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Interview with Avi Perry, author of “72 Virgins”

2943714Avi Perry grew up in Israel. As a teenager and throughout his college years, he was a professional musician. He financed his student life with numerous gigs, playing with his Israeli band, writing songs, playing the various keyboard instruments, and enjoying listening to his performances on the Israeli radio (there was no MTV in late 60s Israel). He still plays and writes music, but as a hobby (at home), rather than as a line of work. During the Six-Day-War in 1967, he served in the Israeli military, in the field intelligence unit, and gained valuable and relevant experience in covert communications technology and a variety of spy craft and methods.

He has spent the past four decades in the US, first as a Ph.D. student, then as a professor at Northwestern University, a Bell Laboratories – distinguished staff member, and finally as Vice President at NMS Communications. He signed for early retirement in 2004 with the intention of writing a technical book. The title Fundamentals of Voice Quality Engineering was published by Cambridge University Press in 2007 and became very popular. Readers praised the book for its thoroughness and for my refreshing, unique and entertaining writing style, atypical among technical writers. Throughout Avi’s tenure at NMS, he wrote many short (humor-packed, peppered with company culture) satires, technical reports, white papers (published on company website), press releases, and more.

One may find more information on his websites (www.aviperry.org and http://www.aviperry.com ).

72 VirginsWelcome to Beyond the Books, Avi. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

72 Virgins is my second published book. It is however, my first published Fiction.

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

My first book, Fundamentals of Voice Quality Engineering in Wireless Networks, was published in 2007 by Cambridge University Press.

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 sent 60 queries to literary agents whom I considered good potentials. I was rejected by 31, ignored by 28 and received one phone call from Bob Lieberman (I love you Bob) who liked my proposal. Bob, later on, told me that he had been amazed by his 100% success rate with my book. The first and only publisher, to whom he forwarded my proposal, offered us a nice contract and a nicer advance after having my proposal reviewed by 5 referees who all loved it.

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

I got about five rejections before speaking to Bob. There were still 55 left in the drawer. I expected rejections; it’s part of the game. Consequently, I was not upset, worried or terribly anxious. I hoped for the best. I wished for the one (golden) call, which happened to turn up before anxiety had a chance to settle in. Other rejections came in even after I had signed the contract with Cambridge. At that point, they only made me crack a smile.

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

My first book was published by Cambridge University Press. My agent selected this publisher as his first choice. He enjoyed some successes with them in the past, but it was not a perfect record. I had no input as to which publisher my agent would send the book proposal to.

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

I felt accomplished; and my wife fell in love again. We celebrated with a kiss, then a bit more.

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

I did not think I had to do much. After all it was in the hands of an experienced and a well established publisher. Still, I notified (via email) many whom I had known from my professional dealings in the past.

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

I would have supplemented my publisher’s promotion with a little more energy of my own.

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

72 Virgins is my second book. I have gained more confidence in my writing ability as a consequence of readers’ feedback. I braved this latest enterprise—fiction writing, only because people encouraged me. Before venturing into the writing I studied several of my favorite authors, trying to learn and absorb their special techniques, then reshape them into my own unique color and style.

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 was never very good at social networking. This is probably the most important ingredient when you are striving for a celebrity status. A successful author must become a celebrity before he can claim victory.

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

Readers’ feedback is the most gratifying gift an author can hope for. I received plenty, and from very intelligent and highly professional people.

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

I have gone through a variety of careers already. I was a professional musician, a Military Intelligence specialist, a university professor at Northwestern University, a scientist in Bell Laboratories, an engineer and a manger in AT&T and in Lucent Technologies, and a Vice President in charge of technology at NMS Communications. Now in my retirement years I have become an author. And I love it. It fits perfectly into my situation.

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

I employ my rich life experiences and extensive knowledge in many aspects of life and science in all of my writings. I can reiterate the line – Been There Done That. I have no desire to do anything else other than writing.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

I hope I keep my energy close to the level where it is now. I hope I can continue to write for the next twenty years.

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

Writing, and writing well, is only a small step in the path to the Promised Land, where your masterpiece becomes published, then read by an audience, who may or may not recognize and appreciate your special talent. But even though you think you can write well, you might be shocked at the discovery that you are not perfect. I know. You were confident that your writing was flawless; your spellchecker caught and fixed your typos, your words and phrases were expressive, your dialogs were relevant, your punctuations and prepositions were the envy of your German-born English teacher. Hell, no! Those trifling errors kept sneaking into your manuscript. You didn’t realize it until your little fifth grader, after reading your Preface section, pointed out that she did not understand the sentence: “seize to exist.” “Shouldn’t it be “cease to exist” instead?” she asked. “And how do you “hit the breaks?” Shouldn’t you say—“hit the brakes?”

Oops. This dumb spellchecker; it’s its fault, not yours. Well, you’d better find someone who would spare the embarrassment that would turn off your potential audience, joke about your silly writing style, and ruin your reputation for the rest of your irrelevant life. Your confidence got shaken a bit—you just experienced your first lesson on the way to becoming a published author.

Now, your mother always told you that you should not judge a person by their looks, but rather, by their character. You believed her, (only because you didn’t look like Brad Pitt with those ugly glasses), then applied the same logic to your book. Don’t judge it by its cover, you said to yourself. The contents, the real beef, is the stuff that counts. You didn’t care. Professionally designed book covers are a total waste of money, you reflected… Oh Yeah? Have you ever been to a bookstore? Have you watched the random browsers, the ones who pick up the most attractive book, the one with the red and blue front cover, turn it over to read the excerpt in the back, then rush to the cashier and flash their Visa card before it expires? Not to worry. Your publisher will take care of this little detail, unless of course, you are him. And if you are, then you’d better spend time and effort on this little detail. It’s the first impression you make on your potential audience; you would not get a second chance with this selective bunch. They must be ruthless, saving their reading appetite for shining objects, not minding true quality, like your book.

“But why does it take so long?” You ask your publisher. “Why so many months before it is published? You thought it shouldn’t take more than a couple.” You didn’t realize, but editing, typesetting, book cover design, proof reading, even pre-pub marketing, printing, distributing—all must take place before your book is tanned under the florescent lights of the bookstore, or displayed inside the shiny pages of the Amazon site. It takes time, and your publisher is not in a hurry, or so it seems. You ruminate—He must be lazy, unlike me. I could easily shave a couple of months out of his schedule, and still get it done. No. Don’t be an amateur. The publishing process does take time. And you’d better get it right, than fast and sorry.

Your book is finally ready. Your publisher sent you the allotted free copies he had written into your contract, so why did he set the publication date several months out into the future? Your anxiety is showing. You want to see your name displayed on the shelves in the local Barnes and Noble store. But wait, you need time for pre-publication publicity. Your publisher wants your book to hit the ground running. Books are like freshly baked bread. They taste better when they are fresh. Most books, like most movies, sell more copies on their first year after publication, when they are still fresh and hot. People like to buy new stuff. Go figure.

Your publisher does not want to spend money on advertising. How is he going to generate exposure? There are millions of books out there. How will anybody know about yours? He explains that paid advertising is much less effective that the free stuff. And you always believed that there ain’t such a thing as a free lunch. But he is right. He is not kidding.
Free publicity is not entirely free, although it feels that way. You haven’t thought about it, but here are some examples. Book reviews, press releases, media interviews, virtual or actual book tours, blogging, social networking—all can generate huge exposure if done well. They are not entirely free, however. Free copies cost money. Mailing, shipping, mailing lists, travel, PR agents, the time spent on blogging and social networking, online and offline listings, are not cheap. Some may be less expensive and more effective than paid advertising, but you will have to study and master the free advertising market before claiming victory. The biggest surprise you may be facing is your publisher’s unwillingness to go all the way and do everything possible to promote your book even when it’s “free”. You will have to invest your own time and money and “help” your publisher provide proper exposure to your book. The amazing part is that the more you do, the more your publisher will do. If your publisher foresees success, he will be more willing to invest and promote it.

And finally there are three more surprises, with which you will probably be facing. If you become a successful, published author, your fans will seek your attention. At first, it may seem like fun, but once you become a hot celebrity, the new status may yield all the known side-effects associated with the lack of privacy. Be careful of what you wished for. It may happen. Regardless of annoying fans, the positive part of success is the new respect you would gain from family and friends. The wife or husband will start bragging about you with their friends; they might even treat you with more respect; stop telling you to go wash the floors since you are not doing anything important anyway. Before you became a published author, writing down in the basement was not considered real work. It’s different now. She will stop telling you to go and get a real job.

Some friends will invite you over for dinner. They will want to be seen in your company, so they may invite more friends and call it a party. Some other friends may want to keep you all for themselves. They may do the opposite, invite you to a party where you’d be the only guest.

Well, it’s time to get started on your next book. You are not done yet. If you like your new status you ought to remind yourself that it is temporary unless you keep at it relentlessly. Hot dishes become cold after a while. Freshly baked bread turns stale two days following its birth. And authors lose their glow if their creations fade into the used books section next to the dumpster. So be aware. What goes up must… Not if it’s up to you.

Interview with Literary Fiction Author F.W. vom Scheidt

Coming for MoneyF. W. vom Scheidt is a director of an international investment firm. He works and travels in the world’s capital markets, and makes his home in Toronto, Canada.

He is the author of Coming For Money, a fascinating and highly readable literary novel about the world of global finance … and a human quest for success, understanding and love.

More details are available at: http://www.bluebutterflybooks.ca/titles/money.html.

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

A: This is my first published novel.

More accurately, it is the first writing that I have wanted to publish for wide circulation.

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

A: I have always written.

Because I have an encompassing business career, I suppose I have not had the same opportunity to organize a novel, and I suppose I have not felt the same need to publish, as many other writers.

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?

A: I suppose I did not really go down the traditional road of submission and rejection.

Upon completion, I retained a professional editor for final proofreading; the editor showed the manuscript to a publisher; and the publisher accepted it.

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

A:  My work in all things has always flowed from a great deal of creativity.

If you are creative, you will always meet rejection.

Dealing with it requires the deep belief that rises from an examined life.

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

A: Blue Butterfly Books accepted my manuscript for publication.

As incredulous as it may seem, I would not have published with them simply because they offered me a contract.

Upon introduction, I was greatly impressed.

The company is founded on the mission statement of the publisher, Dr. Patrick Boyer, to bring to the market “interesting and important stories that are well-written for a wide audience.”

All facets of the organization are entrepreneurial, and the people have great energy and dedication.

They publish some engaging and thought provoking non-fiction, especially in politics, public policy and biography; and they are building a selective list of high quality fiction. Their books have been very well received.

The website is: www.bluebutterflybooks.ca.

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

A: I write from personal experience; I write from what I know best.

In Coming For Money I’ve written as truthfully as possible of the world of international finance — not with the over dramatization so common in film and television, but with an intimate telling through a first-person narrative … of what it can be like to labour in the world of money spinning … of how the money’s immense leverage for triumph or disaster doesn’t so much corrupt people as corrupt the way they treat each other … of how the relentless demands of the money so often deprive you of sufficient time and energy to live through the events of your emotional and interior life.

Yet I have tried to tell this story in a way that will let others in our increasingly isolated society know that they are not alone. I have also tried to say something about the value of not surrendering to the seduction of victimizing others as a defence against being victimized. In writing a narrative about not giving up, I attempted to capture something true and evocative about how all journeys toward the light begin in darkness. And I have offered readers some assurance that, of such journeys, they can become restored to wholeness.

So there was a certain satisfaction in knowing that work would reach others.

I celebrated by giving the first copy to someone special.

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

A: I retained Pump Up Your Promotion.

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

A: No.

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

A: I have not been published since; I am working on my next book.

I’m not sure how I would define growing as an author … but, as a human being, I try to grow in small way every day.

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: I would not have changed anything.

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

A: I have chosen another profession.

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

A:  I have combined the best of both worlds.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

A: Never slowing down.

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

A: Write.

Virtual Blog Tour: Interview with Steven Verrier, author of TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART

Steven Verrier, born in the United States and raised mainly in Canada, has spent much of his life living and traveling abroad. He is the author of RAISING A CHILD TO BE BILINGUAL AND BICULTURAL (a prizewinning book published bilingually in Japan) and various short dramatic works for the student market. His first novel, TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART, was published in the summer of 2008 by Saga Books. Currently he is living with his wife, Motoko, and four sons in San Antonio, Texas. You can visit his website at www.stevenverrier.com.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Steve! Can you start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

As far as novels are concerned, TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART is my first. But I’ve had other work published previous to this … in particular, short plays and nonfiction. The first volume of mine I ever saw on a bookstore shelf was actually in Japan, where the book was published bilingually.

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

My first book, a coming-of-age novel set in Japan and titled NIIGATA PORT, was written in the 1980s but hasn’t been published yet. In terms of originality and creativity, I don’t think there was much wrong with it, but my writing has become a lot tighter since then. A couple of years ago, I went back and rewrote much of the story, in the process chopping away about a hundred pages, and I think it’s ready for publication now.

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?

My first prose book, the one published in Japan, actually won a competition. Since part of the prize was publication, I didn’t have to go through rejection that time around. But I’ve faced more than my share both before and since then.

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

Rejections are part of the game. Even Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth made more outs than hits. If you have long-term goals that take into account the probability of failure along the way, it’s not hard to keep things in perspective.

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

Again, winning that competition in Japan pretty much determined who’d publish that nonfiction book … incidentally, titled RAISING A CHILD TO BE BILINGUAL AND BICULTURAL, and published by Hira-Tai Books, based in Tokyo. As far as drama was concerned, I chose Brooklyn Publishers, a leading supplier of dramatic material to the student market. This time around a search for publishers of fiction led me to Saga Books, based in an area of western Canada where I used to live. I contacted Ruth Thompson of Saga Books, sent her a proposal and sample, and things started moving forward from there.

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

I didn’t celebrate much. I’m usually looking ahead to the next goal.

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

I’ve sent out press releases, done interviews … just generally tried to spread the word. Unfortunately, a lot of other responsibilities get in the way.

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

No. This has been an interesting journey, though I’m looking forward to the part where the road becomes a little easier.

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

If nothing more, I’ve developed the patience of Job. I’m also at a point where I’m pretty much able to execute my vision of what a particular literary project should be. That’s not to say others share that vision. My most recent publication is TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART, and a second novel, PLAN B, will be published by Saga Books not too far into 2009.

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’m still making plenty of mistakes and wondering when things will speed up. But I’m much more attentive to rewriting than I used to be. Perhaps I could have been less reluctant in earlier days to take an ax to work that really could benefit from a major going-over.

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

Nothing huge … yet. But being published seems to help label you as a writer … perhaps give others incentive to refer to you that way … and that’s significant.

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

Musician. I’m equally committed to that field. You can listen to a few of my songs on my myspace page (accessible through stevenverrier. com).

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

Again, I’m equally committed to both. Both define much of who I am.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

Several books further into my career … and a bit wiser.

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

Develop a thick skin. Be The Little Engine that Could. There are few successful writers that couldn’t paper their walls with rejection letters. Set little goals along the way, and be patient when even the tiniest steps take far longer than you’d imagined. And, of course, grit your teeth and be ready to outlast every obstacle you face.

TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble. com, and other sources. For more information about TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART or about Steven Verrier, visit stevenverrier. com, and drop the author a line telling him what you think about this book!

TOUGH LOVE TENDER HEART VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 will officially begin on December 1 and end on December 23. You can visit Steven’s blog stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in December to find out where he is appearing!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors’ blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner(s) will be announced on December 31!

Virtual Book Tour: Interview with Literary Fiction Author David S. Grant, author of BLEACH l BLACKOUT

David S. Grant is the author of Corporate Porn, published by Silverthought Press in 2006. His first novel Bleach and sequel titled Blackout are now available through Offense Mechanisms, and imprint of Silverthought Press in 2008. Also, newly published in 2008 the novel The Last Breakfast and short story collection Emotionless Souls through Brown Paper Publishing. David lives and works in New York City.

You can visit his website at www.davidsgrant.com.

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

This is my fourth published book. Corporate Porn was published in 2005 through Silverthought Press and earlier this year I had my novella The Last Breakfast and short story collection Emotionless Souls published through Brown Paper Publishing.

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

Bleach is my first novel and was initially self-published. Blackout is the sequel written after Corporate Porn was published. To me it made sense to package Bleach and Blackout together as a double novel. The name Bleach has to do with having little emotion, feeling nothing. The characters (especially the main character Jeremy) go through life trying to fill the void created by this feeling of emptiness.

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 don’t remember how many, but there was a lot prior to my decision to self publish Bleach. I always hear how some authors’ wallpaper a room with rejection letters. That always seemed strange to me, but I can relate in that I could have made at least one wall look pretty cool.

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

If nothing else it was motivating to keep moving forward with my writing regardless of whether or not any of my books would be in print. I realize my style and content is not for everyone.

I also took to promoting my book by writing short fiction, posting and submitting to online and print literary journals. If I had found a publisher right away I probably would not have realized the joy (and break from novels it gives me) of writing short fiction.

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

Corporate Porn was published in 2005 through Silverthought Press. They were excited about my work. Prior to Corporate Porn, Silverthought had posted a few of my short stories so they were familiar with my style and what to expect.

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

I don’t remember how I celebrated which usually means I had a great time.

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

No, up to this point it feels like everything has happened for a reason. I’m really excited about the future.

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?

For a first time author promotion should begin before your submissions have been sent. Blogs, short stories, anything that puts your work out there.

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

Being able to continue publishing books with outfits such as Silverthought Press and Brown Paper Publishing.

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

Writing is my chosen profession which is part-time at the moment. Las Vegas Handicapper and Professional Bowler are somewhere in the top five.

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

Keep writing, be persistent, and keep writing.

Thank you.

_____________________________________________

BLEACH / BLACKOUT VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08
will officially begin on August 4, 2008 and continue all month. You can visit David’s tour stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in August to find out more about him and his book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $25 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors’ blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they come available. The winners will be announced on this blog on August 31!

David’s virtual book tour is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion and choreographed by Cheryl Malandrinos.

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An Interview with Literary Fiction Author Candis C. Coffee

Candis C. Coffee grew up in West Texas where her family has lived since 1848 when they immigrated from Ireland. The house in Mariposa is based on the 150-year-old home of her grandparents on the banks of the Concho River in San Angelo.

Candis spent nearly fifteen years in Santa Monica, California, where she was employed as a writer for various organizations. She later moved to New Orleans where she helped Chef Paul Prudhomme write the cookbook of his dreams and titled it Fork in the Road. Candis longed for the desert, however, which inspired a move to Santa Fe and graduate school at the University of New Mexico. She has since returned to her birthplace in West Texas where she currently resides.

After receiving a BA in Literature from the University of Texas, she pursued graduate studies in Creative Writing, Literature, and Spanish. She is presently at work on a children’s book and is pursuing a doctoral degree in alternative health care and the healing arts.

You can visit her website at www.candiscoffee.com.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Candis. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?

I co-authored a book with cartoonist, Rick Detorie (One Big Happy), titled ILLUSTRATED SEXUAL TRIVIA, in the mid-eighties. The book sold a lot of copies. Rick had written a number of cartoon books by this point and was about to become famous.

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

My own very first book was MARIPOSA.

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 spent two years each, with three huge NY agents, such as Writer’s House and McIntosh & Otis, being groomed for publication. Representation was assured, if I would just tweak the book a bit, here and there. This is not a good idea, to agree to work with agents under these conditions, for I’ve come to believe that they will not ever be satisfied. In fact, I read an article about this phenomenon in Writer’s Digest decades ago. The author advised writers to avoid doing re-writes for publishers or agents unless a deal was on the table, for there is a psychological force that comes into play, and the publisher/agent will not or cannot reach that needed point of satisfaction. There is always just one more spot that needs work. None of the agents actually ended up representing me, though they’d expressed great enthusiasm for my book at first. I spent most of my time with agents and then was finally accepted, without the help of an agent, by a new, small traditional publisher in California, one that I accidentally stumbled on.

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

I would be completely devastated for 24 hours. Just finished with writing, crying to friends, full of pronouncements of my next step…to become a stockbroker, jump into the Mississippi River, etc. Then, after a day of misery, I’d be right back into the game, ready to send out new queries.

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

MARIPOSA was published by Behler Publications of California. I chose them because they loved my book and so many years had passed by this point. I had recently lost a beloved friend and was grieving. I just wanted to have my book become alive in the world, as it was in my heart.

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

I felt a mix of excitement and distrust. I wondered if Behler would come through for me. An established publisher in South Carolina had long pondered whether or not to publish MARIPOSA, and I wondered if I’d made a mistake, not giving him a bit more time. I celebrated quietly because I was still in mourning. It just felt finally right at least my book would be in the world after so many years of rewrites and rejection.

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

I set up book-signings in my region. A friend contacted the local paper and an interview was arranged. I was nominated for a local contest for best writer in the area.

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

No, I don’t know of another route, except that after one re-write, if an agent or publisher does not offer a contract, I would find the courage to walk away from them, even if they are the big guys.

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

I have not yet been published again. I don’t know that I have grown as a writer, but I have changed. I no longer see writing novels as a career choice. I, like Mickey Spillane, used to see readers as customers. I wrote MARIPOSA to be read. I have writer friends who write first for themselves, and if the book sells, all the better. That had not been my attitude. Now it is.

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 don’t think I could have speeded things up. I sent multiple queries often. The one mistake I might have made is to not have immediately started on another serious writing project, while sending MARIPOSA out. The only problem is that I didn’t have a serious writing idea.

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

I was Writer of the Month for the West Texas/Dallas District of Barnes & Noble. I have heard some lovely words about my book.

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

I would have become a veterinarian or wildlife biologist. Or a professor of Romance Languages.

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

I am interested in animal communication though I would want to write about that rather than counsel people about their pets.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

My wish is to study animals and learn to genuinely communicate with them. I know that it can be done because I have had very real, though sporadic dialogues with them, in terms of mental words or pictures. I am interested in their true intelligence. I’d like to travel the world and write about both domestic and wild animals, fiction and non-fiction.

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

Writing is perhaps 15% of the process. The other 85% is being fabulous, so that people fall in love with you and then want to buy your book. This is true for most writers, though not all. A few writers, the really good ones as far as current culture is concerned, can still be true to themselves. They can be weird, unattractive, unfriendly, and it doesn’t matter because someone somewhere discovered their work and told others about it. That is my dream. Not to be weird, unattractive and unfriendly necessarily, but to have that option if I wish.

Interview with Literary Fiction Author Linda Merlino

Life is our daily teacher. One lesson begets another and then another.

Once-upon-a-time life kicked me off my writer’s path and led me to pursue a more practical profession. My childhood dream of becoming a journalist was silenced.

Years later, I became a single parent, not by choice but by necessity, and my most trustworthy partner became a ballpoint. The fiction in my head turned into words on yellow legal pad. I wrote anywhere, any time, on my dining room table, and on my lunch hour. No place was my sacred space. I wrote in my car during soccer practices, under an umbrella on rain drenched sidelines, in fast food restaurants and in chain hotels. I wrote during championship after championship in cities and states, from Jersey to Phoenix.

The quieted yearning to be a writer reawakened onto the pages of a novel. My first was self-published after five years of juggling work, kids and day-to-day. A flawed but beautiful story emerged onto paper and “Swan Boat Souvenir” enjoyed local acclaim and success.

I knew there was more to do, more to write and that the next book would be published traditionally, that the next manuscript would have the benefit of an editor and the advice of professionals. After months of writing, Belly of the Whale went from paper, to computer, to draft after draft and finally into the arms of Kunati Publishers.

My children are grown. My passion to write remains a constant. Each book I complete is dedicated to the magic of believing in my dream, to my son and to my daughters.

You can visit Linda’s website at www.lindamerlino.com.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Linda. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published?

Belly of the Whale is my debut novel in mainstream publishing. In 2003 I self-published a novel. This gave me the inspiration needed to pursue another project, this one focused on mainstream publishers.

Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?

The self-published book is still available through Amazon; Swan Boat Souvenir is the story of twin souls. My debut novel: Belly of the Whale released April 1, 2008 by Kunati, Inc is about a young woman with breast cancer.

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

Swan Boat Souvenir was published by First Books Library, currently renamed: Author house.

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?

Since I did not attempt to query or seek out professional help for Swan Boat I can only use my current experience with Belly of the Whale. It took about three months to find an agent and a publisher.

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

No matter how thick skinned we say we are, rejection stings. When those letters or emails came my stomach would ache for a short time and then I’d resource more and tell myself, wrong way and moved on to another possibility.

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

I will refer to my debut novel Belly of the Whale to answer these questions. Kunati, Inc is my publisher. The three men that make up this publishing house are geniuses. Formerly from Simon & Schuster Derek Armstrong and Kam Wai Yu invented the book trailer concept in the 80’s. James McKinnon is their editor and a brilliant one at that. I liked Kunati’s New Voice mission statement, they were not afraid to take a chance on first-time authors.

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

When the email came, December 18, 2006, I stood on a chair and screamed at the top of my lungs. I’ve been celebrating ever since, every day. I wake up and say to myself, how blessed you are Linda, your dream has come true. Yes!!!

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

Promotion has been a learning curve. Kunati is a strong resource for all its authors and they have hand-held us through the process. Internet marketing was the first step to promotion and continues to be huge.

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

No, mainstream is the way to go; one can only go higher from here.

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

Since Belly of the Whale just released I am still very focused on what needs to be done to promote and get the message out there. I have taken the leap from writer to author and have begun giving-back to other writers. I could not have succeeded without the support and encouragement of the writing community.

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?

Honestly I do not see the way to speed things up. I believe that there is a season for everything. My life was on course, not perhaps the way I might have planned it to be, but on course. I tell groups and writer’s workshops to do their researching, do their homework, don’t query until you have a completed clean manuscript don’t add anything that isn’t requested…if an agent wants only a query then send only a query. Stay true to yourself and your belief in your gift as a writer. It will happen, be patient, keep writing.

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

My best so far has been to stand in front of a writing workshop class of 4rth and 5th graders and see their eyes go wide when I tell them I am a published author, that I wrote a book.

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

I have been in another profession for decades…that profession served its purpose, I am a writer, and I am ready to be that exclusively.

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

Beyond my steady job profession, I am also, a professional astrologer, this accomplishment blends well with my writing…it is time to be a writer, it is what I always dreamed I would be…

How do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I see myself in a house not far from the water with a generous backyard, gardens of flowers, herbs and vegetables. There is a separate structure on the property, perhaps a barn with a loft where I write everyday…

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

Writing is an act of faith…don’t give up or give in…never.

ATTENTION: This interview is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion. As a special promotion for Linda Merlino’s novel, BELLY OF THE WHALE, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away one FREE virtual book tour or $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who comments on her blog stops during her virtual book tour in June. Leave a comment below to have a chance to win one of these prizes! For more stops on Linda’s tour, visit www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com.

Interview with Author Camille Marchetta

Born in Brooklyn, Camille Marchetta received her BA in English Literature from the College of New Rochelle, and later studied fiction with noted writer Anatole Broyard at The New School in New York City. Shortly afterward, on a visit to England, she fell in love with the country, decided to stay, and was fortunate enough to find work with Richard Hatton Limited, a theatrical and literary agency, in a few years becoming a literary director of the company.

The agency was small but powerful, its client list including well-known writers, directors, and actors such as Sean Connery, Malcolm McDowell, and Leo McKern. Among the writers with whom Ms. Marchetta worked were Robert Shaw, author of many award-winning novels and plays (though he is best known in the United States for his acting performances in To Russia With Love and Jaws); the playwright Richard Harris, whose Stepping Out appeared on Broadway; and Anthony Shaffer, who wrote Sleuth, a hit in the West End, on Broadway, and as a feature film.

Returning to the States, Ms. Marchetta went to Hollywood, found an agent, and eventually got an assignment on the Dallas mini-series. Asked to join the staff, she remained until the series soared to the top of the ratings. With that, her career in television was established. She wrote television movies, pilots for new series, produced Nurse, which won Michael Learned an Emmy, and Dynasty in the season it finally crept past Dallas in the ratings and reached number one.

In 1985, Ms. Marchetta took a sabbatical from television, returned to London, and, fulfilling a lifetime ambition, wrote her first novel, Lovers and Friends, which was published in the United States in 1989 and subsequently in England, Finland, Sweden, and Germany. Following its publication, Ms. Marchetta co-executive-produced Falcon Crest, co-authored two best-selling novels with Ivana Trump, and worked as a story consultant on the television series, Central Park West. St. Martin’s Press published her second novel, The Wives of Frankie Ferraro, in 1998. The River By Moonlight is her most recent book.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Camille. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?

I’m really excited to be doing this. It may be old hat to you, but I’m still a stranger in a strange land on the internet. It seems a wonderful adventure. Thank you for inviting me.

The River, By Moonlight is my third novel. My first, Lovers and Friends was published by William Morrow in 1989. St. Martin’s Press published my second, The Wives of Frankie Ferraro, in 1998. It was a long time between books. I spent the years before and after each one, in television, writing.

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

My first book didn’t get far enough to have a name. Or get published. I started it when I was eight, writing in a green notebook in turquoise ink, with a quill, no less. (My best guess is that I had just seen a film about the 19th century French novelist, Georges Sand. That’s the way she wrote, so I thought I ought to as well.) I got as far as Chapter 5, I think. I can’t remember why I stopped, but final exams probably had something to do with it.

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 don’t remember any rejections for Lovers and Friends. My agent submitted it simultaneously to several publishers. I don’t suppose all of them made offers, but I’ve forgotten the ones who didn’t. I was too excited by the positive responses for the negative ones to register. The whole process took less than a month. I was very lucky.

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

As I said, getting Lovers and Friends published was easy. The Wives of Frankie Ferraro was more difficult. Because writing it was taking me so long, I decided at one point to submit only the first section of the novel to William Morrow, something I’d never done before, and haven’t since. My editor was long gone, and whoever took his place turned it down. I was crushed. I sank into a really black mood. I had all the usual dark thoughts. Was it worth going on? All that sort of thing. Ultimately, I did continue, mostly because for me the only cure for the blues is writing. It took a while to finish, but once the novel was done, fortunately, the response to it was good. Within a few weeks, it got a couple of offers.

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

William Morrow made the best offer but there were reasons beyond the financial ones for accepting it. The editor at the Arbor House imprint, Alan Williams, who actually bought the novel, seemed to think it was not only a commercial book, but a good one. That mattered to me a lot. It was the right decision. He was a fabulous editor.

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

How do you feel when a dream comes true? I was over the moon with joy when I heard the book was accepted for publication. I called my family, my friends. Beyond that, I don’t remember. I was delirious. I’d wanted to be a published writer for as long as I could remember, and then I was.

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

I threw myself a big party at the Bel Air Hotel in Beverly Hills. My family was in New York, but lots of my friends came, and people I’d worked with over the years, and because many of them were actors, the press showed up too. I had some newspaper interviews and William Morrow took an ad in The New York Times, but nothing was as good as the party. I’m not sure it sold all that many books, but it was so much fun. And a great present to myself.

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

No, I wouldn’t have done anything differently with Lovers and Friends. The whole experience was a joy.

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

I had a second book published in 1998. And of course now there’s The River, By Moonlight, which I’ve self-published. That’s been a lot of hard work, but I have to say I’ve enjoyed it, and I’m very proud of myself for having done it. It’s a huge accomplishment. I loved being in total control of the process.

How I’ve grown as an author is a more difficult question for me to answer. I’m not sure I know. I suppose with each passing year I’ve accumulated more knowledge, more information anyway, and insight, and perhaps my craft is a little more polished. But I’m not really convinced of it, or convinced that it matters. Often I think the whole process is out of my hands. Once I choose a story (or the story chooses me, however it is), the book itself settles on a form, a style, characters. That’s how it feels. But I do work very hard, rewriting constantly, to tell my story in as interesting and entertaining a way as I can. Even if it’s a sad story. I want my readers to have a good time reading.

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 could have worried less about earning a living and spent more time just writing. That would have speeded up things. There would have been less time between books, meaning more momentum going forward (and I think momentum matters a lot). And I could have ignored all the advice I got to leave the publicity for the novels to the publishers, and handled it myself – as I’m doing now.

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

Writing two more books. I imagine other authors might take it for granted that they’ll just go on writing, that they’ll start and finish book after book, but for me each one is difficult to begin, difficult to keep going, and downright amazing to complete.

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

Oh, I can think of a whole list of things, but at the top of it would be diplomat. I would have loved those foreign postings, the chance to live in different countries and experience their cultures at first hand.

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

I don’t think I could ever NOT write. And imagine all the wonderful stories a Foreign Service diplomat would encounter in the course of a day’s work.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

At my desk writing; or if I’m not there, I’m traveling. That’s been my pattern so far, and I like it, so I see no reason to change.

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

When I was in college, wanting desperately to be a writer and sorely in need of encouragement, I had an English teacher (let her not be nameless, Mother Marie Louise) who seemed to me to take every opportunity to belittle my talent. No matter how hard I tried, or what I accomplished (getting a story published in the school magazine, winning a prize in a short story competition, having a poem placed in a poetry review) the only thing she would ever say to me in acknowledgement was, “well, you certainly are persistent.” I used to wither away inside each time. It took me years to understand that, though she was right – I am persistent, however she meant it (not kindly, I’m sure), it was, in reality, a great compliment. Persistence is a quality I’m grateful to have. Its importance to a writer can’t be overestimated. Talent matters, yes, and luck, but neither will get you very far if you can’t keep yourself going through the bad times. So, my final words: Be persistent. Never give up.

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Interview with Literary Fiction Author Aram Schefrin

Aram Schefrin is the author of four novels. He is a pioneer in the new art of podcasting fiction. He practices law in Rhode Island and Florida, and was lyricist and guitarist for Ten Wheel Drive, a rock group which had its moment of fame in the early 1970’s. He lives in Wellington, Florida with his wife, two dogs, four cats and three polo ponies.

You can visit his website at www.aramschefrin.com.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Aram. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?

“Marwan” is the first book I have published in print. But I have published three other novels in audio format: “Glorious”, which is the story of General Custer told by Frederick Benteen, who hated him; “Consider the Elephant,” the life and death of John Wilkes Booth as told by his brother Edwin; and “The Tenth Cow.” Those three books (as well as “Marwan”) are online at podiobooks.com, and three of them (excluding “Glorious”) are available from audible.com.

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

“Glorious.” It was circulated by an agent about ten years ago and did not find a buyer.

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?

“Marwan” was circulated in 2003 by a agent, and rejected by about eighteen publishers.

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

I resented the rejections. Then I wrote another book.

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

Leaving out the audio versions, “Marwan” was published by AuthorHouse. I chose them because they were efficient and helpful.

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

I didn’t get a charge from self-publishing. I didn’t celebrate.

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

Sent the book to important people I hoped would read it, gave it to the press and placed it in local bookstores.

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

If I had the option, of course.

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

I plan on putting out “The Tenth Cow” in about three months. It’s the first book I did which I had to plot completely – the others were based on history and were pre-plotted. It turned out pretty good.

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?

If I’d lived in New York and networked there, I think I’d have done better.

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

A review in the Naples Sun Times gave me some very nice validation.

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

I am a lawyer.

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

I would give up the law for writing, if that were possible.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

Old.

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

The internet (and the “long tail”) have made it possible to put out a book today and keep it on sale, in focus and fresh for years. On the other hand, access to a publisher has become more and more difficult. My advice would be to get to know everyone you possibly can who has any connection with literature, and if that doesn’t work, put the book out yourself and stay on top of it.

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Interview with Literary Fiction Author Garasamo Maccagnone

Garasamo “Gary” Maccagnone is the author of the children’s book, The Suburban Dragon, the collection of short stores entitled, The Affliction of Dreams, and the novel, St. John of the Midfield. You can visit his website at http://www.garasamomaccagnone.com/.

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

I’ve been published three times since I started writing in the late 70’s.

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

The book was called, “Sentiments of Blue.” In the 80’s I lost the entire manuscript in a basement flood.

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?

Technically, what I received back was worse than a rejection slip. Most often, the publishers I sent stuff to didn’t even take the time to respond back. I know I sent the SASE. Eventually, through a friend, a small press operator became interested and took a chance on publishing my children’s book. Back in the early 80’s, the only way to distribute the book was to go school to school.

How did the rejection make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

I’m very competitive. Just like the time I was cut from a basketball team in 9th grade, I made certain to work hard enough in order to prove the coach wrong. With writing, I’ve maintained the same mentality. It’s about proving the bastards wrong.

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

A local down river publisher in Michigan took a chance with me. Like me, he was into producing a quality product. We worked well together in creating two books that had a professional look to them.

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

I was pretty high about the end product and then reality struck me. My friend Monte Nagler, who was a well-known and published photographer, told me my books were the kind you had to sell out of the trunk of your car. That hurt. Not much of a market in the 80’s for my stuff.

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

I simply went school to school with my children’s book. Basically, the teachers and students liked the book enough that word spread and soon I was booked as a visiting writer at the school. Al Ochsner, the illustrator, and I had down a little skit we would do for the kid’s 2nd grade and under. We were a big hit with the youth crowd.

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

I would have sought harder to find a literary agent to help get me in front of publishers. Since I was fairly busy developing a worldwide logistic company at the time, I didn’t focus as much as I should on getting published.

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

My short stories have published over the years in periodicals. All of my books I’ve re-published through a self-publishing firm. It’s worked out very well.

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 found a strong literary agent and convinced him or her to get me in front of some people. I depended too often on a half-hearted way of presenting my work. Often times, I didn’t have the time to follow up.

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

Being interviewed on the radio or television as a person seen as a legitimate writer. That’s a nice feeling.

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

My first goal was to become a major league baseball player. I heard those fellas do pretty good for themselves.

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

In the end, the writing brings me more satisfaction. A lot of people can hit a baseball. Not too many can think metaphorically.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

I hope to have a well-respected portfolio of work, one in which my peers and my readers appreciate.

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

Don’t let the bastards get you down. Even though they keep sending the heat at your head with the high hard stuff, you have to pick yourself up, clean yourself off and get ready to rock the next pitch out of the park.

Gary’s virtual book tour is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours at http://www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com/  and choreographed by Cheryl Malandrinos.

Leave a comment and you could win a copy of Gary’s book! All winners will be announced at www.virtualbooktoursforauthors.blogspot.com  on Feb. 29!

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