Monday, February 27, 2017

The Writing Life with Mystery Author Tom Carter

Bestselling author Tom Carter is a longtime Nashville who lives with his wife, Janie, a few miles from Nashville’s legendary Music Row. 

Connect with the author on the Web:

What got you into writing?

Necessity.  In November, 1970 I was a college student and
construction worker in Tulsa, Oklahoma where my job was
ending for the year due to cold and wintery weather.  I went to my college counselor seeking employment leads.  I was told The Tulsa
World, the morning newspaper, needed someone to write
obituaries.  I took the job.  For two and one-half years I wrote
formula stories about dead people.  Eventually I became a general
assignment reporter, and ultimately became a human interest
columnist.  Seventeen years later, I moved to Nashville,
Tennessee where I collaborated to write the autobiography of
blind singer, Ronnie Milsap.  since then, I’ve written eighteen
more books.

What do you like best about being an author?

I like the freedom inherent from ideas through free association. 
I like the fulfillment when my writing is my best, and hope
people will like it.  I like working on my own.

When do you hate it?

When I have writer's block.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

If it involves non-fiction, I digest all of the facts I intend to
weave into sentences that day.  If it involves fiction, I read
what I wrote the previous day, then kick my imagination into
creative overdrive.

Do you think authors have big egos?

Yes, especially if they're commercially successful.

How do you handle negative reviews.

I note that the reviewer has comprised a short and disposable small
notice.  I, on the other hand, have written an entire book that
will last throughout the ages.  And if my work is so bad, why did
he or she even bother profess their opinion?  Then I remember that Ernest
Hemingway wrote wordy sentences that sometimes consumed entire
paragraphs.  He also had difficulty spelling four-letter words.

How do you handle positive reviews.

In the words of Billy Crystal, “I've tricked the critics once

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance
that you're an author?

"My, your life must be so interesting," they usually say.

What do you do on those days when you don't feel like
writing?  Do you force it or take a break.

I force it.  Soon, I'm right back in a creative groove.

What would you do if people around you didn't take your
writing seriously or see it as a hobby.

Most everyone does that now.  Many think that professional
writing is a lazy person's way to avoid work.  Others see it as a
lark where the author is luckily paid for simply letting his
fingers tickle a typing keyboard.  Only dedicated writers know
how truly demanding writing can be.  If writing were easy, most
people would be doing it.  If for no other reason, they'd escape
driving to and from an office where their anonymity is beaten
inside cubicles beneath hot and harsh fluorescent lights.

What's on the horizon for you?

The writing of my 20th book.

Leave us with some words of wisdom about the writing process
or about being a writer.

Find your creative versus commercial groove, and ignore

assessments like mine or anyone else's.

Interview with O. Jermaine Simmons, author of I Need a Man

Inside the Book

Title: I Need A Man
Author: O. Jermaine Simmons
Publisher: Certa Publishing
Pages: 116
Genre: Religion & Spirituality
In today’s world, there is a real need for men to engage in honest dialogue regarding their struggles and triumphs in life. While there are many definitions of manhood, both sacred and secular, many men find it difficult to apply those truths to their daily lives.
“I need a Man” offers a fresh perspective on the issues of godly manhood and mentoring. Using the Holy Scriptures as a foundation, you will discover why every man needs a godly man in his life and how each man can reach back and become a mentor himself. Indeed, God can use the struggles of one man to strengthen another.
Be prepared to be challenged and empowered! Learn how you can thrive in life, not just merely pass through it.




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

A:  I am a pastor of 11 years and a former classroom educator. I have a wonderful wife of 15 years and a 12-year old son whom we both adore. I have been writing for over 18 years. But my first book was just published in 2016. 

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

A: This book was inspired by a sermon I preached in 2013. It focused on the idea that every man needs a man, mentoring and modeling. It explores biblical principles for manhood, not manipulated by today’s culture. When I received so much positive feedback from the message, I knew then that it needed to be shared all over the world. I wrote it to inspire men and to help us understand our true assignment in the family, the community, and the Church. 

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

A: The biggest challenge was to sit down and write! I was afraid of being critiqued or criticized for my strong biblical viewpoint. Once you put your words in print, you are subject to everything from internet trolls to random strangers who may not agree with you. I got over that fear when I realized that I was being critiqued anyway by those who hear my sermons every week. But ultimately, if God gave me the message, I have to be obedient, and as Dr. Charles Stanley says, “leave the consequences up to Him.” 

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: It includes a bio, pictures, videos, speaking request forms, and links to purchase the book from my publisher and many other outlets. 

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 have spoken to congregations nation-wide about this book. Everywhere I am invited to preach, I have been allowed to share and encourage others to read it. Locally, I have spoken on radio interviews about the book. My goal is to reach the talk show and lecture circuit in order to spread this message to as many people as possible. As the book gets more exposure, I hope engage different groups in panel discussions about manhood, fatherhood, community accountability, and men’s ministry. I would also like to share this book with athletic programs all over the nation. There is a missing piece, I believe, with the mentoring of young men in athletics and professional sports.  

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: My agent is Jennifer Smothers with Certa Publishing. I believe an agent can be very helpful, especially when they know your goal and can see the value in your message. She works hard for me because she and Certa believe in my voice as an author.  

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: The media blitz involved print materials, videos, and a personal web site to promote this book’s release.   

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A:  Yes. My next two books are already in the works! I want to release one every other year. Unless the demand for more content becomes overwhelming. Then we may release new books sooner.
Q: Thank you for your interview, Jermaine. 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 ….. The book can be purchased on Certa Publishing’s site, Amazon, Kindle, iBooks, and many other outlets for immediate reading! 

Meet the Author

A fourth generation preacher and pastor, Rev. O. Jermaine Simmons, Sr. was born in the great state of Georgia to the Rev. Dr. Perry and Elaine Griffin Simmons. He was raised in city of Newark, New Jersey, where his father served and still serves as pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church. At a very early age, the Lord revealed a musical gift which led to many years of service as a church musician, choir director, and even a jazz band trumpeter. These gifts and talents would prove to be the “glue” that would keep this young man connected and active in the Church.
After graduating from high school, Rev. Simmons entered Morris Brown College declaring a major of Early Childhood Education. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in the Spring of 2001. During his years at Morris Brown, he served as the Gospel Choir Director as well as a student-leader in the Campus Ministry department.
In March of 1999, the call to preach the Gospel was extended and accepted. Soon thereafter, Rev. Simmons was licensed by the Abyssinian Church and received further training at the Antioch Baptist Church North in Atlanta, Georgia. During his time at Antioch, Rev. Simmons was trained under the guidance and discipline of the Rev. Dr. Cameron M. Alexander. He was ordained to further carry out the work of the ministry in April of 2004. Even now, the training he received at Antioch has guided him through the work of the ministry and community outreach.
From 2001-2004, Rev. Simmons served in the Atlanta Public School system as a fourth and fifth grade teacher at the Walter F. White Elementary school. His love for education is rooted in three previous generations of teachers in both his paternal and maternal bloodlines. He has received numerous awards from various educational organizations for his tireless commitment to teachers, parents, and students alike.
In August of 2004, Rev. Simmons relocated to the city of Tallahassee, Florida where he served as the Youth and Collegiate Director for the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. During this time, he received further guidance and training under the leadership of Rev. Dr. R.B. Holmes, Jr.
Only the Lord knew what lay in store for his servant, as his next transition was only two miles away from his previous assignment. In December of 2005, it was laid upon the heart of the Jacob Chapel Baptist Church family to call Rev. Simmons as their ninth Pastor. Standing on the broad shoulders of eight great men, the relationship between Pastor and members has proven to be a very fruitful one.
Since his arrival at Jacob Chapel, over 4000 souls have been added to the Body of Christ and the local church. Twenty Seven (27) ministries have been implemented, all of which are rooted in the motto of “Doctrine, Stewardship, Fellowship, and Evangelism”. Pastor Simmons firmly believes that we were all “saved to serve”. Therefore, the message and the ministry encourage all who attend to “get right, get in, and get active”…
Under Pastor Simmons’ leadership, Jacob Chapel has literally fed the hungry, clothed the naked, ministered to those in prisons, and built houses for those without shelter. It is the message of the Cross, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ from the grave which continues to fuel the fire that burns within this passionate preacher and teacher.
He has been blessed to carry this message to communities and to people all over this nation. But his greatest joy is in knowing that he has reached “the least of these”, and provided hope for all who encounter his compassionate personality and heart-felt presentation. No matter where he is assigned to preach, Pastor Simmons has not wavered from delivering the Good News about “One Friday…”
Aside from being a Pastor, community leader, and dedicated Kingdom worker, Rev. O. Jermaine Simmons, Sr. is the proud husband of Mrs. Elise A. Simmons, and father of one son, Orinthius Jermaine Simmons, Jr. In lieu of the many accomplishments and awards that Pastor Simmons has received through the years, it will always be undergirded by his love for the Lord and for his family.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Talking Books with Alba Lewis, author of 'A Shaman in Kensington Square'

Alba Lewis was clear she wanted to be a writer at the age of 13 as she smoked cigarettes in the cubicles with her friends.  It took her 20 years to start writing and so far she has published seven books, two fiction and five annual factual books on life.  Committed to an interesting life, despite the paradoxes, Alba continues to write, work with not for profits, and support others to take their creative spirit and get it out into the world via her mentoring programmes.  'We live in a world where a creative resource is paramount to solving problems and having an expansive life".



About the Book:

Author: Alba Lewis
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 191
Genre: Women’s Fiction
This is a story about a mouse, an eagle, a shaman, Sarah who’s run away to London from her husband leaving her children, Janet who’s been loyally married to Roger for decades and wants to stand by her husband but has fallen for the charms of a much younger man, and Doug who frequents back room bars whilst holding down a important job. But all their lives change as the energy of the shaman comes to stir things up.



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?

A Shaman In Kensington Square came about after my sister had been on a shamanic course somewhere in South America and came back with the story of ‘jumping mouse’.  She told it at some gathering we went to and I was captured by it.  It was still swirling around in my head a decade later when I went to write my first novel and I wondered if I could tell the story of the mouse along side a real time story set in London.

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?

That’s a great question. I think the biggest would have to be that you cannot write and be your own critic as you write.  You need to get your story down and then leave it a while and then re read it. You have to separate the different roles you are going to play to get the book written, edited, marketed and sold.

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

I started my own publishing company, so I self-published.  The main reason for this is I did go and meet with an agent and though she said she liked the book she wanted me to change quite a bit to one of the main characters.  I left the meeting very happy to have had the chance to talk to a professional in the sales arena, but also I really wanted to use writing as my voice, so, rightly or wrongly I wanted to keep that voice mine all the way.  To do that needed me to self publish.

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

It’s quite something to see your book available to buy by strangers.  The journey is hard, and deep and emotional to write a book, but the day it goes out to the public, it is as complete as it’s every going to be. Off it goes.  It’s a great great feeling.  It almost has its own journey then.

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

I am currently working on a woman who is a murderer.  I had a friend proof read the first few chapters and I think he must have been a bit shocked as he described it  as a female version of American Psycho.  Not sure if that is a compliment or not, but I want to explore strong dangerous female characters.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

The Shaman in the book is based on a shaman who stayed in my home for 3 months whilst he learned English!

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?
The story about jumping mouse is about the journey we want to make up to the mountain to be free.  So the people in the story are at different stages in the journey, with two women in particular making a bid for freedom.

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

No, thank you for the interview. It’s reminded me how much fun it’s also been to tell this story!

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Chat with Doug Hewitt, author of Dominion

D.A. Hewitt is an award-winning author of four novels and over a hundred short stories. One novel was awarded a gold medal from the Independent Publishers Book Awards for best regional fiction. He attributes his success to hard work, honing a skill and providing an outlet for his passion for writing.

Born in Michigan, he lived for 25 years in North Carolina before returning to live in his home state. In addition to enjoying sky diving and mountain climbing, he is a proud veteran of the US Marine Corps and has earned a degree in mathematics.

Mr. Hewitt admits to a fascination with the work of Carl Jung and of the Gnostic religion. He’d always thought intertwining these topics in a science fiction novel was a stretch, but one day the storyline of Dominion came to him. He wrote the novel in a stream of consciousness. “It makes sense, tapping into the collective unconscious,” Mr. Hewitt says, “very much like Carl Jung might have predicted.”


About the Book:

It’s the year 2075. Lunar mining and processing facilities have prospered near the lunar south pole, where the Moon’s largest city, Valhalla, rests on the rim of the Shackleton Crater.

Dominion Off-Earth Resources has beaten the competition into space and is ready to establish its
monopoly with the opening of the orbiting space resort Dominion. But Pettit Space Industries has a secret plan to emerge as a major contender in the commercialization of space. The upstart company is training the first space rescue squad at a secluded off-grid site in Barrow, Alaska.

The rescue squad gets nearly more than it can handle when its first mission involves the Pope, who’s traveling to the Moon to establish the Lunar See. During the rescue attempt, they discover Earth is imperiled by an asteroid large enough to cause mass extinction. Using the unique skills taught during their training, skills emphasized by the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung, these Jungi Knights must elevate their game if they are to save both the Earth and the Pope—while not getting killed in the process.

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?

My inspiration for writing Dominion came from the work I did developing the Process Map of Consciousness. Many people are familiar with the ideas of ego, superego, and id. But how do they interact? I realized that it’s a process, and just like any manufacturing process, it can be mapped. Wanting to find a venue for the Process Map of Consciousness, I came up with the idea of the first rescue squad in space, a squad that used psychology to develop special skills. From that germ of an idea, my novel sprang to life.

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?

This book was easy to write, difficult to edit. A bit of advice for writers: writing is rewriting. I went through a dozen drafts of Dominion before it was published. Think of revising a manuscript as polishing a gemstone. Until it’s polished, it’s not as spectacular as it could be.

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

Double Dragon. There are many writer-friendly websites that help authors find publishers within their genres. Finding the right one is just a question of doing the right research.

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

Dominion is my third published novel. I also have five nonfiction books under my belt. But the surprise I got with my first book is the same I got with my third. It’s always surprising how big a thrill it is when those first author copies arrive from the publisher. Awesome.

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

I’m working on a dark urban fantasy. The working title is Frame of Mind but my wife is strongly urging me to change it to Roanoke. There’s a parallel universe to ours, and a rift opens between them. Much fun ensues!

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

The techniques developed by the space rescue team in Dominion actually work. I know because I went through the same regimen as the characters in my novel. It wasn’t easy. A bit grueling, actually. But I was actually stunned that the techniques work so well.

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

I want to show how the Process Map of Consciousness lays out the roadmap to combine the great Eastern and Western religions. Carl Jung, the great psychoanalyst, suspected that if it was possible to do such a thing, it was likely come from America. And I think I’ve done just that. For people who want to see the map itself, visit my website at
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

For me, the quest for a deeper level of consciousness is equivalent to the desire for a more fully developed spirituality. The Process Map of Consciousness is key to both.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Guest post: "Finding the Right Hired Hand," by Hard-boiled Thriller Author Jim Nesbitt

One of the great things about self-publishing is you get to tell your story your way. If you’re like me, you want your book to be as professional looking as possible so that means hiring a good editor and finding a graphic designer to produce a killer cover that’s true to your book.

That’s easier said than done. I have a great editor, Cheryl Pellerin, who is also a fine science writer who could give advice about the publishing process based on the experiences she had with her book, Trips: How Hallucinogens Work In Your Brain.

But the rest of the self-publishing game was terra incognito, with few trail markers, a blizzard of often conflicting online advice and the help of some buddies who had already journeyed across this land. To launch my first hard-boiled thriller, The Last Second Chance, I made a ton of mistakes and traversed a bunch of false trails, wasting more money than I should have on formatting, Facebook posts and cover design. On the latter, I first engaged some illustrators with the idea of creating a cover that mimicked the pulp fiction detective novels of yesteryear. That wound up being a waste of time and money, but did lead me to discover a German graphic designer who turned out four excellent cover options for me.

I also had a rather nightmarish experience with CreateSpace formatters who kept delivering manuscripts that were below my professional expectations, honed by more than 30 years as a journalist. I wanted a book that looked as professional as possible, one that didn’t have an amateurish or cookie-cutter cover and one that didn’t have a river of hyphenated short words and rogue line breaks. After multiple revisions that delayed publication of the first book by more than three months, I finally got an acceptable manuscript.

No matter how vexing the cover and formatting process was, it was still familiar ground to me as a former reporter and editor who regularly worked with photographers, graphic artists and page designers. I had to learn the particular quirks and pitfalls of formatters and graphic designers, but I could speak the language and knew what I wanted to accomplish.

What I struggled with most was the promotion and advertising game. I wasted too much money on boosted Facebook posts and advertising and didn’t run enough Kindle giveaways and countdown deals. As a first-time novelist, I ran into a brick wall with book bloggers and reviewers—with a few notable exceptions such as Scott Montgomery, the crime fiction coordinator at BookPeople, the biggest independent bookstore in Austin, Texas. I also pulled the trigger far too late on Amazon ads.

I learned from those mistakes, though. The biggest lesson: I suck at promotion. Second biggest lesson: social media alone won’t get you sales. I found Facebook to be an excellent platform for creating buzz and awareness that didn’t necessarily translate into sales. People loved the cool graphics Ray Martin, a buddy of mine, created to hawk the book. They loved the fact that I had a novel on the market. That didn’t mean they bought the book.

What I also realized is that the publishing world still has some strong, traditional roots, with influential outlets in both the print and online world. This means you need to have game that blends both old school and new school. And you have to know the players in both. I didn’t and needed help breaking through. That realization led to my biggest move in preparation for launching my second book, The Right Wrong Number, another hard-boiled thriller—hiring a publicist, Maryglenn McCombs out of Nashville. She’s got my book in front of folks I didn’t even know about as well as those who gave me the cold shoulder when I came calling with the first book. Will this lead to a sales boom? Not necessarily, but it does take me to a much higher level of awareness and potential.

These hard-won lessons made preparations for The Right Wrong Number much smoother. There were a few problems: the German graphic designer I used for the first book just flat disappeared on me. But I found another designer, thanks to a recommendation from fellow author Owen Parr, who pointed me towards I also found an excellent formatter, Polgarus Studio, a small Aussie outfit with old-school values. They’re great folks—top-flight pros.

I still have a lot to learn about this game. But as Brad Pitt said in Moneyball: “It’s a process. It’s a process.” You bet. With lessons worth learning so you can tell your story your way.

For more than 30 years, Jim Nesbitt roved the American Outback as a correspondent for newspapers and wire services in Alabama, Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. He chased hurricanes, earthquakes, plane wrecks, presidential candidates, wildfires, rodeo cowboys, ranchers, miners, loggers, farmers, migrant field hands, doctors, neo-Nazis and nuns with an eye for the telling detail and an ear for the voice of the people who give life to a story. He is a lapsed horseman, pilot, hunter and saloon sport with a keen appreciation for old guns, vintage cars and trucks, good cigars, aged whiskey and a well-told story. He now lives in Athens, Alabama and writes hard-boiled detective thrillers set in Texas.
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