Thursday, April 19, 2018

Interview with short story writer C.D. Gallant-King

Today is the first interview in a series with the authors of:
Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

About the anthology:
The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

“Each story is fast paced, grabbing the reader from the beginning.”
 - Readers' Favorite, 5 stars

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter.

First up is C.D. Gallant-King. His short story is a mystery/comedy called “Gussy Saint and the Case of the Missing Coed” in Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime.

C.D. Gallant-King wrote his first story when he was five years old, and he made his baby-sitter look up how to spell “extra-terrestrial” in the dictionary. He now writes stories about un-heroic people doing generally hilarious things in horrifying worlds. A loving husband and proud father of two wonderful little kids, C.D. was born and raised in Newfoundland and currently resides in Ottawa, Ontario. There was also a ten-year period in between where he tried to make a go of a career in Theatre in Toronto, but we don't talk about that.

What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
I like short stories with a hook, or even better, a twist. Short stories can’t be written just like mini-novels, it’s a completely different skill and style. A short story needs something that makes it memorable, something to make it jump out at the reader with only a few pages to get your point across. I can’t say I’ve always succeeded in finding that special spark, but it’s a lot of fun to try, and very satisfying when it works.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
Well, I’m contractually obligated by Dancing Lemur Press to say that the Gussy Saint story in Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime is the best thing I’ve ever written. With the legalities out of the way, I can tell you honestly that Gussy Saint was a lot of fun to write. It’s a mystery/crime sort of story, borrowing freely from those terrible old Mickey Spillane books, but with the same lack of seriousness that infects all of my stories. I love to blend serious genres with weird humour. I had a story published in Strangely Funny IV last year, which is a collection of comedic horror stories. My tale included four main characters who were killed in horrific ways nine times between them. If that math makes sense to you then you will definitely appreciate my sense of humour.

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
If comedy is a “genre” then I’ll go with that, but usually I tend toward fantasy and speculative fiction. I like having the option to have anything and everything happen in a story, without the silly constraints of dumb things like death, gravity or the combustion point of small mammals.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m hoping to have another installment of my Werebear vs Landopus series completed in the near future. It’s a weird, comic fantasy with a lot of potty humour and senseless violence. It’s heartwarming. And the next part will feature a nun with a gun.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still don’t, half the time. I’m a monkey that flings words at a typewriter and sometimes good stuff comes out. I’ve been writing my whole life, but I rarely call myself a “writer.” A friend of my wife once greeted me with, “So you’re a man of letters!” and I basically replied “What the _ are you talking about?” It’s just not something you discuss in polite company.

That being said, I think the single-most defining moment for me thinking of myself a writer is when I hit “Publish” on Amazon with my first self-published book. That was the moment when I realized a certain threshold had been crossed, and I was actually putting my work out into the world for people to read and hopefully enjoy. I was now out in the world, and there was no turning back.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
I don’t, which is probably why my success has been limited, and I’ve been rejected by plenty of places that I had no business submitting to in the first place. In that vein, my advice would be “Don’t be afraid to fail.” Revel in your rejection and wear it as a sense of pride. Every writer goes through this, and if you’re persistent and continue to hone your writing, eventually you will whittle down your options and find exactly the right audience for your work. Because you will have tried and failed everything else.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I outline after I write. For some reason, writing the outline beforehand hurts the fun and creativity of writing for me. I like to just sit down and write and hammer out a story, then go back afterward and try to mold it into something that makes sense. It ends up taking a heck of a lot longer and being a lot more work this way, but it’s what works.

Also, I do most of my writing with my laptop balanced precariously on my knees on a crowded bus. Is that quirky?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The first thing I remember wanting to be was a bricklayer. I was a big LEGO fan. It was in grade 4 that I decided I wanted to be a writer, but even back then I realized it was probably a terrible idea. So then I went to university to study to be an actor.

Yeah, I’m terrible at choosing careers. I probably should have stuck with bricklaying.

Thanks for being here today, C.D.!

Tick Tock links:


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Interview with mystery author John Feldman

Author John Feldman is in the hot seat today. We’re chatting a little bit about his new mystery-suspense, Out of Hiding.

During his virtual book tour, John will be awarding at $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice), to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

John Feldman was born and raised in southern New Jersey, but has since moved to Florida at the request (demand) of his beautiful wife. He has written several short stories and novels, including his newest release, Out of Hiding. He writes a lot, thinks a lot more, and is currently wondering why he’s writing this in the third person.

Welcome, John. Please share a little bit about your current release.
First, Lisa, I’d like to thank you for having me. These characters have been stuck in my head for years and to be able to talk about them now is an amazing feeling.

The book centers around Emily Geiser, a young woman who’s been dealt a bad hand. When she was a teenager, her mother left her stepfather for her best friend…yes, Emily’s best friend. But the worst part? Her mother blamed her. So when she finally finds love almost ten years later, she feels as though she’s finally escaped the horrible life she’s been glued to. But what she doesn’t know is that the man she loves has a wild past of his own, and the family and friends that surround him are a merciless band of killers…and she’s their next target.

What inspired you to write this book?
It was actually my wife who created Emily. She also created the idea of Emily falling for an older, wealthier man, so I’m not too sure if I should be worried, since I’m neither old nor wealthy. But I was having severe creativity block a few years ago and I asked her to give me a name, any name, and she gave me Emily’s. And from there, we worked on a story. She spent about an hour giving me some details and I spent the next three-plus years making a story of it. I’d say we’re even.

Excerpt from Out of Hiding:
He can feel her still looking over at him and the gas cannot pump fast enough. He’s made it two states away and he’ll be damned if this one woman is the end of him. He’ll kill her right here if he has to. Right here in this parking lot. Let her nosey ass get a little closer and then slit her throat. Dump some gasoline on her smug body and watch her squirm until the life drains out of her. That’ll teach her to look over here.
She starts to walk toward him.

It’s not full yet, the tank, but he’s not taking any chances. He removes the nozzle, replaces the gas cap and heads for his car door.

Don’t do it, Lady, he thinks as he yanks back on the door handle. But she does it.

“Excuse me,” she says.

Herb stops, shuts his eyes. Breathe. He looks at her and smiles, but receives no smile in return. Instead he gets the look of curiosity, only magnified. She is within mere feet of him now and those squinted eyes show crow’s feet attached. Her mouth is open, lower jaw just hanging there lazily as she thinks.

“Are you…?” she begins, but then stops. And right at that very moment, Herb can feel the cold steel of the switchblade in his pocket. Hey, it’s saying to him. Come and get me.

What exciting story are you working on next?
A novel about a frustrated writer who kills people to make his work authentic. His name is Brian Hart and he’s been writing for nearly fifteen years (I’ve been writing for nearly fifteen years) and has yet to be traditionally published (I, also, have yet to be traditionally published) and is sick of the consistent rejection letters (as am I) and decides the only way to make his writing authentic is if he kills people so he can make the killings as convincing as possible. …No similarity with me and the character here; I’m too out of shape to be hunting people down. I’ll stick with Googling my descriptions.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been writing since I was 20 years old, but could never muster up the courage to call myself a writer. Whenever someone asked what I do for a living, I’d always tell them what I do full-time (for now), embarrassed to say that I’m a writer because I’d never been published. But a few years ago—not many—I read a quote from JK Rowling that was something along the lines of her saying that once she stopped kidding herself and admitted she was a writer and nothing else, her work began to flourish. Since then, I’ve told everyone I’m a writer. You’d be surprised at how many people respond with “Really? And you make a living off of that?” I lie and tell them I do.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write full-time, it’s just after my other full-time job. I easily put in 40 hours a week worth of writing and marketing. But that comes after my forty hours of working my pays-the-bills job. My “other job” (just a placeholder until I’m dethroning James Patterson) is in the IT field and has me occupied during the day. But I wake up early in the morning around 4 AM. I write for a few hours until it’s time to get the kiddies ready for school and then I do my work thing. At night, I work on trying to market and advertise and be my own publicist–for any aspiring writers out there, marketing is as important, if not more important, than writing itself. Especially in an agent’s eyes.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Most interesting writing quirk? Maybe that I don’t have one, as odd as that sounds. Some people need to write in one certain place, or during certain points of the day, or even need to hit a specific word count to feel they’ve done enough. There’s nothing wrong with any of these quirks, I just don’t typically abide by any of them. I write what I can, when I can, and as often as I can.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was a typical boy, playing all the major sports. Ice hockey was my true love and although I was never any good, I always envisioned pulling a Philadelphia Flyers sweater over my shoulders. Funny, I turned out choosing a path that has me stationary and out of shape. Life throws some curve balls, doesn’t it?

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you. Thank you to you, Lisa, for hosting me and to anyone taking the time to read this interview or any of my writing. It’s redundant to say that it’s an honor to have people even consider reading my book when there are so many great ones out there, but it really is just that: an honor. It’s humbling to know that someone will read over the work I spent over three years writing and (fingers crossed here) find it entertaining.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Interview with memoirist Carol Rosenberger

My special guest today is Carol Rosenberger. She’s here to talk about her memoir (releasing today), To Play Again.

 Ravishing, elegant pianism wrote The New York Times of American pianist Carol Rosenberger, whose four-decade concert career is represented by over thirty recordings on the Delos label. Many are enduring favorites worldwide, and have brought her a Grammy Award nomination, Gramophones Critics Choice Award, Stereo Reviews Best Classical Compact Disc and Billboards All Time Great Recording.
At age twenty-one, poised to begin her concert career, Carol was stricken with polio. It took ten years of retraining and rebuilding before she could begin playing again, and another five years before her career began officially. Her dramatic story is an inspiration to many.
Milwaukee Sentinels Jay Joslyn wrote: Polio destroyed every tool a pianist must have except heart and mind. With legendary dedication, Ms. Rosenberger overcame her musical death sentence. The insight and understanding she gained through her ordeal is apparent in the high quality of her musicianship.
Carol has been the subject of articles in many leading newspapers and magazines, and as an artist teacher, was a faculty member of the University of Southern California and gave performance workshops nationwide.
            With Delos founder Amelia Haygood, Carol coproduced many recordings by world-class artists. After Haygoods death in 2007, Carol became the labels director.

Welcome, Carol. Please tell us about your current release.
In the words of composer Mark Abel, “To Play Again is a gripping journey through time, place, and emotion that will have you marveling at Carol Rosenberger’s indefatigable determination to attain her dreams against the most formidable odds.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to tell people how I overcame what medical experts called impossible odds. I thought it might be helpful to describe how I found ways around neuromuscular blockages, and created pathways that no medical people thought could be developed.

Excerpt from To Play Again:
“That’s something no one can take away from you!” said the tall man, whose large hazel eyes were glistening with tears. He bent over slightly and gripped my hand so firmly that I couldn’t help wincing. “Oh, sorry, I mustn’t hurt those valuable hands!” he added and relaxed his grip, looking down at my hand as if he expected it to have extra fingers or other strange properties.
            There was still a long line of people who had come backstage to greet me after my performance, but he lingered for a moment longer.

I’d been playing the piano for as long as I could remember. My earliest memory is of the keyboard high above my head as I stood in front of it, holding onto it for support. I still remember the excitement of reaching up to the smooth white keys and pressing one of them. The sound drew me into it; I floated with that sound, as it seemed to fill me and the space around me. Even then, I couldn’t get enough of that sound and the thrill of producing it.
            After nineteen years of bonding with the instrument and many performances over the latter half of those years, I still felt that way about playing the piano. But now it was more than my greatest joy. It was me. It was my very identity. If anyone had asked me that key psychological question, “Who are you?” my immediate response would have been, “I’m a pianist.” Then I might have thought to add, “I’m Carol Rosenberger.”
            I was “on my way,” as one says of a concert career.

I remember how satisfying it was to dig my hands into the rich figuration of the Chopin sonata. It had been one of my biggest successes in public performance, but now it was flowing better than ever. A heightened vision of the piece was forming in my mind, and I felt just on the brink of realizing it.
            Suddenly a sharp pain shot through my left hand.
            It was a kind of pain I’d never felt before. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew it wasn’t a muscle ache. I’d had those on occasion when I’d plunged into practicing after a few days away from the piano, or when I had practiced too many octaves at one sitting. But this was different. Something about it made me think of the Novocain needle in a dentist’s office.
            I knew I should stop practicing for the day. Protecting my hands was an automatic reflex. I avoided sharp knives, kept a safe distance from a closing car door, and had developed a similar list of automatic responses that any serious pianist would recognize. You just don’t take chances with the investment of a lifetime.
            I got up from the piano and walked around the room, shaking my hand and swinging my arm. Even though I knew it wasn’t a muscle ache, I couldn’t think what else to do. But the pain didn’t stop.

What exciting story are you working on next?
This book is my one-and-only!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I began writing in 1979 when I wrote liner notes for my international best-selling CD, Water Music of the Impressionists. I continued to write liner notes and commentary connected with recordings. I wrote magazine articles for Music Journal and Musical America as well as some newspaper articles. During my teaching years at University of Southern California, I wrote materials for my students. I kept a journal during my performing career, beginning in my early thirties, and began working on my memoir some 30 years ago.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Now that I’m running a classical label, I don’t have much time to write except for occasional liner note commentary.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’ve become skilled at using Dragon Dictate for Mac, to save arms and shoulders for piano-playing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A concert pianist.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope this book says to readers “Don’t give up!”

I have a personal website, and there is a long-established Delos website containing information about me, and blogs I’ve written. Delos is the classical label for which I made over 30 recordings, and then took over the directorship after the death of its founder.

Thank you for being here today, Carol.