Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Welcome and Thanks to my new readers!




"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." ~ Gandhi



A huge thank you and a welcome hug to my new readers from the US and beyond. I never thought this blog would touch so many creative people from around the world. Thanks for making this a fun place for me to interview writers, and share writing advice.




"I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks." ~ William Shakespeare




If any of you would like to be interviewed, please contact me. I would love to get some writers/creative people from all countries on this blog.


"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." ~ Winston Churchill


 The list has grown:

  • United States
  • India
  • United Kingdom
  • Malaysia
  • Australia
  • Pakistan
  • Russia
  • Thailand
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • China
  • Algeria
  • France
  • Netherlands
  • Ireland
  • Brazil


"Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." ~ Douglas Adams



Keep reading & Keep Writing










"The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention." ~ Oscar Wilde




"You have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy." ~ Buddha




You ROCK! 




"How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world." ~ William Shakespeare

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Interview with Mike Kalmbach: Author of The Caldarian Conflict


I met Mike through a mutual friend, and writer. She thought he'd make for an interesting interview, and she was right.

This interview is packed full of useful information for any writer at any stage in the game. And if you're a teen, he has a book for you to help get you started in your career as a writer. I'm going to pick it up too, to help me write for the teen readers. 


Below are the questions I asked him:

1.     What’s the oddest thing about pirates you found out, while researching for your book?

There were a lot of odd things--like the often-fatal punishment of keelhauling, which involved tying the offender to a rope, tossing them overboard on one side, and dragging them under the boat to the other, scraping the victim with vicious cuts from barnacles that grew underneath.  I guess when you're spending time at sea, your mind gets to wandering about more....entertaining ways to punish each other.
Somewhat less gruesome, but no less odd, were the superstitions many pirates held. Women and whistling were generally considered bad luck.

2.     Where or what has been the best place to promote your book?
Goodreads by far. I've met dozens of folks I wouldn't have otherwise by offering giveaways and having folks share what they think about the book. 
I also had the opportunity to meet with a couple of book clubs that selected The Caldarian Conflict as their book of the month, and it's a lot of fun to connect with readers that way. 

I promoted my latest book, Writing Advice for Teens: Creating Stories on Goodreads also, and people really responded well to those giveaways.


Honestly, for any author, the best promotion is for someone who enjoyed the book to talk about it with others. Think of one other friend who might enjoy it, and give them a copy. Word of mouth is a lot better than any promotion I can do.



3.     What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
Fun question! I usually get up around 7:30, and if I'm relaxed I'll eat a bowl of cereal (Marshmallow Mateys, of course) or toast and strawberry jam. Occasionally I'm in a rush, so I'll grab a PopTart to go, but I really prefer a more relaxed meal.

4.     Why do you write?
I'm not happy unless I'm creating something. Writing is my creative outlet, and it's something I enjoy so much that I look forward to every night I get to spend writing.

5.     How much time do you have butt in chair?
In general, a couple of hours a day. I tend to fit it in between 10 and midnight, just before going to bed.

6.     Where do your characters come from?
Great question! They come from people I'd like to know. I don't knowingly model my characters after real people, but I do like to figure out how my characters think. It's a way to expand my own mind by considering different ways that other people would react to the same situation.

7.     Do you use an outline or free association, or other methods?
I use a loose outline, defining the major events, then allowing myself the freedom to create "between the lines" in the outline. If the outline is too rigid, I feel trapped, so I let the outline evolve as I write the story. That way, if I figure out a better or more interesting plot twist, I have the freedom to change my mind.

8.  How long did it take you to complete this novel?
The Caldarian Conflict took me fifteen months to complete--nine months for the first draft, then six months soliciting feedback from early readers and cycling through revisions.

9.  How many rejections did you get before it was published?


Halfway through writing The Caldarian Conflict, I decided against pursuing traditional publishing, so my rejection count was zero. 

I felt the audience for The Caldarian Conflict might have been too narrow to catch the eye of a traditional publisher, but would be just right for a first foray into self-publishing. So far, my instinct seems correct.



10. Who is your biggest cheerleader?
I'd have to say my critique partners are my most vocal cheerleaders, and I've met a ton of helpful folks via Twitter as well (too many to name). 
Behind the scenes, my wife takes care of a lot of things so I can have more time to write, so I'm really grateful to her for supporting my dream.

11. Do you belong to any writer’s groups or associations? If so, why?
I actually lead the Rochester Minnesota Writing Group in my current city, connecting over 80 local writers together. In today's world, you can't write in a vacuum. I've found the support and networking opportunities offered by the members of this group to be invaluable in helping further my writing career.
The other big benefit is that we critique each others' work. It's a wonderful opportunity to develop editing skills, and it usually improves the skill of every writer who participates. Writers love giving and receiving feedback.

12. What is your biggest downer about the publishing world?
I'd say it's the animosity that exists between some self-published authors and traditionally-published authors. 
Ultimately, we're all trying to help connect readers with books they love, so I'd like to see more friendships develop. I have a lot of good friends going down both routes right now, so I'd love for others to have the opportunity to share that experience. 

13. What do you think of e-books, and self-publishing?
E-books are simply wonderful. I love having virtually any book at my fingertips, just a couple of taps away from downloading to my e-book reader. That said, I also enjoy the texture of a good paperback book, so I tend to alternate between the two.
Self-publishing is a double-edged sword. I think it's a wonderful way to release work quickly that's appropriate for a smaller audience than is usually targeted by the Big 6, and it allows the author much more control over the final product. 
However, quality is a huge concern--I can't count the number of books that were released before they were ready. If writers are considering self-publishing, they need to develop (or hire) the experience necessary to find out whether their book is ready.

14. What website do you use the most when you are writing?
While writing, I try to avoid any Internet connection at all. It's too easy to slip in the trap of "I'll research this, then check my email, then see what's happening on Twitter or Facebook," etc. All too soon, an hour's gone by without me writing a word.
When I'm researching, I'll often start at Wikipedia or Google. From there, I try to find a few corroborating sources to make sure any facts I use are actually true.

15. Where’s the best place for a cup of Joe in Minnesota?
I'm not a coffee drinker (*gasp*, I know), but I love going to Dunn Bros for the atmosphere and an iced tea. It's comfortable, generally quiet, and great for writing. 
Plus, I tend to leave a book or two on their bookshelf for a reader to discover.

16. Did you use a professional editor before you published?
I'm a freelance editor myself, so in a way, yes, but I didn't hire anyone else. As a freelance editor, I know that I'm blind to my own faults, so I took the time to seek out critiques from fellow writers, and had another dozen fantasy fans read an early draft before I released The Caldarian Conflict.   
I used a similar process (though much shortened) on Writing Advice for Teens: Creating Stories. So far, both books have been received really well (all 4- and 5-star reviews on Amazon).

17. What other hobbies do you have other than writing?
I spend as much time as I can with my son, who recently turned 1. I'm doing my best to enjoy the time I have with him while he's young--such a fun time!
Beyond spending time with family, I also enjoy teaching kids how to program robots, mentoring students and other writers, and training in martial arts.

18. What words of advice do you have for fellow writers?
Always strive to write the best story you can. If you can't be proud of what you've written, don't publish it. And never publish something before you've had an experienced writer read your work. They'll help you find problems in your work before your readers do.

Keep writing every day. If you don't get started, you'll never finish. So get started today. Write now!
I'd also probably be remiss if I didn't plug the fact I have an entire book (and another on the way) packed full of advice for writers. 
Writing Advice for Teens: Creating Stories (available now)  
Writing Advice for Teens: Editing Fiction (scheduled for October 30) are good resources for any novice to intermediate writer.

19. Is writing your full time job?
Not yet. Like most writers, I work a day job  to pay the bills. Until you have several books available for sale, you're probably not going to make enough to survive on the income. 
Unfortunately, working a day job means that you spend most of your energy doing something other than writing. I hope one day that my work is successful enough that writing books can become my day job. 
On the flip side, I enjoy my day job as a software engineer, and I'm also an active inventor (with many patent applications in process), so I have a few creative outlets besides just writing.

20. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?
If you think a friend might enjoy a book I've written, tell them about it, or better yet, give it as a gift. The best way to help an author is by talking, tweeting, or sharing material that talks about them. 
Also, if you read one of my books, please write a review and post it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

21. What one word best describes you?

Innovative. 

I'm constantly looking to create value for people around me, and I'll often invent something new to accomplish that. Sometimes it's a patent application, other times it's a book. In all cases, I hope my creations help people lead better lives.



Thanks,

Mike Kalmbach

My book, The Caldarian Conflict, is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, CreateSpace, and more!

Reading Minnesota blog: http://readingminnesota.blogspot.com
Writers community:  http://forum.writanon.com

**** News. Contest. News. ****

Mike has graciously offered to give away one signed paperback and five ebooks. 

This giveaway is International, and the winner will receive a signed copy of the selected book directly from the author. 

This giveaway is for a paperback copy of either The Caldarian Conflict or Writing Advice for Teens: Creating Stories, both by Mike Kalmbach (the winner can select either one). 

Five runners-up will win an ebook of either The Caldarian Conflict or Writing Advice for Teens: Creating Stories, and these ebooks will be gifted via Amazon. The contest will end on 7/28/12 at 11:59pm Central.

* One email address per household. 
* One Twitter account per entrant. 

Winner has 72 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. We will be checking and disqualifying any entries that are trying to cheat and game the system.

Participants can earn up to three chances to win:

Winners will be selected via the random number generator at http://random.org.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Interview with Jennifer Chase: Author of Dark Mind

I met Jennifer on Facebook. I have a dark mind, like many authors do. So the title jumped out at me. I love crime scene investigations and TV shows about criminals too. She was batting 1000 with me already. I had to know more about her.


I reached out by sending her a message and she responded with a thank you and a yes to being interviewed! 


As you read on, you'll learn why Jennifer is a success. She's walked the walk and talked the talk. And, when she has questions, she investigates. 


Below are the questions I asked her:



Where do your dogs and cats hang out when you write?

The cats hang out wherever they want (aloof creatures they are) and sometimes they are in my home office curled up on the futon.

You’ll always find at least one snoring Labrador by my bare feet when I’m writing.  The dogs know that when I’m writing, especially when I’m writing a high-action scene, you don’t bother mom!  Writing is so solitary that I love the company of my four-legged friends.


Describe your writing in 5 words:

Crime, murder with a twist.


Did you ever work in the criminology field, or use your degree only for writing?

During the time when I was working on my masters in criminology and writing my thesis, I got the idea to write Compulsion.  

It was a crazy time… because I completed my first novel and finished my masters in the same year.  I don’t recommend attempting all in one year – it’ll make you nuts.  

I was all set to work in the law enforcement field, but something called me to writing and it took me on that path.  However, I do consult on cases, specifically for crime scene and behavioral evidence.  This background really helps in my writing and I feel that it gives my novels a little edge in the investigation and crime scene areas.


How many awards have you been given?

It’s been a wonderful honor to have received two distinct awards for two of my books. 

DEAD GAME received a bronze medal award for Thriller and SILENT PARTNER received a silver medal award for Suspense from Readers Favorite.  

At the beginning of July, I just found out that my latest novel DARK MIND is a finalist for Fiction/Action from Readers Favorite and a semi-finalist in Mystery/Thriller from Best Indie Books 2012.    

What is the oddest thing a reader has asked you about your books?

I once had a reader ask me if I physically measured how my crime scenes are going to work before I write them, for the evidence, body position, etc.  

I thought it was an odd question, but I love the enthusiasm and attention to detail from an avid reader.  I think about that question every time I write any crime scene now.


What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?

I treat my writing schedule like a typical work day at the office – it helps to keep me balanced with plenty of sleep.  

I’m up by 7:00am, feed the animals and drink a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon.  My favorite quick high-protein breakfast is usually two soft-boiled eggs, fruit (love mangoes when in season), lean bacon or chicken, and a piece of non-gluten toast.  I have to eat a good breakfast otherwise my battery runs out too quickly and because my lunch is generally light.      


Do you ever creep yourself out when you write about crime?
      
   don’t really get creeped out per se, but what happens to me is that I hold my breath when I’m writing a tense scene about serial killers.  

  When I know that I have to write these types of scenes I make sure that I take plenty of breaks to give myself a rest – and breathe.


Which character has become your favorite and why?
      
  It would be easy for me to say Emily Stone because she’s the main character in the series, but I love my quirky, out-spoken supporting character Jordan Smith.  

   He’s a character that Emily meets in DEAD GAME and he’s been a recurring character ever since.  He’s one of those characters that says exactly what’s on his mind and he has boundless energy, even when it’s not appropriate.  I guess he’s the comic relief in a very tense crime story. 


Ever use your ties to the cops to get out of a ticket?
          
Not sure if I should answer this question… but I will say that I’ve never received a speeding ticket in my life.

Who is your biggest fan?
      
  That’s easy, my husband is my biggest fan.  

   He’s always been there for me and is constantly cheering me on.  He’s not much of a fiction reader, but he did read DARK MIND and enjoyed it.  His words were that he thought I wrote the fight scenes extremely well.


Where do you go for the best cup of Joe?
      
   Don’t laugh – but I don’t drink coffee.  It’s true, I can’t stand java, but I do like Chai lattes.  My favorite place is a coffee house called Surf City Coffee, and I’ve heard their coffee is good too.


Any words of advice for fellow writers?
      


  There’s a lot of writing advice out there, but my advice is to write, write, and write.  

  Write what you love, and not what you think you should write, or what someone tells you that you should write.  Stay true to your craft and you’ll be amazed at what can happen. 


What one word best describes you?
      
    Tenacious.


Have you taken any self-defense classes?
      
   My inspiration for my first novel COMPULSION actually came from the experience of living next door to a violent psychopath.  This person threatened my life, sometimes daily, for more than two years. 

  Now, I’ve got you thinking!  

  At one point, I hired a personal trainer who trained me in kickboxing and self-defense techniques.  I wanted to be able to defend myself if this neighbor actually tried to hurt or kill me.  I learned helpful moves if I had to fight someone in hand-to-hand combat – it was a great experience of confidence building. 

  Also, this experience helped my heroine Emily Stone in her own predicaments. 


What’s your favorite thing about being a published author? The worst?

I love being a published author and having the freedom to write crime fiction.  It’s amazing to see my books on a book shelf, but at the same time it’s thrilling to know that readers are enjoying my books and waiting for the next one.  

The worst is thinking that terrible “what if” I can’t write another book or “what if” everyone hates it.  I try to push any negative thoughts from my mind and push forward.  Besides, what’s the worst that can happen?


What do you think about e-books and the publishing world today?
      
  I think e-books are an incredible way to have access to books and to become published.  It’s a wave that’s not showing any signs of stopping.  

   I didn’t like the idea of e-books at first, but I’ve come around.  I still think there is a market for paperbacks but the ease, cost effectiveness, and endless supply of e-books has made it available to almost everyone worldwide. 

   For me personally, I read some books on my Kindle and some actual paperbacks.  

   The big publishing houses are going to have to realize that they will price their way out of the booming mass e-book market if they don’t drop their prices just a bit.   


Do you see your books becoming movies? If so, who would play your main characters?
      
   I love to daydream about Emily Stone hitting the big screen.  If I had to choose my dream actors, it would be Angelina Jolie as Emily Stone, Johnny Depp as Rick Lopez, Matthew McConaughey as Jordan Smith, and Christopher Walken as Samuel (serial killer from DEAD GAME).


Jennifer Chase
Award Winning Author & Criminologist


Blog/Website

Books: Compulsion  Dead Game  Dark Mind  Silent Partner  Screenwriting

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Interview with Austin S. Camacho: Author of The Troubleshooter


I met Austin through Facebook. I liked the title of The Troubleshooter, and so I read the jacket of his book. It peaked my interest. I asked him for an interview and he said it sounded like a great idea. I'm so glad he did. 

Austin's been an author, and writing teacher for years. He's one to learn from. He's open and honest with writers and fans. And he has an interesting background mix of psychology and military service. Lets just say he's been there, done that, and knows what he's talking about. 


Below are the questions I asked him: 

1.     How many books do you have published? In what genres?

I have 5 books in the Hannibal Jones detective/mystery series - The Troubleshooter, Blood and Bone, Collateral Damage, Damaged Goods and Russian Roulette.  

There are also 3 Stark & O'Brien thrillers - The Payback Assignment, The Orion Assignment and the Piranha Assignment

2.     What do you like about writing mysteries? Adventure?

Mysteries are fun because I love building the puzzle for readers to figure out.  I also like to explore human motivations, which is after all what mysteries are all about. 

Thrillers are fun to write because I enjoy putting characters into traps and finding cool ways for them to get out of them.  I think "How do we get out of this" should be its own sub-genre.

3.     What one word best describes you?

Obsessive  (but in a good way. :-)


4.     When did you start writing and why?

I've been writing since high school, but didn't get serious until I was in the army (1983 or so.)  I was reading a mystery novel and realized about a third of the way through that I already knew everything that was going to happen in the rest of the book.  I thought, "Geez, I can do better than this!"  Then I set out to prove it.


5.     What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?

I'm up at 5am every day, and I usually start with a bowl of cereal and coffee.

6.     What is the best thing about teaching? What’s the worst?

The best thing about teaching is the gratitude of students when I give them something they can really use to improve their writing.  

The worst thing is dealing with the occasional student who challenges everything I say.

7.     Who are you reading right now?

John Gilstrap's Damage Control - latest in the best thriller series out there.

8.     Did you take writing classes before you were published?

No, I learned to write by reading and imitating what I liked.

9.     What’s the oddest thing a fan has asked you about your writing?

I've been asked more than once if my stories are true.  Considering what I write, that's a little scary.

10. How has your knowledge of psychology helped you develop characters?

Mystery writing is all about human motivations.  To make my characters real I need to understand their backgrounds and culture to know why they do what they do, especially those outliers who commit major crimes.  That's where a background in psychology comes in.



11. Being in the military, you traveled a lot: How has this helped your writing?

The locations used in the Stark & O'Brien books are authentic because I was able to visit these places when I was in uniform.  If you're going to write international thrillers, you really have to BE there.

12. Where’s the best place to get a cup of Joe in your hometown?

Sadly, there isn't a good cup of coffee in my town except in my house.  Panera's in Bowie serves a decent brew, but for a GREAT cup of coffee I travel south to Alexandria VA, where St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub is one of the last remaining authentic coffee houses.

13. Who is your biggest cheerleader?

Are you kidding?  My wife might knife you for even asking. ;-)

14. Did you ever want to give up on your writing? If so, what kept you going?

Never.  If I didn't write I'd die.


15. What words of advice do you have for newbie writers?

Read the kind of stuff you want to write.  Write every day.  And edit your work unmercifully.

16. How do you promote yourself? Facebook? Twitter? Other? And which one works the best?

I'm active on Facebook and Twitter, but the most effective on line promotion (IMHO) is to comment on other peoples' blogs.

17. How many rejections did you receive before you were published?

I know people count those things but I never did.  That's like asking how many times did I rewrite a particular paragraph.  The failures don't matter to me, only the successes.

18. What do you think of the publishing world today? Is it easier or harder to get published?

It is much harder to publish today than it was 20 years ago when there were a lot more publishers, a lot more bookstores and, sadly, a lot more readers.  The remaining mainstream publishers are only searching for the next blockbuster, and are reluctant to take players from their natural "farm team" of small presses and self publishers.  That attitude may kill them soon.

19. Do you think e-books will out number paper books soon or ever?

Of course they will.  They are easier, faster and cheaper to produce.  But paper books will never go away. 


20. What’s the funniest thing that has been done or written in your writing classes?

I've seen enough truly bad analogies that I've started to collect them.  The worst I can think of right now is, "Take me," she panted, her hefty breasts heaving like a freshman on dollar-beer night."

21. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

They can friend me on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/#!/austin.camacho.16 - and like my fan page - https://www.facebook.com/austin.camacho.author . And of course they can read my novels and review them on Amazon.com

22. Have any of your friends or family members showed up as characters in your writing? If so, did they recognize it?

I've never used real people in my writing, but people have often accused me of putting them in my novels.  Often they think the villain is them... and what does THAT say about people I know.

23. What’s your blog about?

Another Writer's Life - http://ascamacho.blogspot.com/ is about my writing life and experiences, and filled with hints for aspiring and emerging writers.  

BTW, I am ALWAYS looking for guest posts from other writers <Hint! Hint!>

Angie: (wink wink back at ya)


24. Any big news?

The big news is the conference I'm helping to put on next year.  The Creatures, Crimes & Creativity conference (September 13, 14 and 15 of 2013) will gather readers and writers of mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and Steam Punk in the Marriott Hunt Valley hotel/conference center in Baltimore.  

Keynote speaker will be Jeffrey Deaver - http://www.jefferydeaver.com/ - and local special guests will be John Gilstrap - http://www.johngilstrap.com/ - and Trice Hickman – http://www.tricehickman.com/

You, your friends and your readers should go to http://www.creaturescrimesandcreativity.com to register while you can get the early bird prices.