Thursday, November 16, 2017

Straight from the Mouth of Thriller Author Sheila Lowe

The mother of a tattoo artist and a former rock star, Sheila Lowe lives in Ventura with Lexie the Very Bad Cat, where she writes the award-winning Forensic Handwriting mystery series. Like her fictional character Claudia Rose, Sheila is a real-life forensic handwriting expert who testifies in court cases. Despite sharing living space with a cat—a Very Bad one at that—Sheila’s books are decidedly non-cozy. Visit her at www.sheilalowe.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’ve written for as long as I can remember. I started with poetry, wrote a novella about the Beatles (it was England, 1963, and I was a Beatlemaniac—Ringo was my hearthrob), then a historical mystery/romance. Went on to study handwriting analysis and wrote technical articles and books on handwriting. Finally, when I was about fifty, I got back to what I really wanted to do—write a mystery. Why did I want to be an author? I don’t think there is an answer. It was just something I always did.

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?

Getting published is a heartbreaking business, but if you’re a writer, you have to write. It’s one thing if you write just for fun, as one of my good friends does. He doesn’t care how many books he sells, he just enjoys the whole process. But if you want to be published and succeed, it takes a strong commitment, not only to writing the book, but to getting it published, whether you have a publisher or do it yourself, and then market it. But first, make sure your work is ready for publication, which means working with an independent editor along the way. That’s an investment, not a cheap one, but vital to your success.

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 started with Capital Crime, a small press, which sent Poison Pen out for review and got a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. That brought it to the attention of a senior editor at Penguin, who ended up publishing the first four books. When my wonderful editor left and the one who replaced her did not offer to renew my contract, I self-pubbed a standalone titled What She Saw, about a young woman with amnesia, something that has always fascinated me. Eventually, I got my rights back from Penguin and gave them to Suspense, a smaller house (they publish Suspense Magazine). They re-issued the first four books with great new covers (which gave me a chance to go back and do some editing), plus the next three.
One of the great things about going with a small house or self-pubbing is that you have total, or at least way more control over your cover, title, and content. At Penguin, for each book I would receive the same boilerplate email, “here’s your cover, we hope you love it as much as we do.” And if I didn’t love it the response was, “there’s no time to make changes.”
Unless you are discovered(!), You can probably make more money self-publishing or with a small publisher than a big one. A big house might pay an advance, but if they do, the amount will be no more than they expect to make back on your book, a few thousand bucks. They usually pay 8-10% of the cover price in royalties on a mass market paperback, which means you have to sell a lot of books to earn back the advance. A small house is unlikely to pay an advance, but will offer a far higher percentage. If you self-publish through Amazon’s CreateSpace as I did that one book, you’ll receive around 70%. Amazon keeps 30% for their trouble.
Most of the time, to be published by a big house, you’ll need a good agent, which is almost as hard to find as a publisher. Go to writing conventions where you can meet agents and at least start a relationship. Agents attend those things because they expected to be pitched. Just make sure you have your elevator speech ready. You have about 14 seconds to grab their attention.
Further Very Important Advice: If you are lucky enough to get a deal, make sure you do are not selling your characters. Read the contract carefully and license the characters only for the book or books covered by that contract. That way, if the series takes off and becomes Harry Potter-sized, and you want to change publishing houses or make a movie deal, you will be able to. Otherwise, if you don’t protect yourself, you’ll lose all control over those fictional people you have created and love.
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 younger son is 39 and live in Germany. The older one is 42. I live with Lexie the Very Bad Cat, and when she complains that I’m not giving her enough attention or it’s time for a meal, I generally stop and listen, but she’s pretty tolerant. The truth is, my tendency to much work and little play has interfered with a couple of relationships. Bottom line, published authors and their families need to understand that there are sacrifices to be made. Not everyone sits at their desk from 9:00 a.m. to Midnight like I do (with bathroom and food breaks), and I really don’t have to. But that’s the way I like it. Which is probably why I’m not currently in a relationship.

This is for plant lovers...  Are your plants actually still alive?

They are, because I pay a gardener to keep them 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?
With my other career as a forensic handwriting expert, unless I am testifying in court, I’m mostly able to make my own schedule. I’ve been my own boss since 1989, and having worked in the corporate world in another life, it’s a luxury I deeply appreciate.

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

I spend a significant amount of time on Facebook, my personal page, where I’m never sure new “friends” come from. I check to see if they’re friending me because they are readers or writers, or in one of my networking groups, or if they are on the same political page. Otherwise, I delete a lot of requests from men in cammo who have no profile and no mutual friends. All of my posts automatically go to my Twitter feed (I’d rather be more selective), but who has time for all the others? I know some authors do a super job with this, but I am not one of them. I do have an author’s FB page, but rarely go there.

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

My greatest success in sales has come from BookBub ads. When I advertised my then-self-pubbed book, What She Saw, for free, I had 117,000 downloads, which led to sales of all my backlist titles over the next two months, plus over 400 reviews, mostly 4 and 5 star. I made more in royalties for that $500 investment than my Penguin advances. It’s hard to get accepted by BB, as I’m told they only take 20% of submissions. But you can keep trying. That doesn’t cost anything.

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

Scream in a good way or a bad way? Having to do sales and marketing. Even the big publishing houses do little-to-no marketing for midlist authors—most of the money goes into promoting the big names. My publicist at Penguin told me she had 200 authors and could devote 10 minutes a month to each one. So, be prepared to put time, effort, and some money into publicizing your work. I’ve retained publicists for several of my books, which means they get to do all the stuff I would rather not spend time on.

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 don’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

I feel very lucky to have been published by a major publishing house, and to have landed with Suspense, who treat me well. If they had not I probably would be self-publishing, but I’m very grateful not to have to worry about issues like formatting, cover design, and getting ISBNs. With each book, I ask myself if I should write another, and somehow, they keep on coming. I guess I must be a writer 😊.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Straight From the Mouth of 'A Wanted Man' Robert Parker



Robert Parker is a new exciting voice, a married father of two, who lives in a village close to ManchesterUK. He has both a law degree and a degree in film and media production, and has worked in numerous employment positions, ranging from solicitor’s agent (essentially a courtroom gun for hire), to a van driver, to a warehouse order picker, to a commercial video director. He currently writes full time, while also making time to encourage new young readers and authors through readings and workshops at local schools and bookstores. In his spare time he adores pretty much all sport, boxing regularly for charity, loves fiction across all mediums, and his glass is always half full.

His latest book is the crime/thriller, A WANTED MAN.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK



About the Book:

It’s down to fathers and fatherhood.

Ben Bracken, ex-soldier, has just got out of Strangeways.

Not by the front door.

With him, he has his ‘insurance policy’ – a bag of evidence that will guarantee his freedom, provided he can keep it safe – and he has money, carefully looked after by a friend, Jack Brooker.

Rejected by the army, disowned by his father, and any hopes of parenthood long since shattered, Ben has no anchors in his life.

No one to keep him steady. 

No one to stop his cause…

The plan: to wreak justice on the man who had put him in prison in the first place. 

Terry ‘The Turn-Up’ Masters, a nasty piece of work, whose crime organisation is based in
London.

But before Ben can get started on his mission, another matter is brought to his attention: Jack’s father has been murdered and he will not rest until the killers are found.

Suddenly, Ben finds himself drawn in to helping Jack in his quest for revenge.

In the process, he descends into the fold of
Manchester’s most notorious crime organisation – the Berg – the very people he wants to bring down…

This action-packed and fast-paced story will keep you turning the pages.
Manchester is vividly portrayed as Ben races around the city seeking vengeance.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon



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 had a dream that my work uniform would one day be nothing more than pajama pants and a smile – that and an obsession with storytelling since I was old enough to hold a pen.

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?

In terms of demands, the constant pressure to create is something that I can see being a weight, but in truth the perks far outweigh any negatives. I have three young children, so to spend a lot of time with them is a huge blessing. Being able to snatch hours to write here and there is also wonderful – you can tailor your working day around whatever you need to get done.

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

Both! I self-published on a whim, loved the process then eventually hooked up with an agent, then a publisher. I have greatly enjoyed both processes – the freedom of the former, then the excitement of the latter. I have loved it all.

What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry?
There are a number of people in there… who aren’t very high up… in the grand scheme of things… and they think they are the absolute bees knees. We are talking egos a mile wide. There is a heck of a lot of snobbery to wade through at times – but be sure to make the trip, because there are some truly wonderful people in this industry. And in the crime corner of publishing, I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t been less than lovely.

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?

They’ve been so encouraging and patient – it has taken me years to get to this point, and even when I thought I must be mad, they didn’t. I’m indebted to them, always.

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

I can’t think of anything truly insane about the publishing process, but I did have to shut down a twitter account because I started getting messages from people who thought the protagonist of A Wanted Man was a real person, and that the adventure was somewhat autobiographical. They thanked me for my sacrifices to the country, and asked me where I was based now. The messages wouldn’t stop!

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

Twitter and Facebook have both been great. Hugely helpful, in terms of engaging with readers, writers and having fun. And because of targeted ads, I was able to tailor my output for exactly the kind of person that might be interested in my book.

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

By hitting the promotional trail hard. By engaging with readers whenever I can, as well as blogs and bloggers. By harassing my publisher to keep pushing. These are all after the event however – the best way to start this is to make sure the book is as good as it can be.

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

Angry screaming? Or happy screaming? Angry screaming = politics. Happy screaming = I’ve got a new book deal close to completion that I want to scream from the heavens about but I can’t just yet… fingers crossed.

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?


Straight From the Mouth of 'Night in Jerusalem' Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy



Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy worked as an actress and writer in film and television in the United States and Israel. Night in Jerusalem is her debut novel, which she has adapted to film. She lives in Ojai California with her husband and daughter.

She writes, “I lived in Israel in the 1960s, a naive twenty-year-old, hoping to find myself and my place in the world. The possibility of war was remote to me. I imagined the tensions in the region would somehow be resolved peacefully. Then, the Six Day War erupted and I experienced it firsthand in Jerusalem.

I have drawn Night in Jerusalem from my experiences during that time. The historical events portrayed in the novel are accurate. The characters are based on people I knew in the city. Like me, they were struggling to make sense of their lives, responding to inherited challenges they could not escape that shaped their destiny in ways they and the entire Middle East could not have imagined.

I have always been intrigued by the miraculous. How and where the soul’s journey leads and how it reveals its destiny. How two people who are destined, even under the threat of war and extinction, can find one another.

Israel’s Six Day War is not a fiction; neither was the miracle of its victory. What better time to discover love through intrigue, passion, and the miraculous.

Writing this story was in part reliving my history in Israel, in part a mystical adventure. I am grateful that so many who have read Night In Jerusalem have experienced this as well.”

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


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 started writing at about 30, pretty much as soon as I got a sense of who I was. I had been working as an actress and knew the arts were for me. The thing that drew me to writing was that I could do it all myself without anyone telling me what my part was or where I had to fit in. I’ve always responded best to the beat of my own drum, which I can hear loud and clear most days! Night In Jerusalem is my first novel. Previously, I have written screenplays. They are, of course, visually-oriented and provide limited opportunity for the writer to describe the characters’ states of mind - everything has to be revealed on the screen. I was drawn to writing a novel because the canvas is so much larger –as
big as you like -  and the story does not have to fit a budget. However, the relationship with the reader is more intimate and complete, and there’s a challenge to meet there.


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?

I love the creative side of writing – developing the story and characters and being open to surprises as the characters take on lives of their own and show me where they want to go. For this, I need to stay in close touch with them, which means writing every day. They are with me the rest of the day, but more in the background, where they evolve and explore alternative futures. Writing every day keeps the story moving forward, which is the main thing for the first draft.  After that, I am more relaxed about re-writing and editing, which is good because I don’t enjoy it as much – and there is a lot of it! All in all, I find it hard work, but there is nothing I would rather be doing.

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 decided to self-publish. As I mentioned earlier, my previous work has been in film and television, and I was not involved in the promotional side of things.  I don’t know much about book promotion and there is a whole lot of work to do there. Fortunately, I have a partner who is well-versed in it, otherwise I would be lost. Also, going into this project, I had no idea how pivotal an editor is. After working for months, on and off, with the editor of Night In Jerusalem, I would never consider publishing a book without a strong and talented editor. So, for me, self-publishing does not mean going without professional support; it means you must take the initiative yourself to find the right professionals to partner with.


What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry?

I had an agent tell me she liked my writing, liked my story, but didn’t like my book. Go figure. But after working in Hollywood, I’ve not encountered much by way of new craziness in the publishing industry – and it’s fantastic that authors can now publish and promote their own books, without having to genuflect to the “industry” – not an option with movies.

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?

They say I disappeared for two years while I wrote and re-wrote the book and, like me, they look forward to its success.

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

I’ve never had a lot of interest in “meetings.” There are people who live for them. A friend of mine was hired to write a movie about Peter the Great. At a script meeting, he was told the studio thought he had made Peter “kind of unsympathetic.” “Too autocratic, is that what you’re saying?” “Exactly!”  “And you want more of a czar-next-door feeling?” “Yes!” One of the things that drew me to writing a novel is that I would not have to go to any more script meetings – and the same applies to self-publishing – no meetings required!


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

Facebook lets you get your posts (or ads!) in front of very well-defined audiences. Personally, I think it is well worth it.  It lets self-publishing authors get in front of different audiences for not a lot of expense, and to see quickly who is responding and who is not. I think Twitter is likely very helpful, too, but I don’t have much enthusiasm for it.


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

I’m advertising on Facebook and Amazon, I do book clubs and I’m doing a virtual book tour. Reviews are important. They mean a lot to people who are thinking about buying or reading Night In Jerusalem, and, depending on where they are published, they can generate a lot of exposure. I sent a copy of the finished manuscript to people I know who have a reputation in their fields and asked them if they were open to reviewing or endorsing the book. I incorporated comments from some of them on the cover of the book, posted them to Facebook, and put them on the book’s web site. Getting reviews is an on-going process.


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

Night In Jerusalem is set during a war. I was there and experienced it firsthand. I spent days in shelters with women listening to Arab news reports on the radio proclaiming victory while we contemplated how we would end it for ourselves. It turned out, of course, that the war went the other way. If I were to scream from the rooftops, it would be “Rejoice in your life! And rejoice in every other life! May peace prevail on earth!”

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?

The search for peace, the endless arguments about what it should look like, and the courageous, impossible loves that thrive despite all odds are themes that have been with me my entire life. I do not have answers to the questions they bring up. The characters in Night In Jerusalem express different points of view that I share, even as they conflict with each other. Writing lets me take a deep dive into how these differences can be contained in fulfilled and inspiring lives, and how happiness can be found by embracing our individual destiny, not on following any prescribed path. Night In Jerusalem speaks with the voice of my heart, and writing keeps me in touch with it.



Sunday, October 22, 2017

Straight from the Mouth of Romantic Suspense Author Anna del Mar

Three Lies that Romance Acquisition Editors Tell

Have you ever been to a writer’s conference or a seminar and listened to acquisition editors talk about what kind of manuscripts they’re looking for? I have, perhaps one too many times, judging from my current level of cynicism. If you haven’t been, surely you’ve come across those requests for manuscripts at the end of a book or social media, you know, the ones that say “Such and such editor from such and such house is looking for such and such kind of stories?”

I see dozens of requests like these every day. I hear them when I go to the conferences as well. Yeah, I’m the snarky witch sitting in the back row, usually snickering when the acquisition editors tell us that they’re looking for diverse reads, strong heroines and quality fiction. Ha! I know better.

Acquisition editors are not really looking for diversity. Instead, they’re looking for market share. Which means that they’d like to publish fiction that will expand their presence in the market. And since the demographics are changing, that means that they’re desperate to find ways of integrating a more “diverse” readership into their markets.

The concept of “diversity” is thus an economic necessity and a survival strategy for the industry. Which means that if you’re a minority author you will not be published in an effort to promote diversity in the genre. You will be published based on your ability to bring new readership to the industry and sell your book. That’s the truth that nobody wants to speak aloud.

Acquisitions editors are not looking for strong heroines either. In fact, if I’d gotten a buck every time an editor has told me that what sells a book in romance is the hero, not the heroine, I’d be rich. They’re looking for heroes that knock their readership’s socks off. As one editor once told me, “we are selling romance, not women’s fiction.” Silly me. I always thought romance was the most popular manifestation of women’s fiction.

And finally acquisition editors are not looking for quality romance fiction. They’re looking for fiction that sells. Quality is incidental. It is true that there are a lot of quality romances out there. Thank the universe for that. But to an acquisition’s editor, a “good” book is one that sells. Period.

I’m all for making an honest buck. I understand the industry’s drive to survive. I just wish that acquisition editors would tell the truth so that writers could make their creative decisions based on facts and not lies. This is especially relevant for newbies who don’t know how the industry works. At the end of the day it’s all about the business, expanding market share and increasing sales. The rest is all PC rhetoric and wishful thinking, pretty words and lots of hoopla.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Amazon Bestselling author Anna del Mar writes hot, smart romances that soothe the soul, challenge the mind, and satisfy the heart. Her stories focus on strong heroines struggling to find their place in the world and the brave, sexy, kickass heroes who defy their limits to protect the women they love. A Georgetown University graduate, Anna enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, and the sea. Writing is her addiction, her drug of choice, and what she wants to do all the time. The extraordinary men and women she met during her years as a Navy wife inspire the fabulous heroes and heroines at the center of her stories. When she stays put—which doesn’t happen very often—she splits her time between Colorado and Florida, where she lives with her indulgent husband and a very opinionated cat.

Anna loves to hear from her readers. Connect with Anna at:

Buy Links for The Guardian: 

Amazon:

Kobo:

Nook:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Interview with Alastair Fraser, author of Forestry Flavours of the Month







Publication Date: May 20, 2016
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Formats: Ebook
Pages: 228
Genre: Biography
Tour Dates: September 4 - 15

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Forestry touches on all aspects of human welfare in one way or another, which is why foresters need to play an active role in determining our collective agenda. Alastair Fraser, a lifelong forester and the co-founder of LTS International, a forestry consulting company, explains how forestry changes with political cycles and how foresters can promote healthy forests at all times.

He explores critical issues such as:
• forests and their connection to coal;
• forest's role in combatting floods and climate change;
• illegal logging in Indonesia, Laos, and elsewhere;
• tactics to promote sustainable forestry management;
• plantations as a solution to tropical deforestation.

From pulping in Sweden and Brazil, paper mills in Greece and India, agroforestry in the Philippines, "pink" disease in India and oil bearing trees of Vietnam, no topic is off limits. Based on the author's life as a forester in dozens of countries, this account shows the breadth of forestry and makes a convincing case that forestry management needs to focus on managing change and achieving sustainability. Whether you're preparing to become a forester, already in the field, or involved with conservation, the environment or government, you'll be driven to action with Forestry Flavours of the Month.




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

I am very concerned that the public in general and especially politicians are very ignorant about forestry and do not appreciate how forests contribute to the welfare of mankind in so may ways (wildlife habitat, mitigation of flash floods, carbon sequestration, timber and other valuable products to name a few). I have had a very interesting and diverse professional career and felt that describing it in a book might help to raise awareness of what forestry is all about. 

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? 

My experience has been very rewarding as I have received many good reviews and positive comments from friends who have bought the book. 

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 chose to self publish, mainly to save time and as I had experience in preparing a manuscript ready for publishing, I did not have to spend time and money on the editing. 

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? 

It didn’t affect my family as they are all grown up and for them it was just like my time at work. 

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? 

These were not issues for me as I am my own boss and I am well organised. 


Alastair Fraser is a founder member of the archaeology group No Man s Land. He has worked as researcher and participant in a number of Great War documentaries. Steve Roberts is a retired police officer and an ex-regular soldier. He specialises in researching individuals who served during the war and is also a founder member of No Man s Land. Andrew Robertshaw frequently appears on television as a commentator on battlefield archaeology and the soldier in history, and he has coordinated the work of No Man s Land. His publications include Somme 1 July 1916: Tragedy and Triumph, Digging the Trenches (with David Kenyon) and The Platoon.