DLC: DIY Interview – Thomas Smith and James Darrell Williams

Name: Thomas Smith

Email Address: truthtopaper@gmail.com

What is your blog URL?
www.facebook.com/WhichOneAmI

What is your website URL?
www.WhichOneAmI.net

What is the contact information you are willing to share?

Where and/or when were you born?  Corcoran, CA on March 23, 1957

What schools did you attend?  What was your course of study?
I graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Magazine Journalism. Later, I was invited back as a lecturer in the Journalism Department.

When and how did you discover you wanted to be a writer/author?
I never wanted to be an author, but I know when to follow my muse. I wanted to be a songwriter but I decided to be a recording artist instead. My then-manager asked me to write a guest column for a magazine. The editors liked it and invited me to write more, which led to 20 years of rock ‘n’ roll reviews and interviews.  “Which One Am I?” is the culmination of those experiences

Are you a published author?  Yes

Thomas Smith & James Darrell Williams

Please list your published material, with dates?
“Which One Am I?” CreateSpace, Sept. 11, 2012

Are your books available, and from where?
“Which One Am I?” is available from CreateSpace, and from Amazon: print and e-book.

Please tell about your first publication – what was it, when, how you felt when it happened, problems you had, etc.
Music Connection liked my work, which shocked me since I was writing off the top of my head. There was editing, of course, but for space. Still, editing was new to me.

Please tell about the most memorable moment(s) in your career.
The most memorable moment was when “Which One Am I?” was released. It came as a bit of a shock when many of our friends said they didn’t think we’d complete and publish a work.

Another memorable moment was my interview with Paula Abdul.
But, that’s another story!

What problems have you encountered?  How did you deal with them?
The magazine world has changed a great deal. Feature stories used to pay well now pay nothing. I like helping young artists, but sometimes you have to eat.

Eating was part of the impetus behind writing “Which One Am I?” When no one will hire you – at least not for money – you have to look inside yourself, determine what you’re good at, and how those strengths can best be put to use. With my husband Darrell’s help, that’s exactly what I did.

What genre do you most often write?  Non-fiction. Fiction doesn’t interest me.

Who are the authors who most influenced your writing career?
I decided to give “Which One Am I?” my best shot. Looking around for models, I thought of Mark Twain. I liked how he’s in his own stories without being a character. There are also elements of Joan Didion, though I doubt I could ever be so neurotic.

I’m proud to say the author I’m most compared is Truman Capote for making a true story read like literature.

Who are the authors your read most often?  Joan Didion. I have all her books.

Have you mentored an aspiring writer?  Would you mentor?
I haven’t mentored, but would, with pleasure.

What advice would you give to all up-and-coming writers?
Don’t be afraid to just do it!

What would you tell an aspiring writer who asks you for assistance?
Aspiring writers should be ready for rejection.
Don’t be afraid to share early versions of their works. People are so afraid of their work being stolen – which is rare FYI – it never gets to the right people. It’s a real shame.

Please tell about your other community activities.
Like most writers, I am a singular creature. Darrell and I have many acquaintances but few friends. We hold close those friends we do have.

Do you teach any writing courses at any level?
I teach college-level adult education – courses such as ‘Tell Your Life Story,’ ‘Feature Writing,’ ‘Journalism 101,’ ‘Newspaper Writing,’ ‘Creative Writing,’ and whatever else people will pay me to do.

What is the name of your current project?
“Which One Am I?”

What is the expected release date?
Sept 11, 2012

What is the genre?
Memoir

Please provide details of your upcoming blog tour, book tour, and/or book-signing.
We’re currently involved in a blog tour. Soon, we’ll start a radio tour. Then, we’ll be doing book signings in the Long Beach / Los Angeles, CA area.

Is this work a stand-alone or part of a series?  Stand-alone

Do you have any project(s) planned for the future?  Yes

Please provide some details of the project(s).
“Which One Am I?” is about Darrell’s life. Our next project will be about mine. I discovered while there are many books to help parents with their gifted children, there are few works about gifted adults. This next project will follow “Which One Am I?” in tracing the psychology, sociology and history of those who grew up different.

What is the anticipated publication and/or release date?
It’s in progress. Right now we’re concentrating on marketing “Which One Am I?”

Are you involved in publishing in any other capacity?  Reviewer, Publicist

What seminars do you plan to attend in the next 12 months?
We have been invited to attend two seminars, one each in Texas and Florida. However, since neither provides air fare or accommodations we’ve had to decline until we accumulate some travel money.

Please share a little personal history.
After spending more than 20 years as a journalist, publicist and educator, I needed a change. Though I searched for something to keep me busy in my middle years, it seemed like doors in the professional world were closed to me.

In 2008, when I met Darrell in a Long Beach bar, I knew this kind and thoughtful man would effect my personal life. Little did I know he’d change my professional life as well. He wanted someone to tell his life story. Of course, I knew from dating him he had multiple personalities. That didn’t faze me, being used to actors changing personalities on and off stage. As we came to better know each other, I knew what he had experienced growing up with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) was a story for the world.<>

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Thanks to Thomas and Darrell for the interesting interview.

You can do your own interview – go to the DIY Interview entry on the menu above, and click on Submission Form, download the form, fill out only what you want to share, then click on submit.  Send me a quick ‘heads up’ email and I’ll take it from there.

Happy Writing,

Julie/Dayna

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DLC: DIY Interview – Luke Goldstein

Name: Luke Goldstein

Email Address: goldwriting@gmail.com

What is your blog URL?
http://www.what-came-first.com

What is your website URL?
http://www.lukegoldstein.com

What is the contact information you are willing to share?

Where and/or when were you born?
New Bedford, MA, 12/12/75

What schools did you attend?  What was your course of study?
UMass, Amherst (1993-1997), majored in Legal Studies with a double minor in History and Mythology.

When and how did you discover you wanted to be a writer/author?
I’ve been a fan of storytelling all my life. In college I took a Creative Writing course, which cemented my passion for writing. Later, in film school in California, I decided to keep spreading my passion not only in screenplays, but also in novels and other areas (like spoken word and poetry).

Are you a published author? Yes

Please list your published material, with dates?
‘What Came First?’ (10/2012)

Are your books available, and from where?
Amazon (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), iBookstore, Kobo, Goodreads

Please tell about your first publication – what was it, when, how you felt when it happened, problems you may have had, etc.
‘What Came First?’ was published this year. When I received the first paperback proof copy in the mail, my heart stopped. I’ve dreamed about seeing my name on a book for years, but couldn’t believe it would ever happen. I didn’t tell my wife it was coming, so when I dropped the book in her lap, she nearly burst into tears. It was a very moving moment for both of us and I hope it stays that way as I move on in my career.

The biggest problem I’ve had during my writing career is finding the time and making myself sit down and do it. Once I’m at my desk, I can get into it, but there are so many things to distract and steal the time away. I continue to work on this in terms of better habits every day.

Please tell about the most memorable moment in your career.
Fresh out of film school in California, I sent a screenplay I’d written to a number of producers. I received a call from one who wanted to meet with me and option the script. It was my first meeting as a writer in my career and I was nervous. The meeting went well and we worked on the script together over the next year. As in many deals in Hollywood, it ended up not working out, but the experience was educational and beneficial.

What problems have you encountered?  How did you deal with them?
Other than finding time to write, my other biggest problem is organizing my projects and not getting overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ideas and stories I want to tell. I’ve since created a project board in my office with post-it notes for each project and the steps that need to be taken. It’s helped keep me sane.

Did an established writer mentor you? 
I didn’t have an ‘in person’ mentor, but I’ve read about writing from authors like Stephen King, Ray Bradbury and others.

What genre do you most often write?  What other genres have you written?
Contemporary Fiction / Horror (upcoming novel)

Who are the authors who most influenced your career?
The first author to influence my career was Stephen King. While many people might think of his writing as mass-market, I’ve always loved his simplicity of emotional reactions, the utter reality of people in unreal situations. I’ve always felt he creates characters we not only recognize as themes, but as people we know in our daily lives.

Who are the authors your read most often?
I’ve found an increasing number of writers I follow for their voice and their ability to enrapture me in their books, like Mark Danielewski, Chuck Palahniuk, Mary Doria Russell, Hunter S. Thompson, Henry Rollins, Michael Gruber,  Michael Chabon and Dave Eggers (to name a few).

Have you mentored an aspiring writer?  Would you mentor?
I have not mentored, but would be happy to do so.

What advice would you give to all up-and-coming writers?
Besides writing every day, I would remind them to read as well. If you find yourself disconnecting from other writers, and other forms of storytelling in order to stay in your own world, you’ll lose out on the unlimited amount of creative influences from those sources.  You need to read to keep your creative well from drying up.

What would you tell an aspiring writer who asks you for assistance?
First rule is, write. Always write. Don’t beat yourself up by thinking about it too much before putting something down to paper because you’ll find a reason to not write anything at all. Go back later and make it better, but to do that, you need to first sit in the chair and write.

Please tell about your other community activities.
I’m a founding member of the Mutineer Theatre Company in Los Angeles, CA. A non-profit company, we’re putting on a full-stage production in Pasadena called “CONK AND BONE.” Check us out at .

What is the name of your current project?
‘What Came First?’

What is the expected release date?
October, 2012

What is the genre?
Contemporary Fiction

Please provide details of your upcoming blog tour, book tour, and/or book-signing.
My blog tour and digital release week is 10/21 – 10/27, ending with a book release party at a restaurant in Los Angeles. I’m still building the list of blogs and sites I’ll be appearing on, so watch for the mysterious egg to appear.

Is this work a stand-alone or part of a series?
Stand-alone

Please provide some details of your future project(s).
My next project deals is a young man, struggling with anger issues, who finds out he’s adopted and has inherited a large house. The house holds family possessions, but also a history he might not want to uncover.

What is the anticipated release date?
Late 2013

Are you involved in publishing in any other capacity?
Reviewer

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My thanks to Luke for his great interview.

Happy Writing,

Julie/Dayna

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Encore: Passive Voice – Show, Don’t Tell

This is an encore presentation of one of the most popular posts from
‘A Place for Writers’ originally published in November of 2011.

Okay, I admit it.  English Grammar is not my strong point. For me, seventh grade – ‘The Grammar Year’ – was over fifty years ago! 

Grammar is why modern word processors are great.  You see all your mistakes – in real-time.  I don’t know about other word processors, but Microsoft Word™ seems to have a ‘Passive Voice’ fetish.

If I had to rate the grammatical errors in my writing, ‘Passive Voice’ would be at or close to the top of the list. When I’m typing, I see the offending words appear on the screen, with a ‘green underline’ (Word’s way of telling you that you’ve made a mistake).

Oh boy!  What did I do wrong this time? 

So, I right-click on the underlined words, and there it is … again!

“Passive Voice (consider revising)”

For the next few moments, I experiment with different options until the ‘green underline’ goes away, but sometimes, I WANT the ‘Passive Voice,’ … or at least I think I do.  The paragraph works better with the passive sentence structure … but Word says it’s wrong.  Okay, I’m confused … and frustrated.

So, I decided that since I have this ongoing difficulty with ‘Passive Voice,’ maybe now is the time to research it.  Perhaps, with a little education, I can teach myself to not do it any more (and save myself revision time).

Active

Passive

Tense

Reporters write news reports. News reports are written by reporters.

Present Tense

Mike is baking a cake. A cake is being baked by Mike.

Present Continuous

Jean Rhys wrote “Wide Saragasso Sea.” “Wide Saragasso Sea” was written by Jean Rhys.

Past Simple

They were decorating the hall when I arrived. The hall was being decorated when I arrived.

Past Continuous

Lisa has recorded a song. A song has been recorded by Lisa.

Present Perfect

They are going to knock down the old library. The old library is going to be knocked down.

Future – Going to

I will make it tomorrow. It will be made tomorrow.

Future – Will

wakachewbacca.blogspot.com

For authors, the ‘Active Voice’ sentences often do a better job of ‘show, don’t tell,’ but not always. This chart illustrates the problem.  The same words, written in different ways, can have entirely different meanings.

Wikipedia describes Passive Voice as “… a grammatical construction (a “voice”) in which the subject of a sentence or clause denotes the recipient of the action rather than the performer (the agent). The English passive voice is formed with an auxiliary verb (usually, but not always: be, was, get, are, or has, among others) plus a participle (usually the past participle) of a transitive verb.”

Hey, that’s fine if you have a degree in English and you remember what ‘auxiliary verbs,’ ‘participles,’ ‘past participles,’and ‘transitive verbs’ are!

Let’s try this another way, with examples.

From the chart above: “The cake is being baked by Mike” is in the Passive Voice sentence. The subject is the CAKE and it’s affected by the ‘being baked’ action of the verb.  The Active Voice sentence is: “Mike is baking a cake” in which the subject signifies the agent, or doer, Mike.  So passive = the cake, and active = Mike.

Another way of saying this is that Passive Voice is used when the focus is on the action. Who or what is performing the action isn’t important, or even known.  Example: “My house was painted last week.”  The Active Voice indicates, in this case, who or what did the painting.  “John painted my house last week.”  “ABC Contracting painted my house last week.”  Here, it’s passive = painted, and active = John or ABC Contracting.

Other examples:

  • Active: “I fixed the leaky faucet on the sink.”  (To say what the subject [I] did)
  • Passive: “The leaky faucet is being fixed.”  (To say what happens to things [the faucet] or people, or, to say what is done to them)
  • Passive: “The faucet was fixed by XYZ Plumbing yesterday.”  (The action [the faucet being fixed] is more important than who did it)
  • Passive: “The faucets were made in Texas.”  (When we don’t know who [made the faucets] did the action)

English, with its multilingual components, is a difficult language, even for native speakers/writers!  However, the bottom line is that passive sentences are not necessarily WRONG, but a sentence analysis is needed.  What was your intent for the sentence? What did you want to say? Was it about the action, or the person/thing? Word the sentence according to your intent, and don’t let the ‘green underline’ mess with your head!  (Whew! What a relief!)

There are many more rules about Active and Passive Voices that apply to more complex sentence structures.

  • Would you like to know more about the Active and Passive Voices?

If you liked this post, please do me a quick favor and pop over to Facebook and ‘LIKE’ my page – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDaynaLeighCheser  It only takes a second …  Thanks so much!!

Happy Writing,

Julie/Dayna

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DLC: DIY Interview – Kathy Petrakis

Name: Kathy Petrakis

Email Address:
kathy.petrakis@gmail.com

What is your blog URL?
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6539861.Kathy_Petrakis/blog

What is your website URL?  http://www.kathypetrakis.com

What is your contact information?

Where were you born?
Sydney Australia

When and how did you discover you wanted to be a writer/author?
I think I always knew but didn’t do something about it until October last year. Then, by luck, I had some extra time when I lost my job and just went for it! Now I feel I’ve unlocked a Pandora’s box and keep getting these ideas.

Are you a published author? Yes

Please list your published material, with dates.
Self-published through Antartis Publishers, my new publishing company.
‘Passion and Pain (Dancers and Divas)’ – 17 September 2012 on Kindle.
Paperback due on 6 November 2012.

If these materials are books, are they still available, and from where?
‘Passion and Pain (Dancers and Divas)’ is available on Amazon

Please tell about your first publication – what was it, when, how you felt when it happened, problems you may have had, etc.
This book is my first publication and it was the first half of a two-book idea that came to me last year. It has been a learning curve from beginning to the end, which has not been reached yet. I had to learn had to improve my writing, improve my structure, edit, re-edit,take negative feedback and work with editors.

There have been times I wanted to just toss it out the window and never look at it again and times where I could hug my book for all that it represented.

Please tell about the most memorable moment(s) in your writing career.
It would have to be seeing my book on Amazon for the first time.

Have you been on a ‘best seller’ list?  Which one(s) and when?
The e-book of ‘Passion and Pain’ has reached #1 in the UK and US in the category Fiction/Children’s Fiction /Arts & Music on 23 September 2012.

What problems have you encountered in your career and how did you deal with them?
My writing career has just begun and it’s been a roller-coaster the whole way. I have had to learn to write and learn to promote my book. I have been thrown into a new world of blogs and Twitter that I was not part of before. Most importantly, by writing a book from the heart, I have put myself out there for people to judge and like or hate – I find that the most exposing part of all. When something personal is on the line, it changes the way you approach everything.

What genre do you most often write?
Young adult

Who are the authors who most influenced your writing and your career?
To be honest, I can’t say any one author has impacted me – I always read a variety of books and try to get something out of everything I read. I think J.K. Rowling and her success with Harry Potter was pretty inspirational though.

Who are the authors your read most often?
I don’t have any favorites – I like to discover new books all the time. I will occasionally reach for a Jeffrey Archer, James Grisham, Karen Ross or Josephine Cox book but love the variety.

What advice would you give to all up-and-coming writers?
It’s all part of a journey and not to give up. Be open to new ideas and approaches. As frustrating as it can get especially when you find yourself doing everything but writing, it’s all important and part of getting your message out there.

Please tell about your other community activities.
I love to dance – contemporary, salsa, hip hop, I do acting classes, and I sing in gospel choir. I love going to the theatre and to watch musicals and dance performances. I also do reviews for fringe theatre.

Apart from the performing arts, I also like to do Yoga, and to learn about history and politics from around the world.

What is the name of your current project?
‘Passion and Pain (Dancers and Divas)’

What is the project about and what inspired the idea?
I like to describe my book as FAME meets GOSSIP GIRL. Set in a performing arts school in New York, it follows the challenges of street dancer Elena Martinez and her cheeky best friend Sebastien as they face their own insecurities and fears. Add in the sexy, talented, singing diva Letitia. who is set on destroying everything valuable to Elena – her friendships, romances, dreams and integrity, and they have a real battle on their hands!

This novel inspired by three things:   a) my love for the performing arts, b) experiences I had as a teenager, and c) my love for shows like SYTYCD, Glee and FAME.

What is the expected release date?
‘Passion and Pain (Dancers and Divas)’ is available now on Kindle.
The paperback will be available on 6 Nov ember 2012

What is the genre?
Young adult – romance and arts/music

Please provide details of your upcoming blog tour, book tour, and/or book-signing.
As November 6th approaches, watch out for giveaways and interviews on blogs. Details are still in progress. A book signing and launch party is scheduled in London in mid to late November. Check back at https://www.facebook.com/DancersandDivas?fref=ts for more details.

Is this work a stand-alone or part of a series? Series

Do you have any project(s) planned for the future? Yes

Please provide some details of the project(s).
The sequel to Passion and Pain, Bittersweet has already had its first draft written.
I also have ideas for many more novels.

What is the anticipated release date?
March 2013

Are you involved in publishing in any other capacity?
Reviewer

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Happy Writing,

Julie/Dayna

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DLC: DIY Interview – Nick Orsini

Name: Nick Orsini

Email Address:
louise@apostrophebooks.com

What is your website URL?
http://apostrophebooks.com/fingerlessgloves

What is the contact information you are willing to share?
• On Apostrophe Books: http://apostrophebooks.com/fingerlessgloves 
• On Apostrophe Books: http://apostrophebooks.com/writers/nick-orsini/ 
• On Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16064385-fingerless-gloves 
• On Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/FingerlessGlovesByNickOrsini 
• On Pinterest:
http://pinterest.com/apostrophebooks/fingerless-gloves-by-nick-orsini

When and where were you born?
New Jersey in 1986.

When and how did you discover you wanted to be a writer/author?
As a film student, I spent time analyzing other people’s stories. My thesis paper was a deconstruction of ‘Blade Runner.’ After college, I knew how to organize my writing, but just needed my own story to tell. I began writing poetry about comic books, young love, and the post-college world. The poems found an audience. I took those same ideas and applied them to a more traditional story. I wanted to try to write about love and loss and the things we do as young people in order to never feel like we’re getting older. My books are about pushing back on the world when you feel pressured to move in a certain direction.

Are you a published author? Yes

Please list your published material, with dates?
My first novel, ‘Two Wrongs Make a Vice’ was self-published (August 2009).

My second novel, ‘Fingerless Gloves’ has just been picked up for publication by Apostrophe Books (1 October 2012).

If these materials are books, are they still available, and from where?
‘Two Wrongs Make a Vice’ is available in hard copy from my website.

‘Fingerless Gloves’ is now available in all major e-book stores.

Please tell about your first publication – what was it, when, how you felt when it happened, problems you may have had, etc.
I’ve had two distinct publishing experiences.

The first was self-publishing ‘Two Wrongs Make a Vice.’ I had sunk all/most of my savings into writing, editing and producing that book – along with launching all the websites and ancillary merchandise. It was a challenge in that I had to do everything myself. I was 23 years old and trying to break into an industry I knew little about.

The second experience, with ‘Fingerless Gloves’ getting picked up by Apostrophe Books was absolutely different. I was so excited to find a publisher who agreed with my approach to writing and books.

In the last few years, I’ve met so many talented people and done so many things. It’s an absolute blessing.

Please tell about the most memorable moment in your writing career.
The best experience in my writing career thus far was a small tour I put together with my two best friends to back ‘Two Wrongs Make a Vice.’ We were the third night on the road, at a festival. I just remember us all dancing and laughing together … it was exactly what I wanted to do when I started writing. Words on pages are beautiful, but you don’t get to see the impact they have until those same words bring so many friends, old and new, together. It was this epic night where everything fell into place perfectly. We sold books, talked to people, and at the end, sort of cut loose. We called it the “Read or Die” Tour.

Have you won any awards? If yes, which award and when?
I won Apostrophe Book’s ongoing competition, Fiction Fast-Track.

Did an established writer mentor you in your early days? If yes, how did the mentor help you?
My mentor is Peter J. Butler, a teacher and writer from Montclair, NJ. He was my creative writing teacher in high school. He taught me that writing is never easy, and sometimes things don’t work out the way you’d like, but if you keep at it … and tell a good story, you’ll find it’s the most fulfilling thing you can do.

A close friend interviewed me after I’d published ‘Two Wrongs Make a Vice.’ He’s the most creative person I know, and his interview gave me the confidence to keep going with marketing the book.

Mentors can be anyone at any time, you just have to stop and listen to people.

What genre do you most often write?
Young Adult Fiction, Coming-of-age. I write in a genre I call “Cinema-Fiction” … I construct books like the imagery in a movie – taking my time with each moment and scene. ‘Fingerless Gloves’ is cinematic and atmospheric, like a Richard Linklater film.

Who are the authors who most influenced your writing and your career?
Hunter S. Thompson, John Green, Nick Hornby and Chuck Klosterman.

Who are the authors your read most often?
Chuck Klosterman and Chuck Palahniuk.

Have you mentored an aspiring writer? Would you mentor, if the opportunity arose?
I have mentored, I would gladly mentor

What would you tell an aspiring writer who asks you for assistance?
I would tell them to go to a public place, and, observing the people, write down defining features, imagined back stories, purposed situations for as many people as possible. What do you think their day is like? Who are they? What do they do? Are they in love? Hurting? Alone? With someone? Before a writer is a writer, he or she is an observer … and it’s what young writers need to learn – how to observe and report.

What is the name of your current project?
My current project is a small and intimate affair called ‘Fingerless Gloves.’

What is the expected release date?
Published on 1 October 2012

What is the genre?
Young Adult Fiction

Is this work a stand-alone or part of a series?
Stand-alone.

Please provide some details of the project(s).
Yes! I’m in the very early stages of writing a superhero story called ‘The Mega.’ It’s for fans of ‘Kick-Ass’ and anyone else who enjoys comic books. It’s based on my short story about a seventeen year old who decides to become a makeshift superhero … with disastrous and scary results.

What is the anticipated release date?
First draft will be done by mid-2013.

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