Tuesday, January 31, 2012

10 Questions with Thriller Writer Jennifer Chase (@JChaseNovelist)

This Author Spotlight features award-winning author and criminologist Jennifer Chase.

Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s in criminology.  In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She’s a member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.

Jennifer is an award-winning author, freelance writer, and a criminologist.  She has authored four crime fiction, thriller novels: COMPULSION, DEAD GAME, SILENT PARTNER, and DARK MIND.  She has authored a non-fiction book HOW TO WRITE A SCREENPLAY incorporating a step-by-step process to write a screenplay.  She currently assists clients in publishing, ghostwriting, book reviews, blogs, articles, screenwriting, editing, and research.

Jennifer's novels can be seen below.





1. How did you get into writing?

I’ve always had a love affair with books.  Writing was a reward for me and I’ve taken on that challenge for as long as I can remember.  Originally, my life took on a more business aspect into the corporate world, but writing was always calling to me.  In 2008, I decided to take a serious look at writing crime fiction and I haven’t looked back.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I love the fact that story inspirations and ideas can come from anywhere and at any time.  The novel possibilities are endless and drive me forward to produce books, along with a little bit of fear too.  I find some of my most interesting ideas and characters when I’m relaxing, walking my dogs at the beach, or housecleaning.  

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I’m one of those annoying writers that must have an outline – more than just a basic couple of pages.  It actually turns out to be a choppy first draft and it’s a way for me to see the overall story, pacing, subplots, and suspense level.  I can tweak anything at any time, but it’s nice to have a roadmap before you begin any journey.  I try to stick to writing a minimum of 2,000 words per day, except Sundays.  Afternoons seem to be the most productive time for me, so I delegate mornings for my consulting and errands.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I love most thriller and mystery authors, whether they are mainstream or indie published.  I admire the writing style and sometimes interestingly unique story lines of Dean Koontz.  I would love to get a peek inside his head sometime and see what else I could learn about writing.  He’s been one of my favorite authors for a long time along with Jeffrey Deaver, David Baldacci, John Grisham, and Tess Gerristsen.  All of these writers have an incredible way of layering and developing in-depth characters and making you care about them.  

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

Outside – but ask me again tomorrow and I might answer differently.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

I think I was at the same frat party with Ox when I was in college.

7. What is your book Dark Mind about and how did it come to fruition?

Dark Mind is part of the Emily Stone thriller series, but it can easily be a stand-alone novel.

A Serial Killer Plagues an Island Paradise…

Vigilante detective Emily Stone continues her covert pursuits to find serial killers and child abductors, all under the radar while shadowing police investigations.

Emily searches for an abducted nine-year-old girl taken by ruthless and enterprising slave brokers. Following the clues from California to the garden island of Kauai, she begins to piece together the evidence and ventures deep into the jungle.

It doesn’t take long before Emily is thrown into the middle of murder, mayhem, and conspiracy. Locals aren’t talking as a serial killer now stalks the island, taking women in a brutal frenzy of ancient superstitions and folklore. Local cops are unprepared for what lies ahead. In a race against the clock, Emily and her team must identify the killer before time runs out.

One of my trips to Kauai inspired this particular story a few years ago.  I remember clearly, when I sat on a beautiful, deserted beach and I thought “what if”.  I thought about what would happen if there were a serial killer on the loose and how the island would cope and even solve the case.

8. What’s your current writing project?

I’m in the process of outlining my next Emily Stone thriller called Dead Burn (working title).  This particular serial killer is enticed by arson and the many ways to trap his victims in order to play out his twisted fantasies.  I love the challenge of creating even higher stakes for my heroine to encounter and a cleverer, hideous killer to hunt down.  Tentatively, it will be released in the fall of this year.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Under the Dome by Stephen King and A Slice of Carmel by Barbara Chamberlain.  I also frequently find myself in non-fiction books for research, such as Criminal Profiling by Brent Turvey and The Psychopathic Mind by J. Reid Meloy.

Ah, yes, Under the Dome. Dark, realized, compelling, with great antagonists you despise. Vintage King. Okay, commercial concluded.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

I’m inspired by everything around me, whether it’s in my yard, neighborhood, top news stories, or interesting people I meet along the way.  The world is an inspiring place for writers.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

Thank you so much for having me here today!

You're welcome, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

Check out Jennifer's work at all the online hot spots.

If you're a writer and would like to be featured in an upcoming Author Spotlight, please contact me at AuthorRyanSchneider@gmail.com.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

10 Questions with Bestselling Author Melissa Foster (@Melissa_Foster)

This author spotlight features bestselling and award-winning writer (and mother of SIX!) Melissa Foster, who lives in Maryland.

Melissa is the author of COME BACK TO ME (see above), CHASING AMANDA

and MEGAN'S WAY (which is being adapted to film)

1.How did you get into writing?

I’m an odd duck. I wasn’t one of those kids who carried around a notebook and pencil. I was a major tomboy, with little time for slowing down. When I was in my early twenties, I felt the pull to write—it was so strong, that from that moment on, it’s what I craved.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

What I like best about writing is that I never bore of the craft. One is never perfect at writing, or marketing, therefore, I’m always learning and trying to make things better and do things differently. What could be better than climbing into your imagination and bringing pretend people to life? There are so many paths to follow—it’s so exciting!

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I’m a total pantzer, but I’m trying to change that. I usually work from an idea and a white board, and during the writing process, I make a storyboard and work from that. I usually develop an outline near the end of my writing process. Weird, I know. My editor is not pleased with that aspect of my writing, but I’m like a rebellious child—try to get me to follow the common path and I’ll head for the woods instead.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

There are so many! Commercially successful, Stephen King. Although I don’t care for all of his details (sometimes), he’s brilliant, and creative, and has endless scary thoughts. I admire Lisa See’s ability to write about different cultures, and I admire Abraham Verghese’s eloquent writing style and his impeccable ability to create unique and vibrant characters. I admire anyone who writes, no matter if they’re published or how they’re published, whether it’s a work of beauty or a rough draft. Writing is a difficult process. As my son once told me, “It’s hard enough to write a paragraph, much less 300 pages.”

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

Outside (I called my editor to make sure I was right, lol).

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

I don’t discuss commas. They always get me in trouble.

7.What is your book COME BACK TO ME about and how did it come to fruition?

COME BACK TO ME came to me the summer before my husband was to be sent to Iraq. I let my mind wander—what would happen if he didn’t come back, what if something happened to me while he was gone, how would I feel if I couldn’t talk to him. It all stemmed from what was to be, and was written while he was overseas.

8.What’s your current writing project?

I’m working on a psychological thriller/suspense titled THIRTY-SIX HOURS (working title). Here’s a brief intro:

Kara Knight has just thirty-six hours to find her way out of her obsessive captor's delusional world. Mistaken for Roland Greer's long-lost fraternal twin, Kara struggles to make sense in the darkness that envelops her, and plan her escape, as the hours tick away and Roland Greer plays out his plan. In thirty-six hours, at the exact moment of their birth, he will take them both into death--never to be separated again.

THIRTY-SIX HOURS is a psychological thriller that will make you question your every memory. 

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, and Out of Breath by Susan Salluce

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

Life inspires my writing, fear drives it.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

MEGAN'S WAY is about 18 mos from production right now. I was referred to the director by a wonderful friend in the theater realm. I met the director, we hit it off, and voila! We're on our way.

My books are all available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

Thank you, Ryan, for inviting me to be your guest today. I’ve enjoyed our chat very much.

You're quite welcome, Melissa. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your work and story with us.

Read on for more information about Melissa and follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Melissa_Foster

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of three International bestselling novels, Megan's Way, Chasing Amanda, and Come Back to Me. She has also been published in Indie Chicks, and anthology. She is the founder of the Women's Nest, a social and support community for women, and the World Literary Cafe, a cross-promotional site for authors, reviewers, bloggers, and readers. Melissa is currently collaborating in the film production of Megan's Way.

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, she's written for Calgary's Child Magazine and Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family. Melissa's interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping women see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Visit Melissa on The Women's Nest or World Lit Cafe. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

A portion of Melissa's book revenue is donated to Provincetown Cares.

2011 Beach Book Award Winner (Spirituality)
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Fiction/Drama), Finalist (Women's Fiction)
2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Finalist (Spirituality)
2011 New England Book Festival, Honorable Mention (Spirituality)

2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Paranormal), Finalist, (Women's Fiction, Mystery)
2011 Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards, Winner, (Paranormal)
Top 10 Books of 2011, Pixel of Ink
Amazon Top 100 75+ Days running
Indie Reader's Bestselling List That Counts (8 weeks)
Top Books of 2011, The Write Agenda

Top 5 Must Read Books of 2011, IndieReader
Top Ten Books of 2011, Tea Time With Marce
IndieReader Best Reviewed Books of 2011, Huffington Post

Member: Maryland Writers' Association
Member: Independent Author Network
Member: RABMAD, Read a Book Make a Difference.

An impressive resume, Melissa!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

10 Questions with Science Fiction Novelist Glen Hendrix (@GlenHendrix)

I think Glen is going to win the award for
Best Author Photo.

This week's Author Spotlight features science fiction novelist and Irish whiskey aficionado Glen Hendrix, who lives in Houston, Texas.

Glen describes himself as "Inventor of Virtual Virtuality. Experimental abstract technician. Practitioner of conceptual synthesis (with protection, of course)."

1. How did you get into writing?

Me: “Some day I’m going to write that science fiction novel, you watch.”
Wife: “Yeah, yeah.”
Me: “Why haven’t we seen that idea in a science fiction novel?”
Wife: “I dunno.”
Me: “Man, I can write a better science fiction book than this.”
Wife: “Write the damn book already! You’re drivin’ me nuts!”

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I least like the frantic desperation at 2 A.M. when I haven’t met a reasonable writing goal for that day and feel myself slipping and sliding down a dark funnel of mindlessness lubricated with reality shows, reruns of Stargate SG-1, and…just kidding. That never happens. It’s all good. What I like most is the illusion of total control over the worlds I create when I write.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I don’t set daily goals and I don’t force myself to write everyday. Sometimes it’s several days between writing sessions; but I think about it a lot, allowing scenes to steep and ferment.

With Transmat World I had a vague mental outline of the plot and used it as a reference while writing by the seat of my pants. For my second book I’m using a more defined written outline that I refer to occasionally while pants seat writing. I guess I’m a barely controlled pantser. Sounds like some kind of wild military animal.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

From Asimov to Zelazny, I’ve read a lot of scifi authors that I admire. Neal Stephenson and Iain Banks are a couple of my favorites. Recently I read a scifi/fantasy book called Angelfall by Susan Ee. She won’t admit this, but it’s obvious Susan’s imagination glands have been surgically enhanced. She’s a wonderful talent I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

I care not if the entire universe be against me, the question mark should go outside the quotes in that sentence. As Spock would say, “It’s logical.”

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I am not ashamed to say that I voted for Oxford Comma, and I think he’s doing a fine job.

7. What is your book TRANSMAT WORLD about and how did it come to fruition?

Transmat World is a story of discovery and redemption as young Vince Miller shoulders the responsibility of having collapsed the world’s economy with the introduction of Transmat, the first teleportation device. Think L. Sprague de Camp meets Larry Niven.

8. What’s your current writing project?

I’m up to chapter 5 of the next book in the Transmat series tentatively titled Transmat Galaxy. Do you see where I’m going with this?

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?

I am currently reading a book called Atlantis by Bob Mayer.

Ah. Perhaps Mr. Mayer would fancy doing an Author Spotlight.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

I take inspiration from the science fiction world we live in, but I’m inspired to write for a purely selfish reason. It’s fun. Besides sex and Irish whiskey, writing can be one of the most enjoyable things around. Combining the three is a real treat.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

Find Transmat World at http://amzn.to/yPFF9V. It’s one of the better bangs for your entertainment buck around.

Ryan, thank you for the honor and privilege of being included in this bevy of stellar authors on your site.

You're welcome, Glen. Thank you for sharing your story, wit, and writing with us. Looking forward to TRANSMAT GALAXY.

Follow Glen on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/GlenHendrix

If you are a writer/author/novelist/poet and would like to be featured in a future Author Spotlight, please contact me at AuthorRyanSchneider@gmail.com.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

10 Questions with Writer Bert Carson (@BertCarson)

This week's Author Spotlight features Huntsville, Alabama-based writer Bert Carson. Bert is the author of SOUTHERN INVESTIGATION (see above), FOURTH AND FOREVER


and the forthcoming MADDOG & MISS KITTY.

1. How did you get into writing?

I got in and immediately out of writing when I was in the sixth grade.  The teacher assigned a short story writing project, my first such assignment.  I labored over that story more than I’d ever labored over any other assignment, maybe more than I’d labored over all other assignments.  It was quite a fine story, I thought, and to be totally honest, I still think.   Each of us read our story to the class and as I look back on it, that’s where the problem originated.   Public speaking was a major issue in my life for forty years – I had a burning desire to do it and I was petrified at the thought of doing it.  In any case, I managed to read my story and no one understood it.  I suspect, my being practically incoherent as I read it had a lot to do with that.  In any case, I didn’t write any more stories while I was in school.

Then, at age forty, after whipping my fear of speaking in public, I became a professional speaker.  For eleven years I traveled the country, speaking in 48 states and forcing myself to speak in the Caribbean, Cancun, Tahiti, and Canada.  During those years I discovered that I love to tell stories and I honed my oral story telling ability.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I love writing when I can do it the way that works for me – that way is, four or five hours per session, seven days a week.  Actually, I think that would work for me, I’ve just never had that opportunity to write that way, nor have I had anything that vaguely resembles it.

My least favorite part of writing is marketing and I mean marketing a book in the conventional, paper publishing industry, and marketing an eBook that I self-published.  I should explain that I’ve never been successful at either task and that is probably why I don’t enjoy it.  I accumulated 412 rejections for Fourth and Forever before I put it in my bottom desk drawer.  Last January (2011) I dusted it off, got a cover, and self-published it.   I’ve sold less than 150 copies and that number is true of my other two books.  So, I think it’s fair to say that I don’t like marketing because I haven’t figured it out . . . yet.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I don’t outline, at least, not at this time.  I do use a story line of sorts, just to stay on a general tack.  As I mentioned in the previous question, I’d love to write 4 or 5 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I would do that were it not for the day job which is essential to pay the power bill and thus keep the laptop charged – catch 22.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

My two favorite novelists are Nevil Shute and Robert B. Parker.  Shute was a very successful aeronautical engineer who began writing in the evenings to amuse himself.  His twenty-two novels include, Round the Bend, Trustee From the Toolroom, and On the Beach.  I love them all.  However, Round the Bend is my favorite because not only is it a great read; it is a powerful esoteric manual.

I love Robert B. Parker for his dialogue.  There has never been anyone better and I wonder if there ever will be.  The only problem Robert had was writing as a woman (Sunny Randall), he was just too much man to handle that task very well.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

The First Bert Carson rule of punctuation applies here – It’s your question mark, you can put it wherever you want to put it.  It’s easy to be flip when your wife is a master of punctuation and fixes everything you write – mine, Christina Carson, is a master and does handle all my punctuation, among other things.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

The second Bert Carson rule of punctuation is – Don’t take a stand on things you know nothing about.

7. What is your book Fourth and Forever about and how did it come to fruition?

In 1986, in Missoula, Montana, I went for a Sunday morning run prior to a speaking engagement.  The route I chose took me onto the campus of The University of Montana.  As I jogged around the edge of the UM Grizzlies practice field a story idea came to me.  The idea ultimately turned into the novel, Fourth and Forever.  A book about a 44 year-old, retired Army helicopter pilot who enrolls at UM with his son.  Ultimately he becomes the Grizzlies starting quarterback.

8. What’s your current writing project?

Maddog & Miss Kitty is the current project – when it’s wrapped up I’ll get back on Southern Investigation – Tucson, the second in the Southern Investigation series.

I’m putting the finishing touches on Maddog & Miss Kitty, a novella that I’m going to publish with four short stories.  Erin Potter, my editor, has just finished working her magic on the short stories and I should finish Maddog & Miss Kitty in the next week to ten days, then I’ll turn it over to Erin.

In 1993 Desert Shield became Desert Storm and all of my well-repressed Vietnam issues came up.  To make a long story short, I founded a group called, Vietnam Veterans Southern Command.  That organization was the key to the closure I needed.  There is a PTSD tab on my website where anyone interested in the group and PTSD can find some interesting information.

A couple of months after Vietnam Veterans Southern Command was born I was speaking in Santa Fe.  Someone there told me about Angel Fire, a Vietnam Memorial near Taos.  On May 1st, I visited Angel Fire for the first time.  Maddog and Miss Kitty had been there and left just before I arrived.  I decided to tell their stories – the tale of two Vietnam Veterans.  It’s a war story, a post-war story, and most of all, it’s a love story.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?

When I’m writing hard, I tend to read Robert Parker.  A few weeks ago I decided to reread the entire Spenser series, beginning with the first one.  I’m currently reading the second in the series, God Save the Child.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

At risk of sounding arrogant, because I know that truth often sounds that way, two things inspire my writing and the first one powers the second one.   First, bad indie writing inspires me – and there is plenty of it out there.  When I read, or, I should say, begin reading, a poorly written book, I’m inspired to leave it and get back to writing.  Writing makes me a better writer.  So, bad writing by indie or conventional authors makes me a better writer.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

My books are all available on Amazon – my author’s page is:

My web site is:


You can also follow Bert on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/BertCarson

Thank you, Bert, for sharing your books and story with us. We look forward to Maddog & Miss Kitty in the coming days, as well as the next Southern Investigation installment. And Thank You for your service to our country.

If you are a writer/novelist/author and would like to be featured in an upcoming Author Spotlight, please contact me at AuthorRyanSchneider@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How To Handle A Compromised Twitter Account

You seen what this person is saying about you? ... terrible things..

Hey, theres someone making nasty blogs about you, check them out...

Are you aware of the bad things someone is saying about you? this is what they are saying ... real nasty things...

We've all seen these bogus messages on Twitter.

In case you haven't seen them or aren't aware, THESE MESSAGES ARE BOGUS.

These messages are sent by spammers, scammers, losers, and dipsh*ts trying to tempt/entice/coerce you into clicking the link. Clicking the link takes you to a page which tries to sell you an iPad half the time. (The aforementioned spammers, scammers, losers, and dipsh*ts get paid per click, and their automated software has found you.)

But it could also be much more insidious, ie DANGEROUS to your computer.

I have a close friend who makes his living doing computer repair and setting up networks for small businesses. He is constantly texting me and emailing me, warning that there are new viruses and exploits hitting the Internet.

Clicking on these bogus links and going to an outside page can possibly lead to such an exploit. Exploits can be so insidious that simply mousing over a dialogue box can activate it. Clicking the little X to close a dialogue box can activate it.

So make sure you have anti-virus software installed, running, and updated. (My friend likes AVG, simply because, of all the sick computers he sees, and of all the anti-virus software available, in his experience AVG seems to catch more bugs than the other brands.)

So, getting back to Twitter and the bogus messages: what to do about them?

I went to Twitter's help page and read that they suggest three steps for a compromised account:

1. Change your password
2. Revoke connections
3. Update your new password in your trusted third-party applications

They also address the issue specifically:

"Be wary of weird links in DMs: Be cautious when clicking on odd links in DMs. Even if the link came from a friend, it's possible that their account was compromised and the URL was actually sent out by a spammer."

"Phishing websites will often look just like Twitter's login page, but will actually be a website that is not Twitter. Here are some examples of URLs that are NOT Twitter pages:

And here's more:

"Evaluating Links on Twitter
Lots of links are shared on Twitter, and many are posted with URL shorteners. URL shorteners, like bit.ly or TinyURL, create unique, shortened links that redirect to your longer link so it can be more easily shared. URL shorteners can also obscure the end domain, making it difficult to tell where the link goes to.

Some browsers have free plug-ins that will show you the extended URLs without you having to click on them. Here are links to plug-ins for Internet Explorer and Firefox (which is a free-to-download browser):

In general, please use caution when clicking on links. If you click on a link and find yourself unexpectedly on a page that resembles the Twitter login page, don't give up your username and password! Just type in Twitter.com into your browser bar and log in directly from the Twitter homepage."

And finally we have an answer to the problem as suggested by the Twitter folks; THIS is the reason I wrote this blog; THIS is the dilemma I've been faced with:

"Assist any Compromised Friends and Followers

If you get a weird link from a follower that you think is a phishing site or a spam site, reach out and suggest they change their password right away. You can also send them to the help page for compromised accounts so they can get more information."
I get A LOT of these dubious messages/links, goading me into exploring the nonexistent photos of myself or the equally nonexistent gossip.
Perhaps we all need to agree on a universal code phrase which we can send to the compromised person's account via a DM (direct message). Something quick, because I don't have time to sit around all day dealing with this. I know you don't, either. But if my account becomes compromised, I would like to know about it.
Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

10 Questions with Novelist Hardit Singh (@HarditSingh1)

This Author Spotlight
Bristol, UK-based writer

Hardit Singh

author of the novel TRAFFIC
as well as the novel DRIVER

and the short stories FAST LANE

1. How did you get into writing?

Through books. Took up reading again when I was in University and thought to myself ‘I want to try this.’

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?

The opportunity to create stories filled with characters that provide escapism and which touch and inspire people.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I like to work in the mornings, usually set myself a targeted word count every day and aim to write 7 days a week, but am happy with 5. Currently I don’t outline my work, I like to at least have a beginning and an ending and then begin the journey.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, Richard Price and Robert Crais.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

I always do inside the quotes.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

I used to not write with the Oxford comma, however after reading Strunk & White The Elements of Style I have decided to use it.

7. What is your book TRAFFIC about and how did it come to fruition?

TRAFFIC is about the world of sex trafficking. It follows a girl’s ordeal of being trafficked and having to adjust to her new world. Even though the daily work is physical, it is the emotional effect, which is also addressed – the fight to survive and her will to find a way out.

8. What’s your current writing project?

An untitled book thus far about a young boy who leaves his family in the pursuit of becoming a writer.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?

Stephen King – Under the Dome

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

The prospect of ending up in a 9 to 5 job, being able to support my family and to help people with my stories, whether to inspire, move or create some escape.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

You can also follow Hardit on Twitter: @HarditSingh1

Thank you for sharing your work with us, Hardit.

If you are an author/writer/novelist and would like to be featured in a future Author Spotlight, contact me at AuthorRyanSchneider@gmail.com.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

10 Questions with Writer Kathy Lynn Hall (@RedMojoMama)

This Author Spotlight features
Sacramento-based writer

Kathy Lynn Hall

author of

1. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing since I was 11. It was a natural thing for me to do as an introspective kid. Then I had a stint as an agented screenwriter, but never got beyond an option, so I retreated from writing for several years and pursued my “career” instead. Finally, I jumped into journalism with both feet and that propelled me into fiction eventually.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?

It’s screaming good fun, if you let it be. Years of fretting about writing have finally fallen away and now when I sit down to write I’m visiting my best friends (my characters, how sad is that?) and giving them life. My heroines tend to do the things I wish I could do.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I can’t outline. It stymies the story for me. I let the characters take me where they will within a very basic idea of beginning, middle and end. During the writing, I keep an excel spreadsheet going where I track ideas and storylines, adding them into the manuscript as I go along.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I’m very old school in my favorites – Agatha Christie, Elmore Leonard, Walter Mosley – but I’ve had the very great pleasure of expanding my horizons since Indie publishing and have found some gems – Russell Blake for thrillers, Michael R. Hicks for fantasy science fiction and I love Elise Stokes’ Cassidy Jones series. All of these are new genres for me.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?


6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

Forgetaboutit! But I was imprinted by my time as a journalist and in the “biz” you extract anything that will compress the story and save room on the page. I also learned to drop one of the spaces between sentences (I was a two spaces gal from way back) from my first editor. That was painful.

7. What is your book, Red Mojo Mama, about and how did it come to fruition?

This book was the first time I experienced joy in writing because Lydia (Red) just spoke to me. It’s about a widow, who has literally lost her mojo grieving for her dead husband and decides it’s time to get it back. She’s inherited a mobile home park and has visions of selling it and seeing the world but the cast of crazies in the park and a hot handyman throw a monkey wrench into that plan. Oh, yeah, and her dead husband, Mac, returns as a ghost, hanging out with her until he finds his new life.

8. What’s your current writing project?

I literally wrote this over the past New Year’s three-day weekend. I’m polishing it now. It’s a novella entitled (wait for it)… The Great Twitter Adventure – How 5 Tweeps Saved the World. One of my readers has described it as “a rollicking good time.” Yay!

Sounds like a great story. Timely and topical!

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’m reading King of Swords by Russell Blake and Peace Corpse by Andy Christofferson. Blake’s is as fast-paced and detailed as all of his writing is and Andy’s story of his time in the Peace Corps is laugh-out-loud funny.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

Life in general and I know that’s a boring answer, but it’s the truth. As a writer, I’m always observing and making notes in my head (all my mental file drawers are currently overflowing) and the ideas just burst forth and take me over.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

I never get enough chances to say thank you to Amazon for making it possible for me to publish my books. A life long dream came true because of this paradigm shift in publishing and I know there are countless writers out there who feel the same way.

The books are on Amazon and Smashwords. The newest one “Twitter Adventure” will be available this coming weekend.

UPDATE: THE GREAT TWITTER ADVENTURE is now available on Amazon.

Sounds great, Kathy. Thank you for taking the time to share, and let us know when your next book is ready.

If you are an author/writer/novelist and would like to be featured on an upcoming Author Spotlught, please contact me at AuthorRyanSchneider@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

10 Questions with Literary Fiction Novelist Christina Carson (@CarsonCanada)

This Author Spotlight
novelist Christina Carson.

Christina's work defies common genre classification. She describes her work as thought-provoking commercial fiction, sometimes called Book Club fiction, upscale fiction, or literary commercial fiction.

Christina is the author of DYING TO KNOW and SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN

Christina lives in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband, novelist Bert Carson. Stay tuned for a forthcoming Author Spotlight with Bert!

1.How did you get into writing?

Caution:  Being the queen of the long answer to the short question, I will do my best to resist that temptation.

Been doing it [writing] forever – everything from poetry to writing correspondence courses (Alberta gov’t.) to contributing editor of a Canadian investment magazine (stockbroker days – ugh, I just shivered) to an e-zine Bert and I published for about 6 years entitled “The Daily Inspiration,” which we eventually published as a monthly pocket book until it ate us out of house and home, literally. Then I started into fiction.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?

Best: It’s solitary, quiet and deeply centering. Plus talented writing thrills me. And since one has to read to write, I have a very decent excuse to access that thrill. Least: It’s tough to earn one’s living through it, and all this social networking we need to promote our work is like my worst nightmare. However, I wasn’t nicknamed “Bulldog” without good reason.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

Outlines – ugh, couldn’t bear them. Schedules and goals – not my strong point. But hell, I love it, so how hard is it to do what you love. As haphazard as I am, I get it done. Besides, I think books, like wine, need to mellow. This speed to get books out doesn’t appear to be offering the best of products. The one I just published, DYING TO KNOW, I worked on for 3 years. Besides, it’s fun when I go slower: I learn a lot.

4.  Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I love my husband’s books. They bring to life in the story and particularly through the characters what I see daily in him – an honest, unpretentious yet deeply engaged way to live. I am a Linda Hogan fan, John Steinbeck, Margaret Laurence, and Anne Proulx. I like substance in a book as well as excellent delivery.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

I’m no grammatical wonder but I believe it’s inside.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford comma?

If I have to stand right next to it, I take a firm stance as that little beggar sometimes tries to trip you. If it’s off a distance, I drop back to an at-ease position. …and I leave the last one out even though the proofreaders put it back in.

7. What is your book Dying to Know about and how did it come to fruition?

Summary: Why do some people with a life-threatening illness miraculously heal? Callie Morrow wants to know. Unwilling to undergo traditional medical treatment for cancer, she bets her life on finding another way. Within her eclectic group of friends, three come to her aid and point to possibilities: Dr. Josie Walker, a disenchanted internist; Mary Chang, a restaurateur and longtime student of Taoism; and Joe Kuptana, a world-class Intuit artist. Ancient philosophies mingle with new world science to create a unique vision around health, healing and well-being, one that a struggling, frightened yet determined Callie engages in her attempt to save her life.

The story came about when I too had to save myself.

8. What is your current writing project?

My current project is a novel entitled ACCIDENTS OF BIRTH. It relates the stories of two women, Imogene Ware and Katie Gayle Sutton. The protagonist, Miss Imogene, is an illiterate black housekeeper from a post-Civil War slave community south of the small rural town of Ellensburg, Mississippi where Katie lives. Miss Imogene’s mother, on her death bed, bequeaths to her daughter a legacy the Ware females have accepted for generations. Simply put, Miss Imogene is to love the world. The world into which she is placed to do this is as maid and nanny for the Sutton family through the 50s to modern times. Having giving her word to her mother, she must strive to be a living testament to love, through the horrors of the Sutton household, racism, poverty and the Vietnam War that claims her eldest son.

Katie Gayle Sutton is one of four very talented sisters, three of whom sing while Katie dances out of the womb, as Miss Imogene tells it. Destined to become a renowned ballerina, she is rejected by her fundamental Baptist mother and plagued by a sexually abusive father in a family rife with cruelty and narrow-mindedness. Thinking she has finally escaped with a scholarship to The Julliard School, her past catches up with her with a tragic result.

The two friends struggle with and for each other, as they work through their lives under the shadow of where they were born and who they were born to, in the turbulence and transitions of the last half of the twentieth century.

A quote from Miss Imogene referring to Katie’s abuse: “When you come from a long line of suffering, there be no way to kid youself bout its poison, how it get in the veins of families an from generation to generation be passed on like some dreadful disease. I think white folk oftimes can kid theyselves into thinking that such an act begin an end in juss one place. Or maybe they just be so fraid of what all that mean they can convince theyselves someun be true when they know deep down it ain’t. But when you come from a people who have suffered for generations, such lying to youself juss make things worse. For that poison can reach a point where there be no way to undo it, an then people die; even if they don be a lying down in they graves, they be dead to life, an love, beauty, an God. Yes, surely, they be dead.”

9. What books are you currently reading?

I just finished H.G. Well’s The Research Magnificent (Free!). I’m now reading God’s Secretaries by Adam Nicholson and Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune. I have difficulty finding contemporary fiction that interests me. And always, I am re-reading the Carlos Castaneda books and R.L. Wing’s translation of the Tao Te Ching, The Tao of Power.

10. What inspires your writing?

I am rather ignorant when it comes to fiction writers. For 40 years, I read almost exclusively non-fiction. I was in constant study to understand the nature of human existence, what I, in more recent times, have come to call Human Cosmology. So I have not been inspired by fellow fiction writers to much of an extent due to my lack of exposure to them. If any has helped me, it was Nevil Shute as he let me see how simple stories without pounding plots could still hold someone spellbound and engage their sympathies. He inspires simply by telling the truth.

So to answer your question, my life inspires my work for that’s about all I’ve got. But I have lived a very eclectic existence and finally can use all that diversity, that difficulty, that fear, that love, those crazy circumstances and the amazing people I met on the way, to tell my own stories about the mysteries of being human.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

Both SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN and DYING TO KNOW are available on Amazon Kindle books: http://tinyurl.com/83fd9fp

Thank you, Christina.

Be sure to purchase a copy of Christina's books on Amazon.

And follow Christina on Twitter: @CarsonCanada

If you're a writer/author/novelist and would like to be featured in an upcoming Author Spotlight, please contact me at AuthorRyanSchneider@gmail.com.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

10 Questions with Author and Travel Writer Ben Hatch (@BenHatch )

This Author Spotlight
author and Travel Writer

Ben Hatch
(below with daughter Phoebe and son Charlie).

Ben lives in Brighton, England with his wife and children.

Ben is also the author of the novels The Lawnmower Celebrity,

and the travel guides Frommer's England with your Family (with his wife, Dinah),

Frommer's Britain for Free (also with his wife, Dinah),

and Frommer's Scotland with your Family (also with his super-uber-talented wife, Dinah).

1. How did you get into writing?

I started off as a newspaper reporter on The Bucks Herald. I became a newspaper reporter imagining it was a natural entry into novel writing, having read too many blurbs in the back of 1960s Penguin classics. After ten years as a reporter covering fetes, cats stuck up trees and pictures of tall sunflowers, it became clear no editor was going to ring me up from Penguin and say, “Hey, fancy writing a comic novel for us in the same style as your page 3 picture caption about that giant marrow in Long Crendon?” I was 30, when my mum died. It sparked a crisis. I’d just covered my 4th annual scout jamboree and realized it was now or never. I wanted to do something my mum would have been proud of so I quit my job to write my first novel, The Lawnmower Celebrity. I slept on friends’ floors to save on rent, and I lived like a wild animal. It took me a year. My girlfriend (now wife) sent the book off to literary agents the day before I left the country to go backpacking. I didn’t want to be in the country when the rejections came in. Amazingly it was plucked from the slush pile by an agent at Curtis Brown six months after I’d given up all hope. I had only that week started applying for jobs on local papers, sending them all by tall sunflower clippings.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I love editing the best. When there’s 150,000 words down, I love tightening it up and improving things - making jokes sharper, scenes more poignant, adding and taking away. I hate starting a book. The knowledge that for a long time what you’re working on will be absolute crap. It’s nice also being able to work in pyjamas. I’ve spent a lot of my life in pyjamas and that’s a very good thing. Although I do miss company. It’s an anti-social job and I have spent time over the years staring forlornly out of the living room window at commuters with laptops, feeling jealous that they’re probably going to be talking to other people in offices all day. When the post comes in the morning I run for it like an excitable puppy. I sometimes stare after the Portman through the letterbox. It’s human interaction of a sort. I don’t say anything. I just stare after him. In my pyjamas.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I had a terrible experience on my third novel. For my first two novels I had no outline or word counts. I gave myself no targets. The only target was that I had to sit there all day in front of the screen until my girlfriend shouted, “Come off that now. NYPD Blue is starting.” It seemed to work. I got both books written. Then my third novel came along. It took me seven years to write it. It was a nightmare. I couldn’t stop rewriting, tweaking, removing commas, adding commas, changing commas to semi-colons, semi-colons to full colons and then back to semi-colons. I’d decided to write the book out of contract so I wouldn’t be rushed, so I’d have the time to make it perfect. But without a deadline the time just rolled on. I need pressure, it made me realise. I need a deadline. Now I plan meticulously. I don’t set a word count, but I know when I have to finish each chapter by and what it has to cover.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

It was JD Salinger who made me first want to be a writer. The Catcher in the Rye was unlike anything I’d ever read. So direct, cool and with such a seductively distinctive voice. I wanted to be Holden for years afterwards. I once went through a massive Graham Greene phase. I also love Evelyn Waugh, both the Amises. I’ll read anything by Michael Frayn and Dave Sedaris and I really admire the writing of Geoff Dyer. He writes in a way that makes you want him to be your friend. I’m a big fan of Mil Millington as well and Dan Rhodes.  

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

To be honest I don’t really give a monkeys. If I was writing it, I’d probably stick it inside for neatness. My wife, who initially edits my stuff, would more than likely then take it back outside the speech marks. I’d then sneak it in again after she sent the manuscript back to me. If she saw this she’d then probably yell at me, “Do you want me to do this for you or not? You’ll look a fool sticking inside. Do you want to look a fool? You want your writing pals to laugh at you? Is that what you want?” My wife is quite strict grammatically.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

My stance is relaxed although I quite often deliberately make their use inconsistent to give my wife apoplexy: “MAKE YOUR F**KING MIND UP! Call yourself a writer. You’re an idiot. You’re a fool. I should be the writer.” Actually I wonder if I have overplayed my wife’s strictness here. In fact I might get in trouble for this. Can you cut this answer out? 

Um, sure, we could do that.

7. What is your book about and how did it come to fruition?

My book is called Are We Nearly There Yet? 8000 Misguided Miles Round Britain in a Vauxhall Astra. It’s about a demented five-month road trip round Britain I went on with my wife and two kids (both under 4 at the time). Basically it came about because that book I mentioned before that took 7 years to write had just been rejected. I’d taken so long writing it everyone at my publisher’s had forgotten who I was when I submitted it. They’d sort of forgotten they were my publisher, had ceased to be my publisher in fact without really telling me. They were like, “Sorry what book. Er… what’s your name again?” After that disappointment rather than start on another seven-year odyssey, I’d ended up instead looking after the kids while my wife went back to work. It was a few years after this, the year before our daughter started school when my wife answered an advert looking for people to write a family guidebook about Britain. We had to write a guidebook about the various  child-friendly attractions in the country. It sounded easy. We thought we’d spent all day licking rocket lollies at zoos. In actual fact we had to visit over 1000 attractions and live off £10 a day. We slept in different hotel rooms every day for 140 consecutive nights. We were attacked by bats, snakes. We saw Billie Piper’s pyjamas, were almost blown up in a field of live ordnance. I had a kidney stone, we wrote the car off and my dad died en route. Are We Nearly There Yet? is a book about that experience. 

8. What’s your current writing project?

I’m finishing off a novel and also writing a follow up to Are We Nearly There Yet? We travelled 10,000 miles round France last summer. It’s about that basically. 

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?

The West Pier by Patrick Hamilton.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

Cheese consumption mainly. I used to smoke. Now I eat cheese. French cheese. Lots of it. On tiny thin biscuits. If I’m stuck for an idea I have cheese. Actually even if I’m not stuck for an idea I have cheese. I’m eating cheese right now in fact. 

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

Are We Nearly There Yet? is available in the states in the spring. In the UK it’s available in Waterstones, WH Smith and on Amazon.co.uk. It’s also on a kindle promotion at the moment priced at 99p. It made John Cleese laugh, Terry Wogan cry and was a BBC Radio 2 Pick of 2011.

Here’s the link (go on, you know you want to):
KINDLE EDITION: Are We Nearly There Yet?

Thank you, Ben. We often refer to a writer going on a journey during the writing of a book or novel, but in your case it is quite literal. Wow.

Grab a copy of Ben's book now. It made John Cleese laugh, and he's a professional funny man; he knows funny!

Also follow Ben on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/BenHatch

And check out his other books on Amazon: Amazon/Ben-Hatch.

Again, thank you, Ben for sharing your journey with us. Come back again when the book for the 10,000-mile trip around France is ready.

If you're a writer and would like to be featured in an Author Spotlight, contact me at AuthorRyanSchneider@gmail.com