Casting call for a book: the curious ways of the independent author

Today I have a special treat for all of you…Please help me welcome my dear friend, Matt Kruze, author of The Coming of The Storm, part one of the Storm Trilogy now available on Amazon.   

The Coming Of The Storm_Matt Kruze

You might think that the concept of casting for characters in a book is more literary than literal. A metaphor, right? Or something about casting through the channels of the mind perhaps. Because who, actually, would bother recruiting an actor for a work of fiction? And come on, why?

The great freedom of the novel is that the author gets to mold the characters, shape them in his or her imagination before committing them to print. Heroes, villains, cameos, you name it: the author has the power to dictate their every mannerism, every action, what they say and do, assign friends and enemies, lovers, opponents.

With such an inviting blank canvass and an infinite palette, what sane reason does an author have to import a ready-made personality?

‘Well it just came about because the protagonist in my story has a friend who is an actress,’ explains Matt Kruze, independent author, who has recently released his third book to Kindle, The Coming of The Storm. ‘It’s a fictional work, so of course she could have had a fictional friend. But I thought, what if her friend could be a real life movie personality? What if I could have an actress feature in my story, even if just as a ‘mention’? I began to realise, the more I thought about it, that this isn’t a new concept. It’s new to fiction as far as I’m aware, but if you look at movies, they’ve been doing it for years.’

Well yes, obviously.

‘No, not like that. Sure, they cast for actors to play parts, but they will also, from time to time, feature a real life personality who’s known outside of the film industry. Take OJ Simpson. Nowadays he’s known for the most famous police chase of all time, not to mention the subsequent trial. But in his day he was a world record holder in NFL. In 1970s America, if you were a Buffalo Bills supporter, or even just a football fan, you knew OJ Simpson. He was the first to rush 2000 yards and still holds the per-game and per-season record to this day. When he retired, he wanted to get into films, but make no mistake: the films wanted him too. He was cast in The Towering Inferno in 1974 and frankly, why wouldn’t you? All those millions of football fans across the country suddenly have a reason to go and watch the movie.’

So you take one living legend, a sports personality for example, stick them up on the big screen in your forthcoming blockbuster, and hey presto: box office smash. How does that translate to literature though?

‘Ah but it’s not so different,’ explains Matt. ‘Your typical independent author has to be very creative when it comes to attracting readers. For us there’s no A1 poster in the window of Borders, no book signings, no lucrative agreements between publishers and book stores. We have to peddle our wares at grass roots level. For the most part that means Facebook, Twitter, maybe a blog and a mailing list too. But almost all successful independent authors have a marketing hook: that little something extra. Maybe they have formed an on-line magazine, or a review club. Perhaps they’ve tapped into some new way to exploit social media that no one else has thought of. Whatever, they have to be imaginative if they want to succeed. But no matter what the conduit, it all comes down to interaction. And having a real-life personality feature in your book is a form of that. Who knows, it might even catch on as a trend! Think about it: throughout literary history there has been a succession of fashions and trends. From the middle of the 16th Century when the Italian writers explored the subject of love, to the ridicule of that same subject a hundred years later. Tragedies, comedies, rants – they’ve all had their place, they’ve all been initiated and then imitated over the years. Movies too: we’ve had the age of the thriller, the disaster, the action adventure, the horror – all of them have had their turn at one time or another. It’s the same in the art world. At one time it was fashionable to have your product – or your visage – painted by Andy Warhol. It was very much in vogue. I’m just hoping to identify another trend, albeit on a smaller scale.’

So Matt is the literary Andy Warhol, metaphorically painting Marilyn Monroe into his prose?

‘Stop it. I said on a smaller scale – alright a much smaller scale.’

But this interaction, surely, is the very nature of marketing/advertising. There’s nothing new there.

‘True, but we independents have to think outside the box. That’s how I came up with casting. If I can put a known personality into my book, it spreads the word to their fans as well as mine. It’s all about branching out. They don’t have to be an actor: a sports personality, a politician, even another writer would do. It’s just that books and films share so many traits – I’m talking about showing concepts, character development, atmospherics, not just the obvious story telling – that it seemed natural to feature an actor. That’s where Mary came in.’

Enter Mary Alexandra Stiefvater, who has featured in a host of TV and film features from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, to The Mentalist, several episodes of The Late Show with David Letterman, and a range of independent films including Supergator, Bear, Loveless in Los Angeles and Driving by Braille.

‘I noticed among my followers/followees on Twitter that while most were like-minded writers, quite a few hailed from different backgrounds. I saw that Mary was an actor, as well as a writer and producer, and I’d been mulling over the idea for a while about featuring someone from films in my book. So I contacted her and she liked the idea. Which surprised me, because new concepts can be very hard to pitch. People tend to assume, if they don’t fully understand what you’re trying to do, that you want something from them. Perhaps because Mary does some writing herself, she’s a bit more open-minded. Twitter is great though for this kind of thing. It can make introductions that would otherwise not be open to you.’

For the uninitiated, Twitter is one of the independent author’s most potent marketing weapons.

‘Oh yes,’ Matt enthuses. ‘It’s an amazing tool. I’ve not been on Twitter very long so my two thousand followers is nothing to brag about. I know independent authors who have twenty to thirty thousand, and even a couple with a hundred thousand. But we’re a sociable, reciprocal bunch. We help each other for the sake of it and for the sake of spreading the word. That’s the nature of social media isn’t it? You communicate a whole plethora of information just because you can. Because it’s there. So I’ll send out a quick tweet about one of my books to my two thousand followers, but it will get picked up and retweeted. And in the space of an hour, that tweet has gone out to over fifty thousand people. Now, featuring Mary, I have another division of potential readers. Her fans, people who have never heard of me before, suddenly have a reason to download my book. Because maybe they’d like to ‘see’ her in it, the same way they will go and see her in a film. These are people I wouldn’t normally have reached. Likewise, I’ll make sure my readers are aware of Mary and her work. Not least anything she has on the burner right now. It goes both ways you see. And yet there’s no contract, no agreement. I haven’t once said to her, ‘If I put you in my book will you shout about it to everyone you know please?’ That’s not what it’s all about. Social marketing is talking, not selling. It’s very passive like that. As soon as you abuse it, people turn away. Of course, I send out information and links to where you can download my books, but equally I try to engage in conversation about writing, or life in general sometimes. And it’s important to be honest. I once received a one star review for one of my earlier books, Pursuit, because the reader felt it was too cluttered with big words. I was accused of being an English language professor trying to educate his readers. (If you know me you are laughing right now). Instead of shying away from it or wishing the review would vanish from the page (they don’t, and yes it’s still there) I wrote a blog post about it. It inspired quite a bit of input and sure enough, I was able to edit the book appropriately so that it reads much more succinctly now. This all comes from talking. From interacting. The more people you bounce off, the bigger footprint you’ll leave. Casting for a real-life personality in The Coming of The Storm was, for me, just an extension of that.’

So what makes a good personality for a book?

‘Good question! And a tricky one to answer because this is the first time I’ve done it. For me though, I just needed someone who understood the point of it. Also, Mary is an interesting person in real life, so there can depth to her part if it’s needed. She has not only featured in a lot of TV shows and films, she is also trained in a variety of weapons and unarmed combat. She’s a writer and a producer, and in addition, she’s very much into skiing, which is something I love to do with my family as much as possible. I noticed that she has an upcoming film about Squaw Valley, the resort that bid for – and won – the hosting of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and I love the Olympics. I genuinely want to see that film and I genuinely want to tell everyone I can about it. So from a reciprocal point of view, that makes it simpler, more natural. Plus all of her personality traits are layers that I don’t have to invent! I did look at another option to feature alongside Mary. The Coming of The Storm also makes mention of an adult movie star, albeit that’s not what the book is about, and I thought it would be good to have a real life actress feature in that role too. I approached one of the bigger names in the industry who was initially all for it, but then got a bit cautious. I’m not sure why – perhaps in that world people are used to being exploited and assume nothing is what it seems, but in any case she hasn’t entirely ruled it out in future, so I won’t mention her name here! Whatever the case, I’m really hoping the first part of the Storm trilogy works out with Mary and she’ll be back for more.’

The Coming of The Storm, part one of the Storm Trilogy by Matt Kruze is available on Amazon Kindle:

US: http://goo.gl/mvCfRI

UK: http://goo.gl/dQgdmg

Mary Alexandra Stiefvater can be found at http://maryalexandra.com She is currently involved in an upcoming film covering the successful 1960 winter Olympic bid of the previously unheard of Squaw Valley resort, details at www.squawthemovie.com

~~~

Matt, thanks so much for stopping by today for this interesting chat!  Best wishes for your continued success and please do come again…it’s always a pleasure visiting with you.  🙂

ABOUT DANICA CORNELL

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Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

DARK STAR I The Assassins (2)

DARK STAR II RISE OF THE HUBOTS

 

Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

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SOUL TIES: BE CAREFUL WHO YOU BED AND WED: FIRST CHAPTER

Hello Everyone!  Please help me welcome my friend and fellow Rave Reviews Book Club member, author Angelia Vernon Menchan!  Take it away, Angelia…

 

Written By ANGELIA VERNON MENCHAN

Soul Ties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soul Ties: Be Careful Who You Bed!

Fletcher Mitchell stared out the window and was unable to accept that his wife, the woman he loved and married was getting out of the car with another man. Unable to move or react, he watched the guy walk around and open the door for her. Offering his hand, she took it and got out. He opened the gate for her but wasn’t stupid enough to walk inside. He held his breath, praying she wouldn’t be dumb enough to allow him to kiss her in front of their home, but he wasn’t sure because if she were bold enough to allow him to bring her home when her husband and children were inside, she might. It took everything in him not to go outside and confront them but his sons were inside. Thankfully, she simply flicked her fingers and strode up the sidewalk with the guy watching her until she got inside.

Denisha jumped out of her skin when Fletcher stood up, turning on the light. The shock on her face quickly changed to a mocking look. The one she always got when she knew she was wrong and no longer cared. He knew she had not cared for a long time and tonight was the final proof. There was so much he wanted to say but he refused to utter a word. Making his way to the room where his twin sons slept, he sat in the recliner next to their beds. The words his mother had uttered two years earlier pounded in his head, “Son, be careful who you tie your soul to, everything that is good to you is not good for you and ripe fruit soon spoils.”

Pain rocked through him because that is exactly what had occurred. He had tied his soul to her, allowing her to mother his children and his life was filled with rotten fruit.

Chapter One

Two Years Earlier…

Walking into the nightclub, Fletcher Mitchell could feel the pulsing music. He had decided to attend graduate school at USC and was enjoying the left coast. He was an east coast man in his blood but after breaking up with his longtime girlfriend he needed distance. Los Angeles was a long way from North Florida. After graduating from the University of North Florida he had worked for a few years at United Parcel Service because they had paid his tuition. The management training program was good but he wanted more. When USC accepted him and his company provided him with a transfer that paid more, he was all in. The company had found him a great roommate who was also a co-worker and fellow student, Rashad Ferguson.

He liked Rashad but Rashad was a ministerial student and a bit too preachy. He had heard enough about God and sin from his parents. His parents had become staunch Christians about ten years ago when he turned fifteen and for all of his high school years it had been God this and God that. Though he moved out at nineteen, they still always referenced God when he saw or spoke to them. He loved his parents dearly but he was tired of it, besides they seemed to have forgotten they weren’t always saved. Richard and Cynthia had once never set foot in a church. He found that hypocritical. Shaking those thoughts from his head, he started moving to the music. He had minored in music production and he knew he had some moves. He also knew that being six-two and muscular and slim the women were watching him. His smooth, dark brown skin and short fro didn’t’t hurt either.

Deneisha Young watched Fletcher from across the floor. She loved the sensual way he danced and wanted to know him. Other than the dark skin, he was her type. She had always been attracted to lighter skinned men like her dad, but there was something about Fletcher that held her attention. Starting her own dance she danced up close to him, with her eyes closed and hips swaying. Taking in her curvaceous body and pretty face, Fletcher touched her lightly, causing her eyes to open.

“Let’s show them how it’s done.”

Smiling, she followed him to the floor and they danced through four songs. Drenched with sweat, he took her hand leading her to the bar.

“What’s your poison?”

He asked in a deep, sexy voice. He wanted to kiss the mole beneath her eye.

“Tall, dark, handsome men who can dance.” Grinning down at her, he winked.

“To drink in a glass.” Her tittering laughter pierced him.

“In that case I will take a margarita. Tequila makes me crazy.”

Loving the sound of that, he ordered a margarita for her and Heineken for himself. He stared at her while they sipped. There was something hypnotic about her stance and her eyes.

“So what’s your name lady and what do you do?”

“I’m Deneisha Young but my friends call me Neisha.”

“Then Deneisha it is. I’m a business student and work for UPS as an IT manager.”

“I work as a paraprofessional at USC. I was in the military for three years, that’s how I ended up out here. My folks live in Alabama. My dad is a music producer.” His ears perked at her words.

“Really? That’s cool. I write music in my spare time, I also play a few instruments. What else do you do?”

“I’m a dancer!”

She started dancing as if moving up and down an imaginary pole.

“A stripper?”

He started humming the strains to ‘I’m in love with a stripper’ by T-Pain. She giggled again at his words and in tune humming.

“No, but for the right man, I am willing.”

For the remainder of the night they danced and flirted. He knew he could take her home but he wasn’t ready just yet. She wasn’t his usual type. Physically, she pretty much had it nailed but he really loved brainy women and she seemed pretty content to be a Para-pro.

Deniesha thought about Fletcher on the way home. Her friend Karen hadn’t been feeling him and was making her opinion known.

“I didn’t care for him. He had the arrogant, stuck up air about him. That boy from the middle class, slumming, with the hood chick’sthing.”

“Karen, how did you read all that into it. I spent three hours with the man and didn’t get all that.”

“I know the type. He is at USC and has all the bougie signs. I am sure he left some girl back home who he is in love with who will have his babies.”

Deneisha’s eyes met her friends and immediately she felt enraged. She got tired of being told she wasn’t good enough. She came from a good family, her mom being a paranoid schizophrenic, notwithstanding. She furiously rolled her eyes and continued staring out the window. She really wanted to slap Karen or spit in her face.

Deneisha was from a long line of volatile women who dealt with everything by hitting. Her mom had been hitting and cussing at her since she was a young child. However, she would be the first one in the church, dancing and praising and damning folks to hell. Her father on the other hand was a passive man; many would call him weak; he was from a hardworking, lower-middle class family who had married her mom because she had gotten pregnant at sixteen. Rena Young was also abusive to her husband. She had been raised to believe that a woman got all of a man’s money and hit first before she could be hit and that was how they lived. Fortunately, Ron was a naturally passive man who allowed Rena full reign. He loved her and would do anything to keep her, including allowing her to poison the minds of their three daughters of which Deneisha was the youngest.

Fletcher was the only child of middle class parents who had worked towards their own version of the American Dream. They had been born of parents who wanted more for each generation and they were no different. They had been married eighteen years and Fletcher fifteen when they had bought their first home. Before that, they had lived in nice apartments in good neighborhoods. His dad worked as a postal carrier who earned a good salary and his mother was a high ranking civil servant and had a side job as a sought after cupcake artist. Several years ago they had moved into a newer home in the country and were living out their blessings as their mother called it. She had often told him that God had taken care of them when they ignored him but now that they gave him praise and honor, their blessings overflowed. He had to agree with that because he had always thought they lived well, but it was nothing in comparison to how they were currently living. God or someone was blessing them.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Photo

 

Angelia Vernon Menchan considers writing to be the elixir of her soul. Since learning penmanship at age four, most days have found her jotting down thoughts in a notebook. After decades of journal-keeping she decided to try her hand at writing and publishing books, from which was born her small publishing company, M.A.m.m. Productions through which she publishes her own books that she has coined, ‘Fictionalized Truths, Ageless Fiction and Ramblings.’
When not writing, Angelia is a wife, mother, mentor and nana who loves reading almost as much as writing. Angelia is also an Avid Blogger and posts blogs most days to her blog, RAMBLINGS at http://acvermen.blogspot.com or for Skirt Magazine at http://skirt.com/angel08.

 

ABOUT DANICA CORNELL

DSC00834

Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.


DARK STAR I The Assassins (2)

Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

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The love of two places combined in a book

Effrosyni's blog

Fros in Corfu

Ever since I was little, I’ve always cherished time spent in Corfu;  my mother’s birthplace. Corfu is one of seven islands in the Ionian Sea. It is situated on the northwest edge of Greece, an hour’s journey by ferry from the prefecture of Epirus in the Greek mainland. The first thing you notice when you see pictures of my favorite Greek island is how green it is and that is no surprise, given the fact that it is remarkably more humid and rainy there than is common for the rest of the country.

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Lush hills, quaint fishing villages and stunning sandy beaches are to be found all around this highly touristy island. I regard myself as very lucky to have spent most of my childhood summers there in the company of my beloved grandparents and multitudes of cousins; sometimes for 3 months at a time! My encounters with hoards of…

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