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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Monica R. Sholar Interview

Well, hello there. It's been a while hasn't it? Only a year or so. But who needs an explanation of that? I have far more interesting information to share.

Who among you likes a good suspense thriller? Okay, I see some hands raised out there. Well, have you heard of Monica R. Sholar? You haven't? Then consider it my pleasure to introduce you. Monica is an all around beautiful, energetic, and inspiring woman that I've had the pleasure to meet and share this crazy writer journey with. She's written The 24th Letter and she literally JUST released her second book, Esoteric Truth. Take a look!

Me and Monica at the Brighton District Library
Local Author Showcase Sept. 2014 

The Restless Writer (RW) : When did you first get the spark of an idea for The 24th Letter? Do you remember what gave you that initial inspiration? 

Monica R. Sholar (MS): The idea for The 24th Letter 
came about because I had written two prior books and
 the genre's were different. I wanted to streamline 
everything since I felt that I was strongest in the 
Suspense-Thriller genre. So, The 24th Letter was 
essentially birthed from all of the best ideas from 
my prior works,as well as research I'd done on law 
enforcement and the X chromosome, which is the 
crux of the plot.

RW: How long did it take you to finish writing the first draft?

MS: There have been countless first drafts, so that's a hard one to answer!
I'd written and re-written it many times. I read an article once about Steven Spielberg. 
He said he reads the Jaws manuscript, which is a cult classic film, and even to this day
there are things in the script he wants to change. That's exactly how I feel and it's why
there are so many "first" drafts.

RW: The book is set in a fictional city, Belle Isle Heights, but modeled after Detroit's 
Belle Isle. Why did you decide to use this for your location?

MS: I love my home town! I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, so my choosing to 
create the storyworld of Belle Isle Heights was sort of a nod of my cap to my hometown. I 
knew that my local readers would appreciate the subtle references I made to Michigan culture, 
such as Coney Dogs and pop, and I wanted to share that culture with my readers who aren't 
located here in the mitten or U.P.

RW: You sure know how to pack on the suspenseful situations for your characters! 
Was it ever difficult for you, as you wrote, to keep putting them in such hard 

MS: It was incredibly difficult to put the characters in such gut-wrenching positions. 
To me, they are people and it was very emotional to experience certain things like death 
with them. I cried a few times! But I knew that it needed to happen. As a reader of 
Suspense-Thrillers myself, I like to be transported to a world that allows me the thrill of 
feeling the danger--from the safety of my sofa! That's what I want to give my readers. I 
want them to walk on the wild side and have their pulses pound with anticipation. 
It keeps them turning the pages to find out how in the world the character will 
survive--if they even do. See what I did there; even my response had to have a little 
suspense. LOL.

RW: You have a new book in your Belle Isle Heights 
series coming out this month, what can readers expect from 
this new adventure?

MS: Esoteric Truth is the newest member of the Belle Isle Heights 
family, and it was released on March, 1st. It's my favorite, (but don't 
tell The 24th Letter!) I think that as I write each book, each will 
become my favorite, because I grow each time.The readers can expect to see not
only my growth as a writer, but also the growth of the characters. They have been
through a lot, so we'll get to see what they do with the lessons they've learned. Also, I
really wanted to amp up the action! So there are gunfights, hand-to-hand combat and
thrills at every turn. You'll definitely need a seatbelt and hard-hat on when you read this one!

RW: Would you say it was harder, or easier, to write a second book?

MS: Writing the second book was much harder! I felt immense pressure to best myself and 
to not be redundant. I also felt a need to stay true to the characters and make sure that their 
stories were advanced. What I don't like is reading books in a series which tell the same 
stories over and over in a different sequence. So, I worked really hard to make sure I wasn't 
doing that. My readers deserve the effort.

RW: Will we see any of the same characters in Esoteric Truth or is it an entirely new cast? 

MS: Esoteric Truth is a mixed cast of old and new. And the newbies surely do not disappoint!

RW: Are there any authors, in particular, who've inspired your own writing style?

MS: I am inspired by so many people, not just authors. Anyone who has a passion for their 
craft, inspires me. I'd have to say my biggest inspirations were James Patterson with his older 
works, Elmore Leonard, Terry McMillan, and Michael Jackson. He's not a writer but he's a 
phenomenal storyteller in song and in dance. I'd love to be the MJ of Suspense-Thrillers.

RW: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, are there any songs in particular 
you associate with The 24th Letter and Esoteric Truth? 

MS: No music while writing. It's too distracting. I grew up singing in the choir when I 
was little. My mom was the choir director and was very strict in making sure we sang the 
right notes. If I listened to music while writing, I'd be too busy critiquing the pitches, or 
harmonizing with the singers. LOL. Sometimes I leave the television on super low volume,
just to have a little background noise. But for the most part, I write in complete silence so that I can
hear the voices in my head. I'm not crazy, the voices are just the characters telling me their life stories.

RW: Did you have to do any sort of research in order to write these books? Any 
memorable moments from your research you'd care to share?

MS: Yes, lots of research. I wanted to make sure that my information was sound. 
So I've done interviews with federal agents, police officers, nurses, etc… to make 
sure that the procedures and processes that I describe are true. I'd hate to have an 
agent read my story only to say, "That's not how that would happen!" I did my best 
to not get that response. The most memorable moment was interviewing my family 
member, who happens to be a federal agent!

RW: How can readers can get in touch with you and stay informed of your appearances 
and writing projects? 

MS: I love keeping in contact with my readers! The best places to find me are on my 
Facebook fan page as Monica R. Sholar Author, on Twitter as monicasholar, and via my 
website at: www.monicasholar.com. The site is always up-to-date with the schedule of my 
appearances, photos of signings, and of course, purchase information for the books!

Thank you so much, Monica for stopping by and answering some questions. I hope you'll 
reach a ton of new fans! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Tonya Kappes Interview

Happy Valentine's Day! First, my valentine to you is that I'm giving away my YA short story, Kiss of Death, for free today through the 16th. Be sure to get your copy now! Hope you love it! But that's not your only Valentine treat today. USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes is here and she's generously offered to give away a copy of her brand new YA novel, Tag...You're It!
(details at the end of the post)

It is my pleasure to introduce you to super talented author and marketing whiz, Tonya Kappes. If you aren't familiar with her, you're in for a treat! If you want to have some fun, you need to connect with Tonya. Seriously. Like her Facebook page and join her Street Time. It's a riot! So much positive energy and fun and she does the coolest events for her readers. Don't take my word for it. Sign up!

Become a member of Tonya’s STREET TEAM! It’s a gathering place of readers who love Tonya Kappes novels and Tonya gives away monthly prizes! To sign up for Tonya’s STREET TEAM, newsletter, view book trailer, and upcoming news, check out Tonya’s website, Tonyakappes.com.

And be sure to stalk her on Facebook and Twitter!

USA Today Bestselling Author, Tonya Kappes writes humorous cozy mystery and women’s fiction that involves quirky characters in quirky situations. Not only have her novels made the USA Today bestsellers list, but they are an Amazon Top 100 author, Amazon Movers and Shakers, and International bestsellers.

Strung Out To Die and A Charming Crime are USA Today bestselling novels.

Splitsville.com, the first novel in the Olivia Davis Mystery Series, is a double finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Mystery and Humorous Categories.

Carpe Bead ‘em is 2012 winner in Amazon’s eFestival of Words in the Women’s Fiction Category.

A Charming Crime, the first novel in the Magical Cures, is the 2013 eFestival of Words in the Fantasy Category Winner.

A New Tradition the Indie Romance Convention 2013 novella of the year.

When not being the princess, queen, and jester of her family of three teenage boys, an adoring husband, and three fury kids, she travels to various writing groups as guest speaker on “How to Market and Promote Your Novels Effectively,” where she is known as a marketing guru.

Now, without further ado, I present Tonya Kappes!
Restless Writer: (RW) I am in awe of the vibrant and fun street team of fans you've assembled. How did you go about getting it off the ground and how long did it take until it became the thriving community it is today?
Tonya Kappes: (TK) A few years ago I started receiving a ton of reader mail, which I love. They continually asked what they could do to help spread the words about my novels. I decided to start a street team on yahoo loop and it was a place where we talked about EVERYTHING...not just my books. We became a little family. I knew I wanted to give back to them so I started to have Facebook street team parties, which no other authors were doing at the time and it took off like a rocket. BUT we have continued to be a close group. I show up every single day! I am personal with them! I LOVE them. That is what this writing gig is all about. 

RW: More and more authors are choosing the indie path to publishing. How did you reach the decision to do this with your books?
TK: When my first publisher thought they knew what the best marketing was for ME, I knew they were wrong. I could not let someone take me down a road I knew was not going to help me. So...we parted ways only two weeks away from publication. After I cried my eyes out, I got my head screwed on straight and took a look at self publishing. Self publishing was such a taboo at the time, this was four years ago, and writers were telling me I was crazy and I was going to burn my writing career. I rolled my eyes because NO ONE tells me I can't do something. I took the bull by the horns and had that book, Carpe Bead 'em, out on the day of the release. READERS have no clue how a book is published. They don't care as long as the book is good.

RW: It seems like you have an awesome new book out every few months! You are a wife and mother, what is your writing schedule like?
TK: I write every single day at least 2-5k words a day. They might not be GREAT words, but they are words that I can go back and change. I write full time so my kids and hubby are at school/work. I get up at 5:30 when my hubby leaves for work. I do all my business stuff until 8 am. My three teenagers can get themselves off to school by themselves now ;) 8-10 am I write and write. Around ten, I eat breakfast and shower only to sit back down by 11 and stay there until 1 pm. Then I grab my dogs and take a 2-3 mile walk, eat lunch, catch up on Days of Our Lives and back at the computer by 2. From 2-4 pm I write. I turn off the computer around 4 because my hubby and kids are home, plus I love to watch the Wendy Williams Show at 4 :) There are times in there where I jump on my Facebook to check in with readers or email.

RW: Your book with Melissa Bourbon Ramirez, The Tricked-Out Toolbox: Promotion and Marketing Tools Every Writer Needs, is full of great marketing strategies for authors. What do you think is the most valuable thing a writer can do to give them the best chance at success?
TK: Write, write, and write. 

RW: In this day and age, social media seems like a holy grail of (free) marketing possibilities. Authors seem to rise to stardom overnight because of social media. There has to be more to the story. Can you offer a reality check on your experiences with social media marketing and the effort and/or costs it takes to achieve success? 
TK: You have to show up every day. That's it. Be present. Be relatable. You have to have a presence. If you only do one social media~DO IT WELL! 

RW: You just published your first YA novel, Tag, You're It!. It's right up my alley, a teen girl who loses her best friend in a car crash but becomes connected to, and annoyed by, her friend's ghost. What made you decide to try YA and can readers expect more in this genre? (I hope so!)
TK: I have three teenage boys who are all in high school. I'm around so many girls...not by choice ;) Of course they all like to talk and hang out with me and I hear all sorts of drama (I'm soooo glad I have all boys!). I'm pretty good at relating to them and easy to talk to. I understand the young adult mind. So many writers ask me why I haven't written a YA and my standard reply was, "I live it...why would I write it?" Then I started to think...hmmmm....Low and behold Tag. . .You're IT was written and given to some of those teenage girls to read. They loved it so here it is :) 

YES! There will be more in the series.

RW: What kind of writer are you, a planner or a pantser?
TK: Panster!

RW: Name some of your favorite authors who really inspire you.
TK: EECK....I can't do that.

RW: I absolutely adore your book covers! Who designs them?
TK: I have several designers for each series. Tag was done by two different designers.

RW: Can you tell us what you're working on now?
TK: I'm working on a new mystery series called Yellow Cab Capers where my sleuth drives a taxi. It's fuuuuunny!!!!!

RW: You do a lot of cool reader events. Where will you be next? 
TK: I love my readers! I travel at least once a month. Check out my events page on my website at www.tonyakappes.com to check out my next event.
 Thank you so much, Tonya!
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Friday, December 27, 2013

The Grimm Diaries Blog Tour

Title: The Grimm Diaries Prequels 1-6
Author: Cameron Jace
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy-tale Retelling
Published: November 19, 2012

The Grimm Diaries are pages written in a Book of Sand, where each fairy tale character confessed the true stories once altered by the Brothers Grimm two centuries ago. To keep the truth about fairy tales hidden, the Brothers Grimm buried the characters in their dreams to never wake up again. But the curse is broken now, and the characters are allowed to wake up every one hundred years. They intend to tell the truth about really happened, and about an untold cosmic conflict between fairy tale characters.

Free on Amazon!

The Grimm Diaries Prequels 1-6 recently made the Top 100 Kids & Teens Kindle Books of 2013 on Amazon, along with prequels 7-10, and Cameron Jace's Snow White Sorrow

About Cameron

Things you might want to know:

Cameron writes books that he can't find elsewhere, basically to amuse himself. Everything Cameron does is for fun, so don't take him seriously. Never call him a writer. He hates that. He prefers the word: Storyteller, or the boy next door who claims he can tell stories.

If you like his books, horaaaay! He loves ya too. If ya don't, hoooray! Now we know in advance that this relationship isn't going to work.

Although his books are ordinary on the surface, they hold many secrets that he might reveal one day. What matters the most to him are characters struggling to find their identities and place in the world.

Things you don't need to know:

He celebrates his birthday twice a year, the day he was born and Friday the 13th. He wants to live in a bubble house. He is a damn good guitar player. He is damn good architecture college drop out. He likes boats, beaches, bears, beards, bananas, bars, barfights, beans, bikes, bones, butter, babes, bakery, blizzards, and pirates (he thought it was spelled Birates when he was a kid.)

And honestly, writing in third person sucks! It's so fake. 

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Book Teaser

From Ladle Rat Rotten Hut:
Once upon a time, there were wolves outside my bedroom window. They were knock-knock-knocking, and sniff-sniff-sniffing while I cringed under my white blanket, my teeth chat-chat-chattering.
Alone in bed in the ramshackle and vulnerable house, cocooning myself under my blanket, I didn't know how to escape them. I kept trying to push my head against the bed sheets, wanting to bury it into the mattress like an Ostrich buries its head in the sand.
The clock kept tick-tick-ticking. It was midnight.
Hiding in the fog outside, the wolves howled in the still of the night, sending shivers through my spine. I wet my pillow with my drool, listening to them scratching the glass on my window.
Scratch, scrrrratch, scratching.
What an awful noise. It sounded like a slow, long “crrrreeeeee” that would end with the letter P.

Blog Tour hosted by Good Choice Reading Blog Tours

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Introducing Little Steps by Ryan Hipp!

Thanks to SCBWI, I met Ryan Hipp. We attended several conferences together. I ordered a sketch from him. We both made comments on the SCBWI listserv. Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da. He always came across as being a super cool guy, but I didn't really know him.

Teen librarian, Ryan Hipp, Me
This all changed earlier this year, when I saw he was booking for Summer Reading programs. I told the teen librarian at my library that Ryan would do a fantastic presentation. She booked him, and I was right. He does a phenomenal presentation. (You won't regret booking him for your school or library.) After successfully engaging the kids in one of our best attended teen programs, I got the chance to hang out with him and finally get to know him. What did I find out? Ryan doesn't just seem like a super cool guy, he really is one! He's also wildly talented. He's the 2012 Gwen Frostic Award Winner. (That's a pretty big deal.) But he has a longer list of credentials than that.

Because Ryan is so awesome, he agreed to be interviewed here, for your reading pleasure. So, without further ado, I present to you, The Ryan Hipp Experience.

The Restless Writer (RW): What came first for you, writing or drawing?

Ryan Hipp (RH): My drawings were the result at an early age to tell the story that was in my brain. And to do it faster. at age 6 writing out words was boring for me and i could tell the story much more effectively by drawing it out on 60 sheets of paper and laying it in sequence across the living room floor.
A beautifully illustrated book about overcoming adversity.
RW: You have illustrated books before, but this is the first written and illustrated by you. How did you come to the decision to publish it on your own?
RH: I am carrying this story more 'close to my chest', so I knew that publishing it on my own was the only way to tell it exactly the way I needed to. Sometimes certain work is too personal to let go. 

RW: Who are some of your greatest influences, literary and artistic? 
RH: Pendleton Ward, James Kochalka, Stan Sakai, Carl Barks, Charles Schultz, Peyo, Rodney Alan Greenblat, Richard Scarry.

RW: When you were developing the idea of Little Steps, what came to you first, words or images? 
RH: I looked at a rough caterpillar sketch I did...and then after that, the story appeared to me in my head and everything was clear. The words just came to me. I didn't originally plan on telling this story this way, but once I knew, I just knew.

RW: What draws you to the children's book genre? 
RH: For me, I have always felt an affinity for cute whimsical endearing things, and children's books quantify that. I (try to) write stories that have that same whimsy that I had when I was a kid...so, thus, my audience has remained the same.

RW: Authors are often told to find their own voice. Artists, to find their own style. How difficult was it for you to do these things? 
RH: VERY difficult. I have always felt that people won't get me, or that I have to model my writing after something safe. It wasn't til after I adopted the mantra that "the right people will get me" that I stopped worrying about apologizing for the way I write and just write what I think is clever or heartfelt and trust that others will see what I am trying to accomplish. As for drawing - the same thing. I have been so jealous of other artists my whole life, one day I gave up on trying to be others and the next thing I know, folks are recognizing my artwork in galleries and magazine covers and it hit me that the best compliment you can give an artist is when their work becomes as recognizable as their handwriting or face.

RW: What do you love most about what you do? 
RH: I love drawing and writing and spending time being creative...but what I love more is going to schools and libraries and talking to students and families and educators and inspiring others. I guess I really do like being in the limelight, but it's very rewarding to feel like people appreciate what you have to say. I love that part. Oh, and getting hugs from kids. It's pretty cool when you know your fans like you lots.

RW: Authors often write stories that are never shown to anyone, or that fizzle before 'the end'. How did you know that Little Steps was a story that needed to be told? 
RH: This story evolved. It started as a very literal story about something bad I experienced, told thru a "clever" metaphor with a cat. When I realized I was way more obvious than clever, I decided I should play it safe and dial it back. Then the story became a story about a robot that was malfunctioning...again...way too obvious. I did tons of work on both of these projects before coming to this epiphany that I was way over-the-top. The story that became Little Steps was really ideal because this way I could tell my story in a universal way that was applicable to anyone's life or specific situation. If I did my job right, the message will come through for people and they can apply the feelings they get from it to their own personal journey.

RW: Where can Little Steps be purchased? 
RH: Hipphop.com is the most direct route because then you can get them personalized, but I will soon have Little Steps available thru the same distribution channels that the big boxes use so it can be ordered from any bookstore.

RW: Can you tell us what you're working on now? 
RH: Seriously? I'm just trying to unlock all the achievements on Batman: Arkham City. I also write dorky ukulele covers of songs from the show Adventure Time. I'm on a very structured schedule.

Thanks for stopping by, Ryan! I wish you crazy success with Little Steps!

*In case you missed it, Little Steps can be purchased here. 

My Personal Endorsement of Little Steps

I am the proud owner of a brand new, shiny, and perfect Little Steps. And lookie here, if you order from Ryan, you even get a nifty personalization! You'll be the envy of all your friends, plus you'll have a beautiful book of your very own. Honestly, even though there is a very positive message in this story, it's the illustrations that just plain make me happy. I want a signed print of the "Hatch!" page. (cough cough, are you seeing this, Ryan?) It is delightful and exuberant and you'll have to see it for yourself. Besides the "Hatch!" page that I'm in love with, I'm also a huge fan of the overall color palette for this book. Bright greens, vibrant pink, purple and turquoise. Dee-licious! I hope you'll check it out.
That cool personalization I was talking about.