Friday, September 28, 2012

Please welcome Author Christine Locke

How/why did you start to write?

I've been writing for as long as I can remember.  Once when I was about eight, my parents thrilled me with the news that we'd be going to Maine on vacation.  I was so excited, I ran off to write a story about it!

How did you become an author?

The desire to write stories my own children would enjoy turned out to be the driving force behind my first published novel, Open Door.  I kept working at it until my 14-year-old daughter claimed she could not put it down.  My daughters are the best beta readers I could imagine having.  I wrote a blog entry about that, actually, at

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

Before I decided I would e-publish Open Door, I worked in many jobs, most recently retail management and manager training.  Before that, I received a master of arts in comparative lit and did some teaching at the same time.  I was given four sections of freshman English at Texas A&M my last year there.  Teaching young people how to communicate effectively through writing was actually one of my favorite jobs.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

The most effective way to get others to read my book turned out to be the thing I was most nervous about doing: self-publishing and asking all my friends and family to believe in me and the book and to help me promote it through social media.  So many more people than I would have imagined showed interest in Open Door and in its sequel.  (I hope to have In Time published this fall after the children are back in school.)  I've been very lucky.

Parting words

Here's the absolute BEST thing about indie publishing and the online writing community: the support of other indie writers.  I've been overwhelmed by how easy it is to get your book out there and the warm welcome of other authors.  Both google+ and twitter have been tremendous resources for me, and I've greatly enjoyed connecting with other writers through their blogs, like this one!  Thanks for having me! (You're most welcome, Christine. Thank you for visiting. And all the best on your author journey.)
I'd love to be in your circles
Please follow me (I #followback !)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fun For Writers (contests and events)

Glimmer Train various times throughout the year

Canada Writes (CBC)
The CBC Literary Prizes recognize the best in original, unpublished writing by Canadians
Short story prize
Deadline:  November 1, 2012

Creative nonfiction prize
This competition is not yet open
Deadline:  February 1, 2012

Poetry prize
This competition is not yet open
Deadline:  May 1, 2013

Writers' Digest 
Deadline:  November 15, 2012

Mother Tongue Publishing
Second Search for the Great BC Novel Contest
Open to all writers living in British Columbia
Deadline:  November 1, 2012

Word on the Street
The Word on The Street is a national celebration of literacy and the written word
Vancouver:  Friday, September 28 to Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lexington Convention Center
Lexington, Kentucky
September 28, 29, 30, 2012
(There is a ScareFest in Canada. We're too late this year. When I searched 'ScareFest Canada 2013' this is what I found. Link)

Victoria Writers Festival 
October 12 to 13

Work in progress
Word count: 55,589 words
I know that looks impressive...until you learn my secret.
The Sweater Curse:  novel
consists of...

The Sweater Curse ebook (22,627) available here
The Sweater Curse ebook is Gwen Bjarnson's story

Aspiring knitwear designer Gwen Bjarnson is stuck in Purgatory. To escape, she must re-examine her life, journey through her past and right a wrong. But which wrong?

Young and in love, she works to establish her career, except fate has different plans. One rash act and she loses everything. Never resting, always seeking, and yearning for what she can no longer have, Gwen faces the truth:  if she remains, others are destined to die.

How will she solve the mystery before it is too late?

and Aster Walburn's story (32,962 and growing)
Next post:  Please welcome Author Christine Locke

Monday, September 24, 2012

free knitting pattern: September's Promise vest by Leanne Dyck

Now that I'm devoting my life to writing, I look back with pride at my knitting designs--one of favourite patterns is this vest.

September's Promise Vest
I designed this vest to be worn by men--but women like it too. And it's so easy to knit

Finished sweater measurements:
Chest: 38 [42/46/50/54/58] inches
Length:  25.5 [26.5/27/27.5/28/28.5] inches

Knitting needles:  6 mm/US 10 OR size to OBTAIN TENSION
Yarn:  worsted weight  
(approximately) 630 (840/1,050/1,260/1,470/1,680) yards
I used Meadowmist Farm Ragg wool

Stitch holder:  one

Tension:  4 stitches = one inch worked over Stockinette stitch.

4 x 4 rib stitch (over an even number of stitches):
Row 1:  *knit 4, purl 4 – continue from * to end of row.
Repeat row for pattern.

4 x 4 rib stitch (over an odd number of stitches):
Row 1:  *knit 4, purl 4 – continue from * to end of row.
Row 2:  *purl 4, knit 4 – continue from * to end of row.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern.

Stockinette stitch:
Row 1:  knit – to end of row.
Row 2:  purl – to end of row.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern.

garter stitch:
Row 1:  knit – to end of row.
Repeat row for pattern.

Cast on 76 [84/92/100/108/116] stitches
Work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 2 inches
Work in Stockinette stitch for 17 [17.5/18/18/18/18.5] inches

Armhole shaping:
At the beginning of the next two rows, cast off 8 stitches
Remaining stitches:  60 [68/76/84/92/100]
Work in Stockinette stitch for 8.5 [9/9/9.5/10/10] inches

Shoulder shaping:
At the beginning of the next two rows, cast off 8 [12/16/20/24/28] stitches.  Place (44 stitches) neck stitches on stitch holder.
Transfer (44 stitches) neck stitches to knitting needles.  
Work in garter stitch for 4 inches.
Cast off loosely in pattern.

Cast on 76 [84/92/100/108/116] stitches
Work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 2 inches
Work 28 [32/36/30/34/38] stitches in Stockinette stitch, 20 [20/20/40/40/40] stitches in garter stitch, 28 [32/36/30/ 34/38] stitches in Stockinette stitch for 17 [17.5/18/18/18/18.5] inches

Armhole shaping:
At the beginning of the next two rows, cast off 8 stitches
Remaining stitches:  60 [68/76/84/92/100]

Neck shaping worked from two balls of yarn:
1st ball:  Work 28 [32/36/30/34/38] stitches in Stockinette stitch, 10 [10/10/20/20/20] stitches in garter stitch
2nd ball: Work 10 [10/10/20/20/20] stitches in garter stitch, 28 [32/36/30/34/38] stitches in Stockinette stitch
work for 6 inches.

Shoulder shaping:
At the beginning of the next two rows, cast off  8 [12/16/20/24/28] stitches.  Place (44 stitches) neck stitches on stitch holder.
Transfer (44 stitches) neck stitches to knitting needles.  Work in garter stitch for 4 inches.
Cast off loosely in pattern.

Armhole trim (make 2):
With right side facing, pick up 8 stitches from the underarm. Work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 1 inch
Cast on 60 [64/64/68/72/72] stitches. Work in 4 x 4 rib stitch for 1 inch
Cast off

Sew neck seams. Sew on armhole trim. Sew side seams. Weave in ends.
While designing this garment, I consulted the Standards &Guidelines for Crochet and Knitting 
Every attempt has been made to ensure that the instructions are clear and correct.  Please notify me of any errors so I may correct them immediately.            © 10/05
Next post:  Fun for a writer (contests, etc.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Guest Post Vampire Professor

Bertena Varney

How/why did you start to write?

I never liked writing or considered myself a writer but I do love research. So during one of my last graduate degree programs I ran out of classes so I got to create a few independent study classes and they were vampire-based- mythology, sociology, etc. Of course, I had to write papers as a requirement for the class and one day my professor and a few of my friends read them and they mentioned that I should compile them into a reference book so I did.

How did you become an author?

Well, I lost my director position at a local college three weeks after I lost my part-time professors position at a local university so there was nothing left for me to do but write and write and write.

What was your first published piece?

Lure of the Vampire: A Pop Culture Reference Book

Where was it published?

Self-published- didn’t trust anyone really until I found my new publisher at Hydra Publishing and am working now on the 2nd edition

How long ago?

June 2011

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

 I started writing for and from there just putting together research and more. It really helped strengthen my writing because as I said above I consider myself a researcher and lecturer first then a writer.

What inspires you?

 I don’t know I just wake up and get excited and can write for days and then I can’t write again for days. I think it’s when I go to the horror conventions and I am there signing my books and someone famous comes up and looks at my book and gets it. The last one was Collin Ferguson from Eureka. We spoke about his history teacher being Dacre Stoker and he loved vampires. I love teaching too. I teach sociology and love teaching about literature, mythology, and of course culture. 

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

I am a former middle school and high school teacher. Currently, as a college instructor, many local libraries hire me to do talks for their kid, teen, and adult reading programs.

I market myself as the Vampire Professor to many horror conventions. They bring me in as a guest star and I do lectures and signings.

My boyfriend also makes vampire-slaying kits and stakes. We sell these at conventions, consignment, and paranormal stores. He even does interesting demonstrations.

Writing for as the Vampire Examiner and True Blood Examiner really helps. I own a promotions business that I created, first for self-promotion, but have met all kinds of really cool people.

And I have great friends who help me out!

I will be at the ScareFest in Lexington from Sept 28-30 for the largest horror and paranormal convention in the area.

Parting words

Well, I find that writing is an outlet for me. I am not a creative person but I find that I know a lot of “useless” information--I include this in my book.

I’m the type of person that can’t sit down and write and read for a long time. So my books are full of short, factual paragraphs.

Here is my book trailer -

Bertena Varney- Writer, Professor, and Lecturer
Buy my book Lure of the Vampire here -
Buy Lillian: A Vampire's Story here -


Book blurb

Do you ever wonder where vampires come from? Why women love those hot sexy vampires on television or in books? Why vampires are no longer scary to kids? These and other questions are answered within. Lure of the Vampire is a pop culture reference book that begins with the history and mythology of vampires and ends with interviews of modern living vampires. The author has provided "fun" lists like the Powers of Dracula, Real Live Vampire Murders, Television Shows and African Americans who have played vampires. There are also websites in each section that show the most popular vampire books and even children's shows and books. But, there is a personal twist when it comes to Lure of the Vampire. The author has provided personal essays from national and international vampire authors as well as her own. They range from a personal look at vampires in mythology to the romantic lust filled vampire. There are also interviews with various groups and individuals involved in the vampire community. Lure of the Vampire: A Pop Culture Reference Book of Lists, Websites, and "Very Telling" Personal Essays is a perfect quick to grab reference book for the vampire fan or author. It is concise enough to assist you in finding links to what you are looking for without being too cumbersome and confusing.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Social-networking Q and A by Leanne Dyck

...or how to share your creations with the world...

Question:  There are so many ways to be connected over the Web. It boggles the mind. Do I have to use them all?
Answers:  No, pick a few that work for you and that you like to use.
I blog and promote my posts through Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook.

Question:  How do I know it's working?
Answer:  Statics. For example, since October 10, 2010, this blog has received over 680,000 page views. For me, my combination of blogging and Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook.

Question:  Are there other ways to determine if social networking is working?
Answer:  Yes, absolutely, but page views is what I'm focusing on right now.

Question:  How does this blogging work? I set up my blog a few months before my book is published. Blog 'buy-my-book, buy-my-book' like crazy. Then a few months later stop.
Answer:  Hmm, no. I blog on a regular basis over an extended period of time. Offer quality posts. Build a community with your readers and with your fellow authors.

Question:  But I hate to blog because it takes so much time away from my writing.
Answer:  I use blogging as a means of sharpening my writing skills.

Question:  How has your blogging changed over the seven years?
Answer:  I created my first blog--Designer's Note--in 2005 as a way to attract surfers to my knitwear design website. I continued to blog as a way of being accountable for writing daily. Now I blog to promote my creations and to celebrate your creativity.
To summarize, in the beginning, I thought it was all about me. Now I know it's about building a community.

Question:  What do you do if you run out of things to blog about?
Answer:  -post a photo
-post your old writing (i.e. short stories, essays, articles, etc.)
-gain inspiration from other blogs

Question:  So you did everything right?
Answer:  Nope. I wish. And I do wish I'd...

For more information about social networking, follow this link 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Volunteering at the Mayne Island #Library

I’ve been volunteering at the Mayne Island library for about ten years. I work at the front desk—where I sign books in and out; re-shelve books; help patrons find books; and etcetera—for two-hours once a month. It’s not a taxing position—as long as you remember all the little things you’re supposed to do.

This summer I took a break from the library to focus on writing my manuscript. Last week I returned to the library. I was apprehensive. Would I remember everything?

Walking in, I was overwhelmed by the number of books waiting to be processed.
What comes first? How do I do that again? Am I sure that’s how I’m supposed to do that? Doubts riddled my mind.

Thankfully I remembered the existence and location of a carefully compiled procedure manual. Glancing through it helped refresh my memory.

All these books… How can I sign them all in? How can I sign them all out? How can I shelve them all? I…I…

Thankfully, three fellow volunteers popped in to check on me. Finding me in need, they dove right in and made my shift run smoothly. You know who you are. And this is me saying Thank you.

So if you ever wanted to volunteer at the Mayne Island library go for it. It’s a friendly, supportive and fun place to work.
Oh, yes and...
ArtCraft seasonal gallery on Salt Spring Island has closed for another year. And I'm on the ferry sailing over to collect my cheque and my knitting. Hopefully the first is large--the latter small.
Next post:  Social Networking Q and A

Friday, September 14, 2012

Guest Post: About Robin Spano's radio interview

On Canada Day, CBC interviewer ‘Kevin Sylvester (spoke) with…four of Canada’s most exciting new mystery writers…
Robin Spano…author of two novels featuring Clare Vengel, the latest being Death Plays Poker…
Hilary Davidson…author of 18 books and two mystery novels involving the travel writer, Lily Moore, the latest is The Next One to Fall
Deryn Collier ‘author of the just-published mystery novel Confined Space.’
Ian Hamilton ‘author of a very successful series of mystery novels featuring forensic accountant Ava Lee. There are three in print; the latest is The Wild Beasts of Wuhan. The fourth is due out this fall.’ (From The Sunday Edition web site)

Robin, I have a few follow-up questions inspired by the interview.

-You spoke about being interested in writing mysteries because you saw it as a way to combine art and science. Please explain further.

RS – Like a science, mystery writing has laws that govern its logic: you need clues & red herrings in the right balance, careful pacing to keep the action moving forward, and the final reveal should be both a surprise oh my god moment and a natural ah, of course conclusion based on the seeds you have planted.

But writing is also a creative process. You have to let go of logic and allow characters to run around freely while they sort out who they are and how they react to each other. You have to open yourself emotionally, let your characters be as dark and twisted – or as sweet and tender – as they like.

I find the formula comforting, because science has always come more naturally to me than anything emotionally open or artistic. But with each book I write, I feel myself letting go of the reins a bit more, blending more creativity in with my science – and as result, with each novel I feel a lot closer to finding characters who breathe like humans.

-You spoke about your feelings toward your central character as being similar to the feelings a mother has for her child. You said that you were interested in watching Clare Vengel grow up. By these comments it appears that character development is very important to you. For you as the author, is it as important, less important, or more important than solving the actual crime itself.

RS – You're dead right: the most exciting part for me is watching Clare grow. The crime is the backdrop – it's Clare's challenge, her motivating force to acquire new skills and shed her emotional barriers in order to solve the case. But it's Clare's growth arc that is front and center for me.

-How do you map the character development that will occur during the novel?

RS – I don't map it as much as I like to throw Clare curve balls. In Death Plays Poker, I sent her undercover as a spoiled trust fund princess because I thought she had too much of a reverse snobbery chip on her shoulder as well as an unfounded loathing of feminine fashion. When the case ends, she hasn't adopted all of her high-maintenance character's ways, but she contemplates refreshing her manicure and figures it's okay to keep a bit of pink in her wardrobe.

It's important to me that Clare matures as a cop in each book. She's young and makes a lot of mistakes at first – some of which repeat themselves, but most of which she learns from.

And there's her love life. At the beginning of the series, Clare doesn't trust men, so she sleeps with a lot of them, telling herself that that's how she maintains control. She wants to fall in love, but her impulse is to push someone away when they get close to her. A couple of men – Kevin and Noah, particularly – manage to break through Clare's cold front, forcing her to ask herself what she wants and why she might be resisting. I had a lot of fun with the romance angle in Death Plays Poker.

-Please share tips on character development.

RS – Know your character's flaws. Pretend they're your friend or family member and you want to help them get past those flaws to live a happier life. It's pretty rare that the solution is to tell them directly how to fix their problems. In fact, it's usually life that has to throw them a curve, and someone grows based on their reaction to the challenge. So my answer is to throw your character that curve. Watch them react. Help guide them in their reaction toward learning to be stronger.

-I have to ask. You said you were angry when you began to write your first novel. What were you angry about? Was the situation eventually resolved? Was writing the novel an effective form of therapy?

RS – My husband owned a pool hall and I was helping him run it. It was a fun club – we're still friends with lots of our customers and staff from there – but by-laws came in and taxes went up and it got harder and harder each year to make a living. Other business owners in Toronto felt the pain just as severely – several closed, and others moved to the suburbs where taxes were lower. I blamed the politicians for the conditions (and I still do, to a certain extent) but I think my real frustration was that I felt like Sisyphus – working my ass off night and day and going nowhere real. My husband was less frustrated because he loved the work itself – he loves people, he loves business, he loves challenges. So while he would have liked the bar to be making more money, he was happy to have a job where he enjoyed going to work each day.

Which is exactly what happened for me when I started writing. I loved opening my file called “Dead Politicians” and getting to work. As soon as the fictional mayor was dead on my fictional page, I felt like I was connecting to my own goals. Toronto's political climate hadn't changed, but my rage finally had an outlet – and that outlet was the springboard to the career I now love. So I wrote a very lighthearted first novel, probably because I was ebullient with joy that I'd found a way to stop pushing that damn rock up the hill.

-Do you often use your writing as therapy?

RS – Yeah, I've never had a good therapist so I had to turn to fiction. Ha, but seriously, yes: fiction does help me resolve issues.

- Does your life often inspire your writing?

RS - Yes, but in surprising ways. Most recently, it's my little nephew in Toronto who I can't get out of my head. (And I like him in my head, so this works.) I find him crawling into my fiction all over the place.

-You said that a sense of justice was an important element in a mystery. Please expand on this concept.

RS – It's one of the formula factors – you need to tie the loose ends, answer all the questions that you raise. It's like a contract with your readers: they're entering the story knowing that you – through your protagonist – will make things right in the end. The murder will be avenged and the bad guy will go down.

-Would you ever consider writing a literary novel or in writing in any other genre other than mystery? Why or why not?

RS – Right now I'm happy writing crime fiction because I love the challenge of plotting as much as I love character development. I'm playing with a techno-thriller now – similar to a mystery in many ways, but with more action and suspense.

But if an idea came to me that didn't want to hang on a crime plot, I'd run with that, too. I love reading literary novels – especially writers like Jessica Westhead and Angie Abdou, who make literary reading as fun as any genre book – so I don't see why I wouldn't one day try to write one.

-You mentioned that you were about to read the novel The Professionals. Please give us a short review.

RS – Owen Laukkanen's writing is extremely skilled – he has a creative writing degree from UBC, and it shows – and the novel's concept is fun and original. Owen takes ordinary smart, college-educated people and shows how they could become hardcore criminals almost without realizing it's happening. And he does it in a page-turning way. Highly recommend.

-What was the best and least enjoyable part of being interviewed on CBC radio?

RS –    The best: being with three good friends & a fun host and chatting books.
            The worst: listening afterwards and thinking, man, I could have said that better.

-How did you find Kevin Sylvester as an interviewer?

RS – Fantastic. He was warm, smart & funny, and he made us feel relaxed. He asked questions that made me think.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What's Bluegrass? (short story) by Leanne Dyck

A short story about my adventures with music.

My peers schooled me about music. "Country is for nerds. Rock is cool."

Holding a hairbrush like a microphone, I sang along to The Beatles,  The Rolling Stones, The Guess Who and Crosby, Still, Nash and Young--but mostly Young. I thought Neil Young was so dreamy.

While in University, I attended the Winnipeg Folk Festival . Under a sun-filled endless blue sky and through misty rain, the diverse audience became a community united by music. 

"I'm a folkie," I told my boyfriend, Byron. 

He had an extensive music collection--records, tapes, CDs. Amongst the rock musicians, I saw names I didn't recognize. 

"Who's Peter Rowan?" I asked and he put the CD into his sound system. I was captivated by what I identified as a folk musician. 

“Would you like to cross the border to Tacoma, Washington for Wintergrass and listen to Bluegrass?”

Wintergrass? Bluegrass?

I guess he noticed my puzzled expression. “You know. Musicians like Peter Rowan.”

That was enough for me, I packed my suitcase.

At the festival, scattered throughout the hotel lobby, groups of people sang and played instruments. Fiddles. Guitars. But there were also huge fiddles that stood on the floor and another instrument that looked like a cross between a guitar and a ukulele.

“Where are the drums?” I wondered out loud.

“There are no drums in Bluegrass,” Byron said. 

“Do you know who that is?” I followed his line of sight to a man playing guitar. Just some guy.  “That's Peter Rowan.”

“ Here? Now?” I sputtered like a star-struck teenager. He wasn’t being clawed to death by eager fans. No one hounded him for an autograph. “How can he just be standing there, playing his guitar? Don’t they know who is he?”

“Of course, they do. But that’s the thing about Bluegrass—anyone can play with anyone. The stars don’t act like stars. They're just people."

We found our room and Byron said, “You’re going to love this weekend. The opening act is Bill Munroe, the father of Bluegrass.”

We took the elevator down to the concert hall and I was lost in thought. The father of Bluegrass? This music is ancient; he must be older than dirt. 

We found our seats and the master of ceremonies introduced the first act, "Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys."

On mass, the audience gave the band claiming the stage a standing ovation--just for showing up.

Bill Monroe looked so old, so fragile--like he should have been in a wheelchair. I hoped nothing happened to him on stage.

To his credit, Bill made it safely through the first couple of songs. But then he appeared to keel over--bending forward at the waist. All of us, the entire audience, offered a collective moan.

A younger band member voiced our concern, "Is Bill okay?"

The answer came from his older bandmate. "Bill? Sure, he's just getting down."

Bill's hand flew across the strings. And he proved right then, right there why this was his music.

Bluegrass' high, lonesome sound stole my heart. It's the voice of the common man--the people I grew up around, where I'm from. And if that makes me a hick, I'll wear the title proudly.

Related articles...

Jessica Blankenship

Friday, September 7, 2012

Guest Post: Author Jake Raymond Needham

Reviewers say...

"Jake Needham is Michael Connelly with steamed rice.” -- The Bangkok Post

“Jake Needham is Asia’s most stylish and atmospheric writer of crime fiction.” – The Singapore Straits Times

"Jake Needham…has a knack for bringing intricate plots to life. His stories blur the line between fact and fiction and have a ripped-from-the-headlines feel. Buckle up and enjoy the ride." -- CNNgo 

"Mr. Needham seems to know rather more than one ought about these things.” -- The Wall Street Journal  Asia

How/why did you start to write?

It was completely accidental. Honestly. For my sins, I had ended up running a broken down little Hollywood production company that was making movies for cable TV. I put together an outline to be distributed to the writers we were working with that illustrated what I thought was the approach we ought to be using in developing scripts. It was based around an idea for a movie that I tossed off for the outline, not as a serious attempt to develop a story. Regardless, somebody at the company didn't understand it that way and pitched it to HBO as if it was a serious project. A couple of months later HBO called me and offered to fund the development of my screenplay. I said, 'What screenplay?' And they told me. At first I thought it was some kind of a joke, but then I discovered it wasn't. And that was how I became a writer...

How did you become an author?

I wrote THE BIG MANGO, which was my first novel, over six months in 1995 when I started getting sick of doing screenplays. I really had no clue what to do with it, so I packed the manuscript off to a man who was then in the very top tier of American literary agents and whose name I had simply plucked out of a directory of agents. Not only did he like it and take me on as a client, but he worked hard for three or four years to place that book with an American publisher. Too mid-list, everyone said, not the stuff of a blockbuster. I think they were right about that, but if that's the fundamental criteria for deciding what books ought to be published, I think we're all ultimately screwed. Still, Perry kept trying to find a home for THE BIG MANGO until the day he retired. When he did, I took the manuscript and gave it to a small Asian publisher who published a lot of English-language books and who was keen to see it out there.. THE BIG MANGO has since sold well over 100,000 copies in its print editions, another 15,000 or so in a new e-book edition, and been optioned by film producers over and over.

What was your first published piece? 

I'd been involved in the production of quite a few screenplays that passed through my hands, but THE BIG MANGO was my first published book.

Where was it published?

It was published by Asia Books in Bangkok.

How long ago?


What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

Although after I graduated from college I spent several years as a writer and producer for NBC News, I decided pretty quickly that wasn't for me and bundled myself off to law school. I was a lawyer and investment banker for a decade or so before I fell into writing screenplays, working mostly with Asian corporations, and I draw on the weirdness and adventure of those times for nearly everything I write. When you work the borderlines of the Pacific Rim, you deal with all sorts of characters -- ambassadors and criminals and hustlers and spies -- and those are the characters who end up in the kinds of crime novels I write now.

What inspires you?

The word 'inspiration' makes my skin crawl. Writing isn't inspiration. It's discipline. John Gregory Dunne called writing 'manual labor of the mind' and compared it to digging ditches and laying pipe. Inspiration, or the lack of it, makes no damn difference. What does make a difference is finding within you the discipline to do the work, day after day. You just keep digging and laying that pipe no matter how much your body aches, one foot after another.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

I'm not sure I have any. I try to write good books. I stay in touch with readers who want to stay in touch with me -- mostly through Twitter and email, since I find Facebook more annoying than anything else -- and those readers help to spread word-of-mouth recommendations for me to new readers. Other than that, I have no clue how to market a novel, and generally I don't think publishers do either.

Parting words

I think we're in a golden age for both readers and writers. For the first time, books are broadly accessible to everyone all the time regardless of where they are. Publishers, distributors, and retailers have lost the power to dictate the relationship between readers and writers. And we're all better off for it.
Author links...

Jake Needham official web site -

Monday, September 3, 2012

Knitting: free patterns and tutorials

Knitting like writing has ushered me through my life. In fact, I began my knitwear designer career on August 22, 2002. I still knit but I closed my design business in January, 2011--when The Sweater Curse was released. I've transformed from a knitwear designer who writes to an author who knits. I celebrate my journey through yarn by...
-sharing some of the hand knitting patterns I've designed
-sharing knitting techniques
-hosting knitwear designers