Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Shelena Shorts Interview

I started reading most of the writers I've interviewed on Slush Pile Reader or Authonomy.  Shelena Shorts is the exception.  She teaches at the same school as myself and we also got our masters degrees at the same university (George Mason).  She has written a series that starts with The Pace, a young adult romance that has some Sci-fi elements.  I bought a copy and found myself engrossed in the story.  I was excited when she allowed me to interview her.

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KJ Kron:  Sophie comes to life as we see thing through her eyes (everything from boys, her mom, taking virtual classes).  How would you describe her personality?

Shelena Shorts: Sophie is a girl who actually doesn’t mind being alone. She is content with her life the way it is and doesn’t need to be part of a crowd to fit in. But even with her independence, she’s always felt like she’s been missing some direction for her future. Almost like she’s blinded when she tries to picture herself older, with a career. That’s where Wes comes in and fills in the missing pieces. What she finds out about her future isn’t so promising, but the answers provide enough motivation for her to come out of her shell and open herself up to others

I love how she meets Weston.   Where did you get that idea?

Well I really wanted Sophie and Wes to have a mature relationship, so I liked the idea of him being older. Once I came up with a reason for her to be on the campus where he attends college, the first encounter just made sense and allowed for a reason for him to follow up with her

Weston is a character full of mystery.  Is he based more on people you know or is he fantasy?

He is mostly fantasy. I really didn’t picture anyone when he popped in my head. He was always a new guy which is why I liked writing him so much. I wanted to know more about him!

Would you say it’s fair to say your book is two different genres? 

Yes! I never considered my book science fiction, but I started to when it was nominated for the Cybil’s award in the science fiction category. I was like…really??! That’s what a lot of people say now when they classify it, so definitely. I thinks it’s neat, but I didn’t plan that way when I wrote it J

Which parts of your book do you like writing the most?

The middle! That’s where the story feels the most natural to me. I just let it go where it wants to without having to think about the structure of a beginning or end!

 What actor / actress could you see playing Sophie and Weston in a movie?

No idea! It’s one of those things where I haven’t seen the exact Wes and Sophie, but if they were to be chosen and acted like them, I’d be like, yeah...that was them all along!

I've only read the Pace, but I see you've written two more in the series.  How many do you plan on writing?

There are four planned. Any more beyond that would be forcing something right now, but who knows, maybe one day another one will pop up naturally.

I know that you are a teacher and a mom.  Describe your writing schedule.

I write at night. I usually find myself thinking about the story during the day, and when it’s all quiet, I write and write. Sometimes I go for months without writing a single sentence, and then when the story is there, I’ll write every night until 2 or 3 am!

What types of books do you enjoy reading? 

I enjoy reading anything with a great love story to root for. It can be a mystery, suspense…anything, and I don’t necessarily need it to have a happy ending…just as long as there is a genuine romance that I can feel attached to.

What are some ways that you have been able to promote your book?

I have loved using I was referred to that site by my neighbor and have been hooked ever since. It’s been a fantastic way for me to keep up with my own readings, as well as my friends, and it’s been a fantastic way to share books with others. I’ve also met some great YA bloggers who have been amazing supporters and fans of the series. Festivals have also been fun and a great way to introduce the books to people who may not have heard of them before.

Thank you Karl! I appreciate you thinking of me for an interview and wish you the best with your own book! 

And thanks Shelena for letting me interview you.  Best of luck with your books!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Plans

The school year is over! 

It’s going to be a fairly relaxing summer with no papers to grade.  Of course Xavier and the book release will keep things interesting.

Just four days after the last exam was over, my wife and I flew to her hometown in Spain.  Little Xavier is shy as he has to deal with listening to a new language, getting used to his new surroundings, and getting used to slightly different tastes.  As he meets a barrage of new people, he clings to his mommy and daddy.

One nice thing about Spain is the in-laws.  We go over there to eat lunch and then I come home to an empty apartment for three hours.   I haven’t had this much alone time since Xavier was born.  It enabled me edit out the music lyrics. 

Today we just got the internet.  Some people in the states ask if there is internet in Spain.  What do they think, we don’t have running water over here?  The problem is that we only live here a couple of months a year so it’s tricky to find a plan that works.  For the first time, I won’t have to go to the internet café or to my brother-in-laws shop (he has wi-fi) and can enjoy the internet from our place. 

Pascal (of Slush Pile Reader) has shown me the plans.  We are going to launch the book as an ebook over the next week or two along with a contest.  At a later date, the book will come out in print form. 

Exciting times 

What's your summer plans?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting Permission for Copyrighted Song Lyrics

St Peter Killed God is ready to be published – almost.   First, I have to take care of the song lyric problem. 

I mention twelve songs in my novel, which isn’t a problem.  Nine of those songs I include some of the lyrics but have not gotten permission to do so. Here is a list of the music I mention in the novel:

Spirit in the Sky (no lyrics)
Eleanor Rigby (no lyrics)
Senor Blues (no lyrics)
Everybody Hurts 
Sympathy for the Devil 
Oye Come Va
Brain Damage 
Whole Lotta Love 
Once in a Lifetime
Carmina B (no lyrics)

So how hard is it to get permission to use lyrics?  First I went to the website where they list the owners of the copyright for all songs before 1978.  At first I just plugged in the name of the song, but got over 20 different copyright owners.  When I narrowed the search down, I got the specific copyright, but here’s some of my problems:

The owner of the rights to REM’s “Everybody Hurts” has a website, but there is no way to contact them.  I joined REM’s fan club just so they would send me an email confirmation.  I replied to that email asking for permission to use the lyrics to that song.  So far I haven’t heard anything.

The rights to “Cantaloop” by Us3 is owned by Capital Records, but on their website there is no way to contact anyone.  The only option is to do it by snail mail.

Both “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin and “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads are owned by Warner Brothers.  Thankfully there was a way to contact them, but who knows whom my email will go to.

“Ch-ch-changes” had a copyright owner. I looked up her blog and found a way to send her an email, but I’m pretty sure she’s not the owner of the copyright.  Still waiting for a response.

That leaves “Desperado”, “Sympathy for the Devil”, “Oye Come Va”, and “Brain Damage” (I also thought the song was “Dark Side of the Moon”).  I’m pretty sure all of these songs were released before 1978 so they won’t be in the on-line database.  The cost to hire someone to look for the copyright owners is 165 dollars an hour.  Minimum charge, two hours.  My hunch is that the copyright is owned by the record label, and if it isn’t they can point me in the right direction. 

I believe the novel is better with the lyrics in, but not necessary.  I’m going to continue to try to track down the owners of these copyrights, but until I get permission, I’m going to lift the lyrics out of the novel.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Can’t Control How Things Turn Out

My wife couldn’t find a bolt from a box we bought at IKEA. 

“I saw Xavier playing with the plastic bag the bolts came in,” my wife said.  “What should we do?”

The bolt was the size of a Cheerio.  Xavier is so proud that he can stick a Cheerio in his mouth without any help.  Xavier did have a rash; maybe if he swallowed a bolt it had something to do with it.  It seemed very possible for a one year old. 

I didn’t want to spend hours in the ER or get all their bills, but some things are beyond our control. 

So Xavier had his first X-ray.  As we waited, I thought about other things in my life I can’t control, from my students to SPKG.  I applied for a copyright on April 15 and I’m still waiting for it two months later.  SPR assured me that it can take several months and that I shouldn’t worry about it. 

I’m sure you can think of a million examples in your own life of things beyond your control. 

The X-Ray turned up negative.  At least we could leave the ER with peace of mind.  I thought the rash was due to the milk since we just started feeding it Xavier.  And once we stopped giving him whole milk and reverted back to formula, his rash went away.  But a week later, he began drinking whole milk again and no problems.  Somethings just cannot be explained.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How Many Web Sites are Needed to Launch a Book?

I created a “Facebook” page for Saint Peter Killed God to announce the latest news about its release date.  Every time I post an update on its wall, it automatically tweets it.
On my “Twitter” account, I see other writers posting my name on WW (Writer’s Wednesday) and I try to re-tweet it. I feel like I should give a shout out to all those I’ve read on Slush Pile Reader on WW, but it just haven’t had the time yet.  Maybe over the summer.
I’ve also created a blog on “blogger” and every post ends up being duplicated on my “Goodreads’” author page.
To promote my blog, I got a “Book Blogs” account.
I tried to promote my blog on “Kindle Boards”, but they have all kinds of strange rules regarding their forums.  I will try to promote SPKG there when it’s released.
I’ve got an account with “Linkedin” but I’m not sure how to use it.
When SPKG is released, I’ll look into “BookBuzzr.”
And I just got interviewed on “Author’s On Show” by Lori Anne Carrington (author ofCruiserweightand 50, both found on SPR).  The link is:
And on top of Facebook, twitter, blogger, Goodreads, Book Blogs, Kindle Boards, and Linkedin, I should probably get my own webpage.
Oh, I know I’m missing others.  There seems to be an endless number of sites to promote your book. It seems that getting published is really only the first step.  I feel like I'm missing some other web sites - any suggestions?