Friday, February 27, 2015

Rendezvous in Baghdad by Ben Sheldon Book Feature - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!


Title: Rendezvous in Baghdad
Author: Ben Sheldon
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 208
Genre: Thriller
Format: Ebook
 Purchase at AMAZON

 As throngs of humanity pack Rome’s St. Peter’s Square, all await the news from the Sistine Chapel as to who will be the next Pope. But no one is more anxious than Iraqi American Sami Yusuf, for he and one of the papal candidates share a well-kept secret. When it is finally announced that Cardinal Paul Rogan has been elected Pope, Sami knows the one thing about Father Rogan that no one in the crowd does-he is a humble shepherd who molests his unsuspecting sheep. Many years earlier, while Sami was a Jesuit school student in Baghdad, he was molested by Father Rogan. Deathly afraid of revealing the abuse for fear of losing his family’s honor, Sami eventually emigrated to the United States and joined the Air Force. Meanwhile, Father Rogan slowly moved up in the Catholic Hierarchy-while quietly ruining one young boy’s life after another. Now amid sectarian mayhem and the occupation of Iraq, Sami must visit his ailing dad in Baghdad. But first he must fulfill his most important life’s mission-to cleanse the honor that Father Rogan stripped from his family. In this compelling tale that spans three continents, a vendetta drives an Iraqi American pilot into international dram that culminates with unexpected ramifications that change everything forever.

  amazon  

 Ben Sheldon lived in the Middle East, including Baghdad and Kurdistan, and attended college in Europe before settling in the San Francisco Bay area. He has worked as assistant editor for a national technical magazine and is the author of a novel and poetry book.

Ben is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins February 16 and ends on February 27.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, March 2.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Interview with Andrew Q. Gordon, author of The Last Grand Master - Win a Kindle Voyage!

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The last grand master Title: The Last Grand Master (Champion of the Gods #1)
Author: Andrew Q. Gordon
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pages: 350
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Paperback/Kindle

 In a war that shook the earth, the Six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For the three thousand years since, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity.

 But then a new wizard unleashes the power of Neldin. Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, uses dark magic to create an army of creatures to carry out his master's will.

 One by one, the sovereign realms fall. Soon the only wizard who can stop Meglar is Grand Master Farrell, the Prince of Haven, the hidden home of refugees. An untried wizard, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar-or it could destroy the world.

 While helping Nerti, queen of the unicorns, Farrell saves Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen to be Farrell's mate. But Farrell approaches love with caution, and before he can decide how to proceed, Meglar invades a neighboring kingdom. Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Farrell pushes himself to the limit as he and Miceral fight not only to stop Meglar but for their very survival.

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

A:  Thanks for having me. I've been writing since college, so more than twenty-five years. My first attempt at having my work published was in 2012 with (Un)Masked. I'm married, one child, and a dog. My day job is in law enforcement. 

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

A: Like so many millions of others, my first taste of high fantasy was reading The Lord of the Rings when I was thirteen. Since then I've always wanted to write my own fantasy series.  Then I read the Last Herald Mage series, by Mercedes Lackey and realized you could actually have gay main characters in your fantasy books. That set me down the path to write my own. 
The Last Grand Master is the first book in the Champion of the Gods series. The wizard king of Zargon, Meglar, plans to conquer the world, starting with the Seven Kingdoms of Ardus. His first step was to kill all the powerful wizards, leaving Farrell as the last grand master left in his way.  Book one follows Farrell as he assembles new allies to help him in the fight that has implications beyond Meglar's designs. 

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

A:  Playing god was the biggest. Creating a new 'world' with it's own set of rules proved harder than I expected. Finding a solution to one problem often created an inconsistency later in the story or ended up with contrived reasons why Farrell or others couldn't do the same thing in a similar situation.

Another obstacle was history, or better said the need to create history for my world. Why did this kingdom exist? What happened to that one? Did these events happen before?  Even though those 'stories' didn't make their way into the books, I needed to 'know' them in order to write the current story. I ended up writing a lot of scenes I knew I wouldn't put into the books just to have some back story to draw upon and keep the story consistent.


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

A:  I do not have an agent. Are they necessary? No, but I think having an agent would be extremely useful. Finding an agent that would be a good fit for me, however, takes time and effort. Thus far, I've not had enough free time to devote to that task. 

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A:  Yes, The Last Grand Master is book one of five.  The second book, The Eye and the Arm, is being released April 14, 2015. In addition, there is a free prequel, First Love, that DSP Publications released on January 27, 2015, that takes place about ten years before Champions takes place. It gives readers a glimpse of what Farrell was like before the war began.
  
Q: Thank you for your interview, Andrew.  Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A: My website is: www.andrewqgordon.com. You can find all my books, including buy links to various sellers at: http://andrewqgordon.com/my-books/.

Thanks for inviting me to stop by.  


Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting to the times, he now writes with a shiny new MacBook that he sets on the same desk as his manual typewriter and vintage adding machine. Long a fan of super heroes, wizards and sports, Andrew’s works include high fantasy, paranormal spirits, magic as well as contemporary fiction. He is still trying to find the perfect story that will include all his favorites under one cover. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his husband, their young daughter and dog.  In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and occasionally sleeping.

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Andrew is giving away a Kindle Voyage!

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one Kindle Voyage.
  • This giveaway begins February 10 and ends on February 27.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, March 2.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Love is the Essence of Time by Samuel Douglas Book Feature - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!


Title: Love is the Essence of Time
Author: Samuel Douglas
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 114
Genre: Family/Relationship
Format: Ebook
 Purchase at AMAZON

 This book is all about love as seen through the eyes of the author. Love Is the Essence of Time explores his deepest thoughts as he seeks to relate his understanding of the most powerful word on earth. He attempts to answer burning questions that affect everything that love touches. It is one of those books straight from the heart.

  amazon

 Samuel Douglas was born in the parish of St. Catherine, in Jamaica. His family relocated to the parish of Clarendon, closer to the center of the island, where he spent his childhood years. He enjoys playing football attending church and listening to gospel music. However his greatest joy is being around people and making them happy. His goal in life is to do whatever it takes to put smiles on the faces of all the people he meets, and to brighten their days. In fact, he wrote this book about love to do just that. Samuel now works in Canada, where he shows everyone he meets that a good smile is a sign of happiness, especially when it comes from the heart

Samuel is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins February 16 and ends on February 27.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, March 2.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Cover Reveal! Blood Stitches by Erin Fanning

Blood Stitches-highres Title: Blood Stitches
Author: Erin Fanning
Publisher: Kensington

 It's called El Toque de la Luna--The Touch of the Moon. At least that's how nineteen-year-old Gabby's older sister, Esperanza, refers to the magical powers she inherited from their Mayan ancestors. Esperanza says women with El Toque weave magic into their knitting, creating tapestries capable of saving--or devastating--the world. Gabby thinks Esperanza is more like touched in the head--until a man dressed like a candy corn arrives at their Seattle home on Halloween. But "Mr. C" is far from sweet...

 Soon, Gabby and her almost-more-than-friend, Frank, find themselves spirited away to a demon ball, complete with shape shifters--and on a mission to destroy Esperanza's tapestries before they cause an apocalyptic disaster... And before it's too late to confess their true feelings for each other. 

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  • Blood Stitches is available at Amazon
Erin Fanning  Erin Fanning spends her summers on a remote Michigan lake, where her imagination explores the water and dense forest for undiscovered creatures. In the winter, she migrates to central Idaho, exchanging mountain bikes and kayaks for skis and snowshoes. She's the author of the "Curse of Blackhawk Bay" (Sam's Dot Publishing, 2008), "Mountain Biking Michigan" (Globe Pequot Press, 2002), and numerous short stories, essays, and articles.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Interview with Kevin D. Patterson, author of Small, Dark, and Handsome

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Small Dark and Handsome Title: Small, Dark, and Handsome
Author: Kevin D. Patterson
Publisher: Dark Peak Publishing
Pages: 270
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Ethan Anderson desperately wants to find his soulmate and he’s convinced that his height of 5'6" is limiting his options. Not wanting to end up like his friends with shallow lives filled with clubs and one-night stands, Ethan turns to a popular dating website where he connects with Anna Collins, a born-again Christian who just may be the woman he’s been looking for. But, when she’s ready for a committed relationship, will Ethan be able to ignore his friends, abide by Anna’s celibate lifestyle, and look beyond her five-inch height advantage to see a future with her before she gives up and moves on?

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

A: Thanks for allowing me to connect with your readers! I've spent over 15 years writing marketing materials to help organizations sell their products and services. Most of my experience has been with Silicon Valley-based software companies, and although I really enjoyed these roles, it was sometimes hard for me to feel passionate about some of the products that were geared towards technical audiences. A few years ago, my wife and I had a chance to live and work in Hyderabad, India for two years, which was a life-changing experience. When we returned, I wasn't certain what I was going to do next, but I knew that I wanted to work on a unique and fulfilling project that would bring me a great sense of pride and passion each day. When my wife suggested that I focus on my first novel instead of rushing back into Corporate America, I gave her a big fat kiss, went straight for my laptop, and didn't stop typing until I had banged out my first draft of Small, Dark, and Handsome.

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

A: Small, Dark, and Handsome is a romantic comedy about Ethan Anderson, a guy who desperately wants to find his soulmate. Historically, he hasn't had much luck with love, and at 5'6", he’s always felt that his height (or lack thereof) has limited his options. He knows that he doesn't want to end up like his friends who are obsessed with clubs and one-night stands, so Ethan takes a different path and tries out online dating. Eventually, through a popular dating site, he connects with Anna Collins, a born-again Christian who just may be the woman he’s been looking for. But, when it's time for a commitment, Ethan has to decide if he can resist his misguided friends, abide by Anna’s celibate lifestyle, and look beyond her five-inch height advantage to see a future with her before she gives up and moves on. Why did I write it? Well, in the past, I spent a lot of time observing social interactions, and I always wondered what kind of impact height played in dating opportunities for both sexes. That was my initial focus for this story, but I eventually realized that I also wanted to address some other challenges that people commonly face in their search for a soulmate.  


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

A:  Creating a good balance between comedy and romance was very difficult. At first, I gravitated much more towards comedy, incorporating as many jokes and humorous scenes as I could stuff into each page. Later, I realized that some of the material wasn't that funny, didn't fit well into the story, and made it hard for the reader to take the main character (and the author) seriously. I also had to get over my tendency to tell too much of the story from the main character's point of view, instead of showing how things played out through dialogue between characters. Overall, I'd say my biggest challenge of all was the editing process. I did work with a professional editor who was excellent, but I had no idea that the process would take so long. Coming into the editing phase, I expected it to be finished within a few weeks, but six months later, we were still going at it. When we finally finished, I was definitely pleased with the final product. I had also developed a new-found appreciation for authors, especially those who are able to crank out high quality stories on a regular basis.     

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:  Yes. It contains everything you need to know about me and my novel in one place, including the synopsis, book specs, author bio, images, fan pages/contact info, my interviews and guest blog posts, and a link to an excerpt (Chapter 1). The online press kit can be accessed here: http://goo.gl/naN5iM

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 haven't had any speaking opportunities yet; however, I'm about to wrap up my first virtual blog tour which has helped to generate some exposure for my novel and for me as an author. Later this year, I also plan to exhibit at some book conferences for the first time, and going forward, I'll continue to reach out to audiences through as many different platforms as I can. 

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

A:  I published this first novel through my own publishing company, Dark Peak Publishing, LLC. Prior to going the self-publishing route, I did do some research about whether or not to use an agent, but in the end, I decided against it, primarily because I wanted to get my book out there and didn't want to wait months on someone else to decide its fate. That said, I am open to the possibility of working with an agent on future projects because I've seen how their connections and resources can really make a difference, especially in the launch and initial promotion of a novel.

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: As I first-time author, I had a general marketing plan, but the initial launch activities focused more on word-of-mouth efforts as opposed to incorporating press or media-related initiatives. Now that I know just enough to be dangerous, you can expect the marketing plans for all of my future titles to have an intense up-front media blitz, including pre-release events, interviews, and press releases.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A:  Definitely. In fact, I just started working on my next book and it will be another romantic comedy. I can't say much about it yet, but it involves social media, virtual relationships, and the often overbearing role that they play in many of our lives.
  
Q: Thank you for your interview, Kevin.  Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A: My book is available at leading book retailers, including Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble. You can find me on the web via the links below, and you can contact me directly at kevin@darkpeakpublishing.com. Thanks again for this great opportunity to share my story with your readers!

Website: www.kevindpatterson.com
Twitter:@kpztweets
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorkevindpatterson






Kevin PattersonKevin D. Patterson is an experienced marketing writer and has developed communications for many of today's leading brands, including HP, American Express, Oracle, and Deloitte. After much encouragement from friends and family, he decided to pursue his passion for creative writing, and the end result was his debut fiction novel, Small, Dark, and Handsome. Kevin was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and has also lived in Michigan, New York, and overseas in India. He currently lives in Plano, Texas with his wife and son. A graduate of the University of Michigan’s MBA program, Kevin is an avid sports fan and tennis player. You can keep up with Kevin and his upcoming projects at www.kevindpatterson.com

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Guest post: "Never Sit on the Stool" by Robert Lane

Her eyes did me in. Feel them to this day.
 That’s why, while I’d much rather type about writing—that creative throbbing pulse that renders my daily dose of ecstasy—I’ll strike the keys for promotion. Someone’s got to do it.
Warning: If you’re expecting your thirty-ninth article in five days on how to build a platform, Amazons latest algorithms, or why your career is destined for comatose-city unless social media is your new religion—save your time. Punch out now. I offer no magic bullet—just a metaphorical frame of mind.
Ever go to one of those weekend art shows where they close off the streets and a few dozen—or a few hundred—artist show up, man their tents, sit on their stools, and pray an open wallet takes notice of their heart’s labor?
You can imagine the herculean effort that goes into the production of their life’s calling. The earrings/paintings/pottery/sculpture, crap you don’t even know what it is. Ever consider the travel time and time away from home? To do what? Slump on a stool all day—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday? Pittsburg in May. Indy in June. Tampa, Orlando, and Naples squeezed in some winter months. Stick to the ones close to home; but you heard St. Louis was buying, big money there last year. Better give it a try. But they’ll all the same. Cost more money for travel and hotel than you make.
            And you sit. And sit. And sit. Waiting for someone to notice.
            Yikes.
            I admire their effort. I applaud their dedication. Feel their sacrifice. Appreciate their work. Occasionally even cart home their wares—but really, there’s no place any more for all the stuff. One of them, (‘them,’ as if they have no names and are not real) haunts me to this day. Perched on her stool like a quarter moon, surrounded by her hand-made Christmas ornament-sized glass globes. (Zillions of the damn things, reflecting the blue sky like they were oblivious to their creator’s plight. How can something your heart creates be so cold?) Enough that she’d likely go a year without blowing a new one. But that’s what she likes to do, right, create glass globes? No one ever created a glass globe because they were in the mood to promote it.
No one ever wrote a book because they wanted to spend time and money advertising it.
            This is where the eyes come in.
 My lady, surrounded by her globes, had that thousand-yard stare. Haunting. Lost. She was gonzo. Checked out. Disillusioned you want to add? That’s a soft-gel word. This dame was toast.
            Jesse Livermore, a famous Wall Street trader from the first part of the twentieth century, said no one can tell you how to get rich. If they could, everyone would be rich. A country of three hundred million Bill Gates scurrying around. Who’d make the hotel beds, deliver the babies, teach the children? Doesn’t work that way. Jesse hit the old nail on the head. You need to figure it out on your own. 
            No one can tell you how to successfully promote a book. If they could, we’d all be little James Patterson’s, selling tens of millions of books. Impossible. (Patterson, for those of you in the dark, ran the North American branch of J. Walter Thompson, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. Yes, the world’s top selling author is a Mad Man to the core. If you didn’t know this, you’ve got to start reading the program notes.)
            I have no key, no advice as to how to promote or what works. I write the best story I can and then I tweet, Facebook, polish my web page, run ads, solicit reviews, make contacts—write another best book I can—tweak the tweets, fix the Facebook page, work on the web site, seek more raving reviews, run more ads, forge more contacts—write a book better than I thought I could—and then I…
            You got it. Do what you know. Do what you don’t know. Get out of your comfort zone. Make mistakes. If you don’t, you’re killing yourself. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but here’s the best advice I can give and it follows a personal mantra: you are defined as much by what you don’t do as by what you do.
            Never sit on the stool. 
            No. I didn’t buy a globe that day. Yes, that bothers me.
/////////////////////////////////
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: COOLER THAN BLOOD
Genre: Mystery
Author: Robert Lane
Website: www.robertlanebooks.com
Publisher: Mason Alley
Purchase on Amazon

18-year-old Jenny Spencer is missing after a violent nighttime encounter on a Florida beach. Jenny’s aunt, Susan Blake, asks wisecracking PI Jake Travis to investigate.

Susan and Jake had only spent one dinner together, but both felt an instant, overpowering attraction. Jake walked away.  After all, he was—and is—committed to Kathleen.  But having Susan in his life again could be dangerous:   dangerous in more ways than one.

As Jake and his partner, Garrett Demarcus, close in on finding Jenny, they uncover a shocking secret in Kathleen’s past.  Even more shocking is that Kathleen and Jenny’s life are strangely intertwined. 

For Jake, this case may hit way too close to home—and what started as a race to find Jenny could become a fight to protect Kathleen.

As the case heats up and the danger escalates, Jake is forced to examine his moral boundaries.  How far is he willing to go for the woman he loves?   At what cost?  And what about that question that has dogged him since the beginning of the case: was there another person on the beach that night?

//////////////////////////

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Robert Lane resides on Florida’s west coast.  He is also the author of The Second Letter.



           


            

Monday, February 23, 2015

Interview with Tamara Branch, author of 'ITGIRL4LIFE' & Win $25 iTunes Gift Card!



Tamara Branch is from New York, born and raised in the Bronx. She is thrilled to share her first book release, ITGIRL4LIFE, kicking off the ITGIRL4LIFE self-esteem movement to empower girls to stand up, stand out and shine bright in the world.

Tamara has worked as a professional model and actor for almost two decades. She strutted down the runway for designers Calvin Klein, Donna Karen and Christian Dior, acted in a few independent films, co-hosted PBS New York’s education series, “What’s up in Technology” and appeared T.V. commercials and print ads for Levi’s, Old Navy, Hershey’s, Colgate, Kellogg’s Special K, Revlon, Hanes, Nike and many others. A Penn State alumnus and lifelong student of personal development, Tamara is deeply passionate about uplifting the human spirit.

After graduating from Institute for Integrative Nutrition, studying under Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil and some of the top health and wellness experts in the world, she was inspired to raise the bar on her own ‘self care’ and support others in living more vibrantly. She is an abstract artist and teaches a dynamic dance class, where she gets to fuse her varied background, having trained in everything from jazz, ballet and modern to Afro-Caribbean and Salsa.

Tamara was recently asked to become a Female Visionary Author guest blogger for The Brave Heart Women Global Community.  She's a SAG/AFTRA member since 1998, a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is represented by Abrams Artists Agency.

Tamara currently lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband of seven years and offers ITGIRL4LIFE workshops to assist girls on their self empowerment journey.
Her latest book is the YA/self-esteem book, ITGIRL4LIFE.

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About the Book:

Title: ITGIRL4LIFE
Author: Tamara Branch
Publisher: Heart Project Publishing
Pages: 98
Genre: YA/Self-Esteem
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Writer, artist and speaker, Tamara Branch serves up 40 bite-sized chapters on how to build unshakable self-confidence, honor your life, and shine bright in the world, in ITGIRL4LIFE: How to bring out your special something and so much more. Packed with sage advice, life-changing insights and affirmations to help you soar, ITGIRL4LIFE offers ideas, tools and principles that you can reference and build upon, supporting you in becoming your best. Get ready to fall in love with your own wisdom, beauty and strength.

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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?

Tamara: I wanted to write a Young Adult book that was packed with the simple yet profound, most important ideas and principles that help you stand tall, while you create the life you desire. I wanted to celebrate the brilliant potential of girls. I wanted to contribute to the self-esteem conversation. When I first got the idea to write ITGIRL4LIFE: How to bring out your special something and so much more, I thought of my own insecurities when I was a teen and what helped me to overcome them. I thought about what I learned from my mistakes, life lessons, experiences, personal study and my life’s exploration. I thought about the not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, tall enough, thin enough epidemic in our society, the media’s influence on how girl’s feel about themselves, the effects of low self-esteem and how it can lead to destructive behaviors, the weight girls carry of other people’s opinions and judgements and the pressure on girls and women to look, act and be a certain way. I wanted to write a book that would help girls tap into their own wisdom, beauty and strength, cultivate genuine self-love inside and out, and build an inner support for themselves that would guide them on their path.

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?

Tamara: It was hard and it took a long time before it became the book I wanted it to be. I’m a recovering perfectionist. My biggest challenge was that when I started I didn’t have a writing discipline. It took a good long minute to develop the habit and commit to writing daily. I wanted to write a foundation for living an empowered life that was concise, straight-forward, and easily understood. I wrote tons of pages and then carved out the book from the stacks. Not easy but that was my process. Here are some tips that may be helpful to writers starting out. Schedule time to write everyday. Disciple is key. Know your target audience. Be clear about your core message/theme. Work from a strong outline. Celebrate every time you finish a chapter. Stay inspired. Your passion will get you to the finish line.

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

Tamara: I chose to self-publish because I wanted to learn the business side of publishing and keep design, editing, and material within my control. I also wanted to avoid the long waiting period in pursuing a book deal.There are pro’s and cons to traditional publishing and self-publishing. You have to research both to determine what’s best for you.

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

Tamara: After coming down off the high of becoming an author, I quickly realized that the real work was just beginning. Once you get your book out there, it hits you (there in lies the surprise), that nobody in the Universe knows about it and it’s your job now to create awareness and a platform to market it and that’s an everyday job. My goal for ITGIRL4LIFE is to get this book in the hands of millions of girls globally. I have my work cut out for me.

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

Tamara: I am working on my second book now. It will be published in the fall of 2015 and focuses on how to lift yourself out of negative emotional states. The third book comes out in the Spring of 2016 is all about accepting and loving your body and tackles that issue in a fun and enlightening way.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

Tamara: Trying to cut back but I’d have to say Facebook because a lot of my friends and family are on there.

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

Tamara: The message is when you embrace empowering ideas, tools, practices and principles, you create an inner support for yourself and that’s how you create lasting self-esteem and confidence. It is your foundation that keeps you standing and that’s what I wanted to share in this book. Of course like in all areas of life, you expand, you grow but principle does not change. When you establish a strong foundation, it becomes the underpinnings of who you are. There is a reality that hits you as you get older and that is that your life is up to you. What you believe about yourself is everything. When you believe that you are a person of value, extraordinary, beautiful, capable, smart, talented and important, you walk into the room differently, you act differently and you make decisions from a secure and confident place. You have to build yourself up, know who you really are and what you are capable of and do the work to move yourself and your life forward. You never outgrow the need for encouragement. We can all use a self-esteem boost, at times. ITGIRL4LIFE’S message is that loving yourself and empowering yourself comes first and out of that, you can create anything.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Tamara: It was my pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity. This book kicks off the ITGIRL4LIFE self-esteem movement empowering girls to stand up, stand out and shine bright in the world. It’s a mission close to my heart. All information regarding workshops and other related activities for ITGIRL4LIFE can be found on my website at www.tamarabranch.com.
 


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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Guest post by Nicole Weaver, author of 'Not All Americans Are Racist'

Writing is fun.  I have learned the best way to get better at writing is for you to read a ton of books, and to write every day.  As for ideas, I live life and the ideas come to me. I usually write the thoughts that come my way in the note section of my phone.  I know it is a good idea, if the words flow easily from my mind.  When I sit down to write a manuscript I can usually tell right away if  I have enough to actually write an entire book, for instance, when I started writing Not All Americans Are Racist, I was able to write 1,500 words in one hour. The thoughts kept coming and I continued to write until I was done. The same is true for my next book.  I have already written 10,000 words. I got the idea while driving to work and that night I sat down and wrote a couple chapters.

About the book:
In Not All Americans Are Racist, Nicole Weaver recounts her experiences with racial discrimination and the non-racist white individuals who made it possible for her to attend and finish college. As an immigrant from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, she is thankful for the opportunities America has offered her.
About the author:
nicole
Nicole weaver is an award-winning author. Her first trilingual book Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle was published in 2009. Her love for languages and other cultures resulted in publishing the award-winning book, My Sister Is My Best Friend which was published in 2011 by Guardian Angel Publishing and has won numerous awards.
My Brother Is My Best Friend, published by Guardian Angel Publishing, January 2014, earned the 2014 Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval, and the 2014 Children’s Literary Classics Gold Award. The book also earned a bronze medal in 2014 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Guest post: "WRITING NAKED" by John Herrick

I write naked. As often as possible.

With a naked heart, that is.

When my first novel hit shelves and I read its initial feedback, I learned readers are savvy. They read between the lines and uncover nuggets. On occasion, they will discover things you, the writer, didn’t even know existed in your story!

Before I tell my protagonists’ stories, I create their biographies and conduct interviews with them. I dig into their psyches and draw up memories from their childhoods. I get to know them as individuals. You and I respond to circumstances based on our backgrounds and past experiences. Our perceptions drive much of what we do. Characters behave the same way. Some of my protagonists’ biographical details appear in my novels; others guide my protagonists as they make decisions, but are not explained on the page.

So my readers surprised me when they identified traits that appeared in my planning materials but never appeared word-for-word on the pages. I learned I could plant little details for my readers to discover.

I have a strong analytical side. Because my natural inclination is to explain the why behind the what, I needed to develop a trust in my readers. Flat-out explanations are not always necessary. Readers recognize symbolism. They possess the ability to recognize synapses and close the gaps. They enjoy closing those gaps.

They also recognize when an author “phones it in.” They can tell when the framework exists but the characters lack souls.

In other words, readers possess radar for insincerity. Likewise, they detect genuine words that come from the heart.

Which brings me back to the writing naked thing.

Readers want to escape into our characters’ worlds. They want to understand the character, to feel what he or she feels. They want the author to lead them into the deepest, darkest recesses of that character’s mind and heart. They want to know the secrets that lurk within his or her soul.

As a novelist, I believe in establishing a contract with my readers:  If you’re willing to invest your time with my characters, I’m willing to invest my heart in telling their stories.

The only way I can expose a character that way is to peel back the layers of my heart and make myself vulnerable. That means dropping my guard, releasing the fears of how I will look or whether readers will suspect my novels are autobiographical. If I want my readers to get lost in my novels, I need to get lost in those novels as I write. I need to write with a naked heart.

My latest novel, Between These Walls, provides an excellent example. Its protagonist, Hunter Carlisle, is a Christian. He’s also gay. That second characteristic marks his biggest secret and his wellspring of torment since childhood. Between These Walls captures his journey as he reconciles his sexual identity in light of his faith. In order to expose Hunter’s fears, insecurities and joys, I needed to quiet myself as a writer and let my heart beat in time with Hunter’s. From my soul, I needed to take up residence in his heart and observe him in his secret moments. When Hunter spent time worshipping God, I captured his gratitude. When he wondered whether one mistake could lead him to hell, I captured his mental image of writhing in isolation. And when his sexual urges took root in his solitary moments, I captured the desire, the gritty fight, and the exhaustion he endured, moment by moment.

I challenged myself to write in a fearless manner. No doubt, various individuals will question my motives in writing the book. They will wonder if any of the novel’s events occurred in my personal life. And I won’t have an opportunity to respond. But I’m a writer. I have a job to do.

If we aim to connect our hearts to those of our readers, writing will involve sacrifice. It requires us to reject any fear of what others might think. It means stepping into territory that makes us uncomfortable, revealing things we would never incorporate into an ordinary conversation.

In other words, writing naked.

###


John Herrick is the author of From the Dead and 8 Reasons Your Life Matters. A graduate of the University of Missouri—Columbia, readers turn to him as a chronicler of spiritual journey and the human heart. Herrick lives in St. Louis.

John’s latest novel is Between These Walls.

For more information on John:
·       Visit his website at www.JohnHerrick.net
·       Read his blog at johnherricknet.blogspot.com
·       Find him at Facebook and Twitter



Monday, February 16, 2015

Interview with Victor Nieves, author of Epitaph: Reveille



Victor Nieves lives in West Virginia. He enjoys writing, reading, and is a huge horror movie fan, zombies in particular. At the young age of twenty-one, he found a way to communicate his ideas and imagination with others through writing, which he plans on doing for the rest of his life.

His latest book is the sci-fi, Epitaph: Reveille.
For More Information
About the Book:

In year 2343, the galaxy receives a deadly wake-up call...

Nearly three-hundred years have passed since humanity ascended to the stars, joining with a conglomeration of alien races all living under the rule of a single, united community - the United Galactic Coalition - a joint, multi-species alliance that upholds the principles of democracy, freedom, and equality for all races.

The Milky Way Galaxy's future looks bright ...

Until a research team uncovers a mysterious crystal buried deep beneath the surface of a frontier world on the edge of settled space. This discovery proves to be the catalyst for an invasion from an unknown alien force that is just as ruthless as they are mysterious.

As the races of the galaxy are catapulted into a vicious fight for their very survival, fate hastily throws together a legendary admiral with a dark past, a brilliant scientist with precious little time to find the answers, an elite Special Forces Operative who must come to terms with a past failure, a spunky young military officer for whom this war is a baptism by fire, and a top notch Marine who will discover a truth that will define him as a hero.

These five men and women hold not only the keys to their own survival, but the survival of their entire civilization. With the clock ticking, the race to uncover the truth begins. As they try to fend off this cruel and merciless alien foe, this handful of soldiers must discover what secrets this crystal could hold that would be worth the destruction of all life in the galaxy. But the question is ...

... Can they do it in time?

For More Information

  • Epitaph: Reveille is available at Amazon.
  • Watch the book trailer at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

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?

Thank you for having me! Where did I come up with the idea to write Epitaph: Reveille? I’ve always loved science fiction and fantasy. As a kid, my friends and I were constantly creating these elaborate make-believe games with insanely detailed plots. We had so much fun together. As I got older, I realized I wanted to continue share my imagination with other but I knew I needed a different venue, because playing make-believe in the yard with your friends is only socially acceptable for so long. When I discovered that writing a novel would be the perfect medium to do that, I jumped on it.


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?

One of the hardest things for me in writing a military/science-fiction novel was constructing a believable military system that would fit in with my universe. I also had trouble with character development, like making sure a character was far enough along in their development to be ready for the situations I was going to put them in and ensuring that they would conduct themselves in a believable manner in keeping with their past experiences. With constructing your own universe, such as a military system, I didn’t just look into my country’s military doctrine’s and policies but as many nations as I could, so that way I was able to get a good idea of how different militaries operate, and then I invented my own system from what I’d learned. For character development, something that really helped me was observing people; their mannerisms, their habits, which gave me insight into how people might behave. When you write military/science-fiction, though you’re given a ton of leeway, there is still an expectation to maintain a certain amount of believability. Say for instance, you’re researching the mechanics of a mass accelerator. Understand how a mass accelerator works so that you know how to appropriately incorporate that kind of technology into your book.


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

My plan was to self-publish, but I had no idea where to begin. I saw an ad in the local newspaper about a publishing workshop, so I elected to attend. There, I met the instructor, Lauren Carr, who is the founder of Acorn Book Services. Lauren and her company help independent authors self-publish and they assisted me through the entire process. Her knowledge and expertise was invaluable and I learned so much. I’m very fortunate to have received her help, and she has served as an excellent mentor.


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

Yes, actually! When I signed my contract, I couldn’t have been happier; couldn’t have been prouder of myself. But when I finally held the finished printed copy of my book in my hands for the first time … I realized that I’d had no idea of what being proud of myself felt like. It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment.


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

Well, right now, I’m in the process of finishing book 2 in the Epitaph trilogy, titled Epitaph: Defiance. I’ve got quite a while to go, yet. I ran into some health problems a few months ago that kept me from writing for quite a bit, but now I’m back on track and I’m working vigorously to complete the next adventure in Epitaph! As it stands now, a release date in the first quarter of 2016 looks like where we’re headed! As for other novels? I do have another series in the works, the first novel of which could possibly be published shortly after the final book in the Epitaph trilogy. But that’s top secret, for now! However, I have been known to drop a few hints and tidbits of dialogue on Twitter once in a while, so if you really want to know more go there and follow me!


Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

My favorite place to hang out online? Oh, man. That’s a hard question in that I don’t feel like I could give you just one! I love everything fantasy and scifi, so very often I find myself on websites pertaining to anything about the Lord of the Rings, Halo, The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, the Honorverse, it literally is endless. I really enjoy reading about creativity, but what I find most interesting is what events or situations inspired, say, J.R.R Tolkien to create such a vast and incredibly beautiful world like Middle-Earth, or what light went off in David Weber’s brain that led him to birth the iconic and immensely deep character of Honor Harrington? Discovering those things truly has helped me in my own works. From their ideas and their work, I find inspiration and can then forge my worlds, give life to my characters, and ultimately decide how the fate of both world and character will be linked. It’s very exciting!


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

In Epitaph: Reveille, I really strove to impress upon my readers how the worst possible situations life can thrust at us can also bind us together with the best friends we’ll ever encounter. Bonds formed through mutual struggle are often the strongest you’ll ever forge.

  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Of course! Thank you, as well! I’ve enjoyed this interview! Final words? I do. Always believe in yourself. If you can dream it, you can do it. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re incapable of achieving your goal. I was told that quite a few times. And now look. I’m a published author that just gave his first interview.