Monday, October 31, 2011

Michelle Richardson on Virtual Book Tour Nov. 1!

Join Michelle Richardson, author of the contemporary romance novel, It’s Simple (iUniverse), as she virtually tours the blogosphere November 1 – 23 2011 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

The general consensus is that relationships are easy to start but challenging to maintain. Although we may not think so, our choices ultimately determine the types of relationships we have. It’s truly funny how after we’ve contributed to the chaotic state of the relationship, we hire therapists to fix us, to tell us it’s not our fault when it typically is. The truth? Therapists don’t fix us; they provide tools that guide us. Ultimately, we find the solutions ourselves and, for the most part, we really need to forget what we’ve heard. Relationships can be complicated, littered with challenges and that preventable thing called drama. Just ask Tia and Chase.

They met as teenagers. Upon graduation from college, things got complicated. Chase was drafted to the Los Angeles Lakers; Tia was offered a position in the Obama administration. Despite the geographical distance, Tia and Chase stayed together.

But how easy is it to make love last? It’s simple-if we can be honest, forgiving, and patient with each other. Here’s a unique look at a progressive couple and how their choices impact their journey; providing a truthful and sometimes painful look at real life scenarios and how two fiercelly driven and stubborn lovers choose to handle them. Experience life from a different perspective.

Giveaways, Contests & Prizes!

WIN THIS BEAUTIFUL BASKET!

Would you like to win this gorgeous basket with lots of goodies from Michelle Richardson???

On Friday, November 18, Michelle will be giving this beautiful basket away at the Pump Up Your Book Live! Chat / Book Giveaway Party! Contents include one signed copy of It’s Simple, five (5) It’s Simple bookmarks, one earthenware mug w/Tea for Life packets, one decorative votive candle holder and candle and one Live. Love. Laugh decorative box!

Participate in the chat and you could win!

Click here to find out more details!

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It’s Simple Thanksgiving Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of It’s Simple, Michelle is having a contest! Share your ideas for establishing and maintaining a fulling relationship, tell us if there is someone from your high school years you regret not developing a relationship with or what you would sacrifice to have a good, loving long-lasting relationship, you could win a “Live Love Laugh It’s Simple Keepsake Box” with a host of delectable goodies inside!

To win, click on Michelle’s It’s Simple Facebook Fan Page here and leave your comment! You can find out how to win by clicking here! If you already aren’t a fan, click “Like” at the top of the page to leave your comment. Good luck!

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Enter to win a copy of It’s Simple at Goodreads!

Win a copy of It's Simple at Goodreads! Contest closes November 19.

Click here to enter!

You can visit her official tour page here!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Spotlight: Bears With Us by Marilyn Meredith


A burglar turns out to be a bear and Deputy Tempe Crabtree and her pastor husband, Hutch, chase the bear out of the house. This is their first encounter with a bear and the occupants of the home, an elderly couple and their daughter—and it isn’t the last.

A bear turns up at the school, at a restaurant, an apple orchard and two more homes. That is only part of what Tempe is called to handle. A teenager’s suicide, a mother who doesn’t like her daughter’s boyfriend, a wandering senior with a strange form of Alzheimer’s, and a long ago love affair keep Tempe hopping.

Read an excerpt!

The highway twisted more and more the higher into the mountains they drove. Tempe slowed to turn onto one of the few roads that left the highway. Also two lane and much narrower, it wound around even more. “Watch for the mailbox with their name on it. I think it’s a shaped like a house with a shingle roof.”

“I will…”

Tempe switched off the emergency lights. No need in alerting a burglar of her approach.

“There it is,” Hutch said.

She pulled into the lane, pine trees bracketing either side. The lane climbed a bit before widening into a flat spot. A silver Scion sat off to the side of a three car garage. A wide porch ran around the front and sides of the two-story cedar structure. All the windows were dark.

Tempe grabbed the shotgun from its holder under the dash. “Don’t shut the doors. Be as quiet as possible.”
Chimney smoke scented the pine and cedar laden fall air. Holding her flashlight in her other hand, she kept the beam low as they climbed the three steps leading to the front door. It stood open. Unfortunately, many people living in the mountains didn’t think it necessary to lock doors.
The minute Tempe stepped inside, she knew what was happening.

The tell-tale snorts and slurping sounds told the tale. It was no longer necessary to be quiet. “Bear.” Bears had gotten smart over the years, learning how to open trash cans and open doors. Sometimes just leaning their heavy bodies on the barrier popped the latch. If a window was left open, a screen never stopped a bear.

Hutch grimaced and peered toward the area where the noise came from. “Are you sure?”

“Positive. Run upstairs and let the residents know what’s going on. Ask to use their phone and call Fish and Game. I know my cell won’t work up here. We might need some help. Then come back down and help me chase it or them out.”



Read the reviews!

“…a sweet, entertaining way to spend a rainy afternoon.”

–Broken Teepee

“…an engaging, unique story filled with twists and turns.”

–The Book Connection

"This is an intriguing tale of murder, mystery and mayhem you shouldn’t miss."

--Thoughts in Progress

"If you are looking for a fantastic new book by a seasoned, talented author, then look no further..."

--Reviews By Molly

"If you have not had the chance to read this series and you love mysteries, then you don’t want to miss out on them."

--Wakela's World

"Bears With Us is a VERY fast paced book..."

--Ohio Girl Talks

"I really enjoyed the writing style of Ms. Meredith and found her mystery, Bears With Us, to be a realistic and plausible tale."

--MysteriesEtc.

"Author Marilyn Meredith does a wonderful job with the Tempe Crabtree series, mixing aspects of the mystery, police procedural, and cozy genres together in a very satisfying blend. Cozy-like in that there is little “onscreen” violence and no profanity, Bears With Us still manages to maintain a healthy edge of tension..."

--Musings of an All Purpose Monkey


Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, many award winning, including the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. Bears With Us is the latest release. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is Angel Lost, the third from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Central Coast chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She’s also a been an instructor at many writing conferences including the Maui Writers Retreat, Central Coast Writing Conference and many others.


Visit Marilyn online at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com.

CONTEST DETAILS: Would you like to be immortalized in print? Marilyn Meredith is running a contest during her BEARS WITH US virtual book tour. Whoever leaves a comment on the most blog sites during the tour, will have his or her name used for a character in Marilyn’s next book. Please visit http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2011/08/11/bears-with-us-virtual-book-tour-october-2011/ for her entire schedule. Good luck!
 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Writer's Life Chats with David Brown, author of "Fezariu's Epiphany"


About David Brown

David BrownDavid Brown was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and first conceived the idea of the Elencheran Chronicles at college in 1999. He spent ten years compiling the history of Elenchera, resulting in 47,000+ years of events, 500+ maps, 2000+ pages, several short stories and many much-needed acquaintances with Jack Daniels.
David also has a blog, The World According to Dave (http://blog.elenchera.com), which features reviews, stories and dramatic tales of the horrors of owning cats.
David now lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, with his wife, Donna, and their six cats.
Fezariu’s Epiphany is his first novel. David is currently working on his second.

Fezarius big

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


A: I was born in Barnsley, a former mining town in South Yorkshire, England and started writing in 1999 when studying at college. I now live in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, with my wife, Donna, and our six rescue cats – Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo. 


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


A: Fezariu’s Epiphany is the first in what will be a series of stand-alone novels set in the fictitious world of Elenchera. I intend these to be a different kind of fantasy novels, where the layout of the world takes a backseat to the characters who will be at the forefront of every story. I chose to start with this particular novel as it features the Merelax Mercenaries – one of my favourite institutions from the world of Elenchera – but most of all it was the story that screamed the loudest at me when I was mulling over several novel ideas.  


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


A: Fezariu’s Epiphany took two years and six drafts to complete and even towards the end I was making key changes. Most of the novel worked well but some elements were inconsistent with the rest of the story. It was a case of ironing out the weak points and ensuring the novel was as good as I could make it. I’m happy with the end result. 


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


A: I don’t have a press kit as such but I do try and make as much information as possible available on my website, including the trailer, book cover, interview and review links and so on. 


Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so? 


A: So far most of my publicity has been aimed at US readers; however, I’m in the UK so it does make it difficult to arrange phone interviews because of the time difference. Now that the book is becoming more readily available in the UK it’s certainly something I’d look to pursue. 


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


A: My wife, Donna, is my agent. I was sharing ideas with her when we hardly knew one another and she was an excellent critic: never afraid to tell me something didn’t work but always constructive with it. When I began writing this book in 2008 she became my editor and critic, in 2009 she became my girlfriend and in 2010 she became my wife. She acts as my agent and publicist now the book is out and life has been so much easier having that kind of support. I’m not sure it’s necessary to have an agent as such but the backing of your partner, friends or family makes it less of a lonely pursuit towards your writing dreams. 


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


A: I think I was a little naive when it came to pre-publishing promotion and didn’t really know who to approach so I didn’t do much at all until the book appeared. Donna has arranged several blog tours since and these have been excellent. She also arranged for a trailer to be made and has recently arranged a cover redesign to ensure consistency across the ebook and paperback editions (which currently have different images). At the same time she had the cover art done for my second book so I can start promoting that before it comes out! 


Q: Do you plan subsequent books? 


A: I’m currently working on my second novel, A World Apart. This will be set many centuries after Fezariu’s Epiphany and focuses on a trio of friends – Demetrius, Eleyna and Halcyon – who find themselves in a love triangle in their teens before some impetuous actions split the trio up. When they’re reunited as adults they find they have all changed significantly but that doesn’t stop old feelings rising to the surface. Throw in pirates, magic that comes at a cost and bounty hunting and it all gets a little messy! 


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


A: Many thanks for having me. It’s been a great pleasure. You can find out more about me, Elenchera and Fezariu’s Epiphany at www.elenchera.com. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords (and a fuller list is available on my website) Feel free to find me on Twitter (@elenchera) and Facebook if you have any questions. I’m always happy to hear from readers and writers alike.
 

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Writer's Life Chats with Barbara Ardinger Author of Secret Lives



About Barbara Ardinger 
Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), is the author of Secret Lives, a new novel about crones and other magical folks, and Pagan Every Day, a unique daybook of daily meditations. Her earlier books include Goddess Meditations, Finding New Goddesses (a parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Quicksilver Moon (a realistic novel … except for the vampire). Her day job is freelance editing for people who have good ideas but don’t want to embarrass themselves in print. To date, she has edited more than 250 books, both fiction and nonfiction, on a wide range of topics. Barbara lives in southern California with her two rescued Maine coon cats, Schroedinger and Heisenberg.




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

A: I have memories of writing a story for my father when I was in the second grade and writing a puppet show version of The Littlest Angel when I was in the fifth grade. In high school, I was the only member of the Creating Writing Club who had a new piece to read at every meeting. My brother, father, and mother were all involved in the Boy Scouts (I think my brother reached the rank of Eagle Scout) at the time, so I wrote a piece called “My Life as a Boy Scout” and submitted it to the Scout magazine. It got rejected. I was heartbroken. I was also rejected by some of the popular teen magazines. Since I’ve been in California, however, I’ve written numerous articles, stories, and book reviews that have been printed in magazines, both print and electronic.

I’ve been a scholarly type all my life and completed my M.A. and my Ph.D. (English Renaissance literature, emphasis on the drama—that’s mostly Shakespeare) with straight A’s. I also majored in theater as an undergraduate, and now one of my favorite things in the whole world is go to the theater. I manage to see at least one musical every month. Sometimes more!

My day job is editing for smart people with nifty ideas but few writing skills. I use my expertise in English grammar, punctuation, syntax, and usage to help them write better books. I’ve edited about 250 books to date, and I make friends with many of my authors. Editing is how I pay the rent and buy cat food for the two rescued Maine coon cats I live with. Yes, Schroedinger and Heisenberg are named after famous quantum physicists.

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

A: Secret Lives is a big novel about big issues—aging and death, the way our society treats its senior citizens, women’s friendships, the powers of love, the theory and practice of magic, the rebirth of the Goddess and Her ancient religion. It’s about the untidy mysteries of human life. As the baby boom generation ages, the issues addressed in Secret Lives become more significant to readers. Also more recognizable. Issues that used to matter only to their parents are now starting to pop up in the boomers’ own lives. This novel will thus appeal not only to the large audience that reads pagan fiction, but also to mainstream readers who love a good, complicated story and may be curious about pagans and gods and goddesses. As they read, they will learn a great deal.
Set in Long Beach’s historic Rose Park neighborhood, this novel tells the adventures in a year in the lives of a circle of crones, mothers, and a maiden. Among the other characters are the Green Man, an ageless Neolithic shaman, a ghostly inquisitor, the Norns gone mad in the modern world, and a lost goddess who reminds us of Red Riding Hood. And then there’s Madame Blavatsky, the talking cat that is the circle’s too-familiar familiar. There are both love and cosmic war in Secret Lives, and there are also 15 rituals in the 27 chapters. The book is written in the style called magical realism in which surreal and magical events seem perfectly normal in the context of the book.


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

A: My primary research came from the works of the late Professor Marija Gimbutas, the authority on the Neolithic settlements in the area she called Old Europe (near the Black Sea—primarily Romania, Bulgaria, the other Balkan lands). This is where the prologue of Secret Lives is set, and the details of the town, the shaman’s house, her altar, the Goddess, and the townspeople come from Gimbutas’s Civilization of the Goddess and The Language of the Goddess.

I first wrote Secret Lives in about 1990, so most of the books about the Goddess, the old gods and goddesses, Wicca, and pagan issues that are popular today had not yet been published. Books I used, many of which are mentioned in the book as the women recommend books to each other, include Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance, Vance Randolph’s books on the customs of the Ozarks, books on the Victorian language of flowers, the works of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (who appears in the novel as a talking cat—more magical realism), various books by Joseph Campbell and Robert Graves, William Anderson’s Green Man (an archetypal figure that appears in human guise in Secret Lives), and Patricia Monaghan’s Goddesses and Heroines.

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

A: Getting my nonfiction books published has been pretty smooth. Seeing Solutions, a book of guided visualizations, was published by Signet (New American Library) in 1989. Practicing the Presence of the Goddess and another book were published in the ’90s by New World Library, which has recently asked if they could reissue the books on Kindle. (I said yes!) Goddess Meditations was published by Llewellyn in 1999. One of my favorites of my books, Finding New Goddesses, was published by a small Canadian publisher in 2003; this book is a pun-filled loony version of goddess encyclopedias, which I wrote because I don’t think there’s enough humor in books on spiritual topics. My last nonfiction book is Pagan Every Day (RedWheel/Weiser, 2006), a daybook of essays for a year and a day on pagan, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other topics. People have told me they just keeping reading it, year after year.

I couldn’t sell my first novel, Quicksilver Moon, which is set ten years later than Secret Lives and is very realistic … except for the vampire, so when Marilyn Dillon was founding Three Moons Media and she asked a dozen authors to be her guinea pigs, I was glad to submit my novel to her. A friend read my mind to see what the characters looked like and painted the cover, then Marilyn did a terrific job of designing the book. People who have read it really like it.

All my books and their covers are posted on my website, http://www.barbaraardinger.com/readbuybooks

When my literary agent submitted an early version of Secret Lives to Harper & Row in 1991, the acquisitions editor said she loved the writing (I have her letter), but no one would ever want to read about old women. I’ve rewritten Secret Lives several times to add more stories and make the writing better. My hope now is that people will want to read about these charming, magical elderly women, even if they’re not always politically correct. (That’s a privilege of age: stating honest opinions.) Twenty years ago, no one cared about aging, but now with the boomer generation reaching retirement, the topics and issues I address are more important.

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

A: This book was not published by one of the traditional publishers. I sent queries for 20 years and finally decided to publish it myself. Sherry Wachter designed and typeset the book, my daughter-in-law constructed the little witch on the cover and took the photos, and then I took the book to CreateSpace. Dan Poynter and other experts are right—the big NYC publishers don’t want us. The new publishing trend is self-publishing. Some of the details of publishing and the Kindle conversion are making me crazy, but I’m with the trend!

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

A: I have had three literary agents, two retired and one deceased. Although my first agent had retired, she helped me negotiate the contracts for two or three of my books. It’s good to have friends who are experts.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: I have the covers of all eight of my published books in plastic box frames in a column on one wall of my office. Seeing Solutions is about six inches above the floor, Secret Lives, about three inches below the ceiling. I take this as a sign that I don’t have to write any more books. Nevertheless, a friend and I are talking about creating a book or two out of the revisionist fairy tales I’ve been posting—with her illustrations—on the Womens Radio website. People always seem to love fairy tales, and my versions are certainly not the old Grimm versions.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: I sit at my computer! It used to be the couch, with a cat snuggled up beside me. I wrote in pencil. But now I can’t read my handwriting anymore.

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

A: Interviews on the PBS Newshour and Fresh Air on NPR. I’d also buy great big ads in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and other major papers, also national magazines. I’d also create Secret Lives T-shirts and mouse pads and other goodies. I’d invest in plane tickets to do a decent book tour.

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

A: I write a blog every month and post it on my website and send links to nearly everybody in my address book. I have two Facebook pages. I’ve been on one blogtalkradio show and will be on another before the end of October.

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

A: I never gave up. Many writers give up, I suspect, because the traditional publishers are so inaccessible and uncooperative. Mostly, inexperienced writers learn that writing a readable book is very hard work. It takes more than one draft, and even in fiction, there’s a lot of research to do to achieve verisimilitude.

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

A: Hire a competent editor like me who has experience not only in writing books but also in dealing with traditional, small, and print-on-demand publishers. Understand that writing is hard, repetitive work. Be persistent.

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

A: Many thanks! These bloggish interviews are fun.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Interview with Gregory Allen, author of "Well With My Soul"


Gregory AllenGregory G. Allen moved from Texas to New York in the late 80s and has been in the entertainment business for over twenty years as an actor, director, producer, songwriter, playwright and author. He’s had over ten shows that he has written produced on stage, been the recipient of musical grants from BMI, ASCAP and the Watershed Foundation, and has had short stories and poetry published in Off The Rocks, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, The Oddville Press, Perpetual Magazine, Loch Raven Review, Word Catalyst Magazine, and Rancor’d Type.
He is a member of ASCAP, The Dramatist Guild, and the Theatre Communications Group. He now lives in the suburbs of New Jersey and for the past five years he’s managed an arts center on a college campus. Proud Pants: An Unconventional Memoir was published this summer and is available as a digital download on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. This is his first novel.

For more information on Gregory, visit his website at www.ggallen.net or http://www.facebook.com/author.gregory.g.allen.

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

A: I started writing as a child around the 5th grade (creating scripts for TV’s Laverne & Shirley). But it was 9th grade of high school I wrote my first musical that was produced on stage by a local children’s theater company.

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

A: Well With My Soul is a family drama about two brothers searching for their own type of peace of fifteen years of their life. The title makes it seem as if all is well, when it’s a far cry from that. The book is told through the perspective of both brothers and deals with addiction, religion, and sexuality. I first wrote this book as a play, but knew I needed to novelize it. Following stories in the news of high profile men caught in homosexual situations and attempting to understand that type of fear and ego that would keep a man in the closet was the main reason I wanted to tell this story. I was brought up Southern Baptist and writing a novel about religion and sexuality (set in the late 70s and 80s when our country was in a very different place) where I could show two opposing views intrigued me.

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

A: I find writing in general to be lonely when you are wondering if the characters and story are heading in the correct direction. In this particular book, I am slightly younger than the period so I had to research the late 70s as well as addiction. I wanted to get all of those elements correct in the book.

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

A: My press kit has my bio, information on the book, high res photos and links to a few interviews with me. http://www.ggallen.net/#/about-me/media-kit

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

A: My book launch is Tuesday, Oct 11 and then there are several readings and signings planned through Oct, Nov, Dec. I also have a few radio interviews lined up as well.

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

A: I do not have an agent for writing. I think an agent is very helpful to open many doors, but I also believe an author has to be able to deliver once that door is open.

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

A: I worked with a publicist and together we created press releases and emailed many media outlets about the book: targeting the gay community in some ways and in others, letting this family drama speak to a wider range of people.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Yes I do. I’m already working towards publication in 2012 with a very different story of a woman who discovers a horrible past through therapy and must patch her life back together.

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

A: Thank for having me. You can go to my website www.ggallen.net which has links to the online locations for my book or always ask your local indie bookstore to order it for you. Deep down, I still love patronizing the local stores. You can also get information at www.asdpublishing.com

Monday, October 17, 2011

New eBook for Review: YA Paranormal 'Farsighted' by Emlyn Chand


Emlyn Chand will be touring with Pump Up Your Book December 5 - 16 with her YA paranormal novel, Farsighted!

Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he’s blind. Just when he thinks he’ll never have a shot at a normal life, a new girl from India moves into town. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Yes, sophomore year might not be so bad after all.

Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival—an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they begin to suggest that Simmi is in danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and new friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex must embark on a journey to change his future.

218 pages

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

PLEASE NOTE THIS BOOK IS ONLY AVAILABLE IN EBOOK FORMAT FOR REVIEW. PLEASE LET US KNOW WHETHER YOU NEED THE KINDLE (MOBI), NOOK (EPUB) OR PDF FILE. THANK YOU!

If you would like to review Farsighted, please click here to fill out the form and mention which date would work for you. Deadline for inquiries end November 25 or until the tour is filled. Thank you!


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Friday, October 14, 2011

Interview with Sharon Bially, author of 'Veronica's Nap'


Sharon Bially lived for twelve years in Paris and Aix-en-Provence before settling with her family in Massachusetts. A graduate of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, she’s a public relations professional and leads seminars for the Boston-based, nonprofit literary arts center, Grub Street Writers. She’s also an adult student of ballet and modern dance.

Her latest book is the contemporary women’s fiction novel, Veronica’s Nap.

You can visit Sharon’s website and blog at www.veronicas-nap.com.

Visit her at Twitter at www.twitter.com/@sharonbially and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sharon.bially AND http://www.facebook.com/pages/Veronicas-Nap/240292619323500.

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

Like most writer’s I’ve been crafting stories and playing with words since I was five or six. But I never thought of becoming a writer. Lawyer, doctor, engineer -- these were the fields I was supposed to want to choose from when I grew up. Safe, practical fields that would pay the bills.

I kept my love of language and stories alive by studying French literature along with international economics -- the practical, bill-paying choice -- and ultimately wound up working in Paris, marrying a French man and settling with him in the south of France. By then, I’d already written an early attempt at a first novel.

While living in the south of France I met dozens of women not unlike the main character in Veronica’s Nap: American, Canadian, Irish and British expats who’d married French men and were raising families in France. Many led pretty leisurely lives and actually did take regular naps while their kids were off at daycare -- which is top quality and super-cheap in France, so an easy choice for moms looking for some free time. A few also had other aspirations like writing, becoming artists, opening businesses... But they never did anything about it.

This got under my skin. My own life was far from leisurely as I struggled to help make ends meet by balancing work and writing with raising two kids. Over the course of ten years I’d written a second novel and and a series of three chapter books for children based on the legends of the Marshall Islands, where I grew up. For each of these, I had a contract with a literary agent that didn’t pan out into a publishing deal. Each new disappointment made me hunker down and work harder. Fascinated by the contrast between this and “napping,” and curious about whether perhaps napping was an escape from reality or even a symptom of depression, I imagined Veronica in order to explore these questions and a new book was born.

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

The word “nap” has so many layers of meaning. Taken at face value, we all know what it is. But more figuratively, it implies drifting off to sleep while most of the rest of the world is awake. Shutting out reality. Escaping. And by definition, a nap always comes to an end... In every sense of the word, Veronica’s Nap is a story about napping. The protagonist, Veronica, does take daily naps. But she’s also brilliant at shutting out reality. And ultimately, she must wake up.

The name Veronica also has multiple layers of meaning. There’s a parallel with the Latin word for truth, veritas -- or vérité in French. There’s also a Catholic Saint named Veronica, a woman who walked behind Christ while he carried his cross. She offered him her veil to wipe his brow. When he did the image of his face was branded onto it, creating a sort of photograph of him. I love the symbolism of combining truth with the face of God, and both of these themes are woven into the story -- and the awakening -- in Veronica’s Nap.

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

The identity crisis new moms go through is universal in our culture and others like it, and Veronica’s Nap addresses a side of it that’s so rarely talked about but merits exploration: how, paradoxically, the privilege of having all of your needs provided for can actually hold you back from growing and evolving. So often young moms at home struggle to decide who, exactly, they are outside of motherhood and marriage. Veronica’s Nap offers a candid, in-depth look at the assumptions one mom had to strip away and what she had to give up to answer these questions and realize her full potential -- a story many women can relate to, and learn from.

The book also highlights an important demographic group that’s too often overlooked: the Maghreban Sephardic Jewish community in France. A major part of France’s overall Jewish population -- which happens to be the third largest worldwide after Israel and the U.S. -- the Maghreban Sephardic community is made up of emigrants from France’s former colonies Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria and their descendants. Its amazingly rich culture includes Arab-style customs filled with symbolism like pre-wedding henna ceremonies that we hardly ever hear about here in the U.S. Yet these are actually much more globally widespread than our own customs are. I feel passionately committed to increasing awareness of this dynamic -- which ties directly into the Arab-Israeli conflict -- and am all the more eager to share Veronica’s Nap as broadly as possible.

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?

Like the vast majority of authors, I handle every aspect of publicity myself. I blog about Veronica’s Nap and related issues at www.veronicas-nap.com, and am active on Twitter and Facebook. I’m active in the broader writing community, too, which helps keep my name out there. For example, I lead seminars and conference sessions for Boston’s influential literary arts nonprofit, Grub Street Writers, where I’m also a spokesperson for alternative publishing options and founder of the Grub Self-Publishing Network (GSPN). In 2010 I was named honorary guest contributor to the popular blog Writer Unboxed, where I now post about three times a year.

But that’s just the routine side! On top of it, every day I try reach out to all sorts of other venues: news outlets, where I’ve gotten a bit of coverage, reviewers, book stores and libraries (including in France), bloggers, book clubs etc. Since I do have a day job and a family, it’s hard to do everything, and the promotion work has to get done whenever I have a spare moment. So it tends to be slow. But as a professional publicist, I know that promotion is a marathon, not a sprint.

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

The Ten Year Nap (Meg Wolitzer) meets A Year in Provence (Peter Mayle)” -- that’s my best attempt at describing Veronica’s Nap in terms of other titles out there. But those comparisons don’t really do justice to any of the books they mention.

Veronica’s Nap is unique in having a heroine who is not perfectly likeable, but whom readers can instead both love and hate. Or love to hate! This makes for a richer, more complex and stirring reading experience. The very close, interior look it gives at Veronica’s psyche brings her more self-centered motivations and desires into the spotlight along with her soft-heartedness and loveable self-depreciating streak. Her husband, too, is somebody readers can both love and hate. The result: an intriguing dynamic where neither is the clear-cut “good guy” -- which creates a good deal of tension and suspense.

Finally, the narrative offers not only a storyline, but insights via the characters’ thoughts and realizations. This is something I fear is becoming increasingly rare in books.

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

Veronica is lamenting to her husband, Didier, that the women at the pool club near their home in Aix-en-Provence wear g-string bikinis without tops and that compared to them she looks like a sausage in her Speedo. That’s why she doesn’t like going there, she explains. It’s also why she’d rather spend the summer with her parents in New Jersey -- where she can shamelessly wear shorts over her suit at the pool club to hide her spongy thighs.

This is just one of the many glimpses the book gives at how life as an expat in Provence is not at all as easy and romantic as it sounds.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Absolutely! I’m currently working on a novel called Henna, about a forbidden love story and a fiery attack on a synagogue in Paris.

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

Just thank you! And happy reading.