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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sandra Shevey Announces Her Book, The Marilyn Scandal, Now Available as an eBook!

Sandra Shevey is a film feminist who penned the seminal `Down With Myth America` for the New York Times in 1970.  Shevey, a British Film Institute Associate Tutor, resides in London where she lectures on film at galleries, museums and theatres and where she runs experiential walks around Alfred Hitchcock locations, Miss Marple sites, London`s ancient markets and Charles Dickens associations. 
Shevey, age 68, has been writing for over 45 years.  Her magazine/newspaper interviews which appear around the world include Alfred
 Hitchcock, Shirley MacLaine, Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, Jane Russell, Jane Fonda, Peter Falk, Jeff Bridges, Stockard Channing, Candice Bergen and others.  Shevey has released a CD `Ten of the Best`, which contains interviews with Hitchcock, Lemmon, Russell and others. 
Shevey has authored biographies about John Lennon (`The Other Side of Lennon`) and Marilyn Monroe (`The Marilyn Scandal`)  Shevey interviewed Lennon in 1972 for 12 hours (New York City)  `The Marilyn Scandal` is now in release as an e-book. 
Commodification of culture is Sandra Shevey`s specialism and as well as celebrities she profiles ancient street markets in transition.  Her blogs appear online at Visit England, All in London, Travelbite, Where and Now and others.  Her documentary about saving London`s old street markets has been award-nominated.  It was produced in 2007 and was conceived by Sandra who also wrote, narrated, directed and produced. 
Genre of work: Biography, feminism, and commodification of culture 
Why?  I am interested in the economics behind psychological motivation...people as products/markets as products...redevelopment of identities/cultural transitions/what we were/what we are/what we will become. 
Some about the book: `The Marilyn Scandal` is the only authorized biography of Marilyn Monroe and I was asked to write it by her colleagues.  The book is also unique in that it has been written by a Hollywood insider from an outsider viewpoint.  Starting my career in the Sixties I knew Milton Greene, John Springer, Rupert Allan and others independent of Marilyn and thus was able to make certain assessments as to the veracity of their comments. 
The book also contains firsthand interviews with Dr. Ralph Greenson and Colin Clark (way before he invented his own take in `My Week with Marilyn`) Actually Colin was deputized by Olivier to look after Marilyn`s `crazy mother` who was not dead and who accompanied the Millers to London whilst Marilyn was filming `The Prince and the Showgirl`. 
Want to know how to get a copy of the eBook, contact Sandra at .
Ideas?  Who knows?  I just see things...I reconstruct the obvious.  This is genius. 
Favorite things...walking...looking at architecture...perceiving what it would have been like....eating....reading... travelling.... 
When and why writing: I started writing because I was star struck and wanted to meet film stars.  It turned into something else though possibly because I saw the transparency of film stars. 
Influence: Alfred Hitchcock, Irvin Kershner my godfather....I owe a lot to Kersh who died last year.  Two big mentors went.  My own father died age 105 in 2010 and Kersh died in his eighties in 2011. 
Big moments: Publication...half page spread in `Arts and Leisure` New York Times 1970 `Down With Myth America`.  Like Lord Byron with his maiden speech in the House of Lords, I went to sleep and awakened famous. 
Schedule: I write about 1,000 words every single day. 
Projects: to publish a compendium of my blogs about vanishing street markets around the world...selling foreign language rights (to the Chinese) to `The Marilyn Scandal` which is now an e-book....publishing the unpublished interview with Alfred Hitchcock `Alfred Hitchcock and the Writers`....publishing an ikon series of all my celebrity interviews numbering over 500. 
Big question: Why am I blacklisted? 
Leisure time: networking...lots of it in London...two parties every night...meeting up with the mates...

Now that Sandra has told her story, I felt as if I should add some of Sandra’s achievements during her fascinating career.
2009-2011- Regular blog for Travelbite UK on conserving ancient street markets worldwide....the blog has been nominated for a George Orwell Award.
Arts blogs online for Artshub UK and Film and Festivals.
Awards: Entry at Wikipedia; shortlisted for 2010 Haymarket publishing awards (editorial/events); documentary shortlisted for London Metropolitan Archives 2007 award- screened at 2010 London Festival of Architecture
1970s: Hollywood Press Women`s award for article on Hilton Hotels, Barron Hilton
1968-2009- Hollywood Oral Historian:  Sandra Shevey has been a Hollywood oral historian since 1968 when she began a marathon series of interviews about image-making and identity and the ways that stars were manufactured by the studios.  To date Sandra has interviewed over 500 major stars including Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Blondell, Jane Russell, Peter Lawford, Myrna Loy, Shirley MacLaine, Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Stockard Channing, Lauren Hutton and many others.  Her articles have appeared as `cover stories` for magazines and newspapers in the USA and elsewhere including `The New York Times`, the Metropolitan Newspaper Syndicate, `Playgirl` magazine, `Harpers Bazaar`, `The Ladies Home Journal`, etc.
1972-1975- Lecturer: Following publication of her feminist film piece, `Down With Myth America`, Sandra pioneered courses on ethnicity and feminism in cinema at NYU, the University of Southern California and elsewhere.
1968-2009- Travel Writer: Sandra has profiled travel for the English Tourist Board, the British Overseas Press Service, Qype, All in London, 50Connect and `Live in London`.  She has a keen concern for sustainability and opposes the globalization of native culture.  Her online blogs for Travelbite UK about commodification of  local food and culture have been nominated for the 2011 George Orwell Award.
Sandra has produced a documentary about the old London markets entitled `London`s Ancient Markets: Their Fight for Survival`.  (
1985-1990- Biographer: Sandra has authored biographies for Sidgwick and Jackson about Marilyn Monroe (`The Marilyn Scandal`) and John Lennon (`The Other Side of Lennon`)  Rights to both books were reverted to the author in the Nineties and in 2007 she reissued `The Marilyn Scandal` via Sandra Shevey Books. The new edition has a new cover, an updated introduction and an appendix of letters from those interviewed (all with Sandra`s notations and observations at times of interviews).
1990-2009- Courier:  Sandra currently runs a company specializing in walking tours around London including the Alfred Hitchcock walk and  London street markets walk ( In 2011 she added The Agatha Christie Chocoholic Walk and Dressing the Set: Stately Homes Film Locations.
BFI Associate Tutor: Sandra lectures about cinema at the National Portrait Gallery, the V&A, the Barbican Cinema and the St. Martin`s reference library where she also curates film exhibitions. To date she has produced exhibitions about `Material Hollywood` and `Alfred Hitchcock`s London Odyssey`.  All exhibitions are linked to sound bites from her oral history celebrity archive.
If you would like to read an introduction to her book, click on the link below. 
You can contact Sandra at:

If you enjoyed this blog, check out my other blog that is introducing my new book, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love Faith and Guts.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Roxie Munro Author and Illustrator of Children books Tells and Shows

I was born in Texas, and grew up in southern Maryland, in a small town called Shady Side by the Chesapeake Bay. My parents encouraged their children to read, draw, and make their own toys. At the age of six, I won first prize in a county-wide contest for a painting of a bowl of fruit, and have been an artist ever since (my sister, Ann Munro Wood, is also a professional artist). I studied at the University of Maryland, the Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore), earned a BFA in Painting from the University of Hawaii, attended graduate school at Ohio University (Athens), and received a Yaddo Fellowship in painting. For a while I freelanced in Washington DC as a television courtroom artist. It was great training for life drawing, concentration under pressure, and making deadlines (and quite entertaining - attended some fascinating trials). Clients included CBS, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press. I started taking the train up to NYC to get work, and when The New Yorker magazine bought the first cover (of fourteen in all), I moved up to the city and have lived here ever since. I’m married to the Swedish writer/photographer, Bo Zaunders, with whom I’ve collaborated on four children’s books.

Tell us about the genre of your work. 
Most of my books are nonfiction (architecture, cities and countries, biographies, science)          and concept, interactive books (real life mazes, finding/counting, lift-the-flap books).
Why did you choose this genre?
I have always loved science (have a minor in chemistry), and architecture… am curious about a lot of things. I try to make nonfiction come alive for children. Truth is stranger than fiction; real life is fascinating.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
I’ve written/illustrated more than 35 books, including Mazescapes; Amazement Park; The Inside-Outside Books of New York City [New York Times Best Illustrated Award], Washington DC, Texas, London, Paris, and Libraries; Feathers, Flaps & Flops; Doors; Gargoyles, Girders & Glass Houses; Ranch; Wild West Trail Ride Maze; Circus; Mazeways: A to Z; Rodeo; Go!Go!Go!; Inside-Outside Dinosaurs; EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures; Desert Days, Desert Nights; and Hatch!
What ages do you direct your books?
From PreK (maybe 3-4 years old) to probably the 8th grade (the biographies).
They can be found on amazon and in bookstores.
Newest book?
Hatch! Published by Marshal Cavendish, 2011. Busy Builders (also Cavendish) will be out spring 2012.
Do your books have a teaching objective?  If so, what is it?
Yes, as mentioned, some are about places (New York City, Washington DC, Texas, Paris, London, libraries across the US, ranches). Some are about nature and science (Inside-Outside Dinosaurs; Hatch!; Desert Days, Desert Nights; EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures). I’ve done five maze books (Mazescapes; Mazeways: A to Z; Amazement Park; Wild West Trail Ride Maze; EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures) - not the paperback activity books, but based upon the multitude of mazes we run into and work through in real life. Mazes help children learn decision-making and critical thinking skills. They make them think ahead and plan steps in advance. Mazes teach alternative ways to solve problems and judge spatial relationships. For younger children, mazes help develop fine motor skills; for older children, maneuvering through mazes helps improve handwriting. Researchers have proven that mazes are particularly suited for boys and reluctant readers. And they're fun! The books also have finding/counting /naming and ABC elements.  And I do lift-the-flap paper-engineered books (Doors; Rodeo; Circus; Go! Go! Go!), which all of which have educational uses involving vocabulary, counting, and so forth.

What is your favorite thing about your book/
How much fun children have finding and noticing all the hidden details…
Is your book illustrated?  If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience?
I illustrate all my own books (I’ve illustrated a few for others).
Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published?
There’s a big debate going on now about picture books - are they over (No!) and also where in the children’s publishing world e-books and apps fit in. I’ve done one interactive animated app for the iPad (“Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure”) with another one out shortly (“Doors”).
Why and when did you begin writing?
I have always been an artist. Started writing my picture books in 1985, so I’ve been a writer for a long time too.
What is your writing schedule?
I go to my studio 6 days a week…work from 9ish to 6 or so (except Saturdays, when I come in a bit later).
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I am increasingly interested in apps - many of my picture books (the seek-and-find, lift-the-flap, and maze books) are considered interactive. It seems the next step to make them interactive apps.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Refine your style - be individualistic, original, find your own voice. Work very hard. Don’t give up. Join SCBWI and research the business side of publishing also.
What do you do when you are not writing? 
Travel and read.
Anything else you would like to add?
The world of children’s books is a wonderful involvement.  The authors and illustrators are generous and sharing with each other; librarians, reviewers and teachers are informed and enthusiastic.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
A couple. Six weeks after starting my first college art class, I did a series of really good figure drawings. I was stunned that I could really draw - I remember taping them up to my dorm room wall and staring all night at them. I vowed that night if the world would “let” me be an artist, I would devote my life to it. And I have.
Another moment: Being in the art editor’s office at The New Yorker” when he told me they bought the first magazine cover. Changed my life. I walked out, bought a paper, got on the train to return to my apartment in Washington DC, and by the time I arrived had found an ad for a place in NYC. Moved up within a couple months.

Learn more about Roxie and her work on these sites:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Exploring the Writing World of Betsy Riley

Author/artist Betsy Riley left her small hometown in Kentucky to spend over 35 years working at the leading edge of science and computing in Oak Ridge Tennessee. Now she continues this work as a Program Manager for the federal government. But it hasn't been all bits and bytes for Betsy. She has owned a ballroom dance studio, been a ham radio operator and traveling lecturer. Along the way she had four marriages and three divorces, and learned that being alone doesn't have to mean being lonely.
Tell us about the genre of your work. 
This particular book is an illustrated fable that is inspirational. It uses an extended metaphor to offer a message of hope to people who have gone through relationship troubles.
Why did you choose this genre?
I had originally written the piece for therapeutic reasons after my second divorce. Recently I came across it and shared it with some friends who had been through similar breakups. Their reactions encouraged me to make it more widely available.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
The Comet is my first fiction book to be published. Before this, I had published essays and poetry in high school publications such as The Beta Club Journal. Until now my publications have been non-fiction appearing in the proceedings of computer conferences or in business magazines like The Office.
Give a short description of each. 
The Comet, print version ISBN-13:978-0615475783, ISBN-10:0615475787, is available from and and my website
An epub version for the Nook Color is ISBN-10: 0983735603, ISBN-13: 978-0-9837356-0-1
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

Often I take names of friends that inspired certain character traits, and then modify them slightly. I mostly use real locations, real place names.  Of course, in The Comet, the characters don't really have names per se. There is the comet, the sun, the moon, etc.
How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

Although the protagonist is a comet, she is based on every woman I know who has gone through a breakup, divorce, or bad marriage. Since I want all my work to have a positive message, I had to be sure that she developed strength during the course of the story.
What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any

The "bad guys" are a planet, a sun, etc. I guess that could be considered unique (chuckling).
What’s your favorite thing about your book?
The positive message and t
he images. I had originally planned to illustrate it using pastels, but decided to mockup some placeholders digitally. I wanted a primitive, iconic look. I liked the first image I did using Photoshop's paint option so much, I decided to go all digital.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
This particular book is heavily illustrated, and shorter than a novel. But I write in multiple genres (sometimes mixing prose and poetry in the same piece). The common thread in my work is the concept of "family of choice" and finding a way to show a positive message from negative experiences.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I've been writing ever since I was a child. I did my own neighborhood newspaper, complete with movie reviews, when I was 10. I never stopped writing. I wrote poems, stories, essays, and speeches. I'm hooked on writing, I can't stop. When I'm stressed, I write and it makes me feel better. When my husband had a cerebral hemorrhage while he was in another state,  and the earliest flight wasn't till the next day, writing a poem about it helped me stay calm.
What is your writing schedule?
I work full time, at a demanding job, so my writing is done on evenings and weekends.  I write while watching TV. I jot down ideas for later while sitting at stoplights, while shopping, while out to dinner.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I like to keep several projects going at once, so I can switch when I get bogged down. I'm currently working on two poetry chapbooks (one illustrated), a fictionalized memoir/guidebook for step-parents,  a zombie novel (that does NOT involve an apocalypse), and a collection of twisted nursery rhymes and fairy tales, working title "The Grimmer Goose".
I have two poems coming out in the launch edition of Empirical Magazine (in January 2012) and two short stories in an anthology to be published by Lebrary later in the year.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Don't just want to write, WRITE! With digital publishing and e-books, there are so many more avenues to publishing now than in the past. Like "you can't win if you don't play", you can't publish if you don't write.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
READ. Read magazines like Writer's Digest; read books on writing; read books in your chosen genre; read at least a sampling of books in other genres.  While I'll never write a western, if I ever have to write a fist fight scene, I'll be able to use what I learned by reading Louis L'Amour.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Besides editing, you mean? I read, or paint, or draw. I play solitaire or video games (I'm hooked on one of the AARP mah-jongg games). I go to craft shows and art exhibits.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
Getting married barefoot on the beach
at sundown on Maui.
Having a letter to the editor published at 12.
Being called out of study hall my senior year of high school to be handed a telegram from President Nixon, naming me a Presidential Scholar.
Getting a standing ovation for my winning speech at the Tennessee JayCees state convention (after I had to follow the state Poet Laureate on the program!)
Dancing the twist onstage with Chubby Checker (solo).
Being invited to West Berlin to give exactly the same speech I had given there the year before.
Successfully doing a dive to mid-air hover in Indoor Skydiving.
Seeing my first book selling on Amazon.
Having friends that I had given copies to, buying extra copies to give to their friends.
Winning first place in an online contest with my very first flash fiction short story.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Between the lines with Erin Lale, Science Fiction/Fantasy Author and Film Maker

I am a universal genius. That is what it says on my business card, anyway.  That is kind of a pun, actually, meaning that I am the person who thought of the Time Yarns shared world universe. Time Yarns is kind of a pun, too. A yarn is a story, and it also refers to string theory.  Time Yarns is the universe in which my new book series Punch is set. 
I live in the Green Valley area of Henderson, Nevada, with my mom, Meta, my Bengal, Beni-Wan Cat-Obi, two drums named Grandmother Elk and Mr. Hairy Goat, a Chevy Silverado named the Warhoop Wagon, and a garden gnome who prefers not to be named.  At various times in my life, in no particular order, I have worked as a farmer, alarm service dispatcher, techsupport floorwalker, and spy (aka mystery shopper). I was was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police in a political campaign while running on a platform that included ending marijuana prohibition, taught Russian at a university, invented technical processes in iDEN and CDMA wireless communications technology and I won the Double Ruby Award from the National Forensic League.
I have conducted religious services, owned and operated The Science Fiction Store in Las Vegas, sang and played drum in a Celtic folk-rock band, founded City Lights Artists’ Co-op in Henderson, danced at powwows and served on the Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Advisory Board. I have competed in martial arts tournaments, became the world’s most prominent contemporary sunprint artist, bred a new variety of creeping phlox flower, and directed the magical realist short art film Rain Dance.
Tell us about the genre of your work. 
The Punch series is science fiction, and beyond that, there are a number of different subgenres that apply.  It is based on a hard science fiction idea, an examination of the consequences of an alien psychiatric drug used on human POWs. It is written as space opera, with lots of internal cliffhangers and really evil villains and plenty of action, but most people who have read it classify it as military science fiction.
Why did you choose this genre?
I love science fiction and fantasy. I am a born fan; if I had been born a boy; my parents were going to name me DeForrest, after DeForrest Kelley, the actor who played Dr. McCoy on Star Trek.  Moreover, science fiction and fantasy are where you can talk about the big issues out of their befuddling real-world contexts. There is a long tradition of that in science fiction and fantasy. For example, there is the dystopian fiction like Yevgenie Zamyatin’s We and the books that followed in its wake, like 1984 and Brave New World, which were warnings about what the future could be like.  
Lots of writers translated their personal issues into science fiction and fantasy to deal with them. No one can read Slaughterhouse-5 and not realize it is about the author’s war experiences.  
There is a huge amount of transposed war experience in Lord of the Rings, too.  If you have ever seen any footage of the Battle of the Somme, where Tolkien fought in the trenches in World War One, there is this vast army rushing through the darkness while flashes of light from bombs go off in the sky, which is an eerie parallel to the orc army fighting under the darkness of the smoke of Mount Doom while flashes of light from the volcano go off above them.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
Universal Genius is also the title of my book of collected short fiction. I also have a book of collected nonfiction, Polymath, and a book of collected art and poetry, Renaissance Woman. Sounds like I must have an ego bigger than a giant swarm of space locusts, doesn’t it? Actually, that is my reaction to people always telling me I have to have just one simple message to get across who I am and what I do.  That is my way of saying, OK, here is a simple message: I do everything! I’m interested in everything (except curling.) Having a lot of disparate interests, skills, and talents is the legacy of how I fit the puzzle pieces of my mind and life together to become whole, as I detailed in my memoir Greater Than the Sum of My Parts: My Triumph Over Dissociative Identity Disorder.  
The Punch series deals with many of the same issues that I dealt with in my nonfiction memoir: recovery from psychological trauma, career and identity, sexuality and gender identity issues, and religious conversion experiences.  I have also published a book about my 2010 campaign for Nevada State Assembly: How to Lose at Politics, Or, Not Bad for a Libertarian. And a cookbook, The Las Vegas Locavore Cookbook, and a guide to saving money, Skinflint Hints. I published all those books this year and the seven book Punch series will also be published this year. My first book was Asatru For Beginners, about the Viking religion. I have also published a vast amount of stuff other than books. I used to write the “Outdoors” column for the sports page of the Sonoma Index-Tribune, for example.
Tell us where we can find your books.
My books are available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and direct from me on eBay.  Just search for my name; there is no other Erin Lale in the world. My first book, Asatru For Beginners, is available to wholesale customers through Baker & Taylor.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

Some of them just came to me. But, most of the Nigerian names are named after people I worked with at Sprint-Nextel. That is actually how I came up with the idea of having Earth be ruled in the future by the Nigerian Empire, because they seemed like the up-and-comers of the future, the next India.

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

Carla Punch is an amalgam of a lot of my personal issues plus some of my lifelong wish-fulfillment fantasies.  I could not join the military because of disability, and Carla gets to. But she doesn’t get something else I always wanted and could never have, children; instead she gets my issues with that. Like ex-Imperial Marine Carla Punch, I too struggled to recover from PTSD; in her case, she survived a war, in my case, I survived childhood sexual abuse and rape. War veterans and survivors of rape and childhood abuse are the two biggest categories of people diagnosed with PTSD, and although the details of the experiences are very different, there is a lot of similarity in the emotional experience and in the psychological fallout.  When I read Faith of My Fathers, John McCain’s autobiography in which he wrote about his experiences as a POW, on just about every page I was thinking, yeah, that is how I felt. Except that I was six.  Therefore, Carla gets the same problems I had, except she is not only an adult, she’s a sci-fi action hero, and she can deal with her problems by shooting the bad guys.  So, that is a big wish fulfillment thing for me.

What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?

Carla’s nemesis is Carla. There is a succession of villains for her to foil, but the real struggle is with herself.  When I was a kid, there was a framed motto on the wall in the martial arts dojo where I grew up: “He who conquers fear conquers himself. He who conquers himself is the greatest of warriors. Never again walk in fear.” In my life, I have struggled to live up to that, and so does Carla.  One of my cognitive tasks in overcoming PTSD was to learn to live in a world full of men.  Carla has to learn to live with aliens.  The expression “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” is a crock; men are from Earth, women are from Earth, and we all have to learn to get past the surface differences and relate as minds and souls, not bodies.  So alien hermaphrodites take the place of men in this story.

What is your favorite thing about your book?
Can’t tell you that; it would give away the ending of Book 6.  You will have to read it and find out!
What is your writing schedule?
I just write when I feel like it. Obviously, as you can tell by the fact that I have published seven books this year besides the seven books in the Punch series, I feel like it a lot.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future? 

Punch isn’t the only story in the Time Yarns universe. There is the three book Magi series, plus two stand-alone novels, plus the Time Yarns movie, plus I am editing two short story anthologies of other authors’ works in the Time Yarns universe that will be published next year, in 2012.  So far the other Time Yarns authors are the poet Gordon Yaswen, whose work I published before in my print magazine Berserkrgangr in the 90s, and a group of distinguished scientists writing hard science fiction: Ian Miller, from New Zealand, inventor of algal bio-fuel; Humberto Sachs, from Brazil, co-designer of the International Space Station; Ralph Ewig, from Europe, a rocket scientist at SpaceX; and Tony Thorne MBE, an Englishman in the Canary Islands, who was awarded a chivalric order by the Queen of England for advances in cryosurgery tools and carbon fiber furnaces.
The anthology covers above go with books Anarachy Time Zone and Cassandra's Time Yarns for which I am still accepting submissions. The submission deadline is the end of this year, and the anthologies will be published next year.

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Writing and publishing are two different animals.  Once you decide to publish your work, you have to decide if you want to hand over your work to the experts in a traditional publishing company or remain in control of it by self-publishing. If you self-publish it will entail an awful lot of work you will either learn to do things like marketing and graphic design, or paying someone to do it for you.  I didn’t even submit the Punch series anywhere; Carla Punch is too close to my heart to let control of her pass out of my hands. I would be heartbroken if my character got locked up in a contract and then all seven books didn’t come out and she never got to finish her story arc. And I’d be furious if the same thing happened to Punch that happened to my first book, Asatru For Beginners—the publisher to whom I sent it to first was convinced by my marketing presentation of the market for such a book and contracted a big name to write a similar book, which has forever overshadowed mine because theirs got shelf space while I was selling mine as an ebook in the days before there were any such things as eBook readers and online eBook stores.  The time of the eBook has come at last, and I’m not letting Carla Punch pass out of my hands.  But that’s an entirely personal decision, and most writers would probably do well to submit their books to traditional print publishers.

What do you do when you are not writing? 
Shamelessly promote my books all over the internet and hand out my Time Yarns business card to total strangers at the local art house movie theater, The Underground Screening Room, trying to recruit film crew, and build props and dye fabric for costumes for the Time Yarns movie. Who has time to write?

The Weird Sister: 
A production still from the Time Yarns movie, which is currently being filmed and is scheduled to go into post-production next. The Weird Sisters are shown spinning yarn, a mythological reference to the nature of causality and a third level of the Time Yarns pun in which yarn = story and story = string theory.

 I am self-published, I spend all my time on marketing.  Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about the stigma of self-pub because I am also an indie filmmaker, and for some reason the prestige factor goes the other way in the medium of film.
Actually, I also spend of a lot of time gardening, cooking, sewing clothes and quilts, fixing my truck, and stuff like that, but who doesn’t? That’s just life. My only real “hobby,” as in something I do that’s not related to either making money or saving money with do-it-yourselfing, is swimming.  Come to think of it, that’s related to trying to save money on healthcare by trying to lose weight.  Sometimes I sleep, too. I don’t recommend it, though; it’s a waste of time.  My Alarm Cat must think so too, because he has decreed the proper time for the human to get up is one hour before dawn.  And Beni-Wan Cat-Obi always gets his way, because he has really sharp claws.
Want to know about this author, then check her out on these pages:
My author page is: where you can get free downloads of my writing.
I am also on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Author, Cherrye Vasquez, Tells Us about Her First Book, No Tildes on Tuesday

I am a public school administrator and an adjunct professor who teaches graduate level courses to students desiring to become public school principals and/or curriculum specialists. In 2005, I obtained a Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum & Instruction from Texas A& M University. In 1985, I earned a Master of Education in Special Education from Prairie View A&M University; and in 1981 I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Speech Pathology/Audiology. I specialize in Multi-cultural education and hold certifications in Early Childhood Handicapped, Mid-Management and Educational Diagnostician. I live in Houston with my husband, Roy, my 9 year old daughter, Kelly, and our dog Floppy.

When I am not working, I spend time with my family and close friends, but I also find time to write and market my book. In addition, I visit public school campuses as an author. I enjoy working with children as my goal is to instill a sense of empowerment and ownership of their identity.

Tell us about the genre of your work.

The genre of my work centers on Fiction, chapter books, bilingual and multicultural categories.

Why did you choose this genre?

This genre is passionate to me because my platform centers on diversity issues and instilling in children a love for self first as well as others.

What are some of your books, stories that have been published?

I have published one book, No Tildes on Tuesday.

What ages do you direct your books?

My books are directed toward children aged 7-13 years.

Tell us about your book, and where we may find it.

No Tildes on Tuesday is a children’s chapter book. It has 96 pages and 10 black and white illustrations. My book can be found at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, The Bookery (El Paso, TX), and Left Bank Books Bookstore (St. Louis, MO). It can also be found on line at:,, Tate Publishing and Enterprises.

No Tildes on Tuesday - ISBN: 978-1-61663-689-0

Do your books have a teaching objective? If so, what is it?

Yes, my book has a teaching objective. In order for my book to be used as an educational material and more useful in classroom settings, the fictional story can be coupled with the worksheet that I’ve included at the end of it. Educators (teachers, counselors and social workers) may use the worksheet to elicit dialogue and friendly discourse among students.

How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

The names of places and characters in my books always stems from places that, and people who I know in my personal life. Although my characters are disguised, I try to give my readers a picturesque view of my journey. For example, in the book that I am currently writing, Dedicated Identity, I named the dog portrayed in this book Sargy. My uncle’s dog was named Sergeant, so I shortened the dogs’ name. When I think of Sargy, I have fond memories of my uncle who is now deceased. By doing so, writing takes own a soothing personal approach for me.

How did you develop the character/s of your in each of your books?

My characters are developed by crafting a detailed character study of how I’d like them to look, act or feel. These include their name, age, appearance, relationships with other characters, and personality.

Is there a unique character or a recurring character if you have more than one published or to be published book?

Isabella, my main character, is biracial. Because my message concerns self identity and strength for realizing and taking ownership of one’s self, I spend a lot of time shaping Isabella’s character so that my message resonates in the mind of the reader.

What is your favorite thing about your book/s?

The favorite thing about my books is the message that I hope to deliver to children which is a love of self and empowerment.

Is your book illustrated? If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience?

After consulting with my publisher about my character’s; how they should look, age, personalities, and how I as the author imagine them, within my book the reader will find 10 black and white illustrations of characters who will give a feel of who they are inside and out.

Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published?

I wouldn’t say that there is a problem with getting children’s book published. It all depends on who you want to publish your book, how long you are willing to wait to be published, and what standards you may have for getting your book published.

Why and when did you begin writing?

How I began my writing comes with a story that I’d like to share:

Approximately five years ago, I was engaged in, what I thought at first, was a friendly conversation with a group of ladies at my place of employment. As mothers, we often talked back and forth about daily activities that our children were involved in. We did this often to amuse ourselves, or so I thought, and generally ended with much laughter among the group.

When I ended my “story for the day” on the subject of my daughter’s latest activity, one of the ladies turned and said, “Well, she’s going to have psychological problems anyway." I looked at her and asked, “What?!” She went on to say, “She’s biracial, and all biracial children end up with psychological problems."

This woman was the first person who'd ever made a statement like this to me. What she claimed never crossed my mind before. Why? Because my daughter is a charming, well-rounded, culturally balanced, beautiful biracial girl who excels academically, and I might add that she's one very fine pianist. She has friends of all races, heritages, ethnicities, and she loves people. In fact, if someone ever refers to my daughter as one ethnic group over another, she quickly informs them that she is neither one over the other, but both. She loves all of who she is, and is very proud of both her heritages.

Well, I can tell you this, I have heard about and read of stories of biracial children and adults alleging that they've encountered problems because they are biracial, but I truly hadn’t spent anytime at all pondering over this subject where my child is concerned.

I suppose this topic didn’t affect me as a parent because I have ensured that I’ve done my part in balancing out my child’s life to include knowledge of both heritages, and pointedly building her character and self-esteem. I believe that issues, good or bad, have to do with parenting and environmental situations in totality.

Now, because I happen to be the mother of a biracial child, I felt that if there are those that declare that because a child is biracial they will automatically have psychological problems, I needed to set my writing and platform in motion.

Although I have wanted to write children’s books for some time now, that moment set the precedent for me doing business as, Books That Sow: Strength Character & Diversity. I needed to get a collection of books written and published that would build character, self-worth and empowerment in children, all children, whether monoracial, biracial or multiracial. I want children to read my books and use my materials.

What is your writing schedule?

I often write in the early part of the day, or late at night, but I especially favor early mornings. I love the quiet and peacefulness that early morning brings. Many times I can hear birds chirping and see squirrels moving about on power lines. Once my husband, daughter and dog are settled in, I can write with ease and comfort.

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

Currently, I am working on a sequel to No Tildes on Tuesday. I hope to title it Dedicated Identity. Dedicated Identity has a message of identity ownership. My main character, Isabella, goes full circle as she moves into her new home, school and environment, but she is in for quite a surprise.

As I complete Dedicated Identity, I am writing in a helpful tips page entitled: Positive Approaches in Forming Healthy Identity in Biracial/Multiracial Children. On this page, I will begin with an Introduction followed by tips for parents, educators, and then the biracial/multiracial child. Finally, I will end with a message specifically for the child which contains acknowledgement and affirmation statements.

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?

I want to encourage writers to write with purpose and passion. One should never give up if they have a message to share.

What do you do when you are not writing?

When I am not writing, I spend time marketing my book, working in public education and as an adjunct professor, spending time with my immediate family and friends, and visiting school districts as an author.

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

I never dreamed that my book, No Tildes on Tuesday, would be approved for the shelves of Barnes and Noble Booksellers via a letter from Corporate Office two months after the official release date.

What to know more about Cherrye and her work? Visit these websites:

Email address:


Friday, December 23, 2011

Young Adult Urban Fantasy Author, Michael Young, Shares Insight Into His Novel,

From my youth, I have been used to seeing the world.  My father was an U.S. Air Force pilot and spent most of his career flying huge C-5 cargo planes.  That meant that we never stayed in one place long.  I counted once and I went to something like 12 different schools from grades K-12.
I also had the wonderful experience of growing up with seven siblings, all younger, split evenly between boys and girls.  We used to get funny looks when we all went out in public, and it meant always sharing a room, but I would not have had it any other way.  We grew up as the best of friends and still love to be around each other.
After high school, I spent two years as a missionary in Frankfurt, Germany for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  There I grew to love all things German from the food to the language, and when I returned, I majored in German Teaching at Brigham Young University with a minor in music. While still in college, I married we now have two wonderful sons.  Our youngest has Down’s Syndrome, and that has been a wonderful learning experience as a parent.
In addition to writing, I love to be on stage in Community Theater and participate in all things musical.  For about a year and a half, I have been a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and love getting to travel with them and experience excellence in choral music. I also spent three-years ringing English Hand bells with the Bells on Temple Square.
I am working developing curriculum for a language-learning company and trying to work my way up to being a full-time writer.  
Tell us about the genre of your work. 
I love writing science fiction and fantasy in all its known forms and maybe in a few that have not been invented yet.  In all that I write, I also like to add elements of historical fiction.  For example, in my first novel “The Canticle Kingdom”, I set it in the 1940s and had the plot affected by some of the events of World War II.  In my latest, “The Last Archangel,” the destruction of Pompeii plays an integral role in the story.
Why did you choose this genre?
I have always had such a crazy imagination that it would seem a shame to write only about reality. I grew up devouring fantasy books almost as quickly as I could get my hands on them, and I am sure that has something to do with the kind of writing I do.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
The Canticle Kingdom, which is a Young Adult Fantasy, Portrait of a Mother”, which is an inspirational pamphlet, The Last Archangel, which is a YA Urban Fantasy and two short stories: “Subway Survey” in Allegory, and “Dynamic Duos” in Mindflights. 
Where can we find your work?
Title: The Last Archangel,
ISBN: 978-1599558943
Purchase Link:
Can you tell us about your books?
Xandir has been exiled to earth until the end of time. But when his cherub trainee disappears, Xandir makes a deal with rogue angels and giants that could restore life to the mortal woman he loves and end his assignment as a destroying angel in exchange for helping them bring about the end of the world and all of mankind.
Title: The Canticle Kingdom
ISBN: 978-1599553627
Purchase Link:
When a young blacksmith's apprentice, named Johann, discovers that his homeland is contained entirely within a small music box, it is up to him to protect the only home he has ever known. With the help of an impossibly ancient knight, his best friend, Brigitta, and his trusty homemade sword, Johann races to find the only people who can who can stop the dark power that threatens to destroy the Canticle Kingdom an unsuspecting family and an old woodcarver from the outside world. Enter a world full of magic, danger, loyalty and bravery in this exciting debut from Michael Young, and discover that even the most ordinary objects and people might be hiding something truly wonderful inside.

Title: “Portrait of a Mother”
ISBN: 978-1599558103
Purchase Link:
The time has come for little Nina to choose her mother, but she is not sure how to decide! This tender and heartwarming tale of the true essence of motherhood is the perfect gift for all the women in your life.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

I have lived in Europe, Asia and all over the U.S. I have heard all sorts of names.  Therefore, it is one part reality, one part imagination, blend the two and see what comes out.  The Last Archangel has to do with angels and so I also added some ones based on biblical names. Many of the angels have names that ending in “el,” which in Hebrew was the name of Deity, which is also seen in many common names today such as Michael, Rachel and Daniel.  The one exception is Xandir, who is a fallen angel and thus not named like other angels.

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

Xandir is a destroying angel with very little job satisfaction, and who has had the job for thousands of years.   I took some time to explore what would happen to someone trapped like that, how he would view the rest of the world, how he would react to his superiors, and how he would deal with the mountain of regrets he has piled up over the years.

As a destroying angel, he carries two swords, a light one and a dark one, symbolizing justice and mercy.  On each one of his assignments, he has to make the decision of whether to blast the people involved or to show them lenience.  I found that this was an interesting way to develop the character by showing how he rationalizes his decisions.

What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?

There are a few villains, but the main baddy is one of the original bad guys: Cain.  I have tried to flesh him out a bit and set him up as someone who doesn’t want to take over Heaven, but wants to replace the Devil as the baddest guy in all creation. Oh, and he has a few sons who are still around who each bad in their own way—one who takes people down with his burly arms and one who takes people down by luring them into traps with mystical music. I took the names of the sons from the Bible: Jubal and Tubal, but fleshed them out with my imagination.  It even does mention in the Bible that Jubal was a musician so I ran with that idea.

What is your favorite thing about your book?
I love making people look at things in a new light—things like angels, demons, and even abominable snowmen.  The cover, though, is a close second.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
You have to get out your thinking cap, but a different brand than usual.  I think it looks like those pointy wizard’s hats. The rules of normal reality do not apply, but the world still needs to make sense.  It is a great deal of freedom, but also creates high expectations in the reader to take them on a journey that does not feel too much like other fantasy novels.  
Why and when did you begin writing?
I began the serious attempt in high school, in great part because of a great writing teacher (strangely, his name was also Mr. Young) who pushed me to explore different kinds of writing and made me realize that I really enjoyed it and had a knack for it.  I read so much growing up that the idea of writing brewed in my mind for a very long time before I attempted it seriously.  I wrote my first novel in high school just to prove to myself that I could do it.
What is your writing schedule?
I carry something to write with everywhere to get little snippets in and then I write like mad at night when the kids go to bed.  It may sound crazy, but that slow and steady does churn out books. For me, slow and steady works a lot better than occasional mad dashes.  That way I do not ever feel like I am out of the writing mindset.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I am working on several other fantasy/science fiction novels, and looking for a literary agent. I am excited about an epic fantasy in which people have had to wear masks all the time for 1,000 years.  I would also love to continue both The Last Archangel and The Canticle Kingdom into series. My interests also including writing for the stage and screen, but right now I am just trying to learn how it is done.  I preserve all my ideas in a document on my computer and have plenty to keep me happily writing for years to come.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Find someone to be your “cheerleader.”  (Pom-poms optional) Writing takes a lot of time, effort and determination, and it is easy just to give up and decide it is not worth the effort.  Make sure there is someone who can cheer you on, and encourage you through those hard times to keep you motivated. My wife plays this role very well…without pom-poms.
Invaluable to me had also been realistic goal setting.  I find that if you have something to aim at, you get better, and have results that are more consistent.  I usually set a word-count goal and then break up that big goal into doable daily word counts. 
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Do not ever stop working on your writing.  Just because you get something in print does not mean you can stop trying to improve. Study writing books, analyze books in your genre, join a writer’s group, attend conferences, and above all...write all the time.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Probably something musical.  I love to play the piano and sing.  I have even dabbled in writing my own music. I also love hanging out with the family.  My sons are both very cheerful, happy little boys and always cheer me up. I also try to keep reading, and I love to be able to say that my leisure reading doubles as “research” for my writing.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
Getting my first book contract was a major one and seeing one of my books on the shelf for the first time, nestled right next to “Harry Potter.”  Also getting the phone call saying that I had been accepting into the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I had always wanted to be a member, and I was not sure I was going to be good enough.  Also, becoming a father was a huge one for me.  I grew up with many children in the house, and I have always aspired to have some of my own. 
You can find out more about this author on his website at