Tag Archives: novels

HAPPY BOOK LOVER’S DAY

Today is National Book Lover’s Day. Treat yourself to a new book. I look forward to the day where one of my book’s will be available to purchase. Until that moment, I will continue to get lost in the worlds other authors create.

What Books have you been reading? Here is a few that I read in the past year.

 

I am looking forward to reading many more.  My current To Be Read list looks like this.

I showed you mine, now show me yours. What books have you read recently and what books are you looking forward to reading?

 

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Filed under BLOG, books, tbr, Uncategorized

Happy NanoWrimo

Hello writers, do you know what today is? It’s November first which means, it’s National Novel Writing Month. It’s your chance to write 50,000 words in thirty days. I’m not participating this year but I am currently editing my young adult novel that I began writing two years ago during Nanowrimo. My story goes like this; I was in the midst of writing a middle-grade fantasy novel. I had it completely outlined. The characters were in place, settings were created and ending was known, when I received a challenge from my sister-in-law (who also happens to be my writer bff). She had recently decided that she wanted to get back into writing and thought Nanowrimo was exactly what she needed to get her fingers typing. But, she wanted someone to do it with her.
I kicked the idea around for a few days but knew I wasn’t going to use my wip (The middle-grade fantasy) because that would sort of be cheating. Ironically the night before November first I had a crazy dream. As I was writing the details of the dream into my journal, it hit me. Use this dream to base a new novel on. And so, my young adult novel was born. I don’t think I achieved the fifty thousand by the end of the month but I did finish a novel which I’m super excited about. Yes, it’s two years later and I’m just now getting it ready to query. It was the first novel I wrote organically. I let it evolve naturally and the result was better than I could imagine.
My dream inspired the novel, but I could have never dreamt of what it would become. I just hope that an agent likes it as much as I do, which is why I am taking as long as needed to get it as close to perfect as possible. Without, the challenge from my sister-in-law or Nanowrimo, this novel wouldn’t exist which is why I say, “Go for it!”
Ten tips to help you with Nanowrimo
1. Just start writing. Don’t worry if you think it’s junk. Get the words on the paper (or keyboard)
2. Put a motivating quote in front of you each day.
3. Let everything around you inspire you. Did you notice someone in the grocery store that would be great for a character? (Perhaps the teenager checking you out.)
4. If you aim for seventeen hundred words a day, you will meet your goal.
5. Surf the web for others who are also participating. It’s great to have a cheering section.
6. Read about Nanowrimo success stories. Every time you feel like quitting, remind yourself it worked for someone else.
7. Keep repeating this sentence- By the end of this month I will have written a novel.
8. Crank up the music. Music helps you get into the groove and may spark an idea.
9. Listen to the small voices inside your head; they are your characters dictating the story to you.
10. Search for your congratulatory gift to yourself and when you complete Nanowrimo, go buy it.

Good Luck everyone! Leave me a comment telling us whether or not you’re participating. If you’re this year, have you ever?

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, novel, stories, writer's life, writers, Writing

Interview With Indie Author Jozef Rothstein and Signed Book Giveaway

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Signed Book Giveaway and Interview With Author Jozef Rothstein

 UPDATE: This giveaway will be open until Tuesday August 28 th.  

 

On Sunday, August 5th, I had the pleasure of meeting Jozef Rothstein, author of As the Matzo Ball Turns at our local Barnes and Nobles. As we charged his table (yes, my sister-in-law and I bought five books) I knew immediately by his huge bright smile that he was going to be fun and interesting. Talking to Jozef was like chatting with an old friend. I had so many questions (maybe too many) and Jozef eagerly answered every one of them. His sense of humor shined through the entire conversation which I adored because as I told Jozef, I tend to bond with people immediately if our sense of humors match, which his and mine definitely did. I had to pull myself away from his table, because I didn’t want to sabotage his book signing, but it took every ounce of restraint not to run back every five minutes to chat. He was that much fun.

Jozef was totally cool in agreeing to answer some interview questions for my blog. Be sure to include a comment at the end of the interview because you will have the chance to win a signed copy of Jozef’s awesome book As the Matzo Ball Turns. One reader will be chosen at random. All you have to do is comment. I’d love for you to follow my blog or me on twitter @Yolaramunno but you don’t have to in order to win. If you don’t comment you can’t win.

As with all interviews on this blog, answers from authors don’t necessarily reflect my views regarding the industry.

Okay, let’s get to it.

Hi Jozef how are you?

Dandy. Now that’s a word you don’t hear much anymore!!! I am just dandy!

First, I’d like to thank you so much for stopping by Writing Like Crazy.

Thank you for having me Maribeth. It was so much fun rapping with you at the book signing I was chomping at the bit to do the interview!

 I like to start right from the beginning, if that’s okay with you. First, did you always want to become a writer or was your journey (living in Hollywood with stars in your eyes) what inspired your writing career?

Wow, that’s a loaded question!!!! I really have no idea. Hmmm. Let me think about it. How much room do I have? Okay well, I remember writing funny stories in my fifth grade creative writing class that the teacher would read aloud. (And then there was this time at band camp … ) I would pick one classmate per week to build a story around and put him/her on the spot. My teacher and my peers found them humorous, as long as they weren’t the subject of my ridicule that week. AND everybody looked forward to my holiday cards. They didn’t get me any after school kisses but I really enjoyed writing them.

Then came high school. I was a gangly teen who looked like a praying mantis. That has nothing to do with your inquiry but I thought I’d mention it anyway. I really got into sports for a while but I eventually wandered out to Hollywood where my writing career was born out of necessity.

I have always admired people who could pack up everything to go follow their dreams. Can you tell us a little bit about your choice to leave your small town in Pennsylvania to go to Hollywood?

I equate it to the first time I went skydiving. I am six feet five inches tall and as we climbed to five thousand feet, the altitude for my first jump, I was crammed into a tiny little Cessna with like seven other people. I was scared as hell but I was so boxed in for so long I couldn’t wait to jump out of that sardine can and stretch out a little.

How did that first year go?

Well … It depends on who you ask. First, a little background. I ended up taking a liking to the game of football but one crazy life story later I ended up taking a year off after college and then tried to get back in the game. I was acting as my own agent and I got so insanely obsessed with obtaining an NFL career I would call people like Mike Ditka and I don’t know, threaten to eat him and his children if he didn’t bring me into training camp. Believe it or not, this approach was somewhat successful and almost landed me on a couple of rosters. An NFL career just wasn’t in the cards so I exploded onto the Hollywood scene like a clown shot out of a circus cannon.

At first, I grabbed the attention of every big player in the business. But this quickly backfired and worked against me. After my first year in town, unbeknownst to me, I believe my aggressive approach, which had worked so well in football, landed me on every blacklist in Hollywood. It did, however, get me several recommendations for the crème de la crème of acting teachers who were an interesting case study in and of themselves. I spent five years immersing myself in the craft learning various techniques with the best coaches in the business. I worked so hard, I actually became quite good at it.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book?

It’s the story of someone entering the dog eat dog world of Hollywood wearing milk bone underwear. The pitch line for it is “An aspiring actor’s ten year encounter with hit men, celebrities and old Jewish ladies.” To sum it up, it is the story of someone who arrives in Hollywood with a suitcase and announces to the world, “I want to be in movies!” This is the real story, not the E! True Hollywood story, of what 99.9% of people go through, for as many years as they can stand it, before they are sent back to where ever it is they came from with their shattered dreams folded up in their suitcases.

And like almost everyone in LA LA land the only way to earn a decent living while aspiring for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is to become an indentured servant, oops, I mean waiter. And since everybody and his brother Harry is trying to do the same thing, (If you throw a rock you hit two hundred of us), you are a very disposable commodity at best. I just so happened to pick a very notorious Jewish deli for my ten years as professional whipping boy where most of the hilarity and hijinks in this story occur. And, of course, that’s where the backdrop for the book is set.

How did you come up with the title for the book?

It started out as a joke because everyday at the deli there was so sort of heavy drama going on, much like a soap opera. In a deep announcer’s voice I would observe, “Today, on As the Matzo Ball Turns, John’s boyfriend threatens to leave him if he doesn’t stop performing at the local drag queen bar.” On my way out of Hollywood doing 120mph the title kept repeating itself in my head. With lots of time to think while driving across country with my two dogs, the rest of the story started punching its way out of me. In all my years as a writer I believe every great story starts with a great title. I believe the title has to excite you about your story and from there the rest just falls into place.

Readers get an immediate hint at what type of work you landed out in California by the books jacket. Clad as a beaver in Speedo trunks and Scooby Doo cape while surrounded by beautiful women dressed to the nines. Can you give us maybe a small snapshot of this moment?

It is the equivalent of stepping into a nice warm shower only to have it interrupted by ten federal agents in riot gear who mistakenly arrest you and drag you out into the middle of the street stark naked while the entire neighborhood watches on in horror. All the while your turtle is in the shell, if you know what I mean.

You and I connected on a couple of things. You wait tables in your spare time; I waited tables since I was thirteen years old so I can relate to the waiter/waitress stories. There is a part in the book where you had to wait on a very famous person on Christmas day (I won’t say who the celebrity is-we will make the readers curious ;)) who wasn’t very nice. Your description of standing in front of her asking if she would like a drink while she ignored you hit home for me because I myself have had those moments while waitressing, many times, but never by someone famous. Did you know at that moment that incident would end up in your book?

You mean before or after I imagined myself cutting her in half with a chain saw? I honestly had no idea at that point in time there would ever be a book, let alone a book written about those types of experiences. As a matter of fact, I simply wanted to move on with my career in entertainment and never re-visit them again. Back then, I would have never believed a Hollywood career would not happen for me. But when the light finally turned on after ten years of beating my head against a cement wall and other factors (that are listed in the book) sent me flying out of Los Angeles with a ball of flames shooting out from behind me that’s when the idea of looking back and having one last laugh became very appealing to me.

Okay, now on to some industry questions.

Can you tell us about your journey to publication?

It was like giving birth to a hippopotamus, but I truly believe when it’s your time it’s your time. I had been raging against the machine for quite some time so it only made sense that my publisher would be detached from the Hollywood establishment and the crony media conglomerates. After getting anywhere from 50-100 rejected query letters and exhausting my Hollywood insider connections I put a call out to an independent producer friend who knew a lot of people. This guy really liked my previous writings and I thought to myself what can it hurt? He was actually planning a dinner meeting with a good friend who was in town and whose mother is a successful publisher. A few weeks later they were reading my work and I was getting the green light. The rest is history.

Do you remember the moment you declared yourself a writer?

The day Universal Studios returned my call based on a pitch I left on someone’s answering machine for my first screenplay which was written entirely in pencil. I didn’t have a computer at the time so I had to have a friend who worked at MGM type it up for me so I could present a professional copy.

You are a semi self-published author is that correct?

Yes, even though I’ve bared some of the up-front costs, I had to have their stamp of approval on the material in order for them to publish it and the book had to be good enough for them to want to distribute it. Again, I absorbed most of the costs (which is very typical today for almost any first time author unless you are Paris Hilton writing your memoirs) but the upside is a bigger back end for me. I have an unbridled entrepreneurial spirit and a very clear and concise artistic voice. I refuse to have it compromised for any reason whatsoever and this situation allows me to have the best of both worlds. I couldn’t be happier.

Can you share with my readers how you went about getting your book out there and what resources you used?

At this stage of the game, I just used my instincts and the relationships I had built over the years. I am definitely a one man army when it comes to tireless self-promotion and I believe in my work so I am also like a used car salesman gone wild. There are days when I wish I had an off button but overall I am very proud of the book which makes me want to get it out to people even more. If I have to spray paint the title on the side of my car I will, but I will not stop until As the Matzo Ball Turns reaches the New York Times Best Seller List.

Before you decided to take this route, did you try the traditional methods of querying agents?

Yes, but quite honestly, I knew from my previous encounters with these brain dead drones that they would never in a million years accept my work. It doesn’t fit into one of their neat little boxes and it also exposes the very same industry that sends their kids to the finest schools and gets them invited to all the trendy parties. Well, I am kicking in the door and saying, “Here’s Johnny.”

*I’d like to clarify if any agents are reading my blog, that Jozef’s comments are not my own. I don’t think of agents, editors or publishers as brain dead drones*

If so, how many queries did you send before deciding to do your own thing?

Again, even though I sent out 50-100 queries I knew in my heart of hearts I had to take the grassroots approach but I had no idea how I was going to accomplish it. There is no doubt in my mind that this publishing and distribution set up is the right thing for me because I have never had things fall into place so naturally in my entire life.

Do you have more books in the works?

If I started writing them today I wouldn’t finish them all in this lifetime. But, right now, with my work schedule and the non-stop promotion of this book, I have absolutely zero time to write. I already thought out a sequel to As the Matzo Ball Turns and have another more serious book to scribble down after that. But, I would honestly like to take a stab at making another movie. I worked on one film while I was in LA and learned so much from it I just have to get my hands on another one. And I have a great screenplay to boot.

Okay, I know your head is probably spinning from all of these grueling questions but I like to end my interviews with some fire questions. You ready?

Yikes. Go for it!

*Do you have a thinking spot?

On the john or on the floor while petting my dog, Charlie, who is also a character in the book. He made one public appearance for a book signing and it will most likely be his last. I left him out of my site for just one minute and he scared the death out of two middle aged men entering the store. He was dressed in bow tie but acted more like he was wearing a pin striped suit.

*What is your writing ritual?

Playing solitaire before and after each writing session. I know I just drew ire from the entire writing profession for falling into the lonely writer stereotype but what can I say it relaxes me. And what writer isn’t a little bit of a loner?

*Do you keep Journals?

I scribble down notes. My desk looks like that of a mad scientist. I call it organized chaos.

*What is the strangest thing you ever wrote an idea on because you didn’t have paper available? (I once wrote an idea on a matchbook)

Hahaha. I like yours. For me, it would have to be a bible.

What are you reading right now?

Besides all of these silly questions, I am reading Redemption 4th edition. Long story. It’s not so much for enjoyment as it is personal knowledge. But the truth of the matter is, with this latest endeavor I barely ever get time to read for pleasure. I squeeze it in when I can.

*Do you have a favorite author?

I am very into the freedom and truth movement so two people come to mind. Both are people I loosely know. Sheriff Richard Mack and G. Edward Griffin are incredibly insightful, courageous and intelligent. If you care about the state of the world and value freedom and prosperity you should read their works. It is your duty!

*What is your favorite word?

Duty. Only because the comedic side of my brain just doesn’t want to turn off right now.

Okay, one last thing I promise. Can you tell my readers where they can purchase your book?

I thought you would never ask! Well, if you live in either the Wilkes-Barre or Allentown area you can walk into the Barnes and Noble store either in the Wyoming Valley Mall or Whitehall Mall and snag one right off of their shelves. Other than those two locations (at this point in time anyway) you can order it from a store clerk at any Barnes and Noble store across the country and just about any other book store nationwide. But being that it is the 21st Century, you can also order it through amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com or by simply going to my blog at www.asthematzoballturns.com . Links are provided on the blog for the other online sellers as well and the book is also available for download.

Jozef, I wish you nothing but tons of success. You are an awesome, funny writer and I hope we stay in touch.

Thank you very much Maribeth. I hope so too.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for Jozef. Anyone who comments will be entered in a random drawing to receive a free signed copy of his book As the Matzo Ball Turn

Jozef, please let my readers know where they can find you. Your blog, twitter, facebook, any social networks.

My blog is www.asthematzoballturns.com  , you can friend me, Jozef Rothstein on Face book and my email is jozefrothstein@yahoo.com . Thanks for your interest and happy reading!!!!!

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Filed under Author Interview, books, Giveaway, platform building, Uncategorized, writer's life, writers

Books at the Beach

When I was about eleven years old I went to Ocean City New Jersey with my family. We set our spots up and unpacked all of the beach essentials. As I was about to lay on my blanket and get some sun I noticed my aunt was reading. I recall looking around and becoming fascinated by so many people holding books. I wanted to be one of them. I begged my mother to take me to the boardwalk that night so I could select a book of my own. I wanted to read on the beach too.

My first beach read was Tigers Eye by Judy Blume. I, along with my aunt and the other beach readers stretched out a blanket, plopped down and read on the beach. I was part of a club and I couldn’t help but feel special.

Many years later, I am still part of the beach reading club. This past week as I sat with legs stretched along the sand reading my selection (Go Ask Alice), inspiration hit. There were so many people holding traditional books and kindles in front of their noses that I just had to know, what they were reading.

I started off by nonchalantly strolling past them sneaking a peak at the titles. When I couldn’t make out the titles, I had to muster up the courage to ask them what they were reading. No one seemed to think I was crazy which made me happy. Everyone I asked, was happy to tell me what they were reading.

Below is a list of the books I found being read on the beach.

  1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – This book was the most popular book being read on the beach. At least three of the people I approached were reading the suspense novel. One lady advised me that she loved that the story fluctuated point of views, going from husband to wife. Prior to the beach, I was hearing a lot of buzz about this book. I think it might be one of my next reads.
  2. Velocity: Combining Lean, Six Sigma and The Theory of Constraints to Achieve Breakthrough Performance—A Business Novel
  3. Bared To You by Sylvia Day—Erotic Romance. Book reviews say that this book has an emotional feel similar to Fifty Shades of Grey.
  4. Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood Book 12) If you still are yearning for vampires this series of books might be a good beach read for you.
  5. Go Ask Alice-Anonymous–This book is a diary of a young fifteen year old girl who experiences drugs for the first time when giving a soda laced with LSD. She gets caught up in the drug scene and writes about her struggles in daily journal entries.
  6. Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry) by Simone Elkeles– Love, family secrets, gangs, this book has it all.

So, there we have it. Those are the books I spotted being read while vacationing. I know there are a few listed that I have already added to my TBR list. Did you vacation this year? What book did you bring along? Are any of these on your TBR list?

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Filed under books, Fiction, life, novel, random, reading, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Is Writing a State of Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a mental state (according to “state theory”) or imaginative role-enactment (according to “non-state theory”).

After researching hypnosis for my current work in progress (I’m really excited about this one) I have come to my own conclusion about the writing process. I believe that writers enter a hypnotic state when they are creating their written work.
Really think about where your mind goes when you write. Are you at your computer or are you far away in another land? Your body is one place but your mind is wherever it is that you take it. An interruption to a writer is just like a hypnotist snapping his finger in front of the face of the person being hypnotized.
I can only speak for myself when I say that interruptions drive me crazy, especially when I am in “the zone”. It’s not because I don’t want to talk to the person who is calling or tend to the child who needs me, it’s that I know how hard it can be to slip back into that frame of mind.
Writers block may be the inability to drift into that hypnotic state where magical lands exist and memorable characters walk. It might be that the writer with “writers block” is unable to detach their selves from the reality they are living in and enter the world they need to in order to create.
Have you ever caught yourself staring at an object but realized it was not the object that you were thinking about? Anytime our mind takes a stroll, we are in state of hypnosis. Did you ever read through your work and ask yourself “Where did I pull that from?”
Writers write under hypnosis then hypnotize readers with their words. When I count to three you will be out of my world and back into yours, 1…2…3…

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Filed under audience, Author Interview, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, dreaming, editing, emotions, Fiction, Inspirational, life, meme, middle grade fiction, novel, random, routine, stories, story writing, Style, Voice, writer conference, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Writing Contest

Who Will You Thank?

I love when I finish a book for many reasons but today I will only discuss one of the reasons. You would think the first thing I would do after finishing a book would be reflect, but I don’t do that until after I have read the acknowledgements. I guess you could say I’m a bit corny. I won’t allow myself to read the acknowledgements until I have finished the book (I’m not somebody that looks ahead to find out what’s happening either. I like waiting).
Once I know I have completed reading I race to that page where the author does some of his or her own reflecting. I love to see who they have thanked and why. I also gain valuable information such as who the author’s agent is. Reading an acknowledgement allows me to daydream of what my own would look like. Who would I thank? What agent’s name will be listed? What interesting facts about myself would I like to share?
I thought about writing a mock acknowledgement on this blog (I was very tempted) but decided not to in fear that doing so would somehow jinx me (yes, I’m a bit superstitious).
I recently was given a Kindle for my birthday and my first thought was… will there still be an acknowledgement section? I still don’t know because I haven’t jumped ahead to see.
Reading that short paragraph at the end assures me that all authors have someone who helped them along the way, someone who encouraged them, someone who believed in them, someone who wasn’t afraid to critique them and finally someone who helped turn their dream into a reality. They were where so many of us still are. Seeing that they made it allows us to hope one day we will too.
Do you read the acknowledgements? What do you like the most about them? Have you ever thought of who you would thank?

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Filed under audience, books, conference, constructing, creating, dreaming, editing, emotions, Fiction, Giveaway, Inspirational, life, meme, middle grade fiction, NaNoWriMo, novel, query, random, rejections, stories, story writing, Style, superstitions, Voice, WISHES, writer conference, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Writing Contest, Young Adult

I HAVE A THINKING SPOT DO YOU?

As a young girl, my friends and I spent most of our days hidden underneath a Weeping Willow. It was our place. A magical spot obscured from everyone. Under the Willow, we took journeys to different places, shared secrets, stole kisses and expanded our imaginations. Life was never boring as long as we had our tree. As all children do, we eventually grew up and left the Willow but the Willow never left me. When I met my husband I shared my memories with him and would often have him drive me by the tree to reminisce. I knew he was listening but was still surprised when years later I came home to find my very own Weeping Willow in my backyard. It started off small but gradually grew to be as big as the one I sat under as a young girl. Nestled under my tree is a swing where I like to sit and think of journeys, secrets and kisses. My imagination expands when I’m under the tree and I have now declared it my thinking spot. It’s my sacred place where ideas bloom, stories unfold and my journal fills up with future stories that I hope one day others will read.
Every writer whether they are aware of it or not has a thinking spot. A place where they go to plot out a story, create characters and develop scenery. Where is your thinking spot?

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Filed under constructing, creating, dreaming, editing, emotions, Fiction, Inspirational, life, meme, middle grade fiction, novel, query, random, stories, story writing, Style, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Writing Contest, Young Adult