Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interview with author John Roseman



Today my guest is MuseItUp author, John Roseman.  John is here to talk about his upcoming eBook, More Stately Mansions.


1) Tell me a little about your book.
More Stately Mansions” features a beautiful planet, K22, with soaring, shining cities.  Captain Temple leads an expedition there to open up a new market and to his surprise, finds no inhabitants whatsoever.  Where have they gone? Even more important, why are there so many storms and why are strange growths appearing on the bodies of his crew?   Has the planet itself somehow ensnared them in a diabolic plot?  This tale involves the unfolding of a cosmic mystery and challenges the reader to solve it.










2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
My father loved “The Chambered Nautilus,” a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes that contains lines quoted in the story.  This nautilus is a symbol of spiritual growth and transcendence, and it largely inspired the story, aided by my interest in cosmic transformation.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I’m a hardworking college professor, and my writing is a part-time lifelong hobby.  But some weeks I’ve spent seventy hours on it.  I organize my time somewhat haphazardly, writing when I’ve got a hot project and when I can find the time.  During the summers, which I take off, this is easier, but during the regular academic year, I have to steal time and write when I can.

One thing that’s helped me is my writers group, which motivates me to supply members with a chapter or short story every two weeks.  Sadly, after twenty-one years, this group has apparently died through attrition.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Ever since I was a small kid, I’ve scribbled, beginning with cartoon stories etched in crayon.  But while I liked to write, it took me till my early twenties to think of myself as a writer who wanted to devote his life to writing.  You see, in our society, writing is not generally considered a profession until you’ve proven yourself at it by supporting yourself with your published books.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I want them to be moved by it, to talk about it, to tell others.  I want to be remembered and change people’s lives.  I want them to love my heroes and heroines, to be moved by the quality of my writing, and perhaps most of all, to continue to buy my books!

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
My favorite genre is science fiction because it contains and transcends all the other genres and forms of fiction.  Science fiction is the most speculatively rich genre, which is why it’s also called speculative fiction.  I also like fantasy, science-fantasy, horror, dark fantasy, and the absurd because they free my imagination from reality while at the same time, still binding me to it. 

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Rejection is one of the toughest parts.   It’s hard and painful to write what you think is a great story or book and then find out no one cares.  You just have to suck it up, swallow your tears, and keep going, even if you have to wade through a sea of your own self-doubts.

Working alone can also be tough.  Despite writers’ groups, Yahoo groups, conventions, and online writers’ communities, writing often remains an intensely solitary pursuit.  YOU, more than anyone else, have to provide the inspiration and determination to keep going.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Not specifically, though dangerous, forbidden planets are common in science fiction.  I think “More Stately Mansions” is a work of almost pure imagination.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Hey, I’m even older than Captain Temple now!  Like Temple and a lot of old guys, I feel I haven’t achieved all my goals and dreams, my full potential.  Also, there’s wish-fulfillment here.   I like to feel my best days and greatest experiences still lie ahead, and that proves to be the case with Captain Temple.

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
Not much.  This is not hard science fiction but “soft” SF or perhaps science fantasy.  What research I did do was to read a lot of science fiction, including science fiction of the Golden Age.

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Not so much violent but highly sexual scenes have come to bother me as I get older.  Please note I’m not a prude.  I’ve published erotic horror stories in the HOT BLOOD series and elsewhere.  It’s just that I think there’s too much romance and erotica in the market and that it’s overdone and crowding out other forms.  In general, I find that if I have one steamy (but not body-parts graphic) sex scene in a novel, I’ve made my point as far as the participants are concerned. We don’t need to see them having sex repeatedly in explicit close-ups.

12) What about your book makes it special?
I think the cosmic concept at the end is rather special, and to find out what it is, you’ll have to read the tale.
Also, I think the mystery of the planet and the way I resolve that mystery are rather neat.  Plus, in
Captain Temple, I’ve created a poignant character many of us can identify with.  Don’t we all have dreams we failed to achieve and which continue to haunt us?  Don’t we all aspire to be better than we are?

13) What is your marketing plan?
Promotion online in Yahoo groups; in blogs and blog tours, including my website; and in reviews.  Other ideas will come to me.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
You can check my website at www.johnrosenman.com.  Also, I write a monthly blog on the thirteenth at www.storytellersuplugged.com. I have blogs all over the web and over a dozen interviews as well.  One interview can be found at http://www.milscifi.com/files/inter-JBR-BS.htm. Another, for July 21 of this year, is at SF Brigade, http://www.sfrcontests.blogspot.com/

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?

Read a lot of it, both good and bad, and read critically and interactively.  Read the masters, both from the past and today.  Keep current.  Study science and astronomy.  If you can, find a good critic, an intelligent reader willing to read your stuff, and embrace them, value their help and guidance.  Then write, write, write, revise, revise, revise.  Be persistent, be strong, and be dedicated.  Never give up and never stop trying to improve.

Above all, perhaps, remember that it’s what you write that’s important, not you.  Your most important obligation is to make what you write as good as you can.  Think of it as a religion if necessary.

John, thank you for being my guest today and offering me a glimpse into your writing life.  You've also offered some excellent tips.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Interview with author Les Berman



Today my guest is author, Les Berman.

1. Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.
I started thinking about writing when I was teaching seventh grade math around 2004. I wanted to try to do something different to stimulate my students.

2. Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?
I’m a part-time writer. I write when something comes into my head. This sometimes occurs around two o’clock in the morning.

3. What influences your writing?
Reading good mystery or thriller novels.

4. Is this your first published work? What other types of writing have you done?
This is my first published novel, and I’m currently working on a book that deals with educational issues in America.

5. Why did you choose to write a children's story?
I felt it was a good way to encourage students to study math.

6. What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
I used California math standards and the High School Math Exit Exam in creating the math questions related to the story.  At the end of the novel I added 50 questions similar to the High School Exit Exam.

7. What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
With traditional publishing the publisher takes on the cost of printing and sales distribution. With both types of publishing you have to spend your time and money for marketing.

8. What is your marketing strategy?
I recently signed up for Virtual Tours; I’ve attended a couple of book signings, and currently in the process of putting together a short skit for you tube.

9. What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?
If a writer is looking for a publisher, it is almost imperative to obtain an agent. For mass distribution of a book, I believe you need a publisher.

10. Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
My webpage has a brief Bio: www.ThePowerOfTheBlueMedallion.com, or www.NovelWithMath.com. Also my Bio is on Facebook.

11. Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
Being new myself, the only advice I have is don’t give up if you believe in your product.

12. Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.
This Captivating novel follows the wild adventures of three charismatic young aliens from the distant planet Hebutar, and their companion on  Earth.  Zytor, the son of the ruler of Hebutar, is determined to stop a group
of terrorists from causing chaos in the United States.  Against  his father’s wishes, Zytor travels to Earth and meets a young girl, Tandy, whose father was killed by terrorists.  Zytor’s sister Phelena, a Captain in
the Hebutarian Military and a fellow soldier, are dispatched by her father  to bring Zytor back to Hebutar before he mingles into the affairs of Planet  Earth.  While tracking down the terrorist, Zytor gets his medallion stolen (a powerful weapon), forcing him to team up with his sister and devise plans to retrieve the medallion, and help authorities stop the evil terrorists from executing  a terrible attack in Washington D.C.

My book can be ordered through my web page: www.ThePowerOfTheBlueMedallion.com
or www.NovelWithMath.com. Also the book can be downloaded on the Amazon Kindle or Apple I-pad with an Amazon app.




Les Berman, author of The Power of the Blue Medallion
book category: YA science fiction
# of pages: 210-215
www.novelwithmath.com <http://www.novelwithmath.com/>

Book Excerpt

“We better get inside the chamber room and find a place to hide until they come to plant the explosives,” General Vendor said to Zytor and Phelena. “Raygor, you better put on the security guard outfit and
relieve the guard on duty.

By four-thirty everyone was at their assigned positions, waiting nervously for the operation to begin. Before attending their post on the outside of the building, the two experienced FBI agents sat in their car for a few minutes, discussing their concerns regarding the number of men assigned on the outskirts of the building.

An hour later Raygor heard the stairway door open as he approached the three remaining tourists. Before escorting them to the escalator, he knocked twice on the outside of the chamber wall, signaling Zytor and
the others that the operation was on. Raygor purposely watched the tourists land on the first floor, allowing them to enter the chamber room.

Phelena grasped her medallion, taking only a minute to render herself and the others invisible just seconds before Janis, Henry, and Puccini entered the room. Hiding behind the last row of seats in the room gave
them an excellent vantage point in watching every move of the three terrorists. As expected, they removed the panes to the television cameras and carefully concealed the explosives on both sides of the room. After congratulating themselves, they retreated to the Chamber entrance, peeked out the door, and quickly stepped into the hallway, when the guard was nowhere to be seen.

Just as they were about to make their way to the stairs, Janis paused as he heard a loud sound from the chamber room when Zytor accidentally kicked a chair as he got up from behind it.


Feel free to follow the rest of Mr. Berman's tour to learn more about his work:  http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2010/09/06/the-power-of-the-blue-medallion-virtual-book-tour-september-2010/

Friday, September 24, 2010

How To Start Writing Without Writing Mills by C. Hope Clark



Today, I’d like to share an informative piece written by C. Hope Clark.  Hope has been sharing her wisdom and insight with other writers for a number of years.  Her newsletters offering grant information and other funding sources are unique in their content.

HOW TO START WRITING WITHOUT WRITING MILLS

I had this question posed to me recently, and it gave me pause. "If writing mills aren't good for a writer, how does a writer get started?"

Having written before there were writing mills, I was puzzled why the writer didn't know. Then I thought about new writers, and how a simple Google query pops up mill after mill. Freelance gigs are awash with the professed "opportunities."

To a novice in the biz, these mills seem like the simplest way to cut your teeth. As a result, they don't learn how the serious writers got their start. Then when the gigs quit working for them, or they discover that the pay is worse than peanuts, they start scouting for "life after mill writing."

Bottom line is this...you research markets, seeking an understanding of what they need for their readers.

1. Subscribe or purchase a Writer's Market.
2. Subscribe to newsletters like FundsforWriters.
3. Read actual publications that you like.
4. Visit bookstores and study the periodical racks.
5. Visit libraries and study several issues of a particular periodical so you can identify their needs in trends.

Online:
1. Search for the online versions of the magazines you enjoy or know well.
2. Offer to guest blog.
3. Accept column and blog gigs for commercial blogs (but be careful for the scams and the 20 articles for $5 deals).
4. Study the scam and warning sites like:
www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware
http://forums.writersweekly.com/
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/index.php
5. Search Facebook, Twitter and the like for magazines and writing groups to follow and catch opportunities.
And nothing beats joining writing organizations and their forums, chats and listservs where the experienced can
educate you for free. Scams are quickly slammed, and the good markets are heartedly endorsed. Yes, getting started freelance writing is like any other freelance business. You start slow, work hard, don'tgive up, and decide to weather the learning curve until you have it down pat.  And yes, it's harder than slinging articles that took you fifteen minutes to write. But oh the rewards when you finally get it right.

C. Hope Clark
Hope@FundsforWriters.com
http://www.fundsforwriters.com
Read FFW Small Markets online at:
http://www.fundsforwriters.com/smallmarkets.htm
Read archives at:
http://www.aweber.com/z/article/?ffwsmallmarkets

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Interview with author Barbara Brink



Today my guest is author, Barbara Brink, who is here to talk about her novel, Entangled.  As a special gift, Barbara is giving away a coupon for a free copy of her book.  If you leave a comment, one name will be selected.  Be sure I have a way to contact you, and I will send you the coupon code.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
What if you inherited a California winery, fully equip with a house, vineyards, and a sexy blonde lawyer, and not only does it reawaken your worst childhood memories and give you recurring nightmares, but your mother decides you need her and moves in with you indefinitely?

Entangled is told in the voice of Billie Fredrickson, a twenty-eight-year-old cynical divorce attorney from Minneapolis who inherits a California winery and must decide whether to stay and run it as her uncle wished, or sell out and return home. Billie has every intention to cut and run, but soon after her arrival, long dormant memories begin to surface. When childhood nightmares also return full-force, she knows she can't leave until she finds answers to the questions now plaguing her. In her search for the truth, Billie unintentionally lays bare painful secrets in her mother’s past as well.

Along the way, Billie’s love of winemaking is awakened, as is an attraction to her uncle's attorney.  But before she can pursue these options, she must learn to see past hurt and regret to hope of the future, like a good wine that stands the test of time.

Great wine evokes a sense of place, a connection to our heritage, much as a good story. Billie's story is about finding that connection, that sense of belonging.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I was out in Washington State visiting relatives and couldn't believe the number of wineries and vineyards that had popped up across the countryside. I'd read a number of articles about how popular wine tasting rooms had become in numerous states and wondered what it would be like to own and run a place like that. I also wanted to deal with repressed memories. I spent much of my childhood in Washington, but my memories are mere fragments. Not that they're repressed--just poor. I found that memories were often jogged through things like the smell of apricots ripening on a tree, tumbleweeds blowing in the wind, or the sound of frogs croaking in unison down by the creek. It set my mind spinning this story.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
When I'm engrossed in finishing a novel, I tend to work full days, but if I'm still at the "floundering for inspiration stage" or the research stage, I am easily distracted. Laundry, unwashed dishes, or my dogs sad faces begging for a walk, have been known to take my attention away from the task at hand. I try to write in the morning or early afternoon hours when no one else is around. With the house to myself, I am usually more focused on my characters and story.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I've always loved writing. I made up stories and wrote them down in notebooks when I was a child. But I don't think I seriously began to pursue the dream of being "a writer' wholeheartedly until about eleven years ago. The stories were clamoring to get out, and I couldn't keep them tamped down any longer.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I played up a bit of mother/daughter tension in the story, but the theme throughout is that even though family ties may bind at times and we strain to be free, they're also our lifelines when storms come our way.  
Other than that, I hope they laugh and cry and nearly wet their pants, but I'll be happy if they enjoy the story, tell their friends, and look for my next book to come out.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
My short stories are in many different genres, but my novels tend to lean more toward suspense or at least have a secondary thread of suspense running through them. I tried different genres on for size when I first started seriously writing, but found that just as "you are what you eat," I am "what I read the most of. " Most of my favorite authors write suspense.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
The toughest part for me is the business end of writing. Writing a novel is easy compared to researching agents or publishing houses and writing personal query letters.  And then there is the waiting to hear back. Sometimes I feel like my life is in a holding pattern after I've finished a novel. I have to force myself to get those queries out and begin a new project. Because sitting and waiting isn't very lucrative or productive.

8) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
The only trait I think Billie Fredrickson and I share is our use of sarcasm. She is a little distrustful of people, has a complicated relationship with her mother, and has skills in self-defense. I'm the opposite of that.

9) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I happily visited a winery or two--just to get the feel for such a place of course. I also had a critique partner who kindly handed over a pile of research she'd done on wineries while living in California.  For other aspects of the story I visited the local library.

10) What about your book makes it special?
Entangled has something for everyone: a mystery to be solved, a budding romance, and mother/daughter relationship problems, all set in sunny California. If that's not enough--my daughter, a Graphic Design major, designed the book cover. Isn't it awesome?

11) What is your marketing plan?
I'm working on a blog tour, and am always happy when someone agrees to review or spotlight my novel on their blog--such as today. Entangled will soon be available through Amazon, Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo (Borders), and Diesel ebook Store. And of course you can purchase it now through Smashwords.

12) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Please visit my webpage:  http://www.barbaraellenbrink.com to read some of my short stories. You can also connect with me at my blog:  http://barbarasthinline.blogspot.com where I write about things I find funny in the news or everyday life.

13) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
My suspense story ideas have often come from the strangest places: blurbs in the newspaper, medical mystery segments on Good Morning America, or conversations overheard in a restaurant. Keep your eyes and ears open, your imagination set to overdrive, and that niggling question always in the back of your mind--What if?

Barbara, thank you for being my guest today and giving me a glimpse into your writing life.



Here's a short synopsis of Entangled:

   When Minneapolis attorney Billie Fredrickson learns her uncle has left her the winery she hasn’t seen since she was eight years old, it reawakens memories of a childhood mystery that has lain dormant for twenty years.  But digging up her past also lays bare the skeletons of others, including her mother’s.  Can she live with the consequences of full disclosure, or will she run home, where everyone is Minnesota nice?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Interview with author Klarque Garrison


Today, my guest is non-fiction author, Klarque Garrison.  Klarque has agreed to talk about his new book, How to survive the Next 365.

1) Tell me a little about your book and give a short synopsis.  There are 12 chapters with 12 concepts or ideologies that I’ve found make up the spirit of successful people. The 12 chapters symbolize the 12 months in a year..thus we have 365 (days). Life is not supposed to be easy. We do not learn from our successes we learn from our failures. That is why I titled this book “How to Survive the Next 365”. Through surviving we develop a basic knowledge of life and through knowledge we gain wisdom. Once a person grasps wisdom he/she can control the thing that is most difficult to control…oneself! If a man/woman can learn to control their self there is nothing they can not do. There are chapters in this book that you may not have difficulty with so read it as it speaks to you. Then apply the lessons by working the exercises at the end of each chapter. Lastly, share your success with the world. Your journey for your “Next 365” days does not start with the purchase of this book. Nor does it begin once you have read this book. You will discover your journey only begins once you decide your self worth is directly linked with “The Creator” and that makes you God-like. Everyone has greatness to share with the world. I hope you can see what I already see in you…





2) What gave you the idea for this particular book? In 2007 I lost over $1 million in real estate and cash. I thought after almost 10 years in the business I was at the top of my game. I realized now I was not and that there were some key things missing. After feeling sorry for myself for a few months I devised a plan. My plan was to interview successful individuals all over the U.S. to find out how they were surviving the decline in our economy. After over 100 interviews I realized there were several key ideologies that all had in common. I immediately started applying them to my life and instantly my life (as I saw it) started turning around. I decided to write a book about the 12 principles I believed to be most significant.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? I am absolutely a full time writer! I’ve fallen in love with writing and if I have it my way this will be all I do professionally from here on out! I’ve not only started writing my second book, (about the presidential electoral system from 1789-until now and it’s failures) I write a blog which is titled “An Obama World”. The blog primarily highlights those who are successful in their fields of business, writing, or academia during the Obama Presidential Years (Although from time to time I do allow myself to write a political or philosophical memorandum). I write the blog under my pen name “Milano Flascucci”.  (for more info about the blog visit www.anobamaworld.blogspot.com). I’m what you call a “midnight writer”! After the kids are in bed and the house is still, I sit down at my desk and type away. Often times I won’t finish until 4 or 5am. During the day I’m out promoting the book or interviewing folks for my blog. I do use the daytime to jot down notes that will help in my “midnight rendezvous” with my keyboard!

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Growing up if you would have told me at 43yrs. Old I would be a writer I would have laughed. I’ve always been a voracious reader since high school, but I never thought I’d be able to put words together in a form others would want to read. I started off writing poems although I could not write them on the spot. I would have to be motivated or inspired to convert my thoughts to words on paper.  During my years as a real estate investor I believed in order to be respected I should write a book on investing. I had the knowledge but never the motivation. So, several books are still incomplete on my hard drive at home. Then, one day someone heard about my interviews and suggested I write a book on my findings. I sat down at my computer that night and out of know where, inspired thoughts came! The rest is (as they say) history!

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing? This is a tough one because each reader will see or read things that only apply to their life. However, if I had a magic wand I’d love for readers to be inspired about developing their own blue print that will take them to their next level (whatever that may be). I want them to know it’s ok to begin to believe in them and that they are not alone in their perceived failures. Hopefully, they can determine through my writing that I’m not the guru that will make their lives have meaning. Yet, I am just like them on a never ending journey to get through life! And together perhaps we can!

6) What types of writing do you prefer, and why?  I love it all! Historical reading, Biographical books, inspirational/motivation reads, even Anne Rice’s~Vampire chronicles (of which I’ve read them all!). If it’s on paper…I’ll read it!

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it? The toughest part for me is to remain consistent in my writing. As my mentor Natalie Goldberg wrote…"a writer writes" and a writer should write everyday! However, with life, family and those never ending ups and downs it’s a hard quest to follow. I do have my failures from time to time, but I push myself through those rough days and remind myself this is a profession not a hobby. In order to get where I am going I’ve got to be consistent! It will truly show in your work!

8) What draws you to non-fiction writing? I’m just not that great at make believe! I’m much better at recalling real life scenarios and building a bridge from one idea to another. Plus, it was the only vehicle I saw where my messages could be taken seriously and not dismissed as flighty fantasy. Although I do have at least one Fictional novel within me….LOL

9) What kind of research did you do for this type of book? As I stated in an earlier answer, I started interviewing people who I bumped into or read about in order to hear “their stories”. I figured since I had fallen so hard on my face, I must be missing a few key essential pieces. So, after interviewing my first person, I realized everyone has an amazing story to tell. It was key and fun to hear how people got to their mind-sets that would ultimately lead them to the pinnacles they reached. It was also important to hear that many had fallen from grace just as I had. The difference was they understood this to be part of their journey and not an explanation to who they were. I also read Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg, Dan Poynter and William Zinsser to understand (as much as possible to this point) how to write. These people are all giants in their own right on understand the characteristic of being a good writer. So, they became my mentors on the subject!

10) What about your book makes it special? Great Question! My book is not a “Self-Help” book! Self-help books give you a sequence of objectives to meet. If you meet them you’re a success and if you don’t you’re a failure! Many people can’t meet that expectation because there are too many variables that would never match up with the author. With “How to Survive the Next 365” your only requirement is to believe in the power of “You”! You hold the entire key to your own success. The book becomes a sort of reminder/road map that you’re going on the right course. Just as a map plays an important part of a journey you’ve never been on…so does this book on your journey to developing the right mind-set to continue on!

11) What is your marketing plan? “365” has taken on a life of its own much like a “movement”. So, we’ve decided to market “365” in a way that anyone can join the journey (there is strength in numbers). First, we are marketing the book through a grass roots approach. Step by step we are reaching as many people around the world as possible (county by county, state by state). We have a dynamic blog talk radio show titled “The Conversation”, I already mentioned the blog “an Obama world”, online social networking, a powerful newsletter, and now we’re initiating a unique “Barbershop Talk”.  The purpose of “Barbershop Talk” is to reach men where they visit consistently! Our goal is to build on the 12 principles in the book through dialogue! Where else can you be guaranteed dialogue but a barbershop! The only difference we control the topics! Combine this with a National book signing tour and you have yourself a positive movement.

12) Where can people learn more about you and your work? Of course the best place would be our website (www.survivethenext365.com) or follow us via twitter (www.twitter.com/survive365). You can sign up for our newsletter via the website (just use contact page to submit your info). Our blog talk show airs bi-weekly at (www.blogtalkradio.com/survive365) or visit the blog at (www.anobamaworld.blogspot.com). For those on facebook join my fan page (D.K. Garrison fan page), Youtube at (survivethenext365) or give us a call at (866) 642-9125!

13) What are your views on self-publishing versus traditional publishing? I once went to a local book signing for a long time favorite author “Jim Lehrer”. I asked him this very same question. He replied by saying 10-20 years ago, it was darn near impossible to consistently go the self-published route. However, with all the modern technological advances in the industry and the advent of the “social networking” websites, you have a better than average chance to be successful. I love the fact that I have complete control of my book’s destiny. Of course, we all need assistance getting our message out and with these advancements we can find the collaborations which will make the difference. Put out a great looking product that is well written and readers will reward you with sales!!!

14) Do you have an agent and do you feel an agent is necessary for non-fiction? I do not have a literary agent and from what I’ve researched it’s darn near impossible to get one as a self-published author for your first book. Agents want to see a track record of success, so you’re better advised to build a product and marketing plan. And along the way if you’re lucky, you’ll attract the attention of a viable agent. With a non-fiction book you tend to be freer to find that niche where you can focus your promotions! However, if I can land one…I’ll take it!

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction? Just one, write what you are passionate about. Do not write with the idea of trying to just sell book! It becomes insincere and readers will burn you for it! Be true to who you are as a writer!

Klarque thank you for sharing your writing life with me.  It's been a pleasure learning more about you and your work.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

12 Ways to Create a Mailing List that Will Sell Books

Today, I'd like to share a useful article from The Book Marketing Newsletter by Penny Sansevieri.

12 Ways to Create a Mailing List that Will Sell Books
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We've all heard this: capture email addresses on your website so you can market to them again. So we capture email addresses and then we wonder what to do with them. What if you don't really have news? Do you mail the list anyway? How can I monetize my list and how much is too much?

We've had The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter for over eight years now and the newsletter, bursting in content, is one of the best promotional tools my company has. We've never done a single piece of advertisement for my firm, all of it has come from word of mouth, online, and our newsletter.

The key to a good newsletter list is simple really and the biggest piece of this is you've got to have something useful to say. While your friends and family might enjoy hearing about your latest book signing, people who happened onto your site and subscribed to your ezine might become bored with this information and unsubscribe. If you have a list or are considering starting one, consider these tips to get you going and help you maximize your newsletter.

1. Timing: How often you send the newsletter will really depend on your crowd but I don't recommend anything less than once a month. I know some people who send a quarterly newsletter and that's fine if you don't really have much to say, but if you're looking for content so you can send the newsletter more, then read on, I have some ideas and ways of maximizing the use of content for your newsletter.

2. Distribution: How will you send your newsletter? If your plan is to email it forget it unless you have less than 100 subscribers. Anything over that and you should consider using a service like Aweber or Constant Contact. These places will handle your subscribed and unsubscribes for you. If you start mailing to a list larger than 50 from your email service, you run the risk of getting shut down for spam.

3. Easy Opt In: Make it easy for people to sign up. Make sure there's a sign up on your website, preferably the home page and then a mention of it again on your most popular page which, for most of us, is our blog. The opt-in will take new subscribers to your welcome page (which we'll talk about in a minute) and handle sending your new readers right into the mailing list.

4. Ethical Bribe: So what will you give readers to get their email? It might not be enough just to tout that you have this fabulous newsletter, in fact often it isn't. Having something that they'll want, a key item, e-book, tip sheet whatever will entice readers to sign up for your newsletter. Here's a hint: give them something they'll have to keep referring to again and again so that your name and book stays in front of them.

5. Free: There are some folks in the industry who try to charge for their newsletter. Listen, I get it. A newsletter is a lot of work but if done properly, it is a key promotional tool and therefore, should be free. Magazines can charge for subscriptions, you can't. Make it free. Don't even put a value on it. I know folks who do this too. I think the value of the newsletter should be evident in its content, not in the price you chose to put on it.

6. Welcome pages: After someone signs up for your newsletter, what will they see? A simple thank you page on your website is a waste of an opportunity. Make sure there is a welcome page that shares their freebie (the ethical bribe) and tells them about one or two of your products. It's also a great idea to offer a special on this welcome page as a "thank you" for signing up to your mailing list.

7. Check your facts: The quickest way to lose subscribers is to publish a newsletter full of factual mistakes. Do your fact and link checking prior to it going out. Seriously. It's important not just to the credibility of your newsletter, but to you as well. I mean who wants to buy something from someone who can't even be bothered to check their facts? Also, please get your newsletter edited. I've seen some newsletter with a disclaimer that they are unedited. If you aren't an editor and can't afford one, see if you can get it done for free and then blurb the person in your newsletter as a way to reciprocate. Remember, everything is your resume. Would you send a CV to a potential employer that was full of typos. I didn't think so.

8. Promote: This is key because once you decide to do a newsletter you'll want to promote it. You can do so by adding it to your signature line in email (sign up for my newsletter and get something), you should also never go to a book event without a signup sheet, and add your newsletter info to the byline of any article you write that gets syndicated online.

9. Collaborate: If you're strapped for content and time, why not open up your newsletter to other collaborators? Our newsletter, The Book Marketing Expert, is a collaboration of a lot of voices. We have publishing tips, web site tips, social media tips, and the main article. It's a great way to let others have a voice in your newsletter which helps to promote them and the best part of this is that if you have a collaborative newsletter you can all promote it to the different people you touch in your travels. This will help increase your sign up exponentially because you're hitting that many more people. Your collaborators should be in the industry, but specializing in different areas. This will give your newsletter the flavor and interest it needs. Don't worry about sharing your newsletter space with others, we've done it this way for years and it's a great way to build lots of useful content.

10. Be generous: Give lots of good information. By giving away good information people will want to read it, when they read it you will build a readership and loyal following, not just for your newsletter but your books and products as well.

11. Balance: The key to a good newsletter that will not only get read, but passed along is balance. By this I mean balance giving with selling. My general rule of thumb is 95% helpful information and 5% selling, while that number may seem low trust me, this is a great balance and yes, you can offer specials, and offers to your readers but that's the 5%.

12. Content creation: While it may seem daunting to have to write content for a newsletter every month or every two weeks, you can use and reuse this content because not everyone will find you in the same place. What I mean by this is that some folks will find you on your blog, others might find you on Twitter and still others will find you by searching online and happen on an article you've syndicated. Once I create content for The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter that content is then redistributed and reused in places like our blog, my Twitter account (@bookgal) our Facebook Fan Page http://www.facebook.comhttp://www.facebook.com/bookmarketingame?ref=ts or on my page at The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri. Use and reuse your content, though not too much. I generally will use my articles in one or two other places and that's it, but the point is they can be used again.

The idea behind a good newsletter is one that not only brings your readers in but keeps them in. It's the marketing funnel we marketing people love to talk about so much, once you get someone to sign up, stay on their radar screen with helpful content. Once you do, you'll find not only loyal readers, but loyal buyers as well.

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Monday, September 13, 2010

Interview with author Phil Nork


1) Tell me a little about your book and give a short synopsis.
My book “Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male” is a narrative non-fiction memoir that everyone, male or female, can read. It is the story of a young boy and the journey he takes after the divorce of his parents as he searches for the acceptance and happiness he thought he had lost. There are also ten basic lessons which I learned from the females of my life which everyone could learn from so I weave them into stories anyone can enjoy.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular book?
Once I moved my family from Illinois to Nevada I started having very vivid dreams about the people involved and the lessons they taught me. Once I started to write these individual dreams down they stopped, until I had all of them. I feel they were a way for me to end a part of my life and start a new one. As I say in my book, “There is no such thing as an ending, only new beginnings.”

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I am a part-time writer…most of my writing happens at night when I am on the road during business trips. My family doesn’t watch TV too often, so I use that time also.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I have always had a flair for writing; I just never thought anyone else would understand. I started putting my feelings down on paper when my parents were getting a divorce. This led to poetry, which finally gave me the idea for this book.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
That all people are the same inside. We all want to be accepted for who we are and to be happy. Even if you feel different or look different or feel alone, you have the right to these two desires.

6) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
The hardest part is wondering if those who read the book actually like it. I continue to doubt myself, but with each and every nice e-mail or good review I get, those feelings ease somewhat. Marketing is also hard, especially if you are an introvert like I am.

7) What draws you to non-fiction writing?
I find it easier to write about things I have experienced. Being that it is narrative non-fiction I can take some liberties to enhance the stories so it is the best of both worlds.

8) What kind of research did you do for this type of book?
The book is basically my life. Everything you read about, every person you read about has been a part of my life somehow. (Although some of the situations have been enhanced and all the names and locations have been changed to protect the innocent, so to say.)

9) What about your book makes it special?
It has been called a “self-help book for those who don’t like self-help books.” There are ten lessons which I believe everyone can benefit from, but instead of just listing them, I have a story about how I was able to learn them and from who I learned them from. The book reads more like a story than a self-help book.

10) What is your marketing plan?
I am using social media and local networking to establish a base of readers. I am not very good at talking about my book, but others are, so I use their expertise to help spread the word. Book reviews have also played a big part. I am now looking for a traditional publisher who would like to re-publish the book and help me market it on a bigger platform.

11) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Come to my website www.PhilipNork.com or my facebook book page www.facebook.com/sensitivity101

12) What are your views on self-publishing versus traditional publishing? I
used AuthorHouse to publish because I wanted the book published before my 30th high school reunion. They delivered a beautiful book which has sold many copies, but I need the strength of a traditional publisher to get my book into retail stores such as Costco and WalMart. Today, either way--self or traditional publishing--works, you just need to know what you want…and basically it is all in the marketing of the book. Although traditional publishing may help open more doors than self publishing, it really depends on the author’s involvement to make the book succeed.

13) Do you have an agent and do you feel an agent is necessary for non-fiction?
I do not have an agent, but am open if one likes my book enough and thinks they can help me spread the word.

14) Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction?
I believe we all have a story to tell, so just do it. Some people will connect with it and some won’t. Do what comes naturally to you.










Book blurb for Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male


Following the divorce of his parents, a 6-year-old boy goes on a journey of self-discovery as he tries to satisfy the two desires all humans have in common: to be accepted for who we are and to be truly happy.
Phil finds out that the journey we are on is a difficult one, even more so for those children who come from a broken home. Follow him as he grows up and desperately tries to make those two desires come to fruition.
Through dating different girls, Phil acquires 10 basic lessons for understanding the fairer sex. As he pieces these lessons together to form the basis of the person he wants to be, he makes a series of bad choices and soon loses his way. This leads to an ongoing internal debate, is his unique approach to sex right or wrong? The thoughts Phil has regarding these sensitive situations are totally opposite from the girls’. They understand what his “secret gift” really is…but will Phil ever know the truth? And just who will be the one who finally accepts him for who he is?


Phil, thanks for being my guest today and sharing your writing adventures.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Interview with author Marion Marchetto



Today, my guest is Marion Marchetto, author of Oak Cliff.  Marion is here today to discuss her book and her writing life.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
My book is the story of a seemingly ordinary house that narrates a cross-section of history as experienced/witnessed by the occupants of that house. The entire story is narrated by the house itself.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
This particular story was inspired by the 160 year-old house that belonged to my aunt & uncle and now is owned by my cousin. It is a follow-up to my first two books. Family history pushed me to write this one.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Part-time writer. I write mostly in the evenings and on weekends.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I was around seven years old when I decided that I wanted to be a writer. Sadly, life got in the way.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I want my readers to realize that history is not stuffy, boring, or impersonal. Rather it is a very personal subject that they have much influence over.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
My stories are a mix of genres: historical fiction, romance, thriller, supernatural, general fiction. I like added portions of all genres because it keeps the reader, and more importantly me – the writer, guessing as to what will come next.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
The toughest part about being a writer is that I am not comfortable with promoting my books. Sadly, writing is the easiest part. I really have no public relations skills although I love meeting people and making new friends. I just feel uneasy about bringing up my books every time I meet someone new.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Many occurrences in the book are structured around real historical events and/or facts.  I have tried to maintain local historical events in their context while having fictional characters interact with or during those events. Additionally, the Simmons family (the next to last owners of the house) is based entirely on my parents and me. 

9) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
Most of my research was done via internet web sites; it also helped that I grew up in the area where the story is set and know much of the history first-hand.

10) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Writing these types of scenes doesn’t bother me too much. To me the scenes are ‘just a story’ and are integral to that story. Although some of my scenes are sexual they are not explicit – suitable for an R rated audience I guess. I’ve only written one violent scene and again, that was done within the context of the story and not for any shock factor.

11) What about your book makes it special?
The fact that the story is narrated entirely by the house itself, as in “if walls could speak” – a phrase we or our parents have uttered numerous times. Also the fact that the story crosses genres makes it a bit more exciting.

12) What is your marketing plan?
I really don’t have one except to beg people – “please buy my books."

13) Is your book self-published? Why did you choose this route to publication?
I've been self-publishing my books for two reasons: with the first book it was the easiest way for me since I didn't believe I would ever write a second book. After that it was due to being rejected consistently by agents and publishers. No one can seem to find a genre that I can be lumped into nor is anyone willing to take the risk on a story that is told my a house. So there we have it. I'm so far into the red when it comes to money that I don't believe I'll ever recoup my investment let alone make any money doing this. But there is a growing number of fans who seem to like my work so I make the effort to publish. I love the writing but truly, after self-publishing, can't afford publicity or a publicist.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
People can go to my website:  www.marionmarchetto.com – there I talk about my books, what led me to write them, etc. Additionally, people can also check out my blogs and past articles from my monthly newscolumn, Valley Memories, that I write for The Valley Times.

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Just write! Then edit, edit, edit until you think you’re done, then edit some more. Never give up. It wasn’t until I was 55 years old that I published my first book.





OAK CLIFF:  A Tale of Darkness and Despair


Oak Cliff Farm has been plagued by tragedy, nightmares, and horror for over one hundred and fifty years. The house itself presents its dark history through flashbacks, hidden clues, and ghostly occurrences to Merline Madagascar, who is a house-whisperer of sorts. Unlike other houses with joyful histories that Merline has visited and heard, this house presents a unique challenge when its new owners, Jack and Erica, call Merline to help restore the house to its former elegance. Weary of a recurring nightmare caused by its first owners, the house wants nothing more than to provide shelter to a loving family with children.

Oak Cliff Farm welcomes Jack and Erica with the hope that they will be the ones to bring happiness to its rooms once again. But a wandering soul still hovers over Oak Cliff Farm, causing unrest and apprehensiveness for all its subsequent owners.

Accompanying Merline are her historically-inclined husband Daniel, her intrepid architect/contractor Verne, Chef Jacques and his significant other Erica, and a host of other characters. Will Oak Cliff’s past prove too much for Merline? Or will the more than a century-long series of ill-fated events finally come to an end?

          This is the third book in the Merline Madagascar Trilogy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Interview with author Rhobin Lee Courtright



Today, my guest is MuseItUp author, Rhobin Lee Courtright.  Her science fiction novel, Crewkin, is scheduled for release in February, 2011.

Tell me a little about your book.
Crewkin is a scifi space opera but not in the traditional sense of spaceships fighting each other in an all out war. The war in Crewkin is within the spaceship and who will control it.

In the far future companies need specialized crew capable of spending the time on long-duration spaceflights. Most people can’t take the stress of endless years confined in the same small space and with the same small community, so the companies breed crews to specifications and raise them in exclusive societies so they can never quit.

The main character of Crewkin was raised like this, but something went wrong, and when all of her kin died, Renna refused to commit suicide. She wanted to live, so she had to find a way to survive. After a few failed attempts on short hauler spaceships, she signs on to the Vagrant Spirit. As the story develops, the reader learns everything isn’t as straight forward as they might think.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story? I think of scifi and fantasy as great genres to explore current issues. All of present day science developments in genetics, the crisis in big companies’ goals and ethics are used to explore future life on a spaceship.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
While I’d like to write full time, I have too many other sticks in the fire -- teaching, painting, and gardening. I always thought after the children left home I’d have so much free time. That scenario never played out. I have less time, not more.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
While living in Colorado and hubby was working in St. Louis. With two children, and no relatives in the state, I couldn’t go out, so I started writing a story. It was horrible and I never finished it, but it lighted a spark; now, its nine books later.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
A few hours of good entertainment and maybe some thoughts on the themes I try to present. If they think about the story a day, a week or a month later and want to reread it, I’m satisfied.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I’ve written science fiction and fantasy, but recently expanded into romantic suspense and historical. I don’t think of myself as writing in a specific genre, but writing in the setting and time the characters and their story belong.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Promotion. It takes too much time away from writing, but without the promotion, no one would learn about my books, so I need to promote not only for myself but the publishers who have taken a chance on my books.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
In a way everything I write is based on real life experience. In order to write you have to have experienced life and people. I try to stay away from taking incidents about my family and friends and relaying them in a story.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
I don’t think Renna is like me at all, but she came from my imagination, so there must be some connection, right?

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
First off, with any story, I classify the personality types of my characters and try to keep them true to themselves, so my research is about the character and writing their stories. For Crewkin’s research, I had to think about the ship, what it was like, which took a lot of research, as did current proposed methods of travel through space. I tried to understand some basic concepts of quantum mechanics although I can’t say the science in Crewkin is 100% feasible. All of this took a few years to assemble.

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?
Why or why not? Hmmm. Two- sided question, which means it depends on the situation. I think if a highly violent, or highly sexual scene doesn’t affect me, it won’t affect whoever reads my words. Do these scenes bother me? Not if they work within the plot-scape of the story. On the other hand, I don’t want to put anything in my stories that are so offensive the reader closes their e-reader. Very descriptive rape scenes, abuse of children, excessive degradation of a character, explicit torture scenes, etc. bother me when I read. If something disgusts me and I fail to discover any reason for its inclusion in the story, I stop reading.

12) What about your book makes it special?
I think it is a different take on future societies, space and space travel. I like strong women characters and I think readers do, too.

13) What is your marketing plan?
What marketing plan??? LOL. I try all the recommended methods, from social networking, blogging, web page, email signature tags, paid spots on reviewer lists, etc. It isn’t easy.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have a website—rhobinlee.com; and a blog—rhobinsrambles.blogspot.com.

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Don’t give up. Discover what your writing faults are, correct them and try again.


Here’s a synopsis of Crewkin:

Born and bred to be crewkin, Renna is devastated by the death of her ship and most of her kin. Crewkin combine aspects of family and crew who are raised in a closed society developed to guide spaceships on the decades long voyages between asteroid mining colonies and the sun’s planets. When her company’s medical department advises the few remaining kin to commit suicide and join their kin in death, Renna refuses. Knowing she will never join another crewkin, she resolves to stay in space doing the only job she knows. She seeks a berth on one of the short-haul shippers running between the planets, but integration into ‘norm’ crew seems impossible until she joins the crew of the Vagrant Spirit, whose captain seems as desperate for any capable crewman as Renna is for a ship’s position. This job, this journey will propel her into a new world.

There is nothing so true as change is inevitable. The shipping companies who operate the long haul crewkin ships know this, and rumors of a new ship engine, which can thrust a ship greater distances in a fraction of the time a crewkin ship takes, threatens their business. A stolen prototype destroyed one of the Markham Company’s ships. There is only one thing left to do—cover up the whole project--get rid the engine that failed, and the last surviving member of the crew.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Muse It Up Readers Group




It’s time, dear readers, to announce what we have in store for you...one surprise at a time.

Beginning October 1st, and on the first of each month, one lucky reader will win a FREE e-book.

The rules you ask?
Simple: join our discussions, ask questions to our authors, have fun with us, that’s it. Participate and you have a chance to be one of our monthly winners.

To join our readers group go here:

Give your friends the link above and ask them to join us too. Come October things are going to begin hopping and a'bobbin' all over the place.

But that’s not all:
Join us in our readers group for our December 1st Launch Party and you have a chance to be one of our two lucky winners:
First prize: a year’s worth of ebooks (12 in total)
Second prize: six month’s worth of ebooks (6 in total)

Hold on, we’ve got more...
Between October 1st and 31st we’ll be hosting a Masquerade Blog Festival where each day one of our authors will entertain you with a variety of posts, from short stories, recipes, historical facts of the Halloween season, to decorating tips. In-between these posts there will be random YouTube videos posted and the first reader who jumps in the loop and calls out the title of the song posted will have his or her choice of any one of our released or soon to be released e-books. If soon-to-be-released you will receive the e-book once it debuts.

So tell your friends to join us because we’ve got tons of goodies in store for you each month.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Seven Stages of Editing Grief



We've all been there--had a meltdown because a story we wrote and loved has been torn apart by an editor.  Karen McGrath, an editor and writer, has described this process as the "Seven Stages of Editing Grief."  She usually tells her authors they'll go through the stages of editing grief and not to feel bad if they do. 

She also stresses to them that her goal is to fix any editing issue while preserving their unique voice, and if at any time they feel she hasn't done that, they should let her know so she can remedy it.  Here they are for your enjoyment!

1. Denial - "That editor doesn't know what she's talking about.  My manuscript was fine 'til she got hold of it." 

2. Pain & Guilt - "I can't believe this is such a mess.  If only I used that word there, I wouldn't be stung by that stupid red pen." 

3. Anger - "What the *%$&# does that chick think she's doing?  Does she even know how to write?" 

4. Depression - "Why did the publisher ever send me a contract?  I should have been an architect." 

5. Acquiesence - "Well, maybe I should look at this and see what she has to say.  I mean, she's supposed to fix things, right?  How bad can it be?" 

6. Reconstruction - "Hey, this is fairly decent, in fact some of these changes make the story stand out a little better than before." 

7.  Hope - "Wow, this is pretty cool.  I wonder what else I can fix to make it more compelling?!"

Now, here's a little about Karen's own writing:

Patchwork Path, Christmas Stocking  (memoir)

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Choice Publishing Group, LLC
Release Date: September 2010
Price: $15.95
ISBN: 978-0-9816643-7-8
Choice Publishing Group is proud to present Patchwork Path: Christmas Stocking with a selection of heartwarming, charming, funny, and inspirational holiday stories from forty-one American authors.
http://patchworkpath.com/index.php/patchwork-path-books/23-patchwork-path-christmas-stocking

Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon from MuseItUp Publishing,
A paranormal romantic mystery novel releasing April 2011
Attorney Kylie Watson returns to Brazil to mourn her missionary parents where she's swept into the Amazon's current with vivid nightmares, family secrets, church corruption and international espionage.

Do you want the truth, or something you can live with?
Love in the Time of Mortals from MuseItUp Publishing
A paranormal romance short story for Muse Summer Romances releasing August, 2011.
Lucille Lamphere checks into her Caribbean hotel hideaway for her annual memorial to her husband who drowned on their honeymoon years ago.  This year, fate has another surprise...
Sometimes love slips through your fingers only to return like waves on the sea.

 
Karen McGrath lives in Boston, MA with her husband, their two teens, and Kitten. They are all writers including Kitten, who makes hieroglyphics on the kitchen counter with pilfered sugar from the sugar bowl. Karen is an author and content editor for MuseItUp Publishing. She writes novels, short stories and memoir. www.karenmcgrathauthor.com

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rebecca Ryals Russell




Today my guest is young adult author, Rebecca Ryals Russell.  Ms. Russell's book, Seraphym Wars Book 1: Odessa will be released by MuseItUp Publishing in April, 2011.


1)    Tell me a little about your book.

Seraphym Wars Book 1: Odessa is a YA Dark Fantasy. Odessa is the first in a series of 4 or 5. It is about Myrna Watts who at 18 is yanked from her home on Earth after witnessing the burning alive of her brother. She finds herself on a primal planet filled with demon-dragons. She reluctantly learns that to return home she must fulfill her destiny written by prophecy thousands of years earlier. In order to do that she must find the remaining 6 teens called The Vigorios and get them all to the island of the Majikals where they will train to battle the demons alongside the Seraphym in the final battle between Good and Evil.

2)    What gave you the idea for this particular story?
The series is based on actual news events of atrocities committed around the world on a daily basis. The storyline has been rattling around my head for about 30 years waiting to come to fruition on the page.

3)    Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I am now a full-time writer. I retired from teaching Middle Grades 3 years ago in order to write. I basically write all day whenever I get a chance. I still have school-aged kids at home so there are many breaks throughout the day to run them here or there, help with homework, fix meals, etc. I also stay up late into the night in order to write once everyone is in bed. During the school year that is harder to do because I have a morning school run.

4)    When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I have been writing since I could hold a pencil. I still have the stories and poems I wrote from age 8 onward – most are even illustrated. In college I had quite a few stories and poems published in the college literary magazine.

5)    What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
It is my hope that kids and adults who read my books will begin looking at the news with new eyes. I fear too many people don’t see the creeping evil that is easing its way into our lives like a snail that eats a plant before you realize it’s even there.

6)    Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I write Picture Books, Middle Grade Fantasy, and YA Dark Fantasy. I love writing all three.

7)    What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
The hardest part of being a writer is the promoting because I’d rather be writing and I’m shy about talking to people face to face about my book or myself.

8)    Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Many of the events in my book are based on news accounts. The opening scene where Myrna sees her brother burned to death occurred in Florida recently when a young boy was severely burned because he borrowed money from another boy and could not pay him back. I also talk about the girl who was raped after the prom in California and dogs thrown to their deaths from an overpass in Florida; I could go on and on. There is just so much evil in the world I could not imagine any worse events for my own story.

9)    How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
A little, but she is actually a conglomeration of my children. She is shy like me and capable like me and my children. Unlike us, however, she accepts her situation a lot easier than we would, I think. I believe I would be paralyzed if confronted by demons or dragons.

10)    What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I actually did a lot of research. I had to search for the news accounts, Latin translations for place names, historical information on witchcraft and demons, geographical data to build the world, and astrology and baby names to create my characters.

11)    Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
I don’t have a lot of trouble with violent scenes, but I think mine may be pretty basic. I haven’t tried writing sex scenes since I write for kids, but I would have a lot of trouble if I tried. I keep the romance pretty tame.

12)    What about your book makes it special?
My book is unique because it uses actual news accounts without much tweaking.

13)    What is your marketing plan?
I’m in the process of developing my plan.

14)    Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have several places readers can see more:
http://rebeccaryalsrussell.com
http://seraphymwars.com
http://museituppublishing.com/musepub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=98&Itemid=82

15)    Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Read, read, read in the genre of your interest, make tons of notes and practice what you like by writing, writing, writing.

Rebecca, thank you for being my guest today and sharing your writing life.