Blog Tour featuring Author Mark Terry

I've been hosting quite a few book tours lately, and it's been fun and an extreme pleasure to do so. This time, I have the honor of hosting Mark Terry, author of; THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS.

My blog is all yours. Take it away, Mark.

Mark Terry is the award-winning author of 13 books including the thriller series featuring Homeland Security troubleshooter Dr. Derek Stillwater. The fourth book in the series, THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS, comes out June 7, 2011 in hardcover and as an e-book from Oceanview Publishing. Of Mark Terry’s writing, The Lansing State Journal said, “Terry writes like Lee Child on steroids.”

When not writing – he makes his living as a freelance writer, editor, author and ghostwriter – Mark lifts weights, bikes, runs, and teaches Sanchin-Ryu karate, in which he holds a black belt. He also plays guitar from time to time. Visit his website at Mark’s guest blog today is a little silly, a little insightful, and maybe a little fun.

A Dirty Dozen Questions
By Mark Terry  

You ever see the show Inside The Actor’s Studio hosted by James Lipton? He always ends his interviews with the same questions, things like: “What turns you on?” and “What sound do you like?” and “When you die and St. Peter meets you at the Pearly Gates, what do you think he’ll say?”

I’m game. I’m going to make up my own questions and answer them here.

What puts a smile on your face?

A good joke, a smartass comment from a friend or family member, a long bike ride on a sunny day, a frozen strawberry Margarita, chips and salsa, a well-executed karate kata, and a check with more than three figures to the left of the decimal point.

What’s your favorite musical instrument to play?

When I was younger it was saxophone, a little older it was piano, these days it’s guitar.

What sparks your creativity?

The crass answer is: bills to pay. The rational answer is: everything on earth. I’m rational and logical – it’s my science background – but if I don’t do something creative on a regular basis, write fiction, play guitar, etc., I start getting wacky and drive the people around me nuts.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do that you haven’t done yet?

Yes, tons, most involving travel. I’ve never been to Europe. I’ve never been to Hawaii. I’ve never been to Alaska, Africa, Asia, tropical islands, or a lot of places. 

What do you fear the most?


Are you afraid of failure?

No. I’m not. We all fail. All the time. The most successful people in the world fail over and over again. But they learn from their failures and move on. You only really fail if you let it paralyze you. Fail your way to success is practically my mantra.

What’s your favorite food?


So you want your last meal to be pizza?

Wouldn’t hurt, but who I eat it with would be more important. Should be my wife Leanne and my kids, Ian and Sean, probably some of my friends. Our friends and my wife and I usually go out for Mexican. And strawberry Margaritas put a smile on my face.

What’s the most frustrating thing in your life?

The traditional publishing industry. Not writing, not nonfiction publishing, which I’m quite successful at, but the traditional publishing market for fiction. Crazy, crazy, unpredictable, illogical, irrational, annoying, impractical business.

Have you considered “indie publishing?”

Yes. I’ve done it. I did it before I was traditionally published, and now I’m doing both. I’m flexible and adaptable. The publishing industry is changing. I’m changing with it.

Why are manhole covers round?

Because manholes are round.

Okay, so, if you die and are met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter, what do you think he’ll say?

“C’mon in. There’s a really great Mexican place down the street with the best strawberry Margaritas in the universe.”
Thanks, Mark, for your guest post. Make sure to visit Author Mark Terry's site, for the latest news about his novels, and purchase, "The Valley of Shadows," when it hits stores on June 7.

Blog Chain: Be Positive

Hello, hello! Today is blog chain time and it seems I'm to start this round with the question. I also received the "Versatile blog" award yesterday from Michelle Barrow-Belisle. Receiving the award gave me the idea for this blog question, so I'm combining the award rules into this post today.

The question: Be positive! Name some of the positive aspects of your writing --- be it a compliment from a mentor, friend or crit partner to anything special you learned concerning your writing skills.

Since I'm suppose to follow the blog award rules and name seven things about myself, I'll name seven positive aspects concerning my writing. The other blog chainers don't have to do this if they wish.

Positive aspects list:

1: I've always had a natural talent for anything writing-related. Yep, I'm one of those people where, while young, my parents would ask me how to spell certain words instead of looking them up in the dictionary. I also was suppose to write a play for my fellow classmates in fourth grade. I was grateful to be asked to do the task although it never panned out.

2: I was ahead in reading skills in the third grade. The teacher sat me in the hallway to read over advanced English workbooks, because I was so far ahead that the rest of the class had to catch up. For some strange reason, I had mixed feelings about this. When young, you are usually separated from the group by the teacher because you did something BAD. Not something good.

3: At a time where I received little recognition for my writing skills from home, I got plenty of it from my teachers in school. Three different English teachers in high school encouraged my writing skills, asking if I wrote poetry, suggesting that I should enroll in creative writing classes.

4: As with some people in life, they may have parents who don't believe writing can be considered a career (hello? Stephen King? Every journalist on this world?). Instead, I was encouraged to seek a computer programming career. For several years the word "writing" never entered my mind. The writing bug struck when I was 25 and a dream stick with me that just wouldn't leave. To get it out of my head, I began writing it down. I haven't stopped since.

5: I wrote my story, destined to be a series, and had an agent. The less said about him, the better. We parted ways and I began my research (which I should have down beforehand) about how the publishing agency really works. I now know more than I did before, although there's still so much more information out there.

6: I have a talent at dialect. Don't know why, but I can write with a country feel in stories. Couldn't possible be because I grew up hick ;)

7: I received such awesome compliments from crit partner Eric concerning my book, "The Stone Man." And not just from him, by so many people who have had the opportunity to read some of my stories. Such words of encouragement can only increase my motivation to never stop tapping on the keyboard.

Okay, I fulfilled the award contest rules. If any of my fellow blog chainers wants to follow the award rules and name seven positive things about their writing, then consider yourself picked for the "Versatile Blog" award.

Visit Eric's place tomorrow for his take on the question. I hope everyone has a great week of writing!

Blog Chain: What's the Odds?

It's blog chain time again! If you're new here, this is the time when a group of fellow authors and aspiring writers will get together and ask writing questions to each other. Each of us takes a round to ask a question, and this time it's Laura who has the question for us.

What keeps you going (either trying to get an agent or to get published or finish that WIP that's kicking your butt) when you know the odds are stacked way against you?

The odds are stacked against me? Really? You mean that, even if I write a good book, a book that is publishable, a book where everyone (i.e. those friends who wouldn't hurt my feelings and rave about every piece of writing I do) said will propel me into the legendary realms of becoming a big time author like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, I still might not get published?

The odds are stacked against me? Way against me?

I don't believe you. I don't HAVE to believe this. I believe I wrote a great story. I believe someone would like to read that story. I believe that I will one day become published. Sure, I might not get onto Oprah's book club listing, but I'll see my novel in the stores. I'll download it on an e-reader. I'll even sign books to those fans who may write or email me.

Denial can be a powerful tool. So can hope. Whichever I wish to choose, I'll still tap my fingers against the keyboard and keep cranking out stories.

Kate's post is before mine. Eric's post will appear tomorrow. I'll be back on Wednesday as I start this next coming blog chain round.

Author Christine Fonseca Blog Book Tour Contest Winner

Thank you all for coming by and leaving comments on both of my blogs concerning Christine Fonseca's wonderful advice she received as a child. Make sure you get her book: 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Children.

Now, to announce the winner of the book and $30 Amazon Gift card. I took all the names from both blogs, stuffed them in a hat, and pulled out...


Congratulations Eric! I'll be contacting you shortly with the details of your prizes. And thank you, Christine, for allowing me to play host on your wonderful blog tour.

The Park

It was a bright and sunny day. A day where you would skip school or work if you could. And for someone who has the opportunity to work at home while watching her daughter, this was a perfect day to enjoy a little sunshine.

So we went outside, about four-ish in the afternoon, to check the mail. We have mailbox slots in a small alcove of the apartment building, and a stoop outside under the green awning. Many times, we'll sit on the stoop and stare at the passing cars... vroom-vroom... as I would point at objects and the Overlord would sit on my knee. Her eyes would be as big as moon pies, following my pointing finger as I would name things.

"That's a car."
"That's grass."
"There's a tree."
"That's a welcome mat."
"There's a doggie."

Well, on that bright and sunny day, the awning was gone. Perhaps they took it down for cleaning or replacement. It's a nice awning. One of those cloth type ones. Not the plastic where the light shines through, changing a person's skin green, as if this was a brief glimpse of the aliens leaving the disguised mothership/apartment building before they infiltrated the humans as the aliens sought... whatever your imagination wishes. A peaceful coexistence with humanity? A plot for world takeover? A place to eat a good Big Mac in the entire universe? Take your pick.

We sat on that stoop, with me giving lessons and the Overlord staring at all the world with a newness in her eyes. Across the street was the hospital, red brick all around, people having to enter different entrances to find loved ones, since the building doesn't connect to every wing. It's kind of annoying, I would think. You would enter one entrance, looking for a patient's room, only to be told the room was on the west side  of the building. So you would have to go out through the same exit and walk around the block to the next, finding two different doors and playing eenie-meanie-minnie-moe on which to go through.

We stared and I would point. This was our afternoon learning routine. But on this bright and sunny day, there were kids playing in the park. Kids... children... tiny, running, laughing, playing humanoids that the Overlord has never seen before.

I ran upstairs, placed on a hat, changed out of my slippers into some sandals, and headed over to the park with the Overlord and a pacifier in my pocket. No diapers in case she soiled herself. No baby bottle. This was a spur-of-the-moment type thing. Who knew when those kids would leave, with the Overlord missing her chance at some social interaction?

Friendship Park. There are plenty of reasons to call it such. You can start instant friendships there with perfect strangers just by sitting on a bench and saying, "hi." We sat and watched. The children laughed and played. I think the oldest might have been seven. This was a time of life we all enjoy. That reckless childhood abandon. There's no need, either as parents or as children, to dwell on what the future will bring: elementary school lunches and food fights, middle school detention for chewing gum during gym class (yes, that happened to me), high school tests... and more tests... and more tests. Finals. Term papers. And let's not forget all the dreaded PSAT, SAT, and ACT tutoring if you sought something more toward a future career than just flipping burgers to feed those hungry green aliens.

No. We sat there, not dreaming of what the future will be, what the Overlord will be like when she's one, two, or three-years-old like those playing children. We sat and stared at the newness of the world, enjoying this moment of a bright and sunny day.

Blog Book Tour with Author Christine Fonseca and Contest

Hello everyone! I have the pleasure today of being a part of Author Christine Fonseca's blog book tour as she promotes her new book, "101 Success Secrets For Gifted Kids."

We are also hosting a contest. Every comment left on this post is an entry to win Christine's book as well as a $30 Amazon gift card. I'll choose the names at random (i.e. slip of paper/name/hat). You have until Tuesday May 10th to enter.

I asked Author Christine if she could give a guest post talking about the advice she received when she was a child.  So take it away, Christine!
Life in Hindsight

Today’s tour stops here at Michelle’s blog. She asked me to write a bit about the advice I received as a kid, and if or how it affected my life.

What a cool thing to think about. I don’t know about you, but I never really sat down and thought about the specific advice I received growing up. At least, not until now.
As I pondered this post and thought about my childhood, four pieces of advice really stood out – two from my early childhood, and two from you early adulthood. I thought I share all four pieces with you today, as these little tidbits have absolutely shaped my current approach to life.
  1. Plan Ahead or Go Behind:
My grandmother used to tell me this forever. I literally can not think of a time when she wasn’t saying this. To her, life was always about the Plan B – about adapting to whatever life threw at you. That, and planning for as many uncertainties as you could. Given her life, this made perfect sense.
For me, the statement meant always know where you wanted to go. Sure, things may change, but when they do you needed to make a new plan. And yes, I have lived my life this way.
  1. Do what you love, and the money will follow:
My mom raised me to believe I could do anything I wanted to. More importantly, she raised me to believe that if I followed my heart and did what I loved, everything else would take care of itself. This advice was certainly true for her – she always filled her life with things she loved. This doesn’t mean she always was employed doing only what she loved. When she left my bio-dad, she took whatever job she could so that my needs were met. But, it does mean she was willing to take some risk in the pursuit of her passions – and that part, taking a risk, is something I gleaned onto.
For me, I believe that life is far too short to waste it through quiet dissatisfaction. Like Thoreau, I never want to get to the end of my life realizing that maybe I had never actually lived. And this, this is what my mom meant by her advice, I think.
This is what I try to teach my kids.
  1. There is no meaning to anything other than the meaning we place on it:
My mother was into Zen philosophy and I was raised with lots of philosophic ideals. She believed that much of the angst we feel in life is because of how we have defined our lives – and that much of that really is irrelevant to reality. Much of it is a matter of perspective.
This was too difficult a concept for me when I was young, but in college and the early days of my marriage, it is THE advice that helped me the most. Every time I struggled with an argument with my husband, or a disappointment in my life, my mother would remind me that if I was dissatisfied, maybe I needed to look at my definitions for things. Maybe the argument wasn’t bad, as I had defined it…maybe it was something.
Perspective, she would say, changes. Maybe you need to change yours.
  1. Life is perfect. Period.
This advice came from my Step-Dad. Whenever things are overwhelming and I feel like I might drown in the weight in it all, he reminds me that life is perfect. That it is always perfect, even when I can’t see it’s perfection. He says I need to trust that things are unfolding exactly as there are supposed to. It is by far the hardest lesson I have tried to learn, but it is always some of the most helpful.
So, there you have it – advice I live by. Anything sound familiar???

School psychologist by day, YA and nonfiction author by night, Christine Fonseca believes that writing is a great way to explore humanity. Her books include EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS (2010) and 101 SUCCESS SECRETS FOR GIFTED KIDS (2011). In addition to books about giftedness, Christine writes contemporary and fantasy fiction for teens. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing around on Facebook and Twitter. Catch her daily thoughts about writing and life on her blog.

Thank you, Christine, for your guest post. Remember you leave a comment (and email addy) for your chance to win cool prizes. And you can visit Christine as well as purchase her book at the following links:
Let the contest begin!

Blog Chain: Mind Your Genre Set

Blog Chain day! I'm doing this one quick since I'm running on fumes from being up until 2am working and everyone is more interested in the World News at the moment. Margie asks this round's question:

"How do you get in the mindset of your genre? Do you research people or facts? Do you just reach into the recesses of your mind for events that would make a good story? Something else?”

My genre is suspense/thriller, so it's not like I'm going to be sitting in the park at... um... 2 in the morning waiting for a murder or something else suspenseful to happen. I read a lot of Stephen King and Poe stories, so it's easy to get within the general mindset of my genre. Watching bad horror b-movies is also another way.

I occasionally research people or facts when I'm searching for something really specific. For my novel, The Stone Man, I did a little research concerning a fort that I knew of that my mother would drive us past during my childhood to get to the local mall. Most of the story's setting takes place in a fort. And I also researched about sculptor's tools, since this is my main character's hobby/career dream.

Otherwise, as to the events of the novel, I'll lay in bed, delving into the recesses of the mind, and story events will just pop in there. Sometimes, the story's theme may come from a past childhood event. But usually it's all the brain cells' tireless efforts in trying to scare the bejeepers out of me with some wild crazy antics that makes me think I've gone mental.

That's about it. Go visit Sandra who posted something wonderful about gargoyles. And make sure to visit Eric's place tomorrow with his answer. Come back on Friday for Christine Fonseca's blog book tour to promote her nonfiction novel: 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids where she talks about childhood advice. There will be cool book swag prizes if you leave comments, and I also might throw in an Amazon Gift certificate too.