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Interview with Author Marilyn Horowitz

Author Marilyn Horowitz

Author Marilyn Horowitz

BIO: Marilyn Ida Horowitz is a producer, writing coach, and award-winning professor of screenwriting at New York University. From her books on her trademarked writing system—now standard reading at NYU—to her appearances at Screenwriters World and The Great American Screenwriting Conference & PitchFest, Marilyn has guided the careers of literally hundreds of writers. She is currently featured in the Now Write! Screenwriting Anthology (Tarcher/Penguin) and in the upcoming The Expert Success Solution (Morgan James). Her production credits include And Then Came Love (2007), starring Vanessa Williams.

Follow Marilyn at her website, http://www.marilynhorowitz.com

@marilynhorowitz

Connect with Marilyn on Facebook

 

INTERVIEW:
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Marilyn. 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 but I have self-published my non-fiction books on screenwriting for over fifteen years. Two of these books are textbooks at New York University where I teach.
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 wrote a thriller entitled, The Cold Room, which was optioned before it was ever published.

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 was very fortunate that after eight months and many rejections, I found a home at Koehler Books.

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

A: I didn’t take it personally. Rather, I used the feedback to improve the book. It’s important to remember that something that is original hasn’t been seen before, and people need time to get used to it.

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

A: I self-published my books on screenwriting because I had an audience and could make more money that way.

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

A: I’m a writer. I was relieved not celebratory. I was immediately worried about the next one.

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

A: As I said, I had a built in audience, but I did expand my website and got on Facebook and twitter.

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

A: No, I believe everything works out for the best.

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

A: My new book, The Book of Zev, is coming out in December, and I am in the middle of a new one. I hope my writing is improving 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 have written better, and I would not have relied on agents etc.

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

A: The book isn’t out so I will keep you posted, but hopefully the answer will be the newest book.

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

A: “Heiress” would have been good. 

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

A: Even if I ever get that lucky, I would never stop writing.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

A: Prolific, happy, healthy, successful, respected and financially secure.

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

A: Don’t get it right, get it written – then get it right!

 

The Book of Zev

The Book of Zev

The Book of Zev Synopsis
The Book of Zev is a psychological thriller that tells the story of two gentle people who change the course of history. Zev Bronfman, a strapping 32-year old-virgin, angry atheist, refugee from a religious Jewish life, and former engineer for the U.S. Patent Office in Alexandria, Virginia, drives a cab and sleeps around in New York City. After a bitter divorce, Sarah Hirshbaum, a beautiful, redheaded, depressed, God-hating kosher chef, seesaws between yoga and too much red wine. Independently, the two consult the same psychic who inadvertently sends Sarah Zev’s session tape. When Sarah contacts Zev to pick up the recording, a series of events forces them to connect with a powerful terrorist in order to thwart his plans to destroy the UN and Israel.

Pre-order from Amazon

About the Book
• Paperback: 298 pages
• Publisher: Koehler Books (December 1, 2014)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 1940192781
• ISBN-13: 978-1940192789
• Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.5 inches

The Book of Zev Book Excerpt

What a fool she had been to fall in love with a man, any man. For a brief time the way Michael had made her feel thwarted her chronic nihilism. He had filled her with that most evil thing— hope. Michael resembled Clark Kent from Superman. He was tall and muscular. Dark, curly hair fell forward on his high forehead, framing an intelligent face with a cleft chin. Horn-rimmed glasses topped off his profile. Sarah had hoped the marriage vows would be kept, and furthermore that the two of them would always inhabit that euphoric state known as “being in love.” It had lasted for a year or two, and then somehow, the connection had slipped away. Sarah found herself living with a man who would do anything for her except the one thing she needed.

In short, he had stopped making love to her for over a year before the end. Once she saw that the magic was gone forever, she ended the marriage although her married friends all seemed to have accepted that it was natural for the romance to end, and that a descent into a comfortable sort of brother-sister arrangement was fine. They didn’t understand why she would give up such a good and decent man and risk being alone. Was it “good and decent” not to try to meet the other half of a relationship halfway? She wanted a life filled with romance—and she had never felt as alone as she did on those sexless mornings. The worst was knowing that he hadn’t wanted to try. He kept saying that he couldn’t, but a book she read to try to understand his behavior stated bluntly that “couldn’t” meant “wouldn’t.” She keenly remembered the dreadful recognition when she’d read those words.

Today was the worst so far. Well, it was a Sunday. She felt like the Little Match Girl in the fairytale, who is not allowed to come in out of the snowstorm until all of her matches are sold. The child dies, unloved and unnoticed. Sarah felt the Little Match Girl’s pain and could not comfort herself. She just had to wait it out, and usually this agony would pass into her unconscious because she was too busy prepping a new cooking job. Thanksgiving was the beginning of one of her busy seasons.

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

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

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

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

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

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

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

Worse trait?

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

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

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

Do you have a love interest in the book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His latest book is the crime fiction, Bombshell.

Connect with Mike: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Purchase Bombshell: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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

Interview with Mike Faricy, author of ‘Bombshell’

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

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

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

His latest book is the crime fiction, Bombshell.

Connect with Mike: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Purchase Bombshell: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview with ‘White Sleeper’ Stephen Lankford: ‘It was a long haul getting to this point’

STEPHEN LANGFORD is the veteran writer producer of over one hundred and fifty hours of primetime television writing. His credits include Family Matters and Malcolm and Eddie. He later became a screenwriter writing the motion picture Lovewrecked. His latest produced film is “The Nanny Express” which is running on the Hallmark Channel.

Langford grew up in the Boston area and later attended Emerson College where he received a Bachelor of Science in Film. After college, Langford began working in the motion picture field working for such film directors as Sidney Lumet and Joel Schumacher. Currently Langford lives in Tarzana with his wife Sandy and their two children Allyson and Erica. He is also the proud owner of a Jack Russell terrier named Betty and Chihuahua named Tovah.

More information on White Sleeper can be found on the book’s website at http://www.whitesleeper.com.

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

This is the first time we’ve been published.

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?

I guess you might call it vanity published.  It was a matter of timing.  We finished the book when the economic crisis began so the publishing world was in a turmoil. It seemed the logical route to get around the tectonic shifts that have been going on.

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

It was about eight months.

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

I felt mostly relief.  It was a long haul getting to this point.   We celebrated by doing two book signings in Los Angeles.  I think the most interesting moment was going back to the book store some weeks later and seeing the book on the shelf.

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

Or PR people sent out copies of books to the review bloggers.

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

I think the growth is the in the process of writing a book.   It is probably the most challenging thing you can do as a writer.   I think it overall makes you realize that you can do things that seem out of reach.

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

I think its how books are sold.  Its different from films where we barrage people with advertising to people in seats on a Friday night.   I think, in truth, I’m learning and am surprised every day by it.

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

I guess its that people are getting what we set out to do in the book.   When you’re writing you don’t know if anyone is going to understand what you set out to do and I guess those positive responses are quite heartening.

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

You have to keep pushing and don’t be intimidated by the volume you have to write.  I think that you should try to show your reader a good time but in the same instance show them something they’ve never thought of.

 

 

 

 

Interview with Sharon Donovan: ‘It’s a tough journey that can only be achieved through blood, sweat and tears’

Sharon Donovan lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her family. Prior to the loss of her vision, she worked as a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. Painting was her passion. When she could no longer paint, she began taking creative writing classes. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, Sharon paints her pictures with words. Mask of the Betrayer is her latest book. Other books by Sharon are Echo of a Raven, The Claddagh Ring, Touched by an Angel and Lasting Love. Her Biggest Fan and Charade of Hearts are coming soon. You can visit Sharon at her website at www.sharonadonovan.com or connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/sharon.a.donovan.

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

Multi-published.

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

Raptured was the first book I wrote, but certainly not the first book published. It went through several years of revisions, rejections and title changes before it was published as Mask of the Betrayer.

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?

My first book published was Touched by an Angel, a short story. It was accepted the first time but went through three revisions.

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

Raptured is the first book I received the most rejection letters for. Sadly, the count was 21. The first rejection letter felt like a stab in the heart. After the first string of rejection letters poured in, I took a long, hard look at my manuscript. Deciding I needed to better learn the craft of writing before attempting to submit again, I enrolled in creative writing classes, learned how to take constructive criticism, joined writers groups, attended conferences and read all that I could in the genre of which I love. Suspense.

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

The Wild Rose Press published my first book and I chose them because I met a contact at a writers’ conference. It really pays to network.

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

It was like receiving a reward after a long, hard battle.  My family took me out to dinner to celebrate.

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

Had a website built and a blog. A website showcases my professional side, my books, reviews and videos. My bio and contact information is also listed here. My blog is a personal side of me, listing my interests, things I’m doing as well as author interviews to promote fellow authors. I joined every networking group that I could, did guest blogs and interviews to get the word out.

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

No. Looking back, there are always things I might have done differently, but for the most part, it’s a tough journey that can only be achieved through blood, sweat and tears.

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

I always remember the words of my first writing instructor. She said that the first book written is seldom the first book sold. It made no sense to me at the time, but it does now. My first book wasn’t published for so long because it lacked the skills necessary to make it acceptable. My first book was rejected 21 times and went through several rewrites and several title changes before getting published. I grew as a writer over the years because I learned how to take criticism. If a reader is confused or is dozing off at what you consider a pivotal point in your story, something is wrong. Ultimately, the goal of an author is to please the reader and make them want to read more. I learned that I’m a better writer than I was yesterday, but not as good as I will be tomorrow.

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?

Know everything about the genre in which you want published. Read it, research it, live it. I wasted a lot of time and energy trying to sell my book to literary houses that were not a good fit for my book. Know precisely what your genre and subgenre is and take all the guidelines each publisher writes seriously. If one thing is the slightest bit off, it will be rejected.

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

Being called an author, receiving rave reviews, being nominated and receiving awards, and book signings.

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

I didn’t choose writing as a profession. Contrary to most authors, I never enjoyed writing. I loved to paint and painting picturesque scenery was my passion. My career was as a legal secretary where I prepared cases for judges in the Court of Common Pleas. In my early twenties, I developed diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can lead to progressive blindness. For the next two decades, vision came and went. After one fateful surgery, I lost all vision and all hope. But when I attended a program for the blind and learned how to use a computer with adaptive software, converting text to synthesized speech, a new dream arose. Needing to channel my creative muse, I decided to try my hand at writing. And after a long and winding road, it did. Today, instead of painting my pictures on canvas, I paint my pictures with words.

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

I would say I made lemonade from lemons.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

That’s up to God. I’ve learned the hard way to live each day to the fullest and make each day count. We never know what the morrow will bring.

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

Never give up on a dream. Decide what you want and go after it. Reach for the stars.


Special Note: Sharon, unfortunately, won’t be here with us today because she had a heart attack and is still in the hospital but is on the road to recovery. If everyone would please keep her in your prayers, we would greatly appreciate it. We at Beyond the Book wish her a speedy recovery!  If you wish to leave a comment, please do so at www.sharondonovan.blogspot.com.  Get well, Sharon!

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