Tag Archives: writing

Author Interview: Ghost Hunter Tells All

Just in time for Halloween – I have the pleasure of introducing Dan Terry, ‘Spookstalker’.   Dan has had a passion for ghost hunting since 1979.  He wrote articles in Haunted Times Magazine and has since written four books on haunted places: Beyond the Shadows, Missouri Shadows, Hermann Shadows, and River Shadows.

If you are in the MO area, check out his two lectures – one in Pacific, Mo. at the library on the 23rd at 6:30, and one on the 30th in Owensville, Mo. also at 6:30.  Only 2 more lectures of the season, don’t miss it!

Dan Terry Photo

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Dan:  I had a publisher for the first three books.  The relationship was good, and the publisher treated me well. Over time, though, we had some creational differences. The publisher was a former small town newspaper editor, so we also disagreed on the subject of being offensive.  She was against it, as someone may not buy the book. I, on the other hand, believed that The Da Vinci Code would not have been as big a hit if the Church had not argued against it.  We even once discussed use of the word “Mandrake” because she was afraid the term would upset parents because the plant is shaped like a male sex organ.  I had to convince her it was used liberally in the Harry Potter series!

When she developed cancer, she wanted out of publishing to concentrate on healing. At that time, she offered to help me find a new publisher, but having seen how much money we were missing out on, my wife and I decided to try it ourselves. The first book we did ourselves she worked for a flat fee to lay out and proofread. After that, I had a High School English teacher proofread them.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Dan:  Spookstalker Press has three titles, one true crime “Nothing Ever Happens in New Haven”, is about small town police. The other two are ghost related, “River Shadows” about ghosts in river towns, and “Too Ornery To Die”, about ghosts of criminals.

Missouri-Shadows-Book-cover-002Too Ornery to DieBeyond the Shadows

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Dan:  I’ve used a lot of social media, along with word of mouth and ghost lectures all over the mid-west, which also included name recognition. Radio interviews also help. Getting the books distributed and strategically placed in the book stores during the October ghost season helps as well. All books but the last one is now available through Barnes and Noble.  But the best sales come from the lecture circuit, which I attribute to my ability to talk well and share the excitement, including the use of a PowerPoint presentation.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Dan:  I haven’t really used any books or websites, but instead go to professionals and ask their advice. And, most importantly, listen to them. In some of my first magazine articles, a good friend would read them and mark them up, splashing red ink on the paper like he had sacrificed a chicken over the desk! But when he explained where I was getting too wordy, or over explaining something that wasn’t really relevant to the story, I understood and complied.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Dan:  Distribution is the biggest problem, as small book stores will not go with someone new very often. I have sent notes and copies explaining that I would personally deliver the books, but yet never heard anything back.  Getting the idea of the layout from my mind to the graphic designer is also been a problem. I can say that the publishing company I use has the best designers for covers I’ve ever seen, and they always make an attractive, attention-getting cover for me. That also helps with sales.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Dan:  READ!  I have met authors who say they don’t read others work because they don’t want to be influenced or some nonsense. I say read anything, be critical, but learn from other folks styles. I have been lucky that other authors will speak with me, and give me advice. They’ve helped me turn a phrase, or write in a way that keeps people turning the pages.  A new author in the next town, who I met at a “meet local authors” day at a local library, calls just to ask questions about police or ghost hunting for his second novel.  I have asked his advice on other matters.  I have read his book, and enjoy his style.  I based my true crime book on a mix of styles from Mickey Spillane to James Ellroy.  Their style caught my attention, and I used a similar style for my cop book. The ghost books are first person with a lot of history, but written in an action-adventure style over a documentary style.  I have read newspapers from the mid-1800’s, when they had to use words and allegories because they didn’t have TV.  Those men could WRITE!  They capture your attention in a way today’s sanitized, homogenized, Formica styled “don’t offend anyone” newspapers can’t. You Were There! And that’s the style I use, where other ghost hunters write more like a documentary.  Very “Just the Facts, Ma’am.”   I want to place the reader at my elbow, seeing things, hearing things just as I did.  So my advice to new writers is to Read and to Write.  Find a style you like and make it your own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Terry is a native Missourian, a Coast Guard veteran, and he has been a police officer for 26 years.

He began ghost hunting shortly after getting his license to drive in 1979, inspired by the TV adventures of Carl Kolchack in the early 70s television show Kolchack: The Night Stalker. Once he joined the service, it became quickly apparent that he had to hide his interest in the paranormal and continued hiding it as he became a police officer in 1986.  While he continued to read and even look into the subject, including taking tours of reportedly haunted places, Dan did not resume his own hunting until TV’s “Ghost Hunters” brought the subject into the mainstream.

After learning the new methods from Greg Myers of the Missouri Paranormal Task Force, then called Missouri Paranormal Research, he took the name “Spookstalker” and began investigating haunted places once again. After writing a newspaper article on the subject, he was convinced to write books on the topic. He wrote articles in Haunted Times Magazine and has since written four books on haunted places: Beyond the Shadows, Missouri Shadows, Hermann Shadows, and River Shadows. In addition, Dan has written one book in the true crime genre, Nothing Ever Happens in New Haven.

He is currently working on a novel about an incident involving the murder of soldiers which took place during the Civil War in the local area. He makes his home with his wife Sherri in New Haven, Missouri.

 

 

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Word on the Street with Kristina Blank Makansi

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors.  All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise.   Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews.  Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience.  You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.  Not all real self publishing stories are full of rainbows and butterflies – it can suck sometimes too.

Tell us about it, Kristina Blank Makansi:

Kristina Blank Makansi

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Kristina:  I co-founded a publishing company, Blank Slate Press, in 2010 and we’ve published 6 books—5 fiction and one memoir. I am also a partner in Treehouse Publishing Group, an author services company that works with both traditionally and self-published authors. For my own work, I queried and had some interest in my historical fiction, ORACLES OF DELPHI, and have one traditional publisher that would like to see a revised version. But because of my experience with Blank Slate Press and Treehouse, I asked myself why I should have someone else publish my book when I can do it myself. So when my daughters and I co-wrote THE SOWING, the first book in our YA/New Adult sci-fi trilogy, we decided to publish it ourselves. We are a family of do-it-yourselfers and self-employed types, and the lessons learned from each project I’ve worked on over the years for other authors—from editor to title consultant to interior layout designer to cover designer to event coordinator to chief cook and bottle washer—can all be applied to publishing and marketing THE SOWING. So self-publishing makes sense for us.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Kristina:  Books I’ve published through Blank Slate Press include: THE SAMARITAN (which will be republished by Picador in 2014), DANCING WITH GRAVITY, SLANT OF LIGHT, OFF THE LEASH, NEVER HUG A NUN, DRIVING ALONE, and the upcoming COUNTERFEIT. Through Treehouse, we’ve put out ROBOT+BIKE=KITTEN and DRAFTED is coming soon. Plus we’ve worked on a bevy of books that are being self-published by the authors. THE SOWING is the only title of my (our) own that we’ve published to date. We started by experimenting with serialization, but because many of our readers said they couldn’t wait to read the whole book, we gave that up. If we’d been traditionally published, we wouldn’t have had the flexibility to try something new. Now, we’re issuing the whole book and we’re excited about that process. The e-book is out now (or will be soon) and the print book will come out in September

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Kristina:  We love social media, of course, but we also love meeting readers face-to-face. I have wonderful relationships with the local independent booksellers and enjoy working with them to host author events. You may not always sell a gazillion copies, but you always have a good time. And as much as independent authors depend upon Amazon and online e-books, I believe in supporting other small business owners as well. Attending conferences and meeting other authors—who are usually voracious readers—is important, too.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Kristina:  Building an audience as an author is difficult whether you’re traditionally or self-published, but I think Facebook and even LinkedIn are good places to connect with other authors. There are all sorts of genre-specific groups to join on those sites. A lot of people are using Google + as well, but I’m not nearly as active there. As far as blogs/websites go, I subscribe to Publishers Marketplace, Publishers Weekly,  and the The Shatzkin Files, and I read Publishing Perspectives, Jane Friedman’s Writing on the Ether, and David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Visible religiously. I’m also a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Kristina:  Getting readers to buy our book, of course! Seriously, it is tough out there for debut authors whether you go the traditional route or the independent route. And just because you have a publisher—even a big five publisher—behind you, it’s still tough. The biggest challenge is marketing your book without being annoying. The number of people on twitter who simply tweet “Buy my book!” all day long makes my head hurt.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Kristina:  Be professional. If you want to be considered a professional author, if you want people to shell out their hard-earned money for your book and then precious time out of their busy lives actually reading it and then recommending it to others, you need to approach the writing, the editing, the interior layout, the cover, the marketing and promotions just like you would if you were opening a shop down the street. As we say at Treehouse, writing is an art, but publishing is a business. And running a business takes investments in both time and money. Hire an editor. Even if you’re planning to query and hoping to get an agent or editor to publish traditionally, you should hire an editor to get your manuscript in the best shape possible. Agents and small press editors get hundreds if not thousands of queries, and if your work doesn’t stand out, you won’t have a chance. If you’re self-publishing, hire a proofreader. Hire a cover designer. Be professional. If we all, as independent authors approach publishing professionally, the old stigma around self-publishing will disappear.

AUTHOR BIO

Kristy co-founded Blank Slate Press in 2010 to discover, nurture, publish and promote new voices from the greater Saint Louis area and beyond, and in 2013, she co-founded Treehouse Publishing Group to provide author services to both traditionally and self-published authors. She has worked as a copywriter, marketing coordinator, web and collateral designer, and editor. She has a B.A. in Government from University of Texas at Austin and a M.A.T. from the College of New Jersey and an opinion on everything. Currently, she is hard at work revising her historical fiction, ORACLES OF DELPHI, set in ancient Greece and is publishing THE SOWING, the first book in THE SEEDS TRILOGY, a YA/New Adult sci-fi series co-written with her two daughters.

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Word on the Street with Gabriela Jurick

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors.  All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise.   Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews.  Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience.  You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.  Not all real self publishing stories are full of rainbows and butterflies – it can suck sometimes too.

Tell us about it, Gabriela Jurick:

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Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Gabriela:  I decided to publish my own story, because I have been through some bizarre situations.  Every so often someone would say to me “you should write a book”.  I’m happy to say that even though the obstacles that I’ve been through were not positive, the book shows that I still had faith and knew things could only get better.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Gabriela:  My first book is entitled “I’m Still Standing”.  Soon, I will have self-published “Deep in Thought”.

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Gabriela:  I’ve ordered some extra books and left them at some restaurants and doctors’ offices just to get my name around.  I decided to get the first book published; the publisher is supposed to set up book signings, etc.  I’m supposed to do the rest.  However, the books sold in bookstores don’t leave much of a profit margin.  I changed my business cards to show that besides an author, I’m a motivational speaker.  I’ve contacted three places to hear my speech “Recovery from Depression”; to no avail.  They did not respond.  So far, the best seller is using friends you have on Facebook to get the word out.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Gabriela: Truly, I’ve followed Jill Mettendorf on her journey through publishing a book.  That was positively the most useful information I had gleaned.  It was actually like Jill did the work, and I tried to follow her footsteps.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Gabriela:  I thought it would be a difficult sell to self-publish; and it was.  Now that I know mirabooksmart.com can actually sell my book online, all I have to do is give out the link…it couldn’t be easier now.   

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Gabriela:   I would tell an aspiring author to constantly read your own work over and over again.  But not day after day.  Sometimes you need a break from reading the same thing over and over.  I’ve changed my words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, etc. many, many times.  Have someone else look at it when you’re almost done.  That person should be able to tell you if the story flows properly, or give you some ideas on what might need be changed.

AUTHOR BIO

Gabriela was born in New Jersey where she and her husband, George, raised three children.  Gabriela is a secretary for a community college in the health, physical education and dance department as well as the athletics department.  She, along with her family, continues to encourage others, explaining through their own experiences that when one is down, the only way to go is up.

BOOK AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore

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Word on the Street with John Moore

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors.  All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise.   Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews.  Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience.  You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.  Not all real self publishing stories are full of rainbows and butterflies – it can suck sometimes too.

John Moore and I will be speaking at the O’Fallon Writers Guild Writers Workshop on Saturday September 7, 2013 starting at 8:00 A.M.  The event will be held at Lindenwood University Belleville Campus.  For more information on the event, click here.

….Come on down, John Moore

John Moore pic

Real Answers Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

John:  This is a bit of a long story; nevertheless it answers the question.  Several years ago, after my daughter divorced, I became a de facto father to my grandson who was twelve at the time.  Over the course of the next few years, I did my best to help him straighten his life out and emphasize his education.   Starting Junior High he didn’t like English.  Even though he was good in math and science, writing and reading the English language seemed like a waste of time to him.  So, I looked for ways to subtly change his attitude.  One night when we were camping along one of the Missouri “float” rivers, he asked what kind of CDs I liked when I was his age.  (We’re fifty years apart in age.)  He was surprised when I told him we didn’t have such things then, along with a lot of other things that are around now.  That discussion led to our contrasting a great many areas, then and now.  Then, I asked him what he thought would be different for his grandson fifty years away.  His imagination of the future was phenomenal.  Together we’d pick a subject—TV, world affairs, petroleum, war, lifestyles, etc.—and imagine what life would be when he had a grandson in fifty more years.  We began a list.  The list grew and we agreed to put it in a time capsule and open it in fifty years to see how right or wrong we were.  However, that wasn’t satisfying, nor did it do anything for his enthusiasm about English.  So, I suggested we work the material we’d listed into a short story.  It would be a story with his yet to be born grandson as the hero.  I wrote some and he wrote some and what started out to be a short story got longer.  In fact, it became a novel, which we self-published.  My family nick name is Poppies, so he thought that would be a good name to be called when he become a grandfather too.  So the title of the story became, “A Journey with Poppies.”  It is a story of him and his grandson fifty years into the future.  When he went into Eighth Grade, he felt a lot different about English.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

John:  A Journey with Poppies, The Head of Khalid Salaam, Frigby’s War.

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

John:  I have tried book signings, e-mails to friends and family, meeting with book clubs, advertising on Web Sites related to the book, word of mouth, and prayer, hope, and hand-wringing.  Some work.  Some don’t.  Unless lightning strikes, most self-published authors struggle to earn back what they paid to publish.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

John:  Not really.  However, I believe there is a business out there for someone with the savvy and audacity to take self-published books and market them.  Too many self-published authors are reluctant to spend the time and/or endure the pain of rejection to market their stuff.  If it is truly blither, it won’t sell no matter how skillful it’s marketed.  However, a third party not emotionally involved with the title and with the experience and moxie to push it on to the reading public (targeting the right sector) could be successful.

RARA:  What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

John:  You can guess from the above.  It is marketing my work.  I enjoy the writing; even the proofing.  However, when it comes to my own creation, I’m a reluctant salesman.  I believe I’m not alone in that respect.

 RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

John:  Expect to work as hard at promoting both you and your book as you did writing it.  It’s a jungle out there and survival of the fittest is the rule.  Being fit in the writing business means (1) cranking out a well-written product about a subject people are interested in and (2) becoming the epitome of the door-to-door sales person who won’t take no for an answer.

AUTHOR BIO

Twenty-eight years spent in the military during the prime of life cannot help but influence one’s ideas and opinions on everything from national defense to how people are treated.  I didn’t start out to be a career military officer.  It just sort of happened.  Coming from a lower middleclass background, the opportunity to attend a service academy solved the problem of how to pay for a college education.  A subsequent graduate degree in engineering added to my commitment to the Air Force, so by then I was hooked.

Through it all, however, the pressure to be a good soldier was always pitted against a renegade attitude which was sometimes suppressed, but more often not.  Growing up in the Midwest, I blended the solid WASP values I learned from my family and friends with the melting pot of attitudes and conduct I found in the military.  Following my military career, I saw the other side of the coin by spending fourteen years in a private sector engineering firm.  The result is that I am somewhat of a hybrid—neither a straight-laced, conservative, retired military officer nor am I a laid back, liberal Midwesterner.  I have read On War by Clausewitz but I prefer Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. Writing came along in my life well after my two engineering careers had faded into the sunset.

I write because I enjoy the challenge of telling the story and revel in making it all come together.  So, while I have paced the agitated halls of the Pentagon, I prefer a solitary stroll on the beach.  I have seen the fervor and excitement of battle but it pales in contrast with the glimpse of a newborn baby.  I write because there are stories that need to be told. Those who knew me once might say I have mellowed some.  They would be right.

John Moore                                  

918 Indian Springs Road

O’Fallon, IL 62269

killermoore@aol.com

618-632-6575

 

BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AND REVIEW

A Journey with Poppies – Available as an e-book at Authorhouse.com

The Head of Khalid Salaam – Available in paperback or e-book at Authorhouse.com

Frigby’s War – Available at Createspace.com/3563818, Amazon.com, and Kindle.

 

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Write Naked: 200 Words with Jill Mettendorf

What a great name for a blog: Write Naked. Of course, you may get too many other kinds of internet searchers with a name like that. LOL. Anyway – I like it.  But to get to the point – this is my first interview, yay!

The author of the blog came to me about a year ago and inquired about publishing and printing through Mira at http://mirabooksmart.com.  Since then we have worked together on a couple of projects.  I had told her about my book and hence – the first interview was born.  Click here to read: http://writenaked.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/200-words-with-jill-mettendorf/

Happy Friday!

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