Thursday, 29 December 2011

Words with... Uta Burke



Thanks to Uta Burke for this interview

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living? 

I work for Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey (Admin Assistant). I love my job and co-workers, and there is plenty of time to write at night and on weekends now that my daughter is away in college.

What books have you written so far?

I have written several, but only (self) published two: Immortal Link, a Young Adult paranormal, and my crazy book, which I published under a pseudonym (Susanna Kramer), titled The Wiener Diaries. Now you know why J. I also wrote several short stories and published numerous articles.
---giggling at Wiener!

What works in progress do you have? 

A YA fantasy with cupids, no title yet, but it's a great one, I can feel it in my gut. Also a non-fiction, which presently is a blog. It's a student's college experience from the parents' POV. Once my daughter is done with college, I will collect the 4-5 years into a book titled Is the nest half full or half empty when they come home on the weekend?

How long did it take you to write your book/s? 

Immortal Link only took me four months to write because it basically wrote itself, especially after the spirits of Jim Thorpe, PA, took over. That's when it became a paranormal. The others – from start to polish through beta readers and a professional editor – on average a year. I want it to be perfect, no rush job.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants? 

Jump back and forth. I write scene by scene, like pieces of a puzzle, and then connect them. I use a story board and index cards for that. I am a mix of a plotter and a pantser.
--- me too!

Why do you write? 

I cannot not write, even if it's just a grocery list. It's the most important thing in my life, next to breathing.

How long have you been writing?

I started at age nine, so 37 years.

Where and when do you write? ­ Do you have set times? 

During breaks at work, in the car on a notepad, all weekend long and most evenings. No set times, but every single day.

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like? 

There are two teen boys who recur in all my stories under different names. In Immortal Link, it's Charlie and Louis. I even talk to them in my head.

What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?

The thousands of books I have read in my life maybe, or a special gene that forces me to write. I don't know, it's just something I have to do, like eat and sleep. Or maybe Stephen King.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story? 

Go deep with your emotions, even for boy characters. NYC agent Alexandra Machinist told me I write boy emotion.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life?

Yes, friends of my daughters are always in the books, under different names of course. One I made up, and he is in all my stories as Louis or Ron Riott. I saw a picture of him in a magazine and adopted him immediately for my writings.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song? 

All animals, chocolate, but that's so clich̩; ok, salad. Coffee. Crossing the Bridge with Jason Gedrick. Blue. Pink Floyd. Lots of songs РFuneral and Festival from 127 Hours and Little drummer boy sung by Bob Seger are a few examples.

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…

Angela's Ashes, If I stay, Immortal Link, Jesus's Son, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy :)

Who is your favourite character from any book and why? 

Laura from the Little House series because she had good strong parents, a wonderful family and in the end she prevailed against so many hardships. It shows how important a solid home and good childhood is. Look what she has accomplished!

Who is your hero/heroine? 

All the females in my family, especially my mother. But grandmothers, aunt, sister, they are all unbelievable women.

Which book do you wish you had written? 

The Help.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub? 

Stephen King, Denis Johnson and Jan Karon.


Are you published or self-published? What is your experience? 

I queried too early, meaning I wasn't nowhere near publishable. I joined the Liberty States Fiction Writers and met an author who was regular published and self-published (Kathy Rowe). We just sat down and she showed me how to publish through CreateSpace on Amazon. Then she gave me the contact number of her editor and two months later I held my book in my hands. An incredible experience, just the marketing is a lot of work.

How do you find the marketing experience? Any advice for other writers? 

You have to work at it every single day, making connections via FB, Twitter, conferences and do what I'm doing right now with you. My advice is: keep your brand (you!) clean now that you have an internet presence. You don't want to ruin your potential for a growing readership by posting foul-mouthed comments or too much self-promotion. Keep it clean, professional and offer help. Believe me, everything you do online will catch up with you. What's out is out, so make it count!

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about? 

Yes, several. My website for Immortal Link is also a blog (www.utaburke.com), then yourchildsfirstyearofcollege.blogspot.com and one for my short stories called puzzlepieces on uburke.blogspot.com

What other hobbies do you have? 

Walking, eating, animals and reading.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years? 

To become an established author and have built my internet presence, so when I retire I can hit the ground running and just keep writing.

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh? 

Buy a house in Germany, one in Ireland, and one in NYC, and then commute. And give a heck of a lot to charity and establish scholarships for college students.

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?

What has been the greatest satisfaction of being published? 

To receive fan mail. Immortal Link has been read by a nun, three inmates, on a flight to China, in several states, Germany and Ireland. Or it could be sitting in my filing cabinet with four other manuscripts. Hearing from readers who loved the book, and even though it's Young Adult, I get the most enthusiastic responses from the MOTHERS! It's a wonderful feeling.

Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…

In the deep and darkest reaches of the dank forest… Pa Ingalls said: "Listen, folks. I've decided to move us again. We'll leave tomorrow." Ma looked up from the computer. "Enough, Charles. That might have worked 150 years ago, but times have changed. I am up for promotion, the kids are happy in school, and they just built that new mall. We're staying right where we are." Pa looked around the one-room cabin. "Anyone coming with me?" His daughters kept texting their friends. "Well, then I'll go myself." He loaded the truck and left. Another modern family bit the dust.

Book links:

Immortal Link (by Uta Burke)
The Wiener Diaries (by Susanna Kramer)
Upcoming: Is the nest half full or half empty when they come home on the weekends?






Indie book reviews: Not Magic Enough



 Not Magic Enough by Valerie Douglas

I read this story on the train to work and it brightened my commute. I found myself thinking 'damn' every time I got to my stop because I wanted to know what happened next. I enjoyed the storyline - who wouldn't mind meeting a handsome elf? The plot flows along well, with some dramatic situations, character development, twists and a lot of passion thrown in. The erotic scenes read hot and genuine, and are written with aplomb. Valerie seems to write effortlessly; her style is flowing, descriptive and graphic. She paints pictures. The characterisation is sensitive and the story is atmospheric. She captures everything well with a lightness of touch. It's all in the details. I thought the ending slightly abrupt, but I think that was because I wanted more. Just like the heroine of the story while she waits for her man.
Where to get it:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004RJ44MA/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img 
http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Enough-Coming-Storm-ebook/dp/B004RJ44MA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325185003&sr=8-1




Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Words with... Paul Kater

Before we begin this interview, we have to announce that it has been commandeered by one of Paul Kater's own creations... Hilda the wicked witch... she zoomed in on her broomstick, scowled at me and, well, what could I do? I had to give in or be turned into a frog, so here goes...
 
 
 
What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?

I'm a witch. Hilda the wicked witch, as some call me, but I am just a witch with a mind of her own. You know, like WITCH – Witch In Total Control of Herself. Although my scribe may argue about the control part, but since he's not here...

What books have you written so far?

None, except my book of shadows, but that's just for me. My scribe has been busy making all kinds of notes of the things I had to endure thanks to him, and he prides himself on it too! At this moment there are 7 books of my adventures out on Smashwords.com and also on Amazon.com. If that means anything to you. My scribe would, of course, also tell you about 3 ‘steampunk’ books, whatever that is, but they are not about me, so they are not important.

What works in progress do you have?

Oh, you wouldn't believe! There is one book in the making, which should be available next month, where I and my man, William, have to face yet another dragon. Scribe calls it ‘final editing’, which really means he was sloppy when writing it. And then there is a start with yet another adventure which takes us to a faraway place, to a woman I was in school with. She has a divinity complex, but mum is the word on that for now.

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

My scribe started writing down my adventures halfway 2009, he says. And up until now he wrote the 7 I mentioned. Well, almost 8, I'll grant him that. But it seems he is slacking a bit.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?

What I sit on is none of your business and, since you are a woman too, you should know what it is. Oh, wait, you mean something else. No, my scribe is not the jumpy kind, and that is good. He'd make the cats nervous. He starts at the beginning and stops at the end, and trust me, there are plenty of surprises in store for him between these two places!

Why does your scribe write?

Because he doesn't have a life and I do. He, of course, claims that it is to relieve his creativity, but, honestly, who'd believe that?

How long has your scribe been writing?

He seems to be at that since long. Since high school or so. But that was not serious. That was not about me.

Where and when does he write? ­ Does he have set times?

My scribe is terrible with that. He writes where he can, when he can because, get this:
"I never know when a good idea comes along, and then I have to write it down immediately."

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?

I am most like me, of course. I love myself the way I am, and I also love my wizard. I do believe that my scribe thinks he is a bit like my wizard, but that can't be of course. Scribes have flying pens, not flying brooms.

What/who inspired him to write and still inspires you?

He never told me, and he never mentioned anything like that. I know he's been reading as much as he can all of his life, all kinds of books, and that gave him the idea to give writing a try.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?

Stories like mine! Drag the reader in by the eyeballs and don't let go until they're through with the book. A bit of fun, a bit of serious, and not dragging things out too long. Keep the person reading interested, wanting to see what's around the corner. That could, of course, be a big troll, but there's always a risk.

Have you ever felt your character is based on someone from real life?

Felt like that? No. But my scribe insists that he had his inspiration for me from one of his dearest friends, who lives near Seattle in the United States, in that crazy world of yours. He goes so far as to call her "dear" and "love". He knows her for over 15 years, which gives her an unfair advantage over me.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song?

Animal: cat (I'm a witch).
-- A woman after my own heart!! Vix
Food: anything natural.
Drink: coffee, tea and wine with water in it.
Film: I'll let you know when my scribe explained what that is.
Colour: purple. Is there any other colour?
Band: there was a quaint group of troubadours in the village last month. Do they count?
Song: the wytches' chant of course.

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…

Scribe's turn:
The series from A Song of Ice and Fire
, by George R.R. Martin
The Hilda the Wicked Witch series, by Paul Kater
http://static.ak.fbcdn.net/images/blank.gif
Tshai, the mad planet, by Jack Vance
Soulless, by Gail Carriger
Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?

I'd say my best friend, Baba Yaga. I really cannot understand why my scribe says "Paul Atreides from the Dune series. He arrived on the planet of Arrakis not knowing anything, facing many dangers and enemies, and overcame them all by becoming one of the planet's original inhabitants. It reminds me so much of my favourite movie, Avatar, where a disabled marine, Jake Sully, does the same thing."

Who is your hero / heroine?

Do I really have to answer that? Because I would say William, my wizard, but I have to say my scribe.

Which book do you wish you had written?

One where my scribe has to go through all of the crappedy crap he puts me through.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?

Scribe's turn:
George R.R. Martin, Terry Pratchett and Ursula leGuin.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?

My scribe does it all by himself. And he growls and mutters, and changes and rewrites, and uploads and downloads, and is not happy and does it again until he is happy. I think he likes it.

How do you find the marketing experience? Any advice for other writers?

I think he is still looking for a good way to do that stuff. And for that he hangs around other writers a lot. Instead of spending time with my adventures, I might add.

Does your scribe have a blog? What does he blog about?

Blob? Oh wait, he explained that. He does. He writes about a lot of stuff. Paper books, electronic books, ideas he has about stories and writing, about the publishing world and so on.

What other hobbies does your scribe have?

He goes to the gym and he plays music on a few things, such as piano, accordion, a guitar, a flute and an Irish hand drum. My scribe also likes to read, but most of the time those are books he did not write himself.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

Scribe's turn:
I'd like to write more Hilda books, and also put out some books in other genres that I like to write, like steampunk and Sci-Fi. The next book of Hilda is the first one that will be for sale (the others are free) and I would like to see that I can cut down on my regular job hours from that, so I can dedicate more time to my writing.
---I know the feeling! I second that!


If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?

Scribe's turn:
I would definitely cut down on job hours, and try to make the plan of moving to the Seattle area come true a bit sooner than I envision happening now. Writing would then become my main activity.

Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…

In the deep and darkest reaches of the dank forest... runs a little brook. Its water is crystal clear, and has never been seen by a human eye. Fairies fly around, protecting the area, making certain that this part of the woods is forever safe.

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?

Do your fans love you? And the answer is YES!!

Book links:

Paul's other books can be found here at the side of this page.



Thanks Hilda and thanks to Paul Kater for managing to squeeze the odd sentence in around the crazy woman with the weird pointy thing on her head... 



Monday, 26 December 2011

Indie book reviews: Patchwork Dog and Calico Cat



I previously read Greta’s book, Gerald and the Wee People, and really enjoyed it, so when she asked me to proof her latest book, which was for children, I didn’t have to be asked twice. This book is written for early readers aged between 5 and 8. I don’t have children myself, so I can’t comment on how a child would react to them. I can say that I really like the book. The language is easy and flows well. The paragraphs are small and the storyline is easy to follow. It is deceptively simple though in that there are some ideas for children to think about. It's also funny and sweet, and the tales are interesting. Basically, Patchy is an all-out lover of fun and adventure, but his enthusiasm and overconfidence can lead to hiccups! Literally in some cases! Meanwhile, Calico is a bit more reserved and sensible, often trailing along behind Patchy, hoping to keep him out of trouble out of pure friendship. I love the way that the stories begin with the dog wanting to fly and end with him... I won’t give it away! The relationship between the animals is cute and reads believably, so it works. I really like the pictures and the one with the dog trying to fly made me chuckle. I think it’s good to include drawings in a book for kids. They suit the story because they are cute, fun and quirky. My favourite stories are Can dogs fly?, Wishes come true and Dogs can fly. I think the inclusion of questions at the end of each chapter is a brilliant idea – a way for children to look back over the story and think about it, and remember what happened. There are some lessons to be learnt, told through the two furry characters, and thoughts on friendship. I love the following quote from the first story, which sums up the book for me - "He learned a valuable lesson that day. Be happy with who you are and leave the flying to those who know how to do it." A lovely book for early readers.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Kiwi purrs forth with InknBeans Press



Today is Christmas Eve, so first off let me say a big Happy Christmas to everyone and good wishes for a fabulous New Year. I also hope that 2012 brings you health, happiness and the sort of riches you need!

Looking back, 2011 has been a crazy year. It has been a year of ups and downs, like any. But, for me, it has been my best writing year so far. This year, I took a book that I wrote in 2002, edited it, and self-published it on Amazon and Smashwords. That book was Kiwi in Cat City. I also published a book of poetry, written since I was a teenager. Kiwi was followed this year by Kiwi and the missing Magic and Kiwi and the Living Nightmare. Then in November I took up the NaNoWrimo challenge and surprised my normally lazy ass by actually finishing it. All in all, I have never written so much in one year. Ever. And I've enjoyed it so much.

This year I have met some brilliant people through the writer/reader groups Book Junkies on Facebook and the Indie Author Group. Recently, I have joined some other groups too, but these two are the ones that I've been popping in and out of since the start of this year. They've been a great help and good fun. I'm not sure if I would have written so much this year if it hadn't been for the help, inspiration, brilliance, fun and comradeship in these groups. So many people... Annarita Guarnieri, Sue Palmer, Stephen Hise, Kristina Jackson, Nicole Storey, Donna Brown, Valerie Douglas, Cathy Speight, Kai Wilson, Alex Canton, Helmy Parlente Kusuma, Grace Guerra, Kim Wistfulskimmie ... the list goes on and on, and with my memory it's impossible to remember everyone. Book Junkies is a bit like Cheers without the draught, stale nuts, smelly toilets (I imagine) and flirty barman. Yep everyone in there knows your name and as soon as you stumble in you'll find a greeting, a wisecrack and lots more.

If I hadn't been a member of Book Junkies I also would not have come across US publisher InknBeans Press. I was lucky enough to be offered a contract with them to publish my books. To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement, but the only word that fits, along with yay! So now I'm a happy Beanie! I join talented writers such as Kitty Sutton, Annarita Guarnieri, Kristina Jackson, Susan Bennett and Nicole Storey. I would like to thank the amazing Jo, Boss Bean, for her help, inspiration and patience.

I'm thrilled to announce that on Monday, Kiwi in Cat City will be republished by InknBeans, complete with a new cover and some amazing illustrations by the talented Nikki McBroom. The book will also be available in colourful paperback for the first time. Kiwi readers will be getting an improved product, which I hope they will enjoy. I'm hoping to bring you Kiwi 4 early in the new year.

All that remains for me to say is to wish you happy holidays - don't eat and drink too much... oooh go on then... and happy reading and writing in 2012. Good luck, Vickie












Friday, 23 December 2011

Words with... Nicole Storey


Thanks to Nicole Storey for this interview

BOOK GIVEAWAY
Nicole is kindly giving away signed copies of an ebook and paperback version of her novel, Grimsley Hollow, to two lucky readers. All you have to do is comment why you think you should win it. The winner will get the format of their choice, with the runner-up receiving the other...good luck!
 

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?
My official job is a superhero! I am known by the name of MOM! LOL!

What books have you written so far?
My only book right now is the first in the Grimsley Hollow series: Grimsley Hollow - The Chosen One.
What works in progress do you have?
Currently, I am working on the second book in the series: Grimsley Hollow - The Search for Siren.
How long did it take you to write your book/s?

My first book took about 8 months, but the second is going to run longer due to some health issues in the family, which have set me back a few months.
Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?
I write linear, but I am learning that I don’t really write my books; they write themselves. I’m just along for the ride!

Why do you write?
At first, writing was just a form of stress relief for me. It was a way of escaping and having some time for myself. Now, I write because, more than anything, I want to be able to share my love of books with others. As a child, reading a book equalled going on a magic adventure to some wondrous place. I like to be able to give that gift to other children. I still open closet doors and expect to find myself in Narnia!
How long have you been writing?
I have written stories since I was a teenager, but I have only gotten serious about it this past year.
Where and when do you write? Do you have set times?
I like to write at night. Night-time is magical! My imagination soars when I can look out of my study window and see a bright, mysterious moon looking down at me.
Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?
I can’t really pick a favourite and I can relate to all of them in some way or another. My book centres around my favourite holiday, Halloween, and all that it represents. I guess if I had to pick a character that was most like me, it would have to be the pixy, Puck. He’s sarcastic and witty, and he hides a big heart.
What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?
My children, and children in general, inspire me to write. I would love for every child to read my story and hopefully learn a few lessons from it.
What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?
Interesting plot and believable characters. It doesn’t matter if you write fantasy fiction, the story has to be one that makes the reader think (or hope) that it really could happen. The characters have to be ones that the reader can relate to in some way.
Have you ever based a character on someone from real life?
The main character in my story is based on my autistic son and my daughter is also in the book.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song?


My favourite animals are owls, cats and wolves.
My favourite drinks are sweet tea and coffee (LOTS of coffee!)!
As for colours, I like earth tones, especially fall-like colours.
I don’t really have a favourite band as I listen to all types of music.
My favourite foods are too many to name! LOL!
You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…
I can only give five! No fair!!! LOL!
Nancy Lee Parish’s Amulet
TW Brown’s 'Dead' series
Kim Harrison’s 'Hollow' series
Suzanne Collins’ 'Hunger Games' series
Jared Southwick’s 'Marysvale' series.
Who is your favourite character from any book and why?
I think that Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird has to be my all-time favourite character. He reminds me a lot of my father – a hard-working man who tries to instil good values in his children and teach them right from wrong.
Who is your hero / heroine?
My heroes are my father and my son; my father for what he taught me as a child and my son for what he teaches me now.
Which book do you wish you had written?
CS Lewis’s Narnia books! They were my favourites as a child and I still love them!
Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?
TW Brown, Nancy Lee Parrish and Vickie Johnstone! We’d all have a crazy-fun time! LOL!
-- hee hee, thanks! If I’m ever in the US, I’m buying you a pint!

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?
I just signed with Inknbeans Press (www.inknbeans.com)! Before that I was self-published. I did okay in self-publishing, but I felt like I had taken it as far as I could on my own. I am so blessed to be signed with such a wonderful publishing company now!
How do you find the marketing experience? Any advice for other writers?
I find that it is easy to market and easy to write, but not at the same time! I was so busy trying to push my first book that I didn’t have time for writing the second one. My advice would be to maybe spend an allotted amount of time on marketing each week and try not to go over that.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?
I do have a blog - nicolestorey.wordpress.com ! I blog about my adventures in writing and I also do book reviews.
What other hobbies do you have?
I love to read, garden, cook and plan my dream home that I’d like to own one day! Right now, I am stuck on where to put the horse stables!

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
I would like to at least be able to complete two books a year and make enough money to help pay some bills!

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?
Not sure what ‘dosh’ is, but if it is the same thing as money I would put some back for my kids’ college education and buy some land for a house. The rest I would give to my parents and my in-laws because they deserve it more than I do.

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?
What do you hope children learn from reading your book?
I hope they learn that special-needs children are no different than they are, and that all they want is to be included and have friends.

Twitter: @Nicole_Storey
My books can be found in ebook form and paperback at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Apple, etc.



Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Words with... Mary Campagna Findley



Thanks to Mary Campagna Findley for this interview and book giveaway

BOOK GIVEAWAY…

A free copy of Benny and the Bank Robber goes to the first lucky reader to post a comment!

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?
I ride with my husband in his semi full-time, and between load searches and trip paperwork, I do the writing, editing, researching, cover designing and uploading thing. :-)

What books have you written so far?
We have 12 titles – 2 non-fiction, 3 adult historical romance, 3 youth/young/adult historical adventure, and one Sci-Fi. That includes 2 illustrated versions, one series and one teacher-student set of curriculum. The titles are: Antidisestablishmentarianism (with Illustrated version), Biblical Studies (teacher and student editions), Send a White Rose, The Baron of Larcondale, Vienta, Benny and the Bank Robber, BBR2: Doctor Dad, Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion (with ‘illuminated’ version in the style of a medieval manuscript), and The Space Empire Saga.

What works in progress do you have?
A steampunk fantasy/Sci-Fi mystery with my favourite literary characters, a non-fiction work so far called The Conflict of the Ages, a fantasy/allegory about persecution and the spreading of the Word of God, and a sequel to the Baron of Larcondale.

How long did it take you to write your book/s?
They have been in the works, mostly, for over 20 years. Editing, finalising, cover design and uploads and correction about 2 years.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?
I jump back and forth. I read too many epic sagas, which start in the middle of things. After I'm into a book a ways I realise I've left out stuff the reader needs to know and have to go back.
- that’s just like me!

Why do you write?
I have to. Stories bursting out in every direction, with the purpose of communicating God's truth in ways that don't scare people away as much as face-to face teaching can.

How long have you been writing?
Since kindergarten or thereabouts; first in drawing pictures with stories behind them, then writing the stories out.

Where and when do you write? ­ Do you have set times?
Used to be early morning or late night. Now squeezed in here and there.

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?
I like Hamilton Jessup from Vienta the most, I think, but I don't really write about myself in my characters. I want to be determined and busy, and helpful like they are.

What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?
My husband made it possible for me to really write when he bought our first computer, a Coleco Adam. I stink at typing, and word processors are a gift from him and God. And my husband still inspires me with his never-say-die determination to do right and get stuff done.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?
I start with characters who won't let go of me, and stick with who they are and what happens to them. I don't have a lot of description or ‘setting a scene’. Detailed description bores me in other books, so I leave it out of mine. I like mysteries of the Columbo type, not so much ‘whodunnit’ but ‘how we gonna catch 'em and put 'em away for it?’.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life?
My husband, the guy who never quits and never compromises, no matter what it costs.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? film? colour? band? song?
Animal: hunting dogs or snow leopards.
Food: pork chops.
Drink: lemonade.
Film: One Night With the King.
Colour: emerald green (my birthstone).
Band: Ummm... does the Canadian Brass count as a band?
Song: How Great Thou Art for church, You Fill Up My Senses (John Denver) otherwise.

You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
Antidisestablishmentarianism by Michael and Mary Findley
Vienta by Mary C. Findley
Holy Bible, New American Standard Version

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?
Sidney Carton from Tale of Two Cities. He didn't start out so good, but boy did he end well. 

Who is your hero / heroine?
In my books, Hamilton Jessup (see above) and Mayra from the Baron of Larcondale.

Which book do you wish you had written?
Tale of Two Cities.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?
Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. 

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?
Self-published all the way. Made the rounds of traditional for a number of years, got a little good advice and no nibbles; went with Amazon and Smashwords. We get to write what we want, we have the skills and background to make them clean and sharp, and we ARE publishers.

How do you find the marketing experience? Any advice for other writers?
Still working on marketing. So much to learn. Find super friends like those on Indie Writers Unite and learn all you can from their tips, plus bless them for their help and support.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?
‘Elk Jerky for the Soul’ is about our books, tough stuff in the Word of God, issues, e-reader technology and tips for getting books out, everything we believe is important.
http://elkjerkyforthesou.wordpress.com

What other hobbies do you have?
Reading, handicrafts, collecting swords and knives, drawing.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
Achieve some knowledge and success in marketing our works, and add to them. 

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh?
I would love to see our books in print, but winning cash would be better than a publishing contract because I still don't like people telling me what to say and how to say it. I would use the money for print books and marketing, and help some worthy causes like our daughter with her school bills and people persecuted for the cause of Christ. 

Complete this story in 100 words or less…

There was once a wee worm called Fred…
Who hadn't an eye in his head
He still could move earth
And stave off a dearth
By enriching the soil to grow bread
(rrgghh. You asked for it. :-))


What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?
"Do you have anything special for the Christmas Season?"
Benny and the Bank Robber 2: Doctor Dad is second in a Youth/YA historical adventure series. It includes a Christmas ending about the cost of trying to convince family and friends that Jesus came to Earth with nothing to be the Prince of Peace.
http://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com, our blog, has our books linked down the right side to the Amazon and Smashwords sites. 




Tuesday, 20 December 2011

How... not... to do radio ?!

Yesterday I did my first radio interview for the BBCN Christmas Special on Blog Radio with Donna Brown, who invited some of the authors involved in her Adopt an Indie promotion for a chat. To say it was scary is an understatement. I was hiding in my knickers! It took me back to being a school kid, standing up in class and speaking for some exam, shaking at my knees and squeaking! Perhaps it's not the best idea to make your first attempt at 1.45am on a school night when you have a cold, but when the opportunity arises it's good to take it. Not wanting to let anyone down, you go ahead, despite any worries.  
So, what did I learn?


What not to do (which I did)

- I didn't test out using Skype or the microphone enough. Like how do you hold that thing so that people can actually hear you, but so that you don't sound like some heavy breathing weirdo or someone whispering? So, rule number 1, I'd recommend testing it, just in case, a while before the interview. Obvious, I know.
- I sat prepared and waiting, and listening for 40 minutes, and then rang in to the radio show 4 mins before my slot, as instructed, only to find that I'd forgotten to log into the actual radio station! Doh! Big doh! Rule number 2 - log into the radio show right from the start. Saves on panicking later. Because panic I did, going blank on my user name and password. Rule number 3 - write them down where you can see them, just in case! Cue a lot of flouncing! :)
- I turned off the radio speakers, hit '1' on the pad to speak and then blurted out 'hello' into the empty radio air. Rule number 3 - don't turn off the radio speakers yet. Wait til the interviewer introduces you before you say anything. Otherwise you not only panic yourself, but could knock the interviewer off balance, interrupt them and sound incredibly foolish. I imagine... if I heard myself! If the radio had been on! Wait, be greeted, say hello and then turn it off.
- Number 4 - stay calm. I didn't. It was like I was standing naked in the middle of a footie match. Yikes. No-one needs that view. Especially in the winter when it's cold.
- Try not to speak too fast, interrupt, talk over the interviewer or panic. Calm is the way to go. Just imagine you're not on radio, but talking to a friend on the phone.

What I learnt... 

- I leant how to use Skype for the first time. And wow it's brilliant!
- From chatting to some of the guys in Book Junkies after the show, I discovered that this kind of thing scares most people! So, phew, I'm not totally weird then...
- How other people manage to chat with ease, put forward good points, breathe clearly, speak slowly and seem really at ease... I'm wondering if they've done it before? Or if they were just as nervous and thinking they sounded terrible!
- Have a handy checklist with you! 

Next time I'm thinking to write down some handy notes to jog my memory on the following things ....
- My user names and passwords - in case of chronic blankness!!
- Practice answering questions - think of simple words to jog the memory.
- Have something to say when someone says you've had good reviews - don't just say yes it's cool - maybe mention how you got those reviews, something you particularly liked about them, how it inspired you, etc, or reviews you've done for others.
- Something to say about your books - if you write poetry, what would you say about that? It's harder to comment on than summarising a story in a novel. How would you make that sound interesting and something a listener would want to look up? I was caught short with that question.
- Notes on your book, main characters, when you wrote it, etc
- A list of people/groups you'd like to acknowledge for being helpful or supportive, or good for listeners to look up.
- Remember to thank people - for example, the hard work of the interviewer or just for inviting you on.
- What inspired you to write your book.
- Marketing tips for listeners... where, how and why.
- Tips for using twitter, FB, blogs and places like Goodreads, Kindleboards etc.

Also... 
- And try not to say uhm... I said this a zillion times!
- Don't rush. Speak in short sentences. Take breaths. Have a glass of water nearby.
- Smile! For some reason it helps!!!
- Be passionate about your subject. 

And have fun :)))


If you haven't heard of it, you can find out about Adopt an Indie - a way for readers and indie authors to come together - at http://adoptanindie.com. The last promotion ran in November and was really successful.There's still time to get involved in February's one...go on, take a look!

Details and links for all of the authors involved last night can be found at bookbagsandcatnaps.com.
Find out about Katrina Byrd, Justin Dennis, Todd R. Tystad, Lynne Cantwell, William G. Jones, Cynthia Hill, Carlyle Clark and Karin Rita Gastreich.

Lots of luck with your next...uuuhmmm... radio interview :)