Friday, February 26, 2010

Interview with Ogo Ogbata, author of "Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman"




(Ọgọ (pronounced ‘or-gore?’) is a multi-talented writer, speaker and creative consultant. To find out more about her new novel, Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman, read juicy chapter excerpts and listen to her BBC Radio interview, please go to: http://www.elpwoman.com

Her blog is at: http://www.ogoogbata.com/blog)



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



A: All my life, it seems. I was scribbling sketchy poems and stories as early as age 4.




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



A: In commemoration of Black History Month and Nigeria's 50th anniversary from British colonial rule, my debut novel, Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman, chronicles the history of Nigeria from colonial 1950s up till the end of military dictatorship in 1999. However, not many people want to read a history textbook so what I've done is juxtaposed the evolution of the country with the story of a privileged young girl who metamorphosises into a woman of courage as mysterious circumstances befall her family.


This is a story of love, courage and honour set in Africa and London, England. The protagonist is a very strong, fully fleshed out, character who defies great odds in her life. As these are challenging times, not just for Nigeria but, for America, Britain and pretty much the rest of the world, I have written a novel that will hopefully inspire people to keep on walking no matter the odds.




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



A: Honestly, I had an exciting time writing this book - nothing was too much trouble for me to do and I finished the final draft in less than 6 months. The real major challenge was figuring out what to do with myself after the writing had come to an end! I miss inhabiting a world of such suspense and rich, intriguing, characters. However, the book marketing is keeping me quite busy these days.




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



A: I encourage members of the press to visit my website at: http://www.ogoogbata.com and subsribe via email for my press kit. It includes quality photographs, my biography, sample interview questions and other good stuff that makes life easier for all concerned.




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've read from my new novel, Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman, at the prestigious Southbank Centre in London as well as various public libraries and community centres in the UK. In November 2009 I spoke about the book and autographed copies at an event commemorating Chinua Achebe's iconic novel 'Things Fall Apart'. Several exciting launch events and interactive seminars will occur in 2010 especially as Nigeria (where some of the story is set) marks 50 years of Independence from British colonial rule on October 1st 2010.


The press has been kind to me as well. I've featured on a SKY TV channel and been interviewed several times by BBC Radio Northampton as well as the BBC World Service in London. I have also been asked to feature in a documentary of Nigeria after 50 years of Independence.




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 have had an agent however, while it's good to have a capable agent, some successful authors have also managed quite well without one. I guess it all depends on the author's goals, capabilities and confidence.




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



A: I'm hands on and proactive when it comes to projects I'm passionate about, so I did write and send out a press release before the book was released. I was interviewed by the BBC shortly afterwards too and chose to get out there and network with other publishing professionals at various literary events.




Q: Do you plan subsequent books?




A: Definitely. The best is yet to come, God willing.




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



A: Autographed copies of Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman are available at: http://www.elpwoman.com


Unautographed copies are also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other good bookstores.

Monday, February 22, 2010

How to Gain a www.YourName.com Web Presence in 15 Minutes by Marnie Swedberg

How to Gain a www.YourName.com Web Presence in 15 Minutes

by Marnie Swedberg, author of IDEA TO AMAZON IN 14 DAYS


Owning a unique URL (www.YourName.com) is almost as important as having a telephone number, but takes less effort to obtain. The Internet is being accessed by over 1.7 billion people, but domain names are a limited commodity. Capturing a good URL (www.YourName.com) is like striking gold. The sooner you dig, the more likely you’ll find some.

Choosing a quality, yet available website name is the hard part. It needs to be perfectly understandable whether you are saying it over the telephone, giving it during a media interview or fitting it onto a business card. It must be:
• simple
• logical
• unforgettable
• concise
• easy to pronounce
• hard to confuse
• complete without the need for a long description
• unique without the use of hyphens or dashes.

As you brainstorm ideas, repeat each one out loud: you will say it thousands of times during upcoming years. Ask yourself:
• Are any of the sounds difficult to say or understand?
• Do I get tongue-tied?
• Do I feel the urge to spell something out or explain anything?
• Is it the URL catchy?
• Is it memorable?
• Do I enjoy saying it? Does it make me feel good?

The acid test is the commercial test: If an announcer includes your URL at the end of a commercial, speaking at the speed of light, will people be able to understand it?

Ideally, your website name will build your brand. If the URL is available, buy one that includes your own:
• name (SharonMcKenzie.com)
• book title (SharonsQuiltPatterns.com)
• publishing company name (SharonsBooks.com)
• name plus a verb (SharonWrites.com)
• name plus an underscore (Sharon_McKenzie.com).

Continue to play around with names and ideas until you feel confident you’ve landed on a great URL.

It’s definitely worth the effort: just owning one enables you to add it to book jackets, handouts and other promotional materials.

As soon as you find a name that works, buy it. I use www.godaddy.com, but there are dozens of other options. An excellent article comparing 10 of the most popular website hosting companies is posted at www.webhostingchoice.com. These companies sell URLs and provide simple instructions to help you forward yours to any website page you prefer.

The beauty of web forwarding is that you can use any page as your landing page. For example, if you have an Amazon book promo page, that would be a great place to forward guests who type in www.YourBookName.com, and it’s really easy to accomplish. Other existing pages that provide forwarding potential include your personal blog or a social networking page.

Determine your best option and go for it; it is easy to change it later. As soon as you have your own website, apply a simple coding tweak that can be accomplished in 60-seconds and without additional charge.

To determine the actual address of the page to which you want your URL forwarded, open the page on your computer, highlight the long string of characters in address bar (beginning with http://) and copy it using the “Control + C” function on your keypad. Paste that coding (using Control + V) into the web wizard provided by the company that sold you the URL. It’s that easy.

The cost of your new website name can be less than that of a steak dinner, and it lasts a lot longer. When you happen onto a great name that is still available, buy it. If your ideal name is no longer available, you have two options: 1) choose a different name or 2) try to buy the name you really want. The first is fast. The second could be easy, or take as much as years and thousands of dollars to obtain.

Promoting your book without a website URL is practically unthinkable. Get yours today!

Marnie Swedberg is the author of eBooks: Idea to Amazon in 14 Days and ten other books and eBooks. She owns and manages a restaurant, retail store and espresso café, is the hostess of websites receiving over 5.7 million hits in 2009, and serves as a “mentor to mentors” from every continent and career path via her Leadership Development Club. Learn more about her at http://www.Marnie.com.

Click to visit WebsiteClick to visit blogClick to visit tour pageClick to purchase at Amazon

Friday, February 19, 2010

Navigating difficult paths sets tone for new anthology by Judi Moreo and friends

If you feel “stuck” in a situation that appears to be beyond your control, the stories in a new book compiled by Judi Moreo will show you how others have coped with crisis and uncertainty, made tough choices and positive changes in order to find deeper meaning and satisfaction in their relationships and learned to live with purpose every day. Rarely do we find a book that addresses so many different challenges.

Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths does this in a powerful and inspiring way. This book is about experiences, the people who lived them, and how they created successful lives. From values and self-fulfillment to legacy, this book offers new resources for people who have tough choices to make every day.

Filled with wisdom and love, this book is a soothing companion for readers in the Virginia Beach area or anyone searching for the courage to make a choice to change his or her circumstances. These authors and their stories prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that success belongs to everyone, no matter where they come from or what has happened to them. They are living proof that miracles can and do happen. You can be one of these people. You can navigate through difficult times and find your pathway to the life you choose to lead. Put the strength of others to work for you. Courage is not the absence of fear or pain. Courage is taking the steps to move through it.

Authors appearing in Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths include:

Aimmee Riley
Andrea Chestnut
Anne Abernathy
Anne Dreyer
Bob Walker
Charlotte Foust
Dan Roberts
Deborah Clark
Dr. Casey McNeal
Edie Raether
Elle Swan
Ginette Bedsaul
Jennifer Joseph
Jennifer Tarlin
Jesse Ferrell
Judi Moreo
Karen Phillips
Mary Monaghan
Nancy Todd
Rev. Cattel
Sandra Gore Nielsen
Sandy Kastel
Sherial Bratcher
Stephen Philpott
Susan Haller
Vickie Lane

Judi Moreo is the author of You Are More Than Enough: Every Woman’s Guide to Purpose, Passion, and Power, and it’s companion, Achievement Journal. She is also the co-author and compiler of Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths (Turning Point International).

Judi is an award-winning businesswoman and motivational speaker. Her superb talent for customizing programs to meet organizational needs has gained her a prestigious following around the world. Her passion for living an extraordinary life is mirrored in her zeal for helping others realize their potential and achieve their goals. With her dynamic personality and style, she is an unforgettable speaker, inspiring motivator, and an exceptional life coach.

If you would like to find out more about the woman behind Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths, visit www.judimoreo.com. If you would like to find out more about the book, visit www.lifechoicesbook.com.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri l Q&A + Blog Tour + Giveaway

Vincent Zandri is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called "Brilliant" upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Presently he is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT). He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. A traveler and adventurer, Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.

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

I was born and raised in Albany, New York, and educated in private schools. I did my undergraduate at Providence College and writing school at Vermont College. Originally I was groomed to become an executive in my dad’s construction business. But I was more interested in becoming a punk rock drummer! Of course, that all changed 20 years ago when I decided to become a writer. It seemed like a good way to see the world and get paid for it.


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

Moonlight Falls is basically film noir on paper. It’s about Richard “Dick” Moonlight, suicide survivor who now must cope with a small piece of .22 caliber bullet lodged in his brain. Because it’s pressed up against his cerebral cortex he has trouble making good decisions and he suffers on occasion from short-term memory loss. In times of stress he passes out. He could suffer a major stroke or die at any moment. So time means little to him. When he makes the wrong decision to sleep with his former boss’s wife and she later turns up brutally murdered, he believes it’s possible he might have killed her and just can’t remember it.

I believe I was down in Manhattan promoting As Catch Can with my then Delacorte editor, Jacob Hoye (now MTV Books), when I came across a story about a man who survived a suicide attempt and lived with a piece of bullet shrapnel still stuck in his brain. At the time I was also influenced by a self-stabbing suicide art exhibit that I caught in a Soho gallery by the artist infamous artist Damien Hirst. I’ve also been fascinated with a rarely spoken about story from my family history in which my paternal grandfather committed suicide by slicing his neck open with a straight razor in front of his grown children. What kind of psychotic desperation moves a man to perform such an act?

What kind of research was involved in writing Moonlight Falls?

Mostly web-based research concerning neurological conditions either similar to or resembling Moonlight’s bullet-in-the-brain issue. Some of the material was taken from my own life. I consulted with my own physician regarding suicide by self-stabbing.


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

Bumpy isn’t quite the word for it. More like manic. I’d always been lucky with publishing short stories, journalism and nonfiction pieces. But it was a hand-to-mouth existence and with two little kids still in short pants, my then wife couldn’t help but wonder when I was going to give up the “fantasy” of being a published novelist and get “real work.” But then I nail a mid-six-figure contract right out of the MFA school gate and that changes everything. I think I had something like three-thousand bucks to my name and unbelievable debt and suddenly I’m cashing checks that make bank tellers lose their breath. It’s a big ego boost and suddenly everyone who used to role their eyes at said “fantasy” is suddenly my best friend. I’m getting movie interest from guys like Spielberg, Hoffman and Clooney, and I’m in NYC partying like a rock star. But then my publisher gets taken over by another, suddenly I’m more or less shown the door. It was back to square one. Moonlight is being published by a small, family-run press. The experience isn’t all about money this time and hands down, it’s the by far the most fulfilling and just plain rewarding publishing experience I’ve ever had. Most small presses are willing to take a financial hit on what they put out simply because the love the writing and feel an almost religious obligation to see it in print. It’s about putting out a beautiful book and making it available to all who want to read it. I’m not making nearly the same money as I used to, but I’m making a living as journalist and novelist and that’s all any writer can ask.

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

Contracts were signed in March, 2009 (I think). The book was released in December, 2009.


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

My agent is the terrifically talent Janet Benrey of Benrey Literary Agency.
Janet is British so everything she speaks about takes on an air of importance. LOL. While some small and indy presses allow an author to submit unagented, it’s definitely necessary to hire a reputable one. That is, you ever hope to be published commercially.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I’ve just completed a novel called The Remains, about a woman who receives strange text messages from a man who abducted she and her twin sister back when they were kids. For decades she’s believed he died in prison. But now, 30 years later, she realizes her past has not only come back to haunt her, it’s come back to kill her. I’ve also completed the first in a new detective series about a woman named Spike, who’s inherited a commercial construction business and who wields a framing hammer like some detectives carry a pistol. When one of her still-occupied elementary school renovation jobs becomes contaminated with a major asbestos leak, and the man responsible for the asbestos removal goes missing, Spike goes searching for him. But what she uncovers is a plot of greed, deception, lust and murder. Spike is a cool, sexy, tough, character. She also knows how to drive a bulldozer! You can’t say that about every woman you come across!


Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

Twice a year I rent a small apartment in a five floor walk-up in Florence, Italy. The place overlooks a former convent and the Tuscan hills in the distance. I can work all day without interruption, and often file stories and blogs for RT (Russia Today TV) in order to keep a cash flow going. In the mornings I run along the banks of the Arno and into the park. In the afternoons I walk the streets of Florence. In the evenings I grab a drink and some dinner at a trattoria. Then do it all over again the next day. I’ve also written on a hospital ship docked off the coast of Benin, Africa; and from out of hotel in Moscow; and while sitting on a cliff-side patio on the Greek Island of Santorini; and while drinking coffee in Paris café; and even from inside a prison cell in Sing Sing Prison while researching my novel As Catch Can. So what’s the best place to write? It’s all good.

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

A network television station.


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

I’ve worked with publicists from the big publishers, spent a fortune on slick New York City publicists, worked with smaller publicists from my hometown and all of them have been very good at their jobs. However, no writer is going to “move units,” as they say, unless they take a personal interest in promoting their product. Besides actively keeping up with the social FaceBook and Twitter networks, I’ve hired both a traditional publicist and a virtual publicist. I also write and publish numerous articles and professional blogs for global publications like RT (Russia Today TV) and Globalspec.com every month. I maintain a personal blog too, The Vincent Zandri Vox. All things considered, the word is definitely getting out there.


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

An MFA writing teacher of mine once told me that this is a business of three steps forward, four steps back. I’ve never forgotten that. If you have the talent and can persevere, you will have success in some form. That takes discipline and writing everyday, day in and day out no matter what is happening in your life, be it sick kids, a bad marriage, or even Christmas day. People who can’t take the constant rejection or feel that their writing isn’t improving or can’t commit themselves to a rigorous schedule will often quit immediately after writing school. It’s just not worth the pain. I’ve never considered giving up. Not even for a moment. It would be easier to give up breathing. The drive comes from something inside that’s much more powerful than a publishing conglomeration or slick lit agency.


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

Write and read like crazy. And just when you think you’ve had enough, do it some more. Polish your work and try and get it into the hands of the best agents in the business. Don’t worry about being timely. Just worry about being good. The rest will take care of itself.


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

Thanks for having me.


We're having a giveaway! Leave a comment or a question for Vincent between now and February 19 and you could be the winner of an autographed copy of Vincent's new book, Moonlight Falls! Or simply write "I love Moonlight Falls!" in the comment section!

Only those leaving email addresses with their comment or question qualifies.

The winner will be announced on February 22.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Book Excerpt: Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri

Moonlight Falls
by Vincent Zandri

Book Excerpt:

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.

--Excerpt from Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri. If you'd like to find out more about Moonlight Falls, visit the author's website at www.vincentzandri.com or his blog at www.vincentzandri.blogspot.com. During the months of February and March, Victor will be on virtual book tour. If you'd like to find out where he'll be touring, visit here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2 Books + 1 T-Shirt Giveaway Today at Pump Up Your Book!

We've got three giveaways going on at Pump Up Your Book today!

Kaylin McFarren, author of the women's fiction novel, Flaherty's Crossing, will be giving away a t-shirt at Pump Up Your Book

Judi Moreo will be giving away a copy of her book, Life Choices, at Examiner

Misa Ramirez will be giving away a copy of her book, Hasta la Vista, Lola!, at Jen's Book Talk

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Interview with Maria Andrade, author of HEART MAGIC: KEEPING LOVE ALIVE & WELL

Maria J. Andrade, M.F.T., is a licensed therapist author and poet. Her eco-social book for children, Youngen Finds Her Song, was published last year. She is founder of the “Heart Magic” workshops based on her book Heart Magic, Keeping Love Alive & Well. This book focuses on important “Select Principles and Do’s and Don’ts” for sustaining a loving and lasting partnership. She lives in California and has a private counseling practice with her husband Sy Cohn. You can visit her website at www.magicunion.com, or on Twitter-birdchat or Facebook – see Maria J. Andrade.

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

I was born in the middle of the earth, in Ecuador and raised in the US. I started writing poetry and plays as a youngster, got a degree in English literature and later in Counseling Psychology and then got licensed as a therapist. I wrote a book of poetry in the late 90s, Singing My Self Home, which is about dreams, transformation, love and the shadow. This Valentine’s Day Virtual Book Tour I am on this month focuses on my book, Heart Magic, Keeping Love Alive & Well.


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

This is a small, dynamo book which shows you how to succeed in having a lasting, healthy, happy and loving relationship.


What kind of research was involved in writing, Heart Magic,Keeping Love Alive & Well?

I have been a Marriage, Family Therapist for 25 years so I had research in regards what makes people stay together or break up. I also had a substantial amount of experience in what characteristics are found in happy marriages, which I let readers know about in my book in the “ 8 Select Principles”. After more than two decades of working with couples I describe the positive and negative habits of communication, which build or destroy love. These are the “Dos and Don’ts” of relating in my book.

I also include true case histories based on my work with so many couples. Of course the names of people are changed to protect their privacy.


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

I think it has been rather smooth over all. I tend to be a blithe spirit.


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

It was a matter of a few months. I have good distributors.


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

I have not used an agent in the past and may consider one for the novel I recently finished because of the genre. It is based on a true story and it regards an epic drama of love, passion, betrayal, loss of fortune and redemption in the life of three close friends.


Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I have three children’s books, two are written in poetry which I would like to see published and a science fiction novelette. I also have a comedy play half finished.


Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

I write either in my cottage which looks out to trees or in my vegetable garden.


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

I would have an animation film made out the eco-social book for children that was released last year, Youngen Finds Her Song, because not only kids but adults would get so much out of that adventure about a small bird that does not at first believe in herself then finds out the beauty and majesty of the world around her. She finds her own uniqueness in the process and the love that binds all life.

It is a story about the importance of self-respect, compassion, laughter and hope and I think we need these qualities now more than ever, as we deal with the big global issues confronting the human species right now!


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

I think it is very important. I am a mom and grandmother. Part of my job is to help my children and grandchildren find a place for themselves in the world. I think an artist has the same obligation with his or her work. If you create something it has to get a life and you need to get the word out!


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

Is that a fact, new writers give up their dream? I hope not. If you love
something, never give it up, especially if you are young. I am as old as dirt and I keep plugging so you young ones out there – keep that pen and imagination moving!


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

Don’t give up, I said! Think of leaving a body of work that you can be proud of and get it into print one way or another. The publishing field has been split wide open and technology has allowed us to communicate on a larger and faster pace with the whole world. You never know what impact you might have on a reader who happens to pick up your words. Believe in yourself!


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

You’re very kind. Thank you! It has been my pleasure. Let’s do it again soon.


Maria is on virtual book tour this month. If you would like to visit her official tour page, click here!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Special Guest: Kay Strom, author of The Second-Half Adventure talks boomer power!

We have a special guest today! Kay Strom, author of the baby boomer book, The Second-Half Adventure: Don't Just Retire - Use Your Time, Skills & Resources to Change the World, is here with us today to talk about boomer power!

Boomer Power!
by Kay Marshall Strom

Inside every baby boomer zipping toward senior-dom is a thirty-five year old asking, “Hey, what happened?”

Life, that’s what.

We—who vowed to stay forever young, who promised never to trust anyone over thirty—are actually talking about retirement. Thing is, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way. And now, just as we’ve really become good at so many things, society suggests we hang up our useful lives.

Shows how little society understands boomers, doesn’t it?

For years I taught a class to really senior people (think 80s and 90s) called “Writing Your Life Story.” I always started a term with my micro-biography assignment: In 100 worlds or less, write the significance of your life. It was fascinating to see what people looking back at a lifetime of memories considered worthy of their one hundred words. Most of the men described the jobs they had held. Many of the women used their words to talk about their children.

I always smiled kindly and said, “This is all so interesting.” But then I handed the papers back and urged a rewrite. “I want you to tell me about you!” I said.

Most of my senior students seemed genuinely stymied. One time a woman wrote exactly one hundred words describing every one of her perceived faults and shortcomings, including the secretarial course she started in her twenties and never finished. Imagine vexing over that for more than half a century!

Then there was the dapper white-haired gentleman in his eighties, always jauntily dressed in a sport jacket and wool Scottish plaid tie. Charles was his name. He began his micro-biography this way: “At the age of sixty I got a retirement watch from the railroad and went to work as a free repairman for anybody who needed my help. That was when I became a person of significance.”

A wise man, that Charles! He is right, of course. Significance is not about success; it’s about consequence. It’s not what pads the checkbook; it’s what gives meaning to life.

Baby boomers have always stood out in their passion to change the world. That passion hasn’t changed; it has simply matured. Now, in their clear-eyed seasoned years, they are more determination than ever to give back, for they are realizing that significance truly is found beyond themselves and their own lives.

Many of us boomers are likely to live into our eighties or nineties. More than a few of us will blow out a hundred birthday candles. Yet, our days are numbered. And no one can reclaim the past. That’s why now is the time to rethink values and reset goals so that we will have a legacy of significance to leave to those coming along behind.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Never in their lives have baby boomers been willing to stay silent about things that matter to them. Why should they start doing do in their second half?

We have only just begun to show the power of our second half!

Kay Marshall Strom is the author of thirty-six published books, including her most recent, The Second-Half Adventure: Don’t Just Retire-Use Your Time, Skills & Resources to Change the World. Her writing credits also include magazine articles, short stories, prize-winning screenplays, booklets for writers, and anything else that will help make the house payments. Kay is an in-demand speaker at events throughout the country. She and her husband Dan Kline love to travel, so Kay encourages writing and speaking assignments in far- flung corners of the globe. To find out more about Kay, or for contact information, check her website at www.kaystrom.com.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Interview with Gary Morgenstein, author of How to Find a Woman...Or Not

Gary Morgenstein’s novels include Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, about a divorced man who falls in love with a beautiful woman rabbi; Jesse’s Girl, a powerful story about a father’s search for his adopted teenage son, and Take Me Out to the Ballgame, a political baseball thriller, as well as the baseball Rocky The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees. His prophetic play Ponzi Man played to sell-out crowds at the New York Fringe Festival. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, surrounded by lots of books and rock and roll CDs.

Gary is here to talk about his newest release, How to Find a Woman...Or Not.

Thank you for this interview, Gary. Can we begin by having you tell us why you chose to write about relationships?

I want to help guys find a woman to share their life with. That’s what this book is about. For guys, whether you’re 25 or 55, who want to find a woman. For women, because if we don’t have a dialogue into what we really think and want, we will never reach each other. To share my crazy and funny and painful experiences and to give you dos and don’ts and why nots. Guiding and shaping your romantic pursuits aided by “spinning” techniques I developed through my years as a public relations executive.

From online dating to public transportation, the myth of metrosexuality, the mystery of younger women, grooming/clothes/smelling right, good and bad convos, what did they actually mean when they said that and why talking on the phone after a first date is a bad idea, hitting on girls walking their dogs, airport lounges, yoga class, alienating helpful friends, risking job security over a pair of pretty brown eyes, I will help you find someone to share a movie and take away on a Saturday night.

Or your life.


Q. Did you outline before you wrote your book or just went with the flow?

I try to be organized, but I find that the writing becomes my outline as I see what I have to work with. Chaptering helped focus me, too.

Q. What kind of research did you do before putting this book together?

Like two million dates, how’s that, lol? In addition to my own experiences, I also used those of friends, men and women, and talked to lots and lots of people about what makes them want someone, what they find attractive, what turns them off.


Q. What was the hardest part to write?

Besides that evil blank page, you mean? For me, it was just how much of myself to reveal in what was an unfamiliar platform – non-fiction. I’ve published four novels, including a romantic triangle, Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, about a divorced man who falls for a beautiful woman rabbi. When you write fiction, you can hide behind your characters. Here, sharing all my dating experiences, I was in my literary boxer shorts, so to speak. How much to write, how much to say? How much of Gary?

Q. What message are you trying to get across to your readers with this book?

That yes, finding love is awfully hard. Two perfect strangers from different backgrounds and then you want to live together and decide on drapes? Does that make sense? Along with all the impediments of the emotional baggage we accumulate? But I wanted to convey that it is possible and important to believe in love, because it keeps you young. And when it comes, it is wonderful. What is better than knowing someone loves you and cares about you and is there for you?


Q. Do you plan on writing more relationship books?

I’d love to. I really feel like I have something positive to offer. If people say yes by buying the book, then I’m definitely onto Volume 2!

Q. Thank you for this interview, Gary. Can you tell us where we can find out more about you and your wonderful new book, How to Find a Woman…Or Not?

Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, among other places.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Interview with Chris Wardle - Author of The Lighthouse of Mr. Tinfish

Chris Wardle holds a bachelor’s degree in physical geography as well as a Master’s degree for water supply in developing countries from Cranfield University in the UK. Over the last ten years Chris has travelled extensively in developing countries, working on charity projects in poor communities. He has been able to draw on his numerous experiences to inspire his creative works, particularly living for long periods in communities with different cultures in Africa and Asia. An orphaned kitten in Northern Uganda was the inspiration for Mr. Choli’s character in the Tinfish series. He now lives in the UK with Chris’s family (via a few months with a foster family in France to organize his European passport). www.mrtinfish.moonfruit.com


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

A: I discovered my passion for creative writing whilst living in a small village in Cameroon in 1999. It was my first oversees posting and I was a lone volunteer managing the construction of a water supply project. There was no television, telephone, or indeed electricity for that matter. I had been writing a lot of letters home about my experiences and found that I really enjoyed putting pen to paper. As a result I decided to write a short story about the pop band that I had played in at college.

I wrote it on scraps of paper, and found myself cutting out paragraphs from different pages and sticking them to the sides of others with duct-tape. The resulting collage of scribbling needed instructions to navigate. After discovering the pleasures of this creative process I went on to write longer stories about my adventures in Cameroon, and the subsequent places I’ve worked in over the past ten years. A lot of my travels have since influenced the characters and adventures that I write about in The lighthouse of Mr. Tinfish as well as the rest of the Mr. Tinfish Series.


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

A: The lighthouse of Mr. Tinfish is the first in a series of children's books which follows the humorous adventures of Mr. Tinfish the penguin and his friends as they try to cope with the impact of climatic change in their community. A sudden rise in the sea level is just the start of the problems that the ever-changing climate will bring. Luckily for Mr. Tinfish, the other animals and birds all try to support each other, and Mr. Vinegar the walrus organizes the first of many expeditions led by Mr. Choli the cat to help the colony adapt to the changing conditions.

The initial idea for the Mr. Tinfish series came from the invention of two characters called Mr. Tinfish and Mrs. Cat-biscuit (who were based on what I was trying to get my very fussy cat to eat at the time in order to wean it off roast chicken – unsuccessfully I might add). When my wife asked me what Mr. Tinfish and Mrs. Cat-biscuit did, I told her that they would have exciting adventures and live in a lighthouse. I then faced the challenge of developing this idea into a gripping story, which took considerably longer. However, the concept gradually fell into place, and it inevitably ended up as a humorous children’s book. In the process, Mr. Choli the eccentric and slight difficult cat also joined the cast.


What kind of research was involved in writing The lighthouse of Mr. Tinfish?

A: The theme for all of the stories is related to climatic or environmental change. These are topics I studies in depth whilst doing my first degree and so I had a good background knowledge. I searched out additional information if needed on the net. However, as the books are in no way trying to be an academic commentary, extensive digging in to the most up to date scientific research in the field was not particularly necessary.


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

A: I have self-published with Lulu.com and have been very impressed with the service they provide.


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

A: The joy of self-publishing on-line is that once the book is created it’s available immediately. This makes it a very satisfying process. The challenge then, of course, is to try and market it, so that it’s not just your mum who buys a copy.


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 am currently on a Virtual Book Tour with ‘Pump up your Book’ who provide the on-line marketing part of the agent’s role. I am aware that I have no real marketing skills, and I think that for someone to market themselves is particularly challenging, and it is difficult to be objective. Therefore, it is necessary to get the right help when it is needed.


Do you plan subsequent books?

A: The lighthouse of Mr. Tinfish is the first in a series of four books. The first two are now available through Lulu.com and the subsequent books will be made available in due course. The series may expand further depending on what inspiration comes my way. I am currently toying with the idea of a prequel series which explores the adventures that took place to bring all of the characters together in the first place.


Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: Anywhere quiet! I currently live in a street in Phnom Penh where the people opposite have been constantly grinding tiles to cover their apartment floor for more than three months now. How they have anything remaining in there but dust at this point is beyond me. However, as a result of permanent grinding, our apartment is not the most conducive place for working. A number of rural places where I’ve worked have had limited or no electricity and little traffic, which provided a very peaceful environment for being creative in my spare time.


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

A: A few years ago I travelled up the coast in Queensland, Australia. Along the coast, north of Brisbane, is the ‘Big Pineapple’ which is a giant plastic pineapple and pineapple farm, with a small theme park based on pineapples. As I continued my travels northwards I passed the Big Mango, and a Big Peanut wearing a hat. My wife and I eventually plan to settle in Queensland, so the obvious promotion for us would be a ‘Big Mr. Tinfish’.

Essentially this would be the world’s biggest plastic penguin with a theme park at the back. Rides would relate to his adventures, and the restaurant’s menu would be based on the culinary skills of Mr. Ginger (one of the characters). His cooking becomes a feature in later books and extends to ‘Mackerel Supreme a l’Orange’ and ‘Griddled Mackerel with a lightly peppered rhubarb and orange sauce’, none of which he as the right ingredients for.

Just how popular this would be amongst the diners remains to be seen, but I could imagine myself being greatly entertained by setting it up. Almost as much as writing the book in the first place.


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

A: Self promotion is vital to get noticed. It’s something I struggle with a little as I am not particularly extrovert. However, if I want my books to be read then self promotion is the way forward.

I am taking part in a ‘Pump up your book’ promotion virtual tour which is due to start in February. The aim is to give the Mr. Tinfish books greater exposure to a more targeted audience. In addition I have developed a website which introduces the Mr. Tinfish series and provides the first chapter of each of the books for potential customers to browse through. Lulu.com has made the book available on ‘eBay’ and ‘Amazon’, as well as on their own site.


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

A: I am very lucky as I write largely for my own enjoyment. For example, I’ve been writing a book about my travels for the last ten years for my own interest, with no plans to publish in that time. Also, once I have a creative idea inside me then I have to get it out, whether it’s book I’m writing, music I’m composing, or a drawing. It can be quite difficult to concentrate of other things until I’ve got it out of my system. These two factors mean that I’ve never felt I should give up being creative. I am personally entertained by my creative process and this is the priority. If others enjoy it as well then it is a fantastic bonus.


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

A: I am a new author myself, who has self-published on-line. However, I have learned a lot from being part of a virtual book tour. It is very clear that to get a book promoted, having it on eBay is not enough, I need help from marketing professionals to give it targeted exposure, and I’m sure this must be the case for most people entering the publishing world.


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

A: Thank you for your questions. The self-reflection is quite a therapeutic process!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Interview with Misa Ramirez, author of Hasta la Vista, Lola!

Misa Ramirez is the author of the Lola Cruz mystery series: Living the Vida Lola (January ’09) and Hasta la Vista, Lola! (2010) from St. Martin’s Minotaur. A former middle and high school teacher, and current CEO and CFO for La Familia Ramirez, this blonde-haired, green-eyed, proud to be Latina-by-Marriage girl loves following Lola on her many adventures. Whether it’s contemplating belly button piercings or visiting nudist resorts, she’s always up for the challenge. Misa is hard at work on a new women’s fiction novel, is published in Woman’s World Magazine and Romance Writers Report, and has a children’s book published. You can visit her website at www.misaramirez.com.

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

First let me start by saying that I’m so happy to be here with The Writer’s Life. Thanks for having me!

Okay, onto the question. I one of those Jill-of-all-trades. I write, read, sew, quilt, craft, mother, cook, fix things, hostess, teach and SO much more. I’m a busy person, but my love is definitely writing. Our family moved from California to Texas about a year and a half ago which afforded me the opportunity to stop teaching and write full time. I thoroughly enjoy going to work each morning (which lately means grabbing my coffee and braving the 20 degree weather as I walk across the backyard to the office).

I’ve been writing seriously for about seven years now. I have a children’s book which was published years ago (out of print, alas), and I write stories and articles (most recently an article about writing a killer marketing plan for Romance Writers Report, January 2010).

Living the Vida Lola, the first Lola Cruz Mystery (St. Martin’s Minotaur) was released last January, but it was five years in the making. When I started, I had a new baby (and four other kids), started teaching again, and squeezed writing in whenever I could. Now, as I said, I’m fortunate to be able to write full time and I couldn’t be happier. Hasta la Vista, Lola!, the second Lola Cruz Mystery, will be released on February 2, 2010. I’m so proud of this book, and thrilled to be doing what I love.

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

The Lola Cruz Mystery Series is very character driven. Dolores (Lola for short) Cruz came to me and she wouldn’t leave me alone. I had to write about her, and I did. Slowly, she developed. Then came her family. Finally, I developed a plot, and Voila!, the series was born.

Lola really speaks to me on many levels. She’s Latina, which I am not, and I love how her culture is infused in her life, despite the fact that she is American. I’ve been married for 19 years now, and my husband is Mexican-American. We have 5 children. We work hard to make sure our children embody, understand, and respect the Mexican culture that is part of them. When I think of Lola, I think of my husband and children and how they balance their culture with being American. It’s a beautiful culture that I really wanted to represent through Lola and her family, friends, and coworkers. It’s a culture I’m very proud to be part of through my husband and my children.

Hasta la Vista, Lola! is the second book in the series and deals with one of the most prevalent crimes in America: identity theft. The themes in the book have serious undertones, but the book itself is light and funny, romantic and quirky.


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

I think the biggest challenge in writing this series is to always show respect to the Mexican culture, and to represent Lola and her family authentically. I never want to create stereotypes, and so I work very hard to develop each character as an individual rather than a bit player.


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?

My press kit is available on my web site at the following links:

http://misaramirez.com/press-kit/
http://misaramirez.com/press-kit/questions-and-answers/
http://misaramirez.com/press-kit/buzz-and-reviews/

My press kit includes reviews, black and white and color author photo, bio, and a Q&A.


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?

I have many events coming up, as well as things I’ve already participated in. In October, I was part of the International Book Fair with the Dallas Public Libraries.

I will be doing author events with the Houston Public Library and the Fort Worth Public Library in February. I’m also presenting workshops at DFW Writers Conference in April, and Highland Park Literary Festival in February.

An online radio interview is scheduled for February 22nd with Introducing Writers!, a radio show with Kim Smith at www.blogtalkradio.com. There are plans for interviews with both the Dallas Morning News and the Denton Record Chronicle, and hopefully other radio spots will be scheduled soon. As for television, I’ve not gone there yet, but maybe soon!


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?

My fantastic agent is Holly Root from Waxman Literary Agency. She is really a joy to work with, is so smart and savvy about the publishing industry, and I’m thrilled to be one of her clients.


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?

St. Martin’s/Minotaur Books has provided a publicist for me to work with for each book. They’ve sent out massive numbers of ARCs, as well as review copies (when the ARCs ran out!). My current publicist is doing everything she can to generate buzz about Hasta la Vista, Lola!, including working on those coveted radio and TV spots.


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Absolutely! Book three in the series is Bare Naked Lola (nudist resort, anyone?!). I’m not under contract with it yet, but we’ll get there.

I’ve also developed a middle grade series for girls called Quiz Girl. It’s being shopped now. And at the moment I’m working on a women’s fiction novel with magical realism elements. It’s challenging, a big change from the Lola Cruz Mysteries, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

My first love will always be Lola, though, and I hope the series continues for a long time to come.


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

Of course! Thanks so much for having me. I can be found all over the web. My books are most readily available through online booksellers (though many stores have them in stock--you can always request them!).

Check for Living the Vida Lola and Hasta la Vista, Lola! at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite independent bookseller.

Look for me at my web site: http://misaramirez.com

My other online home is Chasing Heroes. It’s a fantastic site that centers on heroes, archetypes, and is for readers and writers alike.

My twitter address is http://twitter.com/misaramirez and http://twitter.com/chasingheroes

Facebook: http://facebook.com/misaramirez and a fanpage for Lola at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lola-Cruz-Mystery-Series/

Interview with Carla Buckley, Author of the Apocalyptic Novel, The Things That Keep Us Here


Carla Buckley is the debut author of The Things That Keep Us Here(Delacorte Press, February 2010.) She was born in Washington, D.C., attended Oberlin College and The Wharton School for Business, and has worked in a variety of jobs, including a stint as an assistant press secretary for a U.S. senator, an analyst with the Smithsonian Institution, and a technical writer for a defense contractor. Orion in the UK and Wunderlich in Germany pre-empted rights to The Things That Keep Us Here and Buckley's next book, and Random House has purchased audio rights. Delacorte Press will publish Buckley's next novel in 2011. Buckley is the Chair of the International Thriller Writers Debut Program and currently lives in Ohio with her husband and children.

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

Answer: An art and English major in college, and a business major in graduate school, I’ve dabbled in a number of fields, but my secret love has always been writing. Fifteen years ago, I decided to step off the corporate ladder and stay home to raise my children. That’s when I began writing full-time. I joined writers groups, attended conferences, found an agent, and wrote seven novels. The Things That Keep Us Here is my eighth novel and the only one that is not a traditional mystery.

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

Answer: Around ten years ago, I picked up a copy of Gina Kolata’s The Flu, a non-fiction book about the Great Pandemic. At that time, I knew nothing about the flu or the devastation it had waged worldwide, and Kolata’s book left a deep impression. Fast forward to 2007, when scientists and world health organizations began sounding the alarm that mankind was overdue for another pandemic, and my imagination went into overdrive. My husband is a scientist, and I knew that despite the major leaps science had taken in understanding the virus, mankind was almost as vulnerable now as it had been in 1918.

We had just moved to Ohio, where we knew no one, and I began to worry about how I could protect my children should the worst happen. One night, I had a nightmare that we were in a pandemic and I was forced to make a terrible decision. The next day, I began writing The Things That Keep Us Here, and that terrible decision became the linchpin of the novel.

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

Answer: The Things That Keep Us Here is not science fiction; it is based on real science. As a non-scientist writing about science, I had to gain a basic understanding of the influenza virus, how it mutates and spreads, and how scientists track it in the field and in the laboratory. I interviewed veterinary research scientists at The Ohio State University who shared with me their insights and concerns about avian influenza. Beyond the science, I wanted to depict an accurate portrayal of how a community could and would react as a pandemic spread. To that end, I interviewed preparedness planning officials to learn how governments and industries were working toward limiting the spread of infection and managing shortages, both in inventory and manpower. In addition, I read countless books and reports, and monitored the WHO and PandemicFlu websites.



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: My author photo and book cover are available for download on my website. I also have a Q&A posted. Any additional materials may be requested through my publicist, whose contact information is listed on my website.

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: Last spring, I appeared on a panel in Washington, DC with other authors. My publicist is currently arranging media interviews, and book clubs can contact me through the Random House website. This spring and summer, I plan to speak on panels at various writers’ conferences, and will be touring the Mid-Atlantic and Texas regions.

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: I am represented by Pamela Ahearn, of the Ahearn Literary Agency, and have been for over ten years. Pam has been instrumental in helping me find my voice, and guiding me through the publishing process. I consider myself very fortunate to have her working tirelessly on my behalf, and I should send her far more chocolates and thank-you notes than I do.

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: The in-house enthusiasm for my novel has been extraordinary. In October, Random House began sending out advance reading copies to book and social networking websites, and I’ve been deeply touched by the mail from readers that I’ve been receiving as a result. In February, Random House will be advertising and publicizing my novel on a national level, and I will be sent on a blog tour. My UK publisher, Orion, has also been reaching out to readers on a widespread basis, and things are beginning to ramp up in Germany where Wunderlich will release The Things That Keep Us Here in May.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Answer: Absolutely! My next novel follows in the same vein as The Things That Keep Us Here by focusing on a real, global threat shown from the perspective of the non-scientist. In it, a woman, long estranged from her hometown and her family, returns to find her sister dead and others sick from the same disease. Although I don't want to reveal the source of the illness, I will say it's based on a terrifying phenomenon that few people are aware of, but scientists are looking into, and I predict it will start making headlines shortly.

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

Answer: I can be reached at www.CarlaBuckley.com, and my book will be available everywhere books are sold. An audio version will also be available.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Schooled in Lies by Angela Henry l Q&A + Blog Tour + Giveaway

Angela Henry was once told that her past life careers included spy, researcher, and investigator. She stuck with what she knew because today she's a mystery writing librarian, who loves to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations. She's the author of four mysteries featuring equally nosy amateur sleuth Kendra Clayton, and is also the founder of the award-winning MystNoir website, which promotes African-American mystery writers, and was named a "Hot Site" by USA Today.com. When she's not working, writing, or practicing her stealth, she loves to travel, is connoisseur of B horror movies, and an admitted anime addict. She lives in Ohio and is currently hard at work trying to meet her next deadline. You can visit her website at www.angelahenry.com or her blogs at www.angelahenry.blogspot.com and
http://aamysteries.blogspot.com. Connect with her on twitter at www.twitter.com/mystnoir.

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

I’ve worked in the library field for more than twenty years and I started writing short stories in high school. I got away from writing fiction when I was in college but writing a novel was always a goal of mine. I didn’t attempt it until I was in my late twenties and didn’t get published until I was in my late thirties.



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

GED instructor Kendra Clayton’s high school days were nothing to brag about. So she’s not too thrilled when on top of having to take a class to renew her teaching certificate or be fired, she gets roped into serving on her high school’s reunion committee.

Spending time with her former classmates is even less fun than having a root canal. Then to make matters worse, Kendra and the other committee members start receiving strange messages and having freak accidents. When one of the accidents results in a death, Kendra is convinced it’s murder. Unfortunately, neither the reunion committee nor the police take her seriously.

To try and prevent another death—and to keep from worrying about all the time her sweetie, Carl, has been spending with his scheming ex-wife—Kendra digs into the lives of her fellow committee members and uncovers enough secrets, lies, and betrayal to make her head spin. When a second murder occurs, Kendra realizes she needs to watch her back in her search for the truth before a killer turns her into another buried secret.

I wrote Schooled In Lies because I thought it would be fun to delve into aspects of Kendra’s past that I hadn’t explored before.


What kind of research was involved in writing Schooled In Lies?

I didn’t have much research to do beyond drawing on my own high school memories both good and bad. The little bit of research I did do involved the careers of Kendra former classmates.


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

Definitely bumpy! It took me four years to complete my first novel. I was able to get a literary agent fairly quickly, within six months of completing my first book. However, she couldn’t sell it. After a year of trying, she gave up and we parted ways. But I still believed in the book and started submitting it to editors on my own because I couldn’t find another agent willing to represent a project that had already been shopped around. Two years later, I did manage to sell the book on my own. It took ten years from the time I started writing until I got that first contract.


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

It took about six months.


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

I’m represented by Richard Curtis of Richard Curtis Associates, Inc. in New York.


Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes. Book five in the series, KillJoy, is on track to be released in 2011. After that, I’m unsure when the next Kendra Clayton book will be released because I’m working on some new books in different genres.


Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

I love to write surrounded by books. My books are written in libraries, usually the library I work at during breaks and lunch hours.


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

That’s an easy one. A reputable publicist!


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

I think self-promotion is essential because an author is the biggest cheerleader for their book. To promote Schooled In Lies I’m doing a blog tour, emails blasts, targeted online ads, book giveaways on Goodreads.com, and reaching out to libraries that have my other books in their collections. I’ve also been participating on a lot of social media sites like twitter. It’s a lot of work but I think it’s important to have a strong online presence. I don’t know about other people, but when I find a book I’m interested in, the first thing I do is look the author up online. I’m always stunned by how many authors don’t have a website.


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 many people give up because they don’t understand that publishing is a business and that having a well-written manuscript isn’t always enough. One of the most frustrating things I’ve learned since becoming published is that your work can be rejected for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of your writing. For example: If a publisher can’t figure out how to market your book, no matter how excellent it is, they will reject it. Getting rejected for those kinds reasons can be very frustrating. Quite recently I had a period of wanting to give up and throw in the towel. Thankfully, it didn’t last long.

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


Learn all you can about how publishing works. There is a wealth of information to be had both online and off. There really is no excuse not to be well informed. Try and write everyday and don’t give up!


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

Thanks for having me ; ).


We're having a giveaway! Leave a comment or a question for Angela between now and Feb. 19 and you could be the winner of an electronic copy of her new book, Schooled in Lies! Or simply write "I love Schooled in Lies!" in the comment section!

Only those leaving email addresses with their comment or question qualifies.

The winner will be announced on Feb. 22.

Good luck!

Interview with Professional Artist & Author Victor Pross

Victor Pross is a professional artist born and raised in Toronto now residing in British Columbia. He is known for his “extreme caricaturing”. He has many high profile commissions to his credit including painting Ron Howard’s caricature portrait as a gift for the famous director as well as painting various agents of the William Morris Agency. He has rendered numerous International celebrities and Canadian media personalities for commercial and private purposes. Victor Pross has been interviewed on television shows such as: Canada AM, Breakfast Television, News at Noon and has been pegged by Canadian Media as “Canada’s foremost caricature artist.” He has worked on various posters, comic books and CD covers bringing to each work his own unique style. He is currently instructing an art class as well as offering his services as an editorial caricaturist. Victor’s first book, Icons & Idols, will feature a collection of the artist’s paintings and drawings and is now available. His website is www.victorpross.com.

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

I am primarily a visual artist and I have published my first art/humor book called Icons & Idols. So the book is filled with wonderfully wacky—surrealist caricatures of the famous to tickle the funny bone. But the book also includes very interesting text too.


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

Sure. Icons & Idols is an eye-popping visual homage and satire of pop culture. It is comprised of my “extreme caricatures” of the famous—such as Elvis Presley, Sylvester Stallone, Marilyn Monroe, George Bush, Albert Einstein—and others icons from the world of film, music and literature. It has over 70 paintings and drawings and it is assembled under one volume. There have been a lot of demands for my work to come in a book forum—so I obliged.


What kind of research was involved in writing, Icons & Idols?

As a painter of famous portraits, I do a lot of research by reading biographies.


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

It was a bumpy ride. But the book is worth it—for me and my viewers and readers.


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

I suppose we are talking about three years or so. Icons & Idols was a lot of work for me.


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

No, I don’t have an agent, but I suppose it might be a good idea.


Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I do. I am writing my first novel, and I do plan on further art/humor books.


Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

At home, hooked up with coffee after coffee.


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

Anything internet related and I would travel the world to promote my book, if need be.


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

It is very important to promote you own book, a writer should never sit on his hands and let others do it all. I gave readings at book stores, excerpts from my book, plus I showed original art work as well.


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

Some writers feel that perhaps they haven’t the talent if they are rejected once too often. It can be daunting. But I didn’t give up, speaking for myself.


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

When submitting a book idea to an agent or publisher—review their submission guidelines and do not deviate from it.


Thank you for your interview, Victor. We wish you much success!

Thank you.


Victor will be on virtual book tour all this month. If you'd like to follow his tour, click here.