.com/blog.html    5 Things about the cover.

8-26- Roseanne Kurstedt   http://www.rlkurstedt.wordpress.com    How teachers might use the book.

8-29-  Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen  http://www.nerdychicksrule.com    Character and author Interview

9-2-  Gail Terp   http://www.gailterp.com      Q & A regarding literacy

9-8- Kathy Temean   http://www.writingandillustratingforchildren.wordpress.com  Fun facts about author and main character + book give-away.

9-9- Tricia Springstub  http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com   Book give-away

9-12-  Deb Marshall   http://www.readwritetell.com      Setting in historical fiction.

9-16-  Robin Newman   http://www.robinnewmanbooks.com     Author Interview

9-19-  Tara Lazar    http://www.taralazar.com   Popular toys and candies of the era.

9-22-  Tamera Wissinger   http://www.tamerawillwissinger.com    Essay post on authenticity in historical fiction.  (This is my actual Launch Party Day!)

9-23-  Holly Schindler    http://www.hollyschindler.blogspot.com    Sneak peek excerpt

9-26-  Natalie Zaman   http://www.nataliezaman.blogspot.com     WOC Acrostic poem

9-29-  Charlotte Bennardo    http://www.charlotteebennardo.blogspot.com/http://kidlitresiurces.wordpress.com/

10-3-  Jennifer Bardsley     http://www.teachingmybabytoread.com     Interview

10-6-  Irene Latham    http://www.irenelatham.blogspot.com   The delicious, the difficult, the unexpected.

10-7-  Kim McDougall     http://blog.castlelane.com      Character Interview

10-12-  Theresa Wallace-Pregent   http://www.booksalmagundi.wordpress.com     Questions

10-13-  Tamera Wissinger    http://smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com   Interview

10-17-  Bianca Schultz    http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com  Featured in My Writing and Reading Life Monthly Column

10-26-  Theresa Wallace Pregent   http://www.tmwallace.com     Interview post.   Final stop on the tour.

Hope you enjoy the tour!

 

 

 


4 Comments on Blog Tour For WHEELS OF CHANGE, last added: 8/20/2014
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2. Interview at Bartography: Video Games & Me

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Chris Barton, author of many excellent children’s books including that Peterson family favorite, Shark vs. Train, is celebrating the impending launch of his newest book, Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!, by interviewing other authors about their relationship with video games. Today it’s my turn. I had a blast (Asteroids reference, get it?) answering his questions. You know how I love me my games. :)

Excerpt:

CB: What games did you play the most when you were a kid? What did you love about them?

MW: We got an Atari 2600 when I was around 8th or 9th grade. I. LOVED. THAT. THING. Fave game: Adventure. The way the dragons curled up when you stabbed them! I went through a whole blissful nostalgia-binge not long ago, revisiting Adventure on a desktop version. It’s amazing the wave of feelings it conjures up. That exhilaration of discovery; the happy state of tension I love in a game.

Naturally I had to give a big shoutout to Glitch, the best game of all time (sniff).

silhouettetrill

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3. Interview With Award Winning Author Joanne Rocklin.

I first “met” Joanne Rocklin when she graciously read my manuscript for WHEELS OF CHANGE and provided a lovely blurb. As soon as I read one of her stories, I was hooked.  I couldn’t get enough of her heart-warming and delightful books. Her titles, THE FIVE LIVES OF OUR CAT ZOOK, and ONE DAY AND ONE AMAZING MORNING ON ORANGE STREET, capture the joys and sorrows of childhood with wonderful, unique characters and prose that wedges itself into your heart and takes hold. Her new book – FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY – (FLF) debuts this month, so I thought it would be great to feature her on this blog. First, here’s a description of FLF:

A story about a special girl, an inspiring book, and a brilliant (though unintentionally funny) flea.

From the publisher: This gem of a novel takes place in Pittsburgh in 1952. Franny Katzenback, while recovering from polio, reads and falls in love with the brand-new book Charlotte’s Web. Bored and lonely and yearning for a Charlotte of her own, Franny starts up a correspondence with an eloquent flea named Fleabrain who lives on her dog’s tail. While Franny struggles with physical therapy and feeling left out of her formerly active neighborhood life, Fleabrain is there to take her on adventures based on his extensive reading. It’s a touching, funny story set in the recent past, told with Rocklin’s signature wit and thoughtfulness.
Release Date: August, 2014
Amulet Books/Abrams ISBN 978-1-4197-1068-1    fleabrain cover

 
FIVE THINGS LEARNED WHILE WRITING MY MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY
My novel takes place in the 1950’s in Pittsburgh, during the worst polio epidemics of that era. Franny, my main character contracts the disease and can no longer walk. During her hospital stay she is introduced to the recently published Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and falls in love with the book, and, especially, the spider, Charlotte. She longs for a Charlotte of her own. Her wish is granted in the form of the brilliant Fleabrain, her dog’s flea.

1.
Much of what I learned while writing FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY were writing concepts I had to learn yet again, concepts that are integral to my own personal writing process. I usually begin with a phrase which arrives out of the blue. The phrase feels promising but doesn’t reveal much about the book I’m going to write. The phrase for this book was “you can stop seeking messages in spider webs.” This was Fleabrain’s first message to Franny, although I didn’t know it yet. I had to remember to just go with the phrase and wildly thrash about while I figure out what it means. I had to learn yet again, that for me, the rough draft is messy and chaotic but eventually leads to the story.

2.
Fleabrain provided Franny a necessary escape while she healed, as well as exciting adventures, affection, companionship and joy. He also taught her when it was time to face the real world. Fleabrain taught me, yet again, that humor will always be present in my books, no matter the seriousness of the subject matter, and that’s a good thing.

3.
Research is an ongoing process. I began reading about this particular era and began to get ideas about my character and her dilemma. I realized I had to set it in Pittsburgh because that’s where Dr. Jonas Salk did his important research on the polio vaccine, and I wanted to include a scientist in the story. But I was already deep into my story when I realized I would have to visit Pittsburgh and interview Pittsburghers who remembered that time. My research kept giving me ideas for scenes and themes for subsequent drafts.

4.
A surprising thing I learned while researching and writing this book was that many, many people knew very little about the polio epidemics. Some had never heard of an iron lung, or any of the treatment methods and medical advances associated with polio. Many were surprised to learn about the isolation and prejudice experienced by those stricken, and that most of the young people were required to attend special schools for “crippled” children. In addition, I myself learned that polio survivors were at the very forefront of the disability movement, agitating for many of the things we take for granted today (curb cuts, handicapped-accessible public places, etc.).

5.
And so, I learned yet again that the theme of my story will only become clear to me during the writing of the book itself, not before, and sometimes at the very end of the process. One of the important things that Franny learned is that it is not she who needs to be repaired by learning to walk again, but society itself, in accepting her.New picture book:

Joanne’s picture book:  I SAY SHEHECHYANU  will be out in January, 2015

Visit Joanne at: http://www.joannerocklin.com

 


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4. Interview With YA Author Yvonne Ventresca.

Today’s post comes from my writer friend Yvonne Ventresca whose debut YA novel PANDEMIC, hit bookstores in May.

BOOKLIST has this to say about Pandemic: 

Ventresca gives Lilianna a compulsive need to prep for disaster (a coping skill after her assault) and a father who works for a journal called Infectious Diseases. This ups the believability factor and helps the reader focus on the action and characters. As is to be expected in an apocalyptic novel, there is no shortage of tension or death and a few gruesomely dead bodies, but teen disaster fans will likely appreciate that the high schoolers are portrayed as good, helpful people, but certainly not perfect. This fast read will appeal to fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It  (2006), even though the type of apocalypse is different.”
After reading this engaging and suspenseful novel, I can certainly agree that it is, indeed, hard to put down.  Ventresca did a wonderful job of making me feel like I was part of the “going’s -on” and even checked my own pantry to see what kind of provisions I had on hand.  Here’s Yvonne:

Five Historical Facts I Learned While Researching a Contemporary Pandemic
By Yvonne Ventresca

My debut young adult novel, Pandemic, is a contemporary story about a teenager struggling to survive a deadly flu pandemic. Although it is set in present-day New Jersey (what would it be like if a pandemic hit suburbia tomorrow?), I spent a lot of time researching the Spanish Flu of 1918 while writing the book. Parts of my fictional disease are based on the historical influenza, and I was interested in finding out as much about it as possible.     ventresca pic 1

Here are five things I learned while researching Pandemic:

1.  The influenza pandemic of 1918 is commonly called the Spanish Flu, but it didn’t originate in Spain. In March of that year, known cases occurred among soldiers in Kansas. But in June, Spain informed the world of a new disease in Madrid, and the Spanish Flu was belatedly named as it spread worldwide.

2.  The Spanish flu had a different mortality pattern than previous flu outbreaks, with the highest death rates occurring in adults between the ages of twenty and fifty. The reasons for that pattern are still not entirely understood, but according to the US website Flu.gov, the 1918 virus “evolved directly from a bird flu into a human flu.”

3.  In a time before technology, colored ribbons were placed on doorways to indicate a death in the household. The color of the ribbon indicated the age range of the dead. White, for example, was used for children.       Pandemic cover

4.  In 1918, sanitation measures included wearing face masks, blow-torching water fountains, hosing down streets, and locking public phone booths. Despite these measures, the Spanish flu killed more Americans than all of World War I.

5.  Katherine Anne Porter’s short novel, Pale Horse, Pale Rider is set during the 1918 Influenza. It’s a work of fiction (published in 1939), but was no doubt influenced by Porter’s memories of the pandemic and her own illness. The tragic story provides a sense of the war, the disease, and the desperation of that time.

For resources about preparing for an emergency, visit yvonneventresca.com/resources.html.

For more information about the Spanish flu, refer to:

Emerging Epidemics: The Menace of New Infections by Madeline Drexler http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7444179-emerging-epidemics
The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29036.The_Great_Influenza
Influenza 1918: The Worst Epidemic in American History by Lynette Iezzoni http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/625882.Influenza_1918
“Pandemic Flu History” http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/index.html

Before becoming a children’s writer, Yvonne Ventresca wrote computer programs and taught others how to use technology. Now she happily spends her days writing stories instead of code and sharing technology tips with other writers. Yvonne’s the author of the young adult novel Pandemic, which was published in May from Sky Pony Press. She blogs for teen writers every Tuesday and for writers of all ages each Friday at http://www.yvonneventresca.com/blog.html.       Yvonne Ventresca Author Photo

To connect with Yvonne:
Website: http://www.yvonneventresca.com
Facebook Author http://www.facebook.com/yvonneventrescaauthor
Twitter twitter.com/YvonneVentresca
Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/317481.Yvonne_Ventresca
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/yvonneventresca


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5. Player Profile: K.T. Medina, author of White Crocodile

Katie Medina, author of White Crocodile Tell us about your latest creation: The name of this novel, my debut, is White Crocodile.White Crocodile is a thriller set in the land mine fields of northern Cambodia.  Teenaged mothers are disappearing from villages around the minefields, while others are being found mutilated and murdered, their babies abandoned.  And there are whispers about […]

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6. Lucas A. Dyer

As a US Marine, Lucas A. Dyer engaged in combat with the Taliban in Afghanistan’s heroin capital of Helmand. As a small unit leader and platoon commander leading Marines in battle, he fought terrorists and their allies on their home turf, witnessing unspeakable violence in the process. He and his fellow Marines realized that an eye for an eye would not accomplish their objectives so, relying on counterinsurgency operations, they began shaking hands one at a time and ultimately drove the Taliban away. Day by day and week by week, they proved that a small fighting force could work together with Afghans to become brothers-in-arms.

In his memoir, Lucas recalls the events of his time in Afghanistan, sharing true stories from the front lines of how his company was able to win their battles through handshakes.

Hi Lucas, please  tell everyone a little about yourself.

Lucas croppedLucas: I was born in Randolph, Vermont where I grew up a pretty normal life for being raised by a single mother of two. I was an athlete my whole life and achieved honors earning my way into a private school where I was a star hockey player. I then graduated heading off to college where I made a last minute decision in August of 2000 to join the United States Marine Corps and become an Infantry Marine. I deployed four times and served thirteen years on active duty and transferred to the reserves in the summer of 2013. I started writing professionally in 2012 where I was picked up by Jiu-Jitsu Magazine and wrote monthly articles on nutrition for the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)/Jiu-Jitsu community. My current book, A Battle Won by Handshakes, was a project I started in 2010 after returning from combat in Afghanistan. It was completed and published in June of 2014. It currently is the number 1 best seller iUniverse.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Lucas: I first got into writing in early 2010 when I started working on my recently published book A Battle Won by Handshakes. The genre is non-fiction/military/bio. Along the side of working on this book, I wrote weekly blogs on nutrition for athletes and later got picked up by a popular MMA magazine called Jiu-Jitsu Magazine. Jiu-Jitsu Magazine has become the second most sold magazine under UFC for MMA.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Lucas: When I got the idea to write this book, I wanted to finish it as soon as possible. I felt that that book should come out sooner than later so it would be relevant to the current war in Afghanistan at that time. However I realized that it wasn’t that easy. There were a lot of details and facts to check on. Names of places, people and events that I had to research to make sure I was correct on all accounts. I wanted it to be perfect so not to upset anyone by quoting someone incorrectly. After talking to several other authors, they all shared one final thought in common, to take my time and don’t rush. They told me to write a little, take a break, and to write some more, then take a break. It ended up being the best advice I had received.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

ABattleWonLucas: My recent book is titled A Battle Won by Handshakes and as of now it is a stand-alone. I do have ideas for another one to follow but I will keep them to myself. The book is about my experiences as a United States Marine fighting against the Taliban in Helmand Afghanistan. What was unique about this battle was that after a short period of time we realized that fighting the Taliban with weapons was a very challenging task so we utilized a tactic called counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. The idea was to get the Local Nationals on our side, and gain their trust. In turn they would help provide information free of fear instilled by the Taliban. Our unit was very successful in doing so and it makes for a great story. It gives amazing insight to what goes on in combat for those who have always wondered.

Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?

Lucas: Although I don’t really have characters so-to-speak. There are stories about Marines in this book that I feel have the reader cheering for them to survive. There were some close encounters with death and several of us were lucky at times. On the opposite end there are also some who were not so lucky and did not make it back. One in particular that has grabbed the hearts of many was one of my Marines Lance Corporal Donald Hogan who was killed August 26, 2009 protecting his Marines. His story is remarkable and has earned him the second highest medal under the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Lucas: I found it very helpful to write a little bit, then turn away for a week or so to collect my thoughts. It helped me feel more organized to write several pages, and then walk away. This technique was useful.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Lucas: The most influential aspect that helped my writing was being a Marine and having first-hand experience on the subject being written about. My upbringing only added to the drive and determination to be able to say “I am a published author”.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Lucas: The reviews are amazing. I have been blessed with so many fans. However the ones that really get to me are the ones from fellow Marines that I served with, who have had a hard time dealing with some of the losses on this deployment. When they tell me the book heals, or helps them, I really tear up. Here is a recent one:

So today I decided to open your book and it brought back a lot of emotions that I knew would resurface. It took me many years to accept what happened and I tried to live a better life for Swanson. As the pages started turning, an old life style, and brotherhood I miss so much came to life. I have not finished reading your book yet, and to be honest I don’t want the book to end. Your book has brought back many memories of the brotherhood I miss so much. I still have many memories of good times we have shared. I want to thank you for sharing your story. I hope all is we’ll and I look forward to seeing your book at #1. Semper Fi brother.

What are your current projects?

Lucas: I am currently working on a Sports Nutrition book for the MMA/Jiu-Jitsu athlete. I have a years’ worth of nutritional articles that I am slowly turning them into a nutritional guide.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Lucas: It can be purchased online at iUniverse, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Indigo book stores. I have copied the links in for easier assistance. Also my facebook page keeps everyone in the loop with what’s happening.
Facebook: A Battle Won by Handshakes The Story of Alpha Company
iUniverse: A Battle Won by Handshakes
Amazon: A Battle Won by Handshakes
Barnes and Noble: A Battle Won by Handshakes

Thanks for joining us today, Lucas.

Lucas: Thank you for your time.

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7. Player Profile: Michael Robotham, author of Life Or Death

bytonymott_545Michael Robotham, author of Life Or Death

Tell us about your latest creation:

 LIFE OR DEATH is a love story and a thriller and a story of redemption. It’s a standalone novel that introduces Audie Palmer, a man who has spent a decade in prison for armed robbery, but escapes the day before he’s due to be released. For ten years Audie  has been beaten, stabbed, throttled and threatened by prison guards, inmates and criminal gangs, who all want the answer to the same question – what happened to the money? But Audie isn’t running from trouble. Instead he’s trying to save a life more important than his own.

9780751552898Where are you from / where do you call home?:

My books might not be set in Australia, but I’m a home-grown boy. I was born in Casino, on northern NSW and grew up in Gundagai, where the dog sits on the tuckerbox. After living overseas for many years, home is now on Sydney’s northern beaches, where I write in what my daughter’s call, ‘Dad’s Cabana of Cruelty’.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

 I wanted to be an author from the age of 12, when I discovered Ray Bradbury and wrote him a letter via his New York publishers. Three months later, I came home from school and found a package on the kitchen table. It contained the four or five Bradbury titles that weren’t available in Australia, along with a letter from the great man
himself, saying how pleased he was to have a young reader on the far side of the world.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

That’s like asking me which is my favourite daughter! All my books are special to me, but the one that changed my life was the first one: THE SUSPECT, which caused a bidding war at the London Book Fair and allowed me to fulfil my dreams. The latest book LIFE OR DEATH is a story I’ve wanted to tell for twenty years, but didn’t think I had the skills until now.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

 As mentioned earlier – I write in the Cabana of Cruelty, a lovely outside space with wrap-around windows and a shingle roof, overlooking tropical gardens and a swimming pool. It is sometimes hard to conjure up the means streets when I’m looking at paradise.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

 I read very widely. Mainly fiction. Although I have my favourites like James Lee Burke, Daniel Woodrell and Dennis Lehane, I tend not to read much crime fiction, but I do have about a four books on the go at the one time, in different rooms of the house, as well as an audio book on my iPod.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

 The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury opened my imagination and transported me and frightened my pants off. Lord of the Rings was also special. I borrowed it so often from my school library the librarian banned me from taking it out again. So I took to hiding it in the library. She found out, but instead of punishing me, she gave me the book. It is battered, broken and taped together, but still has pride of place on my shelves because it is the first book that I ever truly ‘earned’.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. Nick calls himself ‘one of the few honest people that I have ever known’ and he prides himself on maintaining his standards in a corrupt, fast-moving world. He is a wonderful observer of people and events. He can see their flaws and foibles, but refuses to be overly critical. If I were Nick, maybe I could save Jay Gatsby from himself.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I’m so boring. When I’m not writing I’m reading. When I’m not reading I’m walking. And even when I’m walking I’m listening to a book. Peter Corris tells the story of bumping into David Malouf at a function and asking if he was writing just then,        ‘What else is there to do?’ he answered. That’s what it’s like for me…breathing.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

 I love a gin & tonic at the end of the writing day and a glass of wine with dinner. As for food, it has to be spicy whether it’s a curry, stir fry and homemade pizza.

Who is your hero? Why?:

 My heroes are those people who we never hear about. The parents who look after disabled children and the wives who escape from violent husbands and the teachers, nurses and volunteers who give back more to their communities than they ever receive

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

 I think the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading is for publishers, authors and booksellers to find a business model that works for everyone.  Heavy discounting by online sellers and self-published authors, is  suffocating bricks and mortar stores and prompting more and more readers who think a book should only
cost 99c or $2.99. On top of this we have the spectre of piracy and illegal file sharing that is becoming more widespread with digitalisation.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRobothamAU

Twitter: https://twitter.com/michaelrobotham

Website: www.michaelrobotham.com

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8. Player Profile: Alafair Burke, author of All Day And A Night

author photo centerAlafair Burke, author of All Day And A Night

Tell us about your latest creation:

ALL DAY AND A NIGHT

A murder case with ties to a convicted serial killer leads a young defense lawyer and an NYPD homicide detective into parallel investigations with explosive and deadly results in this superb mystery from “one of the finest young crime writers working today” (Dennis Lehane).

        The latest story dominating New York tabloids—the murder of Park Slope psychotherapist Helen Brunswick—couldn’t be further from Carrie Blank’s world handling federal appeals at one of Manhattan’s most elite law firms. But then a hardcharging celebrity trial lawyer calls Carrie with a case she can’t refuse. Anthony Amaro, a serial killer convicted twenty years earlier, has received an anonymous letter containing a chilling detail about Brunswick’s murder: the victim’s bones were broken after she was killed, the same signature used in the murders attributed to Amaro. Now Amaro is asking to be released from prison.

        Carrie has a reason to be interested. Her older sister, Donna, was one of Amaro’s victims. Determined to force the government to catch Donna’s real killer, Carrie joins Amaro’s wrongful conviction team with her own agenda. On the other side of Amaro’s case is NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher, who, along with her partner, J.J. Rogan, is tapped as the “fresh look” team to reassess the investigation that led to Amaro’s conviction. The case is personal for them, too: Ellie wonders whether they got the assignment because of her relationship with the lead prosecutor, and Rogan has his own reasons to distrust Amaro’s defense team.

        As the NYPD and Amaro’s lawyers search for certainty among conflicting evidence, their investigations take them back to Carrie’s hometown, where secrets buried long ago lead to a brutal attack—one that makes it terrifyingly clear that someone has gotten too close to the truth.

resized_9780571302314_224_297_FitSquareWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

New York City

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Some days I wanted to be a writer, but I also wanted to be an actress, pop star, hairdresser, and an eavesdropping switchboard operator (I watched a lot of old movies).  Turns out, I became a lawyer, working as a prosecutor for several years.  It was through my work as a prosecutor that I got an idea for a book.  That idea became my first novel, JUDGMENT CALLS (2003).

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I really like my new book, ALL DAY AND A NIGHT.  It bends genres, combining a police procedural, legal drama, and a psychological thriller into one novel.  It also allows two very strong female characters to share the canvas.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I can write just about anywhere.  I have a studio apartment that I use as a full-time office.  I get it nice and tidy once a year right after I finish a book and find some downtown.  Then it becomes increasingly cluttered until the next overhaul, but I always know where everything is.

My secondary office is a Mario Batali wine bar down the street called Otto. I find a quiet corner and write in the middle of the day.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read a ton of crime fiction.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

It’s hard to pick only one but I’ll say THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E.L. Konisburg.  Before Harry Potter ever heard of Hogwarts, Claudia and Jamie lived secretly in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  To this day, I can’t go to that amazing museum (where coincidentally my husband works) without nursing fantasies of sneaking in overnight.  I was also a big Encyclopedia Brown fan.  Oh, and Amelia Bedelia.  Mysteries and bad puns were the ultimate entertainment -
not much has changed for me thirty-five years later.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Nancy Drew.  I love to solve a mystery.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

 I’m crazy about my dogs and golf.  If only my dogs could play golf, that would be the perfect day.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

A good margarita with fresh lime juice, on the rocks with salt, is hard to beat.  I eat anything, but have a special compartment in my stomach for raw clams and oysters.

Who is your hero? Why?:

My husband.  He’s a good person in every way.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Making sure that people have access to a diverse selection of reading materials

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/alafairburkebooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alafairburke

Website: www.alafairburke.com

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9. Player Profile: Stav Sherez, author of Eleven Days

stav-sherezStav Sherez, author of Eleven Days

Tell us about your latest creation:

Eleven Days - 11 Days before Christmas and a small convent in West London is burning. When the detectives get there they find ten dead nuns and one unexplained body. The case stretches back to South American and the upsurge of Liberation Theology in the 1970s. I always wanted to write a locked room mystery and this was my attempt to do so. It’s also the closest to a cosy I’ve written (or am likely to write) :)

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

London / London.

9780571290536When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Always an author. Since the age of ten or so. I always loved books and read all the time. There never was any other possibility!

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I like all my books for different reasons. Eleven Days is the one where I’m most happy with the writing.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I have an office room which is quite bare. I face the wall not the window to avoid distractions. I keep it quite ordered otherwise the chaos clutters up my brain.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Crime fiction, of course. American literary fiction. Poetry.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I read a lot of the geopolitical thrillers that were very popular in the 1970s – Alistair Maclean, Frederick Forsyth, Wilbur Smith as well as Stephen King.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Always impossible to answer this as all my favourite literary characters have awful lives.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Mainly listen to music! Not that surprising, I know but it’s the only thing that allows my brain to switch off from narrative discourse.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Burgers and Coke.

Who is your hero? Why?:

William Burroughs – for showing that anything is permissible in the novel.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The many electronic distractions of our lives.

Website: www.stavsherez.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/stavsherez

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10. Interview With YA Author Conrad Wesselhoeft

First a synopsis of Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly:
Seventeen-year-old Arlo Santiago lives in a dusty corner of New Mexico where his two passions are riding dirt bikes and playing a video game called “Drone Pilot.” He’s so good at the game that the military hires him to fly real drones over Pakistan. However, Arlo is reeling emotionally from a violent death in his family. Will he take the military’s money and commit violence against a terrorist leader half a world away, or find another solution to his troubles? He’s got a lot of them, including a father who drinks, a sister with Huntington’s Disease, and a girlfriend who won’t let him run from his past.     Dirt bikes cover HMH

How did the idea for Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly originate?
It grew out of my interest in—and concern about—drone warfare, which offers today’s militaries “capability without vulnerability.” As Arlo’s dad says, “Capability without vulnerability! Where are the heroics in that?” I was interested in several themes. One was the idea that violence against the individual is, in fact, violence against society as a whole. Another focused on the importance of friendship and family in dealing with grief. A third was the tendency of technology to outpace human wisdom.
Tells us a bit more about the story.

Arlo’s mom was a victim of violence. His father, a laid-off newspaper editor, is a pacifist. The family desperately needs money to help Arlo’s younger sister, and Arlo is poised to become a major breadwinner. He joins the drone-missile program as an adventure, without considering the moral ramifications. But he grows increasingly troubled at the thought of the violence he might commit.

So the story raises moral questions for Arlo?
Yes, it hinges on the moral dilemma between what seems right at a universal human level—one that values all life—versus what would provide immediate help to Arlo and his struggling family. It’s the tension between what he wants to do and what he feels he should do.
Like Arlo’s dad, you worked in northeast New Mexico as a newspaper editor. Is the book autobiographical?
Only in small ways. For example, Arlo owns a scruffy standard poodle named El Guapo. I own a scruffy standard poodle named Django.

What path led you to writing novels for young adults?
Years ago, I met the acclaimed young-adult author Scott O’Dell (Island of the Blue Dolphins, Sing Down the Moon, and many more). I shared my literary dreams with him, and he urged me to start writing a novel immediately, not to concoct excuses or bog down in planning. That day is one of the most important of my life. It set me on the path to writing YA fiction.

Why do you write for young adults?
I thought it would be easier than writing for grownups. (Man, was I was wrong.) Also, I had three teenagers in my life. My son, in particular, liked to bring home a pack of “big-personality” buddies whose collective voice mixed confidence, arrogance, enthusiasm, laziness, courage, cowardice, cadence, and more. I’d be doing dishes or driving them somewhere and these boys would be handing me golden nuggets, so to speak. They became role models for “The Thicks” in my first book, Adios, Nirvana.

How would you describe your writing process?
Kurt Vonnegut divided all writers into two groups, “bashers” and “swoopers.” I’m a basher, a slow writer who tries to perfect each paragraph before moving to the next. (Swoopers are fast, yet a bit sloppy.) In the morning, I pour some coffee, and get to work. I bash and bash. Only when I’ve bashed all the bumps down to practically dust do I move to the next chapter. I wish I bashed less and swooped more. The best I can hope for is “swashing.”

What have you learned about yourself through the process of writing both Adios, Nirvana and Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways To Fly?

I’ve learned that metaphor can be good medicine. Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to deal directly with emotional pain. In writing fiction, I’m able to project my shadow onto the wall of a different cave and, in doing so, work through my issues. As the story unfolds, the characters and I journey toward greater self-understanding. It’s a roundabout process, but it works.

Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly is a novel that clearly provides hope for the future. How important do you think it is to have that note of hope in a novel for young adults?
Hope is extremely important. I choose themes that are important to me. Foremost among these are hope, healing, family, and friendship. These are themes I’d like my own children to embrace. Life can be hard and seem hopeless, so as a writer I choose to send out that “ripple of hope” on the chance it may be heard or felt, and so make a difference.

And finally, what advice would you give to teens struggling to break away from peer group-imposed identities and create a sense of self?
All of us are great people in the making. One doesn’t have to be rich, famous, brilliant, beautiful, or an outward success to be great. One of my favorite examples from fiction is the fisherman Santiago in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. (Trivial fact: I named my main character Arlo Santiago after Hemingway’s old man.) In the Hemingway book, Santiago starts out poor and ends up poorer. However, in the course of the story, he tests himself to the limit. We see his strength, courage, humility, nobility, and hopeful spirit. Each time we take a step closer to who we really are we get stronger. So my thought would be, if you can’t take big steps toward your goal now, take small ones. As with all goals (including writing YA fiction), time is your friend. So to teens who are struggling, I say be patient, practice, persevere, believe in yourself. Never give up.
the-rock-shot-cropped-half-size

Conrad Wesselhoeft worked as a tugboat hand in Singapore and Peace Corps Volunteer in Polynesia before embarking on a career in journalism. He has served on the editorial staffs of five newspapers, including The New York Times. He is the author of the young adult novels Adios, Nirvana (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) and Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly (Houghton Mifflin, 2014).

 

 

 

 


3 Comments on Interview With YA Author Conrad Wesselhoeft, last added: 7/7/2014
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11. Player Profile: Alan Baxter, author of Bound

alan-kirkAlan Baxter, author of Bound

Tell us about your latest creation:

Bound (The Alex Caine Series, Book 1)

Alex Caine, a fighter by trade, is drawn into a world he never knew existed— a world he wishes he’d never found.

Alex Caine is a martial artist fighting in illegal cage matches. His powerful secret weapon is an unnatural vision that allows him to see his opponents’ moves before they know their intentions themselves.

An enigmatic Englishman, Patrick Welby, approaches Alex after a fight andreveals, ‘I know your secret.’ Welby shows Alex how to unleash a breathtaking realm of magic and power, drawing him into a mind-bending adventure beyond his control. And control is something Alex values above all else.

A cursed grimoire binds Alex to Uthentia, a chaotic Fey godling, who leads him towards destruction and murder, an urge Alex finds harder and harder to resist. Befriended by Silhouette, a monstrous Kin beauty, Alex sets out to recover the only things that will free him – the shards of the Darak. But that powerful stone also has the potential to unleash a catastrophe which could mean the end of the world as we know it.

9780732299101Where are you from / where do you call home?:

 I was born and raised in Britain, then travelled the world, met a lovely Australian girl and we got married. Now I live on the beautiful south coast of New South Wales, about half an hour south of Wollongong.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

 I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I also wanted to be a marine biologist and a martial arts instructor. Two out of three ain’t bad (I’m not a marine biologist.)

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

 I would like to think my best work is yet to come. How’s that for an evasive answer?

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

 I have a home office that also doubles as the spare bedroom and it’s a study in ordered chaos. Honestly, I know where everything is. Almost. I think.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

 Everything. I’m a voracious reader. I love novels and short stories in all genres, but I tend to favour the dark fantasy and horror stuff the most, which is also mostly what I write.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

 It’s hard to say, but there is no question that Clive Barker’s “Cabal”, Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” books and the “Hellblazer” comic series (particularly the Jamie Delano and Garth Ennis runs) were massively influential on me

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Batman. As if you need to know why.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

 I teach kung fu (which is a job, rather than “spare time”, but also a lifelong passion), I play video games, walk the dog, look after my infant son and pay tribute in the form of sacrifice to the Dark Lord of the Western Nethers, upon whose whim the universe turns.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

 I love a good roast beef dinner, and I can’t ignore a good single malt scotch.

Who is your hero? Why?:

 I have many heroes, for many reasons. In truth, anyone who is true to themselves, just and fair, and follows their dreams with passion is a hero to me.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

 It sounds trite, but a single bloody ebook format would be good. ePub is almost ubiquitous, but Amazon do insist on mobi. Pushing to a single DRM-free format is something that needs to happen, but I don’t know if it will any time soon.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alan-Baxter/115972625096325

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/AlanBaxter

www.alanbaxteronline.com

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12. Author Interview with Christopher Greyson

Its Author Interview Thursday and I have some bad, good and great news.Christopher Greyson - Mystery Writer The bad news is that this will be the last Author Interview Thursday I do for a while. The good news is that I’ll be back in September with more awesome author interviews. The great news is that we have a very, very special guest on the hot seat whose going to close out this season in some style. Earlier this year at the London Book Fair, I had a chat with best-selling Cozy Mystery writer Stephanie Bond who assured me that one did not need to have a judicial, criminal or law enforcement background to write mystery books. If you can write a story she said, then you can write in any genre. This was very liberating for me as I’ve always liked Mystery/Crime thrillers but never felt I had the chops to execute. With Stephanie’s words ringing in my ears, I started devouring Mystery thrillers like an unemployed circus elephant at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Sometime in April, I came across this book – Girl Jacked while looking through the Mystery category on Amazon. The cover caught my eye and hinted at a story I wanted to know more about. I downloaded it and I wasn’t disappointed. That book now has more than 300 reviews on Amazon and you can read my review about it here. I just had to get to know the author behind it. I started following him on Twitter. Then I discovered him on Facebook and sent him a friend request which he accepted. The second book in his Jack Stratton Mystery series was recently in the Top 50 on the Amazon store. In the little time I’ve gotten to know him, I have been inspired by his generosity, humour and strong work ethic. I see big things on the horizon for him and I’m truly honoured he’s chosen to be my special guest today. Please buckle your seat belts for what’s going to be and epic ride and let’s welcome Christopher Greyson.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and something most people don’t know about Christopher Greyson? 

I have a bit of an eclectic background. I grew up watching old Elvis movies where Elvis was always 5 different things and a singer. I think I tried to emulate that. I have degrees in computer science and communications. I’m an actor, I have my own video production company, I’m a martial artist, and I’m a writer. I love learning new things.

As far as something most people don’t know about me… I fed a Siberian Tiger by hand. That was a really cool experience.

 

Tell us about the first time someone complemented you on something you had written? Girl Jacked

I actually just blogged about my first review! When I first published Girl Jacked, I was so excited waiting to get my first review, I kept checking Amazon using my phone. Finally, I saw that I had gotten my first review. I closed my eyes and prayed that it was a good one. With trembling hands, my fingers clutched my phone and I read:

 “This book is a quick read with characters that suck”

WHAT!?!? NO!!! I was so devastated I just stood there and read the words over and over again. “Characters that suck.” “SUCK.”

Well, I set my jaw, straightened up and decided to read the rest of the review. In any endeavor, you need to have thick skin and I was determined to read on and see what this person thought. I clicked on the review and saw the WHOLE review:

“This book is a quick read with characters that suck you in.”

WHAT!?!?!  My phone cut the sentence off. YEAH!!! SUCK YOU IN. The reviewer said SUCK YOU IN not just SUCK. YEAH!!!! Stupid smart phone!

Honestly, for a first review it was at first a kick in the head. I’m human. I hurt, bleed and cry. It’s funny how quickly I jumped on the oh-no-we’re-screwed train. I wanted to share the story to encourage you to not punch that ticket.

The other lesson I learned from my first review? God has a sense of humour… I laughed like crazy once I started breathing again and I laugh every time I think of it.

 

I have to say your book covers and titles are evocative and memorable. Can you tell us the process in creating your book covers and its place in the successful marketing of a book? Jacks are Wild

Well, my Mother is an Artist and being raised in that kind of environment, gave me a firm basis in a lot of different mediums. I used those skills and started a graphics company so designing the covers were an extension of that.

I approach covers from an artistic angle and my wife, who is also a writer, comes at them from the practical side— like can you read them. Together, we do a great job because you really need both. You need a cover that catches the eye but lets the reader know what you have to offer. I feel the cover is very important to the success of a book and if you keep those two things in mind, you can’t go wrong.

 

You have currently published three books in the ‘Jack Stratton’ series. Was it a conscious decision to write a series and what led you to do it? 

I didn’t start out with a series in mind. It all started with Jack. I come at writing from a story tellers perspective. I start with the character, Jack. Who is he? It seems like such a simple question but it’s not. No one is simple. Everyone is complex and that is what makes each and every person special and have their own story. I don’t look at it like creating Jack’s story. I’m retelling it. I pictured Jack. I knew I wanted him to be a cop and a soldier. From there his history just took off. The troubled childhood, Aunt Haddie’s etc… Once his back-story was done, I set him down in his apartment and just watched what happened. It’s the reason I love writing this series. Jack and Replacement just pop for me. Once I put them in the situation, I sit back and write about HOW they react.

 

What key ingredients should a good crime/mystery book possess? Young Christopher Greyson

LOVE. You need to care about any story. If you don’t care about something it means nothing to you. That’s why I want people to LOVE the characters. I want you to LOVE Michelle and desperately want to find her too. I want people to LOVE Replacement and if I do that… then you care about the crime. If you love Jack, you’ll die if you don’t find out the mystery. (I might have taken that a little too far with the ‘die’ but you get my point.)

On top of that, sprinkle: A dash of Humour, a pinch of Romance, add a cup of Action and bake at 750 degrees and serve smoking hot!

 

I think one of the major factors that makes your books such a success is the dialogue. What in your opinion makes great dialogue?

People will tell you to only include dialogue that is pertinent to the story and cut everything else out and I say pfffftttt. (That’s the universal sound of a raspberry!) Do you know what you get when you cut all of the fat off of a nice cut of beef? A dry hunk of meat. Fat adds juices to the steak. Pour on the butter and keep it real!

Again I come from an actor’s background so I just try to keep it real. What do people really say? How do they sound? If you don’t know, go listen to people! Really listen. Care for them. Put yourself in their shoes.

 

What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue?

  1. Writing for writing’s sake! – Don’t try to fill your word count or add some plot point. Focus on the character.
  2. Not saying it out loud. – Does anyone talk like that? Put it through the sound test? Have someone else say it.
  3. Not acting it out. – Pretend. Be the character for a minute. Go into the closet and shout – scream – cry – be flat – be full but be!

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why? Christopher Greyson and His Chevy Impala

The Seven Samurai. I don’t speak Japanese but dialogue isn’t just the spoken word. It’s communication. Faces. Gestures. Everything. On top of that, Toshiro Mifune just rocks.

 

What have you found to be a great way to market your books in such a competitive genre filled with established and well-known authors? 

Write more books. Seriously. I had Girl Jacked and it was very, very hard to get out there. The more books you have, the more flags you can raise.

Say ‘hi!’ There are so many writers out there! You aren’t alone. Connect. Go to Goodreads. Check out blogs. Konrath and Howey have some wonderful resources. Will Wilson of the Indie Book Show is another great resource. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/indiebooks.

 

Breaking Bad or Homeland? 

Breaking Bad.

 

The next book in the Jack Stratton series is titled ‘Jack the Giant Slayer.’ Can you tell us a bit about what happens in this episode? Jack Knifed by Christopher gREYSON

Replacement finds these three magic beans… Just kidding! Actually, we pick up only a couple of months after Jacks are Wild. Jack is no longer on the police force and that’s a challenge for him. Another adjustment is with his and Replacement’s relationship. They are living together, in separate bedrooms, but now they’re dating. As with anything to do with Replacement—it gets complicated.

Added into that mix is a new case. Replacement gets involved in finding the owner of a lost dog. You’ll also get to learn about Replacement’s back story but I better slow down…. 

 

What should a first time visitor to your home town do? 

Run! Sorry, I’m kidding. I grew up in a wonderful town on the New England coast. The first place they should go is World’s End. Mostly because of the name. It sounds like a place where there is an adventure just waiting to happen!

 

How can readers connect with you? 

www.ChristopherGreyson.Com.  I plan in the next coming months to add free content including side stories and vignettes involving the characters from the series. On my website, you can sign-up for my mailing list and receive periodic updates and new book release dates.

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?Christopher Greyson 

Keep at it and don’t listen to anyone! That’s a hard one. I’m a firm believer in advice and counsel but everyone needs to make up their own mind. A wise man listens to counsel but there are a lot of people who will try to drag you down. Their reasons can be different. I have met some real jerks who just want to knock you down because they’re jerks but sometimes, well meaning people can pull you under too.

So… fight. Listen to people but not too much! Elvis was told he couldn’t sing. There was a review of “The Wizard of OZ” that called it a ‘cute little film with no lasting power!’ HA! HA! 

Fight. Pray. Fight some more. Dare to dream and dream BIG!

 

Thanks for being with us today Chris. That was such a wonderful way to end the interview. If there’s one thing I truly grasp from listening to you, it’s that your success has been no fluke. You’ve worked hard to get where you’re at and I know big things are coming your way. Chris and I would love to hear any questions or comments you may have. I’d also encourage everyone to hop on to Chris’ website at www.ChristopherGreyson.Com and sign up to his newsletter. You can grab a copy of one or all of Chris’ books by clicking the link below

Christopher Greyson books on Amazon

2 Comments on Author Interview with Christopher Greyson, last added: 6/27/2014
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13. Player Profile: Chris Ewan, author of Dead Line

AuthorPic-380x570Chris Ewan, author of Dead Line

Tell us about your latest creation:

My latest book is Dead Line. It’s a noir kidnap thriller set in Marseilles, with a twist — the hostage negotiator at the heart of the story is concealing a dark secret of his own.

Daniel Trent’s fiancée, Aimee, has gone missing without a trace, and Trent does everything he can to find her. He suspects that shady businessman Jerome Moreau has something to do with her disappearance, and he plans to abduct and interrogate him. But before he has chance, Moreau is kidnapped, and now Trent must get him back quickly — and alive — before time runs out.

9780571287987 (1)Where are you from / where do you call home?:

 I’m from Taunton, England originally, but I’ve lived on the Isle of Man for the past ten years. If you’ve never been to the Isle of Man, think of somewhere small and windy in the middle of the Irish Sea. Then add motorbikes.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

 I wanted to be a chef, which was pretty dumb, as I’m not a great cook. Then I wanted to be a travel writer, which explains why a lot of my books end up set in exotic locales. And the Isle of Man.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

 I think there’s probably some kind of law that says I have to tell you that my most recent book is my best, but in the case of Dead Line, I think it’s probably true. It’s definitely the novel that’s turned out to be closest to the book I had in mind when I started to write it. And I really fell in love with the city of Marseilles. It’s the perfect setting for a thriller.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I usually write in a small study carved out of the eaves in the attic of our Victorian terraced house. Just at the moment, though, I’m on vacation in Switzerland (where part of my new book will be set) and I’m writing with a spectacular view of Lake Brienz.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

 I mostly read crime fiction. Any list I give you is going to be woefully incomplete, but some of my favourite contemporary writers include Laura Lippman, Megan Abbott, Stav Sherez, Helen Fitzgerald, Ann Cleeves and Harlan Coben.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

 Ian Serraillier’s The Silver Sword, Michelle Magorian’s Goodnight Mister Tom, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Plus The Secret Seven, The Famous Five, The Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes and many more.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Tom Ripley, without the psychosis and the murder habit. Take those out of the equation, and I reckon he had a pretty neat lifestyle.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

 I’ve just taken up running. So far, I suck at running, but I live in hope.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Maybe not my all-time favourite food but I’m partial to the Manx national dish – chips, cheese and gravy. It tastes better than it sounds.

My favourite drink has to be coffee. I couldn’t write without it.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Raymond Chandler. Reading ‘The Long Goodbye’ for the first time made me fall in love with crime fiction, and every time I go back to it, I fall headlong under its spell all over again.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

 I’ve just finished a stint working as a writer in residence in Isle of Man schools and I’m stunned and dismayed by how few kids are reading for pleasure. There are challenges everywhere, but it seems to me that getting the next generation of potential readers to engage with books is one of the biggest.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/chrisewanauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chrisewan

Website: www.chrisewan.com

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14. Author Interview with Crime Writer Tim Ellis

It’s Author Interview Thursday…Woohoo! Now I have to admit that I have been looking forward to today’s interview for months.Tim Ellis First of all, I got introduced to today’s special guest by Matt Posner who surely most have an underground lair where some very creative beings congregate to sip on their favourite beverages and exchange ideas. Our guest on the hot seat made a worthy contribution on Matt’s book ‘How to Write Dialogue.’ What I found intriguing was the fact that our special guest comes from my neck of the woods here in England and also writes in a genre I’m currently feasting on – Mystery/Crime Thrillers. His Richards & Parish series are selling very well on Amazon UK and the first book in the series (which I’ve read and you can see My A Life for a Life Review) has more than 200 glowing reviews. He was Amazon KDP’s special guest at their stand at the London Book Fair 2014 and it’s such a shame I didn’t meet him because I was there too! Well, we all get to meet him today. I believe his experience and forthrightness will flush out any cobwebs holding you back and give you wings to soar to another level. Without further ado, please join me in welcoming the one and only Tim Ellis.

 

Can you tell us about the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?

In the early days – 2008–2011 – as well as writing novels, I also wrote short stories, which I entered into competitions. My first success was with ‘The Expedition’ (included in my short story collection – Untended Treasures) for the Wind in the Willows centenary run by the River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames. I was awarded 3rd prize, and was invited to the Museum for the presentation. I took my wife and we had a lovely day out. Certainly, 3rd prize is a complement, and it made me feel as though I was shuffling in the right direction.

 

You’ve successfully written in different genres. Can you tell us the advantages and disadvantages of this? 

I don’t know whether there are any advantages or disadvantages to writing in different genres. Some people suggest that the readers will become confused about what type of writer I am. I think we have to give readers some credit for understanding that some writers – like myself – are multi-genre writers as well as readers. I particularly like The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov (Science Fiction); Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (Fantasy); The Emperor series by Conn Iggulden (Historical Fiction) to name a few. Sometimes, readers who have enjoyed my writing in one genre will try my books in another genre, so that’s a distinct advantage to both the reader and myself. I did think of using a pseudonym, but life’s complicated enough without having multiple personalities.

 

I have to say your book covers are very evocative and can be noticed a mile off. Can you tell us the process in creating your book covers and its place in the successful marketing of a book? A Life for a Life Cover

Someone mentioned not too long ago that the font I used on my covers wasn’t very good. After I’d picked myself up off the floor and penned a strong letter of complaint, I decided they were right. In fact, I realised that the covers themselves weren’t much good either. I did plan to get someone else to design the covers for me, but I felt that designing my own covers was part of the creative process – I usually have to have a title and a cover before I start writing.

Anyway, I did plenty of research and re-designed them all myself. I found a font that I particularly liked, then I discovered a site which allows the free use of photographs. I download the pictures, crop them to the correct size in Paint (free with Windows), modify them to my liking and add my name, title and anything else in Picasa (the free photo-editing software by Google), and hey presto – eBook covers.

 

You have multiple published books in the ‘Richard and Parish’ series. Was it a conscious decision to write a series and what led you to do it?

On the downwards slope of the 13th Parish and Richards book now: In the Twinkling of an Eye. Yes, it was a conscious decision. I suppose, what led me to do it, was because I like to read series myself such as, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and RD Wingfield’s Frost series. In fact, the majority of my books are series. The only standalones are the novellas, but I always leave the door open to make them into a series if the opportunity arises.

 

What key ingredients should a good crime/mystery book possess? The Wages of Sin

I think there’s lots of advice out there about the ingredients of a good crime/mystery novel – a seemingly unsolvable crime, a likeable protagonist(s) faced with apparently insurmountable obstacles, a depraved villain of the worst kind, lashings of danger and tension as the protagonist(s) moves ever closer to solving the crime(s) and confronting the villain. Let me tell you what I think. Yes, include all of that, but you have to hook the reader with the first sentence. I start my latest with a question: “What’s that?” Richards has bought something from a stall at the car boot sale, but she’s not telling Parish what it is – a minor mystery at the beginning that mushrooms into an ongoing thread and a bigger mystery. I like to write multiple threads running in parallel throughout the book – readers get two, three or four investigations instead of one. I write in scenes, making sure they’re lean and mean. I like to see lots of white space – dialogue. Whole blocks of text turns people off – they turn me off, so why inflict them on others. Keep description to a minimum – readers like to use their imaginations. Cut out the boring bits that people skim over and keep moving the story forward with dialogue and action.

 

You made a worthy contribution on Matt Posner’s ‘How to Write Dialogue‘ book. What in your opinion makes great dialogue?

Dialogue is important. My books are dialogue heavy. Stories are about people. The reader wants to immerse themselves in a story, root for believable characters and not be bothered by authorial interference. Keep focused on the characters, give them voices that the reader can associate with each character, make it flow – abbreviate where necessary. Gurus say: “Listen to people talk.” I don’t think that’s helpful really, unless you’re trying to get dialect right, which should be kept to a minimum because it makes for hard reading. Other gurus say: “Read aloud.” Yeah, all right, if you must, but I can hear the characters speaking the dialogue I’m writing in my head. I don’t hear Parish saying: “What is that?” I hear him say: “What’s that?” So, my advice, is to write what the characters are saying in your head – or maybe it’s just me hearing voices! “Aye, what’s that?”

 

What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue? Silent in the Grave

I’ve already mentioned dialect. Sometimes it can be funny though – I use dialect in a couple of my books, but make sure readers can understand it, or they’ll give up very quickly. Second, don’t use adverbs to qualify speech tags – he said loudly. Related to this, I’m a great believer in a picture telling a thousand words. Use body language or actions to convey a character’s behaviour.

 

Have you ever struggled to give a character a distinct voice and what did you do to solve this?

I must admit, I don’t struggle much nowadays. After having written so many books, writing is second nature. I don’t get writer’s block, I’m never stuck for ideas and I always enjoy sitting down to write. As I said earlier, I see and hear the characters inside my head like a roll of film that I can stop, pause or rewind when I want. I think I’ve got the knack of creating memorable characters by now, and giving them a distinct voice and personality.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?

Conn Iggulden writes good dialogue (No he didn’t pay me to say that). When I go in a book shop (if I can one these days), I read the blurb on the back, and I riffle through the pages to see if there’s loads of dialogue. If there’s chunks of text, I don’t bother. RJ Ellory is another who writes good dialogue, you can tell he’s thought about what his characters will say. As for films – Lord of the Rings, of course; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Jack Nicholson is brilliant with Nurse Ratchett. What a name – Nurse Ratchett for a psychiatric nurse! It make you want to re-name all your evil characters with names from a toolbox.

 

Your first book ‘WARRIOR: PATH OF DESTINY (GENGHIS KHAN)’ was published in November 2010 and you’ve gone on to write more than 30 books. Can you recommend a book or course that gave you a good grounding as you began your writing odyssey?  

Tim Ellis Enjoying a Pint

I started writing, and then I read the instructions on how to write. I suppose men have this inability to admit that sometimes they know nothing. There were four triggers early on. 1) After reading the Emperor series by Conn Iggulden I thought: I can do that. Reading those books were a joy. Through his writing, he made reading effortless; 2) Les Edgerton’s book: Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers on Page One and Never Lets Them Go; 3) Elements of Fiction Writing: Scene & Structure by Jack Bickham; and 4) the peer review site: youwriteon.com, which is free to join and you learn through peer reviews, how to write, what works and what doesn’t.

 

If you could be a cabinet minister in the Government, which Ministry would you like to head and why?

Sad to say, politics doesn’t interest me. In fact, talking about politicians makes me want to kill a few off. As a nation – we’ve become too nice, and in the process lost some of our Englishness. If there isn’t a Ministry of Englishness already, they should create one and re-establish a national pride.

 

Can you tell us a bit about a book you’re currently working on? In the Twinkling of an Eye

In the Twinkling of an Eye (Parish & Richards 13). Parish and Richards are trying to solve the case of a gifted boy murdered on the fourteenth green at the local golf course; Richards is also trying to find out if a 1966 diary, written by a captive 15 year-old girl called Loveday that she bought at a car boot sale, is genuine; Stick and Xena are working to solve the case of a young woman’s thawing body found in a wood. Jerry Kowalski is back, and she becomes involved in the trial of an architect who is accused of murdering his wife. His barrister is going to get him acquitted, but Jerry has seen something in his eyes and she knows he’s guilty, so she calls Cookie.

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

As the saying goes – just do it. If you’ve got a book gathering dust on your hard drive – publish it. Create a cover, write a blurb, upload it to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) – it couldn’t be easier. Agents and publishers are no longer the gatekeepers who say what can and can’t be published, and what readers can and can’t read. Now, we’re all masters of our own destiny. If your book is no good, the readers will soon let you know, so make sure it’s the best it can be.

 

Thanks for spending time with us today Tim. There is just such a wealth of information you’ve shared today that I know will be beneficial to readers of this blog. I’ve gone ahead and added the books you recommended to my Amazon basket. Can’t wait to devour them. Tim and I would love to hear your questions and comments. As you can see, Tim is very generous and it’d mean a lot to hear what part of the interview really resonated with you. I’m also happy to announce that Tim’s latest book – got released earlier this week. You can grab it and all Tim’s books plus connect with him at one of the links below

Websitehttp://timellis.weebly.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Tim-Ellis

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/timellis13

AmazonTim Ellis Books on Amazon

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15. Author Interview with Crime Writer Tim Ellis

It’s Author Interview Thursday…Woohoo! Now I have to admit that I have been looking forward to today’s interview for months.Tim Ellis First of all, I got introduced to today’s special guest by Matt Posner who surely most have an underground lair where some very creative beings congregate to sip on their favourite beverages and exchange ideas. Our guest on the hot seat made a worthy contribution on Matt’s book ‘How to Write Dialogue.’ What I found intriguing was the fact that our special guest comes from my neck of the woods here in England and also writes in a genre I’m currently feasting on – Mystery/Crime Thrillers. His Richards & Parish series are selling very well on Amazon UK and the first book in the series (which I’ve read and you can see My A Life for a Life Review) has more than 200 glowing reviews. He was Amazon KDP’s special guest at their stand at the London Book Fair 2014 and it’s such a shame I didn’t meet him because I was there too! Well, we all get to meet him today. I believe his experience and forthrightness will flush out any cobwebs holding you back and give you wings to soar to another level. Without further ado, please join me in welcoming the one and only Tim Ellis.

 

Can you tell us about the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?

In the early days – 2008–2011 – as well as writing novels, I also wrote short stories, which I entered into competitions. My first success was with ‘The Expedition’ (included in my short story collection – Untended Treasures) for the Wind in the Willows centenary run by the River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames. I was awarded 3rd prize, and was invited to the Museum for the presentation. I took my wife and we had a lovely day out. Certainly, 3rd prize is a complement, and it made me feel as though I was shuffling in the right direction.

 

You’ve successfully written in different genres. Can you tell us the advantages and disadvantages of this? 

I don’t know whether there are any advantages or disadvantages to writing in different genres. Some people suggest that the readers will become confused about what type of writer I am. I think we have to give readers some credit for understanding that some writers – like myself – are multi-genre writers as well as readers. I particularly like The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov (Science Fiction); Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (Fantasy); The Emperor series by Conn Iggulden (Historical Fiction) to name a few. Sometimes, readers who have enjoyed my writing in one genre will try my books in another genre, so that’s a distinct advantage to both the reader and myself. I did think of using a pseudonym, but life’s complicated enough without having multiple personalities.

 

I have to say your book covers are very evocative and can be noticed a mile off. Can you tell us the process in creating your book covers and its place in the successful marketing of a book? A Life for a Life Cover

Someone mentioned not too long ago that the font I used on my covers wasn’t very good. After I’d picked myself up off the floor and penned a strong letter of complaint, I decided they were right. In fact, I realised that the covers themselves weren’t much good either. I did plan to get someone else to design the covers for me, but I felt that designing my own covers was part of the creative process – I usually have to have a title and a cover before I start writing.

Anyway, I did plenty of research and re-designed them all myself. I found a font that I particularly liked, then I discovered a site which allows the free use of photographs. I download the pictures, crop them to the correct size in Paint (free with Windows), modify them to my liking and add my name, title and anything else in Picasa (the free photo-editing software by Google), and hey presto – eBook covers.

 

You have multiple published books in the ‘Richard and Parish’ series. Was it a conscious decision to write a series and what led you to do it?

On the downwards slope of the 13th Parish and Richards book now: In the Twinkling of an Eye. Yes, it was a conscious decision. I suppose, what led me to do it, was because I like to read series myself such as, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and RD Wingfield’s Frost series. In fact, the majority of my books are series. The only standalones are the novellas, but I always leave the door open to make them into a series if the opportunity arises.

 

What key ingredients should a good crime/mystery book possess? The Wages of Sin

I think there’s lots of advice out there about the ingredients of a good crime/mystery novel – a seemingly unsolvable crime, a likeable protagonist(s) faced with apparently insurmountable obstacles, a depraved villain of the worst kind, lashings of danger and tension as the protagonist(s) moves ever closer to solving the crime(s) and confronting the villain. Let me tell you what I think. Yes, include all of that, but you have to hook the reader with the first sentence. I start my latest with a question: “What’s that?” Richards has bought something from a stall at the car boot sale, but she’s not telling Parish what it is – a minor mystery at the beginning that mushrooms into an ongoing thread and a bigger mystery. I like to write multiple threads running in parallel throughout the book – readers get two, three or four investigations instead of one. I write in scenes, making sure they’re lean and mean. I like to see lots of white space – dialogue. Whole blocks of text turns people off – they turn me off, so why inflict them on others. Keep description to a minimum – readers like to use their imaginations. Cut out the boring bits that people skim over and keep moving the story forward with dialogue and action.

 

You made a worthy contribution on Matt Posner’s ‘How to Write Dialogue‘ book. What in your opinion makes great dialogue?

Dialogue is important. My books are dialogue heavy. Stories are about people. The reader wants to immerse themselves in a story, root for believable characters and not be bothered by authorial interference. Keep focused on the characters, give them voices that the reader can associate with each character, make it flow – abbreviate where necessary. Gurus say: “Listen to people talk.” I don’t think that’s helpful really, unless you’re trying to get dialect right, which should be kept to a minimum because it makes for hard reading. Other gurus say: “Read aloud.” Yeah, all right, if you must, but I can hear the characters speaking the dialogue I’m writing in my head. I don’t hear Parish saying: “What is that?” I hear him say: “What’s that?” So, my advice, is to write what the characters are saying in your head – or maybe it’s just me hearing voices! “Aye, what’s that?”

 

What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue? Silent in the Grave

I’ve already mentioned dialect. Sometimes it can be funny though – I use dialect in a couple of my books, but make sure readers can understand it, or they’ll give up very quickly. Second, don’t use adverbs to qualify speech tags – he said loudly. Related to this, I’m a great believer in a picture telling a thousand words. Use body language or actions to convey a character’s behaviour.

 

Have you ever struggled to give a character a distinct voice and what did you do to solve this?

I must admit, I don’t struggle much nowadays. After having written so many books, writing is second nature. I don’t get writer’s block, I’m never stuck for ideas and I always enjoy sitting down to write. As I said earlier, I see and hear the characters inside my head like a roll of film that I can stop, pause or rewind when I want. I think I’ve got the knack of creating memorable characters by now, and giving them a distinct voice and personality.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?

Conn Iggulden writes good dialogue (No he didn’t pay me to say that). When I go in a book shop (if I can one these days), I read the blurb on the back, and I riffle through the pages to see if there’s loads of dialogue. If there’s chunks of text, I don’t bother. RJ Ellory is another who writes good dialogue, you can tell he’s thought about what his characters will say. As for films – Lord of the Rings, of course; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Jack Nicholson is brilliant with Nurse Ratchett. What a name – Nurse Ratchett for a psychiatric nurse! It make you want to re-name all your evil characters with names from a toolbox.

 

Your first book ‘WARRIOR: PATH OF DESTINY (GENGHIS KHAN)’ was published in November 2010 and you’ve gone on to write more than 30 books. Can you recommend a book or course that gave you a good grounding as you began your writing odyssey?  

Tim Ellis Enjoying a Pint

I started writing, and then I read the instructions on how to write. I suppose men have this inability to admit that sometimes they know nothing. There were four triggers early on. 1) After reading the Emperor series by Conn Iggulden I thought: I can do that. Reading those books were a joy. Through his writing, he made reading effortless; 2) Les Edgerton’s book: Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers on Page One and Never Lets Them Go; 3) Elements of Fiction Writing: Scene & Structure by Jack Bickham; and 4) the peer review site: youwriteon.com, which is free to join and you learn through peer reviews, how to write, what works and what doesn’t.

 

If you could be a cabinet minister in the Government, which Ministry would you like to head and why?

Sad to say, politics doesn’t interest me. In fact, talking about politicians makes me want to kill a few off. As a nation – we’ve become too nice, and in the process lost some of our Englishness. If there isn’t a Ministry of Englishness already, they should create one and re-establish a national pride.

 

Can you tell us a bit about a book you’re currently working on? In the Twinkling of an Eye

In the Twinkling of an Eye (Parish & Richards 13). Parish and Richards are trying to solve the case of a gifted boy murdered on the fourteenth green at the local golf course; Richards is also trying to find out if a 1966 diary, written by a captive 15 year-old girl called Loveday that she bought at a car boot sale, is genuine; Stick and Xena are working to solve the case of a young woman’s thawing body found in a wood. Jerry Kowalski is back, and she becomes involved in the trial of an architect who is accused of murdering his wife. His barrister is going to get him acquitted, but Jerry has seen something in his eyes and she knows he’s guilty, so she calls Cookie.

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

As the saying goes – just do it. If you’ve got a book gathering dust on your hard drive – publish it. Create a cover, write a blurb, upload it to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) – it couldn’t be easier. Agents and publishers are no longer the gatekeepers who say what can and can’t be published, and what readers can and can’t read. Now, we’re all masters of our own destiny. If your book is no good, the readers will soon let you know, so make sure it’s the best it can be.

 

Thanks for spending time with us today Tim. There is just such a wealth of information you’ve shared today that I know will be beneficial to readers of this blog. I’ve gone ahead and added the books you recommended to my Amazon basket. Can’t wait to devour them. Tim and I would love to hear your questions and comments. As you can see, Tim is very generous and it’d mean a lot to hear what part of the interview really resonated with you. I’m also happy to announce that Tim’s latest book – got released earlier this week. You can grab it and all Tim’s books plus connect with him at one of the links below

Websitehttp://timellis.weebly.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Tim-Ellis

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/timellis13

AmazonTim Ellis Books on Amazon

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16. Interview with K. Madill, Author of The Stolen Herd

Karai MadillKarai Madill is a Canadian writer who lives in a wooden house not far from swiftly flowing river. Every now and then a bear comes along and steals her garbage.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend, she can be found roller skating around in circles or planting butterfly friendly gardens. The Stolen Herd is her first novel.

For more K. Madill, visit her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088 or blog: http://kmadill.com/

Thank you for joining us today, Karai. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I am a true Canadian and it’s true what they say about us. We’re overly polite. We apologize for apologizing. I have to be near my creature friends as much as possible. I have to visit a forest as least once a week. I will always ditch everyone and everything to write.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug? 

I think it’s more the storytelling bug.  My mother is an avid reader and our house had a library in the den, full of fantasy novels. I wrote my first story when I was six years old, according to her, about a unicorn named Me. I don’t remember that one.  I do recall penning a tale that ended up in the school paper though. That one starred a miniature lion that led me to a room full of candy! Ha – animals and mythical creatures. There’s a pattern here, I think.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

You know…I don’t think I actually consciously decided.  I just began the Mandamus and Luco series and it just sort of ended up in that category.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

I think my favorite part is having animals as characters. I adore Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and Charlotte’s Web. I graduated to Animal Farm in my later years, and realized that while the first two were magical in their story telling, the way Orwell used animal characters to express a political message was equally as brilliant. For my books, I get to write scenes with people having conversations and arguments with animals. It’s a blast! I’m also a firm believer that stories need mythical creatures. With an eclectic cast of characters like that you can create all different kinds of scenarios. I think the biggest difficulty is keeping it short and sweet to hold a younger reader’s attention. I idolize the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. I enjoy page after page of descriptive narrative. I also like to write them, much to the chagrin of my editor. She cut a lot out of the original manuscript for this very reason.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

The Stolen Herd is about a foal who is orphaned when his herd is captured by an army. He is found and raised by a mare and her rather ferocious sister. When he’s a bit older, he finds himself in deep trouble, so deep he is sent into temporary exile from his herd. He goes on an adventure and meets all sorts of beings from terrible imps to forgetful naiads.

What inspired you to write it?Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]

I saw a news article about a school that was busted up by the Taliban, just wiped out. It terrified me.  As I sat there, feeling immeasurably sad, this black horse with glowing, white eyes just popped into my head. He looked so worried. For the rest of the day, his story came in a flood of ideas. I wrote them down when I got home that evening.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

www.amazon.ca/Stolen-Herd-Mandamus-Luco-Book-ebook/dp/BOOGBQ9V80

What is up next for you?

The second book in the series. The planning is almost finished. Some of the writing has already begun. The storyboard is full and the creativity is overflowing. I love being able to work on new material. The Stolen Herd took six years. Towards the end I felt stagnated with the whole thing and I was trying to meet a deadline so I was doing re-writes to the edited version for up to 10 hours a day. I almost began to hate it.

Do you have anything else to add?

I do! I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read The Stolen Herd and messaged me or emailed me. Your encouragement is truly appreciated.  If you liked this one, you’re going to love the 2nd book!

Thank you for spending time with us today, Karai. We wish you much success.

Thank you for having me.

 

The Stolen Herd Banner


3 Comments on Interview with K. Madill, Author of The Stolen Herd, last added: 6/3/2014
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17. Interview with Stephanie Ward, Author of Wally, The Warm-Weather Penguin

Steph ProfileStephanie M. Ward is the author of the children’s book, Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin. Stephanie has been writing in various forms over the last 20 years. Most notably she spent over 15 years in PR and Marketing at Amazon and Fujitsu writing everything from press releases to white papers, executive bios to product blurbs. Stephanie’s wanderlust finally got the best of her and she spent a year traveling across all seven continents. It was then that she decided to focus on writing stories for children about amazing places around the world. Stephanie currently lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and young son.

Author Website & Blog –  http://www.stephaniemward.com

Facebook Fan Page – http://www.facebook.com/wallythewarmweatherpenguin

Twitter – http://twitter.com/stephmward

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Spokane, Washington on the west coast of the U.S. but left for college in California and have been living in various places around the world ever since.

When did you begin writing?

As a child I loved to read and write and in school I excelled in English classes. Not surprisingly, my professional work involved a lot of writing. Then in a break between marketing jobs, I started writing for an online travel magazine and contributed to the book Tana’s Habitat: The Ultimate Guide to Finding and Affording Your First Places. I started writing children’s stories on a year-long honeymoon traveling around the world and that’s when I decided that some day I wanted to be a writer. “Some day” came two years ago when I left the corporate world to focus on publishing Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin.

What is this book about?

Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin is the story of Wally, an Emperor Penguin from Antarctica, who is always cold and dreams of life on a tropical island. When Wally learns about the Galapagos Islands, he sets sail immediately and discovers an amazing world of tap-dancing crabs, racing hundred-year-old tortoises and diving birds with bright blue feet.

What inspired you to write it?WallyCover

Visiting Antarctica and being amidst Emperor Penguins in the icy conditions made me wonder why they didn’t just pack up and go somewhere warmer. A couple of months later, I was in the Galapagos Island and saw a colony of Galapagos Penguins and there was the story: What if an Emperor Penguin learned that he could live on a warm, tropical island?

The Galapagos Islands is an amazing place with so many unique plants and animals. In publishing Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin, I wanted to give back to the place that inspired the story. To that end, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin is donated to the Galapagos Conservancy (galapagos.org) to support conservation efforts in the Galapagos Islands.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

We took a fairly unique approach to publishing Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin and issued an ebook edition first. The full-color illustrations are arranged in a fixed format and optimized to be read on a tablet or computer, so each spread is perfectly laid out on any device. Once we learned how to create this layout, it was smooth sailing.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin is available on Amazon websites worldwide.

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1q0qzoc

Amazon.ca: http://amzn.to/1t50d2w

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/1iYsY9o

Amazon.com.au: http://bit.ly/wallypenguin

Amazon.de: http://amzn.to/1lPKKjS

Amazon.es: http://amzn.to/1iYtkNf

Amazon.fr: http://amzn.to/1lPL8i8

Amazon.in: http://bit.ly/wallypenguinINDIA

Amazon.it: http://amzn.to/1lPLk0Z

Amazon.co.jp: http://amzn.to/1jVLiFy

Amazon.com.br: http://www.amazon.com.br/dp/B00JN79R0K

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it?

Yes. I created a “teaser trailer” before Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin was published. It’s available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apbBIngs4Wk.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Write your story. If your story can’t be defined in a specific genre or written in the traditional format, there are many options for authors to get a book into readers hands. I have met some talented indie authors whose wonderful children’s books are longer than the 1000 word maximum that an agent will accept for review. And I recently read a fantastic novella that is the perfect length, but in traditional publishing may have been expanded or reduced to a short story or looked over completely due to the number of pages. It’s a whole new world in publishing today, so don’t worry that your idea doesn’t “fit”, just write your story!

What is up next for you?

Currently, I’m working on a picture book version of Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin for older children. I hope to have this edition out by the end of 2014.

Beyond that, there are so many interesting (and warm) places that Wally wants to visit! I’ll be writing Wally’s next adventure in the coming months.


0 Comments on Interview with Stephanie Ward, Author of Wally, The Warm-Weather Penguin as of 6/5/2014 2:23:00 AM
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18. Interview with Dr. Ellen Prager, author of The Shark Whisperer

Today, Kid Lit Reviews is pleased to welcome Dr. Ellen Prager, Scarletta Press author of The Shark Whisperer, June 8th–this Saturday–is World Oceans Day and Dr. Prager will be speaking. But before she can speak there, she has to speak here. I asked her a few questions about her book series, her writing habits, and what kids could do to help the oceans of the world. Here is what she told me:

prager ellen and world ocea dayHi, Dr. Prager. What prompted you to write The Shark Whisperer?

While promoting my last popular science book (Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Ocean’s Oddest Creatures), I was repeatedly asked if I had anything specifically for middle grade students (8 to 12 years old). The answer was no. My previous books are either illustrated children’s books for younger kids or High School and above popular science books. I then investigated (did my homework) to see what type of books kids of that age like to read. The answer was crystal clear – fun fiction series, such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. I was particularly taken with Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and how he combined Greek mythology with adventure and totally sarcastic, creative humor. I became a huge fan and thought: Hey, what if I could do something like that with the ocean and sea creatures. What a great way to get kids engaged in reading and learning about the sea at an age where so many love marine animals and the ocean.

Many of the things that occur in the story are true. Can you tell us about one or two  fascinating facts?

In the book, one of the main teen characters develops the ability to change the color of his skin (later the shape of his fingers as well….teaser for book #2) to mimic other creatures or his surroundings. This is modeled after the octopus (and squid and cuttlefish), which is the best and fastest camouflage artist on the planet. They are also smart, have excellent eyesight, and can squeeze through amazingly small openings (the Houdinis of the sea). Truly amazing creatures!

After a series of events, the main characters go to the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas where they attempt to rescue some kidnapped teens and outwit a shark killing, coral reef blasting villain. In the Bahamas they confer in a cave, swim through coral reefs and over stromatolites, and come upon giant underwater waves or dunes of sand made up of small white beadlike grains called ooids. These are all based on my real experiences when I lived in the Exuma Islands and worked as the director of a small marine laboratory on tiny Lee Stocking Island.

Will Tristan be a central character in each book of the series? How many books will comprise The Shark Whisperer series?

Yes, Tristan will be the main character, accompanied by his friends Hugh and Sam. Right now we are planning for five books!

What was the hardest task involved in writing the book and how did you handle it?

Writing the book was the fun part. I love writing these books. The hard part was finding a publisher. Because I am a scientist and had not written a fiction series like this previously, I think publishers were hesitant to take it on. In addition, the combination of an entertaining fiction story with ocean science was also somewhat of a novel idea, so that also presented an obstacle for publishers. I received numerous “soul sucking” rejections and was nearly ready to throw in the towel, when Scarletta Press thankfully picked up the series. I am extremely grateful to them for taking a chance with the books and me. And hopefully, given the wonderful response so far from readers they are happy as well!

Sometimes I took the rejections as a challenge and was ready to fight for the book. At other times I went running, swimming in the ocean or jumped into my kayak to ward off the self-doubt and depression that occurred. And I had great friends and family who kept telling me to keep at it. The fact that my test readers LOVED the first book also gave me confidence that I had something worth publishing.

Of all the abilities the kids have in The Shark Whisperer, (such as Tristan understanding sharks and talking to them), which skill would you want to be a real thing and why?

Now that’s a tough question. I would definitely like to be able to talk to sea creatures, especially sharks, dolphins or eagle rays. Sam’s ability to echolocate is pretty cool too. Then again, developing webbed hands and feet and being able to swim fast and stay longer underwater would be fantastic. I just can’t choose!

Those skills definitely saved our heroes lives.  World Ocean Day is this Saturday, June 8th. What is most important about this day?

World Ocean Day provides an opportunity for us to recognize the importance of the ocean to the planet, marine life, and especially people. It is a chance to share knowledge of and passion for the sea, and hopefully to foster a greater connection in people of all ages to the ocean and to build lifelong stewards.

What can kids do to help restore and maintain the ocean?

Kids have enormous power! But they don’t hear that all too often. Kids are a huge influence on their parents and other kids. They can get involved in coastal cleanups, ocean camps, programs at nature centers and aquariums, and share they commitment to the ocean with others. They can teach people about marine life and why we all should dispose of our trash properly and recycle so it doesn’t end up in the ocean. Kids can write their local leaders or even the President to tell them we need to take better care of the ocean. They can also ask their parents to only purchase seafood that is fished sustainably (see Monterey Bay Aquarium or the Blue Ocean Institute website for information on this). And they are the leaders and innovators of the future. Kids have power!

Can you give us a little insight into book 2?

If you liked book #1, you are going to love book #2. Tristan and his friends go on a mission to investigate mysteriously dying fish in the British Virgin Islands, an area well known for its pirate history. They will encounter strangely aggressive sharks, spooked manta rays, get trapped, be set adrift at night, and have to deal with an oncoming hurricane. There is also some cool underwater technology in the second book, including a small submersible and a robotic jellyfish.

The teens will explore some of the most beautiful and fascinating real locations in the British Virgin Islands, such as the giant boulder trails and caves of The Baths. And in dealing with a creepy new villain, Hugh surprises everyone in a move that is a real shocker. Also included in the story is a mantis shrimp with anger management problems, some squid, a moray eel, sea turtles, tarpon, dolphins, frigate birds, and more.

There is nothing worse than a fish with a sharp tail and a anger management problem. Let’s shift gears, but just slightly. Describe where do you do most of your writing. 

I write mainly in my office at home. It is light, airy, and overlooks some palm trees. I can even see the ocean in the distance. I like it to be quiet or with just the sounds of nature, such as birds chirping. Sometimes I write while traveling, but I find that harder. Though if the inspiration hits, I suppose I can write just about anywhere!

When you wrote book 1, did you write the first draft straight through before editing anything or did you edit along the way? If you can recall, how many drafts were written before the manuscript was polished enough for submission?

For me, writing is all about re-writing. I try to write pages at a time and then come back repeatedly to edit. And I definitely edit as I go. I’ll work on sections at a time to get them pretty well crafted and then move on. Many, many drafts were done before I submitted the manuscript. No idea on the number, let’s just say lots!

Is there anything you would like to add? Maybe tell us a bit about the upcoming books.

Real world ocean issues are integrated into each book. In the first book the bad guy is shark finning. Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year for their fins, meat, cartilage, and oil. As top predators, sharks are very important to the ocean ecosystem, they help to keep prey populations in check and weed out sick or diseased animals. We need to better protect sharks to protect the ocean and all of its valuable resources we depend on, and so that we as well as future generations can continue to enjoy the sea and sharks. In the second book issues such as marine pollution and overfishing are integrated into the story.

We’ll start the editing process soon for book #2 so that it will be ready to publish early May 2015. And I’m well into writing book #3. Grand Cayman’s Stingray City plays a major role in the story. If people want to learn more about the science in the books or me they can also go to www.tristan-hunt.com.

I love Stingray City. Such a cool place. Just don’t jump into the ocean with a pocket full of squid. They will make you scream as they converge upon you as you hit the water.  But great fun!

Dr. Prager, thank you for being here and answering my questions. I very much enjoyed The Shark Whisperer and will be thrilled when book 2 arrives.

SharkWhisperer LargeReaders can read a REVIEW of The Shark Whisperer HERE or an EXCERPT HERE.

The Shark Whisperer can be bought at Amazon B&NScarletta Press—at your local bookstore.

Visit Dr. Ellen Prager at her website:  http://www.earth2ocean.net/
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Readers, Thanks for hanging in there! <3


Filed under: Author Spotlight, Interviews, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: author interview, children's book reviews, Dr. Ellen Prager, middle grade novel, novel excerpt, ocean creatures, Scarletta Press, The Shark Whisperer, World Oceans Day

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19. Interview with Darlene Laney, Author of The God Squad: Mission Him-Possible, the Distorted Mirror

darleneDarlene Laney is a wife, mother and grandmother residing in Fresno, California with her husband Carlos Laney.  She holds a Master’s degree in Education-Counseling and is a Board Certified Christian Counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors as well as a licensed Evangelist.  She is the developer and facilitator of Color Me Beautiful, an etiquette and social skills development program for tween and teen girls.  When Darlene isn’t facilitating her program, she enjoys reading, drawing, writing and spending time with her three grandchildren.   

You can learn more about the author and her books at: http://www.darlenelaney.com and http://www.godspecialforces.com      

Thank you for joining us today, Darlene. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I’m a passionate person.  I don’t believe in doing anything half-heartedly.  When I’m in, I’m in all the way.  That’s how I have been with my writing.  I don’t approach it casually; it is something I do every day regardless of how I’m feeling.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I guess I had to be eight or nine.  My favorite thing to do was writing about the “Rat Family.”  I could spend hours making up stories about them and I even put illustrations with the writings.  I stopped writing stories when I got in my teens but I kept a diary and later journals.  I gave up writing for a time when I was told by a writing instructor that I could not write. However, I kept writing my journals and made several attempts at starting a romance novel.  It wasn’t my best work but I kept on writing because I enjoy putting stories down on paper.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

After I finished the God’s Special Forces (GSF) Manual.  I had been working with girls teaching etiquette and social skills and wanted to come up with a way to make learning about self-esteem, body image, peer pressure and the like easier to understand.  I had been working on the God Squad for some time and decided to create a story about them that centered on challenges faced by tweens and teens today.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

It’s harder but a lot more fun!  Tweens and teens are full of surprises.  You can’t just put them in a box and come up with a standard response.  No, there can be a hundred different ways for them to respond to a particular situation. So when I’m developing the story, I will write an interaction or reaction over and over until it just sounds right.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?god squad

Developing the characters and making them believable. I want my characters to be memorable and someone the girls reading my books can identify with and hopefully want to emulate.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Six ordinary girls ranging in ages from 12 – 15 years attending Carver Preparatory going about their ordinary lives.  Then they get the call…Calling all girls! Calling all girls!! And things become anything but ordinary.  Transformed, empowered, and dressed for battle, they become the God Squad on a Mission Him-Possible.  Their mission is to befriend and help a fellow student overly concerned with being accepted by the popular group and willing to do just about anything to belong.

What inspired you to write it?

My granddaughters and all the girls that have been a part of the God’s Special Forces program.  I’ve watched these girls be transformed by the Word, empowered by the Holy Spirit and learn to walk in the knowledge of who they are in Christ, God’s workmanship—his masterpiece—go on to be the confident and capable young women God intended them to be.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

The book is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and my website: http://www.darlenelaney.com

What is up next for you?

The next episode of the God Squad in Mission Him-Possible.

Do you have anything else to add?

I hope everyone reading this interview will buy a copy of my book; but I especially hope that if you know of a girl that has a negative self image or is being challenged by the pressure put on her by her peers, I hope you will get them a copy of this book.  It’s an easy and enjoyable read!

Thank you for spending time with us today, Darlene. We wish you much success.

Thank you!


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20. Edmund Pickle Chin Blog Tour - And A Chance For A Prize!

Good Morning, Everyone!  Happy Monday!

As you can see, I survived my In-Real-Life teaching experience this weekend!  I would tell you about  it, but I'm suffering selective amnesia and besides, we've already got something else on the agenda for today, so it will have to wait :)

Today it is my pleasure to host Clara Bowman-Jahn and Susan Elwood on the final stop of their blog tour for Edmund Pickle Chin - A Donkey Rescue Story, their wonderful new picture book!


The previous stops on the tour (listed below for your convenience) covered animal mistreatment, collaboration, a book review, an author interview, and an interview with Edmund himself :)  Make sure you visit them and follow the instructions because there are PRIZES involved! :)

Today, we will hear about how teachers can use Edmund in the classroom.

Please help me welcome Susan Elwood!

Hi Susanna, it’s a pleasure to be your guest!

Edmund Pickle, A Donkey Rescue Story, may be a children’s picture book, but it is packed with opportunity for teachers to use in the classroom in various subjects and themes. I can see the opportunities spilling over into not only in the kindergarten and first grade classroom but the second and third as well. For the younger grades it has the days of the week built right in, along with an adventure Edmund has for each day. The days of the week also allow for the children to see that Susan, Edmund’s care giver in the story did not get results in a day, that it took a period of time (and patience).

There’s the cause and effect lesson.  Each and every one of us are responsible for our actions toward others and the results it may bring, and that includes our actions toward creatures. For those children who don’t have the opportunity to have pets, it teaches that all creatures respond to the way they are treated, be it positively or negatively. Compassion toward others goes a long way.

Bullying is a serious topic in schools now a days and this book talks about a donkey trying to overcome this obstacle and how with patience from his care giver he is able to blossom and give back. It shows team work and patience.

Ah patience! It seems with all the immediate results children can get now days with numerous technology devices, instant gratification is accepted. Sometimes that doesn’t come quickly when we are dealing with real life. Susan the care giver dedicates the time needed to bring on the results she hopes for Edmund. 

As far as my hopes on what the book will do for rescue animals, first and for most I hope it teaches the older children that places like Evermay Farm exists.  That there is an option to abuse and neglect. I hope the book will impress upon them that animals have feelings and needs.  My hope is that the younger generations grow up showing compassion and not looking the other way, when they could step in and make a difference. 

The book was written in hopes on drawing attention to a small rescue/sanctuary called Evermay Farm, which I founded about a year ago.  The book was written to bring attention to the nonprofit and help with donations, but also, for me at least, to teach children compassion and patience. 

In the end....I hope they enjoy it as a story with a happy ending, because every child deserves
one!

So happy to have had this chance to chat!
Susan April Elwood co-author Edmund Pickle Chin,A Donkey Rescue Story

Thank you so much, Susan!  I'm sure teachers will find that very helpful and informative!

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. . .


 Prizes - From Clara And Susan!

Thanks so much for reading Friends! For all friends of Edmund are my friends. Below please find our links and the tour. Read every post, follow the blog and comment for prizes. The reader who follows each blog and comments on each stop of the tour will get first prize. And if there are many winners, hurray! We will deliver!
First prize is a print book of both Annie’s Special Day and Edmund Pickle Chin. Second prize is either a print copy of Edmund or of Annie, you get to pick. Third prize is a copy of the ebook of Edmund Pickle Chin, a Donkey Rescue Story.
For Susan April Elwood:

For Clara Bowman-Jahn

BLOG TOUR DATES
May 26: Animal abuse and mistreatment — Joanna -www.joannamarple.com
May 29: Author collaboration— Stacy – http://www.stacysjensen.com
May 30: PPBF and review — Vivian – http://viviankirkfield.com/
June 2: Author interview  — Erik – www.ThisKidReviewsBooks.com
June 4: Edmund interview — Patricia – http://childrensbooksheal.com
June 9: Teacher info and guide — right here :)

About the Authors:


Clara Bowman-Jahn
Clara Bowman-Jahn worked as a registered nurse for thirty two years finally trading that job for her true love, writing. Clara’s short stories have been published in three anthologies, Campaigner Challenges 2011, The ‘I’ Word and Charms Vol. 2. She is also the author of Annie’s Special Day a children’s picture book. Her second Picture book, a true story, called Edmund Pickle Chin, a Donkey Rescue Story, is co-authored with Susan April Elwood.

When Clara is not writing, she teaches ESOL to adult students through a library program. She also likes taking long walks with her husband, blogging, and reading books. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Julie Hedlunds Picture Book Challenge 12x12, Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic; Pennwriters, Bethesda Writer’s Center and Round Hill Writer’s Group. She lives in rural Loudoun County, Virginia with her brilliant husband, and two fat cats. She is the proud mother of two wonderful grown sons and a grandmother to a delightful grandson. 
Susan April Elwood

Susan April Elwood has worked with children for over twenty years in Northern Virginia as a preschool teacher, kindergarten assistant, and a library assistant. With her passion for animals it made perfect sense to combine the two and write an animal story for children, teaming up with author Clara Bowman-Jahn.

Susan and her husband Tom moved from Northern Virginia in 2007 to central Georgia where they founded Evermay Farm, a non-profit rescue for farm animals. This is the setting for the book titled, Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story. The story is based on Edmund a donkey, the first of many animals to call Evermay Farm home. Susan and her husband Tom have two treasured sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law and a precious grandson. In her free time, Susan enjoys photographing animals and antiquing.      
        
www.evermayfarm.org

Thank you all so much for joining us today!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! :)


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21. Author Interview with Pauline Holyoak

Welcome to this week’s edition of Author Interview Thursday.Pauline Holyoak Today’s special guest writes in multiple genres. She’s traditionally published but don’t let that fool you into thinking that she has her feet up smoking a pipe in comfy slippers while the minions at her publishers do all the donkey work. No way José! She works hard to market her books and is passionate about improving her craft as a story-teller. I got introduced to her by Cynthia Echterling who was on our hot seat way back in February. She has a lot to share with us today so please join in welcoming Pauline Holyoak.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?

I grew up in England, in a coal mining village lovingly nicknamed, “The place that time forgot.”  I immigrated to Canada when I was 21 in search of adventure and a new life.  I currently live in Alberta with my husband, beautiful Sheltie and ginger cat. I am the proud mother of two grown children and one adorable grandchild. As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friends, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales, colorful characters and magical places. I recall the first time I wrote a real story, at school. I must have been about 8 years old, at the time. It was about a rabbit and a hare, cousins I think, running away from home to a strange country and getting into all kinds of mischief. I still remember my teacher’s reaction after she read it. She looked at me with a stern faced and asked, “Did you copy this?” “No, Miss Finn, I pleaded, “It just, came right out of my head.” “Hmmmm” she scoffed suspiciously. I was devastated but it never stopped me. “I’ll show her.” I mumbled. And I kept writing, whatever came out of my head. I have spent the past 25 years writing editorials, articles, short stories and books.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a Pauline Holyoak book?

If you were to pick up my trilogy, you will find… A chilling tale of love, lust, sorcery and sacrifice; laced with mystery and tied with humor. Inspired by my own experiences at a remote little cottage near Stonehenge. If you picked up my Children’s book you will find, fantasy, humor, colorful illustrations and fun!

 

You write in the Fantasy genre which is very popular and competitive. What advice would you have for someone who wants to write in this genre?Ultimate Sacrifice COVER

Unlike some other genres, you can let your imagination run wild, while writing fantasy. Read the classics for ideas and use some of the established legends and myths for your fantasy world. But be sure to make your work original. Draw from your childhood world of make-believe. Even though your story is fantasy, your characters have to seem real and believable. Make sure your character’s name fits with your fantasy world, its time and culture. Unless you’re writing a series, your villain must die! I like to finish with an epilogue, so that my reader can be sure that the hero is living happy-ever-after.

You’re published with Whiskey Creek Press. Can you tell us how this came about and the benefits of being with a traditional publisher?

The benefits of having a traditional publisher are – No cost. Publisher pays for editing, printing, cover design, illustrations, etc. More exposure for your book, promotions, help and advertising.

 

What would you say is the greatest challenge facing authors in this day and age?

Getting your book ‘out there!’

 

What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?

People often ask me. “Do you spend much time marketing?”….. Oh yes, much more than I care to. Years ago one would write a book, get it published then sit back and collect the royalties. It’s not that way anymore.  Most authors are not salesmen, public speakers or comfortable being in the limelight but we are expected to promote ourselves, as well as our books, even by the big publishing houses. The internet of course, is the most powerful tool an author has. There are literally hundreds of sites that will promote your book, some are free and some are very costly.  I blog, do online interviews, reviews and try to keep a consistent online presence. It can be extremely time consuming but it’s an important element in establishing one’s writing career.

What were some of your favourite books as a child?

Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice In Wonderland, Nancy Drew Mysteries, Jane Eire, Great Expectations, The Secret Garden, Anne Of Green Gables…I could go on…and on..

 

What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue? Malevolent Spirit

Make it clear who is talking. Keep it short. Show rather than tell.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?

I have read many wonderful books that have inspired me. I have just finished a book called, This House Is Haunted, by John Boyne. It is written in first person and the dialogue is amazing. It has inspired me to improve my own dialogue. The book that has inspired me the most would have to be Anne of Green Gables. I read it at an early age. The writing, the dialogue and the story encourage me to pursue my dream of becoming a writer.

 

What is your definition of success as an author?

It may seem cliché to say that ‘success’ isn’t just about money or fame, but obviously that’s the way the world defines it, including the publishing industry. But, if that’s how we define our ultimate success, most of us are going to be doomed to disappointment. Ever noticed that the ‘top ten’ best-sellers list, by definition, only have ten spots. People like Steven King usually have at least two of those spots. Ask anyone on the street to name a successful author and their likely to mention Stephanie Meyers, Steven King or J.K. Rowling’s, yet these people do not strike me as being any happier than the average Jo and certainly not as people who have been ‘made’ happy by their success. I have this quote framed and sitting on my desk. “Successful, is the person who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much, who has gained the respect of children, who leaves the world a better place than they found it, who has never lacked appreciation for the worlds beauty, who never fails to look for the best in others or give the best of themselves.” If and when I become that person, then I will be successful.

Toy Story or Shrek?

Shrek!!

What three things should a first time visitor to your home town do?

Get a visitor’s guide (online or off) to Spruce Grove and Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. We have so many wonderful tourist attractions in this area and it’s only a four hour to the Rocky Mountains.

 

What can we expect from Pauline Holyoak in the next 12 months? Merryweather Lodge

I am working on paranormal romance and another children’s book. It’s about a little girl who has an incredible dream and visits the land of make-believe. I hope to have both books published by next spring.

Where can readers and fans connect with you? 

Facebook - www.facebook.com/PaulineHolyoak 

Twitter - @PaulineHolyoak

GoodReads - www.goodreads.com/author/show/4415532.Pauline_Holyoak

Amazon - Amazon.com/PaulineHolyoak

Website - http://www.paulineholyoak.com/

LinkedIn - LinkedIn/PaulineHolyoak

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

Writing a successful novel depends on four things –a little talent, lots of determination, a vivid imagination and skill. No one can teach you the first three but skill is something you ‘can’ learn…

Try to spend some of your time lurking around the internet – read authors blogs, Facebook pages, websites, read comments and critiques. The internet is a treasure trove of information…

When writing, whether it’s a novel, article or short story, you must grab your reader in the first few sentences. People are much too busy these days to spend the time reading something that doesn’t grab their attention on the first page. Lure them in, give them a hint of what’s to come, tempt them with the breadcrumb trail that will lead them deeper into the thicket.

Be descriptive; convince your reader that she is there, by assaulting each of her senses, with color, sound, taste and texture. If your reader can feel the sun on her face, the wind fluttering in her shirt sleeves, envision the landscape and feel for your characters, half your job is done…

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. ‘Show’ don’t ‘Tell.’ I was confused when I first heard this but it is a simple concept. You can ‘Tell’ your reader how two characters meet, or you can ‘Show’ the characters meeting, making eye contact, checking each other out.

Don’t ever try to compete with others. In this competitive market, one needs to be unique, build your own brand, whatever that might be…

Brush up on your grammar and punctuation. If you have grammatical errors in your book proposal or article query, they are not going to look at your manuscript. If you can afford it, get yourself a professional editor, or find someone with an English degree to go over your work for you. And, never give up!!

 

Thanks for spending time with us today Pauline. You’ve touched on so many topics that authors and aspiring authors will derive great value from. I think you summed it perfectly when you advocated never giving up. You can connect with Pauline by clicking one of the links she gave and you can also grab one of her books at the link below.

Pauline Holyoak on Amazon

 

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22. Saturday and now it’s summer

bare necessities

I certainly didn’t mean to check out for a week, but right after my fun afternoon at the fair I got sick, sick, sick. Spent the better part of three days huddled in bed, wretched and useless. Scott, Rose, and Beanie took very good care of me and kept the house chugging along. By the time I recovered, the week was nearly over and it was time to head up the coast to pick up our college girl for the summer. We got back last night, minivan crammed to bursting, happy to all be under the same roof again.

Wonderboy, too, is finished with school for the summer. A long, lovely low tide is beginning. I’m making summery plans. Some garden work, a lot of Balboa Park time, some geocaching excursions. Mornings outdoors when it’s still cool, afternoons full of read-alouds and Minecraft. A day at the beach here and there. Jane has an internship lined up and plans to take a summer class. Rose wants to focus on her Spanish—and learn to drive. Beanie is practicing hard for Piano Guild. I’d like to empty my house of about half its contents. Is that too ambitious a goal? ;)

And suddenly I’m realizing we’re at the point where Comic-Con is next month. Gulp.

I want to do a lot of art with my younger set this summer. We’ve had trouble squeezing that in lately, and that’s all wrong—I’ve never thought of art as something to “squeeze in”; it’s always been a primary focus of the day. But my current teens-and-littles mix means our days have a lot of things that deserve focus. So I’ll be working to correct that upending of the natural order. :) Gotta clean up the corner of the kitchen where we keep all the supplies. Time for some new watercolors and tissue paper.

I have lots piled up to write about. Like this podcast interview at The Parentalist! It was such a fun discussion, all about parenting and favorite resources. And I told about my Wrapple Summer, a favorite childhood memory.

P.S. If I owe you an email, see paragraph #1! I’m trying to get myself caught up. :)

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23. Player Profile: Chris Pavone, author of The Accident

chrispavoneChris Pavone, author of The Accident

Tell us about your latest creation:

THE ACCIDENT is an international thriller about ambition and corruption; the story takes place over one long, perilous day in the life of a literary agent who receives an anonymous, dangerous manuscript about a powerful man’s secret past.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

 I’m from New York City, and except for university and a modest expat stint in Luxembourg, it’s where I’ve always lived.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

As David Byrne of the Talking Heads supposedly said, “I wanted to be a secret agent and an astronaut, preferably at the same time.” Which is to say: I didn’t have any rational expectations.

9780571298938What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

THE EXPATS is the novel of mine that’s more true and more special; THE ACCIDENT is a more thrilling thriller. They’re different books, but I think there’s no “best” in the comparison.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

 I write in a member’s club, which is sort of like a fine hotel lobby, with waiters bringing coffee and food, and a swimming pool on the roof, and lots of people around, all the time. I’m not productive in quiet solitude.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

 I read primarily what’s referred to as literary fiction, and also a steady diet of various types of crime novels.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Sun Also Rises is the book I read the most closely, the most frequently, and thought the most meaningful.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

 I’d be James Bond. I don’t think I need to explain why.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

 I cook, play tennis, do crosswords, play ball with my kids. Sometimes when I ought to be writing a novel, I’ll instead paint the dining room walls.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Negroni on the rocks is my go-to cocktail. For the past couple of years, my favorite food to cook has been a 24-hour pork roast, recipe courtesy of the River Cottage Meat Book.

Who is your hero? Why?:

My twin sons share that honor jointly. Every day I’m amazed at their capacity for empathy, kindness, humor, enthusiasm, and overall goodness. I suspect the world would be much better if it were run by the children.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Consumers are spending huge sums on culture and entertainment, but they’re increasingly paying it to device manufacturers, cable network operators, and internet/telecom service providers. Then they expect the intellectual property itself–the books, the news, the films, the TV shows, the games, the apps–to be “free” or approaching it. We have been tricked into lining the coffers of immensely profitable international corporations, while withholding fair compensation from individual artists, performers, writers, and other creators. This is not only unjust; it’s untenable.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorChrisPavone

Website: http://www.chrispavone.com/

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24. Two Podcasts

The one I mentioned yesterday with Sarah Spear of The Parentalist—such a fun conversation we had.

And an upcoming one with Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things. She interviewed me last week for her delightful Read-Aloud Revival podcast (you know that’s a topic near and dear to my heart). It will air in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime don’t miss her chat with the wonderful Jim Weiss!

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25. Player Profile: John Gordon Sinclair, author of Blood Whispers

JGS hi res cleanJohn Gordon Sinclair, author of Blood Whispers

Tell us about your latest creation:

The title of my latest novel Blood Whispers was inspired by a quote from Hermann Hesse: “I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question the stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me.” Keira lynch is a criminal lawyer working in Glasgow, Scotland. She has taken on a case involving a young prostitute who has escaped the clutches of a Serbian drug gang. When the CIA get involved Keira realises that things aren’t quite as straight forward as she’d first imagined. What no one realises though is that Keira has a secret of her own and she’s never more dangerous than when she’s under threat. The question is: will she trust her instinct and listen to the message her blood is whispering to her?

9780571283903Where are you from / where do you call home?:

 I was born in Glasgow, although I have lived in London for the past 34years. My wife is Scottish too and we still have a lot of family there so we travel back and forward a lot. We’re never away from Scotland long enough to miss it. I still refer to it as home.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

 When I was a kid I had no real idea what I wanted to do in life. I still think it’s impossible to make up your mind without having experience of whatever your chosen profession might be. The only ambition I really had was to be in a Woody Allen movie…either that or become Batman. I’m still tempted by the latter.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

 Blood Whispers is only my second novel, but I enjoyed the writing process much more than the first (Seventy times Seven). I think the positive reaction to the first gave me more confidence, so If I had to choose i’d probably go for Blood Whispers. Although having said that, I have a nagging feeling that the best is yet to come.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

 I write in a hut at the bottom of my garden called the Roald Dahl social club. I have a flame-effect fire on the wall, a sofa bed and a beer fridge. If it had running water and a Nespresso machine i’d move in permanently. I try to keep it fairly tidy, because I find mess to distracting, but I write ideas on anything that comes to hand so my desk is littered with torn bits of envelopes, scraps of paper and even the odd sheet of loo role.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read a lot of non-fiction. That’s where most of the best ideas are hidden; Noam Chomsky, Richard Dawkins,  Anne Cadwallader. For fiction, Elmore Leonard, Dickens, Iain Banks, Patrick Suskind, Cormac Macarthy, Albert Camus and Vladimir Nabakov are pretty high up the list of favourites. Any one of them could take the top spot.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

 I read a lot of Enyd Blyton when I was young but the books that made the biggest impact were the Lord of The Rings trilogy. I still remember the thrill of discussing the story in the playground and to this day am slightly envious of people who belong to reading groups and book clubs. It was the first time i became aware of words being able to paint pictures in your head.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

 Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. I’m roughly the same height and share his utter disdain for Hypocracy and “the phonies”.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

 I have two young children so spare time has been missing off the options list for quite a few years now. I used to ride a motorbike and race jet-ski’s. (I cmae 2nd in the first championships in held in Scotland) When the kids are a bit older I’ll get my helmet back on and get out there.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

If it ever came to the point I was asked what my last supper would be i’d opt for Crispy Aromatic Duck and a cold beer, preferably a St Mungo (it’s brewed in Glasgow and is only one of a few beers in Britain granted the German standard for purity).

Who is your hero? Why?:

 My Dad. I remember going into the pub with him when i was in my early twenties and everyone telling me what a great guy he was. “Do anything for you, a real gentleman and one of the good guys,” were the typical sort of comments. I want to be more like him.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

 The convenience of ebooks has made them very popular, but their sales are starting to plateau. I have one myself, but I still prefer a book. No matter what form your reading takes your always going to need content and with the cost of a novel running at about half that of a cinema ticket, i’d much rather have ‘words’ creating images in my head than someone visualising it for me on a big screen. I think the future’s a bright one.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jgs-x

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