Saturday, November 12, 2011

An open letter to my (our) Library...

Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss Librarian,

    You are witnessing the revolution in bookmaking from a unique perspective; you only collect. Neither promoting nor encouraging, your presence in our community is a testament that people still read. We all know the ways in which reading is changing, so I will not dwell on those facts. I care that you look once again to your obvious influence on the readers.
    However apart as you may be from the writers and the publishers, your very presence is a commanding judgment on the books themselves. Your guidelines for inclusion of a book should follow the revolution. At the moment you are ten years behind—at close to the same awareness as publishers.
    The community of outstanding authors has exploded. The availability of excellent reading material has bloomed beyond understanding. Self-published authors are finding readers, and it is happening 'no thanks' to publishers. It is also happening, 'no thanks' to libraries. While writers and readers remake the exchange of printed words, the two other Institutions of Text flounder without direction.
    Adding eBooks is only marginally interesting; much as adding recorded movies and music. It was a fine move, but superficial.
    You are missing out on print. You are not expanding to allow that precious experience for your readers—the choice to hold a book in their hands for a week of wonder.
    You are not drowning in the sea of print, as many are, because you have not embraced the revolution at all. I want you to come with us. There is only one, best way you can. Embrace your local authors.

    Every library in America already has a local authors section. I would assure you, it contains one tenth the number of books available to you. Book available at no cost, by the way. Authors would gladly give you a printed copy, if you would only open your arms and allow them to come rest on your shelves.
    I say this, because I sat in a corner of the library all spring, with my laptop open to my latest novel file. Right at the shelves of western classics, I saw people come browse every ten minutes on those shelves. Some of them walked away empty handed, others would strike a conversation and complain they had read everything in sight in that section.
    What a sad truth to hear. Readers...with nothing to read. And, I know authors in town who write westerns. Their books are not there to be chosen.

    This needn't be a longer discussion. Please open your shelves to every author with a printed book, who lives within an hour's drive of your wonderful building. Don't judge whether they have written well enough to be there among the classics. Let your readers do that, please.
    I've heard your patrons wishing they had that choice.

  Thank you,

  Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick,
  Father of five books.
  Two of which are good.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Crazy Cat Lady - or - Messing with kids and calling it Education...

Am I the only one who noticed this?

Sept. 1    Jen Knox on FB - I've got four new motherless kittens to give away. Anyone in San Antonio want a kitten? They are adorable.
Sept. 4     I've still got those six kittens....
Sept. 10   Yay! Found a home for one of the kittens. Seven to go.
Sept. 17   Gave away three of the adorable kittens to a great family. Anyone want one? Still have six left.
Sept. 20   Eight precious kittens looking for a good home in SA. Know anyone?

So...what? Jen is a wonderful person, is fabulous with animals. But, her husband is a math genius. I know someone in their house can count. What up then, with the wandering numbers... then I figured it all out.

Page five of the San Antonio Express News:
Neighbors are beginning to worry. Someone seems to be collecting kittens....

I've read Jen. Have you? Musical Chairs. Here's a link to my review.
Jen is a skillful writer. You believe what she tells you in those pages. I've known of her a bit more than a year and I swear to God, when I read her book I was sobbing, "I hope she's going to be alright...."
Hyper-real is an apropos description when discussing that book. You believe that you will read she died.

In other words, Jen could adopt out those kittens to the very same folks she 'borrowed' them from—and she probably is.
Let's go back to her book, Musical Chairs. It's not her only book. So if you've been craving another Jen Knox tome...there is another one, just released. To Begin Again. I wrote an entire feature on the point of Jen's renewed beginnings. She has several.

Then I remembered the cats.
Have you looked at the cover art for her first book? There are three cats on that montage. I swear. Evidence of a feline fixation, I tell ya.
(like that cover? So do I.) Oh, here's a link to her author page on FB.

Now that you know of two books...she has a lot more for you to discover. Jen is prolific. She has articles, poems, flashfiction and short stories published. They can be found in magazines, ezines, anthologies, textbooks. ? Oh, yeah. She's an educator. Jen's exquisite multiple beginnings have culminated in something akin to Nirvana. She writes, she gets published, she teaches writing. I crave such things, and she often says that she only stumbled into it all.

This is just one

The Chinese claim that cats are lucky. You do the math. Jen gets to see her words in print, and then gets to claim the awards those words have brought her.
Prolific, and Presented.

I have often argued that, given enough of a writer's words, we will know them utterly. Even if they write zombies, or Jen's personal pet-peeve, vampires. A writer is unable to keep themselves out of their writing; IMHO. Jen goes me one better. She has placed herself so completely in her own writing that you cannot find anything fictional about it. Even the poetry. Poetry, to some, is emotion expressed in alphabet.

Well, that's Jen. Even her story about a lingering love; re-sparked memories of a woman, given breath again by nothing more than dry entries in a notebook diary. Jen calls that a sad poem. I call it a sublime glimpse into Jen's mind. She reads her inner diary every day. She searches for the most meaningful lines, embraces them and then lives them again.

The cats? Don't you wish your own lazy hound had remained a puppy forever? Jen has found the secret to having kittens forever: borrow them, then give them away and borrow another.

She still has nine, still looking for good homes.

I wouldn't worry in the least about her influence on those college kids. They are in the company of a very sound mind.

Do your students call you Professor?
Yes, even though I tell them to call me Jen. Some students call me ma’am, which seems overly formal and makes me think those particular students can’t remember my name.

Describe one of your courses, and tell us why you chose that subject.
I teach creative writing. I make my student write something creative based on a prompt. Then, I tell them to do better (I’m a little more specific than this), even if they’re already great. When they begin writing better, getting more concrete and intense, telling more potent stories, I tell them to do even better. When they’ve done even better, I tell them to quit making me look bad. It’s a great gig.

Are you a Texan yet?
I don’t have the bumper sticker yet, no, but I do buy Texas-shaped cheese, and I like the smoky BBQ smell that’s everywhere.

“The em dash is what makes a 200 word sentence possible.” If that is an original thought of your own, I love you.
Thanks. I love the em dash. Some would think I love it to a fault. For the record, I’ve never written a 200 word sentence, nor will I, but I can’t imagine one existing without the em dash.

Name one literary classic you believe to be overrated.
I have to give kudos to any piece of writing that can stand the test of time. If a book bores me, it just means I’m not ready for it yet, or that it’s not what I’m into right now. I like to keep an open mind because what I read now is far different than what I read ten years ago. I’m sure this will be the same ten years from now.

I’ve heard that you’ve tossed story ideas aside, because they didn’t come alive for you. That implies you write a lot. Do you get to write as much as you like?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time to write. I have two jobs and quite a few other regular obligations. I can’t say I’ve ever tossed a story too far away, though I do leave them be when they’re not working. I don’t think everything everyone writes is good. And this is especially true for me. Sometimes ideas don’t take, and when this happens, I’ve learned to save my story and leave it be. Quality, liveliness, vigor: these should come before completion always, always, always. Wanting to finish everything just for a sense of completion often wastes everyone’s time (readers and the writer’s). I hope to get more time to write one day, but if not, I’ll keep writing in the meantime, the in-between time, and I can only hope I’ll stay humble enough to toss things to the sideline when they don’t work.

I read your poem Relapse. No one reading this needs to be told directly why it’s one of the most unique poems I’ve ever read. They should go find it themselves. What struck me was the support network you gave to Kathy; there are quite a few people reaching out to her. Did you know, it is almost exactly the number of concerned loved ones who supported you most in Musical Chairs? Relatives, friends, even a disconnected acquaintance offering assistance—they are all there.
Cool observation. Life is such a tapestry, but it takes a keen eye to see the patterns.

Define a writer.
A person who calls his/herself a writer.

Why not vampires?
I don’t have the skills to pull off a good vampire tale. Kudos to anyone who can.

I enjoyed your experiments with music and writing. What did you ultimately decide about tunes and your muse?
My muse likes total silence, and she gets moody when it’s not there. She admits to liking rap music, but it makes her want to write raps, and she’s no good at that. I really think my muse needs a therapist.

Where is Absurd Hunger?
It’s in the cloud (or should I say on the cloud?). I think I’ll publish it one day. I just don’t have enough emotional distance from the story yet. To be honest, I might just rewrite the whole thing. We’ll see. This is the freedom of not being under contract: I can always put out only my best work.

Is it the only writing you have attempted, from a man’s perspective?
Here’s one, here’s one (but be warned that it’s sad):   Ha! I knew perfectly well, you would take us back to that one.

Do you keep a journal or diary?
Not currently. But I’m a big advocate of others doing so.

(read this then look at the editor's words at the top again...he thought it felt real.  It was David; it was documentary.)

Have you kept anything from your childhood; anything you can pick up to hold, right now?
A Strawberry Shortcake doll is on my desk, staring at me right now. She’s not an intentional keepsake. It’s actually creepy the way she’s followed me around, and the way she still smells like strawberries. I’m thirty-two years old, which means she has to be about twenty, and still, she smells like strawberries!

Favorite food: Can you prepare it, or must you go out for it?
Caprese salad. I love fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. It’s such a simple but perfect salad. I suppose I could make it, but I would prefer to a good Greek restaurant.

What are you reading right now?
Ayiti by Roxane Gay. Good stuff.

I really like the video work on your book trailer. Who is KnoxworX? Why do I get the impression you are also an artist?
My father did my trailer. He’s a remarkable visual artist. I’ve often tried to follow in his footsteps, but visual art never quite works for me. It’s funny because that art gene is in every one of my family members.

What is your favorite type of story?
The sort of story that makes me cry or throw things or look in disbelief and reread immediately. I like realistic fiction, the stuff that feels more real than nonfiction, the stuff that screams and whispers at the same time.

Are you a finicky writer, hardly ever satisfied with your words?
I like a few pieces. At some point, I’ve liked every piece that I’ve put out in the world; but as I write more and my own standards get higher, I tend to reevaluate my older work and expect more from future work. But this is all part of the game.

Does your husband edit for you, or will you let him?

No. He’s not much of a reader. He’s a math guy, and I love him for it, or despite it. His equations give me migraines, and I’m pretty sure my literary ramblings do the same for him. I’m thankful for this, actually. It means that no matter how bad a story is, he’ll love me just the same. It also means I can write whatever I want about him and he’ll never bitch because he’ll never read it.

Complete this beginning:
The roses never bloom’d there, even as the season called them.
The author of a self-improvement bestseller stood over the area and declared the roses responsible for not believing in themselves; a religious leader stood there and said the roses were not there because they were not blessed; the roses across the street said that they could grow there because they were superior roses and what was planted there was a weaker type.
None of them saw the bud that appeared there a little late, none of them stuck around to know that the most remarkable roses grew there, off-season, nor that they were picked by a child who loved them, ran home with them, and offered them to his mother who had been having a particularly tough day.

Have you ever played a game of softball?
If so, I’ve blocked the experience from my consciousness.

Your book has just been praised, and you are stunned they had even found you. Who has praised your book?
Ellen Degeneres. Thanks, Ellen! No, no need to make a custom dance to accompany my book review. Well, if you insist.

Have you found contentment?
Yes! I find it quite often, and I’m grateful each and every time.

And with that...she becomes a philosophy professor....
Thank you, heaps and bunches, Jen.

Nearly all my guests have been friends, before I read them and called them into this corner. Jen was an acquaintance. (We know so many authors..don't we all?)
Musical Chairs made her a friend.
My review was raw truth—I read that book in six hours. It just stunned me that every word of it was a moment of this woman's life, and she wanted me to know those moments. Jen shared herself in ways that family sometimes cannot do. She has been praised as brilliant, brave, even demure...because the text is so bold and she merely presents it as something that happened to her, without grandstanding an instant of it. I hope her students read it and understand it for the example that it, and Jen Knox, truly is.

I hope you read it too.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Existing in a perpetual anecdote...

That guilt I have for not calling my mother? - I get that same guilt for not emailing one of my favorite authors,  Lisette "Molly" Brodey. She's going to have so much to say, she'll properly explode if I wait too long.

Researching authors is not usually necessary. By the time we arrive here together, we've interacted enough to make these conversations easy. But, I do ask around for some amusing stories about a guest, when I know there might be one lurking. Asking around about Lisette, I got eighty-three replies.
Such as,
"Did she tell you about the time she was stuck in the elevator with...?"
And this one,
"She didn't say anything about *** did she...?"
"What has she told you now?"
One of the quickest was,
"I don't care what she says, I wasn't there...!"
I'm giving you the wrong idea - aren't I ? Hehehe.  Here, this one sums it all up the very best; explains L.B. with these simple words,
"Why are you interviewing her? Everybody knows her already...!"

Lisette IS a story. She is page after page of amusement and delight. I will stop what I'm doing to read her emails. She probably thinks that I wait at my computer all day just to catch them. ( I do. ) So, what about that last response to my snooping...why interview her? Naturally - she's too interesting.

Lisette Brodey is interesting doing nothing. Some of you are nodding your heads.... So far, I've liked everything she's ever said. She's the type of person who you look for soon as you enter the room - "Is Lisette here yet?" She is one end of a streaming conversation, forever. No, I'm not describing a busy-body. No I'm not describing a scatter-brain. Lisette is a writer. She's writerly. It's exactly the kind of conversation you want to have - and look for....admit it. Not one ordinary word or moment.

Oh, come on! Really! I'm not being rude or mean...NONE of you have ever deleted a single Lisette Brodey email....
Have you. Hahahaaahaaa!

She blogs with an alternate personality, just to get it all said. Knowing that a single Ms. Brodey couldn't satisfy us, she created Molly Hacker. (Soon to appear in her own book, "Molly Hacker is too picky!") I believe that to be a brilliant bit of conversational skill. A fictional character with a blog; a substitute Lisette. Almost satisfying enough.Note that I said almost.

What would possibly go one better than spending a moment with Lisette, or Molly? How about reading one of her books when she's not available? There go those nodding heads again.....  Lisette is serious about every thought in her head. She is triple serious about every thought she writes down. Like I said - writerly. Haven't read her? Shame on you. You know something similar to her style of writing though. I hope you hear what I hear. You know already what Lisette sounds like on the page.
Where have you heard it?

"Twelve Angry Men"  "Grapes of Wrath"  "Gone With the Wind"  "Death of a Salesman"  "A Streetcar Named Desire"  "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"  "On The Waterfront"  "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf"

You've noticed the serious tone now, haven't you? Some of you had a ping in your head loud as an alarmclock. A few, "My god..."s were just whispered.

Conversations in text that remain with you, and you can hear them now - moments of speech so pure they must be spoken from a stage or by a commanding actor. Characters who are alive in the most writerly way possible. They call it "stealing the scene" or "commanding the stage". No one makes a sound during the character's dialogue. In Crooked Moon, Lisette calls one of hers Frankie; Mary Frances to her brother. That character can stand and command the audience as any in the above mentioned classics. Frankie is real as you breathe, every time you hear her speak.

There is a moment in "Twelve Angry Men"; a story that Henry Fonda loved so well, he bought it, and produced the movie himself. The character is Lee J. Cobb's Juror #3, and the scene concerns the knife; the angle of the stabbing that made the murder. Watch that scene again. Then again. Henry Fonda is clearly taken back by the force of the acting from Lee Cobb. You can hear it in his voice. Cobb was the character, so completely, it couldn't have been captured in another take. The great Hank Fonda was reduced to a man in a damp shirt.

Here is the link to my review of this perfect story.

That is how Lisette writes characters. And, it's no fluke that I'm implying the strong comparison to a few classic plays....

Time to have our conversation with her...

How on earth do you find time for all the stuff you do?
Wow, that’s news to me. I wish I did find the time. I work a ridiculous number of hours trying to get everything done. Seven days a week. I almost never accomplish everything on my list, but I always make my deadlines for the things that must be done. Time, such an elusive little rascal; I so wish there were more of it.

Tell us about Molly.
Molly Hacker is the main character in my upcoming novel, Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! Since February 2011 (Presidents’ Day to be exact), I began blogging as Molly so that readers might get to know my snarky, picky, lovably, chatalicious character prior to the publication of her book.

A thirty-two-year-old reporter in the town of Swansea (an elegant, old-money bedroom community of New York), Molly is on a quest to find Mister Right, juggling men and work, and fending off self-serving matchmaking efforts by the town’s most visible socialite, Naomi Hall Benchley, whom Molly refers to as the “she-devil.”

Every Monday, Molly blogs about life at Every Wednesday, she puts on her reporter’s hat and interviews her creative peers. Molly is a busy girl. Personally, I could never find the time to do all that she does.

Squalor, New Mexico is your second-published book, but your first bit of writing?
Squalor, New Mexico is my first novel, but definitely not my first bit of writing. And it has absolutely nothing to do with New Mexico; rather, it takes place in East Coast suburbia in the ’70s. It is a coming-of-age story shrouded in mystery and tells the story of a family and their secrets through the eyes of Darla McKendrick, beginning from the time she was nine through sixteen.

While it’s classified as a YA novel, I never wrote it to be. For those curious about why the book has such an odd title, here’s a little something I wrote explaining it:
In the writing of this book, it was very important to me not to side with Darla or with her parents. Readers have had very different opinions about my characters, and that’s just the way I intended it.

I see you everywhere online. Is there a strategy, which you apply, or did you just dive in?
I knew my mother should never have chosen Ubiquitous for my middle name. I was certain I’d pay the price later, and as you see, I have.
Really, Joel? You see me everywhere? I try to do as much networking as I can, but my time is more and more limited. Strategy? Let’s see. Well, I try to be as visible on Twitter as I can. When it’s possible, I make an appearance several times a day, but I don’t stay on for a long time. I like to meet as many people as I can and if I only tweet at the same day every day, I’ll miss getting to know some wonderful tweeps out there.
When time permits, I enjoy reading the blogs and writings of my fellow authors/writers and helping some very deserving people to promote their work.

I also check into Facebook every day, both my personal and author page, but again, I don’t always spend a lot of time there. So, I guess my strategy would be to simply make the rounds and say hello to as many people as possible in the limited time I have. There are some fabulous sites/forums I would love to be involved with, but my time is ridiculously limited, so I just do the best I can. If authors spend too much time promoting, there will be nothing new to promote.

What about New York do you love most?
The energy. The electricity. The colors. The people (most of them). The lights. Central Park. The eclectic and the eccentric. The photo ops. The inspiration. The passion. There is no city that I love as much as New York. I feel so alive when I am there.

You have something cooking – career wise – besides being a millionairess author. Can we know what it is yet?
My main goal is to be a successful author. There are other endeavors that I engage in to survive, but nothing earth shattering, not yet. I throw things up against the wall every day in hopes that something will stick. When something does stick, I’ll be sure to let you know.

I’ve heard that you sing while you write.
I don’t know who you’re paying for information, but you should demand a refund. Actually, when I’m writing, I have to have complete silence. I often act out what my characters are doing, so if they’re singing, then perhaps I might be, too. But it’s very rare.

I can go down a list of things I love about Crooked Moon. Top of the list is your characterizations. They are flawless. What do YOU love most about that story?
I’m very humbled by your kind praise. Truly. The characters in Crooked Moon are also what I like best about the book. I often feel as if I can’t take credit for them. As I’m sure is the case with many writers, during the writing, it often feels as if we are mere transcriptionists, eavesdropping on a conversation and quickly typing everything we hear—verbatim.

Okay, so once in a while I did go in and change a word or two, but the characters in Crooked Moon came to life by themselves. There are passages of short narrative in the book that I spent days writing. Once in a while, those passages would come to me magically, too, but never the way that the characters’ dialogue did. I love the characters because they are angry, scared, lonely, needy, confused, and loving. And they have secrets.

You finally have some time to write... do you have an outline that you visit? Do you read some of the previous bit of work? Have you been planning and plotting for a bit before you sit down. Are you picky about your space, your environment? OR, do you just go at it like a mad woman?
The first thing I do when I’m about to write is edit the previous day’s work to get me into the writing zone and into the story. There are exceptions. If I have a scene that is burning a hole in my brain, I can’t worry about editing yesterday’s work. All I want to do is get it down so I won’t lose the idea or the moment.

I like to know what I’m going to do when I sit down to write. That said, I love it when my story takes me to unexpected places, and characters give me the shock of my life. That’s so cool. But I do write each scene to advance either the plot or the character. If I don’t understand what I’m writing, I don’t expect my readers will, either.

The cleaner my writing space, the happier I am. My current desk is a lot bigger than the one I used to have, but still not big enough. But, yes, I will do a major clutter reduction before I prepare to write. In fact, just talking about this has given me a huge urge to clean my desk…NOW. Pardon me, I’ll be right back.

Ryne Pearson and I both were sad to see the kitty photo replaced. Was that a rented cat, or is it a Californian now, too?
Yes, I know that Ryne was especially despondent when I took down the photo on Twitter of my holding the cat to my cheek. In fact, previously, Ryne had blatantly called me “Cat cheeker!” on Twitter. Now the picture is just me. The good news is that my cat is right here by my side. She is a native Californian, unlike me, and for the record, I never rent cats.

You’ve said before, “…moving is really important.” Explain that.
I’m learning so much about myself from reading your questions. So, I’ve said, “Moving is really important,” have I? Well, I don’t remember *saying it, but moving IS important. Moving one’s body throughout the day and getting exercise is vital to one’s mental and physical health. Moving from a city or a home you weren’t crazy about to one you prefer is also important. Writing novels that are moving is really important if you want to stir emotions in your readers. Moving a cat off your desk (or your cheek) so you can get to your work is important if you want to be productive. Moving truly is important. How wise that was of me to say, indeed. :-P
*Link goes to L.M. Stull's blog.

True or False – your nails are painted perfectly at this moment.
They are painted, yes. Perfectly–absolutely not.

Have you ever been haunted?
I’ve been haunted by memories and regrets, but ghosts, I don’t think so. That said, I do know of people who have been, and I believe I may have had encounters. But an out-and-out haunting, no.

What was it like, growing up in Philadelphia?
Well, first of all, I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, not in the city itself, so that is a very different reality. It was a nice place to grow up because it had all of the elements that one would want in a hometown. And it was ninety miles from New York. I liked that a lot.

How often do you jot down notes for your stories?
Every day. I write down lines, phrases, funny thoughts, character names, and anything I think I might ever use. I go nowhere without paper and pen.

Name the one book, which completely melted you emotionally.
There are so many books that I have absolutely loved, but nothing comes to mind that melted me emotionally. Not recently. I sobbed for forty-five minutes, unexpectedly, after seeing the film Life is Beautiful.

Before you published your first novel, you had actually been a playwright. Was that a job, or did you have dreams of that success? Those influences are suffused throughout Crooked Moon, and you deserve praise for that text.
It was such a different world back then. I wasn’t really a playwright. I thought I might want to be one. I had one play that I spent years sending to theaters all over the country with no luck. This particular play began as a short story that I wrote at age seventeen. I never finished the story, but I turned it into a one-act play eight years later. I then gave the play to the director of Temple University’s theater. (This was MANY years ago!) He loved the characters and really “got” them, but said the play needed to be a two-act. He was right.

So I turned it in to a two-act play, but he never found time to read it. The characters are strong, quirky people with flaws and secrets, and I’m going to novelize the play and turn it into my fourth novel. I’m in the midst of expanding the story and am very excited to begin writing this soon.

In collaboration with two others, I wrote the book for a full-length musical comedy. I also wrote four screenplays but never did anything with them.

What is your favorite play?
I love Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill, and I really love a lot of musicals. Fiddler on the Roof really touches me, and I’ve seen it on stage five times, including once with Zero Mostel. And I had orchestra seats. I love Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, too.

Shakespeare or Stephen King?
Eugene O’Neill and Neil Simon. Charles Dickens and Thomas Wolfe.

Should new authors query to agents now, or should they go directly to self-publishing?
This is an extremely personal decision. I don’t think there is any one answer. The good news is that for writers who want to query agents, it can be done and over with SO much more quickly than it used to be — in most cases. I remember the days when I often had to print fifty pages (or the entire manuscript) of my novel, print out every letter, pay for postage to each agent, and then pay for the postage on the return envelope. This was extraordinarily time consuming and expensive.

Now, authors can be rejected much more quickly. Seriously, though, because the process is far more streamlined with email submissions, an author can always try his or her luck with agents and, if that doesn’t prove successful, make the decision to self-publish without wasting years in the process. As I write this interview, I saw an article today that said that one in six Americans own an eReader. I remember just a few years ago when I knew ONE person with a Kindle. The changes in that area are staggering. The world of publishing is changing and evolving.

I would just advise each author to do his or her homework, study the options, and make the decision that feels best for him or her.

I’m giving you a fantasy trip – expenses paid – anywhere in the world. Where are you going?
That all depends on who is going with me. I’m tired. I think I would go to some place incredibly beautiful where I could relax. Peru, Fiji, Tahiti. Oh, it’s hard to choose, especially because I really love the hustle and bustle of cities, too. And if I don’t say Melbourne, Australia, my friends Lisa and Ross will be really hurt. So let me add that city to the list.

In Hamlet, the prince takes a simple prop and makes a whole man of it. “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio…” In Crooked Moon, you took a simple house, and filled it with Aunt Emily. We never meet her, but she is real as Yorick. Does that surprise you? hear a reader was touched in that way?
Yes, it does. I am so touched by the compliment that it’s almost hard for me to believe. I had a very good sense of Callie’s aunt Emily and wanted her spirit to shine through, but it never occurred to me that a reader would notice her in that way. Thank you. That is truly praise supreme, and coming from such a gorgeous writer as yourself, even more special.

Who is leading you now, Lisette Brodey, or Molly Hacker? What comes next?
Molly is leading at the moment, but I’m going to be passing her soon. As soon as her book is published, I’ll not only be writing novel #4 that I spoke about, but I’ll be knee deep in other projects as well.

Give me an answer, and I’ll write the question….
No one was more astonished than I was when I made the decision. I remember the day clearly. At 8:30 a.m., the sky opened up, and a torrential rain fell on the city. I had been mulling over my decision for months, and now there was an obscene amount of rain falling, and I was still clueless about what to do. I remember turning on the radio on my way to the appointment, and the first song I heard was “Cry Me a River,” by Barbra Streisand. I really thought the cosmos was playing a trick on me, teasing me, but somehow, the raw emotion in that song helped me to come to my decision, shocking myself and everyone involved. I wish I had a more definitive answer for you, Joel, but that’s how it all went down.
Question is: Which City has the best pizza: New York City, or Hollywood?

Thanks so much for having me. You’ve been a gracious and patient host. I really enjoyed doing this interview.

Thank you, Lisette. We seem to share the race to get the most done in the least time possible. You might be winning.

Pick one of Lisette's books, folks, and get to know this lady. She will amaze and entertain you.
Watch for her novel, Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! this fall. If you strike up a conversation with her, and she tells you what her fourth novel is about...drop me a note. I'm dying to know.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

BestsellerBound is 1 year old!...

You can do a lot of damage by writing a book and tossing it out for the world to consume. Think of all the people you will bother by doing it...

Rather, think of all the fun you will have when lots of other people help out; Tweeting, and Facebooking, and interviewing, and sharing and reading and Kindleboarding and tagging and reviewing and laughing and all that other stuff you really won't have the least amount of time to do....

Courtesy of Jaleta Clegg is 1 year old! To celebrate, we have given away a ton of stuff. Being one year old now is a small marvel. (lots of startup forums die on the web somewhat quickly. That's sad...) Anyway! There is a group of authors and readers at BsB, who are just silly enough to get involved in your efforts, whatever they are.  Some of us won't have the common sense to stay out of it, in fact. We are shameless.

What do we like best? Readers. (readers are a who, not a what.) Writers who read. Writers who have questions. Writers with a sense of humor, and even some grumpy ones, like long as they continue to Tweet.

You don't really want to be doing this alone? you? People will think you are anti-social....

Don't ask what is, you already know. Ask what it does.......

 1. Allows self-promotion.
 2. Allows sharing - for any reason.
 3. Allows people like me to join. :)
 4. Allows anyone to suggest anything that might help sell books.
 5. Bands together to beat the Holy Crap out of poor reviewers.
     (Not really...but we might write some nasty stories about them.)
 6. Write some really nasty stories about poor reviewers.
 1. Throws you kicking and screaming into self-promotion. (That suddenly hit me as a new No. 1)
 7. Cry, when you are feeling blue.
 8. Put your stuff into books sometimes, and offer them all over the world for free.
 9. Shares stories about pets - but they have a special section for those posts, to keep the other ones clean and fresh smelling.
10. Scoff at any suggestion that none of us know a thing about what we are doing, because we are going to learn, dammit.
11. Did I say "Allow self-promotion"?
12. Blog. We blog like mad.
13. Fix stuff that's broken... book tech support. Some of us are good at that sort of thing, because we are always breaking things...
14. Defend self-publishing, with pitchforks... That's my idea :) is more than a forum, though it began as a place where Darcia, Stacy and Maria could play and be queens of the sandbox. Now, BsB has a massive group on Goodreads - a Facebook page for the free anthologies - a Twitter presence - a channel on YouTube for book trailers - BsB has won web awards ...

What has it been like, being a member there?

What will it be like, being a member there?

Who's already there? (You've been wondering, right?)
Deep breath -  -  -

Darcia Helle, Stacy Juba, Maria Savva, Jason C. McIntyre, Mark Paul Jacobs, Al Boudreau, Heather Paye, Jaleta Clegg, Jenny Hilborne, Charlie Courtland, Susan Helene Gottfried, Jen Knox, Magnolia Belle, J. Michael Radcliffe - these are five star masters, folks... Danielle Bourdon, Ami Blackwelder, Amy Saunders, Alexander M. Zoltai, Saffina Desforges, Anjuelle FloydAnn Mauren, Pavarti Devi, Anne Whitfield, Dan Schwartz, Cliff Ball,  Dan L. Hays, Sibel Hodge, Debra L. Martin, Doug DePewGail M. Baugniet, Gareth Lewis, Heather Hildenbrand, Paul Mansfield Keefe, J. Guevara, J.T. CumminsJaime McDougall, James EveringtonSandra MacKay, Jemima Valentino, Stephen Goldin, Jennifer Swan, Jerry Schwartz, Jess C. Scott, Valerie J. Long - big list, huh? Julie Elizabeth PowellKate M. George, Kelli Sue Landon, Keta DiabloKristie Cook, KT Banks, Lainey BancroftMalika Bourne, Margaret Duarte, Markee Anderson, Mark McKenna, Marty Beaudet, Cynthia Meyers-Hanson, Michael Scott Miller, Monica Brinkman, Neil Schiller, Nurture Your Books, P.I BarringtonRaven Corinn Carluk, R.J. McDonnell, Ryne Douglas Pearson, Jennifer Lane, S.C. Pennington, Valerie Maarten,  Simon Royle, Jinx SchwartzSharon E. Cathcart, Shaun JeffreyChristopher C. PayneShelley StoutSteven SymesStuart JaffeSue Ann Bowling, Susan Schreyer, Tom Gahan, William T. PrinceTy Johnston, Lynne Stevie, Valerie J. Long, Valerie Ormond, Belinda Kroll, Will Granger, J.W. Coffey I know I've missed someone, but will put their name in if they call me on it....

That is just a smattering, believe me. (And, I bet those folks haven't been called a smatter all week.)
At the least, its a good group of those I could snatch links for easily... BestsellerBound has 461 members, some who've been at this for years and sell thousands of books; who have been downloaded tens of thousands of times. Mr. McIntyre has reached the milestone of more than a hundred thousand downloads... We are a family of writers who design covers; who edit - professionally and for bizarre fun; who blog and interview; who review. Some of us have only one book in print, others have impressive catalogs of work available. One of our members - Mr. Pearson - has even had two books made into movies... We have IT gurus in our midst, eBook formatting experts...and chefs; short story writers, and a few who don't seem able to type the words The End....even one old curmudgeon who works in traditional publishing, if you can imagine that! (Two, actually, but the other one is a sweetheart.)  BestsellerBound also has members who are highly respected bloggers, who have organized their own online communities and web shows for Indie  book promotion.

Here is the point - I always leave that for the bottom - BestsellerBound is a family of authors and readers who love books. We love working with them, talking about them, sharing them. In the vast expanse of the World Wide Web, there are not many places who just say, "Come join us. Now, what would you like to do?" Conversely, there are plenty of places asking for your money first, then they make some attempt to like you.
Not so, that crap, at I found them early in their first weeks, and fell in love instantly.   You will too.

Here are links to the BestsellerBound products - always free to read or download:

Here are links to other blogs about this anniversary:


Here is the list of prizes: (Giveaway is closed. Winners have been notified. )

 1. 1 coupon code for a free ebook copy of The Dream by Maria Savva from Smashwords.
 2. 1 coupon code from Smashwords for free ebook copy of any one title by Darcia Helle.
 3. 1 coupon code for The Choice by Sydney S. Song from Smashwords.
 4. 1 coupon code from Smashwords for free ebook copy of Echo Falls by Jaime McDougall.
 5. 1 coupon code from Smashwords for free ebook copy of any one title by Gareth Lewis.
 6. 1 coupon code from Smashwords for free ebook copy of The Other Room by James Everington
 7. 1 coupon code from Smashwords for free ebook copy of any one title by Susan Helene Gottfried
 8. 1 coupon code from Smashwords for free ebook copy of Nexus Point by Jaleta Clegg
 9. 1 coupon code from Smashwords for a free eBook copy of 2010 Hindsight: A Year of Personal Growth, In Spite of Myself by Sharon E. Cathcart
10. 1 coupon code from Smashwords for a free eBook copy of Caraliza and also Breathing into Stone by Joel Kirkpatrick (That's me!)
11. 1 free hardbound, signed copy of Joel’s secret 5th novel, shipped the week it is released.
12. 1 coupon code for a free ebook copy of Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba.

Please come join us for all the fun there. We would love to get to know you, learn more about what you write. wants you to reach your dream, and be read by someone who never knew you had written a book. That's like getting a hug from Mama. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where waters laugh, and clouds dance...

Tessa Apa lives in a fairytale land. I have a good friend who has been abducted by aliens a few times and I’m not talking about anything he has vividly described.
Aotearoa:  Tessa lives where waters laugh and clouds dance; mountains speak to one another and move of their own accord. The more beautifully men will paint their faces - the more terrifying they become, and women there have inspired five hundred years of mermaid tales. I have been dreaming of that place my whole life.

Imagine how wonderful her dreams might be, living in a place such as Tessa’s home! Well, you might be able to imagine it. There aren't many places you can travel which are very much like it. Could you go there, you would notice a few important details right away.

Isolation. Lack of hot dogs.

I'm serious. Tessa has never enjoyed one of these. They would call it a bun kuri, or a coated kuri anyway - not conducive to getting the order right. But...imagine. Being without those!

Back in the 1700s (a jolly time to be alive...) A famous delivery service popped over to her island and brought a lot of new things. No dogs though, or not the coated kuris anyway. And the guy's name was Cook. Bit of a letdown for them, I can tell you.

He left there with a pretty well rounded imagination though. The place has been described as magical, bewitching, beautiful, bountiful, ever since. Nice advertising. Now if only someone would invent a way, besides a full-rigged ship, to get over there.

So, where is this place? I'm ashamed if you haven't figured it out.
Not really. I'm enjoying the riddle. (it's so danged easy!)

What isolates it? Water. That does a good job.
Men standing on the shore with spears....that's effective, but only used right after Cook left.....

You would be surprised how Tessa's beautiful home can be difficult to reach, and reach out from. We will get into that in just a few more paragraphs. First - her book.

She found me, while reaching out across the waves, and asked would I be so kind as to read her book. Homai o homai.  I obviously was wise enough to jump at the chance. We had a very surprising connection already. I was predisposed to squeal with delight actually. Tessa lived in that place I'd recently been dreaming....

You would imagine that her book would be, "Neener, neener! Look where I live..." but, it isn't. I would have been pleased at any rate. However, she writes a bit apart from the real estate, and goes right to the heart of the dream with her text...

Everything there is wairua (spirit) filled.

Cook didn't find an empty place. (Any more than Columbus did...) He found a culture, very old, connected to every moment of life. They are well connected to most of the experience after life, actually, but Cook found that part odd. I happen to love it. Gateway to Celesta spoke to me, though I'm quite old and it is a Young Adult novel, because Tessa knows things I've wondered my whole life. She knows them with certainty. What a remarkable key that single word can be. Gateway to Celesta embraces the concept of 'beyond what we experience and know'. An important dimension for kids while they are growing and learning. Tessa wanted to impress her certainty upon her own children, so began telling them stories. It lead, ultimately, to her book. Here is my happy review. Go directly to her book listing here, and here.

There is much more to Tessa than this one book, as there is more to her island home than the beauty of sand and waves. When she has time, and is not writing, she creates photographic art. Her modeling days have been passed down to her daughter, and Tessa looks for any peaceful moment she can find amid the rush. But, she's frazzled in such a beautiful place!  This is a beginning point, for you now. This is the point of discovery. Here, we connect and you should not sail away. Stay please, in this warmth, and hear a wonderful tale... Haere mai...welcome.

Oh! She's been waiting for me to hush....

Tell me all about your book, in 8,000 words or less.
Do you know an agent once asked me to describe my book in ONE sentence. I tried really hard to impress her but it was a long long long sentence!   Gateway to Celesta is essentially about the power of thought and its ability to control our lives. It is also about the eternal balance between good and evil. It's for young adult readers although I have to admit a lot of the feedback and emails I get are not from young adults. It also explores the fact that sometimes the truth can be so simple, we just can't believe in it.

Do you live on Te Ika-a-Maui or Te Wai Pounamu?... or do you prefer to say Aotearoa?
That made me laugh I prefer Aotearoa. I live in One Tree Hill, U2 wrote a song about it.

Which of your characters are YOU most like?
That’s a hard question! I don’t know if I can answer it……But if I had to pick I'd say Frankie.

You have admitted beginning to write for your children. Were you a storyteller for them, first?
Absolutely - especially when they were little. They seemed to prefer made up stories because I could always throw them (and the dog) into it. They loved that. The only problem was they never wanted the story to end so it was hard getting them to go to sleep.

I can’t help picturing you on a sandy beach, in a great shady hat, writing in a massive notebook. Where do you write?
You are joking right? Umm let's see, in the car outside piano lessons, in the car outside guitar lessons, in the car at netball practice. You get the idea? It is incredibly hard for me to find the time and space to write as I need silence. When you have a big family, silence is elusive. I find early mornings the best, but only if I have had an early night. It's hard to be creative and let it flow when you're half asleep.

What is Celesta?
Celesta is a spiritual dimension that exists alongside us. I say spiritual because it's not bound by any of the rules we have on earth. It is home to every thought that any person has ever had.

You described something in your book that was utterly new to me. You told me that every human thought continues to exist, and can influence us again. It is an amazing idea. What sparked that notion?
Have you ever an idea pop into your head from nowhere? Just BAM! And you're struck with this new way of looking at something? Well that's where it started. Where did that come from? Why do I keep on thinking that? Why can't I shake that thought? It also works in a negative way. When we just can't shake a bad vibe or recurring negative thought that drags us down. I began thinking about that concept and wondered if maybe thoughts had a life of their own. I wondered if they could, at times, be coming from outside of our selves. And having considered that, I then decided we could control them too.

Gateway to Celesta is your first book. What else have you written?
Only short stories. I LOVE short stories. Probably because it's so much easier to embrace when you are a busy person.

Why did your first book take five years to write?
You don’t really need to ask that now do you? Constant distractions and derailing. The idea was fully formed very early on. I just found it really hard to knuckle down and do the work.

Do you go sailing?
No and not likely too.

I like your character, Peter. He really has to confront some unexpected opposites. However, you don’t remake him. Was Peter difficult to write?
Yes I like Peter too. He's more interesting to me than the others. Peter was easy to write, for some reason I can feel his darkness and almost relate to his constant dilemma. I'm really looking forward to spending time with Peter as I write the sequel

Who is the best storyteller in your family?

Do you love puzzles? What are your favorite types?
Yes I do! I love word games, you know those ones where you get 5 letters and you have to make as many words as you can in two minutes. And Solitaire (with cards not on the screen) is a favourite too - that's a puzzle right?

Most people think of your homeland as unbelievably isolated. I bet you don’t think that at all. But, has New Zealand isolated you as an author? What extra problems do you have to overcome?
Yes we still wear grass skirts here and the shops close on Sundays. Aotearoa is very difficult country to be a new author. We only have five literary agents here and unless you write NZ-themed fiction, or Rugby biographies they won't even read your synopsis. And as a Kiwi, if you reach out to other countries, they don't really want to deal with someone overseas. So it’s a real dilemma. I did consider adding a Kiwi spin on the book but it would have been fake so I didn’t bother. It is loosely based in the Waikato, but unless you know the area you wouldn’t pick it up. You really should get 'Shared' down here pronto!

You certainly should have readers from all over the world now. Which country popped up as a complete surprise to you?
I actually get surprised when someone from New Zealand buys one. Considering we don’t really have many people reading electronic books here, it always surprises me because I thought the USA would be my only market.

Tell us what it is like in your house when you are writing.
I don’t write at home unless everyone else is out. So it's quiet and usually my dog is with me (she's allowed to stay). I like to be really comfy and usually write longhand in a journal.

Name a favorite book you have read, that you are positive I have never heard about.
The 10pm Question by Kate De Goldi

Where is your favorite place in all of New Zealand.
Pakiri Beach. Don't get me started.

There was one element in Gateway to Celesta which was exceeding dark and disturbing to me. Did you argue with yourself about including that, or did it seem perfectly natural and proper?
Hmmmm….which bit is that I wonder? Peter's dream? The dog? I didn’t argue about it because it had to be written.  (I won't divulge any did a perfect job of answering. )

You began writing, for your children. Have you any desire to write another type of book?
Yes I am drafting a non-fiction book as well. It's called 'Breadcrumbs on a Path to Heaven'. I have no idea when it will be finished.

What do you read for fun?
I read anything but non-fiction history.

On which side of the road do Kiwis drive?
The left ofcourse - But remember our cars are right hand drive.

Who was the first person to tell you, “You should write a book!”
I told myself. I didn’t even tell anyone I was writing it until I was well into it.

Who was the first person to read your book?
My daughter Arieta.

Angels appear in some manner, in every story I’ve written. It took your short story, actually, to explain them to me. What inspired The Girl Who Played Chess With An Angel? One of the themes within it nearly broke my heart. Is it purely fiction?
I am developing that story actually and have just had my cover art done. It started off with the working title 'Certainty' and grew from there. I believe Angels are real, I believe demons (tipua) are too. Most of what I write starts with something that I have observed or experienced and The Girl Who Played Chess With An Angel is no different. I am deeply interested in perception and how it has the ability to mold and control our lives. I wanted this story to be told by someone who was open to perceiving life and all its twists and turns with as few pre-conceived ideas as possible. Obviously we all have our own spin, but is it right? Could it be warped? Could we actually be wrong and how open are we to considering a new possibility? My Angels have no personal spin, they can see things as they are without the embellishment that humans seem to give everything.

What is your next project?
I will have The Girl Who Played Chess with an Angel finished this year and up on Amazon. Then I will start the sequel to Gateway to Celesta. I have my plan all done and I'm hoping 2012 will bring a bit more silence so I can finish it in record time.

Kia ora, Tessa.... I have enjoyed this, so much.


I've been saying, for a good while, that 'Down under' is a vast, opening market. People have heard me complain that Kindle is not global; that we should stop believing it is. Here is a resident, telling us that we need to bridge this water. We need to make connections there, because retailers are not on the ball. It is unfortunate when any author has to struggle to be read, and such a pleasure to share them when we can. Sharing is why we are here.

Kore rawa e rawaka te reo kotahi. One language is never enough.

So, what thrilled me so much, connecting to an author from New Zealand? Oh, come on! You haven't figured me out yet?! She's beautiful! Tessa had a wonderful story in her heart, and it was important enough to share. She said only please, and perhaps had no idea the gift she was offering me. I tried writing about her stunning homeland and needed someone to tell me that I got it all wrong

Connect to Tessa Apa at these links. Bridge across your own isolation.
Tessa on Twitter

Connect to the New Zealand Book Council here, and learn how you can help spread their written words.

Sunday, August 7, 2011 promoting Indie authors...again! is vying to be something extraordinary for independent authors. It is not content to be a forum only. There is too strong a foundation of self-publishing at its core. And self-publishing cannot lie still. Books must be written, we all know that; they must also be moved. Books had once liked sitting on shelves, waiting for readers. Now they want to ride with them - in their pockets.

For members of her joint-venture website, Darcia Helle, has collected and edited this special short story edition of independent works. Some of these authors have appeared for interviews on this blog. (see the archives) Darcia wants those authors read. She believes they all deserve that.

That is why BestsellerBound exists. Not to merely talk of books, but to fling them out to be read.

Available FREE to the public, the sole purpose of this anthology, and the earlier released Anthology Vol. 1, is to put outstanding authors in the hands of readers. With online marketing becoming a major chore for anyone, Indie authors are rarely blessed with help such as this. BestsellerBound is continuing on its very new trail in the land of self-publishing. A generous, welcome trail.

Here is the list of featured authors:

What Was Lost, by  James Sophi
The Art of Breathing, by Jaime McDougall 
Soul Windows, by Jaleta Clegg
I Didn't Know His Name, by Darcia Helle
Red Route, by James Everington
Make a Wish, by Susan Helene Gottfried
The Last Chance Motel and Mausoleum, by Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick
Isolation, by Maria Savva
Beyond The Green Hills, by Tom Gahan
From Joy We Come, Unto Joy We Return, by Ami Blackwelder

To download the eBook in a variety of formats, please see here: (courtesy of Darcia Helle)

You can also add this anthology to your reading list on Goodreads, please see here:

As always, your opinion and review will be most welcome at both Smashwords and Goodreads.

All of the offerings can be found together at this download link:


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yellow zone is for taxis; White zone is for Dragons...

Beginning his writing career between landing planes at the world's busiest airport, air-traffic controller J. Michael Radcliffe took nearly eight years to write his first novel. Land a plane, write a sentence; land a plane, write a sentence; land a dragon, write a sentence. I talked with one of his co-controllers who said, "Michael never seemed to feel the stress of guiding the planes. But, he could have saved a lot of time just bringing his laptop to the tower. The man kept jumping into a portal to get back to his study in Kentucky, and would scream a few words to his ghost-writer and then pop back. A few times he would barely put his head through, dictate his story bit; half of him hanging out of that weird swirl of light..."

Some writers just have the strangest methods...
Imagine, writing in complete darkness, but for the glow in the eyes of four cats. Or less plausible, grinding up newspapers in a whirlwind, to snatch pieces one by one from the maelstrom, for each word in the next sentence. Wizard Radcliffe (@Alderdrache which means Elder Dragon ) loves to experiment. I've been told he now trains ravens to type. (They get much more done, in the hour they are allowed in human form, but he hates to waste the other 23 hours with them idle.) My own fingers have erased a third of the keys on my laptop - I can't imagine what they look like after a flock of beaks.) Their favorite word?  Marmalade.

And you thought I would use Nevermore..... Ha!

Well, you are in for some surprises, reading Mr. Radcliffe's superb tome
The Guardian's Apprentice. I found it to be wonderfully inventive, and he created some surprises for even me. Here is the link to my review.

When a rich subject is approached by so many writers - and this magical realm has seen exposure since the Bible was first published - common themes surface. These writers have familiars, just as witches and wizards. Mr. Racliffe's familiar seems to be a Dragon. Actually, they also seem to be the backbone of his story. As some of the most ancient creatures in either world, the mundane or the magical, they certainly should have an important role. They have seen it all. Some of the darker things...they even like.

This is still not a saturated genre, regardless of what you might think, and readers are mad for it. Michael seems nowhere near running out of his own ideas. He's already produced short stories from the results of his first novel. Gathered together in anthology form, they are available separately as well. The collection is titled aptly Beyond the Veil Anthology: The World of The Guardian's Apprentice  Within its pages you will meet many of the creatures who dwell in Michael's world - some of them are quite nasty!

You can also read much more on his excellent blog here.

I invited Master Radcliffe to appear for an interview and he consented. The reason that I had to sit with my hand in green fire the whole time...that escapes me...

How many Dragon eggs have you hatched?
Ha! Can’t say I’ve actually hatched one yet, but they do make an omelet that feeds 15…
I love your story about Idris, your newly acquired desk sculpture. I had a lunchbox once that spoke to me the same way.
Finally! Somebody that understands!! (my kids just gave me the ‘look’…)

Nearly all writers can recall a single book, which ‘flipped that switch’ in their imagination. Which one was yours?
Wow, now that’s a tough question. When I was a socially inept teenager, books were my friends. Everything from Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars series. I readily devoured every piece of fantasy, science fiction and mystery I could get my hands on. The original Sherlock Holmes stories remain among my favorites today, as well as James Clavell’s Noble House. If I had to choose just one book however, I would have to say the book that first flipped the switch was The Hobbit

Beyond the Veil Anthology, did you create those stories after Guardian’s Apprentice, or were they originally part of that project?
The short stories came about because my over-active imagination created more details and background than I could work into the novel. I keep a separate Word file with plot ideas, characters and creatures that I have continued to add to since publishing Guardian. Last Christmas we were on vacation in Florida and I was suddenly struck with an idea that became Tears for Hesh (shown below) – my first short. It was as if the words came in a flood out of nowhere and I couldn’t get them on paper (well, pixels, anyway) quickly enough.  Forsaken remains my favorite though – it tells the story of Nisha and how sometimes things aren’t always black and white.
Don't forget Scale of a Dragon (shown below)

What drew you into the magical world when you began to write?
I absolutely love world building. That’s the nice thing about Fantasy and Sci-Fi – you can create your own world. The rules of your universe still have to make sense however – unlimited magic or power can't make your main character undefeatable – but you still create the system you want. The poor characters in my stories have learned that if I’ve had a bad day, one or more of them is in for a rough chapter.  meus universitas , meus sceptrum  (my world, my rules!)

Writing became a safe place for you suddenly, and then a release?
Absolutely! I started writing in 2002 as a way to cope with stress. I lost a parent and a grandparent that year, and my then three year old had major surgery, and then I was downsized (I call it ‘the year that must not be named’…). Writing provided a creative outlet that helped burn off the emotions. It became a safe refuge when I needed it.

You hinted at the Red Order, and their frightening power, in your first book. Do they become the focus of book two?
Wise you are, Master Kirkpatrick (sorry – channeling my inner Yoda). The Red Order, and particularly their leader, are spellcasters you don’t trifle with. Death is bad enough, but a wizard or witch in red robes will do worse – they will try to ensnare and steal your soul. They will bind your very essence with the pure evil of the Shadow, thereby not only destroying your body, but keeping your spirit in eternal torment.
In Bloodstone – The Guardian’s Curse (due sometime soon)  you will get to meet the real power behind this group. Sava, Stealer of Souls, is a powerful necromancer seeking to control both the Earth and its magical twin.
I’d be remiss if I did not thank author Maria Savva, who kindly consented to my using a variation of her name – though I should point out that Maria is most certainly NOT evil! She just has a wonderful last name!

How long had you worked on your first book? I’d read that it was nearly eight years?
Yes, seven years, seven months and ten days (give or take).

What took so long? Did you rewrite very much of the story?
As I mentioned above, I started the story when I was downsized. The company I was with at the time was actually kind enough to give me two months notice. They knew I had no work to do but said they’d pay me through the end of the year and let me use my office for job hunting. I sketched out quite a bit of the story within the first six months, during down time between interviews, but then got busy with my new job. Procrastination was also my enemy – I would sometimes go for six months or more without writing a single word [hangs head in shame].
The story now is a different incarnation of the first idea I had, and it went through at least two significant rewrites. When originally done, I had about 32,000 words, compared to 71,000 now. I also joined a writing group called ‘’ where authors critique each other’s work – I strongly recommend this to any writer – I can’t tell you how helpful this was.
At this point I really must give credit to my sister however. She is a fellow author, published under the name Maeve Greyson, and writes paranormal romance novels. She encouraged me to keep at it. After she read the first draft she encouraged, threatened, cajoled and outright nagged me until I published it. She believed in my work when no one else did – and for that I can’t thank her enough.

Did you have a character in Guardian’s Apprentice who surprised you completely?
I have to admit, the villain really surprised me. I can’t say much more without a spoiler warning, but since you’ve read the book you’ll understand. Let’s just say the villain ended up being completely different than I thought he/she would.

Where are your books being read outside the U.S.?
According to my sales reports I’ve sold books in Canada and the U.K., though I must admit the biggest surprise was the number of sales in Australia. I’ve also noticed a fair number of visits to my website from those same countries.

What is your day job? I’ve heard you train horses?
Now that’s funny! Anyone that knows me will double over laughing when they picture me working with large animals. I can’t even get my cats to do as they are instructed!
My day job is the polar opposite of my writing persona. I’m the Compliance Officer for a community bank, which means I’m sort of an internal auditor. I specialize in reading and interpreting the various federal regulations and train our team members to ensure we abide by the law.
By day I have to be buttoned-down, serious and by-the-book, but in the evenings I can unleash my inner demons when I write.

Have you had any more visits from Evil Dr. Pork Chop?
Alas, the international pig of mystery has not returned. While I suspect she may have developed stealth technology that allows her to rummage about unseen, I consider it just as likely that Cocoa (a.k.a. The Evil One) caught and ate her.

Will any of your cats admit to being wizards, only allowed human form for a single hour each day?
Cats, like dragons, are loathe to give up their secrets. Plus I really don’t want to see Cocoa’s human form – she’s frightening enough as a cat!

Please describe how you came to embrace self-publishing.
That decision came about through utter frustration with the traditional publishing paradigm (sorry – don’t get to use that word much). After I finished Guardian, I sent off several queries, most of which I never heard from. Being a business professional, I become supremely annoyed when someone doesn’t respond – a courtesy ‘thanks but no thanks’ would have been fine. The thought of editors and agents just chucking manuscripts in the rubbish bin (or hitting the delete button) strikes me as arrogant; at least have the courtesy of sending a form rejection email.
Once I fiddled around with Amazon and Smashwords and found out (1) how easy it was and (2) how much better the royalty structure was, it was a no brainer. I had reached the conclusion that I would likely never be picked up by an agent or publisher because either (1) my story didn’t fit the current business model, (2) wasn’t today’s ‘hot’ genre or (3) *gasp* might not be worth reading (this is where my sister’s nagging came in handy, as she insisted it WAS worth reading).
I’m also amazed at how supportive other Indie authors have been. I stumbled across BestsellerBound by accident and I’m so glad I did! You, Darcia Helle, Maria Savva and others have been so incredibly helpful. Forming these new friendships has been just as rewarding as being able to pull up my book on Amazon!

Do you have any wizard’s robes?
I haven’t earned a full set yet, though I DO have a really cool black cape. I actually rescued one of our cats twenty feet up a tree while wearing a full vampire costume one Halloween, but that’s another story…

In Lord of the Rings, Frodo was in his fifties when he began his own quest. I was never able to put my mind around that, preferring the younger version that Elijah Wood brought to the screen. I know that Keegan is in his thirties – does it surprise you that I see him as barely out of his teens?
Actually it doesn’t surprise me at all! The funny thing is that when I go back and read the story now, I picture him as younger too. I now picture him in his early twenties.

Have you been tempted to experiment with audio books?
I haven’t explored that avenue yet, though I must admit the thought appeals to me if I could find the right voice for the right price. I’m betting Morgan Freeman or Stephen Fry wouldn’t come cheap, though.

My son saw your author pic on my laptop, thought it was me, and said I hadn’t looked that good in a long time.
Ha! We are fortunate to have the best of both worlds – guys with grey hair are supposed to be sexy AND wise!

If I asked you what a Tippet was, you would know, wouldn’t you?
Sadly, yes. Have to admit though; we don’t see them very much in Kentucky. I’m afraid most people around here would think a ‘Tippet’ was a small furry creature related to a weasel…

Tell us what your writing day is like.
I don’t sleep very much, that’s for certain. My day typically starts at 5:00 in the morning, when I check my emails, blast off a few quick tweets and (yes, I’ll admit it) check my sales on Amazon. (side note – I’ll admit to being a bit ‘CDO’ – that’s ‘OCD’ but with the letters in the right order. I keep a spreadsheet with how many units are sold by title, each day).
My actual writing occurs in short bursts of frenetic creativity. Normally in the evenings after 8:00 I open up my current work in process and dive in. Sometimes I may only add a paragraph before I’m interrupted, while other times I’ll write two or three chapters. Depends on how cooperative the muse is at the moment (fickle witch that she is).

Can you write in a busy house, or do you need absolute quiet?
Kids = Chaos. I’ve found I can write just fine while others watch television, play video games, try to dismember each other, etc. though I must admit I get more words out during the quiet moments. I’ve found I’m most productive on the weekends, since my brain forces me awake at 5:00 or 6:00 while everyone else is asleep. I usually end up with my laptop, coffee and at least one cat and am able to knock out a chapter or so before anyone else is up.

How far along Keegan’s journey are you going to take us?
I originally envisioned this as a trilogy, but now I truly believe I can tell the complete story in two books. Keegan is desperately seeking his place in the world, hoping to find inner peace and acceptance. I hope he will achieve that by the end of Bloodstone.
I have to admit though, I will probably continue writing short stories based on the characters and their backgrounds because it’s just so much fun.

Any other genres you hope to attempt?
Believe it or not, I have several notes jotted down for a Sci-Fi work. It is a political thriller set about a hundred years from now, but it is just in its infancy. I have to say stepping outside of fantasy is a bit frightening – plus I’m not sure my dragon, Idris, would approve.
From the way you've described Dragons, and their independence from influence, it might be good to keep Idris happy...

Not necessarily a kid's author, Mr. Radcliffe has still created a story in Guardian which is safe for younger readers. It does have thrills, exciting magic and will captivate youthful readers with its wonders. I'm very happy to have found it, and equally pleased to share this discovery with you. I thank Michael for dropping by, and invite you wander in his world for yourself. Just watch out for the shadows there. They are nastier than any you have yet known.