Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Supporting Leader Dogs for the Blind, J.T. Baroni

The author and his brother with leader dog.

Today's guest is donating a portion of his book's proceeds to The Leader Dogs for the Blind.

BOOK TITLE: The Legend of Rachel Petersen
PUBLISHER: Damnation Books LLC

Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
I am fifty-five years of age and have lived in Pennsylvania all my life. Happily married, I have a fifteen-year old son. The three of us share our home with a psychotic AKC Boxer named Butkus. Although my debut novel is a paranormal thriller, I don’t restrict myself to one genre. I write about anything that inspires me.

Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.     
Outraged when The Post Gazette overlooks him for a promotion, 39 years old Sports Writer Christian Kane quits and moves to the country to write fiction. Inspiration flows from a lone grave he stumbles upon in the woods. He compiles The Legend of Rachel Petersen, a fascinating story revolving around the dead twelve-year-old girl laid to rest beneath the weathered tombstone. His book quickly becomes a best seller; then Hollywood turns it in to a blockbuster movie. Kane becomes rich and famous, but only to have Rachel rise from the grave to seek revenge on him for slandering her name! Or does she? My story has a killer double twist at the ending.

How long have you been writing?
I have always toyed with words in birthday cards, some poetry and I had a couple of song lyrics put professionally to melodies that a music publisher is currently shopping to the TV industry. However, I only got serious about my writing in the last three years.
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?        
Ever since an early age, I always enjoyed great literature and thought, “I could write a story”. To me, writers always had that aura of charm and mystique, while enjoying that dignified persona of an intellect; perhaps just in the way they mastered the language and exemplified their imagination. I admired writers while being envious of them in the way the public adored them. Having just said that, I realize now that I must have subconsciously harbored a desire to not only achieve their status, but to be recognized as a writer myself, and I challenged myself to reach that plateau, which I feel I have accomplished. When I found a lone grave in the middle of the woods, a story was begging to be written.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?     
I never use an outline; rather I simply sit down and start writing, page after page until I tire. Then, when I start the next writing session, I critique and edit what I had written, and add more pages. To some writers, it may seem an unorthodox process, but I usually always start at the beginning and fine tooth comb every word, then add more. When I’m satisfied with the beginning couple of chapters, I’ll start the next one in the same manner. When I feel the book is completed, I read it from front to back several times, looking for errors and any ways to improve it.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?                                                                          
Usually, I have the plot pop into my mind first and then I build the supporting role of characters; but I’ve also had a protagonist come to mind who screamed for a plot, like Jack Trotter, a muscle bound, dirty detective that you love to hate, while admiring him.
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
In The Legend of Rachel Petersen, I’d say I love the attractive Shelby Kane the most because she is the sweet, devoted, caring and supportive wife who understands how sex is more psychological arousing to a man than actually being a mere physical marital duty. I hate the Gatlin brothers because of the heinous crime they commit upon an already emotionally disturbed little girl. Those two inbred scoundrels would also commandeer the fear factor from me, knowing what they are capable of doing to a fellow human being. Rachel deserves the pity for the miserable childhood she endures and the much too early cruel death she suffers.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
That would be keeping my butt in the chair, typing, while knowing my garden was turning into a weed bed, and listening to my fly rod constantly crying out to me that the trout were rising in the brook.
Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?  

Not a whole lot of research, but since my story took place during the Civil War and then carried forward into the 1950s, I had to research those dates and facts. The Legend of Rachel Petersen took me a year and a half to complete it to the point where I liked the end product.

What are some of the challenges in your writing process?                                                        

Other than keeping my butt behind the monitor screen long enough to actually write a story? Not too many, except for using proper punctuation, I have a rough time getting the quotation marks correct. Damnation Book’s editor must have axed five hundred commas from my manuscript. She said I used too many. I rebutted that I used them for effect. My character’s dialog comes easy to me, as does describing the settings.

Describe your writing space.                                                                                                        
A cramped little den with an obsolete computer that suits my demands just fine.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?                                                                       
I fish, hunt, cook, play chess and tinker in my vegetable garden.
What books or authors have influenced your writing?                                                                       

The Devil’s Advocate and The Sixth Sense are two of my favorite stories that heavily influenced the plot structure for my novel, The Legend of Rachel Petersen. I would love to break bread with the greats such as Harold Robbins, Steinbeck, Twain and of course King and Spielberg, so I could pick their brain and learn to think as they do. How do they come up with an original idea, how do they write in general. Just to be in their presence would undoubtedly be an adrenalin rush.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?

Look how many small and independent brick and mortar bookstores have closed shop, while all the big boys went on-line! With the Kindle and other book reading devices, e-book sales, in my opinion, will generate more sales than hard copies in the following years.

What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for release?       
The Legend of Rachel Petersen is my debut novel, and it’s the only book I’ve had published. Jimmy’s Crab Shack, where my protagonist is Jack Trotter, is still in my editing process, getting shoved to the back burner while I am busy promoting The Legend of Rachel Petersen, which I hope to write the sequel for.

What is your marketing plan?                                                                                                    

Having nice bloggers such as Penny Ehrenkranz having me as their guest on my blog tour! I did a local TV interview, newspaper articles, radio, word of mouth, business cards, with my wife posting my novel on her Facebook page. I’ve been busy getting reviews and posting on writer’s boards.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?                                                          

Learn to do what works for you. Try different ways, such as an outline or a tape recorder. However, the most important point is to put words on paper, or on the monitor; that is the basic start. Research how to write a good story, and then write, write, write! Proper grammar, punctuation, a dictionary, and a thesaurus are all necessary tools. Try not to use the same word repeatedly. The biggest word of advice I can offer is, show the story, don’t tell it. Example, “Becky was sad”, versus, “Becky’s head sank slowly to her chest as her lower lip began to quiver and a tear rolled down her cheek.” Does the classic line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” come to mind, as how to write badly?

Where can people learn more about you and your work?                                                            

My loving, supportive wife built my website, Please drop by! And my Author’s Page at Amazon:


            “She’s been... talkin’ to you?” he interrupted once again, looking at Thaddeus as if the boy was certified mentally ill. “No, Boy. She ain’t talkin’ to you. That’s your conscious tellin’ you that you did something really awful. Your conscious won’t let you sleep at night. Will it, Boy? Every time you close your eyes, you see her beautiful little face with those big green eyes an’ her red…”
            “No! Please hear me out, Mr. Woodley. Please, sir,” Thaddeus interrupted loudly. Then he talked fast, hoping the old man would not interrupt him anymore, allowing him to explain why he was there. “She spelt out the words help me in my vegetable soup. Then me an’ my brother Seth were playin’ Monopoly, an’ she turned the dice over to a two. I figger it was two people that hung her an’ she didn’t hang herself like everybody says. Then an owl showed Seth an’ me pieces of rope on a beam in my Pa’s barn that is too high for a little girl to throw a rope over. I even seen her, Mr. Woodley...standin’ by your mailbox an’ pointin’ to your house every day this week goin’ to school.”
            The old man leaned forward and buried his face in his hands, slowly shaking his head from side to side.
            “It’s not in my head, I tell ya. My brother seen all what she did too. My Mom an’ Pa seen when she blew the candles out on my birthday cake. She ain’t restin’, Mr. Woodley. I’m tellin’ ya she won’t rest in eternal peace until the truth is spoken. She kinda told me in school today that everything said about her is all lies. I think she knows...that you...know the truth. If you didn’t know her like you say, Mr. Woodley...then how come you knew she was buried with a rosary?”
            “Because my Mother put it on her before my Daddy an’ me buried her!” the old man hollered out, leaning forward as far as he could into Thaddeus’s face. The boy leaned back and tottered on the bike.
            Then Mr. Woodley slumped back in his rocker and closed his bad eye but resumed squinting through the other one. Then he spoke in a lowered voice, as if confessing on his deathbed to a priest, “Ain’t a day goes by...that I don’t think of that poor little girl.” He raised his hand to wipe away a tear, and then continued, “I was maybe twelve, an’ so was she. Her Daddy sent her here to live with her aunt when her mother died. It musta been pure hell for that little girl. Rachel wouldn’t talk to anybody, except for me, that is. My daddy said it was cause I reminded her of her brother back in Ohio, but it made me feel special like anyways.”
            Thaddeus leaned closer so he could hear better. 
            “I would go to her house, your house now, just about everyday. We would play hide an’ seek in the barn or catch frogs by the pond. Some days we would just sit an’ talk. But I always brought a couple of apples, an’ we’d feed the horses. She really liked this one big black stallion in particular that Josef Tremont owned. It was a magnificent horse.”
            Thaddeus sensed the old man had softened up a bit, so he laid the bike down and sat on the top step. He also sensed that this was the first time Mr. Woodley ever spoke about Rachel. To anyone.
            The old man closed the squinting eye and laid his head on the back of his rocking chair. “I went over there one’ the place was...quiet. Too quiet! The men folk weren’t workin’ the fields...her Aunt wasn’t hangin’ clothes or making soap outside. I looked for’ I went in the barn.” He choked up and tears came to his eyes. He needed a moment to continue, and then he swallowed real hard. Then he cried out between sobs, “I found her…Dear God, yes I did!” He pulled his hanky from his rear pocket and wiped his eyes and blew his nose. 

Mr. Baroni is donating a portion of his book’s proceeds to The Leader Dogs for the Blind, located in Rochester Hills , Michigan. This organization has been training Leader Dogs and placing them with blind people, free of charge, since 1939, and they have achieved this amazing feat all from donations. The reason he wants to sponsor a Leader Dog is because his older brother, Gene, was born blind, and is currently on his third canine companion.

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