Monday, August 29, 2011

Manic Monday with J.G. McKenney

Welcome to my Manic Monday guest series! Today I have the pleasure of handing over the reins to J.G. McKenney. J.G. McKenney is the author of Eon’s Door, a young adult high fantasy available in kindle edition and paperback through, and as an e-book through other major online retailers.

The Importance of Promotion to Self-Published Authors
Guest Post by J.G. McKenney

First of all, I’d like to thank J.E. for this invitation. When I agreed to write this guest post some weeks back, I had no idea what I was going to talk about. I considered solely promoting my own work in the hopes of making a few sales, but that seemed selfish and disrespectful. However, that first inclination made me realize just how important promotion is for the self-published author. I had my topic.

When I finished writing Eon’s Door, I did what most writers do: queried agents who rep my genre of book. To keep a long story short, over a year of concentrated effort, a recommendation from a best-selling author, a few close calls, and a lot of waiting, I decided to look at another option: self-publishing.

Why? Well, first of all, I knew I had a good book and the thought of it languishing in a drawer was horrifying; I simply had to get into readers’ hands. I also was very unhappy with how slow the traditional publishing world moved. Even if I found an agent, it would take many more months (if not years) to get my work published—if it was published at all—and I wanted it out there as soon as possible so I could get on with writing more stories. Finally, the idea of having control (over the cover, formatting, and editing) was something that really appealed to me. I hired some good people to do the things I couldn’t do and learned a lot on the way. But I got it done. I had a book that, in all respects, looked great. Now what?

This is where I learned just how hard—and necessary—it is to promote yourself and your work. I’ve spent the last two months doing little else; maintaining a website and blog, keeping a presence on forums and discussion sites, and posting giveaways to get my book “out there”. And I know it’s just the beginning. Until I see consistent sales through word of mouth and the power of online retail algorithms, I’m going to have to keep finding ways to get people to notice what I’ve written. And then I’ll have to start the process all over again when the next book is done.

Is promotion fun? No, but it’s something self-published writers must learn how to do if they are going to find any level of success. I’m still learning and will continue to take advantage of every opportunity I have to talk about my writing. Ahem…like this:

Eon's Door should not be open.

Two thousand years after three clans flee the world of humans through Eon's Door to find sanctuary in a realm called Erla, a prophecy left to them by the ancient race that created the tree portal is coming true. A trusted sage has stolen the portal's key and is using the awesome power that separated the worlds to tear apart the very soul of Nature. The key must be taken back and Eon's Door closed--before it's too late.

Hope lies with a "child of doubt" from the world the clans left behind and the courageous young Erlan who's been sent to find him. Together they must retrieve the key and close Eon's Door. It won't be easy. Abominations of beasts and trees stand between them and their goal. Even worse, the sage knows the prophecy and is expecting them.

The LL Book Review said: "If there's a thing that stands out in this book it's the depth...I recommend this book to everyone who's a fan of fantasy and wants something different...a brilliant addition to my extensive collection."

Thank you for swinging in on this Manic Monday! Can you all believe the summer is almost over?

Catch you again on Friday when I highlight some new September releases.

Until then,



Sunday, August 21, 2011

Manic Monday with J.E. Taylor

Welcome to another Manic Monday. 

Since I had no one slotted for this particular Monday, I figured I'd give you all a peek into what it is like to write a book with an eleven-year-old boy.   Anyone who is hooked into my Facebook page, will have already seen some of these funny scenarios. 

First off, my son and I are writing a series together called The Death Chronicles.  This is his brainchild and I have to admit, the premise is solid.  How did this get rolling? 

Well, one weekend in the spring, we were up at our place in Maine and walking the two miles into town so he could get a birthday gift for his girlfriend (yes he has one and has for three years - but that's another story).  He takes the opportunity now that he has my total attention to talk about an idea he has for a book.  And almost from the first pitch, I'm intrigued.  My publisher bell is ringing on this one - it's a fairly unique idea and as an added bonus, he wants to write it with me.  Well, as we walked, I asked a hundred and one questions, flushing out his thoughts into a full blown plot that works.

Now, as a mother, this is such a neat idea and the fact that my son wants to delve into the writing world with me is like the highest of praises in my eyes.  If nothing else comes of my writing career - the fact that I have made such an impact on my child is more reward than anything I could of ask for and honestly, I'll take this over the New York Times bestseller list anyday.

But I digress, back to the process of writing with my son.  He came up with the series name: The Death Chronicles and when he told me the story line,  I chose the name of the first book - Don't Fear The Reaper.  Those of my generation will get that the title is a throwback to Blue Oyster Cult - but it is very appropriate to the story line and that makes my rocker soul a bit giddy.  The fact the character's name Dylan Nicholas Ramsay is another one of those fun inside jokes - one that initially wasn't obvious.  My son thought up the first and middle name and wanted the character to go by his middle name - but I threw in the last name once I realized the progression of initals.  When I explained what D.N.R. stood for - my son LOVED it.

Now our thirteen-year-old main character 'Nick' has a love interest in the book.  So when we came to a scene where Nick kisses her cheek, I wanted to impress upon my son the need to engage all the senses in writing and asked - what does Nick's girlfriend smell like?

I got the three headed mom look.  He didn't know what in the world to say here.  So I asked what HIS girlfriend smelled like.   Ok - maybe that wasn't a cool question for MOM to ask, but his reaction was hysterical.  "I don't know, I don't go around sniffing girls."  He ranted a bit between gales of laughter "What am I supposed to do, walk up to my girlfriend and ask her if I can sniff her and tell her it's for a book?"  He didn't expect me to say yes - and that brought on a whole new set of giggles.  Well, when we got this settled and I got a particular scent out of him, my next question threw him for a loop as well.  How did Nick feel when he kissed her?

Another blank look.  Now this question gets a little tricky - ok, How do you feel when you kiss your girlfriend?  After fifty-three shades of red, and a lot of false starts, he finally said he feels sick to his stomach and alive.
Now imagine being an eleven-year-old boy having this discussion with your mother.  Fun times.

Anyhow - after all of this angst and pulling out information about sights, sounds, smells and such - this is the passage in Chapter two that we wrote:

Don't Fear The Reaper....Chapter 2...

I never thought the vinyl-clad bench seat would feel so good, so free, as it did today and I closed my eyes, letting my body melt into the seat for the half-hour ride home.

“Nick?” Jessica’s voice interrupted the stupor I had fallen into.

I opened my eyes to her soft brown gaze so full of worry that I had to smile.

“Scoot over so I can sit down,” she said, shooing me aside. When she settled in the seat, she turned toward me. “Are you really okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine. I just needed to get away from the school.” I leaned over and kissed her warm cheek, catching the sweet scent of strawberry shampoo. My stomach dropped through the floor from the adrenaline rush I always get when my lips touch her skin.

Her cheeks flush and I lean back, studying the red hue and the almost shy smile. She settles back in the seat and takes my hand for the remainder of the ride.

I closed my eyes, remembering the first time I saw her. The moving truck pulled away from the house next door and there she was, this little princess dribbling a soccer ball across the yard with her long golden hair flowing in the breeze behind her. And all I could think was smoking hot.

I snuck a peek at her. She’s still smoking hot after five years and she’s all mine.

Thanks for joining me today.
Until next time,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dishing it up with Cara Bertoia

Today I have the pleasure of dishing it up with author Cara Bertoia. Cara grew up in a straight-laced Southern family and was always fascinated with casinos. In her twenties, on a summer hiatus from teaching in North Carolina, she drove to California and became a dealer at Caesars in Lake Tahoe. Her mother highly disapproved of her working in a casino, "a place so bad it has 'sin' in the middle." Eventually, she succumbed to pressure from the family and returned east to take a high-tech job in Boston and began working on her MFA in writing at Emerson.

While in Boston, she was offered the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. Jumping at the chance, she spent the next five years circling the globe. Sometimes life exceeds your dreams. Awed by the wonders of Venice, the fjords of Norway, and the Northern Lights in Leningrad but on the downside, she also watched glaciers melt at an alarming rate in Alaska, snorkeled to coral reefs killed by pollution in the Caribbean, and witnessed the devastation as the Amazon burned. Taking advantage of every opportunity to be a tour guide, she soaked in as much history as she could.

She returned from ships with a very special souvenir, her husband Ray. Besides being a handsome Glaswegian, he is her co-author. They also produced a movie on walking the 500-mile "Camino De Santiago," in Spain. The Desert Woman and the Desert Sun both featured stories about their walk.

JET: Can you tell us about Cruise Quarters, your most recent book?

: Cruise Quarters - A novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships is a fun, fast-paced tale of working in the casino aboard a Regal Cruises cruise-ship.

The crew of the Regal Star resemble a mini United Nations, hiring people from all over the world. But unlike the UN, Regal Cruise's employees present a united front above decks as they attend to their passenger's every need. Below decks though, that is a different story.

Sarah Seldon is a croupier on the luxury liner. After many unhappy endings, and burnt out on shipboard romance, she is determined to forget about men and concentrate on becoming a casino manager. On land women face a dearth of GOOD men but on a ship giving up men would take willpower. The mostly male crew exists to serve her every need. Handsome Italian waiters bring her food, the Filipino steward cleans her room, English officers play poker with her and the Welsh plumber fixes her sink. She leads a cushy life, sleeping 'til noon, eating gourmet food, and the topper - she gets to wake up in beautiful new place everyday. All because she works in a casino, a place so bad it has SIN in the middle.

After college she took a summer job at Lake Tahoe in the casino business and became a member of the Church of Gambling. She has been in the gambling business long enough to know that in order for a gambler to be successful, she must have Lady Luck on her side. But a gambler also has to follow the rules of basic strategy. When love unexpectedly sneaks up on Sarah on the magical island of Mayreau, she wonders whether she could apply the rules of gambling to love? What if she could write Sarah Seldon's Basic Strategy of Love?

Book a cruise and travel with Sarah and the crew as they work, play, feast, and fall in and out of love, all while the ship sails around the globe, stopping at exotic ports of call. Along the way, from Venice to Barcelona sight-see in the Med, shop in St. Martin, take an eco-cruise down the Amazon, and feast in Glasgow. Let the crew tell you their own stories as they sit in the hallway in the wee hours of the morning. While the ship travels to new destinations, tired and tipsy they share tales of love and betrayal.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Cara: My most challenging hurdle was actually was the writing of the book. It is based on a true story, my story and I wanted to be as honest as I could and that was hard. I did have my book considered by some very big agents but I think it didn’t follow enough of a formula, and I really wanted to tell a story that people could relate to. Since my husband and I had produced a movie on walking the Camino de Santiago and had sold it ourselves over the Internet we knew that we could publish our book. The biggest hurdle I face now is expanding the book to contemporary romance readers. It is doing very well with people who love cruise ships. But it is also a story of finding your place in a very big world.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Cara: My favorite moment was doing a search for cruise ships on Amazon and seeing my book listed at number four. Then I did a search for cruise ship novel and we were number one. Then I went to casino novel and we were number two after Ian Fleming, my husband took a picture of that. Right next to James Bond that was quite a thrill. Another great moment was selling that first paperback. And last month Cruise Quarters was the “read of the week” at So the favorite moments just keep coming.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Cara: My whole writing experience changed after I read Charles Bukowski. I didn’t want to go to the track and get drunk everyday like he did, but I did like the way he wrote. His language was so plain. If felt so raw and real. I also loved sweeping romance novels, I read about the Camino de Santiago before I ever walked it. I really just read everything. I would sneak into my parents room and steal their books.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Cara: After I graduated college I got a job teaching high school in North Carolina. On a summer break I drove across country with two friends and we all got jobs in a casino in Lake Tahoe. Tahoe was a beautiful place and casino jobs were the best ones to have, especially dealing. Well they all soon went home but I stayed. I worked at Caesars Palace for a few years but then I moved to the North Shore of the Lake. The place I worked at was an “old school” casino, it had been a rat pack hangout in the old days and even now autographed photos of movie stars still adorn the walls. The casino overlooked the lake and as I dealt I would look out at a beautiful view of the crystal blue water. The border between Nevada and California runs down through the middle of the casino.

The owner was a plumbing contractor from Fresno. The head of security was an ex-Mossad officer and every few weeks we would be strapped down and given lie detector tests. They let porn movies be filmed in the casino and there were rumors that he rigged the slot machines. I’m not sure if that was all true but he did manage to get his casino closed down by the Nevada gaming commission, no small feat. One day a sports agent with Hollywood connections played on my game and encouraged me to write down all my great casino stories. That was the day I became a writer, well my script got as far as HBO where it was eventually rejected but that didn’t matter to me. I was a writer.

A year later I went back to the real world and became a systems analyst by day, writer by night. I lived in Boston, the home of perpetual students and so I was able to take writing classes, join critique groups and improve. After a few years I began working on an MA in writing at Emerson because it had connections in Hollywood. Well, just before I was scheduled to intern in Los Angeles as a script reader I got the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. My choice was spend my dwindling savings on an internship or get paid to see the world. I wasn’t scared of going - only staying. The Germans have a word for it torschlusskpanik, the fear of missing the boat.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Cara: Well, it wasn’t for book research but when we made our movie on walking the Camino de Santiago we actually had to walk the Camino. That was 500 miles across northern Spain, and let me tell you there were very few plains mostly hills and valleys and even a climb up a mountain or two. It was very strenuous but I saw people in their seventies walking. Think about walking fifteen miles today, and then getting up and doing it tomorrow. We were just like the mail men neither rain now snow could keep us from our task. At least I didn’t hear the word diet for six weeks.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

Cara: I have only written one novel and since it is based on our lives and our adventures it has to be our favorite.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Cara: I think my advice would be to just write, and you probably won’t get a lot of encouragement from you family and friends, but let me tell you people who don’t know you will take you much more seriously. Also take writing classes, and have everything edited. The first draft is always bad but the fun is in the rewriting, polishing those sentences.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with: Paper or Plastic?

Cara: I should say paper it is more politically correct, but plastic lines the bin so much better.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Cara: Steak, I hear that soybeans are way overrated.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Cara: Beach, always. I lived for five years on a cruise ship and I loved to go outside on deck every night and surround myself with the ocean. I missed it dreadfully when I returned to land.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Cara: I love Rock-n-Roll, but Country is gaining ground. Have you ever seen Keith Urban? To be perfectly honest sometimes I can’t tell the difference, and apparently neither can my favorite radio station, they play both.

JET: Leather or Lace?

Cara: Leather, lace makes me itch. I wore a lace bra that made me want to scream.

JET: Angels or Demons?

Cara: Angels, although they may be a little too nice for me.

JET: Paper or Digital?

Cara: Digital for work, dealers get a break every hour so we always have a book on the go. Paper for the beach I would hate to drop my Kindle in the water.

JET: Top 10 best seller or Unknown Back Shelf Find?

Cara: I loved Shopgirl by Steve Martin, but I don’t know many people that have read. It is written so well and the characters are so realistic. I also loved Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler about how one event can change the way you live your life.

JET: Twilight or True Blood

Cara: Neither, I just like old fashioned romance that you can consummate.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Cara: Tea, I am a southerner we were raised on ice tea, at every meal, in any season.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Cara: Through the years we have heard so many crazy things in the casino that just weren’t true, so we wanted to do something about it. Right now my husband, Ray, and I are working on our new blog. It is called We started it to promote our novel about casinos and cruise ships and now we have decided to see how far we can take it. Our blog teaches novices something about gambling and casino life. If any of your readers have any good gambling stories or just general questions please have them contact us at

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Cara Bertoia and her work at the following places: and

You can purchase Cara's book in the following formats:  E-book  and  Paperback

Thank you for joining us today!

Until next time,



Monday, August 15, 2011

Manic Monday with Kimberly Miyasaki and Jennifer Dustow

Today I’ve got a little different Manic Monday on tap. An interview with Kimberly Miyasaki and Jennifer Dustow – authors of Vibrational Passage.

Kimberly Miyasaki Lee is a freelance writer who lives and writes in New York. She is a former TV News Producer and community affairs specialist and Jennifer Dustow holds a Doctorate in Education and is a Cognitive Behavioral Learning Specialist, with a successful private practice in Hawaii.

Kim and Jenn began their writing collaboration during the summer of 2009. The duo published their first novel in the Safe Passage Trilogy: "Vibrational Passage" as an ebook available through Kindle, Smashwords, and Barnes&Noble's Nook in April 2011. A paperback edition is now available through Amazon.

Their second novel in the trilogy is scheduled for release in December 2011. Their long-distance writing partnership is challenging due to the time difference, but it surprisingly works.

JET: Can you tell us about your novel Vibrational Passage?

Kim and Jenn:

Renowned geneticist Dr. Walden Sinclair is presumed dead after 9/11, but the dangerous secrets he kept are far from lost.

Dr. Sinclair, along with 32 other influential individuals, disappears during the attack on the World Trade Center towers. Trapped in time and space, Dr. Sinclair reaches out to expose the dark secrets he helped create and hide. Pulled into all of this is bookstore owner, Emma Lange. Her life along with others becomes a tangled web as they struggle to patch together the dangerous pieces left behind for them to discover.

What they find out is inconceivable. Hitler's scientists already had the technology for time travel. That knowledge, now in the hands of the U.S. military, has created an unimaginable weapon now located at a secretive research facility in Alaska; with the objective to control future events by altering time and space. Caught in the crossfire, are a group of genetically engineered children coveted for their psychic abilities. The only hope for these children under the Autism Spectrum is the one geneticist who cracked their code... and he has disappeared.

JET: What drew you to writing thrillers?

Kim and Jenn: Don’t get us wrong, we have great lives, but writing a thriller is extremely exhilarating. It gets imaginative energy flowing, which then spills over into our lives making life that much more fun and interesting.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Kim and Jenn: That is a loaded question that could lead to a lot of whining. But we would have to say the most challenging aspect has been our own attitudes. Every step had challenges, writing a novel while living in two different places with different time zones (New York and Hawaii), taking on the process of being self-published, and now marketing Vibrational Passage. Trials are part of life, whether publishing a novel or just getting the kids to school on time. Having someone to share this journey with has made every challenge manageable.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Kim and Jenn: Well we have two different answers on this one. For Jennifer it was holding Vibrational Passage book in her hands. It became real for her. While for Kim, a positive review from someone who is a voracious thriller reader, the fact that she liked it was a really nice surprise.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Kim and Jenn: Once again we have two different answers here. For Jennifer those writing influences are Madeleine L'Engle Camp, and great philosophers. While for Kim it all started off with Nancy Drew Mystery Stories which eventually led to too many authors to name here, but F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, J.D. Salinger and Virginia Woolf are the ones at the top of the list.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Kim and Jenn: Jennifer is a published researcher but plunging into fiction writing did not occur without the nudging from Kim. While Kim always knew she was a fiction writer.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Kim and Jenn: Conducting the research for Vibrational Passage has led us to some extremely exciting information, which we found a way of including in the novel. However, we think the most interesting fact is that things somehow are always connected somehow; nothing is ever isolated. If it appears isolated it just means we have not found the connection yet…spooky!

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Kim and Jenn: If you are thinking about it – jump in. We all start somewhere, but the key is the starting. Could of, should of, would of must not be on anyone’s tomb stone head. Life is shorter than we think and seems to be picking up speed as we get older.

JET: Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Kim and Jenn: We're currently working on book two of the Safe Passage Trilogy. It's very exciting and fun to write. Wally, Emma and Zoe jump into 15th Century Japan and eventually make their way to the mythical Dragon Kingdom. It's quite a leap from the New York City setting of Vibrational Passage.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Jennifer Dustow and Kim Miyasaki Lee and their work at: as well as the following places:



On Friday, I’m dishing it up with Cara Bertoia – swing in and say hi if you get the chance.

Until then,



Friday, August 12, 2011

Dishing it up with Stuart Land

Today I have the pleasure of dishing it up with author Stuart Land.

Stuart’s story ideas come from his vivid imagination, but his inspiration draws from extensive world travel and fascinating careers: from US military medic to hairstylist, then Washington D.C. Police officer to NYC photographer.

Later, he converted a chicken coop in the woods into a live-in studio and taught himsself metal sculpture. That rudimentary craft expanded into the fine arts. Sculptures in bronze and fiberglass led to shows in the US, England and Thailand.

His passion for all arts segued into: costume design (top 100 designers in the book, Fashion: 2001); modeling agency art director; fashion show designer; water feature designer, computer illustrator and a top sculptor for special effects, sets and props in the entertainment industry with work in over thirty major films, hotels and theme parks worldwide.

During his film career, he learned screenwriting firsthand, writing over a dozen screenplays. To explore character and environment more, he took up narrative fiction. He’s completed many short stories and five novels. His writing places high in contests and his screenplays are optioned.

He continues on the journey.

JET: Stuart, can you tell us about your most recent book?

Stuart: My most recent book, BACK FROM THE DEAD: the true sequel to Frankenstein, is coming out this August. Frankenstein's creature, revived from a two hundred year arctic freeze, reveals a different perspective on his origins, why he survived, and what happened to his mate.  How he fares in the modern world is an assemblage, like the creature himself, of psychological drama, horror, romance, science fiction, and Gothic story telling.  It takes you on a trip through present day reality, with sojourns into the past that leaves you pondering the future.

JET: What drew you to supernatural thrillers?

Stuart: I like the quirkiness that the supernatural or paranormal can lend to a story. Myself, and another writer I recently met, call our work, Supernatural Realism, because we like to present the story as realistically as possible but add the supernatural elements. I live “real” life, but I like to create worlds that are different in some way to real life. I like showing how “real” people react to things that don’t conform to “normal” reality.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Stuart: Getting agents and publishers to read my stories. The gates are so narrowly open, that I hardly ever got my work read. And when I did, it wasn’t what they wanted for one reason or another. One agent sent me back a detailed breakdown of why my book wasn’t any good; the only problem with his critique was that it was for someone else’s book!

After working many years in the movie biz, I realized that an agent or publisher was only trying to foresee the future and what they thought was going to sell. But really, they didn’t know anymore than anyone else, yet almost everyone I encountered had a conceit that they were the only ones who knew the unforeseeable. And then there was personal taste. I had to appease the agent’s personal reading taste in order to get through to the wide varieties of everyone else’s reading tastes. Why was it that ten agents could find my work lacking, yet fifty or a hundred random readers didn’t?

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Stuart: My favorite moments are the actual writing. I love watching my characters
form from nothing and solve the situations they find themselves in, seemingly, with no help from me. As for marketing, I’ve met some really great people, both authors and readers.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Stuart: Herman Hesse, Ayn Rand, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Issac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and many others.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Stuart: Well, I wrote short stories as a kid, but didn’t get seriously into writing until I worked in the film business in Hollywood and watched writers, directors, and actors create out of thin air. I figured I could do that...big surprise! It wasn’t so easy when I first tried it. But I’m a stubborn sort, so stuck with it year after year honing the craft of screenwriting and novel writing.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Stuart: I joined a vampire coven, drank baby’s blood, cavorted with female zombies...oh wait, that was my normal Saturday night. I guess I haven’t done anything specifically crazy in research, but most of my stories are based on things that I already did. Now, it’s just a question of interviewing people and tons of online research.

The most interest fact I’ve discovered, much to my horror, was that a hundred fairies can’t dance on the head of a pin. Actually, it’s my own fault, because for some reason, I thought they were talking about the pointy end. So since I found out they were talking about the flat end, well, jeez, of course there’s room for a hundred fairies there. But I was wrong. Only 89 fairies can fit nicely.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

Stuart: Each novel I write is my favorite while I’m writing it. My stories are all so different and unique, that they stand on their own, so to compare them is an apples/oranges dilemma.

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

Stuart: Everyone’s already heard the “don’t give up” advice. My advice goes a step further, but narrower. If you start a project, finish it. It’s easy to get caught in a cycle where you don’t finish what you’ve started. Second advice is to take as much effort in your rewrite as in the first draft. Maybe even more. This is where you can make your writing shine. It’s mandatory to put your first draft away for at least a month. You need to approach a rewrite with fresh eyes. I work with a writers group. It’s important to have outside opinions. If you’re writing to get by, it’s not necessary to take any of my advice, but if you really want to better your craft, you should consider it.

My one (may odd) bit of advice which may be different than most, is directed at those who truly want to better their storytelling craft. To be a better writer, means better at storytelling with efficient use of words, strong, but different plots, solid structure, and with concise and realistic dialogue. You will greatly improve these abilities if you learn the craft of screenwriting. Yes, they are two completely different ways of storytelling, but screenwriting helps define all those points I made above. Screenplays are like the poem of a story. For movies, these poems are interpreted by one hundred to two hundred people as they bring the story to life on the screen. For narrative writers, this shorthand of writing allows them to see their stories more completely, like an enhanced outline. I don’t write a screenplay for my novels, but I can use that ability to flesh out a story as I write it so that I never get lost or don’t know why characters do what they do.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with: Paper or Plastic?

Stuart: I think all blow-up dolls should definitely be plastic. Paper just doesn’t hold air all that well.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Stuart: Tofu steak smothered in paper mushrooms. Yummy!

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Stuart: I’ve always be partial to mountain beaches. Since I live five minutes from a waterfall, you can guess my preference. Now, Hawaii is no fair because they have mountains and waters right on the beach!

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Stuart: Country rock. And all other genres.

JET: Top 10 best seller or Unknown Back Shelf Find?

Stuart: The God of Small Things; Flashman series

JET: Zombies or Demons?

Stuart: Demon zombie vampires

JET: Paper or Digital?

Stuart: Both. But it’s getting harder and harder to carry around 5000 paper books.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Stuart: YES!

JET: Sword wielding ninja or Gun toting momma?

Stuart: Ninja, blades down.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Stuart: Cha yen = Thai iced tea.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Stuart: Just so you don’t forget the novel I put out last month, here’s a recap: EPIPHANY is cross-genre sci-fi/mystery/drama..

Doctor Sam Enright and his geneticist wife, Dorinda, face turmoil in their small town when a dozen adolescent girls show up pregnant at Sam’s office—and they’re all virgins. When their own daughter falls victim to the same fate, the Enrights rush to Homeland Security for answers. As the questions multiply, they realize they are at the vanguard of a worldwide epidemic, and the mystery deepens. As the events escalate, a disparate group of international doctors, scientists, and mothers-to-be are brought together at Dorinda’s genetics lab in Middle America. They race to find the cause and meaning of the mysterious pregnancies, but every discovery reveals a new, worse scenario, leaving humanity's very existence in question.

This story is based entirely on science fact with no paranormal elements.

Now, besides time-sucking marketing, I’m writing a chik-lit rom/com screenplay. My first in this genre, but based on a story by a woman friend, just so you know I’m not making up this female stuff. I’ve also started on the sequel to Original Blood, called Szejna’s Revenge. This story takes place over a three thousand year time span.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Stuart Land and his work at the following places:

WebsiteBlogTwitter, FacebookLinked InGoodreads, Ning



EPIPHANY in the US.   EPIPHANY in the UK.  and

Next week, I have author Cara Bertoia on tap.

Until then,



Monday, August 8, 2011

Manic Monday with Romi Moondi

Welcome to Manic Monday. My guest today is Romi Moondi, author of The Book of Awful. Please give her a warm welcome…

Humor, Self-Publishing and the Dreamer Way!

In the beginning (post-fetus, pre-adult), some people thought I was funny, and other people thought I was horrible.

This seemed like enough to charge up a writers' dream, so off I went!

At age eighteen I was somehow entrusted with a fake advice column for our high school newspaper. My name was "Dr. Teen Angst" and I was blunt. But humorous. But a little bit mean.

A bunch of people loved it.

A bunch of other people thought it was dumb.

Through the next several years I wrote some parody stuff for websites, started and never finished a few books, then began to write a blog about finding true love when you basically…suck at finding love.

This humorous blog was called "Year of the Chick" ( I turned it into a rom-com novel, found a literary agent, and received some good publisher feedback…but it didn't sell.

Then came Amazon.

But hold the phone: I didn't self-publish "Year of the Chick".

I DID self-publish "The Book of Awful".

This published "thing" (it seems most appropriate to call this book "thing" or "mutated baby") was written out of personal protest, to the bestselling "The Book of Awesome". I won't repeat my handy Amazon book description, but let's just say I don't like people telling me how to be happy. So when they do…I tell them what is horrible. In a ridiculous kind of way.

And that's the book.

The last three months of being published have been a glorious ride and learning experience. I've learned what it means for people to love what I write and also hate it, just like in the "Dr Teen Angst" high school days. I've learned it's always best to create a "thing" that's made of YOU (even if the result is a "mutated baby" book), since the alternative of pleasing everyone is as bland as a bowl of porridge (sorry porridge, it just isn't happening for you). And let's be honest, even if you took the safe route, you would fail at pleasing them all.

I've also been thrilled to discover that so far, over 250 strangers have purchased a book that isn't exactly a mainstream cup of tea. Thanks for embracing my weirdness, dear readers. It truly means the world.

I will publish "Year of the Chick" before the end of the year, because I love reaching readers without the highly subjective gatekeepers robbing you of this miracle (all hail self-publishing…but let's make sure we edit before we publish! :-) ).

So now you know, that despite my office job where I’m responsible for millions of dollars that aren't my own, I will keep on writing and keep on publishing…simply because I'm a dreamer like that.

Which brings me to the dreamer component.

As much as my current blog and "The Book of Awful" indicate a "mutated baby" style of writing that will often alarm and offend, I also like to write from the heart. To make you laugh and make you cry. To take my very own personal heartbreak, and turn it into tragic but hopeful but funny tales of love.

Just like I did three months ago, when I randomly wrote a screenplay.

This screenplay is currently making the competition/contest rounds. My updates on that quest as well as strange daily thoughts can be observed via Twitter. So far I've advanced in one screenplay contest, and hope to continue the trend. Mostly because this movie just HAS to get made, and Ryan Gosling just NEEDS to play the main lead.

Dream big or play "Sims" all day; the choice is yours!

Romi Moondi

Thank you for joining us today. Don’t forget, Stuart Land is dishing it up on Friday.

Until Then,

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dishing it up with Erin Zarro

Hey folks, today I’m dishing it up with Erin Zarro. Erin is a poet and aspiring novelist living in Warren, Michigan. To pay the bills, she works as an Office Manager for a small marketing firm. By night, she weaves words into poetry and novels. She has a cat, Hailey, who is part-vampire and a husband who's her Prince Charming.

When not writing, Erin can be found watching TV shows she's addicted to (Bones, House, Fringe, Fear Factor – that trying to scare herself thing! – and General Hospital), reading novels by the hundreds (her office is filled with books, books, and more books), taking pictures (which is her second love), and trying desperately to scare herself with various scary things. So far, she has been unsuccessful, but has high hopes for the future.

JET: Erin, can you tell us about your most recent book?

Erin: My most recent book was a chapbook of poetry called Without Wings, which released on April 1st. It explores the dark side of love, what happens after the happily ever after.

JET: What drew you to fantasy and horror?

Erin: Well, I've always loved scary things and things that go bump in the night. I've been on a quest over the past few years to scare myself, as I haven't been scared by any recent movies or novels – yet. In my own writing, I try to cross that line and cross it often. I want my readers to be biting their fingernails raw and be afraid of what's waiting in the shadows. I am sooo evil, muhaaaa.

Fantasy was a total fluke. I'd been writing for years, mostly contemporary romance. I also read it – Danielle Steel in particular. My Mom started reading Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind on a whim and loved it. She gave me hell about reading it – and I kept refusing because “I'm not interested in fantasy.” Ha! I'm now eating my words because I finally read it and fell in love. That's when I started reading and writing fantasy. I think my favorite thing about it is that anything goes – you can build a whole new world or change aspects of our world. Creatures that only exist in myth (vampires and fairies, for an example) can exist in our world. I love magic, too. And paranormal creatures and things. Basically, everything. I love to play with the possibilities.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Erin: Actually finishing – and polishing – a novel worthy of publication. That's been my biggest issue. Finishing a manuscript, getting it critiqued, reworking it, finishing that...I'm happy to say that I'm almost ready to start querying agents. After about 3 years of this.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Erin: I think it was when I started getting reviews and comments on my my chapbooks from people who didn't love me – meaning, family and friends go easy on you, but strangers? Fellow writers? They'll tell you the truth. People said some beautiful, amazing things about Without Wings. And that felt wonderful.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Erin: Well, at first it was Danielle Steel. ~rolls eyes~ But then Terry Goodkind, early Laurell K. Hamilton, S.L. Viehl, Holly Lisle, and and Dean Koontz inspired me to write fantasy, horror, and sci-fi. And they continue to inspire me every day (plus others now).

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Erin: Gosh, I've always know it from about age 11. That's at least my earliest memory of saying, I want to be a writer when I grow up. My parents, ever practical and smart, encouraged me to find a job to support myself until I could support myself on writing, which lead me to college, which lead me to journalism and photography...but I've always come back to novel writing and poetry. They are my loves.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Erin: Unfortunately I have no crazy stories, but I can tell you a few things I've researched over the years for novels: brainwashing and mind control, the Iron Lung, multiple languages, false memories, dissociative identity disorder, police investigation, piloting a spaceship, blindness, and erotomania. One of the things I love most about writing is all the cool stuff I learn from my research!

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

Erin: Well, I can narrow it down to two. The first one, Pirouette, is dark fantasy and it's the one I want to start querying agents with. The main character, Alisia, is just so much fun to write. And the story is awesome. It's morphed into something completely different from the original and it's just...really unique, I think. I had a blast writing – and rewriting – it.

The second one, Survivor, a psychological horror, started out in 2004 as a project for an online class I was taking on novel writing. It was originally quite different from what it became. It is, I feel, my most brilliant work to date. I'm not bragging here – what I did with it I'll probably never be able to duplicate. It's a wild ride of madness, brainwashing, and one woman's journey to survive. (This one is on next year's schedule to be reworked a bit and then hopefully be sent out into the world).

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

Erin: Yes. Don't ever give up. Let me say that again. DON'T EVER GIVE UP. If you know in your heart that you're meant to write, don't let anything stop you from doing it. It's a precious gift. It needs to be given the attention it deserves. It nurtures the soul.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with: Paper or Plastic?

Erin: Paper

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Erin: Steak all the way baby

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Erin: Beach

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Erin: Rock 'n' roll

JET: Leather or Lace?

Erin: Leather!

JET: Angels or Demons?

Erin: Um...both?

JET: Paper or Digital?

Erin: Paper

JET: Twilight or True Blood?

Erin: True Blood

JET: Sword wielding ninja or Gun toting momma?

Erin: Sword wielding ninja

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Erin: Neither – Diet coke

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Erin: I'm currently getting ready to write a horror novel called Darklight. Most likely, I'll self-publish it. It's a very dark story, with witches and doppelgangers, an alternate world, and missing memories. I can't wait to start.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Erin Zarro and her work at the following places:

Her Website, Her Blog, Her Twitter handle: @ekendall
and: Turtleduck Press, a writer's alliance she belongs to.

Next week, I've got Stuart Land in the hot seat.  Swing in and say hi!
Until then,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy August 1st

Holy cow, it’s already August?

Yes indeed and I’ve got few August releases from my backspace brethren to highlighted below and a Manic Monday rant of my own. I’ve been pulled out of my little writing bubble with the current state of the union issues - neither of which make me happy. Debt ceilings, budget woes and the doomsday rhetoric plundering the airways. If this doesn’t sound like the beginning of the end, I don’t know what does.

What happened to living within your means and spending responsibly? I’ve seen enough frivolous spending on a personal basis around me - people racking up credit debt to the point they will never be able to get ahead, never mind pay it back in their lifetime. Well, it looks like the government has done this as well. Bottom line - our representatives in Washington have been irresponsible with our money.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. How many times are we going to be on the brink before we finally teeter over into national bankruptcy? Fiscal responsibility is necessary at the government level as well as state, local and even the individual level.

It’s high time we all start living within our means. I think things are going to get very ugly in the weeks and months to come for Americans, and I for one am not a happy camper having to foot the bill for our excess, because that’s exactly what it is – living to excess, spending to excess, never saying no.

Ok – rant over, at least for now.

Here are some neat books that are coming out in August that are escape worthy. Check them out…

Christa Allan - THE EDGE OF GRACE - August 1, 2011

In a matter of seconds, her entire world shifted...

An early morning call shatters Caryn Becker's world. Unable to cope with her brother’s news that he is gay, Caryn rejects him and disappears into her own turbulent life as a young widow and single mom. But when David is attacked and nearly killed, Caryn is forced to make hard choices about family, faith, and her own future; choices that take her to the very edge of grace.

Tish Cohen - SWITCH - August 23, 2011

Careful. Some wishes do come true.

When you have 37 siblings, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Andrea Birch feels totally ignored by her parents even though she’s their only biological child. The constant revolving door at her house full of foster kids can be cool sometimes, but really it just makes Andrea sad.

Still there’s one thing—one hot person—who makes Andrea happy: Will Sherwood.

Only he’s dating Joules Adams…the girl with the perfect life. She’s got the perfect body, the perfect clothes, and she’s the daughter of a famous rock star.

Andrea would give anything to switch places with Joules.

But when her wish comes true, Andrea’s new life isn’t dream scenario she envisioned. In fact, it turns out to be the one wish she didn’t want to come true. Will she ever be able to switch back?

Chris Grabenstein - THE BLACK HEART CRYPT
August 23, 2011

Halloween is nearing, the one day of the year when the ghostly plane is close enough to the human plane to allow mischief and mayhem. But the ghosts who have their eye on Zack aren't thinking mischief, they are thinking murder.

Elizabeth Letts - THE EIGHTY DOLLAR CHAMPION: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation - August 23rd, 2011
November 1958: the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Into the rarefied atmosphere of wealth and tradition comes the most unlikely of horses—a drab white former plow horse named Snowman—and his rider, Harry de Leyer. They were the longest of all longshots—and their win was the stuff of legend.

Don’t forget to swing in on Friday when I’m dishing it up with fantasy and horror writer Erin Zarro.

Until then,