Thursday, August 28, 2008

Swan Song

I would like to thank everyone that visited K.C. Writer's Blog and participated with our authors in the Summer Great Book Giveaway. I would like to offer a very speical thanks to Suzanne Franco over at who so generously sponsored the giveaway in the form of advertising to reach more writers. It was a real treat getting to know all of the authors and read the great questions that reader/writers had as well. If you haven't received your books, I will definitely get them all out of my office by next week.
I've been doing this blog now for nearly 4 years. In the beginning, it was an outlet for some political/social columns, which help land me a paying column gig. I then switched the focus as an extension of my teaching and mentoring of new writers at Johnson County Community College - which eventually moved off campus and online.
The focus of my writing business has changed now to niches in business, pets/animals, sustainable/green living, travel and antiquing. I'm also writing a true crime book of shocking Kansas murders for a publisher this year and I'm working on another book proposal about our move to a 480-square foot cabin in the woods.
Since I last looked at my business plan for 2008, I've been trying to figure out a way to keep K.C.'s Writers Blog in the mix with the limited time we all have each day. However, I knew I couldn't maintain the blog with quality, frequent posts. My focus has to be now on the book and my other paying work.
At the beginning of the summer, I decided to send the blog out with a bang and give readers the chance to ask questions and win books.
I hope you've enjoyed reading K.C.'s Writers blog as much as I have writing it. It will remain up for you to read through the archives. I also urge you to visit all of the writing sites listed in the links section. They're great resources for writers.
You'll see an increase my posts to my green blog, to Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
And I hope you all will look for my book, "Blood on the Prairie: Shocking Kansas Murders" in September '09. Kansas not only has the distinction of having the first recorded serial killers in the country known as the Bloody Benders, the state has continued to spawn other shocking crimes - the Clutter (In Cold Blood) murders, Richard Grissom, John Robinson - right up to BTK.

My Best to all of you and Happy Writing!
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Self-Help Book Ends The Summer Great Book Giveaway

Today, for the last author of the Summer Great Book Giveaway, I have Pat Olsen talking about her recently released book, “How to Help Your Alcoholic Brother or Sister and Not Lose Yourself.” I recently read that self-help books are harder to get published these days. Read about how Pat did it and if you have questions of your own, just click on "comments" and ask by 5 p.m. CST today. If I randomly draw your question, Pat will answer your question and you'll win a copy of the book!

Tell us about yourself.
I'm mainly a health and business journalist. I've been writing for the NewYork Times for eight years, and I write executive columns for two business trade magazines. I also write for several health publications, and I've written about substance abuse and recovery quite a bit. Not to drop names, but I was a technical writer for years, the same as Amy Tan and Marion Winik. (OK, to drop names.)

Tell us about your new book, “How to Help Your Alcoholic Brother or Sister and Not Lose Yourself.”
Substance abuse, treatment, and recovery has long been one of my interests, since I come from a family of alcoholics. Looking back on my relationship with my brothers few years ago, I realized that I had learned a few things that others like me might benefit from.
While my parents were alive, there were four family members around me who all had drinking problems. I spent a lot of time taking care of my parents as they got older. After they died, and it was just my brothers and me and I was able to focus on just the three of us, everything sort of telescoped. I had been learning more about the disease, and I had gained some distance so I was able to look back with new understanding.

How did you find your co-author? How did you decide who wrote what and who is doing the marketing?
I had interviewed Dr. Levounis for an article I wrote for Hemispheres, United's inflight magazine, on executives and substance abuse. He was so eloquent and had so much wisdom. When an agent suggested I needed an expert coauthor to interest a publisher in this book, I immediately thought of him.
We both knew we had to find a format that made sense for a reader but that would also work with his schedule. We decided that he would comment and lend his expertise at points throughout the book that made the most sense. We're both marketing the book. For example, Dr. L. belongs to numerous professional associations and has done many radio interviews. I'm doing a number of things regarding the associations I belong to, and I think radio and blogs will be great for word of mouth selling, too.

This book must have great personal significance for you. Did you ever encounter emotional issues while writing it? What advice would you offer other writers who may face similar challenges?
It was very difficult at times and I still get emotional when I read the epilogue about my younger brother. He died while we were writing the book and although it's been over a year now, it's like it was yesterday. I wish several things had been different. I tell readers that it's best if you try not to have regrets when it comes to family members who have this difficult disease, but I'm not always good at taking my own advice. I'd advise others to ask writer friends for their opinion and trust their editor. Whenever I was getting into my own story too much, my wonderful editor Renee Sedliar would reign me in.

I don’t think there are many books out there on this subject. How did you convince a publisher that there’s an audience for this book?
I don't think I had to do much convincing once I had the format right. (My first proposal was too memoir-ish.) It stands to reason--if there are almost 22 million Americans who are addicted to or abuse alcohol, many if not most of them have siblings. If a publisher deals with recovery books, then they reocognize our numbers. My story must have convinced mine there was a need for this book.

Your audience is also a pretty narrow one. How are you promoting your book?
I think it will sell mostly through recovery radio programs (I'm signed up for my first one), and through professional organizations and other people in the field of recovery. I hope it's a book therapists will want to give to clients, too. I have some essays in mind to send out as well.

Did you do a lot of research for this book, or did you focus more on your personal experiences?
I did do a lot of research. I briefly told my story and the stories of four other siblings. Dr. L. provided a lot of information, too. I'm so indebted to him.

What do you think is the most important thing for a writer of a self-help guide to remember while writing it?
That you may think something is too basic to include because you know the subject, but you should include it anyway. There will be people who don't know the information you were going to leave out.

Were there any surprises in either the writing or publishing process?
I knew that an editor can improve a manuscript exponentially, but I was amazed from day one at how talented my editor was, and I'm not just saying that. I also didn't know there was both a publicist and a marketing department at the publisher and the two are different.

....And now Pat is awaiting your questions!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Opposite of Love Winner

Irreverent Freelancer is this week's winner and Julie Buxbaum is answering her question from Istanbul. "Irreverent," please send me your snail mail address so I can send you Julie's book! And, Jodi, I'm still awaiting your address as well.


As someone who lost my mother as a teenager, I only recently
fully grieved that loss when I recently lost my grandmother (who took
over the motherly role). I don't know how much of yourself goes into
your writing, but did you find yourself reliving some of your own
losses while writing this book? And if so, did you find the process
painful or cathartic?

From Julie:

I find the act of writing cathartic pretty much regardless of the
topic. It would be naïve of me to say that none of my own experiences
with loss went into THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE, but since Emily's story
wasn't my own story, the experience was never painful. (Though it was
painful on those mornings when I just couldn't articulate what I
wanted to say!). Oddly enough, the scenes in the book that most made
me cry when I wrote them--and to be honest, I'm not sure whether most
writers are weird like I am and make themselves laugh and cry--were
scenes that even if I had wanted to I couldn't find a parallel in my
own life. (For example when Emily fights with her dad in the
hospital.) That said, in my second book I keep finding myself
returning to certain themes--loss being one of them--and so I do
wonder if a huge part of why I write is purely for the cathartic
experience of it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

From Rainy London....The Opposite of Love

Today, I have Julie Buxbaum, author of the new novel, "The Opposite of Love." Come and read how this Harvard Law School grad got into writing fiction, found her publisher and ended up in London. Click on comments and ask a writing related question before 5 p.m. CST today and if I randomly draw your question, you can win a good read in the Summer Great Book Giveaway - which, like the summer, is fading fast.

Tell us about yourself.
It's funny, I always seem to have the most trouble with this question. Let's see--I'm thirty years old, soon to be thirty one, which amazes me, if only because it feels like my last birthday was just yesterday. This year, which was a big one for me--my book came out, I got married--has flown by a little too fast for my comfort. I currently live in Los Angeles, but will be moving to London this summer. And I am a recovering lawyer, turned novelist, and couldn't be happier about the career switch.

Tell us about your book, "The Opposite of Love."
THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE is about the complexities of love and loss, how we find personal fulfillment, and what happens when we delay grief. The story is told from the perspective of Emily Haxby, who is dealing with a romantic crisis and a familial one, as she is finally dealing with the death of her mother fifteen years after the fact. She has just broken up with her boyfriend, Andrew, just as he's about to propose, and her beloved grandfather is beginning a descent into dementia. At the same time, she is a lawyer at a large law firm, and is forced to work on a morally reprehensible toxic tort case for a boss who can't keep his hands to himself. The book follows her emotional journey as she finds the courage to take back control of all aspects of her life, and face the fears that have long haunted her.

Wow. You have an impressive resume, Harvard Law School, big law firms in NYC and L.A. Many writers leave other lives to follow their dream of being a full time writer (I did). Do you feel like you wasted that part of your life, or did it help prepare you somehow for your life as a writer? And if so, how?
Though it would have been nice to have started my writing life earlier, if only because I wish I had taken the opportunity to study literature and literary theory in college, I can't say I regret my decision to go to law school or even to become a lawyer. My three years at Harvard were probably the most intellectually rigorous of my life, and I enjoyed them immensely. And my years as a lawyer not only helped me gather material for my novel, but also taught me to appreciate my new life as novelist. I am not sure I would have understood, had I not spent that time, what a blessing it is to have a career that I enjoy and find stimulating and fulfilling.

How did you develop the story for "The Opposite of Love."
With THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE, I worked backwards. I started thematically, because I knew I wanted to explore the consequences of delaying grief. From this idea sprung my main character Emily Haxby; once I fully understood her strengths, faults, motivations, etc., once I could picture her as a living, breathing person in the world, the plot unfolded from there.

Did you take any classes to learn how to develop plot, dialogue, etc?I took a couple of novel writing classes at UCLA Extension at night, which were really helpful.

What was most helpful in assisting you to learn about the writing process?
I think the most helpful thing was having been a voracious reader my whole life. I find reading critically and widely and constantly, more than anything else, is a prerequisite to becoming a writer. I believe that's the best way to internalize the art and the craft of the novel form.

You just left your life as an attorney two years ago, did you work on the book before quitting law?Not really. I had started to think about my main character just before I quit, but I didn't actually start any real work on the book until afterwards.

How did you find your agent/publisher?
All I can say is that I had amazing amounts of luck. I quit my job as a lawyer in January of 2006 to write. After working for about eight months full time on THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE, and after generating many, many drafts, I felt it was ready to be sent out. About two weeks later, I landed an agent, and less than a month after that my agent sold the book to Dial Press (my publisher.) I still can't quite believe how everything fell into place so quickly, and I feel extraordinarily lucky considering there are thousands of talented novelists out there who never get to see their work published.

What's next for you?
I am currently hard at work on my second novel, which has been a lot of fun. And I'm getting ready for the big transatlantic move. I definitely need to buy myself an umbrella.

And now, Julie is awaiting your questions!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Joid- You've Won Final Curtain!

Sorry for the delay. Jodi is the winner of Richard Jordan's book- please email me at with your snail mail addres.
Here's her question with his answer!

Do you find it difficult shifting from one type of book to another? NOw you're doing mysteries--do you plan on trying any other genres?

I wouldn’t say that it’s more difficult shifting from one type of book to another, just different. I started publishing nonfiction with a book titled BUT DARLING, I’M YOUR AUNTIE MAME! That was very demanding, because of all the research and interviews project required. It was extremely time consuming––years, actually. And God, I was terrified of getting facts wrong! Although I checked and rechecked data, interviewees often had totally different recall about the events I was attempting to chronicle. To a certain degree I also research my fiction, but I don’t have to worry about a reader wagging a finger at me and pointing out a staggering historical blunder. (Although I misspelled the French champagne Veuve Clicquot all the way through REMAINS TO BE SCENE, my first Polly Pepper mystery! I drink the stuff! You’d think I would have known how to spell my favorite bubbly! WARNING: Don’t drink and type!)
As for any problems with switching genres in fiction, a good story is a good story. I started my career writing erotica for the summer beach book market. When I was offered an opportunity to pen “cozy” mysteries, I found it extremely fulfilling to knock a character off, and then engage my amateur sleuth, Hollywood icon Polly Pepper, to solve the crime.
I never say never, but at the moment I don’t foresee moving into another literary genre. I’m too busy fulfilling my publishing commitments, working at Disney, and I’m about to produce a movie. (Whew!) Although perhaps I should try screenwriting. THAT’S WHERE THE MONEY IS! I’m the only one in Hollywood without a script to sell!
Again, thanks for the great questions.
R.T. Jordan

Winner of Final Curtain

There's been some email problem with Richard and since he is in California on Pacific time, the winner will be posted later this morning. Please check back!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's Not the Final Curtain for R.T. Jordan - or Polly Pepper

Today, I have a real treat, Richard T. Jordan, author of the Polly Pepper mystery series talks about his latest book, "Final Curtain." Read about Richard's life as a staff writer for Walt Disney Studios and how that has affected his book writing, his former life as a writer under another name, and even why he attended Karen Carpenter's funeral. Richard says he's shy in public, but this is one of the best interviews of the summer! Ask Richard a question before 5 p.m. CST today, by clicking on comments, and if I randomly draw your question, Richard will answer it and you will win a copy of his book!

Tell us about yourself.
Talking about myself isn’t exactly what I do best. However, I suspect that when one first meets me in person they naturally assume that I’m gregarious and that I enjoy being the center of attention. False! It’s a role I play: the “it’s time to be social” role. I actually don’t enjoy being the center of attention at all. I turn beet red in staff meetings whenever I’m called upon to discuss a project. If I can come home from the office on Friday night and not have to leave my home or see anyone until Monday morning, I’m a very happy man. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy entertaining and being invited to others’ homes for intimate dinners. I do, enjoy those things. But with my career at Disney and my second career as a novelist, “free” time is something that I value almost above all else. I especially enjoy time to be with myself.

But for the sake of a bit of background information, I was born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Peabody, Massachusetts. “A good place to be from,” I always say. I guess I had a relatively happy childhood in New England. In fact, I suppose it was a darn good childhood. But I was in a hurry to grow up and get out. Everyone who ever knew me back then, was aware that I had my sites set on California. I always knew that’s where I belonged. I left home right after high school and moved to Los Angeles. I didn’t know a soul in this city. I didn’t have a job or a place to live. In retrospect (and it sounds easy for me to say this from my current position), I sincerely knew that I’d land in clover. I arrived in L.A., found a room to rent in an old, cockroach-infested house, found a job as a gopher at an insurance company (the worst job!), and started to live the life that I had dreamed of all those cold winter mornings in Massachusetts.

I enrolled part-time at UCLA and then ended up as an assistant at The Walt Disney Studios. I started moving up the proverbial ladder and I’ve been there ever since - Twenty-five years in September 2009!

Along the way I fell in love with the old Roz Russell movie, “Auntie Mame.” That film actually started my career as a writer because I decided to write a book chronically the history of the fictional Auntie Mame. I had learned that Patrick Dennis had written a novel called AUNTIE MAME, and that it was adapted for Broadway by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Then it became the movie that I first loved. Then it was turned into a Broadway musical by Jerry Herman, starring Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur. However, when Hollywood came calling again, it flopped as a movie musical. Still, I wanted to write this book. I remember that I wrote a proposal and shopped it to every agent and editor in the world. Nobody wanted it. Finally, my first agent, the now deceased and much missed Dorris Halsey, read the proposal and found a small publishing house to accept it. The book, BUT DARLING, I’M YOUR AUNTIE MAME! became the biggest seller in the 30-year history of the now-defunct (it wasn’t my fault!) Capra Press. Then, the book went on to have another wonderful life when my fantastic editor at Kensington, John Scognamiglio, reprinted a revised edition.

Other trivia. I’m not leaving this planet until I’ve done everything that I’ve ever wanted to do. With that in mind, ever since I was a kid, I had wanted to learn to figure skate. So, about four years ago, I started taking lessons. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. I recently had to curtail that activity because of too many injuries, but I had a blast while it lasted. What else? I love to travel. The UK, especially Scotland, is my favorite places to visit. I’ve taken a baby step toward actually living there by purchasing a timeshare in Edinburgh. However, the U.S. dollar sucks so badly that I don’t know when I’ll actually be in a position to become an ex-pat. I enjoy wine, classical music, ROAD RUNNER cartoons, the old FRASIER television series. Also, any movie that stars Angela Bassett or Meryl Street. And I’ll never get over the death of Karen Carpenter. I even went to her funeral. That’s me in a nutshell.

Tell us about your new Polly Pepper book, “Final Curtain.”
FINAL CURTAIN is the second volume in my Polly Pepper “cozy” mystery series. After writing a bunch of “summer beach books” under the pseudonym Ben Tyler, I switched to mysteries because I definitely needed a change of pace. Polly Pepper is your typical, run-of-the-mill international celebrity icon. She earned her status as a living legend during the years that she hosted one of the most successful television musical/comedy shows of the 1980s. However, after a receiving a ton of Emmy Awards, Peoples Choice Awards, and every other honor that could be bestowed upon her, Polly’s show, THE POLLY PEPPER PLAYHOUSE, was eventually cancelled. Now, she picks up work wherever she can find it. And, curiously, wherever Polly goes, dead people follow.

In FINAL CURTAIN, Polly has finally won one of the most coveted rolls in musical theatre for an actress of a certain age. She’s starring as Mame in a low-rent production of the musical in Glendale, California. It’s not Broadway, but she’s been promised that if the reviews are any good, the show might transfer to The Great White Way. Polly can only hope. Alas, the production gets off to a rotten start when the director is murdered. Now it’s up to Polly, her adult but still-living-at-home son Tim, and their maid, Placenta, to figure out who did the terrible deed. Of all the books I’ve written (I think this is my 10th), FINAL CURTAIN is without question my favorite. Sure, we love all our children, but there’s always one that we’re most proud of. For me, it’s this book. The novel is funny, and suspenseful, and fast paced. I think I hit my stride with this one. This is the first time that I’m not shy telling friends to buy the book!

Why did you write under a different name before and why did you decide to change and use your real name now?
I wrote four novels and three novellas under the name Ben Tyler because I wanted to distance myself from Disney, where I work as a senior publicist. Those books were the antithesis of what The Walt Disney Company stands for so, as a courtesy to this great company I decided it would be best use a nom de plume. However, it didn’t take long for word to spread, at least here at the studio, that I was the guy behind the the title TRICKS OF THE TRADE. Most of my colleagues thought it was great. Others, not so much. But I’m still here.

What other ways has being a staff writer for The Walt Disney Studios affected your writing?
For about sixteen years I was the staff writer in the feature film publicity department at Disney. (The job was eliminated a few years ago, so I became a photo editor.) They were the best of years, they were the worst of years. Frankly, I don’t know how I survived the pressure. There was a period in which we were releasing forty films a year. I was the guy who created all of the press kits, and wrote hundreds of feature articles, thousands and thousands of bios, production information notes, which are essentially a history of the making of each film, and so much more. The deadlines were outrageous. The pressure nearly took me to the breaking point. On the one hand, it was hell. On the other, I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. I wrote and wrote and re-wrote, sometimes working eighteen hours a day for twenty days straight without a day off. I had one boss who was never satisfied with my first and sometimes second or third drafts of material, and made me start over. But the job forced me to hone my skills, and I’m actually now grateful to that nefarious boss because she made me realize that things improve with rewriting. I never thought I’d do this, but I’m going to dedicate my next novel, A TALENT FOR MURDER, to this particular Boss Lady.

How did you conceive the Polly Pepper character?
Polly Pepper first appeared in a novella that was published a few years ago in a Christmas anthology. At the time, she wasn’t an amateur sleuth. Polly was just an aged out legend who wanted to find a boyfriend for her gay son as a Christmas present. I loved the characters, and when I wanted to stop writing as Ben Tyler, my absolutely wonderful and brilliant editor suggested that I write a mystery. That novella was my favorite published work at the time, and I thought that Polly, Tim, and Placenta were strong enough to carry a full-length novel. I confess that I was scared to death of writing in the mystery genre, but now I can’t imagine anything else. I get a real kick out of the Hollywood world in which Polly and her troupe live. Readers (and a few critics) have said that I modeled Polly after Carol Burnett. Actually, I didn’t, or at least I didn’t mean to. However, I can see some similarities. If these books are ever made into a movie, Carol would be great in the role. Michele Lee is attached for TV or film, and she’ll be wonderful. She has all of Polly’s positive traits. And she’s very glamorous. The producer who optioned the books is pitching the idea to Lifetime and a few other places. I’d love for Polly to have a wider audience. I’d especially like the dollars that go with it! Remember, I need to live in Scotland. Preferably in a castle!

Do you find your characters to be extensions of different parts of your own personality?
I’m not so sure that Polly, Tim, or Placenta are extensions of my own character. I guess to the point that Polly likes a lot of the things that I do, and on the other hand, loathes the same things I do, is one way to look at it. But I’m not at all an over-the-top in my personality. I’m the opposite. Polly and her son and maid are probably more like people that I have come in contact with during my years in Hollywood, rather than aspects of me. Polly is all the glitter and glamour of a film premiere. She shines brightest when the spotlight hits her. She craves attention. As I said earlier, I’m just the opposite. Now that I think of it, perhaps Polly does reflect me. Maybe she has the type of personality that I would like to have. Hmm. I’ll have to think about that.

How is writing a series of books different from writing a single-story book? Writing a series of books with the same character is actually a lot more fulfilling for me, than just a stand alone novel. I need a large canvas when I write. That’s why I’m not a screenwriter. I can’t cram a story into 110 pages. I need five hundred manuscript pages! And with a series, such as the Polly Pepper Mystery Series, I can tell her story over the course of an unlimited number of books. Of course, there’s the problem of possibly unintentionally putting Polly into similar situations, from one book to another. I’m terrible at remembering what happened in previous books. Readers sometimes talk about characters from the Ben Tyler books and I swear to God, I don’t remember them. I suppose this is the result of the fact that I finish one book and almost immediately go into writing another. Everything gets smushed together.

Do you ever have a problem with continuation from the previous novel, or do you write each book to stand on its own?
Each of the Polly Pepper Mystery books can stand alone, but I think it’s fun to follow her and her family through her various murder cases. However, one does not need to start with REMAINS TO BE SCENE, to know all one needs to know about Polly in FINAL CURTAIN. Hopefully, when readers discover FINAL CURTAIN, they’ll want to go back and find out what sort of chaos Polly has created in the first book, and the same with the next volumes. The sleuths may be the same, but they have different assignments.

How do you do market the books, as a book or a series?
With regard to marketing my books, I think my publisher, Kensington, cross promotes them as both part of a series, but also as standalone novels. Just as my favorite mystery writer, Laura Levine, has her ongoing “Jaine Austen” series, her hysterically funny novels can be thoroughly enjoyed one by one. And, with Laura’s work, one novel is not enough. Readers are so enamored of her intelligent and laugh-out-loud writing that they want to read everything she writes. In my next lifetime I want to be Laura Levine!

Do you have an idea of how many books will be in the Polly Pepper series? If you ever decide to end it, do you have ideas for a different series? I’m having so much fun with Polly, and Tim, and Placenta that I don’t want the series to end. I’m contracted for four books, but it could go on and on. Cross your fingers for me, because Polly et al have become family to me. I’d miss not visiting with them every day. That’s not to say that there are time when they irritate me. As with every family, we have our good days and out not so good days. There are times when Polly doesn’t want to be cooperative and reveal more of herself to me. That’s frustrating. But I’m a patient guy, and Polly Pepper always comes around for me. I’m blessed to know Polly and her troupe. They add so much to my life.

And now Richard is awaiting your questions!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Commuting to a Winner

Congratulations, Wendy Burt-Thomas, you've won a book in the Summer Great Book Giveaway! If you email me your address (, I'll send a copy of Tina Tessina's book, "The Commuter Marriage." As always, the Summer Great Book Giveaway is sponsored by where you can save time by having freelance jobs posted to one daily e-letter that arrives in your mailbox.
Here's Wendy's question:
I've been hearing that the military divorce rate is much higher than the non-military. Do you think the military as a whole is doing enough to keep marriages strong? If not, what do you think they could use help with?

From Tina:
It's hard to tell the truth to a counselor if your job depends on it. Counseling in the military should be as confidential as counseling outside. Then, couples could go and tell the truth, and marriages could be helped. I hear that some of the armed forces are offering classes now in improving relationships, which is helpful. The military code of "closing the ranks" and protecting fellow servicemen (for example, by not reporting that you know a soldier is abusing or cheating on his or her spouse) prevents any improvement of relationships. Soldiers who return from combat with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can severely impact their relationships, and the military lags behind on treating this emotional disorder.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Commuter Marriage

Sorry for the delay in posting this morning. My lovely ISP that I swear, was developed in 1992 and hasn't been upgraded since, was down. One of the hazards of living in the mountains in the woods with the animals.
Today, on K.C. Writer's Blog, I have a writer whose book I needed last summer while my husband worked in Kansas City and I lived down here in the mountains. Tina Tessina is a psychotherapist and author of 13 self help books. Tina talks about her latest book, “The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close While You’re Far Apart," and gives her own advice for writers wanting to write a self help book of their own.
The Summer Great Book Giveaway continues. Ask Tina a writing related question through the comments section by 5 p.m. today and if I randomly draw your question, you'll win a copy of Tina's book and she will answer your question on the blog on Thursday! You don't even need a google account to sign in. How easy is that?

Please tell us about yourself.
I'm a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 16 languages, including Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can
Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media Jan 2008) The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again
(Wiley) and the forthcoming The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close While You're Far Apart. (Adams Media, June 2008)
I also publish The "Happiness Tips from Tina" e-mail newsletter; the "Dr. Romance" blog at hosted a weekly hour long radio show:"The Psyche Deli: delectable tidbits for the subconscious." I am an online expert, answering questions at and Yahoo!Personals at

Tell us about your new book, “The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close While You’re Far Apart.”
Between war deployment, different work shifts, business traveling and relocation, and jobs like trucking and firefighting which keep people away from home for days at a time, many couples today live in Commuter Marriages, or the equivalent. Commuter Marriage is designed to give them the information, examples and skills they need to navigate this treacherous terrain and keep the intimacy and connection alive in their relationship. It explores every avenue of long-distance relationships: communication, problem-solving, fairness, finances, intimacy, change, stress, and the growth that comes from successfully dealing with these issues.

What motivated you to write this book?
Working with many couples who are dealing with various kinds of separation and commuting.

Has answering relationship questions online helped you build a platform for writing your books?
Yes, it has. I get questions in my e-mail every day, and it helps me know what issues people have that they want help for.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of writing self-help books?
Promotion, and helping the people who need the book find it. Once people find my books, I get a lot of positive feedback; but the number of books out there is huge, and reaching the reading audience isn't easy.

How did you find your agent/publisher?
My agent, Laurie Harper of the Sebastian Literary Agency and I have been working together for twenty years -- she found the publisher.

How has being a psychotherapist influenced your writing?
It is the reason for my writing, and the reason I have the experience and knowledge to help people through books -- the books are an extension of what I do in the counseling session.

Do you do speaking engagements to help market your books? What is involved in your marketing plan?
Yes, when I speak at bookstores, and in lectures like the one I'm giving for IWOSC on June 21, it gives me a chance to reach an audience and let them know what is in the book that might be helpful to them. I list all my events on, and then export the RSS feed to my website, my Facebook page, my Amazon Connect author page, etc.

What advice would you offer people planning to write and sell a self-help book to a publisher?
Platform, platform platform! Start building the platform even before you begin the book. Use pieces from the book in a blog, interview as an expert (try Peter Shankman's, get out and speak. Keep a mailing list of everyone who is interested in your information. Search for groups interested in your topic, and get connected. Developing a platform will help you interest a publisher in your book, and help you sell it once it's published.

And now, Tina is ready for your questions!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Minnesota is Cool and Blog Readers Are Fun

Wow! We had great participation the other day, asking Amy Rea questions about her writing and about Minnesota. All of the questions were such fun that Amy would like to answer them all! Amy will be answering them on the comments section of the original post later, so stop back by this later or tomorrow!
Now, here's the winning question from Diane! And Diane, I need you to contact me within 7 days so I know where to send your book! All other previous winners who haven't contacted me by Saturday, 8/2 - your book will go to someone else!
Because of the enormous amount of material covered, did you feel this book was really finished? Or did you feel you just had to wrap up when you reached a deadline? PS - thanks for the yarn shop recommendations!


From Amy:
Good question, Diane! There’s an old saying that goes something like this: You never finish writing something, you just stop. That’s how this book felt—but that’s part of the nature of a travel guide. No sooner had the book gone irrevocably to press than restaurants I’d covered began dropping like flies, and new interesting stores opened, and I discovered even more interesting festivals that I didn’t know about, and there’s been talk of a new state park on the North Shore, and…in other words, the only way for the book to be published was to close the file and send it away. That’s one of the reasons I’m happy to have my blog ( that I can use to update information and add new things as I discover them.

Oh, and I’m glad you liked the knitting info. It was my personal goal to make sure knitters everywhere knew how to find yarn in Minnesota.