Friday, January 29, 2010

Interview with LORI ARMSTRONG


Lori Armstrong writes in several genres and her books have been nominated for a number of prestigious awards.  She lives in South Dakota, which is the setting of her mysteries.

Your mysteries have all been nominated for numerous awards, most notably the Shamus Award (Snow Blind won in 2009) and the Willa Cather Literary Award (Hallowed Ground won in 2007). What prompted you to start writing them?

Being nominated for awards is a nice side benefit of being an author, winning is even better, but it hasn’t changed the way I write. I’ve always been a mystery reader, like most girls I started with Nancy Drew and I haven’t looked back.

How long have you been writing? You write in more than one genre—care to share your thoughts about the differences between the two?

I’ve been writing toward publication since 2000 and my first book was published in 2005. I’d always wanted to write crime fiction, but it was near impossible with small children. When my youngest was three and could entertain herself for more than five minutes, I put pen to paper. I also write contemporary erotic western romances under the name Lorelei James. I get asked if I took on a pen name for the romances out of embarrassment, but the answer is a vehement no. I’m as proud of the erotic books as I am of the mysteries. Bookstores and libraries shelve fiction by genre, so that was the main reason for the alternate name. Genre readers know what they like and what to expect. For me, the mysteries are about the character’s relationship to violence—and in the erotic romances, it’s about the character’s relationship to sex. But all my stories are character, plot and setting driven no matter which genre. As far as the technical aspect, the mysteries are written in first person and the romances in third, from multiple points of view, so it allows me to flex those different writing muscles.

You live in South Dakota, which is where your mysteries are set. Tell us why you chose that setting over any other.

The research is easy! No, seriously, I’m a native South Dakotan and I want people who’ve never been here to see it through my eyes. That always gives people a different, more accurate depiction of “real” life struggles and triumphs out here in the Wild West/flyover state.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Writing under deadline is a whole different animal than writing because you’ve got a great idea and interesting characters. I’ve been lucky to be under contract for the past few years, but I’ll admit I haven’t had much of a life besides writing to keep those contracts coming.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.


The book that released January 12th is titled NO MERCY. It’s a mystery set on a ranch in western South Dakota. The main character is a woman named Mercy Gunderson, who couldn’t wait to get the hell off the ranch and see the world. So she joined the army at age 18. Twenty years have passed, her father recently died, and she was injured in Iraq so she’s back where she started. While Mercy is home trying to decide her future, bodies start to show up on her land. The book is available at bookstores and online, in several formats: hardcover, ebook and audio book.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I’m working on the second book in the series, MERCY KILL, and if I meet all my editorial deadlines, it’ll be available January 2011.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

Write every day. There is no muse. Don’t be afraid to just get it down on paper because self-editing is your best friend. Seriously. Self-editing is my favorite part of writing now when it used to be my least favorite.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?

I’m a member of Mystery Writers of America, and I’m actually on the Board of Directors as a member at large, in addition to being the treasurer for 2010. I also belong to the International Thriller Writers and my local group, Black Hills Writers Group.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

I’m all over the map in the next few weeks. The best place to keep track of me is by checking out the appearances page of my website: http://www.loriarmstrong.com/

FUN QUESTION: As a transplant from New England to Montana, I am especially fond of the weather extremes in this part of the country. What do you like best: the winters or the summers, and why?

I love summer and spending time at the lake or up in the Black Hills or out on the prairie. Maybe because summer seems so fleeting that’s why I prefer it.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
Websites: http://www.loriarmstrong.com/
http://www.loreleijames.com/
http://www.firstoffenders.typepad.com/
http://www.murdershewrites.com/

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Interview with KATIE O'SULLIVAN


Katie O'Sullivan is originally from the Jersey Shore (no, not the TV show!) and currently lives on Cape Cod where she edits an online magazine and writes fiction.

Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

When I was in elementary school, I started writing short stories. My Aunt Kate told me if I wrote a “real” book, she would publish it for me – she worked for a printer at the time. I took her up on her challenge and wrote “The Mystery of the Haunted House,” full of Nancy Drew clich├ęs and chases. True to her word, she printed it into a little book, with hand-colored illustrations and bound in yellow vellum. I was hooked!

How long have you been writing? In what genres do you write?

I was an English major in college, and tried for years to write my Great American Novel. Life always seemed to get in the way, especially after I had kids! When the third child entered full-day Kindergarten, I found I had several hours in a row all to myself (!) so I joined a writing class and finally got serious. I enjoy writing (and reading) romantic suspense with paranormal elements, and I’ve also finished a middle grade novel with those same elements for younger readers.

Tell us about your work as the editor of a women’s magazine.

I joined CapeWomenOnline.com last spring as the magazine’s Editor, and it’s been a wonderful experience. We currently publish five times a year and cover a wide range of topics that are of interest to the women of Cape Cod. We feature articles written by and about Cape women in a number of areas – Literary Women, Creative Women, Community Action, Holistic Health, Working Women, and the Environment. We also have a section titled “Life Stories,” where readers and contributing authors can share memoir pieces. We welcome ideas and submissions from all Cape Cod women – whether you live here full time or just for the summer.

As the Editor, I work with the Publisher to determine themes for the issues and find interesting authors and women to focus on. In the last year I’ve been privileged to work with well-established writers and authors as well as college journalism majors. I’m very proud of the way our magazine looks and reads, considering how very small our staff is. We’ve recently hired a few interns to help us grow and get more organized behind the scenes, and are talking with a woman who’d like to be our dedicated advertising salesperson. It’s coming together slowly, and it’s an exciting adventure.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer?

At the moment, finding time to write is my challenge. As a mom with three kids, I’ve become a master of multi-tasking. I can get stuff done no matter how much chaos is swirling around me. As a former reporter, I can do research for the magazine and help with homework and make dinner all at the same time. But I find that writing fiction requires a level of concentration that I just can’t achieve when the kids are home or there are other things on my plate. I constantly struggle with prioritizing my to-do list, and trying to move “writing” toward the top of that list.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

My debut novel is UNFOLDING THE SHADOWS, released last fall by Cerridwen Press. It’s a paranormal romantic suspense, with a reluctant psychic as the heroine. The back cover blurb reads:

Jillian has worked hard to close the doors on her past and the psychic abilities that defined her youth. For sixteen years, she’s ignored the ghosts who still try to whisper to her. Even her controlling husband Kyle has no idea that his wife can talk to spirits. But on the day after Christmas, her great aunt’s car smashes head-on with a commuter train and Jillian finds herself on a collision course with ghosts who refuse to remain in the shadows any longer.

Long-hidden secrets are coming to light and Jillian’s life has to change to accommodate them. With the help of her friends and a substantial inheritance, she sets her life in a new direction, but Kyle’s not about to lose out on his share of Jillian’s inheritance—even if he has to kill her to get it.

You can purchase a copy directly from Cerridwen Press at http://www.jasminejade.com/pc-7563-92-unfolding-the-shadows.aspx Or you can purchase it for Kindle from Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Unfolding-the-Shadows-ebook/dp/B003380704/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=digital-text&qid=1263994861&sr=8-2

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

My middle grade manuscript MERMAID’S BLOOD is complete and making the rounds, looking for an agent. I’m working on a sequel to UNFOLDING THE SHADOWS, and hope to have it to my editor sometime soon. And, of course, we’ve been busy with the Winter 2010 issue of CapeWomenOnline.com.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

Keep writing. Whether it’s your first manuscript or fiftieth, the most important thing is to write, write, write. The submission process is a long waiting game, and it’s important to keep your head in the game by starting something new.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?

I belong to the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and to my local New England Chapter (NEC) of RWA. Writing is mostly a lonely pursuit, sitting by yourself in front of the computer screen. I find it really helpful to know there are a group of women out there in the same boat. Belonging to RWA gives me access to many, many writing seminars, online classes, and conventions that I didn’t know existed.

My local group meets once a month, but has a Yahoo chat group that fills my inbox daily. It’s great to have an extended support system for those times you need to ask questions or share successes. Many of my fellow NECers are seasoned authors with best sellers to their credit, and many more are authors like myself just beginning our journeys into publication. It’s a very supportive group and I feel lucky to have found them.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

As my novel is still only an e-book, I won’t have any signing in the immediate future. There are a few local bookstores that I know through my work with CapeWomenOnline.com who’ve already offered to stock my book and host book parties for me…

FUN QUESTION: Do you prefer the beach in the winter or the summer, and why?

This may sound strange, but my family and I love the beach in the winter. In the summer, Cape Cod can get so crowded. The parking lots and beaches are jammed with tourists, and dogs are banned from most beaches (although in my neighborhood we’re still allowed to walk them early in the morning).

By Labor Day, most of the crowds have all gone home and most streets are practically deserted. In September and October, the ocean is still warm enough to swim, the fish are still biting, and my dogs are welcome any time of day. The beaches feel much the same as they do in summertime, and on weekends they can still draw a crowd.

In winter, though, there’s a unique quiet and beauty to Cape Cod. I love walking on the beach when the waves have left icy, frozen trails along the sand. The beach itself changes its appearance almost daily in the winter, depending on the storms passing through. And when it’s snowing over the ocean… you really have to see it sometime.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

My website is http://www.katie-osullivan.com/. You can find my blog at http://katieosullivan.blogspot.com/ . Visit CapeWomenOnline magazine at http://www.capewomenonline.com/ .

Monday, January 25, 2010

Interview with JAMES HOCH


James Hoch is a retired music teacher who spends much of his time RVing with his wife and only child, Ruby.  Oh, and he's currently involved in three different writing projects.  Not bad for someone who's "retired," eh?

What made you decide to begin writing after retiring from your music education career?

For me, it was a need to express creativity. While in the university environment, I had the opportunity to do a lot of composing and receiving performances, but after retiring and starting our adventures with RVing fulltime, there just were not the connections to receive performances of what I wrote. Writing stories is something that has lain dormant in me for a long time. I always had a secret desire to try my hand at it. So when we retired, it became a perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.

How long have you been writing? In what genres do you write?

My first writing endeavors were some articles for a marathon magazine that were published. The success there planted the seed for more writing. I remember the day I started writing an actual novel. It was in December 2007. I had just come out of a Harry Potter movie and ideas for a young adult sci-fi book started brewing in my head. I took the brave step to actually start putting words to the paper. The end result came to fruition in the Fall of 2008 and SynergEbooks published it in April 2009.

I have two genres that I am currently writing in: young adult sci-fi and horror/paranormal romance. I kind of have to laugh when I see the two genres side by side. My wife reminds me not to let the young adult stumble into the steamy vampire romance book.

How much book material do you get from your RVing?

Actually, I think it helps because I get to see more places, meet more people and be involved with new situations. Currently, I’ve taken a temporary sub job in the local high school where we are living for the winter. I am the interim ISS supervisor. ISS stands for “in school suspension”…where they put all the bad little boys and girls. While in this position, I wrote a short horror story about a creature that is in the storage room of ISS and provides the last step of punishment. My wife and I together are writing a short horror story about a laundromat, which we occasionally have to frequent.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer?

This one is easy…not getting discouraged and losing faith in myself. It is very exciting to receive notice from a publisher that says your book is going to be published. The champagne pops, there’s wild dancing, and you are elevated off the ground for weeks. Then, the reality of marketing and networking to get your name out and about sets in. I remember when I was composing how hard it was to get people to listen to new music. Most folks feel threatened by a living composer and want to stay with the three b’s: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. Oh, and of course, Mozart. I think the same may be evident in the writing world. People gravitate to the writers on the top of the NY Times bestseller list or Oprah’s book club, and it is difficult for a new author to get noticed. I have vowed not to give up, to work harder at getting my name out, and to become a better writer. Having someone say they enjoyed your story goes along way…of course, a fatter royalty check is nice, too!

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

On January 2nd, SynergEbooks released my new book. The title is “Reveka’s Return.” It is the first book in a series called “The Crimson Pursuit.” It is about an astral vampire who returns to corporeal form. Her life in a new body becomes disrupted when a vicious vampire hunter is sent to capture her. A powerful master vampire wants her secret on how she transferred from an astral plane to an earthly existence.

The book is currently available from www.synergEbooks.com and will soon be available at Fictionwise, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and other ebook sites.

I’ve always wanted to write about a vampire and since writing this book, I’ve discovered there is an enormous pool of people who love vampire stories. So I jumped in the crimson waters and have something floating around for them to read.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

Currently, I have three projects going. I am a good ways into book two of “The Crimson Pursuit” series. The title is “Reveka’s Revenge.” That book should come out sometime in 2010. Additionally, I have significant progress on a sequel to my first book. It’s called “Milford Spitz and the Search for Einstein.” Also, there is the short story that my wife and I are writing called “The Laundromat.” It’s really been fun writing this short story together and letting our imaginations collide. I have a few other ideas for short stories.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

At first, I tried the process of sending queries out to agents and publishers. It became apparent that I’d have more luck at winning the lottery. To this day, there are queries I sent out that I have never heard back. A writer friend gave me some good advice that has proven valuable and I think it’s something that I would pass along. She said to look at the eBook publishers. I found several. One in particular noted that a response would be given in about two weeks time. I received a quick reply that she was interested and after a couple of suggestions, the next thing you know I have a contract and several months later a book released. I have been delighted with the communication and hard work that Deb Staples at SynergEbooks provides. Over the last year, the whole business of eBooks is expanding exponentially, i.e. with the Kindle, Nook, Sony Ereader, etc. It’s exciting to be apart of the next step in reading’s evolution.

Tell us about your musical endeavors.

For about 38 years, I taught music at the secondary and university levels. My last gig was at Winona State University in Winona, MN. Beginning around 1980, I got my first composition published. Shortly after that, my wife and I started our own small publishing company. We produced two CDs of my original compositions that are available at CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon.com and other download sites. It’s exciting to see that people from all over the world have downloaded my compositions. I wrote a great deal for the flute and in particular my favorite flutist and wife, Zoe Shepherd. While living in Winona, I became really good friends with an organist there, Patricia Lundeen, and was thrilled to write for the pipe organ. It is an instrument that is so underrated. It truly is the King of instruments.

Do you have a writing schedule? Word counts? Page counts? Other routines?

I do not have any particular schedule or routine since I am still working part-time. I would love to be able to get up every morning and write from 8 to 5 like Stephen King, but there is still a need for the day job. Maybe in a few years when I am fully retired, I can set up a writing routine. For now, I try to write every day or do some sort of marketing, publicity, or social networking. Generally, I like large blocks of time and preferably alone without distractions.

FUN QUESTION: Tell us about Miss Ruby.

Ruby is our only child. She is a ten-year old beagle and blue tick hound mix. Her occupation is to mostly sleep and provide us with lots of love. She is addicted to snacks--mostly pupperoni, denta stix, and bully sticks. One interesting note is that she actually smiles, and I mean a big, curl up the lips, and show lots of teeth kind of smile.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

My web site is: http://www.jameshoch.com/
I have a blog at: www.redroom.com/member/jshoch and it is linked to Goodreads and Author Central at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0033BZD7I)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Author Interview with REBECCA CANTRELL



Rebecca Cantrell decided, at the age of 7, to be a writer.  Well, she's done it!  Here's her story...

The bio on your website says that you quit your job, sold your house, and moved to Hawaii to be a writer because, at the tender age of seven, you decided to be a writer. Surely there’s more to the story than that?

There is always more to every story, isn’t there? My husband and I fell in love with Hawaii and planned to retire there, and one day I decided not to wait that long. We talked it over, panicked a bit, and took a chance. We packed our belongings into a container and flew over. It was a challenging transition, but I’ve never regretted it. Once I was here and taking a breather from my regular life, I started a novel set half a world and seventy years away.

Tell us about what prompted you to set your novels in Berlin in the 1930s?

The late 1920s and early 1930s were, for Berlin, a time of intellectual and social freedom mixed with grinding poverty and violent protests. The city was a center for modern art, cinema, writing, and music. By 1934 it would all vanish: the artists fled, in camps, or in hiding. In a few short years, an incredibly vibrant part of a modern European city vanished and was replaced by the horror of the Nazis. How could such a time of transition NOT be fascinating?

You also write award-nominated screenplays. Tell us about that.

After I wrote A TRACE OF SMOKE I wanted to do something completely different, so I took a course in screenwriting at The Maui Writers Conference and wrote a screenplay about vampires set in modern day Hawaii called THE HUMANITARIAN. It was a nice change to research the undead instead of the dead. Learning to tell a story that consists only of what we see and what we hear also helped me as a writer.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Before I got published, my problem was persistence. I didn’t take the writing seriously enough until I moved to Hawaii and started treating it like a job. Now my biggest challenge is finding enough time to be a mother, write, and promote.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

A TRACE OF SMOKE will be released in paperback on January 19, 2010 (it came out in hardcover in June 2009). It’s about a crime reporter named Hannah Vogel who searches for her brother’s killer through the nightclubs and Nazi hangouts of 1931 Berlin.

In June 2010 the sequel, A NIGHT OF LONG KNIVES appears in hardcover. After being zeppelin jacked back into Germany, Hannah Vogel must solve one murder among a thousand to find her son in 1934 Berlin.

I also have a short story in the anthology FIRST THRILLS, also in June (busy month, June). All of my books will be available at bookstores everywhere and online.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I’m working on the third Hannah Vogel novel. It is called A GAME OF LIES. In this one, Hannah Vogel investigates her mentor’s murder and unravels a Nazi conspiracy during the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin. It’s set to come out in June 2011 to bookstores everywhere.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

I used to say persistence, which is very, very important, but now I’m moving toward: have fun! Forget the myth of the tortured artist and love, love, love what you do.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?

I’m a member of The Author’s Guild, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

I don’t have anything booked yet, but I will be touring in California and New York this summer. I’ll post the details on my web site at http://rebeccacantrell.com/events/

FUN QUESTION: Television or radio, and why?

Radio. My TV isn’t hooked up to an antenna or cable, so I only watch movies. These days I mostly listen to music and love Pandora.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
http://rebeccacantrell.com/ and http://rebeccacantrell.com/about/blog/

Friday, January 22, 2010

Congratulations, Sophie Littlefield


Congratulations to Sophie Littlefield, whose debut crime novel, A BAD DAY FOR SORRY, was just nominated for an Edgar Award.



I interviewed Sophie on the blog in August; here's a link to that interview:   http://lindamfaulknertips.blogspot.com/2009/08/author-interview-with-sophie.html


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Author Interview with D.L. NARROLL


Dianne was born in Toronto, Canada and, in addition to writing, has worked as a graphic artist and as a teacher in foreign countries, such as Russia.

Share with us how your previous professional endeavors prepare you to be a writer. 

I have an M.A. degree in Geography. I've been a Social Science secondary teacher for fifteen years. I've taught Anthropology, World Issues, Urban, and Environmental Geography. I gathered ideas from teaching these courses and always kept a notebook where I would jot down ideas. Also, as a teacher, I am a specialist of English As A Second Language. My characters in my novel have strong dialects, where I have studied applied linguistics. My protagonist in my current novel, displays a heavy Irish brogue. I spent four summers in Ireland and studied the dialect profusely in order to create this character.

How long have you been writing? In what genres do you write?

I've been writing all my life, but serious writing, has been since 2003. Adventure has always been my favorite as a reader. Even though my genre seems to be sci-fi fantasy. Time travel is categorized as automatic sci-fi. I write about time-travel.

Your current book took four years to write; did you have a daily schedule? How much of that time was spent on research?

I didn't have a daily schedule but as long as I wrote everyday, I was happy. I spent a ton of time on research. I always do. I think that's the Social Scientist in me. My current novel involves Ireland and my Irish protagonist, so I spent time in Ireland recording everything I saw. I actually did my protagonist's trek, so I could geographically describe how and where he needed to be in order to make his journey.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

The biggest challenge I've faced as a writer is to try and keep my work market friendly. It isn't an easy thing to do. I always write from the heart - bubbling over with passion. Now I'm trying to gear myself more to what the market is looking for. I'm not saying I have taken a complete one-eighty, but I am moving more toward market demands.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

Prehistoric Journey: The First Expeditions. It's a classic sci-fi adventure about time-travel gone wrong. Set in England 1908, Captain Colin Limmerick, a working-class fisherman, decides to live a double life. His academic brilliance doesn't quite fit with his handsome, rugged appearance. He delves into the world of academia in order to pursue his research to prove how Megaloceros giganteus came to its demise by being sexually selected against. He meets eccentric Russian scientist, Dr. Sasha Dimitrikov - who has developed a faulty time travel device. Limmerick is determined to prove his Darwinist beliefs to the university by venturing 10,000 years back in time to prehistoric Ireland. Little does he know, ill-prepared time travel can backfire and create the unthinkable. In the midst of all the chaos, he is also caught between two strong women who complicate matters to a new height. While trying to play God all else fails!

Prehistoric Journey: The First Expeditions can be purchased as an ebook with Double Dragon Publishing. It's also available on several other ebook sites, ie. Fictionwise, Reader Store, SciFiWise, MobiPocket, and a few more.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I'm in the process of completing another time-travel fantasy, with a twist of steam punk genre. It contains, witches, trolls, and dragons - and of course the mighty handsome warrior. It constantly flip flops from present day to the early medieval times. The book ties together with an enchanting romance of two people who can't seem to fit into each other's world.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

Never give up. It's very important to learn the market, and not just the US market, but to understand how the US book market differs from the Canadian and British market. I became very well educated with all three countries. Canada and Great Britain do not expect all authors to have agents. Authors can actually thrive quite well in those countries without agents. There are those publishing houses that do require agents but there are many who do not as well. For the unpublished author who is feeling intimidated by not having an agent, seek a publisher somewhere else. The EU also has a lot of opportunities if you can bypass the language barrier.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?

Yes, in fact I am a member of The Romance Writer's of America. They're great and they have helped educate me quite a bit about the writer's market.

Tell us about your trip to Russia and how, if at all, that experience contributes to your writing.


In 1994, just a few years after the fall of the communism, I taught adults English As a Second Language in the former USSR. I spent time in Kiev, Odessa, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. I got to know the Russian people quite well. In my novel, Prehistoric Journey: The First Expeditions, I had to include a Russian scientist. Dr. Sasha Dimitrikov is the lighter side of the novel. My friends who have read my book have told me that Sasha was their favorite character because he's such a riot. I came to know what a Russian accent sounds like and therefore, I implemented it in my novel. Sasha speaks with no articles. He's introduced in Chapter #4 when the notion of time travel starts to spin. Sasha is very proud to be Russian and makes no bones about it.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
My website: dlnarrol.com
My blog: http://dlnarrol.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

ADVICE TO AUTHORS - Part 3 - Article by Milton Kahn

Unique among book publicists, Milton Kahn brings to the table his years of experience as one of the entertainment industry's premiere public relations specialists. The creator of countless ingenious blockbuster campaigns for major Hollywood films, including Fried Green Tomatoes, Watership Down, Ron Howard's directorial debut Grand Theft Auto, and the Oscar winning Fellini's Amarcord.

Mr. Kahn, president of Milton Kahn Associates, Inc. is now helping publishing houses and authors achieve greater success with their projects. The Kahn organization continues to also serve as a public relations consultant to major corporations. - From Mr. Kahn's website.

During the interview it is important for the author to mention the title of your book so that the audience can order it from their bookstores or online. It is also important for the self published author to make sure that his or her novel is readily available to the public and currently listed with Amazon as well as other major online distributors such as Barnes & Noble.com. Your listing on Amazon is crucial and as an author you should take advantage of all the free publicity that you can secure. A helpful tool for convincing prospective buyers on the internet to purchase your book is to have people who have read your book send in positive reviews to the major online distributors such as Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, etc. These positive reviews are very effective and can be the difference between a prospective book buyer deciding to order their book or not. 

Another essential is to have your own website where potential buyers can learn more about the book and the author. A website is also a good way for readers to purchase your book and gives you yet another opportunity to promote yourself to your audience.  While book signings are certainly not going to produce giant revenues, I think that doing local signings in which you do not incur any travel expenses are worthwhile. It gives you the opportunity to refine your skills as a speaker and also to meet with the public and get a feel for what they are looking for in the way of his or her genre. However, I do not
recommend that you spend your own money orchestrating an expensive book tour to various parts of the country, as the costs of hotels, plane fares; car wear and tear, etc. can run into high numbers very quickly. The reality of book signings is that unless you are a famous author you are not going to generate a tremendous number of book sales

Staying abreast of the publishing world and networking are incredibly important elements that no author should ignore. It is essential to be apprised of what is going on in the publishing industry at all times. I am surprised at how many authors do not subscribe to Publisher's Weekly, nor read other publications that devote a great deal of important information about the publishing industry such as the Book Review sections that appear in the Sunday editions of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, etc. It is not necessary to buy a subscription to these publications as much of this information is available on the internet. Another very helpful way of getting a better feel for the publishing industry is to watch C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2. These cable networks are devoted to the publishing industry and feature extremely interesting authors who have a great deal to say about their books. Watching these authors in action can help you become more successful in communicating with the media and the public.

It is also vital that the author create a great title and cover for his or her book, along with receiving a strong quote or endorsement from a celebrity, or from successful authors within the same genre.

Milton Kahn, President and CEO of Milton Kahn Associates, which is based in Santa Barbara CA is considered to be one of the premiere book publicists in America. Among the honors that Kahn has received number Publicist of the Year by the Book Publicists of Southern California.

Monday, January 18, 2010

ADVICE TO AUTHORS - Part 2 - Article by Milton Kahn

Unique among book publicists, Milton Kahn brings to the table his years of experience as one of the entertainment industry's premiere public relations specialists. The creator of countless ingenious blockbuster campaigns for major Hollywood films, including Fried Green Tomatoes, Watership Down, Ron Howard's directorial debut Grand Theft Auto, and the Oscar winning Fellini's Amarcord.

Mr. Kahn, president of Milton Kahn Associates, Inc. is now helping publishing houses and authors achieve greater success with their projects. The Kahn organization continues to also serve as a public relations consultant to major corporations. - From Mr. Kahn's website

ADVICE TO AUTHORS
PUBLICITY - GIVING YOUR BOOK THE HELP IT NEEDS - Part 2
By Milton Kahn

Issues touched on in a book that relate to history or current events are another positive element in getting media exposure. An example is my campaign for former head writer of the CBS series Murder She Wrote, Thomas Sawyer, for his first mystery novel The Sixteenth Man. In his novel Sawyer had developed a theory about the Kennedy assassination which was highly controversial and intriguing. As a result of this particular
issue I was able secure countless television, cable, and radio interviews throughout the country as well as articles and mentions in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to Liz Smith's nationally syndicated column.

While everyone dreams of getting on major television shows such as Oprah, a variety of key radio shows is really critical to building a successful national publicity campaign for a book because it allows the author a much greater block of time to promote his or her book. As an example, a show such as the Jim Bohanan Show, which is syndicated by Westwood One, reaches over 5 million listeners every weekday night, with authors getting approximately one hour on the air. Talk show hosts such as Richard Neer, Michael Smerconish, and Jerry Doyle, are incredibly effective interviewers who give the author a great deal of time to talk about his or her book as opposed to a show such as Good Morning America in which the author will most likely get two or three minutes.

Preparing an author to be an interesting guest is a critical element and one that should be worked on prior to the promotion of a book. I sometimes recommend that my clients sit down with a coach to help go over some of the basics of public speaking and interviews.  For example, when Dallas-based author James Halperin hired me to publicize his science-fiction novel The Truth Machine, I recommended that he contact a staff member of the Southern Methodist University drama department to engage him in videotaped mock interviews. As a result, Jim became a very effective interviewee. What made James Halperin such a fabulous client was his willingness to do anything it took to be  successful. Halperin was willing to avail himself for interviews regardless of the hour of the broadcast as he realized that the only way that people would buy The Truth Machine would be through his being able to talk about it and make people aware of his book.  Through my campaign for Halperin, over 200,000 copies of The Truth Machine were sold.

Milton Kahn, President and CEO of Milton Kahn Associates, which is based in Santa Barbara CA is considered to be one of the premiere book publicists in America. Among the honors that Kahn has received number Publicist of the Year by the Book Publicists of Southern California.

Check back with us on Wednesday, January 20th, for the final part of this article.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Interview with JIM BROWN


Jim Brown is the current secretary of EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection) and he, along with Zetta Brown, own a business that caters to services for authors and publishers alike.  Wait until you see all the things these folks can do for you, regardless of your position in the publishing world!

Tell us what prompted you to found your services business, Jim & Zetta.

Working from home provides a person with a degree of flexibility. It also allows you to "view" your industry as and when you want to. Quite simply, over the last two years we’ve seen the rumblings of the eruption that is now taking place with ebooks becoming mainstream. We knew that publishers, and authors with rights, would start wanting their books converted to ebooks. So why not offer other services, like editing and typesetting, to enhance their work?

Tell us about the services you provide to authors.

Zetta handles the editing side of the business, and we offer various editing packages from simple proofreading to line and developmental editing. We supply layout, typesetting, cover design, ad banner design, and ebook conversion services to self-published authors. We also supply technical support services to self-published authors who want to concentrate on their writing. Dealing with distributors, ebook vendors, uploading files, handling orders from bookstores etc., are all tasks that self-published authors would rather not do. We can take some, or all, of those tasks off the hands of the authors, leaving them free to write. This is particularly useful for prolific writers.

Tell us about the services you provide to publishers.

Unless a publisher has in-house staff to handle ebook conversion, text formatting, layout, and typesetting tasks, they can be faced with having to handle these very time-consuming tasks on their own or delegating them to staff who have other duties. That's where we come in, and that's where we've built our business. Currently we have a stable of 10 publishers whose work we do. We are also the Official Conversion Partner for publishers who sell their books on All Romance eBooks (http://www.allromanceebooks.com), having been granted that status by ARe in September 2009. So for any publishers out there who list their titles on ARe, you have some very favorable rates thanks to Lori James and Barb Perfetti.

Share your thoughts about the future of eBooks and ePublishing.

As a member (and current secretary) of EPIC - the Electronically Published Internet Connection (http://www.epicauthors.com) I've been banging on for the past year about ePublishing and ebooks being on the verge of going global and mainstream. Well, it's started. Ebook Reader devices have been around for a few years now (think about the Sonys and the Kindles), but pre-Christmas saw the release of a few more, and the current CES event in Las Vegas is showcasing several more devices. Ebooks are the "next big thing" after the mobile phone. We'll soon all be carrying a little device that can hold up to 1000 books for reading as and when we can. Not only that, the new readers have wireless and WiFi built-in, and they'll soon have color capabilities. In a couple of years time you'll see "tablet" style devices that will have netbook PC functionality, plus reading, and multi-media capabilities too. Newspapers and magazines will be automatically downloaded to your devices daily, as well as emails. The future is bright!

What should an author do with his/her work BEFORE sending it to you to be edited?

We always have one answer and one answer only to this question: SELF-EDIT. Before you think, "Why should I edit it myself if you are going to do it," you have to understand that self-editing and copy-editing services provided by another person are two entirely different things. An editor is not there to teach you how to write. If you want to get your work published, you have to demonstrate that you have the ability to tell a good story and can do it with an amount of skill.

Invest in some good writer’s manuals and a good dictionary. We recommend (and use) The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.), The Oxford Style Manual, and The Gregg Reference Manual Tenth Edition. Not only will this help you, it will save you money because the more “passes” an editor has to do with your manuscript, the bigger the bill.

Editing your own work is probably the most important part of the job of writing. If you are serious about your writing and want other people to appreciate it, you will take the time to present your work in the best possible manner. If you are not confident enough in your skills and still want to publish, you will be wise to hire someone with that knowledge to help you present your work in its best light. However, no amount of editing, self or otherwise, will make up for you, as an author, taking time to learn your craft and learning how to write.

What is the biggest challenge you face in working with authors? 

Asking an author to change something—LOL! No, seriously, the authors we work with are excellent to interact with so we don't really have too many challenges with them. Part of being good with people involves listening as well as talking. Even when we have firm views on something with regard to an author's book, the key is to be constructive and ask the author to be constructive in return, this makes communication much easier. Let's face it, open communication with the people you are in business with is vital to success.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

I’d like to give three because following them is the key to success.

1) Learn your craft. The craft of writing is easier for some people to grasp than it is for others, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be learned.

2) READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Sorry for shouting, but some of you out there are not listening. Everything you need to get started is there, and if you still have a question—ask. The quickest way to get ignored or rejected by a publisher is to demonstrate that you have not read the guidelines and you have no idea what the publisher is about. If you’re really interested in a publisher, buy one or two of their books! Nothing impresses an editor or publisher more than to receive a query or submission from someone who has read—and enjoyed—one of the books they published.

Logical-Lust recently got a submission query where the person asked: “OK define ‘erotic’?” This person has no business submitting work to a publisher of erotica if they require such a definition. This person further demonstrated that they have not looked at the website, and when they did, they still could not figure out what we do. If I hear from this person again, or they try to submit, I sincerely doubt that they will be accepted.

3) Take off the rose-tinted glasses. If you think that all you have to do is write your story, get it published, and then sit back and wait for the royalty checks—you will be disappointed. Getting your work published is just the starting point. After that, the marketing and promoting really takes off, and this requires work and commitment from the author. Publishing is a business, not a hobby. Professional authors, especially those who earn a living from their writing, treat it as a business, not a hobby. Even if you don’t aim to write full time, if you want to be successful, take your writing seriously.

What else do you and Zetta do?

Zetta writes and is a published author. I write too, but don't spend enough time doing it, sadly. Together we also run a small press, LL-Publications (and an imprint Logical-Lust). We like to look for original, creative works - that something that's different from the normal. We already have one award-winning book - Pit Stop by Ben Larken - plus two finalists in March's EPIC Ebook Awards, so we think we're doing pretty good. Another book - The Great Right Hope by Mark Jackman - has over 20 five-star reader reviews on Amazon. We're very proud of our books and our authors.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?

As stated above, I'm currently Secretary of EPIC, having been a member and moderator for a few years now. EPIC is at the forefront of e-publishing, and I'd encourage anyone who has an interest in e-publishing, vested or not, to consider joining EPIC. Zetta is a member of AuthorIsland.com, which is a wonderful resource for authors to promote to readers. We're also members of many groups and loops because of the publishing and services we provide, but EPIC is the only registered writers’ organization we are a part of. I wouldn't put anyone off joining several authors’ groups/organizations, just be careful not to spread yourself too thin. A lot of groups and loops end up as a bunch of authors marketing to each other with no readers in sight. Reaching readers needs to be a key.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
JimAndZetta - http://www.jimandzetta.com/

We also run a small press:
LL-Publications – http://www.ll-publications.com/
LL-Publications Official Blog – http://llpublications.wordpress.com/
Logical-Lust – http://www.logical-lust.com/
Logical-Lust Official Blog – http://logicallust.wordpress.com/
The Full-Bodied (Book) Blog – http://fullbodiedbooks.blogspot.com/.  (This is Zetta’s blog where she reviews books and talks about other things featuring “characters of substance.” She is currently looking for more books to review and authors to interview.)

In addition we have a brand new newsletter - one that appeals to readers, writers, and anyone in the industry. To learn more go to http://www.ll-publications.com/newsletter.html. To subscribe, email subscribe(at)ll-publications.com.

(The above photo is the cover for last year's EPPIE award-winner from last year, PIT-STOP.  You can find it at:  http://www.ll-publications.com/pitstop.html)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

ADVICE TO AUTHORS - Part 1 - Article by Milton Kahn

Unique among book publicists, Milton Kahn brings to the table his years of experience as one of the entertainment industry's premiere public relations specialists. The creator of countless ingenious blockbuster campaigns for major Hollywood films, including Fried Green Tomatoes, Watership Down, Ron Howard's directorial debut Grand Theft Auto, and the Oscar winning Fellini's Amarcord.

Mr. Kahn, president of Milton Kahn Associates, Inc. is now helping publishing houses and authors achieve greater success with their projects. The Kahn organization continues to also serve as a public relations consultant to major corporations. - From Mr. Kahn's website.

ADVICE TO AUTHORS:
PUBLICITY - GIVING YOUR BOOK THE HELP IT NEEDS - Part 1
By Milton Kahn

In today's highly competitive literary marketplace publishers and authors are finding that it takes more than reviews and book signings to make a book successful. The reality of publishing today, even among the mainstream, big-name houses, is that unless you are one of their heavy-hitters you are going to have to promote your book largely on your own time and with your own money. While hiring an experienced, knowledgeable publicist does not guarantee success, it can go a long way toward separating your book from the rest of the pack. A successful public relations and promotions campaign does more than simply sell books for an author; in addition to increasing sales, a well executed campaign can also serve to institutionalize the author's name, which leads to bigger and better publishing deals.

To give you an idea of how the publishing industry has grown, in 1975 there were 3,000 publishers in the United States. Today there are over 200,000 publishers made up of large, medium, small, as well as print on demand companies who put out 560,000 books a year of which approximately 295,000 are self-published..

Though publishers and authors can certainly contact the media on their own, including sending galleys to publications such as Publishers Weekly for reviews – and even mount aggressive book-signing campaigns, there is a very limited amount of meaningful exposure that an individual writer can secure without the resources and contacts of an established publicist. A solid national public relations campaign targeting all of the key media in television, cable, radio, newspapers, magazines and wire services is the most important factor in determining the success of a novel.

“It is vitally important for any author to have an outstanding website as this will prove to be an extremely important element for the success of your book. Regarding what kind of a website you want to have created I suggest you Google well known authors who publish in your specific venue and get an idea of what their websites look like.”

Once you have decided to engage a professional publicist, the next step is finding one who is right for you. Beware of any publicist who offers guarantees. Ask for references and contact authors they have represented. A good publicist will work with you to find issues in both your book and your personal life that will make you a saleable interview to the media. Interesting background elements about the author are often what open the door to interviews.

Milton Kahn, President and CEO of Milton Kahn Associates, which is based in Santa Barbara CA is considered to be one of the premiere book publicists in America. Among the honors that Kahn has received number Publicist of the Year by the Book Publicists of Southern California.

Check back with us on Monday, January 18th, for Part 2 of this article.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sheila Lowe: Handwriting Expert & Mystery Author

The Author Exchange Blog will be interviewing mystery writer, Sheila Lowe, in March.  When we learned about her "other" career as a graphologist/handwriting expert, I asked her to share some info with us.  She was kind enough to agree.  Here's some really neat information, in Sheila's own words!

Some years ago I was contacted by a law enforcement agency in Australia. A serial killer incarcerated there had been receiving post cards from an anonymous sender, and due to some copycat killings, the police were investigating whether the post card writer might be the killer’s disciple. They asked for an analysis of the handwriting to determine whether the writer was dangerous. My assessment was that he had probably suffered a head injury and had a skewed view of reality, which could make him explosive.

When little Jon Benet Ramsey was killed, a three-page letter left at the scene demanded the odd ransom of $118,000—the amount of John Ramsey’s bonus that year. I was contacted by the Denver Post and other media outlets, wanting to know what the handwriting revealed about the note writer. Later, the National Enquirer supplied me with copies of the handwriting samples taken by the Boulder police in the case (don’t get me started on that!). They wanted to know whether the ransom note matched Patsy Ramsey’s writing. My conclusion was that there was no match, but I figured I’d reached the pinnacle of my career when I was taken out of context and misquoted by the National Enquirer and somehow, they made it sound in print as though I’d agreed with their opinion that it did.

In 2002, the D.C. Snipers, John Muhamad and John Malvo, had the entire state terrorized. When samples of their handwriting was discovered, I was asked by a Virginia newspaper to give personality profile of the handwriting.

I used to appear on the Hard Copy television show, mostly during the O.J. Simpson circus, but also when Susan Smith (“Killer Mom”) wrote a confession about the murder of her two little boys. And a couple of years ago when Kobe Bryant was accused of rape, a TV station sent me the handwriting of his accuser for my opinion of whether she was telling the truth.

Mostly, though, the trials in which I testify are to answer the question of whether someone forged a signature on a document. It’s amazing—and sad—how many cases there are where family members and supposed friends and business partners try to screw each other over, forging wills, partnership agreements, deeds to homes, and all sorts of other documents. Hint: the clearer you write your signature, the harder it is to forge. Scrawly signatures are easier. Also, use black gel ink to sign.

While some law enforcement agencies use handwriting analysis to learn more about the personalities of victims and witnesses to determine truthfulness, and perpetrators to determine potential for dangerous behavior, they generally keep the practice under wraps—their secret weapon. The CIA has used handwriting analysts for many years. The FBI claims not to as part of their behavioral unit, but some of their field offices use handwriting analysis independently. Handwriting Analyzer software I helped to develop is used by law enforcement agencies and governments in countries around the world, but you aren’t likely to hear it being talked about.

Handwriting is a projective behavior very much like body language, and it can reveal a great deal of important information about the writer (though not everything!). It’s one more important tool in the profiler’s toolbox.

For more information about Sheila's professional life as a handwriting analyst, or as a mystery writer, check out her websites:
http://www.sheilalowe.com/
http://www.claudiaroseseries.com/ - Forensic handwriting mysteries. Dead Write in stores now

Monday, January 11, 2010

Author Interview with PEGGY EHRHART

Peggy Ehrhart is a former college English professor who lives in Leonia, New Jersey, where she plays blues guitar and writes mysteries. She has won awards for her short fiction, and her stories have appeared in Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine and numerous ezines. She’s a woman who follows her dreams…and an inspiration to us all.


Your professional background includes stints as a college English professor (medieval literature), a guitar player, and now mystery writer. Tell us about the journey.

I was destined to be a writer. I read constantly, so school was a congenial atmosphere for me. Also, back when I was growing up, the role models for women were limited: teacher, nurse, or secretary. I couldn’t see myself doing any of those things so I resolved to stay in school as long as I could. While I was in grad school working on my Ph.D. in medieval literature, I discovered the joy of submerging myself in a writing project. I saw the college teaching as a day job that allowed me to pursue my real love, which was scholarly writing. I did some research projects that I’m very proud of, including a book about the medieval understanding of Greek mythology.

In my forties I had the same experience many people do—I evaluated what I had done so far and asked myself whether I’d be happy with a life that contained only that. The answer was no. I needed to do something more expressive, and that’s where the guitar came in. My son was taking guitar lessons and I had recently started listening to the classic rock station on the radio. I loved blues-rock in the sixties and it occurred to me that if I applied myself, I could actually PLAY those songs. I eventually formed a band that played enough gigs to give me a sense of what it’s like to keep a band together. That experience became the inspiration for my first mystery, Sweet Man Is Gone, named for a Muddy Waters tune.

At that same time, I said to myself, If I can write a whole book about Greek mythology in the middle ages, why couldn’t I write fiction? I read a lot of mysteries in grad school, to relax from reading heavier things like Beowulf. I had always enjoyed the puzzle aspect of the form. And I thought mysteries were probably easier to publish than literary fiction.

Mysteries are like rock and roll. People look down on these forms for being unintellectual, but secretly everyone enjoys them. I guess I’ve always wanted to capture people’s attention by entertaining them.  [Way to go! - Blog hostess comment.  Sorry, I couldn't help myself...]

Tell us about how your background writing scholarly works prepared you for the world of fiction, mystery fiction, to be precise.

First, I learned that you don’t have to be in the mood to write. If a paper’s due, it’s due. Once you start writing, ideas will come. So grad school and my later scholarly writing gave me a disciplined approach to writing.

Second, a good mystery requires planning and strategizing. The clues have to come along when they’re needed, red herrings have to be planted to keep the reader guessing, and everything has to end up in a satisfying way. Writing a mystery is an intellectual process, just like working out the argument of a scholarly paper.  [More blog hostess applause.]

How does your music affect your writing?

Music touches people in an emotional way, and writing appeals to the intellect. When I started writing mysteries set in the blues world, I was determined to evoke in words the experience of listening to music. Readers tell me that I’ve succeeded.

I’m also aware of rhythm and phrasing when I write. I try to give my prose the same feel as a good blues solo. When I was learning how to solo on the guitar, I listened to solos that I thought were successful. For each phrase I’d write out a sentence whose cadence seemed to imitate what I’d heard musically. For an example of how words can imitate music, listen to “Salt Peanuts”—the famous jazz tune in which Dizzy Gillespie’s horn seems to be saying “Salt Peanuts” over and over.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Keeping going in the face of rejection. And now, balancing writing and promotional activities.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.


Sweet Man Is Gone. It introduces my blues-singer bandleader sleuth, Elizabeth “Maxx” Maxwell. She’s formed a band and is living her lifelong dream when her guitar player dies under mysterious circumstances. The police declare his death a suicide, but of course Maxx doesn’t believe them and has to investigate on her own. The fact that she’s never been able to resist guitar players adds an extra dimension to her quest for his killer.

My publisher, Five Star/Gale/Cengage, markets primarily to libraries, and the book is in lots of libraries. People who want their own copy or want to give the book as a gift can find it on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

Five Star has bought my sequel, Got No Friend Anyhow, and it will be out a year from now. The third book in the series is already in the works.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

You have to be aware of the market. Many people say that one should write the book one wants to write and let the market catch up, but in this publishing climate that can be a recipe for intense frustration.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?

Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. I tell all the would-be writers I meet to find associations of writers who write what they write and join those groups. The networking and exchange of leads are crucial to getting and staying published. And it’s a great way to meet like-minded people. Most of the people I now consider my best friends are people I met through MWA and SinC.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

I try to keep my schedule as full as possible and all my events are listed on my website. Winter is a little slow because of the weather in the New York City area, where I live, so my next event isn’t till February 26. I’ll be speaking to a group at the Teaneck Public Library in Teaneck NJ about mysteries set in New Jersey and my use of the New Jersey setting for Sweet Man Is Gone. The talk is from 10:30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m.

I attend as many mystery conferences as I can fit into my schedule.  This spring I'll be on panels at Left Coast Crime in Los Angeles and Malice Domestic in Arlington, VA.

I’m in a band now that practices every week in the bass-player’s living room. We’re in the process of lining up some library and bookstore gigs for late spring.

FUN QUESTION: Electric or acoustical guitar – and why?

Electric, absolutely. I love the sound—very different from acoustic—and the guitars themselves are gorgeous. A great fashion accessory! When I started taking lessons, I played an acoustic guitar because we had one that my brother-in-law had discarded. But my goal was always to play an electric guitar. My first teacher once said, “The electric guitar is easier to play but you can do harder things on it.” He was right! The sound of sixties blues-rock could never have existed if the electric guitar hadn’t been invented. At this point I’ve gotten so used to the feel of my electric guitars that I’m all thumbs if I pick up an acoustic guitar.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
http://www.peggyehrhart.com/

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Author Interview with JOSELYN VAUGHN



Joselyn Vaughn lives in the Great Lakes State with her adoring husband, the world's cutest twins and the laziest beagles. She believes there is nothing better than a warm hug, a good romance novel and chocolate.
Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

My dad spent a lot of time during his final years writing about his life and the area where he grew up. Now that I have my own children, I treasure these writings even more. My children will never meet him, but they will be able to hear his voice through his writing and his stories. He often asked me to help him ‘correct’ his stories- to fix the spelling, grammar and punctuation. This was one of the first lessons I learned about writing. None of these need to be perfect to tell a great story. I found I started out making a lot of corrections and eventually made less and less. Writing isn’t just about the grammar and punctuation; it’s about the author’s voice. If I wanted the words to sound like my dad, I had to leave the grammar less-than-perfect in places so we could hear how he would say it.

How long have you been writing? In what genres do you write?

I have been writing for about four years. I have always dabbled here and there, but never tackled anything seriously until I got the idea for CEOs Don’t Cry. I wrote about thirty pages and then it sat for a while. Then I ran into a friend who had just finished her first novel and we started talking. She got me motivated to keep writing and now we meet weekly for motivation, encouragement and critiques.

I am writing sweet romances right now. I may eventually try some other genres, but I have two romances in my head that I need to get down on paper. That darn Ladies Night Out group. They keep telling me about couples that they want to ‘matchmake.’ If I could get them to babysit, I might have a little more time with my computer.

Who is your favorite author and why do you like his/her work?

I would have a hard time picking just one. There are so many authors I like and for all different reasons. It depends on what I am in the mood to read. My all-time favorite is probably Jane Austen. I love her characters and witty remarks. I like Wallace Stegner because his descriptions are amazing and he shows the struggles of his characters so well. I like Julia Quinn because her characters are so lively they jump right off the page and force you to laugh. I like Sandra Boynton for the unexpected twists in her stories. Other authors I really enjoy are W.S. Gager, Janet Evanovich, Georgette Heyer, Carrie Bebris, Jodi Picoult, Philippa Gregory and a bunch of others I can’t think of right now. I most enjoy anything with great characters and at least a little bit of humor.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer?

Right now, it’s finding time to write. I have twin two year olds who are truly embracing being two and an infant. Some days surviving is all I can hope for. Writing time is a luxury. Maybe if the twins decide to nap again and the baby coordinates her nap with theirs … Yeah, that’s probably wishful thinking. I’m going to have to learn to write in bits and pieces for a while. It does make me look forward to preschool.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

My most recent book is CEOs Don’t Cry and it is available online at BN.com and Amazon.com. This is the cover blurb: After being passed over for a junior partnership and getting relegated to a branch office in the middle of nowhere, Leslie Knotts vows that she won’t let budget cuts, corporate upheaval or meddlesome ladies distract her from turning the branch around and showing she has the savvy for the upper echelons of the company.

Organizing and advertising his new construction business has been harder than Mark Schultz expected. Having his Aunt Minnie and her friends from the Ladies Night Out group throwing women in his path isn’t helping matters.

When his aunt's outrageous schemes spell trouble, Leslie and Mark team up to outsmart the Ladies. Mark introduces Leslie to his friends and she discovers genuine friendships as well as a love with Mark like she has never known. When a competing company offers her the big city partnership she has always dreamed of, will Leslie risk her future as a top executive to stay where her heart has found a home?

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

Courting Sparks will hopefully be available from Avalon Books toward the end of 2010/ beginning of 2011. I have two other novels in progress. One is close to being finished and I hope to start sending that one out in the spring. I don’t have a firm title for it yet. My working title was awesome, but it has an unintended innuendo in it, so I will have to come up with something else. At least my critique partners have had a good laugh about it. One of them is great with titles, so we’ll see what she comes up with. I am just starting the rough draft of the second one. Its working title is Heartbreak Hill.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

Keep writing. The hardest part of writing a novel is figuring out the middle of the story. What happens before the characters get to the end? After you finish the first thirty pages or so, the excitement of writing the story has worn off and I think a lot of people just give up. You have to force yourself to keep writing at that point and get the whole story on paper. It might mean writing a bunch of junky chapters, but once you have a rough draft of the story you have something to work with. You change things around or delete them – whatever you need to do. But if you don’t have anything written, you don’t have anything to work with.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?

I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group, and a local library group. I think they are a great way to connect with other writers. You can share joys and woes and experiences. I have learned so much about publishing and how the process works from these organizations. They are also great for motivation. The Grand Rapids Region Writers Group is doing a writing challenge to write 40,000 words between the January and February meeting. Realistically, I don’t think I can write 40,000 words in 5 weeks and keep my sanity, but I am hoping to at least finish the rough draft of my next novel by the February meeting.

FUN QUESTION: Which do you prefer, ice cream or potato chips, and why?

I love ice cream. A creamy chocolate is the best. The cool smooth texture is just heaven. I wouldn’t turn down a bowl with chocolate chips, or nuts, or fudge or brownie chunks. Unfortunately, ice cream doesn’t love me. It makes my pants shrink.  and lactose intolerance is a *****.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

Thursday, January 7, 2010

BOOK SIGNING: 5 Maryland mystery/suspense authors

On Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., five Maryland mystery and suspense authors will sign their books at Little Professor Book Center at 1532 Liberty Road, Eldersburg MD 21784.


David Faulkner, a retired FBI agent and former congressional chief investigator, will sign his debut adventure/mystery novel of the Civil War-era, THE OYSTER WARS.

Mary Ellen Hughes, author of the Craft Corner Mystery Series will sign WREATH OF DECEPTION, STRING OF LIES, and PAPER-THIN ALIBI, three mysteries with a particular touch of arts and crafts.

Debbi Mack, a lawyer, novelist and short story writer whose work has appeared in the CHESAPEAKE CRIMES anthology, will sign her debut novel, IDENTITY CRISIS, a hardboiled mystery of murder and identity theft.

Alan Simon, former CIA operations officer and consultant, will sign his debut spy thriller TO LIVE AMONG WOLVES, in which a CIA "terminator" and his beautiful Mossad partner rush to prevent a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East.

Joanna Campbell Slan, author of PAPER, SCISSORS, DEATH, a 2009 Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel about a young mom turned amateur sleuth, will also sign CUT, CROP & DIE, the second book in the series.

For more information, call Little Professor Book Center at 410-795-8535.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Interview with LINDA BANCHE

Linda Banche is a 2010  EPIC Award nominated author; she shares with us details abuot why she loves to write Regencies and and all kinds of other good stuff.

What prompted you to write Regency Romances?

I write Regency because I read Regency. When I read a romance, I want an escape to a world that is different from ours, but still familiar. The English Regency, that period about 200 years ago during the Napoleonic wars, fits the bill because the first stirrings of the modern era occurred then.

I've enjoyed Regencies for a long time, but a few years ago, I went on a romance reading binge. I visited the library twice a week. I took out armloads of books. The librarians all knew me. I wallowed in Regency, and did I have a great time wallowing.

But then the unthinkable happened: I ran out of books. Panic! My favorite authors can write only so fast, and I didn't like the second string. How could I feed my Regency romance habit? The solution: write my own.

And so the journey began, as I spent my days and nights warming my desk chair as I typed and typed. A story took form. The tale had a beginning, middle, and an end.

I wrote a book! (I won't tell you about all the writing errors I made. After all, I want a happy ending.)  I tell people I'm persistent. That's French for "too stupid to quit".

Share with us the nitty-gritty about research and how you mold your historical characters so they’re true to their era while also sympathetic to those of us in the “modern” world.

I read a lot and I Google a lot. Period novels provide a lot of information about social attitudes. For basic facts, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool is very useful. This book spans the Regency and Victorian eras, and contains a lot of not-obvious information, such as explanations about English money, the political system, and such uniquely British things as titles and the entail.

From there, I went to Google. I searched and I bookmarked everything. I have over fifty Regency bookmark folders, each with about ten bookmarks apiece. I also take the historical courses offered by various Romance Writers of America (RWA) chapters. The Beau Monde, the Regency chapter of the RWA, has a private loop with lots of people who know tons about the era and are more than willing to help.

What aspect of actual writing do you find most enjoyable: plotting or characterization. Why?

Characterization. I don't plot much. I start with an outline, about nine to ten single spaced pages of story, then I go back and fill in. The story follows the outline, but tends to expand as I write and think of more things to add. Pantser am I.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer?

Not letting the promotion overwhelm me. Promo takes an incredible amount of time, and I still don't know what works and what doesn't. We all have to promo, but the writing has to take priority and I still haven't figured out a good balance.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

My latest available book is Pumpkinnapper, a Regency Halloween comedy novella. Here's the blurb:

Pumpkin thieves, a youthful love rekindled and a jealous goose. Oh my!


Last night someone tried to steal the widowed Mrs. Emily Metcalfe's pumpkins. She's certain the culprit is her old childhood nemesis and the secret love of her youth, Henry, nicknamed Hank, whom she hasn't seen in ten years.


Henry, Baron Grey, who's never forgotten the girl he loved but couldn’t pursue so long ago, decides to catch Emily's would-be thief. Even after she reveals his childhood nickname--the one he would rather forget. And even after her jealous pet goose bites him in an embarrassing place.


Oh, the things a man does for love.

Available from The Wild Rose Press in e-format only: Buy link here: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/pumpkinnapper-p-3685.html

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

The Wild Rose Press has just accepted my Regency Christmas novella, Mistletoe Everywhere. I expect the story will be available next December. Here's the blurb:

A man who sees mistletoe everywhere is mad--or in love.


Charles sees mistletoe. Not surprising, since he's spending Christmas at Mistletoe Manor. But, the mistletoe always hangs over Penelope, the despised lady who jilted him after their last meeting. And no one except him sees the mistletoe.


Penelope wants nothing to do with the faithless Charles, the man who cried off after she had accepted his marriage proposal. But he stares at her all the time. Or rather, he stares at the empty ceiling over her head. What does he see?


According to folklore, mistletoe is the plant of peace. Penelope and Charles, so full of hurt and anger, must decide if they will heed the mistletoe's message and make peace.

How thrilled are you that your Regency Time Travel, Lady of the Stars, received a 2010 EPIC Award nomination?

"Thrilled" is too mild a word for my reaction. How about ecstatic, overwhelmed, shocked, flabbergasted? And then multiply those words by ten and you'll get the general idea. I've entered other contests, and I've never been a finalist. In fact, Lady of the Stars started life as a losing contest entry. I know the pros and cons of contests, but, at least once, I'm a finalist. I'd love to win, but I can be very happy as a finalist. At last! More info about Lady of the Stars here: http://www.lindabanche.com/1352.html

In addition to EPIC, what other writer’s organizations do you belong to? How how membership helped (or not helped) advance your writing career?

I belong to the RWA, and the Beau Monde and New England (NECRWA) subchapters. The RWA courses on both writing and history have been a great help. For Regency information, the Beau Monde is a great resource, and I went to an RWA conference, courtesy of the NECRWA. Since I hate to travel, the NECRWA conference is probably the only one I will ever attend. They held the conference at a hotel six miles from my house and I can deal with six miles.

FUN QUESTION: Turkey or chicken, and why?

Turkey, and not because of eating them. Wild turkeys come to my bird feeder, and I love watching them. I can't imagine them on a serving platter. I'll save the eating for their domestic cousins at Thanksgiving.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

Website: http://www.lindabanche.com

[P.S.  Blog Hostess Note:  As former president of RWA's New England Chapter, I vouch for the support of that particular organization, as well as that of the National RWA.]