Monday, May 28, 2012

Interview with Melissa Foster, Best Selling Author of ‘Megan’s Way’

K-Thank you so much for joining us. I am delighted to do this interview. I have so many questions.  First, let me make sure I have all the facts. You are an award-winning author of three novels. You are the founder of the World Literary Café, where you mentor and support other writers. You also founded the Women's Nest, a social and support community for women, and your newest venture, Fostering Success. In addition, you are a wife and mother to six children. Did I miss anything?

M- Wow, I sound busy, lol. You’ve got it, that’s me in a nutshell, but I have to admit, I am also a chocoholic and a tweetaholic. I need a few 12-step programs. And, Kat, I’m truly honored to be your guest today. I admire your generosity and kindness that you share with those around you.

K- I have so much admiration for you, Melissa. I do not know how you manage to juggle everything. Will you please describe a typical day in Melissa Foster’s life? I want to know how your secrets. Please start with what time you wake up, meals, caffeine consumption, everything in between and then end with what time you go to sleep.

M- I’m afraid I will bore you terribly. I get wake up every morning at about 5:30am and just lay in bed thinking of the day ahead, until about 6:30. Then I rally my 12 yr old, shower, dry my mop of hair, and wake up my 11 yr old at 7. I then head for the kitchen, where there are lunches to be made and coffee to be brewed, and many shouts of, “Jake, get out of bed. I mean it. Now, please.” I drive Jess to school, then come back and drive Jake to school, then at 8:45 I sit at my computer and dive into social networks and emails. This takes hours. I teach people to take 10 minutes – no more – but for me, it’s an all day affair that doesn’t end until about 12:30am. At 10 am I start bouncing between writing, emails, and answering WLC inquiries. In between, I check in on my private author groups on FB and try to respond to every Twitter DM that isn’t a sales pitch. I also spend about an hour each day reaching out and marketing aspects of WLC to groups to see how we might collaborate.

The second cup of coffee is consumed around 1pm with a baked chicken breast and cucumber (summer diet), followed by Starburst, Laffy Taffy, or Skittles (no chocolate while preparing for vacation). 2:15 I pick up my 12 yr/old, then I pick up my 11 yr old at 3, and they do their own thing while I run through emails again. The rest of the night is a blur of preparing for WLC promotions, jotting down story ideas, checking social networks, and marketing.

I fall into bed at 12-12:30am, read until 1am, then close my eyes and get ready to start again.

This is all going to change soon. I’m reclaiming my life, redesigning my schedule, and I will be writing again from 7:30-1 daily, beginning June 1st.

K-I don’t know how you do it.  Only two cups of coffee? So June 1st is the big day. It sounds like a new book or books might be in the making this summer. I can’t wait!

When I read ‘Megan’s Way’, it was quite a ride. In the beginning, the intensity of what Megan was experiencing actually made my chest hurt. Then later, oh, how I cried & cried... I know that your inspiration came from a health scare that your mother went through, it must have touched you deeply.

M- I am truly lucky. My mother is one of my best friends, and I respect her as a mother, a business person, and, of course, as a friend. When she had her health scare, she kept the truth from me for a year. When I learned that if she’d had cancer, she would not have gotten treatments (this was twenty years ago – treatments did not have as favorable of an outcome at that time), I was deeply hurt. Although I had children of my own at the time, I reverted to an angry teenager, and it was all about me, “How could you choose to leave me like that?!” It took me about ten years to come through the other side of that selfishness and see how selfless she actually had been acting. To say I was touched is beyond an understatement. I live in fear of the day I lose my mother. It’s not that I’m a Mama’s Girl, just that I so adore her, that I know I’ll miss her every second of the rest of my life.

K- I know exactly what you mean. I can’t bear to think about losing my mother. She is a breast cancer survivor and I thank God every day and pray to keep her healthy.

Let’s get off that topic and on to something fun!

I heard that Megan’s Way is going to be a movie! That must be a dream come true. How did it come about?

M- Again, I think I’m very lucky. I was referred to my director while I was on vacation in Cape Cod, and she happened to be there at the same time.  She read Megan’s Way, loved it, and really believed in Megan’s Story. It is, indeed, a dream come true.

K- If you could cast the actors, who would you choose?

M- I really love Virginia Madsen. I’d love to see her as Megan. As for Olivia, I’m not sure, but I think Elle Fanning would be fantastic.

K-I have a ritual. I like to do a “writing exercise” with the authors that I interview. I give them a scene and then ask them to re-write the scene in their own special style. Are you game?

M-Okay, I’ll take a shot:

K-Okay- here you go:

Anil sat quietly in the dark room, staring down into the amber liquid in the glass he held in his hand. He quickly swallowed the whiskey, in one gulp. Then he screamed out filthy obscenities, while he hurled the glass to the floor. He grimaced as a large glass shard bounced up and lodged in his bare ankle. He reached down and grabbed the glass shard, and pushed it deeply in to his skin, and then pulled the shard through his leg, all the way up to his knee. 
He screamed out in pain and then grabbed the glass shard and threw it back on the floor. He did not notice the blood gushing down his leg and pooling on the floor. He felt a little better now. He had discovered that cutting himself seemed to calm him down. Sometimes he became so irate and agitated it took more than just a few cuts. It was starting to escalate. Like a drug, he needed more and more. The month before he was not able to soothe himself until he had sliced off his pinky finger

M- Anil sat in the corner of the room, the darkness pressing in on him. He clenched a whiskey glass between his three fingers and his thumb. He sucked down the whiskey in one fast gulp, grimacing as the hot liquid slid down his throat, then grit his teeth and threw the glass against the wall. His heartbeat pounded in his ears, sweat poured down his brow. He breathed in fast, hard spurts, wishing his fiancé hadn’t left him, made a fool of him. He’d show her. He stood, a shard of glass sliced into the arch of his bare foot.
“Mother effer!” He crouched, yanked the glass from his foot, and watched the blood gush onto the cold concrete floor. Anil mumbled under his breath as he jabbed the glass into his calf, tearing it upward, leaving a thick trail of blood oozing onto the floor. His pulse calmed. Numbness set in. I’ll show that bitch. His eyes bulged, settling on his missing pinky. Cutting was his savior—the pinky had been just the beginning.

K- I love it!  So delightfully twisted! 

Do you have any exciting events or book promotions coming up?

M- I think every book promotion is exciting! I am currently on a summer blog tour, and my newest manuscript, TRACES OF KARA, is currently being shopped to publishers, so we shall see where that lands me. I’m refocusing WLC for authors to make it a more user-friendly site, and that’s going to be a big change. Fostering Success is currently in a beta-testing stage, and I’m exciting about launching that in the next 4 weeks. Overall, I think I have a lot to look forward to, and I hope to bring my readers several great stories in the next 12 months.

K- Melissa, thank you so much for joining us. It was wonderful chatting with you. Where can people find you and your work on the web?

Thank you, Kat, it was my pleasure! Below are my links, and I love to chat with readers, so please, find me! Xox

My social network for women- 
The Women's Nest
Facebook  (Fanpage)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

' Hirens Magical Adventure' Review by Fabulous Book Blogger Josie Ann

  ***Hiren's Magical Adventure climbed to #1 in Kindle Action Adventure and #2 in Ghost Stories!

Title:  Hirens Magical Adventure
Author:  Kathleen Patel
Genre:  Fiction; Young adult; Fantasy; Adventure

My Rating:  5/5

Summary:  When Hiren starts to misbehave his parents decide to send him back to India to learn about his heritage and culture. He reluctantly says good bye to his friends and family and goes on the journey of a lifetime. He learns about fascinating traditions that date back thousands of years. He meets a mysterious girl that shows him some of the magic in India. She introduces him to the exotic animals friends in the jungle and teaches him about the magical meditation that enables them to leave their bodies and let their spirits travel through the universe.  He also encounters some ghostly family secrets wrapped in mysticism and mystery. But in the end, he learns that love truly conquers all.

Review:  I was asked to review this book by the author, and I'm honestly happy that she approached me because I absolutely loved this book!!  I loved the cover of this book, because if anyone knows me, they know that I have a huge soft spot for tigers.  Anyway, in Hirens Magical Adventure, Hiren is sent to India by his parents to stay with his grandparents for the summer, to learn to appreciate his heritage.  Before Hiren went to India, I sympathized with him, because it just seemed to me as if he really didn't understand why his family had to be different than any other American families.  When Hiren went to India, he stayed with Dadee and Dadoo, which I learned is an Indian tradition as to what you would refer to your grandma and grandpa as.  As the story went on, I was super anxious to find out all about the family's secrets and why they were so unaccepting of Dimpi and Pratibha.  I loved the fact that this book kept me on the edge of my seat, and kept me wanting more.  If you read this book, not only will you enjoy it, but you will learn about the Indian culture, which I appreciated so much.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Swan Song to KDP

Alas,  it has become painfully clear that  KDP may no longer a friend to the Indie author. There may be a few exceptions, but as of late, the Kindle Free Days dream seems to be over. 

Or is it?

If you are not familiar with Amazon's KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Program, it's simple.  Writers agree to publish their books to Kindle- exclusively. You cannot sell your books anywhere else.  In exchange, you are given the opportunity to offer your book free, for five days in a 90 day period. 

In the beginning, authors were suspicious.  We didn't want to exclude all the other sites that were selling our books. We worried about getting locked in that 90 day time frame of exclusivity. 

However this was an opportunity to get our precious books out in the world. Dozens, hundreds, even thousands could download our books.  There was a possibility that
throngs of adoring fans would be drawn to our work. They might even  fall in love with our books; with our babies, and then tell all of their friends. And we could beam with joy, like proud parents..

As the first few pioneers braved the new frontier, they came back with tales of delight.  

Russell Blake    blogged about his 10,000 downloads and the incredible spikes in sales after the Free Days Promotion.  He even explained the elusive "Amazon Algorithm".  

R. S. Guthrie joyfully reported that during his promotion of one book, L.O.S.T.,  his other book climbed the charts to dazzling heights.

 "My book, Black Beast, new cover and all, was at #28 PAID in Horror! More than that, three slots above me was my childhood hero,Stephen King!!"

There have been collaborative successes like the Free Partay group that has boosted many books in to the Kindle Top 100, causing astronomical downloads and then outstanding sales.  The Indie Book Collective, specifically through the FREE Par-Tay/IBB events, "...planned to make ebook promotion supersonic!"

Suddenly, everything changed.  The magic was vanishing quickly.  Even the pioneers could sense that something was amiss...

JD Currie  wanted to investigate this phenomenon. He is tracking the experiences of multiple authors, requesting that others sharing their experiences.  

Phoenix Sullivan  became suspicious and started to look in to a possible "price bias".  In fact,  Edward Robertson did some extensive research and found that the new algorithm, along with this price bias could prove deadly to the indie author. 

Wait! It appears that all is not lost-  I  bring you new hope!  

Edward Robertson decided he would try an experiment, and went all out with a three day free promo.  His results were a happy surprise!  A day and half after the promo ended, Ed's book, 'Breakers', was downloaded by 26,000 readers and has (so far) enjoyed 173 sales, 93 borrows and was sitting pretty in the charts:

Ed says, "Anyway, what does this mean long-term? I don't know. I'm trying not to know just yet, because I don't want to get my hopes up. But prior to this free run, Breakers was #121 on the Technothrillers popularity list and worse than #500 on Science Fiction > Adventure. On day three of its run, it improved to #10 Technothriller and #27 Sci-Fi > Adventure. Right now, it's #8 and #24. I'm guessing sales will slow down after an initial rush, but hold, driven by the pop lists, at a decent clip, for an unknown length of time. If that happens, I will be a very happy Ed."

I'm going to take a chance and follow Ed's example.  I'm going to go into my Kindle Free Days with a positive attitude!.  Hiren's Magical Adventure' will be free for two days started 5/22 and running through 5/23/2012.  Thank you Ed!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Chilling scene -writing exercise with famous author D.A. Graystone

‘Two Graves’ is an incredibly well written novel. Once I started reading, I was hooked. The storyline is profound, with a captivating subplot. 

This book will keep you on your toes. The tension builds from the first page. The depth of the characters deepens your experience. The players are complex and may remind you of people that you actually know.

You will cringe as you live through the killer’s memories of torment and suffering. The abusive childhood created a rage so intense-it produced a serial killer. You may try to put yourself in his shoes; try to understand his motivation. You may not like the feelings this evokes.

Your mind will race as the tension builds and the storylines meld. What is the connection with the serial killer and the mafia? Is the Kesle Police Department tied up with the mafia? Corruption is in the air.  

How will it end?

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”  



Thanks so much for joining us for an interview today, Derek. I was captivated with your book, ‘Two Graves’. It was intense, with some brutal murder scenes. I hope it sends out a message to all bullies.

 Being a Reiki Master and a Wiccan, I would guess that your personal beliefs lean more toward the peaceful & harmonious. Was there any personal inspiration for the story?


Very true, I believe in peaceful resolutions to conflicts but I am also a realist in knowing that is not always possible, especially with bullies. Much of the inspiration for the novel came from past experiences. Yes, I was bullied when I was younger. I was in the Audio Visual club (this was the 70s before computers), I got straight A’s, was always the “good” kid in class, in other words, a total geek. I hung around with geeks and I even played the violin. (No, not the flute but then the violin didn’t ‘fit’ in the novel.) I might as well have had a target on my back.

I was saved by my one talent of being a fast runner. Both because it got me away from the bullies but it also got me accepted by the jocks, some of the worst bullies out there. I was the anomaly, a geek jock. But for that one talent, and the confidence it gave me, I would most likely have been a target all my life. And now that I have children, I see the trends still continuing and have even gotten worse. My son is bullied and,regardless of the new sensitivity toward bullying, I feel just as helpless as I did when I was his age.

And that helplessness combined with my current confidence is what drove the creation of my killer. In the aftermath of a bullying, I had thoughts of ‘I should have said this’, ‘I should have done this’. Now, what if a chronic victim could suddenly turn those thoughts into ‘I can fight back and give them even worse than they gave me’. Fighting back but to a degree that for most of us, hopefully, would only be fantasy.


I understand that pain, firsthand.  I wish more kids could find a constructive way to fight back.  Unfortunately, more often than not, it seems to happen like it does in your book.  When the victim is terrorized to a certain degree it simply pushes them over the edge.  Every time you hear of a tragic massacre in a school, the perpetrators were victims of  bullying. It's just heartbreaking.  

On a lighter note, if ‘Two Graves’ is made into a movie, who would you like to see cast in the roles?


Interesting you should say that. Every book I write, I have pictures of my characters pinned up on the wall, often times just pictures of people I see but often actors. And you have to remember that it can take years to write the book and sometimes my choices age themselves out of running. I did see George Clooney as Mann and originally Julianne Moore as Dani. However, I could see Poppy Montgomery in the part Dani with no problem at all. Joaquin Phoenix was always the killer, although he would have to put on some pounds. I have also promised my 88 year old father that he can have a walk on part.


I love George Clooney as Mann.  Poppy would be great- and now she even has the red hair, like Dani. Maybe your father could play the role of a veteran cop that they call in to consult with on the case. I would have never thought of Joaquin Phoenix, but if he put on a few pounds, yes, I can see it!

Please share with us, what is your writing ritual? Where do you like to write?  How often? Do you schedule time or wait for inspiration?


I write as often and whenever I can. With my schedule, that might mean at 5 in the morning or 12 at night or anywhere in between. My preference for location is a house we go to in Exuma, Bahamas. Otherwise, I do most of my writing in my basement office that the previous owners used for a storage room. The writer in me considers it warm and cozy, with convenient access to everything in the room – doesn’t that sound better than hot, cramped and crowded. Whenever the Canadian weather allows it, I also write in my back yard around the pool.

My method is to plot and plan the entire book. I also have detailed character sketches and back stories for my characters before I start. More often than not, much of the backstory doesn’t even get into the book but it is always in the back of my mind, giving motivation to the characters. Then, after I transfer all my notes to index cards, I just start writing at the beginning and to until it ends. I also set up a schedule of X number of words a day that invariably is overly ambitious and never achieved.


I like the idea a the detailed character sketches and back stories.  I think I read somewhere that Steven King does something similar. I’m going to try that technique.

Balance seems to be an issue that most authors grapple with. You have a wife, four daughters, one son, and three granddaughters. How do you balance your personal life with your writing and the promotional aspect of writing?


I have to change my bio again since one of my daughters got married and I inherited two more granddaughters. And then we have one more coming this summer. Balance? I don’t know a fledgling Indie author who isn’t an expert juggler. Strangely, it always seems to be the writing that suffers if you are not diligent in getting at it. For me, the real secret is not having to rely on the muse to tickle my creativity. I force myself to just sit down and writing something, often complete trash but usually with some nugget I can salvage. And although I just finished saying I write from the beginning to the end, my mood might dictate what I write that day. I will occasionally skip to a scene with my killer if I have had a particularly bad day. I also usually have three or four projects on the go at any one time.

But the real saving grace for me?  In Yvette, I have the most understanding wife in the world. She supports me, even if she doesn’t understand why I feel it necessary to edit the same book over and over and over. This allows me the time and energy to work (guilt free) on the various activities associated with writing and promoting.


Congrats on your two new granddaughters and also for the baby who is on the way. What a blessing.

I agree that the support of your spouse means everything.  Thank you, Yvette- the world needs more of Derek’s books : )

It sounds like  writing a murder scene could be very therapeutic. I can see that:

A bad day at work, a troublesome boss that has you all stressed out… And then, a few minutes after you get home…he gets what he’s got coming!

I have a ritual. I like to do a “writing exercise” with the authors that I interview. I give them a scene and then ask them to re-write the scene in their own special style. Are you game?



K-Okay- here you go:

Anil sat quietly in the dark room, staring down into the amber liquid in the glass he held in his hand. He quickly swallowed the whiskey, in one gulp. Then he screamed out filthy obscenities, while he hurled the glass to the floor. He grimaced as a large glass shard bounced up and lodged in his bare ankle. He reached down and grabbed the glass shard, and pushed it deeply in to his skin, and then pulled the shard through his leg, all the way up to his knee. 
He screamed out in pain and then grabbed the glass shard and threw it back on the floor. He didn't notice the blood gushing down his leg and pooling on the floor. He felt a little better now. He had discovered that cutting himself seemed to calm him down. Sometimes he became so irate and agitated it took more than just a few cuts. It was starting to escalate. Like a drug, he needed more and more. The month before he was not able to soothe himself until he had sliced off his pinky finger.


This was fun! However, you might notice that my characters are usually more proactive, less prone to self-infliction and more prone to blaming others for their problems – and then taking it out of them.

Anil sat staring at the old style computer monitor, absently swirling the amber liquid in the Glencairn glass, not even noticing the enticing aroma of the whiskey. He couldn’t take his eyes off the damn screen and the smiling couple on the Facebook update. Now that she was with that smiling sack of skin, Anil knew he was forgotten, ignored. Nonexistent.

“You bitch,” he said in a low voice.

Downing his drink in a single gulp, he weighed the heavy glass in his hand. Pulling back, he threw it, exploding the monitor in a cascade of sparks and smoke, obliterating the happy couple on the screen.

Looking down, he saw a shard of the monitor in his forearm. He studied the sharp glass, watching the blood well out. In a slow, deliberate motion, he pulled the thin glass along his arm, fascinated as the already scarred skin parted and blood dripped down his arm. He felt no pain. There was a time, before he met her, when cutting himself was the only way he felt alive. The pain allowed him to feel something, anything. Now, there was only the hollowness since she deserted him. Now, even the pain was just a dull sensation – like his entire world without her.

Cutting himself had no effect.

But cutting her?

He pulled the thin glass from his arm and watched a single drop of blood fall onto his desk. What would he feel if he was to pull this across that smiling face of hers? Would he finally begin to feel again as he sliced into those perky breasts she was so proud of? She couldn’t see a life with him? He could make sure she wouldn’t see at all. What would this little shard do to those big brown eyes of hers?

He remembered her status update and smiled. So, she was getting engaged?

How would she wear that big sparking diamond if she didn’t have a ring finger?


Wow!  I did not see that coming!  That was an excellent twist to what I had expected.  I knew it would be spectacular. Thank you.

Do you have any upcoming events or book promotions?


Thirteen Great Indie Authors and myself are participating in the Stock Up For Summer event, a free giveaway of our books June 14-16th. My other novel, The Schliemann Legacy, will be free those days. You can get more information about the event and some incredible authors at (a work in progress).


That sounds really exciting.  I will be checking that out.

Derek, thank you so much for joining us. It was wonderful chatting with you. Where can people find you and your work on the web?


I welcome all fans, stalkers and people who just have too much time on their hands while surfing the web…

Friday, May 4, 2012

Revenge for a bad reviewer

When I got my one star review, for my first book, ‘Hiren’s Magical Adventure’ my first thought was,
Who is this monster and why does she hate me?
I was not expecting a Pulitzer Prize for this juvenile/young adult book, but it sounded like she didn’t even read it! I spent a good part of the day in front of my computer crying intermittently. Then I reached out to a couple of my author friends. They gave me comfort by sharing the fact that they too had suffered through bad reviews. In fact, I learned that even "the greats" have bad reviews every now and then. They reminded me to look for the value in constructive criticism. That was difficult to do, given the hateful nature of the review and the pain that the evil book blogger had inflicted.

A few months later, I found myself with a couple of three-star reviews for my new book, ’The Dolls’. I was sad, however, this time it was different. These reviews really did convey constructive criticism. One of them was from a prominent book reviewer, Dave Avila from Digital Ink Spot. I had missed some typos, and Dave pointed that out (ouch!), along with the fact that the book could use some editing. The other was from a reader who didn't like the ending. Okay, now this was valuable information that I could use to improve my book.

Being on a limited budget, I was not sure I would be able to afford professional editing. I reached out to Melissa Foster, World Literary Café, and she recommended someone that could help me, and stay within by budget. After working with the editor, going through a couple of rounds of revisions, my finished product was ready. The new version of ‘The Dolls’ is a smooth flowing story with deeper character development and an exciting ending. I could not be happier. I will be forever grateful to Dave and Anna for their constructive criticism. In fact, I'm getting ready for my Kindle free days, on May 15 and 16th.

Now, on to the revenge…Having had some time to heal my wounds from the one star review of ‘Hiren's Magical Adventure’, I decided to have that book professionally edited, as well. I am delighted with the ‘new and improved’ edition.

 I can now look at that ugly review and laugh (bitterly). In the words of the great George Herbert,
“Living well is the best revenge...”