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Ken Malovos photo

Ken Malovos is a mediator and arbitrator in Sacramento, CA . Previously, he was a trial lawyer, as a public defender for 12 years and a business litigator for 25 years. He is a graduate of Stanford University (philosophy) and UC Hastings College of the Law. Ken is a past president of the Sacramento County Bar Association and Legal Services of Northern California. He is a panel member for the American Arbitration Association, a fellow in the College of Commercial Arbitrators, a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals and a member of the California Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. This is his first novel. He lives in Sacramento with his wife. You can visit Ken Malovos’ website at www.malovoslaw.com.

About the book

Sacramento trial lawyer, Mike Zorich, is finally coming to grips with the death of his wife from cancer five years ago. There is a new woman in his life.  His son is making his way in the business world. His law practice is going well. And he has a new case that promises to be very demanding.  Members of the Darnoff wine family are at odds with each other, amidst a divorce and partnership dissolution.

Then things go wrong. Mike becomes the target of some unexplained personal attacks.  He is mugged on the bike trail and his house is ransacked. Is it someone connected to the Darnoff case?  Is it an old client from his years in the Public Defender’s Office?  Is it some disgruntled witness from a trial? To top it off, Mike is held in contempt of court and remanded to jail.  The attacks continue and only get worse. The authorities don’t have a clue. Can Mike figure it all out before someone is killed?

Purchase on Amazon.

Interview

Q: Would you call yourself a born writer? 

A: I have never seen myself as a born writer, but I can say that I love to write.  For most of my life I have written non-fiction, either writing essays in college or case summaries in law school.  As a lawyer, it was writing legal briefs and as an arbitrator, it is writing arbitration awards.  There was a creative aspect to all of this, in that I had to learn how to express myself so that someone else can understand it and, in some cases, be persuaded by it.

I have always loved writing and I promised myself that someday I would write a novel.  Of course, writing fiction is a whole different thing from what I had done in the past.  My interest in writing fiction started with reading a lot of novels and marveling at the stories that authors created.  I love trying to imagine events that have not occurred and to put them down on paper in a way that people will enjoy reading.  This is my first novel, so I am learning a lot in the process.

Q: What was your inspiration for Contempt of Court?

A: In thinking of a good story for my book, I thought of a case that that happened a few years ago, when a judge threatened to hold some of the attorneys in contempt of court for not turning over financial documents.  The attorneys stood up in court and told the judge that they would not obey his order because they were under another order from another judge not to turn over the documents.  The first judge was not deterred.  So, the question was how far does an attorney go in standing up in court and telling a judge that he or she is not going to obey the judge’s order?  Isn’t it just easier to give up and avoid the hassle? That was the start of this story.  It is not a common situation in the law, for sure.

Q: What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

A: I like to explore the themes that are common to trial lawyers, such as regret, justice and fairness.  Also, there is the theme of total frustration when a lawyer can do nothing to help someone in need.  I especially like to explore the theme of the personal impact on a lawyer of trying a case in court, whether it is elation, disappointment or failure. What is the impact on the lawyer’s family? I am familiar with all of these feelings, so exploring them seems natural.

I also like exploring ideas that are new to me such as how someone reacts when a loved one dies or how far someone will go to save a loved one in peril.   What does true friendship or love mean?   Another theme that I like to explore is how to handle a huge set back in life, something totally unexpected, maybe something embarrassing.

Q: How long did it take you to complete the novel? Contempt of Court cover

A: This novel took five years and ten revisions.  I did not work continuously on it, as I have an active law practice, working as a mediator and arbitrator.  So, I would find time on a weekly or monthly basis to work on the manuscript.  It was always in the back of my mind and I spent a huge number of hours just thinking about it, thinking of transitions or plot twists or ways to make the novel more exciting.  I wrote a lot of outlines and changed most of them.  I deleted a lot of writing out of a lot of earlier drafts when I realized that some portions just were not needed to advance the story.

Part of the reason why it took me so long was that I was learning how to write fiction at the same time.  I took some courses, both live and online, and I read quite a few books on writing.  I listened to CD’s from lectures by writers.  It was all inspiring but it usually meant that I saw something in my manuscript that needed to be changed, so that brought about a new revision.  I am sure that my next one will not take as long.

Q: Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

A: I am not disciplined.  In fact, I often look for ways to procrastinate.  Whenever I get back into a manuscript, it takes an effort because I cannot write every day, due to my day job.  The effort is to try to remember everything that has happened so far and to not repeat myself or change some fact.  I am getting better at this.  I need to consult my notes a lot, just to be sure that I am being consistent in my story and my character.

When I have a full day, which is not often, I start around 10 in the morning, after I have done my daily internet surfing and after playing a few games of solitaire.  I stop for lunch and go to about 3 in the afternoon, maybe later if I am really on fire.  I will think about what I write in the evening and make some notes about changes or plot lines that I will pursue.  I can think about my manuscript while I am reading other books, jogging, watching television or taking a shower.  It seems as if the story just sticks right in the center of my brain.

Q: What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

A: The biggest challenge for me was creating a believable and interesting story.  I started with something that I knew from personal experience and tried to enlarge it into a complete plot with likable characters.  I added sub-plots and details.  But it took time.

I always asked myself if a reader would be engaged in my manuscript, as I was writing.  Would they find it interesting?  Would they relate to the characters?  It was hard for me to be as objective as I wanted to be, although I think I got better the more I wrote.

Another challenge was making changes to a manuscript.  It is a whole lot harder than it would seem.  If you change something on page 32, you basically have to read the entire manuscript to be sure there are no inconsistencies in the other 250 or so pages.   The internal consistency and logic was a struggle.

Q: What do you love most about being an author?

A: I love most the pure ecstasy when I am alone, sitting in front of my computer and writing, especially when I have figured out exactly what I want to say.  It means that I have given a great deal of thought to the particular passage or chapter and have a clear plan for what will happen.  Even when I have not figured out exactly what to say, there are times when it just comes to me, as I write.  It is obvious and it feels right. There is pure joy in writing at those times.  I have started sometimes in this writing mode in the morning and all of sudden realized that it is 5 p.m., with no recognition of the passage of time.

I have to say that there are other times when it does not come so easily.  Then I have to grind it out.  But as long as I am making progress, it is still very exciting.  I am creating something out of nothing.

Q: Where can we find you on the web?

A: I am at www.malovoslaw.com.  However, most everything at this website is about my legal work.   It does tell you who I am and what I do.  And I have written about my novel and the writing process.   My book is available on amazon.com, in paperback and  kindle and at smashwords.com.

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P. Christina Greenaway

Christina Greenaway grew up in Cornwall, England in a small fishing village. One of her favorite pastimes as a child was to write a story, stuff it in a bottle, toss it into the sea, and imagine all her characters – pirates, kings, and others – come to life. Her life twisted and turned, however, in so many ways that she never ventured into writing until now, many years later. Her novels include themes generated from her life experiences including: trust, the fantasy parent, empowerment, work and travel and spiritual power.

Christina has worked at BBC radio in England, a NYC high-powered ad agency, as assistant to the president of a perfume company in France, as a partner for a frog farm in Costa Rica, and numerous other venues. She has traversed the globe.

She is the author of Written in Ruberah, published by Girl by the Sea Publishing, and Dream Chaser: Awakening, published by Girl by the Sea. You can visit Christina at www.christinagreenaway.com or her blog at http://christinagreenaway.wordpress.com.

 

Would you call yourself a born writer? 

Yes. I loved to write stories when I was a young child. I was never so happy as when I sat on the cliffs, stared into the sea and dreamed up tales of lost lands and princesses waiting to be rescued from one monster or another. I’ve written in fits and starts throughout my life, but it wasn’t until I came to that crossroad—that moment when you realize forever no longer lights up your future, that I settled into writing seriously. Should I have done it earlier? No. I’ve explored the world, met a wide range of people, tried my hand at different careers, loved and lost and loved again and again.  These experiences form the well from which I draw my characters and stories. 

What was your inspiration for Written in Ruberah

I wanted to set a story in Cornwall, UK, where I was born and raised. I felt the lush countryside, the moors, and the rugged coast would feed my imagination. They did. Lovers came to mind—lovers who must time travel to the ancient past to heal a rift that prevents them from being together.  I needed an immortal—a guide who would help them. I turned to an old Cornish legend that fascinated me as a child: the legend of the beautiful nymph Tamara and the giant brothers Tavy and Tawridge. Tamara’s father forbids her to meet the giants. Tamara disobeys him. Her father catches her with the giants and punishes her by turning her into a river of tears. Tamara forms the River Tamar. As a child, I travelled back and forth to boarding school by train crossing the River Tamar. I imagined Tamara as a water spirit who helped people.

Written in Ruberah is the first book in my Age of Jeweled Intelligence series about people who lived in the Time of Ruberah who made sacred promises to one day make amends for the disaster that brought about the end of that land. They tossed those promises into the River of Life. Many of those souls are alive on the planet today. As their promises come due they float into the River Tamar. Tamara, the luminous spirit of the river, guides those who come to fulfill them.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?Written in Ruberah  Cover

In my first novel, Dream Chaser:Awakening, I explore forgiveness. Sara Jensen opens her own ad agency with a goal to become a woman of capital before she turns forty. Sara lands the dream client Ross, head of a Hollywood studio. Love ensues. Love that draws Ross close to an early death. Love that asks Sara to risk her own to save his. Love that begs forgiveness. 

Written in Ruberah explores what lies in the chasm that sometimes keeps lovers apart. American lovers Miriam and Mitch travel to Cornwall for a romantic getaway. Miriam feels hard-wired to be in a committed relationship with Mitch, but she can’t realize that love due to a debt she carries from ancient Ruberah. 

How long did it take you to complete the novel? 

Five years.  It took many drafts to weave together the history of ancient Ruberah, the story of Tamara, and the present day dilemma between Miriam and Mitch. The second book in the series is moving along at a much faster pace.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I am disciplined. I give thanks to my years in boarding school for that. I write every morning for about three hours, and I edit in the afternoons. While doing other things like yoga, hiking, going to the grocery store, I listen to the dream of the story whispering in my head.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Keeping the characters grounded in their worldly aspirations while whisking them into the astral spheres of the jewel kingdoms or the Black Heart, Dark Master’s seat of power beneath the ocean.   

What do you love most about being an author?

The addage is, write what you know about. I write what I want to know more about. I treat writing as an act of trust. I come to the page and work with the story until that something greater than me kicks in. I write for the joy discovery.

Where can we find you on the web?

www.christinagreenaway.com

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Joe Sergi photo

Joe Sergi lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife and daughter. Joe is an attorney and a Haller Award winning author who has written articles, novels, short stories, and comic books in the horror, sci-fi, and young adult genres. Joe is the creator of the Sky Girl series of novels and the editor of Great Zombies in History. His first novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy was selected Best of 2010 by the New PODler Review. Joe is a life-long comic fan who regularly writes on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. A complete list of Joe’s titles is available at www.JoeSergi.net. When not writing, Joe works as a Senior Litigation Counsel in an unnamed US government agency and is a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law.

Would you call yourself a born writer? 

I think it’s fair to say that I was a born storyteller (much to my parents’ and teachers’ chagrin). As a child, I spent a lot of my time in imaginary worlds with imaginary friends and fantastic creatures. Luckily, I had teachers and parents that encouraged this behavior. My parents tell me that they used to get notes about my vivid imagination. Some of my earliest memories including laying in the back seat of my parents’ car during long road trips creating comic books based on my favorite Saturday morning cartoons or writing the screenplay for a Star Wars inspired opus, complete with the marriage of Luke and Leah (I had even cast the movie with neighborhood kids when we finally realized that none of us owned a movie camera.) In high school, I often annoyed teachers by taking the most mundane assignment and giving them a unique twist. (For a career fair assignment on employment advancement, I outlined the steps that could be employed by the President to manipulate the Constitution to create a monarchy.) In college, I was once accused of plagiarism because “a business major could not possibly be this creative.” In law school, I wrote articles and edited scholarly journals and magazines. In college and law school, I found an outlet for my creativity through standup comedy and acting. As an adult, I decided that I wanted to be a litigator. Many people think this is because a trial attorney is just a story teller with the judge or jury as the audience (nonfiction of course).Currently, I work as a senior litigation counsel for a government agency. As a litigator, you could say I have been a professional non-fiction writer for decades (and quite frankly earn much more per word than I will probably ever make writing fiction.)

What was your inspiration for Sky Girl?

I think it is fair to say that the entire Sky Girl trilogy was conceived in a comic’s podcast forum project and born out of a father’s love for his daughter.

Let me explain. The Comic Geek Speak Podcast is made up of a bunch of great guys that love comics. I have listened to them and appeared on their show for several years and am still an active member of their forums. It was on those forums that I learned about a proposed prose anthology, which would be written by the listeners of the podcast. I wrote a story called the Return of PowerBoy, a story about a middle aged accountant, who may or may not be a superhero. (The anthology was never produced and the story was later featured in A Thousand Faces, the Quarterly Journal of Superhuman Fiction where it won the Haller for Best Writer in 2010.) The story was a very dark tale of what happens when a super villain wins. One of the very minor characters was the accountant’s four-year-old daughter, CeeCee.

Sometimes writers don’t create their characters, they channel them and that’s what happened with CeeCee. After the story was finished, I kept coming back to that little girl. What kind of life would she live, would she develop her father’s powers, and what would she do if she did? Well, CeeCee became DeDe, and the character of Sky Girl was born.

By this time, I had a daughter of my own. And I can’t help but think that this is what converted the very dark Powerboy story into the light hearted story of Sky Girl. As a proud geek daddy, I wanted to share my hobby with my daughter and looked for characters to inspire her. Sadly, I found very few. With a couple of exceptions, most of the female characters from early comics were merely eye candy fawning with unrequited love over the male protagonist or were relegated to the role of guest star (or even hostage) in their own books. Even the few that started as everywoman characters (like Kitty Pryde or Cassie Sandsmark) rapidly developed into über pin-up babes in the 1990s and 2000s. Thankfully, things have gotten a lot better for the modern female comics character, but the industry still has a long way to go. Female characters should have the same chance to grow, develop, and overcome adversity as male characters do. DeDe is a strong teenager and not defined by the men in her life. The series is really about DeDe’s journey to find herself and become Sky Girl. She makes a lot of good decisions, but she also makes some bad and selfish ones. But, at the end of the day she hopefully ends up in the right place. I hope she inspires my daughter to make good decisions.

At the end of the day, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, and the character of Sky Girl is the culmination of reading far too many great comics, finding far too few strong female characters and loving my daughter just enough.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?Sky-Girl-Front-Cover

Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures is a fun story that I hope entertains. At a deeper level, it is about taking responsibility and growing up. I hope DeDe will serve as a role model. She is independent and strong and knows what she wants. But, she is also responsible and knows what she has to do. How she handles that, tell a lot about her character.

My intention was to have Sky Girl represent a strong female character who always tries to do the right thing. She isn’t perfect. She makes mistakes. But, she learns from her mistakes and, most importantly, she never gives up. In Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, Sky Girl has to deal with some heavy emotional things like the death of her father, the fact that her mother is moving on with another man, and the ever-changing relationships around her. But, just because she allows herself to be emotionally open and vulnerable, that doesn’t mean she is weak. Dealing with adversity makes her that much stronger when she triumphs over it.

How long did it take you to complete the novel? 

I had a pretty unique writing process when I did Sky Girl. I write all of my first drafts on my Blackberry as emails, which I send to myself and edit later. (I do the same thing on my iPhone and iPad now, with a lot more corrections thanks to the autocorrect feature and fat fingers.) It is a habit I developed during standing room only commutes to an old job and frequent travel on my current job. I can pretty much tune out the world when I write. Sometimes I listen to music, other times I sit quietly, and still others I stand on a crowded bus, train, ferry, monorail, or on a really long line for a theme park attraction. Later I look at these emails and I do my final editing. I should add that I always like to listen to movie and television soundtracks (usually very late at night/early morning). I have a very large collection, which runs the gamut from classic to anime to horror to science fiction. I can always find something to put me in the mood. For example, in the fight scenes in Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy, I remember listening to The Mummy Returns, Van Helsing, Superman Returns and King Arthur (I would add the Avengers if I was writing it today). Those scores really create the heroic mood. The score from Dracula or the Exorcist can always inspire horror (and is really creepy in the morning). Alias and the Mission Impossible scores are great for suspense.

Of course, the harder part of the work (and the biggest delay) was the submission process. Right out of the gate I got numerous three chapter and full book requests from several publishers and agents. However, always at the last level, the book would be rejected because 1) it should be written as a graphic novel, 2) the target audience for superhero prose fiction is too small. More specifically, that the there is no audience for superheroine fiction, which is like saying “girls don’t read comics.” (This is clearly not true and sexist in my mind.) 3) My platform wasn’t big enough. Numerous publishers suggested I self-publish the book, which was a route I didn’t want to go. The few offers I got were from publishers that were on the Predators and Editors lists (or should have been). As I will get into, I think I ended up making the wrong choice and learned from it. But, I am grateful that the first publisher was willing to take a chance on the book because I know there is a Sky Girl audience out there.

So, to answer the question, conservatively it took 3 years for each book to come out.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I’m not sure there is anything such as a typical day. There are two major philosophies that I have adopted for my writing. The first comes from Ray Bradbury, who I had the privilege of meeting at San Diego ComicCon before he died. I asked him if he had any advice for writers. He said the best thing a writer can do is write. The second philosophy comes from Stephen King (in On Writing and not told to me in person), who said something like, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time to write.”

So, I try to read and write all the time. I get the majority of it done when no one is awake. I’m one of those people that doesn’t sleep very much. I get a couple of hours a night. That leaves a lot of time when no one is around. I used to watch a lot of television infomercials. Now, I use that time more productively and write. At the very least, I have to try to write creatively every day (I also write for my day job, but it is a very different structure). I don’t hold myself to minimum page limits or time limits when I write fiction. Instead, I try to set aside 5am to 7am to write every day and see how much I can do.

So with that philosophy in mind, I will go through today. I got up at 4:30 am and read some chapters in Marty Sklar’s new book, Dream it! Do it! Then, I edited some interviews I wrote last night for the Sky Girl book tour. Next, I started this interview, wrote a comics script, and did some research for my nonfiction book before my daughter got up for school. I dropped her off and, on the way to work, I listened to the audio book for Michael Schumacher’s Will Eisner: A Dreamer’s Life in Comics. I heard something that sparked an idea for a CBLDF article, so I sent myself an email with the idea after pulling in my office parking lot (don’t text and drive it’s  a bad idea). During my lunch hour, I did some research for my potential CBLDF article, updated my website, and answered some writing related emails. After work, I listened to the audiobook for David Walter Smith’s In the Shadow of the Matterhorn. (I frequently listen to up to 5 audiobooks at a time, which is while I love Audible). After I got home, I finished this interview, attended to a Comics Experience lecture by Andy Schmidt on working for the Big Two, outlined my ideas for the CBLDF article, reviewed my research on my nonfiction book, read Rise of the First Lanterns, and did some work I brought home from the office. It is now 1:45am and I am finally going to bed. The alarm is set for 4:30 and then I can start all over tomorrow. I’m lucky, there are some nights I get so engrossed that I inadvertently pull all- nighters.

Admittedly, there are times that it is very hard to fit in the writing. My position as a Senior Litigation Counsel is more than a full-time job. Add on to that I still try to take comic classes and do workshops with Comics Experience (which I highly recommend by the way), and the fact that I have an eight-year-old daughter (and a wife that travels for a living), and time gets pretty tight. When I’m traveling, I do the majority of my writing on commutes or while waiting.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

The hardest part of writing Sky Girl, or really any work of fiction, is the editing–especially if you decide to cut something. For example, in the original draft, Dianne (DeDe’s mom) had remarried and DeDe had a little brother. Because of this, I had a completely different role for Michael Valjorge–he was going to be a school janitor that DeDe and Jason tried to avoid while they tested DeDe’s powers. In early edits, it became apparent that these extra characters only complicated the plot and didn’t add anything. So, they were cut from the novel and Valjorge came in as the boyfriend.

Another thing that causes a problem for me is motivation to edit. I write because I have stories to tell. Far too frequently, I get the story on paper and that satisfies the need to get it out. So, I have to force myself to edit and then edit and then edit. If this occurs, I have to put it aside until the muse calls me back to it. Of course, that’s easier to do when you aren’t on deadline. However, if something is due, I just struggle through it and hope for the best. The other thing that occurs when you put your work aside for months is that you may lose the connection to the characters. This happened in a recent story I did called “The Tube” (in Indie Comics Horror #2 available in comic shops now). By the time I got back to the story, I had to rework the main character (from a school girl to a secretary) because I didn’t feel her anymore. I liked the way it turned out, but the original version was very different.

What do you love most about being an author?

While it is true that a writer is anyone who writes, it’s pretty cool that I can look at my shelf and see all the books I’ve written on my shelf and say, “I made those.” To know that after I am gone future generations will have the ability to see my imagination is pretty awesome. But, by far, the best thing about being a writer would have to be the readers. I mean sure, authors are a pretty dedicated lot, who provide entertainment. But at the end of the day, I write for me—because I have a story to tell. I would write if no one ever read it. (For evidence of this, you should look at the sales figures for some of my earlier work). Readers on the other hand, have no such compulsion. They spend their valuable time and money on someone else’s work. There are a lot of great books out there by some amazing authors (living and dead). As a result, these people don’t need to take a chance on me (or any other unknown), but they do. I really appreciate that. So, the most rewarding part of being a writer is a no brainer. It is the people. I love going to conventions and meeting people to tell them about my books. I love the people that take the time to read my books and just come by and say hello and tell me they liked it. I just finished two days at Baltimore ComicCon. I am exhausted, worn out, and have no voice. But, you know what? I would not have traded that experience. I got to meet some great people and introduce them to my book. Some of them bought it and some of them didn’t. Nothing is more rewarding than someone coming up to me at a show and telling me that they really loved my book, or that it is their daughter’s favorite book, or that they made (or had someone make them) a Sky Girl costume for Halloween or a ComicCon. At my last comic con, two little girls told me that Sky Girl was their favorite book and they can’t wait for the third book. These people tell me their theories and guess at what will happen next. It is humbling. If you want to know a secret, book festivals and comic conventions aren’t that lucrative for me (I rarely ever make my table cost). But, writing is pretty solitary, so the chance to meet people is priceless.

To these people, I say “Thank you!”

There is a second, less tangible benefit of being a writer and that is the moment when you realize that your characters have come to life. For example, a major character doesn’t make it through the current book. I never intended for this event to occur. But, when I wrote that part of the story, I realized that there was no other way the tale could be told. Someone once said that a writer doesn’t tell stories, they discover them. When that happens, it is a great feeling.

Where can we find you on the web?

My author site is www.joesergi.net; Sky Girl can be found at www.SkyGirlNovel.com, and the official site for Great Zombies in History is www.GreatZombiesinHistory.com; my monthly articles can be found at www.cbldf.org.

Thanks for having me. For those interested, Sky Girl is available at all online booksellers and can be ordered in brick and mortar shops and chains. It is also available directly from the publisher at www.martinsisterspublishing.com. I will also have copies and be signing the book at some upcoming show appearances, some of which include: The Collingswood Book Festival (October 5), New York ComicCon (October 10-13), and the Festival of the Book (October 19).

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Beverly Stowe McClure photojpg

Beverly Stowe McClure, a former teacher, is now enjoying a second career: writing. She never planned to be a writer, but in the classroom she and her students did such fun activities in art and science that she decided to write about some of them. Luckily, a few magazines liked what she sent them, and her articles have appeared in Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse, Jr., and others. Nine of her stories have been published as books, the latest one a MG/Tween eBook: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. She also has two stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.
Beverly enjoys discovering her ancestors in her genealogy research. She plays the piano. (Thank you, Mom, for making encouraging me to practice.) She takes long walks where she snaps pictures of wildlife and clouds, and of course she reads, usually two books at a time. She teaches a women’s Sunday school class. Watching baseball (Go Rangers) is another of her favorite activities. Retirement is fun.

You can learn more about Beverly Stowe McClure at http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com or her blog at http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com.

Would you call yourself a born writer? 

Nope, not even close. Everyone might think I was, since my eighth-grade teacher sent “Stars,” a poem I wrote for a class assignment, to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings, a high school anthology. That poem was my only claim to publishing, as well as my only attempt at writing anything except school papers, until I grew up into an adult. I wasn’t really interested in becoming an author. When the writing bug finally bit me at a much older age, and I decided to become a famous author, haha, I had no idea how to start, so I took a couple of courses on writing for children. I worked hard, following my instructor’s directions. Writing was tougher than I thought it would be. I kept at it though and am so happy I did not give up.

What was your inspiration for A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat?

On a visit with my son and daughter-in-law, who live on James Island just outside Charleston, SC, we decided to go to Folly Beach and watch the sun rise one morning. Morris Island Light House, built before the Civil War, sits in the Inlet. As the sun peeked above the horizon, turning night into day, I pictured a ghost living in the light house. Who was he? Why was he a ghost? Why was he in the lighthouse? Then the vision of a pirate ship cruising in the waters, searching for something appeared. A pirate, tricorn hat on his head, cutlass at his side, stood on board the ship. Some people might think I’m a little on the weird side. But isn’t the imagination the place where many stories begin? Ghost stories are quite popular in Charleston. I heard a lot while I was there. According to legend, many of the old houses have resident ghosts. I’ve written one ghost story and knew I’d soon write a second one. Now I have: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. Since my target audience is children and teens, my characters are tweens, thirteen years old. And the ghosts … well, you may  recognize a couple of them.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I seldom think of themes when I write, but I’d have to say “family” is an important theme to me. I’m big on family and I think it shows in my writing. Also honesty and love are found in many of my novels.

How long did it take you to complete the novel? 

I started the novel in early 2010. Revised, revised, and revised. My critique group gave me expert advice. I revised some more. I confess to being a slow writer. The English teacher in me cringes at punctuation errors and such, so I spend a lot of time correcting myself. Finally, the manuscript was ready to submit in fall of 2011.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Most of the time, yes, I stick to a schedule. Having a set routine goes back to my teaching years, I think. I accomplish more if I write down my goals for each day, not that I always reach them, but they motivate me to stay busy. I generally start writing around 9:00 AM, after I’ve checked email. If I’m working on a new story, I do it first, and write until 11:00 or 12:00. I usually have more than one story going at a time, in different stages. Right now, I’m working on a new YA historical fiction novel, editing a YA contemporary that I hope to submit around the first of the year, if not sooner, and tossing about ideas for a couple of new stories. I alternate working on the new and editing the old.

Afternoons I search for promotion ideas, post blogs, read other’s blogs, and read books to review. My brain doesn’t create well in the afternoon, so I seldom write then. Perhaps a short story, but nothing that takes a lot of energy. Evenings I spend reading.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?pirate-blockade-runner-cat-200x300

Since the pirates in the story are “real” instead of fiction, I had to do a lot of research to make sure I portray them accurately. Many young readers will be familiar with Major Stede Bonnet, the gentleman pirate, and surely they’ll know Blackbeard, one of the most notorious pirates that ever lived. Also, the setting had to be authentic, because it’s where the pirates were part of the time in real life. Children are smart. They catch the little details and being wrong will stop them reading.

What do you love most about being an author?

When someone tells me they love/like/relate to my story, and that it helps them see a solution to a similar situation they might be facing. I write for the reader, and for the reader in me.

Where can we find you on the web?

http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com

https://plus.google.com/102015270528558455280/about

https://twitter.com/beverlymcclure

http://www.facebook.com/beverlysmcclure

http://goodreads.com/author/show/11462.Beverly_Stowe_McClure

Thank you for hosting me today. Please stop by my blog and leave a comment. Thanks.

 

Purchase at MuseItUp Publishing or Amazon!

 

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Harkness cover

In this thrilling debut novel, by Michael Bigham, Sheriff Matt Harkness faces a perilous challenge. He isn’t your typical Western sheriff. Cowboy boots make his arches ache, he’s phobic of horses, he drives an old battered pickup and his faithful companion is a wiener dog named Addison. Set on the Oregon High Desert in 1952, life in the small town of Barnesville has been easy-going for Matthew until a star-crossed teen-age couple disappears. Harkness is the keeper of secrets in his little town and to solve the crime, he must decide which secrets to expose. One secret involves Judge Barnes, the county’s most powerful man. But Harkness has a secret of his own: he’s in love with the Judge’s wife. How much is Harkness willing to risk to catch a murderer?

Excerpt:

Three dozen young men, most of them towheaded, in football pads and cutoffs grunted as they pushed blocking sleds in the late afternoon sun. It must have been ninety-five degrees out, but thank God, not a hundred. It got so unbearable here ‘bout when it cracked a hundred, the snakes and coyotes hid in their holes until the sun went down.

“Pick it up, Rob,” Coach Conroy yelled in a high-pitched voice. “What are you? Some kind of pussy?”

I said my hellos to Conroy, an ugly man wearing a jarhead haircut, a permanent smile, and an Alabama sweatshirt—takes a special man to wear a sweatshirt in this heat. He asked me if I found Joey yet.

“We’re still working on it,” I said. “I understand that he disappeared after practice. Anything unusual happen yesterday? Anything that might relate to the boy’s disappearance?”

“Like what?”

“Like anything.” I felt a bit aggrieved. Smart folks playing dumb made my scalp itch. Good old boy drawl or not, Conroy was no dummy.

“Ordinary practice. Joey did break loose for a sixty-three yarder in scrimmage.” Conroy tooted his whistle twice and, without further prompting, the kids broke into groups for specialized drills. How could a man smile so much?

“Joey especially close with anyone here?” I asked.

“Ronnie, over there.” Conroy pointed at the quarterback, a lanky kid with fire-red hair.

“The Gearhart kid?”

“Good quarterback, nice kid,” Conroy said.

I thought of his old man sitting in my lockup. “Maybe being a drunk asshole skips a generation.”

Conroy looked at me quizzically for a moment. His masculine smell was overwhelming, like he was some great beast king. He opened his arms as if to embrace his team. “We’re going to State this year, mark my words. We’ll win State. Barnestown, State Triple A Champs, 1952.” I didn’t doubt him. He was a firecracker, but I found myself not caring. Ronnie Gearhart sprinted out on an option and tossed a clothesline pass down the field to a waiting receiver who muffed the catch. Linebackers and defensive tackles panted like Chihuahua’s chasing a greyhound.

“We’ll wrap up in half an hour.” Conway was already moving toward his team and seeming to forget me. “Okay, ladies,” he yelled. “Pick it up!”Michael Bigham photo

• Paperback: 198 pages
• Publisher: Muskrat Press (October 17, 2012)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0615721974
• ISBN-13: 978-0615721972

Link to purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Harkness-A-High-Desert-Mystery/dp/0615721974/

Raised in the mill town of Prineville in Central Oregon beneath blue skies and rimrocks, Michael Bigham attended the University of Oregon and during his collegiate summers, fought range fires on the Oregon high desert for the Bureau of Land Management. He worked as a police officer with the Port of Portland and after leaving police work, obtained an MFA degree in Creative Writing from Vermont College. Michael lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and daughter. Harkness is his first novel.

Visit Michael online at http://michaelbigham.com/.

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Lindsey and Lindsey Headshot OFFICIAL!!!

Would you call yourself a born writer? 

LP: I’d definitely call myself a born writer, but that doesn’t mean I’m great at it. I just know that I yearn for it and it makes me happy, so I know I’m meant to do it some way, shape, or form.

LF: I’d call myself a born imaginer, not a born writer. I kept diaries and journals growing up, but I was never very good about writing consistently. But, I’ve always had extremely vivid and outlandish dreams, and I’ve always been an avid reader of fantastical fiction. It wasn’t until about four years ago that I started writing my imaginings down. After that, I couldn’t stop. It just feels right.

What was your inspiration for After The Ending?

LF: I’m not really sure. LP and I were driving home from a book conference–this was while we still worked at Copperfield’s Books together–and we started talking about a story idea. I’d been thinking about writing something entirely epistolary that chronicled an adult woman’s post-apocalyptic experience. During the two-hour drive we toyed with the premise, tossing ideas back and forth, and by the time we arrived at LP’s house, we had characters, a rough backstory, and a very general outline.

LP: An interesting fact about this project is that we actually started this as a blog. It was still about two friends who survived the apocalypse, but their story was solely conveyed through emails. As we wrote, we realized the characters and their stories were too one-dimensional. We wanted to give ourselves the space to explore our characters, to show the audience who they were outside of their quirky and oftentimes melodramatic emails. We wanted more, and it turned into the nearly 500 page book with first person narrative and a few straggling emails.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

LF: Hmmm…for The Ending series, we really tried to focus on the idea that the apocalypse doesn’t have to be entirely about death and sadness. That’s not to say that those things aren’t present in After The Ending–I think Dani and Zoe have emotional and mental breakdowns nearly every other chapter–but we really wanted to highlight the undeniable power of hope, love, and friendship. For Dani and Zoe, a life without those things would have been only a half-life.

LP: In After The Ending we explored humanity in general. What would happen if the world ended? How would regular people react? Who would survive? Realistically, I can’t see Zoe and Dani picking up shotguns and blowing Crazies to smithereens without a second thought or without some sort of transformation along the way. They are young (mid-twenties), and there’s an emotional process behind learning how to survive. That’s one theme we focused on. After the Ending cover art

How long did it take you to complete the novel? 

LF: From conception to publication, I think it took about a year and a half, which is pretty good considering the massive indie publishing learning curve. Book two, Into The Fire, will have a shorter turn-around time, about a year. Speed definitely comes with confidence and know-how, but we’d never rush the process for the sake of publishing faster. Writing the rough manuscript really only takes us a few months. It’s the revising and editing that eats up most of the time, and those things can’t be rushed if we want to put out a good quality story.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

LP: Disciplined? When I have time to write, yes. Aside from writing, I work part time and also write for the local historical society. That being said, I rarely have days I can just sit and dedicate to my chapters or other writing projects. However, in a perfect world where I have the entire day to be inspired and conjure up the next hurdle poor Zoe has to overcome, I would: wake up, read a little from whatever book I can’t put down to get my gears turning, sit down to write for a few hours, breaking for some exercise, food and ice tea, move outside to work in the sunshine and to be serenaded by the sound of the waterfall in my backyard before it’s time to meander back inside to make dinner and spend time with my man. Until I have the space and opportunity to work that way, I write down all my ideas and observations in notebooks to access later on when I’m in the mood or have the time to sit down and write.

LF: I’ve been lucky enough to work on writing full-time (thanks to my wonderful husband!), so I would say my typical writing day–which is pretty much everyday–looks like this: I wake up and make tea, check email, book sales, and reviews, read or watch a show for about an hour while I wait for my brain to catch up with the fact that it’s awake, and then I start writing. I usually write a chapter from start to finish (generally between 3,000 and 5,000 words), then get off my butt and work in the garden or go for a walk or a bike ride while I listen to an audio book, make dinner, still listening to the audio book, then have a glass of wine while I do something relaxing. Sprinkle a generous amount of hanging out with my crazy cats, and your looking at my typical day.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

LP: Remembering I have my own writing style and to stay true to it. I think keeping a unique voice gets tricky when two writers are working so closely together, especially after hours of editing each other’s chapters. It’s only going to get more difficult as all of our characters become more integrated and LF’s characters are in my chapters and mine are in hers. Sometimes the lines get blurred and I really want to be conscious and prevent that.

LF: Learning which feedback to incorporate into revisions and which to throw out. One thing I really battle with in my writing is remembering what the “Average Joe/Jane” knows and what might be unfamiliar to them. For example, when setting a scene, I have to remind myself that just because I can see it in my head doesn’t mean readers can see it. During revisions I have to read, visualizing only what the written words tell me, and then add a hefty amount of description to flesh out the setting and characters.

What do you love most about being an author?

LP: I definitely think that developing characters and writing a storyline that so many people love and appreciate as much as we do is truly the most gratifying feeling. It validates all that we’ve worked so hard for, and it’s truly an indescribable feeling.

LF: When I hear from a reader or read a review that mentions an emotional connection to the world and characters we’ve created, it puts an uncontainable smile on my face. Knowing that my words have made someone laugh, cry, or stay up late to find out what happens, is one of the greatest feeling in the whole world.

Where can we find you on the web?

We can be found on facebook (www.facebook.com/AfterTheEnding), Goodreads (www.goodreads.com/book/show/16075905-after-the-ending), and twitter (@TheEndingSeries).

Website:www.TheEndingSeries.com

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I want to thank Mayra for having me at The Dark Phantom  today as part of Pump Up Your Book’s 5th Anniversary!  Today I’d like to talk about virtual book tours, or blog tours, as a vehicle to sell your book. 

It seems to be the million dollar question and that’s why I chose this topic today to talk about.  I am here to settle this question once and for all and explain just what blog tours can do for your book. 

Most authors when they sign up with us are aware of blog tours.  They’re everywhere.  Some authors are setting up their own tours and some authors who aren’t Internet or promotion savvy come to us.  They are the ones who I feel need blog tours more than anyone else. 

A blog tour is a vehicle really not to sell your book exclusively, but is mainly to sell YOU.  A blog tour will get your book into the eyes of thousands.  Whether they buy or not depends on a few things. 

Is this your first book?  Debut authors have it the hardest.  It’s usually not until the 2nd or 3rd that their career really takes off.  That’s not to say you can’t be a one book wonder, but it just seems the authors with more books under their belt do better. 

Have you already established your author platform before your book comes out?  Most authors who already have an established email list and have been writing articles about their book’s subject are the ones who will see a difference in sales. 

Are you in the social networks to sell your book or are you in there to help or to get help?  People can pick you out in a second if your book is your main reason you are there. 

Selling your book can be infuriating, exhausting and downright crazy but a blog tour can give you focus.  Even though it is a lot of work, building up your presence in the search engines and getting your book into the public’s eye should be your main focus.  If you watch your sales  constantly and there are no sales, you start to wonder what in the heck you are doing wrong and why you went through so much trouble. 

The key here is exposure and whether you think that doesn’t amount to diddly squat as opposed to seeing those book sales, that’s where you’re wrong. 

After my romance anthology, Romancing the Soul, came out, I established myself as a relationship expert.  I had no real credentials other than the fact relationship help was dear to my heart and I felt I was darn good at it.  To this day, I still have people emailing me with their problems.  

I set up a professional website and started building my contact list.  I began writing articles to make my author platform more solid.  They say blog tours are exhausting, that’s nothing compared to the work I put in establishing myself in the search engines for my key search words. 

I gave my advice away for free, too.  Anyone with problems concerning relationships got my answer right away.  Where there were other relationship experts charging for the same thing I was doing, I didn’t want to do that.  I wanted to give freely for I knew this was only strengthening my whole author platform and you can’t put a dollar amount on that.  

I wrote articles until my fingers fell off.  I was interviewed by blog owners plus radio.  But the one thing I did which I felt helped my author platform more than anything else was the key word positioning. It was then that the editor of the supermarket tabloid, OK! Magazine, found me in the search engines, called me up and asked me a few questions about the Jennifer Aniston and whoever-she-was-dating-at-the-time relationship.  Whammo bammo, my quote appeared in that week’s issue and I owe it to building up my author platform and positioning my key search words in the search engines. 

So now we come back to the million dollar question: do blog tours sell books?  If you reread what I just wrote, what I did was very similar to a blog tour.  The only difference was that it wasn’t on a set schedule.  But, to this day, people are still finding out about me.  If I walked away from relationship help, it would follow me wherever I went  because I had positioned my key search words permanently in the search engines.  My old website I was using?  It’s sitting there.  I’m not updating it or anything so these people are finding me somehow and I have every reason to believe they are putting certain search words into the search engines and that’s how they find me. 

With a blog tour, you are building up your author platform, no ifs ands or buts.  People say the only thing that influences readers to buy books are reviews and that the interviews and guest posts aren’t making people buy their book.  After all, it’s supposed to be all about the book, right? 

Yes and no.  If the author continues to write books similar in theme to their first book, it can be all about the book.  If the author is trying to sell a debut book, then I would fully recommend building up that author platform.  They may not get a book sale based on this or they could sell by the truckload.  It just depends on how much time the author invests in their career. 

Back to blog tours again.   If the author is not Internet savvy and if the author does not have a good presence in the  search engines, a blog tour will definitely do the trick.  Will the author’s main goal be to sell books or does the author understand how using blog tours to build up their author platform can sell books down the road or lead them to other great things? 

You can’t go into a blog tour thinking you’re going to sell books by the truckload.  You can go into a blog tour counting on the fact that your book is presented to thousands of prospective readers, buyers, publishers, agents, movie producers, and yes even editors of supermarket tabloids. 

I hope this cleared up any misconceptions you have about blog tours.  If you are an author who has the time and the know how to set up a tour for your own book, that is definitely the way to go.  You save money that way.  

If you are an author who needs help setting up a tour, knows their way around the Internet, is social network savvy and has the contacts with the bloggers that have been carefully screened, then you enlist the help of a blog tour service such as us. 

To celebrate five years of publicizing books online, Pump Up Your Book will be stopping off at wonderful blogs throughout the month of April so that you can hear more of what we do and our viewpoints on Internet promotions and blog tours.  There are prizes along the way so be  sure to check out http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2012/04/01/pump-up-your-book-5th-year-anniversary-celebration/ to find out how you can win.  

Now the good news is that we are giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card here at The Dark Phantom!  Give us the best book promotion tip you can think of and leave it in the comment section.  If you are a book blogger and not an author, tell us the best way you know to get traffic to your site.  You must leave your email address with your comment or there’s no way for us to get in touch with you.  This contest will end on April 27 and the winner will be announced on our tour page (link above) on April 30.  This is an international contest and good luck! 

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