Sunday, November 18, 2012

Author Interview - Meet James Garcia, Jr.

I am absolutely thrilled to have James Garcia, Jr. on my blog. James (Jimmy as he is known to his friends and fans) has recently released the second book in his Dance on Fire series – Flash Point. I just finished reading the first book, Dance on Fire, and Jimmy was kind enough to agree to let me pick his brain. As usual, check out the links after the interview to see how you can keep in touch with Jimmy and where you can buy his books.

Q. Classic vampire stories are filled with religion and good versus evil – fighting off creatures of the night with crosses and holy water. Many current vampire stories have gotten away from that somewhat, focusing on action and romance. What inspired you to make religion such an intricate part or your story?

A. Originally, I “thought” I was writing a crime thriller. It was a shock to me when a vampire stepped out of the shadows in a scene very early on. Even back in the late 80’s and early 90’s when I first began writing Dance on Fire, I felt that the vampire market was saturated (little did we know). *laughs* With that in mind, I felt I needed to have an angle that would make my take on vampires stand out. I chose to use Christianity as that difference. I never was a big fan on the subject. I’ve always been more of a serial killer/ghost story/haunted house kind of horror fan.

Q. I thought you did a great job integrating in into your story. You said you started writing back in the late 80’s. Did it take that long to write it or did you take breaks?

A. I started writing while in junior high school. I wrote my first novellas and short stories while in high school. It was in junior college, however, when I first began writing Dance on Fire. I continued to write the book after marriage, career and children, but it became increasingly difficult. Eventually, I wasn’t really writing at all. I attempted to kick-start my writing at several points during my late 20’s and early 30’s, but it wasn’t until turning 38 years old that I really began to understand the level of regret that I was facing. I suppose one could say that it was all God’s perfect timing. In any event, I dusted off the manuscript and saw it to completion.

Q. Well, I’m glad you did. I really enjoyed Dance on Fire. The relationship between your vampires, Nathaniel and Vincent, is very complicated. It is more than just control. What drives Vincent to pursue Nathaniel the way he does?

A. That’s a good question. Perhaps we’ll never know why Vincent went to so much trouble to keep young Nathaniel and then to attempt to win him over. It certainly wasn’t a good idea. He tried many different tactics. Even in the end he was still trying.

Q. They are great characters. I’m looking forward to the second book. What has been your biggest challenge as a self published author?

A. Probably the down times. Writing the book and going through the editing process is a lot of work. Preparing it for publication is not fun, but there are many avenues for getting assistance, including so many wonderful people in the writing community who offer to help or promote. What is hard are the moments where the obstacles feel simply too big to overcome. Thankfully, the writer’s community is helpful and supportive with that too. It’s not an easy life to choose – being a writer.

Q. I agree. Finding time to write, edit, blog, manage social media and promoting can be overwhelming. What has been you favorite part of self publishing?

A. I think my favorite part about self-publishing is the sense of satisfaction one gets from accomplishing goals ourselves. Now, having said that, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the help I have received along the way. From the beta reader who went well out of her way to assist me in editing my latest book; to the other authors who provided tips to formatting; to the wonderful people – many of whom volunteered – to help me promote my work. Now, my favorite part about writing has been all of the wonderful people in our community who I love and adore for being so supportive and wonderful. If this ride ever comes to an end, I would be more worried about the friendships than I would about my writing.

Q. I feel the same way. I love the supportive community of indie authors and the relationships I have made. Including meeting you! So what’s next for you? Are you working on another writing project(s)?

A. With my limited time, I’m currently focusing on promotion for my vampire series. During the holidays, however, I will begin working on the second draft of a novel I wrote this past spring. It’s a ghost story which is the closest thing to a paranormal romance I have ever attempted. I am very excited to get back into it, but I need to do some very dark research before getting restarted that I am in no way excited to begin. There’s an occult element which needs to be fleshed out as of yet. I also want to produce paperbacks for my two ebooks. I need to get into that first so I can have something to see locally.

Q. I remember reading about that ghost story on your blog, and it sounded really good. Let’s switch gears to some fun questions. Do you have a particular writing ritual (specific place, music, drink, etc.) that helps you get in the writing zone?

A. It depends on the day of the week. The fourth bedroom is now the teenagers’ X-box game room. If it’s a weekend, nothing beats Saturday morning at 8:00am when the house is quiet. You’ll find me in the dining room with coffee at my side. If the house is active, then I might still be seated there, but with classical music on the headphones. During the week, you’ll find me standing before my trusty laptop at my bedroom dresser. I like an adult beverage in the evening, but not if I’m writing. I save that for networking. *evil grins*

Q. If Dance on Fire were turned into a movie, what would the theme song be for the soundtrack, and who would you cast as your main characters?

A. You mean after I penned my two-week notice? *laughs* I’m really terrible at these kinds of questions, I’m afraid. I think the big problem is I have lived with the characters for over twenty years, so I only see their faces. I’ve really never seen any actor in my mind’s eye.

*Laughs* I will give you a pass on that question. I feel the same way about my characters. Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview!!

You can connect with James Garcia, Jr. on

His blog
Twitter @danceauthor

Check out his books on Amazon

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Poetry Spotlight - Ben Ditmars

As I have said before, poetry is my first love. I am always on the lookout for good poets to share with you. I recently met Ben Ditmars on Facebook and became an instant fan of his poetry. Ben was kind enough to agree to share some of this work on my blog. Check out the links at the end to see where you can get Ben's books and how to keep in touch with him. Now, it is my pleasure to introduce Ben Ditmars.

Hello and thank you to Michelle Franco for letting me share some poetry on her blog.  I was hooked after reading River Jordan’s and her amazing sonnet.

I’m an author myself.  I write a broad range of things; fiction, poetry, plays and I draw gnomes for my friends.  The last one is not necessarily writing related but a fun bit of info.  I’m a random kind of guy.

Poetry however is my favorite.  It’s my guilty pleasure.  I feel freest writing it.  There’s something about the raw expression and honesty I can’t get enough of.  Primarily, I write observational pieces about myself and things around me.  I try to interpret the mundane and complex.  I’m not always a deep thinker but I try to explain deep things in ways that make sense to me.

Lately, I’ve been writing Haiku for an upcoming book, Haiku in the Night, that should be finished in the next few months.  I thought I would share selections from it.

Kiss my lips, phantom;
fill them with your mystery
and leave me the stars.

Beyond the sunset
Silhouettes of us hold hands
The past forgotten.

The tree knows one home
For its entire lifetime;
Dying if it moves.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us Ben!

You can connect with Ben on 

Twitter: @benditty  

Check out Ben's published works:


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Author Interview - Meet Deborah Palumbo

I met author Deborah Palumbo on Goodreads, and we immediately hit it off. We got a kick out of the fact that we had both picked the same background for our blogs. Obviously, she has good taste. We also share an interest in the paranormal genre, so we decided to trade off interviews. You can read her interview of me here. In addition to the paranormal genre, she also writes historical and mystery novels. Please check out the links to her work at the end of the interview.

First of all, I want to thank you Michelle for having me on your blog. I'm really glad to be here with you and your friends.

Q: What/Who inspired you to become writer?

I wasn't actually "inspired" by any event or person. The inspiration was internal; something I was born with. I always had desire to write, ever since I was a kid.

Q: You have written books in several different genres. What is your favorite and why?

I have 9 books total on amazon, ebook and paperback, and yes, there are a few different genres, so there's something for everybody! Anyway, I said this before. I must be a multi personality, LOL, because I love writing in each of these genres and not sure I could say which is my favorite. I can say however, that whatever book or genre I'm writing at a particular time, they're all laced with mystery, that's the key to my stories, and there's always an element of romance, if not a full blown, fire burning out of control romance!

Q: Have you considered adding another genre to your list? If so, what would it be?

No, paranormal, mystery, historical is it for me; although I have toyed around with the idea of a fantasy book, and in fact, last year I wrote a plot down and scribbled a few characters down too. We'll see if the inspiration evolves on that one!

One of my mystery books though is a crime noir with a vintage detective entitled When the Temperature Rises, The Detective McAllister series. I guess it's a subgenre within mystery. Book 2 is a WIP! I love this series as much as The Undeparted series, and can't wait to release this book.

Q: I really enjoyed The Undeparted. You take an interesting approach in that series. The main characters (vampires) want to become human again in book 2, The Ascent of the Undeparted, and seek forgiveness for their crimes. What inspired that twist in your story?

I'm not certain I can always pinpoint why I've gone down a certain path or took a twist, but I've been told it's an original series, and that's good! Anyway, to answer your question as best I can, Quentin was in transition emotionally and spiritually when he met and fell in love with Cassandra; having been one of the highest fallen angels, he finally recognized after ions that he should get right with the creator of the universe, and furthermore, since Cassandra was so virtuous and good, he feared for her soul in the event she'd be killed in her vampire state in which case she'd spiral downwards to the bowels of hell; he couldn't allow that. He really felt she deserved to meet God, hence The Ascent of the Undeparted! Book 3 is being released late this month; it's called The Banished One.

Q: Tell us about your newest book – The Banished One.

The Banished One is about a killer vampire who was in The Ascent of the Undeparted, who is wreaking havoc on a sleepy town, is having sexual escapades, and the lieutenant (a new character) who is pursuing him. Lieutenant Welby is a staunch disbeliever in vampires but not for long. A series of preternatural events convinces him that vampires really do exist. He follows the old town rumors about vampires right up to Quentin and his gothic castle to enlist Quentin's aid because Welby knows he can't defeat a vampire; he needs an immortal to do the battle. Question is will Quentin help out? Will Quentin battle the serial killer vampire who by the way had captured Cassandra in the past and is a constant threat to her wellbeing?
The book is for readers 18+ for some spicy love scenes. See it's more than just a mystery; it's laced with romance. The vampires really spice things up in this book!

Q: You co-wrote a screenplay with the actor/writer Jordan Rhodes. What was that experience like?

I was thrilled that Jordan Rhodes asked me to co-write his screenplay entitled McCabe and Little Jessie. He's a really great and talented man. He read and reviewed my novel Edge of Darkness, that's how we met, and how and why I was asked to co-write with him. We hope to begin a production company in which I'd be the writer. We hope that at least a few of my novels will make it to the screen. 

Fun Questions:

Q: Favorite 70’s song?

 Oh my; there are too many to mention, but I LOVE the Bee Gees! In fact I love seventies music in general! It's what I listen to.

Q: Favorite board game?

Scrabble; also like Monopoly and Parcheesi

Q: Favorite snack/drink while writing?

Sorry but I don't snack!

Q: Most creative time of the day?

There isn't a particular time of the day when I'm most creative. I of course write during the day as a norm, but believe me, there have been many nights and in the middle of the night and at 4AM when I've been absolutely inspired and have to at least jot down the thoughts storming my brain!

Q: Favorite movie?

Sense and Sensibility.

Q: What are you currently reading?

I'm reading Jodie Pierce's The Vampire Chronicles, Mae Clair Weathering Rock.

Thanks so much for these great questions Michelle! I really enjoyed answering them and spending time with you!

Deborah Palumbo

Thank you for doing this interview, Deborah! Best of luck to you with your writing and getting that production company up and running. I would love to see some of your books on the big screen!

Get your copy of The Undeparted and check out Deborah Palumbo's other books here.

You can connect with Deborah on

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Amazon Flexing Its Muscles - Reviews and Royalties

Amazon’s recent removal of book reviews has become a hot topic among authors and readers alike. One of my fellow authors complained on Facebook about some of her missing reviews before I had heard anything about it. I felt terrible for her. I know how hard it is to try to get reviews, and to have even one removed can be devastating. The next day, I noticed that I was missing several reviews as well. Then many other authors started complaining, and we all turned to Amazon for answers, but there were none to be had.

Over the last few days, I have learned a little about this issue from reading and talking to other writers. Apparently, with all of the attention brought about by possible “fake” reviews, a group of authors got together and sent a message to Amazon called No Sock PuppetsOn this blog, they asserted that authors (namely one guy) were misusing the review process by using multiple accounts to leave good reviews for themselves.

In a knee-jerk reaction attempt to address this issue, Amazon went through and nuked a bunch of legitimate reviews in an effort to get rid of the possible suspicious ones. Several other authors have written blogs about the incident including Amazon heavy hitter, J. A. Konrath. I really loved his blog and the information it contained (read it here). I’m also glad that he wrote to the powers that be at Amazon because they have blown off the rest of us peons and our requests for explanations and help. Hopefully, they will listen to him since he does have some influence in the world of Amazon. Konrath also states that some of the reviews he has written for other authors have been removed because Amazon is apparently cracking down on authors reviewing “competitors’” books.

I read another good blog by Ryan Casey (read it here). Ryan points out the obvious - good reviews sell books. And, while this move by Amazon will not affect big name writers like Stephen King due to the sheer number of reviews he has, it can be devastating to indie authors.

Derek Blass has started a petition to request that Amazon stop arbitrarily removing reviews. I urge everyone to sign it here. This policy not only hurts writers, but it removes the voice of readers who want to share their views.

Another Amazon rumor that has been brought to my attention is the royalty policy. Currently, self published authors get 70% for books priced at $1.99 or above (depending on the market it is purchased in). In the new Amazon India store, only authors who are enrolled in the KDP Select plan are allotted the 70% royalty. Other authors receive 35%. If it is successful, it is likely they will institute it in the other markets as well. Read more about it in this blog by my friend and fellow author Thomas Amo (read it here).

Currently, I’m in the KDP Select program, but I was going to stop after my initial 90 day period. However, I didn’t realize I was signed up in the automatic re-enrollment program. Amazon kindly imprisoned me for another 90 days. To be fair, I was with Barnes and Noble before joining KDP Select and the majority of my sales came from Amazon even before I joined – a large majority.

I truly hope that Barnes and Noble and other outlets like Smashwords and Kobo (to name a few) can find a way to compete with Amazon. I wanted to leave KDP Select to support some of these other venues because they cannot pose a threat to Amazon without author and reader support. 

Sort of gives a whole new meaning to their catch phrase: