Thursday, April 29, 2010

Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting!: Robert Boich's personal tale of alcohol addiction

Title: Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting!
Author: Robert Boich
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: iUniverse
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1440121074

Making a resolution to address an alcohol or substance abuse issue is only the beginning. The real work begins when the alcoholic or addict acknowledges that something has to be done. As one counselor put it, “An addict only has to change one thing: everything.” More than mere abstinence or simply eliminating certain people and places from one’s daily routine, a successful recovery requires a brand-new approach in dealing with life. In this compelling, intimate narrative, Boich shares his struggles, and insights encountered during his first six months in recovery.


One of the first things I learned was that I was looking at things backwards; fix my substance abuse problems, and my life would fix itself. It seemed to make sense at the time. It goes back to the abstinence versus sobriety issue I mentioned earlier. It’s true, abstinence, definitely improved my life. I could see a difference in myself after a couple of weeks. The problem with this approach is that I was still the same person. I had to look at the bigger picture. One of my new friends explained it to me like this. “The man I was drank. The man I was will drink again. I have to change the man.” That statement echoed the sentiments of one of my counselors, the same one who encouraged me to write this book. He told me that in order to stay sober, I only had to change one thing. Everything!

Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting! is available to order at Amazon. To find out more about Robert, visit his website at Robert is available for interviews. Email Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife(at) to inquire.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Interview with Anne Vincent, Author of the Self-help Book, "The Way to Stillness"

Anne Alexander Vincent, Ordained Minister of Pastoral Counseling, is the Owner of Cottage in the Woods, a licensed ministry center of the National Christian Counselors Association. She is completing her PhD in Clinical Christian Counseling through the NCCA. With more than 30 years of counseling experience, she has completed her 8th year of intensive training under Dr Patrick Carnes, PhD as a Certified Multiple Addictions Therapist and Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist and with the International Trauma and Addiction Professionals as a Trauma and Addictions Therapist.

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

Answer: I am a 53 year old single mom living in my hometown of Nashville, TN. I have been a counselor and psychotherapist for the past 30 years however,I think my love of books and writing has accompanied me from the womb!

The Way to Stillness is my first published book

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

Answer: The story of my mother’s (Gayle Alexander) incredible voyage and her sense of mission deserves to be told during her lifetime. She has bread for the hungry soul and there are many in our world who need her wisdom.

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

Answer: The onset of my mothers vascular dementia at the beginning of the writing process (she is now 87), several shifts in direction and publishers, divorce and illness in my own life – you name it, it happened! I also have a fulltime therapeutic practice, so scheduling writing time was often tricky!

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 not have one at this time.

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: Not quite yet, however, I really look forward to those opportunities. I am certain they will evolve quite naturally . . .

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: Exactly one year ago, I began a wonderful relationship with The Cadence Marketing Group. Amy Collins Macgregor at Cadence is simply a genius with all this!

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 have a marvelous trailer which is on my website. The book will also be featured at the BEA in NYC. Book signing scheduling will take place in May and June.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Answer: Absolutely, this is simply too much fun not to!

Thank you for your interview, Anne. 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 which provides a link to This is the best way to get an immediate copy before it hits bookstores later this spring. Our hope is that each and every reader be deeply blessed by The Way to Stillness!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Debut novel echoes emotional frustrations of unwed mothers

Every unwed mother's nightmare comes to life in the pages of Invasion of the Baby Daddy, a compelling and moving debut novel by Dr. John E. Bell. Invasion of the Baby Daddy echoes the emotional and cerebral frustrations of unwed mothers throughout the ages. Its unforgettable characters and authentic story line are interwoven with current and real facts about the volume of unwed mothers in our society today which I know everyone in the Virginia Beach area can relate to.

In the story, Dr. Sands believes he has found his perfect mate only to discover that she is pregnant from a previous relationship. Not fully aware of the ramifications of this colossal news, Dr. Sands and Rachel date via long distance during her pregnancy and ultimately decide to get married. In order to make a life together, Rachel must move to Tennessee to start a new life with her husband. But the Baby Daddy has other plans for them. Determined to make this marriage work, Dr. Sands goes to extraordinary lengths to try and negotiate with the Baby Daddy. Brimming with honesty from the author s own experiences, Invasion of the Baby Daddy comes alive with unique freshness, candor and rich detail.

Here's an excerpt:

As once a single man, I often pondered what life would hold in store for me. I never really knew how to approach the reality of looking for a woman to marry. I often figured it would happen like it does in the movies. You know how the guy meets this woman, and they have a few dates. During the courtship, the man would say the greatest lines and as a result, the woman would be swept off her feet. The rest is history. No drama or challenges, the end. We all know that we do not live in that movie, well most of us anyway. Love, at first sight, is truly a great misconception (or even second or third for that matter). With maturity and experience as both a Father and Husband, I never expected to meet a woman, who already had a child, to be my wife. Furthermore, my expectation was that I would meet someone on my level; like a physician or lawyer—someone who was equally yoked or of my intellectual stature. Once you have wrestled with the challenges of being a young man; you learn how to become a better one. Your selection of women evolves from what you want, to what you need. Selfishness in relationships is commonplace to many men. This characteristic is practically encoded in our DNA. As we are raised to be gladiators, we compete for things, such as: family pride, home turf and always for young love or infatuation. This selfishness is also the core of how most men are defined in their relationships with women. The selfishness quotient of a man translates into how he treats himself and the woman to whom he will make a life commitment.

Dr. Bell is a Surgical Podiatrist and a College Professor at Strayer University at the Shelby Oaks campus in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Bell has a Master’s degree in Health Services Administration from Strayer University in Memphis, Tennessee and a Doctorate Of Podiatric Medicine degree from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a graduate from Morris college in Sumter, South Carolina. Dr. Bell is a Gulf War veteran with 10 years in the US Navy with an honorable discharge. Dr. Bell is a member of Phi-Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.

Dr. Bell has his own radio show called the Dr. John Bell Show that can be heard on Saturday from 4-5pm central time and 5-6pm Eastern time on Dr. Bell is married and has one daughter and a step son and has experienced the subject of the baby daddy syndrome and the drama that can be experienced from relationships that include a blended family structure. Dr. Bell has chosen to write about some of the challenges from a man’s perspective involved in a blended family where the man does not have any children and the woman has a child from a previous relationship.

This story has been a compilation of many American family’s dilemma with people who want to move on from their past mistakes in life of children and relationships and how much it can cost the people we love most when our life choices become complicated with an invasive baby daddy as in the book or even an invasive baby momma into a family situation. This book demonstrates how the American family structure is changing and how the law is often used to separate families and ultimately even end a marriage. In this American story of many with this subject, one family had to find a way to make the ultimate sacrifice to avoid destruction from the invasion of a baby daddy.

You can visit his website at

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Returning Injury: empowering women is suspense author Becky Due’s focus

Rebecca’s life just keeps getting better. With Jack away on business, she’s looking forward to four days alone to work on her new client’s PR campaign to help women take back their lives. But her past intrudes. Roy, the man who stalked and assaulted her years before, has been released from prison. Home alone in her big, beautiful house out in the country, Rebecca has to learn to take back her own life while facing her fears and regaining her strength. But will she be strong enough when she faces the ultimate test?

This is the premise of suspense author Becky Due’s new book, Returning Injury: A Suspense Celebrating Women’s Strength (Due Publications).

Becky, like the main characters of her novels, spent many years running from herself, looking for love, crying a little and laughing a lot along the journey of finding herself. Through writing, Due found her passion. She is the author of several books and is currently working on her next novel.

She has been a guest on national radio programs and has been the subject of numerous newspaper and national magazine articles for empowering women through her novels. She has served as a guest speaker at Women’s Resource Centers, Shelters, Colleges and High Schools within the United States. Becky has had extensive training at Victim Services, worked the 24-Hour Sexual Assault Crisis-Line and was a Victim’s Advocate where she offered one-on-one assistance and support to rape victims. In 2007, Becky started, Women Going Forward, the first national women’s telephone support group, which ran for almost two years. After receiving much recognition for her novels, Becky’s focus turned back to her writing and empowering women through her novels.

Becky will be on virtual book tour May 3 – June 25. Visit her official tour page at Pump Up Your Book to find out more about her exciting new release, Returning Injury: A Suspense Celebrating Women’s Strength. or Barnes & are the best way to obtain your copies, although it will be available to order in bookstores soon. You can visit Becky’s website at for more information about the book.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Excerpt: Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri

Title: Moonlight Falls
Author: Vincent Zandri
Genre: Thriller
Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: R.J. Buckley Publishing (Dec 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0758229208
ISBN-13: 978-0758229205

Moonlight Falls is the Albany, New York-based paranoid tale (in the Hitchcock tradition) of former APD Detective turned Private Investigator/Massage Therapist, Richard “Dick” Moonlight, who believes he might be responsible for the brutal slaying by knife of his illicit lover, the beautiful Scarlet Montana. The situation is made all the worse since Scarlet is the wife of Moonlight’s boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana.

Why does Moonlight believe he might be responsible?

He’s got a small fragment of a .22 hollow point round buried inside his brain, lodge directly up against his cerebral cortex. The result of a botched suicide attempt four years prior to the novel’s start, an operation to remove the bullt frag would be too dangerous.

But the bullet causes Moonlight lots of problems, the least of which are the occasional memory loss and his rational ability to tell right from wrong. The bullet frag also might shift at any moment, making coma and/or sudden death, a very real possibility.

Still, Moonlight has been trying to get his life together as of late.

But when Scarlet begs him to make the trip over to her house late one rainy Sunday night to issue one of his “massages,” he makes a big mistake by sleeping with her. Later, having passed out in her bed, he will be rudely awakened by a garage door opening and Jake’s unexpected and very drunken homecoming. Making his impromptu escape out a top floor window, Moonlight will seek the safety of his home.

Two hours later however, he will receive another unexpected visit from Jake Montana. This time the big Captain has sobering news to report. He’s discovered his wife’s mutilated body in her own bed. She’s been murdered and now he needs the P.I. to investigate it in association with Albany ’s “overtaxed” Special Independent Unit before I.A. pokes their nose into the affair. Moonlight takes a big step back. Is it possible he made a second trip to the Montana home-sweet-home and just has no recollection of it? Once there, did he perform a heinous crime on his part-time lover? Or is this some kind of set up by his former boss? Is it really Jake who is responsible for Scarlet’s death? Does he wish for Moonlight to cover up his involvement, seal the case before Internal Affairs starts poking their nose into the situation?

There’s another problem too.

Covering Moonlight’s palms and the pads of his fingers are numerous scratches and cuts. Are these defensive wounds? Wounds he received when Scarlet put up a struggle? Or are they offensive wounds? Wounds he couldn’t avoid when making his attack on Scarlet with a blade? The answer is not so simple since Moonlight has no idea where he acquired the wounds.

Having no choice but to take on the mission (if only to cover his own ass), Moonlight can only hope the answers to his many questions point to his former boss and not himself.


Albany, New York
140 miles northeast of New York City

I’m escorted into a four-walled basement room by two suited
agents—one tall, slim and bearded, the other shorter, stockier, cleanshaven.
The space we occupy contains a one-way mirror which I know
from experience hides a tripod-mounted video camera, a sound man and several FBI agents, the identities of whom are concealed. There’s no
furniture in the room, other than a long metal table and four metal chairs. No wallpaper, no soft lamp light, no piped-in music. Just harsh white overhead light, concrete and a funny worm smell.

As I enter the room for the first time, the tall agent tells me to take a seat at the table.

“We appreciate your cooperation,” the stocky agent jumps in.

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch my reflection in the mirror.

I’m of medium height. Not tall, not short. Not too badly put together for having reached the big four-zero thanks to the cross-training routine I put myself on not long after my hospital release. Nowadays, my head is shaved. There’s a small button-sized scar behind my right earlobe in the place where the fragment of .22 caliber hollow-point penetrated
the skull. I wear a black leather jacket over black jeans and lace-up combat boots left over from my military service during the first Gulf War. My eyeglasses are rectangular and retrofitted from a pair of cheap sunglasses I picked up at a Penn Station kiosk. They make my stubblecovered face seem slightly wider than it really is. So people have told me.
Having been led to my chair, I am then asked to focus my gaze directly onto the mirror so that the video man or woman stationed on the opposite side of the glass can adjust the shooting angle and focus.

“Please say something,” requests Stocky Agent while removing his suit jacket, setting it over the back of an empty chair.

“There once was a cop from Nantucket ,” I say to break the ice.

But no one laughs.

“You get that?” the taller agent barks out to no one in particular.

“Okay to go,” comes a tinny, hidden speaker voice. “You gonna finish that poem, Mr. Moonlight?”

“Knock it off,” Stocky Agent orders. Then turns back to me.

“Before we get started, can we get you a coffee? A cappuccino? You can get one right out of the new machine upstairs.”

“Mind if I burn one?”

Tall Bearded Agent purses his lips, cocks his head in the direction of a plastic No Smoking placard to the wall.

Stocky Agent makes a sour face, shakes his head, rolls up the sleeves on his thick arms. He reaches across the heavy wood table, grabs an ashtray, and clunks it down in front of me as if it were a bedpan.

“The rule doesn’t apply down here,” he says. Then, in this deep affected voice, he adds, “Let’s get started, Mr. Moonlight. You already know the routine. For now we just want to get to the bottom of the who, what, wheres and hows of this train wreck.”

“You forgot the why,” I say, firing up a Marlboro Light. “You need to know the why to establish an entire familiarity with any given case.”

Stocky Agent does a double take, smiles. Like he knows I’m fucking with him.

“Don’t be a dick, Dick,” he says.

I guess it’s important not to take life too seriously. He laughs. I laugh. We all laugh. Ice officially broken. I exhale some smoke, sit back in my chair.

They’re right, of course. I know the drill. I know it’s the truth they’re after. The truth and almost nothing but the truth. But what they also want is my perspective—my take on the entire Scarlet Montana affair, from soup to peanuts. They want me to leave nothing out. I’ll start with my on-again/off-again love affair with my boss’s wife. Maybe from
there I’ll move on to the dead bodies, my cut-up hands, the Saratoga
Springs Russians, the Psychic Fair, the heroin, the illegal organ harvesting
operation, the exhumations, the attempts on my life, the lies, deceptions
and fuck-overs galore.

As a former fulltime Albany detective, I know that nobody sees the same thing through the same set of eyeballs. What’s important to one person might appear insignificant or useless to another. What those federal agents want right now inside the basement interview room is my most reliable version of the truth—an accurate, objective truth that
separates fact from fantasy.

Theoretically speaking.

“Ask away,” I say, just as the buzzing starts up in the core of my head.

“Just start at the beginning,” Stocky Agent requests. “We have all night.”

Sitting up straight, I feel my right arm beginning to go numb on me. So numb I drop the lit cigarette onto the table. The inside of my head chimes like a belfry. Stocky Agent is staring at me from across the table with these wide bug eyes like my skull and brains are about to pull a JFK all over him.

But then, just as soon as it all starts, the chiming and the paralysis subsides.

With a trembling hand, I manage to pick up the partially smoked cigarette, exhale a very resigned, now smokeless breath and stamp the cancer stick out.

“Everything you wanna know,” I whisper. “You want me to tell
you everything.”
“Everything you remember,” Tall Agent smiles. “If that’s at all possible.”

Stocky Agent pulls a stick of gum from a pack in his pants pocket, carefully unwraps the tin foil and folds the gum before stuffing it into his mouth.

Juicy Fruit. I can smell it from all the way across the table.

By all indicators, it’s going to be a long night.

“I think I’ll take that cappuccino after all,” I say.

For the first time since entering the interview room, I feel the
muscles in my face constricting. I know without looking that my
expression has turned into something miles away from shiny happy. I’m
dead serious.

If you would like to pick up your copy of Moonlight Falls, click here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Interview with Robin Leigh Miller: 'Black Smoke'

Robin Leigh Miller knows a little about finding romance in odd places. A retired dirt track racecar driver, she found love and adventure on the track. After three months of dating a fellow driver, he proposed and seven months later, they married. Now Robin gets her adrenaline rush from creating spunky, determined kick ass women that don’t let anything get in their way. Mix in her passion for the paranormal, action and adventure and you have some unique thrilling stories. Enter a world where anything can happen and hold on tight. It’s a bumpy ride but worth the trip as you watch her characters plow through what life throws at them and come out the other side more powerful and of course in love.

We interviewed Robin to find out about her writing life and her newest book, Black Smoke.

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

Robin Leigh Miller: Thank you for having me. At the risk of repeating myself in my bio, I’m a retired dirt track driver. I spent six years racing a stock car, a micro sprint, dune buggy and even a late model at our local dirt track in central Pennsylvania. I love adrenaline, it makes me feel alive. I met my husband on the track, we used to race against each other, got married and six years later had our first son. Number one son is now getting ready to run his first season in a stock car. Three years later I had another son and three years after that I gave birth to a daughter. What was I thinking? Girls are much harder to raise than boys. Seriously, she’s the best and will keep me on my toes for the rest of my life. Now we make a living building race engines for other drivers. Yes, I get down and dirty, or greasy rather. I can tear down an engine, machine most of the parts and even put most of it back together again. Life has changed for me since those days of ripping around the track. I took up reading and became addicted to paranormal, action and adventure romance novels. Four years ago I sat down and decided to try my hand at writing. A few blundered stories later, some heavy duty research, studying about constructing a story and Black Smoke came together and here I am.

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

Robin Leigh Miller: Black Smoke is about Samantha Wells, a young woman who watched her parent’s brutal murder. She too would have been killed if not for the help of a soft, quiet and calm voice she heard inside her head, the voice of her spirit guide. Adopted by her uncle, Sam grew up in the military world and quickly learned she had skills that could help those touched by the dredge of humanity. With the help of her spirit guide, Sam dons a black mask and the handle Black Smoke and completes missions others have failed to complete.

Mark Lowe, a.k.a. Kong, and his team are called in to assist Sam on a mission in Afghanistan. Mark is uneasy with the way Sam operates. She carries too many secrets, knows things she shouldn’t know. Most of all, he doesn’t like how she’s managed to work her way into his heart and soul. When the mission completes, Mark retreats to safer ground leaving Sam alone and emotionally devastated. Unwilling to listen to her uncle, Sam does what she does best, delves head first into a hell only Mark can pull her from.

Black Smoke was a product of my many years of reading about psychics, life after death and spirits. I’m a big believer that just because you can’t explain it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Mix my interest of the paranormal in with my fierce patriotism and need for action and Samantha Wells and her team were born. I love reading fiction. I read for entertainment mostly and one day decided to give it a try. I wrote what I knew about, spirits, patriotism and romance. Now I get my adrenaline fix from writing action stories.

What kind of research was involved in writing Black Smoke?

Robin Leigh Miller: Like I said, I’d spent many years reading about spirits so I had a working knowledge of how I wanted that spirit to be a part of the story. As for the rest, when I needed to know something I turned to the internet, who doesn’t these days right? I’m not a big television watcher, but I do like shows about weapons, military weapons especially. It’s funny; my husband will turn on a show and ask if I need to watch it for ideas. He’s cute that way. History channel is where I discovered my weaponry knowledge for Black Smoke. The rest I pulled out of my twisted mind.

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

Robin Leigh Miller: I have to say it wasn’t easy at first. All those rejections can bring a person down and cause self doubt. My rejections mainly centered around publishers not needing my type of story at that particular time. So, I hit the smaller presses. Cerridwen Press liked what I wrote and signed me. It’s been clear skies and smooth sailing ever since. It’s nice to know there are publishers out there looking for something new and fresh.

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

Robin Leigh Miller: Three months and let me tell you I was shocked. It seemed like the world was spinning out of control at that point. Between edits, cover art and setting up a web site I had a hard time keeping up. Me, having a web site, it still makes me chuckle. I started out just seeing if I could do this and then slam, I’m up to my eyeballs in chats, emails and reviews. I love it!

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?

Robin Leigh Miller: I don’t have an agent. I tried to get one but once again it was the not looking for this genre at the moment routine. I think if you’re looking to be published by the big houses, the names everyone is familiar with, you need an agent in your corner or else your manuscript is floating in a sea of others and you don’t really have much of a chance. I’d love to have an agent, so if any are out there looking to sign a new, fresh voice with a scary mind, I’m available.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Robin Leigh Miller: I actually have seven titles published. Black Smoke is my only print book. The others are released in ebook. Boomer’s Fall and Ricochets Rogue are the sequels to Black Smoke. Then I have thrillers titled Running Blind, Force of Nature and Soulless. I released a short story in February titled Country Loving, a thriller as well. I donated Country Loving to raise money for the American Heart Association through All Romance eBooks. My current WIP is about the military. Guess you’ve figured out I’m kind of a groupie when it comes to military. Seriously, I hold our serving men and women, along with vets, in the highest regard. My undying gratitude to them and their families.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

Robin Leigh Miller: Most people work at a nice desk all organized. Me, I sit in my overstuffed recliner in my living room with my feet tucked up under me, an annoyingly loud timer to remind me that people need to eat, and my dog at my feet. She’s a German shepherd and occasionally sends me jolting from my chair when a car goes by that sounds funny. I live in the country, so cars don’t go by all that much but if a big truck rolls down the road she thinks she needs to warn it away. My notes are piled beside my chair in an organized chaos that only I seem to understand. I used to have a room where I sat at a desk but number one son needed a bedroom of his own so I sacrificed. What us moms won’t do.

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

Robin Leigh Miller: Billboards, lots and lots of billboards with my book cover ten stories high right in everyone’s face. I’d also advertise on television during Idol or any of those reality shows that make me nauseous. I’d even buy advertising space in shoe stores, right between all the gorgeous heals and stylish summer sandals. That’s where my target audience is, right?

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

Robin Leigh Miller: Self-promotion is key. You have to take charge of getting your name and book out there or it won’t happen. Most publishers don’t do much promotion so you absolutely have to do it yourself. I hit review sites on the internet, work the networking sites and even bought a local newspaper add. Word of mouth is good, if you know a lot of people. Business cards, bookmarks, pamphlets, contests, anything you can do to bring people to your site and get your name and book out there is helpful. Choosing a good promotional company that has connections is great. I’m using Pump Up Your Book and they have opened doors that I never even knew existed.

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

Robin Leigh Miller: I’d say the number one reason is rejection. If you want to be in the publishing industry you have to be able to take rejection. Brush it off, learn from criticism and keep forging on. Nothing worth while comes easily. If the big houses are turning you down, maybe you can find support in the smaller presses. Work your way up, stepping stones. I haven’t wanted to give up yet. I’m sure I’ll hit some very large hurdles through my journey but I’d like to think I’m the type of person that will scrap, claw and climb my way over those hurdles.

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

Robin Leigh Miller: If writing is your passion then keep writing. If you think you’re lacking something then find a writers course, attend a seminar, research do anything you have to do but don’t give up your dream. It’s your dream and no one can take it away from you.

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

Robin Leigh Miller: Thank you so very much for your time and for helping me promote Black Smoke. I wish everyone excitement in their lives, romance in their hearts and a little paranormal mixed in to keep things interesting.

You can visit Robin's website at or her blog at Connect with her on Facebook at or visit her at Author's Den at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Interview with Children's Author Brian D. McClure

Ohio born native Brian McClure is the Founder and President of The Universal Flag and its affiliate companies. He is an author, human rights advocate and messenger of the oneness of all. Inside of the Universal Flag Companies, he set up a Non Profit Foundation to help relieve the suffering which he has witnessed in third world countries, along with spreading the Universal Flags throughout the World. The flag was recently paraded and flown at The United Nations as part of World Peace Day.

Brian has developed an awareness of equality among all people and nationalities. His primary goal is to help people remember that inside each of us we hold the higher truths that are transforming our world.

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

I grew up in a small city in N.E. Ohio, and quickly learned to love football. I played from fourth grade through college, which is where I reached the end of the road. I was too small, and not fast or quick enough to make it to any other level of play. Fortunately, besides having a college education, football taught me some very important life lessons. Three years after graduation, after working for a couple companies, I decided to start a company of my own. Yes, you're right! I had No experience, but I did have one thing going for me that served me well. Football taught me to work hard every day and to Not Quit! What I lacked in experience, I made up for in enthusiasm. It took me five years, but I eventually became very successful in the businesses I owned. As for writing, for years I had this inner voice telling me to write… Truth is though, I ignored the calling for a very long period. Writing to me was work! That belief was etched into my mind because of all the writing school forced upon me. At the time, I always felt that I didn’t have a choice, so I resisted when I did have a choice! Warning… when you have an internal voice asking you to do something, you are served best by listening. Suffice it to say the internal calling won in the end, and by my late forties, I answered the call to start writing.

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

The first book I wrote, The Raindrop, came to me as I was taking a shower one morning. Those two words popped into my head, and at the same time water was falling on my head. I thought that was interesting, so after my shower I went down to the computer and typed those two words on the screen. What happened next, still makes me smile! The book started writing itself… I would write until the words stopped, and I would go to work. By the next morning, new words would pop into my head and I would continue writing. I never knew what was going to happen in any story I was writing. They actually wrote themselves through that internal voice!
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

As funny as this may sound, it was convincing those who know me that I was actually writing the stories. Probably because they would always ask me what was going to happen next, and I never knew!

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, there is a media kit that has some information about me at: under media information.

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 had the opportunity to appear on television, radio, and in newspapers and magazines mostly because that internal voice has pushed me to be in service to others. As such, my life has changed in many ways. Presently, I am in the process of setting up reading sessions with children at libraries and schools.

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?

For my books I use The Cadence Group out of NY, and they do a fabulous job promoting them.

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

No… but my books are being promoted now, which of course… is the perfect time! Now… : )))

Do you plan subsequent books?

I have two more children’s books that I have written, and the artwork is completed. I am just waiting to bring them to market. Additionally I am in the process of writing a book for adults titled, A Call to Consciousness. It is about my trip into consciousness, which has many twists and turns along the way.

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

My books are available at and are in many bookstores. You can find me at: and on facebook.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today I enjoyed it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Interview with Humor Author Richard Arneson

Richard Arneson’s thirteen years working in corporate America drove him up a tree―literally. Once he escaped the telecommunications industry after ten years of service, he built a tree house―ostensibly for his two young sons―installed electricity and cable TV, and set out to fix himself, deciding that dealing with the memories of working in the goofy-as-hell world of corporate America could only be accomplished by getting them down on paper. Citizen Dick is the result.

He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife, a two-time cancer survivor who can’t remember why she married him, and their two young sons. He plans on building a second story on his tree house in the summer of 2010, one large enough to accommodate a baby grand piano and two dental chairs.

Find out more about Citizen Dick by visiting its website at


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

A: I’ve been creating stories my entire life, and have always known it was one of my strengths. I have four older siblings, and when I could make them laugh I felt like a million bucks, like a celebrity. I remember embellishing dreams that I’d had, then telling them over the breakfast table. Hearing everybody laugh made me feel like nothing else did. I remember gauging success at school based on the amount of good lines I had, ones that got laughs. I still take a lot of pride in being able to make people laugh. If you can get something to come out their nose, you’ve entered bonus territory.

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

A: Writing Citizen Dick was a project that I’d outlined long ago, and when my mother died (my father passed away several years earlier) I felt like there was no more buffer between me and death. So I knew it was time, that you’re not going to be around forever. I fear the day when I regret not having done some of the things I always wanted to do but didn’t get around to doing. I’d love to believe that I won’t have any, but I know that’s highly unlikely.

Citizen Dick is about a fairly hapless guy who backs his way into a huge corporation lead by executives who can’t see past anything other than the stock price. Their jobs—and bonuses—are totally tied to that one number, and they go to great lengths to make sure the stock price rises, even if that means trying to make Wall Street believe they’re re-inventing themselves by branching out into another industry. Of course, they know nothing about the meat industry, their new foray. You guessed it—it’s a farce, but I think it does say a lot about huge corporations and how those high level executives are so far removed from the users of their products. They’ve long ago lost focus on the things that built the company in the first place.

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

A: Finding time—I have two young sons, and my wife was battling cancer for the second time in five years. There were a lot of early mornings and late nights responsible for Citizen Dick, most of the time writing in the tree house I built for my kids; for them originally, that is. I ended up getting a little carried away and put cable TV, Ethernet connectivity and a phone line in. I’d love to get a small piano up there someday, maybe put in plumbing…at least a urinal that’ll empty into my neighbor’s pool.

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

A: Absolutely; here’s the link to it –

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

A: I actually had a feature done about me on the Dallas CBS affiliate. Here’s the link: It focused on my having been a telecommunications executive who dropped out of the rat race, built a tree house, then hunkered down to write a novel in it. It was cool, well done, and, best of all, they put the huge, telescopic satellite truck in front of my neighbor’s house. He turned me in to Dallas Code Compliance in an attempt to get the tree house project shut down—a whole other story.

I’d like to speak to some groups that cater to the unemployed, especially if they’re the product of downsizing and can appreciate the humor and examples in Citizen Dick. And I’m hoping it’d be inspirational, proof that they can still do things, accomplish stuff even if they’re not currently holding down a job. When I began Citizen Dick, I wasn’t working, and thought this’d be the perfect opportunity to begin the project even though I felt a little guilty about it at times, that I should have been more focused on get resumes out, making calls and interviewing.

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

A: I had an agent when I was writing a lot of screenplays, and while I had a couple of them optioned by small production companies, I found the opportunities myself. It was very hard, the waiting. I was working on an entirely different timeframe. For that reason, providing the agent’s name might not be the best idea. Not that he did a bad job, but, well, he really didn’t do a whole lot for me. Hey, maybe he did do a bad job now that I think about it. Okay, here’s his name…

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

A: We did, and it entails a lot of book signings first in Dallas, Austin and Houston, then slowly creeping outward from those cities to other big ones. In addition, I have several interviews with radio talk shows lined up…again, the notion of writing a novel in a tree house is a pretty good story. Of the dozens of reviews to date, I’ve only had one negative one, but they admitted to not understanding the inner-workings of corporate America. It never occurred to me that there was anybody like that out there. I thought everybody had been employed by a monster corporation at some point or another.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Absolutely. I’m currently writing The Tree House, a novel that is very loosely based on my experiences while building the tree house--taking care of small kids and my wife, and doing battle with a nutty neighbor. I took those experiences and amped them up about 500 percent, of course. It’s funny, but certainly more serious than Citizen Dick. But when you write in a tree house, it’s tough to write about subjects that are too serious. It’s like riding a bike…it’s hard to be a cranky curmudgeon while on one. It’s too much fun.

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

A: It’ll be in stores nationally around the first of the summer, but is currently online at,, and

Monday, April 12, 2010

Interview with Marilyn Randall, author of 'My Heart and Soul'

At 64 years of age, Marilyn is retired from the printing industry after many years as a graphic art director and graphic production director. Her first book, My Heart And Soul, was released in 2009 and she followed that by publishing six children’s books. Her ability to both write and illustrate her children’s books makes her unique in today’s writing market. She spends her time writing, illustrating, designing and collecting antique porcelain from Germany and Victorian glass. Her varied interests continue to keep her busy and she is enjoying this new phase of her career, which she describes as, “Exciting and fulfilling beyond belief.“ All of her books can be viewed at her web site and at, and

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

[Marilyn] I have been writing poetry most of my life, since I was a young girl growing up in southern Oregon. I wrote my first poem in the seventh grade for a homework assignment and was called to the front of the class when I turned it in because the teacher thought that I had plagiarized it. It was blank verse and he didn’t know that I could write such a piece on my own. After convincing him that it was indeed my own, I received an A for the grade.

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

[Marilyn] My Heart And Soul is an anthology of many of my poetry, prose, letters and prayers that I have written over the years, all related to my own life experiences. After my husband passed away I needed a new direction for my own life and this was something that interested me and that I became passionate about accomplishing.

What kind of research was involved in writing My Heart And Soul?

[Marilyn] Because it is a reflection of my deep feelings and beliefs it required no research.

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

[Marilyn] I am very blessed that it has actually been a very easy and exciting journey for me to become a published author. I chose to publish with Xlibris and they are a wonderful, helpful group to work with.

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

[Marilyn] It was approximately five months from the first contact until the book was finished and in my hands.

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?

[Marilyn] I don’t have an agent at this time, but I am considering that as a future possibility because I have so many published books now.

Do you plan subsequent books?

[Marilyn] I am writing and illustrating my seventh children’s book at this time and my sixth children’s book was just released this week. My first fiction, novel, Quicksand, will be released next month, also by Xlibris Corp.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

[Marilyn] I have a studio room set up where I do my illustrating and art-work and I write in that area some of the time. My home overlooks the waters of Puget Sound near Seattle and I love sitting in my family room, in front of the large glass windows where lots of light penetrates every day and I can enjoy the serenity of the surroundings and write in that peaceful environment as well.

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

[Marilyn] I would like to be a guest on an important talk show to share about my books and about the life I’ve had getting to this point in my career. If there was a way to purchase time on a talk show, that is what I would strive for.

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

[Marilyn] I believe self promotion is huge in this business and I spend lots of time on a regular basis introducing myself to people whenever I go out, telling them about my books and inviting them to look me up on my website. I have spent lots of time learning to write press releases and meeting people online in the marketing business who have helped me to learn a great deal.

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

[Marilyn] I believe lots of people get discouraged because knocking on publisher’s doors is a daunting and sometimes painful task. The newest, sometimes called vanity publishing, is a way to avoid that difficulty, however publishing that way can be expensive and if one isn’t prepared for the expense, it can also be a discouraging process.

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

[Marilyn] I hope that anyone who has the desire to publish their story or book will at least try to make their dream a reality. One cannot finish if one never starts and keeping the dream alive and going forward is the key to someday being the published author you have dreamed of becoming. I hope that when I reach the end of my life I will look back with no regrets for not doing something that I truly wanted to do and had a passion for. For me, publishing my books is fulfilling my dream and leaving me with no regrets for unfinished business.

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

[Marilyn] It has been my pleasure and I thank you for the time you’ve spent letting me share about My Heart And Soul.

Friday, April 09, 2010

3 Ways to Look at Your Diet Now That You're Diabetic

If you know someone with diabetes, you'll love Cherie Burbach's latest book, 21 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Someone with Diabetes. This book will tell you what you can do to help someone afflicted with the incurable disease, diabetes. Things like what you should (and shouldn’t) say, what you should learn to truly be supportive, and even how you can help in the fight for a cure.

Cherie Burbach is an author, blogger, poet, crocheter, and geek. She loves football and is obsessed with anything having to do with the Green Bay Packers or Tudor history.

Not only has she written 21 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Someone with Diabetes, Cherie used her experience with meeting her husband online to pen At the Coffee Shop, a humorous look at the world of Internet dating. Cherie went on over 60 coffee dates in just six months. She met lots of great people and one of those turned out to be the guy she would marry just one year later. Cherie’s new dating book, Internet Dating is Not Like Ordering a Pizza is available now.

She is a staff writer for b5media, and also the author of three poetry books, including A New Dish and The Difference Now. Her latest, Father’s Eyes, has received the 2008 Editor’s Choice Award by Allbooks Review.

Readers have resonated with Cherie’s honest and inspirational ”This I Believe” essay, which is the second-most popular out of over 40,000 entries on the NPR website.

Cherie is our guest today with a wonderful blog post explaining why you should take a second look at what goes into your mouth if you have diabetes.

If you'd like to find out more about how you can help someone with diabetes, you can follow her online during her virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book. Starting off with a wonderful interview at Blogcritics and continuing all month long with a last stop with a review at Pump Up Your Book.

Welcome, Cherie!

3 Ways to Look at Your Diet Now That You're Diabetic
by Cherie Burbach, author of 21 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Someone with Diabetes

When people first become diabetic, they might think that they can't enjoy food like they once did. The reality is that diabetes changes the way you look at food for the better. If you're feeling frustrated about your "diabetic diet," here are some points to keep in mind.

No Food is Off Limits Completely

A diabetic diet is a healthy one. It's a diet we all should eat: plenty of fruits and vegetables, low fat choices, and not too much fat and sugar. That doesn't mean you can't occasionally (and occasionally is the key here) indulge in the sweet treats. It does mean that you'll be changing your diet and your palate, and food will begin to taste differently. You'll crave the healthier choices rather than the empty calories and appreciate how much better you feel.

It's All About the Portions

Let's face it, we are a nation that eats too much. Period. Our portion sizes have gone crazy. When you have diabetes, you have to watch portion sizes. In fact, you might be surprised at first what a healthy portion size really is! Schedule an appointment with your doctor and dietician so you can create a meal plan that is right for you.

It's Not All About Food

Food might become a focus when you're diabetic, but it doesn't have to be. Life is about so many more things than that. So instead of eating mindlessly when you're bored, fill up your life with hobbies, friends, and faith. There is so much more to life than food. Realize the blessings in your life and your focus on food will diminish.

For more information, please visit Cherie’s website,, her personal blogs, or follow her on Twitter:

You can purchase her book online at Amazon by clicking here.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Interview with T.H.E. Hill: 'Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary'

T.H.E. Hill (center, left), the author of Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary, served with the U.S. Army Security Agency at Field Station Berlin in the mid-1970s, after a tour at Herzo Base in the late 1960s. He is a three-time graduate of the Defense Language Institute (DLIWC) in Monterey, California, the alumni of which are called "Monterey Marys". The Army taught him to speak Russian, Polish, and Czech; three tours in Germany taught him to speak German, and his wife taught him to speak Dutch. He has been a writer his entire adult life, but now retired from Federal Service, he writes what he wants, instead of the things that others tasked him to write while he was still working.

You can learn more about T.H.E. Hill and his books at:

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

[Tom]I have been a consumer of the written word and a writer all my adult life. My family did not have the money to send me to college, and no scholarships were coming my way, but I nevertheless wanted to get out and see the world, so I joined the Army. That was where I started writing, and I've been writing ever since. Somebody sat me down in front of a stack of files, said "read all this stuff, and then write me a report about it." They seemed to like what I was doing, because they kept bringing me things to read and report on. So I wrote more and more and more reports, and eventually discovered that it was addictive. I've been writing constantly since I was about 20, which is roughly four decades. During the time that people paid me to write reports, the clarity of your prose and the correctness of your analysis were the gauges by which a writer's product was judged. I would ask that those who look askance at novelists with this kind of writing background to recall that Hemingway was a journalist, who started out writing for his high school newspaper, became a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star, later was a correspondent for the Toronto Star, then wrote dispatches from the Spanish Civil War and covered World War II. Mark Twain worked as a journalist for twenty years before he wrote his first novel. Shelley Fisher Fishkin's From Fact to Fiction: Journalism & Imaginative Writing in America (1985) provides an exhaustive account of the impact that journalism has had on American literature. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "In the real world, the right thing never happens in the right place and the right time. It is the job of historical novelists to make it appear that it has." That is what I've done with Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary.

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

[Tom] Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary is ostensibly about the pre-wall Berlin Spy Tunnel that the CIA used to tap Russian telecommunications cables in the mid-1950s. It became famous, when it was discovered by the Soviets, 54 years ago this month, on 21 April 1956. The Time Magazine article (7 May 1956) about the discovery was entitled "BERLIN: Wonderful Tunnel." In the article the tunnel is described by a German journalist as "the best publicity the U.S. has had in Berlin for a long time." • You can learn more about the Berlin Spy Tunnel at the on-line Cold War Museum. The yarn in the novel is told from both ends of the tunnel. One end is the story of the Americans who worked the tunnel. The main character—Kevin—is a "Monterey Mary," which is Army slang for a Linguist. He is the one who has to transcribe the Russian conversations that are coming off the cable tap. This part of the story is about the fight of the tunnel rats for a sense of purpose against boredom, and against the enemy both within and without.

Reviewers have compared the novel to Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Richard Hooker's M*A*S*H*, and Hans Helmut Kirst's Zero Eight Fifteen, perhaps better known in America as The Revolt of Gunner Asch.
The other end of the tunnel is the story of the Russians whose telephone calls the Americans are intercepting. Their side of the tale is told in the unnarrated transcripts of their calls. They are the voices under Berlin. This part of the novel has been compared to Henrik Ibsen’s "play for voices," Peer Gynt, which is usually considered very hard to stage due to its accent on the aural, rather than on the visual. This unusual literary technique is intended to help the reader understand the ear-centric worldview of the people who had to transcribe the Russians’ conversations. The result is a new type of spy novel, as unique as Berlin herself. It is Cloak-and-dagger with headphones. "A Spy Novel that Breaks all the Molds," was what one reviewer called it. I wrote Voices Under Berlin, because I wanted to record what it was like to fight the Secret Cold war for posterity. When their children ask "What did you do in the Cold War?," most Secret Cold War veterans, have to say something trite, like "If I told you, I'd have to shoot you." I wanted to give voice to some of their stories so that they would not disappear when the generations of Kevins and Fast Eddies who are sworn to silence shuffle off this mortal coil. Voices Under Berlin may not be exactly the story that each and every one of them would like to tell, but it is close enough so that people who fought the Secret Cold War in places other than Berlin say that they felt right at home while reading it. I wanted Secret Cold War vets to be able to answer their children and grandchildren with: "I can't tell you exactly, but why don't you read Voices Under Berlin?" A number of secret Cold War veterans have done just that. And I wanted to entertain people with what I was writing. Judging from the reactions I've gotten from readers I was pretty successful. Voices Under Berlin has garnered five book awards thus far.

What kind of research was involved in writing Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary?

[Tom] The story is hung loosely on the historical background of the CIA cross-sector tunnel in Berlin in the mid-1950s, and that came primarily from three sources: 1) Battleground Berlin, a book on the Intelligence war in Berlin written by a former chief of the CIA Base in Berlin in cooperation with a retired KGB Chief of German operations from that period. It has a whole chapter on the tunnel. 2) Spies Beneath Berlin by David Stafford of the University of Edinburgh. 3) The Official CIA history of the tunnel that was prepared in August 1967 and declassified in February 2007. The historical background for occupied Berlin during the tunnel period came from a number of sources such as Berlin Before the Wall by Hsi-Huey Liang and a series of booklets published by Berlin Command for distribution to newcomers. The fact that these army booklets are quite rare and are not to be found in libraries—even in the Library of Congress—made me decide to reprint them as a single volume after I completed Voices Under Berlin. Those interested in the reprint can find it on as Berlin in Early Cold-War Army Booklets. The booklets contain a wealth of background information on occupied Berlin at the time of the tunnel. It has found a good reception with the reading public. On, it is listed as the “Also Bought Together” companion of Voices Under Berlin.

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

[Tom] The twenty-first century is a time in which good books are finding it progressively more difficult to be accepted by a publisher, so a bumpy ride is undoubtedly the road most traveled these days. I had the typical series of rejection letters. The final count was 47. The only people who sail into representation by an agent or get a book contract on their first try have names like Madonna, Sharon Osbourne, or Sarah Palin.

The specific problem with Voices Under Berlin is that it is a different kind of spy novel. It is the kind of thing that has not been done before. One reviewer called it "A Spy Novel that Breaks all the Molds." And therein lies the problem. More and more these days publishers and agents are looking for what was selling last week, rather than for something new. I think that is best illustrated by one of the responses I got when the manuscript was making the rounds of literary agents in search representation.

It was the best rejection letter I got. Almost all the others were just form letters with some vacuous reason for rejection like "It does not fit our current requirements." This agent, however, took the time to write me a personal letter, in which he said that Voices Under Berlin was very Helleresque, but that it would sell better with more sex and violence.

I very much appreciated his taking the time to do so, but that wasn’t the kind of book that I had set out to write. I wanted to write a book that was based on the reality of the mind numbing boredom of a Sunday mid while you’re waiting for the target’s loose lips to sink a ship.

Readers' reactions to Voices Under Berlin indicate that I was right on the mark. The one that that, perhaps, illustrates this point best was from a soldier who is currently fighting the Secret War in the mid-East. In a post on the Discussion Boards, he said "I thought it was hilarious how some of the SIGINT/linguist jokes and eccentricities have virtually remained unchanged in sixty years . . . I can assure you the same situations are being played out in Iraq and Afghanistan as I type this. :-) I encourage anyone currently in SIGINT to read up on this stuff. It will make you smile a bit knowing that people have been going through the same crap you did as a SIGINTer for the past 60 years!"

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you put the first words on a blank page to its release?

[Tom] The concept of Voices Under Berlin had been percolating in the back of my mind for about five years when Battleground Berlin: CIA Vs. KGB in the Cold War first came out in 1999. This is a book about the Intelligence war in Berlin written by a former chief of the CIA Base in Berlin in cooperation with a retired KGB Chief of German operations from that period. It has a whole chapter on the tunnel. That was followed by a further round of note taking and contemplation. Then when David Stafford's Spies Beneath Berlin came out in 2003, I decided that I had to get serious about the project. This led to a further round of note taking, but I did not get down to cases until I signed up for a Writers' Digest course on novel writing in January 2007. That was the tipping point for the novel, because the course gave me the incentive to turn all my notes into a coherent narrative. The course required that we submit polished drafts of chapters from our novels each week for the instructor and other students to read and comment on. I had paid a considerable amount of money to participate, and I was determined to get my money's worth out of it. The instructor and student comments were very helpful in getting me to focus on the structure and the plot. By the time the course ended, I had 15 thousand words of finished text, and a clear road map for where the novel was headed. The first version (110 thousand words) was finished in July, and I started sending it around to test readers. The final revisions were completed in December, and Voices Under Berlin became a real book at the end of January 2008.

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

[Tom] No, I do not have an agent. I tried to get an agent, but all I got for my trouble was 32 rejection letters. An agent—if I could have found one to represent me—might have gotten me a better deal. And bearing that in mind, I will be shopping my next novel to agents when it is ready to be read by other people.

You mentioned your "next novel"?

[Tom] I have three novels in various stages of development. The reason for this is that I’m one of those authors who sits down in front of a computer and lets the characters tell him what to write. Once I have the first few words on screen to set the scene for a chapter, the characters are normally quite talkative. Some days, however, the characters don't want to talk to me. When that happens, I just see what the characters in the other two novel projects have to say. If I only had one project going, I would be stuck until the characters started speaking to me again. But with three projects, there is usually somebody who wants to talk. I'm actually making good progress on all three.

The project for which the characters are speaking to me at the moment is The Day Before the Wall: Berlin August 1961. The plot is based on a "legend" that was still told on mids in Berlin when I was there in the Army in the mid-1970s. My story relates what happens to a young American sergeant in Military Intelligence who has a piece of information that the East Germans are prepared to kill for. He knows that construction of the Berlin Wall will begin at midnight on August the 13th, and that orders have been given to the East German engineer troops who will be building the wall to pull back if the Americans take aggressive action to stop construction. The Stasi, the East German secret police, are after him, but so are the West-Berlin municipal police and the U.S. Army MPs, because the Stasi have framed him for the murder of his postmistress. It's August the 12th, and the clock is running almost as fast as my hero. The key question of the novel is: "even if he is lucky enough to make it back across the border, will anybody in the West believe what he has to say and take action on it before it is too late?" History says that he either didn't make it, or they didn't believe him. I'm not going to spoil the surprise of the ending by telling you which now. You'll have to buy a copy when it's published to find out. It has turned out rather well, if I do say so myself.

The second project is entitled Reunification. It is about an American who used to be stationed in Berlin going back to post-wall, reunified Berlin and meeting his old "long-haired dictionary." The key questions to be explored here are: "Is there an 'us' in this reunited couple?", "Is there an 'us' in the reunited halves of eastern and western Berlin?", and "Is there a place for the 'USA' in the reunited Germany?".

My third project has the working title of The Listeners at P.O.Box 1142: The Hunt for Nazi Secrets in Virginia. This is a return to the style and layout of Voices Under Berlin. The main character will be another transcriber, and the transcripts will be of the bugs in the cells of high-value Nazi prisoners of war.

During World War II, the USA had an interrogation center for Nazi POWs at Fort Hunt in Virginia. The operation of the center was so secret that it was only known by its post office box number. The history of P.O.Box 1142 has only recently been declassified, and the press immediately seized on the story to make comparisons to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

[Tom] My favorite place to write is my office. It is a quiet and cozy small room, at the back of the house. Two of the walls are lined with books, floor to ceiling. The other two walls are lined with South-Sea Island masks, a taste that I picked up during my tour in Berlin. It's not for nothing that Kevin and Gabbie meet in the Dahlem Museum in Zehlendorf, and go to the Abteilung Südsee, where the Oceanic art and artifacts exhibits are. I spent a lot of time there.

The agreement at home is that if I have the door closed, I'm listening to my characters talk and do not want to be disturbed, except in case of flood, fire, or earthquake. When the door's open, it "safe" to come in.

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

[Tom] If money were no object, then a Super-Bowl commercial by a creative genius like Ridley Scott, who did the world-famous Apple Super-Bowl commercial in 1984, would be the first thing I would invest in. That would only cost a "paltry" five million: about three million for the thirty-second slot, and somewhere around two million for the production costs. That investment gets you an audience in the neighborhood of 90 to 100 million viewers during the game, not to mention the pre-game buzz about who is buying ads, and the post-game Internet rebroadcast of the commercial on sites that do compilations of the best Super-Bowl ads. Since I doubt that any other publisher or author would be willing to make that kind of investment in a single book, I would also get the invaluable bragging rights for being the only novel with its own Super-Bowl spot.

More realistically, money is tight these days, and I cannot afford a Super-Bowl ad. That is why I am taking advantage of the growing impact of social media outlets to go on this nationwide virtual book tour with Pump up Your Book. More and more people are getting the information they need to decide which books to buy online, while more and more traditional media outlets are cutting the number of book reviews and the amount of literary coverage that they carry. Recommendations from book bloggers, supplemented with reviews by ordinary readers on or Barnes &, or are taking the place of the traditional-media literary arbiters who used to be able to propel a book to bestsellerdom, or dash its author's hopes with a single review. Diversity is king in the marketplace for books in the twenty-first century, due to the technological advances that have made it economically feasible to produce books for niche audiences, but this economic feasibility only works if these books are distributed online. Authors and publishers who ignore this paradigm shift in the publishing industry do so at their peril, because they are ignoring a growing segment of their potential market, which, by some estimates, accounts for 25-30% of the books sold each year in the USA. A Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tour will bring Voices Under Berlin to the attention of the multitude of people who buy books online every day. With the thousands of books being published each year in this new publishing climate, you have to work hard to make your book stand out from the pack. I believe firmly that F. Scott Fitzgerald's oft quoted statement—"You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say"—applies to Voices Under Berlin, so by working with Pump Up Your Book via a Virtual Book Tour, I am trying to give Voices Under Berlin the best possible chance of reaching its audience. And by leaving the publicity heavy-lifting to them, I can spend more time writing.

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

[Tom] Nobody is ever going to feel as passionately about your book as you do, so in the end, you are your own best salesman. Yes, paid publicity and marketing professionals are worth the money you pay them to get the word out about your novel, but you are still the best spokesperson for your book. Nobody will ever understand the story that your novel has to tell like you do. What marketing and publicity professionals bring to the table is a contact list, and a knowledge of how to get these contacts to pay attention to what you have to say. These professionals can help you formulate your message, but you have to give them something to work with. Without your input to the marketing and publicity campaign for your novel, the campaign will sound hollow, and the results will be mediocre.

I have a webSite that provides information about Voices Under Berlin, about its non-fiction companion piece Berlin in Early Cold-War Army Booklets, and about my art. I have designed a series of postcards and brochures about my books, and hand those out instead of business cards. I write my own publicity releases, do book signings and interviews. It can be a full-time job, but I try to limit my publicity activities to one day a week. I would like to eventually finish my other works in progress.

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

[Tom] I think that most new writers give up their quest for publication, because they begin to believe the seemingly endless stream of rejection letters that come in response to their queries, forgetting that the people writing these letters are making marketing decisions based on their own subjective tastes and a knowledge of what the market was buying yesterday. They are not infallible. Can you imagine how the 12 publishers who rejected J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series must feel in the light of its runaway best-seller status, followed by a string of movies!

Rejection letters are part and parcel of being a writer. Each one is a test of your determination to tell the story that you are sure has something to say to others. You have to believe firmly that F. Scott Fitzgerald's oft quoted statement—"You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say"—applies to you and your story. You cannot let a rejection letter shake that belief, because one day, if you don't give up, you will indeed find your audience, and your faith in yourself and your story will be validated. My faith in myself and my story has been validated by the five book awards that Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary has thus far received.

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

[Tom] Write the best book you can. If your book is the best you can make it, and has a unique voice, it will speak for itself.

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

[Tom] You're quite welcome. It was my pleasure to be here at The Writer’s Life, and thank you for your good wishes.

My Sister's Voice by Mary Carter l Q&A + Blog Tour + Giveaway

MARY CARTER is a freelance writer and novelist. My Sister’s Voice is her fourth novel with Kensington. Her other works include: She’ll Take It, Accidentally Engaged, Sunnyside Blues, and The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home. She is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, which is part of the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has just completed A Very Maui Christmas, a new novella for Kensington that will be included in a Christmas of 2010 anthology. She is currently working on a new novel, The Pub Across the Pond, about an American woman who swears off all Irish men only to learn she’s won a pub in Ireland. Readers are welcome to visit her at

Mary is here with us today to answer your questions and will be giving away a copy of her book, My Sister's Voice! Leave a comment or question in the comment section (making sure to leave your email address or you won't be eligible) to win. Or, simply write "I love My Sister's Voice!" You have until April 26 to enter and the winner will be announced on April 26. Good luck!

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

I am a novelist and freelance sign language interpreter living in Queens, New York. I’m originally from Ohio, but I’ve lived a lot of places, and currently this is my third stint back in New York City. I was a Manhattan girl up until a few years ago, but I have to say I like Queens too. I can still see Manhattan from my window, and she’s only a twelve-minute subway ride away, so it’s all good. My first novel was published in 2006, but I have been writing all my life—short stories, plays, poetry, essays, letters, diary entries—it all counts. My first story was called The Boy and the Mouse. I was four-years-old. Truthfully, the writing was kind of childish.

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

My Sister’s Voice is about twin girls, one Deaf, the other hearing, who meet accidentally when they are twenty-eight-years-old. When the Deaf twin, Lacey, learns her sister Monica was raised by their biological parents, while she was left at a group home for disabled children, she sets out to answer the very painful and bewildering question of “Why?” Monica wants a sister, but Lacey wants nothing but answers.

I wrote this book after my editor said he’d like to see a book about sisters. He’d also been very interested in my life as a sign language interpreter, and encouraged me to write about that some day as well. It seemed like the perfect time to put the two together. And I’d always been fascinated with stories of twins being raised apart yet having eerie similarities and even parallel lives. It was the perfect way to combine all of my interests.

What kind of research was involved in writing?

Although I do not speak for the Deaf Community in my book, and it is a work of fiction, I have been in the field as an interpreter for the past twelve years, so I was completely comfortable writing a Deaf character. I researched the city of Philadelphia, and ate a lot of cheese steaks to get the descriptions just right. I also researched twins who had been raised separately and reunited as adults. It was all fun, but I’ll miss the cheese steaks most of all.

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

Getting my first book published was easier for me than it has been for many others. I was definitely lucky. But I also did my homework and didn’t submit the book until I felt it was ready. I don’t think I would have had the same reaction to the book if I had turned it in too early. So that helped smooth the waters. Living the life of a writer has been challenging, although well worth it. It’s challenging because I still have a day job. And sometimes, I’m writing one book, while editing, then publicizing the previous book. It’s definitely a lot of work, and you have to accept that as part of the lifestyle.

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

I had about a year to write it, then the editing process began, followed by the cover art, the galley copies to be sent to reviewers, and finally the release date. All said and done, it’s about a year and a half before the book hits the shelves.
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 current agent is Evan Marshall with the Evan Marshall Agency. Before that I was with Jim McCarthy at Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency. I think they are both excellent agents.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Definitely. I am currently contracted for two more books with Kensington. The one I am working on now is currently titled, The Pub Across the Pond, and it will be released in 2011.
Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

I love to write in coffee shops. I like coffee. I like being surrounded by people. I have no problem shutting out ambient noise, in fact I find it comforting. When I need a little break, I eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. I consider it a job requirement, rather than a social faux pas. Sometimes, however, I get lazy and just write on my couch in my pajamas.

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

A bookstore. Okay, seriously. Money always helps, but I think books still sell the old-fashioned way. Word of mouth. Readers are lovers. If they love your book, they’ll tell a friend, and that friend will tell a friend. It’s innate, it’s human nature, it’s pre-Twittering. Sky-writing is transient, and Oprah can’t be bought. If you think of anything though, let me know. The Naked Cowboy does all right for himself, but I’ve never been comfortable standing in Times Square in my underwear.

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

I think it’s necessary. So many new books come out every year, and then just disappear! It’s like we need to start putting their covers on milk cartons. But self-promotion is not a magic bullet, or even a guarantee that your books will sell. Do you Twitter? Do you blog? Do you Facebook? Do you Twitter about your blog on Facebook? I’m dizzy just thinking about it. The bottom line is—first you have to write a really good book. That said, I’ve tried book trailers, and blogs, and give-aways, and postcard mailings, and Facebook messages, and emails, and internet radio, and publicists, and chocolate. (The chocolate was for me by the way, just to make myself feel better). I’ll confess, I’ve never Twittered, but I do Google myself once in awhile. I try and throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks. But I won’t lie, it’s a full-time job, and not my favorite part of the process.
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 they give up because it’s really, really, hard. Because self doubt can swoop down and scoop you up faster than Superman. Because they convince themselves that published writers have something they don’t. And because they let rejection dictate their life. I think anyone who truly wants to become published has a pretty good shot of it if they keep writing, keep learning, keep submitting. It’s a matter of doing the work and hanging in there no matter what. I feel blessed that my work was picked up so quickly. I suffered through rejection as an actress, and quite frankly, after a number of years I did give up on that dream. So I can’t honestly sit here and say I would’ve continued writing novels if I had been rejected year after year. I don’t know. I’m just glad that’s not the way it worked out.

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

Write every day, or close to it. Read books in your genre. Be open to feedback. Read books on writing, or join a writer’s group, or take a class. Just keep going, keep learning. Put your ego aside and welcome feedback. Write something that fascinates you, or makes you furious, or makes you fall in love. If you’re bored, your reader will be bored too. Don’t write as if your mother is going to read it. Write as if you’re telling all your secrets to your best friend. Learn to love re-writing. Take a lesson from visual artists, sometimes they will take the same photograph or sketch the same subject a hundred times, scrap the ones that don’t work, and build on the one that does. Why should writers be any different? Sketch your first draft as quick as you can, be wild and free. Reign yourself in on the second draft. Don’t be afraid to cut, cut, cut. And then write some more. It’s a craft, it can be learned.

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

Thank you for the interview. Readers are welcome to visit me at

Mary Carter is on virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book throughout April and May 2010. If you'd like to see her official tour page to find out where she'll be touring next, click here!