Today we are going to meet a multi-faceted individual who is not only a writer, but also a lawyer, game developer, and musician/songwriter. He has also acted in community theatre and been involved in Boston politics. In 1989, Michael Ventrella and his wife, Heidi, helped form the largest live action roleplaying organization in the United States, now known as The Alliance. Michael contributed to Inside Scoop: Articles about Acting and Writing by Hollywood Insiders and Published Authors. We're going to talk to Michael about some of these amazing things he’s done. This is one of several interviews I am performing with writers who contributed to Inside Scoop.
Welcome to The Book Connection, Michael. It’s a great pleasure to have you with us.
Thank you! It’s great to be here. This is quite an honor!
Let’s get started by finding out more about you. Did I leave out anything good from my introduction?
No, you make me sound much better than I really am.
How long have you been writing? Who or what has influenced your writing career the most?
I was writing stories even as a kid, but none of them were any good. In High School I wrote a musical comedy play called “But I’m Allergic to Horses” (a western) which the school performed, but then college beckoned. I tried sending in some short stories to magazines after law school, but they weren’t accepted and in retrospect they weren’t very well done either.
The fact is that writing is a skill that takes practice. The more you write (even boring things like legal briefs, in my case) the better you become. A successful writer needs more than just good ideas. My first novel was accepted by Double Dragon, but it is certainly not my first piece of writing.
What I have been doing mostly is writing for my live action role-playing game – there are many complicated plotlines when you have hundreds of players at once in chapters all over the country. There is a “Players’ Guide” to the game (available on Amazon.com! Get yours now!) which contains tremendous background to the fantastic duchy of Ashbury.
So my gaming experience is what has influenced me the most. Other than that, I love reading JK Rowling, Orson Scott Card, Peter Dick, Tad Williams – and classics like Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.
Your biography says that you are a regular fixture at science fiction conventions on the east coast. Do any of these experiences work their way into your writing?
No, not really, since I am mostly writing in a fantasy realm… but if you see me at one and have an idea, let me know!
Let’s move on to your contribution to Inside Scoop because it sounds fascinating. Your article was titled, “Basing Your Novel on a Game: What, are you stupid?” Now, am I correct when I say that this is exactly what you did with your novel, Arch Enemies?
You are indeed correct! Many years ago, my wife and I wrote an adventure for our game called ‘Arch Enemies’ and I kept saying to myself “This plotline would make a great book!” I finally decided to write it, and that’s when I learned why that was a bad idea.
You see, what works well in a game can make for a terrible novel (and vice versa). A novel needs the kind of character development that you just can’t write in a game, for instance. Further, a game is written so that a large number of players can enjoy it at the same time, whereas a novel needs a single protagonist.
I eventually ignored all the game rules, tossed out a lot of the subplots, but kept the well-developed game world as the setting.
I know it works because people reading the book have no idea it was based on a game. And that means I succeeded!
My article in “Inside Scoop” is to hopefully prevent others from making the same mistakes I did in my earliest drafts.
Tell us a bit more about Arch Enemies. What is the premise of this novel?
A young bard named Terin is called before the Duke and told that he fits a certain prophecy. He is the one who will stop the Duchy’s enemies from removing the magic from a special Arch (get the pun now?) behind which the enemy’s leaders have been magically trapped for hundreds of years. However, he is forbidden from reading the prophecy and not told how he is to accomplish this.
The enemy nation is comprised primarily of a race of people called the biata, who are descended from gryphons. The biata have powerful mental abilities, and can control people with these powers as if they were enslaved.
Sure enough, it isn’t long before our reluctant hero is attacked by people he had previously trusted and is forced to go into hiding. His only companions are two squires who are torn between following their orders and doing what they think is right.
But that makes it sound so serious! It’s a fun adventure, with unexpected twists and turns, a bit of mystery, cliffhanger chapter endings, and a nice touch of humor. Terin has to figure out the meaning of the prophecy while never knowing who he can trust, and part of the fun for me is having him figure things out along the way only to discover later that he was completely wrong. Still, everything fits together in the end and clues that seemed unimportant early on turn out to be tremendously relevant.
Do you believe a writer could take any roleplaying game and turn it into a novel?
It depends on how constrained he or she would be by the material.
I’ve started to read a few novels based on games, and I never finished them – I felt like I was just reading a description of someone Dungeons and Dragons adventure or computer game. If I wanted that, I’d just play the game. A good story is much more important than the game itself.
Are there legal issues to consider if the game isn’t one that you’ve created?
Absolutely! Without a doubt. Any novel you see out there based on a game (or a movie or TV show or a toy) has been approved by whoever owns the copyright for the original source. Fortunately, I own the copyright to my game so was able to negotiate a very good deal with myself.
If you could offer only one piece of advice to someone considering writing a novel based upon a roleplaying game, what would it be?
Throw away the rules. No one cares what level a spell is or how it works so long as it is dramatically exciting and important to the plot.
Let’s say you’re a Dungeon Master and your game world is well developed and your players really like your creativity. Take that and use it, but free yourself from the chains of the rules.
Concentrate on the plot and that way, your book won’t read like a transcript of your game. Plus if you do that well you won’t violate any copyrights!
What is up next for you? Do you have future projects you would like to share with us?
The sequel to “Arch Enemies” is called “The Axes of Evil”! I’m very happy with it so far and think it is better than the previous in many ways. I wish I had more time in my life to write, but I hope to get this out by the summer.
Thanks for spending time with us today, Michael. I wish you continued success.
The War of the Roses was a civil war in England that lasted from 1455 to 1487. During these years, the families descended through Edward III battled the families descended from Henry IV to lay claim to the throne. This war that devastated England, provides a powerful backdrop for the romance that unfolds between Isobel Ingoldesthorpe and Sir John Neville, medieval ancestors of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Sir Winston Churchill.
Here's an excerpt:
Amid lightning, thunder, and the pelting rain of a summer storm, a castle appeared in the distance, as if in answer to my prayers. “There!” I cried, unable to restrain my great relief. “We can take refuge there, can’t we, Sœur Madeleine?”
With the wind whipping her cloak around her, Sœur Madeleine turned her small, plump bulk in her saddle and, ignoring the young man-at-arms, Guy, directed herself to the squire accompanying us on our journey. “Master Giles, you know this place that is so curious?” she inquired. Her English was so heavily laden with the accent of her native Anjou that if I didn’t listen carefully, she seemed to be speaking French. But she was right about the castle. Set in an open emerald field instead of high on a hill, and more like a magnificent country mansion inviting to guests than a fortress designed to repel enemies, it made a strange sight with its hexago– nal redbrick towers, large windows, and tall, narrow frame.
“I believe it belongs to Lord Ralph Cromwell, Sister,” replied Master Giles, his horse’s hooves sucking in and out of the sticky, mud-mired road. “I heard he built a castle of red brick in Lincolnshire called Tattershall.”
“And this lord . . . which is his allegiance, the Red Rose or the White?”
Master Giles threw Sœur Madeleine a small, sardonic laugh. “No man can be sure, Sister— ’tis said Lord Cromwell changes color with the wind. He was King Henry’s lord chancellor back in the thirties, but a few years ago he quarreled with the Lancastrians and wed his niece to a Yorkist lord. After the Battle of St. Albans, I heard he quarreled with the Yorkists and now considers himself a loyal Lancastrian adherent of the queen’s.”
Sœur Madeleine gave a horrified gasp. “Such a man is a traitor! In France we would know what to do with him.”
From what I could see of Master Giles’s face, hidden between his collar and his sodden wool hat, I could tell his thoughts: This was England, and a good thing too. Even the French queen who had wed our King Henry couldn’t change that.
“Perhaps we should not stop,” Sœur Madeleine said suddenly, pulling up so sharply her horse almost lost its footing in a muddy puddle and snorted in protest. “Mon dieu, he may have changed back to York, and I will not take ’ospitality from a traitor!”
Master Giles and Guy rested their gazes on me, and their expressions told me I was the only one who could avert this setback. If we passed up this castle, we had no assurance of finding a hamlet with lodging for the night, and might well find ourselves sleeping under a tree. Wet and shivering with cold in the stinging rain, I too had been excited at the thought of a hot meal and a change of clothes. Now all stood in jeopardy. Fond as I was of Sœur Madeleine, she could be quite impractical. Fortunately, thanks to the kindly, almost maternal interest she had taken in me during the few weeks we had known one another, I had been able to use my influence with her for the benefit of our entire little party on the long journey from Marrick Priory in Yorkshire down to London. I took a breath before I spoke.
Sandra Worth has degrees in political science and economics from the University of Toronto and is the author of four historical novels set during the Wars of the Roses. She is the winner of ten writing awards and prizes in Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Texas and Arizona, including the First Place Prize of the Francis Ford Coppola-sponsored NEW CENTURY WRITERS AWARD, and the 2003 Glyph Award of the Arizona Publishers Association for Best Adult Fiction. In 2007, Sandra signed a two-book deal with Berkley Trade, a division of the Penguin Group (USA). LADY OF THE ROSES: A NOVEL OF THE WARS OF THE ROSES, was released January 2, 2008, and THE KING’S DAUGHTER: A NOVEL OF THE FIRST TUDOR QUEEN is coming December, 2008.
******* LADY OF THE ROSES VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on Feb. 1, 2008 and continue all month. If you would like to follow Sandra's tour, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/. Leave a comment on her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of her tour! One lucky winner will be announced on this page on February 29!
This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:
A powerful, gripping story of betrayal and forgiveness, The Amen Sisters by Angela Benson is truly unforgettable.
Five years ago, Francine Amen renounced her family and friends to follow Bishop Payne's ministry. That decision would leave her questioning her faith and would cost Francine her best friend, Toni. After three years in a mental institution to help Francine deal with her guilt over Toni's suicide, her sister, Dawn brings her back home to the place where it all began, to help her rebuild her life and make amends.
As Francine deals with the repercussions of being led astray by a false man of God, Dawn is dealing with her own form of betrayal. Dawn's husband, Sylvester--Francine's ex-fiance--had an extramarital affair. Already insecure that Sylvester really loved her, Dawn struggles to forgive his transgression and work towards healing their marriage.
Can the Amen sisters get past the betrayals and grasp the power of forgiveness to move on with their lives? Will Francine ever be accepted by the family and friends she turned away from? Can Dawn ever forget that Sylvester found love in the arms of another woman? And will Dawn and Francine allow God to help show them the way?
I had never read one of Angela Benson's novels before The Amen Sisters. Now, I want to own all of them. No wonder she has been called, "One of the most talented writers of fiction."
This story drew me in right away with its well-developed characters and its all too realistic storyline. Benson is a master storyteller who creates, with The Amen Sisters, two women you sympathize with and whose strength you admire.
A tale of unforgettable characters, love, forgiveness, and faith, The Amen Sisters is an inspiring story of hope that all readers will enjoy.
Title: The Amen Sisters Author: Angela Benson Publisher: Walk Worthy Press ISBN: 0-446-53153-7 U.S. Price: $13.99
The Book Connection is pleased to have author Marvin Zimmerman with us today. Marvin is also the Publisher and Editor for INMR Quarterly Review-- a publication in the field of transmission and distribution of electrical energy, with 20,000 readers worldwide. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a M.B.A in international business. Today we'll be talking with Marvin about his fiction thriller novel The Ovum Factor.
Welcome to The Book Connection, Marvin. I'm thrilled you could join us.
Thank you. I’m glad to be here as well.
Before we get to The Ovum Factor, please tell us a bit about yourself. Where were you born and where do you now reside? What are some of your interests outside of writing?
I was born in the place made famous by the movie The Sound of Music– Salzburg Austria, also best known as the birthplace of Mozart. Coincidentally, I was born the same day as Mozart - Jan. 27 – although obviously a few years later.
Now, I live in Montreal, Canada, better known for its hockey than its music.
My greatest interest is traveling and writing about all the many fascinating places seen and people I’ve met over the years. I have been lucky enough to have visited over 60 countries so far, most many times.
In addition to all you do now, you've owned a small consulting firm specializing in international marketing, traveled extensively, and taught International Business at two of Canada's largest universities. How have those experiences influenced your writing? And how have they changed or solidified your views of the world today?
My years of consulting across many fields have given me a very broad range of knowledge that is very helpful in constructing the plot for any new novel. Similarly, teaching gave me useful experience in presenting my ideas in such a way that they can be easily understood.
My novels have a strong international flavor because of my extensive background as a world traveler and also because people today are linked together in a way as never before. When someone anywhere in the world does something significant, it has a global impact almost immediately. Every issue therefore has to be seen from an international perspective. It is no longer sufficient to think that when toxic waste lands in a river in China, it’s their problem alone. That when thousand year old trees are burned down in the Amazon to make farm land for cattle that it’s of no concern to us. We all pay the price for such localized tragedies.
Let's talk about The Ovum Factor. What is this book all about?
In a few words, The Ovum Factor is about one man’s journey to find a possible solution to the catastrophic effects of climate change. In the process, he finds himself swept up in a world of international espionage and sabotage as he races against the clock to save the people he loves most.
The Ovum Factor will take the reader on a spellbinding adventure from the centers of high finance in New York to the California Institute of Technology in beautiful Pasadena – from the villages of southern China to the slums of Rio de Janeiro and then into the hidden depths of the Amazon jungle. In between, there will be more twists and turns than The Da Vinci Code.
It's my understanding that this book was written in two exotic locations and that the images and experiences from your time in those places are written into the novel. Where was the book written and how did you turn your firsthand experiences into a novel?
The Ovum Factor was written entirely in Brazil – partly in Rio de Janeiro and partly in the Amazon.
While in these exotic and unforgettable places, I was inspired by the sights and smells, the sounds and textures of the rainforest, which one finds even in and around Rio. The unusual people I met during my several months stay eventually find themselves interwoven into the characters of The Ovum Factor. For example, while visiting a remote Indian tribe, I was introduced to their shaman or healer who became the model for the character Bakú in my book. Bakú’s tribe also used the glove embedded with aggressive live tucandeira ants whose bites are extremely painful. This inspired the episode where the protagonist, David Rose, is challenged to compete against an Indian warrior in this exceptional test of courage.
Tell us about David Rose. Who is he? Why will readers relate to him? And why will they care what happens to him?
David is a complex personality who, because of family influence, ends up working as a New York investment banker – something that does not suit his real interests and inclinations. As a result, more and more he finds himself asking “what am I doing with my life?”
Many readers may relate to someone who suddenly finds a doorway opening for him into the life destiny had always planned for him. Through the manner in which he discovers this fact, these readers may find themselves wondering whether they are also living according to their true destinies.
Because the stakes are so high, every reader will care about how David meets the many challenges fate has laid out for him. And, hopefully, they will share in his emotional journey.
When we first meet David, he is contemplating how his life has turned out very differently than he had planned. Do you think that happens to all of us? Is there a chance that David will find the path to the life he originally dreamed of?
As I already said, there are many people whose lives are guided by others and not by their real purpose. Reading The Ovum Factor may inspire some of these to look at their lives differently and question whether they have the courage to do what their hearts dictate.
With The Ovum Factor you also seek to share a message with readers that is very dear to your heart. Can you tell us about that?
As a frequent and experienced world traveler, I have seen the rapid and ongoing destruction of our environment, from Brazil to China, from Canada to Indonesia. My simple message is that if we destroy nature, then nature will destroy us. Our world is a highly-interactive one where the survival of each species is closely linked to the survival of the others. It is a complex system balanced by eons of adjustment and correction by the forces of nature. Whatever was out-of-balance in the past, nature corrected.
Climate change may end up being nature’s way of correcting the heavy-handed influence of humanity on a planet shared by millions of other species.
Where can readers purchase a copy of The Ovum Factor?
The Ovum Factor is available at most major book retailers and also at popular web sites for purchasing books, such as Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com
If anyone has difficulty finding it, they should visit the novel’s web site for additional information: The Ovum Factor
What is up next for you? Are there future projects you wish to share with us?
Yes, I am now finishing my second novel, The Last Noble Truth, which is another eco-thriller, this time focusing on the destructive practices of the oil industry and highlighting the potential for wind energy. It is another great adventure where the protagonist – an oil exploration geologist - faces great challenges and by some strange fate becomes inspired by the teachings of Buddhism. Readers can find the first chapter of this next book at: http://www.theovumfactor.com/about-the-author/sneak-preview.html
Is there anything you would like to add?
Maybe one last point. I hope readers will give me a chance as a new novelist. The themes of my books are highly relevant to the world we now live in and they offer unforgettable adventure and romance along the way.
Thank you for being our guest today, Marvin. I wish you much success.
This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:
If you're looking for help, if you're looking for hope, if you're looking for encouragement, look no further than Sermonsnacks. This powerful devotional will inspire you along life's journey and make the ordinary seem extraordinary.
Donald Collette chose the best Scriptures and perfectly matched them with thought-provoking comments to put together a devotional that is powerful, yet easy to read. Using Scriptures from both The Message and the New International Version, Sermonsnacks offers help, hope, and encouragement for every facet of your life: to build your faith, for the times when you are in pain or suffering, for the times when you're lonely, and for help with work and your finances. When you seek help, hope, and encouragement in your family life, in your marriage, and in your senior years, Sermonsnacks will be there with words of Biblical wisdom and insightful, inspirational commentary.
I will keep Sermonsnacks by my bedside and read it every day as part of my morning and evening prayer ritual.
Don't you wish there was an easier way to start parent/teen discussions with your child? Now there is!
Thomas Wade Bounds' new series for teens, Choices, gives parents a way to jumpstart conversations about the important choices facing our young people today. In the first book, My Secrets, released by Xulon Press, young Rachel gets pregnant after one night of passion shared with her boyfriend, Gary. She doesn't find out until after Gary leaves for college and he never returns any of her messages. Left alone to decide what she will do, Rachel believes abortion is the only way. As a frightened Rachel waits for the doctor to come in and perform the procedure, she passes out and has dreams of her unborn child, which make her realize she might have another choice.
My Secrets delivers a powerful message, but it is a bit heavy handed for my liking. The book would be better with the help of an editor, but it was still a quick read--which can be important when trying to spur those parent/teen discussions. It will be interesting to see how this series of books develops and what topics will be discussed next.
Title: Choices: My Secrets
Author: Thomas Wade Bounds
Publisher: Xulon Press
I've known Deborah for a little while now. She's hosted my clients at her Paranormal Watch blog. So when Dorothy asked me if I would host Deborah and Prosperity: A Ghost Story on their Virtual Book Tour, how could I say no? Actually, I never thought of saying no because Prosperity sounds like one fabulous and spooky story.
Amanda Thorne is an embattled clairvoyant, who refuses to believe in God or the afterlife, even when the ghost of her murdered husband confronts her from his grave. More ghosts confront her when she finds herself stranded in a tiny town in Arizona.
Two of them mistake her for a prominent woman who was murdered 79 years ago. One of them wants to avenge him for the murder, and the other wants to kill her all over again. She and her misplaced deputy friend must uncover the truth about the murder before history repeats itself.
I asked Deborah where her fascination with the paranormal came from and what resources she uses for research. I also thought it would be neat if she would share one of her favorite ghost stories with us. Here's what she had to say:
I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal, especially where ghosts are concerned. I grew up reading all kinds of horror stories, but it was always the ghost stories that got my heart and mind going. Are they real, or is the character crazy? Is the malevolent ghost going to hurt them? In the case of a lost soul, will they receive help to get wherever it is that they are going to go?
Whether I’m writing an article for Paranormalwatch.com or a novel, I find that research is key to discovering great stories for my articles and gaining new ideas/insight for my novels. My favorite research tool is Google Alerts, which sends me news stories on the subject of the paranormal everyday. I also rely on paranormal sites such as TAPS and Ghostvillage.com. Finally, there is my best online friend, Amazon.com. My paranormal book collection grows a bit each year.
Another key element in my research is history. What makes a place haunted? Who were the people that might be haunting this place, and why would they stay behind? Some examples are Sarah Winchester of the infamous Winchester Mystery House, the patients of Waverly Hills Sanitorium, and the guests of the Goldfield Hotel in Goldfield, Nevada.
The most fascinating story I’ve ever read was about the Monte Cristo Historic Homestead in Junee, Australia. I was reading an article about two journalists who fled after getting “spooked.” Their story was rather vague and uninspiring, but I clicked on the link to the Monte Cristo site and began reading various accounts of visitors breaking down crying for no apparent reason when they entered a certain room and stood in a certain spot, lights turning on throughout the mansion when no one was home, apparitions seen by visitors, etc.
******* PROSPERITY: A GHOST STORY VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 will officially begin on Feb. 1, 2008 and continue all month. If you would like to follow Deborah’s tour, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com.
Win a free copy of Deborah’s book by commenting on her tour stops! One lucky person will be chosen at the end of her tour on Feb. 29 and announced on her tour page at http://tinyurl.com/2q4jze! Deborah’s virtual book tour is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours at http://www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com and choreographed by Dorothy Thompson. Check out http://www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com/authorsontour.html to find out how you can get a free bookmark from Deborah (plus other incentives!) by purchasing her book at any online bookstore, her publisher’s website or her website (where applicable).
Tonia, a blonde bombshell with a bust to make a Barbie doll weep, is a klutz. Wearing four-inch spike heels, and already top heavy, her center of gravity is elusive. When hunky medical student Raphael Beauchamp comes to her rescue twice, he thinks he knows why Tonia’s falling. It’s those ridiculous designer stilettos.
Tonia takes a tumble down some stairs, resulting in a nasty concussion. Since she’s new in Boston she has no one to stay with her. Raphael opts to look after this headstrong beauty rather than risk second impact syndrome, which can be fatal. Raphael discovers that Tonia’s the ex-wife of a Las Vegas mafia don. She has half an offshore bank account number tattooed on her butt, and someone’s after her. A normal person would don a pair of running shoes and get the hell out of Boston. But it’s too late for Raphael. Tonia’s not the only one who’s been falling.
Can Tonia handle it when she finds out the other half of the account number is tattooed on the butt of her ex-husband’s mistress? Raphael has to protect these two unfriendly women from the mob and from each other as they go on a madcap adventure to the Cayman Islands.
I asked Ashlyn how you go about researching a book like Heaving Bosoms. Here's what she had to say:
It has a woman who had married a mobster, a medical student, a Vegas showgirl/mistress, and a hit man. Believe it or not, this is the ONLY book I didn’t have to research. I had already done my research via a life rich in strange experiences. What does that say about me?
I was a psychiatric RN for a long, long, loooong time. About 15 years to be exact. I had two patients who were indeed, “married to the mob.” One was a beautiful woman who looked just like an aging Barbie doll. Her husband was ruthless. He turned into an abusive (blankety-blank) when her gorgeous looks began to fade, even turning her own sons against her. She was one of the few who wanted to remain on the locked ward—because she felt safer there. Her story was so sad, we actually hugged and cried together at one point, despite a strict, “hands-off” policy.
Another woman came to our crisis center when I was the director. Her hit-man ex-husband went to jail. She had been in hiding and isolated for so long, she had become extremely depressed. She was still terrified that he would have someone go after her since he’d never forgiven her for divorcing him. She didn’t think she’d ever be able to go outside without disguising herself and even so, feared he’d find her.
And then there was the mafia-connected man who came into the drug rehab when I worked the night shift. He couldn’t sleep, so he stayed up all night telling me his whole life story for two nights in a row. He thought it would make a great book. Believe me, I learned things I never wanted to know! Why, oh, why did I tell him I wanted to be a writer? So—I had a good basic knowledge of these very complicated people and the lives they led.
As a nurse who attended Newton-Wellesley School of Nursing, a Tufts teaching hospital, I worked and studied beside medical students every day. There was one particular young man who I shared some cases with and we became casual friends. He had financial problems (Tufts ain’t cheap!) and had to finish his schooling at home in Texas instead of the medical Mecca that is Greater Boston. Too bad. He was a babe! (giggles) I had my hero attend a less expensive school, work per diem as a paramedic and use his credit card to help Tonia. The two-day trip to Grand Cayman to collect an unknown amount of money from an offshore bank account was courtesy of the villain. I was positively wounded when one reviewer said my hero didn’t sound like a medical student and he couldn’t have afforded a vacation in the Caymans! Did she read my book? My uncles who are doctors helped answer my questions, and they may have gone to medical school long ago, but I trust their memories.
The only character I had no experience with was the Vegas showgirl/mistress. Oh well. That’s where imagination comes in. Besides, I’ve watched loads of CSI episodes!
HEAVING BOSOMS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 officially begins on Feb. 1, 2008 and continues all month. If you would like to follow Ashlyn's tour, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/. Leave a comment and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of her tour! One lucky winner will be announced on this page on February 29!
This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:
People have this funny idea that slender people should like their bodies. If I had a dime for each time a person told me how lucky I am that I'm thin, I would be richer than Bill Gates.
Truth is, I hate my body!
I'm not just slender; I'm petite, so everything is small. That includes body parts I wish were bigger. My nose, now, that's plenty big enough. And I feel a bit of pressure not to gain weight, lest my husband suddenly find me unattractive. It's kind of hard to feel sexy when you're buzy analyzing every flaw. Why can't I just can't be happy with what I've got?
Here's a book that might help with that:
Rachel Greene Baldino and Judy Ford have collaborated to bring readers a book that will enhance the sex lives of committed couples everywhere!
From the back cover of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Enhancing Sexual Desire, by Judy Ford and Rachel Greene Baldino:
• Get In The Mood! • Supercharge Your Sex Drive! • Give Your Sex Drive A Boost!
You're no idiot, of course. But you can't figure out what happened to your sex drive. You used to be raring to hop in the sack-and now you're struggling to get your groove back…
Fuel your passion with the powerful pointers in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Enhancing Sexual Desire. In this Complete Idiot's Guide, you get:
• A balanced understanding of the physical and emotional issues that can affect your sex drive • Intimacy-building strategies for enhancing your relationship • Down-to-earth tips for successfully navigating the six stages of love relationships • Satisfying suggestions that will help you get back in touch with your sensuality. Wake up your libido with tips on … • Getting back in touch with your sexuality • Keeping sex hot-even after you're married with children • Staying emotionally in tune with your partner • Feeling more comfortable with yourself • Planning sexy date nights • Making your sexual relationship with your loving, committed partner a top priority • Discovering and nurturing your personal intimacy style
Now, doesn't this book sound fantastic!
I asked the authors to share how a woman's self-esteem and view of her body affects her sexual desire and what tips they would offer to help a woman who is less than happy with her body image. Here's what they had to say:
This is one of our favorite topics and it is a subject that we address in great detail in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Enhancing Sexual Desire, since all the research shows that how a woman feels about herself, her sexuality and her body all have an enormous impact on how much sexual desire she feels at any given moment. We feel very strongly that any steps women can take to boost their self-esteem, to feel happy and comfortable in their own skin, can significantly increase not just their sex drive, but also their sense of connectedness to their own mind, body and spirit. One of the big tips we discuss in this area involves rewarding yourself in ways that feel sensual and body-celebrating.
For instance, you can go with a friend to get a manicure and/or a pedicure. This gives you time to bond and laugh with (and confide in) a good friend, which is always a rejuvenating treat for the mind, body and soul. But it also gives you a chance (quite literally) to instantly add some color, zip and pizzazz to your life, and also to feel pampered and relaxed. After all, part of a pedicure is soaking your feet in warm, bubbly water, sitting in a massage chair that can relax your back, having soothing moisturizer applied to your feet and calves, and getting all the rough, old skin sloughed away by a pumice stone. Just think of the symbolism of that: Allowing layers of old skin (or old views of yourself) to fall away so that fresh, new, baby-soft skin can emerge…and perhaps with it, a fresh, new, ultra-positive view of yourself. Indeed, the pedicure is the classic example of a body-celebrating, sensual activity, in no small part because it is so very symbolic of sloughing off the old and allowing the new to come forth, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. And if it is not for you, rest assured that there are countless other ways to refresh yourself, treat yourself, celebrate your body and remind yourself of both your internal and external beauty and sense of well-being, and we discuss many more of them in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Enhancing Sexual Desire.
Another tip we discuss in the book is considered an “old stand-by” in the self-esteem boosting department, but the reason this particular tip is featured in so many self-help books is that it’s powerful, it’s simple and it genuinely works, and that is: the use of positive affirmations. Since you are focused on feeling sexy, loving the skin you are in, and, consequently, feeling greater sexual desire, keep your affirmations focused on the topic of feeling sexy. Also keep affirmations brief, so that they are easy to remember and to recite in your mind (or, in private moments, out loud) whenever and wherever you want. The example we use in the book is: “I feel strong, sexy and confident today.” It’s no frills, simple, direct and right to the point. And the more you say it to yourself, the more you will believe it. After all, words and thoughts have enormous power, and positive words used well, and repeated over and over again, have even greater power. Think about it. Most of us “live in our heads.” That is, we live in the world of our own private thoughts. But we have more control over our thoughts than we sometimes realize. And if you decide today, “I’m going to take greater control of the thoughts I think, especially when it comes to what I think of myself and my body and my worth as a human being, and in my thoughts, I am going to treat myself with the loving compassion that I deserve,” you will be giving yourself one of the greatest gifts you could ever give to yourself … and to your partner … and to your relationship with each other.
This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:
Here's the latest from editor Marilyn Peake and Double-Dragon Publishing, Inc. This second helping of advice from Hollywood insiders and published authors is an invaluable resource for writers. Compiled and edited by Marilyn Peake, editor of "The Golden Goblet" Newsletter, Marilyn is also the author of a children's fantasy series and adult science fiction and fantasy short stories. She has also contributed to both Twisted Tails anthologies released by Double-Dragon Publishing.
Inside Scoop: Articles about Acting and Writing by Hollywood Insiders and Published Authors
Articles about writing and acting from Hollywood insiders and published authors, many originally published in “The Golden Goblet” Newsletter, voted TOP TEN Finisher in the 2007 Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. First chapter is a lesson on patience that John Klawitter learned while working at Hanna-Barbera Productions. Following are chapters about writing, book promotion, and breaking into the acting profession, as well as a humor column by J. Richard Jacobs. There are also several interviews: 1.) Sue Thurman interviewing Allison Dubois, the real-life medium behind the hit TV show, “Medium” starring Patricia Arquette, 2.) Sue Thurman interviewing ghost hunter Debe Branning, and 3.) Marilyn Peake interviewing Carole Whang Schutter who wrote a screenplay in collaboration with Director/Producer Christopher Cain for the movie “September Dawn” starring actors Jon Voight, Trent Ford, and Tamara Hope.
Here's your sneak peak into Inside Scoop:
Chapter 1 - Arthur Pierson and the Lesson of the Chinese Grandmothers by John Klawitter
Chapter 2 - Where the Spanish are German, the English are Scottish and the Sheep Wear Cowbells by Geoff Nelder
Chapter 3 - New Year’s Resolutions for Writers by Sara Reinke
Chapter 4 - Finding the Moment by Rachel DeFriez
Chapter 5 - You Have Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself by Larriane Wills
Chapter 6 - Planning Your Attack To Break Out Of The Pack: Promises To Yourself and Bargains With Your Reps by Michael J. Wallach
Chapter 7 - Basing Your Novel on a Game: What, are you stupid? by Michael A. Ventrella
Chapter 8 - To Get Great Headshots, Just Use Your Head. by Photographer Kenneth Dolin
Chapter 9 - Just Once...I’d Like to Be in a Movie or on TV: How to Be an Actor Who Memorizes No Lines and Needs No Acting Skills by Jo Kelly
Chapter 10 - I Spy...a Fun Part-time Job for Seniors and Retirees - 10 Tips for Becoming an In-Demand Background Actor by Jo Kelly
Chapter 11 - Allison Dubois Interview (May 2006) by Sue Thurman
Chapter 12 - Ghost Busters by Sue Thurman
Chapter 13 - Interview (by Marilyn Peake) with Carole Whang Schutter
Chapter 14 - Foraging the Forumiferii (or using Internet forums for writing research) by Geoff Nelder
Chapter 15 - The Mob and Hotels: Elements of Research in the Writing of Escaping Reality by Geoff Nelder
Chapter 16 - The Meaningful Mundane by Rachel DeFriez
Chapter 17 - Writing Wrongs - Lesson One: Defamation Law by Lincoln D. Bandlow
Chapter 18 - Putting on Your Editor’s Cap by Sara Reinke
Chapter 19 - Editing Is Not a Dirty Word by Larriane Wills
Chapter 20 - Barbarians at the Gate: The Future of Literature, Rumor versus Reality by K.L. Nappier
Chapter 21 - Promo Ammo: What Is Video Book Trailer & What Can It Do For You? by K.L. Nappier
Chapter 22 - The Beat of Gaia’s Heart by Lee Barwood
Chapter 23 - News Release - Klassic Koalas: Ancient Aboriginal Tales in New Retellings by Lee Barwood
Chapter 24 - Failed Assassination by J. Richard Jacobs
Chapter 25 - Tenacity in Art by John Klawitter
"Cracked Universe" Column by J. Richard Jacobs: 1. For immediate release - 11 December 2003 2. Advise Fur Awl Wood-Bee Authors 3. From the "Did You Know?" Department 4. An Ode to Panspermia
Just like people in the sixties can tell you where they were when JFK was shot, and people who grew up in the eighties can tell you what they were doing when they heard about the Challenger explosion, everyone you talk to can tell you where they were and what they were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001. I was home with my month-old daughter when the phone rang. My husband was on the line.
"Turn on the TV and tell me what the hell is going on," he said in a voice that didn't give me much reason for concern.
As I waited for the picture to appear on the screen I asked why he was calling.
"Two planes just crashed into the World Trade Center."
September 11th was a day of terrible loss. As I watched the news, day in and day out, sometimes only getting a few hours of sleep, I remembered the words I spoke to my husband when I called him back a while later to tell him of what was going on at the Pentagon.
"We're at war!"
And it frightened me. America had never been attacked in my lifetime and I feared our lives might never be the same.
Several books have been written about the events of September 11th, but none from a terrorists' point of view...until now.
Aram Schefrin is the author of the novel Marwan: The Autobiography of a 9/11 Terrorist. I asked Aram if while he was writing Marwan did it cross his mind that Americans might not be ready for such a book.
Here is his answer:
You ask whether, when I wrote Marwan, if I was concerned that it might be too soon for a book like that.
The answer is: Not really. To understand that, you have to know why I wrote the book.
After 9/11, I realized that I knew nothing of the people who had attacked us, or the reasons why they had done it. I read up on al Qaeda, then on Islamic fundamentalism, then on Islam itself and the history of the region. Then I felt I understood what was behind the attack.
The intellectuals of the jihadist movement may be motivated by theory, and the clerics by theology. But for most of the jihadists, religious extremism is brought about by other problems they have: economic, social, political, cultural, psychological.
The American conversation on 9/11 seems to be based on the conviction that we are in a religious war which is inevitable, unavoidable and will last a long time. I thought – and I think – the book was important because I believe it's critical that people understand (if only for self-protection) that the so-called "clash of civilizations" is not inevitable; that there are things that could have been done, and still should be done, to avoid the likelihood of more 9/11s; that is, by understanding all of the factors that entered into it and variously motivated its protagonists – their frustrations, their humiliations, their sociopathy, their unmet needs, etc. In Marwan, I was able to tell a story which included all those motivations by assigning each to a character who, in fact, mostly acted because of it. Only Marwan, the lead character, is more a product of my imagination – and that’s because I gave him more complexity, in order to be able to explain even more of why these people do what they do.
I finished the book in 2003, and I submitted it then to New York publishers, through an agent. I was hoping they would understand why it was important that the point of view I was working from needed to be discussed. That’s when I found out it was way too early for the book.
New York publishing houses were still deep in grief. They considered it insulting and outrageous to present a book about 9/11 which was written (more or less) from the terrorists’ point of view – even though the book made no attempt to excuse their conduct. Others felt that only a Muslim could write about Muslims. For those reasons (I was told), I could not sell the book.
So much has happened since then as a result of the fact that Marwan’s point of view still isn’t being considered, and nothing has been done to understand – let alone get at – the root causes of Islamic terrorism. We call them Islamofascists – which I consider a ridiculous, meaningless term. We dig in for a war that is going to last for generations. I got an email today from a friend of mine who is afraid that Obama is a secret Muslim (read “terrorist.”) It gets more and more insane.
I don’t believe we are “at war” with jihadists. They will pull off more attacks, but they don’t yet seriously threaten Western civilization – not even as much as some European nihilistic terrorist groups have in the fairly recent past. This so-called war is political cover for a whole lot of other things being done in, and to, the United States – and not by terrorists. Their threat could, however, become much more dangerous – if we continue to be unable to understand them and therefore continue to feed what drives them. Then we’ll have a serious Holy War.
Just to be clear, I don’t think people like bin Laden or Ramzi bin al Shibh can be converted, or diverted. They are too personally invested in what they believe. I think the way to deal with al Qaeda is to marginalize them by taking away the reasons new people flock to the movement – diverting them from the movement, and then wiping out the hard core militarily. We have done plenty of “wiping,” and basically no “diverting.” How the diverting is to be done, I leave to other minds. But it’s high time they started working on it. We really don’t want to have to fight a billion Muslims.
Not too long ago, Jonathon Safran Foer came out with his book “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, which revolved around 9/11. Then there was Updike’s book. I decided that fiction was ready to deal with the topic. However, no one has yet attempted what I did with Marwan. I still think it’s important that people understand what the 9/11 attack was really about – or at least consider what I think it was about. I did not want to deal with publishers again, so I put the book out through AuthorHouse. I believe it’s a book that needs to be read. Fortunately, those people who have read it or reviewed have also said that it is a well-done piece of fiction – so there’s pleasure to be gleaned from the writing itself, although pleasure is not the point of reading this book.
This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:
We are watching the first true 21st century election. It radiates Oprah-style celebrity, electric grass roots energy, and the rise of a new values voter. America is moving from the old masculinized morality of "Alone, I Will," to the new feminized world view of "Together We Can." Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's success shows the ascension of the New Feminized Majority, a multitude of millions of women and men voting in line with feminized values. This new majority is the base of the 21st century Democratic Party, and will battle in the general election against the masculinized morality of the old warrior, John McCain. They promise to be the defining element in the 2008 election. Stay tuned: this election will rewrite the American Dream and bring Americans together around a new and transformative world view.
On March 3, 2008, Charles Derber and Katherine Adam, authors of the book, The New Feminized Majority: How Democrats Can Change America with Women’s Values, are embarking on a virtual book tour around the world collecting letters from bloggers who would like to share their values and how those values impact their voting decisions.
If you would like to become involved in their tour, this is how it works:
1. Think of what values are important to you and how those values can impact who you vote for.
2. Post your message on your blog between now and March 1st and send us the exact link at cg20pm00(at)gmail(dot)com. Please put “Feminized Values” in your subject line.
4. But, that's not all! Charles and Katherine will pick one of the bloggers who participate to win a FREE copy of The New Feminized Majority. That's their thank you gift to you!
6. And not only that, we will promote your blog through our daily promotions using your blog post as part of their virtual book tour, thus bringing you lots of traffic in March!
7. We also ask that you include a jpeg copy of Charles and Katherine’s book, The New Feminized Majority, in your blog post. You can find their book cover at The New Feminized Majority tour page (you are welcome to copy and paste from there) and link it to where the book can be purchased from the publisher’s website at Paradigm Publishers.
That's all there is to it! Hurry before time runs out. Become involved in a nationwide campaign to tell the world what matters most to you. Share your values and become involved in CHARLES AND KATHERINE’S THE NEW FEMINIZED MAJORITY “FEMINIZED VALUES” CONTEST!
Charles and Katherine’s virtual book tour will be highly publicized including press releases and other promotions and is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion. You can visit their website at http://www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com/.
In the true spirit of Chicken Soup, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, along with Debra Halperin Poneman, the founder and president of Yes to Success, Inc. bring you a heart-warming collection of stories, which will inspire everyone to reach for their dreams.
Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul will make you laugh and make you cry; it will inspire you with stories from fans, former Idols, and behind the scenes staff members of American Idol. You'll read stories of how American Idol touched the lives of those who work/worked on the show, the contestants who auditioned, and the fans who have been drawn in to watch a cultural phenomenon week after week.
Of special mention is Clay Aiken's You Just Never Know , which tells the story of how one fan showed Clay how you never know when something you say or do will could change a person's life forever. One Simple Word by American Idol fan Amy Johnson eloquently tells how Amy's seriously ill daughter, Mackenzie shares a special friendship with Idol Ace Young. And in Finally Home, Idol Jordin Sparks shares the story of when she realized where her gift of song truly came from. American Idol judge, Paula Abdul has contributed a touching foreword for this wonderful collection.
Whether you are a huge fan of American Idol or pride yourself on having never seen an episode, Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul is a book every fan of Chicken Soup will want to add to their collection. It will also make a perfect gift for anyone who has a dream.
A portion of the profits from Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul will be donated to Idol Gives Back, The Bubel/Aiken Foundation, and Highrollers with a Heart.
Full of suspense, realistic, and sprinkled with a light touch of romance, Smell of Death by F.M. Meredith is a sure hit for crime fiction fans.
The latest in Meredith's Rocky Bluff P.D. series, finds Officer Stacey Wilbur called to the home of Darlene Brantley. Upon entering the home, Wilbur finds Brantley dead, and in a stange twist of events, Brantley's mother is also found murdered on the same night in her own home. While Wilbur assists Detective Doug Milligan in solving these crimes, other members of Rocky Bluff P.D. are on the lookout for the Barefoot Burglars and engage in a search for a missing toddler, hoping to catch the person responsible before another child disappears.
F.M. Meredith is the pseudonym for Marilyn Meredith, who writes the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. I read the newest book in the Deputy Temp Crabtree series, so I was already familiar with Meredith's work before reviewing this title. Smell of Death certainly lived up to what I expected.
Meredith's experience with crime fiction shines through with this latest novel, as multiple cases plague the members of Rocky Bluff P.D. And while they are working hard to solve these crimes, they are also working on their personal lives. This gives a realistic and complete picture of the people of Rocky Bluff P.D. Stacey Wilbur is a strong and intelligent protagonist who juggles her career and single motherhood, all the while wondering if she should break her long-standing rule of not dating members of Rocky Bluff P.D. when she and Doug Milligan begin working more closely to solve the Brantley murder. This book does an excellent job of showing, through well-defined characters, the impact that life on the police force has on its members and their families. The touch of romance between Stacey and Doug is just the right thing to lighten up some of the heavy stuff going on in this book.
Smell of Death by F.M. Meredith is an engaging, well-written, and gripping page turner, that will leave you hungry for the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.
Born in Brooklyn, Camille Marchetta received her BA in English Literature from the College of New Rochelle, in New Rochelle, New York, and later studied fiction with noted writer Anatole Broyard at The New School. Shortly afterward, on a visit to England, she fell in love with the country, decided to stay, and was fortunate enough to find work with Richard Hatton Limited, a theatrical and literary agency, in a few years becoming a literary director of the company.
The agency was small but powerful, its client list including well-known writers, directors, and actors such as Sean Connery, Malcolm McDowell, and Leo McKern. Among the writers with whom Ms. Marchetta worked were Robert Shaw, author of many award-winning novels and plays (though he is best known in the United States for his acting performances in To Russia With Love and Jaws); the playwright Richard Harris, whose Stepping Out appeared on Broadway; and Anthony Shaffer, who wrote Sleuth, a hit in the West End, on Broadway, and as a feature film.
Returning to the States, Ms. Marchetta went to Hollywood, found herself an agent, and eventually got an assignment on the Dallas mini-series. Asked to join the staff, she remained until the series soared to the top of the ratings. With that, her career in television was established. She wrote television movies, pilots for new series, produced Nurse, which won Michael Learned an Emmy, and Dynasty in the season it finally crept past Dallas in the ratings and reached number one.
In 1985, Ms. Marchetta took a sabbatical from television, returned to London, and, fulfilling a lifetime ambition, wrote her first novel, Lovers and Friends, which was published in the United States in 1989 and subsequently in England, Finland, Sweden, and Germany. Following its publication, Ms. Marchetta co-executive-produced Falcon Crest, co-authored two best-selling novels with Ivana Trump, and worked as a story consultant on the television series, Central Park West. St. Martin's Press published her second novel, The Wives of Frankie Ferraro, in 1998. The River By Moonlight is her most recent book.
Since all of her books are partially or totally set in New York City, I was curious to get Camille's thoughts on the Big Apple.
New York isn’t my favorite city. I don’t feel that special connection to it that most of my friends have. There are days, walking through its crowded streets, that I absolutely hate it - the noise, the litter, the press of people - and would rather be almost anywhere else on earth. At other times, though, in Central Park on a beautiful day, on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum, on the deck at the Top of the Rock, the city seems as beautiful to me as anyplace I've ever been. And coming out of a theatre or a restaurant on a winter's night, walking into a snowstorm - it's magical.
I may not always like it, but it's my city. I was born in Brooklyn, one of its five boroughs, and so grew up within a short subway ride of the fabled Manhattan. When I graduated from college, that's where I wanted to live. And I did for a while. And because (so far) I've been reluctant to write about anywhere I haven't actually been, it has a habit of turning up as a setting in my novels. Sections of both LOVERS AND FRIENDS and THE WIVES OF FRANKIE FERRARO, take place in modern New York. In my new book, THE RIVER, BY MOONLIGHT, it's the Hudson River Valley and the New York of 1917, a city in transition, where horse-drawn carriages and motorized cars fight it out on the cobbled streets. Set against the turmoil of a country about to enter the war in Europe, the novel deals with the death of a talented young artist, Lily Canning, and the effect of her loss on her family and friends.
In doing research for the novel, I consulted countless books, looked at photographs and paintings, even postcards from the period. By the time I started writing, I could see the city as it was then, in 1917. I could imagine myself walking its streets along with my characters. And I tried my best to make it as real an experience for readers as it was for me.
But just because the novel is set so early in the Twentieth Century doesn't mean that it's removed from the concerns of this early part of the Twenty-first. While I was writing the book, the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001. It was a terrible time. Thousands were killed. All of us knew, or knew of, someone who perished. Bulletin boards with photos of the missing seemed to be everywhere. Outside fire houses and police stations were flowers and memorials for those who had died. It was almost impossible for me, for anyone, to walk down a street without seeing something to cry about. The city reeled in grief and fear and anger and, with its country, went to war.
Because I lived in Europe while the IRA was planting bombs in London, while the Baader-Meinhof Gang was wreaking havoc in Germany, and the Red Brigades in Italy; because I saw Harrods and Selfridge's, department stores I was in frequently, damaged in bomb blasts; because I'd been in Paris at a Metro station a few days before it, too, was bombed, I think probably, though I cried along with the best, I was in the short term less traumatized by the events of 9/11 than some friends, especially those who witnessed the attack. But the aftermath, what has happened since that day, has really shaken me. And a lot of my concerns about war, terrorism, jingoism, mob power, civil rights, without my planning it, crept into the book. Some of my grief about events, I'm sure, is reflected in Lily's depression.
But what also crept in without my noticing, is my deep and undying admiration of the city - its people, its buildings, its art, its vitality, its ability to come back from disaster, to remake itself over and over. That admiration is always there, underneath all my impatience on any given day.
It is not often--actually, I think this is the first time--that I've ever taken the floor and reached out directly to the readers here. I felt compelled to explain something that is important for every writer to know: networking is key!
I've been coordinating virtual book tours for Pump Up Your Book Promotion since October 2007. In that time, I've coordinated tours where the response has far exceeded what I imagined and tours that were a far greater challenge than I expected.
This month, LaConnie Taylor-Jones is traveling the blogosphere to promote her debut novel, When I'm With You. The response to her tour has been amazing. I already had twenty scheduled stops for LaConnie prior to the February 1st kick off of her tour. Since then, two other bloggers have joined. I didn't know it at the time, but many of the bloggers who I contacted when setting up the tour, knew LaConnie and were more than happy to host her.
Networking is vital to the success of your work. Places like Communati, Book Marketing Network, Book Place, Gather, and other social networking sites give writers the opportunity to get their names out there in ways that were impossible for authors ten to twenty years ago.
Take advantage of what the Internet has to offer. Sign up for some of these social networks. Make friends. Write articles related to the topic or genre of your book. Promote your book/books constantly. It will make all the difference in the world.
May 2008 bring about the fulfillment of your publishing dreams!
We welcome back mystery and crime fiction author Marilyn Meredith who is on her second virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion. We’ll be talking about what Marilyn has been up to since we last chatted with her and all about the latest book in her Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Smell of Death.
Welcome back Marilyn. It’s always a pleasure to have you with us.
Thank you for having me. This is always fun.
Before we begin talking about Smell of Death, why don’t you give readers a refresher of who you are and let them know what you’ve been up to since you last popped in.
I’m the author of over 20 books. Besides the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, I also write the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. Since my last tour, I’ve been to Tampa FL where I was a speaker at a writer’s conference and to Anchorage AK to a mystery convention and then I stayed a few days with a friend in Wasilla and spoke to every class about mystery writing at Wasilla middle school.
This is a bit off-topic, but I am dying to ask you about this. Your website http://fictionforyou.com/ says that you write mysteries, historical novels, and Christian horror. That last one throws me. I didn’t even know there was such a genre. Can you tell us a little bit about it and the Christian horror books you’ve written?
I probably am the one who came up with the name for the genre. It’s horror (really scary) with a Christian theme. The Left Behind Books fit in that category, though in my Christian horror, the heroines may not have the strongest faith, but that’s what carries them through and helps them overcome what ever threat they’ve come up against whether it’s the devil or his demons.
Why don’t you tell us about your Rocky Bluff P.D. series.
This series focuses on the men and women in the Rocky Bluff P.D. and their families. My intention is to show how what goes on in the job affects the family and what happens in the family affects the job. Though many of the same characters appear in each book, the main characters change. For instance, in the first book, Doug Milligan is the main character and at that time is just a regular officer. He appears as a minor character in the next two books, and in this book he’s become a detective and has a major part.
Officer Stacey Wilbur’s physical size appears to be a disadvantage for her. How does she handle it?
What Stacey doesn’t have in brawn she makes up with by her brain and psychological approach to situations.
In the first chapter of Smell of Death you have a lot going on—a murder, a police officer suffering from horrible nightmares, and a missing toddler. How did you manage to jam that much conflict into one chapter? What do you think the key is to making it work well?
Hopefully, I’ve hooked the reader into continuing on. One thing my son-in-law, a police officer for 15 years, always said was that the police department never has just one case to work on at a time like they do in books and movies. That’s one of the things I wanted to show in all four books and have it be more realistic.
We also meet several members of Rocky Bluff’s police department in this first chapter. Is there anyone you would like to talk more about?
Other officers have come and gone, the ones who are in this book have appeared in others. Gordon Butler is an officer who is interested in Stacey, and sort of becomes the comic relief. He was an important character in the book right before this one, Fringe Benefits.
In addition to being the only female in the department, Stacey is a single-mom. How does she juggle her career and her home life?
Stacey and her son live with her parents. She is fortunate to have her folks to baby-sit Davey.
There’s a hint of romance in Smell of Death. We find out that Stacey is attracted to Detective Doug Milligan, but she has a long standing rule about not dating anyone from the department. Do you think Doug could make her break that rule?
There is definitely a strong attraction between Stacey and Doug. He not only admires her as a woman but soon realizes she’s intelligent and a real asset to the department. To find out if she breaks her rule, you’ll have to read the book.
Where can readers purchase a copy of Smell of Death?
What is up next for you? Are there any upcoming projects you would like to share with our readers?
My next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Kindred Spirits, is expected in August. I’ll be busy promoting Smell of Death and the latest Tempe mystery, Judgment Fire, all this coming year. I’m attending Love is Murder in Chicago, EpiCon in Portland OR, Public Safety Writers Association’s conference in Las Vegas, and Mayhem in the Midlands, in Omaha NE plus library talks and other appearances. And oh yes, while working on another book.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Just that going on a Virtual Book Tour like this is great fun. Thank you so much for the opportunity.
Thanks for joining us today, Marilyn. It was great to speak with you again. I wish you continued success and hope you’ll be stopping by again soon.
This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:
Here at The Book Connection we are going to start the week off right. Today’s guest is a debut author who writes contemporary romance. LaConnie Taylor-Jones’ novel When I’m With You was released in November 2007 by Genesis Press. I’ve had the pleasure of coordinating LaConnie’s first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion and the response has been amazing. We’re going to chat with LaConnie about her debut novel and that wonderful juggling act known as balancing a writing career and home life.
Welcome to The Book Connection, LaConnie. It’s great to have you here!
Hello, Cheryl!! Thanks so much for having me here at The Book Connection.
Before we begin talking about When I’m With You, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been writing? Do you write full-time? What do you do to unwind after a long day?
Well, I’m married and the mother of four (yes folks, my husband and I were two crazy people!!). By trade, I’m a public health educator. About four years ago, I left my position with a major voluntary non-profit health organization to become a consultant in community public health.
Since the launch of my debut novel, I’ve slowly, but surely managed to clear my plate so I can write full-time.
Boy, what do I look forward to the end of the day!! There are two things that really help me relax: a glass of wine followed by a hot bath.
You are a wife, a mother of four, a health educator, and you volunteer in your community. When exactly do you make time to write?
I’ll be the first to admit that it was tough finding the time to get those thoughts for a storyline from my head onto paper.
After a few failed attempts, I succeeded. For me, the right time to write is when I say goodbye to the duties of wife, maid, cook, chauffer, doctor, business owner and referrer and stumble down the stairs, groping in semi-darkness for my best friend, the coffeepot.
The illuminated numbers on the microwave indicate one o’clock in the morning.
Do you have any advice on how other busy women might make time in their lives to write the story they’ve always wanted to?
Ladies, learn how to say the word No!! Remember, saying no doesn’t mean never. It simply means not right now.
Writing has to find its way to the top of the priority list. Otherwise, a zillion things will come along and suddenly the day has ended without one word having been written.
Let’s move on to When I’m With You. Tell us about this story and what inspired you to write it.
When I’m With You is a story that shows the damage caused by an abusive relationship, how the person who’s abused suffers, how to trust again, and why one has to FFF: forgive, forget, and move forward.
The inspiration for this story came from my experience as a health educator. For the last fifteen years, I’ve taught health education primarily to African American women in community-based settings. Oftentimes, before I can lecture on the risk factors associated with chronic diseases disproportionally impacting African Americans, I have to deal with the soci-economic deterrents women face. Unfortunately, abusive relationships top the list.
Tell us about Marcel Baptiste. What will readers like about him? Will they dislike anything about Marcel?
Although Marcel is the epitome of success and wealth, he doesn’t allow money to rule his life. He’s also intelligent and savvy, with a heart of gold. I’ll let readers decide if his two personality flaws: arrogance and stubbornness coupled with his inability to accept the word "no" or not getting his way are reasons to dislike him.
What about Caitlyn? Who is she? Why will readers care about her and want to see her get together with Marcel?
Caitlyn is independent-minded with the ability to think on her feet. Readers will see how Caitlyn deals with the trauma of being a victim of domestic abuse and how she overcomes it. They’ll also how she responses to Marcel’s plan to get her to trust and love again.
We actually meet Marcel in the prologue before Caitlyn is introduced and we get a brief glimpse into who Marcel is and what kind of life he lives. Why did you decide to introduce Marcel first? How did you go about deciding what details to share with the reader in the prologue?
The prologue sets the stage for the circumstances that initially bring Marcel and Caitlyn together. It also plays a pivotal role in the story plot and helps readers understand how the life Marcel lives ultimately frees Caitlyn from the fear she’s tried to escape for the past three years.
You were pretty mean to Caitlyn when we first meet her. She’s sitting in her car in triple-digit California heat, hoping the darn car doesn’t die on her in a tunnel while she is on her way back home from an important meeting that never happened because the other person cancelled unexpectedly. Oh, and she skipped lunch and is now starving. Why was it important for us to meet her this way?
Well, I wouldn’t say that I was mean to Caitlyn. Instead, I would say it was a good lead-in for readers to understand how strong Caitlyn truly is and despite the most dramatic circumstances in her life, she always manages to find a way to get through them and land on her feet.
I assume there will be plenty of obstacles for Marcel and Caitlyn to overcome before they can have their happily ever after. Can you share any of them without giving too much away?
Yes, there a few hurdles and twists Caitlyn and Marcel will face and readers will see how they overcome them together. Because of those challenges, each character learns what’s really important in life and most importantly, that trust is the best proof of love.
Tell us where readers can pick up a copy of When I’m With You.
Readers can find their copy in all the major bookstores and on-line at Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles.com, Books-A-Million.com, to name a few.
What’s up next for you? I think there is a sequel to this story coming out, right?
When a Man Loves A Woman hits store shelves April 1st and is the sequel to When I’m With You. The premise of this story is betrayal—not just any kind of betrayal, but the ultimate unfaithfulness no woman should ever have to go through. Readers will see how a woman’s life that was once shattered is made whole again.
My readers have totally embraced the Baptiste Clan and I want them to hold on to their seats. I recently sold the third saga entitled, If I Were Your Woman, which hopefully will make the ’08 production schedule. Also, there are two other Works in Progress as well. With all of this, I plan to stay pretty busy in 2008.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
With all of my stories, there are three things I’d like readers to take away. First, I want them to understand the beauty and power of love that exists between the right man and woman, Secondly, I want readers to know and cherish the importance of family. Finally, I hope readers can discover strategies that they can apply to whatever real-life situation they’re facing to help overcome it.
Thanks for joining us today, LaConnie. It’s been fun finding out more about you and your work. I’m eager to read my copy of When I’m With You. Best of luck with the rest of the tour. I hope we’ll see you again soon.
Joining us today is literary author Garasamo (Gary) Maccagnone whose novel, St. John of the Midfield has received rave reviews. I’ve had the pleasure of coordinating Gary’s virtual book, and after reading some of the book and browsing through some of its reviews, I knew I had to have Gary stop by to chat with us.
Welcome to The Book Connection, Gary. It’s wonderful to have you here.
Thanks for having me.
Before we talk about St. John of the Midfield, please tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been writing? Are you a full-time novelist? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
To some extent, I’ve been writing since I was about sixteen. During my High School years I was fortunate to have a teacher named Carol Cross for three years. She was the type of teacher who forced you to be better. She made it uncomfortable for you to be mediocre in her class.
It was there that I started experimenting with prose or poetry. Like most young writers, I worked on the student newspaper and also was on the yearbook staff. A lazy teacher allowed a lot of my satirical quips to be published in the yearbook without being edited. There was a minor stir.
In college, I was again fortunate enough to study under Lawrence Pike, Sam Astrachan, and Stuart Dybek. That formidable trio sharpened my skills as a craftsman and helped spark a life long interest in writing.
I am not a full time novelist. Since I was twenty-three, I’ve been involved in some capacity in the trucking, airfreight, crating, or logistic industry. I’ve also been involved in politics and the sports entertainment business. To write, I’ve taken sabbaticals from my business interests.
At this time, I enjoy coaching youth soccer in my spare time. Being around the kids keeps me young and focused. Teaching the game as I have been taught gives me a sense of purpose.
Two of your three books have been sports-related. Do you considered yourself to be a competitive person?
My parents had four boys in a five-year period. There was competition just trying to get a second biscuit at the breakfast table.
In one way or another, we fought every day. In those days, if you traveled beyond eight houses from your own home you were in somebody else’s turf. That meant if you couldn’t take care of yourself, somebody was going to put a whipping on you. Fortunately, my father was a trained boxer and he taught all of us how to fight. The day after he taught me how to throw an over hand right, I blew up the noses of two boys who started mouthing off to me. After that, only the toughest boys on their streets knew they had a chance with me.
Our entire culture is competitive. As I have played just about all the major sports, I have witnessed some of the ugliest events in the history of competition. I have seen fathers physically fight. I have seen mothers pulling each other’s hair out. I’ve been caught in the middle of an all out brawl that seemed like a fight in an old western movie.
I personally know club coaches of high status who have plotted against youth players simply on account of their dislike for one of the parents, or because that specific player chose to sign with a different team. I was also propositioned once by an unwed mother to keep her daughter on the top team in the club. All of this was done, in the name of competition.
In my case, whatever it is I choose to do, I want to do it well and to be taken seriously. To that extent, I guess I’m very competitive.
Let’s talk about St. John of the Midfield. What is this story about?
The main character, Georgie “Bobo” Stoikov, a world class soccer player, escapes communist Bulgaria with his brother Jordan during the late 70’s. During their escape, the two had to jump off a moving train going sixty miles per hour. Both of them were injured during the fall and the five-month journey through the Bulgarian wilderness to Macedonia. Though the American team was praying the two could successfully defect and play for the Americans in the World Cup, both brothers are unable to play ever again. Over time, Bobo is content to coach youth teams in America to make his living. Though he is successful at every stage of his coaching career, his eccentric ways and style of teaching clash with the American coaching status quo. He makes enemies, especially with one coach who is an ex-con named Sonny Christopher. Mario, the narrator, who becomes the assistant coach on the team, and who has a son who is a soccer prodigy, is forced into the fray simply due to his involvement with the team and the game. What Christopher and all the others in the soccer community don’t know is that Mario comes from a Sicilian family, a family who has a history of its own, a family that is purposely hiding out in the suburbs to mask their true nature from the community and the authorities. In the case of Christopher, who was used to being a bully, the misfortunate encounter he has with a crime organization more evil than himself hopefully leaves an impression on the reader that you better be certain about whom you pick your fights with. Eventually, the forces of evil must do battle in some way or another. When they do the rising action starts and the innocent pay the price.
You sent me some photographs at the beginning of our correspondence. There was one of an older gentleman who you said inspired this book. What can you tell me about him and how did he inspire your novel?
Jordan Mitkov is the inspiration for the book. He actually played for the Bulgarian National team and made the fateful leap off the train as depicted in the book. When I first met him, he told my son and myself that to play in the midfield, a player must be a good person, a person willing to sacrifice, a player willing to pass the ball to all his teammates to score. He told that to me ten to twelve years ago and it burned in my mind until I built a story around it.
Unlike so many of the American coaches who scream, degrade, and ridicule their players, Jordan Mitkov is the kindest, most gentle, and most sincere coach in the entire nation. His only motive is to make a youth player better.
St. John of the Midfield opens with Bobo retelling the story of the day he and his brother, Jordan jumped from a train to defect from Communist Bulgaria to fulfill Bobo’s dream of playing soccer as an American. Bobo has a very distinct dialect. How did you use dialects to create unique voices for your characters?
My father had a gift for mimicry. Somehow, genetically, he passed that talent to me. I recall one story where my father was involved as a union negotiator in an intense bargaining session with a management group. One of the other negotiators on the union team had a thick Albanian accent that was so deliberate you could fall asleep by the time he would finish a sentence. When the sessions broke down, my father waited until after midnight to start calling the hotel rooms of the individuals on the management team. In each case, he pretended to be his friend, impersonating the Albanian accent and characteristics of the voice so perfectly nobody suspected my father. Once he had a person on the phone, my father would ask ridiculous questions on obscure parts of the contract. The slow pace of the questions, the stuttering of the broken English and the redundancy of the questions drove all of the individuals crazy. Not one of them got any sleep and they were fit to be tied the next morning at the bargaining table. As expected, initially there was a lot of tension and hostility in the talks, but after a few hours, the management team, too tired to think or go on acquiesced to labor demands. My father’s talent and strategy won out.
In my case, though I’m an amateur, my impressions have always entertained my friends and family members. In my soccer club, I can hold the interests of my under eight students by doing all my Tigger and other cartoon impersonations. I knew I was pretty good with the Bobo voice when I called my house as if I was Jordan Mitkov and fooled both my daughter and wife for five minutes or so in a phone conversation. Once I had that voice in my head, I was able to write Bobo’s dialogue in a way that made it seem real. The thick Bulgarian dialect of Bobo showcases the innocence of his nature but also camouflages the wisdom within his thoughts and ideas.
Bobo is retelling the story of his defection to Mario Santini. What can you tell us about Mario?
Mario’s a good Catholic boy. Even though he’s the son of a hoodlum, he continuously wants to do good deeds, to bring his son up in the tradition of the Catholic Church. Like his mother, he longs for the Catholic promise in the after life. Though he could solve problems like his father, he chooses to live normally in the legitimate world.
He is trapped though. Like a good Catholic boy, and like a good son, he’s loyal to his father and to his family. Beyond the corruption, he knows where the heart of his father is. There’s a loving bond between them, which proves that all human beings have some goodness in them.
Though Mario’s character is rooted in goodness, as a flawed human being he falls victim to sin as many Catholic men do. His guilt and realization of the seriousness of his sin force him to seek an opportunity to confess so he may be absolved. Mario also comes to understand that the more he tries not to be like his father the more he begins to have the same anger and hatred toward his enemies - especially when his son falls victim to a despicable rumor campaign by his nemesis Sonny Christopher. The false accusations by Christopher that Mario’s son Luca has had a sexual relationship with his coach is too much to bear for Mario. His father’s compulsion to kill erupts inside of Mario and he gives his father the nod to proceed with his vigilante justice.
In St. John of the Midfield, you’ve brought together youth soccer and the Mafia to create a powerful story. What were some of the challenges you faced writing this novel?
Having parallel stories, with two evil characters, one in which I’m hoping the audience will have empathy for, was certainly a challenge. The entire story had to be broken down in an outline form to my editor to show where the stories would intersect and how the fates of Frankie and Sonny Christopher would be revealed. The challenge about writing on the underworld is to do so, you have to appear credible. The characters, their history, and their actions cannot come across as being contrived. In my case, being Sicilian, I had places in my childhood I could dig deep into to find the proper voices, the proper tendencies, and the proper characteristics of individuals I knew to pull it off.
At the end of the book, there is a story titled, My Dog Tim. Why is it included? What it is about?
I promised my family a long time ago I would write a story about our beloved dog Tim. For me, it’s important to always keep my word.
That story is written in a totally different voice, a voice that one reviewer told me was similar to the voice in the “Wonder Years.” For me, it was important not to write the typical soppy dog story we’ve all read a million times in the magazines left on the tables at the doctors office. I owed Tim a lot more than that. I also knew I wasn’t up to pulling something off like Jack London.
The story is basically a little portrait of my life from the time Tim was brought to us in the early sixties to his death at seventeen years old. Since I was born only a few months prior to his arrival in our house, Tim and I grew up together through the tumultuous sixties and seventies. I remember holding him the night Robert Kennedy was assassinated as my father screamed obscenities at the television.
The early departure of a neighborhood father to the Viet Nam war foreshadows the loss of innocence those times brought about. The narrator, who recalls how his dog protected him in his youth from all the imaginary monsters floating around the house and his head, later encounters real monsters, like the fear of his father’s anger and a group of thugs who hurt him while he delivers papers on his route. Later, after two children are murdered in Oakland County, the realization by the entire community there is a serial killer terrorizing the neighborhoods clearly defines a new world is emerging for the young man.
In that story, I have two loves that protect me from what terrifies me. One is Tim, who defends me against a menace of a dog-named Bongo, and my little Polish Grandmother Clare, who is willing to fight against my Sicilian father in order to protect her daughter and her grandchildren.
Where can readers purchase a copy of St. John of the Midfield?
What’s up next for you? Are there future projects you would like to share with our readers?
I’m doing a lot of research now. Within six months, I’ll begin writing my second novel entitled, “He Lay Low.” It takes place on the Mexican/Texas border. There won’t be any sports themes in this one.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Yes. Al Ochsner, my college roommate and the illustrator of my children’s book, “The Suburban Dragon,” has just gone through his third operation to remove cancer from his vocal chords and esophagus. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Thanks.
Thank you for being our guest today, Gary. I wish you great success. Have fun with the rest of the tour.
ST. JOHN OF THE MIDFIELD VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 begins on Feb. 1, 2008 and continues all month. If you would like to follow Gary's tour, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/. Leave a comment at any of his stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of his tour! One lucky winner will be announced on this page on February 29!
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