Category Archives: self-publishing

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Melissa Giovagnoli, author (and founder) of “Networlding”


1. Tell us about your latest book.MGnetworldingbook

Networlding is all about how to make Malcolm’s Gladwell’s best-selling book, The Tipping Point, work in today’s “Networked World.” It provides a seven-step, proven system (picked up by Yale University for example) for building effective networks that yield accelerated returns.

It helps companies and individuals accelerate goal achievement as it has the science of networks imbedded into the steps. The book is an evolution of another book I wrote on networking and decades of research on effective networking. Bottomline: it’s great for both people looking to grow new business opportunities or new career opportunities.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I was a writer back when I was in college, taking every writing course I could find. But it was really after I started my own company after law school and trying out a big legal career that I decided what I really wanted to do was to go back to consulting. I was around when computers were first being used and I was able to “catch the wave” of the new world of work  that time brought forth.

I loved people and I loved computers and I also realized I wanted to help people start businesses, so I reached out to my network and found a publisher in Chicago, Dearborn Publishing, who took a deep interest in my first book idea—a resource book for entrepreneurs. That started my writing with my first book, The Chicago Entrepreneurs Sourcebook. That did well becoming one of the top 10 small business books in Chicago the year it came out. From there I just kept writing and now have 11 books out.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

My day starts with calls from either author-to-be or from my alliance partners who work with me on our various projects. I am licensing out the Networlding methodology and now have five licensees this year having taken on five since January and with a goal to have ten by the end of the year. Therefore, daily, I’ll be working on some kind of support for the licensees, helping them market and develop their Networlding  practice. Our licensees come from all over the country and now are coming from outside of the country, so our conversations with them, by phone, focus on how to market effectively to people and companies in their respective communities to help these prospects understand the benefits of our methodology.

Other days I’ll be speaking at a conference as a keynoter or panelist on social media and networking. I usually don’t travel a lot any more. I try to send one of our virtual partners, first.

My day continues with  requests by email to help someone get a book written and marketed. Now we are growing out our publishing division so my days can also include identifying organizations—especially consulting firms who can really grow their market share by authoring books.


4. Describe your desk/workspace.

This is simple, I have a creative room (really!). It’s got a cool red coach and a simple dark oak desk with a Mac G5 on it, but I usually sit on my comfy red coach with my Mac Air on my lap. I just love the Mac Air. I can walk around with it and it is so light it almost floats. With it and a wireless headset, I feel like I am wired to the world.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Great question. Since I do so much book coaching I don’t read as much by other authors on writing books but, instead, do major research on the top-selling books. I analyze what makes those books sell and then try out those strategies with my authors. But I do like Julia Cameron’s, The Right to Write .

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you.

1. Everyone thinks I am so brave, but, really, I am as scared to death of doing brave things like calling up CEO’s for new business as anyone else. I just call myself “stupidly courageous.” 2. I know you won’t think this is crazy but in a world where everyone is out for themselves, I really mean it when I say that my greatest goal in life if to win the Nobel Peace Prize for teaching companies how to “do well by doing good.” I would then give my prize money to the foundation I am forming to help disadvantaged kids get better starts in life after college (and right now there are a lot of disadvantaged kids out there). 3. I want to open up an innovation store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago in the current Borders Store that will be going out of business by the end of the year. It’s a crazy dream but for more than a decade I have had a dream to do that and now that retail is dying I believe we should “redefine retail.”

This would look like a store with thirty kiosks leased by innovative companies and inter-connected by what I call “business concierge” who help customers connect with these companies to innovate and buy cutting edge products and services. I don’t know how I will do it but I know I will . . . someday, but it is crazy! At least people tell me it is! Others want to be a part of it!

7. Favorite quote –

“As the world starts to move from a primarily vertical — command and control — system for creation value to a more horizontal — connect and collaborate — value creation model, and as we blow away more walls, ceilings and floors at the same time, societies are going to find themselves facing a lot of very profound changes all at once. “    – Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat

8. Best and worst part of being a writer.

The best part is that you can really create something that makes a difference for many and it can impact people year after year. The worst part for me is that writing can be lonely.

9. Advice for other writers.  

Ask for help, but also ask, “How can I help you? I think the worst thing an author can do is not to ask for help.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

Having been able to get almost a dozen books published but the most exciting time was when my publisher came to me and asked, “Melissa, what would you like to write next?”

I was able to pitch a couple of ideas and my publisher then asked me which one I would like to do more and I chose the one for which I had a stronger passion. The lesson for me was to turn your relationship with your publisher (when you get one) into a more personal relationship—a collaborative one that enables you to have creative conversations like the one I just referenced. What it took for me to create that was staying in touch with my publisher and learning, also, what types of books he was interested in seeing published.

Where can people buy your book? or Amazon.  Note: If you do purchase a book, I always offer that if you forward me the receipt, electronically to I will send you a copy of the 100-plus page guidebook that you can use with it to help build a much more successful network. 

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Shonika Proctor, multi-genre author


Author interview with Shonika Proctorcasstdcrop

I am a Washington, DC based writer. I write freelance for local newspapers. I have published 3 books and recently created branded training curriculum for teen entrepreneurs.

 1. Tell us about your latest book.

Indeed that is a loaded question because avid writers often have multiple projects in the works.  I have 3 books in final production (back from editor in layout and 1 book I am writing.

    • And Zen Again, 52 Thought Provoking Affirmations for Adults in Rhyme just came back from the editor. I originally wanted to call it ‘The Seuss Shall Set You Free’ but it was too difficult to get permission to use Seuss in the name.  
    • Chocolate Moose It is a children’s book that I released in early 2000. Highly disappointed with the final production of the first book, I hired a new illustrator and expanded the storyline so it can be published in a hardback version.
    • Building Blocks of Wonder: This is actually a 60-page coloring book. It will be bundled in a kid’s club package for a high profile individual in Washington, DC. I wrote the storyline and also created the kids club package for them so that they can reach the youth market.

The book I am currently writing is called 365: Infinite Expedition. It will be a collection of 365 inspirational stories from teen CEO’s who share the obstacles they have overcome as a teen CEO. It will also feature 12 stories from high profile CEO’s who got the entrepreneurial bug in their teens. ‘365’ represent the days of the year. I am actually collecting 730 stories because I am doing a U.S. and International version. I have allotted 2 years for this project.

 2. How did you get started as a writer?

When I was 8 years old my 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Lamboly, told me that I did such a marvelous job on the creative writing exercises that she thought that when I grew up I would be an author. I had no idea what that meant. She told me to write everyday. Although I wrote in that journal for years, well into my teens and early 20’s I never considered writing as a profession. In the early 90’s in the process of being dumped I wrote a letter to the prospective dumper to ‘argue’ my side of the story.  After reading the letter he thought that I plagiarized it, lol. Then he said that I was definitely a keeper because I was masterful with words which he believed was an incredible gift and he thought that I should definitely pursue writing seriously and professionally. So I did.

 3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I can find inspiration in everyone and everything around me so I move with my internal compass. As I do not have children, I have lots of ‘open time’. At any given point in the day I might be motivated to go out and explore the city, catch up with a local friend, volunteer for a few hours or take a mini multi day trip to the beach.

 4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I live in a ‘small’ row house so you have to be really ‘creative’ with use of space. My office is at the top level of my house and essentially shares the ‘landing pad’ of the spiral staircase. The landing pad is a 10 x 10 glass floor with a small wooden extension and my desk fits perfectly on the wooden extension. The interior walls of my house are glass and the separating walls of my house are brick. There is a huge light tunnel on the roof. So it feels like you are outside. The ceilings are 13’ tall and natural light shines through the house from all directions so it is very inspirational for writing. As for my desk it is crammed with piles of things to do, huge notepads to write ideas, mini recorders and a cup of tea is always nearby. My favorite thing about my desk is my chair that is like a vintage wooden chair from probably the late 60’s or early 70’s with some really offbeat green color fabric and leather. It is a bit eccentric and quirky…kinda like me 🙂

 5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

My favorite book is Slowing Down to the Speed of Life by Dr. Richard Carlson. It is my annual read and brings me so much personal and professional growth each year.

I also enjoy reading Dr. Seuss books. They are fast to read, have timely but timeless life lessons and always spark new ideas for me.

In terms of writing related books I tend to use reference books like The Writer’s Market or Grammar Girl’s tips and techniques on improving my writing. I am not sure how much it helps though as I write fast and usually don’t feel like going back through and checking behind myself because I just want to get stuff done and out of the way. So my editor always has a field day.

 6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

·      I have not owned a TV since 1990….yes, I realize that I have missed life changing television series like Friends, Seinfeld and Sex in the City.

·      I am an avid volunteer. My mother got me started in volunteering when I was 12 years old and these days I volunteer more than 25 hours a month. I attribute volunteering with many life changing experiences including finding my purpose. In 2008 I did something volunteer related every single week and so did my significant other even though our interests are completely different.

·      I do not have a sense of smell (never had one) and people always think that is the strangest thing ever. I am still trying to figure out what other sense improved since I am without that one ;- )

6. Favorite quote

“The Earth’s most precious natural resource is truly a rare find. As it changes by the second it is that of our time.”

I made up that quote because the time I spend with others and myself is extremely valued.

7. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part about being a writer is your exact words can be shared over and over again and every person who reads them will experience and feel something different. It is also the best all natural therapy that no money can buy.

The worst part of being a writer is the more you write the more ideas you come up with. So then you start to feel frustrated that there will never be enough time to say everything that you really want to say.

 8. Advice for other writers

Think Elvis! Copyright and publish your work even if you don’t plan on marketing it. Print on demand and self-publishing have simplified the publishing process and removed the barriers to entry. You don’t need to expend all your resources and time trying to get a huge advance and earn millions of dollars from book sales. However, you do need to get credit for your intellectual property and your original creations. If you can make enough money to supplement your income then that’s an added bonus. You never know how in the future, perhaps long after you are gone that something you create will come into play and earn licensing fees or royalties for your children, grandchildren or a charitable cause you feel strongly about. is a very inexpensive and relatively easy way to get your work published and out there.

9. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

In 2005 completely by a very random set of circumstance I started volunteering with teen entrepreneurs. Three years later while still working with them, a book idea popped in my head. The book idea was on a holistic theme in entrepreneurship that I thought was badly needed but missing in the industry. So I sat down and wrote the entire book in 12 days (36,000 words, 143 pages and no writers block).

Where can people buy your books?

My books are available on

Teen Entrepreneur Success Secrets: The Essential Guide to Starting and Growing a Business

Double Click on This, Preschoolers and Computers: How to Go Beyond Sit and Giggle

My blog is

Twitter: @teenbizcoach


Interview with Bram Stoker winner – Steve Burt, “The Sinister Minister” (YA horror)


Yep, this is my dad. And I’ve decided to keep his post up for one week because I’m teaching at the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference next week and won’t have time to post a new author every day. I’ll still try to post some new contests during the week, so check back or follow me on so you’ll know when the contests go up.

Author interview with “The Sinister Minister”thesinisterministersteve

 Rev. Dr. Steve Burt, a.k.a. The Sinister Minister, has won the Bram Stoker, Ray Bradbury, and Benjamin Franklin Awards. In addition to horror and mystery/suspense, he writes church leadership books, inspirational books, devotional material, and has published hundreds of pieces in such venues as Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Digest, Yankee, Family Circle, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He’s the father of writing authority Wendy Burt-Thomas (Writer’s Digest Guide to Writing Query Letters) and grandfather to Ben and Gracie. In February 2009 he was profiled in Connecticut Magazine (“The Sinister Minister”). His book Even Odder was a runner-up to Harry Potter for the 2003 Bram Stoker Award, and his Oddest Yet won it in 2004 (Young Reader category), the first self-published book to do so.




1.  The major TV stations and Connecticut Magazine recently profiled you as “The Sinister Minister” for being the clergyman who won the world’s top horror award, the Bram Stoker. That’s a joke, isn’t it?

No, it’s the ironic truth. After 30 high-profile years in my primary vocation as a pastor, national lecturer, and writer of church leadership books, articles, and inspirational pieces (like for Chicken Soup for the Soul), the spotlight was suddenly shined on my low-profile avocation as a closet writer of horror and dark fiction when Oddest Yet won the Bram Stoker Award. Funny thing is I was nearly outed the year before when Even Odder was runner-up to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter in the young readers category. So now people come up to me when I’m autographing books at arts & crafts shows and exclaim, “I know you. You’re The Sinister Minister.” The accidental branding was serendipitous for me.


2.  Your output is impressive–a thousand shorter pieces in print, over a dozen books, not to mention cranking out a sermon the length of a mid-length short story or article each week—all while working as a pastor and national lecturer on small church issues. And you say you manage to read a book or two a week. When do you ever find time to write?oddlotlb

When do doctors and lawyers find time to play golf? How do other people carve out time for bowling leagues? We find time for what we’re passionate about. I’m passionate about writing. I only watch three TV shows a week—LOST, Desperate Housewives, and Two and a Half Men (oh, and the UConn women’s basketball team), while most people spend hours either watching TV or simply channel checking. I don’t channel check, and that alone must save me twenty hours a week. If I can get three hours a day in for five or six days or nights a week–at only 3-6 manuscript pages per sitting—that’s a minimum of 15 pages a week, and a maximum of 36. Do the math. Pages pile up.


3.  How did you get started as a writer? What were your influences? evenodderlb

My fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Youngs kept me after school for being a chatterbox; and instead of making me clean the erasers or write “I will not talk in class” until my hand fell off, she had me write stories, and then she’d critique them. I also read voraciously—comics, weird magazines, mysteries, whatever I could get my hands on from the school and public libraries: The Mushroom Planet, William O. Steele’s frontier adventures like Buffalo Knife with their young protagonists, stories of the Norse, Roman, and Greek gods, Sir Walter Scott Ivanhoe, Daniel DeFoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Stephen Crane, everything in the Weekly Reader and Scholastic books-to-buy programs (my classmates and I traded). Before I hit my teens I had read The Odyssey, The Iliad, The Aeneid, Poe, O Henry, Twain, DeMaupassant, Saki, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley. The last thirty years I’ve really enjoyed work by old seminary neighbor Stephen King, Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series, James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books, Tony Hillerman, John Sandford, Sue Grafton, and Thomas Perry. That’s the tip of my reading iceberg. And I read a lot of theology, too.


4. Your stories sometimes fall under horror, but they’re not gory. How would you describe them?oddestyetlb

Horror Lite, some supernatural adventure, a few paranormal mysteries like my Devaney and Hoag stories. Right now I’m writing a young adult novel that falls under “realistic fantasy.” While my work appeals to young readers and adults alike, just as Harry Potter does, I lay off the gore, preferring Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock off-camera approaches. And I like character-driven stories rather than plot-driven ones, so mine have far less dependence on shock or special effects. Myself, I’m sorry horror literature took the turn toward splatterpunk and gore in the early seventies with movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street, because they de-emphasized good writing. That may be why I read a lot of what my Brit colleagues call “weird fiction,” the high quality stuff you get from Ash Tree Press and The Ghost Story Society.


5.  Have you always self-published? If not, what made you decide to do it? 

No, I wrote church leadership books for traditional publishers like Judson Press and Alban Institute. But making 3% to 6% on a $10-$13 book that has a first run of 2,000-3,000 books isn’t very rewarding monetarily. They changed my titles, insisted on covers I didn’t like, and—in one case—had a 3 year delay before the book came out. And I had to do all the p.r. myself anyway. I’d rather run 2000 of my own books (from final manuscript to published product in 3 months) for $2-$5 cost apiece, and sell them at fairs and public readings for $15 a book. Other than I don’t even bother with bookstores or distributors. When I did have a distributor, I sold fewer than 1% of my books through bookstores, and the store and distributor made all the money. I mean, by producing books myself, meeting my audience face-to-face (young readers), and selling direct to my market (teens, parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians), how many copies do I have to sell per year to beat the money offered by those “real” publishers? I owe this realistic approach to self-publishing guru Dan Poynter, author of The Self Publishing Manual, whose weekend course I took.wickedoddlb


6. Any advice for those considering the self-publishing route?

         Yes. If you can’t devise a concrete, workable, realistic plan for getting your book in front of (#1) your audience, which in my case is mostly teens, and (#2) your market/buyers, which in my case is parents, grandparents, and teachers–don’t write it. Or at least, don’t pay the money to self-publish it. Once you’ve given the first 10-50 copies of your press run to family and friends, who will purchase those books (cases of them!) stored in the attic? And don’t think you’ll get them sold through bookstores or online, because you still have to do the PR and marketing to drive customers there to ask for them (if you can even get those bookstores to stock them).


7. Do you have to deal with writer’s block?coverlb

Hah! Every week I first have to deal with sermon-writer’s block. So I just sit down and start. My congregation wouldn’t like it if I stood up on Sunday morning and said, “Sorry, no word from God this week.” That pressure, and the discipline I’ve developed by producing an 8-10 page, double-spaced manuscript each week, has helped me write fiction. I usually just sit down and apply myself. (And I have a large sign above my monitor that says “Writers write. I am a writer.”

A side story about writing process. After Odd Lot won a Ben Franklin silver medal for Best Mystery/Suspense Book in 2001, I felt the pressure to beat that with my next collection. So I wrote and rewrote the first lines, first paragraphs, and first pages of the opening story for Even Odder. Damn! Writer’s block! Dead end! A month of it! Finally my writing-authority/editor/daughter Wendy Burt-Thomas (Writer’s Digest Guide to Writing Query Letters) advised me to free myself up by shifting from the write/edit side of the brain to the storytelling side. I got a mini-cassette tape recorder with headset mouthpiece and from scratch orally created a story every day while on an hour’s walk with my dog. At the end of 43 days I had 43 stories, some very bad. But I transcribed the best 15 to MS Word, edited on-screen, and published Even Odder (not a great book, but runner-up to J.K. Rowling for the Stoker). I didn’t write the book, I told it. We may not all be good at writing stories, but everyone tells them.


8. Do you have any funny stories? unkslb

Yes. Oddest Yet, won the 2004 Bram Stoker by outpolling Dean Koontz and Jeff Marriotte, and tying Clive Barker’s Abarat (a terrific book). After getting drubbed in New York by Rowling the year before, I figured an unknown minister with an unknown self-published story collection had no chance against the biggies, so I opted to skip the black-tie ceremony in Burbank, California. But my L.A. agent, always looking for photo ops with the biggies, attended, and at 2 a.m. my time phoned. “Guess what?” she teased. “You won the Stoker.” I was still pretty much asleep and had to preach the next morning, so I muttered “Shit” and went back to bed. The Stoker arrived via UPS that week (a haunted mansion modeled after Poe’s House of Usher), and I placed on the altar above my fireplace. After two weeks of kissing it goodnight at bedtime, I eventually noticed the little door in its front and opened it. It had Clive Barker’s name inscribed there for Abarat! He’d walked off the Burbank Hilton stage with my Stoker! After a mediated hostage exchange, Clive graciously and apologetically surrendered my trophy and I returned his. (Apparently he hadn’t thought to open his little door, either). Afterwards, when I told my author/daughter/capitalist Wendy, she emailed, “Are you nuts, Dad? Clive’s is worth a lot more than yours on eBay.” Kids are here to keep us humble, right?

Dad with the Bram Stoker Award

Dad with the Bram Stoker Award

9. What advice do you have for new writers?

Read, read, read—for enjoyment and to learn. Write, write, write anything you can–sermons, newsletter articles, jokes, anecdotes, devotional material, poems, cartoon captions, recipes, anything—but especially stories short and long. Write what you like. Submit stuff. Publish even if sometimes there’s no money but only a contributor’s copy. My first horror stories went for no-pay and low-pay, but I gave away only one-time rights, then later collected them into Odd Lot (almost all reprints from those low-pay and no-pay small magazines and zines); it then went on to win awards and made me some money. That’s contrary to what you hear from most writing-advice columnists who are selling nonfiction and advise you not to ever let it go unless you get paid for it. Learn from writing-related magazines and books. Learn from rejections (I had a thousand before an acceptance), then submit again and again. Publish your own stuff if you have to, but make sure you know your audience (for me it’s teens), your market (for me it’s their parents and grandparents and teachers), and how you can get it to the buyers. As my old neighbor Stephen King said: writers write, wannabes wannabe.


10. What books do you recommend fiction writers read?

Everything in their favorite fields or genres, then beyond that. I gobbled up hundreds of romances for awhile to see if I wanted to write them (which I didn’t). But even though I chose not to write them, I learned a lot about character development, plotting, and how to begin and end a chapter. Oh, and there are two absolutely essential primers every fiction writer should read: Gary Provost’s Make Your Words Work and Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Most of us try to write instinctively, but Swain shows us things like Motivation/Reaction Units, so we see how and why our best writing works, so we can learn to do it again and again.

 Where can people buy your books?

At public readings, school visits, writers’ conferences, arts & crafts shows around New England. Use your Visa or Mastercard on my in-home answering machine (860 885-1865) or hit the website I only sell autographed copies, and it’s only through me that you can get the 4-pack special deal of $10 off for the series. Request a brochure (29 Arnold Place, Norwich, CT 06360. As a last resort, get an autographed copy from

10 QUESTIONS FOR…self-help/inspirational author Karen Sherman, Ph.D.


Author interview with Karen Sherman, Ph.D.maocmy_pic_for_logo

  Most of my time is spent as a practicing Psychologist and also teaching.  But I love to do lots of things rather than the same routine.  After lots of different experiences, I felt the need to share them with others and felt the best way to do it was through a book.  Initially, I co-authored “Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make It Last” to help couples rejuvenate their stale relationships.  I tend to write about what I have experienced.  I also write for various websites regarding relationships, which is one of my specialties.

1. Tell us about your latest book. 

My latest book, “Mindfulness and The Art of Choice: Transform Your Life” is a self-help book that enables the reader to get past their past.  It’s the result of a personal journey that was quite devastating from which I recovered with a lot of lessons on how to live a life of choice, a life of joy rather than being a prisoner to your past.  After going through such an experience, I felt compelled to share with others what I had learned so that they, too, could live a better life.

2. How did you get started as a writer? 

As I said, after going through my own experiences I guess I was a bit egotistical in thinking others could benefit from what I had learned!

3. What does a typical day look like for you? 

Each day varies – which I love.  But generally, it’s a mix between seeing clients, teaching, writing, and Fridays is left for watching my grandson.  That’s really the best day of the week.

4. Describe your desk/workspace. 

Organized clutter.  I can find anything as long as I don’t get frustrated going through the piles.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers). 

Just about anything Deepak Chopra has written and I have fun with James Patterson’s Alex Cross series when on vacation.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you. 

       As a psychologist, I’m a bit unusual in that I’m willing to share personal information if I think it will benefit the client.

      My next book is about in-laws.  Yep – you got it, another experience I’m going through that I think might help others.

       I couldn’t care less if alcohol was never on the face of this planet again; but bagels and ice cream – not that’s a whole different thing!

7. Favorite quote:  “I took the road less traveled and that has made all of the difference.” (Robert Frost)

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

     Best – People hold you in high regard.

     Worst – Marketing the book so you can get your message out.

9. Advice for other writers: 

It’s true what is said – writing the book is the easy part; getting it published and marketing it is the real work.  You need to be persistent and believe in what you have to offer.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

After self-publishing my first book, I decided to go the more traditional route for the second one.  It was a challenge finding an agent to represent me (also part of the process).  I still remember the day he signed me on – I felt so validated – someone believed in my work!  A year and a half later, though there had been a couple of bites, none of the larger houses wanted to take me on.  Supposedly, my title wasn’t sexy enough.  My agent and I parted ways – certainly not the same exhilarating feeling as the initial one.

A small independent house, however, showed an interest in publishing my book.  I was apprehensive in signing on with them.  But I had heard all sorts of stories about how I would still be required to do a large portion of the market with a large publishing house and that if the book didn’t take off in 90 days, it would be problematic. 

So I took the risk and signed.  I have such a nice relationship with the company and get such personal attention and backing.  I’ve never regretted it!

 Where can people buy your book?

My book can be purchased through any online bookstore (,, Barnes& or through either of my sites: or


10 QUESTIONS FOR…Jessica Tilles, award-winning author of African American “Romantica”


Author interview withloving-simone_2-10-2009-copydsc_0015-flipped

Jessica Tilles, award-winning author of African American “Romantica” (romance + erotica)

A native of Washington, DC, JESSICA TILLES is the best-selling, award-winning author of Anything Goes, In My Sisters’ Corner, Apple Tree, Sweet Revenge, Fatal Desire, Unfinished Business and the anthology Erogenous Zone: A Sexual Voyage. As publisher of Xpress Yourself Publishing (, she is the 2008 African American Literary Awards Show recipient of Independent Publisher of the Year award. She is also the founder of The Writer’s Assistant ( and Erotic Expressions ( Currently working on her next literary endeavor, she resides in Upper Marlboro, Maryland with her family.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

My newest novel is Loving Simone will be released March 13, 2009. The novel is a mixture of romance and erotica. I believe it’s a new genre that’s now called Romantica. From the outside, Simone (the main character) has the perfect life and family. However, the inside tells of a different story. After ten years of being the faithful, dutiful wife and mother, Simone desperately struggles with releasing the hidden desires of pleasure she cannot seem to get from her husband, causing her to turn to self-fulfillment and outside influences. Jackson, her hubby, is too busy focusing on the women who work for him, self-indulgence, and sticking his pole in every hole, rather than his wife. Darius is every woman’s dream and has had a crush on Simone since he was a teen. When their paths cross, all of Simone’s inhibitions are released and finally someone, other than Jackson, is Loving Simone.

This novel is definitely my best work and I’m looking forward to receiving the responses of my readership!

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I’d always been an avid reader, which is something I truly miss now. There never seems to be any time to relax and read someone’s work other than my own. After reading Homecourt Advantage by Rita Ewing and Crystal McCray Anthony, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel. At that time, I had no idea how easy it would be. I harbored a talent I knew nothing about until I sat behind my computer and typed the first chapter to Anything Goes. What a fantastic feeling it was to create a time, place and cast of characters based solely on my imagination.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day for me is working on my publishing business and creating book cover and web site designs, as well as typesetting for my clients. I pretty much stay in my pajamas all day, unless I need to run errands to the post office or the bank, maybe the grocery store. I lead a boring life, and I love every minute of it! Usually around 11 p.m. is when I will focus on writing.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

Unorganized. However, surprisingly, I know where everything is!

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

There are several references I refer to on a regular basis, but the top five books I use are:

1.  The Flip Dictionary by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ph.D.

2.  The Chicago Manual of Style (15th Edition)

3.  Random House Writer’s Reference

4.  The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1.  I love Doritos and Pepsi on a Saturday night, with a good movie.

2. I’m afraid of speaking in front of a large group.

3.  After 42 years, I still suck my thumb when I can’t get to sleep.

7. Favorite quote

“Never allow anyone to become your priority while you become their option.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

I’ve yet to experience anything too bad about being a writer. As with anything else, I take the negativity with a grain of salt and keep it moving. The best part of being a writer is being able to touch people with my novels. It’s a good feeling when a reader sends me an emailing telling me how much they were moved by my words.

9. Advice for other writers

Research the business of publishing. Continue to hone your writing skills. Learn from the mistakes of others.

Where can people buy your books?

All of my titles are available at,,, and other online retailers, as well as in bookstores everywhere. To learn more about my novels, and me, you may visit To learn more about Xpress Yourself Publishing and its authors, please visit Also visit to view samples of work I’ve done for other authors.

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Ron Kauffman, Alzheimer’s expert


Author #17: ron-kauffman121007book-cover-72-dpi-art

Ron Kauffman, author of Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

Ron Kauffman is a 40-year veteran of business. He attended Long Island University, C.W. Post College, and St. John’s University Graduate School of Business. For 4-years, he hosted and produced Senior LifeStyles Intelligent Live Talk Radio, a program that addressed health, wealth and lifestyle issues facing boomers and seniors.  He is a syndicated columnist for a newspaper in North Carolina, and author of the recently released book, Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease, published by Senior LifeStyles Press, and a contributor of articles about caregiving and aging issues to several print and online magazines.


Ron is the president of Resources for Successful Aging, a company that provides individual and family consulting assistance in planning for and dealing with the broad range of challenges of aging including: situational assessment, Medicare & Medicaid planning, elder law, advance directives, financial longevity, long term care planning and care management needs.

Ron’s accomplishments include: 2004, earned his designation as a Certified Senior Advisor; 2005 was selected to attend the White House Conference on Aging; 2006, the 8-State Southeastern Associations of Area Agencies on Aging presented him with their Positive Images Of Aging Award for his contributions to the aging population; 2007 Ron was selected as a Fellow by the National Press Foundation for his work in broadcast journalism, and attended the Washington, DC conference on “Retirement in the 21st Century.”

He and his wife, Lisa, who is in private practice as a Geriatric Care Manager, live in Jupiter, Florida.

1.    Tell us about your latest book.

Caring For A Loved One With Alzheimer’s Disease provides a wealth of information for caregivers and professionals alike.  Too often families postpone learning about this disease and lose valuable time preserving quality of life and dignity.  My experience as a caregiver allows the reader to understand the complexities and pitfalls of Alzheimer’s, and answers many questions most people will eventually have.  It is a must read for anyone wanting to be a better caregiver. 

2.    How did you get started as a writer?

I have been writing most of my adult life.  I began writing business articles when I was working in the corporate world, and ultimately wrote a book about sales force automation that was published in 1989.

When I got into the live talk radio world, my focus was exclusively on issues facing boomer and seniors, and I decided to find a way to provide much of the information my expert guests were expressing during the more than 500 live shows we did during the 4-years of the live program called Boomer & Senior LifeStyles.

My break came when I met the owner/publisher of a small newspaper in western North Carolina.  I “pitched” him on my idea for a column called “Senior LifeStyles” and have been writing that column for his paper for more than 2 years.

With the publication of my book, I contacted a number of magazines that focus on the family and caregiving.  Two of those publications accepted a proposal from me, and I am now writing a monthly column for Gilbert Guide that has a very large online subscription base, and will also begin writing for the quarterly publication, “Families of Loved Ones” (FOLO) next quarter.

 3.    What does a typical day look like for you?

I begin every day of the week at 6:15 AM leaving the house by about 6:45 AM and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays meet up with my friends for a 40-70 mile bicycle ride usually along the ocean from Jupiter through Jupiter Island to a small town called Hobe Sound.  On Mondays & Fridays I start off at 7 AM in the gym working with weights and take Wednesdays off to rest my weary body.

After breakfast, I park myself in front of the computer and check all of the feeds that I get from a myriad of sources dealing with health, wellness, caregiving and aging issues – sometimes hundreds of articles plus political input that may impact our healthcare system.  I review my deadline calendar, and if I have less than 1-month before deadline, I research and write my article and have it ready for edit and review weeks before deadline.

I also write and produce a weekly audio Podcast that can be heard from my website, and have a library of 40-Podcasts available on iTunes.  The topics all have to do with health, wealth and lifestyle issues facing boomers & seniors.

I spend at least 4 to 8 hours a day doing research, writing or audio production from my home-based office.

4.    Describe your desk/workspace.

I love my home-based office.  It was supposed to be a large bedroom, but with no kids at home, my wife suggested I convert it to my office.  I has plenty of daylight streaming in from the east, and allows me to look up and see the palm trees and gorgeous blue skies of southern Florida.

My large curved chrome and glass-top desk surrounds me on 3-sides and for 30-plus hours a week is my little world.  And I do my best to keep my world orderly and clear.  On my desk I have a computer monitor, both an inkjet and color laser printer, a small adding machine, my telephone, my desk organizers for mail, pens and markers, a blotter with a paper clip holder, a stapler and scotch tape dispenser – that’s it.  There are two small audio speakers that deliver music from Pandora all day as I work, plus my desk-based microphone that I use for Podcast recording – but those are behind the monitor to conserve space.  The actual computer is stored beneath the desk. There are 2-small bookcases next to me, and 3-file cabinets that fit nicely under the desk.  Everything I need, from my wastebasket to a commercial shredder are within a few feet of my desk and I simply push my wheeled office chair to any item I need to reach.

There is a matching chrome and glass étagère in one corner with photos of my grandchildren and some personal items on its shelves, and against the wall across from my desk is a parson’s table with more photos of my kids and grandchildren as well as some of my favorite small western bronzes.

The wall behind the parson’s table is decorated with some of the awards I’ve received for my work in broadcasting, journalism, and community service.

5.    Favorite books (especially for writers)

My favorite books are just that – well written stories, both fiction and nonfiction that I read for escape and enjoyment.  I would love to be able to say that I’ve been influenced by some of my favorite writers, but that would be untrue.  Having said that, some of my favorite books include:  anything by David Balducci or Vince Flynn in the nonfiction world, and David McCullough’s work in John Adams and Paul C. Nagel author of John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life, both wonderfully well written biographies.

My inspiration for my book came from my years of caring for my mother, and from reading many books related to caregiving and Alzheimer’s disease by some wonderful authors.  I realized as I read their work that those books were heavy, in-depth reading with a great deal of information.

However, for a family member just learning that s/he is about to become an Alzheimer’s caregiver for mom or dad, there was nothing on the market that could be called a basic primer.  New caregivers need to read about the disease and road that both the patient and caregiver could look forward to traveling, albeit reluctantly.  Since I could find no book that did that, I wrote it.

6.    Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

a.    I am a cancer-survivor and at age 60 competed in the Florida State Senior Games and qualified to compete.

b.    I am an avid bicyclist.  I ride 4-days/week totaling about 8000 miles/year.

c.     I have 5 grandchildren, which in itself isn’t interesting or crazy, but the fact that 4 of them, all girls, live with my son and his wife in Johannesburg, South Africa is unusual.  No we don’t see the kids on weekends!

7.    Favorite quote

Actually, I have two favorite quotes:

 “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, ‘Holy shit…what a ride!’” Anonymous

“Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.”

A. Sachs


8.    Best and worst part of being a writer

BEST: I love being creative and doing something that only a relatively few people really do or do it well. The best part is knowing that what I write, while it may entertain, can make a difference in lives, particularly my articles on health, aging and caregiving.

WORST:  Writing is a difficult way to make a full time living or a meaningful income, and there are days when for whatever reason, the muse that usually visits me to provide inspiration and ideas, for no apparent reason takes the day off.  This can be particularly troubling if I’m facing a deadline that day.

9.    Advice for other writers

While it’s a difficult and challenging vocation or avocation, if it’s what you love, stick with it.  Aim high, set lofty goals, but be realistic about your expectations.  There are hundreds of thousands of books written and published each year, and with the Internet and self-publishing, it’s very difficult to be found and recognized in a sea of both real and aspiring writers.  Consider writing for magazines that offer payment for articles and stories, and look for those that publish themes that are in line with topics you’re passionate about, and want to write about throughout the year.


10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

Persevere!  I found that most of my acquaintance and even my friends were not taking on the role of cheerleaders for my writing efforts.  While they thought what I was doing was “interesting,” none volunteered to read rough drafts.  As I wrote the book (more on that in a moment) I realized that my friends who, like me, are in their 60’s and older are focused on their own issues ranging from financial challenges to health problems.  Therefore, my book became much more of a personal issue, relevant primarily to me.  And by the way, that was not only okay but was a good test of commitment to writing the book.

Previously I mentioned my muse, and I’m almost embarrassed to say that on the day I began writing the book, based on a list of chapter headings I had developed a few days earlier, my muse was kind enough to not only visit, but spend the entire day, almost 8-hours guiding my mind and my fingers as I put words to computer.  At the end of that day, I realized that I had completed almost 10,000 words on “paper,” and the first draft of the book was actually completed.

Within the next few weeks I completed the tasks of getting my ISBN number, ordered a Bar Code that had to be printed on the back cover, solicited a number of personal contacts, both professionals and physicians to read my book and requested their comments for the back cover.  I did my due diligence regarding finding a layout artist to design the book cover and complete the actual PDF-ready layout of the book.  I then I found a printing company that was willing to work with me at a very competitive price.  The entire process from concept through writing, to editing, printing and final release took about 2-months from the day I decided to write that book.

The moral of my story is that if writing your book is important to you – just do it. Disregard the critics, nay Sayers, and even the lack of moral support from your family or friends.  Hope that your muse or inspiration visits often, and if you can’t find or don’t want to work with a publisher – and there are good reasons both pro and con for doing either – don’t be dismayed.

My book will never be a NY Times bestseller, and I wasn’t hoping to achieve that as a goal.  I am hopeful that people who are or will become caregivers – and that covers a large number of baby boomers and seniors – may discover my book and find it helpful as they begin their personal journeys over many of the roads that I have traveled, one of which lead me to write my book.  I wish you good luck with your book.


Where can people buy your book?

My book, “Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease” is available at, on eBay and directly from our Florida office.  References and links to my book can also be found in the publications, both print and electronic where my monthly articles appear including:,, and beginning in May 2009




10 QUESTIONS FOR…David Hooper, radio host & “alternative” financial author


Author #15:david-bookdavid-hooper-head1

David Hooper, radio host, marketing guru and author 

David Hooper is a marketing expert and talk radio host based in Nashville, TN.  He is the author is several books, the latest of which is “10-Day Money Makeover – Simple Steps to Create More Money and Financial Prosperity Using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).”

1. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is called “10-Day Money Makeover – Simple Steps to Create More Money and Financial Prosperity Using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).”  I was inspired to write this book after working with some very successful people and noticing how they approached earning money. 

Working primarily in the music industry, I’ve seen a lot of “starving artist” types.  The difference between them and the people who are making a lot of money (or otherwise having success) is always much bigger than just the music they create.  Seeing that again and again took me down a path of writing about “wealth mindset” and this book is the fifth one I’ve done  on the subject.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I started my company in 1995 and the writing I did at that time was primarily “business communication” such as press releases, promotions, advertising, and sales copy. 

Nashville has a huge publishing industry, mostly Bibles and religious material.  My uncle is a graphic designer and was doing a lot of art for books.  He invested in a short-run printing company can told me, “You should think about doing a book.”  So I did.  That was 2000 and the book was marketing advice for musicians.  It did well, so I kept at it.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

There isn’t a typical day, but there are activities that I do on a consistent basis.  One of them is promotion and marketing.  Without those, you could have the best book in the world and it would never be read, because nobody would know about it.

I have a number of business ventures other than books, including hosting a weekly syndicated radio show.  To get everything done, you have to be organized, so I spend a lot of time doing that.  Not all my time, but more than most people.  Without a plan, there is no telling where you’ll end up.  So we plan out everything and have a “system” for tasks which happen with every project.

For example, each book we release needs certain things—editing, layout, cover design, etc.  I have a staff in place to help me with these things.  Same for the radio show—booking guests, production, editing, etc.  It would be impossible for me to do it all within the limited time we have.

Outsourcing tasks as well as great planning enable me to have plenty of free time, which I feel is an essential part of the business.  What I do requires creativity, so I do what I can to make sure I’m able to be creative when needed.  That means taking plenty of “downtime” for myself., often during the middle of the day. For example, I spent two hours at the gym today, between work projects.  Things like this help me to keep from getting burnt out.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I have two rooms in my home that are 100% dedicated to work.  One is a typical office room with a big desk, computer, phone, etc.  The other is a “planning room” with no electronics..  This is where I go to read information on new marketing strategies, plan my schedule, develop new products, and learn about how to create a better business.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

“1001 Ways to Market Your Books” by John Kremer

“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

I also suggest looking at any junk mail (email or postal) to get a feel for what gets people to take action.  This will help you to write in a way that gets people to take action.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

My first recording session was when I was in elementary school. I sang on an album for kids.

I put out a comedy album in 1998.  I got a job as a phone psychic for Miss Cleo and pranked people who called me, pulling jokes and getting them to chant pop songs with me.  Strangely enough, that was my introduction to all the  “new age” stuff that I write serious books about now.

I subscribe to Cosmo, Glamour, Esquire, and Maxim because they help me write to average people.

7. Favorite quote

“Talk doesn’t cook rice.”  – Chinese Proverb

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The coolest part is having a voice.

Not sure there is a “worst” part.  A lot of people I’ve talked to say marketing, but I’m a marketing guy, so I love that!

9. Advice for other writers

Get out and connect with people.  Ask questions and find out about how they live.  The more you know about people, the better you’ll write to them.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

I think this is the first time I’ve ever had writer’s block. 

Where can people buy your books?

You can get any of my books at Amazon. is my blog and has recordings of my radio show.

10 QUESTIONS FOR…southern humor author Shellie Rushing Tomlinson


Author #14:suck_your_stomach_in_coverbw2

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, host of ‘All Things Southern’ and author of

 Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On, What Southern Mamas Tell Their Daughters That the Rest of Y’all Should Know Too


( Berkley, division of Penguin Group USA)




1. Tell us about your latest book.

 My latest book is Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On, What Southern Mamas Tell Their Daughters That the Rest of Y’all Should Know Too. It was released by Penguin Group this past May.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

 That’s an interesting question. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. As a kid you could always find me in the Mimosa tree in my front yard writing the next great American novel. Of course, if the question is how did I get someone to pay attention to my words, well, we might need more space here. The short version: After writing forever, scratching out words on the back of grocery lists, on the game plans of the girls’ basketball teams I coached, and in the margins of the

estimates I was working on for the clients of my interior decorating business, I decided to try and publish a small book called “Lessons Learned on Bull Run Road.” It didn’t take me long to get way tired of rejection slips. My solution was to go my own way. I knew I’d have to create my own “platform” if I had things to say, (kind of the build it and they will come idea.) I created All Things Southern on the web and got on with it. A couple years ago I was preparing to self-publish yet another book, (my fourth), when I was encouraged to try the tractional route again. Although it had remained a goal, I still didn’t think the timing was right. Still, to show my encouragers how much I appreciated them, I tried again. My contract with Penguin was the sweet outcome of that last effort.

 3. What does a typical day look like for you?

 My day begins with God’s word. It’s what makes the rest of my life work. The rest of the day is full of deadlines and they all demand fresh, new words. I’m either knocking out content for my daily radio segments, prepping for All Things Southern LIVE, my one-hour radio talk show, filming a video segment for KNOE TV8,  writing a speech for an upcoming speaking engagement, etc. In and around all of that, you’ll find me trying to snag time to work on my next book.


4. Describe your desk/workspace.

 I am so blessed. My desk is on the lake side of my house.  Five large picture windows frame Lake Providence, here in the northeast corner of Louisiana. I get to watch the egrets stalking the lake bank for minnows, birds diving down for surprise attacks on unsuspecting fish, and oh yeah– I get to try and ignore the spoiled rotten, moping chocolate lab named Dixie Belle outside the window, the one who is always begging me to come outside for a game of tennis.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Eudora Welty’s “One Writer’s Beginnings” is hands down my favorite.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

• Every time I get to my car I seem to be surprised that I’m actually going to need the keys AGAIN.  One would think I’d put ’em in the same place in my purse every time but that would be too easy, now wouldn’t it?

 • I’m forever stumping my toes, again, as if it’s a surprise to find them there.

 • I can remember the size of someone’s double windows from ten years ago but I can’t remember to stop and buy milk.

7. Favorite quote

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.


8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best part, working with words, sticking with it until you can express what’s just out of reach.

Worst part, deadlines. I’m a check it off person,  who now lives with a variety of deadlines.  I’m never caught up. I’ve had to learn to live in that.  Easier said than done.

9. Advice for other writers

Don’t get it right, get it written.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

I was nine when I wrote my first book, MARTHA AND HER HORSE. It had interesting chapter titles like “Trouble in the

Pasture”. It wasn’t WAR AND PEACE, but I had a story in me and I needed to tell it. My mother proudly read excerpts of this literary wonder to anyone she could lasso into listening. I’m in my forties now with grown kids of my own but I still love words and my reason for writing hasn’t changed; I need to tell stories. Unfortunately, without Mama’s strong-arm tactics, finding my way in Publisher Land has been challenging. Like Dorothy’s Oz and Alice’s wonderland, the publishing world is an elusive and distant land with its own time system, language and laws. Through careful observation, I’ve been able to ascertain much about this alien culture. I’d be happy to share these secrets with your readers…


The inhabitants of Publisher Land are a hardworking group of people with a special affinity for riddles–as evidenced by their common mantra: Show me your clips. “Clips” are paper trophies, copies of your past glories, proof that you’ve been published before. You need these clips; you must have them in order to get clips. (No, you can’t buy clips.)

Sound impossible? Welcome to Publisher Land. The law of the land is simple. If you’ve been published, you can get published. If you haven’t been published you need to get published, so you can be published. Your chances of getting published are much better if you have an agent. Oh yeah, that reminds me, most agents like to represent people that have already been published.

 I’ve determined there are only six people running Publisher Land.

Writer’s Market 2001 lists at least one-gazillion editors (a gazillion is a little more than a million). But I think most of them are the same person because their letters are suspiciously similar. They all speak publisher-ease, a second language I’ve been somewhat successful in learning. For example: their letters might say “we regret to inform you that after carefully reviewing your manuscript we feel it’s not right for our present needs”. This should be read as “you haven’t been published before and pigs will fly before we take the first chance.”

Just as their words have different meanings, the laws of time in Publisher Land differ, too. Often a letter from a publishing house will say they hope to have a firm reply concerning your manuscript in twelve to fourteen weeks. You might think this is a month or two. The people in Publisher Land will be laughing at you. They know it means sometime this calendar year–if you’re lucky.  I say, let ’em laugh, but get in the game! I’ve recently had a few small victories, nothing grand, no six-figure advances or anything, just enough success to throw gas on my word fire. But that’s okay. I still have an ace in the hole; a back-up plan I don’t think Publisher Land is ready for–Mama the Literary Agent.

It’s worked before.


 Where can people buy your books?

You can find more about me than you need to know at my


You can buy my books there, subscribe to my weekly emag, watch my video segments, check out my blog, etc. Warning, I will try to hold you captive.