Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Evil Within, Pat Dale


Today's guest is MuseItUp Publishing's author, Pat Dale.  Pat is discussing his January release The Evil Within.

 

AUTHOR:  Pat Dale
BOOK TITLE:  THE EVIL WITHIN
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing

Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
If you asked my wife about me, she’d probably respond with one word: intense. When I pursue something, I do it with passion. I was a musician, composer, and teacher for decades, and had a very satisfying career. I’d always written short stories and poems, and had an itch to become a novelist. After I retired from teaching, I had time to pursue it, and here I am.

Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
      THE EVIL WITHIN comes out in January, 2012. It is a mainstream saga that follows the path of war-weary Adam Watson after he suffers from PTSD and comes back to his Ozark home to recover. Thinking he’s found refuge from the evil he’d seen in Iraq, he learns that the same kind of evil exists in his home town, his family, and even in himself. It is an engaging book but not for the faint of heart.
How long have you been writing?
      I began my first novel in the spring of 1996. Interestingly, it is still being revised and polished. After that 100K+ monster was completed, I turned to a more romantic style, one that follows my work to the present time, though Evil is a real departure. Not remotely romantic, though there are love scenes in the book!
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
      While in undergraduate college, my English profs tried to convince me to become a novelist; said my writing was spectacular. I was a musician, first and foremost, so I pursued a music career with that intensity I mentioned earlier. As for what inspired me in that first novel effort, it was sunbeams reflecting off the gorgeous hair of a waitress in my favorite cafĂ©. Wacky, eh? I watched her flirting with her boyfriend who’d come in for coffee, and thought up a ‘what-if’, and three months later, I had a huge manuscript all but done. And it’s still all but done. Go figure…
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
      I do not. Tried that once and the novel never got off the ground. One of my failings, but after I write about a character in action, my brain tells me I’ve already written it, so leave it alone. Now you know I’m wacky.
    As I said with the first effort, I imagine a character and a storyline that puts the character into a situation, and off I go. I’m blessed with a wild imagination, and for whatever reason can develop subplots, foretelling, planting, and all the other writer devices as I go. Blessing or curse? I’m not sure which.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?
      One character comes to life in my brain, and soon after that a plot.
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
      Let me start with pity. In The Evil Within, I have a supporting girl, Kelly, for whom I feel guilt for writing her into the outcome she suffered. I can’t give it away since nobody has read the book yet, but she is a truly tragic figure.
    As for fear, I’d say that would be Jane Rivers, the protagonist from my recently published psychological suspense novel, Crossed Lines. She is warped from early life by unfortunate circumstances, dysfunctional, and a schemer, but brilliant. And she treats her enemies with no measure of compassion. Yes, I’d fear that woman.
    Now for hate, I’d have to say that would be Win Biscayne, the antagonist in my to-be-released in April mystery novel, Toccata. He preys on young girls and does unspeakably evil things to them. Yes, in his case, hate and revulsion.
    As to love, this is the hard part. I have many characters I enjoyed bringing to life, but if I had to choose one, it have to would be Hayward Lazarus/Rick Diamond from A Girl’s Best Friend. Laz shows heroic drive, desperate cunning, and a heart of gold when he sets up his own death to thwart a national security crisis. And lives to tell about it. 

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
      I tend to have strong empathy for my characters, even ones such as Jane whom I mentioned above. The hardest part for me is writing any of them into death scenes. I love killing off bad guys, but confess to shedding tears when the good guys die.
Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?
      Some do and some don’t. I tend to follow the old saw of ‘write what you know’, but sometimes I have to do a measure of research to get my facts straight. For Best Friend, I had to go to some lengths to make sure the scenes from Amsterdam were accurate enough, that folks in Holland will believe I’ve been there. It helped that one of my daughters had been there and could verify what I’d researched.
    The Evil Within was originally a NaNoWriMo project and took 30 days to complete the rough draft. Thinking I’d dropped a bomb, imagine my surprise when I went back to it two months later and found a very solid basis for the finished novel. All I had in the beginning was an idea about a soldier, damaged by war, and seeking solitude in his home. I used my own childhood setting for the story because the culture there is not much changed from the middle of the last century.

What are some of the challenges in your writing process?
      Thankfully, I’ve been able to sidestep many of the problems writers face. My biggest challenge now is physical. My eyesight is starting to fail, and my right pinkie collapses when I reach for the shift tab. Things like that frustrate me, but I have to take it in stride. I continually remind myself of what it would be like to tap out my enormous books on an old typewriter, and have to use whiteout for the mistakes, not to mention the drudgery of constantly having to type out revisions and the like. Writing in the olden times was torturous under any other circumstances. Thank to powers that be for computers and word processors!

What books or authors have influenced your writing?
      I grew up reading John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway. They and many of the classic American writers have been a huge influence. John Grisham for dramatic prose, and Nora Roberts for romance, are also in the mix. Now that I’m writing mysteries, I love Lisa Jackson’s work.

What do you see for the future of publishing and e-books?
      We’re in a real maelstrom of change at the moment. EBooks have not only become legitimate, but are swiftly overtaking paper books in sales. I still love having a printed book with my name emblazoned on it, though. Probably after the turmoil has died down, we’ll see that print on demand has revolutionized the book world. In the old days, a book was on store shelves for a few weeks or months, and then found a dusty spot on the publishers warehouse until it either caught fire again or was dropped from the list. With POD, a book wastes no paper, and is available potentially forever. 

What are your current books out right now and what books are coming up for
release?
               I have three romantic comedies out with Red Rose Publishing, For the Love of Hattie, Goldie’s Bear, and Don’t Bet on It. Whimsical Publications has published two, A Girl’s Best Friend and Crossed Lines. Awe-struck/Mundania released four to date, Sleeping with her Enemy, Dance with the Devil, Zach’s Amazing Dream Machine, and Blue Streaks, with two more on their way, The Evil Within in January and Toccata in April. I currently have four more manuscripts not yet published, and several others in the works.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
      Above all else, approach the fiction world with patience, and only then after you’ve written more than one book, preferably more. There are maybe 30 million word processors and because you’ve written a novel on one does not mean it is ready for prime time. If your writing is good, it’ll be even better when you’ve honed it to within an inch of its life. Good in this business is not good enough. Better is marginal, but if you want to catch the eye of folks who can advance your budding career, go for nothing but the best you can do. Excellence rises as cream from milk. Give it a little time and its ready to flavor your coffee. Stir it too much or too soon and you only weaken the flavor.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
      I have a website: http://www.patdale.net
    http://www.mundania.com  click on Awe-Struck titles


 EXCERPT:

Blending into dense foliage, Adam focused on his target. Sensing danger, the rabbit stopped foraging. Adam’s eagle vision locked on his prey, his finger tightening on the trigger as beads of sweat dribbled into his eyes. He blinked. And blinked again.
Before he could squeeze off a round the sounds and smells of battle echoed in his brain—warning cries from his buddies, the hard metallic thump of an RPG hitting their Bradley. And then their screams!
The eyes of the rabbit had changed; green, advancing on him. He wanted to pull the trigger but frozen in panic, he couldn’t.
“Adam! Don’t shoot! It’s me!”
Adam blinked again. How the hell did Uncle Ernie get here?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Nathan Yocum author of The Zona



AUTHOR: Nathan L. Yocum
BOOK TITLE: The Zona
PUBLISHER: SpecLit Masters
BUY LINK: http://www.amazon.com/The-Zona-ebook/dp/B0056A25BG/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1
Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
            I’m a lot of things.  Or better put, I’m not content being any one thing for very long.  When I was a young child I had a list of things I wanted to do with my life; actor, lawyer, writer, teacher, comedian, archeologist.  My life has followed that path.  I was an actor in my teens, a lawyer in my twenties, I’m a teacher now.  The writing thing is new and I love the freshness of it.  Especially writing during a turning point in the industry (the e-publishing revolution to be precious).
            As to the question of what I write, I mostly write science fiction and noir.  I enjoy both of those genres, but I also know it’s only a matter of time before I try something new.                                                 
Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
            The Zona is a post apocalyptic western.  Early reviews have compared it to a twisted up version of Sergio Leones “Man with No Name” trilogy.  I agree whole heartedly with this assessment.
How long have you been writing?
            I wrote the first draft of The Zona three years ago and shelved it.  I’ve always written stories, but I didn’t take it seriously or actively pursue a writing career until last March.
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
            The Zona exists in a post apocalyptic version of Arizona that is not far from the memories of Arizona I hold from childhood.  Everything there is hot, dry, and poisonous.  
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?

I’ll outline a little, but I don’t always adhere to it.  I do a lot more researching than outlining.
                                   
What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Definitely characters.  It’s their world, they dictate the plot.  To me, good writing comes from a meditative state where I’m watching the characters as images in my head, operating in a fully realized world.  In essence I become an observer.
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?     
I love the character Terrence Wood.  Terrence Wood is me.  That said, I hate what I do to Terrence in this story.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing.  If your brain already knows the story, it isn’t going to focus on finding errors.  Self-editing is a herculean task.
Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?
Lots and lots of research.  I did extensive research on global warming, doomsday scenarios, bounty hunting, guns (modern and classic), desert survival, Christianity, etc., etc., etc.
What are some of the challenges in your writing process?

Editing.  Self-editing is a bear.  A big woolly bear.

Describe your writing space.
Cheap black desk in a small white room.  Generic thrift store art on the walls.  The room smells like stale booze and me.  I like my laptop, though.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I teach.  I run an SAT prep company.
What books or authors have influenced your writing?

I’ll go by authors: Cormac McCarthy, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Bukowski, Stephen King, William Gibson
What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?           
            Print publishing will never die, but it’s value will be substantially reduced, like record players.  At some point, paper books will be more of an ascetic choice then anything else.  E-publishing will expand and grow in popularity.  Large publishers will panic at first, but the more innovative ones will redirect their resources and adjust.
What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for
release?           
            Of course there’s The Zona.  Also, I’m publishing a literary ezine, SpecLit Masters.  The idea behind the magazine is to adopt a classic master of speculative literature (the first issue is HP Lovecraft) and have modern writers create stories in that master’s style.
            I’m also featured in the upcoming Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road anthology.
What is your marketing plan?
            Sell books for money.  Use money to buy things.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
             Finish your first draft before you even think of editing.  You can make a beautiful sculpture out of garbage, but not nothing.                                               
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
           Speclitmaster.blogspot



Friday, January 27, 2012

Children's author Marvin Mayer

Today's guest is children's author Marvin Mayer who released his book through 4RV Publishing.




AUTHOR:  Marvin S. Mayer
BOOK TITLE:  Ferdinand Frog’s Flight
PUBLISHER:   4RV Publishing


1.     Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.
Started writing about 4 years ago.  Was encouraged by my wife and friends, and I enjoy writing.

2.     Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?
I’d have to consider myself a part-time writer since I am an active volunteer in a variety of other organizations.  However, I am not otherwise gainfully employed.  I retired in April, 2007.  I do my best writing early in the morning, so I try to devote a couple of hours to the craft each morning.

3.     What influences your writing?
The desire to put something together that others will enjoy reading, or have read to them.

4.     Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?
This is my 2nd book to be published.  I have also been published in 3 different magazines and expect to be published in 2 writing group anthologies to be released later this year.

5.     Why did you choose to write a children's story?
As noted above, I enjoy bringing happiness into the life of a youngster, and I also want to encourage children to be better (and more dedicated) readers than I have been.

6.     What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
Fairly routine.  Wrote the text, had it critiqued by my writing peers, submitted it to some publishers, waited for a publisher to accept it, edited certain parts to meet the requirements of the publisher, “nominated” an illustrator who was on the publisher’s list of illustrators and was pleasantly surprised to have my first (illustrator)choice agree to illustrate my story, wait for a release date, buy books, and start selling them.

7.     What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
As long as I can find a traditional publisher willing to publish what I write, I have no interest in self publishing.  If/when I no longer can find a traditional publisher who wants to work with me, I may consider self publishing.

8.     What is your marketing strategy?
Seize every opportunity that comes along.  Contact everyone on my address books, attend as many book signings as possible, attend local and regional festivals (particularly those relating to my book’s subject matter,) attempt to do school visits, spread flyers throughout my neighborhood, and … when I get more knowledge about it, use social media.

9.     What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?
I have not used an agent, but admit to attempting to find one.  My feeling about an agent is that one can (1) put my manuscript in front of publishers who might otherwise be inaccessible to me, and (2) help me expand my market (geographically.)

10.  Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

11.  Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
Find and join a writer’s group in your community.  If none exists locally, try neighboring communities.  Become part of a critique group.  Be open to constructive criticism, and attend at least one workshop/conference annually.  Keep writing!


12.  Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.
Ferdinand Frog’s Flight is the story of a frog who, since he was a tadpole, wanted to be able to fly.  For a creature without wings, that’s a pretty lofty dream.  However, with the help of some winged friends, Ferdinand manages to soar among the clouds.  That’s when he discovers that flying … well, let’s just say it gave him a new perspective about getting around.  This book was published by 4RV Publishing, and was released in July, 2011.  It can be purchased through the publisher, or from my website, or through some of the traditional on line marketers (B&N.com, Amazon.com).


               

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Children's Author, Dawn Babb Prochovnic


Today's guest is children's author, Dawn Prochovnic.  She has authored a series Story Time with Signs and Rhymes.



AUTHOR:  Dawn Babb Prochovnic
BOOK TITLE:  Story Time with Signs & Rhymes (8 new books in this series including, “Four Seasons! Five Senses!” “Hip, Hip, Hooray! It’s Family Day!” “There’s a Story in My Head,” and “Shape Detective.”)
PUBLISHER:  Abdo Publishing Group
Or see updated information at her web site:


Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.

When I was in the 8th grade I authored a poetry book that I gave to my mom on Mother’s Day.  That is my earliest recollection of considering myself a writer. In the years that followed, high school essays, college term papers, and corporate white papers gradually replaced my creative writing time. 

Fast-forward nearly 20 years later, when I rediscovered my passion for creative writing:  In the year 2000 I started SmallTalk Learning, a company that specializes in teaching sign language workshops for hearing infants/toddlers, young children, and their grown-ups. The instructional materials I developed for my classes began to take the shape of theme-based children’s stories. In the summer of 2004, I attended my first of many writing conferences, and I formed a critique group so that I could refine my writing skills and learn about the publishing world. After many rounds of critique, countless revisions, and heaps of submissions and rejections, I signed my first publishing contract in March of 2008.  I now have 16 picture books published and several more in various stages of development—some that are making their rounds through publisher’s slush piles and others that are still being fine-tuned.


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, but I approach my writing work with a full-time mentality.  I aim to write every week.  As a serious writer, I realize I’m supposed to say that I write every day, but the reality is that some weeks I don’t. I set creative writing goals for myself every week.  The first part of each week I send an email to the co-founder of my critique group to share my creative writing goals for the coming week and report on the status of the past week’s goals. I’m the mother of two active children, and I keep busy running my business and volunteering in my community, so I have to consciously set aside time to write. I treasure my writing time like a gift.  I do not have a regular time or place that I write, but I am always noodling ideas in my head. Sometimes I write at my desk or at the kitchen table; sometimes I write while I’m waiting to pick my kids up from a sporting practice; and sometimes I stay up late to write.  I am not an effective morning writer.    

What influences your writing?

I think it would be easier to summarize what doesn’t influence my writing!  I feel like my writing is influenced by just about everything around me.  Books were a big part of my childhood, and I know that Dr. Seuss is in my bones.  For more current inspiration, I watch and listen to my own children, I closely observe the children I meet in my classes and at school/library visits, and I read countless children’s books.

Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?

The books in the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes series are my first published works for children. Throughout my career I have published a variety of articles in professional magazines and trade journals, and my master’s thesis, which focused on the topic of blending work and family, was published in the year 2000. Writing has been a big part of all of my professional endeavors, and in my personal life I continue to employ the old fashioned custom of writing letters and love notes to friends and family.       

Why did you choose to write a children's story?

The stories I have written for the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes series simply insisted on being written. As a sign language instructor, I was aware of the fact that there were no books for children that met the need I was looking to fill.  There were picture dictionaries that showed a single word like apple or ball, along with the illustration for that word and the illustration for a the American Sign Language sign for that word, and there were more sophisticated books for middle school-aged children that explored sign language more deeply.  There were also fairy tales that had been translated into sign language, but there were no original stories that incorporated early childhood concepts like colors/animals/feelings, along with rhythm and/or rhyme and American Sign Language.  My stories filled a gap in the marketplace.

The stories I’ve written outside of the Story Time series have emerged as I’ve learned to listen to the creative voice lurking deep inside me.     

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?

One of the books I have coming out in January is entitled, “There’s a Story in My Head.”  The first morsels of this story came to me when I was flying home from Disney Land with my family several years ago. I was thinking about how sometimes I have an idea for a story in my head, but when I try to write it down, it somehow evaporates into a weak jumble of words. I started thinking more about how this idea could expand to other parts of the body, like there are stories on the tip of my tongue just waiting to be told, and stories in my fingertips waiting to be typed out. I kept hearing a refrain in my head that went something like, “There’s a story on my tongue. I can taste it when I’m eating. There’s a story in my eyes. I can see it through a lens.  There’s a story in my heart. Listen closely to it beating.  Imagine all the stories I can write!”  The story evolved from there. It’s not unusual for my rhyming stories to be inspired by a rhythmic idea or word pattern. I was a drummer in my middle school band, and I think that is related to my connection with the rhythm and patterns in words!




What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?

I explored a variety of options when I was looking for a publishing home for my first books.  In the end I decided that I wanted to be a writer and not a publisher, so I focused my energy on finding a publisher that was a good fit for the books I was marketing.  That said, I think the publishing market is changing rapidly, and I believe there are going to be many twists and turns before we settle on something we can comfortably call “the new normal.”  I’m open-minded about what the future might hold.

What is your marketing strategy?

I think there are many levels of marketing.  When I’m reaching out to potential publishers with a new manuscript, I think of myself as a marketer.  I research publishers and editors thoroughly before submitting my work, and I do my best to craft cover letters that portray my understanding of the marketplace and how my work fits into it.  With my published works, I engage in a wide variety of outreach activities to promote my work including conducting school and library visits, presenting at professional conferences, coordinating private book events for play groups and scout troops, maintaining a current website with an online store, and participating in social media tools such as Facebook. In the coming year I plan to start a blog that focuses on several of the topics I am interested in such as early literacy, sign language, developing young writers, and teaching tips and strategies.     

What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?

When I attended my first writing conference in 2004 the common thinking was that it was nearly as hard to get an agent as it was to get an editor and that children’s writers really didn’t need to have an agent.  Since then the tide seems to have shifted, largely because so many houses are now closed to un-agented submissions.  I tend to focus my submissions on editors I have had some contact with via prior submissions and/or writing conferences, or, as I mentioned previously, I thoroughly research the market and target my submission to a particular editor I have “come to know” through my research.  That said, I do find that this process robs me of time that could otherwise be spent writing new books or marketing my published books. I do plan to give an agent search more consideration in the coming year, though given that I primarily write picture books, the field of agents for my type of work is not expansive.      

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

They can follow me on facebook (Dawn Babb Prochovnic), or visit my website, smalltalklearning.com, and follow one of the quick links on the left of the page such as, “Visit Dawn’s Author Website.”

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?

The most important tip I can offer other writers is to read heaps and heaps of children’s books.  Study the books that sing to your heart, and learn to identify what it is about those books that touch you in some way.  In addition, I would encourage writers to join or form a critique group, and listen to the feedback the group offers with a spirit of curiosity.  Lastly, I would encourage other writers to brace for rejection, because writing children’s books is not an endeavor for the faint of heart!

Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

I have eight new books in the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes series coming out in Jaunary.  The titles in this second series include: “Four Seasons! Five Senses!” “Hip, Hip, Hooray! It’s Family Day!” “There’s a Story in My Head,” and “Shape Detective.” Each rhythmic story explores an early childhood concept such as parts of the body or shapes, and the book design incorporates American Sign Language signs into each page spread, inviting children (and their grown-ups!) to sign along with the story.  The books can be obtained directly from my publisher (abdopub.com), via the “store” tab on my author website accessed from smalltalklearning.com, through online booksellers such as Amazon.com, and by special request from other booksellers.  Pre-orders are available now, and orders will be shipped starting no later than mid-January.    




Excerpt from “For Seasons! Five Senses!”

It is winter!
I see a sled. I see some skis.
I hear a sniffle and a sneeze.

My hands feel cold. As cold as ice.
My nose smells peppermint and spice.

I love the taste of chicken soup on a cozy winter day.

Excerpt from “Hip Hip Hooray! It’s Family Day!”

Mommy loves to dance with me. Whirly, twirly, spin!
Daddy loves to tickle me. Wiggly, giggly, grin!
Sister swings so high with me. Swooshy, whooshy, soar!
Brother runs so fast with me. Rompy, stompy, score!