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Interview with Michael Bigham, Author of ‘Harkness’

Michael Bigham photo

Raised in the Central Oregon mill town of Prineville beneath deep blue skies and rim rock, 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 in Creative Writing from Vermont College. Michael lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, his daughter and a spunky Bichon Frise named Pumpkin. Harkness is Michael’s first novel. You can find him online at www.michaelbigham.com and http://blueparrot.blogspot.com/. His Twitter feed is @wassir.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Michael. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

A: Harkness is my first novel, but I have had two short stories published: “American Clipper” in the anthology Coming Home and “Siren” in the anthology Aftermath.

Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

A: My first book was called Springtime in Tunisia written 20 years ago. It was a spy parody, very rough, very much a first novel. I took it to a writer’s workshop with Jack Cady in Cannon Beach, Oregon. He said it was very funny and that I wouldn’t have any problem getting it published, but he also told me not to publish under my own name, to reserve that for my “serious work.” It sits patiently in a trunk in my basement waiting for me to return to it.

Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

At least fifty rejection slips are in my desk. Shopping around a novel isn’t for people with fragile egos.

Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

A: Yeah, so my ego is a little fragile. No one ever trashed my prose, but it is a difficult process, especially the form rejections that I got. I relied on the positive comments I got from other agents and editors to bolster my spirits.

Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

A: The publishing business is in a state of flux. Traditional publishers are in trouble, so it was time to try something different. A couple of writer friends and myself decided to start up a small publishing house, Muskrat Press. We’re going to publish our stuff first with an eye toward publishing other writers somewhere down the line.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

A: It felt great. I immediately sent copies to friends and family and set to work on promotion and the next novel.

Q: What was the first thing you did for promotion when you were published for the first time?

A: I’m still trying to figure out the promotion thing. The first thing I did was to announce my book on Facebook. Social media is great for self-promotion.

Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

A: I’m happy with this option, but for the next novel I’m going to have a self-promotion plan in place before publication. I’ve discovered that you need to make the publication of your book an event. That’s something I didn’t do and now I have to backtrack.

Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown asHarkness cover an author?

A: Harkness was published a couple of months ago, and I don’t have my next book finished yet. I hope I’ve grown as a writer. I have more confidence in my prose and in developing my characters. My main challenge right now is to plot before I write rather than winging it.

Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

A: There was a period when I stopped writing seriously. I had received some harsh criticism in a writing workshop and it shut me down for a couple of years. As a writer, you need to write constantly rather than suffer through long dry periods.

Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

A: I had a very successful reading in Portland a couple of months ago. Many of my friends and family were there, and I felt very proud of my book.

Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

A: Tough question. I was a cop for 27 years. It was one of those love/hate things. Sometimes I loved my job, but at other times I didn’t. I seriously thought about going back to school for a degree in social work or psychology. Those interests reflect in the depth of my characters.

Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

A: I’m exactly where I want to be. After leaving police work, I got a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Vermont College. It’s the best move I could have made, and I’m content with my decision.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

A: Hopefully, I’ll have two series of mystery novels out in the world. I have an idea for a second series that will also take place in Eastern Oregon.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

A: Keep plugging away and remember that the publishing business is being turned upside down. The traditional path of getting an agent and shopping your novel to the big publishing houses isn’t the only path to your success as an author.

Book Blast for Lakesha Monqiue Ruise’s Thy Kingdom Come + Win $25 VISA Gift Card

After petitioning the Father for answers to basic theological questions about the universal church, she took an eight-year journey with the Holy Spirit to provide clarity for herself about His vision.

Thy Kingdom Come provides readers with that clarity.

For anyone wondering what has happened to the Church, for anyone whose faith in God has been diminished, for anyone whose life has been destroyed by the yolks of bondage, Ruise offers new answers. She encourages her readers to follow along in the Bible itself to see how each of her lessons is validated by the Word of God.

“We perish because we don’t know how to survive,” writes Ruise. Thy Kingdom Come offers not only an apt diagnosis of the problem, but equips readers with the cure, as well. It is an excellent source book for Biblical history and spiritual revelation and it prompts valuable internalizing and soul-searching for veteran Christians as well as for new converts.

Link to book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1432787683/

Link to book at B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thy-kingdom-come-lakesha-monique-ruise/1114171729

Lady Ruise is a native of Thomasville Georgia. She is the First Lady of Emmanuel Church of God in Christ in Macclenny Florida. She medically retired from the U S Navy in 2007. Since her retirement, she obtained a degree in respiratory therapy and works as a Registered Respiratory Care Practitioner. She has a strong Christian background. She dedicated her life to the Lord at the age of 9 and became a minister at the age of 14. She has been licensed through the Holiness Church and the Baptist church as a minister for the past 24 years. She has been mentored by countless Pastors and Elders in the COGIC, Holiness Church, and the Baptist Church. She currently labors in ministry with her husband Pastor Joe Nathan Ruise as a praise team leader. She is also the president and founder of the Baker County Circle of Sisters in Macclenny, Fl. Lakesha Ruise is a prayer-warrior and intercessor, who is holy-ghost filled with an assignment from Jesus Christ to build his church!

Website Address: www.theerrorproofchurch.com

Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/ThyCome

Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/#!/lakesha.ruise.5

Pump Up Your Book and Lakesha Monique Ruise are teaming up to give you a chance to win some fabulous prizes!

Here’s how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. This promotion will run from March 8 – Apr 8. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on April 12, 2013. Each blogger who participates is eligible to enter and win. Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If the Rafflecopter form doesn’t load, please visit the THY KINGDOM COME TOUR PAGE to enter the giveaway:

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2013/02/24/pump-up-your-book-presents-lakesha-monique-ruises-thy-kingdom-come-book-blast-win-25-visa-gift-card/

Thy Kingdom Come Book Blast Schedule

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Friday March 8th
Monday, March 11th
Tuesday, March 12th
Wednesday, March 13th
Thursday, March 14th
Friday, March 15th
Monday, March 18th
Tuesday, March 19th
Wednesday, March 20th
Thursday, March 21st
Friday, March 22nd
Monday, March 25th
Tuesday, March 26th
Wednesday, March 27th
Thursday, March 28th
Friday, March 29th – OPEN
Monday, April 1st
Tuesday, April 2nd – OPEN
Wednesday, April 3rd
Thursday, April 4th
Friday, April 5th – OPEN
Monday, April 8th

January Justice by Athol Dickson Book Blast & $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Reeling from his wife’s unsolved murder, Malcolm Cutter is just going through the motions as a chauffeur and bodyguard for Hollywood’s rich and famous. Then a pair of Guatemalan tough guys offer him a job. It’s an open question whether they’re patriotic revolutionaries or vicious terrorists. Either way, Cutter doesn’t much care until he gets a bomb through his window, a gangland beating on the streets of L.A., and three bullets in the chest. Now there’s another murder on Cutter’s Mind. His own.

Link to purchase: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AGAW6EC

Athol Dickson’s mystery, suspense, and literary novels have won three Christy Awards and an Audie Award. Suspense fans who enjoyed Athol’s They Shall See God will love his latest novel, January Justice, the first installment in a new mystery series called The Malcolm Cutter Memoirs. The second and third novels in the series, Free Fall in February, and A March Murder, are coming in 2013.

Critics have favorably compared Athol’s work to such diverse authors as Octavia Butler (Publisher’s Weekly), Hermann Hesse (The New York Journal of Books) and Flannery O’Connor (The New York Times). Athol lives with his wife in southern California.

Website: http://www.malcolmcutter.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AtholDickson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Athol-Dickson/416622918355206

Pump Up Your Book and Athol Dickson are teaming up to give you a chance to win a fabulous prize!

Here’s how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. This promotion will run from March 18 – Mar 22. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email, and announced on March 25, 2013. Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If the Rafflecopter form doesn’t load, please visit the JANUARY JUSTICE TOUR PAGE to enter the giveaway: http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2013/02/27/pump-up-your-book-presents-athol-dicksons-january-justice-book-blast-%E2%80%93-win-25-amazon-gift-card/

JANUARY JUSTICE BOOK BLAST SCHEDULE
Monday, March 18th
Tuesday, March 19th
Wednesday, March 20th
Thursday, March 21st
Friday, March 22nd

PUYB Blog Tour: The Sexiest Drink on Earth by Mark Spivak

The Sexiest Drink on Earth

By Mark Spivak

How did a something that tastes like castor oil flavored with tree bark become the sexiest drink on earth?

Iconic SpiritsGaspare Campari invented his famous potion in 1860 by infusing sixty herbs, spices, barks and fruit peels in a mixture of alcohol and distilled water. It became a sensation, and Campari turned into an entrepreneur. There’s only one problem: Campari is bitter, and human beings have taste receptors for bitterness that function as an early warning system, alerting us that we are about to consume something that might be toxic or poisonous.

Imagine the dilemma for your brain as you take a sip of cold, refreshing Campari and soda. Part of your mind is saying, “Don’t drink this—it might kill you!” In another sector of your cranium, though, the drink is perceived to be sophisticated and desirable. Given that more than 27 million bottles of Campari are sold each year, the brain has obviously found a way to disregard the potential dangers of bitterness. In researching my book, Iconic spirits: An Intoxicating History, I spoke to scientists doing research on the physiology of taste, and they all had a theory on how this conflict was resolved.

More importantly, though, how did Campari come to be regarded as the sexiest drink on earth?

The shimmering red potion may be infused with dozens of herbs and spices, but the advertising images have always contained a strong dose of forbidden fruit. In its marketing materials, the company describes Campari as a “symbol of passion” and goes on to say that this passion “expresses itself in terms of seduction, seduction and transgression…”

The famous 1920 poster by Marcello Dudovich is a good example. Two lovers are locked in an embrace that can only be described as smoldering, balanced precariously on the edge of a sofa and enhanced by a background of soft crimson light. Two glasses, one half-filled with Campari, sit on a nearby table. The woman’s hand rests on the man’s cheek in a classic gesture, pushing him away and embracing him at the same time.

In 1998 Campari began working with the celebrated Indian director Tarsem, who created the series of “Red Passion” ads. The campaign was the first in Italy to present female homosexuality in a straightforward yet compelling way; from there it went on to target other social norms. In a 2005 commercial, a man stands at the bar during a reception when he spots a tall, beautiful woman on the other side of the room. They exchange looks. The man obtains a Campari on the rocks from the bartender and follows the woman to a secludedpart of the building. His hand slips as he approaches her, and hesplashes Campari on her dress and cleavage. Slowly and tantalizingly, the woman removes her top and reveals herself to be a man. The man then takes off his shirt to display his bra and the fact that he’s actually a woman. The ad blends mystery and intrigue, explores repressed desires, and blurs the lines of gender identity—all in sixty seconds.

So relax and enjoy a cocktail made with Campari, whether it’s a Negroni, Americano, Garibaldi (Campari and orange juice) or a classic Campari and soda—but make sure that someone you care about is there to enjoy it with you.

Mark Spivak smMark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the restaurant critic for Palm Beach Illustrated. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Ritz-Carlton, Continental, Art & Antiques, Newsmax, Dream of Italy and Arizona Highways. From 1999-2011 he hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

Mark began writing Iconic Spirits after becoming fascinated with the untold stories behind the world’s greatest liquors. As a writer, he’s always searching for the unknown details that make his subjects compelling and unique.His latest book is Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History.

Visit Mark’s website at http://www.iconicspirits.net.

Become a fan of Mark Spivak at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mark.spivak.3

Pick up your copy of Iconic Spirits at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Iconic-Spirits-Intoxicating-Mark-Spivak/dp/0762779268/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344434224&sr=1-1&keywords=iconic+spirits

Character Interview: Dev Haskell from Mike Faricy’s crime fiction ‘Bombshell’

We’re thrilled to have here today Dev Haskell from Mike Faricy’s new crime fiction novel, Bombshell.  Dev is a thirty-something Private Investigator living in St. Paul, Minnesota.
It is a pleasure to have Dev with us today at Beyond the Books!
Thank you so much for this interview, Dev.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

First off, thank you for having me, it’s a real pleasure. Yes, I guess I was fairly portrayed, more or less, I mean it is what happened. I would like to set the record straight on a couple of matters. On those assault charges, everything was dropped so technically that’s no longer an issue. Of course I shouldn’t be blamed for the night my date Heidi Bauer was deliberately over served I mean it really wasn’t my fault. After all she’s an adult. What? Oh yeah, sorry, didn’t mean to cut you off, but I know the way Faricy wrote the book I sort of goof things up and a woman saves the day, okay not just one woman, Heidi in one part. Yeah, I suppose Linh Trang in another and maybe Justine saves the day, too, now that I think about it. Come to think about it, they all did their bit, but I was the guy hired to protect that team of English roller derby girls. I know things didn’t quite work out that way, maybe a few surprises, but I’m only human. You know just maybe I’m not the screw up Faricy made me out to be. Ask any of those women, I can be fun, I like to party, we can go out and I’ll get up the next morning and go get caramel rolls for breakfast. I’m sensitive and caring… sort of, I think.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Did he do a good job? Yeah, sure, what’s not to like about me. Although now that you mention it, I’m not so sure I liked the part where Linh looked at my outfit, my favorite golf shirt with the Jameson logo by the way and Faricy writes ‘Linh made a mental note.’ Come on I was dressed for comfortable, besides I know he really wants a golf shirt just like that. Then that part where Heidi asks me, ‘Is that what you’re wearing?’ I suppose Mr. Dull the author would have preferred me in a suit and tie. I’m not so sure he had to go into my failings, the scene where I’m hauled up on assault charges by that rent-a-cop at the Veterans Auditorium; did he have to make that public? I was thinking maybe I could have just lined the suspects up and picked the one who was twitching, then again I suppose that would have made a pretty short story. I’ve been lobbying to get a new car, maybe a Jaguar or a Mercedes 640, he didn’t seem too hot on that idea. I guess the good news is he gave me a couple of dates with some very nice ladies and well you’ll just have to read to find out the rest.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Tough to say I have so many, the way things seem to go it would have to be my sense of humor. Faricy and I talked about this over a couple of beers down at The Spot bar. He’s not that bad if you get him one on one. I told him I could see myself as a sort of a muscular Special Forces type, speak six or seven languages a Jason Bourne sort of guy and of course sensitive and caring, the ladies like that. He said he wanted someone believable, maybe a little earthy. He gets into all that realistic stuff with flawed characters and believable individuals. Hey look, I just want to have some fun. I took that Bombshell gig because I figured how tough could it be doing security for a bunch of girls from England in town for two days? I might have misjudged things a little… Okay, okay, a lot. My strongest trait seems to be at heart I’m a pretty nice guy. I make some mistakes, I guess we all do. But I would never intentionally hurt someone. I’ve seen enough bad in life not to do that intentionally. Unless the guys a real jerk, hopefully then I’d just have the good sense to walk away.

Worse trait?

Me? Gee that’s really tough. I guess sometimes I tip too much. Oh yeah, I have a tendency to misjudge and maybe jump to the wrong conclusion on the very rare occasion. Well yeah, I guess I occasionally put the beer goggles on, you know thinking someone is just right for me and well, maybe we shouldn’t go there just now.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Can’t say myself? Too bad, I’d be almost perfect. Maybe Matt Damon, of course we’re back to Jason Bourne and I already mentioned Faricy won’t listen to reason. Matthew McConaughey or Ben Affleck, maybe, but maybe not. Arnold’s getting way up there and I don’t have a German accent so he’s out. Bieber’s way too young and I don’t really have Bieber fever anyway. If you could somehow mix Jeremy Renner with Daniel Craig, give the guy dark hair like me, of course my usual charm, maybe John Travolta’s dance moves that would probably do it.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

In Bombshell? I think I have a love interest in just about every chapter. Let’s see; Carol, Justine, Heidi, not Fiona, Heidi again, Linh of course. I like the ladies but, well, I think they’re looking for a little more than I’m able to give just now. I’ve known a lot of really great girls, I don’t know, they always seem to throw up there hands and eventually change their phone number or block my calls. I hear this ‘Don’t ever call me again, ever!’ stuff. Heidi put’s up with me, and Sunny Einer too, although I’ve never been romantic with Sunny.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Maybe page two, things start to not go my way right then and there. Of course I meet Justine on page one and that works pretty well, for a while any way. I still get goose bumps thinking about the interrogation at the Veteran’s Auditorium. It’s hard not to shudder remembering the SWAT team incident. Things weren’t really working our way when I was trying to get Heidi back safe and sound. Of course the whole scene in the hotel room, I don’t know, why does Faricy continue to do these things to me? You ask me, I think the guy has a lot of issues for an author. I suggest picking up a copy of Bombshell and see for yourself if you don’t agree with me.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Not even a contest, the city’s crabbiest police detective, Norris Manning. The guy is bald, perpetually mad at someone, usually me. He’s over worked, stressed out, probably under paid and hates me. You know how many times I’ve bought that guy coffee? He never offers to pay. Ever see him chew that gum? The guy is nuts. Things never seem to be good enough for him and he’s always trying to play things straight by the book. Come on, stray a little bit, bend the rules, have some fun, man. Course he won’t. But at the end of the day, he’s not that bad a guy, like I said over worked, under paid. No, I wouldn’t want to be Detective Norris Manning.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Bombshell’s ending is fantastic. Let’s just say it’s sort of like a second ending, out of no where, a real surprise. Things seem to be all wrapped up, but there’s still some pages left, no it’s not a cross word puzzle back there. See, I meet this cute little police woman, Linh Trang and, oh yeah sorry, don’t give it away. Let me just say Faricy did a pretty decent job with the whole deal, and no one got hurt, especially me. Of course Detective Norris Manning gets mad, surprise, surprise.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

If he decided? He’s already writing it. The title is Tutti Frutti, due out toward the end of 2012. Yeah I know, I can’t figure out where he came up with the title either, but he won’t listen. Well, actually I do know, but if I told you I’d have to kill you, just kidding. Words of wisdom, let’s see I’d tell him to give me a sports car, plenty of money in the bank, maybe a helicopter, but then, that’s not how life really works is it? And one thing about Mike Faricy’s books, they’re closer to the truth then maybe you or I really want to know.

Thank you for this interview, Dev. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

You bet you will. You can check out my face book page for starters, while you’re there give me a like, please. Of course I’m down at the Spot Bar most nights for at least one. Oh and check me out in Mike Faricy’s other books, I’m in at least four. Like I said, his next book with me is Tutti Frutti, I know, I know, I already tried, but he won’t change his mind on the title. Anyway, it’s due out before the first of the year. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Bombshell and then tell two to three hundred of your closest friends what a great read it is.

Hey, thanks for the time, I really enjoyed the interview. You know, I hope I’m not being too forward, but I’m finding you very interesting. I can do a pretty mean steak and I happen to have two marinating at home as we speak. Do you like Cosmopolitan’s?

Mike-FaricyMike Faricy is the award winning author of mystery suspense thrillers woven together with a rich strain of humor and even some romance. He and his wife live in Saint Paul, Minnesota and Dublin, Ireland.

His entertaining tales are populated with the sort of quirky, oddball characters we’d all like to know more about, but wisely prefer to keep at a distance. They serve not so much as examples as they do warnings to the rest of us. None of his characters will be saving the world from terrorism, international banking conspiracies or coups to topple the government. Rather, they’re individuals inhabiting a world just below the surface of polite society. The difficulties they find themselves in are usually due to their own bad decisions, but then, bad decisions make for interesting tales.

All of his books are stand alone, read them in any order you wish. Russian Roulette introduces the bizarrely devilish Devlin Haskell as a PI with a foot on both sides of the law. Dev’s adventures continue in Mr. Softee and the soon to be released Bite Me. Mike is currently working on his latest top secret project. He graduated High School from St. Thomas Academy and earned a BA in history from St. Norbert College.

His latest book is the crime fiction, Bombshell.

Connect with Mike: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Purchase Bombshell: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

BombshellDysfunctional, bumbling, crazy babe-magnet Dev Haskell, P.I., becomes the envy of every guy with a heartbeat when he’s hired to watch over a team of gorgeous English roller derby stars. Though he’d rather be standing guard in the shower room, he suddenly finds himself under arrest and found guilty before he’s even charged. He’s got an attorney who drinks too much, a beautiful woman with a bad attitude, a feisty team of females ready to kill him – and no answers. Bombshell is another fast paced, engrossing suspense thriller from Minnesota’s master of the bizarre, Mike Faricy.

Interview with Mike Faricy, author of ‘Bombshell’

Mike-FaricyMike Faricy is the award winning author of mystery suspense thrillers woven together with a rich strain of humor and even some romance. He and his wife live in Saint Paul, Minnesota and Dublin, Ireland.

His entertaining tales are populated with the sort of quirky, oddball characters we’d all like to know more about, but wisely prefer to keep at a distance. They serve not so much as examples as they do warnings to the rest of us. None of his characters will be saving the world from terrorism, international banking conspiracies or coups to topple the government. Rather, they’re individuals inhabiting a world just below the surface of polite society. The difficulties they find themselves in are usually due to their own bad decisions, but then, bad decisions make for interesting tales.

All of his books are stand alone, read them in any order you wish. Russian Roulette introduces the bizarrely devilish Devlin Haskell as a PI with a foot on both sides of the law. Dev’s adventures continue in Mr. Softee and the soon to be released Bite Me. Mike is currently working on his latest top secret project. He graduated High School from St. Thomas Academy and earned a BA in history from St. Norbert College.

His latest book is the crime fiction, Bombshell.

Connect with Mike: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Purchase Bombshell: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

BombshellQ: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Mike.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

First off, thanks for having me, it’s great to be here. I’m multi published, my most recent release Bombshell is my tenth book. All my books are indie published. Bombshell is the fourth in my series featuring Dev Haskell, Private Investigator.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

All my books are self published. I attempted to get the attention of traditional publishers and I think I led the league in rejections from every publishing house in North America. When you submit a book you typically don’t send the manuscript or even the first three chapters. You send a query letter. The query letter is one page consisting of three paragraphs. The first two paragraphs describe your work, some character detail and the plot of your soon to be award winning tale. The third paragraph consists of a sentence or two about your wonderful self. This is mailed with a desperate prayer and a self addressed stamped envelope so the publisher doesn’t have to pay to tell you no.

Typically I would mail out fifty or sixty query letters on a work. In return I would receive a form letter, often just a 4 x 5 index card printed with some sort of polite rejection line and no signature. After submitting three or four books over the course of some years I was drowning in rejections. One day I had one of my query letters returned. I’d mailed it to one of the big six publishers in New York, it was stamped crookedly across the front in purple ink ‘Return to Sender’. On the back of my unopened envelope was a hand written note that read; “This does not fit our needs at this time”. They never even bothered to open the envelope and read my query letter. I suppose I should have been thankful some poor fool took the time to hand write a note.

A dim light suddenly went on in my thick skull; Mike Faricy from St. Paul, Minnesota doesn’t have a snowball’s chance with these guys. The difference is, in today’s world there’s a side gate into the publishing yard, it’s called eBooks and self publishing. I haven’t looked back since and I still have that unopened envelope.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

I didn’t sign a contract, I self publish, but it took a few years to get to the point where I realized self publishing was and is a viable option. Not only is it viable, I think it’s the only way to go. Would I talk to Random House or Penguin if they called? You bet. I’d crawl across a busy street on my hands and knees to get to them. But I would be able to sit down and do a pretty cold comparison. I talked with a publishing house a while back, they told me if they accepted my manuscript that very day it would be twelve to eighteen months before the thing would be an ink on paper book or an eBook, and then all the promotion would be up to me at my expense. They would hold all the rights to the work and I would gross fifteen percent. Really? You have to be kidding, it sounds like slave labor. That’s a business model that simply is not viable today. I have fans all over the world able to download my eBooks. If they don’t have an Ereader they can order a print on demand copy that is shipped to them in twenty-four hours. I don’t have to warehouse anything. I don’t have to pay for a large print run. I can make a change to my format or fix a missed typo in minutes from the comfort of my desk. Twelve to eighteen months on a completed, edited manuscript in today’s market is simply not of benefit to me. It’s truly amazing the possibilities that exist today for authors.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I was really proud of the fact, win, lose or draw, it was out there. We, my wife and I, didn’t tell anybody for a couple of days. I had a website going up at the same time as my first book, Russian Roulette, was released. We had my siblings and my mom over for Strawberry shortcake and some wine on a Friday night. My laptop displaying my new website was centered on the dining room table. I gift wrapped an autographed copy of my book for everyone. About a week later my mom was on line showing my website to a friend and Googled my name. A romance writer out of Colorado, Deb Stover had used my name as the romantic hero in one of her books in about 1997, she didn’t know me. Anyway, my mom lands on an article posted on Google comparing the hero with my name to the likes of Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson. By this time Mel Gibson was having some pretty serious marital problems. So, I get the phone call telling me “It’s all over the internet. You are being compared to Mel Gibson. You have to do something about this.” Yeah right, let me stop everything and I’ll just call Google and tell them to make a correction. I contacted Deb Stover via face book and told her about the phone call. We both had a great laugh. We periodically check in to see how one another are doing. I’m not sure my mom has recovered yet.

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I’m usually pretty organized, but I wasn’t on my first release. Once it was up on Amazon I probably checked a half dozen times that first day to see how many books had been sold. It dawned on me that you could have a Pulitzer worthy work out there, but if no one knows about it, well? So I began to slowly contact and learn my way around the promotion trail. It’s very easy to become a pest on social media. A lot of people use social media to contact friends, comment, and perhaps support a special cause. They don’t necessarily want to hear from me and a million other writers that we’re offering our third in the series of Cat’s Who Solve Mysteries for half off during the next forty-five minutes and if you just click this link then leave your phone number and home address you might win an autographed copy with a lipstick kiss.

I think what I learned is that the process is basically slow, methodical and has to be built. Occasionally there are exceptions that seem to explode on the scene, maybe Fifty Shades, Hunger Games or the Da Vinci Code, but those are the exception rather than the rule. My experience is slow and steady wins the race. Today we have an opportunity to interact with readers, learn what they like or God forbid, don’t like and then possibly adjust. I had comments from two women on one of my books, the first emailed and said; “I’m just not sure about some of your sexual intonation.” The second said; “One hundred and thirty-five pages and this is all the sex I get?!” That suggested to me I was just about where I needed to be.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I’ve become much more disciplined, you simply have to be if you’re really serious there simply is not enough time in the day. I write every day and at base writing is a solitary endeavor. You have to sit there and tap keys and while doing that I can’t really interact. My television has virtually been off for a couple of years, not really a complaint. I do not have that additional hour or two to watch whatever I would like. When I’m not writing I read, constantly. I read for enjoyment, but I’m also analyzing style, structure, character development, and plot. I carry a notebook with me at all times and jot down something that strikes me. It might be a story, maybe just one line, perhaps a name or something that grabs my attention. When we go for walks my wife will say something like, “You’re a bit quiet.” Of course I reply with some line about how my guy is tied to an office chair hanging out a fifth story window by a phone cord with a hungry squirrel gnawing on the cord… She usually picks up her pace and leaves me in the dust.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

The industry as a whole is really in a state of turmoil. This seems to be a version of what the music industry went through a few years back when suddenly there were other options besides just having to pay $18 for a CD. I came out of the lithographic trades a million years ago. We had highly trained and skilled people make very expensive changes to a magazine ad or the image of a model in a catalog. Clients paid a lot of money to get just the right shadow definition, match a color or whatever. We employed hundreds of thousands of people in an industry that for all practical purposes does not exist today. The task that not so long ago took us two or three days and one thousand dollars to complete can now be accomplished by a ten year old in twenty minutes using Photoshop.

I’m not sure the traditional publishing industry as a whole has gotten the message yet, they seem to be circling the wagons. They’re telling me 12-18 months before my book is made into ink on paper? They have eternal rights to my work, even after my death and oh by the way, they’ll pay me 15% twice a year and can’t afford to give me a promo budget. That is just not the world we live in. I’m self published and I’m blessed to have great fans. None of that could have happened as recently as five years ago. The fact that someone can download one of my books at two in the morning in about forty-five seconds while they’re in bed or order a print on demand book at a competitive price, with a full color front and back cover and it’s delivered the next day is nothing short of amazing. I’m not sure a traditional publisher would be able to bring that much to the table; still I’d certainly listen to what they had to say.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

I love what I do. It’s a labor of love, that should be capitol ‘L’ on both words, but I’m very lucky. My teachers would probably say I’ve always been a good liar and now it would seem I get to do it for a living. I’m able to meet really nice, wonderful people from all over the world. I hopefully bring some joy and entertainment into their lives with my books, maybe even the occasional laugh out loud moment. What’s not to like?

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Follow that dream. Sit down and start tapping keys. You don’t have to write a thousand pages, maybe do a short story or a novella. But start. I run into a lot of people who say they’re going to write a book or should write a book. But only a handful sit down and actually begin the process, even fewer finish. Most of those folks wouldn’t think about an editing process. Write just one page today. Write a second page tomorrow, but begin and then stay at it. Make it as perfect as possible, that means edit and re-edit so many times you lose count. Gee, I’m sounding dull even to me, but it’s what you have to do. Many thanks for having me, I hope you’ll have me back. Best of luck to everyone. I hope you enjoy Bombshell, please don’t forget to tell two to three hundred of your closest friends.

Guest Blogger Joanne Elder: The Steep Climb to the Top: A Debut Author’s Story

The Steep Climb to the Top: A Debut Author’s Story

By Joanne Elder

Four years ago, my over-active imagination tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “You should write a book.” A crazy thought, perhaps, but is it any crazier than daydreaming about thrilling, sci-fi adventures? I had always been a sci-fi fan, but a writer of science fiction? I pondered this notion acknowledging that I had a great deal of technical writing experience under my belt from years working as an engineer. But, to make the leap to fiction? I dismissed any uncertainties and sat down at my computer, knowing that when I start something, I like to take it the max. Now, with two science fiction books published, I thought it’s time I tell my story.

For months, I dedicated myself to writing Spectra. I became consumed with the plot, and the background research. All the while, I felt certain that upon completion of the manuscript, I’d get a literary agent to represent me and land a contract with one of the big publishing houses. After all, how many people could possibly dedicate themselves to a project of this magnitude and see it through to fruition? Well apparently thousands.

My cocky attitude was quickly humbled as I queried agents and larger publishers. Letters of rejection filled my inbox, but they didn’t crush my spirit. I turned my sights to the smaller presses and very quickly signed a contract with MuseItUp Publishing.

One year later not only did I hold a printed copy of Spectra in my hands, I had a second contract for its sequel, Entity. My overzealous attitude reignited. Launching my debut novel was akin to starting up a business and I believed success would come with the proper investment of both time and money. I did a press release, a book trailer, and threw myself into the social networking scene with a website, Facebook page and Twitter. I started blogging on my website and as a guest on others. I actively participated in forums, and Facebook and LinkedIn groups. I attended conferences. I even advertised with key science fiction magazines and websites. I watched my sales statistics each step of the way and, at no point, found any positive correlation between books sold and my efforts.

Next step, I hired a publicist. I will give a word of warning to any author considering this promotional avenue…shop carefully. They can lure you in with their promises and provide few results. That was my experience with the first publicist I used, which I will refrain from naming here. Their efforts, although well intentioned, lead to nothing more than a few reviews from mediocre review sites. Once again, no increase in sales. Bad fortune can make us smarter and I’m now working with a publicist I’m very pleased with. Will sales go up…time will tell.

Of all my efforts to promote Spectra, there is only one success story, which I inadvertently fell into. I submitted the novel to RT Book Reviews Magazine for review and they gave it their rating of TOP PICK, which they give to few books. For the month it appeared in their magazine, sales soared. Perhaps there is one lesson to be learned here. Good, reputable reviews sell books.

So how do authors get their name out there? What’s the right promotional recipe for success? I had hoped that with my experience I’d have these answers by now. The writing world is a changing place with ebooks and online sales dominating the marketplace. This has increased the selection of books for the discriminating reader, yet many still gravitate to the big name “Cadillac” authors. Readers often don’t realize that the latest novel penned by their favorite author may have actually been written by a ghost writer. Book clubs often stack their shelves with the latest media hits boasting vampires or things that are best kept behind closed doors. Are these books literary works of art? I think not, but they sell. I try to take things to the max and I’d like to think I’m not there yet with Spectra. Beyond perseverance, if the key to an author’s success is out there, I’ll find it. In the meanwhile, I’ll keep writing for no better reason than that I love it.

___________________________

Joanne Elder is a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Engineering Science at the University of Western Ontario. During her professional career, she spent several years in the aeronautical and nuclear industries, published numerous technical papers in the field of Metallurgical Engineering and presented at international conferences. She now resides in King City, Ontario with her two teen-aged children and husband. Spectra, Elder’s debut novel, and the sequel, Entity, were published by MuseItUp Publishing.

You can visit Joanne Elder’s website at www.sciencefictionthrillers.com.

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