Monday, October 31, 2011

Saltwater Taffy by Eric DelaBarre

Check out the videos from the road with Saltwater Taffy by Eric DelaBarre


Monday, October 24, 2011

Interview with Author Jaclyn Hawkes

Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Jaclyn: Only three years ago. I think I'm a fluke that way. Then I wrote 9 books the first year. At the time it didn't seem strange, but when I tell people that, they kind of freak out. Apparently, one is typical. Now that I realize how long it takes to get through publication, I've slowed way down and am masquerading as a wife and mother again.

Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?

Jaclyn: I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geography and was a cartographer and have a minor in Equine Management. So unless you count A s in English--another fluke. But, I love to read. Way too much! And now, I love to write.

Deirdra: What inspires your writing and stories?

Jaclyn: People and experiences. Sometimes I feel prompted. A good rain storm. Sunsets. Hot chocolate with whipped cream on top. Music. My adorable husband. (Don't tell him I said that.)

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Jaclyn: Once I decided it was something I wanted to do, I checked into how to submit. I submitted the first book and it went all the way through to the final approval comittee. I did a rewrite upon the publisher's request and then ultimately got rejected. Dang it!
But then the second publisher I tried loved it and accepted it and five others for publication. Unfortunately, they published Journey of Honor, (not the first one, by the way), and then went under financially. It wasn't because of my book, I swear it.
I then had another publisher pick up The Outer Edge of Heaven, but they ended up stringing me along until I walked to the fourth publisher. I'm thrilled with Spirit Dance Books and their plans to publish two of my books per year for the next while. Now that I'm settled with a publisher, I'm learning just how much goes into marketing. Frankly, it's not nearly so fun as writing.

Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Jaclyn: Of course! Many times. Honestly, the only reason I didn't quit over and over was because I felt this was what I was supposed to be doing. Plus, I have a funny personality. Sometimes, instead of getting discouraged, I get mad! I get this, "Fine! Watch me succeed in spite of you!" attitude that comes in very handy in life! You don't want to get me ticked off, because I might just decide to buy the company you work for someday! Of course I wouldn't ever fire anyone--like the guy who signed the rejection slip--I'd just secretly enjoy signing his check. It works.

Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?

Jaclyn: I should preface this answer with, "Caution, this is definitely not what the pros say to do." I write when I can fit it in around mothering and wifing and my church callings and business demands. (You'll notice I didn't mention housework. I couldn't keep up with that even before I began to write. When I grow up, I'm going to have a maid.) It's funny, because everyone says, "Be sure and stay current on what's happening in your genre." That's a joke. There's absolutely no way. I have graduated to a full four page, legal size to-do list. Now, I simply do the best I can and don't beat myself up about it anymore. Thank goodness for wonder boy husband and very durable kids.

Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Jaclyn: The ideas come from life, or dreams, or boredom while I'm waiting for the dentist. Or God maybe. Probably. Who knows? I start by simply writing down bits of ideas and if they take on a life of their own and become intriguing enough, I'll do an outline. If I ever have time, I'll write that sucker. I've got several outlines stashed away, just in case life eases. Or in case I get upset enough that I'll start one even when I don't have time. It's amazingly therapeutic.

Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book The Outer Edge of Heaven?

Jaclyn: The Outer Edge of Heaven is a fun, entertaining, easy read! This is definitely not War and Peace. This is the ultimate "Mom needs a time-out" book.
It's about a sweet, happy college coed, Charlie,who has tough, driven, professional parents who expect their baby daughter to become a heavy hitter like their other children. The story centers around how Charlie decides to go to Montana for the summer with her childhood buddy, Fo, instead of home to Connecticut and her all-powerful parents and the future spouse her parents have picked out,--who happens to be a divorce lawyer named Elroy. In Montana, she meets Fo's uncle's nutty family and his strong, silent, hunky cousin.

It's good! it's funny. It's safe from the smut and grit and stuff in most mainstream writing these days, but it's still a great, interesting story with a few twists. I think it's an awesome book! And it's gotten excellent reviews! Try it! I think you'll like it.


Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

Jaclyn: I hope they get a pick-me-up. I hope they're good for another ten thousand miles of reality, with a breath of enthusiasm thrown in. I hope they close the book with a sigh and have a greater desire to do something good with their lives. But I also hope they don't realize that they've been pulled upward. I hope that updraft is basically subconcious and that they simply enjoyed the book.


Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

Jaclyn: Uhhh, talents . . . I have marvelous children, but I fear it's in spite of their mothering. I train horses, although I don't have any right now. I'm a fine wife, if you don't count a margin of lunacy in our home. I do lots of things reasonably well and nothing perfectly. When my children are raised, I'll work on the talent thing. Until then, I'm perfectly content to excel at dinner and laundry and a safe, secure landing pad where you can always take your armor off. How's that? Oh, and I am an excellent writer!

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

Jaclyn: Don't give up! If it truly matters to you, don't ever give up. Ever. There's always room for greatness. Just make sure that your stuff is great before you submit it.

Deirdra: What are you working on now?

Jaclyn: A sweeeeet medieval story of knights and princesses and intrepid heroines with incredibly strong and romantic heros. It's going to be great!

Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Jaclyn: jaclynmhawkes.com, spiritdancebooks.com and all manner of bookstores from Amazon to the locals, but, if they buy directly from my site, I'll make more money, so go there!

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Jaclyn: Be happy and enthusiastic. Or at least peaceful. Dance even if it rains. Smell the flowers. Smell the cows. Watch your children dance. Hug each other when you cry. Ski if it snows. If you don't, life gets tedious.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Interview with Author Mandi Tucker Slack




Mandi Tucker Slack was born in Price, Utah, and grew up in Orangeville, Utah, where she developed a great love of the outdoors. She enjoyed adventure novels as a child and has always been fascinated by books and writing. Mandi attended Utah State University, where she completed a four-year degree in special education. She currently resides in Santaquin, Utah, with her husband and family. In her free time, she enjoys camping, hiking, and rockhounding with her children.



Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Mandi: The interest to become a writer started when I was 12. I wrote my first full-length novel that year. It’s terrible, but I’ve held onto it through the years because, really, I am very proud of that tattered manuscript. Writing my very own adventure story was such a thrill, and since that time, I’ve always aspired to become a published author.




Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book Alias?

Mandi: Jacey Grayson is a recently divorced mother, who learns some frightening news about her ex-husband, John. Frightened, she and her son Blaze flee to Utah to hide among rural Mormons. The main theme in The Alias is Jacey’s attempt to overcome years of abuse and develop a sense of who she really is. As the story progresses we see her desire to change and grow. She struggles with feelings of guilt and remorse for staying with her ex-husband so long and exposing her son to abuse, but as the story progresses we also see how she uses the lessons from her past to move forward into a more promising future.

Deirdra: How many beta readers review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?

Mandi: To be quite honest, I’m a very private person. I always have been. I didn’t let anyone read The Alias before I sent it to the publisher. I wish now that I had and since I’ve been published, I’ve really opened up and grown confident in my abilities as a writer. I feel more confident in letting other people read my material now and I can handle constructive criticism with a lot more grace.

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

Mandi: My first purpose in writing is to entertain and inspire. I have always loved books that touch me in a personal way. I like to read about characters that stay with me long after the story is finished. I hope my readers feel this. I hope that my characters and my stories will inspire and entertain.

Deirdra: 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?
Mandi: I outline, absolutely. I’m a little jealous of those writers who can sit down and see what happens next, but unfortunately, my mind gets muddled easily and without an outline, my manuscript turns into a jumbled mess. I mix up dates and ages, and I’ve even been known to mix up names. Just last week I sat down to write and I felt too lazy to sort through my outline. I started writing and when I’d finished for the day, I realized that one of my characters, who started out as Gary, soon became Gregg and by the end of the last chapter, I’d named him Glen. When I don’t sit down and write out a very detailed outline, I’m a mess.

Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Mandi: Yes, all the time! Each book I write has a certain mood. Right in the beginning, I always create a playlist. I pick songs and scores that match the mood of the plot. Then, whenever I get stuck, I jump in the car, crank the music and I drive. I never have a destination in mind. I just drive wherever I feel like and I let the music and the views re-inspire me. Usually this works. If that doesn’t work, then I simply walk away until a moment of inspiration hits, because I know eventually it will.

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Mandi: Most of the time, yes. When my kids get too loud, sometimes I’ll use headphones and listen to my playlist while I write, but not very often.

Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Mandi: Again, mostly music, but there are so many things that inspire my creativity when trying to brainstorm new ideas for stories.
My story ideas usually come from a conglomeration of different events that touch my life.

Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Mandi: My mother. My mom encouraged me every step of the way. When I was a child, she loved to read my stories and she always encouraged me to follow my dreams. When she learned I was going to have a book published, she was so proud. My book was released in May, but my mom passed away in April. A month before my book came out. I wish she’d lived to see it, because she was my biggest fan.

Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the characters in your books come to life?

Mandi: Once I find the story's personality, the characters just sort of take shape and as the story evolves so do the characters. If I change a scene, my character’s reaction changes as well and little-by-little their individuality develops.

Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?
Mandi: Dorothy Keddington is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her books are just fun. Her descriptions are so vivid and appealing and her characters are easy to relate to. Also, Jennie Hansen is another favorite, along with Kerry Blair. Blair’s books just make me giggle. I love her sense of humor and easy-going characters.

Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Mandi: Muffins. I’m not sure what it is about muffins, but they seem to be my brain food. I also like to munch on popcorn, although that isn’t very healthy for my keyboard.

Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

Mandi: I collect fossils. I’m a rock hound and most weekends, I drag my family across the state in search of new fossil locales. We spend a lot of time in Delta, Utah, and my house is literally decorated with fossils and minerals. It drives my husband crazy.

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

Mandi: Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to try. I was afraid to try for many years. I was afraid of rejection. Don’t be. Not everyone is going to like your book or the way you write, but you can’t live your life afraid of rejection. I wish I had tried sooner. Just keep trying and give it all you’ve got.

Deirdra: What are you working on now?

Mandi: I am currently in the process of editing a crime thriller that takes place in Seattle, Washington. Tarrin Grace has come through a very difficult divorce, and just when things are beginning to look up, her young daughter, Lexie, is witness to a heinous murder. Suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, Lexie is unable to recall details of the crime or the murderer. However, the killer remembers her, and Tarrin must risk all she has to protect her family.

Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Mandi: My book is available on Amazon and right now you can purchase The Alias on Amazon kindle for only $3.99. You can also find my book in Deseret Book Stores or Barnes and Noble.

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?

Mandi: Thank you for taking the time to interview me and giving me the opportunity to share a little bit about who I am. I hope you all enjoy my book, The Alias.

Thank you so much, Mandi. It’s a real honor to get your insights.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Interview with Author Kirk Mustard


I grew up in Kansas. Well, at least I lived there until I was adult, I don't know if I've grown up yet. It was a tiny one horse town minus the horse. It was a great place to cultivate my imagination because the only way to feel like I was living in someplace wonderful was to imagine it. Perhaps that's why I am inclined towards writing a novel that imagines the future. After college, I moved to California to be a actor. But I changed to writing when I realize that actors had to run all over town to get rejections, while writers got their rejections delivered right to the door. I do,however, still post commentary and some skits on the Internet. I can always hope that one of them will go viral. I used to fear things that were viral, now I want to be infectious.

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Kirk:

I found that trying to get a literary agent was more painful than trying to get a date in high school. In fact, the process has inspired a new novel. It will be up about a writer who is so frustrated with the process that he becomes a serial killer. On each new body he leaves his next chapter. The public worries who will be the next victim, but they also look forward to the next installment. It's called Killer Novel.

Anyway, I finally stuck my novel on Kindle and the next thing I knew I was selling copies, getting some very good reviews and one thing led to another.

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

Yes, very dicouraged. One way that I dealt with it was too send letters back rejecting my rejection slips. I would write, "I'm sorry, but your rejection does not suit my needs at this time. Of course, other writers might find your rejection just their cup of tea. Good luck."

Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book The Future Perfect.

It's a satirical dystopian story about where I think man is probably headed. An effervescent oblivion. It seems to work not only as sci-fi, but many people who normally don't like sci-fi, also like it. The basic theme is computer technology greatly blurring the distinction between fiction and reality in people's lives. For example, when a person dies a computer generated image of them takes over and can be called on the video phone. Introduced to ease one's sense of loss, people soon find that they enjoy the computer generated replacements as much as more than they did the real person. Subsequently, the fear of death and the concept of death is basically eradicated. The plot involves the creation of a new animal called the Smelix. While still only theoretical, this creature ignites a battle over whether to replenish the decimated earth with a completely man-made ecosystem.

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

Kirk: I want them to laugh and smile a lot, be fascinated by the concepts and the story, and to think about the mystery and magic of human existence. And I want some of them to date me.


Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Kirk:

Simply looking around at society is all the inspiration I need. Within seconds of leaving my apartment, or looking at a newspaper, I become enraged over some crazy thing that people are caught up in. I want to slap somebody silly. But since I have a fear of going to jail, I instead turn my anger into new ideas for my novel. It's a literary version of anger management.

Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Kirk:

I don't allow myself to snack while writing because I would never get anything written. I tend to approach food with an all-you-can-eat buffet concept. However, before I write, I drink coffee. It's my believe that all the novels ever written or that ever could be written are already contained inside of coffee beans. It's just a matter of getting the words out of the coffee and into your brain and then down onto the paper.

Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

Kirk:

I like to doodle with pen and ink. They are completely spontaneous artworks with no plan about how they will look or no concern if anyone will like them. Subsequently they are a lot more fun than writing, which is more of a chore, that is, if you can call digging a ditch from here to Alaska a chore. I also like to walk in nature, and I really love insects. Everyone's always talking about if we'll ever be visited by aliens from another planet. But clearly, that's what insects are. Looking at them is like looking at a collection of military armaments from space. They seem to have come here to try to destroy us and take over the planet. I imagine, however, that they are shocked how big and hard to kill people are.

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

Kirk: My advice is to suppress that desire. It will surely lead to ruin. I would suggest that you replace your desire to be published with a desire to dress up like Pee-wee Herman. Watch his movies and TV shows and then emulate his moves, gestures and sounds. I guarantee this will make you much happier than trying to get published. It will also get you more dates.


Deirdra: What are you working on now

Kirk: I'm working on a shorter futuristic novel called Baxter Lewis and the Alliance of Mad Science. It is geared more towards young adults, though I think adults will like it too. Baxter does for science what Harry Potter did for magic - shows that it is one of the most exciting, wonderful things in the world, as well as the most terrifying.

Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Kirk:

Amazon Kindle or Barnes and Noble. You can also use an amastalatron to download the novel right from my brain into yours. Oh wait, sorry, that technology doesn't actually exist yet, though I imagine Apple is working on it.

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?

Kirk: Yes. Reality is for people with no imagination. Physical reality is merely the canvas on to which our minds paint happiness and misery. If you are miserable, don't look to change your physical reality, change your fiction.