Thursday, August 30, 2007

50 Books in 50 States Project!

Okay, last week I saw someone else doing this and I thought, "she stole my idea!" But the reality of it is, she blogged it first, and she doesn't know me. I hope it's working for her.

Probably most of you are authors or aspiring authors. A lot of you are small press folks, working hard to get your books in front of readers. I know I am. My publisher has provided us with distribution through those heralded warehousing giants, Ingram's and Baker & Taylor, not to mention Partners and Follett. Yet, we all know that distribution by itself is not enough, and books that sit are books that get returned.

My dream is to have one book ordered by a reader in each of the 50 states. Yeah, lofty, I know, but how hard could it be? Ain't too proud to beg, as the song goes. Order my book from any bookseller, big box or indy, and write me at annecarter @ In return, I'll promote you and your book, your website, whatever. I'll write you into my various blogs, put a link to your book on my website. (And if you like my book, I hope you'll blog about it, too.) Help me fill up my map and show the big guys that small press is alive and kicking.

POINT SURRENDER (Echelon Press, ISBN 978-1-59080-514-5, $12.95 Trade Paperback) is a romantic paranormal lighthouse mystery.

"Point Surrender's last keeper has been dead for more than 25 years. Will the journal he left behind reveal why he died in the aging white beacon, and what became of his missing family? Amy Winslow is bound and determined to find out. There are those who would just as soon she didn't."

If you need more convincing that you'll love this book, check out my video, reviews and excerpt at and then head on out to your local bookseller and ask them to order a copy. You won't be sorry, and together we just might give small press another leg up! I'll be posting updates to my project so check in to see what states are buying books.


ps – I am also very interested in feedback about how quickly your book arrives…

The Virtual Tour Continues: Grace E. Howell

1. I am very impressed by your bio, and enjoyed the stories about your grandfather (see: You've been a teacher, a librarian, a quilt maker and a Master Gardener, among other things. And by the way, just what is a "Master Gardener?" It sounds like an official designation.

Master Gardener certainly is an official designation. To become a Master Gardener you have to take a gardening course from the agriculture extension office in your community. The course includes something on just about all aspects of gardening. Then after you are certified, you must give a number of hours work each year to remain part of the Master Gardener Association, continue your gardening education, and educate others in gardening and environmental concerns. I was very active in the association for eight years, but when I began writing full time after TRUE FRIENDS was published, I became inactive and now only work in my own yard, my children's yards, my church yard, and an occasional Habitat for Humanity home. Most of what I do now is landscape design and advice instead of actually the digging and planting that I love so much.

2. You have taught ESL (English as a Second Language.) What foreign language(s) do you work with?

Both of my teaching experiences in ESL were with adults from various countries who were very motivated to learn English. At the University of Memphis, I was a substitute teacher in their Intensified English Instruction, which was a language-immersion program. I worked with vocabulary and conversational skills. The majority of students were from Korea with some from Japan, Thailand, and several African countries, only one Spanish speaker. At my church, I organized and created the curriculum for Conversational English for adult students and immigrants. This class included Chinese, Afrikaners, Brazilians, Bulgarians, Japanese, Iranians, Haitians, and Spanish speakers from Central and South America. Needless to say, I did not know all those languages. In neither of these classes did I work with any language other than English. What was so amazing to me was that the students quickly bonded with each other in English as that was the only language they had in common.

3. With gardening and quilt making a big part of your life, do you consider yourself more in touch with traditions and history? Talk about how this influenced your writing.

I think everything in a writer's background has an influence on who the writer is and what he/she has to say. Naturally, people write about what they know or like as that comes to the surface during the writing process. As for me, I'm not sure that I'm more in tune with the past than the present. Currently I'm working on a contemporary series that definitely involves issues facing us today. I believe that human needs and emotions are the same throughout the ages, and that's mainly what my writing has focused on. Not the differences in past and present, but the similarities.

4. TRUE FRIENDS sounds like a great book for middle grade readers. Tell us about the story, and the various ways you were able to research this time period and its history.

TRUE FRIENDS is a coming of age story in which Annie must give up her tomboy days with the boys and become a young lady. While she searches for girl friends and tries to meet society's demands, she faces suspicions and accusations stemming from World War I, as well as racial prejudices of the time. During the tragedy of the 1918 flu epidemic, she begins to "grow up" and to know what is valuable to her.

I grew up in old South Memphis where TRUE FRIENDS takes place, and I had been collecting oral history for this story for a long time from people who lived in that time or heard stories from their parents. Then I spent a summer in the library reading 1918 newspapers from Memphis, Nashville, and New York. Newspapers are invaluable to absorb the flavor and feeling of a time. I also read a number of books, fiction and nonfiction, on the time, and some of the novel came from family stories.

5. Are you working on anything now? Will you continue to write for young adults?

I am working on a middle grade contemporary series, UNLIKELY ALLIANCE, in which three seventh grade misfits reluctantly become friends while each battles severe personal and neighborhood problems. I really like middle grade and young adult books, both to read and to write. And I like the people who read those books so, YES, I will continue to write for young people. I keep hoping more people will realize that a good book for young people is good for anybody. Something quite surprising to me is that so many adults have read and like TRUE FRIENDS. Most surprising has been the number of men who keep asking me when my next book will be out. Recently a middle-aged guy told me he liked TF better than Harry Potter. Unbelievable!

6. How did being a librarian help you in your writing? (And, I have to ask: do your local libraries have your book on their shelves??)

I'm not sure that being a librarian has helped me with my writing, but I will certainly say that having all the books in my library to read has definitely helped. I read constantly both books for young readers and for adults. A good number of libraries in Memphis have TRUE FRIENDS on their shelves; some have had it rebound as a hardback. Both the school libraries and the public libraries say money is a major problem for them to get all the books they would like.

7. What has been your biggest obstacle in getting TRUE FRIENDS from concept to royalty check?

I think, as most authors of a first novel will say, simply finding a publisher was the biggest challenge.

8. What has been the most thrilling aspect of being a published author?

After the first thrill when Karen Syed of Echelon Press offered me a contract, the biggest thrill for me has been appearing at several book festivals as a festival author and receiving accolades from the sponsors and the public. Right up there is the reception I've received at schools from students and parents.

9. Where can readers find TRUE FRIENDS, and learn more about you?

For more about me and TRUE FRIENDS, you can check out my website at and my new blog at
You can get TRUE FRIENDS from Follett,, bookstores, and Echelon Press.

Thank you, Anne, for giving me the chance to be here with you and talk about my writing. I have truly enjoyed it.

Thanks Grace!
Interview by Anne Carter, author of POINT SURRENDER

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Virtual Tour: Heather S. Ingemar

Stop number one on Beacon Street's Author Virtual Tour is the home of speculative fiction author Heather S. Ingemar. Following is our interview with this talented new name!

You write "speculative fiction." Describe what that means for readers new to the genre.

Well, "speculative fiction" is a catch-all term for anything falling in the sci-fi, fantasy, or paranormal genres, and often encompasses anything in-between, like cross-genre stories. I like the term, because my stuff is almost always cross-genre.

Tell us about DARKNESS CORNERED. When did the idea occur to you, and did it come as a complete idea, or did it evolve as you wrote it?

I had the idea for it about a year ago, just before I returned to college for my last semester. When it came, it was a flash; complete and detailed. Some things about it evolved later, for example, Lear's connection to Kai, and why she was so important. Also, the nuances of Dr. Corvan's main agenda. Now, he kind of surprised me with the shadows of his character, the depth of his malignant intent.

Who are your mentors? Stephen King came to mind as I browsed your website. How would you compare your work with his or others' whose work you enjoy?

That's funny you should mention Stephen King; I seem to be getting a lot of comparison to him these days -- which is incredibly flattering to say the least! Actually, while I haven't read a lot of his stuff, I am a fan of his short stories -- he's really got it. As for others who have influenced me, Tolkien, of course, for his amazing landscapes and Anne McCaffrey for her unique blend of sci-fi and fantasy. I'm sure there are others, I'm just drawing a blank.... (laughs)

As for comparisons, I don't know that I'm really qualified for that....! Ask me again in a few years....!

Someone else mentioned the "mind of a horror author" as being somewhat different than that of a romance author. Romance authors often allude to falling in love with their characters. That being said, do you ever come up with ideas that scare even you?

Oh, yes. There have been times when I've been writing a super-gory or disturbing scene and I just had to keep writing until I got well past it so I could go to sleep at night! In the stories that choose me to tell them, that tends to happen frequently enough. In some ways, I wish it didn't. (laughs) But on the other hand, if that's what the story needs, to not address it would be cheating the tale. I'm a firm believer in telling the story the way it needs to be told.

A little off topic: what is an Irish flute? Do you play often? Does (or will) music play a part in your literary work?

An Irish flute is a six-holed wooden flute pitched in the scale of D major. Some of them have keys; mine does, so that makes it fully chromatic. They're very popular in Irish traditional music, and they have a more 'throaty,' more 'earthy' sound than your standard Bohem silver flutes that you find in band class. I guess you could liken the Irish flute to the pretty girl who isn't afraid to work with her hands whereas the silver flute would be the pretty girl who has people do things for her. (laughs)

I used to play quite frequently with a local celtic band where I went to college, but I haven't picked it up much since I graduated in December. I got a minor in music along with my Bachelor's degree in English, and while I loved studying music at college, it's just been nice to take a break from the strict discipline of rehearsals and practice sessions.

Music, strictly speaking, is very important to me in my writing process. Some people have to have silence, others have a special area that they work in. For me, it's music. If I don't have music, I don't write. Now, for music in my work, I don't get to call the shots there. (laughs) So far, it's only popped up a couple of times in my stories, and both times it was not planned.

You live on a cattle ranch. Here, again, do you find fodder (no pun intended) for future stories? I think it would be fascinating to read a horror story that unfolds say, on a cattle drive...

Yes, I am a rancher's wife. You'd be surprised at what ends up in my work from day-to-day activities. The initial scene in "Darkness Cornered" where Lear sits down and begins cleaning his Walther, for example, was something that popped up shortly after my husband and I bought a set of .22 caliber pistols for target shooting. Part of good gun maintenance, especially with pistols, is cleaning and oiling the proper parts. Since firearms are an interest area of mine, I requested that my husband teach me how to clean my own pistol.

Other things that have made it into my work from real life are cooking recipes -- I'm writing a story now where the main character makes a tuna casserole in one scene, and she uses my mother's recipe -- and sometimes objects I've been familiar with. Gates, cars, lamps, books. The scents of flowers, or the earth on a rainy day. There's probably also a few things hiding in between the lines that I'm not even aware of. Quite fascinating, really, how the mind takes tangible things and recombines them in ways the characters want.

What's up next for you? Where would you like your career to go?

I think every author will say this, but I'd like to see my stuff in print for starters. Since I specialize in short stories and short novels, I'd like to see a collection put together for each. Part of this dream centers around my current work(s)-in-progress; I think the short novel I just finished wants to spawn a series, and if it does, it'd be just lovely to see it bound in two-story volumes. As for my career, I want to write. I want to be able to make enough at writing to live comfortably, and that's all. I'm not interested in 'wealth.' I just want comfort.

Where can readers find out more about you, and buy your stories?

Well, my website is located at and my stories are available at the Echelon Press webstore and Fictionwise. I've got a couple older works floating around in the ether of the Internet that were published at an ezine called the Gothic Revue, I've got a full biblio-list on the "stories" page of my website that you can check out if you're interested in tracking them down.
Heather S. Ingemar: Author of Speculative Fiction

~A big thank you to Heather for her interesting and entertaining interview! Stay tuned for more from the Echelon Authors Virtual Tour!