Publishing 101

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I participate in a bunch of writing groups on Facebook and every couple of weeks a newbie writer usually joins and asks a general question about the best route for publishing. I’ve answered this question so many times online that I decided to make a blog post about it for others who may just be starting out on their publishing journey.

First of all – if a so-called traditional publisher wants you to pay them money, run away. In publishing money should flow to the author, not the other way around. There are a lot of vanity and subsidy presses out there and in general that is not a good way to go. The main advantage you get from traditional publishing is not having to pay for editing, covers, illustrations, etc. If they are charging you might as well pay directly to editors, artists, etc and retain control over your books.

Among genuine trad presses there are different kinds. On the top tier are the big 5 and to get into those and other high quality large distribution publishers you will usually need an agent and the process is likely to take a while, but it may well be worth it for you to at least try. Send out some queries to agents, see if they bite. If they don’t you can still apply to smaller presses or self-publish.

And now we come to small press. Small press is generally good for those who don’t feel comfortable doing everything themselves. Usually you don’t need an agent and you apply directly and have more chance they’ll accept you. But the problem is there are a gazillion small presses out there and a lot of them are not very good, so definitely do your research if you go this way. Check the books the publisher has published and get someone to look over any contract you’re offered.

I began my publishing journey with a small press, that has since closed its doors and today I self-publish. I’m happy both with the start they gave me and with the control I have today over my books. At the beginning I knew nothing about publishing, so the small press was a good way to start. I learned so much in the last few years from other indies in various groups I participated in both in real life and on Facebook that now I feel confident self-publishing and would only go back to trad if it was with one of the big boys.

Remember though it is your journey and your book, so what worked for me may not be the same for you. Good luck and happy writing!

Obligatory promo at bottom of post!

P.A.W.S. is still on sale this weekend for 99 cents/99p. If you don’t already have a copy here’s your chance.

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London Calling – A Charity Anthology

It’s London week for me. Tomorrow is the official release day of book 4 of my P.A.W.S. Saga – LONDINIUM, (Join the FB release party tomorrow for oodles of authors, books and prizes)

But today I’m excited to announce another release. I have a story in this charity collection, LONDON CALLING.

Quill & Ink PR’s charity anthology London Calling is LIVE!!!
One click your copy today while it’s 99c before the price is increased to $2.99!

All proceeds go to #LitWorld where your purchase will help strengthen kids and communities through stories!

Available now on Amazon ➞ http://amzn.to/2jKQUHw
Add to your TBR ➞ https://goo.gl/9ETk1b   

Join the release party – I’ll be hanging out there this evening

Join Quill & Ink in a multi-genre exploration of London. Within these pages, we fall in love, go back in time, sit on the edge of our seats with sweaty palms and racing hearts, and even solve some mysteries—all in support of LitWorld, a charity tackling worldwide illiteracy.

Featuring
Slings & Arrows by Sarah Buhrman
Ring Me by C.L. Cannon
Postcards from London by Rebekah Dodson
Ripping the Sheets by Shakyra Dunn
Mistaken Identity by Stacey Johnston
My Partner, The Brit by Jessika Klide
The Life and Death of George Weeks by Debbie Manber Kupfer
The Cave by Claire Lalique
Destination Wedding by Lily Ryan

Please note that some of these stories contain adult content.

#LondonCalling #QuillinkPR

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An Interview with an Artist – Meet Tina Wijesiri

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Today on Paws 4 Thought I’m happy to welcome illustrator, Tina Wijesiri. Tina created the awesome pictures for my new picture book, Esmeralda Grunch and the Red Tulip.

  1. Tell us a little about yourself, Tina.

I’m Tina Wijesiri. I live in Sri Lanka and I’m 27 years old. I love drawing.

  1. When did you start drawing?

I’ve liked to draw since I was a kid.

  1. What is your favorite thing to draw?

I like to draw every kind of thing and improve my skills.

  1. Do you prefer working on the computer or by hand?

I love both. But by hand is easier. (The pictures that Tina created for Esmeralda Grunch were hand drawn with watercolors. DMK)

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  1. What’s your favorite food?

Rice and curries, pizza, and burgers.

  1. Tell us a little bit about Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is in the Indian Ocean. It’s an island and a tropical country. We speaks Sinhala, Tamil, and English. Our main religion is Buddhism, but there are also Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Catholics. Sri Lanka has lots of natural beauty and a great history.

  1. Do you have any pets?

Yes, I have a cat. (Aw – we like kitties here at Paws 4 Thought, DMK)

  1. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not drawing?

I like to write to my pen pals, and enjoy reading and writing stories.

Tina has written and illustrated her own picture book, Bob the Cat, which currently available FREE on Amazon. Download a copy today.

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Do you want to hire Tina as an illustrator? Check out her page on Fiverr!

And of course, if you haven’t already pick a copy of Esmeralda Grunch and the Red Tulip, now available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

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Why the Distinction? – A guest post by Kristine Raymond

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Why the distinction?

A photographer takes pictures, builds a portfolio, and opens a studio.

An artist paints day and night, assembles a collection, and hosts a showing at a local gallery.

A musician rehearses for months in his band mate’s garage, records an album, and releases it under his own label.

An author writes for hours, agonizing over every word, edits and polishes the manuscript, then self-publishes and… wait. What? They self-publish?? Shock and horror abound.

When I tell people I’m an author, the first question I’m almost always asked is “Who’s your publisher?” Why does that matter? I’m asking; in the general scheme of things, why does the name of the publisher I list on my creation matter anymore than the name you put on yours? Why is what I create deemed inferior because it lacks the stamp of approval from a recognizable publishing house?

Your picture is slightly out of focus. There’s a smear on the right hand corner of your canvas. That last chord was off-key. You adjust, you fix your mistakes, and your next project is better than the last. Humans learn by doing; by pushing themselves to evolve, to master new techniques, to perfect their masterpiece.

Authors are no different; self-published or not. We make mistakes, and we fix them. We hone our skill and write a better story. Being self-published does not make us less than. Rather, it takes an immense amount of courage to release our creations to the world, to have them studied and critiqued and, oftentimes, ridiculed. We’re no different than any other artist out there, yet self-published authors are looked down upon, even by those in the same circles.

So, I ask again; why the distinction?

Yes, the process for publishing a book has become, for lack of a better word, easy. Anyone can do it; and it doesn’t necessarily have to cost money, depending on the product the author is comfortable selling. But artists sell their paintings on Etsy and musicians sell their music on CD Baby. What’s the difference? Outlets for creative work are available for a reason; because real talent was going unrecognized by those guarding the gates.

Are my books all that? I leave it to my readers to decide. Will I, one day, be able to add the title of best-selling author to my books? Time will tell. It would be nice, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not the reason I self-publish. I discovered a hidden well of creativity inside me, a true enjoyment for writing, and, truth be told, I like just letting the words flow. More importantly, I like writing them my way, without someone standing over me critiquing this or deleting that. I had enough of that during my school years.

I believe creativity is subjective. Different is good. Writing a story shouldn’t be like fixing a carburetor. It’s not the formulaic process many believe. It’s an art form; words are the medium rather than film or paint or notes.

So, do me a favor. Please stop equating self-publishing with less than. Please stop undervaluing the time and effort I put into my art. Will what I release ten years from now be better than what I released last month? I sure as hell hope so. I have no desire to churn out the same thing over and over. I want to learn new techniques, apply them to my work, craft something beautiful and worthy of awe. What artist doesn’t?

Good or bad, I’m shaping my own future, and the responsibility as such lies squarely on my shoulders. You know what? I can live with that.

Now, go create something beautiful …
~ Kristine Raymond

Connect with Kristine on her blog www.kristineraymond.com

There you’ll find out about her books and can sign up for her newsletter.

Why I Write Young Adult by L.J. Launer

 

Today on Paws 4 Thought I present a guest post by a local St. Louis author L.J. Launer. He talks about his love for young adult literature and why he writes it.

 

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People often ask me why I write young adult fiction. I read many books in a variety of genres. Some of my favorite reads have included Jonathan Franzen’s The Twenty-Seventh City (which is set in my hometown of St. Louis), mysteries by Dee Henderson, Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski series, and many Gregory MacDonald’s Fletch mysteries. But always I return to young adult literature…YA has something intriguing that draws me to the genre.

I think part of it is that the characters are just taking their first steps into the adult world. They are discovering its challenges. Do they join the rat race? Or do they try to make the world a better place to live in?

But why high school, you ask? I answer, why not high school? Most young adults who are in high school today are both interesting and intelligent. They even fool many adults. But don’t make all YA characters totally anti-establishment. Because that isn’t real. It isn’t that way even if you are writing YA science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, or the “superhero” literature that has started to take hold in recent years.

My first inspiration with young adult came when I was in the middle of plotting my first novel, but not my first published novel. It was 1986 and I was creating a chapter outline for a novel that is still a work-in-progress. In March of that year, I went to the movies with a friend of mine. We saw a movie called LUCAS, which was set mainly in a high school and the characters were primarily high school students with a few adults along the way. It was essentially a young adult movie. It inspired me to refocus the novel I was working on into a young adult novel.

It took me 29 years to publish my first novel, Rurals and Townies. Many of my writer friends over the years told me I was beating a dead horse. But I stuck to it and today, that one novel has become my Blanchette High School series.

In order to do any writing and be good at it, you have read. Read everything from the classics, like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn or the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Read contemporaries such as John Green, who is the current superstar of YA. Also check out another great YA writer, Tom Tharp, who wrote The Spectacular Now.

Several of my friends have published YA. And what amazes me is how many adults read popular YA series like The Hunger Games and Divergent.

Young adult is alive and well. I appreciate the genre and I continue to enjoy writing it.

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Check out L.J. Launer’s novels on Amazon.

 

Meet Tiger Hebert

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Today on Paws 4 Thought we welcome fantasy author, Tiger Hebert.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Tiger.

Give me pie and nobody gets hurt! Just kidding—sorta. I do like pie though; Apple, cherry, or even blueberry.

Okay, all kidding aside. Debbie, thank you for having me.

My name is Tiger, and I am the author of The Chronicles of Aurion & Dragon’s Fire. More importantly, I am a husband, a dad (3 kiddos & 2 kitties), a veteran, and a Christian. I have often been guilty of getting lost in my own imagination, and I don’t feel bad about it either. I try to live with no regrets, but I do wish I started writing 20 years ago. By now I would probably be in a position to make my living from it. Instead, I burn the midnight oil to make it happen!

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  1. When did you first start writing?

I think I always wanted to write some grand epic fantasy novel. I never really knew exactly what it would be, just that it would be chock full of awesomeness. Throughout the years, I sat down to start my novel probably half a dozen times or so, but I had no clue what I was doing. So I don’t think I ever got more than a paragraph or two before giving up. I was so afraid of failure, that I wouldn’t allow myself to even try.

Fast forward to 2001. I had just finished basic training in the Air Force, and I hated it. I needed a way vent, so I finally turned to writing. What started as song lyrics turned into poetry, but I still didn’t start writing what would ultimately become Dragon’s Fire until Christmas of 2012.

  1. Who are your favorite authors?

I must start with the obligatory Tolkien mention, because it was Middle Earth that I first fell in love with. I know that modern fantasy has evolved a great extent, but he laid such a magnificent foundation for us to build upon.

My favorites among the living are currently Brandon Sanderson and Steven Erikson. The sheer scope and meticulous attention to detail in their worldbuilding is a marvel to me.

  1. What inspires you to write?

Making the impossible possible.
The grand adventure. The impossible odds. The unbeatable foe. Unlikely heroes. Light in the midst of darkness.

  1. Tell us a little bit about your most recent release?

The Chronicles of Aurion was released last summer. It is a short fantasy novella which is set in the same world as my series, Beating Back the Darkness. It is actually a prequel to my first release, Dragon’s Fire.

One of the things that sets TCoA apart from other books, is that it is written in this historical framework where you follow the journey of these two dragon-cult priests. Their journey is only part of the tale though, as the reader soon finds there are stories within the story. So as the reader, you get a history lesson, without feeling like you had a history lesson. Plus, it’s full of war and malevolent sorcery!

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  1. What attracts to writing fantasy?

I guess I have just always preferred swords to guns, castles to sky scrapers, and dragons to jets.

  1. What are you currently working on?

I am working on three projects at the moment.

The first is The Halls of the Fallen King, which is the next installment in The Beating Back the Darkness series. The heroes from Dragon’s Fire embark on an quest to uncover the source of a magical disturbance that is emanating from an abandoned dwarven kingdom. I expect it to be out this year.

Tales from Darkness, my second project, is a small collection of short stories from the same world as TCoA and Dragon’s Fire. These small vignettes serve as an introduction to some new faces that will appear in the series. Tales from Darkness is not required reading for those who want to read the series, it’s just a collection of fun little side excursions—besides, it’s going to be free for all my subscribers. I also expect it to be out this year.

My last project is a brand-new fantasy thriller called The Republic, and it is actually going to be released in an episodic format. The Republic is the story of a young man named Dirjek Harns, and his struggles to take care of his family during the rise of a gilded, corrupt empire. Politicians and aristocrats have subverted the spirit of the of nation’s democracy, locking its people into oppressive poverty. The family business alone won’t feed his family, but stepping outside the law will. The Republic is a story of magic and mayhem, and is a Patreon exclusive. The 1st chapter is free, and will be released this month (January 2017).

  1. What do you like to do to relax?

I rarely get the opportunity to do it, but I absolutely love hiking. Being surrounded by nature is so soothing. Hopefully I’ll get to explore some of the mountains here in NC and maybe even in TN this year.

  1. If you could have any superpower what would choose?

When I was a little boy staring up at impossibly tall pine trees in the Maine woods, I wanted nothing more than to be able to fly—well that and to shoot cosmic rays of doom!

Now that I’m older, I’d have to say healing would be my choice. Lame, right? I know. This world needs more healing. So I’d be a healer—who flies and shoots beams of cosmic energy.  😉

  1. How can readers connect with you?

I love connecting with readers!
www.TigerHebert.com
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
YouTube
Goodreads
Patreon

 

 

 

Stories for Change

Every year authors of all genres get together and donate their writing to fantastic causes. I myself have been part of several wonderful charity anthologies. All have been awesome experiences and I highly encourage my author friends on here who have yet to be part of a charity anthology to get involved. The rewards for you and the charity are immense.

Here are some recently published charity anthologies available for purchase. Each contains some amazing stories and you’re sure to be something for everyone in this list.

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Let’s start with this beautiful box set anthology in aid of autism awareness. Isn’t that cover amazing? I can’t wait to read these thirteen fantasy tales.

Ever in the After: Lift4Autism Charity Anthology
100% of the proceeds will be donated to Lift4Autism
99 cents for a limited time!

In Ever in the After, 13 authors come together to explore fantastical realms full of supernatural creatures, dark intrigue, and spells that may or may not be curses.

A must-have fantasy collection full of surprises, secrets, and strong teenagers who know what they need to do to succeed in these mystical realities.

Preorder your copy today!

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In 2016 I had stories in four charity anthologies. Here’s a run down:

The idea for Stardust, Always was conceived after the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman from cancer. A group us from Facebook’s NaNoWriMo group wanted to do something in honor of the two stars who had a profound effect on so many people’s lives. As a cancer survivor myself I was drawn to this group and was honored to donate a story to this collection.

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All proceeds from Stardust Always go to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

We’ve All Been There is a collection of memoirs from eight authors who talk about their personal struggles in the hopes of empowering others going through tough times.

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All proceeds from We’ve All Been There go to Project Semicolon.

Proceeds for the two Longest Night Watch anthologies go to Alzheimers’ research. The books were created in honor of the late and great Terry Pratchett and I have a short story in volume 2.

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The final charity anthology to which I contributed in 2016 was Rescue Me: Purrfect Companions in aid of the Cat Network. My story in this one is Cecilia’s Tale, which I hope to expand into a picture book coming out later in 2017.

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So there we have it. Six wonderful charity anthologies, all filled with compelling tales from awesome authors and all for important causes. Please pick up your copies today and share this post.

Thank you!

 

The Importance of Proofreading

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As some folks here know I’m in the process of republishing the second book in my series, Argentum. I wrote this book three years ago starting with the first draft during NaNoWriMo of 2013. I polished it and self-edited it, sent it out to beta readers, and edited it again. Then it went to my publisher at the time who edited it and sent it back to me for proofreading. I proofread, found errors that were corrected and it was published.

During the years it was published by the small press several friends found more errors that I made note of and when I got my rights back I fixed. I went over the whole thing again myself and then hired a professional proofreader who still found tons of errors! Fixed them all, read it again and sent off for a paper proof.

This week I’ve been sitting with the paperback copy reading it yet again (I know my story backwards and forwards by now, but amazingly I still like it.) And guess what? I’M STILL FINDING ERRORS!!!!

So folks remember this – it’s a process. Never assume because a professional editor has been through your work that you don’t have to check it. Check it, check it again and keep checking it and eventually you’ll get an (almost) perfect copy!

Also if you’re looking for an editor or proofreader, I do that too. Check out the Editing and Proofreading tab on the top of the page.

And remember to preorder the brand new (hopefully error free) version of Argentum releasing on December 1st.

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Ready, Set, NaNo 2016

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Five years ago I started my author journey with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I’d just come out of cancer treatment a few months before and had always wanted to write a book, but before cancer I’d thought I had all the time in the world for that. That it could wait until the kids were older, until my life was more in order. Cancer made me realize that we never know how much time we really have on this earth and if I truly wanted to write a book I needed to stop talking about it and do it.

I’d heard of NaNoWriMo – a friend had attempted it the year before, so when an idea emerged during October 2012 I decided to have a go at writing it. And so P.A.W.S. was born. That first NaNo was amazing. I launched myself into my story. Forgot to eat and sleep, but by the end of the month I’d written “The End” on that first draft and achieved something I’d wanted to do my whole life.

Five years later I’m start writing Book 4 of my series today. Each one of the previous books started as NaNo projects. Why don’t you join me?

(Oh and remember to reward yourself with a little chocolate or whatever you prefer whenever you complete your daily words.)

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Say Shalom to Assaph Mehr

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Today on Paws 4 Thought we welcome author Assaph Mehr and his feline muses, Felix and Tiger-lily.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Assaph.

I was born in Israel, where one can’t avoid treading on antiquities. I think living in the area of the dawn of civilization was influential in growing up to love history so much. I now make Australia my home, with my wife, two cats and a variable number of children on any given day (long story).

I always liked to read, and have spent most of my life with my nose in a book. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy as a kid, and recently fell in love with historical fiction, particularly that set in Ancient Rome.

  1. When did you first start writing?

Very recently. I had my nose in a book since I was a child, and whilst seeing my name in print was on my bucket-list, I never thought to actually go and do something about it.

I had the idea for a fantasy detective story and for the particular twist ending for a while. Then one hot night in January 2015 my wife complained that she had nothing good left to read, so I just sat down and started writing. And I didn’t stop until I finished the novel.

  1. As some readers of this blog are aware my son, Joey, named our cat Miri after the protagonist of P.A.W.S. I hear you did it the other way – is it true that your protagonist, Felix, is named after your cat?

Yes, it’s true. ‘Felix’ in Latin means lucky, and it fits both my cat and my protagonist. Besides, it was past midnight and I needed to come up with a Roman name for my character. My cat was already there, helping me write, so he got first honours:

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His sister, Tiger-lily, was more involved in the editing process, as an over-the-shoulder tough critic:

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  1. Who are your favorite authors?

So many! On the historical fiction side, probably Colleen McCullough, Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis stand out. The last two also cover mystery novel, and I will only add the amazing Boris Akunin.

On the fantasy side too many to mention, from classics like JRR Tolkein and Fritz Leiber, to modern authors like Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett.

I haven’t read Jim Butcher yet, but I’ve had several people comment that Felix is reminiscent of Harry Dresden in a toga. I have a feeling I’m about to discover a new favourite.

  1. What inspires you to write?

Like many other authors, it’s an itch that needs scratching. Once started, it’s impossible to stop.

I’ve always been an avid reader. I’ve had random scenes and ideas running through my mind. All it took was the prompt from my darling wife to sit down and start writing. After that, inspiration is not the problem. As I wrote my first novel, I just had more and more ideas for future novels, ideas I am working with now. It’s the 99% perspiration that’s hard work.

  1. Tell us a little bit about Murder In Absentia.

Quite simply, it’s the story I wanted to read. I loved historical fiction about ancient Rome since the first time I read Asterix. I’ve read a lot of classic sci-fi and fantasy in my youth, as well as classic detectives. Lately I’ve read a lot Roman mysteries, like those of Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis. So when it came time to write, I knew exactly what I wanted.

The story itself is a classic noir detective. A young man dies, his powerful family wants to know why. Felix goes after the people responsible, and gets drawn into a little circle of nasty people. What makes this story unique – besides the very surprising plot twists – is the setting. The melding of Ancient Roman culture (I’ve done hours and hours of research into every aspect) together with the high-fantasy magical world.

I’ve subtitled the novel as a “Story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic” as it draws on all three elements equally.

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  1. So what’s next for Felix?

Felix will continue solving cases, usually those involving corpses no one else wants to touch. A few short cases appear on the blog, but he is currently working for one of the city’s top magistrates in clearing a haunted house. It seems like even large apartment buildings – or especially large apartment buildings – can have their own unique troubles.

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  1. What do you like to do to relax?

I can’t remember, it’s not like I have time to relax…

But late at night, after the kids are asleep and the cats are comfortably ensconced in my lap, that’s when I write. I do find the writing process extremely satisfying, though I can’t say that the glass of legal-age scotch doesn’t help.

  1. If you had a super power what would it be?

The one I’d like to have is to stop time. I could always use more hours in the day.

The one I’m stuck with is that I’m partially anosmic, and can withstand really bad smells without a trouble. (My kryptonite is fart jokes – I just can’t stop laughing).

  1. If you could have dinner with anyone real or fictional who would you choose?

This is one of those questions I never know how to answer. So many bright people, yet I fear I wouldn’t know what to say to them.

You know that feeling what someone says something, and you’re left speechless, and hours later you come up with the perfect comeback? Well, being witty on paper is easy – you just put a [witty retort goes here] marker, and add it in when it comes to you.

Spend dinner with actual, live people like Neil Gaiman? I’d be star-struck and mumble too much.

  1. How can readers connect with you?

Here is where you can find my on the webz:

Website: http://egretia.com
Blog: http://egretia.com/news
Facebook: http://facebook.com/AssaphMehrAuthor
Twitter: @assaphmehr
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14422472.Assaph_Mehr
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Murder-in-absentia-Felix-Fox-Book-ebook/dp/B015TXPPG6

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