Author Spotlight: Doug E. Jones

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Authors Welcome is excited to spotlight author Doug E. Jones. His debut novel is titled Nowhere To Goa: Bhang Lassis, Rickshaws, and Holy Cows! He graduated from UCLA with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Creative Writing. Doug works full-time as a writer and devotes much of his time to promoting his book.

We had a chance to speak to Doug about his book and characters, as well as his journey as an author.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

DJ:  My novel Nowhere To Goa: Bhang Lassis, Rickshaws, and Holy Cows! is a travel adventure/coming of age novel that takes off when Scott, a studious sophomore at Northwestern University, flies halfway around the world to bring home his troublesome twin brother who has just been released from jail in India after a run-in with the law; something to do with a bhang lassi, a rickshaw, and a holy cow!

AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

DJ: The story is told through the eyes of a 19-year-old boy but what he discovers when he hits the road is universal: Love, Compassion, Religion, and Danger. And if you love to travel and discover new and interesting places, then this book is a perfect fit.

AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?

DJ: I’ve had the title since traveling in India years ago. Goa is a tropical state south of Bombay on the western coast. It’s where a lot of travelers flock to at Christmas. The title was something I wrote down in my journal. I just didn’t have the story yet.

AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?
DJ: The story centers around twin brothers who are complete opposites so I knew I wanted a sun/moon (almost yin yang) feel to the cover and hired a graphic artist on the internet through Elance. I drew a very rough sketch which the artist then brought to life with a lot of back and forth.

AW: How long did it take to complete your novel?

DJ: It took two years, writing just about every day. It’s 135,000 words. One year to write, one year to edit. Luckily, I never got writer’s block on this project. I knew where I wanted my character to go and roughly how I wanted his story to end, but if you let your character’s decisions come organically and plausibly with some sense of truth, then you shouldn’t get stuck.

AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first novel published?

DJ: At first I tried the traditional New York route through the internet. You can go to the websites for literary agencies and publishers and find out their submission guidelines. However, when you submit without a connection, it can be really difficult to even get a response. That said, the landscape is changing more and more every day, and I think self-publishing will be the next big wave.

AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

DJ: It would be easy to choose the protagonist, the boy who tells the story, but I really like a British woman he meets named Sam. She’s strong, beautiful, a seasoned traveler, and someone who prepares the boy for the rough road ahead.

AW: What authors inspired you?

DJ: Before starting this book, I read an interview with movie director Quentin Tarantino in which he was asked what kind of movies does he like to write. And his response was that he wrote movies that he wanted to watch. So that’s what I did. I wrote a story that I would like to read. As for other authors, I love John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut, and Tom Robbins.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

DJ: I didn’t have a choice. I’ve always felt compelled to write. I was the guy writing on napkins and up and down my arm.

AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?

DJ: I used to write for the TV show Charmed, and I hated to get re-written. I understood that the series needed an unifying voice and tone but to have someone delete your words, even if it’s for the greater good, is really painful.

AW: What is the best compliment?

DJ: My favorite comment was: “I loved your book. I’m going to buy copies for all my friends.”

AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new novel or project that you are working on?

DJ: I have a finished screenplay that I want to convert into a novel. It’s centered around a true story from the 1970s, a time period that I hold a particular passion for.

AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

DJ: If you have literary contacts, use them. But if you don’t and want complete control of your work then it’s real simple nowadays to self-publish.

AW: How do you market your book?

DJ: I have a Facebook page devoted solely to the book. You can pay to “boost” your posts and place adds for your book in the news feed. I also have a website with pictures and video of India where you can read chapter 1 of the novel and which, of course, links to the page where you can purchase the book (paperback or eBook) on Amazon. And I use Twitter (and hashtags) to find people with similar interests to those being lived in the story.

Readers can find Doug’s website at http://www.nowheretogoa.com/Home_Page.html. He also has a Facebook page dedicated to my book, and you can follow him on Twitter at @Freshguy88. Readers can check out the first chapter of Nowhere to Goa on the website at http://www.nowheretogoa.com/Chapter_1.html.

If you would like to be interviewed on Authors Welcome, please contact us at AuthorsWelcome @ gmail.com.

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Author Spotlight: Judy Snider

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Today Authors Welcome is delving into children’s book publishing with our spotlight on new author Judy Snider. Judy was raised in Michigan, lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband Gil and her cats Lucy and Bailey. She also has two grown sons, Jon and Nick.

A retired social worker, Judy had the joyful job of working at Cape Henry Collegiate School for eight years. She occasionally does school visits in her city, as she loves reading her book to kids! Goldy’s Baby Socks is Judy’s first children’s book that she has published and it is due out soon. We had the opportunity to sit and chat with Judy about her upcoming books and how she got started as an author.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Judy: My children’s picture book is Goldy’s Baby Socks. It is the story of a family who adopts a cat and all the fun that follows.

AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Judy: The intended audience is children age 4-7. So far the feedback has been very good. Kids love the book, and find it funny, yet sweet. It is also about a cat, so the younger kids love to make cat sounds.

AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?

Judy: I had a cat called Goldy who always brought us socks as presents. I decided to call the book Goldy’s Baby Socks since it was almost as if she was carrying a baby kitten in her mouth. Her picture is on the book’s website so kids can see what she looked like and make the connection.

AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?

Judy: For this book Thomas McAteer did the cover design and illustrations. He was an illustrator who I found through Xlibris. It was a fascinating experience working with an illustrator while we lived in different cities. I gave him the story and a brief idea of how I would love to see some of the scenes be, and he created the illustrations and cover. He would send them to me for my thoughts and approval. I think the cover of the book is one of the most important parts of a children’s book. It needs to catch a child’s eye to pique their interest as to what’s inside.

AW: How long did it take to complete your picture book?

Judy: It took about 2 months off and on to write it, and then of course to edit, edit , edit. It was published in about 6 months as a print on demand with Xlibris. I wrote another picture book, I Love You, Be Careful with my sister and it was illustrated by Cady Driver. This book targets adults and that took about 6 months as well.

AW: Did you ever experience writer’s block? If so, what did you do to get out of the funk?

Judy: Yes, I did experience writer’s block and chocolate always seemed to help and listening to music. I just wrote my first mystery novella for adults, called, “No Where to Run,” which is currently in the editorial process.  I am working on a second one, and for those I really need music and chocolate. I also just leave the computer and walk outside, and allow thoughts to just come to me.

AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first book published? 

Judy: I have written picture books since third grade. I took a writing course with The Institute of Children’s Literature years ago and submitted my picture book to some traditional publishers, and one said we are going out of business, but publish this one with someone. I read to children at a library in a school, and they loved the manuscript for Goldy’s Baby Socks, and kept asking when I would get it published. I decided to go with a Print On Demand publisher , found an illustrator, and then had so much fun reading the books to children and marketing the book. It really is up to the author to market their book, so they need to like it themselves I feel.  My goal was to read my book to children and see them laugh…and they did…the fun part of being published.

AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Judy: Lucy is definitely my favorite character. She is smart, funny, and is kind to animals. I wanted to make Lucy from a multi-cultural family and make her the kind of girl that many children could relate to. In general, I tend to like strong female characters who also caring and keep going thru tough times.

AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series.

Judy: Goldy really did bring socks to us every night. It was just her special thing. In I Love You, Be Careful, my sister and I would laugh at how often we said , “Be careful,” to our children, and they would probably be thinking, Oh, Mom.

AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?

Judy: I love so many books, but love beautiful illustrations and books that touch the heart. Each holiday we would find books that were kind and wonderful. I love Mary Hoffman’s book, An Angel Just Like Me.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Judy: I have written books since third grade. Being in my 60s now, I have written poetry, many children’s manuscripts, and also song lyrics. I have always loved to read, and most of the time writing is a joy for me. I am loving writing novellas now, and that is my new chapter in my writing career. When my kids were little I took a writing course by mail, joined a writer’s group, and continued reading. I have always loved books  and loved Nancy Drew Mysteries. I can’t draw , so finding good illustrators was so important to me as well as my sister for our book.

AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?

Judy: I was told that I preach too much in some of my manuscripts, and that I’m trying to hard to teach a lesson. Thank goodness for editors, as I need help with spelling, and sentence structure.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Judy: The books are funny and heartwarming and I Love You, Be Careful makes a sweet gift for new moms and brides. Most parents can relate to it.

AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?

Judy: I am a retired social worker, retired from working at a school, but I volunteer a lot. I also help my husband who wrote a medical/political thriller set in New York City and Ukraine banter ideas about his second book he is writing.

AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new novel or project that you are working on?

Judy: I will always write, but hope to finish my second book, am trying to get my second Goldy book picked up by a publisher, collaborating with another author on a script she did , and writing and collaborating on more songs.

AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Judy: Edit, Edit….don’t give up- really don’t give up…you can write a book….children’s or novel….write every day if only for 10 minutes.

AW: How do you market your book?

Judy: I promote myself in Alumni magazines and local newspaper articles. I have also joined groups with subject matter similar to my book (Cat Writer’s Association).  I have also worked Marsha Casper Cook and Virginia Grenier, who  do great book tours. They also made a book video for me, and let me do interviews on Blog Talk Radio, etc.

Readers can find me on my websites  www.goldysbabysocks.com and www.iloveyoubecareful.com.  There are pictures and videos, and you can learn more about the book.

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Author Spotlight: Samuel Jay

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For our first Authors Welcome spotlight, we’d like to welcome suspense author Samuel Jay. Samuel Jay and his wife, Joan, live in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. The suspense author is a public relations professional who has successfully handled major public issue campaigns.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Samuel: My novel, Shadow of Guilt, which was called “a powerful reading experience” by a member of the National Book Critics Circle, finds prominent PR man Chip Keller on top of the world, but it’s about to come crashing in on him. On a night he could’ve been home, he puts business first, which leaves his family at the mercy of a vengeful arsonist. Stricken with guilt by the outcome, Chip drops out of life, then slowly begins a monumental struggle to reclaim it, trying to rescue a woman who also is drowning in guilt.

AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Samuel: My intended audience covers a wide adult swath since it focuses on the family — including married mothers and success-driven males. They should read the book because it dramatizes the importance of close-knit families and the loving relationship of man and wife.

AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?

Samuel: I came up with the title, Shadow of Guilt, by focusing on the theme and picked its title because it captures the essence of the story.
AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?

Samuel: I’m a public relations professional fortunate enough to have a very good artist. Carol Mealy did a graphic search and provided me with several choices.

AW: How long did it take to complete your novel?
Samuel: It took two and half years to write the novel.

AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first novel published? About how long did it take?

Samuel: Getting my book published was tough. After getting more than a dozen query rejects from literary agents, my mentor (via a Writer’ Digest correspondence course) advised trying a small publisher in Philadelphia. The publisher liked the story but said it was too long, 160,000 words. I had to cut 40,000. I did so and then the wait began. Nine months later, after being in business for 30 years, the publisher went belly-up. I then self-published via a POD (Print-on-Demand) publisher, which took only a month.

AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Samuel: My favorite character is Chip Keller. He made a forgivable mistake, suffered the consequences, and then recovered to recapture his life.

AW: Who is your least favorite character and what makes them less appealing to you?

Samuel: His PR partner. Less appealing because he is focused on the smaller aspects of life.

AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series

Samuel: It led to writing and publishing the sequel, Shadow of Love, continuing the hero’s eventual recapturing of his life.

AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike? Did they inspire you?

Samuel: Eye of the Needle and Lie Down with Lions, both by Ken Follett inspired me. They are alike in that they set the scene and get the action going right up front, then move along in action and suspense.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Samuel: I always wanted to become an author but never had the time in the PR business. It was a goal I was not about to give up, so I just made the time, as demanding as it was.

AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?

Samuel: The toughest criticism came from getting query reject after query reject from literary agents.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Samuel: My best compliment came from a Writer’s Digest contest reviewer, who wrote: “Move over John Grisham. Samuel Jay is a masterful storyteller who has created compelling characters that leap off the page in a suspenseful page-turner.”

AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?

Samuel: I’m also president of a family-owned water utility, selling the PR business to do so after my father unexpectedly passed away.

AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new novel or project that you are working on?

Samuel: You can expect more novels from me in the future. I just finished another suspense novel, Deception, a love story triangle of action and romance.

AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Samuel: My tips to others: Never give up! It is a tough road and it’s getting tougher, but the satisfaction of producing something you believe in is a better alternative. Do your best at getting an agent, stick with it, but if you fail, only then would I self-publish, since that avenue has its rewards.

AW: How to you market your book?

Samuel: I have a website www.samueljaynovels.com. I also market my books on social media, and do occasional small, local ads, press releases, library talks, and book club talks.

AW: Do you have a Facebook author page or Twitter that we can give out to our readers so they can follow you?

Samuel: Readers can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Welcome!

Authors Welcome is a upcoming blog dedicated to promoting new and experienced authors and their books. Interested in having us do an author spotlight? Contact us at authorswelcome [@] gmail.com for more information.

We hope to have the blog running with daily spotlights very soon!