An Exciting Addition to My Blog

Over the past two years, I have had the distinct pleasure of interviewing nearly 200 authors on my blog. As a result, I thought it was finally time to create a page dedicated to these tireless individuals that spend hours writing entertaining books and stories hoping to get a seat at the table with interested readers.

This page will serve as an index to all authors that I’ve interviewed in the past and will interview in the future. Simply click on the name of the author you’re interested in and it will take you to their interview posting.

I hope you enjoy this page and find it useful. I learned a great deal from having each of them as guests. I will be adding authors as I conduct new interviews in 2018.

You can get to it by clicking on the new menu option or by clicking the link below:

Author Directory

The Author Directory is available HERE:

Advertisements

Writing Influences – Who are Yours?

I am passionate about writing mostly because, throughout my life, I have been passionate about reading.  When I was a kid, I lived in a neighborhood that had very few children. I lived in a house on a busy road that served as the main access road to a hospital emergency road. I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was about 13.

I realized early on that my only escape was reading. I read everything I could get my hands on. Luckily, I lived in a house that had collected a lot of books over the years. My brother is 13 years older, so there were many books that he read as a child hanging around.

somerville-two-familyThe house I lived in was over 100 years old and the full-sized walk-in attic had a finished room that was once a laboratory for a scientist that lived in the house. There were bookshelves with all kinds of very old books and encyclopedias.

wwiI knew that the encyclopedias were old when they listed an event called ‘The Great War’. It hadn’t earned the label ‘World War I’ yet because the books were published before World War II. I also found another book that had a clipped newspaper article wedged in the pages that covered the funeral of President George Washington. It was a fascinating place full of discoveries and fertilizer for the imagination.

bobbseyThe first books I can remember reading that were ‘chapter books’, as the kids call them today, was the Bobbsey Twins series written under the pen name, Laura Lee Hope. The books, published first in 1904 and followed the adventures of two sets of fraternal twins. These books were predecessors to The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books (which I also read). Since my brother was so much older and was married and out of the house when I was seven, these books taught me about families with multiple siblings and made me wish I had a twin or even another sibling closer in age that I could play with.

Around this time, I started writing my own stories. I remember writing a series of illustrated stories based on the character “Tiny the Giant” when I was about eight or nine. Tiny experienced all manner of adventures with special attention paid to his enormous size in relation to his friends. It was sort of a Clifford the Big Red Dog kind of scenario.

godfatherI remember the first adult-oriented book that I read. It was The Godfather. My parents went off with the rest of the adult members of my Italian family to see the movie in 1972. My mom had read the book and then put it on our bookshelves telling me not to read it. Of course, I did, and I was transported by the style of writing. I’m sure there were parts of it that I didn’t understand, but the sense of family among the brutal events of an organized crime syndicate resonated with me.

jawsI also read Jaws after sneaking it out of the library a few years later. I had seen the movie and was amazed at how different the book and movie turned out to be. That was the first of many such experiences.

Flashing forward to my senior year of high school, I had a great English teacher that introduced the class to a number of classics that I still reflect on today. Among them were To Kill A Mockingbird (one of my all time favorites), Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, The Fixer, and many others. It was a refreshing change from books like Ethan Fromme and The Heart of Darkness that I suffered through in my junior year.

Around that same time, I was introduced to Stephen King’s works. I immediately took to these books as I experienced feelings I had never felt before as I read books like Carrie, ‘Salem’s Lot and The Stand. These books shed the conventional constraints on back story, character development and length as King transported his readers with rich, complex sagas that scared the bejeepers out of them. It was the first book I ever read that literally scared me enough to keep me awake.

Around this time, I also read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time. That was another series of books that transported the reader to a totally fabricated world with rich, complex characters.

In my adult life, I’ve added other authors that have influenced my reading and writing life. Jonathan Kellerman, Harlan Coben and, to some extent, Dean Koontz and James Patterson have influenced the types of fiction I enjoy. I’ve also gone back to red classic books from authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens and have enjoyed them thoroughly while learning a lot about writing.

frankly_speakingThe pivotal moment in my writing career began about four years ago when I was sitting on a plane waiting to fly from Jacksonville, Florida to Chicago for a project related to my ‘day job’. We were delayed because of weather and I had nothing with me to read. After flipping through the airline magazine, I pulled a notebook and a pen out of my computer bag and began to write a short story based on a news headline I had seen. By the time I landed in Chicago, I had about 3,500 words written and had completed a story that I didn’t think was half-bad. After typing it out, I decided to start working on something more ambitious. My first novel, Frankly Speaking, was born and filled two and a half notebooks with barely legible longhand. I then began sharing bits and pieces of it on a writing group web site where I received some very constructive criticism. The bottom line was, I had a pretty good story and my writing didn’t suck too badly.

The next step was to let my biggest supporter and toughest critic read it. That would be my wife. She is not an enthusiastic reader, but my book captivated her and she encouraged me to publish it.

I first sent out queries to literary agents and received a good number of rejections. I had no idea what I was doing. I then heard about publishing through Amazon and was hooked. I’m not sure I would have ever pursued writing as far as I have without this option. I’m in my fifties and I only have so much time for rejection.

So, here I am, almost four years in and I have five novels in the Frank Rozzani Detective Series complete. Another standalone thriller novel, Blood Orange has seen some success and is now my first book offered in audio book form. I also have a book of short stories, Random Tales, that includes that first story I wrote on the plane to Chicago called Heal Thyself. I have two more books that I’ll likely release this year.

I’ve exceeded my goal of publishing a single book in my lifetime and I’m busy establishing new goals.

That leads me to ask the authors out there, what kind of experiences led you to become an author? What/who influenced you and has the writing experience fulfilled you?

20 Questions with Author John Howell

Photo by Tim Burdick

Today we sit down with author and blogger John Howell. He is also my hero of sorts becoming a full-time writer after many years in business. This is something I am working toward in the next ten years or so.

Please enjoy this very interesting 20 questions session with accomplished author and blogger, John W. Howell.


Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I guess the first real desire to be a write hit me in college. I remember my friends and I trying to decide what we really wanted to do. I wrote a few poems and short stories and thought that this would be a great way to make a living. Unfortunately, the practical world rose its ugly head, and I sold my soul to Procter and Gamble.

Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?

I write one-thousand words a day, every day. So I can turn out a novel in ninety-seven days. Of course,, that is first draft. From start to publish takes me no less than seven months.

Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I used to do family stuff in the morning and then start writing after lunch. I found that all too often the afternoons were taken up with other things as well. My wife and I agreed on a schedule of one thousand words first and then I’m available for anything else. We have been doing this for two years now, and it works well.

Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I’m not sure it is interesting, but I write with music. I discovered I Heart Radio about a year ago, and I programmed in my favorite genres. Every morning I pick a genre and write while the music plays. I used to write to Queen CD’s exclusively but then when I found variety I couldn’t help myself.

Q5) How are your books published? (traditional, indie, etc.)

My first book My GRL is traditionally published, and I’m still under contract. The second and subsequent books are self-published. I simply could not abide the restrictions of the traditional route. Of course, it is a very small publisher, and if they had paid a huge advance, maybe I would have been happier.

Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?

The ideas generally come to me while I’m doing something like walking the dog or taking a shower. The idea for my first book came to me while I was standing on the flight deck of the Aircraft Carrier Lexington. I was touring the boat since my dad was a naval aviator during World War II and I wanted to walk where he did. The story popped into my head and never left. Four years later I wrote the book.

Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote my first full-length book at age fifty-nine. I wrote it while I was working on nights and weekends. It is a 120,000-word thriller which is in manuscript form and being used to hold open the laundry room door. Yes, it is that bad.

Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I don’t seem to have a lot of time these days. In addition to my novel writing, I also have a daily blog. When I’m not writing, I take a daily walk on the beach with my wife and two Boxer dogs. I love to cook and watch movies. We do record some television shows we like and watch an hour a day.

Q9) What is your favorite book?

Wow, that is like asking which child is a favorite. Let me answer this way. The first book that I read which had an effect on me in terms of the writing was Neville Shute’s “On the Beach.” It was the first time I experienced a story that was destined to have a sad ending. I was fascinated with how the author portrayed the characters in light of the fact that they had no future. I think this was the book that got me really interested in writing.

Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?

My friends all read my books and tell me they enjoy them. None of them have posted a review nor asked for a signed copy. I suppose they figure I’ll be around and no need going to any formalities. They will remark now and then about the stories and do ask when the next one is going to be ready. My immediate family are very supportive. My extended family may or may not know I write. If they do, they don’t say much.

Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I think the thing that surprised me the most was how the characters can pretty much take over the direction of the story. I used to hear about this phenomenon and pretty much scoffed at the idea. I now know I was a fool, and it actually happens.

Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?

Hate is a strong word. I prefer to use despise. I despise the marketing aspect. I spend an inordinate amount of time with marketing efforts and feel I don’t get a degree of payback that would be proportional to the effort. I don’t mind working my butt off I just wish I had more to show for it. I envy those who can afford to have a professional run the selling of their book.

Q13) How many books have you written?

Which is your favorite? Counting my door stop, I have written five. My favorite is my last titled Circumstance of Childhood. It is in draft form and will be published in 2017. It’s a story about a successful guy who is a victim of fraud and potentially loses everything until a friend of his helps clear his name. The fun part is the friend is dead, and I totally enjoyed writing such an offbeat thriller.

Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?

The only suggestion I can offer is to write. Practice tends to make perfect. The other thing I would say is for any writer is to finish what you are working on before showing your work to anyone. You can always take suggestions and correct the MS after it is finished. When a writers show work that is not complete, they are risking critical comment that could cause them to give up.

Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?

Yes, I receive comments since I put my email in the back of each book. Most say they love the story and the protagonist. There are a few who offer story ideas which I always appreciate. I get maybe a couple of comments a month.

Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?

I prefer thriller readers. I have had a number of readers who don’t like thrillers but say they enjoyed the story since the protagonist is a different kind of hero.

Q17) What do you think makes a good story?

A good story to me is one that engages the reader in the situation and elicits a strong emotional reaction throughout the course of events. I also believe a good story leaves the reader with a sense of caring about the outcome and the fact that the story is over.

Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I grew up in Detroit Michigan, and I wanted to be an automotive designer. I pursued this desire right up to high school and then discovered my skills as an artist were somewhat lacking. I drew a number of car designs and unfortunately they were consistently awful.

Q19) Where can we find your books?

They are available in paper and eBook versions from Amazon.

Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works? Yes here is an excerpt from His Revenge.


The water rushes over my head. I’m sinking and don’t know why. With my breath held, I have trouble stopping the air from escaping since the pressure drives the air up and out. I try to keep my mouth closed, but the water pressure pushes the air out more and more. Will I pass out? In the distance, the light is dim. To rise to the surface in time might not be possible─I need to breathe right now. Toward ending the pain in my chest, my rambling mind rationalizes taking a deep breath—even knowing it will end my life. In conflict with the irrational thought of ending it, my body won’t let me suck in the water, as it fights to retain the little bit of oxygen left to fuel my brain.

The despair is nearly overwhelming, and my mind considers other ways to battle the feeling. What more could I have done with my life? The pressure becomes more intense, and I’m about to lose it all, and I decide I’ve lived the way I wanted and have no regrets. I close my eyes and hear only the roar of the sea. I’m so tired. Exhausted. Sleep will fix everything, and I want to give in.


John’s Books

Click on the cover images to view them on Amazon

My GRL_johnwhowell - Copy

His Revenge front final

About John W. Howell

John’s main interests are reading and writing. He turned to writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive career in business. John writes fictional short stories and novels as well
as a blog at http://www.johnwhowell.com.

His first novel, My GRL is available on Amazon and wherever e-books are sold. His Second His Revenge is available on Amazon. The third Our Justice will be released in July of 2016.

John lives on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of south Texas with his wife and spoiled rescue pets.

He can be reached at:

his e-mail johnhowell.wave@gmail.com

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

Twitter at @HowellWave

 

Author Talk – Jennifer Friess

Author Jennifer FriessToday we sit down with author and blogger Jennifer Friess to hear about her work and inspiration.


DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

JF: My new release is Be Careful What You Wish For, Book 3 in the New Adult Contemporary Romance series The Riley Sisters.

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

JF: Miley Riley thinks she can make her dreams come true in Hollywood, but in only three short weeks she finds her face all over the entertainment channel hourly for all the wrong reasons.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

JF: Adults who like to read Young Adult, but want something a little steamier.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

JF: I tried to make all the titles in my series sound like proverbs (past titles include The Wind Could Blow a Bug and When You Least Expect It). “Miley wanted to be seen by millions of eyes and for everyone to know her name. As if wished to a genie from a magic lamp, her wish had come one hundred percent true, with unforeseen consequences.”

BCWYWF_medDM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?

JF: All my covers were created by Cheeklycovers.com. Carrie is great to work with. I wanted each cover to show the personality of the girl and the feeling of the location where the book takes place. Since this one features a trip by the twin sisters to Hollywood, I wanted a background that looks like Los Angeles. And Miley is a bit of a fashionista.

DM: Who is your biggest writing influence?

JF: I loved the Twilight books. Reading Stephenie Meyer’s books made me realize that people would actually pay for the kind of writing I liked to create.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

JF: I have two. I love the Tucker brothers Josh and Wade. I had to put at least one scene with them in every book. They would be so fun to hang out with, but they could also get you in trouble. And the graffiti on the town water tower is always from them.

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

JF: I didn’t like writing for Miley to start with. Some of her traits aren’t very likeable and she is an unreliable narrator. But as I got to know her, I found we had a lot of things in common.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

JF: I wish I would have put in more “small town” moments that readers from other areas might not see every day, such as two cars stopping and blocking the road to talk to each other and catch up. And the little league baseball team crowded on to the picnic tables post-game at the ice cream shop.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact  your book?

JF: The fictional small farm town of Oakley, Alabama is loosely based on Blissfield, Michigan, the small farm town where I grew up.

Jane’s younger sisters Miley and Kiley were never meant to have their own books. I wouldn’t have given them such silly names if I had planned it. But they wanted to tell me their stories too.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

JF: I think Abbi Glines’ books are similar to mine. We both have books that are New Adult Contemporary Romance and take place in Alabama.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

JF: Most of those could probably be found on my blog. I write about that kind of goofy stuff over there regularly.

How can we find out more about you and your books?

Website: http://ImNotStalkingYou.com

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/jenf2

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/imnotstalkingyou2

Amazon Author Page:  www.amazon.com/author/jenniferfriess/

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/11851059.Jennifer_Friess

Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/7YhHr

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

JF: I am putting the Riley sisters to rest, at least for a little while. I am working on three new stories right now. They all have a similar theme, but are not a series. Only one of them is a romance.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

JF: If you don’t have any money, follow my Facebook page, like and share my posts, read and share my blog posts.

If you do have money, buy my book, read it, review it, recommend it to your friends.

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

JF: Be persistent. When you think your story is done, sit it off to the side; come back a month or two later. Keep revising until no part of it bothers you because it isn’t up to your standards. Be proud of what you have accomplished. Practice your autograph (because it is fun!).

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book?

JF: Sure.


MILEY

“Just take a deep breath. We have it all under control.”

“HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT?! This is MY WEDDING, NOT YOURS! There is no cake, no groom, and it is going to rain on my outdoor reception,” the young bride collapsed in tears into Miley’s arms.

“Vanessa, you have to stop this. You will ruin your makeup. We have sent a car to go fetch the groom. He wants to be here, but his car broke down. It is the ones that don’t want to be married that are the hardest to resolve. And twenty years from now, all you will see in the pictures are your makeup and the groom. So, you see, your job is to stop crying. Let us take care of the rest,” Miley reassured her.

“But the rain—,” the bride insisted.

“I once attended a wedding that got hit by a tornado, and it all turned out OK. We have tents being erected as we speak.”

“Tents? In the yard?” The bride dashed to the bedroom window to confirm the news. Now she began to cry again; this time with tears of joy.

Little did the bride know that Miley had actually ordered the tents a week ago, based on the extended weekly forecast. The outdoor reception would certainly need them. The uncertain part was that until the bride’s father actually saw the impending storm clouds blossoming in the sky for himself, he wouldn’t agree to pay the added cost.

“What did I say was your only job today?” Miley reminded her.

“To not cry,” Vanessa the bride squeaked, smiling now at Miley. The bride stared up at Miley, her big brown eyes reflecting her helplessness like a cow at the county fair. After a year of planning, Vanessa was finally going to put her trust in Miley to successfully complete the task she was hired to do.

“That’s right. I am going to send your bridesmaids in here to keep you cal—company. I have to go tie-up a few last-minute details.”

“Were you really at a wedding that survived a tornado?”

“Yes. A few buildings in town were destroyed, but no one died. A lovely time was had by all,” she replied flippantly. Miley didn’t mention that she had only been fifteen years old and a guest at said event.

With that, Miley quickly excused herself from the room. She selected a number from the contact list on her cell phone. A voice quickly responded from the other end of the call through the earpiece in her ear.

“Is the five-tier vanilla with vanilla buttercream on its way?” An affirmative response came from the other end.

“Did you have time to add some red flowers?” Another yes.

“Thanks. You are a lifesaver. You always come through for me with backup cakes.” Miley had an in with a baker who kept a stash of frozen cakes and an employee on-call at all times. Cake disasters were not common, but were always enough to send an already anxious bride over the edge. Usually a few accents in the wedding colors could be added to an all-white cake. And no one pays attention to the flavor when it is being smashed in their face. She pushed a button and silenced the phone as she hit the bottom of the stairs.

After finding the bridesmaids at the back door smoking pot, she sent them up to be with Vanessa. While Miley did not blatantly suggest it, she hoped they would share their stash with the keyed up bride.

Miley made sure the wedding guests had begun to file into the downstairs of the house. She had personally never been in a house where the dining and living spaces could be opened up large enough to hold so many people. Even more would be arriving for the reception. That was saying something, as she had been in many lavish homes in her career of party planning.

“Just as long as the groom arrives,” Miley thought to herself. She pushed through a side door and cut across the impeccable lawn, taking a shortcut over to the reception tents. But she wasn’t quick enough.

“Miss Riley!” someone shouted from behind her. She held up her tablet to block her face and shield her from the shouter. She assumed it was probably the father of the bride. She knew her action was rude, but if he really wanted everything to go off without a hitch, he would let her check on the essentials. Miley had learned a long time ago from her mentor and business partner Jenny Jones, “Take care of the essentials, and the details will fall into place.” All the hardest challenges always happened before the ceremony began.

Miley’s light pink dress that came just above the knee flowed behind her as she hurried down the sidewalk, her high heels clicking all the way. She was glad she had chosen a sleeveless dress and worn her hair up. The humidity had been near one hundred percent all morning. She knew the impending storm would cool off the southern evening some, but never enough.

“I bet you are ready for vacation,” Travis yelled across the tables to Miley. She made a beeline over to him.

Travis Masen was a caterer that Miley used regularly when she was doing jobs close to home, such as in Huntington or Oakley. He was a great caterer. He made great food. He was very reliable. And he was Miley’s best friend.

Miley knew that after the cost of food, the delivery truck, advertising, and paying his employees, Travis didn’t make a ton of money from catering. But he was a bachelor who knew how to pinch a penny. And he drove a motorcycle, so that didn’t take much gas. Anything for the business was a potential tax write-off. He did make enough that he didn’t have to work any other jobs for anyone else.

He hoped to one day get a store front. Not only would he be able to have access to industrial kitchen equipment that he did not have now, but he could also serve some of his specialties in a café-type atmosphere to customers off the street.

Travis used to be a skateboarder. It was still evident in his long shaggy blond hair and the baggy clothes he wore on his days off. Miley always thought of him as a “skate rat,” but she couldn’t remember if that was a derogatory term or not, so she only used it in her head. He probably would still be hanging with that crowd, not doing much of anything with his life, if he had not found his love of cooking.

Travis was mostly self-taught. Miley asked him once if that meant he just sat around and watched a lot of the Food Channel. He scoffed at Miley. He tried to explain how cooking had to be experienced by the five senses. He claimed you couldn’t know how to prepare food until you felt the textures with your hands. He told her you couldn’t smell onions sautéing through a television screen. He was right; at least until next year, when the Smell-O-Vision 5000 hits stores. She didn’t really understand what he was getting at. But she did always enjoy eating the results.

Occasionally, he could still be seen riding his skateboard through the park on a cool evening at twilight. Miley didn’t understand the hobby. When she was driving and saw an assemblage of youth hanging out skateboarding, she turned up her nose at them. Just a waste of time. No value to it.

But when she saw Travis on his board, she never thought those things. It was the one time he truly looked free; even more so than when he was cooking. Miley suspected that is how he probably started skateboarding—to have freedom from his mother’s watchful eyes, to control when he came and went. Miley saw that board as the gateway drug to his motorcycle. He wanted to be sure he could go anywhere he wanted to—alone, without his mother following. Miley had ridden on his motorcycle with him a few times. But she missed her radio. And air conditioning.

“This job might kill me before I make it to the airport,” Miley told him, a little too loudly. She looked around to make sure no one from the wedding party had heard. It was very poor customer service to bitch about your client while still at their residence. But this had been a brutal plan from day one. The event fell on a day when Jenny was unable to assist. It also fell the day before Miley’s vacation, which was enough to almost break her. Almost.

“So, you are really leaving me for sunny Los Angeles?” Travis cocked his head to the side in that way he always did, his sandy blond hair shifting to hang in his eyes. He rolled another aluminum food warmer, what he always referred to as a “hot box,” over near the table it would be unloaded onto. Travis moved heavy containers of food and often helped move furniture for events, but he never seemed to develop any more muscle tone. He was skinny, but not tall enough to be lanky. He was a year older than Miley.

“Hells, yes,” Miley said emphatically.

“You know I hate it when you use that expression.” Travis gave her a sour look.

“Two whole weeks. I can’t remember the last time I took a real vacation. It is going to be so fun hanging out with my sister Kiley.”

“Don’t spend all your time stalking the stars. We don’t want another incident like last time,” he stated.

“What? There was no incident when we waited in the parking lot of the sports arena until GC came out. There was the bodyguard nazi, but we outwaited her lies that the band would never come out.”

“No, I’m talking about when you went to Rod Hadley’s home and sat in his driveway for three hours until you saw him come out of the house with his gun,” Travis reminded her.

“Oh, ya, well. There was that. But he never filed any formal charges… that I know of,” she shook her head, recalling the experience again. “That totally scared me off of rock gods for good.”

“You just remember to come back home again, capeesh?” Travis stated pointedly. Travis knew better than anyone how a trip to Hollywood for Miley was like a trip to the liquor store for an alcoholic.

Miley dreamed bigger. She felt she was destined for more than merely some office job like her mother had toiled away at. Her dreams had always resided in the entertainment industry, although she had no specific talents of her own to exploit. But that is what was so great about living in the age of reality TV. Anyone could be discovered at any time. Maybe right now an executive wanted a reality show about an Alabama party planner!

“Oh, you’ll just have to wait and see.” Miley smiled at him, then headed back into the house to start the ceremony as the first raindrops started to fall. She could see the groom through the French doors that overlooked the garden. He was fussing with his hair and then his vest, flustered from having arrived so late.

This would be another success to add to her physical portfolio and her mental ego boost.

*   *   *

As the event was winding down, Miley headed out to find Travis to tell him to pick up her mail while she was gone. If he had already left, she supposed she could text him. Or mention it on their bedtime call, which had become routine between the two of them.

Miley soon lost her train of thought when she saw an attractive man sans shirt loading the catering truck. Miley thought she knew all the employees who worked for Travis, but this guy must be new. It was still warm and muggy after the rain. As she approached, she could see the moisture from the air clinging to the well-defined muscles in his back that moved as he worked. He turned so that she was able to see his nice chest and abdomen, but a box still blocked his face. Holding the box made his biceps bulge under the strain. She felt her whole body flush with the warmth of attraction. He was so yummy Miley wanted to lick him. Or bite him. Or both.

“Ooo, who is that hunk?” Miley asked a server named Tanya.

“Who?” she asked, perplexed. “I only see Travis over there. You know Travis.”

As the man in question turned and put down the box, Miley could plainly see who it had been. Duh, of course Miley knew Travis.

“Oh, he must have walked away. Thanks, though,” Miley quickly covered.

Making goo-goo eyes at Travis? What was she thinking? She really needed to get laid again soon before her indiscriminate lusting really got out of control.


About Jennifer Friess 

Jennifer Friess is an author, blogger, and editor who lives in Lenawee County, Michigan, with her husband, son, and dog. She loves entertainment trivia. She doesn’t match her socks. She is a picky eater and likes it that way. Jennifer is the author of The Riley Sisters series, available now in paperback or on your favorite device.

 

Author Talk – Craig Boyack

CraigToday we sit down with author and blogger Craig Boyack to talk about his latest work, his influences, and writing in general. Please enjoy this interview with this talented author.

 


DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

CB: Thanks, Don. I’m here to tell everyone about The Playground. I’m calling it a paranormal adventure with science fiction sprinkles on top.

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

CB: No, ha ha. Let’s try this: A social network geared toward children is brainwashing them into a private army.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

CB: This book has some adult themes, so it isn’t for the kids. After that, it’s for those who enjoy a thrill ride in speculative fiction.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

CB: The network is called The Playground Network. It seemed like the most natural title for the book.

coverDM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

CB: I always come up with my own concept. This story is written from three interwoven points of view. There is something on the cover to represent all three characters. It’s dark and threatening, and a pair of eyes on the cover is always a good thing. My artist this time is Sean Harrington, who has his own graphic novels.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences (another author, another book, a movie, etc.)

CB: I like to have a good time whether I’m reading, watching a movie, or program. I try to deliver that in my stories. I’ll fall back on Conan Doyle, but also folks like Michael Crichton. I enjoy films like the Pirates of the Caribbean series, anything super hero related, and Jurassic Park.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

CB: One of the point of view characters is Clovis. He is my first attempt at an anti-hero, and he’s so over-the-top I just loved him. He has his own character arc, and was a ton of fun to write.

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

CB: I have to go with Tommy Fazio. He’s the man behind The Playground Network, and is just so creepy. He turns to occult methods to accelerate his plans, and abuses children for his own advancement. He almost looks at our kids like something to be harvested and consumed.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

CB: This is a tough question,  and I’ll bet all your guests struggle with it. There is a special car in the story. I struggled with wrecking it, or letting it come through unscathed. I still wonder if I made the right choice, but I’m not going to spoil it for readers either.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book?

CB: I’m trying something new to me in this book. There are three individual stories involved that weave together to tell a bigger story. I think it works well, but readers are the ultimate judge of such things.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

CB: That’s hard to come up with, because there have been many with a megalomaniac, a chase for the maguffin, and paranormal adventures. I’ll note that it has similarities to the movie Pulp Fiction, and the graphic novel and movie Sin City.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

CB: I have a sourdough starter that’s approaching 30 years old. My wife and I like camping, and looking for wild foods like blueberries and morels. I even like to catch the occasional fish.

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

CB: Here are my social media contacts, and I love to talk to visitors:

Follow my blog: http://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com

Check out my novels here: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ILXBXUY

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Virgilante

On Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9841203.C_S_Boyack

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

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

CB: I’m working on another novel called The Yak Guy Project. I’ll probably come up with a real title as I finish it, but you never know. It’s about an entitled youth that wakes up in an alternate world, with everything stripped away from him. He will need to do things for himself if he’s going to survive. I’m using the Fool’s Journey from the tarot cards as the basis of the story structure. It’s a fun experiment.

I also write short form fiction. When I get a dozen or so good ones I’ll release another book of short stories. These are speculative in nature, and run from science fiction to paranormal, and the occasional fantasy.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

CB: I think reviews are the most important thing. Amazon puts a lot of credit in how many reviews a book has. They increase exposure for those with enough reviews. It doesn’t take much, pick a star value, add a few words and you’re finished. It doesn’t have to be like a book report from grade school. Tell other readers what you liked. Maybe one liked the Binky Thief, another one liked the dog in the story. These count just as much as someone who typed out three pages.

Goodreads is another good option. The simple act of adding it as something you’d like to read gives the book exposure.

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

CB: I add a personal challenge to every novel. Sometimes it’s simple like first person point of view. Sometimes it’s more complicated, like my use of the Fool’s Journey. These challenges have made me a better author.

I think it’s important to actually get to market too. I’m the personality type who looks for perfection that doesn’t exist. Getting over that was a real growth mark for me. I can look at each project and see improvement. Readers might not notice, but I can and it gives me confidence to try new things.

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book to intrigue and tantalize us?

CB: I’ll try to keep it short, because I don’t want your interview to go on too long. A little bit of setup is required. Clovis, my anti-hero just returned from meeting with Wanda. She works in public records, but Clovis wants a bit more detail than that. He’s interrupted by his neighbor, who goes by Chip.


A hard banging came at the door. Only Chip knocks like that. He answered the door in his boxers, “What do you want, Chip?”

The tiny Asian man said, “What’s with dog? He set out here and shiver all morning. Whine like big baby too. Oooooo, Oooooo. Dog freezing to death, so I take him my place.”

“Did you eat him?”

“No, asshole. My family not eat dogs. Dog eats everything in sight. Cold noodles, garbage, drinks from toilet.”

“He’s not my dog. Sounds like your ancestors blessed you with a pet.”

The dog pushed past Chip and jumped on the couch. He thumped his tail excitedly at seeing Clovis.

“Not your dog, huh? He’s just like you, no manners. Licks his own butt.”

“Come on in and shut the door. Want a beer?”

“Of course.”

“What’s the odds on the Rams game this weekend?”

“Not good, fourteen points.”

“Give me ten on the Rams anyway.” He grabbed his wallet from the pants on the floor and handed over the money.” Chip closed the refrigerator, and handed him one of his own beers.

Clovis found the frozen dinners in his bag and offered them to Chip. “This ought to cover what he ate.”

“No. That’s all crap. Feed it to stupid dog.”

“I need you to watch him one night next week too. I have a date.” He pushed the boxes at Chip. “You can feed these to him. The kids will love him.”

“No. He tries to hump kids.”

“How about you watch him over here then? There’s beer in the fridge and a basketball game on TV.”

“Basketball is stupid sport.”

“You can rent a porn movie then. My treat.”

“Okay, but might need two movies.”

Clovis opened his beer and sat on the couch. “Knock yourself out. What do you know about Asian Dawn?”

Chip waved his hands back and forth. “They tough characters. Big business, all illegal. It’s how we came here. Get in shipping box in Singapore, get out along the river before the boat docks. Daughters happy now. Go to school too.”

“How do I tell who’s who on the streets?”

“Hard to do. They like invisible tattoos. Need special light to see. They brand themselves though. Look at back of hand for cigarette burns in a pattern.”

“What kind of pattern?”

“All different. Sometimes straight line, sometimes Southern Cross, sometimes triangle. Don’t know what it all means. They very secret people. Dress clean cut. No saggy butt pants, no flashy colors.”

“But they’re all Chinamen like you?”

“No. Upper class all Asian, different kinds, but all Asian. Regular workers could be anyone.” He pulled back his sleeves. “See no burns.”

“So you’re above all that.”

“Run clean sports book. No gangs.”

“Know any of them?”

“Only one in Singapore. We paid, got in box, that’s it.”

“Thanks, Chip. Take another beer with you when you leave.”

“You never date. You with fat Wanda again?”

“You caught me. I’m thinking of taking a new job and she might know something.”

“Fat Wanda. Ha ha ha ha ha.”

“Don’t rub it in.”

“You be careful. Don’t break hip. Ha ha ha ha.”

Clovis waved his hand at Chip and headed for the shower.


Thank you, Don, for inviting me to your blog. The Playground is available . Your readers can get a copy here http://a-fwd.com/asin=B01D6EF6RI

About Craig Boyack:

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Author Talk – Steve Boseley

Steve face BW

Today we sit down with author Steve Bosely to talk about his work and his inspiration. Please enjoy.


DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

SB: My novella, my first book, is Die, Blossom, Bloom.  It crosses over more than one genre, but broadly speaking, it fits into suburban horror, with elements of thriller / mystery.

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

SB: Die, Blossom, Bloom is a story of grief, guilt, and suspicion in the sleepy village of Haverly.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

SB: Anyone that enjoys horror that doesn’t have vampires or werewolves!  Seriously though, anyone that has ever tackled an impossible situation and watched things get out of control should find something in there to relate to.

People should read it because, despite being horror, it’s also an emotional tale of one man’s grief and what can happen when a situation spirals out of control.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

It went through several names until a group of my readers settled on Die, Blossom, Bloom.  It makes more sense when you read it.

DBB SmashwordsDM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?

SB: I wanted a stark image for this novella, something open with lots of white space, so I took some suggestions and put the cover together myself.  I’ve got some college fine arts and graphic design students on the case for my next book, so I may come back to DBB in the future for a redesign of this one!

DM: What are your biggest writing influences (another author, another book, a movie, etc.)

SB: It might be an obvious answer, but as a horror writer I’ve been influenced by Stephen King’s work, particularly his Dark Tower series.  I’ve also been reading a lot of HP Lovecraft and still find something new each time.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

SB: Ted Harris would be my fave.  He digs his garden while wearing a shirt and tie.  Gotta respect that!

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

SB: Easy one to pick: Geraldine Butler-Thompson is a thoroughly unlikeable woman.  Her sense of her position in the village hierarchy makes me mad thinking about it now.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

SB: I think I would want to play more on the mystery element.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact  your novella?

SB: The setting for the story, the village of Haverly, appears in several other stories I have written.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

SB: I would say it is a cross between John Connolly’s Nocturnes and Michael Connelly’s crime works.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

SB: Singing along to 1980’s pop music whilst cleaning up in the kitchen.

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

SB: website: www.authorsteveboseley.com  – get in touch!

Email: authorsteveboseley@gmail.com

Twitter: @steveboseley

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

SB: I already have my second and third books lined up.  Next up, later this year is A Sinister Six.  It’s a collection of six horror and dark fiction stories.  It includes some of my work that has previously appeared in online horror webzines.

This will also be released as an audiobook, voiced by Charles Hyner (@charles_hyner)

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

SB: Share the book details with your networks.  Buy a copy (if you can still grab it on pre order, you can get hold of a story in the upcoming A Sinister Six early plus benefit from a reduced price) and if you enjoy it, leave a review!

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

SB: Write regularly.  Hone your craft.  Look professional even if you’re not.  Learn about marketing your book and yourself as a brand.  Write because you love it.

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book ?

SB: Sure.


He moved to the window.  The rain was still falling, heavier than earlier.  There were a few people out, but not many.  His attention was drawn to the raised patch of earth in the garden.  There was something there that he could not see clearly without his glasses.  He pulled them out of his breast pocket and slipped them on.  He blinked twice to make sure he was seeing what he thought he was seeing.  When he was certain, he ran to the front door, ripped it open, and ran into his garden.  He threw himself down on the grass, shielding his eyes from the rain.  There were two fingers protruding from the earth where the rain had washed it away.  Ted couldn’t be sure, but he thought an animal of some kind had found the fingers as well; there were what looked like claw marks in the soil and bite marks on the fingers.

He rose up from his kneeling position and looked around.  There was no one in sight, so he piled more earth on the fingers and rushed back inside.  Leaving it for another night may be tempting fate so grabbing the roll of plastic bags, he ran back into the garden.  Using his hands, he dug up the pieces of his wife.  They were slick with rain and mud, making them difficult to grasp.  More than once, he dropped one of the pieces, causing him to let out a startled yell.  Each time he did, he rose up on his knees, like a meerkat surveying the prairie, and peered over his garden wall into the street.  A combination of the rain and the hour had driven everyone away, and when satisfied, he gathered up the dropped piece and finished the bagging.


About Steve Bosely

Steve is a freelance writer, living in Nottingham, UK.

His dark fiction and horror short stories have appeared in several online webzines, and the anthologies The Asylum Within and Dead but Dreaming Halloween Edition. Most recently, Steve was a guest author for the short story collection Deathly Musings.

Steve enjoys writing horror that makes you stop and think: Could that happen to me? Although from time to time, the odd demon can creep in!

 

 

Back Story – When do you use it? How much should you use? Is it necessary?

Here is an oldie but goodie that I thought I would re-post with some updates:


My blog this week expands on a concept that appeared as a tip in an earlier blog. That tip focused on removing writing that was unnecessary. When I completed my first book, I tried to make sure that all of my characters were fully developed. I created biographies for each of them using templates that I found on the Internet. These templates included sections for physical attributes, motivations, character traits, family background and other biographical details.

In my Frank Rozzani Detective Series, the main character has events in his back story that motivate who he is in the present time. These events pushed him into his career as a private detective and forced him to relocate. My first draft of the book had two full chapters devoted to Frank’s back story. I thought that readers would want all of this rich detail about his former life in Syracuse, NY along with his family history and the tragic events that brought him to the present day in the story. I incorporated this as a flashback. I was excited about it and sent it off to my editor.

When I received my editor’s comments, she slashed nearly all of the flashback chapters from the book. She said that it was all unnecessary and that I should be more stingy with the back story and spread it out throughout this book and the ones that would follow. It was a blow to my ego at first, but in hindsight, she was absolutely right.

After this eureka moment, I started looking at the way other writers used back story in their work. Some of them, like John D. MacDonald and Elmore Leonard use back story very sparingly and only reveal details when they are relevant to the current story. Others like Dean Koontz and, in some instances, Stephen King, use back story to develop their characters into living and breathing people full of complexity. I wanted to land somewhere in the middle and I think, with my first book, and to a greater degree, my second book, I have succeeded somewhat.

Have I mastered the use of back story? Absolutely not. I don’t think, as writers, we ever truly perfect any aspect of our writing. I thought, however, that I would post some tips that I use and that might help you as you look for balance in sharing character background information in your work.

flashback

1) Use the flash back technique sparingly: Unless you are writing a book about time travel, you can really confuse your reader by jumping back and forth in your book. If your reader starts to wonder where and when the story is taking place, you might lose them. If you must use flash back, consider doing it in short doses, such as in a character’s dream. If you have to devote a chapter to it, be certain that the details are relevant to the story.

conversation

2) Consider giving past information as part of a conversation: This technique might involve a character telling their story to another character as part of a conversation. You want to avoid long monologues by your main character. You should try to make the reveal of the back story more of an interactive scene between the characters.

background

3) Incorporate portions of background details as a summary: Many authors use this technique to indicate what has happened in the past. They will reveal details in the character’s background with single sentences.  Here is an example:

“As an attorney, John vigorously went after cigarette manufacturers. He wanted nothing more than to be victorious in cases against them while securing high punitive damages for his clients. This passion was fueled by the deaths of both of his parents from lung cancer.”

believe4) Make the back story believable and realistic: As an author, you should think out the main points of your main characters’  back story. Don’t invent events just to suit your story. The back story should be grounded in some type of reality. You can’t have your character defeat their enemy with a complex form of martial arts if studying the techniques do not make sense in the characters background. Maybe he or she was in special forces or spent time in Asia.

need-to-know-gif

5) Create a situation where the information needs to be known: In my first book, Frankly Speaking, the main character is single and is being pursued by a beautiful, successful woman. Despite her obvious hints, he resists her. When things finally come to a head, he reveals the details of his wife’s murder to her and explains his reluctance to get into a new relationship. This is a case where the reader was aware of some of the details, but other characters were not.

I hope that these tips about back story were helpful to you. I learn more about the different methods to reveal character background details as I read more and apply the techniques that I’ve learned to my own writing. Those things that motivate your characters might be the things that keep your readers interested, especially if you have multiple works that feature the same cast of characters.