Thursday, September 30, 2010

'The Mermaid's Pendant' LeAnn Neil Reilly on virtual book tour October & November '10

Join LeAnn Neal Reilly, author of the general fiction novel, The Mermaid’s Pendant (Zephon Books), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in October and November ‘10 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

LeAnn Neal Reilly grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri, near the Missouri River, in that fertile land where corn, children, and daydreams take root and thrive. She spent countless hours reading and typing chapters on an old Smith-Corona in her closet, which luckily for her didn’t have doors. Then she put away her daydreams and her stories and headed off, first to graduate magna cum laude from Missouri Western State University, and later to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for a master’s degree in professional writing. Along the way, she majored briefly in chemistry, served as opinion editor and then editor of her college newspaper, and interned for the international design firm Fitch RichardsonSmith in Columbus, Ohio. The highlight of her internship came when she generated the product name renata for a Copco teakettle (although designing the merchandising copy for ceramic tile adhesive and insulation packaging surely runs a close second).

After graduate school, LeAnn worked first for a small multimedia startup and then a research group in the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science. At the startup, she spent her time writing user manuals and multimedia scripts for software to train CSX railroad engineers. While working among geeks, LeAnn became enamored and decided to take one home for herself. After getting married and starting a family, she returned to her adolescent daydreams of writing novels. Never one to shirk from lofty goals, she added home schooling her three children as her day job.

After years of working in an office not much better than an unfinished closet, LeAnn has finished The Mermaid’s Pendant and is currently working on her next novel. LeAnn joined GoodReads three years ago where she writes reviews regularly.

LeAnn lives outside Boston with one husband, three children, a dog named Hobbes (after Calvin &), and a cat named Attila.

Inspired by the beloved classic The Little Mermaid, THE MERMAID’S PENDANT is a modern fairy tale about growing up and discovering who you are—and what you believe in. At times lyrical, this novel is a fantastic journey filled with magic, myth, romance, and adventure.

Four years after John Wilkerson claims the mermaid Tamarind for his wife, they have an idyllic marriage that depends on a talisman that she crafted on their island paradise. But Tamarind learns a painful truth: it takes more than legs to live on land and more than magic to sustain a bond. When the talisman breaks, she and John are forced to rely on themselves instead of magic.

Three wise women play key roles in the young lovers’ journey to mature love. Ana, Tamarind’s aging mentor, casts spells and performs seductions to keep the lovers apart. Valerie, an expat jewelry maker cum fairy godmother, works her own magic to bring them together. Lucy, their widowed neighbor, grounds the couple in the realities of marriage, parenting, and family.

THE MERMAID’S PENDANT is a story for anyone who has ever believed in the transforming power of love.

You can visit LeAnn’s Web site at www.nealreilly.com.

If you’d like to follow along with LeAnn as she tours the blogosphere in October and November, visit her official tour page at Pump Up Your Book. Lots of fun in store as you travel the blogosphere to find out more about LeAnn Neal Reilly's newest book, The Mermaid's Pendant.

Join us for the LeAnn Neal Reilly's The Mermaid's Pendant Virtual Book Tour ‘10! Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in virtual book tours. You can visit our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Recipe for Writing a Great Thriller: Ten Key Ingredients

We have a special guest today. Dean DeLuke, author of the thriller novel, Shedrow (Grey Swan Press), is here to give us the ten key ingredients for writing a great thriller. Enjoy!

* * * * *

Recipe for Writing a Great Thriller: Ten Key Ingredients by Dean DeLuke

1) Start with the big “what if.” Any great story starts with that simple “what if” question. What if a series of high-profile executives in the managed care industry are serially murdered? (Michael Palmer’s The Society) What if a multimillion dollar stallion dies suddenly under very mysterious circumstances on a supposedly secure farm in Kentucky? (Dean DeLuke’s Shedrow)

2) Put a MacGuffin to work in your story. Popularized by Alfred Hitchcock, the MacGuffin is that essential plot element that drives virtually all characters in the story. So in Shedrow, the MacGuffin would be: how did the stallion actually die?

3) Pacing is critical. Plot out the timeline of emotional highs and lows in a story. It should look like a rolling pattern of highs and lows that crescendo upward to the ultimate crisis. Take advantage of the fact that following any of those emotional peaks, you likely have the reader’s undivided attention. That would be a good time to provide backstory or fill in needed information for the reader—information that may be critical but perhaps not as exciting as what just transpired.

4) Torture your protagonists. Just when the reader thinks that the hero is finally home free, throw in another obstacle.

5) Be original, and surprise your readers. Create twists and turns that are totally unexpected, yet believable.

6) As a general rule, consider short sentences and short chapters. This is strictly a personal preference, but who can argue with James Patterson’s short chapters or with Robert Parker’s short and engaging sentences. Sentence length can be varied for effect, too, with shorter sentences serving to heighten action or increase tension.

7) Avoid the passive tense. Your readers want action.

8) Long, drawn-out descriptions of the way characters look, or even setting descriptions are easily overdone in a thriller. Stephen King advises writers to “just say what they see, then get on with the story.”

9) Assess each chapter ending and determine if the reader has been given enough reason to want to continue reading. Pose a question, end with a minor cliffhanger, or at least assure that there is enough accumulated tension in the story.

10) Edit aggressively and cut out the fluff. Ernest Hemingway once confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald, “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

Dr. Dean DeLuke is a graduate of St. Michael’s College, Columbia University (DMD) and Union Graduate College (MBA). He completed residency training at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and also participated in a fellowship in maxillofacial surgery at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, England.

He currently divides his time between the practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery and a variety of business consulting activities with Millennium Business Communications, LLC, a boutique marketing, communications and business consulting firm. An active volunteer, he has served on the Boards of the St. Clare’s Hospital Foundation, the Kidney Foundation of Northeast New York, and the Albany Academy for Girls. He has also performed medical missionary work with Health Volunteers Overseas.

He has a long history of involvement with thoroughbred horses—from farm hand on the Assunta Louis Farm in the 1970s to partner with Dogwood Stable at present.

His latest book is Shedrow, a medical thriller with a unique twist.

You can visit his website at www.shedrow1.com or connect with him at Facebook at www.facebook.com/deandeluke.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Interview with Allie Larkin, author of women's fiction 'Stay'

Allie Larkin lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband, Jeremy, their two German Shepherds, Argo and Stella, and a three-legged cat.

She is the co-founder of TheGreenists.com, a site dedicated to helping readers take simple steps toward going green.

STAY is her first novel.

You can visit Allie’s website at www.allielarkinwrites.com.

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

Thank you for having me!

Stay is my first novel. It started as a writing exercise in a college creative writing group. One of our last assignments in the class was to take a writing exercise and revise it three times, changing something substantial, like tense, point of view, or setting. I chose to revisit that writing exercise, because it was one of my worst, and I felt that I had the most room for improvement. In the third revision, I changed the point of view, and Van, the main character in Stay, showed up. I wrote a short story about Van and her best friend Janie. Once I graduated from college and got a job, I had little time to write. Then, a few years later, I was invited to join a writing group. I decided to revisit Van’s story. My intention was just to clean up the dialogue a little and start submitting it to literary magazines. But in trying to figure out how to make the story work, I started to think about what might have happened before the story started, and that’s where Stay started.


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

The working title for the book was Savannah Leone and Her Trusty Dog Joe. But as we got ready to submit the book, my agent suggested a title change. When I talked with my husband and friends about a possible title change, everyone confessed that they really didn’t love the original title. I started thinking about shorter titles. For a few weeks I thought about 2-3 word titles. But I was at the grocery story running errands one day and Stay popped into my head. I instantly knew it was the right title.

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

I love Van so much. If she were real, I’d want to be her friend. Having that love for her is what kept me going through the process of getting Stay published. When I had moments where it was hard to believe in myself, I still believed in my characters and I still wanted to tell the best story I could tell about them.


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

Monica Benalcazar at Dutton designed the cover for Stay. Apparently, it’s hard to find a stock photo of a black German Shepherd like Joe in Stay. When I heard they were having difficulties finding the right photo for the cover, I volunteered to take some photos of our German Shepherd, Argo, who was an inspiration for Stay. My husband and I took over a thousand photos of Argo to get the cover shot. As a first time author, it’s amazing to see your book on the shelves, but for me, it’s been all the more amazing to see my dog on the cover of my book.


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

I’ve been working with Ava Kavyani, who is my publicist at Dutton; but it’s also very important these days for authors to take an active role in marketing. I’ve been a blogger since 2007, and it has been so amazing to get support for the book from fellow bloggers.


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

Stay gets compared to Something Borrowed a lot. There are some very obvious differences, but explaining them would be a spoiler for both books. And, of course, Stay has a dog in it. I think Van is very earnest in her struggles. She wears her emotions so close to the surface, and I very much love that about her.


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

On page 64 Van is at the airport to pick up the German Shepherd puppy she accidentally ordered off the internet from Slovakia when she was drunk and heartbroken and watching a Rin Tin Tin marathon. When she goes to sign for the dog, she discovers that he’s not a puppy, but a 100 pound dog, and she’s terrified of him.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I’m working on something completely new now, but I do hope to revisit the characters from Stay in the future.


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

I’m on Twitter @AlliesAnswers, I blog at AllieLarkinWrites.com, TheGreenists.com, and TinyTangents.Typepad.com. And my books can be purchased wherever books are sold.
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Stay-Allie-Larkin/dp/0525951717/?_encoding=UTF8&tag=alllarwri-20

Barnes & Noble - http://search.barnesandnoble.com/books/product.aspx?EAN=9780525951711

Borders - http://www.borders.com/online/store/TitleDetail?sku=0525951717

IndieBound - http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780525951711

Interview with Children's Writer Donna McDine, Author of 'The Golden Pathway'



Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions. Donna’s stories and features have been published in many print and online publications and her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Her second book, The Hockey Agony is under contract and will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. She writes, moms and is the Publicist Intern for The National Writing for Children Center and Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Musing Our Children.

Visit Donna online at:

http://www.donnamcdine.com/
http://www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com/
http://www.thegoldenpathway.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/dmcdine
http://www.jacketflap.com/dmcdine
http://www.linkedin.com/myprofile?trk=hb_side_pro
http://www.twitter.com/dmcdine


Welcome to The Writer's Life, Donna. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, The Golden Pathway?

Thank you, it’s wonderful to be here. In 2006 I came across an ad for the Institute of Children’s Literature and eagerly completed the application and mailed it in. Happily, I was accepted and graduated April 2007 and haven’t looked back since.

History has always fascinated me, even as a young child. And when I found myself taking up residence (as an adult) in the historical hamlet of Tappan, NY (Rockland County) I became even more enthralled. Coupled with my father’s involvement with the Rockland County Historical Society in creating artist replicas of the numerous historical locations throughout the county I found myself further drawn into the past. Then as a student at the Institute of Children’s Literature I jumped at the chance to develop a historical fiction story about a young southern boy against slavery.

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

The Golden Pathway was derived from the code word for the Underground Railroad the golden path to freedom.



Why did you believe your book should be published?

At one time I would have thought this to be a difficult question, but after meeting with local educators I feel differently. During the draft stages of The Golden Pathway I came to learn many children between the ages of 8-12 remain visual learners. To write a historical fiction directly correlated towards their curriculum with illustrations by K.C. Snider makes the learning process much more interesting.

Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc., have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

The beauty of Guardian Angel Publishing is that Guardian Angel authors are included in the illustrator selection process. All of the Guardian Angel illustrators have a unique lure, and K.C. Snider's talents in historical fiction drew me in immediately. K.C. captured the true essence of The Golden Pathway from the onset and her illustrations speak for themselves.

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

I am in the midst of a two month virtual book tour coordinated by the expertise of Cheryl Malandrinos of Pump Up Your Book Promotion. I have designed my media kit, both online and print and will be mailing print media kits to local schools, libraries, historical societies, and Underground Railroad museums. I will also be participating in:

September 17, 2010 ~ 1:00-4:00 pm
Children’s Illustrated Art Museum
37 Crestwood Court
Crestwood, MO
http://www.stlciam.org/
Book fair, book signings and readings, illustrator demonstrations, and activity stations throughout museum for children

September 18, 2010 ~ 11:00-1:00 pm
Borders Bookstore
South County Mall
25 South County Center Way
St. Louis, MO
http://www.borders.com/online/store/StoreDetailView_620

September 25, 2010 ~ 11:00-1:00 pm
Harry Bennett Library
115 Vine Road
Stamford, CT
Author’s Panel: Publishing with Small Presses
Coordinated by: Stacey Moser, SCBWI Writers of Lower Fairfield http://lowerfairfieldwriters.blogspot.com/

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

Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson. The Golden Pathway differs with a white child of a slave owner helping slaves escape to freedom. Young David does not see people as their color, but everyone as human beings.

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

David’s clear attempts to remain strong and not to waiver under his father’s steely glare.

Do you plan subsequent books?

At this time I do not have a follow-up to The Golden Pathway. I currently have a manuscript entitled, The Hockey Agony under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing.

Thank you for your interview, Donna. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book? Thank you for your time and appreciate you hosting me today.

Please visit me at http://www.donnamcdine.com/, http://www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com/, http://www.thegoldenpathway.blogspot.com/, or any of the the other online places I cited in my bio.

Ordering information:

Guardian Angel Publishing: http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/pathway.htm

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Golden-Pathway-Donna-M-McDIne/dp/1616330880

Monday, September 20, 2010

J.K.'s Top Hardboiled Lines by John Knoerle

We have a special guest today. John Knoerle, author of the spy thriller novel, A Despicable Profession: Book Two of the American Spy Trilogy (Blue Steel Press), is here to talk about the top ten hardboiled lines. Enjoy!

* * * * *

J.K.'s Top Hardboiled Lines by John Knoerle

My new novel, A Despicable Profession: Book Two of the American Spy Trilogy, is part of my ongoing effort to merge the style of hardboiled fiction with the substance of the spy novel.

My friend, mystery novelist Stephen Smoke, wondered why I bothered. “Hardboiled fiction is a dead genre,” he said.

Hardboiled fiction, dead? How can such a classic part of the American cannon, that gave birth to the films noir and a thousand trenchcoat-clad, fedora-wearing private dicks, be DEAD?

But could be he’s right. Of all the popular mystery writers working today I can’t cite one who carries the torch, though the recently departed Robert B. Parker did a bang-up job of completing Raymond Chandler’s last novel “Poodle Springs.”

Some would say James Ellroy writes hardboiled fiction. Maybe so. But it’s hardboiled fiction without a shred of wit.

Perhaps modern authors feel that all the great hardboiled lines have already been written.

And who could blame them?

JK’s Top Ten Hardboiled Lines

10 – “The yellow-haired cutie shivered against me like a cat coughing
lamb chops."

- Robert Bellem, from the novel “Death's Passport”

9 – “And that didn't cut enough ice to keep a louse in cold storage."

- Sapper, from the novel “The Return of Bulldog Drummond”

8 - “The cat’s in the bag, and the bag’s in the river."

- Tony Curtis, in the film “Sweet Smell of Success”

7 - “She was a charming middle-aged lady with a face like a bucket of mud. I gave her a drink. She was a gal who'd take a drink, if she had to knock you down to get the bottle."

-- Dick Powell, in the film “Murder My Sweet”

6 - “He staggered into my office, leaned against the door, then keeled over
on his face. He should have. He was dead."

- Humphrey Bogart, in the radio version of “The Maltese Falcon”

5 - “I felt lousy. I felt like an amputated leg."

- Raymond Chandler, from the short story “Trouble Is My Business”

4 - “I hear you're a real boy scout who helps old ladies into oncoming
traffic. Downstate they're not so nice. They say you wear rubber
pockets to steal soup."

- Jack Webb, in the film “Pete Kelly's Blues”

3 - “I don't pray. Kneeling bags my nylons"

- Jan Sterling, in the film “Ace In the Hole”

2 - “Why don't we go somewhere and discuss this over a couple of ice cubes?"

“Imagine you needing ice cubes."

- Audrey Totter and Robert Montgomery, in the film “Lady in the Lake”

1 - “Because you never can tell when life, or some mysterious force, is going to put the finger on you for no good reason at all."

- Tom Neal, in the film “Detour”

Of course the greatest hardboiled dialogue sequence of all time was written by Raymond Chandler for the film “Double Indemnity,” starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck.

Walter: I wish you'd tell me what's engraved on that anklet.
Phyllis: Just my name.
Walter: As for instance?
Phyllis: Phyllis.
Walter: Phyllis, huh. I think I like that.
Phyllis: But you're not sure.
Walter: I'd have to drive it around the block a couple of times.
Phyllis: Mr. Neff, why don't you drop by tomorrow evening around 8:30? He'll be in then.
Walter: Who?
Phyllis: My husband. You were anxious to talk to him, weren't you?
Walter: Yeah, I was. But I'm sort of getting over the idea, if you know what I mean.
Phyllis: There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff, 45 miles an hour.
Walter: How fast was I going, Officer?
Phyllis: I'd say around 90.
Walter: Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.
Phyllis: Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.
Walter: Suppose it doesn't take.
Phyllis: Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.
Walter: Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.
Phyllis: Suppose you try putting it on my husband's shoulder.
Walter: That tears it. 8:30 tomorrow evening then.
Phyllis: That's what I suggested.
Walter: You'll be here too?
Phyllis: I guess so. I usually am.
Walter: Same chair, same perfume, same anklet?
Phyllis: I wonder if I know what you mean.
Walter: I wonder if you wonder.

Dead, my foot. Writing that good is eternal!

John Knoerle was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1949 and migrated to California with his family in the 1960s. He has worked as a stand-up comic, a voiceover actor and a radio reporter. He wrote the screenplay for “Quiet Fire,” which starred Karen Black and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs, and the stage play “The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club,” an LA Time’s Critics Choice. John also worked as a writer for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Knoerle’s first novel, Crystal Meth Cowboys, published in 2003, was optioned by Fox TV. His second novel, The Violin Player,won the Mayhaven Award for Fiction. Knoerle is currently at work on The American Spy Trilogy. Book One, A Pure Double Cross, came out in 2008. Book Two, A Despicable Profession, was published in August of 2010.

John Knoerle currently lives in Chicago with his wife, Judie.

You can visit his website at www.bluesteelpress.com.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blue Bells of Scotland: An Interview with Historical Fiction Author Laura Vosika

Laura Vosika grew up in the military, visiting castles in England, pig fests in Germany, and the historic sites of America’s east coast.

She earned a degree in music, and worked for many years as a freelance musician, music teacher, band director, and instructor in private music lessons on harp, piano, winds, and brass.

Laura is the mother of 7 boys and 2 girls, and lives in Minnesota.

Her latest book is Blue Bells of Scotland: The Trilogy.

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

Welcome to The Writers Life, Laura. Can you tell us how long you've been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Blue Bells of Scotland?

Blue Bells of Scotland
is my debut novel, so I would have to say I've been writing professionally for a year. I've been writing, however, since I was 8, and finished my first novel when I was 24.


I love the title...can you tell us why you chose it?

Blue Bells of Scotland is an old folk song, which was later arranged as a theme and variations to show off what trombones are capable of. Shawn, one of the main characters in Blue Bells of Scotland, is a professional trombonist, and the novel reflects some of the themes in the folk song, the idea of young men leaving for war, of noble deeds, and streaming banners.


Why did you believe your book should be published?

It was getting a lot of good feedback, other writers were encouraging me that it should be out there, people were asking for copies, and I felt it had a good story people would enjoy, along with a good message.


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

I designed the cover myself, so it's everything I had in mind! I used a picture I took of Castle Urquhart, one of the models for Niall's Castle Glenmirril, during my research trip to Scotland.


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?

Until joining Pump Up Your Book, I've done all the marketing myself. I primarily use the internet, because, with 9 children and teaching music lessons 5 days a week, I don't currently have a great deal of flexibility for travel
.

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

Almost infallibly, people ask if it's like Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Yes and no. Blue Bells of Scotland involves time travel, adventure, battles, romance, and historic Scotland. Blue Bells of Scotland, however, focuses more on the lives of Shawn and Niall, whereas The Outlander Series focuses on the relationship between Jamie and Claire. My trilogy is about Shawn's and Niall's attempts to overcome the obstacles in one another's lives to get back to their own time, and, later, about the personal challenges and changes each goes through as a result of the switch. It has deeper themes of forgiveness and redemption running beneath the adventures.


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

On p 182, Shawn, the womanizing musician, has been hiking through the hills with his beautiful guide, Allene, still with no clue he's switched times. He has just tried kissing her—and more. She didn't appreciate it the way his amorous groupies usually do, and stabbed him in the hand. In a rage, but with nowhere else to go in the middle of the night, he continues stomping through the dark Scottish Highlands, following her and blaming everyone but himself for his troubles.


Do you plan subsequent books?

Absolutely! Blue Bells of Scotland is the first of a trilogy. I'm editing book 2 right now (The Minstrel Boy), and have written half of book 3 (The Castle of Dromore.) Besides finishing The Blue Bells Trilogy, I have several other novels in various stages from planning to completely written. I have about 100 pages of a non-fiction on large families waiting to be finished, and I've been compiling my research for Blue Bells to write a non-fiction on the history behind the story, which is full of incredible people and stories.


Thank you for your interview, Laura. 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 for having me! Blue Bells of Scotland is available on amazon at http://tinyurl.com/3y27u87

Signed copies can be ordered from my site:www.bluebellstrilogy.com

I blog on writing, medieval history, Scotland and other medieval fiction at www.bluebellstrilogy.com/blog

I am on twitter at www.twitter.com/lauravosika. I give writers' updates at http://www.facebook.com/NightWritersBooks


What Your Readers and Book Buyers Want to Know About You and What You Need to Know About Them by Dorothy Thompson

Every now and then, I’ll have an author ask me what they should write about when asked to write guest posts or what emphasis they should concentrate on when answering questions in interviews or just what they should do to create the most impact on their book buying public without becoming overbearing, pompous or downright horn-tooting obnoxious.

The first thing I tell them is get out of the mindset that you’ll be getting on peoples’ nerves with all this horn blowing and get on with the matter at hand. You are out to sell your book. Without you tooting or someone else you pay to toot for you, you might as well kiss your book sales goodbye.

Good publicity relies on these things:

  1. Perseverance

  2. Hard work

  3. Dedication

I’m sure that you know this and I’m sure you’ve got all three of those qualities going on for you, but good publicity also requires this:

  1. Knowing what common sense rules to follow when promoting your book

  2. Realizing that researching your subject in off before, during and after it’s published leads to successful promotions later

  3. Networking, schmoozing and generally getting your fans to adore you

Knowing what common sense rules to follow when promoting your book takes practice and experience. Unless you are out there noticing how other authors are promoting, you probably haven’t a clue. Are those emails coming from a certain author, publisher or publicist who has added your email to their email lists getting on your nerves by their promotional email blasts? Number One rule is never sign up anyone to your email list without their permission. I know no one is going to heed my advice but when this happens to me, I’m quick to delete and hit spam. However, if it is someone with whom you have connected in the past, they’re open bait and if they wish to unsubscribe, delete, hit spam, that’s on them but the odds are in your favor they’ll stick with you.

Researching your subject after the book has been written sounds a bit confusing, doesn’t it? Let me explain. Joe has written a book on fly fishing while Mary has written a romance novel. Both Joe and Mary have elected to promote on their own. Joe goes about the normal promotional procedures like putting up a website and/or blog and wishing for the best, but Mary decides she’s going to put her book subject in Google Alerts to find out what others are talking about relating to her book. Mary also loves to blog so she has elected to visit blogs that concentrate on her genre. Mary also has decided to pick out certain topics, locals, etc., within her book and researched them to find other like-minded people out there blogging about the same subjects in her book. Joe feels all alone in his self-promotional journey while Mary has made lots of friends, which has resulted in lots of sales.

Networking, schmoozing and generally getting your fans to adore you rounds out my third point which ties into researching your subject. Once you have found the many people out there who absolutely loves your work and loves to hear as much as they can about your book and you, treasure them like gold nuggets. These are your fans. These are the people who follow you like shadows on a moonlit night. These are the people you need to nurture. These are the very people that you must pay close attention to and never let them feel you’re just another name on another book. They are your book’s lifeline.

When you can find that happy medium between what your book buyers want to know about you and what you should know about them, book promotion gets a little bit easier.

© Dorothy Thompson All Rights Reserved

Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion. Visit us at www.pumpupyourbook and let us take you to the virtual level!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Ice Cream Theory: An Interview with Steff Deschenes

Despite a failed attempt at majoring in ice cream in college, Steff Deschenes is a self-taught ice-cream guru. After publishing the now twelve-time award-winning The Ice Cream Theory, she began exploring food on a more universal level. As a result, she now photo blogs daily herself at dinner and the challenges of being a vegetarian in a predominantly seafood-oriented state. Steff also writes two articles a week entitled “Maybe It’s Me” (personal essays and reflection on life and the living of it) and “Fact Is Better” (real life conversations she couldn’t make up if she tried); all of which can be found at www.steffdeschenes.com. You can also visit her at www.theicecreamtheory.com.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Steff. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, The Ice Cream Theory?

When I was a sophomore in high school I had my heart broken (it was one of those superficial, silly teenage girl heartbreaks, but still!) for the first time and nothing seemed to heal the wound like friends and ice cream did. About the same time, I wrote a research paper on the strike zone in major league baseball and, as a result, one of the newspapers in Maine hired me on to be a sports clerk (which is basically an on-desk reporter). I began writing professionally at that point. I worked for the newspaper for seven years; towards the end of that time, when I had a break between writing games, I would write bits and pieces of The Ice Cream Theory. A couple years after leaving the sports department, I had the opportunity to move to England and finish writing my book, and jumped at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When it was complete and I was living back stateside I gave myself a year to be published traditionally, and finally just ended up publishing the book myself because I believed so much in it.

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

Because that was what the concept was originally called when my friends and I were using it to explain, compare, and rationalize different people’s relationships to us. “Did you hear Steff’s theory about ice cream?” Quickly became, “Tell them about your ice cream theory!” It’s simple, it’s to the point, and it’s just what it needs to be!


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

I thought it was a really exceptional idea, given that I had never seen or heard anyone else use food in such detailed metaphor before. After The Ice Cream Theory won its first award, I remember thinking it must have been a fluke or that the judges were just throwing me a bone. But ten awards later I knew without a doubt that there really was something very unique about The Ice Cream Theory and it was being recognized frequently. I began hearing positive things from teenage girls, twenty-something boys, and women in their fifties. When you can create something that appeals to such a vast group, then you’ve got something really quite special.


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

Originally BookSurge gave me two options, neither of which I was pleased with. So, with lined paper I had ripped from an old college notebook and a broken pencil I drew the basic concept of what I wanted the cover to look like. I ended up hiring a graphic designer – Nate Horn – to then take my cryptic, skeletal drawing and make it come to life. He did a phenomenal job at plucking exactly what I wanted out my head and putting it onto paper. To see the exact image I had pictured in my head come to life was one of the coolest things I’d ever been a part of. I couldn’t be happier with the cover – I wanted something colorful and simple that would catch the reader’s eye, and I think I accomplished that.


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

I’ve actually worked in marketing for a few years now, so I initially took on the entire marketing project on my own, applying what I knew from the fields I’d worked in to the publishing world. It’s only been within the past two months that I’ve relinquished some control and have created a “team” – which is a group of my friends that have very valuable skill sets who I think can help (and who genuinely want to help, despite being paid in only hugs!) me take on what’s become the monstrous task of marketing and promoting! I just can’t be a one-man operation anymore if I want to catapult The Ice Cream Theory into bigger and better things.


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

I think the book it most gets compared to is Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert. The difference between the two books is that Eat, Love, Pray is difficult, in my opinion, to really relate to. The book is about a woman who post-divorce travels the world to find herself. I don’t know many women these days that have absolutely no loose-ends of some kind after a major separation where they can simply jet set carefree like Gilbert did. I also don’t know many people who have vast amounts of disposable income to blow like that either. Soul searching and self discovery are very personal things that most people, I think, find in the quiet, humbleness of everyday life. You certainly don’t need to run-away to find yourself (and most people can’t anyway).

The Ice Cream Theory does an exceptional job at taking these same emotions, desires, and life lessons Gilbert had in her book, but puts them in a more attainable, real-world context.

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

Apparently, I’m discussing how I went on twenty-five first dates in a three-month period, which I claim is the equivalent to opening twenty-five gallons of different flavored ice cream, lining them all up one after another, and then running my tongue across them in one swift movement. What would follow that, of course, but a major ice cream headache!


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

No! I made a promise to myself when this whole thing started that there would never be a part two to The Ice Cream Theory. Nothing is ever as good as the original, in my opinion. Besides, I think I did an excellent job of excluding any social, pop, or brand references so that the book could have an extended shelf life unaffected by the changing outside world.


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

For more information on The Ice Cream Theory, you can check out TheIceCreamTheory.com. The book even has its own Facebook Fan Page – be sure to join!

The Ice Cream Theory is available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, along with a few independent book stores throughout coastal and northern Maine.

Thank you so, so much for this opportunity!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Terminal Care: An Interview with Christopher Stookey

Christopher Stookey, MD, is a practicing emergency physician, and he is passionate about medicine and health care. However, his other great interests are literature and writing, and he has steadily published a number of short stories and essays over the past ten years. His most recent essay, “First in My Class,” appears in the book BECOMING A DOCTOR (published by W. W. Norton & Co, March 2010); the essay describes Dr. Stookey’s wrenching involvement in a malpractice lawsuit when he was a new resident, fresh out of medical school. TERMINAL CARE, a medical mystery thriller, is his first novel. The book, set in San Francisco, explores the unsavory world of big-business pharmaceuticals as well as the sad and tragic world of the Alzheimer’s ward at a medical research hospital. Stookey’s other interests include jogging in the greenbelts near his home and surfing (he promises his next novel will feature a surfer as a main character). He lives in Laguna Beach, California with his wife and three dogs.

To find out more about Chris, visit his Amazon’s author page at http://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Stookey/e/B003UVLDI4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0.


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

I sold my first magazine short story about fifteen years ago. So, if getting paid for something you’ve written is the mark of a “professional” writer, then I went “pro” back then. However, over the next ten years, if I made $500 in a year with my writing, I considered it a good year. I’ve always kept my day job.

Up until I began writing Terminal Care, writing had been mainly a hobby for me. I wrote short stories and essays. Sometimes my efforts were compensated with nothing more than a couple free copies of the journal in which the essay or story had been published.

But, when I say writing was a “hobby,” that doesn’t mean I didn’t take writing seriously. In fact, I’d always wanted to be a writer. I was an English major in college. I wanted to write novels.

Then, one day in college, I read a depressing statistic: something like only thirty or so novelists in the US are able to support themselves solely by novel writing. I’m a practical person by nature. I began to get cold feet about supporting myself as a novelist.

I began thinking about a back-up career. I started taking pre-med classes.

My parents, I might add, were ecstatic.

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

There’s a kind of funny story behind that. The original title was Death on the East Annex. When it came time to make the cover art for the book, the artist didn’t know the name of the book. He drew up the artwork, and then, just to put something in the title area, he drew in Terminal Care.

My publisher liked the artist’s title better than my own. He thought it was more foreboding and evocative. So, we went with it.


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

Well, first of all, I think it’s a fun mystery/thriller, and I think people will enjoy reading it.

Beyond that, however, I think there’s an important message contained in the book. The book is really about greed and corruption in the pharmaceutical industry. It tells the story of how drugs are tested and brought to market, and readers might be surprised to learn that much of this process focuses more on drug company profit than on treating disease and patient safety.

I think this is a message worth getting out there.

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

The artwork on the cover shows a gloved hand holding a syringe. A drop of blood is dripping from the needle of the syringe.

My publisher and I collaborated on coming up with the cover art. The cover hints at the main action in the book which is about a new, experimental drug for Alzheimer’s disease. A team of neurologists are giving syringe injections of the drug to patients on a hospital ward. Some of these patients end up dying. The question is why.

The syringe with the blood dripping from the tip offers a possible, albeit symbolic, clue.


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

I’m doing most of the marketing myself. I’m not big on book signings and public readings. I’m a shy person, and I’m a horrible salesman. I just can’t bring myself to try, face-to-face, to convince someone to buy something they might otherwise not have wanted.

Consequently, I’m just trying to let people know about the book, and then they can decide on their own if they want to buy it.

I like the idea of using the Internet to do this. Thus, I’m doing a so-called “virtual book tour.” The book is reviewed by bloggers on literary websites, and I do online interviews (like this one).


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

The book is a medical thriller, and, as such, it’s comparable to many of the medical thrillers by Robin Cook. One of Cook’s books, Acceptable Risk, also deals with drug experimentation.

My book, however, deals more directly with the way drug companies test drugs for safety and efficacy and with the conflicts of interest inherent to the present system.

Just to give one example of this: the book shows how safety trials of drugs are often sponsored by the drug companies, themselves. This is like the tobacco industry sponsoring safety trials on cigarettes.

In a sense, my book is really most like the non-fiction book by Marcia Angell, The Truth About Drug Companies, a scorching critique of the pharmaceutical industry. Think of Terminal Care as the fiction version of Angell’s book.


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

I have opened to page 191. The two main protagonists of the book, Dr. Clara Wong and Dr. Phil Pescoe, are doing a secret, late-night visit to the morgue at Deaconess Hospital.

Wong and Pescoe suspect the experimental drug being administered to patients at the hospital might have a serious, sometimes lethal side effect. They decide to surreptitiously look over the post-autopsy body of one of the patients who has died. Much to their surprise, they discover the autopsy is incomplete, and the corpse’s heart is missing.

What is going on here? Incomplete autopsy. Missing heart. Not only has the visit to the morgue not answered any questions, it has raised new ones.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes. On my recent jogs through the greenbelt near my house (where I get most of my writing ideas), I’ve been drawing up characters and mapping out plotlines for a new medical thriller. This one will deal with the glitz and greed of the cosmetic medicine industry. I’ve already go me hero—again, a female doctor—pretty much sketched out.


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

I have an author’s page at Amazon.com. The page includes an author’s blog and a section for readers’ discussion. The address is:

http://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Stookey/e/B003UVLDI4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

The book, itself, is available at Amazon.com and at BarnesandNoble.com.

Interview with Tom Graneau - Author of 'Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America '

Tom Graneau is the author of Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America. Lately, he spent roughly ten years as a financial management coach, conducting workshops and private consultations for people in the military, government agencies, and the civilian community. His first book, Are You Financially Checkmate?, was published in 2005 and is now being revised.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Tom. Can you tell us what your latest book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America, is all about?

A: The real estate industry, including banks, mortgage companies, the government, and various other organizations have come together with one voice, claiming that home ownership is the most reliable path for financial prosperity. Presently, most Americans (70 percent, down from 83 percent in 2003) are preoccupied over the idea of owning a home as a financial investment.

However, based on historical trends and statistical facts, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America debunks the wealth claim linked to home ownership. On the contrary, when the opportunity for wealth building is compared between home buyers and renters, those who rent have greater propensity for financial success. Data indicates that those who have purchased homes (in some cases, more than once) are not necessarily better off financially than those who haven’t.

For instance, more than 85 percent of the 78 million baby boomers in the United States are home owners. Many of them have bought and sold several homes. Yet, close to 90 percent of them are broke. The curious question is, where is the wealth earned from the home. Additionally, more than 2/3 (78 percent) of American families are home owners. Nonetheless, the majority of them are strapped for cash, have little or no retirement savings, and are deep in debt. Renters Win, Home Owners Lose is a stunning, thought-provoking work that unravels the realities of home ownership. All told, renting is a wiser choice than buying.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: The inspiration for Renters Win, Home Owners Lose essentially started in 1996. While sitting in an economic class for a Bachelor of Science Degree, it occurred to me that most people in the United States are broke.

By that time, many of my fellow students had admitted, in one way or another, that they were borrowing money for college—thousands of dollars in student loans that would take years to pay back. Furthermore, during my course of business, I noticed that more and more people used credit cards for purchases instead of cash.

Interestingly, I was in the same financial predicament. I was using credit cards to pay for things, not because it was convenient to do so, I simply did not have the cash available. At the time, I had recently separated from the military and had difficulty finding a job without a degree that paid more than the minimum wage. My six-dollar an hour job was barely enough to pay for essentials. To make matters worse, I was receiving foreclosure threats from my lender who was demanding money to bring the mortgage current. Meanwhile, my credit card balances were skyrocketing.

My desire to improve my situation led to research, which confirmed my suspicion about the financial condition of the masses. I discovered that the majority of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck regardless of income, education, or career position. The root problems are many, but nothing consumes more of our hard-earned income than the homes we buy. Hence the book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America.



Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

A: Most of my research was based on reference materials. The Statistical Abstract of the United States (2001 through 2009) served as a vital resource. Other sources included the annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), current events, personal experience, and clients’ contribution.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

A: Common wisdom suggests that home ownership is one of the best pathways to financial prosperity. In reality, however, the concept works against people’s goals and expectations. Most people lose money on the property, often without realizing it. Instead, a person can be equally safe, comfortable, and wildly successful by choosing to rent while investing the extra money that would be “wasted” on a home.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?

A: It is often said that writing a book is easy; publishing it is hard. This concept is partially true since writing itself is not easy. These days, any book can be published with money. But for one who has little or none of it, reaching the public with a message (fiction or nonfiction) can be difficult. My approach has been self-publishing through a reputable publishing house and using a systematic approach to promote the book. I am currently using, or have plans to use, the following mediums:

1. Partnership: Forming alliances with companies who believe in the spirit or philosophy of the book.

2. Radio Interviews: I believe, with the right message, one can reach a wide audience quickly, in the least expensive way.

3. Publicity: Publicity is the next best effective method of promoting books. I plan to experiment with various press releases at regular intervals, hoping to obtain free national press coverage through print and broadcast media.

4. Social Media: This medium has worked well for some authors. I’m currently experimenting with it.

5. Book Reviews: Knowing how others feel about my book is important in the on-going effort of promoting it. Independent reviews are known to facilitate book sales. I’m continually seeking ways to get additional book reviews.

6. E-mail Marketing Campaigns: Opt-in e-mail marketing is another good way of reaching people for book sales. The results are more effective when the list belongs to the author.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Beyond Justice: An Interview with Joshua Graham

Joshua Graham grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where he lived for the better part of 30 years. He holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree and went on to earn his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. During his time in Maryland, he taught as a professor at Shepherd College (WV), Western Maryland College, and Columbia Union College (MD).

Today he lives with his beautiful wife and children in San Diego. Several of Graham’s short fiction works have been published by Pocket Books and Dawn Treader Press under different pen names.

Beyond Justice is now available in Trade Paperback through Amazon.com as well as Barnes and Noble. It’s available at the Kindle store for $2.99 for a limited time, and can be purchased for other ebook readers at Smashwords, and is now available for the iPad and iPhone at the Apple iBooks store.

A member of the Oregon Writers Network, Graham is a graduate of the Master Classes and professional writing workshops held by Dean W. Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Dean and Kris and the entire OWN, have been a major influence in his journey to become a published writer. You can visit his website at www.joshua-graham.com, connect with him on facebook at www.facebook.com/j0shuagraham or twitter at www.twitter.com/j0shuagraham.

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

It’s an honor to be here. In my various job interviews over the years, one question always comes up: How did you go from music, into Information Technology, into writing? All I can say is that I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to make a living doing what I’m passionate about.

I’ve been writing fiction since probably the first grade. My earliest memory was having my First Grade teacher bring to my parents’ attention a little story I wrote about a family on a cruise whose child falls overboard, and the dramatic rescue! I kid you not. Since then, I have always loved writing stories and scripts for school and church plays and movies. But I seriously started writing in 2002 and made my first three professional sales to Pocket Books between 2005-2007.


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

Beyond Justice is a journey into the most character defining moments of a person’s life. You don’t know your true character until you are put under extreme stress. The choices you make, the actions you take during these times are what reveal your true character.

I was listening to a sermon by Dr. Luke Chen once about forgiveness and he mentioned the story of Dennis Rader, aka the BTK serial killer, and how he had fooled everyone (even his family and church) that he was an ordinary, decent person. The story inspired me to delve into this question: Are there any limits to forgiveness, especially divine forgiveness?


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

Dealing with the emotional pain that my characters had to face. I put myself in their shoes and try my best to imagine, picture, and feel what they are feeling. When you read the opening chapters, you’ll see why I was in tears as I wrote them. As a husband and father, this was one of the most difficult scenes I ever had to write. It’s a place you don’t ever want to think about, much less live out the details in your head. But for that reason, I had to write it.


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: http://joshua-graham.com/?page_id=5

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 appeared on a podcast interview with Jeff Ayers of Author Magazine: http://authormagazine.org/interviews/interview_page_graham.htm

There are plans for me to be interviewed with Suspense Magazine’s radio show.


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?

I don’t have an agent at the moment. I might hire one in the future if the conditions are right.


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?

I’ve only done a bit of media publicity with my publisher (press releases, a few interviews and reviews on blogs.)

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

In the works, I have another book (the first in a series) called Darkroom, in which the Daughter of Vietnam War photojournalist experiences visions of war atrocities and uncovers a forty-year-old conspiracy for which some are still willing to kill. I also have several stories and collections coming out.

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

You are most welcome, thank you for the opportunity.


Beyond Justice can be purchased in trade paperback or for the Kindle at Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Justice-Joshua-Graham/dp/0984452605/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1281988173&sr=1-1

It is also available for iPad, iPHone, etc, at the iBooks store.

For SONY EReader fans you can buy it at the Reader Store
http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/joshua-graham/beyond-justice/_/R-400000000000000256622

And for all ebook formats (NOOK included) you can purchase it at Smashwords.com
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/18063

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Interview with Dean DeLuke, author of 'Shedrow'

Dr. Dean DeLuke is a graduate of St. Michael’s College, Columbia University (DMD) and Union Graduate College (MBA). He completed residency training at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and also participated in a fellowship in maxillofacial surgery at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, England.

He currently divides his time between the practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery and a variety of business consulting activities with Millennium Business Communications, LLC, a boutique marketing, communications and business consulting firm. An active volunteer, he has served on the Boards of the St. Clare’s Hospital Foundation, the Kidney Foundation of Northeast New York, and the Albany Academy for Girls. He has also performed medical missionary work with Health Volunteers Overseas.

He has a long history of involvement with thoroughbred horses—from farm hand on the Assunta Louis Farm in the 1970s to partner with Dogwood Stable at present.

His latest book is Shedrow, a medical thriller with a unique twist.

You can visit his website at www.shedrow1.com or connect with him at Facebook at www.facebook.com/deandeluke.

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

I had previously published a variety of works related to my profession, but I set my mind to a work of fiction after meeting novelists Robert Dugoni, Michael Palmer and Tess Gerritsen. Palmer and Gerritsen, both best-selling authors, also had careers as physicians, and Dugoni was a practicing attorney for many years before he published his first best-seller. So I did my best to study the craft and learn from three of the best, participating in several writing workshops sponsored by SEAK, Inc. and featuring Palmer, Gerritsen and Dugoni. As for my longstanding interest in books and writing, I credit a host of inspirational secondary school teachers at the Albany Academy, a school that counts among its alumni Herman Melville, Stephen Vincent Benet and Andy Rooney.”

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

To horse lovers and thoroughbred race enthusiasts, the word Shedrow is instantly recognized as a row of barns at a race track. The word may be less familiar to others, but I like the single word title, like some of the Dick Francis classics: Nerve, Forfeit, Risk, Silks, Knock-Down. I think Shedrow is in the same spirit, plus there has never been a title by that name.


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

Well, all authors naturally think their work should be published. In my case, I spent a year getting to a rough draft, and another full year of refinement and critique by some very good writers. By the time my editor received it, SHEDROW already had very positive endorsements from some best-selling authors.


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

One of the advantages of working with a small press is that the author does have greater creative control. I knew from the outset that I wanted to use a modification of a photograph by Barbara Livingston. She is a great equine photographer with good name recognition—people know and respect her work. But it was my editor, Jim Kelley, who found the photo that we actually ended up using. It was perfect, because it shows a horse and a man standing near a shedrow, and the lighting has a very mysterious quality to it—what better for a horse racing mystery entitled SHEDROW.


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

I have worked with a traditional book publicist, Kelley and Hall, and a virtual publicist, Pump Up Your Book. But no author, or at least no debut author, should expect that the marketing will be done for them. It’s hard work, and in some ways I have worked as hard on the marketing as I have on the writing of SHEDROW.


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

SHEDROW is a racetrack thriller in the spirit of Dick Francis, but since the principal character is a surgeon rather than a barrister, it has a good deal of medical drama. So think Tess Gerritsen or Michael Palmer. They were two of my mentors, after all. Add fast-paced, short chapters and it’s reminiscent of James Patterson in that respect.


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

The main character, Dr, Anthony Gianni is seated at a metal table in an old warehouse. His hands are bound behind his back and two men are glaring at him. One of them is wearing a starched, white dress shirt, sleeves rolled neatly to the middle of his massive forearms. A ski mask, open at the forehead, conceals his face. The second man wears no disguise. He has longish hair slicked back neatly, white at the sides, darker on top. His brow is furrowed in a scowl, amplifying deep frown lines between his black-looking eyes. The man in the ski mask unveils a tray of surgical instruments, struggles to put surgical gloves over his massive hands, and reaches for a large scalpel blade. He tells Gianni that he is prepared to do some “surgery” on the doctor’s fingers—unless he cooperates by providing some information.


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I am working on a sequel to SHEDROW. There is plenty of room for further character development and more story lines.


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

The website is at www.shedrow1.com and the book is readily available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

'The Perfect Family' Kathryn Shay talks acceptance

We have a special guest today. Kathryn Shay, author of of the women's mainstream novel, The Perfect Family (Bold Strokes Books), is here to talk about acceptance. Visit Kathryn at www.kathrynshay.com.

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Acceptance

By Kathryn Shay

Dear Writer’s Life Readers,

Thanks so much for allowing me to blog on your site. I appreciate the opportunity.

First, let me introduce myself and my new book. I’m Kathryn Shay and I’ve been published by Harlequin and The Berkley Publishing Group for the last fifteen years. The Perfect Family, released from Bold Strokes Books, is my thirty-seventh book. My work has been characterized by reviewers and readers as highly emotional, poignant and heart wrenching.

The Perfect Family follows the Davidsons, an average American family with a good life and they consider themselves lucky to have each other. Then their seventeen year old son tells them he’s gay and their world shifts. They have no idea what they will go through after Jamie’s disclosure: Jamie's father Mike can't reconcile his religious beliefs with his son's sexuality. His brother Brian is harassed by his jock buddies and angry at Jamie for complicating all their lives. Maggie, his mother, fears being able to protect her son while struggling to save her crumbling marriage. And Jamie feels guilty for the unhappiness his disclosure has caused. Their story is full of both conflict and love, ending on a redeeming note.

Basically, this book is about acceptance. Most people want to be accepted. We join churches, community groups and partake in common activities to be with people who are like us and who share the same interests. We play on sports teams and become fans of athletes, TV shows and music stars. Participating with others makes us feel included, like our friends and neighbors, in sync. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. It’s how we manage to stay sane in a pretty alienated world.

What is wrong is when we’re not accepted for who we are, when people isolate us because of our religion, skin color, nationality, belief system or a sexual orientation. This happens in The Perfect Family. When the main character, Jamie, comes out gay, he faces many rejections for who he is. But his biggest fear is rejection by his family. He has the most problems with his dad, and although they come through this process closer than ever, it’s a tough experience for them. Each learns to be more tolerant and understanding of the other.

Jamie also has to deal with other people who are unable to accept him. His best friend from childhood tells him God doesn’t want her to associate with a gay person; his neighbor un-invites him to a pre-prom party because he’s going with a boy; even his brother has difficulty with Jamie’s sexual orientation.

My wish for this book is that people read it and understand the need for tolerance, acceptance and unconditional love for those who are different from us. Overall, I hope my readers see an interesting family, a different kind of plot and some important messages about life.

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Interview with Steven Honigberg: 'I grew up wanting to be a soloist...just like Leonard Rose'

As author and professional cellist, Steven Honigberg, complements his biography’s subject with a musician’s ear for language and the highest technical expertise. He currently plays on a 1732 Stradivarius (the “Stuart”), holds degrees from The Juilliard School, and combined with experience writing about legendary cellists, has produced a comprehensive first biography of America’s “first cellist.”

In 1984, the author was handpicked by cellist-conductor Msistlav Rostropovich to join the National Symphony Orchestra, a position he holds to this day. Within months, he graduated from college, presented his New York recital debut, appeared as soloist in Alice Tully Hall, and accepted the Washington job. And Leonard Rose died.

The author’s writing career began shortly after he settled in Washington, D.C. Most of his published work has focused on short biographies of renowned cellists. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, for a professional music trade publication, he wrote a series of columns under the heading “Remembering the Legends.” A few subjects were Leonard Rose, Pierre Fournier, and Frank Miller (who was Rose’s cousin and during Rose’s teenage years, a mentor).

His latest book is Leonard Rose: America’s Golden Age and Its First Cellist.

You can visit his author page at http://leonardrose.beckhamhouse.com/.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Steven. Can you tell us what your latest book, Leonard Rose: America’s Golden Age and Its First Cellist, is all about?

Leonard Rose (1918 –1984), the great American cellist, was considered one of the most important teachers and musicians of the twentieth century. This biography portrays a complex individual during a period of tremendous individualism. I explore his sympathetic nature, his unyielding devotion to the cello, and, inevitably, his failings. Throughout, the reader sees Rose among the countless musical figures he affected as well as those who affected him.


Q: How did you come up with the idea?

Since Leonard Rose’s death in 1984, I waited for something substantial to be written about his life. In October 2003, the great pianist Eugene Istomin passed away at 77. Two years before, the venerable violinist, Isaac Stern, passed. My realization that the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio departed my world jolted me. In 2004, I took it upon myself to do the necessary work to write this book. Certainly I experienced ups and downs along the six-year journey. I finally resolved that it didn’t matter how much time it would take, I felt confident that the book would be published.


Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

The very first thing I did was contact, by email, through the courtesy of the Juilliard School in New York and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, those who studied with Mr. Rose. After introducing myself, I asked if they cared to respond about their memories of Mr. Rose. The replies were wonderful. To my delight, some of students Mr. Rose taught in the 1940s & 1950s wanted to talk with me in person. Also at my front door, courtesy of Mr. Rose’s daughter, Barbara, arrived the memoir Mr. Rose had dictated several years before he died. In the ensuing months, I organized the cellist’s rambling thoughts and stories into categories. Leonard Rose performed with and taught some of the most important musicians in musical history: Toscanini, Van Cliburn, Bernstein, Walter, Stokowski, Szell, Ormandy, Maazel, Mitropoulos, Rodzinski, Stravinsky, Bartok, Mennin, Schuman, Casals, Salmond, Rostropovich, Piatigorsky, Feuermann, Fournier, Miller, Ma, Harrell, Hofmann, Rachmaninoff, Rubinstein, Horowitz, Casadesus, Kapell, Arrau, Schnabel, Levant, Graffman, Fleisher, Serkin, Myra Hess, Istomin, Ax, Heifetz, Szigeti, Morini, Galamian, Corigliano, Fuchs, Milstein, Thibaud, Francescatti, Huberman, Menuhin, Neveu, Stern, Perlman, Zukerman, Laredo, Shumsky… In addition I tore through books – biography after biography – of other cellists, pianists, composers, actors, even presidents. And for several years I collected marvelous photos: from his son, from Juilliard and Curtis, Lincoln Center’s Performing Arts Library, and Library of Congress. I had shots of him from his childhood, adolescence, professional photos, a New York Times photo (with Bernstein at his historic debut), from the Stratford Festival with all kinds of shots with the eccentric Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, and from the walls of Marta Casals Istomin which included a snapshot of Rose with President Kennedy at the White House, a mere 18 months before the president was assassinated. Leonard Rose was a handsome man at 5’ 8” with slicked back black hair, prominent nose and a serious, no nonsense look. At the back of my book, 8 appendices deal with the orchestra repertoire he performed and who conducted these works; the famous soloists with whom he collaborated – dates and repertoire; major orchestras in this country with whom he soloed – repertoire, conductor and dates; the music library he left for future generations; his complete discography – dates of recordings, conductors and critical reviews; Stratford music festival and performances with Glenn Gould; summer festivals with Roy Harris in 1948 and in 1949. In chapter 14 – Rose’s Career Ignites – I chronicle a decade of concerts with repertoire and reviews from papers all over the country.


Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

Naively, I grew up wanting to be a soloist – not knowing a whole lot, I wanted to be just like Leonard Rose. That lifestyle, I firmly believed, was the quintessence of life: glamorous, the overflow, adoring audiences, the fantastic orchestras, the famous conductors, recordings, parties, fancy limousines, hotels etc. After reading this book, you will find that this is simply not the case. To be the kind of soloist Leonard Rose was entailed tremendous hardship and sacrifice. Imagine how difficult it must have been for his wife and two children (later his second wife), who needed him when he was off in some small town perfecting his craft; Rose returning to another grungy, smelly dressing room, returning to yet another middle-of-the-road hotel or awkwardly again a guest in someone else’s home. Even worse, he probably returned to his abode hungry after concerts because not enough food was served at the obligatory receptions. Perhaps today’s soloists are treated differently? I don’t know. For most of them, probably not. The lifestyle is so very lonely…


Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

“Well, I feel sorry for you.” And with that comment, Kates— at the time something of a cellist’s bad boy—unintentionally struck a nerve that may have epitomized the inner life of Leonard Rose. When Rose was Kates’s age, he was not exposed to a large variety of musical interpretations. In fact, Rose’s fear of and later his stilted professional relationship with his teacher, Salmond, may have circumscribed his musical adventurism. As a student, Rose would have unquestioningly practiced with a goal of perfect sound and flawless technique, yet he wouldn’t have been drawn to or curious about different interpretations the way Kates—and most cellists of the generation—did. Although Kates may have exhibited careless etiquette in his provocative dialogue, it reveals something about Leonard Rose’s emotionally rigid and precocious musical, disciplined nature that had been his motif in his teaching life to that point. The last thing Rose desired was to set free one of his most talented undergraduates. Leaving him no other option—which left the pedagogue in a state of anguish—the incident reveals Rose’s tough rigidity, or possibly his acute jealousy of Rostropovich, regarding a wide variety of interpretations perhaps reflecting on his own childhood, which lacked exposure to a diverse range of cello playing.


Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?

I made a list of around 20 agents and publishers that I contacted by phone and by mail. Some were so very nice but I always received the same kind of answer; your biography is fascinating, and well organized but we don’t think it fits well with our future plans. Even after 8 months or so I didn’t lose hope. Someday, I reassured myself, I was going to get this book published. Along came Barry Beckham from Beckham Books. His interest was immediate. I have appreciated his staff and his expertise in the field from day one.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

I am a cellist first and foremost. I am always practicing repertoire pertaining to symphony, chamber music and solo: unaccompanied, with piano, and concerti. I love to perfect whatever I am working on. Yet I have a passion for writing. For this book, I loved meeting people and visiting the country along the way.

Q: What’s next for you?

I am researching stories about the intriguing life of the great violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. What was he like? What were his motivations? How was he viewed during his lifetime? I hope to find these answers and more. I have a trip planned to Cremona, Italy in the summer of 2011 to see his home, where he worked, to talk with other luthiers about him. I want to hike in the forests of Tyrol and to dip my toes into the Po River where he found some of his wood. I can’t wait.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Steven. We wish you much success!

Thank you very much. Please visit me at steven-Honigberg.com to find out more about me.