THE ANATOMY OF A TELEVISION INTERVIEW

A look behind the scenes of any performance, be it stage, radio, or television holds a certain fascination. It was in the spirit of documenting an interview that I approached Cheri Lasota, author of Artemis Rising, and Veronica Esagui, author of The Scoliosis Self-Help Resource Book, Veronica’s Diaries and host for the television talk show, The Author’s Forum. Having received that permission, I want to introduce Veronica as she shares some thoughts about her approach to The Author’s Forum.

Veronica Esagui

“Once a guest is scheduled for an interview, I read their book or books, and compose questions as varied as the author’s genre. Most personal information is obtained from the author’s website or blog, or the back cover of the book. Some guests like to be surprised and leave the questions up to me, but others prefer to make a list of their own. Either way, it’s important to promote their work in the way they desire. The introduction and closing words are basically the same with every show. I like to help the authors relax, and try my best to make them smile before the lights and cameras go on.”

To give equal time to the author’s point of view, I asked Cheri what sort of preparations she made.

Cheri Lasota

“I spent most of my time choosing book excerpts, making sure they were short—a couple of minutes at most. I practiced reading slowly and as engagingly as possible. I wanted to emphasize the storyline rather than the mechanics of the delivery. I was pleased how Veronica drew attention to what makes my novel unique, both in terms of marketing strategies and setting.

During the taping, I felt quite relaxed, possibly due to my background in film. Since Veronica gave clear instructions as to what she needed and wanted, I tried to make sure my responses were genuine and not a “fake TV” image of myself. It was a lot of fun!”

Getting cameras & guest in position

Now I must mention the awesome staff at Willamette Falls Media Center studios. Karen Sorbel is both producer and editor, while Linda Jane Becker, operates the cameras. Linda wears headphone during the taping so that Karen can speak to her from the control booth overlooking the set.

Control screens

The main room itself is spacious, and contains several sets, including the one for The Author’s Forum. Three impressive cameras provide separate angles, and Linda receives directions from Karen in the control room. This technical tie-in is crucial for getting angles, close-ups, or broader views just right for the finished product. Screen shots must have smooth transitions from one speaker to another. During these preliminaries, bright flood lights are switched on.

View from the control booth

Host and guest are positioned in their respective set chairs to see how they fit together spatially. Because of differences in height, camera adjustments are necessary. Next, collar microphones are attached and checked for sound. The producer listens to voice levels to achieve the best mix of tone and audibility. The guest learns to look for the red light that indicates which camera is being used. The main advice, however, is to forget the cameras and speak as naturally as possible.

During this procedure, the question arose about the best way to display Cheri’s Apple iPad screen on camera. Because Artemis Rising was not yet available in print, Veronica hoped to show the book cover to the television audience. After several adjustments, the issue was resolved, and the countdown began. “Lights, action, camera.”

Ready to Roll

Veronica begins as the central camera’s red eye lights up, and the interview is underway. Cheri’s interview will be aired mid-April or so and will also be available on Veronica’s website.

Learn more about Artemis Rising or contact Cheri at http://www.cherilasota.com. The book is available in all digital formats and can be purchased at SpireHouseBooks.com, iTunes, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and KoboBooks.com.
Links etc.

Books by Veronica Esagui can be found at: bookstores, Amazon.com, Smashwords, and also directly from her website.

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Introducing the Indelibles

If you’re a fan of YA fiction, you’ve probably heard of the Tenners, the Elevensies, the Apocalypsies, and the Lucky 13s. Now marketing guru Shelli Johannes Wells has teamed up with twenty-four other indie and small press authors to bring you the Indelibles.

Who are the Indelibles?

“We are indie authors who write middle grade and young adult fiction. We are dedicated to leaving a permanent mark on the world with our stories and words. We are The Indelibles.”

Each week, they’ll explore fun, fabulous, and fierce topics for today’s teens, drawing on pop culture and themes from the books they write. Check out their official launch Monday, January 9th for fun giveaways at http://indeliblewriters.blogspot.com/. They’ll also be having a “blogger” chat on January 11th and a writer/author chat on the 18th to answer questions about self and indie pubbing. See their blog for details

Follow the Indelibles on Twitter.

Like the Indelibles on Facebook.

Published in: on January 9, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview: Cheri Lasota

Today I’d like to introduce the lovely and talented Cheri Lasota.  Cheri is an editor at Stirling Editing, and recently launched her debut novel in September through SpireHouse Books.  Cheri, I’m so happy to welcome you to share some of your thoughts with me and my readers.

When did you first start writing?  What kinds of books inspired you as an author?

I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing, to be honest. But I do know I made my first attempt at novel writing in third grade. In those first years, my only goal was to just finish a story. It took me decades to be able to do that. I had to learn the hard way that I have to outline my fiction before I begin. It doesn’t work any other way for me. I grew up solely with classics by Dickens, Hawthorne, Melville, Tennyson, and Wordsworth. Words and rhythm were my passions and I cultivated them carefully over the years.

Did you become an editor first and a writer second?

My first editing job was in the Azores Islands (interestingly also the setting of Artemis Rising). I was the editor of my high school newspaper. I went on to work at two other newspapers as well as for a nonprofit group. I much preferred the fiction world, however, so after a couple decades of honing my editing skills as well as fiction writing, I started a freelance editing business in 2004: Stirling Editing. I adore working with and encouraging novelists and short story writers. No better job in the world.

Your book, Artemis Rising, has such an interesting setting.  Why did you pick the Azores Islands as the background?

My father was in the Air Force and we were stationed in the Azores Islands when I was 15- to 16-years old. The Azores are a group of nine islands about 800 miles off the coast of Portugal. I had never heard of them before moving there. I would compare them to Hawaii in terms of beauty. They are volcanic islands owned by Portugal but they have very little commercialism. It’s an idyllic, quiet existence, and I loved every moment of it. When I left the islands, I knew I had to capture that time in my memory forever, and what better way to do that then to write it into my first novel?

How did the plot for Artemis Rising come about?

I built my whole story around three major elements: the culture, land, and faith of the Azorean people; the Greek myth of Alpheus and Arethusa; and the Arthurian legend of Tristan and Isolde. What on earth do these three elements have in common? It took a decade of my life to figure that out. And whoa! the parallels will amaze you.

Are you an outliner or a pantser?

As I mentioned before, I’m definitely an outliner. I’m an absolute wuss when it comes to the blank page. I shake in my boots and the whole bit. So I have to create a little box for myself to work within. You can’t just show me the open road and tell me to hit the gas. Doesn’t work. I need to know where I’m going and why. I’m probably the most over-organized writer you’ll ever meet. =)

I know you’re working on a new book.  Can you tell us a little about that one?

This next book has been a breeze to write! It’s because I finally understand how I work best, so I definitely plotted this one out way ahead of time. I’m about halfway through. The novel is set on the Oregon Coast (so I can finally have easy access to setting research!) and it involves a fictitious lighthouse and spans two lifetimes. The first story is set in the 30s when the lighthouse was still in use. The second story takes place in present day when the lighthouse is being restored to its former glory. There is a bit of a mystery in this novel, and how those two storylines intertwine is where the magic happens.

Artemis Rising, an ebook, features interactive links.  Did your publisher come up with those?

SpireHouse Books and I brainstormed cool ideas for interactive ebook content together. We both brought things to the table and then narrowed them down to the very best. We have old classic maps, an author page, external links to my website, etc., a hyperlinked glossary, and up next I’ll be trading chapter one excerpts with other authors. The possibilities are endless! And the great thing is that we can change up these features whenever we want.

One of the unique things you did to promote Artemis Rising was to make a video book trailer.  What can you tell us about that and where can we see it?

I’m blessed to have many friends within the Portland film scene. They went above and beyond to help me create a kind of mini-film of my book that showcases scene snippets from the book and brings them to life. We filmed in Portland and on the Oregon coast and I often say that those two production days were some of the best of my life. To see scenes from my novel come to life before my eyes…there’s just nothing quite like it. Since Director Bill Thoma of Axiom Shift Productions wrapped up production, I’ve been able to incorporate the trailer into my book marketing campaigns in many innovative ways and it has truly given Artemis Rising a broader audience.

Where can we find your book and how can inquiring minds contact you?

Learn more about the novel or contact me at http://www.cherilasota.com. The book is available in all digital formats and can be purchased at SpireHouseBooks.com, iTunes, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and KoboBooks.com.

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SpireHouse Books launched Cheri Lasota’s first novel, Artemis Rising, in Sept 2011. The book is a YA historical fantasy based on mythology and set in the exotic Azores Islands. Currently, Cheri is writing and researching her second novel, a YA set on the Oregon Coast. Over the course of her sixteen-year career, she has edited fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and short stories for publication. Cheri also has twenty-four years of experience writing poetry and fiction.

September Lingers

If I’d known what September held, I might have battened down the hatches and stayed in bed. Instead, I got up and went about my business. Several hours before midnight on August 30th, I was tooling along in traffic when a driver pulled out of an apartment complex, hitting me and starting the snowball to hell. Fortunately neither of us was injured. Damage to my car appeared minimal, and we were both insured. 🙂 Easy fix, I thought. No, the estimate I received didn’t please the insurance company. But neither did their appraisal figures. I was asked to submit my keys and title because the car was a total loss. What I had was a door that needed a new panel, probably a hood, and a bumper. So I argued fruitlessly with them and my insurance company refused to intervene since the accident was not my fault. Then I was told I could retain my car but would have to buy it back from them and obtain a salvage title. They sent papers that never arrived. Finally, we did it with a fax. But to my horror, a salvage title says: a salvage car cannot be licensed or tagged and I would have to surrender my plates. So what good would this do me? I finally found a customer service number for DMV and learned that my car would not be a salvage car; just a totaled one. I have to re-register for the title, allow them to “brand” the title as Totaled, let them check the car to verify the VIN number, and pay the fees. As of October 4th,I think we have reached a resolution. Hopefully, I’ll receive a check and my chariot will be repaired about mid-month.

We’ve also been busy at home, having windows replaced and dry rot repaired. Because the reconstruction involves office space, vital equipment has either been moved out or bunched together, requiring considerable agility to maneuver around file cabinets, computers, printers, and telephones. I’ve come close to standing on my head during a file search. Personal papers, once stacked here and there, are missing. If I’d sorted and filed them, I wouldn’t be in this pickle. Of course these stacks were seldom used because I could never find what I wanted when I wanted it.

I’m hoping October will prove a much happier month. After all, this weekend is Wordstock, and I’ll be there selling copies of Volunteer for Glory in The Starving Writer booth! See you there?

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm  Comments (12)  
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Scattered Pieces Released by Webfoot Publishing

It seems fitting and somewhat ironic that in announcing the publication of Scattered Pieces, I should think back upon my life. Perhaps all lives are scattered pieces, pieces dealt to us by fate, and the pieces we chose to play in such and such a way.

In my story, Katie Harris looks back to assemble the scattered pieces of her past. Katie’s life was marked early when her little brother, the mischievous Jimmy, wiggled away from her at a Cleveland train station.  His disappearance marked Katie and her parents with what might be a brand that says: LOST. AT FAULT.

As I write that, I think I might bear a similar mark. LOST. TWO SONS. Though I never consciously plotted Katie’s story using my personal history, it may have been at the core of my disseminating dream. My dream: a little boy waits with his father outside a train station. As a spectator, I see the father bring the boy inside. But two menacing figures accost them and the child vanishes.

This was the first dream. The second began after I went back to sleep. This time I’m at an airport, sitting on an outside bench.  A little girl wheels an empty baby buggy toward me. “I’m looking for him,” she says, and walks toward an airplane waiting on the tarmac. Waking again, I reviewed the two dreams, and Scattered Pieces began to take shape in my mind.

As Katie’s life of trauma, love, and mystery unfolded, Lisa Nowak was one of my best pre-beta readers.  Her enthusiasm for Scattered Pieces culminated this week with its publication through Lisa’s company, Webfoot Publishing. Besides having stepped into the world of publishing, Lisa is also the author of the YA series Full Throttle , beginning with Running Wide Open, a coming of age story set against an exciting background of stock car racing.

I want to thank Lisa and Webfoot Publishing for making this dream a reality. And the awesome ladies of Chrysalis who listened and commented, week after week, during it’s initial reading.

Scattered Pieces can be found for the low price of $2.99 in e-book format at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and on Kindle at Amazon.  The print version will be available sometime in November. If you’re interested in reading it and letting me know of any typos you spot, I’ll send you a free copy. Just leave a comment below.

Published in: on September 12, 2011 at 10:46 am  Comments (11)  
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New Friends and Kindred Spirits

Yesterday I had the privilege of presenting Volunteer for Glory to a wonderful group of people at Tanner Springs Assisted Living. Admittedly, I was nervous as I’d only given readings, and being without a script was a challenge. Once there, however, I felt an amazing warmth and kinship with these remarkable individuals.

How do you describe such an atmosphere without resorting to clichés? You can mention the smiles and gentle responses from each person you greeted. You can refer to their polite attention. And you can report their participation, especially when I asked them to share thoughts, opinions, or memories.

One lady had spent time in the South where the Civil War still lives in a collective memory of carpetbaggers and hard times. That brought on a discussion of the bitter aftermath of Reconstruction following Lincoln’s assassination. The South had lost their greatest friend, for Lincoln’s desire had been to “bind up the nation’s wounds.” Then she told us that only about 5 percent of Confederate soldiers were slave owners. The majority of Rebel soldiers were poor farmers without an economic stake in the fortunes of the big plantations. Another resident remarked that some wives followed their men to wash, sew, and cook.

When I mentioned how different life was in the days before computers, cell phones and iPods, a woman seated in the back row shared a childhood memory from the Depression.  “My father farmed using horses,” she said,  “as we couldn’t afford a tractor. But when he’d come in after a day of plowing, I’d run to meet him.  We had two mares, and he would pick me up and set me on the back of the gentlest, the one named Ruth. I was so proud to ride into the barn on that big horse.” I could see her in my mind’s eye; a sweet mite of a girl running to greet her daddy at day’s end. I could also imagine the man in his cotton shirt and overalls, setting his little girl on the massive draft horse to ride like a queen across the barnyard.

A dress and sunbonnet, part of the Civil War era fashions kindly lent by Roxie Matthews, sparked another story. A wonderful lady told of wearing a sunbonnet to work in the fields, day after day, enduring hot sun and backbreaking labor. Scratching out a living in the ’30s required that everyone pull his or her weight.

Several hands rose when I asked if any had seen husbands or brothers go off to World War II. They nodded, knowing what it was like to be left behind while loved ones marched into danger with no assurance of return.

As a bonus, I’ve been invited back to present Wrenn, Egypt House, and the soon-to-be published, Scattered Pieces. One lady has already spoken for a copy of Scattered Pieces as she can relate to the 1940s. But the sweetness of this afternoon was not in the selling and signing of books. It was in meeting extraordinary people and discovering the riches of friendship and wisdom they offer.  I can’t wait to go back!

Does Reading Make You Happy?

According to an article in last Sunday’s Parade Magazine, researchers at the University of Maryland found that reading a novel elevates one’s mood, even if the story has a depressing theme. I count that as an endorsement for the art we writers pursue. If I’d read this article prior to the Book Fair at Pioneer Square, it would have presented an interesting topic of conversation.

While I wouldn’t describe our sales at the Fair as brisk, Puddletown books were sold. Friends were greeted with enthusiasm, and a tour of other tables revealed alluring selections. I bought another Jean Sheldon mystery, The Seven Cities of Greed, which I just finished reading. The well-researched setting is fascinating, as is her ability to juggle a cast of characters who keep the action moving.  I visited with Veronica Esagui, author of Veronica’s Diaries, but since her third book hasn’t been released yet, was unable to make that purchase.

Two readings for Volunteer for Glory are scheduled this month, and final approval on a cover design for Scattered Pieces draws near.  Even as a laggard summer makes its appearance, time is racing away.

Published in: on August 9, 2011 at 9:07 am  Comments (9)  
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One To Get Ready, and Two To Go

The “one to get ready” announcement is a reminder of the NW Publishers Book Fair in Portland’s Pioneer Square on July 30th.  Puddletown Publishing Group will have a table, and I’m very excited to be one of their authors.  Pat Lichen, Roxie Matthews, Susan Landis-Steward and I will be there to schmooze and autograph copies of our books; Volunteer for Glory, Kidnapping the Lorax, Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice, and The Blind Leading the Blind.  Other tables will feature other publishers and authors.  Don’t miss Jean Sheldon, publisher and mystery writer (Flowers for Her Grave and Woman in the Wing) and Veronica Esagui, host of the local TV show, Authors Forum, and author of Veronica’s Diaries.  Come out to peruse, visit, and buy. The Fair runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Tents are provided for the booksellers in case the fickle Oregon weather decides to drizzle.

My “two to go” is announcing that, Scattered Pieces, my third novel, has come to the final round of checking for typos.

Scattered Pieces is scheduled for a late August release through Lisa Nowak’s Webfoot Publishing. Between now and then is the final run through of the manuscript and approval of a completed cover.  Lisa has just published her own YA novel, Running Wide Open, the first of a five book series set in the world of stock car racing.  Her second book, Getting Sideways, is set for publication in September.

I am still completely hyped with the positive reception that Volunteer for Glory is receiving and will continue to work hard at marketing, but I’m also looking forward to releasing Scattered Pieces first in e-pub formats and then in POD.

For those of you who don’t know anything about the story, Scattered Pieces is set from 1946 to 1961, a more recent era than the Civil War or turn-of-the-century. (Wrenn, Egypt House.) When Katie Harris’s little brother, Jimmy, disappears at a Cleveland train station, her life, and the life of her family, will never be the same. Determined to be the best she can be, and to make up for her brother’s loss, Katie excels in school, eventually majoring in psychology.  In the course of a graduate counseling internship, she is assigned an unsettling client who may be the link to what happened to Jimmy.