Friday, April 20, 2012

Guest Blogger: My Approach to Writing by Lisa April Smith

My Approach to Writing

By Lisa April Smith  

I’m often asked at book events, “Are you ever stymied by writer’s block?” And I am delighted to reply that I’ve never experienced writer’s block. I think the reason for that has to do with my concept of work. When I was at IBM I didn’t ask myself if I was in the mood to do something. I looked at the tasks at hand, prioritized them and got to it. In the process of constructing a book, I have many varied ways to be productive. Editing. Plotting. Incorporating my latest epiphany. Creating a calendar so that I know how old characters are during the time frame of the story. I maintain a separate file that has the physical appearance, ethnicity and traits of every significant character.

Except when we’re traveling, five to six days a week, I’m at my desk about 7:00 am and quit between 1:00 and 2:00. But whether I’m at my desk or not, I’m never entirely off. If I’m on a plane, or driving, or watching reruns of 30 Rock, or shopping for groceries, my brain involuntarily generates ways for improving the book. Some people call it drive, discipline or dedication. Personally, I think it’s a sign of a compulsive disorder.
I chose suspense/mystery as my genre for one critical reason: to keep my readers involved and turning the pages far into the night. While they are being alternately charmed, dazzled, entranced, amused, aroused, outraged and entertained by my characters, they’re busy looking for clues and guessing what surprises await them. And that’s a challenge. Try to estimate the number of book, movie and television plots that average American adults have encountered by the time they’re thirty or forty. It has to number in the tens of thousands. That makes for a jaded audience. That’s why I work so hard at avoiding clichés: phrases, characters and plots.

Given my choice of genres, it might surprise people to learn that I start with characters and then develop my plot – one that will test my protagonists in fresh ways, while remaining true to their personalities. For example, in Exceeding Expectations, I saw Jack Morgan as a living, breathing, complex person with diametrically opposing attributes. Conman and devoted father. Appealing rascal who would never knowingly hurt someone. Jack has no problem bending the law, particularly when he can rationalize that by doing so, he is protecting his daughters. So I fabricated a childhood that could produce those traits. The son of an uneducated, hard-drinking widower, the youngest of four brothers all reluctantly raised by the sole female in the household, his overworked older sister. As a man, he is so unused to compassion or tenderness in others, that when experiencing these emotions for the first time – seeing a helpless newborn about to be abandoned – it changes him forever.

I love weaving words into stories; placing invented people into invented problematic situations. When I am skillful, I not only entertain, I touch, transport and meaningfully move my readers. And that’s a powerful and addicting drug. 

Author Lisa April Smith lives with her husband, He-who-wishes-to-remain-anonymous, in Eternal Playland, Florida, a delightful spot just off I-95. Ms. Smith describes Eternal Playland as: “a little piece of level heaven with occasional dampness, where the bugs are plentiful but respectful, and even the smallest strip mall contains at least one pizza place and a nail salon.”

Before discovering a passion for writing, Ms. Smith sold plumbing and heating, antiques, taught ballroom dancing, tutored, modeled, designed software and managed projects for IBM and returned to college multiple times to study anthropology, sociology and computer science, in which she holds degrees, as well as psychology, archeology, literature, history and art. Combine those widely diverse interests with a love of travel and a gift for writing page-turners and it’s easy to understand one reviewer’s unbridled praise for Exceeding Expectations, “She (Ms. Smith) has a brilliance for conveying characters, and the intellectual capacity to place them in historical settings that sparkle with glamorous detail. . . that make it fun to read . . . ” But it takes much more than lush settings, an eye for detail and a love of history to write a page-turner. Read what another reviewer said about Exceeding Expectations: “Lisa April Smith . . . has woven an intriguingly rich tapestry of delightful well-developed characters into a perfectly balanced plot bursting with riveting mystery, crimes of the petty and the horrible sort, suspenseful twists, and romantic tension complete with love scenes that sizzle and pop.”

For more about the author, her books, and upcoming projects visit her website: http://www.LisaAprilSmith.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My First Book Sale That Mattered by Susan Spence


My First Book Sale That Mattered

By Susan Spence

When I received the first hard copies of A Story of the West, I put a few in a bag and began peddling them. It was just lil’ ol’ me, nervous and alone, pounding the pavement. I went to a couple of stores and sold a few copies, mainly because even though I was an unknown first-time author, as a local, there was some interest.

One day I thought, what the heck, and decided to try my luck at a store in a nearby town where I bought dog food. It was a unique place because on one side you could buy livestock feed, as well as halters for horses and other animal supplies. On the other side was an upscale western boutique that carried really nice, expensive clothing and gifts.

I approached a clerk on the boutique side and asked her if they sold any books. She told me that they carried a few coffee table books, but that I should come back and talk to Carol, the owner.

I returned when Carol was there, introduced myself, told her about A Story of the West and asked if she would be interested in carrying it. Her reply was that she would have to read the book first. She then asked me to sell her a copy at cost. I willingly obliged and handed over a signed copy for only slightly more than I had paid for it.

I waited for a couple of weeks before I went back as I was terrified of hearing my first critique by a stranger. Finally, my knees knocking, I got up the courage to return and ask Carol what she thought of my creation.

I still remember walking up to her. She didn’t smile as I approached and I couldn’t read her expression. I asked what she thought of it, and she replied, “I loved it. I think it should be made into a movie.” She then bought copies to carry in her store and told me she would encourage her employees to read it so they could help promote it.

Needless to say, her words made my day. I left walking on air and with the confidence to continue pushing my novel.

Sadly the store closed shortly after that. I heard Carol decided that, with the slow economy, it was a good time to move on to other things. I hope she is doing well.

The moral of the story is, believe in your book!

Susan Spence has always been intrigued with life in the west in the 1880s. She researched historical accounts and first-person narratives as she prepared to write A Story of the West. A lifelong resident of the west, she currently lives in Montana on an old sheep shearing station with lots of furry critters and one partially furry critter. This is her first novel, and she is busily working on a sequel due out in late spring.

You can visit her website at www.writing-ranching.com.

Interview with Caroline Alethia, author of Plant Teacher

Caroline Alethia is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, on radio and in web outlets. Her words have reached audiences on six continents. She lived in Bolivia and was a witness to many of the events described in Plant Teacher. You can visit her website at www.plantteacherthebook.net.

ABOUT PLANT TEACHER

Hailed by Huffington Post contributor Joel Hirst as a compelling and powerful story, Plant Teacher begins in 1972 when a hippie in Oakland, California flushes a syringe of LSD down a toilet. Thirty-five years later, the wayward drug paraphernalia has found its final resting place in Los Yungas, Bolivia, the umbilical cord between the Andes and Amazonia. Enter into this picture two young Americans, Cheryl Lewis, trying to forge her future in La Paz and Martin Banzer, trying to come to terms with his past in the same city. The two form an unlikely friendship against the backdrop of a country teetering at the brink of dictatorship and revolution. Bolivia sparks the taste for adventure in both young people and Martin finds himself experimenting with indigenous hallucinogenic plants while Cheryl flits from one personal relationship to another. Meanwhile, the syringe buried in the silt in a marsh in Los Yungas will shape their destinies more than either could anticipate or desire. Plant Teacher takes its readers on a fast-paced tour from the hippie excesses of Oakland, to the great streams of the Pacific Ocean and to the countryside, cities, natural wonders and ancient ruins of Bolivia. It reveals­ the mundane and the magical, and, along the way, readers glimpse the lives of everyday Bolivians struggling to establish equanimity or merely eke out a living during drastic political crisis.

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

For my first professional job after graduate school, I worked as a technical writer at the United Nations. Later, I was an international business journalist. I have always been interested in international themes. I lived overseas for 13 years and studied international relations for my master’s degree, so it makes sense that my first novel would take place in a foreign country.

Q: How did you choose your title and was it your first choice?

My working title for the book was The White Flower, but I later decided that Plant Teacher was a stronger choice. Plant Teacher drills down to a central theme of the book: Can we purchase wisdom and, if we can, at what cost? So-called “plant teachers” are wild hallucinogenic plants that many people believe provide spiritual guidance.

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

I started a small imprint, Viator, several years ago to publish a multimedia textbook on globalism, and I published Plant Teacher under this same imprint. Viator’s mission is to publish books that teach about other cultures. Thus, all of the publicity efforts have been mine. I have built a website, produced a promotional video, given away free copies on Kindle, and contacted a prominent Bolivian expert to write an independent review.

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

Page 175: Martin Banzer and Cheryl Lewis, the two main characters, are analyzing Martin’s earliest childhood memories. Cheryl adheres to the Adlerian school of psychology which holds that early memories are metaphors for an individual’s life philosophy.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

In fact, I have drafted a book about early memory interpretation that is intended both as a self-help handbook and as an exposition of Adlerian theory.

Q: What is the one thing you learned about your book AFTER it was published?

It has occurred to me that even though Plant Teacher was not intended to be political, it draws some deep and strong conclusions about modern-day Bolivian politics. I don’t know if I will be able to return to that country at any time in the near future. This realization has been somewhat disturbing and certainly saddening.

Q: What is your most favorite time of the day or night to write?

I like to take all day to write­—starting when I wake up and continuing until I go to bed.

Q: What is usually better – the book or the movie?

If the movie is true to its own art form, it can be as good as the book—but it will probably be different. I think of The English Patient. The female lead in the movie plays an important but small role in the book. Other main characters who inhabit the book didn’t even make it to the big screen. Both versions, however, movie and novel, are richly developed and deeply satisfying.

Q: You’re about to write your next book. What did you learn from your previous book to help you write your next book?

My next book will need to be pure fiction. By that, I mean that no character should be based on me. This is the case in Plant Teacher: None of the characters are me. When I was younger, I wrote many short stories and many poems, and, ultimately, I was unwilling to publish these pieces because they revealed too much about me.

Q: Finally, what’s your best tip you can give to writers who want to be published?

The quality of the writing has to be top notch. Go through multiple rounds of reviews with your most honest and insightful critics, and be willing to make the necessary changes.

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

One critic has described Plant Teacher as “honest” and a “must-read,” while another blogger has described it as “neocon” and dishonest. I tried my best to get my facts about Bolivia straight, and I tried to describe the country as I had experienced it. I hope readers will set aside what they think they know about Bolivian politics—because the reporting hasn’t been adequate on this continent—and approach Plant Teacher with an open mind.

Interview with Olakunbi Korostensky ND, author of "Intuition Involution"


About Olakunbi Korostensky,ND

OlakunbiOlakunbi (Kunbi) Korostensky, ND, is a former naturopathic doctor and psychologist with a master’s in energy psychology, who now primarily works as a spiritual and intuition coach with a multifaceted enterprise. She is an intuitive specialist who has command of many alternative, holistic disciplines and knowledge, which she integrates into her work with her varied clients
Olakunbi perceives herself as an “Inner Flame Rekindler” and a visionary who avidly supports women in reconnecting with their spirit core by listening to and strengthening their intuition. For over 30 years she has dedicated her life to spiritual consciousness and its integration into daily activities. Her direct approach to accessing inner wisdom has been widely sought out by people from all walks of life.
She is the proprietor of the residential Awaken Women Retreat Wellness Centre, which she runs. The Centre provides women with day spa facilities, offers holistic approaches to health, life issues and wellness, and energy balance workshops. The Centre also offers weekend retreat programs on spirituality, developing the intuition, and inner development in both English and German. Awaken Women Retreat Wellness Centre is also the headquarters of the Awaken Women International Community (AWI™).
In February 2005, after a near-death experience that heralded many changes in her life, Olakunbi closed down her former naturopathic practice of over twenty three years and commenced a new life path. In October 2006, she organized and called to life her first Awaken Women International Conference (AWIC™) in Switzerland. In 2007, she founded Awaken Women International (AWI™), an offline and online membership community for women, promoting feminine excellence for a life of dignity and sustainable happiness. www.awakenwomen.comwww.awakenwomen.org
Olakunbi Korostensky, ND also runs a coaching website. “Embracing Changes -The Intuition Way”:www.embracingchanges.com . Olakunbi has written various articles on health, self help, spirituality and mental attitude. These can be found on several online article directories. She is an expert writer on Ezinearticle.com and SelfGrowth.com.
For more information on this book and the author visit her http://www.intuition-involution.com


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

 A: I am a former naturopathic doctor and psychologist who worked for over 30 years in private practice. After closing down my former practice in 2005, I now perceive myself as an Inner Flame Rekindler who coach people, in particular, women struggling with new changes. I help them rediscover how to apply their natural intuitive guidance to redirect their path in life for inner peace, true self recognition and succeed on all levels of being with joy. I have been writing for a long time. When I was 13 years old, as a result of my inner yearnings, I wrote a short story about a little girl in search of her place in the world. Although the story was never shown to anyone I kept it. In fact I recently found it again. After that as a teenager I started keeping a journal religiously until the age of 27. I later on wrote articles for several local magazines and women communities. Since branching on to the internet in 2003, I have written several articles that can be found on various article directories. I have also written a few ebooks some of which are available on my coaching website, www.embracingchanges.com

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

A:   My book INTUITION INVOLUTION is a spiritual inspirational book which is written to remind and strongly prompt its readers to fully embrace and integrate intuition into everyday living for a clear, harmonious path in life and a renewed balance in our world.

The book INTUITION INVOLUTION offers several simple, actionable exercises to help readers access their intuition easily. With the help of numerous personal and work related stories, the book underlines the wonderful interventions of intuitive guidance from past and present times.

By demystifying the realm of our intuition, the book explains why women are primarily endowed with a stronger intuition than men, and how women can learn to apply intuition conscientiously to help them overcome self-doubts and easily find the answers to any life’s situation.

The pointed message of Intuition Involution is that each one can become mistress and master of his or her life when we decide to embrace our entire being and integrate all the abilities we were born with fully into our lives, instead of living a lopsided lives and continuously experiencing struggles, fear and disquietudes.

A rude awakening jolted me into writing INTUITION INVOLUTION. After a near death experience in 2005, I practically had to retrace my way back into this life to reclaim my being. Since then my life has never been the same.

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

A: I believe the most challenging part of writing the book was writing my personal stories. This was a little hard for me because it took me to some very private zones within. I felt vulnerable and uncomfortable. It was like bearing my soul to the public. But I kept on hearing that tiny voice that said, just write it all down and so I did. In many ways, that experience has truly humbled me.

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: After checking out numerous examples of press kit from other authors online, I decided to add a press kit page to my book website. The press kit includes a long form bio and a short form bio, about the book, several media photos to use in high resolution, a press release, testimonials and contact information The press kit can be found on my website at: http://www.intuition-involution.com/presskit.html

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

A: I am currently planning some readings and appearances to present my book at some bookshops and libraries this spring and early summer here in Switzerland.

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: Before launching the book in November 2011, I hired a publicity agent in October and worked with her until early in January 2012. As wasn’t pleased with her, I fired her and I’m currently keeping my eyes and ears open for a new agent. I think that a good public agent can help with media connections and show what works and what doesn’t. They can also offer clear structure for effective promotional work, but only if they know what they are doing.

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: A media blitz was not actually prepared. But a press release was sent out and other promotional tools were implemented such as the social media.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books? 

A: Yes I do. I am considering a number of other works. As they are still in the early stages I’d rather not divulge any information for the moment. It suffices to say that INTUITION INVOLUTION is not going to be my stalemate on the topic of Intuition

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

A:Thank you for having me as your guest. You can find out more about me at www.embracingchanges.com To read more about the book and download a complementary audio recording of the first chapter read by the author Olakunbi Korostensky ND, please go to www.intuition-involution.com To purchase INTUITION INVOLUTION go to www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com

About Intuition Involution

Book-cover-intuition-involution-199x300Think about this for a moment: What would your life be without a purpose? Would you continue to strive diligently at what you do if you didn’t have a reason to do so? I’m sure you wouldn’t. Neither would I, which is why we have an intuition.
Our intuition maintains the connection with our spiritual origin. It reminds us constantly why we decided to undertake the journey to this Earth plane. It has also been placed in us to guide us throughout this journey so we never feel lonely or alone and are always connected with our origin. It is like having a most reliable friend and ally in our corner to impart us with all the knowledge, support, and information we require and to protect us from any harm or danger. By cutting ourselves off from our intuition, we also sever our connection with our Creator’s all-embracing love and protective power.
No one can deny that despite the multitude number of the world population, many people feel lonely today more than ever before. Why is this? Could it be that because of our “obsession” with the outside world, we have neglected to take care of what is of the most essence to our oneness? Keeping our intuition alive is a great part of maintaining that oneness. The intuition is supposed to keep us alert from within and keep our path illuminated.
We take pride in cleaning out our homes in springtime or taking in our cars for regular servicing or perhaps even ensuring that our bodily functions are kept intact by consulting physicians at regular intervals for a check-up. Yet, how many of us remember to “service” the life core in us by nurturing our intuition regularly and remaining alert?
Could it be that because of the importance we attach to our physical body and the degree to which we identify with it, we have completely become obsessed with it and no longer realize that we are not our bodies? Just think of the amount of time we spend bathing, dressing, and feeding it or caring for it, adorning it, and exercising it. After all, seeing how the fashion industry has cleverly secured a huge value in our lives today, you could say the wackier the industry becomes, the more people are finer matters. Everything we see, touch, and experience daily physically has appeared because it has already formed beforehand elsewhere on a much higher vibratory level.
Our intuition lives in the domain of finer matter where things are unapparent to the physical eyes, physical touch, or senses. A human is made of several layers of various particles: the inner layers of finer bodies consisting of energy constellations of various levels and the denser matter with the physical body and all its organs, nerves, and blood vessels. Just as our physical body has a form and has all the tools it requires to function ultimately in the physical world, so, too, do our other finer bodies have their individual tools for adapting to various conditions. For example, a mental body finer than the physical body is equipped with sensation, whereas a spiritual body consisting of a much finer entity is equipped with the intuition. Intuition is our highest power because it is the spiritual power that animates and fires our soul body housing our spirit core. Spirit is everything. Without the Spirit essence there is no life. The mind does not control our being; the Spirit does.

Interview with Denise Robbins, author of 'Phish NET Stalkings'

High-tech becomes high-risk in Denise Robbins’ novels. The New Hampshire based author uses two decades of experience in computers to explore the killer possibilities in technology. Denise integrates her knowledge of computers and technology along with secrets, intrigue, suspense, and even a little romance into all of her techno-romantic thriller novels. Readers and reviewers agree Denise writes stories that will keep you at the edge of your seat and clamoring for more.

Her latest book is Phish NET Stalkings.

You can visit her website at http://www.deniserobbins.com.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Official Tour Page

ABOUT PHISH NET STALKINGS

All she wanted was to find love. Was that too much to ask? How difficult could it be to find one man, the perfect man for her?

After dating the losers of the century, Jane decides there has to be a better way. She turns to an online dating service. After all, they guarantee a ‘happily ever after’ or your money back.

Jane East, CEO of Not-So- Plain- Jane’s organic cosmetics wants to fall in love with a man who makes her toes curl when he kisses her. Unfortunately, the one man who makes her toes curl also wears ladies’ pink underwear and a badge. The pink underwear she could probably deal with, but the badge is a different story.

Ever since seeing her mother and granny Pearl murdered by men with badges, Jane has a fear of cops and anyone who carries a badge. Especially, because the killers are still on the loose and searching for her.

Former FBI Cybercrime special agent turned small-town Chief of Police, Cooper Chance, gets caught with his pants down and his family jewels tucked in pink ladies’ underwear with lacy frills when he meets the woman of his dreams. That’s not his only issue. The woman has a fear of cops. If he can get past her guard, maybe he can save her life.

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

I’ve been writing since 2003. I started writing my first novel when I was unemployed. It took years to complete thanks to going back to work and learning the craft of fiction writing. But what fun!

Phish Net Stalkings is my fifth novel and came about because of all the Internet phishing scams we receive in our emails every day.

Q: How did you choose your title and was it your first choice?

Great question! I was talking with the guys I work with one day and we bounced ideas off the top of our heads. Then one of the guys, Tony Pimentel came up with Phish Net Stalkings and it was perfect!

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?

Hm. My publisher has a website and they post stuff there, they of course belong to other groups where the information is passed on but that’s about it. Me? I have put out press releases, use Facebook and Twitter to announce the book and events, along with my blog (which I admit is not always kept up, depending on my writing). I reach out to book bloggers that I know and I put in requests for book reviews. Of course, the greatest thing I do to publicize my book is give copies away. The more the book is read, the more someone will pass my name on.

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

HA! I just happen to have a copy of it with me. The heroine is at a flea market looking for a very special gift for her mentor and business partner.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

So glad you asked. I literally just finished writing THE END in my sixth novel. It’s a book from my heart and I hope you all will read and love it when it comes out.

Q: What is the one thing you learned about your book AFTER it was published?

That for some reason everyone who reads it says it’s my best book yet. I think it’s because of the ending.

Q: What is your most favorite time of the day or night to write?

Morning. I am up so early that my energy is overflowing in the morning, especially after I have gone for a two-mile run.

Q: What is usually better – the book or the movie?

I have never seen a movie be better than a book. There are too many pieces that don’t come out in a movie. It’s kind of like listening to an abridged book. You get the idea, but miss the heart.

Q: You’re about to write your next book. What did you learn from your previous book to help you write your next book?

I learned that knowing my characters inside and out brings them to life. The hero and heroine are practically my best friends and I swear they did not want me to stop writing their story. Not kidding!

Q: Finally, what’s your best tip you can give to writers who want to be published?

Write! Beyond writing, don’t give up. Rejection is part of the game. Learn and move on. Find the next one. Someone will want to read what you have written.

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

Thanks for letting me join you here today. I hope you enjoy reading Phish Net Stalkings as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Guest Blogger: 'Comfortably Awkward' Kenny Scudero

Comfortably Awkward is Kenny Scudero’s debut self-published novel. He is a twenty-two year old author from New York City who looks forward to a bright future in writing. Kenny recently graduated from St. John’s University where he majored in Sport Management. At St. John’s, Kenny was Sports Editor for the University newspaper. After graduating from St. John’s, Kenny had trouble finding a job and wrote “Comfortably Awkward” based off that frustration. He is currently working on his second novel.

You can visit Kenny’s website at www.kennyscudero.com for more information.

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ABOUT COMFORTABLY AWKWARD

For Albert Ferenzo, life is a series of ironic events that may or may not have a reason behind them. While struggling to find a niche for himself, Albert blames the corporate world for hindering his dream of making money and living a prosperous life. After playing the good guy his entire life, Albert decides that the only way to get ahead in the world is to be the bad guy. Albert questions his own fate as he drives himself to insanity in an effort to find happiness. The destinies of Albert and everyone around him intertwine as he finally realizes what life is all about or at least, he thinks he does in this revolt against normality.

Guest Post:

Do you ever feel like strange things are always happening to you and only you? Not only are they strange occurrences, they’re actually humorous things when you realize that they tie in with something or someone else. For example, the other day I was in a little café in New York City and I noticed some weird guy staring at me. He was sitting at a table by himself, drinking a coffee and looking at me as if he knew me. He had a long red beard and curly red hair that would have been fashionable in 1976. The odd thing about him was that he was wearing a suit. He had a nice grey jacket and fancy grey pants to go with his light blue shirt and dark blue tie. He was wearing a suit that I would wear to a job interview, if I was ever actually granted one. I grabbed a coffee quick and walked out of the store with my eyes on the redhead as he continued to stare at me without blinking.

When I got outside and walked across the street, I looked back at the café I was just in. To no surprise, I saw the redhead standing pressed up against the glass of the café. He was staring at me but this time, he had a creepy smirk on his face. I walked briskly and kept looking behind me for about four blocks until I felt safe. A couple of days later, I just happened to me skimming through the cable channels since there is never anything worth watching within my thousand channels, when I saw a picture of the redhead in the right corner of the screen. I spit out the water which was in my mouth and was shocked to see him on the news. They reported that this man was caught robbing a café in Manhattan and was also a suspect in the murder of five different people. I could have been the next victim of this guy but I wasn’t very worried. Somehow, I knew that it wasn’t my time. I didn’t know what else to do but laugh at the irony of what I had just seen.

These types of things happen to me just about every day, though not always to this extreme of a situation. I don’t know if things like this happen to everyone else, but my book “Comfortably Awkward” is filled with stories and occurrences similar to the redhead murderer. I swear, sometimes it feels like there’s someone in the sky watching and giggling at the strange things I see. In the book, I try to get to the bottom of this theory when Albert Ferenzo, our hero, begins questioning the world around him with existentialist influences. I bet the second I stop writing this and walk outside, something crazy will happen. Hopefully it’s not the redhead murderer so I’ll be alive to write whatever happens into my next book.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Interview with A.K. Alexander, author of 'Daddy's Home'

I started writing when I was nine-years-old. I used to write short stories on my dad’s notepads. One day he read one and he said to me, “You are a writer.” It stuck. My dad is still my biggest supporter and he is also my mentor in many ways. I went to college at The University of Southern California. My parents though didn’t think that “creative writing” at USC was a major that would likely be lucrative in the long run, so I figured I would be logical and look at writing in the journalistic field. God (the Universe), etc. had a different plan for me. Soon after I graduated from USC I gave birth to my first son. He was six weeks premature and he had some health issues, which caused me to decide that going into a career at that time would not benefit my son. So, I stayed home with him and I wrote my first book. That first book is tucked away in a box somewhere because it’s pretty darn bad, but it gave me the confidence I needed to know that I could start, write, and finish a book. From that point on, it took me twelve years to become a published author and several manuscripts. It has been a wonderful and amazing process, and although many challenges have presented themselves along the way, I have never quit writing. It is my passion!

My other passion is Horses. These amazing animals are very dear to my heart and I have been known to take in “strays.” My daughter and I are very active in the horse world. My daughter is involved in pony club and three day eventing.

I enjoy work with other writers when I can , especially kids. I designed a program for young writers to help them learn how to write short stories and picture books to writing complete novellas for older kids. I have mentored several students now and it’s a joyful experience to see young writers and their creative minds at work. It is something I am working on expanding with some local teachers in my area.

Family and friends are extremely important to me. I am the proud mother of three amazing kids who have always supported me and are just great, awesome human beings (yes, I know I sound like every mother in the world about their kids, but I really mean it). My husband is my best friend and a very patient man, which is a real positive—he is married to a writer after all. We also have three dogs, a kitty, and eight horses.

When not writing, riding, or being a taxi-cab driver for my youngest, I try to find time to do a little yoga, meditate or cooking. I love cookbooks and cooking!

A.K.’s recent release is Daddy’s Home.

You can visit her website at www.michelescott.com/books/ak-alexander.

About Daddy’s Home

A KILLER STALKS HIS PREY…


A calculating and deadly killer is in search for what he terms as his perfect family. Preying upon single mothers and their innocent children, the police have dubbed him “The Family Man.”

HE WATCHES THEM…HE TAKES THEM…


He plays out his role as the perfect father. When things don’t go so perfect in his insane fantasy world, the family man kills.

HOLLY JENNINGS IS ON THE CASE…


Crime Scene Investigator Holly Jennings of the San Diego Police Department is determined to track him down and see that justice is served. With Holly being a single mother herself, this man’s crimes are deeply personal to her, and turn more so when a friend and her daughter become the latest victims of “The Family Man.”

Along with tracking an evil killer, Holly is dealing with her own internal demons. She is raising her daughter Chloe alone after the death of her husband–a death she feels guilty for.

To complicate her life further, Holly is doing her best to avoid possibly falling in love again with charming veterinarian Brendan O’Neil. As Holly delves deeper into solving the murders, she finds herself being sucked into a game of cat and mouse by “The Family Man,” that may lead her down a dark path too horrible to bear. One that may cost her gravely-her family, her new found love, and even her life.

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

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I’ve been a focused fiction writer for 20 years.

Q: How did you choose your title and was it your first choice?

I chose it because of the creep factor. The killer sees himself as the perfect father and he reminded me of Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. I kept seeing that scene in my head where Jack’s character breaks down the door and says, Johnny’s here. It made me think of Daddy’s Home. It was my first choice of a title.

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

I am the publisher. I was published from 2004-2010 with a Big 6 house. My two mystery series were dropped in 2010 and I decided with the ever changing face of publishing to do it on my own. I do all of my own marketing and the books are selling extremely well. Daddy’s Home has hit The Wall Street Journal’s Bestseler List, The Amazon Bestseller list in both The U.K. and The U.S., and several Indie bestseller lists. The film rights are now under management by the producers of Mad Men and The Walking Dead.

There have been over 200,000 copies worldwide sold of this book.

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

Yes. In this scene Holly is going undercover at a dating service to get the goods on the seedy owner who is suspected of being the killer.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I am currently writing the sequel and plan to make Holly Jennings and series character. She’s kind of like a female Alex Cross.

Q: What is the one thing you learned about your book AFTER it was published?

That women could relate to it because so there are a lot of women out there who have been stalked. I’ve received quite a few e-mails with some scary stories. Life is stranger than fiction!

Q: What is your most favorite time of the day or night to write?

The day time is the best time for me. I have a big family and I reserve the evenings for spending time with them.

Q: What is usually better – the book or the movie?

Usually the book, but there have been some good movies based off of books, too—Harry Potter comes to mind.

Q: You’re about to write your next book. What did you learn from your previous book to help you write your next book?

I’ve been writing for years—18 books now, but each book teaches me something and helps me get better as a writer. Focus is the key and sitting in the chair and writing the book!

Q: Finally, what’s your best tip you can give to writers who want to be published?

Write. Write the best book you can. Have it edited. Don’t have your spouse, parents, or best friend be your editor or critique it. Get a good, objective editor, and study the craft. That is it. It may sound boring and simple but that is the best advice I can give.

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

Readers are why writers should write. It’s all about entertaining the readers and doing something that you love. Writing is a passion that is in you—follow it. I am truly grateful for every reader who picks up one of my books.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mainstream Action Adventure Novelist Kim Antieau: Writers always cross fingers that word of mouth will generate sales'

Kim Antieau has written many novels, short stories, poems, and essays. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, both in print and online, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov’s SF, The Clinton Street Quarterly, The Journal of Mythic Arts, EarthFirst!, Alternet, Sage Woman, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. She was the founder, editor, and publisher of Daughters of Nyx: A Magazine of Goddess Stories, Mythmaking, and Fairy Tales. Her work has twice been short-listed for the Tiptree Award, and has appeared in many Best of the Year anthologies. Critics have admired her “literary fearlessness” and her vivid language and imagination. She has had nine novels published. Her first novel, The Jigsaw Woman, is a modern classic of feminist literature. Kim lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, writer Mario Milosevic.

Her latest book is Her Frozen Wild.

Learn more about Kim and her writing at www.kimantieau.com.

About Her Frozen Wild

Scientists in the Altai in Siberia uncover the 2,500 year old frozen mummy of a tattooed priestess or shaman. This mummy has the same mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) as American archaeologist Ursula Smith whose mother disappeared in Siberia 30 years earlier. Ursula travels from the U.S. to Siberia to unravel the mystery of the “lady” and meets Sergei Ivanovich Polyakov, a Russian doctor who graciously invites her into his home. After they become lovers, she discovers he has the same tattoos on his body as the tattooed lady. He tells a disbelieving Ursula that they have met before and she is destined to save the ancient People, considered as devils by some and shape-changing gods by others. A shaman takes Ursula to one of the sacred timeless caves where Ursula’s mother supposedly disappeared. When Ursula allows the shaman to tattoo her, she is thrown back in time where she must unlock the mystery of the People and their link to her past in order to save them and Sergei—even if it costs her her life.

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

I’ve been writing since I was about five years old. I wrote stories all through my elementary school years. During high school, I started writing one book a year. I’ve never looked back. I got the idea for Her Frozen Wild after I read a National Geographic article about the discovery in Siberia of what they called the “ice maiden,” a frozen mummy. She had tattoos on her body, and she’d been buried with a conical hat and other accoutrements that indicated to the archaeologists that she might have been some kind of priestess or shaman. I got goose bumps as I read about her, and I knew I would write a book about her.

Q: How did you choose your title and was it your first choice?

Yes, it was my first choice. The book mostly takes place in Siberia and the main character, Ursula, had felt frozen in her life for some time. She needs to go into the wild to discover her true nature. Her Frozen Wild seemed a perfect title for the story.

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

I’ve never had any of my publishers do much promotion. I’ve done different things over the years. I’ve sent out postcards to libraries and bookstores; I’ve printed up bookmarks and given them out; I’ve gone on tour to various libraries and bookstores and given readings and done talks. I’ve never found any of that to make any difference in sales. This time I decided to do a Virtual Book Tour and see what happens. I’m doing interviews at various blogs and websites, and some places are reviewing the book. Writers always cross their fingers that word of mouth will generate the most sales. They say that’s what will make the most difference—unless you get on Oprah’s book club or something like that.

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

I turned to page 284. Ursula is now in Siberia about 2,500 years in the past. She’s living with the Scythian warriors, who are much like the (supposedly mythical) Amazons. She’s encountered her lover from the 20th century, Sergei, who is younger now and who goes by a different name. He doesn’t know her from before. Opyea, the leader of the warrior class, has been mentoring Ursula, and she’s instructed Sergei to teach Ursula the ways of the clan. It’s night and everyone is dancing. Ursula asks Sergei what the dance means. He says, “They are creating the universe. Everything is made from sacred forms and when we recreate those forms with our bodies, we harmonize with the rest of the universe. Would you like to try?” She’s shy to dance in front of everyone, so they slip away, and he teaches her to dance. Eventually, they end up making love.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?


I have no plans to write a sequel to this now, although readers are starting to ask for one. I’ve got other novels coming up though. In fact, starting in May, we’ve got a crazy novel (in both senses of that word) publishing schedule coming up. We’re calling it Six in Six—or something like that; we haven’t worked it all out yet. But Green Snake Publishing is putting out six of my new novels in six months. These novels are all very different from one another and all have been written sometime in the last two years. Two of them I started years ago, but I put them away until recently. I wasn’t quite ready to write them until this year.

The six novels are Jewelweed Station (an antebellum novel about the Underground Railroad with a Scarlet Pimpernel-like young woman as the main character), The Desert Siren (after her husband of 30 years leaves her, a woman searches for a mythical herd of Irish fairy horses on her Arizona ranch), Whackadoodle Times (a Hollywood screenwriter deals with her demons, lovers, husband, children, and zombie scripts—along with earthquakes, wildfires, and tsunamis), Butch: A Bent Western (in 1918 New Mexico, Butch McLean can solve almost any problem with a gun or a quip or a negotiation—unless, of course, the problem is her own), The Rift (a rift in the road separates a group of people from the rest of), and Pricked: A Jane Deere Novel (a woman on the run settles in Tucson and discovers she has a gift for solving problems in extraordinary ways). I’m excited about all of these books, and I think Six in Six will be so much fun!

Q: What is the one thing you learned about your book AFTER it was published?

I’ve been surprised and delighted that the novel appeals to a wide audience of men and women of various ages. I like that! Recently a friend of mine had a dinner party for me, to celebrate the novel coming out. All of the guests had read Her Frozen Wild, and after dinner, we sat around talking about it. The most enthusiastic reader was a young man in his thirties. He loved all the different plot elements. He talked excitedly about the characters, the love story, and the Scythian warriors. He loved it all. The second most enthusiastic reader was a man who was going to retire the following week. He loved the book, too. He was a voracious reader, and he usually liked hard science fiction stories, but he loved Her Frozen Wild. And women of various ages have told me that the book really hits a cord with them, especially Ursula’s relationship with her mentor Sula who teaches her how to tap into her true wild self.

Q: What is your most favorite time of the day or night to write?

I like to write mid-morning to mid-afternoon. I like to wake up slowly, tiptoe into the day, meditate, go out to the garden, and think about my dreams. By mid-morning I’m ready to go—unless it’s nice outside. I live in a part of the world where the weather is bad for about six months of the year. So when it’s nice outside, I am outside hiking or gardening or just wandering the forest. Any writing plans go out the window when the weather is nice! I don’t write after about six in the evening because I need to unwind. Otherwise, I’ll have trouble getting to sleep.

Q: What is usually better – the book or the movie?

The book.

Q: You’re about to write your next book. What did you learn from your previous book to help you write your next book?

To relax and have fun. Writing stories is one of my favorite things to do; it is also my work, but it’s important to have fun with it.

Q: Finally, what’s your best tip you can give to writers who want to be published?

Don’t worry about getting published until you write the book.

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

Thank you so much! I’ve enjoyed this. You can find more about my books on my website (which is also my blog): http://www.kimantieau.com/. My facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/kimantieau. More FAQ on Her Frozen Wild can be found here: http://www.kimantieaubooks.com/2012/01/her-frozen-wild.html