Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book Excerpt: Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. by Barbara Barnett

Title: Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D.
Author: Barbara Barnett
Genre: Television Nonfiction
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Ecw Press (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-1550229559
ISBN-13: 978-1550229554

Virtual Book Tour Link: http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2011/02/03/chasing-zebras-the-unofficial-guide-to-house-m-d-virtual-book-tour-march-april-2011/

Medical students are taught that when they hear hoofbeats, they should think horses, not zebras, but Dr. House’s unique talent of diagnosing unusual illnesses has made House, M.D. one of the most popular and fascinating series on television. In Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., Barbara Barnett, co-executive editor of Blogcritics magazine and widely considered a leading House expert, takes fans deep into the heart of the show’s central character and his world, examining the way this medical Sherlock Holmes’s colleagues and patients reflect him and each other; how the music, settings, and even the humor enhance our understanding of the series’ narrative; what the show says about modern medicine, ethics, and religion; and much more. Complete with an episode-by-episode guide and quotes from her numerous Blogcritics interviews with cast members, producers, and writers, Chasing Zebras is an intelligent look at one of television’s most popular shows.

BOOK EXCERPT:

“It is an axiom of medicine: “when you hear hoofbeats, you think horses, not zebras.” Dr. Gregory House and his elite team of diagnostic fellows chase medicine’s “zebras” — the anomalies, the odd presentations, the diseases so rare that most doctors would not have encountered them in a normal medical practice.

House, M.D. is, itself, a zebra in a herd of horses. It is a rare find of a show blessed with consistently sharp, intelligent writing: densely packed and multifaceted. It features one of the most complex characters ever to have been written for the small screen, Dr. Gregory House, brought to life through Hugh Laurie’s brilliant and nuanced performance.

I grew up on TV. By age nine, I was hooked on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and by 11, I was addicted to Star Trek classic. Nowadays, I have little time for series television. But when I get hooked on a television show, I really get hooked, and so it is with House, M.D.

Whenever the media say that women are attracted to House because he’s a “bad boy,” I tend to cringe first and then shake my head in disagreement. I don’t like “bad boys” — real or fictional. I like my heroes, well . . . heroic. Heroic, but tragically flawed: equal parts Mr. Knightley and Edward Rochester; Mr. Spock and Rick Blaine.

House has a “public persona” and also one he keeps tightly under wraps, reluctant to reveal — to anyone. Publicly, he’s a brilliant diagnostician, intuitive, deductive, and eerily smart. He’s also a risk taker and more than a tad reckless.

In many ways he’s an adolescent boy constantly hatching his next manipulation or elaborate game. He’s crude and rude. House’s closest associates tell us that House cares only about the puzzle. No messiah complex for him; he has a Rubik’s complex instead. But how does this image reconcile with the times we’ve seen him gazing yearningly from behind the glass into patient rooms, watching them with their families? How often do we observe the arrogant and egotistical Gregory House late at night, alone in his office or apartment, desperately searching for answers inside himself long after everyone else has gone home? Like the show that bears his name, House is as complex and rare as the medical cases he takes on: a zebra amongst the horses.

This book is a highly subjective look at a great television series through one fan’s perspective. Another writer might focus on the medicine, the humor, or the mysteries. But I view House, M.D. fundamentally as a detailed character study: House’s journey, his struggles, and the people in his orbit. This is the lens through which I enjoy House — and through which I understand it.

There are chapters here on the writing, the structure, and the elements that make House, M.D. such a fascinating series. There are chapters on each of the characters and some of the show’s oft-visited themes viewed through “closer looks” at key episodes. I’ve also included an extensive six-season episode guide.

Although there are episode guides all over the Internet offering episode recaps and credits (and even in-depth analyses, including my feature at Blogcritics), this guide is slightly different. It’s a road map through the series, showing you the highlights from six seasons: memorable scenes, House’s patented eureka moments, clinic patients, relationship highlights, music, and more — all from a fan’s perspective.”

Visit Barbara Barnett on the web at www.barbarabarnett.com.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Interview with D.W. Richards, author of 'Pairs'

D.W. Richards is a member of the Canadian Authors Association and beyond being a novelist he is also a script-doctor and freelance writer. An excerpt from Pairs will appear in the October 2010 issue of the international literary PDF quarterly Cantarville as a standalone fiction piece. In addition to creative writing, D.W. Richards has a Bachelor Degree in Psychology from Carleton University and is a Certified General Accountant. He divides his time between Venice, Italy and Ottawa, Canada.

Visit his website at www.pairsthenovel.com or connect with him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DW_Richards.

You can purchase a paperback copy of Pairs online by clicking here or order the Kindle edition by clicking here.

Q: Thank you for this interview, David. Can you tell us what your latest book, Pairs is all about?
Pairs is about following the sometimes unusual interactions of four rather quirky people: full stop. Well, Adam’s pretty conventional, but the other three are definitely marching to their own drum.

Needing a premise to connect the scenes, they become drawn together by friendship, love, sexual attraction and a communal sense of family. Their joint effort renovating a once grand mansion becomes a metaphor for helping one-and-other through personal discovery and rebirth.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
Although Pairs in many ways is a true ensemble cast of characters, it begins and ends with Kayley, a single mother whose artistic desires are stifled by the necessities that she must face as a mother of a four-year-old daughter. She finds herself in an evolving relationship with a younger man, Adam. He is a carpenter tired of fleeting romances and dead-end flings. His cousin, Henry, is an overly persnickety math teacher with a gentle manner who surprises no one more than himself when his role as tutor to a vaguely disquieting yet charismatic former stripper named Alexandra blossoms.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
It’s a mixed bag of goods. Some of the characters, such as Kayley are entirely made up, at least on a conscious level. Whereas others are peppered with attributes of people that I know or fictional characters that I am familiar with. Alexandra, for example, has the facial features of a real estate agent I met and the tendency toward literal interpretation of a friend’s nine-year-old daughter. There is also just the teeniest soupçon of Homer Simpson jumbled in somewhere. On the hand, the inspiration can be somewhat vague, as with Henry. Periodically while writing his character Oscar Wilde would briefly float in my thoughts, though I can’t exactly pinpoint the reason.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
I quite certainly had the plot laid out before I began, but that only had the barest relevance to the final outcome: so, kind of aware, but no, not really.

Q: Your book is set in Ottawa. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
The convenience of not having to make up the characters’ surroundings. The city is never named in Pairs but I did draw most of the physical locations from places that I have been in the city. One notable exception is Daleesha’s home, which is based on morphed childhood memories of my aunt’s residence in Cobourg, Canada. It’s a big house, so bits of it will likely crop again in my writing.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
The city itself does not, but the house that they are renovating together does. It is a real-world Ottawa find. It is a transmutation of a near derelict that I actually lived in for a short stint: ah, the memories. It serves not only as a metaphor for the rebuilding of the characters’ lives, as previously mentioned, but also as a symbol of family. Additionally, important plot events and themes, if not introduced at the house, are rooted there.



Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
It is a warm summer evening. The sun has set. Kayley has put her daughter down for the night and joins Adam in the small front yard of her townhouse. Dim illumination is being provided by two citronella torches and a nearby streetlight. Kayley is noticing the pleasure that she is taking in Adam’s company and she confides in him the story of her ex-husband and in so doing rounds out his prior understanding of events. The reader is getting a sense for a growing closeness between the two characters.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
“Okay, Henry,” Alexandra said. “Name three things that a woman would do for you on a perfect date.”

The question struck Henry as peculiar, but he was willing to indulge Alexandra. He thought about the dates he had in his life. He sifted out the best and wove together a theme of consideration that he refined before answering.

“That’s easy,” Henry replied. “She’d wear a summer dress—nothing fussy or overdone, but nice. She’d make dinner—again, nothing too fancy but something obviously thought out. And she wouldn’t ask me to help clean up afterwards. That’s just uncouth.”

Alexandra had suspected that the focus of Henry’s answer would be on the romance and not the sex. However, she had not been prepared for the degree of her accuracy. And it concerned her. Alexandra’s thrill became tempered with scepticism. There was a small voice inside her wondering if he was intentionally saying the things he suspected she wanted to hear. She remained staring at Henry with wonder and suspicion. It was his growing confusion over her long stare that finally gave Alexandra confidence in his sincerity, and her attention switched happily to Adam.

“And Adam, could you please name three things that would make a perfect date for you.”

He raised his head and looked at Alexandra. His concerns were not completely off of Kayley but he found the question intriguing, so his thoughts blended. The fantasy date that he imagined for himself had a face. A beautiful, blue-eyed, and pale-skinned face framed in blond curls. And, of course, there was that incredibly voluptuous figure to go with it.

“Okay,” Adam said. “But what is said at the stripper pole stays at the stripper pole. She shows up naked. She brings beer. She initiates sex.”

Alexandra looked back at Henry and after shrugging her shoulders, sauntered back toward the house.

“I’ll talk to Kayley,” she said.

Henry watched her walk away. He was reminded of his high school debating coach who had continually drilled into the team the importance of proof. He who asserts must prove. Or in the case at hand, she who asserts must prove. Henry finally managed his reply when she had reached the steps up to the patio.

“That has nothing to do with me being a girl,” he called out to her. “It has to do with maturity.”

“Dude,” Adam said.

“Not a word,” Henry replied, as he spun to face his cousin.

“Dude!”

“Nada!”

“You are such a girl!”

“Not you, too.”

Adam walked over to Henry, put his arm across his shoulders and turned with him toward the house in time to see Alexandra disappear through the doors.

“Look cuz,” Adam said. “She is good for you. She’s what you need and she is sane in all the important ways. And I will deny ever saying this, but she has a body that should be insured by Lloyd’s of London. If she wants to think of you as a cocker spaniel to help frame you in her head, I’d run with it if I were you. Focus on the important things. She is crazy about you.”

Henry thought fondly about Alexandra, appreciating that she was not calling his orientation or his gender into question. She was simply packaging him in terms that helped her to understand who he was. No woman had ever before cared enough, or respected him enough as a person, to make the effort. Any misgivings about a future with her, all second-guessing, vanished.

He looked at Adam and nodded. Henry knew his cousin was right and decided that he was not going to let himself get caught up in semantics when the bigger picture brought him such happiness.

“Adam,” Henry opened.

“Yeah?”

“I am in love with her.”

“I know,” Adam replied, happy to have his suspicions confirmed.

“So when I point something out, it’s not that I’m speaking badly of her.”

“What?”

“She means well.”

“Heart of gold.”

“But she can be very matter-of-fact,” Henry explained. “Not one to buffer things. Pretty much direct thought-to-speech.”

“And?”

“And you may want to find Kayley and explain things before Alexandra does.”

Henry fell into a sympathetic silence, biding his time until the significance of his advice fully registered with Adam. Henry’s wait wasn’t long.

“Oh shit.”

For Adam, there was something inherently unsettling about two women having a conversation involving him. From his personal experience, one way or the other, whether friends or foes, they end up sharing everything, absolutely everything.

He was fairly certain that Alexandra would eventually get around to telling Kayley about knowing him from the strip club and how much he liked her act. In response, Kayley would inform Alexandra that while her head had been buried inside her top, he had taken total advantage of the opportunity and just stared like a drooling pubescent. As an aside to his concerns, this struck him as a form of entrapment. His defence: there is much that is autopilot about being a man.

“I’m sure nothing will be said that you can’t grovel out of,” Henry teased.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, David. We wish you much success!
Thank you for your interest.



Pump Up Your Book February 2011 Authors on Tour Facebook Party this Friday!


WE'RE HAVING A FACEBOOK PARTY!!!!

Pump Up Your Book will be hosting the February 2011 Authors on Tour on Friday February 25, 2011 at 9 - 11 p.m. (eastern time - adjust to your time zone). Tell your book friends that not only will this give them an opportunity to chat with their favorite authors BUT...

WE'RE GIVING AWAY PRIZES!!!!


The participating authors and their giveaways include:

Rose Valenta is giving away a paperback copy of her humor book, Sitting on Cold Porcelain.

Allan Leverone is giving away an e-copy of his thriller, Final Vector, and 6 e-copies of Postcards from the Apocalypse.

Frank Edwards is giving away a paperback copy of his medical thriller, Final Mercy and a paperback copy of his poetry and short story book, It'll Ease the Pain.

Pamela Samuels Young will be giving away a paperback copy of her legal thriller, Murder on the Down Low, and a copy of her audio CD, How to Write a Novel Despite Your Day Job.

Sheila Hendrix will be giving away both a paperback copy and e-book copy of her YA paranormal, The Betrayal.

Cynthia Kocialski will be giving away a paperback copy of her startup business book, Startup from the Ground Up.

C.W. Gortner will be giving away a paperback copy of his historical mystery, The Tudor Secret.

Vincent Zandri will be giving away 2 autographed copies of his thriller, Moonlight Falls & 2 autographed copies of his thriller, The Remains!

Jeanne C. Davis will be giving away a paperback copy of her psychological mystery, Sheetrock Angel!

Frank Scully will be giving away an e-copy of his mystery novel, Resurrection Garden!

Pump Up Your Book will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate!!!!

To find out the details, visit our Facebook Party page here!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Women's Fiction Author Kristina McMorris on nationwide virtual book tour

Join Kristina McMorris, as she tours the blogosphere February 21 - March 25 2011 with Pump Up Your Book to talk about her new women's fiction novel, Letters From Home (Kensington). Kristina will be on a nationwide blog tour giving interviews, giving away copy of her books and meeting and greeting new and old fans!

Kristina's foray into fiction began in the fall of 2006 as a result of interviewing her grandmother for the biographical section of a self-published cookbook intended as a holiday gift for the family. Inspired by her grandparents’ wartime courtship, Kristina penned her first novel, a WWII love story titled Letters from Home. This award-winning debut is scheduled for release in trade paperback from Kensington Books (2-22-11; U.S.) and Avon/HarperCollins (5-5-11; U.K.). The condensed book rights have been sold to Reader’s Digest, and the film rights are represented by the prestigious Creative Artists Agency of Los Angeles.

Prior to her literary career, Kristina acted in numerous independent films and major motion pictures. She began hosting an Emmy-award winning television show at age nine, and most recently served as the six-year host of the WB’s weekly program Weddings Portland Style. Adding to her diverse résumé, McMorris is a professional emcee, literary workshop presenter, and former owner of a wedding/event planning business. Her previous writing background includes being a contributing writer for Portland Bride & Groom magazine and ten years of directing public relations for an international conglomerate.

Letters From Home
Inspired by a true account, LETTERS FROM HOME is a story of hope and connection, of sacrifices made in love and war – and the chance encounters that change us forever. n the midst of World War II, a Midwestern infantryman falls deeply in love through a yearlong letter exchange, unaware that the girl he’s writing to is not the one replying. Woven around this tenuous thread are three female friends whose journeys toward independence take unexpected turns as a result of romance, tragedy, and deception, their repercussions heightened by an era of the unknown.

A portion of Kristina’s sales proceeds from Letters from Home will benefit United Through Reading®, a nonprofit organization that video records deployed U.S. military personnel reading bedtime stories for their children. She is currently working on her next novel.

"A tough book to put down!...Sprinkled with fabulous historical detail and true-to-life characters, Letters from Home is a beautifully told story."
--RT BOOK REVIEWS, 4-star rating

"Interspersing unflinching images of combat with more intimate, emotional scenes personalizes this historical period and will touch your heart....I enjoyed this book from beginning to end."
--FRESH FICTION, Lenore Howard

"An absolutely lovely debut novel."
--KRISTIN HANNAH, New York Times bestselling author of Firefly Lane

"An evocative and compelling storyteller, Kristina McMorris gives us a novel to savor and remember."
--BEN SHERWOOD, president of ABC News and bestselling author of The Death & Life of Charlie St. Cloud

"Skillfully written...sweeps the readers away. The research and attention to detail commendably honor veterans of World War II."
--LYNN "BUCK" COMPTON, famed WWII "Band of Brothers" veteran

Watch the trailer!



If reading this through our feed and unable to view the trailer, click here ----> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q62fC3PlQ6E

For more information about her virtual book tour, you can visit Kristina's official tour page here.

Letters from Home


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!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview with Jeanne C. Davis - Author of Psychological Mystery 'Sheetrock Angel'



Jeanne C. Davis grew up in southern California then traveled the world as a Pan Am purser until she landed a job writing for the television series, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. She wrote, produced and directed the independent feature, The Uniform Motion of Folly. She is currently at work on her second novel which explores her life with Pan Am, and another feature film, Lip Service, along with a documentary about her family's four generations in the carousel business. Visit www.sheetrockangel.homestead.com or SheetrockAngel on Facebook. You also can visit Jeanne’s website at www.bricolage-arts.com.


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


A: I kept a diary intermittently as a child, but began journaling in earnest when I joined Pan Am. I started keeping an extended logbook which morphed into a legal sized page a day hardcover book that I schlepped around the globe. My B.A. was in psychology, but I took film and dramatic writing classes at U.C.L.A because I was married to an actor and reading a lot of bad screenplays. That led me first to radio, then to television writing. So I guess the answer is that I’ve been writing for 38 years, but only started getting paid for it 18 years ago. Twenty years of obscurity. Quite the overnight success.



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

A: Sheetrock Angel grew out of incidents in my own life. One in particular was when an acquaintance helped me install some sheetrock, then was killed on his motorcycle. Another was the fact that my mother was prone to depression which led me to speculate that I might succumb someday. When I went through a depression after my divorce, I worried that it would become a habit. I upped the stakes and gave my character’s mother schizophrenia, then wrote a mystery intertwining those elements.

What kind of research was involved in writing Sheetrock Angel?

A: Because it began as a screenplay, I scouted locations which gave me a sense of place, particularly for the portions of the book that are set in northern California. I have a paralegal certificate which gave me some background on the procedural part of the story, but beyond that, I simply drew from the number of people I’ve met over the years to create characters who kept me on my toes. I did an independent study in college on a friend’s sister who was schizophrenic and interviewed a colleague who has struggled with the syndrome. She vetted the scenes involving schizophrenia for me.

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

A: It was a bumpy ride finishing Sheetrock Angel. It began as a screenplay 15 years ago; I then did a first draft of the novel and stuck it in the drawer for a few years. I took it out and revised it in 2002, put it back in the drawer for another couple of years, then took it out again in 2008 when I revised it by setting it back in 1995. I did this because I awoke one morning from a dream that told me something about the lives of the characters in present day.

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

A: An agent friend of mine advised me to have it published through Amazon’s publishing arm because he felt I’d see a larger return than going through a traditional publisher. It really only took about a month to get it set.

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 had a couple of different television agents, but I don’t have a literary agent. I believe that if you can get an agent, it will save you a lot of time, but with all the different publishing venues out there now, I think perseverance and self-promotion can lead you to the same place. Quite possibly to a more ultimately lucrative place since you might cut a better deal with a company like Amazon and not have to pay the percentage to an agent.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Absolutely. I’m hard at work on a novel that incorporates my experiences with Pan Am.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: My husband and I live in a one-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica. He has let me appropriate the dining room as my office, so that’s my little slice of heaven. I have a work desk on which I work exclusively with a computer and a journaling desk where I write in longhand. I tried to use the computer, but it never felt right. I didn’t like the fact that I could edit it. I journal almost in a stream of consciousness and never correct or edit.

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

A: I’d take an ad in the Threepenny Review because it’s my favorite literary publication. Next I’d have Ashton Kutcher tweet Sheetrock Angel.

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

A: I think self-promotion is all important these days. With the consolidation of the publishing industry, promotional budgets have been slashed. Even the best selling authors are complaining about publisher support. If you want your book to be read, get out there and beat your drum. I’ve had all my friends on Facebook tell all their friends that I’m willing to speak at any book club within driving distance of southern California.

When I was back east last Fall, I spoke at a couple in Maine and Massachusetts. I also go into independent book stores – where you can still find them – and offer to do readings. I land about 50% of those. I just cross my fingers and hope that enough people will find Sheetrock Angel to create a ground swell of popular support.

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

A: The most common reason is that doors are constantly being slammed in our faces. You just have to steel yourself and plow ahead. I’m addicted to writing. For me, it’s like breathing. Giving up isn’t an option.

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


A: Bear in mind all the advice about stumping for your book, but ultimately, love your work. Keep your eyes off the prize and on the process. It may not be the formula for financial success, but it is for daily happiness.

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

A: Your lips to God’s ears. Thank you!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Urban fiction author Frank C. Matthews: 'My characters are almost always based on real people'

Prodigious and profound author Frank C. Matthews’ triumphant transformation from inmate to novelist has established him as a leading force in the world of urban literature. Armed with his mastery of the written word, Matthews has achieved feats that are only reserved for the most seasoned of writers, selling an unprecedented amount of books as a first-time author and self-publisher. When it comes to putting the urban voice – the human voice – on the page, Matthews has no peer. His unprecedented journey demonstrates that even when confronted with a web of trials and tribulations, creativity has the ability to flourish. As a New York City native, Matthews grew up with aspirations of one day becoming a household name as an NBA Superstar. His dream took a detour, but his resilience and determination allowed him to persevere.

The lure of the streets and its fast money took Matthews away from hoops and into another game – the drug trade – where he found instant success. But a deal gone bad eventually landed him behind bars. Once incarcerated, Matthews had few options of how to spend his seemingly unending time in what felt like a black hole drawing at all happiness. Taking advantage of the still and silent nights, Matthews spent hours plunged into two of the world’s most renowned, contemporary African-American storytellers, Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines.

The books empowered the now bright-eyed and enthusiastic Matthews and awakened a creative bug to tell the stories locked inside him. “Incarceration transformed me,” said Matthews. “I went from a young, frustrated, and confused boy to a mature, humble, and pensive man.” Much the way Malcolm X used the power of words to transform himself in prison, Matthews used the power of the pen to write his way to freedom, real freedom. While the calamities of his past may have blackened his vision they did not still his pen. He found his purpose. He would write his stories in notebooks, on torn-open envelopes, and anything he could get his hands on and would pass them around through the system. While some traded cigarettes, Matthews traded his highly demanded stories, which inmates clung to like emotional life rafts.

Matthews delved into the business of publishing, an industry he now planned to one day master. He found his style of writing to be unique, labeling it as “true fiction,” an alternate take on real events he had witnessed firsthand. He honed his craft and further developed a distinctive writing style that was uninhibited, dramatic yet cinematic as his readers traveled to adventurous sonic territory. He had a burning desire to share his rare experiences in the underworld of crime with anyone who would listen. Matthews’ drive and passion was reinvigorated. He would be relentless in his pursuit to share with the masses his tales of underworld crime, drama, brotherhood and love.

Upon his rebirth in 2005, Matthews discovered that he could put his past behind him and emerge with a renewed sense of purpose and unwavering determination. The resilient author took his astounding gift of writing “true fiction,” coupled with his compulsion for words and decided to pursue his passion. Even after numerous failed attempts at landing a publishing deal, Matthews did what he learned to do best – create opportunities for himself. He knew that there was an untapped niche audience eager to hear his voice, and he was steadfast in his desire to supplant the current favorites in the urban lit arena.

Matthews self-published one of his first novels, Respect the Jux, and it caught fire, selling over 20,000 thousand copies. The book catapulted Matthews into the sphere typically reserved for seasoned literary greats while capturing the attention of everyone from rappers Jay-Z, Ghostface Killer, and 50 Cent (who rapped on Lloyd Banks’s single, “Hands up, if you want to party with crooks you have to learn to Respect the Jux!”) to literary powerhouses like bestselling author and publisher Karen Hunter.

The gripping tale borrows from Matthews’ recollection of urban legends through the saga of Cat, who journeyed from Jamaica to the United States as a teenager. After a stint in the military, Cat returned with newfound skills and a desire for his own version of the American Dream—by any means necessary.

Using his extensive military background in weapons and intelligence, Cat formed “The Order,” a band of thieves that specialized in pulling off juxes, which Matthews defines as emulating and acquiring another’s style, intellect, or swagger for personal advancement.

Captivating, intriguing, mesmerizing – all words that describe Frank Matthews’ uncanny ability to bring readers into the worlds that he creates. His first auspicious debut Respect the Jux, a dynamic tale of brotherhood, greed, and power, hits the shelves nationwide in September, the style made famous by Slim and Goines will be revived…with a 21st century twist!

Visit his website at www.frankmatthews.com.



Q: Thank you for this interview, Frank. Can you tell us what your latest book, Respect the Jux, is all about?

The book is about a foreigner coming to America chasing the American dream as he depicts it to be. He fails in acquiring it in the manner that we consider to be the right way and forms a fraternity of thieves to achieve it.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
In Jamaica . . . he learned the art of the "jux": robbing people by studying their everyday movements. By the age of eight, Cat was shoplifting and purse-snatching. By ten, he had his first gun. At fifteen, he committed his first murder.

In New York City . . . he created The Order: a secret society of thieves who played by Cat's rules. He taught his crew how to pull off the perfect jux. Made them swear on a bible and a bullet. Robbed dealers, pushers, thugs. And raked in millions. Then Cat was betrayed—by one of his own men.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
My characters are almost always based on real people I write from two degrees of separation.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
I have 14 books already written and I’m constantly writing every day in my head from real life experiences so I’m away of my plots.

Q: Your book is set in New York City. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
My book is set in New York City because that’s where I’m familiar with being born and raised here.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?


Yes because you need to be aware of your characters’ surroundings to paint a vivid picture.



Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?


A major Jux is taking place, but I can’t give it away. You have to get the book and read it. LOL

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
That night, Cat drove Banit to a large farm-style house in Bayside, Queens. The house was bought by Cat in his sister’s name. It was a quiet and dark neighborhood by the lake, which made it easy to slip in and out without being seen. They pulled into the driveway, exited the car, walked up to the front door and Cat took out a set of keys. The house had three entrances—front, side door, and back. Cat looked at Banit once more in approval before opening the front door. They entered a long hallway at least fifteen feet before reaching an altar. Cat asked Banit to read the inscription on the front side aloud.

“Beside Christ, there were two thieves, the repentant and the impenitent thief,” Banit recited.

“Don’t ever forget that,” Cat told him.

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Spotlight: "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…


In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Read an excerpt!

Jamie made a fire in a sheltered spot, and sat down next to it. The rain had eased to a faint drizzle that misted the air and spangled my eyelashes with rainbows when I looked at the flames.

He sat staring into the fire for a long time. Finally he looked up at me, hands clasped around his knees.
"I said before that I'd not ask ye things ye had no wish to tell me. And I'd not ask ye now; but I must know, for your safety as well as mine." He paused, hesitating.
"Claire, if you've never been honest wi' me, be so now, for I must know the truth. Claire, are ye a witch?"

I gaped at him. "A witch? You—you can really ask that?" I thought he must be joking. He wasn't.

He took me by the shoulders and gripped me hard, staring into my eyes as though willing me to answer him.
"I must ask it, Claire! And you must tell me!"

"And if I were?" I asked through dry lips. "If you had thought I were a witch? Would you still have fought for me?"

"I would have gone to the stake with you!" he said violently. "And to hell beyond, if I must. But may the Lord Jesus have mercy on my soul and on yours, tell me the truth!"

The strain of it all caught up with me. I tore myself out of his grasp and ran across the clearing. Not far, only to the edge of the trees; I could not bear the exposure of the open space. I clutched a tree; put my arms around it and dug my fingers hard into the bark, pressed my face to it and shrieked with hysterical laughter.

Jamie's face, white and shocked, loomed up on the other side of the tree. With the dim realization that what I was doing must sound unnervingly like cackling, I made a terrific effort and stopped. Panting, I stared at him for a moment.

"Yes," I said, backing away, still heaving with gasps of unhinged laughter. "Yes, I am a witch! To you, I must be. I've never had smallpox, but I can walk through a room full of dying men and never catch it. I can nurse the sick and breathe their air and touch their bodies, and the sickness can't touch me. I can't catch cholera, either, or lockjaw, or the morbid sore throat. And you must think it's an enchantment, because you've never heard of vaccine, and there's no other way you can explain it."

"The things I know—" I stopped backing away and stood still, breathing heavily, trying to control myself. "I know about Jonathan Randall because I was told about him. I know when he was born and when he'll die, I know about what he's done and what he'll do, I know about Sandringham because ... because Frank told me. He knew about Randall because he ... he ... oh, God!" I felt as though I might be sick, and closed my eyes to shut out the spinning stars overhead.

"And Colum ... he thinks I'm a witch, because I know Hamish isn't his own son. I know ... he can't sire children. But he thought I knew who Hamish's father is ... I thought maybe it was you, but then I knew it couldn't be, and..." I was talking faster and faster, trying to keep the vertigo at bay with the sound of my own voice.

"Everything I've ever told you about myself was true," I said, nodding madly as though to reassure myself. "Everything. I haven't any people, I haven't any history, because I haven't happened yet.

"Do you know when I was born?" I asked, looking up. I knew my hair was wild and my eyes staring, and I didn't care. "On the twentieth of October, in the Year of Our Lord nineteen hundred and eighteen. Do you hear me?" I demanded, for he was blinking at me unmoving, as though paying no attention to a word I said. "I said nineteen eighteen! Nearly two hundred years from now! Do you hear?"

I was shouting now, and he nodded slowly.

"I hear," he said softly.

"Yes, you hear!" I blazed. "And you think I'm raving mad. Don't you? Admit it! That's what you think. You have to think so, there isn't any other way you can explain me to yourself. You can't believe me, you can't dare to. Oh, Jamie..." I felt my face start to crumple. All this time spent hiding the truth, realizing that I could never tell anyone, and now I realized that I could tell Jamie, my beloved husband, the man I trusted beyond all others, and he wouldn't—he couldn't believe me either.

"It was the rocks—the fairy hill. The standing stones. Merlin's stones. That's where I came through." I was gasping, half-sobbing, becoming less coherent by the second. "Once upon a time, but it's really two hundred years. It's always two hundred years, in the stories. ... But in the stories, the people always get back. I couldn't get back." I turned away, staggering, grasping for support. I sank down on a rock, shoulders slumped, and put my head in my hands. There was a long silence in the wood. It went on long enough for the small night birds to recover their courage and start their noises once again, calling to each other with a thin, high zeek! as they hawked for the last insects of the summer.

I looked up at last, thinking that perhaps he had simply risen and left me, overcome by my revelations. He was still there, though, still sitting, hands braced on his knees, head bowed as though in thought.

The hairs on his arms shone stiff as copper wires in the firelight, though, and I realized that they stood erect, like the bristles on a dog. He was afraid of me.

"Jamie," I said, feeling my heart break with absolute loneliness. "Oh, Jamie."

I sat down and curled myself into a ball, trying to roll myself around the core of my pain. Nothing mattered any longer, and I sobbed my heart out.

His hands on my shoulders raised me, enough to see his face. Through the haze of tears, I saw the look he wore in battle, of struggle that had passed the point of strain and become calm certainty.

"I believe you," he said firmly. "I dinna understand it a bit—not yet—but I believe you. Claire, I believe you! Listen to me! There's the truth between us, you and I, and whatever ye tell me, I shall believe it." He gave me a gentle shake.

"It doesna matter what it is. You've told me. That's enough for now. Be still, mo duinne. Lay your head and rest. You'll tell me the rest of it later. And I'll believe you."

I was still sobbing, unable to grasp what he was telling me. I struggled, trying to pull away, but he gathered me up and held me tightly against himself, pushing my head into the folds of his plaid, and repeating over and over again, "I believe you."

At last, from sheer exhaustion, I grew calm enough to look up and say, "But you can't believe me."
He smiled down at me. His mouth trembled slightly, but he smiled.

"Ye'll no tell me what I canna do, Sassenach." He paused a moment. ... A long time later, he spoke.

"All right. Tell me now."

I told him. Told him everything, haltingly but coherently. I felt numb from exhaustion, but content, like a rabbit that has outrun a fox, and found temporary shelter under a log. It isn't sanctuary, but at least it is respite. And I told him about Frank.
"Frank," he said softly. "Then he isna dead, after all."

"He isn't born." I felt another small wave of hysteria break against my ribs, but managed to keep myself under control. "Neither am I."

He stroked and patted me back into silence, making his small murmuring Gaelic sounds.

"When I took ye from Randall at Fort William," he said suddenly, "you were trying to get back. Back to the stones. And ... Frank. That's why ye left the grove."
"Yes."

"And I beat you for it." His voice was soft with regret.

"You couldn't know. I couldn't tell you." I was beginning to feel very drowsy indeed.

"No, I dinna suppose ye could." He pulled the plaid closer around me, tucking it gently around my shoulders. "Do ye sleep now, mo duinne. No one shall harm ye; I'm here."

I burrowed into the warm curve of his shoulder, letting my tired mind fall through the layers of oblivion. I forced myself to the surface long enough to ask, "Do you really believe me, Jamie?"
He sighed, and smiled ruefully down at me.

"Aye, I believe ye, Sassenach. But it would ha' been a good deal easier if you'd only been a witch."

Excerpted from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon Copyright © 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. Excerpted by permission of Dell, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Read the reviews!

“Absorbing and heartwarming…lavishly evokes the land and lore of Scotland.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Stunning!”

—Los Angeles Daily News

“It is a large canvas that Gabaldon paints, filled with strong passions and derring-do. Strong willed and sensual, Claire is an engaging modern heroine plopped down in a simpler, more primitive time…. Great fun …marvelous and fantastic adventures, romance, sex …perfect escape reading!”

—San Francisco Chronicle

PURCHASE OUTLANDER BY DIANA GABALDON BY CLICKING HERE! ALSO AVAILABLE IN A KINDLE EDITION WITH BONUS CONTENT!



Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting “Scrooge McDuck” comics.”


The adventure began in 1991 with the classic OUTLANDER (“historical fiction with a Moebius twist”), has continued through six more New York Times-bestselling novels–DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, VOYAGER, DRUMS OF AUTUMN, THE FIERY CROSS, A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, and AN ECHO IN THE BONE, with nineteen million copies in print worldwide.


The series is published in 26 countries and 23 languages, and includes a nonfiction (well, relatively) companion volume, THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, which provides details on the settings, background, characters, research, and writing of the novels. Gabaldon (it’s pronounced “GAA-bull-dohn”—rhymes with “stone”) has also written several books in a sub-series featuring Lord John Grey (a major minor character from the main series): LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER, LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, and LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS. Another Lord John book, LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, will probably be published in 2011).


Returning to her comic-book roots, she has also written a graphic novel titled THE EXILE (set within the OUTLANDER universe and featuring the main characters from OUTLANDER), but told from the viewpoint of Jamie Fraser and his godfather, Murtagh. The graphic novel is illustrated by Hoang Nguyen, published by Del-Rey.


Gabaldon is presently working on the third Lord John novel (LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER), and the eighth book in the OUTLANDER series. In addition, she is working on a contemporary mystery series, set in Phoenix, and has written Highly Scholarly Introductions (with masses of footnotes) to recent Modern Library editions of Sir Walter Scott’s IVANHOE and Thomas Paine’s COMMON SENSE.


Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, (plus an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters, which entitles her to be “Diana Gabaldon, Ph.D., D.H.L.” She supposes this is better than “Diana Gabaldon, Phd.X,”) and spent a dozen years as a university professor with an expertise in scientific computation before beginning to write fiction. She has written scientific articles and textbooks, worked as a contributing editor on the MacMillan ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMPUTERS, founded the scientific-computation journal SCIENCE SOFTWARE QUARTERLY, and has written numerous comic-book scripts for Walt Disney. None of this has anything whatever to do with her novels, but there it is.


She and her husband, Douglas Watkins, have three adult children and live mostly in Scottsdale, Arizona.


You can visit Diana online at www.DianaGabaldon.com.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chat with Online Urban Fantasy Series 'Clock Work' Author Erin Bassett

E.L. Bassett, informally Erin and familiarly Rin, has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Before that she was prone to telling you all about how her sister was an alien and her dog pulled carts for garden fairies and dragging you into to the backyard to show you were Flybys (insect like creatures with powers over the elements) were nesting. Her penchant for the fantastic carried through grade school, evolving into a fascination with Dragons. She was constantly in the library reading everything she could, which of course led to the discovery of J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. She then knew she wanted to be a writer and her main genre would be fantasy.

In 4th grade she participated in the ECISD annual Oral Traditions Competition, her story being one complete with unicorns and ogres, taking home 6th place in the city. She can still recall the first 5 lines, which probably has a lot to do with the unicorn.

After joining the North Texas Speculative Fiction Writer’s Workshop while studying at TCU she was included in their chapter book with the science fiction story: Spirit of Hope. Since then she has been published in Indigo Rising, Raven Images and Abandoned Towers Magazine and has a chapbook published by Diminuendo Press.

The serial Clock Work came about when the Managing Editor at Abandoned Towers contacted Erin with the offer. After writing up a brief synopsis on two of the, many, works in progress, Clock Work was chosen. From there illustrator Juliet Doherty was found and the project came to life.

Erin enjoys off beat, out the ordinary writing of the urban fantasy persuasion, but also revels in classic fantasy stories with gripping battles, wizards, dragons or monsters, and epic fight scenes set in far off, mythical or fantastic places. Her book shelves are packed with everything from Holly Black, Martin Miller and Terry Pratchett to Christy Lijewski, Dean Koontz and Hal Duncan.

You can visit Erin Bassett’s website at: www.elbassett.com


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

A: It’s certainly my pleasure! Well, I am currently Senior Editor for CW Productions, I have a chapbook out from Diminuendo Press, several poems printed in magazines and a 4 year member of North Texas Speculative Fiction Writers group.

I usually tell people I’ve been writing since I learned how to; but I have been making up stories to entertain my sister and family since I could talk. I had an over active imagination as a kid and, honestly, that hasn’t calmed down any since becoming an adult.

Q: Introduce us to your online series. Who is the main character and where is everything taking place?

A: Clock Work is an Urban Fantasy story based around a young girl named Esther St. Claire. After returning to her private High School, Westin Academy, following the death of her parents she is treated to a very odd reception that culminates in the Westin student body being attacked by creatures thought to only exists in myths and story books. Esther is faced with the choice of accepting her role within the chaos and helping to tame it, or ignoring it and continuing life as she has been.


Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you face writing not only in your genre but writing an online series?

A: Time restraints. I am used to having all the time in the world to finish up my novels and chapbooks. I am not restricted in any way other than to finish; eventually. With the serial, it forces me to not only write with a word count, but write linearly. I am a very organic writer and usually start with the middle, move to the end then write scenes that pop into my head. I am left to connect the dots, as it were, after I feel I have finished and that's a huge time sink; as any organic writer can attest to. I absolutely cannot do that with Clock Work; it would never air! So learning, or to be more honest forcing, myself to sit and write what the next episode needs and not skip off into the ether of episode 129 has been the biggest challenge.

Q: Why did you go with writing an online series and not a book or series of books?

A: The opportunity fell in my lap. I was contacted by the Managing Editor of Abandoned Towers about doing a serial for them. After writing up two synopses of the many (many) works in progress I have Clock Work was chosen. We, the publishing house and I, do plan on releasing a hard copy of Clock Work in the near future. It would be a series of books as well since I have an open ended contract and, at this moment, there is no end in sight.

Q: You work with an illustrator for your series. Would you tell us how you found an illustrator and how that relationship works?

A: I found Juliet on Deviant Art. I had been watching her for a while, quietly adoring her work. When my last illustrator didn’t work out I sent Juliet a very shy note asking if she could possibly, maybe, hopefully even consider working with me. I had a backup in mind, but I couldn’t bring myself to even email them until I heard back from Juliet. I thought it was a long shot. Imagine my surprise when she noted me back so positively! I was ecstatic!

Since then we have been working with each other’s very hectic schedules and it’s been marvelous. How we work is that she reads the episode or, if she's in a time crunch, I send her an excerpt I'd like to have illustrated. She then sends me a few sketches and I choose which one works the best for the episode. We work very closely.

It was extremely important for me to have more of a partner in my illustrator then just someone I send ideas to and Juliet has been that and more. I tend to gush over her, but I really couldn’t ask for a more amazingly talented illustrator for Clock Work or for such a great new friend. Please go support her work!

http://kitten-chan.deviantart.com/

Q: Do you have any advice for someone who is planning to start an online series?

A: Be diligent. And daring. Set goals you can meet, but also don't be afraid of challenging yourself. I myself have a few serious health problems that sometimes get in the way of my work and I cannot always post at the stroke of midnight on the 4th. But you will find a fan base if you really give it your all and try. And don't get discouraged! Find one or two people that read you every time you post and don't hesitate to ask their thoughts on the recent episode. Start a dialog. Just talking about your work and seeing the reaction of a reader is a great way to keep motivated!

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I have two more poetry books, one with the photographer Tracy Davis for photo illustrations. I am constantly sending off poems and short stories to magazines and I have the first book of a YA Fantasy series under contract and in editing. I am also taking on clients for in house editing at CW Productions. Good thing I like to stay busy!

Q: Thank you for your interview, Erin. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web?

A: Certainly my pleasure! I can be found:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/10thMuse
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Clock-Work/80408507198

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Conversation with Cynthia Kocialski, author of Start Up from the Ground Up

Cynthia Kocialski is the founder of three companies – two fabless semiconductor and one software company. In the past 15 years, she has been involved in dozens of start-ups and has served on various advisory boards. These companies have collectively returned billions of dollars to investors. Cynthia has worked with established companies to bring start-up techniques and technologies to corporations desiring to process improvement and efficiency.

Prior to her work in the start-up community, Cynthia has held a wide range of technical, marketing, and management positions at major corporations. At IBM, Cynthia began with financial software to facilitate the tracking of sales and inventory for international operations. She later moved into development and engineering management working of scientific workstations. Finally, Cynthia transitioned into technical marketing and strategic planning role for graphics and digital video components for personal computers. At Matrox, Cynthia was the general manager, overseeing the R&D area of digital video and image processing product lines,
Cynthia graduated of the University of Rochester with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and applied statistics. She also has graduate degrees from the University of Virginia in both electrical engineering and systems engineering.

She also writes the popular Start-up Entrepreneurs’ Blog and has written many articles on emerging technologies.

Her latest book is Start Up from the Ground Up: Practical Insights for Entrepreneurs.
You can visit her website at www.cynthiakocialski.com.

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

My book is about start-up companies. I do a lot of work with start-ups. In recent years, the start-up community has been in turmoil because it is tied to economic conditions, which has given me the opportunity to pause and really stop and think about start-ups – what makes them work and what mistakes entrepreneurs make over and over again.

I began the Start-up Entrepreneur’s blog prior to writing my book. I noted what types of posts seem to catch readers’ attentions. Entrepreneurs were attracted to posts on getting funding and getting customers to speak with them. Investors, on the other hand, were attracted by how entrepreneurs frustrate them with their lack of understanding of investors. So there it was, entrepreneurs wanted funding, but investors didn’t fund start-ups because they didn’t see them as knowing what was necessary and important.



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

I let the audience create and chose my book title. I conducted some online surveys. I gave people a short description of my book, and had asked hundreds people to suggest titles. I took the titles I liked best and then did another survey. I asked them which the best title was. I even added some titles of the better selling business books already available. No one liked the titles that I came up with! But I was in good company because no one liked the titles of best sellers either.

I did add the subtitle without a survey. I did keyword research and there were three keywords that I wanted to appear in either the title or subtitle – new business, startup and entrepreneur. My book title is “Startup from the Ground Up - Practical Insights for Entrepreneurs, How to Go from an Idea to New Business”.


Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?
I self-published my book. I spoke with authors, some who had self-published and some who had used a publisher, and asked their opinions about how to publish. I can remember asking a published author what a publisher did for him and his response was “Not much really.” When I probed about marketing and promotion, the published authors told me you had to do much of this yourself. So I made the decision to self-publish because I couldn’t see what the value add was for a publisher.

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?

Since I am the publisher, I have done as much as possible to promote my book. The funny thing is writing, publishing and marketing a book is much the same as starting a company. The same principles apply. Some points I make in my book are start-ups are not DIY projects, they are DIWO (Do-It-With-Others) projects and success hinges upon building the right team. So while I have been doing some promotion myself, like setting up speaking engagements at conferences, I have engaged with outside services to promote and market my book.


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

Before I started writing my book, I did some research on similar business books that resulted from the same keyword search as those I chose. For the better selling ones, I read the best and worst reviews. From the reviews, I created a list of what readers expected from the book, what they liked, and what they disliked. I used the information to guide my writing.

I could have written an academic style book – interesting and research oriented, but not useful. What readers wanted was practical, down-to-earth, specific knowledge of how to get a business started and going. They wanted the recipe and they wanted the instructions to be quick-to-read and easy-to-understand. That’s what I tried to give the readers.

I went to the institutional and professional investors that invest in start-up companies and asked what they thought was necessary in the very beginnings of a company. I’ve personally been involved with many start-ups, but collectively, these people have seen thousands of companies get started – and only some succeed. This created the minimal items that need to be put in place just for an entrepreneur to get going. Between my experiences in start-ups and those of other entrepreneurs, I was able to fill in the investors’ general notions of what’s needed with real life examples and specifics.

I modeled my book after Harry Beckwith’s popular marketing books. Every chapter is short and imparts some nugget of useful, practical information about performing marketing. His chapters are self-contained so you don’t have to read the previous chapters to get the point. I’ve found entrepreneurs to be impatient people, who want quick answers about how to do something. They don’t want to read a 300 page book on how to do one of a thousand details needed to operate a company.

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

The opened page discusses the investors’ perspective. It shows what investors think is important. If you ask a new entrepreneur what is the most important key to success, the answer will almost always be a great product. Ask an investor the same question, and guess what, the product is one of the least important keys to success. For an investor, the company is the product. Investors want to know how entrepreneurs are going to create and build a company, not how they going to develop a new gadget. What investors know is that a great company will find and discover the right products and markets that will make the company successful. That great product the entrepreneur has in mind is just the initial stake in the ground, the opening move.


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

In the technology industry, there been speculation and discussions about augmented reality books. I want to try writing one of these types of books, where the written word is coupled with the different digital technologies to enhance what’s written.

Of course, the topic would once again be start-ups. My theme is the life of a start-up as the company grows and flows through the machinery of the business world. One of my favorite books is “Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy”, and I would like to write a book with a similar approach, except in my case, the start-up company itself is the product. We’ve become a world of specialists with niche skills. It seems as though we lost the generalist who knows how the whole start-up needs to operate and can gather these specialists together to succeed, and who also knows the entrepreneurial macro-system and how a fledgling company operates within it.


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

Every start-up begins with great enthusiasm and passion for the business. The teams are flowing with optimism and positive attitudes. Start-ups are great to be around in the honeymoon phase. The question is when reality arrives and it’s not as easy as it first seemed, does the entrepreneur and team view the road ahead as a struggle or an adventure. Those who view it as a struggle will quit before they get to the end because there are other options available to them in the working world. Those who enjoy the thrill and excitement of the adventure will succeed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Interview with Frank Scully, Author of 'Resurrection Garden'


Frank Scully was born and raised in a small town in North Dakota and received a Bachelor’s degree in History with Phi Beta Kappa Honors and a Juris Doctor degree in Law from the University of North Dakota. He then served more than five years as a Judge Advocate General Corps Officer in the U. S. Army in the U. S., Vietnam, and Thailand. After that he attended the prestigious Thunderbird School and received a Masters in Business Administration with honors. In his professional career he has worked as an executive with large aerospace and defense manufacturers and also owned his own small business.


Depending on the vagaries of the universe he has been well off at times and broke, but never broken, at other times. Blessed with an understanding wife who gave him twin sons, he has remained through it all a dreamer whose passion is writing stories that will entertain readers.
Visit Frank online at http://www.frankjscully.com/.

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

I have been writing, in one form or another, since I was in college 40 years ago. However, for much of that time it was legal or business oriented writing and not fiction. My foray into fiction began about 20 years ago when, at the urging of my wife, I began to write the novels that were swirling around in my head. Of course, the first efforts were rough and not ready for prime time. After much practice, editing, re-writing and polishing I sought publication and that led to another journey of rejection and revisions on several of my completed novels before Resurrection Garden was accepted. The others have followed and now I have five books under contract. As with all good things, you must work a long time to become an overnight success.

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

Resurrection Garden was not the working title. It comes from something one of my main characters says towards the end of the book. As soon as I wrote it, I knew it was the right title for the book.

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

I do not have any aspirations of literary importance or greatness but I do believe that the story is unique and entertaining. Readers will learn something about the time and place, 1904 North Dakota, as well as the wider circumstances that relate to the people involved while enjoying a murder mystery filled with suspense and populated by interesting characters.
Q: Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, MuseItUp Publishing have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

Ultimately, the publisher has final say but the cover artist, Delilah Stephans, and the publisher, Lea Schizas, requested input from me and worked closely with me to get a cover that conveys something special about the book. I am very satisfied with the final result.

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?

The publisher and staff at MuseItUp are doing some marketing but ultimately it falls to the author to do a large part of the marketing of a book. I am normally a relatively private person but I have to get outside of my comfort zone and do the promotion work both in person and online to drive sales as much as possible. In addition to blog tours, I am also sending out press releases and working to get news articles on myself and the book in local papers or magazines. I hand out business cards with the book cover and promotional information printed on them to friends, relatives, business associates and anyone who stands still long enough for me to grab. Building an audience requires a lot of effort and is a task that never ends.

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

A: There are a number of historical mysteries set in the Victorian or Gaslight era that are wonderful reads. However, most of these are set in large cites such as New York while Resurrection Garden is set in pioneer North Dakota where homesteaders are settling what is left of the open prairie. The times are changing even here with the train the telegraph revolutionizing travel and communication. Immigrants are arriving each day to settle on land and work for their part of the American Dream. Resurrection Garden is not a western in the traditional sense nor is it a Victorian mystery. It provides a unique perspective to the pioneer experience at the turn of the 20th century.

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

Deputy Sheriff Jake Turner is still weak but recovering from a gunshot wound. He is in his office doing paperwork when a man brings in a young boy he caught stealing eggs from his henhouse. Jake discovers the boy is an almost starving orphan.
Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I am writing what I call the Decade Mystery Series. This will incorporate at least one novel set in each decade from the beginning of the 20th century to the current time set in different locales with both continuing and new characters in each one. There is something unique in each decade that marks it as separate from what went before or what follows. I shall explore aspects of what is unique as it is expressed in the locale chosen and how it affects the culture, characters and the tenor of the times and yet also see the common humanity that never changes. Resurrection Garden is unique among the books in the series in that it is set where my grandparents settled. The idea behind the story came to me while I was driving through one of North Dakota’s harsh winter blizzards. The idea led to research which fed the story background. My next book which is coming out in June, 2011 is called Dead Man’s Gambit and is set in 1995 in California. I have four more books already written and another started with several more waiting their turn to be turned from notes to manuscripts.

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

It has been a pleasure. My website is: http://www.frankjscully.com/. It is a work in progress but all are welcome to visit and leave a comment on my blog there.

Resurrection Garden is available as an eBook for $5.95 at the publisher’s bookstore, or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, Omnilit and many other online booksellers.