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Archive for September, 2008

Rose DesRochers is the founder of Today's Woman, a site catering to writers–both men and women–of all levels and genres, including poetry. The site features articles, stories and interviews and also publishes press releases. It also has a forum for writers to share ideas and promote their work. In this interview, DesRochers talks about what makes her site special.

Why don't you begin by telling us a little about yourself? Are you also a writer?

Yes I am. I have been writing poetry for 20 + years. I am also a freelance writer. I have written several articles and essays.

How did Todays-Woman.net get started?

In the beginning Today's Woman was going to be a woman's portal. I changed my mind and decided it would be a friendship community for both men and women. Some of the first members joined and started submitting their writing. It took on a writing theme of its own, so we began to gear the site more towards writers. Today it is a full fledge writing community.

Who is your audience?

Our audience is writers of all genes, but a higher percentage are poets.

What does your site offer readers and writers?

Today's Woman Writing Community has a useful selection of services including author interviews, regular columns, interactive forums, and a place for writers to share their work for critique by their peers. We have monthly writing contest that spark member’s creativity and we have a variety of writing lessons submitted by experience writers to help writers. We also offer a full directory of links to literacy resources, famous poets, online book store, and an area in our forums of calls for submission and writing contests. We also offer our visitors and members a writers warning section that keeps them up to date about various poetry contests and publishers to avoid.

How do you become a member?

All you need to do is register. Potential writers must be 18 to join. You have a choice between a free account or a premium account.

Are your members mostly women?

Funny you would ask that. The name gives the impression that the site is only for women, but we have an equal number of male members. Sometimes we have more male members posting that women. Our webmaster is male, our co-admin is male and even our moderator is male. What would you know this month's writer of the month is also male. Maybe we should change the name to Today's Man?

What types of promotional opportunities do you offer in your site?

Today's Woman Writing Community offers writers the chance to be recognized as writer of the month. In addition any writer can submit a link to their website to our link directory. For a small fee authors can advertise their book on our website.

What types of articles and stories do you accept for publication?

We are interested in seeing well-written articles on writing, self-help, humor, motivation, true stories and other articles that might be of interest to our loyal readers. Members who join can submit any story, except erotica, to our story board.

What is the hardest task in running such a site? The most rewarding aspect?

Administrating Today’s Woman has been a wonderful experience for me. Not only have I made some wonderful friends, but I have grown in my own writing.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

Todays-Woman.net has been a team effort. The site not only belongs to me, but the members. I’m very lucky to have a supportive family and the kind of members, friends, and staff who are willing to devote so much time and energy to helping all writers fulfill their goals.

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Freedom is something most of us strive to attain. But, firstly healing must occur in our lives before we can move forward in attaining the freedom we so desire. I wrote The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference so those that choose to read my book, can heal their own lives, regardless of how shattered they feel they are.

Not knowing where to start I just started writing. I started in a chronological order and reflecting on my life from birth. I am gifted with a memory that goes back as early as 2 years old. My experiences are very vivid and clear. (And, confirmed by my mother.) As I started writing a lot of “stuff” came up for me; mostly memories of the emotional, and sometimes physical, abuse I received growing up. But, I kept on writing, and writing, and writing…. It was very cathartic for me. And, I got a lot of aha moments.

Even though I had already been at the recovery center in Quebec and was able to deal with much of the trauma I experienced, re-visiting the experiences seemed to solidify and allow me to even move more forward in my life than I had before. The 28-days in the recovery center is what saved my life and gave me the understanding of why I behaved as I did, and why I accumulated the addictions I did. Of course, the experience at the center had to be part of my story. It shows how I rebelled against anything they were telling me as well as finally “getting it.” It was my turning point.

However, The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference isn’t just about my story. Although many readers express paralleling their lives to mine, there is more for them. The book is full of explanations of the “why” we behave as we do, “why” we act and react the way we do, and there is a lot about finding our spiritual self – the authentic place we all have. In the end, it shows how we can re-write the life scripts that have been passed down for generations. We no longer need to be prisoners of someone else’s beliefs and thoughts, we can actually create our own lives. That’s the bottom-line message of the book. And, it works, because I know – I’ve been there.

Irene Watson is the author of The Sitting Swing. She’s also the owner/founder of Reader Views. Check out her website at www.IreneWatson.com

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My book titled, A Full House – But Empty, was published the latter part of 2007.

The title would tend to believe this is a book of contradiction? It is not really; however, I shall explain it later. In the business world, writing has been one of my most treasured tasks. I have always enjoyed letter writing, preparing and updating Standard Practice Manuals and writing special project reports, newsletters, etc. Occasionally, I would write an exceptionally good report or letter and I would leave a duplicate copy on my desk to reread the following day. To me it was a sense of accomplishment and very fulfilling. The equivalency of receiving a good review or report card. I particularly love the printed word. On many occasions, I received many compliments on my writing skills, based on my letters, reports and procedural manuals – it was to me a very modest but fulfilling experience. Particularly, as I started in the business world as a grade-school dropout with an overall personal rating of “F” as in failure!

After completing thirty-nine years in hospital administration in California and Alaska, I retired in 2003. It was very challenging transition for this divorced man with no children, who was a very dedicated and productive workaholic, finally having to throw in the towel. And to complicate matters, I was ironically an avid tennis bum – the other end of the spectrum that carried negative connotations. Some combination – being a workaholic and tennis bum; however, both aggregately require boundless energy. And besides that, the last several years, I lived a hundred and thirty miles from my work and only returned home on the weekends.

Upon retirement – with plenty of free time on my hands, I found myself becoming very reflective, especially during my daily morning and evening walks. I particularly found myself reminiscing about my childhood and growing up years in Vancouver, British Columbia. I was born during the Great Depression. My father was from a prosperous farming family in the Province of Saskatchewan. When he married, his father leased farmland for him to get established. When he received the proceeds from his first wheat crop, a wild poker game was ensuing at the local grain elevator. My father, to put it mildly, had more than a penchant for playing poker. When leaving the poker game – he also left all of the proceeds from his entire wheat crop – thus, arriving home with one can of strawberry jam that he sheepishly presented to my mother. His father, a hardworking and very conservative man was outraged regarding that poker incident. My father decided to move on elsewhere.

He and my mother and sister, Laura shortly thereafter, moved to Vancouver. The Great Depression started and it was difficult for my father in seeking employment in Vancouver and being a farm boy – classified in the city as unskilled labor. He could only obtain sporadic employment. His father passed away very suddenly during this difficult period and he left his entire estate to his younger son. As the Depression deepened, my father returned home to see if his brother could offer some financial assistance. He received absolutely nothing from his brother.

Empty-handed and disheartened, he returned to Vancouver unexpectedly one evening and found my mother in bed with some cheater. The cheater jumped out of the nearest window and my mother was instructed to leave by the front door. Thus, my father became a single parent to Laura, 6 Angus, 3 and Marjorie, an infant. Fortunately, the Provincial Government Social Services immediately provided my father with housekeeping and child rearing services daily to help lessen his load. We had two wonderful ladies – alternately taking turns providing those services.

At age 7, we moved with another family, the Ingleharts. A father with five children, also originally from a farming family and he having had similar marital problems. It became a great union and we rented a large frame house with an adjacent lot and with vast railroad meadowlands overlooking the front of our home. It was in Vancouver, but sort of in a semi-rural setting. We had goats, chickens and apple trees and the rest of the property – including the adjacent lot was developed as an extended kitchen garden growing a variety of vegetables. We lived together for four wonderful years. During that period the Great Depression ended and WWII started in 1939 as Canada, being a Dominion of the United Kingdom, entered the war at the same time.

At age 11, our families parted. I was relegated to being chief cook and bottle washer.
My father, during the war years was often working two full time jobs. However, on the weekends, my father a partygoer and poker player, had one or the other, and in either case, usually lasting all night. I was assigned to the aftermath – the clean up. (In view of that setting thus, the title of my book, A Full House – poker games and parties, But Empty – referring to my insular existence living in this setting.) At age 13, I was falsely blamed for an incident that took place in the seventh grade. It was never resolved so my response was to play sick as often as possible and I refused to study thereafter. No vindication – no resolution. I had to repeat the seventh grade and just – bowed out thereafter.

At age 17, this grade-school dropout was tossing lumber ends off of a conveyer belt in a sawmill – a total dead-ended job. A theological student from the University of British Columbia came to our home to attend a party with some of my father’s friends from his pub club. George, the student, and I became very good friends. One evening he stopped by and delivered a Dutch uncle speech. He instructed me to get off of my ass and get moving. He suggested that I immediately enroll at a local high school and take evening classes in both typing and accounting to obtain some basic skills. Further, he suggested that I seek a white-collar entrance position in a company that would offer future advancement. I responded by saying that I was a failure with no education nor had any other basic skills. He countered by saying that he was certain that I had above average intelligence and to move ahead in a positive manner. He opened the door and I did exactly what he suggested.

It was a very productive but long and difficult road – sometimes filled with trepidation, but this grade-school dropout became very successful. During my career in both Canada and the USA, I spent nine years in the petroleum industry. My last employer, Richfield Oil was scheduling me for a junior executive position in their home office. I decided to make a career change and spent the next thirty-nine years successfully in hospital administration in both California and Alaska. I was a director with staffing complements of fifty-five to seventy employees.

Because of my great love for preparing written documentation, I decided I could try and creatively utilize that basic skill. Initially, as I had mentioned earlier, I particularly loved those years with the Inglehart family and during my walks after retiring I was constantly reminiscing about my ‘ Waltonesque’ like childhood. I have two great nephews and at that time they were both within the ages of 7 and 11 the exact age range of me during the Inglehart years. I decided to write a story about my childhood for my great nephews to share those experiences. When I completed the draft, I was having breakfast with my nephew, Paul (our lad’s father) who had read my material and suggested that I simply carry on and write a complete autobiography. Thus, this was the beginning of my book, A Full House – But Empty.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with a wonderful and detailed memory. As I sat at my computer writing my story, I actually seemed to reenter my world of yesterdays. I could really sense our rented frame house, our family members, our activities, gardens, goats, chickens and the surrounding areas. I was able to methodically put all of those memories in their proper and/or appropriate place. Each day, I would review the prior two or three paragraphs as a precursor and than continue my story. I really enjoyed writing about my childhood and youthful years. It was all simply sharing those earlier years and covering ongoing events. Frankly, the entire exercise was a piece of cake. My thoughts poured out ebulliently and thankfully in precise orderly tandem.

When writing about my life after the Dutch uncle speech it required a different approach and standard. I was hopeful that I could successfully share my climbing up the vocational ladder starting from the bottom rung. I wanted to convey a positive message relating to my experiences in the work scene and socially – in that setting and elsewhere. In other words, aside from elevating my positions, I wanted to demonstrate growth factors in relating to people and different circumstances and to address some interesting points.

My father, had been an outside foreman for a large oil and coal company. He was greatly respected by both the office staff and his outside employees and many attended our parties. If was evident to me that they all adorned him for his absolute dedication to the organization and fulfilling all of his responsibilities with alacrity. While I was tossing wood off of a conveyer belt – in the evenings after dinner at the kitchen table he would explain how he addressed difficult and complicated situations relating to employees and/or work issues. These turned out to be great quiet and productive moments for me. During these sessions, I never questioned nor refuted any of his opinions or his course of action taken in individual situations. The proof was in the pudding – all of his co-workers and/or associates admired and respected him. He always said to me, “ Always do the right thing, regardless of the circumstances or outcome!” Amen!

While I appear to many to be an outgoing and friendly person, I am actually quite conservatively private. I rarely, if ever discussed my past experiences with my contemporaries. When I started writing, I realized that I had to reopen closed doors that contained both happy and sad experiences and address them equally along this path. In the process, on numerous occasions, while writing, I wondered do I really want to do this project. I decided to go either 100% or nothing. I decided on the former!

In the writing process, I received the following, words of advice from a New York City, literary agent who was also a writer. She stated, “Writing successfully is having the reader be so engrossed with your story that that person can hardly wait to get to the next page!”

Angus Munro is the author of A FULL HOUSE – BUT EMPTY. Info on book and author can be found here.

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Andrea Sisco is the co-founder of Armchair Interviews and the author of the forthcoming mystery novel A Deadly Habit, to be released from Five Star in 2009. Started in 2005, Armchair Interviews now has about 100 staff reviewers who review an average of 200 books a month. This popular review site receives about 2 million hits a year and has been named by Writer's Digest one of the Best 101 Websites for Writers for three years in a row. Armchair Interviews has a lot of offer authors and readers, from audio interviews, to audio blurbs, to contests, to ads, to a whole range of resources on books and writing. It also publishes a monthly newsletter. Sisco is always on the lookout for quality reviewers. Just drop her an email at Andrea@armchairinterviews.com and she'll get you started. Armchair Interviews reviews most type of books in about 43 genres, with the exception of ebooks. In this interview, Sisco talks about the challenges of running a big review site, and about her forthcoming novel, among other things.

Thank you very much for this interview, Andrea. Tell us a bit about Armchair Interviews.

Our knowledge of books and our excitement and passion for the idea of Armchair Interviews was the beginning of creating a great site. We placed ourselves in the able hands of Paul Larson of Creative Arc in Minneapolis and he patiently worked with Connie and me to design an attractive, user friendly site. We then began to add other things like audio and written interviews, contests, a reader's page, an author's page, etc. for our visitors.

But it's the reviewers. They're passionate about the written word. They're good writers, responsible people and oh so much fun. They work hard. They work with us, not for us and that's the difference I think. They are Armchair Interviews. And we've gained new friends from around the United States and the world through Armchair Interviews. They simply are the best. Check out our site and then other sites and you'll see what I mean.

What is the most challenging aspect of running a review site?  

Time. It's primarily two people (Connie and I) running Armchair Interviews with some help from Paul Larsen (our go-to guy for web help) and Jeff Foster who does some marketing for us. Connie has a business (that pays the bills) and must give that time. I am a writer, I travel a great deal with my husband, we live in MN and AZ (which is a time and logistic challenge) and we have numerous children and grandchildren I want to spend time with. Connie and I always want to do more and wonder where we'll get the time.  

But money is another important aspect. It takes money to create a good site and money to maintain and improve a site like ours. Authors often don't like paying for ads, interviews, etc. The problem is, if the site isn't paying for itself, it goes away. They don't understand the number of people we reach and what it costs to maintain a site like ours. Some authors are appalled that sites like ours would charge to promote their titles. Hey, think New York Times, People, USA Today… We may be small, but like them, we have to have revenue to survive. I can never understand why they don't blink an eye at the idea of a magazine, television or newspaper ad, but believe that the internet should be free.

Note: We don't charge to review a title.  

How should an author contact you about a review request? Do you review e-books as well?  

An author should go to www.armchairinterviews.com and click on our FAQ for review submissions and follow the directions. You'd be amazed how many people don't think the rules apply to them. Often though, they read? the directions and send me an email and a link to their web site so I can gather the necessary information myself. That will not get an author a review. Time is short; we have about 400 submissions a month and can't fill them all. It's easier to go with the people who follow the directions. So read the FAQ and follow the directions! How to get that review or interview is another Q & A interview and one every author should hear if they want review coverage. But that's for another time.

Do you think there’s a lot of ‘facile praise’ among many online review sites? What is your policy when it comes to negative reviews?

Criticism is okay. And we criticize books. But we will never, ever trash a book or an author. We want to celebrate authors and their work. If a book (and unfortunately it's almost always self-published) is so awful (poorly written, edited, etc.) we won't review it at all and inform the author of the issues. But we'd like authors to remember: A review is one person's opinion.

In your opinion, what defines a ‘legitimate’ reviewer?

I'm not sure I can give you a definitive answer. It's like art; I may not know what good art is, but I'll tell you when I see some. Peruse the sites. What do they look like? How many titles have they reviewed? Do they offer anything besides reviews (nice for building traffic and authors want traffic)? If you contact them do they respond in a timely manner and are they professional in their responses? Ask them how long they've been in business and what their stats are.

But the bottom line is: Print publication continues to reduce their coverage of books. Internet is the coming wave and is even now, becoming the place to go for learning about new books. If I had a small promotion budget, I know I'd get more bang for my buck with Armchair Interviews than with a magazine or newspaper. Why? Because other than USA Today, most newspapers are local or regional. And I could never afford USA Today. Magazines? Well most are out of the price range also. Television and Radio are usually local (budget restraints). That leaves the internet and it is huge!

What does your site offer readers?

Armchair Interviews offers readers well-written and comprehensive reviews in approximately 43 genres. What’s really nice is we have ‘experts’ reviewing for us. Authors, engineers, medical doctors, veterinarians, professors/teachers, you get the picture. So if we have a book that fits into a particular field, we can usually find someone who is ‘in the know’ about the subject matter. And for fiction, well, we have some well read, talented writers who can give a ‘spot on’ critique of the book. Without our reviewers, we couldn’t exist. They are simply the best in the business.

Armchair Interviews also provides readers with written and audio author interviews. We’re branching out in our interviews and including industry professionals such as publicists, editors, agents and the like. While contests and give aways are not a big part of the site, we also do a number of those yearly. We try and keep up with and report industry news and let people know who has won the various writers’ awards.

But most importantly, we have grown to a point where our site is filled with information for readers, but it’s also a great place for author’s to be seen, because our readership continues to grow.

What promotional opportunities does your site offer authors?

We offer ads, audio author interviews and written Q&A interviews. They are really reasonable in cost, given our audience. We can provide an author with tailored packages to fit their needs and pocketbook. Connie and I are very conscious to remember that most authors do not have a huge promotional budgets. Contact us for promotional information.

We have authors, publishing houses and publicists that regularly work with us to promote their authors. Oh, and sometimes, for fun and to help, we'll do a give away for an author we feel strongly about. That's a freebie in conjunction with the author or publishing house.

Tell us about your new 'Audio Blurbs'. What are they and how can they help authors and publishers?

Armchair Interviews wanted to do something different to help promote authors. After some thought, Connie Anderson and I decided to record audio ads. This is like a movie trailer, but with the audio only. They are approximately one minute in length and if the audio interests readers, they can click on the book cover icon and purchase the book.

It’s simple, fun and unique. We’ve just enlisted several professional actors to help with the voice work.

I understand you're also an author with a mystery novel coming out soon. Tell us about that and how you find the time to write while maintaining such a demanding review site.

Yes, my agent recently guided me through the first time novelist contract. I am so happy that is done. Now I’m in edits. And I’m happy to report they were miniscule, but still demanded time. A Deadly Habit will make its appearance in 2009 and will be published by Five Star (a part of Cengage Learning).

I don’t know how I find the time to do all that I do. Perhaps I’m overly organized. But let me tell you, living in two different parts of the United States, having a large number of children and grandchildren, traveling, running Armchair Interviews, writing a mystery series and now coauthoring a Young Adult Fantasy series with romantic comedy author, Kathleen Baldwin is like negotiating a mine field, time wise. Frankly, I do what I can and to the best of my ability.

There is one thing I know for sure; there will not be a second Penelope Santucci mystery published exactly one year from the publication to A Deadly Habit because I’m just plotting it now. I also think that it is helpful to have a supportive and understanding husband (Bob Pike). He is the author of 21 business books, a professional speaker, runs our family consulting business and is the chairman of a non-profit faith organization, so he knows what a full schedule is and he pitches in and helps when needed.

I also have some great kids and in-laws. They’re helping with the promotion of A Deadly Habit. My actor/screenwriter son, Guy Wegener is producing a video trailer of A Deadly Habit. Not the still shot videos one sees, but a real ‘movie’ video trailer. And my son-in-law, Alan Pranke is building my personal author web site, www.andreasisco.com. It will be up sometime in late summer of 2008.

And Connie Anderson, my best friend and co owner of Armchair Interviews feeds me info, helps out when I’m on a deadline and keeps me sane. I could go on, but you get the picture. I’m blessed to have wonderful people in my life who want me to succeed. Oh, and I don’t watch a great deal of television and I don’t sleep a lot. But at my age, I’ve heard we need less sleep. I love all the things that I do and they are so exciting. I don’t want to let any of them go. I might miss something.

Anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

We'd invite you to check us out. We've got almost 3000 reviews, numerous audio author interviews (they change all the time), contests and a lot of scrumptious information. And the newest thing is: We have a member's only site. For a very small amount of money monthly, we have a place where members can go for 'stuff' that's not on the regular site.

Thank you, Andrea! I appreciate your time!

 

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A native of Washington D.C., Ed Lynskey is the author of the crime fiction novels The Dirt-Brown Derby, The Blue Cheer, and Pelham Fell Here, all three featuring private investigator Frank Johnson. His work has appeared on major publications such as The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Washington Post, and San Francisco Chronicle. In this interview, Lynskey talks about his crime novels, and writing and inspiration.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, Pelham Fell Here. What inspired you to write it?

Pelham Fell Here is a prequel written later, in this case as the third book, of my P.I. Frank Johnson mystery series. In other words, Pelham is the first book but has been published as my third. This came about due to two different publishers and slipping release dates.

Actually I believe it has worked out better in some ways. I had the advantage of knowing the character when I wrote the back story, sort of reverse engineering. Anyway reviewers and readers have written and told me Pelham Fell Here is the most complex and fulfilling title to date in the series. That’s gratifying to hear, but I probably like it the least. So go figure.

The premise behind Pelham Fell Here is to relate just how Frank Johnson falls into the crazy private detective trade. I’ve read a number of P.I. series by vintage and contemporary authors, and I don’t know of one where that’s been previously done. Pelham is a story of self-discovery, too.

Frank returns home from his Army M.P. service, and his old assumptions of the place and the people he thought he knew are jarred. Frank prefers to view his native town its old cozy way. But all that goes out the window when his cousin Cody Chapman is found murdered.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

Avid is the perfect adjective, too. When I was four, my family migrated from the Virginia suburbs in Washington, D.C. to the sticks near a small town. Back then I was bummed, but I’m nothing but glad these days. We lived on the corner lot carved off what was once a giant plantation (growing corn and wheat, I was told) and no other kids lived near us.

So, I sought alternative forms of entertainment. Reading supplied one big solution. First-rate genre stuff: mysteries, westerns, espionage, adventure, YA, and anything that told a good yarn. For instance, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Three Investigators was a gas. Now I’ve find myself like when I was a kid and reading just for the fun of it.

Who is your target audience?

I’ve mulled over this question throughout my writing the P.I. Frank Johnson mystery series. My target audience, I believe, has widened as the series has progressed. The Dirt-Brown Derby was a straight male detective story. There’s a murder and Frank is sent to solve it. No larger concerns really emerge from the narrative. Frank carries the burden of the dramatic role without even a sidekick. The back story is kept to a minimum.

Then The Blue Cheer came. Frank moves to West Virginia and is forced to rely on his friends. More back story is introduced. So, I hope Blue Cheer will appeal to a wider spectrum of readers.

In Pelham Fell Here, my current book, Frank involves his pals again, but he also finds himself entangled in a couple romances, including a dark and sinister one. Reviewers have written Pelham is the best of the series titles, it being more “complex” and “intriguing”. So, I see Pelham as appealing even more to readers. For instance, YA libraries are now buying my P.I. Frank Johnson mysteries.

What type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?

My life is pretty dull fare, so I definitely fall in the latter camp. Pelham was inspired by my sense of a place, the rough equivalent of the small town where I grew up. The mental snapshots I had weren’t manufactured in a fantasy or daydream but from distant memories. I guess in that way the plot does spring from my life experiences. Then I embellished and dovetailed the setting to suit the storyline.

The climax occurring on Uncle Sam’s satellite farm also derives from an actual place. Our egg lady (yes, we bought our eggs from an old lady who raised hens and sold eggs) lived next to a sprawling complex surrounded by a chain link fence. These different sizes and shapes of satellite dishes and towers filled the field. The vista I gawked at was something out of a pulp science fiction. What all went on there I don’t know. Something to do with the Cold War or UFOs, I suppose. Anyway, I knew the satellite farm was a ripe place to stage a noir’s mayhem and nastiness.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

When does the Muse bite? What a great question. You know, I’m about halfway through the first draft of my W-I-P. I can see there are plot holes in the narrative arc. I can see I have several options to go with creating the bad guy. But right this instance I don’t know which way to go. So all I can do is trust the creative process and keep the faith that ideas will come tomorrow, or the next day. So, it’s the daily process.

My analog brain doesn’t experience too many Eureka moments. My solutions come when I’m sitting and working on the current project. Daydreaming is bad for me. I might fall off the roof while cleaning the gutters. Or I’ll mow off my toes while mowing the lawn. Or I’ll rear end another motorist while I’m out driving. My thinking process, I’ve come to see, requires the discipline and focus to work on the task at hand which for me is writing and editing my long fiction.

What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?

I guess critique groups and partners are useful for starting out of the gate. After that, I don’t know. Larry Block in his fiction-writing primer Telling Lies for Fun & Profit includes a semi-prayer. He basically gives thanks for his talent and asks for guidance in doing his own work and not to be concerned with what and how other writers are doing. I like that. Look, this is a solitary gig. You’ve got to be cool in your own skin. You’ve got to be content with your output. That means forgetting all the blogs, twitters, agents, MFAs, coaches, editors, and the all the rest of the hue. You just do it.

What will the reader learn after reading your book?

I think today’s readers want to learn about stuff. I mean look at the avalanche of self-help books and huge nonfiction market. Readers want to feel like it’s worth their time to invest in your book. Telling a good story makes for a distraction and entertainment for some readers. But other readers want more than that. Dan Brown writing about The Da Vinci Code makes that point.

My work is rich in historical details such as the title to Pelham Fell Here suggests. Pelham was a famed Southern artillerist from the American Civil War. Since Frank is an ex-MP and a detective, I use investigative techniques and police work. Frank Johnson is a gunsmith by trade, so I include details about firearms, not so much about calibers and ballistics, but how they’re made. Years ago I worked for the late Sam Cummings, the international arms merchant.

What type of scenes gives you the most trouble to write?

For a time, I had difficulty writing the scenes set in large cities. To me, cities all look alike. You’ve got the same streets, shopping malls, and Starbucks. What else is there to see? But I’ve lived just outside of Washington, D.C. for the past ten years, and I go downtown frequently to catch sporting events and to see shows and exhibits. Ten years is a long time for residing in a transient city like D.C. Life experience, then, has taught me what makes a city — at least this one — really tick.

Writing love and romance scenes that ring true are tough for me. I just wrote and rewrote the scenes, striving to make them sound natural and credible. I’ve gotten better at it. But relationships are the glue to fiction so I want to write them well.

Thanks for stopping, Ed, and good luck with your book.

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After six years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from her stepfather, 15-year-old Ashley finally finds the courage to reveal the painful details of her experiences with her mother, who refuses to acknowledge the problem and turns her back on her daughter. After confiding in her teacher—the only adult whom Ashley can trust—she is removed from her home and sent to live with her father and his second wife, Beverly, an English teacher. Nurtured by Beverly, an extraordinarily positive influence in her life, Ashley and a summer school class of troubled teens learn to face their fears and discover who they really are.

Hi! My name is Beth Fehlbaum, and I am the author of Courage in Patience, which released on September 1, 2008, from Kunati Books. Leading up to the release date, I was excited as well as nervous– this experience has been described to me as what it’s like when a teenager is leaving for college: “You don’t really know what to expect, but you know it’s going to be exciting.”

That’s an apt description of the days leading up to my book’s release. But for me as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, becoming published– and more of a public figure than I have ever been before– it’s also been like being pulled out of a dark hiding place, into the light of the day. There have been times on my journey to recovery that I have felt that I was kicking and screaming my way out of the darkness. It is very, very difficult for most survivors of sexual abuse to identify themselves publicly.

One thing that has been reassuring for me is the way people have contacted me, expressing enthusiasm, support, and gratitude for a book like Courage in Patience. I’ve heard from victims of abuse as well as people who consider themselves survivors now and those who love people who have been abused.

Besides being encouraging in terms of Courage in Patience doing well, the letters and messages I have received have reminded me that I’m not alone– and that’s exactly the message I hope to convey through the story of Ashley. She learns that everyone has challenges they have to confront– times they must face their greatest fears and find out what they are made of, no matter what those fears are.

As one of the wisest people I know once told me, “Hope is the opposite of fear.” I hope that people like Ashley (and me)– people who have lived through very fear-inducing stuff — will come away from reading Courage in Patience knowing that, even when life looks the darkest, there is always, always hope.

To find out more about Beth and her book, visit Beth’s Blog.

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A resident of Montreal, award-winning multi-genre author and editor Lea Schizas describes herself as a late bloomer who “finally woke up after a 23-year self-induced coma taking care of the family, and rediscovered my passion for writing.” She is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of two Writer’s Digest 101 Top Writing Sites of 2005 & 2006 and recipients of the Preditors and Editors Most Useful Writing Sites Award: Apollo’s Lyre and The MuseItUp Club. She’s also the founder of The Muse Online Writers Conference, The Muse Marquee, and co-founder of Coffee Cramp eZine. Her published works include The Rock of Realm, Doorman’s Creek, Aleatory’s Junction, and The Muse on Writing, among other books for children. Because of her supportive, helpful sites and groups for writers, Lea is affectionately referred to as ‘Mother Hen’. Her book review site, Muse Book Reviews, caters to authors of most genres.

Lea’s books…

When Kyle Anderson and his two buddies decide to explore a cave hidden within Doorman’s Creek, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton… and an unknown entity, throwing them right into the path of a serial killer.

Faced with a sudden gift of visions into past and present disappearances, Kyle must now track down who the murderer is before another family member gets killed.

What if you were hit with the realization you were of royal lineage…to another realm? This is exactly what fourteen-year old Alexandra Stone has to face in the Young Adult fantasy novel ‘The Rock of Realm’.

In everyday life we face dilemmas, obstacles, and situations where a decision needs to be made. Whether we choose the right or wrong path, only time will tell. In Aleatory, the residents are used to strange occurrences, to newcomers traveling through but never returning. But for these newcomers, Aleatory’s Junction will prove to be more than just a fork in a corner out of town.

ISBN: 1-55404-400-6Genre: Fantasy/SF eBook Length: 354 Pages Print: 502 PagesPublished: October 2006Imprint: Double Dragon Publishing
Print Book Available Here

Vampires, werewolves, zombies… all legendary creatures hunting their preys, all containing their own personal tales and backgrounds.
But the most evasive story to be told is that of Lord John Erdely from the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, Transylvania.

Lord John Erdely lived in the 16th century and date of death cannot be confirmed since no body has ever been found. It is rumored, but no documents support this theory, that he dealt in black magic to suppress the ongoing collaboration of the churches to bring a unified religion to all people, a Greek Catholic practice.
It is also rumored he may have used black magic to contain his servants, to blind and deafen them from words spoken to them while on errands for the Lord within the village of Cornifu. Villagers became increasingly suspicious of Lord Erdely when family members went missing.
Enter the present time…

All visitors staying in Cornifu Hotel are surprised with a mystery invitation for a one day excursion to Erdely Castle. Befuddled but amused at the same time, they accept, unaware of the events to follow.
Join our characters as each discovers secrets and mysteries that will change their lives forever.

To purchase Lea’s books, visit her website.

Subscribe to Lea’s Monthly Ebook Newsletter!

“For a yearly subscription of ONLY $10.00, you get twelve issues of Monthly eBook Newsletter – with bonus issues scattered throughout the year. Some of the links are: AGENTS – PUBLISHERS – REVIEW SITES – PROMO SITES – MAGAZINES – ASSOCIATIONS – and more. You’ll also get writing articles and an opportunity to showcase your own bragging rites.”–Lea Schizas

Lea also offers critique services for children’s picture books and novels.
Picture books under 1,000 words: $30
Longer works: $2 per page.

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