Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Interview with Allison Cosgrove

Allison Cosgrove was born and raised in a suburb of Toronto, Ontario. A married mother of three daughters, she works in accounting by day and creates her own worlds by night.

She has had the love of reading and writing detective mysteries from the age of twelve but it has only been since the birth of her youngest that she has gotten serious about crafting some of her own works for others to enjoy. She credits her family and friends with being the driving force that has given her the strength to breathe life into her books.

What was your path towards publication like?
It has been a long road and certainly a bumpy one. There are a lot of things as a new author I had to find out through trial and error. For example, how to write a query letter that works and different formatting requirements. There are also a lot of "less than reputable" people who prey on unsuspecting writers. I ran into an agent early on who was that sort of person. She actually knew I was a mother and still swindled money out of me. One of the biggest things I had to remember was to keep moving forward and not to let rejections get the better of me.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book?
I have always been fascinated with cults and their ability to operate under the noses of the general public for a long time before they are found out. Also, another thing that I find interesting is whenever a new serial killer emerges, we—as a society—tend to try and place a reason on why this person behaves the way that they do.

One of the things that seems to crop up is the notion that serial killers must belong to satanic cults and practice sacrificial rituals. Most of the time there is no evidence that the serial killers ever participated in any cults satanic or otherwise and these persons are merely deviants of one form or another. This book, however, is an entirely different scenario but does incorporate and play on those two ideas.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I read a lot of true crime and a lot of my bad guys come from reality itself… I just put new spin on them for the most part. I try my best to rethink how the "real" criminal was caught and how he might have done it better had he been my "bad guy".

Did you have to do any special research for your book?
I have mountains of true crime books, case books, books on forensic procedures and guilds. I study old crimes and new crimes. The internet is another wealth of information for me. There is a never ending supply of information from around the world. I have also attended open houses at our local police stations to get a feel for the insides and how they "could" work.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?
Finding the time. I am a mother of three young wonderful (and busy!) ladies and they keep me on the go constantly so being able to sit down and write for any extended length of time is hard for me. It's either I am being interrupted or I'm too burnt out from running around to write! So I write as I can. Sometimes it's only 100 words, but it is better than none at all!

It’s been said that real life is boring in comparison to fiction, how can a writer take an idea from real life and spice it up enough to become a publishable piece? I take real criminals and make my criminals smarter and less likely to make the same mistakes their real counterparts would have made. Reality states that there is no such a thing as the perfect crime as they are almost always caught, it is only a matter of time and with the leaps and bounds science is making it is getting harder and harder for criminals to outwit the detectives that hunt them.

One thing fiction writers hear a lot of is, “show, don’t tell”. How did you learn to show more in your stories?
I often struggle with this myself. It's not as easy as you would think to show something rather than tell your reader what they are supposed to see.

As a writer, you want to make sure your reader is seeing things that you want them to see. I try to use other senses to show my readers what they need to see. For example I want my readers to see a busy roadway in front of my main character. I will talk about the smell of exhaust, a car backfiring or/and engine revving. That sort of thing.

What tip(s) can you offer when it comes to writing descriptions?
Be real. Don't overdo it.

Another author and I were discussing this very thing the other day and how descriptions were done in the book she was reading. It was actually making the book more of a chore for her to read because the descriptions were so outlandish.

What tips(s) can you offer for writing dialogue that moves the story along?
Short and sweet.

Don't have long huge monologues it slows everything down. Try and break it up with someone in the scenes reactions or the characters movements within the scene.

It's said that publishers want authors to do most of the promoting of their book(s). How do you balance promoting your work and writing your next manuscript?
I spend a lot of my spare time just talking to people. I get involved anywhere I can on the Internet just to make my name visible.

There is no such a thing as too little exposure for me, or my book. Even if it is only one new person knowing I and/or my book exist then it was worth the time it took to do whatever it is.

Oh! And help your fellow authors, too! You never know if they may one day return the favor! Network and teamwork would be my great advice when doing your marketing.

What’s ahead for your writing?
Book two in my Lake City PD series, Dragon Twins, is in its first round of revisions now so the eBook could be out next spring depending on how things work out between now and then.

Learn more about Allison Cosgrove at www.stanbrookshire.com

Order Allison's latest book, Sacrifice Of Innocence, on Amazon.com

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This post was sponsored by The Dabbling Mum.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Interview With Self-Published Author, Theresa Crabtree

Theresa Crabtree is an author and organic gardener, living precariously perched on the side of a mountain in a picturesque “ghost town” full of other eclectic souls.

What was your path towards publication like?
My path has led me away from formal publishers for a variety of reasons.

Foremost, my book is timely… many are currently focused on the Mayan calendar and its relationship to the year 2012. Although the book is not directly focused on those topics, I wouldn’t be able to ride the “wave” if I had to wait 12-18 months to go through a publisher.

In addition, I have goals for the book that would likely not be to the advantage financially to a publisher and likely to be detrimental to what I intend to accomplish. In so doing though, I lose the marketing privileges that normally are associated with a publisher, especially the well-known ones.

What is your biggest obstacle when it comes to pitching yourself as a writer and what steps have you taken to overcome that obstacle?
Self confidence has always been my biggest obstacle.

The best way is to push through any fears (which is what my book is about) and make dates for speaking engagements, interviews, participate in book fairs and simply follow through. The more feedback I receive from readers having life changes, the less I see obstacles!

Aside from magazine articles and book contracts, how can someone earn money writing? The most important thing a writer can do is create a website, especially interactive blogs. I have found that eBooks are a fun, easy and great way to create income. Plus, being a recycling nut, I love the fact that less paper is used!

Public speaking also generates funds from the engagement itself, as well as book sales.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book?
Mayan Messages: Daily Guide to Self-Empowerment offers 260 ways to empower oneself.

The book is a direct connection to the Mayan Tzolkin calendar, which is comprised of 260 days, although the reader need not use the calendar. However, energetically, it is more powerful to read the Message on the corresponding Tzolkin date. I offer a free companion calendar for those wishing to use the Messages in this manner.

Each Message offers ways to break through fear, recognize out-dated belief codes and to change behaviors that are detrimental to one’s growth: spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. Although the book is of a metaphysical slant, it includes ideologies from both eastern and western philosophies.

One Message simply states, “Smile at everyone you meet today.” I could write a book just on my experiences of doing just that. Hmmmm, maybe I will!

If you could choose just one thing for your book to accomplish, what would it be?
My goal is to donate copies of the Mayan Messages to 1,100 U.S. Federal and State prisons. I’ve had wonderful feedback from jails that have already received their copies, both from inmates and staff!

How do you balance your life as a writer with your duties as a parent or spouse? The hardest part in the beginning was finding time to do things such as eat, get dressed, shop and keep up with social engagements.

Once the writing bug hit, I didn’t want to do anything else!

To free up more time, I had to cure myself of “yes-itis,” that fatal dis-ease that strikes many of us who are service-oriented… crippled with the inability to say “no” to others’ requests.

Luckily, my children are grown and my partner has many of his own interests, which frees up my time considerably. It also helps to write about my passions, no time is wasted on “writer’s block”, I can barely keep up with my fingers on the keyboard.

I try to plan my writing time when I know I will be alone for a length of time. When my partner enters the room, when possible, I put my back to the computer so that I can give him my full attention.

I also have trained myself to stop typing, writing notes, etc. when I am on the phone. Thankfully, my time is also free enough that I can stop what I am doing when unexpected guests arrive, which is quite often in our little eclectic community.

What is your best advice for getting past writer's block?
I have never experienced writer’s block, but I would expect that many that do are trying “too hard”. Perhaps fighting their intuition or focusing on the “what ifs”.

Write about what you are passionate about, let the juices flow and worry about the outcome later. That’s what editing is all about. Creating an uninterrupted space is a must for me in order to keep the flow going. This may entail training family members that during a certain block of time or when you are in your writing space, please keep your distance. Unless the oven is on fire!

I would also suggest investing in post-it notes. Have an idea? Write it down and keep with your current flow.

What was the best writing-related advice you ever received?
The best information I received was from a lady who created her own books and covers using Microsoft 2003. She suggested an inexpensive book by Aaron Shepard, Perfect Pages: Self-Publishing with Microsoft Word. I already had MS 2003 and the book cost $14, much more appealing that the software programs I was researching which cost hundreds of dollars and promised hours of frustration to learn!

What do you feel is the single most detrimental thing a writer could do to destroy his/her career as a writer?
Lack of confidence, thus inhibiting the drive to move forward at any stage of the game. It only took me 52 years to get past “myself!” Being authentic is important, too, your audience will appreciate it!

What’s ahead for your writing?
eBooks are a great resource for me, now that Microsoft 2003 is my best friend!

This software has also made article writing for my website, blog and other publications a breeze! Watch for shorter books (Mayan Messages has 384 pages!) on topics that I love such as gardening, health tips and my life experiences. As a former school teacher and years in the medical industry, there is no shortage of tales. (We never did solve the mystery of how the “cow patty” magically appeared in the hospital shower!)

Learn more about Theresa Crabtree at MayanMessages.Wordpress.com


This post was sponsored by The Dabbling Mum.

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