Friday, June 28, 2013

Interview with Jordan Ekeroth, author of 'The Fulton Incident'


 Jordan Ekeroth is a young man with a clear voice, wisdom beyond his years, and always a story to tell. From a young age, you could find him either buried in books or bearing the adventure of his imagination into the great outdoors. He’s met some people and seen some things that have given him a radical desire to impact the world in a positive way. A person of deep faith, his dream in writing is to take people along on the adventure of a lifetime, while simultaneously creating a space for them to learn about themselves and the world around them.

His latest book is the adventure/suspense, The Fulton Incident.

You can visit Jordan Ekeroth’s website at www.jordanekeroth.com.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?
 Last spring I was volunteering in the slums of Uganda and feeling despondent at the weight of an emotional burden that I'd brought with me and which had been in no way relieved by the pressure of try to do good in the face of such abject poverty and ruin. This book started as a story that was meant to give a shape to what I was going through. Over there, away from cell service and Facebook and Netflix Instant, I found the ideas flowing fast and strong, and with a little determination began finding ways to turn my stress into creative energy. What resulted was The Fulton Incident.
Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?
 It was very hard to write like this. I don't recommend it. If you can find a way to make your life really easy and then write a book, do that. Of course I'm not sure if that's possible either. I would say this: no matter where you are right now, if you want to write a book, sit down with yourself first and think through your motivations. Refine them if necessary. Your reason for writing is what will get you through fruitless and distraction-filled days.
Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
 I self-published.
Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?
 I was very surprised by how easy the actual self-publishing process was via Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing program. Anyone can do it. Whether or not just anyone should is another story.
Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?
 It was like riding a bike without training wheels for the first time. It was out there, and it was going. There were people cheering me on, and I felt like I could do anything.
Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?
 I have a post-apocalyptic trilogy called The Impure in the works. It will have a much more elaborate plot than anything I'm used to, so I'm taking plenty of time to plan and develop everything before I share too much more about it.
Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?
 Funny you should ask. The book itself directly addresses this issue. Various answers are explored, but finally, at the end of it all, the main character makes some radical choices that he hopes will improve the world in a tangible way. Some may take issue with these choices, but I hope for the book to stand as a challenge rather than a prescription; provoking people to think about this very question.
Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?
  That a hard truth is better than a comfortable lie, and that "seeing the light" can actually show us some very disturbing things.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?
 Thanks for having me. If anyone reads the book, I would love to hear what you think. You can connect with me on Twitter (@jordanekeroth) or email me directly! (jordan@jordanekeroth.com)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sweet Revenge: Dueling with the Devil Book 2 Book Blast + Win $25 Amazon Gift Card!


Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. What if that woman is a demon, in fact Lilith's very own daughter? Isabella LaCoste vowed to get her revenge on her ex and his new human fiance. She didn't commit fifty years of her life to be thrown out like last season's runway fad. But taking vengeance on an upper level Shifter Demon and the newly crowned Voodoo Princess might not be a one demon job. She volunteers her services to Lucifer to deliver Angel and Jacque in exchange for his help. She never expected her new partner in crime would fill the void in her broken heart.
Not even death brought him peace. Xavier Toussant wanted out of his contract and the killing business. His last assignment was his own brother and he failed to deliver. Lucifer didn't appreciate his valor in dealing with his brother, Jacque. In fact, it only created more problems. Xavier's back on assignment to capture his brother and the Voodoo chick. Only this time, he's shackled to the craziest female in the Underworld. Xavier finds Isabella LaCoste might be the one thing to put his soul at ease.
Sweet Revenge: Dueling with the Devil Book 2 was a Finalist in the Music City Melody of Love Contest.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON

About the Author:

Although Vivi Dumas grew up an Army brat, she calls Louisiana home, but have endured the hot summers and cold winters of Maryland for the last 16 years. She is a graduate of Mount St. Mary’s University with an MBA in Finance and Marketing. Her analytical side has honed a career in the financial industry for almost twenty years. To balance her logical, numerical day job, she unleashes her creativity in her writing.
Vivi pens multicultural paranormal romance, mixing the two genres she loves. Her steamy paranormal romances indulge in worlds inhabited by demons, werewolves, vampires, and other supernatural beings. She has published works with Decadent Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and Breathless Press.
Her latest book is the paranormal romance, Sweet Revenge: Dueling with the Devil Book 2.
Visit her website at www.ViviDumas.com.
Connect & Socialize with Vivi!

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
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Interview with Ash Hoden, author of The Idiot of Funkyville


The Idiot of FunkyvilleABOUT THE IDIOT OF FUNKYVILLE

What is travel? Asking this question is like asking, "What is life?" or, "Who are you?" (or, as I've frequently been asked, "Who are you?"). The answers to such questions are as numerous as the people asking. The Idiot of Funkyville: Becoming an Everywhere Citizen takes a chronological snapshot of actual personal experiences as a young and less-than-young man living and playing abroad; exploring each of the above questions in the context of a displaced American piecing himself together on foreign turf. Contained therein: perhaps an excess of sex, more than a healthy dose of drugs, and all the rock 'n' roll one can ask for. Balance is achieved as the vignettes build one on top of the next. Pondering the course of my life from the confines of a Qatari jail cell, reminiscence begins with teenage confusion at a Mexican bar and concludes with grown confusion as an expat in the Middle East. In progression, the narrowing spiral of personal growth leaves finer grained finger prints as the tales evolve through destinations and age. In theory, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But that's for the experts to decide. Having dismounted a train, plane, boat, or rickshaw in nearly forty countries (including Canada), The Idiot of Funkyville documents a life of travel as a point-blank portrayal of my life through travel. And who doesn't love life and travel both? Whether you've already gone or have no intention of ever, ever going near the place, wonder is universal. We all have questions. A good majority of my questions just happened to be pondered abroad.
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 Thank you for your time in answering our questions  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to write a book?
Actually, this didn’t begin with a decision to sit down and write a book. This book basically happened to me. Over the course of a 13-month backpacking experience I wrote a series of travel stories as a way to take greater meaning from the experiences I was having. At some point in time I realized that these stories were the foundation of something bigger. Then it was a process of giving it cohesion through additions, subtractions, or revisions.

Is this your first book?
Yes, this is a first. Hopefully not a last though.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?
With publishing, my biggest debate revolved around whether to create an ebook or to try the traditional route, which is to attract an agent who will ideally sell your book to a publisher. ‘Henry Chalfant’s Big Subway Archive’, an ebook collection of the author’s photos of New York’s graffiti art in the 1970’s and 80’s, was the catalyst for my choice to go the ebook route. I realized that with an ebook I could add sound and video to help enhance the written stories. Since this is a travel-based collection, I thought that was a valuable addition. Through the videos, the reader is given a glimpse of each destination. They get a greater feel for the overall message and it makes the written portion of the book more tangible.
What lessons do you feel you learned about the publishing industry?
The biggest lesson I have learned is that this is merely the beginning of digital publishing. Ebook revenue is already greater than the revenue of traditional paper books and yet Amazon, the leading ebook distributor, still hasn’t embraced the use of multimedia. They still do not support audio or video formats and their pricing model, by reducing an author’s income by charging delivery fees based on ebook file size, discourages authors from adding the types of features that make ebooks distinct. Essentially, the publishing industry -- both on the digital and traditional side -- have still not come to terms with how to approach the digital revolution.
If you had the chance to change something regarding how you got published, what would you change?
It’s not necessarily something I would want to change, but my greatest hurdle will come from being a self-published author. In order to attract attention to my book, The Idiot of Funkyville, I will need to spread the word on an independent level. But that can also be true with a traditional publishing house. For an unknown author with a small existing audience, even when your work is accepted and printed through a well-known publisher, much of the promotional effort will fall on your shoulders.
Did you credit any person or organization with helping you get published?
I mostly credit the friends and family members who supported me while I put this work together. I had a lot of encouragement from the people around me
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Beyond creating the best work they can create and being diligent about writing on a daily basis, aspiring authors should learn about marketing and promotions as well. With the rise of digital, getting published has become the easiest part of the equation. The hard part is creating distinction among a rapidly growing field of talented voices.


ABOUT ASH HODEN

Ash Hoden is a writer, foreign correspondent for a California-based design studio, and architect currently living, working, and writing about living and working in Qatar. His pursuits have always involved creation. He firmly believes social contribution is a fundamental requirement for a happy existence. He attended Colorado State University where he received the American Society of Landscape Architect's Honor Award for exceptional academic design work. In addition to ongoing contributions in the business world, he previously founded an independent design firm and organized CambodiaFund, a method of providing basic school supplies to Cambodian children in need. The Idiot of Funkyville is his first published book. You can visit Ash Hoden's website at www.ashhoden.com.
   
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The Idiot of Funkyville Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule

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Monday, May 6 - 1st chapter reveal at Freda's Voice
Wednesday, May 8 - Guest blogging at Between the Covers
Friday, May 10 - Interviewed at Review From Here
Tuesday, May 14 - 1st chapter reveal at Parenting 2.0
Wednesday, May 15 - Guest blogging at Allvoices
Thursday, May 16 - Interviewed at Examiner
Monday, May 20 - Guest blogging at Books, Books, the Magical Fruit
Wednesday, May 22 - Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Thursday, May 23 - Interviewed at Book Marketing Buzz
Monday, May 27 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Tuesday, May 28 - Guest blogging at The Writer's Life
Thursday, May 30 - Book featured at Authors and Reader's Book Corner
Wednesday, June 5 - Interviewed at Digital Journal
Thursday, June 6 - Guest blogging at Redroom
Friday, June 7 - Interviewed at Blogher
Monday, June 10 - Interviewed at Books, Books, the Magical Fruit
Tuesday, June 11 - Guest blogging at Allvoices
Wednesday, June 12 - Book featured at Literarily Speaking
Thursday, June 13 - Book featured at Plug Your Book
Friday, June 14 - Guest blogging at My Cozie Corner
Monday, June 17 - Guest blogging at The Story Behind the Book
Tuesday, June 18 - 1st chapter reveal at As the Pages Turn
Wednesday, June 19 - Interviewed at Between the Covers
Thursday, June 20 - Book featured at My Cozie Corner
Friday, June 21 - Guest blogging at Reading Through Life One Page at a Time
Monday, June 24 - Book featured at Beyond the Books
Tuesday, June 25 - Interviewed at Broowaha
Wednesday, June 26 - Interviewed at The Writer's Life
Thursday, June 27 - Guest blogging at I'm Shelf-ish
Friday, June 28 - Book reviewed at The Self-Taught Cook
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Pump Up Your Book

Interview with Christine Amsden, author of Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective

Cassie Scot banner

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CassieScot_medABOUT CASSIE SCOT: PARANORMAL DETECTIVE

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.
  Purchase at: barnes and noble amazon amazon

1.       Why was writing Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective so important to you?

From the first moment I met Cassie, she demanded that I tell her story. She wouldn't let me quit until I finished, and even now she lingers on in my mind. I've never had a character do that to me before. I hope it happens again. It was intense but so rewarding.

Cassie is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers. The story is about that – about her – about her search for self-acceptance. I correctly classify it as fantasy and romance and mystery but it's the character that makes the story. She's a young woman with a problem that I think many can relate to – including me. I'm legally blind. (I'm typing this in 36-point font, in case you're wondering. Don't worry, I'll highlight it all and drop it to 12-point before I'm done!) I've never been able to write a blind character (either totally blind or partially blind) but I could write about Cassie living without magic in a world of magic.

2.       What was the writing/creative process like?

It's different for every book, but for this book it was a blast. I came up with the idea, spent a month or two brainstorming ideas for the entire series, then pounded out a rough draft in another month and a half. Revisions and rewrites too longer, but I'm happy with the results. I was actually able to draft the entire series before my final revision of the first book so I truly knew where I was going from the start.

3.       How did you come up with the title?

There are a lot of paranormal detectives out there. Cassie Scot is pretending not to be one, so she calls herself a normal detective. The strike-through on the cover came to me in a burst of inspiration, though I spent the next few years second-guessing myself People correctly pointed out that it would be difficult to catalog. Should you search for normal detective or paranormal detective? I don't know! Search for Cassie Scot and you can't go wrong.

4.       When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was 8 and wrote a short story about Cabbage Patch Dolls going to Mars.

5.       What books do you believe influenced you in your life?

I had to come back to this one because I'm not sure how to answer. I can tell you which books have influenced my writing the most (Orson Scott Card and Jim Butcher), which I've enjoyed the most (Karen Marie Moning, Jude Deveraux, Catherine Anderson, Jayne Ann Krentz), and which I've reread to the point of absurdity (Harry Potter). But I'm not sure that these books have influenced my life so much as made it a joy to live. I do sometimes read the sort of books that are meant to open your eyes or change your view of the world (Middlesex) and they do. But I had to have an open mind in the first place in order for that to happen. As strange as this may sound, I think readers create their own stories. Yes, the words were immutably written by someone else, but our own tastes, experiences, and personalities bring the stories to life inside our own mind. At that point, did they influence us or did we influence them? It's hard to say. A lifetime of reading has to have made an impact on me, but I can't point to any one book and say – This one!

6.       How much influence did you have in the cover of your book?  Did you initially have a different idea of how it would look?

I had some influence. My publisher picked the artist and I told him I wanted a view of Table Rock Lake with Cassie (I described her) looking wistfully across the lake. I should say that this cover is a painting, not the typical photo manipulation or computer graphics more common these days. It wasn't my idea to do that, but I'm pleased with the result. The cover is a bit different from other covers in the same genre, more raw, less perfect, but ultimately so is Cassie.

7.       Can you describe a typical day for you?

Wake up, check e-mail, wake the kids up, get them off to school, write, edit, watch The Daily Show, write, promote, get the kids, help them with homework and baths, make dinner, read a book, spend some time with my husband, go to bed, repeat!

8.       What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

I play games. I'm in a D&D campaign and I play board games when I can. There are a few shows I watch (Doctor Who, The Daily Show, America's Got Talent) but I read a lot more than I watch TV.

9.       What do your family and friends think of your writing?

They love it! They're very supportive, especially my husband.

1    What do you think is more important – a good plot, or good characters?  Why did you choose the one you did?


Characters! I'm a character girl. As I said earlier, Cassie made me write this book. Good characters are also what I look for as a reader. I find myself willing to forgive slightly contrived or obvious plots if I'm deeply in love with a character. Having said that, plot does matter! Don't misunderstand me. An actively bad plot will undermine a story. My feelings are more like this: I'd rather read about awesome characters in only decent plots than awesome plots with only decent characters. Bad plots/characters are right out. 

ABOUT CHRISTINE AMSDEN

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone. At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt's Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. (You can learn more here.) In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children. Her latest book is Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective
 

WATCH THE TRAILER!


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Pump Up Your Book and Christine Amsden are teaming up to give you a chance to win a new Kindle Fire HD!

Here's how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. If your blog isn't set up to accept the form, we offer another way for you to participate by having people comment on your blog then directing them to where they can fill out the form to gain more entries. This promotion will run from May 13 - August 16. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on August 17, 2013. Each blogger who participates in the Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective virtual book tour is eligible to enter and win. Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour. If you would like to participate, email Tracee at tgleichner(at)gmail.com.  What a great way to not only win this fabulous prize, but to gain followers and comments too! Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule

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Monday, May 13 - Book reviewed at Sara's Organized Chaos
Tuesday, May 14 - Book trailer reveal at Margay Leah Justice
Wednesday, May 15 - Book spotlight at The Busy Mom's Daily
Thursday, May 16 - Character interview at Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
Friday, May 17 - Book reviewed at By the Broomstick
Monday, May 20 - Interviewed at Review From Here
Tuesday, May 21 - First chapter reveal at Offbeat Vagabond
Wednesday, May 22 - Book reviewed at Offbeat Vagabond
Thursday, May 23 - Guest blogging at You Gotta Read
Monday, May 27 - Book reviewed at My Cozie Corner
Thursday, May 30 - Guest blogging at Miki's Hope
Monday, June 3 - Guest blogging at Janna Shay
Tuesday, June 4 - Guest blogging at The Book Connection
Thursday, June 6 - Book reviewed at Miki's Hope
Friday, June 7 - Book reviewed at Repeat Reads
Monday, June 10 - Interviewed at From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, June 11 - First chapter reveal at By the Broomstick
Wednesday, June 12 - Book reviewed at Waiting on Sunday to Drown
Thursday, June 13 - First chapter reveal at Butterfly-o-Meter Books
Friday, June 14 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Monday, June 17 - Book reviewed at Carol's Notebook
Tuesday, June 18 - Book featured at Naturally Kim B
Wednesday, June 19- First chapter reveal at Inside BJ's Head
Thursday, June 20 - Book reviewed at Quilted Reviews
Friday, June 21 - First chapter reveal at Literary Winner
Monday, June 24 - Interviewed at The Writer's Life
Tuesday, June 25 - Guest blogging at Janna Shay
Wednesday, June 26 - Book reviewed at From the TBR Pile
Thursday, June 27 - First chapter reveal at As the Pages Turn
Friday, June 28 - Interviewed at American Chronicle
Wednesday, July 3 - Book trailer reveal at Pump Up Your Book
Friday, July 5 - Book reviewed at Inside BJ's Head
Monday, July 8 - 5 Things at Literarily Speaking
Thursday, July 11 - Book reviewed at Mary's Cup of Tea
Friday, July 12 - Interviewed at Digital Journal
Monday, July 15 - Interviewed at Broowaha
Friday, July 19 - Book featured at By the Broomstick
Monday, July 22 - Book featured at Book Marketing Buzz
Tuesday, July 23 - Interviewed at Examiner
Wednesday, July 24 - Book reviewed at Naturally Kim B
Thursday, July 25 - Book reviewed at Review From Here
Friday, July 26 - Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Monday, August 5 - First Chapter Reveal at Confessions of a Book Habitue
Tuesday, August 6 - Book reviewed Confessions of a Book Habitue
Wednesday, August 7 - Interviewed at As the Pages Turn
Friday, August 9 - Top Ten at Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
Monday, August 12 - Interviewed at Beyond the Books
Tuesday, August 13 - Guest blogging at The Writer's Life
Wednesday, August 14 - Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Thursday, August 15 - Up Close and Personal at Between the Covers
Friday, August 16 - Book featured at The Road to Here
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Interview with Elizabeth Fountain, author of 'An Alien's Guide to World Domination'


I am so thrilled to have sci-fi fantasty author Elizabeth Fountain here today at The Writer’s Life.  Liz is here to talk about how she got her book published, writing tips and more. 

Elizabeth left a demanding job as a university administrator in Seattle to move to the small town of Ellensburg, Washington, and pursue her dream of writing novels.  She started writing in grade school; fortunately, most of her tortured high school poetry and song lyrics are lost to posterity. Her first book was five years in the making, and offered lots of opportunities to give up along the way; that might be why it’s a tale of people, aliens, and dogs who face the impossible, and do it anyway.  An independent publishing house in Calgary, Champagne Book Group, released the novel in April. Now Liz has three more novels in progress. She takes breaks from writing to teach university courses, spend time with family and friends, and take long walks while leaning into the diabolical Kittitas valley wind.  She holds degrees in philosophy, psychology, and leadership, which contribute to a gently humorous view of humanity well suited to tales of aliens and angels, love and death, friendship and dogs. Liz strives to live according to a line from British singer-songwriter Chris Rea: “Every day, good luck comes in the strangest of ways.”


Visit her blog at www.lizfountain.wordpress.com or become her friend at Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethFountainAuthor.


Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

This book took five years from start to publication. Back in 2008, I’d been struggling, trying to write a serious and realistic story about a woman who works too much. Writing it bored even me. Then, after an inspiring late-night conversation with a friend, I fell asleep and dreamt about two people talking on a bridge, discovering one of them is from another planet. When I woke up, somehow the entire plot of An Alien’s Guide to World Domination took form in my head. I knew it had to be set in a world like ours, but with one important difference: the aliens we sometimes imagine all around us had to be real.

After that, the humorous elements spilled out: the boss whose alien form is the color of lime Jell-O gone wrong, the bat-bird alien reconnaissance scouts who are especially sensitive to slights, and the blind min-Schnauzer who really is from Mars. More slowly I realized what the book needed to be about, its central theme: that no matter how absurd or seemingly impossible life appears, we have to try, anyway. And if we let our friends and chosen family help us, there’s truly nothing we can’t do.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Over the three and a half years that followed the dream and the initial burst of creativity, I worked diligently on the manuscript. Well, except for the many, many times I became convinced I couldn’t do it, couldn’t write anything well, couldn’t find the words, couldn’t construct sentences, couldn’t create plots or characters or scenes or anything. I gave up more times than I can count, only to find some way back to the story, some new inspiration or energy. Life also intervened: I divorced, left a high-pressure job, and relocated to a small town to devote my time to teaching university classes for a living, and writing novels for my soul.

I’m not sure there is any way to make the journey of writing a novel easier. It consists of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. You must cling to the joyous parts and let the elation of creating something beautiful carry you through what I call the “sloggy parts” – low motivation, painstaking revision, or just plain exhaustion.

The journey of publication? Well, thanks to a generous acquisitions editor (Judy Griffith Gill) who took a flyer on this book, and the terrific team at Champagne Book Group, this part of the journey’s been a great deal of fun. Just like they tell you, though, in this business you have to submit often and put up with a lot of rejection to find that one person who will roll the dice and take a chance on your work. Hang in there until you do. Then just keep working your a**  off until your editor says it’s ready for final release!

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

BURST!, an imprint of Champagne Book Group (CBG), published An Alien’s Guide to World Domination in April of this year. I think how it came about is a funny story. At the 2011 Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association conference, I attended a workshop on writing query letters. I’d never written one before in my life, so the night before, I looked online, found some web site or other with advice, and threw a letter together. At the workshop, they drew our letters at random to read out loud, without names, just the “guts” of the query, and asked a panel of agents and editors to critique them.

I sat there, half hoping mine wouldn’t be selected, and then it was. I heard the workshop facilitator read my words out loud, and felt my cheeks burn. I knew my query was awful, and three of the four members of the panel confirmed it. Then J. Ellen Smith, the owner of Champagne Books, said something like, “Yeah, it’s a pretty bad query. But there’s something about this story I like. It’s piqued my interest.”

Thank god, I thought, because I had an individual pitch session with her the next day, and nightmare visions of pitching a novel she already hated based on my bad query! I stumbled through my five-minute pitch, and then reminded her she’d heard my lousy query letter the day before. That made her giggle, and she invited me to send a synopsis and three chapters.

Six months after I submitted, Judy Griffith Gill, CBG’s acquisitions editor at the time, emailed me: “Would you be willing to send the whole manuscript?” I’d very nearly put it away for good just the week before. I pulled it up on my computer, wrote to Judy that I’d be thrilled, and spent five manic days re-polishing the manuscript before I hit “send.”

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

You mean other than the fact that someone wanted to publish it at all? Honestly, when CBG wrote to offer me a contract, I melted into a puddle of tears. The idea that an experienced publisher saw merit in my storytelling, and wanted to help it connect with an audience, surprised me more than anything that’s happened since.

Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?

The final editing round became a mess of my own creation. I received my ARC (advanced reader copy) and a form to document errata. Wanting to do a stellar job of final proofing, I printed out the entire ARC – 280 pages. I settled in with a blue highlighter to mark any errors I found.

By page ten, the ARC was bleeding blue ink. Nearly in tears again, I wondered what could have happened. Letters like “z” or “x” would simply be missing. Capitals were gone. I plodded through, increasingly panicked, to meet the quick turnaround deadline. After days of intense line editing, I sent my enormous errata list to my editor.

Almost immediately, I received a puzzled query in response: “Where are all these errors you documented? They aren’t in the ARC we’re reviewing here.”

I grabbed my hard copy, and saw all the blue. Then I pulled the e-copy of the ARC back up on my computer screen. Sure enough, nearly all the errors I “found” weren’t there.

I hadn’t “found” them at all – I’d created them when I’d sent the ARC to my inexpensive printer, which didn’t recognize the font, and so decided to spit out this dreadful error-ridden print copy. (A good friend who does a lot of graphic design laughed unmercifully at me, as she says this is a well-known phenomenon in design circles, and why they always proof on screen rather than hard copy.)

This is a long answer to the question, but it helps explain why my feeling at the first sight of the final published e-book consisted of relief mixed with terror that I’d missed something, followed by the stunned realization that this book was finally “real.”

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’ve sent a second manuscript to my editor at CBG and to an agent. It’s the tale of Jane Margaret Blake, whose ability to write stories that come true in the real world creates havoc for her friends and her love life. In her stories, animals, humans, spirits, angels, and even the Universe itself conspire to destroy Jane’s last chance to be with her old love, or, just maybe, to bring her an opportunity for new love. As her writing and her drinking spiral out of control, Jane must face reality about herself and her relationships, and discover her ability to write her own happy ending. I’m waiting to hear if either CBG or the agent is interested.

And, I’m finishing the manuscript I started in 2012’s National Novel Writing Month. This is my first try at a novel-length work for middle-grade readers. It’s about Amy June Pilgrim, who is halfway through her twelfth year and desperate to prove she’s not a little kid anymore; and her Grandpa Marq, who leads a crack team of misfit computer and math geeks on the hunt for the mathematical formula for immediate forgiveness. If they find it, the world will be freed from war, violence, and suffering, so it’s no wonder so many people want to stop them. Amy June finds herself on a cross-country trek with her Grandpa, facing enemies real and imagined, longing to be reunited with her father who disappeared five years earlier, and finding the unconditional love of a black Lab whose well-timed dog fart helps foil Amy June’s kidnapping. Together they discover the true formula for forgiveness, triggered by the love of a dog. An agent is interested in reading the first three chapters of this one, too, as soon as it’s ready.

Meanwhile, my short story Heaven, about a renegade angel and the human woman he falls in love with, will be published in a compilation from Champagne Books later this summer. There’s romance, and even a little sex, in that one!

Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?

This one stumped me for a long time. I hope the book does help make the world a better place, but how? Some readers have told me it made them laugh. I firmly believe the more laughter we create, the better. So maybe that’s how it works?

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I like to say this book is dedicated to everyone who’s ever looked at their boss and thought: you must be from another planet. But it’s also for everyone who’s looked the impossible straight in the eye, and done it anyway. So many things in life seem impossible until we do them. And I mean “we” – we never accomplish much alone; it always takes our friends, family (biological and chosen families, both), and of course, at least one fiercely loyal dog (or cat) to pull it off.
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I love writing science fiction and fantasy because it gives me a chance to explore all the crazy, improbable, deeper truths about what it means to be human. I love doing interviews because they are yet another way to engage with my fellow readers as we try to figure this human life out together.

About the Book:

Louise Armstrong Holliday is the last person on Earth you’d expect to save the human race. But when she uncovers proof that her boss is an alien the color of lime jelly gone horribly wrong, and is at the center of a plot to destroy humanity, Louie decides to do exactly that. She begins a journey from her company’s suburban Seattle office park to the old cities and castles of Eastern Europe. Along the way, Louie is attacked by flying books, overly-sensitive bat-crow monsters, and her own self-doubts. She must learn the truth about her closest friend, stand up to her boss, confront her oldest enemy, and make peace with her Aunt Emma, who annoys her in the way only true family can. She also has to rely on Buddy, the little blind mini-Schnauzer who saves her life twice – and really is from Mars.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.

Interview with Juana Bordas, Author of ‘The Power of Latino Leadership: Culture, Inclusion, and Contribution’

It’s a pleasure to have as my guest Juana Bordas today. Bordas is president of Mestiza Leadership International, a company that focuses on diversity, leadership and organizational change, as well as founding President of the National Hispana Leadership Institute. After being a faculty member for the Center for Creative Leadership, she served as vice president of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership and as a trustee of the International Leadership Association. Her book Salsa, Soul and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age was a International Latino Book Award winner in 2008. Bordas is here today to talk about her latest book, The Power of Latino Leadership. Visit her website.
Bordas is currently touring the blogosphere with Condor Book Tours.
JuanaBordas1What is Mestiza Leadership International and how did your work there begin?
I started Mestiza Leadership International in order to integrate leadership, diversity, and positive social change. In the multicultural age, achieving our potential requires tapping into the talents and assets of our rich diversity. Second, in our country today leadership is listed under business. There is no classification of leadership as a field in libraries, universities, or book categories.
This presents a challenge. The purpose of leadership is not just about business or the economy. Leadership is about creating the society we want to live in. It is about ensuring that the values we hold most dear–equality, justice, the common good, pluralism, community, and individual worth–are integrated into our society. Leadership is also a communal responsibility–everyone has something to contribute. Yes, we want to have a strong economy and good jobs, but we can’t let corporations highjack leadership–leadership has a much wider scope and that is to ensure the people’s well-being and to create the good society.
Mestiza Leadership International promotes leadership that empowers people to make a contribution and be more effective in their communities and organizations.
You’re also the president of National Hispana Leadership Institute. How did that come about?
I was the first president of the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) for the first seven years. NHLI is now 26 years old and I am proud to say has trained hundreds of Latinas from across the country for leadership. The NHLI network of Latinas is an hermanidad or sisterhood who assist and support each other. NHLI is creating a powerful leadership force for Hispanic community advancement and to build a more inclusive America.
Your second book, The Power of Latino Leadership: Culture, Inclusion, and Contribution has just come out. What was your inspiration behind this book?
Recently Time, Newsweek, Parade and Rolling Stone all had Latinos on their covers. Salsa is America’s favourite condiment. Latinos were the deciding force in the last presidential election. Hispanics have the highest participation in the workforce and are the fastest growing small business sector. Moreover, the US is the fastest growing Spanish speaking country in the world. Because of their exploding demographics, by the middle of the century Latinos will make up a third of the US.
The Latinization of America is a real phenomenon–right now!
But how did this happen? What are the leadership lessons of those who advanced the Latino community? What are the contributions Latinos will make in the future…in other words what is Latino Destino? And how can leading with a Latino flavor be a valuable asset for everyone?
5140509The Power of Latino Leadership answers these questions. By understanding how Latinos have arrived to where we are today, and by embracing our unique form of leadership, Latinos can continue moving forward and bring their cultural assets into the mainstream.

Who is your target audience?
Latino leadership is a model for the 21st century. It has an inclusive community spirit that fosters contribution and service. It has an international, intergenerational scope and an immigrant spirit. The Power of Latino Leadership is for anyone who wants to embrace diversity and be a more effective leader.
Mainstream leaders will learn about the powerful ways Latinos have led their communities. Companies will better understand how to serve and connect with Latino consumers. Young Latinos can take pride in the accomplishments and integrity of our leaders. Latinos will know their history and see how leading from their cultural core will make them even more successful.
What would you like readers to learn from your book?
I want to change the “conversation” and focus of leadership. Most leadership books have been written from Anglo, male, and Euro-centric perspective. Historically, leadership has been hierarchical, the domain of the influential few, and associated with control and dominance.
This type of leadership is not strategically suited for the global multicultural age where change is constant and our problems are very complex. People are better educated and want to participate.
The Power of Latino Leadership provides a model that embraces diversity and promotes participation, social responsibility, and community. I hope readers will be inspired to join in and help build a world that cares for its people and values differences.
Tell us about your Latino Leadership Program and its benefits. Who would be a good candidate for this program?
The Latino Leadership Development Program (LLDP) was launched ten years ago. The purpose is to assist Latinos actualize their leadership potential and to increase their contributions to their organizations. The program includes individualized assessments and coaching. The LLDP integrates the best of mainstream leadership with the assets and lessons that come from the Latino culture and leadership.

You also have a program specifically aimed at Latinas. Could you give us a brief overview?
Latinos are the youngest population in America. To keep moving forward, leaders must prepare the next generation. This is the purpose of the Circle of Latina Leadership. Emerging leaders (25-40 years old) participate in a nine month community leadership program that builds their skills. Each participant works with a mentor to clarify what their contribution will be.
Latinas have always been the connectors and nurtures of family and community. By coming together, they can support one another’s journeys and build a network that benefits their communities and families.

What do you find the most rewarding about working as a coach?
I don’t do much individual coaching at this time. As a social worker I spent years coaching and assisting individuals and groups. I then moved to helping create organizations such as Mi Casa and NHLI that benefit more people and have continuity. The programs I design include coaching or mentoring as individual reflection and learning are key components of leadership development.
The most challenging?
Finding the right match for people is a challenge. We can learn from everyone, but there is a certain chemistry and connection that happens between folks that can really spark growth and development. Coaching is successful when both parties learn from each other.

What’s on the horizon for Juana Bordas?
Promoting The Power of Latino Leadership is numero uno. And if you are reading this you can help by buying the book. And Gracias!
People who read the book will understand that Latinos are a culture or ethnic group and not a race. Furthermore, Latinos are impeccably inclusive and can be Black, White, Brown, Indigenous, Mocha or Mestizo (mixed).
Because culture is learned, people can choose to “learn” or experience the culture. In my family, for instance, my sister’s husband, Karl has become a “Latino by affinity” or Corazon. He loves the extended familia, the music, food, and values such as celebration and generosity. I say if you are around Latinos long enough the rhythm is going to get you.
The Latino culture also has a bienvenido or welcoming spirit. We embrace people who want to share our values and way of life. My next book will be about becoming a Latino by Corazon. So stay tuned and get ready for the Latinization of America. We are all going to have a very good time!
This interview first appeared on Blogcritics
Follow the author’s virtual book tour!
Monday June 17 Condor Musings
Tuesday June 18 Hispanic New York
Wed June 19 Examiner
Thursday June 20 Latina Lista
Friday June 21 OC Gente
Monday June 24 L2L
Tuesday June 25 Latina Book Club
Wed June 26 Latina Geeks
Thurs June 27 Que Means What & Amigapreneur 
Friday June 28 Pa’lante Latino