Archive for the ‘5 Minutes Alone’ Category

Another 5 Minutes… With S.R. Johannes

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

AuthorScoop first met with SR Johannes this past December and we are delighted to have her back so soon, and with great news what’s more! She’s got a new book for the tween set, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, just newly released and it looks terrific.

We’d like to thank her for coming back once again to take part in our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: Tell us a little about your new release, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE.

S.R. Johannes (Shelli): Gabby is a disgruntled tween angel who has just been assigned to protect her school nemesis and ex-beffie. Problem is her ex-beffie is dating Gabby’s longtime crush. Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (since when is sticking toilet paper to her shoe or spinach in her teeth a sin?) Soon, Gabby gets out of control and is put on probation by her SKYAgent, who has anger management issues of his own. Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death.

AuthorScoop: Was it hard to kill off your main character right from the start and get her playing in the hereafter?

Shelli: Nope. An angel book doesn’t really work unless I kill at least one person off.

The hardest part was 1) making death funny and 2) creating a brand new world from scratch. I wanted to explore the light side of death and to do that I needed to get away from the religious aspects of Heaven. I could only do that by creating a fresh place called Cirrus.

AuthorScoop: Have the rigors of writing back-to-back books changed the way you read?

Shelli: Uh – yeah. I don’t have time to. I don’t get enough time to write as it is so if I read I want to be writing and vice versa. But I will say, these two books have both been written for several years so it’s not like I just wrote them in the last 2 months. It was just a matter of putting them out right. Which was exhausting and gave me very little time to read the last few months.

AuthorScoop: And with the hindsight of a serial YA novelist, what new advice would you offer to aspiring writers?

Shelli: Go with your gut. I’ve realized if I stick to my gut – I never go wrong for me. I find this comes with confidence though. If you are not confident – you are more easily persuaded by feedback. Don’t get me wrong, I get feedback and criticism, but if I am confident, I can tell what I need to change and what needs to stay – no matter what people say.

AuthorScoop: What’s next for S.R. Johannes?

Shelli: I am in an Anthology called IN HIS EYES coming Feb. 14th with me and about 15 other indie authors. The stories included come form our male protags and are written from his perspective about love and loss. I also plan to get the sequel to UNTRACEABLE (called UNCONTROLLABLE) out in the summer. I can’t really see beyond that right now

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ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is available now and S.R. Johannes runs a lovely website that will get you where you need to go for ordering and information. Just make a wish and click. She offers plenty of access via her social media page, and for more up-to-the-minute updates on Shelli and her work, be sure to check out her blog.

5 Minutes Alone… With Jessica Brody

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Jessica Brody broke on the fiction scene back in 2008 and is quickly becoming a go-to writer for novels that spark YA readers to un-put-downable late nights. We’re fortunate to get a glimpse of how she got here and how she works it onto the page.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Jessica: Well, I wouldn’t call it a “credit” necessarily but my first “publication” was when I was seven years old. My second grade teacher had us “publish” our short stories using cardboard, electrical tape and wallpaper. Here is a picture of mine. (attached). It was called “The Puppy and the Kitty” (not the most creative title, I realize) and it came complete with illustrations. It was about a puppy and a kitty who ran away from home and got the chicken pox. So I guess the moral of the story is obvious. Don’t run away from home or you WILL get the chicken pox.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Jessica: MY LIFE UNDECIDED was a very fun book to write. It’s about a fifteen-year-old girl, notorious for making terrible decisions, who enlists blog readers to vote on how she should live her life. But she soon discovers that some things in life simply aren’t a choice…like who you fall in love with. It’s mostly a comedy…with a little bit of serious stuff baked in.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Jessica: I owe much of my success to a very wise man named Blake Snyder. He wrote a book called SAVE THE CAT!: THE LAST SCREENWRITING BOOK YOU’LL EVER NEED. And although it’s a screenwriting book, it works wonders for outlining and plotting novels as well. It’s really all about story and Blake lays out 15 essential beats that make up any great story. Since I started using it to outline my books, I’ve sold eight novels. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Blake recently passed away (which was a great loss), but his company contacted me to teach workshops about how to use his method to write novels. It’s called the SAVE THE CAT NOVEL-WRITING WORKSHOP. You can find more information about them here:

http://www.blakesnyder.com/services/novel-writing-beat-sheet-workshop/

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Jessica: Morning for sure! I run out of creativity at about 2:00 pm. So I save my more mundane tasks for after lunch and try to get my daily word count done first thing when I wake up. Before getting sucked into emails and twitter!

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Jessica: “You can’t fix a blank page.” I can’t take credit for this brilliance, though. It’s a quote from Nora Roberts. But I have hanging on my wall above my computer so I can always see it. It’s absolutely the best writing advice ever! Sometimes you’ll get stuck, sometimes you’ll write crap, but no matter what, you just have to keep going. Keep writing. Even if you end up throwing it all away at the end. Because more often than not, you have to write through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. And you can always go back and revise later. But you can’t revise something that’s not there!

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MY LIFE UNDECIDED is available at bookstores and her website makes getting to online retailers for it just too easy. Find Jessica on Facebook and Twitter to track a rising star in contemporary fiction.

5 Minutes Alone… With Sharon Maas

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Civilization grew up on the world-as-explained-by myth and legend, fables and allegory. Holy texts were the first literature. Some have become cultural touchstones and required reading. Their themes, and even their story lines, are the blueprints for modern fiction. Even more than that, these timeless tales are often the bedrock of our personal belief systems. But some of the world’s greatest ancient manuscripts have yet to gain wide recognition in the West. India’s epic Bhagavad Gita and its larger contextual tale, The Mahabharata, is one of these lost treasures. In the hands of the gifted and world-traveled writer, Sharon Maas, that’s about to be remedied.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Sharon: OF MARRIAGEABLE AGE – this was my first novel, published by HarperCollins, London, in 1999. It was translated into four languages and now, over a decade later, will be translated into Polish!

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Sharon: SONS OF GODS – THE MAHABHARATA RETOLD, is exactly what it says in the subtitle: a retelling of the Indian epic the Mahabharata, using the pen name Aruna Sharan. I’ve been an Indophile as long as I can remember, and I first fell in love with this book back in the early 1970’s. There are many English versions on the market, especially in India, but I felt that none of them really hit the mark. Some were written as a mere summary of the original, vast work, the dry skeleton of the story; others were too “Indian” for a Western readership, yet others left out scenes that for me were vital, or lacked the sense of a unifying story. And so, fairly soon, I began to write my own version. At that time – over 30 years ago – I had not the least ambition to be a published writer; I simply wrote it for my own satisfaction. I would put it away for years at a time, but somehow, it always came back to me; I finished the first draft, and continued to improve on it. It was a labour of love, more a hobby than a serious undertaking.

It wasn’t until around 2006, now a successfully published author, that I thought seriously that SONS OF GODS might be good enough for publication. By this time I was using the skills I had gained as a novelist to really bring the original draft to life. I wanted to get beneath the skin of the characters, make them live, understand their motives—even the motives of the so-called villains—and simply produce a worthy vessel of words for a wonderful story. This involved restructuring some of the story elements, and even making up a scene or two. In particular, I wanted to bring to the fore the anti-hero Karna, my favourite character.

A typical synopsis of the Mahabharata will describe it as the story of a family feud in ancient India, culminating in a terrible war: the Pandavas (good) against the Kauravas (bad). Never is Karna mentioned; and yet Karna is the key to the entire story. Without Karna there would be no Mahabharata. He is the lynchpin of all the action. That’s why I’ve restructured the story so that it begins with his birth; in every other version Karna’s conception and birth is almost a non-event, mentioned almost in passing about a third of the way through. That’s a travesty! From the point of view of story, Sons of Gods is at its heart a song for an unsung hero.

The other aspect of the Mahabharata I hoped to develop is the deep wisdom and spiritual truths it contains. Though it is basically a story about a war, and gets extremely gory towards the end when even the heroes break every rule in the book, at its core is the Bhagavad Gita, which is the equivalent of the New Testament to Hindus. The Mahabharata is really unthinkable without it, and so one chapter is a mini Bhagavad Gita, whereas its wisdom, I hope, permeates the whole story.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Sharon: I believe that timing is essential. You might work as hard as you like, but sometimes a book just is not ready to meet the world. That might be due to the work itself, which is still not at its best, or on the market, or on agents and publishers perception of the market. There are trends in publishing, and my first novel was acquired just when a new interest in India was making itself felt in the book world. The time was right, and the book was a moderate success. A few years earlier, and it might not have been published at all.

A key to success, of course, were the publishing midwives who first discovered and fell in love with my first novel. I had a great agent and a fantastic editor who seemed to know more about the story than I did myself! She was amazing, and I’m happy to say we are still in touch.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Sharon: I’m a morning person, always have been! And terribly disorganised. In order to actually get my work finished, I decided, fairly early on, that I had to command myself to do all my writing early in the morning. When I’m creating a first draft, this might be at 4 am; when I’m revising, it might be at 6 am. But never later than 6. This means that when the day really begins my writing responsibility  is over and I can be as disorganised as I like. Early in the morning not only is the mind clear and awake and fruitful; there is also no danger of interruptions through the ringing of a phone or an unexpected visit. It’s absolutely the perfect time for me. Peripheral writerly tasks such as research or query writing can be done during rest of the day.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Sharon: Ask yourself the question: do you want to be a writer, or do you just want to be known as a writer? If it is the former, then put aside the thought of getting published; forget about name and fame and success and the millions you will make and what-have-you and just write the very best book you are capable of. When you have produced that book then — who knows?  All these other things may be given to you.

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SONS OF GODS – THE MAHABHARATA RETOLD, by Aruna Sharan is available now, exclusively from Amazon for download to Kindle or Kindle’s PC or mobile app. For more on Sharon Maas and her incredible body of work, find her online at her website, SharonMaas.co.uk.

5 Minutes Alone… With Trish Stewart

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Poet and novelist, Trish Stewart, debuts in wonderful form with the deeply philosophical, yet hilarious and poignant, TAKING LESSONS FROM ERNEST. AuthorScoop is fortunate to snare her right out of the starting gate for a look behind the story.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Trish: This is my first published fiction, but I believe AuthorScoop gets credit for my first published poetry in the Midnight Poetry feature.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Trish: TAKING LESSONS FROM ERNEST is about a young man named Eric Bastien; his job is unfulfilling, his girlfriend is controlling, his family has disowned him, and a loan shark is circling. Then, as a work day ends on a high, his love life hits the skids, and he gets the phone call from his estranged mother that changes everything. “Your father’s dead.”

Life hands Eric a great opportunity, an awkward family reunion, and an ultimatum — if he wants his inheritance, he has to take a road trip to see his father’s old Army buddy, Oliver. For most, it would be no problem. Hop in the car, placate the family, get your money: no problem. Then again, you have not met Eric, have you? Armed with his father’s journal and a first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, Eric decides to make amends to his family and get his life back on track. What he doesn’t expect is to have Ernest Hemingway’s ghost along for the ride. With intentions of helping Eric get it right, Hemingway manages to complicate the situation, resulting in an unforgettable road trip.

Help comes in many forms. In this case, it is Hemingway’s ghost who is determined to make Eric’s first draft at life a good one. With any luck, he’ll succeed before Eric loses a kneecap.

In all, it’s about making changes one never dreamed possible, and making amends even after it seems too late. Eric’s father had a plan; it’s up to Eric to find a way to fulfill it.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Trish: Oh so many people have contributed: my beta readers, members of the AW Poetry Forum, my family, and a great little group of cheerleaders I call friends. Whether it was tough love, honest critique, praise, or a shove from any or all of the above, it all helped keep me on track.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Trish: With a full time job, and a family, my writing time is “when I can”, but I always have preferred the wee hours of the morning when the house is quiet and the brain is fresh. It’s also ideal because my internal editor isn’t awake at those hours to judge and stifle me.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Trish: Don’t quit. Join a group of like minds either online or in your community, learn from the rejections but don’t let them beat you, read a lot, and practice. That last one is probably most important. Practice is so very important, whether you practice with poetry, short fiction, or novels. There is a reason this book took four major drafts; the story was fine, but I needed the practice in order to tell it properly.

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TAKING LESSONS FROM ERNEST is available now through the publisher and also for delivery or Kindle from Amazon.com. Find Trish Stewart on Facebook and get to know even more on her website, www.trishstewart-author.com.

5 Minutes Alone… With S.R. Johannes

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

S.R. Johannes‘ debut, UNTRACEABLE, charmed even the oft-curmudgeonly Kirkus reviewers to the very last page. YA suspense is a hot genre and to be hot in one of the most lively sectors of the industry is a fine thing indeed. And now we get to hear more on how it came to be, from the author herself.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

S.R. Johannes (Shelli): This is my debut unless you count the Glee essay I had accepted for 50$

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Shelli: UNTRACEABLE is a young adult wilderness thriller with a missing person, a kick butt heroine, unexpected twists, and of course – 2 hot boys

Grace grew up in the woods. When her forest ranger dad disappears on patrol, she fights town authorities, tribal officials, & nature to prove he’s alive. Torn between a hot boy and cute ex, she heads into the wilderness to find her dad. Soon, Grace is caught in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. It will take more than a compass and motorcycle for this tough heroine to save all she loves.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Shelli: My writing friends/partners. Without their candid feedback, my book would not be very good.

My husband’s support – even when I wanted to give up – he would not let me. No matter what rejections came in or who turned their back on me – he always stuck by me firm.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Shelli: Any time I get a break from kids, laundry, cooking, errands, PTA, brownies, soccer, cleaning, sleeping… Yeah that’s it.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Shelli: Don’t give up! This business is hard and only the ones who keep pushing forward make it – eventually.

Think of it this way – if you give up – you will never make it.

If you keep trying, it’s always possible.

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Hit Amazon.com for a bound or electronic copy of UNTRACEABLE today. S.R. Johannes also runs a lovely website. Just make a wish and click. She offers plenty of access via her social media page, and for more up-to-the-minute updates on Shelli and UNTRACEABLE, be sure to check out her blog.

5 Minutes Alone… With Karen A. Chase

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Karen A. Chase turned forty under perfectly wonderful circumstances (of her own devising) and logged the experience for everyone to enjoy and take to heart. We’re pleased to have her join us for a spell to tell us how it all came about.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Karen: When I was in elementary school, around the second grade, they had each student write a poem about anything they fancied. They gathered them together, printed them on half an 8.5×11 sheet, included all our names, bound them together with a two-prong clip and proudly announced we were being accepted into the school library as published poets. It was probably a ploy to get us to learn the dewey decimal system, but every one of us checked it out.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Karen: The general book description:
If I absolutely had to turn 40, I decided I could do it gracefully in Paris… for nearly 40 days. What began as a blog to communicate with friends and family, became a travel journal filled with over a month’s worth of detailed glimpses into my Paris adventures, each of which could be read in about 40 seconds. Entries also are married with my own photography, and I returned home to write longer stories that reflect upon my experiences with food, travel, photography, Parisians, writing and even love as it happened it Paris.

My take on the book:
Keeping the blog, and then compiling my first book, BONJOUR 40, has been quite lovely. It’s allowed me to share my fortieth birthday trip with friends, family, and now other women (or men) who may be reaching moments of celebration and wondering how to make it meaningful. That month in Paris was something I had longed to do, and the worst moment of fulfilling a dream is when it’s completed. Publishing my journal and book, means I get to relive the moments over and over again. I don’t want to lose those feelings of freedom, inspiration, appreciation, and Parisienne. So it’s been quite lovely to have the book, stories and pictures so I can hold onto it a little longer. It’s also a constant reminder to keep planning for another dream trip.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Karen: Well, first I have to define what success is to me, because that’s different for everyone. It’s a lot of love and joy in my life, deep friendships, loving family, always being up for and experiencing adventures, and just a little bit of cash in the bank to make things comfortable. That outlook is partly what has contributed to me feeling successful, regardless if my book sells 15 or 50,000 copies. I have that outlook because of my loving family who loves to travel. I have it because I have a few cherished friendships with warm and giving people, and I’m in a lovely relationship. Or maybe I feel successful because I’m Canadian, and we always hope we’ll find a way to make enough money to live somewhere warmer, and now I do.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Karen: I do my best research in the afternoon, and I do my best creative writing in bed in the morning. I tried NaNoWriMo, the November writing contest, a few years ago. I was just building my own design business at the time, and so I would get up early and write for two hours beginning at 5:30 am. The phone isn’t ringing and no one needs an email addressed at that hour, and so I like that time the best. But I usually need a little nap mid-afternoon to make up for the early morning.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Karen: Build a team around you. You will write alone, but it’s healthy to find trustworthy and kind professionals to edit (both developmental and copy editing), professionally publish, market, promote and format your work.  Also, pooh pooh advice from anyone who says you “have to do it this way,” or “you must do it that way.” The publishing opportunities are plentiful and rapidly changing right now. So just write, and take a little time to figure out how you want your words to reach people. Then rally your team and go do it.

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Karen’s website sports a handy page with all the clickables you need to get a copy of BONJOUR 40 for your very own. And follow her on Facebook and Twitter to find out more on her work and her life.

5 Minutes Alone… With Jon Reiner

Friday, October 28th, 2011

As the buzz builds for Jon Reiner‘s memoir, THE MAN WHO COULDN’T EAT, AuthorScoop is quite lucky to have snagged his sleeve and pinned him in place for ’5 Minutes Alone’. Or maybe we’re just bullies. Either way, what follows is a funny and interesting look at the man behind one of this year’s most well-received memoirs.

We’d like to thank him for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Jon: Not to diminish the triumph of my “adaptation” of Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the third grade, but it may be more interesting to your readers for me to describe my first “non-credit” for ghostwriting.  In my 20s, my first professional “opportunity” (i.e., unpaid) was to ghostwrite a Parade magazine cover story for then-First Lady Barbara Bush.  The subject matter was Mrs. Bush’s personal relationship to the White House as a resident and historical custodian.  I did not have the benefit of an interview, or even any background material, and I was given a 24-hour deadline in which to produce several thousand words that would sound like the First Lady’s to 50 million readers.   It was my first experience with unreasonable demand — or potentially notable opportunity, depending on how you looked at it.  I closed my eyes, imagined her standard outfit — blue dress, white hair, pearls the size of globe grapes — and conjured the voice and life of Barbara Bush.  Parade kept about three-quarters of my prose, verbatim, in the story.  Sorry, Barbara.  The secret is out.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Jon: It’s brilliant.  Just look at the cover; can’t you tell? THE MAN WHO COULDN’T EAT is a first-person memoir about a year in my life and the lives of my family members (February 2009 — February 2010) beginning with a medical emergency that nearly killed me in an instant, and the existential crisis that followed, triggered by the months in which I was sentenced to “Nothing By Mouth” — no food, no drink — and concluding with a complicated return to eating.  Is life worth living if something as essential and pleasurable as eating is taken away?  Food lent itself literally and metaphorically as the creative structure on which to hang the story, and it was an exceptionally rich vein to mine.  The story started as a feature piece I wrote for Esquire that — in the ultimate irony — won the 2010 James Beard Foundation Award.  I’m the anti-food food writer. It’s a niche, and I’m the only member.  We always have a quorum.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Jon: If we’re discussing success on the page, then more than anything else, I would credit other writers and their books.  I imagine most writers would say the same.  I’ve taught writing at the college level and am the product of a graduate school English department, but nothing in the classroom compares to the influence of reading and considering the work of other writers.  The awareness also gets more profound, you get more attuned to it, the longer you’re at it.  Everyone’s got their own favorites, but there’s nothing like the relationship between a writer and a reader/writer exacted through the power of a compelling story.  Regarding my success on the tennis court, I credit John McEnroe.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Jon: I am a stay-at-home dad to two school-age boys, so my writing time is dictated by the boys’ entirely unyielding schedules.  I write when they’re at school, and I don’t like having to cut-off at precisely 2:00 p.m., especially if I’m in a productive rhythm.  I’ve got no flexibility in the matter and typically resolve to come back to the writing after my wife and I have cleaned-up dinner and gotten the boys to bed.  Sometimes, that makes for very late writing nights, which is not great for sleep.  My preference is to start writing as soon as I wake up, but it’s hard to do that during the school year.  I write when I can and where I can.  I’ve had some of my most concentrated creative moments on the subway.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Jon: To unpublished writers I would simply say, “Don’t give up,” trite as that may sound.  Look at me; it took me 25 years to get published, or as my Esquire editor Mark Warren put it, “You almost had to die to get published.”  We all suffer for our art, but did mine have to be so literal?  All that time I had written — fiction, drama, screenplays, essays — and gotten close, receiving some exceptionally — but also frustratingly — encouraging rejections.  One comment on my previous manuscript was, “This is a powerhouse of a novel, which is all the more reason that I’m sorry we are declining to publish your book.”  Eventually, when I was presented with a life-changing opportunity to write my story, I was prepared and excited to say yes and believe in my ability to produce a quality manuscript.  Even though I had failed for years to break through, and was often discouraged about my situation, psychologically I never quit on myself.  I never stopped believing that I would become a published author, or that I had the talent to do so.  You must have confidence, even arrogance, regarding your ability.  It’s a bold action to write a story and send it out for the public to accept or reject.  Writing is not a sport for weaklings.  To published writers I would say nothing.  If you’re already published, you don’t need to hear advice from me.

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THE MAN WHO COULDN’T EAT is available in your local bookstore and pretty much in any way a that book can be buy-able. Do it however you like, just do it. And check in with Jon Reiner online at his website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Another 5 Minutes… With Jennie Bentley

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

AuthorScoop first met with the prolific and talented Jennie Bentley back in June of 2010. (Don’t let the nom de plume fool you, this is a woman of several names and a veritable avalanche of ideas to keep her readers – and her mailman, presumably – very busy.) It’s especially nice to welcome her back again on the occasion of her first appearance on The New York Times bestseller list.

We’d like to thank her for coming back to once again take part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: So your latest novel has launched you up to the next level. Tell us a little bit about FLIPPED OUT.

Jennie: It’s the fifth book in the Do It Yourself series. It’s been a year since Avery Baker inherited her Aunt Inga’s house in Waterfield, Maine, and started renovating houses with her new boyfriend, Derek Ellis. Over the course of that time, they’ve worked on four: Aunt Inga’s second empire Victorian, a haunted mid-century ranch, a carriage house, and a 1783 center chimney Colonial on an island off the coast. Now it’s time for #5, a small 1930s cottage in Waterfield Village, the historic district. The house belongs to Tony Micelli, ace on-air reporter for Portland’s Channel 8 News, who also happens to be the fiancé of Derek’s ex-wife Melissa. And as an added bonus, the renovations are being filmed for a home renovation TV program.

But when they walk into the house to start work on the second day of filming, they find Tony dead on the kitchen floor, stabbed multiple times with a screwdriver. Filming and renovations are put on hold while the police investigate, but in the end, it’s up to Avery to figure out what happened before the TV crew leaves, possibly taking the murderer with them.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about finding out that you’d made The New York Times Bestseller List.

Jennie: There’s not a lot to say about it, really. My editor called on Wednesday afternoon to say we’d hit the list. I jumped up and down and squealed, bringing both the kids and the dog running. And then I called everyone I knew and posted the news to all my social media. Other than hitting the #1 spot, the entire New York Times list is the pinnacle of achievement for a writer, and it’s super-exciting to get there.

AuthorScoop: Are you the type who avoids her reviews or do you peek between your fingers to see who’s saying what about your work?

Jennie: I don’t usually go seeking out reviews, but if I come across one, I’ll read it. If it’s good, I’m happy. If it’s bad, I do my best to find some reason to laugh. Overall, my reviews have been pretty good—thank you very much to everyone who’s ever reviewed one of my books!—but once in a while I get a doozy. The first time it happened I was devastated. It was for book 2, Spackled and Spooked, comparing it unfavorably to book 1 (Fatal Fixer-Upper), and I was sure my career was over.

It didn’t turn out to be, and I learned that I can’t take bad reviews to heart. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like my work, and who feels compelled to tell the world how awful it is. It’s unfortunate that that person’s opinion might sway someone else from trying the books, someone who might actually have liked them, but there’s nothing I can do about it. And as long as I’ve done my best, and written the best book I can, I just have to accept that there’s going to be readers out there who don’t love my books the way I do.

I think that as writers, it’s extremely important that we realize that our books can and must stand on their own. When someone doesn’t like our books, it’s no reflection on us. We’re separate from our books, just as they’re separate from us. If we can just get that straight, we’ll save ourselves a ton of grief down the line.

AuthorScoop: How has writing well-received fiction changed the way you read?

Jennie: LOL! I’m not sure writing well-received fiction has changed anything. Writing at all has changed the way I read in that I can’t turn off the internal editor when I read other people’s books these days. I’m forever rewriting their prose in my head, ticking off any errors I come across, making note of how I would have done things differently—or just writhing with envy because what I’m reading is so far superior to anything I could have written myself.

AuthorScoop: What’s next for Jennie Bentley?

Jennie: DIY mystery #6 will be coming next year. It’s currently without a title or a release date, but it’s written, and given the delivery date for the manuscript, I’m envisioning a release date sometime in late summer/early fall of 2012. The working title has been Secrets and Small Spaces: Avery and Derek take on the renovation of a condo, and when the neighborhood busybody is found dead, Avery discovers that everyone in the building has something to hide. The trick becomes sifting through the various secrets to determine which is worth killing for.

We’re in negotiations for books 7 and 8, so there may yet be more Avery to come beyond 2012. If things work out, the next book will probably be a Christmas mystery for 2013.

As for the other me, I have four mysteries in an eBook-only series out currently, about a real estate agent in Nashville. The fifth – and so far last – in the series will be coming in December. And starting next summer, I’m branching out into romance. I’ve just agreed to write four books in a futuristic romance series for Entangled Publishing, about the crew of a smuggling ship and their adventures in a galaxy far, far away. The first book is tentatively called Fortune’s Hero, and will be coming in July 2012, assuming I can get it written and delivered in time. All those books are/will be published under the name Jenna Bennett.

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FLIPPED OUT is available now and there’s a quick clickable route to the DIY series through her website, where you can see the array of her literary goodies on display. And keep up with Jennie on Facebook and Twitter X2.

5 Minutes Alone… With Jean Sagendorph

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Debut children’s author, Jean Sagendorph, has launched a warm-hearted and gorgeous new picture book, STARRY NIGHT, HOLD ME TIGHT, and AuthorScoop gets an early peek behind the scenes.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Jean: STARRY NIGHT, HOLD ME TIGHT is my first official book. I’ve created and sold concepts for dozens of books, many of which were New York Times bestsellers and award winners.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Jean: Starry Night, Hold Me Tight is a picture book for young children. The story centers around a baby polar bear and his mother. It’s meant to illustrate a mothers love for her child in such a way that a child can appreciate all that is done for them and with them as they explore their new world. It’s a quiet book, meant to be read at bedtime.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Jean: I worked at United Media/United Feature Syndicate for over 15 years. At UM/UFS I worked with Charles Schulz (Peanuts), Scott Adams (Dilbert) and of course Jane and Robin of Fancy Nancy – talk about learning from the masters!

Kim Siebold illustrated the Starry Night book. I can’t say enough good things about her. Kim is a complete joy to work with and her illustrations are so beautiful.

All that said, the person who fanned the flame was Sid Goldberg of United Feature Syndicate. I had the good fortune of working with him for many years. He would occasionally send me emails (in all caps!) proclaiming, commanding and announcing “YOU ARE A WRITER! YOU MUST WRITE! GO WRITE!”. Considering that he managed some of the biggest and brightest writers and was so demanding in his notes, I paid attention. When Sid passed away, I was afraid that I would falter without his fire. I didn’t, I still hear him in my head and I see his emails in my mind. I will be forever grateful to him. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Jean: Oddly, I think I’m a midday sort of gal. In the morning I’m too preoccupied arranging a schedule of everything that needs to get done during the day and at night I’m too wired thinking about what I’ve forgotten or failed to do. I’m haunted by chores!

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Jean: Embrace people who are honest with you, believe in you, and motivate you. On the days when you don’t believe in yourself, you can believe in their belief – sort of like having a savings account full of sunny days. Read Susan Rabiner’s “Thinking Like Your Editor” twice.

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STARRY NIGHT, HOLD ME TIGHT is ready to sweeten your own family’s bedtime rituals, or obviously would make a lovely gift in the upcoming holiday season. Check it out on Jean Sagendorph’s website and ‘Like’ it on Facebook while you’re at it.

5 Minutes Alone… With Kevin Craig

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Author, poet, playwright, Kevin Craig, hit the shelves and ereaders this summer with his debut novel, SUMMER ON FIRE. We’ve snagged him off his running pace to hear a bit more on the when, where, why, and how it all started.

We’d like to thank him for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Kevin: I think I may have been in the right place at the right time. I went to one of my first Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) breakfast meetings and the editor of the Globe & Mail’s Facts and Arguments was the speaker. After the meeting, I went home and submitted a piece I had recently written. I heard back within the week that it was accepted. It was a big boost to have my first piece in a national newspaper, but I also knew it would be downhill from there.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Kevin: My latest release is my debut novel. It’s a contemporary young adult (adult crossover). Summer on Fire began life as my 2003 Nanowrimo contribution. But I did NOT reach my 50,000 word goal. Nor did I finish the novel right away. I put it aside after Nanowrimo and didn’t revisit it until about 2006, when I began a critique group out of my home. The group (Works in Progress, or W.I.P.) was a big influence on Summer on Fire. Not only did they give me the boost I needed to complete it, but they also took one of my minor characters and put her into the forefront of the story. Or, rather, they convinced me to put her into the forefront. I’m glad I did. Now I hear from so many people that Ms. Halverton is their favourite character in the novel. It’s a bit odd for everybody’s favourite character in a young adult novel to be an old lady, but I’ll take it.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Kevin: There are a few factors that I would point to as contributors to my success. In short, they are; my wife, my writing group (WCDR), Roald Dahl, JD Salinger and Dr. Seuss. My wife always supported my love of writing, even when I fought against it…thinking I wasn’t worthy of such a lofty pastime. My writing group has been an immense source of support. I joined the WCDR in 2003. Before joining, I had no credits and I didn’t deem myself worthy to call myself a writer. Since joining, I’ve made all sorts of connections and lifelong friendships with writers, editors, publishers, poets, etc. Virtually all of my writing successes could be attributed to my participation in the WCDR. They changed my life. Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl are two writers who made me want to do what they do at a very early age. Dr. Seuss gave me a love of lyricism and Roald Dahl made me realize that you could write a story with those same words that are so much fun to roll around on your tongue. He seemed able to take the fun magical language that Dr. Seuss created with mere words and turn it into stories capable to taking the reader on great journeys. When I was six or seven years old, I wanted to be the next Dahl. I wanted to have fun with Dr. Seuss’s world of words. And J.D. Salinger…he shone a light on dialogue that never ever dimmed out. He put words into his characters’ mouths that were perfect and perfectly delightful. When I found him, I knew I wanted to write character driven stories and have fun with the things my characters said. He’s also the reason I became a playwright. Salinger’s dialogue writing was so amazing to me that I wanted to get rid of all the chunky words surrounding it and just focus on dialogue for a while. Somewhere along the road I realized that becoming a playwright and focusing solely on dialogue would come in handy when I went back to writing novels. I actually decided in this past year that it takes a village to raise a writer. And I’ve been lucky to have a truly amazing village behind me.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Kevin: I like to write as soon as I wake up…very early in the morning. I do write at different times and enjoy doing it, but for me the best time to write is before the rest of the world is awake. That is MY time. I always believed that giving yourself a dedicated time to write—even if it’s just an hour a day—is a way of affirming that you are officially a writer.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Kevin: Whenever I am asked this question I usually give the same answer. Sit down and write. Apparently, though, there is a new craze sweeping the writing world. Standing and writing. Although I don’t think I’ll try it myself, I know a lot of writer friends who have switched to the standing desk and treadmill combination. I don’t think I’d be able to concentrate enough to get my feet walking at the same time my hands were typing. It sounds like punishment to me. SO…Sit. Write. I know it’s weak advice, but for me it’s all I needed to hear. I thought there was a secret handshake or a magical spell that made one a writer. You had to reach certain platitudes before you could take on the title of writer. But that’s a lie that some people tell themselves for unknown reasons. Well, maybe not entirely unknown. It may have a lot to do with being insecure. But truly…all you have to do is sit down and write. This is the key to the door that opens and allows you to be a writer. Sit. Write. (And another quick piece of advice—ALWAYS READ. READ EVERYTHING!)

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Find Kevin at his website and on Facebook and follow along at his blog to keep up-to-date on SUMMER ON FIRE and new works from this very, very busy writer.

5 Minutes Alone… With D.B. Henson

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Debut novelist, D.B. Henson, has come to print by the new road – through rising to the top of self-published Kindle titles. Her mystery, DEED TO DEATH, won readers and the attention of one of the biggest New York publishing houses to go on to its paperback release this summer.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

D.B.: My novel, DEED TO DEATH, is actually my first published work.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

D.B.: At the opening of DEED TO DEATH, the main character, Toni Matthews, is living an almost perfect life in Nashville, Tennessee.  She’s a top-selling real estate agent engaged to successful architect, Scott Chadwick.  Toni’s world is turned upside down when Scott plunges to his death from the top floor of a building under construction, and she’s forced to bury him on their planned wedding day.  Dealing with her loss becomes even harder when the medical examiner rules the death a suicide.  Toni knows Scott would never take his own life. Determined to find the truth, she begins her own investigation.  As she begins to uncover a series of dark secrets, Toni realizes her own life is in jeopardy.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

D.B.: I owe my success to all the Kindle readers who took a chance on an unknown author.  Before I signed with Simon & Schuster, I self-published DEED TO DEATH on Amazon.  Thanks to the recommendations of readers on the Kindle forum, the novel was named a Best of 2010 Kindle Customer Favorite and went on to sell over 100,000 copies.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

D.B.: I tend to stay up later than I should.  A lot of my writing is done after midnight and in the wee hours of the morning.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

D.B.: I believe that writers should read everything they can in the genre in which they wish to write.  They should analyze their favorite novels. Study the sentence structure, the pacing, and the characters.  I feel that’s the best way to learn how to construct a good story.

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Follow D.B. Henson on Twitter and learn more about the author and her work at her website, www.dbhenson.com.

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Another 5 Minutes… With Tasha Alexander

Friday, September 30th, 2011

It’s been almost a year since we first met with Tasha Alexander. We’re fortunate to have her back with us just shortly before, A CRIMSON WARNING, her next historical mystery in the Lady Emily series, hits the shelves.

We’d like to thank her for coming back to once again take part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: We’re hearing a bit of buzz in advance of the release of your next book. Will you tell us about A CRIMSON WARNING?

Tasha: Everyone has a secret, something they’d do just about anything to keep quiet. I wanted to explore what people do when that one thing they want hidden is about to be exposed. In A CRIMSON WARNING, our villain is targeting London society, splashing houses with red paint before going public with the residents’ deepest, darkest secrets.

AuthorScoop: Globe-trotting for research has always lent a richness to your work, but now you’ve got both personal and professional reasons to hop the Atlantic. Tell us three great things about being home in two places and one bad thing about it.

Tasha:Three great things:
1. Having access to two amazing world-class cities is unbeatable, especially for a theatre-lover like me.
2. I get to have Chicago hot dogs and English scampi and chips. Just not at the same time….
3. I generally have no idea what time it is (or what time zone I’m in).

One bad:
1. The suitcase never seems to get unpacked.

AuthorScoop: Historical fiction has built a platform for your career. Are there other genres that pull your creative strings?

Tasha: Historical fiction has always been my favorite, but every once in a while I toy with the idea of writing a contemporary novel. It would be a relief not to have to worry about anachronisms.

AuthorScoop: How has writing well-received fiction changed the way you read?

Tasha: I’m very protective of my reading, and don’t like to pick apart or analyze other people’s books. I read because I love it–not because I want to be a critic or an editor. But it can sometimes be difficult to completely keep the writer part of my brain separate from the reading part.

AuthorScoop: What’s next for Tasha Alexander?

Tasha: I’ve finished the first draft of my book for next year, which takes Emily to Venice. I wrote most of it while holed up in an apartment in a 14th century palazzo and am really, really excited about the story. In it, Emily reconnects with her childhood nemesis and solves a mystery that’s anchored as much in the Renaissance as it is in the 1890s.

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For more information on Tasha and her books, have a look at all the goodies on her website www.tashaalexander.com. And be on the lookout for, A CRIMSON WARNING, at your nearest bookstore.

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5 Minutes Alone… With Susyn Reeve

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Susyn Reeve joins us for a little look within an exercise in looking within. Her latest book, THE INSPIRED LIFE: UNLEASHING YOUR MIND’S CAPACITY FOR JOY is available now and here’s a little background on what’s in store for readers.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Susyn: My very first publication credit was on a paper that I collaborated on for an American Psychological Association Conference.  It was based on a Community Organization Model to provide health care in Southern Appalachia. I was a senior at The Ohio State University and had worked on the project.  As I write about this, I think it would be interesting to re-visit this article that was written in 1971 when I certainly didn’t consider myself an author.  My first book was published in 2003 – CHOOSE PEACE AND HAPPINESS:  A 52-WEEK GUIDE, by Red Wheel Weiser.  After I wrote the book I was often asked how long it took to write and my response was, “Twenty years of not believing I could and nine month once I believed I could!”

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Susyn: I am very excited about my new book, THE INSPIRED LIFE:  UNLEASHING YOUR MIND’S CAPACITY FOR JOY.  As I wrote it, I remembered that as a teen I had written in my journal, “What would the world be like if everyone loved themselves?”  Reflecting on my life I see how my exploration of responding to this question has in-formed my personal and professional life.  THE INSPIRED LIFE is a map – a guidebook – filled with stories, information and practices to illuminate the path for readers to live a more fulfilling, peaceful and love-filled life.  Keeping in mind that our relationship with ourselves is the blueprint for all the relationships in our life, THE INSPIRED LIFE, is a clear testament to the possibility alive in every moment to say, Yes to your inspired life vision.  In addition this book serves as an invitation to join The Inspiration Nation – an ever-growing and evolving community committed to living life on purpose – saying, Yes to love, kindness and compassion.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Susyn: My family and friends are my cheerleaders and it is their love and support that has served as the wind beneath my wings.  At this time in my life my grandchildren inspire me to be the best me I can be.  In addition I have been blessed with having great teachers from Mrs. Milenko in 2nd grade, to Andy Schwebel in college and then Joseph Campbell, Jose Silva, don Miguel Ruiz, Robert Fritz, Jean Houston and Katherine Woodward Thomas.  My current work on www.Self-Esteem-Experts would not be possible without the love, support and partnership of Joan Breiner who is the co-author of The Inspired Life.  And my thousands of clients throughout the years have been a constant source of inspiration.  Their willingness to invite me into their lives is as they journey from darkness into the light is a sacred experience.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Susyn: I have no particular time that I write.  For the past 2½ I have done some writing in the morning that serves two purposes:  it is part of my daily spiritual practice and becomes my Daily Inspiration Messages and Blog posts.   I have found that it is not the time of day that generates my best writing but rather when I open my heart and allow the words to flow through me I am the most articulate and direct.  It is as though I hear the words in my mind and they follow a direct path to my fingers.  My computer keyboard becomes a piano keyboard and my words are the music.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Susyn: Allow your voice to be expressed.  When I was writing Choose Peace and Happiness I got to a chapter on Prayer.  I gathered my books about prayer, printed articles I’d found on the internet and carried all these resources up to my bedroom and spread them on the bed.  I began reading, wanting to make sure that whatever I wrote was accurate and precise.  Within ten minutes I fell asleep!  When I woke up, I thought, ‘I’m not writing an academic treatise on prayer.  I know about prayer from my personal experience, from my training as an InterFaith Minister and from my clients.  Write about what you know.’  And that’s exactly what I did.  So I say to new or unpublished writers, give yourself permission to express yourself.  When resistance and blocks on your path arise, stay focused on your North Star and use the obstacle as a stepping stone to strengthen your commitment to live your inspired life.

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THE INSPIRED LIFE is available now, so click away! And for more information, Susyn & Co. are available at her website and blog. On Facebook, find both Susyn and her book, and keep up-to-date with her most recent tweets on Twitter.

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5 Minutes Alone… With Gretchen McNeil

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

A little birdie told AuthorScoop, way back in June, to be on the lookout for Gretchen McNeil‘s YA chiller, POSSESS. Do listen to little birdies. They steer you South for the winter and all sorts of good stuff. Today, POSSESS hit bookshelves everywhere and we’ve got a few minutes of Gretchen’s time to get a bit more insight into the flutter around this new release.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Gretchen: Actually, POSSESS! I only started writing about four years ago. I spent my last career incarnation as an opera singer.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Gretchen: POSSESS is a YA horror/paranormal about a 15-year-old named Bridget Liu who discovers not only that she has the power to communicate with and banish demons, but that this power might be tied to the murder of her father.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Gretchen: My mother, who as a hard-working single parent always told me that I could do and be whatever I wanted. Couple that with a very, very vivid imagination and voilá!

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Gretchen: Night before bed, usually in the 9pm-11pm range. I need to spend the day thinking about what I’m going to write before I knock it out.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Gretchen: There’s no finish line to this race. When you’re unagented, to you think “If I can ONLY get an agent.” Once you land one, you think “If I can ONLY get a book deal.” Once that’s signed you think, “If I can ONLY have great sales.” At every level there’s a new challenge, a new set of pressures. Be prepared for that.

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No need to wait, the time is now. POSSESS is waiting for you for electronic or paper-and-ink delivery, or duck into your local bookseller and snag a copy. For more on Gretchen McNeil, have a look at her website and blog, and for a good case of the giggles, catch her on Twitter to see what she’s up to at any given moment.

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Another 5 Minutes… With Leslie Tentler

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Leslie Tentler joined us in February to roll out her debut novel, MIDNIGHT CALLER. It’s sequel, and second in the Chasing Evil series, was in her back pocket and now it’s launching this week. And lucky for us, she remembered that we like a little insider information.

We’d like to thank her for coming back to once again take part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: So, we hear you’re shaking up the standard trilogy format a bit with your “Chasing Evil” series? How so?

Leslie: Traditionally, most book series focus on the same set of characters, or in some genres, a secondary character in one book will take the leading role in the next book, and so on.

My publisher wanted more of a loosely based trilogy, and the idea came up that each book would feature a brand new cast, with the tie-in being that one of the main characters in each story would be an agent working for the FBI’s fictional Violent Crimes Unit (VCU). The VCU is the unit Trevor Rivette worked for in my first book, MIDNIGHT CALLER, and the newer book, MIDNIGHT FEAR, features Reid Novak, a profiler who works for the same unit.

So, while each cast of characters is largely different, the stories all share a similar theme: dark investigations into serial killers as well as some romantic entanglement for the agent as a secondary storyline.

AuthorScoop: Tell us a little about your new release, MIDNIGHT FEAR.

Leslie: MIDNIGHT FEAR will be out August 1 and is set in Washington, D.C., and the Northern Virginia horse country. Caitlyn Cahill, the story’s heroine, is a former D.C. socialite who worked with the FBI two years earlier to capture her serial-killer brother. Now living outside of the District’s spotlight, Caitlyn is residing on a rural horse farm where she runs an equine therapy program for children. Reid is forced to once again rend the peace Caitlyn has found when a copycat killer emerges, bent on duplicating her brother’s crimes.

When Reid and Caitlyn initially encountered one another in the first investigation, there were feelings between them, good and bad, that were left unaddressed. For one, Reid pressured Caitlyn into cooperating, and even though handing over evidence incriminating her brother was the right thing to do, it set off a chain of events that pretty much decimated Caitlyn’s life and prominent political family. In the two years that have passed since her brother’s incarceration, Reid has also faced his own personal crisis.

I really love the idea of a former socialite hoping to somehow right her brother’s wrongs by opening a non-profit horse therapy program. Caitlyn has a good heart, and she’s a strong character who’s been through a lot and managed to survive.

AuthorScoop: Have the rigors of writing back-to-back thrillers changed the way you read?

Leslie: Yes – I didn’t read for a long time! While the books were being written, I pretty much gave up reading due to time constraints and eyestrain problems caused by too much time in front of the computer. Now that all three novels are completed, I am starting to read again, albeit via audio books to give my eyes a rest.

I’m a very eclectic reader: I just finished listening to “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, and I plan to download Craig Ferguson’s autobiographical “American on Purpose” to my iPod next. I also want to read (i.e., listen to) the latest book in Chelsea Cain’s thriller series on Portland detective Archie Sheridan.

AuthorScoop: And with the hindsight of a serial novelist, what new advice would you offer to aspiring writers?

Leslie: I feel like I’ve learned so much over the course of these books, and yet in many ways I still feel like the same “newbie” writer with so much more to learn. First, especially for genre writers, try to plan your book with a series in mind. It seems that more and more publishers want them over “one off” singular novels.

Secondly, approach writing as a business. Writers can be starry-eyed daydreamers by nature (hey, it’s why we can build good stories from our imaginations), but be aware that once you land the agent and the book deal, it really does become a business with your ability to deliver at its center. I think unpublished authors become so focused on polishing that one book, making it absolutely perfect as you have to do in order to attract an agent, that it’s easy to fail to look beyond that one book and think about where you really want all of this to go.

AuthorScoop: What’s next for Leslie Tentler?

Leslie: I wish I knew. For the first time in my life, I’m really taking it one day at a time. I’m currently tied up with promotional work for MIDNIGHT FEAR, and I’m also anticipating editor revisions to the third and final book in the “Chasing Evil” trilogy in the very near future. That book will be out early next year.

In the meantime, I’ve been revisiting a manuscript I was working on prior to selling the current trilogy, revising several scenes and writing in some new ones. But right now I’m mostly taking a bit of a breather and figuring out what I want to do next.

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More on Leslie Tentler and her exciting new trilogy is just a click away at her website where you’ll find her Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as links to get the first two of the Chasing Evil series into your hot little hands.

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5 Minutes Alone… With Michael Harvey

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Michael Harvey‘s work has pulled in some high praise from heavy-hitters in the thriller sector. His fourth book, WE ALL FALL DOWN, has just been released and we snagged his sleeve, for just a minute or two, or maybe even five, to hear a quick take on the state of things from the man himself.

We’d like to thank him for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Michael: The Chicago Way (Knopf, 2007)

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Michael: Historically, crime novels have reflected the uncertainty of the times in which they were written. We All Fall Down is an attempt to do exactly that. The novel profiles a biological weapons attack on the city of Chicago. When a light bulb falls in a subway tunnel, it releases a pathogen with the potential to kill millions. While the mayor postures, people begin to die, especially on the Chicago’s west side. Hospitals become morgues. L trains are converted into rolling hearses. Finally, the government acts, sealing off entire sections of the city – but are they keeping people out or in? Meanwhile, PI Michael Kelly hunts for the people who have poisoned his city. It’s a search that takes him into the tangled underworld of Chicago’s west side gangs and the even more frightening world of black biology – an elite discipline emerging from the nation’s premier labs, where scientists play God and will stop at nothing to preserve their secrecy.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Michael: My family and friend, especially my wife, Mary Frances who is my first reader and an honest critic. I also worked for the better part of a decade with Chicago’s Bill Kurtis — writing, shooting and producing documentaries. Bill taught me a lot about the craft of story-telling and has been a major influence.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Michael: I usually write in the morning..maybe 6 to 11. Sometimes I rewrite in the afternoon. There are, however, no set rules.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Michael: Read good writers. And keep writing. Don’t worry if you hit a wall with plot, character or both. The story is in there somewhere. If you struggle with it long enough, you’ll find it. Trust the process… and believe in yourself. Finally, have fun.

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WE ALL FALL DOWN is hot off the presses and the ‘Books’ link at michaelharveybooks.com will get you reading just slightly later than if you dropped what you are doing and headed to the bookstore right now. You can check in with Michael at FaceBook and Twitter, to keep up on the latest, as well.

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Another 5 Minutes… With Gregg Hurwitz

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Everyone loves a success story, and doubly so when the bearer of good news is, himself, a good egg. Author, Gregg Hurwitz, visited with us nearly two years ago, and now he’s back with news of his latest suspense novel, released this month from St. Martin’s Press, and a preview of his upcoming project that’s a new take on an old nemesis.

We’d like to thank him for taking the time, once again, to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: Back in the summer of 2009, we talked about TRUST NO ONE. That one seemed to have gone over very well with fans and critics alike. Was it a milestone book for you?

Gregg: Very much so. It was the first in my transition away from action-intensive books toward Hitchcockian suspense, which really characterizes my last three and especially YOU’RE NEXT. These stories are about the ways that intense pressure effects individuals and the relationships they fight to maintain when the world starts coming apart.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Gregg: I was inspired to write YOU’RE NEXT by a scene that forced its way into my head one night when I couldn’t sleep. A four-year-old boy is dropped off at an unknown playground by his father and told to get out of the station wagon. His father seems nervous and the boy notices a drop of blood on his father’s sleeve. He gets out and plays on the playground, and as morning turns to afternoon, it slowly dawns on him that he’s been abandoned. That was the only thing I knew about the book, but I wanted to figure out what happened to that kid once he grew up, and what reason was behind his father’s abandoning him there. I was fascinated by that boy, thinking about what he would be like as a man. When we next see Mike Wingate, he’s an adult with a wife and daughter of his own. Mysterious figures emerge who seem to know something about Mike’s past, and begin to threaten his family, very indirectly at first, and then with increasing brashness. And the book is really about the lengths one man will go to to protect his family–when it goes beyond protecting what he has built, and all that is left is protecting who he loves.

AuthorScoop: Has discovering your groove for well-received thriller fiction changed the way you read?

Gregg: I don’t think so. I am a writer because of how much I’ve always loved reading. I know some writers say they can’t read when they’re writing their books, but that seems like hell to me — I can’t imagine going for a stretch of time without a book in my hand or on the night stand. I still love nothing more than losing myself in a good plot and when I do, I marvel like a reader, not a writer.

AuthorScoop: With your reputation secured by praise from the likes of David Baldacci and the notoriously grumpy Kirkus reviewers, what advice would you give aspiring novelists?

Gregg: Don’t write drafts of sixteen novels. Write sixteen drafts of one novel.

AuthorScoop: A little birdie told AuthorScoop that you’ve only just announced your next project. Will you do it again here for our readers?

Gregg: I’ve just announced my new comic book project. Ladies and gentlemen…meet the Penguin.

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YOU’RE NEXT will be easily spotted on the shelf at your local bookstore, or if you can’t wait that long, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and Indiebound will be happy to get you reading in no time.

And keep tabs on Gregg Hurwitz day in and day out (really, he doesn’t seem to mind) on FaceBook, Twitter, and in more depth and Technicolor at his website, gregghurwitz.net.

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5 Minutes Alone… With TJ Forrester

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

TJ Forrester‘s debut novel, MIRACLES, INC., has enjoyed a warm critical reception for its unique setup and effective – ahem – execution, and his current personal adventure is of the stuff that will keep fans checking in for updates. AuthorScoop was lucking enough to draw a few minutes of his time to learn a bit about both.

We’d like to thank him for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

TJ: My first publication was a short story titled “The Glove.” The story was published in UpDare?, then reprinted in the Storyteller, where it was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

TJ: My latest release is my first release (Miracles, Inc. / Simon & Schuster / Feb. 1, 2011), and it’s a novel about Vernon Oliver, a young man who wants to make a better life for his lover. When his employer, the mysterious Miriam Mackenzie, asks him to lead a scam faith healing business, he quickly accepts. His climb to the top is swift and so his fall, a plunge that takes him straight to death row. It is there, in a Florida prison, that he writes his story.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

TJ: Stubbornness, I suppose, is one of my best assets. It kept me writing, even when an early mentor did his best to convince me I had no chance at becoming a professional.

These days my stubbornness keeps me hiking. I’m attempting to walk the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to New York, where I will turn right and hopefully walk onto the set of the Colbert Report as a guest author. I’m 1,000 miles into my hike, still no word from the show, but I’m not about to give up. If anyone is interesting in following along, I blog this adventure on my personal website.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

TJ: I do my best writing after I wake. Sometimes I split up my sleep, so I wake more times a day.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

TJ: A. Read good writing.

B. Write every day.

C. Never give up.

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Get thee to a bookstore or a computer, charge card in hand, to get your copy of MIRACLES, INC and find out more about TJ Forrester and his walking feet (and feat) on his website and blog.

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5 Minutes Alone… With Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Authors, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, first put their heads together in collaboration on their debut novel, I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING. Now they’re back with a brand new release, THE D WORD, so we’ve hit them up for one more joint effort to bring us a little bit more on how it all came to be.

We’d like to thank them for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Liz & Lisa: I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING is our first novel. It all started in college when we said, “Hey maybe we should write a book.” And it may have taken ten years, but we wrote it! (Note: never give up!)

IHWSH is the story of sisters Kate and Kelly who lead very different lives (Kate cannot find a lasting relationship to save her life and Kelly isn’t sure her so-called lasting relationship is the right thing) yet they’re both searching for the same thing – a happy ending. Through a series of hardships and self-doubt, they realize they were looking for happiness in all of the wrong places. It’s a novel for anyone who ever let their insecurities get the best of them. And we’re excited to announce that it’s being re-released on June 14th as an e-book with a brand spankin’ new cover along with our new book The D Word.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Liz & Lisa: THE D WORD is the story of Jordan Daniels and Elle Ryan who thought their lives would become less complicated when they walked away from their respective relationships one year ago. But instead they find themselves vying for a relationship with the same divorced man. You’ll walk in the shoes of Jordan and Elle as they discover that sometimes you’re not that different from the person who makes you feel the most insecure. We’re humbled that author Laura Dave calls it sassy, smart and highly enjoyable and author Amy Hatvany calls “thoughtful and witty.”

THE D WORD was published as an e-book on June 14th!

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Liz & Lisa: Believing in ourselves, taking rejection in stride (not always easy to do!) and relying on the expertise of successful authors who’ve been gracious enough to give us advice.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Liz & Lisa: Lisa does her best writing in the wee hours of the morning before her four-month-old baby wakes up. The house is silent, the coffee pot is all hers and no one cares if she’s in her pajamas.

Liz does her best writing late at night after her kids have gone to bed. The house is silent, the desk where she writes is all hers (it’s located in what she calls the grand central station of her house) and no one cares if she’s in her pajamas.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Liz & Lisa: To build relationships with published authors you admire. Who can give you invaluable information not only on how they found success, but also on their take on the publishing world.

Also, don’t let the rejection get you down.  Take the criticism and look at your WIP objectively-try to benefit from it!  But at the same time, always stay true to yourself and your vision.

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Liz and Lisa keep the chick-lit world up-to-date on their adventures at chicklitisnotdead.com (where you’ll find handy links to their two books) and in short little nibbles on Twitter.

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5 Minutes Alone… With Alissa Johnson

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Author, Alissa Johnson, is fresh out of the gate with her new release from Berkley Sensation, NEARLY A LADY, but we caught up with her for a quick chat before she was off and running with her latest tale of romance and intrigue.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Alissa: My first was the historical romance, AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT.  Released in 2008, it was part of my Providence Series.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Alissa: My latest is NEARLY A LADY.  Out on June 7th, it’s the start of a regency-set series from Berkley Sensation.   From the back cover—

After the death of her father, Winnefred taught herself to live on a pauper’s allowance—until a charming visitor promises her the funds that had been stolen from her through the years.  But Freddie isn’t comfortable with the trappings of money—or the attentions of a stranger from London…

Lord Gideon Haverston was expecting to be greeted as a hero by the tough young woman his stepmother cheated out of house and home, not suspected as a conspirator.  Indeed, the situation is more complicated than Gideon had expected—and the task of taming Winnefred Blythe, much more alluring…

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Alissa: That makes for a long list.  I’ve received invaluable support from family, friends, my agent and editors.  I could name a dozen brilliant teachers who inspired and encouraged me over the years.  If I have to pick one individual, however, I’m going with my mother.  She was the first person to read my work and push me to try for publication.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Alissa: Early morning, absolutely.  I don’t much care for the whole waking up process, but once it’s managed, I’m always glad to have made the effort.  There’s something about the first light of dawn that never fails to motivate.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Alissa: When it comes to submitting your work to agents and editors, follow the rules.  When it comes to writing, follow the story.

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NEARLY A LADY is waiting on a shelf or cybershelf near you, and Berkley/Jove has provided the handy links to get there quickly, if you’re keyboard and credit card inclined. You can keep current with Ms. Johnson via her blog, not to mention Twitter and Facebook, too.

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