Author Interviews

Author Interview with Susanne Leist, Paranormal Mystery Writer

ProfileHello, everyone! Welcome to today’s author interview with paranormal mystery/thriller author Susanne Leist! Susanne has always had a passion for writing and has achieved her life-long goal of writing her debut novel. Please stick around and discover her and her book, The Dead Game.

Hello, Susanne! Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

After college, I worked in the fields of commodities, financial analysis, and budgeting. I went back to school for an M.B.A. in Finance. But my creative side had been calling out to me for years, wanting to be set free. I finally listened to it and wrote my first book, The Dead Game, a paranormal mystery/thriller with vampires and vampire derivatives.

I am married with two beautiful daughters. My oldest is married and works as a buyer for an internet company. My second is graduating from college and will go on to graduate school for social work.

My life is complete.

What’s your writing background?

My writing background is my love for the written word. I have been reading adult books since the age of ten. When I say adult books, I am referring to the murder mysteries that my older brother was reading at the time. He devoured books, a few each week. I followed him into the magic world of books. He read Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, and Alistair Maclean and so did I.

I wrote my book to honor his memory. It took me ten long years to hone my craft. I had to begin at step one and teach myself through editing and grammar books the proper way to write. I hope I made him proud.

When it comes to reviews, do you have a thick skin? How do you handle negative feedback?

I’ve never had a thick skin. I’m sensitive about my feelings and other people’s feelings. I find it hard to give a bad review. I could always find something good to say about a book. But I received a few poor reviews, at the beginning.

These reviews were from fellow authors in review groups. At first, I was hurt and discouraged. Then I noticed a trend to them. They were criticizing the same few things about my book. I was telling too much of the story and not showing the reader enough. I was using too many adverbs. I studied these reviews and read more editing books. My book had been edited by Outskirts Press, but I edited it again.

I believe my book is done. I’m happy with it. It is all what I had dreamed it could be. My reviews have been good so far—fingers crossed.

What inspires your stories? What draws you to your preferred genre?

I’ve always loved to read murder mysteries. I’ve read all types of mysteries, from Agatha Christie to Sherlock Holmes. In recent years, I’ve begun to watch TV shows with paranormal themes. My favorites are The Originals and Supernatural. They combine horror with wit.

I have always found it hard to find books that offer mystery in paranormal settings. That’s why I decided to write a paranormal, murder mystery of my own. My book, The Dead Game, has dead bodies, clues, and suspects like a traditional murder mystery. However, it also has humans, vampires, and vampire derivatives. A little humor is added along the way. And don’t forget the haunted house—we must have one of these.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

  The Dead Game is the first in a series of three books. The first book resolves the murder mystery, but at the same time, opens a Pandora’s Box of new mysteries. Its surprise ending will lead to more surprises.

Once The Dead Game is established in the marketplace, I will begin my work on the second book. I have an outline and notes all ready to be written. My writing often leads me in unknown directions, so I won’t know how the book will end until it does.

The story opens with a horrific scene at End House, setting the stage for the rest of the book. End House is situated in an idyllic town in Florida, where tourists frolic on its white-sand beaches. But this paradise turns deadly as bodies wash up on shore. The small town is ravaged by winds and dark shadows.

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    Three young women move to Oasis for its secluded white-sand beaches. What they find is anything but peace and quiet. They and their new friends are invited to a party at a deserted house. That is when the fun and games begin. They are thrust into a deadly game between humans, vampires, and The Dead.

Linda wants to find a new home and to trust Todd, who might be the ring leader of the evil group. Shana wants love with Sheriff Sam, but he is too close with the nocturnal, original residents. And Louise finds that she doesn’t fit into this small town of secrets and intrigue.

Do they uncover The Dead and save their town? Or are they sucked into the descending realms of the supernatural?

The Dead Game has begun.

Can you tell us one or two quirky thing about yourself? Other hobbies besides writing?

Besides reading and writing, I enjoy shopping, mostly for handbags, and swimming. Swimming gives me the strength to shop and write.

What’s one thing about writing you would have liked to have known before getting behind the computer?

I hadn’t realized beforehand that writing a book was so hard. Characters have to move around and speak at the same time. They can’t sound the same. After all the rewrites, the plot and story of my book has remained the same. Only the dialogue and grammar have changed. I believe I could edit for the rest of my life and still not be satisfied.

The writing and publishing process has been a steep learning curve for me. But I would not have had it any other way.

Did you go traditional or self-publish?

I published through Outskirts Press.com, which is a do-it-yourself type of self-publishing house. Once my book had been improved, I was offered a menu of services to choose from. Most of these were expensive. I picked editing and their publishing service. Everything else had to be chosen a la carte.

One day, the publisher informed me that my book had been published. I thought that this meant it was printed. Not only was it printed, it was sitting on Amazon and Nook without a description or bio. It looked sad. I panicked. I had to learn how to use Google. I opened blogs. I found Facebook and Twitter. Luckily, I found some nice authors who helped me with my countless questions.

Advice to those looking to break into your genre? On marketing and selling?

It is important for an author to have everything in place before launching his or her book. I learned the hard way after I self-published. Blogs, websites, and social sites like Google and Twitter should be ready and waiting. Summaries and bios should also be prepared in advance. After the book is released, it should be announced everywhere with bold pictures and words. People will be ready and eager to read it. That’s my goal for my next book, which will be the second book in The Dead Game series.

How can readers get into contact with you?

My readers can find me through my blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Google. I respond to all questions and remarks. I love to interact with my followers and read their opinions.

susanneleist.blogspot.com

http://susanneleist.wordpress.com thedeadgameblog.tumblr.com

 http://amazon.com/author/susanneleist

Goodreads

Shelfari

https://twitter.com/SusanneLeist

Thanks for reading, everyone. Please let Susanne know how much you enjoyed her interview by leaving a message below, or visiting one of her sites. Have a great week, and tune in next Monday for our next interviewee.

 

Author Interviews, Misc

Conferences and Public Speaking: Cairo Amani Reveals Another Side of Writing

Hello, all! I’m always thrilled when my friends do something cool when it comes to writing. I recently learned that Cairo Amani, who has graced us with their presence many times already, has done something extremely neat: spoken at an arts conference about literature. So, of course I had to find out more.  Please stick around! You won’t want to miss it, and if you’re interested in this kind of activity, maybe this will encourage you to get out there and try it. 🙂

Cai! It’s great to have you back. Can you summarize the purpose of this conference?

Steampunk to Afrofuturism was a two-day conference that offered space for writers, musicians, artists, and academicians to explore, expand upon, and rethink the implications of speculative humanities

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Why was it important to you to participate in it?

Science Fiction and Fantasy is such a huge part of our world and our upbringing and it has the potential for so much more than we realize. We are born hearing fairy tales not realizing that those fairy tales did and still can have relevance to our everyday lives. We use fantasy stories to teach kids, manners, trust, respect and then we stop. But what if we continued? The conference asked us as readers and artists to rethink the implications of Speculative Humanities–and we absolutely should.

I love those points about how, at a certain point, we stop using fantasy to teach and to socialize youth, as well as to deal with important life questions. I believe childhood that thirst for the fantastic never really goes away, and that we continue to seek it in some forms throughout our lives.

How did you go about getting to be a speaker?

Most events have a “Call for Papers”. I try to do a search for calls weekly, to see if there are any that pertain to speculative fiction, that are open (no membership required) and where my subject matter may fit. Then I send in an abstract, which is a short summary of my presentation. Then I wait–because so much of writing is about waiting.

How did you manage your nerves?

image (1)I am not sure I ever did. I went with friends, I called my best friend on the phone just minutes before the panel began–and then I made the audience laugh. Throughout my entire career my plan has always been to make the audience laugh. When you open with a joke the crowd is ready to trust you–when you laugh with the crowd, you become ready to trust them.

How does speaking at this event fit into your long-term writing goals?

My ten-year goal is to be a professional scholar–meaning I’d be completely self-sustained by writing, teaching and public speaking. Writing queer people and people of color into mainstream stories is my form of activism. But those stories tend to be less popular on shelves. Meaning, I have to work twice as hard to find a place for my stories, to make a place for my stories. Public speaking allows me to show people that there is a need while also inspiring them to fill the need–so I’m not the only one.

What was your favorite part of the experience?

After the whole thing was over, there was a luncheon for all the speakers. I feel like it’s super rare that I get to sit around a table with a bunch of other Nerds of Color and talk shop. It was exhilarating!

 What was the essence of what you spoke about?

image (2)My presentation “Harry Potter Could’ve Saved Michael Brown” addressed how more diversity in children’s literature could lesson Xenophobia as those children grow to be adults. It also touched on how diverse literature that already exists could easily replace the texts we do read.

Message to our readers today?

Life isn’t Tetris, there’s not always going to be a place for you to snuggly fit yourself. But don’t let that discourage you. Think about where you want to be and then create that space. Don’t wait for people to realize they need you–show them they need you. Then be present.

… … ‘life isn’t Teris’. Love that.

How can readers contact you to learn more about you and your future activities?

Please visit my website to shoot me an email. There is also a “Find Cai” tab-which leads you to my calendar. http://www.cairoamani.com. I hope to speak to you soon.

Thanks for checking out Cai’s incredible experience. Please leave Cai a message below and/or go check out her website and drop her a line there. Also, she is speaking at an event this weekend called: AFROFUTURISM | Conference: Designing new narratives to empower the African Diaspora. Check out the Facebook page for details!

Have a great rest of the week! 

Author Interviews

Author Interview with Horror Writer Michael Aronovitz

Welcome, everyone! It’s time for another interview, this time with horror writer Michael Aronovitz. Judging from the reviews of his book, The Witch of the Wood, his works are must-reads for horror lovers. Read on to meet today’s guest!

It’s great to have you with us today. Would you mind starting us off by telling us a little about yourself?

I am a college professor of English and a baseball nut.  I love heavy metal music and horror movies.

Where does writing fit into your busy life, and what keeps you motivated/inspired when discouragement sets in?

I write at every available opportunity.  At the moment I am only teaching college classes so I have a bit more time, but when I taught in public schools I would write for a couple of hours each morning and all day on the weekends.  Often, I would bring pages drafted in the morning to school and revise them on my breaks.  In terms of discouragement, I don’t see it that way.  Every page and scene is fun to write no matter how much I obsess.  Reconstructing the “discouraging” rough work is part of the process.

What’s your writing background?

I have published two novels and two collections.

When it comes to reviews, do you have a thick skin?  How do you handle negative feedback?

When I am fortunate enough to have a review of my work appear somewhere I celebrate regardless of the “thumbs up or down.”  The fun is being reviewed in the first place.  It means people are talking about the work!  As for negative feedback, I take it to heart and move on.  Hey…it’s still someone talking about the work.

What inspires your stories?  What draws you to your preferred genre?

My initial inspiration was Stephen King and his ability to draw characters.  In reference to genre, horror is really just my favorite spice.  It interests me and keeps me reading (and writing).  The supernatural opens up strange timelines, and it makes things more fun.  Add a time limitation or two, something at stake, and a gut-wrenching discovery and you have the essence of why horror works for me.

Can you tell us about your books?  What other projects are you working on?

Interview2Seven Deadly Pleasures and The Voices in Our Heads are collections of stories I published around the horror marketplace starting in 2007.  Alice Walks is my first novel, a ghost story, and your featured novel here The Witch of the Wood is my second novel, more a dark apocalyptic journey.  My third novel titled Phantom Effect is a serial killer / supernatural piece to be published by Night Shade Books in February of 2016, and my first young adult novel titled Becky’s Kiss comes out through Vinspire Press this coming November.

How did you build your writing support team?  Do you have tips and suggestions for other writers?

A great question.  I built my “team” begging and pleading to anyone who would listen.  I was incredibly fortunate back in 2007 that horror scholar and Lovecraft biographer S.T. Joshi took an interest in my fiction and put my first collection through Hippocampus.  Since then I have been lucky enough to have contact with other writers like Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne, those who not only write wonderful fiction themselves, but have given me exposure on Haunted Nights Live (as well as some blurbs).  I also bounce ideas off a couple of independent film directors from Australia named Donna McRae and Ursula Dabrowsky.  Locally, I have contact with Ken Bingham, writer, stage producer, editor, and teacher.  All these wonderful people are essential to my success.  I do not have an agent.  I have gotten all of my work published on my own.

What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your genre?  Advice on marketing and selling?

I’ll answer the latter part first and assure you that I am learning the marketing as I go.  The more I explore in this business the more convinced I am that marketing is a major part of the deal.  My advice to new horror writers is always to stick with what you love.  Trends are fickle.

Hmmm. “Trends are fickle”. I like that statement very much. An excellent reminder to always focus on what drives us.

How can readers get in contact with you?

My website is currently http://michaelaronovitz.weebly.com/

My Facebook Author’s Page is: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelAronovitzAuthor?ref=hl

I am currently building a new website to be nicknamed “The Author’s Graveyard” and readers can email me at theauthorsgraveyard@gmail.com

Thank you so much for visiting with us today, and for sharing about your writing experiences. Readers, please let Michael Aronovitz know how much you enjoyed getting to know him by leaving a message below and/or connecting with him via his links. Thanks for reading!

 

Author Interviews

Interview with Horror Writers Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross

Time for another interview, Readers! I don’t often host horror writers, but once you meet today’s guests, dynamic duo Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross, you’ll know why I did. So please stick around and meet them!

Can you start by telling us a little about yourselves?

Author Tamara Thorne
Tamara Thorne

Tamara has been selling horror novels since the early 90’s and has the wrinkles to prove it. Alistair is still somewhat fresh-faced but is working hard on some crow’s feet and a permanently down-turned mouth to go with the many books we have upcoming, both collaborative and solo. Alistair enjoys cheese and pie, and little else. Tamara likes short walks in the rain, strawberry pasta, and snorting catnip.

Where does writing fit into your busy lives, and what keeps you motivated/inspired when discouragement sets in?

Alistair Cross
Alistair Cross

Writing is our lives. We put in 8-10 hours a day six days a week. We connect on Skype each morning and write together in the cloud, even if we are working on different projects. Our virtual office is motivation in itself. We also make use of whips and unseemly jokes, often at our cats’ expense.

As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What have you learned to never do in your own writing?

A good story must have great characters and excellent editing. A plot is nice, too. As for our own work: Alistair avoids putting smokers in books because it puts him back into withdrawal. Tamara doesn’t like to include characters who wear too much perfume because it gives her a headache.

When it comes to reviews, do you have thick skins? How do you handle negative feedback?

We don’t read reviews. If they’re good, our heads swell, and if they’re bad, we get annoyed. We both feel it’s best to be true to ourselves and our own visions.

What draws you to write horror novels? Why do you think it’s so popular?

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We like to be scared, and believe that horror speaks to the darker corners of human psychology. People enjoy having a safe way to face their fears.

Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?

With the release of THE CLIFFHOUSE HAUNTING, we’re returning to a previous novel, GRANDMA’S RACK, a tale of witches and mayhem, due out later this year. We will also continue releasing installments of THE GHOSTS OF RAVENCREST, a serialized Gothic novel about an old manor with a history of scandal and violence. Alistair is currently working on a solo vampire novel, which is set in the same universe as THE CLIFFHOUSE HAUNTING. After that, we’re beginning a new collaboration, a psychological thriller, that we’re both very excited about.

What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into the horror genre? Advice on marketing and selling?

Read lots, write lots, and avoid taking advice from other writers unless they’re successful. As for marketing, it’s part of the gig and when a writer isn’t writing, it’s important that he or she be working on promoting their work through interviews, reviews, social media, and whatever other outlets are available.

How can readers get into contact with you?

Our websites have all the information readers need to find us. alistaircross.com and tamarathorne.com

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Many thanks to Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross for stopping by today. Readers, please do them the honour of leaving them a message below and also checking out their contact links.

Enjoy the rest of your week!