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From Author To Screenwriter: Tips For Taking your Books To Hollywood With Huss McClain
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*Is Revived your first book?
*How do feel about writing your first book?
I feel… satisfied. In the beginning this book was just something to keep me busy. It turned into so much more than that. I fell in love with writing and creating this world and these amazing characters. Now, I can’t imagine my life without it. It was 2 years ago this month that I began writing Revived. There has been a lot of sacrifice, rejection, and hard work to get to this point but I wouldn’t change a thing. I just finished my second round of editing which means I’m so close to seeing it in print and no other word describes how I feel better than satisfied.
*How do you personally benefit from writing?
Writing is a distraction, an outlet to channel my imagination and creativity. Writing has seen me at my worst, and at my best. There’s no judgement or expectation and I thrive when I’m in that safe place. Some days I question my sanity, I created these characters from scratch and now I speak about them as if they’re real. Nothing like a little crazy to keep things interesting! But mostly, I write because I love it.
*Have you ever cried while writing?
Yes I have. I’m a very emotional person so there are many different reasons I’ve cried while writing. A song from my writing playlist that fits perfectly with a scene can make me tear up. Out of frustration—this happens more than I like to admit. I’m so attached to these characters that killing one of them is absolutely gut wrenching and cry-worthy for sure.
*What is the Imagination to you?
The imagination to me is the ability to step outside of yourself, to challenge the rules society has demanded we follow and embrace our creative side. The imagination allows us to be free. It gives us the ability to dream.
*Tell us about who Swayzi is.
Swayzi is someone you’ll root for, she’s relatable, loveable, and so unaware of how amazing she is. When you first meet her, she’s in an impossible situation. She has been given 2 months to live and a huge part of her wants to give up. You start with her at her absolute lowest and follow her on a journey of discovering her self-worth. She finds love, experiences betrayal and heartbreak, but the most important and defining part of the book, well—you’ll have to read it to find out!
*What does she want the most?
Swayzi loves her family more than anything and would do anything to protect them. I would say their safety is her first priority. Beyond that, what she wants most is to shed all the insecurities, and doubt, and embrace her fate on her terms.
*Who are Daylan and Tyler?
Tyler is and always will be my favourite character to write. He is without a doubt the heart of this story. A quote from the book describes him best: “Tyler was glaringly human. He would hold my hand during the scary parts of a horror movie, not for me, but for him. He felt pain, I could see it written all over his face when I was sick. He was constantly digging himself a hole, never saying the right thing at the right time. He was simply imperfect, flawed even, but that’s what made him—him.”
Daylan is quite the opposite of Tyler. He is eloquent and knows exactly who he is and what he wants. He is the epitome of tall, dark and handsome and of course, very mysterious. Daylan has answers to questions Swayzi didn’t even know she had. Tyler may be the heart of this story, but Daylan drives it.
*When is the publication date for Revived?
Publication date is not official yet but it will be August or September. There’s a ton happening behind the scenes right now, cover design, release date, and some exciting extras that will be announced very soon. Keep an eye on my social media!
Jenna Morland is the author of Revived published by Oftomes Publishing, set to release in 2018. Jenna is a Canadian born author, song writer, and mother of two that lives under the Northern Lights. Slytherin to the core, Jenna’s ambition to write her debut novel happened somewhere between training for a triathlon and putting her kids to bed. But it was her determination to follow through that landed her a publishing deal. Growing up, her wild imagination thrived off of reading and her most desired hobby was to let a book completely consume her. Unlike most writers, Jenna never wrote in a diary. She dreaded English class and she never dreamt that one day she would write a novel. Until she did.
Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts.
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to question all she believes. For the warrior tells her an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling birds of prey are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for . . .
*Where are you originally from?
I’m from New Jersey originally (and proudly!) and have lived in New York City for about a decade.
I was briefly in Camden, NJ once, and have been in New York once. Greetings from Ohio!
*What influences early in life led you to become a writer?
I originally wanted to be a historian, but I’ve always been a bookworm and read widely since I was a child. I dabbled in fan-fiction a bit as a teenager, but The City of Brass was my first real effort at writing!
That’s amazing. Your writing is impeccable. I’m still reading this and definitely will be reviewing it.
*How did you develop a love for history?
I’ve loved history since I was pretty young; I was a fan of those big Eyewitness books on the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians and also used to just straight-up read encyclopedias. I narrowed in on the late antique/early medieval Islamic world while in high school, and that’s been my interest ever since.
I love what you’ve created with the City of Brass. Your knowledge and love for history bleeds through the pages pretty easily. I’ve never been exposed to that part of history so it feels like an adventure!
*Why did you choose to write in 18th century Cairo?
I pulled a lot of the details for the magical world from earlier history, particularly the Abbasid’s, but I wanted to start in 18th century Cairo for a few reasons.
1) I wanted to explore the history of medicine and there were a lot of developments at this time.
2) A lot of the book has to do with occupation and setting it at the start of Western colonialism in Egypt seemed appropriate, and
3) I knew a Napoleon reference in the first chapter would help orient some readers unfamiliar with the history!
Nice. Very interesting!
*What are the core elements of epic fantasy?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer that, but in my opinion, only that it be epic. I’m not much of a stickler for the rules. I’ve read palace intrigues set in cosmopolitan cities and journey tales across oceans, and I think they all work under the definition.
Good enough for me–and your book is EPIC.
*Tell us some things you enjoyed researching the City of Brass.
Scandals in the Abbasid court! Between jealous poets, scheming wazirs, and powerful queen mothers, it’s all a delight to read.
Scandals seem to be everywhere I’m not surprised.
*When is the next book of the trilogy due?
Fairly soon. Fingers crossed, we’ll have it out next year!
Awesome. I just added it to my Goodreads.
S. A. Chakraborty is a speculative fiction writer from New York City. Her debut, THE CITY OF BRASS, is the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy set in the 18th century Middle East and will be published in November 2017 by Harper Voyager. When not buried in books about Mughal portraiture and Omani history, S. A. enjoys hiking, knitting, and cooking unnecessarily complicated meals for her family. You can find her online at www.sachakraborty.com or on Twitter (@SChakrabs) where she likes to ramble about history, politics, and Islamic art.
The most secretive organization in America operates without accountability to the American people. Hiding in the shadows, pretending to be part of the United States Government, its power is beyond measure. Control of this organization has just been lost and the future of the nation has been thrust into peril.
When the five candidates being considered to head this mysterious agency suddenly go missing, covert counter-terrorism operative, Scot Harvath is summoned to Washington and set loose on the most dangerous chase ever to play out on American soil. But as the candidates begin turning up murdered, the chase becomes an all-too-public spectacle with every indicator suggesting that the plot has its roots in a shadowy American cabal founded in the 1700’s.
With the United States on the verge of collapse, Harvath must untangle a web of conspiracy centuries in the making and head off the greatest threat America has ever seen.
Brad has a way of making each thriller compelling and full of intrigue every time. Scot Harvath is one of my favorite operatives of the spy thriller literary world. When the nation is in a bind who wouldn’t send in Harvath? No brainer right?
While this isn’t my favorite thriller of the series, it still packs a quite a punch in the entertainment department. In the midst of the *save the nations* plot, there’s the dynamic relationship between Harvath and a unique Boston homocide detective. She’s bold, brilliant, determined and won’t take no for an answer. Just the right gal for a lone ranger like Harvath.
I’m plugging right along in this series to the next book, Act of War.
I’m seriously trying to catch up before the newest title, Use of Force, is released June 27, 2017. After Act of War, I’ll have to finish Code of Conduct and Foreign Agent, then will be caught up.
Federal prosecutor Jeff Trask is summoned to a murder scene. A Park Police officer has been brutally murdered at the Lincoln Memorial. As Trask and a team of local and federal investigators try to find the killer, more police officers are murdered. While attending the funeral for one of these victims, Trask and his team find themselves in a firefight with a cell of radical Islamic terrorists. Disqualified because of his involvement at the scene at Arlington National Cemetery, Trask is reassigned to Washington D.C.’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, where he discovers that the firefight at Arlington was only part of a bigger and much more sinister plot to bomb that threatens the entire eastern seaboard.
I was immediately drawn into this story from the beginning with a heinous crime committed against the ambassador of San Salvador. From there, every line, jot and tittle unravels layer upon layer until you reach the end. the level of detail is not only remarkable, but entertaining and relevant to the storyline.
The distinct effect of this book, as well as the others in the Jeff Trask Crime drama, bear a particular flavor. Marc Rainer a former Federal prosecutor has a working knowledge of law enforcement personnel at every level. Including intelligence, FBI, CIA, investigators, counterterrorism, Washington D.C, U.S. Attorney relations, and Police forces. It’s like the old Prego commercial theme “It’s all in there”.
Having said all of that, the book carried a unique ‘flavor’ to it unlike others I’ve read. It has more realism within it’s pages but not a boring kind of realism. It was still fascinating and kept me turning the pages!
The author really does an excellent job portraying a sense of family among the main characters. They really appreciate one another, play offer each others strength, and truly work as a team. The heroism of Jeff Trask was more balanced within the team approach, which I believe, had a nice impact.
Winter of Wolves had all the necessary ingredients for an entertaining read, including humor. You won’t be disappointed!
*Are you originally from Northern Virginia?
Yes, born in raised in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, outside of DC.
I‘ve never been to northern Virginia before.
*What do you do currently in your occupation?
I’m a Communications Associate for The Kennedy Forum, a mental health advocacy non-profit founded by Patrick Kennedy – his book, A Common Struggle, is a great read if you haven’t checked it out yet!
Nice. Thanks for the book recommendation!
*Did you have a childhood fascination with fairy tales? Tell us about it and your all time favorites.
I don’t think it’s so much fairy tales, but just darker stories in general. I loved Alice In Wonderland, of course, and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe. Not your average childhood reads, but I think I had such an idyllic childhood that the dark and edgy stories captured my interest.
That makes sense. I’ve read some of Poe’s work, but now enough.
*What genre do you write?
Fiction. Leaning toward the magical surrealist side. I think the creative possibilities there are endless, and that intrigues me.
Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
*Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I read a quote recently that said something like look to your childhood passions to see where your life calling lies. I’ve always written, and I think when I reached an age where you start to question what you want to do, becoming an author seemed like a natural goal for me.
I love that quote!
*Where did you go to school? Major?
I went to Boston College and majored in Communications. I wrote Meditations In Wonderland there my last semester.
Wow. That sounds like a major feat. Penning a novel in your last semester of college is remarkable.
*What led you to write Meditations in Wonderland? Your premise looks pretty intriguing.
Thank you! I grew up loving Alice In Wonderland, and I was inspired by the dark tones it took on over the years as my generation grew with the story. From that landscape my story manifested itself in my mind over a few years, primarily starting when I studied abroad in London, saw Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript and visited Oxford, through to my senior year of college when I finally wrote it. It’s been called “Pretty Little Liars meets Alice In Wonderland.”
Never been to Oxford, but Cambridge is beautiful.
*Would it be classified as a psychological thriller?
I can definitely see an argument for that. As a dark Alice In Wonderland retelling I think no one would dispute that. It definitely has a lot of thriller-esque scenes and notes of magical surrealism. And, of course, a little nonsense.
It’s amazing to see what different authors are able to craft with their imagination.
*Tell us a little about the main character.
Elizabeth is 24, and she lives in Brooklyn and works as an interior designer in the city. I think many people can relate to the themes she’s struggling with – confronting and acknowledging the darker sides of herself, struggling with mental static and getting lost in the noise. In a sense she has to reclaim herself after giving in to a pattern of self-destructive behavior. She meditates, falls down the rabbit hole, and the rest is history.
Wow. Makes me want to know more about her.
You’re a writer; so whats your story, or what inspired you?
I don’t think I can pinpoint a single moment when I decided that I would be a writer – I’ve always just written, and then I couldn’t separate myself from the act of writing, it always felt a part of me. I used to carry around a composition notebook in elementary school that housed my first “novel,” scribbled in mechanical pencil between classes and after school, and eventually I graduated to my MacBook in college on which I wrote the manuscript for Meditations In Wonderland my last semester at Boston College. In terms of inspiration, I just follow that internal whisper that compels me to return to the blank page time and time again.
Keep following that internal whisper. And when you don’t hear it, write anyway.
What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?
Having my writing published has always been the “ultimate” goal for me, and I think many writers can relate to that, however I think a more realistic goal is just to keep writing, to keep the process alive. The hardest part about writing, in truth, is the act of sitting down to write in the first place. If I can cultivate and keep my writing practice going, that’s a goal in itself that I think leads to the more penultimate dream of having your work published.
YES. I love this. The more realistic goal is to keep writing. I struggle with having consistent writing time so I completely understand this. The ‘butt in chair’ is the only way.
What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
Timing, spaces, and disconnect. As for the first, why is it when you’re about to shut your eyes and fall asleep, warm under the covers, does your muse begin to speak? I think mine might be a sadist in that way. So the first conflict for me is the timing of writing, capturing what I need to capture often against difficult circumstances for doing so, like commuting, unplugging for a night’s sleep, or while on a run. As for the second, my writing practice benefits from having a clean, creative space to work in with minimal distractions from my “to do” list, which is probably why I wrote my first novel out of my home in a local Barnes & Noble. Last, disconnect is often a gatekeeper I grapple with. Either feeling disconnected from the story, from myself, from my creative process, or just from the voice that compels me to pick up where I left off. Some days you’re just not “feeling it,” so to speak, and I think writers can all commiserate there. The goal is to at least try to make sure two out of the three are at bay on any given day to try to make writing happen, and keep it cohesive!
The writing process is so mysterious to me. Not sure if you’ve read Anne Janzer’s book , The Writing Process, but I was greatly helped by it.
What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
If the story needs to be told, I’ll continue to tell it. When I don’t feel that ache in my bones to keep writing, I’ll stop, but I still have that voice that refuses to stop whispering.
Stories are great and equally mysterious.
What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
Aren’t all of the best antagonists just reflections of ourselves, or our greatest fears? The fear that any next novel wouldn’t live up to the first, or that those new daring stylistic choices won’t engage the reader the way we hoped they would – we all have our dragon at that gate. For me, it’s scales are green, shiny, and coated with that existential “if I finish this, I have to turn it over to the business side of things” doubts. Writing is the fun part, but I think it’s important to embrace every part of the process, even the parts that we might rather procrastinate in facing.
Well spoken. It’s always a constant battle. Let’s keep at it, shall we?
Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?
I think leaving a project is a very personal choice, so the reasons could be many. The best reason is probably because the project no longer feels authentic, which I think is a noble reason to step away, and faced with the same reality I hope I have the courage to do the same if it frees me up for the better project waiting in the shadows!
Seeing the next project is always tempting!
What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?
Take your time away, if you need it, and return to it when you feel compelled, nagged, and eaten away to resume. Because then you’ll really enjoy it, and your reader will feel that, too.
For me, it’s a gut feeling. If I stop, then it returns begging to be written.
BONUS: What else do you have coming down the pike?
I’ve been playing around with a sequel to my next novel, loosely based off of Through The Looking Glass, as Meditations In Wonderland was loosely based of Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.
Keep us posted on the release date!
And the brains behind Promo Day a FREE annual online event for people in the publishing industry. Mark you calendar! The next event is Saturday May 6th 2017. #PromoDay2017. Please see Promoday.net for more info.
*What part of England are you from?
This is actually a tough question for me. I was born in Gillingham but never actually lived there. I moved around a lot as a kid so the most truthful answer here would have to be ‘the South’. When I think of my ‘home’ in the UK, I tend to think of Kent, and Berkshire.
I would love to take a grand tour the UK one day.
*What’s it like living in Rome, Italy?
I love it here. I came for 3 days back in 2001 and ended up staying (it was actually a lot easier to do than a lot of people think). Anyway, to cut a long story short, I’m now married to an Italian and together we have two sons.
I love how much history and art is just scattered around here. Not just the big tourist stuff you find in the centre either. In fact, in the centre, there is so much there that you can walk by ancient monuments and not really notice them.
This is a photo I took when I took my kids for a walk in a local park.
I bet it’s very scenic!
That’s part of an ancient roman aqueduct just sat there in the field. There were also parts of the old cobble roads in places. Made for a great history lesson for my boys, and was really beautiful.
*Have you been to the Vatican?
One of my first jobs here was at a hostel very close to the Vatican so I know the area well. I’ve been to St. Peters several times. It’s just as impressive on the third or fourth visit as it was on the first. There is so much to see in there. I notice things I didn’t previously every time I go.
I’d better put this one on the bucket list!
*You wear many different hats, which one do you enjoy most?
I love all of my jobs. My favourite varies depending on my mood. I’ve got a creative soul and so I’m always working on something; whether it’s writing a book, illustrating, or doing graphic design.
You are truly a multi-talented person.
*Can you tell us about some of the books you have written?
I started out with non fiction books about Italy; Italian for Tourists, which is an Italian-English phrasebook, and A Guide To Weddings In Italy.
I’ve also published children’s picture story books; Out and About at the Zoo, Fairy May, and The Box.
Then there are my other non fiction books; my award winning Virtual Book Tours: Effective Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home, and How to be Twittertastic.
I’m currently working on more non fiction and some more children’s books, plus some novels (romance, and thrillers).
When you have a book release let me know, I’d love to help!
*How did you get into illustrating book covers?
I started designing book covers just for fun in the beginning. I love playing around with photoshop and illustrator. A few friends said they really liked my designs and suggested that I add cover design to my list of services.
As I’m used to making my own covers for both digital and print I know exactly what an author needs. The right book cover can make all the difference when it comes to sales.
That’s so true!
*Tell us about the benefits of your website writersandauthors.info.
I started Writers and Authors back in 2006. I was just starting out in my writing career and thought it would be a good way to share my experiences, and learn from other authors at the same time.
The website has evolved a lot over the years and picked up numerous awards along the way. It’s turned into a real community for people in the writing/publishing industry, and often gets mentioned on other websites in their ‘Top sites lists”.
I offer writers the opportunity to be featured on the website and promote their books. Interviews, guest posts, book showcases, and excerpts. I’m an avid reviewer and so feature those on site too. There are also advertising options available.
Authors can have their books listed in the online bookstore too. It gives them more free publicity for their books (something us authors love ;)), and as I’m an Amazon affiliate, gain a little pocket money for me.
I work directly with authors, but also with PR companies, agents, and publishers. I love how the website allows me to connect with people from all parts of the publishing industry.
Put this one on your blogroll folks! Lots of great material and resources.
*How did Promo day get started?
There were lots of online writers conferences but none that dealt with the marketing side of things so I created one.
Promo Day started out as a small event in a chatroom that I used to host on my author website. It turned out to be a huge success and so grew into an annual event with it’s own branding at http://www.promoday.net/
Can’t wait to tell people about this. Sounds great!
*What are the benefits of participating in Promo day?
Promo Day is a whole day dedicated to promoting, networking, and learning. It’s completely free to attend and everyone is welcome. All you need to do is register on the website.
There are; webinars with industry experts, forums where you can connect with other attendees and discover promotional opportunities, and pitch sessions with publishers. Publishers take pitches during the event and get back to you the same day to let you know if they are interested or not. No waiting for weeks, or even months for a reply.
There are a lot of social activities throughout the day too. Activities are announced in the event forums, so you can put what you learn in the webinars into action straight away. You can join in a LIVE Twitterchat, or Facebook chat. You can even get interviewed about your book, or join in a LIVE video discussion streamed to YouTube. Promo Day teaches you how to build your author brand and market your books, helps you make connection in the publishing industry, and gives you opportunities to put your new skills in action so you can start seeing instant results.
Wow. Sounds really fun.
*How do you personally benefit from Promo day?
Organising an event like Promo Day is a huge amount of work but I love it. It’s enabled me to make lots of new connections within the industry, and helped establish my own author brand.
There are sponsorship opportunities available that help cover the costs of putting the event together. Every year I come away with invitations to be hosted on websites, and always note an increase in sales of my own books following the event. The event has also lead to numerous collaborations and other business projects.
Lovely. This is very beneficial is many ways. I’m so glad you started it!
Please welcome Jennifer Irwin author of A Dress the Color of the Sky. The film rights have been sold and the book isn’t even published yet! Wowsers! That’s pretty impressive if I say so myself.
Have you written anything before this book?
No. This is my first novel.
How did you come to teach Pilates?
I retired from working in advertising after my third son was born but still wanted to work part time. I enjoy helping women feel better about themselves and teaching Pilates was a great avenue to fulfill that desire. I have really enjoyed getting to know all sorts of women through being a Pilates teacher.
There is something very fulfilling being able to help others. I’m glad found something that works for you!
How has writing this book help you heal?
Writing is a great creative outlet. I found that the more I put my characters into difficult situations the better I felt. I also enjoyed creating wonderful female friendships for my protagonist, Prudence Aldrich. Women bond through sharing life experiences and it was healing for me to develop female characters who were super supportive of each other.
I find that very interesting. That does sound very healing, in a creative kind of way. Love it.
How can this book help others heal?
A Dress the Color of the Sky is the story of a woman healing from a traumatic childhood. After seeing the astounding response to Kelly Oxford’s tweet about her sexual assault experience I am confident that this story will speak to many women. We are all stronger than we believe and we can’t let difficult experiences ruin our lives. It’s important to heal from the past in order to move forward and lead a healthy, happy life. Healing takes work but with the help of a professional it is possible. Prudence had not dealt with her traumatic childhood and as a result she could not seek out healthy relationships nor could she respect herself.
Several of these statements really resonate on many levels. I believe healing is critical to our going forward in life. There are a few things I’m still healing from myself. Thank you!
What was your response when you realized the story resonated with women?
Over the past few years I have sought input from test readers. I searched for women whom I believed might not choose a novel like mine. One woman in particular was a senior in college and a pre-professional zoology major. I can honestly say that her review is one of my favorites because I was so surprised by how much my book affected her. She not only couldn’t put it down but the story really spoke to her. Honestly, I can’t wait to share it with the world!
That’s awesome! It has to be the most rewarding experience knowing that your words have affected someone the way it did. I’m jealous 🙂
Is it true the rights have been sold for movie production?
Yes! I have sold the feature film rights and A Dress the color of the sky will be made into a major motion picture.
SWEEEEEEETTTT!!!!! I’m so happy for you. You must’ve been thrilled to hear that. I’m thrilled myself and it isn’t even my book!
Tell us about your motivation to get your book published.
When I first started querying agents I literally had no idea what I was doing. I do believe that there are a lot of people out there who will take advantage of an author who is chasing their dream. I encourage all authors to be very careful. My first conundrum was writing the perfect query letter. I was fortunate enough to have my query letter chosen to be critiqued on the blog Query Shark. Although I took a bit of a beating I am grateful for the shark’s input and advise. Once I felt I had the perfect query letter I realized that my book needed work so I halted sending out query’s until I felt more confident in my book. Writer’s Digest has a ice little program where you can pay to have your first few pages critiqued by an agent. I got some great input through this program. All the while, I continued to seek input from test readers to improve my novel. I received some lovely responses from literary agents. Although agents are very intimidating and the publishing business is closed, some are very helpful and nice. I ended up entering a publishing contest in which your book idea is voted on.When you meet certain voting platforms you have to complete homework and get a certain grade to move to the next level. my book ended up being the most voted on book idea in the history of the contest and I was offered a publishing contract. It was right then that I received the film rights offer. i will say that through the publishing contest I learned that most of books marketing falls on the author’s shoulders and how important it is to market your book before it gets published. Entering the publishing contest was one of my best moves towards getting published because I learned a tremendous amount from the publisher about social media and how to market on various platforms. It was really valuable to me. Once I sold the film rights I invested in a writing coach and tore my book apart and rebuilt it. Since then, I have signed with a literary agent and have also received a contract offer from a small indie publisher. I guess this is my long answer to your question and the short answer is never give up!
I love your determination and what you’ve learned of the marketing and publishing experience. This is food for encouragement for us all. Hip-hip hooray!! Keep learning.
How did the sample readers relate to the main character?
Since seeking out test readers, I have only received one negative critique and i was from a woman my writing coach chose who never reads fiction. Other than that, every single test reader has related to my book and to the protagonist. I would say the man connection is that pretty much every single human on earth has endured some form of child abuse whether it be something small or big. There’s a scene in my book where Prudence is told to eat everything on her plate. I think most people can relate to having to eat something displeasing when they were a child. I think the other way people relate to Prudence is by reading what she’s thinking in her head which I do a lot in the book. That voice we all have in our head that can be a little mean at times. Everyone seems to relate to that.
I can understand and relate to the statements here. Everyone has some form of abuse, wound, or pain of some sort. Sometimes it’s very obvious, sometimes it’s well hidden. In my childhood we were “spanked” pretty heavily; which would be easily considered child abuse by today’s standards. You also mentioned the point of view that we would relate to. I always find this aspect of a character the most rewarding experience. To feel, experience, see as they do. I recently heard an interesting statement from a sign at my son’s school. It read: “be careful how you speak to your child, because it will become their inner voice.”. What a statement! So true. That becomes the voice that we tend to hear in our heads.
How has conducting research affected your understanding of the main character?
Although I can’t really understand exactly how it feels to be an addict I have learned a lot about how addicts recover and heal. There is a saying,”once an addict always an addict” so the work is there every single day which is why AA follows the motto, “one day at a time.” I read every book on sex addiction by Patrick Carnes who is an expert in the field. His assistant recently asked me for an advanced copy of my book which is very exciting. I attended a variety of meetings through the AA program and spoke to many people in recovery. I’d say the best research I did was by accident because my father was a drug addict and alcoholic. I learned through experience how his addiction affected myself, my family and my father.
I appreciate the research you’ve put into this project. It’ll definitely show when people begin to read your work.
When you saw people being rehabilitated what was your experience?
Recovering from an addiction takes a tremendous amount of work. it appears to me that success happens when there is a large community of sober people helping. The relapse rate for recovered addicts who stay longer in after care is less than those who try to white knuckle it alone after a ninety day inpatient treatment program. I tried to be careful with all of this and to respect the recovery process in my book. The best results happen with complete immersion in the program. There needs to be a total lifestyle shift and that takes time and commitment. I also learned that addiction does not discriminate and affects a wide cross section of genders, ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. I doubt that you will meet anyone who has not either directly or indirectly been affected by addiction.
May many people read and find the stubborn wings of hope through the message you send through this book.
Speak about the power of addiction and the concepts about rehabilitation.
Since I do not have a degree in addiction recovery, nor am I a therapist, I am not comfortable speaking in depth about the concept of rehabilitating an addict. I am simply an author who has been affected by addiction and wrote a novel about an addict. I really can’t give sage professional advice to anyone because I am not trained to do so. From a laymen point of view, addiction is a very powerful thing that I cannot personally understand because I am not an addict. It does seem to be very, very powerful to those who are in recovery.
Well said. I think of all the people who are under the relentless power of addiction. May they really find the help that they need.
What message is sent through the main character?
The message sent through the main character is that traumatic childhood experiences can change how you feel about yourself. Because Prudence was abused she viewed herself as a victim. As a result, she was not equipped to choose a healthy partner to share her life with and she didn’t have the strength to endure difficult situations that can arise in relationships. Prudence needed to let go of the shame put on her during her childhood in order to heal and find self love. If a person does not heal from their past they cannot seek out healthy relationships because they are not healthy themselves.
I love this! Very therapeutic.
When will your book be published?
I should be making a decision on who will be publishing my book within the next few months. Once I sign the publishing contract I will have a release date which I can’t wait to announce!
We’ll be desperately waiting.
What’s your next writing project?
I am pitching to write the screenplay with the help of a very accomplished television writer who believes that I have the talent to be a strong contender. Writing the screenplay would be a dream come true! I am also putting together an outline for my next novel which will be a stand alone sequel to A Dress the Color of the Sky.
That sounds really fun. Keep us posted on your progress, we’d love to hear about it.
*How did you go from writing historical nonfiction to fiction?
After finishing my latest nonfiction history book, World 2.0: A History from Enlightenment to Terrorism and Beyond, which had taken me more than three years to write and research, I was actually planning to take a small break. But as I watched Donald Trump rise in the Republican primaries, I began thinking about how incredibly high the stakes would be if he actually became the Republican nominee, how the entire country could be swayed into one of two very different directions and how the course of history is often determined by just one person. Truth is, I had come upon many Donald Trumps while writing World 2.0. Of course, if one man can change the world, it also takes just one man to stop him. And that is how the story of The Dog and its Day was born.
It’s amazing how one person can affect the world and turn it upon its hinges.
*Can you note the differences you experienced?
Interestingly enough, the difference between fiction and nonfiction was far smaller than I had expected. In the last six months of working on my history book, I sometimes fantasized about finally being able to throw off the constraints of having to research and double-check every single fact. In fiction, I thought, I could do whatever I wanted, I would finally be the king of my own universe! But when I started writing The Dog and its Day—actually even before that, when I was still just thinking about the story—I realized that for me at least, the main difference would be to recalibrate reality a few degrees. When it comes to thrillers, I was never that interested in outlandish stories where the villains do unspeakable things. In The Dog and its Day, I wanted to explore how an assassination plot on Donald Trump would be conceived, planned and executed. That turned out to take quite a lot of research as well, but at least I didn’t have to name sources, write footnotes and create an index anymore.
That’s awesome. I’m writing a my first fictional piece and hope to pen nonfiction one day.
*Does your book explore a particular theme?
One man can change history. Nothing is set in stone and history does repeat itself.
This is very fascinating. I guess it all depends on who is changing history and how they’re doing it.
*What can you tell us about these two billionaires and their relationship with one another?
They are lifelong friends who together founded a coal-mining company 30 years ago and expanded it into a global empire in the decades that followed. They have had people standing in the way of their business interests eliminated before. When one of them suggests to have the Republican nominee assassinated, the other first recoils, but then he realizes the time for moral objections has long since passed.
Sounds like a great premise! Two power hungry billionaires with their own agenda.
*Tell us three things about Ronald Drump.
He is the Republican nominee for president. A New York real estate developer without any political experience. He is brash, arrogant, notoriously unreliable and far behind in the polls when the two billionaires decide to have him eliminated.
Well, may the odds ever be in his favor.
*Tell us three things about Valery Clayton.
She is the Democratic nominee for president. Her husband, Richard Clayton, was President in the 1990s. She has vowed to close all coal mines in the United States if elected.
I’m surprised they the billionaires wouldn’t have her assassinated instead. Especially if she’s trying to close the coal mines!
*How meticulous is this legendary assassin?
He is the kind of man who, if he had an unforeseen chance to take out his mark with a 9mm handgun in a dark forest with nobody else around, would still do nothing more than mumble a greeting and walk on, if he had planned to take him out a day later with a .300 Winchester Magnum from 800 yards away.
I’ve always thought assassins were cool for some reason. It must be the nature of the job and how they manage to get away with it, or not.
*If you were Ronald Drump and realized an attempt on your life what would you do?
Probably the same as what the real Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has done. Hire extra private security—much to the dismay of the Secret Service.
Yikes! Sounds like a high stress job. Whew.
*If you had opportunity to change the world as Drump, Clayton, the billionaires, or the assassin which person would you be?
The billionaires and the assassin can only stop someone else from becoming President of the United States. I would prefer to be in power myself.
*What is your favorite time period in history?
I find that once you start digging and are transported back in time, each period has its own unique stories to tell and adventures to share. Fourteenth century France might seem less interesting than World War II at first glance, but once you start exploring the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death and it all comes to life again, it quickly become another favorite period in history.
It would be adventurous to be a time traveler and go back to observe how things unfolded personally.
*Will you write more political thrillers?
I already have a new plot. One that strikes at the heart of the presidency and puts the President in an impossible situation. So yes.
YES. More political thrillers! Keep us posted!
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Author page of JR Handley, a veteran who writes military science fiction to excise the demons of his time spent fighting in the Late Unpleasantness in Mesopotamia.
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