A Perfect 10 with John Howell

A Perfect 10 with John Howell

Today we sit down with John Howell, author of the John J. Cannon series and wonderful blogger. John gives us some great insight into his writing as a craft and as a business.

Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10

If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:

A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler, Dawn Reno Langley

Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com


1)    Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I must say there are times when I experience both. When I’m having a particularly tough time with a plot point, I feel as if I have gone ten rounds with a welterweight. I’m not just talking mental tiredness but physical as well. My neck is sore, back hurts and I have all the symptoms of physical exertion. Once the plot point is solved, I immediately go into a state that duplicates euphoria. Usually, though, writing energizes me if I keep my bouts of writing at a reasonable level. When working on a novel I usually put in no more than one thousand words a day.

2)    Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

I have never written under a pseudonym. I never even thought to do so. I have nothing against pen names, but I do not have a high-profile persona or outside life that needs protection from the public.  Another thing is I just could not imagine having someone else take credit for my work. I guess if the world knew my pseudonym was me I wouldn’t mind. Of course, then the pseudonym would be worthless. Also, I don’t plan on writing so many books that I would need a pseudonym to mask the fact that I’m publishing a lot. Aren’t you glad you asked?

3)    Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

I think every writer needs to have a healthy dose of ego. I have seen huge egos get in the way of good work. I’m thinking of one writer who has such an enormous ego that there is no end of arguments between reviewers and him. Of course, this does not help the writing process and tends to limit the fan base. I believe a writer must have enough ego to be able to withstand the working alone creative process and ultimate judgment of the reader.

4)    What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I ever spent as a writer is for professional editing. I cannot imagine putting a book together without the aid of an editor. There are so many ways a writer can lose sight of certain word crutches and bad writing habits that the money spent on an editor is a bargain.

5)    What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

I think writing success looks like being able to craft an entire book and have people who you don’t know read it and then write a review saying they loved it. Yes, I have achieved it.

6)    What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

My research consists of reading about the item in question or visiting the location in question. When I begin a book, I don’t do any research at all. I’m a pantser you see, and most of the research needs come up as the story develops. Once I realize I need to do the research it usually takes several hours per subject. I had to do a lot of the investigation on the John Cannon Trilogy since I knew next to nothing about boats, automatic weapons, explosives, P 51 Mustang airplanes, the Muslim religion, emergency procedures on various kinds of aircraft, FBI procedures, Navy SEALs, and sex. (just kidding there) I use the internet to find answers to my questions. As you can imagine, Homeland Security has me on speed dial. The location research requires trips to various places that I want to mention.

 7)    How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

My character names come to me while I am establishing their identity. I will pick a name that I think will fit a character and then after some scenes, I could be forced to change the name since it no longer fits. I have two characters in a book that will be published in 2017 who had different names all the way until final edit. The names did not fit their personalities, so I had to make the switch. In this case, I was able to make the switch without a problem. I have never regretted a character name, but on a couple of occasions, I found that I had spelled the names differently in different parts of the book. That would have been embarrassing. I guess a less complicated name would have prevented this problem.

8)    What is the hardest type of scene to write?

The hardest scene for me to write are those scenes that I am pulling from a real-life experience. We have all had certain times in our lives that have been challenging and periods of great joy. When I try to draw on those times as part of my character development, I have difficulty simply writing down and expressing the emotions. I suppose the real feelings have been buried over time, so it takes a revisit to the period to experience the pleasure or pain all over again.

9)    If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

The four people I would like to invite to dinner would be Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, Elmore Leonard, and Neville Shute. I would ask them to relate the highest point they achieved in their writing and why they think it is the highest. I would also love to ask about the lowest point as well.

10)    What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

The platform that has brought the most success in marketing my books must be my blog. I can see that on a long-term basis a consistent building of the idea that I have books available to read is a good thing. On the short term, I think EReader News has had the biggest impact on a sales rise over a discrete period.

I would like to promote Our Justice the third book in the John J. Cannon Trilogy


The terrorist leader and financier Matt Jacobs figured out a plan to eliminate the President. He is relying on John Cannon’s stature as a hero to help him carry it off. John finds himself walking the fine line of pretending to help Matt while trying to figure out a countermeasure to the plan.

The third book in the John J. Cannon Trilogy brings together two strong wills for a showdown. The question to be answered is who will feel the satisfaction that the achievement of justice delivers John, Matt or neither?

Buy Our Justice:


About John:

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories.  His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016.  All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Connect with John:

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Authors db –http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/6604-john-w-howell

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/

Google +https://plus.google.com/+JohnHowellAuthor/

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

A Perfect 10 with Dawn Reno Langley

A Perfect 10 with Dawn Reno Langley

This week I’m pleased to be able to welcome Dawn Reno Langley to sit down and answer some questions. She gives us a great deal of insight into her writing and her motivation. I hope you enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10.]

If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:

A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler

Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com



  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both!  I’ve woken from a sound sleep too many times to count.  A line will run through my head and make me pull out of traffic to jot it into my phone.  I’ll cut a shower short to grab the pad of paper and pen that is always nearby.  The ideas and the creation energize me completely, and the actual rewriting exhausts me (though I do feel a kind of manic energy during that period, too).  Long and short of it, it’s what puts the bunny in my battery!

  • Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

Yes, I have done so in the past because an editor/publisher wanted to switch gears for my career.  It did not work.  In fact, I credit it with creating a huge roadblock that made it almost impossible for me to move forward.  Not only that, but I’d spent an enormous amount of time and energy establishing my writing name, and when they decided to change it, it meant I needed to start building that new name from the ground level.  Never again.

  • Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

A big ego doesn’t help ANYbody.  If you think you are untouchable, you lose contact with what matters most: finding the story your readers might find engaging.  Besides, an egotistical person is a biatch, and who wants to be that person?

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Buying my own books and gifting them to special readers.  The gift of a novel is something people still cherish, and usually, those readers are invaluable for they will offer an evaluation of the work that comes from the heart.  At least that’s been my experience so far.

  • What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

The pinnacle of writing success to me would be to win a major award or make a bestseller list. I would love to experience a solid respect as a writer, to have other writers enjoy my book, and to engage in discussions based upon the issues my novels raise.

And I want to give back.  I’ve been involved with social justice issues for years, and now I’d like to celebrate the publication of my novel THE MOURNING PARADE (July, 2017, Amberjack Publishers) by donating a portion of the proceeds of the book to several elephant rights and sanctuary organizations.

No, I haven’t achieved that writing success yet, but I’m getting there!

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

Okay, the best way to answer this question is to describe exactly what I’m going through with the novel I’m currently polishing up to send off to my publisher.  I’ve been working on this one for a while, mainly because the subject matter is a sensitive one.  Through the re-workings, the story changed a bit, the point-of-view changed several times, and one character who was minor in the first few drafts ended up being the major storyteller.

From the very first breath of this idea, I was researching.  The topic is directly related to my PhD dissertation and became the second half of that dissertation: a complete novel influenced directly from the subject I had chosen to study: the voices of transgender authors, pre- and post-transition. Throughout the writing process (which has now spanned over five years), I return to the research over and over again.  One of the major characters is a psychologist, so I need to be certain of terminology.  Another is a gamer, so I did extensive research to ascertain the lingo he might use. And, of course, the father of the family in the story is transgender, so I consumed transgender memoirs like they were Godiva brownies.

I’m in the final stages of a polish of this manuscript before it goes to my editor for her comments, and I’m still doing research.  Just this afternoon, I read something and wrote a note on a post-it to insert in one of the upcoming chapters.

It never ends.

  • How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

Sometimes I have a very particular idea of what a character should be named, but most of the time I do not believe in the Dickensian names that depict a character’s personality or failing.  My characters’ names will tell you more about their family’s origin or heritage, though I often spin that on its ear by calling someone by a name that depicts a totally different type of character.  I’ve talked about this every time I teach creative writing and use my own sister’s name as an example.  When you give someone a name and ask them to describe the person, you can often predict what they might say, and if it’s predictable, then I’ll do the opposite and provide a bit more interest regarding why the character is unpredictable from the start.

Yes, I’ve regretted using the same personal term for two mothers in two different novels.  I never realized a tendency toward using some similar phrases or personal traits.  Now that I’m aware of it, I’m hyper sensitive about making sure the names are not at all like any of the characters in other stories I’ve written.

  • What is the hardest type of scene to write?

I believe that, for me anyway it’s difficult to write a scene where there’s a group of people talking.  Keeping them all distinctive, yet engaged in the general line of discussion is hard to do.  People are often confused unless an author slows down and uses some internal dialogue or extensive description to anchor the reader.  I have to remind myself to do that and have learned to use tags associated with certain characters from the beginning so they will still stand out as individuals in group scenes.

  • If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

I’ve answered this question several times throughout my life, and thinking back, I realize my answer was different each time because of where I was in my life.

At this point, there are three deceased family members I’d want to have dinner with and one philosophical leader who’s very much alive.  My mother, my father, my ex-husband Bobby, and the Dalai Lama.

The question for my mother:  did you hear us talking over your bed when you were taking your last breaths?

My father:  did you have any regrets?

Bobby:  why did you choose to kill yourself?

The Dalai Lama:  how can I help those I love heal?

  • What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

I’m trying to figure out the answer to that question right now.  I’m deep into marketing the new releases of my backlist and doing pre-promotional work for my next novel, coming out in July, so I’m heavily using Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.  I am on Google+ and Instagram, too, but I must be honest that I don’t pay as much attention to those sites as I do the latter.

At this point, I think Facebook has helped me drive some conversations about my books and has given me a few sales, while Twitter has opened me up to people I would not have been in contact with otherwise, and Goodreads gets me directly to the readers.  The Giveaways have resulted in reviews for me, and I believe adding more reviews will naturally spread the word.

Perhaps by the time my next novel comes out, I’ll have a few new readers.  Believe me, I’ve done a lot of work to get them!


Find Dawn’s Books:

Link to all my books on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Dawn-Reno-Langley/e/B016JF3SY4/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1483214723&sr=8-1

Connect with Dawn:

Link to my Goodreads page:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/713705.Dawn_Reno_Langley

Website:  https://dawnrenolangley.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dawnrenolangley

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/proflangley

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/+DawnLangley

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/proflangley/


A Perfect 10 with Deanna Kahler

A Perfect 10 with Deanna Kahler

Today we sit down with author, Deanna Kahler. She did a great job of answering my ten questions and through those responses, we will get some insight into her life and work.

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of A Perfect 10: A Conversation in 10 Questions with Deanna Kahler.

If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:

A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut

Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com



  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I would definitely say it energizes me! Writing enables me to share my experiences with others and touch lives, so it is very rewarding. When a reader contacts you and tells you how you’ve helped them in some way, it is an incredible feeling. Words are powerful and transforming — I’m happy to do what I do.

  • Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

No. I’ve never written under a pseudonym and don’t intend to. I understand that some authors want to maintain anonymity for privacy purposes. However, I believe strongly in honesty and being genuine with yourself and others. I have nothing to hide and believe that putting a name and face to your writing is beneficial. It makes you more relatable and is easier to connect with readers.

  • Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

I think it hurts. It’s okay to be proud of your work, but having an over-inflated sense of value is a turn-off to readers and can lead to disappointment on your part. If you think you’re so amazingly awesome that people should love you, then you’re in for a rude awakening. You may be very talented, but don’t take your gifts for granted and don’t expect others to think you’re great. They’ll like you for you — your personality, your kindness, your sense of humor, etc. — not because you wrote a book.

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I would have to say it was the money I spent on cover design. Having a professional cover does make a difference in the look and feel of your book. But money aside, I think what is most important as a writer is to get your work out there as much as possible in as many places as possible. Exposure gains fans and followers. The most stunning book cover in the world can’t do that.

  • What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

To me, writing success means touching lives and making a difference. Yes, I have achieved that. My first book has helped many people cope with the struggles of infertility and miscarriage as well as learn how to successfully navigate the adoption process. Being able to share my experiences and offer some advice and insight to those who are hurting is the biggest reward of all.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

I don’t do a lot of research because most of my writing comes from my own personal experiences. When I do research topics, I reference websites and books to make sure I get the facts right. I probably only spend a couple of hours researching prior to starting a book and then do a little more digging throughout the writing process.

  • How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

The names I choose are either ones I like or something that I think fits the character’s personality. Celeste, for example, reminded me of “celestial” or “other worldly,” so it was a good fit for a woman that has a connection to the spirit world and the afterlife. So far, I have not regretted the names I have picked.

  • What is the hardest type of scene to write?

A sex scene, for sure! I am pretty modest, so it is difficult to create a scene that is too steamy or risqué. You won’t find X-rated content in my books; I’m more of a PG-13 kind of writer.

  • If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

I would choose four deceased people that I have had the most paranormal/afterlife encounters with — Grandma, Papa, Aunt Fannie and a former boyfriend. I would ask them what it’s like on the other side and what advice they have for me.

  • What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

Facebook is my favorite social media platform. It’s simple to use and easy to reach a lot of people.

Deanna’s Book

echoes_of_paradise_cover_for_kindleEchoes of Paradise

Purchase links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Paradise-Deanna-Kahler/dp/0615863396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483211980&sr=8-1&keywords=echoes+of+paradise

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/echoes-of-paradise-deanna-kahler/1118044582?ean=9780615863399

Connect with Deanna

Author website: www.deannakahler.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/echoesofparadise/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/deannakahler

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7087819.Deanna_Kahler?from_search=true


A Perfect 10 with Jill Sammut

A Perfect 10 with Jill Sammut

In this edition of A Perfect 10, We sit down with author and self-proclaimed underpaid superhero, Jill Sammut. I hope you will enjoy her answers to the 10 questions. I know I did.

20161016_095624 Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Most often, writing relaxes me.  I often have a variety of ideas and themes running amuck in my head.  Typing out my thoughts is therapeutic.

Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

Yes, I write under a pseudonym.  I am a foster parent, veterinarian, and I teach at a public school, in addition to writing books.  Basically, I’m underpaid superhero.  Using a pen name gives my kids an additional layer of privacy and gives me some separation between my different job titles.  Helena Newsworthy and her little sister, Martha Newsworthy, help out with my YouTube promotional videos.  Their names are also stage name, though wouldn’t it be great to have a last name of “Newsworthy”?

Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

There can be a fine line between confidence and narcissism.  Authors need to believe their work has something to offer and that it is worth readers’ time and money. However, I am a big believer in treating people with respect and kindness.  If I am too self-important for basic decency, I have a far bigger problem than simply writing and promoting books.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I am truly thankful for stumbling upon my talented illustrator, Nicole Steffes.  Her illustrations are just what I had been looking for, and she listened to all of my ideas.  I especially love my cover art.

What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

My first novel, The Cloud at the End of My Rainbow, was published in August of 2016.  The second book in the series, When the Rain Falls, has a projected release date of June 2017.  I also have several other projects in the works. While I feel I am steadily progressing towards my goals, I suspect success and its definition will evolve over time.  Last year, I defined success as publishing my first book, and nearing publication on my second.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

In many cases, life is my research.  Often, there is a topic of interest to my family, students, or wider community and that inspires me to include that element in my writing.  Afterwards, I will go back and consult friends, or authorities on the subject matter, about a particular topic.  They may also read selections from an upcoming piece for authenticity.  For example, there is a hospital scene in my upcoming novel and I had someone who works at a level one trauma center proof that chapter.

How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

Oftentimes the names I choose were potential names for my children that were rejected for various reasons.  Other times, my kids help me choose.  I also try to pick a culturally diverse set of first and last names.  I have had a few regrets on names.  Thankfully, they were changed during the editing process.  For example, at one point I had two unrelated characters with the same last name.  In another instance, I had a new character who ended up as a friend with another character, and I realized that their names rhymed.

What is the hardest type of scene to write?

For me, the hardest type of scene to write is one where I have to get straight facts across with little emotion.  I much prefer writing scenes that invoke sadness, anger, or some other strong feeling.  There is one scene in my first novel and another in my second that still make me cry.  I know the characters are made up, and I created the plot, but still, the tears fall.  When readers tell me that my work made them feel, think, and consider new possibilities, I am pleased.

If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

This is the most difficult question of the bunch.  I don’t know about four, but I would totally have dinner with my late grandfather and ask him about his life before I was born.  As a kid, I always meant to sit down with him and record stories from his life.

He grew up in Malta and married my grandmother while the island was under siege at the height of World War II.  When the country was devastated after the war, he moved to Dearborn, Michigan to make a better life for his family.  Although my grandfather meant to go back to Malta to travel with his wife and three young sons after establishing himself, that didn’t happen.  My father had major health issues and needed services that were only available in the United States at the time.  My grandmother ended up traveling to the US on a boat with three small boys, and my father was able to receive medical care in the Detroit area.

My grandfather passed away when I was nineteen and I hadn’t yet made the time for the project yet.  He loved my then-boyfriend and hoped that I would have many children.  I would tell him that we have now been married for seventeen years and show him pictures of all of his great-grandchildren.  Remember question number eight?  I’m writing a scene with strong emotions…

What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

Because I am an emerging author, marketing is a work in progress.  I have a very new website, Facebook page, You Tube channel, e-mail list, and I recently did my first book fair.  Based on numbers alone, I have had the most interaction from my You Tube interview with noted news personality, Helena Newsworthy.  That particular video has around 2200 views.  The most sales in one day was at a local book fair.

What book would you like to promote and how can we connect with you?


Amazon: www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Jill+Sammut

Connect with Jill:

My website:  www.jillsammut.com

On it you will find pictures, the video interview, biographies, and links to social media.  I would be happy to e-mail any separately, if you wish.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thecloudattheendofmyrainbow/

You Tube: www.youtube.com/channel/UC2o-Kbks8NFBfhijjAnaeOg



A Perfect 10 with Mae Clair

A Perfect 10 with Mae Clair

Today we sit down for our author interview series with Mae Clair. We’re going to learn about her and about her book, A Cold Tomorrow.

I hope you enjoy this interview and, if your an author, I still have some spots open on the interview schedule. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com and I will get you scheduled.



Does writing energize or exhaust you?

For the most part it energizes me. When I’m on a roll and the creativity is flowing, it’s a natural high. There have been occasions, however, when I’m working against a tight deadline, that the hours involved can be exhausting. Fortunately, I experience far more of the former than the latter.

Do you ever write under a pseudonym?

The name I write under is the only I have ever used. I know a lot of authors use different pseudonyms for different genres, but I haven’t encountered the need. Most of my writing crosses genres as it is. If I chose to write something entirely different (i.e, fantasy), I think, even then, I would probably stick with my name. It’s true that your name is your brand, but I’d like to think there is room for multi-genre authors in the publishing world.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

Eeesh! Personally, I haven’t encountered any authors with a big ego, but I would definitely label it a detriment. As a reader (and I read a lot in addition to writing), it would turn me off and likely keep me from buying said author’s work. Fortunately, I think most authors are supportive of their peers, and grateful to their fans. I don’t think it hurts to be confident in your ability, but the line between confidence and arrogance shouldn’t be crossed.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I took two, three day trips to Point Pleasant, West Virginia to do onsite research for my Point Pleasant series of novels. Visiting the locale where the books are set, drawing on the history of the area, and being able to experience the “flavor” of Point Pleasant firsthand added authenticity I never would have captured otherwise. Definitely money well spent!

 What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

I think we all dream of the bestseller lists, but I’m realistic enough to realize that may never happen. As long as I’m earning income and being read I’ll count that as success. And yes, by that measure, I have achieved it. Hopefully, by the time I retire it will be a nice supplemental amount, but even if that isn’t the case, I don’t see myself ever stopping. I’ve been writing since I was six years old, and love it too much not to continue.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

A lot of this depends on the story I’m writing. Some require more research than others. My normal channels include online research and book research. In the case of my Point Pleasant series, which included historical fact and urban legend, I also devoured documentaries and (as mentioned above) took two trips to the actual location where events took place. Research is important to a novel, and I generally invest that time up front while developing plot ideas.

How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

I love naming characters! It’s probably my favorite part of creating any new novel. I keep a list of first names for male and female characters, plus a list of last names on my cell phone. Any time I hear a name I like, it gets added to the appropriate list. That’s the first place I check when I need a character name. After that, I’ll haunt online baby naming sites.

As for regretting a particular name—been there, done that! A secondary character in my recent release A Cold Tomorrow, ended up becoming a primary character in my next release, A Desolate Hour. The problem with that? His name is Shawn. Since I already had a Sarah and a Suzanne as prominent characters that created a lot of “S’s” in the mix. I normally try to avoid common letters, but when I created him I never expected his role to grow like it did!

What is the hardest type of scene to write?

Action scenes. I don’t mind writing them, but they require far more care than any other type of scene in my opinion. I normally have to comb through them over and over again to make sure they’re tightly written, carry impact, and move. The last thing you want is an action scene that comes off flat.

If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

1. My father.

He gave me my love of words but passed away when I was thirteen. I’d love to sit down with him and discuss writing. I’d love to tell him how all the talks we used to have inspired me.

2. Charles Dickens

Known to be arrogant, but such an amazing talent! I’d ask about his inspiration for
A Christmas Carol, which still holds such a powerful message even today. I’d also be curious about the publishing world in his era.

3. Robert F. Kennedy

I find him one of the most fascinating men in history. I’m not sure where I’d start with questions (there are so many!)…maybe I’d just want to ponder the possibilities of how history would be different if June 6, 1968 had never happened.

4. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Since they’re an author team, I hope I get to count them as one. They are fabulous writers, among the best publishing today. I’d simply love to sit and chat craft with them.

What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

I’ve tried so many different things and each has resulted in varying degrees of success. Facebook ads have been good to me, and Twitter has also resulted in sales. My publisher does a lot with Book Bub, which I love, and I’m also a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club (RRBC). I can’t say enough about the support (including book sales and reviews) I receive through them.

What book would like to tell us about?

 acoldtomorrow_cover3The book I would like to promote is A Cold Tomorrow

A story of mystery, suspense, the Mothman, and alien visitors

Where secrets make their home… 

Stopping to help a motorist in trouble, Katie Lynch stumbles upon a mystery as elusive as the Mothman legend that haunts her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Could the coded message she finds herald an extraterrestrial visitor? According to locals, it wouldn’t be the first time. And what sense should she make of her young son’s sudden spate of bizarre drawings—and his claim of a late-night visitation? Determined to uncover the truth, Katie only breaks the surface when a new threat erupts. Suddenly her long-gone ex-boyfriend is back and it’s as if he’s under someone else’s control. Not only is he half-crazed, he’s intent on murder….

As a sergeant in the sheriff’s office of the famously uncanny Point Pleasant, Officer Ryan Flynn has learned to tolerate reports of puzzling paranormal events. But single mom Katie Lynch appears to be in very real danger—and somehow Ryan’s own brother, Caden, is caught up in the madness, too. What the skeptical lawman discovers astounds him—and sends him into action. For stopping whatever evil forces are at play may just keep Katie and Caden alive….

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Twitter (@MaeClair1)


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A Perfect 10 with Kayla Matt

A Perfect 10 with Kayla Matt

I’m happy to sit down with author Kayla Matt for today’s Perfect 10. Please enjoy getting to know her.

If you’re an author and you want to be a guest, I still have some spots open for this weekly interview spot. Just email me at don@donmassenzio.com


Does writing energize or exhaust you?

That one depends… It can get exhausting, but if I go too long without writing, it doesn’t feel right. It’s the same way with artwork.

Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

I haven’t really written under a pseudonym. Though there are times that I’ll find myself thinking about it. The case for my doing it is that I really don’t feel that my actual name tends to bring much success. But if I use one, it’ll be for a series other than the one I’m writing now. I am already four books into this thing, and would rather not just throw that name change into the middle of it.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

I’m not sure, on that one. On the one hand, a big ego may tie into self-promotion. The easier it is for a writer to promote themselves, the more likely they are to sell books. On the other hand, if someone has a huge ego but lacks any sort of talent, people just tend to get sick of them. So…I would say that it depends on the writer.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I actually did this before I started writing and publishing, but the best money I’ve ever spent connected to writing, period, would have to be when I bought a copy of Adobe CS5 after graduating college. Since I tend to swear by Illustrator when it comes to the comic pages and covers for my books, I would say that it was definitely worth it.

What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

Writing success…I’d say that that would be when people read your stuff, give some kind of feedback… I haven’t hit a massive level of success as of yet, but I’m still working on it. There have been a handful of readers, but the general consensus has been positive. So I would say that it’s a start.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

The research I do depends upon the book. I don’t usually research prior to starting one, as opposed to looking stuff up when I reach that point in the story. If it turns out that a plot point will not work, I will either try to find something instead that does work for what I need, or just run with it anyway if it feels right. Some of the things I’ve researched have been stuff like the taste of human flesh and images of burns. I feel it worth noting that some of the stuff I write is horror. The sources that I tend to use are whatever I can find online. As long as it has some credibility, of course. In other words, not Wikipedia.

How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

I don’t have a particular method for selecting character names, to be honest. Sometimes, I will give one a first name inspired by a person in either real life or something I’m a fan of. The last name will come from whatever I feel sounds right with the first name. For example, the character of Travis was named for a guy I knew as a kid. A bit of thought later, and I found myself giving him the last name “Malone”. However, I also give everyone a middle name, and gave Travis the middle name of “Isaac”, just for the sake of making his initials “T.I.M.”. Sometimes, I will choose two random letters of the alphabet and have one be the start of the first name, the other start off the last name. There are two incredibly minor ones whose names I regret, though, and both are targets of my assassin characters: Matt French and Will Parks. Why do I regret those? Because I found out that there were real people with those names: one being a graphic artist, the other being a football player. I’ve decided that French’s full first name would be “Mathias” to offset that a bit. And Parks’ appearance is quite different from the real life one. Also, these two characters are INCREDIBLY minor, and there are times in real life where two people will have the same name.

What is the hardest type of scene to write?

Romantic, definitely. I have no issue with writing, say, torture scenes or anything like that. But romance just feels so forced for me.

If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

Now this is a hard one. I am actually pretty bad at asking people questions. But if I could choose anyone? One might be Stephen King, as he is one of my favorite authors. There’s a good chance I’d ask him questions about his inspiration…or if he’d sign a few books. I might also go with Adam Warren, given that he’s both the writer and artist for a series of graphic novels. I’d likely ask him for help with marketing…and/or some autographs. Another would be Charlie Day, as that’s the voice I can hear most clearly for one of my characters, and I might start asking if he’d be willing to voice the guy if were ever to have an animated series (or movie) based on my series. Did I say “asking”? I meant “begging”. And a fourth one would likely be Walt Disney, because Disney movies were what got me interested in both writing and illustration. To be honest, though, I really can’t think of what I would ask him because there is a very good chance that I will forget what words are.

What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

The most marketing success I’ve had has been a combination of Facebook and good old fashioned word-of-mouth.

What would you would like to promote?

The Hell Bent series is 4 books in so far, with 1 completed arc and the 2nd arc underway. The series is a blend of horror, urban fantasy, sci-fi, and graphic novels.

Visions: Dr. Spencer Abbot has been searching for the ideal anniversary gift for his wife. When he and his friend Travis meet a woman that claims she can help, they accept.

The pair are led to Visions Studios. But instead of the boudoirs photos they’d intended to get, they stumble upon something far more sinister: snuff films.

Before long, it’s up to Travis to resolve their situation, no matter what tries to get in his way.

Retribution: It’s been 5 months since the Visions Incident. 5 months since the Abbots/Malones had dealt with sadistic murderess Jesse Lynn Belle. Over this time, Travis and Spencer have been undergoing therapy, trying to cope with the trauma.

But signs of Jesse’s presence begin cropping up. And it’s beginning to take a toll on Travis. It soon comes down to him, his aunt, and her friends to track her down, before it costs them the rest of their family.

Destruction: Jesse Lynn Belle has not made contact with Travis and Spencer’s family in four months, and things couldn’t be better. The nightmares have been happening with less and less frequency, and Spencer is now a father.

But then an evil they hoped never to encounter again turns up, and Travis soon finds himself taken from all he knows and loves. And it’s Jesse’s intent to utterly break the young half-monkey.

What if she succeeds? And if she does, will his family and friends be able to fix him?

Deception: Sick of being the universe’s punching bag, Dr. Spencer Abbot begins to look into self-defense training. His search leads him to Slade McManus, a powerful mage who is more than willing to teach Spencer the ways of magic.

But there is something very off about this mage, and before he knows it, Spencer and Travis find themselves in trouble yet again.

Can they keep their lives from being ruined by McManus?

Find Kayla’s Books:

CreateSpace e-store: https://www.createspace.com/4716031
Amazon (paperback or Kindle): http://amzn.com/1500260630
Lulu (Full color hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/content/hardcover-book/visions/14875668

CreateSpace e-store: https://www.createspace.com/5295775
Amazon (paperback): http://amzn.com/1508546266
Amazon (Kindle): http://amzn.com/B01387TIEU
Lulu (Full color hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/con…/hardcover-book/retribution/16363814

CreateSpace e-store: https://www.createspace.com/5817252
Amazon (paperback): http://amzn.com/1518730809
Amazon (Kindle): http://amzn.com/B0186GZ220
Lulu (Full color hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/con…/hardcover-book/destruction/17607619

Arc 1
CreateSpace e-store: https://www.createspace.com/5831367
Amazon (paperback): http://amzn.com/151883244X
Amazon (Kindle): http://amzn.com/B018701YLS
Lulu (full-color hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/…/hardcover-bo…/hell-bent-arc-1/17612474

CreateSpace e-store: https://www.createspace.com/6489753
Amazon (paperback): https://amzn.com/1537010913
Amazon (Kindle): https://amzn.com/B01LTASC36
Lulu (black and white hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/…/decep…/hardcover/product-22856275.html

Connect with Kayla:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HellBentBookSeries

WordPress: https://kaylamatt.wordpress.com

Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00U5GLUNU

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/KMatt_HellBent

Main Character Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TravisHalfMonkey

Café Press Shop: http://www.cafepress.com/hellbentshop




A Perfect 10 with Steve Boseley

A Perfect 10 with Steve Boseley

I’d like to thank Steve Boseley for being the featured author in this week’s installment of ‘A Perfect 10’.

If you are an author and would like to participate, just drop me an email at don@donmassenzio.com and I will send you the information.


Does writing energize or exhaust you?

That’s a tough one to answer for me.  I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis fifteen years ago, and find that I spend a lot of my time exhausted!  Some days I can write for hours, but on others, I struggle to get as far as the keyboard!  I completed NaNoWriMo, which surprised me, so, on the whole, I’d have to say that writing energizes me.

Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?

I do not write under a pseudonym at the moment.  Initially, I could see no need to do so, but now, several years later, I feel that changing my pen name would be hurting all the work I have put in to build my author platform.

I have, however, just started to write some humorous content, which is quite far from the horror and dark fiction that I usually write.  I think that when the time comes to consider publishing, I will definitely consider writing under another name, as I don’t want people to be confused about what they will be getting.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?

Another difficult question.  I think there are pros and cons on both sides of that argument.

Ego is what helps us control our thoughts and behavior.  It is often correlated with an exaggerated sense of self-importance.  In some circumstances, this can be a positive.  For example, when you have completed a story / book to the best of your ability, you need to hit the ‘send’ or ‘publish’ button.  For me, that is a big deal.  I am about to send something into the world that I have created / written.  If that confidence and self-belief wasn’t there, I would never publish anything.  That doesn’t mean I consider myself ‘better’ than others.  My ego is what gives me the belief that what I have produced is good work – good enough to stand alongside other authors also trying to do the same things as me.

Ego could also pose a threat to my growth as a writer.  If I have an over-inflated opinion of my own talents (conceit) I run the risk of ignoring the help and support offered by others, both in the craft of writing and all the other elements concerned with the marketing and promotion of my writing.

There is also a danger, I believe, of ego contributing to self-doubt, and ultimately to an author giving up writing completely.  I call this the ‘I should be able to do that’ syndrome – as a new author / blogger, I see other people publishing books and appear (from the outside, at least) to be doing very well, and I ask myself ‘Why aren’t I doing that well?’  After months and months of writing, publishing, blogging with little return, you might reach the conclusion that your work is not good enough and give up, rather than accepting you have a lot to learn and applying yourself to that learning.

Ultimately, I think there has to be a balance in how you approach your writing – sometimes you need to learn and sometimes you need to feel confident in what you are doing.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I am still fairly new to being a ‘serious’ writer, so I imagine a lot of my spending is in front of me, but to date, the best 3 things I have spent money on:

  • A Kindle – Reading is really important for writers, and Santa was good enough to get me a Kindle this year.
  • A Laptop – At home, we have a Mac, which sits in the living room. This is where I have done most of my writing (it’s where I’m writing this now).  I enjoy being with my family, but sometimes it is nice to be able to get away somewhere quiet!
  • The cover for my latest book – I have fought against investing money into my books / stories so far, but have invested in a professional cover for my latest book. I think it looks amazing and all the feedback I have received says the same.  I know we always say ‘don’t judge a book by the cover,’ but in reality, that’s exactly how we judge books.

I also think that I will be investing in an authoring tool such as Scrivener at some point soon.

What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?

This question takes me back to the ego question – what is realistic for me to attain?  A year ago, just finding my way through all the tax questions for Amazon felt like an achievement, but now I have written 2 books, the most recent being available as a paperback and have started blogging regularly, my goals have shifted.

Ultimately, I would hope to become a full-time writer.  I haven’t achieved that yet.  My short-term success goal would be to have a novel completed.  I am working on another collection for my next book, but in the next 12 months, I would like to have a novel to my name.  I’m not putting a number on how many copies I would like to sell; I think just being able to complete such a project would feel like a win.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?

My first book, Die, Blossom, Bloom, was about a pensioner who killed his wife and composted her body.  He also dismembered her first.  I did a lot of research for this novella as it covered areas that I had little knowledge of.  On my dinner break at work, I scoured Google for info on ‘how hard is it to chop a body up?’ and ‘how long would it take to compost a body?’  I had some interesting questions when my manager found out what I had been searching for!

There was also some research around a medical condition the wife had and what the possible treatments / prognosis was.  There are a number of sites across the Internet with medical information that is particularly aimed at authors, so I was able to get some info here.

For another story in the collection, I needed info on a psychiatrist and typical treatment programs.  I am lucky enough to have a friend who is studying for her PHD in psychotherapy who was able to help me with some of the details.

In terms of how long do I spend researching, it varies.  So far I have only written stories of 5k – 20k words, so I imagine a novel may take slightly longer, but as an example, the psychiatrist story I mentioned above took me several nights worth of interviewing my friend along with several last minute phone calls!

During NaNoWriMo, I wrote a story that strayed into areas that I have limited knowledge of.  I hadn’t planned for it to go that way, it just did, and I was more interested in getting the ideas down than in spending time researching the subject thoroughly.  So for that story, most of the research will come after the fact!

How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?

I have a number of methods when choosing names.  If it’s just a generic name, I will use a similar name to someone I know, or sometimes I will use a random name generator, such as:


It offers the option to select names from a variety of cultures / countries, masculine or feminine and a randomly generated last name.

Depending on the story, I may also need a name that is relevant to a particular time in history, and for that, I use a site such as:


It will give me a selection of the most popular names from a particular decade (English).

It may also be necessary to choose a name that marks the character out as a particular social class.  It shouldn’t be the case, but certain types of names will create an image of a character in a reader’s mind whether we like it or not.

I’ve not yet encountered a name that I have regretted!

What is the hardest type of scene to write?

I think that will be individual to each author.  For me, I find that I steer clear of romance / attraction-type scenes.  I think that if I spent enough time working at it, I would get better, but so far, I’ve kept that out of the stories I write.

I think that any scene that I do not have direct experience of (e.g. dismembering a body!) always take a bit more work for me.  I need the research for understanding to get me into that scene.

If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?

I would like to sit down to dinner with:

Charles Darwin – I would like to discuss his thoughts on disabled people, and the eugenics movement that his work fostered. Darwin said “We civilised men…. do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick… Thus the weak members of society propagate their kind.”  I think I would like to chat with him about that and introduce him to Professor Hawking.

Professor Stephen Hawking – I very much enjoy learning about our universe and the physics that make things behave as they do, so I would like to hear more about that aspect of his work, but I would also like to talk with him about being a disabled man and how he has overcome the challenges he has faced.  I think I would enjoy listening to him talking with Darwin.

Neil Armstrong – I would like to ask him what it was like to leave the Earth’s atmosphere, then to land and walk on the Moon.  Was it frightening or exciting?  I’d be too frightened to do it, so this would be my next best option!

Stephen King – As a horror author, this one is a bit cheesy, but I would still like to talk to him, particularly about starting out as an author.  I would also really like to talk to him about his Dark Tower series and see if I could persuade him to write another book in that series!

A Note from Don: I recently read that Stephen King is treating The Dark Tower movie as a sequel to the Dark Tower series and it begins as Roland repeats the quest as he does at the end of the last book.

What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?

I think is a really difficult question to answer, for a number of reasons.  I would consider myself to be in the infancy of my writing journey, so it’s still too early to say what is most successful.  Also, in my experience, marketing needs to be a multi-platform approach.  I think each of the elements has its place, but in my experience, an effective, live website, combined with a good sign up offer and an email list is most effective.

I would like to try some face-to-face marketing as well, but I’ve not tried that yet!

Connect with Steve:

Website:  http://www.authorsteveboseley.com

Blog:  https://authorsteveboseley.wordpress.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SteveBoseley

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorsteveboseley

Pinterest:  https://uk.pinterest.com/steveboseley/

Email:  authorsteveboseley@gmail.com

asinistersix-frontMy ebook, A Sinister Six: A collection of six darkly disturbing stories, is available for pre-order now.  Send me a screenshot of your pre-order purchase to get 2 additional FREE stories, only available in the print version (when ready).

Here’s a short blurb:

‘A Sinister Six’ is a collection of darkly disturbing stories, where the ordinary and mundane become extraordinary and fantastic.

Come along, as we journey to the edges of reality and glimpse what lies just beyond our reach. Discover that nothing is quite what it seems, and explore the horrors that travel with us throughout our lives.

The characters you will meet within have been forced beyond the boundary of their reality and have encountered what lies beyond.

Universal book buy link: books2read.com/u/bMG255