Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Interview with Deborah Halverson and Book Giveaway!

In the last few years I've learned a lot about writing young adult fiction. And one of the things I learned is there's always more to learn! Lucky for us YA writers, the intuitive and awesome Deborah Halverson is releasing a book that can enormously help our plotting, writing, and editing: WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES. How cool is that!

And you can win a signed copy! Keep reading to find out how.

So what do you get with this amazing book? Let's check it out:

With young adult book sales rising and bestselling authors exploding onto the scene, aspiring YA writers are more numerous than ever. Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies offers tricks of the trade and proven tips on all the steps of writing a YA novel, from developing an idea to publication.


· Tips on writing believable characters, settings, and dialogue
· Helpful sidebars from notable YA authors
· Four easy steps to writing a killer hook
· How to edit and revise with confidence
· Answers to the most common publishing contract questions
· Common pitfalls to avoid
· Advice on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing
· Tools for creating a powerful self-marketing campaign


With the help of this step-by-step guide, you'll have all the skills to write an inspiring and marketable young adult novel.

Deborah is having a 7 Day Virtual Book Launch on her blog where she's giving away tons of prizes, including a full manuscript critique. To celebrate Deborah's 7 Day Virtual Book Launch, I've taken the opportunity to interview her. Get cozy and join in on the fun.

Welcome, Deborah. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Before I wrote novels for young people, I edited other writers’ novels for young people. Before I edited other writers’ novels for young people, I wrote and edited video game instructions for young people. Before that, I was a young person. So it would seem that somewhere along the way I pledged my creative and professional existence to a group of people living through perhaps the most tumultuous, confusing, wonderful, and exciting phases of life—and I’m ever so happy I did. I find it incredibly rewarding to create books that help young people explore and understand their places in the world. And with the publication of my new book Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, I get to add my love of teaching to all that work experience I’ve racked up, allowing me to offer writers insights into both craft and industry. As I see it, I’ve got a pretty nifty job.

Your book sounds like an extremely useful resource for writers. What drove you to put together WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES?

In a way, I've been writing this book for 15 years. I spent ten years editing picture books and young adult novels with Harcourt Children’s Books, troubleshooting stories and guiding revisions, soaking in the advice of editors far more experienced than I, and writing speeches and articles and jotting down thoughts about the craft of writing with the intention of organizing those musings under a book cover in some form, some day. That form finally took shape last summer when an agent approached me about writing a book that tackles the unique challenges and tricks of writing for young people. She didn’t tell me the book was for Wiley Publishing's For Dummies line until we’d bantered via email a bit and I’d unwittingly revealed that I’ve got a sense of humor up my sleeve, something for which the For Dummies books are known. By that time I’d been freelance editing, teaching writing, and writing my own novels for five years, so I felt like I was in the zone to talk informatively about all sides of the YA publishing process.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

First drafts are notoriously ugly because writers are initially just trying to get the characters and events pinned down. Making everything pretty is for later drafts. However, I find it very difficult to let the ugliness just sit there and wait for those later drafts. I can’t stand knowing Ugly is there, so I continuously battle the urge to go back and rework those first words until they’re no longer horrific. Is it the editor in me or would I be like this even if I were a banker or a chef? Dunno. But the urge is there.

When reading other writers' works, what is your biggest pet peeve?

I frequently encourage aspiring writers put setting back into their young adult manuscripts. Too often, writers fill their manuscripts with characters and dialogue and action without providing readers with enough setting details to help them visualize these people and events in an actual environment. It’s like watching actors in front of the special affects blue screen. Put in setting so we can see stuff. That doesn’t mean plopping down big long descriptions. Rather, it means using setting elements such as temperature, props, and physical features to influence the character and the story. This gives readers something to visualize, yes, but perhaps more importantly, characters who interact with the environment around them reveal their moods and personalities, which enriches the characterization. By making more of your setting element, you also relax your dialogue so that it no longer carries the sole burden of conveying the emotion in a scene. Punching your hand through a plaster wall conveys serious emotion without a word of dialogue.

Great tips! Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Munchables. Which is bad, bad, bad. Actual hunger is irrelevant; my “have to have” is all about the motion of reaching from bowl to mouth over and over. That action helps me concentrate. Thank the Writing Gods for popcorn! I just wish I enjoyed popcorn as much as, say, chocolate. Or anything with actual taste, for that matter, as I try to be good by sticking with unbuttered air-popped corn, with just a dash of salt. Blah. Perhaps somewhere deep down I believe in suffering for my art?

Oh, we suffer enough. Bring on the munchies! If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Seinfeld’s Kramer once tried to live on just catnaps. I related to that episode. It’s probably not an official super power option, but I sure would love the ability to go through life without needing to sleep. Even as a child I thought just lying there unconscious for hours at a time was a total waste of valuable living time. Stephenie Meyer may have gotten her idea for the Twilight saga from a dream, but for me, dreams are useless commercials interrupting the show of Life.

LOL, I never heard it put quite that way before.


Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: feather, bazooka, and koala bear.

The koala bear struggled to scrape the sticky Bazooka bubble gum from his fur with the stem of a peacock feather.

Aha, very clever. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

I’m feeling particularly lovey-dovey about my friend and mentor Robin Cruise, a children’s book publisher and amazing author in her own right (www.RobinCruise.com). Robin gave me my first job in children’s book publishing, she supported my jump from a managing editorial career path to acquisition editor, and she fanned the flames that set me to penning Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies. Plus, she’s just a hoot to talk to. I’m fortunate to count Robin among my many supportive and inspiring friends and family.

And finally, where can people find you online?
DeborahHalverson.com
DearEditor.com
Facebook: DearEditor.com page
Twitter: @Dear_Editor

Thank you, Deborah, for letting us get to know you and your book. I just know it's going to be a hit.

And now, lucky readers, here's your opportunity to have WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES in your very own hands. I'm giving away TWO copies of this excellent resource, and here's all you need to do:


  • Be a follower on my blog
  • Be a follower on Deborah's blog
  • Leave me a comment telling me you want the book
  • Tweet a link to this post


Contest ends Friday at midnight (EDT). I'll use random.org to pick two winners. The contest is open to US and Canada. (To those in other countries, don't worry. I'll have an international contest soon.)

Good luck, everyone!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Interview with Kimberly Krey

Happy Monday, everyone! Wait, what? Monday's aren't happy? Well, let's change that with a happy interview with a fabulous up and coming writer. Say hello to Kimberly Krey.

Hi, Kimberly! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a happily married mother of four with a passion for family, food and the written word.

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing for just over two and a half years.

Tell us about EVIE'S KNIGHT. What’s the story about?

Evie's Knight is a YA Urban Fantasy. When seventeen-year-old Evie falls in love with Calvin Knight, their love provokes a psychotic woman from beyond the grave who wants Evie dead. The same demon who has haunted the Knight men for four generations.

That's a quick summary. An extended blurb on Evie's Knight can be found on my website (link below).

Sounds cool. How did the idea of the story come to you?

The idea definitely came to me in layers. I knew Evie and Calvin pretty well, and I knew that Calvin was tormented somehow, but it took a while to discover my antagonist, who, in the end, became known as The Raven-haired Ghost.

Awesome, sounds scary. Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

Both. Well, all of the above. I wrote the book, shelved it for a summer (and started writing another book because writing had become such a part of me I couldn't live without it) and then went over it again. During this time I revised and edited until I felt it was ready for my beta readers (I had about a dozen ready to read the MS). Much later I found my amazing critique group which actually consists of just three women (including myself) and had them go through the MS as well. But I really like to self edit first and get my work to a certain point before I get any outside critiques/feedback on it.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

You know, I really just love the whole process. I do. The creative stage is the funnest for me. When the characters are revealing themselves to me as I go. I love being surprised by some of the things they do. And the editing process, though sometimes it seems to drag on forever, can actually be fun because it's where the manuscript really starts to shine. I honestly enjoy it all. Finding time is a bit of a trick, though. And querying is an entirely different story.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Hmm. That's a good question. I really think I almost have it all as long as I have my laptop. It's got all my music on there which, depending on what I'm writing and what stage I'm at can really feed my muse. Okay, I actually have something. Two things. I always have to have my Altoids Mini Mints (love them!), and my Soft Lips chap stick. I go nowhere without them. Not camping, boating, or even a trip to the grocery store. Those two items are with me always, and that includes while I'm writing.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

That's a hard one because there are so many awesome powers out there that I know could be useful in like, saving lives and everything. But my most pressing (and sort of selfish) desire would be to fly, of course. Don't we all dream about that?

It does seem to be a popular answer.


Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: session, revitalize, and odious.

Okay, I'll write one like it's in the middle of a novel, how's that?

Stuck in therapy again. Mom says the sessions should revitalize me, leave me feeling light and ready to face the day, but I dread the odious task the way she dreads hearing what Dr. Sims has to say about me.

Excellent! Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

Alright, major shout out to my hubby and kids for putting up with my crazy writing habits. To my sister-in-law and mother for being the first ones to go over Evie's Knight (pre beta readers), and my dad and mother-in-law for their continued support. Also to the awesome women in my critique group, Marilyn Yarbrough and Jamie Thompson. A big shout out goes to my fellow bloggers and followers, and an extra big one to you for hosting this interview! Thank you for spotlighting me on your awesome blog; it's such a great honor!

You're welcome! And finally, where can people find you online?

My website address is: http://www.wix.com/kimberlykrey/kimberlykrey
My blogsite can be found: http://writegirl-writegirl.blogspot.com/
I'm on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/KimberlyKrey

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Kimberly. I wish you lots of success with Evie's Knight and all your writing projects!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Shelley Watters: Birthday Blowout Contest

The extremely awesome Shelley Watters is holding another agent-judged first page contest. This time the agent is Victoria Marini of the Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency, and according to her likes (paranormal romance and mythology being a couple), I'm most likely going to enter the first page of my muse story. But I thought I'd let you guys also take a look at the first page of my shelved novel PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES, just to see what you think. The reason behind this is that Victoria also mentioned liking ghost stories, which this one is.

So first, here's the first page of BITTERSWEET MELODY, my 60k young adult paranormal romance:


One thing I can say for sure is I’m the only muse in history to ever have been grounded. I know this is true because my father told me. Well, more like screamed it at me while gripping the heck out of a lightning bolt, holding it over his head like a maniac. He totally over-reacted, of course. I mean, come on. Revoking my Inspiration License and grounding me for a hundred years? That completely sucks!
Sucks is a word I learned from my sister Calliope. She spends a lot of time with humans and picks up the best phrases. Whenever she comes home from a case she teaches them to me. Calliope’s a lot more fun than my other sisters—and there are many of us, not just three or nine like humans are misled to believe. And the only one who’s ever been suspended from inspiring? That’s right: me. It’s so unfair. My father says I had it coming, but I swear I’m not a trouble maker; I’m just misunderstood.
But that’s all over with now. I’ve served my time and I’m about to get my freedom back. Don’t get me wrong, Mount Olympus is pretty much the most beautiful place ever, but I’ve had it with being locked up here unable to do what I was born to do.

The last step toward my ticket out of here is a meeting with my Inspiration Officer so I can get my license back. That’s where I am now: sitting in his little office of cloud-white walls, rocking back and forth on the hind legs of a rickety chair while I wait for him to show up.

“Good morning, Melody. It’s been a long time.”


And now for the comparison, the first page of PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES, my 60k young adult paranormal:



Strange things go through your head when you’re having an MRI. And I’m not just talking about the electromagnetic currents, although that certainly does cause a flicker of scientific curiosity. I mean things like if my hair will grow out right, or if my mother would let me get my favorite band’s new CD, or who it might be that cleans the insides of these machines, or if Adam and Eve had belly buttons.

That I’m thinking so clearly at all is a miracle, they tell me. The number of patients who can function as well as I can after the type of brain surgery I underwent is not an impressive figure. According to them anyway. Maybe it’s just my amateur opinion, but when someone goes poking metal objects into an organ as complicated as a brain, prodding around in there as if dipping pieces of fruit into a chocolate fondue pot, I’d be impressed if the person who’d been operated on didn’t come out of surgery having attained the glorious functioning level of drooling all over their fecal-stained hospital gown.
“Try to keep still, Faith,” the mysterious doctor hidden safely behind the wall of glass says. Good thing he reminded me. I was just about to break out into a merengue to the beat of the knocking sounds the monster of the machine is making. Oh well, maybe later.
“So, how many people have thrown up in this thing?” I ask.
“I’m sorry, Faith. Do you feel nauseous?”
“No.”

“Is there an unpleasant smell?”
“No. Just wondering.”

So there you have it. What do you think?

Friday, 24 June 2011

7 Day Book Launch: Dear Editor

The delightful Deborah Halverson of Dear Editor fame, is celebrating the launch week of her book WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES by having seven days of prizes on her blog.  Here's what she says:

To celebrate the publication of Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies, from June 29-July 5 here on DearEditor.com, I’m featuring daily “Free First Chapter Critique” giveaways, free downloads, excerpts from the book, and profiles of the 13 amazing authors, editors, and agents who so generously contributed sidebars to the book. As the grand finale, I’m giving away a “Free Full Manuscript Edit” on the final day.


Great opportunity, right? I'd even say amazing! Be sure to check Deborah's blog all next week and enter for your chance to win great prizes. 


And as a reminder of the kick start, I'll be posting an interview with Deborah on the 29th where I'll be giving one lucky follower a free copy of the book! So stay tuned!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

ARC Contest for SHATTER ME on Tahereh's Blog

Folks, you DO NOT want to miss out on this. And actually, I'm hesitant to tell you all because I so desperately want to win it myself. But Tahereh Mafi is having a contest in which the winner gets an ARC of her upcoming book SHATTER ME. Now, when I say upcoming, I mean November. And that's a long wait. So you're going to want to enter this contest, like now.

Go to her blog and check out the scoop. And then leave me a comment to tell me if you entered so I can use my supernatural math skills to figure out my odds.

And when I say supernatural math skills, I mean my calculator.

And when I say I'm going to use my calculator, I really mean I'm just going to close my eyes and wish.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Interview with Stella Deleuze

Happy Friday, everyone! I am so ready for the weekend. And with that in mind, let's put our feet up, relax, and indulge in a nice interview with a fabulous author. Say hello to Stella Deleuze, whose book NO WINGS ATTACHED was recently released.

Hi, Stella! Tell us a bit about yourself.

First off, thank you for having me. About me, well, I'm a German living in London, sharing my flat with a big aggressive, but rather gorgeous green iguana named Zorro. I love to laugh, to cook and weird enough: to edit; I hate dishonest people and waiting, oh waiting is really not for me.

And I just love this connection, with me being an American living in Germany. We've come full circle! So tell us, how long have you been writing?

Technically since my early teens, but I started to take it seriously about two years ago, when I wrote my first novel.

Tell us about the fabulously titled NO WINGS ATTACHED. What’s the story about?

It's about Celia, who has had her fair bit of battles in life and now just has some modest wishes on her list; and Tom, who is a wish consultant, who failed in his last case and has to earn his skills back by helping Celia to make her wishes come true. In the beginning they can't stand each other, but it comes as it has to come in a romantic comedy: they fall in love, but not without consequences or difficulties.

Sounds great, I'd love to read it! How did the idea of the story come to you?

Honestly? I don't know. It started out as a complete different book, but it didn't work. I did some brainstorming and well, I do order from the universe and thought how can I make this into a story, and suddenly, it was there.

I understand this is a series. Can you tell us more about it?

Yes, No Wings Attached is the first in the Branded series. It's a bit like Bridget Jones meets Charmed; funny and romantic but with a bit of mystery around it. Tom has his orders to help people and Celia will have to rescue people from the dark side. The dark side and their people reminds of the demons in Charmed. There is a constant battle to keep the balance between the good and the bad energy. I've planned a lot of twists and turns which is so much fun to write.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Often the detailed plotting. I always have a rough outline, without it I wouldn't even start writing, but the details, the loose ends...oh they can be a nightmare, also the staring at an empty screen for ages, forcing myself to write at least something. Other than that, I think writing is wonderful.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

My mp3 player, fruit, chocolate, tea and most important: the view onto the iguana. I love taking tiny breaks to look at him.

Awesome. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Making wishes come true, even mine. Imagine how much good you could do? I'd wish for world peace, no more wars, that would be so wonderful. And I could make all my close friends happy, or happier :-)

Excellent answer! Quick writing test: Use the following words in a sentence: barbecue sauce, tutu, and diplomat.

The diplomat knew he lost his status when he saw the picture of him, in a tutu, drinking barbecue sauce straight from the bottle.

Hahaha, I love it! Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

Oh there's many: My friends Piddi, Bobby, Marcos, John, Emmy, Jenni, Niels, Fifi, Gayle; the lovely Karen and Lynn, Susan, Mark, Dixon, Laura, Violet, Rachel, Michelle, Sessha and many many more. I got and still get a lot of support which is really wonderful and heart-warming.

And finally, where can people find you and your books online?

My books are available on smashwords and kindle. Best would be to go to my blog http://wordsbystelladeleuze.blogspot.com/ as Excuse me, where is the exit? and No Wings Attached are both on it with excerpts and links to all platforms.


Stella, thank you so much for letting us get to know you. Your book sounds amazing, and I wish you the best of luck with your writing career. Keep us posted when the next one comes out! :)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Interview with Bertram Gibbs

Hot enough for you? Let's try to chill out a bit with a cool interview with author Bertram Gibbs.

Welcome, Bertram. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in a semi-theatrical family. My grandmother was a former chorus girl, my grandfather a former jazz drummer, and my mother (aka ‘Ma’) - who had crippling stage fright - went to every movie and Broadway show during the 40s, 50s, 60, 70s and 80s. She taught me film and theater history at an early age and have a semi-photographical memory when it comes to comic books, television programs, Broadway shows and (of course) movies. Because of her (gotta put the blame somewhere) I collect movies and have over 2.500 DVDs/VHS tapes. I also have about 700 CDs. My taste in music runs from classical (European and modern American composers), to jazz, to Big Band, to Doo Wop, to Broadway scores, to early rock and roll, to funk, to progressive rock.


Between the age of 15 and 25 I was an actor. I did a few off-Broadway shows, made an appearance on a PBS television production, performed with the Metropolitan Opera, performed for the Mayor of New York at Gracie Mansion, performed for the Chinese government at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and was an extra in the 1976 film ‘King Kong’ (I was under the fallen ape’s butt, so you won’t see me on screen). After finding my theatrical career stagnant, I worked in credit and collections for 3M Company, Fuji Photo Film USA, worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a greeter and coordinated the Degas and O’Keefe exhibitions, was part of the Army Reserves for several years (where, much to the dismay of the military, it was found that there were no regulations against biting sarcasm), and presently back working in credit and collections (don’t look for a linear correlation – there ain’t none). But to keep myself sane (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), I write fiction.


My side interest is studying criminal psychology and forensic sciences. I have a considerable collection on serial killers, mass murderers and bizarre crimes. Add in I have deep Vincent Price-like laugh. This explains why I do not get many visitors.


I am also a single parent of a highly intelligent (and twice as deadly) 14 year old daughter. When she was younger, she was somewhat confused that Dad would sit for hours at the computer, tapping away and giggling. She got used to it and has encouraged me since she cannot physically pry me away from the machine (she has dragged the chair - with me on it - into the next room on occasion).

Quite a life you have there. How long have you been writing?

Ma always said that since I began reading and writing on my own since the age of 3, I have been trying to top the author of whatever book I was reading. Despite my years in theater, I always found the time (albeit at pre-dawn hours) to write. Unlike other authors who find a genre and write only that, I write fantasy, sci-fi, (as Harlan Ellison calls it) speculative fiction, mysteries, horror, comedy, farce, and a little comic book fan fiction. I do not like to limit myself to one thing.

Tell us about REFLECTION FROM THE ABYSS. What’s the story about?

It is the story of Carlton Book. He is a freelance accountant and crunches the numbers for several clients. He also runs his life like the spreadsheets he works on; reviewing every variable until all possibilities are considered before any action takes place. This suits him well in his ‘second job’; a paid assassin. He removes individuals the same way he deletes numbers on spreadsheets; without personal interest. He even considers his targets ‘numbers’.


When he arrives at the location of his next target, he finds the individual brutally murdered by the 3-Monkey Killer, an elusive serial killer. In his haste to leave the scene of the crime, he leaves trace evidence behind.


The 3-Monkey Killer not only knows who he is, and is sending him text messages and emails to his personal address requesting they team up. While the police are reviewing the evidence from the crime scene, Book must now find the killer before the police find him and arrest him for crimes he did not commit, and before his own crimes become known.


This is the story of the death and resurrection of a man’s soul.

How did the idea of the story come to you?

I was watching a program on serial killers on the Discovery network, and what followed was an episode on assassins. Despite the fact that they share an end result, their methods and mindsets are different. As always, the ‘what if’ came to mind; this time what if an assassin is forced to deal with a serial killer, and would one feel morally superior over the other? Because they are on two separate levels, would there be an understanding of the other’s methods? Because there were so many questions, I began jotting notes and the story began to write itself. My knowledge of criminology, criminal psychology and my repeated watching of episodes of Criminal Minds, CSI and assorted crime shows and documentaries helped a great deal.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Typing as fast as my mind plays the scene out. You see, because of my love of movies, my writing has a cinematic style. Because my imagination ‘sees’ my stories as films, my mind is ‘playing’ the DVD while my fingers transcribe the setting, the camera angles, the characters, the costumes, the direction, the dialog, and the special effects, if any. Sometimes my mind plays out chapters at a time and I can spend hours doing transcription. I’d love to have a USB port in my head to plug myself into my computer and sit back watching the words/actions appear on the screen.

I've had the exact same idea. Plug and play! I wish someone would invent it already. Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

My daughter, silence and iced water. If an idea ‘tickles’ me, I will stop what I’m typing and run it past her; not necessarily for approval, but to watch her reaction. She usually just stares at me blankly and goes back to whatever I interrupted her from. I used to have music playing, but I would become distracted and find myself stopping to listen when a certain track (or segment of a song) played. The water is to keep me hydrated (and awake if I knock the glass in my lap).

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

BWAH-HAH-HA! Super-speed. It would help getting these images I have constantly running through my head on paper. Of course, I would have to have a room full of replacement keyboards (I have a tendency of pounding on the keys – a throwback to my days of using a typewriter).

Yikes! I'll be sure to stay clear of you when you're typing then.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: comic books, time machine, and equilibrium.

Using the instructions I found in the back of a comic book, I adjusted the equilibrium of the flux capacitor and found the time machine actually worked! Now I can go back in time, buy early shares of AT&T, 3M Company, Lucasfilms, Microsoft, and several copies of the first issues of Batman and Superman, go back home and write for a living! And get my kid a pizza.

Hehehe. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

To Ma; she had always been my closest friend and harshest critic. She will always be the cricket in my ear telling me I should write that section over.


To my daughter; she is the light in my eyes and the love in my heart. I write not only for myself, but for her to be proud of her Dad.


To Jeremy; we’ve known each other for so long, and still talk to each other. Thank you for joining me on the ride of a lifetime.


To the many of the mugs who are generous enough to call me their friend, who have read my work and know I have something special to share. Thank you for being there during my ‘Brightest Days’ and ‘Blackest Nights’.

And finally, where can people find you and your book online?

You can go to the Christopher Matthews Publishing site, as well as Amazon, Borders, and Barnes & Noble. It’s available in paperback, as well as for eBooks.

Go! Buy! I got a kid to feed!

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Bertram. Good luck with your books, and you know, maybe go easy on the keyboard. ;)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Interview with Jeffrey H Baer

I recently finished a book a fellow writer sent to me called A SONG APART. The story, written by Jeffrey H Baer, follows a young man who meets his celebrity idol. He then faces consequences of becoming her friend ... and then boyfriend, and has to deal with the conflicts the situation causes with his friends, family, college classmates, and coworkers. And boy is there conflict!

I enjoyed the plot of A SONG APART, especially since there are many people who wonder what it would be like to get involved in the life of someone famous. I think the only thing I had trouble with was the genuineness of the arguments that took place in the book. I felt like the protagonist was being attacked from every corner for petty reasons. But I supposed things like that can happen. All in all, I kept reading to find out how it would all turn out.

I had the privilege of interviewing Jeffrey, so let's get to know him.

Welcome, Jeffrey. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m 42 years old and lived in New York City almost all my life. I’ve been with my girlfriend Karen Brandwein for 22 years and lived with her in Coney Island for 16 of those years. I’m a big fan of the Mets, Knicks, Dallas Cowboys and old school R ‘n B music.

I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in April 2002, and it explained my social fumbles in school and at work. It’s also a factor in the stories and songs I write, mostly that I refuse to sound like everyone else in both cases.

How long have you been writing?

At least 30 years.

How did the idea of A SONG APART come to you?

One day back when MTV still cared about music, they aired a short interview with Chuck D, the leader of the rap group Public Enemy. A question came up about meeting fans on the street, to which he replied “For us it’s thirty seconds. For them it’s a lifetime.” So I thought, Hmm…what if it were more than thirty seconds for “us”? I knew there were hundreds of stories about girls meeting and falling in love with their favorite male celebrities, so I thought turning that premise on its head would intrigue potential readers.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I ask for beta readers, whether online or at conferences and such. Unfortunately, most beta readers don’t get through the story because 1) their daily lives interfere with their reading, or 2) they’re used to different types of stories. I get helpful feedback when I pay someone for his/her editing services, but for the most part I edit my own work. One of these days I’ll visit my critique group more often than I actually do, especially for The Strickland File, a novel I’m currently working on.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Incorporating character motivations into the story. Readers of early drafts of A Song Apart kept asking me why Kevin and Shannon acted as they did when I thought those reasons, not the least of which were their ages, were obvious. To make a long story short, I finally figured out what those readers meant and fixed the problems relatively easily. Now I’m doing the same thing for The Strickland File, although I seem to have created more work for myself.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Not much, really. I keep my cell phone nearby because I hate getting up to answer it wherever it is. I also like to listen to music, be it Internet radio or the songs I downloaded from iTunes.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

The ability to fly. It would definitely save on mass transit fares.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: chiropractor, resuscitate, and mirrored.

My efforts to resuscitate the chiropractor mirrored what I learned at the hospital.

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

Allow me to copy-and-paste the list of people I thanked in A Song Apart:


Patricia Benesh, Cheryl A. Laser, Laron Glover, and Kristen Howe, for excellent editing
Button Studios Inc. in New York City, for showing me how a recording studio works
Art Twain, for his thoughts on the recording industry
Michael Cortson, for payola insight and suggesting the title
Juanita Scarlett of the New York State AG’s Press Office, for more payola insight
T.J. McFadden, for marketing advice
Maureen Seaberg, for a shoulder to cry on
Edward Gold, for his words of wisdom
Michael Berger, for some graphic design sleight of hand
Karen Brandwein, for loving and supporting me no matter what
Everyone on America Online, Twitter, Facebook, and those I met at conferences in 2009, for cheering me on toward success—too many people to name, but they know who they are

And finally, the great people at CreateSpace, for helping me realize my dreams of publication.

Where can people find you and your book online?

On Twitter: @JBaer10314
On Facebook: Jeffrey Baer

Order the book here: https://www.createspace.com/3534466
Kindle downloads: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004YKSX06

Thanks for chatting with us, Jeffrey. And good luck with all your writing endeavors.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Summer Reads

I've got two gift certificates from a certain online store burning holes in my pockets. I'm so excited to use them to buy some summer reads. The problem is, I can't quite narrow down my top picks.

I have a deadline though. Not that these GC's expire, but I'm going on vacation at the beginning of July. Which means I need to decide what to order BEFORE then.

Without me mentioning what's on my TBB (To Be Bought) list, I thought I'd ask you what you recommend. So have at it. Leave me a comment with the top three must-read books I should take with me on my vacation. And I'll try my very best not to buy every single title mentioned. ;)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Interview with Shawn Fitzgerald Jr

Today I welcome Shawn Fitzgerald Jr, author of the newly released THE DANGEROUS ROAD. Let's get to know him and his book.

Welcome, Shawn.Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in small Pennsylvania town near Pittsburgh. I have grown up as the oldest in a big Catholic family. Last year I graduated from high school after being Home Schooled all of my life. Instead of going straight into college I took a break to just relax and take a breather. It was a great decision because I got the chance to just be with my family without having to worry about school work.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for six years now, and coming up on seven this fall. It has been quite a journey.

Congratulations on the release of A DANGEROUS ROAD! Can you tell us more about this book?

The Dangerous Road is a collection of five of the many short stories that I have written since I started. One of the stories takes you into a small American town with an eerie ghostly encounter, another takes you to a Halloween night at an old mansion were a revenge is planned, and then you will be transported to a war torn Los Angeles. For more on the other stories, you will just have to get it and read for yourselves.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

One of the hardest things for me is the occasional writers block. It can sometimes get stuck for weeks at a time, but the important thing is to not let it discourage you, and just keep working through it.

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

There are two things, a cold snapple or some form of cold tea, for that inevitable dry throat or cough. And the second thing is what most people call epic music. The best way to describe is if you have ever listened to the tracks from movies such as Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean or the Chronicles of Narnia movies. I always use music when I'm taking a break or just need a little inspiration.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I have actually thought about this before. And my answer would definitely have to be the power to move things with my mind. It would be so great to be able to will my laptop into my hands instead of running to it every time an idea randomly pops up into my head.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: perturbed, daydream, and sisterhood.

Neal was deeply perturbed that his daydream's had gone from swimming with the sharks, to that sisterhood movie he had watched with his girlfriend the night before.

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

First of all I have to thank my family for being my first supporters, you guys are amazing. Then there is my amazing group of friends who have been there for me more than I can say, all of you know who you are! And then to my creative writers group, for daring to do short stories in the first place and for being there to help critique my work and make it the best that it can be.

And finally, where can people find you and your book online?

People can find me on my blog at http://shawnthewriter.wordpress.com/ And you can also find me on these sites as well-
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Writer-Shawn-Fitzgerald/163930917197
Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/Writer_Shawn


You can find my book either searching for it on Lulu.com or by using this link - http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/the-dangerous-road---and-other-stories-of-suspense-and-mystery/15744203?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/2

Thanks for chatting with us, Shawn. And good luck with your books!