Interview with Billie Tekel Elias, author of “PEARL’s Party…and you’re invited.”

41oilLxtYRL._UY250_What is your book about?

“PEARL’s Party…and you’re invited” is about my mother’s uplifting journey through life, her unusual businesses, her funny escapades, and her unique perspectives on living (and dying).

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

It took me some time to grapple with the loss of my mother, my sidekick and confidant. Her home was 100 miles from mine, so clearing it out in preparation for its sale was drawn out over an entire year. With each visit, I unearthed interesting bits of ephemera that gave me ideas for my book.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took me a year to organize the physical materials and construct a timeline of what I planned to write about. As I sifted through canceled checks, matchbook covers, little black books and more, I wrote the stories woven through the objects. Another six months were involved in formatting it, laying it out, and figuring out the technology to self-publish.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Yes, I actually did quite a bit of research. Usually I was googling places where Pearl had gone, products she had used or obituaries of people she knew.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I used an excel spreadsheet to lay out a timeline of Pearl’s life, including dates I had pulled off primary source documents such as leases, airplane tickets or letters. The story is largely chronological, so this kept me grounded.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I want my readers to come away entertained, feeling nostalgic about “the good ol’ days,” and thinking, gheez, if Pearl could overcome those obstacles and stay in party-mode, so can I!

What are you working on right now?

I have a couple of balls in the air. Since I wrote a book about my mother, I felt it only fair to do the same for my late father, a Renaissance man. I had already begun yet another book before either of my parents died, about my grandfather and his relatives who lived in the Far East over a hundred years ago. There will be two versions: a picture book for kids and another with the adult stories.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Definitely not. In fact, in high school I was so disinterested that I shunned away from choosing a liberal arts college and instead went to engineering school where I wouldn’t have to do much writing at all.

Does writing come easy for you?

In a way, yes, because I’m telling the story as if I were talking to you in person. I can hear my voice inside my head as I tap on the keyboard. Besides, my training as an engineer equipped me to be a good investigative researcher. My research often broadens the story.

How have you marketed and promoted your work?

This is the hardest part for me. You think once your book is written and you can actually hold a printed copy in your hands that you’ve accomplished something great. The truth is, the work has only just begun. I had business cards printed before my book was released with an image of the cover and a link to my blog. I blogged for awhile about songs that my mother enjoyed, with links to youtube videos. I comment regularly on Facebook and sometimes on Twitter, plus I set up a Pinterest page with some of Pearl’s trinkets and photos pictured. And I seek out kind, generous interviewers like you!

Do you have a saying or motto for your life and/or as a writer?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

Pearl would be played by Nathan Lane (in drag) and her gay friends would be played by Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Jason Alexander and Alan Cumming. Her ex-husband would be played by Brad Pitt.

Where can people learn more about your books?

I blog at and the book blurb for “PEARL’s Party” is at (where you can also purchase the book!). My photo and a cover of the book can be seen at

Interview With Nikki Jackson, Author of “The Heart’s Journey Home”

hearts-journey-home-book-cover-big-200x300Pat, thank you so much for the interview. I want you to know that you’re my first official interview as a published author.

Welcome, Nikki. I am honored to be your first. What is your book about?

The Heart’s Journey Home is a book series. California Blend Summer Vacation is the first book of the series and sort of the introductory book. In short, The Heart’s Journey Home is the story of the relationship between three best friends; Tori, AJ and Kalea. Tori and AJ are both 17 years old while Kalea is 14. It’s a story that shows the different challenges these teens are faced with (deceased mother, cancer-related amputee, separated parents) and how they persevere because of their relationship with one another.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I have to chuckle, Pat, because I think consciously or unconsciously writers create characters that have some of their own behaviors and traits. Of all the characters I would have to say that the main character Tori is probably closest to my personality. She’s strong willed, stubborn, can be as wrong as two left shoes and won’t admit it and she loves mixed martial arts! She’s very cool.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Tori is of mixed parentage, her mother was part Sioux and African-American and her father is White. She’s extremely proud of her heritage, especially her Sioux heritage. She was raised on the Rosebud Reservation until the age of seven, when her mother died, so the Sioux culture is very much ingrained in her. AJ is White, adopted and lost his right leg to childhood cancer. He’s the voice of reason and the steadying agent for the sometimes volatile Tori. They are extremely close, blood-brothers since the age of eight. Lastly, Kalea. She’s of Hawaiian and Japanese heritage and has a genius IQ. She met Tori and AJ when she started attending their high school at the age of eleven. She’s the typical geeky, brainy, pesky kid-sister type and both Tori and AJ are very protective of her. My favorite would have to be Tori, she’s tough but there’s this vulnerability that she hides pretty well and a bit of a sadness about her. She’s less grounded than AJ and less open than Kalea. She’s the character that needs the most growth.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

I believe they’ll see themselves and their friends in the three main characters. My characters are faced with real life challenges and issues, things aren’t all honky-dory but they make the best of it because they have each other as a support system. I believe the reader will see something of their own real life challenges or issues in the characters and relate to them all the more. Then also, the characters are fun, funny and likeable.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Oh my gosh, it took about three years from initial idea to finished manuscript.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I spent about a year researching this book. Remember, it’s a book series so in reality I had to do the research for all the books in the series up front. I had to literally have the books outlined a bit; characters, story-lines, various plots, settings, then I did the research. I am so thankful for the Internet, it’s a great cornucopia of info and obscure tidbits. In a couple of instances I was watching TV when material for a story-line presented itself. There’s this one scene in the book between Tori and Rachael (her dad’s live-in girlfriend) where they’re talking about the Holocaust. I was channel surfing and stopped on the PBS channel. The program was about a concentration camp in Sobibor Poland. A secondary character in the book is a concentration camp survivor. I keep a pen and pad handy so I grabbed them and took notes. The story was so compelling that I wove it into the book. It’s one of the strongest emotional scenes in the story.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

The way I’m wired as a writer I see the book from start to finish in my head first. The beginning and end mostly, the middle is a little hazy until I actually start writing. I’m old school so I write the story out long hand on yellow legal pads and then type it out on the computer. Because The Heart’s Journey Home is a series there’s the main plot but a number of sub-plots along the way. I have a journal that I used to track out the main and sub-plots, that’s the only way I could keep the various plots straight. I literally started sub-plots in this first book that won’t be worked out until a later book.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I have to laugh here, Pat, I had a heck of a time finishing this first book. Its 743 pages! I couldn’t stop writing! I think what I finally had to do was to determine where to make a break in the story and declare book one of the series complete. If I hadn’t I would still be writing. Though fairly long my editor, Jack Minor did a terrific job – literally cutting out about a hundred pages! The poor reader would barely be able to carry the book no less read it.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

Wow, Pat, the biggest challenge was the death of my son while I was writing the book. He passed away in his sleep the day after Christmas, 2013. He was 23 years old. He had a heart condition his dad and I didn’t know he had. He was our only child and we were floored, devastated, almost done in. He was a beautiful kid, loved barbershop singing and was in a choir and quartet. A Black 23 year old kid singing barbershop with a bunch of middle-aged white guys – it was a sight. But man that kid could sing. He had a very deep, rich baritone voice. He was something. He was going to graduate from Spring Arbor University the following year with a degree in Broadcasting. They awarded him his degree posthumously. It was grueling. We shut the kid’s bedroom door so we wouldn’t have to look into his room. Thank God for writing. I was crying myself to pieces, barely functioning and I picked the book back up. I’m not sure where I would be if I didn’t have writing. It saw me through.

I’m so sorry about your son, Nikki. Yes, of course you were devastated. I’ve heard that the loss of a child is the absolute worst pain a parent can feel. He sounds like a remarkable young man. I’m sure his death influenced your writing. How else has your background influenced your writing?

Well, Pat, being African-American I definitely wanted to craft a diverse book. There’s unique nuances and flavors that comes with diversity and I wanted to weave this into the story. Different people-groups have a tendency to look at the things of life through their own cultural lens and this makes for good comedy as well as great drama. I like the taste of a long simmering gumbo and I’d like to think my book has a pretty good flavor to it.

Speaking of flavor, do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

I have to seriously laugh here. Anyone who knows me knows I love hanging out at Panera’s – it’s my favorite writing spot. I only drink their caramel lattes.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on book two of the series: A Layover in Doppelganger-Ville.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your work-in-progress?

Tori goes back in time to ancient Jerusalem and meets the exact doubles of her best-friends and family.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

That’s super easy – To Kill A Mockingbird by Nelle Harper Lee. That book is great seven ways from Sunday. The characters are so well developed, the writer captures the time and setting with a grand subtle power, and then there’s the undercurrent of prejudice, injustice, and yet hope. I think such an outstanding story being told from the narrative of a nine year old kid was brilliant. It has all the elements of just a great book and it did win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 selling over fifteen million copies. That’s an author’s dream.

Nikki-Jackson-profileWhat advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Write. Write. Write. And grow a thick skin. Realize you’re not going to please everyone. Not everyone’s going to love your work (a lot of people may not even ‘like it’), but keep writing. If you wait for all your family and friends to love what you’ve written, revising your work again and again every time you let someone read your draft you’ll never get anything published. I write what pleases me and then aim the finished product at the group I think will enjoy the book too.

Pat, thanks for interviewing me and allowing me to share with your readers. The Heart’s Journey Home is scheduled for release on September 12, and can be purchased through Amazon. There’s a blurb about it and a download excerpt on my blog Pat, thanks again.

Thank you, Nikki. And best of luck with your book!

Interview With Jon Vorhaus, Author of “How 2 Live Life”

41VR5u9OG6L._AA160_What is your book about?

How to Live Life is about helping people live happier, more effective lives, with a deeper sense of purpose and a clear understanding of what life is all about.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

As a dedicated writer and teacher of writers, I have lately come to realize that my purpose extends beyond helping creative people execute their craftsmanship and toward a place of deeper impact on how people in general make the choices that guide and shape their lives.

What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think that readers will most be drawn to the interactive aspect of how to live life. Through gently guided exercises, I demonstrate how the reader can think about anything – even previously dangerous or emotionally taboo topics – without judgment, resentment or regret.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I hope and trust that people will understand the powerful union of passion and purpose in their lives. The math of it is simple: passion + purpose = power.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

When you’re writing a book that offers even the slightest whiff of “the one true truth,” you’re bound to get some strong internal push-back. Every day with this work, I found myself thinking, “Where the heck do I get off, telling other people how to live life?” But it’s weirdly meta for me, because one of the key ideas in the book is that true happiness rests on self-acceptance, not external validation. Over and over again I say, “Don’t care what other people think!” Yet every day while writing the book, I couldn’t help caring what people might think. This demonstrates that even teachers are students – and woe become the teacher who isn’t.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

Actually, this part right here. Oh, not writing the answer to some interview questions – I can talk about myself all day, no problem – but rather the underlying self-consciousness surrounding how to promote a book with strong and unequivocal ideas. As a novelist, I know how to hide inside my characters. As a writing and poker coach, I know how to be strategic. But writing and sharing my deepest truths requires an unprecedented level of openness and honesty from me. In how to live life I tell my readers to accept their fears; goodness, how can I persuasively arrive at that advice if I will not face my own? Hence, with this book, I “throw it out the window and see if it lands.” Hardest thing I’ve ever done – and this is my 25th book!

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

Profoundly. It forced me to articulate my beliefs and my strategies for living life effectively. It engaged me with the larger questions of life, death, God, meaning and legacy, all in a way that made every writing day kind of a thrill. And it led me to something I’ve always wanted: a rational grounding for faith.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

Hair. Hair all gone.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

61ssK2Tq4hL._UX250_I was born a secular Jew, which meant that open-mindedness was part of my philosophical package from the start. Most people in the place and time of my childhood (California; late 1960s) were encouraged to find our own path and Path in this world. I took that encouragement and ran with it; I’m running with it still.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I live at my desk. There’s no place I’d rather be. (Hey, look, I’m there right now!) So my writing schedule is shot through with eagerness. I’m at my desk and writing by nine, pause for a dog-walk around noon, and continue as deep into the afternoon as my coffee and energy last. When I’m writing novels, I try for 1000+ fresh words a day, but with fiction and non-fiction alike, the real work comes in rewriting, where word counts are an irrelevant metric. Then it’s just a matter of time – putting in the time. I understand that I am twice blessed: once blessed for having the real desire to write; once for having the freedom and leisure to do so.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

I like to write in the morning when both my brain and the coffee are fresh. Conversely, by the end of the day I’m likely to enter a state of mind known as “cheese brain.” At the onset of cheese brain, not only will I no longer make progress, I’ll actually start to hurt the quality of the work (because I’m tired and cranky and don’t care). At the onset of cheese brain it’s very important that I stop for the day.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

Back when I was a folk singer, and had recorded my first (and only) album, I met senior folkie Tom Paxton and asked him for his advice, now that I’d done a record and all. He said, “Do another. Keep doing them until someone makes you stop. Build your product line. It’s where your future lies.”

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

If you want to get better, write more. If you want to get a lot better, write a lot more. Nothing substitutes for words on the page.

Describe your writing in three words.

Honest, funny and spellcheked.

Where can people learn more about your books?;; @TrueFactBarFact.

Interview With Robert N. Chan, Author of “Girl”

What is your book about?

A trusted member of her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community rapes fifteen-year-old Hannah in the back room of a Brooklyn kosher butcher shop. Unwilling to succumb to her parents’ demand that she blame a homeless black man, she runs away. Alone on unfamiliar New York City streets and armed only with an indomitable spirit, quirky sense of humor, and unyielding intolerance for hypocrisy and injustice, she confronts adversity after adversity.

Blaming herself for having been raped and bent on avoiding emotional intimacy, she becomes involved with an enforcer for a Serbian mobster and embarks on a life of prostitution and hard drugs. Then comes unexpected motherhood and a son she treasures. When he is arrested on trumped up charges and almost killed in prison, her wide-ranging client base, including hoods and feds, comes in handy. But her plan backfires, her son is forever lost, and she is banished to an Appalachian backwater as a protected witness. Depressed and alone, she rediscovers her childhood dream of tikkun olam, repairing the world, and charts a path to justice and redemption. All she has to do now is emerge from witness protection, outwit vengeful hit men, and run for Congress in Tea Party country as a New York Jewish former whore. Too bad about that quirky sense of humor and unyielding intolerance for hypocrisy and injustice.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

People who’d read my novel, To Gain the Whole World told me the main character’s mother was a terrific character whom I shouldn’t have killed off early in the book. So I decided to write the same story from her point of view. That didn’t work, but I had as a starting point the main character, an ultra-orthodox girl who is raped and turned out by that very conservative closed community and forced to make her way in an alien world for which she is totally unprepared.

What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The insights into the world of the Brooklyn ultra-orthodox, the main character’s struggles and triumphs, and the quality of writing which has already received eight glowing reviews on Amazon.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I allow my main character to take the story where she wants it to go.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

Mostly I want them to enjoy an exciting, inspiring, well-written story.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

Extremism of all types is soul destroying and the human spirit can overcome almost all adversity.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

Writing about rape in a sensitive and searching way.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

One who truly enjoys reading and has many friends he or she can suggest my book to.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

Fifty Shades of Gray. I could put up with the criticism of the bad writing, phony eroticism, and worship of materialism for the huge amount of money. I’m not looking to sell out but for the right price…

Which is more important to your story, character or plot?

Each element is crucial as is the quality of the writing.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Second Wind Publishing:!robert-chan/c1ltt
Linked in:

Pamela Q Fernandes, Author of “Seoul-mates”

seoul-mates-155x232Welcome, Pamela. What is your book about?

‘Seoul-mates’ is a romantic suspense set in present day Seoul. The marriage of Anglo-Indian Katia Rosario to Jihan Kwan, Seoul’s most eligible bachelor, sounds like a fairy-tale romance. Their union, rather than being celebrated, is scorned by those closest to them. And to top it all, a shadowy nemesis is making its presence felt, endangering both their lives in a quest for revenge.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Katia and Jihan are the main characters at the heart of Seoul-mates. She is an Anglo-Indian doctor, a down-on-her-luck foreigner struggling to fit into a close-knit society in Seoul and Jihan is a typical Korean Chaebol heir to one of Seoul’s largest business empires. Both of them are hard headed and strong people looking for some acceptance in a very critical society.

I like Katia’s character because she’s gutsy. It takes guts to follow your heart out to an unknown place with a very different culture plus going it all the way alone.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I am an Indian who went to college in the Philippines and had many Korean friends there. I spent a lot of time with them. So I would watch Korean dramas, movies, listen to their music eat their food. And through them I learned how different the Korean culture was. That’s what helped me build the exact structure of Korean tradition and mannerisms in the book.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?

Yes, plenty. (laughs) I’ve honestly never visited Korea, so I had to speak to my friends, look up photographs of Seoul, study the different traditions they have at weddings and otherwise. It was truly eye-opening. Seoul is one of destinations to go to this year.

What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

“Your journey uphill can still be worth the trip, if you do it with me.”

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

It was my brother who pushed me to write and it’s his advice I adhere to even today. He said, ‘don’t write depending on what’s the flavor of the market. Write what you would like to read. The market trends will change, but a good story always lives on.’ And I’m grateful for that advice.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I want people to feel as if they’ve rediscovered Seoul. The book should open the audience’s eyes to a new culture, a new place with all its trivia. I want them to be blown away by all things South Korea.

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

I know I would want Daniel Henney and Mickey Yoochun to play the men from the book partly because they’re bilingual in Hangul and English, Katia on the other hand – I think Diana Penty would play her well.

What are you working on right now?

Currently I am working on my next novella which is also a romantic suspense. This time however its set in Ireland. Yes I do have friends in Ireland as well.;) As of now I’ve just completed my first draft so its very raw.

Where can people learn more about your books?

pamelaqYou can read more about Seoul-mates and me on the Indireads website.

News about all my other writing projects are posted on my blog -

You can also connect with me on Twitter

If you would like to purchase a copy of Seoul-mates on Amazon its here – It is also available on Smashwords, Pothi, and Barnes & Nobles online stores.

Thanks Pat.  Happy New Year

Deborah J Ledford: New Opportunity for Literary Projects

Award-winning author, Deborah J Ledford has come up with an innovative way to finance her next project. IOF Productions Ltd. established the NatAmGoGo crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to produce and distribute the audiobook version of her latest thriller novel, Crescendo from Second Wind Publishing.

The NatAmGoGo campaign will also benefit The Blue Feather Corporation, a Native American language and culture nonprofit organization.

The professional audiobook presentation will be narrated by TV and film actress Christina Cox, who has appeared in a variety of films and television episodes including NCIS, Dexter, 24, Castle, Chronicles of Riddick, Better Than Chocolate and Nikki & Nora. IOF Productions Ltd will record Crescendo in November at Costa Mesa Studios in Southern California for download and to purchase as CDs for a December 2013 release.

CrescendoWe are thrilled to have Christina Cox set to perform Crescendo. Her exquisite voice and acting prowess will truly bring my words to life,” Ledford says. “The audiobook will be recorded by an experienced staff, with the quality that will equal narrated books presented by top publishing houses.”

Contributor packages for the Indiegogo/ NatAmGoGo project include a PDF version of Staccato, the first book in the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela mystery series; autographed poster of the Crescendo audiobook cover signed by Christina Cox and Ledford; print versions of book series, including Staccato, Snare and Crescendo, signed and personalized by the author; a leather bound package containing all discs of the Crescendo audiobook with booklet signed by Cox and Ledford; a full content edit by Ledford of a manuscript up to 90,000 words, and hand-crafted jewelry created by a renowned Navajo, Hopi and Taos Pueblo artists.

Ledford spent her summers growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina, where her novels are set. She met Floyd “Mountain Walking Cane” Gomez in 2006 while doing research for her award-winning novel, Snare. Several years later, Floyd expressed the need to protect languages and culture on reservations throughout the United States, which is why he is establishing the Blue Feather Corporation.

“The storytelling campaign is an effort to prevent the disappearance of Native American languages and culture,” says Arizona author Ledford, who is part Eastern Band Cherokee.

“Native tribal languages and ancient ways are dying on our nation’s reservations,” Ledford explains. “We want to ensure that ancient societies survive.”

The Native American nonprofit foundation will receive 50% of the royalties from downloads and sales of the Crescendo audiobook. “But once the funding goal is reached, any excess will benefit the foundation 100 percent,” Ledford adds. “We can’t let another language or culture disappear,” Ledford concludes. “‘Wado,’ which means ‘thank you’ in Cherokee.”


Click here to contribute: NatAmGoGo

Ben Solomon, Author of “The Hard-Boiled Detective,” a Subscription Series


Have you ever planned a murder?

Sure. Usually three per month. Sometimes more. I ply the art for my subscription series, “The Hard-Boiled Detective.”

A subscription series?

“The Hard-Boiled Detective” takes an odd slant on the publishing game. This subscription series provides three works of short fiction every month. Fans download the stories in their favorite format: ePub, mobi or PDF.

What inspired you to create this series?

I grew up on heavy doses of Cagney and Bogart. The whole Warner Bros. gangster cycle. That led to Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane. Spillane’s the one who made the genre seem approachable.

Tell us about your main character.

I won’t tell you his name. One’s as good as another. Or the city that serves as his beat. You’ll figure it out, all right. His time? It’s any period you like. Call it 1929, 1939, 1959.

See, I’ve tried to create as pure a throwback as I could, where the gumshoe’s actions and observations speak for him. I don’t develop the hero’s personal life—I provide no melodrama, no backstory, no development on that level.

Describe your writing in three words.

Old-school detective fiction. (Do hyphenated words count as one or two?)

Okay. How’s about retro detective fiction?

You’re going to throw math at me, here?

Does this series have a format or concept?

Sure it does. And it’s kind of funny. After watching hundreds of movies and TV shows, and then reading all these books—there’s a murder victim around every corner. By the truckload. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. So it struck me: all these gumshoes must spend half of their professional lives at the local station house giving accounts to the bulls. That lightbulb established the format: each story of “The Hard-Boiled Detective” is told by our P.I. hero as a statement to the police. Lucky that he likes to tell a colorful yarn.

Which is more important to your stories, character or plot?

Character, by a long shot. I’m definitely in the Hammett camp on this one. He said, “What I try to do is write a story about a detective rather than a detective story.”

Why will readers relate to your characters?

Assuming I deliver the goods, they’re all bound up in one terrific genre. The detective story’s as traditional a spin as a western or an adventure of medieval knights. We’re all of us just bumping along, trying to live our lives as best we can, adhering to principles that are constantly challenged. The detective represents that, always searching for truth and justice above everything else.

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

That’s a pip of a question, and one that I’ve had a gas chewing on.

First of all, we make it a half hour television series. Can you picture that? It’s just not done, but would it ever clip along. Leave ‘em wanting more—there’s a motto for you.

The second idea’s a real stretch. We’ve got an unnamed sleuth working the mean streets of an unnamed burg, right? In a sense, he’s unidentified, right? So we cast a different actor to play him in every episode. We make him a different guest star every week. Call it hard-boiled casting. Sure.

Where can people learn more about your series?

You can find story samples, subscription info and plenty more at the website:

Keith Alexander, Author of “Forgery of the Month Club”

What is your book about?

Forgery of the Month Club is a memoir of redemption in which I tell stories about collaborating with my mother in 1970’s Chicago, perpetrating a series of illegal schemes such as bank fraud, shoplifting, burglary and art forgery. In the end, I leave Chicago and that life and use what I learned as her co-conspirator to shepherd my newborn daughter through a series of health crises.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

Since I was a teen ager. Imagine you had a mother who did fake Picassos, devised a way to scale a statue in the middle of a public park and scrape the 24k gold from it, and who stole bicycles from high rise basements. Eventually you would have to write them down, and publish them. Before I began writing them, I treated them as heirlooms of an audible nature.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

My mother has a 200 level IQ, invented a human-powered flying machine and built a castle, among other wacky pursuits. Yet, my sister and I grew up with little to eat at home. To live with such genius day to day is inspiring and maddening. The act of writing became a way to map out the various stories, characters and motivations within them. It was also a way to map out my emotions about growing up in this family.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I like to think that I’m not hidden; that, as my mother’s collaborator, I am presented in the book simply as one who hopes to keep mom from getting locked up, in the hopes that one day we could convert one of her wacky ideas into cash. But in the process of writing I did not just edit the words I wrote, I was also editing the feelings I had while writing. I have not yet devised a way to record my emotions during any sustained period of time so alas, much of what I felt during the 14 years of writing Forgery of The Month Club has evaporated.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

I’m not sure readers will relate to them, but I am certain they will be entertained.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Two years to write the book, and twelve years of rewriting. Even when I had a polished story, I had second thoughts about perspective, what to emphasize, and what to minimize. Whether to structure the stories as memory or in a standard chronological structure was a persistent challenge for me, as was deciding to structure the stories for a marketplace, or to structure the work as a work of art.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I had a series of stories in anecdotal form simmering in my memory from my youth, until the time in my life came to sit down and write the book. That was July 1998. Then came interviews and research.

Did you do any research for the book?

The primary form of research was interviewing mom, her sisters and her mother. Then I spoke with her cousins and dug up everything I could about her father. After that I did genealogical research on my father’s side and discovered my great great grandfather was a slave in Natchez, Mississippi at the start of the Civil War, who quit and joined the union Army, fought in local skirmishes and was mentioned in dispatches. I love research, so I follow every bit of information I can about every topic touched on in the book.

What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Personally I like the procedural aspect of some of the capers, whether they are fantasy activities like building the castle, or illegal antics like evicting deadbeats. Some of the characters are noteworthy such as mom, Sarge, Breno and Susan.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

The characters I write about are real characters, who have their own fears, limits, histories and scars. They differentiate themselves. Sometimes I change their names.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

When, after reading it, I cannot think of anything else to say or any other way to say it.

What are your goals for the book?

I want my readers to say “Wow! What a ride!” Then I want them to say: No matter what I have done in my life, I can change.

Does your understanding of the story you are writing change during the course of the book?

Yes, both during the writing of it, and during the reading of it. When I began writing Forgery of the Month Club, it began as a eulogy. It then became an investigation, and then a story of redemption. Each of these approaches required different intellectual questions that guided the research and writing. They also informed the subsequent approaches. Over 14 years, these different approaches mirrored my emotional evolution. When I read the book, there were moments when I read it as though it was a eulogy, at other times it read as an investigation and at other times it read as a story of redemption.

What is your favorite place, real or fictional?

My favorite place is a bit real, and a bit fictional. Home is my favorite place, and yet I love travelling. When I travel, I get impatient until we reach our destination. To calm my impatience, I imagine home; this fantasy image of home acts on me like a tonic during 14-hour long flights, 4-hour drives or 20-minute grocery store excursions.

If you could have lunch with one person, real or fictitious, who would it be?

It would be my maternal grandfather, Arnold Israel Freedland, who was born in Daugavpils, Latvia in 1900, immigrated to Minneapolis via Hammersmith, London. He and his parents steamed across the Atlantic in the Teutonic, sister ship of the Titanic. He died when my mother was 14 years old, an event to which I attribute my mother’s moral separation from the law-abiding world. To me, as a child who grew up with an indifferent father who was married to another woman, the history of my grandfather nurtured hopes in me of an adult man who would love me, mentor me and generally take an interest in me. There were no consistent males in my life that did this. My yearning turned to Arnie, and to that end, I learned as much as I could about him from mom, her sisters, my grandmother, older cousins, great aunts, photos, letters, film fragments, sketches and his civilian army service record. All that was missing was the actual person.

Where to buy the book:

C. A. Milson, co-owner of ASJ Publishing

Welcome, C. A.! What made you go into publishing?

The choice to be a publisher was the result of some bad choices and experiences I have had along the way since I was first published in 2008. My wife and I discussed the options, read alot of information of the industry and decided that it was the best choice for us to pursue.

What is the general background of your company?

ASJ Publishing was formed by my wife and I. ASJ are the initials of my wife’s name. We started the idea of ASJ Publishing in 2010, but it was not until this year when we started to take the idea public.

How do you decide to publish one book and not another?

We do get a few submissions, but not all of them we take on board. It is not an easy thing to deicde sometimes, but what it does come down to is the story has to be interesting; Not only for us but also for the readers

Some people think that with more titles available today than at any other time in history, the novel as an art form is dying. Do you agree?

I would have to disagree on that one. Writing a novel is never an easy task. I know, as I have wrote a few myself.  🙂 But as long as there are readers, the author has an audience. With the release of iPad’s, Android, taking the e-book to the reader has never become easier. So along with making a novel available in paperback, we can now make it available whether a person can get digital.

What challenges do you and your company face?

The only thing we face is more exposure to the market. Now while Facebook certainly has merits for sponsored ads, there is more to marketing than the internet. So it is finding that niche that we are focusing on in 2013/2014

What is the most rewarding part of being a publisher?

One of the rewarding things of being a publisher is seeing the work of our previously unpublished authors on print. Seeing the proof of their novella in our hands is a real rewarding experience, and we hope that our authors would feel the same, in seeing their work is out there.

Do you publish anything or just certain genres?

At the moment we are open to a wide range of genres, such as erotica, children’s, sci-fi, horror, drama, and also selected non-fiction and “how-to” titles.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

If you are an aspiring author, my advise is that you research the market. There are a number of publishers out there who will charge fees for reading your MS, and even charge bigger fees to publish your e-book. Believe me, I see the ads on facebook everyday. As an author myself, you have to question why a publisher would want to charge you fees to publish your work. Any reputable publisher will never do that.

Have you always wanted to be a publisher?

No. After I became a published author, my goal was to write more books, and live my life like that. But, life has a way of expanding one’s thinking, and in 2010, our life expanded not only to publishing, but also into the world of film.

What are your future plans? What will you bring to the literary world besides more stories?

For 2013, we are investing heavily into our writers, by getting their books to the main international book fairs, as well as some other ideas we have in the pipeline. We will also be filming 3 movies of our own.

What do you do to sell the books you publish, for example, where do you advertise?

Right now we are focusing on Amazon, Lulu, Kindle, and also our distribution network through Lightning Source/Ingram. We also run offers from time to time on Kindle for free download day to help boost sales, as well as run targetted facebook ads. There will be more in the way of advertising in 2013.

Can we find your books in stores or are they just online?

They are mostly online right now, but in Q1 of 2013, we will be taking that a step further by opening up to paperback sales through Ingram.

Why should readers check out the books you publish?

Our authors come from a wide range of backgrounds, from all walks of life, and they all have a great story to tell, whether it is a bedtime stroy for their children, or a horror story to scare themselves, or even a sizzling erotic novel to arouse their senses.

Are you satisfied with the financial return on your investment of time and resources?

Not yet. Any new business will take at least 2 years to see any ROI (Return on investment). That is just a plain fact of being in business. There is no such thing as “get rich quick”, unless you happen to win the lottery. But honestly, if you decide to be a publisher for the monetary rewards, then you’re in the wrong business.

Would you recommend anyone else go into the publishing business?

That would mean they would be competing with me. So no. 🙂

Has the availability of POD and E-books made it easier for you to publish more client’s work since you no longer have to invest in large runs, shipping, etc?

Not really as some books have different formatting requirements, as well as finding the right people to work with to create a good book cover or illustrations. Being a publisher is alot more than taking someone’s MS, publishing it on Kindle and giving a copy to the author. No, it is alot more. There are editors to hire as well as illustrators and graphic artists. The book cover (or illustrations n a children’s book) has to be perfect, and the editor has to know their job to have the manuscript polished and ready. Sure, anyone can do the former and do a half-assed job of publishing a book for the sake of it, but what kind of publisher would that make them?

What can you offer a writer in terms of brand and marketing that makes your percentage worth the author’s while?

Going to blow our own trumpet here Pat if you don’t mind What we do for authors is not only have their MS ready for publication, but also we send their book to the international book fairs, create a facebook page for their book, pay for sponsored ads, get a professional book trailer made (for selected titles)

Do you set up signings for the authors and then publish the ‘tour’?

While we do a few things already, we do ask our authors to set up any “virtual book tours”

How do you acquire your talent? Open Submissions? Recommendations? Reading Periods? Placing Ads?

Right now we are placing various ads and we do have an open submission process.

Do you charge your authors for any services?

Absolutely not.

Where can we learn more about you, your authors, and the books you publish?

People can find out more about us at:

John Lavan, Author of “Familial: Selected Poems”

What is your book about?

Poems that stimulate feeling.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Family relationships really. I have a son with Down’s Syndrome and he’s my great muse. Not much poetry has been written on the love between father and son and so it’s great to access the feelings and try to capture them in a poem’s

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took about seven years. I have 600+ poems on my blog and I selected the best ones according to number of comments and hits. It was like a global democratic choice.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

In a sense, every poem has a point about our human condition. Almost all my poems are positive and intend to uplift.

What are you working on right now?

A long and epic poem – about a little shaman.

At what age did you discover writing?

I arrived late – started at age 52!

When where you first published? How were you discovered?

Apostrophe Books discovered my poems through Twitter in July 2012. We published quickly and they’re great to work with.

Does writing come easy for you?

No – it’s like I have to squeeze out a poem and a tight deadline helps. Then I probably edit it over a dozen times, improving meter, rhyme, sound, structure, alliteration, imagery etc.

What writer influenced you the most?

Emily Dickinson – she has such mystery, intensity & compression.

Describe your writing in three words.

Words that feel

What one word describes how you feel when you write?


What do you think the most influential change in book publishing will come from?

The internet – particularly for poetry. An electronic global reach can break the stranglehold that paper-publishers have in only promoting existing poets on their books. The internet can reach a far larger market than those boys imagine – and transform the world’s attitude to poetry.

What is something you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)?

Mac and ipad

If you could have lunch with one person, real or fictitious, who would it be?

Shakespeare. Greatest writer ever. How did he do that?

Where can people learn more about your books?

On my blogs: and and

Apostrophe Books: