Jan 11, 2013 - General    44 Comments

New Year Blog Hop

(NOW CLOSED) new-years-blog-hop-2It’s a new year! I finished out the year by participating in a blog hop, and now I’m starting the year by joining in the New Year Blog Hop! If you’ve never seen a blog hop before, it’s a series of giveaways that are run across a huge number of authors blogs. Each blog has their own giveaway, which you can enter (click on the image to the right for the full list of blogs participating). And the main site (that links everyone together) has it’s own giveaway where you can win a Kindle Fire HD, a $100 amazon gift card, 15 signed paperbacks, or 30 digital books.

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Dec 30, 2012 - General    Comments Off on A Helping Hand (With Formatting Enquiries)

A Helping Hand (With Formatting Enquiries)

I have some big plans for my formatting service in 2013, but it’s a case of taking baby steps to get everything in place 🙂

The first new change is that my wife will now be answering the initial email for new clients. So if you contact me about formatting, don’t be surprised if you get a reply from “Tal”. Once she has talked you through the process, and you decide to go ahead, I’ll get involved in the mix. Hopefully this will help streamline things on my side, and allow me to focus more on doing the actual formatting.

But this is just the first step! Although you’ll have to wait and see what the other changes are 😉

Dec 10, 2012 - General    38 Comments

Holiday Blog Hop

To celebrate the holiday season, I’m taking part in the Holiday Blog Hop. This is a series of giveaways that are run across a huge number of authors blogs. Each blog has their own giveaway, which you can enter (click on the image to the right for the full list of blogs participating). And the main site (that links everyone together) has it’s own giveaway where you can win one of Two Kindle Fires HD, a $25 amazon gift card, 25 signed paperbacks, or 40 digital books. Read more »

Sep 25, 2012 - Interviews    Comments Off on Interview With Noah Beck

Interview With Noah Beck

Today I have an interview with Noah Beck, the author of the novel “The Last Israelis“.

JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?

NB: Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you. To answer your question,  I’ve been telling stories and writing creatively since I was a child growing up on the West Coast of the USA. Despite my early literary leanings, two Ivy League degrees (or, more precisely, the debt that accompanied them) diverted me to over a decade of corporate jobs. But I kept my sanity with extensive journaling and globetrotting to over fifty countries, while maintaining a large collection of story ideas waiting to be developed when I finally decided to focus on my passion.

JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?

NB: Writing this novel was one of the most exhausting things I’ve ever done because I wrote it in a mere ten weeks. During this time, I was not only drafting but also researching a plethora of story details (relating to Middle East history and geography, the military capabilities of Iran, the USA, and Israel, submarine technology and warfare, etc.). I also substantially rewrote the novel in response to feedback from early readers. So I slept 3-5 hours a night, and spent all of my other time in front of my laptop, except when I needed to leave my apartment for things like food. Why the mad rush to churn out a novel so fast? Because my main motivation for writing it was to impact public opinion and hopefully get world leaders to take the Iranian nuclear threat more seriously before Iran actually gets nukes. So I had to get the book out ASAP or the whole endeavor could be moot.

JGA: How do you personally like to read books you buy these days?

NB: I see advantages to all of the different methods/formats, so I don’t really have a preferred method. If I’m going to the beach, paper is best. But if I want to have a large variety of reading options at my disposal, e-books are the way to go.

JGA: Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why?

NB: When I write I try to be guided by the subject matter and the characters rather than the writing style of other authors. Of course, there are only so many plot permutations that any submarine thriller can realistically take, so there are bound to be other novels in that genre that contain basic similarities. To the extent that “The Last Israelis” may seem similar to anything else, it is a function of the limited plot possibilities for the genre rather than any specific influences that inspired me. Everything I wrote was dictated by the elements comprising the novel: the original characters that I had imagined specifically for this story (with their different worldviews, family histories, habits, etc.) and the dramatic possibilities that present themselves when Iran gets a nuclear weapon and these very diverse men must together confront the unthinkable.

JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?

NB: For “The Last Israelis” I spent a good deal of time outlining the basic plot and writing up character sketches before delving into the actual drafting. But there was also a lot of rewriting involved, so that could mean that I didn’t plan enough before starting the manuscript!

JGA: Why did you decide to write your novel, “The Last Israelis“?

NB: I originally conceived of the story in 2009 as a concept for a screenplay about a doomsday, military showdown between Israel’s Dolphin submarine and a nuclear-armed Iran. The premise was boiling with dramatic potential and the issue deeply troubled me. But writing a screenplay that within months becomes a widely released film is like Ayatollah Khameini taking a phone call from me and agreeing to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program: impossible. So the project of authoring a screenplay that might influence the public debate on an issue that (in my overly optimistic assessment) would become moot in a few years seemed futile. But by the end of March of 2012, after I was still hearing the same type of weak talk and indecision about the Iranian nuclear issue, I resolved to drop everything and work on the story as an e-book, which can be released instantly. By 2012, e-books had also gained a far greater acceptance in the market, so self-publishing my novel seemed like a viable strategy for disseminating my doomsday warning about the perils of a nuclear Iran.

JGA: Can you talk a bit about the main characters in your novel. What sort of people are they, and how did they grow and change from your initial ideas for them?

NB: The complex mix of characters sharing the cramped hull of the submarine in my story is very much a microcosm of the diverse Israeli society sharing a tiny country. There are two grandsons of Holocaust survivors but with diametrically opposed lessons and worldviews produced by their similar family histories; their clashing ideologies make for some of the most intense conflicts in the story. Among the other characters are: two native Arabic speakers (a Christian and a Druze), the son of Persian Jews who escaped from the 1979 Iranian revolution, an Ethiopian who crossed Sudan by foot as a child to reach Israel, religious Jews who serve on a mostly secular crew, and an officer who is secretly gay and struggles with whether to come out to his crewmates.

As for how these characters changed over the course of the drafting of the novel, there is a potentially lengthy answer for every major character and it would likely involve many plot spoilers, so I’d rather pass on that part of the question.

JGA: Who are the readers who would enjoy “The Last Israelis” the most?

NB: I think the book’s style and substance will most appeal to readers interested in:

* The potential showdown between Israel and Iran
* Apocalyptic stories about nuclear war
* Psychological drama and suspense
* Philosophical debates
* Character studies
* Geopolitical and/or military thrillers

JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?

NB: I am toying with the idea of a thriller that is much less controversial (in the sense that it won’t be about any hot issue dominating the headlines) and will be more in the genre of science fiction with a focus on questions of memory and perception. I realize that this sounds rather vague and abstract but that’s partly because I haven’t begun brainstorming about the idea in earnest and partly because I’d rather wait until I’ve written something before announcing that I’ve written it!

JGA: Is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t asked?

NB: I have used the book as a kind of platform for grassroots activism on the Iranian nuclear issue. Those who want to learn about various organizations focused on the issue can find a list on the right side of this page of my web site (where there is also more background information): http://thelastisraelis.com/iranian-threat/ . I also regularly share articles relating to the issue of Iranian nukes on the book’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TheLastIsraelis).

You can buy Noah’s book on Amazon.

Sep 4, 2012 - Interviews    Comments Off on Interview With Christian Porter

Interview With Christian Porter

Today I have an interview with new author, Christian Porter. Christian has just finished his first novel, Shadow Precinct, an intriguing-sounding science fiction story. Shadow Precinct will be released on October 19, so we’re getting a bit of a sneak peak at this upcoming story 🙂

JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?

CP: Thank you for having me!  My name is Christian Porter and I am a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C.  My degree is in Computer Science and shortly after I graduated I landed a job as a programmer/designer for a small video game company based out of Baton Rouge.  It was cool because it was close to my hometown of New Orleans and I met some really awesome and talented friends while there.  The idea for Shadow Precinct initially started as a video game, but after I left the company, I found myself still coming up with ideas for it.  I met Rochelle through a mutual friend and we had a conversation where she suggested writing as a creative outlet to string all of these ideas together.  That’s when I began to actually put it together in book form.

JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?

CP: When I had all my background history fleshed out and knew where I wanted to go with the story, I committed myself to working on it as much as I could.  I used my laptop primarily, but whenever I had an idea or even just some cool lines in my head, I’d write them down or type them up in my phone.  I tried to dedicate even a little of time to writing as much as I could.  Sometimes it would only be a couple lines.  I never felt like I forced it, but I made a conscious effort to keep ideas fresh in my head, trying to refine different aspects.

JGA: How do you personally like to read books you buy these days?

CP: I enjoy reading novels and short stories.  Of course I have a love for graphic novels and comics as well.  The shift into digital literature has made so many different types of books accessible, which is so awesome.  I typically read them on my laptop or an e-reader.  I have the kindle app on my phone as well.

JGA: Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why? 

CP: Authors I would say Phillip K. Dick was a huge influence.  Specifically Ubiq and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which inspired the Blade Runner film, are two of my favorite sci-fi literary works.  Kurt Vonnagut’s Slaughterhouse Five was another that I drew from, the dark humor and unorthodox storytelling method.  I think both of those authors have a way of telling real, character driven stories amidst really cool sci-fi backdrops.  As far as contemporary authors, I think Seth Graham-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies gave me an idea of how to mash up a lot of my ideas into something that was coherent.  He also had a heavy martial arts angle in that book that I loved.  Junot Diaz’ The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, I just love how that story is told.  Diaz never sacrificed his voice as an author, it showed through his writing.  You could get a sense of his personality through his writing and that was something that I wanted to achieve as well.  George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series showed me incredible scale and attention to detail in creating a rich history and background for his world.

JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?

CP: The first thing I do is try to consolidate all of my ideas.  When I started, a lot of the things that I wanted to incorporate into the story were very all over the place.  I had ideas for character names, some descriptions of places, and certain visuals that I wanted to convey.  I had video clips and reference pictures in there, too.  I had pretty much anything that I could use to guide me in developing the look and feel of the setting and characters.  At that point, I made an outline, where I specified characters, locations, events, cool set pieces that I had in my mind, and big plot points.  All of this gradually grew into my Info Bible, which is still growing, and something that I constantly reference to make sure I’m not running into any continuity issues and whatnot.  Defintely, definitely, make an outline before writing the story.

JGA: Can you talk a bit about the main character, Everett Santeaux. What sort of person is he? How much did he change and evolve in your mind as you were writing the novel?

CP: Yeah, so Everett as a character is one of those guys who just exudes a coolness without trying.  He’s a guy that’s hard to read in that regard, because he doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve.  He’s not just a stone-faced type of guy either, he’s kind of a smart ass.  He’ll say something funny in a situation where humor is in short supply.  When everyone else is being serious, he may say something off the wall for no one else’s amusement but his own.  He has a bit of an ego as well, being who he is and what he does.  All in all, he’s a man deathly serious about his business, but his personality shines through more often than not.  It was interesting to write the character because the structure of the story hops back and forth through time, so we get to see Everett at different ages.  I wanted to show different events in his life that helped to define the man that he becomes.  It was challenging at times to have to think about what would Everett be like as an eight year old.  What about a teenager?  It was important that I showed the progression from quiet and reserved to the lovable jerk that he is by showing how he reacts to different events and different people

JGA: Who are the readers who would enjoy “Shadow Precinct” the most? 

CP: I wanted to inject Shadow Precinct with all of the things that I loved and influenced me to write.  I’d say fans of Science-Fiction, crime mysteries, martial arts films, comic books, anime, and hip hop music would find something to like in Shadow Precinct.  My hope is that it’s a little something for everyone in there.

JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?

CP: Right now, it’s just all about Shadow Precinct and getting the word out about it.  I’m also deep into the process of writing part two of this trilogy.  It’s been going well thus far, fleshing out more history, introducing new characters and places, and making sure it all ties together.  I want to inject some more science fiction elements into the saga of Shadow Precinct, maybe some mystical elements as well, but I don’t want to give too much up!

JGA: If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?

CP: I’d say George R.R. Martin.  I’d love to give it a go at a fantasy themed novel at some point, put my own spin on it.  But his novels are so loved by so many people, it’d be cool to see what that’s like from his perspective.

JGA: Is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t asked?

CP: Shadow Precinct will is available for pre-sale now at www.azizapublishing.com but won’t be out for mainstream release until October 19th, 2012. Until then you can check out the website, shadowprecinct.com, read the prologue and check out some cool concept art.  Follow me on twitter @ShadowPrecinct for more updates.  Thanks so much for having me!