Archive for October, 2012
Posted on October 29, 2012. Filed under: Author Interviews | Tags: author interview, Barbara Watkins, Betty Dravis, Betty White, California State Assembly, Clint Eastwood, Democratic National Convention, eBook, ghost stories, horror, Indie Author, Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders, Jane Russell, Kindle, L.Leander's Reviews and Interviews, paranormal, publishing, Six-Pack of Blood, Tanya Tucker, Ted Kennedy |
On my journey to becoming an Indie Author I have met some amazing writers, some famous, and some not so famous. The one thing I can say about fellow authors is that most are very willing to help another writer succeed. As Indies most of us have to learn things that we don’t know, in order to publish and promote our work.
One of the nicest, most helpful (and most famous) authors I have met is this week’s Betty Dravis. I met Betty on a Facebook group and when she posted about needing reviews for Six-Pack of Blood I jumped at the chance. Read my review of Six-Pack of Blood here.
We communicated via Facebook and became friends. Betty Dravis is a hard person not to like. Funny, witty, and a true fan of Pay-It-Forward, it’s easy to see why she has reached the success she has. I do have to say one thing about her, though.
Don’t be fooled by the twinkle in Betty’s eyes or the smile on her face. Inside this unassuming woman lurks the imagination of a really creepy horror novelist. Makes me wonder about some of the other people I’ve met. She may smile and carry on a normal conversation with you, all the while thinking about how to gouge out your eyeballs and serve them up on a platter of lettuce leaves.
She’s the stuff great authors are made of. Thank you, Betty, for agreeing to do this interview and for being such a great friend. So, in the spirit of all things Halloween I promise you’ll be genuinely surprised at Betty’s interview answers – I was. Enjoy!
INTERVIEW WITH BETTY DRAVIS by L.Leander
L. Leander: What makes you stand out as a writer?
Betty Dravis: Linda, It’s hard to say why one person stands out above others. Many people say I have “star power” and am a “celebrity in my own right.” Although that and other astonishing compliments make me very happy, I always disagree, saying that it’s the people I interview who are the celebs—not me!
If I do stand out in any way, I think the many awards I have won make me noticeable. A few are: 1) Resolution of Commendation from California State Assembly and Senate; 2) Best Paranormal/Horror from Zodiac Entertainment (from director/producer Dimi Nakov for Six-Pack of Blood); 3) Top 20 Best Women’s Fiction 2011 (from Heart Press for 1106 Grand Boulevard); 4) placed 18th in Fourth Annual Shorty Awards; 5) San Jose Woman of Achievement, etc.
My writing stands out because I was a journalist and a celebrity interviewer for so many years and picked up lots of tricks of the trade. I had almost every job in the newspaper business, going from reporter to columnist to editor and then to publishing my own paper. In addition, I once hosted a Cable TV talk-show that went out to Gilroy, Hollister and San Martin (CA) area. With heavy editing skills and industry know-how I feel qualified to help my fellow authors and have built up a great reputation as a woman who pays it forward. I also help authors by writing book reviews when time allows; I’m an Amazon top reviewer and have written 766 reviews.
Disregarding awards and writing style, though, I truly think it’s my personality that does it because I love people and it shows in my interactions with them. I love to joke around and they reciprocate, making the promotional process much more fun. And while I’m serious about my writing, I’m irreverent about myself and tend to present myself in a humorous manner that seems to attract people.
L. Leander: What is your favorite type of reading material?
Betty Dravis: While I tend to read everything from children’s picture books to YA and sci-fi fantasies, my very favorite books are horrors, paranormal and thrillers in contemporary settings. For samples of my horror writing, check my Amazon link and find Six-Pack of Blood (co-author Barbara Watkins). Barbara is dubbed “The Queen of Terror” and after reading our book you’ll see why! Check us out and be patient: a second book is in the making. It’s titled Six-Pack of Fear and is the Work in Progress (WIP) that you invited me here to discuss. (More on that at end of this blog).
Fiction is my first love, Linda, but I also enjoy inspirational biographies and exposes of people I admire. For examples of my inspirational books, I suggest checking out my e-book Star Struck: Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons and Dream Reachers and Dream Reachers II celebrity interview books (co-author Chase Von).
L. Leander: If you could only pick one, who is your greatest influence?
Betty Dravis: This is the easiest question: CLINT EASTWOOD is my greatest influence because I had the good fortune of meeting him in a one-on-one interview session when I was a starry-eyed young journalist. His attitude, kindness and encouragement in making me feel at ease are unforgettable. As I watched him grow from a gorgeous young actor to a multi-accomplished, award-winning director and producer, I learned many things about myself and life in general. (This answer in no way belittles the impression my parents, siblings, children, friends and fans make on my life, also. Their offerings are invaluable in learning how to live my life in a most productive manner; Clint’s example helped to improve my God-given writing gift and take it to the maximum.)
L. Leander: Where do you get your ideas for writing?
Betty Dravis: Linda, I get so many ideas that I will never ever be able to write all the books I wish to write. My ideas come from everywhere, every place and everyone (past, present and future). I often tell people that I have a beautiful Dark Muse who rides a shocking pink Harley, wears black, silver-studded leathers. Her long blonde hair streams out behind her as she rides through my mind, tossing weird ideas hither and yon. (laughs) She’s the one who gives me my far out, twisted, scary stories. Needless to say, Six-Pack of Blood and the upcoming Six-Pack of Fear were inspired by ideas I grabbed from her.
And then there’s my White-Hat Muse, Billy Wayne, who rides a big white horse, wears a white hat and is a cross between the late greats Reverend Billy Graham and Actor John Wayne. These good guys, of course, give me ideas for my books like 1106 Grand Boulevard, Star Struck: Interviews With Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons, the inspiring Dream Reachers series and a slew of unpublished novels I’m working on.
To be more specific, I got the idea for Millennium Babe: The Prophecy when my son barely missed being the first baby on Mother’s Day in 1971. The first baby of the year in that hospital was awarded gifts and bonds and other goodies. Voila: my brain latched on to that idea and the first baby in my book was born. (I didn’t write the book until 2000 but the idea stuck…)
I got the idea for Toonies living inside a computer (for The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley) when I actually heard voices inside my computer. It turned out to be telephone voices due to mixed-up dial-up wiring. (laughs) One can get ideas everywhere: newspapers, other books, fragments of conversations, etc. A writer’s mind is fertile territory, especially if one has a great imagination.
Betty Dravis: I’m more of a pantser since my ideas form in my mind and reveal themselves to me like ongoing movies. Linda, I give the characters full reign to lead me where their individual personalities would go naturally. When I allow the characters to lead, I always get a more authentic story, with the writing leaping from my fingertips onto the computer screen like White Lightning, as the country singer George Jones would say.
L. Leander: Finish this sentence: One thing very few people know about me is…
Betty Dravis: Well, Linda, even though I’ve been interviewed myriads of times throughout my career, I think there are many things people still don’t know about me. But those are things I’d prefer to remain in the closet… (laughs) Seriously, I’m too open and outspoken for my own good, as my mother used to tell me. I tell everyone everything. For example, I let everyone know up-front that I’m eighty-three years young and often brag about it; mainly because I’m hoping to inspire them to let nothing stop them from following their dream, be it writing, acting, collecting garbage or whatever… I feel so blessed to still be able to type, keep my thoughts in chronological order and to imagine all kinds of wonderful dream worlds and characters for my readers to enjoy.
To satisfy your readers, though, here is one thing most people don’t know about me: Even though I was a model in my youth and had a curvaceous figure, as I aged I tended to gain weight easily. I am now at least twenty pounds overweight. Another thing that most people don’t know is that I enjoy being a little overweight because I’ve had too many slender friends get ill (in later years) and lose weight to the point of being skeletal. I figure with a little meat on my bones, I might avoid that happening to me. Does that make sense?
L. Leander: Finish this sentence: If I had a choice, every day would include…
Betty Dravis: In general, I think everyone needs a balance of the following to be happy: health, peace, prosperity and love of family and friends. On a personal level, following a productive writing session every day, I would enjoy a short swim in the pool followed by a brisk massage. Other things I would include: a half-hour of light rain (I love reading on the lounge on rainy days), humongous book sales and two extra hours to enjoy it all with family and friends.
L. Leander: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have Internet and a computer or a supply of paper and pens, which would you choose?
Betty Dravis: As long as you assure me there is Wi-Fi and a steady source of power, I choose the Internet and a computer—hands down–because I can create stories, blogs and all manner of written text quicker, easier and much more efficiently. Also, I can reach almost anyone with e-mail, read books online, Google all kinds of information… And I can still order things and have them drop-shipped. (laughs) The choices are unlimited.
L. Leander: Do you hear voices? What do they tell you? What do you tell them?
Betty Dravis: Of course I hear voices, Linda! Any writer worth his/her salt must hear voices. My voices are mostly my characters’ voices and I hear them inside my head as opposed to outside, like when conversing with someone. They help me write by acting out their stories. The only other times I’ve heard voices was when God spoke to me to comfort me during sad, tragic times in my life. Several of those incidents I wrote about in a short anecdote The Voice of God which will be in an upcoming book Betty Dravis Eyes: an eclectic anthology. That’s another WIP.
L. Leander: What is your very favorite part of being an author and your least favorite?
Betty Dravis: My favorite part of being an author is when the book is finished and I see the cover for the first time and (if a print book) hold it in my hands. I must admit to basking in a bit of glory from time to time; I love being the center of attention at book-signings and other book events. (laughs) I’m an extrovert and I get a natural high when mixing with people; that’s fun.
My least favorite part of being an author is the marketing of my own books. It’s too time-consuming and immensely competitive in today’s evolving marketplace. In fact, my dislike of marketing led me to coin this self-quote that has been picked up and quoted as a favorite by many people: “Writing a book is like sliding down a rainbow; marketing it is like trudging through a field of chewed bubblegum on a hot, sticky day.” You like?
L. Leander: Where did you grow up?
Betty Dravis: I grew up in the small town of Hamilton, Ohio, twenty-three miles from Cincinnati and fifty miles from Dayton. I loved my small-town life with my wonderful, Christian parents and six siblings (three sisters, three brothers). Learning came easy to me and I earned top grades without much effort. I played softball for a short while, but loved my role as drum majorette in both junior and senior high. As such, I enjoyed twirling the baton and performing at school football and basketball games and strutting down High Street during parades. Fun years… And FYI, I wasn’t a farm girl; every house I’ve ever lived in has had a sidewalk out front. (laughs) Truthfully, Linda, the closest I got to a farm was when we visited Uncle Bob, my mother’s brother, who had a small farm on the outskirts of town.
L. Leander: Describe your ideal vacation (the sky’s the limit).
Betty Dravis: I raised my six children alone, so never really had time for vacations and when I did it was always quick jaunts to the beach, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe or Reno and day trips to Mexico (the closest vacation spots). As a result, I never acquired a taste for travel, so have to think long and hard about this one. My children have traveled much more than I. It was fun hearing all about Hawaii, New York, Caribbean and Alaskan Cruises, but I would not want to go on one at this stage of my life.
However, I would dearly love to visit my online friend Antonia Tosini in Naples, Italy. She’s a role model for all of us writers. She’s a screenwriter with movies in the works, an acclaimed author and Italy’s Ambassador of Goodwill. She has invited me into her home and to a huge red carpet event honoring the late great Robert Altman. I would dearly love to attend and to finally meet and spend time with her and her charming husband and sons.
L. Leander: If you could be either, which would you choose–a dog or a cat? Why?
Betty Dravis: Neither! Although I like both animals, I’d rather be a horse because I love the wind and the rain in my hair…the feeling of freedom. Besides, I’d love to be able to hang out with those handsome, rugged cowboys and transport them on their exciting adventures. (Clint comes to mind first, of course.) (laughs)
L. Leander: Imagine that you are the co-host of CBS This Morning. With whom would you like to snag an interview?
Betty Dravis: That’s another easy one: Clint Eastwood–mainly because I’d love to see him again after all these years. It’s my dream to get a photo with him wherein we pose in identical fashion to the one taken in 1967. (I don’t normally take any side photos due to aging factors, but if he’d go for it, I would too…)
L. Leander: Tell us a little about your most recent protagonist?
Betty Dravis: I’m pleased to have the opportunity to talk about my latest protagonist because he’s a one-of-a-kind character that I’ve come to love. His name is George Phinneus Starbucks, Phinny for short. But before I tell you more about him and my latest story, I’d like to tell you about the coming e-book… My current WIP!
As many readers know, I recently wrote three short horror stories for an e-book with the gifted paranormal writer Barbara Watkins. Barbara also wrote three, and we titled that book Six-Pack of Blood. Barbara and I have other books, but this one made us international best-sellers by ranking no. one on Amazon Kindle Horror, U.S., no. 2 in Germany Occult and no. 34 in the UK. I heard it did well in India, too, but did not see the figures myself.
Well, since Blood did so well, Barbara and I wrote six more stories for our upcoming sequel Six-Pack of Fear. The last one I just finished writing is the one starring my George Phinneus Starbucks character. I can’t give you the title of the story because I don’t want to give away the identity of his co-character (his love interest). You will be very surprised at who he sets his sights on and why… It’s a unique idea and I’m sure it will delight and amuse our readers…when they’re not too busy being frightened by the evil characters–along with poor Phinny.
I started out to write a short story, but Phinny, his son and love interest carried me away into a very strange adventure, indeed. It ended up being almost 13,000 words, so technically qualifies as a novella, so in Six-Pack of Fear the readers will actually be getting one novella and five short stories… I hope you enjoy my new story because I love my own idea in creating it. (laughs) But Barbara also has three unique stories and I have two more. Fear will also be $2.99, the same as Blood, but it will be featured in the Kindle free program from time to time.
Linda, our new e-book won’t be out for a few more weeks, meantime check out Six-Pack of Blood at the link listed above. We have been compared to Rod Serling, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Hitchcock and many other famous horror writers. We are very grateful and humbled, indeed.
This is a book blog, so it’s proper to talk of books instead of kids, but I am so proud of my children. I have four surviving children (three daughters, one son) and two angel girls in Heaven; nine grandchildren; five great-grands; and one great-great granddaughter. I feel so blessed…
Thanks, Linda, for inviting me to participate in this popular blog. It’s been a joy speaking to your fans, as well as any of mine who might wander over here. Love you all…
READERS: Here are a few quotes people have said about Betty Dravis.
“I know Betty Dravis as a multi-genre writer, but no matter what genre she writes in, make no mistake, Betty’s a treasure, far as I’m concerned. This collection is special because it offers you a glimpse into the ‘other’ mind and character of this author.” – John Locke, famous creator of the fictional character Donovan Creed and the first self-published author to sell a million e-books.
“Betty Dravis is a gifted storyteller who along with Barbara Watkins crafted an amazing compilation of tales of terror and the supernatural called Six Pack of Blood. I had the pleasure of reading and supporting this book and have highly recommended it to others. Betty Dravis has been entertaining readers for years and her fans are never disappointed with her work. She is a talent whose ability to communicate with her audience is apparent by the well-deserved praises she receives. We all await her next book.” –Armand Mastroianni, internationally renowned Hollywood Producer/Director of numerous blockbuster films; latest film Dark Desire, Shore Road Entertainment
“Betty Dravis is a fantastic mix of Shirley Jackson, Edna Buchanan and Janis Joplin. Don’t ask me how I came up with that unlikely comparison–I just feel it, and I haven’t been drinking much tonight…” – Mark LaFlamme, author of Worumbo, The Pink Room and many horror books
“What can I say about Betty? In fact, it might be an easier question to ask what can’t I say about Betty? I could list superlatives such as fabulous, amazing, inspiring, but I guess I had better tell you why I think those things about this (here I go again) wonderful lady. To tell you that she has the magic to bring grown men to their knees in obeisance is not an exaggeration. In fact, she has us all trying to please her. Betty is the queen of the social network boards, make no mistake about that!If you knew Betty, it would not surprise you to know that she has even managed a coup in the new e-publishing industry. She has captivated the heart of e-book sensation, John Locke, whom she asked to write the foreword for her e-book, Star Struck. It is an apt title. How could John refuse? He is a mere mortal – a satellite in Betty’s orbit! No one says No! to Betty! We are all a little in love with her, rapt by her talent, charm, drive, energy and determination that puts those of us who feel old to shame… Betty is one of those eternally young spirits in the shape of the great, grand dame that remind many of us of how fairy god-mothers ought to be. Not even Clint Eastwood could say No to her.” – Dr. Niamh Clune, founder of On the Plum Tree.
ANOTHER SCARY READ BY BETTY DRAVIS AND BARBARA WATKINS. WATCH
FOR IT ON AMAZON!
Here are some links where you can find Betty Dravis and her current books.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 13 so far )
Posted on October 22, 2012. Filed under: Author Interviews | Tags: Amazon, author, author interview, book review, books, C. Michaels, Cross Roads, eBook, Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders, Kindle, L.Leander, No Fear!, publishing, The Bill of Human Wrongs, writing |
Interview by L.Leander
Author C. Michaels was kind enough to agree to do the first interview on my new L.Leander Reviews and Interviews blog. I owe her a big thank you. I had a great time reading the answers to the questions I sent Ms. Michaels and I think you will too. This summer I read the book “Cross Roads” by the author. You can read the review here. I loved the novel and Ms. Michael’s writing style. I began the second in the series “No Fear” but she put out an entirely new book recently called “Bill Of Human Wrongs” and I immediately downloaded the Kindle version. It has been very hard to put the book down, even to design this new site and post Ms. Michael’s interview. You can read my review of “Bill of Human Wrongs” here.
Since I know Ms. Michaels personally, I find it hard to understand that she writes in the Suspense/Thrillers genre. She is very nice, outgoing, and always eager to help a fellow author succeed. There is absolutely no sign of the danger and suspense that lurks within the pages of her books. I’d say that makes a great author and C. Michaels is one of my new favorites.
INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR C. MICHAELS by L.Leander
- What makes you stand out as a writer?
Perhaps it is my twists and turns with my storylines. It’s done all the time with other writers, but I tell ya… my characters really surprise me sometimes. I have had to get out of my chair and pace the floor at times saying to myself, “Where did that come from?”
- What is your favorite type of reading material?
Surprise. I would say, a good thriller. The worst part of having learned what makes a good storyline, however, is now I find myself more finicky. Both with books and movies… I will hear a good review about a movie so I watch it. Immediately, I see how it will play out, too predictable. With books, I look for tricks, the rules we must, should follow, so when I read a book that misses these gems (rules), I’m tainted by my book snobbery. The good news, though, is that a well-written novel is a real gift.
- If you could only pick one, who is your greatest influence?
Easy. My late husband. He began as a mentor for my career when I was new to teaching many years ago. He was tough, but that encouraged me to work hard.
Later, we became involved, and he became a different type of mentor. He taught me to enjoy every minute of life, literally. Once in a while, I slip and forget to “relish the moment”, but then I think of him, and remind myself to suck it up, maybe turn on some music, maybe even dance.
- Where do you get your ideas for writing?
At first, I drew exclusively on my own experiences. Cross Roads, my first novel takes place in a small town in Idaho where I fished many years ago. Many of the characters are stolen personalities from folks I know. Funny, though. After I finished the story, my two favorite characters were totally manufactured in my head. That fact helped me feel more confident to just make stuff up.
NO FEAR! continues with the lives of the Cross Roads people, and while the storyline is completely fabricated, it does take place in the town where I live. So, in that respect, I was still drawing on my experiences to some extent.
It is my latest novel, Bill of Human Wrongs where I braved it by picking a subject I haven’t lived. It does, however, deal with a subject matter, US politics, that I find most interesting.
I seem to have a thing for injecting a small bit of fantasy into my novels so far. Just a bit, mind you. Maybe there is still some “kid” in me.
- Are you a pantser or an outliner?
Both. I start with a strong premise, main characters, and an ending. The rest would be considered “pantser”.
- Finish this sentence: One thing very few people know about me is…
- If I had a choice, every day would include.
Walk on the beach with my dog (after coffee). Now, if you are allowing me to fantasize, I would say that I’d like my mom and daughters with their families to live near me. Then the daily walk on the beach would include them.
- If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have Internet and a computer or a supply of paper and pens which would you choose?
Computer ~ I am a geek. Really, I am. Used to teach programming languages.
- Do you hear voices? What do they tell you? What do you tell them?
Sure, I’m a writer. They don’t say much to me, they talk amongst themselves. But they let me hear their conversations, and have given me permission to use them in my books. I don’t tell them anything – they don’t need me. It’s me who needs them.
- What is your very favorite part of being an author? Your least favorite?
Best: Unleashing my imagination, so exciting when I move into the zone. Least: When, if I feel the book is taking a wrong turn I need to get away from the computer and begin thinking, planning. Another pacing experience, but in this case, a nervous experience.
- Where did you grow up?
Washington state, where there is lots of salt water while having the mountains a short drive away. Pretty slick.
- Describe your ideal vacation (the sky’s the limit)
I’m living it every day. I live in Mazatlan. Sounds like I’m a bore, but that’s the way I feel now. Maybe it will wear off after a while. Ask me this question again in a few years.
- If you could be either, which would you choose – a dog or a cat? Why?
My best friend is Rani. She’s a compassionate dog, perhaps the love we share is a perfect definition of love.
- You are the co-host of CBS This Morning – who would you like to snag an interview with?
There are many, but right now, Tina Fey comes to mind. I would love to learn how her creative mind ticks.
- Tell us a little about your most recent protagonist?
Ah, that would be Claire Winslow. I really like this woman. Her life, at first glance, tells the reader that she’s a success. She is a US Senator; bright, and compassionate about working to pass laws to enhance women’s rights. I actually feel sorry for her when her world is turned upside down. She is faced with a difficult decision she must make when a Senate bill is to be voted on in a week. She’s the deciding vote for her Party. She knows it makes damaging changes to the Bill of Rights that could ruin lives, but also knows that her Party will make sure she is not re-elected if she doesn’t vote for it. The misery she goes through during the first days of this story is painful to watch. She is in her “hole”. A turn of events throws a curveball to her thinking, however, a secret so hard to believe, so terrible. Claire is able to crawl out of her misery, knowing what she must do, but not before coming to grips with the unimaginable knowledge she learns from a strange woman she meets in a coffee house, late in the night.
Thank you Ms. Michaels for your candor. I’m sure our readers will enjoy hearing what makes you tick and once they read one of your books you should get a landslide of fan mail! Readers, I am including the following links for you to check out Ms. Michaels books and other places you can find her on the Internet. Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section below or leave feedback.
Stop by C. Michaels Website
Check out C.Michaels book review for Bill of Human Wrongs at eBook and Book for Coffee TimeRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 10 so far )
Posted on October 21, 2012. Filed under: L.Leander Reviews and Interviews |
Hello everyone. I’m so glad you’re here!
I’m an author who is also an avid reader. I review books for Indie Authors and comment on the books I have read and loved since I was a child. I’m bringing this all together because I’d like to introduce you to some new interesting reads that I’ve found, as well as let you meet the authors who created the books.
Grab a cup of coffee, scroll through the reviews and interviews, and you just might find your next great read!
I’m always looking for more books to read and review. I keep my queue small so I can spend time writing reviews after I have read the book. Come back every Monday and read about my newest and greatest find. Please comment and make this interactive and feel free to send me any suggestions.
If you are an author who is looking for a reviewer, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me an Amazon link so that I can check the book out and I’ll let you know if it’s something I feel is a good fit. As a rule I don’t read SciFi but I would consider it if the book interests me as I read many genres. Thanks!
L.LeanderRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )