Author Spotlight: Lurea C. McFadden

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Lurea McFadden is the author of the FeMALE TRAITSTM Trilogy, Men Don’t Leave, Plan B, Some Kind of Crazy, and her latest Bad Luck. She was born in 1960 in Harlem, NY, and is now a native of Trenton, New Jersey, where she works for the state. Lurea attended Jacksonville University where she received a Bachelors of Arts Degree in History, and has spent many years working in the public school system as a Social Studies Teacher.

Authors Welcome had the opportunity to speak with Lura McFadden about the FeMALE TRAITS Triology.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.   

Lurea: There is actually a Trilogy with the first book as follows – The story of sexy, smart and very married Grace Trufant and her playa lifestyle. She is married but somehow she requires more attention than her upstanding man can offer. She plays hard; in fact she is a “playa” in her own right. This is the tale of Grace’s extra love affairs and her lessons learned.

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

Lurea: My intended audience is young adult to any age. This story is designed to entertain and show all sides of human nature.

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

Lurea: My original thought was to show how a woman can make the same mistakes in a relationship as a man and it is viewed differently.

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

Lurea: My design is supposed to show the sneakier side of human nature. I shoot all of my pictures for the cover and I enjoy sitting down with my designers to create the cover. On the first part of the Trilogy, I farmed out that duty but on the rest I sat down with each designer.

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

Lurea: Each of my novels usually takes about four months to complete.

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

Lurea: I have never really experienced block. There were times when I changed directions but they seem to flow pretty easily.

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

Lurea: I sent out inquiries for nearly eight months before I decided to self-publish. The time to get it into book form was about two months from start to finish.

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

Lurea: My main character, Grace Trufant is and will always be my favorite. She just seems to process so much daring and nerve that you just have to like her and hate her at the same time.

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

Lurea: That is hard because I created them all. It is a little hard to favor less any one of your creations. That being said, I might pick Brien (the love interest) for giving in so easily to the things he could not change.

AW: If you could change only one thing about your novel, what would it be?

Lurea: Perhaps the title, not because I don’t like it but rather because it made for such a hard sell when vending. (Glad I didn’t)

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

Lurea: I had to change the cover to get it to FLY!!!!!

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

Lurea: Can’t say I can recall anything similar. I try to be different in how I twist my stories and even how I end my books.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Lurea: I honestly began writing at work during break and lunch-time. I began to let my mind wonder and I began to imagine what certain situations would be like. I began to type out the scenarios and a novel was born.

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

Lurea: That has to be when readers don’t get my endings. I enjoy open ended tales and like to leave the story to grow in the mind of the readers, so sometimes in the eyes of readers I don’t tie up the end as well as they would like. Some readers believe I took the easy way out and I believe that sometimes there is no neat and clean ending in life.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Lurea: I often read and hear that the reader could not put it down. This pleases me to no end. I am always glad to learn that a reader ‘stayed up all night’ reading my stuff!!!!!

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

Lurea: I am employed full-time for the State of New Jersey.

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

Lurea: I am currently working with a partner on a Screenplay based on the FeMALE TRAITS Trilogy.

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

Lurea: My advice is to do the work. In other words, stay in there and try to produce the best work you can. Take criticisms and learn from them and don’t be discouraged when moving forward in life.

AW: How to you market your book?

Lurea: I have done book fairs and store signings. The Internet’s Social Networking is the method I use most these days. I work through Facebook and Twitter to create interest in my work. I encourage spreading the word through all medias including within the books themselves.

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

Lurea: I can be followed on Twitter at LureaCMcFadden  or readers can check out my website at www.lureamcfadden.com

Author Spotlight: Anne Stenhouse

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Anne Stenhouse has always loved words. Reading them and using them greedily, she can’t truly remember a time when she couldn’t escape into the pages of a book and certainly can’t remember when she couldn’t talk and ask questions. A published and performed playwright, she studied both English and History at University in Edinburgh, and finds it a great joy to combine these two disciplines in her first novel, Mariah’s Marriage.

Being a playwright means Anne loves dialogue and knows a piece is going well when she ‘begins to hear the characters talking to each other’. She has been a civil servant, full-time Mum and, for a while, a worker in an Addictions’ rehabilitation unit. Authors Welcome had a chance to chat with Anne Stenhouse regarding her career as a writer, and her latest novel.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Anne: Bella’s Betrothal by Anne Stenhouse is set in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1826. Lady Isabella Wormsley is fleeing a scandal and travelling to live with her uncle and aunt in Edinburgh’s George Square, when her room at a Dalkeith inn is invaded by Laird and architect, Charles Lindsay. Charles is aware association with Bella could harm his fledgling career and yet he cannot allow Bella to be further compromised or injured by Graham Direlton. Bella wonders if she can trust this handsome neighbor.

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

Anne: My intended audience is the reader who enjoys sound historical background, sparkling dialogue and the age-old battle of wits between two attractive protagonists.

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

Anne: My first novel is called Mariah’s Marriage and that title kept me grounded as a debut writer. It drew me back to what the book was about. Bella’s Betrothal carries on the alliterative scheme.

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

Anne: My cover is by CK Volnek for MuseItUp and she did Mariah’s cover, too. Charlie read my answers to the cover art form and took it from there. We tried out 2 or 3 ideas and eventually settled on this great townscape with Edinburgh Castle in the background, Bella’s vibrant red hair in the foreground and Charles midway between the two.

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

Anne: It was written in stages. Chapter one appeared in the Mills and Boon online competition. I wrote a 50,000 word ms during NaNoWriMo of 2012 and completed it in February 2013.

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

Anne:  Yes. Set self on chair and type. Words, even awful words in poor order, can be edited into prose. A blank page is just that.

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

Anne: I’ve been writing for many years and have had some local success in Scotland with stage plays. I wanted to try prose and had to overcome the playwright’s habit of leaving a lot for the Director and actors to interpret. Adding in things like what a person is thinking is very hard to begin with. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the UK and wrote a book each year in their New Members’ Scheme. The crits written on those were so useful. Mariah’s Marriage was my 4th and I sent it to several publishers before MIU accepted it in late 2012.

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

Anne: I do like Bella a lot. I also have red hair, although I can’t draw or ride a horse. I feel for the women of that time who had so much talent that had to be hidden in case it made them unmarriageable.

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

Bella’s cousin, Lucilla, is a jealous envious girl whose main motivation in life is to spoil whatever others have achieved.

Anne: If you could change only one thing about your novel, what would it be? Can’t think! Maybe I’m still too new at this to work that out.

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

Anne: My books, while in the Regency type, are set just outside the period and I can walk the streets Bella walked.

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

I enjoy Jane Austen and the Scottish novelist Susan Ferrier because of their social comedy and strong dialogue. Also Georgette Heyer who had a wry take on it all. Yes, these ladies did inspire me.

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

Anne: An artistic director once told me I was afraid of confrontation. I do struggle to maintain conflict as I like everything to resolve happily.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Anne: A friend came to see my first play and said in great excitement, “That was the co-op, tell me that was the co-op. My mum used to work in one just like that.” It was and I was really pleased he’d ‘got it’. The co-op or store was a Uk marketing chain from which housewives bought their groceries – and a lot else and there was a Funeral Director’s arm – and were paid a Dividend on the sum of their purchases. My aunt worked in the village one and so did I as a student.

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

Anne: I have worked in Addictions’ Rehabilitation and the civil service, but everything is now writing related.

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

Anne: I am nearly finished writing a continuation for characters from Mariah’s Marriage. After that, I have another of those RNA NWS manuscripts in need of editing.

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published? For readers = Be open to an author’s voice. Sometimes it takes the whole book to make the circle complete, but it’s usually worth sticking with it. For writers trying to get published – keep trying. Value any advice offered. Editors are really busy people and if they’ve taken time to make a comment, it’s worth taking note.

AW: How to you market your book?

Anne: I try for reviews. I blog. I visit blogs. I have a presence on Facebook and on Twitter at @anne_stenhouse. I seek out opportunities to appear in magazines. I have flyers that I distribute to anybody who’ll take them. Local shops are very helpful and display them. I also have a blog at http://goo.gl/h4DtKv

 

Author Spotlight: Jennifer Ponce

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Jeninfer Ponce is an urban fantasy author who published her first book The Bazaar in January, 2014. She works as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as travels throughout the Panhandle of Nebraska to speak about healthy relationships, the dynamics of intimate partner violence, and healthy sexuality. She’s been reading since forever and thinks the only bad book is one that hasn’t been written yet.

Authors Welcome had the opportunity to asked Jennifer a few questions about her book and her writing process.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Jennifer: The idea for The Bazaar started as a dream. Devany Miller, my main character, didn’t come until later, when I realized that the dream was only a scene. A good scene, but still, one scene does not a novel make. I had to work backward from the scene to figure out who it was happening to, why it was happening, and where I’d go after that. It took quite a bit of playing around with words to get to the book I have now. The first chapter was the hardest and I swear I rewrote that at least ten times. Completely rewrote it. Scrapped the old, started again. Good thing, too. I love the beginning now and it was worth the sweat and tears.

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

Jennifer: My “Ideal Reader” is someone who loves adventure and fantasy. They love strong female characters, horror, monsters, and funny stuff. I expected that women would enjoy my book and have been quite pleased that I’ve had several great reviews from men who thought it was great, too.

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

Jennifer: The title, The Bazaar, comes from the bazaar in the book, where the outlaw witches sell human body parts to fuel their magic. It’s not a good place. I used The Bazaar as well because it’s a homophone for bizarre—and there certainly are a lot of bizarre things in my book. (A floating, talking fleshcrawler head, for one. His name is Nex. He grows on you, dangling intestines and all.)

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

Jennifer: Despite all current wisdom, I designed the cover myself. I found GIMP this summer and fell in love. How could I not make my own cover? Plus, I put Nex on there, using my youngest son’s head as the framework. He loves that he’s on the cover, albeit looking quite different! My cover went through almost as many incarnations as my first chapter. I asked a lot of people for their feedback and adjusted, changed, and revised until I had something I really liked, that represented the story I wrote.

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

Jennifer: This book took about six months to finish. Rewrites and revisions took about two years. I’ve learned I have to give myself deadlines in order to get things finished faster. I do think the extra rewrites and revisions helped me find the best first chapter, as well as gave me a chance to figure out that the book would be a series and not a standalone.

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

Jennifer: Yes. A lot of the block was me not setting a deadline for myself and not being disciplined enough to write every day no matter what. Now that I’ve made writing a habit (and I’ve written over 260 days in a row now) I don’t get writer’s block. I don’t allow it. If I have to write something brand new to get the words out, I do that. If I have to write utter dreck to get the words out, I do that. My deal with myself is that I write. Sick or not. Busy or not. Tired or not.

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

Jennifer: I submitted my novel to Harper Voyager last year, during their open call. My book made it past the first, second, and third cuts (almost a year) before they finally sent me the rejection. By that time, I’d decided I didn’t want to submit and resubmit and subject myself to anymore year-long wait times. I’d been researching self-publishing for a long time, liking the idea of having control over my own destiny. I’m not only happy that I decided to do it on my own, I’ve become a better writer because of it. Or, perhaps it would be better to say, a more disciplined writer. I like the feeling of accomplishment. I like seeing my book on Amazon, on my Kindle, on my bookshelf and knowing I did the work to make that possible.

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

Jennifer: That’s a hard one! (And I’ll bet every writer says that, huh?) I love Devany, my main character. She is a lot braver and more courageous than I am. Then there’s Nex, a complete surprise as a character (I had no idea his mate would take his head and give it to Devany, and that, once severed, he could live on as a new creature.) Plus, I enjoy Neutria, the assassin spider (who was only going to be an assassin and not a main character. She was in that original dream. Little did I know how strong her personality was.)

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

Jennifer: I don’t care for Yarnell. He’s the leader of the group of outlaw witches and he believes in the justness of what he’s doing. He thinks of humans as cattle and doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with dragging them to his world and using their body parts to fuel his magic. His people are losing their power and humans are an easy fix. If a cow could fuel your house for a month, effectively cutting your electric bill to zero, wouldn’t you go grab yourself a cow? He feels justified in taking lives and that makes him oogy, dangerous, and very unappealing.

AW: If you could change only one thing about your novel, what would it be?

Jennifer: There are a few bits and bobs of setting I would add to. I know my strong suit isn’t describing the setting and I wouldn’t mind going back and taking a crack at making the places in the book pop more.

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

Jennifer: Many of my characters, species, and other-worldly place names came from me playing with Google translate. For instance, I have beings called Skriven in my book. They are demon-like and they live in the spaces between worlds. I came up with Skriven by typing in demon and translating the word into other languages. A little adjustment. A little tweak, and voila.

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

Jennifer: I really love Faith Hunter and her Jane Yellowrock series. At the time I wrote The Bazaar, only two of her books were out. I think her Beast and my Neutria would like each other, though Beast is a puma and Neutria is a spider. (A giant spider.) I think they would respect each other’s hunting abilities.

I also love Lilith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine series. Her demons are amazing and helped to inspire me to write my own.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Jennifer: My friend Kathy and I played with Barbie dolls growing up. Only we didn’t play the way a lot of kids did. We created elaborate plots, worked out all the scenes, and only then did the dolls come into play. It was only after carrying around the dolls became embarrassing that we had the brilliant idea of writing our stories down instead. My first writing was collaborative and fun and it grew from there.

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

Jennifer: I love to write about funny things. Silliness. Vampires who fall in love with dumb but beautiful people. Karate chopping old ladies. In college I minored in fiction writing and my professor hated my funny stuff. He didn’t get it. I worked hard on the funny stuff and he knocked it down. So anytime I write funny, I scrutinize it extra hard because of that experience.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Jennifer: One of the reviewers on Amazon, who said, “Devany Miller has earned the distinction of becoming my most favorite, fictional female character.” That whole review made my day.

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

Jennifer: I work at a domestic violence/sexual assault program. We work to empower victims of violence, help them stay safe, and raise awareness about these issues. A lot of what I do now is travel throughout our service area giving presentations and speaking to people about healthy relationships, dating violence, and sexual assault. I would like to write full-time someday. Until then, I’m working to change the world, one person at a time.

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

Jennifer: I’ve recently created what I call my Epic Two-Year Writing Schedule. I’m editing a vampire horror novel which I plan to publish in April and a lighthearted paranormal mystery romance that I will publish in May. The Bazaar is part of a series. The second book is written and needs edits and I’m currently writing the third in the series. It’ll come out in June. And many more!

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

Jennifer: Be organized. Keep track of who you’re submitting to and be persistent. I, admittedly, was not persistent or organized. I’m much more organized and persistent now, because I’m working for my own pleasure and working for myself. It made a big difference for me and my writing to go it alone.

AW: How do you market your book?

Jennifer: Good question! My next step is to sit down and work on an Epic Marketing Schedule to compliment my writing schedule.

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

Jennifer: I do! My Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/jenponceauthor My Twitter page is: @jenponceauthor. You can also visit my website at www.jenniferponce.com. I feature other authors on my page, you can see what my upcoming books are, and you can read some short stories on my blog. A one stop shop for sure.

 

If you are interested in having doing an Author Spotlight, please contact us AuthorsWelcome {@} gmail.com

Author Spotlight: Brandi Schmidt

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Tru Darling is a Sparkler. She didn’t choose to be almost electrocuted, inherit otherworldly powers, and fall for the hottest evil guy in St. Louis—but that’s exactly what happened. Her power to see true love spark in the eyes of strangers, to watch it flicker with excitement, fuse with its perfect match, or witness it burn out from despair, is a wonderful curse that drains her emotionally and physically. But she can’t afford to be weak while she’s hunting down soul mates, saving others’ faith in love, and contemplating if her hot new boyfriend is her guardian angel or the angel of death. Being a Sparkler may have its perks; enhanced vision, intuition, and physical beauty. But what of the personal costs that come with Tru’s destiny? Constant danger, unbearable pain, and lost souls she just can’t save. Tru must choose between a normal life without love or a birthright that comes with great passion, danger, and responsibility.

The Kindling is the debut novel from author Brandi Schmidt, who also is currently writing erotic fiction under the name of Elle Sharp. I had the privilege of working with Brandi as her content editor at MuseItUp Publishing, so I was very excited to ask her a few questions for one of our Author Spotlights.

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

Brandi: Women between 16 -60, but really anyone who loves a good love story. It’s a sweet romance about true love, best friends and crazy family.

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

Brandi: I get all of my inspiration from God and the Bible. Most of my stories are given to me and I am thankful for that. I didn’t ever intend to be a writer, but it’s the most amazing thing I have ever done. Sometimes you just have to go with it, have faith and never give up.

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

Brandi: The amazing Suzannah Safi designed my cover. She is the best! With MuseItUp publishing I was able to fill out a questionnaire of what my book was about, what HAD to be on the cover and what my protagonist looked like. I loved the first draft of the cover. I did want the “spark” in her eye brighter and Suzannah did make it brighter. I think the cover is amazing and yes I did cry when I saw it. I ran into the bedroom, woke up my husband and made him come see it. I texted a picture to my mom, too!

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

Brandi: It took me 7 months to complete the first draft and 4 years to complete the edits! I was a new writer and had to learn everything about the business and more importantly about myself. It took me 4 years to get published with MuseItUp Publishing. I cried like a baby when I got the e-mail accepting me. I mean, I totally freaked out! I was so happy, that was the best day ever!

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

Brandi: Not really. When I do get stuck on a scene, I take time to just think about it. I will reread the chapter before and get into the heads of my characters. They will show you the way out, you just have to be willing to listen.

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

Brandi: Wow – this could be a book. When I started I thought “hey I’m going to write a book and be like Stephenie Meyer!” Little did I know how hard it was really going to be? It took me 4 year almost to the date to get published. My first drafts were terrible! I am not kidding. My first queries were a joke! After many rejections I took leave from submitting and focused on getting the book in shape and learning as much as I could about the process of publication. I was very uneducated, but that was okay. I needed to learn. I needed to go through it all to make me a better writer. I am grateful for the journey. It if was easy everyone would do it. It takes passion, grit, and a lot of faith to get published. It’s been the best ride of my life.

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

Brandi: Tru Darling, hands down. She is so funny and real. She isn’t a kick-ass superhero, she is scared and confused. I think her emotions are what any of us feel at one time or another. She didn’t want to be a Sparkler, she didn’t even know if she could do it. The Kindling is her story of growth as a woman and as a reluctant semi-superhero.

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

Brandi: I love writing all of them, but if I had to choose it would be Weylin. He is so difficult to write, even though I love him. He holds back so much, even from me. I never know if he is good or bad or both.

AW: If you could change only one thing about your novel, what would it be?

Brandi: Hard question…I love the book. If I had to pick something, I would have made Weylin more likeable (maybe). I kind of like him the way he is, but then again readers don’t seem to like him. But, that makes good drama, so I don’t know. UGH…what is the right way? This is a writer’s life – never knowing if what you are doing is right/wrong or awesome.

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

Brandi: Tru’s name. I don’t think most readers figure this out, but it’s Tru Leigh Darling…” Truly Darling.” Cheesy I know, but I love it.

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

Brandi: I love all paranormal romance. Twilight, Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward is amazing, The Mortal Instrument by Cassandra Claire. I love contemporary paranormal books, books set in today’s world with supernatural elements. Although I don’t have any vampires/shifters/fairies in The Kindling, there is a new power. Who wouldn’t want to be a supernatural matchmaker?

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Brandi: Twilight, true story! Love it or hate it, the book series changed my life. I devoured the books in a few days. I was what my husband called a “book zombie.” I stayed up until the wee hours of the night to read. When I finished I actually hugged the book. That’s what I want. I want my readers to love the books so much they hug their kindles/nooks/e-reader/paperback.  That would be the greatest complement as an author.

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

Brandi: Each reader has their own criticisms. Some have said the beginning is too slow, some say it’s just right. What really makes me cringe is when people find mistakes in the book. I worked so hard with my critique group and editors to get it right, but still a spelling error or grammar error happen.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Brandi: Getting a review on Amazon, good or bad, either way someone read it and felt empowered to write a review. That is a great compliment.

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

Brandi: Oh yes! I have a full-time job as a Sr. Regulatory Specialist at a local pharmaceutical company. I have a degree in Biomedical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. In addition, I own a small business, BB bows, LLC. We make interchangeable hair bows and have two patents on the invention. I am a mother of three, 16, 6, and 3yrs. I also have one fur-baby, a golden retriever. My husband is an engineer too. We have a crazy busy life! I dream of the day I can be a full-time author. I have a plan to get there, if all things work out one year from now I can be a stay-at-home writer. *Fingers crossed*

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

Brandi: I am working on the sequel to The Kindling called “The Flame.” It is an amazing book, lots of action and danger. Of course lots of love and sparks flying.

In addition to that, I have started a new series. The first book is “Krossroads.” It is a paranormal erotic romance series with danger and suspense. Bree is a paranormal investigator who meets and falls for Karsten Kross an ex-priest and professional exorcist. Each book will cover a case of demonic possession and the trials they have with each other and a paranormal team bent on destroying them. “Krossroads” will be released this summer so keep a look out!

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

Brandi: Keep at it! It took me four years to get published. If you love it don’t stop. I highly suggest a good critique group, my group is amazing. They make me a better writer. I also suggest Beta Readers! If you don’t know what that is, look it up and find some. They make your book so much better.

AW: How to you market your book?

Brandi: I made a lot of mistakes marketing my book. I paid a ton of money for reviews and ads, it wasn’t needed and didn’t increase my sales AT ALL. I have a Facebook author page and a private page, www.BrandiSchmidt.com. I am active in many groups and have been to several writing conferences. I joined Romance Writers of America which has open many doors. I have a Twitter account, Pinterest, and Google +. I follow many authors and study what they do. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; there are successful authors out there. Be real. Be available. You have to put yourself out there so your readers can see who you are and that you care about them.

I also have a blog with four other authors, “The Busy Lady.” I hope you will check it out. I also have the website www.ElleSharp.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at @ElleSharp.

Author Spotlight: Joseph Forte

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At the Window is children’s picture book, by Joseph Forte, about an orphan who finds peace, love and hope in his life. The author is hesitant to give many details as he doesn’t want to give away the ending. He has received plenty of positive feedback and is am extremely happy with the product he has put together.

Authors Welcome had to opportunity to ask Joseph Forte some questions about his journey into publishing and his children’s book.

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

Joseph: At the Window is targeted towards children ages nine and older as the book is a bit longer than the average children’s picture book while using word choice that some kids may find difficult to understand. Children and even adults who have lost someone in their lives will find great comfort in this story as they cope with grief and all that it brings to us.

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

Joseph: The original story was entitled, “The Shining Star.” I ran a quick search and found that this title could get lost in the hunt for books with stars in it. Many parts of the story have Henry, the main character, gazing out the orphanage playroom window where he sees a bright shining light. I figured At the Window was perfect as it fits the story line but also the mould of children and their imaginations as they sometimes look out of windows for unusual sites. I know I did as a child.

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

Joseph: I am not artistically inclined what so ever but I knew exactly how I wanted the cover to look. I had chosen the 8.5 by 8.5 square cover and realized that a perfect window would look ideal. I used black construction paper and chalk to create a rough cover, snapped a photo and sent it over to a good friend and graphic designer, Rob Petrullo. He took the image and created what you see today.

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

Joseph: I began writing my story in December of 2011 and it was officially released on October 15th, 2013.

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

Joseph: I have experienced writer’s block and still do to this day but At the Window came quite freely to me. The original copy and the final product are very different but the pencil spilled words on the paper without any issue. When I do experience it, I walk away and listen to some music in order to get the creative juices flowing.

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

Joseph: Publishing a book with a traditional company or self publishing, as I did, both come with many challenges. My biggest challenge was getting my thoughts across to my illustrators in terms of what I wanted to see as well as finalizing the product, ensuring that is perfect. That is a stressful part because once it is signed off, there is no turning back.

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

Joseph: Mr. Hendrix, the English teacher is my favourite character. He makes a brief appearance but the way he uses his passion for music and lyrics in his classroom reminds me of how I teach and how much I love working with my students, day in and day out.

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

Joseph: I wouldn’t say I have one as they all hold a special part in my heart because they are all an important piece to the message I am trying to relay to my readers.

AW: If you could change only one thing about your story, what would it be?

Joseph: This is a tough question because I don’t want people to think that the story is weak, however, if I had to change one thing, I would probably take the rich, more difficult words I used and simplify them. I would do this so that the book could be read by children that are a bit younger.

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

Joseph: Mr. Hendrix, the English teacher, is named after the late Jimi Hendrix. He was given the name because as I was writing, I looked down to the floor from my big comfy couch where I sat and there was Jimi, on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, starring right at me. This is no joke! =)

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

Joseph: I wouldn’t say it is like any book I’ve read but I do like to keep the reader guessing or wondering until the very end where the entire story comes together. My favourite author, Mitch Albom does this and I get shivers each time I think about it. My goal is to keep the reader hooked all along, and then blow them away at the end. It’s a brilliant style that he, as well as many other authors use.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Joseph: I’ve always loved music and lyrics and where words can take people hence my website tag line, Where Words Come Alive. I started writing poetry and gave a children’s story a shot, loved it and decided to publish it on my own.

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

Joseph: I haven’t been involved long enough but I guess that the story was too long and the text too wordy for a children’s book. I realize that everyone has an opinion and it’s impossible to satisfy everyone.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Joseph: I received this email a day after my first book signing. This sale ALMOST didn’t happen. I’m glad it did.

Joseph:

I purchased your book At The Window yesterday at the Welland Library (Dec. 21, 2013). Without a doubt, this is the most enchanting book I have ever read to my grandchildren. The boys think so too!

Please keep me posted for your next book. I would not want to miss it!

Many Thanks Joseph!

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

Joseph: I am not a full time author but it feels like it some days. I teach a grade 5/6 class in Niagara Falls, Ontario and love every minute of it. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

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

 Joseph: 2014 is shaping up nicely. I have two more stories that are completed, both in the editing process and one in the hands of illustrator as I type away. Always There will hopefully hit the virtual world in June 2014 and “The Joker’s Daughter” (tentative title) for Fall 2014. Things are looking up in the world of Joseph Forte Writing.

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

 Joseph: One thing I have learned is to ensure that you have created the best possible product and once it is out there, share it with everyone and most importantly, believe in it because if you don’t, no one will.

AW: How do you market your book?

Joseph: This is hands down the hardest thing to do. I have created my own website and become active with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads. I have done book signings at libraries and I will be doing my first school visit next week. Word of mouth from customers via book reviews is ideal as well.

People can connect with Joseph Forte at the following sites on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/josephfortewriting. He also has his own website and blog at http://www.josephfortewriting.com/

You can also follow Joseph on Twitter at @JForteWriting.

Author Spotlight: Angela Snyder

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After being left for dead in the woods, a woman wakes up from a coma. With no memory of her past, she is given the name Jane Doe. While trying to adjust to her new life, tragedy strikes again. However, this time a mysterious and handsome next-door neighbor is there to help her pick up the pieces. But is he really a stranger, or does he hold the key to unlocking her past and finding out who wants her dead?

Today’s Author Spotlight is on author Angela Snyder and her first novel The Vampire Next Door. We had the opportunity to chat with Angela about her book and her writing and publishing experiences.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Angela: The Vampire Next Door is a romantic suspense novel with a little bit of everything.  The book starts out with a woman being found in the woods barely alive.  When she wakes up from a coma, she has no memory of her past and is given the name Jane Doe.  The book follows Jane’s path through love, tragedy and her struggle to find out who she once was and who wants her dead.

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

Angela: My intended audience would be adults, and mainly women.  I think almost every woman out there would swoon over the main character, Sebastian Alexander, who is a vampire.  He is definitely “book boyfriend” material.  I think the book has action, romance, suspense and a little bit of everything in between, and that would make a lot of people want to read this book.

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

Angela: It was a working title that just stuck.  When I sat down and tried to come up with a better title, I couldn’t.  And so I just went with Vampire Next Door, and I’m glad that I did.

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

Angela: Vampire Next Door’s cover has recently been revamped.  The cover was designed by Cheryl Ramirez at http://ccrpredesignedbookcovers.com.

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

Angela: I worked on it off and on for several months.  The last three months was when I really gained momentum on the story, and it really just seemed to write itself toward the end.

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

Angela: I experience writer’s block whenever I am trying to force myself to write.  Usually I just take a break and either work on a different chapter or walk away from the book completely until the creative juices begin to flow once again.

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

Angela: I self-published my first novel.  It was relatively easy and did not take that long at all.

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

Angela: My favorite character would be Sebastian Alexander.  He is a vampire and very complex.  I just loved writing in his state of mind and trying to figure him out, what he would say or what he would do in certain situations.  He was so interesting to me.

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

Angela: My least favorite character was the antagonist in my book.  I just wanted the character to come across so loathsome that I found myself loathing him as well as I was writing about him.

AW: If you could change only one thing about your novel, what would it be?

Angela: I think I would have left a cliffhanger, because I eventually want to write a sequel.  I left the ending open that there could be a sequel, but I just wish I would have left a killer cliffhanger to keep the readers’ anticipation of the sequel on a higher level.

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

Angela: Sebastian Alexander’s appearance is based off of actor Colin Egglesfield.

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

Angela: I haven’t read any books that are similar to my own.  However, a vampire novel that inspired me would be one that I read as a teenager — The Last Vampire series by Christopher Pike.  He fueled my desire to write about vampires.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Angela: I have wanted to write ever since I could hold a pencil.  Being an author was the one dream I have always had, and I am making that dream come true every single day that I write.

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

Angela: I think every author goes through tough criticism at one point or another.  You can’t please everybody, and I just really take that into account when a get a sub-par review.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Angela: The best compliment I get is when someone tells me they stayed up all night and/or couldn’t put my book down.

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

Angela: I have a fulltime job aside from being an author, and a lot of times it feels like I have two full-time jobs.

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

Angela: I have several novels I’m working on simultaneously.  I have a new adult romance novella that will be published next.  Then I am going to be publishing a young adult paranormal series and then a paranormal detective series.

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

Angela: My advice for readers would be to leave a review for a book that you read.  It is so helpful to authors, especially indie authors. My advice to other writers would be don’t give up.  If you want to write, then write.  You only live once, and you have to make it count.  Even the best authors out there have editors that make their mediocre book seem amazing, so don’t ever think that you aren’t good enough.

AW: How do you market your book?

Angela: The biggest marketing tool I use is social media.  Word of mouth is great too.  I spend a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook interacting with fans and other authors.  There is a comradery between authors.   We are all in the same boat, and we just want to help each other. You can find my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AuthorAngelaSnyder. You can also follow me on Twitter at @AuthorAngelaS

Author Spotlight: Jonathan Husband

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Jonathan Husband has been a human resources executive throughout his post graduate career. He attended the University of Hull in Yorkshire, England during the early 1960’s. His career has helped him develop a deep understanding of interpersonal relationships and the value of emotional intelligence.

He has combined this knowledge with his passion for history to perceptively describe people he knew who, from 1943 to 1972, had to deal with emotions that would spiral out of control and take charge of their regular lives. An Unplanned Encounter begins in war time England in the midst of the bombing campaign over Nazi-occupied Europe. It ends with the death of his father in 1972.

Authors Welcome had the chance to speak to Jonathan Husband about his writing career and his first novel.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Jonathan: The book is a story about a woman’s right to choose and how the circumstances of war and history can affect this decision and its consequences. It is set in England and California 1943-1972. A sexual assault takes place in July 1943, the woman discovers she is pregnant, and then makes a series of decisions that change forever the lives of the two protagonists. The central incident takes place in Yorkshire, England but the story also includes events that take place elsewhere in England, in Sacramento, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, and in Vienna, Austria and in Shanghai, China.

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

Jonathan: The book should appeal to a broad range of readers, with a likely focus on women over 30. It is an interesting and detail rich story about human relationships against a backcloth of war torn Europe. I tried to weave a broad understanding of what life was like during the middle of the last century in Europe and the US, especially for women who were still to be socially liberated. While it is historical fiction, the events are based on a true story. The novel examines the mother’s love for a child, how this love develops before birth, and the sacrifices a woman will make to defend the well-being of her baby.

The book should also have an appeal to various narrower groups of readers because it contains stories within the main story. Its coverage of the World War II European bombing campaign should appeal to those interested in the Second World War. Additionally, Karen, the woman who one of the main characters marries, talks about her parents escape from Vienna at the start of the war and their subsequent flight across Northern Europe to Shanghai. This event is also based on a true story. Finally, towards the end of the book, there are chapters that cover the “hippy” scene in San Francisco during the early 1960’s. This may appeal to baby-boomers.

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

Jonathan: The title focuses on a single encounter (albeit unplanned) that causes two people’s lives to spin out of control, and demonstrates that all actions have consequences, and that some consequences can last a lifetime.

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

Jonathan: I designed the cover myself. The front page depicts a farmhouse alongside a river which is the house next door to the one where the main character in the book grew up. It also backs on to the church where this main character is buried. The Nazi image on the back cover is used with permission of the Imperial War Museum in London. It illustrates the innocence of adolescence during a time when horrifying actions took place.

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

Jonathan: The novel took about four months to write and a further two months while approximately a dozen people reviewed the draft and provided helpful feedback to the author. Events were researched during this period and the personal stories of the two main protagonists in the book were already known.

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

Jonathan: I had relatively short periods of writer’s block. Typically the answers to these obstacles would occur during the middle of the night, and on many occasions it was if the main protagonists (all dead) were giving me insights that he was not aware of previously.

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

Jonathan: It took about six months to self-publish. Literary Agents approached were encouraging and kind with their comments, but appeared unwilling to support an unknown writer. To expedite the process, I researched alternative publishing methods and chose to use Lulu.com to assist. The process has been unpredictable and rocky from time-to-time, but overall has been satisfactory.

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

Jonathan: Mary Louise, the main character. She is the author’s mother and without her courage and love, the author would not be alive to tell the story.

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

Jonathan: Bob Hutchinson, the step-father. Although many of his actions were driven by illness, he was often obstructive, disrespectful, unkind, and occasionally violent.

AW: If you could change only one thing about your novel, what would it be?

Jonathan: I would have preferred to have made the main character the storyteller throughout the book. However, because much of the story was unknown to her until after the events, this was very difficult to realistically accomplish.

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

Jonathan: It is being published to coincide with my 70th birthday.

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

Jonathan: This novel was written without reference to others. The inspiration for the book came from the discovery by the author of his birth circumstances told to him by his mother in December 2007 when he was 63 years old.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Attending school with my son at Creative Writing courses, and a sense of creativity/imagination that my work as a Human Resources specialist had not allowed me to use.

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

Jonathan: Insufficient coverage of people’s emotions and how their feelings after extraordinary events. The author has worked hard to correct this impression.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Jonathan: This is a book that is hard to put down. The best compliment I received was that someone got up at 5:00AM to finish it before going to work.

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

Jonathan: My plan is to write additional “encounter series” novels. I also do part-time consulting in Human Resources.

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

Jonathan: Persevere and have fun. Undertake the task for enjoyment and sharing, not for money.

AW: How to you market your book?

I will use a professional Publicity Firm and my network of friends and relatives. I also use Facebook and Twitter to promote myself. My Twitter handle is @JonathanHusband. I also have my website and blog at www.jonathanhusband.com.