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Author Interview: Frederick Lee Brooke

Here’s the second stop of me being a little lazy by reposting an interview someone else did with indie author Frederick Lee Brook, while I catch up on Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m also finishing up reading this book, so plan on doing my own review of it at the end of the week. In the meantime, enjoy this description of his inspiration and process (and I remember when Tiger was attacked by his wife, too!). I’m also posting the Raffelcopter at the very end to help give you the possibility of winning prizes including $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

😉

1. What was the inspiration behind your novel, Zombie Candy?

There was a famous golfer whose wife chased him out of the house with a golf club in the middle of the night a couple of years ago. It was funny that she attacked her husband with his own weapon of choice. I got to thinking what must be going through a woman’s mind in that situation? I thought it would be interesting to explore the thought processes of a woman who discovers that her husband is a serial cheater. After the denial comes anger, but there is also a phase of grief. There’s guilt. Maybe she blames herself, rightly or wrongly. Candace oscillates between wanting revenge and wanting her husband back, and as the novel winds up she makes discoveries about herself that I thought a woman in her situation would be likely to make.

2. Do you think Zombie Candy will appeal to true zombie fans?

What’s a true zombie fan? I don’t want to give anything away, but any active zombie fan who participates in zombie walks, goes to festivals, etc. will love Zombie Candy. That being said, this is a book that has elements of mystery, horror and romance all in one. It had quite a few early readers, fans of all different genres, and the consensus is that it really works.

3. The book contains some of Candace’s favorite recipes. Why?

I confess, I love to cook, and it’s such an important part of my life, it just felt natural to have Candace want to share her recipes. We are all vulnerable to being attacked through our taste buds. I like reading about cooking, and I love watching cooking shows on TV. I feel like I’m learning something and tasting it at the same time. It felt right for this to be really important for Candace. At the same time, her husband Larry is so incredibly lacking in appreciation of her talents, not just the cooking itself, but organizing complex meals and directing the preparation of them by her class of twelve people. These are amazing skills, and Larry is blind to them. I thought marriages are sometimes like that, where people get to a point where they are totally ignorant of what their partner is great at.

4. There is a no-cilantro label on the back cover of the book. What is the significance of it?

Candace is a gourmet cook, and her cheating husband Larry insists on covering all his food with cilantro. This is one of those minor points of contention in a marriage that flares up and becomes important, like a trigger. I thought it was funny. And it seems a lot of people really do have strong feelings about cilantro, either for or against. When I was searching for a good graphic I came across pages on the internet like ihatecilantro.com and facebook.com/i-hate-cilantro.

5. After starting out in Chicago, why did you decide to set the story in Tuscany?

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Italy forty or fifty times in my life, sometimes for a two-week vacation, sometimes just for a very short trip. I absolutely love it there, from the food to the language to the beauty of the countryside and the architecture. In Zombie Candy, Candace realizes at a certain point that she has to get Larry out of his comfort zone. This is a guy who travelled all over the country every week for his work, and cheated on Candace with waitresses, flight attendants, whoever. He can adapt just about anywhere. But in Tuscany Larry discovers two things: 1) it’s not so easy to find a willing waitress or flight attendant to spend the night with him; and 2) there are zombies here.

6. How would you describe the way you work as a writer?

I guess I’m a bit of a chameleon, able to adapt pretty well to circumstances around me. My wife and I have three boys and they are not quiet. I can do most revision with significant background noise and interruptions. Only when I’m writing a first draft or doing some serious planning work do I need peace and quiet. Then I’ll often take a walk in the forest anyway. It helps a lot to be adaptable. If I had to put off writing every time someone asked me to cook dinner or help them with their homework, my book would never have been finished. For me, being able to jump right back in has been the key to being able to finish big projects.

7. Did you always want to be a writer?

I was an early reader and this led to curiosity about writing stories. My sister and I wrote stories during long car trips. In high school and then in college I dreamed of writing novels, but I only started writing short stories after graduating from college. That writing phase lasted about five years, and I learned a lot about writing, but life got in the way, with marriage and job and career and kids. Only when my kids were halfway grown and my career reached a certain level of success did I find a way to return to writing. Now I’m fulfilling a lifelong dream.

8. What process do you go through to define your characters?

I start with an image of them as basically good or basically evil, and put them into a context or a situation, and then just basically make sure there is plenty of conflict. My characters are never perfectly white or black. I think we’re drawn to weaknesses. We want to watch them mess up, and see how they’ll extricate themselves. Of course, sometimes all my planning goes out the window. It’s a cliche to say that characters surprise you with their actions, but they do. They’re defined by what they do and what they say. I did some acting in high school and have always loved the theater, and knowing what it means to be in character helps me be in character when I’m writing dialogue. My books are fairly dialogue-driven. What the characters say reveals what they are thinking and feeling.

9. What writing advice did you receive that was most beneficial to you?

I had to learn to love conflict. The conflict is the story. The conflict shows the true colors of your characters. I grew up in the suburbs in a family where we avoided conflict at all costs. We talked like diplomats. So embracing conflict has been something I had to learn.

10. You’re an indie author. Any thoughts on the divide between independent publishing and traditional publishing?

I think the market will sort itself out, but it’s going to take time. Good books will find their way into readers’ hands somehow, whether in printed or electronic form. We need our stories every day. We can’t live without stories. For me personally, independent publishing has been the perfect solution. I found an excellent editor who professionally edited my manuscript. I like the idea that I can control the timing of the publication of my books. If my first book, Doing Max Vinyl, had been traditionally published in April 2011 instead of the way I did it, it probably would have hit the remainder tables by Thanksgiving, and it would be out of print now. I think Zombie Candy might spark some interest in Doing Max Vinyl, so it’s a benefit to readers as well as to me that it continues to be available, rather than going out of print and being forgotten. E-books are clearly here to stay, because the consumers (readers) and providers (authors) are the big winners. The only losers are the bookstores, publishing companies, agents and others who refuse to adapt.

 


As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Zombie Candy eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Zombie Candy for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About the book: Weaving elements of mystery, horror, and romance in a hilarious romp that starts in Chicago and ends in a quaint medieval town in sun-drenched Tuscany, Zombie Candy is a genre-hopping knee-slapper of a novel. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Frederick Lee Brooke has worked as an English teacher, language school manager and small business owner and has travelled extensively in Tuscany, the setting of part of Zombie Candy. Visit Fred on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads accounts.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Interview: Justin Bog

I’m happy to introduce friends and family to another friend I’ve made online. Justin Bog (or Bogdanovitch from his original, really-hard-to-get-your-mouth-around family name) joined Triberr at about the same time I did last October. He had just started building up his online presence then, so we didn’t get to see much of the historical stuff you can find with people who’ve had accounts for a while, but we didn’t need any of that background to discover his warm-hearted, supportive nature. He’s been involved with books and writing his whole life, and now that he’s taken the plunge and published his first short story anthology, I’m happy to welcome him here to help promote that work.

Justin Bog1. You’re a remarkably private person. What motivated you to release your first collection of short stories?

First, Tonya, I thank you for inviting me to your wonderful place. I’ve been reading (and subscribing to) your blog since last fall, and I love the books you review. I look forward to reading your new book, Dust to Blood (Red Slaves).

Well, I used to be more private. I didn’t have much of an online presence until I joined Twitter at the end of June 2011 at the insistence of my partner at In Classic Style, the e-Magazine where I provide pop culture recommendations. Last year, I sent my first novel out to a publisher using a contact, bypassing agents. At the same time I had started writing my own blog, posting about once a week. While I waited and waited to hear what the publishing house thought about my novel, I quietly toiled away, and published ten stories on my blog by the end of the year, and also a holiday story. I never heard a word back after six months, and sent the book to someone else in the same big publishing house, another contact, a higher up, and, still no word. I do know that the offices of the editors look like an episode of Hoarders, with stacks and stacks of print manuscripts dotting every surface, and more “invisible” stacks of emailed PDF manuscripts, as mine was. These people don’t have much time to discover any gem in a stack like that. Not even Rumpelstiltskin can help them out. A bit discouraged, I just kept my head down. Within three months, people started to converse more with me on Twitter and Facebook, and I enjoyed talking to so many people of diverse backgrounds, not just writers either, although the writers are lovely. I like to cook so I follow a bunch of foodies. In October of 2011 I received an invitation to join Triberr, and found entry into a group of writers and bloggers who help share each other’s writing and blog content. This was great, but my old Posterous blog couldn’t link up correctly so I had to ditch it for WordPress at the beginning of 2012. Then, I really connected to many more people, and, luckily, I watched a Webinar on turning your blog content into a book. I thought: I have those ten short stories just sitting there and I loved writing them, revising them and putting them into a book to share with others who love the short story form.

2. How did you select which stories to include? What stories didn’t make the cut? Can we expect a second collection soon?

I used all ten of the stories from last year. I have other stories I have written, but they aren’t revised enough to post on my blog. I like publishing them on my blog in their second and third drafts. Then, I edit them more, see mistakes, fix awkward sentences. So, I will probably have more stories for a second short story collection ready to publish by next year. I have a novel ready to publish this coming fall after another round of editing, even though this has been professionally edited. I do believe writers should hire editors, and get a lot of people to read their work in early form.

Sandcastle and Other Stories3. You’ve mentioned that your cover is extracted from one of your dad’s paintings. What made you decide on that image? How does it connect with your collection of stories?

I’ve loved my father’s crowded beach painting ever since he painted it back in the early nineties. This Boardwalk collection of paintings was shown at a very fine arts gallery in Chicago, and this particular painting sold to someone with a second home in Wisconsin (or, that is the story I was told). There are several stories in the collection with a sea, beach, shore, Lake Michigan, or island setting. The title story called out for a book cover like this. The funny thing though is I even mention a red-and-white-striped beach umbrella in one of the tales, and the art fits. I wanted to lull any reader into the piece, look at the happiness on display, and realize, after reading what lies within, that happiness might be a shell.

4. You were born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, whisked off to Pullman, Washington until the end of first grade, and then landed in Granville, Ohio until high school graduation. How does that central US perspective play out in your work?

Well, I left Ohio to go to the University of Michigan. I know: traitor! A couple of the stories are set in Michigan: Typecast and Mothers of Twins. Only two of the stories are set in Granville, Ohio: Cats In Trees, and the story where I used my family home as a setting, On the Back Staircase, is the most autobiographical. The rest are all over the map: Atlanta and a cruise ship, an island off the coast of Maine, a beach on the Jersey shore (that’s where Sandcastle takes place even if I don’t say it in the short story. My dad is a Jersey shore guy from the fifties), New York City, two stories are set in California, one in L.A., one on the beaches below San Francisco, and a train station that could be anywhere. I moved to Idaho after my final schooling, and then finally made it to the Pacific Northwest coastline. I love living close to water.

5. You spent quite a few years managing book stores. What gave you the push to join the other side of the ledger with your freelance writing?

I was always writing, but before last year, I never spoke about my writing with anyone, and I never sent anything out except to the rare story contest, just to keep my engines going. With ePublishing becoming a simpler thing to do, I finally wanted to jump in. After my mom died in 2008, I realized life is too short, and why not share the writing that I already enjoy with my friends. I like the stories. The friends seem to like them too. If a stranger picks up and reads the books I write, all the better.

6. What drew you to the short story format?

Short stories are what I have always loved to read. Novels too. My short stories all start out very short, maybe one or two pages. There’s a beginning, middle, and an end, even if everything isn’t nicely wrapped up by the end — like in life. Then I work on expanding the scenes, adding characters that need to walk on stage. Sandcastle began with the image of a balloon let loose by accident on a crowded beach and the little girl is crying to her mother. Then I thought: what if the mother is at the end of her rope, having one of her days, just wants to not have to look after her even though that is her job. And then: what if there is someone watching the mother and daughter, someone who would find their discomfort interesting . . . that was all on one page, and then the story unfolded.

7. Do you plan on eventually writing and releasing a novel-length work?

Yes. Wake Me Up is going to get one more copyedit this summer, and I’ll start the ball rolling all over again for its publication date sometime in November. This story is about a crime in Missoula, Montana, and what happens to the victim and the victim’s family afterwards. The first chapter is a Bonus at the end of Sandcastle and Other Stories. I wrote a second novel, and I’m halfway through a first draft edit on that one. This is tentatively titled The Shut-Ins, and it is a contagion horror/thriller set in an isolated, small Pacific Northwest mountain town. I also just started writing a new psychological suspense story set in the San Juan Islands, called The Volunteer, and I already love the characters in this one a hundred pages in. In my spare time, hehe, I finished the first draft of a screenplay that needs a really good revision. It’s a supernatural screenplay titled The Banishing of Antonella Novi, and it has a House of the Devil, and Harvest Home feel to it.

8. You seem drawn to the suspense and thriller genres. Why?

My father loved horror films. I read MAD magazine and collected comic books as a kid, and I remember the spoofs of The Exorcist, Jaws, Halloween, Alien. So excited about Prometheus coming out. And my dad dragged all five of us to see any film we wanted to see, and of course we wanted to see them all. Psycho is a particular favorite. I read all genre of books, and I see all genre of films. All About Eve, The Hours, and Gosford Park are three films that I can watch anytime. The Hours, especially, captures on film that moment of epiphany a writer can achieve when thinking about a work in progress.

9. Who are your biggest influences and favorite authors?

Both my parents were artists, and, now, looking back on my childhood, I totally understand their creative urges; they influenced me the most. My dad was not comfortable being away from his painting studio, even for one day, or a short driving vacation. If we drove to the Jersey shore — Seaside Heights rocks — it wouldn’t take long for my dad to say it was time to drive home — maybe four hours after arrival he’d say this. The biggest influence on my writing were Raymond Carver, Shirley Jackson, Rachel Ingalls, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, Chris Claremont, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, John Byrne, and a little-known author named Cris Freddi, whose book of interconnected short stories, Pork, should be required reading, but fades away.

10. What is your writing process? Are you a pantser or plotter?

I am a tried and true pantser. I love getting into a character’s head and watching where he or she takes me. I don’t take notes, I don’t use note cards, or an outline, and some of my longer stories and novels have a large cast of characters. All those works in progress, all the separate story lines, I can somehow keep track of. I do read a lot, and research many subjects I need to learn more about. Preparing to write Wake Me Up I read a book that helped me understand why a father would act out the way he did, and another couple books on an affliction that becomes part of the mystery. Anything I get wrong I apologize here for.

11. Author’s choice: What question should I have asked that I didn’t?

That’s the toughest question, Tonya, but here goes: how do you conquer your fears?

And my answer is an unknown. I grew up with a huge fear of failure mixed with a perfectionist’s fear of success. I chose to be very private for the longest time, kept things close to the vest, and never let anyone into my world, real or imagined. I am taking life one day at a time.

Thank you again, Tonya.

 

Thank you, Justin! He’s a consistently gracious, creative fellow, so I’m happy to point any interested potential readers to his social media outposts:

I’ve also linked Justin’s picture to his blog and his beautiful cover art to his book, Sandcastles and Other Stories. Join me in supporting this talented new author in his new writing adventure.

Author Interview: Brian Holers

Since I’ve been underway on family business since last week, I’m trying something old, with a new twist: This interview with Brian Holers is part of a blog tour sponsored by Novel Publicity. They provided the interview… and the prizes, which include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of Holers’ new literary novel, Doxology. Good luck on the contest!

🙂

1. Why did you choose to write about characters who set out to rediscover their faiths?

The characters in Doxology don’t really set out to rediscover their faiths—they simply rediscover them when everything else is lost.  My two central characters, Vernon and Jody, uncle and nephew, are just living life as the story begins.  Jody has a pretty good, interesting life, he has a stable job working for a nice family, he’s in love with the daughter of that family and works for the son and father.  He has totally inserted himself into this family, and his life has promise.  Only when he learns that his father is dying does he decide to return home, deal with things he has successfully avoided, and discover the great role faith has played in making him who he is.  Vernon, conversely, is making his way through life, but just barely; the tragic loss of his son has made him a mere shell of the man he once was, and the greatest joy of his current life is his ongoing endeavor to show his disdain for God.  Only when he fails in the one pitiful thing he has left, when he is broken down to absolutely nothing, is a return to faith possible.  The story is entirely fabricated, without really a shred of reality, though I can recognize parts of myself in many of the characters.  Particularly Jody’s girlfriend.

2. What was the inspiration for this book?

The inspiration for Doxology was the longstanding concept of “my brother’s keeper,” superimposed on the Jewish concept of “dayeinu”.  Dayeinu is what Jews say during the Passover seder in contemplation of the many things God has done for us—the concept of “it would have been enough.”  “If only God had led us out of the desert, dayeinu, it would have been enough. But no, God did something more.”  In 2005, when I finally started writing, I worked on short stories and met twice a month with a group of other writers.  When my wife and I decided to leave the country for a year, I figured, well I won’t be meeting with a writers’ group anymore, maybe I’ll just write a book.  And I wrote the first several drafts of that book while we were traveling, from a smelly dive-shop hotel in Zanzibar, where I had to drag a rickety wooden table into our room and kick my wife and son out for the afternoon, to a beachfront room in Phuket, to the lobby of a YMCA hotel in Jerusalem, to a coffee shop with stale cookies in Malaysia, where my family and I helped build a Habitat for Humanity house during the day.  And really that trip cemented for me the idea that anywhere you go, the stories are the same. We all care most about our families. There are so many good things God does for us.

3. What surprises did you encounter in writing Doxology?

The greatest surprise I encountered when writing Doxology was the way Vernon kept trying to take over. When the story began, it was all about Jody. The problem was, Vernon’s conflict was more immediate right from the beginning—dealing with the death of his only son, his constant drinking and self-destructive behavior. He just kept taking over—maybe Jody’s struggle was so much harder to portray, since he seems to be doing pretty well in his current life, unlike Vernon. I overcame this problem by letting go—I stopped fighting it. I let Vernon take over, and then struggled to really work my way inside Jody, which took a long time. I overcame the problem by deciding the book was going to be done when it was done, and I couldn’t rush it.

4. Why did you decide to become a writer?

I discovered my passion for stories at a young age—I have always been filled with stories. It took me awhile to begin to try and write them down. It also took me a few years to discover that trying to tell people the stories I imagined just made everyone think I was weird (which is a fair assessment) and that I talked too much. I’m glad it worked out this way though—if I had discovered my passion for writing at a young age, I would probably have struggled in a losing battle to make my living that way, and I’d be discouraged and burned out by now. What I discovered instead, in my twenties, is that for a guy so animated by imaginary stories, I’m surprising adept at negotiating the physical world. A dozen or so years of self employment allowed me to strip away a lot of detritus, have a lot of time alone to think. Once, a consultant I hired to help me manage my tree service told me that the world inside my head was more vivid to me than the world outside, and that’s when I decided I had to get serious about my writing.

5. What is the most effective resource you have found for writing?

The only effective resource I have come across to hone my craft is time. And the best advice I received is not to rush. Even when you think you’re done the first or the first several times, put the book away for awhile and come back to it. Don’t rush. I wish I had kept track of how much time I spent on this book—I would guess between 3,000 and 4,000 hours. For one little book! But the advice goes deeper—don’t rush, make a schedule and sit there and write. Give yourself the time and then sit there and do it. If you’re like most of us and have a job, don’t try to commit too much of your day to it. Give it an hour a day, two hours, whatever. Just commit to it. It’s so much easier to come home from work, have a few drinks, go to the bar, and sit and stare at the stories in your head and say “I’m a writer.” You’re only a writer if you’re writing. As for bad advice, I am totally self taught in this craft—the only bad advice I have received is regarding publishing. A lot of people told me even a year ago not to self-publish. However, I have one thing now I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t decided to self-publish, and that is a book.

6. What is your favorite writing ritual?

My favorite writing ritual is to go to my desk at night after my son goes to bed, have my wife put on her headset if she wants to watch TV or listen to music or whatever, just make it very quiet, and sit there until I really need to go to bed.

7. What do you like about writing?

My favorite part of the writing process is the feeling I get each step of the way, which comes from deciding what I can do that day is good enough. Lately I’ve been writing essays. I start with jotting down notes—I write a lot by hand, I think better that way. I’ll write down in my sloppy scratch all the ideas that come to mind on a subject. Then the next session, I’ll organize all those notes, expand a bit, put them all in order. Again, all on paper. Next time I’ll write a draft, and even as I’m writing I know there will be a lot I want to change. Then I’ll print it, make changes, and write again. But I decide each step, and each draft, is good enough for what it is.  My least favorite part of writing is that it’s always late and I’m always tired and have to get through it, which I do by setting short-term goals. The greatest of which is brushing my teeth and going to sleep.

8. Why did you decide to self-publish Doxology?

The traditional, old-school publishing world is in total disarray, which is why writers like me have to take things into their own hands. For a lot of us, especially first time or unpublished writers, our hope to be published is simply that, hope.  We look at getting a publishing contract as our best chance of being somebody.  Now that I’m out here, I have a better sense of how books are sold, and I am here to tell you it is not easy. Possible, yes, but not easy. There are a zillion other forms of entertainment that require much less effort. A publisher really has to sell several thousand copies of your book before beginning to break even. And if you’re just a regular Joe like I am, and nobody’s heard of you, that’s a tall order. Then the other piece is, even if you do get published, you have to do all the work to sell the book anyway. There’s just not enough money in this equation for a publisher to do any real work for you, not until you’ve begun to prove yourself. Personally, as one with good business sense, I like this new model—there is no one between me and all my potential customers—no one saying it’s not good enough, no one saying we can release your book in 18 months.

9. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Advice to aspiring authors—writing may well be the hardest thing you will ever do. At one time I had tons and tons of business debt, customers calling me daily, six highly-paid guys showing up at work every day looking at me for their instructions. I paid through the nose for liability insurance, workers’ comp, and every tool imaginable. Then I waited for the guys to start calling me to say why the jobs couldn’t be done, while I drove around scrambling for more work.  All of that was downright easy compared to writing books.   But there’s no joy like it.  And while I am normal person who has made a lot of mistakes in life, I have found that the more my life is straight, the better my art. The old concept of the tortured writer or tortured artist with various addictions only goes so far. If you want to write clear, clean prose, make yourself as good a person as you can be, and the words will flow.  Keep your head up. Be entertained by your writing. Rejoice in the little things. Ultimately writing should be something you enjoy, that gives you passion. I have read that 10,000 hours pursuant to any activity is required to make one an expert, and writing is no exception.

10. What can you say about this book that we wouldn’t learn from the synopsis?

I am grateful to say, Doxology is a beautifully written book, filled with symbols and layers of meaning. It is so much more than I set out to write, and I am proud to say it is so much better than even I thought it would be. It’s not Dostoevsky or the Holy Bible, no, but it is a sweet, moving, inspiring  little story of love, loss, and redemption.  All told in a Southern accent so thick it just oozes out of the pages.

Doxology Whirlwind BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Doxology eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Doxology for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

Help my blog win:

The tour blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card. When you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to VOTE FOR ME.

About the book:  Fathers, sons and brothers reconnect over tragedy in this blue-collar Southern tale of love, loss, and the healing power of community and family. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author:  An arborist by day and a novelist in every moment he can steal, Brian makes up stories from the treetops. Visit Brian on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Author Interview: Jenn Nixon

Once again this week, I stumbled across an author on Twitter who is releasing a new book. @jennnixon is a veteran indie, with four novels under her belt (including one self-published). To help her kick off her fifth book launch, I invited her to join me here for an author interview. Enjoy!

Jenn Nixon1. You have mentioned that your first novel was a throw-away High School effort. What do you credit as having most contributed to your growth as an author into someone who is regularly published?

When I tried to promote said novel, I got very bad reviews. They were all correct, the book sucked. I knew, no matter what I tried, I’d needed to write, so I bucked up, joined a few writers groups, did my research, learned to write better, and pushed through.

2. Trust Me, Tell Me appears to be the third in a series. What was your inspiration for creating the characters of Mason Storm and Veronica Chance?

I honestly don’t remember when it happened, but somewhere in my head there was this little idea: A girl is searching for something, she ends up working at a strip club and has to give a VIP customer a lap dance and he ends up helping her. That’s it. It festered in my head for months. Popped into my head when I tried to go to sleep. One day, my brother was playing a video game. The main character’s last name was Mason. I liked it. Something clicked and the rest of the story came quickly after that.

Trust Me Tell Me3. Are you going to continue this series? How many books do you have planned for it?

I think their story is done. This one is a nice tied-up happy ending. Who knows though, characters have come back to haunt me on occasion.

4. You’ve been accepted as an author by several small presses. What made you decide to pursue several different publisher relationships?

I write in more than one genre and find there are very few places that will take a dark romantic suspense, humorous sci-fi romance, and a steamy mystery. So I had to find the right publishers for the manuscripts. This also helps me build a platform as all of my stories have some element of romance to tie my voice together.

5. Will you continue to work with multiple publishers?

I think so. Not only do I connect with other great writers and editors, I can hopefully widen my base of readers by publishing with multiple houses.

6. Is there a particular reason you prefer to work with independent publishers? Have you ever considered self-publishing?

Time Healers is actually self published. I wrote the story a long time ago for a friend of mine. I honestly only put it on Amazon for friends and family, though I have been surprised to see others have found it and enjoyed it. I’m not sure I will go the self-publishing route right now, perhaps in the future when I’m more experienced.

7. What caused the long break between publishing Play Nice and Live to See Tomorrow and the first Time Healers book?

I didn’t go about publishing Play Nice the right way and I totally wasn’t ready. I think I wrote two or three novels in between Play Nice and Time Healers. None of them will see the light of day unless I go back to scratch. I still have one project I started writing in 2005 that I’m trying to find a publisher for, it’s a toughie this one, but I’m not giving up it’s one of my favorites.

8. You’re on quite a roll with your recent publication timeline. How many books do you plan to release in 2012? How many novels have you completed so far?

I hope to have 2-3 books published this year at a minimum. One novella is already out and the other two are in various stages with the publishers. I would love to get one or two more with publishers for end-of-year releases, so keep your fingers crossed for me! 🙂 In total, including the bad ones, I probably have about 6 completed novels on my hard drive and about 10 stalled projects.

9. You’re a self-described Jersey girl. How much does that infuse your writing? (I’m thinking of parallels to Janet Evanovich here, if any.)

Ah, I love Jersey. I really do. Yes, yes, parts of it stink, the traffic is horrendous, there’s always construction, but where else can you go to the woods, the mountains, the beach, visit a casino, eat Taylor Ham at a diner, see a sports game or concert, enjoy all four seasons (usually!), and still be within 2-4 hours from some of the coolest places in the country like New York City and Washington DC!

I haven’t set many of my novels in New Jersey, I did in earlier works but find it’s more fun to explore a new place or revisit somewhere I’ve been or make a place up completely, that’s the best.

10. You’ve mentioned a work history as a park activities coordinator, waitress, telemarketer, payroll specialist and payroll supervisor. How often do your various work experiences find expression in your novels?

I still have a snippet in my head about using my payroll background for some type of mystery or thriller but nothing’s come together yet. Mainly the people I’ve worked with find their way into my novels via funny things they’ve said or done that work well with a character.

11. Author’s choice: What question did I not ask that you think I should have?

Seriously? I can’t think of one. Maybe what’s my favorite color? It’s purple. LOL! Thank you so much for this interview it was lots of fun!!

Author Bio:
Jenn Nixon resides in New Jersey. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Liberty State Fiction Writers. Her love for thrillers and suspense often finds its way into her novels whether they are Science Fiction or Romance. When not writing, Jenn spends her free time reading, absorbing pop culture and current events, and social networking online.

Website: www.jennnixon.com
Blog: http://jennafern.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JennNixonAuthor
Purchase at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jenn-Nixon/e/B002BLNBBQ

Author Interview: Breeana Puttroff

Once again, Twitter introduced me to an interesting, supportive fellow writer in @BPuttroff who helped me #wordmonger my way to a NaNo win this year. In our writing sprint breaks she was kind enough to share some of her work, and I got to beta read what promises to be an excellent follow-on to Seeds of Discovery, which I reviewed right after I was done with my own writing obligation. To help her welcome Roots of Insight to published reality, I have the honor of presenting another author interview for your delectation.

1. You have quite an educational background, with both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees under your belt, as well as 11 years of teaching experience. What made you decide to “quit your day job”?
There were a lot of factors that went into my decision to quit teaching at a public school — that could be the subject of several posts all on its own. I still love teaching, and that’s why I do it now, as a small, private business. For a variety of reasons, it was time for me to strike out and do something different.

2. You also mention being a single mom, at some remove from family help. How do you find the time and discipline to work on your writing?
I do have family help, at least in a small way. My dad lives nearby and he’s a wonderful grandfather who will come and take my daughter out on “Papa dates” a few times a month. Aside from that, I really do have the most awesome friends in the world, and they help out as much as they can.

3. You also recently had some success on Amazon’s best-seller (for free Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy) list. What made you decide to list the first book in the series (Seeds of Discovery) for free?
I decided to try out the whole “Kindle Select” program and see what it could do. So far, I’ve been impressed with what the additional exposure has been able to do for Seeds of Discovery. At the time you wrote this question, it was the bestselling free book in both Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy and in Contemporary Fantasy. When it went back on the paid list, it still did quite well for awhile, and was, for a couple of days, the third most popular children’s fantasy book on Amazon, right behind the first two books in the Hunger Games trilogy.

4. You only just released the first book in September. Are you going to continue on this break-neck publishing pace?
I hope so. 🙂

Roots of Insight5. How many books are you planning for in this series? (And how did you know that was how long the story arc would take?)
I plan for there to be four books in the series. Right now, as I continue to plan and develop the storyline, there are times I consider a fifth, but the current plan is four.

6. Tell us what inspired you to write this story?
Two summers ago, my dad and I took my daughter up to the mountains for some picnicking and playing in the river. We stopped at this little pull-off picnic site right along a river, and there was this broken bridge. It wasn’t exactly like the one in my story, but similar, and had at one point led across the river to absolutely nowhere — smack into a rock wall. I knew there was a story in it, but it took several months before that story began to take shape.

7. How long have you been writing fiction?
Since shortly after I learned to hold a pencil. Kindergarten, at the latest. I was *that kid* at school, always buried in a book or a notebook. I still have a book I wrote in second grade. We were supposed to write a page-long story or something, I’m sure, but my story was about fifteen pages and divided into chapters. It was carefully illustrated by a classmate of mine, Jason Essig. I’m sure I traded my “walking dictionary” services for his artistic ones.

8. What pushed you to publish this series under an indie imprint?
There are several reasons. The biggest one being that I’d just quit my job, and decided to take my life and my happiness into my own hands. My small business is what sustains me now, but I figured if I was going to go for it, I might as well just go for it and see what happens. The traditional publishing route is so insanely time-consuming, and involves a lot of just waiting for responses. I like to make things happen, or else I get bored. 🙂

9. How does owning and operating a small preschool impact your writing?
That job, of course, takes up most of my time. I have discovered though, that despite the fact that I technically “work” many more hours and days than I did on a public school teacher’s schedule, my time and ability to write have expanded enormously. Sure, I work until much later in the evenings now, but all of my mental and physical energy is no longer drained when I’m done. Now that I’m not thinking of a to-do-list that’s so long I could never possibly accomplish all of it, or what things I forgot to do, or what phone calls I need to make, or grading papers, or all of the stress and worry that comes with a teaching job, my mind is open to write.

And, when it’s writing time, I’m writing my stories — not 20 pages of lesson plans each week.

Plus, preschoolers are tons of fun and full of great, inspiring ideas — and they nap! And, as a single mom, now that I can give my daughter quality attention all day, it’s not quite so hard to turn off for a bit in the evening and write.

10. How old do you expect your daughter to be before she reads this series for the first time? What do you think her question would be about it?
I don’t know how old she’ll be when she reads it all the way through. I’ve read bits and pieces of it to her — she loves Annie, who is modeled after her (and named for my late mom’s middle name, Ann). My daughter is the inquisitive type, and her questions always surprise me, so I have no idea what her questions will be about it! 🙂

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