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Character Interview: Veronica Vasquez from R. Barri Flowers’ crime thriller, BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN

character interviews logo

We’re thrilled to have here today, Special Agent Veronica Vasquez from R. Barri Flowers’ crime thriller, BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN. Veronica is a thirty-five year old Criminal psychologist and profiler with the FBI’s Serial Killer Unit., living in Washington, DC, but visiting Portland, Oregon.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

 

Thank you so for this interview, Veronica. 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? 

 

Yes, I believe the book was pretty accurate in its depiction of me as a career FBI criminal psychologist, a widow still hoping to find love again, and a sister seeking to reestablish the bonds with my estranged sister. 

 

That said, I would like to tell the readers that I didn’t run away from my hometown of Portland for the sake of running away, per se, but rather because it was time to start a new life. Though there have been some regrets along the way, I firmly believe that things happen as they were meant to, for better or worse. 

 

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

 

Before He Kills Again_CoverYes, the author was spot on in colorizing my personality. I am basically the same down to earth, yet analytical character with an open mind as a profiler and tender heart for those who mean something to me as illustrated. Like other people, I have a few flaws and am continually trying to rectify them. 

 

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

 

My dedication to the job, even as other things were falling apart in my life. An honorable mention would be a willingness to look at the big picture while zeroing in on the smaller one. 

 

Worse trait? 

 

My worst trait is perhaps a stubbornness that I inherited from my mother—in which I can be pretty inflexible to my own detriment. It’s something I’m working on. 

 

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!)? 

 

That’s a great question. If it were a television movie, it would definitely be Kelli Giddish, who resembles me physically and is a great actress. For a motion picture, I would say that Kate Hudson or Amanda Seyfried would be ideal choices to play me. If they decided on a British actress, I’d love to see Dominique McElligott in the role. 

 

Do you have a love interest in the book? 

 

Yes, I am happy to say. Things between me and Homicide Detective Sergeant Bryan Waldicott of the Portland Police Bureau become pretty intense as the story moves along.

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

 

I would say about three-quarters of the way when I think I’ve got the bead on the serial killer and am forced to look in a different direction, unsure just who the unsub is. 

 

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? 

 

I definitely wouldn’t want to be the killer that’s for sure, because he’s going down—if I have any say in the matter. 

 

Beyond that, though I love my sister Alexandra, I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes. Mainly because it would just be too weird as we know each other too well (not always a good thing). Also, I don’t get along too well with her new husband and certainly wouldn’t want to wake up one morning and find that I was married to him.

 

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

 

I feel it was really a great ending—everything you would expect in a good thriller with a heart pounding conclusion that wraps up everything while leaving open the door to the future.

 

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

 

I would tell him to keep my character three-dimensional while exploring new ways for me to do my job and pursue a social life. 

 

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

 

You certainly will. BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN is the first in a new crime series, starring me as a tough but vulnerable FBI criminal psychologist and profiler, ready to do my part in solving cases and bringing perps to justice; along with continuing an exciting new romance and exploring its potential. 

 

Thanks for interviewing me. It was fun. Hope to do it again sometime.

 

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R. Barri Flowers is an award winning criminologist and internationally bestselling author of more than sixty books–including thriller and suspense fiction, relationship fiction, young adult mysteries, true crime, and criminology titles.

Bestselling mystery and thriller fiction, including SEDUCED TO KILL IN KAUAI, MURDER IN MAUI, MURDER IN HONOLULU, KILLER IN THE WOODS, DARK STREETS OF WHITECHAPEL, STATE’S EVIDENCE, PERSUASIVE EVIDENCE, and JUSTICE SERVED.

Author Photo R Barri FlowersOther novels by the author include the bestselling relationship novel, FOREVER SWEETHEARTS, and young adult novels, COUNT DRACULA’S TEENAGE DAUGHTER, GHOST GIRL IN SHADOW BAY, and DANGER IN TIME.

Flowers has also written a number of bestselling true crime books, including THE SEX SLAVE MURDERS, THE PICKAXE KILLERS, SERIAL KILLER COUPLES and MASS MURDER IN THE SKY. He was editor as well of the bestselling anthology, MASTERS OF TRUE CRIME.

The author has been interviewed on the Biography Channel and Investigation Discovery.

Official Website: http://www.rbarriflowers.com/

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._Barri_Flowers

Video Introduction to Author: http://youtu.be/kKvkXirbpgM

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/R.-Barri-Flowers/e/B000APKBLI

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RBarriFlowers

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rbarri.flowers?ref=ts

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/rbarriflowers/

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=52919163&trk=hb_tab_pro_top

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/#102817962533514256321/posts

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/crimewriter_rbarriflowers

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/authorrbarriflowers

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=r.+barri+flowers

LibraryThing: http://www.librarything.com/author/flowersrbarri

 Blogs:

Mystery Fiction Blog: http://www.mysterywriters.org/?q=node/334

Thriller Fiction Blog: http://hawaiimysteriesauthorrbarriflowers.blogspot.com/

True Crime Blog: http://rbarriflowers.blogspot.com/

Young Adult Fiction Blog: http://bestsellingteenfiction.blogspot.com

Audio Books Blog: http://authorrbarriflowers.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

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.

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
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Wednesday, March 20th
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Friday, March 22nd

Character Interview: Charlotte Dashiell from Chris Karslen’s romantic thriller, Byzantine Gold

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Charlotte Dashiell from Chris Karlsen’s new romantic thriller, Byzantine Gold.  Charlotte is a 30 and a nautical archaeologist living in Istanbul, Turkey.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Charlotte.  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?

I think I was fairly portrayed. This was a very turbulent time for me. With the threat to Atakan’s life, my visa status up in the air, Atakan’s ex-girlfriend showing up asking all kinds of questions, then discovering my dive partner is a terrorist, and to top matters, Atakan’s mother making an excellent case for my leaving, I was grateful for the recovery project. It kept me focused on the wreck and from falling apart emotionally.

I am a little embarrassed about suggesting the Ipecac for Saska. I’d like the readers to know that is not something I’d normally do but the first thing I could come up with fast in that situation.

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

I think she did a good job with my personality even including my bad tendency to being secretive when I shouldn’t be.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

My intellect, I’m a quick thinker in bad situations and logical.

Worse trait?

As I mentioned, I’m too secretive at times and it always comes back to bite me in the butt—so to speak. 

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!)?

Photo credit: Tyler Parker

Photo credit: Tyler Parker

I’d love Stana Katic to play me. I think she’s drop dead gorgeous and I love the fact that her character in Castle is smart and has good sense of humor. For Atakan, I see Oded Fehr. I’ve liked him since I first saw him in The Mummy. He’s handsome in a very masculine way, which I find attractive. 

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes, Atakan Vadim. He’s an agent with the Turkish Ministry of Culture, an archaeologist, like me. He’s one of the most honorable and ethical men I know, in addition to being handsome.

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

When Maksym Tischenko, who tried to kill Atakan once before, was spotted in Kusadasi, which isn’t that far by boat from Cyprus, where we were. At that point, Atakan and the Ministry figured he’d head to Cyprus and come after Atakan again. I worried knowing there was no way we’d discover where exactly he’d hide. He could sit on a boat any number of places off shore.

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?

I wouldn’t want to be Rana. She filled her head with girlish romantic notions about Tischenko. She couldn’t have fallen for a worse man.

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

I’m happy with it. Everything happened so fast and I’m glad I was able to participate.

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

I’d love for Chris to include Atakan and I in the next book, but I’d like my brother Nick to be one of the heroes as I’d also like to see Iskender in one of those roles too.

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

Oh, I believe so.

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chris karslenChris Karslen is a  retired police detective. She spent twenty-five years in the law enforcement with two different agencies. The daughter of a history professor and a voracious reader, she grew up with a love for history and books. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and Northern Africa satisfying her passion for seeing the places she read about. A Chicago native, Chris has lived in Paris, Los Angeles, and now resides with her husband, and five rescue dogs in the Pacific Northwest.

Learn more about Chris and her work on her website and blog.

Listen to an audio interview with the author on At Random LIVE.

Watch the trailer of Byzantine Gold on YouTube.

Purchase the book on Amazon.

A Chat with Gabriel Valjan, author of Wasp’s Nest

My guest today is Gabriel Valjan, author of the Roma series, published by Winter Goose Publishing. The first book,Roma, Underground, came out earlier this year. The sequel, Wasp’s Nest, was just released this week. The third installment is scheduled for August 2013.

Valjan attended the University of Southern California for his undergraduate education and completed graduate school in England at the University of Leeds. Ronan Bennett short-listed him for the 2010 Fish Short Story Prize. Valjan’s short stories continue to appear in print and online literary journals. He recently won ZOUCH Magazine’s inaugural Lit Bits Contest. He lives in New England.

Find the author on the web: Website/blog / Winter Goose Publishing Author’s page / Pinterest for Wasp’s Nest

Wasp’s Nest is available on Amazon Paperback / Barnes & Noble Paperback / Kindle / Nook

Read my review of Wasp’s Nest on The Dark Phantom Review.

Thanks for this interview. Tell us a little about what got you into writing?

Like most things in my life the road was not always obvious or straight. I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a writer. As a child I read voraciously, so I was quite awed, quite intimidated, by the great talents on the bookshelves at my local library. I began with a lot of self-doubt about my ability to sustain an idea, create multidimensional characters, and capture the tics of dialogue. I knew what I enjoyed in literature, understood to some degree how it all worked. I was convinced (still am) that nobody could teach the idea that starts a short story, a novel, or a poem. When I had set aside the initial excuses and insecurities, I discovered that I was having fun and I had stories within me.

What was your inspiration for Wasp’s Nest?

After I wrote the first in the series, Roma, Underground, I knew that I had created my cast of characters. Two things happened then: one, I wanted to see how each of my characters would grow and evolve, interact with each other, the world around them, and bond emotionally; and two, I wanted to take my own sense of ‘what if’ thinking and create situations and see how my characters would negotiate them. I believe what makes my characters interesting is that they each of them has their own ‘issues,’ as we all do in life, but mixed in it all is a cultural collision of American and European. In Wasp’s Nest, the ‘what if’ has to do with cancer research and technology. What if someone had a way of detecting cancer at the level of DNA and prevent cancer from occurring without chemotherapy, radiation, and disfiguring surgeries? Since the majority of us will die either from heart disease or some form of cancer, there is that ‘what if.’ And then there is the ‘what if’ in Wasp’s Nest of the threat a potential cure poses to those industries that profit from chronic illness. I don’t suggest that ‘what if’ is a pure either/or. Dance with the angel of a cure, but don’t forget that the Devil was also once an angel.

For those readers who haven’t read this or the first book yet, what is the blurb of the series as a whole and how many instalments are you planning?

I haven’t committed to an exact number, but I had planned six novels. The overall arc of the series is watching friends learn how to love and trust each other, learn how to move within a morally compromised world. The main character Alabaster (or Bianca if you prefer her alias) is difficult to know, extremely intelligent, and dichotomous at times in her thinking. She sees things others do not, yet she struggles with intimacy and trusting another person. Dante, her boyfriend, is a nice guy, a little too patient with her at times. Farrugia is a stoical investigator with an edge to him. His peer Gennaro is a widower who has never forgiven himself for causing his wife’s death. Alessandro has brains but picks the wrong women. Then there is Silvio, the ambitious and humorous interpreter. In Wasp’s Nest, readers will be introduced to Diego Clemente, a garrulous, very Boston character. Throughout the Roma Series I try to infuse authentic Italian culture and food.

In this novel, you dive into the controversial world of biotechnology, genetics, and pharmaceutical companies. Is the theory about wasps, the methyl toolkit, and their connection to cancer in your story a real thing?

The Nasonia wasp is real. There are three species indigenous to the U.S. and a fourth was indeed discovered in Brewertown, New York. In the novel I mentioned Mendelian genetics, which should return readers to basic biology. I try to keep it simple. I address the reason why this wasp was selected and why the fruit fly is an imperfect model. The reader will discover that the Nasonia wasp is no pleasant creature, but what I said about its genetics is true; it is easy to study, easy to manipulate, but the ‘what if’ is that current research in Nasonia is devoted to the development of pesticides. The concept of the methyl toolkit is real. The ‘what if’ I propose is pointed at oncology. I don’t think that it is misleading to say that we all have the potential for cancer. Women with a familial predisposition to cancer, for example, can be tested for the BRCA1 and HER2 genes for ovarian and breast cancers, respectively. A while back, the actress Christina Applegate tested positive for the BRCA1 gene, which was unexpressed, but she opted for a double mastectomy as a pre-emptive strike. This is an example where technology exists and the ethical debates begin. While some sophisticated ideas do exist in Wasp’s Nest, I tried to not make them inaccessible. I believe readers are intelligent and seek intellectual engagement while they enjoy a story.

How much research did the book required?

I always do a great amount of research, but I hope that what I decide to include is articulate and not beyond the grasp of the reader, or so implausible that it is science fiction. I research technology online and in technical libraries. While I don’t have a Ph.D, I’ve retained a working vocabulary from my scientific education. With the methyl toolkit I did speak with an immunologist and instructor who researches cancer and teaches at the graduate level. While I was remiss in thanking him in the Acknowledgements I had him in mind when I introduce readers to Portuguese food in Wasp’s Nest.  I should also mention that another form of research necessary to the Roma Series is cultural in nature. Two of my friends act as my editors. Dean proofreads all my work; and Claudio does the ‘cultural editing.’ Both men are far more knowledgeable in Italian than I. Claudio is a native speaker, a linguist, a journalist and a professional translator, with northern and southern Italian culture in his veins. While I can read Italian with respectable facility, only the native speaker can give you the authentic phrases and turns of phrase. This ‘cultural editing’ was crucial to the third novel, out in August 2013, since it deals with a volatile part of recent Italian history, with an unfortunate American connection.

I love the title, which of course suits the story well because it works on two levels. Did you come up with it right away or did you have to brainstorm?

I knew the title from the start. I had wanted to create a story in Boston. The title does work on many levels. It alludes to the insect, the Bostonian stereotype of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, and the colloquial expression of getting into a mess, although I think the proper phrase has to do with a ‘hornet’s nest.’ One of the particular joys with Wasp’s Nestwas working with Winter Goose in designing the cover art. I should point out that the wasp on the cover is not a Nasoniacritter, but a yellow jacket wasp.

How long did it take you to write the novel and did you plot in advance?

I wrote Wasp’s Nest in four to six weeks, BUT I spent longer editing and shaping it before I submitted it to Winter Goose, where it underwent more editing with James Logan. Fellow Winter Goose authors Jessica Kristie and Sherry Foley provided me with invaluable feedback and suggestions before James touched the manuscript. Jessica is a poet so her contribution around imagery was helpful. Sherry is the author of two Winter Goose thrillers: A Captive Heart andSwitched in Death. She taught me other “suspense tricks.” I can’t emphasize how helpful they were for both Wasp’s Nest and for me as a writer. In terms of plotting, I knew where I was going with this novel. It did feel at times like “seat of your pants” writing, but I advocate getting the story down on paper and then editing afterwards.

What made you decide to make your main character a woman? Has this been challenging? If yes, in what way?

The genesis for the Alabaster character came from a dare. I was talking to a work colleague whom I’ve known for over ten years. Margaret knew that I was writing short stories at the time so she suggested that I try my hand at writing a female character.  The result was a short story entitled “Alabaster.” Yes, it is challenging to write out of gender and I would add that it is also difficult to write from a child’s perspective. I have a deep respect for children’s authors since they have to modulate story and vocabulary to their audience. I don’t think writing from a female point of view is insurmountable. Research can get you the answers. The skill is in transforming the knowledge into believable action and dialogue.

In Book I, it was Rome. Now, it is Boston. In both novels your locations are fleshed out in vivid detail. How important is a sense of location in a story?

In the Roma series I try to make the location a character. We can take our environments for granted. Wasp’s Nest takes place in Boston, the third, fourth, and fifth novels take place in Milan, Naples, and Boston. Cities change all the time: think of Whitman’s Manhattan and New Jersey, T.S. Eliot’s London, and Baudelaire’s Paris. The modern metropolis provides a remarkable backdrop to our individual and social conflicts and pleasures.

How do you keep up with what’s out there in terms of spy gadget technology?

I hope readers don’t think that they are getting Jane Bond. John le Carré Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy proved that spy-craft is a slow game of chess. As I mentioned earlier, I read a lot so I read the geek articles whenever I find them, rummage in the libraries when an idea takes root, but in terms of gadgetry I think I use a remarkable device called the ‘intelligent brain,’ and it happens to belong to a woman.

As it’s the case with book I, there’s a lot of marvellous food description in Wasp’s Nest

Starving is not an option in Italy. How could you not love the food and the attitude of La Dolce Vita?

If you could narrow down the three main elements of a good spy story, what would they be?

Ambiguity. Misdirection. Movement. A story has to move; the pages have to turn. Ambiguity in character and motivation is true to life. Human beings are not selfless creatures; that is why I think altruism is a virtue. One of the joys of a good mystery is watching intelligent people being intelligent.  This is damned difficult to write, since your protagonist has to be smart enough to spot something that neither the other characters nor your readers can see, even though it’s right in front of them.

You also write poetry and short stories, having published many in literary journals. What do you find more enjoyable: working in a poem, a short story or a novel?

Each has its appeal. Poetry is a house with all the necessary language; and by its nature, not often natural language. The short story is an airplane with a short runway and flight is imminent or the plane crashes. The novel is an endurance race, where there are miles to go, numerous paths to take, but you have only so much water and food: use them wisely. For me poetry is intimate and personal. While I enjoy the short-fiction format, I have noticed that what was once acceptable – twenty to fifty pages is now impractical, with most stories clocking in at 5,000 words. Flash or micro fiction is challenging. Is it a story or a vignette? I’ve only had one flash-fiction piece published; it was a 111-word story that I did for a contest for ZOUCH Magazine.

Congratulations on winning first prize in ZOUCH Magazine’s Lit Bit contest. Can you tell us about it?

I was searching for the “calls for submission” web pages and I saw page after page of requests for flash fiction. I felt dismayed but then I thought: What can I tell in a short, SHORT piece? I wrote one sentence that told a hero’s journey. The brevity of the form drew upon my experience in writing poetry.

What’s on the horizon for you?

I’m almost done writing the fifth book in the Roma Series. I’m trying to find a publisher for a three-volume noir series that I have written. It has two main characters, an American and a British woman, who are part of the American intelligence community. The novel starts in Vienna and continues in McCarthy-era Los Angeles and New York, highlighting the time, the mores, and the dark rivalry between the CIA and FBI.

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

Write because you love to write. No matter how great you think the writing is, please have someone edit it for you. Respect your reader and try to understand that not everyone will like you, that criticism, while an opinion, is an opportunity for improvement. If you find a writer that you like then write a balanced review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Last but not least – thank you for reading.

This interview originally appeared in Blogcritics

Book Review: Wasp’s Nest by Gabriel Valjan

In this the second installment of his Roma series, author Gabriel Valjan takes secret government analyst Alabaster Black from Rome to Boston to investigate Nasonia Pharmaceutical and its CEO, Cyril Sargent for Rendition, the covert government agency she works for.

Nasonia uses advanced molecular biology and genetic sequencing technology to target human diseases. Sargent, who’s demonstrated lack of transparency in his dealings and unorthodox strategies in the past and who’s named his new controversial venture after a group of wasps, claims that his company is in no way perverting the natural order of things or doing anything unethical. He also claims that his research with wasps might lead to developing a methyl toolkit to use against cancer.

Thus, it is up to Alabaster to figure out what’s really going on and, because of her unnatural pattern recognition ability, she she soon gets hired by Sargent.

While this is going on, Alabaster is still being haunted by her last adventure in Rome in the form of a Bulgarian hit man set on killing her after a price has been put on her head. Old friends and a love interest from book I join in, adding further tension to the story as they uncover a twisted conspiracy.

I really enjoyed reading Wasp’s Nest. In fact, I liked this book better than the first one. Somehow, I was able to feel closer to Alabaster: she’s smart, bold and fearless yet has a soft side that is at times humorous. But mainly, I think it was the whole idea about DNA and wasps that did it for me. The information was fascinating. As Valjan did with Rome in his first book, Boston is fleshed out in vivid detail in this one, to the point where the setting becomes almost like a character. Also, as in the first book, the author goes into detail bringing Italian food to life–to the point where the reader has no other option but to love it. In short, an interesting, entertaining read. Recommended.

Read my interview with the author.

Purchase links:
Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble Paperback
Kindle / Nook

This review originally appeared in Blogcritics.

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.

Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | MuseItUp Publishing

Interview with James Livingston: ‘…be sure to enjoy what you do.’

James D. Livingston’s professional career was in physics, first at GE and later at MIT, and most of his writings in the 20th century were in physics, including one popular-science book (Driving Force: The Natural Magic of Magnets, Harvard, 1996). As he gradually moved into retirement in the 21st century, he began to broaden his writing topics into American history, a long-time interest of his. His latest book in this genre is Arsenic and Clam Chowder: Murder in Gilded Age New York. This and his earlier books are described on his Author’s Guild website, www.jamesdlivingston.net.

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

First, thanks to you for hosting me in this interview. I’ve had three other books published before the latest one, two in science and one in history.

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

My first published book was Driving Force: The Natural Magic of Magnets (Harvard, 1996), a popular-science book.

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?

I first tried commercial presses, and received over a dozen rejections. But as soon as I decided to try university presses, Harvard expressed interest immediately, and I had a contract within a couple of weeks. 

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

Each rejection was certainly a downer, but I persevered, reminding myself that many famous books first received many rejections. And all the rejections make you feel even better when you do finally land a contract. You realize you’ve really accomplished something.

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

Harvard University Press published it. Once I decided to approach university presses, Harvard was my first choice, partly because I have a degree from Harvard and partly because they are in Cambridge and I was working in Cambridge at MIT. It was easy to meet with the editor, and I got a couple of free lunches that way! And the name Harvard on the book cover seems to carry some weight.

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

It felt great, and my wife and I celebrated with a bottle of champagne. But I have to confess that we used to drink champagne once a week whether or not we had anything to celebrate.

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

The book was a popular science book about magnets. I had previously helped a company that made refrigerator magnets, and they provided me with a few hundred fridge magnets carrying the cover of my book. I used those for direct mail to many people and many companies in the magnet business. Back in 1996, I concentrated on targeted direct mail and traditional media, but today it is equally if not more important to do web marketing. This on-line interview with you today is part of my web marketing for my latest book, Arsenic and Clam Chowder.

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

No, that route eventually worked well. Driving Force ended up with about 30 reviews, including one in The New York Times that probably sold the most books. The book sold very well by university press standards, and now, 14 years later, is still selling a few hundred copies a year.

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

Since Driving Force, I’ve published an undergraduate textbook and two books in history. My professional career was in physics, and for the first 40 years, I published a lot in science, writing mostly for other scientists. Driving Force was the first where I aimed for a general audience. That was good practice for my two history books, A Very Dangerous Woman (2004, with my wife as co-author) and my latest book, Arsenic and Clam Chowder: Murder in Gilded Age New York (2010). They’re both aimed at a general audience. So I’ve grown in the breadth of the topics of my books, and in the size of the audience I’m writing for.

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?

Fortunately, I never depended on my writing for the bulk of my income. So, I didn’t have to feel myself a failure if my books didn’t reach the bestseller lists and earn lots of money. I might have done better if I had hired a PR firm, but didn’t want to spend the money.

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

I considered each of my books a major accomplishment at the time, but I am currently proudest of my latest, Arsenic and Clam Chowder: Murder in Gilded Age New York. It centers on a sensational murder trial of the 1890s, but also provides a window into the fascinating wider world of Gilded Age New York. It’s a great story in a great setting. 

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

My professional career was in science, over 30 years in research with GE and about 20 years of teaching at MIT. Writing was an important part of both those jobs, but it is only in full retirement that my major activity has been writing. It’s fortunate that I now have pensions from both GE and MIT, and don’t have to rely on the royalties from book sales to survive. I couldn’t live on my book royalties, but they help cover my gas money.

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

During my science career, I was an author of over 150 articles in scientific journals, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries, plus two books. So I was both an author and a scientist. Communication is important in all professions, including science. Now that I have retired from full-time science, I can focus more on writing, some in science and some in history, my two major interests.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

I just turned 80, and life-expectancy statistics suggest that I probably won’t be here ten years from now. If I am, I probably won’t still be writing books. But I may still be busy trying to market the great book I published when I was 80, Arsenic and Clam Chowder.

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

Until you are lucky and strike it rich with a blockbuster best seller, you should have another career that can provide you with sufficient income to allow you to have fun writing on the side. And be sure to enjoy what you do.

Recipe for Writing a Great Thriller Novel by Joshua Graham

We have a wonderful guest post for you today by Joshua Graham, author of the suspense thriller novel, Beyond Justice (Dawn Treader Press).

Recipe for Writing a Great Thriller Novel

by Joshua Graham

The basic ingredients of fiction apply especially to thrillers and are as follows:

  • Take 1 Character (Protagonist)
  • Place carefully in a setting (you may thrust, splatter, or toss)
  • Add a problem  (Protagonist’s major conflict)
  • Shake, beat, batter well for several iterations (known as the try-fail cycle), more if novel, less if short story.
  • Present  ending either sunny-side-up (victory),  or sunny-side-down (tragedy), or poached (up-down ironic ending)

It’s very much like preparing eggs, if you think about it.  Writing a great thriller requires the basic elements listed in the recipe above.  But here are some more ingredients you’ll need to make a thriller pop.

1.  Go easy on the exposition – Of course every character has a back story.  Every locale has a story.  But in a thriller, you need to move the action.  Think of the pacing of just about any Indiana Jones movie.  There’s not a lot of ruminating, not a lot of contemplation.  Indiana Jones, while a learned person (a professor) is a man of action, not talk.  A man of decision, not deliberation.    If you have crucial backstory, work it into the dialogue or keep the ruminations to a bare minimum—a couple of short paragraphs and back into the present action.

2. Breathe—though thrillers are basically non-stop action, you need to give your character and readers a chance to catch their breath.  A chance to lick their wounds, to laugh or cry.  Do this after several intense chapters, but then let the action spring up, “just when they think it’s safe to go back into the water” to borrow a phrase from JAWS 2.

3. Short-quick chapters—Ever watch a great TV thriller?  Try counting the lines of dialogue before the scenes change, the number of seconds establishing the location.  It’s surprisingly short and fast.  Don’t spend pages and pages beautifully describing the trees, the sky, the weather, the clothes your character is wearing (that’s for literary fiction.)  Just put in enough to set the scene, then let go of the brakes and floor it!

4.  End every chapter with a cliff-hanger –This is key.  What makes a page turner so impossible to put down is that the chapters are short and just about every one of them ends leaving you in suspense.  And because your reader already knows the next chapter will be very short and quick, what does she do?  She turns the page of course.  Keep doing this for the rest of the book and you’ll have a fast-paced novel.  I don’t think fans of literary fiction like this so much, but you’re not writing for them.  (With all due respect, they have great Pulitzer Prize winning authors to read, so don’t feel too sorry for them.)

4. Identify the personal stakes and the global stakes—Indiana Jones must stop the Nazis from obtaining the Holy Grail and unleashing the power of immortality for Adolf Hitler, but he must also save Dear Old Dad (Dr. Henry Jones) and resolve their strained relationship.  Every thriller must be about saving the world, so to speak, but it also must be personal.  Your larger than life protagonist must be just that.  And at the same time, she must have a daughter to save, or an aging parent to care for, even a cat to rescue.

5.  Twists and turns—It’s like preparing a surprise party and the guest of honor is your reader.  You must plot, plot, plot.  You must misdirect him, take him to a door and when he opens it, he finds himself somewhere he never would have imagined.  To do this you must do a lot of reverse engineering.  Figure out early what kind of payoff you want, then work your way back to setting it up.  Don’t cheat and withhold information (clues).  Rather, plant them ever so subtly such that by the time the surprise comes, your reader slaps himself over the head ins delighted surprise and says, “Oh!  Of course!”

6.  Character’s should arc—it’s not always possible with a book series hero to undergo a  life-altering experience in each book, but it still should happen.  Something very important should change in your protagonist’s life.  If you want your reader to feel that they’ve read something significant, then something significant must happen in your protagonist’s life.  If at the end of your book, your protagonist is the same person and nothing has changed, then really, nothing important has happened.  Your reader may be entertained for the duration (which is a good result, don’t get me wrong), but in the end, they will probably forget your book.  At best, what they’ll remember is having fun reading it.

In order for a book to be transformative, something must transform your characters.  Was Joe Detective a man who hated people and only looked out for himself, since that’s what everyone in the world does?  Well, by the end of your book he should become either significantly MORE so, or have adopted a different outlook on life.

How do you do this with a recurring hero in a series?  Well, people have many different things to go through and never stay the same person as life goes on.  We are all works in progress at all times of life.  So your recurring hero can have other changes throughout your subsequent novels.  His basic personality and traits can remain the same, but his values can evolve over the series.  Your readers will feel they’ve grown up with him, done life with him.  He’ll be their close friend, and when the series is done they’ll feel like they’re saying good-bye to a lifelong friend.  And they’ll be begging you to write the next series, or clamoring for a return of the hero.

I realize not every writer will agree with me on all this, and that’s fine.  This is just my recipe for writing a great thriller and it shouldn’t taste like anyone else’s.

Joshua Graham grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where he lived for the better part of 30 years. He holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree and went on to earn his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.   During his time in Maryland, he taught as a professor at Shepherd College (WV), Western Maryland College, and Columbia Union College (MD).

Today he lives with his beautiful wife and children in San Diego.  Several of Graham’s short fiction works have been published by Pocket Books and Dawn Treader Press under different pen names.

Beyond Justice is now available in Trade Paperback through Amazon.com as well as Barnes and Noble.  It’s available at the Kindle store for $2.99 for a limited time, and can be purchased for other ebook readers at Smashwords, and is now available for the iPad and iPhone at the Apple iBooks store.

A member of the Oregon Writers Network, Graham is a graduate of the Master Classes and professional writing workshops held by Dean W. Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  Dean and Kris and the entire OWN, have been a major influence in his journey to become a published writer.  You can visit his website at www.joshua-graham.com, connect with him on facebook at www.facebook.com/j0shuagraham or twitter at www.twitter.com/j0shuagraham.

Interview with Joshua Graham: ‘Keep learning, don’t listen to naysayers, be patient and persistent’

Joshua GrahamJoshua Graham grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where he lived for the better part of 30 years. He holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree and went on to earn his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. During his time in Maryland, he taught as a professor at Shepherd College (WV), Western Maryland College, and Columbia Union College (MD).

Today he lives with his beautiful wife and children in San Diego. Several of Graham’s short fiction works have been published by Pocket Books and Dawn Treader Press under different pen names.

Beyond Justice is now available in Trade Paperback through Amazon.com as well as Barnes and Noble. It’s available at the Kindle store for $2.99 for a limited time, and can be purchased for other ebook readers at Smashwords, and is now available for the iPad and iPhone at the Apple iBooks store.

A member of the Oregon Writers Network, Graham is a graduate of the Master Classes and professional writing workshops held by Dean W. Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Dean and Kris and the entire OWN, have been a major influence in his journey to become a published writer. You can visit his website at www.joshua-graham.com, connect with him on facebook at www.facebook.com/j0shuagraham or twitter at www.twitter.com/j0shuagraham.

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

Although Beyond Justice is my first published novel, my short fiction works have been published in several anthologies by Pocket Books.

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

Interesting you should ask.  Beyond Justice is actually the third novel I have written.  But the name of the first novel I ever wrote is Babel Reascending. I may one day get over my bashfulness about it and get it published.  But I’m a different writer today than I was when I wrote 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?

Rejections are part and parcel for a writer’s career.  Just ask Dean Koontz who received about 70 rejections before selling his first novel.  I probably had about 20 or more, but they were mostly to agents.

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

I learned early on that rejections were just part of the process.  I was also taught to believe in my book, and my craft.  Rejections don’t bother me, especially because just about every editor who has sent me one has been incredibly professional and courteous.  I understand that the rejection is not meant to be taken personally, and I understand what an incredible number of manuscripts these good people (editors and publishers) have to go through.  They also have to find the right book for their line, for that current season, one that the entire company will be willing to put money behind.  Sometimes it takes the lining up of the stars, so to speak, to find the right fit at the right time.

I wonder how the editor who rejected John Grisham’s The Firm must feel everyday right now.  To be fair, it’s not easy knowing which book will become the next runaway best seller.  Editors have to reject a lot of great material and they don’t always get it right.  (Of course, there is a lot of slush out there as well, but we’re limiting this discussion to long term, professional writing.)  We writers aren’t the only ones putting ourselves at risk when we send our manuscripts out.

I’d hate to be the poor guy who rejected Dean Koontz’s first novel before he sold it.

What do I feel about rejections? Like Vito Corleone always said, “It’s nothing personal, just business.”  You just stay professional, keep it in the mail, and spend your time not fretting about this or that rejection letter, but writing your next great book.

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

Dawn Treader Press is an independent publisher whose vision aligns very well with mine.  They are looking to publish books that break through traditional genre boundaries, books that not only entertain but challenge and enlighten their readers.

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

When I first held the galley for Beyond Justice in my hands, my wife was out of the country.  I was so excited, but the moment felt incomplete without her.  So I took a picture of it and sent it to her via SMS.  The truth is, I haven’t really done anything yet because I’m so busy writing more novels and short stories and haven’t decided the best way to celebrate.  One thing for sure, it will involve friends and loved ones.  They’ve been so supportive of me throughout the process.  But seriously?  I’m already excited about the next four or five novels.

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

Facebook, of course.  But it wasn’t as official as the press release.

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

It’s difficult to look back and know if you should have or would have done something differently.  I feel blessed where I am and believe that things will only get better from now on.  I am open to all possibilities in the future.

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

I will have several short fiction works and collections released soon, perhaps by the time this interview is published.  I would like to continue growing as an author and a human being for as long as the good Lord gives me breath.  If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

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?

I would have spent less time worrying about the words of naysayers (thankfully, there were few in my life) who are always skeptical about any dream someone may have.

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

It hasn’t been that long since.  I would say the biggest accomplishment for me is becoming a better listener to my wife and children.  I’m not completely there yet, but I think it’s helped a lot.

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

An international concert cellist, like Mstislav Rostropovich…okay, how about Yo-Yo Ma?  J

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

I don’t think I’d ever give up being an author any more than I’d give up my voice.  Perhaps one day, when I’m a bestselling writer on the NY Times list, I’ll go back the stage and give public concerts again.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

Healthy, active, at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, my family doing fantastically well in every area, being able to bless people (friends, loved-ones and strangers alike) with whatever resources I’ve been blessed with.  I’d love to do like my mentors Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathyrn Rusch, and share my knowledge and experience with other aspiring writers.

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

Keep learning, don’t listen to naysayers, be patient and persistent.  Remember that you are the worst judge of your own work, so finish what you start writing and mail it out.  Don’t sit around waiting for rejection letters or fretting if/when they come in, start writing the next book or story, and repeat the process.  The more material you have out in the mail (or email) the less you will fret when you get a rejection letter.  And the more inventory you develop, the more income streams you’ll have when you hit it big and suddenly everyone want to publish everything you’ve ever written.

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