Friday, February 24, 2017

Talking Books with Alba Lewis, author of 'A Shaman in Kensington Square'



Alba Lewis was clear she wanted to be a writer at the age of 13 as she smoked cigarettes in the cubicles with her friends.  It took her 20 years to start writing and so far she has published seven books, two fiction and five annual factual books on life.  Committed to an interesting life, despite the paradoxes, Alba continues to write, work with not for profits, and support others to take their creative spirit and get it out into the world via her mentoring programmes.  'We live in a world where a creative resource is paramount to solving problems and having an expansive life".

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


About the Book:

Title: A SHAMAN IN KENSINGTON SQUARE
Author: Alba Lewis
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 191
Genre: Women’s Fiction
This is a story about a mouse, an eagle, a shaman, Sarah who’s run away to London from her husband leaving her children, Janet who’s been loyally married to Roger for decades and wants to stand by her husband but has fallen for the charms of a much younger man, and Doug who frequents back room bars whilst holding down a important job. But all their lives change as the energy of the shaman comes to stir things up.
  

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon



Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

A Shaman In Kensington Square came about after my sister had been on a shamanic course somewhere in South America and came back with the story of ‘jumping mouse’.  She told it at some gathering we went to and I was captured by it.  It was still swirling around in my head a decade later when I went to write my first novel and I wondered if I could tell the story of the mouse along side a real time story set in London.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

That’s a great question. I think the biggest would have to be that you cannot write and be your own critic as you write.  You need to get your story down and then leave it a while and then re read it. You have to separate the different roles you are going to play to get the book written, edited, marketed and sold.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I started my own publishing company, so I self-published.  The main reason for this is I did go and meet with an agent and though she said she liked the book she wanted me to change quite a bit to one of the main characters.  I left the meeting very happy to have had the chance to talk to a professional in the sales arena, but also I really wanted to use writing as my voice, so, rightly or wrongly I wanted to keep that voice mine all the way.  To do that needed me to self publish.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

It’s quite something to see your book available to buy by strangers.  The journey is hard, and deep and emotional to write a book, but the day it goes out to the public, it is as complete as it’s every going to be. Off it goes.  It’s a great great feeling.  It almost has its own journey then.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I am currently working on a woman who is a murderer.  I had a friend proof read the first few chapters and I think he must have been a bit shocked as he described it  as a female version of American Psycho.  Not sure if that is a compliment or not, but I want to explore strong dangerous female characters.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

The Shaman in the book is based on a shaman who stayed in my home for 3 months whilst he learned English!

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?
  
The story about jumping mouse is about the journey we want to make up to the mountain to be free.  So the people in the story are at different stages in the journey, with two women in particular making a bid for freedom.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

No, thank you for the interview. It’s reminded me how much fun it’s also been to tell this story!

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Chat with Doug Hewitt, author of Dominion



D.A. Hewitt is an award-winning author of four novels and over a hundred short stories. One novel was awarded a gold medal from the Independent Publishers Book Awards for best regional fiction. He attributes his success to hard work, honing a skill and providing an outlet for his passion for writing.

Born in Michigan, he lived for 25 years in North Carolina before returning to live in his home state. In addition to enjoying sky diving and mountain climbing, he is a proud veteran of the US Marine Corps and has earned a degree in mathematics.

Mr. Hewitt admits to a fascination with the work of Carl Jung and of the Gnostic religion. He’d always thought intertwining these topics in a science fiction novel was a stretch, but one day the storyline of Dominion came to him. He wrote the novel in a stream of consciousness. “It makes sense, tapping into the collective unconscious,” Mr. Hewitt says, “very much like Carl Jung might have predicted.”

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS


About the Book:

It’s the year 2075. Lunar mining and processing facilities have prospered near the lunar south pole, where the Moon’s largest city, Valhalla, rests on the rim of the Shackleton Crater.

Dominion Off-Earth Resources has beaten the competition into space and is ready to establish its
monopoly with the opening of the orbiting space resort Dominion. But Pettit Space Industries has a secret plan to emerge as a major contender in the commercialization of space. The upstart company is training the first space rescue squad at a secluded off-grid site in Barrow, Alaska.

The rescue squad gets nearly more than it can handle when its first mission involves the Pope, who’s traveling to the Moon to establish the Lunar See. During the rescue attempt, they discover Earth is imperiled by an asteroid large enough to cause mass extinction. Using the unique skills taught during their training, skills emphasized by the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung, these Jungi Knights must elevate their game if they are to save both the Earth and the Pope—while not getting killed in the process.


Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

My inspiration for writing Dominion came from the work I did developing the Process Map of Consciousness. Many people are familiar with the ideas of ego, superego, and id. But how do they interact? I realized that it’s a process, and just like any manufacturing process, it can be mapped. Wanting to find a venue for the Process Map of Consciousness, I came up with the idea of the first rescue squad in space, a squad that used psychology to develop special skills. From that germ of an idea, my novel sprang to life.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

This book was easy to write, difficult to edit. A bit of advice for writers: writing is rewriting. I went through a dozen drafts of Dominion before it was published. Think of revising a manuscript as polishing a gemstone. Until it’s polished, it’s not as spectacular as it could be.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

Double Dragon. There are many writer-friendly websites that help authors find publishers within their genres. Finding the right one is just a question of doing the right research.


Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Dominion is my third published novel. I also have five nonfiction books under my belt. But the surprise I got with my first book is the same I got with my third. It’s always surprising how big a thrill it is when those first author copies arrive from the publisher. Awesome.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m working on a dark urban fantasy. The working title is Frame of Mind but my wife is strongly urging me to change it to Roanoke. There’s a parallel universe to ours, and a rift opens between them. Much fun ensues!

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

The techniques developed by the space rescue team in Dominion actually work. I know because I went through the same regimen as the characters in my novel. It wasn’t easy. A bit grueling, actually. But I was actually stunned that the techniques work so well.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I want to show how the Process Map of Consciousness lays out the roadmap to combine the great Eastern and Western religions. Carl Jung, the great psychoanalyst, suspected that if it was possible to do such a thing, it was likely come from America. And I think I’ve done just that. For people who want to see the map itself, visit my website at www.StinkyUniverse.com.
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

For me, the quest for a deeper level of consciousness is equivalent to the desire for a more fully developed spirituality. The Process Map of Consciousness is key to both.





Friday, February 17, 2017

Guest post: "Finding the Right Hired Hand," by Hard-boiled Thriller Author Jim Nesbitt

One of the great things about self-publishing is you get to tell your story your way. If you’re like me, you want your book to be as professional looking as possible so that means hiring a good editor and finding a graphic designer to produce a killer cover that’s true to your book.

That’s easier said than done. I have a great editor, Cheryl Pellerin, who is also a fine science writer who could give advice about the publishing process based on the experiences she had with her book, Trips: How Hallucinogens Work In Your Brain.

But the rest of the self-publishing game was terra incognito, with few trail markers, a blizzard of often conflicting online advice and the help of some buddies who had already journeyed across this land. To launch my first hard-boiled thriller, The Last Second Chance, I made a ton of mistakes and traversed a bunch of false trails, wasting more money than I should have on formatting, Facebook posts and cover design. On the latter, I first engaged some illustrators with the idea of creating a cover that mimicked the pulp fiction detective novels of yesteryear. That wound up being a waste of time and money, but did lead me to discover a German graphic designer who turned out four excellent cover options for me.

I also had a rather nightmarish experience with CreateSpace formatters who kept delivering manuscripts that were below my professional expectations, honed by more than 30 years as a journalist. I wanted a book that looked as professional as possible, one that didn’t have an amateurish or cookie-cutter cover and one that didn’t have a river of hyphenated short words and rogue line breaks. After multiple revisions that delayed publication of the first book by more than three months, I finally got an acceptable manuscript.

No matter how vexing the cover and formatting process was, it was still familiar ground to me as a former reporter and editor who regularly worked with photographers, graphic artists and page designers. I had to learn the particular quirks and pitfalls of formatters and graphic designers, but I could speak the language and knew what I wanted to accomplish.

What I struggled with most was the promotion and advertising game. I wasted too much money on boosted Facebook posts and advertising and didn’t run enough Kindle giveaways and countdown deals. As a first-time novelist, I ran into a brick wall with book bloggers and reviewers—with a few notable exceptions such as Scott Montgomery, the crime fiction coordinator at BookPeople, the biggest independent bookstore in Austin, Texas. I also pulled the trigger far too late on Amazon ads.

I learned from those mistakes, though. The biggest lesson: I suck at promotion. Second biggest lesson: social media alone won’t get you sales. I found Facebook to be an excellent platform for creating buzz and awareness that didn’t necessarily translate into sales. People loved the cool graphics Ray Martin, a buddy of mine, created to hawk the book. They loved the fact that I had a novel on the market. That didn’t mean they bought the book.

What I also realized is that the publishing world still has some strong, traditional roots, with influential outlets in both the print and online world. This means you need to have game that blends both old school and new school. And you have to know the players in both. I didn’t and needed help breaking through. That realization led to my biggest move in preparation for launching my second book, The Right Wrong Number, another hard-boiled thriller—hiring a publicist, Maryglenn McCombs out of Nashville. She’s got my book in front of folks I didn’t even know about as well as those who gave me the cold shoulder when I came calling with the first book. Will this lead to a sales boom? Not necessarily, but it does take me to a much higher level of awareness and potential.

These hard-won lessons made preparations for The Right Wrong Number much smoother. There were a few problems: the German graphic designer I used for the first book just flat disappeared on me. But I found another designer, thanks to a recommendation from fellow author Owen Parr, who pointed me towards SelfPubBookCovers.com. I also found an excellent formatter, Polgarus Studio, a small Aussie outfit with old-school values. They’re great folks—top-flight pros.

I still have a lot to learn about this game. But as Brad Pitt said in Moneyball: “It’s a process. It’s a process.” You bet. With lessons worth learning so you can tell your story your way.


 
For more than 30 years, Jim Nesbitt roved the American Outback as a correspondent for newspapers and wire services in Alabama, Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. He chased hurricanes, earthquakes, plane wrecks, presidential candidates, wildfires, rodeo cowboys, ranchers, miners, loggers, farmers, migrant field hands, doctors, neo-Nazis and nuns with an eye for the telling detail and an ear for the voice of the people who give life to a story. He is a lapsed horseman, pilot, hunter and saloon sport with a keen appreciation for old guns, vintage cars and trucks, good cigars, aged whiskey and a well-told story. He now lives in Athens, Alabama and writes hard-boiled detective thrillers set in Texas.
Find out more about the book:www.amazon.com/author/jimnesbitt






Monday, February 13, 2017

A Bookish Chat with Shelby Londyn-Heath, author of 'The Twilight Tsunami'


Shelby Londyn-Heath, a transplant from New York, has been a world-traveler, crossing the Sahara Desert on the back of a salt truck, working on banana plantations in Spain, an oil company in New York, and on coffee farms in Hawaii. She has jumped freight trains across the United States, and she was the proud owner of a beachfront bamboo hut on the Canary Islands. She has worked as a counselor, social worker, and teacher.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


About the Book:

Grey is a hard-hitting foster care social worker who removes babies and children from dangerous drugged parents, violent homes, and families joined with criminal gangs.  He is unstoppable until a
new social worker enters his department.  She is hungry for power and position, as she challenges Grey in malevolent and unexpected ways. As Grey yanks newborns from mothers, confronts irate parents, and lives through suicides of foster children aging out of the system, nothing stops him, until he meets his nemesis, a truly power-hungry woman. He must find her "Achilles Heel" and his inner truth, in order to rise up to conquer her. One of them must be transformed or destroyed.

Purchase your copy at Amazon.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I was in a unique position to tell a story about foster care because I worked with families that were referred by Child Protective Services. I also counseled children and families in the foster care system, and I raised a foster child who had special needs.

My book The Twilight Tsunami is a work of fiction emerging from the intense drama inherent in the foster care system. What drama, you ask?  Try looking at parent’s faces as you are on the witness stand vouching for their ability, or inability, to be safe parents, try listening to parents’ cries and screams when they are notified they lost legal rights to their children, try hearing children’s sobs as they leave the last meeting with their parents to move into another strange family’s home,

This drama does not stop with families. What about the social workers who risk their lives daily to ensure the safety of children? These workers go alone to drug houses where they investigate abuse reports, they go to homes with police officers to remove children from distraught and unpredictable parents, and they go shopping on their days off work, always with the uncertain knowledge that there may be angry, drugged, or mentally ill parents nearby who have vendettas against them.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?
This book was excruciating to write. It brought up secondary trauma, that state-of-mind arising from witnessing other people traumas. Social workers and counselors get secondary trauma, but because of their training, they keep it safely submerged, or they debrief through peer reviews, or in some cases, they have counseling sessions with a trained therapist..

Writing a book, even when it is fiction, can bring up the unexpected. I think all writers would agree with this. Sometimes the unexpected surfaces in a flood, albeit a joyful flood, or in my case, a painful flood.

Q: What should writers do when this happens?

Go with the flood. Write as much and as fast as you can, then put your manuscript away. Take time off. Call a friend and go to the movies, go to the beach, or go for a hike. Nurture yourself . Give thanks for all the positive aspects of your life.  But stay away from your manuscript until you have neutralized your emotions and can handle going back to your writing. You will know when the time is right.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Harvard Square Editions. I found this press through Poets and Writers. Harvard Square Editions was started by several alumni of Harvard University. I was drawn to this particular press because it was looking for authors with social or environmental messages. Aha, I thought. Here’s a press that will handle the unexpected, and I have plenty of it for them.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Yes. It took a long time for my book to be published.  I had to do revisions, revisions, and more revisions. Looking back, I am glad that the editor demanded a clean copy. Apart from the revisions, I was surprised at the emotions I went through before the publication of my first book. On some days I felt jubilant; yea, my first book, my dream come true! On other days, I felt fear, like I was opening a door I was not sure I wanted to walk through. I asked myself if I would lose my sense of privacy, so important to me as a writer. Would I be made fun of, would my writing upset anyone, would I be able to handle the other side of publication: promotion and marketing? It was a lot like entering a new school...uncertainty... fear of rejection and ridicule... and doubt about being able to handle the demands of a new program. Going through these emotions totally surprised me.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I started working on a psychological thriller called Finding Hotel Durango. It is about a young, ambitious, head-strong corporate woman who travels to a tropical island she intends to develop. However, she cannot find the hotel she made reservations at. She travels through jungles, across rivers, past head-hunters, and through flesh-eating environmental zones in search of this hotel..What she finds instead of the hotel surprises her and up-ends her life. She goes through a mythic journey of sorts, but she is feisty and she battles the world and herself, the entire way.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

The Twilight Tsunami is brimming with surprises. I think overall, that readers will be surprised at how easy it is to read this book. I engage in an experimental form of writing that is akin to surfing the internet. For instance, my chapters are short and snappy and they do not follow the theme of the book in chronological order. Readers get new information constantly, as action-packed characters weave in and out of the protagonist’s ongoing conflict. What the reader experiences is a kaleidoscope of stories woven into the main story, all interrelated, keeping readers engaged and intrigued. People who have read my book say they could not put the book down once they started reading it.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

What is a good book without messages? I think the most important message in my book is the truism that when you are unfaithful to yourself, not only do you suffer, but others around you do too. When you live in the fast lane of others’ expectations, you harvest a barren crop, no matter what your spreadsheets tell you.

Being untrue to yourself can also spill into areas such as ignoring broken people and broken institutions. You know they need help, but you may tell yourself they are not your problem.  Is that what your inner voice is really telling you?

  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Yes. I just started a blog. I would love for you to visit me at www.shelbylondynheath.wordpress.com

Book Feature: When Wars Were Won by Hugh Aaron


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We invite you to Hugh Aaron's WHEN WARS WERE WON Blog Tour! Please leave a comment to let Hugh know you stopped by!
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Title: WHEN WARS WERE WON
Author: Hugh Aaron
Publisher: Stones Point Press
Pages: 269
Genre: Fiction

 Hal Arnold, a professor of English, returns to the Philippines after forty years yearning for the unity, spirit and optimism he knew as a 19- year-old member of a Seabee battalion in the South Pacific theater during World War II. Trying to recapture that experience, he writes this story, vividly portraying members of the battalion who impacted his life. Searching for his own identity, he finds it in the warm, rich culture of a small Filipino village where love and dignity thrive among a people who have suffered under the Japanese yoke.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

EXCERPT
"But you love the hacienda so much," she protested, sitting up, yet holding onto my hand.
"I do. But I can't live in this country, not the way it is. Nothing has changed, no one is better off than they were forty years ago. Corruption and cronyism are the system. It's suffocating, don't you see? I miss the freedom, its very atmosphere. I hadn't realized how much. There's a vibrancy at home. It's part of me. So come home with me."
"At my age, leave the hacienda?" she said, waving her hand. "I would never adjust to a strange place. I couldn't die anywhere else."
"I understand," I said.
"When will you let me read your story?" she asked the night before I departed.
"I'll leave it with you and you can send it to me."
"Do you think it will be published?"
"Does it matter? I asked. "I wanted only to write it, nothing more."
Tomorrow Nina will drive me to Manila. Tomorrow I shall go home for the second time, feeling no less anxious than the first, when Fortune drove me to Subic Bay. Tomorrow will be our second good-bye, and our last. Tomorrow.









Hugh Aaron, born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, was a Seabee in the South Pacific during World War II. After the war he graduated from the University of Chicago where his professors encouraged him to pursue a literary career. However, he made his living as CEO of his own manufacturing business while continuing to write. He sold the company in 1985 to write full time. To date he has written two novels, a travel journal, a short story collection, a book of business essays, a book of his WWII letters, a child’s book in verse and a collection of movie reviews. The Wall Street Journal also published eighteen of his articles on business management and one on World War II. He resides by the sea in mid-coast Maine with his artist wife.

His latest book is When Wars Were Won.

You can visit his website at www.StonesPointBooks.com.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Where Do Dreams Come From?: Interview with Children's Picture Book Author Kim Delgado



I have a special treat for you today.  I interviewed Kim Delgado, author of the really unique children’s picture book, Where Do Dreams Come From?  What makes this book so different is that it is personalized.  What a treat for any child, grandchild, niece or nephew!

Kim Delgado is also the owner of KD Novelties, an independent publisher of personalized children's books. She has written several award winning children's books and has gotten featured in several publications. 

When she is not busy writing books or running her publishing company, you can find her tutoring children who struggle with reading in her local school district. She is also a board member and serves in her local soup kitchen feeding the homeless and families in need. 

Thank you for this interview, Kim.  Can we begin by having you tell us how you got started writing children’s picture books? Is this your first book?

Kim: I have been an avid reader since childhood and have always been intrigued with children’s books and making the stories unique to the reader. Back in 2000 I came across a book that reminded me of the  Choose Your Own Adventure series books that I loved as a child. Choose Your Own Adventure series were children’s game books published in the 1970s where the reader decided the outcome of the story. I then decided to write unique stories where the child becomes the main
character of the story.

Where Do Dreams Come From? is my second published book.

So what is the story behind Where Do Dreams Come From?

Kim: The story was sparked from my own childhood in always trying to decipher my dreams and also from my children who often asked how are dreams made and where do they come from?  I then decided to take the story on an imaginary journey to satisfy the most curious child and expand their imagination. The premise of the story was to make it a perfect bedtime story to encourage reading and instill pleasant dreams. 

Why did you decide to start your own publishing company?

Kim: I initially decided to work with another publisher for my line of books and realized that I wanted to publish my own line of books under my own publishing name.  Most importantly my vision is to branch out and work with authors and illustrators in publishing their works and getting them known in the children’s book industry.

What kind of obstacles did you face starting your publishing company?

Kim: Not having the staff to assist with the operations of the publishing side of business.  Most will tell you to start small which is absolutely correct, however, there are limitations when starting small.  There is much work involved for one person to handle on their own and it’s very important to find the right staff that will work as part of your overall team.  Financing was also an obstacle since I had to start from scratch and I needed to think through all the possible funding options.


What’s next for you? More children’s books?

Kim: I am looking to work with more authors and illustrators this year in getting their works published and even expanding our reach globally.  I have about 4 children’s books I’m working on for this year and hope to have them all available before Christmas.