Thursday, April 28, 2016

PUYB Chats with Charles Fantroy, author of 'My Life: Poetic Literature'



Charles Leon Fantroy Jr. was born and raised in Washington D.C. His journey through the trenches of a Federal Penitentiary started at seventeen years old. He honed and practiced his writing skills during his years of incarceration behind the four walls of Leavenworth, as a way to express himself. Now at the conscious age of thirty six, he has finally perfected his true passion, which is to share his rhythmical array of completed poems, fictional novels, as well as full length movie scripts. He has continued to educate himself in completing eighteen months at Stratford University as a certified internet specialist. Charles Leon Fantroy Jr. is soon to be released from prison where he looks to delve into a bright future of continuing to write quality novels and movie scripts as well as being a positive influence to society.

For More Information
About the Book:

MY LIFE: POETIC LITERATURE is a compilation which derives from my many thoughts over a span of thirteen years.

My poetic words speak to the multitude of those who encounter hardship and encourage all to
overcome the adversities that one faces. I aim to have my words reverberate from a mental realm; because if a particular plight cannot be handled mentally, than the physicalities are but a hindrance.

The mind is the maker and the molder of all conditions.The thoughts that I’ve transcribed onto paper are channeled to positively engage and to motivate all; no matter nationality or creed. I myself am a voice with an abundance of thoughts to share.

For More Information

  • My Life: Poetic Literature  is available at Amazon.

Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?
  
Well, before I delved fully into the craft of writing poetry, I read the dictionary a lot so that I would better be able to articulate my words. So, that was about the extent of my research.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

 I was introduced to ‘JourStarr Publications through a mutual friend.

If self-published, how did you determine the price?

Yes I am happy with the purchase price. And extremely happy with the quality of the cover of the book as well as the sleek pages that the words are printed on.

If published by a publisher, what was your deciding factor in going with them?

 My deciding factors in being published by ‘JourStarr Publications were not only their professionalism, but also the scope in which they aim to steer the company.

If published by a publisher, are you happy with the price they chose?

 Yes I am happy with the purchase price. And extremely happy with the quality of the cover of the book as well as the sleek pages that the words are printed on.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book? Why?

 I didn't plan to have the book released on the fourth of April, but that is a blessing considering it is my Mother’s Birthday. (3-17-16 eBook release)

How did you choose your cover?

The tremendous hands on effort on the part of ‘JourStarr Publications created the cover and the finished product I am surely proud of.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

 (1) Have a clear and precise plan. (2) Critique manuscript numerous times before book goes to print. (3) Have a concrete outlet for the distribution and sell of your book.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

 Marketing, marketing and more marketing.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out?  

 Social Network, FB page.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

 I would love to have MY LIFE: POETIC LITERATURE accessible to all of the at risk youth who are confined in Juvenile Correctional Institutions, Group Homes, as well as Shelter Homes throughout America.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book? 

MY LIFE: POETIC LITERATURE speaks to the multitude of those who encounter hardship and encourages all to overcome the adversities that one faces. I thank everyone for the support.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

PUYB Chats with Kaylin McFarren, author of 'Banished Threads'



Kaylin McFarren is a California native who has enjoyed traveling around the world. She previously worked as director for a fine art gallery, where she helped foster the careers of various artists before feeling the urge to satisfy her own creative impulses.

Since launching her writing career, McFarren has earned more than a dozen literary awards in addition to a finalist spot in the 2008 RWA Golden Heart Contest. A member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers, she also lends her participation and support to various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest.

McFarren currently lives with her husband in Oregon and visits her second home in California once a month. They have three grown daughters and two grandchildren, and look forward to having more.

Her latest book is the romantic suspense, Banished Threads.

For More Information
About the Book:

A valuable art collection disappears turning a treasure-hunting duo into crime-stopping sleuths committed to vindicating family members in Kaylin McFarren's action-packed suspense novel, Banished Threads.

While vacationing at the stately Cumberforge Manor in Bellwood, England, Rachel Lyons and Chase Cohen attend an elegant dinner party hosted by her uncle, Paul Lyons, and his aristocratic wife, Sara. Before the evening ends, a priceless collection of Morris Graves's paintings are stolen from her uncle's popular gallery, throwing all suspicion onto his wife's missing granddaughter. Determined to clear Sloan Rafferty's name and, in the process, win Paul's favor, Chase scours the countryside looking for answers. In his absence, the police accuse Rachel's uncle of an unsolved murder and secrets surrounding her grandmother's death and the deaths of Sara's former husbands turn his wife into the most likely suspect.

With the true villains hell-bent on destroying Paul Lyons and his family, solving both crimes while ensuring her uncle's freedom not only endangers Rachel's life but that of her unborn child. Will Chase save them before the kidnappers enact their revenge or will the ultimate price be paid, as predicted by a vagabond fortuneteller?


First place - 2016 Hudson Valley RWA Hook, Line & Sinker Contest

 

For More Information

  • Banished Threads is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

I read extensively and became more familiar with sections of England, where I elected to have my story take place. I also researched Morris Graves, who was an extremely controversial artist and important piece to the puzzle I created.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

Several years ago, I went the normal route, soliciting publishers and literary agents. Ultimately, I signed with a New York agent after receiving 30 rejection letters. She absolutely loved my work and raved about it to other authors. But after contacting some of the top houses that didn’t know where to shelf my book, she requested a complete rewrite and wanted to turn my suspense story into a romance novel. That’s when I broke ties and approached a small press that was focused primarily on eBooks. My first novel was published, however, this business didn’t have the funding to print volumes of books after receiving a sizeable order. That’s when I elected to self pub.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the e-book version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

The best solution for me was to utilize the book formatting program built into my MAC while writing and then submit my completed manuscript to CreateSpace – where it was thoroughly edited, formatted for trade paperback and kindle, and typeset into a visually attractive book. Since this company has a direct link to KDP and Amazon, I find it easy to get corrections made and have my work made available as soon as possible.

If self-published, how did you determine the price?

CreateSpace assisted with this to some degree based on the printing cost for my page count. But I also looked at the marketplace and what similar sized books were effectively selling for before determining my affordable prices.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

Actually, I determined that it would be three months for an adequate promotion period and to allow for preliminary exposure before turning a book loose. Quite often, newspapers and magazines request the same amount of time in order to submit new books and receive a printed review.

How did you choose your cover?

I’m fortunate in having a talented artist in my family. My youngest, Amanda Tomo Yoshida, is a graduate of the Gnomon School of Design in California and has a long history of illustrative and graphic creations. She has the remarkable ability to take my book summary, concept ideas, and description of characters, and translate them into a beautiful artistic cover in less than 24 hours. All of the original artwork for the books in my Threads series was created by Amanda and she’s available to assist other authors as well. J

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

I tend to self-correct as I write, since I’m a bit of a perfectionist. It slows me down a bit in my writing process, but in the end, I spend less time revising my work.

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?

I have wonderful bookmarks and Kaylin McFarren coffee cups, since I like to sip tea when I’m writing. And I’m always happy to part with a few during book signings, contests and special events. J

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?

I hired Red 14 Films, a professional company, to create my book trailers because I wanted a movie-style look. However, I would like to warn authors that this isn’t an inexpensive means of advertising. (red14films.com) There are definitely other options out there.

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

Since my “stand alone” novels are included in a series, I often give away the first volume (Severed Threads) knowing that readers who fall in love with my characters have a higher probability of picking up the next installments.


What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

First, make sure detailed editing is completed and critique partners have read it, since it’s easy to overlook errors and holes in your plot. Circulate your manuscript to friends and published authors who are willing to give their honest opinions. Submit your pre-released book to contests for feedback and to determine if your book is praise worthy. Awards and professional reviews are always a bonus when the time comes to promote your work. 

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

1)      Make the public aware of pre-ordering opportunities through social networks. This includes Facebook and Twitter, of course, but also sites where readers look for new releases and favorable reviews.
2)      Create an effective press release and marketing plan. You need to know your target audience and the best place to spend your advertising dollars.
3)      Offer great contests, which might include everything from swag to reading collections that include not only your book but books by authors writing in the same genre. These individuals often cross market and help sell your books as well.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out? 

Prior to Banished Threads release, I updated my website, issued a press release, created an author fan page on Facebook, set up book signing events, sent out a newsletter to subscribers, and arranged for giveaways on Goodreads.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

With Banished Threads included in a book set, I plan to continue promoting it for years to come, along with other volumes and editions in the series.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

It’s difficult to write a story that hasn’t been written before unless you find a new angle, create unforeseen obstacles, and have your characters do the unexpected. Banished Threads is guaranteed to have you guessing as to who the good and bad guys are and, like all my books, you never see the end coming until the final page arrives.  


PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with David S. Atkinson, author of 'Not Quite So Stories'



David S. Atkinson is the author of "Not Quite so Stories" ("Literary Wanderlust" 2016), "The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes" (2015 National Indie Excellence Awards finalist in humor), and "Bones Buried in the Dirt" (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist, First Novel <80K). His writing appears in "Bartleby Snopes," "Grey Sparrow Journal," "Atticus Review," and others. His writing website is http://davidsatkinsonwriting.com/ and he spends his non-literary time working as a patent attorney in Denver.

For More Information
About the Book:

The center of Not Quite So Stories is the idea that life is inherently absurd and all people can do is figure out how they will live in the face of that fact. The traditional explanation for the function of myth (including such works as the relatively modern Rudyard Kiping's Just So Stories) is as an attempt by humans to explain and demystify the world. However, that's hollow. We may be able to come to terms with small pieces, but existence as a whole is beyond our grasp. Life simply is absurd, ultimately beyond our comprehension, and the best we can do is to just proceed on with our lives. The stories in this collection proceed from this conception, each focusing on a character encountering an absurdity and focusing on how they manage to live with it.

For More Information


Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

I don't usually set out with a specific research project when I write. Most often, my "research" involves things I learn or pick up while out in the world. That somehow spawns a story idea. Sometimes I look up specific things, but most of my ideas seem to be reflective of things I encounter in my life as opposed to the other way around, like a particularly disturbing dream I could never forget that many years later grew into my story "Happy Trails." I don't think I'm organized enough for formal research like a normal person.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I pursued publishers. I think either way has a lot to recommend it. I see both books backed up a publisher and self-published that were great. Personally, I'm never going to be sure something is ready for public consumption until a true independent judge like a publisher believes in it enough to commit to it. Frankly, I need the help. Any help I can get. Also, self-publishing is a hard road. All that goes into putting a book together and promoting it is all on your head. I count myself lucky if I can get my books written. Granted, writers have to be much more on top of promotion than they used to, but I've always still gotten good help from my publishers. I know I couldn't have done what I have without them and I'm lucky that I've gotten to work with them.

If published by a publisher, what was your deciding factor in going with them?

I got to see how Literary Wanderlust worked with an author I'm a big fan of. I could see that they really believed in their books and did the kind of work that evidenced that sincere belief. I definitely wanted that on my side, you can't beat having someone like that in your corner when publishing a book. I also knew that they believed in projects they loved over rigid categories, that it would at least be worth it to try to make them fall in love with it. Luckily, they loved it enough when they saw it that they jumped at it, even though short story collections hadn't been something they considered before. I feel proud to say its part of their main line now.

If published by a publisher, are you happy with the price they chose?

I'm not a huge one for worrying about price. I've always been more concerned about whether people are reading what I write. Still, too high a price could drive off readers, and too low a price could make people think the book isn't worth anything. I think they hit a good price for the book that is neither too high nor so frighteningly low as to seem cut rate. Still, it's just another detail that I've felt comfortable leaving to their expertise and pleased with how they ended up handling it.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

Literary Wanderlust and I settled on March 1st. There wasn't a lot of significance for that date specifically, but it was when we were certain we could be ready. There's a lot that goes into getting a book ready for release and promotion has to begin a long time before that. March 1 was when we were sure we would be ready to go.

How did you choose your cover?

My cover was designed by a cover artist named Ruth M'Gonigle. My publisher asked what kind of cover ideas I had and I described a few. I was only brainstorming at that point, the main important theme being that I wanted it to instantly convey that sense of realistic stories that each had something 'a little off.' My publisher went to Ruth with that and Ruth came up with the cover. My publisher and I immediately went for it. It completely 'got' what I had wanted in such a minimalistically elegant way, that black and white title text on a teal-is background with the "SO" cut in half, the top part sliding away from the bottom. It was perfect and I didn't want any changes. It visually conveys the essence of "The Des Moines Kabuki Dinner Theatre" as well as it does "Last Known Sighting of the HMS Thousand Thread Count Sheets," as well as all the other stories in the book.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

I worked on the stories in this collection for a number of years. For example, I wrote the original draft for "Context Driven" back in 2006 after an incident where I accidentally tried to unlock and get in a car that looked like mine. Most of them I'd draft whole and then work with until I had them right, but working on stories over that many years yields a lot of different approaches. I'd come back and rework some over and over as I was writing and working on others. Some I rewrote entirely. I think short story collections are perhaps more likely to have that kind of approach than a novel.

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?

I haven't done a lot of special swag for my books, mainly because I haven't thought of a really targeted swag plan. I think you've got to have a really targeted idea of what kind of swag you are going to do and how it is going to help market a specific book. There is so much clutter out there and our culture has so much waste we have to try to dispose of, we have to be careful as possible to not generate more than we need to. I've met a lot of authors who have come up with some really great plans that have worked, and I've wanted to make sure I have something lined up like that before doing it. I don't want to kill trees to print something off only to find it in the trash or junking up a drawer. I just think that's the responsible thing to do. I did get picked to have a sticker of me designed by LitPills http://www.redbubble.com/people/litpills/works/15636086-litpills-david-s-atkinson-indie-series?grid_pos=2&p=sticker (check out their other ones, some pretty cool stuff), but that wasn't for a specific book. I do plan to have some of those to give away at author events.

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?

I did! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcuK0aN4eeI&feature=youtu.be I hired a woman named Jordan Mapes whom I'd met through my MFA program. She puts together book trailers for hire and has done some really cool ones. I had to pick her for mine after seeing the book trailer she put together for The Meaning of Names by Karen Shoemaker.

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

I'm a huge believer in this, at least partly for all the books I've gotten through giveaways over the years. People are interested in giveaways about a book enough to check them out even if they might not have read a non-giveaway post about the same book. While they're there, they generally check out enough to see if it's something they want to read. If they don't win, there's still a significant chance they might decide they were intrigued enough to read it anyway and then get it themselves. It gets a larger conversation about a book going, gets more people involved and talking. That's invaluable, certainly at least worth the price of a book or two. I always do giveaways of one kind or another. I love the ones on Goodreads in particular since so many people see them.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

I think the three most important things to do are make absolutely sure the book is ready, come up with an organized plan of who you want to hear about the book and how they are going to hear about it, and then execute on that plan. It's no good if the book isn't ready because you were concentrating entirely on promotion, but you also can't just expect a perfect book to instantly sell. People have to know. There's a lot to do and you want to make sure you know what you're going to do and get going on that thoroughly at least a couple months before the book is available. People need to already want to see the book when it becomes available.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

I think you need to check out how the prerelease promotion has been going, reevaluate and modify your plan from before based on what has occurred since, and continue to execute that plan to keep talk going. Plans need to change based on circumstances and you have to be aware of that. Some things might not be working and those need to be scrapped, particularly in favor of something not already going that might work better. Talk needs to be going before, during, and after release, and it needs to be responsive to what's going on out there.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out?
I did pretty much anything I could think of. There are so many books out there, I felt I needed to explore every avenue I could to make sure word actually got heard. I definitely mentioned the book in any of the writing communities and groups I'm involved in (via Facebook, Twitter, and so on). Not only are those kinds of communities and groups supportive, they tend to want to know what people are going to be doing so they can decide if they want to check out something that is upcoming. I put out news on my writing website, informed journals in which I'd been published (most like hearing good news like that and many will help promote in various ways, such as The Writing Disorder who originally published my story "Turndown Service"), created a Facebook page, discussed various aspects of the book's progress on my blog, queried various journals and other venues about interviews and book reviews, booked a virtual book tour, commissioned a book trailer, got involved in local readings and other events, engaged a local publicist to get me involved in local writing events outside what I already knew about, and all that. There are so many things an author can do, and most of them area actually a lot of fun.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

My basic plan involves activities around about two years between pre-promotion, release promotion, follow up promotion, award submissions, and all that. At some point, I'll need to start focusing more on my next book. However, there are less intensive activities I have planned extending beyond that. Monitoring, looking for chances to make sure the book stays talked about, all that. I don't think promotion ever really ends, but you have to make sure you keep it to a manageable schedule.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

I just hope they enjoy reading. There are so many things as an author you want people to get out of your book, but none of that will fly if people don't enjoy reading. I want them to enjoy and I thank anyone who makes time in their busy lives to have a look. Be like the people still delighted to find the world magic in "Cents of Wonder Rhymes With Orange." Regardless of anything else, I'm always grateful for that.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Scorpio's Kiss by Monique Domovitch



Title: SCORPIO’S KISS
Author: Monique Domovitch
Publisher: Lansen Publishing
Pages: 588
Genre: Romance

Scorpio's Kiss is a spell-binding tale of love, ambition and greed that will keep the reader turning the pages until its surprise ending. Set in New York and Paris amid the glamorous and competitive worlds of art and real estate, Scorpio's Kiss takes the reader from the late 1940s to the 1960s through the tumultuous lives of its heroes.

There is Alex Ivanov, the son of a Russian immigrant and part-time prostitute. He yearns to escape his sordid life and achieve fame and fortune. His dreams of becoming a world-class builder are met with countless obstacles, yet he perseveres in the hope of someday receiving the recognition he craves.

Half a world away, Brigitte Dartois is an abused teenager who runs into the arms of a benefactor with an agenda all his own. When she finds out that her boss has an ulterior motive, she flees again, determined to earn her living through her art. This career brings her fame, but also the unwanted attention of her early abuser.

Domovitch’s novel is a compelling tale, filled with finely etched characters and a superb understanding of the power of ambition. Scorpio's Kiss promises to resonate with all who once had a dream.

For More Information

  • Scorpio’s Kiss is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:
The days were getting shorter. The boy looked up in surprise at the sky, which had suddenly grown dark. He pulled his worn sweater tight against the October chill, blew warm breath into his cupped hands and hurried on. The newspaper bag strung across his shoulders was almost empty. He no longer had to put it down at every street corner to massage his sore back. He was almost home.
Alexander Ivanov lived at the end of the world. To the twelve-year-old, that was exactly what Brooklyn was; the end of the world. Maybe because the one time he had been to the city, what he called Manhattan, it had taken forever on the subway.
Alex hated living in Brooklyn, and never more so than when his mother talked about her youth in Leningrad with tears running down her face. She would revert to Russian, which he didn’t understand, but the passion in her eyes spoke more volubly of the beauty of her old country than words could convey.
Every day on his way back from school, weighed down by the load of newspapers, he passed the same dusty old stores, their signs barely legible from the peeling paint; the same ratty tenement buildings in which people suffocated in the summer and shivered in the winter; the same old women in their ritual wigs and shapeless dresses, vacant and blank expressions of hopelessness etched on their faces. Hopeless, that was how he sometimes felt; and then he would remember Manhattan and feel better. If there was one thing Alex wished for, it was to live in Manhattan. He yearned for Manhattan the way his mother pined for her old country.
Alex walked along Main Street, where pickles marinated in barrels, salamis swung from hooks, and sausages dried in their cotton bags. He was oblivious to the sights and smells around him. One by one, he took the papers from his bag, and with a quick, experienced motion, he threw them. His aim was almost perfect.
Tomorrow was collection day. He would stop at each house along his route and wait while his clients went to get their money. After making change, he would thank each one of them politely even though most never bothered to leave him a tip. His work would take him more than twice as long as on normal delivery days. Still, he looked forward to it. Collection day was when he could go home, count out his profits and decide how much of the money he could save. This week, if all went well, he might reach the fifty-dollar mark in his bank account. Fifty dollars! It was a fortune.
He reached into his bag, pulled out the last newspaper and aimed it with unerring precision at the Kodesky’s front porch. At that moment the door swung open and old man Kodesky stepped out. The paper flew through the air like a projectile and landed with a thud in the startled man’s well-padded stomach.
“Hey, you no-good little piece of shit!” He waved his fist. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Alex did not hear a word. He was a million miles away, dreaming of the day he would escape the hell of living at the end of the world.
Even now, two years later, he could still remember every detail of his trip to Manhattan. After a long subway ride, he’d emerged in the city surrounded by skyscrapers so tall, he could only see the top by looking up high and leaning back. People on the street rushed about in the lightly falling snow, pushing and jostling each other, their arms full of brightly wrapped packages. It was one week before Christmas and there was a dizzying feeling of joy in the air. Alex had been almost drunk from the excitement. This must be what Leningrad was like.
Deep in his dreams of unlimited delights, he walked home. Three blocks later, Alex climbed the stairs to the dingy one-bedroom apartment where he and his mother lived.
Before he was born, his mother had tried to make the apartment look warm and inviting. She hung pretty paper on the walls and crisp curtains over the windows. The furniture was inexpensive but attractive and functional. Whatever nesting instinct had once inspired Marlena Ivanov’s efforts had long disappeared. For the past twelve years she had done nothing more to improve her home. Indeed, she had not done even the most basic of repairs. Over time, the wallpaper had become worn and faded. The curtains lost their freshness and the once attractive furniture became old and shabby. The sour stench of poverty clung to the apartment like old dirt.
Alex closed the door behind him and dropped his canvas bag on the floor. He sniffed the air and wrinkled his nose. From the kitchen came the smell of boiled cabbage.
“Is dat you Alexander? Vere ver you? Is nearly six o’clock and dinner is been ready for hour,” his mother’s heavily accented voice called out from the bathroom. “I getting ready to go out. You vill ave to eat alone.”
Through the thin door came the sound of the toilet flushing. A moment later Marlena appeared wearing a tight pink sweater set and a black satin skirt. Her dark hair was freshly coifed, the marks of the bobby pins still imprinted between each wave. Her mouth was painted crimson in the shape Joan Crawford had made popular a decade earlier. From ten feet away the smell of vodka on her breath was overpowering.
“Will you be coming home by yourself?” asked the boy suspiciously.
“Vat you vant me to do?” She picked up her purse abruptly and threw in her lipstick. “You vant to eat. I not do dis for me. A boy need food to grow big, strong. Someday you understand.” A moment later, she was gone.
Marlena Ivanov was a bitter woman. She made no secret of the fact that raising a boy by herself was a heavy cross to carry, one she deeply resented. Alex sometimes thought his mother hated him almost as much as she did his father. He had never seen his father. He knew, only because his mother repeatedly told him, that Pavel Ivanov had been a gambler and a womanizer. Whatever wages the man had earned, he just as quickly spent on those two vices. The day Alex was born was the day Pavel Ivanov decided that married life was not for him. He disappeared, leaving his seventeen-year-old wife to deal with the struggles of working and raising a son by herself.
After a dinner of cabbage soup, Alex turned off the lights and climbed under his blankets. In the dark, he could clearly see his mother’s empty bed a few feet from his own. He turned his back to it and curled up.
Hours later, the muffled sound of laughter woke him up. The bedroom door swung open and the light turned on.
“Turn dat off. You vake up boy,” his mother ordered in a shrill whisper. The light flicked off. “Das better. I like dark.” She laughed. “Now, come to Marlena.” Clothes rustled. From his cot, in the corner of the room, Alex guessed every gesture, every movement. Old springs creaked. The sounds were loud, magnified by the stillness of the night.
Alex covered his ears. By trying hard, maybe he could keep the noises from reaching him. It was too late. The guilty stirring in his loins had already begun. His mind swirled in a mix of emotions too strong for him to understand. Maybe if he thought of something else. Someday I’ll drive in from the city in a brand new Cadillac. I’ll show them all…
The next morning, Marlena kissed the man goodbye and turned triumphantly to Alex. “See dis?” She pulled out a ten-dollar bill from between her breasts. “Dis can buy food for whole week.”
Alex looked away, embarrassed and ashamed, and returned to the picture he was drawing on the back of his spelling book.

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Monique Domovitch, author of 'Scorpio's Kiss' & Win Books!



Monique Domovitch has had many careers, starting with being one of Canada’s top models. When she retired from modeling she moved on to a career in the financial services as an adviser and planner, specializing in helping women attain financial freedom. During those years, she was also one of the first women in Canada to host her own national financial television show. During all those years, Monique’s dream was always to someday become a writer. Ten years ago, Monique attended a writer’s conference where the first line of one of her novels was read out loud in a workshop, attracting the attention of a publisher and an agent.

Since that life-changing conference, Monique Domovitch has published nine books, four with Penguin using the pen name Carol Ann Martin, two with Harlequin using her own name, and another two with Lansen Publishing. Scorpio’s Kiss was previously published as two novels, Scorpio Rising and The Sting of the Scorpio. Scar Tissue, her latest, is her ninth novel and she is hard at work on her tenth.

A great believer in the energizing power of writers’ conferences, she says that if not for that first conference she attended, she would not be published today.

For More Information
About the Book:

Scorpio's Kiss is a spell-binding tale of love, ambition and greed that will keep the reader turning the pages until its surprise ending. Set in New York and Paris amid the glamorous and competitive worlds of art and real estate, Scorpio's Kiss takes the reader from the late 1940s to the 1960s through
the tumultuous lives of its heroes.

There is Alex Ivanov, the son of a Russian immigrant and part-time prostitute. He yearns to escape his sordid life and achieve fame and fortune. His dreams of becoming a world-class builder are met with countless obstacles, yet he perseveres in the hope of someday receiving the recognition he craves.

Half a world away, Brigitte Dartois is an abused teenager who runs into the arms of a benefactor with an agenda all his own. When she finds out that her boss has an ulterior motive, she flees again, determined to earn her living through her art. This career brings her fame, but also the unwanted attention of her early abuser.

Domovitch’s novel is a compelling tale, filled with finely etched characters and a superb understanding of the power of ambition. Scorpio's Kiss promises to resonate with all who once had a dream.

For More Information

  • Scorpio’s Kiss is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

Scorpio’s Kiss is a BIG story. Not only does it have an amazing cast of characters with a story line spreading over decades and set on two continents, but it also brings in a lot of detail about architecture and art. There was tons of research to do, everything from learning about Paris in the sixties--loved that part--the fashion of the time, the famous people who lived then, and so on. There was also New York and Brooklyn to study. Wherever possible I used real locations, galleries, restaurants, and stores that really existed at the time.  I wanted readers to feel transported to another era, another place. As they say, the devil is in the details, so there was a lot of fact checking to do.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

Scorpio’s Kiss is not my first novel. I’ve had nine novels published, seven of which through traditional publishing houses. I completed a murder-mystery series for Obsidian, an imprint of Penguin, and another series for Carina Press of Harlequin. With Scorpio’s Kiss, I decided to self-publish. It was a leap, but I felt that this novel was not what most publishers were looking for. It is big, and one of my worries was that publishers would want to cut it down by about a third. I felt strongly that the book had to be told the way it was. Self-publishing allows authors so much more control.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the eBook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

Ugh. Formatting is a nightmare. I did it myself, but I swear, never again. I had cramps in my hands for weeks from the repetitive movements.

If self-published, how did you determine the price?

For the eBook version the decision was easy enough. The book is twice the size of a regular novel. It is actually two books--a short series condensed into one. As most successful self-published novelists charge about 6.99 per novel, I thought a few dollars more was a fair price considering its length. So I priced it at $9.99. As for the paperback version, the cost of novel the size of Scorpio’s Kiss is extremely high. I decided to price it to just cover its costs.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

I decided to release Scorpio’s Kiss after the Christmas rush because I didn’t want it to get lost among the thousands of books that are published at that time of year. I felt it had a better chance of being noticed during a slower season.

How did you choose your cover?

Now that I will be focusing on suspense as my genre of choice, I needed to come up with covers that will be readily recognizable as mine. I used a different name, M C Domovitch versus Monique Domovitch and Carol Ann Martin which I used for my cozy mysteries. Also, I picked a dark cover with a cameo sketch of the New York skyline in the center and put the focus on the title and on my name. Whether this will be successful or not, you’ll have to tell me.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

I tend to be an organic writer. I start my work day by revising what I wrote the previous day. By the time I get to where I finished, I am back on track and the story just about writes itself. Writing is easy for me, probably because I’m so passionate about it. But the editing is endless. I must have edited a hundred times, not counting the work of the professional editors I hire.

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

I believe the more people read the book, the more others will hear about it. There is no advertising like word of mouth. So I give away tons of books.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

Edit the hell out of it, then put it aside for at least a few weeks, then reread and re-edit one last time.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

Start writing the next book. These days, authors do everything from the writing, the editing, the publishing and the promoting. By the time they’ve done all that, they’ve forgotten that they are foremost authors. I aim to put out one book every eight to ten months. In order to do that, I have to focus more on my writing than on my promoting. If I do a good job of writing, the word will get out.
The second thing they should do is devote a bit of time each day to marketing. This can be anything from posting on social media, finding bloggers to review your book or even sending out press releases.

Another important thing is hire professionals, professional editors, and professional marketers. Remember that an author is in essence a manufacturer. His product is his book. He should make the best product he can.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out?

I put the words out on social media, especially on my website and on Facebook, and I booked book-blog tours.

Do you have a long term plan with your book? 

My plan is to follow this novel with another in the same genre, this one set in the Florida Keys, back in the sixties when hurricane Donna destroyed much of Key Largo. The story revolves around an event that happens the night of the hurricane that forever changes the lives of every character in the story. The tentative title is Under a Libra Sky.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book? 

I’ve been asked a number of times, if it’s true that the main character, Alexander Ivanovitch, was inspired by Donald Trump. The answer is yes. Back in the early eighties, when Donald was just beginning in New York real estate, I was a friend of his then-wife Ivana’s, and I had the privilege of visiting them at their homes in New York, Connecticut and Florida. Needless to say, Donald made a big impression. He is such a bigger than life personality.  He is exactly the kind of character I wanted to create in my stories. So I borrowed a few of his traits, mainly his ambitious nature. The story, however, is pure fiction.

Giveaway!

Monique Domovitch is giving away 5 paperback and 5 ebook copies of SCORPIO’S KISS!


Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Five people will be selected to win one of five paperback copies and five people will be selected to win one of five ebook copies of SCORPIO’S KISS
  • This giveaway begins April 18 and ends on July 18.
  • Winners will be announced on Monique’s tour page on July 19.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!






a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 17, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Gudrun Mouw, author of 'From Ashes Into Light'





Gudrun Mouw was born in East Prussia (formerly part of Germany) in 1944. At the age of 7, she arrived in the United States as a displaced person. Mouw moved many times in the US before ending up in California in the 60s. There she studied at San Jose State University, receiving her Master’s Degree in English Literature in 1969. Mouw has worked as a college English teacher, a Stanford librarian, a columnist, a California poet-in-the-school, as well as a yoga and meditation teacher. She lives in Santa Barbara County, California and has for over thirty years.
Mouw wrote From Ashes Into Light beginning with a research trip to various locations in Eastern Europe, Germany, Austria and Switzerland (in the 1990s). Her research took her places like Dachau, the concentration camp, a Jewish graveyard in Prague, and the streets of Salzburg.
Mouw is a prolific and award-winning poet and her poems have appeared in literary journals such as Praire Schooner, Practical Mystic, The Chariton Review and others. Her collection of poetry called Wife of the House was published in April 2014. Mouw won first place in a short fiction contest at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference in 1992. From Ashes into Light will be her first published novel.
For More Information
About the Book:

From Ashes into Light is a transpersonal tale of epic tragedy, spirituality, family, and personal redemption. It is told through three distinct voices: the haunting story of Ruth, a Jewish adolescent
during Kristallnacht in World War II Austria, Saqapaya, a stalwart Native American from coastal California during the time of the Spanish conquest, and Friede Mai.
Friede is born during WW II to a Bavarian soldier and an East-Prussian mother. As those around her struggle with the inevitable chaos and paradox of war, young Friede opens her heart to gruesome enemies, at times helping her family members escape atrocities.
With war behind them, the Mai family immigrates to the US, where Friede, her veteran father and ex-refugee mother, struggle with reverberations of trauma, suspicion and prejudice. Upon leaving home, Friede meets her spiritual guide and confidant in her fiancĂ©’s Rabbi, who helps her see that the voices from her past are teachers and the horrors of history also contain beacons of light.

For More Information

  • From Ashes Into Light is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

I spent a lot of time at the University of California at Santa Barbara library which provided good historical information about World War II and the time of the Spanish conquest of California. I also went on a European research trip to the Czech Republic, the former East Germany, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I was able to spend time with relatives, who told  me their personal stories and took me to some of the places that are meaningful to the characters in my book.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I pursued publishers and agents in the late nineties with no luck. Then recently, Raincloud Press offered to take me on.

If published by a publisher, what was your deciding factor in going with them?

I trusted that I would be treated fairly, that she would stand behind her belief that my work deserved a broader audience.

If published by a publisher, are you happy with the price they chose?

Yes.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

The month of release had to do with scheduling issues of editing and printing.

How did you choose your cover?

The publisher works with a designer and a photographer. She has an artistic background herself and put the cover through many revisions. She asked for my input, of course, and we came to a mutual agreement.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

I am a big fan of revising as I go along. After writing something, a good night’s sleep can often bring a fresh perspective.

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?

My publisher last week sent me a lovely postcard to hand out to people; it has a picture of the book cover on the front, a description of the book on the back and a request for help in scheduling a book tour stop. I have already received my first book store connection as a result.

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?

No.

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

We already have done a Goodreads giveaway. I thought it was helpful in getting some good reviews.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

·        Be willing to keep working on whatever is needed to help promote the book.
·        Do not get stuck with high expectations or inflexibility. Revise when asked to revise.
·        Be humble and hopeful. Listen to good advice. Do not see your editors as the enemy. They want the book to succeed as much as you do.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

·        Be willing to travel and make appearances.
·        Do talk about the process on your blog, with people you know. Let them do what they can to help with ideas, etc.
·        Do radio shows, or any other live interviews to let people know a bit more about who you are.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out?

My publisher organized book giveaways. She helped me get my blog to post automatically to my Facebook page. I’ve been writing about the publication process on my blog and that has helped to create interest. Also, I’ve joined some groups, like the Visionary Fiction Alliance and writer’s groups on Goodreads where I can talk about my forthcoming publication.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

I would love to see this book as a movie.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

This book is an exploration of the depths of historical genocide in order to portray the human capacity for hope, redemption and transformation. May this book uplift you, ultimately.