An Interview with Author Don Massenzio

I’m pleased to share this interview on my site for all of you to read. I have enjoyed the writing of Don Massenzio and I think you will too. This is timeless writing…

don mass poster

Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a short tagline:

Let Me Be Frank: A Frank Rozzani Detective Story – A tragedy changes the life of one of Frank’s closest friends.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Anywhere from young adults to seniors. It is an engaging mystery without a preponderance of violence, sex or profanity.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

It is based on the first name of the main character.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

I have a cover artist in Pakistan that I use quite frequently. He is very good at devising an image based on a synopsis of the book.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

I would say Clifford Jones or “Jonesy.” He is a bit of a smartass and the ultimate sidekick with great skills.

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

There is no one character, but the collective scum that Frank and Jonesy must deal with to solve their case would be my least favorite.

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

Really, nothing comes to mind.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

It was reviewed by an ex-New Orleans police officer who felt that the scenes in New Orleans were quite accurate.

What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?

Some Elmore Leonard and John D. MacDonald books.

Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I am a musician, and I write and arrange music.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Through my website: http://www.donmassenzio.com

What can we expect from you in the future?

Another book in the Frank Rozzani series as well as a book of short stories and a non-fiction book that will consist of tips for self-published writers.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Reviews are always helpful along with spreading the word to friends and family.

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Keep at it. Write every day. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t be put off by the stigma of self-publishing, but be sure to hire a competent editor and use beta readers.

And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

Frank and Jonesy got back into the rented BMW. They simultaneously worked to loosen their ties and unbutton their top shirt buttons.
“I could never get used to wearing a tie. I wonder why men still wear these torture devices. All they do is cut off the blood supply to your brain,” Jonesy said.
“I haven’t worn one in a while, and I don’t miss it.”

They rode in silence for a couple of minutes. Finally, Jonesy spoke.

“That was an interesting turn of events. We went in expecting Al Capone, and we found two businessmen who’ve probably never held a gun. What is going on here?”
“I don’t think that all of the members of the Indigeaux family are being honest with us. It looks like the only thing approaching extortion was the use of some aggressive business dinners and sales presentations. I’d like to take a look at Jack Indigeaux’s involvement here, but we have to tread lightly. I want him to think we are still on his side.”

As they stopped by the Devil’s Dew and got out of the BMW, a white van sped up and pulled opposite the car. As if by instinct, Frank dove behind the car and pulled Jonesy down with him. They were unarmed. Shots from at least two guns rang out from the van and hit the side of the BMW and the front of the building.

Guy Monreaux emerged from the bar with a shotgun and opened up on the van. He hit the side of the van and knocked off one of the rearview mirrors. He ducked behind the BMW with Frank and Jonesy.
“What the hell did you guys do to the Doucets?” Guy yelled.
“We didn’t do anything. We told them the truth,” Frank answered.
“Well, obviously they didn’t like the truth since they sent someone here to kill you guys.”
“I don’t think they’re trying to kill us. They intentionally shot the car and the front of the building. They could have hit us easily. We aren’t armed.”

After about ten seconds, the van sped away. Frank checked himself, Guy, and Jonesy, and none of them were hit. He ran into the bar to call 911. As he walked in, he saw the daytime bartender lying on the floor with a pool of blood expanding around him. He had been shot in the neck. One of the busboys was already on the phone calling for an ambulance. Frank found a weak pulse, so he grabbed a bar rag and applied pressure to the wound. It didn’t look good for the bartender. The way the blood was pumping, the bullet must have hit a major artery.

You can learn more about Don Massenzio by visiting his Amazon Author page here.

Advertisements

For Children Everywhere! Dennis Gager Talks Children’s Books and Halloween!

Dennis Gager has arrived and is one of the leading Children’s authors of the moment. His first book, “Billy Rabbit’s Halloween Adventure,” hit the bestseller listings and the newest book,”Billy Rabbit Saves Christmas,” looks likely to do the same. Enjoy the interview– then enjoy the books with your kids! It’s Christmas… A time for sharing!

Who do you have in mind when you write?

My characters. I like to imagine them in their settings and what they would be doing. It helps me to get my creative flow going when I write.

Have you always aspired to be a writer?

Yes, I have; but I thought it was just a dream for a long time until my wife kicked me in the butt, so to speak, to get my work out there.

Tell me about how you became a writer—what was the first step for you?

Tough one! Well, I guess it all happened when I used to write short stories for my nephew. I started to actually enjoy writing and creating fantasy worlds and having fun with it. Seeing the smile it brought to my nephew really made my day, so I guess that was my first step.

Do you think anyone can learn to be an effective writer or is it an unnamed spiritual gift?

I believe everyone has the ability to become a writer if they just take time to see the world around them, not as we’re told it’s like, but look at it through the eyes of a child. See it all new, and take time to enjoy the little things. If you can do that, I believe anyone can write.

Was there a point at which you felt this would be a career?

Not until my publisher told me they loved my book and wanted to make a series. Now I believe I can make a career out of it.

Is there a book you’re most proud of?

Actually, I’m very proud of my second book. It has been nominated for two awards, and kids have responded very well to it.

Writing is so internal, in the head, how did you release the pressure before you began writing?

To be honest, I find writing very relaxing. I feel no pressure. I enjoy writing and love to see the final product when I’m done.

On average, how long does it take for you to write your ideas down before you start writing a book?

Not long at all. Actually, I write an outline first. I map out what my story is about, which characters I want in it, and then once I have that done, I sit down and go to work.

What would you say is the “defining” factor in your writing? What makes it yours?

Having fun and enjoying the characters I’m writing about.

How do you guard your time to do what’s most important?

I spend my time with my family and dedicate myself to my writing in my free time. I have an even balance. Both are very important to me.

What are some of the more common distractions you struggle with, and what ways have you found to overcome them?

Life gets in the way at times, but I never give up. I find ways around distractions and keep on plugging.

What kind of review do you take to heart?

Ones that involve children’s opinions about my book.

How do you decide what your next book will be about?

I actually just go with the flow. Whatever catches my eye, I go with it, and that’s my next project.

Was there a link between your childhood and your vocation as a writer?

My father always pushed me to try hard, never give up and don’t take no for a answer. That’s the way I live my life, and I think that helps me to be a writer today.

When you start a new book, do you know how a book will end as you’re writing it? Or does its direction unfold during the writing, research and/or creative process?

When I start writing a story, I have a ending in mind; but sometimes while I’m writing it, I may decide to go in another direction. It really depends on me and how the story unfolding as I’m envisioning it in my mind as I write it.

How do your books speak to people, both inside and outside the reading world?

People tell me they find them cute, they like how I write, and like the lessons their kids get out of them.

How do you see your role in impacting and influencing society?

I hope my writings can help parents and kids to bond together and do more together as a family.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to do?

I actually work as a producer for my wife’s radio network, and I enjoy that very much. If I wasn’t a writer, I would do that full time. I really enjoy working with people and enjoy all the challenges that comes with being a producer.

What are some pieces of advice that you would give someone on writing well?

Young writers often make foolish mistakes. What is a mistake to avoid? There’s never any mistakes. Just write from the heart, and if it fails, don’t give up. Try again.

Could you talk about one work of creative art that has powerfully impacted you as a person?

The Hobbit is one of my most favorite books. I love how the author draws you into the fantasy world and opens your eyes, and you just walk away with such insight into that amazing world.

What relationship do you see between imagination and creativity, and the real world?

I draw my ideas from the real world then use my imagination to turn them into something more. I put it all together and write my story.

For a writer, it is easy to become an elitist. Have you ever, or do you still, struggle with pride as an author?

No, I enjoy writing, and I don’t let it go to my head. I enjoy what I do, and I keep my pride in check. Plus, I have my wife who will keep me in line.

Get Your Copy of Dennis Gager’s Big Hit

Billy Rabbit Saves Christmas

billy rabbit

Artist Profile: Judy Mastrangelo Author of “The Book of Angels”

judy cover

Have you always been focused in a particular area with your artwork?

I’ve always been fascinated with Fantasy art. Recently my focus is on this genre exclusively.

Why did you want to go into creating fantasy-based art? Is this kind of art a passion for you?

Yes, it is my passion and my happiness. I’ve loved Fantasy since childhood. I wanted to live in my imaginary “kingdom” that I’ve created of fairy tale-like creatures.

This includes all art forms, such as in Literature, Drama, Music, Painting, etc. I feel all of these art forms are related, and affect, inspire and are related to one another.

Whose work do you relate to most? Who inspires you?

I have a yen to revisit the works of the following artists. I never get tired of looking at the art of: MAXFIELD PARRISH, JOHN WATERHOUSE, CICELY MARY BARKER, and many Italian Renaissance artists, such as SANDRO BOTICELLI.

What was the last show you attended?

My last show was a “Fairy Festival” in Canterbury, UK.

Do you enjoy collaboration work? Working in teams?

Yes, I very much enjoy working in collaboration with talented people who respect and inspire one another.

What do you expect of others in a team environment?

I expect and appreciate others in a team whom I collaborate with to work in a professional manner. I enjoy it very much if each member appreciates the talents of the others and does not seek to change the others in order to conform to a mold that they want them to fit into. So the ideal team is one where each member appreciates the respective talents of the others, which is very important in order to work toward the completion of various projects.

Where do you see your work taking you?

It seems to be evolving in an exciting way, which I’ve always envisioned, even as a youth. I seem to be improving, hopefully, as I progress. My abilities in imparting my visions seem to get continually easier and more exciting all the time.

If you could picture yourself 5, 10 years from now, where would you be and what would you be doing?

I would have my art known worldwide, in venues such as books and other markets. I also would enjoy communicating my ideas of inspiration to all, through my art.

If you were awarded a grant of say… $20,000 for a major art project, how would you use the money?

I would probably purchase new art supplies that I would need. I would also employ the services of my very talented current team I am working with, in order to develop the many exciting projects I have planned, so that I can share them with the world.

Do you have a vision for your work?

I want to develop my feelings of spirituality and goodness, and love for life and nature. I strive to share this with others. I also enjoy showing the healing power of art, both to oneself and to others. It is a great therapy and a wonderful way to release one’s emotions, visions and desires. It is also very calming to do so.

How do you think/want other people to respond to your art?

I’d love if they would be inspired and uplifted in a joyful way, by viewing my art. I’d like it if they could be also inspired to create art themselves, expressing their dreams and personal feelings. It’s such a fulfilling experience!

Do you see yourself in your artwork? How?

I don’t paint myself specifically in my paintings, but I strive in my art to express my “inner soul” as much as I can.

What do you think your work stands for?

I try to express love for beauty, nature and joy of life. I hope that my work will make people remember the amazing childhood feelings they used to have of the awe for everything. These amazing feelings can keep you feeling “forever young.”

I also try, through my art, to impart my reverence for life, including all people, animals, etc. This way, they will see that we must all work to preserve life and not be at odds with one another.

Are your ideas readily conveyed?

I feel that they are. I’m not a complex person, and I don’t feel that my ideas are either. My paintings might sometimes appear complex, but it is the kind of art that is enjoyable to study. When doing this, one can see intricate details that are enjoyable for many.

Do you feel confident speaking and writing about what it is you do?

Yes. I enjoy all kinds of people, and it’s great fun communicating my thoughts to all who are interested.

Can you describe your ideal working atmosphere?

I enjoy a cozy, comfortable place, with a nice environment of trees, etc., that I can look out into.

What do you consider to be some of your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

I have a good facility of drawing and painting, which helps me in my art. My imagination inspires me in my creativity. I’m very persevering and have a great desire to finish my projects, even though they may be long range ones. I don’t give up on them, even though I may run into difficulties in their development.

I do have an innate shyness, which I’ve considered a weakness throughout my lifetime. But my love to communicate my art and ideas, and the appreciation of imparting it to others, has helped me overcome this.

Can you detail some important goals you have achieved?

I’ve completed a large body of paintings, which, I understand, are appreciated by many worldwide. I’ve also had my artwork licensed in several fields, in different markets, such as wall murals, books, puzzles, greeting cards, etc.

I’ve been fortunate to have a kind and loving husband, so a wonderful goal that I’ve achieved is a very happy marriage, where we support each other’s dreams.

What are your short-range and long-range goals, and how do you expect to achieve them?

I look forward to more recognition along the lines of licensing my works. There are several books directed towards all age groups, which are in the planning stages now. I am working with some very talented people who are helping to “brand” my work, and hopefully, my long range goal will be achieved through this process. Being an individual artist, I do need professional assistance in promoting my work. I’m now working with a wonderful team who are making my dreams possible.

What are your behaviors that inspire or motivate others?

I like to show joy and love of imagination in my art. I try to impart the fact that everyone has an innate talent in various forms that they can develop in many exciting ways. It’s a very fulfilling thing to do.

How would others describe you? Your work ethic/habits?

I’m considered a talented artist and a kind and good friend. I’ve always been an honest person, and I do my utmost in dealing fairly with others. I do my best and hope that others will treat me in the same way.

What methods do you use to organize your time?

I try to take each day at a time. I organize time around my obligations for that day, by making a mental list of things to do. I try not to stress over not being able to achieve everything in my daily time allotted. I just do my best to get everything done that I wish to do.

I consider each day a gift and an adventure. I try to have a schedule for what I’d like to do, but if I don’t get everything done, I know I’ll be able to do it in good time. Sometimes surprising things happen that weren’t planned, which are interesting in themselves. Serendipity.

Tell me about a time when you have felt pulled in all directions and how you handled it.

I used to do “Art for Hire” commissions, and sometimes I felt overwhelmed to hurry to meet a deadline. During one such project, the art director called me several times to ask me “when are you going to be finished?” And I responded by saying, “I’m trying my best to do a good job, and it’s taking me a while because I have other things I have to do also.” I feel that “I have a life,” which includes doing many things. It’s not really a very good feeling to be pulled in many directions at once. I love to do my art work, which I often get paid for; but I also have personal things that I enjoy doing, which are very important to me too.

So, after explaining this to her, she understood that I am not a “pot boiler artist,” and that she would have to be patient and wait for me to do a good job. She accepted this, probably reluctantly, but I was happier having explained it to her.

When I do my creative art, I like to do it in an inspired and relaxed atmosphere. I do my best work that way. And so that’s how I handle my work at this point in my life. I try not to get myself in a situation where I will be pulled in too many directions at once.

What motivates/inspires your work?

The beauty of nature motivates me to create. All forms of art that I love often inspire me to paint.

To show that we are a part of nature, along with the wonderful environment we live in and other life forms, such as the animals, is a very motivating theme to me. I feel called to show these feelings in my art; to give the sense of being one with all of creation. It is a very spiritual feeling that inspires me. I think if this can be felt by many people, there would be more respect for our precious planet.

How do you know when you have achieved success?

I am one of the most severe critics that I have to please. I’m quite a perfectionist when it comes to my art work. So when I am pleased with a current project, I feel I’ve reached a goal.

Also hearing from others that they enjoy and appreciate my work is very important to me. All these things let me know when

I’ve achieved success with my art.

How do you measure your level of success/achievement?

I get feedback from others through social media, etc., and from the public in general. That is one way I measure my success. I also appreciate any success I receive from various companies who want to publish or produce my work in various forms. If I like my work that I complete, I feel that eventually it will be appreciated by others sometime in the future.

I also feel that having success in my personal relationships is very important also. Yes, my art work means a great deal as a goal, but having lasting, wonderful bonds between family and friends are also a great measure of success to me, as I’m sure it is to everyone. Life would be very lonely without this. Friends and family are a gift to always cherish.

Describe yourself in one word. Why that word?

INSPIRING. I like to try to inspire other with the medium of my art.

Learn all about angels with this great new children’s book from noted painter Judy Mastrangelo! “Book of Angels” is a beautifully creative, traditional children’s book filled with illustrations your children will love. Who doesn’t love angels? Read along and learn with your children as you delve into a magical fairytale world of make believe and wonder!

Get your copy of “The Book of Angels” today

book of angels 1

Author Megan Elizabeth Bares All For A New Blog Tour

Megan Elizabeth is one of the most exciting authors to appear on the book scene in some time. Her first book, “Sinners Craving: League of the Fallen,” was picked up by Satalyte Publishing earlier this year, and since its release in July, it has been moving quickly up the scales as one of the most interesting fantasy novels of the year.

Megan, herself, is driven to succeed with the kind of determination rarely seen in the world today. She lives in New York City and certainly has a ‘New York State of Mind’ when it comes to success. With “Sinners Craving” climbing the bestseller listings, she has nothing to worry about. Several major publishers are interested in her new novel slated for release in 2015.

megan elizabeth

What was the hardest part of writing “Sinners Craving?”

The hardest part about writing a book like “Sinner’s Craving” is handling multiple plot lines and making sure they all tie together. Since this book is part of a series, as a writer you need to plot in advance allowing for certain scenes to play out even though they’re not significant until books that come later on. It’s a way to keep readers interested and to have a bit of fun with the characters.

What did you enjoy most about writing “Sinners Craving?”

When I started writing “Sinner’s Craving,” it was a way to take readers into my world; but as I continued writing, I got lost in the scenes and characters. Writing takes me out of everyday life and puts me in the world of magic and imagination, where I would prefer to spend most of my days. That is what I loved most about writing “Sinner’s Craving.” I left the stress of the real world behind and could just focus on the story.

Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers? Define some of those.

Well, I can say that you won’t need a dictionary to read “Sinner’s Craving.” My vocabulary is pretty straight forward. I do slip in a few fun terms like slhore which is the word slut and whore combined. But the context of it is pretty funny and well explained. I find that when I am reading a book, I hate it when I come across words that I’m not sure of. It slows down the pacing, and I get stuck on that one word. So I try not to do that in my writing.

Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured in your book? If so, discuss them.

I find that my combination of Fallen Angels and Greek Gods has yet to be done in the paranormal/urban fantasy world, which is what makes “Sinner’s Craving” so unique in those respective genres

Are there misconceptions that people have about your book?

I find that when I say that I use Fallen Angels, people automatically think that there is some form of religion in my books, which is so not the case. They’re warriors who happen to have wings; they are flawed in many different ways. There is a classic touch of good verse evil, but this is just an action-packed Urban Fantasy that was written to entertain.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?

Well, there are two things. First, they assume that when I say I write urban fantasy or paranormal that it has to be about Vampires or Shifters. In reality, urban fantasy uses so many more species then just Vamps or Shifters, which I love. The second is that many people say that urban fantasy is a dying genre, let me be clear. Not only do I write urban fantasy, but I am a huge fan as well, and I personally can tell you that the fan base for this genre will never go away. We are voracious readers and are always looking for more.

What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that they need to know?

I think that people get caught up in the magical elements of my genre, which can be amazing. What most fail to realize is that the romance in these stories is utterly compelling. It all you desire to see in different ways, from the animalistic to the lightest touch—it is all right there.

What inspires you?

For me, inspiration comes in many different forms. From my will to strive to do better, to show my family and son that dreams can come true if you work for it. It also comes in many different mundane things, like a funny conversation with a friend or a good book that inspires you to try to write a different genre. People watching or even imagining wonderful things for themselves can turn into an amazing novel.

How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

My life has had many unexpected twists and turns. Not all good, but always a learning experience. I find that had I not gone through some tough times that I wouldn’t be inspired to write or be able to write the emotion that comes through my books.

Who are some of your favourite authors you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

My favourite author of all time is Kresley Cole. She is essentially responsible for my desire to write. While I love other authors like JR Ward (The Warden), Sherrlyn Kenyon, and Gena Showalter, it is Kresley Cole who I truly admire. Her world building is amazing, and she uses different species in her books, which are fascinating as she moulds them to her stories. I find that her talent inspires me to write better and strive for more as a story teller.

What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?

Learning to write is an on-going process. As you continue, you are constantly evolving as a writer, improving and finding different ways to make your writing more interesting. The most useful tool I found in learning how to write is actually reading. Funny as that many sound, reading great authors give you the opportunity to see how they break down their stories, describe scenes and give a flawless delivery. As a writer, you are choosing to put yourself out in the public and allow them into your world. Some people will love it and some will hate it. The most destructive thing you can do for your writing is only hear the negative comments. Use constructive criticism to make you a better writer, but anything else needs to roll off your shoulders. That, of course, is easier said than done.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

This is a tricky question. I am a write-whenever-I-can-and-as-much-as-I-can writer. While I’d love to say that all I do is write, it wouldn’t be the truth. I am a multitasking monster and continue to juggle many different things. I believe that if I didn’t have so much on my plate, I would get so much more accomplished. But at the moment, I’m taking it one day at a time, and someday all I’ll do is write.

What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

Let’s see… I’ve been a mortgage broker, a receptionist, a hotel manager, a front desk agent, food and beverage manager, sales manager, waitress and, most recently, a pre-school teacher. I’m not in the habit of jumping from job to job; I’ve just been working since I was fifteen, so you can imagine the list of professions that one can go through from teenager to college graduate. In truth, it has impacted my writing. In one of my books, my heroine starts out a waitress. It’s one thing to write a fictional character; it’s quite another to understand the ins and outs of what they do and how they themselves would think about it.

For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?

If you would like to get to know my book “Sinner’s Craving,” you can find it on Goodreads, Amazon and the Barnes & Noble website. You can also find info about my characters and upcoming books on my website at http://www.meganelizabethauthor.com. I hope you stop by and explore.

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

At first, I was one of those purists who believed that nothing could compare to how a book felt in your hands. Then, after stacks and stacks of books began to overwhelm my house, I received my first e-reader as a gift and hint to de-clutter. I love being able to download all the books I want and not have to take a trip to the store. Believe me, I used to be at the store multiple times a week buying multiple books, so I can see how ebooks are taking over through sheer convenience.

I think that every author has their own view of how they would like their books to be published. Both self-publishing and traditional publishing have their perks and downfalls. If you self-publish, there is no one telling you “no, your book is not good enough.” It is also a way for authors to take total control of their work and run their careers the way they see fit, which I must admit is very appealing. The downfall of self-pub is there is also a lot of garbage coming out as well, which is leading readers to hang tight to the traditional publishing world. Again, while with traditional publishing there is a certain amount of notoriety and validation for your work, it is a very tough nut to crack and actually get into. I myself am a traditional publishing kind of writer. I want my work to be edited again and again, to be truly polished by professionals. That way I am confident that I am putting out the best work I feel I can do.

What do you think is the future of reading/writing?

Well, I think that ebooks will continue to grow as the way that people get their reading fix. As far as whether or not self-publishing will take over or traditional publishing will continue to reign, I honestly don’t know. I think I’m hoping for co-existence.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

Writing and publishing a book is a very long, slow process, which is a serious test in patience—not my strongest virtue. I am an instant gratification kind of girl. However, first, obviously, I completed the novel, had it edited, then edited two more times. After that, I started on the long, tedious process of submitting it to publishing houses. It was a matter of playing the waiting game. Many houses take an average of six to eight weeks to get back to an author. The best way to get your name to the top of the list is to attend pitch sessions at a writing conference.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

Never before has another author mixed Fallen Angels and Greek Mythology in a way that works for the story. In my books, you will find it totally works and is completely entertaining.

How do you find or make time to write?

Admittedly, it is difficult to find all the time I want to write. I find that I do most of my writing late at night when the house is quiet, and I can concentrate on the task at hand.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.

My writing process is as follows: plot, plot and plot some more. Then I start writing, and my beautiful outline and plot go right out the window, and I write the story as it flows intuitively out of me. Many times when I’m outlining, I haven’t gotten into my characters fully; but by the time I start writing, the characters have changed the story on their own, and it transforms into something that I utterly love.

What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

To promote my work I have done interviews such as this one, appeared on radio and podcasts. It helps to be able to work with someone like Nick Wale, my PR guru. He is the one who tells me all the different ways to promote, like Goodreads, Amazon reviews and banner advertisements across blogger’s websites. I’m also on social media, more dominantly FaceBook, but I also have Twitter and Instagram. I find that it’s so very important to promote your work. No one is going to buy a book they have no knowledge of. And the best investment you can make is in yourself.

 

 

Megan Elizabeth puts sexy back into fantasy and combines love and evil to create Matteaus…

Get your copy today

sinners craving image

G. Michael Vasey Unveils Writing “The Last Observer”

G. Michael Vasey is one of those unique writers you come across on a hot summer day. I have marvelled at this interview, and I’ve wondered what I can really say about it. I like this writer—a lot—and I can’t wait for you to like him, too! His book The Last Observer is a bit of everything, and that is the best way to describe this interview. It’s a bit of everything!

G. Michael Vasey is currently touring radio stations. Catch his breathtaking interview with “The X Zone” today.
gary vasey
Who do you have in mind when you write?

Me. I write about my interests and things that I am passionate about. I trust that the end product is something of interest to others and that I have something unique to offer – my perspective and one that is entertaining and different.

How do you find “inspiration” and where does it live?

Inspiration often comes to me in a semi-meditative state. So listening to music of the right type can start the juices flowing, or sometimes I listen to meditation music on Youtube as I write. It seems to relax me and open a channel to the creative part of me. Other books can also give inspiration too, so when I am reading something it will trigger a series of questions or thoughts and an inner dialogue. I don’t find finding inspiration difficult to be honest. If you look around and pay attention to what is around you, how can you not be inspired? For example, until recently, I lived in Prague. Most people tramp to work, head down, worrying about the day ahead or wishing themselves miles away. As I walked through Prague to work, I looked up – at the glorious architecture and beauty, history and sheer wow of the city I lived in…. that inspires me.

Have you always aspired to be a writer?

No, but writing has always been a key part of what I do for a living, and I have always enjoyed writing. Being an author sort of sprung up on me when I realized what a body of work I had had published as articles, newsletters, book chapters and so on. Once I got comfortable with the idea, I thought – why not give it a proper go?

Tell me about how you became a writer. What was the first step for you?

Having to write so as a part of my job. I must have written well over 500 articles in newsletters and magazines professionally along with 100 white papers and reams of blog articles. So, it is something I do continually. The step you ask about is probably when I first sat down with the objective of writing a book, and I did that because I was told to in meditation…

Do you have a distinctive “voice” as a writer?

I don’t know to be honest, but in poetry I do try to play with words in certain evocative ways.

Do you think anyone can learn to be an effective writer, or is it an unnamed spiritual gift?

I think anyone who really wants to write can learn, but very few writers are true masters. That is a gift that you are born with.

Is there a book you’ve written that you’re most proud of?

No, as I tend to keep looking forward as opposed to backwards. That’s not to say there isn’t a book I am fond of. My novel, The Last Observer, though certainly not perfect, is my favourite book to date; and my last book of poetry – Moon Whispers – I think is my strongest effort yet. I pick the novel because it has the potential to appeal to a broader group of readers, I think.

On average, how long does it take for you to write your ideas down before you start writing a book?

I don’t follow this approach usually. I plan it in my head and then, after it’s going, I start to write down subplots and themes I wish to develop. In the end though, the books have a surprising talent for writing themselves and surprising even me. I suppose it’s because I write in a meditative state usually and it’s as if it’s not me doing the writing anyway.

What would you say is the “defining” factor in your writing? What makes it yours?

Ah, good question! I think it’s my passion for trying to understand the nature of reality and my practise of magic. You see, I think magic (or if you prefer, metaphysics) has already described the Universe, and science is gradually catching up. What fascinates me is how we create our own reality or our own perspective on reality and how imagination and will can make magic. This provides for a never-ending smorgasbord of ideas, plots, endings and concepts to play with.

How do you guard your time to do what’s most important?

I am a multi-tasker and am always engaged in fifteen things at once. I move my focus from one thing to another and that constant variety keeps me engaged and busy.

What are some of the more common distractions you struggle with, and what ways have you found to overcome them?

There are times when I simply do not want to write. So I don’t.

What kind of review do you take to heart?

Oh, I hate bad reviews and take them ever so personally. It seems to me that there are a few people out there that simply get a kick out of writing deeply negative reviews – like trolls on a discussion board. I can’t help being hurt by deeply negative criticism. On the other hand, we only get better through criticism. It is how that criticism is delivered that makes the difference between something we gain from or something we are hurt by.

How do you decide what your next book will be about?

Well, I decide probably in a moment of massive interest in something or an idea, but then I end up writing something else entirely! For example, on my bio it says I am writing a book about the Fool in magic. It’s a great idea, and I have written a few pages, but I keep finding other things to write about, and I make no progress at all on that idea. I keep it in the bio to remind me that I must/should/will write that book.

Was there a link between your childhood and your vocation as a writer?

Yes – imagination. I had and still do have a very well-developed imagination to the point I can really be where I imagine I am. It is this imagination that runs riot and is the creative seed within me.

As a writer, however, you have the opportunity to self-reflect, to revisit experiences. How does that feel?

Sometimes good but not always….often, the worst of life’s experiences are actually the best – at least for writing.
What motivates you to tackle the issues others may avoid, such as nature and spirituality?
I have been interested in such things since I was knee high to a grasshopper as I wrote in my first book – Inner Journeys. Back when I was 12, I was attending meetings of the church for psychical research and reading Blavatsky… So, I am well-grounded in this stuff and a practising magician to boot. As a result, I guess I see the world a bit differently and want to share the idea that the world looks like you want it to.

When you start a new book, do you know how a book will end as you’re writing it? Or does its direction unfold during the writing, research and/or creative process?

The Last Observer wrote itself, I swear. The ending surprised me and still does.

How do you see your role in impacting and influencing society?

I only hope that I can make people think a bit, wake up and look around and see that not everything is how they were taught. If they do that, then I have already succeeded.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to do?

Writing is so integral to everything I do, and it’s not possible to answer this question.

What are the things a writer “must not” do?

You know, I don’t like rules. Why should a writer not do anything? I do feel sometimes that we are constrained by success, but real art is breaking all the rules and having the product mean something. This is why I love poetry – there are NO rules. I hear some people criticising Indie writers as if the only people who should write are Shakespeare and his ilk; but this is literary snobbishness, isn’t it? Everyone should be able to write if they so choose, and if they break rules of grammar but people love their stuff, then great….

What are some pieces of advice that you would give someone on writing well?

I would never tell someone how to write – I think people should write as they wish, and some will deem it to be good and some bad.

Young writers often make foolish mistakes. What is a mistake to avoid?

Answering a bad review… don’t do it. Ever. I did and I learned.

What obstacles and opportunities do you see for writers in the years ahead?

The whole industry is in flux with eBooks, Amazon and so on. Trying to keep up with how to market what you write, how to make money, how to find an audience, whether to self-publish or not? It’s knowing how things will fall out that could present either an obstacle or opportunity.
Could you talk about one work of creative art that has powerfully impacted you as a person?
Yes – a CD by Blackfield called Blackfield II. The music on that CD inspires me to write, and it feeds my creative juices. Every single poem in Moon Whispers was written listening to that CD. In fact, music often is the work of creative art that sends me….

What relationship do you see between imagination and creativity, and the real world?

Imagination and creativity are intertwined like lovers – one needs the other, and together they make beautiful music.

For a writer, it is easy to become an elitist. Have you ever (or do you still) struggle with pride as an author?

Not really – I do what I do and lots of people do the same so there is nothing special about me. But let’s see how I behave if I ever have a real best seller, shall we?

With all your success, how do you stay humble?

Age. I am that sort of age where nothing much impresses me anymore, least of all myself.

Have you ever considered writing fiction full time?

I would love to… will you get me a contract?

the last observer 1

Explore your imagination with “The Last Observer“…

Princess Fumi Hancock Explains Why It Is Important To Be “Of Sentimental Value”

Princess Fumi Hancock. An award-winning movie-maker. Bestselling author. Screenwriter. Doctor. Talented in a multitude of ways and driven to succeed… But what is her secret? Let’s find out!

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a short tagline:

Of Sentimental Value

“One Event Can Change Your Life Forever!”

2. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Few weeks ago, we received a dove foundation seal for the accompany movie, of Sentimental Value the Movie

fumi pic 2 fumi pic 1

The novel however, I would recommend to 18+ and up. In addition, readers who enjoy mystery and romantic suspense.
Why should they read the book? Wow! Great question. Simply stated: It not only promises to entertain and inform but will absolutely inspire, motive, empower and encourage our readers that no matter what their circumstances, no matter what their culture, tradition, creed, ONE EVENT CAN CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER!… They can make it regardless of what their surroundings may dictate… It reminds them of their self worth, their value, and that they were created for such a time as this … to impact their world regardless of what they may have gone through. Through the lead character SIBERIA TONKA, my readers will be inspired to reach for the stars… never allow any set back to be their set up for failure but a stepping stone to their success.

3. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

As someone who have endured abuse, a failed marriage and watched people around me succumb to major depression and suicide ideation and even found myself contemplating that at some point in my life several years ago after a failed marriage at a very young age; I began picking up the shattered pieces of my life with my then 3½ and 1 ½ year old sons as hard as it was. In those dark moments, I began asking hard questions why I survived! I looked around and heard stories of those who could not handle life and gave in to their sorrows. After fessing up to my parents, they reminded me of my worth… of the values they had instilled in me growing up as an Africa Princess in Africa… they showed me through unconditional love and acceptance that I was valuable and that no human being had a right to make me insignificant. As I healed, I then started wondering what if those who had taken their lives had people who would remind them of who they were? What if they did not allow themselves to be stripped of their value? Bam! I REMEMBER LOOKING IN THE MIRROR, SAYING TO MYSELF “YOU ARE OF SENTIMENTAL VALUE”. That phrase took me through some rough patches and behind my secret mantra. Hence, the title of the book and a screenplay which was originally written before 2000! Little did I know the impact it will have and its relevance now in 2014 when it has now been made into a feature film. I am so happy to announce that the movie and myself have won some awards:= such as the African heritage Leadership Awards and the following:

fumi pic 4 fumi pic 3

fumi pic 5

4. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

fumi pic 7 fumi pic 6

Readers who are familiar with my work know by now that I love things unique… I have a thing for “eyes” and intense images that draw readers into the story without even racking the book open yet. I believe my books have followed this trend and will continue to do so. What better way to continue this tradition by finding an award winning cover artist who indulges all of my fantasies. She is no other than the owner of http://phatpuppyart.com/ She continues to do an incredible job at interpreting my “head fantasies” and brig them to live as she has done for several Award winning authors.

5. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

I know many may expect me to shout out the female lead character, Siberia Tonka. Since the release of the book and the two screenings we have had with the movie, I believe I have a change of mind… Argh! “JESSICA” the nosy Hispanic neighbour has really grown on me. While it was my original intent to have her bring comic relief to the story, I didn’t realize how funny she was until we were at the private screening in Los Angeles, CA and I began hearing people laugh out loud with everything Jessica did. She is one of those characters you hate to have close to you, yet need in your life to bring a clearer perspective to hardships around us. Jessica’s character was not only a friend even when Siberia was not lovable, but we are able to see some flaws others may have around us and her dynamics with Siberia shows us the importance of friendship, especially when chaos is running rampage in our lives. Though crazy with few crazy “thinking”, she is also inspirational and a welcome friend to Siberia. More importantly, she says things most people will dread saying out loud ad does not apologize for them. I won’t spoil it for you… will have you read the book instead. Better yet, the trailer can give you some clues into who Jessica is: http://www.ofsentimentalvaluemovie.com / http://www.ofsentimentalvaluenovel.com

6. How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

“Jessica”~ Awgh! The attributes which make her funny are the same ones, which make her sometimes less appealing. She is a nosy neighbour who thinks because she lives next to you, she has a say in everything you do! While that attitude may be cute most times, there are certainly times, which it is not welcomed. Such is the case at the mailbox when she jumps Siberia to butt into her business. Find out what happened there… clues can be found on the trailer.

7. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

Writers are often known to beat down on themselves and are known to be hard on themselves where their writing is concerned. With every writing, I do my very best to portray what my message is as clearly as possible. I may not always get it right at all times but I try. Having said that and knowing that my personality is that of a “type A”, if given a chance could stay on just one line for hours attempting to fix it; I promised myself I will never go back rethinking things. Rather, I will always resolve in my heart that with each novel, I have given my very best. I understand that not everyone will like what I have written and not every novel will catch fire or readers’ interest right away. Nevertheless, I must move forward and be even better with the next novel. It is certainly my hope that Of Sentimental Value will catch fire alongside the movie! It is indeed my labor of love to my readers. And I can’t wait to hear what you all have to say about it.

8. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

Fun fact eih? Making the novel into a movie and being on my very first set was the most fun part of it all. If I knew what I know now, I would have had a hidden camera rolling throughout the whole days of shoot. It will have certainly been the most rated and highly viewed reality show that ever hit the airwaves. Can you imagine waking up to a call one day and it was your producer on the other end, telling you that one of the crew-members high jacked the main camera for shoot! Her reason, she suddenly did not like the director and wanted another director! Today, the whole experience seemed funny but back there it was certainly not and was incredibly unbelievable!
9. What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
Here is what I discovered on amazon.com; people who purchases and/or viewed my book also viewed the following: Dark Child (The Awakening) by Adina West, Bad Blood (A Vampire Thriller) by J.R. Rain, the Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan. What they may have in common you asked? Well, in Of Sentimental Value, there is a mystery woman who ricks havoc into the lives of people. This character brings the air of mystery and suspense into the book. The mentioned books range from mystery to thriller.

10. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I design most of my clothes and purses I carry to my outings. This is something I hope to one day expand one as I continue to meet with people who want to have some of my collections. I call them the Sassy Jewel Collection. Here is my look-book for your eyes only:

 

fumi pic 8
Her Majesty’s Collection

fumi pic 10 fumi pic 9

The Splice of Life Collection

Can’t a gal dream?

11. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Easy…

http://www.ofsentimentalvaluenovel.com

http://www.ofsentimentalvaluemovie.com

You can also check me out on my TV Talk Show, the Princess in Suburbia Lifestyle
http://www.princessinsuburbia.com which is rapidly garnering more viewings. We are currently at over 2.4 million and growing!

My Official Website: http://www.worldoffumihancock.com

12. What can we expect from you in the future?

My brain is just now settling down as we are in the phase of distribution for the movie. An corky idea is brewing in my head right now for another novel and a movie…more romantic suspense with a splice of comedy. Get ready… This will happen in an exotic place… you all know how I love my exotic places like Africa. But before I get into that, I will be releasing the sequel to the bestselling Young Adult Fantasy, The Adventures of Jewel Cardwell. I can’t wait.. It’s been long coming! The Sorcerer’s Purgatory is next in line.

13. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Spread the word… and the message: “I Am… Of Sentimental Value! One Event Can Change Your Life Forever!” Share the trailer… purchase the e-book as well as the softcopies… Encourage others to do the same. Start book-clubs / private “girlfriend empowering” parties on its behalf both virtual and on-ground. Oh, yes tag and like it on amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/Fumi-Hancock/e/B009BHBI6S/

Trailer: http://youtu.be/6Nfpf3S_aGE

Like Us on Our Social Media:
http://www.twitter.com/fumihancock
http://www.facebook.com/ofsentimentalvalue
http://www.facebook.com/fumihancockgrimmlyn

Tools they can use to make it go viral:

Enjoy the reviews and events surrounding the official book launch and movie private screening:

Beverly Hills, CA and Nashville, TN – You can share these links with friends and family.

fumi pic 11Hollywood Meets Royalty in Nashville TN

fumi pic 12

Few of the cast and family members at the event

 

Sold Out Events:

Beverly Hills, CA: http://youtu.be/D4HlAjuwJEE

Nashville, TN: http://youtu.be/s0LlaKZyI7Y

Video Reviews:

THANK YOU….

14. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Simply stated! Write! Write! Write! And keep writing! Be disciplined! Be focused and never give up. The teacher will appear when the student is ready. Other steps will come into clarity as you first step –out.

15. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

It’s been a pleasure finally getting to do what I love…writing. This has been a journey of over 30 years. Years of discouragement with many times dropping my pen and promising I would never write again… years of few telling me it is a rat race and I would never be discovered! So after years of pity party, I got up and told myself the only think I would loose is just the piece of paper and the ink I needed. If I didn’t make money off if my writing, I knew I would still be writing. Now, I not only get to write novels but also screenplays, which are being made into movies! Persistence, resilience, focus, determination and dedication….all tools of the trade. I thank all of my readers, bloggers, reviewers who continue to help push my book into a bestseller category. I know with your help, we can make the message of hope restored embedded in this story reach the universe. Just like one of my reviewers said, everyone needs this message… That you are Of Sentimental Value… This novel is a reminder and my characters are the messengers. More importantly, I want to let my readers know that whenever they pick up any of my books or items from my store, they are helping save a life in Africa through my US based 501©3 non profit organization: http://www.adassafoundation.org Join me in providing quality education and healthcare to women and children in developing countries.

16. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

Excerpt:

“Come, come Si-be-ria. Yes, that’s right, come to me now!”
Her resounding evil laughter increases with the anticipation of doom lurking in the murky night. Suddenly, her phantomlike image is swallowed by the dusk. Just when I am about to breathe a sigh of relief, Yemoji’s face reappears! Only this time, her limpid brown eyes begin to blink rapidly; morphing into a grayish set of eyes in distress, with the different, yet familiar, face of Naiya, you know her by now… that’s right, my older sister! How could this be, thinking out loud? But then again, stranger things have been known to happen in my village. Before I could figure out if it was really my sister’s face, the alarming tick-tock sound began yet again, the disconcerting image of Naiya abruptly disappearing. I am now left in the pitch black!

Pick up your copy now and let’s make this a movement:

fumi pic 7

 

fumi pic 13
Princess (Dr.) Fumi S. Hancock
Bestselling Author, African Oscar & Indiefest Award Winning Filmmaker, Transformation Interventionist & a Philanthropist providing quality education & healthcare in developing countries (Africa).

“Security Through Absurdity” Revealed By Author Rachael L. McIntosh

This interview is the third of a three part blog tour with Rachael L. McIntosh. Her new book, “Security Through Absurdity,” is currently available on Amazon, and there’s no book more worthy of your Kindle. Read this interview and then try out the book… You will be not be able to put it down.

Rachael, let me ask you this. How do you conceive your plot ideas?

I’ve lived through a lot of the stuff I write about. And I don’t understand a lot of the things that I’ve lived through. I guess I just make stuff up to try and understand some of the world around me. See BOOK ONE: LITTLE YELLOW STICKIES for a taste of what I lived through during the lead up to the Iraq War and 9/11.

Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?

No. I’ve never tried to write before. This SECURITY THROUGH ABSURDITY trilogy just came pouring out of me. When I submitted it to the publishers, they told me that I’d have to do three things. #1. Break it down into a trilogy because I had submitted the equivalent of 4.8 novels. # 2. Use a pen name. #3 Take out a life insurance policy. I have done everything but use a pen name. My family and friends have heard my accounts of these things in real life from me so I thought, “What’s the point? It’s listed as FICTION anyway.”

How long did it take you to publish your first book after you started trying?

About two years from sitting down at the keyboard to seeing the first book in the series for sale on Amazon.

What do you think makes your book “Security Through Absurdity” unique, and how does it fit into the everyday lives of readers?

The fact that the publishers and I couldn’t come up with what genre this book falls into other than FICTION should tip people off that it defies classification and is unique. Corporate Crime or even Political Thriller would sort of work, but it doesn’t really fit in with the pre-scripted story line of these genres. It’s really a fictionalized whistleblower thing. But the characters don’t know they are whistleblowing, and it lacks the typically outraged, angry tone. It’s up to the reader to grab onto some of the info being presented, so it doesn’t even fit that whistleblower genre, either. It’s just FICTION. James Perloff, author of non-fiction Shadows of Power, has said that it’s “Working Girl meets The Net, but the issues are too real world to ignore.”

I guess that’s how it fits into the everyday life of the reader because it is so real life. It is the story of an everyday life where truth is stranger than fiction, and the character just adapts. This adaptation contributes to her foibles. It makes the reader say, “Gee I wouldn’t do that…would I?”

How have your personal experiences affected your writing?

Deaths and near misses. Working for a corporation that was diametrically opposed to my nature. Illness. Falling in love. Having children. War. And, of course, money. Add that to my involvement in national politics, well, all of these things impacted my perception of the world and caused me to focus on things that I probably would not have bothered with years ago.

What should readers know about the world of politics? What really goes on?

The way I came into it was via a lot of feel good rally-like stuff. But then slowly I got acclimatized to the fact that there were rules you had to learn, or at least be aware of, like Roberts Rules of Order. Tedious tasks had to be performed like collecting signatures and keeping track of government deadlines and paperwork and accounting, and therefore, minions were needed. It soon became a lot like a “real” job. With the same kind of “office politics” vibe but more political (imagine that!). That back door deals are made and that people who you thought were on your same team are not. And it becomes apparent that a lot of people enjoy politics for the power trip and confrontation aspect (think: Debate Team captain from a private school). There is a lot of “I’m more important than you” and hierarchy; and it’s just silly, especially when you discover that both teams are ultimately working for the same interests. That despite the gift wrapping of a political slogan being bantered like a battle cry, it all comes down to money, and the ultimate monied interests don’t worry about what colors the teams are waving around. They really don’t. They control both teams anyway. An individual voting has very little consequence on what will ultimately happen. I now look at voting as voluntarily participating in a market research study.

What are the major themes of your work?

Top Major Themes
#1 Human foibles
#2 Miscommunication
#3 Hope as misdirection
#4 Don’t hate the player, hate the game

Security Through Absurdity” has connections with 9/11. Can you explain what that connection is?

Chapters 12, 13, and 14 relay via my fiction pretty much exactly what was going on inside the office I worked at on 9/11. I have taken these chapters and published them as a tiny booklet called 28 Pages, making reference to the 28 pages George W. Bush withheld from the”Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”

I hope people will read these three chapters from Security Through Absurdity, think about them, and feel free to pass the information on to someone else. 28 pages will be FREE on Amazon starting on 9/11/14.

Do you truly believe 9/11 changed America, and how did it change America?

Yes. USA PATRIOT ACT, the core of which was written by now Vice President Joe Biden, was crafted well before 9/11, right before the Oklahoma City bombing took place and was supported by the Reagan and Bush Administrations.

USA PATRIOT ACT got passed with the quickness after 9/11 and blew America and its civil liberties, as everyone had understood them, out of the water.

Then the Department of Homeland Security was created and that opened the door for the full-on militarization of the police, the TSA and their body checks at airports and bomb sniffing dogs on trains, “If you see something, say something” campaigns lifted right out of Orwell and history, and of course the NSA and their eavesdropping and obsessive data collection on citizens. It’s been over a decade now, and the population seems to have reached a point where people think this is normal. It’s not.
When you think of America pre-9/11, what comes to mind?
My dad flying really close to the World Trade Center with me and my sister in his Beechcraft Bonanza. Going to the airport to see the jets and other cool planes. You could just walk right up to the planes on the tarmac without much trouble. That was back when people sort of trusted other people. They really didn’t talk about politics or religion in polite company and CNN was really a new thing. Bombing and hijacking occurred someplace else and would never happen here. Everyone felt safe and, as a nation, fairly well off.

And post-9/11?

Well obviously the scene at the airport has changed. The scene in general has changed to include a hypersensitivity to danger. Yet currently, people seem to feed themselves with inputs of fear on a regular basis via video feeds from all over the world. I mean, I have a friend who walks in the city with a Geiger counter on him. People feel very OK with cameras on them at all times and of course people talk politics and religion like it’s going out of style now. People are obviously scared as is evidenced in newly developed and articulated prejudices. This, to me, is one of the saddest of developments of our post 9/11 America.

What will the next instalment of “Security Through Absurdity” be about? How will the story progress?

Book Two: Bubbles Will Pop is where everything bad happens to the character. It starts off with this quote:

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.
Cynthia Occelli

And that quote lets you know that there is a transformation occurring in the main character. Even though some of those bad thing are absolutely based in my real life experience, this is where the story gets even more fictionalized, especially with the character of Ethan. He’s out of his mind. This is all in preparation for the dramatic conclusion of Book Three: The Big Show, which is also based squarely on a lot of reality in the political arena.

rachael-mcintosh-cover

The Truth is Out There… Get Your Copy Today

Hardboiled Author Don Massenzio Brings Writing to Life

Pull up a chair and meet hard-boiled fiction writer Don Massenzio. Don writes hard-line, wisecracking fiction with a large dose of class. Read the interview and don’t you dare miss the books… The Don Massenzio collection is available here.

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a short tagline:
Frankly Speaking – A Frank Rozzani Detective Novel – an enthralling detective mystery set in modern day Florida that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
2. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Readers of all ages will enjoy this, but it is targeted at those that love mysteries with twists and turns.
3. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
The title is a play on the main character’s first name.
4. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
I use a graphic design acquaintance to design my covers. I think it conveys a bit about the story and the mystery aspect.
5. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Jonesy. He is a wise ass. So am I.
6. How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Cobb. He thinks that power and wealth overrule basic rights.
7. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
I would make it a bit longer, but other than that, I don’t think it’s healthy to think about changing existing work. It’s better to strive to make the next one better.
8. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
It was inspired by the old 70’s television show, The Rockford Files.
9. What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series is similar in that he uses dialog and descriptive narrative more than action, gore, and sex.
10. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
I am a musician as well as a writer.
11. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Through my web site: www.donmassenzio.com or by email don@donmassenzio.com
12. What can we expect from you in the future?
The sequel to Frankly Speaking is due out in October. Also, look for a compilation of short stories and a crime/mystery/thriller anthology.
13. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Reviews are extremely helpful. Also, feedback via my web site or email help as well.
14. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
Write, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, publish. If you don’t start, you’ll never achieve it.
15. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you for let me telling you about my work.
16. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

It was dark and the stench was terrible. The rocking was constant. The bathroom was a plastic bucket. The food was a bowl of slop with gritty water to drink. It was quite a contrast from just two days ago. She thought that was hell. Being tied to a bed and locked in a room was heaven compared to this. There was no bed. She shared the wooden floor with four other girls that had been here longer then her. All of their will to live seemed to be gone. They just existed and had given up hope. She had not given up yet, but hope was beginning to fade as she wondered how she had ended up here. Just a week ago, she was the happiest girl alive. She was in love. God had given her the gift of a new life which she had carried inside of her. She had all of this with Troy, who at 19 was wise beyond his years. He was kind, caring, and the father of her child. Now, just a week later, all of that was gone.
She agonized as she relived her ordeal. She knew surprisingly little about her captors or about her location. She went back to her last memory of freedom. She was at the retreat. Pastor Rick had been so inspiring that day. He had spoken about trust; trusting yourself, trusting your family, and trusting God. His talks inspired her and Troy to trust Pastor Rick and confide in him about their situation. They trusted him and wanted his guidance. They told him of their plans to talk to her parents and Troy’s dad. Pastor Rick was supportive, but also concerned about their ages. She had known she was pregnant for a week after receiving a positive result on a test. As they left Pastor Rick, she and Troy decided to speak to Maggie’s parents as soon as the retreat was over on Saturday morning. She was, at most, two months pregnant. It was early, but she did not want to hide this from her parents. She knew they would be supportive. Her talk with her sister, Missy, had confirmed this for her. Missy said that her biggest mistake as a rebellious teen was not telling her parents when she first had a problem she needed help with. This only made it worse later when she could no longer hide the problem from them. So Maggie returned to her dorm room at Christianity Today that Tuesday night feeling as if the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders. Then, her world changed.

 

don

You can pre-order your copy here

Just Like Jesse James: Rick Jantz Unveils Colson’s Law

jesse james

You will need to know the rules of gunfighting if you are going to keep up with Western Author Rick Jantz. Rick has just released his first western novel entitled “Colson’s Law,” and it’s a winner. Those of you who’ve already read it will know that already. Those who haven’t will soon learn. This interview with Rick Jantz is the equivalent of the writer’s gunfight. Quickfire questions with quickfire answers. Only one of us will be standing by the end of this interview, and I’m pretty sure it will be Rick.

Q) What makes a great cover, Rick?

The cover should be a snapshot in time of a situation the main protagonist(s) is in and should make a statement of what the book is about. Alternatively, if the book is in a strange land or another planet, having a book cover that shows the location would help the reader see where the story is taking place.

Q) What inspires you?

Pictures or scenery that have vivid or unusual colors or are of a remote and desolate place. And people whose faces tell a story are also inspiring and I could gaze at them forever, wondering what their life was like and what brought them to this moment. Finally, interesting phrases or things said in a different way make me think “that could be a story” and likely a title for one.

Q) How do you find “inspiration,” and where does it live?

Inspiration can come when you are or are not looking for it. For example, if I want to start a new book, I typically start with an idea that came when working on one of my other projects. I jot these down so when it’s time I can review all of them and decide which one holds some promise of an engaging tale. If I need to come up with a new idea, I typically start jotting or typing down what it is I want to write about or what setting I would like to write about. As I’m brainstorming, an idea begins to raise its hand and demand that I pay attention and flesh it out some more.

Sometimes inspiration comes when you are not looking. It may come from something unusual someone said or did, from “mundane” happenings in my day that make you say, “Yeah, but what if,” or from something unique that happens during the day. For instance, I was once in a parking lot and saw a toy truck left abandoned in the middle of a parking stall. I immediately thought of the little boy who lost it and wondered how special that truck was to him. A short story was written later that day.

Q) When did you first consider yourself to be a writer?

When still acting and directing stage plays, I was encouraged to write one of my own. I did and was surprised with how quickly it came to me and how thrilling it was when performed. At that point I knew I wanted to continue to write, whether for the stage or a book.

Q) How does a cover present itself? Where do those ideas come from?

As I’m writing the book, I always have a vision of the main character; what they look like, how they’re dressed, how they carry themselves, and what they choose to reveal to others in extreme circumstances. By the time I’m done writing I have an image in my mind of what the cover should look like.

Q) How many times have you started a story without finishing?

Actually, quite often. And that’s because I either realize the story is not developing naturally or because another idea has shown itself through the first story, and it is this other idea that is the story that needs to be written.

Q) What is the greatest writing aide a writer can have?

A dictionary/thesaurus. These two tools will ensure that our words are accurate and give us opportunity to try out different variations of other words.

Q) Who is the most inspiring individual you’ve ever met?

I once attended a workshop that was presented by the screenwriter and author, Syd Field. I found his presentation genuine, and he really broke down the components of a story. I have many of his books and have incorporated his practices into my own writing. For instance, and my favorite, is when he talks about “Plot Points” and how they’re used to “hook the action and spin it around into a different direction.” There are typically two of these in a story. In the case of Colson’s Law, this occurs near the beginning when Rad Colson decides to escort a young heiress west and help her lay claim to her inheritance. The second Plot Point occurs when Rad decides to “strap on his guns” and use his law to triumph over the lawless.

Q) How did you find your writing style?

Primarily through trial and error. It was through writing stage plays, poems, and even short stories that my writing style began to emerge. And I found that I was writing in a “man of the street” kind of voice; meaning, that I was writing to the average reader but in the vernacular of the characters needed for the book.

Q) Define success and how it will change your life.

Success is writing books that stay true to the vision I have of them. From there, success flows from becoming published, including online, and seeing satisfactory sales of my book. That means people see their value and like them. Any monetary gains means that I’m that much closer to working from home and writing more books, possibly even moving into screenplays. Success would provide the freedom to write those stories that I want to tell and will allow me to set my own schedule to do so.

Q) What is a “writer’s” heaven?

Home (or on the beach) writing, editing, and marketing my written works. And then sharing with other writers the insights and knowledge I’ve gained.

Q) What are the things a writer “must not” do?

Preach their views at the world. While it’s fine to include your philosophies or way of thinking, it’s important that writers don’t use their medium to unquestioningly tell people what to believe. Writers can persuade or argue a point, but it needs to be done within the context of the story and by the characters the writer has included.

Writers should not spin their stories out without asking for and valuing any feedback or criticisms they may receive. It may be that the writer is satisfied and thinks of their first draft as a “work of art not to be changed,” but will readers think the same, let alone publishers?

Writers cannot ignore their target audience either. Don’t write a Western if the book takes place in the East or on another continent. Your readers have an expectation that the setting will be in the North American west and that it will involve cowboys and/or gunfighters. Writers need to meet their reader’s expectations of the genre.

Q) Can you tell me what your new book is about in ten words?

A gunfighter defends a young heiress according to his law.

Q) How often have you read another writers book and said “I can do better than that” to yourself?

I don’t believe I have said I could do better than that, but I have said I could write as equally well. I don’t typically finish books that I find are not well written.

Q) Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Start by writing what you know about, whether it’s the genre or subject matter. It is this knowledge that will keep you going through all the hours of working in isolation and then all of the revisions that your book may endure. If you don’t know about it and want to write in that genre or subject matter, then do your research, including if you’re writing about a land or planet that no one has heard about before. There still needs to be some substance in your back story.

Q) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

I try to write in the early to late evening as that is the best time that works in our home, plus I work full-time. If I have a significant amount of writing I need to get done, then I do it on the weekend but prep for it all week by doing research, working on the outline, or simply reviewing what I have in place already.

I use rewards for myself to keep going. For instance, I may hold off watching a movie, reading a book, or even going shopping until I have done x,y,z with my book.

Q) Do you write every day?

Unfortunately, I cannot write every day given our home life and my schedule. But I do try to write or work on my book at the same time on the days that I can. Routine is very important for writers because that helps the creative mind to focus on the task at hand.

Q) How do you begin a novel?

I spend a lot of time on the first sentence. I want it to immediately convey something about the story or the main character. For instance, Colson’s Law starts out with, “Time stood still…but not the gun clearing its holster.” Something bad is about to happen and the idea is to hook the reader immediately into the story to find out what and to whom. I then move into the premise of the story, giving the reader a good idea about the story and the main character but, primarily, showing the reader that this book is worth their time to read.

Q) Do you go through a lot of drafts?

I do at least one complete edit, but I also edit and re-write as I go. And, even though I have a chapter outline, sometimes the book takes a different direction or a new character must be introduced to move the story forward. Then I stop all writing and go back and re-write what I have to so that the flow of the story makes sense and the re-write has been properly built into the plot.

Q) To what extent is your fiction autobiographical?

My book is not autobiographical per se, but I always envision myself as the conquering hero if it was me placed in those circumstances. The characters may exhibit some of my habits or morals if that is what is needed for the story.

Q) Do you consider writing to be a form of activism? Do you think novelists have a duty to address political issues?

Writing can be a form of activism; for example, to one way of thinking or living over another. But I believe that this is only appropriate if it is within the context of the story. Second, novelists do not have a duty to address political issues because those issues and the storyline may very well be unrelated. For instance, the political issues in the time that Colson’s Law takes place are different than those of today. However, what is common is the greed and power-hungry demands of the antagonists. So human need, motivation, and sense of entitlement might be similar in real life and a novel. If so, the author should endeavor to show how their characters faced and possibly resolved those conflicts.

Q) Who are your favorite authors?

Being a Western writer, I like the novels by Louis L’Amour, Max Brand, and Zane Grey. I also like adventure and spy novels by authors such as Clive Cussler and Robert Ludlum.

Q) I’m a school teacher. What can you offer to help me prepare 4th graders to appreciate writing, now and for the rest of their lives?

How to tap into their imagination or their inner muse and that all stories are valuable because we each have our own perception of things. Teachers should allow their students, including at the grade 4 level, to use their imagination by writing or telling stories. And I wouldn’t want to see them graded on their creativity, either. I still remember my fourth grade teacher reading to us the book Big Red. It was a great story, and he read it a chapter at a time, making us want to hear the next chapter the next day. We were allowed to envision the scene, talk about the plot, and share what we liked and didn’t like. The discussion was invaluable.

Q) When it comes to fiction dialogue, do any grammatical rules apply?

Grammatical correctness should still apply, except for when you intentionally change it. For example, in the old Western days, people spoke a certain way; this is attributable to both culture and education. So my book was written in the dialect of the characters as I imagine they would have spoken. That being said, I found I still needed to do some revision because after a while the dialogue written to the extreme that I had written it was becoming cumbersome and distracting. It was taking away from the story, and so I minimized how often the characters spoke this way and only allowed a select few to keep the abbreviated, western-slang dialect.

Keep Firing Bullets With Rick in his Brand New Western Release…

colsons law

Class act: An Interview With Jana Petken

Jana Petken is a talented, serious writer who currently resides in Spain. She chose a hard genre when she became a writer and it’s only fair that we give her a great interview. What makes her stand above other writers? That’s an easy one to answer– she writes as though she is watching a movie– her words are moving pictures. I think you will love her interview and her book…

The Guardian of Secrets is serious historical fiction…

A historical family saga spanning four generations, from 1912, Kent, England, to Spain and its 1936–39 civil war. Celia and Ernesto’s two sons march under opposing banners, whilst their daughters take different paths, one to the Catholic Church and the other to the battlefields, and in the shadow of war, an evil ghost from the past watches and waits for an opportunity to destroy the entire family. In exile, Celia and Ernesto can only wait and pray for their children and their safe return home..

How did you get interested in writing this particular genre and what does a would-be writer in your category need to know?

History has always held my interest. I love the subject and the wonderful opportunities that history can bring to the imagination. This is not a genre that I chose; I believe it chose me. To be able to read about kings, queens, wars, politicians, villains and heroes throughout history, is a wonderful experience.

I can only give this advice to, would be, historical writers: When you tell a story, make your backdrop real. Take the time to investigate and research the facts surrounding your characters, such as locations, names, dates or events.

What kind of research did you do and where do you begin your research?

The research for, The Guardian of Secrets, was a long, painstaking job. I had no internet and spent my time in libraries, buying reference books, watching documentaries, visiting battle sites in Spain, studying the lives of nuns, interviewing Civil War survivors, and a couple of soldiers from opposing sides – I said painstaking but it was a wonderful experience.
I still prefer researching the old fashioned way, rather than using Google or Wikipedia. They are both great tools but they don’t bring me the same sense of “Learning” as reference books.

What’s a typical writing day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?

I walk my dog. I write early in the morning, I drink a lot of tea, I never set myself goals and I have been known to fall asleep in front of the computer in mid sentence. I work for as long as I am still able to focus. When my mind goes blank and the words start jumping, I go out and clear my mind with a coffee and a chat with friends.

What is the hardest part of writing and how do you get past the difficulties involved?

The hardest part for me is probably starting a new project. The first page, the first sentence, and the first chapter can be challenging, especially for me, because I don’t outline the story –I tend to hope and pray that inspiration will guide me through unknown territory and lead me to my destination.

What’s the best thing about being an author?

The best thing about being an author, for me, is that I meet such interesting people throughout history, even though they never actually existed but instead, grew from my own mind. I love the way writing can bring an idea to life; a person that is loved or hated with a passion. I love to hear my readers tell me how much they cried or laughed. I love to be able to shock and get away with it – fingers crossed!

What’s the worst thing about being an author and does the good outweigh the bad?

Writing can consume you. It can make everything else fade into insignificance. Housework, shopping for groceries, and socialising can fall by the wayside. Then there are the sleepless nights, thinking about what a character is going to do next, and of course, daily attempts to stand out somehow, somewhere, in order to advance in this profession.

Being an author, especially a debut author, is an uphill struggle and can be frustrating at times. But the passion and joy of creating words far outweighs any negative aspects.

Do writers get better with practice? Or is writing just a talent you have from day one?

I believe that both apply. Writing is a talent, a passion, and a creative gift – Having said that, I also believe that the learning process is perpetually on- going. Writing demands hard work, time, and effort. Today, anyone can publish a finished manuscript. It is open season for writers. I ask myself: What defines a good writer? The book industry may say that it is an author with a traditional publishing deal. I disagree. A good writer is someone who has written a good, readable, and enjoyable novel.

How important is grammar to the writer? Should content come first or perfect grammar?

Content should come first. The mind should be free to write – But grammar is very important and I, personally, would never submit a book without first employing a reputable editor to make sure that nuances like grammar, punctuation, and format are of the highest standard possible.

Did you spend much time refreshing your knowledge of grammar and writing rules?

No, and this is probably why it took me so long to write, The Guardian of Secrets. I learned the hard way. I was a novice and ignorant, if truth be told. I believe that after the fourth or fifth draft, I saw the error of my ways, and corrected them. But, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe we ever stop learning.

Should writers worry about bad reviews? Are reviews really that important?

I can’t speak for anyone else. Some writers are more sensitive than others. Bad reviews can be upsetting. It feels as though someone is insulting your child. There are also people who enjoy making mischief and will give bad ratings and reviews without having read a book – Please allow me to tell you a personal story about this issue, one day.

Reviews are very important, especially honest ones. They are a gift, much appreciated, and necessary for any writer; established or relatively unknown.

Is a great story or a great cover more important?

The cover should catch the reader’s eye. Covers are valuable assets but the story is the most important element- a cover can always be changed.

Do you believe there is any “one” set genre or can books be in multiple genres?

Writers can write in various genres. Some writers are defined by their, genre, whilst others are more open to change. It depends how comfortable the writer feels and how interested he or she is in a particular genre.
At this moment in time, I’m enjoying writing, historical fiction. I have so many ideas for new stories, still trapped in my imagination waiting to get out, so I don’t see me switching genres in the foreseeable future – although I am writing a story, set in the future, which I dabble with every now and again, just for fun.

Are intelligent reads better reads?

I think that all depends on what the reader is looking for. There are so many different genres now. I can’t keep up. I like a book that entertains me but it also has to teach me something.

How do you write dialogue? Do you act it out as you write it? Is it based on the way you would say something?

Laughs – As a child, I dreamed of being an actress. I have achieved this ambition through writing. I feel sorry for my neighbours I really do because when I go into character, I really go for it. I think that if you say something and it doesn’t sound believable to your ears, it’s not going to be believable on paper. Take, Joseph Dobbs from, The Guardian of Secrets? He is the most despicable man, in every way, yet he’s my favourite character in the book – what can I say, I loved playing him. Does that make me a bad person?

Are your characters ever based on you?

No, not yet.

How do you know if something is right for your book? Do you rewrite until you get the perfect mix?

Sometimes a chapter just falls into place. Other times it looks clumsy and unrealistic, so yes, I usually take it down to the bones and rewrite. If it still looks bad I scrub it altogether because it means it’s not meant to be there. Other authors may disagree but that’s how I feel about it.

How does it feel to hold a finished manuscript in your hand?

It feels as though you have just created a story, which hopefully will have an impact on a person’s life, in some way or another. It’s a wonderful but scary moment; like setting a bird free and hoping it will survive and flourish in that big Amazon jungle.