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THIS BLOG HAS BEEN MOVED - FOR THE MOST UP TO DATE POSTS, PLEASE VISIT

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Katy's Cookbook by Colin Harvey

Tell us the book title and your author name.
Katy’s Cookbook by Colin Harvey

What inspired the book?
Several things; my wife Kate (her full name is Katy, hence the title) has been collecting recipes for years, playing with them to suit to taste (we like spicy food, for example), some –like the trifle- have been passed down from grandparents or even great-grandparents; I’ve tried to read her writing, and often joked that I need to type them up to be able to read them; then my publisher asked for a recipe, and I realized we had enough for a book. Put all of those things together and voila! Katy’s Cookbook!

What makes this book special to you?
Because Kate is very shy and retiring, and would never dream of pushing herself forward. If books are an author’s shot at immortality, then this is our equivalent of the Taj Mahal in India . I hope that in years to come people will know of Kate through this, if through nothing else.

What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?
It’s for people like me who don’t consider that they can cook, but who find out that, erm, actually, they can, if they just have a set of instructions to follow.
What people NEED to read this book and WHY?
I’m concerned at the number of people who can’t cook, or can’t be bothered, when some things take only a few minutes. I’m worried at the number of people who are overweight, but don’t know how to go about changing their diet.
For example, did you know that a portion of spinach a week can defer the onset of Age-Related Macular Degeneration? (It’s a form of blindness that comes with old age) I hate spinach. But bury it in food that masks its taste, and I’m fine with it.
Food should be fun, not punishment. So we’ve put recipes that are mostly as healthy as we can make them without being boring, but which are also as quick as we can make them, because like most people, we don’t want to spend a lot of time hunched over a cooker.
But there are some which are about taking your time, or even marinading overnight. It’s all about variety.
NON FICTION - Why are you the BEST person to write this book? What in your background or in your research makes you qualified to do justice to this topic?
(Laughs) Well, I had the recipes, so no one else could have…
…but seriously, that’s the whole point. I’m just an ordinary man who likes his food, and can read a set of instructions. I’m hoping that we’ll inspire other people to try these recipes, and then they’ll create some others – who knows, maybe we can get cooking back into people’s lives?

NON FICTION - If a potential reader thinks that your book wouldn't interest them, what would you say to convince them to buy? I'm thinking something better than "Its the greatest book ever." Give me something more specific :)
Do you like food? Are you concerned about your health? Do you want to know what goes into your food? Do you like a challenge – such as cooking a meal? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes,’ then buy the book and try some of the recipes!

NON FICTION - Why does the topic of your book interest you? Why would it interest potential readers? Give us a hook to reel in new readers.
Because I’m a gannet -- I can eat for England . But I also like to be able to see my feet, and to not hear my doctor take a sharp intake of breath when they check my blood pressure. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who wants to ‘eat their cake and have it.’ Oh look, there’s another common saying that involves food….

NON FICTION Is there a way to tie your book topic to current events? If so, tell us about how you could do that. I have a blog to feature information and examples about tying books into current events that might be a good place for you to promote your book.
I think that obesity and potentially declining life-spans are about the most current events that you can have. We’re sitting on a demographic time-bomb, and I don’t know about in the US , but in the UK the politicians are proposing raising the age of retirement on one hand, while people will have lower life expectancy on the other. This current crop of retirees may be living the Last Golden Age, whereby they have long lives after retirement. Instead we could be looking at working into the grave. I don’t know about you, but if cutting salt and fat in my diet means I hang around a few more years on this planet, then the salt and fat go into the rubbish bin!
This book won’t change that – but if enough people start to think about what they’re doing, maybe we can tackle our quality of life. It’s not consciously a health book – but that’s the whole point; everything we eat should be geared toward not pumping fat into our arteries and creating cancers in our bodies. It should be the norm, not something that’s unusual. That’s not a swipe at other cookbooks, by the way, but at the instant food lobby at the drive-thru.

If there's anything else you would like to share, this is the time and place.
I’ve suddenly realized that I sound like a zealot! Seriously, food should be fun too. And it makes a wonderful Christmas present, if you’re still looking for that unusual something, for that special someone…. J
Thank you for visiting with me and in closing, give us your website address and a link to order your book.
No, thank you for having me here, and to everyone who’s read this far. Have a wonderful Christmas and a great – and healthy – 2008!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Silk Palace by Colin Harvey


Tell us the book title and your author name.
The Silk Palace by Colin Harvey

What inspired the book?
At the risk of sounding mercenary, it was a call for submissions from a then editor at Tor, who subsequently left, but by then the damage was done. She was looking for work in a specific sub-genre; I’d never read any of the works that inspired the call, but I had just finished Lightning Days and was looking for the next project. But as with Lightning Days, my subconscious took over and we ended up somewhere completely different!

What makes this book special to you?
Well, in an odd sort of way, we’re like a father and daughter who are just getting reconciled. I got so far into the book and stopped enjoying writing. Agatha Christie had the same problem with The Mystery of the Blue Train, but she and it were never reconciled, whereas my ugly duckling and I seem to have forgiven each other.

What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?
Um, I’m a Brit, and to be honest language like that makes me cringe. Sorry.
It’s got perhaps the most other-worldly setting in sword-and-sorcery in many years. And I wanted a heroine who wasn’t strong or brave, at least until she was backed into a corner.

What people NEED to read this book and WHY?
People who are interested in epic fantasy that has a brain should read it, and people who say that epic fantasy doesn’t have a brain should read it!

What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?
Going to new places; doing new things; reading. Keep reading outside your own peer group, and do something new every day.

What has been the biggest stumbling block in your writing? Can you share some tips to help others get past similar problems?
My biggest problem was a catastrophic loss of confidence after attending a writing workshop. For the best of intentions the pro there demolished me, and I realized that I had nothing to say – and believed that for over twenty years. But everyone has a voice – they just have to find it.

What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?
I found at age nine that I could write stories. For a kid who wasn’t sporty, and wasn’t musical, and had serious confidence issues, it was like finding a vocation. I’ve never wanted to do anything else, even during my two-decade block – that was what made it so painful.

Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?
I’ve dispensed soup to promote my cookbook, and stood on a chair at a convention huckstering a book, but I think I’ve been fortunate – I haven’t had to do too many odd things.

FICTION - If there is a setting, tell us how you decided on that setting and what you did to create a complete and vivid setting for your readers?
I’ve written about this elsewhere, but I wanted a completely different world so that anything went. I mapped out the landscape and climatology and all kinds of stuff on the back of envelopes.

FICTION - What inspires you about the hero or heroine in your book? What makes them memorable for the reader? What motivates the hero and/or heroine? You can include information about both if you want.
Well, to really raise the bar, I not only decided to write a heroine (rather than a hero), but had her unexpectedly fall in love with another woman. But that love is central to the plot; together with her fear of heights, it’s what stops the heroine fleeing.
I wanted to avoid a lot of the fantasy conventions, so she relies on brains. She’s not easy to be around, she’s awkward, socially naïve, but in some ways that’s quite inspiring. I find flawed heroes / heroines far more interesting than unalloyed good / bad people.

FICTION - Is there a villain or something that causes friction in your story? Tell us about what or who it is and how that contributes to the story. Any details about conflict and friction is good information to know.
I have so much conflict its unreal! The prince lusts after the heroine, so his fiancée, one of the three princesses hates the heroine, but the heroine is there at the King’s request, so the princess has to lump it; a second princess believes the heroine guilty of blasphemy; there are plotters planning, two empires massing their ranks on the borders, and a killer wandering around bumping people off!

Thank you for visiting with me and in closing, give us your website address and a link to order your book.
It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you.
Novels from Swimming Kangaroo Books:
Lightning Days -- SF, Finalist for the USA Book News Awards
The Silk Palace -- "compelling" Library Journal
"Intrigues, betrayals, murders, love affairs, transformations, and
revelations," Bruce Boston, author of The Guardener's Tale

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Blog Tours - What Would You Like to Know

I'm doing a tele-seminar next week about blog tours and I would love input from you all.

There are many things to discuss about blog tours and I worked out some initial questions to get people thinking - they are:

Discover Ways to Promote Your Book on a Virtual Blog Tour to Gain Greater Visibility and Sales

  • What are the benefits of doing a blog tour?
  • Should you promote your book in a blog tour?
  • Should fiction and non fiction books be promoted differently in a blog tour?
  • Should you organize your own blog tour?
  • Why hire a publicist to organize your tour?
  • If you hire a publicist, will you still need to work on the tour?
  • Can you use a blog tour to promote anything besides books?
  • Is there a new option in book blog tours?

But, now I need to create a couple of handouts and I'd love your input. Is there any specific info about blog tours that any of you think would be most helpful? Some folks here have done tours, some have hosted touring authors and I bet some of you have thought about doing a tour. So, since many of the people here are authors, I figured it would be a great place to pose the question. What information would you suggest I offer in handouts? Thank you all for your thoughts. There will be plenty of blog tour info coming very soon .

Nikki Leigh

PS - The answer to the last question is - most definitely. Stay tuned for much more information about that option - SOON. Or, contact me to be added to the mailing list - nikki_leigh22939@yahoo.com with Mailing List in the subject line.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Is by Scott Langston


Tell us the book title and your author name.

My name is Scott Langston and the title of the book is "is". Originally, I had intended to book to be called 'The Domino Effect' - one of the themes in the novel is how the actions of one character can have unforeseen impact on another character - like falling dominoes. I even commissioned a Magritte-style cover page with this image. However, the novel became something a little different as it went through several edits, and 'is' summed up better the overall message of the novel.

What inspired the book?

I started writing this book when I was twenty years old. Many of the themes were beyond my grasp, and it wasn't until I 'refound' the novel fifteen years after starting it that I had something approaching the maturity to do the book justice. If I had to pin it down to a precise moment, the novel was born after watching the film 'Four weddings and a funeral', specifically the funeral scene. I found it very moving, and imagined having to write such a eulogy myself.

What makes this book special to you?

It has certainly been a labour of love! As I said, I have physically lost the book on two occasions - the first time requiring a re-write almost entirely from pencil notes in an old scrap book. From first putting pen to paper to finally seeing the book in print took twenty years. That's a long time. The book has been a part of my life, and my continual tinkering with it represented my desire to be a writer.

What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?

I think the book has a lot to say about the fundamentals of how life is. It's spiritual, without being overtly religious. It raises many questions and, I hope, answers a few too. It's about perspective - another way of looking at life and death and God. If these questions do not interest you, then you probably shouldn't bother reading the book!

What people NEED to read this book and WHY?

Nobody needs to read this book. Nobody needs to do anything. That's one of the ventral messages of the book. There is no requirement - life just 'is'.

What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?

Writing is a muscle like ay other. It needs exercising and flexing, otherwise it wastes away. I keep a blog, as well as trying to have more than one project ongoing at a time. When one dries up, I can try my hand at something completely different. That's how 'Benny and Binny' was born - a children's story I wrote with an illustrator friend. You can find it, along with ordering details, on my website - www.scottlangston.org. Right now, I'm working on a novel set between Vietnam and France, dealing with roots and belonging. It's the biggest project I've tackled so far. I'm also tinkering with a novel for teenagers about philosophy, tentatively called, 'Henry Porter and the Stone Philosopher'.

What has been the biggest stumbling block in your writing? Can you share some tips to help others get past similar problems?

I took a year off work to write full time at the same time as we had our baby daughter. I was under the impression that I could care for her and write at the same time. IN short, children have been the biggest stumbling block for my writing. I need time and space to write, and kids don't allow for much of either. That said, my life is considerably richer for having become a dad, and that can only come out in my writing eventually!

I guess another hurdle has been the management of distractions. When I turn on the computer, it's all too easy to spend hours fiddling with stuff I've already written, updating my website, or simply surfing, rather than actually writing. I now have a dedicated laptop for writing which doesn't have internet access.

What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?

I believe|I write because I have to. If you simply want to write, then my advice would be: don't bother. Find something else to do and save yourself a whole lot of trouble. Writing is a lonely and often demoralising business - except when the connection comes through and then it's without equal. So, it wasn't really a choice - I have to write.

Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?

Book promotion is my weakness. I have done the rounds of local bookshops where 'Is' was set, and a few copies have been sold that way. I've run book signings. I haven't really done anything inspiring in the field of self-promotion. I know I ought to.

FICTION - If there is a setting, tell us how you decided on that setting and what you did to create a complete and vivid setting for your readers?

I grew up in Cornwall. It never crossed my mind to set my first novel anywhere else. It's a truly magical and inspiring locale - even now as I write this |I can smell the sea air and hear the seagulls - though I'm 3000 miles away.

FICTION - What inspires you about the hero or heroine in your book? What makes them memorable for the reader? What motivates the hero and/or heroine? You can include information about both if you want.

I'm not sure Martin inspires me. He's a protagonist, rather than a hero in the true sense of the word. Insomuch as everyone's first novel is biographical, I guess Martin is in some respects me. His getting to grips with life and his enlightenment are ideals I would reach for.

FICTION - Is there a villain or something that causes friction in your story? Tell us about what or who it is and how that contributes to the story. Any details about conflict and friction is good information to know.

The conflict rests between expectations and risks, between safety and leaps of faith, between believing and knowing. Martin takes risks, when society would have him do otherwise. He trusts to himself, when society would have him do otherwise. He is prepared to love, not just another, but himself. This is perhaps one of the most difficult yet rewarding things we can achieve in life.

Website: www.scottlangston.org

Order from the author: http://www.scottlangston.org/is.html

Order Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Scott-Langston/dp/1897312202/