Friday, December 23, 2011

C.J. West: Addicted to Love

C.J. West has returned to the blog just in time for Christmas. C. J. and I are sitting here, enjoying Southern pecan pie and coffee.
C.J., I'm delighted to have you visit the blog again. Have a piece of  cutie, umm, I mean pecan pie with your coffee and tell us about your latest release, Addicted To Love.
Wow! Thanks for the refreshments and the interview, Susan. Addicted To Love is a novel about being passionately in love. The whole town of Highland Falls is overcome with love - monogamous love. It is the ideal setting to settle down until a bizarre series of murders begins. Women begin attacking their men with such brutality the whole town is in shock. Wes Holliday is in town on vacation but finds himself torn between an intense love affair and duty to a town that desperately needs him.  
In the book I explore sex and passion as something that each of us wants and desires and how far we would go to keep passion alive in our everyday lives.
I'm hooked!
Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?       
Signed print copies are available from my website. Electronic formats are available from Amazon, BN, and Smashwords.
Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others, C.J?
My early books were much more challenging. I find myself distracted by promotion and other activities now, but I write more strategically (for impact on the reader) and I draft my prose much more quickly. My first drafts are now as good as the third or fourth draft of my early books.  
 That's good to hear, C.J. How do you develop characters?
One of the compliments I often get on my writing is that even my minor characters are vibrant. When a new character steps onto the page, I go out and browse for a photo of someone I think looks like the character. As I develop the personality and background of my new friend, I ascribe attitudes and emotions to the picture as I work and after some time I feel like I know the character personally. 
I follow the same procedure and it seems to work well for me. Can you tell us about current or future projects?
I’m working on a 5 book series that’s unique for me. Each book is a self-contained story, but the series also reads like a single book. There is a mystery that runs through the series and becomes clearer as the books progress. I’m excited for a series structured this way and I really like writing the characters. The first book will be available in 2012.
I am also working on a live murder mystery show that will take place in December. I enjoy acting in and directing these shows. They are a lot of fun for me and they are a great way to get the word out about my work.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Folks can find me at any of the following places:
Have a wonderful Christmas, C.J., with lots of book sales! I am looking forward to reading Addicted to Love on my Kindle after the holidays.

Thanks, Susan. I hope you enjoy it, and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

John Zunski

John Zunski is my guest today. Welcome, John.
Thanks for having me, Susan.

What inspires your stories?

Once upon a time I owned a Dek hockey rink, I was a firefighter for six years, now I own a small town bar; that being said, I’ve been blessed with incredible voyeuristic opportunities. I’ve encountered interesting characters over the years, it would be a wasted opportunity if I didn’t translate some of those characteristics onto the page.  Great characters give good stories; it’s my job to add variables and make the stories memorable.

What genre do you gravitate toward?

I dabble in many genres. Cemetery Streetis a coming of age tragedy/tearjerker –Shangri-La Trailer Parkis a dark comedy. I also have a political satire and a ghost story in the pipeline. A writer friend calls my tendencies schizophrenic – simply because I don’t linger within one genre.  A common link through my work is that the settings are contemporary.  That could change in the future, but my‘schizophrenia’ would have to deepen.  

What are your work habits?

I prefer writing in the wee hours.  I usually take an evening nap, wake up around two AM and write at least two hours before turning in.  Living in the mountains of Montana, the calm of the night resonates with me – during the summer, when the windows are open, I find inspiration in the sound of the creek or on occasion, the sounds of wildlife - especially coyotes and wolves. During the winter, the full moon on snow is super inspiring. If I’m lucky, I’ll catch the shadow of the muse lurking within the night. 

What do you consider your best work?  

That’s a hard question, it’s like asking a parent what child is their favorite. Cemetery Street is emotional – which I love. Any book that elicits emotion is a winner with me. Shangri-La Trailer Park is gritty, it really looks at the dark side of life with a humorous, if not offensive eye. Nightwatching – my ghost story – packs a wallop, it has more twists and turns than a mountain road. My current work – Montana Rural – has some intense moments that have left members of my writer’s group cursing the characters for their actions.   That being said, can I take a powder on the question and give you an answer in twenty years?

Do you plot out your novels in advance or do you write on the fly?

I’ve set out to do both. Cemetery Streetwas plotted, as is its forthcoming sequel Montana Rural. Shangri-La Trailer Park,Nightwatching and Dirty Bum for President piloted themselves.

What experience do you want for your readers?

I want them to have an emotional experience. I hope readers relate to my characters and have lingering images of them. My job is complete when long after a reader finishes  reading one of my books the characters resonates in their memories like old friends.

Are any of your character traits or settings based on real life?

That goes without saying!  Most characters and settings are, but I always will add extra elements. I’ve been asked if Cemetery Street is autobiographical – other than the settings, it is not. I believe you have toadd realistic settings – they’re the canvass on which the painting of the story rests. It would be an injustice to craft a beautiful picture on a paper bag. It cheapens the art. 

What are your most significant challenges when you write?

Getting started. Once I silence the prattle in my mind and fall into my chair, magic happens.

What are you currently working on?

Montana Rural –  it’s a story of a dysfunctional rural fire district in Montana.

Do you have any writing advice you would like to share with aspiring authors?

Be tenacious and never, ever, give up! Actively seek insight and criticism, and when someone criticizes you or your work, use their words as fuel to fire your creative engines.  Stay true to the passion that initiallyinspired you to write.

Good advice, John. Have a Merry Christmas!

You too, Susan.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lee Carey's Pets in Paradise

My guest today is Lee Carey, author of Pets in Paradise. We're sitting on my sunny deck, sipping a concoction he made. Welcome, Lee.

Thank you for sharing your time with me, Susan. It’s my pleasure to meet a fellow writer, especially one from my great state of North Carolina.
Tell us something about yourself that readers might be surprised to learn.
Susan, you would need a rubber hose and hot light for me to admit many of my adventures and shortcomings.
LOL! Really??? I have a hose and a light around here somewhere.
LOL. Just teasing, Susan. Let’s just say that my high school days were mostly spent focused on anything other than school studies. They didn’t grade on girls, surfing, baseball, and music, which meant my GPA (had no clue what that meant back then) was well-locked into the C- category. I do wished I’d paid more attention in English class. However, after writing for twelve years and countless edits, I’ve finally learned…with the priceless assistance of my UNC graduate wife, Kay. My advice to young writers; ‘please learn the basics when you are young.’
How many books have you written?
Judging from my three-foot stack of ‘rejection letters’, I say somewhere around seven hundred, but really the actual count is: 7 novels and 15 short stories.
What books or authors have influenced you?
Way too many to mention here, so to make a long list short, let’s go with; James W. Hall; Michael Connelly; Peter Blauner; and James Grippando. Hall is the writer I credit with inspiring me to begin writing novels. He made it look so easy – boy, was I fooled.
Tell us about your latest release?
That would be Pets In Paradise. My only novels published in ‘real book’ form (paperback) were pet novels. Pets follows my first, Gabby…All About Me. The idea of a paradise for pets and animals came to me the day we had to put Gabby to sleep. (She was two months shy of fifteen years old.) Anyway, since saying ‘good bye’ to a pet is such a traumatic experience, I wanted to write something light and humorous, hoping to ease the pain, not only for me and my wife, but for all pet lovers. Another goal was to help readers recall those memorable moments and unique personalities they enjoyed with their pets. This novel includes various pets and animals, each with their own personality. I included true stories and traits shared by my friends about their deceased pets. It is the most fun scribbling I’ve ever done.
Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?
Yes. Both pet novels were published in paperback (available on my website), and are also offered in Kindle and Nook formats. My three Mystery/Crime and two YA/Crossover novels are also on Kindle. The titles and previews are listed on my web page.
How do you choose your settings?
Preferably, the places I like and have spent time. Some are set at the beach, and as I mentioned, North Carolina. Since I was raised on a farm in the country, and now live at the beach, I’ve got most areas covered with personal experiences.
We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out, both off and online?
I am fortunate in the sense that I owned and operated a Purina feed store for twenty years. Included in the daily business was advertising through radio, print, and television. So, I fully understand promoting a product. I have become very familiar with Facebook, and have designed my own website, and I am very impressed with Amazon Kindle’s huge impact and outreach. To be honest, Susan, it’s such a breath of fresh air not to need literary agents and their attitudes. Now I write what I feel a percentage of readers will enjoy, putting quotas and sales in a bottle for the next outgoing tide. For me, writing is not about fame and wealth…my goal is receiving emails with a simple ‘thank you’ from readers. In the words of Dirty Harry… ‘It makes my day’.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
I welcome everyone to catch the wave to my website: and peruse my scribblings. If they have questions, drop me an email. (Address on site.) And, if they like FB, I can be found under Lee Carey or Sandbridge Author.
Susan, thank you for allowing me to tell your readers a little about the ‘beach writer’. Have a great day and keep smilin’…

Thanks, Lee. Back at you! Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! Now pass me another beverage.