C. G. Eberle: A mystery author who believes in honor, justice, truth, and freedom.

I’d like to introduce C.G. Eberle (Christopher), another one of my fellow Melange Books, LLC authors, and his latest work, Killer Holidays; A John Seraph Anthology

Short Bio: Born in Buffalo, New York, C.G. was adopted by George & Dottie Eberle and raised in the Irish neighborhood of South Buffalo, where he still lives today. C.G. has been a comic book fan since he was five years old and began writing & drawing his own home made comics back then. His real interest in writing began in high school when he discovered the 1970’s television series Kolchak: the Night Stalker. He began writing as a hobby, then after reading an article re: the birth of a white buffalo in 1994 C.G. began writing THE RAINBOW WARRIOR. It took ten years & seven re-writes for him to get published. In the meantime C.G. began work on the follow-up books & the companion book, THE ERA OF HEROES, which was published in 2006.

A writer since he was 5 years old, Chris started with his homemade comic books and story books, and then seriously took to writing in high school. While in college, studying English Education, C.G. was published twice in 2004 & 2006, and then switched gears to one of his major passions, mysteries. Besides writing C.G. also is a amateur Old West Historian, an avid classic movie fan & collector, a lover of most styles of music, an avid reader, a student of crypto zoology, an amateur Ripperologist, and dabbles in the kitchen quite well.

C.G. began work on his first mystery FAMILY TIES but filed away the idea for a few years as he wrote & polished THE RAINBOW WARRIOR. Then finally he returned to FAMILY TIES, which took four years to write and, thanks to Nancy Schumacher & Melange Books, LLC,was published in October 2013.

FAMILY TIES was inspired by the missing person/homicide case of Chandra Levy, who was killed on May,1st, 2001. To a degree C.G. became mildly obsessed with the Levy case, which was THE major news story for 2001. Intensive coverage continued until news of the September 11 attacks supplanted the media’s coverage of the Levy case. After the 9/11 attacks knocked the Levy case seemingly out of the news, C.G. followed the case as best he could, and knew it was becoming an inspiration of some form, then truly understood what “Ripped from the headlines” meant.

Title of Work: Killer Holidays; A John Seraph Anthology

Genre: mystery

 Tagline: They say the holidays are murder and for John Seraph it’s the truth.

Intended Audience: adult mystery fans

John Seraph, is the eldest of eight children, whose father is the head of ‘The Arm’, the Buffalo, NY Mafia. John walked away from his family to make something of himself, due to a blood oath he made his mother. This is when his life changes in my first mystery FAMILY TIES.Is this your first book?—- No, I’ve written The Rainbow Warrior: GENESIS and The Era of Heroes (through Publish America in 2004 & 2006), and Family Ties and Family Plots (through Melange Books, LLC in 2013 & 2014)

What does your writing process look like?—- I’ve taken a page from Janet Evanovich’s How I Write. In her book about her processes  Evanovich talks about how she builds a story she’s working on. I adopted a similar process. After I have the basic idea I build from there. I chart out what happens on each day.


Monday; John goes to work, sees A fighting with B, breaks up fight; at home John hears from Denise, then get call from police, A was found dead with John’s name written in blood.

To me it’s a lot like building a house. First you lay the foundation, (the story idea), then build the frame, (know what’s roughly going to happen). After that put up the walls & install the pluming and electrical, (write the story). Another major aspect for me is picking the names of my characters, both good & bad.

One book I’d recommend to anyone looking to be a fiction writer is buy yourself a baby name dictionary. There’s a science behind naming characters and not just picking some names out of the phone book. Character names related to their traits is a real connection and when I find something that work it’s like a flashbulb goes off in my head.

Finally research is a major part of what I do. I’m lucky because it’s something I’m extremely good and enjoy, and I’m very thorough. For example: when I was picking John’s choice in handgun it took me two weeks of solidly researching various handguns until I found exactly what I wanted and needed for John.

I read Janet Evanovich’s How I Write, as well.  I highly recommend her book as well as Stephen King’s On Writing, etc.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?—- The folks at Melange asked me for my ideas regarding what I wanted to see on a cover, then Lynsee Lauritsen, who’s an artist, photographer, and designer who works with Melange Books, LLC, looked at my ideas/suggestions and put together a first draft. She was excellent about working with me, explaining what works and doesn’t work. For Killer Holidays, I wanted an image of ‘John Seraph’ and some sort of holiday theme but wasn’t positive of what. Lynsee came up with the basic concept and she soon banged out the final image. We’ve worked like this for four book covers and it’s been an amazing partnership. With my first mystery, FAMILY TIES, I had this image of what I wanted and it was way to busy. Lynsee cut it down and produced a much better image. Then she was professional enough to explain to me everything I wanted would’ve made the cover to busy & crowded.

As an artist and photographer myself, I can’t say I care for the job she did on your covers. The word “cheesy” comes to mind. They look a bit homemade and “self published”, which is a shame because, from what I’ve seen on her Facebook page, Ms. Lauritsen is actually a very accomplished photographer.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?—- The three authors who’ve been my biggest inspirations are Robert B. Parker, Janet Evanovich, and Sue Grafton. I’d have to say Parker has been a long term motivation for me since I’ve been a fan of his Spenser; for Hire series, and own his entire Spenser series in hardcover. Evanovich has been a major influence on me as well not only thanks to her, How I Write, but whenever I’ve had questions re: writing, she or her representatives have been good enough to answer me back.

How important are names to you in your books?—- This is an extremely important aspect of writing I believe a lot of people tend to forget or overlook. One book I recommend to anyone who’s looking to write fiction is to buy a copy of Dictionary of First Names. This has masculine and feminine names, ethnic origins, definitions of names, and notable examples. This is extremely important and there’s a science behind naming characters. One cannot just pluck names out of the air, I try to pick names relating to my characters’ traits & personalities.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?—-To be honest I’m not positive, I don’t think anyone can honestly answer this question. Hopefully with some hard work, a little luck, some grand support, and a lot of sales, maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to land on the best sellers’ list multiple times and be able to give back to my parents who’ve given me so much. And with a bit more luck maybe have a movie screenplay picked up by a producer.

Have you always enjoyed writing?—- Yes, I began when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I used to write and draw my own little comic books. It wasn’t until I was in high school, about age 17, when my first writing sparks ignited after first being exposed to an old T.V. show, Kolchak; the Night Stalker. Soon after I began writing for my school newspaper, then I began toying with the idea of writing fiction. It was 1994 when I began writing my first book The Rainbow Warrior: GENESIS.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?—- KEEP WRITING!!! You can give in, you can give out, but don’t give up! If you have the idea for a good book, and I don’t just mean fiction, research all you can about whatever topic you’re writing about. Also don’t be afraid to talk to writers who’ve made it. I’m always happy to talk to someone who says “Oh I’ve always wanted to write” or “I’ve got this idea for a book”. Also have some basics on hand; dictionary, thesaurus, a few good notebooks & pens, at least one of each near your bed, if you don’t have a recorder of some kind. And if you do take it with when driving. You’ll never when or where an idea will hit you. Also there are a number of books one can find on any number of subjects and about writing, I’d say be selective. A number of these books repeat themselves. If at a book store I look through them and pick the best ones. And don’t be snobby about where you find books & research material. I’ve come across good research books at second hand book stores. The trick is hunting through the piles, racks, and table you’ll come across

What (when not writing) do you do to support yourself?—- Currently I’m working at the new Buffalo Bills Store, at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. It can be rough at times, but it’s a good job and I work with a good solid crew.

What are you working on now?—- Currently I awaiting the edits of my next book Family Education, which should be debuting sometime in 2015. I’m also writing the fifth book in my series, Family Friend, with plans for my next three books, what I’m calling my serial thriller, the Father’s Day Saga. The Saga will take place over the course of three books and three individual mysteries, the stories will have a sub-plot of a story arch that will change not just John Seraph’s life but almost everyone he knows. I am also working on a Year-0 John Seraph story, which takes place before Family Ties. This is sort of an origins story and explains a bit and takes place before he changed his name. I’m planning on self-publishing this Year-0 story as an e-book and giving it away for free.

It is great to hear that you are busy writing and getting the support you need from your publisher. I hope the best for you and your work!

What is your biggest failure?—- Driving my best friend and the only woman I ever loved out of my life. There isn’t a day I don’t think about her, the mistakes I made, and how’s she is doing.

That sounds like a memoir in the making!

What do you want your tombstone to say?—- Hopefully it’ll read: Christopher G. Eberle (C.G. Eberle); Loving husband, father, son, brother, and loyal friend. A mystery author who believed in honor, justice, truth, and freedom.

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Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?-— Italy. I mean the whole country, all 21 regions. If I had the money and time I’d start in the Northern region and make my throughout the entire country and soak up as much of the culture and the people as I can.

CGE image3(Stock Image)

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I hope you’re learning to speak the language!

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?—- Find the true love of my life, make her mine, live happily ever after. I’m doubtful of all this, so I’ll have to settle for making writing my career, becoming extremely good at it, and providing for my parents, brother, sister

Never doubt yourself!

Please describe something you “deleted” from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit THE DELTE KEY!—- In 1994 when I was writing my first book, The Rainbow Warrior, I had a nightmarish image for my hero, of downtown Buffalo obliterated, and the HSBC Tower having been obliterated. Now during my rewrites after September,11th, 2001 I knew I had to change the scene, so I made the Tower still standing but with an almost, demented, demonic, Jack O’ Lantern face blown into the side of the building.

Contact Information:

Website: http://cavillier1970.wix.com/theamateurdetective#

Blog: http://cavillier1970.wix.com/theamateurdetective

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/chris.eberle.353

CGE image1Downtown Buffalo at dusk. (stock image)


Publisher’s Website: http://www.melange-books.com/index.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/C.-G.-Eberle/e/B00HX5PT6U/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1422556691&sr=1-2

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23880558-killer-holidays-a-john-seraph-anthology

Other Interviews: http://joannemyers.blogspot.com/2015/01/author-spotlight-on-christopher-g-eberle.html?zx=378fbe3d9fa2b6d0

I really enjoy interviewing authors and making them a part of my blog,

especially those who are fellow Melange authors

and those whom I’ve met in this industry

who have encouraged and inspired me.



Love is a Mystery… an Indecipherable Mystery in Augustine Sam’s Novel, Take Back the Memory

This blog has blessed me with the opportunity to reconnect with some of the friends I’ve made who, like me, are fulfilling their passion of writing and enduring the common obstacles encountered with the next steps of publishing and promoting.

This blog has also provided the opportunity to make new friends in the industry, learning more about them, and offering them a platform to share their experiences with my readers.Augustine-author-picture

As is the case with Augustine Sam whom I met via my publisher, Melange Books, LLC.

Augustine Sam is a bi-lingual journalist and an award-winning poet.

A member of the U.K. Chartered Institute of Journalists, he was formerly Special Desk editor at THISDAY newspapers, an authoritative third world daily, first published in collaboration with the Financial Times of London.

He later became correspondent for central Europe. His poems have been published in two international anthologies: The Sounds of Silence & Measures of the Heart. One of his poems: Anguish & Passion was the winner of the Editor’s Choice Awards in the North America Open Poetry Contest, USA.

Take Back the Memory

Contemporary Women’s Fiction

 Love is a mystery… an indecipherable mystery.

Intended for an Adult Audience

What would you do if you found out your husband of thirty years is not who you thought he was? What would you do if you suddenly discovered that you have indeed had the one thing you had yearned for all your life without realizing it?

Now, imagine a woman transformed from psychiatrist to patient, and lured into a compelling backward journey through her own life on a psychotherapist’s couch. Imagine skeletons from the past pulling her back into the vortex of darkness from which she thought she had escaped. Paige Lyman is a woman conned by fate, and now plagued by damning memories she must decipher in order to be free. Augustine Sam’s Take Back the Memory is a psychological exposé on love, betrayal, vengeance, and a heart-wrenching secret.

Now a little more about Augustine: 

What does your writing process look like?

Actually, it’s a simple process; I sit in front of the pc and stare at the screen. I stare at it until I come up with a satisfactory opening line. I smile at the scene unfolding in my mind’s eye and begin to write. When I’m done I ‘walk away’ from it for a while (which could be days in some cases) and try to forget the expressions used so that when I eventually come back to it, I can view it from a reader’s standpoint and spot any structural weakness.

I’ve worked that way as well. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I don’t know if this constitutes a strange writing habit but I enjoy listening to radio news broadcasts while writing. Sometimes I prefer a little musical distraction, especially movie scores like Ennio Morricone’s.

I usually have ID Investigation Discovery on the television. You never know when something will spark an idea for a plot or character! Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

No, definitely not. I take immense pleasure writing every scene that is part of my story.

Now that is a great attitude! Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

This has never crossed my mind. I suppose my journalism background makes it impossible for me to shy away from any subject.

Good point! How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

I struggled with it for a long time. In fact, the first drafts I sent out had a very different title. Finally, I re-evaluated the plot development and decided the title should reflect the core element of the story.  

Finding a catchy title that will SELL the book is a challenge. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it?

One of the first things I really liked about the book was the cover art. It was designed by Stephanie Bibb.

Here’s a SHOUT OUT to Stephanie Bibb! I like the way she layers her work. Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

At first, I didn’t quite know what my book cover should look like. I made suggestions based on some scenes in the book that I thought could capture the essence of the story but when Stephanie read the book blurb, she came up with a totally different idea that got my attention immediately.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Oscar Wilde & Nathaniel Hawthorne

I recall reading them both in school. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Paige Lyman is definitely my favorite character; she is, of course, the protagonist of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed creating this seemingly self-destructive and complicated woman, who found herself in the place where dreams ended and nightmares began.

How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

I don’t have a least favorite character per se; they all played different, and I must say, vital roles that helped enhance the story.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

At the risk of sounding immodest, I would want Meryl Streep to play the adult Paige Lyman and the French actress, Bérénice Marlohe, to play the younger version of the character. I would cast Richard Gere as the psychologist, Dr. Wilson, and the English actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, as Stern W.

Great cast! As a journalist/fiction writer, have you always enjoyed writing?

Yes, I have always enjoyed writing. The only time in my life that I truly feel alive is when I am writing.

I know, that is a great feeling!  What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Review it and tell others about it.

Word of mouth is the key and is SOOOO easy! What do you wear while writing?

In summer, just shorts, and in winter, whatever I’m comfortable in.

I’ve adopted a lined shirt that I feel super comfy wearing, which is why I ask. Do you drink or smoke?

Yes, I smoke a pipe, and I enjoy a glass of red wine now and then.

A writer at his computer, a glass of red wine sparkling in the monitor’s glow, and a pipe, unlit, nestled in its holder.  I’d say that’s a pretty cool image! What is your biggest fear?

Being unable to fulfill myself as a successful writer.

If it weren’t for my “day job” and my husband’s career, I’d be fearful of supporting myself, but the fact that I PUBLISHED really helps. What do you want your tombstone to say?

Augustine Sam – author, poet, stranger.

Very interesting! If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?

The ability to read minds.

I know, right? What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

Write a timeless piece.

I like that!  What were you like as a child?

As a child, I was exactly as I am today – introverted and very organized.

What was your favorite toy?

I don’t remember having toys.

Well, that is something very poignant. Do you recall your dreams? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?

Sometimes I recall my dreams; some of them are actually nightmares.

And that is rather profound! What is your favorite song?

I have more than one favorite song; the first one that comes to mind is Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heavens’ Door.”

That’s a good one. I’ll probably not be able to get it out of my head today. What is your favorite Fiction/Non-Fiction book?

The Collected Oscar Wilde / A Long Walk to Freedom

What is your favorite movie?

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Now THAT is a funny movie!

Please describe something you “deleted” from your work and why. Because…A  real writer knows when to hit THE DELETE KEY!

I deleted an entire scene from the book—a racy scene—that I thought was too descriptive. I also deleted an entire chapter about the protagonist’s childhood years because I thought dwelling too much on the flashback might weaken the connecting chapter.


Augustine’s Poetry Inspiring Image From a Trip to the Archipelago











International Poet of Merit Award Silver BowlAwards:

Editors’ Choice Award

(for poem: Anguish & Passion)

in the North America Open Poetry Contest

International Poet of Merit Award Silver Bowl Award

It has been a pleasure to get know you, Augustine,

and I hope you keep me updated on your continued success.


D. G. Driver on PASSING NOTES in the Age of Texting.

Hello readers!

I’d like to introduce D. G. Driver, a fellow Melange Book, LLC (Fire and Ice YA) author.


D. G. Driver is a member of SCBWI Midsouth and lives near Nashville, TN.

She has published several award-winning and critically acclaimed non-fiction works as Donna Getzinger.

In 2014 her first YA novel, Cry of the Sea was published under her new name D. G. Driver.  Passing Notes is her second YA book published by Fire and Ice Young Adult.

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Passing Notes

YA romance: 12 and Up

Driver PassingNotes

When Mark struggles to find a way to win the love of the perfect girl, can a ghost with a talent for writing love letters help him?

I got the idea for this story when one of my step-daughters was in a relationship where she and her boyfriend only communicated through texts. I wondered why they never actually talked and also wondered what ever happened to writing real love letters.

That sounds like my youngest son and his girlfriend!

And now to get to know Donna better! Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) List other titles if applicable.

Passing Notes is not my first book. I published three middle grade novels, a couple theater books, and five nonfiction works all under the name Donna Getzinger.

My biographies on Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel, and my book on The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire are all still in print (www.morganreynolds.com)

In 2014, Fire and Ice Young Adult Novels published my first YA novel Cry of the Sea, a fantasy about the discovery of real mermaids. I also had a story published in an anthology of pirate stories called A Tall Ship, A Star, and Plunder. This year I’ll see the release of Passing Notes and a middle grade novel titled No One Needed to Know, being published by Schoolwide Inc.

You’ve been a very busy lady! What does your writing process look like?

I have a full time job and a family, so I don’t get to write as much as I would like. I also devote a lot of my evening time to doing promotion. I tend to do two blocks of writing on Saturdays and Sundays, in the morning and the afternoon. When I get myself in the chair and focus, I can usually write pretty fast. For novels, I usually have a rough outline of the plot, and then sometimes I actually follow it a little bit.

Driver DeskFinding time with work and family is very challenging but it sounds like you’ve got it figured out. Where do you write?

I mostly write in my home office. It is very messy and undecorated. I have dreams of making it nice someday, but it seems to be the catch-all room in the house and even when it’s clean, it’s still a mess. Two Christmases ago, my husband bought me a new office chair that is really comfortable, and I love it.

Comfy chairs are a must! Do you have any strange writing habits?

No, I can’t say that I do. I do like to read my stories out loud to find where the problems are, but I won’t do it if people can hear me. I have to wait until no one is home.

I like to do that, too! Are you a plotter or a pantster (writing by the seat of your pants)?

I do plot. I like to know where the story is going. My outlines are little paragraphs of what I think will be in each chapter. I amend it as I go if my story takes a turn or I wind up adding new characters. I’ve never wound up with the same story I started out writing.

That’s got to make creating your summary a lot easier. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? 

I don’t write racy stuff. I write pretty sweet YA. I had a ghostwriting gig a couple years ago writing romance novellas, and I drank some wine as I wrote to loosen me up.

A bit of wine can do the trick! Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? 

I don’t think I see myself ever writing science fiction. Too many gadgets and spaceships. I love reading it, though.

I’ve a Sci-Fi I’m working on and you’re right, it gets complicated. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

In the story, Mark is learning to write a love letter through these little yellow notes he keeps finding hidden in his backpack or desk. It turns out the notes are being written by a ghost. I liked the play on Passing Notes, something kids do at school and passing referring to the writer of the notes being dead.

That is clever! What book do you wish you could have written?

Harry Potter, so I could be known as a genius and also be a millionaire.

Don’t we all! Plus, they really are very good stories. What other books/authors are similar to your own? What makes them similar?

I read a ton of YA, but I don’t read a ton of romance novels. I’m not sure off hand what book would be like Passing Notes.

I’ve read a few YAs recently. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

My covers for both Cry of the Sea and Passing Notes were done by Caroline Andrus. She is one of the publishers and cover artists for Fire and Ice Young Adult/Melange Books. I gave her some info about the book characters and setting, and she created these beautiful covers. I’m very proud of them.

Here’s a Shout Out to Caroline Andrus! Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

We have a great group of authors here in the Midsouth group of SCBWI. I’ve really looked up to: Tracy Barrett, Sharon Cameron, Ruta Sepetys, and Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (among others) who are all successful writers but still willing to share their knowledge and friendship. Famous authors that inspired me were Judy Blume and Stephen King for providing the very wide spectrum of stuff I like to read and write.

I do love Stephen King (I just finished ready Mr. Mercedes) and I’ve enjoyed Judy Blume’s books and characters as well. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

My favorite character is Mark, the main character. I think that he is very sweet and humble. He adores Bethany and wants to be what she needs so badly. He’s also good to his family.

How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

My least favorite characters are Bethany’s friends Kat and Lissy. They are very dismissive of Mark, and they are rude.

Those are fun to write! If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

I’ve thought about this a lot for my novel Cry of the Sea, but I haven’t at all thought of Passing Notes as a movie. Probably because it’s kind of short. I’m sure my 13 year old daughter would know exactly who should be playing each part.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

I am a teacher, and I often use names from kids I’ve had in my classes, although I will mix up the first names with last names. Sometimes I will pull names from my childhood, kids I used to go to school with.

One of my college degrees is in Art Education, but since my husband (a pilot) is away so much of the time, I am a substitute teacher and I work for a company involved in teacher’s education. So, I am around a lot people and I often ask them what they are reading. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?

I tried to think of how to make it longer – into a full-length novel, but I couldn’t do it without changing a lot of the story and making it too convoluted.

Most people have no idea how hard it is to write a short story or novella and keep it clean a crisp. Talk about using your delete key! What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

I’m most proud of my novel Cry of the Sea, which was released last year.

Good for you! Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

My hope is to land an agent one of these days and get picked up by one of the bigger publishers. I’d like to see my children’s and YA novels in schools and libraries. I’d like to be doing a lot more school appearances.

I think that’s wonderful idea. Have you always enjoyed writing?

Yes. I wrote as a hobby as a kid and through school. My goal was to become an actress, not an author, but after being asked to write a couple plays, I decided to pursue writing as a career path. I’ve been published for 20 years now.

I enjoy being an actress, too.  My experience really helps me as a storyteller. BUT…it does take a lot of time away from writing. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Keep writing. You get better as you go. Don’t submit stuff until it’s been revised and cleaned a couple times. Don’t take no as an answer. There’s more than one publisher and more than one agent.

Very good points! Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

Yes I read them. Knock on wood, so far I’ve only gotten good ones.

Congratulations! What (when not writing) do you do to support yourself?

I am the lead teacher in the infant room of a Child Development Center.

How sweet! But why did I think you’d work with middle school students. Hmmm. Do you have any other talents or hobbies?

I am an actress/singer/dancer and was a professional performer in my twenties. I even danced at Disneyland in the parades for my high school job! Now I do community theater for fun.

How much fun is that!!!! I was a balloon wrangler for a Christmas parade at Universal Studios! But seriously, what is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?


Ditto! What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Tell a friend about it. Follow me on FB, Twitter or Instagram and like or share my posts.

Getting people to post reviews on Amazon is tough, but rating your book on Goodreads, “Liking” and “Sharing” is an easy way to show support. What is your best marketing tip?

I’m still learning, and I don’t know if I have a great tip for marketing. My most successful author friends seem to have a lot of friends that support them. I suggest finding friends like that.

Send a few my way! Do you have a favorite conference to attend? What is it?

I try to always to attend the SCBWI Midsouth Fall Conference in Nashville

Good for you! I’ve got a children’s book that my son was supposed to illustrate this past summer. THAT didn’t happen! What are you working on now?

The sequel to Cry of the Sea.

Sequels are what sell! What is your next project?

Cleaning up a middle grade novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo about dragons.

Kudos to you! I tried NaNoWriMo and lasted about three days! What can we expect from you in the future?

More, I hope.

What do you wear while writing?

I am usually in sweats or jeans and a sweatshirt on the weekends when I’m writing.

I keep thinking that I’m going to get a “shirt” to write in. I’ve already worn a pair of overalls out as an artist, so I like the idea of having the “look” of an artist/writer. Speaking of looks, have you ever dyed your hair an unusual color?

I’ve dyed my hair most colors. I’m afraid of tattoos ( the permanence) but hair can be changed. I’ve had it bright red and a little pink. I was platinum blonde for a while because I was doing a one woman show in Hollywood about the life and music of Doris Day (which I wrote as well). Lately, though, I’ve stuck to various shades of brown.

That’s pretty cool! My mother looks like Doris Day…but I didn’t get her genes. What is your biggest fear?

Being burned alive. I can’t even watch movies about firemen. Unfortunately, I love witch stories, and that seems to come up a lot in those plots. Maybe I was a witch in a former life.

Yikes! I wonder what I was in a former life since I have a fear of driving of bridges? Hmmmm. Anyway…if you had a supernatural power, what would it be?

I’d like to be able to split into several clones so I could get more done in a day.

BRILLIANT! Now for something more intimate. Do you make up your bed every morning?

I do make my bed every day.

I wish I had that discipline, or desire! 🙂 What is on your bed right now?

I made two crocheted blankets for my husband and me two years ago to match our bedding and replaced the ones his mother made, which were getting kind of worn.

Sounds romantic! Speaking of romance…Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

I really, really, really want to get to Venice one day.

I really, really, really hope you get to go!

Now, please describe something (significant number of words/a character/entire scene) you “deleted” from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit THE DELTE KEY!

My original version of Passing Notes was intended to be a short story that I was going to submit for an anthology of ghost stories. I over-wrote it (as I always do with short stories). With help from a friend, I had to cut about 2,500 words out of it. We pruned it like a Bonzai tree to get it to the right word count. It didn’t get accepted to the anthology, and I didn’t know what to do with it. Last year, I decided to try stretching it into a novel. It wound up tripling in size, but it didn’t get anywhere near a novel. So, in the end, I added rather than deleted, but all the original cuts we made are still there.

Now that’s what I call EDITING!

Thank you, Donna, for this great interview. It is always a pleasure to meet YA authors because I believe young people should be doing a lot more reading and less time playing video games! (As I keep telling my two sons!) I have really enjoyed getting to know you and I look forward to following you career. 


Jeffrey Cook, A Giant-Hammer-Wielding Barbarian Who Rides a Triceratops. Read On!

I’d like to introduce a fellow Melange Books, LLC author, Jeffrey Cook. It is always fun to meet so much creativity wrapped up in one person!

Author Jeffrey Cook lives in Maple Valley, Washington, with his wife and three large dogs. He was born in Boulder, Colorado, but has lived all over the United States. He’s contributed to a number of role-playing game books for Deep7 Press out of Seattle, Washington, but the Dawn of Steam series are his first novels.

When not reading, researching or writing, Jeffrey enjoys role-playing games and watching football.

Title of Work: Mina Cortez: From Bouquets to Bullets

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Tagline: She’d never said, “I want to join the Secret Police when I grow up.”

Intended Audience: 14+ Audiences, fans of science fiction and mysteries, and especially those who would like to see more female/minority leads in YA.

Provide an enticing, titillating, interesting, or fun fact about your book or series: My wife’s favorite character in the story is Amiko Kimura’s ‘Undead’ Chevrolet, Vlad.

  1. Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) List other titles if applicable.

This is my fourth book, though it will be released a little bit before the third in my alternate-history/steampunk series. I’m also the author of the Dawn of Steam series, a trilogy of regency-voiced novels set from 1815-1819.

Dawn of Steam: First Light

Dawn of Steam: Gods of the Sun

and the upcoming Dawn of Steam: Rising Suns.

Co-contributor Sarah Symonds also lives in Washington. Born and raised in Seattle, she left for college and promptly came back. Sarah has been writing for fun since high school and tends towards short-shorts or novels. When not working on her own novels, Sarah enjoys costuming, fiber arts, and making Jeff explain football.

  1. What does your writing process look like?

I work closely with my editor, and sometime co-writer. By her preference, rather than getting things to the second or third draft, I send things to her as each chapter is done, and she does the clean-up work while I’m working on the next chapter. By the time I see it again, the work is usually up to third-draft quality. Then I start on re-writes.

  1. Where do you write?

I have an old armchair in the living room. (Which is in desperate need of replacement.)

  1. Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

Most of my odd habits center around having three large dogs. I get a lot of the busy-work, like social media things, done during the day when they’re most active and excitable, and then actually do new writing once they’ve gone to bed.

  1. Are you a plotter or a pantster?

I’m a hybrid. I work up an outline that gives me a rough idea for each chapter. Then, I let the characters and story take the lead, and scrap the outline every week or so and do a new one. I find that having the guide and end-goal is helpful, as long as I don’t let it get too restrictive.

  1. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

I haven’t done any love stories. Eventually, that may change, but so far, I’ve felt like there was enough of those out there in my genres, and I wanted to focus this book, in particular, on being more of a buddy-story between the two female leads.

  1. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

There’s plenty of subjects I haven’t written about, but none that I can think of that I definitely wouldn’t. That said, I’m a fiction writer and happy that way. The only non-fiction even remotely on the agenda is an eventual book explaining American football in plain, easy-to-follow language, targeted at people who are curious, but not comfortable talking to the fandom crowd. As such, there’s probably a number of topics that will never come up.

  1. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

This book actually originally started with the title “The Accidental Inquisitor”, because of the origins of the inspiration for the book. The publisher didn’t care for the title, feeling it would put off the YA audience, so there was a lot of discussion on their message boards looking for alternate ideas. I eventually went with the one that stayed mostly true to the sci-fi/action nature of the book, while alluding to the main character starting as a flower delivery girl.

  1. What book do you wish you could have written?

I’d have loved to have written something like the Lord of the Rings, laying the foundations and world-building for a genre.

  1. What other books/authors are similar to your own? What makes them similar?

For betas and advance reviewers, I’ve gotten the most comparisons, in terms of Mina Cortez, to the Nancy Drew mysteries. The Dawn of Steam novels are compared most often to Jules Verne’s stories. I’m quite happy with both comparisons.

  1. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

Caroline Andrus with Melange Books/Fire & Ice YA designed the cover, as part of the contract agreement. Her work was better than anything I’d imagined, and I was especially pleased with the atmosphere, method of highlighting Mina, and that she found an Asian girl in a fedora. All in all, she did great work.

  1. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

My favorite authors include Clavell, Mary Shelley and Tolkien. At the time I first began wanting to write books myself, my biggest influences were C.S. Lewis and James Howe.

  1. Who is your favorite character from your book and why? How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

From this book, Amiko Kimura (Miko) was the most fun and the easiest to write. She has a lot of the best lines, and brings a lot of the snark and high-energy approach that Mina lacks.

I’m not sure I have a least favorite, per se, though writing Mina’s parents, and having them involved, without making them “the bad guys” or too one-dimensional was a challenge, with the time they do have. On the other hand, I really wanted them to exist and have a place in Mina’s life, as parents are often very absent in YA.

  1. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

This is somewhat tough, as there’s a limited number of young, Hispanic actresses, and just as much of a lack of young Japanese actresses. If it ever happened, I’d really prefer the actresses be of the right ethnicities. Hollywood does enough white-washing. Victoria Justice or Selina Gomez could probably play Mina. Fumi Nikaido would make a great Amiko. Aoi Miyazaki would normally be too old, but she loves the bouncy, geeky girl roles, and looks very young for her age.

  1. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

I try to choose names pretty carefully. Sometimes it’s for meaning, sometimes for just sounding right. In Mina Cortez, I wanted to make sure I chose names that would give a little bit of idea of the characters right away. In some other books, like Dawn of Steam, the character Sam Bowe got the name both from wanting something nice and simple and plain, but also drawing on old west history – mixing Samuel Colt and Jim Bowie.

  1. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?

I’d have loved to have had more chances to show the world, and world-building that went into the book, as the idea for the setting actually happened before the characters came about to populate it, and a lot of time and discussion and speculation went into creating it. I sacrificed a lot of exposition for a tighter narrative (with tremendous thanks to my initial editor on that) – and I’m glad I did, it improves the story. But I’d also have loved to share the many hours that went into building the post-post-apocalyptic setting of Mina Cortez. (The book is set 114 years after a global disaster. It was catastrophic, and changed the world – but to the teenagers in the book, it’s as remote a time as the Victorian Age is for modern teens.)

  1. What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

I’m still very proud of having accomplished my dream of becoming a published author before I turned 40. There is nothing I’ve wanted to do more, but it just kept feeling delayed due to the necessities of paying the bills and the like. When I was laid off a few years ago, I decided there was no time like the present, and devoted myself to getting the Dawn of Steam series written.

  1. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I hope to have about 15-20 books out on the market, and hopefully to have built up a reasonable fan following. I love what I’m doing, and don’t plan to stop any time soon.

  1. Have you always enjoyed writing?

My mother says she first heard my claims of wanting to be an author at 6 years old. I know it’s been my dream for most of my life.

  1. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Write, or do something writing related every single day. It’s the one piece of advice I wish I’d followed better back when I was working the soul-and-creativity-killing customer service job. Do it enough, it becomes habit. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, finding that 15 minutes builds good habits and keeps stuff from just sitting in a lost file forever.

  1. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I read every single review. I do not respond to them, ever, on the review boards. I always write an e-mail or social media post thanking the reviewer for taking the time to write a detailed review if I know who it was.

Beyond that, I don’t think I have ever seen anything good come of engaging reviewers, especially over bad reviews. Those areas are for readers and potential readers.

For bad reviews, there’s two main things to remember. One is that having a few less-than-stellar reviews is actually good. If people see nothing but 5-star reviews, the assumption is you have nothing but friends and family reviewing your book.

Secondly, sometimes there is something to be learned from negative reviews. Not everyone will enjoy everything, and sometimes, constructive criticism helps in writing something better later.

That said, if you’re aspiring to be an author: develop a thick skin. If you put yourself out there to the public, they will have opinions, and you won’t like all of them. If you cannot take having your work criticized, this is not the right career path.

  1. What (when not writing) do you do to support yourself?

I do a little bit of tech writing, and write for a local role-playing game company. I worked for years in customer service and online trouble shooting, and before that, I worked as a sports reporter. Even before that, I worked as a bouncer and in home health care to help put myself through college. For the most part, since being laid off from the customer service job in the insurance industry, I’ve been devoting myself to my writing as much as I can.

  1. Do you have any other talents or hobbies?

I’m a huge football fan (Go Seahawks!). I do watch soccer, hockey and baseball as well, but not as fanatically or consistently as football. I’ve also been into role-playing games since I was 8, and continue to play table top games with a local group.

  1. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

It used to be editing. I love writing, and I can put a lot of words on the page pretty quickly. Now that I have a professional editor who helps tremendously with my work, and that I work well with, marketing is quickly taking up the ‘least favorite’ spot. I do enjoy events and getting out and meeting people, but a lot of the social media parts and other aspects of trying to figure out how to sell books are not a lot of fun. It doesn’t help that they take up a lot of the time I could spend on writing.

  1. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

The very biggest thing any reader can do to help an author they enjoy is recommend the book to friends. There is absolutely no better advertising than word-of-mouth, and one word from a friend on how good a book is means far more than a thousand words from the author.

  1. What is your best marketing tip?

Put out your very best work. Have it edited by an unbiased editor. Get it beta read. Do rewrites. Edit some more. And then have a professional looking cover put on it. While there are thousands of factors, including luck, that go into making a book successful or not, and any author these days will have to do almost all of their own marketing without much support, the very best thing you can do for yourself is doing all the things you have total control of in order to set yourself up for success.

  1. Do you have a favorite conference to attend?  What is it?

I love Norwescon. I used to go to the con before I had books out, just as a fan. Now, I can go, enjoy the people, hang out with friends, and get something I’d want to go to anyway to pay for itself.

  1. What are you working on now?

I’m working on the final rewrites and clean-up for the finale (for now) of the Dawn of Steam series, I’m working on a short story for the Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA) anthology, and I’m working on the third draft and first round of major rewrites on the first of a book series being co-written with my editor – the YA Urban Fantasy stories of The Fair Folk Chronicles. Finally, I’m heading up a charity anthology of adaptations of Shakespeare stories into other genres, with all money going to benefit a local animal rescue.

  1. What is your next project?

The next two things on the agenda are the second book of the Fair Folk Chronicles, and the start of Unchosen – a YA fantasy that starts out with “What happens when the Chosen One dies in chapter 1?”

  1. What can we expect from you in the future?

I’ll be starting talks on a new project with author A.J. Downey in April. Right now, I mostly know it involves angels in an urban fantasy. The Fair Folk Chronicles are planned for 4 books, and will probably be a heavy focus for a while, with other projects interspersed with them.

And now for some fun!

1.  Do you have a pet or pets?

I have three large dogs, and always will have dogs around. All of them are rescue dogs, and the anthology I have coming up will go to benefit the rescue. My first book is, in part, dedicated to my beloved and much-missed four-legged sidekick. Khaya used to snooze at my feet while I was writing, waking to growl at her brothers when they got too close and threatened to interrupt my writing time.

  1. Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?

I used to get paid for it, sort of. One of my favorite jobs was working as a bouncer and sometime event security guard, hiring out to work at various places that had live music events in Seattle, Tacoma, and points in between.

3.  If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?

I think my friend, Patrick Lohkamp’s  work-in-progress kind of nails it. In his post-apocalyptic world, he’s re-imagining me as a giant-hammer-wielding barbarian who rides a triceratops. Five-year-old-me could not possibly be happier.

  1. What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

I’ve accomplished my first, great life goal. Now, the next one is to add best-selling to the front of that ‘Author’ title, even once.

  1. What were you like as a child? What was your favorite toy?

My mother liked to say I was three-going-on-thirty. My favorite activity was reading. Being asthmatic probably helped with preferring indoor, quiet activity at times, but I also really started reading really early.

Please describe something (significant number of words/a character/entire scene) you “deleted” from your work and why. Because a real writer knows when to hit THE DELETE KEY!

The original five chapters of this story were rewritten numerous times. They were mostly exposition and world-building, trying to get all the key concepts in. Eventually, they were entirely scrapped and the most critical information was worked into dialogue and snippets, spread out through the early story. It takes longer to get to some of the key ideas, like the skill chips, but the characters come into their own much earlier, and the story is better for it.

Contact Information:

Website: http://www.authorjeffreycook.com/

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/dawnofsteamtrilogy


Publisher’s Website: http://www.fireandiceya.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jeffrey-Cook/e/B00IRMC3H6/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7907166.Jeffrey_Cook

Other Interviews:


Awards & Speaking engagements:

Moonrise Book blog’s Best Science Fiction of 2014.

Jan 14, 2015

Dec 22, 2014
Dawn of Steam: First Light by Jeffrey Cook Published 2014 302 Pages Oftentimes, I
Jan 14, 2015
Jeffrey Cook January 14, 2015 at 3:08 PM. Thank you all so much for running this! And thank you to all the voters. ReplyDelete. Replies. Moonrise Book Blog January 15, 2015 at 11:59 PM. Thanks, Jeffrey :-). Delete. Reply.

Regular readings and signing events at the AFK Elixirs & Eatery in Renton, WA

I’ve really enjoyed this opportunity to get to know Jeffrey and his work!