Sunday, August 30, 2009

Interview with Mainstream Fiction Author Lisa Lipkind Leibow

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

A: Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here. Before I started writing novels, I practiced law for over a decade, drafting legal briefs and memoranda much like the young attorney in my novel.

After being stuck at my office on 9/11, a month-long siege on metro Washington, DC by a sniper, and discovering that the other parents at my twins’ preschool thought my au pair was my sons’ mom, I could hear these words echoing in my ears. "If I knew this was what it was going to be like to have it all, I would have settled for less." (Lily Tomlin: The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe).

That’s when I decided to trade in the billable hour lifestyle and become a recovering attorney/aspiring novelist. Making up stories is much more fun than negotiating contracts, attending hearings, and deciphering statutes and regulations for clients.

The release of Double Out and Back is momentous, because I finally can delete “aspiring” from my title. It’s official! I’m now Lisa Lipkind Leibow, novelist.

As for how long I have been writing? I have always had a very vivid imagination and a hunger to be creative in my writing. In high school and college if I could opt for a paper instead of an exam, I’d do it. I love to research and write. Of course, for years, while I worked as an attorney, much of my writing was in legalese. Once I decided to get back to creative writing, I had to relearn how to write in English. I have been writing in English and honing my fiction-writing craft for six years, now.

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

A: I would love to tell you about my book. Here’s a blurb.

Not every woman who rides the fertility treatment roller coaster winds up like Octomom.

Who will find friends, family, and fertility?

Three women’s lives are intricately intertwined, as Amelia Schwartz and Summer Curtis struggle with the complex dynamics of intrafamily embryo adoption, and Chandy Markum strives to make her patients’ dreams a reality.

After more than a decade, of mourning her parents’ deaths, anal-retentive Amelia Schwartz decides to take control of her life, pursuing single motherhood via embryo adoption. While her fertility doctor, Chandy, is preoccupied with the destruction of the cosmopolitan Cape Town of her youth and her first love in apartheid-torn South Africa, believing all is lost, her niece, a young, married, overachieving attorney Summer Curtis, juggles zealous career ambitions, demanding bosses, and friction with her husband over family and fertility issues. They must confront the painful reality that, no matter what technology humans devise to manipulate reproduction, prolong life, and construct family units, they have not yet mastered control over their beginnings and endings.

Thrown all into this is one story that can make or break. Are you up to it?

I wrote Double Out and Back because I became curious and fascinated with the sociological and societal impacts of assisted reproductive technologies. There are so many different ways we can start families these days, ranging from good old fashioned sex, and adoption, to artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, donated eggs, sperm, or embryos. Children may grow up in homes with a mother and father, single parents, or same-sex parents. Women can give birth to babies not biologically related to them, and the list goes on. I wanted to explore these issues from a literary perspective.

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

A: The biggest challenge for me was to hone the structure of the multiple plot lines. As this was my first novel, there were times I feared I had taken on too large a task. I played around with telling Amelia’s, Summer’s, and Chandy’s stories separately, but in tandem – a trilogy. Next, I tried to force the plot into a rigid structure where I had a pattern of Amelia’s chapter, Summer’s chapter, Chandy’s chapter. When it came down to it, in the end, I let the plot unfold as it needed, without holding it to a rigid mold. I have received praise as to the way the stories are intertwined. I hope readers will enjoy the complexity of the tale.

Q: 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: Please refer to my website www.LLLeibow.com. It includes a biography, headshot, as well as a cover, blurb, video trailer, and excerpt of Double Out and Back. You will also find a contact page, information on my short stories, along with upcoming appearances and events.


Q: 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?

A: I have spoken to a couple of book clubs and I’m available to meet with or call-into interested book clubs. I plan to hold readings as part of Women in the Arts, dates to be determined. I also will be appearing at a Red Rose Publishing Book Signing on September 12th, from 1-3 p.m. in Albany, New York. So, if you’re in the Albany area, stop by at the Borders Bookstore at the Crossgates Mall. I may be featured on some blogtalk radio during my virtual book tour. I’m available for radio and television interviews. Anyone interested, feel free to contact me.

Q: 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?

A: I secured my first publishing deal as an un-agented author. However, I’m currently seeking representation for my second novel.

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

A: I like to consider the e-book release as a sneak preview. The print book will be released at a later date. So, the virtual book tour I am on this month is my media blitz. Pump Up Your Book is helping me to get the word out. By the time the print book hits distribution, I hope everyone will be waiting for Double Out and Back.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: I have several projects at various phases of development: a second novel I’m perpetually almost finished, a first draft of a young adult fantasy novel in need of my attention, and two concepts for novels in research phase.

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

A: There is no need to thank me. It was my pleasure. I really enjoyed it. The best place to buy my book is at www.RedRosePublishing.com. It is also available at All Romance, Fictionwise, Book Strand, Mobipocket, My Bookstore And More, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Readers can find me on the web at www.LLLeibow.com. There, you will find links to my blog, Lisa Leibow’s Fodder for Fiction, a group blog I write with four other fabulous authors, Roses of Prose, and options to follow me on Twitter, and join me on Facebook and Goodreads.


****
Lisa Lipkind Leibow is the author of bestselling novel Double Out and Back.

Her work has appeared in The Pisgah Review.

She lives and writes in Northern Virginia with her husband, three sons, a clumber spaniel named Bosco, and two red-eared sliders.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Guest Blogger: Christian Fiction Author Jimmy Root Discusses Writer's Groups

A Good Writer’s Group Can Be Valuable
By Jimmy Root Jr, author of Distant Thunder

Opinions are varied, but for the writer just getting started, finding a good writer’s group can be of tremendous value. Such has been the case for me, though it was the last thing I was looking for.

A writer’s group, at times called workshop or critique group is a cadre of three to six writers. This group gathers on a regular basis to offer constructive criticism and support for each member’s work. These groups can have a variety of experience levels, ranging from the novice to the polished, published author. The purpose is simple, to improve the skills, motivation, and success of each member.

My experience in a writer’s group has been exhilarating. When I first began to write Distant Thunder, I had no knowledge that such groups were available therefore, I had no thought to search one out. I came upon my opportunity by pure chance. I was invited. I am a better writer for the experience.

Horror stories abound. Many published authors openly declare a disdain, even loathing for the writer’s group. The truth is, in many instances, they are right. A poorly designed group can steal the joy from a writer’s soul. Ego can be driven to the lowest depth. Motivation can be exorcised from an author by an overabundance of criticism. However, finding a properly functioning team filled with fellow authors who only want to get better, can make all the difference.

Here are some suggestions when deciding on a writer’s group.

First, the group must have clearly defined goals. This can be as simple as making sure each member has something new to offer at each session, to how and when an author might defend his writing to the critics. A group without purposeful parameters finds itself wasting time and energy, thereby draining the members of creativity.

Second, there must be rules for criticism. Good guidelines will allow the group to function with efficiency. Within the confines of my writer’s group, each of the four members will share the latest segment, chapter, or article. Both the strong and the weak points of the writing will be examined. Praise comes accordingly, as does the criticism. Remembering that quietly listening to a critique can be intimidating, a special rule has been adopted by the group. For each critical comment, there must be at least two, equally authentic praises. We call it “two pats for every slap,” and it works beautifully. A guideline should also be adopted to prevent a monopoly on criticism by any one individual. Criticism must always be constructive and shared.

Third, the group should meet regularly. This can be once a week, or once a month, but it must happen methodically to have value. If one is offering segments of a continuing story, regularity of meetings can keep the other members on track with the context. But motivation is the greatest benefit with a disciplined pattern of meetings. To show up without having put forth an effort to write is taboo. If nothing else, it teaches the individual to stick with the hard work of honing the craft. The idea is for everyone to participate.

Fourth, there should be a mechanism in place to remove unfaithful or unruly members. Occasionally, a person may fall into the category of someone who does not pull his or her weight. Either by consensus or by vote, the person must be politely removed, or the entire group will suffer and eventually fold.

Other rules can be established, but the key is to find a group of fellow writers that can help in the formation of your craft. You may find, as your skills become polished, that a group becomes unnecessary. Understand that the group will be able to offer the perspective of your target audience. Feedback becomes a springboard to new ideas. The act of brainstorming another person’s work increases your ability to listen. Each of these aspects is important.

If you are not plugged into a good writer’s group, one may be easier to find than you might realize. The internet is a great place to start. Groups continually add members, and you will be able to sort by genre. Another resource is your local library. It is possible a group is meeting there now. For the new writer, my suggestion is to participate and grow.

Learn more valuable tips for authors at www.lightningchronicles.blogspot.com.

Jimmy Root Jr., has served as an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God since 1982, including service in Nebraska, Missouri, and a seven year term as a missionary in Colombia, South America. Jimmy is the lead Pastor of Family Worship Center of Smithville, a growing suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. Married to his wife Jean for twenty-nine years, the Roots have three grown children.

Root is a 1981 alumnus of Central Bible College of Springfield,
Missouri where he majored in Biblical Studies and Pastoral Theology. He is also an alumnus of Southeastern University, Lakeland Florida, where he majored in Intercultural Studies.

A lifetime student of Biblical prophecy, Jimmy is also the Professor of Eschatology, The Study of End Times, for
Berean University through the Norther
n Missouri District School of Ministry. He is a featured speaker at Churches and other venues, and is the host of “The Bible Uncensored” radio broadcast heard on radio stations around the country.

His writings, both in book form as well as his blog, are purposed to be a wake-up call to a sleepy American church that seems to be losing a truly Christian World View. Distant Thunder and its sequels, A Gathering Storm and Then Comes Lightning, will reveal to the adventure/thriller aficionado the reality of the coming fulfillment of Biblically prophesied events. You can visit his website at www.lightningchronicles.com or his blog at www.prophecyalert.blogspot.com. Connect with him on twitter at www.twitter.com/JimmyRootJr and Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimmyrootjr.


Monday, August 24, 2009

A Conversation with Jimmy Root, author of Distant Thunder

Jimmy Root Jr., author of Distant Thunder: Book One of the Lightning Chronicles is a life-long student of Bible prophecy and has connected ancient prophecies with world events in a fast-paced fiction thriller. Jimmy has been an ordained Pastor since 1982 and has served churches in Nebraska and Missouri. He and his family also served for five years in Colombia, South America as a church planter and educator. He is an alumnus of Central Bible College of Springfield, Missouri, and Southeastern University of Lakeland, Florida majoring in Theology and Cultural Studies. Raised in the Mid-West, Jimmy is an outdoorsman and sports enthusiast. He is an aficionado of the military thriller genre and is an avid blogger as well as an author. More can be discovered about Distant Thunder and the Lightning Chronicles series by visiting his website at: www.lightningchronicles.com. He also hosts a blog dealing with current world events and their relationship to Bible prophecy at: www.prophecyalert.blogspot.com, as well as a writer’s blog at: www.lightningchronicles.blogspot.com.

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

Jimmy: I would best describe myself as a regular guy, nothing extraordinary. But I find myself in an extraordinary profession, serving a church as a pastor. In this position, I am privileged to see the very best in people and help the reach their full potential as human beings. Writing is simply a part of the everyday life of a pastor. Everything from letters to sermons must be written weekly. You also have to be a storyteller. In those capacities, I have been writing for thirty years. However, it wasn’t until late 2007 that I actually set out to write a book. That book turned into three and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Can you please tell us about your recent book and why you wrote it?

Jimmy: Distant Thunder is the first book of a Prophetic Fiction trilogy called The Lightning Chronicles. The story poses a question that I believe needs to be asked: What would happen if radical terrorists somehow got their hands on tactical nuclear weapons, and then used them against both America and Israel? It is a frightening scenario that is becoming more and more plausible in light of current world events. But in the midst of unimaginable terror and tragedy, two unsung heroes rise to extraordinary heights as they begin to understand that everything has been prophesied.

Two main characters form the storylines of Distant Thunder. Moshe Eldan is an Israeli F-16 “Lightning” fighter pilot who is doing his best to defend his country against the latest cycle of attacks. Unbeknownst to him, the greatest horror imaginable is waiting in the form of a nuclear tipped missile. Moshe finds himself in an unlooked for journey toward faith as he attempts to save his people.

The other character is a man named Ty Dempsey. His story is a bit closer to home. He is a suburban Kansas City pastor who, in working through the grief of losing his younger brother to the war in Iraq, has begun to discover the ancient prophecies of Ezekiel. So enthralled is he by the information that he preaches the prophecies to his congregation. Some of his people listen and are interested. Others, however, do not want the status quo of their comfortable lives challenged by something they consider allegorical in nature. A good old fashioned church conflict ensues. Ty decides to stay the course in face of tremendous opposition and is ultimately vindicated when nearby Kansas City is the target of a terrorist attack. Moshe and Ty become connected throughout the story in strange, spiritual ways that will only increase as the series progresses.

What kind of research was involved in writing Distant Thunder?


Jimmy: The research for Distant Thunder took two very different tracks. The first involved the study of Biblical prophecy and how it relates to current events. This has been a life-long passion of mine, so that part of the research was easy. The second track was to research the military aspects of the book. It entailed everything from what it’s like to fly an F-16 in combat, to the various military assets belonging to countries in the Middle East. Though the book is not necessarily classified as a military thriller, the information is accurate and sufficient to bring the reader into the action of combat. Once the two tracks were thoroughly researched, building the storylines was relatively easy.

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

Jimmy: I admit I was absolutely clueless as to what is involved in finding a publisher. The dream of seeing your book in print is blissful. Making it happen is practically a nightmare. Many authors have come up against the odds and found it easier to go the route of self-publishing. I chose to persevere and continue to search until I found a traditional publisher willing to look at the work of a new, unknown author. Thankfully, I found that publisher.

I’ve been asked by other budding authors how many query letters I had to send out before I received a response worth looking into. That number approached two hundred and fifty. Most queries never received a response. The ones that did usually carried a nice note explaining that Distant Thunder did not fit into that particular publisher’s future plans. A few, thoughtful correspondents gave a word or two of encouragement, but most were simply form-letter rejections. However, three publishers finally bit on the book, two of which were traditional. I chose the one that fit my needs, and here we are today.

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

Jimmy: I sat down and began writing on December 2nd, 2007. I had a very vague outline and lots of wintery weather to start. The rough draft was finished exactly two months later. I presented the story to my son and some congregants in my church, and they were thrilled with what they were reading. Each made editorial suggestions that proved helpful. By March of 2008, I was seeking a publisher. But it wasn’t until late May that a contract was finally offered. From that point onward the process went relatively quick even though it was extremely thorough. Just fifteen months separated the signing of the contract to the release of Distant Thunder on August 10th, 2009.

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?

Jimmy: One of the first things I did was to search for an agent. Again, after dozens of queries, only one responded in the positive. As she did not fit what I was looking for in an agent, I decided to do the work of finding a publisher myself. However, I am not opposed to a future partnership with a good agent should that materialize.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Yes! My writing continues. The second book of the Lightning Chronicles series, A Gathering Storm, has been contracted and I am in the early stages of the editing process. In the meantime, I am putting the finishing touches to the final volume, Then Comes Lightning. Following the conclusion of the Chronicles, I plan to begin a historical fiction series on the life and times of Old Testament prophet Daniel. I have also stepped up my blogging by adding a site to encourage young writers. The response to both my blogs has been overwhelming, and I expect that to continue.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

Jimmy: Anywhere I can sit upright and listen to a long list of movie soundtracks on my IPod. Mainly, my office has been the most productive location for writing. As my function as a Pastor is practically a 24/7 job, writing has to be fit into the schedule whenever and wherever I can.

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

Jimmy: If I could, I would invest the money to multiply what I am currently doing by way of promotion. Much of putting the book of a new author in the hands of readers is by word of mouth and through internet buzz. This is exactly what I am doing now and enjoying every minute of it.

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

Jimmy: From what I am learning, self-promotion is not only the key to putting the book into the hands of the reader, it is imperative. I am currently in the process of creating awareness on the internet by blogging, commenting on related blog sites, and using affordable promotional avenues like Pump Up Your Book. Offline, self-promotion includes everything from taking advantage of every opportunity to sell and sign books, to speaking to groups large and small whenever possible. I have also found that if the story is worth reading, people naturally talk about it.

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

Jimmy: I think the odds are stacked against new writers in today’s market. Really, that is what it has become, a competition to market books. Hunting for and publishing good literary work seems to have been relegated to the past. As it is now, a few big-name authors hold most of the market, and that adds up to discouragement for new authors. You almost feel like David against Goliath. But we must remember that David won that battle. So can the new author.

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

Jimmy: First, stay true to your dream. It is easy to give up when things don’t seem to be falling into place. But perseverance will eventually pay off if your story is worth telling. Second, allow rejection to refine, not discourage you. My story really didn’t fit with everyone, but I knew that it was good. That was confirmed by the way people were responding to the rough draft. Be open to criticism and allow it to guide you toward growth as a writer. Then, be prepared for a whirlwind of activity once your story finds publication. Writing is the easy part. Publicity means work, work, and more work.

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

Jimmy: Thank you, so much.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER: The Writer's Life: Not All Peaches and Cream by Phyllis Zimbler Miller


The Writer’s Life: Not All Peaches and Cream

by Phyllis Zimbler Miller


I suspect there are many non-authors who truly believe that a writer’s life consists of leisurely days spent gazing out the window and then typing a few lines into his/her computer.


And when enough of these leisurely days have been spent, there’s a completed manuscript that miraculously appears in print a few months later.


Oh, were it so!


The truth is that, whether you are traditionally published or self-published, there’s a lot of very hard work involved in getting that manuscript published and bought by readers – and I’m only talking about the hard work after the manuscript is written, revised, copyedited and proofed.


While trying to get an agent and publisher is a whole other quest in itself, the hardest part may be getting out the word about your book to people who might actually buy that book.


Today book reading has to compete with more and more easily available entertainments. Now when people can watch their favorite TV shows or movies online, how does a book author capture people’s attentions long enough to motivate them to buy her/his book?


Virtual book tours such as those by Dorothy Thompson at PumpUpYourBookPromotion.com are one way – and this is my second tour with Dorothy. In June of 2008 I took my novel Mrs. Lieutenant (www.MrsLieutenant.com) on tour with Dorothy. It was such a positive experience that I’m back now with my ebook What You Should Know About the Launch of an Online Information Product.


A virtual book tour needs to be supported by the author’s active participation in cyberspace, including social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. People usually need to see something they’re interested in several times before they actually click on the buy button.


This means as an author you have to have patience, stamina for the long haul, and continually interact with potential readers. More than a year after my novel Mrs. Lieutenant came out, I’ve just made a brief video explaining why Mrs. Lieutenant is an excellent choice for book club discussions. (You can see the video at http://www.mrslieutenant.com/book-discussion-questions/) I’m always open to new ways of promoting my writing.


We book authors are writers, aren’t we? We’re lucky to have a talent that we can use to help us connect with potential readers on the Internet. And even though I’m a writer, I personally like Twitter with its 140-character limit the best of the social media sites. Twitter forces everyone to write concisely – and that’s a good thing when you’re carving out time to promote your writing while at the same time writing your writing.

___


Author Phyllis Zimbler Miller’s company MillerMosaicLLC.com has just launched the Miller Mosaic Internet Marketing Program to help people promote their brand, book or business. You can learn about the program at http://www.WeTeachWebMarketing.com. She’s also a National Internet Business Examiner at http://www.InternetBizBlogger.com and active on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ZimblerMiller . Her new ebook What You Should Know About the Launch of an Online Information Product grew out of her Examiner.com articles about the launch of the Miller Mosaic Internet Marketing Program.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shadow of Betrayal: An Interview with Suspense Novelist Brett Battles

Brett Battles lives in Los Angeles, and is the author of three acclaimed novels in the Jonathan Quinn series: The Cleaner, which was nominated for a Barry Award for Best Thriller and a Shamus Award for Best First Novel in 2008, The Deceived, which has been nominated this year for a Barry Award for Best Thriller, and his latest Shadow of Betrayal. He is also one of the founding members of Killer Year, a group of thriller novelists who all had their debut books come out in 2007, and a member of both International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America.

You can visit Brett Battles website at www.brettbattles.com.

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

Brett: I’m one of those kids who told everyone that I was going to be a writer in grade school. I’m just glad I wasn’t lying. But it did take me a bit to get there. In college, I studied film history. A great degree, you get to watch a lot of very cool films. After that, I spent some time working at a small Hollywood studio where we produced, among other things, People’s Court. This was the old one with Judge Wapner and Rusty the Bailiff, and, yes, I do have a few stories. But probably shouldn’t tell them here. After that I somehow ended up in television graphics, where I rose eventually to the position of executive producer at E! Entertainment Television. Still, I was very excited when I was able to quit that and start writing full time.

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

Brett: Shadow of Betrayal is the third in my Jonathan Quinn international thriller series. Quinn is a professional cleaner. He’s the guy international organizations call in when they think they’re going to have a body to remove. In Shadow, Quinn finds himself in a situation he’s not happy to be in. Unfortunately, it’s one he’s brought on himself. He had previously promised his main client, an organization known as the Office, that he would do three jobs for them no questions asked for some help they gave him on a personal matter. Now those jobs are being called in, and each leads Quinn deeper and deeper into a conspiracy that threatens not only the U.S. government, but also those of its closest allies. Deep enough that Quinn finds he’s the only one who can do anything about it.

For each of the Quinn books, I come at them from the angle of what would be the next logical story in his life. When I sat down to think about Shadow, images and scenes began coming to my mind. Scenes of an abandoned church in Ireland, an innocent woman in Africa, a secret facility in the desert of California. And soon I found the thread that linked them all. So when I sat down to write, this is the story that flowed out of me. It’s funny. Sometimes I feel like I’m a reader, too, each story unfolding itself to me as I sit at my keyboard.

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

Brett: The biggest challenge is always figuring out all the angles, getting the motivations and characters right, and telling a compelling story. My first drafts are always a bit of a mess. But that’s okay, I expect that. In a way, I kind of think of them as 400 page outlines. But it’s the challenge of the rewrite, something I actually enjoy, that’s where all the work comes in.

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?

Brett: Any press kit would come from my publisher, though I do have an author photo and book cover images on my website suitable for printing. They’re at the bottom of my contact page:
http://www.brettbattles.com/contact.php

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?

Brett: I’ve spoken at several library events, a couple that had over 100 people in attendance. I also appear every fall at Men of Mystery in Orange County, California, and will be doing so again this November. Along with Men of Mystery this fall, I will also be attending Bouchercon, the mystery fan convention held this year in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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?

Brett: Yes, my agent is Anne Hawkins of Hawkins and Associates. She’s been great, and a big help to me. I think you do need an agent to navigate the ever-changing landscape of publishing.

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

Brett: We always do everything we can, both traditional and online media, appearances, and whatever else comes up.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Brett: Absolutely. I’m just finishing up the next book in the Quinn series, due out next summer. And I’m in the planning stages for the one after that, which I’ll start writing in the fall. I’m also working on a stand alone, with no set timetable yet on that.

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

Brett: Shadow of Betrayal, and all of my books, are available at most online retailers, including: IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million, Amazon, and at the Random House website.

Thanks for having me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Is Your Ghost Holy?: An Interview with Author Shay Bills

Shay Bills is an anointed woman of God, born and raised in Paris, Texas by her late grandmother Bettie L. King. Bills and her husband Terry have three children. Recognized by many as a powerful speaker, teacher, and motivator, Evangelist Bills is truly a chosen vessel of the Lord. She shares her insightful and thought-provoking message to women’s ministries and speaks to the hearts of both young and old.

She is a natural educator, holding a Bachelor’s degree in English, a Master’s degree in Education Administration with Principal Certification, both from Texas A & M University in Commerce. She is a Texas Licensed Realtor with Century 21 Harvey Properties and Lighthouse Learning Daycare Center owner with Directors’ Credentials from the State of Oklahoma. Evangelist Bills obediently makes full proof of her ministry and is currently promoting her newly released book, Is Your Ghost Holy? Eight Principles for Evaluating Your Walk in the Spirit.


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

Well, I could give you the long version but I don’t think we have time. So the short version is that I was born and raised in Paris, Texas, am married to a wonderful husband named Terry, have two-step sons Braxton and Terrance, a 16 year old daughter Ariole, multiple-small business owner, a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in Education Administration. I have been writing since I was a little girl. I had many growing pains as a child. My grandmother raised me and encouraged me to write to Jesus any time I needed to talk to someone. I would write Him and bury the letters in our front yard thinking upon deterioration the message would float to Him and He would answer. I am delighted to say, “He is just to answer.”

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

Definitely. The book is entitled, Is Your Ghost Holy? Eight Principles for Evaluating Your Walk in the Spirit. It’s a reflective writing designed to assist the reader in an effective analysis of their walk in the Spirit. The book is written in simplistic style intentionally so that the message is not lost in delivery. Throughout the book, readers will journey through chapters of love, truth and life to discover the essence of the Holy One’s purpose in their life. About five years ago, the Lord delivered a Word through me entitled, “Is Your Ghost Holy?” That message stayed with me and was so alive that I began to journal because I was seeking answers of my own as to my purpose and God’s plan for my life. Overtime, the writings grew and the Lord continued to use me. Within the past year, I received instruction from on High to publish what was once simple writings and journals and to use a Christian publishing company for this first book. In obedience, “Is Your Ghost Holy,” is now available to all.

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

Initially, I must say it was a bumpy ride because I struggled with obedience at first. I let fear ride for about three months before I surrendered to the will of the Father concerning this book. So actually, the book should have been published months earlier. I think the Lord was still trying to help me “get over me.” Once I stepped out the boat, the process was pretty smooth. I worked with a group of wonderful Christians in the publishing and marketing business.


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

From the time I signed the contract to the release of the book was four months.

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 do believe now, looking back that an agent may have been helpful. I did research and speak with two agents but ultimately decided to not use an agent for this first publication. This has truly been a work of the Lord, giving me one of the desires of my heart to be a published author while continuing to spread the good news of the Gospel.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes. Yes. Yes. I am currently in the middle of two books at the moment. I am in prayer because one of them is really a challenge and the other one is semi-autobiographical. Is Your Ghost Holy? has sparked so many different flames in my life from public speaking, hosting and conducting church group and business seminars and workshops. It has also introduced me to wonderful men and women all over the world and for that I am so appreciative. With the publication of future work, I pray to continue down the same path.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I am a morning person PERIOD! I prefer to get up early in the morning for all things including writing, studying, working, cleaning, researching, etc… I think better in the morning, I’m more creative and I find that I take more risks in the am than in the pm.

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

I have a two-fold answer. I would invest in online-television. We all know that technology is the wave of today but the power of television is still vital. Both reach millions and go a long way in promoting published authors.

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

If you do not promote your own work, you are non-existent. Self-promotion is absolutely important to the success or failure of an author’s work. Offline, I send out postcards, pass out business cards, create and distribute flyers, participate in interviews, participate on local radio shows, send out press releases to newspapers and network with other businesses to promote my book. Online, I submit press releases, regularly update my personal website and blog, promote my book on multiple social networking sites, post substantial work to blogs in the same field and leave my site address as well as participate on blogtalkradio stations online.

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

Do not be afraid to publish your own work, especially if God has given you the green light to do so. Research the field and take your time. Publishing your first book is just like making a first impression, you only get one chance, make a good one.

Thank you for coming, Evangelist Shay Bills! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Thank you so much for having me and I appreciate you and your readers in advance for your support. You can find me at www.ShayBills.com and while you’re there visit my blog as well. Order your copy of Is Your Ghost Holy? from my personal website or www.amazon.com, www.BlackCBC.com, www.target.com or anywhere fine books are sold. Thank you again for having me. God bless.

Guest Blogger: Barbara Bretton, Author of Laced with Magic

I am pleased to offer the readers of The Writer's Life a guest post by the multi-talented author of Laced with Magic. I give you...Ms. Barbara Bretton...

First the good news: if you’re looking for information on how to develop your author’s voice, you can stop reading right now. Your own true writer’s voice is already firmly in place and has been ever since you opened your mouth and spoke your first words.

The bad news? You’ve been trained over the years to do everything in your power to suppress it.

Most of us mistrust our true and genuine voice. It seems too easy, too uncomplicated. Too much like sitting across the kitchen table from your best friend and telling a story.

A friend of mine named Deborah Hecht first used the Kitchen Table analogy one day at our local diner. We were eating Greek salads and talking writing and Debbie remarked that every important thing she ever learned she learned at her kitchen table and I think she’s right. In fact, I’ll take that one more step and say that most of life’s truly important decisions are made at the kitchen table too.

The Kitchen Table voice is the natural voice of the storyteller. How many of us have sat spellbound as our mothers or grandmothers or aunts told family stories and shared gossip. Those dramatic pauses, the punchlines, the conspiratorial whispers! They didn’t stop to think about it or agonize over how to present it: they just told the story and we loved every word.

I was sixteen years old when I first learned I had a recognizable writer’s voice. It was the summer of 1966 and I was madly in love with the boy I would marry two years later and not at all interested in spending two precious weeks at Lake Placid with my parents. I tried to convince them that I could be left home alone, but they weren’t buying it so the three of us schlepped north from Queens to Lake Placid where I did my teenage best to ruin their good time.

I wrote to Roy every night while I was away, long letters on pink stationery with little roses along the top border. I can’t remember exactly what I wrote about but we can safely assume the letters were filled with teenage angst and passionate diatribes about my parents and their appalling lack of faith in me.

Cut to our first day home. Our heroine is reunited with her hero and what are his first words to her? “I loved your letters. They sound just like you.”

I’m here to tell you that I had never been more insulted in my life. What did he mean they sounded like me? They weren’t supposed to sound like me, they were supposed to sound like the sexy, sophisticated twenty-one year old fashion model/Pulitzer Prize winning novelist I was in my imagination.

It took me many years—and many false voices—before I finally saw the light.

You are your own greatest writing resource.

Your own life is your best reference book.

Your view of the world and the people in it can provide the fuel to fire up your writing engine every single day for the rest of your life but first you have to figure out how to get out of your own way long enough to be able to access those riches.

Here are a few tips to help you unleash your natural voice:

1. Write emails. Bet you never thought emailing your friends was a creative opportunity but it is. Carve away the LOLs and I’ll bet you’re using your authentic voice without even trying. Ever have email writer’s block? I didn’t think so. We tell each other a thousand stories through our emails and never once struggle for the right word. The right words are always there, in the right order, waiting for us.
2. Keep a journal. A writer’s journal or a personal journal, it doesn’t matter which. What does matter is sitting down every day, preferably around the same time (I’ve never been able to manage that) and tell yourself about your day. What you did. How you did it. How you felt about it. Don’t pretty it up. Tell it conversationally and without that damned internal censor who thrives on telling you that you stink.
3. Julia Cameron recommends Morning Pages in The Artists Way. Three pages handwritten first thing in the morning. A stream-of-consciousness that can serve to kick start the creative process.
4. Natalie Goldberg fills notebook after notebook with what she calls writing practices that actually serve a much greater creative purpose. Goldberg also does much of this writing practice in cafes and restaurants, places where people gather, where life happens. Sometimes we isolate ourselves too well. We’re so intent upon using our writing time wisely that we cut ourselves off from the stimuli and experiences that feed a writer’s imagination.

I’m reminded of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz who battled witches and testy trees and flying monkeys in her quest to find her way home to Kansas. Finally, after the Tin Woodsman and the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion and even the Wizard himself had been granted their heart’s desire, Dorothy turned to Glynda the Good Witch and said, “I guess you can’t help me find my way home,” and Glynda laughed and pointed toward the ruby slippers. “You’ve always had the power to find your way home,” Glynda said. “If that’s true, why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Dorothy demanded. Glynda had the answer ready and waiting. “You wouldn’t have believed me if I had,” she said. “You had to find out for yourself.”

You don’t need Dorothy’s ruby slippers to find your natural voice. It’s the one you use every day. The one that’s been part of you since the day you were born.

Trust me.

Trust yourself.

Trust your voice.

It's the writer's secret weapon.

Barbara Bretton is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than 40 books. Her most recent title, Laced With Magic, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. She currently has over ten million copies in print around the world and have been translated into twelve languages in over twenty countries.

Barbara has been featured in articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Romantic Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Herald News, Home News, Somerset Gazette,among others, and has been interviewed by Independent Network News Television, appeared on the Susan Stamberg Show on NPR, and been featured in an interview with Charles Osgood of WCBS, among others.

Her awards include both Reviewer's Choice and Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times; Gold and Silver certificates from Affaire de Coeur; the RWA Region 1 Golden Leaf; and several sales awards from Bookrak. Ms. Bretton was included in a recent edition of Contemporary Authors.

You can visit Barbara’s website at www.barbarabretton.com, her blog at http://bmafb.blogspot.com or connect with her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barbarbretton.com.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lose the Diet: An Interview with Kathy Balland on Writing, Publishing and Promoting

Kathy Balland, an expert in the mind-body-soul connection, teaches people how to tap into their own inner power for success. Clinically certified in hypnotherapy, her publications and seminars provide deep insights into the true causes and their remedies that prevent people from achieving their goals. As the author of the award-winning book Lose the Diet: Transform your body by connecting with your soul, Balland provides information to enrich and empower people to achieve happiness and weight loss success. Her website is: www.LosetheDiet.com. Twitter: http://twitter.com/LosetheDiet

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

Kathy: Thank you for having me. I am a former yo-yo dieter, and I became interested in learning more about the mind-body connection in order to help other people. I studied stress management, addiction and nutrition in addition to becoming clinically and board certified in hypnotherapy. I have written many articles and published spoken word CDs on the subject for several years.

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

Kathy: I wrote Lose the Diet because obesity has become a national crisis. More than one third of US adults – over 72 million people in addition to 16% of US children are obese. The cost of health care for obesity related diseases is approximately $200 billion per year. Obviously all of the dieting and calorie counting are not working. I wanted to explain why that is and what you can do about it. Lose the Diet provides tips and tools that will help you to achieve permanent weight loss; in a natural, healthy way.

What kind of research was involved in writing (please italicize book title here – no caps or quote marks)?

Kathy: Lose the Diet is a compilation of my own personal experience, in addition to working with clients. I also did some research through articles, and there are various tools and techniques that I learned from my previous studies.

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

Kathy: It has been fairly smooth.

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

Kathy: It took seventeen months for the book to be completed and 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?

Kathy: No I do not have an agent, and did not feel that it was necessary to have one.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Kathy: Yes, I do plan on writing additional books. My next book will be a more general book about achieving success.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

Kathy: I love to write at my second home in Northern Arizona. There are beautiful mountain views there, and the wildlife that comes into the yard helps to inspire me.

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

Kathy: I would utilize every form of publicity that is available, and at any cost. You can never do too much book promotion, and I would want to touch on all of the bases.

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

Kathy: Self-promotion is extremely important. I am currently doing a virtual book tour. Lose the Diet has been in book shows, it has received some great reviews, it has won awards and I am also doing seminars and radio interviews.

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

Kathy: They may give up on their dream because they are not truly passionate about their subject. I believe you must have a strong passion that will keep driving you toward success. I did not want to give up because I am so passionate about the diet/weight loss issue.

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

Kathy: Don’t give up. Nothing can take the place of persistence.

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

Kathy: Thank you. I have enjoyed the interview.

Friday, August 14, 2009

An Interview with Barbar Bretton: Paranormal Romance Novelist Talks Writing, Publishing and Promoting

Barbara Bretton is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than 40 books. Her most recent title, Laced With Magic, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. She currently has over ten million copies in print around the world and have been translated into twelve languages in over twenty countries.

Barbara has been featured in articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Romantic Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Herald News, Home News, Somerset Gazette,among others, and has been interviewed by Independent Network News Television, appeared on the Susan Stamberg Show on NPR, and been featured in an interview with Charles Osgood of WCBS, among others.

Her awards include both Reviewer's Choice and Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times; Gold and Silver certificates from Affaire de Coeur; the RWA Region 1 Golden Leaf; and several sales awards from Bookrak. Ms. Bretton was included in a recent edition of Contemporary Authors.

You can visit Barbara’s website at www.barbarabretton.com, her blog at http://bmafb.blogspot.com or connect with her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barbarbretton.com.

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

Barbara: The truth? I've been writing with an eye toward publication since childhood. I can't remember a time when telling stories for a living wasn't my ultimate goal.

Okay, so maybe I got a little side-tracked in my teens and early twenties, but I always knew that one day I'd see my name on the spine of a book. I not only believed it was possible, I was dead certain I would make it happen.

Which, if you consider the fact that I'm a high school graduate without formal training, is pretty amazing. I'm not sure if it was arrogance or a sense of destiny (or maybe equal parts of both) but it never occurred to me that I would fail.

I placed my first story in Katy Keene Comic Books when I was nine. It was called Debbie's Diary and the day it appeared on the newsstand was the most exciting day of my life up until that moment. My by-line appeared beneath the title and you would have thought I'd flown to the moon and back under my own power. I went on to place more stories with Katy Keene, a few random pieces with Teen Magazine but nothing much more than that until my mid-twenties when I began selling how-to articles and op-ed pieces on a fairly regular basis. I loved the money (even though there wasn't much of it) and I totally loved seeing my name in print but the dream of writing fiction was still to be realized.

I began writing and selling confession stories which, despite their lurid reputation, provided solid training in how to tell an emotionally compelling story in an accessible way. I loved writing first person, loved the fast-paced dialogue, loved everything about it.

But I still wanted to sell a novel. That dream was realized in February 1982 when Harlequin purchased my first novel for their new line of American Romances. I've never looked back.

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

Barbara: I had to write Laced With Magic. Not just because it's the second book in a series and I'm under contract but because I wanted to see what was going to happen next to Chloe and Luke.

I know that smacks of writerly craziness but for me character is everything. I think of writers and actors as mining some of the same territory when it comes to creating characters. We tend to become those characters in ways that can unnerve the civilians among us. I believe that characters inform plot, not the other way around, so I only have a vague idea what will happen when I begin a book. I let my characters lead the way.

Take the classic sitcom Bewitched. We all know the set-up: Samantha had to deny her magical powers in order to keep her mortal husband Darrin happy. All of that wonderful magic had to be bottled up and put on the shelf because the grumpy, grouchy human male couldn't deal with it.
Laced With Magic is Bewitched turned on its ear. In Sugar Maple the women have all the power and they aren't afraid to use it. In fact it's the very human hero, Luke MacKenzie, who has to worry about fitting in.

And, believe me, it takes a very special man to settle down in Sugar Maple. The kind of man who won't let being turned into a Ken Doll by the woman he loves unnerve him. The kind of man who will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her against forces he can't even begin to understand.
Who needs Darrin Stevens anyway when you can have Luke MacKenzie!

What kind of research was involved in writing Laced With Magic?

Barbara: I'd like to tell you that I interviewed a sorceress, a vampire, and a werewolf but I'm not quite sure you'd believe me. I did read a number of scholarly reference books that dealt with the hierarchy among faeries. (You're laughing, aren't you? But I'm not kidding. It turned out that the Fae have a long and complicated folklore in many different cultures.) There's quite a bit of vampire lore out there, too, and I read my fair share of it. But ultimately I had to put it all aside and rely on my own imagination to create my fictional world.

The trick, though, with writing a paranormal of any kind is consistency. Creating your own world, and the laws that govern it, is great fun. North can be south, left can be right. You're limited only by your imagination. But if you want your readers to accept your creation and willingly suspend their disbelief, make sure that once you establish the physical, social, and political structures of your fictional universe, you stick with them.

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


Barbara: My first completed novel sold first time out so I guess that would qualify as smooth sailing. But trust me when I say I had more than my share of rejection both before and since. It comes with the territory. I wish I could show you some of the more colorful rejection letters I've received over the years. How about the single word NO scrawled in black eyebrow pencil on a sheet of Charmin? The editor might not have been subtle but he definitely got his point across.

Or how about the time a snarky editor suggested I take my stories back to Bambi and the Disneyland forest where they belonged.

Ouch. I'd be lying if I told you that didn't hurt. A lot. My face is turning red right now, many years later, at the memory. But it didn't stop me because the thought of not being published hurt a whole lot more.

I actually became so adept at fielding rejection that I didn't recognize encouragement when it came my way in the form of a letter from Nancy Coffey, who was then with Avon.
November 3, 1977

Dear Ms. Bretton:

Thank you so much for sending your proposal to Avon. At your convenience, please send the complete manuscript.

Nice letter, I thought. Everyone probably gets a nice letter like that.

I took that nice letter and tucked it away in a drawer for the next four years. (Yes, I did learn from that mistake. The next time opportunity hit me in the head, I hit back. Result? Love Changes, a launch book for Harlequin American Romance.)

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

Barbara: The original idea occurred to me (in very rough form) some time in 2004 or thereabouts. It came together as an outline on Labor Day 2006. (See? There's the writerly mind at work. I can't tell you if we need bread or milk but I can remember that rainy Monday and the way the ideas just spilled from my fingertips and onto the keyboard.) I put it aside for six months (no, I don't know why) then sent it off to my agent who promptly sent it to my editor who even more promptly offered a two book deal. We agreed to the contract in April 2007. The first book, Casting Spells, was published in November 2008; the second book, Laced With Magic, will be published in August 2009.

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?


Barbara: I do have an agent and I am very glad I do. I sold my first two books on my own but it was a different world back then. What I didn't know about this business could fill the Library of Congress. I've been agented from book #3 onward.

I was with Robin Kaigh, my first agent, from 1983 until 1994 when she decided to leave publishing. We remain good friends. I've been with Steven Axelrod of The Axelrod Agency since April 1994 and can't imagine handling the ups and downs without his cool head and wise counsel.

If you're looking to sell a novel in today's competitive market, an agent is a necessity. Many of the larger publishers no longer accept unagented submissions. A good agent is worth far more than the 15% he or she takes from a sale.

And while we're talking agents, please don't ever pay a reading fee! It shouldn't cost you money to find representation.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Barbara: I just agreed to do two more books in the Sugar Maple Chronicles. They'll be published in 2010 and 2011.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?


Barbara: Curled up in a corner of the love seat beneath the twinkling fairy lights that are strangling my hanging philodendron. I'm a night writer and I like nothing better than a dark room lit only by the out-of-season Christmas lights and votive candles.

My other favorite place? In the car. I don't know what it is about cars, but the second I buckle myself into the passenger seat, my imagination takes off. I've done some of my best plotting while we roll down Route 295.

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


Barbara: I know exactly what I would do. I would buy up all the copies of Casting Spells (book #1 in the Sugar Maple Chronicles) that I possibly could and give it away as a freebie. Everyone loves free books and how better to build an audience for upcoming titles?

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

Barbara: I think self-promotion is vital. Money is tight. The competition for a reader's time and dollar is more intense than it's ever been before. You can no longer depend upon your publisher to get the word out because they're facing budget issues of their own. When you come down to it, nobody cares more about the success of your book than you do. Not your agent, not your editor, not even your mother. These days you have to get the word out yourself.

Online promotion is the single greatest way to reach potential readers. The internet's reach is global. You could spend the next six months trailing from city to city doing signings and not reach a tiny percentage of the book-buying audience.

Get out there and participate. Use Twitter and Facebook. Start a blog and make sure you post regularly. (I'm still working on that part of the equation.) There's a thin line between effective self-promotion and downright obnoxious behavior. Although this advice probably runs counter to conventional wisdom, sometimes subtle is better. Trail your book title in your sig line. Keep your posts interesting. Be entertaining. Resist the urge to push the hard sell at every opportunity. Provide the information and let your personality and writing sell itself.

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

Barbara: The road to publication is a lot like the road to becoming the next American Idol. Lots of pain, a fair amount of public humiliation, with a juicy peach of a reward waiting at the end of the road . . . if you live that long.

Rejection hurts. Sometimes it leaves scars. But it isn't fatal. Give yourself twenty-four hours to lick your wounds then get your manuscript back out there again.

And no, I never came close to giving up. I'm far too stubborn to let a trifle like rejection get in my way. In a crazy way I was energized by those rejection letters. Take all of that negative energy and turn it into motivation. Nobody ever said getting published would be easy. Write. Revise. Submit. Rinse and repeat. There are no shortcuts, no magic formulas. If you can accept that simple fact, you're halfway there.

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

Barbara: A friend had a short story he believed in, one he wanted to sell to Prairie Schooner, a prestigious literary magazine. Prairie Schooner, however, had other ideas and rejected Leonard's story its first time out.

Leonard, however, was a professional. He swallowed his wounded pride and sent his story out again. And sent it yet again. By the time he'd garnered 22 rejections, the editorial staff at Prairie Schooner had changed and so Leonard sent the story back. And they rejected it again. Stalwart writer that he is, Leonard continued to study his markets and kept his story circulating. After the 41st rejection, the staff of Prairie Schooner once again changed hands. Leonard, ever a man to recognize an opportunity, fired his story back out to them and, lo and behold, on its 42nd try, his short story was accepted.

"Brilliant!" the acceptance letter read. "Where have you been hiding?"

See what I mean? You never know where success is hiding or when it might strike. Writers write. That's what we do. We can't help ourselves. Keep writing. Keep sending out what you write. Keep learning through the inevitable rejections. Don't be afraid to put your heart on the line. Rejection only hurts for a moment. Your byline is forever.

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

Barbara: Thanks so much for inviting me. I had a wonderful time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Interview with JD Seamus, author of Last Call

Novelist JD Seamus has lived and worked among some of the most amazing characters ever to have walked the Earth.

After decades of working in the world of retail finance, e-commerce, and venture capital, Seamus began writing a series of novels based in Manhattan.

With a keen eye for detail, Seamus takes to heart the old adage to “write what you know.” Borrowing from real life experience, Seamus delivers highly entertaining tales full of sparkling wit and dark humor.

Whether pondering life’s most absurd or most wonderful moments, or showcasing a character’s foibles or triumphs, JD Seamus is dynamic new voice in the world of fiction. Seamus may make you blush, he may make you cry, but he will certainly leave you entertained.

Today, Seamus is happily at work on his sixth book in South Florida and dividing his time between his family and Braves and Jaguar games. You can visit his website at www.jdseamusbooks.com.

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

JD: I’m an original illegal alien who can’t speak Spanish. I did become a citizen and, according to Joe Biden, am very patriotic because I pay my taxes on time, grudgingly.

I started writing as a hobby in the 1990s but didn’t really get serious until I retired in 1999.

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

A reviewer, and I don’t recall who, described Last Call as Cheers meets the Sopranos. It’s a book about a diverse group of people who ban together to help a friend. The book actually started as a dark comedy but it really lightened along the way.

I wrote it because I’ve always admired loyalty and this groups loyalty was stretched to the limit.

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


JD: Oddly I was writing another book, Best Intentions, which will be out after the sequel to Last Call, and doing what any sane Irishman would do-spending time in my neighborhood pub. One afternoon it hit me-the pub itself has some amazing characters in it and it would be a shame not to use them in a book. For back, my pub is around the corner from my condo in midtown Manhattan. It’s strategically located within blocks of all the major networks, publishers, modeling agencies, ad groups and law firms. It was nothing to come in and find soap opera stars, network anchors, models, publishers, politicians, folks from the financial world and mafia types sitting around having drinks and telling stories. It was a gold mine for a writer.

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?

JD: My site is a work in process. Like most things I do, I had fun with it. Press stuff, reviews and the like are on it. My site is www.jdseamusbooks.com.

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?

JD: I’ve done some radio interviews and spoken to a few groups. I’d certainly like to do more. Second to the actual writing part of the business, I enjoy book signings and speaking engagements. You really get instant feedback on how your work is being accepted.

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?


JD: Initially I felt that I needed an agent and worked with a couple of people. Nothing came of it. I’m not sure whether I just had the wrong people or what but I don’t have anyone now. I use a combination of a marketing group and a great PR person.

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


JD: Maryglenn McCombs, my publicist, designed a whirlwind blitz that included newspaper, magazine and the internet. It’s tough breaking in as a new writer. The industry itself is amazingly archaic. I guess that’s the reason the industry is in such flux now and sales are down. They are very much afraid to go with a fresh, new voice. The industry tends to keep pushing out the old, tired, cookie cutter concept books that I think the public is tired of. It’s frustrating. Thankfully I’ve had the opportunity to make some money and don’t rely on book sales but I certainly feel for some of my peers.

Do you plan subsequent books?

JD: Sure do. I have a sequel to Last Call. It’s tentatively titled Family Retribution. I also have four other books waiting in the wings.

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

JD: Again, my site is www.jdseamusbooks.com. The big franchises, while stocking very few new authors, will order it for customers although you should raise hell with the manager because it isn’t stocked. The 800 pound gorilla Amazon carries it as does most of the other internet sites. The best place to buy it is at your local neighborhood independent book store. Your money stays in the community and you are helping out a neighbor.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Interview with Eddie Godshalk, Author of Real Estate Investment Book Thriving in Any Real Estate Market

Eddie Godshalk bought his first investment houses in 1987, where he was a licensed agent in the Eastern U.S. From those humble beginnings, Eddie has gained more than 20 years of real estate investment, business development and mortgage experience. Eddie received his MBA from San Francisco State University (SFSU) with a focus on building automated valuation models (AVM’s) and real estate finance. What began as a graduate school project quickly turned into an obsession that has inspired for the past several years. After collecting more than four years’ worth of micro block data, Eddie and a team of SFSU and Berkeley PhD’s tested and back-tested algorithms and built the Home Value Predictor™ system. Eddie is committed to bringing the most accurate, reliable and relevant information to the real estate market Home Value Predictor™ is poised to redefine the way we think of real estate in the 21st century.

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

A: I have been investing in real estate and a licensed real estate agent in many states, for over 20 years, and have always been astounded as to how very little training agents get when being licensed, and very little knowledge they have as to the true risk and rewards of real estate investment. And as a person who has taken advanced sales training by the Sandler Sales Institute, I know the first step in sales, is setting up rapport with the customer. But how can a real estate salesperson set up proper rapport, when they are clueless to what affects prices and local real estate information? This part has always confused and challenged me. And once I figured out what is missing, I have been deeply engaged in finishing my web site www.HomeValuePredictor.com and my book about the missing keys. This have been a near life long dream and project, and I have been working on it, ever since I lost my first million, back in the 1990’s. Just not easy to find the right vendors or develop the software to capture and compile the data, this is the first step in developing a predictive model.

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


A: The Missing Keys to Thriving in Any Real Estate Market is about this missing information and causes of the financial crisis and housing crisis. It is written for anyone and everyone who has or will have capital invested or at risk. As a real estate investor, I know how critical it is to have current local data and information, and as a licensed agent, I found many of the information providers like the MLS lacking key information at the local level. Thus after years of compiling data and working with PhD’s from UC Berkeley, we have finally the Home Value Predictor system, so that everyone can have the power of prediction and current local information.

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

A: Some of the biggest challenges have been just how to communicate what current local information actually means, since many real estate investor and agents/brokers do not even know what a Census Block Group is, or that there is monthly and quarterly information and treads at these hyper local levels. And there is a lot of noise and snake-oil salespeople in real estate, that really new not bring any new information into the mix. Sometimes it is just easier to say, that we have something that is more powerful than the lockbox key. Or www.homevaluepredictor.com delivers the missing DNA to the real estate industry that caused so much blood to be spilt. The as the reader reads my book and checks out my new Web site, they can get a better understanding as to the missing keys, and how to thrive into the future.

Q: 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: I do, and this is available online at my web site www.HomeValuePredictor.com and I can forward you a hard copy if you wish.

Q: 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?

A: I have spoke a few times at Real Estate Investment Groups and talked on the radio in the past about real estate investing, but have not done so recently. Mostly because, I really want to make sure by book and web site of www.HomeValuePredictor.com is done right. It may sound simple to simple to have a database on over 350,000 hyper local markets, and update this database every month and quarter, and from their build a predictive model, for each of these 350.000 markets, but I can assure you, it is not. If I had known it would be this much work, I probably would have not started. But I also know that this service can help a lot of people, so I have pressed on.

Q: 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?

A: I currently do not have an agent; do you know a good effective one? I have not invested this, since so involved with just getting my book and Web site done right.

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


A: Since www.HomeValuePredictor.com has not officially launched, we are holding off until the site is 100% done and tested. So for not I am just writing articles and blogging, and in the pre-launch phase. I am also starting a Virtual Book Campaign with www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?


A: Possibly. There are a lot of professionals that need current local information, that currently do not have access to this information. So my first step is educating professionals what they do not know, launching my Web site www.HomeValuePredictor.com then see if professionals want current local information and want to have access to the power of prediction. And a lot of information providers probably just want to keep things the way they are, with an uninformed public, so they can sell more of their products and services.

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


A: My book is available everywhere and through all major distributors. But the best place to get a copy of my book is at my web site www.HomeValuePredictor.com where I will personally send you an autographed copy, and you will get may free bonuses, which will include a free County forecasting report, and a free report on the Top 10 Way you can create wealth in real estate.