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November 17, 2014 in Author Speak | Tags: author, ballroom dancer, choreographer, Colby Marshall, Color Blind, ebooks, fiction, mystery, paperbacks, suspense, thriller, writer | by christytilleryfrench | 2 comments
Don’t get me wrong…if you love e-readers because they help you read more often/easier/in a way that ensures no one on your subway commute can see the cover of your self-help book about how to overcome your intense fear of Slinkies, then have at it. I just know that for me, printed books are my preference. Maybe this is because I write my own books on the computer, so electronic books often automatically become “work” in my mind no matter the author or topic. Maybe it’s because I resist change (I do. I’m pretty much the only person under the age of thirty who still has an AOL e-mail address, and I will cling to my Blackberry until the day someone tries to steal it so fast and violently that they rip my whole hand off with it.). But while those things might be true, I think the most likely reason I lean towards printed books is because they happen to be less dangerous.
Let me explain.
Books are not safe in my house. If I was a book, I would be terrified to live here. Why, you ask? Because the mortality rate of books in my home is extremely high, and none of the causes of early demise for literature around here are particularly painless. Methods of torture for books include being ripped apart by a toddler (who may or may not have inherited my penchant for thrillers, but that’s another post for another time), becoming the hairball-catcher for one of the not-so-naked cats (Yes, there is one naked one), and being buried under a pile of other, heavier books when our makeshift book shelves buckle and send our extensive collection raining to the floor.
But as bad as those fates may be, the worst of them—and the one that accounts for the highest percentage of book deaths in this house—is the very reason I steer clear of the e-reader: the bathtub drop.
I can’t count the number of books we’ve laid to rest due to a dip in the bath bubbles. I’m a tub-reader (Definition: Person who reads in the bathtub, not a person who reads bathtubs). I’m a perpetual workaholic, so the only time I let myself “off” long enough to squeeze in a respectable chunk of a book for fun is when I can rationalize it by pairing it with general human hygiene (sounds psychologically healthy, huh?). This habit benefits my favorite authors immensely; any time a copy meets its watery doom, I shell out several dollars for two more—one to pick up reading where I left off, and another as a backup for when, inevitably, the first of the two new copies makes a splash all its own. I’m pretty sure Katrina Kittle owes a substantial percentage of her sales of The Kindness of Strangers to my serious bathtub addiction.
Which brings me back to why I’m still quite solidly in the books in print on paper camp and will likely remain there for the foreseeable future. If I were to let my e-readers take “swims” as often as my paper books, I’d likely need another job to support my book habit. But this time, I wouldn’t be paying the author a second time for another copy of their book I loved so much—I’d be paying a big company for a new e-reader. So, the idea of simply replacing the damaged merchandise is not only pricier in this situation, but it doesn’t appeal to my sensibilities as much, either. After all, who would you be happier to give a few extra dollars to on a given day? An author whose work has informed, helped, or entertained you, or to a stockholder whose name you don’t even know but who happens to hold a few shares of that e-reader company and has so many dollars in various stock statements that he won’t even notice when the investment you shelled out shows up in his statement numbers, because that amount you spent, while significant to you, didn’t even make a blip on his radar?
Besides…while I don’t think you can be electrocuted by making your e-reader your accidental rubber ducky, I’m just not keen on adding anything into water that contains me that happens to carry a charge of any kind. If by some off-chance it so much as gave me a little zap, I’d probably need to buy a dozen self-help books about how to overcome extreme fear of bathtub shocks. And given that I’d be too traumatized to ever buy another e-reader, everyone would be able to see those books’ covers on my subway commute.
Writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, Colby Marshall has a tendency to turn every hobby she has into a job, thus ensuring that she is a perpetual workaholic. In addition to her 9,502 jobs, she is a proud member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. She is actively involved in local theatres as a choreographer and occasionally indulges her prima donna side by taking the stage as an actress. She lives in Georgia with her family, two mutts, and a charming array of cats.
About COLOR BLIND: There is something unusual about Dr. Jenna Ramey’s brain, a rare perceptual quirk that punctuates her experiences with flashes of color. They are hard to explain: red can mean anger, or love, or strength. But she can use these spontaneous mental associations, understand and interpret them enough to help her read people and situations in ways others cannot. As an FBI forensic psychiatrist, she used it to profile and catch criminals. Years ago, she used it to save her own family from her charming, sociopathic mother. Now, the FBI has detained a mass murderer and called for Jenna’s help. Upon interrogation she learns that, behind bars or not, he holds the power to harm more innocents—and is obsessed with gaining power over Jenna herself. He has a partner still on the loose. And Jenna’s unique mind, with its strange and subtle perceptions, may be all that can prevent a terrifying reality…
Color Blind is Now Available:
On Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/pbs3uts
On Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/pbs3uts
And other places books are sold!
To learn more about Colby and her books, check out her website at www.colbymarshall.com
Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Chris. Tell us about your latest book, Which Exit Angel.
It’s about an angel who hasn’t received her wings yet and a preacher who is questioning his faith. Together they have to stop the coming fight between good and evil. It’s set down the Shore.
Well, I’m hooked with just three sentences! What is a typical writing day like for you?
My assistant gently wakes me with breakfast in bed and coffee just the way I like it. Oh wait. That’s my fantasy. My writing has to fit around the rest of my day. I usually write in the morning and then again in the late afternoon. Sometimes even at night, but everything depends on whether I have the energy or not. I have a husband and two sons who need things from me so they need to come first.
LOL. Love your sense of humor. And I agree, family first. When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
I am a plot-driven writer so I am always in control. I don’t have voices in my head I see movies. I just have to get those movies down on paper.
Movies? That’s interesting and the first time we’ve received an answer like this. How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since I was ten years old. I’ve been writing for publication for about fifteen years.
Tell us a little bit about where you live.
I live in New Jersey. I don’t live in the New Jersey of the Sopranos or Jersey Shore. I actually have woods behind my house and various wild life scampering through my yard including foxes and wild turkeys. My one son is in 4H. You get it. We’re country folk.
I live in the country too and love it. Can’t imagine being an urbanite anymore. Mark Twain said, “Southerners speak music…” Do you have a favorite southern saying you can share with our readers?
Bless his/her heart. You could say a terrible thing, but add that phrase at the end and it makes it all better.
Gosh, I bet I hear that phrase every day. If you could talk for thirty minutes with any author (or person), living or dead, who would it be?
Julia Child. Remember, she’s a cookbook author. I like to cook and love to bake so I would love to have her show me a few advanced techniques. Besides, she led such an interesting life, she would be so fascinating to talk to.
I loved the movie “Julie and Julia” and the way Julia Child was portrayed. What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “Write what you know”?
I think you can start out writing what you know, but I think you can expand it to write what you want to know. My first book had a serial killer in it. Clearly I’m not one, but I was fascinated by them after seeing “Silence of the Lambs”.
I write fiction, mainly suspense, though I’ve got some romantic comedies waiting in the wings.
I love romantic comedies – one of my favorites! Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?
Huge. Both parents were avid readers and we lived a block away from the library. My siblings were so happy when I was old enough to cross the street to get my own stack of books.
One of my favorite memories as a child is walking to the library with my mom and siblings. Any teachers who influenced you…encouraged you or discouraged?
Mrs. Inman was my English teach Senior year of high school. She taught me everything I know about writing. She also had a passion for books. Once day she closed the blinds, turned off the light and had one candle burning on her desk. She read us A Cask of Amontillado. I remember it so vividly even today.
Thanks for joining us today, Chris! For more information about Chris and her works, visit: http://www.chrisreddingauthor.com/
Today the Dames are pleased to shine the spotlight on multi-genre author James Callan. Welcome, Jim! Tell us about your latest book, A Ton of Gold.
My latest published book is a suspense novel. I asked the question, can an old Texas folktale affect the lives of people today. A Ton of Gold was the result. In it, Crystal Moore, a young computer scientist, is thrust into the midst of murder, arson, and kidnapping all because of a long forgotten folktale, coupled with greed. She needs all the help she can get from a former bull rider, a streetwise friend, and a seventy-six your old feisty grandmother. It is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions, or from the publisher, Oak Tree Press.
Wow, sounds great. Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now?
I am just finishing a book on the craft of writing titled: How to Write Great Dialog. Last year, I had been asked to write a book on character development, which was published earlier this year. It was well received, so when asked to write one on dialog, I quickly agreed.
Writing dialog is something every author should strive to get right so I’m sure the book will do well. When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
I always say, it’s my book and I am in control. The characters may not see the big picture I have for the book. But, since they are in the middle of the book and if I’ve crafted them well enough that they begin to talk to me, I listen. More than once, I’ve changed the direction of the book, or the role of a character because of what a character is telling me. I guess the answer is, I maintain control, but I am open to other opinions and if they make sense to me, I will adjust to accommodate them.
A combination of both or in other words, a collaboration between the author and the characters, That’s what works best for me, too. Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?
I read Baldacci and Grisham for their intricate plotting. I read Dick Francis for his smooth flow of words. And I read Jory Sherman for his ability to paint pictures with words.
You have a couple of my favorites in there. What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer.
When I write a scene that makes me cry or laugh, even on the fifth or tenth reading, I know why I spend time writing.
Fabulous answer! There are at least three scenes in Whistling Woman, the book I co-wrote with my sister, that still, even after hundreds, maybe even thousands of times reading, still bring tears to my eyes. Tell us a little bit about where you live.
My wife and I are fortunate to live in two places. We have a lovely home in Texas in the middle of a forest. If we hear a car, we know someone is coming to visit us. It is quiet and peaceful, with a small lake down a gentle slope from the office where I write. But we also have a beautiful place on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It is in the middle of constant activity and music. It is the absolute opposite of our place in Texas. But, we love both of them.
That’s wonderful, you have two very different worlds to choose from. What are the major themes or motifs in your work? Do readers ever surprise you by seeing something else in your stories than you think you wrote?
I would say the major motif in my books is an ordinary person thrust into an extra-ordinary situation. My protagonist is never looking for trouble, thrills, or even excitement. Generally, they are reluctant to get involved. But their sense of justice or duty forces them to become involved. And yes, occasionally a reader sees something I didn’t, an added benefit, so to speak. I love it when that happens.
How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.
I began writing non-fiction because that’s what I knew. I had been in the mathematics and computer science field for twenty-five years. When I started to write, what I knew about was math and computers. But my goal was to write mystery and suspense. That’s what I’ve done for a number of years now and have seven published. But, as I mentioned above, over the last twelve months, I’ve also written two non-fiction books on the craft of writing.
Besides “writer,” what else are you; what is your “day job”?
My two activities now are: writing and traveling. Of course, nowadays, writing must include social media.
Ugh, social media…the love/hate relationship in every author’s life—at least in mine! Where do you get your ideas?
From everywhere. A 95,000 word suspense novel titled A Silver Medallion (due out in 2014) came from a three paragraph story I read in the L.A. Times. A Ton of Gold was the result of reading an old Texas folktale and wondering how such could affect people’s lives today. Several churches were torched in east Texas a few years ago. The arsonists were eventually caught, but no satisfactory motive was ever given. I wondered what a motive would be to burn several churches. Cleansed by Fire resulted. Other books have come from similar prompts. Ideas are floating around us every day. We simply have to ask a few questions. How? What if? Why? Why not?
I’ve always thought it’s amazing how a creative mind can take a flicker of time and turn it into a story or a novel. Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
I like a “real” book. I like the feel, the smell, the familiarity of a paper book. However, e-books are not only here to stay, but are growing in popularity. So, my wife and I each have e-readers. At this point, I’d say I read about half as many books on my Kindle as I do in paper. My wife is probably fifty-fifty. E-publishing will become more important every year. The younger generation is geared to electronic devices. As they become the dominant market for books, e-books will flourish. That may be what saves publishers. With e-books, they have no returns, no remainders, no warehouses of books, less delivery cost, and on and on. We all need to applaud e-books. But, I still like paper books and have a library full of them.
I’m with you and your wife—though I’m probably more at 75% e-books and 25% print, which is usually reserved for my favorite books, the ones I read over and over again. There’s just something about holding them in my hands. How do your characters “come” to you? Are they based loosely or closely on people you know?
Good question. I’d say my characters are based loosely on people I know. Key word here is “based.” I do not model any characters after people I know. But I will take a characteristic of someone I know and let that be the basic characteristic of one of my characters. Beyond that, the character will diverge, sometimes sharply. I don’t think I’ve ever had a character based closely on a person I know—at least, not that I realized.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Jim. I enjoyed learning more about you and your writer’s world. We hope you’ll come back to visit often!
To find out more about Jim and his work, visit the following sites:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1eeykvG
Naming a fictional character is easy for me. Naming a child or a pet? Daunting!
We recently adopted a dog. Very exciting. And burdensome. The Name Game begins. Onerous, at best.
To make matters worse, there seem to be some rules. A real man won’t name his sporting dog Precious. In fact, a more obscure rule dictates that a one-syllable name is best for the hunting canine. Likewise, one shouldn’t name a Siamese cat Butch. Go back to Precious. Precious is good. You shouldn’t name a Chihuahua Pierre, and most definitely, stay away from naming a Great Dane Fluffy.
I conducted my search for the perfect name, taking a history lesson from my past.
As a child, our first family pet was a Pug. I don’t know who named him, but his name was Pug. We lost Pug and adopted another Pug. We named him Pug.
Scrolling back over my adult years, our first pet had another original name. My husband and I were eager to surprise our children with a kitten on Christmas Eve. This proved to be a difficult feat. Finally, we came upon the one lonely cat remaining in a cage. Her eyes were runny, and she coughed and sneezed. We brought her home, anyway. We spent far more money in healing her than on her adoption fee. That novel name? Christmas.
Christmas has long since left us, along with Rudy. He was a gift for Valentine’s Day, as in Rudolph Valentino. Sidney—named after my mentor of several years, Sidney Sheldon, has also departed.
The name Bibelot, French for bauble, suits our white-longhaired Ragdoll who thinks she is a princess. We often call her BB; short for Bibelot Bianca.
The two dogs came next.
Finnigan is a 5 ½ pound Teacup Yorkie rescue dog. That said, we don’t know his original name. The rescue organization named him Finnigan and we liked it. It’s a funny word to say. It’s a name that makes people smile. We sometimes call him Finnie, for short.
A month ago the stork came again to the Corriere home. Finnigan’s Yorkie sister is 3 ½ pounds and fully grown. Oh dear! She makes Finnigan looks like a Mastiff who should have been named Brutus. Or Bruno. Or anything brutal and big.
Our new little baby girl is named Phoebe. The Name Game dilemma was solved, with no rhyme or reason.
Except, that rhyming is a problem we hadn’t considered. We didn’t realize it until we started calling out our pets’ names. It’s kind of like Santa’s Dancer and Prancer, and Blitzen and Vixen.
Come, BB! I mean Finnie! I mean Phoebe!
It’s kind of like we should have taken a hint from George Foreman, and named all of our wee ones George.
OK. I was honest with you. Your turn. What was YOUR most lame name for a pet? And your favorite?
Recently, Lala Corriere’s third suspense novel, Evil Cries, was released as an eBook and will soon be available in trade paperback. Other titles include Widow’s Row and CoverBoys & Curses. Kiss and Kill has a release date of late fall, 2013. Visit website http://www.lalacorriere.com/
Hi, Betty. Welcome to the Dames of Dialogue. Tell us about your latest book, “BROKEN SILENCE #15 OF THE HAWKMAN SERIES”
Annie and Babs Smith, along with their dog, Lucy, are being held hostage. Detective Chandler and his officers, along with Hawkman, trek through the wooded hills in search of the group to no avail. With the help of Hawkman’s new friend Harmon, and his helicopter, they are able to corner the group… but will that be enough to end the trauma?
When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
I might have control for the first 3 or 4 chapters, but as soon as the characters are cast, they take over. There’s no way I can gain control unless I quit and start a new book. However, I thoroughly enjoy the take over as it’s always fun to see where they’re going to lead me.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve dabbled in writing most of my life, but didn’t get serious until the last thirty-five years. The first book of the ‘Hawkman Series’- “THE ENEMY STALKS” took me approximately seven years to complete and many rewrites before I submitted it to a small e-book publisher. This person gave me a fabulous critique; told me to go back to the computer, fix it, then resubmit.. Which I did and found myself a published author within a year. What a thrill. Before I found this publisher, I had a very bad experience with a fraudulent one. Along with several other writers, we were able to drum this bunch off the internet. I no more got settled with my new publisher and had written several more books for the ‘Hawkman Series’, when he announced he was going to have to quit because he needed to work a full time job to support his family and couldn’t do his authors justice. So I was off and running to find another publisher. It wasn’t easy, as I had a series fully developed and adding volumes. What publisher would want me? I lucked out and Deb Staples of SynergEbooks took me under her wing; lock, stock and barrel. I’ve been with her ever since, and stayed very happy.
What is your strongest and/or your weakest area in the creative process?
I find working on the first chapters and the end of my book are my strongest areas. The middle of my book, which should hold my readers with tension and suspense; I slow down and occasionally stumble. Knowing this I pay special attention to this section.
How many hours a day do you write, where, any specific circumstances help or hurt your process?
My hours of writing vary. There are days that I have other things on my agenda-like housework, or I may spend hours marketing. If I do settle in on writing I usually spend anywhere from 3 to 8 hours at the computer in my office. I like it quiet, no music and (if possible, no interruptions).
How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.
I’m a fiction writer of Mystery/Suspense. I love the challenge of plotting scenes.
Where do you get your ideas?
The ‘Hawkman Series’ was born at Copco Lake. This is a lake nestled in the hills of Northern California, We have a home located on the bank where the Klamath River dumps into this body of water. The surrounding area is covered in forest and sparsely populated. Many colorful characters live in the log cabins and shacks scattered through the woods. If you listen carefully the stories are bountiful. An active imagination can take bits and pieces and run with them. Many stories have evolved from this practice and I have many more developing in my mind.
Any family influences? Memoirs in the making?
My whole family has encouraged me from the very beginning not only to write a book, but once I did, they read them. Since I’m a mystery/suspense writer, I have no desire to write memoirs. I will pick out life experiences and use them in my stories, which are fun, especially with my grandma and grandpa who lived on a farm and were poor as church mice.
Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
Yes, I have a Kindle and love it. Electronic publishing is wonderful. I’ve always said that one day we’d be reading books on our cell phones, and we are. Great way to get younger kids into a reading habit. They were practically born with a reader in their hands. I think e-books are a boon for all of us.
How do your characters “come” to you? Are they based loosely or closely on people you know?
Hawkman, my protagonist in the ‘Hawkman Series’, was in my head for years before I finally put him on paper. Other characters were figments of my imagination, and I’m sure they have mannerisms I’ve observed in other people. I love doing the colorful personalities of the extras in my stories. Some were eccentric, others odd looking with idiosyncrasies.
Are you in a critique group? If so, how does it work and specifically how do the members help your writing?
Yes. The group is very diverse. I’m very weak in grammar and without the help of some of the members, I’d never get published. They are also excellent in catching typos and sequence problems.
12-What’s your attitude toward the standard advice: write what you know?
I have no problem with ‘write what you know’, as long as you’re willing to do research on things you don’t know. No one person can know everything, so regardless of whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, you’ll need to spend time looking things up. You want your information to be as accurate as possible.
HAWKMAN SERIES (urls for each book)
STAND ALONE THRILLERS
July 3, 2013 in Author & Celebrity Interviews | Tags: 13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy, author, Cherokee, fiction writer, L.A. Starks, Strike Price, suspense, thriller, writer | by christytilleryfrench | 12 comments
Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, L.A. Tell us about your latest book, STRIKE PRICE.
When several people involved in bidding for an oil refinery are murdered, the situation becomes far more than a billion-dollar business deal.
A self-made woman in the oil industry, Lynn Dayton fights to save lives as escalating attacks reveal a hired assassin’s plan to disrupt oil trade, wreck world economies, and draw another global power into dangerous confrontation with the United States.
Are the killers rogue civil servants challenging the Cherokees’ financial independence, Sansei operatives again wreaking violence, or sinister investors swapping the bidding war for a real one?
Lynn Dayton and Cherokee tribal executive Jesse Drum must learn to trust each other so they can find and stop the killers. Can sobering up really be fatal? How have so many of the deaths been made to appear accidental? Who’s creating weapons with modern poisons and ancient Cherokee arts?
Okay, I’m hooked. Being of Cherokee heritage, I’m really intrigued with this story. Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?
In fiction, I read thriller/mystery authors like Vince Flynn—my thoughts go to his family upon his recent death—as well as Dan Brown, Taylor Stevens, Alex Berenson, Jamie Freveletti, Joseph Finder, Linda Fairstein, Daniel Silva, Tana French, Michael Connelly, and John Grisham.
I also like to read international authors and those who give a strong sense of place like Tom Rob Smith, Martin Cruz Smith, Aravind Adiga’s White Tiger, Helon Habila’s Oil on Water, everything by Herta Müller and Ferdinand von Schirach, George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone, and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. I recently finished Henry Beston’s The Outermost House, a book first published in 1928 that is not about a house at all but about a year spent observing nature where the ocean meets the land on Cape Cod. The liveliness of what could have been tedious nature writing was instructive.
Very sad news about Vince Flynn. I love his work. Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
I am repeating a truth I’ve heard from other writers—promotion starts with writing the best book you can. Getting good reviews for a well-written book is never assured, but from both my business and reader backgrounds, third-party endorsements are more persuasive to readers than simple self promotion.
Extending this thought, while it’s a do-it-yourself world, it’s helpful to realize that publicists are better-equipped than authors to reach out in certain ways. If an author can afford a publicist, even on a limited scale, it makes the author’s own efforts more time-efficient.
When I give a short talk at a signing, I vary the selections I read depending on the audience’s interests. Promotion is about selling the book, yes, but at the most basic level that comes from connecting with readers, inviting them into the world one has created.
Great answer. What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
Of course I enjoy it when people tell me they’ve read and liked my books. As writers, we all hope to communicate well and are pleased when told we have done so.
One of my favorite times as a writer is when my muse and my internal editor have a congenial meeting (no scotch or hallucinogens involved): I read something I’ve written arising from who-knows-where, and think, “That’s good.”
I do love that feeling! Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
I find inspiration in experience, in conversation, in news, in overheard phrases that are especially colorful. I meet occasionally with two fellow writers who kindly provide critique and feedback (a quick plug for Gary Vineyard’s The Grave on Peckerwood Hill and Richard Holcroft’s Patriot’s Blood.)
I get inspiration from travel—anything that jars routine is valuable.
I read for fun, but I try not to mimic the style of what I’m reading.
I also get inspiration from considering all five senses—it’s too easy to over-rely on the sense of sight.
I have attended International Thriller Writer’s summer conference, Thrillerfest—which in fact starts next week—when I can afford it, though not this year. Thrillerfest features terrific panels for authors at all stages.
And finally, to be frank, deadlines are definitely underrated as a source of inspiration.
Five senses – I’ve had to teach myself to tap into this when writing. And deadlines – best inspiration I’ve found yet since I’ve become a procrastinator. What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “Write what you know”?
Riffing on Elmore Leonard, I would say that “write what you know” is good advice, if what you know isn’t boring. The first draft of my first book was hypertechnical for any reader who didn’t happen to be a refinery engineer: the very definition of a limited market. So the first draft required a lot of reworking.
What I know is the warp and woof of certain situations, but others—forensics, some action sequences–require research. Overlaying all is the importance of plot and of character interactions, the meat that leads to emotional involvement for readers.
I have found through writing a love for research. How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.
I categorize my books as thrillers with strong mystery subplots. In many mysteries, a death or deaths has happened, and the quest of the protagonist is to discover the killer. In both modern thrillers and mysteries, as in my books, the protagonist is also at personal risk.
In thrillers, we know the villains and the quest of the protagonist is to stop their deadly schemes, which are usually global in scope, with hundreds or even millions of lives at risk. Moreover, in thrillers, there is an escalation, and usually one or many chases. INFERNO by Dan Brown is a current example of a thriller that can be characterized as one long, fascinating chase scene.
In my books, the reader knows one of the villains but not all of them; thus, she knows some of the scheme but not all of it. The threat is international, and it escalates in each chapter.
Beside “writer,” what else are you; what is your “day job”?
I grew up in the energy business and worked in engineering and finance for well-known oil companies. I continue to consult, speak, and teach on the subjects of energy economics and investing via my company, Starks Energy Economics (SEE). In addition to articles on the SEE website, I have been published a few times on the investor website Seeking Alpha.
Any family influences? Memoirs in the making?
This book is dedicated to the memory of my younger sister, who died from a virulent, difficult-to-detect form of metastatic breast cancer. I stopped writing for about two years to spend time with her. After her death, it was difficult to resume writing. I pushed through completion precisely because I’d promised myself this was her book.
In the first book in the series, 13 DAYS: THE PYTHAGORAS CONSPIRACY, there was one character my sister felt deserved a different fate. I took that into account when I wrote STRIKE PRICE.
So sorry about your sister but what a wonderful tribute to her. Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?
Yes, and they still are.
An area in which I’ve made a big time commitment the last few years has been as board treasurer of the Friends of the Dallas Library, a fund-raising and advocacy group that supports the 29 branches of the Dallas Public Library. This involvement stems directly from my affection for the summer reading programs at my hometown library when I was growing up.
My love of books began with childhood trips to the library with my mother and siblings. Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
Yes, and I am about to buy an improved model. However, I was glad when Lisa Smith at L&L Dreamspell decided to publish STRIKE PRICE in electronic and print editions.
I understand business models and so appreciate that e-publishing radically lowers physical operating costs once—and this is a big once—e-readers are manufactured and sold: no warehouses, no shipping, no retail except a website. E-publishing reduces the immediate book costs to readers and reduces the barriers to entry for authors, making hundreds of thousands more books available. And e-readers are portable, although there is a prediction they may lose market share to more-portable-and-useful smart phones and tablets.
At the same time, because it is an enormous market and there is less differentiation, e-publishing imposes additional search-and-sort time costs on readers and exponentially increases author and publisher effort to stand apart from the crowd. In addition, sometimes using an e-reader can feel like just more time staring at a screen, e.g. work.
As an engineer I like print books as physical objects—their design, color, heft. I appreciate the thought and cost of a print book’s exterior and interior design. When I talk to a group at a signing, it is easier to sign and sell print editions. And, in the case of STRIKE PRICE, the publisher was able to use the authentic Cherokee syllabary font in the print edition that was impractical in e-reader formats.
Overall, e-publishing benefits readers and authors because it expands the diversity and channels of distribution.
Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block?
I am subject to writer’s block when I don’t have a deadline and when, as now, the next book’s outline is still amorphous. So it helps to create intermediate deadlines to pull myself along.
Like other authors who crave research and information, I find the Internet a huge distraction, so I look for places to write where there is no ready Wi-Fi. In fact, I have a separate laptop, and office, specifically to limit online access and to escape my barking dog.
I tend to suffer from writer’s block for the very same reason and agree about the distraction of the internet. Thanks for joining us today, LA! For more information about LA and her books: http://lastarksbooks.com/
13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy: http://www.amazon.com/13-Days-Pythagoras-Conspiracy-Starks/dp/1933285451/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1295445095&sr=8-2 http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/13-days-the-pythagoras-conspiracy-la-starks/1105643010?ean=9781933285450 http://www.booksamillion.com/search?id=4391452838551&query=13+Days%3A+The+Pythagoras+Conspiracy&where=Books&search.x=53&search.y=8&search=Search http://www.gohastings.com/product/BOOK/13-Days-The-Pythagoras-Conspiracy/sku/240405533.uts http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/search/?keywords=13%20Days%3A%20The%20Pythagoras%20Conspiracy&pageSize=12&cookieCheck=1 http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/13-Days-The-Pythagoras-Conspiracy/book-Za1qXXGyC0CWbrwsvDfKyg/page1.html?s=J9jFDmRLTUSUZN3OFz6u5g&r=1 http://www.indiebound.org/hybrid?filter0=13+Days%3A+The+Pythagoras+Conspiracy&x=53&y=4
By Laurel-Rain Snow
Tell us about your latest book:
Status Quo, which is published through Penumbra Publishing revolves around Alex Copeland, a twenty-five-year-old rookie school teacher who is offered the opportunity of a lifetime—to join a small civilian crew and travel to outer space to investigate a mysterious wormhole presumed to have been created by an alien species. Alex is convinced that they are being sent as ambassadors of Earth in establishing first contact. Alex is immediately suspicious.
Meeting the crew only adds to his suspicions. Sara Maxwell, the daughter of the astronomer who made the discovery, has spent the last seven years in a mental institution. The ship’s pilot is a teenage boy whose only flight experience is on a simulator. The ship’s doctor is a novice who wants nothing to do with the mission. There’s also a convicted murderer, a troubled teenage girl on the brink of suicide and a kitten on board.
Absolutely no one chosen for this mission has any sort of astronaut training or experience. And worst of all, the project director’s agenda appears to be making sure that the ship and all aboard never return to Earth. This ragtag crew has to find a way to work together and figure out the true mission before it’s too late. Trapped in a foreign galaxy on a damaged ship and with both human and alien threats around, the odds are not in their favor.
Also, to let you know, partial proceeds from Status Quo will be donated to The American Cancer Society for breast cancer research through the Bosom Buddies organization. It’s a good read and it helps a great cause.
The first two chapters of Status Quo are available both on amazon.com and on my website, www.markrosendorf.com
How long have you been writing?
Whether it was online fanfic or novels that never got finished, I have basically been writing all my life. It was in 2009 when The Rasner Effect, a psychological suspense/thriller was published through L&L Dreamspell. This was followed by two sequels, Without Hesitation: The Rasner Effect part 2 and Rasner’s Revenge which wrapped up the Rasner series. This series revolves around Rick Rasner, a psychotic killer and part of the mercenary group, The Duke Organization. He is captured by the government and used for an experiment where a chip is put inside his head to suppress his emotions. Hypnosis is used to remove his memories. Can he change his nature, especially when placed in a residential facility as a therapist for angry and troubled teens? Also, what happens when The Duke Organization finds him? That’s just the beginning of the story…then the twists and turns come out. Along with The Rasner series, I also had a story featured in the anthology, Cat in a Dreamspell.
While I love The Rasner Effect series just as much as my readers, my dream growing up was always to write science fiction. I promised myself that if I could come up with a unique and interesting science fiction story which inspired me, I would write it. Status Quo is that story.
Besides “writer,” what else are you; what is your day job?
At night, I am a writer of suspense and science fiction. However, by day, mild-mannered Mark Rosendorf is a high school guidance counselor in the New York City school system working with special needs students. I hold mandated therapy sessions for a diverse set of students with disabilities that include learning, mental and emotional. My job is to help them build their confidence, achieve their potential and prepare them on a life past the schooling stage.
Who were your favorite authors as a child? Have they influenced your writing career in any way?
Believe it or not, the author who influenced my writing career at a young age was my mother. Although she was not a professional writer at the time (years later, she wrote computer textbooks which had been published), she used to write and illustrate stories for three year old me so I would learn how to read. Each morning, a new book about a girl named “Fat Pat” would wait for me by my bed. Looking back, the artwork was simple since my mother was not an artist, but the dialogue was all based on simple phonics. (“Fat Pat sat on a mat, Fat Pat had a cat. Fat Pat wore a hat”). Those books accomplished my mother’s goal, which was to teach me to read. With each book, she changed the phonics in the dialogue and they would all end the same way, “The End: Mark’s Book.” By the time I entered Kindergarten, my reading was a year ahead of the class. More importantly, I am sure this is the spark that led to my becoming an author in adulthood.
Have any teachers influenced, encouraged or discouraged you?
Encouragement came from a number of teachers who appreciated my writing ability, I specifically remember my seventh grade creative writing teacher predicting in front of the entire class that I would someday become a published author.
As far as discouragement, that award goes to my college sophomore English teacher. She loved persuasive and feminist analysis essays (even though 90 percent of the class was male). After earning nothing but “A’s” on any essay I had ever written, my first paper with her received a “C-. “ She called it too opinionated and that I tried too hard to persuade.
The next essay, I followed all of her instructions and worked hard to show her my writing ability. That paper also received a “C-.” She said it wasn’t opinionated enough and didn’t work hard enough to persuade.
The third essay assigned was a persuasive essay on ethics. Feeling I couldn’t do anything right with this teacher, I copied FDR’s speech on the importance of ethics. I figured if it was good enough to persuade the nation, perhaps it would be good enough for this crazy teacher. She gave it a “C+.” No explanation, but at least FDR helped raise my average a bit.
For the fourth essay, I became relentless. I was determined to get an “A” from this crazy teacher. I wrote, rewrote, revised and followed everything she taught. I even included most of the outrageous personal opinions she spouted during lectures. I handed in the paper thinking she couldn’t possibly have issues with this one. When I received it back, there was no grade, just “see me after class” written across the top.
She told me that the essay was so well written it couldn’t possibly have been my work. I must have plagiarized it. After a long “difference of opinion,” I told her that the paper was, indeed, my work, and unless she could prove it was plagiarized (which she couldn’t since it wasn’t), she had to accept and grade it.
The next week, she informed me that she could not find proof of plagiarism. She apologized, then agreed to accept and grade the paper, which she did. She gave it a “C-. “ I, in turn, dropped the class.
Wow, what an experience! It sounds like you won that round, but she had to have the last word with that grade. That said, where do you get your ideas?
I’m not sure how they pop into my head, but when they do, I have to be ready. My ideas hit my lightning: one great bright blast, then suddenly, it’s gone. This is why I need to get them in writing just as soon as they hit. I keep notepads everywhere for this reason. There’s a notepad and pen by my bed, in my car and even hanging outside my shower.
If you could talk for thirty minutes to one author, living or dead, who would it be?
I would like the Mark Rosendorf, the guidance counselor, to have a session with Mark Rosendorf the author. Maybe he could find out how all these crazy ideas pop into my head.
Wouldn’t we all like to know more about the source of our creativity? What is your weakest area in the creative process?
Without a doubt, my weakest area is the editing. It’s a long, tedious process that grinds against my nerves even more than the actual writing. At least with the writing, I can express my creativity and turn the pictures in my head into words on paper. The editing is less creative and more technical. It’s practically the calculus of the writing process.
What’s your attitude toward the standard advice: write what you know?
I would add to it: write what you know, but exaggerate and sensationalize it. I’m sure almost every fiction story out there is an event the author went through in their life, but turned, twisted and exaggerated with a different backdrop.
What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
FAN MAIL! There’s nothing I enjoy more than getting responses from readers wanting to discuss my work. Whether the letter is positive (“Wow, this should be a movie”) or negative (“I wouldn’t line my birdcage with the pages of your book”), it still gives me a sense of accomplishment to know that people have taken the time to read what I’ve spent time writing. This is why I answer every single piece of e-mail I receive…provided it’s not an advertisement.
Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
As a reader, I’m not a big fan of electronic readers. I prefer a real book in my hands with paper and a cover. As a writer, I can’t deny the direction that the publishing world is taking. E-readers are here to stay and I know this because two thirds of my sales come from e-books. (I expect that number will climb)
Despite this, I still prefer real books, even as an author, because I can’t personally autograph a kindle. I tried once and almost got punched for it.
Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now of what’s coming next?
For now, my writing is about to be temporarily placed on hold. I’ve recently proposed to my wonderful girlfriend, now fiancée, and we are in the process of both getting a new place and planning a wedding. For the immediate future, my time will be spent putting together the next happy and romantic chapter of the story that is my life. But, be assured, the fiction world has not heard the last of Mark Rosendorf. I have two great stories on the burner that are waiting to be told. For updates or to send mail, check out www.markrosendorf.com/
Thanks for joining us, Mark, and we’ll be watching to see what you do next. And congratulations on your happy and romantic chapter.
I have been a fan of Christy Tillery French’s books for many years now and with each book she brings something new to the table. In the past it’s been suspense, thrillers, mysteries, and even romantic comedy. I’ve enjoyed them all but with her newest, Obsolete, she tops them all. Obsolete, a futuristic, dystopian nail-biter, is a cross between Stephen King’s The Stand and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. It is Ms. French’s best yet and one I’m sure I’ll read over and over again (I’ve already read it three times!), just as I have the aforementioned novels.
After a Blue Pox pandemic nearly wipes out the human race, including 18-year-old Madison’s family, she goes looking for other people. She soon finds a horse walking down the middle of the interstate, names him Boomer, and takes him along as she continues her search. In time, she finds Katherine, a former anthropologist. The two team up and eventually arrive at a small college campus in East Tennessee where a group of women are living.
Katherine becomes the leader of the group and Callie, a former prison guard is made head of security. Callie hates men and before long convinces Katherine that the community would be better off with only women. They decide to imprison any men, or “others” as they call them, and use them for slave labor. The younger men will not only be forced to work, they will also be used in their procreation plan; mating young women of childbearing age with the men in order to increase the population of the community.
Madison doesn’t agree with their plans but can’t bring herself to question the woman who saved her life. She loves Katherine and considers her family, and she doesn’t want to go against her, but she’s reluctant to accept Katherine’s and Callie’s plans for the all-women community they’ve named Androk. And she especially doesn’t want to be a part of their procreation plan, until Sarah, heavily pregnant, and Seth arrive.
Seth, of course, is taken into custody while Sarah is taken to the infirmary to await the imminent birth of her child. When the baby, a boy, is born, Katherine and Callie threaten to take him away. Maddie and a nurse convince Katherine that the baby needs to stay with Sarah since her breast milk give him the nutrients he needs to fight off the blue pox. Maddie and Sarah both know it’s only a temporary retrieve and Sarah asks Maddie to help her and Seth escape.
Maddie agrees and she tells Katherine she’ll be a part of the procreation plan as long as she can pick the man she’s to mate with. She chooses Seth. Katherine agrees and Maddie and Seth spend their time together plotting an escape plan for him, Sarah, and the baby. The escape is successful and thanks to the help of some other women in the commune, Maddie’s part in the plan isn’t discovered.
Soon after, Jonah enters the camp and is taken into custody. Maddie sees him and is immediately drawn to him so when Katherine insists that she once again participate in the procreation plan, Maddie agrees with the same condition as before.
This time she chooses Jonah…and the rest, you might say, is yet to be written history. Well, actually, Ms. French has already written it but I don’t want to include any spoilers in this review so I’ll leave it to you to find out for yourself what happens.
Ms. French has an adept hand at writing characters the reader will become emotionally attached to. They are believable, likable, except of course, when they’re not—another thing she excels at is creepy villains!—and with her realistic dialogue, the reader often feels as if they could join right in the conversation happening on the page. Ms. French deftly interweaves several sub-plots which keep the reader turning the pages, and as always, her secondary characters, especially Micah in this book, are the absolute best and relatable enough that you feel as if they’re personal friends by the end of the book. Villain, heroine, hero, Ms. French creates characters who never fail to draw some sort of response from her readers.
The real story in Obsolete is, of course, the survival of the human race, with Maddie and Jonah’s romance playing out in the background. Will the human race survive and will men and women be able to exist in peace or will they turn on each other, therefore, almost guaranteeing the extinction of the species? Can Maddie and Jonah get past what he sees as her betrayal? Will they realize before it’s too late that there’s another of Katherine’s security women who wants them dead?
In Obsolete, CT French (aka Christy Tillery French) gives us a thrilling—or should I say chilling?—glimpse into a dystopian future where women—some of them, anyway—are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore! This is one for my keeper shelf—er, my keeper file on my Kindle, it’s not available in print yet but I hope it soon will be!—and it comes highly recommended. If you liked The Hunger Games or The Stand, give Obsolete a try. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Review by Betty Dravis, Amazon Vine/Top Reviewer
“Nobody Has to Know” blazes through your mind with an original kind of perversity. I can’t believe how good Frank Nappi is, whether he’s writing about military veterans, an autistic baseball player and his caring coach (as in previous award-winning books, see endnote below) or about illicit feelings of love and lust between a teacher and his student…as in this shocking, gripping book.
According to Amazon’s book description: “‘Nobody Has to Know,’ Frank Nappi’s dark and daring new thriller, tells the story of Cameron Baldridge, a popular high school teacher whose relationship with one of his students leads him down an unfortunate and self-destructive path. Stalked through text-messages, Baldridge fights for his life against a terrifying extortion plot and the forces that threaten to expose him. Nobody Has to Know is a sobering look into a world of secrets, lies and shocking revelations, and will leave the reader wondering many things, including whether or not you can ever really know the person you love.”
Why is Baldridge attracted to the young girl in the first place, especially when he has such a good, normal life: nice job, lovely fiancée, the whole works? What problems does she share with him? What happens to interrupt their budding attraction/addiction to each other? After a tragedy, how does someone find out about his frightening predicament?
How does his fiancée react when she learns “another person’s” version of the truth? And most important, does this unfortunate teacher ever get his life back?
Nappi answers those questions and more as he transports his readers through an intricate web of lies, deceit and betrayal (first by Baldridge; later, directed at him). Although it’s hard for most people to sympathize with a man with such “lustful” desires–no matter how altruistic they seem to him at the time–Nappi weaves his story in such a way that Baldridge is, indeed, a very sympathetic character…a victim of circumstances beyond his control.
In fact, I generally view vice and foils with scorn, profound dismay and tragic sympathy, but my feelings for Baldridge are such that I view the actions of his extortionist (and others who may be helping) to be far more reprehensible than what he has contemplated… My heart goes out to him.
But you will have to read for yourself and form your own opinion.
Even though this is Frank Nappi’s first thriller, he pulled it off to perfection! He made his characters come alive in the high drama of real life. In my opinion, Nappi always hits his mark; I’ve never begun a Nappi book and been able to put it down. As always, he paints his characters in such a fashion that I feel like I know them. Just as in real life, I care for some and hate others, depending on their deeds. In this book, the only one I really cared for was this teacher; even though he was not always a paragon of virtue, he was human and tried to do the right thing.
And Nappi’s pacing is spot on; I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough…er, perhaps with so many people using e-readers, I should say “couldn’t scroll fast enough.” 🙂
Be forewarned: After a series of hair-raising twists and turns (that not even the most cunning reader will guess), the ending left me gasping for breath. I’m still panting as I think back on it (an unforgettable kind of book).
Endnote: I have been a huge fan of author Frank Nappi since I read his debut novel, the award-winning “Echoes from the Infantry: A Novel” in 2005. At that time I predicted he would be a huge star in the literary world. And my faith in his great potential was rewarded; since then he has gone on to write “The Legend of Mickey Tussler: A Novel” which was released as a film last September and is now a DVD. Movie title is “A Mile in His Shoes,” starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Next, Nappi penned “Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel,” the exciting sequel which is also slated for film.
Dare I say, “I told you so?” I dare! And now I say: “Frank Nappi will soon be a household name!” You know, like James Patterson, Stephen King, Dean Koontz…and the list goes on. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer man; Nappi is a very popular school teacher in real life; happily married with two teen sons.
There’s trouble in the neighborhood of the Grapevine Detective Agency. A woman is murdered minutes after leaving a mysterious envelope with the owner of a local bar, a nearby wig shop is broken into and vandalized, and a black car constantly cruises the neighborhood. Neighbor Helen Tattaglia asks the detective agency to follow her husband, son of the head of a crime organization, but Elvin Suggs, Di Redding, and their friend Cobra, a former Marine sniper, are a bit suspicious of her real reason for hiring them. When the owner of the bar and Helen are subsequently murdered, Detective Reggie Combs calls on his friends at the detective agency to help look into the murders. Their investigation leads them back to the Tattaglia family and a doctor of ill-repute performing mysterious experiments.
This latest installment of the `Nam Noir series is as thrilling as ever. Applewhite’s unique writing style – think hard-boiled meets cozy – is intriguing and makes for an enjoyable read. The diverse personas of Elvin, Di and Cobra are a good combination and enhance the fast-moving plot. Readers will be challenged as they try to solve this not-so-easy-to-figure-out whodunit.