Friday, December 15, 2017

Straight from the Mouth of AA Freda, Author of 'A Police Action'

AA Freda is an award-winning author. He’s written several novels with a third to be released in the first half of 2018.

His first novel, Goodbye Rudy Kazoody, an award winner, is a coming of age work about a group of teenagers growing up in a New York City neighborhood during the early 1960's was acclaimed by the critics.

His second piece and just released, A Police Action is another coming of age story about two confused young adults caught up during the free love and Vietnam era of the late 1960's.

The inspiration for his books are always his lifelong experiences and people he’s met along the way.

Freda was born in Italy but grew up in New York City and now resides in Easton, CT, a suburb of New York City that offers him a tranquil environment that allows him to keep his finger on the pulse of the city he loves so much. A graduate of Bernard Baruch College at the City University in New York, he has served as an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. Freda also served in Vietnam the subject matter of A Police Action. In addition to writing, in his spare time, Freda enjoys fishing, hiking, climbing and shooting pool. 


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?

It wasn’t because of a professional choice. And it certainly isn’t for the money. I just love to write and tell a story. I just love when I find a reader fascinated by one of my stories.

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 if you are after fortune, you’ll be disappointed. I’m still working on the fame part. My first book, Goodbye Rudy Kazoody was an award winner and was critically acclaimed. My second A Police Action has also been well received. So the fame part could still come.

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 be independently published. This is the quickest way to market. I want to share my works. I believe I write a good quality product and I want people to enjoy my stories.

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 love the writing and the publishing route. The more difficult part of the business for me is the marketing and promotion side of the business. I’m mostly shy and introverted and socializing about my works is difficult for me.

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

I don’t own a pet but I’m constantly cat sitting Roland the cat for my son who travels a lot for his job. Roland lets me know when his dish is empty. He sits on my computer keys until I get up to feed him

Are your plants actually still alive?

This is why I have all fake plastic plants. A hired gardener takes care of my shrubs and grass. You would not want to see my yard if I had to do it myself.

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?

Since I own my own business, I don’t have to deal with a demanding boss. Clients are a different story. When I’m in the middle of a furious writing session I put all my calls through to voice mail.

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

Realizing after my first book was published that in spite of my careful proofreading, I still had seven errors.

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

I’m still evaluating. I don’t believe Facebook has been very helpful. I’m having better luck with Twitter. The jury is still out on Goodreads.

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

This is the part of the self-publishing business that I believe needs the most help. Publishers are of no help at all. There are pros on the outside that can be useful but they come with a price tag. It’s been trial and error so far but I’m getting better at evaluating the good from the bad.

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

The positive critical reviews I have received on my first two books, Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody and A Police Action. My star rating on Amazon and Goodreads exceeds those of some of the classic books.

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 that is certainly true. But, I do intend on making a profit. I just need to figure out the formula. I have the first part done and that is to provide the customers, the readers, a good quality product. Now I just need to bring that product to market.



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Straight from the Mouth of Dr. Patrick Mbaya

 
Publication Date: September 2016 Publisher: AuthorHouse Formats: Ebook Pages: 76 Genre: Biography/Autobiography Tour Dates: October 23-December 15   Add to GR Button   
Although Dr. Patrick Mbaya’s illness caused a lot distress and nearly took his life, the emotional symptoms of the depression he developed helped him understand and empathize with patients and how they feel when they become ill. In My Brain is Out of Control, Mbaya, fifty-five and at the peak of his career, shares a personal story of how he suffered from a brain infection in 2010 that caused loss of speech, right-sided weakness, and subsequent depression. He tells how he also dealt with the antibiotics complications of low white cell count and hepatitis. He narrates his experiences as a patient, the neurological and psychiatric complications he encountered, how he coped, and his journey to recovery. Presenting a personal perspective of Mbaya’s illness from the other side of the bed, My Brain is Out of Control, offers profound insight into battling a serious illness.
 
CHASING DOPAMINE: NATURAL HIGHS
 Following my mystery illness, I developed strategies in order to get my body and brain strength back. I used natural ways to induce (chase) dopamine in the reward centre. Press-ups is one way to keep fit, and at the same time, chase dopamine. This can be done at home in secret, especially at the beginning, like when I first started doing press-ups, after doing one, I couldn’t lift my body off the floor! After two years of practice, I was able to do 60 in 60 seconds! Not bad. As they say, “practice makes perfect.”
Whatever exercise one designs, that’s fine. You will know it’s working when you sweat, muscles start to ache and maybe in time muscles start to show? For those people who are courageous enough to go the gym or jog, that’s even better. I have continued with my exercise regime at home. Although before you start it might be a struggle, when you are in the flow, you actually feel good, solutions to complex problems are found, especially when done first thing in the morning?
Another way of chasing dopamine, is listening to good music. I used this strategy when I was recovering. I tried to lift my mood by visiting the “Mandela Garden” while listening to good music. The sort of music which can make dopamine flow even in “aliens” brains.
In addition to “chasing dopamine,” exercise will also improve blood flow to different parts of the body, which may have been injured. As outlined in, “My Brain is Out of Control,” I was advised by my orthopaedic doctor, following my knee injury while doing my “moon walk”, at a club in Washington, that I will need a knee replacement, but I have not had any problems, I think I have completely recovered? That’s this form physiotherapy, has been beneficial to me.
There are user friendly ways of chasing dopamine, where one does not get in any form of bother or arguments with any one. Thus, although you might not chase as much dopamine, compared to naughty or illegal ways, this can be done at any time, and anywhere?
The brain is involved in processing reward. The brain connection called the, “mesolimbic” dopamine pathway, is involved in reward, and pleasure. This is described as the “pleasure centre.” The chemical dopamine is the pleasure chemical that transmits this information for both natural highs (chasing dopamine), and drugs of addiction (naughty ways of chasing dopamine), like stimulants (cocaine and amphetamines), which are powerful inducers of dopamine.
In natural highs (chasing dopamine), natural occurring chemicals from different parts of the brain carry messages to influence the mesolimbic pathway for reinforcement, and reward. Some behaviours as described above, including exercise, sex (orgasm), food, and listening to good music, can trigger the mesolimbic pathway.
The brain makes its own chemicals like endorphins (brain morphine like substance), endocannabinoids (brain cannabis like substance) etc, can act on the reward system, triggering dopamine, causing pleasure in the reward system.
Drugs of addiction, including alcohol, cannabis, opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, bypass natural occurring chemicals (neurotransmitters), and directly stimulate brain receptors, causing dopamine release. Artificial highs may be achieved on demand rather than naturally. Using more of a particular drug, will release more dopamine, inducing my more pleasure, than naturally chasing dopamine. Drugs of addiction release much more pleasure than natural highs, although at an expense of likelihood addiction. However, with time, the drug stops working, or when the individual decides to stop using the drug, dopamine receptors crave for dopamine. The individual becomes pre-occupied with the drug, and will try to avoid the horrible withdrawal symptoms by using the drug, and not for enjoyment. Thus, addiction has occurred.
Some of the current drugs used to treat addiction, work by interacting with this system. Drugs which work by reducing consumption, promote abstinence or reduce craving of a particular psychoactive drug (like Acamprosate, and the opiate blocker Nalmefene for alcohol, or topiramate for cocaine).
 Dr Patrick Mbaya MD FRCPsych.
www.drpatrickmbaya.com
Essential Psychopharmacology, Neuroscientific Basis, and Practical Applications. Stephen M. Stahl. Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Essential Psychopharmacology, Neuroscientific Basis, and Practical Applications. Stephen M. Stahl. Fourth Edition, Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Lowinson and Ruiz’s Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, Fifth Edition (Williams & Wilkens, 2011).
My Brain Is Out of Control. Patrick Mbaya. Author House. September 2016.
Dr. Patrick Mbaya is a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry. He is a consultant psychiatrist and honorary clinical lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. He has a special interest in mood and addiction disorders.

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 😊.