Monday, October 20, 2014

Matthew Peters, The Brothers' Keepers




AUTHOR: Matthew Peters
BOOK TITLE: THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS
GENRE: Thriller
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing
BUY LINKS: Amazon: http://amzn.to/1rAmd7o 
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1qNxMnO
MuseItUp Publishing: http://bit.ly/1nACJCG

Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Matthew Peters. I live in North Carolina with my girlfriend and two cats. I’m a recovering academic, who writes fiction. 

Please tell us your latest news.

My religious thriller, THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS, was released on October 1 by MuseItUp Publishing.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

Thanks to a loving, understanding girlfriend, I am full-time writer. I organize my writing time by writing/editing/revising in the mornings and researching/marketing/promoting in the afternoons. I try to do it five days a week, but sometimes it spills over into the weekend.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing fiction in 2006. I’ve always loved writing but turned to fiction in 2006 because I wanted to try something different from the academic non-fiction stuff I had been doing.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Reading Dostoevsky’s CRIME AND PUNISHMENT.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

I am always either writing/editing or thinking about it. However, I do enjoy listening to classical music, especially when I’m reading/writing.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

I learned that faith is an internal matter that is not necessarily connected to any outside institution or organization. 

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

Twitter: @MatthewPeters65

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

Here is the back cover for THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS:

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?
Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.
It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.
Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.
How will it end? Read The Brothers’ Keepers … if you dare.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?

I started with a what-if question: What if we found writings by Jesus himself? Then, after I did some research, I asked myself what role Jesus’ siblings might have played in the formation of Christianity, or at least what we know today as Christianity.   

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?

I come up with an overall idea of the plot, and the characters, and then I make a scene card for each chapter.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?

I researched several months before I wrote a single word. Most of the research consisted of reading academic books from a local university. I’m also a big fan of YouTube and Google Earth.

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process?

I try to write the first draft of a book in about a year. Then there is editing and revising, which involves beta readers.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?

Read the classics and as much good literature as you can get your hands on. Read widely, too, from poetry and plays to science and politics. If you don’t read well, you can’t write well.



What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?

In addition to THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS, I have a work of literary fiction called CONVERSATIONS AMONG RUINS.

Here is the back cover:

Conversations Among Ruins is a portrait of a descent into madness, and the potential of finding salvation there.
While in detox, Daniel Stavros, a young, dual diagnosed* professor meets and falls in love with the cryptic Mimi Dexter. But Mimi has secrets and, strangely, a tattoo identical to a pendant Daniel’s mother gave him right before she died.
Drawn together by broken pasts, they pursue a twisted, tempestuous romance. When it ends, a deteriorating Stavros seeks refuge at a mountain cabin where a series of surreal experiences brings him face to face with something he’s avoided all his life: himself.
Though miles away, Mimi’s actions run oddly parallel to Daniel’s. Will either be redeemed, or will both careen toward self-destruction?
*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.

Here are the buy links:

Amazon Paperback: http://amzn.to/1phAi7v
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1oASGcG
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://bit.ly/1t6Q31L
All Things That Matter Press Paperback: http://bit.ly/1rBiB1e

Currently, I’m working on the next book in the Nicholas Branson series.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

I look for clarity in writing, and philosophical/spiritual depth.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?

Cardboard characters bother me, as do clich├ęs.

What books have most influenced your life?

In addition to CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, I’d say THE BROTHERS’ KARAMAZOV, DEMIAN, by Hermann Hesse, and the short stories of John Cheever.




The Brothers’ Keepers

Excerpt:
The man lit another cigar. “As hard as I try not to smoke these things, I just can’t seem to help myself. The treasure must have something to do with the Roman Catholic Church’s claim as God’s sole representative on earth. Nothing else makes sense. So, it has to be something that threatens their claim to such authority, and taking into account the involvement of secular powers, I think whatever it is threatens Judeo-Christian civilization as a whole.”
“How could anything bring down the dominant civilization?” Branson had thought of this often since his session with Rawlings.
“Among the world’s religions, Christianity is uniquely susceptible to having its underpinnings knocked out. Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism all developed slowly, along the lines of indigenous cultures. Without Mohammed, Islam would still live, as would Buddhism without Gautama. Christianity rests on one thing, the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, Christianity becomes a mere set of moral maxims, at best a good way to live one’s life, perhaps even a precursor to secular humanism. But if Jesus died and was raised from the dead, then Christianity has what other faiths only promise, the guarantee of eternal life in paradise.” Albert puffed on his cigar until it glowed fiercely. “And so, Doctor, another question. Is there proof of Jesus’ resurrection?”
Branson was on familiar ground now. “The Gospels give us eyewitness accounts. Mary Magdalene sees Jesus in the garden near his tomb. His disciples see him again in the Upper Room and elsewhere.”
Albert knocked his cigar ashes into the fireplace and smiled. “Let me ask you this: which Gospel is the oldest?”
“Mark, written around 70 AD. The next oldest is Matthew, followed by Luke, and finally John.”
“How does Mark, the earliest of the Gospels, end?”
“I’m sorry?”
“Tell me how Mark ends his story.”
Jessica joined in. “Three women go to Jesus’ tomb and find it empty. They meet a young man dressed in white who tells them that Jesus is risen. Then, not long after, he appears to the apostles.”
“Does she have it right, Dr. Branson?”
“Well, she’s pretty close. The three women go to the tomb, find it empty, and are told by the white-robed stranger that Jesus has risen. But…”
“Yes?” Albert pressed.
“The fact is the original version of Mark’s Gospel ends there. The material about Jesus appearing to the apostles, his ascent into heaven, was added later. But in the original, Mark makes no mention of any appearance of the resurrected Jesus.”
“Is an empty tomb proof of resurrection?” Albert asked. “Is hearing about the resurrection from a stranger proof? A rather shaky foundation to build a world religion on, n’est-ce pas? What about the testimony of the Roman guards? Of course they agreed with the resurrection story. If they’d admitted to falling asleep, or leaving their posts, or getting drunk, they would have lost more than their jobs. Just an empty tomb does not a resurrection make.”
“No, but that doesn’t mean the resurrection and appearance to the apostles didn’t happen.” Branson sounded more defensive than he’d intended. He didn’t feel himself to be in a strong position to serve as apologist for the Church, not here and now.
Jessica cleared her throat. “So, let’s ask a different question. What would constitute proof that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?”
Branson let the objective scholar within take over from the Catholic believer. Under the circumstances, he was certainly glad he had the ability to do so. “Well, off the top of my head, I’d say finding his bones.”
“Very good,” Albert said, puffing away on his cigar. “But is that really the case? Old bones in some ossuary. How would you prove they’re the bones of Jesus Christ? Highly unlikely. So proving Jesus died is probably not the threat.”
“Isn’t there anything else that might challenge the foundation of Christianity?” Jessica asked.
Branson thought for a moment. “I suppose something that brought into doubt the virgin birth or the crucifixion.”
“Very good, Dr. Branson,” Albert said in between puffs of his cigar.
“Also very unlikely,” Branson admitted. “How can you prove the virgin birth? It’s not like Mary went around town saying, ‘Look at me, I’m the Virgin Mary.’ That title was bestowed upon her by the Church hundreds of years after her death. Unless you could find the equivalent of a two thousand year old birth certificate, or a paternity test from Joseph you’d be hard pressed to disprove it. And even if we allow for the fact that Jesus had siblings, as he clearly did from what the Gospels tell us, there is nothing to say that he wasn’t the eldest, and thus Mary could still have been a virgin at his birth, while the other children were conceived by Joseph.”
“What of the crucifixion?” Albert said.
“How can that be proved?”
“Well, I suppose you could find the cross upon which Jesus was crucified, or the nails used to affix him to the cross, or the crown of thorns he wore. However, proving any of that is next to impossible. The Romans crucified thousands and there is no way to tell from the remnants of wood who was crucified on a particular cross, the nails that were used, or the crown that was worn.” Branson thought for a moment. “So what do you think the Cathar treasure is, and where is it?”
Albert blew smoke rings into the cabin’s stale air. “Those are exactly the questions we hope you can help us answer, Dr. Branson. Will you join us in our efforts?”  





Monday, October 13, 2014

Ruth Tenzer Feldman, The Ninth Day, plus #giveaway, #free ebook





Giveaway: For the first two winners: Leave a comment on my Facebook page, Twitter page, or website, and mention that you saw this interview. Give me a way to contact you and I'll send you a copy of The Ninth Day.  I'll also send an autographed copy of The Ninth Day and Blue Thread to the first person who sends me an email describing in detail the cookie—and what it links to—on my website.

AUTHOR: Ruth Tenzer Feldman
BOOK TITLE: The Ninth Day
GENRE: Young adult historical fiction/fantasy
PUBLISHER: Ooligan Press
BUY LINK: Please support independent bookstores: http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9781932010657-2
But if you can't, there's always Amazon:


Please tell us about yourself.

I've been enthralled with character and points of view since second grade, when I had an eye narrate my science report on vision. After studying international relations (lots of viewpoints there) and law  (there, too), I crafted a career as a legislative attorney for the U.S. Department of Education. I practiced sounding like several different presidents when I drafted bills and documents to send to Congress. My only other contribution to the national political scene has been an airing on NPR of my food parody of the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise."

While working for the government, I started writing articles and nonfiction books, finishing the last two books after leaving the law behind. My first novel, Blue Thread, won the Oregon Book Award for young adult literature in 2013. My newest book, The Ninth Day, is a companion novel that entwines the Free Speech Movement in 1964 Berkeley, the aftermath of the First Crusade in 1099, and LSD.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

That's a good question. I have no other outside employment now, so I can devote as much time to writing as I wish. In practice, though, I rarely write more than three hours a day. I used to write primarily in the mornings, working an hour or so at a stretch. Now I write in shorter chunks throughout the day. Staying on task is easier when I'm revising rather than when I'm writing new material.

When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?

Mt. Rainier inspired me to write under my own name, instead of pretending to be the President or Secretary of Education. It was 1992. My family was spending a year in Seattle, far from our home in suburban Maryland. I fell in love with the magic of a mountain that made so much of its own atmosphere that sometimes it appeared in the sky and sometimes it vanished. Every day I'd check to see if the mountain was "out." I decided then and there to put some of that magic into my first published articles, even though they were nonfiction. The real world is a wondrous place! Many articles later, I was asked to submit ideas for a children's nonfiction history book, which later became Don't Whistle in School: The History of America's Public Schools. I was hooked.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

My favorite non-writing activity is walking around the downtown section of Portland (we finally moved to the Pacific Northwest). I listen in on snippets of conversations and peek at tattoos. I people-watch like crazy while riding the streetcar in my disguise as the innocuous older woman with the library book on her lap.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I sometimes suffer from Writer's Kvetch. That's when an annoying editorial voice insists on telling me that everything I am putting on the page is slop. When this happens, I try to shut off the voice by patiently explaining how she'll have a chance to complain during the revision process, if only she'd leave me alone during the first draft. If that doesn't work, then I sulk and eat way too many chocolate chip cookies. At that point one of my current characters usually starts talking in some scene or other, and I have to write down what happens, and Writer's Kvetch stomps off in a huff.

Please tell us your latest news.

I'm in the lo-o-o-ng process of writing another story involving the time traveler featured in Blue Thread and The Ninth Day. This third book is currently called (drum roll, please)…Book Three. Oh, well. My writers' critique group, Viva Scriva, and I will come up with a better title eventually.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Hello out there. I'm tucked away in social media at:
Facebook: Ruth Tenzer Feldman
Twitter: @ScrivaRuth
E-mail: ruth@ruthtenzerfeldman.com

Tell us about the current book you're promoting. What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?

The Ninth Day centers on Hope Friis, a shy, stuttering teen who is scarred by an accidental LSD trip in 1964, and who meets a time-traveler claiming that Hope must find a way to stop a father from killing his newborn son in 11th century Paris. I aim to have readers enjoy accompanying Hope through nine days of her life.  If they learn something from either time period, that's a bonus. If they take away from the book a sense of confidence in their own voice, then that's even better.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?

Research? Oh, yes, indeed. Tons. The Ninth Day involved research on 1964 Berkeley, the Free Speech Movement, the Jewish community in 11th century Paris, and the First Crusade. The main character stutters, which I did as well at her age, so I could write from experience. My biggest surprise came while reading about ergotism—a disease that in the Middle Ages was called Saint Anthony's Fire—and its link to the Salem witch trials and to LSD.

Is this your first published children’s work? What other types of writing have you done?

I started by writing articles—dozens and dozens of them. The Ninth Day is book 12, but only my second novel. The first ten works were nonfiction books, in history and biography. I'm fascinated by history. One day I had the urge to stretch the truth on a biography of president Calvin Coolidge. Calvin loved to play pranks on his Secret Service guards, and I wanted to tell the story from the point of view of the guard. I figured that was a sign to try writing historical fiction.


What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Historical fiction demands a balance between history and fiction, between authenticity and artistry, between what really happened and what happens in the story. I always find that balance tricky.

Describe your writing space.

My writing space wanders. Have laptop, will travel.  Still, there is an official place for me—an 8' x 10' nook crammed with shelves and made comfy with a "Persian" (likely Turkish) rug. Dominating the wall is a poster of a tiger's head, eyes fierce, mouth opened wide to show four huge fangs, and a thick red tongue…and a writer typing away on his laptop. Has the writer conjured up the tiger? Or is he so caught up in his writing that he is oblivious to the tiger? Either way works for me.  What do you think?

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?

My least favorite part is stopping when I don't want to and continuing when I'd rather be doing something else. Sounds selfish, but there you have it.



Excerpt from The Ninth Day

[From the first day: Berkeley, November 29, 1964]

Sylvester scratched my arm.
                  “Ow!” I picked him up mother-cat style by the nape of his neck. “W-what’s with you tonight, you cuh-razy beast?”

                  He went limp. I tucked my hand under his bottom. “You’re b-banished until you can behave.” I put Sylvester in the hall leading to the bathroom and the workroom/garage, and started to close the door.

                  That’s when I heard a woman’s voice behind me, coming from the direction of the open window. “Miryam Tikvah, I come in peace.”

                  She stood by my desk, holding out her hands and beckoning me to come closer. She looked about Dagmar’s age—bronze skin, gold-flecked hazel eyes highlighted with white eyebrows and nearly invisible eyelashes. No make-up. No jewelry. She wore a floor-length beige wool robe and an ochre headscarf that hid most of her white hair. Maybe she was part of a cult. Maybe she was from some exotic country.

                  Miryam Tikvah. How could she know my Hebrew name? And how had she opened the window and closed it so quietly? Maybe she wasn’t really there. Oh, God, not another flashback!
                 
                  I took a breath and stared at her, waiting for her to start glowing or turn into some bizarre creature.
                 
                  She didn’t change.
                 
                  Keeping her in my sight, I dug into the pile at the foot of Dagmar’s bed and closed my hand around one of Dagmar’s clogs. And I let it fly.
                 
                  She caught the clog a second before it would have slammed into her stomach. Her eyes widened in surprise. “I have done nothing to harm you. I come in peace. Why do you insult me with the throwing of a shoe?”
                 
                  I felt my shoulders relax. Better to be visited by a stranger than a flashback. “First of all, my name is Hope. Second, I threw the shoe to see if you were really here. And third, get out of my room.” The words gushed out of my mouth without a glitch. Weird.
                 
                  She sat on my bed, put Dagmar’s clog on the floor, folded her hands in her lap, and beamed at me. “Then I, too, shall call you by this name in your place and time. Hope.”
                 
                  I inched closer to the bedroom door, ready to escape. There was something really off about this girl. She was probably one of Dagmar’s friends, maybe someone from our temple, which was why she called me Miryam Tikvah. Her voice had a guttural quality to it. Israeli? She was probably stoned or worse—on LSD, which should be illegal in California but isn’t. Lysergic acid di-whatever. Since my first and only trip, I’d renamed it Lethal-Suicidal-Deadly.
                 
                  “I’m going to bed now,” I said, pointing to my pajamas. “You’ll have to wait for Dagmar outside.” No stutter again, which sometimes happens when I am over-the-top angry. But I felt more frightened than angry, and fear usually makes it harder to push the words out. Crazy.
                 
                  “I am not waiting for your sister Dagmar. I am waiting for you.”

*

Monday, October 6, 2014

Robbi Perna, The Roman Phalera – The Vines of Bordessi, Book One




AUTHOR:  Robbi Perna
BOOK TITLE: The Roman Phalera – The Vines of Bordessi, Book One
GENRE:  Adventure/Historical/Romance
PUBLISHER:  Muse It Up Publishing
KOBO: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/my-heart-still-surrenders


Please tell us about yourself.  I am a native of Denver, Colorado, the oldest of four children in an Italian-American family.  As the only girl, I gained a unique insight on the Italian male psyche over the years.  My stories often reflect my Italian heritage and the traits many Italian men and women exhibit.  At a recent reunion, a classmate approached me and remarked, "I remember two things about you: you always wanted horses; and you were always writing stories."  I happily confirmed I had owned Arabian horses for a number of years before moving away from Denver and I still write stories.  I now make my home in central Florida where snow is a figment of my overactive imagination and Santino the Parti-poodle manages the household between naps while I write.

I bring a diverse perspective to my stories and am the author of thirty-one published works that include novels, short stories, articles, essays, and editorials.

My professional memberships include Romance Writers of America, Florida Writers Association, Savvy Authors, and the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. 

Please tell us your latest news. The Florida Writers Association selected my historical romance, “My Heart Still Surrenders,” as a finalist in the 2014 Royal Palm Literary Award competition. 

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?  I am a full-time writer.  If I’m not working on a government contract—something I still do, although I claim I’m retired (LOL)—I’m working on a new story.

When and why did you begin writing?  I can’t remember a time I didn’t write.  Since I’m a product of the Catholic school system, writing is something that has always been a part of me, and yes, back in those days, we had a ruler applied to our knuckles if our grammar was incorrect.

What inspired you to write your first book?  My first book, if you can call it that, was a full-length play that Sister Patriciana assigned to our English class back in 8th grade.  My story was an adventure with my three brothers, the family dog, and myself that took place in Rome—a city that I’d never visited at that point in my life.  Inspiration for the story line grew out of the popular TV series, “The Man from Uncle.”

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?  I live in a 55+ community in central Florida named Solivita.  The residents describe it as a cruise ship without the water.  Finding something to occupy my time when I’m not writing isn’t difficult, although I honesty compels me to admit I’m writing most of the time.  If I’m not seated at my computer, I’m writing in my head.

What are your thoughts about promotion?  Promotion is an integral part of the writers’ tradecraft.  A lot depends on why a person chooses to write.  For myself, I write first for personal satisfaction and the fact that people buy my books and enjoy them is the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae.  While I pay to advertise, it’s a necessity, I believe the most effective advertising is my public behavior and word of mouth.  Since I make no secret of my career as an author, I’m always cognizant of my public persona.  Just because something or someone irritates the daylights out of me, I don’t react in anyway that will cause that person or the people in earshot to decide I’m a first class witch and nothing I write is worth reading.  Word of mouth is the most important component of any advertising effort. 

What was the toughest criticism given to you? Wow, that’s a hard question.  An agent who read a synopsis and the first ten pages of “The Roman Phalera” told me my vocabulary was too elevated for most readers. 

What was the biggest compliment? My writing instructor in a course I took at Northern Virginia Community College, who is a published author in his own right, told me I certainly knew how to tell a story from start to finish without getting bogged down in the middle. 

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?  I cherish the compliment and use it as inspiration when I sit down to write.  I’m aware of the criticism from the agent, but I can’t say it has influenced my writing.  E-readers all have dictionaries and I believe most people are smarter than others give them credit. 

Do you ever have writer’s block? Fortunately, writer’s block hasn’t caught up with me yet.  However, I write from an outline so I always know where my story is going, at least in general terms.  

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?  Yes, I learned no matter how much time lapses after the loss of loved one, you never get over the loss, only past it.  This book was very healing for me in getting past the loss of a much-loved brother.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?  Muse It Up Publishing and I answered a submissions call for a HEA romance set in the holiday season.  Lea accepted my novella, “A Love Like No Other,” and released it in December 2011.

What is your marketing plan?  I have advertised in the Solivita Community monthly magazine, “Reflections,” posted the release on my website, utilize postcards and a video trailer, and recently joined www.iauthor.com, a global marketing platform based in the UK.  I am also a participant in Romance Writers of America’s Novel Engagement app.

What are your current projects?  I finished the production of a video trailer for a new story that I’m developing and will start writing in the fall. 

What do you plan for the future?  More stories, of course!  I have plans in the works for a sequel to “The Roman Phalera” and a fourth installment in “The Venetian Masquerades” series.  Neither of those stories is pushing at me yet because the new one “Robes of Destiny” is fighting to get onto the computer screen.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?  My website address is:  http://www.RobbiPerna.net and Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/robbi.perna.  In addition, I have my author’s pages on Amazon and Muse It Up Publishing.  I haven’t yet dipped my toes in the Twitter or blog waters.

Any other news you’d like to share?  The Solivita book club has contacted me to be their guest speaker for their March 2015 meeting.  Their reading selection for that month is “My Heart Still Surrenders.”
What genre do you write in and why?  I like writing romance—many times with a twist of something “extra.”  No matter how old or jaded we become, a small part of each of us still likes the idea of happy ever after.  If the HEA gets a little help from the “other” world, all the better.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.  “The Roman Phalera” is the story I started writing fiction to tell.  I thought it would provide a fitting tribute to my late brother, even though the character of Paolo no way resembles my brother except in personality.  My stories always revolve around my Italian background and culture and this one features one aspect that is inherent in that culture—the importance of family.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?  While lunching with a colleague one day and discussing houses, she remarked to me that with my love of houses, I should write a story about one in which every person who visits, has a different experience.  That germ of the idea provided the background setting and I built the experience based on my educational and family backgrounds.

Do you outline before you write?  Yes, I outline and make my video trailer before I start the initial writing process.  

What comes first: the plot or characters?  The basic idea for the plot comes first and then I people it with the main characters.  Secondary characters develop as the plot thickens (sorry, I couldn’t resist the clique!)

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?  I love all my characters.  If I didn’t, what would be the point of writing them?  In this particular story, I pity Carlo the most because he has to go on alone after the death of his twin.  While my brother Paul wasn’t my twin, we were as close to being twins as possible for siblings born four years apart.  I had a hard time after his death.

Which characters were the hardest to develop and why?  I tend to base characters on bits and pieces of real people so developing them isn’t ever very hard.  There are just so many good examples walking around out there.

How did you decide how your characters should look?  Physical traits and appearance are always the hardest things for me.  I use my video trailers for help with this, which requires spending huge blocks of time looking at photos in the stock picture sites to get the right look.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?  I started with the basic story line, developed the video trailer, built an outline from the trailer, and then started writing.

Did your book require a lot of research? Yes it did.  If so, what kind?  First, while I am (or was back in the day) a home wine maker, I know the basic process of making wine.  However, growing the grapes and vineyard management, as well as Carlo’s profession of wine brokering, were all new territories for me.  The Roman battle scene was difficult in part because it exists more in the realm of myth than historical fact.  I finally went to the original Roman sources for an account of the battle and its aftermath.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?  I don’t write either.  Why or why not?  I feel everyone’s idea of sensuality is different and unique to that person.  If someone wishes to read erotica, that is his or her choice, but I don’t enjoy reading it.  At my age, I know how to do it—I don’t have to read a “how to” account nor will I ever write anything that graphic.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?  Explaining to my dog why I was sobbing while I sat at my computer writing the funeral scene.  He was so upset that I was so emotional.

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process?  Depends on the length of the book, the “extra-curricular” obligations in my life, and how long I can sit comfortably at my computer.  I treat my fiction writing the same way I treat my contract writing—as a full-time job.  If there is a day in which I can’t spend my entire time at the computer, I try to write at least a thousand words.

What are your current books out right now:  I have eight current books released by Muse It Up Publishing right now:
The Domenico Family Case Files:  “A Love Like No Other;” “Once A Soldier;” and “All the Days of Forever.”
The Venetian Masquerades:  “What Hides Behind the Mask;” “A Sign From Heaven Sent;” and “A World Made New.”
“My Heart Still Surrenders,” a historical romance set in the mid-19th century Italy, based on three incidents in my great-great grandmother’s life.
The Vines of Bordessi:  “The Roman Phalera.”

And what are the books coming up for release?  I am awaiting acceptance on a new manuscript, “Where the Lion Dwells” hopefully for release in 2015

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?  Keep writing and submitting your books.  Don’t get discouraged by rejections—we call get them—and don’t let acceptances go to your head.  Publishers and the reading public have very subjective viewpoints.  Remain true to your vision and enjoy the journey.



EXCERPT:

The Roman Phalera

            Hands braced on the wide window ledge, his eyes trained on the slopes of the lower vineyard, Carlo Cavaleri stared out the window of his home office.  The dormant vineyards slumbered in the morning light of the late January day.  Crystalline drops left from the rain that had slipped away with the sunrise wrapped the vines in their icy embrace.  Rainbow splinters of rose-hued light shot from the sun’s reflection off the frozen droplets on the metal wires.  The wood of the vines stretched out on the stainless steel, cruciform supports moaned and popped as gnarled branches, denuded now of their leaf canopies, expanded in the warming air.  Trills of birdsong and the rustling of small forest creatures echoing in the still air heralded the new day.
            On the upper slopes set back against the hills, the vinesclones of the rootstock brought from Italy by Nonno Giovanni over seventy years earlierwould, in the months to come, yield the grapes for the vintages which made the Cavaleri wines renowned.  The limited cases of wine the grapes from these particular vines produced commanded prices equaled only by high-end foreign imports.  The Cavaleri family guarded these vines with the jealous zeal once accorded the virtue of unmarried daughters.  Even now at the early hour, workers walked the rows checking for problems as they pruned away the dead wood from the vines, speaking to each as though it were a favored child.
            The cold, winter rains combined with the moderate Mediterranean-like climate of the Sonoma Valley presaged a bountiful, successful fall harvest for the winery.  Nothing in the peaceful scene outside the moisture-edged panes of his office window could account for the foreboding that had awakened Carlo.  He paced back to his desk and reached for the phone a second before it chimed the ringtone he’d assigned to his twin, Paolo.
              “I hoped you’d call.  I tried your office earlier, but no one answered.  Thought I’d try to catch you at lunchtime.  Is everything okay?  I woke up thinking about you.”  He sat back in his leather swivel chair, stretched out his long khaki-clad legs, and put his loafer-shod feet up on the desk. He closed his eyes and imagined his twin, Doctor Paolo Cavaleri, five hundred thirty miles to the south in San Diego, gazing out his own office window and smiling at the sound of his brother’s voice.  Carlo dragged a well-kept hand with its short nails and smooth cuticles through collar-length dark hair the color of aged wood.  The open-collared shirt he wore under his pullover sweater matched the deep sapphire blue of his wide-spaced, deep-set eyes.  The light calluses on his palm caught at the loose knit of his silk cable knit sweater.
             “I knew you were, but this is the first chance I’ve had to sit for five minutes.  I had a seven o’clock review session for some of my students this morning. How’s everything around the farm?”
            The farm to which he referred was the ninety acres of vineyard owned by their parents Elena and Lucido Cavaleri.  No matter how far away their travels took the twins, the vineyard was home, the place where love, good food, and family provided the firm grounding for their very different personalities.
            “Everything’s about the same around here.  I think Pops is out communing with the vines right now, but I can’t see him from my window.”  Carlo had dropped his feet to the floor, rose from his slouched sprawl, and walked over to peer out the window.  No one moved along the Chardonnay section.  “I heard Mom carrying on about ‘my-son-the-doctor’ to a group of visitors yesterday.  She always liked you best.”
            Elena Cavaleri’s my-son-the-doctor snickered.  “Mom’s no fool.  Her description sounds a lot more impressive than ‘my-son-the-wine-broker.’  The only one of us she likes best is John Christopher, but only, I hasten to admit, because he came first.”
            “Oh, and aren’t we thankful for our older brother.  As the heir, he gets the duty and we can do what we please with our lives.”  Carlo reminded his twin.  “That is, if he ever gets back here.  I think his tour of duty in Afghanistan ends next month and he’s due out of the Reserve in September.  Good thing—at least he’ll return in time to help with the harvest.”
            “You’ve heard from Earmuffs then?  I didn’t think he would be able to give out that sort of information.”
            “No, I made a note of it when he left and have been marking the days off the calendar so to speak.  Older-brother-knows-it-best syndrome notwithstanding, I’ll be glad when he’s back safe, sound, and lecturing us on the error of our ways.”
            The earmuffs sobriquet was a relic from their childhood days when John Christopher received his first stereo headset and proceeded to wear it all the waking hours of the day, whether he’d connected it to his portable tape player or not.  The twins, five years his junior, had twitted him about it ever since.  John Christopher, now an Army Major in the California National Guard, had outgrown the need to retaliate on a physical level, not that they hadn’t all pounded on one another from time to time during their younger days.  Instead, he treated them with the indulgent tolerance of an adult for unruly children, an action that still infuriated his two younger siblings, but left them unable to hit back.
            “On another note, are you up for one of our adventures this next weekend?”  Paolo’s voice held a tinge of suppressed irritation.
            Carlo paced back to the desk.  The sunlight glittered off the slight moisture on the windows, leaving glistening rainbows in its wake and cast a swathe of bright light across the contents spread out on its surface.  “What do you have in mind?”