Interviews

Guest Post: Chris Dietzel and Lessons Learned in Writing

I’m excited to welcome Chris Dietzel, fellow Science Fiction author, to my blog. I met Chris online and we have followed each other on various sites, and chatted about all things writing. Chris hosted me on his site a few weeks ago and I’m thrilled to have him here today to promote his fourth book,The Theta Timeline.

But before we get to Chris, let’s take a look at the book.
Theta Timeline book cover

Leaders who rely on war and fear. The men and women who refuse to accept a tyrannical government. And an unreliable means of time travel in which most people don’t survive. Welcome to the nightmarish future of The Theta Timeline, where ‘1984’ meets ‘Slaughterhouse-Five.’

Freedom was not stolen overnight, but gradually chipped away through a campaign of war and terror. People were told new laws and restrictions were for their own good. But the reality was a monstrous regime bent on controlling its subjects. Now, there is only one way to stop the Tyranny: go back in time and prevent it from ever starting.

I asked Chris what he learned about writing and being an indie author. Take it away Chris!

Don’t make everything about you

There are millions of other people trying to get their Indie books out to the masses. It’s very difficult to distinguish yourself. That’s why you constantly see Indie authors promoting themselves on every possible platform. But what I’ve noticed is that people respond more when you aren’t constantly promoting yourself and take time to ask them about their own books. Whether it’s karma or human nature, people respond more openly when you don’t make everything about you. If you offer support, people are more willing to support you.

It takes a long time to become a good writer

I went through an astounding amount of rejections before my first short story was accepted for publication. But the important thing is that instead of giving up, I finally achieved my goal and a story was published.

No matter how many times you revise something, you need to put it aside and come back to it with fresh eyes – Only then will you see if it could be edited, and it shouldn’t be sent out until it’s absolutely perfect.

It’s not the amount of rejection you face or the amount of success you garner that matters, it’s your response to it that defines you–every indie author has highs and lows. One of my lowest lows was when my agent told me the big publishers had passed on my debut novel. The only option was to publish it myself. But I didn’t know anything about self-publishing, and I wasn’t good at selling myself.

I couldn’t give up on my dream, though. So I began to learn everything I could about Indie publishing.

Great advice. Thanks for dropping by Chris and best of luck with your launch!

About Chris.
Chris Dietzel photo

Chris currently lives outside Washington D.C. His dream is to write the same kind of stories that have inspired him over the years. In his free time, he volunteers for a Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program for feral cats.

He’s a huge fan of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and mixed martial arts (MMA). He trained in BJJ for ten years, earning the rank of brown belt, and went 2-0 in amateur MMA fights before an injury ended his participation in contact sports.

The Theta Timeline is his fourth book.

Interview #3: Stephen

In the concluding interview, I talk to Stephen, a member of the Indigene race that lives on Exilon 5.

If you didn’t catch the other interviews, you can do so here:

Bill and Laura Interview #1

Charles Deighton Interview #2

Interview #3

Bill Taggart has arranged for one of the Indigenes named Stephen to do an interview over a secure communication feed from Exilon 5. The image on screen sharpens and it is clear the interview will be conducted from inside a darkened cave. I draw a sharp intake of breath when I see Stephen for the first time.

My mouth hangs open as I stare, almost rudely, at his translucent looking skin. I am strangely transfixed by his ethereal appearance, as if I am under some spell. He commands a presence on screen that I am convinced is due to his yellow flecked eyes that stare straight through me. He is calm and sitting on a chair, yet does not look comfortable judging by the stiff way he holds his body.

Unlike Deighton, Stephen doesn’t intimidate me. Quite the opposite, actually. He puts me at ease. That in itself is a worry because I have heard they have special skills we do not fully understand.

I sit down and begin. ‘Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Stephen.’ He nods once in response. ‘Can you explain to us what life is like for your race on Exilon 5?’

‘In the beginning, there were explosions,’ he says calmly. His speech is slow and deliberate. ‘We were driven underground to where we live now—in the tunnels.’

His posture remains rigid and unchanged. Meanwhile, I have fidgeted, crossed my legs and tapped my nail off the digital pad sitting in my lap. How can he be so still? ‘And you like it there—underground, I mean?’

‘We cannot live above ground, not with the changes that have happened. The atmosphere altered soon after the explosions and we can no longer breathe the air.’

Yes, I had heard about the terra forming that occurred on Exilon 5, to prepare for the new arrivals. But only recently had I discovered information about the race who lived there before the terra forming began. ‘Are you bitter about the changes the humans made to your home planet?’

Stephen shakes his head in a slow, measured way. ‘Not entirely. We can adapt to life underground, but I am bitter about how callously we have been slaughtered by the race that resides above us. For so long we have lived in fear of what they will do next.’

‘You mean humans?’

‘Yes,’ he replies the tone of his voice remarkably even for one so bitter. ‘For years we have been hiding from them. We have been afraid for too long. But no longer.’

I frown. ‘What’s changed?’

‘My opinion of the human race.’ He is eerily still and his face lacks emotion, but I see something in his eyes—a flash of empathy, perhaps?

‘Can you elaborate?’

‘It would be difficult to do so without going back to the very beginning.’

I glance at the time, realising there’s not enough of it to go through everything. ‘Who governs your race?’

‘The elders reside over each district.’

‘And there are how many districts?’

‘Many scattered beneath the surface. I live in District Three.’

I cross my legs causing my DPad to wobbles precariously on my raised knee. I grab it just before it slips off my lap. ‘Would you describe your relationship with the humans who live on the surface as fractious?’

Stephen stares at me with that unusual gaze of his and I find myself averting my eyes. ‘There are those who I would trust and those who I would not.’

I look up, bravely challenging him. I want him to open up more. ‘You mean Bill Taggart? Who wouldn’t you trust?’ I think of Charles Deighton.

A faint smile appears on his lips. ‘You already know the answer to your second question. I can sense it.’

I’ve heard that his race is supposed to have many skills. A chill runs the length of my spine. ‘How can you tell?’

Stephen moves his face closer to the screen. The yellow flecks are exaggerated in size. ‘I can hear your thoughts and read it in the emotions you’re trying to hide from me.’

I find myself checking my emotions, locking the fear I have of Charles Deighton up tight so he can’t sense it.

Telepathy is also one of my skills. His voice is suddenly in my head.

My eyes widen and I mouth the word, How? ‘I thought telepathy over distance was a problem for you?’

‘For others, yes. But I have mastered new skills. Besides, you are different—belonging to neither this world nor time. I can sense you wherever you are.’

I feel him rooting around inside my mind. Okay, this is a little weird.

‘Not for me,’ he replies aloud, leaning back. ‘I know who you fear and you would be wise to proceed with caution.’

‘Who?’ I can guess the answer but I want him to tell me, for the audience.

He smiles briefly but doesn’t reply.

‘Should the people of Earth fear the Indigenes?’ I ask.

‘It depends on whose side they’re on,’ he says plainly.

I’m not sure what to make of that answer.

Rattled by his sudden intrusion into my thoughts, I’m unable to carry on. This has been a difficult series of interviews and my concentration is all over the place.

‘I’m sorry but I must cut this interview short.’

Stephen nods politely. ‘I understand. You need to check on them.’

He disconnects the call and I’m left with my opinion of the first Indigene I’ve ever met up in the air.

I snap out of my daze and pick up the DPad on my lap. I call my family again. I breathe a sigh of relief when a familiar face appears.

They’re safe—for now.

I hope you enjoyed my trio of interviews. If you’re interested in picking up the trilogy, you can buy my books here.

 

Interview #2: Charles Deighton

I’m continuing on with my trio of interviews. This week, in my second interview, I speak to Charles Deighton, the main antagonist in the Exilon 5 Trilogy.

If you didn’t catch Bill and Laura’s interview, you can read it here.

Interview #2

I’m whispering to my producer, because I have secured an interview with one of the most elusive figures in the world and he has just arrived. Charles Deighton, the CEO for the World Government, has agreed to meet with me. It wasn’t that long since my interview with Bill Taggart and Laura O’Halloran and I freely admit that I’m nervous about meeting the man they’ve so staunchly warned me about.

Charles Deighton steps inside the interview room, shadowed by the largest bodyguard I have ever seen—as tall as he is wide and muscular. Mr. Deighton keeps his gaze on me. There is a faint smile on his lips. I don’t know why but my nerves are jangling as if someone lit a match and set fire to them.

We shake hands—I notice his grip is firm—and he sits down on the chair that I gesture to. He purses his lips and blinks a couple of times. His entire movement looks orchestrated.

‘Mr. Deighton, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. May I call you Charles?’

‘You may not,’ he answers coldly.

I find my hands are shaking and I struggle to compose myself. ‘Apologies—Mr. Deighton,’ I say. ‘For the benefit of the audience, can you tell me what you do?’

‘I am the CEO for the World Government, the organisation responsible for all of Earth and Exilon 5.’ He crosses one leg over the other.

‘Yes, I’ve heard some great things about this new planet, located 30 light years away,’ I reply. ‘The Earth is in a state of demise and I understand the transfer programme, designed to relocate the population on Earth to Exilon 5, is well underway. How long before all 20 billion people are moved from one planet to the other?’

I notice a flicker of emotion in Deighton’s eyes just before he looks away. ‘It will take some time.’

‘Can you elaborate for me please?’

Deighton turns his gaze back and he studies me. I feel a chill run the entire length of my spine. A sudden regret at having arranged this interview consumes me. But then his expression softens and he laughs a little. ‘My dear, we are about to embark on one of the biggest relocations in the history of mankind and you want me to elaborate on WHEN that will happen?’

I hold my nerve as I answer, ‘Yes.’

Deighton switches his gaze from me to his hands. ‘I would have to look into my crystal ball, Ms. Green, and unfortunately I did not bring it with me.’ He looks up and smiles at me with an all-teeth smile.

I try to hide my shiver.

‘Okay, can you tell me a little about the people who have transferred to Exilon 5 and how they are settling in?’

‘No, and very well, thank you.’ He clears his throat.

My heart is pounding in my chest but a part of me is beginning to wonder why Deighton agreed to this interview; he does not seem interested in sharing. He needs to know I am not willing to put up with this ‘joke’ of an interview. I need to push him. ‘So you’re saying they’re managing in spite of the threat from the Indigenes who, as I understand, are not the barbaric race they have been created by the World Government media to be?’

I notice Deighton shift in his chair at the mention of the race that was discovered to be living on Exilon 5. He is glaring at me now. It’s clear I’ve hit a nerve but he composes himself with alarming speed. ‘The race is no threat, my dear. Your sources have been feeding you a pack of lies.’

‘Well, why are they living underground, in fear of the people who reside in the manmade cities above them?’

I’m not prepared for the sudden change as Deighton angrily slams his fist onto his leg. ‘And who told you that exactly?’

Out of fear, I scoot my chair back. He stands up, looking as if he’s about to lunge at me. I regret pushing him. ‘Your threats will not work on me,’ I say, but the words come out as barely a whisper.

‘This interview is over,’ Deighton announces. I notice he is shaking, with anger I presume, or for some other reason I’m not aware of. He clicks his fingers and his bodyguard is suddenly at his shoulder, steering him towards the door. Deighton holds his hand up and the bodyguard stands to attention. He turns around to face me.

‘Eliza Green—is that what you said your name was?’ His tone is calm and he is smiling, but there is palpable tension in the air. Even my producer, normally so vocal, is quiet as a mouse. I nod. ‘I’ll be sure to say hello to your family the next time I bump into them.’

The moment he leaves I rush to my bag and pull out my digital pad. I dial a number. There’s no answer. The tears threaten to fall. I draw in a shaky breath. I have no proof of any misconduct towards my family and I must keep it together. There’s one more interview I must conduct.

Interview #1: Bill and Laura

Hey all. I’ve been a bit quiet over the last few weeks. Crimson Dawn, the third book in my trilogy, was published and, while I didn’t officially launch the book, I’ve been busy preparing my new novella for editing.

I’ve been trying something different with this ‘launch’ in that I didn’t do a blog tour and I didn’t hold a Facebook launch party. I’ve done both these things in the past and I’m not convinced they add to sales. Sure, they get my name out there, but I’d rather be more specific as to who I target. Book bloggers, readers and other sci fi authors are a good place to start.

Check out my author spotlight on fellow sci fi author, Chris Dietzel’s website.  Chris is the author of the popular novel, ”The man who watched the world end.’

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to do a little something for Crimson Dawn’s ‘launch’ here, so I interviewed some of my characters from the Exilon 5 Trilogy. For those unfamiliar with the books, it offers a little introduction into the dystopian world I’ve created. For those already familiar, I hope you enjoy the scenes. I had fun writing them!

Becoming Human is the first book in the Exilon 5 Trilogy: Two Worlds. Two Species. One Terrifying Secret.

The first interview is with Bill Taggart and Laura O’Halloran, the two main characters on the human side of the conflict.

Interview #1

I speak into the camera. ‘I’d like to welcome two people who have proven very difficult to pin down over the last number of months. Laura O’Halloran and Bill Taggart. Thank you for being here.’

‘Thank you Eliza,’ Laura says with a smile. She’s sitting up straight, but I can tell she’s nervous. She’s not comfortable in front of the camera. Bill is the polar opposite to her. He’s leaning back casually in his chair, one ankle propped up on his knee, watching me.

I begin. ‘I know you can’t stay long, but there are some preliminary questions I need to ask. Bill, for those who don’t know you, please tell us what you do?

‘I’m a lead investigator with the International Task Force.’

‘Investigator of what?’

He folds his arms. ‘Whatever our parent company deems important.’

‘The ITF is a subsidiary of the World Government, right?’ I ask.

He nods once. His edginess makes me nervous.

Laura is different. She is trying to be open, even though they are in quite some danger. ‘Same question to you, Laura.’

‘I work at the Earth Security Centre,’ she says, quickly adding, ‘Another subsidiary of the World Government.’

‘Yes, the World Government is in control of many things on Earth.’ I say. I need to get this interview going. They are taking a massive risk by being here. ‘I can’t help but notice that you’re both nervous. Do you feel that they’re watching you?’

Bill shifts in his chair and I think he’s going to say something, but he doesn’t. It’s actually Laura who answers me.

‘Em, we don’t know, but…’ She turns to look at Bill. At first it looks as if she’s checking what she can say, but upon closer inspection it isn’t one exerting control over the other. A mutual respect exists between them. I see the way he glances at her. His hardened look softens and he nods briefly at her.

She leans forward and I feel a chill creep up my spine. I don’t think I’m going to like what she has to say.

‘Look, what’s going on is bigger than either Bill or I can explain, but I’ll do my best. The World Government cannot be trusted. Don’t drop your guard for a second.’ She combs her fingers through her long blonde hair. ‘The organisations we work for are there to do the World Government’s bidding and we’ve seen things that we cannot talk about. Every day our work is scrutinised. We are tracked by the chips in our thumbs, but we know how to mask that—’

Bill kicks her chair and she stops talking.

I’m anxious to hear from Bill. He has been far too quiet.

‘Bill, you were recently on Exilon 5 and you saw one of the Indigenes. The World Government has depicted them as a savage race that cannot be trusted. You believe they killed your wife. I’d like to hear your thoughts on them.’

Bill smiles but, to me, it feels forced. ‘Don’t believe everything the World Government spoon feeds you. It’s all propaganda shit. Let’s just say my opinion of the Indigenes has shifted slightly.’

I want more from him. ‘So you’re saying you trust the Indigenes now?’

‘I didn’t say that.’

He’s closing himself off to me again. Judging by the look Laura just gave him, she is equally frustrated by his lack of cooperation.

‘The World Government told you the Indigenes killed your wife, and you have nothing to say on the matter?’

‘No comment.’ He barks at me. I can tell I’ve hit a nerve. Laura is anxiously wringing her hands.

‘Isla. That was your wife’s name, wasn’t it?’ I turn to Laura. ‘You found letters from Isla addressed to Bill. What did they say?’

Bill reacts first. He angrily points his finger at me. ‘She didn’t deserve…’ He stops mid-sentence.

‘Deserve what?’ I prompt.

He clams up again and Laura drops her gaze to the floor. It’s clear they both know quite a bit, but aren’t willing to say. This interview is going nowhere unless I do, or say, something drastic.

‘Tell me about Charles Deighton.’ I swore I wouldn’t mention him too early—I wanted to hear more about Isla—but I need to push the interview on.

Bill’s calmed down now, but he answers a little too quickly. ‘He’s the CEO for the World Government.’

‘And have you ever had any issues with him? Laura?’

‘Eh, no. I’ve never met him,’ Laura says.

‘Bill?’

‘Not yet, but I’m sure it’s bound to happen someday. Let’s just say the elite board members don’t show their faces to just anyone. Something major would have to happen for them to surface.’

I sense there’s more to this story, but Bill isn’t saying what it is. In fact, everything about this interview so far has been cryptic. I wonder if they’re worried that someone is listening in. Or maybe it’s me they don’t trust.

I feel the need to explain things. ‘Before we go any further, I must clarify that I have no dealings with the World Government, nor am I ever likely to.’ It’s true. I’ve been protected in my writer’s bubble from all the changes going on. ‘Does that put your mind at rest?’

Bill is staring at me again, a hardened look in his eyes that tells me it doesn’t. I’ve heard rumours about how controlling the World Government has become. I don’t blame him for being cautious.

‘So what now for the two of you? Knowing these secrets that you won’t share with me, will you carry on as you are?’

‘Of course. What else can we do?’ Bill says.

Laura glances briefly at Bill, then looks at me. ‘I’m not sure who will see this interview, but the people of Earth should not blindly trust the people who govern them. The situation on Earth is worsening and the changes being proposed by the government may not be good for all.’ She pauses briefly. I notice her swallow hard. ‘There is something you should know about the Indigenes—‘

Bill grabs Laura’s arm and pulls her up as he stands. He isn’t rough with her, but it’s clear she’s said more than Bill wants me to know. ‘We have to go. I’m sorry we couldn’t give you more,’ he says sharply.

I stand up, but they disappear through the door like a pair of fugitives before I can even thank them for their time.

‘My Writing Process’ Blog Tour

This week, I’m excited to be part of the ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour after having been invited by alternate history author, Alison Morton. Her books are amazing! To find out more about Alison, visit http:www.alison-morton.com

As part of the tour, I was asked to answer the following questions.

1) What am I working on?

I’m writing two books at the moment: book 3 in the Exilon 5 Trilogy and a follow up story to the trilogy. I’m pushing myself hard to get more than one book out this year. It may be a novella and a full length novel, but I would like it to be two books.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write down to earth dystopian science fiction that’s set not that far into the future. Can I say my work differs from others who are writing dystopian? Probably not. What differentiates me from others is my style. I said in a prior blog post that  ideas are not original. How we interpret each idea and develop it further is where originality comes from.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I love science fiction.  You have permission to come up with futuristic worlds as far-fetched as you like. I admit that I can’t write too far into the future like some Science Fiction writers do. Peter F Hamilton is one writer that springs to mind. I have to believe in the story if I want others to, and a story grounded in reality is where I feel most comfortable.

4) How does my writing process work?

I try to work one book ahead. I attended a talk where Irish writer, Sinead Moriarty talked about her own writing process. She said when she finishes one book she already has another one written. It gives her breathing space. I liked that idea. I don’t like to rush the writing process. It happens more naturally if the deadlines are my own crazy ones rather than it coming from outside pressure. Readers are vital to any author’s survival, but it is a double-edged sword. With readers comes tons more pressure! Good pressure, I might add :-)

I hope you enjoyed my mini interview. I pass the torch passes to two new bloggers for next week, February 17th 2014. I hope you’ll check them out. Kathryn will be posting later in the week as she’s in the middle of a web redesign! I feel ya!

Kathryn Guare

Kathryn Guare spent ten years as an executive with a global health membership and advocacy organization. She has traveled extensively in Europe and India, and lives in the small Vermont town where she grew up. She has a passion for Classical music, all things Celtic, and for exploring ethnic foods and cultures. She is the author of Deceptive Cadence, Book 1 in The Virtuosic Spy series, published in 2013. Book 2 in the series, The Secret Chord, was released in January, 2014.

Visit Kathryn’s Blog here

Chele Cooke

Chele Cooke is an independent author living in London, UK. Her sci-fi series is grungy, character focused, and accessible to readers who don’t usually pick up the genre. Chele often dreams that she’s back in San Francisco, where she spent a great deal of her teenage years, and which you can see lots of influences of in her writing. Aside from writing, Chele loves immersing herself in television shows, movies, music, cross stitching, knitting, traveling, and cheese jokes.

Visit Chele’s Blog here

P.S. You may have noticed a few changes to the website.  I’ll let you know all about it in a future post!

Sci-Festival Rounds Out With Hugh Howey

As you know, I was over on Chele Cooke’s blog this month participating in the Sci-Festival. Chele is rounding out the interviews with none other than Hugh Howey. And guess what? There’s a chance to win a copy of his latest book called SAND.

January has been a wonderful month for me, despite being busy as anything. In fact, being busy has been what has made it so great. I’ve been running around, working, learning more about some fantastic authors through Sci-Festival, and writing like there is no tomorrow. It’s invigorating, being so prolific.

My final guest for Sci-Festival is another author known to be rather prolific. You can see how many projects he has going on his website. With how busy he is, not to mention that I had a bit of a fan girl moment when he responded to my email, I was overwhelmed with excitement when Hugh Howey agreed to answer a few questions for us.

Also make sure you head over to our giveaways, where you can enter to win a copy of his newest book, SAND.

How did you get into writing Sci-Fi/Fantasy?
I write in a lot of genres, but science fiction is my favourite. I would say it’s from being an avid reader within the genre when I was younger. But it’s also the best way to comment and satirize the world we live in today.

Read the full interview here

Don’t forget to check out the other writers including Roz Morris, Alison Morton and me!

Sci Fi Festival – New Authors, Lots of Prizes!

Today, I’m over on the lovely Chele Cooke’s blog where Chele is running a Sci Fi Festival for the whole of January.

Each week in January, Chele will be posting several interviews with science fiction and/or fantasy authors. There will be competitions. The first week featured four authors: Natalie Buske Thomas, Karen Myers, John Thornton and ME!

You can read their interviews here

Interview #1 John

Interview #2 Karen

Interview #3Natalie

Interview #4 Eliza

The first competition is running and you can win a whole rake of books from these authors, including the host, Chele Cooke. Who knows, you might find your next favourite author in here. Each week, new authors, new prizes. How cool is that?

Stay tuned right to the end of the month. Chele has a special guest – none other than the fab Hugh Howey!

Happy reading!

Guest Post Laurence O’Bryan: The Themes of the Manhattan Puzzle

I am pleased to welcome Laurence O’Bryan, successful author of The Puzzles series. Laurence has sold a ridiculous amount of books (my hat is off to you, sir!) and has amassed a huge Twitter following of 48,000 people (and counting). Now, if that doesn’t tell you this book is worth checking out, I don’t know what will.

Today, Laurence is launching the last book in the Puzzle series, The Manhattan Puzzle.

the manhattan puzzle

Both The Istanbul Puzzle and The Jerusalem Puzzle are available to purchase from Amazon. I picked up  a copy of The Istanbul Puzzle and really enjoyed it. I would describe it as a fast-paced adventure/thriller. Laurence asks questions of the reader, challenging them to get inside the frentic world of Sean Ryan as he tries to solve the mysteries of the puzzles.

Now over to Laurence!

***

What has been hidden in Manhattan by the most powerful people on earth?

What would you do to a Manhattan banker who treated ordinary people like slaves?

What magic is buried under Manhattan that allows it to rise again from anything the world throws at it?

bxh bank building

BXH Bank building, Manhattan, vehicle entrance visible under the arch.

Image © LP O’Bryan

These are the themes of The Manhattan Puzzle. The story sees Sean and Isabel (my characters from The Istanbul Puzzle and The Jerusalem Puzzle) reunited in Manhattan at the headquarters of one of the world’s largest banks, BXH. There’s been some grisly murders, and now the plot takes a new twist. The contents of the book they found in Istanbul are revealed.

My personal journey with this story grew out of my disgust at the financial crisis that has brought many so low. I am interested in the myths and the beliefs of those who value money above everything.

But The Manhattan Puzzle is about other things too. For instance, what would you do if your partner didn’t come home one night? And what would you think if the police turned up at your door the next day looking for him?

Relationships are under stress everywhere, because of the demands placed on us by our jobs, but few of us will face what Isabel has to face when Sean goes missing.

There is violence from the start in The Manhattan Puzzle too, but the opening has a woman inflicting it on a man. I am tired of reading about men inflicting sexual violence on women. I think it’s time for the handcuffs to swop wrists. And they certainly do in The Manhattan Puzzle. You can download the first chapter here as a pdf.

But don’t get me wrong. I love Manhattan. It’s a city in a snow globe of dollar bills. So look in your bookstore and on your E-readers and order it too, if you want.

To order The Manhattan Puzzle click here.

Or to visit my website click here.

And thanks for reading this and for buying The Manhattan Puzzle, if you do. I hope you find it entertaining and the themes interesting.

Thanks for stopping by, Laurence. Hope the launch goes well.

Folks, if you have any questions for Laurence, please leave them in the comments box and he will answer them.

new america collapse 1

Interview: R.A. Stephenson, Author of Collapse

Today I welcome Richard (R.A.) Stephenson to my blog. Richard is the author of the ‘New America’ Series. Book 1, Collapse, was published back in July 2012.

America is falling, ready to join the Roman Empire as a distant memory in the annals of history. The year is 2027. Tired and desperate, the American people are deep in the middle of The Second Great Depression. The Florida coastline is in ruins from the most powerful hurricane on record; a second just like it is bearing down on the state of Texas. For the first time in history, the Middle East has united as one and amassed the most formidable army the world has seen since the Third Reich. A hidden army of terrorists is on American soil. This is the story of three men: Howard Beck, the world’s richest man, also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Richard Dupree, ex-Navy SEAL turned escaped convict. Maxwell Harris, a crippled, burned out Chief of Police of a small Texas town. At first they must fight for their own survival against impossible odds. Finally, the three men must band together to save their beloved country from collapse.

Welcome Richard. Tell me, how long have you been writing?

About a year.

What are you working on at the moment?

“Resistance” which is the sequel to “Collapse.” I’m also writing a screenplay for “Collapse.”

Where did the idea for the ‘New America’ Series come from?

I’ve been in law enforcement for sixteen years, one of the aspects of the job is that I can’t evacuate during a hurricane, I have to stay behind and do my job. In 2008, Hurricane Ike came down right on top of us. For 12-14 hours we were completely cut off from the world in every way you can imagine – no cellphones, landlines, computers, internet, cable tv, broadcast tv, even radio stations on the dial. I remember very clearly thinking that aliens could have landed on the White House lawn and we’d have been none the wiser. That level of isolation was chilling. I imagined that isolation on a national level and it was terrifying.

new america collapse 1

Who designed your cover?

Laura LaRoche at www.llpix.com She is fantastic. I have no artistic skills to speak of. I’m so bad at drawing that I deleted Draw Something from my phone.

Collapse #1 in the New America Series is doing very well on Amazon – 211 reviews and counting. What did you have to do in terms of marketing? Did something work better for you over everything else?

Everything you can imagine. Social media is at the top of the list with Twitter and FB. I’ve also built up a blog that gets 600-800 views a day. As far as the reviews, I’m floored everyday by it. I have no idea what I did to garner so much praise. Some subtle accusations have been made on some negative reviews that all the five-stars are fraudulent, which is completely false. One thing I have made a point of is interacting with fans by email, FB and Twitter. Anytime someone complements “Collapse,” I politely ask them to leave a review. Maybe that explains it.

Yes, it’s disappointing that some commenters feel they have to dirty the genuine efforts of others.  What you feel debut authors should focus on more in the beginning – sales or reviews?

Definitely reviews. Sales fluctuate based on genre. A book of poetry isn’t going to sell as well as romance, which is the most popular genre on the market.

Have you used KDP Select on Amazon and if so, how has it worked for you in terms of sales?

Tremendously. The free promos are the driving force behind my success. The key is to promote your Select Days as much as humanly possible. Author Rachelle Ayala has a very comprehensive list on her blog that details sites to promote your free days. The Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) is another huge advantage, a third of my revenue comes from KOLL.

What has been your experience of the publishing industry?

Rejection. Lots of rejection. I sent hundreds of queries to literary agents and got nothing but rejection replies. Doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I’ve sold over 5K copies of Collapse in eight months.

That’s a fantastic result, Richard and I wish you the best of luck for the future.

If you would like to check out Richard’s blog, click here rastephensonauthor.blogspot.com   Richard is open to interviewing authors on his website, so take a look.

You can also contact Richard through Twitter and Facebook

@RStephenson5

@CollapseNovel

www.facebook.com/NewAmericaSeries

Where to Buy:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Audiobook

Paperback

Interview with Author, Michelle Cohen Corasanti

I’m delighted to welcome Michelle Cohen Corasanti, author of The Almond Tree. Michelle’s book is inspiring, harrowing, thoughtful. It also deals with a highly sensitive subject, the continuing war between Israelis and Palestinians. In Europe, the war in this region has been headline news for quite some time. I am familiar with the topic, but have never delved deeper than that. 

Before we get to the interview, a little of what the book is about.

The Almond Tree Book CoverAgainst a background torn from the pages of today’s headlines, The Almond Tree, by Michelle Cohen Corasanti recasts the Palestinians in Israel and Gaza, a people frequently in the news, but often misrepresented and more misunderstood.
The author Les Edgerton wrote:

Ichmad’s story is a big-hearted story of a small Palestinian boy who learns to survive in a brutal environment and doesn’t simply endure, but emerges from the fire with the wisdom gleaned from the example of a father who has taught him that all men have value, even their enemies. A tale of innocence moving through a vicious world, compassion learned against an environment of daily horrors, and wisdom forged through a boy’s journey through a life we would never wish upon our own children.

The book’s universal message of resilience, hope and forgiveness will hit home with anyone who has faced adversity. Cohen Corasanti’s novel brings humanity and clarity to the Arab-Israeli conflict, exploring themes of redemption, family sacrifice and the benefits of education and tolerance. Her personal experience of living in Israel for seven years and her undergraduate degree from the Hebrew University and her MA from Harvard, both in Middle Eastern studies, as well as being a lawyer trained in international and human rights’ law, gave her the perspective, insight and ability to craft this story.

Welcome to Eliza Loves Sci Fi, Michelle. Don’t let the name of the blog fool you. My readers and I have varied interests when it comes to books. Personally, I find your story fascinating.  The Almond Tree is set in Israel, a place where you lived for 7 years. What was your personal experience/impression of the country?

I went there in high school with our Rabbi’s daughter. I was taught that after the Holocaust the Jews found a land for a people for a people without a land and made the desert bloom. I also was taught that Jews were always persecuted due to no fault of their own. I was shocked and horrified to learn that everything I had been taught turned out to be a lie. The victims had become the victimizers. I had never seen oppression and racism like I witnessed in Israel. The Israelis don’t want the Palestinians because they aren’t Jewish. It’s as simple as that. The Israelis want a Jewish only country and are trying to make life so miserable for the Palestinians that anyone who wants any kind of life for their family will leave.

michelle corasanti

Michelle Cohen Corasanti

I went to Israel for fun and some parental freedom, but instead I became the witness who saw too much. One of the only glimmers of hope I saw during all my years involved in the conflict basically became the seed of the story. When I returned to the US I was suffering from severe culture shock. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the intifada broke out during the last part of my stay in Israel. Israel’s policy of “break their bones” and “might force and beatings” pushed me over the edge. I came back to go to graduate school at Harvard in Middle Eastern studies. I was going to fight for justice for the Palestinians.

At Harvard, I tried to tell everyone about the plight of the Palestinians, but no one cared. All the Harvard students I spoke with cared about was boycotting tuna fish because they killed dolphins when they caught the tuna. I won a merit fellowship to study Arabic over the summer and when I returned for my second year of graduate school at Harvard, I went with my professor to Walden Pond. I was speaking to him in modern standard Arabic and 3 Palestinians approached us. One spoke directly to me. He had lived in the same dorms as me at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, we knew the same people and had the same birth day, thought he was 5 years older than me. It was love at first sight. I discovered he was doing his post-doctorate at Harvard jointly with a Noble Prize winner and his Israeli PhD advisor. His father went to prison when he was 12 years old after he helped a refugee who snuck back into the country bury weapons. Being the oldest of 9 with an illiterate mother, he was forced to become the breadwinner. But because of his genius in math and science, he was able to attend school infrequently and still get a need based scholarship to The Hebrew University. In an environment of publish or perish, the playing field was leveled and the Israelis soon noticed and embraced his genius. Their love for science surpassed their love for country.

I chose to base my story on the rarest of occasions, the perfect storm when all of the stars just happened to line up. This is by no means the norm. If it was, there would be no conflict. The relationship between the Palestinian and Israeli scientists showed me how strong we could be if we pooled forces. If we celebrated differences and focused on our commonalities to advance humanity. Almost everything in the book is fictionalized reality. Either something I saw with my own eyes, experienced, read about or heard about over the years.

Photos from the gaza strip

©Palestineimagebank

Many interviewers have asked me what message I’d like readers to take away from my book, but your story is so important, it demands that readers sit up and pay attention. What’s your message?

The message I would like the Zionists to take away is that we didn’t survive the Holocaust to go from victim to victimizer. That never again should mean never again for anyone, not now it’s my turn.

The message to the world is that we cannot be bystanders to human suffering. We need to find our common humanity and advance each other because the alternative will only lead to destruction. Every life is precious.

Your own story is a fascinating one. You grew up in a strict Jewish home, you lived in Israel and you experienced, first-hand, the Israeli/Palestinian war. You were surrounded by a huge measure of rules and boundaries. Do you think you will ever write your biography?

When I first returned, I wanted to devote my life to bringing about justice for the Palestinians. When I met the Palestinian at Harvard and heard his father went to prison when he was twelve and wasn’t released until he was in graduate school, I wanted to make his dreams come true. Instead, however, I turned out to be his worst nightmare. Instead of saving the Palestinians, I just saved myself. I tried to bury my past and pretend like I never saw anything, like I was a normal carefree American. But the past has a way of clawing its way out. That is exactly what happened when I read The Kite Runner 15 years later. Everything I had tried to bury clawed its way out. One might say it was a defining moment and I decided that I wanted my kids to know that I had seen injustice and tried to do something about it. The Kite Runner also gave me the way. There was a line that said race, religion, history and politics are basically impossible to overcome. That’s when I got the idea for my story because I had seen those very obstacles overcome with my own eyes. I had gotten to a great place in life and now I was going to go back for the ones I left behind. I wanted to try and shine a light so bright the whole world could see.

Moving onto the work you had to do to bring this story to light. What was your experience with publishers/agents when you pitched them your book?

I got my first agent immediately, but then she dumped me when I changed my book. When I had initially written it, I had started with Ichmad on a bus to see his father in prison. He had already helped Ali bury the weapons. One student in my class asked why he should sympathize with Ichmad. He was burying weapons to kill Jews. I immediately changed the beginning to when Ichmad lost his innocence. My first agent dropped me because she didn’t think the Israelis would like my new beginning. I found the second agent easily. I took a course called The first Five Pages and afterwards I hired the teacher to edit my book. He loved it and referred me to an agent.

No publisher in the US wanted my book. I searched for publishers who were sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians in the UK and they decided to publish my book.

How long did it take you to write The Almond Tree and what writing process was the hardest to learn?

When I decided to write The Almond Tree I thought I would be done in three months. After all Khaleed Hosseni, a medical doctor, wrote The Kite Runner. Surely I a lawyer trained in writing could write a novel. Seven years, twenty-one courses and six editors later, I completed the task. Once I studied the different subjects, they were easy to understand. The hardest thing for me was perspective. I had 15 years to recover from what I saw when I wrote the first three parts. The last part on Gaza was the only thing I really had to do massive research for. That wasn’t a good thing because I lost all perspective. I was trying to shine a light on everything. It was like I took the reader to the middle of the ocean and pushed him off without a lifejacket.

So many authors wish they could do nothing else but write. But, like me, they have to work full time in order to fund their budding careers. Are you one of the lucky ones who can afford to quit their day job and write full time?

Definitely.

I’m envious! And finally tell me what promotional work did you do for The Almond Tree?

Massive giveaways because I’ve found my best advertising is when I can get someone to read the book. Of course Paddy O’Callaghan has worked tirelessly to promote my book and was the most successful without a doubt. Another person who is doing an amazing job to promote my book is Spanish TV and radio celebrity Guillermo Fesser.

Here is a recent review I received, highlighting the book’s potential  novel-hollywood-potential-exposes-israels-lies

Yes, it was Paddy who alerted me to your book and brought us together. I’m so glad he did. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me, Michelle. I wish you great success with your book. It’s a story that everyone should read, regardless of personal opinion or beliefs.

The website for The Almond Tree is http://thealmondtreebook.com

Anyone interested in purchasing a copy of Michelle’s book can do so here;