Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Michael DeVault's Character, JOE MORTON

MEET MY CHARACTER

  1. Who are you?
    • What is your name?
      • Joe Morton
    • Are you a fictional or historical character?
      • fictional
    • What should we know about you?
      • I like to keep to myself, work in the field with the cows and the land, and stay out of people’s way
  1. Tell us about your story:
    • When and where is your tale set?
      • 2005, East Texas.
    • What is your personal goal?  I mean, what do you ultimately want?
      • Ultimately, I want a quiet life
    • What is standing in your way?  What conflict(s) do you face?
      • Cranston, Texas is kind of a connected place. Everybody knows everybody and they all have their business and your business in mind. Sometimes, even a private moment gets taken over by the people around me.
  1. How do I get a copy of your book?
    • What is the title or working title for this piece?
      •  The Patriot Joe Morton
    • Is it available now or when can we expect to see it released?
      • Amazon, B&N, etc. Available now.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Michael DeVault's Current WIP - The Associated Risks of Reentry

WIPs and New Releases

1)    Tell us about your work-in-progress, or WIP, as it’s known as in the industry or New Release…
Ø  What is the story about?
·   Right now, I have three projects running concurrently.
·   I’m writing a biography of a pop artist and two novels.
·   The project I’m most excited about is called “The Associated Risks of Reentry” and it’s a timely look at race, family, and politics in America.
Ø  Who is the main character?
·   Who you view as “the main character” depends largely on your perspective. There are three possibilities: Eli Harris, his wife Amanda, or his father, Isaiah.
·   Each of the three represent a different facet of the undercurrents that are shaping the country right now, and they each respond to different pressures in ways that are at once familiar and tragic.
·   Eli Harris is a doctor, a family practitioner, and his wife is a NASA safety engineer. His father, Isaiah, has been an absent figure in his life, locked away in prison since Eli was an infant. What happens when these characters are all thrust back together?
·   Where my previous novel, “The Patriot Joe Morton,” focused on change for change’s sake vs. a dogged defense of the status quo, “Associated Risks” is all about how we manage to just “be” where we are in any given moment of time – and what happens when someone is removed from their moment in time for an extended period, decades.
2)   What inspired this tale?
Ø  How did the story come to you?
·   At first, I was more focused on Amanda’s story, which begins immediately during the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. As the story unfolded, though, I really got to know her family.
·   An accidental google for the title of the book – while researching the risks of re-entering spacecraft – led to the duality.
·   Prisoners reentering society run many of the same risks as a spacecraft landing on earth – burning up and getting destroyed by the pressure.
Ø  Did you have to research for this novel, and if so, why?
·   Researching this novel has taken me to NASA, to prison blogs, to criminal justice professors and law enforcement officials.
·   For this novel to work, it’s going to have to be grounded in hard facts from both Amanda’s story and Isaiah’s story.
Ø  If you did research, what do you think surprised you most to learn, and why?
·   For years as a journalist, I read and even wrote about recidivism rates and the challenges inmates face post-incarceration. What shocked me the most was just how deep the trauma can be – and the level of abuse of the system that’s taken place.
·   I’ve read a dozen or more accounts of death row inmates who were wrongfully convicted, and even in the face of exonerating evidence, are still on death row. It’s appalling what some of these individuals are facing. They’re humans, their innocence is beyond question, and yet they’re sitting in a 5x10 cell, behind a steel door, waiting for someone to come kill them.
3)   Do you relate to your character?
Ø  Is your protagonist anything like you personally?
·   They all three are, indeed.
Ø  If yes, then how?
·   I’m headstrong, I don’t always know when I’m wrong, and when I find out I’m wrong about something, it can take me a little while to adjust my worldview. But I do adjust my worldview – eventually.
·   At the same time, I’m a profound believer in the ideals of the American family, what family represents and the bonds family forge with one another.
·   And I understand the challenges facing parents today are quite different than they were when I was a teen, when my mother was a teen. Or were they?
Ø  If no, how do you differ from one another?
·   I’m not sure how to answer this. I recognize they aren’t me, but at the same time, there isn’t a facet of the characters that don’t spring from my imagination. They’re all in some part me, but they’re a different version of me.
Ø  What made you write this character; what made them important to you or made you want to tell their story?
·   The Harris family’s story is hardly unique. In fact, it’s far too common, and that’s why I wanted to tell it.
4)   Is there anything you specific want readers to know about this piece of work?
It’s not about what you’re going to think it’s about. It really is about the American family – the whole family – and what it means to be a parent.
5)   When will the novel be available for purchase?
Hopefully in the second quarter of 2018.
Ø  If not, when is the approximate release date, or when does it go live?
·   I’m aiming to have the book to the publisher by Twelfth Night, if not sooner.

Michael DeVault

Novelist, Essayist, & (recovering) Journalist

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Friday, September 29, 2017

My Book Review of THE KILLING COLLECTIVE

The Killing CollectiveThe Killing Collective by Gary Starta and Robin Firestone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*An Interesting Take on Mind-Control!*

I am definitely a fan of Gary Starta, but this is my first exposure to Robin Firestone. It was certainly a skillful collaboration, and one that has me interested in reading more from both authors!
Generally speaking, I limit my crime stories to NCIS and Law & Order: SVU. I do read some detective stories on occasion, but it isn't the genre I am usually drawn to. However, I enjoyed this book and the police investigation aspects of it. Though it isn't really a tale about a government conspiracy theory, I absolutely loved the concept of the FBI and secret government involvement in trying to control the thoughts of the masses.
I won't give anything away, but I will say I didn't expect the ending. It was classic Gary Starta, for sure, and if Robin Firestone writes the same, then she has a new reader! I enjoy the deeper concepts Gary uses in his writing, and I am constantly impressed by his unique take on things.
I think what I enjoyed the most about this particular book was the characters. The relationship shared between Agent Deeprose, Seacrest, and Carter was likable, relatable, and something I think we all hope for when starting a new job. Surprisingly, I found I liked Seacrest above the rest because I love her tireless efforts to find the truth, to support those she loves, and to protect those who don't even realize they need protecting.
I recommend this story for readers drawn to crime stories, conspiracy theories, "who-done-it" detective novels, and if you are looking to read something akin to X-Files meets NCIS.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 28, 2017

KERRY WATT's Character Billy Lawson

MEET MY CHARACTER

1.  Who are you?
·       What is your name?
               Pleased to meet you, my name is Billy Lawson.
·      Are you a fictional or historical character?
I’m completely fictional but I’m guessing there will be readers who wish I was real.
·       What should we know about you?
I’m a big guy. I like to work out to maintain my size. I can handle myself if you know I mean. I’m ex army. Spent a bit of time on the streets thanks to PTSD and drug problems but I’m over that. Working on the Marshall farm helps keep me straight. I do have a softer side too. I can’t stand to see women being hurt, especially Annie. She thinks she’s tough but inside she’s still the vulnerable girl who left Carrlochry all those years ago.
2.  Tell us about your story:
·       When and where is your tale set?
I’ve been helping on the Marshall farm for a few years now and I love it. I love to be physical, getting my hands dirty. Carrlochry is a Highland village and it’s quiet too, the sort of place you go to escape which suited me. My daughter, Juno she loves it too. She likes to retreat here when life with her mum and step-dad gets too much.
·       What is your personal goal?  I mean, what do you ultimately want?
Until recently my goal was just to enjoy a quiet life until I met her. Annie Marshall crashed into my life and now she is all I can think about. She awakened things in me I thought were long buried.
·       What is standing in your way?  What conflict(s) do you face?
Annie thinks I’m going to judge her past and she’s scared that will come between us but I won’t let it. She did what she did but that’s in the past.
3.  How do I get a copy of your book?
·       What is the title or working title for this piece?
You can get to know me better in the book – Homecoming Queen by Kerry Watts , who says this book has very special significance to her, but she won’t tell me what. I’ve got my own suspicions on that, if you know what I mean. Get yourself a copy and see what you think then let me know.
·       Is it available now or when can we expect to see it released?
Homecoming Queen can be downloaded now from Amazon –

Monday, September 25, 2017

My Book Review of ENVY

Envy (Protectors of the Elemental Magic Book 4)Envy by Marnie Cate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you love fantasy, magic, fairies, and romance, then this is the story for you!

ENVY can be read as a standalone, but the series is fantastic, and I highly recommend it!

The town of Starten hides many secrets, but none so sinister as those of the Drygen's. After tragically losing her father and brothers, beautiful Blanche isn't just the sole heiress to the family's wealth and businesses, but she is also the unfortunate soul intended to pay for her another's sins. Greed and ego draw the attention of the wicked Winter Goddess, whose whims shape Blanche's future because of the bad choices of her mother, Camille. These whims sweep you along with Blanche as she faces decades of drama and heartbreak.

What I loved the best about this story was the humanity of Blanche. I loved her flaws, and even when she was cruel herself, I rooted for her, wishing things could be different. I think everyone of us can relate to being in a situation where we have no control. We can all relate to being involved in things we didn't consciously choose to be included in, things snowballed, or circumstances flung us into something completely unexpected. I also think we can all relate to Blanche's jealous admiration of her nemesis, Mae Silver. In another time and place, Mae and Blanche would have been friends, but Mae had the magical blessings of Danu while Blanche bore the darkness of the goddess, Snowystra.

I loved the characters and the magical world. The richness of the author's creation just seems to grow with each level of the tales told in this series. I am addicted, and I know you will be too!

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Author J.M. Davis' WIP

WIPs and New Releases

1)    Tell us about your work-in-progress, or WIP, as it’s known as in the industry or New Release…
Ø  What is the story about?
·   It’s a paranormal mystery, following Edy James on an unique and dangerous case.
Ø  Who is the main character?
·   Edy James. A feisty detective who keeps the Paranormal Crime Unit on their toes.
2)   What inspired this tale?
Ø  How did the story come to you?
·   My friend actually came to me with the idea of a paranormal detective. I fell in love with the potential of it, and thus, this story was born.
Ø  Did you have to research for this novel, and if so, why?
·   Not really. I’ve made my own rules with the paranormal creatures you’ll find in this book, which was a lot of fun.
3)   Do you relate to your character?
Ø  Is your protagonist anything like you personally?
·   No, Edy’s sarcasm game is much more on point than mine...
Ø  What made you write this character; what made them important to you or made you want to tell their story?
·   My female characters have always started out meek, and mild, eventually developing into strong women. Edy’s growth is reverse. Starting out strong and independent, but melding into a gentle individual who allows love back into her life. 
4)   Is there anything you specific want readers to know about this piece of work?
Just that it’s a lot of fun writing! I hope it’s just as fun to read!
5)   When will the novel be available for purchase?
There isn’t a release date planned for this piece yet. Be sure to LIKE my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter to keep up-to-date on its progress. https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJ.M.Davis 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Michael DeVault's In My Office!

My Interview with MICHAEL DeVAULT!

I am excited to have you join us today.  I think my readers will enjoy this interview as you have such an extensive background in writing.  From journalism to teaching literature to published author – we should get started! J
1.     I always begin with one of my favorite questions – please tell us how you’d describe yourself?
I’m a dilettante. I love that word, dilettante, because it carries with it so much connotation – very little of it good. But I’m a playful know-it-all who likes to be able to converse about subjects far and wide, I do about 9 things at once, and I try to be the master of multiple domains. Sometimes, I don’t always succeed. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m able to pull off some of the stories I write.
2.      This first set of questions will feature you as a reader.  Having read the various genres you enjoyed as a youth, I am really interested in learning more.
·        I wasn’t surprised to read you enjoyed the classics, pop fiction, sci-fi… that’s fairly normal.  What caught me was that you enjoyed reading religious works and non-fiction.  How did you get into these aspects of literature?
o   Is ‘no comment’ a fair answer? (laughs)
o   I grew up bouncing between my grandparents, my mother, and a host of friends and neighbors. When I was a young child, the biggest influence in my life was my maternal great-grandfather, a pastor in a Pentecostal church in Louisiana. Later, I divided time between an atheist and a Southern Baptist minister’s house.
o   By the time I got to college, I had read the Bible cover-to-cover – including Matthew Henry’s commentary on the subjects at hand and the complete canon of Ayn Rand’s work. And I didn’t know what the fuck I wanted to do when I “grew up” – other than write. I flailed about in college from theatre to business to biology to music, eventually settling on English – with minors in History and Anthropology. How’s that for literary training?
o   I think, though, I have my grandmother’s inquisitive mind. When she died, she had read all of the classics – and I mean classics like Plato, Aristotle, Aristophanes, St. Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas. If it was a book, chances are she had read it.
Ø  Why types of religious works did you gravitate towards, and why?
§  I think I gravitate towards books that bring a new perspective to the world. Whether it’s a unique take on Christianity that forces me to question what I knew and learned in Seminary (Yes, Ethel, I went to Seminary), or a work that brings to light an obscure practice somewhere, I find people of faith fascinating.
§  I’ve been re-reading some of the modern Buddhist masters lately – Thich Nhat Hanh and Lama Surya Das to name two. And, I, finally, undertook a critical read of the Baghavad Gita last year ahead of teaching it in a literature course.
Ø  What type of non-fiction did you enjoy – biographies, newspapers, magazine – and what did you specifically like about them? 
§  I love science biographies and accounts of discovery. I waded through the science of the atomic bomb with “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” by Richard Rhodes. I also loved Walter Isaacson’s “Einstein” and have recently been chipping away at “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly – just a beautiful book, and I’m taking my time with it.
·        Are there any authors that influenced you more than others?  If so, who are they, and why’d they inspire you?
o   Hands down, Ayn Rand. I’m not quite an objectivist, but I love her depiction of heroes. I balance that with a healthy dose of Hemingway and the modernists, because I think the truth lies somewhere in between. When we’re able to have heroes who are at once heroic and flawed, then I think we’ll start moving forward again.
·        Do you have a favorite genre or literary medium?  If so, what is it, and why do you prefer it?
o   I tend to write general literary fiction, though I envy people who can transcend genre. I wish I were able to write a great sci-fi novel or a caper novel. But so far, that’s been a dry well.
·        How did your experiences as a reader encourage your career choices?
o   I love the written word, if only because I think it has far more power to change the world than pretty much any other human endeavor.
o   Everything I read influences me in some way, however minor, to be just that much better.
3.     Yep, that last question was a Segway! J Not only do you hold an MFA in Creative Writing, but you have worked as a freelance writer and author while teaching at the college level.  I want to address your various positions in the writing world in these next questions. 
·        What led you to become a teacher, and why did you decide to focus your efforts at the college level?
o   I love teaching and being around young, inquisitive minds. Every time I step into the classroom, I’m impressed in some new way that, no matter how bad things get – and let’s be honest. My generation is the one that gave us Trump and Clinton and real Nazis marching in the streets – this next generation has something special going for it. These cats have game, they see through all of the bullshit on the television and Facebook, and in spite of a bit of latent adolescence, they manage to strike genuine a whole lot faster, younger, and stronger than my generation ever did.
Ø  I have a friend who’s a professional teacher, as well as a bestselling romance author.  This person chooses to write under a pen name so their two careers don’t collide.  Had you ever done this?  Why, or why not?
§ I don’t write under a pen name, though I understand why some do. I spent too long in the media as a newspaper reporter and editor for my opinions to be secret – and that’s been a bit of a challenge personally and professionally from time-to-time. I’ve lived my entire life “out loud,” so to speak.
§ These days, when I go in for an interview – for a job at a college or a freelance gig or whatever – I make sure the interviewers go to my Facebook page and Twitter, they read my books or my editorials or my blog, and they know what they’re getting.
§ I’m too old and have been doing this for too long to start trying to hide what I believe in a pseudonym. Besides, I think people would see through it pretty quickly. I have kind of a loud voice.
Ø  How do you feel your writing career has been enhanced by your teaching career, and vice versa?
§ I love teaching, and I love writing. Writing feeds the creative parts of my brain and teaching nurtures the side of me that likes to be of service to others. At the same time, they both keep me aware of my task – of all of our tasks as humans, really – to make some lasting contribution to the world, to leave it a better place than we found it if we can, and to not fuck it up too badly if we can’t.
·        You have interviewed many famous people, including Former President, Bill Clinton.  How did you get these opportunities?
o   Believe it or not, President Clinton was my very first assignment as a working writer. Talk about ‘down hill from there!’ I was young, naïve, and didn’t know any better. I was a content creator for a small internet service provider and he was the Internet President, so I called the White House and pitched the story. Three days later, there I was with a disposable camera and a Radio Shack tape recorder sandwiched between CNN and ABC News on the press stand. I even managed to get a question off, though he didn’t answer it. A few years later, when I actually got to meet and interview him, he remembered the event we were both at.
o   Part of landing the “big get” interviews is just having the audacity to ask, I think. That’s certainly been the case for much of my career as a journalist. Knowing how to pick up the phone and ask for the interview in a way that doesn’t quite give the gatekeepers an out helps. I’m ashamed to say that, on more than a few occasions, I simply just bugged the hell out of the gatekeepers until they’d let me move into their houses if I’d just shut up about it. That’s part of the job.
·        How does writing for a magazine differ from writing a novel or anthology?
o   Writing for a magazine or newspaper is transactional. The story isn’t your creation, and it’s got such a short shelf-life as a creative project. For me, a magazine feature – say 2,500 words or so – is a quick sprint up the stairs. A novel? That’s a cross-country trek. It’s a completely different set of creative muscles.  
·        What genre or writing style do you prefer, and why?
o   I tend to gravitate towards the 3rd person novel with a limited narrator, and I’m not sure why. In Joe Morton, for example, I couldn’t get away from the voice of Sam Elliott as the narrator. The narrator even refers to himself as a part of the community on more than one occasion.
o   There’s just something interesting about a 3rd person narrator who doesn’t know everything and knows that. It takes irony to a different level.
o   That being said, of my four novels, I’ve varied the voice every time. First person, third person limited, and third person omniscient all found their way.
4.     Freelance writing, to me, isn’t all that different than being an indie author.  I mean, they are both a form of independent writing.  Do you feel there are any drawbacks to being independent?  If so, what, and why?
Money. Or the lack thereof.
I met a famous author, one of my literary heroes and someone, who if I named her, everyone would recognize. When I met her, I told her, “Your book changed my life.”
She asked how, adding, “It changed my life, too.”
I immediately answered her question about its impact on my life, “It made me want to be a better writer. How did it change your life?”
She laughed. “Well, I didn’t have money, I wrote the book, and then I had money.”
It’s a little crass, but there is truth to it. When you’re attached to a major publisher, or a magazine as a staff writer, there’s a consistency of money that makes life a little easier. When you’re independent, you’ve kind of got to bust your ass. But that’s okay, because I like to bust my ass.
5.     Okay, now, I want to go a little off topic, if we can.  Having lived an array of lives, I, too, have a past as a stage actress.  I read you have been an actor, so I wanted to delve into this area a little, just to satisfy my own curiosity (Hey, it’s my blog, after all).
·        Were you trained in acting or did you come by it naturally?
o   It was accidental. I had a crush on a girl and she wanted to play Lady Anne to my Richard III. Fifteen years later, I had a lot of fun and a lot of great stories.  
·        Were you strictly a stage actor, or had you done any film?
o   Stage only, and always at an amateur or community theatre level.
·        What did you enjoy the most about acting?
o   I enjoyed performing and losing myself in a character. That, and the anticipation of the curtain rising.  You can feel the air move away from you when the curtain rises and the lights come up, and that’s a feeling that doesn’t get old.
·        How do you feel your love of literature impacted your acting, if at all?
o   I always wanted to play a hero and was almost doggedly typecast as a villain. That’s in part, I think, because I was kind of one-dimensional as an actor. It was a fun avocation, but had I decided to pursue it professionally, I’d probably be the best waiter in New York by now.
6.     What can we expect to see from you over the coming year?
I, just this month, launched a publishing imprint with a partner in Los Angeles. We’re focusing on a unique opportunity afforded to the two of us by our work in public relations and management. It’s a little too early to reveal the whole bowl of wax just yet, but we’ve got a great team assembled, three projects in the works for publication in the next 18 months, and a pretty good chance at a cornered market.
·        Do you have goals you set for yourself, and if so, what are they?
o   I don’t, really. I mean, beyond ‘don’t fuck up.’
o   I used to do the five-year plan thing over and over, and over again. I can’t think of one single goal from any five-year plan I ever made that I actually achieved. So eventually, I just stopped making them. I want to write books. I want to get better as a writer. I want to grow professionally and personally. But beyond that? I don’t set specifics for myself, at least not in the traditional, “I want to write the great American novel” or “I want to make a million bucks” sort of goals.
o   It drives my parents crazy, but I mean…since I abandoned the five-year goal making, I’ve interviewed two presidents, three Oscar nominees, and the Dalai Lama, written four novels, and started a publishing company. So I must be doing something right. Right?
·        What is your current WIP?
o   I’m working on a novel, The Associated Risks of Reentry, a biography of an artist, and another series of novels on spec for a publisher that, sadly, I can’t talk about right now. Stay tuned! It’s going to be a wild few years.
Thanks again.  It was a lot of fun chatting with you.  I feel a kindred spirit – LOL J  I wish you all the best in everything you undertake! 

Michael DeVault

Novelist, Essayist, & (recovering) Journalist

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