Archive for May, 2007

lorrie-2.jpg#1: In the short time of twelve years you’ve had over 450 non-fiction and fiction magazine credits, many of them in national publications. To what do you attribute such prolificacy?
There’s no magic answer, but I think four personality characteristics help. I’m very stubborn, hard-working, goal-driven, and flexible.
– On being stubborn: in order to succeed as a writer, you have to realize how tough the business is–even now, I receive mostly rejections. You must be able to keep yourself going. Sure, I get upset and mad, but I also get more determined.
– On being hard-working: though life seems determined to keep me from getting to my desk, I’ve written 50 hours a week while staying at home with my children. Our family’s moved six times in the past seven years. During one move, I had four parenting magazine assignments due. I’m proud to say I’ve never missed a deadline, and almost always, I turn in work very early. I also constantly work on improving my writing and educating myself about the market.
– On being goal-driven: I used to keep 100 things submitted at all times–this included very short items, such as filler and greeting card material. I also set my publishing goals high. Instead of starting out my submissions to lesser-known publications, I start at the top.
– On being flexible: I’m always willing to adapt to a magazine’s needs. When “Family Circle” called, and an editor was interested in the 2,000-word piece I’d pitched, she only had space for a 500-word piece, but offered $1.50 a word. Yes, I took the assignment! And yes, I figured out a way to slice out the article’s best fourth of its material. (Did I mention the piece was due on my baby’s due date?)
Sometimes, even with an editor and magazine I know well, a rewrite is asked. When that happens, I never complain and do exactly what the editor asks. Usually, it’s a case of an editor not knowing precisely what they want. For example, once, my “ParentLife” editor asked me to make a Christmas piece “warmer and fuzzier.” I’ve learned to ask very specific questions and help editors articulate what they’re looking for.

#2: Please tell our readers about Manuscripts Makeovers and the type of literary services you provide.
From 1995-2003, I operated a critique company called Manuscript Makeovers with two of my best writing friends. (Our web site is still on-line, as well as a bio of myself.) We offered detailed line-by-line editing, plus our three overall letters that spelled out suggestions and never forgot to compliment a writer on everything they’d done well. Because of splitting profits three ways (and realizing writers couldn’t afford to pay more than we already asked) and our busy lives’ other commitments, we decided to disband. We considered our work “teaching,” and most of our clients were repeat customers, telling us they learned more with our critiques than with college writing courses. We worked on everything from historical romance novels, sports non-fiction books, and horror short stories to children’s short stories and picture books.
In that same spirit of encouraging and guiding new and established writers, I recently decided to start my own company and call it reVISION. In each writer’s computer file of their work sent to me, I enter line-by-line suggestions (including punctuation, sentence structure, word trimming, and story logic). I also write a separate, very detailed feedback letter. I am tactful and gentle as possible, yet give an honest evaluation and work to give the writer clear ideas on how to fix any problems. I spend far more time than what makes financial sense, but I consider this work more than my career–it’s a blessing and a “mission” to help other writers.

#3: Describe to us a typical working day in Lorri Cardwell-Casey’s life.
I wish I had a “typical” working day! We have four children, from age 18 down to a 2-year-old. They are always my priority. This includes the 30 loads of weekly laundry, shopping, cooking, and housework. Thankfully, everyone helps around here, and I have an incredibly supportive husband. He is a business consultant and when he’s not on a trip, his flexible career allows him to take over many of my duties. (Up until the past few years, he worked 60-90 hours a week as an executive, so this is a positive change for our family.)
Usually, around here, things are always lively–the doorbell and phone and instant-messaging are ringing, the dog’s barking, the baby’s squealing and running around like a little clown. I’m juggling whatever the day’s appointments are, the kids’ school and sport schedules, and just hoping to make it to my home office at some point. I’m lucky, because I can work despite a loud noise-level and can also work when I’m waiting at doctor offices or ball games, tuning out most things around me. I’ve came to realize through the years that if my life wasn’t this full, I’d have nothing to write about. Some of my best articles and stories came about because of the craziness of our life. And there will never be a perfect time for writing. You have to carve out your writing time, despite everything else going on in your life.
I also have to overcome my own health problems in order to work effectively. I have serious heart and lung problems, plus severe arthritis. None of my conditions are curable, but my doctors and I are constantly tinkering with medications to handle symptoms like fatigue, fever, and pain. If I have a writing assignment, I do it in stages. I work really hard on my good health days and rest more on days I’m struggling.
Ideally, I like to work early in the morning before everyone else gets up. That’s when my brain has always felt most at full capacity. But I’m learning that I work almost as well, whatever the time, if I’m feeling passion for something. That’s why I enjoy writing so many different types of material. It’s my personality to multi-task and jump around to different projects. I use my laptop upstairs in our living room or in our bedroom and work afternoons/evenings while doing other things. My new mantra is I’m doing the best I can. And doing far better than most people would in my situation! Do make yourself work hard, but don’t forget to give yourself any needed break.

#4: What are the most common writing mistakes, in fiction and non-fiction, you encounter as an editor?
I think fiction is far tougher to get right. Most people include too much. You can learn from the formula for children’s fiction: a quick beginning, a 3-part middle (boom, boom, boom), and a snappy ending. Some other tips:
– Read a great paragraph on page two or three. Would the story stand if you started there and ditched everything before this?
– I advise focusing upon your verbs. If you use active, specific verbs, you can snip out the unnecessary other stuff that bog down your story.
– Don’t tell the reader what already happened. If it’s important enough to include, show the reader as it unfolds in the most interesting, tightest wording possible.
– Check your manuscript for words like “have,” “had,” “can,” “could,” “would,” “was,” “were,” “that,” “just,” “really,” “very,” “been,” and “to be.”
– Reword and/or reorder sentences, so that you don’t need to start with phrases like “there was.”
– Develop your main character so completely, your reader is inside him and knows what makes him tick. Will your reader care enough about this person to want the problem to work out? Will your reader identify? Is your character too flawed? Or worse, too perfect?
– Make sure your subject has some twist upon the norm.
In non-fiction, you need to be as creative as you are with your fiction. No one wants to read an encyclopedia piece. Figure out how to pull in the reader, and keep her with you. Again, find a new twist on the norm, and you’ll probably make a sale. My non-fiction is probably 95% of my credits. Remember that if you want to be published, give yourself a head start. Submit non-fiction. Your competition is drastically reduced. Editors need non-fiction for the bulk of their publications.
The #1 worst mistake I personally think you can make in fiction or non-fiction is for your work to be boring!

#5: Let’s say a writer has just finished writing a book. What is the best, most efficient approach when editing one’s own work? Any helpful tips?
First, congratulations! Just finishing a book is a huge accomplishment! Now, it’s time to forget about it. What, you say? Forget about it? Yes. Print off your book. Put the pages in a file or a pile, and don’t read a single word for as many weeks as you can stand. Don’t open the computer file. After at least two weeks, preferably a month, schedule enough time to read the entire thing. Pretend it’s not yours. Where does your book ramble? Where does it get dry? Start jotting improvements on your hard copy, since it’s easier to spot needed changes than on the screen. Print off other copies for several trusted readers, people who will be honest. Ask them to note on the margins how they felt reading it. Ask them to be nice, because this is your baby, but also ask them why they would or why they wouldn’t buy this book. Start working on the imaginary book jacket material. This can also help you fine-tune things. If it’s tough to briefly describe your book, you probably have serious problems with the plot.
During the time when you’re letting your material “age” and not re-reading it, work on your possible markets. If you don’t have an agent, study the most current Writer’s Market and find publishers that seem appropriate to submit to. Decide what genre(s) your book falls into. At the back of WM, cross-reference those genre categories and make a list of publishers falling into more than one of these. Go to the library and look at their books. Study Amazon.com for their book listings. Google their editors’ names. Go to their web sites and print their guidelines. Study writing advice on how to write great cover and query letters. The more work you do in this phase, the lower your chances for a rejection.
When you feel your book is as good as you can make it, start submitting. If you’re patient with your own editing process and the submission process, you are a professional. If you are also impatient and thus, keep working and working and working, you will be a successful professional.

#6: You’ve written so many short pieces. Have you ever considered writing a full-length novel? Maybe in the future?
I’ve not only considered it, I’ve been attempting to do it for many years. Though I have material published in four books, I don’t consider those “my” books. I have several children’s novels either completed or in-progress and am actively submitting those whenever possible. (We’re living in our nineteenth home and eighth state, so I think I’ve done okay under these circumstances.) Most people don’t realize it’s harder to break into the children’s market than into the adult book market. That’s because there are still so many poorly-written children’s books out there. People assume it’s easy, and that’s what you do before you try the adult market. That’s my pet peeve, if you can’t tell. I’m often asked if I plan on writing for adults after I learn what I’m doing in the children’s field. But I happen to think writing for children is the highest calling possible and that only the “chosen” get to succeed at it. I respect and love kids and write “up” to them, not “down” to them.
As my children become older and more independent, I hope to spend more time on my novel-writing. And hopefully, more time promoting all the novels I’ve published!
I also have one adult novel I started many years ago, very loosely based upon my aunt’s murder. At first, our family thought she drowned. Because the material is darker, it’s tougher for me to focus upon it and jump into it and out of it with all the family hubbub around me. I hope to finish it and have a rather odd personal drive to do so. My mom tells me I started the novel at exactly the age my aunt was when she died, my hair was cut in a shag at that time, similar to my aunt’s style, and half the time, my mom calls me “Mary,” her sister’s name, because I look and act a lot like she did. One night when I was up late working on it, the electricity went out, but only in my office. I felt a strange, prickly sensation and my aunt’s spirit with me. It freaked me out, so I ended upstairs in my closet, writing on a legal pad, feeling less scared, nearer my husband and children. It just so happened that I was working on the death scene and trying to get it just right, so it seemed my aunt “won,” even though she died. I always took that experience to mean that I had done it well, and my aunt approved of my efforts. She had a famous sense of humor, and I think she got a good after-life laugh out of my scared skedaddle up our stairs and seeing me hover in that closet!
My mom and I both seem to be blessed (or cursed) with extra-sensory abilities. We know things about people we love. My mom and her sister were less than a year apart, their relationship very close. The night my aunt died, my mom was actually dreaming her sister was drowning (later, we learned at the exact time of death) and telling Mom things about her regrets in life, but how everything was going to be okay now. My mom still grieves, but feels peace because of that dream.

#7: For those interested in your literary services, what is the best way to get in touch with you?
Thanks for asking. I wish I had my web site established, but I don’t. If a writer would like a price quote and time estimate for a project, they can e-mail me the information at LORRICASEY@aol.com. I normally turn around my work in less than two weeks. If someone decides to send their work, I ask for an e-mail attachment (.txt or .doc) with work double-spaced, in 12-point font. Or if someone prefers old-fashioned snail-mail, I can do that, too, at:
Lorri Cardwell-Casey
800 Tomahawk Court
Marshfield, MO 65706 U.S.

Interview by Mayra Calvani

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Reading Like A Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
By Francine Prose
Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0-06-077704-3
Copyright 2006
Hardcover, 273 pages, $23.95

Why was it okay for Gabriel Garcia Marquez to write a book-long paragraph but not okay for the average writer today? Why is there so much ‘telling’ and not ‘showing’ in classic novels when editors keep telling writers that just the opposite is the correct form? What is it about authors like Chekhov, Tolstoy, Nabokov or Woolf that either makes the average writer wince with terror or sigh with longing—and envy! Can a fledgling writer learn from these and other great masters… and still enjoy the road in the process?

Distinguished novelist, critic and essayist Francine Prose answers these questions and more in this fascinating study of how paying particular attention to the sentences and techniques of great classic authors can enrich the mind and actually improve a person’s writing style. Prose warns the novice writer against only reading works of today’s commercial, bestselling authors and advices to “slow down and read every word” in the case of classic novels. She uses an eloquent analogy to demonstrate her point: “It’s something like the way you experience a master painting, a Rembrandt or a Velazquez, by viewing it not only far away but also up close, in order to see the brushstrokes.”

Using key examples taken from various masterpieces, Prose demonstrates in separate chapters how to pay special attention to words, sentences, paragraphs, narration, character, dialogue, and details, and gesture. Which masterpieces should a writer read? A list of titles “to be read immediately” is included at the end of the book.

A sophisticated, smart, must read for writers who love language and the classics and who are serious about their own writing.

*This review originally appeared in Armchair Interviews, http://www.armchairinterviews.com

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jwolf.jpgPlease tell us about your ezine, Musings: A Magazine of Words. How did it get started?
Well, it kind of started in a round about way. I had been trying to submit stories to publications, online EZines and different magazines and found the market very tough. There are a lot of writers out there and plenty for the magazines to choose from.

Through out my writing career, I’ve always dreamed of working on a magazine. One that would have a literary bent, which would feature other writers and their work. I wanted a magazine that was different from others. Most focus on just poetry or just fiction. I wanted a magazine that would focus on anything the written word had to offer.

As I started self-publishing some of my material and my work, I became more knowledgeable in what it would take to run a magazine. I put out two issues, for September and October 2006, to test the waters. The response was highly favourable.

I knew it could do more, though. I decided to get serious about MUSINGS: A Magazine of Words because I knew it could be a literary treat or a stepping stone for another authors career. So instead of simply publishing the magazines off of my web site, I made a site just for MUSINGS that included everything an author looking to submit would need to know.

Then I started asking around for submissions, knowing that I wanted the magazine to be as diversified as possible, as different from anything that was out there. I experimented with formats, cover design and layout. I took a short graphic design course and learned how to format a magazine. I studied other magazines like Oprah and Mental Floss to see how they laid out their work. I looked at other literary magazines that followed the same idea; Tin House magazine was a real find. It has a little bit of everything literary. So I knew there was a market for MUSINGS.

When submissions started coming in, I was happy. When more started to come in, I was thrilled. MUSINGS is a celebration of word and there are so many out there waiting to be written. All in all, it took about three years from brainstorm to the publication of our new April issue to finally get MUSINGS where I wanted it to be.

It was a long, bumpy road, but I’m glad I travelled it.

Is Musings open to submissions? What kind of material are you looking for?MUSINGS is always open to submission. We publish a new issue every two months, so we’re always looking for work by new or established authors. As for material, I love anything having to do with the written word. But here are a few examples of what I’m looking for:

Flash Fiction
Short Stories
Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
Blog Entries
Columns and Articles

I even enjoy doing interviews with authors.

What is the most challenging aspect of managing an ezine? The most rewarding?

I find the most challenging aspect of managing a magazine is promoting it. It’s all well and dandy to format it and put the magazine together. But how do you get it out there into the hands of everyone who might like to read it? How do you let people know about it?

I’m always trying to come up with new ideas to promote the magazine. One idea was to start a blog featuring all the contributors to MUSINGS. It’s called MUSINGS: A Blog and you can find it here: http://www.musingswords.blogspot.com/ It’s a way for the writers who contribute to MUSINGS to communicate with readers when they’re waiting for the new issue.

I also know that visual media is really important for catching someone’s interest. So I put together a small movie trailer for MUSINGS and I put it on the blog but, most importantly, also at YouTube. You can view the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diRDokWIyRU I wanted those that may not read to want to read MUSINGS. Thus far, the video has been really popular.

The most rewarding aspect of running MUSINGS is hearing how happy the authors are when they see their work published. It never fails to make my day when I get a lovely email from one of the MUSINGS writers. I always love getting emails from readers too, letting me know how much they enjoyed one story or another. Knowing that something in MUSINGS has touched a readers life is an amazing thing.

In addition to being a magazine editor, you’re also an author. Please tell us a little about your books, both fiction and non-fiction, and where they’re available.

I write several different genres. Primarily, I write speculative fiction. I have a trilogy of urban fantasy novels titled Electric Pink, Electric Blue and Electric Red. I also have a book of short stories that is primarily fantasy entitled Garden City. You can find these at my web site located here: www.jamiesonwolf.co.nr/ They’re published by Long Story Short Publications.

I also have three non-fiction works available. Finding the Muse is a book on how to write from inspiration. It’s also published by Long Story Short Publications and is also available as a workshop. You can find more information about it at my site at www.jamiesonwolf.co.nr/ I also have a book of essays on Stephen Kings Dark Tower series that is available for free on my web site.

My new book, WRITE NOW! Exercises for the Aspiring Writer, is about how to write. It’s for those who have always wished they could write. I show them where to start and how to build on what they’ve learned. You can find WRITE NOW! At it’s web site located here: http://want-to-write-now.tripod.com/

How would you compare and contrast the writing process for fiction vs. non-fiction? Which one is your favorite?
Writing fiction and non-fiction aren’t all that different. Whether it be a story you’re making up yourself or a factual subject your writing about, you still have to paint a picture of it with words. There is research involved with writing fiction and non-fiction and the writing process is often the same for me.

There are differences though; with fiction, a story can go anywhere you want it to. With non-fiction, you have to remain truthful and stick to the facts. I never used to like writing non-fiction. I found the genre dry and boring and didn’t read very much of it either.

However, I just had to find something I was passionate about. I write about learning how to write and that I enjoy. I thrive on that. I’ve written a short book of personal essays about Stephen Kings Dark Tower series. That I love because the books are something I obsess over. It took me a while to discover that writing non-fiction should be as enthralling as fiction; you just have to find the right subject.

You also review books for your blog, The Book Peddler. What type of books do you consider for reviewing? What is your stance with poorly-written, mediocre books?
I review almost anything for The Book Pedler. You can find The Book Pedler here:

Fantasy, science fiction, chick lit, mysteries, thrillers. I love it all. I read pretty much everything (and recently quite a few biographies and memoirs) because I’ve never believed in limiting what I read.

That’s like getting a box of chocolates and getting only caramel centres. I love caramel centres but I want variety. Variety is the spice of life, even in your reading.

As for poorly written books, there are a lot out there. And I mean A LOT. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something good about them. The story may have a fire that lights it, the characters may be engaging. There is always something. I’m usually honest in my reviews but I tend to find something I like about any book I read. Otherwise, why would I spend time reading it?

Do you think there is a lot of ‘facile praise’ on the net when it comes to book reviewing? If yes, why do you think this is so? Print publications don’t usually have this problem.

I don’t think so. Regardless of the medium, whether it be the Internet or on paper, reviews should be honest, thought provoking and readable. Speaking as a book reviewer, I try to be as honest as I possibly can when I review a book. I tell people if I don’t like it or if I do. But it should always be up to the person reading the review whether or not they want to read the book; the review shouldn’t change that.

Reviews, especially on the internet, give a reader an idea of what the book is about, what to expect and whether or not they may enjoy it. I can’t think of any better use for the internet. It gives easy access to any information you could possibly need about a book. You just have to decide for yourself which reviews are good and which ones are bad; this is true of any review whether it be on paper or on the Internet.

Would you say that review blogs are becoming as powerful as review sites, or do you think blogs still have a long way to go?
Book review blogs and book review sites are on par with each other, I think. They each appeal to a different type of reader. I think blogs are working their way up to becoming more popular than review sites, but not necessarily more powerful. I don’t think it’s a question of power, really.

More, what format are the reviews being delivered? What kind of reviews? Saying that a review blog is less powerful than a review site simply because it’s a blog, when they both offer the same service, is a bit odd. Blogs will eventually out do sites in terms of popularity, but review sites are here to stay.

How do you promote your magazine and blog to attract visitors? Do you have any specially effective strategies you would like to share?

I’m always trying to come up with new ideas to promote the magazine. As previously mentioned, I’ve started a blog featuring all the contributors to MUSINGS. It’s called MUSINGS: A Blog and you can find it here:

Enjoyable blogs are in high demand, so I look at the MUSINGS blog as a different format of the magazine. It’s more open, more friendly. And it offers quick, fun articles for those who may not have the time to sift through an entire issue of MUSINGS.

I also know that visual media is really important for catching someone’s interest. So I put together a small movie trailer for MUSINGS and I put it on the blog but, most importantly, also at YouTube. You can view the trailer here:

As well as the YouTube Trailer and the Blog, I also promote the Magazine in my newsletter that goes out to subscribers once a month. I announce the Magazine and submission information in different writing groups, email lists, etc.

One thing I’m going to try is having a cover contest for our June issue. This way, more people will hear about the magazine and, hopefully, want to read it.

Promoting is all about getting the word out anyway you can. I’ve done up press releases, released information about the magazine in online directories, etc. We’ve had almost two hundred people download a copy of MUSINGS in less than a month, so I guess something must be working. 

Do you have a website where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Of course I do! Here are links where you’ll be sure to find all the information you might need.

Web site: www.jamiesonwolf.co.nr

Blog: www.jamiesonwolf.blogspot.com

What advice would you give to fledging writers who are trying to break into print?

Keep writing. Write every day and have fun with it.

The internet is a great tool and a great resource as well. There are tons of different markets on the internet, EZines that publish poems and fiction. It may not always be a paying market, but its exposure.

And never be afraid of rejection. I receive at least one rejection letter a week. Chances are if one person doesn’t like what you’ve written, someone else will.

One last piece of advice: Always believe in yourself. You are your own worst critic, so be nice to yourself, okay?

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t1.jpgDo you consider yourself a born writer?

Some people know from when they’re very young that they want to grow up to write books. I wasn’t one of those people. I wanted to be an astronaut, but NASA wasn’t interested in wannabe astronauts who suffered from motion sickness. Although I always enjoyed creative writing when I was in school, I never considered it as a possible career back then.

How long have you been an author?
I’ve spent a good deal of my adult life authoring non-fiction articles, so I guess you could say that I’ve been an author all that time. If you mean an author of novels, I wrote my first manuscript 12 years ago. Was it worth the trees that sacrificed their lives for it? Definitely not.

You write in various genres—romance, mystery, romantic suspense, chick-lit. Which one is your favorite? Any themes which obsess you?
Remember the song lyric, “When you’re not with the one you love, love the one you’re with”? That sort of sums up the way I feel about the various genres I write. They’re all my favorites while I’m writing in them. But what I really like to do is write outside the box, so I often write in a combination of genres (which can drive marketing departments batty.) TALK GERTIE TO ME, my first published book, was a combination of romantic comedy, chick lit, and hen lit with a dollop of the paranormal, thanks to Gertie, the imaginary friend of one of the main characters.

As for themes, I’ve spent a good deal of my life as a designer, writer, and editor in the consumer crafts industry. So many of my books draw upon those experiences. However, I don’t know that I’m obsessed with any themes so much as I am with characters. I’ve met a lot of quirky people over the years, and they’ve become the inspiration for some of the characters in my books.

Tell us about your latest release. What is it about? What inspired you to write such a story?

I think Dottie, one of the reviewers at RomanceJunkies, summed up LOVE, LIES AND A DOUBLE SHOT OF DECEPTION best when she described it as having “a bit of everything – wit, suspense, sensuality, romance, and warmth.”

Life has delivered one sucker punch after another to Emma Wadsworth. As a matter of fact, you could say the poor little rich girl is the ultimate poster child for Money Can’t Buy Happiness — even if she is no longer a child.

Billionaire real estate stud Logan Crawford is as famous for his less-than-platinum reputation as he is his business empire. In thirty-eight years he’s never fallen in love, and that’s just fine with him — until he meets Emma.

But Emma’s not buying into Logan’s seductive ways. Well, maybe just a little, but she’s definitely going into the affair with her eyes wide open. She’s no fool. At least not any more. Her deceased husband saw to that. Besides, she knows Logan will catch the first jet out of Philadelphia once he learns her secrets.

Except things don’t go exactly as Emma has predicted, and when Philadelphia’s most beloved citizen become the city’s most notorious criminal, she needs to do a lot more than clear her name if she wants to save her budding romance with the billionaire hunk someone is willing to kill for.

Remember how I mentioned that my first manuscript wasn’t worth the trees that sacrificed their lives for it? That manuscript came about because 12 years ago I had a dream that wouldn’t leave me alone. Each night it unfolded like the chapters of a book. After several weeks I decided to write the dream down. The next thing I knew I’d given birth to Emma and Logan and a 50,000 word manuscript that spanned three and a half decades. Over the years as I grew as a writer, I’d drag Emma and Logan out from under the bed and tinker with them and their story. I liked them too much to assign them to spend eternity with the dust bunnies. Eventually that 50,000 word romance that spanned 35 years was rewritten as a 95,000 word romantic suspense that takes place over the course of a few months. And that’s how LOVE, LIES AND A DOUBLE SHOT OF DECEPTION came to be.

How many books have you written? Have they all been released by the same publisher?
Tell us a bit about your other books.

I’ve written eight other books besides TALK GERTIE TO ME and LOVE, LIES AND A DOUBLE SHOT OF DECEPTION (which are both published by Dorchester Publishing), but so far those are the only two I’ve sold. The others, along with several proposals, are currently under consideration at several different houses.

In addition, I contributed a short story to a charity anthology that was released this past February by Freya’s Bower. All proceeds from the sales of DREAMS & DESIRES go to a shelter for battered women in Florida. I’ll have another short story in DREAMS & DESIRES, VOLUME 2 next year.

When working on a novel, what is your schedule like? How long does it usually take you to finish a full-length book? Do you edit as you write or do you cough up the first draft and leave the polishing for later?
My schedule varies because I still work as a designer, so my days are often dictated by whether or not I’m on a design deadline. Some days I don’t write at all; other days I write for 8 or 9 hours straight. It usually takes me around 6 months to write a book, but that can vary. As for editing, I both edit as I write and edit after the first draft is finished. I have two fantastic critique partners and an agent who’s great at offering editorial input. So my manuscripts might go through several rounds of revisions based on what they have to say about them.

Some writers listen to music or go for a walk when they feel particularly dry for ideas. Is there anything you do to spark your creativity?
I’m a news junkie. When I see a news article, human interest story, editorial, or even a letter to Dear Abby that I feel has plot or character potential, I cut it out and put it in my IDEAS file. When I get stuck, I read through the clippings in the file and usually find something that triggers my muse.

Technically speaking, what do you have to struggle the most when crafting a novel?

Usually, I have a pretty good idea who the main characters will be, the opening scene, and how I want the story to end. The struggle is getting from A to Z in a way that will make readers want to keep turning pages.

Fledgling writers often try to emulate their favorite author’s style. Did you experience this when you first started writing? If yes, who was your role model?There are authors I admire, but I don’t think I ever consciously tried to emulate their styles. Three of my favorite authors are Sandra Brown, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Janet Evanovich.

With so many books published, how do you promote your work and still have time to write, or vice versa? Do you follow a planned writing/marketing schedule? Any tips you would like to share with other authors?
Since I felt my time was better spent writing, I made the decision to hire a publicist who specializes in promoting romance and mystery authors. I believe it was money well spent. She already had the connections. I would have had to reinvent the wheel. And given that I’m already currently juggling three careers (besides writing and designing, I work as an associate for a literary agency), I didn’t think it made sense to add a fourth career to my schedule. After all, there are just so many hours in the day, and a girl does need her beauty sleep, right?

What I do on my own is take road trips to do stock signings. Booksellers love to have authors drop by to sign stock because autographed copies of books sell better than non-autographed copies. And whether your publisher has paid co-op dollars for placement or not, most booksellers will move signed copies to a more prominent location in the bookstore.

Any upcoming books on the horizon?
In addition to DREAMS & DESIRES, VOLUME 2, I was invited to contribute to HOUSE UNAUTHORIZED from BenBella Books. It’s a series of essays about the TV show and will be out this coming November. As for more novels, I’m hoping to be able to announce a few more sales shortly.

What frustrates you the most about the publishing world?
Hmm…best to keep that to myself .

Do you have a website where readers may find more about you and your work?Readers can visit me at www.loiswinston.com where they’ll find excerpts of my books, a video for LOVE, LIES AND A DOUBLE SHOT OF DECEPTION, articles about writing, links to other interesting sites, contests, and more. I also have an e-newsletter they can sign up to receive.

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Do you consider yourself a born writer?
No. In fact, when I was a child I hated to read. School book reports were a nightmare. Even though my teacher in eighth grade sent my poem, “Stars”, to a high school anthology, and it was published, I hated to write. I never would have imagined that someday I’d do just that.

When did you decide to become an author?
I don’t believe I consciously decided to become an author, but when I started reading to my sons, I discovered books were fun and entertaining, and I learned a lot from them. I also became a teacher and read to my students, mostly Newbery and Caldecott winners. Perhaps this is where the idea that I might write began. The June 2007 issue of The Writer magazine contains my breakthrough article.

I know you write young adult fiction. Is there any other genre you enjoy working on?

I write middle grade, too, and have tried a couple of picture books.

Tell us about your latest release. What is it about? What inspired you to write such a story?rebel_in_blue_jeans_coveredit.jpgRebel in Blue Jeans is due out sometime in 2007 in trade paperback. Sixteen-year-old Rebel Ferguson is having a bad year. She has to deal with her mother who has run away with the drummer in a rock band, her father who has started drinking, the boy on the neighboring ranch who suddenly wants to be more than a friend, and a handsome college guy with a bad reputation who has taken an interest in her.

We read a lot about divorce and how it affects the children, especially younger ones. I decided to write about the influence of divorce on teenagers, at least on one teen.

When working on a novel, what is your schedule like? How long does it usually take you to finish a full-length book? Do you edit as your write or do you cough up the first draft and leave the polishing for later?
I’m a morning person and try to write from 9 am to noon. My brain stops after that, and I usually work on promo or do research in the afternoons. I write slowly because I edit as I go along. I hate to do it that way, but I can’t seem to get past a paragraph or a sentence until it makes sense. I can’t just jot down my thoughts, which would speed things up. I have to watch the research, too, or I’ll spend the morning reading all sorts of interesting articles on the Internet. I’ll use some of it, but it could wait until later. There’s really no set time it takes me to finish a book. I started my recent wip in May 2006, finished the rough draft in September 2006. The first revision took from September 2006, to March 2007. I’ve already added a stack of Post-it notes for ideas for the next edit. This story is resting now, while I work on my middle grade. More edits will follow. How many I haven’t a clue.

Fledgling writers often try to emulate their favorite author’s style. Did you experience this when you first started writing? If yes, who was your role model?I did and still do, to a point. I have to be careful, because when I read a book that I really like, I think I should write that way, and it messes up the story I’m working on. No one role model, in particular, just whomever I happen to be reading at the moment. Some authors I really like their style are Stephanie Meyer, Sarah Dessen, Scott Westerfeld, Jodi Picoult, Ally Carter, Gail Giles, Dean Koontz, and I could go on and on. I’m easily influenced.

With so many books published, how do you promote your work and still have time to write, or vice versa? Do you follow a planned writing/marketing schedule? Any tips you would like to share with other authors?
Promotion is hard for me. I’d rather be writing. Even though I taught elementary school children for years, I’m a shy person. My voice fades away into nothing when I’m talking to a group of people. To promote my books, I’ve sent brochures to local and area schools for school visits, because I’m comfortable speaking with children. I’m waiting for replies. Book signings at libraries and book stores are not so intimidating and actually fun. I’ve sold few books that way, however. I’m looking into an online blog tour that several authors have done. I’m working on a movie trailer, which may never be finished. I also donate my books to contests, such as Teens Read Too. Anything to get my books out there and in the hands of teen readers. I’ve tried local festivals, but the booth rental was more than the profit I made from my books.

As far as schedules, I usually write Monday through Friday and work on promotion on Saturday. Some weekday afternoons I type letters to mail and make brochures. I order bookmarks, pencils, and other giveaways.

Tips: All I can say is try different things to see what works. Contact area newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations. (Next on my to-do list.)

Any upcoming books on the horizon?
Yes. Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines should be out soon in e-book. The story is set in Vicksburg, Mississippi, when the city was under siege during the Civil War. Also, my first middle-grade novel, I Live in a Doghouse, is under contract. One day this little voice whispered in my ear, “I live in a doghouse.” Of course I had to ask him why. And the story developed from there.

Do you have a website where readers may find more about you and your work?
My Web site is http://www.beverlystowemcclure.com
My blogs are: http://beverlyjean.livejournal.com/ http://www.myspace.com/beverlywriter

What advice would you give to those young adult fiction authors who are trying to break into print?
Never give up. Write your story. Don’t try to write another Harry Potter. Edit, edit, edit. If you’re in a critique group, let them read your manuscript. (I’m not.) Search the markets. Even if a house is closed to submissions, sometimes they will read a query. Check message boards, such as the SCBWI for updated information on publishing houses. Then mail it and get busy on your next work.

If there was one book you’d recommend as absolute read for aspiring young adult fiction authors, what would that be?
That’s tough. There are so many good ones. I like Writing for Young Adults by Sherry Garland.

Please leave us with some words of wisdom.

Whether you’ve chosen to be a writer or writing has chosen you, write the best story you can write. Children deserve nothing less. Your reward is not the money (though that would be nice), but receiving that letter from a child, telling you how much he/she likes your book and how he/she relates to the main character.

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Are you afraid to write?

If you are, don’t worry. Most writers live in fear. Fear can even work to your advantage and make your writing sparkle. Fear shows passion, and passion often makes good writing. It also shows you care. The important thing is to use that fear, to control it before it controls you.

What kind of fears go through the writer’s mind? The list is long, but the most common seem to be:

* Will I pull this off?
* Are my words pathetic?
* Will I find a good publisher?
* Will I be ridiculed by readers, friends and family?
* Will I discover things about myself I’d rather not know?
* Will other people discover things about me I’d rather they didn’t know?

At every stage of the creative process, there’s a level of fear. This, by the way, doesn’t apply only to writers, but also to artists, composers—any person whose work is creative.

When I start a new book, I’m always afraid I won’t finish it. When I finish it, I’m afraid I won’t be able to find a publisher for it. When I find a publisher for it, I’m afraid reviewers will hate it. When reviewers love it, I’m afraid the people won’t buy it. On and on it goes.

While writing a book, one of the best ways to reduce fear is to focus on the pure love of the craft itself, instead of on the finished product—the published book. It is important to come to terms with your fear. To see it as a friend instead of an enemy, a friend to be handled and controlled.

One problem for fiction writers is that many people, including friends and family, often assume that your characters are based on yourself. They ask, “Did this really happen to you?” This is so irritating! Especially if you write vampire novels! This can cause fear in the writer, and can even turn your words into boring, perfect little soldiers. In other words, it affects the otherwise spontaneity of your prose. As a writer, you need total freedom to express your creativity. Freedom to be honest. Honesty makes any writing come alive.

Another assumption (this, by the way, is usually a correct one) is that your characters are based on friends or family members. I remember an anecdote my creative writing teacher told me back in college. He was a successful author of many mystery novels. It seems he based one of his characters on his obnoxious uncle… Well, let’s just say the uncle in question never again stepped foot in his house. My teacher had done it in such a professional manner that there was no way of legally proving anything in court, yet the uncle knew without the shadow of a doubt that the character was based on himself. On the other hand, this is an effective way for getting rid of “unwanted” family members. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and get yourself sued.

I have a great-aunt who often says, “I can’t come to terms with you writing those horror books… You always were such a sweet child.”

I tell her, “I still am. Believe me, I wouldn’t hurt a fly. Soap operas make me cry.”

She must have read that part in one of my books where a corpse, drained of blood, is cut into pieces and stuffed into a luggage. Ah, well.

Mayra Calvani is an author and book reviewer.

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Interview with Beverley Bateman

I understand you were an avid reader of Nancy Drew as a child. Did you start writing stories at an early age, too?Yes. I think I’ve always been writing. In school I was always making up stories about people being killed in locked rooms and hunting down the killers. I kept writing down plots and ideas for books for years. I have a huge folder filled with ideas.

Please tell us a bit about your books—Fade to Black, Just Like You, and Death Comes in Red. What was your inspiration for these novels? In what way being an abuse investigator and public health nurse help you create these stories?
Well, let’s see, Fade to Black is a Romantic Suspense about Holly Devine, a wealthy socialite who wakes up with amnesia.

No one files a missing report on her and she has no idea who she is, no place to live and no money. An older woman with Alzheimer’s befriends her and hires her to be a companion on a Caribbean cruise.

Eric Petersen is an Interpol agent, on the trail of international jewel thieves. He’s posing as a cruise ship doctor and is beginning to suspect Holly and her companion are the jewel thieves.
Holly and Eric are attracted to each other but he’s struggling with the possibility of Holly being the jewel thief. When Holly finds out she’s a suspect she’s furious.
Holly struggles to regain her memory. It begins to return in glimpses and flashes. At the same time it appears that someone is out to kill her. There are several near miss attempts on her life.

Eric races against the clock to clear her name and prevent the killer from being successful.

Death Comes in Red is the second in the Holly Devine series. Holly has recovered her memory. She is an ex-socialite without any money. She has a house but no income so she finds work as an assistant to a private detective. He uses her when he needs someone to talk to the rich and famous. This time Holly finds herself involved in illegal arms dealing and murder. She’s working with the ATF to catch a man who murdered his wife and is bringing in a large shipment of illegal weapons. Eric is working on cracking an International group that steals expensive art works. When Holly is kidnapped by the arms dealer Eric rushes home to find her and prevent her death.

just_like_you1.jpgJust Like You is a Medical Thriller based on cloning. In this book they are doing cloning by design so people can order children to meet specifics in looks, athletics, brains, etc. To work closely with the sexy Dr. Adam Marsden, Evie Dalton accepts a contracted position in a hospital located in the middle of nowhere. The hospital supposedly provides privacy for the rich and famous who want to have plastic surgery or other procedures they don’t want the paparazzi to find out about. During surgery their cells and DNA is stolen and used to clone designer children. Body parts are also part of the dark side of the hospital. Employees are paid unbelievably high wages but cannot leave the hospital to spend any money, and when their contract is fulfilled the staff are killed for their DNA.
Now Evie and Adam are running for their lives.

I don’t know where the inspiration comes from. It must be my muse because I suddenly come up with a possible plot and then I work with the characters to see if it’s their story. For me the plotting is the most fun. And I guess that’s where my experience as an abuse investigator comes in. I learned to ask the right questions; listen and observe and hopefully, assess the situation accurately.

Some of your books have won awards. Do you think awards are necessary for building name recognition and boosting sales?
No. I doubt if most readers know whether a contest is a prestigious one or not. I think they may cause a reader to pick up the book to check it out. If they like the cover; the back cover blurb and maybe the first few pages – I think that’s why the reader will buy a book – which will build name recognition and sales. Word of mouth also helps.

Any upcoming books on the horizon?
Yes. I have one coming out in July of this year – Death Awaits. It’s another Romantic suspense.

In this one a single, mother witnesses a contract killing. Now she and her son are running for their lives. The police want her as a witness. The killer wants her dead.

Are there any famous romantic suspense authors who you think are overrated? If yes, in what way?

Oh, wow, that’s loaded question. I’m not sure it’s fair to answer because I may find that a certain style doesn’t appeal to me. You may read the same author or even the same book and think it’s fantastic. So I’m going to cheat here and say there are a couple of authors that may be under rated. Kay Hooper can spin a romantic suspense and wrap you up totally in her story. Karen Robards is another romantic suspense author who I love and always writes page turners. I’ve learned a lot from reading these two ladies.

I see you wrote a novel in 30 days during the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Would you like to share your experience with readers? In what way working under such stress unleashes your creativity?
NaN0WriMo was a great experience. I almost didn’t enter. I think I signed up the day before it started. I was really nervous that I wouldn’t be able to write every day and finish a book. I thought I might be setting myself up for failure. So I started off with a bang so I could get as many pages done before I slowed down. It was a great way to start because I got into a routine and actually finished the book, about 54,000 words, in just over three weeks.
It unleashes your creativity because you’re writing quickly and just putting words down on the page. You’re not editing your thoughts or your work. You’re just letting your muse take over and write. It’s very freeing and fun.
However – after the writing and the month is over – then there are the revisions.

Do you have a website?

Yes I do. It’s http://www.beverleybateman.com. I offer Health Tips; Contests; Author Interviews and updates on how my work is progressing.

What advice would you give to those romantic suspense authors who are trying to break into print?
I think the advice is much the same as other authors usually suggest.
Never give up. It may take years but eventually you’ll get there.
Write every day. It doesn’t matter what – just plant the butt and write.
Write down your goals for your writing career. Don’t say I have them in my head – write them down. Make them doable and make yourself accountable.
Most importantly – have fun with your writing.

If there were five books you’d recommend as absolute reads for aspiring romantic suspense authors, what would those be?
Now that’s a great question but I think it has to be individual, depending on what they’re writing and where they are at in their career. Also are you looking at technical how to books or some great reads?

I have three books where the authors wove a story I couldn’t put down. I’ve underlined those books and analyzed them. They are: Envy by /Sandra Brown; Out of the Shadows by Kay Hooper and Bait by Karen Robards. Any of Lisa Gardner’s books are excellent reads and a great study in how to write great romantic suspense. Allison Brennan is another romantic suspense author that manages to pull you in and surprise you at the end.

Mayra, this has been fun. Thanks for asking me to do the interview.

Interview by Mayra Calvani, www.mayracalvani.com
Note: Though I have not had the time to review JUST LIKE YOU yet, I LOVED the book and simply couldn’t put it down. I read this medical thriller in 3 days. The protagonist is one of the most sympathetic I’ve encountered in a long time.

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bc_small.jpgThe Loch
By Steve Alten
Tsunami Books
ISBN: 0-9761659-0-2
Copyright 2005
Hardcover, 487 pages, $27.95

Brilliant young biologist Zachary Wallace takes part in an underwater expedition in the Sargasso Sea. However, while deep in the water, something goes terribly wrong and he’s eventually blamed for what happens.

His career seriously damaged, Zachary plunges into alcohol. The fact that he’s lost his job isn’t the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that now, for some mysterious reason, he’s incredibly afraid of going into the water. But how can a marine biologist be afraid of the water? At the same time, he begins to be tormented by dark memories of his childhood, when he was nearly drown in Loch Ness.

Then one day a stranger—who claims to be his half-brother—shows up at his hotel with a strange request: Zachary must return to Scotland to help their father, who has been accused of murder.

But how can Zachary help a man for whom he feels nothing but contempt? Besides, that would mean going back to Loch Ness, a dark place that plagues his dreams with horrific images, for when he nearly drowned all those years ago, he saw a creature there, a creature with icy cold eyes and gigantic pointed teeth…

As Zachary helps his father and tries to solve the mystery of the Loch Ness monster, he takes off into a journey of self-discovery.

Whether you believe in the Loch Ness monster or not, one thing is for sure: this is a book alla “Jaws” that will be relished by thriller fans. Combining action, mystery, horror, history and scientific research, the book sure offers an intriguing and exciting read.

In Zachary we have a real guy with faults, not the perfect romantic hero of so many commercial novels, heightening the realistic aspect of the story. Indeed, the protagonist is not only insufferable at times, but, for all his brilliance, possesses the most deplorable taste in women.

In spite of its length, almost 500 pages, this is the type of fast-paced novel that will be finished by most readers in a matter of days. The history adds an intriguing, original aspect to the tale, while the scientific research gives it credibility and helps to maintain a good suspension of disbelief throughout. It is obvious as one reads the pages the amount of time that the author spent on research. Recommended as an interesting, thrilling, action-packed read.

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

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The Ghost Mirror
by Jamieson Wolf
Copyright 2007
YA/Dark Fantasy

Thirteen-year old Mave is no ordinary girl. For one thing, she happens to be a black-eyed, redheaded powerful witch, so much so that even her own parents fear her. Not understanding her powers, her mom and dad have chosen to ignore and neglect her to the point of emotional cruelty.

The only person in the world who seems to love and understand Mave is her grandmother, and when she takes Mave to live with her in her big mansion, the young girl couldn’t be happier. Soon, however, Mave discovers a strange and mysterious old mirror in the attic. Grandmother warns her to stay away from it, but sometimes curiosity can be more powerful than reason. Mave touches the mirror, with dangerous consequences. She’s transported into a dark and magical world and faced with a grand mission: she’s to destroy the evil Lavender Man… or die.

Talented author Jamieson Wolf has penned a dark, sometimes macabre, beautifully written novel for young adults and adults alike. His lyrical prose flows like the magic in his story and has an old-fashioned tone to it which perfectly complements the plot. Some of the vivid images in the book are quite haunting, like the Tree Lady of the forest and the Lavender Man sucking the spirit from his victims. Above all, the beauty of the language stands out, as well as the author’s obvious love for storytelling. I was drawn from start to finish into Wolf’s darkly magical world and look forward to reading the sequel soon.

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani, The Dark Phantom Review

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Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers
By Shel Horowitz
AWM Books
ISBN: 0-9614666-3-3
Copyright 2007

If you’re serious about book promotion, this work by marketing guru Shel Horowitz is one you’ll want to add to your permanent reference shelf.

The book, which is divided into four main parts—Creating a Marketable Book, Publicity, Getting into-and out of-Bookstores and Libraries, and Advanced Marketing—covers the most important topics you’ll need to master to market your book successfully. Horowitz begins by explaining how to prepare an effective marketing plan according to the audience of your book, using actual plans as examples to demonstrate his point and make his ideas clear to the reader. He also discusses topics such as how to build a high-traffic website and the importance of branding yourself as expert by writing articles on the subject of your book.

The author devotes a whole chapter to Google and examines its services beyond the basic “Search”, as well as the use of Adwords and Adsense. Another thing I found particularly helpful in this book is that Horowitz uses specific examples of press releases to clearly demonstrate what works and what doesn’t. Other chapters deal with the importance of discussion groups, building your own newsletter, doing interviews, selling to bookstores and libraries, getting into Amazon, trade shows, book fairs, direct mail advertising, foreign rights, sub rights, etc. In sum, all the topics you need to cover in order to be able to market your book inexpensively but successfully. At the end of the book there’s an Appendix with a list of helpful resources.

The book is written in an engaging style and is a solid addition to other marketing books available today. I especially liked the use of specific examples in the press releases section and the fact that he devoted a whole chapter on the different uses of Google. I would have liked to see a longer list of book review sites on the resources section, and not only those publications that often ignore the small publishers and small press authors. In sum, the book is full of practical tips and advice and offers an amalgam of information you’ll be able to profit from when promoting your book. Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers comes highly recommended from this reviewer.

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

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