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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Winner of Serial is...


The winner of Serial by John Lutz is Jeannie Lin.  Congratulations! 

Thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.

This Week's Book Giveaway: Murder at the No Tell Motel--an Interview with Claire Applewhite and Giving Away St. Louis Hustle

This week, Coffee with David is honored to bring its readers the Nam Noir novel set at the old St. Louis "No Tell Motel" Coral Court. Yes, we are giving away Claire Applewhite's St. Louis Hustle.
 This interview and giveaway was originally posted on The Writers' Lens.
                   
"A simple case turns into a web of lethal deception. 

"When sleek Emily Davies begs Elvin Suggs to trail her philandering husband, Nick, it seems like an easy request. Dimond "Di" Redding and Elvin are eager to get started on the first case for their new business, Grapevine Investigations. Along with help from their fellow Vietnam vet Cobra Glynes, they follow the cheating husband straight to St. Louis' notorious "no tell motel"-The Coral Court.


"Right from the start Di distrusts Emily, a nurse at People's Hospital. She can't explain why she's uneasy until they spot the woman playing doctor with a plastic surgeon at the very same motel.
The mousy desk clerk Waldo E. knows his "regulars" but he refuses to divulge his secrets to the investigators. When one of his regular guests turns up dead, he still won't talk, not even to police detective Reggie Combs. The woman's sleazy landlord is quick to point the finger at Emily's cheating husband.


"After another body turns up, this time at the Coral Court Motel, Elvin and Di discover there's no escape until they see this twisted case through to the bitter end..."

Legend John Lutz wrote: "Author Applewhite has created an engrossing tale that presents the setting almost as one of the cast of characters. If you like neatly rendered, nicely plotted fiction, you'll finish St. Louis Hustle in one sitting. For those who know little or nothing about St. Louis, Applewhite's novel is the perfect gateway to the Gateway City."

I had the pleasure to have a conversation with Claire about her writing and why she writes Noir. 

David Alan Lucas: You are a very soft spoken and kind person. What has drawn you to write about one of the most heinous acts that man commit--murder?


Claire Applewhite: I am intrigued by what would motivate someone to commit such a heinous act. 

DL: You have a series of books that are set in St. Louis, Missouri that have been classified as 'Nam Noir. What is 'Nam Noir?

CA: Noir is a subgenre of mystery fiction. Themes such as isolation and disillusionment, and motives such as jealousy, greed and lust, as well as resilience in the face of adversity, all define the noir tradition.  The series set in St. Louis centers on three Vietnam veterans, and the events in their lives before and after their reunion, twenty years later. Because the themes of noir influenced the lives of the ‘Nam veterans, the series was classified as ‘Nam Noir.

DL: When you plot your novels, from whose point of view do you plot from? The protagonist’s? The antagonist’s? The narrator’s? Some one else?

CA: I plot from the POV of the character with the most at stake; that is, the one with the most to lose. This character is usually involved with the other major characters, and has a reason to care deeply about attainment of personal goals and desires, and perhaps, the achievements of other characters.

DL: When you are starting to work on a novel, what do you find brings the story into focus for you? A Character? A setting? Something else?

CA: In other words, how do I plan a project? I write the first page and last page first.  Then, I decide what would be the climax or middle of the plot and write a page for a central chapter. Remember, the middle cannot sag! From there, using index cards, I decide what plot points occur between the beginning, middle and end, and fill in the chapters in between. I have heard this method called “storyboarding”, a  film making technique, but I find it to be an effective plotting device.

DL: What brings your writing into focus?

CA: When a major character is put into  a crisis, or an unusually stressful situation, and I am forced to feel with that character, that is, endure the stress and survive, the story becomes more clearly focused for me.  Firsthand, I feel the character’s strengths and weaknesses, and experience the level of resilience.  Many times, a stressful situation will also illustrate the quality of a plot point, that is, the effectiveness in the execution of a key scene.  In this way, a potential wrinkle or snag in the plot may be highlighted.

DL: What drives your novels: Theme, Character, Plot, the Mystery?

CA: What drives the novel are the needs/desires/goals of the protagonist/antagonist. Their story arcs, each necessitating a transformation by the end of the story, drive the novel.

DL: Do you work on multiple projects at once? If so, how many? 

CA: I complete one manuscript at a time, and let each one sit for at least a month to attain some distance from it. During that 30 day “rest” I start a new project.

DL: How easy was it to take the leap of faith to become a serious writer and chase this career? What did you find that you had to do to take the step?

CA: I have always written creatively as a hobby, but it was not until I was a little past forty that I came across a short story that I wrote as a senior at St. Louis University entitled, “On Call.” At the time I wrote it, the instructor and other students encouraged me to expand it into a novel---but I didn’t do it.  Almost twenty years later, that story became my first published novel, The Wrong Side of Memphis.  My point is, that I wasn’t ready to expose the feelings in that short story until I felt comfortable doing so—and for me, that meant waiting awhile. For a writer to decide to go for it, I believe, isn’t always a matter of faith or whether it is easy or hard to do the writing.  A writer can do the writing without anxiety, if they are ready. Sometimes, it’s a matter of if or when you’re ready to let go of an issue or expose feelings that have been sitting on an emotional shelf. That’s the tough part.

DL: A lot of marketing falls on to the writer. How do you market your novels? How do you manage to juggle everything you do?

CA: I have to admit that right away, I realized that marketing the novel was going to be just as time consuming and vital as writing it.  I felt a little panicked, and then, decided that this was too important to try and do by myself. My mind was open to consulting when a friend told me that his friend had just been laid off and was looking for work. We met, and though neither of us had much experience in marketing books, we decided to work on a book together.  So, I have a publicist to help with book signings and photography, and a computer specialist to monitor my website. I also got approval to stock my books at Barnes & Noble in the Midwest region and scheduled book signings locally. Kirkus has reviewed my books and I post the reviews on Goodreads and Twitter. I lecture, visit libraries, and serve as a board member for the Midwest Chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and am an Active member, Mystery Writers of America.  However, I had a literary agent tell me recently that nothing is as powerful as “word of mouth” recommendations.

As far as juggling, I do something on the marketing front everyday. It cannot be a sporadic effort, it should be consistent and steady.

DL: What is your writing schedule like?

CA: I get up at 6 am and start writing, and usually stop around 10:30 to 11 am.  If it is an unusual day and that is not possible, the time must be made up from 10 pm to 1 or 2 am.  Either way, there is a ten page quota per day.

DL: If you could have coffee (or drink of your choice) with four other authors from any time period, who would you choose and why?

CA: Ed McBain, Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Cornell Woolrich. These authors have unique perspectives on the essential elements of a murder mystery: motive, opportunity and means. Rendell and Woolrich in particular, focus on psychological suspense, while Mc Bain and Christie have plots that I find intriguing.

DL: How could my readers learn more about you?

CA: Readers may visit my website at www.claireapplewhite.com,  or view television interviews and book trailers on  YouTube, Claire Applewhite.

Thank you Claire!

How do you win a free copy of this book?  To enter the contest, simply leave a comment or question on Coffee with David blog between now (July 28th) and midnight August 3rd, 2012. Please include your email so we can reach you if you win. The more comments you leave, the greater your chance of winning the contest. If you refer others to Coffee with David who mention your name in their comments, I'll enter your name again in our random number generator along with theirs, also increasing your chances at winning! The winner will be chosen after midnight on Friday, August 2nd and the announcement made on Saturday, August 3rd. Good luck and comment often.

Thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Day of the Wolf


The Day of the Wolf
By David Alan Lucas

It is the day of the wolf!
Snarling—growling—scratching
At my door.
Am I hero or coward?
Another scotch burning
Down my throat.

Pouring rage, the door explodes.
Howling amidst the ruins,
The wolf glares.
The day has come upon me!
The question to be answered:
Duty or fear?

Curling its lip, scent of fear
Drawing the wolf near me.
Battle joined
I feel the valor within.
Fear evaporated;
Courage remains.

In the mirror the wolf locks
His eyes holding mine, joined
We are one.
Into the world I step forth
In sheep clothing I hunt
Dealers of death.

Harvesters of death, sheep enveloped
Blind, lead to self-slaughter,
Sheep know not.
The wolf prowls silently among
Bidding time, patience to pounce,
Death my prey.

This Week's Book Giveaway: Terms of Interment

This week, Coffee with David is honored to bring its readers a tale of deceit and desperation. A story that is shadowy, slapstick, and surreal as it follows one man's "ordeal from the opulence of his Central West End parlor to the dark, grim graveyard in this fantasy novel by award-winning author Marcel Toussaint. This interview and giveaway was originally posted on The Writers' Lens. The winner never claimed their prize.

Marcel Toussaint published his first book in the 90’s, Remember Me Young, a collection of poems written over his many years. His poems are also featured in fourteen anthologies, including America at the Millennium. He has read on various radio and TV stations including National Public Radio and the Education channel. In early 2009, Toussaint entered the National Veterans Poetry Awards competition and won gold medals in the categories of Patriotic, Personal Humorous. His poem in the Patriotic category is featured in the National Veterans Poetry Anthology. Toussaint won an award for his two poems entries at the St. Louis Writers Guild Poetry Throwdown at the Focal Point in St. Louis in 2010. He has been a featured poet at the Observable Readings, at the Missouri of Modern Arts Museum, Poetry Per Chance at Washington University to name a few events. A selection of his poems have been published in Korean, in Wilderness January 2011. Toussaint writes in English, French and Spanish and has been translated to Dutch, German, Catalan, Korean. He has read his poetry in Paris at the Club des Poetes and in Valencia, Spain 2008. The poet reads his poetry at various open mikes in the Metropolitan area.

His new novel Terms of Interment, came out October 2011.
Poetry of a Lifetime, was published in 2009.

Marcel Toussaint represented The Saint Louis VA at The National Veterans Creative Arts Nationals in Fayetteville, Arkansas October 2011 and brought back a National Gold Medal Poetry. He was selected to perform his entry in costume on stage and the show was videotaped to be run on PBS in November 2012.

An interview with Marcel Toussaint:

David Alan Lucas: When you are starting to work on a novel, what do you find brings the story into focus for you? A Character? A setting? Something else?

Marcel Toussaint: A human interest will be most motivating.  I do observe all that surrounds me at all times. I try to be very discreet about it. The smallest spark can become a novel. I often write a novel within a month and a half. Preparing for eventual publication takes more time than that. So I read and re-read the manuscript, inventing more scenes and embellishing as I go.  There comes the time when the novel has to be assumed completed, and there it goes to the editor. I do not follow what I have been taught! I write in scenes and this allows for the placing of them where I find them to be best suited. I do not follow an outline from A to Z.  I may have the ending before even writing the beginning.  Many scenes in between are written as they come up to my mind. Fresh ideas move me immediately.

DL: What brings your poetry into focus?

MT: Oddly enough, I often write a title for a poem and then write the poem. Since I write poetic portraits, anyone who strikes my curiosity by his deportment or conversation is a very motivating subject for writing. In some instances just an interesting nature scene or event will wake up my muse and influence me.

DL: What themes in your fiction writing seem to drive you the most? Are they the same with your poetry?

MT: I get all wrapped up in unusual characters and I build a story around them. The characters could develop into a mini story for a poem, a short story, or a novel.  It depends on the strength of events that develop in my mind as the writing progresses. If I see that there are many meandering possibilities in the process, it becomes a novel.

DL: Do you work on multiple projects at once? If so, how many?

MT: Definitively. I wrote three novels at the same time when the three ideas came to mind at about the same time.  One of the novels typically will take up most of my time while the other two give me a change of pace for my thoughts, away from the primary novel.  Ideas cannot be wasted; they must be used immediately.

DL: How easy was it to take the leap of faith to become a serious writer and chase this career? What did you find that you had to do to take the step?

MT: Having written and drawn from the age of twelve, it has been an ongoing passion. I did it at first for pleasure and curiosity. Then I graduated to get attention and see how creative my writing could be. Eventually I wanted to collect my poetry and novels to hopefully display a substantial accomplishment. This progressive passion took me into many courses in writing to see if I was up with the changing times. Looking back, my first publication was at the age of twelve with a series of cards in a fourfold featuring a small drawing on the front page. U.S. soldiers began to notice my cards as they came to our house for a family dinner.  They initiated me on the mimeograph processes and facilitated my budding business in buying my cards.  The cards were done on a waxed paper and put into one of those marvelous print repeaters. Business was good at twelve in Morocco.  Many years later, I took a course about being published at Meramec Junior College here in Saint Louis.  The course was so grand that I presented my poetry to various anthologies.  After an initial rejection, I ended up in fourteen publications within a year or so, following the steps I had been taught in the course.

DL: When you plot your novels, from whose point of view do you plot from? The protagonist’s? The antagonist’s? The narrator’s? Someone else?

MT: I have written five novels.  I would say I have covered all those bases. It depends on the individual story.

DL: What was your biggest fear when you decided to first be published as a novelist or a poet?  Do you still have those fears with each new book or are there other fears that come up?

MT: I have been very fortunate. Editors of university journals, book editors and publishers have all shown interest in my poetry. I have more fears presenting my work to contests. Judges have likes and dislikes and are very set in their ways.  Many of them feel grandiose at deciding if a poem will make it to the finish line or not. They favor the style they approve irrespective of the quality of the poems.  Some of them have so many excuses for eliminating an entry for some ridiculous detail whether the title is in bold or you used the “old” accepted way of capitalizing the major letters of the title. One judge just did not accept poems centered on the page! So eliminating those poems and again keeping the fee!  No contest I have looked into has ever mentioned such rules! The interesting thing is they keep your entry fee but trash your poem without reading it! Some contest like obscured poetry! I wonder what is the use to write something that no one will want to read past a few verses? My French professors insisted on clear well written verses that, in those days rhymed, that made sense and were part of a well constructed poem. 

DL: What is your writing schedule like?

MT: I write when I feel like it.  This means continuously. Any idea is immediately put to paper, even while driving.  I just make quick notes at stoplights and during traffic stops, using my steering wheel as a writing desk. This later helps me recall what is important for a story or a character. I get up in the middle of the night when an idea dawns and write for hours, before going back to sleep in the early morning hours.

DL: If you could have coffee (or drink of your choice) with four other authors from any time period, who would you choose and why?

MT: Verlaine and Baudelaire, because some of my verses, I am told, trigger their works in the minds of my readers. Moliere for his comedy and De la Fontaine for his fables that are mini stories, much like my poems.

DL: How could our readers learn more about you?

MT: To know a writer is to read his works. Poetry of a Lifetime is an autobiography that my editor, Linda Dahlheimer, commissioned me to assemble under her watchful eye.  She was most interested to find that my life’s time line was parallel with my poetry time line. She found the poems that were most conducive to be included in the publication. Her creative insight is superb.  She insisted that a photo album be included along with some of my quotations.  Terms of Internment, also edited by Linda, I wrote with the collaboration of Cyrus Pars.  Both can be found at www.nacgpress.com.  My business card, which I regularly hand out, includes a QR code that can be scanned to reach the publisher’s site.

Thank you Marcel for your interview. 

How do you win a free copy of this book?  To enter the contest, simply leave a comment or question on Coffee with David blog between now (July 21st) and midnight July 27th, 2012. Please include your email so we can reach you if you win. The more comments you leave, the greater your chance of winning the contest. If you refer others to Coffee with David who mention your name in their comments, I'll enter your name again in our random number generator along with theirs, also increasing your chances at winning! The winner will be chosen after midnight on Friday, July 27th and the announcement made on Saturday, July 28th. Good luck and comment often.

Thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.