Friday, March 22, 2013

Guest Q&A with Author Van Heerling

I invited author Van Heerling to my blog as a special guest today to celebrate the release of his second novel Dreams of Eli. Thank goodness he agreed to show up!

Q. DREAMS OF ELI completely deviates from your first book, MALAIKA. What traits, if any, carry over between the two?
Dreams of Eli takes place during the 1800s while MALAIKA is present day Africa. They are indeed far apart, however, I would say that the general tone of the stories carry over. The protagonists in each story are deeply lost and flawed in their own ways. Although Dreams of Eli is quite disturbing in some parts, I have had readers contact me, bawling their eyes out after each story. I mean this in the best of ways.

Q. You have over 100 reviews for MALAIKA. What good/bad/ugly advice do you have for authors regarding reviews?
Reviews are interesting. The advice I would appreciate hearing would be as follows: don’t get hung up on the unpleasant reviews. Read them once. Allow them to ruffle your feathers if this is the case, and then go back once you are cooled off and read them once more. During this second read, look for legitimate criticism. If there is any, allow it to improve your future work. I do this with my bad reviews. It takes some discipline. Ease into it. Above all else never respond in a negative way to someone that has left a bad review. Doing this reflects badly upon the author. Take your lumps.
As for the good reviews, remember them for when you doubt your talents. Go back and read them as many times as you feel is necessary. Know that these are YOUR readers. These are the people that want you to write. So write to them. If your readers contact you directly, make it a point to respond and thank them.

Q. If you could take 6 months off and travel anywhere you wanted to write your next novel, where would you go?

Q. Which do you prefer to write: narrative or dialog?
Narrative. First person narrative in fact. My absolute favorite way to tell a story is from the perspective of an untrustworthy narrator. What I mean by untrustworthy is unpredictable even to the character itself. For me it is unapologetic and allows the human condition to take hold.

Q. If you wrote a children's book, would the main character be a human or animal or otherwise?
Human. I actually have two children’s books finished but not released. The first is of a little boy, called “The Bee Stomper.” The other is of an eight-year-old girl. One day I will release them, maybe. The latter will be a thirty book series. Yes, thirty.

Q. We both pride ourselves on being original thinkers. Which original quote of yours will become famous?
“In this life, seek your own answers, and quote yourself for a change.” It’s funny because people quote me.

Heather, thank you for the chat. It’s no secret that I think you are one of the lights in our darkening world. Shine.

Visit Van's website/blog at:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Making of Chloe Kassidy

Special Guest Post by Author Cari Kamm:
The Making of Chloe Kassidy

“It was much easier to control the outcome in photography. Heartbreak couldn’t be retouched.” – Chloe Kassidy

As someone who has worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, who has a master’s in clinical nutrition from New York University and currently works in corporate social media management with clients in the beauty, fashion, and restaurant industries . . . how the heck did I create a character that’s a professional photographer?  I can say that I did pull it off considering my editor is a Photonovelist! Heather Hummel gave me the seal of approval.

Life inspires me to create a character. I don’t necessarily “hear voices in my head” as someone that would require medical attention. Ha! My imagination is always alert. It’s on twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. Yes, even when I’m sleeping.

In an instant, I can go from sipping my cappuccino, to walking along a tree-lined street, while sitting in a movie theater, to having lunch with a friend, if inspired by a sound, a person, a smell, or even a shadow, my mind will wander off and absorb something specific in a moment. That moment can lead me into a story idea or a personality for a character.

My protagonist Chloe Kassidy has just been accepted into one of Manhattan’s most exclusive art exhibits, Love Through Light. However, with her singular dedication to her career, she soon realizes that in sacrificing her personal life, she has never been in love. A hopeless romantic who is terrified of heartbreak, Chloe begins to enlist the help of her circle of friends to learn about love through their very different stories and experiences.

So why a photographer? I felt it would be a creative career that would allow the story to be told through the lens and allow Chloe to remain safe. To create a photographer, I had to declare myself as a photographer. For almost six months, I researched online photography and equipment blogs. I attended gallery openings, watched YouTube videos, and did several searches on photography terms and definitions. I highlighted words that could also be applied to love. Finally, I pulled out my Canon (I could finally use!) and behaved as a photographer. I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, through Central Park and sat in restaurants to create the voice of Chloe Kassidy. I took pictures everyday! Throughout my own daily life, a moment may capture me and I think, “Wow... my character would eat that, do that, say that, adore that.” All of the scenes in FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY were shot throughout the two years it took to write it. Lastly, I have family members that love photography as a hobby and one that is a professional photographer. I asked them personal questions such as “What do you feel when you’re shooting?” or “How does it feel when you’re capturing a moment?”

Chloe Kassidy and I shared similar feelings of failing, of not finishing, or not getting it right. She prepared for her exhibit opening and I work to complete the novel.

FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY was inspired by the notion that women grow up with ideas of true love and destiny, For Internal Use Only approaches those ideas with a decidedly twenty-first century viewpoint. By incorporating problems inherent with today’s dating world, this book is meant to enlighten readers to stop chasing fairytales and start creating their own. My goal was to write a humorous love story with an edgy and dramatic twist that gives each of us a new fairy tale to look forward to: our own.

Cari Kamm has worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, building brands, working behind the scenes, and even selling her own skin care line. She has a master’s in clinical nutrition from New York University. Kamm currently works in corporate social media management with clients in the beauty, fashion, and restaurant industries. Living in New York City with her mutt Schmutz, Kamm loves finding inspiration in the most unexpected places, being a novelist, and convincing her fiancĂ© that ordering takeout and making dinner reservations are equal to cooking. More information can be found on her website, To check out the book trailer, click here:

Thursday, February 28, 2013

I Don't Blame Amazon for Ridding "Like" and "Tags"

Here's what I know will be an unpopular post regarding Amazon ridding the Tag and Like features, but here goes:
I was happy when Amazon got rid of tags because they were overly abused by the masses, which lead to defeating the purpose of them.
The Like feature's purpose was to help Amazon identify what books you like so they can continue to make recommendations to you.
Indie Authors piled up and Liked books for fellow authors, whether they read them or not, and this skewed the purpose of the feature.
I know this won't be a welcome thought, but rather than trying to manipulate a system (aka Amazon), I wish more Indie Authors had focused on good writing and promoting authentically.
I always felt all those manipulations were just that - manipulations. Honest RTs and sharing posts on FB like many of us do is FABULOUS and how it should be done. Trying to manipulate Amazon's system, well...I honestly don't blame Amazon for getting rid of those features. I don't see them as "out to get Indie Authors" as much as Indie Authors manipulated their system, so...if these features aren't working as intended, Amazon has the right to remove them.

Lastly, Amazon used the Like feature on all their products. It's no longer on, for example, the Canon EOS T3i - or any other product. It's not all about authors, Indie or otherwise, in the Amazon world. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Next Big Thing

One of my favorite authors and people, Cari Kamm, invited me to join her in the latest blog craze, My Next Big Thing. Cari's second novel, FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY, releases in December 2012, and not a moment too soon. Many, many readers have been awaiting her second release after reading FAKE PERFECT ME, her debut novel. And, I hear she's working diligently on her third.

Cari has asked about my forthcoming novel $1 AND $100, which begs the question, how do you relate to money?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I wanted to write a novel about money and how we all relate differently to it. I took it one step further by making it pretty much the protagonist in that it is the one constant throughout the book and it drives how each person handles it when in their hands. I also wanted to use both a $1 bill and a $100 bill because they draw and don’t draw different responses from different people.

What genre does your book fall under?
While my Journals from the Heart series is chick-lit/women's lit, this one is straight up literary fiction. It will appeal to men, women, and most demographics. Well, anyone who can relate to money should be able to relate to $1 AND $100!

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
There are several characters throughout different periods in life from a mother and son in the mid-seventies to a divorced, wealthy man and a high school girl in the 80s, to a college aged couple in the 90s. Think LOVE ACTUALLY and I could probably use that cast.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
How do you relate to money?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I've been both traditionally and independently published, and I'm considering submitting this one to agents just because of its broad appeal and to see if an agent would be drawn to it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
This is one I'm still working on. I work on it when I'm not ghostwriting for clients, so the time I can devote to it ebbs and flows. However, I just joined a great writing group and that alone is encouraging me to plug away on it.

 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Anyone who has held money inspired me! Also, I'm always guided by a higher power when I come up with ideas for and write my books. I am considering doing a documentary on the same topic where I'd interview (on camera) different people about how they relate to money. So, people of all demographics and locations inspired me. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
My goal is to make people think about how they relate to money. What their beliefs are around it. What they learned about it from parents and elders and other influential people in their lives. My intention is to start a dialog through fiction about something that impacts our lives on a daily basis, for good or not.
The great thing about this blog event is passing the torch onto other writers.
I've chosen three very different, yet equally fabulous, authors to pass the torch on to…
Van Heerling:
-As a writer-
I don't just make stuff up.
I imagine new worlds and the people within them. And then quietly and with a curious eye, I spy on them to see what they will do next.
Van Heerling is one of the great literary novelists out there today as well as being one of the most original thinkers I know. Check out his website at:

Jewels Moss is a published author of science fiction books, and paramormal romance novels. She keeps her true identity a secret because it is fun to be Jewels. This is why she created her for her naughty side. She enjoys writing erotica, especially if she can create erotica from a story you wouldn't expect it from. Her works include The Siren's Song, Naughty Tales, and the soon to be released Why Yellow Jackets can't find the Hole. She enjoys being an author with Midnight Fire. Check out her website:

Paul Hoffman was born in Madison, Wisconsin and was raised in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee. He is a 1981 graduate of Wauwatosa East High School and attended both the University of Wisconsin - Madison and the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, graduating in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications (Radio/TV) and a minor in English.

His nearly 30-year career in journalism consists of working as a sports writer at the Milwaukee Sentinel; assistant sports editor at Pioneer Press newspapers in the Chicago area; sports editor and news editor in Shelbyville, Indiana; news editor in Columbus, Indiana; and has been special publications editor at the Daily Journal in Franklin, Indiana for the past 12 years. Paul is a member of the Wauwatosa, Milwaukee County and Wisconsin historical societies. He is married and lives in Columbus, Indiana. He has three daughters, a son and two stepdaughters. Visit Paul's website at: