Interview With DJ Swykert, Author Of The Death of Anyone

Yawatta would like to welcome her special guest: DJ Swykert, author of The Death of Anyone. Please enjoy his insightful interview.

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1.  How long does it take you to write a book?

A first draft, if I stick to it, about six weeks. However, that isn’t the “book.” I usually edit a book at least twice. I have some trunk novels that have never been finished beyond the first draft. I think most writers do. The real answer to this question is that it takes what it takes. Some stories, like this one, The Death of Anyone, took a couple of months to do the first draft. It took two edits to get it good enough to go looking for a publisher. I first found an agent for it, after a couple of months of queries. They had the book for a year and a half and didn’t find a publisher. I let the contract lapse with the agent, and found Melange Books in a couple of months. They were business like with the edit. I went through the first one in about a week, and the galleys or proofs in a day or so, and the book was released a couple of weeks later.

2.  Can you tell us about your challenge in getting your first book published?

The first book I ever finished a manuscript for was Children of the Enemy. I started that book in the late 80’s and finished it, but found no takers. It went through two pretty decent agents and then sat in the top of my closet for twenty years. In the meantime I wrote two other novels, a literary story about a young girl trying to save a pack of wolves from a bounty hunter in 1890’s northern Michigan titled simply: Maggie Elizabeth Harrington. I subsidy published this in 2007.

In 2009 I found a startup publisher who published Maggie Elizabeth Harrington under a new title: The Place Between. This company also signed me to a book contract for Children of the Enemy and Alpha Wolves, a sequel to The Place Between. They did publish Children of the Enemy at the beginning of 2010, then filed bankruptcy that summer and I got the rights back again. I found a second publisher in early 2012, an Australian, who published it online, it had good sales, was on Omni-List bestseller for a month, then he sold his company and I took a reversion of rights on the book. It’s now with Cambridge Books, who published it in the fall of 2012. Oh, I skipped Alpha Wolves, who Noble Publishing took in May of 2012, and is still under contract to them. It was on Noble’s bestselling list for about the first six weeks. In 2008 I signed a contract with the Carolyn Jenks Agency in Boston for a novel called Sweat Street, that has some of the same characters as Children of the Enemy, but is not a true sequel, it does introduce Bonnie Benham the Detroit Homicide Detective in The Death of Anyone. Carolyn was a good agent, at one time used to represent Arthur Miller and Tom Stoppard. But she found no takers for Sweat Street. I missed an agent, I was with Frank Weimann of The Literary Group in NYC with Maggie Eizabeth Harrington and Alpha Wolves, Frank used to represent Homer Hickum and Britney Spears, Terry Bradshaw and Bill Russell and some other celebrities. But he never made me a celebrity, and after a year, and being read by most of the major publishers in NYC, I ended up with the rights to Maggie Elizabeth Harrington back again, and it sat until I published it in 2009. I then signed a contract with LifeTime Media in NYC for The Death of Anyone, but she couldn’t sell it. After our contract ended I found Melange Books in Minneapolis who I signed a royalty contract with, and who just released the book a couple of weeks ago. All this, for you newbies in the writing business, should give you a pretty good idea of the state of bookselling today. It’s going through a lot of changes, and fewer people are reading much beyond the screens on their Smart Phones. But, I don’t think books are going to go away, it’ll just continue for a while until the dust settles to be like physicists say about the universe: in a constant state of flux.

3.  What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Same stuff everybody does. I hold hands with my girlfriend. I ride my mountain bike through the mountains of downtown Cincinnati. That’s just a joke. Uh…not about riding the mountain bike, about the mountains. I like to cook and do most of it. I like to go grocery shopping, find good things to make.

4.  What does your family think of your writing?

They’ve all read Children of the Enemy and told me it is a really good book. The reader for Frank Weimann told me they’d be teaching college classes one day for Maggie Elizabeth Harrington. Of course first he should have found a publisher and a gang of readers.

5.  How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best in your genre?

Like you’d feed pigeons. I throw out the crumbs and hope it attracts a few birds. Actually, I do book blogs like this and keep my fingers crossed. There is so much content out there, and with beta readers and creative writing classes churning out writers by the semester, it isn’t going to get any easier. There’s no real telling what will catch on, publishing now is like buying a lottery ticket. You never know what number is going to get drawn.

6.  What do you think makes a good story?

On this I have specific ideas, and it’s never been any different. A story consists of characters, conflict, and resolution. Not as many writers have figured this out as you might think. But that’s what a book is, and what makes for a good one. You develop a few interesting characters, you put them in a conflict, and direct them to a resolution of the conflict, which is the end of your book. That’s what I like to read in a book anyway. Or see in a film.

7.  Can you tell us about this book?

In The Death of Anyone, Detroit Homicide Detective Bonnie Benham has been transferred from narcotics for using more than arresting and is working the case of the killer of adolescent girls. CSI collects DNA evidence from the scene of the latest victim, which has not been detected on the other victims. But no suspect turns up in the FBI database. Due to the notoriety of the crime a task force is put together with Bonnie as the lead detective, and she implores the D.A. to authorize an as yet unapproved type of a DNA search in an effort to identify the killer. Homicide Detective Neil Jensen, with his own history of drug and alcohol problems, understands Bonnie’s frailty and the two detectives become inseparable as they track this killer of children. The book crosses several genres: mystery, suspense, romance and even some real science.

8.  What’s your next project?

I’ve been dawdling off and on all winter with a story about a retired soldier/cop who retreats to a family cabin on top of Brockway Mountain to live after his wife dies. He meets a younger, suicidal woman up there one morning and they begin a rather offbeat relationship. It has a working title of: Counting Wolves. This story began as a flash story which was published about a year ago, for which I was paid in garbanzo beans. True.

9.  Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Read books, support your local bookstores.

10.  Social media you’d like to share?

I keep a page on a website run by a friend of mine: Magic Masterminds. And you can find me on Facebook. I don’t post much, but I do link interviews and posts about writing.

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A Day In The Life….Author Photoshoot

Thanks to everyone who participated in my first poll–creating the name of my women’s fiction novel. Now, I’m asking for help again. It’s time to set up my Facebook Author Fan Page. I’m a huge fan of having options, so it’s hard for me to pick the best LOL. I’d appreciate if anyone would weigh opinions or vote. The picture with the most votes will be my photo for my Facebook Author Fan Page (then I won’t have to annoy my friends with all my posts on writing hee hee).

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Picture #1

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Picture #5

Thanks for everyone who votes!

——–

Instead of sitting around in Java, Melissa and I decided to work on my author photoshoot. It was so much fun! I’m always cold, so you have to know that it was a big deal for me to stand out in the cold without my coat. That’s dedication right there. Melissa had the bright idea to capture moments outside as well as inside. She had me moving instead of just a close-up, which I appreciate. She has no idea how much I really thank her for helping me. After the photoshoot, we came back into Java to sort through the photos I wanted to keep or get rid of. I hope I wasn’t too picky LOL.

I’m sharing our morning with you guys:

We started off in the cafe, always smiling. We're serious about writing, but doesn't mean we can't have fun too

We started off in the cafe, always smiling. We’re serious about writing, but doesn’t mean we can’t have fun too

We moseyed onto the sidewalk, scouting different backdrops and buildings I could use

We moseyed onto the sidewalk, scouting different backdrops and buildings I could use

Every time I pass this door, I think of "Notting Hill"

Every time I pass this door, I think of “Notting Hill”

I also love the curtains

I also love the curtains

Woo hoo, we're almost finished! We'll have time to look at photos before my work shift starts. Plus, we're going back inside where it's warm LOL

Woo hoo, we’re almost finished! We’ll have time to look at photos before my work shift starts. Plus, we’re going back inside where it’s warm LOL

And here we are--back in Java. No one even asked what we were up to. Don't know if I should be offended or happy that they minded their own business LOL

And here we are–back in Java. No one even asked what we were up to. Don’t know if I should be offended or happy that they minded their own business LOL

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

My First Rejecton

I got a response on one of my short story submissions. Unfortunately, Room For Two received a rejection. However, I’m looking on the bright side. The editor at Switchback ended the letter with “we hope you will submit again in the future.” I couldn’t stop smiling. I’m definitely going to see what their future themes on editions will be. If any themes are up my alley, then I’ll create another story for this publication to submit again.

I respect Switchback because they responded in a timely manner: 23 days. In fact, they were the last market on my submissions tracker. The last one was the fastest responder. Other magazines I’m still waiting–some are in 40 day range, some past 70 day range. On May 1st, Switchback’s issue will be based on the “broken” theme. I love dramas, so I already plan on checking out the website on that day. If you enjoy good fiction, then you should check it out too.

Room For Two is already submitted to a new market. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Best Moment Award

Awarding the people who live in the moment

The noble who write and capture the best in life

The bold who reminded us what really mattered

Savoring the experience of quality time

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THE RULES

  1. Create an acceptance speech either by video or a written speech post
  2. Pass the award onto 15 other bloggers and their posts

MY ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

I would love to thank Miss Alexandrina. She nominated me for the Best Moment Award after reading my Running A Marathon, Not A Sprint post. It’s been pretty cool beans interacting and bonding with other bloggers and writers. You guys motivated me to step up my game. It’s been over a year, and my blog has reached over 10,000 hits. I’d like to thank my followers and anyone who found what they were looking for on my blog. Search engines continue to be the main contributor for people over the world reading what I have to say.

At WVU, I told myself that if I didn’t have a career at the age of 30, then I would go back to school for a Masters degree. I’m happy that I decided to stop writing as a hobby. No kidding, back in the day, no one–and I mean NO ONE–could read my stories. They were for my eyes only. I would start rough drafts, have something else spark my interest, then abandon my original project to work on the new one. It was an endless cycle until everything was finally finished months or years later. In 2008, I let my co-worker read my graphic novel. Her reaction intrigued me. From there, I grew confidence that I could write interesting and entertaining stories for readers. Now, I write as a business. Being an author will be my career (0f course, I have realistic expectations). Yea, no extra student loan bills for the rest of my life hee hee!!!

I’d like to thank my writing buddies–in person and online–who have supported me. It’s been fun acting as critique partners and beta-readers as a trade-off. I’d also like to thank my friends and family. Next month, I’m publishing my debut novel, so I’d also like to thank any readers who find a way to my book.

For the longest time, I was clueless about the publishing industry. Authorhouse almost got its hand on me. Good thing, I was broke at the time. The waiting period caused me to research–this is where I found websites steering me clear of vanity publishers disguised as self-publishing companies. This led me to research the best way to get published, which led to learning about having an author platform. I researched the most effective way to blog, and the rest speaks for itself…so I’d like to thank Authorhouse as well even though it probably sounds silly. Thank you for giving wrong publishing facts, causing me to be curious enough to find answers for myself. Now, I know all the different alternatives and picked the right option for me.

Thanks for anyone who read all of that. I didn’t mean for my speech to be that long 🙂

MY NOMINATIONS–my last award, no one really wanted to participate. Even though I nominated you, please don’t feel the need to continue the chain if you don’t want to. No hard feelings. I did cheat though–I only picked 11 instead of 15.

  1. Francene Carroll for A New Chapter, New Beginning
  2. Rebekkah Ford for Writers Block
  3. Thomas C for Bully For the Ages
  4. Brian J. Jarrett for Quotas and Goals
  5. L.M. Sherwin for Critiquing Your Work–Critters Workshop Time
  6. Paige Addams for Hearts, Dragon, and Titles
  7. Kellie Larsen Murphy for More Book Marketing
  8. Sharon C. Cooper for Talent, Passion and Discipline
  9. Poppy for My Current Life Theme
  10. Monica Shaughnessy for Book Marketing: What’s Working, What Ain’t
  11. Shannon A. Thompson for Writing Tips: How I Handle Rejection

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Head Case By Jennifer Oko

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

Meet Olivia Zack, neuroscientist, pharmaceutical consultant—and murder victim.

A humorous mystery from an author whose work has been called “simply riveting” by The New York Times and “sharp and fast-paced” by Publisher’s Weekly—it’s Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones meets Carl Hiaasen’s Nature Girl (with a dash of Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money) as Olivia embarks on a postmortem quest to deconstruct the events that lead up to her mind-altering death.

A comic satire of the influence of the psychopharmaceutical industry on American life, HEAD CASE takes Olivia and her estranged friend and roommate Polly Warner on a collision course involving ethically challenged executives, spotlight-hungry celebrities, third-rate mobsters, and drug-dealing babushkas. A smart and savvy page-turner, HEAD CASE explores the meaning of personal relationships, emotional intelligence, and mental health while taking the reader on a synapse-stirring, neurotransmitting rollicking ride.

17160117I enjoyed this 54 chapter book. It was told through Olivia’s first person point-of-view. She was murdered so it’s actually through her ghost’s perspective. It was pretty cool that she could access other character’s memories, showing a full picture of what lead to the hit on her life. Polly, her best friend, was a very important person in Olivia’s life; therefore, sometimes it seemed like Polly’s life was discussed more than the main character. As a reader, I understood the reasoning behind it from Olivia’s explanation.

My favorite lines: 1) My body froze–not just in the sense of standing still, but like I had just taken a dive into a snow bank. A stinging, prickly freeze. 2) I get to play the role of wise sage, and with an amazing perspective. Because when you die, not only can you flit around the present, you also get to watch stuff in rewind. 3) …What would you do if you were locked in a New York city taxicab with only fifteen minutes left to live? What issue would you want to resolve?

I loved Olivia’s sarcastic sense of humor. It made sense that she’d be bitter over her death. It was scary when she drove in the cab and the driver went in the wrong direction, locking the doors. Chills went down my spine. The spookiest events are the ones that can happen in real life.

I liked that the story focused on the conspiracy in pharmaceutical’s R&D (research and development)–how they hid the negatives of side effects and made up lies in order to focus on marketing. I could definitely see this happening in real life.

I thought the author did a great job with characterization. They all had good and bad qualities, all three-dimensional. I liked that Olivia and Polly weren’t Mary Sues. They got a hold of prescription medicine to sell to celebrities. Even though they were drug dealers, Olivia didn’t die directly from that life of crime.

  • It was good that Polly was determined to investigate her best friend’s death, to not settle for a “wrong place at the wrong time” scenario the news tried to spin. Her and Olivia had their disagreements before she passed away, so Olivia appreciated that Polly still had her back. A bittersweet moment that they could never officially make up.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: All Roads Lead To Winter By Mark Fuller Dillon

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

The aliens are here, and now our lives are different: no wars, no hunger, no exploitation. For political prisoner Thomas Bridge, there can be a strange new love; for the alien delegate, Avdryana, there can be companionship in a world that she finds crowded and foreign. But even with hope for the future, can there be an escape from the stifling ideas and expectations of the past? For adults only.

f32a5c1e51ae4f30cebf408978428fe77506178a-thumbI liked this 8 chapter book. My favorite line: He stood in the fading light and watched the calculated sway of her hips, the candidly seductive ease of her movements. Avdryana: his judge, his jury, his jailer.

Thomas Bridge missed his dead wife so visited her gravesite. It’s revealed that he can talk to animal-like people/aliens. At first, I was a little confused because he was attracted to Avdryana–so at first, I thought he was her species too, but it turned out he’s only human.

  • The aliens that are a part of Dusk and Dawn took over earth. I liked Thomas and Avdryana’s conversations; the story was dialogue heavy, which I’m a huge fan.

It was a cool concept that the author combines local scenery of Quebec with bizarre events during his life and nightmares. Was this story based off a nightmare or a life experience? It’s fun to think of all the possibilities. I rooted for them to work it out and begin a relationship, and I enjoyed the drama aspects.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

  • email– markfullerdillon(AT)gmail(DOT)com
  • Website

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Captured By Kenya Wright

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

Brie and Samuel travel to the human town of Freemont and learn that Brie is being hunted. Brie is more than a domina. But what is she? And why is she being hunted as if she is the solution to a puzzle that the Quiet King has never been able to solve?

Samuel and Brie are forced to align with another, one that holds many answers and incites even more questions. Their journey drags them back to Capitol City and among the night life where sex and secrets mingle together within the light of the two moons. All this time Brie thought she’d escaped and gotten away free from vampires. But can she run away anymore or was she captured the whole time?

17255888I loved this 15 chapter book. It was told through Brie’s first person point-of-view. I liked how it started where it left off in the first book of the series. The same characters were introduced, some even had larger roles. Octavia and her mom had a lot to do with the ending (in the first book, their motives were told but only glossed over. With Captured, readers see how desperate they truly are to make Samuel the Vampire King).

  • I loved the twists and turns. Samuel thought of Ty, Ty’s wife, and Leeta as people who truly cared for him. In this book, we found out the truth. According to legends, humans can’t turn into vampires. Vampires have to be birthed by at least one vampire parent. Well, Brie was way more powerful than a regular domina. No wonder she was held as a special captive. I even liked learning the scheme of her husband. The characters were definitely sneaky and three-dimensional.

My favorite line: “You said you understood my need to start a new life.” The words came out a little shaky as I took Samuel’s huge form. “I won’t be your prisoner.”  Brie wanted to travel to Mage Territory where vampires are forbidden to walk on the land. Samuel wants to protect her and believes they can make a relationship work, so he doesn’t want to let her go. Their confrontational scenes were hot and steamy! It definitely seemed like, in this book, they didn’t care if other people watched them get intimate.

The ending was stellar, leaving things as a cliffhanger. I’m excited to see what the next book in the series brings.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby