The Write Stuff – Monday, March 30 – Interview With Robert Dugoni

On several occasions over the past two years, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing some of the world’s first tier thriller authors. This month, I have the special pleasure of introducing you to Robert, or Bob, Dugoni as he prefers to be called. I first met this humble and gracious man in August of 2011, at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association’s Summer Conference in Bellevue, Washington. It was Thursday, August 4, and Bob was going to be teaching the second part of a course on writing, later that afternoon. Early that morning, just before his co-presenter, Chris Humphreys, opened the seminar, I spotted Bob at the back of the room. When I approached him, I found him to be immediately open and affable. Although it was a brief conversation, I will never forget how genuinely touched he seemed to be when I told him my wife had enjoyed all of his books and thought him to be a better writer than Scott Turow—an author whom Bob conceded was one of his favorites. Even so, you will see from his biography that follows, he is a force to be reckoned with.

SAM_1300Robert Dugoni is the #1 Amazon and New York Times Bestselling Author of eight novels. His latest, My Sister’s Grave, was the #1 Amazon bestseller for two months and Amazon, Library Journal, and Suspense Magazine all chose it as a 2014 Best Book of the Year. Dugoni is also the author of the best-selling David Sloane series, The Jury Master, Wrongful Death, Bodily Harm, Murder One and The Conviction, as well as the stand alone novel Damage Control. His books have twice been recognized by the Los Angeles Times as a top five thriller of the year. Murder One was a finalist for the prestigious Harper Lee Award for literary excellence. Dugoni’s first book, the nonfiction expose, The Cyanide Canary, was a Washington Post 2004 Best Book of the year. Dugoni’s books have been likened to Scott Turow and Nelson DeMille, and the Providence Rhode Island Journal has called him the “the undisputed king of the legal thriller” and the “heir to Grisham’s literary throne.”

The following is a brief peek at My Sister’s Grave:

MySistersGrave CoverTracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.

Bob, will you please tell us about My Sister’s Grave?

I wanted to do something fresh. One of my joys as a writer is creating new characters, getting to know them and then letting them run and see what happens. I had been fascinated with an idea ever since I read that Washington was taking down several dams to restore the wild Salmon’s natural spawning grounds. When I read further, I learned that large lakes above the dams would drain and so, as a writer, I thought, “What if?” “What if they were to find a body?” From there the questions multiplied. “What if the body was someone who had disappeared years earlier, without a trace?” “What if the body was someone prominent or the daughter of someone prominent?” “What does a murder do to a family, to an entire small town?” “What if the discovery of that body included evidence that maybe, just maybe, the person convicted and in jail might be innocent?” “What if that small town is harboring some big secrets that certain individuals don’t want exposed?”

It’s taken me more than a decade of writing but I’ve come to realize that while I write thrillers they have a very strong “relationship” element to them not unlike Gone Girl, which was really all about the relationship between the husband and the wife. I think readers will love getting to know Tracy and her relationship to her sister, Sarah. I think women in particular will feel the bond that those two characters share as well as the pain Tracy feels when Sarah disappears, without a trace. I think they’ll love reading about a tough, strong willed, intelligent woman seeking justice. Beyond that, I hope they’ll just love an old-fashioned edge of your chair thriller with a heart pounding ending.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

Trying not to write from the perspective of a woman, though my lead character is a woman. I knew that would be a potential disaster. So I wrote from the perspective of a human being struggling to find closure and justice for a horrific crime committed to her sister that damaged not just her, but her entire family and bucolic existence in a small town. I have four professional sisters and a mother who has run her own business for 40 years. I’ve been surrounded by intelligent, strong willed women my entire life. Tracy Crosswhite is an amalgamation of all of them, with a healthy dose of real life Seattle Homicide Detective Jennifer Southworth. So I tried to draw from all of them.

What other novels have you written?

I’ve written 8 other novels: The Jury Master, Damage Control, Wrongful Death, Bodily Harm, Murder One, The Conviction, Her Last Breath, The Cyanide Canary as well as The Academy, a short story.

Have there been any awards, productions, videos or anything else of interest associated with your work?

Several have hit the NY Times Bestseller List, including My Sister’s Grave, which was also the #1 Amazon download for two months.

Murder One was a finalist for the Harper Lee award for literary excellence

Murder One and Bodily Harm were chosen as one of the five best legal thrillers of the year by Library Journal and by the Los Angeles Times Book Review.

What else are you working on?

The sequel to My Sister’s Grave, Her last Breath will be published September 8, 2015. I’m working on the third in the series.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

Yes, hearing voices in your head all day that sound very real to you.

Hah! I know that one. I also know you were a two-time winner of PNWA’s annual literary contest, which is an unusual accomplishment in and of itself, and those were events that helped get you started. Can you give us any additional insights to your path to publication?

Like a roller coaster. I had an agent die, a publisher get bought by a huge conglomerate, been to the top and back to the bottom and back to the top. This is not a profession for the faint of heart.

Indeed it isn’t. What would you say is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?

Putting your butt in the chair day after day.

So true. Writing thrillers demands that you “do in” certain characters. Have you ever dispatched someone in a book and then regretted it?

Yes, in Bodily Harm, though I won’t say who.

I guess our visitors will have to read it, then try to figure that out for themselves. Do you have another job outside of writing?

I still practice law a couple days a week.

What motivates or inspires you?

My kids. I have a son who is 18 and a daughter 15. I want the best for them because they are terrific kids and deserve every opportunity to succeed.

How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

What else are you going to do? You can’t quit. If you quit, the critics and cynics win. You have to keep going forward, believe in yourself and be intelligent about your career path.

Some people do quit, despite all that, so I must say how much I admire you. Will you tell us what has been your greatest success in life?

My marriage and my two children.

Do you have any pet projects?

I clean the dog poop in the backyard on a regular basis!

Now that was unexpected. Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My mother and father. They raised 10 kids, all professionals. They just never gave in.

And that tells us where you got your attitude. Before we close, Bob, I like to finish with a Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, please answer the following:

My best friend would tell you I’m a …

bit of a Gremlin.

The one thing I cannot do without is:

My wife

The one thing I would change about my life:

Nothing

My biggest peeve is:

People who don’t follow the rules of society the rest of us follow

The person or persons I’m most satisfied with:

My Children

Thank you so much, Bob, for having taken time out of your life to join us here. I’m sure a number of my visitors are glad you stopped by.

For those visitors who would like to sample some of Bob Dugoni’s writing, you can find his latest release at:

http://www.amazon.com/Sisters-Grave-Tracy-Crosswhite-Book-ebook/dp/B00K2EOONI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424715166&sr=8-1&keywords=My+Sister%27s+Grave

Bob’s website:           www.robertdugoni.com

On Facebook:            https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobertDugoni /

On Twitter:               @robertdugoni

email:                         bob@robertdugoni.com

 

The Write Stuff – Monday, March 16 – Interview With Matt Pallamary

Over the months since I began this series, I have been privileged to interview several award winning authors. Few of them, however, have garnered as many awards as this week’s guest, Matthew Pallamary. His awards, and the works that earned them, are as follows:

International Book Award – Award Winning Finalist – A Short Walk to the Other Side
USA Best Book Awards – Award Winning Finalist – A Short Walk to the Other Side
International Book Award – 1st Place – Nonfiction New Age – The Infinity Zone
San Diego Book Award – Finalist – The Infinity Zone
Award Winning Finalist – National Best Book Awards – Spirit Matters
San Diego Book Award – Best Spiritual Book – Spirit Matters
San Diego Book Award – Land Without Evil
San Diego Writer’s Monthly Man of the Year Award 2000
2002 Independent e-book award — 1st Place horror/thriller category – Dreamland with Ken Reeth

Author PhotoMatt’s work has appeared in Oui, New Dimensions, The Iconoclast, Starbright, Infinity, Passport, The Short Story Digest, Redcat, The San Diego Writer’s Monthly, Connotations, Phantasm, Essentially You, The Haven Journal, and many others. His fiction has been featured in The San Diego Union Tribune which he has also reviewed books for, and his work has been heard on KPBS-FM in San Diego, KUCI FM in Irvine, television Channel Three in Santa Barbara, and The Susan Cameron Block Show in Vancouver. He has been a guest on nationally syndicated talk shows and a frequent guest on numerous podcasts, among them, The Psychedelic Salon, and C-Realm.

He has taught a fiction workshop at the Southern California Writers’ Conference in San Diego, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles, and at the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference for twenty five years. He has lectured at the Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Conference, the Getting It Write conference in Oregon, the Saddleback Writers’ Conference, the Rio Grande Writers’ Seminar, the National Council of Teachers of English, The San Diego Writer’s and Editor’s Guild, The San Diego Book Publicists, The Pacific Institute for Professional Writing, and he has been a panelist at the World Fantasy Convention, Con-Dor, and Coppercon. He is presently Editor in Chief of Muse Harbor Publishing.

I could go on for pages with more of his accomplishments, but I’d rather introduce you to the man and talk about his recent release, CyberChrist, a science fiction thriller. This brief introduction will give you a feeling for it:

Ashley Butler, a prize winning journalist at the San Diego Times receives an email from a man who claims to have discovered immortality by turning off the aging gene in a 15 year old boy with an aging disorder. The email has pictures showing a reversal of the aging process and the names of a scientist and a company to investigate. Thinking it a hoax, she forwards the email to friends. Though skeptical, she calls to investigate and gets a no longer in service message. When she leaves her office she overhears a news story about the death of the scientist mentioned in the email. Ashley checks out the company mentioned in the email and discovers a gutted building. At the deceased scientist’s address she has a confrontation with an unfriendly federal investigator. Returning to her office she finds him, subpoena in hand, confiscating her computer. He tells her that the scientist who sent the email is a killer that they need help catching. When her own investigators do more checking, none of them return. The forwarded email becomes the basis for an online church built around the boy, calling him the CyberChrist. The church claims that the Internet is the physical manifestation of the group mind of humanity and the boy is the second coming of Christ online. The federal government tries to shut down the church, but its website replicates faster than they can stop it. While church and state battle over religious freedom online, the media and the state battle over freedom of speech. Ashley battles to stay alive.

Matt, I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am that you dropped by to talk with us. Will you tell us how CyberChrist came to be?

CyberChrist grew out of my fascination with the subject of immortality, genetics, and the too early death of a close friend, who I “immortalized” in print.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

Keeping up with the rapid pace of technological change which I overcame by keeping abreast of breaking technological advances. CyberChrist needed to be as up to date as possible while being as timeless as possible.

What other novels have you written?

Land Without Evil, DreamLand (With Ken Reeth), Eye of the Predator, Night Whispers. I have also published two short story collections, a nonfiction book, and a memoir.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

No. I write, teach, and edit.

In this day and age, that is highly unusual. Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

Eating.

That was unexpected. Would you care to elaborate?

I was referring to the inconsistency of income. Sometimes it’s feast, but more often than not it’s famine. Being a novelist, you can’t depend on it for steady income, (unless you’re Stephen King or someone like that.), so if you are dedicated to it, you have to be doing it for the love. I write full time, but I also teach and edit to make ends meet and even that goes in feast and famine cycles.

Most of us imagine life as a successful novelist somewhat more romantically. This takes some of the blush off the rose. Clearly, you know it on a more intimate level. Getting down to the nuts and bolts—if you’ll allow me to mix metaphors—what is your single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?

Staying focused and avoiding distractions.

Boy! Do I know that one. Distraction can come at you from all directions and in all sorts of disguises. You’ve come a long way as a self-published author. Will you tell us about your path to publication?

I have been through a few publishers and agents and now take great satisfaction in doing my own thing.

CyberChrist is a thriller and thrillers usually involve loss of life. If you were going to commit the perfect murder, how would you go about it?

By not telling a soul about it, or how I would go about it.

I hope you don’t have anything of that sort in the works. Have you ever dispatched someone in a book and then regretted it?

I never regretted it as it was necessary for the story, but it broke my heart on more than one occasion.

How many people have you done away with over the course of your career?

Thousands.

After CyberChrist, what else are you working on?

Phantastic Fiction Front CoverI have another nonfiction book titled Phantastic Fiction – A Shamanic Approach to Story, which will be released this coming June at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference where I have been teaching a Phantastic Fiction workshop for twenty five years.

Very nice. Will you tell us what has been your greatest success in life?

My novel, Land Without Evil and the amazing aerial stage show that came from it.

Here is a link to the preview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUftl-0AqAI

What do you consider your biggest failure?

One of my best friends is a huge fan of the Mythbusters show. I have watched it a number of times with him. They have a motto, which I will paraphrase here.

There is no failure, there is only data.

Who have been your greatest inspirations?

My Mom, Ray Bradbury, Sparky Schulz, Barnaby Conrad, Chuck Champlin, as well as Sid Stebel and David Brin, who is a good friend of mine.

Is there anything we haven’t touched on you want to make sure potential readers know?

I have been writing for over thirty years and have been teaching and leading writing workshops at major writer’s conferences for over twenty five years, so I am not someone who jumped on the self-publishing bandwagon without any skills or experience. I was blessed to have Ray Bradbury as a mentor as well as Charles (Sparky) Schulz, Barnaby Conrad and the late, great Charles (Chuck) Champlin, the L.A. Times leading film critic for twenty five years. I was very pleased to see Chuck honored at the 2015 Oscars tribute. Together they adopted me into the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference family.

Very nice. Before we present a sample from CyberChrist and tell our visitors where they can get your books, let’s do very quick Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, answer the following:

My best friend would tell you I’m…

Nuts

The one thing I cannot do without is…

Breathing

The one thing I would change about my life…

The last woman I was married to.

Here is a quick peek at CyberChrist, followed by various links you can use to learm more about Matt and his work.

CHAPTER ONE

CyberChrist Front CoverAshley Butler set her chamomile tea and bran muffin down on her desk and hit the power button on her computer. While the little electronic monster under her desk beeped and chattered to life, she brushed ringlets of long brown hair from her face and pulled them into a pony tail, then she leaned back in her chair and watched the never-ending activity from The San Diego Times newsroom through the tinted glass wall of her office.

Mounted close to the ceiling above the doors, half a dozen TV monitors lined the far wall showing CNN, MSNBC, local, and national news. Smaller computer screens glowed from rows of cubicles below them. The steady clicking of keyboards filled the air while phones rang and people scurried in and out of offices.

Less than a year ago Ashley had occupied one of those cubicles until her prize winning story about the murder of an environmental terrorist brought her from reporter to feature writer. Her editor and mentor Scott Miller had worked through the assignment with her, pushing for more revisions. His suggestions helped pull things together, sparking a close father-daughter relationship that made her eager to please by giving him nothing but her best work.

Her computer played the opening strains of Virginia Woolf by the Indigo Girls, signaling the log-on screen. Ashley nibbled her muffin and tapped in her password with one hand. Her email popped up showing seventeen messages. She recognized sixteen of the names. She had never seen the seventeenth. It had an enclosure.

Dr. Justin Stephens — Subject: Immortality

“What’s that all about?” she muttered, double clicking the mail icon. The message screen appeared, but it had no words. She clicked on the enclosure. Pictures and algebraic equations filled her screen.

The first picture showed a wizened sexless countenance with wrinkled, ashen skin, no eyebrows, and a bald head that seemed too large for such a small face. A beaked nose and receding chin looked as if the mouth would swallow them. Jagged teeth sprouted from red gums and milky blue eyes protruded under lashless eyelids.

Ashley’s breath hitched when she read the caption beneath it.

Diagnosis/Prognosis: Chris Daniels, age 14 presents with Progeria, an acceleration of the aging process to approximately seven times the normal rate. Symptoms include heart disease, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, stunted growth, and premature aging. Applied gene therapy has resulted in the isolation and turning off of an inverted insertion in the long arm of chromosome one. The miraculous results of the administered protocol are shown in the following photos.

More pictures followed, their sequence appearing to go backward in time. In the second picture, Chris’s eyes looked clearer. His or her skin appeared softer with a flush of color; as if it now held moisture, and the child’s teeth had evened some. Ashley thought she saw peach fuzz where eyebrows should be.

The child’s face looked fuller and more feminine in the third picture and the teeth looked straighter. Ashley saw hair on Chris’s head and the kid definitely had eyebrows. The fire in Chris’s now ice blue eyes burned brighter.

The two pictures that followed looked younger and more perfect somehow; androgynous with brighter eyes, a normally proportioned face, and fully formed eyebrows. Feathery lashes, a thickening head of long hair, and healthy skin tone accented everything else, giving Chris an angelic countenance.

I’ve seen this trick before, Ashley thought. They Photo-shopped these to make it look like the person ages at warp speed.

In the last picture, Chris’s hair had grown down to his or her shoulders. Other than tiny crow’s feet around the kid’s eyes and indeterminate sex, Chris looked like a normal teenager, only this kid was beautiful. Ashley couldn’t believe the caption under the picture.

Chris Daniels – Age:17

 

Friend Matt on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/matthew.pallamary

Visit Matt’s Author Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MatthewJPallamary

Follow Matt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattpallamary

Visit Mystic Ink Publishing: http://www.mysticinkpublishing.com/

Visit Mystic Ink on Google +: https://plus.google.com/+Mysticinkpublishinggoogleplus/posts

Connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattpallamary

Favorite Matt’s Smashwords author page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Picaflor

The Write Stuff – Monday, February 2 – Interview With Gerard Bianco

Every now and then I encounter someone I cannot pin down. How does one label a man who is an artist, a jewelry designer, a writing coach and an author? This week’s guest is just such an individual. And when I try to identify his writing, I’m in an even worse predicament. One published work was called “a horror thriller, a psychological thriller, a whodunit, and a wonderful mystical thriller all rolled into one.” Another was described as “a love story, a laugh-out-loud comedy, and a sympathetic mix of wit, banter, love, and frustration.” Now, his latest release, A Sharp Bend in the Road: 17 Intriguing Stories, is described as a book that “redefines the art of the short story collection.”

Author photoThe one I’m referring to is my guest week, Gerard Bianco who divides his time between Portland, Maine and Boston. He holds an MFA in Writing from Albertus Magnus College. His short stories have appeared in various literary journals. His lessons, exercises and advice on the art and craft of creative fiction have appeared on the web and in the new book, Now Write! Mysteries: Mystery Fiction Exercises From Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. (Tarcher, 2011; Edited by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson.)

The Deal Master (2006) A mystery/thriller novel. Won the Editor’s Choice Award and the Publisher’s Choice Award.

Discipline: A Play (2012) A love story and a laugh-out-loud comedy that uses wit to depict human frailty, won the Editor’s Choice Award, 2012 and was a Finalist in the 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards.

A Sharp Bend in the Road: 17 Intriguing Stories (January 2015)

Book Blurb: “A virtuosic collection of stories followed by the sharp blade of a killer novella as the final act. Gerard Bianco’s stories do not creep up on you: they fall upon you like a raptor plummeting, wings folded, golden eye ablaze. Their signature swirl of caustic irony is bitter, often brutal – a gleam of talons and a sudden cry – resulting almost always in a small death of the heart.” -Dianne Benedict, Author of Shiny Objects

Book Review: “A Sharp Bend in the Road showcases a carnival of amazing and totally different types of stories. From a story about a young man’s encounter in an elevator, to a gay couple in a jewelry store, to a woman entering a retirement home, Bianco’s characters are real, yet colorful and unique. He has a gift in creating genuine dialogue making each story come alive. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of stories. 5 stars for sure! A fine collection written by one author who clearly knows his craft.” –Susan Violante for Reader Views

Final CoverSynopsis of four of the seventeen stories:

From “A Sharp Bend in the Road.” Following a devastating fall, Rita finds herself standing outside the dining hall at an independent living facility. She squeezes the handle of her cane, and her knuckles turn white. Her wire-rimmed glasses accentuate the tears she tries to hide. – After eighty-two years, and a lifetime of memories, Rita believes she’s been abandoned at the mouth of a fiery dragon that will swallow her up-and she is terrified.

From “A Process of Elimination.” When a man purchases a remote log cabin in the Adirondacks, he believes he has found a peaceful haven, until he discovers a stranger dead on his living room rug.

From “The Organization.” A man, looking for a new adventure, joins a unique organization and quickly learns that getting what you want can sometimes lead to unimagined consequences.

From “The Long Ride.” Two couples set out on a vacation in Maine, only to find their dreamy trip has turned into a getaway nightmare.

Welcome to The Write Stuff, Gerard. I’m so happy you could join us. Your two previous works sound quite compelling. As for your most recent release, it’s always somewhat difficult to follow on the heels of success. What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges an author faces when putting together a short story collection is making certain all the stories look, and sound different. In this collection, plot, theme, voice, and rhythm change dramatically with every story so that each time the reader picks up the book, the stories are fresh and exciting.

Another way I made certain the stories are different is by writing solid, singular concepts that end with either a twist or an ironic conclusion. (Hence the title: A Sharp Bend in the Road.)

Is there anything you want to make sure potential readers know?

Yes, Raymond. I want readers to understand that the fun about this collection is that the reader never knows what the next story will bring. It’s a total surprise. Some stories are serious, while others are absurdly dark and humorous. Some stories are based in reality, while others are sprinkled with speculative fictional elements. I’ve even included a Maine ghost town story. The length of the stories vary considerably as well. Some stories are short, while others are an average length for short stories. The collection’s finale is a novella.

Tell us about your other works.

I wrote a mystery/thriller titled, The Deal Master. It’s a story based upon a popular 13th century tale. It’s filled with twits and turns and a surprising subplot that takes over and becomes the main thrust of the story. We filmed a Hollywood-style book trailer that I’m certain your readers will enjoy watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ilXHaugenQ

I also wrote a play titled, Discipline. It takes place in Manhattan. It’s a laugh-out-loud comedy whose meaning goes much deeper than first appears. The deepest truths can only be revealed through fiction. It’s also a love story and it’s available in book form.

Describe a typical day.

When I’m writing, my day begins early, usually about 4:30 a.m. The house is quiet. I write until about 7:30. Then the family gets up and our normal day-to-day life begins. My girlfriend and I have three dogs so they need attention – breakfast, walks, etc.

In the afternoon I spend a few hours on marketing. Then another hour or two writing until dinner. Then it’s dinner and a movie – every night. I love watching movies to see how other writers structure their work, or not.

Off to bed around 10 or 11 p.m. Then back at it the following day.

That’s a rigorous schedule. What motivates or inspires you (not necessarily as regards your writing)?

I’m passionate about art, music, the theater, and of course good writing, all of which inspires me. I’m also inspired by moments that ignite in my brain. It might be a thought, an expression someone uses, or a fleeting glance. And I love the sea. We live a block off the ocean in Maine, and daily beach walks with the pups invigorate me and stir my imagination.

How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

I’m optimistic and I have a positive outlook on life. But, of course, no one is immune to adversity, it either sneaks up on you, or it comes crashing down. I suppose my attitude on life can best be summed up by one of my characters from the title story, “A Sharp Bend in the Road,” in my new book. “Life,” he says, “is like a road that twists and turns from the time you’re born until the day you say good-bye. And if you don’t twist and turn with it, you’ll run smack into a brick wall. There’s nothing you can do about adversity. So live with it. But live, damn it! Don’t fight life. Fight to live life the way it was meant to be lived—with gusto, no matter how old you are.”

That’s a wonderful attitude—realistic as well. Before we conclude, it’s time for the Lightning Round. Please answer the following as concisely as possible:

If I were to ask your best friend about you, what would your friend say?

My best friend would tell you I’m determined.

What is the one thing you cannot do without?

The one thing I cannot do without is the creative process.

What, of all the things you can think of, bothers you the most?

My biggest peeve is people who don’t understand the concept that we’re all in this together, and we need to help each other.

Who are you most proud of?

The person I’m most proud of is my son.

Thanks for the time you’ve spent with us today. It’s always fun to introduce my visitors to someone unique.

If any of you, who’ve dropped by to listen in, would like to learn more about Gerard, here are some links to help you. Please note you can order signed copies of Gerard’s books on his website:

Website:                      www.gerardbianco.com

Author email:             writingcenter@gerardbianco.com

Blog:                            www.gerardbianco.blogspot.com

Facebook Fan Page:    https://www.facebook.com/GerardBiancoWriterEnRoute

Twitter:                       https://twitter.com/GerardFBianco

Google +:                    google.com/+GerardBianco

Amazon link to “A Sharp Bend in the Road” Kindle Edition:

http://www.amazon.com/Sharp-Bend-Road-Intriguing-Stories-ebook/dp/B00S50CY7O/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1421349884

Amazon link to “A Sharp Bend in the Road” paperback edition

http://www.amazon.com/Sharp-Bend-Road-Intriguing-Stories/dp/1491753617/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1421349884&sr=8-1

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Gerard-Bianco/e/B00770UC90/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Gerard’s Writer Coaching Programs: http://www.writercoachingprograms.com/

The Write Stuff – Monday, November 17 – Interview With Melissa Foster

Today’s interview concludes this year’s series and I couldn’t be more delighted with my guest. One of the world’s most successful self-published authors, she is a New York Times, USA Today and Amazon best-selling author. If that’s not enough, this year Melissa won five, count ’em, Readers Favorite awards! This powerhouse, who writes seven days a week, often twelve to fifteen hours per day, is currently turning out one novel per month, aided by a team of editors, artists and formatters. She has so far sold more than one million copies of her novels that encompass the genres of women’s literature, thriller and romance and generate a six figure monthly income for her. While Amazon rates Nora Roberts as the number one romance author, my guest has ranked between number nine and number twenty-five. Of all authors, all genres, all countries worldwide, she’s typically in the top 100, although that changes hourly. That’s not bad for someone who was still waiting to be published only six years ago.

Mel Author Photo brickWhile these details are certainly impressive, to my mind they are the least impressive part of who this woman is. Not content to have risen to the pinnacle of success, she devotes large portions of her already over-loaded schedule to mentoring other aspiring authors, teaching them the ins and outs of marketing and connecting them with resources such as editors, formatters and cover artists. Her untiring efforts have launched the careers of many who were waiting impatiently in the wings, mine included.

Whether you are a reader or a writer, whether you are a regular visitor to this website or have landed here as a result of social network advertising—even by accident—it is my undisguised pleasure to introduce you to Melissa Foster.

Melissa, will you tell us exactly when and why you chose to self publish?

I decided to self publish in 2009 because rejections were plentiful and more importantly, they were demeaning. I wanted to see what readers thought of my work and realized that agents’ and traditional publishers’ scope of interest was quite narrow. I’m glad I did!

Very few self-published authors have experienced your degree of success. Will you tell us a bit about your path to publication and the road beyond?

FOSTER_Traces_Kara_final_awardSure! When I began self publishing there weren’t many supporters of self publishing. I decided early on that I wouldn’t let the naysayers hold me back, and I pushed forward, learning as much as I could about the publishing industry, book marketing, and reaching readers. My second book took off (CHASING AMANDA) and I remember the day I realized I’d sold 60,000 copies in a month. I think my entire mindset changed at that point—and it pushed me to work harder and spread my wings to help other authors learn to do the same.

Exciting things seem to be happening to you all the time. Any new events you’d like to share?

Oh goodness, I have huge news but I can’t share it yet. I’m on the verge of some very exciting ventures! But what I can share is my new series due out next April, HARBORSIDE NIGHTS. I’ve been waiting two years to write this new adult series, and I’m finally diving in later this year. HARBORSIDE NIGHTS is a sexy, hot, and evocatively real New Adult Romance series that follows a group of friends who have known one another for years as “summer” friends, and now come together after college to build their lives. They’re tough, edgy, and accepting—most of the time. This series will be written in the loving, raw, and emotional voice my readers have come to love.

I’m sure we all want to hear what’s brewing when the moment is right. For now, though, I’d like to find out a little more about Melissa the person. For starters, what life experiences have inspired or enriched your writing?

I think every life experiences enriches my writing. I learn and grow from everything I do.

Describe a typical day.

To an outsider, I’m possibly the most boring person on earth – but in my eyes, I’m the luckiest woman on the planet. In addition to taking kids to school and picking them up, and other motherly duties, I typically check email, catch up on social media, and handle non-writing work from 7:00 am-8:45 am, then I write until 2:45, pick up kids, and write again from 4-whenever I feel like I am done, which ranges from 6-midnight. I walk on my treadmill while I write from 9-11 each day (and wish I could walk longer, but my knees won’t take it). This year I’m adding a morning weight workout to my routine, so that will bump my schedule a bit, but hopefully it’ll be worth it. I take social media (or sanity) breaks several times each hour. In addition, I handle my businesses (World Literary Café and Fostering Success) throughout the day.

I’ve seen photos of your new home in Maryland and must admit it’s quite beautiful. That said, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

This is easy for me to answer. Cape Cod. It’s my favorite place on earth.

What other interests do you have, aside from writing and your other well-known passion, chocolate?

Oh Raymond, you have let my secret out! I have a few other interests, although most I do while enjoying my chocolate addiction. I love to read, and I love to exercise. Painting is always joyful, although I have little time for that any more with my writing schedule.

Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share with us?

Yes “Enjoy each and every day. No one else can do it for you.” I made it up years ago and I live by it.

It takes a very special individual to achieve what you’ve done, so I’m wondering how you pick yourself up in the face of adversity.

I remember my mother’s face any time I’ve complained about something that stands in my way. She wrinkles her brow and her response is usually something like, “Yeah? And? What are you going to do about it?” In other words, everyone can complain—what can you do to make things better? She’s always been a source of inspiration and strength, and I thank God for her on a daily basis.

If I spoke to your closest friend about you, what would he or she tell me?

Luckily, my best friends would never share my secrets, so she’d probably say I was stubborn, a rule breaker, and that if I want to accomplish something, watch out world, because here I come!

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

I’d make chocolate fat and calorie free.

Hah! Why am I not surprised? Alright then, what makes you laugh?

My husband. He’s a joy to be around. And puppies. They always make me laugh.

What is your greatest life lesson?

There are so many, but the one that serves me best is noted above. When faced with a roadblock there are three routes we can take. We can stop. We can turn around and retreat, or we can stay on track and find a way over or around it. That’s my path.

Lightning round, Melissa. As briefly as possible, please answer the following:

The one thing I cannot do without is:

Writing, chocolate, and my family. Sorry – three things.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Persistence and happy thoughts.

Hard copy or ebook?

Paperback—except when traveling or lying in bed, then ebook.

Vice? Virtue?

Neither. Valor.

Favorite movie:

Secret Life of Bees

These few moments have passed all too quickly. Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Yes, I’d like to thank you for hosting me with such a fun interview, and I’d like to thank readers who have picked up my books and/or shared them with friends, and readers who have reached out to me on social media and via email. I love hearing from you! Please continue to reach out. xox

Thank you, Melissa, for taking the time to share with us.

To help my visitors contact or follow Melissa, here are several links:

Writers who are looking for assistance in their quest for self publication would do well to check out:      http://www.fostering-success.com/

To find additional related information or locate the type of resources mentioned above:     http://www.worldliterarycafe.com

To visit Melissa’s website:  www.MelissaFoster.com

Facebook:      https://www.facebook.com/MelissaFosterAuthor

Twitter:          http://www.twitter.com/melissa_Foster

Amazon:        http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Foster/e/B002LTT7U2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

 

 

The Write Stuff – Monday, October 20 – Interview With Michelle Weidenbenner

Today, The Write Stuff features Michelle Weidenbenner. Both her YA Thrillers, To Cache a Predator and Scattered Links won Readers’ Favorite gold medals this year. She has won other awards as well. This is no small accomplishment and this is not the first time her name has come up on this website. I had considered featuring this remarkable writer early on, but instead she pointed me to Oliver Dahl, my first interviewee. It’s her turn now. When I asked her to describe herself, this is what she told me:

Author Photo 2014 #1Michelle is a full time employee of God’s kingdom, writing and encouraging writers every day. She’s often a sucker for emotional stories, her sensitive side fueling the passion for her character’s plights, often giving her the ability to show readers the “other” side of the story.

She grew up in the burbs of Detroit with five brothers. No sisters. Each time her mom brought the boy bundle home from the hospital Michelle cried, certain her mom liked boys better than girls. But when her brothers pitched in with the cooking, cleaning, and babysitting–without drama, Michelle discovered having brothers wasn’t so bad. They even taught her how to take direct criticism without flinching, which comes in handy with book reviews.

Michelle is living her dream–writing every day and thanking God for the stories He puts in her path. She’s a random girl who writes in random genres.

When Michelle isn’t writing she’s winning ugly on the tennis court. She’s known as “Queen of the Rim Shots.” No joke. It’s ugly.

There’s not enough space here to shine a spotlight on both her gold medal winners, so we’ve decided to focus on Cache. The Midwest Review has this to say about it:

Cache a Predator isn’t a one-dimensional story of one man’s vendetta: it’s also about mystery and suspense wrapped up in the modern art of geocaching (thus the title)…that’s part of the allure of Cache a Predator, which uses this urban game to the best advantage in the context of a urban mystery.

Any who look for deep psychological elements in their mysteries will find this a satisfying read, moving beyond the usual one-dimensional focus on mystery to reach out and tweak the reader’s heart.

—D. Donovan, Reviewer

Here’s an excerpt:

Cache-A-Predator-AMAZON-GOLDWhen she finally fell asleep, she dreamed she was a child again. That she and her brother were playing tag outside near the barn, and their mother was calling to them, standing in the front yard with a kite in her hand. She played out some of the string, and the kite’s rainbow colors sailed back and forth in the wind. She said, “Come, I’ll teach you how to fly a kite.”

Sarah and Dean giggled and ran to her, running against the wind. But the wind’s force pushed Sarah back and made her run harder to gain distance. She gulped air and lost her breath. The more she ran toward her mother, the farther the wind pushed her back. She yelled, “I’m coming, Mama.” But the wind took the sound of her words away. Her mama kept waving for them to come.

Dean held Sarah’s hand. Little brother, Dean. His tiny arms and legs like thin tree branches. He was always small for his age and sickly. She tightened her grip on his hand, certain the wind would blow him away from her if she didn’t. “Hold tight, little brother. We’ll get there.”

But the more they tried, the farther they fell back, until finally Sarah couldn’t see her mother anymore. She’d disappeared. The wind died, and their father loomed above them. His yellow teeth, his bent nose, and the scar on his forehead stared back at them. When she heard his deranged, boisterous laugh she screamed, which made him laugh all the more.

Sarah bolted upright in bed, her heart racing. Perspiration crawled down her neck like ants marching up a tree. Why had the old man suddenly appeared in her dreams here in her mother’s room? It was like he was taunting her, saying, “You can’t escape me.” Oh, how she hated him.

Chilling! Michelle, in your own words, will you tell us what this story is about?

Cache a Predator is a story of one man’s pursuit to gain custody of his five-year-old daughter. But first he must convince a judge, child protective services, and a deranged vigilante that he’s a loving father.

I always ask about the underlying story, the story behind the story. Will you fill us in?

So many children are living with their grandparents because of illness or unemployment. We had to help our son and daughter-in-law with our grandgirls for a period of time when our son lost his job. During that time, I discovered many other grandparents were raising their grandchildren too. My oldest granddaughter helped me brainstorm this series of chapter books. I learn a lot from her.

What are you working on now?

Several different things at once. One is a YA novel about a world where kids with powers are shunned and killed. Another is a mid-grade novel about a twelve-year-old boy who has to save the canine race. Both are supernatural. I’m also working on a few non-fiction projects and will publish the second book in my children’s chapter book series, Éclair Meets a Gypsy, late this year.

You do work in a number of genres. Why is this?

I write in random genres because I can’t seem to hone my imagination to only one. I write the stories that move me.

Why is your writing different?

My writing seems simpler, easier to read. There isn’t a ton of description, but enough to set the stage. I’ve been told I write about difficult subjects. This is true, but again, it’s what seems to move me to a strong emotion.

That said, why should someone buy Cache?

Readers who like a quick thriller, one they can’t put down, and are interested in learning about geocaching will like Cache a Predator. It’s hidden in geocaching sites all around the US and Canada to bring awareness to child abuse. The books’ goals are to travel to all 50 states and each Canadian province. Some books have traveled more than 5000 miles. It’s fun to watch how they travel, but it’s really fun to chat with geocachers so far away.

Tell us a bit about your path to publication.

I had an agent for a year and a half who was shopping my YA novel (which hasn’t been published yet) but after a few rejections, and waiting for a publisher, I decided to self-publish. I’m an entrepreneur spirit—always have been. I wasn’t afraid of the marketing and the extra work involved in seeing my books in print. What I was afraid of was not publishing a perfect book. But is there such a thing? I learned that books are products and not everyone likes the same brand. However, I’m nit-picky about editing my work. I probably spend the most money on editors.

Do you have a writing routine?

I’m totally blessed that I can write full time. I typically get to my office around 8:30 or 9:00 and start with answering emails and then jump into my projects for the day. I wear many hats, but I recently hired a virtual assistant to help handle promos. I hope it frees up more writing time.

I have a desk treadmill so I work (like right now) while I walk about 2.0 miles an hour. In a typical week I walk about 18 miles. I don’t kill myself on it, but it feels great to move while I write.

As I told our visitors at the outset of this series, I am featuring award-winning authors. Please tell us about the awards you have won.

Scattered Links and Cache a Predator both won the GOLD Medal Award in the Readers’ Favorite International Awards. Scattered Links has won several other awards too: It was the Kindle Book Promo Award winner and a BRONZE Medal winner in Dan Poytner’s Global eBook Awards in the multi-cultural literature category. The fact that it won something in the “literature” category had me dancing on the sofa.

Athletic as you are, I can see that! And so many contests.

Indie authors have to enter contests to win. Not everyone can afford them though. Contests cost money to enter. So I’m a little choosy on which ones I enter. It’s also important to enter the right category. Some categories are more difficult because there are more entrants. Authors have to research sites and analyze what they see. Is the payout worth the expense?

What else have you written?

I write for a nurses’ aide magazine because I love the elderly, and it’s my way to help in their care. I’m also working with my pastor on articles to teach other pastors how to grow their churches. Like I said, I’m a bit random about what I write. I like to have a purpose though and typically write for a reason—to help a certain group.

I wrote Scattered Links after adopting our daughter from Russia. So many adoptive parents think that love is enough when they adopt or foster a child, but sometimes love is not enough. I wrote that story to bring awareness to RAD, reactive attachment disorder.

To give our visitors a better sense of Michelle, the person, let’s hear a little about your “other” life. Do you have another job outside of writing?

Does mother, wife and grandmother count?

Where would you live, if you could live anywhere?

I love where I live—close to my family. It’s not the most beautiful place, but my family matters more than anything to me, so it’s worth the compromise. But if I could move my family to the most beautiful place it might be to Colorado or New Mexico.

What is your dream job?

I’m living my dream job. Some day I want one of my books to make it to the big screen. Hey, a girl can dream, right? So I keep working at making that dream come true.

If I spoke to your closest friend about you, (s)he would tell me:

“Michelle is purpose-driven and goal-oriented. She works hard at what she loves, almost to a fault.”

I’m not the type to sit around and chit-chat if there isn’t a purpose, but I’m working on it. I know it’s important to interact and establish relationships, but sometimes all I can think about is getting back to work. To write.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.” ― R.J. Palacio, Wonder.

Before we bring this to a close, Michelle, a few Lightning Round questions:

The one thing I cannot do without is:

Tennis, but I know some day I will have to give it up. I’m getting older. I won’t be able to place forever.

Hard copy or ebook?

Ebooks rule because I can take them anywhere and open multiple ones at a time, flipping through them easily. However, if it’s a resource book I want to dog-ear the pages and hold it.

Favorite book:

For this week: The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion. I just finished it and loved it. But I have a different favorite every month. I give a lot of FIVE-STARS because I know how difficult it is to write a good story with all the necessary elements and proper editing. Last month it was Wonder, by R. J. Palacio.

I want to thank you so much for joining us, Michelle. Visitors who want to learn more about Michelle or are interested in buying her books can do so at the following links:

Twitter: @MWeidenbenner1

Blog: http://randomwritingrants.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Michelle-Weidenbenner/e/B00E21RMNG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

264 pages

Regular Price: $3.99

ISBN: 978-1490936390

Cover artist: Avalon Graphics

Random Publishing, LLC

Amazon Buying Links:   http://amzn.to/16MjTyP

Amazon Print Book Link: http://www.amazon.com/Cache-Predator-A-Geocaching-Mystery/dp/1490936394/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1407178641&sr=1-1

 

The Write Stuff – Monday, October 13 – Interview With Hank Phillippi Ryan

photo-68-primary headshotToday, I am inserting an interview between my regularly scheduled spots to feature a very special author. Hank Phillippi Ryan is an award-winning crime fiction author and the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate. She’s won 32 EMMYs, 12 Edward R. Murrows and dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism. A bestselling author of six mystery novels, Ryan has won multiple prestigious awards for her crime fictions: the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.” Her previous work, The Wrong Girl, has the extraordinary honor of winning the 2013 Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. A six-week Boston Globe bestseller, it is also an Anthony and Daphne Award nominee, a Patriot Ledger bestseller, and was dubbed “Another winner” in a Booklist starred review and “Stellar” by Library Journal. She’s a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of America University and 2013 president of national Sisters in Crime. She is a rare breed, as she managed to maintain two equally successful careers as a bestselling crime fiction author and award-winning investigative reporter.

Truth Be Told GALLEYHer latest thriller, Truth Be Told, was released on October 7. I’m happy to help her launch it.

Ms. Ryan, given your background, I suspect there is a story behind Truth Be Told. Would you care to fill us in?

That’s a question that some authors loathe…but I love! TRUTH BE TOLD is a puzzle in four parts.

Part one. My husband is a criminal defense attorney. When we first met, I asked: “Have you ever had a murder case where the defendant was convicted, but you still thought they were innocent?” His eyes softened a bit, and then he said: “Yes.” The man was charged with murder in the death of a young woman—the prosecution said he had lured her to a forest, and tied her to a tree.

Jonathan told me he still, to this day, thinks the man is innocent.

Hmmm. Idea.

Another puzzle piece? Another of Jonathan’s cases. A man in prison, incarcerated with a life sentence for shaking a baby to death, recently confessed to a cold-case murder. It’s very unlikely that he actually did it—so why would he confess?

Hmmm. Idea.

Another puzzle piece. We recently did a big story on abandoned homes in Boston. They are all places the banks have foreclosed on, where the owners have been evicted, and the houses are now empty. All are for sale. Many of them are neglected, with broken windows and overgrown lawns. But some are in good shape. While I was interviewing the head of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department about this, I began to wonder. What could be going on inside those forgotten empty houses?

Hmmmm. Idea.

I also thought about the people who had been evicted from those homes. People who’d gotten mortgages from banks with lots of money, but who through some failure of their lives, some catastrophe or disaster, some wrong decision or bad luck had not been able to keep up the payments. Wouldn’t there be something that could have ben done to prevent that? If a banker-type really cared about their customers, wouldn’t there be something that could be done to keep people out of foreclosure?

Hmmmm. Idea.

And finally, I was sitting at the computer in my TV station office, writing a story, and thinking about why I do what I do as a reporter. It’s making history, I decided. It’s creating the record of what happened in our lives, the comings and goings, that issues and the solutions, the documentation of how we live. And people believe it, right? What’s on TV and in the newspapers becomes a resource by which all is remembered and relied on.


And then I thought—what if some reporter decided not to tell the truth? Not big discoverable lie, but simply—little things. A sound bite, a reaction, a quote. Who would know? What difference might that make? And what would happen when the truth was finally told?

Hmmm. Idea.

And in the way we all do as authors, by spinning and polishing and twisting and turning, and shooting it full of a lot of adrenaline and a little romance, I got the key elements of Truth Be Told:

A mortgage banker turned Robin Hood decides to manipulate bank records to keep people out of foreclosure, a murder victim is found in a foreclosed home, a man confesses to the unsolved Lilac Sunday murder, and a reporter makes stuff up.

And when it all comes together in the end: TRUTH BE TOLD.

And now you know exactly where it came from.

That’s more than a little intriguing. Now, I have to say no one wins as many awards as you have by following the herd. Why is your writing different from other authors in this genre?


I have wired myself with hidden cameras, gone undercover and in disguise, confronted corrupt politicians and chased down criminals. My TV investigations have changed laws and changed lives—and I have 32 Emmys to show for it!

And it’s so fascinating to me that all those 40 years of reporting were not the end in themselves—but turns out, they were just the research to prepare me for my second career as a crime fiction author! So when my main character reporter, Jane Ryland, worries about stalkers, deadlines, breaking news, keeping her job, tracking down clues, following leads, doing research and making sure the bad guys get what’s coming to them—it’s all from my own experience! (Tweaked and polished and expanded, of course!) And that, I hope, is what brings authenticity–authentic suspense and authentic stakes—to the books.

What happens to Jane has—or could!—happened to me, or any hardworking reporter. Now, as one fellow reporter put it “She lives it, now she writes it!”

Do you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

Oh, gosh, I get over it by denying its existence. After all these years as a reporter—can you imagine what would happen if I went to my news director and said—You know, can I be on the air at ten after six instead of six? I’m just not feelin’ it right now… ”

I’d be laughed out of the business. So I know that some days, the writing isn’t going to be fabulous, but I also know it has to get done. So I persevere, and allow myself to be bad. I can always make it fabulous later!

I also think that when people feel they have writers block, it’s actually a signal from their writer brain that something is wrong—and a message to you to find it and fix it. Sometimes when I’m stuck—and that’s inevitable!—I scroll back fifty pages and just start reading. Often the mistake or the omission or the error in continuity or the plot glitch will appear, and ping! I can fix it and go on.

That’s marvelous advice. If I may pry a little, can you tell us a little about Hank the person? For example, if you could do anything differently, what would it be?

Not a thing. Not one little thing. The “mistakes” I have learned from .The joys—I count my blessings. It’s all good. (I might have learned how to play the piano, but still, no. That took time from something else that matters.)

What is your greatest life lesson?

Oh, gosh! I think I have learned not to worry. To try not to worry, at least. If I had to go back to my geeky unpopular bookish 10 year old self and tell her something—I would say—get ready, sweetheart, everything going to be great.

What are a few of your favorite authors?

Edith Wharton. Shakespeare. Tom Wolfe. Thomas Wolfe. Stephen King. Kent Krueger. Oh, so many! If I start listing contemporaries, the page will soon be full.

A few Lightning Round questions. Please fill in the blanks.

The one thing I cannot do without is:

Coffee. Paper and pencil. My husband. (fine, fine, in the opposite order.)

Hard copy or ebook?

Hard.

Vice? Virtue?

Yes, wine. (Is that a vice?) Virtue? I love to solve problems. And I am a good cook.

Favorite book:

Too hard. The Stand? Custom of the Country? Bonfire of the Vanities? Winters Tale?

Favorite movie:

Too hard. Lawrence of Arabia. To Kill A Mockingbird. Desk Set. The Godfather. Working Girl.

I can only imagine how hectic your schedule must be as your launch date approaches, so I want to thank you for taking the time to stop by and visit with us. Before I draw this interview to a close, do you have any closing thoughts you’d like to leave us with?

Two things. On a practical level— If you love a book? Please tell someone. Word of mouth is the most valuable commodity in publishing. (If you don’t like it… um, just don’t say anything.

And philosophically? I am so grateful to readers. I didn’t start writing until was 55, in the midst of a terrifically wonderful career as a journalist. I’m the poster child for following your dreams at midlife! So what is it YOU’D like to do? And what are you waiting for?

Ms. Ryan, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us.

For those of you who would like to learn more about the author, these are her social links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HankPhillippiRyanAuthorPage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HankPRyan

Website: http://www.hankphillippiryan.com/

You can find numerous links through which to purchase her books on her website. As a quick assist, here is her Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Be-Told-Jane-Ryland/dp/0765374935/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405641425&sr=1-1&keywords=0765374935&dpPl=1

TRUTH BE TOLD

Hank Phillippi Ryan

A Forge Hardcover

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7493-6

400 pages / $24.99

On-sale: October 7, 2014

Also available in E-book, ISBN: 978-0-7653-7497-4

Audio CD: 978-1-4272-4387-4

Digital Audio: 978-1-4272-4388-1

The Write Stuff – Monday, July 14 – Interview With Author Eden Baylee

This week, I am interviewing my long-time friend, Canadian author, Eden Baylee. Back in 2012, Eden and I were part of the writers’ blog, Black Ink, White Paper. It was a collaborative effort of a dozen or so authors wherein we shared all the experiences that influenced our work—not just the literary stuff, but our day trips, food, family life and all the other parts of our everyday existence. I always enjoyed our chemistry, so when I learned Eden was releasing her first full-length novel, I knew I had to bring her on board.

ebEden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to become a full-time writer. She incorporates many of her favorite things into her writing such as travel, humor, music, poetry, art and much more.

Stranger at Sunset is her first mystery novel, on the heels of several books of erotic anthologies and short stories. She writes in multiple genres.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop, surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often!

To stay apprised of Eden’s book-related news, please add your name to her mailing list.

Welcome, Eden! I am so excited to have you join us. I thoroughly expect Stranger at Sunset to carry the flavor of your previous works. Can you summarize it for us?

A vacation can be a killer. 

Dr. Kate Hampton, a respected psychiatrist, gathers with a group of strangers at her favorite travel spot, Sunset Villa in Jamaica. Included in the mix are friends of the owners, a businessman with dubious credentials, and a couple who won the trip from a TV game show.

It is January 2013, following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The luxury resort is struggling, not from the storm, but due to a scathing review from caustic travel writer, Matthew Kane. The owners have invited him back with hopes he will pen a more favorable review to restore their reputation.

Even though she is haunted by her own demons, Kate feels compelled to help. She sets out to discover the motivation behind Kane’s vitriol. Used to getting what he wants, has the reviewer met his match in Kate? Or has she met hers?

Stranger at Sunset is a slow-burning mystery/thriller as seen through the eyes of different narrators, each with their own murky sense of justice. As Kate’s own psychological past begins to unravel, a mysterious stranger at Sunset may be the only one who can save her.

I can already tell this book is a hot one. Aside from the plot, is there a story behind your book?

The book is all about the interaction of strangers, and the word ‘stranger’ has multiple meanings throughout the story. As adults, we are not usually forced into situations with people we do not like, so I wanted to explore a tense atmosphere with strangers, and to do it in a Jamaican resort which, by all accounts, should be a place of paradise and happiness.

The desires and motivations of the strangers in the story are not always clear, not even to themselves. In many ways, it reflects how I feel about people in real life. Sometimes we are strangers to ourselves.

We certainly are. The one thing I do know about you is that you’re never idle. What are you working on now?

I’m working on A Fragile Truce, which is the book that follows Stranger at Sunset and features the same protagonist, Dr. Kate Hampton. There is an excerpt of it at the end of my book.

That’s an indication of how far along you are. I must say, mysteries like these are departures from your previous work. Why have you chosen this particular genre?

I enjoy reading the mystery and thriller genres. There are many nuances contained in them and different ways to tell a story. I’m not a ‘blood and guts’ storyteller, so I don’t have the talent to write police procedurals or crime novels. Where my interest lies is in the motivations of people. That is why I classify my book as a psychological mystery/thriller, because much of it is based on intellectual mind games.

If someone were to ask why they should buy your book, what would you tell them?

The quick and dirty answer is: Buying my book is for entertainment and escapism. Though I was inspired to write it based on my own experiences and views of the world, there are no great life lessons in it.

I’ve read The Austrian and the Asian and enjoyed it very much. That says a lot about your skill as a writer, since not many men read or enjoy erotica. Will you touch on what else you have written?

Prior to Stranger at Sunset, I’ve written short stories, novellas, and flash fiction. They have all been in the erotica genre for the most part. This novel marks my venture into a new genre. It was a huge challenge for me, but I’m proud I pushed myself to do it.

As you should be. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone is a challenge for many of us. I should also tell our visitors how well-developed and layered your writing is. What life experiences or careers inspire or enrich your writing?

I was a banker for twenty years before I took up writing full time. Believe it or not, there are many stories from that period of my life. I just haven’t put them together in my head to create a book.

Music, people, and travel are the biggest inspirations for me.

As a writer, I find even the most mundane of life’s experiences fascinating, as often I need to incorporate those moments into my writing, and to do it in a way that interests the reader. Life, after all, is not always a fast-moving thriller. My book moves at a smoldering pace because I want to pull the reader in slowly.

Because I love the mystery and serendipity of life, I wanted to highlight both these elements in my fiction.

That’s smoldering, as in slow burn, as opposed to blistering. Let’s take a minute to look at your “other life”—your life outside writing. Where would you live, if you could live anywhere?

Thailand—for many reasons, but mainly because of the heat, the beaches, and the people. One of the most personal stories I’ve ever written, called “The Lottery” takes place in Thailand. If you read that book, you will understand why I have a special place in my heart for the Thai people, especially the women.

What is your dream job?

I’m doing it now. To be able to use my imagination to create stories that connect me to others … it’s remarkable.

Hah! That’s every author’s dream. If I spoke to your closest friend about you, what would he or she tell me?

Eden is whacky, creative, and directionally challenged. I hate when she gives me directions in a car because I’ll end up making three or four U-turns in one trip. The only reason we are still friends is because I now have GPS.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Life is a series of short stories pretending to be a novel” – Anonymous.

What makes you laugh?

Fart jokes. I don’t care how old you are, fart jokes are damn funny.

Now that is something I never would have guessed. OK. Lightning Round.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Curious and tolerant, or perhaps curiously tolerant. (And I can’t count. Sorry, Ray! )

Hard copy or ebook?

Both, depends on my mood.

Vice? Virtue?

Vice in fiction, virtue in real life.

Favorite book:

50 Shades of … NOT! Too many to name, I’m afraid.

Whew! I’m glad you didn’t go there. Favorite movie:

Anything with Anthony Hopkins in it.

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

First and foremost, thank you Ray, for your time and energy. It’s lovely of you to interview me given your own busy schedule. I truly appreciate the exposure and look forward to meeting one day for a scotch. You’re buying of course, right?

Uh… er… Would you care to share a little of your book, Eden? (Notice how deftly I changed the subject.)

Sas_KindleThe body plummeted two and a half stories into the sea. It bobbed between crests before foamy waves swept in and yanked it under the surface. The tide rushed out dragging its new possession deep into the ocean’s dark belly. Swells curled and collapsed against the shore. The evening breeze whistled an eerie tune.

Despite how tightly his fingers gripped the large barrels, the binoculars trembled in the man’s hands. He now wished he had bought the more powerful Porro-prism model. This less expensive design darkened the image, especially against a pale orange sky reflecting the chopped glass of the water. While adjusting the diopter ring behind his right eyepiece, he bit down on his lower lip.

A silhouette met his lens, haloed by the glow of the setting sun. With his breath thickening the atmosphere, he pressed the eyepiece harder against his face to stop from shaking.

The woman stood naked with her hair pinned up, loose strands trailing down the nape of her slender neck. Her palms rested on the metal railing of the balcony. As she stared out at the churning sea, he zoomed in on her face, then moved his binoculars downward to her breasts, lingering there longer than he should have. Slowly, he lowered his gaze to her flat stomach. Firm thighs extended off the arc of round buttocks. A dancer’s body—willowy and muscular, but not too muscular, she was beauty and grace, and yet, what she just did …

A hint of dark pubic hair blurred past his lens. While he re-calibrated the magnification, she drifted out of focus. When he brought her back in view, her contemplative mood had changed. She moved a chair to the corner of the terrace. Gathering up a pile of bed sheets, she crossed the threshold into the room and scurried out of view.

He dared not avert his eyes. The light was fading fast, and night would soon fall upon the villa like a magician’s cape. With his elbows pressed to his sides, he loosened his grip on the binoculars and tried to flex his aching fingers.

She had to come back, right?

The doors leading to the patio were still wide open. Secluded in his dark corner of the island, he spied the room as if ogling a dollhouse with its front wall sheared off, scaled down to about the same size too.

The naked woman strolled back into his field of vision as a cramp sneaked up on him. A painful twitch stabbed his wrist, reminded him of old wounds. He dropped the binoculars secured by a strap around his neck to shake out both his hands. By the time he brought the lens to his face again, she had disappeared, no … wait, she popped up from behind the bed carrying two pillows. With an unhurried pace, she stepped out on the balcony and propped the cushions on the chair, even fluffed them before re-entering the suite. She closed the wooden French doors behind her.

The light in her room replaced the sun’s blush, a poor substitute given a set of floor-to-ceiling jalousies bracketed his view. He waited to see what she would do next. His breathing deafened his ears as if he were wheezing through a mask; adrenaline pumped in his veins. She moved in front of the window facing him. With hands on her hips, legs spread apart, she stood full frontal and stared straight at him. He shrank back and jostled her image.

Could she see him?

 

If you would like to read more from Stranger at Sunset, or learn more about the author, please check out the following links:

 

Amazon:         http://authl.it/B00L7BVDFM

Website:          http://www.edenbayleebooks.com/

Blog:                http://edenbaylee.com/

Twitter:           https://twitter.com/edenbaylee

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/edenbaylee

Goodreads:      https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4563150.Eden_Baylee

Linkedin:         http://bit.ly/edlinkedin

Google+:         https://plus.google.com/108816906889719718910/posts

Pinterest:         http://www.pinterest.com/edenbaylee/

The Write Stuff – Monday, May 5 – Interview With Author Giacomo Giammatteo

This edition of The Write Stuff moves into different territory. When I began this series, I promised to present authors of interest. I doubt you will find anyone more interesting than mystery and non-fiction author, Giacomo Giammatteo. With so many titles to his credit and such glowing reviews about his work, I hardly knew where to begin this interview. I thought I would play it safe by asking Jim, as I have grown to know him, to tell us a little about himself. He chose to describe himself this way:

Giacomo & Slick 3andAhalf Inch

I live in Texas now, but I grew up in Cleland Heights, a mixed ethnic neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware, that sat on the fringes of the Italian, Irish and Polish neighborhoods. The main characters of Murder Takes Time grew up in Cleland Heights and many of the scenes in the book were taken from real-life experiences.

Somehow I survived the transition to adulthood, but when my kids were young I left the Northeast and settled in Texas, where my wife suggested we get a few animals. I should have known better; we now have a full-blown animal sanctuary with rescues from all over. At last count we had 41 animals—12 dogs, a horse, a three-legged cat and 26 pigs. Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with me every day and happens to also be my best buddy.

Since this is a bio, some of you might wonder what I do. By day I am a headhunter, scouring the country for top talent to fill jobs in the biotech and medical device industry. In the evening I help my wife tend the animals, and at night—late at night—I turn into a writer. I write mysteries and non-fiction career books. I also have a series of epic fantasies planned; the first three are written.

Jim, in brief, what is Murder Takes Time about?

Nicky Fusco thought he knew right from wrong, living by an oath of friendship & honor with his three best friends. But life took them down separate paths, and the oath was broken. Secrets were kept. Years later they are reunited and the bonds of their friendship are brutally tested, putting them on a collision course set in motion long ago.

Murder Takes Time is not a typical murder mystery or mob story. It is a thriller, a romance, and a coming-of-age story that rips your heart out. By the time you’re done reading it, you just might find yourself rethinking the definition of friendship & honor—even right and wrong.

Three boys, one girl. Friendship, honor, love—betrayal. It ends with murder.

Wow! That’s quite a concept. Since I know from personal experience that every story has a seed, what prompted you to write this one and why should someone buy it?

Many of the stories in this book are true, mostly of the kids in the early days. The neighborhood described is where I grew up.

I guarantee a good read. Literally. If you don’t like my books, or don’t feel you got your money’s worth, I’ll give you a refund or a new book. I have it posted on both of my sites. No one has taken me up on it yet.

What are you working on now?

Always a tricky question. I tend to work on a lot of things at once, and at different stages of development. So, I have just put up my second career book  on pre-order (No Mistakes Interviews), and I am doing the final edit on A Bullet From Dominic, the second book in the Blood Flows South series. I am also close to finishing the draft on Murder Takes Patience, the third in the Friendship & Honor series, and I am plotting a novella, and also the fourth and final book in my fantasy series.

Right from the start, I said you have numerous titles to your credit. That brings up the question, how do you overcome writer’s block?

Fortunately, I have never had to deal with that.

Some say marketing a book is more difficult than writing it, yet you’ve bee very successful at this. What is your marketing strategy?

When you find a strategy that works, please let me know. I have been experimenting with a lot. I can tell you what I don’t do, and that’s give books away for free in mass quantities.

Hah! Can you tell us what life experiences inspire or enrich your writing?

I guess growing up in the city in a big family and among various ethnic groups. That was a wonderful experience.

Between all of the animals and your day job, how do you find time to write? What’s a typical day?

  • Wake up about 7, feed a few of the animals. (we have a sanctuary with 45 animals).
  • Drink coffee.
  • Work in my day job, headhunting in the biotech/medical device industries.
  • More coffee.
  • Feed animals at noon.
  • Back to headhunting.
  • More coffee.
  • Feed more animals at around 5-6 PM.
  • More coffee.
  • Eat dinner around 8:00 and then start writing.
  • Write until about midnight or so. Start all over the next day.

 A few quick questions. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Italy. No question about it.

How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

Knowing that picking yourself up is required. That’s what must be done.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Do you have any pet projects?

Continuing our work with animals that need help.

What makes you laugh?

Almost anything. But especially little kids and animals.

What are a few of your favorite authors?

Alexandre Dumas, Luciano DeCrescenzo, Frank Herbert, John Sandford.

I enjoy multiple genres, as well. Alright, Jim, before I share an excerpt from Murder Takes Time with our visitors, as well as links to more of your work, let’s try a lightning round.

 The one thing I cannot do without is:

Coffee/espresso, garlic, pasta. (I can’t limit it to one)

 In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Persistence.

Hard copy or ebook?

Doesn’t matter.

Vice? Virtue?

Coffee, garlic, pasta.

Hah! I think I see a pattern here. Favorite book:

The Count of Monte Cristo

Favorite movie:

The Phantom of the Opera (2004 version)

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

If you like a book, tell someone about it.

I asked Jim to provide a brief excerpt from Murder Takes Time. Here it is, for your enjoyment:

 Murder takes time Final-a

GG: Murder Takes Time

Published 4/15/2012

 

Chapter 1

Rule Number One―Murder Takes Time

 

Brooklyn, New York—Current Day

He sipped the last of a shitty cup of coffee and stared across the street at Nino Tortella, the guy he was going to kill. Killing was an art, requiring finesse, planning, skill—and above all—patience. Patience had been the most difficult to learn. The killing came naturally. He cursed himself for that. Prayed to God every night for the strength to stop. But so far God hadn’t answered him, and there were still a few more people that needed killing.

The waitress leaned forward to refill his cup, her cleavage a hint that more than coffee was being offered. “You want more?”

He waved a hand—Nino was heading towards his car. “Just the check, please.”

From behind her ear she pulled a yellow pencil, tucked into a tight bun of red hair, then opened the receipt book clipped to the pocket of her apron. Cigarette smoke lingered on her breath, almost hidden by the gum she chewed.

Spearmint, he thought, and smiled. It was his favorite, too.

He waited for her to leave, scanned the table and booth, plucked a few strands of hair from the torn cushion and a fingernail clipping from the windowsill. After putting them into a small plastic bag, he wiped everything with a napkin. The check was $4.28. He pulled a five and a one from his money clip and left them on the table. As he moved to the door he glanced out the window. Nino already left the lot, but it was Thursday, and on Thursdays Nino stopped for pizza.

He parked three blocks from Nino’s house, finding a spot where the snow wasn’t piled high at the curb. After pulling a black wool cap over his forehead, he put leather gloves on, raised the collar on his coat then grabbed his black sports bag. Favoring his left leg, he walked down the street, dropping his eyes if he passed someone. The last thing he wanted was a witness remembering his face.

He counted the joints in the concrete as he walked. Numbers forced him to think logically, kept his mind off what he had to do. He didn’t want to kill Nino. He had to. It seemed as if all of his life he was doing things he didn’t want to do. He shook his head, focused on the numbers again.

When he drew near the house, he cast a quick glance to ensure the neighbors’ cars weren’t there. The door took less than thirty seconds to open. He kept his hat and gloves on, walked into the kitchen, and set his bag on the counter. He removed a pair of tongs and a shot glass, and set them on the coffee table. A glance around the room had him straightening pictures and moving dirty dishes to the sink. A picture of an older woman stared at him from a shelf above an end table. Might be his mother, he thought, and gently set it face down. Back to the kitchen. He opened the top of the black bag and removed two smaller bags. He set one in the fridge and took the other with him.

The contents of the second bag—hair and other items—he spread throughout the living room. The crime scene unit would get a kick out of that. He did one final check, removed a baseball bat from the bag, then sat on the couch behind the door. The bat lay on the cushion beside him. While he stretched his legs and leaned back, he thought about Nino. It would be easy to just shoot him, but that wouldn’t be fair. Renzo suffered for what he did; Nino should too. He remembered Mamma Rosa’s warnings, that the things people did would come back to haunt them. Nino would pay the price now.

A car pulled into the driveway. He sat up straight and gripped the bat.

For more of  Giacomo Giammatteo’s work:

Online sales links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007UNJJYI

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/NK6oqO

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/murder-takes-time/id593283220?mt=11

Google: http://bit.ly/1jmALEe

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/MURDER-TAKES-TIME/book-EYyE6dSy0GSQM4cu9IIzg/page1.html?s=gm40hRi4bEiPA241VefjbA&r=2

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=giacomo+giammatteo

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/giacomo4giammatteo

 

Website, blog and online social accounts:

http://giacomogiammatteo.com

http://nomistakes.org

https://twitter.com/JimGiammatteo

http://www.facebook.com/GiacomoGiammatteo

www.pinterest.com/jgiammatteo

http://gplus.to/GiacomoGiammatteo

http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimgiammatteo