Monday, April 27, 2015

Barbara Ehrentreu, After, #giveaway

Barbara would love to do a giveaway.  A random drawing of anyone who comments. Plus anyone who can answer the question below gets a free copy too. Here is the question:

In her first novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, what is the name of the guy Carolyn is with by the end of the book?

This way people who have read her first book get a chance to have a free copy too.

AUTHOR: Barbara Ehrentreu
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing

Please tell us about yourself.
I was a Reading teacher, but I am now retired for several years. I live in Stamford, CT with my family. I am the author of two YA novels. When Im not writing novels I sometimes write short stories and I always write poetry, especially in April. Some of my poems are published in anthologies and I have a few short stories online.

Please tell us your latest news.
My second YA novel, After, was released October 24th. Also for all those who asked for a sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, I wrote one during NaNoWriMo called Jennifers Story. It isnt finished yet, but I hope to have it done before the summer.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I would say I am a part-time writer when I am not in the middle of a novel. If I am working on a novel then I work on it full time. I usually write when I am inspired. Since I have a lot of time during the day I try to write then, but mostly I write at night. The best time for me for writing is either the afternoon or late at night. Other times I try to spend with my family.

When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing poetry when I was younger, but I didnt really write anything until I took a workshop course for my Masters degree. I wrote this story I called Geshtumble that I had told to my brother and then to my children as a bedtime story. While we were in between homes and living in a hotel, I wrote it as a book. I sent it several places, but I never pursued it.

What inspired you to write your first book?
As part of my Masters degree I needed to attend Authors Week at Manhattanville and I saw a workshop headed by Paula Danziger. I had to write three pages to get into her workshop. I decided to write it based on my daughters own experiences and Paula liked it. She helped me by reading and cutting it and showing me how to write for YA and children. She inspired me to continue writing it.

What do you do when youre not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I like to cook and I exercise every other day. Also I like to watch TV and spend time with my daughters. We like to go to the movies when we can and when there is something worth seeing. When the weather permits during the warmer months I like to walk along the shoreline at my apartment complex.

What are your thoughts about promotion?
I think this is probably the most important part of writing. People need to know about your book and where they can find it. I dont like it, though, when there are too many messages about your book. Some authors do this and it only makes me want to delete the messages and not read their book. I think the best way to promote your book is by telling your friends and also getting it out there to your audience. Joining groups that will be interested in your book is a big plus. Putting it everywhere there are readers is also important. I am still learning how to do this and probably should have done it a little more for my first book. Now I understand how important it it to let people know as soon as possible about your book. I am trying that this time.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
When I first started writing I was told I needed to cut my words. My biggest compliment came from reviews that said I really got the teen voice and that my book was a must for all teens.

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
Well, I did try to be in the mind of a teen. Also, I have learned to write a much more spare prose due to the constant editing and rewriting needed.

Do you ever have writers block? If so, how do you get through it?
No, not really. If I am writing a novel the only time I get blocked is when the plot doesnt work. Then I have to go back and actually diagram what I want to happen in the scene. I had to do that in After and I was stuck until I got the plot right. Otherwise, I can usually write whenever I need to write. If I ever did get a block I would probably go for a walk, because that always helps to get me started writing. Usually I will write poetry during or after a walk.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is MuseItUp Publishing and I connected with them during the Muse Online Writers Conference. I pitched my story to them and they accepted it. I knew Lea Schizas from the conference and also from being in one of her Muse critique groups online.

What are your current projects?
As I mentioned, I have to finish Jennifers Story first. I am also working on another YA novel called Footsteps on the Sand, which I took to the Childrens Novel Workshop in Santa Cruz, CA. There I met with an agent and an editor who critiqued my work. There were teens there too and they got to learn about my story too.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Facebook Author Page:
Any other news youd like to share?
After is in the Top Ten Finishers on Preditors & Editors Poll for 2014. It came in tied for #6. 

Tell us about the current book youre promoting.
After is about a fifteen year old girl named Lauren Walstein whose father calls home while having a heart attack. The story is about what happens after the phone call and how his illness and bypass surgery affect her relationships both within her family and with her friends. There is also a romance as well as a mean girl, of course.
What genre do you write in and why?
I mostly write YA, but I have written some MG and one very young story for a picture book. I also have written an an adult story and an adult romance/adventure/mystery which I still consider a WIP.

What is your experience working or being around children or teens?
I was a teacher for the elementary grades full-time for 12 and a half years. Also I have been a middle school teacher too. My experience also includes being both a Reading and a Writing teacher and supervisor. I have also worked as a Camp Head Counselor and I have two daughters whose teen years are great for my writing.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book? 
I would like my readers to understand the experience of having a loved one become very ill. For younger readers whose parents or grandparents might be in this same situation I would like them to be able to see how someone dealt with it. Also, I want them to enjoy the story of a budding romance.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
This was started during NaNoWriMo in 2006 while my own husband was in the hospital after having a heart attack and undergoing bypass surgery. However, I couldnt finish it due to the constant back and forth from home to hospital. Originally it was called When My Life Changed. So I left it alone and didnt even work on it until 2010 after I reread it. Then I left it another two years and worked on it in 2012. In 2013 I decided to revise it again and thought maybe I might be able to publish it. It was accepted for publication in November of 2013 and then while editing it I decided to change the title to After.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, whats your initial process?
No I dont outline before I write. What happens is a sentence will come into my mind. After maybe a week of this sentence rolling around in my mind I finally decide it is right and then I usually go to my computer and write it down. Usually this starts an entire story that usually is at least 2000 words. Sometimes this becomes a novel, although not always. If it is becoming a novel I stop at a certain point very early in the story and I develop the characters so I can see where the plot will go. Usually the characters motivations move the plot and I dont usually have to stop and outline. Except during After when one scene did not go as I wanted and I actually needed to storyboard it to see how it should go. Mostly it was the sequence of actions that werent right and outlining helped to fix that. So you can see I am basically a pantser.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
I look for strong characters and a good and fun story to read. I read all kinds of books, but I love romance and mysteries. I also like urban fantasy if it is done right. I usually read the first couple of paragraphs and decide if I want to read it after reading the blurb and seeing the cover. The story has to catch me right away and usually its the writers voice that will do that.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
What I really hate is when I have read a novel and gotten invested in both the characters and the story and then the writer just ends it without tying up the loose ends. I always feel like Ive wasted my time when the ending doesnt make sense at all or doesnt bring any kind of solution. I also really dont like when I find too many typos, because that means it was poorly edited by the author. Every author reads the final galley and they should be able to find the little typos that might occur. This also might be because I am also an editor and I proofread almost everything.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Suman Saxena, Shifting Faces

AUTHOR: Suman Saxena           
BOOK TITLE: Shifting Faces
GENRE: Non fiction memoir

Please tell us about yourself. 

An optimist and a Can Do personality, Suman has done some serious soul-searching, and courageously put an important bit of her life squarely in the public eye. Suman has taken her love of writing to a new level with her latest novel, Shifting Faces. This is a poignant true story of a boy born in India, in the nineties, who migrates to the U.S. at four months of age, who has been dealing with a dangerous, initially life-threatening cranio-facial genetic disorder, since his birth. This is an amazing and inspiring story that catalogs this boy’s fight for survival in his early years, his development over the years till now, and his wins as well as losses along the way. The story is narrated in a light, conversational, sometimes humorous, sometimes heart-wrenching way, and includes many writing excerpts from the hero of this story himself and his sister in arms, in the form of essays and stories written by them at different ages. Suman has shared her love of wild life and her close encounters with them, and even mixed some philosophical meanderings in this saga, as she ponders the bigger picture in which we are barely a speck.

Suman aspires to bring this story in front of all families who adore children, and who may be facing unsurmountable challenges. She hopes that this true story of a brave boy fighting the big bad world on the one hand, and dealing with his ever-changing face and growing pains on the other, will inspire parents, care-takers, and youths who are living with genetic disorders.

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

I work full time as a Technology Director, and write on the weekends or long holidays.

When and why did you begin writing? 

I love writing and have always wanted to write full-time. This is my retirement plan.

What inspired you to write your first book? 

My first novel is a crime fiction story called “Shot in the Dark: A Dark Steel Novel”, and is an ode to all the multitude of fiction authors that I’ve read growing up, who have taught me everything I know about life.

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

I hike, and travel to wild life sanctuaries and wondrous locations. The world is a beautiful place, and so much to see.

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

You can’t win ‘em all. Some people like what you write and some don’t. All feedback is good. It can help you grow, but you have to take the bad with a grain of salt, and not get dissuaded. An author’s voice is his/her own. Once you find what works for you, that gives you satisfaction, that should be it. If you are writing full-time as a livelihood, you have to be more cognizant of the reader, and what they would like to read.

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? 

I’ve never had writer’s block, but it’s extremely hard for me to find time to write, with a full life of work, home, kids and friends. It takes me years to finish a novel.

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

My first publisher was through query letters, but this book I’ve self published on Create Space.

What is your marketing plan? 

Social and multi-media marketing is part of my plan. Any way to get your book out there is good :)

What are your current projects? 

I’ve started the sequel to my first fiction novel.

What do you plan for the future? 

I hope to retire at 55 and be able to write full-time.

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

I'm in the process of building a website.

Any other news you’d like to share? 
Shifting Faces has been accepted by the Cleft Palate Foundation as a resource for parents and teenage kids alike:

Tell me a little about your book. 

It’s a memoir that involves around my son, who was born with a cleft lip and palate. This story in a light-hearted vein takes the reader through the trials and tribulations of this boy from birth to eighteen years of age, and what he goes through with his genetic defect, and what as a parent, I, the mother goes through as well.

What gave you the idea for this particular book? 

I wanted to write it as an inspirational story for all kids and parents going through similar experiences.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book? 

Hope, and some strength to face their own lives a little more bravely.

What types of writing do you prefer, and why? 

I as a reader prefer to read pure fiction, because like everyone my life if neither perfect nor without its challenges, and I want to read to get away to a make-believe world where I don’t exist, but the characters make the story come alive. I personally like series of novels so that my characters have continuity. Which is why my fiction novel is the first of its series as well. I do read a few non-fictional books that are inspirational and may touch on an aspect that I can relate to in my personal life, that I can learn from. Food books are such since I like eating but not cooking so much.

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

The toughest part is how deep you want to go into the psyche and the experiences of the character you are writing about. There is a sweet spot, but with memoirs it’s all about how much you and your loved ones are okay revealing to the world.

What draws you to non-fiction writing? 

As a writer, it is perhaps the easiest kind of book to write since it is reporting on actual events that transpired, but it requires a lot of research and fact-checking, and has the added challenge of making the story interesting enough for the readers to pick it up.

What kind of research did you do for this type of book? 

I dug a lot into my own past and what transpired.

What about your book makes it special?

It’s a light read in day-to-day language, but with a strong message of hope that kids with genetic diseases can go on to lead very healthy and satisfying lives; and strife sometimes builds character.

Where can people learn more about this topic if they want to pursue it further?

My book has reference links at the end.

What are your views on self-publishing versus traditional publishing? 

Self-publishing is the new way to go, but traditional publishing has its own benefits. You have to choose what’s right for you.

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

I don’t have an agent, and don’t think it’s necessary.

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

Just write and read as much as you can. Don’t over-think it and don’t wait too long to publish it. It’ll never be perfect, since writers are their own worst critics.
What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
Fun-loving; opportunist; planner; strong; wild-life enthusiast; smart; young-at-heart

What was the first book you published? 

It was a crime fiction novel called “Shot in the Dark: A Dark Steel Novel” under a pseudonym Sum Saxworth. The author website is and has a video trailer that’s pretty cool. Check it out…

Monday, April 13, 2015

AD Starrling, Soul Meaning

AUTHOR: AD Starrling
BOOK TITLE: Soul Meaning (Seventeen Book 1), King’s Crusade (Seventeen Book 2), Greene’s Calling (Seventeen Book 3)
GENRE: Supernatural Thriller, Action-Adventure

Please tell us about yourself.

I was born and bred on the small tropical island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and have been a writer since age 12. I came to the UK at age 20 to study medicine and after specializing in Pediatrics and working in that field for a number of years, my first love came calling once more and I started writing again. My first novel, Soul Meaning (Seventeen Book #1), was published in summer 2012.

Please tell us your latest news.

I am currently working on the fourth book in the Seventeen series and a series of short stories based in that world.

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

I am a part-time writer and part-time doctor at present. I hope to be able to write full-time in the future. I currently write on pretty much all the days I’m not working at the hospital.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have been a storyteller for as long as I remember but did not officially put pen to paper until I was twelve. Following a scathing review of a fiction essay I wrote for school by my father, I decided to write a few short stories in an attempt to defy him. I enjoyed this process so much I started my very first novel later that year.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Soul Meaning was inspired by the number 17 written in dripping red paint on a black marker stone, on a sandbank in a lagoon off the shores of Mauritius. When I was trying to decide what to write for the British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition several years ago, I came across this number in my “story ideas” notebook. I decided to write about a man who could die seventeen times. That short story made the finals of that competition.

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

Likely working in my other day job or sleeping!

What are your thoughts about promotion?

It’s part and parcel of the writing career. You cannot write in a vacuum. With the advent of self-publishing, there are more books hitting the market today than at any other time in publishing history. Therefore, promotion and marketing are aspects of the business writers need to deal with. But what I would say from my own career to date and the advice of many experienced authors is that it’s probably best not to devote too much time, money, and effort to promotion until you have several books under your belt.

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

I think the toughest criticism I ever received was from a reviewer who said that all my positive reviews were from friends and relatives. It was evident from this review that the reviewer in question had not actually read the book. My first reaction was anger. Then I shrugged it off; I never responded to that reviewer’s accusation. Most authors I know are happy to tell their friends and family about their books. I always insist on impartial reviews if they wish to post one and tell them that they should be very honest about what they like and dislike about my writing so that I can learn and grow as an author. I think it’s very harsh to ban friends and family from posting reviews when they may have supported you through the writing and publishing process. It’s a bit like some review sites insisting that authors should not review other authors’ books. I was a reader well before I became a writer.

The biggest compliment I’ve ever received is when people tell me they could not put one of my books down. I can’t think of a bigger compliment that that! 

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

I don’t believe in writer’s block. The reason is that by believing in it, you make it a reality. If I reach a point in my writing where I don’t know where to go next with the plot, it’s usually because I’ve taken the wrong path earlier in the book or something about it is bugging me unconsciously. By retracing my steps and correcting what felt wrong, the story usually flows again. This happened with Greene’s Calling (Seventeen Book #3).

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

I learn something from each and every book I write. Usually it’s better plot flow, better dialogue, and overcoming little writing tics. I also learn a lot from reviews. For example, what I think is my favorite book in the series thus far, or even my favorite scenes within the books, are never my readers’ favorites! 

What genre do you write in and why?

The series I’m currently writing is in the supernatural thriller genre, although it crosses over heavily into the fast-paced, action-adventure genre. I fell into this genre accidentally would you believe it! I never in a million years thought I could write in this style; I started out in the humorous fantasy genre.  When the short story I wrote for an international competition made the shortlist, I knew it could become a book and I decided to embrace the challenge. That story became Soul Meaning (Seventeen Book #1).

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?

I am what author James Scott Bell describes as a “tweener” in his book Write Your Novel from the Middle. This means I’m halfway between a serial planner and a fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants type of writer. I normally start with characters and plot, figure out how to start and end the story, think up a few pivotal and usually explosive action scenes, and then start writing. I started using Scrivener from Book 4 in the series and I love how I can keep all my character profiles, pictures, research articles and links, and even storyboard in one place. I also use a large dry-wipe board for mind mapping and find Evernote crucial for those moments when I get a great idea and I’m nowhere near my computers.

What comes first: the plot or characters?

Characters usually.

How did you decide how your characters should look?

I usually have an actor or actress in mind when I visualize my characters. If I don’t immediately know what face to put to that character but have a general idea of what I want, I look at pictures of actors and actresses until I find the one that “fits” best.

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

All my books have necessitated days of research to date. The Seventeen series being very much globetrotting and action-packed adventures, I wanted to keep the non-fiction aspect of the plot as accurate as possible. This meant making sure I described the locations, the science, the organizations, and the weapons featured in the novels as accurately as possible. I am too fond of the research process and can spend hours reading up on the most fascinating of subjects. Some of this research may never actually feature in the books but I like that they add to my overall general knowledge nonetheless.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

Something that captivates me within the first page, usually a tense or suspense-filled scene, an action-packed one, or dialogue that makes me laugh. I love to lose myself in a book.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?

Perfectionist. Obsessive. Leader. Kind. Generous. Humble. Cautious.

Book Summary:

‘My name is Lucas Soul. Today, I died again. This is my fifteenth death in the last four hundred and fifty years.’

The Crovirs and the Bastians. Two races of immortals who have lived side by side with humans for millennia and been engaged in a bloody war since the very dawn of their existence. With the capacity to survive up to sixteen deaths, it was not until the late fourteenth century that they reached an uneasy truce, following a deadly plague that wiped out more than half of their numbers and made the majority of survivors infertile.

Soul is an outcast of both immortal societies. Born of a Bastian mother and a Crovir father, a half breed whose very existence is abhorred by the two races, he spends the first three hundred and fifty years of his life being chased and killed by the Hunters. One fall night in Boston, the Hunt starts again, resulting in Soul’s fifteenth death and triggering a chain of events that sends him on the run with Reid Hasley, a former US Marine and his human business partner of ten years. When a lead takes them to Washington DC and a biotechnology company with affiliations to the Crovirs, they cross the Atlantic to Europe, on the trail of a French scientist whose research seems intrinsically linked to the reason why the Hunters are after Soul again.

From Paris to Prague, their search for answers will lead them deep into the immortal societies and bring them face to face with someone from Soul’s past. Shocking secrets are uncovered and fresh allies come to the fore as they attempt to put a stop to a new and terrifying threat to both immortals and humans. Time is running out for Soul. Can he get to the truth before his seventeenth death, protect the ones he loves and prevent another immortal war?  

Author Bio:

A.D. Starrling was born on the small island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and came to the UK at the age of twenty to study medicine. After five years of hard graft earning her MD and another five years working all of God’s hours as a Pediatrician, she decided it was time for a change and returned to her first love, writing. 

Released in July 2012, Soul Meaning is her debut novel and the first in the award-winning supernatural thriller series SEVENTEEN. The second novel in the series, King’s Crusade, was released in May 2013. The third novel, Greene’s Calling, was published June 2014.

She lives in Warwickshire in the West Midlands, where she is busy writing the next installment in the series. She still practices medicine. AD Starrling is her pen name. 

For a limited time, you can download Void by AD Starrling FREE: