Saturday, September 22, 2012

Why I hate the CAPTCHA.

Somewhere in the deepest bowels of hell there sits an evil imp collecting royalties every time a frustrated human gives up trying to leave a comment on a blog because he can't decipher the garbled string of letters that is the CAPTCHA.

There, I said it. I hate the CAPTCHA.

The purpose of this mishmash of letters all crammed together so that it's impossible to tell "l o" from "b", or "m n" from "n m" (sometimes they're so garbled they no longer resembled anything close to the English alphabet), is supposedly to prevent spam -- to ensure the entity leaving the comment, or answering a poll question, is human. Well, I submit to you that only a machine can make heads or tails out of the majority of those compressed, squiggled, damnedable verification roadblocks.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

10 Questions: Maribeth Graham

Maribeth Graham, reader/writer

About Maribeth

I am a writer and a reader. I have been writing for about ten years and have obtained two diplomas from the Institute of Children's Literature.I write middle-grade and young adult novels. In the past year, I have come very close to landing an agent for my middle-grade novel but in the end got rejected. I am just happy to know that I received many requests for partials and fulls. It gives me hope that I am on the right track. I am currently preparing to query my young adult novel and hope to do so by late fall early winter.
I am also an avid reader. I enjoy reading everything and try to stay up to date with all the books getting buzz or hitting the NY times best sellers lists. I have made it a goal to  read  more of the classics. I recently purchased Great Expectations which I am eager to read. Some of my favorite authors are Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Lois Duncan, Neil Gaiman, Dean Koontz, Mitch Albom, Suzanne Collins, Jodi Piccoult, Shel Silverstein, S.E. Hinton (I guess you can say I have eclectic taste).

I have been blogging for about ten years. My current blog is titled Writing Like Crazy and can be visited at 
I can be found on Twitter @YolaRamunno
My publishing credits include -All You Magazine, Stories for Children Magazine, LCCC Annual Literary Magazine, Alien Skin and I once received payment from ABC studios for a short story about motherhood.
The Interview
#1: This question was submitted by @lkhillbooks: If you have two books, both of which sound interesting and are the type of thing you generally read, how do you choose between the two? What are your deciding factors?

Good question! I love book covers, so it might depend on which cover looks most appealing to me. I’d also be more apt to select the book that is most different from what I recently read .If I just finished reading a book about angels, I’d probably be interested in a book with an entirely different concept.

#2: Do you ever venture outside the NYT Best Seller's list and sample indie writers?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

10 Questions: Israel J Parker

Israel J Parker, Author

About Israel

Israel Parker is the author of "The Anne Marie." The former Helicopter Rescue Swimmer for the Coast Guard penned his first novel "The Anne Marie" in 2011. He has noted that the book is an allegoric telling of some of his experiences in and out of the Coast Guard. The book has since sold thousands of copies and is required reading in a dozen schools.

About the book:

Newfoundlands are considered to be the most loyal breed of dogs. It is said that once one of the giant water-dogs bonds with a human, they can never bond with another. Atticus Stockton is a Newfoundland living in Wells, Maine with his master, John Stockton. Together, they make their living from the sea on their fishing boat the Anne Marie. The dog’s life is perfect- hot meals, good company, with a kind master and crew. One fateful day, Atticus’s life is turned upside down when a violent storm breaks apart and sinks their fishing boat in the seas off of Maine’s rocky coast.

The unforgiving storm takes the Newfoundland’s family away and leaves him emotionally and physically devastated with an uncharacteristic phobia of water. When no one from Atticus’s small town will take him in, he is forced into a dog pound in nearby Portland, Maine. There, in the confines of the pound, the big dog meets other interesting canines with stories of their own. As Atticus rests each night on the lonely concrete, he is haunted by vivid dreams of his once perfect world and its abrupt ending.

Can Atticus find a home and overcome his fears? If so, can he ever love another human again?

The Interview

#1: You self-published your first book, The Anne Marie, last year. Tell us about that process, and why you decided to self-publish instead of going the traditional route.

The short answer is that I wanted the control that self-publishing offered. I had several agents interested; but in the end, I decided that I wanted to control every aspect of my work.  I did a lot of research on publishing (part of the neuroses that makes me who I am) for the first go around. 

#2: You are a Coast Guard Officer. First, let me thank you for your service. When I think of Coast Guard, I think of daring rescues, of heroes. What is the most dangerous thing you've ever done in your job?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

10 Questions: Renee DeAngelo

One of the original goals of 10 Questions was to interview not just authors, and aspiring authors, but readers. Without readers, authors would be left holding an empty bag. But how do we connect with our readers? How do we attract new readers? And most importantly, perhaps, how do readers select their next book? Meet Renee DeAngelo, Avid Reader.

About Renee

Renee is a teacher currently working with first grade students.  Between that and her two boys (ages 19 and 12) she rarely has time for her true passion, writing.  However, she has recently made a commitment to change that by starting a blog (, spending more time social networking (@reneedeangelo4 on twitter), and setting aside time each day to write.  Renee has been working on the craft off and on for the past twenty years.  Her current projects include editing her first novel and she recently started a young adult novel.  Her goal is to work to improve her writing and eventually see her stories published.
In my free time, I read as much as I can.  As mentioned earlier, I read an average of five books a week.  The kindle is one of the best inventions ever (although my husband disagrees with that when he sees the bill each month).  It doesn't get better than having all of those wonderful worlds created by writers right at my fingertips.  The stories that interest me most are young adult fiction and adult romance (but there has to be a great story behind it, not just continuous love scenes).  Many of my co-workers, friends, and family come to me for book suggestions because they know how much I enjoy everything about books.

The Interview

#1: You mentioned in your bio that the Kindle is one of the best inventions ever. How do you find books for your Kindle? Explain your selection process. All of us indie writers need to know how to reach people like you.

The best thing a writer can do to get my attention is get the buzz going about their book.  I find a lot of my reads on book review blogs and from the people I follow on twitter.  The more people talk about the book, the more inclined I am to check it out.  I also like to find great books at bargain prices.  I am more likely to download several books under a price point of $2.99 rather than one or two books at $9.99.  The description of the book is also extremely important in my selection process.  Those few short paragraphs have to hook me and leave me wanting to read it.

#2: You teach first grade, so you get to work with kids just starting to discover the world of learning. How can teachers nudge their students toward a love of reading?

As teachers, I don't think we always realize what an impact we have on the children in front of us.  These early years are so important to instill a love of learning and reading.  One of the first things I ask my students is "Who likes to read?".  As the years have gone by, fewer and fewer children raise their hands to that question.  When I asked this year, hardly any students raised their hands.  I actually gasped when I saw this. Technology has taken over and children would rather play video games or be on the computer rather than curling up with a good book.  I always tell them about my love of books and how I read everyday.  I will continue to talk about this throughout the school year and tell them about some of my favorite stories.  Also, I learn about the interests of my students.  I find stories and stock my classroom library with books about these interests, especially for my most reluctant readers.  I also do a featured author where I will display a collection of books by an author and have the students partner to read and discuss these books.  

It's hard work inspiring some of these students to want to read, but when that child who didn't raise their hand in the beginning of the year asks for free reading time or picks up a book without being prompted, it's totally worth it!    

#3: Where did your love of books come from? How much were you exposed to reading as a child and do you think that had an impact?

I actually had to think really hard about this one.  I'm not sure where my love of reading came from.  I don't remember books being a huge part of my childhood.  My mom always had magazines around the house, but not a huge collection of books.  In high school, I remember getting Love Story and Oliver's Story from the library, and I was hooked.  I was on the couch all weekend reading and couldn't wait to find something else to read when I was finished.  I haven't stopped since.

#4: Writing truly is a passion for so many of us. How much time do you set aside for it each day?

When I am working, I try to spend one or two hours a day writing. When I'm on break, I attempt to increase that time whenever possible to about four hours a day.  Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out and I don't write as much as I would like. I'm in awe of people who manage to work full time, juggle a family, and still make time to write.  Tell me your secret, PLEASE! 

#5: What are your plans for publication? Will you try the traditional route or indie? 

That's the exciting part of publishing, there are options.  I have researched both and am not ruling anything out right now.  I may try the traditional route first, but am prepared to try indie if that doesn't work out.  The successes of the indie writer's in recent times is encouraging and inspiring.    

#6: Social networking is a great place to meet other writers and readers. Talk a little bit about your experience with social networking thus far.

I have made some great connections with people (you included of course) through social networking.  It's a special  community you create for yourself where the people you interact with have the same interests.  It's like an online support system that helps you talk to people who you may never have interacted with otherwise. It has opened my eyes to a whole new world.  I love it! 

#7: You read an average of five books per week. No wonder you don't have much time for writing. Have you considered cutting back and devoting more time for writing?

I've actually decided to do this just recently, although it's going to be difficult.  I am limiting the times I will read and am trying to cut back to two books a week.  I don't know how that's going to work out though.  I get so addicted to the worlds authors create and I hate putting a book down and leaving the characters behind.

#8: Tell us about your blog. What is it's focus?

My blog basically focuses on writing and reading.  I post a weekend read on Fridays that discusses books I've read and enjoyed.  I sometimes give those books away as well.  I don't review the books, it's just my way of getting the title out there and telling a little about the book.  I have an author interview coming up soon and hope to do more of those in the future.  I also post about some of my reading and writing experiences and inspirations.  The blog is fairly new, but I'm having a great time writing about two things that are important to me, reading and writing.

#9: What writing projects are you working on now?

Right now I am working on editing my first young adult novel (which is actually turning into more of a total rewrite at this point) and I've started my second novel. I love both of these projects and hope to have the edit project done by the end of the year.

#10:  Let's do something different. There has to be a question you were hoping I would or wouldn't ask. Ask yourself that question (please let us see the question), then answer it.

I have to say that all of your questions were totally awesome.  I think you may have missed a calling as an interviewer.  I guess the only thing I would hope you would ask is: "Would you be willing to come back and do another interview once your book is published?"
To that I would say that I'd absolutely love to come back if you would be willing to have me.  This has been so much fun.
Create a buzz about your book; get reviews; craft a good summary; interact with readers on social media. The one questions I didn't ask Renee -- the one to really put her on the spot -- was if she had read The Night Train. Should that be question #11
It should also be no surprise that Renee has writing ambitions. Readers love books, so why would they not want to create them? I wish Renee success with her own writing projects and, in response to question #10, yes, please do come back for another interview when you publish your book.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

10 Questions: Morgan Nyberg

Morgan Nyberg, author

Morgan Nyberg was born in Port Arthur, Ontario and grew up in farming country in southern British Columbia. After graduating from the University of British Columbia he worked as a laborer for a decade before finally settling into teaching. For most of the last 30 years he has lived abroad, teaching English as a Foreign Language in Ecuador, Portugal and the Sultanate of Oman. His first book, The Crazy Horse Suite, a verse play, was performed on the stage in New York and was broadcast on CBC Radio. His memoir, Mark, won the CBC Literary Competition. His first venture into book-length fiction, a children's novel, Galahad Schwartz and the Cockroach Army, won Canada's prestigious Governor General's Award for Literature. Since then he has added a further children's novel, Bad Day in Gladland, and three novels for adults, El Dorado Shuffle, Mr. Millennium, and Since Tomorrow. He currently lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Contact Morgan:

Amazon book page:  Morgan Nyberg Author Page
Twitter:  @morgannyberg

#1:  How many novels have you published?

Two novels for younger readers: Galahad Schwartz and the Cockroach Army and Bad Day in Gladland. Three novels for adults: El Dorado Shuffle, Mr. Millennium and Since Tomorrow. Also: a book of poetry in the form of a play for 4 voices, The Crazy Horse Suite.

#2:  Sales aside, do you have a favorite among the novels you've published?

El Dorado Shuffle was my first adults’ novel, set in the Andes Mountains, where I spent a couple of years in the 1980s. It is very different from my most popular book, Since Tomorrow. The story is narrated in the first person by its emotionally complex protagonist, Mac McKnight, who is fueled, in the words of the Amazon description, by “…guilt, anger, reckless courage, love, alcohol.” (There is more about Mac on my blog at ) The tone of El Dorado Shuffle is ironic, the humour dark. Somehow I managed to create a wild and poetic story that blends sadness and humour.

#3:   Since Tomorrow is among my list of all-time favorite books, and I've read a lot of books. How long did it take you to write it, and how different was the final draft from the first?