Author Spotlight no.54 – AJ Kirby

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the fifty-fourth, is of horror, crime, thriller novelist (and other genres) Andrew ‘AJ’ Kirby.

AJ Kirby is the award-winning author of five novels (Paint this town Red, 2012; Perfect World, 2011; Bully, 2009; The Magpie Trap, 2008; When Elephants Walk through the Gorbals, 2007), two novellas (The Black Book, 2011; and Call of the Sea, 2010), one novelette (Bed Peace, 2011) and over forty published short stories. He is also a sportswriter for the Professional Footballers’ Association and a reviewer for The Short Review and The New York Journal of Books.

And now from the author himself:

When Mister Hyde Rears His Ugly Head: The Editing Process by AJ Kirby

I’ve recently finished editing and proofing (for about the fifth time) the manuscript which will magically transform, like a caterpillar into a butterfly (or some such) into my fourth published novel Paint this town Red. And last night I realised I’ve become a stickler, a right old Lynn Truss-er, the kind of person driven so mad by a spelling mistake or punctuation error that I feel duty bound to correct it in red ink (or blood) IN MASSIVE LETTERS.

And I realise this admission sets me up for the biggest of falls. Anyone reading this will doubtless already be scanning the text of this spotlight, eagle-eyes peeled for a missed comma or a ‘there’ for a ‘their’, ready to get in touch to point out the error of my ways, but that’s just something I’ll have to accept*. Because right now I am very much Mister Hyde. My cold, logical left brain has taken over, at least for a while, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Back to last night. To set the scene, my girlfriend Heidi and I were slouched on the sofa watching the local news on TV. We’d suffered through alarming features on the worrying increase of unemployed people in the Yorkshire region, sad news on the weather, and on local sports teams, and at last we were about to be served up the sugar for the pill, the And Finally… piece. Cut to the two presenters, Mr. Smarmy and Ms. Fake-Smile. Smarmy said something nasty about Fake-Smile’s hair, for some reason. Fake-Smile’s professional mask almost slipped out of place, but somehow, she ignored him, and read from the auto-queue.

‘And now on to a delightful story about a two sisters from the Humberside region. Identical twins, they’ve been inseparable since birth, and they’ve now reached their milestone sixtieth birthdays…’

An image flashed up on screen. Two old ladies who shared a hair-cut, dress sense, and that slightly lost look in their eyes. Underneath them, in bold newsy-text, this was written: INSEPERABLE.

Mister Hyde chose that moment to come out to play. He growled. ‘That’s not how you spell inseparable.’ Somewhere inside me, the kindly Doctor Jekyll murmured. ‘Are you sure? It doesn’t look right, yes, but maybe you’ve just been looking at a screen too long today. Maybe your mind’s scrambled.’

Hyde was sure. ‘How can they make a spelling mistake like that? Do they not have checkers? Proof-readers? What if children see that and just believe it’s the right way of spelling that word?’

Heidi sighed. She couldn’t hear the delightful way the Humberside twins were finishing each other’s sentences nor find out why they owned identical wardrobes. ‘Does it matter?’ she said.

And Hyde took that to mean are you sure it’s spelled wrong? Hyde grabbed for the remote, jammed his thumb on the rewind button. (Yes, we have all the mod-cons, even Sky Plus.) Skipped back into the story about a cold weather front sweeping down through Todmorden. Growled. Fast-forwarded. Saw the grinning faces of Mr. Smarmy and Ms. Fake-Smile again. Pressed play. And then the image appeared again. The image and the misspelled word. ‘There!’ Hyde yelled, victoriously. ‘I told you.’

Heidi still looked doubtful though. So Hyde booted up the old laptop, ignored a few killer emails which had deadlines attached, and headed for Google. Found an online dictionary. Found proof that he was right. Showed it to damsel in distress on the sofa. She nodded, sighed again, and fast-forwarded the TV so we were back live again.

And Hyde realised there was such a thing as taking editing too far, and promptly pressed ‘send’, releasing Paint this town Red to the publisher for the last time. Then he settled back and, with the assistance of Jekyll – whose more flowery prose was helpful in epistolary terms – penned a letter to the local news team informing them of their mistake.

*If any readers can spot the deliberate mistake in this spotlight, they can feel free to email me at andrewkirby92@btinternet.com with full details, as well as name and address. I will select one winner at random to receive a copy of the novel Paint this town Red as soon as it is published.

Thank you, Andy, that’s very generous of you! I’m a red penner every step of the way – it feels powerful, somehow. 🙂 You can find more about Andy and his writing via his…

Author website – www.andykirbythewriter.20m.com

Goodreads Author Page – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3029490.A_J_Kirby

Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.co.uk/A.-J.-Kirby/e/B0046CG746/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

New York Journal of Books – http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/reviewer/j-kirby

Facebook Novel Home Page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Perfect-World-by-AJ-Kirby-out-25-March-2011/141323122599389

     

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with murder mystery author Merlin Fraser – the two hundred and sixty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).

Author Spotlight no.53 – Chelle Cordero

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the fifty-third, is of Chelle Cordero.

Chelle has come a long way since first joining the Vanilla Heart Publishing queue of authors nearly two years ago with her first novel, Bartlett’s Rule. Now with nine novels on the market, she has solidified her standing as a Romantic Suspense author (7 romantic suspense & 2 mysteries). She also has short stories in the VHP anthology With Arms Wide Open, Mandimam’s Press anthology Forever Friends, the VHP anthology Nature’s Gifts, VHP anthology Passionate Hearts and Mandimam Press anthology Forever Travels.

Bartlett’s Rule was named one of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Top Ten Reads for 2009; Final Sin was a 2009 Pushcart Nominee; and Hostage Heart, Final Sin and A Chaunce of Riches were nominated in the 2009 Preditors’ and Readers’ poll and had top-ten finishes. Chelle Cordero was recently featured as one of the authors in “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading” published by The Author’s Show in 2010.

And now from the author herself:

As a child I kept notebook after notebook of writing attempts. In one case I created an entire TV series written specifically for my then-favourite actor; the series he was in was cancelled and after all, wouldn’t his agent be thrilled that someone cared enough to come up with a new script for him? The agent was unimpressed.

I did a favour for a community organizer when I was 18 and wrote a brief article for the local weekly paper. It was published and while I didn’t receive any monetary payment, seeing my name in the by-line was a “pure adrenaline” rush. For years I went back to writing my TV series, (hey even though the agent didn’t like it, I did) and short pieces of prose.

Finally, pregnant with our daughter, I decided to work from home and write full-time. I lucked into an underpaid, monthly column in the cable guide pretty much right away. Other non-fiction spots followed, luckily most had better pay rates. I felt like literally stumbled into writing as a profession.

That was the first time I announced (sort of proudly) that I was a writer. I had gotten paid for my writing and except for that one ungrateful actor’s agent, I had never known rejection. My ego was definitely inflated.

However most of the people who took my pronouncement seriously asked if I had written any books. I had to be honest, while I enjoyed writing ANYthing, I really wanted to create stories, fiction, romantic stories of suspense, mysteries…

So while working freelance as a journalist, raising two precocious kids, keeping a home and volunteering in my community, I found the time to start writing stories. Despite the long list of published credits I had, agents told me I was too new to take a chance on and I finally knew what it felt like to receive a rejection.

My ego was still so super-inflated that each time I received a rejection, I became more determined to get a novel published – I used to tell everyone that I wanted to grow up to be a novelist. I kept writing and finally in late 2007 I submitted a manuscript called Bartlett’s Rule to Vanilla Heart Publishing; it was accepted (there went that ego again!). I finally felt grown up.

I am still a freelance journalist and I enjoy my work. But I LOVE letting my imagination run away and create characters and stories. I still get that pure adrenaline rush each time I see my name on the spine of a book. I enjoy taking different experiences of my life and fashioning it into a novel. It’s amazing to see how something as simple as a grocery store encounter can turn into the beginnings of a mystery.

Nine novels later, short stories in five anthologies, two writing guides and scores more newspaper articles, I absolutely love my life.

I will send anyone who sends an email to ChelleCordero@gmail.com with “Sampler” in the subject a FREE .pdf sampler of all my novels and writing guides.

For more information about Chelle, visit her website at http://ChelleCordero.com or her blog at http://ChelleCordero.blogspot.com. All of Chelle’s novels are available in print or e-book through online retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble and various e-book formats like Smashwords.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with Alison Richards – the two hundred and sixty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).

Author Spotlight no.52 – Sheryl Browne

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the fifty-second, is of novelist Sheryl Browne.

Now residing in Worcestershire, Sheryl grew up in Birmingham, UK, where she studied Art & Design. She wears many hats: a partner in her own business, a mother, and a foster parent to disabled dogs, currently giving home to a feisty, but partially blind, midget Jack Russell and an OAP cross collie/lab.

Creative in spirit, Sheryl has always had a passion for writing.  A full member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association for some years, she has previously been published in the US and writes Romantic Comedy because, as she puts it, “life is just too short to be miserable”.

Sheryl’s new novel, RECIPES FOR DISASTER, combining deliciously different and fun recipes with romantic comedy, has just been released by Safkhet Publishing.

And now from the author herself:

I have been writing rom com for about twelve years and have come “close” but not quite close enough to secure publication here in the UK.  I have been previously published in the US, which was fantastic, but I felt I’d made it when my current lovely publisher, Safkhet Publishing, liked my style and asked me to write Recipes For Disaster for them.  I couldn’t have been more thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work on this rather unique project, which includes some really fabulous, different and fun recipes.  I was so nervous waiting for their feedback, I’d almost bitten my fingernails down to my elbows.  And then they said Yes!  They loved it!  Music to a writer’s ears.  Needless to say, I was euphoric.  Rejection is part and parcel of being a writer ~ and I would just like to mention here that often agents and publishers took time (a precious commodity, particularly in the current difficult publishing climate) to offer suggestions, most of which were constructive and all of which were appreciated.  Thank you. 🙂

If you’re serious about writing, you have to work hard beyond the initial writing of your story, getting editorial help, if necessary, and making sure to present your work professionally.  Agents want to know you are serious, after all!  There’s loads of advice out there and agents usually stipulate clearly on their websites what they want.  If you are lucky enough to get feedback, try to use it positively.  Rejection hurts.  Your confidence might dwindle sometimes, it goes with the territory, but take heart from the fact that people have bothered to respond and keep going.

I also enjoy script writing and did get through the first and second stages of a BBC sitcom writing contest.  So you might say humour is my thing.  Real people inspire my writing, real life events and the turmoil of emotions that often goes with them.  I like to look at the comedy in a situation.  Not that I would laugh at people’s disasters.  God knows, I’m a walking disaster myself (I’m the kind of person that breaks her ankle, goes to work on crutches, falls face-first off the bus and splats her face on the pavement!).  I’m looking to laugh with people, rather than at them.  My aim when I write is to leave someone with that all-important feel-good factor.  If someone laughs, it makes me feel good, and it’s a fabulous way to measure whether I’ve succeeded.

When I’m not writing, I strive to stop my witty son typing – THE END – halfway through my manuscripts and to keep up with the demands of my foster dogs, Little Snoops aka Rambo ~ who is partially sighted, feisty and the star of Recipes For Disaster (at least he thinks so) ~ and Big Max, who is nineteen years old and claustrophobic.  Hence the not too pristine housekeeping and the huge dog-flap in the back door, marked Burglars, please wipe feet on way out!

That’s hilarious Sheryl… definitely a book in the making in your household. 🙂 You can find more about Sheryl and her work via…

Website and link to Sheryl’s blog: www.sherylbrowne.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Recipes-for-Disaster/245372252189480

Twitter: @sherylbrowne

Publisher: http://safkhetpublishing.com

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with romantic thriller novelist Ellen Deane – the two hundred and sixtieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords.

Author Spotlight no.51 – Lisa Janice Cohen

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the fifty-first, is of multi-genre writer Lisa Janice Cohen.

LJ Cohen is the writing persona of Lisa Janice Cohen, poet, novelist, blogger, local food enthusiast, reading omnivore, Doctor Who fan, and relentless optimist. She lives just outside of Boston with her family, two dogs (only one of which actually ever listens to her) and the occasional international student. In love with words since early childhood, Lisa filled dozens of notebooks with her scribbles long before there were such a thing as word processors.

After a 25-year hiatus writing professional articles, text book chapters, assessments and progress notes for her physical therapy practice, Lisa returned to writing fiction seven years ago. Her first novel (still parked on her hard drive waiting extreme renovation) was written to answer her husband’s challenge to write something better than the book he had thrown across the room in disgust. Six novels later, she is still writing. She also pens the occasional op/ed piece for her local paper, helps moderate an online poetry workshop, and has maintained the ‘Once in a Blue Muse’ blog for many years.

Lisa is represented by Nephele Tempest of The Knight Agency. When not doing battle with a stubborn Jack Russell Terrier mix, Lisa is hard at work on her seventh novel, a ghost story. THE BETWEEN is her publishing debut.

I wonder if he/she is related to my stubborn Jack Russell Terrier (with Cairn) mix. 🙂 And now from Lisa herself:

My first writing love is poetry. I’ve been writing poetry for far longer than I’ve been writing prose and it’s the form I return to when I’m at a stuck point in my story process, or as a way to explore emotions and process life events. The way I describe poetry is that it’s frozen orange juice concentrate of language: all the pucker, none of it watered down.

I strive to bring that attention to language to my stories as well. Not that I’m writing in verse (I’m not a big fan of end rhyme; so few poets do it true justice), but I have found that a way in to my characters’ lives exists in the way they construct metaphors. Humans are comparison creatures. It’s how we make sense of the world: we describe events and sensations in terms of what we have already experienced. Listen to your own language and you will notice how often you use the words like and as. (“It was as if…” “He looked like…”) Even without those obvious similes, we observe and create metaphor. When someone is out of practice, he is ‘rusty‘. A happy person has a sunny disposition. Telemarketers hound us. Even if you don’t consider yourself terribly poetic, I’m willing to bet you have a huge store of personal comparisons you use all the time.

In the book I’m currently drafting, my main character is a photographer, so many of her observations are filtered through her sense of light and shadow, composition, and depth of field. (A particular challenge for me since I am not a primary visual person and take really terrible photographs!) She would likely not notice or process the world through her sense of touch, for example. Another character in the story is much more kinesthetic. He’s always been fascinated by roller coasters (the story takes place in an abandoned amusement park) and his filters are far more in the movement and touch realm. When I pay attention to those differences, I am able to write in the two very distinct voices this story requires.

The other way poetry informs my writing is in working to make every word, every interaction, every scene, every sub-plot count. And if I do my job as a writer well, the reader won’t see any of it. All the reader will experience is the flow of story, as if the events were unfolding in the reader’s brain without even the words mediating the process. To get to that level of storytelling is likely an impossible dream until science has conquered true virtual reality, but it’s the goal I strive toward with everything I write.

In my YA fantasy debut, THE BETWEEN, the Fae force Lydia back to Faerie, but they didn’t count on her stubborn humanity. It is available in all eBook and trade paperback formats, links to purchase portal here: http://www.ljcohen.net/the-between.html

That was really interesting (especially being a photographer’s daughter!) and “frozen orange juice concentrate of language” – I love that. Thank you LJ. 🙂 You can find more about Lisa and her work via…

website: www.ljcohen.net, blog: www.ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/ljcohen, 
Twitter: @lisajanicecohen
 and Google +: http://gplus.to/ljcohen
. You can also email her via lisa@ljcohen.net.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with crime novelist Graham Smith – the two hundred and fifty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).

Author Spotlight no.50 – Julia Kavan

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the fiftieth, is of ‘dark’ author Julia Kavan.

Born in the University city of Cambridge, England, Julia Kavan has spent most of her life living in Cambridgeshire – atmospheric and the perfect inspiration for ghost stories.

She has taught creative writing classes for the last ten years, whilst writing screenplays, tackling a novel and experimenting with short stories.

A true Scorpio, her tastes definitely err towards the dark side. She devoured horror stories as a teenager, including James Herbert and Stephen King in her list of favourite authors, moving on to Clive Barker and Peter Straub. As a child she would watch anything that even vaguely looked as if it may be scary… so perhaps it is only natural that this is the area her writing tends to wander into – even if she doesn’t always intend it to!

Her favourite painting is Salvator Rosa’s L’Umana Fragilita. Her music collection includes Holst, Orff, 30 Seconds to Mars and Linkin Park.

And now from the author herself:

I started writing as a teenager – a fair bit of poetry (eek) and short pieces which seemed to impress my teachers at school. I liked writing anything ‘controversial’. I then experimented with what would possibly now be called fan-fiction – stories revolving around favourite characters from TV and film. I also started writing ghost and horror stories, as that was what I read most. I loved anything dark, mysterious or scary and grew up in a house full of esoteric literature. My extended family also provided a wealth of real life stories of the unexplained – from haunted war time tunnels and airfields to astral projection. Family get-togethers were like listening to a group of people reading from a copy of the Fortean Times.

I’m happy lurking in the darker side of life, so when I started writing seriously with a view to seeking publication, I decided to go with what seems to be my natural personality and stick with what I know – horror and the supernatural. My first epublished short story, Dreaming, Not Sleeping is a tale of nightmares and seduction. Very Scorpio. 🙂

My other projects have been equally as spooky. I’m about to start submitting a reworked version of a novel I wrote some time ago. I like to have some experience of what I write about, and the novel is set in the shadow of Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire and the forests of Suffolk / Norfolk.

To relax, I like to go walking in forests and that’s where I often get inspiration for new stories, sometimes from the physical surroundings and sometimes from how I feel – it’s amazing how quickly somewhere very beautiful can become very threatening, just because of an unexpected noise or by taking a wrong turn…. Music plays a big part in my writing life too, either by getting me in the right mood to write a particular scene, or by blocking out the rest of the world.

My plans for the next year include a return to screenwriting. I spent a couple of years working on screenplays and I love working within that structure. Writing a scene for the screen means making as strong a visual impact as possible using few words – I find this discipline useful when writing novels, too. Once again I’m erring on the dark side by writing about the already horrific scenario of a loved one going missing – but with a nightmare twist.

Wow, what an upbringing. Mine was very ordinary but I read a lot of Stephen King (usually bought on the day of release) and although I’ve ‘mellowed’ to crime it could be why I like ‘dark’. 🙂 You can find more about Julia and her work via her website http://juliakavan.com, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter, as well as reading our full interview (June 2011) and Julia’s poem ‘Empty’ posted just last Monday.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with detective novelist Bob Frey – the two hundred and fifty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).

Author Spotlight no.49 – Merlin Fraser

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-ninth, is of multi-genre novelist Merlin Fraser.

Scottish born Merlin Fraser, displaced from a smoky traffic-filled city to a green and rural setting at a very young age, thinks he may have been the inventor of culture shock way back in the 1950’s.

Escaping back into the real world at the first opportunity, he joined the Royal Navy only to find that like Admiral Horatio Nelson he was a chronic seasick sufferer and spent the next nine years throwing up on his way to and fro from the exotic parts of the world.

Career two was much more to his liking and he carried on his worldly travels for nearly thirty years in the Oil Industry where he became a successful Logistics ‘Trouble-shooter’.

Becoming an author was a dream of old but not one that he ever though he could make a living from so he stuck to the more convention ways and he admits to being sucked into the ‘Rat Race’.

As you will see from his first published effort ‘Inner Space’ is an exciting trilogy of Murder Mystery novels where he has instantly hit upon a wonderful cross-genre blend of the paranormal, science and murder. A heady mix for his hero detective who isn’t, by Merlin’s own admission, not the sharpest pencil in the box!

After a lifetime of work and world travel he is now semi-retired and back in the very rural setting he once longed to escape working as hard as ever with novel number four and a series of children’s stories in the works.

Morgen: I’m a terrible traveller – two miles from home to primary school (apparently) was as much as I could cope with, which is why I only get as far as Germany every other year now! 🙂 And I love the sound of Merlin’s detective; a character we can all bond with, I’m sure. And now from Merlin himself, on why he is an independent author:

Two things I really like about being an Independent author is that I get to break all the rules set by mainline publishers and the literary agents who pander to them.

“Write what sells.” “Stick to one Genre and don’t wander away.” “Don’t mix genres.” That and about ten other rules and I guess over the last ten years I’ve broken them all.

Let’s face it the mainstream is in business to make money and the easier the formula the happier they are and if all their authors are in nice neat little genre-based pigeonholes then they know where to go and find them when needed.

Then along comes a rebel like me who does his own thing and writes something a little bit different and the doors start to slam and the rejection letters come flying. “Not what’s selling right now.” “Mixed genre is hard to promote because of it has to be marketed to two or more audiences.” “You are a Murder Mystery author why are you sending us Young Adult Magical Fantasy?” So on and so forth….

We all know there are authors who have sold their souls and become story factories and I suppose if all you are in it for is money then why not? But surely there has to be something more. True I have spent a lot of time and effort developing a readership for my Murder Mysteries and I love them all and will continue to write for and give them what they enjoy to read.

Problem is that I also have other ideas rolling around in my head which do not fit neatly into that genre.  For example, a few years back during a visit to the States I was introduced to the American term ‘Dust Bunnies’.  At the time I had no idea what it meant but instantly my over developed sense of imagination kicked in and suddenly my head was full of tiny characters living on top of wardrobes, under chairs and beds. Obviously these poor creatures must live in perpetual fear of ‘OOMINS’ and their fiendish machine ‘OOVER’ not to mention his army of cleaners ‘HISST’ and his duster friends.

From that moment onwards it was obvious, well at least to me, that these guys needed a champion, someone to bring their plight to the attention of the World! I immediately accepted the challenge, but when I mentioned the idea I was asked, “you write mysteries what do you know about writing children’s stories?”

My answer… “Nothing…. but surely I can learn?”

Sure it’s a completely different market and a whole different audience, and obviously a brand new set of challenges ones that if I were to travel the conventional route would require me to prove myself to a new agency and probably a new publisher as well. Or in other words start all over again, but of course that’s not entirely true. I already have a loyal readership, many of whom have children and grandchildren of their own.

They are my marketing army, one that I know will help and take up my cause because I’ve just solved one of their future Christmas present problems!

Morgen: As a multi-genre self-pub eBooker myself, with a quirky imagination, I’m right there with you. 🙂

You can find more about Merlin and his work via… his website: www.merlin-fraser.com (which links to his books), his articles on www.Hubpages.com, and a new group he’s just started up (and has great hopes for) http://www.indiependents.org. I’ve seen it, it’s great. 🙂

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with novelist, humorist, short story author, columnist and writing guru Jane Wenham-Jones – the two hundred and forty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).

Author Spotlight no.48 – Bob Frey

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-eighth, is of mystery novelist and short story author Bob Frey.

Bob Frey loves to entertain, make people laugh and think, and, perhaps, shake them up a little. He was a copywriter for several top Los Angeles advertising agencies and received several awards for his creative work. When he turned to writing fiction, he found it was a whole new ballgame and he had a lot to learn. He has since published a couple of mysteries, The DVD Murders and The Bashful Vampire Murder & Comic Book Murders, and Catawampus Tales, a book of short stories, a mixed bag of fast food for the mind.

Also an actor, he has appeared in some forty independent films and stage plays. Now retired, he lives in Sandy, Oregon, with his wife, Susan.

And now from the author himself:

Why I wrote a gay mystery

My wife, Susan, is a big mystery fan. In fact, she belongs to a mystery book club that reads a book a month and then meets to talk about it. After writing several novels without publishing success, I decided to take a crack at a mystery. It occurred to me that there were no mystery novels with a gay protagonist, so that’s what I did.

It took a lot of, well, different research. I went to a gay bathhouse, stripped down to a towel, and walked around to see what I could see. I’ll admit I was a little edgy, not knowing what to expect. My wife, of course, thought I was crazy. To my surprise, nothing troublesome happened. Oh, a couple of guys made eye contact, but nobody hit on me. I did see some unusual, ah, sights, but I was in a gay bathhouse, so what did I expect? I walked around and noted all the different rooms or venues. Later, I learned from research on the web that the layout of all bathhouses is pretty much the same and is more or less based on cruising. For example, there was a steam room and showers, which were like the old YMCAs, and a video room that aped an adult movie theater. Then there were glory hole booths similar the ones in public toilets, you know where someone has made a hole in one of the dividers, and there was even a maze that took the place of bushes and shrubs in public parks. All and all, pretty creative when you think about it.

I have a section in The DVD Murders, where Frank Callahan, the main character, and his sidekick, Detective Barry Jennings, visit a gay bathhouse in search of the DVD serial killer. Here’s where a writer’s imagination takes over. I decided to switch the POV to Barry, a good guy but straight arrow. The result, as seen through Barry’s eyes, is probably an exaggeration of what actually goes on, but, as I have been told by several readers, it is pretty funny and adds some humor to an integral part of the plot.

I also went to some gay bars and cruising grounds without getting into trouble. All in all, my experiences did give me some idea of the ebb and flow of what goes on and helped add some authenticity to my writing. Once I had a draft with which I was reasonably happy, I advertised on Craig’s list for a gay book editor. The guy I picked not only helped me with gay aspects of the book—for example, the fact that cruising in mainly done on the web these days and bathhouses are now mainly used by older gentlemen—he was a terrific editor and added a great deal to the overall narrative. He was also helpful in helping me better understand the gay lifestyle.

Thank you so much Bob, that was fascinating… something tells me I may see the park differently next time I’m there with my dog. 🙂

You can find more about Bob and his writing via his website is http://www.BobFreyBooks.com, and read his Flash Fiction Friday no.16 and guest blog on this blog, and Bob will be returning (definitely a glutton for punishment for the full interview on Thursday 19th January). 🙂

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with poet Rainbow Reed – the two hundred and forty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).

Author Spotlight no.47 – Doug Simpson

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-seventh, is of Doug Simpson.

Doug Simpson is a retired high school teacher who has turned his talents to writing. After many years of research and study he commenced his writing career by producing articles using the archived readings of the legendary American mystic, Edgar Cayce. Through 2011, he has published over twenty articles in magazines and on websites in Australia, Canada, France, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. He does not publish his articles on his website. Instead, he refers visitors to his site to the magazines and websites where the articles can be read.

And now from the author himself:

After writing articles for eighteen months, I was inspired to commence the creation of my first novel. My articles using the Edgar Cayce readings primarily involved reincarnation and past lifetimes so it made perfect sense to me that I should write a novel using my acquired knowledge about the discovery of past lifetimes and the survival of the soul after death, and that is precisely what I did. Soul Awakening is a spiritual mystery inspired by a series of actual events.

Thank you Doug. And more about Doug and his writing…

For an interesting adventure, check his website at http://dousimp.mnsi.net. 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 bookstores around the world.

Soul Awakening is the story of three strangers, who are brought together by accident, or so it appears initially, but who ultimately discover that their unorthodox introductions were arranged by Divine Intervention. Dacque LaRose, the senior member of the trio, is the learned teacher who commenced an educational journey, ten years earlier, a month after the unfortunate passing of his wife, when her spirit appeared in their living room one evening with some inspirational advice for him. Already a casual believer in life after death of the body, Dacque eagerly researched the notion of survival of the soul and spirit after death, and his acquired knowledge led him to the possibility of reincarnation.
Dacque joined the snowbird migration, within a year of the death of his wife, and sold the family home in Ohio and landed in the south in the small retirees-dominated city of Anywhere. His research after his move to Anywhere introduced him to an area group called the Reincarnation Enlightenment Group, and he joined up. One of the founding members of the Group is a certified regression therapist who, as part of her research in the area of reincarnation, offers Group members past life regression sessions for free, in her spare time. Dacque requested three regression sessions and discovered ten of his previous incarnations, as well as learning that significant individuals in this lifetime had played primary roles in his earlier incarnations.
With Dacque’s elevated understanding of souls, spirits and life on ‘the other side’ there grew the realization that he was receiving communications from God, or more likely one of God’s messengers. It was messages from God that led him, in two separate incidents, to the younger members of the aforementioned trio of strangers. God first leads Dacque to befriend Dani Christian, an unemployed and depressed legal secretary who is not destitute but effectively alone in the city. Only days later, through a Divinely-orchestrated nose-dive into the sidewalk on his morning walk, Dacque is introduced to his rescuer, a Good Samaritan named Max Winston.
Over time, Dacque enlightens Dani and Max on his beliefs in the survival of the soul after death and reincarnation. Max and Dani obtain past-life regression sessions and they discover that their souls experienced a previous lifetime together that also included Dacque’s soul. Later Dani, Max and his parents uncover a series of earlier intertwined incarnations where they are descendants of their soul’s previous incarnations, and also discover some historical earlier incarnations that they never could have imagined.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with short story author and novelist Sarah England – the two hundred and forty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords.

Author Spotlight no.46 – Malcolm Welshman

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-sixth, is of Malcolm Welshman.

Malcolm began writing when he first joined a small animal veterinary hospital in West Sussex as a young vet, and started to attend evening classes in creative writing.  The exploits at the hospital were the source of ‘Interesting Stories from a Vet’s Casebook’, a series of anecdotal tales that ran in ‘My Weekly’ for fifteen years.

He went on to write a couple of booklets on kittens and puppies while continuing to dabble in features, providing copy for a variety of magazines such as People’s Friend, Yours, Parrot Magazine and Cat World.

On retiring from practice, he decided to write a novel, the outline of which had lain dormant in his files for ten years. Conceived in December 2005, ‘Pets in Prospect’ was born six weeks later in January 2006. The second publisher he approached, Robert Hale, accepted the book and it was published in hardback, paperback, large print, audio, Czech and Japanese. The subsequent publicity saw him give over 24 radio interviews and more than 40 talks, including four Literary Festivals.

The book was reissued as ‘Pets in a Pickle’ in May 2011 by John Blake Publishers; and the ebook version reached number two on Kindle’s bestseller list in September where it remained for two weeks.

The sequel, ‘Pets on Parade’, is to be published 2nd April of this year and the third is currently being written.

He continues to write features with recent contributions to Somerset Live, Sussex Life and three for the Daily Mail.

And now from the author himself:

When I found myself hopping across the precinct of our local shopping centre dressed in a white rabbit costume complete with fluffy pink ears, I did wonder whether I’d taken my quest for publicity for my latest novel, ‘Pets in a Pickle’, too far. But it did get my picture in the local newspaper in conjunction with National Red Cross Week – the rabbit gear had been a way to get local press coverage while holding a raffle for copies of my book to raise some ‘bucks’ for the Charity.

When the novel was first published by Robert Hale, back in 2006, entitled ‘Pets in Prospect’, I sat back and waited for the phone to ring. Nothing.  I scanned through the preview list and noticed a copy of ‘Pets in Prospect’ had been sent to Celia Haddon, then a columnist on the Saturday Telegraph.  She wrote about pets.  There was an e-mail address for her. I e-mailed her, apologising for contacting her in this way but wondered whether there’d be any chance of her taking a quick glance at my book and if so, providing me with a quote. Bless her, she came back in two days to say she was loving the book and here was a quote I could use.

That quote I passed on to the publicist on the Monday. She re-released the press statement to include the quote – it mentioned James Herriot – and it secured me three local radio interviews within the week. The ball started to roll.

When John Blake wanted to republish my novel under a new title, ‘Pets in a Pickle’, I had a lead in of six months before the publishing date of May 2nd 2011.

Having learnt my lesson from the first launch, I realised such quotes as the one from Celia Haddon, are a wonderful way to hook interest from the media and potential buyers. So I decided to make a concentrated effort to secure some for ‘Pets in a Pickle’ and make sure they were put in the new edition.  I eventually ended up with some generous quotes including ones from Sir Terry Wogan and Richard Madeley and a truly delightful foreword from James Herriot’s son.

In addition, this time round, there has been Kindle. There was an article by Stephen Leather in Writing Magazine on how he sold 7,000 ebooks in one day by slashing the price to 99p. I was on the phone to my publisher immediately.  They slashed the price of mine to 99p and the Kindle rating went from 22,000 to number 2 within a month.

We’re going to do the same when ‘Pets on Parade’ comes out in April.

It’s been five years since the first book. I loved writing the sequel and feel it’s much more character-based but still with some funny scenes. I just hope those who liked the first book will enjoy this one as much.

I loved this, thank you Malcolm (especially as I’m a Red Cross volunteer). Stephen is actually going to be my 250th interviewee on 16th January. I’d heard the same thing, although more about debut authors pricing themselves cheaply so readers will take a ‘risk’ (which is why mine are priced $1.49 :)). It makes sense to me as the cost of making it is the same whether one person buys it or a thousand. Thank you again Malcolm, do come back in April and talk about ‘Pets on Parade’. 🙂

You can find more about Malcolm and his work via www.malcolmwelshman.co.uk and Amazon.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with Margaret Falcon – the two hundred and thirty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords.

Author Spotlight no.45 – Mia Johansson

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-fifth, is of Mia Johansson.

Mia Johansson is a civil engineer living in Sweden, author of the fiction novel “Unfinished discussion about God – The diary of a time traveller” expected to be published 2012, and a variety of short stories. She is an occasional photographer interested in the architecture of old and modern cities, street life, a good cup of coffee and jazz. I have recently joined Google+ (late to the party, I know) and Mia is already there; you can view her stunningly attractive albums here. You can read two of Mia’s short stories (which was/will be also podcasted) on the Flash Fiction Fridays page (‘On the Bridge’ and ‘The Jazz and the Blues‘).

And now from the author herself:

…how I became a writer?  Well…

I really don’t know… If I am a writer at all. I did write some pages, some thoughts. But does it make me a writer?

I never thought or wished or even dreamed to be a writer. It just happened.

One day, two years ago, I said to myself: “I will write a book” and the next day I started to write. I had an idea about what I wanted to write but I had no idea at all about how to write a book. Rules and stuff like that you know, about writing, not that I am that kind of person that follows the rules in general either.

I lost the text three times somewhere in the outer space, the virtual one, meaning my laptop so I had to remake the story three times. Or was it four? And I re-read it kind of “thousand” times each time becoming something else (lol! wonder how it will look in the end).  It took me two years to finish the material for the “Unfinished discussion about God – The diary of a time traveler”.

Almost the same time I finished the text for the book, the chance to take a writing class occurred so I took it.  And as in my book’s story, so even in reality, my reality, everything went the other way round.  How? Why? Maybe it’s time to re-read my story. Again!

And so I became a writer.

Thank you so much Mia, and I look forward to reading more of your writing. 🙂

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with novelist and short story author Kimberly Todd Wade – the two hundred and thirty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords.