Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Want To Be a Writer? There’s Hope For Us Late Bloomers by James Hayman

I so love this guy. I've had Jim on tour before and you would think by now there'd be nothing that would surprise me but I absolutely have to admit - he comes up with some fantastic guest posts. For those who've never heard of James Hayman (shame on you), he's the author of the wonderful thriller novel, The Chill of Night, just released from Minotaur (St. Martin's Press) and has been traveling the blogosphere in July and will continue to do so in August to talk about his wonderful new book. Please visit him during his tour and drop him a comment at any one of his many stops. I know he'd love it!

Without further ado, I'd like to present you with a guest post from the thriller novelist himself. Enjoy!

Want to be a Writer? There's Hope for Us Late Bloomers
by James Hayman

“I had a headful of gray hair and a hell of a lot of miles under my belt before I even thought about writing fiction. I published my first suspense/thriller, The Cutting, with St. Martin’s Press just three and a half years later.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart began composing minuets at the age of five and penned his first symphony when he was nine. Pablo Picasso earned his first public exhibition in his native Spain at thirteen and, by sixteen, was winning public honors and a national reputation as an artist of the highest caliber. Orson Welles directed Citizen Kane at twenty-five and F. Scott Fitzgerald published This Side of Paradise at twenty-four. Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, came four years later. He died at forty-three.

A lot of people think creative genius, for those who have it, inevitably blossoms early. Apparently, that simply isn’t true. For all of us who spend our early years toiling to pay mortgages and college tuitions yet nonetheless yearn to express ourselves as writers or artists or musicians, there is hope.

I just finished reading a fascinating essay titled Late Bloomers by Malcolm Gladwell, the bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers. I would recommend this piece (which appears in Gladwell’s latest book, What the Dog Saw) to anyone who wants to enter the creative life late in life.

Gladwell’s main point is that for every Picasso who explodes on the scene early there is also a Paul Cezanne, who wasn’t recognized as a decent painter, let alone a genius, until he was well into his fifties.

While I, in no way, pretend to genius, early or late, I did have a headful of gray hair and a lot of miles under my belt before I even thought about writing fiction. I published my first suspense/thriller, The Cutting, with St. Martin’s Press just three and a half years later.

To be fair, I had experience as a writer. But a different kind of writer. I’d spent roughly twenty-five years as a copywriter and creative director for some of Madison Avenue’s biggest advertising agencies, happily churning out TV and print campaigns for mega-clients like Procter & Gamble, Ford, and the U.S. Army. After leaving the agency business, I continued writing. Brochures, newsletters articles, a few ads, an annual report or two and a few rip-roaring speeches for non-writing CEO’s who were unable to turn out prose, on their own, that would accomplish little more than allow their audiences to catch up on their sleep.

None of this was fiction. But all of it helped my hone skills that served me well when I decided to try my hand at writing the kind of books I enjoyed reading. Murder mysteries. Suspense thrillers. Whodunits.

I started writing The Cutting on January 2, 2006. On June 23, 2009 the finished product was published by St. Martin’s/Minotaur.

The lesson in all this is simple. To be successful as a novelist, you have to have an ear for and a facility with the written word. You have to practice your craft and make your writing as good as it can be. And you have to be disciplined enough to get up every morning and work hard.

The one thing you don’t have to be is young.

Visit James on the web at www.jameshaymanthrillers.com.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pump Up Your Book announces Maya Jax's 'Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me Virtual Book Tour'

Join Maya Jax, author of the chick lit novel, Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me (Lipstick Ninja Press), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in August ‘10 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

Loving spy and mystery novels, Maya Jax entertained the idea of being a secret agent and started working at an embassy overseas while doing her master’s in international relations. During this time, she finished her first screenplay, an action/thriller about spies and nuclear weapons. She pitched it to a friend in Hollywood, who told her she had talent, but to never – ever – show anyone the script again. Realizing her love for writing was stronger than her desire to spy and fight crime, she attempted a second screenplay focusing on what she knew best — trying to make it as a writer. The screenplay turned into a manuscript and the result was chick lit novel Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me. You can read more about Maya at www.mayajax.com.

Here's what Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me is all about:

The Scene: Aspiring screenwriter Lelaina Zane finally lands a Hollywood break, but it’s cut short when her dad has a heart attack and she has to return to her hometown. Now that she’s back, her parents want her to stay, show some responsibility and join the family law firm.

Her Ex: Her first love, first kiss, first… you know, and first guy she caught with another woman. Full of apologies and a proposition, he wants her to stay and be with him.

Her Dilemma: With one embarrassing disaster after another, a devastating blow from Hollywood and four weeks until the Bar Exam, Lainey has to decide if she’ll stay and have it all — career, love, money — or return to LA to pursue her impossible dream.

CollegeCandy.com says: "After 8 months of reading textbooks with a highlighter, when it comes time for summer I want something light. Something fun. Something that I can devour quickly on the beach or when lying in bed on a rainy day. And Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me totally delivered. Well, almost delivered. The book never did make it to the beach or to a rainy day because I read the whole thing the night I bought it."

Chick Lit.co.uk. says: "Ok, the first thing wrong with this book is the title – it’s just not indicative of the humourous romp within. The second thing is that we just want more! It may be an easy read, but this book touches on themes in many of our lives – staying true to your dreams, not living your life for other people, knowing when enough is enough in a bad relationship. We loved the fact that Lelaina is no doormat, which is a trap that so many Chicklit novels seem to fall into nowadays. We thoroughly enjoyed it and are hoping a sequel is on the way."

If you’d like to follow along with Maya as she tours the blogosphere in August, visit her official tour page at Pump Up Your Book. Lots of fun in store including giveaways. Find out things about Maya you never knew before on her Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me Virtual Book Tour ‘10!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Spotlight: When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty by Jackie M. Johnson

While most books for singles tell readers how to get the next guy, When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty encourages a healthy healing process. Practical and biblically based, each chapter guides the reader through a metaphorical day of restoration. Twilight recognizes and deals with endings, night validates and grieves the loss, dawn awakens hope, and day is the new beginning based on the solid assurance of Christ.

Chapters conclude with discussions questions for individual or group study, helpful Bible verses, and a prayer.

Praise for When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty

"This well-written and easy-to-read book is divided up into four parts, that will take you through the process of moving on with grace and hope!"
--A Mom After God's Own Heart

"Throughout this book, Johnsons speaks with incredible honesty of the trial she has faced in love. She shows that it is possible to survive a heartbreak, and to not allow that heartbreak to control every aspect of your life. By sharing Biblical insights into grief and loss, Johnson creates a basic roadmap out of the darkness of a broken heart."
--Lynn's Corner




Read an Excerpt!


Twilight is a time of transition. As late afternoon fades into evening, the vivid colors of day disappear, and the sun, low in the horizon, dips slowly into earth’s edge. In the dimness before nightfall it becomes increasingly hard to see. Soon it will be dark. Likewise, a relationship ending is your own “heart sunset.” Good-bye day; good-bye love.

WHY BREAKUPS HAPPEN

As early evening settles in, dusk becomes an ambiguous zone. With less light, things can seem uncertain or unclear, like why your relationship ended. Sometimes you are left without the answers or closure you want, and you wrack your brain trying to figure out what went wrong. He was indifferent, he just couldn’t commit, or he was immature. Maybe you were the one who couldn’t do it anymore, and you were just plain done. Perhaps you finally realized that you didn’t really have that much in common after all, or the timing was bad, or he found someone else. Maybe you know exactly why you split up, and it makes you livid, depressed, or resentful. There are as many reasons as there are relationships. There’s always the “I don’t know what I want right now” explanation or the fear factor. Maybe you never had any good role models in your life of what a healthy love relationship or marriage looks like and it scares you to death. You’re afraid to trust because you don’t want to end up in an unhealthy, dysfunctional, or boring relationship—or one that falls apart again.

I was surprised when a man I’d been getting to know online for a few months sent me an e-mail to break things off by saying, “I was looking at my calendar for the next year and I’m going to be really busy. “Well then what were the past four let’s-get-to-know-each-other-better months about? Was he really busy or was he afraid of a commitment? I guess I’ll never know. Sadly, you may never know the real reason why the person you once shared everything with will now tell you nothing.

Whether the final send-off came gradually or you were blindsided, endings are never easy. Katy and Will enjoyed a year of Saturday night indie films and Starbucks runs before Will shocked her one summer afternoon when he said he couldn’t see himself marrying her. But he still wanted to “hang out,” and Katy, not wanting to lose him entirely, continued to see Will for six more months—and in the process lost herself and her self respect. Finally, she could no longer endure the emotional turmoil of longing and lack, hoping that one day he would come around. As she began to learn more about her true worth and value, she courageously broke it off entirely.

Unlike Katy’s drawn-out breakup, Chaundra’s ending was sudden. Darren exited as quickly as he entered her life. He was a “comet” dater—burn fast, burn bright, and burn out. From the day they met at her best friend’s house, Darren called her every day (sometimes two or three times a day). After a few weeks of spending all of their free time together, he just stopped calling. No explanation. The next Saturday Chaundra saw Darren with another woman at a café and she was heartbroken.

RESPONDING TO “THE END”

Then there’s your story. When you end a significant relationship, you may feel a hundred different emotions, from some snarly name-calling or a disillusioned, “I really thought this would go somewhere,” to a despondent, “How am I going to get over him? “You’re sad, angry, confused, hurt, depressed, and some days you just want to sob with your two new best friends, Ben and Jerry (and their ridiculously good frozen treats).

Everyone responds to loss and pain differently. For some of us it takes longer to absorb the changes, adjust, and begin again. Whether you were together for a long time or a short time, you may have had a close, deep connection. Your personality, temperament, and background all make a difference in how you deal with emotional pain (or don’t) and how long it takes to heal.

If you’re the one breaking it off, you may be hurting someone you care about (or once cared about) and that can bring a host of emotions from guilt and shame to remorse and blame. No matter what the guy says—like the classic, “it’s not you, it’s me”—or how he says it (in person or by phone, fax, letter, e-mail, text, or other electronic media), your relationship has ended .Game over. You’re not together anymore. Now what?


Jackie M. Johnson is an accomplished author and freelance writer who has a passion for helping people who’ve experienced brokenness. Her first book, Power Prayers for Women has sold almost 200,000 copies.
A Milwaukee native and graduate of Trinity International University, Jackie lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her latest release is When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty.

You can visit Jackie online at http://whenloveends.com/ and at her blog http://anewdaycafe.blogspot.com/.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

5 Simple Tips to Help You Create! by Terry M. Drake

Today's guest is Terry M. Drake, author of the self-help book, Live Happily, Ever More...Now! Terry is a Licensed Social Worker, National Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Certified Trainer of Ericksonian Hypnosis and NLP. He has spent the last 15 years learning about himself and others, through his academic studies resulting in his MSW and his professional studies, as a family therapist, clinical supervisor and vast training and research into hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming, the law of attraction and positive psychology. Terry is currently a Director of mental and behavioral health programs and a Life Coach, Hypnotherapist in private practice. He is also ready to put his skills to use as an author, speaker, consultant and coach. Terry lives in Wellsboro, Pa with his wife and children.
You can visit his website at www.livehappilyeverafter-now.com.
5 Simple Tips to Help You Create!
by Terry M. Drake

1) Write about what you know.

The process of taking your thoughts and ideas then putting them on paper can be difficult enough, but it is nearly impossible if you don’t know what you are writing about. If you take me for example, my book is a self-help book and written about how I successfully created change in my life and the lives of others, using the same methods I talk about in the book. Or take for example, John Grisham, who is arguably one of the best modern legal thriller authors. John was a lawyer, a lawyer in a small Mississippi law firm, who after hearing a traumatic account of a twelve-year-old rape victim, imagined what would have happened if the father took revenge and killed the assailants. From what he knew and observed he created A Time to Kill and the rest is history.

2) Write with passion.

How are you going to get others excited about your message if you don’t write with enthusiasm? You won’t! You need to be excited about your writing and in turn be excited to share this with others. Passion is a strong and powerful self-energy and when you use it in your writing; you create material that others want to read. Maybe even more important is how your passion creates the internal motivation you need to follow through with your project.

3) Paint a picture.

In my work as a hypnotherapist, when I describe to others what hypnosis is and how they already experience it, I use reading and authors as an example. I consider authors to be the best hypnotists, the reason is that they can take letters and words on a piece of paper and take the reader on a mental journey. This journey is all internal, as the reader imagines what things look, feel and sound like. This is accomplished by paying attention to detail, using vivid descriptions and stories, as well as writing with passion. When you paint a picture for your readers then you create a powerful emotional response, this is what keeps them interested in your message and makes them want to tell others about your work.

4) Keep It Simple!

KISS or keep it simple, stupid is a very helpful design principle. The principle states that simplicity should be the key goal and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. I learned this lesson through feedback and research, which resulted in several re-writes, but once this concept was used in my writing it resulted in a quality finished product. When you keep it simple, you are easily able to convey your message in a succinct and straight forward manner, which makes it easier to paint your picture and pay attention to detail. You may think that complexity will make your writing seem more intelligent or creative, but what it really does is alienate your reader since they won’t fully understand your message and search for the meaning, rather then create their own meaning from your writing.

5) Get feedback.

In order for you to be successful as a writer, you are going to need to learn how to convey your message or tell your story in a manner that others can understand and enjoy. How do you do this? You seek feedback or constructive criticism; you get this from professionals who write in your genre and from people who enjoy reading what you are writing about. When I got my first “brutal” feedback, I was crushed, but it was the most valuable experience I had during the writing and editing of my book. The feedback was what I needed to shape my book into something that conveys my message in an exciting, knowledgeable, passionate and simple manner.

Terry will be on virtual book tour June 1 - July 30 '10. Visit his official tour page at Pump Up Your Book to find out more about his new self-help book, Live Happily, Ever After...Now! Amazon is the best way to obtain your copy, although it will be available to order in your local bookstores.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Interview with Renee Wiggins, author of "Transformations: Give Up the Struggle"


Renee Wiggins has mentored, trained and coached and changed lives in the health and wellness industry for more than 20 years. Renee is a strong believer and encourager in living an authentic healthy lifestyle. Ms. Wiggins specilizes in designing customized lifestyle programs that are tailored to clients needs, goals, and habits. Renee ises a variety of presentations to educate,including workshops, lectures, grocery shopping tours, webinars and one-on-one consultations.

Renee can be reach at www.resultsbyrenee.com,email at renee@resultsbyrenee.com. Follow Renee on: http://www.twitter.com/giveupthestrugg and http://transformationsgiveupthestruggle.blogspot.com



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

A:I am a certified diabetes educator, registered dietitian and certified massage therapits and ministry leader. I like to read, crochet and I enjoy making things,(arts and crafts). In addition to working full-time, working my business-part-time and taking care of my mother, I find time to write. I started writing as young as 7 years of age, even though my English teachers gave me D in grammar, I continue to write. My first article was in the former newsmagazine, called Health Quest. I published my first book in 2006,title"Can I Exercise Sitting Down".

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

A:Transformations:Give Up The Struggle is a collection of affirmations that encourage, uplift and motivate men and especially women to change their negative thoughts so that they can live a more positive life.

I wrote the book in response to situation that I and others were going through and in recognition of the fact that many of our struggles were due to resistance to change. I want to let people know that just as a caterpillar grows wings and transform into a butterfly, we, too must also be open to a similar evolutionary process in our lives.

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

A: I was challenge by a fear of not having enough material to fill my book. While I had a large number of affirmations, several were built around the same theme and I wanted a range of themes so that all my readers would be touched and encouraged by the book.

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: No, I don't have a press kit yet, but I should have one soon.

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:Yes, I was a featured guest at my church and at a local women's group. I have been able to read from my book and also spoke on the subject of transforming our lives for the better. I am planning a blog radio tour and a few offline radio appearances for August.

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:While I do see the value in having an agent, I don't have one nor have I ever had one. It is something I would consider in the future.

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:One month before the book was published, I did an email broadcast to friends, family, and professional associates. I also broadcast audios I'd recorded of two of the affirmations included in my book. This ignited some interest in my book as well as a few sales.

In addition, I partned with www.readerviews.com and www.Apexreviews.com, both of whom created book trailers that I posted on blogs,Facebook, Twitter, ning.com, and at other social network forums.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Yes, I am currently writing part two of my current book, Transformations:Give Up the Struggle.This book will be a collection of stories provided by people who have successfully danced through some of life's most turbulent storms. It's my hope that their stories will provide the strength and guidance others may need to change their lives for the better.

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

A: Please do!. They can find and buy my book on www.Amazon.com(under Renee), and at my web site,www.resultsbyrenee.com, they can find my book on www.goodreads.com and www.Shelfari.com.

Win FREE copy of Claire Cook's SEVEN YEAR SWITCH

Enter to win a free copy of Claire Cook's SEVEN YEAR SWITCH at Carpe Libris today!!!

Jill Murray is content living a man-free existence. She’s got Anastasia, her ten-year-old daughter, and a sweet little bungalow to call home. Life as a cultural coach didn’t turn out quite the way she planned, but between answering phones for Great Girlfriend Getaways and teaching Lunch Around the World classes, the dust in this Jill-of-all-trades life is starting to settle.

Then her ex-husband comes back.

They say that every seven years you become a completely new person, and Jill has long ago stopped wishing her deadbeat husband would return. Now she has to face the fact there’s simply no way she can be a good mom without letting Seth back into their daughter’s life. But why can’t she seem to hold herself together around him? And then there’s Billy, the free-spirited, bike-riding entrepreneur who hires Jill as a consultant. When their business relationship seems destined for something more Jill’s no-boys-allowed life is suddenly anything but.

It takes a Costa Rican getaway to help Jill make her choice — between the woman she is and the woman she wants to be. It’s a wild ride, sure to thrill Claire Cook’s many fans, complete with laughter, revelations, and one heckuva big tarantula.

Deadline: July 31, '10


Enter here to win!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Day in the Life of Bestselling Author Claire Cook

A Day in the Life of Bestselling Author Claire Cook

by Claire Cook

I wrote my first novel at 5 AM in my minivan outside my daughter’s swim practice, and while I’m thrilled to have moved inside to a home office, I’ve kept the early morning writing habit.

I wake up and spread some whole wheat toast with almond butter while the coffee is brewing, then I head up to my office with a big mug of coffee and get to work. I like to start my day’s writing before I’m fully awake, before the doubt and procrastination set in. Before the rest of the world is awake.

I write two pages a day, seven days a week. This keeps me almost living in the book, following the characters, nudging the story forward.

I start by rereading and polishing the pages from the day before, which helps me find the rhythm again. I try not to go back much farther than that. If I did, I might still be working on the first chapter of my first novel instead of my eighth!

Sometimes my two pages take only a few hours. Sometimes I wrestle well into the night. My deal with myself is that I’m not allowed to go to bed until I’ve finished my daily quota. Books are fun to start and triumphant to finish, but all those pesky pages in between can really get you into trouble. So this works for me. No matter what else happens in my life, I can finish two pages.

And two pages become four, then six, then eight, and one miraculous day I have the first draft of a novel. And then the revising begins!

For more writing tips, and to win a beach bag filled with all 7 of Claire’s novels, plus a beach towel, go to http://ClaireCook.com.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ann Putnam: 'I've come up for air and the sun is shining and the world goes on'

Writing memoirs has got to be one of the hardest genres to write. We can play with our characters and settings and plots with fiction books, but not so with memoirs. In order to be a true memoir, we have to stick with the facts and sometimes those facts toil with our emotions even though at the time we sit down to write and we tell ourselves it'll be okay, we can do this, it's still always hard.

Today’s guest is Ann Putnam, author of the memoir,
Full Moon at Noontide: A Daughter’s Last Goodbye (Southern Methodist University Press). She's here today to tell us the inspiration behind her book.

Welcome, Ann!


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The Story Behind Full Moon at Noontide
by Ann Putnam

The writing of the book 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 unites, 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. I wondered what interest there might be in reading of this inevitable journey taken by such ordinary people, and did not know. But turned to the light just so, the beauty and laughter of the telling transcend the darkness of the tale.

The first thing I wrote described the death of my father, which comes late in the book as it was finally sculpted. I’d written that part for a creative reading I was giving at a conference. It was about six months after my father had died and I thought I was ready to write about it. I didn’t sit at my computer with tears running down my face at all. I was cool and very much the writer at work, telling herself that she could do this just fine. But after about an hour, I would begin to feel ill. And sure enough found myself running a fever—aches and weariness, the works. I’d take a couple of Tylenol and lie down for an hour or so, and it would pass. So I learned that I could only write about an hour at a time through those summer months. That feeling eventually just sort of left me, and only returned now and then. But as I wrote the memoir, I experienced more losses—the death of my mother, and then when I was doing final revisions, the death of my husband. So I guess now that I look at it, it was all very very hard.

Writing this right now I’m pulled back to that hard time. But I’ve come up for air and the sun is shining and the world goes on. I think the most joyful moment of writing the book was also the very hardest if that doesn’t sound totally contradictory. I wrote an “afterward” while my husband was dying of cancer. He was on the couch in the living room and I was on a little cramped table in the dining room. My office was downstairs and that seemed too far away from him. This “afterward” became a love poem in prose to him, and to this day I do not know how I managed to write it. It came forth all of a piece, almost unbeckoned. I am most proud of that little page at the end of the book, which came at such cost.

Ann PutnamANN PUTNAM teaches creative writing and women’s 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 such as 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 recent release is Full Moon at Noontide: A Daughter’s Last Goodbye.

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

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fear Fiction by James Boyle

Today we have a wonderful guest post by James Boyle, author of Ni'il: The Awakening. James would like to explain what fear fiction is all about. Enjoy!

..............................................................

Fear Fiction
by James Boyle

I saw a woman I know the other day. She said she was reading my novel. “It gave me nightmares last night,” she said.


I was so proud.

I write horror fiction and its cousins, suspense and urban fantasy. Most of my writing though deals with horror, the things that go bump in the night. Why, you may ask, Why dwell on the darkest aspects of this life we're given to lead?

First of all, it's the kind of fiction I like to read. I've read at least some of all of them: Washington Irving, Edgar A. Poe, King, Straub, Barker, and Rice. It is the kind of story I naturally gravitate to, therefore it is the kind of story I write.

And face it, if done well, horror is like no other genre. It touches a primal something that's leftover from the days of scrounging for food on the savannah, while trying to avoid becoming something else's food. When afraid, we are alive. Our senses work on overdrive. We can hear every sound around us, see details we'd normally gloss over, smell the grass growing. Adrenaline fills our bloodstream and time slows to a crawl. We are actively, consciously, living each moment.

Then, when the danger has passed and we have survived, there is catharsis. Life is sweeter when we have nearly lost it.

So I like the fear fiction. I enjoy fear fiction. If doing this means exploring the dark side of our existence, then so be it. There are plenty of very talented writers out there who are exploring the light side and doing a much better job than I could probably do. I will stay here in the dark.

Join me?

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Like all of us, James Boyle is a product of his environment.

He was raised in a religious/spiritual family and that spirituality pervades most of his work. He even attended a Catholic Seminary for a year before deciding the priesthood was not for him.

James’ father worked for the phone company as he was growing up, which was much like growing up in a military family. The company transferred his family from town to town every couple of years. By the time he’d graduated high school, they’d moved twenty times. He attended nine different schools in five cities and three states.

He lived mainly in North Dakota until he was eight, since then he lived in Washington and Oregon, moving to Gold Beach when he was sixteen. He finds that the landscape of the Pacific Northwest has done more to influence him than nearly everything else. Its vast forests, rugged mountains, seascapes and sparse population inspire recollections of what the pioneers first fell in love with a century and a half ago. From his house, he can still hike fifteen minutes and spend the entire day without seeing another human being. And the possibility exists that he could see sasquatch.

One of his goals is to build a dark fiction landscape of the Pacific Northwest, much like Stephen King has done with Maine. A landscape of dark possibilities.

When he was a child living in Bismark, North Dakota, his parents took James to Fort Abraham Lincoln, the fort Gen. Custer left on his last, fateful campaign and the Knife River Village, the restored ruins of a Mandan village. Now forty years later, the memories have faded, but not the memory of the impression the visits made on a small boy. Years later, he read Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. After that he devoured everything he could find about Native American history and culture. He came to have a deep sympathy for the Native peoples’ doomed resistance to the white culture and admiration for their cultural connection to the natural world around them. The dominant culture seeks to change and subjugate a nature it sees as an enemy; the Natives sought to live within the natural world as one part of a dynamic whole.

When he was eighteen, James was diagnosed with a severe case of scoliosis. After graduating early from Gold Beach High Schoolin 1978, he underwent surgery that fused most of his lumber spine. Six months in a body cast later, he continued on to college at the University of Oregon, where he earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Now, forty years after the surgery, his body is beginning to break down a bit. So if you see him and notice he seems to be bent and twisted, you know why.

When he’s not writing, James has worked in the restaurant industry as a cook and as a manager, mostly in the Eugene/Springfield area, but most lately at Gold Beach’s Port Hole Cafe. Looking back, he seems to have a lot of scenes set in restaurants. He enjoy reading, playing an occasional video game, taking his dog for exploratory hikes along the beach or river. He is happily single. (it’s so much less complicated.)

You can visit James’ website at www.jamesboylewrites.com.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Interview with Sue Provost, 'My goal is to see my book actually presented in retreat form.'

Sue Provost is an active spiritual director, religious education teacher for both children and adults, and author of Where is God in Your Life?: Three Retreats in Christian Spirituality. Her vocation in the practice of spiritual direction supports lay men and women, as well as clergy and those in ministry formation, in discernment of God’s gifting and God’s calling.

Sue has a master’s degree in Spiritual Formation from Regis University, in Denver Colorado. She is on the board of directors for the national headquarters of Small Christian Communities Connect (SCCC), as well as being the chairperson for SCC in her local parish. She is a teacher of religious education to both children and adults. She writes a daily blog about the message of Jesus on her site “Let Your Life Sing” . Sue goal in writing this daily blog is to bring awareness of God walking with us on this earthly journey.

Her desire is to share her understanding of God’s love with others, so they can experience what she found in her own relationship with God. She feels that communication with God through prayer is the essential element needed to be able to see God’s movement in their lives.

You can visit Sue’s website at www.sueprovost.com.

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

A: I am a resident of Henderson, Nev., and I am married with four children and four grandchildren. I am an active spiritual director and I have a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Leadership from Regis University in Denver, Colo. I am a teacher of religious education and spirituality for both children and adults and I present workshops called “Nourishing Your Soul” to local women’s groups. This is my first book. So I guess that I have been a writer for only a short time, approximately a year. The book has come out of my ministry which is helping people to see the loving God who is active in their lives.


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

A: My book explores the teachings expressed by Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich and is an examination of the six stages of a person’s faith journey:
(1)recognition of God;
(2)the life of discipleship;
(3)the productive life;
(4)the journey inward and meeting the wall;
(5)the journey outward;
(6)and the life of love.
Most people can achieve stages one through three within their church community, but there is little support currently available to help a person realize stages four through six. Where is God in your Life and the workshops designed around my teachings offer a platform to help people arrive at the final three profound levels when traveling the road to faith.
The problem that many people face, who are looking to move forward on their spiritual journey, is where to begin. You can begin on page one, but I advise before cracking open the first pages of my book that you throw away any notion you may have about a punishing God and open your heart to discover the God of love.
The book includes three different two-day workshops for varying levels of a person’s faith experience (novice to veteran). The main topics include: spirituality, understanding the soul, Christian spirituality, God’s presence, prayer, and spirituality within the community. Where is God in your Life can be read individually or it can be used as the foundation in a retreat setting. The book provides seminar plans that are organized in such detail that the group leader simply needs to show up—the readings, the music, the time schedule, the ice breaker activities (including an amusing project that requires a roll of toilet paper) are prearranged to achieve an insightful, fun, and structured experience.



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

A: I would have to say that time was the biggest challenge I faced in writing my book. Four hundred pages do not get written in a day, or a week, or a month. However, this book was not a burden to write. It flowed from God to my soul to the paper. It surprised me how easy it was to write because it was something I am very passionate about. God has been good to me throughout my life and has given me many gifts. Out of this love of God for me and gratitude for all that God has given me, came my desire to share my understanding of God’s love with others. There are many people in this world that feel lost and abandoned. They are not aware that there is someone who loves them deeply and wants them to feel that love.



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:
EDITORS: For review copies or interview requests, contact:
Promotional Services Department
Tel: 1-800-AUTHORS
Fax: 812-355-4078
Email: promotions@iuniverse.com
(When requesting a review copy, please provide a street address.)

Where is God in Your Life?
Three Retreats in Christian Spirituality

HENDERSON, NV - The spiritual quest is not just one of many things we attempt to accomplish in our lives. It is our life.

This reality, presented by spiritual director and clinician Susan M. Provost, in Where is God in Your Life? Three Retreats in Christian Spirituality (published by Trafford Publishing) outlines this spiritual quest as the goal Christians have committed to that encompasses their entire being. But once the decision to commit to Christ has been made, people may not know how to begin developing that relationship with Christ. Provost knows that quite often, people need to be given the tools necessary to develop a relationship with God and to understand how that relationship is celebrated in the community. Provost’s three two-day workshops are a program that will show readers and participants how to recognize God in their lives and to feel His love. The workshops help people to continue their spiritual journey to a greater connection with God and to see the importance of the Christian faith as a spiritual roadmap on the path to God. Provost’s program and book show how Christians eventually discover that success, productivity, and the constant drive to acquire things do not fill or satisfy the soul within us. “We burn out from what has become a road to spiritual death," Provost says. "We look for someone to convince us that we are of value for who we really are, not what we and our culture chooses to label us. We look for someone who we do not have to prove that we are worth something. We look to connect with the Creator, the Savior, and the Spirit of the God who loves us. Our soul yearns to make that connection and to feel whole, to feel significant, and to feel loved.” Where is God in Your Life will show you how.

This information is available on my website:

http://www.sueprovost.com/BookInformation.html



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: Since my book is of a religious nature, I do speak to church groups regarding my book. My goal is to see my book actually presented in retreat form.


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 do not have an agent. I suppose if one is a bestselling author, agents will be clamoring to be a representative of that author. I am not a bestselling author, just a person with a message about the love of God. So therefore, I would have to say that God is my agent. God is who prompted me to write this book and if it is his will that it be successful, it will happen.


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: Unfortunately there was no media blitz.


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Yes, I am currently working on a book based upon my blog, http://letyourlifesing.blogspot.com called “God Blogs” by Sue Provost


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

A: My book can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and directly from Trafford Publishing. I also have my own inventory of books. So someone can contact me directly if they are unable to acquire copies from the other sources.

Where is God in Your Life?

Available from: www.trafford.com, www.bn.com, and www.amazon.com


As stated above, I have a blog in which I try to post to on a daily basis http://letyourlifesing.blogspot.com.

I have a website dedicated to promoting the message of Jesus in a positive and loving way http://sueprovost.com


Thank you for the opportunity to appear on your blog!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Interview with L.G. Bradshaw: 'It literally has something for everyone'

L.G. Bradshaw lives in Minnesota. He served in the United States Army and worked as a Minneapolis police officer for 14 years, witnessing a seemingly endless stream of human depravity, some of which has found a home in his writing. Dot to Dot is his first of many novels, and defies convention. Dot to Dot can’t be pigeonholed into any one genre. It’s got a little bit of everything: drama, comedy, horror. Even a necropheliac serial killer thrown in for good measure.”

Bradshaw has finished two other novles and is currently working on a fourth.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, L.G. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, ‘Dot to Dot’?

A: Thanks. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. Most of the stuff I came up with in the early years was crap, but I learned a lot about writing by just pushing ahead. Dot to Dot is my first published novel. Since finishing it I’ve completed two other novels and am now writing a fourth. Each one gets better, too!


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

A: The main theme of Dot to Dot is how we’re all connected. Plus, the story moves from character to character like a dot to dot puzzle. Some characters the reader gets to learn quite a bit about; others might only be around for a couple pages. There’s even a cannibalistic, necrophiliac serial killer thrown in for good measure. This guy will haunt your dreams!


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

A: It’s a great read! Pretty simple, really. It’s entertaining, and that’s what all good novels should strive to be.


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?

A: I found the photo and had my brother design the cover. He’s a designer and did a great job. He started his own design firm, Norman Michel Designs, and works out of Denver. You can check out his work at www.naderkawas.com. He has an amazing talent for anything design related.

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?

A: I’ve done most of it myself. Friends, family, local book events, facebook, emails. Whatever it takes to push it out there.

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

A: My book is like no other. It’s not one particular genre. It literally has something for everyone. Frankly, I think it’s better than most of the tripe out there these days.


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

A: Ten year old Tony Sanchez has come up with a way to deal with his mother’s homicidal boyfriend. Very creative for a ten year old, and slightly disturbing.


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: I’ve already finished two others and am working on a fourth. Not going to stop writing. The way I see it, life is too short to not do what you want. Screw it, I’m going to write until the day I die. Could be tomorrow or fifty years from now. You never know…


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

A: Absolutely. Check me out at www.lgbradshaw.com. My book is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Interview with G.F. Skipworth: 'Being published the first time stirs you to write even more'

G.F. Skipworth has toured much of the world as a concert pianist, symphonic/operatic conductor, composer and vocalist, but also worked in speech, comedy and academic writing. Educated at Whitman College, Johns Hopkins, Harvard and UCLA, he sat down recently to compose, and a four-volume fiction series came out instead. Moving to historical fiction, he has recently released The Simpering, North Dakota Literary Society, based on the suffrage movement in 1919. Upcoming works include The Madonna of Dunkirk and The World-Weary String Quartet of Alliance, Nebraska. You can find out more about his book at www.rosslarebooks.com.

Thank you for this interview, George. Do you remember writing stories as a child or did the writing bug come later? Do you remember your first published piece?
Thank you. I appreciate speaking with you today. I do remember writing as a child, but it was in an odd situation. A fourth grade teacher who thought I was daydreaming too much sent me to the elementary school counselor, who showed me half-real pictures (animals living in human situations) and said – “Tell me a story – go!” I took a breath and didn’t take another one until he had a brief case full of them. A week later, he called to say that “The kid is fine, and tell him my children loved the stories.” The problem was that he kept them, and I never saw them again. Since I was in music at the time, all the effort went into practicing, and I forgot about it.

What do you consider as the most frustrating side of becoming a published author and what has been the most rewarding?
Being published the first time stirs you to write even more, and fighting for the time is difficult. Unlike errands, you can’t just say “OK, now I’m going to write for forty five minutes.” One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is the time in libraries. We’ve met people from every walk of life, and often spend just as much time listening to their life stories, and talking about their writing (Here’s a shout-out to the Vietnam Vets of Baker City, Oregon!) More than anything, it’s the contact outside of my usual circles.

Are you married or single and how do you combine the writing life with home life? Do you have support?
I am married to a professional editor (as well as professional concert singer) with numerous works of fiction/non-fiction and academic textbooks to her credit. I never have to prove my case for writing – just enjoy it. As people in the arts, we are never afraid to try what seems odd to most people, and we’re not afraid of being surprised.

Can you tell us about your latest book and why you wrote it?
The Simpering Literary Society is set in the American Midwest during the year of 1919, at which time the suffrage movement was nearing its height, World War I had ended and fascism was rising in Italy. A sixteen year old nun and card shark wins the town of Simpering in a card game played at the Huffy Hussy Billiards & Poker Parlor, gathers five female geniuses to her side and establishes a prairie empire that can hold off the world. The improbable, tongue-in-cheek story is an island of humor between the events of a grim year.

Can you share an excerpt?
(Edielou Zingarella, leader of the “Mighty Five”) – Edielou chose not to marry, citing neither lack of time nor interest. She sat up nights adding and subtracting the numbers, figuring the capital lost to the bartenders and local pool sharks, clothing for the mistress and flowers for the funeral following the discovery of his infidelity…and it all just didn’t add up. Reopening a gold mine in Manitoba was preferable to striking out on the maddening sea of matrimony. She put the calculations in the wall safe with the rejected loan applications for that year, and declined to visit those numbers again. No suitor ever made it down the garden path…well…Hank Wiessenschtanker almost made it, but Henrietta, Edielou’s Great Dane, headed him off at the swinging gate, just short of the weeping willow. If this whining, poetry-spewing flower bearer thought for a moment that he would gain the secrets to the wall safe, or that anyone would be paraded about as Edielou Wiessenschtanker, he was in immediate need of correcting. Her resolve buttressed the flagging matriarchal creed of Simpering, and not a solitary woman from town changed her name out of matrimonial necessity for another thirty years…and even the one instance happened for the sake of a departing soldier. Why, no sooner had he set foot on French soil than she went to the courthouse and changed it right back…Edielou Wiessenschtanker, indeed!”

Where’s your favorite place to write at home?
I may be bound to the computer by day, but I write by hand each night, which deepens the content a bit, and primes the pump for the next day. Living between the mountains and the ocean in Oregon, I often visit whichever setting is best for the chapter of the day. The Nordic-style sagas came from the Mount Hood Lodge (The one in The Shining) while the travels of the Simpering characters always came out better at the coast.

What is one thing about your book that makes it different from other books on the market?
I have tried to bring a little of the nineteenth century’s linguistic atmosphere into the setting. Also, this is not another “oppressed women make good against impossible male odds” book. Many of the men and women like each other quite a lot, or work at it very hard. Everyone has to face himself or herself, and life gets everybody (hardly makes it fiction, does it?) Simpering isn’t trying to make you fall on the floor guffawing. It’s built on turns of phrase, personality quirks, tangents of logic and colorful interactions between people who don’t understand each other at all. Shock isn’t the engine for movement in the plot, and if you’re fond of the sailor speech, you’ll be disappointed. These people may not know what they’re doing, but they’re oh so refined doing it.

Tables are turned…what is one thing you’d like to say to your audience who might buy your book one day?
I hope that you won’t approach Simpering with expectations of modern-day normalcy. I grew up in a warm, humorous but linguistically formal atmosphere (Trust me, you don’t want to be a first grader saying “shan’t” and “daren’t.”) My roots are in the works of the nineteenth century, from Twain, Barrie and Austen. I want to bring just a little of that antique touch into writing of the present day and, to some, it may sound a bit flowery or stilted (especially young readers living in a literal age.) Don’t make the book come forward, but go back in time to meet it. I hope you have a wonderful time there, and if you do, the prequel, The Simpering, North Dakota Sharpshooters is on its way.

Thank you for this interview, George. Good luck on your virtual book tour!
Thanks so much for the time. Best wishes to all authors and readers.

G.F. Skipworth will be on tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion to promote his new book, The Simpering, North Dakota Literary Society, in July '10. Visit his official tour page here.

Interview with Lisa Heidke - Author of the Women's Fiction Novel 'Lucy Springer Gets Even'

Lisa Heidke lives in Sydney, Australia, and was a feature writer on several national magazines including Practical Parenting and Bride To Be, before leaving to pursue novel writing full-time. Lucy Springer Gets Even (Allen & Unwin, 2009) is her first book and was quickly followed by What Kate Did Next (2010). Her third novel, tentatively titled Claudia Changes Course, will be published early 2011.

Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisaheidke and visit her website and blog at www.lisaheidke.com Lisa’s books can be purchased at www.allenandunwin.com and www.amazon.com

~~~


Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Lisa. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Lucy Springer Gets Even?

A: I started writing professionally in the mid-1990s when I worked for a national parenting magazine in Australia. In 2000, after the birth of my third child, I decided it was now or never, and began writing manuscripts.

With Lucy Springer Gets Even, I wanted to write a light hearted story in diary form about a woman whose husband leaves her on day one. I thought it would be interesting to look at a woman in her mid-thirties with a couple of kids who thinks her life is moving along happily, and rip it to shreds – to plot her journey from the depths of despair and bewilderment on day one, to her getting her life together by day sixty-five.

After charting the story, I realised I was missing a few crucial elements. Lucy needed a career and I’m fascinated by the reality TV phenomenon so I decided to make her an actress; I was going through a renovation at the time so thought that would add realistic mayhem; and as for Lucy’s epiphany, I happened to be in Bali during the 2005 terrorist attacks, and incorporated that into Lucy’s life.

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

A: Thank-you! It’s a snappy title and I think it indicates that Lucy’s not going put up with any nonsense. Initially, she’s devastated when her comfortable life falls apart, but with the help of friends, family and a lot of determination, she finds her inner strength and sets out to live the best life she can.

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

A: Because it’s humorous, edgy and relevant. In particular, I thought the Bali terrorist attacks added a great deal of realism. Having said that, Lucy Springer Gets Even is a light read, albeit with dark edges.



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

A: Hmm, there is a story to this. As Lucy Springer Gets Even was my first book, I didn’t have control over the book cover. I must admit that when A & U showed me the final cover proof, I was shocked. However, when the book was published and on shelf in bookshops, there was definitely no mistaking Lucy’s bright pink cover. It stands out very well!

However, I much prefer the cover of What Kate did Next, which was released in Australia in January, 2010. Interestingly, Allen & Unwin are re-releasing Lucy Springer Gets Even in Australia this coming December with a jacket cover similar to Kate’s.

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?

A: Apart from the initial promotion by Allen & Unwin when the book first came out, I have been promoting Lucy Springer Gets Even as best I can. Lucy has been reviewed in the national press in Australia and New Zealand. The book has also featured in Australasian magazines. It has appeared in a lot of online zines and book websites and I have spoken at several Australian writers’ festivals. I am also on Facebook and Twitter and use those social networking sites to promote my books where appropriate.

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

A: It’s similar to other contemporary women’s fiction books in that it’s written in first person and told with a light, humorous voice. I think Lucy Springer Gets Even is a book that women of any age will relate to especially when they read about the mayhem created by Lucy’s builders, her children, her mother, and soon to be ex-husband. I could compare it to Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella’s books in style but every book has its’ unique core.

Lucy Springer Gets Even is special because it’s a snapshot of suburban life with a twist. One point of differentiation is that I’ve never read anything about the Bali terrorist attacks in a fiction book before, so I think that makes Lucy Springer Gets Even unique.

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

A: It is a scene where Lucy receives a postcard from her husband Max, addressed to their children. On the card, he tells the kids he’s surfing in Bali and misses them. Lucy is furious and fumes that if Max is missing them so much, then why isn’t he at home with them, taking them to soccer practice and helping out with homework. Then Lucy’s bravado cracks and she gets very upset and starts asking herself questions such as why did he leave and when will he be back?

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: My second book, What Kate did Next, has just been released in Australia. It’s about Kate Cavendish, a married mother of two, who rediscovers her passion for life amidst dealing with a distant husband, a rebellious thirteen-year-old daughter, a heavily pregnant and neurotic sister, and parents who reunite after twenty years apart. Kate has a lot to deal with and her life quickly spirals out of control.

I wanted to create a snap shot of typical suburban life where the mother’s career has been sidelined in favour of keeping house and raising a family. Then ask the question: What happens when she wakes up one morning to discover that the dreams she had for herself at twenty, aren’t any closer to becoming a reality at the age of thirty-six?

Right now, I’m working on a novel about three girlfriends all at a crossroads in their lives, who take off to Santorini for a two week holiday. Those fourteen days are going to dramatically change their lives. I’m having a lot of fun writing this story, tentatively titled Claudia Changes Course.

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

A: You can follow me on Twitter @lisaheidke and visit my website and blog at www.lisaheidke.com

My books can be purchased at www.allenandunwin.com and www.amazon.com

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Interview with Claire Cook: 'I wrote my first novel in my minivan outside my daughter's swim practice'

Claire Cook is the bestselling author of seven novels, including Must Love Dogs, which was adapted into a Warner Bros. movie starring Diane Lane and John Cusack, The Wildwater Walking Club, Life’s a Beach, and her latest, Seven Year Switch. Her reinvention workshops have been featured on The Today Show, and she has been a judge for the Thurber Humor Prize and the Family Circle fiction contest. Her books have been featured on Good Morning America and in People, Good Housekeeping, Redbook and more. She has two kids, seven brothers and sisters, and one husband. She lives in Scituate, MA. You can visit her website at www.ClaireCook.com, connect with her on facebook at http://facebook.com/ClaireCookbooks or see what she's up to on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ClaireCookbooks.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Claire. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Seven Year Switch?

Thanks for having me! After decades of fear and procrastination, I wrote my first novel in my minivan outside my daughter’s swim practice when I was 45. Amazingly, it sold to the first publisher who asked to read it. At 50, I walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the movie adaptation of my second novel, Must Love Dogs. I’ve been a novelist for 10 years now, and I’m the bestselling author of seven novels. Midlife rocks!


Q: I love your title, Seven Year Switch…can you tell us why you chose it?

Thanks. It’s my seventh novel, so that’s where it started. They say that every seven years you become a completely new person, and reinvention is very much a theme in all of my novels, so that was the next step. The heroine of Seven Year Switch is a single mom who’s trying to find the courage to take the leap to her next chapter. Her husband abandoned her seven years ago, and then one day – he’s ba-ack!


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

My goal is to become a better writer with each novel. I work really hard at that, and I think I’ve done it. To me it’s the most important thing in this writing life, and also the only part an author can control. I’m also incredibly fortunate to have supportive readers who are always asking for the next book!


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

This is my fourth novel with Hyperion Voice. They value my opinion, respect how connected I am to my readers, and want me to be a happy camper. So we just keep going back and forth until we’re all satisfied. As I remember, the first few Seven Year Switch covers the cover designer came up with were great covers, but I didn’t think they were right for my audience. So I looked for some photos that had what I thought was more of the right feel, and one of those was the jumping off point. It was very much a collaborative experience, and I absolutely love the final Seven Year Switch cover. To quote the Kirkus review, “a beach tote couldn’t ask for more.”


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?

Hyperion has terrific marketing, publicity and sales departments, and they’re really behind my books, so I have lots of support. That being said, I think it’s important to bring as much energy as I can to the mix, and I do. I have an active website. I do lots of networking on Facebook and Twitter. I answer every email. I chat and Skype and do conference calls with book clubs. I tell my readers how much I appreciate them every chance I get.


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

Seven books in, I think my novels have become a brand of their own, and I don’t think they’re quite like anyone else’s. Fun, feisty, beachy, inspiring, and very much about real people. Two comments I hear all the time from readers are, “OMG, you’re writing my life,” and “I can’t remember when I laughed out loud like that.”


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

The heroine is sitting on a toilet in Costa Rica, her ankles bound in Spanx. Is that furry tickle on her ankle really a black zebra tarantula?


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Absolutely! Hyperion Voice will publish my next novel in summer 2011.


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

Thank you so much, The Writer’s Life. I hope your readers will visit my website at http://ClaireCook.com to find out more about Seven Year Switch and for writing and reinvention tips. They can also friend me on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ClaireCookbooks and follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ClaireCookbooks. Seven Year Switch is available at bookstores everywhere as well as online.


For more on Claire and her book, watch the delicious book trailer!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

But when does the real book come out?

Back when I was growing up, there was no such thing as an e-book. Heck, there was no such thing as a personal computer unless you were George Jetson. It wasn't until I was in my late thirties or early forties when I decided to knock my computer junkie son off his computer chair and claim the mouse as mine. So many doors opened for me that day and they still do.

My first introduction to ebooks was when a publisher decided to publish my children's book I had kept hiding away for 13 years. However, it was something they called an ebook. An ebook, hmm. But will it sell?

Years passed and e-readers have become the norm. More and more reviewers are open to reading full length novels over them. Authors aren't screaming (like I did) when their publisher tells them the book will first be an ebook, then if sales are good, later on we'll make it into a paperback. Instead, they're looking at it as two ways to sell one book. A win win situation.

We have a wonderful treat for you today. Vincent Zandri, author of the thriller suspense novel, The Remains, is here with us to talk the changing world of publication. His paperback novel will be out this Fall, but for $2.99, Zandri fans can get a sneak peek through their e-readers or over the computer. What a deal. Now let's hear Vincent's views on what he thinks about his latest book only available in electronic format. For now. ;o)

But When Does the Real Book Come Out???!!!
By Vincent Zandri

So it's becoming more and more the case these days that E-Book publication (and I mean everything from Kindle, to Advanced Kindle, to the new Apple thingy) is preceding the actual trade paper and/or hardcover publication by up to half a year. Such a marketing move was until very, very recently, unheard of, especially in the major New York City publishing world. But my new traditionally-based indy publisher, Stone House (soon to be Stone Gate), has just brought out my new thriller, The Remains, on Kindle while also making it available on every E-Book reader known to man and Artificial Intelligence (just head over to Smashwords). This is happening 4 to 5 months prior to the paper release!

I'm excited about the new publishing model. I’m also excited about the seemingly limitless possibilities of being published in E-Book first because number one, I make more per unit sold in this format; second, I will sell something like six or seven times more E-Books than paper inevitably; third, I will reach a far wider audience; fourth, the book will remain in "print" forever; fifth, E-Book sales will encourage paper sales down the road, especially when reviews start coming out this month (you can order your signed, first edition trade paper of The Remains here….How’s that for shameless advertising?)

Thus far, since the E-Book’s $2.99 release one week ago, it’s hit the Amazon “Hard Boiled” bestseller list everyday, and even chimed in on the Romantic Suspense Top 100 a couple of times too. As we begin to push the now bestselling novel, we foresee it hitting the Number One position in several genres, since this is a cross-genre novel that chills thrills and even inspires. The publisher also expects it to do even better as The Remains Kindle Virtual Tour progresses throughout the month of July. The tour will be accompanied by guest blog posts, interviews, a very cool trailer teaser, and of course, numerous reviews in some very cool blogs.

And here's a note of special interest: this will be my virtual publicist's first ever virtual tour for an E-Book!!!! Maybe it’s the first ever virtual tour for a virtual E-Book virtually produced anywhere in the world? How's that for a paradox born out of cyberspace?

The commercial publishing world is changing faster than some authors, agents, editors, publishers and even readers can keep up. But with Kindles and other reading devices predicted to be priced less than a $100 by X-Mas, you get a real clear sense of where the reading world is headed! Hey, maybe the look, feel and idea of a real paper book will never disappear, but E-Books are not only here to stay, they will continue to evolve at a rapid pace for years to come.

So check out The Remains on E-Book if you can. It’s an interactive experience you’ll likely become addicted to. You can always buy a hard-copy too. In fact, we encourage it.

The Remains author, 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 the bestselling, Moonlight Falls,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. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.

You can visit his website at www.vincentzandri.com or his blog at www.vincentzandri.blogspot.com.