Tag Archives: book giveaways

Welcome Sean Keefer, Author of The Trust

“…I don’t specialize. I don’t work for a huge firm with posh offices, and I don’t turn the television on at night hoping to see my latest commercial. I just practice law….” ~ from The Trust

Often, a Lawyer is the last person you want to call, because it means you’re either in trouble or in for a big bill. But, Noah Parks – an attorney and the main character in Sean Keefer’s debut novel The Trust – is an unassuming lawyer, a gentleman, and not really in it for the money.

He’s the perfect man, then, to handle the probate of Leonardo Xavier Cross’ will. However, a simple probate quickly turns into a case of murder, and Noah Parks finds himself sleeping in the same house as the number one suspect. And, she parades through the house in his boxers and tee shirt.

How’s that for a tease?

In real life, Sean Keefer is a practicing attorney in Charleston, South Carolina where he lives with his wife and two Australian Shepherds. Today, he stops by to talk about The Trust, about marketing and promotion, and to offer his key advice for others working toward publication.

Oh. You wanted more on the boxers and tee shirt character? You’ll have to read the book. Better yet, leave a comment after the interview, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a copy of The Trust. Random.org will choose a winner on Tuesday, August 16th.

CC: Writers often debate the pros and cons of using real versus imaginary cities for settings in a novel. The story in your novel takes place in Charleston, South Carolina, your home town. Were there any challenges (or perhaps big perks) you encountered in rooting THE TRUST in such a familiar place?

SK: It was an interesting thing, setting The Trust in Charleston.  I consider Charleston my “adopted” hometown as I am actually from a ways up the SC coast.  That being said I’ve always loved the city.  I had the opportunity to visit several times during my childhood and, in many ways, I feel I was destined to end up here.

Something about this area just motivates me to write and while I discover new things about the city on a daily basis, it felt only natural to set the book here. The most challenging part of the process was taking the time to describe the area and remembering that not everyone knows the area as I do.  Many times I was tempted to simply jump ahead in the plot, but I found it fit the character of Charleston to blend the setting into the story.

CC: Your novel has received some exciting recognition – Honorable Mention in the 2011 Beach Book Festival Awards and The Bronze Medal in the Mystery-Suspense-Thriller category of the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards – which I imagine helps promote your book. As an indie author, what are some other routes of promotion that have helped spread the word about your debut novel?

SK: A writer friend told me something recently – Anyone can write a book, that’s the easy part, it actually can be harder to read a book. The real challenge comes in marketing what has been written. No one told me, or should I say, made me believe the true challenges of book marketing.  Particularly as an indie author.  While I have perhaps a stronger desire to have my book succeed than any marketing professional may have for any book they are marketing, the professionals typically have large bank rolls behind them.  I just have little ol’e me.

I’ve learned that to successfully market a book you have to do it everyday and you can’t get upset at rejections or failures.  I make daily use of a variety of social media, but my most successful efforts have been when I get out and meet people and talk to them about my book.  People don’t get to meet a lot of writers and I’ve been humbled and flattered by the reception I have received (and continue to receive). The more people you talk to, the more people that will perhaps want to read your book. Of course the awards help too.

CC: I’m a believer that life informs writing (and vice versa). Since you are a lawyer in real life, I’m curious as to how that experience translates into your work as an author?

SK: As an attorney I am amazed by the fact that truth is always stranger than fiction.  I find inspiration on a daily basis from what I see in my work.  Many of my characters are amalgamations of people whom I meet in my work.  The struggle is to make sure that my writing doesn’t imitate my work life.

CC: What are you reading these days?

SK: Recently, I read In Leah’s Wake by Terri Giuliano Long.  I also just finished Iron House by John Hart.  I make sure to read Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole, at least once a year.

CC: Do you have any advice for writers on the rise?

SK: My advice for anyone starting out writing is simply to write.  If you don’t write something, you don’t have anything to read or even edit.  My motto when it comes to writing is “Write, Edit, Repeat.”

~

For more information on Sean Keefer and his novel, THE TRUST, visit his website, like his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter. Also, don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered to win a free copy of his debut novel. Check back on August 16th for the winner.

Do a little dance, and mark your calendars.

There’s been a slight, but critical correction to this post, an update on that Second place win. Read it here.

Sunset Party Dancing Girl Silhouette

The weather is hot (just how I like it), the sun is out full force (yay for freckles!), and yesterday I found out I placed Second in the Pen Parentis 2011 Writing Fellowship for New Parents.

Second!

When you’re fighting self-doubt with both fists lately, second place feels really great. I was alone, in a quiet house, when I read the announcement, but I didn’t stay quiet for long.

And, there’s more good news — for you. In the month of August, I’ll be hosting three authors here: two for interviews and one for a guest post. Plus, all three events include book giveaways.

Sean Keefer will talk to us about his award-winning novel,
The Trust, on August 10th.

The lovely Jenna Blum stops by on August 24th
to discuss her bestselling novel, The Stormchasers.

And, Caitlin Kelly will be guest posting on August 31st and giving away a copy of her memoir, Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail.

Watch for these posts and enter the giveaways. It’ll be easy: all you’ll have to do is leave your name in the comment section. Leave a pseudonym if you want, but don’t miss your chance to enter.

What good news do you have to share? I bet you’ve got something. Big or small, let’s celebrate together.

* photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr

An interview with author, Linda Cassidy Lewis, on her novel, The Brevity of Roses

“It was time to stop looking backward. . . . He opened the new journal and its blankness sent a ripple of fear through him.”
~ from The Brevity of Roses

The middle ground, I’ve been there: hesitant to let go of the past (if I let go, will I forget? And, then what?), unable to embrace the future (so many possibilities…too many possibilities!). It is only when I am completely present in the moment – when I throw caution to  the wind and ignore logic and follow my gut – that I wind up moving in the exact direction meant for me.

Linda Cassidy Lewis spins a tale of redemption from the middle ground for the characters in her debut novel, The Brevity of Roses. Jalal, Meredith, and Renee have little in common, except that each is tethered to the weight of a painful past. Incidental decisions, like a left turn instead of a right, bring the characters together. Unexplained connections urge them forward, to new life and to healing. Linda gives her readers a well-designed book and a story with unforgettable characters.

I’m honored to host Linda here today for an interview, where she talks about turning a short story into a novel and about coincidences in writing and life. At the end of the interview, leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway: a soft-cover copy of The Brevity of Roses. Random.org will choose the winner on Tuesday, July 19th, at noon.

CC: Linda, in your interview with Kasie West, you say that THE BREVITY OF ROSES grew from a short story. As you worked to expand the story into novel length, did the rest of the plot and additional characters unfold with ease?

Linda Cassidy Lewis

LCL: I wrote Brevity in total panster mode. The original short story was a skeletal version of chapters 2-7 in the novel. Before I finished polishing that story, I saw a mental picture of Jalal, despondent and alone in his house. I knew I had to explore that. At the end of writing the second story, I wrote a long letter to Jalal from Kirsten, the younger woman in his story (a character 180 degrees from Renee).

Soon after, I revised that letter into a separate third short-short. At that point, I viewed Brevity as a novella, a trilogy of sequential stories. I set it aside, for later revision, but I couldn’t quit thinking about it. Additional scenes for each story played out in my head. Meredith “told” me I had misunderstood her feelings about her first husband. I “heard” Jalal’s father explain the cause of their conflict. Renee appeared, revealing Kirsten as imposter. I started revisions and ended up with a novel.

CC: In your novel, the story of Jalal and Meredith reflects a philosophy that there are no coincidences in life. Chance encounters are often the catalyst for change, if we, like Jalal and Meredith, embrace those moments. Have you experienced coincidences in your own life that later proved to be much more pivotal in your journey?

LCL: I believe we only see “coincidences” in our lives because, most of the time, we live on an underground level, like ants. If our view were from above it all—the Eye of God view—we would see life from beginning to end and recognize the interweaving, the synchronicity of it all. Since you mentioned Kasie West, I’ll share how my “chance encounter” with her has been pivotal to my writing journey. In 2008, I attended my first critique group. That same night, Kasie also attended for the first time. I don’t remember that we spoke directly for the first couple of meetings, but I loved her critique comments to everyone in the group. Eventually, she became my chief go-to person when I needed another pair of eyes. And she became my lead cheerleader. She never let me give up on Brevity—and I wanted to do that many times. In my acknowledgments, I thank her for the “pushes and pulls that took me to the finish line.”

CC: You published this novel on your own (creating the artwork for the cover as well!). Since publication, what has been the best part, and the most challenging aspect, of being an Indie Author?

LCL: The best part, of course, is when a reader tells me they loved the book. That will never get old. The biggest challenge is finding ways to connect with more of those readers … and developing the patience to wait until that happens. Promotion is not something I have a natural affinity for, so the whole process after publication has been a challenge.

CC: What are you reading these days?

LCL: I’m reading Dancing in the Shadows of Love by Judy Croome, a writer from South Africa. It’s beautifully written, poetic, delicious. Next on my list is David Malasarn’s The Wild Grass And Other Stories. I’ve read a couple of excellent stories from it and can’t wait to read more.

CC: What advice would you offer an emerging writer?

LCL: In the past, I’ve glibly said, “Don’t listen to advice.” I apologize. Certainly, there is good writing advice out there. The trick is not to be a slave to it. If you try something, but it doesn’t work, it’s the wrong advice for you. I suppose my best advice is to write from your heart. If you don’t love what you’ve written, neither will anyone else.

~

Linda Cassidy Lewis was born and raised in Indiana and now lives with her husband in California where she writes versions of the stories she only held in her head during the years their four sons were growing up. At Out of My Mind, she blogs about her writing experience—typos and all. THE BREVITY OF ROSES is her debut novel. You can follow Linda on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

DON’T FORGET: leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of The Brevity of Roses!

Interview with Author, Kaira Rouda, on Her Debut Novel Here, Home, Hope

Yesterday, I posted a review on Kaira Rouda’s debut novel, Here, Home, Hope. Today, I’m honored to host Kaira on my blog, where she talks about writing the novel, balancing life as Mother and Author, and taking note of the most important tip for success.

After the interview, leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway: a free copy of Here, Home, Hope. Random.org will choose the winner on Tuesday, July 5th, at high noon.

CC: While HERE, HOME, HOPE is your first novel, you were already a successful entrepreneur and published author (your nonfiction book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED, received great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads). How was the process of writing and publishing a novel different from your other endeavors?

Kaira Rouda

KR: Writing a novel is completely different than writing anything else. You’re right!  I think I have written in every type of format from radio and television commercials, to product catalogs, to press releases and web copy, newspaper and magazine pieces and a nonfiction book. Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs was to me a celebration and culmination to an amazing career building a company as a woman entrepreneur. I had so many lessons to share, so many women I had learned from that I wanted to profile. In nonfiction, it’s pretty much that: here’s what I know, here’s how I did it, and here’s what I hope will work for you. Straightforward, but I hope, too, inspiring. The response to that book continues to be amazing and I love hearing from women across the country who have taken that book to heart.

And now, I’ve finally donned my fiction writer hat – a hat I’ve dreamed of wearing since 4th grade. After we sold our company and I became a consultant I said to myself, now is the time.  In Real You Incorporated I had helped other women articulate and go for their dream. I knew what mine was. It was time to try, again. You see, I’ve been trying to be a published novelist, off and on, for 15 years – and that’s a lot of rejection slips, as you can imagine. For me, the process of writing is a pure joy. I love it – and writing books has been my escape for years. I decided to give it one more chance and fortunately, this time, the timing was right.  Seeing my novel on the shelf in a bookstore is one of the most thrilling moments of my life. Truly.

CC: I love the book trailer for HERE, HOME, HOPE! The music is a perfect match for a book that’s upbeat and “genuinely hopeful” (as quoted in Jenna Blum’s blurb). I imagine much of this book was a joy to write. Do you have a favorite scene or chapter?

KR: Thank you! I love the book trailer, too! An old friend, Pete Howland, and his firm Edge Creative produced it for me and it was their first book trailer. His wife, Heidi, is the lovely voice in the trailer and I chose the music! It makes me smile that you enjoyed it. Here, Home, Hope was a joy to write. I had a great time creating the characters and they’re all close to my heart.  So, picking a scene is tough, but I’ll tell you one of the hardest  scenes to write was Chapter 16, Bob and Kelly’s encounter in his empty house. I wanted to capture the tension, the threat, the possibility of violence,  without  going over the edge.  Because, as you and the wonderful Jenna Blum noted, the book is “genuinely hopeful”.

CC: I know you are mother to four teenagers (let me just say — wow). I’m raising two young children, and there are days when two feels like four. How do you balance life and writing?

KR: I learned a long time ago that balance is something you swing through on the way to something else. What we all need to remember, especially us moms, is that what our kids really want is a happy mom. If you’re happy, they’re happy, so we need to define lives and careers that work for us as individuals. My “balance” won’t be the same as yours, or anyone else’s, but if it’s right for me, that’s what’s important. And, we need to value and support each other’s choices. Once we begin to do that, genuinely, as women, we’ll be unstoppable. And I have to say, I do have an amazing partner in my husband, Harley, but no – he is not as perfect as Patrick, Kelly’s husband, in Here, Home, Hope.

CC: What are you reading these days?

KR: I am a voracious reader. At any one time, I’ll have two or more books going. I recently finished VIOLETS OF MARCH by Sarah Jio (loved it),  was lucky enough to read the ARC for BEST STAGED PLANS by Claire Cook (loved it), and I’m diving into WATER FOR ELEPHANTS right  now (I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet!). This month another special book is released, Amy Hatvany’s touching novel, BEST KEPT SECRET. I had a chance to read it as an ARC, too, and highly recommend it. Do you want me to keep going?

CC: Do you have any advice for writers on the rise?

KR: Aside from writing, I’d recommend reading. Voraciously. The best writers I know are readers. They love books, their own and others’. They celebrate the written word and they see the publishing industry as a world of new possibilities today. Stick up for other authors, too. Be supportive. That’s your job as a part (or hopeful part) of this industry. One of the most amazing outcomes of publishing my first novel has been to become friends with wonderful authors across the country. Women such as Eleanor Brown, Caroline Leavitt, Sarah Pekkanen, Katrina Kittle, Jenna Blum, Amy Hatvany, Claire Cook, Robyn Harding, Talli Roland and many more. These women embraced me, and my dream, and I hope to return the favor. That’s the power of sticking together.

It’s an exciting time to be in this industry and it has been an amazing journey for me. The most important point: don’t give up.

~

You can find more information about Kaira Rouda, her novel and her nonfiction books, on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter or Like her on Facebook. And, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of HERE, HOME, HOPE!