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Interview with Laura Carroll, author of ‘The Baby Matrix’

Laura Carroll is the author of The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction will Create a Better World, Families of Two: Interviews With Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice, and Finding Fulfillment From the Inside Out.

In addition to writing nonfiction books, she has worked over the last 15 years as a business and litigation psychology consultant and used her expertise in behavioral sciences, psychology, and communications to advise business, legal, and nonprofit professionals on their communications strategies and goals.

Laura is a seasoned leader of personal and professional development seminars, and has appeared on a variety of television shows, including Good Morning America and The Early Show. She has been a guest on many radio talk shows to discuss social science topics.

You’ll also find her online at her nonfiction book site, LiveTrue Books, and her top blog, La Vie Childfree.

To get your copy of The Baby Matrix by Laura Carroll at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Baby-Matrix-Parenthood-Reproduction/dp/0615642993/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1339007434&sr=8-2

Pick up your ebook copy at Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-baby-matrix-laura-carroll/1110625478

To get your e-copy of The Baby Matrix by Laura Carroll for your Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Baby-Matrix-Reproduction-ebook/dp/B0081HSF3S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339007434&sr=8-1

To learn more about Laura, go to her website: http://lauracarroll.com/

Visit Laura Carroll on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/LauraCarroll88

Like Laura Carroll on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheBabyMatrix

Find out all about The Baby Matrix at Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13641241-the-baby-matrix

Laura Carroll is giving away a free Kindle Fire!  Click here to enter!

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About the Book:

In the movie The Matrix, the character Morpheus offers two pills to Neo—if he takes the blue pill, he will go on with life as he has before, believing what he has always believed. If he takes the red pill, he will find out what the “matrix” really is, and many of his earlier beliefs will be shattered. When it comes to taking a hard look at a specific set of beliefs about parenthood and reproduction that has driven our society for generations, The Baby Matrix is the red pill.

What is this set of beliefs? Pronatalism. At its core, it’s the belief that having children should be the central focus of every adult’s life. In this book, author Laura Carroll shows us how pronatalist beliefs have become so embedded that they have come to be seen as “true” and takes a critical look at their pervasiveness in our society.

Carroll examines the historical origins of pronatalism, the reasons why it has such a deep hold on societies even though most people remain unaware of it, and whether it makes sense – for individuals or for the world as a whole. She examines the ways in which pronatalism is perpetuated, scrutinizes seven major pronatalist assumptions that lead people to accept them without question, and offers alternative mindsets that reflect realities, true reproductive freedom and responsibility in today’s society. Whether you are already a parent, want to be a parent, or don’t want children, you will never think about parenthood in the same way.

Investigating what few have had the courage to discuss, The Baby Matrix examines the negative effects of pronatalist beliefs, including how they dictate the “normal path” to adulthood, put unwarranted pressure on people to have biological children, and fail to foster a society in which those who are best suited to become parents are the ones who have children.

Carroll also brings to light the impact that pronatalism has had on the world at large and will continue to have if its ubiquitous influence is not challenged. Citing compelling statistics, she shows how our belief that we can have as many children as we want is a serious threat in a world with finite resources. In the process, she brings into focus how every life brought into the world directly affects our survival.

This manifesto makes the case for why it’s time for all of us to understand why we can no longer afford to leave pronatalist assumptions unquestioned. Without compromise, The Baby Matrix is a reality check for us all. Are we willing to hold on to beliefs that aren’t necessarily true … even to our detriment? This book will make you examine your own intentions and beliefs, will rile you, and might just change your mind.

The Baby Matrix is a must-read for anyone interested in psychology, sociology, anthropology, parenting issues, environmentalism, and social justice. Those who revere the truth, want the best for themselves, their families and our world, and decide to take “the red pill” and read this book will find the truths that need to be told about pronatalism, and why it’s time to shift our thinking for the betterment of all.

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Interview WITH LAURA CARROLL

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

In addition to my latest book, The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World, I am also the author of Families of Two: Interviews With Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice and Finding Fulfillment From the Inside Out.

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

Finding Fulfillment From the Inside Out was initially picked up by a medium size house in California, but they ended up delaying the publication date. I ultimately decided to self-publish to get the work out there.

Families of Two was picked up by a pioneer in the digital publishing industry owned by Random House at the time. I went this route because like them, I believed digital publishing was the future.

Both books ended up coming out about the same time.

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

All three books took me about a year to write. Families of Two and The Baby Matrix were out shortly after, but Finding Fulfillment took a bit longer, as I had to decide whether to wait for the house to determine the pub date or to self-publish.

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

I felt like I had finally realized my calling in life. Celebrations have included everything from champagne to weekend splurges at a great hotel and spa!

Q: What was the first thing you did to promote your first book?

With Finding Fulfillment, I sought out print media, schools, and career counselors to tell them about the book. The word got out there, and it ended up being used in college Life Planning courses for awhile.

With Families of Two I hired my own publicist, who ended up being awesome and got me lots of syndicated radio and network TV media, including The Early Show and Good Morning America. I was also interviewed for articles in newspapers and magazines.

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

I would have to say I am much better now at trying to separate the creative writing time with the editing time, and not attempting to do both together. Trying to do both kills the creative flow. I also realize that half, if not more of what it takes to be a professional writer is being skilled at book promotion. On one hand, writing is so often an introverted endeavor. But to sell the book, one needs to be able to really put on an extraverted hat.

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

I have been surprised how long it took traditional publishing houses to go digital. The business model just makes more sense from a profit perspective, and allows them to take on more new authors with far less risk.

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

The most rewarding thing is know I have helped people live their best lives. Receiving emails from readers telling me how my work has made a difference in their lives means the world to me.

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

Pursue the questions that you are passionate about, and follow what you are called to create.  In today’s publishing climate, don’t be afraid to get your own editorial, interior and cover art help and self-publish. There are so many talented people in all of these roles outside traditional houses today. Find experts to help you promote your work in all realms of media, and stay on a learning curve of the ever changing art of digital media. But most of all, enjoy all phases of bringing what you want to say into the world.

What’s One Reason Why Pronatalism Remains So Pervasive? Babies are Big Business by Laura Carroll

What’s One Reason Why Pronatalism Remains So Pervasive? Babies are Big Business

By Laura Carroll

Pronatalism is a set of beliefs about parenthood that has driven society for generations. The beliefs encourage reproduction and exalt the role of parenthood.  The historical origins of pronatalism go way back. What people have been influenced to believe about parenthood and reproduction might have served a purpose at one time, but now has outlasted its usefulness. Or, believe it or not, what we have been taught to believe has never been true to begin with.

If this is the case, why does pronatalism remain so pervasive? One reason is because birth and babies are big business. As the recent article in Time magazine, “The 1% Birth” says, the birth business is “worth more than $30 billion a year.”

Recently, the baby business has taken itself to new heights. Take the business of the “luxe” birth. Many hospitals have “VIP” wings with “hotel -like accommodations” and include “limousine labor,” like things such as total hospital room redecoration, birth teams with massage therapists, chefs and more. This is not just for the Beyonce celebrity births. The 1% likes the first class treatment too, says Ellie Miller, a co-founder of Ellie & Melissa Baby Planners. According to the American Academy of Private Physicians, the number of “concierge doctors,” those who don’t take insurance and charge membership fees, has recently increased 46 percent.

Not only do all the baby bump media make getting pregnant cool, the luxury birth business ups the ante to the rich and famous way to give birth to your baby. Hospitals across the country that offer “luxe maternity” can charge around $4000 a day, which is more than most standard hospitals charge for the whole kit and caboodle of delivering a baby.

Pronatalism glorifies pregnancy and the raising of children; “lux” birth adds to the glorification by pushing red carpet delivery. And glorification continued to pay off. Business greatly benefits from the perpetuation of pronatalism. Pushing pro-baby, pro-parenthood values creates more demand for products and services that bring big profits to business. Along with government and religious power structures, business works to keep pronatalist norms in place to promote reproductive conformity, so it can continue to gain power.

And “power” is the operative word when it comes to describing what drives the The Baby Matrix.  This word sums up the reason why pronatalism remains so pervasive today, despite the fact that assumptions that make it up no longer serve, or were never true in the first place.  It is time to take a hard look at pronatalism, why we continue to accept beliefs that ultimately serve others’ agendas, and how this negatively impacts people from all walks of life.

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Laura Carroll is the author of The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World. She is also the author of Families of Two: Interviews With Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice and Finding Fulfillment From the Inside Out. In addition to writing nonfiction books, Laura has worked as a business and litigation psychology consultant, and used her expertise in behavioral sciences, psychology, and communications to advise business, legal, and nonprofit professionals on their communications strategies and goals. She has appeared on a variety of television shows, including Good Morning America and The Early Show, and been a guest on many radio talk shows to discuss social science topics. Laura reviews nonfiction books and more at LiveTrue Books. She lives in San Francisco.

Laura Carroll is giving away a free Kindle Fire!  Click here to enter!

Pump Up Your Book March 2011 Authors on Tour Facebook Party!

Strike up the band and join the chorus…Pump Up Your Book will be hosting the March 2011 Authors on Tour on Friday March 25, 2011 at 9 – 11 p.m. (eastern time – adjust to your time zone). Tell your book friends that not only will this give them an opportunity to chat with their favorite authors there will be a huge giveaway at the end of the chat, too!
Here’s how it will work:

The party will kick off at our Facebook Party Page with a 2 hour chat in which all authors will get a certain time slot to answer questions. All time slots will be listed on the party page so that you’ll know who is going to be up next. After the party, everyone is invited back here to find out who has won our fabulous prizes with directions on how to claim them. Easy peasy!

What you must do before the chat if you’re going to attend:

1. In order to participate in the chat, you must “like” our Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/pumpupyourbook.

2. Sign up before the chat so we have time to approve you which will be the second step.

3. Once you’re approved, head on over to the Facebook Party page at http://www.facebook.com/thewriterslife#!/note.php?note_id=10150097454282449 and leave a comment so we know you made it in.

Note: If you wait to sign up too late, you might not get in because once the party starts, it will be nearly impossible to get back into email to see if anyone needs getting in, so do this early please.

What to do when the chat ends:

Once the chat is over, head back over here to find out if you have won a prize. All prizes and winners will be announced in the body of this blog post. If you are a winner, you have 72 hours to contact me at thewriterslife@yahoo.com to claim your prize. If we do not hear from you during that time, we will find another winner.

Rules & Regulations Recap:

  1. If an author does not show up, prizes will still be awarded.
  2. If you do not claim your prize within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen.
  3. You must participate in the chat in order to become eligible to win a prize.
  4. Leaving comments on this page does not make you eligible to win a prize. You must participate in the Facebook chat.
  5. Pump Up Your Book is not responsible for lost or damaged prizes.
  6. We will be using Random.org to determine winners and will be posted on this blog after the Facebook chat.
  7. This contest is in no way affiliated with Facebook and is promoted solely by Pump Up Your Book.

Our March 2011 Authors on Tour who are participating in the chat/giveaway includes:

Caitlin RotherCaitlin Rother is the author of true crime books Dead Reckoning, Body Parts, Twisted Triangle, and Poisoned Love, and the thriller, Naked Addiction. She is also the co-author of My Life, Deleted and Where Hope Begins, soon to be re-released as Deadly Devotion. She is now working on The Makings of a Monster, the story of the rape and murder of beloved teenagers Chelsea King and Amber Dubois. Rother, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist, worked as an investigative reporter at daily newspapers for nineteen years before deciding to write books full-time. She is the founder of the San Diego Writing Women blog, and her work has been published in Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Daily Beast. She has appeared as a crime expert on E! Entertainment, the Oxygen Network, Investigation Discovery, Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record,” and America at Night.” She also teaches journalism, narrative non-fiction and creative writing at UCSD Extension in San Diego. She is now working on The Makings of a Monster, the story of how John Gardner grew from a caring troubled boy into an angry man who couldn’t control his compulsions to rape and murder beloved teenagers Chelsea King and Amber Dubois.” You can visit her website at www.caitlinrother.com.

Caitlin will be giving away a paperback copy of her true crime novel, Dead Reckoning!

John AmesJohn Ames has a master’s degree in English from the University of Florida, where he was a Ford Fellow. After graduation, he built a rustic house and lived for several years on the edge of a spiritual community located near Gainesville, Florida. John’s search for enlightenment ended when he decided that he was too far from a movie theater. He moved inside the Gainesville city limits and taught English and film for thirty years at Santa Fe College. He has produced and acted in numerous short films and videos, including the cable TV series the “Tub Interviews,” wherein all the interviewees were required to be in a bathtub. For ten years he reviewed movies for PBS radio station WUFT. He has appeared as a standup comedian and has designed and marketed Florida-themed lamps. He coauthored Second Serve: The Renée Richards Story (Stein and Day, 1983) and its sequel No Way Renée: The Second Half of My Notorious Life (Simon & Schuster, 2007), and Speaking of Florida (University Presses of Florida, 1993). His recent book is a coming-of-age novel titled Adventures in Nowhere. You can visit his website at www.johnamesauthor.com.

John will be giving away a paperback copy of his coming of age novel, Adventures in Nowhere!

Megan van EyckMegan van Eyck lives near Seattle, Washington with her husband and children.

Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress is her first memoir.

You can visit Megan’s website at www.widowedmistress.com.

Megan will be giving away a copy of her memoir, Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress!

Allan LeveroneAllan Leverone is a three-time Derringer Award Finalist whose short fiction has been featured in Needle: A Magazine of Noir, Shroud Magazine, Twisted Dreams, Mysterical-E and many other venues, both print and online.

His debut thriller, titled FINAL VECTOR, is available February 2011 from Medallion Press.

For details, please visit www.allanleverone.com or his blog at www.allanleverone.blogspot.com.

Allan is giving away an e-copy of his thriller, Final Vector, and 6 e-copies of Postcards from the Apocalypse!


Barbara BarnettBarbara Barnett is Co-Executive Editor of Blogcritics, an Internet magazine of pop culture, politics and more owned by Technorati Media. Always a pop-culture geek, Barbara was raised on a steady diet of TV (and TV dinners), but she always found her way to TV’s antiheroes and misunderstood champions, whether on TV, in the movies or in literature. Barnett’s regular column, “Welcome to the End of the Thought Process: An Introspective Look at House, M.D.” features insightful episode commentaries and interviews with the House cast and creative team. It is the place for intelligent discussion of the hit television series starring Hugh Laurie. Barbara has had an eclectic career. With an undergraduate degree in biology and minors in chemistry and English, she pursued a PhD in Public Policy Analysis after spending a few years working in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Her first professional writing gig was with a food industry trade magazine, and although it wasn’t exactly like writing for The New Yorker, it completely hooked her on the profession of writing. She also writes lots of other things, including technology (from a non-geek perspective), the movies, politics and all things Jewish. Based in the north shore suburbs of Chicago, Barnett is married with two brilliant children and a dog. Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is her first (commercial) book. She hopes it’s not her last. Visit Barbara’s website at www.barbarabarnett.com.

Barbara will be giving away a copy her television nonfiction, Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide of House M.D.!


Hayley RoseHayley Rose grew up in the beach side town of Pacific Palisades , California, to a family of visual artists. In the early 1990’s she traveled the U.S. with her band Crush Violet. In 1994, after a family reunion, she was inspired to write a children’s book. Looking for a cute and catchy name for a main character, she kept hearing “first in, first out”. Hence, the name Fifo was born. Hayley’s mother would often ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up, so Hayley decided to start her series of “Fifo” books with that very question. Her first book, Fifo “When I Grow Up” was published in 2002. Her love of travel inspired her second book in the Fifo series, Fifo “50 States”, published in 2010. Along with writing children’s books, Hayley has been working in entertainment business management for the past 15 years, specializing in concert touring. She has worked with many “A list” musicians including Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart and Candlebox just to name a few. Hayley hopes to one day soon release an album of children’s songs. She is a currently member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and resides in Los Angeles, CA. You can visit her website at www.fifothebear.com.

Hayley will be giving away one copy of her children’s book ‘Fifo: 50 States’ and one copy of ‘Fifo: When I Grow Up’!

Kristina McMorrisKristina McMorris lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Her foray into fiction began in the fall of 2006 as a result of interviewing her grandmother for the biographical section of a self-published cookbook intended as a holiday gift for the family. Inspired by her grandparents’ wartime courtship, Kristina penned her first novel, a WWII love story titled Letters from Home. This award-winning debut is scheduled for release in trade paperback from Kensington Books (2-22-11; U.S.) and Avon/HarperCollins (5-5-11; U.K.). The condensed book rights have been sold to Reader’s Digest, and the film rights are represented by the prestigious Creative Artists Agency of Los Angeles. Prior to her literary career, Kristina acted in numerous independent films and major motion pictures. She began hosting an Emmy-award winning television show at age nine, and most recently served as the six-year host of the WB’s weekly program Weddings Portland Style. Adding to her diverse résumé, McMorris is a professional emcee, literary workshop presenter, and former owner of a wedding/event planning business. Her previous writing background includes being a contributing writer for Portland Bride & Groom magazine and ten years of directing public relations for an international conglomerate. A portion of Kristina’s sales proceeds from Letters from Home will benefit United Through Reading®, a nonprofit organization that video records deployed U.S. military personnel reading bedtime stories for their children. She is currently working on her next novel. You can visit her website at www.kristinamcmorris.com.

Kristina will be giving away a copy of her women’s fiction, Letters From Home!

F.M. MeredithF.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of nearly thirty published novels. Her latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is Angel Lost. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com. You can like Marilyn on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marilyn-Meredith/276444167416.

F.M. will be giving away a copy of her mystery/crime, Angel Lost!


Cynthia KocialskiCynthia Kocialski is the founder of three companies – two fabless semiconductor and one software company. In the past 15 years, she has been involved in dozens of start-ups and has served on various advisory boards. These companies have collectively returned billions of dollars to investors. Cynthia has worked with established companies to bring start-up techniques and technologies to corporations desiring to process improvement and efficiency. Prior to her work in the start-up community, Cynthia has held a wide range of technical, marketing, and management positions at major corporations. At IBM, Cynthia began with financial software to facilitate the tracking of sales and inventory for international operations. She later moved into development and engineering management working of scientific workstations. Finally, Cynthia transitioned into technical marketing and strategic planning role for graphics and digital video components for personal computers. At Matrox, Cynthia was the general manager, overseeing the R&D area of digital video and image processing product lines, Cynthia graduated of the University of Rochester with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and applied statistics. She also has graduate degrees from the University of Virginia in both electrical engineering and systems engineering. She also writes the popular Start-up Entrepreneurs’ Blog and has written many articles on emerging technologies. Her latest book is Start Up from the Ground Up: Practical Insights for Entrepreneurs. You can visit her website at www.cynthiakocialski.com.

Cynthia will be giving away 10 paperback copies of her startup business book, Startup from the Ground Up!

LainaLaina Turner-Molaski is a businesswoman, mom, author, Professor, and a major supporter of shopping. She has an undying love for shoes and coffee, which is why she created her main character and alter-ego Presley Thurman. With a lot of letters after her name and a ton of student loan debt, she is always working to pay the bills. While she enjoys her day job, her passion is writing, and she uses a lot of company time writing her fiction or working on her social website for women, Chiczofrenic.com. She is hoping to sell her book before she gets fired from her day job for goofing off. Laina is currently living in Indiana, with her family, and is always writing something, whether it’s blogs, articles, business journals and books or ideas for her next novel. She is continuously doing what she loves which is writing or drinking coffee. You can visit her website at www.lainaturner.com.

Laina will be giving away a paperback copy of her novel, Stilettos & Scoundrels AND a copy of The MS Project: Orange is the New Pink!

Pump Up Your Book will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate!!!!

More prizes to be announced!

If you have any questions, you may leave your question below or email me at thewriterslife@yahoo.com.

See you at the party!!!!

Interview with Lisa Sweetingham, Author of Chemical Cowboys

Journalist Lisa Sweetingham spent four years following in the footsteps of DEA agents and Ecstasy traffickers to bring Chemical Cowboys to life. Previously, she covered high-profile murder trials and Supreme Court nomination hearings for Court TV online.

Sweetingham is a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Parade, Spin, Time Out New York, Health Affairs, and many other publications. She resides in Los Angeles.

Chemical Cowboys is her first book.

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Chemical CowboysWelcome to Beyond the Books, Lisa!  What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

Chemical Cowboys: The DEA’s Secret Mission to Hunt Down a Notorious Ecstasy Kingpin is my first book.

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 know that the submission process can be agonizing, but I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a very talented agent, David Halpern, of the Robbins Office, who is almost scientific about these things. From what I recall, Halpern only submitted the proposal to a small group of editors that he knew would get the material and also see beyond the true crime–genre label to the larger story Chemical Cowboys hoped to tell. I don’t recall how many passes we received at first. But how it worked was that if we were getting the same feedback from editors—and if we agreed with that feedback—then I would go back and revise the proposal before we submitted again. So, maybe, a half-dozen or so No’s was all we needed to get to a Yes.

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

It’s certainly disappointing, but I prefer to gather information rather than dwell on rejection. If there’s something I can learn about why it’s a pass that only helps me to revise the material—to make it cleaner and more compelling. Sometimes, of course, there is no good reason. It’s just not the right fit and that’s all there is to it.

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

The deal for Chemical Cowboys was with Random House, and it was published under the Ballantine imprint. It was the passion and interest of Random House executive editor Will Murphy that made it a perfect fit. He understood the material and was as excited about the subject matter as we were.

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

When I wrote the proposal for Chemical Cowboys, I was a senior staff writer for CourtTV.com, and had been traveling around the country covering murder trials and high-profile court cases. I loved that job, but I’d always wanted to write books. When my agent called to tell me that Random House made an offer, I was at the airport in Houston, on my way home to Los Angeles, and had just interviewed a man on death row who’d exhausted all his appeals and was soon to be executed. I’ll never forget him—Willie Shannon. Gentle, soft-spoken, and resolute. I liked him. And I recall thinking on the plane home: His life is coming to an end, and my life is about to open up. I was excited about the book, but it seemed incorrect to celebrate at the time.

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

It was a strange transition, because for several years I was reporting, writing, and editing. And then, when all of that was finally done, I had to take off my journalist hat and put on a saleswoman hat. I really resisted it at first. But it must be done. Basically, I got in touch with everyone I knew who worked in TV, print, radio, and Internet and asked for their help to publicize the book. My publicists at Ballantine also sent review copies far and wide. I threw a book party in New York, and set up readings in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Hollywood.

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

Not at all.

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

Now that Chemical Cowboys is out, I’ve been devoting more time to freelance writing and reporting assignments and I have a couple of new book ideas I’m developing. It’s hard to say yet how I have grown as an author, but I think I’d like the next book to be simpler. Chemical Cowboys was a tremendous undertaking: nearly four years of reporting and traveling around the world following in the footsteps of drug traffickers and DEA agents. It also was a challenging structural puzzle, as I had to weave the stories of about a half-dozen main subjects into the narrative. Plus, I wanted readers to really see and feel what the agents, dealers, mules, and other main players saw and felt, which meant spending years digging for details and convincing people to share their very personal stories with me. I hope some of that came through. I also hope to tell a smaller story for the next book.

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?

Again, my successes in this realm are largely owed to my agent, David Halpern, who has consistently steered me away from potential pitfalls and mistakes. But, when it comes to speeding things up? I don’t know if that’s the wise way to go about getting published. For non-fiction works, the reporting has to be solid and the writing has to be clear. To achieve that takes a lot of editing, rewriting, and time.

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

Having a life again! When I was in the final writing stages, I spent several months working until 3 a.m., avoiding friends, family, holiday events, and sunshine. People would call to ask if I needed hot meals or a walk. I was obsessed!

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

I’m infinitely interested in human and animal behavior, in fact my undergrad work was in psychology. As a teenager, I once considered becoming a primatologist, but today? If I absolutely couldn’t be a journalist, perhaps I’d be a criminologist. A friend who was baffled by my subject interests once said to me, “You are in a conversation with evil.” Maybe so, but I think that what I’m really interested in is understanding is what motivates “evil” behavior and how to mitigate it.

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

I suppose I’ve combined the best of both.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

Professionally, I hope to be writing about the same sort of non-fiction subjects—crime, drugs, mafia, police work, international investigations—while also expanding a bit into sports journalism. I’d like to learn how to deliver those stories through documentaries, feature, and TV.

Interview with Internet Dating Expert Cherie Burbach

cherie-burbachCherie Burbach used her experience with meeting her husband online to pen At the Coffee Shop, a humorous look at the world of Internet dating. Cherie went on over 60 coffee dates in just six months. She met lots of great people and one of those turned out to be the guy she would marry just one year later.

She is the Dating Feature Writer for Suite101, an online magazine with over 10 million views monthly, and also the author of three poetry books, including A New Dish and The Difference Now. Her latest, Father’s Eyes, has received the 2008 Editor’s Choice Award by Allbooks Review. Cherie blogs at Jennifer Lopez, Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, Career and Kids, Celebrity Apprentice, Gossip on Sports, and Diabetes Notes.

For poets looking for a review of their book, check out Cherie’s new site Bonjour Poetry Reviews.

Readers have resonated with Cherie’s honest and inspirational “This I Believe” essay, which is the second-most popular out of over 32,000 entries on the NPR website. For more information, please visit Cherie’s website at www.thedifferencenow.com or www.datingdatingall-things-dating.blogspot.com.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Cherie. 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)?

Thanks for having me! I’m delighted to talk with you and your readers today!

Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza is my fifth book. I wrote another dating-related book entitled At the Coffee Shop a few years ago. I’ve also written three poetry books: A New Dish, The Difference Now, and Father’s Eyes.

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

Oh gosh, I had this nasty habit of destroying my work for years and years. I don’t remember the name of my first book, but I know it was a novel and written over 25 years ago.

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?

For me, publishing my first book was about coming to terms with my past. I grew up with in an abusive household with an alcoholic father, so my self-esteem wasn’t quite up to par! As a way of dealing with the verbal abuse, I wrote poetry. I’d write tons of poetry every night and then rip it up by the next morning.

About ten years ago my father committed suicide and that opened my eyes to how short life really is. I decided that no matter what I would start keeping the things I wrote, whether I published them or not.

I quickly realized that I was a fairly prolific writer. And after a few years I had several hundred poems and dozens of stories. As a kind of “statement” to myself, I decided I’d publish one book. I never even tried to send my work into a mainstream publisher, get an agent, or even look for all the various opportunities that writers have now to publish their work.

I saw an ad for a self-publishing company and went through them to publish my work. To my great surprise, my little poetry book (The Difference Now) sold several hundred copies. More than that, however, I received several notes from people who could relate to some of the things I’d written. That gave me the resolve to keep writing, regardless of the rejections others might throw at you.

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

I chose iUniverse at the time because they were readily available and advertised quite a bit. Since I knew so little about publishing, working with a firm that “did it all” for you was extremely helpful. Also, the cost at the time I did it was extremely low.

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

During the month my book came out, I also got married. So it was an all-around very happy time for me. My best friend and Maid of Honor read one of my poems at our reception, and she did it so well it moved everyone to tears. That is one of my fondest memories.

Here’s another: For our honeymoon (which was a couple weeks after the book came out) we went to Paris and London. This was a huge trip for us, because we are very frugal and never have the coin to travel. (In fact, we haven’t been anywhere since! But I digress….)

Anyway, when we were on our honeymoon, we actually brought a couple of copies of The Difference Now with us. I signed one and left it at the Starbucks in Paris, and my husband and I thought that was so funny. (We’re dorks. Can you just see us sitting there giggling at Starbucks?)

We also left a couple in bookstores in London. My husband put one on a bookstore shelf, and took a picture of my book “in bookstores in London.” I also posed for a picture outside of another bookstore, and we laughed that I had just “made my first bookstore appearance.”

Needless to say we were very happy and had a great time.

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

I can’t remember a thing I really did to promote the book, sadly enough. I knew very little about book promotion back then.

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

Yes. But then it’s always easy to say what you would have done differently, right? Experience is what gives us the education we need to do better.

After my first couple books were published, I was looking for a different way to go about the process. I came across another author, Diana Laurence, who had started her own publishing company and asked her how she did it. She then wrote an ebook about it, and that spurred me on to read more about it. Dan Poynter’s books were also extremely helpful to me. I started my own company, Bonjour Publishing, and have published that way ever since. I

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

My first books were poetry collections, and I gave little thought when I wrote them about how I would later market them. I’ve learned to write my books now as if someone will be reading them. I feel more compelled to satisfy the reader and write accordingly. Of course, I still write the things I want to write about, but with that small distinction I am able to also think about how to promote the book so the readers that would enjoy it most can find out about it.

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

One of the things I’m most proud of is a piece of writing that I never received a dime from. That was my “This I Believe” essay (http://tinyurl.com/dlsyor) for NPR. It talks about my childhood and has been very popular on the This I Believe site. I feel that in writing about things like that it can make people who are struggling feel so much less alone.

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

I’ve always wanted to be a writer so I can imagine doing anything else. But I suppose if I was forced to pick something, it would be a professional organizer!

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

I wouldn’t give up writing for anything.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

As a happy, content woman. Hopefully that will include children as well as more books.

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

Never let anyone discourage you. There are many writers out there who appeal to different people. There’s room for all of us, and many different options to get published. Educate yourself on the publishing industry and the craft of writing. Write because you love it, and the rest will follow.

Interview with Life Coach Sheri Kaye Hoff

keys-to-living-joyfullySheri Kaye Hoff resides in Parker, CO with her husband and three children. She is a Life Coach and owner of the Sheri K Hoff International Coaching Company. She teaches college classes as an adjunct faculty member and has earned her Master of Arts in Organizational Management. Her new book, Keys to Living Joyfully,offers a way of living a meaningful, successful and joy filled life.

Ms. Hoff is a personal and executive life coach. Spirituality is a vital part of her life’s work. Prayer and meditation are integral pieces of her daily ritual, which enables her to pursue her life’s passions and live a truly joyful life.

Her words on faith are derived from her own Christian walk and spiritual self-discoveries. Her action steps mix faith and years of leadership training, mentoring, and management. Sheri Kaye Hoff suffered the tragic death of her younger brother when she was a teenager and struggled for years to rediscover the capacity to feel joy and to enjoy her successes. She has a heart felt desire to pass on her knowledge and discoveries that have led to a truly transformational life. Ms. Hoff publishes a free weekly inspiration newsletter, Coach Sheri’s Weekly Inspiration Tips. The Sheri K Hoff International Coaching Company also offers:

  • Teleclasses.
  • Webinars
  • In person small and large group Coaching
  • Corporate Training
  • Keynote speaking
  • Seminars
  • Individual Career and Life Coaching (For a limited time- receive a free introductory one hour life coaching session)

You can visit her website at www.lifeisjoyful.org.

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

Thank you, it’s great to be here. Keys to Living Joyfully is my first published book and my first completed book. I have a few other books that were started, but not finished.

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 chose to self-publish my book without first trying to submit it to a mainstream publisher. I researched publishing, read a couple of books on self-publishing, and decided that I wanted to get my message out quickly. Self-publishing was the right choice for me.

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

Since I decided to self-publish right away, I have not experienced rejections for this book.

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

I chose createspace.com because it is a subsidiary of Amazon.com and I thought the profit margin for authors was favorable. Createspace.com was also very user friendly. I did order a proof copy to make sure that the quality of the printing would be at a high level. I have been very happy with createspace.com and my book is available on Amazon, which is a great marketing tool.

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

Publishing my book was an incredible feeling. I felt so overwhelmed with delight, supreme satisfaction, and happiness. I celebrated with with cake and champagne. My children and husband were proud of the book. I also traveled to my hometown and my mother and aunt hosted a luncheon at a local bed and breakfast. In some ways, I still feel like I have a little celebration going on in my mind everyday. Since I published my book, I have noticed that my writing flows even more freely.

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

I sent emails to all of my contacts and I gave books to close friends and family. This generated immediate sales. Then I began to get involved in social networking on the internet with twitter and facebook, which has been successful for me. Next on my list was to be involved in a virtual book tour, which is when I became involved with Dorothy Thompson from Pump Up Your Book Promotions. My virtual book tour has generated a lot of buzz. It has been fun and productive.

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

I would choose the same route for this book. I have met so many wonderful people through my self-publishing efforts, and I have friends on almost every continent. I feel deeply grateful for this experience and know that it has changed me on a deep level.

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

I have published several poems and a short story on authorsden.com. A book that I am working on is a career guide for people suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This book should be available by the end of the summer of 2009. I have grown as an author by being more efficient as a writer and trusting myself. Since I am a published author, a barrier has been knocked down in my mind.

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 thought about writing a book for twenty years and started several times. I learned that I was working on the wrong projects. Once I found my passion, the writing was easy and flowing. I think if I had worked more on knowing myself better, I would have completed a book much earlier. I also spent time worrying about whether anyone would like my writing enough to publish it. Looking back, that worry was a huge waste of time, since I ended up deciding to self-publish.

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

Since I published my book, I have started writing poetry again. This is sort of strange, since my book, Keys to Living Joyfully, is not a book of poetry. I wrote poems from childhood through my twenties and then stopped. This renewed inspiration is a wonderful gift. I write poems for myself, but I have been sharing them on authorsden.com and people seem to feel touched by them. Writing poetry frees me and lets me capture the passion, pain, hope, and victory in ordinary everyday life with a few well-chosen and well-placed words.

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

My profession is life-coaching, and I, also, happen to be an effective writer. I love what I do. If I had to pick something else, I would do something crazy and fun in the world of art, theater or music. I love live entertainment and did some community theater when I was younger.

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

I think I have combined life coaching and being an author effectively. Perhaps, I identify myself more as a life coach, since I have published only one book. Now, I am engaged in many different types of writing-so maybe I will think of myself as an author first sometime in the future.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

I am working on doctoral studies in organizational change and leadership- I plan to have completed my program certainly before ten years. I will continue to write books on life coaching and successful living topics, but I think I will branch out and also write a book of short stories and poems. Maybe one day I will write a fiction novel, for fun. I also would like to lead joyful living retreats as spas and resorts where people can feel renewed in all aspects of their lives.

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

If you truly love and are inspired by your topic, your book will seem to write itself. Believe in your work, get opinions from people that you trust to be honest, join a mastermind group (with only a few individuals) and never give up the dream. Self-publishing is a great way to get your message to your audience, but it certainly requires attention to detail and a zest for promoting.

Note from Sheri:

To celebrate my April Tour, everyone who purchases a copy of Keys to Living Joyfully, will be able to have one month of unlimited email coaching. All the readers need to do is send me an email to coachsheri@lifeisjoyful.org , mention the April Virtual Book Tour and include their Amazon, createspace, or paypal confirmation number. I also have a link on my website for people to purchase signed copies of the book directly from me.
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Interview with Romantic Comedy Author Katherine Center

everyone-is-beautifulKatherine Center’s second novel, Everyone Is Beautiful, is featured in this week’s People (calling it “charming”) Magazine and in this month’s issue of Redbook. Kirkus Reviews likens it to the 1950s motherhood classic Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, and says, “Center’s breezy style invites the reader to commiserate, laughing all the way.” Booklist calls it “a superbly written novel filled with unique and resonant characters.”

Katherine’s first novel, The Bright Side of Disaster, was featured in People Magazine, USA Today, Vanity Fair, the Houston Chronicle, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. BookPage named Katherine one of seven new writers to watch, and the paperback of Bright Side was a Breakout Title at Target.

Katherine recently published an essay in Real Simple Family and has another forthcoming in Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers on the Mother-Daughter Bond this April. She has just turned in her third novel, Get Lucky, and is starting on a fourth. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two young children. You can visit her website at www.katherinecenter.com.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Katherine. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the titles of your books?

Everyone Is Beautiful, my new book, is the second in a two-book deal with Random House. The first one was The Bright Side of Disaster. I now have another two-book deal with them and have just finished my third novel, Get Lucky.

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

My first real book-length work (other than a novel I wrote in 6th grade about how Duran Duran fell in love with me) was a collection of short stories I wrote in graduate school called Peepshow. It was never published because I was not at all brave about sending it out. Though it was a finalist for the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction.

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 was very lucky. I got an agent for my first novel quite by accident when I ran into a novelist at the park who offered to pass it on. Then that agent offered to represent me and then the book off to publishing houses and was able to get an auction going.

Though I did spend ten years getting rejected before that. And rejection is definitely horrible.

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

The rejections made me feel like I shouldn’t be writing. What was the point? And so I’d quit writing. Forever. And I’d decide that wanting to be a writer was crazy and masochistic and I should move on with my life and get a real job.

But then I’d keep writing anyway. Because I couldn’t stop.

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

Random House published my first book under their Ballantine Imprint—and they are still publishing my books. I didn’t really choose them, they chose me. For which I remain very grateful.

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

It felt great. It still feels great! Writing is the thing I’m best at. I can’t tell you what day of the week it is most of the time. But I can write stories. It’s amazing to know that people are reading them and thinking about them and being moved by them. When somebody sends an email saying they laughed and cried because of one of my books—it’s just mind-boggling.

Though it didn’t really change my life in all the ways you might expect. I’m still just me. Me with books at Barnes & Noble, but me just the same.

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

I set up a website—and found a great designer to make it pretty. I printed up business-size cards with the book cover on them, thinking I’d hand them out to people. Although it turned out I was way too shy to hand them out. My parents handed out a ton of them, though! And my husband! He’d take them to the pool and give them to moms who were there with their kids.

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

No. Looking back, this was a great way for it to happen. I was very discouraged for a long time. But I also didn’t really know what I wanted to write about then. I think I wasn’t ready. I needed to mature.

Sometimes I think making a go of the writing life means just sticking with it long enough to stumble onto some good luck. Of course, this was a little bit before blogging. Now, if I were still wanting to write and not sure how to get published, I’d blog.

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

Well, I have the three books under my belt (2 published, one in production) and one that I’m about to start writing. I’ve also had an essay in Real Simple magazine and another essay is forthcoming in an anthology called Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers on the Mother-Daughter Bond.

And I have grown tremendously as an author. The more you do a thing, the better you get. That’s especially true of writing: Your sense of timing and structure and language gets better each time you do it.

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 could go back in time and give my younger self advice, I’d tell myself not to get so discouraged. But I know my younger self would never listen to my old self, anyway.

I think writing through those struggles—rejection, lack of free time, uncertainty that what you’re doing matters—is part of the process of becoming a writer. You have to believe in yourself, and believe that the stories you’re writing will mean something to the people who read them, but it doesn’t come easy. You have to struggle with yourself about it. You have to earn that faith.

I also think it’s easy to focus on the publishing part of it when what really matters is the writing. Especially nowadays, with blogging as an option, the great writing has a chance to get its own attention.

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

There have been a lot of exciting moments in the past few years. Seeing my photo in People Magazine (this week!) has been pretty exciting.

But the biggest accomplishment is the writing. Whenever I put something on the page and it sounds as good as—or better than—it did in my head, I feel proud.

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

A photographer. Or a maker of artists’ books. Or a sign maker. Or an organic gardener. Or a landscape architect. Or a house renovator. There are so many jobs I’ve been interested in over the years. The great thing now is that I can give them to my characters.

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

I wouldn’t give up being an author for anything. I thank my lucky stars every single day that I get to write these stories and send them out into the world.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

Still writing stories about the lives that interest me and getting them out there however I can.

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

Don’t dream about being published! Just dream about the stories! No one can keep you from writing the stories. Write them, and love them, and share them with the people in your lives who will love them too. That’s the meat and potatoes of being a writer. Getting to go inside the stories—that’s the best blessing you can wish for.

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Interview with Mystery Suspense Author John Knoerle

a-pure-doublecrossJohn Knoerle’s first novel, Crystal Meth Cowboys, was optioned by Fox for a TV series. His second novel, The Violin Player, won the Mayhaven Award for Fiction. His new novel, A Pure Double Cross, is Book One of the American Spy Trilogy. John lives with his wife in Chicago. You can learn more about John Knoerle at www.bluesteelpress.com.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, John. 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 currently have three books in print. “Crystal Meth Cowboys,” which was optioned by Fox for a TV series, “The Violin Player,” which won the Mayhaven Award for Fiction, and my new title, “A Pure Double Cross.”

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

“Crystal Meth Cowboys” was published by Blue Steel Press.

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

If you believe in yourself you put your head down and just keep going.

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

My style has become more taut and streamlined. People are busy, they don’t have time for flowery descriptions and tangential diversions.

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?

In retrospect I think that I might have concentrated on a central character, built a series as I am doing now with Hal Schroeder.

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

I have always thought I might be a good architect. There is a certain similarity to designing a building and creating a book.

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

I think being a good author is so demanding that it requires your full attention.

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

If you can’t snag a publisher consider self-publishing. With Print on Demand the prices are reasonable.

Interview with Marvin D. Wilson, author of Between the Storm and the Rainbow

Marvin D. Wilson is a published author who has been awarded the prestigious AVATAR award for excellence in spiritual books. Wilson has had articles published in several Ezines, and has been interviewed on hundreds of blogs, radio and TV shows, both over the internet and on the airwaves. Marvin is a prolific blogger/essayist. He maintains his internationally acclaimed award-winning blog at Free Spirit, and also his other very popular “Old Hippie” blog. Free Spirit was awarded first place in the 2008 Book Blogger Appreciation Week award contest, in the Christian/Inspirational Fiction category.

marvin-wilsonWilson is a family man, married for thirty three years, with three adult children and six grandchildren. He has been around the block of life several times, through the ups and downs, and has survived in good enough spirits to desire to write about life, to write about living life on purpose. Wilson is a self-described “non-religious,
dogma-free, Maverick spiritualist Christian.” He writes books that deliver spiritual and inspirational messages in an engaging, thought provoking, often times humorous, more than often irreverent, sometimes sexy and even ribald way, through the spinning of an entertaining tale.

Marvin D Wilson is an editor with All Things That Matter Press and also does freelance editing.

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Marvin. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the titles of your books?

Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure. Well, if three counts as multiple, then I would say I’m a “multi” published author (smile). My published books so far are, I Romanced the Stone (Memoirs of a Recovering Hippie), Owen Fiddler, and the just released Between the Storm and the Rainbow.

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

I wrote a book length manuscript nearly a decade ago. It was titled, “My Daughter the Muslim.” I never had it published because, while it did have some good chapters and writing in it, and even though friends and family and even a couple “trusted” critical readers said it was worthy of publication, I just didn’t feel it was good enough to be my first book. With what I’ve learned over the past several years about excellence in the art of professional writing, I may go back one day, dust it off and see if I can’t turn it into a book that has enough literary merit to warrant publication.

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 could write a whole book on this subject. I have written a lengthy article about the arduous road to obtaining that elusive first publication, the different routes available and the pros and cons of each.

My first book, I Romanced the Stone, is a memoir, the story of how I overcame a deadly narcotics addiction that had ruined my life in my mid-fifties, through a profound spiritual experience. Due to its unusual combination of Christian salvation themes and the vivid depictions of scenes in the crime and drug-infested streets of inner city America, it was rejected by all the “traditional” pubs. The Christian pubs considered it too graphic and worldly, and the secular pubs thought it to be too “religious.” Go figure. The book is not religious at all, it is a tell-it-like-it-is truth telling. But anyway, I eventually gave up on getting a contract with the big boys and started submitting the manuscript to smaller, quality POD’s – the ones that only print books that have gone through an evaluation process by their staff and been deemed fit for their standards. I finally got an affordable deal with a fine outfit. This whole process took nearly a year.

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

They motivated me. I kept all the rejection letters and emails from pub houses and agents and still have them in a hard copy file cabinet. I used to pull them out occasionally and re-read them just to get fired up and try harder. I would prove them all wrong!

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

I went with Global Authors Publications. My manuscript had been approved by three “selective” POD’s by then, and I felt that the quality of their books, the level of scrutiny they put a new author through, combined with their fees-to-royalties-paid ratio was the best deal on the table for me.

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

It was like seeing and holding your first born child. Exquisite joy, I was ecstatic. I took the wife out for dinner to one of those gourmet restaurants that are definitely not in the normal budget.

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

I started promoting months before the publication release date. I joined writers and readers Yahoo groups, and other online groups like Goodreads and Shelfari. I networked and interacted with other authors, read and learned everything I could. I prepared media releases. I created a marketing plan. I lined up radio, TV and blog interviews in advance, created a website about the book, started cross-linking and inter-linking it, and marketing it as best I could. Once the book was out I put my marketing plan into full swing. I had personal speaking engagements lined up, a couple local book signings, I did the shows and interviews online and on the airwaves, made online announcements about the book’s release to all my groups, e-blasted the news to all my email contacts, every possible tool at my disposal I used to its fullest capacity.

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

Only if I could have gotten a contract with a large mainstream traditional publishing house. And even then maybe not. I’ve heard horror stories about novice authors getting taken on by the bigs. Often they will edit the book (you have to give them this right in many cases before they will agree to “take a chance” on you) to the point where they feel it will sell better to their readers but you scarcely recognize it as your book anymore. You give up a great deal of say in the finished product.

For most aspiring first-time authors, especially if you are an “unknown,” I recommend going with a good quality POD or a small traditional press. The exception would be if you are already a household name, someone who is popular because of some previous notoriety, or perhaps if you have an inside connection – like your relative or friend is a decision maker with a big pub house or literary agency. Aside from those situations and the one-in-a-million perfect Cinderella story opportunity, the POD and the smaller traditional pubs that give greater control to the author are the best choices.

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

Well yes, as I said previously, I have since had two more books published. The second book, Owen Fiddler, was published with Cambridge Books. They are a small traditional pub, one of the new breed of “cross-over” presses that offers contracts for the rights to publish your book, but they also print on demand. I even got a small (okay I admit, it was “tiny”) advance! Woo Hoo! They don’t have the budget to print up tens of thousands of books and then hope that they all sell. This, by the way, is I believe the wave of the future. If you read the news articles in the literary world, even the bigs are moving away from huge advances to the author and the automatic printing of masses of hard copy books. Ebooks and advance orders for print books are part of the new “green” movement. I submitted my manuscript to Cambridge Books under the recommendation of an author friend who had used them before. I was elated when they voted to take my book on. They are very selective. They have to be because again, they are small and have only so many resources of staff and time. And they have to make sure the books they choose will turn out to be profitable for them, since they take on all the costs of production.

My third and latest book, Between the Storm and the Rainbow, was published by another fine quality POD, All Things That Matter Press. Another “cross-over” pub house, they are “traditional” in that they do not charge the authors fees to print the books they choose to publish, but they are very selective. They actually contacted me and requested a submission from me. How cool is that?

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 done more homework on which agencies and publishing houses I submit to. I also would have studied how best to write an effective query letter before starting to send them out. Each pub house and literary agency has different preferences with regard to what format they want queries and submissions to come in. They also will let you know on their websites what genres they are looking for and whether or not they are even accepting any new submissions at all – especially from first-time authors. I highly recommend going to http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/ for extremely valuable information when putting your submissions plan together. An informed, skilled and targeted submissions process is the most effective in terms of energy and time spent procuring a contract for your book.

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

I always wanted to be an NBA All Star. But as an aging short white guy with no shot left who can’t jump and is getting slower every year, I’ve had to give up on my dream – ha! Seriously, my first love was music. I was a Hippie rock and roll musician back in the late 60’s, and all through the 70’s and wanted to make it as a big name rock star, helping to change the world with original message music. But that career never made the big bucks or the cover of the Rolling Stone, so I went into business. Had to. I had gotten married and had a kid on the way. Everybody has to grow up some time. So I raised a family, and now in my golden years I feel writing is my calling. And it’s starting to work out for me.

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

Not anymore, I don’t have the kind of youthful energy required for touring and playing a rigorous schedule of concerts, doing the clubs, all that. I still play my guitar, and I write and record music. Not professionally, but for personal enjoyment. I have a CD produced that I sell, but only on a small scale, it’s mostly for fun and diversion. So while I do not have the best of both worlds, I do derive satisfaction from both of my main loves, music and writing.

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

That would be becoming a fairly well known and followed blogger essayist. I started blogging seriously in the summer of 2008. I post every day on Free Spirit and at least twice weekly on Tie Dyed Tirades. I’ve won an international blog popularity contest, a boat load of awards, and have a globally growing following of readers now. Free Spirit is read by people from nearly 70 countries last I checked the stats. Now when I publish a new book I automatically have a readership that likes my writing and it’s much easier to get a new publication paid attention to, talked about, and bought.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

I want to be known as a best-selling novelist and an author who creates positive, peace engendering effects on people, our society and planet through my spiritual/inspirational writing.

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

Never give up. No matter how many times you feel knocked down, get back up and try harder. Take criticism seriously, look at it with an open mind, and if it has merit, do the work to correct your errors and try again. But don’t let criticism and rejection affect you personally. Like any other art, practice makes perfect. Be a student of your craft. Work at it every day. Study, write, read other authors all the time, study, write, and never give up.

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