BOOKS TO WATCH OUT FOR!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Interview with J.R. Hauptman, Author of The Target


J.R. Hauptman, author of The Target; Love, Death and Airline Deregulation, has been a professional pilot for nearly a half century. Barely twenty years old, he began as a military pilot and for almost two years he flew combat support missions in the Viet Nam War. Upon leaving military service he was hired by a major airline and was initially based on the West Coast. His flying career was interrupted by the turmoil that racked the airline industry during the early days of deregulation. In the interim, he worked as a travel agent, a stockbroker and even trained dogs and horses. In the late nineteen-eighties, he returned to aviation, flying jet charters and air freight. He concluded his career flying corporate jets and now spends his summers in Colorado and winters in Florida. He is completing his second work, a non-fictional social commentary. Autographed copies of The Target are available at his marketing website, www.caddispublishing.com. It is also available through Xlibris, Amazon and other internet marketers.


Welcome to The Writer's Life, J.R. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

J.R.: I am currently on a medical leave from active flying and busily pursuing my career as a professional writer. My wife and I divide our year between Colorado and Florida because she suffers from asthma that is greatly aggravated by the cold, dry Colorado winters. We have one grown daughter who has blessed us with four artistically and athletically gifted grandchildren. I am a cancer survivor and active physically, endeavoring to maintain my current state of good health and believing completely that each day of our lives is a gift and to be treated gratefully as such. I began writing seriously in the early nineteen-seventies by submitting social and political commentary to the local newspaper opinion pages. I was very surprised recently when I discovered a lost folder bulging with newspaper clippings; I had no idea I had been so prolific. Later, during periods of airline labor strife, I wrote articles for our local union newsletter.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

J.R.: My book, The Target, is set in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West and tells the tale of the tumultuous first years of airline deregulation and the effects it had on that industry and the people who worked there. There are many of us today who believe it was, in large part, the rush to overall deregulation back then that led directly to the economic chaos that threatens to overwhelm our entire economy today.


In the nineteen-eighties, Carlo Clemenza was known as “the most hated man” in the airline business, as described by some pundits. A dedicated corporate raider and union buster, Clemenza used ruthless tactics to crush competing airlines and to bring airline workers to heel. His methods have earned him death threats, yet he struts with arrogance, surrounded by his cadre of security toughs. Thousands of airline professionals are forced to start their careers over or to find them at a sudden and complete end. The airline grapevine echoes the cry, “Why doesn’t someone kill that SOB?”


Only one pilot, angered by the deaths of his friends in a bloody crash, takes up the chase and he makes Carlo Clemenza The Target! His quest takes him to the far corners of the country as he finds himself also to be the object of pursuit and murder. The characters merge in spectacular action and settings and the story ultimately ends in redemption.


The inspiration for writing “The Target” came from my personal experience as an Army Aviator in Viet Nam and flying as a professional pilot for the airlines, in jet airfreight and in corporate aviation, as well as working as a securities broker, travel agent and other odds jobs I performed between flying jobs, just to make ends meet. The story links directly to current events where deregulation of the securities and banking industries has led to the nearly total breakdown of our economic system.

What kind of research was involved in writing The Target; Love, Death and Airline Deregulation?

J.R.: Most of the story line of The Target came from my own life experience and from the stories of other airline pilots who dealt with corporate raiders and endured the hardship and heartbreak of bankruptcy, career loss and starting all over from the bottom. Several contemporary books, mostly from the economic perspective, were published and some were based on the more notorious raiders. I did research several of these to develop the plot. To understand the view points of many airline employees and to see a rogue’s gallery, visit the YouTube page, Worst Airline CEO’s.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

J.R.: It was a “piece of cake,” really! Well actually, The Target took nearly twenty years to complete, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t know how it would turn out. I developed the concept and wrote the first three or four chapters in a “fury” in the few weeks before my return to professional aviation. When I completed those chapters, I sent out about thirty query letters to the major publishers and agents. I received the customary twenty rejections, the most interesting being from two agents who were quite indignant that I would write about a disgruntled ex-pilot who sets out to whack his boss. Hadn’t they heard of murder mysteries? As it was to be, my life experiences over the next twenty years in the nether world of aviation provided more than ample material to develop and complete the book.


Once I returned to flying, the hardest part was finding time, more so, finding the energy to write creatively. I had no more landed a charter job and completed initial training and the airline folded. I found another charter job in Las Vegas and once again I just finished retraining and a better offer from an airfreight operator came through. I hated to leave on such short notice, but at these levels of aviation, you soon learn to play by the “laws of the jungle.” Lucky for me, the Vegas line also folded within a year.

Flying night airfreight turned out to be a “jungle” of its own, but the money was good and I was grateful for the opportunity. I was also fortunate to make steadfast friends there, many of whom were like me, refugees from deregulation with its bankruptcies and hostile takeovers. We used to joke that flying night freight and camping out in our “crash pads” was not unlike our combat experiences in Viet Nam. By the time I hit mandatory retirement age, at sixty, I had managed to develop my story line and had a realistic climax in mind. I suppose it was a convenient form of writer’s block that kept me from completing my first draft at that time but once again I had to go through training on the corporate jets I now flew for my new employer. It wasn’t until a medical condition occurred a few years later that I was to face that the end of my flying days was probably in sight. Finishing this book had become one of my main lifetime goals and the truth was, that even though I might never realize a financial return from writing, I had to do it while I could afford to do so, and before I became entangled in another career. I adopted a program of disciplined writing, having goals built around word and page counts and managed to attain that state of writing “fury” that characterized my first efforts. By the time I finished the story, self-publishing was in full bloom and it seemed to be the best avenue for a first-time unknown author.


For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

J.R.: I chose to self publish since traditional agents and publishers are somewhat contemptuous of first-time authors. I settled on Xlibras to self-publish The Target and ironically, this came after I was rejected by another company that had tentatively given their acceptance nearly two years past. Despite the fact that I wrote The Target as a novel and that all characters and situations were fictitious, they turned me down at the last minute, claiming they feared possible legal liability. Fortunately, Xlibras exhibited more literary fortitude and agreed to publish my book, stating unofficially that the notoriety might increase sales. Ideally, Xlibris could have your manuscript published within ninety days, but I would say the average lead time would be about six months. The Target took more than a year, because of the problem of finding the right editor to produce a professional quality book.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

J.R.: Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book Promotion is my agent for internet book promotion. I engaged a publicist for a time but it proved to be excessively expensive and the results were disappointing. The fact is that in this awful economy, the major agents and publishers will only take a chance on a proven author, a politician or a celebrity.

Do you plan subsequent books?

J.R.: I have plans for at least two more major works: one is political and will require more extensive research. It will be built around the concept of The Constitutional Commonwealth and Twenty-First Century Populism and based on the writings of the mid-Twentieth Century conservative, Reinhold Niebuhr, as well as modern writers Ron Paul and Andrew Basevich.

The other will be titled Romancing the Grey Lady; Surfing the Atlantic and Greeting Life’s Certainty. It will be very personal and contemplate how we can live our lives to the fullest in our remaining days on this Earth.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

J.R.: We have a townhome in Colorado and a condo in Florida and in both homes I have created the best workspace possible with computer, desk and the surrounding walls covered with my favorite aviation and surfer art. I think the most important components are a well designed and constructed office chair and good music. The music should not be distracting, although I sometimes like surf music to put me in the California mood of my young days in the airlines. It’s tough to write on the beach, but I carry a pen and pad there to record the most striking impressions. “The glare of the hazy winter sun on the gale-swept sea brings forth the vision of hammered, polished copper.” Corny maybe, but with a couple dozen scraps like this, I can build a decent paragraph.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

J.R.: With a few million I could hire a publicity firm with offices on both Left and Right Coasts, put Dorothy permanently on my payroll to handle the internet along with a ghost writer to do my blogs. But then, I’m not certain I would reach my ultimate goal of becoming a highly respected professional writer by developing the necessary skills along with the rewarding bumps and bruises of experience. I don’t believe money is the answer.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

J.R.: It certainly is an important component and at the present I am focusing online mostly with the virtual tour. I still try not to neglect my market of active and retired airline personnel. Coincidently, I have started to interface the online tour with the aviators; I invite my paid customers to write reviews and I don’t feel bad about blasting tour links to those who haven’t bought to keep my face and The Target in front of them.

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

J.R.: I would have to say “fear of rejection;” even so called “writer’s block” can probably be attributed to this. If we put off writing, we manage to put off that ultimate rejection. We have to face the fact that rejection is simply part of our game. In sales, we were trained to celebrate rejection because each time we were turned down brought us closer to the ultimate sale.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

J.R.: I have been blessed to live a full and experientially rewarding life and to write a major story about it. To those who have not lived that Big Story to this point, begin writing the small stories of life that come to you, starting with today!

Thank you for your interview, J.R. I wish you much success!

J.R.: It has been my pleasure to be with you today and I thank you for the opportunity to discuss my book.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dog Days of Summer Book Giveaway!

July Authors Book Giveaway



July heat got you beat? Sit in the shade with one of the many books we are giving away in our Dog Days of Summer Book Giveaway Extravaganza!

Pump Up Your Book Promotion is hosting our second humungous book giveaway. Nine great authors with 22 chances to win!

All you have to do is head on out to one of the blogs listed below and follow directions to win. It’s that easy!

The Book Faery Reviews is giving away a copy of Nancy Thayer's women's fiction novel, Summer House! Click here to enter.

The Unadorned Book Review is giving away a copy of David Liss' historical thriller, The Devil's Company! Click here to enter.

Diary of an Eccentric is giving away a copy of Alan Furst's spy thriller, The Spies of Warsaw! Click here to enter.

Luxury Reading is giving away a copy of David Liss' historical thriller, The Devil's Company! Click here to enter.

Cafe of Dreams is giving away a copy of Jon Meacham's biography, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House! Click here to enter.

The Eclectic Book Hoarder is giving away a copy of David Liss' historical thriller, The Devil's Company! Click here to enter.

This Book for Free is giving away a copy of Angus Munro's memoir, A Full House - But Empty! Click here to enter.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away a copy of Nancy Thayer's women's fiction novel, Summer House! Click here to enter.

Pages Turned is giving away a copy of Jon Meacham's biography, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House! Click here to enter.

A Journey of Books is giving away a copy of David Liss' historical thriller, The Devil's Company! Click here to enter.

Chic Book Chick is giving away a copy of Nancy Thayer's women's fiction, Summer House! Click here to enter.

Cafe of Dreams is giving away a copy of Angus Munro's memoir, A Full House - But Empty! Click here to enter.

Cafe of Dreams is giving away a copy of J.R. Hauptman's The Target! Click here to enter!

Bermudaonion is giving away a copy of Jon Meacham's biography, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House! Click here to enter.

The Unadorned Book Review is giving away a copy of T. Katz's Miss L'eau! Click here to enter.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away a copy of Jon Meacham's biography, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House! Click here to enter.

Luxury Reading is giving away a copy of David Liss' historical thriller, The Devil's Company! Click here to enter!

Medieval Bookworm is giving away a copy of Jon Meacham's biography, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House! Click here to enter.

Books and Needlepoint is giving away a copy of Susan Chodakiewitz's children's picture book, Too Many People For One Little House! Click here to enter.

Medieval Bookworm is giving away a copy of Alan Furst's spy thriller, The Spies of Warsaw! Click here to enter.

A Journey of Books is giving away a copy of David Liss' historical thriller, The Devil's Company! Click here to enter.

Fictionary is giving away a copy of Alan Furst's spy thriller, The Spies of Warsaw! Click here to enter.

5stars



9 great authors, 22 chances to win! Hurry before contests end!

Romantic Elements Make the Story by Kim Smith

Romantic Elements Make the Story
by Kim Smith

Every romance has to have certain elements that classify it as a romance. Some aspiring authors might be interested in knowing what they are, so here is what I know:

1. Characters that have emotional baggage, but who are in the story for love, and the focus is that love through the whole book.
2. Some event occurs that creates a chasm and bubbling conflict (conflict is a good thing!)
3. Happy endings. Everyone wants life to be good in the end.

When writing a romance, you do not have to plan on writing a long work. There are plenty of publishers out there who will accept shorter versions. A Will to Love is just over 16,000 words, which makes it a short novelette and can be read in one sitting. Most people like that in electronically published works.

All books must have a beginning, middle, and end, but not all books have romance as the main thrust of the story. In romance, if the love story can be taken out and the story survives without it, you really don’t have a true romance.

Sex is nice if you use it as a means of exhibiting real emotion and connection between the characters and not as some phony way to put them in bed. Believe me, readers know the difference!

Kim Smith is the hostess for the popular radio show, Introducing WRITERS! Radio show on Blog Talk Radio. She is also the author of the zany, Shannon Wallace mystery series available now from Red Rose Publishing and also the new romance novel, A Will to Love. You can visit Kim’s website at www.mkimsmith.com.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Interview with Carolyn Wada, Author of For Cory's Sake

Carolyn Wada is the oldest of seven children raised by two wonderful, supportive parents. She has a deep interest in children's issues. In particular, she is interested in supporting organizations that help child survivors of abuse. Royalties from For Cory's Sake will be donated to organizations that provide services to abused, neglected or exploited children.

More information on Carolyn's book can be found at www.outskirtspress.com/ForCorysSake.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Carolyn. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I am the oldest of seven children raised happily and well in Hawaii. One of my favorite childhood activities was to make up stories and/or characters, and I never did grow out of this tendency. For Cory's Sake was my first long and intensive writing project. I worked on it for about six years, throughout most of my late twenties.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

For Cory's Sake is a fantasy about a group of people who are trying to save an enslaved world. The focus is on one family in this group. The father of the family is a rebel who publishes protests against the current regime and is punished for this activity. His compassion and courage eventually attract a valuable ally. The family and their friend struggle onward: making choices, taking risks and accepting difficult consequences. In the end, they learn how to gain freedom by conquering fear—all for Cory's sake.

There is some symbolism in For Cory's Sake. When I was revising it, I was also worrying about a “real world” problem. My real world thoughts worked themselves (subtly, deliberately subtly) into my work of fiction. Then, I decided to publish For Cory's Sake as a chance to do something about my real world concern. All my royalties are donated to organizations that provide services to abused, neglected or exploited children. (See my website below for more information about this aspect)

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

I've been working a stressful, full-time retail job for as long as I've been working on For Cory's Sake, and for years this was like having two full-time jobs.

Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

A sales sheet, current press release, cover image and author photo are available at http://www.pre-invasionconspiracy.info/uploads/Press_Material.pdf

Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?
I have had no speaking engagements about my book and currently have none planned.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I do not have an agent. I would like to have an agent. The agent would need to be sympathetic to the “cause” aspect of my book project, however, because that was the deciding factor in Cory being published in the first place.

Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

This book tour is my big promotional campaign.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I have two stories ready to be written out. The first is the love story of William and Melissa Bentler, the parents of the main family in For Cory's Sake. The second is a sequel to For Cory's Sake, from the perspective of the adopted Coryan son of one of the Bentlers.

Thank you for your interview, Carolyn. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

My book can be purchased on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. It is available to bookstores through Ingram and to libraries through Baker & Taylor.

For Cory's Sake Official Webpage: http://www.outskirtspress.com/ForCorysSake
“Cause” website: http://www.pre-invasionconspiracy.info
I blog at: http://www.forcoryssake.blogspot.com
I tweet at: http://www.twitter.com/ForCorysSake

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Interview with NY Times Bestselling Author Nancy Thayer, Author of Summer House

Nancy Thayer is the author of nineteen novels, including Summer House, The Hot Flash Club series, Moon Shell Beach, Stepping, and Three Women At The Water's Edge. Her books concern the mysteries and romance of families and relationships and the humorous adventures of growing older. In 2008, Redbook magazine chose her novel Moon Shell Beach for their “Hot Summer Read.” She has lived on Nantucket Island for twenty-five years with her husband Charley Walters. They have two children and two grandchildren. Her new novel, Summer House, was published by Ballantine Books on June 23, 2009, the same day her daughter Samantha Wilde’s first novel, This Little Mommy Stayed Home, was published by Bantam Dell. Nancy’s website is www.nancythayer.com. You can sign up for her newsletter there.

Thank you for this interview, Nancy. Can you tell us what your latest book, Summer House, is all about?

Nancy: Thank you! Summer House is about three generations of women who face turning points in their lives during one summer when the large, fortunate Wheelwright family gathers at their summer house on Nantucket.

Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?


Nancy: This is my nineteenth published novel. The writing experience was different because this time around I had a contract, and an editor whom I adore, not to mention a deadline! Oh, yes, and my children are grown and out of the house! But in many ways Summer House is as close to my heart as my first novel was. I’m older now, too, and could write from the point of view of women 90, 60, and 30.

How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

Nancy: I’ve been thinking about these characters, especially Nona, who is a bit like my own mother, for years, and I used some of the letters my father wrote my mother during WWII in the novel, so I knew what I wanted to do. I don’t actually get writer’s block—but I do delete lots of material. I find I’m always able to write, but a lot of it is just awful and gets deleted, or I go down the wrong path and have to start over. I am incapable of just sitting and waiting and then writing it all perfectly the first time. I write. Then I have to be sure to let it “cool,” then I read it critically, and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

Nancy: So far, the response has been great. The really funny experiences have come with the Hot Flash Club novels, which are humorous, perhaps because the older I get, the funnier life seems. Summer House deals with some serious issues like alcoholism and family secrets. I’m getting wonderful emails from people who say the book touches their lives and is meaningful to them. Those emails mean so much to me.

What is your daily writing routine?

Nancy: I write every day except Sunday. I wake around 7, make a cup of coffee, and go to my study. I work for about 5 hours, and I return in the afternoon to answer email, etc. When I’m in the red hot middle of a book, it drives me crazy to have to stop, but I’ve found over the years that anything I write after about 5 hours I ended up tossing.

When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

Nancy: Movement helps me make the transition from the fictional world to the real one. Often I jump on my exercise bike, blast some rock ‘n roll on my CD player, and bike for at least 30 minutes. Or if my back and shoulders hurt, as they often do after hours of typing, I lie down and listen to quiet music. Music really helps clear my brain and restores me.

What book changed your life?

Nancy: Oh, my—I’d have to say all the books I read when I was a child. Dr. Doolittle, Alice in Wonderland, Nancy Drew—I read voraciously as a child and by the time I was in 6th grade, I was writing short stories. I knew very early in my life that reading and writing were my passion.

If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

Nancy: Well, no one has asked me this before!  I guess it would be “To the Stars through Difficulty.” I lived in Kansas the first 20 years of my life, and that is the Kansas State Motto. It is a good adage to base a life on, I think. It’s very optimistic, but also realistic. No one has a life without difficulties, and if there’s one thing a writer needs, it’s perseverance. To be a writer means to write and work and get rejected, then write and work and get rejected, and do it all over again—and someday to succeed.

On the other hand, that motto is a little pompous, more suited to a politician than a writer.
So let’s go with: Pretty Lucky.

Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

Nancy: . . .that I believe in something else, something more, because the synchronicity between life and fiction is dynamic and playful and as real as the earth beneath my feet.

Thank you for this interview, Nancy . I wish you much success on your latest release,
Summer House!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Spotlight: GRACIOUS LIVING ON SOCIAL SECURITY


Gracious Living is an easy-to-read decade-long journey that offers tips and suggestions on how senior citizens can stretch their dollar and get the most for their money. Eleven chapters cover every important aspect of living together, from the wedding preparations to where to live. Key considerations follow each chapter for quick reference: considerations like where and when to buy clothing, choosing a place to live and juggling your finances. Artist Jeff Nitzberg adds his unique touch with original drawings introducing each chapter.

Excerpt:


We all aspire to the many extras which supposedly make our lives more enjoyable. For some, the list is headed up by second cars, designer clothing, even dining out regularly in expensive restaurants. Where cash is scarce, it demands real discipline to examine spending patterns and determine just what we truly need, then prioritize whatever we merely want. Because money is one of the central issues in any marriage, retiring on a fixed income is likely to increase rather than reduce unavoidable tension over it. Careful planning and thoughtful shopping can help. This can reduce costs (even if our economy worsens) and thereby free up funds for luxuries further down everybody’s wish list. The discipline to follow through with a mutually-agreed-on plan, once made, is tough, but rewarding.

All this requires an investment of time: time, our most available resource. It is hard to change old habits, and an exertion of will is sometimes required to pay attention to details you never bothered about before. Joint planning, joint responsibility and joint action are vital now that you will be spending much more time together. Having that “we” approach is more important than ever to insure graceful living.

Our working years could certainly have benefited from this prescription for a happy life together, but the pressures and urgencies of raising a family and establishing a career often leave couples living quite separate lives. Each partner has had his or her own areas of responsibility, and in practice true collaboration is often lacking. Being forced to strengthen the bond of “we” during a financial squeeze may significantly improve living together in retirement by forcing the reconsideration of older, sloppier patterns.

One of the most difficult tasks is settling on those more urgent, less avoidable priorities. Dealing with the money forces decisions as to whose preference will prevail and facilitates true compromise. Inevitably somebody’s preference gets bumped off the budget. Thos fulfilled golden years are impossible without new level of mutual respect and open communication.

About the Author:

At eighty-eight, Valerie Kent is the survivor of a long lifetime spent adjusting to dramatically evolving worlds. She moved from Britain to the United States in 1933. Valerie began at the age of forty-six the drawn-out process of education - seven universities - that would generate, initially, a career as a drug and alcohol counselor for troubled women, then a decade as a celebrated college teacher and - ultimately - a final, exultant marriage. This is her story.

To learn more about Valerie and her book, visit http://www.treefarmbooks.com/.

Why you decided to write the book and what you hope to achieve with it?


"Many friends commented on how well we lived on a limited income. One, an author and publisher himself, proposed that I try to develop a short book bristling with hints and secrets as to how my younger husband Rick and I manage so well. Gracious Living on Social Security covers everything from a cut-rate wedding to how to shop for magnificent meals on a bargain-basement income and where to look for high quality and inexpensive restaurants. Also, our late-in-life remarriage might prove an inspiration to readers searching for a new start."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Interview with Technology Crime Novelist Jason Kays

Jason Kays grew up in a small logging town ninety miles northwest of Seattle, Washington. His parents and many in his immediate family -- aunts, uncles and a younger sister -- were school teachers, so there was always an emphasis placed on education as a lifelong continuing process. He enjoyed English Lit and creative writing courses during his high school and college years, majoring in English with a pre-law option as an undergraduate. He was offered a fellowship to work on his doctorate in English Lit, but had already accepted a seat in law school.

Following a judicial clerkship that involved a good deal of research and writing, he practiced appellate work for a year. This work was very taxing, as it involved representation of inmates in maximum security prisons. It led to his introduction to the Copycat Killer in the infamous Hillside Strangler trial, Veronica Compton. Compton's case garnered national press. Notoriety from this work and his growing local reputation attracted the attention of a nationally known Rock and Roll promoter. Since Kays has always been more of a frustrated jazz artist than lawyer, he jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with the impresario during the peak of Grunge music's popularity. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sound Garden and Alice in Chains are all Seattle area groups.

It was during his seven years as an entertainment attorney that a series of dramatic and colorful events and people inspired various storylines. Insight into the inner, often mob-connected, workings of the entertainment industry intrigued the young attorney. Exposure to that world necessarily entails exposure to the flesh and drug peddlers. Representatives from both camps were at saturation levels. The cocktail of youth, celebrity, sex, drugs and money resulted in excesses of epic proportion. Great fodder for fiction.

Much of this Kays will never be able to write about, due to attorney-client privilege and a general sense of self-preservation. A good deal of what transpired is fair game for fiction. It was the latter that provided the inspiration for his latest book, Virtual Vice.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Jason. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I'm an intellectual property attorney. I work in the Information Technology sector, primarily with software developers, performing trademark and copyright review and related transactional matters. Essentially, the objective is to protect the original work product of an engineer from theft by a third party. The same body of law protects an author's writing from plagiarism. Prior to that I worked in the field of entertainment law doing IP work, contract review and putting together deals. I have been around computers and technology since my childhood in the 1970's, and have always had a passion for the cutting edge of IT. That enthusiasm is reflected in my writing and will be a focal point in my next book, Mainstream. Regardless of topic or genre, I believe that in order to maintain relevance, it's essential for writers to stay current with social and technology trends. If one doesn't, the exercise becomes one of narcissism and not one of art or utility.

I've been writing creatively since childhood. Attorneys are wordsmiths by trade, so I have been writing professionally in one capacity or another all my adult life.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

In short, the book follows the rise and demise of a sociopath, Scott White, who transitions from the organized crime of the Cali Cartel to the organized crime of Wall Street. He begins his professional life as one of the largest cocaine distributors on the West Coast. When the DEA closes in, White evades apprehension and launders the drug money by founding an Information Technology startup, Metropoleis III Multimedia. Certain organized crime contingents remain silent partners in his new business. MIII is a Seattle based broadband content provider, streaming audio and video from live rock concerts to subscribers over the Internet. Although business is thriving, its CEO soon falls back to old habits, structuring MIII as a Ponzi scheme and embezzling from investors. When White is found out, he flees Washington for Arizona and mounts a similar scam. As external scrutiny, and civil and criminal suits mount, CEO White begins to come unhinged, as do his progressively more crazed and bizarre business ventures. Targeting the Sedona market, he attempts to tap into the New Age zeitgeist. After several false starts, he uses his broadband media delivery system to back an equally opportunistic religious huckster in peddling a New Age theology to the masses via the Internet. The cybervangelists garner the attention of a global press for all the wrong reasons. The klieg lights quickly put White's silent partners ill-at-ease and all hell breaks loose.

The book is creative non-fiction and 85% factual. It was inspired by my representation as a lawyer of a most unpleasant client during an eighteen month period. That period was followed by five years of intermittent pro bono work with various law enforcement agencies to hold him accountable to investors he had defrauded. This effort, while saving would-be investors millions in losses, did not stop him from running his Ponzi schemes. He continues to this day, active in the Huntington Beach, California, area, having partnered with a real estate developer. Ironically, they are currently planning deployment of a New Age church in Hawaii.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

The distillation of an intertwined sequence of life events that culminated in a civil trial was tough to translate to fiction while maintaining continuity and focus. The book deals with facets of both the entertainment and IT industries, a Ponzi scheme and a protagonist defined by a complex sociopathology. Breaking real life events and players down to basic elements, then highlighting the defining attributes of each was the goal. In most instances, I believe I succeeded. It took several edits to get there.

Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

Yes, but not in the traditional sense. Concurrent with publication, I had a marketing team prepare 4"x6" note cards, bookmarks and business cards, all incorporating the book's original art. I also had the team craft promotional copy of varying length: one sentence, one paragraph and multi-paragraph synopses. In August I will have this same team issue a press release via a targeted distribution service to dovetail with the virtual book tour currently in progress. A different team of people prepared a fairly sophisticated book trailer that will go live mid-July. The press release and promotional copy can be used in a traditional press kit, but I have found that as marketing and sales models change, so do the elements comprising a press kit. Today there is far less demand for a conventional press kit than, say, ten years ago. I do invite the press to contact me on my website, as well as feature a page devoted to the press and separate page listing upcoming events.

Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

I did a ninety-minute May 29th interview for Podioracket.com -- the sister site to Podiobooks that profiles authors with recently released audiobooks. I believe the interview can be found archived on their website. It was an enjoyable interview and has been well received. I have intentionally held off on more radio and television interviews until elevating the book's profile through this book tour and a conventional press release campaign. They will come, though. I think it's important to have built a certain momentum and presence before hitting broader demographics and larger audiences.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Interest was expressed by a prominent literary agent in representation, but this was contingent on my making the novel entirely non-fiction, something I was unwilling to do. This made me even more determined to see that the book reached an audience on my terms. To help towards that end, in addition to offering the book on Amazon and through four other e-tailers, I released the work as an audiobook. May 2009 it was the second most popular download on Podiobooks.com, with 8000 downloads in 4 days, and remained on their top ten list for six weeks, so it appears that it's finding that audience.

It's highly unlikely a first time author will land a literary agent. It seldom happens. Having an agent helps, but is not essential. More and more authors are going it their own without an agent and are being met with a good deal of success.

Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

Yes, there was a carefully planned marketing campaign. Some of the key elements were as follows:

Dedicated book website: A website structured around branding your new book is one of the most effective, if not the most effective, marketing techniques available to the author. When a prospective buyer pulls up Amazon's website, with over a million titles available for purchase, what are the odds your title will cross their monitor? You need a conduit to direct the reader to your Amazon product page, and the most effective conduit is a website dedicated to exploration of your book.

Blog: When I began formulating my marketing campaign, my understanding was that blogs were passé and had reached market saturation levels. Both assumptions are true, but, oddly, blogs remain a very effective marketing tool. The blog, like one's website, must be updated regularly in order to attain a high ranking on popular search engines. In my experience, Wordpress, an open source software suite of tools and webhost, offers the most effective platform upon which to reach a large audience. There is a learning curve, but much of it is intuitive if you possess average software fluency.

Podiobooks: Most people, even liberal minded artists, like to be paid for their work product; therefore, it goes against human nature to give away one's prose or verse. Now is the time to set aside that instinct and fully embrace your inner Karl Marx. Podiobooks.com has yielded NYT acclaimed authors with major publishing deals out of complete unknowns.

Video trailer: This is a hot new trend in book marketing and a highly effective one. The video trailer is not unlike the preview for motion pictures seen in theaters. It's a multimedia presentation of the synopsis or theme of your book. Think of it as an elevator pitch directed at a prospective reader.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes. A novel focusing on the shifting roles of sexuality and erotica in American culture with the introduction of the Internet. How erotica made the Net commercially viable and drives much of the innovation in ecommerce and technology today. A look at the colorful pioneers in this market sector and how they left irrelevant the Hugh Hefners, Bob Gucciones and Larry Flynts of the world.

Thank you for your interview, Jason. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

They can purchase the book directly from Amazon or from the book's website: http://www.virtualvice.net. I have additional writings under the musings section of the website and on my blog: http://www.virtualvice.us.

Thank you to the readers for your interest, and to The Writer's Life for being such a tremendous asset to the literary community.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Interview with Alan Furst, Author of The Spies of Warsaw

Alan Furst is widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel. Now translated into seventeen languages, he is the bestselling author of Night Soldiers, Dark Star, The Polish Officer, The World at Night, Red Gold, Kingdom of Shadows, Blood of Victory, Dark Voyage, and The Foreign Correspondent. Born in New York, he now lives in Paris and on Long Island. You can visit his website at www.alanfurst.net.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Alan. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Alan: I’m a lifer; I started at age 11—published in the literary journal of my Manhattan elementary school. From then, I haven’t stopped. Failed now and then, but never stopped. I simply wouldn’t know what else to do with myself.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Alan: The Spies of Warsaw is my military attaché novel. In a ten-book series placed in the inter-war years and early WWII, I’ve used as main characters film producers, journalists, General Staff military officers, owner of an ad agency in Paris, etc. This book is about how Germany made clear what it was going to do, the military attaché in the French Embassy in Warsaw sees it, but he is not believed. We all know what happened next.

What kind of research was involved in writing The Spies of Warsaw?

Alan: My research was focused on books written by military intellectuals before the war (DeGaulle, Guderian), on histories about the run-up to the German attacks, on the history of Silesia, both German and Polish, and on novels of the period—especially to develop an ear for intimate discourse between men and women as it was back then. Actually, I do the latter for all my books.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Alan: A writing career is never smooth sailing—it took the boat at least two years to leave port but, once it did, it’s stayed afloat. Yes, there have been icebergs and pirates and monsoons, and I’ve had to do some serious baling-out as the water rose, but, for the present, sailing okay.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

Alan: About two years and a few months, this was all scheduled from Day One, and I’m always published in early June, hard-cover one year, trade paperback the next.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Alan: I have a very good agent, and I believe it’s absolutely necessary these days, if not always. But I would point out I did not have an agent when I started, so there’s more ways through the woods than one.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Alan: I’ve got three on the boards as I write this—I’m actually making notes for the next and even researching a little.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

Alan: I am blessed—I have a studio in a re-done (not much) 1937 garage behind my house.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

Alan: I’ve always wondered what might happen for me if I were advertised on television. That is most assuredly the first thing I would do, because of that media’s sheer reach.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Alan: I’ve been on tour—3 weeks and 9 cities—and I’ve been promoting on-line. Promotion is publishing is crucial, and I will do absolutely anything I can.

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

Alan: I never gave up though I went through some extremely hard times. I think when writers feel they have a true vocation; they really don’t care what happens to them. When I moved to Paris, I wondered if I might starve to death in the street. But then I thought, that’s not so bad, some terrific people have done exactly that, so I’ll just be one more.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Alan: Don’t ever quit. If you really believe, really really believe that you have something to offer; sooner or later something will happen.

Thank you for your interview, Alan. I wish you much success!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Interview with Susan Chodakiewitz, Author of Too Many Visitors for One Little House

Susan Chodakiewitz is a writer, composer and producer. She is the founder of Booksicals Children’s Books- Encouraging the love of reading through the arts. Through her company Booksicals she has created the Booksicals on Stage literacy program which is currently presenting musical performances of the picture book Too Many Visitors for One Little House at schools, libraries, and special events.

Susan lives in Los Angeles in a lively household filled with music, three sons, a husband, a Dalmatian and lots of visitors. Susan loves picture books and when she wrote a musical based on one of her favorites, she realized it was time to start writing her own picture books. Too Many Visitors for One Little House is Susan’s debut book. You can visit her website at www.booksicals.com.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Susan. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?


I started out writing and composing and producing musical theater. One day I was browsing in the “grown-up” section of the bookstore researching some material for a musical I was writing and the book -- Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market -- caught my eye. Though it was unrelated to what I was looking for I got a flash –- I NEED THIS BOOK. I bought the book and lovingly cradled it home.

I got home and the pressure to get to work on music, re-writes and lyrics for my upcoming staged reading overwhelmed me. I shelved the book and forgot about it … for about 5 years.

My Ah Ha moment arrived one day in 2005 while writing a children’s musical based on a picture book. The option for the book ran out and I was not able to renegotiate it. A little voice inside that had remained perfectly quiet until now suddenly called out to me… “It’s time!” I of course ran to my bookshelf and realized my 1999 version of Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market was way out of date. I ordered a new copy and started my journey into the world of writing children’s books.

I’ve been writing children’s books for the last 4 years. From writing musical theater to writing children’s picture books feels like a very natural transition.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?


Too Many Visitors for One Little House
is based on the wild and crazy summer that my family moved into our new house in Beverly Hills and all these visitors came to stay.

First my sister drove in from Miami in a GIANT camper with her husband, four kids, and housekeeper. For a surprise they brought my parents and uncle from Russia.

Then I got a call from my sister-in-law in Houston. She was getting a divorce and was moving to LA. She and the 3 kids needed a place to stay until she found a new house. She arrived with 3 children and a housekeeper.

Soon after that my mother-in-law got out of the hospital. She moved in -- together with her nurse.

All together 23 people lived in our house that summer. Every evening the invaders… oops, sorry… visitors -- would congregate on the front lawn. On occasion my uncle from Russia led the group in a Russian folk song. On some nights my dad joined in with Klezmer on the clarinet.

Our formerly quiet little neighborhood buzzed with music, noise from children at play, and the barking of a scraggly dog -- who adopted our family that summer too. Our not-so-quiet little house began to bust at the seams. On various occasions the neighbors summoned the police to check out the “suspicious activity” at the house of the new family on the block!

I always thought I would write this story as a screen play or musical yet sixteen years later it finally manifested itself as the children’s picture book.

What kind of research was involved in writing Too Many Visitors for One Little House?

I did not do any research for this book. The experience I had that summer was indelibly ingrained in my mind and I basically summoned my sensory memories.

I draw a lot of my inspiration for writing from my lively and somewhat crazy household. There is so much humor in family life, especially raising 3 sons and having a Desi Arnaz for a husband. Sometimes I disappear in the middle of a family happening to jot down the idea for story.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

Wearing both the hat of author and publisher, I had input in every aspect of the book from cover and illustrations to book design, including which font to use. Working closely with the illustrator taught me so much about the writing process and I’m sure will help me in the future with character development.

Before even getting to the design of the book I worked very closely with illustrator Veronica Walsh to develop the characters sketches. We had long conversations about the back story of each character, their personality quirks dressing style, pet peeves, flaws and weaknesses. Veronica sent me multiple character drafts.

The cover was the last thing we tackled. Veronica submitted various ideas for the cover. We toyed with a few, vacillated from focusing on the family, the house, the neighbors, the camper and other ideas until we fell in love with the cover that we currently have.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

I wrote my first picture book together with my niece Lauren Grabois, a writer and elementary school teacher. Lauren and I both had quirky Beta fish. My fish—Jaws -- was anorexic and would spit up its food. Lauren’s fish-- Mr. Blueberry-- was paranoid and would hide under his rock and not come out for days. This became the basis for our first picture book: Mr. Blueberry and the Fish From Down the Street. We pitched Mr. Blueberry to several publishers but only got rejections. Feeling discouraged I decided to embark on a new project.

When I got the inspiration to write Too Many Visitors for One Little House I blurted it out in one sitting. Then I spent one year re-writing and revising. Then at an SCBWI conference in Los Angeles, I got encouraging feedback from Editor Allyn Johnston who was at Harcourt at the time. She pinpointed exactly how I could improve the story and helped me to clarify the point of view. After I made revisions Harcourt ended up passing on the story. I was very disappointed but my resolve strengthened. I believed that the story had heart.

I sent out the story to a few more publishing companies but in the back of my mind I was already formulating the idea for starting my company Booksicals. I received several more rejection letters in the meantime.

I turned for advice to a former NY editor who now has a free-lance company called Picture Book People. I sent her several of my stories and asked her to advise me: If I were to self publish which story she thought was worth the effort. She read the stories and replied that in her opinion Too Many Visitors for One Little House was a strong story with the most potential.

One day I saw my business partner’s Phyllis Zimbler Miller’s newly released book, Mrs. Lieutenant in print. I KNEW … I had to go for it! A few weeks later I decided to make the plunge to publish Too Many Visitors for One Little House through my own company -- Booksicals.

I totally enjoyed the publishing process I went through with Too Many Visitors and especially enjoyed working with illustrator Veronica Walsh. However the process requires a lot of self-discipline and attention to detail.

I am pretty ruthless when it comes to self-critique and I think I am able to detach myself enough to be objective about things that aren’t working. I rely a lot on the critique from my business partner Phyllis Zimbler Miller and on the feedback from my smart and creative sons whose artistic eyes and ears I trust implicitly.

To have your own publishing company one has to be ready to take artistic control, market, promote and do everything it takes to be successful. With my background in theater and producing I felt I was ready to take the plunge. Having your creative destiny in your own hands is very exhilarating and I’m thrilled to have decided to forge ahead with Booksicals.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

I wrote the actual story out in one sitting. Then I spent about a year revising and re-writing to get it to the level where I would consider publishing it.

Once the decision to publish was made it took about one year from the time I started working with the illustrator before the book was released.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I have never had an agent. At the beginning when I was querying to publishers I also queried agents. I think it makes a huge difference having an agent. But as everyone knows, agents look for success or previous history of success… If you are a new writer it’s a catch 22. For me personally at this point, I don’t think having an agent is by top priority though I would welcome the interest of an agent who loves my work.

Do you plan subsequent books?


I plan to do a sequel to Too Many Visitors for One Little House featuring the family on El Camino Street and starring the scraggly dog. I’m holding a contest so my readers can help me name the dog for the next book. Readers can enter the Name the Dog Contest at www.booksicals.com.

I’m currently working on a new book about a dog named Dogstoyevsky. Dogstoyevsky wants desperately to be a great writer but can’t seem to find his own artistic style. It’s a story about believing in your self. Is it autobiographical? I’ll let you decide.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I am an -- any-time- I can-get-to-the writing -- writer! Though I am very much a morning person and am frustrated all day (my husband has another adjective for this) if I don’t get to write – especially if I’m in the middle of something.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?


A huge publicity firm. I’d also hire a staff that could work for me 5 days a week – and a personal assistant.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Self promoting is not unique to book marketing. It applies to EVERYTHING.

What have I been doing? Active on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, blogging, and doing a virtual book tour for starters. I have several list of on and off-line promotional projects that I will get to after this book tour.

I’ve also created a theatrical division of Booksicals called Booksicals on Stage and formed the Booksicals Repertory Company which is performing the book in schools, libraries and at literacy events. I am hoping to work with sponsors to bring Booksicals performances to pediatric hospitals and underprivileged children.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Like Dogstoyevsky from my upcoming book… you need to believe in yourself. Believe in your story. If it needs work, re-write. Be relentless with your dreams and aspirations. Never take NO for an answer. “El mundo es de los osados” is my favorite quote. It means “the world is for those who dare.”

I am always fighting those evil “fear monsters” --- fear of failing, fear of not having any more ideas, fear that I’m not any good. Whatever the fear of the day is -- I keep my keeping my passion for writing strong and it helps me keep going.

Thank you for your interview, Susan. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

The book is available at www.amazon.com.

Visit with the characters of Too Many Visitors and get Nanny’s apple strudel recipe at www.toomanyvisitorsforonelittlehouse.com

Visit www.booksicals.com to learn about how Booksicals promotes a love for reading through the arts.

You can also find me @susanchodak on Twitter, and on Facebook and Linkedin.

I look forward to your comments on my blog at http://www.booksicals.com/blog

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

10 Things Most People Don't Know About Children's Book Author T. Katz

Yesterday we had a wonderful interview with T. Katz, author of the children's chapter book, Miss L'eau. Today, T. is back with a great guest post telling us ten things people don't know about her. Enjoy!

10 Things Most People Don't Know About Children's Book Author T. Katz

1. T. Katz writes because it is the most socially acceptable form of talking to one's self. People don't look at you and wonder why all those colorful, totally made-up stories are coming out of your mouth and you never have to worry about the cat walking away mid-sentence.
2. T. Katz wished she could have had an adventure at the base of a lighthouse like the kids in her children's chapter book, Miss L'eau, and always wanted to buy one to turn into an apartment with a fire pole running from top to bottom right in the center.
3. When T. Katz was a child, someone told her that the President of the United States liked to eat his cottage cheese with ketchup and so she has done so ever since. Whether or not she liked it was irrelevant.
4. T. Katz can whistle probably louder than anyone on the planet and hopes the Book of World Records will call her to prove it.
5. T. Katz wonders why nobody has ever made a needlepoint pillow with a big N'T and the international symbol for no over it, because she knows her music students would accomplish so much more if they eliminated words like can't, don't, won't and didn't from their vocabulary. In fact, T. Katz thinks we could all do more if those words were used only when absolutely necessary.
6. T. Katz has not only planned the invitation list for her Fantasy Dinner Party (including guests like Mark Twain, Betty Smith, Diablo Cody, A.J. Jacobs and others) she has actually formulated and prepared the breakfast, lunch and/or dinner menu in the event the doorbell actually rings one day.
7. T. Katz is a pencil person living in a pen world and wonders why the #2 pencil gets all the love, when the softer pencils are clearly far superior.
8. T. Katz is a walking, talking typo and as a result has just gone by the initial T. for decades. Her husband says if she behaves, she might get more letters later.
9. T. Katz plays piano and finds that when she spends hours at that keyboard it takes her brain nearly ten minutes to switch over to the other keyboardand visa versa.
10. T. Katz drives a car with a license plate that says SNARKEE and occasionally, under the right circumstances, she is.

T. Katz, a resident of Southern California has been involved in the children's entertainment industry since the early 80's working on hundreds of episodes of animated television and as a music instructor to hundreds of very animated children. She is also the honorary conductor of a four-part harmony household, consisting of her two children (three if you count the spouse on a bad day) and Alice the cat. The people that surround her help her to continue seeing the world with all its magic, beauty and potential. She lives by the motto "a good book, a cup of tea and somehow all is right with the world." Her adventures in life are adding welcome lines of character to her face and scattered optimistic silver linings all over her head. You can visit her website at www.tkatz.com.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Interview with T. Katz, Author of Children's Chapter Book,Miss L'eau

T. Katz, a resident of Southern California has been involved in the children's entertainment industry since the early 80's working on hundreds of episodes of animated television and as a music instructor to hundreds of very animated children. She is also the honorary conductor of a four-part harmony household, consisting of her two children (three if you count the spouse on a bad day) and Alice the cat. The people that surround her help her to continue seeing the world with all its magic, beauty and potential. She lives by the motto "a good book, a cup of tea and somehow all is right with the world." Her adventures in life are adding welcome lines of character to her face and scattered optimistic silver linings all over her head. You can visit her website at www.tkatz.com.

We interviewed Ms. Katz to find out more about her writing life as well as what was involved in writing her new children's chapter book, Miss L'eau.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Ms. Katz. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you've been writing?


Having been involved in the children's entertainment industry since the early 80's (working on hundreds of episodes of animated television) and as a current music instructor to hundreds of very animated children - storytelling has always been a part of my world. Writing has also always been a part of my daily routine since childhood, but I started getting serious about it when I was in television production and a particularly prickly boss laughed and told me, "Girls can't write." I immediately when into my office, shut the door and started writing Miss L'eau.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Miss L'eau tells the tales of two kids in a coastal town who discover a secret about their elementary school teacher, Miss L'eau, which changes their lives forever. The kids had always known there was something unusual about her, but they could never quite put their finger on it. Even though they've have always lived near the ocean, they never thought about its importance, power and certainly never its vulnerability. Through Miss L'eau, and her unexpected relationship to the sea, they develop a love and understanding for the great body of water covering nearly 75% of the earth's surface. With their teacher's help, they become involved with a nearby aquarium and organize an annual clean-up event in their community and hope to inspire others to do the same.

Growing up in Watsonville in Northern California you're not far from the ocean, and it becomes a part of you. Watsonville is sandwiched between Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, and though it's a booming agricultural area - when you live there you're still a product of the sea. It's in your bones, all that salt air and hundreds of days of fog a year. You're practically swimming in moisture standing on the sidewalk. As a result, the sea is never far from your thoughts. Even when I moved to sunny, bone-dry Southern California's high desert I still had saltwater running in my veins. Every chance I had, I would turn my car in the direction of the nearest beach and spend as much time as I could, but seeing the ocean slurp up and spit back litter made me cry. I didn't remember seeing all that trash as a young person, so I decided to write Miss L'eau, in an effort to make young minds aware of the help our shores needed. If one page of Miss L'eau makes a reader want to investigate more about the water surrounding us, then a good deed was done.
What kind of research was involved in writing Miss L'eau?

There are so many great books and websites about the care and keeping of the ocean and importance of the water cycle that I spent months and months immersed in them, absorbing as much as I could to infuse into the story of Miss L'eau. It was my intention that even though Miss L'eau is a fictional story, it's heart would be based in fact.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

None, really, but I was happy that the artist was intrigued by the imagery in the eyes of Miss L'eau and chose to follow that theme.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

It has been a life-long journey of bumpy roads paved with rejection letters and the speed bumps that come with life, like marriage, children, illnesses and creative inertia.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

My first batch of query letters that mentioned Miss L'eau went out at the end of 2005, was accepted by an independent publisher in June of 2006 and the book was published in March of 2008.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it's necessary to have one?

At this time, I do not have an agent and am still trying to secure a date for that literary prom in the sky.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I am knee-deep in research for a teen ghost novel that weaves it way through the historic gold mining district of Northern California, a story that keeps me up at night like a melody that won't go away once it's in your head. I'm also finishing the last pages of another children's chapter book that deals with bullying and puberty.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Depending on what's happening in my life, and in my children's lives, it's scheduling that determines whether I become the dreaded night owl or the socially acceptable day light writer. I find I'm a happier, more well-balanced person making hay when the sun shines and my family prefers it, too. There are times though when the characters in your head refuse to wait until morning, no matter what, and you sacrifice that precious midnight oil.
If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

It would have to be money for planes, trains and automobiles for school visits. I really enjoy talking to kids about the message of Miss L'eau, ocean conservation and preservation and the importance of water, but it's cost-prohibitive for schools nowadays to invite an author to visit and I'd like to go anyway.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Just like the old joke about a kid having "a face only a mother could love", nobody knows and loves your book and it's characters the way the author does. Therefore, self-promotion means the author will do more for a book than the publisher can. For Miss L'eau I have been very busy contacting, via snail mail, ocean conservation organizations, aquariums and libraries and through the internet I've been maintaining as much as a social media profile as I can. I have also recently produced a Miss L'eauBook Trailer that I have on YouTube and other websites.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

The phrase, "Never, never, never give up!" may have been uttered about military conflict, but the words should be the battle cry for all warrior writers. While you may have to focus your attention on other things to keep a roof over your head and food in the refrigerator, you should not let your love of writing be stifled by feelings of inadequacy, paralyzing perfectionism or the opinions of others. The march on the road to publishing has to be a constant cycle of write, revise, submit and repeat and never, never, never give up.
Thank you for your interview, Ms. Katz. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

You can visit my website at www.TKatz.com. Miss L'eau is available now on Amazon.com and in select bookstores.