BOOKS TO WATCH OUT FOR!

Friday, December 31, 2010

National Book Publicist Charlie Barrett on 'Hollywood Book Publicist Tour' Jan. 3

Join Charlie Barrett, national book publicist and owner of the publicity company, The Barrett Company, as he tours the blogosphere January 3 – 25 2011 on his first virtual blog tour with Pump Up Your Book.

Professional national book publicist Charlie Barrett formed The Barrett Company in 1992 as a full service media relations and media marketing / communications agency. The Los Angeles headquartered firm offers 21st century integrated media outreach and media marketing expertise with an emphasis on the publishing and entertainment industries serving authors/publishers, Hollywood celebrities, motion pictures and television.

Since the firm’s creation TBC has served authors with such companies as Simon & Schuster, Globe Pequot Press, Norton and studios and TV outlets from Warner Brothers and Paramount, to cable TV network American Movie Classics (Mad Men) to ABC, CBS, Fox Television, as well as self-published author publishers such as Xlibris, Author House, i-Universe and numerous celebrities from Johnny Carson to Ed McMahon to Kevin Costner to Oprah Winfrey (Oprah’s Big Give television series on ABC).

The Barrett Company serves major publisher, small press and self-published authors with Harper Collins, Little Brown, Penguin Press, Oxford University Press, CreateSpace, Viking Press, Random House, Holm Press, Ben Bella Books, SMU Press and NYU Press – – creating and performing a range of publicity services and media outreach for both fiction and non-fiction book releases areas, generating media attention/coverage in print, broadcast and the growing on line digital medias. TBC is developing new book marketing strategies for e-books and author activity with Kindle, Nook You Tube, Twitter and Facebook

Mr. Barrett formed The Barrett Company after serving in top PR and media relations positions with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) for more than ten years, where he was in charge of media relations for The Tonight Show and Johnny Carson and also, Today, among other well-known NBC shows such as Unsolved Mysteries, Fame and numerous highly-rated NBC specials, including The American Film Institute Awards and The American Movie Awards. As a film publicist in Hollywood, Charlie has worked with Dennis Hopper, Robert Stack, Tatum O’Neal, Steve McQueen, and Candice Bergen.

Charlie began his media career as a reporter with The Associated Press in New Haven, CT and later served on the editorial staffs of both The Hollywood Reporter in Los Angeles and Billboard in New York. He has also authored numerous articles for magazines and newspapers on the performing arts and travel as well as appearing as a regular contributor on major US radio talk shows discussing celebrities, films, television and books. Charlie was voted the Book Publicist of the Year award by the Southern California Book Publicists Society. TBC is a member of The Publishers Association of Los Angeles, The Academy of TV Arts and Sciences (ATAS gives the Emmy Award) and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (the Oscar).

The Barrett Company is well known and regarded among the world’s media outlets for its credibility and creativity. Through years of client assignments TBC has developed remarkable and successful PR campaigns for a wide range of authors/publishers, Hollywood creatives, companies and celebrities, which have paved the way for the firm to produce media, consumer and trade events of all descriptions both in the US and overseas, from Book Expo to NATPE (the renowned annual television program executive conference) to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, The Frankfurt Book Fair and The Cannes International Film Festival. The TBC web site is at www.thebarrettco.com.

For more information on Charlie Barrett’s book publicist tour, click here.



Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book publicity for authors looking for maximum online promotion to sell their books. Visit our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com to find out how we can take your book to the virtual level!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Humor columnist Rose A. Valenta on 'Sitting on Cold Porcelain Virtual Book Tour'

Join Rose A. Valenta, author of the humor book, Sitting on Cold Porcelain (Xlibris), as she virtually tours the blogosphere January 3 2011 – February 25 2011 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

Rose A. Valenta is a nationally syndicated humor columnist. Her irreverent columns have been published in Senior Wire, Associated Content, Courier Post Online, NPR, Newsday, USA TODAY, the WSJ Online, and many other local news and radio websites.

She is the author of Rosie’s Renegade Humor Blog. This is the blog for people who would be knowledgeable about current events and politics if only politicians and news anchors didn’t stretch the truth. “What else is there to do, but share an honest laugh?” Rose said.

Rose regularly attends the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton, is a member of the Robert Benchley Society and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC).

Sitting on Cold Porcelain

In Sitting on Cold Porcelain, readers will find an amusing, perceptive, and laugh-out-loud take on the state of our country and our world, on celebrities and politicians, and all the news events that make us roll our eyes and groan.

Its satirical essays include “Giuliani’s Gaffe Could Qualify for Political Darwin Award,” “Rush Limbaugh: The Don Rickles of Radio,” “State of The Union 2010: Bitch-Slapping Congress,” “Islamic Cleric Declares Jihad on Mickey Mouse,” “Little Egypt to Run Against Sarah Palin,” and “Who Moved My Mascarpone?”

You will also find Rose’s hysterical consultations with her friend, Mrs. Giordano, a South Philadelphia Malocchio (evil eye) doctor. Mrs. Giordano bloviates in Italian and is the Italian equivalent to the ‘Numa Numa Guy’ in front of the TV when she watches The O’Reilly Factor.

For more information, you can visit Rose's official tour page here.

If you would like to visit her blog, Rosie's Renegade Humor blog, visit www.rosevalenta.blogspot.com. If you would like to pick up a copy of her book, click here. Rose's book is also available by Kindle download. To get your copy in minutes, click here.

Sitting on Cold Porcelain

Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book publicity for authors looking for maximum online promotion to sell their books. Visit our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com to find out how we can take your book to the virtual level!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What I Really Needed to Know I Learned From Romance

There was only one thing Bronwyn Storm wanted to be when she grew up: a superhero. Sadly, this goal was made moot when she realized that being a klutz was not, in fact, a super power, and her super-weakness for anything bright and shiny meant that a magpie with self-control could easily defeat her in a battle of wills. So, she turned to writing as a way to unleash her inner superhero. She doesn’t get to live on a secret space station orbiting the earth (and thank goodness because she gets motion sick on a merry-go-round), but she still get to wear leotards, a cape and say things like, “STAND ASIDE! THIS IS A JOB FOR WRITING-GIRL!”

Enjoy her guest post!

What I Really Needed To Know, I Learned From Romance
by Bronwyn Storm

I have a high school degree, university degree, and I use Degree antiperspirant. (The last part doesn’t have much to do with education, I just want you to know that if we ever meet, I’ll smell nice.). School’s done a lot for me. I learned math and science, geology and anthropology, and I learned in a bind, regular potato chips broken into a bowl of macaroni and cheese can satisfy most of your daily nutritional requirements. But the wisdom that lasts, the stuff that’s stood the test of time, all that came from reading romance.

1) Equality—When it comes to the human experience, it doesn’t matter if the hero was a pauper and the heroine was a princess. In love and life, we’re all equal. It’s true, too. It doesn’t matter if you’re the C.E.O or the waitress, the flat tire is a pain, puppies will still make you smile, and being stuck in the elevator with the Know-It-All from Human Resources drives you crazy.

2) Beauty is Found Within—Romance is often criticized because the heroes and heroines are objects of perfection. What the critics don’t realize is that the novel is told through the eyes of the hero, who loves the heroine, and the heroine—who, conveniently enough—loves the hero. In love, we are all beautiful. To the one who adores us, we are the personification of perfection. Hey, I’m all for playing with make up and going nutty when in the stores and surveying the array of bright and shiny eye shadows, but at the end of the day (sorry, cosmetic companies), it’s not the make-up on the woman, it’s the woman under the makeup. The one who loves her, loves her for who she is, not what she wears.

3) Versatility—The dining table is good for more than just eating dinner. Romance makes us look at everyday objects in a different, slightly naughty way, and thank goodness. Between the cameras on the street, the auditors going over our taxes, and Santa Claus making his yearly list, we’re all doing our best to be good. It’s nice to have the freedom to be a little naughty.

4) Eccentricity—In school we had to conform. Same thing, sometimes, with business. On the outside, away from the school walls (and the bricks and mortar of our company building), eccentricity is the stuff of joy and laughter. From Janet Evanovich’s Grandma Mazur character to Vicki Lewis Thompson’s drool worthy (and deliciously nerdy) Jack Farley, it’s the people off the grid who add spice and flavor to this, the wild soup we call life.

5) Breathing—No matter how bad the Black Moment in the story, no matter how terrible everything looks for the hero and heroine, readers know to just inhale, take a breath because it’ll get better as long as we keep flipping the pages. Same thing with life. Just breathe. Make a choice and flip the page, and keep flipping until you get your happy ending.

6) Persistence—And speaking of which, Happy Ever After comes on the last page, not the first. The hero and heroine have to wade through struggle and turmoil, ask themselves some hard questions and get some harder answers, before they get their happy ever after. In other words, they have to persevere. So it is with real life. Happy Endings aren’t for sissies. They’re for the people who’re willing to stick through the ups and downs, and be persistent.

7) Humor—There’s nothing quite as sexy in romance as the hero/heroine with a kick-ass sense of humor. Laughter. It breaks tension, breaks down barriers, and relieves stress. It releases endorphins, massages your organs, and bonds us in a social network. In everyday life, nothing is quite as endearing as the person who makes us laugh. We look forward to seeing them. They light up a room and leave us glowing. A sense of humor will save our sanity and—depending on how fast we can think on our feet—save our job when our boss walks in and catches us doing a dead-on impression of his chicken-walk.

8) Honesty—A romance isn’t a romance until the characters have talked to each other, revealed their secrets, and accepted each other, as is. Life’s like that, too. There’s something releasing, something that opens up our inner-space when we find the honesty in ourselves and accept it in those around us. Sure, our mothers drive us crazy because they’re always offering (unsolicited) advice, trying to lend a hand…but sometimes, in those rare but glorious moments when we can step past our irritation and annoyance, we see their nagging for what it is: an expression of love, one human being reaching out to another and hoping for nothing but prosperity and protection for the children they love. Honest relationships are what give us security and courage, and when the world’s cruel and heartless, they’re what give us that soft place to fall.

9) Resilience—When it comes to romance, heroes and heroines always remind me of those clown toys from the 80s. Remember those? You’d bop ’em and they’d drop, but then bounce back. Romantic heroes and heroines are the same way. No matter the obstacle or the conflict, they recover and keep going. Every failure just seems to make them better, stronger people. Resilience. It’s the magic armor that protects us—not from failures or setbacks—but from the most defeating thing of all: giving up.

10) Love Matters—In the end, the heart wants what it wants, and as long as you follow your heart, good things happen. It’s a great philosophy, not just for romance but life, too. Follow your passion when it comes to work, to hobbies, to where you want to live, and who you want to live with. In the end, the sages were right: love is all you need.

Bronwyn’s latest book is Ethan’s Chase.

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

Monday, December 13, 2010

Interview with Mary Maddox - Author of Talion



Mary Maddox grew up in Utah and California. A graduate of Knox College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she now teaches at Eastern Illinois University. She lives in Charleston, Illinois with her husband, film scholar Joe Heumann. Her interests include dressage and tournament Scrabble. Mary’s short stories have appeared in a number of magazines including Farmer's Market, Yellow Silk, and The Scream Online. Her writing has been honored with awards from the Illinois Arts Council. Talion, her debut novel, is available at Barnes and Noble online and at Amazon.com as a trade paperback and as a Kindle book. You can visit her at her Web site www.marymaddox.com, read her blog at http://blog.marymaddox.com and follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Dreambeast7.

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

A: Though I’ve been publishing short stories for quite a while, Talion is my first published novel. It has gone through several drafts, beginning as a portrait of friendship and evolving into the tale of a girl who must face a monster to save herself and her friend.

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

A: The protagonist, Lu, sees luminous beings invisible to others. Their leader is Talion. The word is derived from lex talionis, the concept of justice in which retaliation is dealt out in proportion to the offense – like the Biblical law of an eye for an eye. Beautiful and otherworldly, Talion seems capable of both good and evil. He comforts Lu and shows her how to retaliate against the people who have wronged her. He inspires her to stand up to bullies at school, but he also leads her to the brink of committing murder.

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

A: Lu Jakes is an unusual and unforgettable hero, an abused girl who somehow remains whole despite the forces bent upon tearing her apart. I’ve been told serial killer novels must have a detective or FBI profiler as the hero, but Talion breaks that rule. It’s a cross-genre novel that combines the mystery of fantasy with the stark realism of a thriller. Above, all, Talion tells a compelling story. Several reviews have described it as a page-turner. One Amazon reviewer actually played hooky from work to finish my novel, which may be the highest compliment a writer can receive.

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

A: The cover is my design, based on a photograph by my husband, Joe Heumann, and executed by the Chicago graphic artist Richard Reynolds Taylor. So yes, I’m delighted with the cover. A few readers have thought the cover is too abstract and enigmatic, but I wanted to avoid the standard images – a guy holding a bloody knife or a pair of sulfurous eyes glaring from the shadows. Covers like that have the advantage of telling readers what to expect, but I wanted an image that reflects Talion’s mystery.

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: Pump Up Your Book is orchestrating my virtual tour. I’ve had limited success doing marketing on my own, but the process is time-consuming and I wasn’t getting enough done. I want Talion to find the widest possible readership.

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

A: Talion bears some likeness to Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones in its mix of paranormal and realistic elements, and its violence has prompted comparisons to Thomas Harris and James Ellroy. But as a cross-genre novel, it’s not easy to categorize. In the end, I think Lu makes the novel special. She’s not supposed to be the hero of a serial killer novel, but here she is.

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

A: Lu’s father, Duane, is watching a DVD of Top Gun for the umpteenth time while Lu’s stepmother, Norlene, is frying hamburgers for dinner. He and Norlene argue about whether to borrow money from his former employer, a drug dealer with whom she has been having sex. Readers are privy to Duane’s thoughts. Despite his hurt feelings, he understands why Norlene cheats. If only he were a better provider, he thinks, she wouldn’t be so tempted. In this introduction to Duane, readers already glimpse his bottomless capacity for self-deception.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: I’m working on a series of suspense novels with a museum curator as the protagonist. In the first book, she takes in a free-spirited photographer who disappears under sinister circumstances.

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

A: It’s been a pleasure. I hope readers will visit my Web site at www.marymaddox.com and my blog at http://blog.marymaddox.com/. A one-minute video trailer for Talion can be viewed at on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGuebw5XdSE. Talion is for sale online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon for $12.99. The ebook for Kindle is $3.99.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Guest Blogger: 'Broken Mirror' by Charlotte Foust

Broken Mirror

by Charlotte Foust


I started my writing journey with little confidence in my own abilities. I had grave doubts as to whether anyone would want to hear anything I had to say. I began slowly, writing assigned articles, ghost writing, and working with an incredible mentor. Her coaching and constant encouragement kept me writing when I would have given up. I still struggle with doubts. And I keep writing. Not everything I have written will be published. I have learned a great deal about writing, but the most important thing I’ve learned is to keep writing. Every day.

Submitting a personal story for Life Choices was not an easy decision. Making the choice to expose the secret I have kept for 50 years was difficult. Even after the story was written, there were many times I wanted to pull it back. I waited until the last possible moment to sign the final release and approval to publish. In the end I had to let it go. I made the choice knowing that I am not alone in my experiences and in the hope that by being published it would let others know that they, too, are not alone.

The writing of the story brought understanding and healing to me. Because of it I am finding my voice, a voice I have long ignored. There is a larger story that must be told.

It is estimated that there are 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the United States today. It is the most closely guarded family secret. We are blamed. We are shunned. We are abandoned, by our families, by society, and even by our abusers. We are taught to believe that we are alone in our suffering. With 60 million of us, in any group of people, we are standing with at least one other survivor. We don’t wear badges or special clothing. There is nothing about us that would make us easily recognizable. It is easy to hide. But we are there.

Not only am I an author, I am free. Free of the secret that has shadowed me most of my life. Life Choices was a life changing book for me…and hopefully for its readers.

Though her heart lives in the redwoods of northern California, Charlotte Foust’s career as a dancer led her to make Las Vegas her home forty-two years ago. Before becoming executive assistant to a motivational speaker and author, the twists and turns of life took her through successful careers not only as a dancer, but also in sales and marketing, cosmetology, and the title and escrow industry. As the owner/director of a ballroom dance studio, she developed a program of creative and therapeutic dance for the intellectually challenged community of Las Vegas. She has enjoyed countless hours volunteering with Special Olympics, Children’s Miracle Network and numerous local Las Vegas organizations. Driven by the desire to find balance and harmony, she pursued spiritual studies throughout her journey, finally putting her on a path toward ministry. Charlotte currently serves as associate minister of Unity Church of Las Vegas.

Charlotte is also the co-author of Judi Moreo's Life Choices: Putting the Pieces Together.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The 19th Element: Interview with Suspense Thriller Author John L. Betcher

John L. Betcher is a University of Minnesota Law School graduate and has practiced law for more than twenty-five years in the Mississippi River community of Red Wing, Minnesota. He possesses substantial first-hand knowledge of the Prairie River Nuclear Plant’s real world counterpart, as well as Red Wing’s airport and the flight rules around the nuke plant.

In addition to The 19th Element, he has published a second book in the “Beck” series entitled, The Missing Element, A James Becker Mystery. The second book is available everywhere.

The author has also been a long-time supporter and coach of youth volleyball in and around Red Wing and has authored three feature articles for Coaching Volleyball, the journal of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. His most recent article was the cover story for the April/May, 2009 Issue.

His book on volleyball coaching philosophies entitled The Little Black Book of Volleyball Coaching is available at www.johnbetcher.com and at amazon.com.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, John. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, The 19th Element, A James Becker Thriller?
I’ve been writing for more than thirty years now. First, as an English major in college. Then, as an attorney for more than twenty-five years. Then, for publication in a national volleyball magazine. And finally, as an author of suspense/thriller fiction.

Each writing experience has contributed its own flavors to my writing. Fiction combines them all, while adding character development and plotting to the mix.


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

Element number 19 on the Table of Periodic Elements is potassium. It happens that potassium . . . normally used for farm fertilizers and food supplements . . . features prominently in the book as a unique explosive. If not for elemental potassium’s violent reaction when combined with water, the terror attack on the nuclear plant could not be successful.


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

I believe there can never be too many enjoyable reads on the library shelves. My book takes an atypical setting for a terrorist attack and makes it a reality – at least according to several nuclear insiders who have told me as much.

Given that the story concerns an al Qaeda attack on a nuclear power plant, one might think that the book is serious and terrifying. Well . . . The 19th Element certainly contains plenty of action and excitement. But authentic and witty characters – native Midwesterners – add humor where needed, and combine with the tension to make the book an enjoyable ride.


Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

I am self-published. So I bear full responsibility for all publicity and marketing of my book.

To get the word out locally, I have engaged several newspapers who have written reviews and published back-story articles. I have appeared on a local radio show. I also do book signings and appear at book clubs.

On the web, I maintain a presence on such social media sites as Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn. I also administer a blog called Self-Publishing Central, where I chronicle my self-publishing journey in the hopes that others can learn from my successes and failures. And I engage in Virtual Book tours, such as the one I am on right now.


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

Some compare this book to writings by Vince Flynn or Michael Connelly. I think, if you like the late Robert B. Parker’s Spenser detective series, you’ll like The 19th Element. Although Parker’s books are mysteries instead of thrillers, he has so influenced my writing style that Parker fans will recognize that influence instantly.

What’s special about this book?

The attention to detail that makes the terrorists’ plot both plausible and frightening.

The setting in rural America, where our nation is most vulnerable to terror attacks.

The capable foursome of core characters who work together to defeat the terrorists’ attack.

Heck . . . what’s not to like?

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

Page 69. My main character’s wife, Beth, is calling her husband – panic in her voice – to tell him that their college-student daughter seems to have a mysterious stalker. Beck departs his law office with haste to help Beth assess the potential threat.


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Absolutely. I have already released a new title in November, 2010 entitled A Higher Court – One Man’s Search for the Truth of God’s Existence. The book is a work of literary fiction and explores one person’s struggle with conflicts between science and faith.

There is also a third installment in the Beck series due out this spring. It remains, as yet, untitled. The story will reprise the same core cast of characters as the first two Beck books – The 19th Element and The Missing Element. The new book will take a frightening look into the activities of Mexican drug cartels in the Midwest.


Q: Thank you for your interview, John. Do you have any final words?

Many thanks for inviting me to visit. I truly appreciate your help getting the word out about this book. Cheers!

Sounds Like Crazy: Interview with Women's Fiction Author Shana Mahaffey

Shana Mahaffey lives in San Francisco in an Edwardian compound that she shares with an informal cooperative of family, friends and five cats. She’s a survivor of Catechism and cat scratch fever, and is a member of the Sanchez Grotto Annex, a writers’ community. Her work has been published in SoMa Literary Review and Sunset Magazine. She welcomes all visitors to her website www.shanamahaffey.com, and is happy to meet with book groups in-person or in cyberspace (phone/webcam/the works).

Her latest book is Sounds Like Crazy.

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

I have been writing since my single digits. In grammar school and high school, I wrote, sent my writings to my grandfather (Poppa, the English teacher amongst other things), and he returned them corrected with red pen. Undeterred, I continued on, eventually sending perfect letters (either that or he got tired of correcting me!). In college, I discovered the Beat generation writers and decided I wanted to be them. I wore a beret, black clothes, smoked cigarettes, waxed poetic about this that and the other thing and wrote a lot of poetry, short stories, and a few controversial editorials for the UC Santa Barbara paper. Some of my poems were published and a few won minor poetry awards. I spent the next number of years talking, sans beret and other vestiges of my Beat years except cigarettes and black turtlenecks, about how I wanted to be a writer but doing anything and everything but. The book that eventually became Sounds Like Crazy, however, percolated slowly in my mind and occasionally on the page. Throughout all of this, Poppa (also a coach) continued to encourage me. Finally, about five years ago and many writing groups and lots of talk and no action later, Poppa switched tactics and decided direct pressure instead of coddling. This approach and a deathbed promise to become a published author (his death and my promise), is what gave me the perseverance to wrestle Sound Like Crazy out of my brain and onto the page.


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

The original title of the novel was Voices. My editor at New American Library (NAL/Penguin) said this name was too nebulous and didn’t convey the nuances of the book. She presented dozens of alternatives to me and vice versa. But, I had become too used to Voices, and subsequently, nothing appealed. The day we had to choose, she prefaced the proposed title, Sounds Like Crazy, with an “I hope you like this because we have to make a choice. And this is the choice.” Then she told me the name, Sounds Like Crazy. I acquiesced because it was better than all the other choices, but I wasn’t crazy about Sounds Like Crazy. I couldn’t let go of Voices, because it was the title that endured all the heartache, neck pain, coffee jitters, negative feedback, rejections, stiff fingers, dark circles, etc. to get to a sale with NAL/Penguin. Changing the title to anything else felt like abandoning an old friend. It took a while, but I love the title now. I can’t imagine the book called anything else. And, I learned my lesson—I’m using a working title for the novel I am currently working on. I have zero attachment to is, which is why I expect to hear, “I LOVE this title,” when the book goes to the publisher because life just works that way.


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

This is a tough question to answer. I wanted, desperately wanted my book to be published. When my agent signed me, she said, “Before we go out on submission, we need to do edits. We’ll either we’d reach a point where I want more than you can do, the book will be ready to go.” My response was, “I will keep working on this book until it is ready, even if I have to edit it a hundred more times.” Thankfully, it did take a hundred edits, but I wasn’t going to quit. I never “believed” the book should be published, but I also was not willing to quit until it was.


Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

My publisher sent Sounds Like Crazy out to a long list of reviewers and looked for other publicity opportunities. However, since I am a new and unknown author, they had a hard time getting anyone to take me on. The NAL/Penguin publicist was able to get me an interview on Bay Sunday, a local Bay Area talk show. But, the rest of the publicity I managed on my own. This is the beauty of the Internet, blogs, virtual book tours, and other forms of media—all of these outlets allow authors to take control of their book promotion.


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

Sounds Like Crazy has been compared to Sybil. Both main characters suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), although when Sybil was published it was known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). What makes Sounds Like Crazy different is Holly, the main character, has the co-conscious form of DID. She and her personalities interact. She doesn’t lose time or awareness when she’s not in control. Also, Holly is for the most part a functioning member of society. What makes the book so special is the endorsement it has gotten from the Executive Director of An Infinite Mind—a resource center for people suffering from DID. She said Sounds Like Crazy is one of the most accurate portrayals of what it is like to suffer from DID.


Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?
Holly, the main character of Sounds Like Crazy is at the Shrine Auditorium attending the Emmy Awards ceremony. She’s just heard her name announced and is now trying to negotiate the crowd standing between her and the stage. Holly is awkward under normal circumstances, but the pressure is high in this situation. Her boss demanded she attend, Betty Jane, her most dominant personality threatened mayhem if she didn’t and now Holly finds herself in the worst position imaginable—trying to gracefully make her way through a large crowd of onlookers to a stage where she is then going to be the center of attention. In Holly’s experience these situations always spell disaster. If you keep reading from here, you’ll discover if she got what she expected or not.


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I want to write as many books as I have in me. I am currently working on a book about a woman who has to correct a mistake she doesn’t know she made and guiding her through the process is her best friend’s dead brother. This is another story about a woman, a family, circumstances, choices, and overcoming great obstacles to get to the truth. The working title is Ruckus and this book links to Sounds Like Crazy through characters that cross from the one to the other.


Q: Thank you for your interview, Shana. Do you have any final words?

Thank you and thank you everyone who is reading, and hopefully thoroughly enjoying, Sounds Like Crazy. And yes, more books are coming!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

INterview with series editor of the Dream of Things Anthologies Mike O'Mary

Mike O’Mary is series editor of the Dream of Things anthologies including Saying Goodbye, an anthology of true stories about people saying goodbye to the people, places and things in our lives with grace, dignity and good humor. He is founder of Dream of Things, a book publisher and online retailer. He is also author of The Note, a book about the power of appreciation, and Wise Men and Other Stories, a collection of holiday-related essays. For more information, visit www.goodbyebook.com.

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

I’ve been writing for 20 years and have had essays published in the Sunday magazines of the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, the Denver Post and other major papers. But Saying Goodbye is a departure for me. About a year ago, I started Dream of Things (dreamofthings.com) to be a writers’ community and to publish anthologies of short, literary creative nonfiction. I’m serving as publisher and series editor for the anthologies, and Saying Goodbye is our first anthology.

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

When I started Dream of Things, I put out a call for submissions for anthologies on fourteen topics. But "saying goodbye" was not one of the initial topics. The idea for "saying goodbye" as a topic didn't come to me until I received a story from Stephen Parrish. I am a fan of Stephen's writing, and he had been very supportive of what I was trying to do with Dream of Things. He sent me a story called "Bridget" about his experience as a young boy with the death of a classmate. I liked the story, but it didn't fit neatly into any of the existing anthology topics. So I created a new anthology for stories about "saying goodbye." The amazing thing is that this topic really struck a chord with writers. I ended up with submissions from all around the world, and Saying Goodbye ended up being the first anthology from Dream of Things, even though the topic wasn't one of the original topics. And I think there's a reason for the popularity of the topic. Stories about saying goodbye are incredibly powerful and moving, but there aren't many outlets for such stories. Terri Elders, one of the contributors, sums it up by quoting Shakespeare: "Parting is such sweet sorrow." I think Terri and other writers were glad to have a place for their stories of "sweet sorrow."


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

At first, I wasn’t sure it should be published. I was worried that it would be too much of a downer to read a book full of stories about saying goodbye. But people have told me that Saying Goodbye is actually a very uplifting book…that reading the stories is cathartic. We asked contributors for stories about all aspects of saying goodbye, so we ended up with stories about saying goodbye not just to people, but also to the places and things in our lives. So we have stories about saying goodbye to old homes, old relationships, the past…even about saying goodbye to an old couch and to a favorite jogging suit. The result is a nice mix of stories that blend sorrow with humor.


Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What have you and your contributors done so far to publicize the book?

Publishing an anthology is great because instead of working with one author, I’m working with thirty-one. And Dream of Things is the only publisher I know of that pays anthology contributors a royalty (rather than a flat fee), so if the book takes off, the contributors will share in the success. So we’ve been working together to spread the word. I’m trying to get reviews, which isn’t easy to do with an anthology, but we’ve had a few. And I’m trying to get media interviews. Meantime, the book is being featured in a blog tour, and Saying Goodbye was featured in a newsletter to 6,000 book club members because I think it would be a great topic for book groups to discuss. I’ve also reached out to hospice services, funeral homes and hospital gift shops because as I said, people have told me that it’s cathartic to read Saying Goodbye. Meantime, the contributors have been busy spreading the word to family and friends any way they can…via word of mouth, their websites, blogs and social media…and they are asking their friends to do the same. Several contributors have also had readings in their home towns. It’s been great.


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

I launched Dream of Things with the intent of publishing anthologies of creative nonfiction that will fill the gap between popular anthologies (like Chicken Soup and Cup of Comfort) that publish stories I regard as “short and sweet”—sometimes so saccharine-sweet they are hard to swallow—and the Best American Essays series, which I love, but which tends to have writing that is quite a bit longer. So the goal for Dream of Things anthologies is to be not short and sweet, but short and deep. With depth comes authenticity. The result is stories that are easier to swallow because they are authentic, and easier to digest because they average 1,250 words in length. The Saying Goodbye anthology is an example of what we’re trying to do at Dream of Things.

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

I just opened the book to a story by Ruth Schiffmann called “The Evolution of Your Goodbyes.” It’s a story about her interactions with her father as he slowly slips into dementia. Here is one of the passages: “One warm spring day as you sit together in the living room listening to an Elvis CD, you suggest going for a walk. He’s on his feet in an instant, following you to the coat closet, eager and excited. As you lead his arm into the sleeve of his sweatshirt he reaches out for you. A hug? you wonder. But then you realize, he is dancing. With you. And it doesn’t matter that you are not that kind of family. A family that dances. Because he is smiling and holding your hand and enjoying the music. So you forget about the sweatshirt, and the walk. You take his other hand and dance.”

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes. Dream of Things is currently seeking submissions for anthologies of creative nonfiction on a variety of topics, including stories of forgiveness, coffee shop stories, travel, Internet dating, holiday stories and others. I plan to publish three of those anthologies in 2011.


Q: Thank you for your interview, Mike. Do you have any final words?

For all the writers out there, keep at it. I believe that e-books and other recent developments in publishing are going to lead to even more publishing opportunities for authors. Just realize going in that writing is only half the battle. You also have to be prepared to do everything you can to help promote your work. And for all the readers out there, thank you, thank you, thank you. You could spend your time watching TV or playing video games or surfing the Internet, but you choose to read books. Thank you!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Easy as Pie at Bobby's Diner: Interview with Women Fiction Author Susan Wingate

Award-winning author, Susan Wingate, gets a monthly column about writing and the publishing industry in her local newspaper, The Journal of the San Juan Islands. She will also be posting weekly discussions about the writing industry for the regional online newspaper, the PNWLocalNews.com site.

You can view Wingate’s discussions by clicking on the “Entertainment” tab and then finding Wingate’s discussions under the “Blogs” section of the Entertainment Page.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona to James & Amie Ajamie (a writer and an artist, respectively), Susan Wingate tried to fly, at age five off the roof of their family house using newspaper, wire hangers and scotch tape. She’s been dreaming of flying ever since. Oh, by the way, she never jumped. Her mother ran out in the nick of time to stop her from take-off.

Wingate realized her dreams when she entered the world of writing. At first, she only wrote songs and poetry but then her writing blossomed when she tried her hand at fiction. In 1997, she devoted her days to writing and in 2004, she began writing full-time. Since then, Susan has written several plays, one screenplay, one short story collection and seven novels with two more scheduled to be written in 2010. In 2008, she started writing a memoir.

A lover of the arts, Susan draws and paints abstracts using oil as her favored medium. She has taken up playing the violin (it’s been a squeakly start) and she loves the theatre. Susan lives in Washington State.

Wingate’s novel, Bobby’s Diner, received three finalist awards in the following book competitions:

■2010 International Book Awards,

■2009 National Book Awards (USA Book News),

■2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards

In May 2010, two of Wingate’s novels were released, they are:

■A FALLING OF LAW, and

EASY AS PIE AT BOBBY’S DINER (the no. 2 book in the Bobby’s Diner Series)

“Camouflage,” Wingate’s fourth novel (written as Myah Lin) received a Finalist Award and an Editor’s Choice Award in the 2009 Textnovel Writing Contest.

To date, Wingate has written seven novels, two short story collections, a memoir, hundreds of poems, a few plays for theatre and one screenplay.

Her books can be found online and in bookstores across the country and her articles, short stories and poetry can be found in magazines, journals and reviews.

Locally, Wingate volunteers with the San Juan Island Library. She offers workshops, readings and presentations at writing conferences, bookstores and libraries throughout the country.

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

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Susan. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Easy as Pie at Bobby’s Diner?

What a great question. First off, I have been writing on and off all of my life but seriously, now, for over 15 years. I began writing full-time in 2004.

I love talking about this sort of thing and how Easy as Pie came to be published because it didn’t take the normal course people generally believe books take.

In 2006, I had just completed the writing of my very first novel--a 10-year project--and wondered if I could write another one. I really didn’t know. So, I challenged myself and wrote Bobby’s Diner (book #1 in the Bobby’s Diner Series). From start to finish, the writing took me just over four months. I proved to myself I could write another novel, and, much faster than the first. But, because I wrote the second novel so quickly (after having labored over my first one), I believed that no one would think it was any good. So, I filed it away.

Two years later, my husband and I were sitting down to a meal and talking about work I had recently published, some short fiction, poetry and articles. He asked me whatever happened to Kiss of the Doe—that was the working title of Bobby’s Diner before I changed it. I hemmed and hawed and he told me I should just send it out.

Well, it turns out he was right because it got picked up by a publisher for an ebook within 5 months and by August 2009 Bobby's Diner was in print.

However, I never intended the story to become a series. But, the publisher of Easy as Pie, Blue Star Books, had read Bobby's Diner. He called me one day in April telling me he liked it and offered me a 3-book contract to make it into a series.


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

I get mixed feelings from people about this title. People either love it or hate it but everyone who reads Easy as Pie at Bobby's Diner, gets the title.

For the series, the publisher wanted to use a theme for title and because the series falls under the genres of women’s fiction/suspense/amateur sleuth, I thought using Easy as Pie at Bobby’s Diner would translate to the markets where the book might be shelved in bookstores or in libraries.

The title is tongue-in cheek. Nothing at Bobby’s Diner is ever easy.


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

I think because the main character, Georgette Carlisle is so genuine and is always ending up in some sort of trouble. Her story is just a fun one to tell.


Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

Blue Star Books has set up most of the stops on the live book tour plus they sent out a large number of galleys to reviewers. But, really, the onus of publicity is falling ever more rapidly onto the shoulders of the author.


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

The Bobby’s Diner Series has been spoken of as a younger Miss Marple investigating the crime of Capote’s In Cold Blood. The first book has been compared to Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. But, the story is so completely different than that. I guess, it feels similar.


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

Trouble, trouble, trouble! And, loads of suspense. Roberta is explaining to Georgette that the police have found a dead body...


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes. Many!

In fact, I just recently completed book #3 of the Bobby’s Diner Series. That book is called Rocky Roads at Bobby’s Diner. The manuscript is with the publisher now and the book is scheduled for release in November 2011.

As well, I’ve written seven novels to date. Four are published and I’m shopping around the other three plus I have another book--a young adult fantasy novel--scheduled for completion by the end of 2010.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Susan. Do you have any final words?

Thank YOU! And, yes, for all of those people who want to write but don’t know where to start, just sit down and start to type. Amazing things will come out of your fingertips if you just let them. And, if you get stuck, email me. I'm happy to help. Plus, my website is www.susanwingate.com. I post a blog there about writing and about the publishing industry. Thanks again for the wonderful questions.




The Writer's Life Chats with Tom White Author of Justice Rules


About Thomas White


Tom began his career as an actor, which lead to a degree from the United States International University School of Performing arts in San Diego. A Cum Laude graduate, Tom was also named to "Who's Who In American Colleges and Universities.

He immediately hit the road and spent several seasons touring across the country with various shows, working as an actor, tech director, stage manager, scenic designer, lighting designer, sound designer and finally a director.

Several years later Tom found himself as an Artistic Director for a theatre in Los Angeles and the winner of several Drama-Logue and Critics awards for directing.

As Tom's career grew he ended up doing bigger and bigger projects in the theatre world. He directed and co-produced the world tour of "The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Coming Out Of Their Shells". The show toured for over two years, was translated into seven different languages and seen by close to a million children.

Justice Rules is his first novel and was nominated as a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association 2010 Literary contest.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003K16TCY



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

A: First, it's a pleasure to be here. I am a fan of The Writer's Life and it is an honor to be able to talk with you. I started my life in a log cabin on the backwaters of... no wait, wrong story. I began my career as an actor and eventually became a director. I have worked at many theatres around the country but based mostly out of Los Angeles and NYC. The novelty item on my resume' is that I directed and co-produced the world tour of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Coming Out Of Their Shells. Anyone who was a kid in the 90's should remember that show. I had a story credit on that show as well and that is when I really began to consider a writing career. But, while I have been dabbling in writing for most of my life, I would not say that I started writing until about eight years ago when I took my first online novel class. Thanks to the help of Jessica Barksdale Inclan and her UCLA writing class I was able to get out of my own way and actually become a writer. (I highly recommend this class by the way.)

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

A: Justice Rules is ultimately a novel about victims of violent crimes and their struggle to regain some sort of balance in a life that has been shattered by an unprovoked attack. Experiencing something that horrific is hard enough but imagine how unbearable it becomes when the perpetrator goes unpunished. How far would you be willing to go to attain justice and how far can you go before justice becomes revenge? Justice Rules deals with these questions in an in depth and up close manner.

The idea for the book came many years ago. It was just after the OJ Simpson acquittal and I saw an interview with Fred Goldman, the father of Ron Goldman, whom OJ "allegedly" killed. His frustration and anger was palpable and I felt so sorry for him. I imagined myself in his place, knowing who had killed my son and being powerless to do anything about it. Short of walking up on the courthouse steps and shooting him in the head he was helpless. Then I thought, "Well, what if it wasn't OJ? What if it was just some guy and he got away with murder? How would I get justice for myself and not have to answer to the very justice system that had failed me? The story grew from there.

What kind of research was involved in writing (please italicize book title here – no caps or quote marks)?

A: I did a lot of research into victim's help groups and victim's experiences. I was astounded at the brutality and senselessness of the majority of the attacks. I realized that, as a society, we have become numb to many of the atrocities that we see and hear. We hear that a child has been molested and shake our heads at how awful it is without realizing that the phrase, "been molested" is a euphumism for anal rape and much more heinous crimes. And we do so out of self-preservation, no one wants to hear the details of these crimes and I, for one, don't blame them. They are horrific. But with this polite version of the attack we tend to lose the reality of the experience for the victim. I wanted to deal with victim's that were unable to get over the injustice, the senselessness, and the horror of a personal attack on themselves or their family. On top of that I added the unspeakable injustice of these perpetrators going unpunished. Once these elements combine, the question arises; How far can you go before justice becomes revenge?

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

A: Bumpy as all get out! Though, if it were easy everyone would do it. LOL. I probably sent the book to forty or fifty different places looking for either an agent or a publisher. I kept the rejection letters in a file for a long time actually and later just tossed them. I managed to get two agents over a two-year period and neither of them ended up being very helpful. I had actually put Justice Rules away for a year or so until one day I thought to myself how wasteful it was to have this book sitting in a file folder on my computer rather than out in the world. About the same time I got a link from a friend that led me to an article about Apple. They had just signed an agreement with Smashwords.com to have them provide content for the Kindle and the iPad. That was enough for me. After some research I decided to stop waiting for someone to tell me it was okay for the world to read my book and took the leap. I've never regretted it. Not that I would turn away from a big publication house wanting to market and publish Justice Rules but they are so limited in what they can publish in comparison to the work that is out there deserving of publication. I was tired of waiting. To quote Bruce Springsteen,
"My soul checked out missing, as I sat there listening,
To the hours and minutes slipping away.
I was tired of waiting for my life to begin,
While it was all just slipping away."
I just finally said to myself, "If this is going to happen, you have to make it happen." And here I am.

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

A: Well, I am self-published through Smashwords.com so there was no contract and as soon as the book was formatted and accepted it was available for sale. One of the advantages of being self-published is that it works on your timeline, not anyone else's.

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

A: I have to write a disclaimer here before I begin talking about this particular subject. Generally speaking, I hate agents. So, if that is a turn off, skip to the next question.
Okay, here's why. In my career I have been a professional actor, director, producer and writer. Three of those four categories use agents and the fourth deals with them. In my experience as an artist, they have offered me nothing that I did not get for myself and my recent experience with agents in the publishing world has not altered that opinion. I have had five agents in my life, two as an actor, one as a director and two as an author. None of them ever did jack for me. Well, that's not entirely true, all of them, at one point or the other, told me I couldn't accomplish a goal I had set. I suppose if I was shy and retiring I would need their help to negotiate a contract but I have a lawyer who doesn't act like he created me and that I work for him to do that for me.

As a producer, they have stopped clients from taking work that would have been very beneficial to that client, they have over-priced talent in certain venues and kept them from working, and they have been a pain in the ass. My two writing agents were at least civil. The first woman, a woman who read my work and wanted to represent me, for which I was very grateful, was very nice. She offered no input on the work itself and submitted it to those publishers she believed would be appropriate. Four months later she called to tell me that she was getting married and retired. The second agent, also a lovely woman, got divorced and moved on. Maybe it's marriage that is my roadblock? The second literary agent was different though. She helped me more as an editor than anyone else who touched Justice Rules. She is mostly responsible for Justice Rules becoming the fast paced thrill ride that it has been described to be. So, while as an agent she was not very helpful, her editing skills were magnificent. I will go back to her and hire her as an editor for my next novel in a second.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Yes, I am mostly finished with the first useable draft of my next novel entitled, The Siren's Song. Set in Santa Cruz, CA it tells the story of a decrepit mansion with a giant, haunted, tide pool in the back yard. With luck it will be ready to go after the first of the year.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: I have a comfy office space in my home and that is where I do most of my work but I have to say that I started writing on planes. I traveled for my other job quite a bit and the solitude and serenity of being isolated on a plane, with a laptop and headphones was very inspiring for me. Especially when I would get that upgrade. "Yes, another chardonnay would be lovely."

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

A: I would get a publicist and do the talk show circuit. I would buy radio spots and ads in the book sections of newspapers and magazines. I would give 1000 people the money to buy an e version of my book on Amazon to create a buzz.

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

A: I cannot over state the importance of self-promotion. As an author you have two things to sell, your work and your self. To ignore one diminishes the other. You cannot separate yourself from your work. As a test, talk to someone about your book and follow up with them a while after. Chances are they bought it because they met you.

To promote Justice Rules I studied online marketing as hard as I could. I learned everything about social media, blogs, etc. I did everything everyone suggested. I got a Facebook page, a web site, a blog and I added to them daily. I have managed to maintain my Facebook presence and it has proven to be my most successful venture. I personally write to each person who becomes a fan, and there are over 500 of them at this point, and thank them for supporting Justice Rules. I then invite them to check it out if they get the chance and include the Amazon link. What this does is put it on their page, with the Amazon link that pops up under my message. All of their friends see it and that increases exposure.

Twitter, I just don't get. I do write a blog that I publish on several different sites but am not as consistent at that as I should be. I just have a hard time talking about a different subject everyday and am not confident that I have enough coherent things to say on a regular basis. I have a signature on every e-mail account that takes you directly to Amazon.com where you can buy the book. I have had business cards made up with the Amazon link and a blurb to pass out when people ask about it. As I said, the more people I talk to about the book, the more it moves. Shaking hands and talking goes a long way and I am slowly recognizing that there is a celebrity element to being an author that cannot be denied. If you meet someone they are more likely to buy your book because they know you. Talk about your own fifteen minutes!

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

A: When I finally embraced attempting to publish my book I would tell people that I had decided to become an author because at my age being a movie star was unrealistic. I said this to make people know I understood the outrageous act of trying to become published. Why do new writers give up their dream? Because it's so damn hard. It is really, really hard. It is fricking really hard. But then again, if it were easy, everyone would do it. I have to say though, that there is a difference between having a dream and wanting to try something.


When I was a young man and an actor I auditioned to attend a performing arts school in San Diego. The dean of the school was holding the auditions and asked me a simple question, "Why do you want to be an actor?" I replied, "Because I have no other choice, I have to do this." He smiled and I was accepted. Turns out, there was only one correct answer to that question and that was it. I feel the same about writing. If it is truly your dream to be a writer then you are going to write. If you want to make tons of money and be famous then maybe writing isn't the best way to go about it. While it is true that you can make tons of money as a famous writer, not many do. Many writers sit in their little rooms and move their fingers across keyboards with no concern except the next paragraph and the next plot twist. The object in writing is not to get published, the object is to write. If you become a good enough writer the publishing will follow.

Learn your craft first and then worry about your success. In my opinion, new writers who drop out were never real writers to begin with. The act of writing is an act of self-gratification. It is validated by publication and further validated by success but the act stands alone. And in the words of most every successful writer ever published, don't give up. Don't ever give up.

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

A: As the publishing industry changes the opportunities to have your work published will increase. When I first started my attempt to be published I was not at all successful. I think if I was a better writer back in the day that would have helped immensely, lol. I jumped in and put myself out there before I was ready. This was the most important thing that I have learned, you only get one chance to make a first impression and it better be a good one. The one huge advantage to the publishing world now is that if you have a good piece of work you can get it out there. The bad side is the agents and publishers that have acted as the guardians of the gate, are no longer there. That means that somehow authors have to get reliable opinions on their work before they put it out for sale.

For centuries the publishing world has worked one way and one way only. Now it is up for grabs. The only way to rise above the fray and be accepted as a legit writer is to produce clean, professional work. Do NOT publish anything without it having been professionally edited and re-worked. You need outside input to make your work truly viable. No one in modern times has ever published a novel by themselves. Do think you will be the first to do it successfully. You have to honor the profession and hold it in the highest regard as you put your work into the world. You are your own guardian and you must be totally diligent in that regard.

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

A: Thank you as well. It has been a lot of fun expostulating for you and your readers. I hope that they have not been bored and that they all read Justice Rules, available at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003K16TCY

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Backstory of 'Of Honest Fame' by guest blogger M.M. Bennetts

The story behind the story? To be honest, there are several.

Over the past several generations we’ve boxed the early nineteenth century into two categories. On the one hand, we’ve got the military swashbucklers—the Richard Sharpes, the Horatio Hornblowers and the Captain Jack Aubreys. And on the other, we’ve got the domestic version, which grew out of Jane Austen and through Georgette Heyer became Regency Romance. But where’s the stuff in the middle? The Napoleonic wars were as disastrous to Europe as WWII. They affected everybody. No one was immune. The whole of Europe had been turned into a military state and its allies by Napoleon. And I wanted to sweep away the stereotypes and explore what that really meant to the one nation which resisted that, the British people fighting it, but in different ways—political, social, international relations, spying…

The espionage is at the heart of Of Honest Fame. But because this is something that we in a modern society live with, we may not always consider what it means to live a life where everything true about you must be hidden, must be concealed. We don’t think about the pressure. We don’t consider what it must mean to be able to trust no one. We certainly don’t consider the emotional isolation and the stress of that. So I wanted to consider some of those questions.

Then too, since the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, we have had access to the historical records there, which had been off-bounds since the Russian Revolution. These records, as well as the access to Napoleonic battlefields and mass graves—now tested and interpreted using the latest techniques in historical forensics, often by historians who speak Russian and Lithuanian and Polish—have yielded up an entirely different history of the Napoleonic wars than the official French version of the time.

We now know that the French army had an 80% infection rate of syphilis, which they were spreading. In 1812, syphilis was every bit as great a killer as AIDS was in the 1980s. The consequences of its unlimited spread through the French army’s atrocities was catastrophic. It had a devastating effect on these countries’ development for generations to come. But all those women who would have died either then or subsequently, they’ve never even been counted among the five million casualties of those wars.

We have war memorials to our fallen men. But no one has, as far as I know, even bothered to go through the parish records across these countries and count how many lives were cut short by the sexual diseases spread by the Grande Armée, nor count how many suicides there were in the wake of the occupation, those who were denied even the rites of burial in those days—which is another heinous consequence of the kind of treatment the French were regularly dishing out to the local populations. We know that from the Russian occupation of Berlin in 1945, or Serbia or Rwanda.

And upon putting together all these pieces of the puzzle, I knew I had to, in some way, honor these fallen and acknowledge their sacrifice. So the fate of the civilians whose misfortune it was to live in the path of Napoleon’s army as they crossed Europe to invade Russia in 1812 is another underlying theme.

Finally I wanted to return to historical fiction some of the literary strength of works like A Tale of Two Cities, of arresting imagery and description, of beautiful language and poetry, and wrap all of it up in one great novel--not worthy, but gripping and full of excitement.

# # #

Educated at Boston University and St Andrews, M.M. Bennetts is a specialist in the economic, social and military history of Napoleonic Europe. The author is a keen cross-country and dressage rider, as well as an accomplished pianist, regularly performing music of the era as both a soloist and accompanist. Bennetts is a long-standing book critic for The Christian Science Monitor.

The author is married and lives in England.

Bennetts’ latest book is Of Honest Fame.

You can visit the author’s website at www.mmbennetts.com.

The Killing Storm: Interview with Mystery Novelist Kathryn Casey

Kathryn Casey is an award-winning, Houston-based novelist and journalist, the creator of the Sarah Armstrong mystery series and the author of five highly acclaimed true crime books. SINGULARITY, the first in the Armstrong series, debuted in June to rave reviews. It was a Deadly Pleasures magazine Best First Novel of 2008 selection, was included on Vanity Fair’s Hot Type page, won stars from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and the Tampa Tribune said: “Not since Patricia Cornwell’s POSTMORTEM has a crime author crafted such a stellar series debut. Kathryn Casey hits the right notes.”

The second in the series, BLOOD LINES (2009) was called a “strong sequel” by Publisher’s Weekly, and was included in a Reader’s Digest condensed books edition for fall 2010.

The Killing Storm, Katherine’s latest, has been chosen as a Mystery Book Club selection, and Publisher’s Weekly labels it “the best in the series so far.” Library Journal awarded the book a star, and Kirkus calls it “pulse-pounding.”

In addition, Ann Rule has called Casey, “one of the best in the true crime genre.” Her non-fiction books all published by HarperCollins include: A WARRANT TO KILL, (2000); SHE WANTED IT ALL (2005); DIE, MY LOVE (2007); A DESCENT INTO HELL (2008), EVIL BESIDE HER (2008), and SHATTERED (2010). Three were Literary Guild, Mystery Guild, and Doubleday Book Club selections.

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

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

For a couple of decades, I was a journalist, writing for Rolling Stone, Texas Monthly, MORE, Reader’s Digest, Ladies’ Home Journal, and other magazines. In the mid-nineties, I started writing true crime books, six so far. Then, in what felt like a natural progression, in about 2004, I began working on a mystery series centered on a Texas Ranger/profiler I christened Sarah Armstrong. The Killing Storm is the third book in the series.


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

I wrote this book not long after Hurricane Ike pummeled my hometown, Houston. In The Killing Storm, a hurricane named Juanita plays an important role. It’s the clock, propelling the action, and the storm is also a character, a force Sarah has to conquer to save a missing child.

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


It’s a good read. It’s fun. It’s exciting. What I hear most from readers is that the book is hard to put down. I was thrilled in November when Library Journal included The Killing Storm among its picks of the best books of 2010, one of only five mysteries on the list.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

St. Martins has a public relations person assigned to my book, and I believe she’s sent out releases and books to reviewers. I have, however, done a lot of my own promoting. In early November, right after The Killing Storm came out, I did a blog tour, writing guest posts for various mystery sites. It was fun and great exposure. I’m also on facebook, where I post reviews as they come in. I’d like to say I’m a Twitter expert, but I’m not. I do, however, frequently tweet about the new book. In addition, I hired a private book promotion agency to increase the book’s presence on the Net and generate interest in reviewing the book beginning in December.

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

Library Journal compared The Killing Storm to a J.A. Jance novel. After more than two decades working as a journalist, much of it covering sensational crimes, I believe I bring realism to my fiction. I’ve been a frequent observer in courtrooms, and I’ve interviewed attorneys, victims and victims’ families, investigators, and forensic experts. I’ve been behind prison walls questioning those convicted of terrible crimes. In hindsight, my years as a journalist have been something of a crime school, and I’m now drawing from all of those experiences to write fiction.

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

I flipped the book open, and it parted on page 25, in a section where my protagonist, Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong, is being drawn into the case of a missing four-year-old. She’s worried about the kid. She’s a mom, and cases involving children hit her hard. On this page, she’s at the site of the abduction, a park, deciphering clues. At the same time, she’s lamenting the state of her life, how the demands of her job, raising a twelve-year-old daughter, and trying to have a personal life too often collide.


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I’m currently writing a true crime book. Once it’s done, I have more fiction planned, including a stand-alone I’d like to start early next year.


Q: Thank you for your interview, Kathryn. Do you have any final words?

Earlier you asked how I promote my books. The truth is that the best advertising is word of mouth, a suggestion from one reader to another. This type of grassroots attention is absolutely essential to a book’s success. So thank you to everyone who’s enjoyed my books and taken the time to recommend them to others.