Thursday, October 11, 2012

Indie Insider - Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar


Please enjoy this interview with Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, author of the heart-breaking multicultural romance, Love Comes Later. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of Love Comes Later, and 5 copies of its companion, From Dunes to Dior.



1. Love Comes Later tells the story of Abdulla’s arranged marriage to his cousin Hind. Neither is excited about the prospect—Abdulla because he is still recovering from the untimely death of his former wife and unborn child; Hind because she is a thoroughly modern girl who does not appreciate the prospect of being anyone’s second option. How did the inspiration for this story surface, particularly for the characters of Abdulla and Hind?

In conversations with people in Qatar, expat or Qatari, the subject of love inevitably came up. For women, the main issue involved the small pool of people they felt they had to choose from. My surprise and revelation came, however, when my male friends expressed similar sentiments. We often think men have all the power in male-dominated societies but from these discussions I began to realize how society limits both male and female aspirations with universal social expectations like marriage. The story began to form there: what would make a man unlikely to marry? And why? What would he do in order to keep his freedom?

2. You met your husband in Qatar although you are both American-raised and come from Asian heritage (you South Indian, and your husband of Laotian descent). How did the two of you meet? This sounds like such a magical love story!

We met at work, believe it or not, and at first the entire possibility of forging a lasting bond with someone I’d just met seemed as foreign to me as the desert landscape outside. I had my mind set on my career and wasn’t looking for a relationship; people were throwing dire warnings my way not to take anything starting overseas very seriously. But over time, I was impressed by the strength of my husband’s character and realized, despite the naysayers, I had never met anyone else like him. The desert is a great place to find out what someone is really about because you can’t rely on the busyness of life at home--work, family, friends--to hide behind. It’s just you, in a foreign setting, and that can be like a pressure cooker for most expats. What’s inside eventually comes out. Lucky for me, I listened to my gut, and six years of marriage later, I’m more and more grateful.




3. In Love Comes Later, how do the characters of Hind, Fatima, and Luluwa embody the modern Qatari (or Arab) woman?

They’re each their own personalities and have characteristics of different parts of Qatari society. Each of them occupies a space that demonstrates the changes in society as increasingly Qatar become open to the rest of the world. While Fatima was live, she was probably the most conservative of the three, which makes sense because she is also the oldest. She wanted to get married, and though she had a job outside the home, was much more excited about the birth of her first child. Hind has been allowed to study abroad without a family member, and during the story that causes her to become increasingly liberal-minded. Luluwa is very young at the time of this story, and she represents those in the next generation, who have even more choices facing them about tradition and society.

The Arabian Gulf is different from the Middle East, partly because of the oil revenues that drive the economy, but also because of the gender segregation that is very visible and preserved by the local community. While the female characters may have a lot in common with other Muslim women from the Arab world in terms of personal aspirations, their circumstances and context are unique to Qatar.

4. Based on your experiences, what is the one thing you believe Westerners would be the most surprised to learn about the city of Doha?

You can make relationships here that will last for a lifetime a lot more easily than you can at home. Part of the reason is that we are all in the same boat--expats and locals alike--everyone is searching for ways to make contribute to the rapid growth and development of the nation so that means you are engaged in meaningful work. Most people here are interested in cultural exchange and open about the world in general around them. This, plus the fact that the country is such a melting pot means that you and your children (if you have any) are more likely to have friends of different faiths and nationalities than many other places in the world.

5. What made you decide to relocate to Doha in particular, and what has motivated you to stay for so long (7 years)? Do you plan to move back to the U.S. one day, or might you set-up your permanent homestead in Qatar?

I don’t know of anywhere else that is investing as much in education as the Arabian Gulf at the present moment in time. I came to work at an American university, took some time to consult at the national university, and then worked for a newly established publishing company. They were all fairly big name organizations in their own right and the ability to contribute significantly on the programmatic level as I’ve done at a fairly young age would be difficult to replicate anywhere else.

Sorry, my academic side took over for a second! I am a scholar and this is a wonderful place to have the resources--perhaps most importantly time--to work on research and writing. And because I am a writer, I can’t remember another place I’ve lived that has so inspired me with subject matter--unless it was inside my own head as a teenage immigrant.

We agree in our house that we’ll stay as long as we’re having fun. And that doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.



6. In your memoir From Dunes to Dior, you note that your American upbringing combined with your South Indian heritage, doctoral education, and femininity mean you’re a rather unique mixture of social identities in Qatar. How hard is it for you to reconcile all these sides of yourself while trying to fit in to this new society and take pride in all that makes you you?

Depends on the context; when I’m in traffic, it’s not unusual for me to return stares from men elbowing each other to have a look at me driving while they’re sitting in buses going back to their accommodation. In the classroom some students are taken aback for the first few sessions but eventually I grow on them. In instances where I have one on one interaction--or people hear my Western accent--I don’t have that much difficulty. It’s when I’m in places where judgments are made by skin color--the mall or first time meetings--that I have slightly more difficulty but in general these smooth out over time.

7. You’ve published six ebooks within the space of a year. How on earth do you manage to be so productive? Do you plan to keep this pace up, or are you just sprinting to get started?

I had the luxury of a backlist of manuscripts that had been politely declined by a number of agents over the years. Each time I stalled, I would go on and write another. I decided to give all of them a home on e-readers as a way of reaching readers. I have two more to go as part of the original list of 8. And of course there are ideas for new stories that keep coming up--even the possibilities of two more books with characters from Love Comes Later--but I think I’ll take a more relaxed approach after December!

8. You chose to pursue indie publishing even though your PhD in English Literature would make you a prime candidate for the traditional publishing model? Why indie, and if given the choice to do it all over again, would you still choose this path?

I came to indie publishing because I put a lot of time and effort into my academic books and no one--not even my mother--ever read them. That’s a long time for them to just waste away in the library. I kept hearing the indie drumbeat at conferences I attended and decided these manuscripts that weren’t being picked up didn’t need to be rejected 60 times in order to make it into the hands of readers. I don’t regret going indie. I wish I had done it sooner in the sense that it would have been fun to work on a single book, release it, and then start another book, instead of this wild and creative space I’m in right now where I’m revising one book, researching for another, and promoting others.

9. As a writer, what is the message you are trying to get out to the world? Who are you trying to reach, and what do you want to tell them? Are your books more entertainment/ informational driven, or is there a deeper resonance you are trying to achieve?

I want to take readers to places they’d like to go but can’t physically get to because of time or financial considerations. A book is the oldest form of technology we have, and though we’ve put them on tablets and found ways to make them enticing through video or graphics, we haven’t actually changed what a book does which is transport us to worlds other than our own. I want my stories to capture the essence and wonder of storytelling for the reader who will enter a world unfamiliar and yet see something of him/herself in the characters, dilemmas, and settings.

10. What can readers expect next from MohaDoha?

I am working on other titles… the very next one is a coming of age story, set in the U.S., told from the perspective of a young female protagonist, Sita, who we’ll root for to grow up into an empowered woman despite those who have other plans for her life.

I love interacting with readers. The more feedback I get, the better content I feel that I create. So the door is open--tell me what you loved or what was confusing--and I’ll keep you posted on the release date for An Unlikely Goddess!



As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Love Comes Later eBook edition is just 99 cents this week--and so is the price of its companion, From Dunes to Dior. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:


  1. Visit today’s featured social media event
  2. About Love Comes Later:  What if pursuing your happiness also meant your best friend's disgrace? In Love Comes Later Sangita, Abdulla and Hind must chose between loyalty and love, traditional values and a future they each long to explore. Get it on Amazon.

    About From Dunes to Dior I moved East, back towards my roots, only to discover how much of the West I brought with me. From Dunes to Dior is the story of my life as an expat South Asian woman in the heart of the Middle East. Get it on Amazon.

    About the Author: Six eBooks ago, Mohana joined the e-book revolution and now she dreams in plot lines. Visit Mohana on her websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Indie Insider - Richard Long


    1. Tell us about the spark of inspiration that eventually grew into The Book of Paul.

    The initial inspiration for The Book of Paul came when I wrote the first line of the first chapter called Exercises: “He practiced smiling.”  I wanted to explore a character who had been so damaged by childhood trauma that he could no longer feel compassion, joy, affection, and had, accordingly, committed all kinds of horrible acts. I wondered if such a person could ever regain his emotional capacity and be redeemed by love.

    2. What was the research process like for this book (which can at times deal with some pretty heady and—frankly—grotesque goings-on)? Any horror stories to share?

    There are many aspects to the story, so the research was really extensive. I love doing the research almost as much as the writing, so it’s a joy for me to read and learn so many new things. The creation mythology literally goes back to square one and builds from there, tracing the history of Hermetic and Gnostic philosophy, alchemy, druidism and pagan mythology--particularly Egyptian, Greek and Celtic traditions. There’s also a strong science fiction element involving quantum physics, artificial intelligence, life extension and what’s known as The Singularity. Other lines of exploration involved Irish genealogy and what I call the pain culture: tattoos, elaborate piercings and body modifications.

    I made some gruesome discoveries along the way. The most disturbing was the Extreme Body Modification website I stumbled upon, which is one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen. I first saw it in the early days of the Internet, which is pretty amazing in itself. I checked recently and it’s still there, though I didn’t have the stomach to peek inside again. I’m actually as squeamish as some of my readers about certain things, which is probably why the horror comes across so vividly. If something scares the hell out of me, it’s easy for me to convey that fear and revulsion.

    3. Tell us about Paul. Who is he and what is his book about?

    The Book is a 4th century codex, the only one of it’s kind. How and why it was made and what it contains is one of the central mysteries of the series, so I’m not going to spill those beans. Paul is every bit as mysterious. When he is first introduced you might think he’s a serial killer involved with the occult in some way. As the story progresses you discover some really unexpected things about him. One thing is clear from the outset – he is one very nasty piece of work. I’ve always felt that any horror novel or thriller is only as good as the villain. I definitely aimed for the fences with Paul.




    4. There is a strong tarot undercurrent to this novel. The protagonist even makes his living by reading the cards. Why did you decide to work it into The Book of Paul, and how does it surface throughout the course of the story?

    I actually did tarot and numerology readings when I lived in the East Village many years ago. The tarot led me to a lot of dark occult explorations, which are mirrored in William’s journey. I was lucky enough to pull out of that nosedive and hop over to the Buddhist side of the fence. William is not so fortunate. The reader gets drawn into William’s world through his first person narration as he talks about becoming a collector of ancient occult manuscripts, which leads him to the tarot. Then he gradually reveals more through his journal entries, which contain the meat of the mythology and all the Hermetic and Gnostic lore. Finally, he discovers that the tarot is actually related to an apocalyptic prophecy, which Paul is determined to fulfill by any means necessary, which is very bad news for Billy.

    5. At almost 500 pages, this is not a short novel. From start to finish, how long did it take you to write, revise, and ready for publication?

    I’ve written over 2,000 pages for The Book of Paul and the series. The first draft of this volume was close to a thousand pages long. I cut out eight characters and their storylines in the second draft, which netted my first agent. She wanted a lower page count, so many of the narrator’s interior musings were cut. Those were actually some of my favorite sections. Then I moved to another agent and he wanted more of the mythology put back in, so it grew close to this size. After six months he hadn’t sold it, so I got sick of the whole process, wrote it the way I wanted, and published it.

    6. The concept of synchronicity plays heavily in this novel. What attracts you to it, and has it proven a heavy influence in your own life?

    I’ve always been a spiritual seeker. I was raised as a Catholic, but the nuns effectively beat those beliefs out of me quickly. Even as a kid, I couldn’t accept the idea of God as the big guy in the sky with the white beard. Science and mythology and my own imagination showed me all kind of possibilities. I first noticed synchronicity when the number eleven kept showing up for me all over the place--addresses, hotel rooms, etc. Someone suggested I get a book on numerology and I discovered that eleven was my “name number” and also a power number. I started noticing all kinds of things after that, coincidences that were just too weird to brush away. Then I read some Jung, and when I got into quantum physics that sealed the deal. Synchronicity for me now is the manifestation of interconnectedness in the universe. There is nothing you can perceive that isn’t connected to you. As the Buddhists say, “no separate self.”

    7. Paul is... scary (we’ll leave it at that). How were you able to effectively become this deranged character, and how did you hang on to your own humanity after the fact?

    I would imagine it’s much the same as when Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter. He was very disdainful of method actors who got all caught up in identifying with their characters. There’s a famous story about Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman on the set of Marathon Man. Hoffman was a method actor and he stayed up all night before their torture scene together and Olivier said something like, “Why don’t you try acting, dear boy?”

    That being said, I’m not immune to being disturbed by these things. When I wrote the traumatic scenes of him and Martin--well, I cried when I wrote them and they stayed with me for days. So maybe the method is working for me too.

    Paul is great to write because it’s like letting my Id out of a cage. I get to play out my most evil imaginings and nobody gets hurt. I also had to find Paul’s humanity to make him really interesting for me. I didn’t want him to be some cartoon monster. Paul is also in a lot of pain; he was traumatized as a boy and his life was changed forever. By the end of the story you get to see many other sides of him. And of course, there’s a lot more to come.



    8. Irish mythology is woven into The Book of Paul, and at one point, Paul even makes a sarcastic quip about the luck of the Irish. Why Irish, and how all does its culture influence the story?

    When I’m writing, I go into a daydream state where I imagine the character and what he or she looks like and where they are and what they’re doing. No outline usually. I sit back and watch and listen. If it’s great the way I imagine it, then writing the dialog is like taking dictation. When I wrote the first chapters with Paul, I was surprised because I kept hearing him speak with an Irish brogue, but his accent went in and out – sometimes really thick, sometimes a little lilt, sometimes no accent at all. So I’m thinking, what’s that about?

    I come from Irish American stock, but my parents told me absolutely nothing about their parents other than to say they were cruel. So that’s the starting point with Paul. He’s the ultimate bad dad. The more I explored Paul, the deeper it led me into Celtic mythology, Irish genealogy and history. I suppose I’m trying to find the missing links of my own heritage. My grandmother was born in Ireland, so I have dual citizenship, even though I haven’t been there yet. I’m thinking I’ll go next year when I’m writing the third sequel.

    9. The Book of Paul is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and in that way, it can be difficult to classify. So tell us, who is your target audience for this novel?

    Given the fact that there are some rough episodes in the story, you might think that the so-called target audience would be men who are into horror, thrills and mayhem. But women actually seem to be my biggest, or at least, my most vocal fans. I’ve been getting some really enthusiastic reviews from men, but even more so from women, who surprisingly seem less squeamish than some of the male reviewers.

    The Book of Paul doesn’t fit into any neat, tidy genre. It’s very complex and like you say, unlike anything I’ve read before either. There’s a Pulp Fiction element to it, with quirky characters in a seedy environment. There’s a major religious/mythological mystery for the Dan Brown crowd. It’s very funny, but incredibly poignant. It’s very disturbing, but there are lots of fast-paced action scenes. There’s romance and kinky sex. Something for everybody.

    10. Why did you decide to self-publish The Book of Paul, and how has the journey been so far?

    Read above. The traditional publishing industry in general is like a boxer on the ropes in the tenth round. For fiction it’s even worse. Add first-time novelist to the list and sprinkle on an unclassifiable genre for a little seasoning. I had two agents who were well known and successful, and very enthusiastic about the book. But the editors they reached wouldn’t take a chance on it. I could have kept trying, but frankly, I ran out of patience.

    How has it been so far? The book is out in the world and it’s just the way I wanted it. I have complete control over everything I do, including the cover art, which is also exactly how I want it. The marketing is a lot of hard work, particularly the social marketing, which I had never done before. But that’s turned out to be a lot of fun too. I’m meeting so many great people--other authors and readers--and getting such a strong response on the book that it feels like a vindication. See? I told you so. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!



    As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Book of Paul eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $300 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of the book, and a look into your future through a free tarot reading performed by the author.

    All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!

    To win the prizes:
    1. Visit today’s featured social media event
    2. About The Book of Paul:  A cross-genre thriller that combines the brooding horror of Silence of the Lambs with the biting humor of Pulp Fiction.  Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

      About the author: 

      Richard Long is the author of The Book of Paul and the forthcoming young-adult fantasy series The Dream Palace.  He lives in Manhattan with his wonderful wife, two amazing children and wicked black cat, Merlin. Visit Richard on his websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

      Wednesday, September 12, 2012

      Indie Insider - Sheryl Steines


      1. When you start a book do you know how it will end or do you create the ending as you go along?

      I have a rough idea of what the book will be about and I have some scene ideas and a rough ending.  When I wrote The Day of First Sun, I knew that a high profile, non-magical person was going to be murdered by magic.  I wrote out a paragraph of things that I wanted to see in the story and began writing.  I didn’t look at the paragraph again until after the book was published and realized that I didn’t keep to my original thoughts at all.  I tend to work without an outline because I feel tied to the story as if I’m trying to make everything fit.  I prefer to let it flow and change.  I like the freedom and the discovery.  Sometimes I’m wildly surprised.

      2. Do your book characters ever visit you in your dreams?

      Yes and no.  Not as much when I’m sleeping, but I daydream about them all the time.  It’s how I work out characters and storylines.  It’s almost as if a movie is playing in my head and I can change and add to storylines.

      3. What are your favorite authors as either an adult or a child?

      When I was a kid, I loved Nancy Drew.  I read every one of them, but I didn’t just want to read them, I wished I had wrote them and started to write my own detective stories when I was seven.  As I grew older, I read Judy Blume and Stephen King.  Both made me feel something and from that I wanted to keep writing.  I still read Stephen King and was very inspired by his autobiography On Writing.  It was J.K. Rowling though, that reminded me of what I loved to read and that’s what inspired me to write my own fantasy novel.

      4. How do you go about finishing a chapter when you can’t get it right?

      I skip it…Just kidding.  No, actually I’m not.  Sometimes, I make a note in all caps reminding me I haven’t finished the chapter and other notes that I might be thinking about for the chapter and start the next one.  Sometimes you just need to move on.  The answer will eventually hit you upside the head when you least expect it.

      5. Describe your reaction when you saw and held your first book?

      I think I was numb when The Day of First Sun was published.  Almost as if I had only done it to satisfy a selfish desire.  It didn’t seem real.  It was when I held She Wulf in my hands for the first time that I was overcome with emotion.  This book consumed me for so long and I was so amazed by the final product and it seemed more than just a fantasy.

      6. What is your biggest achievement to date?

      Writing my first book.  I always wanted to and never gave myself the opportunity.  One day I decided it was time.  It changed my life, gave me confidence.  I lost the extra baby weight, changed my wardrobe, straightened my hair and gave my girls a role model, an example of taking control of one’s life and being the best person you can be.

      7. What’s your favorite color?

      Pink.  I’ve always been a girly girl.  As much as I’d like to be a sporty girl, I’m just not.  It’s all about the pink, purses and shoes.

      8. Favorite sound?

      I love the sound of rain on the roof.  Not during the sunlight hours, but early in the morning when it’s still dark out.  I snuggle under the covers.  It makes me happy.

      9. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

      An interior decorator.  I love being creative and crafty and picking paint colors and getting lost in a fabric store.  It’s almost as good as getting lost in a bookstore.

      10. Worst fear?

      I fear the alligators under the bed.  Since I was a kid I can’t sleep without something covering my feet incase they come and get me.  Don’t laugh, Stephen King admitted the same thing in an interview once.



      As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the She Wulf eBook edition is just 99 cents this week--and so is the price of its companion, The Day of First Sun. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

      All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!

      To win the prizes:
      1. Visit today’s featured social media event
      2. About She Wulf:  Annie is sent through an ancient time portal with only a prophecy to guide her; she struggles with a new destiny as she tries to figure out a way to destroy an un-killable demon and return home.  Get it on Amazon.

        About The Day of First Sun A vampire, a rogue wizard and an army of soulless zombies are par for the course for Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky of the Wizard’s Guard. But when the non-magical princess, Amelie of Amborix, is murdered by magical means, a deeper plot unfolds. Get it on Amazon.

        About the author: Behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible, Sheryl is a constant surprise, using her sense of humor and relatable style make her books something everyone can enjoy. Visit Sheryl on her websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

        Sunday, July 1, 2012

        Indie author success in today’s market.

        By M. Todd Gallowglas

        I’d like to thank the Indie Writers Zone for having me stop by during my launch of a little project I call, the Genre Underground. Today I’m here to talk about being successful as an Indie author in today’s market.

        I used to have this saying I’d say, a mantra I’d repeat, when things looked grim when I first started out. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” I believed that, and saying it kept me from bludgeoning myself into unconsciousness on my keyboard when the threat of failing in this harsh world of Indie publishing. Then came Tough Mudder, and my entire philosophy changed.

        www.toughmudder.com

        In a nutshell, Tough Mudder is a 10 - 12 mile run, with twenty-five obstacles designed by British Special Forces. It’s not a race, but a challenge. While it is possible to complete the course as an individual, it’s easier – so much easier – in teams. They encourage teams. I have signed up to do this event on Sept 29th in Northern California, if anyone wants to join myself and the rest of Team Red Hand, contact me and I’ll give you the team info. It’s also a fund raiser for the Wounded Warrior Project.

        This is what being an Indie writer is. It’s like participating in a never ending series of Tough Mudder events. The Indie world is full of obstacles and challenges that will kick your teeth right down into your guts. It’s possible to make it on your own, but so much easier if you have a team. Some teammates will be better at promotion. Some will be better at helping beta read your books and make sure all those grammar and spelling things are taken care of. Some teammates are just really good at getting your spirits back up when you’re spitting your teeth out of your mouth after you’ve puked them back up. (This isn’t likely to literally happen, but it feels like it – last week Amazon dropped me from one of the best seller lists I was on. Gone. Poof. AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! Condition red!!!!) Every step of the way, it helps you to have a team.

        And, as more and more Indie writer groups get going, it’s not enough just to be on any team. You have to pick the right team. There’s a lot of choices out there: Independent Authors Network, Indie Book Collective, and the World Literary CafĂ© to name a few. I’ve worked with other groups and found they weren’t ultimately for me, because our focuses were different. As more and more writers start trying out this Indie thing, I believe that the Indie cross-promotion teams are going to need to be more and more specialized, because they are going to have to focus on the fan base and readership of specific genres. Science Fiction and fantasy readers tend to be much different than Thriller readers, who are much different than Romance readers, who are in turn different than the Young Adult crowd. Now, I’m most familiar with the Science Fiction/Fantasy community. It’s what I write, and a lot of what I read, and that particular community is awesome and completely different than most readerships of the other genres. I decided it was time to build a team and dive into the community of people who love to read the kind of stuff I write.

        The Genre Underground is my team. I started it with several other like-minded Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror writers. Our mission statement: “Fitting the book to the reader. Bringing you the most innovative Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror that you want to read.” We are completely reader focused, because we understand that not every book is for every reader. We’ll ask about what other things someone likes to read, and give them recommendations based on that. We’re working together to build up Indie Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror within the fan community.

        Writing is a solitary activity. Publishing is not. Publishing means being able to put your book, whether a print copy or and electronic copy, in front of someone who will buy it and read it.  Self-published authors try to do everything themselves, and they can succeed…eventually. Traditional writers have a publishing house. Indie writers, we’ve figured out that having a team is going to help all of us get the word out. The Genre Underground is my team. What’s yours?

        Welcome to the revolution!


        Learn more about M. Todd Gallowglas



        Monday, June 25, 2012

        The Story Behind Moa by Tricia Stewart Shiu

         

        The Story Behind Moa by Tricia Stewart Shiu

        I've always loved Hawaii and was thrilled when my husband booked a visit for us to see his relatives in Honolulu, Hawaii in October of 2006. We packed light and brought our daughter, who was three-years-old at the time. Our condo was close to parks and monuments that oozed history. We enjoyed wandering around and indulging in the local cuisine. I even tried poi and liked it!

        The morning after we arrived, I rose early to push my daughter’s stroller through the quiet, cool morning air. It felt like such a gift to experience Honolulu before the rest of the island was up. After a hearty island breakfast, we headed out for a morning at our favorite sandy reprieve, Kuhio Beach. The water was calm and protected by a breakwater. Our daughter enjoyed digging and splashing and my husband and I sat sit nearby without worrying about the strong current. Afterward, we headed back to our condominium, ate a light lunch, and took a luxurious siesta. Although I'm not usually a mid-day napper, the fresh sea air and sun lulled me into a light sleep—the kind where I felt like I was awake, but I was actually deeply asleep.



        I heard a voice say my name and a part of me awoke. I use the word “part” because I could definitely feel my body touching the soft material on the couch. And yet, another part was keenly aware of a young woman with dark hair standing over me. It felt real, but dream-like, so I decided to go with it and ask her her name. She pronounced a long Hawaiian string of letters, which seemed to go on for minutes. After repeating the name three or four times, she told me to call her “Moa.” Through my exhausted, sleepy haze, I remember being skeptical. If this was, indeed, a dream, I would ask as many questions as possible. So I did. Why was she here? Where did she come from? How could I be sure she was who she claimed to be? Instead of any answers, she flashed a mental picture of a woman and said that she was a long lost friend of my husband’s. She told me her name and explained that my husband’s family and she had lost touch 15 years before and had been orbiting around one another trying to reconnect. I awoke from that nap, slightly groggy. That was an indication that I was definitely asleep. Perhaps it was just my creativity kicking into overdrive, I reasoned, and decided to go on with my day.

        We walked to a park with my daughter and began playing. Suddenly, there was a squeal and my husband and I turned to see the woman from my dream charging toward us with her arms stretched out wide. As she spoke, I tried to gather my wits. Here was the same woman from my dream, someone I’d only seen a mental picture of, and she was standing on the grass right in front of me. She and my husband exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch.

        For the next few hours, I tried to make sense of what happened. I had never had an experience like this before, but there was no denying that I saw a picture in a dream before I met someone and then they showed up in real life. When I went to sleep that evening, Moa visited again. She answered the other questions I’d asked earlier that afternoon and wanted me to know that I was protected and should share my experience with the world. Since this was definitely my first metaphysical encounter, I had no idea how to form the correct words to share what had happened. How on earth, I asked Moa, am I supposed to convey such undocumented, unsubstantiated, unusual information? She said that our world exists on many levels which all play simultaneously. Her analogy was of a DVR. Several shows can be playing at the same time but are on different tuners. That, she said, is where she existed.



        When I awoke, I began writing and continued to do so. The story evolved into “Moa,” then the sequel, “Statue of Ku.” My daughter, now seven, took the cover photo and illustrated, as well. The photo was taken a few years ago on the North Shore as we played on the beach. The artwork has been compiled over the last two years. Since my visit with Moa, I began an extensive and sometimes circuitous search to explain my metaphysical experience. I took classes on mediumship, Huna, energy work and through my education, I learned to create healing essential oils and elixir sprays and incorporated that information in the book. Not only did my experience with Moa inspire me and guide me through four-and-a-half of the most challenging years of my life, I also believe that writing about those events and including information I received about that inspiration and guidance, brought my own deep physical, mental, emotional and spiritual transformation and healing.

        Writing, editing and publishing Moa has opened doors to a new way of understanding myself, those around me and the energy we share. Whatever your belief or understanding of the metaphysical world, I believe that if one person is transformed through learning, then we are all transformed. I truly believe the Moa I met came through in this work and, just as I connected with her as I wrote, those who read the book will experience her as well.  



        As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Moa and Statue of Ku eBook editions have both been dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of each book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
        1. Purchase your copies of Moa and Statue of Ku for just 99 cents
        2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
        3. Visit today’s featured social media event
        About Moa: Eighteen-year-old, Hillary, anticipates adventure as she embarks for trip to Honolulu, but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. Get it on Amazon. About Statue of Ku:  The second book in the Moa Book Series, "The Statue of Ku" follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable statue of Ku. Get it on Amazon. About the author: Tricia Stewart Shiu combines her addiction to the written word with her avid interest in the healing arts and all things metaphysical in her novels Moa and Statue of Ku and looks forward to finding new ways to unite her two loves. Visit Tricia on her websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

        Tuesday, June 12, 2012


        Someone is brutally murdering innocent women in downtown Toronto. Sassy Detective Sydney Granger and her playful partner Mike Stanza are on the case. With no witnesses, prints, or clues connecting any of the crime scenes, apprehending the vicious killer seems remote. Then, Sydney makes a chilling discovery that blows the case wide open.

        "This book was a fast paced mystery that honestly I read in an evening and left me wanting more."
        Eclectic Bookshelf


        ***FREE on Amazon until June 15th!***



        Monday, June 11, 2012

        Zombie Candy!



        Please enjoy this interview with Frederick Lee Brooke, author of the genre-bending mystery Zombie Candy. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

        1. What was the inspiration behind your novel, Zombie Candy?
        There was a famous golfer whose wife chased him out of the house with a golf club in the middle of the night a couple of years ago. It was funny that she attacked her husband with his own weapon of choice. I got to thinking what must be going through a woman's mind in that situation? I thought it would be interesting to explore the thought processes of a woman who discovers that her husband is a serial cheater. After the denial comes anger, but there is also a phase of grief. There's guilt. Maybe she blames herself, rightly or wrongly. Candace oscillates between wanting revenge and wanting her husband back, and as the novel winds up she makes discoveries about herself that I thought a woman in her situation would be likely to make.
        2. Do you think Zombie Candy will appeal to true zombie fans?
        What's a true zombie fan? I don't want to give anything away, but any active zombie fan who participates in zombie walks, goes to festivals, etc. will love Zombie Candy. That being said, this is a book that has elements of mystery, horror and romance all in one. It had quite a few early readers, fans of all different genres, and the consensus is that it really works.
        3. The book contains some of Candace's favorite recipes. Why?
        I confess, I love to cook, and it's such an important part of my life, it just felt natural to have Candace want to share her recipes. We are all vulnerable to being attacked through our taste buds. I like reading about cooking, and I love watching cooking shows on TV. I feel like I'm learning something and tasting it at the same time. It felt right for this to be really important for Candace. At the same time, her husband Larry is so incredibly lacking in appreciation of her talents, not just the cooking itself, but organizing complex meals and directing the preparation of them by her class of twelve people. These are amazing skills, and Larry is blind to them. I thought marriages are sometimes like that, where people get to a point where they are totally ignorant of what their partner is great at.
        4. There is a no-cilantro label on the back cover of the book. What is the significance of it?
        Candace is a gourmet cook, and her cheating husband Larry insists on covering all his food with cilantro. This is one of those minor points of contention in a marriage that flares up and becomes important, like a trigger. I thought it was funny. And it seems a lot of people really do have strong feelings about cilantro, either for or against. When I was searching for a good graphic I came across pages on the internet like ihatecilantro.com and facebook.com/i-hate-cilantro.
        5. After starting out in Chicago, why did you decide to set the story in Tuscany?
        I've been fortunate enough to travel to Italy forty or fifty times in my life, sometimes for a two-week vacation, sometimes just for a very short trip. I absolutely love it there, from the food to the language to the beauty of the countryside and the architecture. In Zombie Candy, Candace realizes at a certain point that she has to get Larry out of his comfort zone. This is a guy who travelled all over the country every week for his work, and cheated on Candace with waitresses, flight attendants, whoever. He can adapt just about anywhere. But in Tuscany Larry discovers two things: 1) it's not so easy to find a willing waitress or flight attendant to spend the night with him; and 2) there are zombies here.
        6. How would you describe the way you work as a writer?

        I guess I'm a bit of a chameleon, able to adapt pretty well to circumstances around me. My wife and I have three boys and they are not quiet. I can do most revision with significant background noise and interruptions. Only when I'm writing a first draft or doing some serious planning work do I need peace and quiet. Then I'll often take a walk in the forest anyway. It helps a lot to be adaptable. If I had to put off writing every time someone asked me to cook dinner or help them with their homework, my book would never have been finished. For me, being able to jump right back in has been the key to being able to finish big projects.
        7. Did you always want to be a writer?
        I was an early reader and this led to curiosity about writing stories. My sister and I wrote stories during long car trips. In high school and then in college I dreamed of writing novels, but I only started writing short stories after graduating from college. That writing phase lasted about five years, and I learned a lot about writing, but life got in the way, with marriage and job and career and kids. Only when my kids were halfway grown and my career reached a certain level of success did I find a way to return to writing. Now I'm fulfilling a lifelong dream.
        8. What process do you go through to define your characters?
        I start with an image of them as basically good or basically evil, and put them into a context or a situation, and then just basically make sure there is plenty of conflict. My characters are never perfectly white or black. I think we're drawn to weaknesses. We want to watch them mess up, and see how they'll extricate themselves. Of course, sometimes all my planning goes out the window. It's a cliche to say that characters surprise you with their actions, but they do. They're defined by what they do and what they say. I did some acting in high school and have always loved the theater, and knowing what it means to be in character helps me be in character when I'm writing dialogue. My books are fairly dialogue-driven. What the characters say reveals what they are thinking and feeling.
        9. What writing advice did you receive that was most beneficial to you?
        I had to learn to love conflict. The conflict is the story. The conflict shows the true colors of your characters. I grew up in the suburbs in a family where we avoided conflict at all costs. We talked like diplomats. So embracing conflict has been something I had to learn.
        10. You're an indie author. Any thoughts on the divide between independent publishing and traditional publishing?
        I think the market will sort itself out, but it's going to take time. Good books will find their way into readers' hands somehow, whether in printed or electronic form. We need our stories every day. We can't live without stories. For me personally, independent publishing has been the perfect solution. I found an excellent editor who professionally edited my manuscript. I like the idea that I can control the timing of the publication of my books. If my first book, Doing Max Vinyl, had been traditionally published in April 2011 instead of the way I did it, it probably would have hit the remainder tables by Thanksgiving, and it would be out of print now. I think Zombie Candy might spark some interest in Doing Max Vinyl, so it's a benefit to readers as well as to me that it continues to be available, rather than going out of print and being forgotten. E-books are clearly here to stay, because the consumers (readers) and providers (authors) are the big winners. The only losers are the bookstores, publishing companies, agents and others who refuse to adapt.

        As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Zombie Candy eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.
        All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!
        To win the prizes:

        1. Purchase your copy of Zombie Candy for just 99 cents

        2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity

        3. Visit today’s featured social media event


        About the book: Weaving elements of mystery, horror and romance in a hilarious romp that starts in Chicago and ends in a quaint medieval town in sun-drenched Tuscany, Zombie Candy is a genre-hopping knee-slapper of a novel. Get it on Amazon.
        About the author: Frederick Lee Brooke has worked as an English teacher, language school manager and small business owner and has travelled extensively in Tuscany, the setting of part of Zombie Candy. Visit Fred on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.