Tuesday, June 29, 2010

YA Fiction Author Kailin Gow on virtual book tour July '10

Join Kailin Gow, author of the young adult novel, Rise of the Fire Tamer: Wordwick Games Book 1 (The EDGE), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in July ‘10 on her third virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

Kailin Gow is the author of over 30 books for all generations, but her specialty is the young adult/teen genre. Her books have been recommended by PBS Kids, the PTA, homeschooling organizations, and on the Best Teens Books list. She is a mentor for young women, has founded 3A for Autism (Actors, Artists, and Authors for Autism), and runs a publishing and production company known as Sparklesoup, a mid-size publisher and production company.

Rise of the Fire Tamer centers around a popular game called Wordwick Games in which five teens - Gemma, Sparks, Rio, Kat and Jack - end up winning and are invited to stay at Wordwick Games inventor Henry Word’s mysterious castle and play the newest level of Workwick Games. Little do they know, the castle is the doorway to a wondrous world call Anachronia where words can be used as weapons, power, and commodity. There is unrest in Anachronia, and if the five teens can follow the rules of Wordwick Games and prove to be the best player, one of them will be crowned Ruler of Anachronia.

Teen Books Reviewer calls Rise of the Fire Tamer "...A fast-paced exciting read!"

The Bookshelf calls it "A must read for those who love adventure and fantasy, competition and suspense..."

If you’d like to follow along with Kailin as she tours the blogosphere in July, visit her official tour page at Pump Up Your Book. Lots of fun in store as you travel the blogosphere to find out more about Kailin and her young adult fiction novel, Rise of the Fire Tamer. Join us for the Rise of the Fire Tamer Virtual Book Tour ‘10!

You can visit her website at www.sparklesoup.com.

Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in virtual book tours. You can visit our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Interview with Karina Lumbert Fabian: '...the stories are specifically about how God shows his love...'

Karina Lumbert Fabian was born into the Catholic faith, but truly grew to love it as an adult. A busy mother of four, she finds her strongest encounters with God's love happen in the ordinary events of the day-to-day. Karina started her writing career with diocesan newspapers but has settled into writing mostly fun-filled fantasy and science fiction that nonetheless incorporate the principles of faith-filled living. Karina is all over the web. You can visit her website at www.fabianspace.com.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Karina. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life?

Glad to be here. I've been writing professionally since 1996, when I gave up reading fiction for Lent and took up writing. My first job, obtained days after my vow, was with the Wyoming Catholic Register, writing feature stories, including a couple of vignettes about God's work in my own life. I've always toyed with these kinds of stories, but not seriously. I preferred news or helpful stories, which sell more easily, or fiction, which is more fun. However, I had a small collection of stories that I'd written and planned to sell "someday."

I have edited three science fiction anthologies (Infinite Space, Infinite God I and II, and Leaps of Faith), and written several novels. Magic, Mensa and Mayhem, a humorous fantasy about a Catholic dragon detective babysitting the Faerie folk at a convention, just won the 2010 INDIE Book awards for best fantasy. I've also got an annual contract for creating Catholic school planners, which include stories, quotes and short lessons.

In January 2010, Tribute books put out an ad looking for a Catholic writer to make a small book of faith stories and lessons learned. Because I was familiar with the kind of story-lesson-Scripture style they wanted and I had several unpublished stories in my files anyway, I considered it.

I hesitated because my stories are from a woman's point of view, and I felt they wanted something more universal, so I asked my father, Deacon Steve Lumbert, to collaborate with me. His contributions took what could have been a good little book and made it a terrific one!

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

Actually, we didn't. Tribute Books already had the title chosen, along with the format, cover art and even the website name, www.whygodmatters.com. It's a unique situation where we could just step in and give substance to form. (It was a refreshing change of pace from my seat-of-the-pants novel writing, too.)

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

Actually, my publisher believed it should be published--enough to have put in so much work into developing it even before they had hired me and my father.

Now, why do I believe it's worthy of their leap of faith? I'm going to cheat here and let a couple of our readers answer that:

Walt Staples, Former President of the Catholic Writers' Guild: Many times one sees Roman Catholicism explained using either closely reasoned theology or an appeal to ancient writers of the Church. While both are legitimate approaches, the average reader looking to explore the faith is often left cold... Steven Lumbert and Karina Fabian delineate the Catholic faith as experienced by a pair of average everyday people like the great majority who make up the 24 percent of Americans who share this religion.

Deacon Ditewig: We owe Karina and Deacon Steve a debt of gratitude for their sensitive and inspirational message. Like the catechists of the ancient church, they remind us that being a disciple must be something that permeates every aspect of our being. Being Christian is not something we do, but a relationship we nurture and live out every day of our lives.

Q: Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, Tribute Books have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

Tribute had the cover already designed, but it was love at first sight for me. I adore the simplicity and clarity of it. My only addition was to get the Catholic Writers' Guild Seal of Approval incorporated into the art. The CWG has assessed the book for its Catholocity and affirms that it does promote Catholic beliefs and values.

Q: How have you approached marketing your book? Do you have someone doing it for you or have you had to do most of the marketing yourself?

I'm being very spoiled this time. Tribute developed an impressive website, www.whygodmatters.com, and has taken our suggestions to include a sample chapter and a page where people can share their own faith stories. In addition, they hired Pump Up Your Book Promotions to arrange the virtual book tour. Tribute is also sending out press releases (which I provided) and is requesting reviews.

Naturally, I've been talking it up on my online groups, Twitter, Facebook, etc. My father is more person-to-person and plans on doing some live book signings at deacon events. Unfortunately, the book came out just as my family is moving to another state, so I've not been able to plan any live events yet, but I hope to. I also want to do some kind of talk to go with the book, perhaps about seeing God in the day-to-day, and one about fathers and daughters.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

There are a lot of books that teach you how to deepen your faith, and there are a lot of books (like the Chicken Soup series) that touch the heart. However, Why God Matters combines these. The stories are specifically about how God shows his love and how faith can be found in the everyday, and there are life lessons, Scripture and even paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church for meditation and spiritual growth. We think it's going to reach Catholics who want to grow in faith but need a baby step to start, or for those of well-developed faith who want a heartwarming book that's easy to digest as a change of pace.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Page 45, "Small Steps, Steady Progress." Oh, this is ironic. This is my story about how I was learning to conquer the housework thought small steady steps rather than letting it gather to crisis proportions, and how I needed to do the same with my faith. As I look around my house--which has been neglected as I have mono and am homeschooling one child for the rest of the year, plus getting ready to move--I'm thinking I'd better re-read that story!

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

My dad and I have talked about doing something else together, but right now, we're both too busy to do more than idly speculate. In the meantime, I'm back to fiction: Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, should be done in a couple of weeks. Then I'm going to rewrite my sci-fi novel, Discovery. If I finish before I get the editor comments on my fantasy novel, Mind Over Mind, I want to begin work again on Gapman, a superhero spoof set in my fantasy world of DragonEye, PI (www.dragoneyepi.net). Like I said, Why God Matters was a definite change for me.

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

The most central place to find out more about me is my website, www.fabianspace.com. There I keep my news, blog, books and whatever else.

The book has its own website, www.whygodmatters.com, and I'd like to especially direct attention to the "Share Your Story" page. We'd love to hear from you how God has touched your life, and would like others to come and read for inspiration.

As for purchasing Why God Matters, you can order it as a print or e-book online, or ask for it at your favorite Catholic bookstore. In fact, I'd really encourage you to ask at the Catholic bookstore. Perhaps they might order extra copies for their shelves, and we can share our faith stories with even more people. Plus Catholic bookstores have so much to offer and are fun to browse in.

Thanks again for the opportunity to talk about Why God Matters!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sherry Shumard's virtual book tour spotlighted in Danville, Illinois' The Commercial-News

GEORGETOWN — New author Sherry Shumard drops the names of best-selling writers as if they were lifelong friends. Paula Deen. Nancy Thayer. Claire Cook.

She can honestly say she’s “toured” with some famous authors, and they’re friends with her on Facebook.

Shumard and other authors — both beginners and well-known — have joined the online book-promotion agency, Pump Up Your Book. She’s “on tour” for the month of June.

Read rest of article here.

WTG, Sherry!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Interview with Terry M. Drake: 'I believe self-promotion is extremely important...'

Terry M. Drake is a Licensed Social Worker, National Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Certified Trainer of Ericksonian Hypnosis and Nero-linguistic Programming (NLP). He has spent the last 15 years learning about himself and others, through his academic studies resulting in his MSW, his professional studies, as a family therapist, program director and his vast training and research into hypnosis, NLP, the law of attraction and positive psychology. Terry, also has a wealth of personal experiences related to depression and addiction, which he shares in his writings and work with others. Terry is currently a Director of mental and behavioral health programs for a non-profit agency, a Life Coach and Hypnotherapist in private practice, as well as author, speaker and consultant.

His latest book is Live Happily, Ever After...Now!

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

I am married with 4 children, ranging in age from 3-16. I also work 40+ hours a week as a program director and another 10 hours a week in private practice as hypnotherapy and life coach. I am very busy, but I have lots of support, good time management skills and have created a healthy balance.

My wife and I, as well as the kids and especially our 3 year-old love the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. We spend as much time there as possible and vacation at least one week a year and several weekend excursions throughout the year.

I noted the Finger Lakes, because that is where I love to do my writing. I actually started about a year ago and I wrote the whole first rough draft for Live Happily, Ever After… Now! over a weekend stay on Keuka Lake.

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

Live Happily, Ever After… Now! uses age old, time tested secrets (found in NLP, Law of Attraction, Positive Psychology, and Hypnosis) to teach you how to create the life you want! The key is learning how much control you have over your life, your beliefs and attitudes about yourself, others and the world you live in. Once you understand that you are in control (and you will), then you can use the 9 simple steps to begin living the life you want. This is accomplished by teaching you how your mind works and processes information. You will then learn how you already use these same methods, with varying results, to get what you don’t want or in falling short of true success and happiness. Then I will teach you how to reverse this process and develop healthy and positive ways to think, act and feel about yourself and others. Live Happily, Ever After… Now! is also filled with professional, personal and historical examples that demonstrate how it’s done.

I wrote the book to help others, because I realized that I had a lot to offer them and could do so by writing a self-help book

How did you come up with your title?

I’m not sure exactly, I just kept thinking about what would get people’s attention, was easy to understand and get the idea of the book across. When I thought of the title it stuck and never changed.

What kind of research was involved in writing your book?

I have a life’s worth of research and experience into Live Happily, Ever After… Now! My 6 years in college, my 10 years of professional experience as a family therapist, program director and hypnotherapist and my 4+ years of studies into Ericksonian Hypnosis, Neuro-linguistic Programming, the Law of Attraction and Positive Psychology. I also used these to change my life and then when I put it all together and started working in my private practice, I realized how powerful the methods were, not only for me, but for others to. I decided I wanted to share this and put pen to paper and it flowed out.

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

It has been a bumpy ride. I have learned a lot of valuable information through the whole experience. Some mistakes are financially costly and others are time consuming, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I started my own publishing company, Lake House Publishing, and I am better prepared for my next book.

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

I started writing the book in May 2009 and the book is being released in May 2010, so it was a year long process.

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

I don’t currently have an agent, but I do believe I may need one in the future.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I have two books in my head now, just waiting to get on paper. I plan to start my next one later this month.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

That’s an interesting question and I note where that is in one of my early chapters, Don’t Think of Purple Elephants!. I love to write overlooking one of the Finger Lakes, preferably Keuka Lake. When the weather is nice, I can spend the whole day outside writing and when I need a break I look up and enjoy the beautiful scenery, it’s refreshing and recharging. I wrote my whole first draft in a weekend on Keuka Lake.

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

I would incorporate a huge online extravaganza, offering fee products and gift certificates, maybe making it a week long event. It would include blog visits, hosting chats and discussions, etc… I would have fun and make it fun for others.

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

I believe self-promotion is extremely important, especially with me being new to the industry and not having a large marketing budget, I need to be very creative at it. I have developed my website www.livehappilyeverafter-now.com, I have a blog that is attached to the site, I have a facebook fan page and you can join it, it’s Live Happily, Ever After Now!, I am also on facebook, twitter @terrymdrake and I have a profile on linkedin.

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 it’s because theirs way more to being a writer then just writing and once you find this out, it can be easy to give up or not follow through and get published. I almost gave up several times. In Live Happily, Ever After… Now! I describe that most of us have self-doubts or a need for perfection or fears that prevent us from following through or staying with things once they become tough. I really had to follow the principles set forth in my book to stick with it and I am proud that I did, while having fun doing it.

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

A quote that I use in my book and is from the great motivational writer and speaker Napoleon Hill, who by the way was a phenomenal person and understood that you can accomplish whatever you want, as long as you take steps to make it happen.

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right!”

You can find more quotes like this or the inspiration and formula you need to succeed in getting published, as well as being successful in everything you choose to do in Live Happily, Ever After… Now! Visit www.livehappilyeverafter-now.com and learn more.

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

Thank you!

Terry’s email address is tdrake@livehappilyeverafter-now.com, his website address is www.livehappilyeverafter-now.com and his blog is also on this site, as well as more information about him and his book Live Happily, Ever After… Now! On twitter @terrymdrake or become a fan at Live Happily, Ever After Now! On facebook.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interview with Ann Putnam: 'The beauty and laughter of the telling transcend the darkness of the tale'

Ann Putnam holds a PhD in literature from the University of Washington. She teaches creative writing and gender studies at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. She has published short fiction, personal essays, literary criticism and book reviews in various anthologies including Hemingway and Women: Female Critics and the Female Voice, and in journals, including the Hemingway Review, Western American Literature, and the South Dakota Review. Her latest work is a memoir, Full Moon at Noontide: A Daughter’s Last Goodbye.

Q: Welcome to The Writer’s Life, Ann. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Full Moon at Noontide: A Daughter’s Last Goodbye?

I think I’ve been writing my whole life. As a kid, I wrote stories and plays and skits, so I think I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. But professionally, I suppose this begins with my life as an academic almost twenty years ago. I thought when I’d finished my doctoral dissertation that my “real” writing life was over. That I’d somehow permanently altered my brain. I began to publish essays and articles in professional journals and anthologies, and that was fine. But of course it wasn’t the “real thing,” as I’d come to think of it over the years. So I went back to fiction and personal essays with a sense of homecoming. I was in the middle of writing a novel about Cuba, when my life changed forever. My father had a stroke, and my life as caregiver to my parents and uncle began.

The writing of Full Moon at Noontide came from a series of little notebooks of lines, phrases, sometimes single words I carried with me like a talisman through the months when I lost my father and my uncle, his identical twin. Those notebooks seem like relics to me now because I remember the places I carried them, where I sat when I wrote in them: hospital cafeterias, emergency rooms, ICU units, hospital hallways, elevators, lobbies. I carried the notebooks to keep me safe, to keep me from rushing out the doors of those hospitals and never coming back. Months after my uncle and my father died (six months to the day apart), I realized I had the beginnings of a book, and a book which I wanted and needed to write, not knowing how it would ever see the light of day.

Q: I love your title. Can you tell us why you chose it?

I had wanted to title the book, Lyric from a Thin Place, but my editor was dissatisfied with that. She wondered if people might think it was a book about eating disorders! My husband was in the hospital at the time, so I asked some of the nurses I’d gotten to know what they thought—and none of them interpreted it like this. But I couldn’t convince my editor. (“Lyric from a Thin Place” remains as a chapter title.) So after much going back and forth, she pulled a line from my book that said, “She was in that shimmering place where one is kept safe from despair by the tugs and pulls from both the living and dead, where the beloved dead are always a full moon at noontide.” Now the phrase is actually a permutation from a line in a Jewish prayer that says the beloved dead are always with us, like the stars, even though we can’t always see them. I used the moon instead of the stars because of a conversation I once had with a Peruvian doctor, who explained the Peruvian mythology of the moon, which venerates the moon as stronger than the sun because we can see it always, even by day.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes! I can’t imagine a life without writing. I’m a better person when I’m living the writer’s life. Of course there are days, weeks, that go by when I can’t get to my writing, but I have learned that I will always come back to it. It’s like breathing, and eventually you have to take a good, big, deep breath or you run out of air. I’m currently working on revising a novel called Cuban Quartermoon. It’s a novel set in Havana, Cuba and comes out of six trips to Cuba I took over the years as part of a Hemingway Colloquium sponsored by the Cuban Ministry of Culture. I’m in love with this book, but it’s big and sprawling and kind of defies genre—part magical realism, literary, political. I’m looking at it with an eye to what I should cut. Each time I went to Cuba I came home with another layer of emotion and experience. There is an old Cuban proverb which says, “Believe only half of what you hear in Cuba and none of what you see.” So there were layers and layers of intrigue, beauty and sorrow to unfold.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

Of course I wondered the whole time I was writing it what interest there might be in reading of this inevitable journey taken by such ordinary people. I was told so often that to sell a memoir you either had to be someone famous or have been captured by aliens. Still, I knew that I needed to write this book regardless of its ultimate fate. I really had no idea if it would be published. But I knew this story was universal and that many people were going through such things. We are a generation who are losing our parents, a generation who are becoming orphans. There is no name in our culture for such loss, and I wanted to give this universal experience a particular narrative arc. While I was completing final revisions, my husband was dying of cancer, and he died before I could finish it. So the book chronicles loss after loss. Yet I have always believed that turned to the light just so, the beauty and laughter of the telling transcend the darkness of the tale.

Q: Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, Southern Methodist University Press, have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

It’s a lovely story and when I give readings, people always ask me this. My editor wondered if my father, who was a photographer as well as a historian, might have some photographs they might consider. So I went looking through the boxes of his historical photographs and I found this gorgeous picture of the sun {or moon} coming from behind a cloud and laying itself across the ocean. A marvelous piece of driftwood in the foreground is captured in light and shadow. And here it was: my title materialized before my very eyes and come to me across the years.

Q: How have you approached marketing your book? Do you have someone doing it for you or have you had to do most of the marketing yourself?

I do not have a publicist and surely wish I did! My press has a wonderful marketing manager who has been very helpful in providing back up and much good advice. But mostly I’ve been on my own. The very first thing I did was to try and land book readings and signings at the big bookstores in my area. This was a long process. I also tried to coordinate newspaper book reviews with the timing of the readings. Also very difficult.

But this was effective I think because it got many people to the readings and also put the book out into the world. I also sent out book cards to everyone I’ve ever known or met. However, I have found all of this to be excruciatingly difficult. Right now, I’m just beginning the world of online book promotion. The bookstore readings were pretty emotionally exhausting, then of course very emotionally gratifying to hear people come up and tell me their own stories. I will be beginning an online book tour and I’m very excited to see how this goes. I have a book website, which people visit, and I have a Facebook account. I’ve not tried to use Twitter yet, and so right now I’m pretty much in a technological dark age. I await enlightenment!

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

The book that comes quickest to mind is Sue Miller’s The Story of My Father, which describes her journey as caretaker for her ailing father and his eventual death in a nursing home. It’s a wonderful book, and one I looked to for inspiration. Because every story is both universal and unique, my book feels quite different from hers. The narrative voice in my book is wry, often comic, and also lyrical in a different sense from hers. I think it is this sense of voice that makes my book unique. Such stories have achingly familiar plots and end in achingly familiar ways. Still, each longing and sorrow and loss is different from all others.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Page 54. This page now and no other. I’m taking my parents and uncle on a tour of a retirement community I’m hoping beyond hoping to get them to move into. They live across the state from me and I need them to be close by. They are resisting, of course, but trying to be open to it. A man named Howard is giving us the tour. He takes us to an apartment that is in the configuration the three of them need: a living room with a bedroom on each side—one for my parents and the other for my uncle, who will live with them. Howard knocks. A woman shouts “Come ih-un, it’s unlocked.” A woman so large she has literally melted into her wheelchair is sitting in the middle of what should be the living room, but is unidentifiable as it is. The gray carpet is ringed with huge, arcing black smudeges from her wheelchair.

The whole apartment has been turned into shelves. Shelves full of pills of all kinds, enormous bottles of vitamins and herbs and potions lining every wall. We peek into the bathroom. There is no bathtub anymore, no shower. Every square inch of wall space holds shelves full of giant bottles of pills. The apartment is a pharmaceutical warehouse. Howard vaguely points to the rooms that would have been bedrooms and bathrooms in an ordinary life, then stumbles out of the apartment as we trail behind.

It’s such a dark thing to see. A mind fallen in on itself. The batty old lady in the house condemned, or living with a thousand cats, or pulling a grocery cart of belongings down the street talking to herself–and here she is in apartment 426. The soul of old age, in all its appalling eccentricity and hypohonndria right there in the middle of the day. It’s so shocking there is no way to make it comic. Ah, the darker secrets—the smells and touch of them when we hunker down with our terrors and lost loves, and abandoned hopes, and watch how life bends us if it does not break us and remember how we thought it would never happen to us. I knew then my parents would never move. They would fall down and die and I wouldn’t be able to save them.

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

Information about my book and how to order it can be found on my website: annputnam.com which includes reviews and radio interviews and bio. My book can be ordered at any bookstore, through Amazon, and directly from the distributor at www.tamupress.com or by phone: 1-800-826-8911. I have a Facebook page also, as well as a website through my University: www.ups.edu/faculty/aputnam.html

Interview with David Charles, author of Think for Yourself

David Charles has been a professional construction manager involved with public school construction in the Southern California region. He has been active in the construction industry for over thirty years. His past writings include web based reporting, project progress documentation and classic business correspondence on all aspects of the public school construction progress for the projects under his jurisdiction. David is the author of the book; Think For Yourself - The Importance of Maintaining Individuality and Freedom of Thought, which discusses the significance of taking charge of your destiny and living life on your own terms. Links: (http://sites.google.com/site/dcbookstfy,
http://twitter.com/bukbuzz and www.dcbookstfy.tumblr.com.)

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, David. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Think For Yourself - The Importance of Maintaining Individuality and Freedom of Thought?

Writing is actually a large part of the responsibilities that go along with being involved in construction management. There is a considerable amount of project documentation, letter writing and progress reporting that are required. I had always been complimented on my writing, by my colleagues, and have even heard once or twice that I should consider writing professionally. My book project was something that had been in the planning and outline stages for quite some time. I received a little inspiration when I read something from a prominent businessman in New York. He said; “Twenty percent of your priorities will yield for you eighty percent of your productivity. If you have something important to do then get to it.” With that I finally decided that the timing was right to go ahead and complete the work.

Q: I love your title. Can you tell us why you chose it?

Originally this book’s title was going to be Its Your Life - Live It On Your Own Terms, but as I was reviewing the original table of contents I saw the title for one of the chapters was Think For Yourself. That title was better suited for the final project and the book became Think For Yourself - The Importance of Maintaining Individuality and Freedom of Thought. This is the first published book and the culmination of nearly a decade of outlining, planning and dreaming.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

I think this book is important now because so many of the covered topics seem to be taking a hit when it comes to freedom of choice. With so much propaganda on either side of a given issue, it is paramount that the individual stay involved in decision making process in order to make effective choices. It’s about why you should draw your own conclusions and the importance of self accountability in our daily lives.

Q: Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, CREATESPACE have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

The cover is actually my own design and I am very pleased with the results. I wanted it to resemble a caution sign so I chose the yellow background with the black color lettering. The font itself resembles ancient script with a modern twist, which I also felt was appropriate. The simplicity of design was also taken into account. The book is informative and I did not want the cover to be too flashy and diminish the value of the contents.

Q: How have you approached marketing your book? Do you have someone doing it for you or have you had to do most of the marketing yourself?

From every angle under the sun. I set up a webpage, a blog page, sent out review copies and contacted some online publicists. Press releases have also been sent out. It is a fair mix of self promotion and professional assistance when available.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

I am not sure if such a comparison would be accurate. I think this book stands on its own. It is a friendly reminder of why it is important to take charge of one’s own circumstances. It’s written from the perspective of an ordinary individual and is based on real life observations. There is not an abundance of technical or clinical language. It’s a down to earth look at key topics from everyday life that all of us can easily relate to.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Page 2, Preface

It is not the writer’s intent to provide the answers to any given question related to the topics discussed herein. It is more important to provoke thought, raise questions, and out of those questions generate appropriate action.

“Think for Yourself” encourages an individualized approach to the uniqueness of each and every life.

Individuals can still be a part of community. One does not have to be sacrificed for the other.
Not everyone who reads this book will have questions regarding these topics, but if one question on any topic is raised by any reader, and appropriate action is taken, then the writer will have done his job.

This is just a part of the writer’s overall message for this book.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I have a couple of possibilities in the works. I don’t mean to be vague; however I do want to keep the readers guessing just a little. One of the outlines that I am currently working on is about perception. There are a few other outlines in progress as well, and one of those may jump out ahead.

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

Here are a few links. The book can be purchased on Amazon.com and can be found with a title search. These links can also connect the reader to the point of purchase.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Announcing Claire Cook's 'Seven Year Switch' Book Giveaway!

Seven Year Switch 2Claire giveaway

Claire Cook, author of the just released women's fiction novel, Seven Year Switch, is offering a super giveaway for those lucky readers who are willing to post a review at Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook or Barnes & Noble! Here are her details:

Because I know it’s the power of my incredible readers spreading the word to your friends and family that will make this book take off, we’re going to have another giveaway!

All you have to do is read SEVEN YEAR SWITCH and post a nice review on Amazon (buy locally, review globally is my motto!) Goodreads or Facebook or Barnes & Noble or even your own blog, and email the link to the review to Claire @ ClaireCook.com. (Just make sure you put REVIEW in the subject line so I don’t think it’s spam.)

You can post the same review on as many sites as you want – in fact I hope you will! – and each one counts as another entry! The prize is pictured above: a beach bag filled with a complete autographed set of all seven of my novels – and a beach towel, of course!

If you already own signed copies of all my books, you can donate the whole thing to a fundraiser for your favorite charity or use them as birthday presents.

Thank you -- your support is what has made this midlife career of mine possible, and I appreciate it so very much.

-- Claire Cook

Visit Claire Cook's website at www.clairecook.com.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Interview with Sam Hilliard - Author of The Last Track

Born in Kansas City, MO, near the center of the United States, Sam Hilliard arrived during a very scary period of the 1970s. Since then he has lived on both coasts and quite a few places in between. Currently, Sam resides outside New York City with his girlfriend, and an army of four cats—one feline under the legal limit. His first book, The Last Track: A Mike Brody Novel, a mystery/thriller, released this Spring. When Sam’s not writing, he's the Director of IT at an all-girl boarding school where he observes world-class drama firsthand. It’s also the reason he studies Krav Maga and Tai Chi.

Website: http://www.samhilliard.com/wordpress

Twitter: http://twitter.com/samhilliard

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thelasttrack

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/user/buddhapussinkllc

Publisher’s site: http://www.buddhapussink.com

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

A: Thanks very much for having me on your site! When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, watching movies, studying martial arts, playing bass and complaining about the government. Before the age of thirteen I had lived on both coasts, and in the Midwest and Utah. Such frequent moves led me to suspect my parents were in the witness protection program. In fact, I probably just blew their cover. While I’ve been writing off and on for years, I did not pursue it seriously until 6 years ago.

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

A: The Last Track is the story of Mike Brody, a tracker who can tap into the memory and emotional state of those he pursues. More than just a master tracker, Mike is a former Special Forces operative, smoke jumper, and now extreme adventure tour guide. He is recruited to find a missing, asthmatic boy (and unwitting murder witness) in the rugged terrain surrounding a dude ranch in Montana where Mike and his family are vacationing. Fearful of capture, the boy has burrowed deep into the woods. As Mike tracks the boy, the killer pursues them both. Meanwhile, Mike’s ex-wife—a well-connected journalist—uses her contacts to unravel the killer’s identity. Her discoveries ensnare them all in a treacherous conspiracy.

Three days after my honeymoon, I was fired. This life-changing event happened during the second dot-com crash and before the present when-is-the-bad-news-going-to-end recession. Apparently the universe wanted to teach me the true meaning of that “for richer or poorer” vow right away. Suddenly, I had some free time on my hands. That’s when I began to write and how Mike Brody found his way onto the page.

I wrote The Last Track because I love the concept of someone who gets results when no else can; the person who sees what others overlook and never stops searching, no matter how long the odds.

What kind of research was involved in writing The Last Track?

A: Although the storyline and characters are the products of imagination, I did do a fair amount of research into police procedure and developed a healthy collaboration with an ever expanding network of experts. At present I have access to law enforcement personnel working at various levels inside the US and the Middle East, plus a Senior Officer in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, loosely the Canadian equivalent of the FBI. In addition, I recently picked up a source at NASA who will figure in a future book.

And the process continues. I’m always open to learning from people who are willing to share what they are allowed to about a given subject. They allow me to give the reader a glimpse of what it’s like on the inside.

At a certain point, though, the writer has to trust the imagination and let the story happen. Technical details can be sorted out later. So that’s why I lean on the experts for the gut checks. They can guffaw in private at my flubs and then let me know what needs fixing.

There are times however, when I will deliberately alter a detail to either suit the story or ease my conscience—regardless of what I really know about procedure. I am trying to tell the best story I can by leveraging access to privileged information in a way that makes the story more credible and engaging. I’m not writing a primer on how to frustrate police investigations.

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

A: If by smooth sailing, you mean did I spend two weeks writing a book that netted a half million dollar advance? Well, then no. By the way, that did happen for someone I once knew. All things are possible in the universe.

My story was a bit bumpier. Basically I invested a few years in writing the book, bouncing it off test readers and building up my sources and revising. I started shopping it only after I felt it was my best effort.

After nearly getting to the altar with an agent (figuratively, of course, I was still married at the time) I continued pitching the book for another year.

I’m a big believer in Randy Pausch and The Last Lecture, especially his point about obstacles that keep everyone else out but give you a chance to prove exactly how bad you want something. Well after 122 agents, I was staring at that wall. It was time to get creative and prove how bad I wanted it.

At the time, book trailers were drawing the buzz that author blogs and podcasts had before them. My idea was try to translate part of The Last Track into a live action trailer, burn it on a DVD and send it out with a writing sample and query letter. The other wrinkle? This time I went directly to publishers.

That did the trick.

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

A: Buddhapuss Ink (my publisher) runs a lean ship, so the turn-around was well under seven 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 think agents in the right circumstances serve an invaluable purpose; however, at this time I do not have one. I spent roughly three years contacting agents to no avail and got my book in print anyway.

I would welcome a film rights agent who could negotiate a movie deal on my behalf. They tend to move very quickly, have a great list of contacts and access to people who can write big checks. These are all beautiful things. In terms of brokering movie rights, film rights agents are worth every cent.

With literary agents I have a few basic concerns. First is their rate schedule which depends on a very old world assumption that authors can’t be trusted to read a contract, push back in a negotiation, and do the math. Agents net a percentage of the books earnings in perpetuity, which could be a considerable sum. Second, the way almost every literary agency contract works, the agent gets money directly from the publisher and then pays the author the remainder of the what was always the author’s money, after siphoning off fees and expenses.

This automatically places the author in a subservient relationship to their own agent. Look, I have an accountant. I really depend on him to do my taxes. This fact is undeniable. Every year he saves me time, money and aggravation. But he sends me an invoice right after he completes the work, and then I pay it. He doesn’t get all my earnings for a quarter, deduct his fee and then send me a check.

James Patterson terminated his relationship with his literary agent a few years ago. He’s got twelve titles that hit number one on the New York Times Bestseller List. I believe he knows what he’s doing, and if he does it without an agent, do authors really need them?

In the end, authors are answerable to their readers; they’re the customers; they pay the bills. Why add another layer between you and the client, especially one that charges you forever for the privilege?

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Absolutely. I plan on writing a lot more books. One is in the works now, the next chapter in the Mike Brody series and should be out in time for the Holiday season 2011, if I make my deadline that is.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: I will only write in one place, that’s at a desk deep enough to support my forearms from wrist to elbow, keeping them parallel to each other. Carpal tunnel syndrome has plagued far better writers than me, so I never cut this corner. Where that desk is actually located is less important, although I wouldn’t say no to a farmhouse in Maine.

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

A: I would do exactly what I’m doing now. Money doesn’t make sales, marketing does, and it costs as much as you want to spend.

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

A: The greatest idea in the world is only worth something when people know about it. Self-promotion never ends. One of the reasons I like my publisher is they spend the lion share of their efforts on promotion versus infrastructure. By running a modest-sized organization, they have more resources for marketing and are willing to spend when it makes sense to do so.

Online, I make the usual pit stops, goodreads, Facebook and twitter, plus my own site. Offline, I’ve been asked to present at some writing workshops. I don’t expect to sell too many books at these events, but it does get my name and face out there. I’ll also be at some book fairs this summer and fall, signing books in the Buddhapuss Ink booth (my publisher), as well as doing some store and library appearances. I’m also available to meet/speak with book groups, locally in person, or long-distance by speaker phone or Skype.

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

A: Writing means walking a path with no clearly marked sign posts. People are obsessed with looking for some proof that what they are doing is the right course of action. The problem with waiting for these indicators is they never appear when you want them to. Validation and reinforcement only come when you stop looking for them.

This is a very scary concept and one I fought for a long time. There were plenty of moments I thought about giving up. At one point, I spent several months modifying The Last Track based on feedback from an agent who liked it but felt the manuscript needed a little more work. They actually sent me a multi-page letter explaining what needed to be fixed. But after I made the changes and sent the manuscript back, they passed on the project anyway.

The thing is, almost all of those revisions are in the finished book. The suggestions truly did improve the story. So even if they didn’t give me what I wanted in that given situation, I still got closer to where I wanted to be.

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

A: Ask yourself if the manuscript is your best effort. If you truly believe it is, do whatever it takes to get the project out there. And keep trying. Get creative if necessary. The distance between where you are and where you want to be is measured by your willingness to prove you want it.

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

A: Thank you very much! I wish you the same.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

5 Things You Need to Know about Every Boat Turns South by J.P. White

Every Boat Turns South mixes memoir-like adventure with a moving coming-home tale. The book opens and closes in Florida, but its sultry and terror-filled center is set in the Turks & Caicos Islands and in the Dominican Republic. By interweaving the Florida bedside scenes with Matt’s confessional account of his wild life in the Caribbean, White subtly builds sympathy for his ne er-do-well drifter, as Matt slowly reveals the truth about Hale by coming to understand his own impulses and needs and by cherishing, through memory, all that his father had taught him. The writing in both sections forcefully lyrical and full of maritime detail (sailors will love this book) suggests an autobiographical prompt, but clearly the author is in command of a style that effectively serves his complex plot. The flashbacks pulse with sensuality, the take on island natives and tourists is nothing less than superb: The hotel swarms with interracial couples strung together like rosary beads . . . white women, pale as chalk, lean into black men like they ve found the Rosetta stone. White men pull at strings of mulatto women like taffy. Meringue and rum, greed and sex rule. Everything. Everyone. As one of the novel s shrewd and exotic characters says, we all have our weaknesses once we get to the islands.

J.P. White, author of Every Boat Turns South, is here with us today to tell us five things you need to know about his book that you may not realize.

Five Things You Need to Know about EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH
by J.P. White

1. EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL CRIME MYSTERY NOVEL. It's the story of Matt Younger, a 30-year-old delivery boat captain who returns to Amelia Island, Florida to make a confession to his dying father about his role in the death of the favorite son. In order to make that confession, Matt must travel back over his years in the Caribbean; he must recount how he met a Dominican woman whom he fell in love with, and he must come to terms with his own guilt or he believes he too will die.

2. EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH IS ENJOYED BY READERS OF BOTH SEXES. One woman reader has remarked that EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH is a cross between Ordinary People and Body Heat, and I can't argue with that description because I wanted to mix a family drama with a Caribbean noir with more than a splash of rum. I would have thought that, on balance, women would be drawn to the elements of family drama and men to the high seas, but mostly it's been split each way equally.

3. EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH IS A GREAT RIDE FOR ANYONE WHO HAS EVER LUSTED AFTER THE SAILING OR ISLAND LIFE. Only about half the couples who embark on the "booze, cruise and snooze" life in the islands find the adventure bliss they are seeking. The other half routinely find trouble and lots of it including theft, infidelity, drugs, divorce, and loss of boat. All sailors know that things go wrong on boats and they love to read about other people's misadventures instead of their own.

4. EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH WAS WRITTEN BY A POET. As the author of four books of poetry, I'm as drawn to charged language as I am to plot. A story needs to take me somewhere I can't quite imagine, but I also need, want and expect the language to delight and surprise and keep me off-balance. I love writers whose mysteries can be easily mistaken as rich literary fiction and this includes such authors as Arturo Perez-Reverte, Eric Ambler, Henning Mankell, Ron Rash, Graham Greene, P.D. James, and even the late great John D. MacDonald.

5. EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH IS BASED IN PART ON REAL SAILING EXPERIENCES IN THE ISLANDS. In the early 1980s, I spent time delivering boats on the Eastern Seaboard and to the Bahamas and upper Caribbean, so I'm always drawn to harbor towns and islands as magnets for hopes, dreams and human collision. In EVERY BOAT TURNS SOUTH, Matt Younger is hired to deliver a 40' trimaran from West Palm Beach to St Thomas in the British Virgin Islands. His own credentials are suspect, but then so is his cook, Jess Dove, a shrimper's daughter from Jacksonville, and Philip Laforgue, a former cruise boat dive instructor turned ace mechanic.

As a lifelong sailor and writer, I live with charts which are storehouses of information and intrigue and all of my prose writing starts with a chart laid out on a table. It's a nifty device because the chart itself provides the possibility of how a story might unfold. In my first novel, I include a much abbreviated chart at the front to show the reader the actual route of Stardust, Matt Younger's delivery boat.

The challenge, of course, for the writer is how to bring a chart to life. If the story is going to involve travel, you have to have either first-hand knowledge of the place in question or exceptional research you can rely on for ideas. Neither is easy to come by.

The chart itself as metaphor is an engaging device because nearly every ocean chart contains the elements of a potential story: reefs, dumping grounds, islands, shipwrecks, coves, cuts, enticements and dangers a plenty. In Florida and the islands, plots do not have to be invented, only discovered and finessed because intrigue and trouble is everywhere.

In the last 35 years, J.P. White has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews and poetry in over a hundred publications including The Nation, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Gettysburg Review, American Poetry Review, and Poetry (Chicago). He is a graduate of New College in Sarasota, Florida, Colorado State University and Vermont College in Fine Arts. He is the author of five books of poems and a novel, Every Boat Turns South. You can visit his website at www.jpwhite.net.