Sunday, July 31, 2011

Interview with Kay Baker

What is Sentenced To Life about?
Sentenced to Life is the true story of an ex-felon who found salvation through Jesus Christ. This book is my story.  The story dwells on the challenges, problems and hardship I went through in prison and in the free world when I was finally released after almost 10 years of incarceration.  My book details some of the challenges I was able to overcome through a positive attitude and through faith in Jesus Christ.

Where is your book available?

Anna’s Books in Rocklin, CA
The Book Haven, Auburn, CA

Where did you get the idea for your book?

This book is my story, my memoirs

How did you come up with the title?

Eyewitness was my original title.  However, my editor said that the title Eyewitness was not a good fit for the book since an eyewitness is someone who saw (witnessed) an event.  I did not witness the story, I lived the story.  This was my life.  So, after discussing a couple of options we came up with this title:
The main character was sentenced to prison for 11 years but when she received Christ into her life, she sentenced her life to Christ forever.

Who designed the cover?

My publisher, Tate Publishing.

 Do you have to travel a lot for your books?

Technically, no, I did not travel to write the story,  but the story deals with my travels from one prison to another.

 When did you write your first book and how old were you?

This is my first book and I wrote it when I was 67 years old. However, I have been writing essays and articles for school papers and even local newspapers ever since I was in high school.

If your book was a movie, who would you pick to play the main characters?

I am not a very avid movie goer so I am not up-to-date with the new actresses in the movies.  However, basing on movies I have seen, notwithstanding that she does not have the right ethnicity, I would choose Whoopi Goldberg because I have watched Sister Act (both I and II) and I like the humor she brings in her acting.

Do you plan on writing sequels?

No I do not plan to write sequels but I plan to write more books. I am currently writing my second book and getting ready to interview the subject of my third book.  My books are all true stories of ordinary people who find salvation through extraordinary circumstances.

How long did it take you to complete Sentenced To Life?

I started the book in January 2009 and finished it in October 2009, ten months.

What is your favorite book?
I have two favorite series:
1.        Lost Behind series by Tim Lahaye  & Jerry Jenkins
2.       Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien

About Kay Baker:

Author Kay Baker has published her first book “Sentenced to Life” which is based on a true story, her true story.  She writes about ordinary people who find salvation through extraordinary circumstances. She speaks to groups on life issues and on topics which motivate and encourage.
Kay Baker is originally from the Philippines. She currently resides in Rocklin, California and worships at Abundant Life Fellowship church located in Roseville. She was widowed in 1999 after 34 years of marriage. She is a Pentecostal Christian.
She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the State University, Philippines and an Associate Degree in Construction Occupations from Central Illinois University. She is a professional with years of experience in the administrative and accounting field.

Social Media sites:

Links to where her book is available:

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Five Favorite Books

There are a ton of books, too many to count. Below are my top 5 favorites.

Harry Potter: Harry potter is my all time favorite book. I like them all equally. I have been a fan since I read the fourth book. It was the first one I read because I was 8 and I judged it by it's cover. I soon discovered I was missing a lot of information even though I had seen the first three movies. After I completed the fourth book, I started to read the 1st one. I had fallen in love with the books. It seemed that each book got better. I loved the characters and the movies are perfect. The cast members couldn't have been chosen better. 

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket): One of the longest series of books I've ever encountered. I think The Series of Unfortunate Events needs spot #2. This book series had me addicted. And I mean addicted. I read all of the books in about two weeks. I remember going to the library and getting two to three books at a time. I would read one a night every day I came home from school. The thing that got me interested was the description that told me NOT TO READ the book. So, naturally I began to read. Even though Lemony Snicket decided to interrupt me during all of the good parts (if you've read it you know what I mean). The coolest thing was that there were 13 books. You got a little bit more information each book until it revealed everything. The movie is nothing like the book compared to story. If you've seen the movie but didn't know about reading the series, the series is a lot better. One of the coolest things for me about the book was that Lemony Snicket was a pen name. And the pen name is related to a character in the story (briefly). I enjoyed this, and I also enjoyed Lemony Snicket's biography book about the character. The series is superb and I would recommend it to anyone.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson): A series that can compete with Harry Potter. The Percy Jackson series places #3. The books are fantastic. When I first got them I wasn't sure if I would like them at all. I began to read and I was very fascinated. I soon fell in love with the series. I was reading the books at home and looking forward to the next. My favorite thing is that if you read this series, Rick Riordan has two series that branch off from this one. They are amazing too. This book follows Percy Jackson who never knew he was a demigod. He learns that his father is Poseidon, a Greek god. Percy goes to Camp Half Blood, which has other demigods as well. You will be hooked if you read these books. There is also a movie but it wasn't too successful. It is rumored that there is going to be a second one. This is a book that I will read countless times.

 The Dangerous Days of Daniel X: This was a book I was not looking forward to being read. My teacher began to read it and after the first chapter I began to like the book. It was odd at first, all of the alien names and what not. But I began to listen when the teacher read. She finished the book and I moved on to the second one, Watch the Skies. The books turned out being amazing. Daniel is a boy with fantastic powers. His goal is to destroy the aliens on The List, a list of the alien scumbags inhabiting the earth. Spot #1 is The Prayer, a vicious alien who killed Daniel's parents when he was kid. Daniel's parents had been alien bounty hunters. This book has got me hooked on the rest of the series, I might even have to try Maximum Ride after reading this wonderful James Patterson book. I thought it was an amazing series. Most of the kids in my class began to read the rest of the series and enjoying every second. This is a YA fiction series I would recommend to anyone who loves action and adventure.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: I read this book when it first came out. It was weird, it was like a comic book/novel. I was intrigued by the cover, so I took it from a shelf at school and began to read. Soon after I read it, it became popular. I had read all the books by the time the movie came out. I felt as the series progressed, the books got worse. I love each book, but the first couple were the best in my opinion. This is a series that I will read more than once.

These are my 5 favorite books currently.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Interview with Sandra Stiles

 What is Steps to Courage about?
 Steps to Courage is the story of three teens who find themselves in the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Students at Eagle Prep are required to complete community service hours every year they attend.  Trina Lacy proposes a fundraiser to be held at Windows on the World.  The recipient of this benefit is “Angel Hope”, an organization that helps burn victims.  Trina is joined in this venture by Mark Jacobs.  His interest lies in the fact that he lost his parents in a fire.  The third teen is Lucas James.  He is joining Trina as her former boyfriend, the one responsible for her injuries.  He carries a secret that eats away at him increasing his guilt.  All three teens are in the Towers and must find a way to survive and then move forward in life.  This book crosses the Young Adult/Adult genre.

Where is your book available?
My book is currently available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  I am lucky that four independent bookstores in my city are carrying my book.

Where did you get the idea for your book?
On 9/11 I was in my classroom.  One of my students was pounding on the hall door screaming for me.  I let her in and she begged me to turn on the TV, because she’d heard on the radio a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers.  Her family and our principal’s family had been there just six weeks before.  We watched the replay on the news then let the principal know.  He made us leave the TV’s on all day.  One of my students, a sixth grader, asked me if there were kids in the Towers.  I had no answer.  She was remembering the Oklahoma bombing and the daycare center that was in the building.  The students started talking about what they would do if they were in the Towers.  The idea began to grow.  There were three personal connections to that day that added fuel to the fire.  My husband’s sister lives a few blocks from the Pentagon and called to let us know she was okay and that the impact was so great her dishes were flung from the cabinet.  The second connection was through my husband’s cousin.  His daughter worked in the Pentagon and it was three days before we learned she was okay.  She had left her office and gone across the street shortly before the plane hit and took out her office.  The final connection was the worst.  My youngest sister’s former roommate had moved to New York and was one who did not make it out of the towers.  We checked with her aunt weekly and her body was never recovered.  Every year on the anniversary I would tell my husband about my idea for the book and he finally handed me a pad and said, “Stop saying it and start writing it.”  So, I did.

How did you come up with the title?
Titles are difficult for me.  My husband said to me one day that I wasn’t moving very fast on this because I was afraid.  He told me I needed to just grab some courage and take that first step.
Steps to Courage was about me taking those first steps, and my characters taking those first steps in the face of what seemed too difficult or almost impossible.  It was about facing our fears.

Who designed the cover?
Karen Arnpriester is a graphic designer and author of the book Anessia’s  Quest.   She designed my book cover, bookmarks, and business cards.

Do you have to travel a lot for your books?
I travel through books and the internet.  I had not been to New York at the time I had the idea for the book.  My daughter’s dance team had a National Dance Competition  in New York.  It was 10 months after 9/11 and since her dance instructor was a former Rocket  the decision was made to go to New York.  I bought post-cards, maps, city transit maps.  Took notes on restaurants and the people.  We visited Ground Zero twice and I took 20 disks full of photos. 

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
This is my first book.  However, I’ve always written stories and for a while I wrote puppet scripts because I did puppetry in churches.

If your book was a movie, who would you pick to play the main characters?
I’m not sure who I’d pick to play the parts.  I’m not up to date on the younger actors and actresses.  I actually picked the photos for the cover of my book because I’d had a mental picture of them in my head from the very beginning.  I’m open to suggestions.

Do you plan on writing sequels?
There is no sequel to this book.  However, I am working on three other books. 

How long did it take you to complete Steps to Courage?
I wrote the first 38,000 words in one month.  It was just a novella.  Mary, who became my agent, asked me if there was a sequel because it felt unfinished.  I suddenly realized what I needed to do to end it.  I took two more weeks to write the second half.  I had shopped it out  for almost two years to traditional publishers.  I finally decided I wanted it published before the tenth anniversary of 9/11 so I self published.

What is your favorite book?
It is funny you should ask this question.  When my students ask me I tell them it depends on what I am reading at the time.  I am an eclectic reader.  I read just about anything if it stands still long enough.  My all time favorite book when growing up was Charlotte’s  Web. 

About Sandra Stiles: 
I am a National Board Certified Teacher.  I hold teaching certificates in Elementary Ed. Grades 1 – 6, English 6 – 12, and endorsements in Reading and ESOL.  When I’m not teaching during the day I am usually there after school running writing or  sewing club.  I live with my husband and our cat Frosty who thinks he’s in charge.  My mother lives with us now.  I have a son, a daughter, a step-daughter and 9 grandkids.  I live in Florida and love the beaches and the parks, especially the Everglades.  However, I’d love to live in Tennessee in the summer and down here in the winter.

Social Media sites: 

 Links to where her book is available: 

Barnes and Noble:

Will Physical Book Copies Be Around Much Longer?

There are lots of people that say physical copies of books will go away and be replaced with Kindles, nooks, and other reading devices. I think that physical books will always be around. There is something about holding a physical book. It might be less portable than a Kindle or iPod, but some say that the light that iPods give off make it hard to read. I love having both physical and electronic copies of books. There will always be people who will want to read the physical copy of a book and who won't read the Kindles or nooks.

One reason that I think physical copies will stay is that there is nothing more satisfying to an author than seeing and holding his/her book. I never dreamed that I would be able to hold a professionally done copy of my book, it is amazing! I thought publishing to Kindle was cool but when I saw what I was able to do with CreateSpace, I was blown away.

I also can't see bookstores not being around. If Kindles and nooks took over, there would be no use for bookstores. Companies would lose a lot of money, and famous authors wouldn't have that many book signings. I love walking into bookstores, I can't imagine them not being around. I love grabbing books off the shelves and sitting down on the couches and reading. It is so fun to do.

Another reason is that libraries wouldn't exist. Well they would, online or they would have a couple of browsing machines. It wouldn't be practical. I love my Kindle, it's just that I don't think they'll replace physical book copies.

There are tons of upsides to Kindles and nooks though. It doesn't cost Barnes and Nobles or Amazon anything to wirelessly ship the copies. They are able to make more money by sending the Kindle copies. Also, when you go to a bookstore or library, sometimes books will be damaged. With wireless books you don't have to worry about physical damage.

I think that Kindle reading will expand a lot, but not enough to get rid of physical copy books. Tell me what you think in the comments.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Interview with Jacques Antoine

 Go No Sen (Emily Kane Stories)
Tell us about Go No Sen (Emily Kane stories):  Go No Sen is a YA martial arts story about a high school girl who has to fight off covert operatives from various clandestine organizations, both American and foreign, in order to salvage the life she knows, and to stay in school. She is determined to preserve her own identity. She refuses to become a fugitive and go into hiding with what is left of her family. But along the way, she learns that she is not who she thinks she is, and that her family is not what she thinks either. Who exactly is Emily Kane, and why is she so good at fighting? To solve the mystery of her identity, she turns to her high school classmates, makes friends where she had always been a loner. But then she has to protect them from the danger swirling around her. The only solution may be to draw her enemies out into the open and confront them face to face.

The story is full of action, espionage, and especially fighting. The fight sequences are described not only from the point of view of an external observer, but also internally, from the point of view of the fighters. What Emily knows, and her opponents only find out by fighting her, is the nature of their own character. The conflict reveals who the opponents are to themselves, if they have the courage to face themselves.

Go No Sen is the first book in a series, The Emily Kane Stories. The sequel, Sen No Sen, will be available in September. The third book in the series, Sensei/Sempai, is scheduled for release in November.

Where is your book available?

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. It will be available on Sony and the Apple store soon.

Where did you get the idea for your book?

I started writing Go No Sen after reflecting on my daughter's experience studying karate. She's 12, and in her dojo (probably in all dojos) the girls are much more careful about controlling their punches and kicks than the boys are. Since the dojo is mainly populated by boys, she finds sparring really annoying, because the boys hit harder than they're supposed to. It's not the physical pain that bothers her (she's a tough chick!), but the moral insult of it. As I thought about this, I tried to imagine the girl who would really make sparring her own. What would she be like? And then, what sort of things might happen to her? And finally, what would she become as a result of those experiences?

How did you come up with the title?

The title, Go No Sen, means counterattack (roughly) in Japanese, though there is a deeper meaning concerning the nature of initiative. It's a karate term that describes a particular style of fighting. Emily favors go no sen because she finds her own initiative hidden in the attack of her opponent. That is, she understands the nature of sen, or initiative, more deeply than her opponents ever do.

Who designed the cover?

The cover photograph is my own, taken in the mountains around Santa Fe, New Mexico. I designed the titles with intensive consultation by my daughter.

Who was your inspiration for writing?
No one person was the inspiration for the heroine, Emily Kane. She's a consummate tough chick, and is drawn from the many tough chicks in my life. She's a bit of a fairy tale, or a dream. So I suppose, in some sense, I guess I just dreamed her up. But this character became the inspiration for the rest of the story.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Go No Sen is the first work of fiction I've published. I have written a couple of children's books, but never published them. I'm not sure I have a favorite. But the Emily Kane Stories have captivated my imagination recently. I love my characters and want to know what's going to happen to them next. But to find that out, I have to keep writing.

Do you have to travel a lot for your books?

Go No Sen was based on travel I had made over the last couple of years. Sen No Sen is based partly on actual travel and partly on reading about some very exotic locations. I would love to travel everywhere Emily Kane goes, but unfortunately some of her destination are not publicly accessible.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote my first children's book when I was in my twenties.

Do you think your book has the potential for a good movie?

Yes, especially given the advances in martial arts filming and choreography over the last few years. Martial arts is an exercise in imagination, and writing about it is like a second layer of imagination laid over the first. A movie would be an excellent way to catch that complexity, focusing alternately on the movements and the internal reflections they generate.

Do you have any suggestions for me on how to become a better writer?

There are really two sides to the craft of writing. First is to be open to the way a story unfolds gradually as you write. It is possible to have a sense of the overall shape of the narrative at the outset. But it is important to let the particular scenes and characters you are working on at any given moment shape and reshape that narrative. Let the story grow as you go.

The second side is to develop a soft touch. You have to convey a complex experience of a scene or a conversation without stepping all over it as you write it. As a writer, you are not merely describing facts. You are primarily working with the imagination of your reader, planting suggestions, manipulating implications, inducing it to do the main work of painting in the details of the scene. Your descriptions have only a limited ability to paint a scene, but your reader's imagination has an unlimited power in this regard.

About Jacques Antoine:

I'm a college professor, and teach astronomy among other things, so I read and write for a living. But writing fiction gives me an outlet for a rather different kind of writing, and reading. I spend a lot of time hiking and climbing in the mountains of the high desert around Santa Fe, New Mexico. I live at high altitude, 7,500 feet above sea level, and am used to the thin air. But I also enjoy breathing the thick air of the coasts when I visit relatives.!/AntoineJacques

Follow me on twitter @spencerbrokaw

Focusing On Your Writing

Being able to focus on your writing is very important. You have to make sure you have a schedule so you won't get lost in your book. As I have said, I took a long break from The Impenetrable Spy. When I revisited, my writing was a lot different. It is nice to have a set amount of time or word count to accomplish every day. I prefer 1,000 words or an hour. Set the writing time at a certain time each day and try to get it done.

Another thing is exercising your writing. If you can't write something for your book everyday, at least write a short story or an idea. This will greatly improve your writing, making it flow and sound much better. I write down ideas and map things out every day. Every day I get a little better at blog posting too. Why? Because I try to post something every day.

If you focus on your writing, it will become better and better. Please leave comments, they are much appreciated. Tell me what you think of these posts and whether they are helpful or not, and whether or not my new blog looks as good as my wordpress one.

Interview with John Rykken

Tell us about your book, Bloodwood, the Chronicles on Max Mayhem:

Fifteen-year-old Max Mayhem is a skateboarding kid in love with his
best friend, Lydia. All he wants is to live a normal life and forget
about the secret world, the Underverse. Unfortunately for him, his
neighbor, Peter, is a vampire smack in the middle of the Underverse,
and he is in dire need of assistance. Before Max knows what's
happening, he and Lydia are drawn into a hunt for Peter's missing
girlfriend, and the chase leads them to a hidden town in northern
Canada where things are not what they seem. As Max and Lydia gaze at the town's steep roofs, they realize something is horribly out of
place. But when the sun sets they realize it's too late. The sleepers
in the woods are awake and they smell blood.
Now, as darkness falls, the missing girl is the last thing on Max and
Lydia's minds, and only time will tell if they survive to see the
Where is your book available?

Bloodwood is available through various online retailers such as
Powell's, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It will available at brick and
mortar locations this fall.

Where did you get the idea for your book?

Many places! I've read a lot of vampire books and seen a lot of
vampire movies, so I guess the book's central premise--that of a
hidden vampire town--came from those places. But the characters, Max Mayhem and Lyida Witherton and Dr. Mayhem and Vivian, are either figments of my imagination, based on people from my life, or some combination of both.
Generally speaking, I've found that inspiration come from dozens of
sources. Sometimes it comes from something I read. Sometimes it comes from a snippet of dialog I hear when passing people on the street. Other times it comes when gazing up at a black, starry sky and then having the moment's peace broken by police sirens passing on the next block. And yet other times if comes from even stranger places: a funny picture in a comic strip, a particularly compelling description in a book. The good thing about being a writer is that you are always surrounded by potential material.

How did you come up with the title?

I brainstormed. I wrote a list of words that I associated with
vampires (e.g. blood, fangs, undead, immortal, fiend) and then wrote a list of words that related to either the characters in the novel, the
novel's setting or the novel's theme  (e.g. forest, woods, trial,
desolate, wind, melancholy, snow, woodsmoke, love lost, chess player,
skateboarder, friends). I then combined the words in varying
combinations until I came up with something that I thought catchy and somewhat original. It's a fun process and you can always come up with some interesting things: The Ravenwood Trials; A Desolate Wind; The Immortals; Love Me, Please, I'm Dead :-)
You could also pick a few evocative words that describe your central
character or the book's main idea. Or you could simply name the book after something that appears in your story, the way J.K. Rowling did with the Harry Potter books.
Who designed the cover?
The publisher's design department designed the cover based on some of my paintings.

Who was your inspiration for writing?

I've been inspired by many authors, story-tellers, and stories,
whether the stories were told on page, on stage or on screen. Here are a few of my favorite stories, characters and story-tellers.
Star Wars
Arthur Conan Doyle
Ernest Hemingway
Anne LaMott
Indiana Jones
Christopher Moore
Graham Greene

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have written four books. The first two were bad. The third book, The Indian Portal, was okay but not great. The most recent book,
Bloodwood, turned out well. It's my favorite.

Do you have to travel a lot for your books?

Nope, not yet. I mostly sit in coffee shops when I write, although I
did take the train to Vancouver BC to do research for Bloodwood.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote my first book when I was twenty-four. I'm thirty now.

Do you think your book has the potential for a good movie?

Sure :-)

Do you have any suggestions for me on how to become a better writer?

1. Write simply.
2. Tell the truth as you understand it, as the words come to you.
3. Make your character want something, right away. (This advice comes from Kurt Vonnegut.) When your character wants something, the reader wants to know whether the character gets what he wants. This creates tension and suspense and keeps the reader turning the pages.
4. If you are stuck and can't figure out what to write next, remember
Ernest Hemingway's advice. "Do not worry," he wrote. "You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know."
5. Figure out what your character wants most in the world. Once you
know that, you'll have some idea how he might behave.
6. Pay more attention to character than plot. Plot, as Ann LaMott
said, is secondary.

About John Rykken:
John Rykken was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. Early in his
college career, he spent time studying abroad in Germany before
returning to the States and receiving a degree in political science
from Portland State University. Since then he has worked various odd
jobs, including soporific stints in the insurance, retail and
restaurant industries. He has freckles and plays chess and guitar. By
his own admission, he has an occasionally dark, occasionally silly
sense of humor. He likes the wind in the trees, the city, and black
coffee. He first realized he loved books, language and the written
word in a high school English class. Bloodwood is his first published

Creating a Credible Villain

Creating a credible villain in fiction can be quite hard or cheesy depending on how you describe them and their background. Below are the steps used in creating a credible villain. You could also briefly illustrate their features and write traits to the side for guidance.

Choose the degree of evilness for your character: You first need to fit the villain with the type of book you are writing. For example, my book needed a powerful dictator while some books might only need a school bully.

Create a traumatic incident for the villain: The villain in a book normally needs something that has happened in their life to make them evil. Most people have a reason for their evilness. This incident could be the death of their parents or maybe a prized possession. This will create a turning point in the villain's life.

Elaborate on the incident: Exaggerate and distort the incident until it becomes the core of the villain.

Choose a single thing the villain adores without greed: The villain may enjoy walks in the park, a dependant relative, a lost love, or an item that is special to them. This could give the hero leverage.

Combine the turning point and the single thing and bounce them back and forth in your mind: Why does the villain love this so much but still stays so evil? Or how does the turning point relate with the single thing?
Villains are one of the most important things in a story. I have never read a fictional book that didn't have some type of villain. I used WikiHow to help me brainstorm some things above on how to create the villain. It was helpful and I think if you are a writer, you should check it out. Eventually I will do a post on how to create a normal fiction character. I hope the above helps with you creating the villain in your story. I think it is good information and I plan on using it to explain my villains so they'll seem realistic.

Interview with Suzy Turner

Tell us about The Raven Saga:
Book I in The Raven Saga is entitled Raven and is about a young girl whose parents mysteriously disappear from their London home. She has no choice but to move to Canada where she discovers a family she never knew existed. But that's not all she discovers. She also finds out about some frightening and intriguing family secrets. One of which is about her: she isn't who, or what, she thinks she is. Book II, December Moon, comes out in September.
Where are your books available?
At the moment they are available as ebooks on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple.

Where did you get the idea for your books?
It was during a visit to Canada in 2009. I was totally inspired by the beautiful surroundings there, particularly in British Columbia. It was so awe-inspiring. Those majestic mountains, the deep blue icy lakes, the dark forests, the vast ocean... it was all so dramatic and I thought it would be the perfect setting for a series of YA urban fantasy. One day we picnicked on a small beach in Powell River and the ideas just started to coming to me.
How did you come up with the titles?
To me, ravens are eerie and mysterious, just like my stories. That and the fact that there were so many of them where we visited in Canada! I'm not sure how I came up with December Moon to be honest... but I love it!
Who designed the covers?
I designed my first cover using a photo my husband took but after a month I realised it wasn't right, so I went online and searched the stock photography sites so I could purchase the perfect image. I eventually found it and designed the new cover around it. For December Moon, I did the same thing. I have to say, I'm totally in love with the December Moon cover! The picture I found is just exactly as I pictured the main character, December.
Who was your inspiration for writing?
There are so many authors who inspire me. JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Margaret Atwood, Jean Auel, Sophie Kinsella, Ken Follett, Jenny Colgan... I could easily go on! But I am easily inspired, not just by people but by places, music and photos.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I've actually written three. The first, Molly, I wrote about 12 years ago but I got so tired of receiving rejection after rejection that I gave up writing books for a long time. I started again last year after I was made redundant and I've since written Raven and December Moon. My favourite is probably December Moon.
Do you have to travel a lot for your books?
I'd love to be able to say yes but I've never travelled for my books. I've been travelling and been inspired to write but never the other way round.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was in my early 20s in the late 90s!
Do you think your books have the potential for a good movie?
Absolutely! Especially if it was filmed in British Columbia. That would be totally awesome. But then I guess all authors would say that.
Do you have any suggestions for me on how to become a better writer?
The best advice I can give you is to read, read, read! And then write, write, write. Reading other people's work really helps you to hone your own writing skills and the more writing you do, the better it will get. Don't just stick to one genre... read as many different styles as possible. It surprised me how much I learned that way.
About Suzy Turner:
Suzy was born in Yorkshire, England in 1975, where she lived until she was ten when she and her family moved to Portugal. The Iberian country continues to be Suzy's home, where she lives with her husband, Michael. After a career in journalism and editing, Suzy began writing YA urban fantasy and chick lit full time in 2010.
She frequently blogs at and she is also responsible for the YA Trailer Park website where authors can send in their YA and kids books trailers.

Her website:
Her Twitter: @suzy_turner

You can also follow me on twitter to get updates on posts and author interviews: @spencerbrokaw

How to Start a Book

Starting a book can be hard. Especially making people continue reading the work you have done. The most important thing when starting a book is grabbing the reader's attention and writing things that will make them ask questions. Then they will want to keep reading. I prefer writing YA fiction because it ranges to so many audiences. Here are some tips on starting your book.

Think about a topic that you are interested in writing about: Normally, people already have a topic in mind, but if you don't, you could choose from the following. Real life events, murder mysteries, horror, espionage, action, adventure, or even a romance novel. To get an idea, It's fun to watch people. If you're at a mall, and you are sitting and drinking your coffee, watch people, you might even get an idea for a new character. Watching the news can also create good stories. One that I think is fun is to take a conspiracy theory and make a book from it.

Tell your fan base what your book will be about (if you've had previous books): It is important to let your fans know about upcoming titles so they won't forget about you. I might read your book, but if you don't tell me about future books, I might lose interest in you. If you already have the book out and you want to tell people about it, make sure to leave a compelling description that will make them want to buy the book. I always get sucked into titles that have well thought out descriptions.

Get a rough idea of what each chapter might be about: Making a list of what each chapter might contain will help you keep writing and stay organized. Make sure you carry a notepad and pen so you can jot down ideas. I prefer mini-composition books to organize my ideas. Even a tiny description of each chapter can help, like some example notes below.
Zack in helicopter about to go to Wang's mansion and find the statue. He then is in a chase scene.

Begin a more detailed outline: Elaborate on what you did above. Fill in other plot lines that surround what will be happening in the chapters. Almost every chapter has a climax to keep the reader interested.

Start the book: Now that you have outlined and brainstormed ideas, you can begin writing your book!

Grab the reader's attention!!! This has to be the most important part of writing the book. In the beginning you need to have the reader asking him or herself questions. Have them wondering about things, it naturally makes them want to read more! I struggle at this, and I think the first sentence is pretty hard too. But I found something that will help me on later books. Start the book out like I have these examples below. The dots are where you fill in.

How did a... ( guy like me )

Suppose you were...

The most successful...

Just imagine...

Interview with Michael Hicks

Tell us about your book Season of the Harvest:
Season of the Harvest is a thriller with a bit of science fiction and horror mixed in. The premise of the book is focused on the genetically engineered foods that are becoming more and more prevalent in our food supply: what if humans aren't really behind these genetically modified organisms? What if they're part of a carefully contrived plan to exterminate humanity?
The plot of the book follows FBI special agent Jack Dawson as he investigates the gruesome murder of his best friend and fellow agent who had been pursuing a group of suspected eco-terrorists. The group's leader, Naomi Perrault, is a beautiful geneticist who Jack believes conspired to kill his friend, and is claiming that a major international conglomerate specializing in genetically modified organisms is plotting a sinister transformation of our world that will lead humanity to extinction.
As he pursues the truth, Jack is drawn into a quietly raging war that suddenly explodes onto the front pages of the news, and discovers that Naomi's claims may not be so outrageous after all. Together, the two of them must battle a horror Jack could never have imagined as he learns the terrifying truth behind the old adage that "you are what you eat..."

Where is your book available?
Season of the Harvest is available as an ebook through all the major retailers (e.g., Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc.), and the print version is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble on-line.

Where did you get the idea for your book?
Well, a few years ago I was faced with some health issues that forced me to either change my ways or die. Period. I started exercising regularly and had to start eating right. In the process of learning what was good for me to eat, my wife and I ran smack into the whole GMO (genetically modified organisms) thing.
Most people have absolutely no idea what GMOs are or how prevalent GMOs are in what we eat. If you're not eating all-organic foods, you're almost certainly eating genetically engineered food: corn, soy, wheat, and more and more vegetables. And you don't know you're eating them, because in the U.S. the food manufacturers are specifically prohibited by our labeling laws from identifying any ingredients as containing GMOs. And the more we learned, the scarier it became.
Then, one day after we'd gone to a "green technology" expo here in Maryland, we were at a gas station filling up. In the lot next to us was a local farmer selling produce, and it suddenly struck me: what if genetically engineered food had a darker purpose...
And that's how Season of the Harvest was born.

How did you come up with the title?
I was originally thinking of calling it "Genetically Modified Organism," but settled on "Season of the Harvest" because that's really what the story is about: the harvesting of humanity.

Who designed the cover?
Yours truly. For better or worse, I've done all the cover designs thus far, although I'm hoping to find a professional artist to start taking over that particular task.

Who was your inspiration for writing?
I can't really say that anyone in particular inspired me to write. It was sort of a case of needing some therapy, as I was going through a rather tough time when I started writing my first book, In Her Name. I was also frustrated by some of the novels I had been reading at the time. The last one, I remember throwing at the wall when I got to the end, it was so bad. "I can write something *that* good!" I told myself, and so I sat down and started writing.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I've written seven books so far, although one of them, the omnibus edition of In Her Name, is a compilation of three of the other books in the series. I'd say my favorite thus far is In Her Name: Empire, but I'll caveat that by saying that I think my favorite book has yet to be written. There are a lot queued up in my mind!

Do you have to travel a lot for your books?
Traveling to research the In Her Name books would be a tad difficult, seeing as how they take place mostly in other star systems! But this summer we did do a tour of New England and eastern Canada in our RV that served as an excellent idea generator for some of the other stories I've had in mind.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I started writing In Her Name in 1991, which made me 28 at the time. I finished it in 1994, 325,000 words later, but didn't publish it until 2008 when I discovered Kindle publishing.

Do you think your book has the potential for a good movie?
I think, and have been told by numerous readers, that both In Her Name and Season of the Harvest would make great movies. In fact, part of my strategic plan next year is to get screenplays done for Harvest and In Her Name: Empire and start shopping them around Hollywood.

Do you have any suggestions for me on how to become a better writer?
I've got tons of information on my web site, and am also coming out with a book to help authors. It's called "The Path to Self-Publishing Success," and lays out what I've learned over the past few years in hopes of helping other folks avoid some of the mistakes I made, and the things I did that helped me make it as a full-time self-published author. That should be out at the end of July or early August.

About Michael Hicks:
The best place to find out more about me is probably the "about" page on my blog at

Season of the Harvest Kindle:

Season of the Harvest nook:

Michael's cover for Season of the Harvest

Your Experiences

One of the best things to do to help your writing is to write about things you've experienced. For example, when your character is on a beach, it is hard to describe the beach if you've never experienced going to one. Now I know traveling is not ideal, but it helps with your writing. I have never been on a plane. It is hard for me to describe an airport or the interior of a plane because I have never been on one.
Now you don't have to travel or go anywhere to do this stuff: Try writing about the things you have done as much as you can. Normally, when you write about things you've experienced, your writing will flow better because you DO know what you're talking about. Also, what kind of books you read will affect your writing. If you read romance, writing an action series isn't your thing. Write about what you're comfortable with.

Interview with Krystal Mclaughlin

Tell us about your book The Witches Lottery:

When Sophia and Drew McKibben's parents are killed in a tragic car accident, they are shipped off to live with an aunt they never even knew existed. Believing that they are moving to a privately owned island just off of the coast of Mystic, CT to live alone with her, they are surprised to find a sort of under-aged bed and breakfast.
Sophia draws the attention of one of the locals, Falen, immediately. He always seems to know exactly what she is thinking, and to her frustration, everything she does seems to amuse him. When a newcomer to the island brings with him a sense of deja vu, she begins to ask herself the ultimate question: Am I going crazy?
Sophia's world starts to unravel when she notices her own brother acting just as abnormal as the rest of them. When she begins to realize that the life she left behind looks even more bizarre then the one she was forced to leave it for, she's faced with a decision to make: embrace the new life that has been given to her, or drown in the past. Either choice brings with it more secrets and deceptions to unearth. The problem now is that the two worlds may actually be more intertwined than she thought.

Where is your book available?

It is available as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.  It should be up within the next few months as a print book on Amazon as well.

Where did you get the idea for your book?

I liked the idea that in a magical world, not everyone is equal.  Just like some people are good at math and some people are good a writing... in my world, each witch or wizard has a specific power that describes them.  There are Prophets, Intuits, Lephrechauns, and so many other fantastic talents that you would have to read the books to learn all about them.

How did you come up with the title?

I feel that just as in a regular lottery, you never know what you are going to end up with.  So in a Witches Lottery, you never know what talent will develop inside of you.

Who designed the cover?

My best friend Amber Streed, who happens to be an amazing artist, designed the cover art for both the Witches Lottery and its sequel A Dragon Forsaken

Who was your inspiration for writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember.  So I don't think I was really inspired to do it, more like it was what I was meant to do.  I can say that it was a combination of JK Rowling and LJ Smith who inspired me to move back into writing young adult.  For a while I wanted to write romance.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have written two.  The Witches Lottery and its sequel A Dragon Forsaken.  So far, A Dragon Forsaken is my favorite because I think that Daphne, it's main character, is someone who is a little tough to get to know and love, but once you do, she is an amazingly strong character.

I am however, working on a book currently called: The Guardian of the Realm: A Faeire Tale that could end up being my favorite and I still have two more for my original series planned out.  The next one will be The Goblin's Daughter and after that The Magician's Intuition.

Do you have to travel a lot for your books?

I have not traveled specifically for my books, but I have to admit that every place involved in them are places I have been and are familiar with.

When did you write your first book and how old were you? 

I wrote my first official book entitled The Bloody Locker when I was in the sixth grade, although I no longer have any of it.  The first book I completed and felt was ready for publication was The Witches Lottery.

Do you think your book has the potential for a good movie?

I think given the right circumstances, characters, and special effects, the entire series could sustain a movie.

Do you have any suggestions for me on how to become a better writer?

Just write all of the time.  If you get inspired on a story, start working on it and don't get discouraged if you have to take a step away from it and begin work on something else.  I find when I do that and go back to some of the things I have started, I find that they are really rather good and need little if no editing... sometimes you just need to take yourself out of them for a moment.

About Krystal McLaughlin:

I have been writing for as long as I can remember.  Short stories, parts of books, ideas, characters, and even poetry.  I think that when you have a passion to write, there is always a story in your mind and in your heart just bursting to get out.  My day job is working in a credit union where I tend to people watch and get a lot of interesting ideas for characters.  I have a beautiful four year old daughter who I live and breath for.  All of my books and everything I do, I do with her in mind.

Her Website:

Links to her books on Amazon:

Link on Barnes and Nobles:

Link to Smashwords:

Follow Her on Twitter: @witcheslottery

Follow me on Twitter: @spencerbrokaw

Interview with Emerald Barnes

Tell us about your book Piercing Through the Darkness:       
My novella, Piercing Through the Darkness, is based on a college student named Kandi with repressed memories of a tragic accident.  Her family took her to see a psychiatrist who tried hypnosis to recover the memories, but it didn’t take.  So, they had to pretend like nothing ever happened to her.  She has this huge secret that could potentially kill her, and she doesn’t even know it.  Her best friend, Jimmy, has to protect her, and when the man who’s out for revenge threatens her life, he feels like there isn’t anything he can do to protect her.  The novella is told in three different character’s point of view, and as we follow them through the story, it’s all about these characters finding their way through the darkness that is figuratively surrounding them.

Where is your book available? It's available through Amazon Kindle for 99 cents.

Where did you get the idea for your book?  The novella was derived from a short story I wrote in my first creative writing class in college.  There was more to it that I didn't get to tell in that version, and their story had to be written.

How did you come up with the title?  The title came about as I was thinking about how Kandi is in the dark, trying to figure out why she is being threatened by the man coming at her for revenge.

Who designed the cover?  My sister, Hannah Plunkett, designed it from my ideas.

Who was your inspiration for writing? Wow.  That's a tough one.  As long as I can remember, I've always loved making up stories, but when I was in high school, I read a lot of Dean Koontz books and loved them.  I wanted to write like him, so I'm pretty sure he was my inspiration.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?  In total, I have three books written.  Only one is currently published and that would be "Piercing Through the Darkness."  My favorite one would probably be my current work in progress titled, "Read Me Dead."

Do you have to travel a lot for your books?  No, I don't have to travel for them, but the setting for my first novel is based on some small towns I've seen in Tennessee while traveling.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?  I started my first full length novel seven years ago when I was around seventeen.

Do you think your book has the potential for a good movie? I actually think it could turn out to be a good movie.  A lot of people who have read my works tell me that they could see them being turned into movies.

Do you have any suggestions for me on how to become a better writer?  As cliched as it is, just write.  A teacher once told me that a great writer writes constantly, listens, and revises.  Revision is also a huge factor.  It's the difference between a good story and a great story.  

About Emerald Barnes:
I am writer, and I have a BA in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing. I have been writing since high school, but I became really serious with it after my first writing class in college. From then on, my writing has blossomed, and I love to share my writing with others. I have always believed that reading is a way to live life through another person's world and escape ours for a little while.
So far, I have one novella published as an ebook, "Piercing Through the Darkness," and my short story "Wishes" has been published in Blue Legs and Other Coming of Age Stories by Phyllis Scott. It's available as a paperback on Amazon or for Kindle.
You can follow my writer's ramblings at
"Piercing Through the Darkness" Book Trailer can be found at

Check out her book on the Kindle Store:

 Follow her on twitter: @emeraldbarnes.

You can follow me on twitter:@spencerbrokaw, or you can follow my in character twitter account:@ImpenetrableSpy.

How to Describe Characters and Surroundings Better

Sometimes I have trouble describing my characters and my surroundings. Since I can visualize everything in my mind, it is often hard for me to describe it because I can already see it. There are several things I use to help me describe surroundings and characters. One of the best things is to map out rooms and objects for your current scene. If you are following me on twitter, I will start sending out my maps and other things I use. After you map something out, say your main character's house, you can use it as reference to help you describe the scene going on. It helps your writing flow better and I have realized this from writing a second book while using this technique. I will even sketch out ideas and label them to help me remember what that said thing is able to do.
This method helps when writing action stories best but if you have a normal, school bully type scenario, or a common YA story, you can draw maps of characters houses, schools, offices, etc. to help you describe better.
Describing characters is the hardest thing for me to do. I have already stated this, but people aren't bad for no reason. Something should have happened in their past to make them what they are today(in your story). When you describe a character, sketching a simple drawing is amazingly helpful. Even though not every one is an artist, you can draw a circle for a head and a couple of simple lines. Even though it doesn't sound helpful, it is. Describe your character with feelings and emotions too, don't just describe their looks. Their looks could also be the things that are creating these said emotions. I like using WikiHow and there is a book called Writing YA fiction for Dummies that is really helpful. If you aren't a YA author, buy a version that describes the type of writing you write.

Tweeting in Character

I found a great idea while surfing the internet. Tweeting in character. It is a great and fun way to express a character in your books. I have only recently been doing this, and it is on a separate account from my author account. By tweeting in character, you can easily promote your book and get people excited about it by leaving snippets. I even posted a picture of a sketch I had done to explain more about something. My character stars in an espionage book, so he follows military and gadget people. Follow authors on your author account, not your character's account. I am having a blast and I hope you'll follow my in character twitter account. It is: @ImpenetrableSpy and the name is Zack Carter. I hope this helps and if you take it up, have fun with it.
Follow me on twitter ( my author account )for suggestions like this: @spencerbrokaw

Free Marketing

This is probably the hardest part when it comes to selfpublishing. Writing the book is easy compared to the marketing you have to do afterwards.
One site that I prefer to market yourself is Kindle Author. Tons of people view it each day and look at the front page. Visit the site and give it a try.
The next trick is to have promotions with your book. You can use Smashwords for this. Upload your book and make it free for a couple of weeks to get hype, then price it back to what you are charging on Kindle etc. If you make your book free on Smashwords, and want it free on Kindle, then try the following.
At the bottom of your book's page on Amazon it says tell us about a lower price. Click on it and post the link to Smashwords. Amazon will probably lower the price to free to "compete." I learned this from self published author Michael Hicks, author of the In Her Name series available on Kindle.
This is a good way to promote sequels if people have already read the first book. Marketing doesn't have to cost you any money either, you just have to find the right sites, and the right people. Creating a blog like this is marketing, having a twitter page and facebook page is also FREE marketing. On twitter, don't post about your books 24/7, because no one is going to follow you. Post about things you enjoy doing, and things you are interested in. Post about your books every now and then, but you should wait until you have a decent amount of followers before you post too much.
Twitter is a good way to exercise your short writing skills too. You only have a limited amount of characters, make them count. Tell friends and family about your book because most likely they will tell their friends and family, another way to market yourself.
Whether or not you realize it, the age groups your book appeal to affect your marketing. The best books are ones that apply to all ages, old and young. Then your book is able to reach a larger audience, which then creates more talk about it.
The keywords you use affect the book too. Use keywords that have meaning to the book. I used CIA, action, espionage etc. for The Impenetrable Spy.
Find sites that do ebook reviews. They are always helpful in spreading the word.
These are just some of the things you can do to market yourself without spending any money.


Although I mentioned CreateSpace, I was very wrong in my post. It only costed me $11 to get to proof copies of my book. And that was all I paid. The conversion was the hardest part. The easiest way to get through this is to download one of their templates on what book size your ordering. Get both of the sizes of what you're ordering. One is an example and one is a copy and paste.
Look at the example for reference on what you should add in. Then, when you have finished, you need to save your file
in pdf format. Now I don't have the newest word software so this is what I did. I downloaded primopdf so I could convert my file. You select printer and save to primopdf. Now a screen will pop up and you should click create pdf. Now you're ready for upload!
All you do is upload file and I used the cover creator. You can upload your own image for the front and add a picture of yourself by: About the Author. Very easy to use. When you're done, click finish at the bottom of the screen. Now your book is in review and you can set your prices. It will be available on Amazon if the review of it goes well( Not a book review either, just makes sure everything is okay )
Now you have the option to spend $39 and let your book be available on online retailers, libraries etc. Your next step is wait for review. Once you get the review email, you will need to buy a proof copy of your book( required )
Once you recieve your book(s), which is very exciting, read through and make sure nothing is wrong with the design, grammar, spelling, etc. When you are done, you go to your project home page and click approve. Your book is now available on Amazon and other places if you spent the $39
Even though I only spent $11 for two copies, the sight has plenty of expensive marketing and publishing packages as well. This is just the best you can do without spending lots of money. Another thing, if your looking on high royalties, find a publishing company, you won't get paid that much( $1 per book for me )
Follow me on twitter: spencerbrokaw
And leave me comments, they are very helpful. I have attached a file of what my createspace copy looks like.

New Book Cover

I recently got a professional book cover made for my ebook The Impenetrable Spy. Now it is also formatted to look better on the Kindle and all other devices.