Monday, June 28, 2010

Interview and Giveaway with Shawna Williams, author of "No Other"


Shawna K. Williams is an inspirational novelist who loves telling a story through flawed characters – the only kind she can relate to. She also likes a good dose of nostalgia, which is why many of her stories are set in rural America during the first half of the 20th Century. However, being a fan of other genres, including Science Fiction and Suspense, she has a few surprises planned for future works.

When not writing, Shawna spends time with her husband and three children enjoying life on their ranch. She's also an avid reader, book reviewer, blogger and jewelry designer

Published and Soon-to-Be Published Works
Short Stories:
My Father's Oldsmobile (Heart Touchers, Sermon Illustrator)
Anticipation (The Cynic)
What Happened Next (A Long Story Short, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal)
Books
No Other (Desert Breeze Publishing/May 2010)
In All Things (Desert Breeze Publishing/Nov. 2010)
Orphaned Hearts (Desert Breeze Publishing/Dec. 2010)

Here is my interview with Shawna:

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Shawna: I was struck with the desire to write about eight years ago after a really bizarre dream, unlike any I'd ever had. Prior to that, this wasn't something I'd never considered doing.

The dream was a complete story, in scenes, of a man and woman's life. First as they fell in love, then as young parents, then they faced the challenges of career and family, and last was from the perspective of an old woman, who watched her children from afar because she was a stranger to them. Weird, huh?

I couldn't stop thinking about it. For about six months I pondered on it, trying to fill in gaps about how they met, why did they choose certain career paths, why did she end up estranged from her family? It eventually grew so complex in my mind that I couldn't keep track and had to start writing. When I first began I didn't want to tell anyone, including my husband, because I thought they'd think I was crazy. As the story progressed though I eventually shared it with my husband, who was supportive from the start, then a few close friends.

By the time I was done, the book was around 167,000 words. And it was awful! I just didn't know it at the time. Over the next six years I revised, put away, pulled out and revised again, put away. Finally, a little over two years ago I felt like God was telling me it was time to get serious. That's when I started studying the craft of writing through books and critique groups. I also started submitting short stories, and was blessed to have several accepted for publication right away. That gave me the encouragement to rewrite the first part of my awful novel into a separate book, which comes out in May, and the sequel will release in November.

M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?

Shawna: I have a Bachelors degree from Abilene Christian University. It's kind of embarrassing though because it's in Fashion Merchandising, which at ACU was like a mixture of a business degree and a degree in fine arts, leaning more toward the business side of things. I do design jewelry so I suppose I use it a little bit. And...I guess the business angle has come in handy from a marketing standpoint, since authors do most of their own promotion, but I basically have never used it. (Sorry Dad, Mom, I know you guys paid big bucks for my education. At least I made good grades!)

I also have certification as an interior decorator, but other than my own house, and a few houses we've restored, I haven't really used that either.

And I homeschool our three children, so I figure I will have earned the equivalent of four high school diplomas, including mine, by the time our youngest graduates.

As far as writing goes, I'm basically self taught, using numerous books on the craft and learning through the feedback I received from critique groups. And of course, practice, practice, practice. I think I'm one of those classic cases of youth being wasted on the young, because I'm just now figuring out what I really want to do.

M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?

Shawna: Characters! Characters that can deliver a spiritual message through their thoughts and struggles. I love this! I know they're made up in my head, and maybe this makes me a little crazy, but I love the complexity of people -- and being able to create characters that reflect this helps me to understand myself and those around me much better.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Shawna: Well, I told you about my dream, and how I'd write, put it away, pull it out and write some. Once I decided to get serious about getting published I really set my mind to learning. It actually happened very quickly for me, but I think that had a lot to do with timing.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Shawna: Absolutely! I knew I wanted to write Christian Fiction, because it's just who I am. I was coming from a particular point of view because of my experiences. God had done so much in my life, and I was so grateful and wanted to portray that in stories. However, I actually had not read many Christian Fiction books. Since that was the genre I wanted to write I decided I better familiarize myself, but the first few books I picked up weren't for me. I'm not saying they were poorly written or boring. They just weren't stories that encouraged me – though I'm sure they did plenty of others.

The reason for my discouragement had to do with my needs and perspective. And I'll be honest, at first them not being met made me mad. I even remember thinking, "If this is Christian fiction, I don't want to write it." This largely had to do with the stories being very sanitized, and me not relating to any of the characters. Then I began to question if perhaps there was something wrong with me. Maybe I wasn't what a Christian was supposed to be. But then I realized this was no fault of the author, I was listening to the lies of my own insecurities, and not having faith in God's Grace. And this put a fire in me to write stories that portrayed this -- which No Other, and the sequel, In All Things, do – because I knew there had to be others like me.

When I began to read about the things I needed to do, I hit another point of discouragement. First off, every book I came across said that if this was my first novel, and No Other is, then it better not have any of the big no-no issues in it (alcoholism, premarital sex, infidelity, drug abuse...etc) and well, No Other does. It also has a really odd set-up, which stated outright sounds horrible. I'm referring to a romantic relationship between a teacher and her student. However, in No Other, Jakob, the student had dropped out of school to care for his family, and when he returned an old schoolmate had become a teacher and he ended up in her class. In the story she's about a year and a half older. Having said all of this, the relationship is still unethical, and pursuing it forces the characters to lie, and there are consequences for it.

Now, just imagine my pitch as a first time author to an agent! See my point.

The other big discouragement was that everything I read said I needed to start attending conferences, and I couldn't. It simply wasn't in the budget. For these reasons I decided that a small press was my best option. But I actually think that's where God wanted it all all along. There were too many coincidences that led me to finding Desert Breeze Publishing. I've been very happy with them! It's a great fit.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

Shawna: In the day I try to take care of the promotion stuff, edit, and read for reviews. These things can easily be set aside to make time for my kids' needs. I write at night after everyone is asleep. I have to have uninterrupted quiet.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

Shawna: This idea for No Other and In All Things came from that dream I mentioned, and I did worry for awhile if I'd come up with any more stories on my own. But then Orphaned Hearts hit me one day. It was inspired by my granddad, who grew up as an orphan, though the story is totally different. One day I just got to thinking about a grown man, who had been an orphan trying to find a family for a boy who was an orphan, and the satisfaction he might feel in succeeding.

I think there's a plethora of things that can inspire a story; dreams, experiences, that funny little question, "What if?" I currently have four ideas brewing from a mixture of these things

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?

Shawna: I keep coming back to Grace, don't I? I hope people will come away with a feeling of comfort in knowing that God sees them, and cares for them even in their blunders. And...on occasion even works something miraculous from those goofs. I think this is especially true when He sees a contrite heart, doing the best he/she can.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline
first?

Shawna: I get an idea and write a summary. Then I go to work on a first draft, which is always a horrible, meandering psycho babble, with a lot of internal monologue in which the character ponders his or her predicament while doing menial tasks. Every now and then a great scene full of action will hit, but mostly it's a lot of garbage. As a matter of fact, I'm working on a rewrite right now, and I'm using my first draft to give me direction, but I couldn't have two files with the same name, so I when I started the rewrite I renamed the first draft, "Crappy First Draft that I Might Use Some Stuff From."

The main objective with the rewrite is that everything should keep the story moving forward to the end goal. So I write down objectives for each chapter, and then let the creative process take hold.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Shawna: Oh yes. I just push through it. It usually means I've lost my direction and need to go write some more meandering stuff to help me know my character better. Then they'll tell me what they need to happen.

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?

Shawna: Know them! Figure out their history, and I don't just mean the 'born in', 'grew up here' kind of stuff. What happened to them as a child, and not just them, their family? What's their personality like? I actually went so far as to study Carl Jung's personality theory and even formulated my characters around a MBTI type. This helps to keep them consistent by giving me an idea of how they process information and emotions, react in a crowd and so forth. This also is great for creating conflict by knowing how character's personalities are likely to interpret the other.

If I wasn't a writer, maybe I should have been a psychiatrist.

M.B.: What is something about yourself people don’t know?

Shawna: When I was eighteen I danced on a late-night show in Hong Kong. The summer before my high school drill team was at a dance camp, and some of us were invited to go to Hong Kong and perform. I don't remember the name of the show, but I do remember them telling us it was sort of like Johnny Carson. (Yes, this was back before Jay Leno, but not by much) We also performed in a park. However that performance is really fuzzy to me. I think I blocked it out of my mind due to my costume being the most hideous thing EVER! Seriously. It was a red lycra one piece with silver fringe hanging off the SHOULDER PADS!!!

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

Shawna: Be true to yourself. You need to learn the craft, but don't lose your voice in the process. There's a balance between what you can take away from a critique group in order to hone your skills, and trying to heed so much advice that you end up losing what makes you unique. Rules are good, but in the words of Captain Jack Sparrow, "They're more like guidelines anyway."

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

AUTHOR
http://www.amazon.com/No-Other-ebook/dp/B003K15MY0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1274948010&sr=1-1

http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-86/No-Other/Detail.bok




No Other is also available at The Sony Reader Store, Books on Board, and Allromance Ebooks. And very soon it will be available at Barnes&Noble's ebook store, and the iBookstore for iPad. They have all of DBP's books but haven't loaded them yet, s

Here's two reviews I like:

This is a romance novel that won my heart, even though I normally do not read romance. Shawna's mastery of characterization infused the story with such believability, and I fell in love with Jakob and Meri. No sappy scenes, no corny lines--this book is about story. Yes, it's a love story, but it is so much more.

Set in post WWII Texas, Jakob's German family faces discrimination while they try to rebuild their household. His parents have returned from an internment camp, and his brother has returned as a war hero. Jakob must now step down from his patriarchal role and make his own return--to the high school he had left three years earlier in order to care for his younger siblings in his parents' and older brother's absence.

Matters become even more complicated when he steps into his classroom and discovers his old classmate, Meri Parker, sitting behind the teacher's desk. Their worlds couldn't be more different--she'd had all the advantages Jakob had not. Wealth, college, no one to care for but herself. But Jakob saw what no one else could--how trapped Meri was by her so-called advantages. With his own family restored, Jakob's natural instinct to rescue shifts its attention to Meri.

No Other is beautifully written. If you love romance, you will love No Other. And if you don't like romance...no matter. You'll still love it.
Kat Heckenbach is the author of three books and nearly forty published short stories, articles and essays.

There is "no other" story like it. Seriously.

This debut novel by author Shawna Williams took my breath away. It sounds cliche, but I don't know how else to describe the emotions that moved through me as I read this book. My heart was engaged and fully invested in the outcome.

I read most of this book in one sitting. It's a perfect historical romance in that the tension kept building and it made me want them to work things out and find a way to be together. I fell in love with the characters and empathized with their situations. I also felt firmly grounded in the time period.

The author's use of dialog was masterful. I could hear the characters speaking and their inner thoughts and dialog were consistent with that era. My favorite scene was toward the end when Jakob tries to do the right thing. The emotion was intense and so realistic I nearly cried myself. That's great writing because I felt something.

I loved how true to life this story seemed and it was edgy enough to make me want to cheer Shawna on. This story felt real to me because the characters were complex and three dimentional. There were a few shifts in plot that were delightful as well. I love it when the author does something you aren't expecting. Nice job! I can't wait for the next book. This is making my "favorites" list for fiction for this year - 2010.
Michelle Sutton is the author of over a dozen novels, including It's Not About Me, Best-Selling Danger at the Door, and Never Without Hope.

GIVEAWAY
Shawna wants to give away a pdf copy of the book. Along with that she will mail the winner a freshwater pearl/inspirational bracelet, and a signed postcard.

TO ENTER:
1 entry - post a comment on this blog
1 entry - follow this blog
1 entry - follow Shawna's blog

Also, for the month of May Shawna is running a contest with three prizes – a Good one, a Great one, and a Grand one. You can enter multiple times, the details are here. http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/p/no-other-prize-drawing-details.html
Anyone leaving a comment today gets one entry (please leave your email. I promise these will all be destroyed after the drawing) And, if you can answer this question you get another entry.

What did Meri want to be that her parents didn't approve of?

The answer can be found through Freado, where you can also read the first four chapters. http://www.freado.com/read/6928/no-other-by-shawna-k-williams
Or through the free sample available as a Kindle download.
http://www.amazon.com/No-Other-ebook/dp/B003K15MY0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1272736275&sr=1-1


Here are links where to find me.

http://shawnakwilliams.com/

http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-86/No-Other/Detail.bok
http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Shawna-K-Williams/236629884245?ref=ts
http://twitter.com/shawnakwilliams

And here is a link to the trailer
">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVxeR7yeztw





Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Interview with Braden Bell


Braden Bell grew up in Farmington, Utah and graduated from Davis High School. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theatre from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in educational theatre from New York University. He and his wife, Meredith live with their five children on a quiet, wooded lot outside of Nashville, Tennessee, where he teaches theatre and music at a private school. An experienced performer, Braden enjoys singing, acting, reading, gardening, and long walks with the dog.


From the back of the book:
“Brother Jenson, you’ve been called as the ward road show specialist. Would you accept that calling?”

What? The road show? The greatest fear of all Mormon theatre artists. The curse of anyone who does theatre. No, no, no! This isn’t happening. The road show! What can I do? I can’t do this! This is like asking Mack Wilberg to lead the ward choir or Danny Ainge to coach church basketball.

“Sure,” Scott answered quietly.

Scott Jenson hates everything he knows about road shows, especially the cheap costumes, silly songs, and bad acting. So when he finds himself agreeing to be the road show specialist, he wonders how he can do it without becoming the biggest fool in the ward. From miscues to missed practices, Scott directs his crew of amateur actors all while hoping that no one finds out about his secret.

Is there any way that this trivial road show could have a healing effect on those who participate? A pornography addict, a depressed young mother, a sick older sister, a lonely outcast, and a spiritually numb elder’s quorum president are about to find out.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wasn't prepared to get so connected to these characters and each of their stories. With an ensemble cast of characters it can be difficult to feel like you get enough background to invest in each of them, but Bell does a superb job of tapping into the emotional drive and situation of each character to the point where the reader is anxious to see how all the stories will tie together and how their lives will change once it does.

I enjoyed this story and felt it had a lot of insight into how people's lives can follow an unexpected path filled with obstacles and heartache, but also how that path can lead us to the Savior.

I hope you'll take time to read this book! I highly recommend it.

Here is my interview with Braden:

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Braden: Almost literally as long as I can remember. I have always read voraciously and so I think wanting to be an author grew naturally from that love. I remember in 5th grade, setting up an “office” in my room so I could write all summer long.

M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?

Braden: My degrees are in theatre, a BA and MA from BYU and a PhD from NYU. The most significant thing I’ve ever written was my dissertation. That was stressful, but it was also fulfilling and enjoyable and gave me the confidence that I could write for a wider audience than my children and wife. I have always written for fun—it’s what I do to unwind and relax.

M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?

Braden: I’m not entirely sure. It is just something that is deeply satisfying to me, something that seems to be part of my soul. It’s what I would do if I had absolute freedom to do anything I wanted.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Braden: Like most other people, it was challenging. There were rejections and rewrites and moments of despair along the way.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Braden: I was incredibly discouraged on many occasions! I just kept going, kept trying. I’m a big believer in persistence and endurance. The love and support of my wife was also a substantial part of how I coped with discouragement.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

Braden: Since I work full-time and have kids and a church calling, my writing schedule is irregular. I mainly write late at night in bed, on my laptop. I try to write something every day but that is not always a possibility. I take my laptop everywhere I go, though, or a binder filled with pages I’m proofing or editing. I snatch every possible minute I can find.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

Braden: I don’t have a lot of experience on this since The Road Show is my first published book. But ideas generally just pop into my mind. I start writing them down and ask a lot of “what if” questions. If story emerges, then I usually run with it.

M.B.: When did the idea for this book first come to you?

Braden: I directed a road show about ten years ago. During that time, my wife told me about a sister in our ward who was really struggling with depression. Somehow, that triggered a little storm of “what ifs” in my mind. I started asking “what if the leading lady in the road show had depression and this was some kind of lifeline?” “What if the director had a secret he was ashamed of?” “What if the leading man was a grumpy elder’s quorum president…” and so on. It all came together on the steps leading up to the stage right before our ward performed.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?

Braden: I hope they will enjoy the story and the characters. I hope the characters will seem like real people. In addition to that, I hope readers will re-examine their assessments of others around them in their wards and look a little deeper. I also hope readers will have a renewed faith in the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to heal and comfort.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline
first?

Braden: With this book, the prologue and last scene just flashed into my head. Once I had those written, like bookends, I tried to fill in the rest. That took me several years, much longer than I anticipated. I am very intuitive as a writer—I write to see what happens next. Once I have a rough draft, I go back and do a little more formal organizing.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Braden: Yes, I do. I usually go mow my lawn and work in the garden. I find if I don’t worry too much about it, the answer usually comes. Because of the spiritual nature of this book, I also did a lot of fasting and prayer.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

Braden: I don’t need it silent, but I like it quiet. Since I write late at night, in bed, I generally don’t listen to music.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Braden: My problem has always been trying to control and corral my very active imagination. For me inspiration is the easy part, the hard part is the discipline of writing it, finishing it, editing it, etc. I have at least a dozen half-finished novels languishing in my computer.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Braden: I love to read and learn from everything I read. I love Charles Dickens. His characters have always been so real to me. Being in theatre, I love Shakespeare, of course. His facility with language is stunning. I also have really come to admire the spare, clean economy of Suzanne Collins. I am amazed at how much she can say very simply. Also, the woman who edited my dissertation, a wonderful person named Margaret Anzul. She taught me a great deal about writing, and also gave me confidence.

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?

Braden: I hope I did make them come to life. They seemed so real to me. Since theatre is my background, I used a lot of theatrical techniques to create the characters. Defining objectives, using subtext, employing tactics, trying to create the emotional reality and then letting the actions follow.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

Braden: Because of where I was when I wrote this—working on my doctorate and serving as a bishop, I really didn’t have time for a critique group. I now have one, though, and love it. It has been a real help.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

Braden: This is the only book I have published, so the list of candidates is small. But I’m working on a middle grade fantasy novel that takes place in a small private school. I have really enjoyed writing that since I teach at a small, private school.

M.B.: What is something about yourself people don’t know?

Braden: That’s tough. Most of what is interesting is widely known, and most of what isn’t widely known is not all that interesting. I teach middle school theatre and music. I played Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady.

M.B.: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Braden: Ginger ale. Undoubtedly.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

Braden: I’m afraid I only have the old clich├ęs—write as often as you can and then just keep submitting. Don’t stop when (not if) you are discouraged.

M.B.: What are you working on now?

Braden: I mentioned the middle grade fantasy novel. That’s what I’m working most actively on. I’ve also got a few starts for some other LDS novels—one about a young family that goes to do grad school in New York City, another about the funeral of a man who has lived a long and useful life, and another about a troubled marriage that is trying to heal. I’m really hoping to find an agent to represent me with the fantasy novel. We’ll see.

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Braden: Any bookstore ought to be able to order it. But I know for a fact the book can be found on Amazon.com. You can also get information from my website, http://www.bradenbell.com

Friday, June 18, 2010

HOMETOWN GIRL LAUNCH PARTY!!!! SAVE THE DATE!!!


IT'S OFFICIAL! GET EXCITED! SAVE THE DATE!


BOOK LAUNCH PARTY
Hometown Girl - By Michele Ashman Bell

Friday, July 16th
6:30-8:30 p.m.
South Towne Seagull Book
(31 W. 10600 S., Sandy)
or
Saturday, July 17th
11 a.m.- 1 p.m.
Redwood Seagull Book
(1720 S. Redwood Road, SLC)



GIVEAWAYS. . . . . . GIFT BASKETS. . . . . . UTAH TRUFFLES. . . . . . REFRESHMENTS . . . . . . FUN. . . . . . PRIZES . . . . . . DON'T MISS THE PARTY!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Interview with Michael Young, author of "The Canticle Kingdom" ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK!


Michael is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a degree in German Teaching and a minor in Music. He lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and his son Jarem. Michael enjoys writing fiction, acting in community theater, and spend­ing time with his family. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square and is now a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

When a young blacksmith s apprentice named Johann discovers that his homeland is contained entirely within a small music box, it s up to him to protect the only home he s ever known. With the help of an impossibly ancient knight, his best friend, Brigitta, and his trusty homemade sword, Johann races to find the only people who can who can stop the dark power that threatens to destroy the Canticle Kingdom an unsuspecting family and an old woodcarver from the outside world. Enter a world full of magic, danger, loyalty and bravery in this exciting debut from Michael Young, and discover that even the most ordinary objects and people might be hiding something truly wonderful inside.

This book was fun and imaginative, perfect for young adult readers, but could also be read with younger readers who like books with excitement and adventure.

I had a chance to interview Michael recently. Here is what he had to say.

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Michael: I dabbled in writing all growing up, but it was first in High School that I decided to get serious about it and attempt a novel. I consider that one my practice novel, but it really gave me confidence.

M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?

Michael: My educational background is in education. I have a B.A. from BYU in German Teaching and a minor in music. My writing is just something I'm working on improving every day.

M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?

Michael: I love telling stories. I grew up telling stories to my seven younger siblings and I loved how they reacted to my stories. They were really into them, and it made me feel excited that I could have that effect on them.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Michael: It was about a five year path. It was one of those ideas that just sort of dropped into my lap, and I got to work on it right away. However, I was going to school and working full time at the time and so it was slow going. I met my publisher at a publisher's fair at BYU and they helped me make some edits that greatly enhanced the book, before rolling it out to stores.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Michael: I don't think it's possible to write a novel and not meet some discouragement. It's a long process and often thankless during the writing portion. There is always the fear that no one will like what you are doing and all that hard work would be for nothing. In those times, it really helped me not to try to focus on the future, but on the page I was writing right now. It can be too overwhelming otherwise.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

Michael: I'm a night owl, so I do most of my writing at night after everything else is done. However, I also find little times during the day, such as during lunch breaks to scribble a few things down on a piece of paper. I try to write something every day, no matter how busy I am.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

Michael: So often, they just surface at strange times, spurred on by some little thing that happened in my day. Some ideas just keep nagging at me, sticking with me for days, and I think that's how I know it's compelling enough to write about.

M.B.: When did the idea for this book first come to you?

Michael: I was working at Target organizing shelves. Not your usual fount of inspiration, but somehow it worked.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?

Michael: I hope they will get a little sense that sometimes the world is bigger than what it seems to be.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline
first?

Michael: I usually think about my story at various times during the day and then put it all together at night. I'm very much in to letting the story and characters lead me where they want to go.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Michael: That does happen. That's why I usually have a few projects going at once. When I hit a snag in one, I go to another one and then return later to the first one with fresh eyes.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

Michael: I do not need absolute quiet. I often do have music on, but usually something without words so I don't get too distracted.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Michael: I look for little quirky things in life, such as a particularity interesting person whom I meet. I try to take interesting aspects of places and people and incorporate them in some way into my story.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Michael: I think I would have to say, other Utah writers that have really worked hard and made a place for themselves in the national market. Kudos to people like Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card and others.

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?

Michael: Making them well-rounded and remembering that there are very few real “Supermen.” Put them in situations that cause the readers to be sympathetic to them.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

Michael: Yes. I go to other authors, use www.critiquecircle.com and let others who I know look at it. You can't just see everything wrong in your own writing.

M.B.: What is something about yourself people don’t know?

Michael: Well, my friends know, but most people wouldn't: I'm 'double jointed' in all of my fingers. (Meaning I can bend them to unnatural angles. It's really great when trying to entertain children.)

M.B.: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Michael: I'm a chips person. I have to be careful though, because I get into the story and then realize “Holy cow, I ate half the bag already!”

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

Michael: Persistence. If you get a rejection, send it out again that day. Don't take things personally and just have confidence in your work.

M.B.: What are you working on now?

Michael: I am working on a sequel to “The Canticle Kingdom” as well as a few other fantasy novels and even a musical and a play. I like to mix things up.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share

Michael: As an educator, I also try to provide things on my website that teachers and piano teachers can use at no cost. I'm also working on a summer reading site revolving around my writing. Thanks for reading!

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Michael: Check out my website at www.writermike.com. You can also order on Amazon.com (http://amzn.com/1599553627 ) and find it at Deseret Book, Barnes and Noble and Borders.

If you want to win a copy of Michael's book, here's all you have to do.

1 entry - post a comment on this blog
1 entry - follow my blog
2 entries - add my button to your blog

The winner of the JANETTE RALLISON book giveaway will be announced next week. You have one more week to enter!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book Review posted

Book review of Summer in Paris on My Five Monkeys blog. Go HERE to check it out!

Go to the site and leave a comment there and then leave a comment on this blog post and let me know, and your name will automatically be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of the book.