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: 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: Scott R. Caseley

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When I came up with the idea of starting a blog that spotlights authors, the first person I thought to do an interview was Scott Caseley. Several years ago, Scott’s book Isosceles was the first novel I ever edited. I came from a world of nonfiction books that were marketed toward writers, so this was a new adventure for me, and I’m so happy that I was able to help Scott on his journey to publication.

I had the chance to chat with Scott about Isosceles, which is a story about friendship being tested to its limits, and how far we will go to protect those we love especially after tragedy. It begins with the death of Trey Goodsby and explores through a thirteen-year period of episodic moments, his best friendships with Sean McIntyre and a woman named Madeline Edwards who was always a solid force to both of them. It also details what led to Trey’s passing, and how it affected Sean and Madeline.

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

Scott Caseley: I wanted to reach high school kids, from freshman year and on up. The story deals with a lot of themes I know I went through when I was that age; isolation, broken heart, misplaced trust, etc. But, it also has a lot of the moments that I remember fondly that I feel would be relatable to that age group; that moment when someone just gets you right away, when you succeed at something for the first time in front of a person you look up to, when you have just quiet understanding with someone you care about, etc.  I just want the reader going into this to feel like they can identify with the good and bad and realize how it affects them isn’t as isolating as they might be afraid it is.

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

Scott Caseley: It was very early on, I was writing the chapter where Sean and Trey first beat… I mean meet each other in the classroom. Trey is building a structure with blocks and when they were fighting, I knew Madeline would have to be introduced in this moment too, and I saw the fight going on in my mind out of focus, and lying on the ground was an abandoned isosceles wooden block. I thought that it could be great symbolism if done right. Then, it occurred to me that had to be the title.

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

Scott Caseley: One of the great benefits of signing on with a wonderful company like MuseItUp is that the authors get assigned a cover designer to work with them on the look of the book.  CK Volnek, this incredible artist was the talent that was brought in to work with me. We had a few email exchanges in which we discussed what I was hoping to achieve to say visually to tell my story. Right away, she knew exactly what I meant and sent me pictures of models she thought would best represent the three principal characters. After that, I had to do a style sheet, and she drafted a cover that was almost exactly what I wanted. Then, I gave her my suggestions to improve upon it, and she nailed it. She is one of the most gifted artists I have ever worked with.

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

Scott Caseley: It started out as stream of consciousness writing, and from that it became a screenplay, all in 2009. Once I met my editor, she gave me notes on a few drafts of the script, but then urged me to turn it into a novel in the summer of 2010. Together with her, she shepherded the process through several subsequent drafts. In December of 2010, we determined it was ready to try to get it published. In 2011, I started submitting it everywhere. In the midst of the sea of rejections, I met a publishing consultant, who gave me a few bits of advice for improvement. Then, in 2012, I submitted the novel to MuseItUp and it was accepted in March of that year. Through the end of the year, with the help of my Content Editor, and a Line Editor, we got it into the shape it is now. Finally, it was released in January 2013 as an eBook. So, from start to finish it took approximately three and a half years.

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

Scott Caseley: When I would experience writer’s block, I started to think up different scenarios for the characters that didn’t always end up in the book itself. It was just a way to think outside the box. I wanted to see them as close to actual people as I realistically could. I thought of how they would handle themselves in a variety of different scenarios, and that helped me to see how what their actions and speech would be like in the ones that were giving me the most trouble.

Also, I did other things to get my mind off the story for a bit. I like to cook, so I started to look up different recipes to keep my mind active, creative, and focused. I’d also walk on my treadmill or go swimming at my gym. I found that combination of both of these, actively getting into their heads, and also letting them leave mine helped to find the most concrete ways to help the story continue.

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

Scott Caseley: Getting used to the words ‘not interested’, ‘not for our brand’, and just keeping the momentum to feel that somewhere, some way, the book will get published, was difficult at times. It can be very deflating and crushing to get rejection letters over and over again. But, I’m glad that I stuck it out and was signed by MuseItUp, just over a year after I finished writing all those drafts with my editor.

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

Scott Caseley: My favorite character when I was writing it was definitely Trey Goodsby, because he could meet different people depending on ‘which Trey’ he felt like being with them. He had this complexity about him, and it gave me a lot of different ideas and places to take the character. Now, rereading the story, I really like Bill Edwards, Madeline’s father. I feel that he has the most hidden depth to him. When first meeting him, he can be perceived in one light, but then the end stripped all that you saw from him in the beginning, and he became something much more.

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

Scott Caseley: The bully characters, I thought that they could have had more to do in the book, and in fact, I toyed with having them show up numerous times, but in the end, it just seemed necessary to have them be one-note villains.

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

Scott Caseley: I would have developed the character of Mrs. Goodsby more. I felt that she really got shortchanged in the story and there was so much that she could have said and done especially in the earlier chapters.

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

Scott Caseley: The sledding scene was inspired by and written during an actual snowstorm. It was one of those days where the snow came out of nowhere, and I couldn’t go to the gym.  My other great passion is exercise so I felt trapped and frustrated by the weather. So, I decided to write Sean as really elated about having a snow day, and the freedom of sledding to be a sharp contrast to my own emotions. After I wrote the first go at it, it made my day feel much more enjoyable.

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

Scott Caseley: I’d like to think it has elements similar to The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, showing the different social classes in society, “The Body”, the novella by Stephen King about the tests and trueness of friendship, and last but certainly not least Bridge to Terabithia by Katharine Paterson showing the platonic bond between a young boy and girl in small town America. I revisited all three of these stories before putting pen to paper so to speak. I would say that they did inspire me, because I do see parallels to the characters of each in my protagonists and antagonists. However, the films of John Hughes and Cameron Crowe also inspired me.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Scott Caseley: I have always enjoyed the art of storytelling, since about the age of four when I used to use a tape recorder to craft tales of my imaginary friends. From there, in second grade our class was assigned creative writing as a part of the curriculum. I got to write short stories then, and loved the process. Later, I wrote and co-wrote screenplays that would become feature films and a documentary short. I’ve always just loved the process of authoring a story, be it for the ears, the eyes, but especially the emotions of an audience.

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

Scott Caseley: I was told that as a man I should never think I can write compelling or realistic female characters. It has always stuck with me.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Scott Caseley: When a reader tells me that they identified with a particular moment in a character’s journey and that after seeing it in my novel through different eyes, it helped them to heal.

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

Scott Caseley: Currently, I am enrolled in a professional certificate program in copyediting. When completed, using these skills, I’d like to work for a publishing company or freelance to help many different industries put out the best possible written material they can to help them reach their goals. At the same time, I have a number of personal writing goals that I’d like to see through, and possibly go back to school for my Master’s in either Creative Writing or Writing/Publishing.

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

Scott Caseley: There is a second novel in the works, a departure from Isosceles, in that it isn’t a Young Adult novel nor is it a sequel. It is an ensemble piece that I’m writing in the polyphony style inspired by the works of Jennifer Egan, Robert Altman, etc. I’m also working on finishing up a 100-word piece of flash fiction for MuseItUp. And lastly, I’m writing a short story that I’m hoping to enter into a contest in a few months.

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

Scott Caseley: Do not be discouraged if you send out queries to agents and/or publishers and you receive a lot of rejection letters, personal or impersonal, chances are you’ll get some or many. It happens to all of us. Being a part of this writing world, and becoming published requires patience, confidence, and perseverance. With the market the way that it is currently, it’s very niche-based, so send your stuff to mainstream presses and agents, but also find those that will cater to your book specifically.

AW: How to you market your book?

Scott Caseley: I have taken part in many different blog stops courtesy of my fellow MuseItUp authors and a Virtual Tour with the World Of Ink (WOI) where I have participated in interviews like this one, or written short stories in character, or satirical pieces to show how certain elements like how writing in the perspective of Sean McIntyre came to be. Also through WOI, I was a guest on an internet radio show, and I also co-hosted along with another author a semi-annual book club show with acclaimed radio host Jordan Rich on WBZ in Boston.

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

Scott Caseley: Yes, I sure do, and it would be wonderful to have your readers follow me. My Twitter page is @scottrcaseley, and my author page on Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/ScottRCaseleyWriter.

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.