Monday, March 20, 2017

Straight from the Mouth of Liza Trevino, Author of 'All that Glitters'

Liza TreviƱo hails from Texas, spending many of her formative years on the I-35 corridor of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.  In pursuit of adventure and a Ph.D., Liza moved to Los Angeles where she compiled a collection of short-term, low-level Hollywood jobs like script girl, producer assistant and production assistant.  Her time as a Hollywood Jane-of-all-trades gave her an insider's view to a world most only see from the outside, providing the inspiration for creating a new breed of Latina heroine.

Check out All The Glitters on Amazon: All That Glitters


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 can’t explain it – my entire life, I’ve always thought up stories. It’s as voice inside my head that won’t shut up unless I get it out of my head and onto paper. It’s a constant battle.

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 rush – ain’t gonna lie. To see something you conjured out of nothing appear in the physical world is really cool.  But, to get to that published point is very demanding. The original story idea you had and wrote, gets revisited over and over and over and over again. Pretty much to the point where you start to doubt why you even thought the story had merit to begin with. Seriously. So that part of it gets demanding and tedious, at times.  But, the perk is that I get to create anything I can imagine.  Anything that’s captured my attention or that I find important, that’s what I get to spend all my time studying, thinking about and, ultimately, writing about.

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 would fall into the indie, co-publishing category.  After I decided to seek publication for All That Glitters, I read all the articles in Writer’s Digest and on blogs about landing an agent.  So, I set to doing that. Which took some time. Queries, sample pages, follow-ups and rejections. Eventually, it did happen. Which was a great day! And, then the submission process began. And that was another lengthy process of queries, samples and waiting for responses.  So, the con of my journey is time.  There just isn’t any way around the fact that trying to get published takes a lot of time…and then, it may never occur. 
As for the editing process that I had with Koehler, the pros were many. Working with a great editor who gets the story is invaluable. It’s an amazing experience to collaborate on your work with someone who sees it with new, fresh eyes.  Of course, the con aligns closely with this, too.  It can be hard to hear that words, passages or scenes you slaved over just need to go. But, it’s part of the process and, ultimately, it does make the work stronger, and it helped me become a better writer. 

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’m lucky  - or, unlucky, depending on how you look at it – that I’ve spent my entire adult life as a writer, whether it be as an academic or in the fiction realm, so I have always spent time reading, writing, editing, revising, formatting something, whether it be papers, a dissertation or a novel. 

Do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?

No, I’m a ‘get the chores done first’ person. For my dog, that means he gets fed first thing in the morning, usually while my coffee’s brewing. 

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

Yes, but only because their either succulents, or extremely hardy.

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?

The phone is easy to ignore. It’s off when I go into writing mode. And, as I tend to write in 15-20 minute ‘sprints,’ I don’t run into too many issues with those other commitments.  Exception to the rule – I’m always running late in the morning or at lunch. I’m usually sliding into work about 5 minutes later than I’d like…and usually that’s because I extended my writing sprint longer than the amount of time I had.

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

The purely capricious whim of gatekeeping editors. Example. Same pitch, same manuscript, one editor turned me down, telling me they were looking for projects with a stronger commercial hook that could move to a series. A second editor turned me down – same pitch, same manuscript – telling me the project was too commercial. 

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

I’m new to utilizing social networks for book promotion. Twitter and Facebook are great for building a platform that can reach people you’d have no way of reaching otherwise. I think that’s a very positive thing.

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

First book, so I’m working the local author angle and tapping into every single community, however tangentially related to me, the story or the concept, to promote All That Glitters. We’ll see how that goes…

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

That Latinas read!!!! They are a large, lucrative and untapped book market. Also, they want all kinds of stories – romance, family dramas, horror, westerns, all of it!

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?

My inspiration for writing this particular story and for creating Alexandria Moreno was that I wanted to read about someone like her. I didn’t see why characters like her weren’t all over the place, and I just hadn’t found them yet. When I didn’t find what I was looking for, that’s when I decided to start writing. And now, it exists.


It’s been a long journey to get All That Glitters published. The best thing is that this book and its main character, Alexandria Moreno, now live beyond my imagination. Alex is out in the world for anybody and everyone who’s looking for a Latina anti-heroine to find. That’s definitely the best part of this entire process.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Straight From the Mouth of Steve Dunn Hanson, author of 'Sealed Up'



I've lived in places that grew me . . . from a small Idaho farm town, a run-down neighborhood in St. Louis, and a middle-class southern California community, to Sydney, Australia, and Bucharest, Romania. My experiences are as varied as the places I've lived. I have a hopper full of "reality" including being a volunteer jail chaplain and flying with a U.S. presidential candidate in his small plane when an engine conked out. And all of this is fodder for my writing.

My latest book is the action/adventure/suspense novel, Sealed Up.

Website & Social Links

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


About the Book:

Title: Sealed Up
Author: Steve Dunn Hanson
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 402
Genre: Action/Adventure/Suspense

The Da Vinci Code unsettles. SEALED UP shakes to the core!

 

UCLA anthropologist Nathan Hill, in a funk since his young wife’s death, learns of staggering millennia-old chronicles sealed up somewhere in a Mesoamerica cliff. This bombshell rocks him out of his gloom, and he leads a clandestine expedition to uncover them. What are they? Who put them there? No one knows. But, self-absorbed televangelist Brother Luke, who funds the expedition, thinks he does. If he’s right, his power-hunger will have off-the-charts gratification.
Striking Audra Chang joins Nathan in his pursuit and brings her own shocking secret. As they struggle through a literal jungle of puzzles and dead ends, she finds herself falling in love with Nathan. Her secret, though, may make that a non-starter.
When a shaman with a thirst for human sacrifice, and a murderous Mexican drug lord with a mysterious connection to Brother Luke emerge, the expedition appears doomed. Yet Nathan is convinced that fate—or something—demands these inscrutable chronicles be unearthed.
And if they are . . . what shattering disruption will they unleash?
Intricately layered and remarkably researched, this enthralling suspense-driven and thought provoking tour de force begs a startling question: Could it happen?

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

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?

Maybe I’m a masochist. Just kidding—sort of. Writing can be agonizing, frustrating, depressing, and a bunch of other –ing words. But the bottom-line is I wanted to be an author because I have something to say. 

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 don’t know what it is supposedly cracked up to be, but it is work. Really hard work. And it takes off-the-charts self-discipline to keep at it. The perks? Well, there is nothing that quite equals the creating of something beautiful, meaningful, and true.

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

My first books years ago were traditionally published, but this one, Sealed Up, is self-published. I probably would have gone traditional with this one, if I could have found an agent that fit. As it turns out, I went the right way. I’ve learned a ton in the process, and my book is doing very well. The downside is the time it is taking to “do everything.” That’s slowed the writing of my next book in the series, but that’s okay.

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

I’m not being snarky, it’s just the way it is. By definition publishing decisions are mostly subjective, and to make their bet as sure as possible, agents and publishers cater to authors with a track record. Fortunately, there is now a viable way for unknown authors to successfully self-publish. It’s tough, but the author is in control, and it can work.

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, children, and grandchildren have all been ultra-supportive. It’s amazing how much help they have been.

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

Getting into the Amazon Kindle ebooks top 100 ebooks sold (#51) and being designated by Amazon a Best Seller two months after my book was published. Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that!

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

Facebook and Goodreads have been the best. Twitter? Ehh!

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

My cover is great and has been phenomenal in attracting readers. I think my book’s description is very good too. Maximizing SOE, getting word-of-mouth going, etc. has all been helpful. The really big things have been getting the word out on places like NetGalley and using special price promotion with the help of folks out there who have a zillion subscribers—like BookBub.

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

I’m too laid back to do that. But if I did, it would be how grateful I am to live at a time when, with limited means, I can effectively get my books published and distributed so just about anyone in the world can access them.

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?

Well, I believe I have something meaningful to say, and being a published author is the vehicle to get that word out.  All of the trudging has been a learning process that helps me be better at doing that. For me, that’s been a pretty small price to pay.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Straight from the Mouth of Harley Mazuk, Author of 'White with Fish, Red with Murder'

Harley Mazuk’s first novel is White with Fish, Red with Murder. His first private eye story, “The Tall Blonde with the Hot Boiler,” resulted in his first sale, to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Jan. 2011.) EQMM has subsequently published three more of his stories, and he has sold longer fiction to Dead Guns Press and Dark Passages.
Harley was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned a B.A. in English Literature from Hiram College, and studied at Elphinstone College, Bombay U. He worked in the music business in New York, then joined the Federal Government, for a 29-year run, first in IT, later as a writer and editor in corporate communications.
Now retired, Harley’s passions are his family, writing, reading, running, peace, Italian cars, and California wine. He lives with his wife, Anastasia, in Maryland, where they have raised two children.

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 walked over to a Walter Mosley book signing once on my lunch break in downtown Washington, D.C. There was a line around the store and out the door, and the line was mostly women, young women. I saw all those nice gals, and Mosley sitting a desk in his fedora signing his name, and I thought, “That’s for me.”

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?

Well, I don’t have a line of women at my door. Yet. But I have hopes. The perks? There’s no dress code. I set my own hours. Nobody minds if I have a glass (or two) of wine at lunch. The commute is easy. I don’t have to take an annual employee satisfaction survey, nor sit through a performance review. They’re the sorts of perks you get if you’re self-employed or work from home. The demands are minimal, but I’m retired with a pension. If I had to write and publish for a living, the demands on my time, and I think the stress, would be much greater.

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

Basically traditional. When I finished the first book, I had to learn how to sell a manuscript. I researched agents, which is not as much fun as writing, and when my first 30 or 35 choices declined, I did a mass e-mailing and found an agent through that. She called me on an evening when she’d had to evacuate her Manhattan office due to Hurricane Sandy, so I believed her when she said she was enthusiastic about the book. Unfortunately, she didn’t find a publisher who shared her enthusiasm, and the manuscript came back to me. I queried publishers who accept un-agented submissions and soon had an offer. Things work out for the best perhaps. You know, I wanted to go to Dartmouth, but my guidance counselor said I might not fit in with an Ivy League crowd. I think he was right. I was happy at my little old Ohio college. Similarly, it would have been swell if my agent had landed me a deal with Alfred A. Knopf or Scribner’s, but I’m very happy with Driven Press. They’re a comfortable fit for me.

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?

For real? You’d probably have to ask them. But I think they’re happy that it keeps me off the streets, keeps me out of trouble.

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 two cats. I feed them twice a day. Sometimes I keep them waiting, but it’s unintentional. I plunge into my story world when I’m writing, and it might take a while for me to get the message.  

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 grew five healthy female cannabis indica plants. They are no longer with me, but that was the plan all along. I have a spathe that my wife gave me in 1989. It’s alive, but it must thrive on neglect.

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?
I usually just ignore the phone. They don’t leave messages, so I doubt if I’m missing anything. I’m the principal chef here at the Black Lizard Lounge, so when my family needs dinner, I stop for the day. And as to the boss, there is none. Yay!

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

I still remember a Skype call I had with my principal editor, a young Australian woman. She was trying to get a point straight about the relationship between my private eye (Frank), and his secretary (Vera) in the book. Did Frank love Vera? Could he? Was he just using her? Or was it more of a friendship? “Well,” I said, “I wrote two sex scenes between Frank and Vera that I cut out of the final manuscript. I could put one back in. Perhaps it would help clarify what the relationship’s all about.”
“OK,” said the ed. “But you don’t have to put the whole scene back in. Just pick it up from the end, after they come.” 
I’m still wondering if that’s typical editor jargon.

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

I enjoy Facebook a great deal. It lets me have an author page https://www.facebook.com/HarleyMazukAuthor/, and I try to keep my writing-oriented posts separate from jokes, political rants, and interactions with friends. I didn’t grow up on social media, so I’m less enthused about Twitter (where I’m @fswiver), and LinkedIn, and I’m not too clear about what I could or should be doing with Pinterest. But I dabble. Google+ appeals to me, but I don’t yet have the camaraderie there that I find on Facebook. I’ve been engaging more on Goodreads lately—reviewing books by other mystery writers.

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

Well, I’m on a blog tour. You insanely wonderful book junkies are going to make the sales happen for me, right? This is all new for me—first book, and it’s just coming out, so I can’t tell you much yet about what works.

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

Hah! Old vine zinfandel. The fruit from these 100-year-old vines makes a wonderful, concentrated red wine. Of course, too much Zin and I’d fall off the roof.  

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 always knew I wanted to be a writer, even back in high school. But life happened. I took a steady job instead, ended up with a great wife (about whom I should go up on the rooftops and scream) and raised two kids. Finally, I have time to write, and being a published author, and having a novel out, that’s like my life’s dream. I wouldn’t have it any other way.