Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Interview with Best Selling Author Michael Okon author of Monsterland

Michael, thanks for taking the time to come and talk with us today. Tell us a little about yourself.  

My name is Michael Okon. I’m 5’11. 200lbs. I live on the North Shore of Long Island and happily married with two beautiful children. I love watching movies with my kids (especially Disney and Marvel), I cook dinner every night for my family, I make playlists for every season of the year, and I’ve never been skydiving. I’m a big vision board guy. The following is what I put on my vision board last year. Get a literary agent, get an entertainment attorney, get a film agent, get a two-book publishing deal, get a movie deal for my book. I accomplished everything on my vision board. The last item – the movie deal – is in the works. As for future goals, I have completed Monsterland 2, which has a release date of May 26th, 2018 (my 40th birthday).

Wow that's outstanding!  It's great to set goals and see them accomplished.  Keep us posted on the movie deal.  That's exciting! Will you share a short excerpt from your novel with us.

Chapter 1
The Everglades
The sky was a sparkling, powder blue, mosquitoes droned lazily over the tepid water, frogs croaked messages while they sunbathed on waxy lily pads. The fire he created burned bright, rabbit roasting on a spit made from hickory, the juices dripping to hiss in the flames. Seven of them lay in scattered repose, enjoying the late afternoon lull—two napped, the others tossed a stuffed fur in the form of a ball around the clearing, hooting with amusement when it rolled into the brush. They traveled in a pack, his group, his makeshift family, foraging together, hiding in plain sight. It had been that way for generations. But the glades were getting smaller, the humans invasive.
The sun started its slow descent into the horizon, hot pink and lilac clouds rippling against the empty canvas of the sky. Their color deepened as the sky filled, the rosy hue morphing into a burnt orange as the sun hid behind the condensation. The air thickened, moisture causing the leaves to lie heavily against the branches. Here and there, fireflies lit the gloom, doing a placid ballet in the humid air. The men moved closer as the sun sank into the western treetops, the fading sky promising another clear day tomorrow in the Everglades despite the moving ceiling of clouds.
A lone hawk cried out, disturbing the peace of the glade. Huge birds answered, flapping their wings, creating a cacophony of swamp sounds. The area became a concerto of animals responding to the disruption of their home—wild screams, squeaks, and complaints of the invasion of their territory.
The lead male stood, his head tilted. He heard it again. It was music, the strange organization of sounds, predictable as well as dangerous. Where those rhythms originated meant only one thing—they were not alone. They all rose, tense and alert, searching the waterway. Billy pointed, his dirty hands silently parting an outcropping of trees to expose a flat-bottom boat with strangers floating slowly toward them. It was filled with people, excitedly searching the banks of the swamp, their expensive khaki bush clothes ringed with sweat. Many held huge cameras. It was obviously a film crew, invasive, nosy individuals looking for something, anything, to enhance their lives. Men’s voices drifted on the turgid air. Billy stood, sniffing, his mates following suit. He glanced at the sky, gauging the time, his eyes opening wide. It was late. The bald top of the moon peeked over the ridge in the south, the sky graying to twilight with each passing second. Night came fast and furious in the swamp, dropping a curtain of darkness, extinguishing all light except for the beacon of the full moon. That chalk-white orb floated upward, indifferent to the consequences of its innocent victims. A halo of lighter blue surrounded the globe, limning the trees silver, the cobwebs in the trees becoming chains of dripping diamonds in the coming night.
What were the interlopers doing here? Billy thought furiously. This was their territory. The humans didn’t belong in the swamp. The moon continued its trip to the heavens, the familiar agony beginning in his chest. Billy fought the demons churning within his body, feeling the pain of metamorphosis. He curled inward, hunching his shoulders, the curse of his nature making his spine pull until his tendons and muscles tore from their human positions to transform into something wicked. A howl erupted from his throat, followed by another, and then another. Grabbing handfuls of dirt, he tried to fight the awful change, but, as the sun dipped to its fiery death, the moon took control of his life, and the unnatural force tore through his unwilling body. Reason fled; his heart raced. Falling on his hands and knees, he let loose a keening cry as his face elongated, his body changing into a canine, fangs filling his mouth. He raced in a circle in a demented dance, knowing his fellow pack members did the same thing. Slowing, he regulated his labored breathing, forcing the icy calmness he needed to keep some semblance of reason. He peered through the dense brush. Lights from the search party bobbed in the distance. The odor, the stench of humanity, filled the clearing.
He turned, digging furiously on the ground, throwing dirt on the flames, hiding their existence. It was no good. Discovery would ruin everything. No one could live with their kind. Humans brought disease, humans brought anger, humans brought hatred. They were there; he could smell them, see their clumsy bodies invading his home. “They’ve found us,” he growled in the special language they used. “Run!” he barked as he turned to his pack, watching his friends’ naked skin transform until it was covered with the same silvered fur. They cried out in unison at the pain, howling with the injustice, and then ran in fear from the interlopers threatening their habitat.

Which do you prefer: print books or ebooks?


If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

Disney World. I don’t think about anything negative when I’m with my wife and kids in the happiest place on earth.

Michael, I am with you on Disney World.  They know how to do things right there.  It really is a magical place where the employees really try to make your stay memorable. Currently, what are you working on?

I’m in the middle of Monsterland 3 – I’d like to get this published too. I’m also beating out the storylines and arcs for Monsterland 4 and 5. It seems that I’m going to be writing about monsters for the foreseeable future.

It's great when the ideas keep coming. Share something with us not a lot of people know about you.

I love gambling, namely craps and poker, and I only eat meat, eggs and cheese. I also lift heavy weights. 

I couldn't survive without fruits and vegetables.  Bell peppers and mushrooms are a staple at my house.  How do you promote your books? Any tips you can share?

Get a good team behind you. You cannot do everything yourself. I have a literary agent, an entertainment attorney, a film agent, a publicist, a wife, a brother, and a mom who all help me with my career. Don’t think you can write, blog, post to social media, and be ready for interviews.  You have to have people help you create schedules, help you post, help you create video trailers.  Writing the book is the easy part. It’s the other stuff that’s hard to keep up. You are nothing without a good team.

Having good people around you is definitely a must. Is Monsterland a stand-alone novel or part of a series?

A 6-part series.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?  What is the hardest?

The easiest part is actually writing the novel. The hardest part is promoting it 24/7 on social media. You have to have a good team behind you helping you promote your works.

Who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself?

My brother works with an incredible artist who has done Marvel comics. His name is Mike Mastermaker and they both design all my covers for the Monsterland series.

Finding a good cover designer who shares your vision is key.  It is the first thing a reader sees.  Michael, what brought about the idea for your book?

I was binge watching a classic movie marathon. You know, the good ones, The Goonies, Gremlins, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, etc…. I have always wanted to write a monster book but couldn’t settle on which monster I wanted to pursue. It was while watching all these movies, that I came up with the idea, why isn’t there a theme park with zombies. I called my brother immediately and told him my idea. He said, no – it has to be a theme park with werewolves, vampires AND zombies. I started beating out the story that night.

Thanks again for sharing with us Michael!  Best of luck with the second installment and the movie deal.  Find more about Michael and Purchasing Monsterland at the links below.  Happy Reading!!

Author Links:


Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  Enjoy the time with your loved ones.  I am so thankful for my family and friends and the fact that I get to do what I love.  Thanks for all your support.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Interview with Award winning author Carole P. Roman

Today I'd like to welcome award winning author Carole P. Roman.  Not only is Carole an author but she has many great resources out there for authors who would like some help navigating the indie world.  I have stumbled upon lots of great tips from Carole on Goodreads.  Make sure to follow her. Carole, tell us a little about yourself.
I wrote my first book when I was in my twenties, a bodice ripper. For a year, I had an agent in Hollywood who shopped the book with publishers. It was thrilling, even though the book never sold. I published it with a vanity press and thought that was the end of my writing career. Thirty years later, my son started publishing through CreateSpace, first self-help, than fiction. Both my kids urged me to write. We had a contest, I brought in Captain No Beard the next morning and together we found the terrific Bonnie Lemaire to illustrate it. The book was picked as one of Kirkus' Best for 2012. It sold well, and I turned it into a series of ten books. I taught social studies forty years ago and used that interest to do a non-fiction series celebrating customs and culture with illustrator Kelsea Wierenga that grew into 22 award-winning and bestselling book. I did a spin-off with other artists, that included Mateya Arkova about history and at the urging of Bianca Schulz of The Children's Book Review did an Early Reader Chapter series, called Oh Susannah. I have a nursery series and coloring book that I did with Mateya, as well. I tried my hand at adult fiction on Radish, under the name Brit Lunden- it's a paranormal romance, and lastly co-wrote Navigating Indieworld with my friend and colleague, Julia A. Gerber. Julie and I are in the process of wrapping up Marketing Indieworld with Angela Hausman. I help moderate two threads on Goodreads to help indie authors market and promote their books. I did so many pod fire radio show with Storyteller's Campfire, they gave me my own, called Let's Say hello to Our Neighbors, and I co-host a monthly radio show with authors Julie A. Gerber and RL Jackson called, Navigating Indieworld. RL, Julie, and I have founded a monthly online magazine, called Indie Author's Monthly. I manage my son, who writes under the names Michael Okon, Michael Phillip Cash, and Michael Samuels. I work full-time in a family business with my sons, husband, and brother. Whew!
I don't know when you find the time to write!  Wow.   I know you have a lot of books published, will you share a short excerpt from a novel?
I will do two excerpts because my writing is so different.  
© 2017 Carole P. Roman
All rights reserved.
The sun peeked through the blinds, making a striped pattern across the bottom of Susannah Maya Logan’s comforter on the bed. Susannah opened her eyes and counted five panels of sunshine.
The little brass alarm clock’s larger hand moved over the twelve, the shorter hand jerked to the seven, and the tiny hammer started to hit the bell. The clock shook and trembled as if it were dancing. Susannah reached over, depressing the button, silencing the alarm.
Her door cracked open. Mom was tucking her shirt into her skirt.
“Wake up, sleepyhead.” She smiled.
Her mother walked into the room, bent, and picked up the large red envelope that had been left there after they had cleaned out her overstuffed schoolbag. “You never told me what this was for.”
Susannah slid out of bed, reaching for the invitation. Her mother opened it before she could grab it. “You’re invited to a sleepover at the Simons’. That sounds like fun,” she said cheerfully.
Susannah watched her mother look up over the handwritten cardboard invitation to see her troubled face. She turned it over, and Susannah could see Lola’s oversized letters. “What’s wrong, honey? Didn’t we say we were going to share our problems, so they don’t overwhelm us?”
Susannah thought for a minute. Is this a problem? She wondered. Not understanding homework was one thing; admitting that you thought a house was haunted was quite another.
Mom handed the invitation to Susannah.
“Sounds like fun. It says here they want you to come home with Lola on Friday after school, and we’ll pick you up Saturday morning.”
“Yeah.” Susannah sighed with resignation. “Loads of fun.”
“Wait, Susannah. Don’t you like Lola anymore? Do you not want to take her to the nail salon next week on your birthday?”
Susannah was turning eight next Thursday, and instead of a party, they had decided to have a mother-daughter spa day to celebrate.
Susannah bit her lower lip. She was a big girl now. How could she tell her mother she was afraid to stay at Lola’s house?
“I love being with Lola, and even her brother, Kai—not that I want him to go with us to the nail salon. It’s just that—”
“Yes?” Mom raised an eyebrow as she watched Susannah intently.
Susannah almost wished Mom was busy with her own work, as she had been the day before her school bag exploded. It was easier to ignore an issue when nobody was paying attention to her.
“Did I hear you’re going to a sleepover?” Her father popped his head into the room. He was fastening his tie. “Well, that’s perfect. We have that dinner thing with Mr. Ort. We won’t have to get a sitter.”
“Perfect!” Mom agreed. “Janey’s busy and can’t watch Susie. I was going to have to call a babysitting service.”
Susannah watched Mom and Dad exchange a long look and wondered what that was all about.
Mom picked up the new backpack and walked toward the door. “I’ll call Lakeisha Simon and let her know you’ll be happy to sleep there on Friday.”
“Great,” Susannah grumbled as she pulled out her jeans and got dressed. “That’s just great.”
Both Mom and Dad decided to sit with Susannah for breakfast. Dad drank his coffee and ate toaster pastries as if he had all the time in the world. Mom made both Susannah and herself open-faced grilled-cheese sandwiches. Mom and Dad chatted about their big dinner, while Susannah picked at her sandwich.
“I thought you liked this better than oatmeal,” Mom said as she put an apple into Susannah’s lunch bag. “No banana today!” she said with a huge grin, followed by a chuckle when she remembered the time a banana had exploded in her bag. What a mess!
Susannah forced a smile to her face. They were trying so hard. She remembered yesterday when she had to fight to get their attention. Now it felt like she had too much!

© 2017 Carole P. Roman

All rights reserved.
Chapter 1 - Primordial Soup

“It’s like a primordial soup,” Clay Finnes muttered his hands on his hips.

“A primordial what?” Owen Bishop raised his hangdog face to look at the town sheriff.

“Primordial, ancient, prehistoric…” Clay looked at the deputy’s blank face and finished with, “old...really, really old.”

“Oh,” Owen shook his craggy head. His bulbous eyes looked like two hard boiled eggs; his hair was matted as if was glued to the top of his round head. Owen never passed any of the tests allowing him to advance on the force. He was a deputy when Clay first got a job in Bulwark right out of the army. As the promotions started coming, Clay eventually became his boss. He wondered if it bothered the older man taking direction from someone who trained under him.

“You mean like dinosaurs?” Owen scratched his head.

“Dino... no... forget it, Owen. What else did the couple say?” He listened to Owen drone on about the car that was now sitting in the middle of the greenish pond.

“Appears they were coming from the other side.” Owen pointed vaguely in the other direction.

“How could they? There’s nothing there. That road has been closed off for years.”

Something was missing. He wasn’t sure what, but a feeling of unease enveloped Clay until his body fairly vibrated with it.

Clay looked up, his deep brown eyes scanning the thicket of trees surrounding the strange body of water that seemed to appear overnight. He crinkled his nose; it smelled pretty bad too. It was a greenish color, like a dirty army fatigue. It seemed shallow. He resisted the urge to stick the toe of his boot in the water. It was still, the surface like polished glass. The Ford Fusion was trapped in the what appeared to be the deepest part of the puddle as if they had tried to speed through it. The brackish water about two feet deep.

“If they had skirted the edges they would have made it through. He shoulda used the choke, probably got an entire engine full of water.” Once Owen started talking he could go on about something forever.

“Where the hell were they coming from?” Clay muttered to himself. He moved away as if to see through the gloom. “It’s a road that leads to nowhere.”

He took off his hat, wiping his sweaty forehead with the back of his hand. It was hotter than usual. No breeze ruffled the leafy trees or relieved the stifling humidity that made his shirt stick to his back.

There was nothing, no sound, not the humming of bees, or mosquitoes. Not a bird in sight or the croaking music of frogs in the late afternoon. When he got home, he’d mention it to Jenna...his wandering thoughts came to an abrupt halt. There would be no conversation. Jenna wasn’t there anymore. His family’s old farm house only had one occupant now. His wife had up and left him. He felt his chest tighten, his throat closing up. His entire life changed and would never be the same. Losing Claire was just the beginning of the end. After that had happened, it was as though they were stuck in some nightmare and couldn’t get out.

“Well,” Owen continued, oblivious to his boss’s distracted air. “The car hit, at a high rate of speed, I think. It must’ve started to sink.”

“It’s not deep enough to sink,” Clay observed his deputy scratch his bald head, then turned to look at the enormous puddle. It covered the road from one end to the other. He chewed the inside of his cheek. He had to admit, it appeared larger than when he got here, but it couldn’t be that deep, could it?” Clay forced his attention back to Owen. It helped him stop thinking of his own life. “Where are they?”

“Over at JB’s house. The wives pretty freaked out.”

“JB?” Clay liked the old football pro, had shared quite a few stories with the old vet.

“Over what. The puddle?” The interruption was from Dayna Dalton, a reporter from the Bulwark Advance. She was walking toward them, a camera hung around her exposed neck, a spiral notebook clasped in the other. “Think somebody dropped a load of waste here.”

Clay looked at her, his cheek twitched. Her buttons strained to the point that she looked like her clothes had been painted on her body. She shook her mane of red hair like an angry mare. He turned his gaze away, knowing it annoyed her. No matter how much she pranced around in her tight jeans, he wasn't interested. She didn’t do anything for him in high school, and she didn’t do anything for him now. Somehow, it never stopped her from trying to get him to notice her. Clay was tired of it. He sighed gustily.

She came around the back of the car, moving into his personal space. For a minute, Clay thought about backing up, but damn it all, he was the sheriff. He stood his ground, daydreaming of Dayna’s reaction when he threw her into the stinky, green lake that had developed overnight.

Dayna repeated her comment about someone dropping waste. Clay shrugged indifferently, then turned to Owen, ignoring her.

He could feel her bristling but refused to move. He dug his feet in the dark soil, his arms folded over his chest. “JB see anything? Maybe notice something out of place?”

Owen shook his head. “Nope. Nada. I asked. Been quiet. He said this started small. Says he has a few pictures on his laptop he can send us.” Owen paused and then said, “Wait, he mentioned they had a wolf problem lately.”

Clay looked at Owen sharply. “Wolves, there haven’t been...hey!”

He saw Dayna take off, her feet moving quickly toward a thicket of trees.

“Dayna!” Clay called, who was dashing up a small incline toward JB Straton’s small cabin over the ridge.

It looks like you write something for everyone.  I am a little partial to the paranormal myself. Which do you prefer when reading: print books or ebooks?
Print- all the way. There is nothing like holding a book in your hands.
Carole, I know you've been at this for a while, have you been given any helpful advice?
Get on a Goodreads thread and meet other authors. You'll find out you are not alone. We all have the same issues. Read, review, and repeat. Get to know what is selling, know what is hot and popular in your genre. Aim your marketing to people who enjoy your genre.
Goodreads is a phenomenal tool.  There are so many people out there willing to point you in the right direction if you just ask. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
Vegas, baby! It's my happy place.
Vegas is a fun place to visit.  I've just been once, there is no place like it.  Currently, what are you working on?
Right now, I have taken a break from writing and am concentrating on marketing all our books. 

Well with the magazine, and radio show, it's a wonder you find time to do anything else. How do you decide on what to title each book?
My younger son, Eric picked all the names for our books. He has a gift. He says the title and the cover must tell the whole story.
That's great that you can pull your talents and help each other in this business.  Share something with us not a lot of people know about you.
I am an avid craps player. I love the game and when we go to Vegas, that's the place to find me.

You are braver than me.  I think if I ever started winning, I would keep going and eventually lose it all.  How do you promote your books? Any tips you can share?
Got a few hours? There are two ways to promote a book, with a budget and without. I could write a book about it. Wait a second, I did. Everything I've done has been trial and error, some with a budget, some without. One doesn't necessarily outweigh the other. I've done expensive ads, and I've spent hours writing to reviewers on Amazon or searching for blogs to be featured on. The best advice I can give an author is getting to a good discussion group filled with proactive people and listen to what they say. 
Navigating Indieworld is chock full of tips from putting out a polished product to finding reviewers. We even list them. Julie and I discuss ways to utilize resources like the internet social media to finding blogs to feature your book.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?  What is the hardest?
I love doing this, so it's all easy. I don't like the formatting or editing. I love the challenge of taking something unknown and building it into something. I get a thrill when someone says, "Oh, I've heard about this book!" 
I am getting a little better at formatting, and actually enjoyed it this go around, but editing is a whole different beast.  I wish I could do my own, but that is a talent that escapes me. Do you have people read your drafts before you publish?  How do you select beta readers?
I have several beta readers, three editors, and two proofreaders. We still make mistakes. I do this for all our books. I feel as if it is an investment in our product. The beauty of self-publishing is you can pull it back and fix an error. 
Who designed the artwork for your cover?  Or did you design it yourself?
My younger son designs all the covers on our books. He is currently running the Facebook campaign for Monsterland, Michael's book.

What was your biggest challenge when writing? Did you have any writer’s block?  If so, how did you work your way through it?
Never. There is always a story going on. Sometimes, I've worked on two or three at the same time. I don't get blocked so much as bored. I move to another story, then come back to the first one when I finish.
Carole, what was your writing process like?
 I can write anywhere, anytime, with the television going, or the phone ringing. I am used to being interrupted. When I work in my office, my brother, who is blind, will often speak to me, not realizing that I am writing. I can have a conversation while I write. It's weird. 
II can do the tv or music, but having a conversation with someone while writing is beyond me.  That's quite a gift. Is there something you learned from writing your first book that you could share with us?
Yes! Don't be intimated. Ask questions, that is the only way you'll learn. Take a chance, if something fails, then you'll know to put your time and effort into the next idea. Don't get stuck on something that isn't working- set a time limit and know you have to move on after that set period doesn't yield your desired result. Set realistic goals.
What are your hobbies aside from writing, if any?
 I do yoga twice a week- It keeps me moving!
In your novels, which character is your favorite?
Oh come on, that's like picking a favorite child. Look at your hands. If you pinch for forefinger or your pinky, it feels the same. That's how I feel about my projects.
LOL.  What advice would you give someone who is considering publishing? Should they consider traditional or self-publishing?
It's very hard to get a traditional publisher. My son just signed a two-book deal with Wordfire, but nobody would consider him without an agent. So, first you have to get an agent, then he/she shops it around and if you are lucky you'll get picked up by a publisher. Them the editing starts all over and it could take years before your book is released. For me, I like the speed and freedom of indie publishing. I don't have to edit to conform to what a publisher thinks will sell a book. However, if you want to break through to Hollywood and get a series or movie, you need a film agent and they usually prefer to work with traditional publishers. I think you should start with being an indie, find your audience, and perhaps an agent will find you and take your book into the stars!
Carole thanks so much for sharing with us today, it has been a pleasure!  Find out more about Carole P. Roman and her novels below.  Happy Reading!!