Mercedes Fox ~ Author

My Writing Blog

Tag: Fiction Books (Page 1 of 3)

Meet Author Kathleen Cochran

Hola! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Kathleen Cochran

Kathleen Cochran is a writer and former newspaper reporter and editor who raised three children while traveling the world as a soldier’s better half.  After a career in journalism, she consulted on several local political campaigns and worked for not-for-profits before turning her fulltime attention to writing.  Her books are on Amazon: a women’s fiction, a memoir, a mystery, a novella, and a volume of poetry.  Cochran also is an author on where you can find more than 150 articles on subjects ranging from politics to parenting.

Enjoy this book sample of Kathleen’s work: Take This Man is women’s fiction.  Three women, who were married to the same soldier at different times of his life, meet – at his funeral.  Sparks fly.  Intimacies are shared. And at the end of the day, they have learned more about him and each other than they could have imagined.

My War – a wife’s story is a memoir about the author and her family living in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm.  While teaching English at a women’s language school, her husband trained Saudi soldiers for what would become known as the First Gulf War.  She and her children dodged SCUD missiles and dealt with the threat of chemical warfare before evacuating back to the states in the middle of nighttime attack.

Lord, Lord is a mystery.  A woman dies and goes to Heaven only to find out she was murdered.  She learns who did it by learning about the people in her life who do and do not follow her to Heaven.

If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it?  I use Kathleen because it is my unused middle name.  I use Cochran as an homage to my paternal grandmother.  My parents were divorced.  It wasn’t until my daughter’s marriage ended, and she and my two grandchildren had to live three states away from me, that I realized what an effort my Grandma Cochran had made to stay in my life.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  I wrote my first one in a matter of weeks – and it showed!  My three that are on Amazon each took about three years.  I do the Stephen King three drafts, but the time-consuming thing is re-writes after my proofreaders finish their work. That is the hardest part of self-publishing: deciding the book is finished.  Years later, if I’ve found a spelling or grammatical error, I’ll still upload a new file.  Errors drive me nucking futs! MF: Commas… I hate commas….

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?  I wrote my first book, which will never see the light of day, after my family and I went through Desert Storm while living in Saudi Arabia.  I know.  Most writers don’t get such a vivid jump-start.  When I finished “Who Knew”, my husband told me if I never wrote another word, I could be proud that I’d actually started and finished a whole book.  How many people who say they’d like to write a book, actually do it?  I loved him for that, and 20 years later I used the skeleton of that book for “My War.”  Never delete anything you’ve written!  In fact, “Lord, Lord” includes the beginnings of about a half dozen manuscripts!

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?  My best time to write is at two different times of day:  pre-dawn and the couple of hours before dinner.  If I wake up and get right to work, I get a lot more done.  But if for some reason – like life getting in the way – I don’t sit down to write until late in the day, I find I can be very productive.  I think it’s the newspaper reporter in me.  I’m great when I’m up against a deadline.  “The presses run on time” is a good motivator to get the work done.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I hope I’ve learned from my own mistakes.  I’ve received some very good advice from my close friends who have progressed from proofreaders to editors.  Some of the best advice I received was to read voraciously and watch movies by writers I hope to emulate.  It’s a poor man’s way to learn dialogue and comedic timing.  Of course, finding the failings in another’s work is easier than spotting those failings in your own.  And sometimes it’s downright discouraging.  I read Diana Gabaldon and wonder why I even bother?

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? The news is usually on in the background.  I’m a junkie.

What have you written?  I’ve written poetry, tour guides, newsletters, press releases, brochures, advertising copy, short stories, news articles, features, editorials, annual reports, research papers, articles on various subjects, a memoir, and novels. I think the only form of writing I haven’t done is ransom notes.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? For the book I’m working on right now, I’m using a timeline because it is historical fiction.  I want my story to be in sync with the actual events that happened during the lead-up to World War II.  In every other instance, I start with an idea and see where it takes me.  I’m as surprised as anyone with how the story ends.  Often, it becomes a different story that I started out intending to write.  “Lord, Lord” became an entirely different book as it progressed.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  I’ve designed all my covers except one.  The cover for “My War” was designed by a graphic artist, Debbie Celusniak.  She captured the story in the cover in a way I never could.  For the others, I used CreateSpace cover creator.  It was fun and easy.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? Yes.  I stopped looking for an agent or a publisher and I put my books on Amazon via CreateSpace.  I haven’t made a fortune, but I’ve made a damned sight more than I did when my books were just sitting on my computer.  Still, marketing a book is actually harder than writing one.  Nobody wants to tell a new author that fact.  I’m always looking for that One Thing that will put my work into the hands of more readers.

Any advice for aspiring authors?  Write. Talking about it is fine.  Reading about it is fine.  But at some point, you have to sit down and do it.  As sportswriter Red Smith said, “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”  Nobody ever said it was easy.  But there is a reason Stephen King has written 100 books.  Every day he writes 2000 words.  If he finishes a book after writing 1990 words, he starts a new one. Don’t just want to be a writer.  Be one.  Write.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?  Lord, Lord was written while I was grieving for my mother.  Some members of my family didn’t like it because they saw members of our family in it in an unflattering light (for all my efforts to hide similarities.) But the main reason I write under a penname is so I don’t edit out the heart of the story for fear of offending people I know.  And this story came right from my heart, much more than anything I’d written before.  Grief is a strong emotion.  I hope that strength comes through my words.

Which writers inspire you? Aaron Sorkin and Susannah Grant (Both screenwriters, but great dialog writers to immolate.)

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser?  I’m writing a historical thriller about the unintended consequences of some of the choices America has made throughout our history.  This story involves the romance between Britain’s King Edward and Mrs. Wallis Simpson and the consequences that led to England surviving World War II.

Do you have any formal education in creative writing? I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia.

Do you have any “how to write” type books/instructional you’d like to recommend?  “On Writing” by Stephen King

Where do you come up with your stories? All my work comes from my own life that I subsequently often turn into fiction.  (Writers will get that!) Even my current work in progress is loosely based on the life of my great aunt who travelled the world as a single woman in the 1930s.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? You don’t have to be another Harper Lee or Diana Gabaldon.  Only you have your voice.  Be true to it.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?  For 20 years I searched for an agent or a publisher.  All I got for my efforts was a stack of rejection letters.  Self-publishing has leveled the playing field.  My work is out in the marketplace right along with all the other authors.  My goal is to be read.  Now it is possible.

Tell us something unique about you.  During my husband’s Army career, I traveled to five continents, living in two of them – Germany and Saudi Arabia.

Is there anything else you would like to add?  No, but I always asked this last question too when I’d interview someone for my newspaper.  Great minds . . . !

How can readers discover more about you and you work? Visit to read excerpts from my books and articles.

There ya have it folks! Thanks much Kathleen for sharing! For more about Kathleen, her work, and to get your copy, follow the links below:

Website / Goodreads / Amazon

Meet Author Pete Planisek

Hello, lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Pete Planisek

Pete Planisek lives in Columbus, OH, where he teaches English, runs Enceladus Literary LLC, and is co-host of an entertainment podcast called Hindsight is 20-20. He received his Masters from Ohio University where he founded a student literary arts magazine called Recently Eclipsed. He has published newspaper articles and is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association.  He served for seven years as adviser/co-adviser to a NCTE award winning student literary arts publication.  Frankenstein A Life Beyond was his debut novel.

He has two published works in his Resurrection Trinity series titled Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) and Frankenstein Soul’s Echo (Book 2 of 3) and won a 2016 Silver Honoree IBPA Benjamin Franklin Digital Book Award for his children’s fantasy book titled Princess Bella and the Dragon’s Charm.

Enjoy this book sample: Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity

Genres: Fiction, Literary fiction, Horror, Historical fiction, Romance fiction, Sci-Fi fiction

Blurb:  Ten years after the loss of his entire family to madness and death, Ernest Frankenstein finds himself compelled to return to the city of his birth, Geneva, in order to discover if his elder brother, Victor, might still be alive. Only Victor can provide the answers to questions, which have long plagued Ernest. The quest for answers will force Ernest to confront demons, both internal and external, from his past, which refuse to be at peace and which ultimately will endanger both he and his new family. Hunted across Europe their only hope may lie with a French spy, Ernest’s childhood friend, and a mysterious gypsy girl whose people believe that Ernest will lead humanity to its salvation or final destruction.

Frankenstein A Life Beyond by Pete Planisek is a direct sequel to Mary Shelley’s iconic story, Frankenstein, which examined Victor Frankenstein’s quest to both create and kill an unnamed creature that ultimately destroys all but one member of the Frankenstein family, Victor’s brother, Ernest. Frankenstein A Life Beyond explores many of the issues left open by the original, while establishing new characters and mysteries.

Excerpt:  “Your neighbor’s death was an accident, nothing more.”

So this monster had followed him back to Geneva. What all had he witnessed there?

“If his death is so trivial, then explain how he died.”

There was only the briefest of pauses.

“Fear,” was the solitary answer.

Ernest’s breath was now escaping in short bursts, and a cold sweat clung to his skin.

“Of what?”

“Of what you are seeing, right now.”

He felt it, before he saw it. A hand had reached through the curtain to clasp Ernest’s wrist. No, it was not such a commonplace sight which beset his eyes; it was anything but.

At least twice the size of a normal man’s hand, it encompassed not only Ernest’s wrist, but a portion of his arm as well. It was shriveled and mummified, the skin of a nearly translucent nature, which made visible the networks of veins and muscles throughout. The cruel nature inherent of the claw-like fingers, capped by blackened nails, was re-enforced by the strength of the grip. It felt as if Death itself clutched Ernest. Were it not for the visible movement of blood and the controlled beat of the pulse, he would have claimed that he was restrained by a corpse.

“What you seek awaits you in Ingolstadt,” the voice wheezed, “Find the clues, Uncle, so our destinies can be fulfilled.”

The pressure from the fingers increased. Ernest wanted to scream, but found himself too frightened to utter a sound.

Why do you write? It’s an essential part of who I am.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? Honestly, it just depends on the book. Some of my writing projects have lasted years but I’ve also written a full draft of a children’s book in a single day.  A variety of factors can impact the creation time for a book but as long as you invest yourself in the process and keep writing your project will get done.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I know when I first started writing when I was young a lot of the stories where very comedic and over the top.  I’ve always had a pretty unique sense of humor and I think writing initially gave me a means to express and explore it. As I’ve matured as a person and an author, I find inspiration from a much more diverse set of experiences, resources, artistic mediums, and a desire to explore the possibilities of being an author. I never know where inspiration will come from but I know now it’s important to embrace it when it does because you never know where it will lead you as an artist. I’ve also learned to trust myself more than I once did by trying to judge less and listen more, be it to people or my own instincts as an author.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? I almost always write to music. I actually have entire scenes in my stories that were created around specific songs.  Sometimes I just use music to help get me in the mood to write.

What have you written? I have published two fiction novels, one award winning children’s chapter book, and a host of short stories and poems. I’ve also written for blogs and a newspaper.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I’m much more apt to just see where an idea takes me when writing a short story or poem than I am if I’m working on a novel. Outlining is great but you also have to let a story develop as you write. Outlines can help guide and create structure but shouldn’t be viewed as an absolute. Play!

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? I’ve designed the basic concept and layout for each of my books but the final covers have been a collaboration with a photographer, Scott Coons, and an illustrator, Elizabeth Nordquest.

Any advice for aspiring authors? Your worst story is the one you don’t write. We grow by practicing and expanding our skills as writers. If you’re not writing, you tend to stagnate.  Not everything you write will be brilliant or will be something you want to publish but everything you write can help you to mature as an artist.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Ernest Frankenstein and the creature have some interesting parallels. They are both survivors struggling for answers about the past and seeking a way forward in their lives, both are connected and weighted down by their relationship to Victor, and they are bound in unique ways as “family.”

What is the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Writing Book 3 of my Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity series is a bit daunting because of all the plotlines I need to resolve and because I know I’ll be saying goodbye to characters who have been with me for years.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why? Abrielle is probably my favorite character to write because she is so complex.  Her background and life leading up to the events in the books has been so dark, difficult, at once sympathetic and unnerving, and wholly interesting that it’s a lot of fun to figure out how she’ll respond to certain characters, conflicts, and situations throughout the Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity novel series. She tends to surprise both me as a writer and the reader.

What is your next project? I have two short stories I’d like to finish before returning to completing Book 3 of my Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity series. I also am working on getting my first children’s picture book underway.

Do you have any fur babies to brag about? I have two “fur babies.” My dog, August (Auggie) is a rescue schnauzer and I have a stray cat, Asoka. They’ve both got personality to spare and when they’re getting along (both want plenty of lap time) I call them The A-Team.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? The Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity series books are actually allowing me to kind of explore what I would have done if I’d penned aspects of Mary Shelley’s classic. If I had to pick another book, it would probably be either Self- Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson (nonfiction) or The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (fiction) because both inherently ask the reader to go deeper into themselves and the texts.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? Perseverance. You’ll get writers block, get negative responses/feedback, have failed marketing strategies, and face general setbacks but if you believe in your work, foster a support network, are realistic with yourself, practice patience, and adopt the right attitude then no obstacle is insurmountable.

Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes? I’ve only written a few but no I don’t feel self-conscious.  My scenes are typically major turning points for character development so there’s more than just sex going on in them. I find them fun to write.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? I think both can be viable routes for writers to get their works out to a larger audience. It really comes down to the goals of both the writer and publisher. As long as an author does their homework and makes an informed decision, and is willing to put effort into the publication and marketing process, they can be successful with either publishing model.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? I think there can be. People sometimes associate self-published with poor quality, and while this can be the case for some books (traditional or self-published), more often than not, self-published books are just as well-crafted and creative as traditionally published works.

What book are you currently reading or just finished? Montana 1948 by Larry Watson and A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Is there a book you love you’d like to recommend to others? The Moor by Laurie R King and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Tell us something unique about you. I love to hike, travel, cook, garden, photography, one day I’d love to try and climb a mountain, and am great at doing different character voices spontaneously.

There ya have it folks! For more about Pete, his work, and to get your own copy, follow the links below:

Youtube / Publisher / Facebook / Twitter / Blog / Amazon / Goodreads / Barnes&Noble / iBOokStore / Smashwords / Kobo

Meet Author K.C. Sivils

Hello, my lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author K.C. Sivils

Author of over twenty non-fiction books, including an Amazon Best Seller, Sivils has now ventured into the realm of fiction with his Inspector Thomas Sullivan series. Science fiction and classic crime novels have long been favorites of author K.C. Sivils. The combination of film noir and science fiction in director Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep into the masterful Harrison Ford vehicle Bladerunner encouraged him to consume as much of both genre’s as possible.

A fan of past noir masters such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, Sivils also enjoys the current generation of storytellers like Renee Pawlish, Matt Abraham and Jeff Edwards.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? Once I am “ready” to start writing I discipline myself to write once a day. I try to write at least 2,000 words a day. I keep a daily total of my word counts as a motivational tool. It helps to see the total number of words adding up each day. My goal for the rough draft is 70,000 words. Some days the story tells itself and I write far more than my goal of 2,000 words. Other days I have to really work to hit 2,000 words. I take one day off each week. The end result is the rough draft is done in 35-40 days.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  A mixture of both. I know how I want the story to start and I have a firm idea of how I want it to end. I have found once I start the story it takes on a life of its own and tells itself, regardless of the story arc I had planned in advance, and eventually winds up at the end I had envisioned, though the story’s path may alter the end.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  Robin Ludwig designs my book covers and she does a fabulous job. My novels are written in the classic hardboiled, crime noir style but are set 500 years in the future and contain elements of science fiction as well. She manages to combine the two styles so the cover conveys the dark, tense mood of crime noir with a hint of futuristic science fiction.

What’s more, Robin is super easy to deal with. She listens to what you want and comes up with a better idea than what you have initially as an author. One of the covers she designed for me won an award in a cover design contest I submitted the novel to.

Her website is:

Any advice for aspiring authors?  If you don’t tell your story, nobody will ever read it, and that’s a shame. Don’t define success by selling millions of copies of your book. Define it by the number of people who enjoy your story. If 100 people read it and 92 of them really enjoy the story, it’s a success.

Of course, we all want to have as many readers as possible, but sometimes luck has a bit to do with that. Control what you can control, write the best story you can, get a great cover, do the marketing stuff and put your story out there.

Always try to learn something new each week about being a “successful” author.

What is the hardest thing about writing?  Making myself sit down and start writing the story. Once the first 10,000 words are done the story wants to tell itself and I’m pretty eager to sit down and write that day.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?  I’m currently working on the third novel in my Inspector Sullivan series. The working title is Murder on Persephone but that will probably change. The story takes place in a prison located on a moon of the frozen planet Beta Prime.

Having never been in jail or prison, I have had to not only do a lot of research, but spend time thinking about the mental dynamic of being a convict serving time in prison. It is easy for me to grasp the emotions of an innocent convict or a first time convict and the fear and anxiety they would feel upon being incarcerated.

What I have a hard time grasping is the worldview of a hardened con who is violent, possibly a member of a prison gang and is one of the dominant members of the prison social system. The rules of society in prison are nothing like regular society. I have to spend a lot more time learning about prison society and thinking about how I plan to incorporate it in my story.

What is your favorite movie or TV show?  I have several. I love Firefly and still resent the fact it was canceled after one season. I also enjoyed TSCC: Terminator, the television show. I love classic noir movies like The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep and Casablanca. My favorite science fiction films include Bladerunner, The Forbidden Planet and the Terminator franchise. Anything with John Wayne and I like Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry franchise as well.

Which writers inspire you?  Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, J.R.R. Tolkien and Renee Pawlish.

What is the current book you are promoting? The Predator and The Prey. It’s the first book in my Inspector Sullivan series. It’s a cross genre story mixing crime noir fiction with science fiction. The second book in the series is coming out in mid-May, 2017, and is titled The Last Train To Nowhere.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?  It really depends on my mood. Sully, my protagonist is not always my favorite. He’s had a hard life and sometimes is not a particularly pleasant individual. Father Nathan is every bit as tough as Sully, but has experienced forgiveness and redemption for his past sins and it’s changed him for the better.

The mysterious Sarah is fun because she’s, well, mysterious. What male doesn’t find a mysterious woman interesting?

Who is your least favorite character and why?  Captain Markeson. He represents all the people who get ahead in life through scheming, unethical behavior and deliberately profiting off the misery and misfortune of others. What’s more, Markeson believes he’s better than others. I equate him with being as low as an elected politician. In fact, he associates with politicians in my novels.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast?  Inspector Thomas Sullivan: Scott Eastwood (if he can pull off his father’s Dirty Harry archetype)

Father Nathan: Tom Selleck

Sarah: Summer Glau

Detective Josephson: Josh Hutcherson

Captain Markeson: Ryan Gosling (he seems like he can be a smarmy scumbag without too much trouble and he has this expression that makes me just want to slap it off his face.)

Edwin Long aka The Cowboy: Dennis Cockrum

Joe: Jesse L. Martin

Ralph: Alan Tudyk

Alice: Gina Torres

Chief O’Brian: Gene Hackman

What is your next project?  After I finish Murder on Persephone, I plan to backtrack and write a prequel about my protagonist, Thomas Sullivan, and give the backstory on how he came to the somewhat dark place he finds himself in upon arrival on Beta Prime.

Depending on how that goes, I am strongly considering writing a pair of novellas to provide the backstory for the two must important supporting characters, Father Nathan and Sarah.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?  Stick with it, if you don’t, your stories will never come to life and never be read by anyone. Nobody but you can bring your characters to life and give them meaning.

What do your readers mean to you?  Readers are important to an author. They are the individuals who read your stories. Without them, your stories simply don’t exist except on a printed page or on a server somewhere. Readers bring stories to life by virtue of reading them and imagining the story in their mind’s eye.

There ya have it folks! For more about K.C. , his work, and to get your copy, follow the links below:

Website / Newsletter / Facebook / Goodreads / Amazon

Meet Author David Carraturo

Halo lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with author David Carraturo.

David is a life-long resident of Tuckahoe, a predominately Italian-Irish American community in Westchester County, New York. He has spent over thirty years working on Wall Street and is married and the father of three daughters. An avid poker player and organized crime/World War Two buff, he spends his free time with his family and exercising the mind and body to sustain happiness and success.

Enjoy this sample: Cameron’s Quest is the third installment of the Columbus Avenue Boys trilogy. The story recently received Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Book Festival for general fiction. Tuckahoe’s “Golden Boy” Chris Cameron had his future all mapped out. He was the big fish in the small pond as a star athlete and academic standout. Off to the University of Texas to play football, he was on track to make his Italian-American mother and Irish father proud. His two blood brothers chose different paths. Soon after high school, Sal Esposito and Tony Albanese were swept into the life of organized crime. Imposing figures, the pair assisted with strong armed activities for their capo. Away from the “life,” Chris Cameron periodically returned to his neighborhood roots to assist his blood brothers in retribution and risk his promising future to avenge violent threats to his lifelong bond. Cameron’s Quest is full of suspense and character twists. Set in the 1980s, get ready to reminisce about the Mets championship season, Reagonomics, John Gotti’s underworld reign and the pop culture of the time. Relive a time when an Italian-American family’s Sunday dinner table was the only setting needed for therapy sessions, interrogations, judgment and jury for any punishment.

When did you decide to become a writer? I had always loved to write, I enjoyed keeping a journal and taking creative writing classes in high school, but also extrapolating about realistic outcomes like my senior year football season in high school where I wrote fictional news articles about the upcoming season. In my 20s and 30s I secretly always wanted to write a book, and envisioned a story about a group of old men reminiscing about the past and playing cards but I never got beyond a sentence or two of the idea. What really triggered me was the aftermath of the 2008 election. I was frustrated with the political environment and created my ideal republican presidential of the future. While coming up with this fictional political superman, his name popped into my head…Chris Cameron. Leveraging my passions for poker, organized crime, World War Two and economics as well as over forty years of life experiences I began to write. After I began to develop Chris Cameron’s two best friends, Sal Esposito and Tony Albanese, I knew there was much more than one story in my head. Now, three stories have been written and I think there are one or two more as well.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? When I am in the writing zone, I never write more than a chapter a week, and in the process I always re-read all that I have written and edit/correct/re do the story along the way. Overall, if I do not get writers block along the way, 30-40 chapters should take me nine months to finish the manuscript. The publishing process usually takes three to six additional months.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I have surprised myself with every page I have written. People who have known me forever may be surprised I could read, let alone write and I am not educated in proper grammar and writing prose. I have broken many eggs to make this trilogy omelet but am proud of my development as a writer. My first story, Cameron Nation, was my “conservative manifesto” and while it was fiction, I actually footnoted many sections because the political and economic explanations had to be factual. For Columbus Avenue Boys, the story flowed so easily and was written at a time of tremendous personal turmoil in my life. I am proud of the balance and tempo of the backstory as there were many flashback scenes that correlated with the present time story, yet the prose had much to be improved on. Columbus Avenue Boys was also optioned for screenplay adaption by a Hollywood producer (it fizzled), won Honorable Mention at the Hollywood Book Festival and received highly recommended reviews from Kirkus, Midwest Book Review, Writers Digest and many respected bloggers. Cameron’s Quest I believe is my best work from the story angle to the quality of writing. All three stories are unique and while they are a trilogy can be read in any order. Cameron’s Quest was probably my best written and most complete work while Columbus Avenue Boys was flat out – a perfect story! The base of all my work is a family saga and a whole lot more!

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I have a general outline when I begin to write, and keep detailed spreadsheets and notes to retain the timeline and character developments. However, I usually do not know when the next chapter will be until I write the last sentence of the prior chapter. I usually know the direction I want to go, but I never get too far ahead of myself. It is hard to describe, but when I am in the writing zone, the sequence of events flows naturally.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? I design all my book covers. For Cameron Nation, I commissioned an artist to create the cover and he did an amazing job of bringing my vision to life with the American Eagle playing poker against the democratic donkey and the republican elephant. Columbus Avenue Boys was an easy cover for me. As it was a flashback story about life on Columbus Avenue, I had a great 1950s black and white of the street and all I had to do was take a picture of the same location fifty years later to contrast the original. With Cameron’s Quest, I borrowed an idea from my writing partners (for the screenplay version of Columbus Avenue Boys). They had released a short film named King’s Heart and when I saw their DVD cover, I knew Quest had to have a similar look and feel to it.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? This is a wait and see answer. My prior two books were written in 2010-2011 and I had very little social media savvy back then. Beginning last December, I began marketing more via Twitter and have gone from 100 followers to 1,000 in three months. I have also requested more book reviews and have done more interviews. I should know if this marketing strategy is succeeding in the coming months. What has been encouraging is that feedback I have received from people who have purchased is that because the three stories are inter-related, I have had many two/three book purchases as the entire trilogy has been the way to go if you want to absorb the entire arc of the Columbus Avenue Boys.

Any advice for aspiring authors? Every person has at least one great story in them. If I can write three, then anyone can write. Use your life experiences and remember amusing comments or life events that can be incorporated to bring authenticity. Write from what you are passionate about. I love poker, the New York Mets, World War Two and organized crime. Guess what? These passions are interwoven in all my work.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Chris Cameron is the superman version of me and all I have ever wanted to do in life. No, I was not a starting safety for a major college program, earned war medals, or became a billionaire hedge fund manager…but in my mind, I have. Chris Cameron was the town “Golden Boy” who risked everything to remain loyal to his family, friends and roots. Family bond and loyalty trumps all and that was the message I wanted to convey and how I live my life.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Writing from a woman’s point of view was very difficult. Also, if I am not passionate about what I am writing on, then it will feel canned or shallow. My best writing is taken from what I know best and feedback has been that my stories are very realistic.

What is your favorite movie or TV show? My writing inspiration has the feel of great organized crime movies that I can never get tired of watching. Godfather, A Bronx Tale and Goodfellas to name the top three. Forrest Gump was another movie which influenced me as I loved the way the story wrapped itself around real historical events.

Which writers inspire you? The detail of Tom Clancy and the historical fiction of John Jakes were my biggest influence.

What is the current book you are promoting? Cameron’s Quest is the third part of the Columbus Avenue Boys trilogy and fills in the gaps as to how the three blood brothers; Chris Cameron, Sal Esposito and Tony Albanese came to be.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why? Honestly, if I had not begun to expound on my two supporting characters, Sal Esposito and Tony Albanese in the second and third parts of Cameron Nation I would not have even though of writing another book. I flat out love to write about these two bruisers and the counter life/balance to my antagonist, Chris Cameron.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? Ryan Reynold could be Chris Cameron.

What is your next project? I am an exercise fanatic, and label myself a 52 year old “Diesel Dad” so I want to write an over forty/fifty themed exercise book.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Jack Ryan of Tom Clancy’s books was a big inspiration.

Do you have any fur babies to brag about? My first book was called Cameron Nation and six months after the book was released we got the love of my life, my cockapoo with human-like hazel eyes. I had the honor of naming her and “Cammie” was an easy name to choose for her. Six years later, I do not know where I’d be without her.

Do you or have you sat down and read your book fresh off the presses as if it wasn’t yours? And if you did, what was it like? The best example of this has been over the past two months. I had not re-read Columbus Avenue Boys since 2013 and Cameron Nation since 2012. I have re-read both of these stories this year and loved them – darn, that Carraturo can write!

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? Ideally, everyone wants Simon & Schuster to snatch you up. The reality is that for unknowns, it is very hard to accomplish this task without bonafides. Would they promise the world and then if not selling, put you to the back of the discount heap? I have seen with self-publishing that even though my financial outlay is real (my expensive hobby!) I do control my own destiny, creative direction and timing of release. Who knows, if I win a book festival, then a traditional publisher may come knocking.

What do your readers mean to you? The greatest thrill is getting a good review or hosting a successful book signing. I respect and love all my readers. I aim to please and if they took the time to spend money and read my passion I am honored.

Tell us something unique about you. I am a 52 year old exercise freak of nature. I have actually gotten stronger as I have aged. It all restarted in 2012 as I began to participate in the Wall Street Decathlon (half track and field event and half NFL Combine) to raise money for pediatric cancer research at Sloan Kettering. Now in my sixth year, I have raised close to $30k and in the process have transformed my body from middle-aged dad to jacked up “Diesel Dad. While I am one of the oldest competitors, I am a top competitor in three of the ten events, bench press, dips and pull-ups.

There ya have it folks! For more about David and his work, follow the links below:

Facebook / Twitter / Linkedin / Goodreads / Amazon / Instagram / Youtube

Meet Author Michael Raleigh

Howdy my lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with author Michael Raleigh

Michael Raleigh is the author of nine novels, most recently PEERLESS DETECTIVE. He teaches first year writing at DePaul University and lives in Chicago.

Enjoy this sample of Michael’s work: PEERLESS DETECTIVE is the story of Billy Fox, a drifter who comes to Chicago looking for his childhood sweetheart. He encounters Harry Strummer, an eccentric but streetwise private detective who takes Billy under his wing and teaches him about life and the detective business. A hybrid of a novel, part coming-of-age tale, part private eye novel.

Why do you write?  I have stories and characters that occur to me that I need to share with readers. I really think of myself as a storyteller.

When did you decide to become a writer? I was always a reader, and becoming a story teller seems to have been a short leap.

What genre are your books? I write both mysteries and mainstream fiction. PEERLESS DETECTIVE is an attempt to combine those.

What draws you to this genre? I enjoy mysteries because of the opportunity to focus on a character who is just slightly out of step with the 9 to 5 world and who feels a need to do something to solve people’s problems.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  Anywhere from a year and a half to three years.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Part-time since I’m still working.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?  On my writing days, if I don’t have a class to teach or a pile of essays to grade, I sit down in the morning with a cup of coffee, put music on – frequently jazz if I’m writing a story with an urban setting – and write for anywhere from an hour to four hours.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  I understand now that the stories I’m most interested in are character-driven. I also understand how to avoid early writing troubles such as writer’s block.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? I listen to music of all kinds but frequently jazz.

What have you written?  Nine published novels and a couple that are under consideration.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  I start writing. I don’t outline anything until late in a book, just to give myself a list of scenes that I think I still need to include.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  Ordinarily the publisher does this. Once in a while they will ask for input.

How do you market your books? I’m accustomed to the publisher doing this, for better or worse, and I’m not very astute at it myself.

Do you find promoting your books challenging or enjoyable?  I hate promoting my books, except for those occasions when I’m invited to speak somewhere. That, I really enjoy.

Any advice for aspiring authors?  Patience, and the knowledge that every published writer had to improve in order to get published.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?  Harry Strummer is the second lead character in PEERLESS DETECTIVE. He is extremely observant, has a wide knowledge of people and the streets, he is kind-hearted, close to fearless, and I think he can be very funny.

Where do your ideas come from?  Sometimes I’ll see something on the street or read something in the news that will suggest a story – usually a person in trouble. All my books start out with a person in trouble.

What is the hardest thing about writing?  The length of time it takes to write a book.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Combining elements of a mystery with a coming-of-age story

Which writers inspire you?  Raymond Chandler, Gore Vidal, James T. Farrell, Alice McDermott, Michael Chabon, Richard Russo, Ann Patchett.

What is the current book you are promoting?  PEERLESS DETECTIVE

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser?  I’m in the middle of a prequel to PEERLESS DETECTIVE, set in 1967, with a working title DEATH IN THE SUMMER OF LOVE.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?  The aforementioned Harry Strummer, a streetwise and resourceful private detective.

Who is your least favorite character and why?  I find them all interesting, even the nasty ones.

Do you have any formal education in creative writing? If not are you planning to go to school? Some classes in college and after.

Do you have any “how to write” type books/instructional you’d like to recommend? John Gardner, ON BECOMING A NOVELIST.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast?  Someone not particularly tall, with a lived-in face.

What is your next project?  A Noir novel set in the 1940s called POE STREET.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?  I am drawn to wise older characters – Merlin in THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING and George Smiley in John Le Carre’s books.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be? A little more tolerance on every level.Michael Raleigh September, 2016

Who is your favorite author and which of their books is your favorite?  My all-time favorite writer is James T. Farrell, whose great novel STUDS LONIGAN made me want to be a writer.

What is one thing you hate about being a writer?  I really can’t find anything to hate about being a writer – although there are frustrations, such as when a book doesn’t reach many readers.

Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes? Only later when I remember some of the people who will be reading them. Oh, dear.

What are some of your favorite books and why?  The Once and Future King, by T. H. White because of its wonderful, loopy treatment of the Arthurian cycle. Thomas Flanagan’s three great historical novels about Ireland – The Year of the French, The Tenants of Time, the End of the Hunt.  Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister, classic Noir, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, the best of all historical mysteries, I think.

What do your fans mean to you?  I am always touched when someone writes me and says something I’ve written has meant a lot to them.

Is there a book you love you’d like to recommend to others? Any of the books I’ve mentioned above, plus the entire series of books by the late Tony Hillerman. Any historical novel by Gore Vidal.

Many thanks! For more about Michael and his work, follow the links below:

Website / Facebook / LinkedIn / Goodreads / Amazon

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