Category Archives: The Lit Ungeround with Cashelle

The Underground Lit speaks to Shimeka McFadden

            When Shimeka McFadden sat down to write “Skeletons,” she was not aiming to tell a story about your average secrets. The three women we meet in this story could tell a whole book alone on each of their set of lies. Not only has she captured her readers with this page turner but her readers are getting the word out and it shows by her eBook sales. Climbing the “Best Seller Rank” in the Kindle Store as a self-published author, Shimeka McFadden is learning the ropes at a great pace.

            Being from the same small town with the same profession, I had a chance to get inside Shimeka’s head about her process and the aftermath of when the book is done.

  1. “Skeletons” is about three women whose lives have been turned upside down from their pasts. How did these three women’s stories come to your mind?

When creating their secrets I had to think about my own relationship deal breakers and one of them was infidelity. However, women and men cheat for different reasons so when I created Santana’s skeleton I had to give the back story as to why she was cheating that involved me getting deeper into Santana’s current situation and how this lead her to live a lie instead of facing the truth with her husband.

Jovanna’s skeleton is that of a secret past life that she was so ashamed of that she’d do any and everything to keep that skeleton from getting out of the closet. We have all done things in our past that we may not be so proud of, but for some the shame that comes along with the secret is just too much to bear and that is when they fight tooth and nail to keep that secret from being revealed to anyone.

Asteria’s secret is more of a secret of deception and jealously. Oftentimes jealousy can cause a person to do some downright ugly things to someone that they love.

In my book not only will the reader get the drama of the skeletons hidden in the ladies’ closets, but also the reader will get an understand of how and why things can start to turn ugly.

2. At one point during your writing process did you know that you would self-published instead of going the traditional route?

I started writing Skeletons six years ago and during the writing process I thought that once I was finished I was going to shop it around and get a major deal right away. Then reality hit me after my 20th rejection letter. The reality that getting published was very difficult, even Stephen King’s best seller, Carrie, was rejected more than 30 times! Then I ran across a blog by self-published best-selling author J.A Konrath called “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing” where he talks about self-publishing and how it was changing the way authors got their work into their reader’s hands. I was blown away because only a few years ago self-publishing was frowned upon and it was too expensive. That is when I began researching and I spent hours reading blogs from that of Konrath and Joel Friedlander and learning about Amanda Hocking and Vicki Stringer. That is when I had an epiphany that maybe I could succeed at getting Skeletons in reader’s hands by self-publishing.

3. Your blog, “Six Kids and a Pen”…how do you find the time?

With six active children from 17 years old to 19 months old time is one thing that I do not have enough of. Then I think, I am giving the same twenty-four hours as anyone else in history from Benjamin Franklin to Barrack Obama and if they can find the time to do what it was that they did then I can find the time to do what I needed to do as well. I live a life of no excuses and if I used the excuse of having six children as a reason not to fulfill my dreams then how can I be an example to those six children to fulfill their own dreams? I want my kids to say, “If my mom could do it…” I found the time to make my dream a reality. If that meant getting up at 5am before everyone else then so be it. If that meant retreating into the bathroom to write with a pen and paper only to type it out later then so be it. If realizing my dream meant that I had to tell the kids or my husband no every once in a while then that is what I did. There would be times that I was at the grocery store and an idea popped into my head and I’d pull out my voice recorder to speak it until I got home then that is what I did. Thankfully I have a very strong support system of my husband, my sister, mother and father as well as my in laws who would take the three smaller kids for me while I finished up what I needed to do sometimes.

4. What do you think has been your most successful marketing tip with self-publishing?

I studied marketing in high school as well as in college and all of that I learned did not help when it comes to marketing my book. The most successful tip that I have when marketing a book is to create a buzz about your book months before your book even comes out. Get people talking about it, get them excited about it. Give them a teaser chapter (make sure that it isn’t giving away too much, but just enough to leave them wanting more). In my blog I would tie each post with something about my book and what my characters were dealing with.

5. As far as self-marketing, what do you feel doesn’t work for you?

I hate to say this but I am not a people person. Don’t get me wrong, I am a very sweet person, but I have a hard time approaching people about Skeletons. My husband and I went to a mall to sell my book and he sold more than I did because he sold me and my book shamelessly whereas I kind of hung out in the background or I seemed nervous and awkward around people. That is kind of crazy for someone who took public speaking courses and was asked twice to speak in front of a seminar. I don’t like talking about myself because I don’t like to come off to arrogant and that hurts my interaction with people that I meet on the street. I am working on it trust me.

6. What’s next for Shimeka McFadden?

Currently I am working on my sophomore book called All That Glitters and it will be released early 2012. All That Glitters is a book about an R & B singer who is on top of his game when it comes to his career, but it is his personal life that is falling apart. I am writing this book to shed some light on the fact that people fall in love with these celebrities only to forget that they are only human and what you see on the television is just an image that they are selling.

7. Where can your readers reach you?

I can be reached on my Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/skeletons or they can shoot me an email at http://www.sixkidspublishing@yahoo.com. They can also check out my blog at www.blogspot.com/sixkidsandapen.com and I am also on twitter @sixkids_pen

You can get “Skeletons” by Shimeka McFadden on Kindle or Nook. The paperback is also available through Amazon.

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The Underground Lit speaks with John F. Allen

Today’s society is all about instant gratification. Facebook and Twitter’s popularity is at an all-time high and both have become very important tools for self-published authors who may not have the financial means to drop a lot of money on promotion. Groups such as the Urban Author’s E-book Club provide an oasis for those looking to network and promote their work. These promising authors don’t have big-name companies to back them up, but the talent is there.

One of these authors in John F. Allen.

A drawer, painter and writer; John F. Allen has created Ivory Blaque, a professional thief with a powerful duo of weapons. Reaching out to his audience through his blog, John F. Allen is giving us all a look into the mind of a writer and a look into Ivory’s life through his short story.. He knows how short the average attention span has gotten and knows what to do to reach them.

 Do you believe that short stories are more marketable in today’s society?

             I believe that short stories are a great way to reach the “on the go,” audience. With today’s fast paced society, many people are inclined to read shorter prose fiction than ever before. I also feel that short story characters that come to life effectively for the readers are favored for further adventures and quite possibly a series of novels.

 On your blog, you talk about marketing strategies, do you feel that emerging authors lack in this category and if so, why?

             I feel that many emerging authors are so caught up in their writing that they sometimes fail to fully realize and/or acknowledge that there is a business side of it. Stories are written to be told and they cannot be told without an audience. If you don’t consider how to bring your stories to the attention of the audience then they won’t be read. You must actively seek out your target audience and engage them. Writing good stories alone is not enough.

 Why did you decide to make “Ivory” a short story?

             I was pleased with the concept of Ivory’s character and decided that a short story to introduce her to the world would give me the testing ground I needed to eventually fully flesh her out into a novel series character. I also wanted to gauge the market for a character of her ilk amongst a test audience. The results of which have been promising.

 Ivory Blaque is a female professional thief? Give us the background on how her character developed.

             I have to give credit where it’s due. The initial concept of Ivory was brought to me by a friend, who pitched to me a vague concept of a girl who stole two pistols that never ran out of ammo. From there, Ivory’s character background and supporting characters—with the exception of the character named Zelphius—were entirely my creation. One of the reasons I decided to pursue Ivory as a character was that my vision for her was very precise. I knew what she looked like, how she acted, etc…before I’d written the story. I had a strong affinity for her because a lot of her personality traits I patterned after my wife. I also thought that it would be an interesting challenge to write the first person point of view of a female character. One of my literary heroes—Robert B. Parker—did this with his series character Sunny Randall, from whence I drew some of my inspiration.

 Your forth coming novel is based on “Ivory.” How did you decide to further develop this story line?

             I had already created a rich history for Ivory, which wasn’t able to be utilized in the short story. I simply had more stories to tell. I fell in love with her and had already formulated some scenarios for her to face which would slowly reveal her true character to the reader. It was this; tendered with the favorable response I received from those who read, “Ivory,” which helped me to decide to develop her into a series character. Incidentally, I plan to continue to write short story adventures of Ivory to fill in gaps between novels, as I only plan to release Ivory Blaque novels semi-annually.

 Emerging authors often have to be writers, editors, marketers and distributors. How do you handle this?

             I plan. I think about what needs to be done, then read about and/or talk with people who have already done it. I then write out a list of necessary goals to achieve in order to get it all done. My writing process is to start by creating a story premise, then write a skeletal outline, followed by flushing out a first draft. I then put that first draft through a workshop of readers, who critique it. I take their critiques into advisement,then I revise…During the course of writing the manuscript, I blog about the process and sometimes publish little teasers in my monthly newsletter along with a projected release date. I also maintained a definite web presence via a website, facebook, twitter, linkedIn, etc…

 What is the best advice that you can give? Something that you’ve learned from experience that no one told you before getting into the literary game.

 I would say that the following from R.A. Salvatore sums up what I’ve learned from experience.

“There’s way too much pain in this business for anyone who doesn’t have to write. I always tell beginning writers, ‘If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t quit, you’re a writer.’ I’m not being facetious. The idea that writing is a way to get something else, be it fame or fortune, is ludicrous. The odds are astounding, and I’d wager that they’re even more astounding against someone who doesn’t love the power of the word.”

 Readers can get “Ivory” as an e-book from Barnes & Noble and Amazon. A pdf copy is also available on http://www.johnfallenwriter.blogspot.com .  Get in contact with John F. Allen on Facebook or Twitter @JohnFAllen70.

 

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The Underground Lit with Cashelle interviews Catina Sinches

It takes a real confident woman to rock curves and Catina Sinches knows all about it. “Full-Figure Monologues” is “for every curvy woman called anything but beautiful.” It zooms in on real life issues that full-figured women go through from childhood into adulthood. Although the majority of women are not video vixens, the curvy often are criticized for their size and “Full-Figure Monologues” is giving a voice to those women and to inspire all.

Catina has blended her site with blogs about everyday life that inspire all of her readers. This has given her a great platform for her book that she uses to the best of her advantage. “Full-Figure Monologues” is ready to shed light on trials and triumphs of being full-figured.

Catina Sinches knew that something inspirational could come from her life experiences and other women she knew, thus “Full-Figure Monologues” was born. With poems, short stories and a successful blog on her list of accomplishments, I spoke with Catina just as the soft cover edition of her title was released.

 How did the first few days before and after your soft-cover release feel?

 A mixture of emotions: exciting and a little stressful. The first few days before you are constantly reviewing the final proof to make sure everything is OK and ready for the printer.  The day after the book was released was surreal. You hold your book, take a look at it and say “Wow, I really did it.”

 Why did you choose to release the e-book first?

 I decided to release the e-book first because it does not require the same formatting as a soft cover. Once it is ready, it is immediately available to be uploaded.

  You also write freelance articles, do you find it easier to network your book through journalism contacts?

 I think it is the same overall. You just have to put yourself out there to meet new people and explore all avenues.

 What is the best advice that you can give to aspiring authors? Something that you’ve learned from experience that no one told you before getting into the literary game.

My advice would be to have patience, stay focused on your passion, and continue to believe in yourself every step of the way.

For more info on Catina please visit her site here www.catinasinches.com

Meet Cashelle: Self-published author Christian Cashelle is also the founder of Dynamic Image Publications. Cashelle is currently studying at Lindenwood University’s masters of fine arts writing program. She is also the 2011 Traffic Music Awards
Author of the Year in St. Louis, Missouri.

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The Lit Ungeround with Cashelle

If you are tired of reading about vampires, it’s only because you haven’t picked up Aleron yet.

Author Kane’s dedication to research and a love for the “old school” vampire has collided in the fiction horror, Aleron, the tale of a powerful fledging created by Mynea, the second born of Vlad, the father of all vampires. Breaking Vlad’s number one rule, Mynea created Aleron out of personal desires and something more powerful than they all could image was born.

Bred from deep research and an international trip, Aleron brings back roots from the original immortals that have become cultural icons in literature and the movie industry.

After Aleron took the 2011 Readers Favorite Award in the fiction horror category at the AJC Decatur Book Festival, I got a few words with Kane about the vampire phenomenon and his take on it.

 1.       What specifically in Romania inspired Aleron?

             The vampire originates in Eastern Europe. Through research I concluded Romania is where the folklore remains fresh and closest to actual fact. Bram Stoker shined a spotlight on Bucharest when he wrote ‘Dracula’ whose main character is loosely based on the former ruler of Wallacia, Vlad Tepes, aka Vlad the Impaler. Once I started my research I realized there was very rich historical value to my tale in Romania, hence my antagonist Vlad.

2.        Your website says, “Aleron by Kane will change the way you see vampires,” what makes your take on vampires so unique?

             The same difference between Mercedes and Lexus, Research and Development: I infused realism with my imagination to give birth to a fantastical story that is rooted in legend and seasoned with fact. My vampires are not of our day, they are from days of old, which brings historical richness in storytelling. There was a time when vampires were feared, even though they were beautiful, elegant, and immortal, people were still afraid of them. I have brought that back with a humanistic twist. ‘Aleron’ is sure to entertain vampire lovers, and general fantasy fiction readers alike. Whether young or old, male or female, this book has something that will keep you turning the page.

I began this tale with everyone in mind. There is genuine love between a handsome hero and his beautiful maker which women will appreciate. There is plenty of action to keep the guys intrigued as well as intricately detailed supporting vampire women. Historical fact coupled with a dynamic setting draws in the mature crowd and more experienced reader. Aleron has something for everyone.     

3.        What is the best advice that you can give to independent authors? Something that you’ve learned from experience that no one told you before getting into the literary game.

            I wish I knew the full cycle of writing a book AND getting it into reader’s hands. You can write the best book ever, but if no one knows of it, you might as well have written nothing. Writing the book is only the first step. You have to understand marketing, promoting, demographics, and most importantly, the business of selling books! DISTRIBUTION! Before you decide to become a full time author, learn as much as you can about distribution. Everyone is not on your side, and some would even love to give you the smallest piece of the pie after you’ve spent years of your life creating.

 

            If you are looking for an old twist on the rejuvenated phenomenon of vampire world, you can pick up Aleron at www.Aleron.co or anywhere books are sold. As Kane focuses on developing then next book in his series which will be available next fall, there is also a screenplay in the works for Aleron.

            Connect with Kane on his facebook page, “Aleron Kane” or follow his Twitter feed, “Aleron11.” Want a more intimate response? Then Kane@aleron.CO will get you the quickest response.

 

 Self-published author Christian Cashelle is also the founder of Dynamic Image Publications. Cashelle is currently studying at Lindenwood University’s masters of fine arts writing program. She is also the 2011 Traffic Music Awards
Author of the Year in St. Louis, Missouri.

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