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Before I Fall
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The Dark and Hollow Places
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Stolen: A letter to my captor
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If I Stay
The Lightning Thief
My Sister's Keeper
The Love We Share Without Knowing
The Forest of Hands and Teeth
A Perfect Darkness

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Interview And Giveaway With Mary Ting Author Of Crossroads

I just want to thank you so much for being here. I am more than excited to have you. This is your second visit to After The Book and I am grateful to be able to have you back again.

How important would you say that being a reader is to being a writer? 

I am a teacher so I have to say reading makes you a better writer. For me, it helps me get my creative juice going.

Do you listen to music while writing?

I like to write without any distractions. I love to listen to music, but if I do it while I’m writing, it gets me distracted. Though, some songs pumps me up…hehe!!!

Has writing gotten easier for you now that you are published?

I think I’m more confident. Having readers ask when the sequel will come out makes me work harder.

Do you believe that the setting of your book was as vital in the telling of your story as the characters themselves were?

Very much so! I wanted to make sure to describe my dream as accurately and vividly as possible. I like to provide just enough details of the settings so that the readers can get an idea and create their own image in their minds.

How can readers relate to your characters?

I think the readers can relate to the characters in various levels. Claudia is down to earth average teenager. Though the alkins are angels, they act very much like teenagers, more so when they are on Earth.

What personality trait did you want to make sure that Michael possessed?

Romantic, protective, a bit arrogant…not too much, intelligent, someone who has a genuine good heart.

Did you model the relationship between Michael and Claudia after any real life or fictional couple?

Though I don’t like to admit it, Claudia’s character is almost just like me. I was very sheltered, didn’t know much about fashion or boys. Claudia’s first job, first car, camping and many of her experiences in the story was based on things that I did. And Michael’s character is based on my husband…hehe!!!

What if anything do you want readers to take away from Crossroads after having read it?

Claudia’s mom says, be good to those who are alive because what good is it when they are dead. I believe this to be so true. I regret not making more of an effort to visit my grandmother while she was alive. I told her that since I wasn’t working in the summer, we would have that time together. But we didn’t. She passed away the last day of school. I was devastated. Also, I’m going to sound like a parent, but… don’t forget to call and visit your parents and grandparents. Sometimes we get so busy with our lives that we tend to forget to call or visit. You may one day wish you had done it more often. Another underlying message is that life is precious so don’t take it for granted. Also, I believe we all have a destiny, a purpose in life. Embrace your destiny and let fate take its place.

If Crossroads were to ever hit the big screen, who would be your dream cast?

**Click on the character names to see more of the actors (=

Ben Barnes as Michael
Nina Debrov as Claudia
Alex Pettyfer as Davin
Megan Fox as Vivian
Chace Crawford as Caleb
Courtney Cox as Mom
Betty White as Gamma
Amanda Seyfried as Patty
Hugh Jackman as Philip
Angelina Jolie as Margaret
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Agnes
Mark Wahlberg as Aden

How much input do you have in the cover art of your book?

The cover was my idea and design. I didn’t want a face on my cover because I wanted the readers to create their own image of how the characters looked like in their minds. Also, the wings needed to be in a shape of a heart, representing Michael’s love for Claudia.

Do you think that there will ever be an audio book version of Crossroads?

I sure hope so!!!

I own a copy of Crossroads from the Xlibris publisher.  What is the difference between my copy and the World Castle copies?  

World Castle is a traditionally publisher so that version has been professionally edited. It also has some short reviews from various blogs. I also got to add my favorite quote that Davin says: Love knows no boundaries.

Readers are always looking for signed swag. Do you have any bookplates or bookmarks that they can inquire about?

I have been giving away the Swarovski heart necklace and a few hand beaded butterfly necklace that Michael gives to Claudia. You can purchase them at www.inspiredbytwilight.com

Where can readers purchase a copy of Crossroads?

Barnesand NobleAmazon, and many others internet book stores.

What format are your books sold in?

Softcover and eBooks for Nook and Kindle

Where can readers get in touch with or follow you?

Blog: www.marytingbooks.blogspot.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/crossroadsbook
Twitter: @maryting
email: thetings888@msn.com
Website: www.marytingcrossroads.com

Thank you for being with us and sharing a little bit about Crossroads and your writing.

Thank you so much for having me again!

Mary is offering an eBook copy of Crossroads to be given away here
Good luck!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Crossroads Giveaway

A New Prospect Giveaway

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Interview & Giveaway With A New Prospect Author Wayne Zurl

Thank you for taking the time to be here with us today. We are very happy that you are here to visit so that we can learn more about you, your writing and your book.

Becoming a published writer is a huge goal, when did you realize that that is what you wanted to do?

I went into writing fiction for publication virtually blind. I had no formal education in creative writing and knew nothing about the 21st century publishing business. I figured I’d write a police mystery as good or better than some of the stuff I’d recently read—how difficult could it be? I’d finish, get an agent and either sell it or not. Ha!

How long did it take you to get published?

I began writing my first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, in the summer of 2006. I received a contract to publish in August 2010. The book was released in January 2011.  Along the way, I had a few shorter novelettes produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. The first came out in 2009.

Becoming a published author is not always easy, what would you say was your biggest obstacle and how did you overcome it?

I wasted a lot of time sending query letters to agents; perhaps a dozen at a time, about a hundred in total. Most were notoriously slow in responding. More than 90% turned me down without reading one page of my book. I hired professional help to construct a good query letter and still got so many rejections, I began using extra deodorant. Then I gave up that idea and began looking for publishers who would accept submissions directly from writers. That worked for me.

Who or what has been the most instrumental person or thing to you as far as getting published?

That’s an easy answer, my wife. She’s been a great source of support and perfectly timed pep talks.

Has another author or book inspired you write a specific genre?

I knew if I would write fiction it had to be police stories. I tried writing a book about the Vietnam War and after a few chapters, I saw the language was so foul, I would have been embarrassed if my aunt read it. But that represented reality as I knew it so, I scrapped that idea.  I knew I could write about an older cop in a modern world. Guys like Robert B. Parker, James Lee Burke, and Joe Wambaugh wrote books of a caliber I’d like to achieve.

What are your favorite and least favorite genres to both write and read?

When I worked as a cop, I rarely read police stories. Now I do and like them. I also read historical novels. If I didn’t write Sam Jenkins mysteries, I think I could pull off a western. I know a lot about the old American west. Unless I did a complete spoof, I’d make a fool of myself trying to write something like science fiction. Eleven-year-old kids know more about the technicalities of that genre than I do.

I know that many authors today utilize other authors while they are writing their books as critique partners. What is your process for editing your books? Are you a part of a critique group?

When I finish a piece, my wife and sister proof read it. I give it one more look and then begin posting chapters at an on-line writer’s workshop. I’ve had great results at thenextbigwriter.com. Other writers can spot typos and nits I’d overlook because I’ve read my work too many times. Some people often make terrific suggestions to improve the narrative, too. Unfortunately, because of all the time I spend on post-publication marketing, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to reciprocate and review other people’s work.

Has writing gotten easier for you now that you are published?

I’m not sure the publishing experience has sharpened my writing as much as the natural experience/maturing process. Hearing suggestions from other writers, knowing what to look for when reading the old masters, and having what I previously thought acceptable shot to hell by others, tends to make you learn.

How long does it generally take you to write a book?

I can knock out a novelette (8,000 to 11,000 words) in two weeks. Depending on how complicated I make my story, I can do a novel (75,000 to 80,000 words) in two to three months. Then I start the workshopping process. The finished product may be what I call “ready" in five months.

Is there a book trailer for your book(s)?


Do you believe that the setting of your book was as vital in the telling of your stories as the characters themselves were?

All the Sam Jenkins stories are set in the Smoky Mountains. The locale is extremely important because of how, Sam, a guy from another culture, interacts with the locals. The people speak differently, live somewhat differently, and without them, the stories would be totally different.  Raymond Chandler made Los Angeles a unique character in his Philip Marlowe books and stories. I tried to afford the Smokies the same status.

Without giving away any spoilers, what would you say was the most challenging part of A NEW PROSPECT to write?

I gave Sam a unique position with his new life and new career. He had already “made it” once. He took the chief’s job almost reluctantly and as he says to his admin officer, Bettye Lambert, “The best part of having a job you don’t need, is not caring if you lose it. It sort of gives you the ability to flirt with pissing people off and not care much about it.” The ending is something I conjured up rather than experienced. I’d like to do the same thing if I was in his position, and I applaud him for doing it.

If you had to choose, which character in A NEW PROSPECT was your favorite to write?

Next to Sam, I think PO Bettye Lambert is my favorite character. She’s sort of an unsung hero at Prospect PD. The previous police chief was a dud—a political hack who couldn’t find his way out of a convertible if the top was up. Bettye ran the department, acted as den mother for the other eleven guys, and is just an all around good person. I knew a lot of workers like her who never got the respect they deserved. Sam’s gonna change that.

Are any of the characters in A NEW PROSPECT a direct reflection of yourself or someone you know?

Most of the characters are reflections of people I knew. Putting a face to a character helps me put a voice to them. If I can hear a character while I’m writing dialogue, I can make their voice unique to them. That’s especially helpful when doing dialogue for females.

Where and or how did you come up with the names for your characters?

Sam Jenkins was my maternal grandfather. I thought that was a good name for a fictional detective. My wife chose Kate as Sam’s wife’s name. I believe names are generally unique to specific areas. So, when we travel throughout the south, I look in phone books. I pick out interesting names, make a column for first names, one for family names, and then mix and match by sound and how they’ll fit the character’s personality.

How much input do you have in the cover art of your book(s)?

I have a lot to say about the covers that go on my audio/eBooks from Mind Wings. And they usually come up with excellent covers. I receive a few proofs to consider and comment on. Their artist is very good.  We’re currently working on a cover for my next full-length novel which will be released by Iconic Publishing. The publisher and artist and I are trying to composite all our ideas into what should be a really cool cover—something that grabs a browser’s attention.

Would you like to share any news with our readers about any upcoming books or projects?

I think I just did. A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT goes a little beyond my usual simple police story and incorporates a bit of international thriller. It’s scheduled to be out early next year. Here’s a summary:

A stipulation of the Patriot Act gave Chief Sam Jenkins an easy job; investigate all the civilians working for the Prospect Police Department. But what looked like a routine chore to the gritty ex-New York detective, turned into a nightmare. Preliminary inquiries reveal a middle-aged employee didn’t exist prior to 1975.
Murray McGuire spent the second half of his life repairing office equipment for the small city of ProspectTennessee, but the police can’t find a trace of the first half.
After uncovering nothing but dead ends during the background investigation and frustrations running at flood level, Jenkins finds his subject lying face down in a Smoky Mountain creek bed—murdered assassination-style.
By calling in favors from old friends and new acquaintances, the chief enlists help from a local FBI agent, a deputy director of the CIA, British intelligence services, and the Irish Garda to learn the man’s real identity and uncover the trail of an international killer seeking revenge in the Great Smoky Mountains.

I also have three novelettes due out shortly. V IS FOR…VITAMINS? and THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN BANK JOB as audio/eBooks from Mind Wings Audio and REENACTING A MURDER from Echelon Press as an eBook.

Which two 
of your most recent books would you say was your favorite to write and why?

I novelette called SCRAP METAL & MURDER was a lot of fun to write because I wanted to give it a hard-boiled, noir feel and sound like those post-war mysteries by Raymond Chandler. I think I did fairly well with the style. Then I throw in a typical Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe ending. I guess the readers liked it. Last quarter it made the publisher’s best seller list, with my best numbers ever.

A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT was fun because it all came from the most bizarre case I can remember, something I supervised back in the mid 1980s. It was one of those things that stressed everyone involved. We worked it and could hardly believe it.

Are there more books in the Sam Jenkins series planned?

I’ll keep knocking out the novelettes for as long as I can come up with stories I’m able to tell in 11,000 words. I also have four more novels “in the can” so to speak. After LEPRECHAUN is published, HEROES & LOVERS is next up. It’s almost ready to go to the publisher.  And I have a few chapters roughed out in another full-length book that’s sitting on my desk without a title.

How can readers relate to your characters?

I’ve read that the vast majority of people who read and buy mysteries are over fifty. So is my protagonist. I think they can relate to him and identify with his lifestyle and problems. Many of the over fifty crowd have retired and relocated to more “pension friendly” areas. That’s what Sam did. They can share thoughts of his culture shock as well as watch him solve some interesting cases.

What if anything do you want readers to take away from A NEW PROSPECT after having read it?

I’d be happy if people finished any one of my books and said, “See an old guy can still function in this modern age using the time-honored methods of the world’s great detectives. And Sam Jenkins can do that and make you laugh at the same time.”  Like some of the best cops I knew, He’s pretty humorous at times.

We already know that writing is a great love of yours; can you tell us more about your other hobbies and interest?

Barbara and I travel a lot. With travel comes photography. I learned how to use a camera at crime scenes and over dead bodies long before police departments had the hi-tech CSI units we see on TV today. Compared to police subjects, Travel and nature photography is a breeze.  And like Sam Jenkins, I have a keen interest in old British cars and cooking.

Have you come across an author recently that you feel that the rest of us book lovers should keep an eye out for?

I have yet to read the book, but my wife just finished THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. She thinks I’d love it for the story and how the author writes dialect. I trust her judgment.

Where can readers purchase a copy of A NEW PROSPECT and your other books?

And in the mystery section at: http://www.mindwingsaudio.com where they have links to many vendors.

What format are your books sold in?

A NEW PROSPECT is available in print and various eBook formats. The novelettes are produced as audio books and published as eBooks.

Where can readers get in touch with or follow you?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001483038544
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/waynezurl
Library Thinghttp://www.librarything.com/author/zurlwayne
Website: http://www.waynezurlbooks.net

Can other bloggers contact you about hosting giveaways  and interviews on their blogs?

Yes, I’d be happy to give away PDF eBooks of A NEW PROSPECT

Aside from marriage proposals, are there any types of questions that you will not answer for readers?

Who said I wouldn’t like to hear a few marriage proposals? (To my wife: Just kidding, Sweetie.)  I won’t talk about religion or politics. Most anything else is fair game.

And lastly, a question for fun.
Why is the sky blue?

Because if it were green, too many people would think a pool table was about to fall on them

Do you as an author have any questions for our readers?

What grabs you and makes you pull a book off the shelf at a library or book shop? Title? Cover? Once you pick it up, what do you look at next? Jacket summary? Endorsements? First page?

Wow, that was a great interview. Thank you for taking the time to answer all of our questions.  It was fun to have you here today.

And thank you, Lenmeo, for allowing me to speak with your readers. All the best to everyone out there.

Wayne has been gracious and offered 2 personalized copies of his eBook A New Prospect!  Thank you Wayne (-:

Book Trailer for A New Prospect By Wayne Zurl

Monday, September 19, 2011

Guest Post By A New Prospect Author Wayne Zurl

           Shortly after The Second World War I was born in Brooklyn, New York. Although I never wanted to leave a community with such an efficient trolley system, I had little to say in my parents’ decision to pick up and move to Long Island where I grew up.

           Like most American males of the baby-boomer generation, I spent my adolescence wanting to be a cowboy, soldier, or policeman. Of course, all that was based on the exciting things I saw in movies and later on television. The Vietnam War and subsequent years in the Reserves accounted for my time as a soldier.

After returning to the US and separating from active duty, the New York State Employment Service told me I possessed no marketable civilian skills. So, I became a cop. That was as close to military life as I could get. In 1972, I was appointed to the Suffolk County Police Department where I spent twenty years—thirteen of them as a section commander supervising investigators. SCPD is one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation.

            Now that I’m retired from the police service and the Army, I still like the cowboy idea, but I doubt my lower back could sustain too many hours riding the range.

            When I retired, my wife Barbara and I and our only child, an aging Scottish terrier, left New York for the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. Today we’re still in the same house we built in 1992.

            I wrote that little biographical sketch so the rest of this essay will make more sense.

            I’ll admit something about my writing up front. I have more of a memory than an imagination. So, I follow the old writer’s maxim of ‘write what you know.’ I took a retired New York detective and made him a Tennessee police chief. That way, I can cover the professional and geographical aspects with very little research.

            With the exception of a short story I wrote for a contest, which was a strange conglomeration of the old west and sci-fi; I only write police mysteries.

            Basically, I dig up old New York war stories I think are worthy of retelling, embellish them, fictionalize everything, and transplant them to Tennessee. To paraphrase Jack Webb, I change the names to protect the guilty—and keep me out of civil court.

            I don’t write autobiographical sketches, but my protagonist, Sam Jenkins, does share an uncanny number of similarities with me. At times I think he sat across the aisle from me at the police academy and followed me throughout life.

            When I retired and we moved from the metro New York area to rural East Tennessee, I experienced a drastic culture shock. I no longer worked, but I wondered if I could function as a cop in such a culturally different environment. I thought it might be fun to drop a guy like Sam Jenkins into that can of worms and write about his adventures. So, thanks to me being his Dr. Watson, Sam begins his second law enforcement career as a classic, literary fish out of water—or as I call it, a pork chop at a bar mitzvah, at his little police force of only twelve other people—a big contrast to his former department of three thousand sworn officers and more than five hundred civilians.

            Sam is, what we in the police business call, a dinosaur. He’s old school, having started out on the tail end of the wild and wooly days. He always struggles to remember the world has changed and although he hasn’t, he must.

            So far readers have liked Sam. A couple reviewers have said he’s their new favorite character. Hearing that made me happy. One of his endearing qualities is that he’s a user. You’re probably asking, why that would be endearing. If one of his colleagues or acquaintances helps him get a job done after he’s unabashedly asked them for a favor, he’ll put himself forever in their debt. Once Sam Jenkins is on your hook, you don’t need too many other friends.

            So, if you want to know if a sixty-year-old ex-New York cop can function in Southern Appalachia, if Prospect, Tennessee will ever be the same after Sam Jenkins takes the helm at their police department, and if he can survive his mid-life crisis, I encourage you to pick up a copy of A NEW PROSPECT or any one of my other Sam Jenkins Smoky Mountain mysteries.
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