Author Spotlight: Anne Stenhouse

Bella’s Betrothal 333x500 (1)

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

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

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AW: What is the best compliment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

AW: How to you market your book?

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

 

Author Spotlight: Jennifer Ponce

Bazaarbookcoverjpeg

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: Alice Furse

Alicer-cover

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere is the first novel from Alice Furse. It centers around a girl, an office, and an impending apocalypse. The novel is geared toward anyone who is wondering what on earth to do with themselves as it reflects that awkward time of finishing university and asking yourself what the hell you’re going to do next.

Authors Welcome had an opportunity to chat with Alice Furse for an Author Spotlight, and get the story behind the story of her book, and what the writing and publishing processes were like for her.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Alice: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is primarily about those awkward years after university, when you’ve been taught that the world will open up for you, but it doesn’t quite work out that way. Action centres on a girl who moves to suburbia with her boyfriend and starts working in an office, both of which come with their own problems and mysteries.

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

Alice: My novel targets young women. I wrote it because I felt totally disenfranchised and isolated, and I don’t think for a minute that I’m the only one. I hope it will appeal to other people who might find themselves in a similar position and at the very least, give them an idea that they’re not alone.

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

Alice: It’s actually the name of a Neil Young song. I tried to think of something original but this was just the perfect title.

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

Alice: I’m self-published so I had total control, which is nice – in fact, I came up with the idea of using hole punch holes and I took the photo myself. I’m lucky too in that I know a graphic designer who helped me choose that idea, tidy it up, and selected the font. I really wanted to make sure it looked like a modern novel, and not something else, like a textbook – it’s not as easy as it sounds!

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

Alice: In total, it took about two years to complete.

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

Alice: Honestly, I try not to worry if I’m not writing masses. Contrary to the traditional wisdom of getting through a daily word count, I’m not someone who works well when I force it – I’d rather work when I feel like I have something to say and the energy to say it. If you’re lucky enough to make a living from writing then perhaps you would need that structure, but for the rest of us, life gets in the way – and so it should.

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

Alice: I wrote Everybody Knows a good few years ago, and when I finished it I approached an agent who seemed keen to get it out there. It got reasonably far with a few publishers, but in the end they said although they liked it they couldn’t market it. I left it and got on with other things, but it struck me a little while ago that this was a bit of a waste, and putting it on Amazon myself and keeping it my own seemed more interesting than building up a collection of rejection letters. I also now have a background in PR, so I enjoy marketing it too.

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

Alice: Is it too horrible and narcissistic to say the narrator? Probably is… but I’m going to say it anyway. Yeah, she’s based on me. I’m proud of how the voice develops throughout the novel – I wanted to write from a perspective that was cynical but not unkind, and I wanted her to be a force that people can identify with, but quirky at the same time. God knows if I’ve achieved it – I’m probably not the person to ask.

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

Alice: I don’t dislike any of the characters. People you clash a bit with in real life tend to be the ones that are easiest to write because that’s where the energy is, and there’s always something to be said for that. They’re the most interesting people and relationships to explore. Not to get too deep, but the word ‘personality’ suggests that we’re separate entities. I think it’s closer to the truth to say that our identities are only given shape by the people around us.

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

Alice: Nothing. It’s not perfect, but it’s just fine.

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

Alice: Everyone in the book was based on someone I know.

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

Alice: I’m not sure that there are very many books similar to my own which is part of the reason I wrote it, but I have been inspired but hundreds of writers. I love Magnus Mills’ pared-down style and while I didn’t consciously emulate it, I’m sure I learnt a hack of a lot from reading his books – The Restraint of Beasts in particular. The Bell Jar also really inspired me – I read it for the first time when I was about 14 and I love her voice, her honesty, and her cynicism.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Alice: It wasn’t really a decision – it was just something I always did. When I was nine I wrote stories about what my toys said to each other when I left the room. When I was twelve I wrote a lot of stories about a girl with one leg for some reason, and when I was a teenager there was a lot of the usual angsty poetry bollocks, which was all burnt in a dramatic fire – thankfully. When I was in sixth form I wrote some short stories that won competitions, and chose to study English Literature and Creative Writing at university, which properly cracked me open.

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

Alice: I know how this sounds, and maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I haven’t really received any. I don’t think that’s because I write the best things ever, it’s because when people don’t like something their response tends to be silence. No one’s queued up to tell you you’re shit, and if you dig around for feedback people are usually constructive.

During my first writing workshop at university, a girl told me I used a couple of clichés. She was right.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Alice: My tutor at university was always very good to me. She told me that I was one of her best students, and encouraged me to write a novel in the first place. I took that as a massive compliment.

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

Alice: I have another job. I do PR for a sports radio station.

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

Alice: I’m focusing on a short stories at the moment with a view to getting them published in magazines, and also working on a second novel, which is about 10,000 words in. I’ve also just started a book site called The Rebel’s Book Guide, which aims to focus on literary self-published authors, as opposed to genre fiction. I’m hoping it’ll be a real resource for people to sift the pile as self-publishing continues to grow in popularity.

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

Alice: Don’t be scared of self-publishing – it has a bad reputation for being a vanity thing, but if it actually gets your work out there and being read, it couldn’t matter less. If you do it, do it properly. I don’t think you have to spend tons of money, but put thought and time into editing, formatting, and cover design, because all those things will help. Don’t expect to shoot up the Amazon chart straightaway – and if it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong.

AW: How do you market your book?

Alice: Twitter is a useful tool, though it has to be used in a canny fashion and can’t just be tweets saying “Buy my book now”. I’ve worked out who my target market is, and approached people that I think will be interested in it – it’s a slow process, but very exciting. My Twitter handle is @alicefurse.

I also have a blog site called The Rebel’s Book Guide. I hope you will check it out and follow me on social media to keep up with what I’m currently working on.

Interested readers can check out Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere through Amazon.com.

Author Spotlight: D.J. Wilson

RidetoRedemption

D.J.Wilson was raised in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. He graduated from Cumberland University, located in a small town in Kentucky quite a few years ago. We had the pleasure of chatting with D.J. about his book, Ride to Redemption.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

D.J.: Righting another’s wrong landed D in the witness protection program and cost him family, friends, and everything of substance in his life. Loneliness is his constant companion until he meets Candi, the girl of his dreams. He and Candi embark on a three-week ride to redemption where they deal with mind-numbing deceit, perilous treachery, their overpowering lust for each other and their personal demons.

Nevertheless, new opportunities bring a chance to begin again. And, it doesn’t hurt that he’s got 200 pounds of illicit diamonds to use to ease the pain of those wronged. He will continue the redemption process by way of a well thought out plan involving a 5,000-mile adventure through the Western United States and Canada.

When D meets Candice, aka Candi, she captures his heart, mind and soul the instant she ‘inadvertently’ almost runs him down in the Starbucks drive-thru. Candi joins him on his three-week, two-wheeled ride to redemption, where they’re forced to face their personal demons, while dealing with wanton lust, mind-numbing deceit and perilous treachery.

Spectacular scenery and a cast of unforgettable characters they meet along the way makes the journey memorable, but nothing prepares them for the sacrifices they must eventually make midway in the ride.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” sadly, does not ring true for Candice and D throughout this first of a two part series. Lust and greed are forever game-changers, even for those who desperately seek redemption.

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

D.J.: I wrote Ride to Redemption to appeal both to women and men, weaving a geographical adventure into a life altering, lust filled romance, between two very flawed people.

Life happens. Sometimes for the good, sometimes not. Regardless of circumstance, we choose how we embrace its next chapter, either building on the good as it comes or redeeming the bad, as it goes. In that is our hope, for those of us in the throes of life.How did you come up with the title for your book/series?

Redemption comes through second chances. The ride, via a motorcycle across the West and Canada, was used as an inconspicuous tool, to right a grievous wrong that affected thousands.

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

D.J.: My cover projects the heart and soul of my novel, without a single word being spoken. The beautiful body conveys the girl of D’s dreams, while the diamonds convey power through restitution. I was fortunate to find the perfect picture, in less than than four hours and with the help of my publisher, create the cover from there.

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

D.J.: Forever it seems like, looking back. I spent the first three months, writing and rewriting the first half of the book and two months writing the second half.

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

D.J.: Writer’s block was never an issue, as much as, life constantly getting in my way. Long, solitary  walks each day, helped me more than anything, to see the beginning of the end.

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

I was fortunate to have a friend and fellow author, who saw in me a work in progress. Through his inspiration and direction, we were able to e-publish Ride to Redemption in less than thirty days. The book goes to print mid March.

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

D.J.: Great question, but not one I’m able to answer at this time. Once the sequel finishes up, I can probably tell you who my favorite will be. Remember, life happens, the book is living proof of that. It’s fluid, as are the characters in my daily circus, aka life.

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

D.J.: That’s a question, I can answer. Joseph, Candi’s Ex, who happens to be an Ivy League lawyer with an outstanding pedigree, whose mission in life is to ruin other’s, while continually enhancing his own.

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

D.J.: Thank you for the question. I’ve second guessed myself many times regarding the steaminess of the book. Only our readers will answer that question for me. Stay tuned for the answer, via the reviews, which through today have been ‘5 star’ kind.

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

D.J.: Easy, it’s sprinkled with truth, lot’s of it. It’s up to our audience to separate the facts from the fiction. To live with us in the moment or to embrace in aghast, our past.

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

D.J.: Books by John Grisham inspired me,  as well as the novels of John Sanford and James Patterson. None, however, wove a chance encounter love interest, so integrally into the read.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

D.J.: Life happens, remember? We’ve a story to tell, even while it continues to be written. Successful, that’s me, catastrophic failure, that’s me too. We’ve been there, done that and have the life changing scars to prove it.

Our writings reflect real life through the throes of heartache and loss, as well as through the joys redemption brings.

“Life is not waiting for the Storms to Pass, It’s Learning to Dance in the Rain.”

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

D.J.: Those closest to me, tell me I’m the World’s Worst Proofreader, to which I must confess, guilty as charged.

AW: What is the best compliment?

D.J.: I’m thankful you asked. Paying it forward is a personal choice that pays priceless dividends, regardless of the chaos in our own lives. Ride to Redemption conveys that message, without it wearing thin.

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

D.J.: I’ve been blessed beyond measure to succeed in many wonderful things, and humbled by failing in a few. Currently our passion is writing and that’s what I’m  committed to do.

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

D.J.: The sequel, “Ride to Restoration” is well underway. I hope to publish in late April or May 2014. Visit my website:www.dalehollowlakelover.com to discover my next project, which will depend entirely on our readers and their nominations of the unsung hero’s in their lives.

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

D.J.: If you are passionate about something, share it, be it through the written word or music. There is someone waiting to hear what you have to say. It’s in that passion, you will rise above the crowds, your voice will be heard, the message you convey, will be received. Settle for nothing less than your very best. Because of self publishing, the World is your marketplace.

AW: How do you market your book?

D.J.: We’ve explored many avenues, all of which require quite a bit of time. Time away from writing. Thankfully, I’m working with some amazing people who are steering me in the right direction, offering to promote me, as little, or as much as I want, while allowing me to focus on our book.

I would be honored if you’d visit my website: www.ridetoredemption.com and say hello. You can follow us on Twitter: @dhlakelover and find our blogs scattered about The Huffington Post.

Author Spotlight: Scott R. Caseley

Isosceles 333x500

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.