Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pump Up Your Book's 12 Days of Christmas '09 Virtual Book Tour Video



We at Pump Up Your Book are proud to announce the following authors on virtual book tour in December '09:
Michael Anthony, author of the Iraq war memoir, Mass Casualties
Malana Ashlie, author of the travel autibiography, Gringo in Paradise
David Berner, author of the self-help memoir, Accidental Lessons
James Burns, author of the financial self-help nonfiction, The 3 Secret Pillars of Wealth
Joy Dekok, author of the contemporary women's novel, Rain Dance
James Diehl, author of the historical nonfiction, World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware
Hope Edelman, author of the personal memoir, The Possibility of Everything
Michael Estepa, author of the young adult crime fiction, Purged by Darkness
Bernadine Feagins, author of the children's book, Hakim and Terrance Shadow Mystery
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, author of the tween and teen fiction book, The Truth: I'm a Girl, I'm Smart and I Know Everything
Joan Hochstetler, author of the historical novel, Wind of the Spirit
Ingrid King, author of the personal memoir, Buckley's Story
Jacqueline Klosek, author of the legal human rights book, War on Privacy
Barbara Knobova, author of the relationship book, Tales for Delicious Girls
Gale Laure, author of the mystery suspense novel, Evolution of a Sad Woman
Stephen Masse, author of the suspense fiction novel, A Jolly Good Fellow
Beverly Stowe McClure, author of the tween/teen contemporary novel, Just Breeze
J.W. Nicklaus, author of the book of short stories, The Light, The Dark & Ember Between
Maryann Paige, author of the horror novel, Cemetery Gates
Dixie Phillips, author of the children's picture book, One Noble Journey
Dot Ryan, author of the historical fiction, Corrigans' Pool
Victoria Simcox, author of the children's fantasy book, The Magic Warble
Pat Snyder, author of the humor book, The Dog Ate My Planner
Larry Sweitzer, author of the young adult fiction book, The Ghost, The Eggheads and Babe Ruth's Piano
John Tippets, author of the historical nonfiction, Hearts of Courage
Cindy Vallar, author of the historical romance, The Scottish Thistle
Bill Walker, author of the romance novel, A Note from an Old Acquaintance
Sophia White, author of the inspirational Christian book, Jesus is for Everybody

Visit all the authors' tour pages at www.pumpupyourbook.com or www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in December to see where they'll be touring!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Writer's Life with Horror Author Maryann Paige




Maryann Paige was born in Brooklyn, New York, lived in Nevada and Texas and landed back in her home state. She resides in the beautiful Hudson Valley and uses the area as the setting for her novels and stories. She attributes the idea for Hidden Shadows to her younger son, who claims to have met the shadow people on a nightly basis. After researching and learning of them, she decided to write a novel loosely based on her son’s experiences. Please visit Maryann at www.maryannpaige.com to find out about her latest novel, Cemetery Gates.


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

A: Hello. I’m an avid reader, a lover of history and a horror/paranormal author. I’ve been writing since I’ve been ten-years-old, but decided only recently to pursue becoming a published author.


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

A: The name of my novel is Hidden Shadows. It’s a paranormal tale of a young boy who sees, and then is eventually confronted by the entities referred to as the shadow people. I had written the book because my younger son insisted he had seen them for years. Finally, when I exhausted every avenue of trying to convince him they did not exist, I started my research. I found out my son was not alone in seeing them. I decided to write a fictional account based on his experiences.


What kind of research was involved in writing Hidden Shadows?

A: There was much research that went into Hidden Shadows. I read countless tales and stories on people’s experiences with the shadow people. I asked my son to draw what he saw, and spoke to him often over what he believed the shadow man wanted. I took notes and then compared to them the stories I found online. The similarities were amazing. My son was only three-years old when this started.


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

A: It’s been a very bumpy ride to publication. Each publishing house has their own formatting rules, so I had to change margins and various text items with each submission. Many wanted inquiries, others wanted the complete manuscript mailed via the postal service, and yet others were closed to any new submissions for years. The lead time for an answer can be over a year, and this can be frustrating for a new writer, who is looking for immediate feedback. There were also publishing houses that never answered me at all. A rocky road it is, but I think in the end well-worth it.


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

A: It took about 18 months for Hidden Shadows to receive a contract. An e-publisher, Club Lighthouse Publishing, headed by Terri L. Balmer, took a chance on a new writer and my manuscript and offered me a contract.


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 don’t have an agent. I did try looking when I first began my quest for publication; however, the agents that impressed me most were not taking on any additional manuscripts, so I moved forward on my own.


Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Yes, I plan on continuing my writing. My publisher, Club Lighthouse Publishing, has released Cemetery Gates, and in the winter will be releasing Wolf Strap. It is a fast-paced, chase novel, filled with werewolves and set during a winter storm in Greenwood Lake, New York. I feel it’s my best work to date. As writers, I know we learn and grow with each passing novel, and I’m looking forward to showing off better writing skills.


Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: I enjoy writing late in the evening. I turn on my electronic candles and sometimes put on spooky music for motivation. My children are in bed, the house is quiet, and that allows me to dive into my make-believe world and try to bring my characters to life.


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

A: If money were no object, I would love to create frightening book trailers and play them on all of the local networks. I feel that novel trailers have been a welcomed addition for novel promotion and they are so much fun to make.


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

A: Self-promotion is the key to becoming a successful novelist. I’m not saying, it’s easy. I’m a modest person and have had a difficult time trying to drum up sales for my books. In the past, I saw it as bragging, but realized, if you do not sell your novel, then most likely no one will purchase it. If no one purchases it, you will never receive any feedback, whether it be positive or negative. That hinders your growth as an author.


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

A: I believe many new writers give up their dream because the entire process can be frustrating. The length of time it takes the busy publishers to answer, the lack of any feedback for rejections, and the continual wondering where did you, as a writer, go wrong, when you receive the rejection letter can be overwhelming. There is also so much incredible talent in the field that sometimes you can lose your confidence.



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

A: I have always felt that writers are born. Yes, the craft needs to be perfected, and it can be as you study your art, and move along with each novel. Like I said earlier, I have seen better writing on my own part in my third novel. Those of us that write, have always done so, and will always take pen to paper or finger to keyboard. While it may be a long, hard road to publication and fame will not brush the bulk of us, it’s still an obsession, a love and a desire. I say, Don’t give up. Keep writing and write everyday, no matter what it’s about.


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

Monday, November 23, 2009

Interview with Children's Author, Kathleen Crawley



Kathleen Crawley has been an advertising executive for over fifteen years. She resides with her husband Ronald Thomson in Redondo Beach, California. She is a native Californian having graduated from UCLA with a B.A in sociology. Colonel Trash Truck is her first book. About writing for children, Kathy says, "I have a number of books I want to write for kids because I think children are fascinating. They are open, creative, and interested in everything; they bring out the kids in me."

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Kathleen.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?


Technically, I’ve been writing for as long as I remember but it wasn’t until I was 38years old that I decided I wanted to BE a writer with the intent to make a living at it. I am always making up stories about someone I see or something taking place in front of me. I have actually brought myself to tears with the sad story I have created about someone at the market who I actually don’t even know! A little odd, yes, but I am very entertaining.

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

I’ve been in advertising for over 15 years and my greatest strength is my ability to identify trends and understand why consumers do what they do from eating fast food to attending a theme park. For years, I noticed how kids, especially boys, go bonkers when they see a garbage truck. I also noticed there weren't many books or toys about trash trucks that tell kids how they pick up the trash we create. I thought, “Someone needs to write a book”. Then, one morning, I was awakened by the sound of the garbage truck. I opened my eyes and suddenly saw a clear image in my imagination of Colonel Trash Truck, just the way he looks on the cover of my book and began writing Colonel Trash Truck.

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

I must admit, I really had no challenge. I wrote Colonel Trash Truck within a few hours but not because I am such a great writer or that it comes easy. I truly felt like I was taking dictation when I woke up the morning I wrote the majority of Colonel Trash Truck. He had appeared to me in my imagination and he was telling what to write…he had a lot to say.

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 have a press kit but it is not available online. It includes a copy of Colonel Trash Truck, a DVD with the Colonel Trash Truck song animation, and coloring postcards that I send to schools and daycare centers.

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

I have done a number of book readings at schools and book stores and been featured at the Festival of Books in UCLA last April and plan to be there in 2010. I have a number of book readings and signing scheduled for the pre-holiday season and prior to Earth Day in April.

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 and do not feel the need for the time being. I am, however, open to it in the future.

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 work with The Cadence Group who is promoting my book through amazon.com, parenting blogs, blog tours and book stores.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes. Captain Michael Recycle joins Colonel Trash Truck and Colonel Trash Truck versus Litterbug Louie and his Grafitti Gang.

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

Yes, thank you for such a great opportunity. The quickest way to get Colonel Trash Truck is to go to www.coloneltrashtruck.com or amazon.com. You can also check out the fun video on youtube as well.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How a Web Presence Landed My Book in Hollywood

How many of us can say because of our web presence our book landed in Hollywood? I have a special guest today who can surely say that! Tony Eldridge is here today to tell us just how that happened. Thanks, Tony!
How A Web Presence Landed My Book In Hollywood

For many authors, it’s a dream to get their novel into the hands of a major Hollywood producer who wants to turn it into a movie. When I published my book, The Samson Effect, that’s exactly what happened to me, and I owe it to having a web presence with my book.

The Samson Effect is an action adventure novel about a biblical archeologist and a biblical linguist who are searching for the secret to the historical Samson’s strength. New York Times bestselling author, Clive Cussler, calls The Samson Effect a “first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure.” I was excited to get the endorsement from one of my favorite authors, but it was an unexpected e-mail I got that opened my book’s future to a path I had never anticipated.

You see, I built a web site for my book and I found a way to get it into the hands of online reviewers and even a major metropolitan newspaper’s book reviewer, and because I spent the time to make sure my book was all over the internet, it helped me get that unexpected e-mail.

The e-mail was from someone claiming to be a Hollywood producer who stumbled across my website and asked me if I would send him a chapter of my book. The reason he stumbled across the site: his name was the same as mine—Tony Eldridge. He said he started getting congratulatory messages from people on his new novel, but he hadn’t written a novel. A quick search on the net led him to my book.

I sent him a copy of chapter one, but I really didn’t expect much. After all, being a film producer is a lot like being an author. All you need to do it get a business card with the title “Producer” printed on it and you are in business. However, I couldn’t resist doing a little research on this guy and after finding out that my namesake has worked with HBO, A-list actors and premier executive producers on major films, I started to get a little nervous. This guy was the real deal and I just happened to stumble upon him—or rather, he stumbled across me to be more accurate.

For the next two days I was sitting on pins and needles. A few days earlier, my biggest concern was, “Where am I going to promote my book next?” What happened over the next few days was a whirlwind. He asked for the entire manuscript and soon after that, he offered a contract to acquire the rights to the book.

How did this happen? Not because I pitched my book to Hollywood. It happened because I had a web presence and worked it to make sure the search engines were fed (keyword rich websites and blogs, multiple online reviews, and friends to help spread the news about the book). Your book marketing activities can help you achieve your focus, but they can also help unknown opportunities find you. What it means to authors is that they need to spend the time building a strong internet presence. You never know what will happen if you do.

Here is the full press release about the deal if you are interested in reading more. It starts off, “Los Angeles film producer, Tony Eldridge, acquires the film rights for the action/adventure novel, The Samson Effect. The author and producer connect in a way that even Hollywood could not script.”



Tony Eldridge is the author of the award winning action/adventure novel, The Samson Effect, which Clive Cussler calls a "first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure." He is also the creator of Marketing Tips for Authors, a site that publishes free tips and videos to help authors learn marketing techniques for their books. You can read the serial release of The Samson Effect at http://samsoneffect.marketingtipsforauthors.com/

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finished Your Manuscript...So What's Next?


Finished Your Manuscript...So What's Next?
by Victoria Simcox


Completing your manuscript is an incredible achievement. I liken it to a master craftsman who builds a beautiful sailboat. He puts a lot of thought and planning into building his craft in order for it to be sea worthy, just like you have put a lot of thought and planning into your manuscript in order for it to capture your reader's interest. But just like the craftsman of a boat this is only the completion of the first step. The next step for the craftsman is to make sure the boat will sail properly. And the same goes for you as an author—after you finish your manuscript, in a sense you will have to make sure it sails properly as well. In other words you will have to take precise and accurate steps in finding a way to get your manuscript into book form and out onto the book shelves and virtual book shelves. If the craftsman built the boat wrong it will probably not sail properly or may even sink and so in a similar way if you don't get your manuscript published likewise it too will probably sink, not into the depths of the sea, but into the depth of a drawer, box, shelf, or computer file.

Ok then...now that I'm done painting you a pretty little picture analogy—well maybe not so pretty, but never the less an analogy, In a small nut shell, I'd like to provide you with a few tidbits on what to do after you made it over the first hurdle, the finished manuscript.

The first thing I would advise you to do is get a current copy of The Writers Market Guide, if you are a children's book author get the Children's Writer & Illustrator's Market Guide. These guilds provide you with a gold mine of information, covering such topics as the basics of book propels, keys to writing a successful query letter, exclusive interviews with best selling authors, and a huge list of agents and publishers, who are currently accepting, or not accepting query letters, and or manuscript submissions. Once you've read this book, and got your query letter and manuscript ready to go, start sending them out.

The next step is going to take a good amount of patience and a skin as tough as the old leather football lying on the shelf in your garage. What I mean is be prepared to get a lot of rejections. I want to list a few famous authors and how many rejections they got before publication.

Jasper Fforde: received 76 rejections from publishers before his first novel, The Eyre Affair, was published by Hobber & Stoughton.

Ellen Jackson who wrote Cinder Edna was rejected more then 40 times before it was accepted for publication.

Madeleine L’Engle's A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 26 times before being accepted by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. It ended up winning the John Newbery Medal as the best children’s book of 1963 and is now in its 69th printing.

If these famous authors and the umpteen more I have not listed got rejected, what makes you expect it to be any different for you. Sorry I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, just trying to make you a little stronger. Keep sending your stuff out for as long as you can take the rejections, because maybe it will only be 3 tries or maybe 89 or more. I went a little higher then the 76 of Jasper Fforde, so you'll try even a little harder then he did. My point is stay strong and keep the faith. You just may be the next Ellen Jackson, Madeleine L'Engle's, hay maybe even J K Rowling. But just think, if you never try you'll have never known. Ug! Not knowing, that's got to be the worst thing to live with.

The other way you might want to go, if you decide that you can't take the rejections any longer, or if you just want to do it your own way to begin with, and what I mean is own the rights to your book, be in charge of its cover and inside design, market your own way, and possibly receive a lot more royalties for your book then from a traditional publisher, then Self Publishing may be the way for you to go. Some of you may cringe at these to words 'Self Publishing' but there could be a light at the end of this tunnel, if you do your homework. I am not going to go too far into this subject because there is way too many issues to discuss about self publishing and this article would be way to long to cover them all. So what I'll do instead is recommend a really informative book called, The Fine Print of Self Publishing, by Mark Levine. There are so many ways to self publish and so many different POD companies out there, and once they know you're in the market looking for one, they'll be flooding you with emails and even phone calls to get you on board with their specific company. It can get really mind boggling trying to decide which way to go with self publishing. In his book The Fine Print of Self Publishing, Mark Levine analyzes and critiques the contracts and services of the top 48 self publishing companies to educate authors on how to decipher the legalese in self publishing contracts. This book is a must and I highly recommend it. So whether it be traditional publishing or self publishing, I hope that I have been able to help you glean a little information on what to do next with your (baby) your manuscript. I also hope you, writer, like the craftsman who built his pride and joy sailboat will be ready to set sail, though come what may, still waters, or storms—just remember to hang in there. You may just make it to Paradise Island and you may just find your treasure there.

References in this article are from: Inkygirl.com and The Fine Print of Self Publishing by Mark Levine

Victoria, known as Vicki, was born in 1966, in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, to an Austrian immigrant mother, and a Dutch immigrant father. She has one older sister, Jeannette. When Vicki was 7, she moved with her family to British Columbia. In her early twenties Vicki moved to Western Washington and now resides in Marysville WA. She has been married to her husband Russ, for nineteen years and they have three children; Toby, who is fifteen, Kristina, thirteen, and William, eight. She has home schooled her children for the past nine years, and she also teaches elementary school art. Vicki’s other family members are, a Chihuahua, named Pipsy, two cats, Frodo, and Fritz, and two parakeets, Charlie, and Paulie. She did have a pet rat named Raymond when she started writing The Magic Warble, but sad to say, he has since passed away of old age. Vicki enjoys writing, painting watercolors, watching movies, hanging out with her family, and chauffeuring her kids around to their many activities. Her favorite author is C.S. Lewis, and one of her fondest memories is when she was twelve. She would sit at the kitchen table and read The Chronicles of Narnia to her mother while she cooked dinner. These magical stories were very dear to Vicki and she remembers wishing, If only I could go to Narnia like Lucy and Susan. Vicki hopes that maybe, she can touch someone with her story in a similar way. You can visit her website at www.themagicwarble.com.

Interview with Relationship Expert & Author Barbora Knobova

Barbora Knobova is a writer, relationship coach and expert in Delicious Life. A world traveler, she is one of those rare world citizens who live everywhere and nowhere. Barbora is a firm believer in female friendship, loyalty and bonding. She writes hilarious, sharp-witted, caustically apt, ironic, moving and very true books for strong, independent, smart, fearless women. Barbora has also written several self-improvement books and teaches women about the importance of self-love in relationships and life in general. Barbora speaks eight languages and has found her home away from home in New York, London and Milan. She is always on the move, accompanied by her beagle Brinkley, the nasty dog from Tales for Delicious Girls. You can visit her website at www.barboraknobova.com, her blogs at www.barboraknobova.wordpress.com and www.deliciousadvice.wordpress.com. Connect with Barbara at Twitter at www.twitter.com/barboraknobova and Facebook at www.facebook.com/barboraknobova-author.


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

Thank you. I’ve been writing since childhood! My grandfather was a writer and books have always been very important in the life of my family. I learned to read and write when I was four years old and I’ve been in love with literature ever since.


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

My book is called Tales for Delicious Girls. It is a humorous, ironic book about men and women and about female friendship. It deals with dating and relationship mishaps and funny situations that actually happened, no matter how incredible it may seem. It’s a book for smart women of all ages who have a sense of humor. And I always say that it’s a book of many faces. Its main purpose is to entertain but when you read it you realize the book also shows women that the relationship they have with themselves is much more important than their relationships with men and other people who surround them. It helps them love themselves more, appreciate and respect themselves. I know that no matter how strong we are, how educated we are, how great our career is, sometimes we just get lost in the complicated web of relationships. I would like every woman to see herself as the pillar of her own life, her best friend. I would like every woman to love herself truly. I hope that my book makes women laugh and also helps them deal with any personal and relationship issues they may have.

What kind of research was involved in writing?

There was lots of research involved! I studied my and my friends’ love life very thoroughly and it involved long evenings spent over Earl Grey and cookies, talking about men, relationships and love.


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

I must say that I’m very lucky because I own a publishing company that supports female authors. I believe that women have so much to say in the 21st century and they should be heard, that’s why I founded BK Publishing. Of course BKP publishes my books as well, so I didn’t have to struggle to get published, unlike many other authors.


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 therefore I can’t really say if an agent is necessary or not, I believe it depends on many things. Personally, I’ve never felt I needed one.


Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, currently I’m working on two projects. One of them is a self-improvement book for Delicious Girls, a guide to self-love and happiness, which is supposed to pick up where Tales for Delicious Girls left off. I’m also finishing another book which takes place in Italy, specifically in Milan and its surroundings. It’s sensual, it’s funny and it’s charming. Again it’s a book of tales, this time about Italians, especially about all those wonderful Italian women I know. I would like my readers to become a part of the stories I write about, to feel that they actually are at the places that I describe, and to get a taste of the famous Italian dolce vita. My grandma was Italian and Italy is my home away from home. I see it through different eyes than most people and I hope readers will find my book amusing, original and entertaining.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

It’s my personal writing corner at home, a huge sofa full of pillows, with a cup of good tea on my left and with my dog on my right.


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

I think I would do exactly the same things that I’m doing now! I believe that I’m doing as much as I can to promote my books. But I would probably tour the world to have a personal contact with my readers.


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

Self-promotion is crucial. Authors shouldn’t rely on their publishers to do all the work (and many publishing houses do very little work in this respect). You’ve written the book, you know it inside out, you love it. No one will ever promote it with more passion than you! I personally rely on online promotion and although live events are fun and I love them too, I believe that online promotion is much more effective. The internet offers so many options for authors to explore. Social sites, blogs, websites, e-zines, virtual book tours, etc. It’s wonderful how much you can do for your book from the comfort of your home!

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

I think that authors shouldn’t give up. There are so many possibilities today! You can have your book professionally edited and formatted, you can hire your own cover artist. You can get your own ISBN and publish the book yourself. You can promote it and become a successful author. Self-published authors used to be frowned upon but those times are long gone. There are just good books and bad books, not traditionally published and self-published books. Readers know it too!


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

If your book is really good, you have nothing to be afraid of! Just go ahead and take the plunge. Your effort and hard work will pay off. Every book finds its readers, you just have to know where to look.


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

Thank you very much, it was a pleasure talking to you!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interview with Contemporary Novelist J.M. Hochstetler



J. M. Hochstetler was born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, and graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. Joan was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published four novels. Daughter of Liberty, Native Son, and Wind of the Spirit, the first three books of the critically acclaimed American Patriot Series, are set during the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a retelling of the Christmas story set in modern times, is the 2009 Christian Small Publishers Fiction Book of the Year and was a finalist in the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest.

Joan is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, Nashville Christian Writers Association, and Historical Novels Society. She and her husband, a retired United Methodist pastor, live near Nashville, Tennessee.

Website: www.jmhochstetler.com
Blog: http://oneholynight.blogspot.com

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

Answer: I started writing in 1977. I didn't submit anything, however, until the early 1980s, after I attended several writers’ conferences and began to feel a little more confident about someone else reading my work.

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

Answer: One Holy Night retells the Christmas story through the discovery of a baby found abandoned in the manger of a church’s nativity scene . The story is set in the fictional small town of Shepherdsville, Minnesota, in 1967, when the military build-up in Viet Nam was undergoing a dramatic surge. As a result, an explosion of anti-war sentiment literally tore the country apart, alienated generations, and shattered families. In One Holy Night, the war comes home to Frank and Maggie McRae, whose only son, Mike, is serving as a grunt in Viet Nam, and to their daughter, Julie, and her husband, Dan Christensen, the pastor of a growing church congregation.

The way I try to make sense of life is to write stories about it, and One Holy Night was the result of my search for answers to how we can make sense of our lives and find reconciliation in our relationships. Brokenness of one kind or another affects every family and individual, including me and my own family. And over the years, I’ve questioned where we can find purpose, strength, and healing amid painful situations. So although One Holy Night is at heart a modern-day nativity story, it isn’t a story just for Christmas. It deals with all the gritty issues that impact our lives every day—intergenerational conflict, violence, addictions, war, illness, death, divorce.

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

Answer: The Vietnam War is still a very sensitive subject in this country. It was an extremely divisive time, and I doubt that anyone who didn’t live through it can really understand the depth of the animosity that developed between those who supported the war and those who opposed it. Many of our veterans carry deep wounds from all they experienced during the war and when they came home, and they find it difficult to talk about it. So writing this story in a way that was authentic, yet still compassionate, balanced, and fair to all sides was challenging. I worked very hard to keep my own opinions out of the story, show all sides of the issues, and allow the characters to speak and act from their own hearts.

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?

Answer: I do have an online press kit, and you can access it through my website at www.jmhochstetler.com. Scroll down to the bottom navigation bar and click on Press and Blogger Toolkit. It includes a bio, photo, suggested Q & A, my book covers, endorsements, and reviews of my books, which are all downloadable. It also includes links to my blogs.

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?

Answer: I speak to groups, including book clubs and retreats, as opportunities arise, and I’ve done one radio interview so far. I’m taping an online radio interview this week, but I don’t have the broadcast date yet. I’ll post it on my blogs as soon as I have that information.

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?

Answer: Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency is my agent. Right now she’s shopping a story based on my Mennonite background. In today’s market, having an agent is very important, though it is possible to land a publishing contract without one. An agent just makes the process easier.

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

Answer: We didn’t really do a blitz, though we sent out press releases and other promotional materials. Because of my busy schedule, most of the promotion I’ve done has been since the release, especially after it won the Christian Small Publishers Book of the Year Award.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Answer: I always have several works in progress going at any one time. Currently my main project is book 4 of my American Patriot Series, and my Mennonite story is next on my plate. As I have time, I’m also working on a full-length fictional treatment of the story of my Amish ancestors who came to this country from Europe in 1738 seeking religious freedom. They got caught up in the French and Indian War when their frontier home was attacked by a band of Indians. Three members of the family were killed and 3 were carried away into captivity and returned years later. It’s an amazing and inspiring story.

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

Answer: My website is www.jmhochstetler.com, and my blogs all link off of it. You’ll find the links under the book covers on the home page. My books are available from most local and chain bookstores as well as from online retailers like Amazon, Christianbook.com, and Barnes and Noble.

Thank you for the opportunity to join in conversation with you and your readers! I’ve enjoyed it very much.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Interview with NY Times Bestselling Romance Author Mary Balogh



Mary Balogh grew up in Wales and, after graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, on a two-year contract to teach high school English. She stayed to marry and raise a family. She was first published in 1985 and quit her teaching job three years later to write full time. A Precious Jewel, first published in 1993, has recently been republished by Bantam Dell as part of a commitment to make her backlist available to her current readership.

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

I have been writing all my life. Whenever I was asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say that I wanted to be an author. One of the highlights if my writing life was winning a short story competition when I was about ten. The prize was a box full of Cadbury's and Fry's chocolate bars. This was during the post-war years of food rationing in Britain. I was first published in 1985. Sine then I have written more than 70 novels and 30 novellas.

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

A PRECIOUS JEWEL, first published in 1993, is a Regency-era romance with a difference. The hero, Sir Gerald Stapleton, is a beta male whose self-esteem was taken from him during childhood by a cold, insensitive father and a stepmother who betrayed his love and trust. He is afraid of relationships and so satisfies his needs with frequent visits to a high-class brothel. The heroine, Priscilla Wentworth, well-born but forced by circumstances into prostitution, becomes his "regular" and later his mistress. It is not an auspicious beginning for a love story, but that is exactly what their story becomes. I love to take on a challenge as a writer, and there was none greater that this.

Gerald was a minor character in THE IDEAL WIFE (Bantam Dell, 2008), best friend of the hero. In that book he was struggling with the loss of his long-term mistress (Priscilla), who had left him to marry a former beau. My mind played with the usual what-ifs as I wrote THE IDEAL WIFE. What if Gerald really loved Priscilla? What if she really loved him? What if the former beau and impending marriage were fictitious, an excuse to get away from a liaison that had become intolerable to her? What if…

Gerald intrigued me to such an extent that I had to tell his story. Actually, it became an obsession with me. I knew I could not write it. He was not the alpha male readers expect their heroes to be. Priscilla was a working prostitute. It was all quite impossible. A few fellow writers on whom I tried the idea agreed with me. I did not even ask my editor about it. But those two characters would not let me alone. Finally I wrote their story during a hectic two-week period and put the manuscript up on a shelf in my office for a long time before deciding to send it in just to see what the reaction would be. When I phoned about it some time later, I discovered that the book was in copyediting!

Now Bantam Dell is making A PRECIOUS JEWEL available to readers again.


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

I was writing traditional Regency romances at the time. They were expected to be rather sweet comedies of manners. Yet my heroine was a prostitute working in a brothel, and the hero was a beta male, unlike the more usual dashing Regency hero. I had not run the idea by my editor. I was quite convinced that the book would never be published.

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?

My agent is Maria Carvainis of the Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc. in New York.

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

One innovation with this book is the organizing of an interview/blog tour for November, the month of the book's publication. It is an exciting way to reach out to large numbers of readers and invite some interaction.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A PRECIOUS JEWEL had a prequel, THE IDEAL WIFE. There is also a sequel, A CHRISTMAS BRIDE, the story of Gerald's stepmother. It is set for republication in the fall of 2011. My next new Bantam Dell books are to be the paperback release of SEDUCING AN ANGEL in June, 2010, and the hardcover edition of A SECRET AFFAIR in July, 2010. They are books 4 and 5 of the Huxtable quintet (FIRST COMES MARRIAGE, THEN COMES SEDUCTION, AT LAST COMES LOVE).

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

My website is at www.marybalogh.com. There is a page there that will take readers to various on-line bookstores in several countries. The book should be found wherever books are on sale.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Interview with James Diehl, author of World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware

James Diehl is an award-winning journalist who has covered Sussex County, Delaware for various media outlets since 1998. Since 2007, he has owned and operated a freelance writing company based in Seaford, Delaware and is also a partner in a Lewes, Delaware-based public relations and marketing firm. He is the author of one other work of non-fiction – Remembering Sussex County, from Zwaanendael to King Chicken, published in 2009 by The History Press.

James can be found online at www.twitter.com/sussexwriter, at www.facebook.com/sussexwriter or via www.ww2-heroes.com.

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

James: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but began seriously looking into it as a career while in high school in the mid 1980s. I received my bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1995 and have been writing for either newspapers or magazines ever since. World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware is my second book; I just got interested in the book-writing process a couple of years ago.


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

James: World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware began as a weekly newspaper series in the fall of 2007. As the series went along, I received an award from a regional press association and had numerous people suggest to me that it would make a good book. I finally decided, after realizing a fair amount of success with my first book, that I would move forward with such a project. Heroes has become a very personal and emotional journey for me. It’s so important that people of my generation, and those that follow, realize the sacrifices these men and women made more than 60 years ago so we can live as we do today in the United States of America.


What kind of research was involved in writing World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware?

James: Research for World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware was used primarily to augment each of the 50 profiles, to add a little bit of history into each person’s own unique story. Nearly all of it was done online, reading through military and historical reports from all over the world. It’s amazing the amount of information that is out there in cyberspace. It makes the writer’s job a heck of a lot easier these days; no longer do you need to spend all day in a library digging through card catalogues and stacks of books. Oh mercy, I think I just dated myself.


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

James: I feel almost guilty saying this, but it’s been a fairly easy process for me. My first book – Remembering Sussex County, from Zwaanendael to King Chicken – was published by a regional publishing house in the spring of 2009. A colleague of mine at one of the local historical societies had read some of my pieces, including some of the Heroes stories, and contacted me with the name of someone he knew in the publishing world. Remembering Sussex was on the shelves just a few months later.


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

James: The process was a little trickier with Heroes because I had to make sure, since it was originally part of a newspaper series, that I still owned the material free and clear. Honestly, I knew I did but I wanted to make sure no feathers were ruffled by moving forward with such a project. Once I cleared everything with the powers that be at the newspaper, with a couple of concessions, I moved ahead with the next phase. I decided to self-publish this particular book, rather than seek out a publisher, for the purpose of time more than anything else. I hope to make it the first in a series on World War II veterans, but the window to do such a project is closing rapidly and I needed to get this first installment out rather quickly. It was about two years from the time the first profile ran in the newspaper until the book was in print; the actual process of pulling the book together took about 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?

James: No, I have never used an agent. I’m not saying I would never use one in the future, I just haven’t gone down that road yet.


Do you plan subsequent books?

James: Absolutely! I plan a couple more books on World War II veterans – again, I feel it’s very important to tell their stories while I still can. I’m also putting outlines together for a couple more books; I hope to expand on those in the coming months.


Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

James: Well, I live in a coastal area and I love to take advantage of that when the weather is nice. I keep an office near the beach for just this reason. Sometimes, I’ll grab the computer and drive down near the coastline. I like to park the car, roll the windows down and listen to the waves crashing against the shore while pounding out some copy. The trick is not allowing the salt air to get you so relaxed that you fall asleep. That would kind of defeat the purpose.

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

James: I would wine and dine Oprah Winfrey, donate to her favorite charity and do whatever else she asked of me in return for a short interview on her show and/or a mention to her legions of book club followers. I can’t think of anything that would drive book sales more than that!


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

James: I feel self-promotion is very important. No one is going to promote your project more effectively and with more passion than you will. It was your sweat and tears that pulled your book together; get out there and tell the world about it. I’ve been promoting in several ways, including going on this virtual book tour. I’ve also printed and mailed out postcards to military and historical organizations around the country, developed a Web site, had a video trailer produced, scheduled speaking engagements and coordinated book signings. Whatever it takes to get the word out, do it! You can have the greatest book in the world - if nobody knows it exists, it doesn’t mean a thing.


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

James: I never almost gave up because, as I mentioned before, I hadn’t even considered writing a book when the opportunity to do so kind of fell in my lap. I was given a great opportunity and I took full advantage of it. I fully realize, however, that I was very lucky and that my experience is not the norm. I believe the biggest reason aspiring writers give up on their dreams is because they have a hard time dealing with the constructive criticism that is offered in regards to their writing. It’s easy to get “married” to a certain way of doing things. But you must be able to change in mid-stream. I write for many different editors and publishers and they all want things a certain way – their way! You need to be able to adapt to what each editor, or each audience, wants to be successful in this business.

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

James: Just don’t give up! Things can get tough and rejections can come, but never give up on yourself or on your abilities. Success doesn’t happen overnight, but it almost always comes if you’re willing to put in the time and make the commitment to get better. And take the constructive criticism that people give you to heart. Remember that many of the people offering it were once in the same boat you are in now. They know what it takes to succeed and want to help you along. Don’t push them away, but learn from their experiences.


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

James: Thank you for allowing me to appear on The Writer’s Life and for giving writers like myself another much-needed avenue to promote our projects. God bless!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book Excerpt: World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware by James Diehl

Ed Roberts will never forget the day American tanks rolled into Moosburg, Germany – more specifically into “the hole” the Germans called Stalag 7-A, a prisoner of war camp where the Pennsylvania native spent nine months as a guest of the German government during World War II.

It was, as a fellow prisoner later penned in his memoirs, a day when he saw 10,000 men cry. “You just can’t imagine the joy we felt after almost a year of making do under all kinds of situations,” Roberts says.

When American tanks rolled into the compound and started distributing K-rations, Roberts – who at the time was down to a mere 135 pounds – and his fellow prisoners started gobbling them down like they were candy.

“But after all that time, nothing tasted good,” he remembers.

As a prisoner of war in Germany, Roberts and his fellow captives called themselves kriegies – short for the German word kriegsgefangenan, which appropriately translates to “prisoner of war.”

As a kriegie, Roberts essentially had no rights. But when the American flag was raised over Moosburg in April, 1945, he realized his time in “German hell” was over.
Decades ago, former kriegies started the “Kriegie Klarion,” a monthly newsletter for those who suffered in German prisoner of war camps during World War II. Vernon L. Burda, who was in Stalag 7-A with Roberts, penned the following passage after the camp was liberated by American soldiers on April 29, 1945.

It still rings true to Roberts today.

“…for no apparent reason, a hush fell over the compound and all eyes turned toward the town in which stood two high church steeples. [More than] 20,000 eyes saw machine gun bullets splatter against the steeples – a period of quiet – and then it occurred. [It was] a scene, the happening of which brought tears streaming down the face of every single American prisoner of war there, and a sob from every throat.”

The passage continues: “We saw the greatest sight – the most emotional minute that we would probably ever witness. Raised before our eyes and flying defiantly above one of the church steeples was the symbol of our beloved land. The American flag!”

It was an emotional end to a fantastic journey that saw Roberts leave Pennsylvania State University and transverse the American landscape while training to become a fighter pilot. Joining the U.S. Army Air Corps on Nov. 11, 1942, all he ever wanted to do was fly.

“That was always my interest,” he says simply. “I took all kinds of physical and mental tests and, after that period, people in charge would say if you should be a pilot or a bombardier, or whatever. My classification was a fighter pilot.”

Roberts spent time training across the South, including stops at military facilities in Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia and Florida. He even spent about a month flying P-47 Thunderbolts at Dover Army Airfield, now Dover Air Force Base. Finally, in the summer of 1944, he was sent to England and assigned to the 412th Squadron of the 373rd Fighter Group.

His unit was based on the beaches of Normandy following the D-Day invasion – Roberts says he’ll never forget the first time he flew over the famed beachhead.
“After the invasion, the Americans stayed in one place and they brought in all kinds of supplies,” says Roberts, who missed participating in the D-Day invasion by just two weeks. “Every free space on that beach was loaded down with supplies. It’s hard for people to understand the enormity of the whole thing. All we could see when flying over was hundreds of ships in the water and lots of supplies on the beaches.”

Taking off from Normandy to the south, Roberts says he would only be in the air for 400 to 500 yards before he was over enemy lines and, thus, taking enemy fire. He flew four missions before being shot down and taken prisoner – he still remembers it as if it was yesterday.

- Excerpt from World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware by James Diehl. You can visit his website at www.ww2-heroes.com or purchase his book here!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Don't Do It for the Money: Interview with Thriller Author James Hayman

"Don't Do It For the Money"
Interview with James Hayman, author of The Cutting

Like the hero of The Cutting, James Hayman is a transplanted New Yorker. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Manhattan, he spent more than twenty years writing TV advertising for clients like The U.S. Army, Lincoln-Mercury and Procter & Gamble. He moved to Portland, Maine in 2001. Four years later he decided to scratch a lifelong itch to write fiction and began work on his first suspense thriller featuring Portland homicide detective Mike McCabe. St. Martin’s/Minotaur bought rights to The Cutting and published it in July 2009. Hayman is currently at work on the second McCabe novel.

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

James: I’ve been a writer, though not a fiction writer, all my life. After college I spent about 25 years as a copywriter and creative director for major Madison Avenue advertising agencies. I also wrote and produced television commercials for clients like The US Army (“Be All You Can BE”) and Lincoln/Mercury (“The Shape You Want To Be In)


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

James: First and foremost The Cutting is about a character named McCabe. He’s an ex-NYPD homicide cop, a single father, who hoped moving to a place like Portland Maine would allow him to build a new and safer life, both for himself and his teenage daughter. Little did he know what terrible violence was waiting on the cobblestoned streets of this small and charming city.

As to why I wrote it, the answer is simple. I’ve always wanted to write fiction. Thrillers are my favorite kind of fiction. I thought I had a story to tell. I fijor freelance writing assignment—a 200 page coffee table book--- in December of 2005. I had no other assignments on tap. So in the words of Rabi Hillell I said to myself, “If not now, when?”

What kind of research was involved in writing The Cutting?

James: Two kinds.

I had to learn about police work in general and the Portland Police Department in particular. I was helped enormously by a retired PPD Detective named Tom Joyce who made himself available to answer any and all questions.

I also made extensive use of the Internet to find answers to questions and background information. For example one of the victims is killed with a Blackie Collins knife. I found all the information I needed about that knife on the website of an online seller of knives.

The Cutting is a medical thriller. It involves heart transplants as well as a key scene in the ER of a major hospital. Here I was helped by a couple of cardiac surgeons and the head of Emergency Medicine at Maine Medical Center. Again the Internet provided a fast and almost endless supply of background information.

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

James: Incredibly smooth. I showed the finished manuscript of The Cutting to exactly one agent who loved it and signed me up as a client. It turned out that she was one of the best mystery/thriller agents in the business with great contacts at all the major publishers. She sent The Cutting to six or seven editors. Two made offers. I signed a two-book deal with St. Martin’s Press Minotaur imprint less than two years after writing the first lines.

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

James: About eighteen 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?

James: I do have an agent. Her name is Meg Ruley and not only did she sell the book, she’s also been a great source of information, ideas and editorial suggestions. For a first time novelist I believe it’s critical to have an agent if you want to have any hope of selling your book to a commercial publisher.


Do you plan subsequent books?

James: I’d just finishing final revisions of The Chill of Night. It’s the second Michael McCabe thriller and it also takes place in Portland, Maine. Minotaur plans to bring it out in June/July 2010, about the same time The Cutting goes paperback.


Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

James: Two places. When the writing is going well, I can write at home in a room set aside for that purpose. When I hit a tough patch I go to the fifth floor carrel of a nearby university library where there are no distractions, no phone calls, and no Internet (since I’m not a student or staff member). I can’t even get up and go to the men’s room without taking my laptop with me.


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

James: I’d send a free copy of The Cutting to every mystery/thriller reader in the country. Once they read it I think most of them would but McCabe #2, The Chill of Night as well as McCabe #3, #4, and so on.

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

James: Very important. Publishers have only small budgets to promote books. The rest is up to the author. Freelance publicists are incredibly expensive. So you have to promote it yourself.

Offline, you participate in as many readings and panels as you can. Sign copies of your book at every bookstore you can find that’s carrying it. Send out press releases announcing upcoming events.

Online, create a blog and a website. Use Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites. And make use of online promotion services like Pump Up Your Book Promotions.

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

James: I believe most writers who give up their dream of writing give it up because they discover that it’s a hell of a lot harder than they ever imagined. It requires equal measures discipline and determination. Both to finish writing the book and then to find an agent and/or a publisher.

Regarding the second part of your question, no I never “almost gave up.”

I’ve been a writer all my working life. So I had a pretty good sense, even before I started, of what it would take to finish The Cutting.

Once the book was finished the rest, amazingly, turned out to be easy. I discissed that process a little earlier in this interview.

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

James: Yes. Writing is a tough business. Don’t do it for the money. Don’t do it for fame. And don’t do it if you can’t handle rejection.

Do it because you have a story (or maybe a lot of stories) to tell and you just can’t rest until you’ve told it.

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

James: Thank you for having me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Interview with Children's Fantasy Author Victoria Simcox

Victoria, also known as Vicki, was born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, to an Austrian immigrant mother, and a Dutch immigrant father. She has one older sister. When she was 7, Vicki moved with her family to British Columbia. Then in her early twenties to Western Washington, where she now resides in Marysville WA. She has been married for almost 20 years, and has 3 children. For the past 10 years, she has home schooled her children, and she also teaches elementary school art. Her other family members are, a Chihuahua, named Pipsy, 2 cats, named Frodo and Fritz, and 1 parakeet, named Pauly. She did have a pet rat named Raymond; when she started writing The Magic Warble, but sad to say, he has since passed away of old age. Vicki enjoys writing, reading, painting watercolors, good movies and just hanging out with friends and family. Her favorite author is C.S. Lewis, and one of her fondest memories is when she was 12. She would sit at the kitchen table, and read the Chronicles of Narnia to her mother while she cooked dinner. These magical stories were very dear to Vicki and she remembers wishing, If only I could go to Narnia like Lucy and Susan. Vicki hopes that maybe she can touch someone with her story in a similar way.

Website: www.themagicwarble.com
Blog: victoriasimcox.blogspot.com
Facebook: Victoria Simcox
youtube book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cax8Pbpa7E

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

Victoria: I am wife and mother, and have home schooled my 3 children for the past 10 years, and am still in the process with the younger two. My oldest son Toby, 16, is now going into his first year of college. I have spent a lot of my time helping my children learn all their school subjects and I've also been an elementary school art teacher for the past 7 years. I started writing about 8 years ago and I began writing The Magic Warble about 5 years ago. It started out as a little hobby that I only worked on occasionally, but then eventually grew into a daily regimen.

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

Victoria: My book, The Magic Warble, is a fantasy story, listed as Juvenile fiction, but I feel it is for all ages. I'd say Juvenile and Young adult fantasy are still my favorite categories to read.
Growing up reading CS Lewis's beloved Narnia Chronicles has influenced me in writing The Magic Warble. My story is about a 12 year old girl named Kristina Kingsly, who hates to go to school because she doesn't fit in. She's bullied by some of the kids, and they make her daily life miserable. I created this aspect of my main characters life, because as a child, I had experienced dealing with bullies in school myself, and I remember hating to go because of them.

My parents owned their own piano store and they up and moved it many times, so before the age of 13, I had made 5 major moves, and had been to 7 different public schools. I can remember this being difficult for me, especially having to leave friends I had made, and even worse having to make new ones, which I was not good at.

I named the main character "Kristina" after my daughter Kristina, who is 14 now. Even so, my book's character is not characterized after my daughter. Kristina in The Magic Warble is definitely her own unique person.

In the story, Kristina receives a gift from her teacher at school, and it's this gift that magically takes her to another world, where she finds out that she not only fits in, but is chosen for a very important task, and if she completes the task, she will change the destiny of the land. Throughout her journey, Kristina meets all kinds of characters, such as dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals and a teenage boy named Werrien, who ends up going along with her on her adventure. Along her perilous journey, she will not only have her strength tested but her heart as well.

I wrote this story because, I love fairy tales and fantasy stories, and I have a big imagination that I thought I may as well put to good use. Once I got started writing the manuscript, I couldn't stop. My characters seemed to take on a life of their own and I felt that I owed it to them to finish their story. This may seem a little weird, but when you spend so much time writing a story, you do, or at least I do get very attached to my characters.

Even though The Magic Warble is a fantasy filled with adventure, suspense and intrigue, the underlying message is one of faith, hope, perseverance, friendship and love.

What kind of research was involved in writing The Magic Warble?

Victoria: Being that The Magic Warble is a fiction fantasy story, I didn't have to do much research. The story was created from my imagination. I would say that it has aspects of my past entwined throughout it, and also influences from famous writers, such as C S Lewis, J R R Tolkien, and J K Rowling.

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

Victoria: It started off as a real bumpy ride, being that my manuscript got a lot of rejections. This can be quite depressing, but it is definitely not uncommon, because it is really hard for a new author to get published. I have heard that even if your writing is superb, a lot of publishers won't want the risk of taking on a new author. Even so, I am not one to give up so easily. I knew that my story was good—not trying to brag, but almost all the kids I have talked to who have read it, told me that they loved my story. Even the ones, who hardly ever read books, told me that they couldn't put the book down. I even had a grown up tell they cried at the end of the book.

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

Victoria: I'd say it took 9 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?

Victoria: I don't have an agent, and have never had one, but that's just the way it went for me. I know that a lot of publishers require you to have an agent, or they won't even consider your manuscript. I think that an agent could be very helpful in getting your manuscript reviewed by more publishers, but on the other hand, if you can get accepted by a publisher without using an agent, of course you would save yourself some money. I suggest that a new author send their manuscript out to publishers that don't require agents, first and if they don't get accepted, hire an agent then.
Do you plan subsequent books?

Victoria: Yes, I'm thinking 3, maybe 4 for the Magic Warble series. I am a little over half way done with book 2 in the series.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

Victoria: I almost always write at my computer in my bedroom, so that would be my favorite place.

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

Victoria: The first thing I'd do is upgrade my website to have full flash and music.

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

Victoria: Self promotion is very important, because even if your publisher is promoting you, it will be even better to promote yourself as well. On line, I have a website, and a blog, also a book trailer and I am doing an online tour. Off line, I have been doing a lot of signings in book stores, and have done book talks at libraries and schools. I think that an author must get out and meet people. I feel that you should show your audience that you are about relating to them. In other words get your eyes off yourself and touch someone else by meeting them in person. Showing a genuine interest in my readers, I have found to be most rewarding.

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

Victoria: I would say getting rejected by agents and publishers is one of the most common reason writers give up. Also low self esteem and fear can be the culprit as well. I, like anyone else, have had fears, doubts, and even anguish at times while going through my publishing journey. But I had to remember what my character "Kristina" went through in my book, and how one of my messages entwined throughout the pages is, "never giving up" so, the answer is no. I did not almost give up. I believe that one should never give up on their dreams, no matter what. Failure should never be an option. Abraham Lincoln is one person I really admire. The odds were very much against him, yet he never gave up. What a great inspiration he is. Here is one of his quotes I love: Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose your power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life. Wow! Powerful!

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

Victoria: If you truly feel that writing is your life's purpose, then no matter how hard the publishing journey gets, or how frustrated you get when writers block may stop your creativity, or how low your self esteem may get, never give up. Even so, saying all this, don't expect miracles to fall into your lap. You'll have to search and work very hard figuring out what to do next, but I believe if you do this, an opportunity will show its self. Do a lot of research. The internet is a goldmine of information. I'll leave you with another good quote: Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens. J. R. R. Tolkien

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

Monday, November 09, 2009

Interview with Chris DeBrie, Author of Shakespeare Ashes




Author Chris DeBrie seems to have left footprints in many places. He is a writer, cartoonist, and musician. He's traveled to Latvia, claims darts and bowling as his favorite games, and once spent a year of nights learning to project astrally. With his latest novel, he spreads himself around again, delving into the thoughts of several very different characters. Perhaps it's time to reel Mr. DeBrie in a bit: his Facebook tag reads, "I'm not smiling, it's just lunacy."

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

A: I started writing and drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Since then, most everything in my life has revolved around art. When adults would ask what I wanted to be, I remember saying 'veterinarian'. That love for animals is still in me, but I knew I was headed in this direction.

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

A: There's never any 'why' in what I do; I'm just following my nose. Shakespeare Ashes is about four young people. They're leaving school and are up against the so-called real world. Their lives intersect in varied ways, and they're very aware of what's going on around them. But in some ways, these characters are still discovering who they are. I got a nice, comfortable spot in their heads and transcribed the thoughts. It's written in alternating first-person, and very unfiltered. Maybe a PG-13 sticker was needed.

What kind of research was involved in writing Shakespeare Ashes?

A: Not so much. I depended more on my observations of everyday life. That's always true as I write. Even when a story has sci-fi elements, character arrives first; the big explanations and technical talk are last.

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

A: It's been difficult, but there's nothing wrong with a little nausea. No one can make you write, and it's done alone. Everybody says "I could write a story", and though it's true, in the end they don't--because unless you're ridiculously gifted and prolific, you give up so much to hang out with that blank page.

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

A: About three 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?

A: I've never had an agent or manager. It would be a luxury for writers who aren't well-known. They've got connections writers simply can't have on their own. They have real-world knowledge we can't find online. And they free up time for more creating.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: There's a batting lineup's worth of books in my cabinet, if I'm blessed with the health to finish them.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: Anywhere, anytime. My best ideas come when I'm away from the laptop. Those ideas get written on ripped-off pieces of cardboard, receipts, and the back of my hand if all else fails. Somewhere, someone's walking around with a graffitied five-dollar bill: HITLER v. REX?

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

A: A hand-picked producer, who would then gather a team and put the story in theaters or on Broadway.

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

A: Promotion was the last thing on my mind until fairly recently. All I cared about was the story and characters. I was satisfied to hold the books and know they were real. That changed when I got on the Web after a four-year absence, and saw how it had grown. There are more ways to connect with new people. We're all checking out other cultures and arts online. A writer can find an audience in any country... Away from the computer, contacting bookstores, local papers, and book clubs are usually good ideas.

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

A: People quit lots of things because they are thinking about the end result--a reward of some kind. And when they don't get what they expected, or it's delayed, they toss it all. I've done it, too. But that never happened with writing, though I did consider giving up making a living at it. When I'm too busy to write for whatever reason, I get ill-at-ease after a few days. So I knew from the start, I'd make up stuff no matter what job I had.

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

A: I'm still on my own search for true wisdom.

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

A: Grazie.


www.washyourhandsproductions.com

http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-DeBrie/1840916360

Interview with Fiction Author Garasamo Maccagnone






Garasamo Maccagnone is the author of, “The Affliction of Dreams”, “The Suburban Dragon”, “St. John of the Midfield”, and “For the Love of St. Nick.” A writer since he was sixteen, Maccagnone, now 50, lives in Shelby Township, Michigan with his wife Vicki and 3 children.



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

I’ve been writing since I was sixteen. My mother was a librarian assistant in Fraser, Michigan. She read voluminously and made sure I did as well. She brought stacks of books home weekly. Early on in my life, I had a few health set backs that caused migraines. I was forced to stay home in bed a lot. When I wasn’t in pain, reading was my outlet and my chance to dream about all that I was missing.

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

I wanted to write a Christmas story that had a “feel” to it, a quiet little book with a voice a reader would remember. I also wanted to write a Christmas story in an obscure setting, away from the commercial elements of the holiday.

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

Understanding the natural contrivance of writing a Christmas story, the hardest part was not making it syrupy or preachy. Though you realize readers want a positive ending, one must strive to make the final scenes as unpredictable as possible.

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?

All information pertaining to me can be found at: www.garasamomaccagnone.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?

A media firm named Ascot Media organized a radio interview blitz for me last Christmas. With my other works, especially, St. John of the Midfield, papers, blogs, and radio have extensively interviewed me.



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. One friend of mine maintains my website while another one makes appearance calls.

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

For the Love of St. Nick is self-published through Booksurge. Those types of companies really don’t do much for an author on the marketing side of the business. You are kind of on your own. Realizing that, I think I have a pretty reasonable outlook as to what kind of success this book will have. Anonymity doesn’t bother me as an author. The book has done well merely through word of mouth and the positive reviews it has received by the critics.

As long as my stories are well crafted, not being a household name as an author is something I can live with.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I’m writing at this time, The Fish and the Fox. It’s about an aging, crotchety old priest named Father Charlie Dibbs, who in a Quixote like way, fights the human traffickers on the Texas/Mexican border.

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

All information pertaining to me can be found at: www.garasamomaccagnone.com and all my books can be purchased at www.amazon.com

I enjoyed the interview and am very thankful you took the time to listen to what I had to say.