Thursday, October 29, 2009

Interview with Author Carol Sue Gershman



Constantly reinventing herself, Carol Sue Gershman enrolled in a Dade County, Miami memoir writing class as a complete novice. After two short semesters she emerged as a author. While she considers Miami and New York City her home, she has given up both and has hit the road! She is following the route of her book reliving the cities and states she wrote about in her memoir promoting her story.

http://www.jewishladyblackman.com


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

I began writing at the age of 71 turning my three page Adventure in Love Story into 325 page book in nine months. That was two years ago and I was a complete novice. One day there was a knock on the door. It was the management saying water was coming from my apartment. I said, “Not here.” I turned around and saw water covering the floor almost to my feet; I was so absorbed in writing that I never noticed!

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

I wrote it because my lover walked out on me and I wanted to get him back. I took all of my negative energy and pain and turned it into writing. Instead, what developed was a sexy, racy, inspiring memoir. I wrote about life from marriage to grandchildren, to divorce to travel and obsession. I wrote in flashbacks in a narrative style.

What kind of research was involved in writing The Jewish Lady,The Black Man and The Road Trip?

There was little research as my book is a memoir. I told my story. However, I did further research the cities, states that we visited on our road trip elaborating on their history.

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

Oh my goodness. Really bumpy. I am a self published author, and have done every inch of it myself. By that I mean, from writing (excluding editing, as my grammar and spelling needed professional help) fonts, lay out, the front and back cover design. Then came the choosing of the right printing company, the editing of the book with my editor, the countless changes,and the biggest one of all, the process of promoting. It is a huge, difficult endless, but worthwhile endeavor that takes an enormous amount of work time and love.

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

It took me nine months morning noon and night with no contract except the contract I made with myself to shock my lover with the story I wrote about us.

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?

Good question. No, I do not have an agent am sure if I had an agent my life would have been much easier. However, in my case and at my age, waiting around for an agent to say yes, was not something I wanted to do. I was seriously anxious to get my book right out there and nowadays with self publishing one can achieve that goal. I have since written a press release on “Who needs an agent or a publisher,” which I hope will be published.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Absolutely. Self help books are important in today's world, so am thinking of that or else another true life story.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

For me on my computer at home on my bed. When I travel, I take a big yellow pad along as I did on a cruise on deck. I am unstoppable.

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

A large PR agency who specializes in book promotion; not any PR agency because when it comes to a book, it is a different story. I would put my book cover on buses, subways, billboards too.

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

It is all about self promotion and while I said I would invest in a good PR agency, it would still be up to me. I like doing home parties, talking to congregations, endless book store signings, radio, libraries, and presently I have hit the road on an extensive three month book tour, re-living all of the cities and states that I wrote about in my memoir

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

For most people, it is extremely difficult to find an agent, as it was for me. So I went the self publishing route. Then comes the money issue to self publish. I never would have given up until it was published.

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

If you really want to get a book out there by all means save your money until you can afford to self publish or pursue, pursue an agent. Please do not give up your dream.

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Interview with Carol Zelaya, Author of Emily Waits for Her Family

Carol Zelaya was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where she became a registered nurse after college. She met her husband at a local hospital and they had two children, who they raised in the midwestern town of Valparaiso, Indiana. They lived there for sixteen years before moving to Ashland, Oregon in 1996. It was in Oregon where she discovered her love of nature, as deer and birds were daily visitors. She lived amidst mountains and streams for the first time and moved up to the Portland, Oregon area in 1999. It was at her home in Portland where the behavior of a tiny chickadee nesting right outside her window got her attention and inspired her to write her three Emily the Chickadee books for children. She is currently relocating from Portland to San Diego, California, to live near her grown daughter and son.

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



I started writing this true story seven years ago, starting with the first book in the series, Emily Waits for Her Family. This three-book series was written from the perspective of a little girl telling Emily’s story in simple rhyme.

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

This is a true story about a little chickadee who made her nest outside my window. I was so inspired by her, that I wanted to share what I was observing with children everywhere. I watched in awe as she built her nest in my flowers and cared for her young baby birds until they could fly on their own. The second book, Caring for Emily’s Family actually teaches children how to take care of the birds in their yards. The third book, Emily’s New Home, completes the three book series, which started in spring and ends in spring the following year.

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

I didn’t know the first thing about book publishing, but hired people to help me get all three books into book form and published in 2008.

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?

There is a Press Room section on my website. It includes press releases, sales sheets, high resolution photographs, and a link to watch a video of a television interview.

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?

Yes, I have done many live radio interviews in the past and also a live TV news interview on one of Chicago’s news stations this year. My favorite thing, however, is going to schools and speaking to children in their classrooms. Kids ask the most interesting questions!

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’ve never had an agent, but would certainly be open to the idea in the future if the right opportunity presented itself. It hasn’t been necessary yet.

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, I hired a media company called PR by the Book, who planned my book signing tour and also scheduled my radio and TV interviews. Also, The Cadence Marketing Group is in charge of my October blog tour.


Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I always have ideas for writing more books, but I would like to do all I can to promote these three first.

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

Please visit my website http://www.emilythechickadee.com/. My books are available on amazon.com and may be ordered into any book store.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Interview with Lady Colin Campbell, Author of Daughter of Narcissus


Lady Colin Campbell, whose nickname is Georgie, was born and raised in Jamaica in the days when that island was a byword for glamour. The daughter of a descendant of the Emperor Charlemagne and such kings as William the Conqueror, her privileged existence concealed a gravely dysfunctional family owing to her mother Gloria’s narcissistic personality disorder. Married and divorced by the age of twenty five to Queen Elizabeth 11’s cousin Lord Colin Campbell, she is a prolific author who has produced New York and London Times bestsellers and is commonly credited with having written the best contemporaneous biography of the late Princess of Wales. She lives in London with her two teenage sons and is a committed supporter of civil liberties.

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

When I was growing up, I really didn’t plan on becoming a writer. I started out as an artist, before switching to dress designing. But I found that so boring that I walked out of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York during my second term, and decided to become a writer instead. My father, however, refused to countenance such a career change, and compelled me to finish my degree. After graduation, I did what all girls of my generation and background did – I concentrated on the serious business of finding myself a husband. It was only after my marriage broke up and I realized that I might never remarry that I turned back to writing seriously. Since 1982, I have been a full-time writer, and I can truthfully say that I thank my lucky stars every day that I am fortunate enough to have work that I love.

As I keep on telling my children, “Work that you love is one of life’s greatest pleasures, while the pursuit of pleasure usually degenerates into very hard work indeed”. A lesson which I learnt from observing how my pleasure-seeking mother destroyed her life and blighted that of everyone around her.

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

Daughter of Narcissus is the story of my family’s struggle to cope with our mother’s narcissistic personality disorder, and how I tried to turn that destructive situation into something positive and life-enhancing. I would never have written the book if Dr. Erika Freeman, the eminent American psychoanalyst, had not suggested doing so. Indeed, when she first came up with the idea, my initial reaction was one of horror. It was only after she convinced me that the subject was one which needed addressing, and she believed that I had the tools to do it justice, that I saw the merit of the project. Now I am glad that I wrote it, for already the reactions I have been receiving from even seasoned journalists are so positive – and so many of them have said it strikes a chord with people they know – that I can see how prescient Erika was.

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

The biggest challenge I faced when writing Daughter of Narcissus was to keep it pure and true. Writing about a condition as tumultuous as narcissism, and doing justice to a personality as contradictory and wide-ranging as my mother’s, meant that I had to monitor myself very carefully, so that at all times I adhered to the underlying reality. Precision and exactitude really were the orders of the day. Any deviation would have tipped the subject over into something false, which would have defeated the purpose of the enterprise, and rendered it useless. Also, I wanted to demonstrate how environments of privilege permit, and sometimes even encourage, narcissism to flourish. I felt that this was important, as we live in an age when many of the components of narcissistic personality disorder are regarded as desirable, and it was important to show that certain characteristics, unless curbed, have foreseeable and disastrous consequences for all concerned.

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?

There is a press kit. It is available through Daughter of Narcissus’s PR, Ailsa Macalister of Colbert Macalister, whose email is: ailsa@colmacpr.co.uk

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?

This latest book has not yet been published at the time of writing, but I have appeared on pretty much every leading UK and US chat show in the past decade and a half, as well as on such channels as CNN, A & E, the History Channel, the BBC etc. I am scheduled to give talks on Daughter of Narcissus to groups in London and to attend the Parker Ladd Literary Breakfast on the 12th February 2010 in Palm Beach, and already there has been a feature in the October issue of Tatler (England’s answer to Town & Country), and large articles in such disparate publications as the London Times and Scotland on Sunday. There are radio and TV appearances planned in both the US and the UK, as well as in Ireland, Australia and Jamaica.

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 had three agents. The first was Stephanie Bennett, whom I met through Barbara Taylor Bradford. My next agent was Sara Fisher of A.M. Heath, and my last was the fabled Joni Evans. I am not sure to what extent established writers who have a measure of business acumen need agents, but I do think that all novices do, on the basis that experience teaches wisdom, and until you have the experience you certainly need someone else’s wisdom.

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

My publisher, Dynasty Press, engaged Ailsa Macalister of Colbert Macalister, whose specialty is book promotion and she prepared a media blitz in conjunction with the publisher and me. I have worked with her previously. She did the PR on my first Diana biography, Diana in Private, in 1992, and on the book which followed that, Royal Marriages, in 1993, both of which flew off the shelves. Her concept was to get features in the top glossy, which we did with Tatler, as well as the top English and Scottish publications, which we did with the Times and Scotland on Sunday, with the Sunday Times, the Observer and the Mail to follow. This has been quite an achievement, for some of those publications will not usually touch a product their competitors have covered, yet each of them has done so in this instance. I suspect the subject is so topical that they have suspended their competitiveness in the interest of reporting on it. Daughter of Narcissus has also been sent to reviewers in the UK, and in the US through the publisher’s US promoters, The Cadence Group to pretty much every publication and book store of any note. After the print medium will come TV and radio interviews in the UK, followed by newspaper coverage and TV and radio in the US. Although I did a book tour throughout the US last year when my novel, Empress Bianca, was published, I will not be doing one this year. My children and I missed each other too acutely, and I suspect that a blog tour will reach at least as many people as a physical tour does – and maybe even more people to boot.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I most certainly do. I fully intend to write until they close the lid on my coffin, and am already committed to editing and doing a foreword for an eighteenth century memoir by a French royal at the time of the Revolution, followed by a book on the social skills that secure success. I also have another three or four books on the back burner, though it’s open to doubt that all of them will see the light of day. Unless of course I live to 112, which, if I have anything to do with it, I will.

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

My publisher’s website is www.dynastypress.co.uk and my blog address is htpp://ladycolincampbell.blogspot.com. You may find my book at online retailers such as Amazon.com.

Monday, October 26, 2009

If You Don't Do It Traditionally, Do It Anyway: Interview with Mary Patrick Kavanaugh


"If You Don't Do It Traditionally, Do It Anyway": Interview with Mary Patrick Kavanaugh

Mary Patrick Kavanaugh recently launched her first novel, Family Plots: Love, Death and Tax Evasion, at an outrageous public funeral event. A writer since the age of eight, Mary’s award winning creative non-fiction has been published in Alligator Juniper, Room of One’s Own, San Jose Mercury News, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her professional writing has appeared in numerous trade journals. She is the recipient of the nonfiction award from the Soul Making Literary Competition sponsored by the American Pen Women and was awarded writing fellowships at The David and Julia White Artist Colony, Hedgebrook: Women Authoring Change, and The Vermont Studio Center. She has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of San Francisco.

NOTE: Mary’s altar ego, “Cemetery Mary,” will be hosting a lively Funeral and Singalong on December 31, 2009, and January 2, 2010. Participants will bury dead dreams, dashed hopes, and old habits and grudges to make room for all the good that’s coming in 2010. For information about attending, please visit her blog at www.crapintocompost.com.

Book Trailer:
http://www.mydreamisdeadbutimnot.com/trailer/trailer.html

Funeral & Website:
www.marypatrick.com

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

Mary: I wrote my first complete story at age eight. It was a dark comedy about a turkey narrating her terrifying journey from the bucolic countryside farm to Thanksgiving table. My mother gave me a copy of the story recently and I was astonished that I was attempting black humor at that age. After reading the story aloud to our dinner guests in 1969, I was HOOKED on writing for an audience.

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

Mary: When my father-in-law, mother-in-law, and husband all died within a short space of time, each of them had been telling me their secrets. It was the end of a family line and I was left with a whopper of a story, full of secrets, lies, cash stashes, and hidden weapons. The fact that I am a writer combined with the insatiable need I had to make sense of it all, inspired me to finally sit down and write the story.

What kind of research was involved in writing Family Plots: Love, Death and Tax Evasion?

Mary: Because the story is based on the facts of my life, the research mostly involved me obsessively pouring over the private letters, papers, and clipping of dead family members.

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

Mary: I think a picture is worth a hundred thousand words here. Watch my Funeral YouTube, which gives an overview of how I ended up launching my writing career at a cemetery.

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

Mary:Six 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?

Mary: Yes. Her name is Karen and she works at The Creative Culture in NYC. She is my second agent, for my next book. I loved my first agent, Judith Ehrlich, and we agreed she took me as far as she could with Family Plots: Love, Death and Tax Evasion.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Mary: Yes, but I’m not rushing into it. I’m allowing the material to compost before expecting it to burst forth onto the page. That’s my excuse for not locking myself up to write for hours every single day, anyway.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

Mary: Any place quiet and private and preferably even rainy (outside). The joy of having a laptop is the work can be anywhere you are.

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

Mary: The movie. And I’d like Tina Fey to play me.

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

Mary: I think it is critical, and that we all need to support one another in blowing our own horns (as well as one another’s). I do tire of it at times, and don’t always promote when the possibility arises in conversation, but I think it’s something we all have to do no matter WHAT profession we choose. If we don’t tell folks what we are up to, how will they know? That said, please don’t tell me what you are up to on Twitter or Facebook on an hourly basis. Decernment and timing is also key.

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

Mary: Tiring of the relentless rejection and self-promotion and seemingly endless amount of work. And no, I never gave up. In fact, I was so intent on making it happen, that’s why I launched my own publicity stunt and self-published. But if it means enough to you, the problems simply transform into opportunities to find creative solutions. Obviously, this book meant enough to me that I never gave up on it’s coming into the world.

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

Mary: If you can’t do it traditionally, do it anyway. And there are so many ways to do it now, there are NO excuses.

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Interview with Joy DeKok, Author of Rain Dance



Joy DeKok and her husband, Jon, live in Minnesota on thirty-five acres of woods and fields. Joy has been writing most of her life and as a popular speaker shares her heart and passion for God with women. In addition to writing novels, she has also published a devotional and several children’s books.

Visit Joy online at: www.joydekok.com, www.believe4kids.com and www.gettingitwrite.net.

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

I’ve been writing since before I could read. While my friends were tracing the pictures in their books, I chose the words. Then, I’d tape my word pages together and dream about the day when I’d learn to put my own on paper.

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

I was cleaning house and the idea whispered its way across my mind and made itself at home. I resisted it for a year. I wanted to write children’s books not a novel. Especially not a novel about abortion and infertility. A cozy mystery maybe or a fun romantic comedy, but not an issue-based book. The word abortion might make the news, but would it hinder book sales? Even then the marketer in me was hard at work.

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

I had to break an important writing rule: no author intrusion. The main character, Jonica, is me. I tried to make her someone else and the story died. She had to be me. I realize more than anything I didn’t want my pain and doubt all over the pages of a novel. Or my husband’s struggle. This novel takes readers inside the pain of our infertility and there are no happy endings. Jonica and Stacie live with their circumstances and choices the rest of their lives. It’s hard and messy. The novel asks these questions: Can a Christian pro-life woman who cannot have children and an atheist pro-choice woman who chooses an abortion be friends? What if in spite of their vast differences they discover surprising similarities?

The other challenge I faced was I’ve never had an abortion. I wrote that chapter first then did my research – I didn’t want the knowledge to take away from the emotion. When the book found its way into the hands of women who had abortions, they wrote to tell me I’d gotten it so right and many of them believed I also had an abortion. I didn’t want to hurt anyone and worried mostly about the Stacie’s in the world – I didn’t want them hated – abortion is generally so divisive. When readers write to me and tell me Stacie is their favorite character I am glad. She’s mine too. Honestly, pro-lifers tell me all the time, “I didn’t want to like her at all, but by the end of the book, I loved her.” If I never sell another book, this will be how I define my success. Reader’s hearts were changed. I also have some from the pro-choice side who have written to say that even though the book is overtly Christian and pro-life, they read it from cover to cover – a few in one sitting. They don’t say anything about changed minds, but they found the story compelling and they look at both Christianity and infertility differently. I’m good with that. It’s not about changing the world. If I get to be part of new attitudes on this issue, wow. I’ll take that – maybe not to the bank, but there are different kinds of wealth. This is the most vital to me.

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?

I do, but it’s being redesigned right now. I needed some new video clips and to update everything else. Although I’m in my 50s, I want it my kit to be a little more interesting and trendy. Less cookie cutter and more authentic balanced with the professional. I’m asking younger women to guide me. What a blast they are. Honest, kind, but they demand the best from me. I treasure their input and am taking most of their advice. It will be back on all my websites in a couple of weeks.

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 often speak to groups of women about all my work. These audiences vary in size from 50 to 250 at a time and I have this opportunity several times a year. I am starting a blog talk radio program for writers very soon and have been interviewed several times for radio programs.

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’ve never had an agent and haven’t needed one. I know other authors consider being agented necessary – it just hasn’t been for me.

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

I’m also the Marketing Director at Sheaf House Publishing so I’ve been personally involved in the whole process of getting the word out about Rain Dance as well as our other books. We’ve placed ads in some big magazines, sent press releases, I’ve done interviews, blog tours, utilized FaceBook, Twitter, other online social networks, sent postcards, and sell-sheets. My distributor has reps contacting the book stores and talking to the people in charge of orders. I’m doing book signings and with the grand opening of Getting It Write Author Coaching, the word will continue to get out. My websites are starting to get busier and my speaking agenda is filling up.

My favorite part of my personal marketing is connecting with readers online, at book signings, after interviews, or after they’ve read something about me in the newspaper or online. Every time I’m out there at a signing or speaking, women whisper, “I’m a Stacie,” or “I’m a Jonica.” I get to hug them and they share their journey with me. This is the best part of being published.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes. The devotional I wrote and published with Barbour Publishing will be re-released by Sheaf House in 2010. I’m also working on several non-fiction releases for my author coaching business and a second novel (So far, she’s nothing like me except she also likes to wear cowboy boots!). I also have three children’s books published. Readers are asking for a sequel to Rain Dance. The Girls are talking to me again so that’s a possibility.

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

I have four websites. They are: www.joydekok.com, www.raindancebook.com, www.gettingitwrite.net, and www.believe4kids.com.

All the books are also available at all online and local bookstores.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Conversation with Gary Morgenstein, author of Jesse's Girl

Novelist/playwright Gary Morgenstein is the author of four novels. In addition to Jesse’s Girl, a thriller about a widowed father’s search for his adopted teenage son who has run away from a drug treatment program to find his biological sister, his books include the romantic triangle Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, the political thriller Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and the baseball Rocky The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees. His prophetic play Ponzi Man performed to sell-out crowds at a recent New York Fringe Festival. His other full-length work, You Can’t Grow Tomatoes in the Bronx, is in development. He can be reached at www.facebook.com/people/Gary-Morgenstein/1011217889 or at Red Room at www.redroom.com/member/garymorg.

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

Jesse’s Girl is my fourth novel, along with Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, Take Me Out to the Ballgame and The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees. I’ve also written two plays, You Can’t Grow Tomatoes in the Bronx and Ponzi Man. I’ve written since I was eight years old and developed a story about a fictitious New York Yankees shortstop. I grew up in the Bronx, in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. I’ve been a news journalist for the Cincinnati Post, sportswriter for Newsday, and for three years was the foremost professional wrestling writer on Earth. Talk about odd professions. For more than 20 years now, I’ve been in TV PR. Among the places I’ve worked are PBS, ABC News, A&E, History Channel, and in London for a British film and television producers association. Now I work for Syfy Channel. I love rock and roll and dancing and yoga and books and live in Brooklyn, New York, the center of the Universe.
Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

There’s nothing more difficult than being a parent. Please indulge my hubris in quoting my own words. The main character in Jesse’s Girl, Teddy Mentor, explains that we think marriage is ‘til death do us part, but that’s not true. Not when about half the marriages in America end in divorce. It’s parenting which is until death do us part. The good and the bad.

I wanted to write about being a father, in this case, a widowed father dealing with a teenage son, Jesse Mentor, gone off the rails, suffering from the awful illness of addiction. Throw in that the kid’s adopted, struggling to find his roots, plus Teddy and Jesse don’t exactly have a Ward and Beaver Cleaver relationship, and let the ride begin. Many times my heart ached for Teddy and Jesse because loving your child so badly you will do anything to help them, only to be roadblocked by their own resistance, creates an overwhelming anger, frustration and pain.

You parents know what I’m talking about. And if you’re not a parent, you’ve been a child and you understand from that window. But most novels about parenting are done from the perspective of a mother, few from the Dad. Without banging my tambourine for Male Liberation, guys hurt, too. We cry over our children and lie awake nights and get stressed. Perhaps, because of society and the way we’ve all been raised, both genders, we don’t show it or are afraid to show it. But it’s there.

As an adoptive father, I also wanted to explore the theme of adoption. The process is wonderful and we all celebrate the gift of a new child into the family. Yet what that masks is the trauma of the adoptee torn from his/her biological mother. The underlying sense of rejection lingers, sometimes maliciously so. Then comes puberty, the doubts about one’s origins inflame, may become infected, add to that the turmoil of teen years in the best of circumstances and you’re confronting a highly combustible situation.

I wanted to look at the difficulty of adoption from parent and adoptee, instead of just whisking issues under the rug. So the search of Jesse in the novel for his biological sister as he reaches for something to hold onto following the breakup of his parents’ marriage, exacerbated by the death of his mother, his descent into addiction, his fear of being 16 and confronting a dangerous world with no rules. What’s it like when you don’t know what your own parents look like?

Fatherhood. Addiction. Adoption. Above all else, Jesse’s Girl is about regular people. Teddy struggles to hold onto his job, 50 plus and being phased out at a PR firm. Jesse, a scared teenager with the courage to find his sister, Theresa. She in turn, looking for her own past, for love not shadowed by domestic abuse like an alien mother ship. On and on. Regular folks like all the regular folks who make up this great country, day by day, getting by, trying to do the right thing, often succeeding, but not always, and living with the consequences of both.

What kind of research was involved in writing your book?

Since I am a father, I understood what it’s like to have a teenage son. Though the issues in Jesse’s Girl are fictional, the emotions are very real. I’m a great believer in writing what you know in terms of characters, because if the people aren’t real, readers will see right through you. That said, I also strongly believe in using the reality to create the fiction; emotional footprints if you will. Take what happened but make it a new world. That is what a writer owes his audience. Otherwise they can read a newspaper.


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

I think heart and soul to being a writer is a bumpy ride. The same people who say “Oh yeah, my writing career’s a piece of cake” are those who say, “Yes, I loved my high school years.” Uh-huh, right. I published at a young age, 27, followed it up with another novel at 30, and then went into the wilderness, focused on plays, my family, until returning now to novels, my true love. How can anything as ephemeral as the creative process be anything but rocky?

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

The book is a publication of Amazon, so it was quickly available at the largest online store in the world. I figured if Amazon was President Obama’s choice to publish his two books, it’d be good enough for me. My dear friend Maximillien de Lafayette, a best-selling author at Amazon who has written more than 30 books on the ancient Annunakis, introduced me to the people there.

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 don’t have an agent though I have had them before. Like any situation where you put your trust and faith in someone, a good agent is a Godsend, a poor one something much less so.


Do you plan subsequent books?

Oh sure, I’m already working on a new novel now, another thriller, also touching on the issues of fatherhood.


Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

I like sitting propped up in bed like Marcel Proust. Except I listen to hard rock on my iPod and use a laptop, which I don’t think he used. Though we both like red wine.

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

I’d create a trailer that would run on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard and at Madison Square Garden during New York Knicks games. I’d also have Jesse’s Girl written on the back of the New York Giants uniforms. And maybe I’d slip the President a few bucks so at his next press conference he’d say, “Buy this book or I will raise your taxes.”

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

It’s critical. There are so many entertainment choices along with so many talented writers that you need to find any way to break through the clutter and get recognition for your work. I’ve been blogging, garnering reviews (excellent ones by the way) and have an angel named Dorothy Thompson, who has put together a virtual book tour for me at Pump Up Your Book Promotion. That’s my first virtual tour and I don’t know what to expect, perhaps a hologram of me in cyber-space.

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

I’m like Rocky Balboa. I never give up, no matter how many times my knee or other parts have hit the canvas. I think writers give up on their dreams for the same reasons most people abandon their dreams – the effort is too great and they’re not prepared to pay the price. But what is life if you don’t pursue a dream?


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

Work work work at it. When asked how he wrote, the late great New York Times sportswriter Red Smith said, “I just cut open a vein and bleed into the typewriter.” That about sums it up. The exhilaration and torment of writing is an incomparable experience. The overwhelming preponderance of us won’t become rich and famous. So you must write to reach people, for those simple moments when you can touch a perfect stranger and move them with your words. That is what it is all about.

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

Thank you so much for having me on The Writer’s Life.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to Balance Writing and Home Life

How to Balance Writing and Home Life by Thriller Author Gary Morgenstein

Writing is total war. You are in the trenches of your imagination with fictional characters who nag and scold and clamor for constant attention. Everything you see, think, experience, ponder is a prism for the work. In a way, writing’s like living in a maximum-security prison except you get to order in Thai food and DVR Sons of Anarchy (my favorite show). Escape is difficult.

But you must, otherwise you will lose your mind. And for a writer, so absorbed in make-believe worlds, an intense physical world is imperative.

For 15 years I studied martial arts and rose to first-degree black belt. My discipline was Okinawan go-ju-te, though my senseis (teachers) always incorporated other types of martial arts, from Chinese staff and Filipino sticks to Japanese swords (I always managed to slice my stomach practicing one specific routine).

Classes in the dojo, working out in between, mastering the zen of being prepared to respond if someone tried hurting you or a loved one. Preferably without being physical. Once in London with my son, packed in a crowded elevator at a tube station heading to the theatre, a 30-something man inadvertently pushed him. Being eight, he pushed back. The guy started jawing at my child.

Papa Bear shot him a long, steely look, saying in my Brooklyn accent, “Chill man.” The elevator of Brits quieted at the reincarnation of Leo Gorcey, but the dude ignored me, continuing his trash talk. I repeated, “I said, chill man.” His girl friend tugged at his sleeve, gesturing at my expression You don’t want to go there. Convinced he might be headed for a diet of soft foods, he quickly sought a graceful way to exit. I said to my son, “See, that’s how to handle disputes, without violence,” but, being eight, he was a little disappointed his father hadn’t smashed the guy’s head.

About a year and a half ago, I got tired of hitting and being hit. Once I wore my bruises proudly. At a certain point in life, stubbing your toe can send you to the Mayo Clinic, much less punched by some 20-year-old white belt looking to impress his girl friend.

I turned to vinyasser yoga. Compared to martial arts training, I expected mellow. Guess again. Different training utilizes different muscles. My first couple classes, I felt like my body was made of low quality plywood. I tilted, groaned and, since I have a bad right knee from playing football as a kid, certain positions defied me. Gradually, my body adjusted and embraced. Now I’m a yoga addict. Plus there are so many pretty girls in the class!

Hey, I never claimed to be Buddha. Writing does require all kinds of balances.

Novelist/playwright Gary Morgenstein is the author of four novels. In addition to Jesse’s Girl, a thriller about a widowed father’s search for his adopted teenage son who has run away from a drug treatment program to find his biological sister, his books include the romantic triangle Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, the political thriller Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and the baseball Rocky The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees. His prophetic play Ponzi Man performed to sell-out crowds at a recent New York Fringe Festival. His other full-length work, You Can’t Grow Tomatoes in the Bronx, is in development. He can be reached at www.facebook.com/people/Gary-Morgenstein/1011217889. You can pick up your copy of Jesse's Girl at Amazon by clicking here!

How about you? How do you handle writing and home life?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pump Up Your Book Promotion Announces New Blog

Pump Up Your Book Promotion has now extended their services to include a new blog in which to promote their authors on virtual book tours. We offer tour pages, author interviews, radio shows and reviews for our authors. Don't forget you have until Oct. 31 to sign up for our 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Tour Package which includes 12 - 15 stops from Dec. 1 to Dec. 16. A super deal for the author who wants to sell their books during the holiday season. All details are on the blog at www.pumpupyourbook.com. Sign up before time runs out and get optimum exposure in the search engines and great savings. Let us take your book to the virtual level!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Introducing Historical Fiction Author Kathleen Cunningham Guler



Novelist Kathleen Cunningham Guler is the author of the multi-award winning Macsen’s Treasure Series, adult historical fiction set in fifth century Britain. Drawing on a long background in history and literature as well as her Welsh and Scottish heritage, she has also published numerous articles, essays, reviews, short stories and poetry. The author is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the International Arthurian Society and participates in various writing organizations.

Website: http://kathleenguler.com
Blog: Lighting Up Britain’s Dark Ages http://kathleenguler.blogspot.com
Blog: Macsen’s Treasure Series http://macsenstreasure.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/kathleenguler
Twitter: http://twitter.com/kathleenguler


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

Thank you very much for inviting me to chat with you. I’m honored! I have always loved medieval history, literature and writing, not necessarily in that order. Though I’ve earned an art degree and a business degree, I probably have enough time and study put in to have earned history and English degrees as well.

Writing was something I’d done for fun since grade school—my best friend and I made up short stories to exchange with each other. I was also the odd kid who would go home and write my own story if I didn’t like the one read in class. Then, back in the early 1980’s, after reading a particularly dull book set in a historical period, a moment of supreme egotism came over me. I muttered, “I’ll bet I could do at least as good as this.” That’s when I started the long journey to becoming a novelist.

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

A Land Beyond Ravens, like all the other books in the Macsen’s Treasure Series, is a historical spy thriller set in fifth century Britain. It continues the story of master spy Marcus ap Iorwerth’s efforts to keep the country free from oppressive Saxon dominance and to aid in the fulfillment of Myrddin Emrys’ (Merlin) prophecy that a great king called Arthur will one day take the crown.

In this, the final installment of the series, Marcus discovers the emerging Christian church is gaining enough power as an independent faction to dangerously shift control of Britain. At the same time, his beloved wife Claerwen, gifted with second sight, is plagued with strange dreams that connect inexplicable doom to both Arthur and a long lost grail sacred to Britain’s high kings. But as Marcus struggles to distract the church, he and Myrddin also set up the very doom Claerwen sees. It seems they accidentally set things in motion that will send a lot of folks off chasing something called a grail…

What kind of research was involved in writing A Land Beyond Ravens?

My research has included everything from reading a vast array of reference books and academic articles on Dark Age Britain, Celtic culture and Arthurian legend, to travel to many of the locations in Britain where the story takes place, to tracking down and corresponding with scholars on the era. Research is never truly done until the book goes to print. New questions that need to be answered or facts that need confirmation always arise during the writing, revision and editing phases.

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

Let’s just say I could wallpaper my house with letters asking to see the full manuscript, more letters showing subsequent interest and questions, then ultimately, the rejection slips. The good news is that after the first of my books was finally published, I’ve been extremely lucky to have been able to stay with the same publisher.

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

I had a contract to write the fourth book a few months after the third book was released in March 2006, so that would make it three years.

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

At this time, I don’t have an agent. I’ve been lucky to have developed a wonderful relationship with a small publisher, my editor in particular.

With the growing abundance of small publishers out there now, it’s not absolutely necessary to have an agent. However, for new authors, I would recommend trying the agent route to start with—it may help maximize the chances of finding a publisher.

I would also recommend caution—do not blindly jump in with the first agent who offers representation unless that agent is truly a good fit to both the book and the author. Years ago I did have an agent but she kept trying to sell my first book, Into the Path of Gods, as a “historical romance,” which it is not. While all my books have an element of romance, they don’t fit the “formula” for publishers of that genre. Needless to say, she failed to sell the book and I found success elsewhere.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A Land Beyond Ravens is the last book in the Macsen’s Treasure Series, so there won’t be any more of those. However, I have several more historical novels planned. The next one I hope to tackle will be a novel-length group of interconnected short stories, each set in a different time.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

My husband and I have four small businesses that we run out of one office, so I’m pretty much tied to that location. It’s well stocked with many of my research books, so at least I’m surrounded by all that sort of energy.

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

Travel to all the Celtic festivals, Renaissance faires, re-enactment groups, book clubs, libraries—anywhere I could give talks or participate in activities with the folks who are my best audience. If there’s a way to buy time and energy as well in order to do all this, I’d invest in that, too.

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

Self-promotion or lack thereof is what makes or breaks a book’s success. It’s difficult and time consuming, and the solitary nature of a writer often works against being good at promotion, but without it, a book will never make it. This hit home for me years ago when I attended a conference and people would say, “Oh, I’ve heard of your publisher,” but they had no idea of who I was or what my books were about. Since then, I’ve worked at ways to bring myself more into the spotlight.

Online, the best success lately has been due to the advent of Twitter, Facebook and blogging. If I can drive someone to my blog, where I have been accumulating short pieces on the research behind my books, they often become interested enough to buy a book. It offers much more information than just the blurb on the cover. This is my first virtual book tour, which I’m enjoying very much, and hope will lead to good exposure. Offline, I still try to do the occasional bookstore signing, but I’ve found giving talks at organizations that enjoy my kind of work and places like libraries bring in a better audience.

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

To write something as long as a novel takes commitment of yourself, your time, and your willingness to learn not only the craft of writing but how to do the research that goes into it. It also requires the patience to raise the quality of writing from a craft to an art. You must be able to dig down into yourself farther than you ever have. It also takes having an excellent critique group or writing partner that can help with developing style and flushing out problems. I believe most people who give up either won’t make this kind of commitment or are afraid of criticism.

Personally, I have always been too stubborn to give up. There were times when I was forced to set the work aside, but I never even thought of giving up.

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


Be persistent. Be patient. Join a good critique group. Read the work of highly respected authors to learn from them; meet them if you can. And most of all, keep writing!

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

Thank you! It’s been my pleasure!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Interview with Stella Mazzucchelli, Author of Silk Flowers Never Die



Stella Metaxa Mazzucchelli was born in Athens, Greece and married, aged eighteen, Riccardo Mazzucchelli, the famous Italian businessman. During their twenty two year marriage, they lived in Zambia and London, where she became a well-known figure on the social scene, and had a brief and successful modelling career at the unusual age of 28. Fedele is their only child. After their divorce, Riccardo married Ivana Trump in 1995, though the marriage was short lived. Stella now lives in Athens where she brings up her grand-daughter Katerina. As well as being involved in the property and renovation business, which ensures she maintains connections with London, she is also a tireless campaigner for the better understanding of schizophrenia and mental illness. Silk Flowers Never Die is her first book.

You can find Stella online at www.dynastypress.co.uk and at her blog www.dynastypress.co.uk/news.html .

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

My father was Greek and my mother South African. I married Riccardo Mazzucchelli whom I met when I was sixteen. I eloped to marry him in Zambia when I was eighteen. I gave birth to my son Fedele the same year. My marriage lasted for twenty two years but as most teenage romances, we grew apart and I left him. During those roller-coaster years of love and sadness I began to rely heavily on alcohol. Riccardo went on to marry Ivana Trump which more or less coincided with my son's diagnoses of schizophrenia. Unfortunately I had not yet gathered enough strength within myself to confront his illness, therefore I can honestly state that that period of my life was the most terrifying.

Silk Flowers Never Die is my first book and it took me five years to write.

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

I always felt the need to share the devastation I confronted when my son was diagnosed with schizophrenia, but unfortunately alcohol dependency got in the way. It was only when I put aside the bottle and cleared the fog dampening my senses that I could actually get around to putting pen to paper and release my emotions. Apart from the pain of witnessing my child turn from a happy well balanced individual into a scared and tormented soul, the stigma of having such an antisocial and fear-provoking illness caused us to shun the community as we battled on in silence. It was indeed a very lonely existence. My aim is to campaign against that stigma and consequently alleviate some of the unjustified shame.

The first half of my book deals with my son's schizophrenia and the second is dedicated to the birth of his daughter and death of his wife who succumbed to terminal cancer. I have tried to be as upbeat as possible doing my best not to plunge my reader into despair. I think that I have achieved my goal.I compare each day in our life to a page in a book which has to be turned, as it could be hiding something good and exciting. If we don't turn it or are to scared to, we will never know....

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

My biggest challenges were to keep a fast moving pace that flowed, keep my reader keen while not depressing him too much, as there are many people out there who do not want to dwell too long on sorrow and torment. In other words, I had to find ways of provoking a smile or two before bringing them back to the tragedy I was recounting. Not an easy task I can assure you when you are dealing with two of the most devastating illnesses, schizophrenia and cancer.

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, I do. It includes a letter to potential reviewers, publicity information about Silk Flowers Never Die, the back cover blurb, reviews, and my author's biography.

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?

Not as yet. I certainly hope that I will in the future. The only thing certain at the moment is that,together with SANE we are hoping to organize a charity event which will take place in London in November and I will be making a speech then, even though I find the thought terrifying. My only encouragement is that I tend to come alive when I discuss issues relating to mental diseases and the 'stigma' therefore I hope I will not embarrass my cause.

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 suppose I was lucky that I did not need an agent. I had connections in the publishing business, they liked my book and went on to publish it.

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

Not yet, but it might happen.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I found it difficult to adapt to the void I felt during my writing hours which were from 7am to 11am. Finishing Silk Flowers was as though I had just given birth, yet had no baby to hold. My fingers were itching to type, but I felt too emotionally drained to start another book dealing with such deep emotions. As I was pacing the floor I caught Ceaser, my seven year old Poodle, eying me with curiosity and decided to start a fluffy, humorous recount of his life.

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

Although things have moved at a rapid pace, I do not have a site yet. It will happen very soon, but in the mean time I can be found on Amazon and www.dynastypress.oc.uk. Shops in the U.K. that stock my book are Waterstones and Hatchards. My book will be released in the U.S.A. on the 20th. Oct. 009.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Interview with Children's Picture Book Author Diana Rumjahn

Diana Rumjahn earned a bachelor’s degree in social science from San Francisco State University where she currently works at the College of Creative Arts. She wrote and directed the film Going Home which has been screened at venues worldwide. She is also the author of the new children's picture book, Charlie and Mama Kyna. Rumjahn resides in San Francisco and is currently at work on film and book projects.

We interviewed Diana to find out more about her life as a published author.

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

Diana: I am a filmmaker and published author. I have been writing ever since I was 5 years old. The book is about stuffed animals so I must share with you that I just love stuffed animals. They are so cute and bring a smile to me. I like films of different genres such as comedy, drama, action, documentary, science fiction, fantasy, and special interest.

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

Diana: Charlie and Mama Kyna is an award-winning charming book with beautiful illustrations for children. The story and illustrations are based on my internationally acclaimed film, Going Home, which was shown worldwide, including 45 film festivals and London Film Festival.

The story is about a little stuffed animal frog named Charlie who runs away in fear after accidentally breaking his mother’s favorite vase. Charlie makes his way to the city and meets a stuffed animal Lion named Leo and a stuffed animal giraffe named Joe outside Mrs. Cupcake’s Bakery. The three become best friends and live inside a little orange tent outside the bakery.

After awhile, Charlie becomes homesick, misses his mother, Kyna, decides to go home and invites Leo and Joe to live with them. On the next sunny day, Charlie, Leo and Joe, journey to find Mama Kyna’s home.

The book was written because I received so much positive responses for the film, Going Home. My passion is to tell you this story.

What kind of research was involved in writing Charlie and Mama Kyna?

Diana: This book was based on my international award-winning film, Going Home.

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

Diana: It has been a lot of hard-work for me as the author.

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

Diana: It took almost a year.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Diana: yes.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

Diana: The coffee shop in the busy areas of San Francisco. There is a lot of action and interesting people that walk by and have coffee at the café.
How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Diana: It is up to the individual to self-promote his or her own book which makes self-promotion very important. My book has received numerous published book reviews. In addition, the book just won an award for Best Short Story for Children from The 39th Annual Marin County Fair, Marin County, California.
What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

Diana: The lack of communication from book associates can be very discouraging for the writers.
Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Diana: Don’t give up hope. Be persistent. Keep up the good work.
Thank you for your interview, Diana. I wish you much success!

Diana: Thank you.

You can visit Diana Rumjahn on the web at www.dianarumjahn.com.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Interview with USA Today Bestselling Author Dianne Castell

USA Today best selling author Dianne Castell writes for Kensington BRAVA. She also writes a monthly editor interview column for Romance Writers Report. Her books have won Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, been on the cover of Romantic Times Magazine and included in Rhapsody Book Club, Doubleday Book Club and have made the Waldenbooks Bestseller list. The second book in her Savannah Sizzles series for the BRAVA line, Hot and Irresistible, hits the shelves Nov‘09. Hot Summer Nights is out May ’10. Dianne lives in Cincinnati with her two cats and will do just about anything to get out of housework. You can visit her website at www.DianeCastell.com or on Facebook by clicking here.

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

It’s great being here at The Writers’s Life and chatting about books and writing. Thanks for having me.

My first book, Court-Appointed Marriage, was with Harlequin American in 2001. I wrote for eight years before getting published and met the very best people along the way. I’m still best friends with Lori Foster and Rosemary Laurey, LuAnn McLane and Toni Blake, all who I met before any of us were published.

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

Hot and Irresistible is my November release and the second book in my Savannah Sizzles series. I wrote this series because I love Savannah and all things Southern…the history, the food, the talk, the long hot nights made for falling in love. I love writing about best friends and I love a bit a mystery and I really love writing sexy alpha heroes.

What kind of research was involved in writing Hot and Irresistible?

To write a book set in Savannah you have to go there and not just once. You need to experience the city in tourist season and when the locals get to reclaim it for their own. Those who live in Savannah love it. They fought long and hard to keep the big mansions, twenty-three squares and unique little shops from the wrecking ball and big box stores. It is the South. It is unique.
I have a bit of voodoo in my books and that too is a special aspect of Savannah. It’s not simply a tourist enticement but a part of the culture, not that all want to admit it but it’s a fact. Savannah is a character in Hot and Irresistible. It couldn’t be set in NY or LA.

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

I wrote for eight years before getting published but I’ve had books out continuously since 2001. There are always bumps along the way but the fun and excitement of being a published author has be one heck of a ride. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

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

I had a three book contract so there was a longer time from signing till the release of this second 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?

I think it’s best to have an agent. However it’s harder to get a good agent than get published. And worse than having no agent is having a bad agent. Never sign a contract other than book-to-book. Not a three year contract. If your agent suddenly isn’t in love with your work he/she won’t send it out or promote it and you are stuck for years. This will kill your career.

My agent is Roberta Brown and she is the very best! I cannot say enough good things about Roberta. If you can get her to represent you, you are indeed lucky!

Do you plan subsequent books?

I have a third Savannah book out in May, 2010. Hot Southern Nights.

The hero is a badass. The heroine knows the bad part first-hand because she got him thrown in jail three years ago. She knows the ass part because they did the deed on her twenty-first birthday in the backseat of his ’67 red Mustang convertible.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?


I always write in my office which I just redid. There’s room for my two cats to sleep next to the computer…just like they are now… and three windows for great light and nice views of the garden.

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

Oh that is such an easy question! A publicist! I would kill for a publicist!
It is critical to promote your books but it eats time, time you should be writing.
Websites, Facebook, sending out ARCs, bookmarks, setting up contests, ads in RT, RWR and online sites is essential but keeping up on it all takes a lot of time and effort.

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


Self-promo is a must if you don’t have the publicist. I have bookmarks and posters to send to booksellers. I have a webpage of course and do Face Book and blogs and chats. I’m part of the Vamps and Scamps, an online group that hangs out and talks books and everything else. It’s good to keep your name out there even when you don’t have a release.

Also it’s important to give back to the community and help other writers get published. Lori Foster and I put on the Lori Foster/Dianne Castell Reader-Writer Get Together every year where all money we raise from raffle baskets and the bookfair are donated to local charities. This year we donated nearly ten-thousand dollars to One Way Farm, a local shelter for abandoned and abused children. In the past we donated to the YWCA battered women’s shelter and no-kill animal shelter. At the event…next year will be out sixth year…we bring in editors and agents and publishers so writers can pitch their work and find representation and get published. We’ve all had help getting where we are and Lori and I do the event as payback and for just plain fun.

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

I had so much time invested in writing I couldn’t give up. And I have enough reject letters to paper my office. Not that I did but I could have.

I think many give up because of the rejection factor. It’s not easy to be told over and over that your book “just won’t work for us.” Writing is a really tough business and it is a business, make no mistake on that.

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

There are a few things I live by…or try to.
--Never give up!
--Four pages a day!
--Just write it…fix it later

I keep these on a sign over my computer. I’m looking at them now. These three things will get you published. Promise!

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

Thanks for having me. This has been great fun. I wish all writers a publisher who appreciates them and all readers an unforgettable book that rocks their world. Hugs, Dianne

If you would like to purchase your copy of Dianne Castell's latest romance novel, Hot and Irresistible, click here!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

USA Today Bestselling Author Dianne Castell on Barry "Storyheart" Eva's A Book and a Chat Radio Show

Dianne Castell, author of the romance novel, Hot and Irresistible (Kensington Brava), was recently interviewed on Barry "Storyheart" Eva's online radio show, A Book and a Chat, as part of her Hot and Irresistible Virtual Book Tour ‘09 with Pump Up Your Book Promotion during October ‘09.

USA Today best selling author Dianne Castell writes for Kensington Books. She also writes a monthly editor interview column for Romance Writers Report. Her books have won Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, been on the cover of Romantic Times Magazine and included in Rhapsody Book Club, Doubleday Book Club and have made the Waldenbooks Bestseller list.

The second book in her Savannah Sizzles series for the BRAVA line, Hot and Irresistible, hits the shelves Nov‘09. Dianne lives in Cincinnati with her two cats and will do just about anything to get out of housework. You can visit her website at www.diannecastell.com or email her at dianecastell@hotmail.com.

Listen to Dianne talk about her book by clicking here!

Book Excerpt: Hot and Irresistible by Dianne Castell

“Don’t you dare go feeling sorry for me because, Donovan McCabe, I sure as hell don’t need a pity party and now you want to tell me what you’re doing on my front stoop?”

Her gaze met his and she braced herself for the Oh, you poor thing look but instead Donovan bent his head and kissed her. She started to protest but her lips were busy and suddenly her tongue was too and then her arms got into the act and then her insides melted into goo which had acid beat all to hell and back. This was all wrong on every level except one...Donovan McCabe felt so darn good when she was feeling crappy as hell.

How many times had Dara struck and no one had been there? But here and now on this beautiful spring morning, there was Donovan McCabe. She breathed, a sense of peace she’d never known before in her whole life filling her up like a glass long empty. She leaned into him and took one more kiss, just a little with a tiny nibble of his bottom lip to chase away the lingering chill of Dara, then Bebe stepped back. Every cell in her body...except the two rational cells still functioning in her brain... insisted she was the most stupid woman on planet earth for not staying locked in his arms.

“What was that all about?” The question was as much for her as him because she didn’t know what to think about the effect he had on her.

“You look like a woman who needed a hug and the kiss part just snuck in.” His voice was steady but there was unsure spark in his eyes that said he didn’t just go around kissing every woman who may have the need. But she didn’t need him to be nice and she wished like hell he hadn’t seen Dara. It was Bebe’s private life, the part she kept tucked away as best she could even from Brie, Priss and Charlotte . A crappy childhood did not transfer into a crappy life. “Are you playing me, McCabe? Softening me up so I’ll help you nail Cleveland ? Well, I won’t and I can handle Dara.”

“How about I look the other way and you just shoot her.”

Bebe broke into a laugh and today she didn’t think she’d be laughing about anything. “I’ll lend you my gun,” he continued, looking perfectly serious. “Or at least blast the bitch verbally. I’ve seen you in action, you’re a hellcat when riled. Why not now?”

If he hadn’t offered his gun she would have told Donovan to butt out but he did offer and he’d kissed her when she needed it and she wasn’t in the habit of needing much. A new meaning of good cop, bad cop. “A conditioned response from when I was a kid. Dara’s favorite game was to threaten to leave me in the marsh if I didn’t do what she said. Scared the hell out of me and you never did say way you’re here.” Why the hell was she telling McCabe all this? Fallout from a dynamite kiss.

“When my mother tells me to stand up straight and get a haircut I still do it.” A gentle smile that comes from thinking of good stuff softened his face. “Except my mom’s nothing like yours, though I do remember threats of military school.” He leaned against the side of the apartment looking as if the place belonged to him. He was that kind of guy, one who fit in anywhere, probably even military school. Bebe felt as if she fit in nowhere and she’d lived in Savannah all her life. He said, “I’m here because I didn’t want to air our problems in front of the whole station. We need to talk about how we’re going to handle Ray Cleveland.”

This was better. Arguing over work was a piece of cake, reminiscing about a screwed up childhood was a piece of shit. “I said I’m not helping you with Cleveland, McCabe and I haven’t changed my mind so there’s no need for kisses that curl my toes.” Well damn. She was on a roll till the toes part. When Donovan was around she had to learn to think before she opened her big mouth...which could lead to more kissing and then tongues. What in the almighty hell was she going to do with Donovan McCabe!

Excerpt from Hot and Irresistible by Dianne Castell. If you would like to pick up your copy of Hot and Irresistible, click here! Visit the author's website at www.diannecastell.com.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Book Excerpt: The Peruke Maker: The Salem Witch Hunt Curse by Ruby Dominguez

Prologue

The wig advertisement on a website cuaght my attention, and it read: “Wigs made from 100% hand tied human hair, grown, and harvested from reliable and youthful donors.”

An eerie sense crawls up my spine. But I ordered one anyway, and it came in a beautiful golden box, to my delight. Excitedly, I positioned the wig on my head and applied red lipstick on, while Mudd my pet dachshund curiously spies from under the bed. Appreciating my reflection in the mirror, I somehow lost track of time, have fallen into a deep slumber and dreamed…

The pale moon peeks at the seams of dark foreboding clouds. My long red hair flowing in the wind. Clad in a bloodstained sheer white lingerie, running barefoot after Mudd across the field. Mudd is running farther away, streaked with blood stains.

I ended before a big arch wooden door and knocked frantically, calling out for my father’s help. The door opens and I find Mudd next to him. Breathlessly I asked, “Father, what’s wrong with Mudd?” Mystifyingly I hear his mind speak, “It’s not blood, it’s ink.”

Excerpt from The Peruke Maker: The Salem Witch Hunt Curse by Ruby Dominguez. Visit the author on the web at www.salemcurse.wordpress.com. Pick up a copy of her screenplay/book at Amazon by clicking here!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Book Excerpt: Angel Lane by Sheila Roberts

Change. Sarah hated it, unless it was good and was happening to her. What she hated most was when people moved away. First her sister and brother-in-law had to drift off to California in search of sun – which was highly overrated, if you asked Sarah – and take her nieces. (At least one of them had had the good sense to come back.) Then Jonathan had left. And now Steph was moving.

And speaking of moving, Sarah thought, checking out the strangers driving past her, was Heart Lake some new destination spot? It seemed like lately she was seeing as many new faces as old, familiar ones. Why couldn’t life stay the same?

By the time she came through the door of the chocolateria even the sensual aroma that danced around her nose couldn’t tease her into a happy mood.

She took in the array of truffles behind the glass counter with a scowl and marched to where her niece, Jamie Moore, stood, smiling and holding out a steaming cup of Sarah’s usual weekly treat, a coconut mocha. (Hold the whipped cream – a woman had to draw the line somewhere.)

“I hope that’s a double,” said Sarah. “I need it.”

“A double with decaf so you won’t be awake all night,” said Jamie. She arched a delicately penciled blonde eyebrow. “Is this a two truffle day?”

“More like a ten, but I’ll stop at one. How could you tell?”

“Other than the fact that I knew Steph was leaving today? Just a lucky guess.”

Sarah took the mocha with a sigh and moved over to the glass case. A summer of weekly truffle treats at her niece’s new shop had already added three pounds to her hips. Even when Sarah was young she’d had a bit of a bubble butt. After opening the bakery it had grown from a bubble to a balloon, and now, by fifty-six, it was nearing the size of a hot air balloon. Every once in awhile she suggested to herself that changing this weekly coffee klatch to the back room of Emma’s quilt shop wouldn’t be a bad idea. A girl couldn’t get fat on fabric.

Her friend Kizzy, who owned a kitchen shop in town, kept urging her to join her teeny bikini diet club, but Sarah wasn’t ready for that. So Kizzy settled for getting Sarah out on a Sunday afternoon walk around the lake. Sarah wasn’t sure it did much good. At the rate she was going, to see any improvement she’d probably have to walk all the way to Florida. And back.

Okay, one truffle. She bent over to examine the rows and rows of treats calling to her from behind glass. Flavors ranged from dark chocolate with Grand Marnier filling to white chocolate with lavender. Then there was the fudge: traditional chocolate, rocky road, penuche, and the new caliente flavor with its south of the border bite. And now, with summer giving way to fall, white and milk chocolate-dipped apples had replaced double-chocolate ice cream bars.

“Decisions, decisions,” teased Jamie. How she managed to stay a size eight was a mystery.

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the girl didn’t eat.

“Don’t laugh. It’s hard when you’re only choosing one,” said Sarah. “You could do my hips a good deed and come up with a no-fat, no-calorie truffle.”

“I could,” Jamie agreed, “if I made it out of cardboard.”

“How about the white chocolate-raspberry?”

“Good choice,” Jamie approved, and pulled one out for her.

The shop door opened and in stepped a woman in her early thirties with a round, freckled face, a curvy figure, and strawberry blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. She had a coat thrown on over jeans and a pink flower print flowing top. Emma Swanson, proud owner of Emma’s Quilt Corner. One Wednesday in September, she’d wandered into the shop just as Jamie and Sarah were getting ready to end their day with a dose of chocolate. The impromptu get together had quickly become a weekly tradition, and casual friendship had made a fast evolution into sisterhood.

Emma flipped the sign hanging on the door to Closed and locked it, announcing, “It’s officially five.”

“Good,” Jamie said with a sigh. “I’m ready to sit down. I’m pooped.”

“Too much business,” said Emma. “I wish I had that problem,” she added with a sigh.

“Be patient,” Sarah told her. “Quilting is catching on.”

“I hope so,” said Emma. “So far my best customers are still my grandma and my mom. And Mom doesn’t even quilt. Oh, and you, of course,” she added, smiling at Sarah.

Sarah had spent a small fortune on fabric a week earlier so she could make quilts for both the girls for Christmas. She’d been so busy with the bakery that she hadn’t quilted in years. But she was sure it would all come back to her, like riding a bicycle. She hadn’t ridden a bicycle in years, either. She’d rather quilt.

They settled at one of the white bistro tables on the other side of the shop, Emma and Sarah armed with their mochas and truffles and Jamie only with a cup of chocolate tea.

“No wonder you’re so skinny,” Emma said, pointing to it. “I don’t know how you keep from eating all your inventory.”

“I have Clarice for that. Anyway, I sampled so many truffles when I was first learning how to make these things that I don’t care if I ever taste another one again as long as I live. Well, unless it’s a new recipe,” she amended.

“I sampled a lot of my recipes when I started the bakery, too,” said Sarah. “All it did was turn me into an S.T.”

“Yeah, that was what did it all right,” mocked Jamie.

“What’s an S.T.?” asked Emma.

“Sweet Tooth,” Jamie answered for Sarah. “And you were an S.T. before you even opened the bakery. I was around, remember?”

Sarah shook her head. “This is the problem with having an older sister who makes you an aunt before your time. You end up with lippy nieces who know too much.”

“You imported me,” Jamie reminded her with a smile.

“And I’m glad I did. Someone in your family needed to come back home. You make a great addition to Heart Lake.” She took a sip of her mocha, then sighed.

“They’ll be back by Christmas,” Jamie reminded her, accurately interpreting the sigh.

“Seeing them go had to be pretty hard,” said Emma. “I know how much you love your granddaughters.”

“My mom wore sunglasses when I went to say good-bye,” said Jamie.

“Doesn’t everybody in L.A. wear sunglasses?” asked Emma.

“In the house?”

“Um, that’s weird.”

“She didn’t want me to see she’d been crying.”

“I was brave and didn’t cry,” bragged Sarah. “Not until they left, anyway.”

“Well, we sure could use a few more Stephs here,” said Jamie. “You’re not going to believe this, but two little twits ran the four-way-stop on Lake Way and Alder yesterday.”

Emma looked at her questioningly. “Somebody ran a stop sign and you’re surprised?”

“Somebody ran a stop sign in Heart Lake and I’m surprised,” Jamie corrected her. “There were two old ladies at the crosswalk. If I hadn’t let them go they’d still be standing there.”

“You know, people used to just about kill each other with kindness at that four-way stop,” Sarah reminisced.

“Well, they’ve kept the kill each other part,” said Jamie.

Emma sighed. “I wish Heart Lake could stay just like it was when I was in school.”

“Nice places like this can’t help but grow,” Sarah said. “Everyone wants to be the last person in Paradise. Of course, as more people move into Paradise it gets harder to stay connected. Then people stop caring and it’s not paradise any more.” She frowned and took a sip of her mocha. “I guess people are too busy to be nice.”

“It only takes a minute to let two old ladies cross the street,” Jamie said in disgust.

“Well, there’s your random act of kindness for the day,” Sarah told her. “You know,” she added thoughtfully, “if everybody just did one nice thing a day . . .”

“We’d be living in Mayberry,” Jamie finished.

“I used to love those old reruns when I was a kid,” said Emma.

Jamie rolled her eyes. “Why am I not surprised?”

Sarah was still thinking. “Why couldn’t we do one good deed a day?” she asked suddenly. “It might be fun to try. You know, paying it forward.”

“Like in the movie,” Emma said with a smile.

“That worked real well at the stop-sign,” said Jamie. She downed the last of her chocolate mint tea. “Well, here’s my something. Your chocolate therapy is on the house,” she said to Sarah and Emma. It always was, but she cocked an eyebrow and grinned at Emma. “So, top that.”

“Maybe I will,” Emma said. “If I see a hot-looking homeless guy, I’ll take him in for the night.”

Okay, they weren’t taking her seriously. Sarah could see that. But somewhere in there was a good idea, and she was going to find it.

--Book Excerpt from Angel Lane by Sheila Roberts. You can visit Sheila on the web at www.sheilasplace.com or pick up a copy of her book at Amazon by clicking here!