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.



Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Straight From the Mouth of 'Summer on Earth' Peter Thompson


Peter Thompson grew up in Illinois, and lives near Chicago. He remembers how excited he was when the first astronaut stepped on to the moon. He has had an appreciation of space, and all its possibilities ever since. His love of children’s books developed while reading to his three sons. His first novel, Living Proof, was a thriller published by Berkeley Books. Summer on Earth is his first book for younger readers. It will be released in August of this year.

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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 have always loved to read, but never thought I was able to write. When I did start to write fiction, it all started out as a joke. I was out with my three brothers when my youngest brother, Dan, told us he was going to write a kid’s book. He already had the title picked out - A Monkey for Cousin Larry. That sounded kind of funny, and we asked what it was going to be about. He hadn’t thought that far ahead, he said, but maybe it would have something to do with a monkey being up in a tree and throwing bananas at people, or something like that.

A few months later, my brothers and I were at a family gathering, and one of us asked Dan how his book was going. He still hadn’t started it, but with a great title like that, he didn’t think it would be hard to write at all. After hearing this several more times over the next months, my brother Greg and I decided we would “help” Dan (it’s a brother thing), by writing our own versions of the book. So, Greg and I started writing stories, each titled A Monkey for Cousin Larry, and sending them to Dan in the mail. We came up with a couple of dozen stories all together. One was a children’s story, but we also wrote mystery, horror, a poem, a romance, and one that read pretty much like Google directions. Dan didn’t appreciate our help, and he never got around to writing the story. But we had a great time with this joke, and I realized that I really enjoyed writing. After that, I started writing regularly, and I can’t imagine not writing now.

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?

Unless you are a famous author like Stephen King or JK Rowling, there aren’t a lot of perks. I don’t get recognized and upgraded in restaurants, and nobody has come up to me on the street and asked for an autograph.  The biggest joy for me is that people are reading what I write. I love it when someone reaches out and emails me about how much they loved the story, or asks me questions about my characters or is interested in what happens to them after the book is finished. Being read is the highest compliment an author can get.

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

This is my second published book, and both were published traditionally, though in much different ways. My first novel, Living Proof, a fast-paced, paranoid thriller, was published 14 years ago as a mass market release by Berkley Books. I wrote this quickly and it was picked up by an agent and a publisher within the first year of my finishing the first draft. My new novel, Summer on Earth, took a lot longer.  I wrote most of the book very quickly, but I got stuck on the end. I ended up putting the book away, and didn’t look at it again for well over a year. When I finally picked it up again, I knew where I was going, and I finished it quickly. That was the first draft, though, and it has been re-written extensively since then. It took longer to find an agent this time, it then took her a while to find the right publishing house. It turned into a marathon, but I am happy with the way it has come out, and I think it was worth the wait.

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

I have been to a number of writer’s conferences, and met a lot of editors, the gatekeepers to the industry. To a large extent they are twentysomethings, just a few years out of school. The publishing industry is turning into the movie industry. They are looking for blockbusters and they want something like whatever the latest big hit is.

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 have been very lucky, because my family is very supportive, and they are my biggest fans.

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

I wish I was better at social media. I do Twitter because the publishing industry is so active there, but I am not a natural with this, and should be doing more. I know how important Facebook is, but I am just getting my toes wet with this now.

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

My book is a newer release, so I am still waiting for reports on how it is doing. I have been getting great reviews, and the people who have reached out to me have told me how much they enjoyed the book, so I am hopeful. To make sales happen, I am continually giving out books to libraries, independent book sellers and book bloggers for reviews. I am looking at this as a long-term process, and I know it can take time to find the audience.

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

Don’t judge a book by its figurative cover. Summer on Earth is labeled as a kid’s book, but I think the themes and story are universal. I recently met with a book club that read this as their book of the month, and they, all adult women, loved the book and told me how it made them laugh and cry, and they felt for the characters.

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 was a writer before I was an author, so it is a great feeling. Finishing a novel gives me a real sense of accomplishment, and seeing the book in print, with a copy you can hold in your hands is a very cool thing. I haven’t seen my name on the best seller’s list, yet. But that is my next goal. I will continue to write and hope that people keep reading what I write. It is part of who I am, and I love to share my stories with the world.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Straight from the Mouth of Mark S. Bacon, Author of 'Desert kill Switch'

Mark S. Bacon’s new book is Desert Kill Switch.  Bacon began his career as a southern California newspaper police reporter, one of his crime stories becoming key evidence in a murder case that spanned decades.

After working for two newspapers, he moved to advertising and marketing when he became a copywriter for Knott’s Berry Farm, the large theme park down the freeway from Disneyland, and later for a Los Angeles advertising agency. 

Before turning to fiction, Bacon wrote business books including Do-It-yourself Direct Marketing, printed in four languages and three editions, named best business book of the year by Library Journal, and selected by the Book of the Month Club and two other book clubs.  His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Antonio Express News, Denver Post, and many other publications.  Most recently he was a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Desert Kill Switch is the second book in the Nostalgia City mystery series that began with Death in Nostalgia City, an award winner at the 2015 San Francisco Book Festival.

Bacon is the author of flash fiction mystery books including, Cops, Crooks and Other Stories in 100 Words.  He  taught journalism as a member of the adjunct faculty at Cal Poly University – Pomona, University of Redlands, and the University of Nevada - Reno.  He earned an MA in mass media from UNLV and a BA in journalism from Fresno State.  


Find out more on Amazon.

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 always wanted to be a writer.  I considered it the hardest work I could do reasonably well.  I started my career as a newspaper reporter.  I then went on to advertising copywriting, creating TV and radio commercials.  Later I spent a good deal of time writing direct response advertising.  And as many professional writers probably do, I pondered writing a book. My first books were nonfiction business titles.

When my first book came out, my publisher in New York called me an “author.”  I’d always thought that title belonged to people like Dickens, Twain or Faulkner, but if you write a book, your publisher calls you an author.

Now I’m an honest-to-God mystery writer—I mean author. 


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?

Are you kidding?  Some people are impressed when I say I write mystery novels (or simply, books).  Others think writing is a hobby, something to do when you’re not really working.  Basketball coach Bobby Knight famously said, “All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us then go on to greater things.”

Me, I’m grateful for the opportunity to write and to be published.  The work itself if the greatest reward and the greatest perk. 


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

Finding a publisher is generally monotonous.  I sold my first book, however, by writing a query letter to three New York publishers.  One of them liked my idea for a book on business writing and paid me an advance to write it.  The rest has not been that easy.

Fiction is much harder to get published than nonfiction for a variety of reasons.  You write to agents.  You write to publishers.  You send outlines, sample chapters, marketing ideas.  Over and over.  The fact I’d published business books—that sold very well—with a big NYC publisher didn’t seem to persuade many publishers to read my novel.  Eventually two publishers were interested and picked one.  Black Opal Books has published my first two Nostalgia City mysteries and a third is in the works.


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?

Not really an issue.  I’ve always been a writer, working for others or myself.  My wife is very supportive of my work, always has been.  She works.  I work.  We pay the rent.


This is for pet lovers.  Do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?

Yes, sometimes she has to wait. But Willow doesn’t have to wait too long.  She’s a very understanding golden retriever who often lies next to me when I’m writing.  Sometimes she thinks I need a break so she sits up and puts a paw on my lap.  I always make time for her.  Well, almost always.


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?

Boss, what boss?  I’ve always been a full time writer.  And now that I work at home, no boss to worry about.  In the past, a boss (newspaper editor) could have been hounding me for a story as the deadline approached.  At the ad agency where I worked, the boss didn’t usually growl about deadlines.  I often had days, rather than hours to finish a job.


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

I was doing a book signing for one of my mysteries when uniformed police officers raced into the bookstore and told everyone to stay inside and away from the windows.  Then we heard shots. The police told the clerks to lock the doors and they ran back outside.  

Strangely, the store’s customers were more interested in dodging bullets than in getting my autograph, so the signing was suspended. 

Everyone stood huddled at the back of the store for more than one hour.  Someone suggested I read aloud from my book to pass the time.  Then someone else suggested we all just duck down behind the shelves.

Two hours later it was all over. I learned from listening to the radio later that two people had an argument over a traffic crash.  Each pulled out a gun and blazed away.  Did I sell a lot of books?  I don’t know. All I remember is the sound of the shots. 


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

Avoid a particular social network.  That’s sort of a personal question. Naturally I don’t want to offend anyone. Twitter is good for making contacts and teasing out tidbits.  Facebook is much better for telling a longer story, about yourself, your book or your genre.  Pinterest is visual, Snapchat evanescent. Each has its place.  How’s that for a politically correct social network statement?

For fans of mysteries, or other literature genres, I don’t think you can beat following someone’s blog or website.  On my site I offer free sample chapters from my books, discuss behind-the-scenes issues in writing and publishing, display some of my flash fiction mysteries (complete stories in 100 words) and provide a space for readers to respond.




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

No one medium or technique will do it all.  Here’s some of the things I do:

- Sign books in stores and libraries
- Advertise online
- Talk at service clubs
- Ask my aunts and uncles to buy my books
- Do book give-aways
- Do media interviews
- Kidnap small children until their parents buy my books
- Solicit reviews
- Get on local TV talk shows
- Write to Kevin Bacon telling him we’re related and that he should do a movie of my latest book
- Donate books to local libraries
- Make up answers to online interviews



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

Please don’t ask me where I get all my ideas or if I’ve heard from Hollywood yet.  And unless you are related to me by blood—and there are exceptions for this, too—don’t ask for a free book.



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 love to write.  I wrote my first story when I was in junior high.  I’ve been a full-time writer ever since and have loved every moment of it….something for which I’m profoundly grateful.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Guest post: "The anchor of self-publishing in a writer’s world," by Frankie Hogan



Name: Frankie Hogan
Book Title: Livin’: From the Amsterdam Red Light to the African Bush
Website/Blog Link: www.livintravelbook.com
Find out more on Amazon 


You have your shit together. Writing is something you’ve always adored, and you get to realize that intensity. You sit at your desk during your daily writing time with a coffee or a whiskey, and you develop worlds. You give nuance and reality to characters. You build tension in your plot like a wailing drum crescendo. The magic you create on the page is what you live for. Once you have a finished product, you can’t wait to get it out into the wilds. The months and sometimes years it took to craft is well justified. This is your element. On to the next project. Except you can’t move on, because you chose to self-publish. Whoever the wise sage was who convinced you that writers need to self-publish today must have had a malt liquor habit. Especially if your passion is writing.

What that drunken monk forgot to tell you is that if you decide to venture into independent publishing, you are no longer a writer. You are a businessperson. Depending on your level of involvement, you are now a manager, agent, financier, scheduler, accountant, lawyer, designer, publicist, social media expert, blogger, shipper, interviewee, and public-appearance-maker. You think you have time to develop worlds in the next half year? If your answer is yes, you are shitting yourself. In self-publishing, money comes first. A project cost budget must be created to match your goals and show potential investors. Nothing hits enhancement-pill heights for investors as much as a well-thought-out business plan with backing financials. If you’re not a numbers guy or gal, you are already pulling hair off the top of your dome. You have to develop a pitch, practice it like a commercial actor, and line up meetings with likely targets. And this is just the beginning. Throw on your designer hat to design your book cover, interior format, any symbol or logo, website, social media pages, and blog. Are you counting the bullets in that gun yet? The time it takes to price your printing, production, and shipping costs can make 6 a.m. turn into happy hour. We haven’t even gotten into marketing and advertising. Fuck it. You know where this is going.

The truth is that going the other route of agent-hiring bridging to Manhattan publishing houses still takes considerable time. I chose indie publishing because I have a business background. I also want to keep a certain level of control over the project, and I don’t mind the time off from writing. I like to rekindle the blaze for the next writing project over time. It’s like dinner and dancing before sex. A steady buildup enhances the fulfillment. But if your reaction to that statement is “That’s bullshit,” consider yourself forewarned about self-publishing.





Frankie Hogan is an American writer, director, and filmmaker. He is a founder and principal partner of Corner Prophets Production Company, a film production company started in 2012, and the company controller for a Los Angeles-based international interior design firm.

Find out more on Amazon