Guest posts

Friday, July 29, 2011

Why can't I write a sex scene...?

I have a new mystery almost ready to put on Smashwords. What's the hold up? Well, there is a place in the narrative that requires some sex between the heroine and her love interest. I feel it's integral to the story  - when I read it without that part, it just doesn't leave the characters well enough bonded. I'm not talking pages of graphic sex - I'm just talking about a couple of paragraphs. I don't even want to get very deep into the sex - even some blouse opening and a bit of kissing and touching would be fine - but I can't seem to write it!

I bet your first thought is that this is reflection of my own problems. Well, actually, sex is not something that gives me problems on a personal level - I'm quite happy with my own sexuality and as a therapist of many years I've certainly overcome any inhibitions I've ever had in talking about sex; and, I've taken training in helping others deal with their sexuality - this just isn't an area that is a problem in my life - so why can't I deal with it in my writing?

I posted last time about trying to push my own boundaries in writing and I guess this is one of them. I look at my capacity to write other forms of story - I can write violent scenes very well - I can get graphic with battle scenes as well as with one on one murders. The words come easily and the narrative flows. If I can  write violence - which I abhor on most levels - why can't I write mild sex scenes? I know I can't and won't write graphic sex scenes that are there simply for the sex - there are plenty of others who do that and who do it well - but it's not what I want to put out into the universe and it's not necessary to the story development of this book. But, even the most inhibited and restricted parts of myself have no problem with what I want to write - I just can't do it well.

Am I alone in this? Have any of you had to overcome this type of block in your writing? I'm eager to get this book up and selling - I think it's a great read - so I'll take all the suggestions you have.

Remember - have your best day possible!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fearless writing...

I began watching Breaking Bad as a means of spending some time with one of my teen age sons. I wasn't trying for quality time - no point in going for that at his age - just any time at all will do for now. If I want to be in the same room with him it's either do some gaming - which will never happen in this lifetime  - or watch television. To be clear, Breaking Bad isn't my type of show - I don't mind the violence but I'm not interested in the drug trade or personal corruption; but, I was hooked on the first episode and I have continued to be a dedicated viewer even when my son isn't around.

So, during commercials there is no hope of meaningful conversation with my son who is still at a stage where he only has two responses to me - he either grunts something that is meant to convey an entire conversation or he totally ignores me - that leaves me with no choice but to think. And, I think often about why I'm so into this show. Sure, it's great acting and incredible writing but there are lots of shows - okay, not lots - but other shows with those factors, such that Throne show and the Tudors, and I couldn't stick with them even though I was more inclined toward their themes and eras.

I think that part of what intrigues me with Breaking Bad is that the writers are totally fearless. I don't know where they will go next. Nothing is sacred and nothing is absolute. The wife of the main character has lost her moral compass this last season and is now as skilled at corruption as her morally bereft ex husband (who, by the way, is sinking deeper and deeper into his own previously untapped sociopathic behaviors).

And I believe that's it for me - I see in the writing a boldness that is hesitant in me. I have certainly written some graphic violence in my fiction - I've got a short story about rape, and there are scenes of graphic violence in Cleah; and, Good Enough is about a topic (teen porn) that most don't venture into when writing for the YA audience - so I'm not doing a pretty little linguistic dance around my topics - but I know I haven't explored the outer realms of where my characters can go nor have I broken my own internal boundaries in what I've written ... so far.

Well, I'm halfway through the sequel to The Lost Fury Chronicles, so I've got some genuine opportunities to push my own envelope. Can I do it? What do you think?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Interview with author Wayne Zurl


A full-length Sam Jenkins Novel. 

Published in trade paperback format.

Biography of Wayne Zurl:

Shortly after World War Two I was born in BrooklynNew York. Although I never wanted to leave a community with such an efficient trolley system, I had little to say in my parents’ decision to pick up and move to Long Island where I grew up.
Like most American males of the baby-boomer generation, I spent my adolescence wanting to be a cowboy, soldier, or policeman. All that was, of course, based on movies and later television. The Vietnam War accounted for my time as a soldier. After returning to the US and separating from active duty, the New York State Employment Service told me I possessed no marketable civilian skills. So, I became a cop. That was as close to military life as I could find. Now that I’m retired from the police department, I still like the cowboy idea.
I live in the picturesque foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains with my wife, Barbara.

When did you first feel the *call* to writing?

Prior to the ""call"" of writing fiction whispering in my ear, the necessity of writing was thrust upon me in a few professional ways. Initially, the Army, from time to time, demanded the assorted narrative reports that make a military organization go around.

After I separated from active duty in the waning days of the southeast Asian war, I found myself without gainful employment. So, after my $104 weekly unemployment benefits ran out, I took a job with a private investigator who shall remain nameless, but everyone in the Long Island town where he kept his office called him Tiptoe Tannenbaum. That job also required written reports to satisfy a client's need to know they got what they paid for.

Then as my check book floundered around the lower triple digits and I grew tired of peeping through keyholes, I was appointed as a police officer to the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. There, throughout my twenty years, writing was a necessity.

The one commonality of those jobs manifested itself in the thought that oftentimes people who would read my reports had never or would never meet me face to face.  My written word represented my initial approach to people, some of whom, could impact on my future. I figured, write well and take advantage of the halo effect.

The call to fiction came in the summer of 2006 when I read Robert B. Parker's novel NIGHT PASSAGE. Parker's protagonist, Jesse Stone, was an ex-LAPD detective who took a job as chief in a small Massachusetts town. I liked the book and the premise. I said, ""If Parker can do it, so can I. I've got more experience with police work than he does. I was a cop and he wasn't."" I decided to write about an ex-New York detective who retired to Tennessee and landed a job as chief in the fictional city of Prospect. Coincidentally, when I retired we moved to the same area.
What finally got you started on writing a book?
For ten years I had been writing non-fiction magazine articles and was lucky enough to convince a few publishers to print twenty-six of them. But, my attention span for research into Colonial American warfare and the fiction of James Fenimore Cooper deflated. That left me in need of a creative outlet. I decided on trying to write fiction for publication because manuscripts were easier to store than model airplanes or oil paintings.

What do you bring from your life that adds to your writing?
I spent most of my police career as an investigator or supervisor in an investigation section. At times my unit numbered more than twice that of the thirteen officers Sam Jenkins leads at Prospect PD. I had a good basis to look back on for material. Twenty years in a crowded area and busy police department provides oodles of interesting war stories. I embellish them, fictionalize everything and transplant them from New York to Tennessee. Occasionally, I toss in an appropriate reference to Jenkins' time in the military. These stories are not autobiographical, but the protagonist and I share many things in common.

Do you use external supports in writing? such as a writing program or an ongoing editor?
While I was writing A NEW PROSPECT, I hired an editor/book doctor to help me get a grip on what the publishing world wanted to see in a modern police mystery. He taught me a lot. I also spoke to a manuscript consultant who taught me things like reader psychology and demographics--almost sensitivity training for writers. He was a big help, too.
Somewhere along the line, I attended a few sessions of a sit-down writer's workshop. I did learn how to write a world-class, one-page query letter, but basically I looked at that as nothing more than group therapy for people half my age. I didn't learn fast enough. I quit.
Then I tied up with an on-line writer's workshop. I learned LOTS there. Through peer group critique, I gained many good ideas that I've used in many of the things I've written. We all helped each other. I acknowledged all the people who stuck with me through every chapter of A NEW PROSPECT on its third page. Smart people and good friends.
A word of caution to anyone thinking of enrolling in an on-line workshop. You need a thick skin. Some of your peers take advantage of the anonymity afforded by computer contact and do nothing to develop a bedside manner. Thankfully they fade away quickly, but they do leave their mark.

Is there a theme that runs through your writing?
I suppose the underlying theme running through each Sam Jenkins story is that he's a dinosaur. He began his police career at the tail end of the wild and woolly days and now he's into the age of computerized law enforcement. He's more like one of his old-west heroes than someone you might see on an episode of CSI Tennessee. He generally gets things done the old-fashioned way.
And he's obsessed with doing the right thing--no matter how often he bumps heads with one of the local politicians--and that's often.

What writers have influenced you?
I only began reading a lot of cop fiction after I retired. Prior to that, I read whatever Joe Wambaugh published because he has been a cop and he wrote it as it really happens. Not everything was a major organized crime case or involved an international drug cartel.
Then I discovered James Lee Burke. I believe he's one of the masters of descriptive prose. His ability to make a reader SEE a place or a person is extraordinary--poetic even.
I also mentioned Robert B. Parker. From him I learned to minimize everything. Tell my story in the fewest possible words. Arrive late and leave early. I like that style.
And then there's that other guy from Long Island who writes mysteries, Nelson DeMille. I may question the liberties he takes in some of his stories, but I shouldn't argue with success. I'm thinking specifically of his blockbuster, PLUM ISLAND. In the story, a NY City detective out on disability leave and a single Suffolk County homicide investigator do all the work on a high profile double murder at a restricted government research facility off the east end of Long Island. Coincidentally, my wife worked for the deputy director of Plum Island and I spent twenty years with the agency responsible for investigating those murders. In reality at least one team of detectives would have worked out of a mobile command center, been supervised by a team sergeant, and visited constantly by the section commander. But through out all his books, Nelson has his protagonist's (Detective John Corey) language and personality down pat. DeMille comes up with an endless supply of quality smart-ass dialogue--that's reality.

How has your writing evolved over time?
When I began writing fiction I thought too much in a linear fashion. I did what cops do. I wrote almost like a police report. I gave too much detail and spent too much time on minutia--things important if I might end up in court, but more than the average reader needed or wanted to know. I've worked on trimming down my stories, suggesting things a reader can figure out on their own, and adapting more of a slam-bam method of presentation. I try to keep from waxing poetic over a sunset in the Smokies.

How do you promote your books?
Writing is fun. All the post-publication marketing and promotion is too much like work. I thought once my novel was published I could do book signings and schmooze the shop patrons, talk to book discussion groups (usually all women), smile and act personable for half an hour before autographing the books and collecting the cash. I never envisioned getting involved with the social and electronic media things like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and all the other dot-com jazz I once never knew nor cared about.
But all that is a fact of life for a writer. And I learned what to do. I plug ahead daily and hope it makes a difference in royalties. My publisher supports me greatly, but recently I hired a publicist to take me on a two month virtual book tour. So far it's been interesting--and lots of work--many hours of work--if it's done right. And there is no sense cutting corners if you want to sell books. I write up interviews, arrange for books to be sent to the reviewers, write guest blogs, and I even participated in a computer chat party for an hour one night. I've been in gun fights with a slower pace than that one.
When the tour is over, I'll see how much impact it had on sales.

How do you promote your web site?
While querying publishers, I learned many will not consider accepting a submission from a writer without evidence of a professionally constructed website and a marketing plan. My local computer whiz made sure my website comes up quickly on the search engines when someone looks for me by name or title, references The Smoky Mountains, Tennessee police stories, and all the other tags that fit nicely around the Sam Jenkins stories.
Years ago a real estate broker told me, ""You have to get your name out there."" He constantly borrowed pens from people and kept theirs and substituted his personalized advertisement pens. He owned the most successful agency on the north fork of Long Island. I'm certainly not going to go around stealing pens, but each time I sign off an email, I include There is no place for modesty in our world of shameless self=promotion. I put business cards all over and always ""drop"" my link where I can.
 "What was that website, Wayne?"
"Glad you asked, Brenda. It's, the one where you can learn all about how A NEW PROSPECT was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards.
Synopsis of A NEW PROSPECT:
 Sam Jenkins never thought about being a fish out of water during the twenty years he spent solving crimes in New York. But things change, and after retiring to Tennessee, he gets that feeling. Jenkins becomes a cop again and is thrown headlong into a murder investigation and a steaming kettle of fish, down-home style.

The victim, Cecil Lovejoy, couldn’t have deserved it more. His death was the inexorable result of years misspent and appears to be no great loss, except the prime suspect is Sam’s personal friend.

Jenkins’ abilities are attacked when Lovejoy’s influential widow urges politicians to reassign the case to state investigators.

Feeling like “a pork chop at a bar mitzvah” in his new workplace, Sam suspects something isn’t kosher when the family tries to force him out of the picture.

In true Jenkins style, Sam turns common police practice on its ear to insure an innocent man doesn’t fall prey to an imperfect system and the guilty party receives appropriate justice.

A NEW PROSPECT takes the reader through a New South resolutely clinging to its past and traditional way of keeping family business strictly within the family.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Interview with author Judy Serrano - check out her latest book Brother Number 3 at Amazon.

Here's a synopsis of her super bookComing in third place was something that was all too familiar to Hector Montiago. As his strength and grounding personality pushes him into first place with the woman he loves, lines are crossed and sides are chosen. In the second book of the series, Brother Number Three depicts family ties in a light unequal to any other. Lilly tells the story of how the brothers unite in the effort to recover her missing son, as blood becomes both the indestructible bond that holds them together and the opposing force that pushes them apart. They fight temptation, while the enemies of the Montiago cartel unleash their wrath, only to discover that the true danger lies within.

Tell us about your latest release.
The second book of the Easter’s Lilly Series is called "Brother Number Three." It is a romantic suspense and was released June 16th this year. It is a book about Hector Montiago who is the third born in a family of four brothers. As his strength and grounding personality pushes him into first place with the woman he loves, lines are crossed and sides are chosen.

In this second book of the series, Brother Number Three depicts family ties in a light unequal to any other. Lilly tells the story of how the brothers unite in the effort to recover her missing son, as blood becomes both the indestructible bond that holds them together and the opposing force that pushes them apart. Read on as they fight temptation while the enemies of the Montiago cartel unleash their wrath, only to discover that the true danger lies within.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am the mother of four boys and have been happily married for 15 years. Although I am originally from New York, my family and I currently reside in Texas. I am a substitute teacher during the school year and full time writer during the summer. I carry my flash drive with me everywhere I go, just in case I find myself alone with a computer. (Don’t tell my husband).

When did you first start thinking of yourself as a writer?
When I was young, I wrote songs, poetry and even novels. I’d say I was about 12 years old when I started. But I was also a singer and pursued that career path instead. As an adult I went back to college and I suppose my imagination got re-stimulated. I started writing novels one right after the other, non-stop. I decided to try to publish one and to my surprise a publisher told me he wanted the book. Now, I think of myself as a writer.

Have you taken any formal training in writing?
When I went back to college I was an English major. I took a few writing classes and of course some very interesting literature classes. I think learning about other people’s writing is very important to the process of developing your own style. My writing classes were my most fun and I must admit that I coasted through them. It’s like telling a child that they have to take a gaming class in order to graduate. I was more than happy to take as many writing classes as they'd let me.

What do you bring from your life that adds to your writing?
Sometimes I secretly weave in some of my personal experiences. They are hidden very well and I must admit that no one would notice unless they knew me very well. I do use a lot of emotion in my writing; things that I know I have felt or still feel and I think that comes across when reading my novels.

Do you use external supports in writing? Such as a writing program or an ongoing editor?
I belong to a few writers’ groups on-line. I find them through my social networks. They can be very supportive and encouraging. Writing tends to be a very solitary profession and having people who do what you do and understand what you are going through, is very helpful.

Is there a theme that runs through your writing?
So far I’m writing a series, so the theme is certainly all about the Mafia and the families that organized crime touches. But if we were talking about a style issue, I would say that I write in the first person. Personally, I prefer books written that way and it comes too naturally for me to change that. In my humble opinion I think It makes it a more personal read when the story is told from the protagonist’s viewpoint.

Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are Nora Roberts and Stephanie Tyler. I love the classy way that Nora presents her romance and the thrill Stephanie exuberates all through her novels. I also like how both writers use strong male characters susceptible to a certain amount of vulnerability.

How has your writing evolved over time?
I’ve learned a few basic rules about the mechanics of the trade, which is fortunately unavoidable. I also think I have learned to develop my characters more deeply and have been told that the page-turner aspect of my writing is even more prominent as my books move farther through the series.

How do you promote your books?
Promoting the books is the hardest part after finding a publisher. I do book signings, I use social networks, I pass out flyers and I have a web site and blog set up for people who have any interest in my novels or me. We have found that passing out first chapters has been the most effective marketing tool. We discovered this during a reading I was doing at the Dallas Library. After I had finished reading the first chapter of Easter’s Lilly, my book started to sell. Now we simply carry them around with us and give them out to people we meet. It was my husband’s idea and I am thankful for his input.

How do you promote your web site or blog?
My website is printed on almost everything we hand out. The blog I promote through social networking. I try to tap into subjects that might be of interest to the people who follow my blog and then I advertise the subject of discussion on my social networks.

People can follow Judy

Friday, July 15, 2011


I'm in the process of having a cover done for a short story, actually more of a novella, in ebook form that I'm going to add to my list of books but will mainly selling from my other blog and web site. The thing that's interesting about this for me is that while I fret and worry and experienced intolerable angst over trying to market and sell my other books, I'm not worried about this one. I'm not worried, in part, because I have a built in audience in the people who attend my professional workshops and know me as a therapist. They read my other blog,  or go to my other web site, and the book will sell - it won't pay my mortgage because it's geared for a small target audience, but it will move itself along.

What hit me as weird in my thinking on this is - why isn't pushing this book up the Amazon ranks as important to me as it is with the others? I mean hey, it's well written and it's a really good story. I've come to realize that I have categories in my head about my books - some are in the I want this to be the next big seller category, some are in the I just want enough read so that I know the characters are shared with others category, some are in the I'm happy as long as they trickle out to the targeted readers category

I put as much work and thought and energy into each of the books, so maybe I need to give myself and my books more respect and plug them all equally. I don't know - maybe I'm doing all that I can as it is. However, I intend to keep this rolling around in my brain and let my neurons work on it for a while and see if any change comes about.

Have your best day possible!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Author interview with Joseph Rinaldo about his book A Spy at Home

An interview with author Joseph Rinaldo - about his book A Spy at Home

A retired CIA operative comes to believe he wasted his professional life not only promoting questionable American policies, but missing life with his family. To ease the pain he diverts millions that the CIA expected him to use funding a coup attempt that would establish a pro-American government in an African country.  Seeing the coup would fail, Garrison decides to save the money for himself. You, the reader, can decide if he's a villain with evil intent, a hero with altruistic motives, or a regular guy sick of working for peanuts in a dangerous environment.

Back at home he and his wife look forward to their golden years being luxuriously comfortable and opulently relaxed. Unfortunately, after his wife dies in a tragic accident, he must learn all that she knew about caring for Noah, their mentally retarded son. After a life of planning for contingencies, the former spy must deal with the possibility that he may die before his son. Who will care for the son when the dad spent a life out of the 
country and now has no one to lean on?


By day I work as Credit and Financial Manager for a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning distributor. When I first started writing, I thought being a numbers guy would make me an oddity as an author. That’s proved to be wrong. The more people I meet in this industry, the more I run across accountants and CFOs. Apparently, creativity infects a variety of people. Of course, I have the same dream as other writers. I hope my book sells a million copies and becomes a smash hit movie. Selling ebooks isn’t the get-rich-quick 
scheme I thought it was before being published. It’s been a lot of work.

When did you first know that you wanted to write a book?
The actual impetus for me to begin writing came while I was reading Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas Sparks. When I got to the part where he received a million-dollar advance, I thought, “Holy cow! He’s a good writer, but I know I can do this, too.” I’ve been writing since that day in 2004.
Eight years prior to reading about the million-dollar advance, I had only considered writing once in my life. Living alone, I hand wrote a page that I later read to my girlfriend, who is now my wife. She said the characters didn’t really tell the story, and that she heard me reciting rather than the voice of the main character. I wadded up the sheet of paper and threw it away. I never forgot what she said and believe I have corrected those mistakes in A Spy At Home.

What made you finally decide to start the actual writing process?
The first book was the hardest to actually begin typing. I kept asking my wife, “Is this a good idea for a book?”  Picture Dan Brown asking you, “An albino man goes around the world for conservative Catholics defending their beliefs as he tortures himself. Is that a good idea?” My point is, one sentence to describe a book that hasn’t been written probably won’t sound all that interesting no matter how many millions of copies the novel eventually sells. After I started writing, I found it hard to quit. Now I’ve written nine books.

 Have you taken any formal training in writing?

Nope, never.  Sometimes I think a reader can tell when someone has had formal training. The plots come across like a mathematical equation. The protagonist mentions three times that he hates listening to the Rolling Stones and later finds himself stuck in a car between two kidnappers with “Brown Sugar” playing repeatedly on a CD player. You usually see that coming when it has been overly set up by the author. The stories that keep you guessing have red herrings that fit with the main storyline. Those are the kind of plots I like to follow. The reader might have to work a little more by paying close attention, but I think it’s worth it.

What do you bring from your life that adds to your writing?
A Spy At Home recounts the life of a CIA operative, which means I cannot answer any questions about a career as a spy that I may or may not have had. Generally, I think of the characters in my books as being completely separate people. The characters don’t interact with me, let alone stem from me. At least that’s how it is in my mind. None of my characters are based on a person I know. They are combinations of traits from many people, and some imaginary traits are thrown in to keep my friends from recognizing themselves. Just kidding; the characters live in my head, and I write down what they say and do. Hopefully this doesn’t sound too bizarre.

Do you use external supports in writing? such as a writing program or an ongoing editor?
I am the world’s worst speller! Without the F7 key in Word, none of my books would have an error-free sentence. Releasing books on Amazon has forced me to use a professional editor. This can be quite expensive, so we (my wife and I) shopped around a long time before settling on someone. Also, paying a portion up front is only fair to the editor, but paying anything to someone you don’t know can be scary for the writer. Anyone wishing to know who I used can email me through my website. I’ll have to check with him before providing his name. Using an editor has REALLY helped me grow as a writer. He shed a whole new light on my soon-to-be-released Hazardous Choices. Writing a book, you know what you mean, but the English language leaves plenty of room for a variety of interpretations. A professional editor will help focus the words on what you actually mean without detracting from your creativity. Editing is not an easy job.

 Is there a theme that runs through your writing?
Good heavens, I hope not! All of my books having the same theme sounds horrifically boring to me. A few of my books involve characters looking for a better life, but another has a man who thinks he’s crazy because his dreams seem so real, and another has a young man who infiltrates a Mormon sect looking for child predators. Having one theme isn’t me. I don’t think I could write a sequel. Well, maybe if my main character was a boy named Harry Potter.

 are your favorite authors?
This might seem odd, but I can’t remember who wrote which books. Grissom’s and Clancy’s books usually stick with me because each of their books has the same theme. Sharp Objects was a book I read and loved; however, my wife has to remind me who wrote it every time I mention it. I like to read. The stories stick with me, but the names of the authors don’t.

How has your writing evolved over time?
I feel like my characters have more personality, and my plots have improved a great deal. Having one section flow into the next has taken a great of work.  Making the sections flow is an editing process item for me.  When I am writing a book, I don’t worry a whole lot about that; maybe I should.  
The endings of my books have gotten better over time. A Spy At Home is the latest book I’ve written, and I am very pleased with the ending.

 How do you promote your books?
We use the internet almost exclusively; my wife spends a great deal of time posting information and blurbs on Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites such as Goodreads, Bookspy, Authors Den, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Library Thing, Shelfari, Orkut, Tumblr, Twitter, StumbleUpon,  on my blog, my website, and any other sites that will allow us to put the word out there about A SPY AT HOME.

How do you promote your web site or blog?
We put links to them on all the sites listed above, and I try to add a new post to my blog at least once a week. I find that the more controversial the post, the better response I get from it. I have links to both my website and my blog everywhere on social networking sites.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Author Book Tour: "Her Dear and Loving Husband" by Meredith Allard

James Wentworth has a secret. By night, he’s a mild-mannered professor at Salem State College in Massachusetts. He lives quietly, making few ties anywhere. One night his private world is turned upside down when he meets Sarah Alexander, a dead ringer for his wife, Elizabeth. Though it has been years since Elizabeth’s death, James cannot bring himself to move on. 
Sarah also has a secret. She is haunted by nightmares, and every night she is awakened by visions of hangings, being arrested, and dying in jail–scenes from the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. As James comes to terms with his feelings for Sarah, he must also dodge accusations from a reporter desperate to prove that James is not who, or what, he seems to be. With the help of their friends, witches Jennifer and Olivia, James and Sarah piece their stories together and discover a mystery that may bind them in ways they never imagined. Will James make the ultimate sacrifice to prevent a new hunt from bringing hysteria to Salem again?

Author Bio

Meredith Allard received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from California State University, Northridge. She is the author of Her Dear & Loving Husband (Copperfield Press, 2011), a paranormal love story set around the Salem Witch Trials. She is the executive editor of the award-winning literary journal The Copperfield Review, named one of the top markets for new writers by Writer’s Digest. Her work has appeared in journals such as The Northridge Review, Wild Mind, The Maxwell Digest, Moondance, Muse Apprentice Guild, The Paumanok Review, CarbLite, Writers Weekly, and ViewsHound, where her article won the Silver Medal Prize. She has taught writing to students aged 10 to 60, and she has taught creative writing and writing historical fiction at Learning Tree University and UNLV.  Meredith has been the featured guest speaker at the Los Angeles Civil War Round Table and the Civil Warriors Round Table.  She has also interviewed such notable authors as John Jakes, Jean M. Auel, and Jeff Shaara. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
You can find Meredith Allard on Facebook and Twitter (@copperfield101). She welcomes e-mail at meredithallard(at)aol(dot)com.
Important Links
Meredith Allard’s website:
Buy HDLH from Amazon:
Buy HDLH from Lulu:
Buy HDLH from Smashwords:
Meredith Allard on Facebook:
Meredith Allard on Twitter:
Video Trailer HDLH:

When did you first feel the *call* to writing?

When I was in the sixth grade, I was asked to write the class graduation play, and in my 12-year-old mind that meant I was a writer. As I continued through school, teachers often told me I was a good writer, and then in high school a teacher suggested I choose a career in writing such as journalism. It only took one journalism class for me to realize that that type of writing wasn’t my thing, but I still loved to write. Finally, when I was in college it occurred to me that I should start taking these crazy story ideas I had floating around inside my head and write them down. That was when I started writing seriously because I realized I had stories to tell.

What finally got you started on writing a book?

Originally, my plan was to become a screenwriter in Hollywood. In college I took a number of film classes, including screenwriting classes, and I worked as a script analyst for a few production companies. After I finished college and I had time for my own writing, I began writing screenplays, but I realized it wasn’t satisfying enough. One night I started watching The Civil War documentary by Ken Burns on PBS and that was the germ for my first historical novel. After that, my focus was on writing books.

What do you bring from your life that adds to your writing?

I’ve been a lifelong reader, so I bring a love of words. I was an English major in college, so I was able to study great literature for a few years. Like any other writer, bits and pieces from my own life pop up in my fiction—events, characters, plot ideas often have their beginnings in things that have happened to me. Mainly, I bring my love of writing. Writing is a hard, solitary activity and yet I still do it because I love it.

Do you use external supports in writing? Such as a writing program or an ongoing editor?

I have used professional critiques to help me find the flaws in my stories that I wasn’t able to spot myself. I have both taken and taught classes for writers. I think finding other writers to meet with is essential because writing is such a solitary activity and it helps to have a support system of others who love what you love.

Is there a theme that runs through your writing?

I don’t think there’s a single theme. I tend to write about whatever subject fascinates me at the moment, and the theme tends grow out of the subject. I do have a genre that runs through my writing, and that’s historical fiction. Almost everything I have ever written is historical in nature. Even Her Dear & Loving Husband, which I didn’t intend to be a historical novel, became at least partially so after I decided to set it in Salem, Massachusetts and include elements of the Salem Witch Trials as part of the story.

What writers have influenced you?

Charles Dickens, Toni Morrison, Walt Whitman. I could go on, but those are the most important three.

How has your writing evolved over time?

It has become tighter and more concise. When I’m writing fiction, I have what I call my “no extra word” rule. I like to say what I have to say in as few words as possible, which is very different from when I started and I thought sentences had to be long and flowy to be well written.

How do you promote your books?

I do what I can to get word out there. I use Facebook and Twitter, and I have a webpage. I’m also starting this blog tour, which is a fun process. I’m enjoying doing the interviews and the guest posts. I’ve found some nice bloggers who have posted reviews about the book. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m grateful.

How do you promote your web site? 

Pretty much the same way I promote the book. I find I can promote the book and the website at the same time because I can send readers to my website to find information about the book.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My guest interview today is with author CV Smith who wrote Nettie Parker's Backyard. 


Ask anyone who knows Nettie Parker and they’ll say that she’s an amazing, mystical woman…what else would you call someone who receivessupernatural signs sent just to them?  And being able to live longer than anyone else?  That alone is pretty amazing!  Nettie’s been through many hardships in her life, and she’s learned first-hand that prejudice can be a multi-headed dragon.  But her courage and determination show others that differences in skin color or in physical abilities don’t matter.  In fact, as Nettie and her fighter-pilot husband both get caught up in World War II, survival becomes what matters most—not just for them, but also for the eight Jewish refugee children she comes to care for.  Now Nettie faces her toughest struggle yet: uncovering the mystery of her supernatural signs and the purpose of her unusually long life.  Do the strange statues that suddenly appear in her backyard point to any clues?  Halley, Nettie’s young friend, plays detective as she re-visits Nettie’s past, a journey that takes the reader from South Carolina to England and back again.  Can Halley put all the pieces together and solve the puzzle?

Nettie Parker’s Backyard is a work of historical fiction.  The book holds the readers’ interest with just the right amount of mystery and magic, also weaving important lessons against bullying and intolerance toward race, religion and the physically challenged into the story.  The novel has wide appeal and contains something with which every 4th-6th grader can identify. 

The Barnes and Noble link

What finally got you started on writing a book?  The idea for Nettie Parker's Backyardcame to me in a very vivid dream, and whereas most of my dreams go unremembered, this one was definitely unique.  Its powerful detail and message ended with a revelation that has affected my own personal beliefs, further compelling me to write the book.  My research took me down some fascinating avenues as I discovered such things as the Gullah language in the Sea Islands, the Kindertransport, sand fly fever, and the role African-American soldiers played in WWII.  Nettie's character was based on that of my granddaughters; thus, some of her best virtues are those of trust, love, and friendship.

Is there a theme that runs through your writing?  Yes, the underlying, yet very powerful themes directed to children are those of anti-bullying, anti-prejudice and tolerance toward all.  I have been a teacher and para-educator for over 30 years, most of which were spent in classrooms where students were just beginning to think for themselves and about themselves.  The book is written for ages 9-12, the time when youth questions everything.  Adolescence is starting and many children feel insecure about themselves, their relationships with peers, or even their own families and homelife.  These insecurities manifest themselves in various behaviors; some children withdraw into themselves, while some overcompensate for their fears by bullying others.  I have witnessed that when bullying begins, even if innocently meant with only an off-handed word or two, prejudice often follows not far behind.  I wrote this novel hoping to illustrate to children that bullying and intolerance toward race, religion, or the physically challenged have no place in our world.  Certainly, with tools such as the internet, facebook, twitter, etc., the world is becoming smaller in many ways, and so the ill-effects of prejudice are felt even more strongly today than in the past.  We must all learn to accept one another and celebrate our differences, rather than let them separate us.  I further believe that more must be done to inhibit bullying; not doing so only enables the passing of prejudice from one generation to the next.

What writers influenced you?  Well, my two very favorite books are The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.  Kingsolver uses magnificent adjectives to describe Africa, and Roy’s style of writing, which begins with scores of unrelated points, later all coming together in the climax of the story, was inventively unique. 

How has your writing evolved over time?  Of course, as you grow and mature, your writing also grows and matures.  Over the years you learn to write things differently and in new ways from how you wrote them previously.  How you use words, terms and vocabulary, and how you express your ideas and concepts find alternate routes with the same goal: stimulating the mind of your reader so that they challenge themselves to think and reach deeper within themselves.

You are a professional and a writer. How do you manage to find the time for both of these time consuming aspects of your life?  It’s very difficult and a real challenge.  My husband has become a “writer’s widower” in this, my second launch of Nettie Parker’s Backyard.

How do you promote your books?  Since my ultimate goal is conventional publication with a “brick and mortar firm”, I am doing everything I can to promote my WWII historical-fiction-mystery for children.  I blog, twitter, facebook, do author chats at schools and libraries, canvas book stores, do book signings, interviews, radio spots, and in general, just research every contact I can.

How do you promote your blog?  My book has a webpage rather than a blog, which has a synopsis, more about myself, and readers’ reviews, one of them being a 5 star review from Amazon’s own Grady Harp, rated 4th on Amazon’s List of Top 10 Reviewers. The direct link to my webpage is:

Please add anything else you think would interest the readers.  I hope everyone will visit my website and purchase my ebook or paperback to read with a child that they love in their lives.  I think it contains something with which each 4th-7th grader (and adult) can identify.  I think it provides a great moral compass, while at the same time is a comprehensive history lesson and a supernatural mystery all rolled into one!