Guest Interview: Saleh Radaideh

Today I’ve got a guest interview by a young author. The actual interview appeared originally at https://authorsinterviews.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/here-is-my-interview-with-saleh-m-radaideh/, and because I’m always looking to help other indies out, I’m reposting it here. Check out the book if it interests you – links provided below.

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Name Saleh M. Radaideh
Age 21 Years Old
Where are you from
I am Jordanian Canadian, and I currently live in Ottawa, Ontario.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’m currently studying Psychology Bachelor of Science in Carleton University. As for my family, I have one older brother, two younger brothers, and two younger sisters. I love them all very much, and I try my best to cherish all moments with them.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Saleh: I recently got published by Titan Inkorp Publishing House, and it really inspired joy into me, after the long, necessary hard work of trying to get into the publishing business.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Saleh: The main reason I started to write was to inspire and to convey what I personally believe to be true. I wanted to write to fight the part of the rigidly placed status quo that appears to be oppressive and unnatural in my eyes. Writing to me seems to be like an adventure that starts beneath the Earth and then ends up in the skies, where my voice can be heard. And it’s not that I want only my voice to be heard, I want all of our voices to be heard in the name of truth, peace, and love.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It all started back in high school, when a friend of mine showed me a poem he wrote. After reading it and seeing how beautiful the art of writing and poetry is, I started to write ever since. I used to be the typical case of that ‘dude’ who’d always write during classes.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
What mainly inspired me to write God Forsaken is the fact that I wanted to raise awareness on certain important issues that the world faces today. My main goal of writing the book is to inspire coexistence of all religions, and more importantly, teach people about the beauty of the philosophy called Deism. Deism simply and elegantly means, to believe in God only through natural observation. How beautiful is that? That’s all we need! That way, we wouldn’t have to follow every verse in our Holy Books, especially when it inspires violence towards other religions. I have absolutely no intention to offend anyone. I’ve always loved everyone I know, no matter what their beliefs are. I’m just trying to raise awareness to the danger of religious extremism. People are going to hate me for writing this book, but you know, you can’t please everyone. You really can’t. And as for the extreme darkness and twisted emotion in Part 1, it will change throughout parts 2, 3, and 4, but not in a cliché way.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’ve read a lot in my lifetime, and never was I so inspired by a writing style like Chuck Palahniuk’s. The mini-paragraph writing style is so powerful, because he gets straight to the point when he wants to make a concept of element of the story clear to you.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I came up with the title, ‘God Forsaken’, from the concept of prayer. I’ve met many souls in my life who have given up on the concept of praying to God, as it has always left them in disappointment as to the lack of an answer. Constantly people are praying, crying, sobbing, letting their hearts out on the altars of their gods, seeking for an answer, and ultimately enlightenment. And even when they do get answered, they don’t seem to realize that it was all but a chance based on an inner psychological boost. What I want to tell my readers is that the only form of prayer that’s ever, ever worth having, is action itself.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
What I want my readers to know, and this is important, is to question absolutely everything that they are encountered with in their lives. I am very, very aware of the fact that questioning can be extremely painful in the beginning, as it sets you apart from the status quo, from the will of society, and more painfully, from others. But it is necessary! There is no way anyone can achieve enlightenment or become a master of himself unless he has first questioned.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Well, it is realistic in the sense that it can be related to through the messages, but it’s not in the sense that there are certain supernatural intervention in the story.

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are a lot of elements in the story which relate to my personal experience in my pursuit for knowledge, but there are some aspects and events of the story which are too dark and extreme to be related to me. Some of it related to me, and some purely fictional.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Two Authors, Osho Rajneesh, the Indian mystic philosopher, and all of his books which focus on the area of philosophy. Also, Chuck Palahniuk, specifically Fight Club.

Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Definitely Chuck Palahniuk. He is one of the few people in my life with whom I have related to in a spiritual sense of understanding.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading Survivor for Chuck Palahniuk. If it talks about someone who claims to be an antichrist, then we can’t really help but admit that the story would be interesting. His idea of implanting the Antichrist into his story is what inspired me to write this novel, God Forsaken.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
There is an author named Mark Kirkbride, author of Satan’s Fan Club. He also adopts the writing style of Chuck Palahniuk, and I thus found his book to be very intriguing. His writing style is brilliant, and the book contains a lot of humor to keep you flipping the pages.

Fiona: What are your current projects?
My current projects have mainly to do with completing the novel series, and releasing Part 2 sometime soon.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Kylie Price, Author of Wings of Vengeance. She has always been a kind friend and a great supporter. The world would definitely be a better place if we had more Kylies.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
If I am supported enough in my writing, then of course, that would be my ultimate, greatest dream come true! Writing is one of the main reasons I get up in the morning, and the main reason I don’t want to sleep at night.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The one thing I would’ve wanted to do was to wait until I finished all four parts of the story, and then publish it, because people might get the wrong idea from Part 1. People would begin to think that I don’t believe in God. I do! It’s just that I do believe in God in a different way. All I want for my readers is to wait until all four parts of the book are finished and then judge my work.

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It all came ever since I started to imagine, started to imagine and realize that life is far greater, far more beautiful and inexplicable, than what others would claim it to be, and what books might reveal to me.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The main idea of Part 2, which will be named Sabir, is heading back to the origins of the fictional religion, Illumina, and finding out how Mazin, the prophet of Illumina, really created the religion. It’s going to be even darker than Part 1. But Part 3 will be of redemption, and Part 4 will be the elegant closing of this emotional rollercoaster of a story.

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It is in fact very difficult to write sometimes, especially when you have something important to say. As Stephen King once said, “The most important things are the most difficult to write.” For a debut novel, I feel I am tackling big issues, especially that I’m only 21 years old. But still, as Paulo Coelho said, “If it’s still in your head, then it’s worth writing down.”

Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Chuck Palahniuk, because he writes not only for the sake of telling a story, he writes to make you a different person when you finish reading the last page of one of his novels. Some of his lines cut very deep into me, like the line that the narrator of Fight Club (the novel) said to himself as Tyler Durden was pushing the gun in his mouth. He asked himself, “Where would Jesus be if no one had written the Gospels?”

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Well, not really, this is still my debut novel. But in the future, if I have to, then I would love to!

Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Someone named Leana, a designer at Titan Inkorp. She really is a talented artist and knows how to make a cover appropriate for your book.

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing this book was challenging everything I was brought up to believe in, and more than that, realizing that somewhere down the line, people will not only disagree with what I write, but they’ll also hate me for it. But again I say, I am not trying to offend anyone, I am only defending what I believe to be true.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that the more I write, the more I learn about the mysteries of myself.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing. And when everyone puts you down, criticizes your writing telling you it won’t get you anywhere, you still write, and you write more. The world needs writers, so that people would read, so that individually, your readers would change, and thus the world would change for the better.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Write for a great purpose. Write to heal the world. Write to promote what’s true, what’s loving, and most importantly, what inspires peace.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first book I read was a book called ‘intelligence’ by Osho Rajneesh. His beautiful explanation of what intelligence really is is an eye-opener. It taught me with intelligence, you respond to your surrounding, while with intellect you only react. It taught me that intelligence has no words while still having meaning, while intellect can say a lot and have little meaning.

Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I actually love playing basketball. I used to play it all the time back in high school. I also like making people laugh, I do it all the time with my family. I just like letting people know that you shouldn’t take life too seriously, because I used to do that, and it only made me a sadder person.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Game of Thrones! George R.R Martin has the mind as large as the ocean.

Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Cheeseburger (haha!)/Black/Parkway Drive (Artist)

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would have loved to become a musician. I absolutely love music. But not only do I love writing more, but I feel that writing, at least to me, serves a greater purpose.

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes, I do! Here it is: http://godforsakensalehmradaideh.wordpress.com/

Here is the 5 star review by Snowman for God Forsaken:

Two old friends, Saleh and Hadi, take very different paths in life. Hadi’s philosophy is that “destruction is the ultimate way to live wild and elated” but an initial foray into spray-painting blasphemous slogans takes a much more violent turn. Razor-sharp lines worthy of Chuck Palahniuk such as “Silence is the most covert form of screaming” and “in a world like this, the only way innocence can show is through evil” jump out at one. The structure and style of the book reminded me a lot of Palahniuk and of Fight Club in particular. But in addition to the surface pyrotechnics, this is a thought-provoking read. Perhaps a faith that isn’t tested is no faith at all. The way the ending dovetailed with the opening, or didn’t, depending on your point of view, was extremely clever, and the tricky balancing act of finding an unexpected yet satisfying conclusion was achieved while still leaving things open for Part 2.

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Here’s some of the artwork for the book also. It can be purchased from Amazon here.

God Forsaken Timeline 2God Forsaken - with typeGod Forsaken IgnoranceGod Forsaken lightGod Forsaken scar 2God Forsaken Solemn 2God Forsaken sun 2

Good luck!

-jdt-

Guest Interview: Tabitha Freeman

Today, I’m honored to have indie author Tabitha Freeman give an interview here on my blog, one of several stops on her current blog tour. See the details of Tabitha’s latest publication below; for now, here’s TRF!

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1.) Your newest book “Iniquity” debuted August 19, 2014 and has already hit the bestseller status. Tell us a little bit about it!

TRF: It’s a New Age horror fiction read and it circles around a group of six people who committed a horrific crime five years earlier. They are brought together again by some pretty dark forces completely out of their control and the story spins into raw terror from there.

2.) Tell us why this is a perfect Halloween month read.

TRF: October is the one time a year we love to scare ourselves, isn’t it? INIQUITY is practically oozing with everything that makes a person not want to turn off the lights at night.

3.) What does your writing process look like? Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? i.e. Do you listen to music, sit in a certain chair?

TRF: When your career has you working from home the majority of the time, it isn’t always easy—especially for the wild imagination and short attention span of a YA author ;-). So, most days, I’m working in my office from around 6-7 a.m. into the evening around 6-7 p.m. There are definitely times I change it up, relocate myself to a coffee shop or wherever I might travel sometimes for story research or something—but most of the time, to keep my focus, I try to keep a usual routine. I have lots of quirky things in my office and on my desk and walls, which make me feel like I’m in a constant state of “down the rabbit hole”—which is awesome! And I have always made a soundtrack playlist for every book I’ve written to listen to while I’m in the writing process. What’s really cool is that now that I’m eight books in, readers and fans have taken to sending me ideas to add to playlists once my books release and that’s a fun and unique way for me to interact my imagination with my readers’. Something like that is so surreal.

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

TRF: Nothing too out of the ordinary—though I constantly talk to myself and I do periodically have to get up and pace around my house.

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

TRF: I normally don’t give answers for this question because I really like to leave that up to my readers’ imaginations, however, I definitely have some Hollywood crushes I see playing Colin Serpan—I’m talking Chris Hemsworth, or Jensen Ackles.

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

TRF: Not being able to type 500 wpm…I could write so many stories so much faster if my typing could keep up with the speed of my imagination!

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

TRF: Nothing is off the table for me. I think at this point, after eight books in that are all completely different genres from one another, my readers and fans expect a surprise every new release I do. It’s become like my M.O. as an author.

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

TRF: I like to keep my stories as “clean” as I can while not risking the integrity of the story so that more readers can enjoy them.

9.) What are you working on now? What is your next project?

TRF: I’m working on some pretty exciting stuff right now! A spin-off novel from my Ghost Story Trilogy, a dark, apocalyptic project, and I’ve gotten a lot of questions since the release of INIQUITY about other horror reads in the works: the answer is yes, you can definitely expect some more scary-ness in the 2015 year.

10.) You have 6 incredibly relatable and complex characters that lead the story in INIQUITY. Tell us what’s on their tombstones.

TRF: Oooo, this is a fun question!

Ronnie-I Guess I Did Need That Map

Tori-Vanity is Definitely My Favorite Sin

Gabriella-(A carving of Grumpy Cat in her tombstone)

Sam-That Third Wheel Eventually Ran Me Over

Mandy-Who Knew Indecisiveness Could Kill?

Colin-At Least I Looked Like Hercules

11.) What about yours? What would your tombstone read?

TRF: “This isn’t where I parked my car.”

12.) Why the theme of guilt? This story is practically dripping with it.

TRF: I think the scariest part of the entire story is just the reality within the fantasy of it: can we really ever escape guilt?

13.) What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

TRF: I’ve always been a big fan of the horror/occult genre, whether it’s in books or movies. I had the most fun writing this story, however the drafting and editing processes were brutal because I was so particular (and nearly obsessed) with not hitting cliché walls. The horror genre and its basics can be extremely predictable sometimes, and have been done over and over and over. I wanted to make sure that I could keep the basic building blocks of a horror novel intact, while still providing a unique perspective that sticks in readers’ minds and sets itself apart from others like it.

iniquity

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Tabitha, thank you for being here today! Be sure to pick up a copy of Tabitha’s work on Amazon!

-jdt-

Author Interview: Sherri Cornelius

Today, we have a special treat: an Author interview with Sherri Cornelius, the author of "Skin and Scales", her new contemporary fantasy novel, now available on Amazon.com’s Kindle store.

JDT: Thanks for stopping by today Sherri!

Welcome!

Sherri Cornelius: Thanks for having me for my first interview, Dane.

JDT:  Sherri, you’re a relative newcomer to the field of self-publishing, but you have a lot of writing experience. How long has your writing journey gone, and what path did it lead you down?

SC: The path of broken dreams! Just kidding. I started writing in middle school, but I never seriously considered it as a possible career until my mid-30s. My first novel, a heroic fantasy, landed me an agent but ultimately didn’t sell. I thought once I had an agent I would be all set, but it didn’t work out that way. She sent out two books for me over four years before I decided to go a different way. So now I’m starting all over again. Trying new things.

JDT: Tell me about "Skin and Scales" — what inspired it?

SC: ‘Twas a dream. Specifically, I dreamed of traveling through the as-yet-unnamed Desmayo to the Black Veil, watching my skin flake off, and seeing scales underneath. It was the feeling of going through the Desmayo that guided my early efforts and set the tone. In the book, Drina likens it to being extruded through a tube of burning sandpaper. That was the seed from which everything else grew–the Ushers, the Light, the Lyceum.

JDT: I know Skin and Scales was a long time in the making, and your first full-length novel developed over a significant amount of time too. Unfortunately, we can’t all be as prolific as Stephen King in the 80s or Joe Konrath. For me, writing goes from something I leave simmering on the back burner for a time, to something urgent and desperate. What’s your process like as a writer? How do you develop and form your stories and bring them to life?

SC: I prefer to let things happen through the emotion. I feel what the character feels (or several characters, as in a group dynamic), and the story develops from there. Each choice feeds off the last. That’s the first draft. The second draft consists of dipping back into that well to fill in plot holes. I’ve tried notecards and snowflakes and flagpoles or tentpoles or whatever you call them, but that just confused and frustrated me.

But this is a dangerous way to work, emotionally. I think that’s why I’ve been slow in my output. When I’m in the middle of a book or story, I’m full-out happily writing, but it takes me a long time to recover from all that empathy. I’m hoping to find more of a balance with future works.

And you mention the more prolific writers–for a long time this seemed to me like the only legitimate way to be a working writer. I tried so hard to fit myself into that box. I think most of us go through a time when we try to be the kind of writer we think we should be, rather than being the writer we are. But I guess that’s how we figure it out. I tried to be Robert Jordan with my first novel, and felt like a failure when I didn’t make it. Now that I write in my truest voice I can see glimmers of it in that first book and I love it, but at the time I wanted to erase that voice.

JDT: With "Skin and Scales", the editing process seemed tough for you. Tell me about the evolution of the story.

SC: I started Skin and Scales for NaNoWriMo. I finished the story but fell short of the goal by 8,000 words. I’m used to losing NaNoWriMo, but I was mad that my book was so short. It was going to my agent, so in order for it to be viable in the traditional publishing world, it had to meet a certain word count. That was a depressing moment, when the exhilaration of finishing a whole book turned into the realization that I was only half finished, with no idea how to proceed. I resisted changing the original story for a long time. In order to bring in new (meaningful) material, I had to add characters and change where the story ended and where it began. It was a tough transition which lasted probably a year.

Once I started adding layers to make it into a novel, it took on a depth I never expected. For instance, Drina’s mother became a real character and muddied the water further with those issues. Also, Drina’s friend Caellum turned out to be a completely different kind of person than I originally thought he was. I had room for fun stuff, like Bobby Lee, the Usher who fixes Drina’s gauntlet. A bit part, but “that asshole does some fine metalwork.”

JDT: You have an interesting lead character in Drina. How did she come about?

SC: She revealed herself to me little by little. Like I said, I start with a feeling, and it builds from there. I’m sure many writers have the same kind of character discovery, where you’re writing along and a little whisper tickles your mind. “She doesn’t want to admit she needs a father,” it might say. And you trust the whisper enough to incorporate that bit into your character. And she thanks you for it and feeds you another tidbit, and another. The thing I freaking love about those tidbits is that a lot of times the thing that “just came to me” will serve the story in another way, like to fill a plot hole or serve as scene conflict. So that’s how it was with Drina.

JDT: What sort of things helped you develop the other major characters in the book? I’m especially interested in how you settled on The Foreman and the image you portrayed of that character.

SC: Ah, the Foreman. The enigmatic dinosaur. You might be surprised to know that the Foreman whispered to me more than Drina did. There’s a lot going on beneath the surface of that guy, stuff that didn’t have a place in this story but might come into play later. Caellum and Lohn were there from the beginning, and Inez came in during the expansion after NaNoWriMo. She was a nice surprise. Well, except that she’s a total bitch.

Supporting characters develop in response to not only what the story needs, but what your main character needs. They show what your MC is made of, more than any internal dialogue.

JDT: I’d been preaching to anyone who would listen to self-publish, so it was a given I would dive in. What made you decide to come aboard and self-publish "Skin and Scales"?

SC: My reasons for self-publishing are, I think, atypical. I have difficulty letting my stories go. Probably another reason I’m so slow putting out work. I noticed when I published my first short, Mon Petit Ami, that I finally had closure. I had no desire to go back and edit, aside from the single typo. The story was finished.

I’m hoping to get the same closure with Skin and Scales. I’ve lived with it too long. I love it too much to let it sit on my hard drive, forgotten. I could never forget it. So basically I’m using self-publishing as a way to let this book be finished. This book deserves to be loved. That’s all it really wants.

JDT: How did the publishing process itself go for you? What were your steps? Specifically, tell me about you did things like convert the file for Kindle format, layout your manuscript, prepare the table of contents, software to make the cover, things like that. We like the little techy deets here!

SC: Techy deets…

Well it’s easy to format a Word manuscript for the Kindle. They offer a free ebook with detailed instructions for the manuscript itself and the table of contents. I think most of the problems come in when you have a lot of pictures embedded throughout your book, which I didn’t have. I had a lot more trouble with the Smashwords conversion on the other two stories, but I can’t put Skin and Scales on Smashwords until the Kindle Select period is over.

The cover was a different challenge. With the two shorts’ covers under my belt I felt comfortable tackling the novel myself. Half the challenge was finding the proper images. I’d been looking on the free site sxc.hu for months, and nothing felt right. There were some that could have worked, but they weren’t what I wanted. So I expanded my search to the paid sites, and that was where I found The Light I needed for $20.

I used GIMP 2.8, which has a steep learning curve but is the closest alternative to Photoshop that I’ve found. One piece of advice I have for those just learning GIMP is this: Save after each change, but save it with a different descriptive name, like PicAfterOilify or PicTitle3. Believe me, you WILL want a previous version at some point. Don’t think, I’ll never forget how I did this! Because you will.

JDT: I was one of your early beta readers for the original story, and it seemed to be an interesting take on the "other world" sort of things, without being paranormal. How hard was it for you to come to a classification for the novel?

SC: This issue is another reason I decided to self-publish. Skin and Scales is probably the poster child for self-publishing because it won’t fit easily into any box. Someone who’s used to (and expects) very formulaic, plot-driven genre fiction isn’t my target audience. It’s emotional, but not romance. It’s gritty, but not urban. They have scales, but it isn’t, like, lizard alien sci-fi. It’s the afterlife, but not Heaven and Hell. In fact, the working title (as you know well, Dane) was Black Veil Angel, but I knew it would draw readers who were looking for wings and robes. This ain’t that. So it’s been a challenge to come up with a box to fit Skin and Scales into. In the end, I chose the broad category of contemporary fantasy.

JDT: How has your experience with Kindle Select been so far? Are you going to participate in it again, or just let it expire so you can get away from the exclusivity?

SC: As far as I can tell, the only advantage to Kindle Select is the borrow feature. I’ve had exactly zero borrows on two short stories and one novel, so I won’t be using it again in its current incarnation. To have no presence on Barnes and Noble and Sony seems like shooting myself in the foot.

JDT: My books all seem to do okay, as long as they’re free, but I don’t burn out any calculators with sales figures otherwise. What sort of success are you having with self-publishing? What sort of promotions have you tried?

SC: It’s still too early to tell, but I’m not setting any sales goals. I tried a Facebook ad. It didn’t lead to any sales, as far as I could see, but it was fun to play with. I did a free promotion which was more successful than I expected. We’re not talking huge numbers here, in the low hundreds, but I think from those downloads I got a couple of sales and reviews. What I’d hoped to achieve was a little name recognition, and later on some word-of-mouth sales.

But really, I’m just chillaxin’ about the whole thing. I put the pressure on myself when I had an agent, and it almost killed my muse. That girl has been through a lot. So I’m focusing on access, letting readers come to me and making it easy when they get here. I’ve made sure to update my various author pages, like Amazon and Goodreads, and I’m still working on my website. I might have to get outside help on that one. But I have time.

JDT: Finally, what advice would you give a newbie to self-publishing before they embark on their own journey?

SC: The only advice I have to give is to try many different things, and don’t be afraid to let go of what isn’t working. Even if it’s your own expectations.

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Thanks again for being here today, Sherri, and best of luck with your novel! All success to you!

Book page:
http://www.amazon.com/Skin-and-Scales-ebook/dp/B00C5SZSPC/ref=zg_bs_158579011_f_60

Amazon author page:
http://www.amazon.com/Sherri-Cornelius/e/B00BPH5QGU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Smashwords free short story:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/93911

Blog:
http://sherricornelius.com