Author Interview: Brad Manzo!

28 02 2013

Hello all!

Do you need a funny book to make your week a little better? Check out How Not To Parent by Brad Manzo. Manzo chronicles the trials and tribulations of parenting, loving the wrong sports teams, and growing older in a collection of laugh out loud essays. This week Brad sat down with us to answer a few questions about his book and his life.

What makes a good story?

For me, the best stories are the ones that really happened, though that doesn’t always translate into a good piece for me. If I can tell a story to which others can relate and makes people laugh, I know it’s a keeper.

What is a typical day of a freelance writing like for you?
I have a full-time job so I write in the morning on my bus ride to work. I have an hour to kill, so I pull out my iPhone and start writing. I absolutely love this time because there’s nothing else I can really do. When you’re home and writing you feel guilty that the kids or housework is being neglected. But that bus ride is my time. The only downside is trying to type on a touch screen on a bumpy ride.

What inspired you to write the Imperfect Man column?

I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh. Before I started writing columns,  I was an aspiring sitcom writer. I worked for a couple of years with a mentor who wrote for All in the Family (as well as Sanford and Son and Three’s Company).  But you need to be in L.A. to break into sitcom writing and I was married with a child on the way. And I had a good technical writing job and lived in New York.

Instead of moving to LA, I started using the humor writing skills I learned and began writing humor columns. Over the next year or two with a new child, I found myself writing about parenting and poking fun at the foolish things I did. As my wife would quickly add, I had tons of material. That’s how The Imperfect Man came about.

What topics do you teach in your online writing courses?

I teach business writing, but as I point out in my class, the same principles apply to other types of writing.  Whether you’re writing jokes, a weekly advice column,  or a technical writing procedure, you have to know your audience. Also, clear and concise writing is best—eliminate unnecessary words. For example, if you’re writing a joke and your setup is too long, you can lose your audience before you get to the punch line. The same thing applies to business writing. People don’t have time during a busy workday to read wordy emails; cut to the chase.

What was the biggest challenge going from technical writing to writing How Not to Parent?
In technical writing, you’re just presenting information or procedures. You ‘re not offering opinions or thoughts. Six technical writers would write a procedure similarly but six people writing about parenting may offer six pieces that are completely different in style and viewpoint. I think the biggest challenge is changing your mindset. Humor writing and tech.writing are completely different animals.  Tech. writing is very formal.Additionally, in How Not to Parent, I had the freedom to write about whatever I chose.

Which chapter of How Not to Parent was the most fun to write?

Honestly,  it was all fun to write but most of the material focused on my married life over the last 10-12 years.  But when I wrote the Introduction and Prologue for the book, I wrote about things I rarely touched on in my column and in the book—my childhood, my single years and the horrible, rodent infested apartments in which I lived, and when I met my wife and finally grew up. Sort of.

What do your kids think about being the subjects of your book and column?

They’re only 7 and 10 so they still think it’s kind of cool. I wouldn’t dare write about teenagers. They already find you annoying and embarrassing and I wouldn’t want to add any more fuel to that fire.

I hope my kids read the book one day when they’re older and appreciate it for what it is—a light-hearted look at family life.

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

I love to read, play Wii with the kids, and watch sports on TV. Unfortunately,  my favorite sports teams—the New York Mets and the New York Jets—aren’t very good and the kids always beat me at Wii,  so I do a LOT of reading. I’m about to read The Girl Who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I’m currently marketing some humorous greeting cards and working on a fictional book tentatively titled, The Toy Factory. I’m also hoping to do a few seminars on self -publishing and marketing a book. I’ve  learned so much over the last 2 years working on How Not to Parent.

Where can my readers buy How Not To Parent?
Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Brad-Manzo/e/B00AJD1LBA), Barnesandnoble.com (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-not-to-parent-brad-manzo/1113317968?ean=9781477536391) and other online booksellers. It’s available for the kindle and as a paperback.

To learn more about Brad Manzo, his column, or his book go to  bradmanzo.wordpress.com

Find Brad Manzo on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brad-Manzo/401662259853192

Follow Brad Manzo on twitter: @bradmanzo

 

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Book Review: My Children, His Victims by Ica Iova

26 01 2013

Some books are hard to read because the gravity of their subjects is so weighty. Some books are difficult to read because the characters are so raw and vivid, that all heartaches that the characters feel resonate in your breast. Some books are hard to read because they make you realize a horrible truth about human nature. Ica Iova’s book, My Children, His Victims, is a hard book to read for all of these reasons.

I was very happy to review this book when Ms. Iova asked me to a few months after her author interview. It is a great book: well written, unbelievably real, and a story of triumph. But when I sat down to re-read it, I almost couldn’t. I didn’t know if I could travel with Johanna as her beautiful marriage turns to open hostility and then divorce from her husband Louis. I didn’t know if I could re-read the painful details of how Louis bitterly and cruelly fought for custody of his children and how he attempted to turn their impressionable young minds against their mother. It is hard to watch Johanna’s life be destroyed and not be able to do anything to help her succeed.

What is most heartbreaking is how scenarios just like this happen every day. We have all seen a friend destroyed by divorce and embittered by the slow, capricious ways of divorce court. We have seen someone have to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of their past life and forge ahead. Some never do get the strength to move on and start a better life. I think what is truly remarkable about this book is that Johanna’s happily ever after is not a guarantee. In this book, art does imitate life; we are sated at the end: Johanna does get custody of her children but it is a long road. She makes mistakes, she is railroaded by the court, her children are put in jeopardy, and her children won’t love her with as much innocence as before the divorce.

My Children, His Victims hopes to illuminate people about Hostile Aggressive Parenting which is a serious form of child abuse that can occur during custody battles. Hostile Aggressive Parenting (HAP) is defined as: A general pattern of behavior, manipulation, actions or decision-making of a person (usually a parent or guardian) that either directly or indirectly. Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is most apparent in child-custody disputes and is used most often as a tool to align the child with one of the parents during litigation over custody or control of the child.  Hostile-aggressive parents will use the child as a weapon against the other spouse and family members. Hostile-Aggressive Parenting is considered by many health care and legal experts unhealthy, anti-social, abusive behavior which is emotionally damaging and contrary interest of a child. At the end of My Children, His Victims is an appendix which explains HAP more completely and explains what to do if you observe the symptoms of HAP.

My Children, His Victims is a lyrical novel that hopes to educate readers about a serious issue. Reading this book will be difficult but rewarding. I highly recommend reading this book (with some tissues) and learning more about HAP.

To buy this book go to www.xlibris.com.

Read the interview with Ica Iova about My Children, His Victims and her other books here: http://charleshenryeditingblog.com/2012/11/05/interview-with-ica-iova/





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:

http://www.stevegrant.ca/home/

Or buy The Dreamer Genome here:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/259480

http://www.amazon.com/The-Dreamer-Genome-ebook/dp/B00AEH0QW6





The Stranger by Chris Martin: Book Review

22 12 2012

Dear Readers,

Charles Henry Editing is reviewing The Stranger, a novella written by Chris Martin. After reading his other novella, The Other Side of Night, I could hardly wait to pick up The Stranger. On the whole, I was not disappointed.

Eight years ago in the small coastal town of Seal Bay, six high school girls were brutally murdered and dumped into the bay by Lance Puckett. His crime shattered the community of Seal Bay. When a stranger with a striking resemblance to Lance Puckett comes to town Dillon Bledsoe goes to the local diner to see if the mysterious stranger really is Lance or a harmless drifter. The stranger reveals himself as Lance Puck but he has come back to find out who killed those girls and framed him for their murders. After taking Dillon hostage it quickly becomes apparent that everyone in the town is hiding something about what happened the night those girls were killed.

The writing in The Stranger is not as strong as in some of his other works. The beginning feels self-conscious as though Chris Martin is constructing an elaborate artifice which might crumble if he forgets something but once the  chase to find the killer began it was hard to put down. I read the entire thing in one sitting. I enjoyed this novella for the plot but I wish some of the periphery characters had been more fully developed. While Lance Puckett and Dillon Bledsoe were clearly drawn and fascinating people some of the other characters who were suspects for the murders were brought up and cast away a little too quickly. I wanted to be led down a few wrong paths a little farther before the real killer was revealed. The revelation of the killer was exciting, hair-raising, and deliciously horrific; the book is worth reading for the ending alone.

The Stranger is a fast paced, compelling read. Through out the book the reader is taken on a journey to find the true killer and every time you think you have the plot figured out, you don’t. The emotional stakes never relent which made me have to keep reading. Chris Martin knows how to make you want to catch a killer, even if it is only a fictional one.

I highly recommend The Stranger by Chris Martin and checking out his other works which are available on amazon.com.

You can buy The Stranger here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Stranger-A-Novella-ebook/dp/B008XQ2Q0U/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Chris Martin also writes a really interesting blog: www.chrismartinwrites.com

Visit his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/ChrisMartinAuthor





Reblog Week

3 12 2012

Dear readers,

In case you haven’t noticed the past two posts on Charles Henry Editing have been written by other bloggers. Charles Henry Editing is kicking off December with Reblog Week. Reblog Week is going to bring great content about writing, editing, and book reviews all week long. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to read some new blogs and make some new connections.

All posts this week except for the weekly author interview and the book review will be written by other bloggers. So check back often to see what new and exciting posts are being written by your fellow bloggers!





Reblog Week: A Journey Through Book Reviews

3 12 2012

A funny, informative post about book reviews. Check out WriteMinds Blog and connect with a collective of friendly writers.

writemindsauthors

 

My first mystery, Judge vs Nuts, will celebrate its first birthday, in February.  Before the release, I conjured up images of reviews raving about the magnificence of my book, written by literary scholars who begged for more. My potential reviewers included authors who write wildly popular non-fiction books about the law or famous Chicago figures.  Of course the occasional celebrity author or librarian would stop me on the street and ask about doing a review.

At the Printers Row Lit Fest in 2011, I attended a panel discussion with three women authors who talked about the low numbers of women reviewers.  My list of hopefuls were all men.  Later I approached one of the authors to thank her and asked if she was interested in taking a look at my book. I’ll come back to this.

At the early stage “book review” was synonymous with “book report.”  Reading reviews…

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The Dawn Herald: A Book Review

1 12 2012

I was really excited to read The Dawn Herald by LB Mara. After seeing the beautiful cover art, I didn’t care what the book was about- all I knew was I had to read it, immediately. Reading the Dawn Herald is to enter another world and immersing oneself in compelling saga that sweeps the reader through time and space, through generations of epic battles between good and evil. Think of it as A Wrinkle in Time, meets The Chronicles of Narnia,  meets The Lord of the Rings.

The story begins much like any other British, children’s fantasy; a small plain girl named Charis is ostracized by her peers at school, and is bullied by a stratified aristocratic society which has little toleration for difference. Charis’ mother, Isolde, is a suspected witch and Charis, is by default, deemed undesirable.  So, the questions begin. Are Isolde and Charis witches? Why are they living in a provincial English town instead of with a community of other magical beings?

Isolde begins to tell her daughter a tale that will answer the question of Charis’ true identity, and explain her fate.  Charis learns that her mother, a Princess in the land of Gerena in the Tertiary World, has been chosen for the most revered position , that of The Dawn Herald. It is Princess Isolde’s duty to sing as dawn breaks across the Tertiary World. Without the Dawn Herald’s  song the sky will crack and evil will reign.  Isolde is brutally betrayed by two conniving Lord’s, after her father, King Halliam became unfit to rule. Without Isolde ruling her kingdom the sky falls. Isolde flees her home land and gathers together armies who will help her reclaim her place as The Dawn Herald.

‘The Dawn Herald is an impressive literary debut which creates a world as detailed as Narnia. The emotional stakes are extremely high and gripping. Once I started reading, I had to know what had happened to Isolde and what was going to happen to Charis. I am not sure the end of the first book in this trilogy was an emotionally gratifying as I would have liked. I wanted a more substantial conclusion- it felt like the book ended in such a way that if I want to know the conclusion I have to keep reading, not I want to know the conclusion so I want to keep reading.

My biggest complaint is that the book has a little too much going on. There is the main story about what will happen to Charis, and what did happen to Isolde but there are all these other sub stories are that are really interesting which sometimes overpower the main plot. There is also a twin sister that Isolde never knew about because it would mean execution for her mother; the continued descent into madness of Isolde’s father. Not to mention the overarching desire to actually understand what the Dawn Herald is and does. At times, the book feels like every idea of the trilogy is being introduced without being fleshed out. I wonder if there is any more that can be piled upon this epic beginning and whether my heart can take it?

Even though I have some reservations about The Dawn Herald, the beautiful descriptions of the Three Words, and the magical beings who inhabit these worlds are so fresh, and real that I know I will being seeing this epic battle to the final page. It is a book that will linger with you, and begs for a second read through. With such a thorough and lively plot, I have a feeling that with every reading, I will discover something beautiful that I missed before.

This is a great fantasy that will age with you. You’ll love it as a child and again as an adult for completely different reasons.

You can buy The Dawn Herald here:

http://www.amazon.com/Dawn-Herald-Three-Worlds-ebook/dp/B005ZSR866

Learn more about LB Mara here:

http://thedawnherald.blogspot.com/

Make sure to check out our next book review: A Love Beyond Time by Dante Craddock.








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