Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thomas Drinkard Interviews IAN Member Julian Gallo

This interview was previously published at Thomas Drinkard's blog

I’m pleased, today, to introduce you to Julian Gallo. He’s not only a poet and writer, he’s also a musician. I’ll let him tell you the story.

T. Hello, please give us a bit of biography to start.

J. I was born and raised in New York City. To date I published 9 books of poetry and two novels. I also contribute articles and essays to a site called I’m also a musician, currently playing bass for New York City singer/songwriter Linda La Porte.

T. When did you start writing?

J. I’ve been writing since I was a little kid but I mainly did it for myself. I was more involved in music over the years. I came to writing pretty late in the game, really. It wasn’t until that I was 30 years old that I began to write seriously and it was primarily poetry. My first chapbook of poems, Standing on Lorimer Street Awaiting Crucifixion came out in 1996 through a great small press called Alpha Beat Press. That was really the encouragement I needed. Since then my poems were published in over 40 small press magazines & journals throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. I’ve since gotten away from poetry and started writing fiction. I think it’s because most of my favorite writers were novelists and that was something I always wanted to do. My first novel, November Rust, took a long time to write because I was sort of going into it blind and add to that it was a little more on the experimental side, which of course has its own problems when seeking publication. I never really sought publication for it because I really wanted it to be what it was, without any changes that a publisher might want to give it. So I released it myself in 2007. I came out of the whole DIY thing in the 80s in the music scene and that sort of mindset had a very big influence on me. So I decided to take the same approach with regard to my writing. It’s a way to maintain complete control over the work and allow you the freedom you may not have when dealing with a publisher. But for all the positives going that route, there are negatives too. The main one being getting the word out about it, not to mention that there’s still a stigma attached to authors who self-publish. It’s not an easy road to take, really.

T. Was there a favorite writing teacher or mentor? Tell us about him/her.

J. I never had any real writing teachers or mentors and have pretty much struck out on my own. However, there are a couple of writers and small press publishers who were very kind in offering feedback, encouragement, criticisms, etc over the years. The first being Dave Christy from Alpha Beat Press, who was one of the greats in the small press world. He offered some really excellent advice, especially when I got into publishing my own literary zine for a while. The other is a New York writer named Michael Haugh—a very talented writer—who I learned a hell of a lot from. He’s taught me to look at fiction in a way I never looked at it before and it’s been very educational, despite the fact that we are two completely different writers with very different approaches. He has a lot of knowledge concerning literature in general and it has helped me a great deal.

T. Please tell us about your current book; genre and blurb.

J. My current novel is called Nadería. It’s a departure from my first novel in the sense that it’s a more straightforward, linear narrative. I wanted to concentrate more on the story and less on the “experimental” aspects, meaning, I wanted to strip it down, to make it very simple. I wanted to get away from the experimental devices and just write a simple, straightforward story but at the same time to try to make it interesting. After writing November Rust, I spent a couple of years struggling with what to do next. It took a while but I realized that I was just getting in my own way and the trick was to get out of my way and just let the imagination go and go for the story. It’s about many different things but it mainly concentrates on the idea of “meaning”; how people tend to flounder around searching for this one all encompassing “meaning of life” when there may not actually be one that is the same for everyone; that a lot of things we do in order to find it are trivial and unimportant; that we lose sight of what’s really important to us individually because we’re too busy looking “out there” for the answers to things.

T. Do you have a sequel or prequel in mind or in progress?

J. No, not at all. Originally Nadería was conceived as a sequel to November Rust, which is why this novel is also set in Paris. But at some point I came to the decision that I wanted to just open the windows a bit and write different kinds of stories. I really didn’t see the point in revisiting those characters or trying to see what happened next to them. I recall Julio Cortázar saying once that the novel is just a part of the lives of the characters that are in it. They have a life before the story being told and a life afterwards. The novel is merely a particular slice of their lives. I like that idea so I don’t think I’ll be doing any sequels or prequels but you never know. What I have coming up is very different from both of these books and what I am currently working on is very different from that.

T. What are your writing habits? Are you an outliner or do you write “by the seat of your pants?

J. I definitely don’t outline. I think outlining a novel is restricting. I think it’s better to let the story bring you rather than the other way around. I think outlines are great if you have a very definitive story you want to tell, where you know exactly where it’s going to go from beginning to end. I never did it that way. I usually start of with an idea of some kind or a situation and then just begin and see where it goes. I sometimes plot out some scenes, what I want to happen next, but it’s a very rough idea. Sometimes, once you begin writing it, it may take you to a place that you initially didn’t think of. That happened a lot with Nadería. How it was originally conceived and where the story eventually wound up going was far removed from what I initially intended. However the themes are still there. That I try to keep intact.

T. What are your ideas about the future of digital publishing?

J. I think it’s great. I think there’s no shame in self-publishing. As I said, I came out of the whole DIY thing in the 1980s, where musicians released their own records, started their own labels, tried to forge their own niche in the glut of material that is out there. For some reason, there is still a stigma attached to novelists. Poets seem to get away with it but for novelists, self-publishing always had this stigma attached to it. My reasoning is that musicians self-release their own music, filmmakers self-finance, produce and release their own films and no one bats an eye over it. But I think that’s beginning to change now and digital publishing is one way that’s going to change things, especially for those who chose to go independent. If you’re asking about whether or not I think digital publishing will replace hard copy books, I don’t think so. I think there will always be physical books but it’s yet another option for a writer to consider. With the rise of Print on Demand publishing, the idea of putting out your own work has become much easier than it was in the past, where you’d have boxes and boxes of books to try to move. With this technology, it’s now available as a print edition as well as a digital one. For me, personally, I don’t care which one someone wants to buy. Either one is fine by me. I think the publishing field is beginning to reach the point where music and film reached nearly 20 years ago. It’s all good.

T. Anything else to share?

J. I’m a big believer in following your own muse. Write what you enjoy writing and don’t worry about what’s popular or “cool”. We all have a story to tell in our own unique way. Read a lot. That’s important too. There’s never too much to learn. Keep your mind open and definitely do not fall in with cliques. Do your own thing, whatever that may be, and just be true to yourself.

T. Thank you.

Julian Gallo at IAN!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Spotlight for February 26, 2011

The Saturday Spotlight is on

Franki deMerle

Author of Dragonfly Dreams, Ripples on the Surface, and Deception Past

Franki deMerle Author of Dragonfly Dreams, Ripples on the Surface, and Deception Past

Franki deMerle was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Huntsville, Alabama. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her name is on the Wall of Tolerance at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. She is a founding member of the Build the Dream Foundation, building a memorial to Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr in Washington, DC. She is a former professional musician and a retired civilian employee of the United States Army. Her hobbies include yoga, gardening, knitting, and, of course, music. As well as poetry and novels, she has also written music and songs.

Dragonfly Dreams by Franki deMerle is the story of two sisters and the man one of them falls in love with. Daphne ignores the dream she has on her wedding night and finds herself trapped in an abusive marriage. She dreams that there is a man somewhere who will truly love her and treat her with respect, but she doesn’t know how to find him. Thanks to the sacrifice made by a stray cat, she finally finds the courage to escape her abusive husband.

Deandra, her sister and an army officer, sends a friend to rescue Daphne. He is a retired officer, and he turns out to be the man of Daphne’s dreams. When she meets him, the Major is preoccupied with his recent retirement. He and Daphne fall in love, and then she and Deandra discover their hidden pasts. Together, while living in the Pacific Northwest, they explore their past lives and what the past means for them in the present. This is a romance novel about dreams that connect us, dreams that come true, and dreams that reveal the past. “There are places we can only reach in our dreams while our bodies sleep.”

Visit Franki deMerle at IAN

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thomas Drinkard Interviews IAN Member Ronald S. Barak

This interview was previously published at Thomas Drinkard's blog

I’m pleased to introduce you, today, to Ronald S. Barak a member of the Independent Author Network (IAN). His page on the network is I’ll let him tell you more about himself and his new book.

T: Hello Ronald, please give us a bit of biography to start.

R: I graduated from the University of Southern California Law School with honors and have practiced commercial law, mediation and arbitration for some 40 plus years. I reside in Pacific Palisades, California with my wife, Barbie, our cat, Maccabee, our dog, Ryder, and my golf clubs, where I’m hard at work on my law practice, my next novel and my golf game, although not necessarily in that order. For anyone who would like to know more, please visit

T: When did you start writing?

R: Hmm, it must have been around the first or second grade. Actually, I was a little slow; it could have been the third grade. Oh, Tom, did you mean when did I start writing…books? Ignoring several professional treatises that I penned in the 1980s and 1990s, I started on my first novel, a season for redemption, at the beginning of 2009. This was not planned. I was dared by a “friend” in front of several other friends to show what I could do. I couldn’t back down, although, truth be told, there was probably an underlying itch to do it. I “finished” a first draft in October, 2009, which I thoroughly enjoyed doing, shared it with those friends in on the dare, and more, for holiday gifts at the end of 2009. I really thought I was done. However, I received a lot of very positive feedback (albeit it some of it fairly critical too), I did one rewrite and the book was published/released in August, 2010.

T: Was there a favorite writing teacher or mentor?

R: I was a physics major and an athlete in college. I didn’t write, unless you called the formulas I had to learn writing. I then went to law school and practiced law. I did lots of writing as a lawyer, but that was “just” that kind of “legalese” stuff. However, it was hard to stray very far from that kind of language. It was not uncommon for someone meeting me for the first time to say, after exchanging a few words, “Oh, you sound like a lawyer.” When I accepted the dare to write a novel, I just started writing. No teachers. No mentors. Just a one page outline of where I was starting and where I thought I was going to finish. When I finished my first draft of a season for redemption, a couple of golfing buddies who happen to be very successful professional writers, Michael Brandt and James Hirsch, were kind enough to read my first draft and to offer me some very helpful suggestions that I incorporated into my published rewrite. In terms of writing experience, I was so “green” that when Michael graciously sat down with me for several hours to go through a notepad he had filled (and I mean filled) while reading my first draft, I turned “green” when he referred to my nine months of writing as a “vomit” draft—until he explained that’s just what the writing profession calls a first draft, and not what he thought of the draft. Since then, I have had the privilege of meeting and becoming acquainted with Joseph Finder, whose books I have been reading for years. Joe has been very generous with his time in mentoring me a bit on the business side of the writing profession.

T: Please tell us about your current book, A Season for Redemption.

R: A Season for Redemption takes place in current Washington, D.C. A serial killer on the loose is murdering prominent politicians for abandoning their public trust and bringing the country to its economic knees. Someone is arrested and tried for the murders in a courtroom drama that takes the country by storm. Was the accused guilty? The trial plays out; the jury deliberates the guilt and innocence of the accused—and our political system. Across the country, “we the people” and the media do the same. As matters turn out…we’ll, you’ll have to read the book, or at least the ending, to get the finish of that sentence:) Oh yeah, the killer left a homemade DVD video at the scene of one of his—or her—murders as a clue to what was behind the murders. Someone leaked the video to YouTube. You can see it for yourself, if you visit and click on the “killer video” link in the lower right of the home page.

T: Do you have a sequel in mind or in progress?

R: The answer is yes…and yes. In a season for redemption, there are brief appearances of “The National Organization for Political Integrity,” NoPoli for short (which also happens to stand for “no politicians”), a fictitious organization committed to rooting out “deserving” corrupt politicians. Blurring the lines of fantasy and reality—and perhaps one kind of sequel, although probably not what you had in mind—your readers can now visit for a daily dose of real time, real world political misdeeds in need of attention. As for what you no doubt meant, yes I am writing as we “speak” a partial sequel to a season for redemption. I say “partial” because this pending new novel is both a sequel of a season for redemption and also a new headline grabbing political thriller storyline as well. I’d tell you and your readers what the title is except…I don’t yet have a title. :)

T: What are your ideas about the future of digital publishing?

A: To me, that’s pretty simple. The future of publishing is…digital publishing. Gone will be traditional print on paper books. Gone will be traditional print on paper book publishers. Gone will be traditional print on paper brick and mortar bookstores. Think I haven’t got it write…oh, I meant right? If you had your last hundred dollars to invest, would you invest it in the bookstore down there on the corner…or would you invest it in If you need more proof, take my wife, Barbie (not really, she’s a keeper): An avid reader (like two or three books a week), I could never get her to read digital. Try my Kindle? Pshaw! Barbie had to touch and feel and smell the pages. Finally, I got her to try one book on Kindle. She and Kindle—her Kindle—are now connected at the hip. She nurtures it. She cradles it in her arms. It’s almost as precious as our cat and dog. Not at all far behind. If I wasn’t happy to read on my iPad and my iPhone, I’d have to go out and buy another Kindle. So, I’m a writer, a mystery writer. (Has a much nicer sound than saying I’m a lawyer, doesn’t it?) The only mystery here is when, not if. Traditional print on paper is not yet dead, just terminal. Digital sales are dramatically increasing. Print sales are dramatically declining. In another couple of years, those lines will cross. The only mystery here is not “if,” but “when.”

T: Anything else you’d like to share, Ron?

R: For me, starting down the path of being a…writer…was a happenstance, not a plan. Having one novel under my belt, and the next on the way, I can only say that…I just love writing. What fun! The only thing better than writing is the thought that there are those out there who are…reading what I write. How exciting is that! What is not fun is having to market what you write. However, until you have landed—perhaps I should more accurately say branded—anyone thinking about being a writer, better think about having to market. And market. And market. Marketing is the underbelly of the writing profession. No fun, but no one out there is going to do it for us, not any more. But it’s worth it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Avid Reader Contest Coming March 1st!

In an effort to attract more readers to IAN we introduce "The Avid Reader Contest"

IAN the Avid Reader is hiding on one of the Independent Author Network member pages. As you browse the member pages keep a lookout for his logo. Copy the page URL and paste it in the contest entry form.

One lucky reader who enters will win free ebooks!

If you find IAN the Avid Reader copy/paste the page URL into the entry form and enter to win an Amazon gift card/ebooks.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Spotlight for February 19, 2011

Today's Saturday Spotlight is on IAN Member

Linda S. Prather

Linda S. Prather Author of The Gifts and Sacred Secrets

Born in Kentucky in 1955. I currently live in Lexington, Kentucky with my fiancé, Coby W. Fuson. I have two wonderful sons, Charles and Steven.

I have always loved reading and writing. And although perhaps not a great literary work, I loved and was inspired by Old Yeller. The characters in that book were real to me. When I started writing, it was my greatest desire to write characters that readers could love and hate, laugh and cry with.

Knowledge was another love. I wanted to learn about everything. I studied metaphysics; delving into touch healing, dream analysis, meditation, and hypnosis. I received my associate's degree in metaphysics in 1992 and continued from there to become a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. I spent several years studying the effects of hypnosis on cancer and pain. I taught meditation, dream analysis and self-hypnosis through Eastern Kentucky University's Special Programs for four years. The power of the mind has always fascinated me. I've recently become a paranormal investigator, and love old houses that go bump in the night.

Visit Linda at IAN

The Gifts-A Jacody Ives Mystery


No matter how much he drank, Gavin McAllister couldn't get the headline out of his head. Just words. He was a writer, made his living with words. The impact of the words directly correlated to the emotions of the reader. Words could be twisted, knives to open up wounds long hidden–maneuvered to evoke buried nightmares. Bare the soul, expose the wound, and you had a best seller. Make them laugh. Make them cry. Above all, make them feel something. He was an expert at manipulating words for emotion.

But he'd seen the body…

It wasn't a story this time. This time it was personal. The demon of his nightmares had no name, but now he knew where to look for him. Glade Springs had secrets. And no one uncovered secrets better than Jacody Ives.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Thomas Drinkard Interviews IAN Member Rae Spencer

This interview was previously published at Thomas Drinkard's blog

Today, I’m pleased to introduce Rae Spencer to the Pinnacle Writing readers. She has written her debut novel, which will soon be available. I’ll let her tell you about it.

T. What is the name of your book and what genre?

R. Beyond A Proposition, erotica

T. What is it about?

R. Beyond A Proposition is about a “friends with benefits” agreement between a rockstar and an older divorced woman that develops into something more and the complications that arise from such a relationship.

T. Where will it be available?

R. Amazon, Barnes&Noble

T. What inspired you to write this book?

R. I love rock music and have a fetish for musicians (it runs in the family), I took my fetish and combined it with a comment my sister loves to make to me about finding a “friend with benefits” and this story flowed.

T. How did you choose the title?

R. Carefully, lol! The title changed from the comment that inspired the story to reflect that there was more to the story and to give the story a more original title.

T. Who is your favorite character in your novel, and why?

R. Skye is my favorite character. She represents many women my age and their insecurities and self esteem issues. Yet she is independent, self-sustaining, and intriguing enough to snare the hero.

T. Who is the ideal reader for your book?

R. Anyone who likes erotica.

T. What publicity plans do you have?

R. Not sure yet, first time around, still learning the ropes.

T. Where can readers learn more about your book?

R. I have recently set up a Facebook fan page.

T. Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

R. Yes, I have another story completed; it has a “rockstar” theme also, but has a heavier plot dealing with stalking and abuse.

T. Tell us something about yourself. (Where are you from, what is your background, how long have you been writing and anything else we might find interesting about you).

R. I am from northeast Pennsylvania, a little town called Harveys Lake. I currently work as a paper-pusher, have two boys and a granddaughter. I love to write poetry, cross-stitch, and hula-hoop. I have been writing for about twenty-five years, in the last few years I began to submit and share my work. Interesting tidbits – I am considered by family to be far too nice for my own good.

T. What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Favorite book? Why?

R. I love to read romance novels. Stephanie Laurens, Johanna Lindsey, Debra Dier and Julie Garwood are my favorite authors. One of my favorite books is Devil’s Honor by Debra Dier. I love reading about the decadent British nobility and seeing a man who everyone thinks is beyond saving make a turnaround when he falls in love. I am a romantic at heart.

T. What is your guilty pleasure read you turn to for sheer entertainment value (book, particular author)?

R. I don’t really have a particular book, I consider all of my romances to be guilty pleasures and I can pick any one up and read just for the enjoyment and entertainment.

T. When did you start writing?

R. I started writing in high school, although it was decades before I began sharing my writing with anyone.

T. Was there a favorite writing teacher or mentor?

R. My writing mentor would have to be the cl on the ivillage poetry message boards, Patricia Gomes, without her support, encouragement, insight, and help over the last few years I would probably still be writing in the closet.

T. Name one fun/weird/frightening fact about you that we don’t already know.

R. A weird fact: I lost my romance collection twice to floods because they were stored in the basement, now I store them in the attic.

T. Where can readers learn more about you?

R. My Facebook Fan page.

T. What sorts of things inspire you as a writer?

R. It varies, sometimes people watching can inspire or comments made by others and even pictures, anything from a leaky pipe to a butterfly to a sarcastic comment.

T. How do you approach a story? Do you start with outlines or something else? Planner or pantster?

R. I don’t normally have an outline, the stories are just there in my head, and I write them out as I think them, then go back and edit into an acceptable story and fill in any missing plot details.

T. Where do you work when writing? What is your ideal creative environment?

R. I use a laptop for my writing, so pretty much anywhere I can plant my butt. Someday I want my own library with a fireplace and chaise lounge that I can sit on and write, big dreams, hee hee.

T. When do you write (morning, night)?

R. Whenever I want, I have no set time. I carry a notepad around with me in case something comes to me when I am not home.

T. Do you have any writing rituals?

R. Not really, I pretty much go with the flow.

T. How do you come up with the names for your characters?

R. Usually whatever strikes my fancy, although I like uncommon female names.

T. Is writing your main creative outlet, or do you have other talents/creative pursuits?

R. I like to cross-stitch and my baby blankets have been a hit with family and friends. I love the harp but found I possess ten thumbs when it comes to music but I continue to play just because I like the sound, although those that listen might disagree.

T. Do you ever get writers’ block? How do you tackle it?

R. Of course, lots of times. I usually walk away for a day then try free writing, even if nothing good comes out of the free writing it is still writing and helps get you back on track.

T. What’s the most personally challenging aspect of writing?

R. Plot – making it work and tying up the loose ends.

T. What is the best advice you can give other writers about writing?

R. Never give up and edit, edit, put away for a week or two then edit some more.

T. What genres do you write in? Why?

R. Erotica/romance, being a huge reader of romance and erotica I thought it would be fun to write my own and found that I enjoyed it immensely. I love bringing characters and fantasies to life.

T. Tell us your “story of getting published.”

R. When I wrote my erotica story it sat for months as I debated whether to submit it or not. I searched through the publishing world for a publisher of erotica and found Lazy Day on Twitter. I was intrigued with them and decided to take a chance, if I learned anything from submitting with poetry, the worse thing that can happen is you get a rejection, but if you never take the chance, you will never know. In January, Lazy Day offered me a contract, which was one of the most exciting moments in my life in a very long time.

T. What was your first reaction when Lazy Day Publishing offered you a contract?

R. Complete surprise, I dropped my laptop, snapping the lid closed and turning it off, which made me have to wait until it rebooted to reply.

T. What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

R. I still have a few months to go until my book comes out so I can’t answer these questions until I finish going through the publishing process.

T. Thanks for your time, Rae. I enjoyed our “visit.”

R. Thanks for the opportunity Thomas, I truly appreciate it and your time.

Rae Spencer at IAN

Thomas Drinkard at IAN