Sunday, August 15, 2021

Learning Event

We had a great learning event hosted by the New England chapter of the Sisters in Crime.

What did we learn? How to use Tik Tok- hope fully for book promotion, not just entertainment. 

The class was taught by Kim Shapiro, who walked us through the basics, and explained why this could be useful for writers. 

It was held under a tent at the Sturbridge Publick House, and though hot, we had plenty of fans. 

Prolific author Edith Maxwell greets us.
For an interview with Edith, click here.

Nicole Asselin and Lisa Lieberman, not really waiting for the bar to open.
For a post about Nicole's debut, click here

Lisa is regrettably leaving us for the Chicago area. She'll be missed! 

Arlene Kay here, waiting for us to start.
For an interview with Arlene, click here

About to begin...

One gang of troublemakers- Judy Copek, Christine, Mo Walsh, and Nicole.

Hans Copek joins them.

A great time, and good information which means more work, but hopefully more sales.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Great Local Bookstore- Valley Wild Books

 Hello all you book lovers. There's a local bookstore I have to tell you about.

Valley Wild Books in Littleton, MA, is a great place, with used and new books- over 60,000 of them in a huge, roomy space, perfect for browsing. 

They also have records, tapes, CDs, and videos for those inclined to other media. 

Andrew Marciello is the genial owner, found at his station behind a mountain of books. 

Best part? They love and support local authors and the local community! 

We talked of many of my friends, whose volumes they stock. 

You can find out more about them on their Facebook page,

or just make the trip to the Littleton Common and stock up on reading material! 

You'll love the selection and the prices. 

They're having a big Teacher Appreciation Weekend, so check it out! Saturday and Sunday. 

Teacher friends stop by Valley Wild Books on August 14th and 15th!! 

They'll have bins with free books for local teachers and educators to stock their classrooms and libraries! 

They have board books through young adult and even some for teachers.

They will also have buy one get one 1/2 off all other kids and young adult books throughout the weekend.

(It also happens to be tax free weekend in Massachusetts so come take advantage!!)

Monday, August 2, 2021

Interview with Author Rich Feitelberg- with free book offer

Today we're meeting author Rich Feitelberg, author of The Aglaril Cycle fantasy series. 

Rich Feitelberg is a poet and novelist, and has collections of short stories and poetry available at fine booksellers everywhere. He is an avid map collector and student of popular culture. Growing up on a steady diet of comic books, science fiction, and fairy tales of all kinds, Rich soon began weaving his own tales at a young age. Currently, Rich is working on more poems and stories for your enjoyment. 

Here's an offer from Rich for a free book- 

"Buy a copy of any book in the Aglaril Cycle from any bookseller of your choice.

After you read it, post a review on Amazon and send me an email at 

I'll reply to get your shipping details and send you for free the next book in the series." 

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A. Crown of Power is the final book in the Aglaril Cycle fantasy series. I’ve been envisioning it for years as I wrote the other seven books, but when the time came to write it, I knew I had a lot of loose ends to tie up. I had a previous draft from years ago, which helped a little, but I also knew I had to drive the story forward with the characters, as they had evolved in the other books, not as I had them in the old draft, so I had to make adjustments. So I planned out a good bit of it as I decided how to wrap up loose ends and adjust plot lines, and then set out filling in the rest. There’s was a lot of back and forth and checking continuity, because there were many details from the previous book I couldn’t remember, and the chapters with the bad guys, which start off the novel I wrote last because they only appear at the beginning and at the end in the final battle scenes.

Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A. There was an old draft for this book — all the books in the series really — but that draft (1000 pages of pure crap which went nowhere) was only a guide. So as I wrote, I made changes. And since this is one of series, I really had to plan out in rough terms all the books for I knew where each book was going, and how certain things were accomplished. That took months and fried my little brain about halfway through the series. I almost always have some type of plot in mind when I write, but that’s me. Sometimes it works because the character changes on me, or I realize the character can’t be the way I first thought. So I make changes to work out the inconsistencies and (hopefully) improve the story in the process.

Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

A. In most fantasy, one theme is good over evil. That’s true here. Another is that working hard yields rewards. But there’s a story about race here too: how humans and elves mistrust each other. Some is justified; some is not. But relationship between groups is strained in other places too. The church and wizards don’t trust each other, for example. 

Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book? 

A. Not to preach, but tolerance between people and groups regardless of color,  religion, ethnicity, or any other classification just causes strife. And for what? We are all humans with similar hopes and dreams. It’s time to embrace the differences and end conflicts that separate us.

Q. What makes a good book or engaging story?

A. Good characters, good plot, and good writing are the trifecta. Good characters must be interesting to read about and must be believable, both in behavior and speech. My editor refused to let my wizard use words like "nope" and "yup" which I thought fit him. So I had to find another words. And he couldn’t use modern curse words either. So I resort to Horse Feathers! and By the Twelve Spheres of Magic, without explain what those were. 

Good plot is harder to achieve. I love a good plot and am always looking for a way to twist something to the unexpected, or go someplace no one has thought. Many stories don’t try that hard. They have good plots, just not one that will surprise you. I prefer to surprise the reader, because it builds tension and suspense. There are others ways to do that too, so I also like to stack the deck a little against the heroes. Then if you’ve got good characters, the reader should come along for the ride.

Good writing is subjective. What I like, others don’t, and vice versa. So let’s just say, be clear and concise. The days of spitting up a dictionary in your descriptions, like Dickens does, are gone. People are busy. So get to the point and be clear. Say what you need to, and move on. Don’t waste the reader’s time with two pages of description if one or less will do.  

Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? 

A. Well, all fantasy at the most basic level has the same theme: good vs evil. But as far as racial themes goes, Katherine Kurtz touches on similar ideas with her Deryni books. They are persecuted for hundreds of years, until Kelson becomes king.

Q. Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you? 

A. Tolkien is a big influence, as he started the modern fantasy genre. And the thing I like the best, aside from his descriptions of place, are the way the story fits together. Frodo, Gandalf, Aragon, Boromir, and all the rest are like gears that mesh so well that the result is a story that I enjoy telling and even reciting to others, but then I’m a bit of a bard at heart.

Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story? 

A. Storytelling is entertainment clearly at it’s most basic level. But a good story enlightens and educates. It has a moral or a lesson. That’s was the purpose of storytelling in ages past, and it remains true to this day.

Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?

A. I plan to kept writing and telling the stories that fill my head, partly because I like doing that, and partly to share my ideas and views with others.

Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A. The speed at which I write depends on how much I figured in the section of the story I’m in. So I might go fast, or I might struggle. It varies. 

I always revise. Always. Mostly because when I reread what I’ve done, I almost always find errors that need fixing. Generally, however, if I’m reviewing yesterday’s work, I’m only looking for spelling mistakes. Larger efforts for tone or structure are part of a separate pass after the story is complete. And I almost always put work aside for a bit so I can come at it fresh. My novels I put aside for a year or more, using the Stephen King trick he describes in his book On writing.

And since I self-publish mostly, I never let it out until I’m done with it, and the editor is happy too, so I can ensure the highest level of quality.

Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A. My fantasy novels were all edited by the same woman. She makes two passes usually. One for characters, plot, description, tone, and that sort of thing. And another for grammar and usage.

I may use her for the superhero stories I’m drafting now. I haven’t decided yet.

Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. That depends on what they need. I could read a draft of something and comment, or I could refer them to books/online resources, that I think might help. The possibilities are so wide, I really need to assess the issue and how to address. But I would try to help if I could.

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

A. Absolutely! In fact many scenes in my novels are written as if I’m describing a scene from a movie. Does that alter the telling? Yes. Because the camera is objective. If I told everything in first person, then I’m limited by that character’s point of view. I’ve done that for exactly that reason. But the objective view of the camera is a nice one, because I can easily show the reader what’s happening.

Q. What's the next step in your writing world?

A. Well, with my fantasy series done, I’m working on smaller projects. Poems, and a collection of stories featuring superheroes. I’ve been wanting to write about supers for a while now. After that, I don’t know. I’ve got more project waiting for me. And I’m also trying to sell my series to a publisher, so they can promote it, so I can write and promote my current area of focus.

Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

A. I collect old maps. I have several, especially the early ones of the world. They are very revealing as to how our view of the world has changed over the centuries.

Q. Any other information you'd like to impart? 

A. Only this: Support local artists please. We all need your support, and leave reviews for books you read and like. The writer will be eternally grateful.