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

 

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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: 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.