Author Interview: Jilll Malone

25 01 2013

Hello, Readers!

This week we have interview Jill Malone about her upcoming title Giraffe People which will be out in May, 2013 by Bywater Books. It is a fantastic read about adolescence, rock and roll, love and army life.

1.  What makes a good story?

I prefer character-driven stories with tension and subtlety. Jack Gilbert called it the engine. Is the engine big enough for this story? What kind of engine does this story have? I’m a sucker for grace – for stories that redeem the character(s) in some way. I don’t mean spiritually, but I am talking about soul. Why is this story told with these characters? The story needs to feel surprising, and inevitable. I have to want things with them, and for them. I have to buy in to their conflict in some way. It’s not important to me to like the characters; I’d rather they be recognizable than likeable. I read to be compelled.

2. What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve been writing stories since I remember holding a pencil. I grew up with Bible stories and Shakespeare. My mother read Jane Austen, and bought me piles of mythology stories – Greek, Roman, South Pacific, Norse. My parents read me an odd mix of Southern American writers and English writers, and when I listened to my father’s sermons, I realized they were stories, too. In elementary school I wrote plays for all my friends, and printed newspaper sheets to entertain them. It was more fun to invent news than report actual happenings.

3. How did you come up with the title Giraffe People?

For a while, I wasn’t sure what to call it, but Cole describes her family as Giraffe People early in the manuscript, and it seemed so perfect. They are these strange lumbering creatures — familial and foreign, wandering and tribal. And it allowed for the beautiful awkwardness of Cole herself.

4.  How much of the military life presented in Giraffe People is based off of personal experience?

My father was an Army chaplain for twenty years – he retired when I graduated from high school. The military details are true to my experience as a military brat. I combined the bases at Fort Monmouth and Oahu to allow for richer details and to help camouflage real people. I read this amazing story, Dog Heaven, by Stephanie Vaughn, and it seemed to me that the experience of military dependents was this trove that had rarely been explored.

5. Does Cole’s band, Doggy Life, survive her move to Hawaii?

Probably not, but I imagine something else will find her. The islands are filled with alluring music, and she has learned that new sounds are out there and it’s important to seek them.

6.  Where did the idea for the word lists come from? 

My family did sponsor cadets when I was in school at Fort Monmouth, and the cadets had these awful vocabulary lists they’d bring over to the house. It seemed like the ideal way to allow for a private conversation between Cole and Meghan as well as Cole and the reader. And you get to see how Cole’s mind works in ways that the narrative doesn’t necessarily allow.

7.  Sex and the loss of innocence is a recurring theme in Giraffe People– is there a message you want the reader to grasp about sex?

Sex is a recurring theme in everything I write. I think I’m trying to take sex and shame apart — to separate them so that I can see each clearly. Initially, for Cole, sex seems almost an empirical experience, but that changes as the story progresses, and that’s the part I love. I love that sex unfurls. That it seems, at first, to be one shape, but is, in fact, many.

8. Music is such an important influence in Cole’s life- what is your ultimate play list?

Oh! I love this question. I’ve just been listening to a lot of Jazz because Dave Brubeck died, and so there’d be horns and piano and drums. Duets with Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. There’d be Ramones, and CCR, and Fiona Apple. There’d be Spanish guitar, and Florence and the Machine. The National, Gillian Welch, Arcade Fire, Metric, Santigold, Jack White, Loretta Lynn. There’d be old country and punk and club-kid music from the 80s and Bikini Kill and Warpaint and djembe and all sorts of weird stuff.  If we could dance to it, we’d play it.

9.  Which of your characters would you like to have dinner with and why?

I’d like to have dinner with Jane from Red Audrey and the Roping, and Cole from Giraffe People. I feel like those two would have a lot to talk about and I could just sit and observe them. We’d eat Island food and watch the tide and drink beer from green bottles.

10.  When will Giraffe People be published?

Giraffe People is due out in May, 2013.

11.  Can you tell the readers about your other books?

Red Audrey and the Roping is a story about self. About self-injury and self-forgiveness.

A Field Guide to Deception is a story about family. About the kind of honesty it takes to live in a family and function.

In different ways, I think my first two novels are love stories. It just takes time to get there. Sometimes lifetimes.

12.  Where can my readers buy your books?

My books are available through my publisher’s site:, on and at your local, independent retailer. They’re available in print and e-books.

Check out Jill Malone and her awesome book, Giraffe People at the following links:


Wet Ink Press Publishing Services: Repost

22 01 2013

Wet Ink Press Publishing Services is Now Open

 Wet Ink Press Publishing Services provides publishing services to eBook authors at a low price. We provide book design, editing, formatting, and ePublishing conversion services to authors looking to self publish. Authors can purchase individual services or one of our packages.

Wet Ink Press Publishing Services loves helping all authors create the eBook they have always dreamed about creating, and we can’t wait to help you! We provide:

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Purchase individual services or one of our packages and get your ebook publishing dreams started.

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21 01 2013

The Dreamer Genome by Steve S. Grant: A Book Review

19 01 2013

Science fiction fans! I found us an author to fill the void left behind by Arthur C. Clarke and Carl Sagan, and his name? Steve S. Grant. Mr. Grant has written a brilliant novel entitled The Dreamer Genome which begins in 2020, after a scientist conducts genetic manipulations, in secret, to give human fetuses the ability to survive long periods of hibernation. In other words, he splices genetic material from bears and humans to create a prototype for cryogenic life.

When the clandestine lab is destroyed to avoid discovery, test subjects are scattered and the reader watches these boys grow up and gets to monitor their changes. All of the boys live fantastic lives but genetic failure claim the lives of many. The reader and the scientist who created these boys learn which genetic manipulations worked and which have not. As the boys grow up, some of them, resent the corporate greed that rules them and fight to live an ordinary live, even with extraordinary genes. The reader sees the struggle of a few young men try to be individuals who have their own hopes and dreams fight against their pre-programmed purpose. They do not want to be guinea pigs who must give up everything to further scientific research into cryogenics but many of them cannot escape their fate.It is even more difficult to escape when the man who you have known as your father a scientist who created you for observation.

Love, hate, and genetic destiny are major themes in this book and they are explored from a variety of points of view. The Dreamer Genome presents some very realistic potraits of human beings. There are villains who love and heroes who hate. The multiplicity of the ethical issues that surround human experimentation and the scientists who work on such experiments are portrayed with depth and feeling. This is a book that will make you think long after the book is closed.

The Dreamer Genome tells us that to live forever, things will be sacrificed: hopes and dreams; morals and sometimes even men.

Find more about Steve S. Grant here:

Or buy The Dreamer Genome here:

5 Agents Seeking New Clients [Reposted from Writers Digest]

18 01 2013
Here are five literary agents currently looking to sign new writers (and where you can find more).
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WD January 18, 2013

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5 Agents Seeking New Clients

When trying to get your manuscript published, it’s often beneficial to have an agent on your side. Agents not only have connections within the publishing industry but they also read hundreds of proposals a year, giving them better perspective of what will sell and what won’t. They often offer suggestions and advice on how to get your manuscript into publishable shape (whether that’s change a character, introduce an additional storyline, or start the story in a different spot, etc.).

One of the best resources for finding an agent is the Guide to Literary Agents, which is the bible for finding representation-heck, it helped me find and land my agent. It features spot-on advice on how to approach querying and has more than 500 agent listings, including what types of books they are looking for, how each one wants you to pitch them and more.

GLA editor Chuck Sambuchino gives you a sneak peek on his GLA blog, posting his popular new agent alerts, highlighting up-and-coming agents and agents that have recently moved to new agencies. More important, all of them are looking for new clients. Here are five agents whom he’s featured and who are looking to sign new writers:

1. Brittany Howard of Corvisiero Literary Agency

She is seeking: Her first love is YA- from High Fantasy to Paranormal to to soft Sci-Fi to Contemporary- she loves all young adult. She also likes high concept, adventure themed, and funny MG, but a strong voice is MUST for her in MG. She’s willing to look at Picture Books, but is very selective.
Find out more about Brittany and how to submit to her here.

2. Margaret Bail of Andrea Hurst & Associates

She is seeking: adult fiction only. Specifically, she seeks romance, science fiction, thrillers, action/adventure, historical fiction, Western, fantasy (think Song of Fire and Ice or Dark Tower, NOT Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia).
Find out more about Margaret and how to submit to her here.

3. Samantha Dighton of D4EO Literary

She is seeking: Sam is looking for character-driven stories with strong voice. She likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, vibrant settings that take on a life of their own, and a story that lasts well beyond the final page, generally falling within these categories: Literary fiction, Historical fiction, Mystery/suspense, Magical realism, Psychological thrillers, Young adult (realistic) and Narrative nonfiction.
Find out more about Samantha and how to submit to her here.

4. Andy Scheer of Hartline Literary Agency

He is seeking: “I’m looking for a select few, outstanding projects that grab me and won’t let me go until I place them with a publisher. For fiction, this means a memorable blend of characters, setting, and storyline-delivered with carefully crafted prose. For nonfiction, a unique way of addressing a real need with an authority readers will recognize. And for both, the individual’s desire to grow in the craft of writing and to undertake the required discipline to promote their work for others’ benefit.”
Find out more about Andy and how to submit to him here.

5. Jennifer Udden of the Donald Maass Literary Agency

She is seeking: science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries – and is particularly interested in finding works that creatively combine aspects of all three genres.
Find out more about Jennifer and how to submit to her here.

For more news and information about agents, I highly recommend checking out the Guide to Literary Agents Blog and getting a copy of the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents. Both are extremely valuable resources and, without them, I may never have been able to land my agent (or secure a book deal).

Author Interview with Georgia Beers

18 01 2013

Hello, Readers!

This week I interviewed Georgia Beers about her book 96 Hours. 96 Hours is a romance set against the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. It is a beautiful and heart wrenching story about love, grief, and community.

What makes a good story?

For me as a reader, I think it depends on my mood that day. Sometimes, I want to be able to relate to the main character; I want to read about somebody that could be me. Other times, I want escapism. I want a character who is nothing like me (but I might want to be like her) working through a crazy situation. I tend to read suspense and thrillers more than anything else.

For me as a writer, I feel a good story is made by writing characters my readers can relate to. I write romance for the most part, and I think people who read romance want to read about either somebody who could be them or somebody they could run into. They want to escape their lives for a while, yes, but they also want to be able to insert themselves into the story, thinking, “That could be me,” or “I know somebody like that.” I do my best to write real, relatable characters that my readers could run into any time during the course of their day…at the grocery store, the gym, the office, wherever.

When you are not writing what do you like to do?

I am quiet and I am a homebody, so I tend to stick near my house and do introvert things. I read. A lot. I love to spend time with my dogs; they’re my kids. I love movies; I enjoy going to the theater as well as searching my Netflix account for movies I may have missed and then watching them on my laptop cuddled in bed. I lift weights (at home), which has become something much more fun than I expected.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I have several. For general fiction, I am in love with Ann Patchett and have been for years. The Magician’s Assistant is one of my all-time favorite books. She is the author I’d most like to emulate when it comes to the magic of stringing words together. There isn’t a novel of hers that hasn’t made me stop mid-chapter to read a sentence or paragraph out loud to my partner, just to share the awe. The woman is magical. I’ve had the honor of meeting her several times and corresponding with her through letters, and she’s incredibly witty and intelligent, which is just icing on the cake.

As I’ve said, the majority of what I read is suspense/thrillers. In that genre, I have my Lisa Trifecta:  I love Lisa Gardner. She writes mystery with a gentle coating of humor that I envy. Lisa Unger is a recent favorite. She’s a bit more literary in her suspense, and her plots are complex. Lisa Scottoline is somebody I’ve read for years. She is very funny, but writes an amazing mystery. She also crosses genre lines slightly by veering a bit more into drama territory rather than suspense. Beyond the Lisas, I am a huge fan of Tami Hoag, Sue Grafton, Laura Lippman, Kristin Hannah (who writes drama rather than suspense and makes me cry every time), and many, many others.

The idea for the 96 Hours began after watching a documentary. Could you tell us a bit more about the documentary you saw?

My partner, Bonnie, and I were watching the 2010 Winter Olympics when, in between sports, NBC showed a documentary about the town of Gander, Newfoundland. It’s an amazing piece (I think you can find it online if you Google it), and we were both riveted by the stories of the residents and how they took care of the stranded passengers on 9/11. Admittedly, I am not one of those who believe in the inherent goodness of people, but this documentary really left me wondering if I’m not mistaken. I was totally touched by the examples I saw. Then they showed a couple—a man from England who was on his way to Texas for business, and a woman who was a native Texan. They were on the same plane and got stranded together. They ended up falling in love and marrying. Bonnie looked at me and said, “Oh, my god, wouldn’t that be a great setting for you to write a romance?” And so I did.

What challenges did you have to face to bring a story about September 11th, 2001 to life?

I think the biggest issue was the fact that I was writing a romance. And wrapping a romance—something that’s supposed to be “feel good”—around  an event so horrifically tragic was dicey. I had to step very carefully. I did not want anybody to think I was making light of 9/11. At the same time, people in the documentary were proof to me that a single event can change a person in a big way, and I wanted to explore that.

The other difficult part was the research. In order to accurately convey the horror of what the Plane People felt watching the planes hit the Towers for the first time, I knew I had to watch it again. It was ten years after the fact, but I was no less horrified when I watched the news reports online. I made myself watch a few times, just to be sure I got all the detail, but it was awful. If I never see that coverage again for as long as I live, it will be too soon. Heartwrenching.

Erica is often criticized for being cold and unfeeling by the other character do you think this is a fair assessment of her?

Of course not. But to Abby, who is the epitome of a free spirit, that’s exactly what Erica is. And in any other circumstances, Abby wouldn’t think twice about Erica beyond the fact that she’s hot. But because they’re stuck together, Abby’s almost forced to dig deeper, to understand that there’s much more to Erica than a haughty exterior and a need for routine.

What do you think of Abby’s carefree life? Is she lazy like Erica suggests?

Abby wasn’t as easy for me to write as Erica was because I tended to lean towards exactly what you said: Abby’s a little lazy. Ultimately, I think I thought that way because I am much more like Erica than I am like Abby. I like routine. I am a big fan of manners and etiquette. But I know people like Abby, and they are not lazy, so I had to grab onto that and get past my own hang-ups and judgments. It was interesting for me.

Did you travel to Gander, Newfoundland to write 96 Hours?

I did not, though I thought about it more than once. It ended up not being in the cards for me financially at the time, but I did as much research as I could, right down to printing out a map and placing all my locations on real streets in Gander. I would still like to go there at some point. It’s not terribly far from where I live, and I adore Canada.

What sort of research did you have to do for the book?

In addition to watching the coverage of the planes hitting the Towers and printing out maps of Gander; I read books about that time in Gander during 9/11; I read conversations from chat rooms (many of the Plane People have chat groups with the friends they made, both on their planes and in Gander); I read accounts of people on the planes during the diversion of their flight when they were still in the air; I spoke to a couple people from Gander. It’s the most research. I’ve done for any of my books.

Are there messages about grief and love you would like the reader feel after reading 96 Hours?

Well, I guess what I learned is the same thing I’d hope my readers come away with: that even in the midst of terrible grief, there can be a glimmer of hope…that love and kindness do tend to prevail, even in the most tragic of circumstances. Somewhere in the book, Erica says that it took the most heinous act of cruelty to introduce her to the most wonderful humans in the world. That’s the strangest, most interesting twist of fate to me, and I have no idea how to reconcile it in my mind. I think about it often.

What are your upcoming projects?

I am currently working on a new romance, one my friend Rachel lovingly calls “the epic.” It follows the same couple through 25 years of romance, heartache, heartbreak, recovery, etc. In addition, I have several short stories in the works, and a fun novel in which I collaborated with the four members of a writers group I taught. Busy, busy, busy!

Where can my readers buy 96 Hours?

It’s available directly from my publisher at and at most booksellers (Barnes & Noble,

Do you want to get to know Georgia Beers a little better? Go to her website, or follow her on facebook: Facebook: Georgia Beers or twitter@GeorgiaLBeers.

Volunteers for Literacy by Gretchen Elhassani: A Book Review

12 01 2013

When I agreed to review Volunteers for Literacy by Gretchen Elhassani I assumed it was going to be a non-fiction book hoping to enlighten the readers about the plight of illiteracy in America. I was excited to review the book because helping illiterate people become literate is something very near, and dear to my heart. Imagine my surprise when I opened the kindle file and the cover was of a dangerous man with red eyes glaring over a stack of burning books. I checked to make sure I opened the right file and then checked it again. Volunteers for Literacy wasn’t a dry pamphlet but a thriller.

Despite its prim name, Volunteers for Literacy is exactly what a thriller should be: sensationalistic, fast paced, and violent. It is like a Clint Eastwood movie, sometimes the plot is implausible and a little too convenient but it is entertaining as hell.

The book starts out with Amanda Smith a single parent working at the local fast food joint to pay the bills and support her little girl, Jesse. Amanda works hard at the Burby-Q and looks out for her colleagues. She also wants a better life and a better job which she can’t achieve because she can’t read. Amanda’s compassion for her coworkers and her desire to learn to read set the whole book in motion. When Amanda’s co-worker, Sara goes missing, Amanda is compelled to find her. Amanda looks for Sara at the local library where Sara sometimes hangs out. While she is there Amanda learns about an adult education class which tutors illiterate people. Amanda signs up for the tutoring and goes home without any more information about Sara.

The reader finds out that Sara has been kidnapped because her boyfriend blabbed to her about a bank robbery he is involved in and the crew leader doesn’t like any loose ends. The bank robbery goes awry and the robbers are forced to take refuge in the public library- where Amanda is being tutored- and she recognizes the robbers as clients at the Burby-Q the day that Sara went missing. Amanda decides that in order to get out of the library and to help Sara, she has to befriend the bank robbers and help them escape so they can lead her to where Sara is being held hostage. Amanda befriends a homeless man, who is also ex-military and the head librarian in her quest to outwit the bank robbers.

Sounds a little crazy, right? Reading through Volunteers for Literacy I felt myself struggling deal with how implausible the whole thing would be. I am not sure that the theme of helping illiterate people melds well with a thriller about bank robbing murderers. What was most shocking is that in the end everything turned out all right. Amanda got to go to college; Sara is rescued by Amanda and is sent home safe and sound. The military man, Joe, sobers up and the head librarian tricked the bank robbers and made off with all the money without the police (or anybody else) looking for the loot. Volunteers for Literacy is a violent book and to end it like a Brady Bunch script seemed a too pat. That isn’t to say that I wasn’t happy with the ending. Everybody likes it when the hero’s win and the bad guys are punished but it wasn’t believable.

In the end though, I ate Volunteers for Literacy up like cotton candy. It was a lighthearted and fun read akin to a good episode of Law and Order. If you need a good beach read or airplane book- strap yourself in with Volunteers for Literacy and have a killer time.

If you want to buy Volunteers for Literacy go to or Barnes and Noble.

You can find out more about Gretchen Elhassani and her books on Goodreads or on her blog:

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