Tag Archives: interview

Book Authors Wanted for Interviews

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Cathy Stucker of SellingBooks.com is seeking authors of fiction and nonfiction books (self-published and ebooks ok) for daily interviews

Send an mail to interview@sellingbooks.com to get an autoresponder that will send you a questionnaire and details.

Previous interviews here: http://www.sellingbooks.com/category/author-interviews

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Frances Cole Jones, author of “The Wow Factor”

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Author interview with Frances Cole Jones9780345517944
Frances_Cole_Jones_Author_photo

1. Tell us about your latest book:

The subtitle of The Wow Factor is “The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World.” The idea is that in this economic climate people need immediate, practical solutions for finding a job, positioning themselves for promotion, keeping their customers’ trust– generally maintaining their edge no matter what their situation. With this in mind The Wow Factor offers11 habits I’ve found my clients must have, 11 things I’ve realized they’ve must know, and 11 things I’ve discovered they can do today to be more effective tomorrow. My hope is that the readers of The Wow Factor will gain the tools they need to do the same.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

By being a lifelong reader— someone who can put words together effectively has always made me swoon. After that I was lucky enough to work with teachers and mentors who pushed me beyond– so far beyond—where I was comfortable. 

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

I get up about 5 a.m. and write until about 9 a.m. After that, I practice Ashtanga yoga; then I work with clients in the afternoon. In between, I’m usually walking my dog.

4. Describe your workspace

My workspace is anywhere I can open my computer—I’m not picky. I write at my desk, on my bed, on the sofa, on buses, trains, airplanes….

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger, Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.

6. Tell us three interesting/crazy things about you

  1. I’ve been practicing Ashtanga yoga for twelve years. Ashtanga asks you to be on the mat six days a week: you’re tired, you practice; you’re busy, you practice; you’re sad; you practice, etc. Incorporating this discipline into writing has been incredibly helpful.
  2. Thanks to Ashtanga, I can stand on my hands and put my feet on my head—before I started I couldn’t touch my toes.
  3. I consider brownies perfectly legitimate breakfast food.

7. Favorite quote

“Write toward vulnerability. Don’t worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent.”

                                                            Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part of being a writer is getting paid to write—how extraordinary is that? I’m grateful because it’s a privilege. I don’t know that there is a worst part—I would say the hardest part is that moment about 1/3 of the way into the writing process when I inevitably say to myself, “Well, this is just absolutely awful and I have no idea how I’m going to make it work.”

9. Advice for other writers

Find people who will give you honest—constructive—feedback. It’s not enough to say, “This is just great!” Or “This isn’t working.” You need someone who can say, “This is great and here’s how I think it can be better.” Or, “This isn’t working but I think this is how you can make it work.”

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

My writing experience was a long time coming — when my agent first told me she thought I had a book in me, I told her I thought she was delusional. What I discovered, thanks to her patience, is that—for me—finding the right tone was the hardest part. Putting words together wasn’t tricky—putting them together in such a way that others responded to them was. We went through seventeen drafts of the manuscript for my first book before she thought it was ready to go out into the world- this is why I so strongly recommend finding someone you trust to give you feedback.

The Wow Factor is available on Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/Wow-Factor-Things-Guarantee-Business/dp/034551789X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258350872&sr=8-1

10 QUESTIONS FOR… novelist Michelle Cameron

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Author interview with Michelle CameronFruit-of-Her-HandsMichelle Cameron Peter Vidor

Michelle Cameron is a historical novelist whose debut novel, THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS: THE STORY OF SHIRA OF ASHKENAZ was released by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster in September 2009.

Michelle is also a poet whose IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLOBE, a verse novel of Shakespeare’s life, was published by Lit Pot Press in 2003. Named as the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s 2003-4 Winter Book Selection, IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLOBE has been performed in a variety of venues, including the Stella Adler Studio of Acting’s Shakespeare Benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.

Michelle is Creative Director of Interactive Media Associates, a digital agency specializing in Internet planning, design, development and Web marketing. A creative producer, writer and editor with more than 20 years of professional experience, her clients include performing arts companies, non-profits, universities, and corporate companies. 

Born in New Jersey, Michelle moved to Israel at the age of 15. She completed her secondary and university education there, and served in the Israeli army. Michelle lives in Chatham, New Jersey, with her husband and two college-age sons.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

This is from the Pocket Book Spring 2009 catalog:

Based on the life of the author’s thirteenth-century ancestor, Meir ben Baruch of Rothenberg, a renowned Jewish scholar of medieval Europe, THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS: THE STORY OF SHIRA OF ASHKENAZ is the richly dramatic fictional story of Rabbi Meir’s wife, Shira, a devout but rebellious woman who preserves her religious traditions as she and her family witness the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Raised by her widowed rabbi father and a Christian nursemaid in Normandy, Shira is a free-spirited, inquisitive girl whose love of learning shocks the community. Her life changes radically when her father remarries in the hope of gaining a male heir and Nicholas Donin, a handsome scholar with radical views, comes to study with her father. Donin tries to capture Shira’s heart but her father will not allow her to marry such a firebrand. When Shira’s father is arrested by the local baron intent on enforcing the Catholic Church’s strictures against heresy, Shira fights for his release and encounters two men who will influence her life profoundly – an inspiring Catholic priest and Meir ben Baruch, a brilliant scholar. In Meir, Shira finds her soulmate.

Married to Meir and living in Paris, Shira blossoms as a wife and mother, savoring the intellectual and social challenges that come with being the wife of a prominent scholar. Yet once again her life is darkened by Nicholas Donin, now an apostate Jew who has converted to Catholicism and carries the fervor of the Inquisition. After witnessing Donin’s burning of every copy of the Talmud in Paris, Shira and her family seek refuge in Germany. Yet even there they experience bloody pogroms and intensifying anti-Semitism. With no safe place for Jews in Europe, they set out for Israel only to see Meir captured and imprisoned by Rudolph I of Hapsburg. As Shira weathers heartbreak and works to find a middle ground between two warring religions, she shows her children and grandchildren how to embrace the joys of life, both secular and religious.

Vividly bringing to life a period rarely covered in historical fiction, this multi-generational novel will appeal to readers who enjoy Maggie Anton’s RASHI’S DAUGHTERS Brenda Rickman Vantrease’s THE ILLUMINATOR and Geraldine Brooks’s PEOPLE OF THE BOOK.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. But I didn’t approach my writing seriously until after I took a hiatus from it, because I was a mother with two growing boys and a full-time job. Early after the birth of my first son, I had tried and failed to have a young adult novel published, and was feeling discouraged about ever writing professionally.    

I returned to writing when my youngest son was around six years old. He couldn’t stop himself from scribbling stories, poems, and cartoons, and watching his joy, I realized I had given up something that was precious to me. So I began to write ― poetry at first, because it was quick and, even with revisions, could be completed in a relatively short period of time.  I wrote in the dojo waiting room and the bleachers at the Little League game.

I began to attend readings, workshops, and seminars, where I would meet other writers. I was encouraged to start to submit my poetry and was published. I took the subject of my young adult novel ― Shakespeare and his compatriots at the Globe Theatre ― and started to write a poem cycle, which flowered into IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLOBE, a verse novel, which was published in 2003 by a small literary press.

When I began THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS, I started to write it, too, as a verse novel. But the book had a mind of its own and wanted to be a full-blown historical novel. When I finally listened to it, the writing just flowed.

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

When Simon & Schuster asked me to answer a series of questions for my “Author Revealed” page on their Web site, one of the hardest was to describe my life in eight words. I finally came up with the following: “4:30 AM writer, 9-5 day job, forever mom.”

My alarm goes off at 4:30 AM and I write for two hours before preparing to go to work. It’s my favorite time of the day, because there are no ringing phones and no one wants me to find something for them. It’s just me and the computer. 

I then prepare for work. The day job occupies me until around 5:30 PM. Home to dinner, family time, relaxation. Bed generally by 9 PM so I can do it all over again.

4. Describe your workspace.

I work in the study that adjoins my bedroom and overlooks our suburban street, with a huge apple tree in front. I’m surrounded on all sides by floor to ceiling bookshelves, in which just a portion of our family library fits (we have books in every room of the house).  I have a huge desk that my husband carefully constructed out of various pieces of Scandinavian modular furniture, which gives me room for the stacks of books on the topic I’m researching, my computer monitor, a printer. There’s even space for someone to face me on the other side of the desk.  It’s a cluttered and comfortable space.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

BIRD BY BIRD is probably the book I mention most when I talk about books ABOUT writing.  But I personally subscribe to the theory that you can get more out of reading good books ― both classic and contemporary ― than books about writers. Some of my favorites? Clearly, I have a deep and abiding love for Shakespeare, but also Jane Austin, George Eliot, and J.D. Salinger, among many others.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

Interesting/crazy thing #1 – My parents moved to Israel when I was 15. It was 1973 and I went to a boarding school near the Lebanese border. The Yom Kippur War started for me when three Syrian MiGs were chased across the sky by a Phantom jet. We spent the next couple of weeks in the bomb shelter.

Interesting/crazy thing #2 – One of the most marvelous experiences of my life was tied to my job. We built a promotional Web site for a sponsor of a major Cezanne exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Because we delivered in record time, the sponsor arranged for us to attend a special showing of the exhibition ― about 10 of us in an otherwise closed museum. We were able to get up close and personal with masterpieces and it was unbelievable.

Interesting/crazy thing #3 – I was a wallflower growing up – the one in the corner who watched the party instead of taking part in it. Maybe one of the reasons I was drawn to writing was because I could be sparkling and charming there, if nowhere else. After some initial trepidation, I began to feel liberated when reading my writing to other people. I realized I had changed dramatically the day I got up and read a poem called “Penis Envy” to a group of about 100 people. And I suddenly found myself the most popular person in the room!

7. Favorite quote

This varies with the season, but it’s almost invariably one by Shakespeare. Right now it’s: “Fie upon this quiet life! I want work!”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part of being a writer are those days when the story and the characters just take over and all you’re doing is hanging onto the keyboard as they tell you what words to put in their mouths and what they want to do next. It’s generally NOT what you wanted them to do ― but so often, it’s even better than what you’d planned for them.

The worst part – aside from not having enough time – are the days when you start to suspect you can’t really write. I know I’m not the only writer who suffers from this! Generally, I can dispel this suspicion of inadequacy by reading what I’ve written before. If not, it’s time to go for a walk and clear my head.

9. Advice for other writers

Having spent years thinking that I would never be published, I know how frustrating and lonely writing can be. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to connect to other writers – join a class, a workshop, a writing group. Go to readings and support other writers. When I began to do these things, not only did I feel less alone, but I found that the best writers are a generous group who want to help you do the best writing you can.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

When I was writing THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS, I discovered Maggie Anton. At that time, the first novel in her Rashi’s Daughters trilogy was not out yet. Because we were both writing about medieval women in a Jewish setting, I pre-ordered the book and placed myself on Maggie’s email list.

I loved the first book and when Maggie came to New York for some readings, I decided to contact her. I hesitated a long time before clicking the send button, but I figured the worst she could do is say no. I asked if she’d have just a few minutes to talk to me during her stay in New York.

She wrote back and asked me to join her on a walk through Central Park on the morning before one of her readings. It was the middle of the summer and I figured we’d walk a little, then find a place to have coffee or something cold. So I dressed in cool clothes ― a light skirt and blouse, a pair of sandals.

When Maggie joined me, I realized my mistake. She was dressed for serious WALKING – in shorts, a tee-shirt, and sneakers. We walked around and around Central Park, while she generously gave me invaluable advice and insight into how to market the book when it was finished ― and I ignored the blisters forming on my feet as unimportant.

Where can people buy your book?

One of the wonderful things about publishing with a major publishing house is that the book should be available everywhere – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Booksamillion, Costco.

If you buy in stores and don’t see the book, this debut novelist would be grateful if you’d ask the store to order a copy!

If you buy online and want a quick way to purchase the book, visit my Web site at http://www.michelle-cameron.com. You can click right from the home page.  (Though while you’re on the site, stick around awhile!)

If you want to learn more about me, visit my “Author Revealed” page at www.simonandschuster.com.

And to connect:  Join the group on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

10 QUESTIONS FOR…”The Wire” actor and author of “Letters from Backstage”

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Author interview with Michael KostroffNov 1, 06 265Book Cover 640x480

Michael Kostroff is a New York native who now lives Los Angeles. Primarily an actor, he’s most often recognized for his work on HBO’s highly acclaimed hit, The Wire and the new Disney series, Sonny with a Chance, as well as guest appearances on a host of other shows. Though his popular Letters from Backstage is his only book, he’s written professionally for years. His widely diverse writing career thus far has included shows and songs for Disney, a weekly advice column in the actors’ newspaper, Back Stage, jokes and patter for stand-ups and cabaret performers, an award-winning stage show, and theatre reviewing for PlayShakespeare.com.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

Letters from Backstage: The Adventures of a Touring Stage Actor is a funny, touching, behind-the-scenes chronicle of my time on the road with two Broadway mega-hits, The Producers and Les Misérables. Each chapter is a different stop on the tour, and the book really takes the reader along on the adventure of being a touring actor. My colleague Jason Alexander was kind enough to write a terrific foreword.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

Years ago, I was performing in a show that involved improvisation, and the playwright told me he thought I should be writing. Ignoring my protests that I wasn’t a writer, he made some calls, and set me up with some interviews.  I started getting hired by various clients, and learned right away that I had an ability of which I’d been unaware. People seemed to love everything I wrote. It was a shock, and thus, a secondary career was born.

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

Ugh. That’s a hard question. I don’t know that there’s any such thing as a typical day. Some days, I’m up early to get to the set to film. Other days, I’m off to my voice over agent’s office to audition for a cartoon or video game, or off to read for a TV role.  During the summer, I’m usually traveling to do theatre (I’m about to leave town to do The Producers—for the fourth time—at Music Theatre of Wichita). Otherwise, I’m at my computer, meeting writing deadlines, working on my next book or doing what artists spend most of their time doing: looking for gigs. I wear a lot of hats—teaching, singing, coaching… anything artistic that pays the bills. That variety keeps me busy, and it’s one of my favorite things about my career.

4. Describe your workspace.

Funny you should ask. I just moved my office into my breakfast nook, and I love it. I call it “command central.” It’s a smaller, cozier space, so everything is accessible, from paper clips to the filing cabinet. I just swivel my vintage 1950s office chair, and there it is. There are three little windows, and I can watch the birds coming to cool off in the fountain in front. They stick their whole heads in the water. It’s pretty comical.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

My favorites include Les Miserables (I did the show, so that story holds a special place in my heart, but beside that, the writing is so cinematic. I love Victor Hugo.), The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Oliver Twist, and in the lighter fare department, Where the Wild Things Are, Interview with the Vampire and a great little book everyone should read called Say Please, Say Thank You.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

Last April, I met Barack Obama, one-on-one. I was volunteering in Nevada. One day, I was assigned to trail the motorcade, shuttling staffers to and from various events and so forth. Now, The Wire happens to be Obama’s favorite show, so the next thing I know, one of his assistants comes up to me and says, “He wants to say hi.” Minutes later, we were face to face, and he was telling his secret service guys all about the show, while I did my best to keep from fainting and avoid saying anything stupid. Pretty remarkable encounter.

My Guilty Pleasure: I’m a shameless American Idol fan.

For years, I wrote for Disneyland, creating shows and special events. A highlight was writing “Woody’s Round-up,” which opened in conjunction with Pixar’s Toy Story II and got raves from Park guests. One of the songs I wrote for that show ended up on a Grammy-winning CD, “Woody’s Roundup: A Rootin’ Tootin’ Collection of Woody’s Favorite Songs.”

7. Favorite quote

Gower Champion, in an opening night telegram to the cast of one of his shows: “Just remember, one billion Chinamen don’t give a fuck what happens tonight.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best and worst: The writing part.

9. Advice for other writers

Start. That’s my advice. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. I know I’ll do anything to avoid writing. Play Scrabble on line, mess around with fonts, tell people about what I plan to write… sometimes, I’ll even go as far as to exercise. And I will protest up and down that I have no ideas and nothing to say. But if I will simply force myself to open a blank page, and put my hands on the keyboard, I find that the words come out of my fingers. I start typing and think “Oh! Right. That’s a good idea… and I also want to say that…” and so on. It’s as if the ideas refuse to surface until they know I’m ready to type.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

I became an author somewhat by accident. When I was on the road with The Producers and Les Miserables, it was such a great adventure that I wanted to bring my friends along. So, at every stop, I wrote a funny, honest, behind-the-scenes short story about our experiences on tour, with some philosophy thrown in, and sent it to my e-mail list.  Those people started forwarding them to their friends. Cast mates started asking to be on the list. I began to get fan letters from parents of our crew members. Before I knew it, I had grown a readership of hundreds of folks. People started calling for these chapters to be published, an idea I quickly dismissed until finally, just to shut them up, I submitted proposals to a small handful of publishers. The day Allworth Press called to say they wanted to publish the book, the whole thing was so far from my mind that my first answer was, “What book?” To this day, I still believe that if getting published had been my goal, I’d still be peddling that thing!

B. Short pitch on where to buy your book, your Web site, blog, etc.

Letters from Backstage is available on Amazon.com (where you can read some fantastic reader comments), and at most major bookstores (if they don’t have it, they can get it, so ask!). I never want to come across like a salesman, but seriously, people love this book. I don’t want you to get it for me (hell, I don’t make anything on book sales), I want you to get it for you—so you can come along on this great adventure with me.

Detailed interview on query letters!

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On Friday, May 8 Victoria Mixon will host her interview with me on her blog, http://VictoriaMixon.com 

The focus is mostly on fiction query letters, but feel free to stop by and ask questions on anything related to queries (magazines, nonfiction books, proposals, etc.)

Author interviews next week…

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Teaching at the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference April 23-26 so no new author interviews until I return April 27. I’ll try to post a few writing contests this week though. Here are the featured authors next week:

April 27 (Mon) Jill Starishevsky (children’s book)

April 28 (Tues) Marilyn Hontz (Self-help)

April 29 (Wed) Amy Smith and Cari Parven (women on love, sex and work in 40s)

April 30 (Thurs) Shonika Proctor (teen entrepreneur secrets)

May 1 (Fri) – John Kador (“Effective Apology”)

May 2 (Sat) – Lorraine Mignault (positive living)