Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Straight From The Mouth Of Trey Dunham, author of The Beams of Our House

Thanks for letting us interrogate you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

I enjoy the process: ideation, organization, expression. I’ve been a teacher for a long time and writing is a natural extension of that. I’ve wandered into fiction just recently, because the form allows for some creativity that nonfiction doesn’t. Stories are powerful teaching tools and fiction seemed most conducive to that approach.


Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

The perks are getting to do what you love to do: To tell stories, to teach, to help people see things in new ways. I love the spontaneity of it; every day I get to write something new. But I also love the rigor, the discipline required. It takes a long time to write a book. You have to chip, chip, chip. There’s something gratifying about that, realizing you have some discipline.

The demands are related in a lot of ways: You have to have something to say, something interesting and engaging and important. You have to be disciplined and that, by its very nature, can be tough some days. I quit my job, cold turkey, to write. I’m an unknown so there are financial demands. I work other jobs just enough so I can write.


Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

I’ve done both. I have one book due to be published by a traditional publisher next summer (2017), but most of my books are self-published, although I have sought representation for all of them.

Self-publishing is easy, but the marketing is tough. I use Amazon’s CreateSpace, and it’s a breeze especially if you can do your own layout and design. I’ve never really figured out the selling part. I hate annoying my friends and building a social media platform was just not working for me. Eventually I hired a publicist which was more affordable than I anticipated. I’m just getting started with her so we will see how it goes.

Traditional publishing is very difficult. I’ve heard that as many as 300,000 books are published traditionally in the U.S. each year. That’s a tremendous amount of competition. I was fortunate enough to collaborate on a leadership book with a guy who has a pretty good platform. Otherwise, I’d probably have no shot on my own. My advice: Keep trying.


What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry (e.g. rejections, the long wait, etc.)

I don’t know that I have anything snarky to say, but I do think it is not for the faint of heart. It’s a very slow process, which is antithetical to about everything in our culture. So be prepared for the long haul. Agents and publishers are drowning in a sea of proposals and manuscripts. Make yours as good as you can, but write because that’s what you’re supposed to be doing, not just to get published.


Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

Well, I am on my own so I don’t have to worry about all that. I write constantly so they probably wish I would quit turning out so many books that I am sure they feel obligated to read.


What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

Well, if by crazy you mean odd, then there are two: Getting an agent and a publisher. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I have had books rejected–hundreds probably. It was very odd to get that offer letter in the mail. Crazy and wonderful.


How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

Maybe I am cynical because I haven’t seen much success with social media, but I tend to doubt their efficacy. Have you ever bought a book you saw in an ad on Facebook? I haven’t (that I can remember!). I buy books that my friends recommend. Word of mouth is still the best social network; it just is a lot slower than digital.


Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

It’s been a struggle. I try not to focus on it too much. I find it can be a real distraction from writing and stress I just don’t need. So, I’m trying to write the best books I can, the ones I think I am supposed to write and let the chips fall where they may.


What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

Good question. All of my books–fiction and nonfiction–have one thing in common: They try to direct people towards Jesus. I’d really like for everyone to experience and know Him, because that is where true life resides. As the Apostle John wrote: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

To be honest, I don’t care that much about being published per se. It is more important to me to do what I think I am called to do, to the best of my ability. Right now, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. And even if I never make a dime at it, I think I will be writing books for the rest of my life.



Inside the Book:




Title: The Beams of Our House: A Novel Based on the Song of Solomon
Book 1: The Banner Series
Author: Trey Dunham
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Pages: 394 pages
Genre: Christian Dystopian / Furturistic Fiction


Book Description:

Sol 203119 hates Coupling—the forced dating and mating technique initiated across the United Cities as populations consolidated, gender tensions mounted, human reproduction plummeted, and marriage fell out of style—but he doesn’t know why. But when a fourth classmate at the Academy commits suicide, he follows the prompting of a mysterious voice and goes in search of a way out of the City for him and his classmates at the Academy.
Thousands of miles away, Lill, an orphan Wild, raised by strict and overprotective brothers, discovers she is part of an ancient prophecy that will bring to an end the longstanding battle between the Spirits of the City and Wilderness. Em, a mysterious, spiritual recluse, mentors Lill in her preparation: caring for refugees who have fled the City in search of a better life.
Able to escape the City, Sol slowly adapts to life in the difficult and dangerous Wilderness. He discovers a community of healthy, loving, committed families, but when a special ops team from the City nearly captures him, community leaders decide the time has come to unite and resurrect an ancient rite of the Spirit of the Wilderness: marriage.
Waiting anxiously for his return, a small contingent of Sol’s classmates from the Academy form an underground community in the heart of the City, which they call ‘the Banner.’ Meanwhile, Sol and Lill travel separately to witness the first wedding in centuries; the City counters with a deadly attack. In spite of massive casualties, a small remnant survives. And in a narrow underground cavern, the bruised and battered Sol and Lill meet for the first time.


Book Excerpt:

Washington, DC: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) announced today recommendations made to federal and state legislatures to suspend all laws and regulations related to the issuing of marriage licenses, effectively ending a practice which had been in steep decline over the previous two decades. DHHR Executive Director David Berkeley said, “The psychological, economic, and legal weight of marriage places a significant burden upon the health and well-being of individuals and society as whole.
            In light of these health concerns and declining participation by the general populace, the DHHR is recommending that federal and state lawmakers suspend all policies related to marriage. Additionally, we ask that any binding legal restrictions to those currently married, especially as pertains to divorce and separation, be waived.”
            Lawmakers at the federal and state levels, which enter sessions next month, plan to review the measure. Several states already have resolutions on the docket in support of the DHHR recommendation.



1
(Many years later)


Sol 203119 looked at himself in the mirror and grimaced. After a full minute, he dropped his eyes then pulled off his shirt, bending, contorting, folding and unfolding his arms and elbows like a giant insect; standing as tall as his thin, slight frame would allow. He stopped, then let his arms fall and dangle at his side. He closed his eyes and then looked again, hoping that perhaps things would appear more to his liking. They did not. He rubbed his chest, the part over his heart, with his right hand. It felt warm to the touch.
He twisted his lips and puffed out his chest. He was only partially successful. The left side laid flat, unflinching in spite of his effort. His ears started to turn red with effort. He held his breath and hoped that might inflate the muscle. He started to get dizzy and so he let go; his lips broke their seal and released an enormous, blubbering gust of wind and disappointment.
Sol pulled the shirt over his head and then slouched, paused for a moment, his eyes moved up and down his body. He rubbed his chest again. The scar was still there, only it seemed to have grown larger, like a knotty rope of flesh and scar-tissue. He first noticed it the week he moved into the Academy. It was small then, a string at best. Now thicker, harder, like a heavy rope, it extended from just under his shoulder down at an angle and ended near his sternum. He felt it tighten and pull as he moved and lifted his arm over his head. He grimaced, put his shirt back on and yanked down on the sleeve. A knock sounded at the door.
“Hey, Sol. You ready?”
“Yeah,” he paused. “Just a minute. I’m getting dressed.”
“Well, hurry up. They’re coming and from the sounds of it they’re in a bad mood.”
“Ok.”
“And don’t worry. You can’t see it.”
“Sure.”
Sol opened the door with a click and stepped into the common room. Adon stood in front of a full-length mirror, adjusting the collar of his Academy jacket. He was tall, taller than Sol and bigger. His chest and arms pushed menacingly against the fabric
“Still self-conscious about that pec, I see.” Adon grinned. Sol reddened. “Don’t worry about it,” Adon continued, “the women they put us with don’t care about that kind of stuff. At least that’s what they tell us.” He smiled as if he didn’t really believe himself what he had just said. He ran his fingers through his black, coarse hair and, somewhat satisfied with what he saw, turned to his roommate.
“Where’s Pietr?”
“In his room, I think. The door’s closed.”
“We better get him. They’ll be here any second. And I don’t want to end up in the Tank because of that idiot.”
Outside, they heard the sound of shouting and boots running. Heavy fists landed against doors at the far end of the hall. They needed to be quick. Pietr’s door was closed, so Adon knocked, “Hey, it’s time to go. You ready?” He spoke loudly and with conviction. No answer. Sol reached down and pulled on the handle. It clicked. Unlocked. They pushed the door and stepped inside. It was dark.
At first the room appeared empty, except for the unmade bed along the near wall. A small desk was at the far end of the room facing a large window that looked out into the City. It was night, but the glow from the lights in the facing buildings was sufficient to illuminate the room. The room smelled dank; a stale cheese sandwich lay in the corner, covered in mold.
“You in here?” Sol asked.
Silence.
The boys crept deeper into the room, the air acrid, unmoving. It smelled of sweat. “Ow!” Adon yelled and crumpled to the floor. Sol heard a weight bar roll and crash into the wall. Adon cursed and murmured as Sol moved deeper into the room.
Adon moaned, but Sol wasn’t listening. Two white lights appeared in the in the corner, next to the desk. They blinked off, then on, then off again.
“Pietr, I see you. Turn off the game. You have to come out,” Sol said. “We’ll get in a lot of trouble if we’re not ready. None of us want the Tank again.” Pietr’s eyes reappeared for a moment, and looked at Sol. Then, they clicked off a second time.
“Turn the game off,” Sol said with some force.
Adon stopped moaning just long enough to shout, “You can’t stay holed up in here all day. You know that. We have to go, so get dressed or I am going to beat you like the useless piece of trash you are.” Adon was suddenly angry and could feel the blood rushing up his back along his spine to the back of his neck, the tiny hairs standing erect. His hand pulled tight into a fist. Pietr was strong, and easily as big as Adon, but he was soft. He did not have the malice of his roommate. Adon stood up slowly and repeated his threat. “Get dressed or I’ll beat you bloody. Be out in two minutes. I’ll get some Meds ready for you. That’ll help.”
Suddenly, they could hear shouting in the hall. “Something’s going on,” Sol said to Adon, stepping over him and making his way to the door. “Hurry, Pietr. Please!” He yelled over his shoulder as he left the room.
Sol flung open the door to the hallway just as four black-clad officers ran past. They were carrying weapons: long, black lightweight batons. Sol watched them run down the hall, but did not see the group behind them. An extended hand at the end of a locked arm slammed into the small of his back and sent him hurtling, face first into the doorframe. He fell back immediately and crack, the back of his head rang with a second impact. He heard Adon grunt loudly. Sol felt the blood almost immediately begin to trickle down his face. He wiped his nose with the back of his hand. It was red. He could feel a lump start to grow on the back of his head.
Adon bent over holding his chin. “Oh, man,” he moaned. He rubbed his face then stood up, “What’s going on out there?” Another four officers ran past the open door, followed closely by two medics dressed in white. Sol looked at Adon, his fingers pinching his bloody nose and slowly shook his head. An officer, face shield covering her eyes, stopped and stepped halfway into the room. “Keep your doors closed,” she barked “All rooms on lockdown until further notice!” She slammed the door and was gone.
“That’s the fourth one here this week. Who knows what’s going on everywhere else,” said Adon. “I heard that most Academies average one a day.”
Sol didn’t answer. He stood looking out the window into the night. The lights in the yard below seemed distant, the weight of the moonless sky holding them down. He took a deep breath and looked out towards the City. Buildings and lights rose from the earth as far as he could see. He looked at his hands, small and pale. He tried to remember a time he had not been at the Academy. He had lived out in the City once, when he was a child, but that was before his father had left and his mother died. I’ve never known anything else, he thought. They brought me here when they needed me and they will send me where they please when they’re done. What choice do I have? He stepped away from the window and turned to look at his roommate. Adon sat still on the couch, rubbing his chin.
With more than fifty thousand boys, the Academy was among the largest in the United Cities. Built in concentric circles, it consisted of twenty-four identical towers housing two thousand one hundred residents each: seven hundred rooms on thirty-five floors; twenty rooms per floors. Three boys per room. Sol stood looking out of Room 3415, House 22.
“See if you can pick up any chatter.” Adon stretched himself out on the couch, gingerly; his chin that had taken on a slightly purple hue.
“They never talk about this kind of stuff publicly.”
“Yeah, but maybe someone can get through on a high-wire.” He paused, thinking aloud, “I wonder who it was.”
Sol walked to the desk and opened the drawer. He pulled out a small earpiece and awkwardly jammed it into his ear. A small red light turned on, went yellow, then green. He closed his eyes and listened, then looked up to see Adon watching him from the couch.
“You know they don’t like you taking that out.” He gestured with his eyes to Sol’s ear.
“I know. Sometimes I need the quiet.”
“Still hearing it?”
“Yeah.”
Sol closed his eyes again and tried to concentrate. Sounds began to fill his ear, distant and garbled, as if he were underwater, the muffled tones drifted in and out, softer, then louder. He tried to focus, concentrating on an especially high frequency. Brain waves from an adolescent, from other boys, resonated at a higher frequency than adults, much like their speech, and at times, when the situation dictated, high frequencies, what they called “high-wires” could be accessed out of reach of anyone who might be listening. Sol closed his eyes tighter, trying to understand what was being said. It wouldn’t be long before the System detected the network anomaly and disrupted the pattern.
“It was Salo,” he said finally.
“Salo?” Adon and Sol turned to see Pietr standing in the doorway to his room. He was undressed, out of uniform, wearing shorts and a white tank top, a large white blanket wrapped around his shoulders. It hung three feet from the floor off his huge frame. It was covered, like his shirt, with grey grease stains. He had on one sock, a huge toe poking out, the nail yellowing.
Pietr shuffled into the room and fell into a chair opposite Adon. Sol sat down and pushed the earpiece deeper into his ear. He closed his eyes again. Pietr and Adon watched, waiting.
“He hanged himself,” he said finally. “Hadn’t been out of his room in days. They’d put him in the Tank to try to shake him out of it, but it didn’t work.” He pulled the piece from his ear and tossed it roughly on the table. “Obviously.”
There was a noise in the hall, and then the sound of doors opening. They heard a loud voice, someone yelling. Sol ran to the door and cracked it open. He felt Adon behind him; his breath smelled like mint. Halfway down the hall, he saw a group of officers, their backs to him, huddled, working vigorously close to the ground.
Suddenly, they stood up lifting a gurney that clicked firmly into place. They turned and pushed the bed towards Sol and the elevators that would take them to the roof and a waiting transport. As they moved, they tapped open doors with the ends of their batons, yelling at the curious to get back inside. “Coupling will be delayed by thirty minutes only,” an officer yelled, “and anyone not ready will get the Tank.”
Sol watched, staring as the gurney and officers approached. The thump of heavy boots and harsh click of batons against doors sent chills through his spine: he looked at the black bag as it passed, zipped down the middle, resting silently on the cart. Who will it be tomorrow? he wondered. Suddenly, he felt a sharp crack across his hands, the sting of a baton on his knuckles.
“Thirty minutes,” she snarled.
He closed the door and fell back as it clicked shut. He leaned against it, facing into the room. (There is another way.) Sol closed his eyes again, listening.
(All you have known is the City, but there is another way.) He opened his eyes.
“Why do you think he did it?” Pietr asked quietly pulling his blanket up around his shoulders.
Adon and Sol didn’t answer; both looked instead at the floor.
“You know why.” Adon sat back down on the couch.
“The same reason we imagine doing it. We’re afraid,” Sol said. “We hide in our rooms, but they root us out, drug us up, set us up, push us out. And if that isn’t enough, if that doesn’t work, if it all gets to be too much, then you just crack and you find another way out. Salo found the only way out I know of.”
Adon looked at Sol. He knew he was right. Pietr’s eyes fell to the floor, then he pulled the blanket up again around his huge shoulders. He looked like a child, even though he was larger than any man Sol had ever seen. The blanket struggled to hide him, but beneath it Pietr huddled, afraid, shaking. He pulled the cloth over his head and then he started to sob, quietly, his shoulders rolling.
“I wish it could be different,” Adon said. “The Academy is trying to help us, to bring us back, all of us, the thousands of us that live here and in the other Cities. But sometimes guys like Salo fall through the cracks. They don’t make it.”
“Shai and Topher should have done something. They should have told someone so they could have helped him. He needed help, but they didn’t do anything. No one did anything.” Deep, violent sobs rolled out from under the blanket. Pietr pulled himself tight into a ball, trying to make himself small.
“Yeah, maybe someone could have done something,” Adon said. “But the reality is there are fifty thousand guys just like him in this place. And tomorrow someone else will move in right down the hall. And in a week, everything will be back to normal. The whole City can’t just stop for one person. You’d better get used to that. He’s gone, but there are a thousand more just like him. And we’re still here. We have to keep on or we’ll end up just like him.”
Sol walked behind Pietr and placed a hand on his back: “Take this,” he said holding a glass filled with creamy white liquid in front of his friend. “It’ll make you feel better.” He felt Pietr’s labored, uneven breath.
“No, you’re wrong,” Pietr yelled, suddenly standing up. He knocked the glass from Sol’s hand and it shattered as it hit the floor, white cream exploding everywhere. “There was only one Salo,” Pietr said angrily. He looked up, red eyes glaring at Adon, face streaked with dirt and tears. He walked quickly to his room and slammed the door behind him.
Adon shook his head, “Some guys just don’t get it.” Sol bent down and picked up a piece of broken glass. “Leave that for the maids,” Adon said. “We’d better get ready. They’ll be here soon.” He turned and walked into his room.



For More Information:
The Beams of Our House is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads


Meet the Author




A writer, teacher, and church planter, Trey Dunham has been blogging on spiritual, family and personal topics since 2009.

He lives in Morgantown, WV.


For More Information:


Virtual Book Tour 






Saturday, May 7, 2016

Straight from the Mouth of j.d. daniels, author of 'Quick Walk to Murder'

jd daniels holds a Doctor of Arts degree from Drake University with a dissertation of her poetry.  Her award-winning fiction, non-fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including: The Broad River Review, The Sylvan Echo, The Elkhorn Review, Doorknobs & Bodypaint: An Anthology, The National PEN Woman’s Online Magazine and riverbabble. “Nancy’s Woodcut” won a prize in a contest sponsored by Emerson College, Cambridge University.

Say Yes, a book of poetry, 2013 topped the local bestseller list in Iowa City. The Old Wolf Lady:  Wawewa Mepemoa, was awarded a publication grant from The Iowa Arts Council and three research grants from the college where she still teaches writing. Minute of Darkness and Eighteen Flash Fiction Stories debuted January, 2015. Through Pelican Eyes, 2014 is the first of the Jessie Murphy Mystery Series. 

          The Iowa Arts and Poets & Writers Directories invited her inclusion. She is also a co-founder and an editor for Prairie Wolf Press Review, a literary online journal featuring new and emerging writers and visual artists.

jd maintains a blog, is a member of two critique groups, Mystery Writers of America, and South West Florida PEN Women.  Quick Walk to Murder, the Second Jessie Murphy Mystery, was recently released.  Visit her website at to find where you can get her book:  www.live-from-jd.com

Questionnaire:

Thanks for letting us interrogate you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

I write to quell and satisfy my inner creative demon. The first time I saw my words and name in print, I knew I wanted to become an author. Guess you’d say I was hooked.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

All it cracks up to be?  Sounds like you’re a romantic.  Living the life of a writer is hard work.  Great hard work, but that, surely.

Perks?  Quells your creative demon.  Meet lots of cool people at launch parties and readings, conferences, etc.  Get to work from home.

Demands?  Must be disciplined and persistent.  Have to work while others are out having fun.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

I have published individual poetry and short fiction for years in literary journals. With the help of two separate agents I tried to land a traditional publisher.  No go.  When I met the founder of Savvy Press, an independent publisher, she read my work and invited me into their corral.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

My life partner is the one who encouraged me to go this route. He said it was ridiculous to spend that much time creating something and not have it read.  He is very supportive.  If he thinks I’m too long at the computer (I’m obsessive by nature) he figures out a way to make me leave it.

My kids live miles away from me.  They love it that I’m living my dream.  It’s doubtful they know how much time I spend getting a book into production. 

This is for pet lovers.  If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?

Gave up having pets when I decided travel had to be part of my writer’s life.

This is for plant lovers.  If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?

Had to give my houseplants away, not because I couldn’t care for them because of writing, but because I travel a lot.  Outside, I only plant things that can live without care—like hosta.

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

When I’m in my writing zone, I ignore the phone.  That’s why we have voicemail, right?  I’m a lucky critter, my life partner does most of the cooking.  Since I teach writing exclusively online now, I have no boss saying I am late.  It’s great that Discipline is my middle name.  This helps me not ignore my online students when I’d rather be doing my own writing.  Probably also helps that I need the income to pay my bills and online classes are sought after at my institution.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

The craziest thing happened with my last agent.  He was behind the book 100%.  So much so, that it made me nervous.  In the midst of the revision process his editor asked for, he dropped me. No explanation.  I never heard from him again.  I still think that’s pretty weird.  Weirder yet, he’s still a Facebook friend.  I never “like” any of his posts and he never “likes” any of mine.  But neither of us have pushed the defriend button.  Interesting, huh?

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

I use Facebook and Twitter mostly—Linkedin less.  I use them to announce book related events and to keep my name out there.  I really haven’t had any time I thought I should avoid one and I’m not sure how much they help.  I do like it when my family and friends acknowledge my efforts. I have a sneaking feeling that I don’t use them to full advantage, but I haven’t spent time researching the possibilities.  There is always something new to learn.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you? 

Most of my sales come from the effort of the owner of a candy store in the setting of the book, Matlacha.  The guy is a super salesman and he loves promoting them.  My online sales and sales at readings and fest aren’t much—10 to 30 copies at each one.  I recently hired a publicist with the hopes that she would help me reach a wider audience and increase my sales.  Time will tell.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

That I am living my dream—living the writer’s life.  I thank the Universe every day for that.  I am truly a lucky woman.

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

What I love about being a published author is the knowledge that I have strangers actually reading my words, holding my books in their hands, or gazing at them on a reading device. Heck, thanks to Audible Books, now they can just listen to them.  I remember the first time I heard my words spoken on tape by a professional producer.  It brought tears to my eyes to hear Jessie talking to Zen and Gator. 

Being published is an exhilarating, amazing high. One never knows what will happen.  Occasionally, at the grocery counter a reader will up to me and ask:  “Aren’t you jd daniels?” I mean, I’m sorry, but—that’s sooo cool!

One time while teaching a college class under the shade of a tree I had an epiphany when I realized I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.  Teaching writing and literature and living the life of a writer. 

So I’d say that everything about the writing life matters.  Everything. If I ever land a traditional publisher (and who says I won’t?), it will merely mean that I have more time to write. Merely?  Did I write “merely”?  Really? You can bet, I could live with having more time to devote to my passion.

I think it was George Orwell who called writing a horrible, exhausting struggle.  It’s hard work, no doubt about it. It takes a long time to complete a book—absolutely. We all have an inner demon demanding we write—sure. But I love a challenge, it’s giving my demon free reign and creating something original that feeds my soul and makes my reality have sense. 



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Straight from the mouth of Anne Turner Coppola, author of Fly Away Free



Inside the Book:


Title: Fly Away Free 
Author: Anne Turner Coppola 
Publisher: Xlibris 
Genre: Juvenile Fiction 
Format: Ebook

The story begins when Tessie Farrell, an older woman living in South Florida, is walking her dog and rescues a baby osprey whose parents are killed by three young boys raiding the osprey’s nest to steal the baby ospreys. Taking the rescued baby osprey home, Tessie contacts the police to report what happened. After caring and feeding the baby osprey and building a cage for the bird, Tessie finds herself exhausted. Lying down to rest, Tessie is transported back in time, when she was a ten-year-old girl living with her parents on a dairy farm in northern New York. Devastated to learn that she is adopted, Tessie is taunted by her classmates as she struggles to understand why she was unwanted by her biological parents. In her isolation from children her own age, she creates her own fantasy world with the help of Dolly, a horse that is boarded at the farm and whom Tessie adopts as her pet horse, and two pet geese, raised and nurtured by Tessie as hatchlings. While Tessie roams her fantasy world with Dolly, she meets and befriends an older woman, Maudie, who will play a very important role in helping Tessie find herself as she learns to accept who she is and to find acceptance by those around her. This is a story of courage, self-discovery, and love, and a young girl’s struggle to overcome the pain of being adopted.
ORDER INFORMATION
Fly Away Free is available for order at
amazon

Tessie Farrell, an older woman living in south Florida is walking her dog near Miami Beach when she comes across three young boys who have taken the newly-hatched ospreys from their nest. Confronting the boys, the two on the ground flee, and the third flees when the osprey nest falls to the ground, forcing the nesting baby osprey to attempt to fly, landing in the bay. Tessie rescues the baby osprey and finds the osprey parents, who have been killed by the young boys who raided the osprey’s nest to steal the recently hatched babies. Having had some experience caring for birds in her youth, Tessie takes the baby osprey home, and calls the police to report what happened. After caring and feeding the bird, and building a cage for the osprey, Tessie finds herself exhausted and needing to rest. Lying down on the porch sofa, sleep soon overtakes her, and she is transported back in time, when she was a ten-year old girl growing up on her parents’ dairy farm in northern New York, on the St. Lawrence River.
            Devastated to learn that she is adopted, Tessie is taunted by her classmates as she struggles to understand why she was unwanted by her biological parents. In her isolation from children her own age. Tessie creates her own fantasy world with the help of Dolly, a horse that is boarded at her parent’s farm and whom Tessie adopts as her pet, and two geese, raised and nurtured by Tessie from hatchlings. While roaming her fantasy world with Dolly, she meets and befriends an older woman, Maudie Carroll, the local high school librarian, who plays an important role in helping Tessie as find herself she learns to accept who she is, and to find acceptance by those around her. This is a story of courage and determination, self-discovery and love, and a young girl’s struggle to overcome the pain of being an adopted child.
Question2 – Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?

Anne was a teacher who taught children at all levels of learning- elementary, midlle and high schoolers. She loved her students, particularly her elementary kids. I believe she had these stories germinating  for some time, and only needed the the right opportunity to begin. That opportunity, I believe, came when she retired and had the time to sit down and write.. I also believe that Fly Away Free was close to being autobiographical. Anne identified with Tessie Farrell, Fly Away Free young heroine, and although she wasn’t adopted, Anne was raised in a foster home, on a farm in northern New York at the age of twelve, after her father died two years earlier, and following her mother’s hospitalization for severe depression. Certainly, Tessie exhibited many of the same emotions that Anne must have felt throughout that difficult period in her life.
Question3- What cause are you most passionate about and why?

Continuing Anne’s legacy and sharing the importance of safe homes for children in Foster Care and adoption.
Question4- Do you have any rituals you follow when you finish a piece of work?

No!
Question5- Who has influenced you throughout your writing career?

Can’t say, possibly me. I was also writing a book at the time for Doubleday.
Question6- What are some of your long term goals?

Learning how to use social media more effectively to be able to share these stories.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Straight From the Mouth of MC Domovitch, author of 'Scorpio's Kiss'



Monique Domovitch has had many careers, starting with being one of Canada’s top models. When she retired from modeling she moved on to a career in the financial services as an adviser and planner, specializing in helping women attain financial freedom. During those years, she was also one of the first women in Canada to host her own national financial television show. During all those years, Monique’s dream was always to someday become a writer. Ten years ago, Monique attended a writer’s conference where the first line of one of her novels was read out loud in a workshop, attracting the attention of a publisher and an agent.

Since that life-changing conference, Monique Domovitch has published nine books, four with Penguin using the pen name Carol Ann Martin, two with Harlequin using her own name, and another two with Lansen Publishing. Scorpio’s Kiss was previously published as two novels, Scorpio Rising and The Sting of the Scorpio. Scar Tissue, her latest, is her ninth novel and she is hard at work on her tenth.

A great believer in the energizing power of writers’ conferences, she says that if not for that first conference she attended, she would not be published today.

For More Information
About the Book:

Scorpio's Kiss is a spell-binding tale of love, ambition and greed that will keep the reader turning the pages until its surprise ending. Set in New York and Paris amid the glamorous and competitive worlds of art and real estate, Scorpio's Kiss takes the reader from the late 1940s to the 1960s through the tumultuous lives of its heroes.

There is Alex Ivanov, the son of a Russian immigrant and part-time prostitute. He yearns to escape his sordid life and achieve fame and fortune. His dreams of becoming a world-class builder are met with countless obstacles, yet he perseveres in the hope of someday receiving the recognition he craves.

Half a world away, Brigitte Dartois is an abused teenager who runs into the arms of a benefactor with an agenda all his own. When she finds out that her boss has an ulterior motive, she flees again, determined to earn her living through her art. This career brings her fame, but also the unwanted attention of her early abuser.

Domovitch’s novel is a compelling tale, filled with finely etched characters and a superb understanding of the power of ambition. Scorpio's Kiss promises to resonate with all who once had a dream.

For More Information

  • Scorpio’s Kiss is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads. 

Thanks for letting us interrogate you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

For me, it was when I realized that I had hit middle age. It came as a shock that I had already lived half my life. The shock brought home the hard fact that if I kept putting off my passion in favor of my successful career, I might live comfortably, but I would never achieve my life goal. I pictured myself on my death bed. I know that everybody imagines they would regret having spent too much time working, and too little time with loved ones. In my case it was a sense that unless I wrote, I would have wasted my life. Writing is what I was meant to do. It gave me the kick in the behind I needed to get going.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?
Writing isn’t for everyone. The hours are long, and one never knows if there will be financial reward. On the other hand, I get such a thrill from giving life to characters, and creating stories that people later read. The demands are simple, sit and write. And keep doing it day after day after day. The perk, for me, is that I get to do what I love, and I get paid for it.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
I’m a bit of an oddball in that I have done both. I was fortunate enough to find an agent and a publisher right from the start, and had seven novels published in the traditional way. I decided to go it the self-published route for my two last novels because these deviate from my other novels, which were cozy mysteries. If I wanted to break free and write the kind of books I craved to write, I had to re-market myself. I was already a best-selling author, my publishers were not thrilled with the idea of changing from my original style. Self-publishing allowed me the freedom of writing whatever I wanted. If I crashed and burned, then so be it. My hope was that my readers would follow me to my new novels, and I’m happy to report that it looks as if they did.

What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry?
The snarkiest thing is that publishers are risk averse. That means they don’t take chances. Not that I can blame them. Their entire goal is to run a financially successful business.  This means they don’t easily take risks, try out new authors, new genres, new voices, which is why true artists are often overlooked, and end up going the self-published route.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

I am so incredibly fortunate in that they are all behind me one hundred percent. Although, it wasn’t always that way, at least not in the very beginning. The problem many authors face is that in they spend enormous amounts of time on a project, and have no income to show for it. In this society, where a person’s worth is often measured by the amount of money they earn, it can be difficult for friends and family to look at writing as anything but a “cute hobby.” In my case, my help was important to my husband’s success in his real estate business, and it was rather challenging to make him understand that my writing was as important to me as his business was to him. It wasn’t until I pointed out that most new ventures don’t turn a profit until the fifth year, that he got it, that writing is, in essence, the same as manufacturing. An author’s product is his book. Then, when at the end of my first year, I had already found representation and signed a three-book deal, he was convinced. He’s been my staunchest supporter since.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

The craziest thing was when I submitted one of my novels, written in the first person and in the present tense. My agent decided it should be rewritten in the past tense. So I rewrote it. It took me a bit over two months. Then, one of the BIG publishers decided they liked it. They loved the voice, they loved the characters, they loved the relationship between the characters, but they weren’t crazy about the murder. The asked me to rewrite it without the murder. In other words, turn a murder mystery into, what? I did it, but that was totally crazy. And in the end, it was published with the original murder. All that work...

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
I’m a big fan of Facebook. I never quite got the Twitter thing. I do it, but have a hard time enjoying it. But that shouldn’t surprise me. To me Facebook is like a dinner party, where you can spend time chatting with one person, whereas Twitter is like speed dating. I like relationships, and I’m not a big fan of huge parties where all you can manage is a quick, “So nice to see you,” and a cheek brush.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?
I was lucky that through Facebook, I reached a large number of readers and that a few of them loved Scorpio’s Kiss enough to propose it to their book clubs. Book clubs create a lot of buzz, not only for the members but also among their friends and acquaintances. Whenever somebody asks, I will do the impossible to attend a book club. It’s amazing how many people this reaches. And while I’m in their city, I sometimes give readings at libraries and get interviews in local papers.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
What I keep repeating is that, No, the main character in Scorpio’s Kiss, Alexander Ivanovitch, is NOT Donald Trump. True, back in the eighties I was a friend of Ivana’s, Trump’s first wife, and I met Donald on a number of occasions. As everybody knows, he is a bigger-than-life character, so I did model my main character after him, but the story is entirely fiction.

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?
I like to say that I am more of a storyteller than an author. That’s like being a singer rather than a song writer, and a singer needs an audience. What I love the most, what I live for, is the feedback I get from my readers. And the feedback I get time and again is how, once a reader picks up my book, they can’t put it down, that because of me people have sleepless nights because they simply must know what happens next. That is what I love the most. So please, please, all you readers out there, make my day. If you enjoyed Scorpio’s Kiss, leave me a review. You will make me a very happy writer.


Giveaway!

Monique Domovitch is giving away 5 paperback and 5 ebook copies of SCORPIO’S KISS!


Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Five people will be selected to win one of five paperback copies and five people will be selected to win one of five ebook copies of SCORPIO’S KISS
  • This giveaway begins April 18 and ends on July 18.
  • Winners will be announced on Monique’s tour page on July 19.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!






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Friday, April 8, 2016

Straight from the Mouth of Randy Rawls, Author of 'Dating Death'

Randy Rawls' newest book is DATING DEATH, book 3 in the Beth Bowman, South Florida PI series. Beth is invited to a meeting by the Chief of Police of Coral Lakes. They have a history from the kidnapping case Beth called BEST DEFENSE. There are other places she'd prefer to be at nine AM, but such an invitation cannot be ignored. Chief Elston explains that his department has the goods on Roger Adamson, a dirty politician; however, he knows Adamson has additional information that could bring down a drug lord and disembowel his organization. He asks Beth to assist by becoming Adamson's consort/bodyguard while Adamson parses out data. Beth agrees, not realizing multiple homicides, a kidnapping, a tight frame for murder, and the loss of the man she loves await her. If not for Beth's homeless friends, all might be lost. 
Amazon Link to Book
Questionnaire:
Thanks for letting us interrogate you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?
          Simple. I'm a reader. And what's better than reading a great book? Writing one. Just takes longer. 
Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?
          The perks are the people you meet who tell you they enjoyed the book. What a wonderful feeling it is to have entertained someone for a few hours, and, perhaps, to have given them a chuckle along the way.
          The demands. The need to keep producing as the stories back up in your head. 
Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
          Most of my books are traditionally published by small presses. They are the gold vein in the mine of writing. Yes, it would be better to hit the big time with a NYC major publisher, but that door is closed (nailed shut) to most of us. 
Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?
          My wife tolerates me well. I try to put it aside when she needs me, or wants to do something outside the home. 
This is for pet lovers.  If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?
          I have a dog, a Pomeranian. She's a grazer, so we load her dish with hard food, and she eats when she feels like it. It's the walks she might have to "wait a moment" for. 
This is for plant lovers.  If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?
          I'm the gardener in the family. My wife has a black thumb. And yes, I manage to keep three plants alive. 
In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner, or your boss calling you saying you’re late?
          No problem on number 3—boss calling. I'm retired.
          But yes, I find the first two irritating. When I'm engrossed and the words are flying, any interruption is a major irritant. 
What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?
          One of my publishers sent me their recommended title for my book. It was so far out from what I had submitted, I thought it was a joke. I replied in that manner. The publisher was not thrilled with me, and let me know in no uncertain terms how much time and research they had put into finding that name. (I still like mine better.) 
How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
          I am terrible at social networking. I wish it weren't necessary. I'd rather be working on my next book. 
Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?
          For DATING DEATH, I hired a publicist, Maryglenn McCombs. She is pushing my name and my title out there. Hopefully, it will result in sales. For the other eleven books, well, it's been hit or miss. 
What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
          Alzheimer's disease. What a horrible, horrible way to die. We must find a medical solution. 
Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?
          Ego. Pride. Legacy. Enjoyment. Each of these things are affected whenever I pick up one of my books. I love to read. I love to write. I love the idea of something I wrote living on after my death. That's enough for me. If I can make a few dollars at it, that's simply icing on the cake.