Friday, May 30, 2014

Marva Dasef, Missing, Assumed Dead, #giveaway #audiobook

There is a giveaway note at the bottom of the post, so be sure to look for it. There will be multiple winners so leave your contact information, and you'll get a coupon for a free audio book.

AUTHOR: Marva Dasef

### Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a native-born Oregonian who’s returned to my home state after working in both California and Washington for many years. I live with my husband, Jack, our two cats, with my mom across the street.

I retired from a long career as a technical documentation specialist and programmer/analyst. When I got to quit, I figured it was time I use my thirty-five years of writing experience producing fictional works. If you’ve ever been a tech writer, you’re often in the position of writing fiction and hoping the programmers will make it true.

### Please tell us your latest news.

I’ve begun transferring my books into audio format. Everything I have is already out in print and multiple ebook formats, so audio is the next frontier. When I have a good handle on that, I’ll go back to writing new material.

### Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

Presently, I’m more of a full-time publisher and marketer than writer. I keep up with blogging regularly, interacting on various social media. I’m considering, given my background and the fact I do it all the time anyway, to become a professional editor. With the proliferation of self-publishing, there so many writers with great stories to tell, but who need editors...desperately. You know about that, Penny, since you’ve held the line editor gig at more than one small publisher.

### When and why did you begin writing?

I transitioned from technical to fiction writing because I write, but I no longer hold a job as a tech writer.

### What inspired you to write your first book?

Nanowrimo. Prior to that, I wrote a lot of short stories. I wasn’t sure I could write anything approaching a novel. At 50K words, I hit novella length. That let me know I could do longer works.

### What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

Social media, watch out for my mom, watch TV. Hey, I’m retired!

### What are your thoughts about promotion?

Despise it, so it’s not my strong suit.

### What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?

A hundred or so rejections from agents. I finally gave them up as a lost cause. As the publication industry changed, it was probably best I never got an agent anyway. Big 6 publishers are finding out they don’t run the show anymore.

I haven’t had any big compliments I can consider to be milestones in my fiction career. As for tech writing, I had many people think I was a wizard because of how quickly I could produce quality documentation.

### Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?


### Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

Yes. I do other stuff until something comes to mind I just have to write.

### Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

Books. I’ve learned much from every book I’ve published. My books are research intensive, and I’ve found whole plot points and characters when I was looking for something else.

### Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

I’ve had several small publishers. I connected with them by doing whatever there submission guidelines indicated.

### What is your marketing plan?

Don’t have one.

### What are your current projects?

As I said, I’m working with audio books right now. It’s fun because having a narrator is sort of a return to the fun times I had working in theater. Now, I’m the director.

### What do you plan for the future?

I don’t make many long term plans. I don’t have any special goal for the future. My pipedream of being discovered and hitting the best seller lists is the same as every other writer. I am, however, planning to have many of my books published in audio format. I have two audio books out now: “Missing, Assumed Dead” and “Tales of a Texas Boy.”

### How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

Oh, good. Something I can answer factually:
Twitter Handle: @Gurina

### Any other news you’d like to share?
As soon as I finish this interview, my husband and I are headed to Europe for two weeks. As soon as this is posted, I’ll be back home again doing the same old stuff.

BOOK TITLE: Missing, Assumed Dead
GENRE: Mystery/Thriller

###Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

“Missing, Assumed Dead” is a murder mystery set in eastern Oregon. Here’s the logline and blurb:

Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.

When Kameron McBride receives notice she’s the last living relative of a missing man she’s never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs. But since she’s the only one available, she grudgingly agrees.

En route, she runs afoul of a couple of hillbillies and their pickup in an accident that doesn’t seem...accidental. Especially when they keep showing up wherever she goes. Lucky for her, gorgeous Deputy Mitch Caldwell lends her a hand, among other things. Her suspicions increase when the probate Judge tries a little too hard to buy the dead man’s worthless property.

Working on a hunch and trying to avoid the Judge’s henchmen, Kam probes deeper into the town’s secrets and finds almost no one she can trust. With Mitch’s help, she peels away the layers of prejudice, suicide, murder, and insanity. But someone in town doesn’t like her poking around, and when they show their intentions by shooting her through the police chief’s office window, the stakes are raised. Kam must find out what really happened to her dead relative before someone in this backward little town sends her to join him.

And she thought Oregon was going to be boring.

###What gave you the idea for this particular book?

It started as a completely different story. I found some information about an 8-year-old girl who murdered a boy in cold blood. She planned it, talked a friend into helping her out, and strangled her victim. The idea of a child murderer is creepy enough to be interesting. As I planned out the where, what, why, and so on, I kept the idea of a child being involved in a murder, but as a witness rather than the perpetrator.

###Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?

From “Missing, Assumed Dead,” my hate goes for the murderer and the person who helped cover it up; my pity is for the child witness who’s driven off the deep end by what she had seen.

I like my main character because she’s smart, resilient, and determined. She’s everything I’d like to be.

###Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?

Oh, yeah. The research was absolutely essential. I am familiar with the area where the book is set, but I needed to do a lot of mapping, and examining photos to get a clear picture of the desolation and isolation of the Oregon desert country. I also needed to learn more about the White Power groups who  infest eastern Oregon and Idaho. I also had to find out a lot about Basques, the Spanish War when Franco came into power, and how the Basques migrated to and live in eastern Oregon today.

###What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?

Here’s my core bibliography:

Tales of a Texas Boy: A series of related short stories about a boy growing up in West Texas during the Depression. The stories are based on my father’s almost-true tall tales.
Eagle Quest: My Nanowrimo book. Four kids run afoul of eagle poachers in the wildlife preserves of southern Oregon.
First Duty: A dystopian science fiction space opera for the YA audience.
Ultimate Duty: A longer version of First Duty, but with adult situations.
Missing, Assumed Dead: The murder mystery I’ve been talking about here.
The Witches of Galdorheim Series (three books and a short story). The adventures of a girl witch living on an arctic island run on magic.
Setara’s Genie: A middle-eastern 1001 Arabian Nights type story about a girl who gets a genie of dubious worth.
Faizah's Destiny: Another middle-eastern story based on Persian mythology.
### What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
Too many words. This is why writers need an editor with a vicious red pen. So many books repeat the same information over and over. An otherwise good story can be ruined by a writer loving their words too much.

### What books have most influenced your life?
Authors, rather than specific books, include Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Rowling, Laumer, Varley, Stephensen, Gaiman, Pratchett. If you don’t know who these people are, you’d do well to read them.

I’ll be giving out some coupons for free copies of my audio books. Say you’d like one in the comments and how to reach you. No picking and choosing. Everybody gets a coupon (until I run out of them).

Monday, May 26, 2014

Aaron Galvin, Salted, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR: Aaron Galvin

Aaron would be happy to giveaway 3 ebook copies of Salted in either mobi, epub, or pdf formats. As for the requirements, he’d prefer to have:

·      “Like” the Salted fan page on Facebook:
·      Follow Aaron on Twitter:
·      Tweet about the giveaway

Be sure to leave your contact information in your comment as well as links so Aaron can confirm you've completed the requirements.

Please tell us about yourself.
I remain wonderfully confused at both who I am, and who I am meant to be.
The larger part of me will always be Peter Pan, yet becoming a father has forced me to grow up somewhat. I’m a country boy who can pass for a city guy when/if needed. The actor in me enjoys being the center of attention, while my author side prefers the quiet escape of a hermit’s existence.
My wife is a saint for tolerating me.

Please tell us your latest news.
Salted is my debut novel. I was a bit nervous about the release because I’d read loads of statistics that discussed weak openings and/or average numbers of sales for debut authors. Luckily, I had a great experience: Salted found its way inside the Top 50 of Amazon’s 100 Hottest New & Future Releases for Urban Fantasy and stayed there every day of release week. I realize that is a drop in the bucket for many authors, but, for me, it was truly humbling to garner such a fantastic opening. 

What inspired you to write your first book?
My mom.
I had written a different book that received numerous rejections. Naturally, I was moping around about it. Mom told me to suck it up. Write something new. For about an hour, she gave me various prompts.
“Wizards!” she’d say. 
“Yeah…” I’d reply. “Not sure if you know, Mom, but there is this series called Harry Potter...”
“Vampires! Werewolves!”
“Twilight, Mom.”
Finally, she said, “How about mermaids?”
I didn’t have an answer for that. This was back in 2009 when I admittedly hadn’t been reading much. Too busy chasing my dream of becoming an actor. Anyway, I couldn’t think of any mermaid books at the time. The only response I could come back with was that mermaids were for girls. And really what guy wanted to be seen reading about mermaids? They weren’t cool!
Then Mom said something I’ll never forget. “Find a way to make them cool.”
That changed everything. I’m a pretty competitive person. Suddenly I had a challenge. How could I make mermaids cool for guys like me? How could I make them different? 
Salted is the result of that. It took me five years to reach this point, but I like to think I accomplished Mom’s challenge. Readers will decide if that’s true.

What are your thoughts about promotion?
I enjoy promotion and marketing. Some of that could be the newness of it all, but the larger part is I like engaging with people. I also think you must self-promote. Anyone expecting the promotion fairy to knock on their door and whisk the book to the top of the charts is delusional.

The great thing about being an author now is there are so many avenues you can promote through. I’ve found the writing community as a whole exceptionally welcoming and supportive, especially compared to the film/acting world I hail from where everyone is competing for a limited number of jobs. Thus far, I’ve found authors different in that regard. They realize helping one another is the best way for us all to achieve our dreams.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
I’m an optimist. I welcome criticism, so long as it’s coming from an honest place. That doesn’t mean I’ll always agree with it, but I will listen. My mindset is that one has to open themselves up to fresh perspectives or they’ll never improve. That makes it hard to define the toughest criticism given me because I look at criticisms as a learning opportunity. However, an example of a great criticism would be when my editor told me one of my POV characters had to go. I don’t mean killed off or anything like that, only that the chapters should be reworked/told from a different perspective. It was difficult to accept that. A part of me wanted to stomp my feet and say No! You’re wrong! But again, my editor’s argument was sound. I took that critique, ran with it, and my novel is stronger because of it.

The biggest compliment has come from the reviewers who mention I’ve brought a truly unique take/twist to mermaids and selkies that makes them “cool.” That makes me incredibly happy. Not just because I like receiving “put-ups”, but that the compliment came from someone I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting and she had no reason to be anything but honest.

Both the criticism and compliments definitely change my perspective on how I work for the next novel. The criticism because it sharpens my focus if the story strays from the characters I should focus on. The compliment impacts my creativity, specifically how do I keep that level of engagement and surprise for readers. It’s a never-ending struggle to hone my craft. One I mean to take head on.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
Where do I begin? Ha. The knowledge about various marine creatures alone has been a wonderful learning experience. Pushing myself to finish the book and release it to the masses taught me that which one hears so often, but many find it hard to buy into: Whether you believe you can do something or not, you’re right.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

Salted follows a crew of Selkie slave catchers charged with recapturing an elusive runaway. When their target leads them to deeper, darker secrets, the Selkies face a moral quandary. Secure their own freedom, or return empty-handed to face the grisly consequences.

It also features a unique take/twist on mermaids. Most books I’ve seen about Selkies and mermaids are of the paranormal romance sort. Mine has little/no romance involved. I wanted to write a story about merfolk and Selkies that male readers could enjoy without the insta-love and/or love triangles prevalent in YA fiction of late.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
Foremost of all, I hope they enjoy the read.

I also hope it promotes discussion. One of the things I’m proudest of is the diversity in Salted. Traditionally, fantasy protagonists are predominantly Caucasian. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with an all-white cast if the story demands it, only that there is marked room for improvement with promoting greater cast diversity.

Why do you feel qualified to write a children’s or teen novel?
I don’t know that I am qualified. Haha. I’ve always loved YA fiction though.

To my mind, great YA fiction helps younger readers transcend from innocence to the realities of life. That means facing hard truths and responsibility for your decisions. I try to incorporate those themes into my writing because there is more to being a teenager than just who you’re crushing on, or gossiping about the hunky quarterback who broke up with the prom queen. Lasting YA fiction should be about shedding such pettiness and drama because the world quickly expects more of you.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
Definitely. It could be a single paragraph, few pages, or even thirty pages, but I almost always need one in place. I think when writing a series it’s important to know the direction you’re headed and at least the broad strokes of how it will all end. Otherwise you’re liable to lose yourself somewhere in the process.

That doesn’t mean I’m required to stick to the outline. Sometimes a new character’s voice will become stronger that takes me into unknown territory. My character Chidi (pronounced Chee-dee) for instance. In my initial outline, she was a background player only. As I continued writing, however, I found that I couldn’t contain her spirit. She burst onto the pages until I gave way. I can’t imagine the story without her now.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?
Absolutely. I love research. In fact, I now have a library of marine life books!

To my thinking, anytime you can incorporate something physical that a reader can relate to having seen or touched makes the story a bit more real. With my Salt series, I’m writing about seals, sea lions, and other marine creatures. To do that effectively, I needed to learn about the various species—what makes them unique, how to tell them apart, etc. That took a lot of time, but it’s hopefully paying off now in that readers can better imagine these fantastic animals.

I went about my research in a few different ways. One way (and the most fun) was visiting aquariums. I previously worked as a management consultant for about six years and traveled a lot. The great thing about that experience was it gave me the chance to visit a number of aquariums throughout the U.S. So, in a way, I was like my Selkie crew skulking through all these fantastic aquariums. Fortunately, I only sought understanding and didn’t have to recapture a runaway like the Selkies in my book.

The rest of my research came from watching countless documentaries, Discovery channel specials, and reading non-fiction books about the various animals.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
Ninja, warg, confident, ambitious, silly, optimistic, Gryffindor.

What books have most influenced your life?
Stephen King is a big inspiration. I think many people forget he’s not just an author who writes horror. He is truly one of the best, if not the best to my mind, at incorporating elements from all genres to make his stories resonate with readers.

I love many of his books, but my favorite is The Stand, which is where my love of alternating POVs originates. The way King weaves the character storylines, the build up between two forces, and his overall storytelling is nothing short of magnificent.

GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy
PUBLISHER: Aames & Abernathy


Life isn’t better under the sea.

Lenny Dolan is all too familiar with this reality. A Selkie slave in the realm beneath the waves, he has no choice when charged with leading a crew ashore to capture an elusive runaway. If unsuccessful, the loved ones kept behind will pay for his failure with their lives.

But when their target leads Lenny and his crew to deeper, darker secrets, the Selkies are faced with a moral dilemma. Secure their own freedom at the expense of others, or return empty-handed to face the grisly consequences?

How Lenny and his crew answer the question will teach them the harshest truth of all. Only through the loss of innocence does one become Salted.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Christopher L. Hedges, Average Joe’s Story: Quest for Confidence

AUTHOR: Christopher L. Hedges

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I think I’d be categorized as a full-time writer, but I don’t honestly spend all that much time writing. When I was writing Average Joe’s Story I could be in front of the keyboard for twelve to eighteen hours straight, but now that the book is done I have moved onto marketing and I don’t do nearly as much writing. When it comes to the organization of my writing time I spend the first hour or two of a session organizing my thoughts. Then I sit down and write an entire chapter, review what was written, make any changes, and repeat as needed until the section feels right. From that point, I’ll walk away from what was written for a few days then go back and read the manuscript in it’s entirety to make sure everything still feels on-point before moving to the next section.

When and why did you begin writing?

The idea for writing started after I was asked to submit an article to my Toastmaster’s District Newsletter a few years back. I got a lot of positive feedback from fellow Toastmasters that had read the article. From there I wrote the first 8,000 or so words of my first book. I handed a copy of the manuscript to a friend who happened to be a published author. He liked it and told me now I had to finish it. For myself, I had to find something to occupy my time. At the time I had been on disability for nearly a decade dealing with some health issues. I came to terms with the fact that if I ever wanted to pull myself off the welfare system I was going to have to create my own opportunities. So I decided to try writing and we shall see where it goes.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was in the front row of a conference listening to a professional speaker. I turned around to see the audience entranced by the speaker’s every word, feverishly taking notes. It bothered me knowing that these 200 plus people all paid to be there to take notes on subject matter I shared for free. I figured if he can do it so could I, and that moment inspired me write my first book.

What are your thoughts about promotion?

I think that writing the book is the easy part, and promotion is when the real work begins. I think this is where an author truly has the opportunity to separate himself from the crowd. There is so much you can do to make a name for yourself, and the only thing that really holds you back is your imagination. For a writer this should honestly be a nonissue. Promotion is an area that if you have a quality book and you are willing to consistently grind it out, you can develop a real name for yourself.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

Morgan James Publishing is publishing Average Joe’s Story: Quest for Confidence, and if I have anything to say about it they will publish all of my future books too. I was talking to Wesley Whittaker, the coauthor of several financial books (most recently The Little Book of Venture Capital Investing) about my plans. I told Wes that my ego didn’t need the pat on the back that comes from having a publisher, but I didn’t want to self-publish. Wes offered to make an introduction to David Hancock, the founder of Morgan James Publishing, and told me to reach out to Morgan James. I shot David an email, being totally forthcoming to the fact that I wasn’t sure if I was even at a stage where I should be contacting him. I had a few conversations with David and one of his acquisition editors. I submitted a book proposal, and a very rough draft of a partially written manuscript. Less than a month later there was a contract offered on the book, and a deadline to get it completed.

What is your marketing plan?

I’m spending the first few months marketing in Florida. I have broken the state up into three major sections and I plan to invest a month or so in each section building momentum until the book goes on sale in August. From there I have an aggressive 123-city 20,000-mile book tour that hits all 100 of the major book markets in the United States. In preparation for local, and hopefully national TV interviews I hired Starley Murray, a Celebrity Image Expert, to help me prep for what is sure to be an extremely uncomfortable environment for a novice. I’m spending more time on social media trying to build a presence for the book. I have been trying to network with people who can help me get to possible radio interviews. I’m also doing online blogging interviews like this one. I’m basically doing anything and everything I can to spread the word about Average Joe’s Story.

What do you plan for the future?

I’m already writing the second book in the Average Joe’s Story series. The second book will be a story that is based on what takes place as I travel around the country on this ludicrous book tour.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

I’m trying to make myself very easy to approach. You can reach out on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. My blog will be on my website, and I’m planning on having a video blog on a yet to be named YouTube channel.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?

I wrote the book that I have yet to see in a bookstore. Every book I have ever seen written by anyone who has accomplished something that was worth writing about wrote about the subject matter looking back in hindsight. The problem I see with that modus operandi is that I don’t think the vast majority of people will ever see themselves as a billionaire businessman, a world leader, or an A-list celebrity. So I think there will always be a slight disconnect between the author and reader. I wanted to write about life as it happened to help bridge the gap, hopefully eliminating the disconnect that I think currently exists.

What types of writing do you prefer, and why? 

No matter what type of writing you do I think there should be well planned out stories embedded into a book that entertains and connects with the reader. If you were reading Average Joe’s Story: Quest for Confidence you would probably expect to find it in the self-help section of the bookstore. However, I see it as a business book with a self-help feel to it. I don’t want to be painted into a corner by way of the type of writing I do. Now if you are asking what type of book I would pick up off the shelf in the bookstore the answer is the memoirs of soldiers. They can be entertaining, inspiring, and educational all rolled into one.

What is the toughest part about being a non-fiction writer, and how do you get past it?

I don’t think this was something specific to non-fiction writing, but rather how I chose to write Average Joe’s Story. I had extended periods of inactivity because the sit-downs I had with the people I interviewed for the book were all done face to face. This meant there were extended periods of time where I was alone with my thoughts twiddling my thumbs. This was a really scary place for me to be, mainly because I am my own worst critic. What I chose to do to navigate the waters of these periods of inactivity was begin writing the second, third, and fourth books in the Average Joe’s Story series. What has been written may be thrown away some day, but starting those manuscripts let me focus on writing and not my perceived inadequacies.

Do you have an agent and do you feel an agent is necessary for non-fiction?

I do not have an agent, and whether or not I needed one was a question I asked another published author very early on. I think having a good agent can help an unpublished author get picked up by a publisher, but I don’t think an author needs one at the early stages of their career with non-fiction. I went to Barnes & Noble and picked up about 100 different books that felt something like the one I was writing. I made a list of all of the publishers and that became my potential target market to approach. I wrote a really well thought out book proposal for Average Joe’s Story that was intended to sell my idea to a potential publisher. If you are willing and able to do the work I don’t think an agent is paramount, but they can be very helpful. Writing, as in life, is more about who you know, not necessarily what you know. A well-respected agent already has the professional knowledge of getting authors published and relationships with the gatekeepers to book deals. This could make your life much easier. Unfortunately something I learned in the process of writing, which continues to be reinforced, is that most professionals don’t want to work with you until you no longer need them. It is much harder to work with the Average Joe than it is to work with the Jack Canfields of the world. So there is a little bit of a catch-22 when dealing with agents in my opinion.

Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction?

Writing the book is the easy part. Your job really gets tough when it comes to marketing. Marketing is a continual grind that never stops, so be prepared for it. Be forewarned that there is a lot of rejection in your future. This will come from publishers/agents who don’t think your book is worth the paper it’s printed on, critics who don’t understand you, and friends and family who just don’t think you are an author. Develop a thick skin early, and surround yourself with positive people who are prepared to support you through the tough times. This is one of those questions anyone who has gone through the process could probably write a Ph.D. dissertation on. For the purposes of time, if you have any questions I would be more than willing to discuss them further. See the ways in which to contact me listed above.

What book are you currently reading? What do you like or not like about it?

I’m currently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. I love the way Malcolm always seems to take a subject and find some new and interesting perspective to look at old material. I like the way he makes complex subjects appear very simple by giving you enough detail to capture attention without overwhelming you with too much detail. Finally I enjoy the way he makes subjects that could be very boring if told in a traditional academic style engaging through the use of storytelling. As for the things I don’t like. Well, if I have constructive criticism I try to offer it behind closed doors whenever possible. I also prefer to do it in a means that permits interaction like Skype, phone calls, or in person. There is too much that can be left up to interpretation when you write something, so if I’m going to be critical I want to ensure the person I’m talking with has the opportunity to discuss the issue with me. There’s enough negativity in the world so I try not to contribute to the epidemic if at all possible.

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?

My favorite part of being an author is easy. I get to go meet and interact with people who I admire and find interesting, I get to travel to new places, and experience new things. My least favorite is what’s to come. A friend of mine told me a story about an actor he knows. This actor told my friend that you had better be prepared for the loss of your anonymity, because once you have chosen to step into the spotlight you never get to take that back. Regardless of how famous you become by choosing to be a public figure, you are in the public eye forever moving forward. You lose some of the benefits that come with the obscurity of anonymity like making it through dinner at your favorite restaurant without someone wanting an autograph, photo, or some other form of interaction. I’m not saying I expect to be taking pictures while I’m waiting in line for my McNuggets at McDonalds, but I’m not sure I’m ready for the prospective of losing my anonymity.

BOOK TITLE: Average Joe’s Story: Quest for Confidence
GENRE: Self-Help
PUBLISHER: Morgan James Publishing

Average Joe’s Story is a book written by an Average Joe, about an Average Joe, and for the Average Joe. It’s a story of choosing to overcome the adversity life places at your feet. We are all living our own version of the same story. You may not have the opportunity to visit some of the places the author has. You may never interact with the people he has or experience the same life-changing events. However, Chris would be the first to tell you that if you look hard enough you are not all that different from the people you read about or see on TV. This is a story that attempts to dispel the myth that they are somehow different.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mike Sullivan Talks About His Character Sam Seabury

Hello: I’m author, Mike Sullivan. I’ve created action hero, Sam Seabury and would like to share with you how Seabury came into existence. 

1.   How did you go about creating him?

Unlike other action heroes who remain in one country, I went a different route with Sam Seabury. I wanted to create a heroic figure, someone who stood out, yet at the same time never stayed long in one place. It wasn’t until I started thinking about Seabury’s occupation that he began to take on a life of his own. In a moment of insight (rarely do I have them), I saw him as a merchant seaman operating on a world stage. If I turned him into a big, brawny, good-natured person with a lot of street smarts, I figured I was well on my way to making him sound real. Seabury isn’t the type to hold back without expressing his opinion about matters that concern him, like helping the poor or coming to the aid of anyone victimized by crime. The sea may be his home. Fresh air, clear skies and calm seas nurture his soul. But once he goes ashore –well, that’s a different story. He’ll go the extra mile for anyone sending out SOS signals, so he’s constantly engaged in crisis situations, no matter how large or small. A friend of mine spent his entire career as a merchant seaman. He was a person you came to admire and respect. You knew in a pinch he’d always be there for you. I patterned Seabury after him.  

2.   Who is Sam Seabury?

Physically, he’s six feet, two inches tall and weighs 235 pounds. He’s a thirty-five year old Hawaiian who travels the world’s great oceans serving as Chief Boatswain’s Mate aboard a variety of merchant cargo ships. Emotionally, Seabury lives by a strong moral code. He’s as kind and patient as he is cerebral and fair minded. He’s also college educated and has a very inquisitive mind. Women everywhere like him. Men would like to be him. Yet beneath the exterior of civility lies another, darker side. At times he’s emotional, prone to anger. A man his size can be a formidable force if spurred into action. Picture an ethical man waging war against the dark forces of the criminal mind, and you have a pretty good idea who Sam Seabury is.

3.   You mentioned a dark side to Seabury’s nature. Could you elaborate more on that?

Seabury lives by a set of values. Once they’re broken, usually by crooks operating within the criminal underworld, his vengeance is swift and decisive. He operates beyond the law and has his own way of seeking justice. Like everyone else, he isn’t perfect. He has his own set of demons. In my debut novel, Dead Girl Beach, the love of his life Dao Suttikul, a radiant Thai beauty, ends up the victim of a grisly murder one month before their wedding. He’s never gotten over it. The thought of his older brother Benjamin’s suicide also eats at him and he carries around the scars of the tragedy. At times his past comes back to haunt him, and I suppose that’s what makes him a memorable character. Hopefully, the reader will connect with him and want to see more of him.  
4.   What books have you written in the Sam Seabury novel series?

I’ve been published twice in the United States. My publisher is Eternal Press/Damnation Books. I’ve signed a contract for a third book with them. Dead Girl Beach was my debut novel. The second novel in the series is Ransom Drop.  The first two novels are for sale now on Amazon, Goodreads, and also available with the publisher

The third novel, Eden 2, will launch soon, hopefully this quarter as the final editing has been already completed. I’m excited about this book because of its Biblical implications and its locale, set in Southeast Asia.

5.   I see you live in Bangkok. Do most of your books take place in Asia?

The first three books in the Seabury series take place in Asia. The setting for Dead Girl Beach is the beautiful Koh Phangan Island located on Thailand’s Southern Gulf Coast. Ransom Drop takes place on the Plain of Jars in central Laos. Eden 2 in the secluded jungles of eastern Borneo. As you can see, Sam Seabury gets around. I’ve always been interested in tropical island settings. Exotic lands intrigue me. There’s something fascinating about them. I suppose that’s why I use these settings in my novels.  For those readers enamored by tropical islands, mysterious jungle forests, drama, mystery and romance, perhaps my books will interest you.
6.   Tell me briefly about Dead Girl Beach. That’s an interesting title for a book.

Five young women have been murdered at a terrible place the natives call Dead Girl Beach. When Seabury receives news of his fiancĂ©s murder there, he is forced into the role of amateur detective when the local police offer no help solving the crime. He comes up with a name, Greta Langer, a sick, sadistic socio-path whom he links to the murders. After a harrowing boat ride and a trek through a hot, sweltering jungle, he tracks her down near an inlet cove on Dead Girl Beach. In a bizarre ending filled with irony, he avenges his fiancĂ©’s murder.   

7.   What about Ransom Drop? You mentioned earlier the novel takes place in Laos.

Yes. Seabury goes out on a limb by promising to deliver a million dollar ransom to the remote region of the Plain of Jars in central Laos. His friend Benjamin Hong’s daughter Victoria has been kidnapped and held for ransom there. Along the way, Seabury discovers a tragic wartime secret from America’s Secret War in Laos, four decades old. The secret affects the lives of two prominent US politicians. There’s great suspense here since the reader doesn’t know if Seabury will bring Victoria back home alive, or if he’ll live long enough to see the secret reach the light of day. It’s that kind of pulse-pounding drama.   

I had fun writing the book. Not only was the motorcycle chase scene through central Laos challenging to write, but my intention as always was to leave the reader with thought provoking questions long after they read the last page. I like to give them something to think about. It’s a little like living here in Asia. There’s a period of adjustment for any foreigner because things are not always as they appear. That’s what makes the place so exciting.   

8.   I’m intrigued by your third book, Eden 2. What’s that about?

Seabury finds a papyrus map indicating the presence of a second Garden of Eden built after the original Garden of Eden was destroyed by the Great Flood.  He travels to the faraway jungles of eastern Borneo with two women and an aging college professor in search of the second garden.  When they find it, Seabury questions the early Church Fathers reasons for excluding this information from the original Bible, casting doubt on its authenticity. The novel is not just a tale of adventure. It can be read and interpreted on several different levels. It has strong Biblical implications.

9.   Anything else you are working on now?

I’ve completed the fourth novel in the series, the Anonymous Hacker. To be honest, I think it’s the best book in the series so far because of the subject matter. It’s in the process of being edited now.  The setting is Brussels, Belgium. The world is on the verge of apocalypse when a brilliant female hacker crashes the computers of the entire international banking system. She’s determined to hold politicians and bankers accountable for their acts of greed and corruption. Think about it, a world without banks, nothing moving in and out of commercial shipping ports, riots in the streets, and bloodshed everywhere. That’s a pretty frightening picture. Yet, with each passing moment, Seabury finds himself immersed in the depths of a world gone mad. Each move he makes draws him perilously close to the edge of danger. Read my excerpt from the novel to see how it all begins.
I think AH is a timely novel because of its depth and substance. I hope the novel has a far-reaching appeal because of its message. Unless we as a collective group of world citizens take control and hold bankers and politicians accountable for their actions, nothing will ever change. The number of recent protests like Occupy Wall Street and Arab Spring suggest currents of unrest existing in a world burdened by social inequality. People are fed up with the system. Every aspect of their lives is controlled by a cabal of elite globalists interested only in accumulating vast sums of wealth and remaining in power. I wonder how much money these financial barons have to make in order to be satisfied. That’s just the point. They never will be satisfied.  They’ve rigged the system to their own advantage. I’ll admit they’re pretty good at it, but that still doesn’t make it right. They serve one God, the God of corporatocracy and are obsessed with making money. It’s no wonder the people are marching and seeking change.
10.      In what genre would you place your books?

I’m glad you asked because at times it’s difficult to say. For the most part my books are adult thrillers set in exotic lands. I also can’t resist making social comments whenever possible. I like to deal with themes like love and honor, bigotry and betrayal. I also like to include religious themes in my books whenever I can. They are emotionally powerful. The Anonymous Hacker, however, is the exception. Unlike my earlier novels set in the countryside, AH takes place in a modern city, Brussels, Belgium, the heart of the European Union.

Generally, I try to write novels which are fast paced and spur reader interest. Sometimes you accomplish this goal, sometimes you fall a bit off the mark. But with anything else you learn more about yourself and your craft the more you write. Being modest, I can see my own novels improving with each new book I write. I believe you become a better writer by writing diligently each day. That’s why I encourage young writers to write continuously. Don’t let a day go by without writing something. You only get better by doing.

11.       Is there anything else you would like to add?

Only that I hope people will come to know Sam Seabury –what he believes in, and what he stands for. As I see it, my purpose as a writer is to entertain. To give the reader the best possible book I can turn out each time I write another novel.  I owe them that much. At the end of the day, I sincerely hope they are as excited as I am about each new adventure Seabury embarks upon. He’s an honest man who enjoys helping others. I guess we can all learn a lot from that. The world isn’t such a bad place after all if we learn to greet each day with a smile and utilize our God given talents.      

EXCERPT: from Anonymous Hacker.

     “Simple,” said Julie Dunbar, “the RFID chip inside the artifact offers a link to their banking system. I capture the wireless router system and ping the information back to the home station here in my room. As of today we’ve planted a chip inside the New World Bank of Brussels. I’m working on getting the system decrypted now. After that I’ll be able to breech their server.”

“And own the system,” Seabury said.    

“Bright Boy.” She grinned. “Once I siphon funds from one account to another the cabal of international bankers will think each is stealing from the other. They’re such paranoid jackals when it comes to losing money, it won’t be hard to light their fire.”

“What happens after that?” he said.

“After what?”

“After they find out what you’re doing.”

“Then it becomes an inside job,” she said. “It won’t take long for the bank’s IT teams to figure it out and connect the hacking to Anonymous. We have that reputation, you know.”

He said nothing.

She looked at him. “Our goal is to bring down banks all over the world. We’re talking about a collapse in the financial system.”

Collapse in the financial system, he shuddered at the thought. She barely got the words out before a pain stabbed his heart.

 Her lips pursed. “People need to know how these crooks are screwing them over. They need to be held accountable. A big change is coming. Believe me, it is.”