Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: Hollowland

Book Review: Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

Let me preface this by saying that I hate zombie movies.  I tried watching that English zombie movie, 28 days later…or maybe it was weeks…either way, I made it through the initial scene and still to this day have nightmares about it. Needless to say Zombies are not my thing.  But…

Amanda Hocking is brilliant when she promotes the release of new books.  Since Hollowmen was about to be released she gave away a free eBook copy of Hollowland and who can pass down a free book?  Not me apparently!

So there I was.  New book and the thrill of meeting new characters, even though I highly doubted many of them would survive long in a zombie horror book.  I dove in, cringing I might add, with both feet.

Two things I noticed right away. 
1. Amanda Hocking’s books are flowing better now that she has more writing under her belt.  Well done Amanda!
2. It wasn’t nearly gruesome as I’d thought it would be.

That being said I made the enormous mistake of reading a good portion of the middle late at night.  Not even the gentle snores erupting from my husband could calm my nerves.  The lights went out…and that’s when the magic began.

My mind went berserk.  Every creak in the house, howl of the wind as it buffeted against the siding or the obnoxious groan of my dog sent my imagination into hyper drive.  It was a long night!  That’s when you can confidently say that you’ve read a good book.

But did I enjoy Hollowland?  Hard to say really.  Probably best to answer that after I’ve had a good nights sleep!

I did enjoy that for the first time Amanda Hocking created a kick butt kind of heroine.  Remy is bold, confident and ready to survive.  I liked that!

The characters were engaging, wording flowed far better than previous books and only a couple typos! 

Overall I would rate this book as a 4 out of 5 stars because I’m sure if you like zombies this would be a great book.  For me it was entertaining…and I might even take a peek at the sequel. 

Note to parents: PLEASE preview this book before allowing your children to read.  It does contain some disturbing scenes.

Book Review: Vanish by Sophie Jordan

The sequel to Sophie Jordan’s Firelight did not disappoint.  The tales of forbidden love have always been a favorite of mine and the Firelight series has been a favorite of mine since the day I stumbled across it a year ago.

The idea of Draki, a dragon/human shape shifter was certainly a nice change from the norm.  Throw into the mix a destiny that  would force Jacinda into the arms of her people’s prince and a mother who will risk at nothing to save her daughter from being used to breed other fire breathing dragons and you get a very interesting turn of events.

Jacinda is forced to leave her people behind and hide out in the desert where her mother hopes her Draki will wither and die.  The hot dry temps nearly succeed until Jacinda meets Will, a Draki hunter and her lifelong enemy.

The forbidden love triangle progresses with thrilling events and skillful prose on the part of Sophie Jordan.  The end of Firelight is a huge cliff hanger and leaves you begging for more.  Enter Vanish.   

After a rare turn of events, Jacinda is forced to leave Will behind, with the doubt that he will even remember her.  Jacinda’s return to her people is filled with trouble as punishment after punishment is handed out.  Her life becomes not only miserable but complicated as her people’s prince, Cassian, reveals his feelings for Jacinda. 

She almost tricks herself into believing she can start over until Will walks right into the heart of her village.  Events race with furious speeds all the way until the end.  Another cliff hanger and more groans at the reality of having to wait for the next book to be released!

Love the writing, love the characters and love Sophie Jordan.  A must read for any teen looking for a good romantic story!

Should you pay for a book review?

This is a question that I have asked myself quite a bit.  Should book bloggers/reviewers charge authors to review their books? 

My honest opinion…no.  But that’s just me.  I write for the same reason I read.  I love doing it!  It’s an escape and I know many of you feel the same way.

On my blog www.self-published-authors.blogspot.com I offer free book reviews to anyone who writes in genres that I enjoy.  The only charge is that you give me a free copy of your ebook.  Not bad eh?  I thought so!

Why am I writing about this?  Because this subject has been broached a couple times recently.  Self published authors fight tooth and nail to get their name and books out there.  It’s rough…especially when sales are slow and editor/book cover costs keep rising.  How are we to earn a living to help support our families when we have to pay for book reviews too?

That is why I offer free book reviews.  Because it’s the right thing to do to help my fellow authors.  I’m always in need of someone willing to give me a fair review just as so many others are.  To charge just seems wrong to me…but that is for each person to decide.  Is it worth $200 dollars to get a single book review that may or may not go in your favor? 

You decide.

Mile Stone

As an author, can you honestly say there is anything more amazing for you than the day you receive your first royalty check?  Apart from maybe a glowing book review of course!

Today is that day for me.  It's small, insignificant to most, but to me it's one of the best days in my life.  Why?  Because not only did I decide to believe in myself as a writer but I've got something to prove it. 

This is the first day that being a writer feels like a career.  It's easy to watch your Amazon numbers go up and up but until that equates into money it's just a number on a screen.  Today it's something I can tangibly hold on to.

What a blessing...no matter how big or small the amount might be!

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo Winner

I did it!  I completed 50,000 words during the month of November.  Well done to all of you who have done the same and to those of you struggling to finish...stop watching tv, reading a book or goofing off on Facebook.  Write!

Now...my thoughts on this journey for those of you who haven't attempted this feat yet.

  • Trying to work on a sequel which takes a lot of thinking and planning is not a good idea for Nano
  • Editing...yeah I still have to do it as I go!
  • Word counter how I love to hate you!
  • Writing buddies are invaluable
  • The feeling you get when you know you've reached your goal...PRICELESS!
For those of you who have never given Nano a try I highly suggest you do so next year. 

Many people look at the 50,000 word mark and convince themselves they can't do it.  Trust me...it can be done but it takes a lot of effort, time management and a good idea.

My goal for next year's Nano:
  • start a completely new project for Nano
  • stop obsessively updating my word count
  • spend time helping others reach their goals
  • increase word count to 70,000
  • do my "I did it" dance again!

Book Review: One-legged Seagull

Book Description:
Did you ever wonder what specific steps you can take to transform your life, so you can experience more inner peace? Have you ever thought that books about self-transformation are too vague to be helpful, filled with pie-in-the-sky platitudes and difficult-to-follow instructions? Take a journey with Ehud and Simon, as they discover strategies and techniques that help them change frustration and anger into peace of mind. Ehud, a young teenager, meets Simon after a terrible personal disaster--failing his green belt test at the local dojo. Together they learn how to handle life's ups and downs with more grace and patience. Discover how Ehud and Simon are linked in a mysterious, behind-the-scenes way. Their connection points up the way that all of consciousness is a part of one whole reality, a reality defined by compassion and the unfolding potential for joy. Decipher these and other mysteries, in an easy to read format outlined in my new fictional story, One-Legged Seagull, a Warrior's Journey to Inner Peace.

About the Author:
Joey Avniel is passionate about helping people to find their own inner peace. As a former officer in the army he mastered the way of the warrior, but was missing the essential components of peace and happiness. After his service he started to search his own path to inner peace. He received self-improvement training, and then trained others through several different self-improvement programs. Eventually he developed what he calls "The Artist Path," a path that guides anyone, even a warrior to find his own inner peace.
Joey's training includes energetic healing, self empowerment teaching, and first aid for suicidal people. Today he's an author and a speaker on the subject of inner peace. He is the co-founder of the publishing house - Barefoot Mind Inspiration and the co-creator of the website - mysuicidalthoughts.com - which helps people deal with and overcome suicidal thoughts.

My Review:
One-Legged Seagull
By: Joey Avneil

A well written book that deals with real life situations that each of us face at some point during our lives.  The book flows well and is easy to read.  Although the subject matter is not something I agree with, I am sure it will help many who are looking for ways to find peace within themselves.  This inspirational self help story would be entertaining for teen and adult.

Rating: 4 stars
About the Author:
Joey Avniel is passionate about helping people to find their own inner peace. As a former officer in the army he mastered the way of the warrior, but was missing the essential components of peace and happiness. After his service he started to search his own path to inner peace. He received self-improvement training, and then trained others through several different self-improvement programs. Eventually he developed what he calls "The Artist Path," a path that guides anyone, even a warrior to find his own inner peace.
Joey's training includes energetic healing, self empowerment teaching, and first aid for suicidal people. Today he's an author and a speaker on the subject of inner peace. He is the co-founder of the publishing house - Barefoot Mind Inspiration and the co-creator of the website - mysuicidalthoughts.com - which helps people deal with and overcome suicidal thoughts.

My Review:
One-Legged Seagull
By: Joey Avneil

A well written book that deals with real life situations that each of us face at some point during our lives.  The book flows well and is easy to read.  Although the subject matter is not something I agree with, I am sure it will help many who are looking for ways to find peace within themselves.  This inspirational self help story would be entertaining for teen and adult.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Free Author Interview: Leigh Lane

Where can we find your book?
You can find my most recent release World-Mart online at Amazon, although it will be available soon through more online retailers, such as Barnes and Noble.  Here is a link to my Amazon author page.

How much does it cost?
The paperback is $10.99 and the Kindle/ePub is $4.99.

Tell us a little about your book.
World-Mart is a dystopia inspired by the growing role of corporations in government.  It imagines a world in which “Corporate” owns everything and everyone is reduced to a bar code on a nametag.  The story follows one family in their struggle to survive in a world that is literally crumbling all around them.

Do you have any upcoming projects?
Yes.  I’m currently writing a speculative horror/psychological thriller.  Sorry, but this one is top-secret until I’m finished with it.

What has your journey as a writer been like?
It has been a roller-coaster ride.  I’ve been writing ever since I was a child.  I tried to sell a screenplay to Warner Bros. when I was fourteen, which served as my first taste of rejection.  It was a bitter lesson for a fourteen-year-old, but it only fed my determination.  I wrote my first novel shortly thereafter, and so began my many years of writing, querying, getting rejected, and writing some more.  I sold my first novel a few years ago to a small press, which was exciting, only to learn that selling a book to a publisher is a piece of cake compared to selling your published book to the rest of the world.  For me, though, writing in itself is part of the journey.  I feel enriched as a human being for what I’ve written as well as what I’ve learned along the way.

Why did you choose to self-publish?
I self-published because I wanted a venue for my more artistic (less marketable) books.  I write for many reasons, but the most important to me is the desire to make a difference in this world.  When it comes to my speculative fiction, what I write is not always pretty.  Sometimes it’s downright ugly, but it’s always with purpose.  Dystopia is not a mass market genre—but sometimes publishing a book isn’t about fitting into the mass market, but rather the importance that book may have in the larger scheme.  It’s about making art for art’s sake.  I wrote World-Mart to be read under the stars by philosophers, to be analyzed in college classrooms, and to affect the mind of every reader who chooses to board my crazy little ride.

Would you do it again?
Absolutely.  There’s no greater feeling in the world than to hear from a reader who you’ve never met say, “This book changed me.”

Please share some advice to help future authors.
Don’t be so eager to publish that you lose sight of the important details.  Don’t try to be your own editor, or you’ll end up shooting yourself in the foot.  Don’t rely on spell/grammar check unless you want a grammatical mess.  Don’t attempt to create your own cover art unless you really are that artistically inclined.  Make sure you have gone over your manuscript several times, not just a few, and give yourself a good month between readings.  Look for words you can cut; most of the time, less truly is more.  When you are ready to publish, seek out reviewers, as many as you can, and take bad reviews with a grain of salt.

What drives you to write?
I appease several muses, each with their own demands.  An idea will drive me nuts if I don’t “release” it in a timely manner.  Moreover, I’m driven to write—period.  It is what I was born to do.  Writing keeps me sane.

What criticisms have helped you grow as a writer?
We all have our bad habits, and I’m grateful to all those who have helped over the years to point out mine.  Editors and peers helped me to identify amateur errors, such as “telling” instead of “showing,” using too much passive voice, and overusing certain words (we all have them).  I went back to college and earned my English degree when I realized I could not write what I wanted to write on talent alone.  I took an advanced grammar class.  I took advice and criticism from wherever I could find it, swallowing my pride at every turn.  It’s made all the difference.

Leigh M. Lane writes mixed-genre science fiction, with an emphasis on allegory and social commentary.  Her provocative flair is reminiscent of the works of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Olaf Stapledon, Ray Bradbury, and H. G. Wells.  While her works often mesh the unreal and the profound with gritty realism, her themes are also insightful and timely and her stories fast-paced yet complex.  She currently has two self-published titles available, as well as six novels and eight anthology contributions published through small press under a different name.  For more about her and her writing, visit her website: http://www.cerebralwriter.com.

Free Author Interview: Don Dollton

Author Name:
Don Dollton

Where can we find your book? 

How much does it cost?

Tell us a little about your book.
A collection of stories and observations by a native Californian who has traveled the world and learned a lot about human nature. This work recalls growing up in the California of the 50’s and 60’s, Don’s travels throughout the world, and his perspective on contemporary American life.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
I am editing my sitcom pilot House Husband and marketing this to Hollywood. I also have an animation movie screenplay and a western screenplay in progress.

What has your journey as a writer been like?
I have had my letters to the editor published throughout my life and I have kept journals for over 30 years.  I had heart surgery earlier this year and I finally reached the point where I could look the blank page in the eye and fill it in with my stories.

Why did you choose to self publish?
I am a loner and prefer to do things on my own.  Instead of having a publisher or agent or critics say no, I can go out to the public where I know I will get a yes when they read my book.

Would you do it again?
Yes definitely. I am doing it now by taking my notes for my sequel.

Please share some advice to help future authors.
It has to be you and your story. I write about what I have experienced in my life travels and this makes the writing easy.

Don Dollton served as a Russian linguist with a Top Secret clearance in the U.S. Army Security Agency.  He has an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and has traveled to over forty countries for business and pleasure in Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He has also traveled to over 40 states and enjoys collecting, garage sales, dogs and his family life while being a house husband.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stats update

For those of you who have posted an author interview on my blog or are thinking of doing so, I would like to thank each of you for helping to make this site such a success.

3,000 visitors in just over three months.  How amazing is that?

It just goes to show you how mountains can be moved when authors start to support each other.  I am pleased to have the chance to get to know a little about each author that I interview.  I've met some amazing people and read some great books.  I love my job!

Here's to the next 1,000 visitors!

Free Author Interview: Maya Mendoza

New memoir shows how one woman triumphs over severe anxiety and trauma “From Agoraphobia to Zen”-Uncovering the core of my anxiety and reclaiming my life.
Makaha Hawaii June 28, 2011
Aloha. I am excited and grateful to announce the publication of my debut memoir. This book tells the true story of how keeping toxic secrets can poison your mind and how searching and finding the truth can heal the body mind and soul.

At the lowest point in my life, I was a prisoner in my own home trying to raise my four children from a box in a closet, so confused and scared to live my daily life. I also carried around my pain as seventy extra pounds on my body. My journey to health and wellness although raw and gritty is also inspiring, mysterious and even funny. The core of my story shows two women who struggle with mental illness, a mother and daughter, and how one survives and one couldn’t.

Recovering from a mental illness is very possible but those who suffer are stigmatized and face obstacles and prejudice. My great hope and gift in writing this book is to help people who have an anxiety disorder believe there is hope and a  Zen for them as there was for me.

Thank you to all who believed in me and friends old and new all over the world. A special thank you to my family, publisher and the students who made me laugh and look at the world through new eyes.

My name on the book is Marilyn Mendoza, but I use my nickname Maya so if you google Marilyn Maya Mendoza sometimes more information is found on my book
My book is on Amazon, in print and kindle and B&N and my publisher's site which is ChipmunkaPublishing as well as other places on the internet.

Since my publisher is in the UK, my book also on the AmazonUK site where it also has good reviews . The Amazon in the USA has good reviews too lol
It costs 21 dollars on Amazon.

I sell autographed copies to those who email me for 20 dollars including shipping
My memoir is a harrowing but inspiring journey from living in a box in my closet to healing from anxiety and agoraphobia.. It is also a mystery of two women, my mother and me and how one survives mental illness and one couldn't.

My journey as a writer started as a search for the truth about my past and why it was affecting, infecting my entire life. My journey ended with many mysteries solved and peace and healing. I always wrote prose and poetry to soothe and this was one chapter that I had in my mind that turned into a book with a lot of effort to say the least.

After I finished my memoir, I was determined not to do it again but a writer must write and I have some ideas brewing around in my head for a sequel.

My advice to future authors is to never give up. If you have a passion to tell your story or in my case my truth, don't let negative people deter you from your dream, even if they are family.

My journey now is to help end the stigma against mental illness and to help one person at a time by sharing my story.

I went on a book tour to promote my book and it was a wonderful experience. My publisher did not pay for it. I saved and went to London where I was welcomed by book clubs, libraries and got to see so many places the normal tourist doesn't get to see. I also went to Minnesota and spoke at many places as well. I went for "broke" literally. But it was so worth it.

Free Author Interview: David Cooper

My debut novel Hatred, Ridicule & Contempt – a legal thriller based in the UK, all about a libel action from the viewpoint of the defendant newspaper and its lawyer – can be found on Amazon via the links on my blogsite. It is $2.99 for USA buyers.

I am looking at a follow up “serious book” about law for small businesses, but if inspiration for a further novel comes first, so much the better!

I have had an interesting journey as a writer – eleven years in the making, to be precise! I devised much of the plot for HR&C in the late nineties, and wrote a great deal of it then, only for various life upheavals to intervene. I think that was, with hindsight, probably for the better as I was able to bring twelve years’ worth of perspective and reflection back into my final push over the summer of 2011.

Why self publish? Well, can I just say that the e-publishing revolution has focused very sharply on the interests of authors and readers alike, and is just as much a liberating force as the internet itself? Taking that into account, I would most certainly do it again as and when the seeds of a new plot start to take effect.

What could I suggest to new authors? Write about what you know about, and never pass up a chance for good advice close to hand – once I had completed my first draft, my wife’s help in editing and producing ideas for refining the flow and the content were very welcome.

So who’s my favourite author? You’re expecting me to say John Grisham, I’m sure. However, given that my aim in writing HR&C was to combine the tried and tested excitement of a Grisham drama with a series of plot twists that would keep the reader guessing to the end, I’ll go for a true master of the latter – Robert Goddard, a real inspiration to me.

Promotion – now there’s an interesting one. I have my own blogsite. I am hard at work via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I put my cover onto a set of business cards. And my reference work of choice is John Locke’s “How I made $1m from e-books…”

Character creation? I have been practising law in the UK for 25 years. I have seen working life and practice in big firms and small firms, courts and tribunals, conference chambers and (inevitably) bars. The heroes and villains all emerged that way.

And what finally drove me to get it all done and launched, many years after the idea first took shape? Partly the e-publishing boom. Partly a drive through the Deep South from Nashville to New Orleans in the summer of 2011, where plans for a worthwhile conclusion to the book came up thick and fast amid the experiences of music history, the Civil War and the skyscraper era in Chicago where the last four nights were enjoyed. And partly the imminent milestone birthday next March – well, now that I’ve had a book published, I might not need the Harley Davidson after all…

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Free Author Interview: Donna Swanson

Name: Donna Swanson/ aka Mindsinger

Where can we find your book?
SPLINTERS OF LIGHT is available on Amazon.com as well as Amazon Kindle.
You can also find a fuller description plus excerpt at

How much does it cost?
At Amazon it is $19.99 for paperback and $7.69 for Kindle. I
recommend readers buy it there rather than Xlibrs which published it.
Amazon is cheaper.

Tell us a little about your book:
SPLINTERS OF LIGHT is a rather comprehensive collection of my poetry
and short prose written over the last forty years. It is introduced
by Gloria Gaither and contains the award-winning poem, Minnie

Do you have any upcoming projects?
I’ve just finished a double trilogy titled THE WINDFALLOW CHRONICLES
and am searching for a publisher.

What has your journey as a writer been like?
I began writing for religious periodicals some fifty years ago, and
then branched out to secular magazines. Many times I became
discouraged by rejection slips and lack of interest and swore never to
write again. But the words would not be contained and I wrote in
spite of obstacles. Finally, a poem, Minnie Remembers took off; was
filmed as a documentary, and reprinted hundreds of time in both
religious and secular publications. It brought an invitation from the
Upper Room to write a book of poetry, MIND SONG that sold out of its
first printing. I was booked for programs, concerts and symposiums
based on the film and Minds Song. Then, all the doors closed.
During the seven year long writer’s block that followed, I began
carving carousel horses; the words came back as carousel poetry which
became popular.
Since then I’ve written an historical novel set in the time of Christ,
also write two weekly newspaper columns; Country Roads and Granny’s
Place. I maintain three blogs and contribute to the Jingle Poetry

Why did you choose to self-publish?
Because the publishing market had literally dried up. And, when I
published the first two books, it only cost $99 to do so. SPLINTERS
OF LIGHT was published by Xlibris and by that time the price had risen

Would you do it again?
Only as a last resort. The fees are extravagantly expensive and
unless you want to spend as much for marketing as you did for
publication, you will have no promotion other than your own efforts.
XL was especially aggressive in their push to sell a marketing plan.

Advice to future authors:
Be very careful before you commit to a publisher. If they do not have
a full explanation of services, fees, royalties, etc. on their website
or marketing guide, don’t be afraid to ask for that information.
Proof, proof, proof as you write. Make sure your copy is as good as
you can make it before you send in out into the world of publishers.
Have a friend read it if possible and give feedback. Then, give it to
God and ask him to use it to his glory.

Free Author Interview: John Martin

Author Name: John Martin
Major BS: A Top Secret Mission
Tell us a little about your book.It's about a bumbling British former army officer, Major Jeremy Billycock-Smythe, who marries into cash-poor but artistocratic family in Australia and launches an enterprise to save his wife's historic homestead Rowbottom from bankruptcy. Along the way, he finds and loses some illegal refugees, and seriously annoys his childhood friend,  officials in charge of government secrets, and a bunch of high-powered executives. On one level, it's all satirical. But if people don't get the satire, hopefullly it's just funny on another level. There are no American characters but there is an important US link.

Where can we find your book?It has been a Print on Demand book for a year or so now but I've just launched it as an ebook on Amazon and I'm thrilled that it's now within the reach of a global readership
The print and ink version is still available for $AUS27.92 and you can order it via my web site, www.dunno.com.au. . Like a lot of authors, I don't do this for the money (that's why I have a day job); the satisfaction for me is building a world where people can escape to for a few hours, love/hate my characters and at the end of it think, "well, that was funny (or at least not a waste of time)"
What has your journey as a writer been like?I'm a newspaper journalist in real life and for the past 30 years or so I have written factual stuff. But fiction writing has always been a sideline. I self-published my first novel, Apples, in 1994. That was a satire too, centred on the is-it-or-isn't-it extinct Tasmanian Tiger and featured a Texan millionaire as a key character. But it was expensive to publish then and the publisher made me pay for a certain number of copies (of which some still linger in my garage to this day, the waste of a good tree). Print On Demand made more sense to me environmentally  and it was cheaper. I put together a collection of short stories for a POD book How Much Is That Scorpion In The Window and then
Major BS: A Top Secret Mission went that way too.
Do you have any upcoming projects?If the ebook goes well, I have another idea in my head (I always have ideas; I've never had writer's block). This latest idea is about an arsonist called Jerome O'Fury, an Irishman in Australia. It's always a balancing act between my family, my day job and what I'd love to do full time, writing. I realised long ago that I have the skills to do the writing, the editing and the design work - but promotion is my achilles' heel. I'm kinda shy and tongue-tied - but I have worked hard at getting some useful promotional sources on my web site:
You can read the first chapter free at http://www.freado.com/player/bookplayer.php?contentid=4763&authorid=3759&preview=1 and you can also download a free sample from Amazon, which is a feature I really like.

Why did you choose to self publish?When I was growing up, my father wrote two or three novels on his typewriter that never saw the light of day. He sent them to umpteen publishers, a fruitless process that took years. I swore I'd never go down that path of frustration and disappointment. I think that publishers today are all about following marketing trends and winning formulas these days anyway - and they are headed to the same place all the books on my study shelves are going in this electronic world: the garbage can. I self publish now because I CAN.
I like the work of US author Carl Hiassen, Irish authors Roddy Doyle and Colin Bateman, Scottish author ian Rankin, British author John Le Carre. I love the way US/UK writer Bill Bryson unearths and plays out amusing anecotes.
I hate the predictable and formulaic.

What time of day do you write best?Any time I have peace and quiet, and my chores are already done.
Do you have a favorite character and why?I like strong characters. Heroes with flaws. In Major BS's case, he's much more flaw than hero.
www.amazon.com/Major-Top-Secret-Mission-ebook/dp/B005MEZUFY/ (US$3.99).
www.amazon.co.uk/Major-Top-Secret-Mission-ebook/dp/B005MEZUFY (£2.83).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Free Author Interview: Kristi Petersen Schoonover

Author Name:  Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Where can we find your book?  Skeletons in the Swimmin' Hole--Tales from Haunted Disney World is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the usual. You can also purchase it directly from me at www.haunteddisneytales.com. Right now it’s also available in Kindle and Nook, but a publisher has approached me to publish the e-books under their label and that’s being worked on.
 How much does it cost?  $9.95
 Tell us a little about your book.  Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole—Tales from Haunted Disney World is a collection of ghost stories set in Disney Parks. I’m an Edgar Allan Poe fanatic, and these stories work on the basis of his “triggers”—extreme guilt, oppression, passion, or circumstance can lead to haunting, whether supernatural or physical.
Do you have any upcoming projects?  Loads! My first novel, Bad Apple, is due out from Vagabondage Press Books in early 2012;  I’m working on a collection of ghost stories set exclusively in the state of Connecticut; and there’s a second book in the Disney series, Hairless Girl Does the Hula, planned for 2013. I’m working on those stories now. In addition, I’m always writing and revising new short stories not connected with any collections. On the non-writing front, I’m starting a podcast, Scary Scribes, in January. The half-hour show will feature a brief scary read followed by an interview.
Why did you choose to self publish?  I felt that this particular collection—ghost stories set in Disney Parks—would appeal to two very specific audiences with whom I interact on a regular basis, and I wanted to be able to invest the time in reaching them. I also wanted total control over this project—it’s my baby. I would absolutely do it again—and, in fact, I plan on it.
 Please share some advice to help future authors.  I always hear from writers don’t want to spend the time or money on their book or to promote themselves—quite frankly, I don’t understand that. It’s your work; why would you cheap out on it? I made a heavy investment. I hired professionals to do things. I spend money to promote myself, to go places, to make sure I’m getting the best that I can afford. And the books sell well because of that—I’m bringing in a consistent income on Amazon alone. In fact, I’ve made back my full initial investment already. But I work, work, work and spend, spend, spend to reap that reward. If you’re not willing or prepared to invest time and money in yourself or your project, don’t get into this—in the end, your lack of that investment will show.
 What drives you to write?  I’ve always written—from the time I could hold a pen I was writing stories, so to be fair, I don’t know where the “drive” to do it comes from—it just sort of happens. I can tell you, though, that for me, writing is about processing: something has happened in my life and I sort it out through my stories. I don’t do this on purpose, it just seems that things I can’t resolve seem to get resolved little by little through my work. I know I’m done when whatever it is—a certain character who represents someone with whom I’m fascinated or who hurt me, for example—stops showing up.
 How do you juggle life around your writing?  Writing for me has always come first. Unlike many writers who block time for themselves to write, I’m very much an inspiration-only writer as far as the creation of fiction goes; this means that when something wants to come out, everything I’m doing gets dropped. The good news about that, though, is that it never takes me very long to get out a draft: it’s all or nothing and no interruptions until it’s finished. There are years in which I’m very prolific, and years in which I’m not. But I’ve learned to roll with that. I’m getting back into a prolific period now, which I’m very excited about—it seems the ideas are coming so fast I can barely keep up with them. The only thing that really does is force me to schedule all the other activities in which I’m involved when I’m not creating—marketing, blogging, events, critiquing, revising, judging and just about everything else a writer does these days to keep a career afloat—those are the activities for which I block out specific time, usually in the evenings and on the weekends. It’s not a bad thing to be a writer and NOT write every day. I think the most important thing is to figure out how you work best and go for it.
Here’s a peek at “Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole”—the book’s title story:
 Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole
“He did it,” my husband says.
It’s so dark I can’t see his eyes—we’re at the Polynesian Resort’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, and they’re about to dance with fire so the lights are off—but I know there’s no expression in them anyway. He’s in a trance. “Ohhhhh.”
David channels the last thoughts of dead things. Back home in Baltimore, the ability’s onset has forced him to end his taxidermy practice. Recently, though, he’s seemed to get better.
I heave a sigh and reach for the carved coconut monkey head that holds my Pele’s Fire Punch, put the straw in my mouth, and drain the drink.
He finishes reading the air and sets his hand on top of mine. “I’m sorry, Cora. I know this is a vacation.”
“I just didn’t think there’d be any dead things in Disney World, that’s all. You were clean for almost a month. I was hoping—”
“I know.” He puts a square of pineapple bread on his plate next to a pile of chicken bones.
The drums begin, and a limber man in a grass skirt twirls a flaming baton.
The flashes started on David’s fortieth birthday.
We were celebrating at the Annabel Lee Tavern, and the waitress had just set a quarter duckling in front of him. He looked at me as though he was going to say something, but then his expression went blank. He turned his gaze upward.
“What?” I twisted to look and noticed writing painted high on the wall: Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust. There was more to it, but it wrapped around a corner where I couldn’t read the rest. “That’s from a Poe poem. I don’t think that line’s from ‘Annabel Lee.’ I want to say it’s from ‘Ulalume.’”
But he didn’t answer.
His eyes moved as though he were reading from a page in the air. “Why did she leave me alone? Why?”
I leaned closer to the table. “David? I didn’t leave you alone. I’m right here.”
“She left me!”
He hadn’t mentioned his ex-wife, Helena—who had left him for another man—since just before our wedding two years ago, but that was the only ‘she’ I could think of. I reached out and gripped his wrist. “Helena left you, David. I didn’t.”
Everyone in the tiny place went quiet; there was only the mournful Firebird Suite Berceuse floating from a speaker in the ceiling.
My face burned under the stares. The flame from our table’s candle snuffed out.
“I can’t get out!” David shouted.
I released his wrist and turned to the pair of women at the next table. “I’m sorry…my husband is…I…”
The waitress, panic in her eyes, approached. “Everything okay?”
I shook my head. “I’m…I’m so, so, sorry, I don’t know what’s going on, just bring us some take-out containers and the check. Fast.”
She nodded and rushed off.
“I can’t get out!”
“Yes, David, you can. We’re going out. Right now.”
Outside, the rain had turned to sleet. “Where is she?” David yelled. A couple walking across the street stopped, and then ran. “Where is she?”
“Stop it!” I screamed. “You’re scaring me!”
“She left me here!”
“I did not! Helena did!” Sleet stung my cheeks.
He was quiet for a moment; in the distance, I heard sirens. Then he blinked, marveling as though he had no idea how he’d gotten outside. “Cora?”
“I’m right here.” I was relieved. “I’m right here, I’m not going anywhere, and what Helena did to you will never, never happen again.”
He reached out with trembling fingers to touch my cheek. Then he fell against my shoulder and cried.
When I wrapped my arms around him, I dropped the take-home containers. His duckling fell out and rolled into the street.
My bio
Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s short fiction has appeared in Carpe Articulum, The Adirondack Review, Barbaric Yawp, New Witch Magazine, Toasted Cheese, and others, including several anthologies such as Dark Opus Press’ In Poe’s Shadow. She holds an MFA from Goddard College, has received two Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies, and is editor for Read Short Fiction. Her most recent work, Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole, is a collection of ghost stories set in Disney Parks; her horror novel, Bad Apple, is forthcoming from Vagabondage Books. She’s also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association. Her website is www.kristipetersenschoonover.com

Free Author Interview: Doug Simpson

Authors Bio -
Doug Simpson is a retired high school teacher who has turned his talents to writing. His first novel, a spiritual mystery titled Soul Awakening, was published in the United States in October of 2011, by Book Locker. Check it out at http://booklocker.com/books/5754.html . It is available in print and eBook format through most book stores. His magazine and website articles have been published in 2010 and 2011 in Australia, Canada, France, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. His website is at http://dousinp.mnsi.net.

Name - Doug Simpson
Available - Soul Awakening is available from Book Locker at
http://booklocker.com/books/5754.html  for $14.95 for the paperback and and $5.99 for the ebook. It is also available in paperback and ebook through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Chapters Indigo and most other bookstores around the world.

Book in Brief - This first novel was published in the United States in October of 2011. Soul Awakening is a work of fiction, inspired by a series of actual events. It is a spiritual mystery involving the apparently accidental, though actually orchestrated by Divine Intervention, meeting of three total strangers and their ultimate discovery that they shared previous lifetimes together. It delves into reincarnation, past lifetimes, spirit communication, messages from God, past-life regression sessions, Guardian Angels, past-life recall in the awake state, and soul attraction, the reincarnation of groups of souls together in more than one lifetime.

Upcoming Projects - The second book in the series, Soul Rescue, has been completed but it has not yet been submitted for publishing.  I will continue to write more articles for magazines and websites, and whenever they are published I place a link, on my website at http://dousimp.mnsi.net , to the magazine or website where it can be read.

Journey - I have always had a driving desire to write, and many times over thirty years or so, while I was gainfully employed, I attempted to write a novel but never seemed to be able to complete it or to do an adequate job. Blessed retirement gave me the opportunity to finally concentrate on writing. I started with articles in magazines and on websites and have been fortunate to publish in Australia, Canada, France, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. The success of my articles encouraged me to take another crack at a book, and the manuscript became Soul Awakening. Never too old to try!!

Why self-publish? When I reached to point where I started to scream ever time I received another printed response from agents and publishers, along the line of 'We are currently not accepting ...', then self-publishing became the new Plan A.

Do it again? I would and will definitely do it again unless some rich publisher comes knocking on my door and makes me an offer I can't refuse. I have had a wonderful experience with Book Locker and recommend them to everyone who asks, and sometimes they do not even have to ask. 

Advice? I am too new at this to be giving advice to others, other than maybe to say NEVER GIVE UP!
Sample Chapters? For those readers who would like to check out Soul Awakening, two sample chapters are available at

How does a simple idea evolve into a book?

I’ve had the question posed to me about how I came up with the idea for my newest teen fantasy, Forbidden.  Honestly, I was sick and tired of reading the typical cliché vampire novel.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Twilight and many of the other vampire books on the book shelves today…but I needed a break.  I read my way through Werewolves, Dragons and angles before I finally decided I wanted to step out of the norm.

The idea of Immortality has always been somewhat of a fascination of mine.  To live forever.  What on earth would you do with yourself?  Surely after a couple hundred years you would have seen and done everything there was to do.  Then what?

So I wanted to take a popular theme and give it a major twist.  I told my husband a couple months ago while we were on a drive that I wanted to do a book on Immortals.  I had no clue where I wanted to go with it but it was an idea that I couldn’t drop.

I knew that I wanted it set it Romania.  I loved the picturesque country side, the quaint buildings and wealth of history.  And since I wanted my Immortal to be rather old I needed her to live in a castle.  I flipped through page after page of stunning castles and stumbled upon one that just felt right.  At the bottom of the picture it had a caption.  Castle Bran.  Dracula’s castle.

Now that’s where the wheels in my head really started grinding.  The legend of Dracula had always fascinated me.  Sorry Twilight fans, but I grew up with vampires that didn’t glitter or choose a mountain lion as a main course.  So I wanted to explore the idea of the sadistic version of vampires that people used to be accustomed to.  But there came in the kicker.  I DIDN”T want to write a vampire novel.

So low and behold the twist came into play.  Immortals that needed human blood to heal when wounded and became addicted to blood like a human on pain killers.  I delved into the idea of changed behaviors, personality shifts that led to the degradation of one Vladimir Enescue, Roseline’s husband and legendary Dracula.  In my book, Forbidden, my characters live the lives that lead to the creation of the Vampire myth. 

Now of course I didn’t want my heroin to be evil.  Far from it.  I wanted to show that even surrounded but such vile filth a person could retain their innocence.  And from there Roseline was born. 

In order for Roseline to endure three centuries of torture at the hands of her husband, Roseline needed to have someone to keep her sane.  To help her heal and teach her how to live a life without debauchery and murder.  She clung to him for her sanity and as such developed deep feelings for him.

But when she sees her chance to escape her tyrannical husband, Roseline leaves everything behind, including her only friend.  She starts over as a high school student in Chicago Illinois with the hopes of being able to live the life that’d been taken from her.  But fate wouldn’t allow her to remain in the shadows.

And I will leave you there.  It’s no fun to spoil the story!

If you would like to read my newly released Teen Fantasy novel, Forbidden, please check out my eBooks. 

So how do you come up with your ideas?  How do they evolve for you?  What tips can you share to help other authors get from an idea to a finished novel?

Happy Reading!