Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Leigh K. Cunningham - Being Anti-Social - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
Being Anti-Social (BAS) was the working title when the story first germinated. Strangely, I didn’t go through the usual process of considering other possibilities. In BAS, the main protagonist, Mace Evans, references quotes from Oscar Wilde to help guide her through life’s challenges. She considers him her “life coach and mentor”. Oscar Wilde wrote The Importance of Being Earnest and so Being Anti-Social is a play on that. It is also a reference to the quirky, unique movie, Being John Malkovich.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Being Anti-Social is a story about being true to oneself. In the first chapter, the main protagonist, Mace Evans is at yet another family gathering sitting in an armchair reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Her much-unloved older sister tells her she is being anti-social. Mace then embarks on a journey to try and understand why she prefers to be alone, if there’s any basis for her long-standing friendships, and why she has such a difficult time living up to expectations, in particular, her mother’s expectations. She wants to be herself whether others like her or not, but in any event, she embarks on the journey to see if she can and should change.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
Based on the feedback received from readers to date, the story seems to have touched a chord. One reader wrote saying I had unwittingly written her autobiography, and another said she no longer felt so alone being a single woman who enjoys being alone. Many others have said they see themselves in Mace.

There seems to be a lot of people out there who enjoy being home and alone. Society’s reaction to this - and that of friends and family - is usually to coax that person into social situations they simply don’t enjoy. I personally don’t understand the purpose to this (hence the book) – if someone likes being alone and staying home, leave them be. As Oscar Wilde says, “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live; it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

I think the preference for being alone these days may be because our lives have become so incredibly busy and complicated, and people need quiet, private time to recharge. Also, social networking, which brings people together, has for many, become an obligation and burden, and they feel a need to reclaim their private life.

Relationship issues, whether it is with family, partners, colleagues or friends, tend to be the same the world over, so Mace’s encounters within her circles seem to be relatable.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I started writing Being Anti-Social more than five years ago so it has been through endless rewrites during that time. It’s barely three months old so it’s still fresh from the last rewrite in April.

Once I release a book, I avoid reading it again as there will always be something I will want to change; I’m not sure it’s possible to ever be completely happy with my work, but at some point, you have to let it go. However, if someone finds an error, then I would correct it immediately, and that’s the benefit of today’s publishing environment – you can update a book and have the new version back in the marketplace within 48 hours.

Also, if you continue to obsess about a book post-publication, you’ll never get anything new written; you’ll always be fine-tuning the past. Once you’ve published, the focus needs to be on marketing and PR, and writing new material.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
My previous title, Rain was a very dark, tragic, personal story, and it was quite painful to write and rewrite during those six years. I had to regularly confront moments in my life I do not like to relive, like the death of my brothers and the aftermath. Being Anti-Social is chick-lit/humor, and although it also deals with death, it is a much lighter story and it was a joy to write. However, at about 45,000 words into a proposed 80,000 manuscript, I had used or discarded all my story ideas and I had no idea where to go from that point. But I then started having vivid dreams that I could recall in detail the next morning, and these were always relevant to where I had left the story the day before. I incorporated these dreams, and they moved me and the story along until the next road block. Then there would be another dream and this process continued until the end for 30,000+ words. So the dreams Mace has in the story are actual dreams I had the night before I wrote that part of the story.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Writing is a learning experience on many levels. Firstly, as an author, you must continuously learn more about the craft, and be courageous enough to try new ways of construction so each book doesn’t sound the same as the last or the same as other authors.

Then, with each story, there is learning about places, history, cultures, and people and what makes them tick. Like an actor, you have to ‘be’ someone else and absorb their attitudes and viewpoint, which are often diametrically opposed to your own. For example, I’m a Christian but I often have characters who are atheists, like Matthew Baden in Rain, and Mace Evans in Being Anti-Social has difficulties connecting with her Christian mother and sister who she feels are judgmental.

There’s also learning about yourself and how your mind works. My mind tries to sabotage my writing progress by constantly offering up other things to do when I need to be writing.

Once published, authors also need to learn how best to cope with criticism and negativity, which is unavoidable, even if you’re JK Rowling. I never set out believing everyone would love everything I write, so that makes it easier to accept and live in harmony with criticism. I’ve never felt compelled to respond to or address a negative review, and I don’t spend any time or energy dwelling on them. It achieves nothing.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
English was always my favorite subject at school, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve had the story of Rain percolating in my head although it ended up completely different to that first draft (as you would hope after six years!). I was also influenced by Angela’s Ashes and The Thorn Birds for this story. JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye was an influence for Being Anti-Social, particularly because I enjoyed the first-person narrative of Holden Caulfield.

My next three books all sprouted from fleeting moments in time: my two children’s books came to life from a dream my husband had about a glass table at the bottom of a river – that’s all he could remember, but by the next day I had drafted the outline for a children’s fantasy story and several of the main characters. Being pressured by friends to go out on the town when all I wanted to do was stay home was the catalyst for Being Anti-Social.

I do find the writing process extremely challenging. When I’m writing a first draft, that’s all I do until it’s done for eight hours every day for however many weeks it takes. And there are always several moments in every day when my mind tries to tempt me into doing something, anything else, so it takes a lot of commitment and focus to stay at the laptop until the day is over.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’ll have to go with George Orwell, although it makes me feel like I’m betraying good friends (JD Salinger and John Steinbeck). I’ve chosen George Orwell because I love how he wrote about social injustices and the politics of his time (Stalinism, corruption, ignorance and indifference – how awesome was Animal Farm!) Then there was the satirical Nineteen Eight-Four, which was considered dystopian in its time, but in hindsight seems more prophetic.

And like my favorite playwrite, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell was witty and sarcastic, and his work intelligent, clear and precise.

9. Tell us your latest news.
Readers Favorite has short-listed Being Anti-Social for an award in two categories: Chick-lit and Humor.

In September I will be embarking on a radio tour of the USA with Annie Jennings PR.

Later in the year, I hope to make some inroads into the third book in The Glass Table series. And since I’ve received a lot of requests from readers for a sequel to Rain, I need to start planning for that as it will probably require some time in Luanda, Angola, which does not appeal to my husband at all.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read my books. And naturally, I’m especially appreciative to those who were kind enough to post generous reviews, and those who sent emails and posted kind comments on my Facebook wall.

I also would like to thank the many book clubs that chose to read Rain, which seems to have generated a lot of discussion and polarized viewpoints. One lady wrote, “My book club just read Rain and it inspired passionate and sometimes heated discussion on a number of topics. Thank you for writing a book that gave us such a great discussion!” That’s the kind of feedback that makes being a writer all worthwhile. I think most authors, especially those writing literary fiction, would like to know they’ve raised issues that are challenging even though it means your book is one that readers will love or hate. Rain is definitely one of those books, but ironically, I didn’t set out to write a divisive story.


About the Book

Mace Evans is single at thirty-eight. When her much unloved older sister, Shannon, declares that Mace is anti-social, she embarks on a journey to understand her condition; whether she was born that way or if it is the accumulation of thirty-eight years of unfortunate encounters with other humans and dogs.

For reasons unbeknown to Mace, she has an affair with a work colleague, which brings an unexpected end to her perfect marriage. And as if the self-imposed torture and regret is not enough, Mace endures ongoing judgment from her older sister and mother, which further exacerbates already tenuous relationships.

With support from her four best friends, merlot and pizza, and with guidance from her life coach and mentor, Oscar Wilde, Mace recovers to a degree, but in her quest to understand her anti-social ways, she finds herself wondering about the quality of the fabric that keeps her network of friends intact.

When Mace's mother is diagnosed with cancer, Mace searches for common ground on which to connect before it is too late.

Price: $12.95
Paperback: 316 pages
Genre: Chick-lit, Humor
Publisher: Vivante Publishing
Date: May 19, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-9810720933
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository (UK), Borders (Australia)       


About the Author

Leigh K Cunningham is a lawyer with a career as a senior executive for a number of public companies in her home country of Australia. She has master’s degrees in law (Master of International Trade and Investment Law) and commerce (Master of Commerce) as well as an MBA (International Management).

RAIN, Leigh's first title for the adult fiction market (April 2011) was named the winner in the Literary Fiction category at the 2011 Indie Excellence Awards. RAIN was also awarded a silver medal at the 2011 Independent Publisher Awards (IPPY) in the Regional Fiction: Australia/New Zealand category. RAIN was #1 on the Amazon bestseller list for Women’s Fiction (December 2011).

Leigh's first two children's books, THE GLASS TABLE and its sequel, SHARDS are recipients of silver medals from the Mom's Choice Awards. SHARDS was also a finalist at the 2011 Indie Excellence Awards in the Juvenile Fiction category.

BEING ANTI-SOCIAL is Leigh's latest title (May 2012). It has been chosen as a Finalist at the 2012 Readers Favorite Awards in two categories: Chick-lit and Humor. Winners announced September 2012.

Links to connect with Leigh:
Web Site
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
LinkedIn
Blog


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Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Giveaway Hop

Congratulations to our winner!
ineedadietcoke [at] aol [dot] com


Enter to win the young adult ebook release, The Color of Snow from Tribute Books.


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2) Leave a comment with your email address.

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The Color of Snow
by Brenda Stanley


Can a troubled young girl reenter society after living in isolation?

When a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Sophie is found sequestered in a cage-like room in a rundown house in the desolate hills of Arbon Valley, Idaho, the entire community is shocked to learn she is the legendary Callidora--a baby girl who was kidnapped from her crib almost seventeen years ago and canonized in missing posters with portraits of what the fabled girl might resemble. Authorities soon learn that the cage was there to protect people from Sophie, because her biological father believes she is cursed.

Sophie is discovered after the man she knows as Papa, shoots and injures Damien, a young man who is trying to rescue her. Now, unsocialized and thrust into the world, and into a family she has never met, Sophie must decide whether she should accept her Papa’s claims that she is cursed and he was only trying to protect others, or trust the new people in her life who have their own agendas. Guided by a wise cousin, Sophie realizes that her most heartbreaking challenge is to decide if her love for Damien will destroy him like her Papa claims, or free her from past demons that haunt her mind.

http://the-color-of-snow.blogspot.com/


Friday, July 27, 2012

Guy J. Tirondola - The Accidental Don - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
I workshopped my original title, Don Beaufort, at a NYC Pitch and Shop/Algonkian Writer Conference. The title confused the participants. They assumed the novel was about a man named Don Beaufort. A reasonable assumption. And, since they had no idea who Don Beaufort was, there was very little interest in reading about him. Naturally, I was alarmed by their response. I’d been so distracted with the creation of the story, it hadn’t occurred to me that people wouldn’t ‘get’ the title. Don Beaufort is not a name, rather it’s the moniker given to the protagonist, Donato De Luca, by the inhabitants of Beaufort, SC. They presumed Donato was a Mafia don sent by the mob to control the Beaufort area; hence they referred to him as Don Beaufort.

I needed a new title, and fast – something that would convey the unwitting plight of my protagonist. I worked through the night. Finally, I settled on The Accidental Don. The group approved. Later, my wife contributed the subtitle, A Man Caught Between Two Identities. That sealed the deal. I learned the power of collaboration.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I hope they gain insight into those things that are common to dissimilar cultures. It’s easy to be blinded by superficial surface differences, and miss traits all too familiar to the human experience.

The characters in my novel are from two seemingly different worlds – the urbanized north and the rural south of the 1950’s. Differences in language and lifestyle offer the writer a lot of material to play with. But, I chose to dig deeper and reveal similarities, dark similarities. In particular, the power brokers and how they exploit and control their victims through fear and intimidation, regardless of culture and setting.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
Almost all of it. I used real events, some real people (e.g. the historical character, Richie the Boot), accurate places and dates, and characters drawn from people I’ve known. I took all of the above and wove them into a fictitious story.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Every time I read it, I find sentences I want to tweak, or scenes I want to alter. Does that ever end? I don’t know. Probably not.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Two things. First, the research took a lot of time and effort. Second, the middle of the book.

When I began writing, I had the beginning and ending clearly established in my mind. I also had some middle scenes worked out, but wasn’t sure how to connect it all. So, I just started writing.

What happened next was amazing. As I reached those sticking points in the story, I would stop to contemplate my next move. Usually, I went for a walk in the woods. The answers would come. From where? I don’t know. It felt like somewhere outside myself.

The creative process is so mysterious.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned to trust my instincts. I learned to move forward, even when I’m not exactly sure where I’m going. I learned to be open to criticism, and use it positively. I learned there’s no better feeling in the world than when someone tells you they love what you’ve created.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
In 1981, I fell in love with the gorgeous prose of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. It gave me a passion for the beauty and power of words. That experience created the desire to write.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
See my answer to question 7.

9. Tell us your latest news.
I had an awesome book-launch party in April on the very site where much of the novel takes place – Port Royal Pasta House in Beaufort, SC, which used to be owned by my grandfather and was called Joe’s Spaghetti House.

I continue to write, the sequel and short stories.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope my writing entertains you and, in some small way, touches your soul.


About the Book

Locals in a small southern coastal village come to fear Donato De Luca, the stranger who has settled among them, whom they wrongly surmise to be a Mafia don. Donato, a bar owner from Newark, on the run, falsely accused of stealing money from the mob, uses his new-found evil identity as a force for good, combating hatred, bigotry, superstition, and finally confronting the mob boss who has arrived to kill him.

Donato’s journey reveals that some men are born wicked, some men achieve wickedness, and some men have wickedness thrust upon them.

Formats/Prices: $9.99 paperback, $0.99 Kindle
Pages: 231
Genre: thriller
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release: March, 2012
Buy Link: Amazon


About the Author

Award-winning short-story writer, Guy J Tirondola, was raised in Newark, NJ, and summered in Beaufort, SC. He is a denizen of city streets and salt marshes. This cultural mélange informs his writing sensibilities. Guy brings an insider’s perspective to THE ACCIDENTAL DON.

Link to connect with Guy:
Web Site 


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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Brenda Stanley - The Color of Snow - Guest Post & Giveaway



About the Book

Can a troubled young girl reenter society after living in isolation?

When a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Sophie is found sequestered in a cage-like room in a rundown house in the desolate hills of Arbon Valley, Idaho, the entire community is shocked to learn she is the legendary Callidora--a baby girl who was kidnapped from her crib almost seventeen years ago and canonized in missing posters with portraits of what the fabled girl might resemble. Authorities soon learn that the cage was there to protect people from Sophie, because her biological father believes she is cursed.

Sophie is discovered after the man she knows as Papa, shoots and injures Damien, a young man who is trying to rescue her. Now, unsocialized and thrust into the world, and into a family she has never met, Sophie must decide whether she should accept her Papa’s claims that she is cursed and he was only trying to protect others, or trust the new people in her life who have their own agendas. Guided by a wise cousin, Sophie realizes that her most heartbreaking challenge is to decide if her love for Damien will destroy him like her Papa claims, or free her from past demons that haunt her mind.


Guest Post

The Color of Snow has been described as dark or mysterious. I feel most of my writing fits this description because I enjoy looking at the strange and unusual things in life. My novel will definitely make some people uncomfortable. I like to look at situations and issues and try to figure out how people will react. For years I was a crime reporter, so I enjoy investigating stories and learning about the parts of life most people try to hide. When I wrote The Color of Snow, I was working on a story about a young girl who went missing years ago and has never been found. I started thinking about what would happen if she were to suddenly show up now. I loved putting myself in Sophie’s shoes and seeing things for the first time.

Sophie’s relationship with Damien is both intense and tempered. Her father has raised her to believe that she will destroy anyone who truly loves her, so she is torn between her love for Damien and her fear of causing him harm.

The story changes between what is going on with Sophie and what happened in her parent’s past that brought her to where she is. I wanted readers to experience the often isolated feeling of living in a vast rural area, but also the mental confinement of a small town.

Mental illness, teen pregnancy, religious intolerance, and racism are all big parts of The Color of Snow. I like my characters to face challenges and see them grow from them. It is not only the conflicts with the other characters that keeps the story going, but also those within the person’s own mind.

***

Click here to read an excerpt.

The Color of Snow can be purchased at:
Kindle
Nook
iBookstore
Google
Smashwords
PDF


Price: $2.99-$4.99 ebook
ISBN: 9780983741893, 9781476172309
Pages: 413
Release: June 1, 2012


About the Author

Brenda Stanley is former television news anchor and investigative reporter for the NBC affiliate in Eastern Idaho. She has been recognized for her writing by the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Hearst Journalism Awards, The Idaho Press Club and the Society for Professional Journalists. She is a graduate of Dixie College in St. George, Utah and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She is the mother of 5 children, including two sets of twins. Brenda and her husband Dave, a veterinarian, live on a small ranch near the Snake River with their horses and dogs.

Connect with Brenda:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lois Banner - Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
Marilyn was very passionate—on many levels—but she was also a complex, contradictory human being—a paradox in many ways.



2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Since Marilyn is emerging as an icon for the twentieth century, I wanted readers to realize that her many complexities—she is everywoman writ large. Above all, I wanted readers to understand the effect of childhood sex abuse on her life.



3. How much of the book is realistic?
It’s a biography, so it’s totally taken from reality.



4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
No.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Organizing it was very difficult. In the end, I varied the normal progression of biography, adding a chapter in the middle of the book that is an analysis of her.



6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Every biography I write is a total learning experience—about places, people, events I knew very little about.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
When I was a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University and then a university professor.



8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I read the work of Erik Larson because I like his blending of fact and fiction. Favorite author? Edith Wharton, Betty Friedan.



9. Tell us your latest news.
I’m preparing my course on Beauty and the Body in history—it should turn into my next book.



10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Marilyn Monroe is probably quite different from the person you think she is.



About the Book

Marilyn Monroe is an icon whose life and legacy continues to be shrouded in contradictions and inaccuracies. As an academic who has been at the forefront of women’s issues for the last half decade, Banner spent nine years researching the intimate details of Monroe’s life, interviewing more than one hundred people in her inner circle and fan club, and examining confidential papers and ledgers in the final years of her life that previous biographers have failed to analyze.

Through this meticulous research, Banner refutes much of the mythology surrounding Monroe, offering a depth to her story that has never been fully told, and exposing new facets of her personality and facts surrounding her life—the childhood foster homes and sexual abuse, Hollywood persona, multiple marriages, Kennedy access, physical and mental health issues, sex and drug addictions, and chain of events leading up to her tragic death—in order to present an accurate depiction of this flawed, yet heroic figure. Through her lens, we see a very different Marilyn Monroe—not merely a blond bombshell nor a fragile victim—but someone she reveals as a radical, an intellectual, someone with a deep interest in spirituality, and one of the most important women of the 20th century.

Since Marilyn’s death on August 5, 1962, the appetite for information about her has been insatiable with recent depictions in the critically acclaimed film My Week with Marilyn and the new television series Smash. In MARILYN, Lois Banner takes Marilyn Monroe seriously and dignifies her as no biographer ever has, presenting a thoughtful treatment that Monroe fans and the new wave of feminists are sure to appreciate.

Price: $30.00
Pages: 431
Genre: biography
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release date: August 1, 2012
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble 


About the Author

Lois Banner was a founder of the field of women's history and cofounder of the Berkshire Conference in Women's History, the major academic event in the field. She is the author of ten books, including her acclaimed American Beauty and most recently MM–Personal, which reproduces and discusses items from Marilyn's personal archives. In addition to her books on Monroe, Banner is a major collector of her artifacts. She is also a professor of history and gender studies at USC and lives in Southern California.

Links to connect with Lois:
Facebook 
Web Site 
YouTube 
Blog


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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Young Adult Giveaway Hop

Congratulations to our winner!
sarah.elizabeth.bookworm [at] gmail [dot] com


Enter to win the young adult ebook release, The Color of Snow from Tribute Books.


1) Click here to create a verified email subscription to Tribute Books Blog.

2) Leave a comment with your email address.

***


The Color of Snow
by Brenda Stanley


Can a troubled young girl reenter society after living in isolation?

When a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Sophie is found sequestered in a cage-like room in a rundown house in the desolate hills of Arbon Valley, Idaho, the entire community is shocked to learn she is the legendary Callidora--a baby girl who was kidnapped from her crib almost seventeen years ago and canonized in missing posters with portraits of what the fabled girl might resemble. Authorities soon learn that the cage was there to protect people from Sophie, because her biological father believes she is cursed.

Sophie is discovered after the man she knows as Papa, shoots and injures Damien, a young man who is trying to rescue her. Now, unsocialized and thrust into the world, and into a family she has never met, Sophie must decide whether she should accept her Papa’s claims that she is cursed and he was only trying to protect others, or trust the new people in her life who have their own agendas. Guided by a wise cousin, Sophie realizes that her most heartbreaking challenge is to decide if her love for Damien will destroy him like her Papa claims, or free her from past demons that haunt her mind.

http://the-color-of-snow.blogspot.com/


Katie Ganshert - Wildflowers from Winter - Author Interview & Giveaway

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
The wonderful, creative minds at my publishing house came up with that one. We wanted something that would communicate the whole idea of the coldness that comes with grief and God’s ability to thaw us out, bring us back to life. Wildflowers from Winter was one of the idea tossed out there. After learning that the snowier the winter, the more wildflowers there are in the spring, I knew that was the one. It fit so well with the theme of the story.



2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The message is intimately tied to the title. I hope, after reading my story, that readers would see that we worship a God of redemption. He is able to take the barren lifeless things in this world—the barren lifeless places in our hearts—and make them new. Make them beautiful.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
Thankfully, not too much! Bethany, Evan, and Robin go through a lot in this story. The only piece that is a bit biographical is the back story behind Robin and Bethany’s friendship. Like Robin, I gave my life to Christ as a freshman in college. And like Robin, I wrote my best friend (we grew up together) a very passionate email about what Christ had done in my life. And like Bethany, the email understandably scared her. Her life went one way. My life went another. We grew apart.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Oh, writers are a neurotic bunch. Or maybe that’s just me! It’s almost impossible for me to read my work and not want to hide under a pillow and change something. Something as simple as a word or a phrase can drive me batty.

Those are all smaller things.

As a whole, I wouldn’t change anything. I love the story and I love my characters’ journeys. 



5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Probably getting the grief right. Because I’ve never gone through what Robin goes through in this novel, I was very nervous about making it authentic and respecting the readers who have gone through what Robin experiences in the novel. I did a lot of research on grief and I read Richard Mabry’s book, A Tender Scar, which really helped me get inside Robin’s head.

I’m always very humbled and grateful when readers say I portrayed her grief in a very realistic way.



6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I feel like God always teaches me something with each novel I write. For this one, it wasn’t so much the book’s content as the journey it brought me on. I had to surrender this story more times than I can count. I felt like God really used this book to teach me to further trust in Him. 



7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always been a writer. As soon as I could wield a pencil and string words into a story. My mom had notebooks filled with my stories tucked away in her basement. I truly believe it’s a passion God planted in my heart when He created me.



8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Oh, there are so many! It’s so hard to pick only one. But I guess if I had to, I’d say Francine Rivers. She’s written two of my all-time favorite stories. Redeeming Love and the Mark of the Lion trilogy. Both of which carried me away to a different time and place and drew me closer to the Lord in the process. 



9. Tell us your latest news.
My next book, Wishing on Willows, is in the works and will hit shelves on March 19, 2013. This is Robin’s story, who is an important secondary character in Wildflowers from Winter.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just that I love every single one of you. Thanks so much for reading and I hope my stories bless you. I’d love to connect, so please don’t be afraid to say hi or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or my blog. Also, if you read and enjoy Wildflowers from Winter, I have a bunch of fun extras on my website.


About the Book

A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built a life far removed from her trailer park teen years. Until an interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa. Determined to pay her respects while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.

Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. So when Bethany is left the land, he must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany's vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.

For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn't seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace she's not even sure exists?

Genre: Fiction/Romance/Contemporary
ISBN: 978- 30773038-1
Pages: 310
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Format: Trade Paperback
Price: $9.99 U.S. / $11.99 Canada
Buy Links: Amazon, waterbrookmultnomah.com


About the Author

Katie Ganshert was born and raised in the Midwest, where she writes stories about finding faith and falling in love. When she’s not busy plotting her next novel, she enjoys watching romantic movies with her husband, playing make-believe with her wild-child of a son, and chatting with her girlfriends over bagels and coffee. She could talk books all day and is often spotted around town pushing a stroller, walking a dog, and reading—all at the same time.

Link to connect with Katie:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Pinterest
YouTube

About the Giveaway

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Monday, July 23, 2012

L.M. Preston - Flutter of Luv - Review



Review

In high school, girls generally tend to fall in two categories. The extroverts brimming with self-confidence regarding their physical appearance and their ability to attract the opposite sex; and the introverts doused in self-consciousness about their looks and their belief that no boy would ever be interested in them. Young adult author L.M. Preston explores the feminine dynamics between the guy magnets and the romantically inexperienced in her novella, Flutter of Luv. What makes her spin on the age-old dichotomy unique is that she infuses the realistic reaction of a good-looking boy into the equation. How he responds to the advances of the physical versus the emotional speaks volumes about how young love is confusing yet rewarding.

Our heroine is Dawn, an African American sophomore living with her grandmother in an urban environment of row houses and raggedy yards. She is described as looking young for her age with a flat chest, protruding braces and thick-rimmed glasses. Her so-called best friend is Poochie, a girl who attracts boys like bees to honey with her provocative clothing and her come-hither attitude. She gets her kicks by putting Dawn down every chance she gets and flaunting her romantic conquests in her face. But things turn heated when Poochie sets her sights on Tony.

Tony is the new boy in town who joins the high school team as a star running back. Dawn, an amateur football player, herself, immediately falls for the handsome athlete. The two eventually strike up a strong friendship based on their mutual interests, and Tony comes to feel a sense of protectiveness for his tomboy sidekick. However, he is a teenage boy and Preston demonstrates how he follows his hormones over his heart by dating more good-looking girls while keeping Dawn at bay. He is innately drawn to Dawn, but he cannot reconcile her outward appearance with her inner qualities.

Tony is immature at the start of the story succumbing to peer pressure and his role as a football jock. Yet time and again, he returns to Dawn. He calls her every evening relating his dates with other girls as she kisses the phone receiver good night. It's heartbreaking that he can't get past her looks to recognize the true connection that has formed between them. He encourages her to wear her hair down, takes off her glasses, etc. in order to mold her into what society says is acceptable in terms of beauty. But ever so gradually, he learns to appreciate her for who she really is.

The push and pull is evident in the following passage:

"Hopefully, he won't say anything about my rubbing his back. It could've been seen as nothing, but I knew I did it because I wanted him. I wanted him to see me as someone he could date. But it was stupid. It would never happen."

Preston's ear for adolescent dialogue is once again right on the money. Her characters speak to each other in taunts and jabs whether it's a Dawn and Poochie cat fight in the back of the prom limo or Tony exercising his verbal prowess with the other guys on the field. Their interplay rings true. Sparring is the ultimate form of communication.

Here's a tidbit from a Dawn and Poochie exchange:

"You can't even pass for an 8th grader."

That's it. I stuck out my small chest. "I can too!"

"If you think those little things can catch a guy, why haven't you got one yet?"

Where the novella leaves you wanting more is the abrupt ending. Preston makes the reader feel for the relationship that has slowly been building throughout, and a longing for a continuation of Dawn and Tony's story is keenly felt. There is also a time gap near the conclusion when the two are separated that yearns to be filled, even possibly by a shift to Tony's point-of-view. But overall, Preston brings her story to a conclusion that will satisfy teenage readers regarding the possibility of establishing an enduring connection with someone that can last far beyond the bounds of a fleeting high school romance.

Overall, Flutter of Luv keeps it real when it comes to portraying adolescent attraction.


About the Book
Dawn, the neighborhood tomboy is happy to be her best friend’s shadow. Acceptance comes from playing football after school with the guys on the block while hiding safely behind her glasses, braces and boyish ways. But Tony moves in, becomes the star running back on her school’s team and changes her world and her view of herself forever.

eBook
Price: $0.99
Release: June 1, 2012
Buy Link: Kindle
Other Links: Goodreads




About the Author

L.M. Preston loved to create poetry and short-stories as a young girl. She worked in the IT field as a Techie and Educator for over sixteen years. Her passion for writing science fiction was born under the encouragement of her husband who was a Sci-Fi buff and her four kids. Her obsessive desire to write and create stories of young people who overcome unbelievable odds feeds her creation of multiple series for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers thirsty for an adventure. She loves to write while on the porch watching her kids play or when she is traveling, which is another passion that encouraged her writing.

Links to connect with L.M.:
Web Site
Blog
Facebook #1
Facebook #2
Twitter
Goodreads
 


 





About the Blog Tour

Flutter of Luv blog tour site
and
Tribute Books Blog Tours

Friday, July 20, 2012

Diana M. Raab - Listening to Africa - Spotlight



About the Book

Poet Diana M. Raab travels to the heart of Africa with her family to experience the beauty and fascination of another world. During her safari, she observes the distress, the delight, and the dignity of the humans and animals who live there and parallels them with her own quest for health.


Excerpts

48-Hour Travel

Should you decide
to take a safari here
you might want to consider
packing some meager comforts of home,
even though they will do little
to protect you from
such haunting newness.
But still, take a two-day supply of patience,
ear plugs, sleeping pills, a few good books,
a thick journal and a pound of prevention,
the comprehensive pill bag
with compartments for each ail.
If you plan on foreign intimacy,
don’t rely on public bathrooms
to supply your protection—
be prepared with your own custom size.
For game rides, snatch volumes
of insect repellant and sunscreen
and a wrinkled ribbed hat,
to shield your neck
from the last blow
of the jungle’s sunset
in this place which will
remind you of the reason for living.
***

Digestive Paranoia

All drinks and foods
echo travelogue warnings,
specified by tropical disease doctors
written with daunting stories
of the perils of lifelong parasites
and flat admonishments
about this disease-infested land.
I reflect upon the Aztecs and Indians
decimated by steel and germs
and I fear the revenge of the aborigines
passed out invisibly during handshakes,
while my latent cancer cells
which I carry in my mind and marrow,
must never be awakened
under the stars of this dark continent.
I slip through my day
and suckle from sealed bottles
with an ongoing digestive paranoia.
***

Mischievous Monkeys

This morning as I sat reading my book
inside the empty breakfast tent,
my eyes caught some stirrings
on a buffet of exotic cheeses.
A family of funny monkeys
from a neighboring tree were tempted
by this edible fermentation, as they
sprang themselves onto
the decorated elongated table.
I stood up and tip-toed in their direction.
After another monkey spotted me
and stared deep into my green eyes,
warning me to leave, he tossed
himself onto a nearby branch,
cheese dangling from his primate mouth.
The hostess announced her presence
and clapped them away while another rascal
dropped slippery green grapes to the ground
and scurried up yet another tree.
He glanced back at me like a naughty child
who understands a forehead
written with punishment,
like the one given to my children
during their own mischievous moments.
Here in this African jungle,
I do not want to be a parent—
all I want to do is chuckle
and slowly sip my coffee
and skip along with my day.

***

Disease Dance


While traveling this continent,
my safari pants’ pockets
brim with Western remedies
to fend off threatened diseases
as germs and parasites conspire against me
within the waters and dense canopies.
We breathe and touch
strange sleeping and sucking ails,
unknown and unspeakable
on every fearsome occasion.
I reach down for the disinfectant
but do not want to touch the spot
laden with lurking dangers.
Under my breath I give thanks
to all the scientists who stand single file
awaiting kudos for their
germ-killing chemicals
nestled between me and the fatal demons.
***

Dung Beetles

It is an early Botswana morning
and the dew clings to the mellow marsh.
Through our binoculars
we scan for animals, while our driver
points down to dung beetle tracks.
As a city girl, I see only a bare swamp,
until this round tennis-ball-size
mound of mud transports itself
across a closed concave path.
While my naked eyes morph into magnifiers,
the beetle pushes along, as his female
clings for life onto the perimeter of this ball
of elephant dung once mistaken for mud.
Mr. Dung rolls his straight school ruler’s edge line,
and he advances as fast as he can.
As he propels forth his breeding ground,
I wonder what it might look like
if I rolled my king-sized bed up Fifth Avenue
during my own mating season.
***

Departure Morning

As we gather our belongings
hunched over suitcases
set for the trip home, I glance
down at my five pairs of safari shorts,
warm wool socks and rain jackets
and wonder about their future use.
At breakfast we hear our guide
speak of once-a-month ten dollar bus rides
to visit families, and my heart
bleeds into his story
as I realize how there is really little we can do
to redress his life here in Zimbabwe
where houses are vandalized, burned
and run down and where natives
labor long hours for food
or clothing and where currency
holds no meaning.
I march to my tent and grab
the laundry basket hidden beneath my bed
to pile my safari clothes, folded in neat piles.
I tromp up the hill grasping its handles
to tell our guide that my stuff is for his people.
He turns around and hugs me tight
and with a shattered sense of love says,
“You made me a spiritual millionaire!”—
And I feel my blood bubble with joy.
***

Trip Summary

You can have the Bahamas, Figi, and Belize.
You can have Club Med and Pebble Beach Golf Resort.
Now, the only place that tugs me is a
faraway world with hidden surprises,
where barefoot young pilots
land and take off on short gravel runways
as sweat drips from my brow of curiosity.
So return the fluffy softened towels,
perfumed personally wrapped soaps,
roll-on suitcases and collapsible luggage racks
and take in nature singing at sunrise,
lighting the dance of barefoot smiling maids
lugging buckets of homemade detergents
down long winding wooden paths,
fresh-baked breads and open markets.
They will bestow you with memories
guaranteed to make you weep, even
if you live your time there in unforgettable fear.


***

Listening to Africa can be purchased at:
Amazon
Antrim House
Price: $16.00 paperback
ISBN: 9781936482184
Pages: 80
Release: April 18, 2012


About the Author

Diana M. Raab is a memoirist, essayist and poet. She has a B.S. in Health Administration and Journalism, and an RN degree from Vanier College in Montreal, in addition to an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Spalding University’s Low-Residency Program.

Diana has been writing from an early age. As a child of two working parents, she spent a lot of time crafting letters and keeping a daily journal. A journaling advocate and educator, Diana teaches creative journaling and memoir in workshops around the country. She frequently speaks and writes about the healing powers of writing.

She’s the award-winning author of eight books, and the author of over 500 articles and poems. Her release is Writers on the Edge: 22 Writers Speak About Addiction and Depression, co-edited with James Brown, which is a compilation of essays by renowned writers discussing how addiction has influenced their literary lives. She is also editor of Writers and Their Notebooks, a collection of essays written by well-known writers who keep journals.

Raab is the author of two memoirs, Regina's Closet: Finding My Grandmother's Secret Journal, winner of the 2008 National Indie Excellence Award for Memoir and Healing With Words, the 2011 Mom's Choice Award Winner for Adult Nonfiction.

She is also a registered nurse who teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and at various writing workshops across the country. She is the author of four poetry collections, My Muse Undresses Me (2007); Dear Anais: My Life in Poems for You (2008), winner of The Reader Views Award and an Allbooks Review Editor's Choice Award; The Guilt Gene (2009); and Listening to Africa (2012).

Her poetry and prose have appeared in national journals and anthologies such as Rattle, Rosebud, Litchfield Review, Tonopah Review, Writers' Journal, A Cafe in Space, the Toronto Quarterly, Common Ground Review, The Smoking Poet, Snail Mail Review, New Mirage Journal, Lucidity, Blood and Thunder, Jet Fuel Review, Ascent, and The Huffington Post.

Links to connect with Diana:
Web Site
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Tribute Books Blog Tour Site

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chris Mendius - Spoonful - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
I was inspired by the title from an old Willie Dixon blues tune called "Spoonful". The song is about how all people will fight for that spoonful of whatever they need, be it as money, dope, fame or even love. Spoonful is also the name of the bar where my characters hang out. And, of course, there's the inherent reference to heroin use.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I'd like my readers to see drug addicts as the afflicted people they are as opposed to the sub-human lowlifes society often makes them out to be. I hope the book allows readers to reflect on the demonization of the drug culture and relate to addicts as people with the feelings, hopes and dreams we all share. However, I didn't intend to convey any message when I wrote the book; I was just trying to tell a good story.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
All of it is realistic. It's based on my personal experience back in the day as well as real people I knew then.

If a truly authentic experience of the life of a dopefiend is off-putting to any readers, this is not the book for them. But I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from mainstream readers who have found the book illuminates this subculture in ways that changed their perception of addicts and addiction. I've been extremely gratified by these types of responses.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Other then editing out a few typos my editor missed. I wouldn't change a thing.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing was the biggest challenge. I had to let go of that writer's ego and realize there were major elements that could be improved, especially in regard to character development. It took me a year to write the book and at least as long to edit and revise it. The process was often frustrating and even contentious, but ultimately I think it made me a much stronger writer.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned it's all about the characters, and that characters are revealed as much as they are written. Once I was able to have a firm grasp of who the characters were and the atmosphere that surrounded them, the story seemed to almost write itself.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It originated with a desire to see more of the kinds of stories I like to read, dark but funny and marked by smart, colorful characters and periodic bursts of realistic violence. Writing also allows me to escape into a world that i would never want to revisit in my real life but can still enjoy hanging out in vicariously through my writing.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Fyodor Dostoevsky is my favorite author, mainly because of his characters. They're so deep and tormented, whether it's from their inner demons or the crushing weight of nineteenth century Russian society. What's more, as heavy as Dostoevsky can be, I love the humor he manages to work into his stories.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
First and foremost, I'd like to thank them for supporting indie publishing and choosing to spend some time in the little world I created. And readers: if you like Spoonful, please recommend the book to those you think may also enjoy it. And stay tuned for the sequel, In The Pines, hopefully out by the end of 2013.


About the Book

With humor, irony, and colorful prose, this gritty and authentic novel follows Michael Lira—a decent guy with a wicked heroin habit—as he sees everyone getting ahead except for him and his friends, who are all junkies, artists, and has-beens. In the era of Bill Clinton and the dot-com boom, his Wicker Park neighborhood has become overrun with hipsters and yuppies, leaving him to support his lifestyle through petty crime and the occasional drug deal. After finally seeing a chance to make a real move, Michael swears off dope and builds a stake in the drug dealing world, hoping to parlay it into enough cash to start a new life as a solid citizen. With the help of Sal, his partner in crime, he manages to pull together a bundle of money and rolls the dice in the stock market—everyone else is getting rich, so why can’t he? In spite of his good intentions, Michael’s best-laid plans fall apart and his life spins out of control, leaving him to struggle against the ever-present pull towards the downward spiral of addiction.

Price: $14.95
Pages: 322
Genre: Literary Fiction
Release Date: February 2012
Publisher: Anthing Goes Publishing LLC
Distributor: IPG/Small Press United
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound


About the Author

Chris Mendius grew up in Naperville, Illinois. He earned a BSME from University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and an MBA from University of Chicago. After college, he moved to Chicago and started writing. He currently lives with his family in Oak Park, Illinois. Spoonful is his first published novel.

Link to connect with Chris:
Facebook

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rick D. Niece, Ph.D. - The Band Plays On - Author Interview & Giveaway

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
The book, The Band Plays On, takes a nostalgic step back in time. An aging group of former students and band members return to their small home town (population 900) to celebrate the life of their beloved music teacher from decades past, Lewis Niece. “Lewie’s Alumni Band” gathers to rehearse a routine for half-time during the local school’s football game. They also practice to march in a parade the next day and play a concert downtown.

The title of the book references an old music classic, “The Band Played On,” written in 1895. That song begins with this lyric:

Casey would waltz with a strawberry blond
And the band played on.

The difference is that in this lyric, the band “played” on—a verb in the past tense. The title of my book is in the present tense, plays, to signify that this music continues on and on in hearts and memories.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, there is a message. First, I believe The Band Plays On is heartwarming, humorous, and reflective and that my stories provide an entertaining, inspirational, and nostalgic glimpse into lives richly lived. The book allows me to share all of this with others.

Second, music is an essential part of my life, especially classical music. I was raised in a house where classical music was ubiquitous. I firmly believe that the music we are exposed to as infants, and then raised with, becomes our predilection for life. I want for my readers to understand and appreciate the importance of band and chorus—and the financial and parental support required for their existence—in the lives of young people. For that reason, I am donating one dollar for every book sold to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, a foundation that provides musical instruments to students in schools that otherwise cannot afford to purchase them.

Finally, there is a message of hope, optimism, and the joy of small-town living. In this age of economic, political, and social disarray, my books provide a respite of temporary relief, and the opportunity to smile and remember.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
Everything and everyone in The Band Plays On is real and true. This was especially evident when I returned to my hometown for a book signing for my first book in the series, Side-Yard Superhero, and I was autographing books for people who were “characters” in the book. What I write about them or their friends and relatives must be accurate, or I will lose all credibility among the ones I care about most. I return to DeGraff in September, and I will again be signing books for people depicted in The Band Plays On.

However, and I make this quite clear, this book—as is Side-Yard Superhero—is an “automythography.” My books document what I think I remember, and how I think I remember it. The stories are iridescent memories based upon my truth and personal narrative.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
At this point, I do not have anything I would change. However, after I read what the critics and reviewers have to say, I may change my mind!



5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
My day job, one that is truly 24/7, is being a University President. With day to day campus management, traveling for fundraising and alumni visiting, and representing the University for a variety of formal and informal occasions, I have very little time for myself. So, the hardest part about writing for me is finding the time to write.

When I am able to write, the difficult task is describing my very vivid and carefully-pocketed memories in a manner that allows readers not only to see what I see, but vicariously to live what I lived.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a very valuable lesson after writing Book 1 in the Fanfare for a Hometown series, a lesson that every author will quickly learn. I am certain that the lesson will be equally valuable for The Band Plays On as well. When an author writes a book, revises, revises, revises, and revises again, and then the book—hallelujah!—is finally published, the real work is just beginning. Even though others assist with the marketing, publicity, and promotion, the author is always in the forefront marketing, publicizing, and promoting.

I also learned that I am a pretty good wordsmith with a memory that amazes even me. And I am learning that I am a compulsive reviser.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
One of my favorite pictures, that I still have and treasure, is from my very early childhood. It is a picture of my mother reading to me. The book in the picture is Tommy Tractor, and my mother read that and other books to me frequently. I also saw her reading the books from her book-rich knitting room, so the powerful influence of the written word was “imprinted” in me at a very young age.

In junior high and high school, the teachers often asked me to read my compositions to the class. Those were other acts of positive influence and confidence-building reinforcement. My classmates seemed to enjoy my stories. The natural progression was for me to major in English as a college undergraduate and then to go on to teach high school English. 



8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
As a reader, I enjoy America’s classic writers: Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Salinger, Twain. The poetry and other writings of William Carlos Williams have also shaped my writing and insights. Williams advises writers to write about the local before attempting to write about the universal. That is, write about what is around you before attempting the territory beyond the borders of your own backyard. He is emphasizing to write what you know before creating new worlds.

But I have been influenced the most, interestingly enough, by James Herriot and his books about the small, rural town of Darrowby. My style and thematic structures are similar to his. The central theme of a veterinary’s practice in rural England runs throughout Herriot’s series of books, but within each book most of the chapters are autonomous and able to stand on their own. In The Band Plays On, “Lewie’s Alumni Band” is the story arc, but most chapters are self-contained and can stand alone. They are short stories written within the framework of a multi-layered book. That technique is the style as well for Book 1, Side-Yard Superhero, in the Fanfare for a Hometown series.

9. Tell us your latest news.
This year is my last year in the magical profession of education. Forty-five years are enough for one career. For the first ten years I was a teacher. The past thirty-five years I have served as an administrator, with the final seventeen as a University President. I have been blessed by my career and with Sherée, my wife.

Although Sherée and I are both Ohio natives, we will retire in Arkansas. We love the friendly people, beautiful environment, and accommodating weather. We are retiring in Hot Springs Village—located about twenty minutes from historic Hot Springs—a village of 15,000 inhabitants located within 26,000 acres of forest. We are preparing the Hot Springs Village house for our arrival—a house with a 38 mile view of forest and two mountain ranges.

We have already purchased one piece of furniture for our new house—in which we will move after my retirement on July 1, 2013—and that is a writing desk. The desk will sit in the middle of our sun room, a room with a big window and an even bigger view. I am looking forward to full days of writing, as opposed to my current schedule trying to steal an hour or two while waiting in airports, flying on planes, or while Sherée chauffeurs us to visit alumni, donors, and friends of the University of the Ozarks. Book 3 in the Fanfare for a Hometown series will be written during my newly found, greatly appreciated retirement days.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I promise readers that they will enjoy my books. The writing is vivid and flows easily, and the characters are endearing, interesting, and quite unique. The books are universally appealing, I believe, because most readers like a story with descriptive writing, strong narrative, and appealing characters. I also think that readers enjoy stepping back in time to an age they either lived themselves or wish they had experienced.

Specifically, The Band Plays On will be enjoyed by everyone who has been a member of a marching band or who has played a musical instrument. We have a shared camaraderie that comes through loud and clear—and in tune—throughout the book.

The Band Plays On and Side-Yard Superhero contain no offensive language or inappropriate descriptions. There is no embarrassing content. Grandparents can give the books to their grandchildren, and grandchildren can recommend them to their grandparents. They will marvel in their book sharing and then sharing their own stories. The books are wonderful conversation starters and sustainers, especially for families.

Finally, I believe that we each have an “automythography” waiting inside of us, anxious to be written. I hope that my writing inspires others to write their stories.


About the Book

Celebrating the soul of America’s heartland, The Band Plays On is Rick Niece’s heartfelt tribute to friendship, community, and, most importantly, his father, Lewis Niece. When DeGraff, Ohio’s beloved band teacher is invited to direct an encore performance, “Lewie’s Alumni Band” gathers to celebrate with gusto. As the band practices for its final parade, Rick, his baritone in tow, reflects on treasured memories, relationships, and the legacy of a small town with indomitable spirit. The second volume in the delightful Fanfare for a Hometown series, The Band Plays On provides an entertaining, inspirational glimpse into lives richly lived…and shared.

A Buck A Book! One dollar for every copy of The Band Plays On sold will go directly to Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation. More information about Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation is available at www.MHopus.org.

Price: $15.95
Pages: 206
Genre: memoir
Publisher: Five Star Publications
Release Date: July 16, 2012
Buy Link: http://www.fivestarpublications.net/sideyard/books


About the Author

Following in his father‘s footsteps, Rick D. Niece, Ph.D., is a lifelong educator who has served as a classroom teacher, a public school administrator and a university professor, provost and president. In 1997, he was named President of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas, and has been steadfast in his devotion to the University's success.

A small-town boy who has maintained his small-town values, Dr. Niece remembers his childhood with fond nostalgia. Growing up in picturesque DeGraff, Ohio, young Rickie was influenced by many endearing friends and neighbors who taught him the important life lessons that shaped his future—especially Bernie Jones. Confined to a wheelchair with severe cerebral palsy, Bernie became Rickie‘s friend, inspiration and superhero, opening a world of compassion, trust and adventure that benefitted them both. >From Bernie, Rickie learned the value of unconditional acceptance, kindness and the triumph of the human spirit—lessons he took with him from his years as a newspaper boy to a career in academia.

Side-Yard Superhero is Dr. Niece‘s first book in the Fanfare for a Hometown series about his upbringing in DeGraff, an "automythography" describing his childhood in rich, vivid detail. Considering himself a "memory keeper," Niece takes readers with him on a poignant journey back in time to a safe haven of heartfelt remembrance. Vibrant, poetic and charming, his stories make DeGraff an open book that everyone who appreciates sentiment will want to read.

Dr. Niece is the recipient of multiple awards, both as an author and an educator. Residing on campus at the University of the Ozarks, he and his wife, Sherée, are the proud "parents" of 630 students.

Links to connect with Rick:
Web site 
Facebook 
Twitter 


About the Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Benedict Kuah - Fons of War & Death - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
A struggle really, I went with three other titles trying to find the right fit until I decided to go with the two main characters whose actions at various junctures, sought to tip the book one way or the other. I do think that at times during their journeys, War and Death fit them perfectly.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Oh sure! I do believe that almost always, our writings have a purpose and a message in them. I think that what readers can grasp from this book is the ease with which we can dehumanize each other. As history has shown us most often, it is along ethnic, religious or nationality lines. But history has also shown us how trivial distinctions can be blown up to create bloodbaths when fanned by destructive forces. Here is a case of a brother and sister from the same womb, with the same blood flowing in their veins, almost the same time of birth, but then one is defined as a human being, and the other labeled a ghost, inhuman and so every single barbaric act that you can imagine is suddenly okay to perpetrate him. Even after writing the book, due to the fact that I gained this perspective after having completed the book, I still try to imagine how this distinction leading to such contrasting treatment of twins started. Just imagine, it might have been someone somewhere just looking at the features of a kid and deciding that you know what, he or she look like his idea of a ghost. And so it starts, and suddenly down the road, children with just such an appearance, are hunted down like beasts from the wild. My hope is that as we follow the story of these kids and men and women in this book, we reflect that if this can occur to children from the same womb, we must therefore be extra vigilant about the good natured distinction we easily allow as harmless that are foisted on our communities. It might begin as a jest, but can spawn suspicions, divisions and in extreme cases genocide.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
The characters are fictitious, but the themes are real. The treatment of albino babies in many cultures could not be improved upon fictionally in this book. It is horrendous. The Trade routes and some of the jockeying for goodies between kingdoms benefiting from the trades in goods and slaves are all historical facts. The setting closely resemble (though ‘improved’ here and there) the set-up of the Kingdom of Nso in the Cameroons.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Not really. I haven’t seen anything yet that needed to be changed or that I feel was not properly handled. Maybe later, but right now I am completely satisfied.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Simplifying the book in such a way that it cuts across all boundaries and have the same impact on everyone even if their understanding of the setting of the novel is limited.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
My answer to your second question really indicates the impact of my discovery as I progressed with the book. To tell you the truth, I did not grasp the full scope or the macro implication of the treatment of two kids, from the same womb in such a diverse manner until I finished and started editing the book. I set out to just tell the story of these people, driven by powerful demons that are the same ones that run throughout human evolution no matter where you come from or what period of history you happen to be born into---greed, ego, love, hate, ruthlessness, superstition, tribalism, I mean all the isms… but at the end of the day, I could not escape from the larger implication of just how easy and dangerous, labels, put on people, even with no intent to harm, and with no obvious differences between them, have led to unimaginable catastrophes.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I never really thought of writing growing up; it never ever crossed my mind. The seeds were planted by my English teachers once I reached Secondary School (Middle School). As I progressed through school, and my homework in English and literature became heavy with writing essays, these teachers kept commenting on my writing and encouraging me to pursue it. It lay dormant as I hit some rough patches in my life and focused on other things but when I changed continents and met teachers as diverse from those that I had growing up as you can get, and these teachers had the exact same reaction to my writing as my previous teachers, I just knew that I had to push myself to do something about it. I could only write just so many fictional novels in my head and luckily about five years ago, the proverbial bug finally bit and I could no longer hold it in me even if I had tried. I began my first novel, published two years ago, Kingdom of Africa, the Changeling and the Lion.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
It is a very difficult question for me to answer due to my background. Growing up, I did not have the luxury of a library; not in my home, not anywhere about me, and I was a voracious reader. And so anything that I could lay my hands on, was a gift. From the bible to my older siblings’ textbooks from school--literature and history texts books alike, I will consume, so long as it tells a story. Even at an age when I could hardly understand half of what Shakespeare or Chaucer or Soyinka and such were saying, I will still try to muddle through them. I remember working myself through Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones when I was still in primary school (grade school) still trying to learn how to put sentences together. That is how desperate it was for me and reading material. So it bred in me an attitude that has made me to enjoy myself in books, any book. At various junctures I have loved Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Shakespeare, Henry Fielding, Agatha Christie, Clive Cussler… what is handy, what I can lay my hands on. So I will tell you that books make an impression on me not writers really, books. But you know, I really like Chinua Achebe for the vividness with which he is able to bring to live for people of different backgrounds, worlds in which though they may not identify with it, are able to not only appreciate it, but discover that all the currents that run through their lives also run through it and so they can draw not only inspirations, but lessons from it. Chinua Achebe's novel, ‘Things fall apart’ really grabs me.

9. Tell us your latest news.
I just became an editor for the website Abakwatimes.com, another chapter of the patchwork that makes my life I think. Within the end of the month or early next month, I plan a big launch of the book in Minnesota.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just to thank them, from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know if it is the same with every author, but for me, the greatest pleasure, second only to me letting a story grab a hold of me and take me where it will, is the time, effort and generosity with which they decide to join me in exploring a world that I discovered and beckon them to join me in. I am eternally thankful to them.


About the Book

At birth, judged to be deformed by a congenital defect that made him to be named a ‘ghost,’ Kintari’s parents handed him over to be euthanized. Blackmailed into carrying out the shameful act, the midwife, a childless woman decided to save him. She secreted him away in her forest home; brought him up more as a kin to lions than humans; did her best to teach him skills no child had any basis learning, all in preparation for the day his existence will come to light. ‘Ghost’ Hunters will flush him out of the safety of this home, making him to run far and wide, but in the end, he could never outrun his fate. It will eventually catch up with him when he entered a deal that entailed him returning to the land that had rejected him at birth.

Melalia and Sahinda were two girls from very diverse backgrounds. One was a woebegone princess dubbed Death’s Enchantress. She was famous for the suddenness with which death visited anyone who becomes engaged to her and the long line of suitors still vying for the honors. The other was her companion, Kintari’s twin sister; a girl who was celebrated as a single birth child but who instinctively knew that something was missing; that she was just half of a whole.

The return of Kintari will set in motion events that will put their lives in the balance and unleash powerful forces that were not above using the girls to draw him in.

Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0-9854891-1-3
Price: $14.95
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Virtualbookworm Publishing
Buy Link: VirtualBookworm.com


About the Author

I was born in the Southern Cameroons in the seventies, the 6th of nine kids. I grew up in a barracks where kids run in packs so at times my childhood was a charm. But because of it, I think I might have shortened the lives of my parents by a good number of years.

I came of age at the University of Buea in the nineties, a very strategic period in the world. It was then that the carefully charted course of my life spun off its axis. The wall that divided East from West had just crumbled and with it the dissolution of the last remnants of Soviet Empire. The people power that had caused these massive changes finally swept onto the shores of Africa. I could not stand back and so I played a leading role as we unsuccessfully tried to pry loose the strings of colonialism with which France still shackled its supposedly independent former colonies.

This activism will lead me to take a harrowing journey across the seas, amply captured by my friend, colleague, classmate, fellow activist and companion on the journey, Cho Ayaba in his memoir ‘Not Guilty.’ My journey will land me on the shores of Germany from where I left to make my home here in Minnesota. I now write and publish, assist in editing the website Abakwatimes.com and also do a weekly show on esteemtv.com called the Ben Kuah Show. I am as passionate in ending the French hegemony and colonialism still persisting in Africa as I was back then though I know how difficult the job is for they have successfully hoodwinked everyone that colonialism is a thing of the past.

Links to connect with Benedict:
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Author Web Site
Book Web Site
Author Facebook
Book Facebook

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Jade Kerrion - Perfection Unleashed: A Double Helix Novel - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
The original title of the novel was Genesis, which, in hindsight, was profoundly unoriginal. Both an agent and my editor advised me to change it, and my husband came up with the title "Perfection Unleashed." It's an apt title for the novel which details the social upheaval and personal chaos unleashed in the wake of the perfect human being's escape from Pioneer Laboratories.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There isn't a single message that I'm uniformly trying to push through the novel. Instead, "Perfection Unleashed" poses multiple questions and perspectives, and leaves the reader to ponder the answers. How does society offer equal access in the face of unequal talents? How should society manage the perception of unfair advantages, in this case, genetic advantages? What constitutes perfection, and can anything or anyone really be perfect? Are our genes the only things responsible for making us human, or is there something more...elusive...to humanity?

And for those who don't want to get philosophical, "Perfection Unleashed" is a contemporary science fiction action/adventure that you can enjoy just for the ride. *wink*

3. How much of the book is realistic?
For me, the best kinds of books are the ones embedded with just enough realism so as to make it indistinguishable from pure fantasy. "Perfection Unleashed" is based on the premise that today's cutting-edge, highly experimental science becomes mainstream in the future. In fact, genetic engineering is mainstream today; we just haven't applied it to humans yet. In the novel, I also make reference to the alteration of the brain's synaptic activity through the sharing of a circulatory system. That particular experiment was recently conducted by researchers at Stanford University. Where possible, my characters are grounded in reality. For example, Mu Xin is the clone of an exceptionally talent ancient Chinese queen, Fu Hao, who also served as a military general and high priestess. Her tomb was unearthed by archeologists in 1976.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I should hope not. I edited the book so many times, it feels as if I've already done it all over again. Several dozen times, no less.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing. Prior to "Perfection Unleashed," I'd never really conscientiously edited my work before. Sure, I'd check for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, but I didn't agonize over excessive use of adverbs and adjectives. In order to edit "Perfection Unleashed," I read books on self-editing and followed their advice almost to the letter. I hacked, slashed, and burned my way through my novel. 120,000 words became 90,000. Then only did I send my manuscript to my editor. The manuscript came back awash in a sea of red. So much for self-editing. The good news is that I'm learning and getting better every day. My second manuscript was much less red than my first. At this rate, by the time I get to my 100th manuscript, I should have self-editing down to an art form.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Perseverance is the most important characteristic on the long and lonely path toward being published. Whether you go the traditional or indie route, the journey is full of tempting detours. Almost everything else, including cleaning the house, looks appealing in the face of a writer's block, and most people can think of something they'd rather be doing at 2 am instead of staring at the computer, reworking that paragraph for the tenth time. Most of us have busy lives. I juggle a full-time job and a household sloshing over with testosterone, including two little boys who have yet to gracefully lose their belief in their own immortality. I've made lots of sacrifices (most importantly, giving up excessive computer gaming) but I love weaving a story around what it takes to be perfect, and more importantly, what it means to be human. I've fallen in love with my characters, even the ones who won't shut up and go to sleep at night. Taken as a whole, I've gained far more than I've lost; perseverance (and a wee bit of inspiration) got me this far, and it'll take me the whole way.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I knew I was a writer at the age of thirteen. I wrote a school essay about two people sitting by a lake and watching the sunset; the overly saccharine scene ended with a marriage proposal. I dabbled in writing over the years, and in my mid-twenties, I started writing fan fiction based on my characters in the MMORPG, Guild Wars. I was accused of keeping my readers up at night, distracting them from work, housework, homework, and (far worse), from actually playing Guild Wars. It's all well and good to disrupt the time management skills of gamers, but why not aspire to something greater, like disrupt everyone else's time management skills? So, in November 2010, I decided to take the plunge and write books that aspire to keep people from doing anything else useful with their time.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
It's hard to narrow the list to one name, but I think Neil Gaiman would top the list. As a storyteller, he's unparalleled. His Sandman series is like a tapestry, each thread perfectly and subtly woven into place. Gaiman brings together mythologies and seemingly unrelated stories in a way that shines light on the whole. You get glimpses of what the full story could be but it's tantalizingly elusive. When you finally turn it over to see the whole picture, it's breathtaking.

9. Tell us your latest news.
I'm excited about the launch of "Perfection Unleashed," the first novel in the Double Helix series. The novel is a 2011 Royal Palm Literary Award winner and a 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist. One of the judges calls it "a breakout piece of science fiction." I hope my readers and reviewers agree, and enjoy reading the novel as much as I enjoyed writing it. The second novel, "Perfect Betrayal," will be released in December 2012.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love hearing from you. Please visit my blog and follow me on my Facebook page and Twitter handles. I'll share fun facts on the world of the Double Helix, offer sneak previews of upcoming novels, and host novel giveaways. Feel free to e-mail me. I always reply!


About the Book

Two men, one face. One man seeks to embrace destiny, the other to escape it.

Danyael Sabre spent sixteen years clawing out of the ruins of his childhood and finally has everything he wanted—a career, a home, and a trusted friend. To hold on to them, he keeps his head down and plays by the rules. An alpha empath, he is powerful in a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution, yet his experience has taught him to avoid attention.

When the perfect human being, Galahad, escapes from Pioneer Laboratories, the illusory peace between humans and their derivatives—the in vitros, clones, and mutants—collapses into social upheaval. The abominations, deformed and distorted mirrors of humanity, created unintentionally in Pioneer Lab’s search for perfection, descend upon Washington D.C. The first era of the Genetic Revolution was peaceful. The second is headed for open war.

Although the genetic future of the human race pivots on Galahad, Danyael does not feel compelled to get involved and risk his cover of anonymity, until he finds out that the perfect human being looks just like him.

Price: $9.99 (paperback), $2.99 (e-book)
Number of pages/words: 212 pages/~87,000 words
Genre: Science fiction
Publisher: Createspace
Release date: June 2012
Buy links: Amazon


About the Author

Award-winning author of "Perfection Unleashed," Jade Kerrion holds B.A. degrees in biology and philosophy from the Johns Hopkins University and an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia. When not writing or working, she ekes out time for dance and computer games. She resides with her husband and two sons in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Links to connect with Jade:
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Website/Blog