Archive | August 2013

Author Interview Janna Yeshanova*

Historical romance by Janna Yeshanova

Historical romance by Janna Yeshanova

Today we have historical fiction author Janna Yeshanova here to talk about her latest book, “Love is Never Past Tense.”

PoB:  Love is Never Past  appears to be a historical romance.  Can you set the scene for us historically?  When does it happen and where?  What is happening back then in that part of the world?

JY: At the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union collapsed and the nations that resulted suffered waves of ethnic violence and black market crime. Many people in positions of comparative privilege found their lives and livelihoods in ruins. Love Is Never Past Tense…  starts several years before and follows my lead characters through personal challenges and then the turmoil caused by world-shaping events.

PoB:  What genre do you feel best describes this book and why?

JY: Historical Romance is accurate but a bit misleading. I focus on the lives of my characters. The history shows up in some of the choices they make, where big events reshape otherwise ordinary lives. I draw on my own life enough that the book might best be classified as an epic historical romance based on a true story.

PoB:  What formats do you offer this book in and why?

JY: I offer it in hardcover, paperback, and most electronic formats, including Kindle, Nook, iBook and PDF. I want to offer it any way the reader wants to get it but have not done audio versions yet. If hard copies are ordered from www.loveisneverpasttense.com I am happy to sign them.

PoB:  What do you feel makes this book different from other books?

JY: As I said earlier, the book is based on a true story. The characters are real people. Some of the people participating in the plot told me that they are emotionally and vividly reliving the events in which they participated.

PoB:  What is it about you as a person that makes your book compelling to read?

JY: I am a person who lived through the events described in the book. I am a survivor. If I fall, I get back on my feet and face another day, hoping for the best, creating another situation that can lead to the place I want to be. I focus on my goals and try not to pay much attention to obstacles. With my Russian background, I see the glass half full (with Vodka). 🙂  

*Opinions expressed in author interviews belong exclusively to the authors featured and do not represent the viewpoints of the Peers of Beinan series, author Laurel A. Rockefeller, or any other related entity.  Presented interviews do not constitute endorsement of any product, service, or point of view.  Readers are encouraged to form their own opinions concerning presented content herein.

Great article on dual verses duel

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/dual-vs-duel/

Schlager swords were popular in Renaissance German duels.

Schlager swords were popular in Renaissance German duels.

Commonly confused words is always a challenge for a writer.  So I am pleased to re-post the above link that clarifies the difference between dual (two) and duel (a personal battle between generally two or a few combatants).

What is really interesting to me as a writer is that duel is from a variation of “bellum” meaning “war” — as in the Anti-bellum era of American History; that is, the 19th century decades leading up to the American Civil War.

So as your dual nobles duel to the death with rapiers, remember to associate “duel” with war and you will be just fine.

Author Interview: Ritch Gaiti*

The Big EmptyGood morning! Today we have author Ritch Gaiti with us to talk about his writing and his new book, “The Big Empty.”

PoB:   What if any social issues do you explore in “The Big Empty?”

 

Set in downtown New York City and the Bronx, the book starts as a simple mystery and slowly evolves into a major conspiracy around historical events. The ultimate message in the book has been the American’s injustices towards the American Indian but that is not evident until later in the book. The story takes place in locales far away from what we normally associate with the American Indian. Yet, New York, once the center of our government and commerce, is where it all began. Woven into the fabric of the plot, are nuggets of American history and Indian culture to provide some of the historical basis of past events and tragedies.

PoB: What formats are you offering your book in and why?

Ebooks of all kinds and paperback through Amazon. Most people are reading ebooks these days but occasionally, the feel of the paper texture adds a pleasant sense to the act of reading. And maybe someone would want to put The Big Empty on the bookshelf just to impress his or her friends. 

 

PoB:  How have your experiences living and working in New York City shaped this book?

The core of the book takes place downtown Manhattan, Wall Street, to be precise. I spent most of my prior career there and I loved the area.  I have always been fascinated by the architecture, the mix of new and historical buildings, and the seemingly incestuous streets that wind into themselves. I described the environment as I saw it and felt it and made many trips back to Wall Street as I wrote The Big Empty. I brought this sensitivity along with a sense of history into the book – keeping in mind that the ‘wall’ of Wall Street was once the boundary of civilization in America.

PoB:  I lived in Brooklyn for several years.  What will New Yorkers and former New York city residents like me find familiar in this book?

 

I was brought up in Brooklyn. In fact, my last book, Dutching the Book, was about gamblers in 1960’s Brooklyn. The Big Empty however, takes place in Wall Street and the Bronx. The lead character, Rick Wallace, who has been away from New York for too long experiences it once again. I tried to deliver the sensibilities and sensations of someone who is not accustomed to the city the way the city folks are – from the loud cacophony of the subway, to the tall overpowering buildings, to the beauty of Wall Street, to the dirty water street franks, to the mixed architecture and diversity of the Bronx. A real sense of the city from all strata is delivered. I also introduced New York/American history into the story line – I find it fascinating and sometimes we all take it for granted.

 

PoB:  In what ways do you see your background working on Wall Street reflected in the plot and characters of “The Big Empty?”

 

Some of the characters are based on composites of people I have met along the way.  But my role on Wall Street was technology development – diametrically opposed to the lead character’s background.  In fact, the lead character was a far away from Wall Street as you can imagine. Yet, he was deeply affected by some significant business events. Other than conveying my impressions of the physical environment and a sense of business, my background did not reflect in the story. What did reflect, however, was the research and homework I had done on American history, Native American culture and my passion to bring out past injustices

 

 

*Disclaimer:  Opinions expressed in author interviews belong exclusively to the authors featured and do not represent the viewpoints of the Peers of Beinan series, author Laurel A. Rockefeller, or any other related entity.  Presented interviews do not constitute endorsement of any product, service, or point of view.  Readers are encouraged to form their own opinions concerning presented content herein.

Don’t Buy It: Five reasons why “buying” social media subscribers is a bad idea

The advertisements are everywhere:  for a fee (generally at least $20) you can dramatically increase the number of followers to your twitter feed, likes to your facebook page, and hits to your youtube video.

 

Marketing experts advise against this as a rule.  But it is hard to listen to that advice when the same experts are telling you that the NUMBER of twitter followers, facebook likes, and youtube hits are CRITICAL to getting sales.

 

 

 

In June of this year, I fell for the hype, believing the marketer‘s grand promises.  Here is what I learned the hard way:

 

1.  Purchased followers are fleeting

 

Buy followers and you probably will get the promised number of followers — for a day or two.  But less two weeks after I bought followers, those followers largely disappeared.  Today, nearly three months after falling for the scam, only about 30% of those followers are still with me.

 

2. Money-back “guarantees” are no guarantee.

 

Each time my followers fell, I emailed the company who only too eagerly took my money.  They addressed this ONCE — at the two week point — but never again.  In fact, the website I purchased the followers from NO LONGER EXISTS.

 

This should scream SCAM to you.

 

3.  Unless you are already a celebrity, purchased likes/followers are obvious

 

With few exceptions sudden surge in followers or likes are generally a clear and obvious bet that someone bought them.   Huge discrepancies between the number of people who follow you and the number you follow yourself also signal “purchased” to people.

This actually destroys credibility and causes legitimate and earned followers to unfollow and unlike you.

4.  Unfollow/unfriend software

With so many people falling for the purchased likes and followers, individuals and businesses now offer software designed to sort the real from virtual.  With these programs, anyone who does not follow back is unfollowed.  Since it literally takes hours or days to go through the auto-generated followers/likes, these programs very effectively undo whatever the marketer did for you.

5. There is no magic or quick way to gain legitimate social media numbers.

Social media takes careful and personal effort.  You cannot just throw money at it and expect real and lasting results.

 

As always, if it sounds too good to be true — it is.

 

Don’t fall for the scam.  There is no replacement for hard work.

 

Beneath the Nara Tree: Global Warming, Food Forests, and the Beinarian Nara tree

Forest lake in summer

Forest lake in summer (Photo credit: Axel-D)

Food forests are the latest urban trend designed to combat global warming while offering free, fresh food to the food insecure.  The concept is simple:  provide an urban oasis of fruit and nut trees, fruit-bearing bushes, herbs, and other edibles which are free to harvest and eat to any and all visitors.  In 2013, Seattle became the first municipality to offer its residents food forest, starting a new trend which promises to provide quality food to those who need it most, combating obesity among the poor in the process.

Planting food forests also make sense when it comes to global warming and the extreme weather that comes with it.  Trees reduce CO2 emissions, offer habit to birds and other animals, and restore oxygen to our atmosphere.

Caring for the environment as much as I do, it only made sense then to include trees into my world building for the Peers of Beinan series and to make trees the ultimate solution to brown eye syndrome.  In brown eye syndrome (so named because the iris of suffers turns brown), two of the five photo receptors in Beinarian eyes are destroyed by exposure to high concentrations of argene. Argene (thorium 232) is highly radioactive.  But one tree on Beinan, the nara tree, reduces argene toxicity — when planted in large enough numbers.

This emulates the impact of trees on our own planet.  A single tree by itself will not stop global warming.  But dozens, hundreds, and thousands of trees altogether will.   Replanting our forests and filling up abandoned urban spaces with food forests is critical to any effort to counter-act the effects of global warming.

On Beinan, nara trees offer not just the ability to neutralize argene toxicity.  Nara trees are prolific fruiting trees that are at the core of Beinarian food forests, an aspect I added to them after researching food forests across the United States.  Wood from nara trees is especially light and strong, making it perfect for building heritage sailing vessels like the “Nenel” in Ghosts of the Past.  Its flexibility makes it ideal for heritage bows.  Beinarians plant it in large numbers because in every way, nara trees benefit their society.

We can make our world better through trees too.  Across public parks, botanical gardens, and yes, our own yards, we can plant fruit and nut bearing trees to nourish our bodies, clean the air, and make our world a nicer place to live.

As the commercial says, “a world without trees is not a world for me.”

Do your part.  Support community gardens and food forests in your area. And of course, support the Arbor Day Foundation in replanting trees destroyed by fire, flood, and logging.

The Great Succession Crisis one year later

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012.  Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012. Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Great Succession Crisis paperbackThis week I celebrate a big milestone as an author:  the first anniversary of the launch of my first book.

The week of my initial publication on SmashWords, I wrote a commemorative article for Yahoo Voices.  Here is what I wrote:  http://voices.yahoo.com/first-person-today-published-first-novel-11639434.html?cat=38

What I could not anticipate at the time is the way that “The Great Succession Crisis” would become my personal Montecello.  After the first reviews in 2012 showed me the almost inevitable flaws that come from self-publishing one’s first book, I found myself in a process of editing, revising, and yes, re-writing.  In January, 2013 I re-wrote about 25% of “The Great Succession Crisis,” creating the current “revised editions.”  But it went more than that.  Seeing that some readers did not pick up on the larger story, I added two more chapters, brought back data files I previously deleted after listening to other people regarding supplementary content, and finally added in non-fiction material — all of this becoming “The Great Succession Crisis Extended Edition” which, for me, is much more definitive.  GSC Ex is my “director’s cut” of that book.

Great Succession Crisis Extended paperback

Given my education is in film/stage writing, psychology (pre-counseling), and medieval history, it is pretty much inevitable that I look at stories from a more or less film and stage point of view with the sensibilities of someone who loves to write in script format.

This also means I’ve made some technical errors; novels are not the same as screenplays.  The direction to actors that script writers must insert into the text cannot be conveyed the same way in novels.  So yes, I admit to my share of errors as my brain works to convert internally to novel conventions.

All through this, my sensibilities as a low vision person persist.  I possess the almost inevitable sensitivity to the needs of different physical abilities when it comes to reading.  This is one reason why I do not use a sterile white background on my website, even though the default background from Intuit.com is actually white.  In the summer of 2013, I located new options for my website, allowing me to stand apart from generic book sites with the organic, soothing green leaf background that makes reading the content (all geared towards YOU, the reader) both easier and more pleasant.  Cool colors soothe and invite people to stay.  Our brains and our minds really love blues, greens, and purples, finding these cool colors restful.

With large print editions in hand, I hope to eventually record audio versions of Peers of Beinan books.  But first, I continue to work on a brand new innovation:  QR indexing for paperback and hypertext link indexing for digital copies.

These new innovations make reading The Great Succession Crisis and other Peers of Beinan series books easier and more interactive than ever.  Rather than me playing God, sending out my story to you from on high as if from an ivory tower, my books are a conversation with you. Together, we listen and learn from one another as you read, beginning with your decision on which format you want to read each book in.

Readers can choose between the revised and extended editions of The Great Succession Crisis in digital, paperback, QR Interactive paperback, or large print paperback.  That is EIGHT editions for the SAME NOVEL.

Ghosts of the Past paperback photoIn March, 2013 I was able to release book two, The Ghosts of the Past.  This too I offer in all four formats.

You matter to me.  I’m not some literary goddess — just a storyteller who loves to research and share my research with you in the form of great adventures.

It is my hope you will join me as I explore social issues, history, science, and so much more on planet Beinan.

To the adventure!

Analysis: Top Ten Storytelling Cliches that Need to Disappear Forever

This hospitaler, a stand in for both Lord Knight Corann and for Lord Knight Elendir, stands as the perfect medieval knight.

This hospitaler, a stand in for both Lord Knight Corann and for Lord Knight Elendir, stands as the perfect medieval knight.

This afternoon I gave across one of the most poignant columns on writing and the writing process I’ve seen in a rather long time.  The subject:  literary cliches.

http://litreactor.com/columns/top-10-storytelling-cliches-that-need-to-disappear-forever

It is very hard to disagree with Mr. Hart here; he hit a lot of the bigger cliches right on the head — and shown us why knocking someone unconscious is a REALLY BAD IDEA to put in a story.

Avoiding cliches is difficult.  Write in an archetypal character — like Lord Knight Corann from The Great Succession Crisis — and you run the risk of such a character being called cliche.

One matter I do have a bit of disagreement on was his talk about bad parenting.  True, people do over use that device, but his description here really comes off to me, as someone who endured a violent childhood, as rather — dismissive.

In my humble opinion, Mr. Hart does not appear to really understand the psychology of abuse nor how it provides a genuine obstacle to success — not insurmountable — I am living proof of that — but an obstacle nonetheless, something people must work at to overcome.

Domestic violence is not something to talk about lightly, as if it is no big deal.  Rather, it is a serious matter that must be addressed by our society through prevention (as Sir Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame talks about) first and foremost.

Now should a challenging childhood really be the main motivator for villainy?  Absolutely not — yes, that is overdone.  But it should also never be described as if it is no big deal.

We as writers possess a social and moral responsibility.  Ours is the greatest power for social change.

The cliche about the pen and the sword is genuinely true.  As strong as physical might may appear, it is the power of ideas and words, filtered through the talents of writers, journalists, and authors, that changes our world most.

Endeavor always to make the world as better place through your pen and your works — published and otherwise.