Tuesday, September 2, 2014

JOE CHIBA- Twelve Question Tuesday



Today I am pleased to welcome Oak Tree Press author Joe Chiba to Twelve Question Tuesday.

1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you. 
I love traveling and I seem to migrate often. As much as I love New York, the city of my birth, I've always wanted to escape it and see the world. What I've managed to conquer so far are 31 U.S. states, a bit of Canada and Mexico, and a slice of China, Japan, Italy, Switzerland and France. I have lived in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maine, California, Hawaii, and Japan. And I'm looking for my next address now!

I love all things Italian. Denying myself the beauty and grandeur of my own rich heritage until 2009 was a pretty big blunder. As soon as I landed in Rome on that first visit, I became connected in a way I cannot describe. Now I can't get enough. I study Italian with Sonia Gil's Fluenz program, I listen to singers Andrea Boccelli, Il Volo, and Alessandro Saffina constantly, and I eat more pasta than ever. I have thousands and thousands of pictures of Italy on my computer. And some of them are not even pictures of food!

I am kind of musical. When I was 13, I started playing soprano bugle in the St. Matthias Drum & Bugle Corps in my hometown. I picked it up very quickly and was soon at the head of the horn line as lead soloist. As I matured, I moved to the Long Island Sunrisers, where, again as soloist, I won Rookie of the Year and Brass Player of the Year awards. I also played trumpet with my high school's Big Band. I loved being in front of the audience, featured as a soloist. Although I am not in a band now, I enjoy playing on my trumpet tunes from the 1940s and'50s, like Sinatra ballads, and popular Italian songs. 

2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person? 
If I had to choose, I'd say a dog person. I don't dislike either, and I do love playing with dogs. I miss Gabby, our white Scottish terrier who was part of my family in New York, and passed away earlier this year. And I can't wait to meet Gigi, the newest addition in New York. But I won't have a dog in my house. I don't know why. 

3.  Tea or coffee? 
Green tea from Japan. I got hooked on it while I was living and teaching English in Japan. I have one to two cups every morning. I believe green tea actually makes me healthier. And I love the taste. The only time I really have coffee is when I'm in Italy. Then it's always espresso or cappuccino. 

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.) 
Boxer-briefs. I like the way they hug the skin, but also leave ample breathing space. On others? Depends on who the other is. All three can all be terribly sexy on women. But don't tell my wife I said that. 

5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote? 
Being a romantic, and a family man, I tried to write a fictional time travel story based on how I met my wife in Japan. It's still on my computer. I was embarrassed the last time I looked at it. But I am considering using some of the ideas in it for my next book, The Matchmaker.

6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer? 
About six months ago. When Sunny Frazier sent me an email notifying me I had won the 2013 OTP Romance/Timeless Love Award. I figured, if my book was good enough for OTP, and good enough for Sunny, I was good enough to call myself a writer. 

7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written? 
I've never worked harder or longer on anything, writing or otherwise, than I have on Summer in Italy. When I read it today, I still get choked up in spots. And then I realize that others will soon read it, too. And I'm not afraid to have that happen. 

8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you? 
In 1998, I found out I had testicular cancer. When I had the surgery to remove my testicle, I didn't know for sure it was cancer. I only knew that there was a mass there. After the operation, I found out. The next two weeks, waiting for my first CT scan, chest x-ray and blood test, and then the results were like being in Hell. But all the tests came back negative. No cancer was ever found. And the last 16 years of follow-up tests have all proved the same. So in a way, the scariest thing that ever happened to me was also a blessing. I had the testicle with the tumor removed, and I was able to get on with my life. 

9.  How did you end up getting published? 
Because of Sunny Frazier's persistence. About two years ago, after about 60 rejections from literary agents and big publishing houses, I decided to go down a different path and send out some queries to small publishers. At that time, Sunny Frazier had been working at Oak Tree Press as Acquisitions Editor, and she just loved my story. She pitched it to Billie Johnson, and they were ready to publish it. But I had sent in the manuscript too soon. An unsettling feeling was gnawing at me. Something had to be changed within the story. I knew that, but I didn't know what. So I held off publishing it then and went back to the drawing board. Eighteen months later, just as I was finishing up the long re-write, Sunny contacted me again. She was looking for a good romance novel for the Romance contest, and thought of Summer in Italy. She asked if it were still available, and it was. What kind of luck was this? I could not believe it. I jumped on her proposition, and we took it from there. 

10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen? 
I don't play videogames, and I don't watch zombie TV or movies, so I am out of the loop. But I would fight anything that was trying to eat me. 

11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done? 
Rock-climbing in New Hampshire. The rock was 800 feet straight up. What was I thinking? I did it, all the way to the top. But what was I thinking? 

12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that. 
Famous. Because then I could use my fame to influence others to follow their dreams and enjoy the life they envision for themselves. When you're rich, you can buy things. But you can never buy happiness, no matter how much money you have. Like Lennon and McCartney said, "Money can't buy you love." 

FROM THE AUTHOR 

SUMMER IN ITALY 
When he finds a World War II letter hidden among his dead father's possessions, Joey recalls a long-lost cousin and flies to Italy determined to locate him. However, he never planned on Jeanette, a tall, stunning photographer with a tortuous laugh and a fondness for perfection. A season away from the wedding of her dreams, Jeanette agrees to tag along in a yellow Mini Cooper as Joey searches for his cousin. With lemons, cigars, and spiders along for the ride, a series of doomed misadventures sweeps them across southern Italy, changing them in ways they never imagined. But will their summer in Italy be enough to find the something they never knew was missing? 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
Joe Chiba was born in Queens, New York, and spent his youth playing stickball in the street and soprano horn in a neighborhood drum & bugle corps. After Joe received a B.A. from Albright College in Pennsylvania, he packed his bags for Japan, where he taught English. Summer in Italy is Joe's first novel, which has won the 2013 Oak Tree Press Romance/Timeless Love Award. The inspiration for his story came in 2008, after his family in New York were reunited with long-lost Italian cousins. Soon after, Joe traveled to Italy to do research for his novel. Joe lives in Honolulu, Hawaii with his Japanese wife, Sakura.

Visit Joe on his website at http://www.joechiba.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/joechibawrites. And to find out what he thinks about Italy, visit him at his blog, All Roads Lead to Rome, at http://joechiba.wordpress.com

Buy Summer in Italy on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Italy-Joe-Chiba/dp/1610091590/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1409314563&sr=8-2&keywords=joe+chiba


Friday, August 15, 2014

The Perils of Co-Writing

My husband is an actor. Of sorts.  Julio has been background or stand-in for Arnold, Sylvester, Brad, Jason (Statham and Momoa), and pretty much all of the biggies.

He has also done theater where he was dressed as the Easter Bunny, as well as has numerous indie films (translation, mostly unpaid) under this belt. The last indie film he was in took 3rd place at the New Orleans 48-Hour Film Festival, which was a great accomplishment for all involved because it was their first time at this particular rodeo.

Julio as the Easter Bunny
He has also done several local commercials, one so convincing everyone keeps asking to borrow money from us because they really believe he got $100,000 in a car wreck from a personal injury settlement.  

For a while we have been discussing writing a short for him. A short would be great for both of us. It would be a great thing to put on his reel to submit when he auditions because I could write something other than the roles he usually gets typecast in-- the thug, the drug dealer, the prisoner, the killer.  All interesting roles, but sort of stereotypical for a large, dangerous-looking Hispanic male.  I could write something that would allow him to show a host of different emotions.  And it would be good for me because my name would be on it.

Julio with Stanley Tucci
I've written a few screenplays, some of them have even won awards, but none have yet been optioned or produced.

While working on indie films, Julio met a valuable contact, a producer/director who has pitched to major network t.v. shows and has had a reality t.v. show produced.  He liked one of my pilots.  But more than that he liked an idea for a short that Julio and I have been tossing around for awhile.  He liked it the way Julio pitched it to him, however, as a t.v. series and is interested in pitching it to a network. Which means we need to start writing it.

I say we, but I mostly mean me. Julio has great ideas, but he doesn't write. Most of the time he doesn't write the ideas down, but tells them to me and expects me to keep them organized like a human card catalog.  And to be honest, organization is a skill I struggle with on a daily basis.


Julio as a Dough Boy in Aztec Warrio
So we have just begun the process.  Julio doesn't know the pain of the writing process. He doesn't start at the beginning, but spouts off all of these ideas about things that are going to happen in different episodes.

Last night we began to finally work together to get the thing on paper. I tried to explain to him that he first needs to understand structure.  Personally, I am not a fan of structure. My goal when I was much younger (much, much younger) was to be this creative genius that broke all the rules in order to fully develop my art.

Newsflash--people who watch t.v. shows don't give a crap about my desire to develop my art.  They want to know what to expect in their weekly cop show, or their weekly comedy, or their weekly night time soap.

They don't want to know in advance what's going to
happen, you know, all those things Julio has pinned down, but they want to know that the first 30 second to 2 minutes is going to set up the plot, that every week there's a different story, or every week there's a new illness or enemy or alien to conquer, or every week there's going to be a murder before the first commercial.

They don't realize they know this or expect this, but if it doesn't happen the way they have anticipated, which has a whole lot to do with why they like the show in the first place, they might not tune in next week.

Julio as a detective on Common Law 



So for me, character is first, at least the protagonist and antagonist.  Then, I try to think about what the big picture is, the reason I'm writing this particular story in this particular way.


Then I try to decide the structure, what is the A-plot, B-plot, and is there going to be a C-plot?



Is there something that is going to repeat every week, such as a flashback, a voice over, talking to a dead relative at a grave, a goodnight John Boy?  Is there going to be something consistent that if and when it fails to happen, it means something.

Then I start with the details of what is going to happen in each episode. And these, too, I map out, so that I can make sure my character has an arc, and the story has an arc, through the first season, and through the end of the show. And if I have more than one primary character, they also need an arc.

Julio thinks you can just come up with ideas about what's going to happen and start writing it. Maybe some people work that way, but it sure doesn't lend itself well to t.v. series writing.  Then again, maybe he just gives me a lot more credit than I deserve when it comes to my ability to create a screenplay or a novel or even a legal brief. As much as I love to write, it requires time and work.

Julio as a thug
And then we came to the biggest crossroads of all--we couldn't seem to agree on the genre or subgengre, other than it's going to be an hour long show, which means it has to be a drama or a dramedy.  We discussed this at length, him making it seem like an edgy soap opera to me.  I pictured it more as a dark comedy.

Finally, I asked him to tell me a song that gave him the feeling of the series. I am thinking tone and mood.  This is how I write, especially for scenes that are difficult, such as emotional or embarrassing scenes. I find music or songs that fit the tone and mood. This doesn't mean the lyrics have anything to do with the story, it's the feeling the song in general evokes.

So of course, I was unable to come up with the words tone and mood and he gave me songs that were heavy and depressing because the lyrics described the character. It took us an hour of back and forth before we finally understood what each other was talking about, and that neither of us was actually talking about the same thing, but finally realized we are on the exact same page as far as tone and mood, subgenre, and protagonist.

Julio marrying George Clooney in Vegas
After that, we came up with some of the structural issues I need to begin the process, and came up with the big picture and the character arcs for the first season and the arc for the entire series. Not that it won't be fine tuned, but that hour of frustration and of sometimes getting snarky and snippy and raising our voices eventually led us off to a great start.

I am not a fan of co-writing. I like to write what I want to write, how I want to write it. But I figure one day I may get a paid job writing a script for t.v. or a movie, and it will be whatever the person paying me wants me to write, whether it's my way or not. So I guess it's good practice.  Plus, if this producer does manage to get this show optioned, a lot more doors will open for me as a writer.

So although co-writing is perilous, we're not talking divorce yet, so I guess we'll keep going and see how it turns out.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Amy Reade: Twelve Question Tuesday

Today I am excited to welcome fellow lawyer Amy Reade to Twelve Question Tuesday.

1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you. 
I have been married for eighteen years, I have three kids, and I grew up in Northern New York.



2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?
If I say dog person, my cats will be mad.  If I say cat person, my dog will be mad.  It’s best if I say both.

3.  Tea or coffee?
I like tea better, but I’ll drink both.  If I drink coffee, it has to have enough cream and sugar in it to taste like ice cream.

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.)

I say wear what makes you comfortable.  Just don’t wear your jeans so low that you share your preference with the rest of us.

5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote?
The first thing I remember writing was a poem in honor of my baby sister.  It ended like this:  “I love fried chicken like the dickens, but most of all I love my Megan.”  Then when I was in seventh grade I wrote a story called “Klara’s Wish.”   A local author read it on her radio program.  I still have the tape of it somewhere.

6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer?
I started calling myself a writer when I finished my first novel and started to look for a publisher. 

7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written?
So far, my first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House.  I’m working on my second novel right now, and I love every minute of it.

8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
I’d love to tell you about it, but I’ll end up with nightmares.  I’ll tell you the second-scariest.  When I was a teenager, I was babysitting for a boy who pulled a gun on me.  It goes without saying that I wasn’t allowed to babysit for that family anymore... not that I would have wanted to.
 
9.  How did you end up getting published?
After a very insightful acquisitions editor suggested that I do something to establish an online presence, I got started on Facebook, then I got a website and Twitter account.  I don’t put a lot of myself out there, but I try to comment on other people’s blogs and FB pages as often as I can.  I’ve also started blogging, and I absolutely love doing it.  That same editor made some helpful suggestions about revising my first manuscript a bit, then I sent it off to Kensington Publishing, which offered me a contract.  The editing process has been fantastic, and I’ve actually enjoyed doing the revisions. 

10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?
I’d try to fight, but sadly, I’d probably end up as food.

11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
I went to law school in a state far from home where I didn’t know anyone.

12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.
I’m not sure I’d be good at being famous…way too many embarrassing things happen to me.  So I guess I’d rather be rich.  I’d use my wealth to do good works and help others without attracting any attention.   

FROM THE AUTHOR:
My first novel, SECRETS OF HALLSTEAD HOUSE, is the story of a nurse from Manhattan who has endured the deaths of her parents and the end of a long-term relationship.  Looking for a new start, she takes a job on Hallstead Island, part of the Thousand Islands in upstate New York.  When she arrives, she finds that she is not only unwelcome, but also in danger from unknown persons.  She discovers secrets that reach far into her past and will affect her far into the future, but there are people who don’t want those secrets shared.  They will stop at nothing to make sure the secrets remain hidden.


You can find me on my blog at
http://amreade.wordpress.com/

You can find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/readeandwrite

Visit my website at http://www.amymreade.com


Finally, you can visit me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/amy.reade.92




 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

TEKLA DENNISON MILLER- Twelve Question Tuesday

Today I am pleased to welcome former warden Tekla Dennison Miller to Twelve Question Tuesday.
 
1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you.
 
1. I am married for nearly 39 years to wonderful man who recently has had a double leg amputation but he still has a sense of humor has remained optimistic.
 
2. I have 3 stepsons, one daughter-in-law and 3 remarkable grandchildren.
 
3. I was the warden of a men’s maximum and a women’s multi-level prisons outside Detroit, MI.
 
2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?
 
Although I love all animals my husband and I have rescued dogs for all the years we have been married. At the moment we have 2 mutts (Rez Dogs) rescued from the Apache reservation.
 
3.  Tea or coffee?
 
Absolutely coffee—the stronger the better. But I must admit that I have slight addiction to Chai Latte.
 
4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.)
 
Sexy boxer-briefs.
 
5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote?
 
In fifth grade I wrote a story about my brother and baseball. I still remember the title—“Baseball in his Blood”.
 
6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer?
 
It never occurred to me that I would write or one-day be a published author. When I retired early my friends urged me to write about my twenty-year career with the Michigan Department of Corrections. “You should write a book. You have so many fascinating stories to tell,” they said.
 
I brushed them off. After all the most exciting material I had written all those years were my monthly reports and annual budgets. Trust me, these don’t make best-seller material. So I decided to do what so many of my predecessors had done–I became a consultant. 
 
Within a month of that decision I got my first job. I was hired to be a keynote speaker at the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association conference on the female offender. I was flown to Boston, put up in a nice hotel, chauffeured around and paid $500 for a thirty-minute speech. I was delighted and knew I had made the correct choice. I couldn’t make that much money for a half hour of writing, especially when I didn’t have the skills. I left Boston flying high on my success. 
 
When I got home I promptly deposited my $500 check and made plans on how to spend it. Shortly after, the bank notified me that the check bounced. “How can this be?” I asked the teller. “It’s written on the Sheriffs’ Association’s account?” Little did I know that by the time I had contacted the association about this, the executive director was under investigation for mismanagement of funds. 
 
MOTHER RABBIT BACK COVER
When I discovered this, I told myself, “Perhaps consulting isn’t meant for me. I should try writing. What did I have to lose? I couldn’t have a worse experience.”
 
Many years later I was a party I was approached by two women who asked, “Are you Tekla Miller, the author?” It took me a moment to ponder the question because I had only been known as “The Warden.” After a quick review of my achievements over the past years, I proudly answered, “Yes, I am.”
 
7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written?
 
I would have to say my first book THE WARDEN WORE PINK because it was the beginning of my wonderful life.
 
8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
 
An employee at the women’s prison threatened my life. Her psychologist informed me and the police that he believed she would carry out the threat. I had to have a body guard.
 
9.  How did you end up getting published?
 
Although I actually had an agent she gave up on me. So I researched independent presses and Julie Zimmerman of Biddle Publishing took a chance on me and published THE WARDEN WORE PINK in 1996. It is still in print and is used in both criminal justice and women’s studies at several colleges and universities and has been quoted in many nonfiction books.
 
10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?
 
Definitely a fighter. I’ve been a fighter all my life. I had to be. I became an orphan when I was 13 years old.
 
11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
 
Being the first person—man or woman—in the U.S.to be the warden of 2 high security prisons simultaneously.
 
12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.
 
Famous. I’d rather have the reward of helping others than money. I have already helped and would continue to help the wrongfully convicted.
 
 
FROM THE AUTHOR: 
 
My most recent book is about to be released by Oak Tree Press. MOTHER RABBIT is the true story of my sister, Alyce Bonura who was a single mother that became the Bunny Mother of the Chicago Playboy Club in the mid 1960s.
 
Although my web site is being updated you can view it at TeklaMiller.com - Tekla Dennison Miller's Web Site  


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Twelve Question Tuesday- Nancy LiPetri

Today, writer Nancy LiPetri joins me for Twelve Question Tuesday.

1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you. 

I have a sense of humor you may not pick up on right away, and amuse myself by having characters say and do things that keep my friends guessing about the real me.

Nature is one of my greatest passions, right up there with my kids and hubby and writing—I’m a shameless ‘bird nerd’ since moving to NC nine years ago, have had my yard certified as a wildlife habitat, and am always looking forward to exploring the next trail, park or beach.

I really enjoy working out, not only to try to stay in shape and ward off everything that stole my mother’s golden years from her, but because being a regular in group pilates, yoga and spin is my big social break away from my home office where I talk to my dog and cats all day. Thank goodness for Facebook friends, too!


2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person? 

Although my recent Facebook photo posts are my daughter’s German Shepherd, son’s puppy and my own sweet old golden retriever, when forced to pick, I’m first a cat person. We have two I find endlessly exquisite. Have always lived with a cat and always will. Besides, there are reasons my wonderful golden is nicknamed Marley Money-Pit Inconvenience.

3.  Tea or coffee?

Tea. Have been fortunate to get spoiled with longjing direct from China, thanks to hubby’s travel. Coffee with creamer is just a weekend treat.

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.)

Boxer-briefs. They show more shape than boxers, yet leave something to the imagination.

5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote?

I kept a diary all through childhood and into college. People always knew to get me a new one for Christmas, you know, the kind with the little lock and key. Guess it’s no wonder my first novel has a “Dear Diary” character. The first multi-page story I remember writing was about horses (I was into The Black Stallion series at the time, in elementary school).

6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer?

Well, I’ve been a copywriter all my adult life, so have called myself a writer for decades. Always wrote for a hobby, too. But not until signing with Oak Tree Press did I call myself an author.

7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written?

The Wooded Path because it made one of my early readers say exactly what I hoped for, that it’s intriguing and fun and made her say, “Hey, that’s me!”

8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?

 Having teenagers. Giving up the control over what’s dearest to you….  I know I sprouted gray hairs when they began to drive. 

9.  How did you end up getting published?

Becoming an empty-nester finally got me the time to complete and polish a manuscript (I know other authors get it done amid the chaos of a really busy life, but I lose hours of reality when I write, and was afraid of letting too much slide), and then over months of querying publishers I received enough positive response to keep trying until I found the right match: Oak Tree Press.

10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?

Fighter! Been wanting to try out this kickboxing on someone. Elbow strike!

11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done?

Hmmmm, what daring thing could I share? Getting married before we both had graduated and had “good” jobs, not knowing where life would take us.

12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.

I’m a practical girl, and I’m sure I wouldn’t enjoy all the attention and lack of privacy that comes with fame, so have to choose rich. But I wouldn’t change my comfortable lifestyle…oh except for maybe buying myself and my daughter more horses…and land for them…and a hot stable hand to help us….


Blurb for The Wooded Path coming September 2014:

Ever wonder if you’re normal? Laine McClelland sure does. When the mysterious disappearance of a bunco friend, Paula, shakes her Lake Norman neighborhood, her seemingly perfect world is suddenly filled with dark thoughts, dangerous temptations and surprising confessions. What is normal once you realize life’s short, anyway? Was her marriage ever enough? She finds herself risking it all…and afraid of what really happened to Paula.



Nancy LiPetri lives on Lake Norman, North Carolina, the setting of The Wooded Path. Originally from landlocked Iowa, she has enjoyed living on both coasts as well as in her husband’s native Chicago, taking her family and copywriting career with her and gathering inspiration for her fiction along the way.

Visit her on Facebook. And to find out what it’s really like on Lake Norman, visit her at
www.NancyLonLakeNorman.blogspot.com