Archive for January, 2010

From the pen of Justin Gustainis comes another page turner…

Quincey Morris and Libby Chastian are not your everyday, ordinary private detectives. They specialize in supernatural cases that involve witchcraft, vampires, werewolves and all sorts of preternatural creatures.

In this story, an eccentric billionaire named Walter Grobius has one thing in his agenda: to control the world using the most devastating evil known to man, a powerful evil that can be traced back to biblical times. Children across the country are being kidnapped and brutally mutilated; good witches are being killed. For what purpose?

As Grobius prepares for the ‘big ritual’, the one that will make him immortal and grant him the power that he’s always wanted, Morris and Chastian team up once again to fight evil. But will they walk out of it alive?

Evil Ways is the second book in the Morris and Chastian Investigation dark fantasy series. Like in the first book, the author delivers a thrilling ride filled with action, suspense and interesting twists and turns. The pace moves pretty quickly, and the story kept me engrossed from beginning to end. What I enjoy most about this series is the protagonist, Quincey Morris. He’s the good guy next door, the guy with the big heart and high sense of justice, and with a touch of vigilantism in him — but of course, he’s also an expert at fighting supernatural fiends. If you like novels about the battle of good vs. evil, you’ll love Justin Gustainis’ books.

Visit the author’s Website.

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Devil’s Trill
By Gerald Elias
Minotaur Books
ISBN: 0312541813
Copyright 2009
Hardcover, 306 words, $25.99
General Fiction

Devil’s Trill, a first-time novel written by violinist, composer and conductor Gerard Elias, is a fascinating story that explores the complex and tumultuous underworld of classical music, priceless violins and virtuoso performers.

Our protagonist, Daniel Jacobus is a blind, old, antisocial and reclusive violinist living in New England. Though he doesn’t perform anymore, his mind is incredibly sharp—something not always appreciated by his students due to his easily ignited and volatile personality.

Our story begins when Jacobus decides to attend a Grimsley Competition concert at Carnegie Hall, where the young winner is granted the opportunity to play with a precious violin—the infamous, three-quarter-size Piccollo Stradivarius. Legend has it that this violin has brought nothing but tragedy and misfortune to all who own it.

But then, after the concert, the violin is found missing and Jacobus becomes the prime suspect.

Together with the help of his bright new student, Yumi Shinagawa, and an old music partner, Jacobus sets out to discover the true thief and prove his innocence.

The story has a simple premise, but one that is brought to a higher level by the music/violin angle. As a late student of the violin, I found Elias’ writing absorbing and mesmerizing, not so much because of the mystery itself, but because of all the details, information and description that the author includes about violins and the lives of violinists.

The author often halts the flow of the story, using his protagonist Jacobus—in order to give us some new information about violins—but it’s actually these intrusions that I loved the most while reading this book. So, if anything, this is a novel that will be thoroughly enjoyed by musicians and fans of violin music.

Elias also puts a lot of effort into the plot and the mystery is well and carefully crafted. There are a lot of minor characters and sometimes keeping up with names was a little confusing, especially at the beginning. Also, I felt that at times the dialogue was unnecessarily long and strayed from the main purpose of the story. But these are just minor imperfections.

Devil’s Trill
is the first book in what is sure to become an interesting new series for mystery and music lovers. I’m already looking forward to reading book II.

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My guest today is horror author Ruby Dominguez.  She has book out–actually, a script–about the witch hunt in Salem titled, The Peruke Maker, the Salem Witch Hunt Curse.  She has been a recipient of the "Editor’s Choice Award," by the National Library of Poetry in 1999 and in 2007 for her published poems in the Shelter of Shade

I hope you’ll enjoy the interview!

Thanks for being my guest today, Ruby. Is this your first book?

The Peruke Maker – The Salem Witch Hunt Curse was my first book published. It is a compelling and suspenseful story that focuses on the infamous Salem Witch Hunt Curse, an ancient and evil practice which is unearthed from necromancy and violates the course of natural events in a modern day world.

Inspired by true events, The Peruke Maker is a well researched screenplay about the spiritual and emotional journeys of Bridget Cane, a stunning 17th century red haired beauty, and Sarah, a thoroughly 21st century woman. Their paths become inextricably bound across time and space as Thomas Cane’s vengeful curse continues to threaten the virtuous during this relentless quest for an avenger of innocent blood.

Like the book’s 21st century time traveler, Sarah, the author’s readers are introduced to this earlier, frightening world by the startling image of Bridget Cane, scantily clad, frozen in fear, her own imminent death portended by the Banshee’s bloodcurdling cries, set against the background of a witch hunt that has reached a feverish pitch in a society where the fear of sorcery and the devil is as real as God.

The story builds with heightened tension and conflict and fittingly ends in present day New York City when Sarah’s journey ultimately comes full circle as Michael’s love for her triumphs over the evil she must face in 17th century Salem. The suspense leading to her final redemption climaxes in a dramatic and magical act of rebirth which transcends the grave at the exact stroke of midnight on the Autumnal Equinox.

This is a beautiful illustration which captures the very essence of what this story is all about: love and forgiveness.

What prompted you to start writing?

I have always dreamed to be on stage, the theater! I loved the instant gratification of the audiences’ reaction and mind you, I have not let go of that dream.

My first ever realization that writing was an avenue that I may take on was when my high school teacher informed me that she has sent my short story titled “The Little Christmas Tree” to the school’s newsletter for print. Then later on after having my babies (three boys, as matter of fact) I found myself cooing to them with self made nursery rhymes, my favorite being “That Baby Little Lizard,” sang in an Elvis Presley kind of style.

I understand that The Peruke Maker is a script, not a novel. What made you decide to publish it in book form? Did you consider writing a novel version of the script?

It’s kind of like, "putting the carriage before the horse" so to speak. But I have envisioned without reservation or doubt that this story shall be a feature film.

When the story came to me I saw flashes of picture frames in my mind. The events were taking place like as if it were happening in the present time. A screenplay became the obvious format for delivery because of this.

Writing a novel version of the script is a possibility and would be an interesting twist in my writing career.

I understand your story is based on true events. Could you explain?

Salem 17th century was a bizarre and deadly detour in American dark history. My research has unearthed among others the cruelest and inhuman means by which the victims were tortured at that time as reflected in the scenes of my screenplay.

Majority of my researched was internet based. I printed old and new maps of Salem, and photos of historical locations and places to geographically picture in my mind the events as they were happening at that time period.

Actual travelling to Salem came just recently during my book signing event at the Cinema Salem Café last October 30th.

Thereafter, I was able to visit places that were relevant to my story such as the Witch’s House, Old Town Hall Derby and the infamous Gallows Hill wherein I had some eerier experiences while there.

17th-Century Salem brings to mind mass hysteria. What do you think drove religious people to such extremes?

The witch hunt has hit a feverish peak at that time. Fear of the devil was as real as God. Witchcraft was a heinous and unforgiveable crime and was punishable by death at the Gallows Hill for the victims accused of sorcery.

The Puritan church hammered away at church members with sinful tales of the devil and its worshippers which drove a spike in the madness.

It is appalling how humankind can be rubbed off of sympathy and sensitivity for others. It is these complexities of the past and present that has challenged me to write the stories I do and like a curse it shall haunt the future for an explanation, an understanding, seeking for justice, and begging to be told.

I often get afraid of my own writing when writing horror? Do you relate to this?

Strangely enough this story chose me. Driven by a mystical dream I had after trying on a 100% hand-tied human hair wig that I purchased online in 2004, described to be “harvested from a reliable and youthful donor.”

I woke-up from the dream in shivers, seemingly reliving a dark history of a young woman’s horrifying fate named Bridget and her father’s (The Peruke Maker) vindictive quest for justice beyond the grave.

Eerily, I believed that in Salem, Massachusettes from three centuries ago, the Peruke Maker’s Shop lay hidden behind a forgotten and abandoned room of an old crematorium built-up with dust and cobwebs with a finished white wig still sits by the boarded up window to this day.

How long did it take you to write the full script?

It took me two weeks to write an unpolished version of the script. But just like any literary piece is shall always be a work in progress as new sparks light up the darkest recessions of my mind.

Do you belong to any writers organizations? Any you’d recommend to other authors?

I have been a recipient of the "Editor’s Choice Award," by the National Library of Poetry in 1999 and 2007 for my published poems in the SHELTER OF SHADE.

I also have been recently selected as a candidate in the USA Honor Society.

The Writer’s Guild Association is my next step.

Do you have any book promotion tips you’d like to share?

Here are some of the things I did to promote my book.

a) A Virtual Book Tour and blog radio interviews under the very capable Dorothy Thompson of www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com.

b) Email blasting though I feel is a scam I tried, too.

c) I got involved with horror, Halloween events and festivals across the US via sponsorships/advertising opportunities.

d) I tweet at www.twitter.com about my book. I tweet on New York Times, ABC, Timelife, CNN, Breaking News, etc. They’ve got millions upon millions of followers! I just plug it in right there with them!

e) I posted my book on Craiglist under books for sale or the local news category everyday!

f) I’ve posted my book also at Backpage.com and Voice Village in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, MA and San Francisco.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to my readers?

My book The Peruke Maker – The Salem Witch Hunt Curse had received 5 star reviews from the likes of Amos Lassen, and a good script coverage from Lee Levinson. It is a compelling and suspenseful story that shall keep you at the edge of your seat.

I also have two other books/screenplays out and available to avid readers to avail of. They are: ROMANCING THE CLADDAGH are horror/romance screenplay genre while IT’S OVER MICHAEL, BUT is a romance comedy screenplay genre.

Please visit amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and other 25,000 internet stores and grab a copy for your reading pleasure.

Thanks, Ruby, and good luck with your book!




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Susan Crandall is an award-winning women’s fiction, suspense, romance and mystery author from a small town in central Indiana. A lifelong reader, she began writing with her sister after raising her two children and retiring from her first career as a dental hygienist. Her first solo-book and first published work, Back Roads, won the RITA award for best first book, as well as two National Reader’s Choice awards in 2003. She has released eight more critically-acclaimed and award-winning novels since. Her newest release, Sleep No More, a romantic suspense thriller is out now.

Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it?

I spend a lot of time pondering book ideas before I settle on one that really strikes a chord with me. I was lying awake in bed thinking one night, searching for something deeply personal that could introduce an element of danger when sleepwalking popped into my mind. (Was it because I was lying in bed? Perhaps. These things are often a mystery, even to me.) Once that idea came to me, there was simply no getting it out of my head. My daughter did a little sleepwalking when she was a small child. Even that little bit was very disturbing. What if my character’s sleepwalking had led to one of those horrible consequences that had flashed through my mind when I found her sleepwalking? Oh, yeah. Now I was off and running.

SLEEP NO MORE deals with a woman so emotionally scarred by events that happened during her childhood sleepwalking that it shaped her entire life. Although Abby Whitman been sleepwalking-free for years, the stress of her mother’s recent death and her worry over her father’s mental health has triggered her disorder once again – confirming that she’d been right in her decision to live alone, isolating herself to prevent harm to others.

One night she awakens behind the wheel at the scene of a fatal accident on a deserted country road. The victim is a prominent senator’s son. As the investigation begins, it becomes clear that there was someone else at the scene of that accident; someone who will do anything to prevent Abby from telling what she saw. However, Abby has no recollection because she’d been sleep-driving. Threats and close calls ensue.

Abby goes to family friend and psychiatrist, Jason Coble to try and recover her memory. Although he knows that if Abby had been sleepwalking she has no memories to recover from this event, he sees that she needs help to solve other family issues. He agrees to help her, but only as a friend, not a professional. Jason is struggling with his own issues of professional inadequacy and family trauma. Somehow these two people find a way to help one another work through their issues, but the real danger lurks in places unseen, driven by secrets worth killing for.

Are you a full-time writer or do you have another job?

I’m very fortunate to be a full time writer. When I began writing, I was a stay-at-home mom. Luckily at just the right time, when I was ready to return to the work force, BACK ROADS sold to Warner Books (now Grand Central Publishing). Since then I’ve devoted myself one-hundred percent to writing.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

Oh my, I never, never outline. Tried it once and it almost killed my creativity completely. While not a total stream-of-consciousness process, I do write instinctively (or as some would call it, by the seat of my pants). I give a lot of thought to character development and have the main plot idea in my head before I begin. Those elements then guide the course of the book. When I know what my characters would logically do in a circumstance, it makes the story flow more naturally for me.

Sometimes I spend weeks coming up with the perfect opening line before I can actually sit down and write the book. I know that’s really silly, but it’s how my brain works. I write in a very linier fashion, can’t go to the next scene until I have this one near perfect.

As a rule, my secondary characters spring up as I write. But that wasn’t so in SLEEP NO MORE. When I began this story I knew the secondary characters were going to play significant roles, so I had them (their motivations, back stories and how they would affect the plot) thought out ahead of time.

What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

I find it crucial to read good writing and watch lots of movies to keep my muse fed. I like listening to music, either dramatic or with phenomenal lyrics, before I sit down to work. I must have complete silence when I write. One of my secret weapons to get my mind going is going is getting on the lawn tractor and cutting the grass. We have an acre, so it takes over two hours. During that time of constant white noise, amazing things happen in my mind. It’s a little rough in the winter here in Indiana though, so long hot showers sometimes work in cold weather.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

I took the most conventional route to finding my publisher – through a literary agent. The process of finding an agent is much the same as finding a publisher. Do your research and put together your wish list. Query with a one page letter. If they’re interested, you’ll submit material and it goes from there. And brace yourself, rejections most likely will come. We all have them. It’s a process to find the right match.

These days it’s very difficult to get a major NY publisher to look at your work without an agent (most of you in the hunt for a publisher most likely already know this). So if a major traditional publishing house is your target, search for a really great agent – and by this I don’t mean one with just a good reputation. It takes much more for an agent to serve you well. Don’t settle for an agent who is lukewarm about your work, whose offer for representation is less than ecstatic (and I mean the kind of effusive enthusiasm that leaves you red-cheeked and your heart racing when you get off the telephone). A lukewarm agent can tie up your work for months and even years with slow and careless submissions to a publisher. Hold out for an agent who is right for you and your work. It’ll be worth it.

Do you think a critique group is essential for a writer?

I think it depends on what kind of writer you are. I do belong to a critique group, but finding the right fit is key. For me, that took a few false starts. You have to be willing to walk away if you’re not able to give and receive criticism that adds to your creative process.

You also have to take the suggestions offered and evaluate them, test them for validity in your writing. You can’t jump at every suggestion without killing your special voice and writing yourself entirely out of your own book. Critique groups are a good way to help you find errors, uncover plot, motivation and character inconsistencies, things like that. If you’re working with someone who wants to rewrite your work, you’re with the wrong group.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

My website is http://www.susancrandall.net There people can find more about my books, read excerpts and reviews, and discover some things that never make it between the covers of the finished product. I also have video interviews posted that some might find interesting. I’m working on adding a “for writer’s” section that will have tips for submitting your work to agents and publishers. It should be up in the next month.

Also check out www.susancrandall.blogspot.com, which is filled with all sorts of things about writing, about life, as well as a few guest bloggers, and my Facebook page can be found HERE.

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Writing about the darker aspects of human nature doesn’t come easily to me. Not because my life is rainbows and butterflies, but it seems every time I head down that path, my personality changes and I become even more reclusive than I normally am. I write like a demon to get rid of the demon, and sometimes that sucker likes to linger. Creating a hard-edged character like Mercy Gunderson in NO MERCY, while incredibly creatively rewarding, keeps me on my toes because she’s not the type of character to believe in a happy resolution. When I’m in her head, day in, day out, it’s all too easy for me to fall into that mindset.

Yet, in some respects, writing dark, gritty scenes are my favorite part of the writing process because it challenges me to step out of my comfort zone. Although I strive to make each book different, I don’t want to write anything for pure shock value. It’s tricky, finding that balance between describing the act of violence and later explaining the reason for it, without lessening the emotional impact of it. The horror of death should be real in every circumstance, to every character. Detailing the cast of character’s reaction to the death, be it the heroine’s, or the victim’s family, or even the murderer’s, has always been far more gut-wrenching for me to write than another gory scene with blood spatters and empty shell casings. The finality of death is something no one wants to deal with, but at some point everyone has to.

Using real life situations, rape, murder, torture, abuse, car accidents, dangerous addictions, make for great conflict in mystery fiction. Is that because most of us never been in an abusive relationship—intimate or familial? Because we’ve never fired a gun or a bow at someone to save our own life or the life of someone we love? Because I delve into these things when I’m writing a mystery, they almost seem to have happened to me…until I’m faced with the reality of someone I know actually having to deal with one of those nasty issues in their own life. And do I ever wish I could write a way out of it for them, just like I do with my characters.

Sometimes I think writing about these bad-to-worse situations gives writers a false sense of power, and yet, for me, that heightens the appeal. In crime fiction, as authors, we are in control, we can fix anything, right wrongs; mete out justice whether or not it’s legal. It’s empowering to have our characters come out swinging, slinging insults, firing guns, making waves, solving crimes, saving the good guys from the bad. Our fictional world is better, even if it’s not shiny new and perfect. It’s comforting to know at the end of the book, it’s all wrapped up—albeit not always neatly, which is why I keep coming back to this genre, both as a reader and a writer.

Lori G. Armstrong left the firearms industry in 2000. Her mass market mystery series has been nominated for the Willa Cather Literary Award, the High Plains Book Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and the Shamus Award for Best Paperback Original by The Private Eye Writers of America. Lori is a fourth generation South Dakotan and lives with her family in Rapid City.

Purchase the book from Amazon.

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In a world where the Information Age is moving at breakneck speed, breakthroughs in areas of science that were once fodder for science fiction are now becoming a part of our everyday life.

A group of graduate students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology have stolen a breakthrough in opening and stabilizing Einstein-Rosen Bridges, or wormholes, as they are commonly known, that allows them to instantly transport people from one location to another. Their goal is to assassinate any powerful politician and executive controlling the world’s banking system that would use this technology for their own greedy gain rather than the advancement of mankind.

Meanwhile, in south Orange County, California, young Chase Manhattan, part of a new breed of modern-day discovery seekers, seeks to leave behind his life of danger and adventure and settle down as an associate professor of physics at University of California-Irvine. He also desires to build a lasting relationship with a beautiful girl he has not seen since high school.

But within days, he uncovers the diabolical scheme on the other side of the country and finds himself the one person who can prevent more murders from happening and ultimately destroy the technology. However, once the MIT group realizes Chase and his friends have the ability and motivation to not only take the breakthrough technology from them, but also thwart more killings, Chase soon finds himself in their crosshairs, the latest target on their list of assassinations.

As the death toll mounts, Chase and his friends must battle this group of ambitious graduate students from MIT on both coasts and in cyberspace in a desperate race to control or destroy this breakthrough that threatens to drastically change life as we know it.

Breakthrough, the first book in the Adventures of Chase Manhattan series, begins with a bang and offers the audience exciting, new, and diverse heroes and villains. The result is a fresh suspense thriller series integrating elements of greed, betrayal, passion, lust, unconditional love, coming of age, and hope. The action is swift, and there are numerous twists and turns that will keep the reader turning the pages and wanting more.

Author Interview:

What or whom inspires you to write?

I just see life and all of my experiences as one continuous action suspense story just waiting to be transferred to paper. I see “what if” scenarios throughout the day, regardless of where I am, what I’m doing, or who I’m with.

Although I’m a bit of an introvert, I’m very passionate about developing “what if” scenarios. I can relate to the Drew Carey’s show Whose Line Is It Anyway? an improvisational comedy show. Give me a simple “what if” scenario, and I can develop it into an action suspense trilogy that will keep the reader up late at night, turning the pages.

I draw much inspiration from Dean Koontz, Dan Brown, Stephen King, and the Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child tandem. I read a lot of fiction thrillers and felt I needed to identify a unique niche market that a large segment of the population could identify with and get excited about.

I think I’ve found it in a world where the Information Age is moving at breakneck speed, and breakthroughs in areas of science that were once fodder for science fiction are now becoming a part of our everyday life. I believe I’ve found my calling, my gift to the world.

How did you get started?

I accepted a voluntary layoff after toiling over 10 years in the banking and finance industry and took advantage of the opportunity to write full-time.

Breakthroughs in physics and technology are broadcast into millions of homes via numerous cable channels in layman’s terms and computer graphics anyone can understand. I thought I would capitalize on this particular niche and incorporate them into an action thriller series weaving together breakthroughs in physics and technology with greed, murder, and mayhem. Will these breakthroughs benefit mankind and be used to further civilization, or will they be stolen and used for greedy gain? I think we know the answer. That’s why the world needs a hero like my protagonist Chase Manhattan.

What did you find to be the most frustrating step/process of getting your first novel published?

I signed a non-exclusive contract with iUniverse, who was acquired by AuthorHouse. During the transition, much information was lost and it took about two or three additional months to bring Breakthrough to market. iUniverse (really, AuthorHouse) originally sent my unedited draft off to print. Can you imagine my response when I received the (ahem) final product? This was just the beginning of a series of comedies of errors.

But iUniverse has terrific customer service. They fixed everything in a timely manner. So some of the sting of their mistakes (which were many) were soothed by awesome customer service reps.

Do you have an agent? If yes, how long did it take for you to find one?

I do not currently have an agent, but I am actively pursuing one. I use Publisher’s Marketplace, a site to look for reputable agents and view deals they have made over the past couple years.

It took about three months of receiving feedback from various sources before I felt my query letter was professional. I even had my editor / proofreader go over it. I now understand why, after my initial effort of sending out my query letter, I received rejection for every one.

I feel much more confident today and have just this past week sent out about 50 query letters to specific agents. I’m expecting big things in the near future.

How long did it take for you to write Breakthrough?

Two years from start to finish. I thought I could accomplish everything in about eight months. But after the first editing/proof reading, I realized I still had a lot of research to perform and character development to perform. Then I had a second editor / proof reader go over the entire manuscript a second time. This was money well spent.

Are your characters based on yourself or anyone else you know?

The protagonist, Chase Manhattan (I may have to change his name to Chase Hawkings) is loosely based on me, only he’s a little bit taller than I am, a little bit better looking, a little faster, stronger, smarter, and much richer.

The rest of the good guys (and girls) and bad guys (and girls) are partialy made up and partially based on people I’ve known throughout my life.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

Honestly, I don’t suffer from writer’s block, although there are times when I do write, I can’t use the material because it lacks substance or excitement. So I save the material and revisit the snipits in the future. I have a junkyard of sorts, and if I need a part, I go to my junkyard, grab what I need, then polish, refine it, and insert it.

Technically speaking, what do you have to struggle the most when writing? How do you tackle it?

I really don’t struggle very much as I love what I do. I love performing due diligence in my research. Much of the two years I spent writing Breakthrough was devoted to researching the latest and greatest in the realm of physics.

I also had to research the Boston and Cambridge, MA area via the Internet as well as Boston police procedures. I also use Google Earth and yearly weather reports to describe a particular area. Honestly, there is so much information available at my fingertips, the biggest struggle I have is sorting through the wealth of information and eliminating relevant data.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get a book published?

The number one piece of advice I can give an aspiring author is to budget money for a competent editor / proofreader. Even editors who want to write and publish a book need an editor. This is the biggest, and one of the easiest, mistakes an author can make.

Editors / proof readers are vital to your success. Vital is an appropriate word. It means: necessary for life. Don’t try to go it alone, even if you call yourself an editor. You need that second set of eyes to look over your manuscript before you forward it on for printing.

You’re only as good as your editor / proof reader. Perception is reality, and the person buying your book will be the ultimate judge, not you, the author. I can say this with confidence, and hope to convince everyone I can to find a way to budget for a quality editor / proof reader.

Most editors / proof readers will review your first 10 pages for free. I’m confident even the most experienced writers will be amazed at the results. Do what I did; pay for a few pages here, a few chapters there. Before you know it, your entire manuscript will be transformed into a work of art.
Please share with us your latest work-in-progress.

I am currently writing the next two installments of the Breakthrough trilogy entitled Opening and Escalation. These two books will pick up where Breakthrough left off and take the story on an international level. The setting is the United States, China, and the Middle East.

These next books are very exciting as I use more discoveries and breakthroughs in physics in these books. Its too early to give away anything from these books, but for those who read Breakthrough, they will have a pretty good idea what direction Opening and Escalation will go.

What’s awesome for me is that I do not have to not have to set my stories centuries in the future and use characters with pointy ears. Since mankind is on the cusp of discoveries and breakthroughs in just about every facet of our lives, I can use our modern day setting and not have to resort to using a science fiction genre.

I’m also outlining an eerie Stephen King-type thriller entitled Murcat Manor set in Michigan.

Steve, please include links so the readers can visit you and where they can buy your book?

Readers can visit my blog site at http://www.stephentremp.blogspot.com

Currently, Breakthrough can be purchased through traditional retailers. Currently, Breakthrough is cheapest though Barnes and Nobel, but can also be purchases through Amazon, Borders Books and Music, and Target.



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Although this book is meant primarily for business people who have to write reports on a regular basis, I asked for a review copy because the title intrigued me. As an author, I’m always interested in writing advice, especially when it’s related to writing fast and, as the title states, under pressure. As it turned out, I was able to gather a lot of motivational and helpful tips from this book.

As a writer, sometimes it’s hard to focus when you’re working on various projects simultaneously and even more so when you’re under a deadline. I don’t know about you, but I tend to freeze when I have many projects unless I have a clear-cut plan /schedule worked out in advance. There are various ways you can trick your brain into focusing on your writing. Vassallo’s book teaches some techniques on how to write effectively, consistently and, most important, quickly.

The author’s approach is based on DASH, the four critical components needed when working under pressure: Direction, Acceleration, Strength, and Health. These elements are fully demonstrated and explained in the book, but to give you a quick idea of what to expect:

  • Direction: Tips for organizing your thoughts.
  • Acceleration: Tips for writing on the fly with a ‘beat the clock’ mindset.
  • Strength: Tips on how to use a quality control system and creating a productive environment.
  • Health: Tips on prioritizing work and minimizing future pressures.

I found the book well structured and the writing straight forward and enjoyable. Vassallo uses clear examples and metaphors to demonstrate his ideas and techniques. It is a quick read, too. If you work in business and have to write fast under deadlines, I prompt you to get a copy of this book. But How to Write Fast isn’t only for business people and most writers will benefit from this method.

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Many authors ask themselves what it means to be truly successful. Many of them believe that success comes with fame. Others think that success comes with money. Others long for a bestseller status. What does success mean to you?

Yes, fame is cool and royalty checks are something no author complains about (the more the merrier). However, if you are an independent author or are supported by a small publisher, the road to glory and wealth is long and full of thorns. And today not even a big publisher can guarantee that your book will be the next hit. It doesn’t mean that becoming a successful author in terms of recognition and royalties is impossible. It’s just important to understand that being an author is a journey and that writing a book is the easy part. Promoting yourself and your book requires hard work, strong will, faith and a certain amount of stubbornness that doesn’t let you give up. According to statistics, 95% of newly published authors give up pursuing their writing career during the first twelve month simply because once they begin to understand how the book business works, they lose hope and abandon their dream.

Of course, every author dreams of having his or her name on the bestseller list. Did you know that New York Times bestsellers are not really bestsellers? Many of the books don’t even sell that well before they appear on the list. And even if your book sells like hot cakes it doesn’t guarantee a spot on the “dream list”. Amazon bestsellers are a different story. Any book can become an Amazon bestseller if the author has enough money (anything between 15 and 60 thousand dollars) for a bestselling campaign. Big publishing houses pay for Amazon bestselling campaigns all the time. These campaigns are quite controversial in the eyes of many but I don’t condemn them. Personally, I consider them just another marketing strategy that is highly effective and usually works if planned and supervised by a real marketing professional with enough experience.

I am a successful author. I haven’t appeared in New York Times (yet), I haven’t become an Amazon bestselling author (yet), I haven’t sold millions of books (yet). But yes, I am successful. I’m proud of myself. And if you’re an author, you should be too. Being a successful author means writing a good book that finds its way to readers. Receiving positive reviews. Hearing words of praise from those who love your book. Seeing that your book changes people’s lives and makes their days a little bit nicer. Realizing that you’re making a difference in this world. And it also means not giving up when things get tough, not abandoning your book and fighting for its place in the sun. This is what makes a successful author.

I write for my readers and for myself. I write for the joy of writing. I write because it makes me happy. And I suggest you do the same. Only then you can call yourself a successful author.

Barbora Knobova is a writer, love coach and expert in Delicious Life. A world traveler, she is one of those rare world citizens who live everywhere and nowhere. Barbora is a firm believer in female friendship, loyalty and bonding. She writes hilarious, sharp-witted, caustically apt, ironic, moving, true books for strong, independent, smart, fearless women. Barbora has also written several self-improvement books and teaches women about the importance of self-love in relationships and life in general. Barbora speaks eight languages and has found her home away from home in New York, London and Milan. She is always on the move, accompanied by her beagle Brinkley, the nasty dog from her new book Tales for Delicious Girls.
Visit her website at http://www.barboraknobova.com

Barbara Knobova is on a Virtual Book Tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

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