AOTW- Clinton Festa

Clinton Festa

About the Author:

Clinton Festa, raised in Rockland County, NY, is son to two educators and grandson to four.  Clinton studied animal science with the intention of pursuing a doctorate in veterinary medicine.  Although not part of his science curriculum, Clinton took courses on writing, poetry, and literature while at Cornell University.  He was also a cartoonist, writer, and the circulation editor for the Cornell Lunatic, the university humor magazine.
Prior to graduation, Clinton shifted his focus away from veterinary medicine.  In a side-by-side comparison with vet school, he decided instead to attend commercial flight school in Florida, where he later met his wife.

Now with several thousand flight hours and ten years of aviation experience, Clinton has been the chief pilot for a cargo company in Raleigh, NC and an airline pilot based in LaGuardia.  He now lives in Greensboro, NC and spends his free time with his wife and two small children, or writing.  The epic drama Ancient Canada is Clinton’s first novel.  Check out for more.

Interview with Clinton Festa

Clinton Festa is author of the novel Ancient Canada.

Holly: Hi, Clinton! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Clinton Festa: Hi!  Since graduating college about ten years ago, I’ve been working in aviation.  If you flew out of LaGuardia, O’Hare, or Atlanta recently there’s a slim chance I was your pilot.  Greater chance if the landing was hard.  I’d like to say I’m the first mythology writer who is also a pilot, but who knows.

Holly: Your novel Ancient Canada is your first novel, is this the first novel written or just the first published?

Clinton Festa: Both.  First novel written and published.  Although I used to write police detective stories with a friend of mine back when we were in fourth grade.  Funny enough, I called him one day a few years ago to talk to him about Ancient Canada.  He told me he was writing his first novel, too.  It’s called My Sweet Saga by Brett Sills and it’s fantastic.  No word yet if we’ll resurrect our crime series, featuring ourselves as police detectives, our canine sidekick Sniffer, and our arch-nemesis, the drug lord Stromboli.

Holly: Can you tell us a little about Ancient Canada?

Clinton Festa: Ancient Canada is a mythological world set in an alternate Arctic Circle.  The main story focuses on Lavender and Marigold, two sisters exiled from Canada.  Lavender has a unique ability to see life and death, but she struggles with self-doubt and the fear that she may have been created evil.  Marigold has no unique gift.  She struggles with a sense of uselessness and copes by making the occasional poorly timed joke.  Like Canterbury Tales, each chapter is a different narrator who shares their personal story and philosophies.  Together the chapters link to bring the epic of Lavender and Marigold.

Holly: What was the idea behind the novel?

Clinton Festa: I was walking around New York City in the summer of 2006 looking for something to eat.  Ethiopian, Tibetan, Guatemalan... I couldn’t believe I had eaten it all.  There are restaurants everywhere with a different country’s food, but I never found something I hadn’t already tried.  I thought the only way to fix that was to make up a country, come up with a bunch of recipes, and open an ‘authentic’ restaurant for that country.  The same idea turned into something that didn’t require a bank loan application.  Canada fit best for the topics I wanted to address, but already has her mythology.  So in the end, an alternate Canada fit even better.

Holly: How long did it take you to write Ancient Canada, start to finish?

Clinton Festa: About four jobs and two pregnancies (by my wife, not me).  I started writing in 2007 and it was published late in 2011, so about four years.  The actual writing took two and a half years.  But that’s a little misleading.  I was working a rare pilot job, and would get my ideas during the week.  I’d write them down, save them for the weekend, and do my writing on Friday and Saturday nights from about to .  Once finished, I began simultaneously polishing up the manuscript and looking for publishers.  That took a while too, over six months.  Once I found SynergEbooks, I sat in queue to be published, which was about eight months.  All standard.  Those eight months were more rounds of editing.  I realized that my favorite thing about writing is the six or seven times you finish the same manuscript.  You get to experience that sense of accomplishment over and over and over again.

Holly: You are published by SynergEbooks—would you mind telling us a little about the publishing process, how long it took and how the overall experience was for you?

Clinton Festa: Sure, I’ll tell you a lot about it.  I have a friend who has had a few plays sold.  He told me to get a copy of The Writer’s Market.  I’d find out about a publisher from there, look for them online, and get their most up to date submission guidelines.  Many would say they don’t accept simultaneous submissions, meaning they don’t want to spend any time reading your submission if it’s submitted anywhere else.  If they like it but you are already talking to another publisher, they’ve wasted some of their time reading your work.  Problem with that is they’ll sometimes take six months to get back to you.  Let’s say 1) they all did that, 2) you cooperated, and 3) you got picked up on the sixth publisher.  You’ve just thrown three years down the drain.  The process is a lot of waiting and not taking it personally, because most publishers want something so specific you’d almost have to write a book just for them.  And they get so many submissions a day it’s actually very professional and courteous that the majority of them do reply even to turn you down.  It’s also great that most accept online submissions, because if they wanted an entire manuscript via postal mail, it could run you over $20 per attempt.  For me, a first time author, I felt pretty fortunate that it only took a little over six months to find a publisher.

Holly: Do you have any plans for another novel, in 2012 maybe?

Clinton Festa: Not right now.  I have to focus on marketing the first book, but I do have pages and pages of notes for a sequel.  In the meantime I’m posting fables occasionally on my website,  I figure any good ancient world would have its fables.

Holly: Where can we purchase Ancient Canada?

Clinton Festa: Here’s the main link to most of the purchasing links:  You can buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from SynergEbooks’ website, among many other places.  Currently it’s available as an e-book only, but should be in print fairly soon.  The nice thing about e-books is that Ancient Canada shouldn’t cost you more than $8.50 USD.  Part of that is the conversion rate right now.  The Ancient Canadian ‘tile’ really tanked after all they went through in Chapter 19.

Holly: Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?

Clinton Festa: Email Marigold!  Ancient Canada is a book where you can actually speak with the lead narrator at  It’s me writing of course, but I respond in character.  It’s no sillier than posing for a picture with a six-foot mouse or duck at America’s favorite theme park.  But you can ask Marigold serious questions, like, “Shouldn’t there be snow in Ancient Canada?”

Holly: When writing your novel, do you think you learned anything about yourself, maybe that you did not know before hand?

Clinton Festa: Yes.  I discovered that I can write as well at on my home computer as I can at on my work computer.  Seriously though, I’m joking.  I didn’t really do that I work.  I was always gone by .

Books by Clinton Festa
Ancient Canada

Find Clinton at: His Website

AOTW- Aric Davis

Aric Davis

About the Author:

Aric Davis is married with one daughter and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he has worked for the past fourteen years as a body piercer. A punk rock aficionado, Davis does anything he can to increase awareness of a good band. He likes weather cold enough to need a sweatshirt but not a coat, and friends who wear their hearts on their sleeves. In addition to reading and writing, he also enjoy roller coasters and hockey.

Interview with Aric Davis

Aric Davis is author of, From Ashes Rise, Nickel Plated and A Good and Useful Hurt.

Holly: Hi Aric! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Aric Davis: I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and live with my wife and daughter. I have worked for the last sixteen years a body piercer, and I'm covered in tattoos and have huge ear piercings. Also, I'm obsessed with roller coasters, and my family spends a great deal of our summers riding them.

Holly: Why Mystery & Thrillers?

Aric Davis: The old saying is, "write what you know." What should be an old saying is, "write about what you like to read." I love mysteries, thrillers, and horror novels. I won't say that I always have, but I will say that I spent a fair amount of time perusing Encyclopedia Brown novels at the library, and things took a dark turn soon afterwards.

Holly: You published your first work in 2008 called From Ashes Rise. From what I understand it is set in 2012. I have to ask—now that it is 2012, do you find it, weird, that you wrote the book years ago, set now?

Aric Davis: It's a little weird, but at the same time we're three years from 2015, and I still don't have a hoverboard, not to mention the non-existent Jaws sequels. I was right on a few of the story elements in From Ashes Rise, and wrong on a few as well. The U.S. did elect a Democrat for the presidency, and little changed in the way the US government operated, despite promises to the contrary. Aside from that, I imagined a war that was still ongoing, and a country that was a train wreck financially as well as domestically. What got my story going was a government draft. I'm happy to be wrong on that count.

All that said, Ashes was not meant to be a political novel, it was a book about a man forced to walk through a secessionist Michigan, and the many adventures that find him on his journey.

Holly: Can you tell us a little about your novel Nickel Plated?

Aric Davis: "Nickel Plated" is about a twelve year old boy who works as a private detective, but he's not one of the Hardy Boys. Nickel, the protagonist, is a deeply damaged sexual abuse survivor who will do anything to help a child at risk, even putting his own life on the line. Nickel is fun, scary, and a little bit ridiculous. I'm incredibly proud of being a part of publishing it.

Holly: What was your inspiration for this novel?

Aric Davis: There are two answers for this question. The first is that "Nickel Plated" was written as a YA novel heavily influenced by the work of Andrew Vachss, one of our greatest living authors, and his wonderful "Burke" series.

The second is that in July of 2009, three of my extended family members were killed by a drunk driver. I poured my guts into the laptop, not as a means of creation, but escape. When the dust cleared, my damaged imaginary friend had walked into hell, and came out still breathing.

Holly: You have a new novel called, A Good and Useful Hurt that is expected February 21st this year. Can you tell us a little bit about this novel and its characters?

Aric Davis: "A Good and Useful Hurt" has a protagonist in tattooist Mike, who meets and hires sarcastic body piercer Deb, and the two of them slowly fall for one another, never realizing that tragedy awaits them. Along with this central tale, readers will get an inside look at the real workings of a tattoo shop, and be made to endure some pretty horrific situations.  It has a supernatural element to it as well, but I feel the reader would do best to experience that on their own.

Holly: Do you have any plans for more works in 2012?

Aric Davis: My most recently completed manuscript, "Blood Caked Bones" was finished last October, and has been submitted to my publisher. It is a very different manuscript than any of my recent work, and is about an alternate history United States, and a second civil war that begins at the start of the 20th century. I very much doubt that even if it were accepted it would see publication in 2012, but I do have high hopes for it in the future.

Holly: Are you perhaps working on anything at the moment?

Aric Davis: I am focused currently on short fiction and promotional work for "A Good and Useful Hurt." For me, it is much easier to begin work on a new piece of long fiction after I know the status of my last completed work, so until "Blood Caked Bones" is either given a go ahead or set aside, I will remain dormant. New short fiction can be found at The Five Hundred, a flash fiction collective that I belong to.

Holly: Where can we purchase your works?

Aric Davis: will likely be the easiest place for readers to find them, and both "A Good and Useful Hurt" and "Nickel Plated" are available in both print and ebook editions. Additionally, "A Good and Useful Hurt" is available in audio book format, and is read by super-awesome Luke Daniels.

"From Ashes Rise" will be a harder proposition. Before the release of  "Nickel Plated" I decided to take "Ashes" out of print, mostly because it was not edited professionally. As proud as I am of the story, the editing and even the writing is quite embarrassing in places. Perhaps it will see an edit someday, but it is currently not one of my priorities.

Holly: Do you have anything you would like to say to readers?

Aric Davis: Thank you, thank you, thank you! I could type that a thousand times and it still wouldn't cover it. I came to writing from a deep love of reading, and am extremely grateful to be able to be published, and have my work read by so many people. I still feel the need to pinch myself occasionally, and have long ago given up on the idea that this will ever feel all the way real.

Holly: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Aric Davis: That I could write a book at all was far and away the most surprising thing for me. I always loved reading, but I hated high school, and dropped out of college after just a few months. Teaching myself to write was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but there wasn't a single moment of work or drop of sweat that wasn't 100% worth it. I took the long way to get to the dance, but they still let me in, eventually.

Books by Aric Davis
From Ashes Rise: A Novel of Michigan
Nickel Plated
A Good and Useful Hurt

- NICKEL PLATED received a starred review from Booklist:

Nickel is a 12-year-old abuse survivor living all alone in suburban Michigan. He sells marijuana and blackmails Internet  pedophiles in order to fund his real profession: clandestine detective, complete with night-vision goggles, camouflage jumpsuits, a getaway bicycle, and some not-bad jujitsu skills. Most pressing among his current caseload is the pro bono mystery of an abducted little girl. She’s probably dead, but Nickel is determined to find out who did it anyway—and it doesn’t hurt that his client, the girl’s older sister, is one heck of a dame (“It was awful to see her go but nice to watch her leave”). Writing with a deaf ear to what’s fashionable in YA, Davis’ terseness initially comes off like hardboiled spoof and risks alienating readers with its steadfastly unemotional tone. Almost slyly, though, Nickel’s one-note voice becomes affecting; read between the lines and you’ll find a damaged kid whose defense mechanism is to be a crime-fighting robot. As dark as they get, Nickel’s travails are often laugh-out-loud funny: he’s got his plan, and he’s sticking to it. Readers will, too, right through the pulse-pounding climax and the crushingly offhand sadness of the denouement. Davis hits hard—but with a surprisingly light touch. — Daniel Kraus

-Amazon Exclusive, Gillian Flynn gave NICKEL PLATED a fabulous review:
Every so often you come across a book with a voice like a blast of pure oxygen. Aric Davis has that kind of voice: crackling, assured, energized. With Nickel Plated, he introduces an utterly unique character, 12-year-old Nickel, a former abused foster child, current runaway, and future force to be reckoned with (not that he isn’t already) with a keen brain, sharp sense of humor and hard-boiled self-awareness. Sworn never to return to foster care, Nickel supports himself by dealing pot, blackmailing online pedophiles, and taking on PI jobs, particularly anything involving a child in need. When pretty Arrow asks him to find her missing little sister, Nickel’s investigation uncovers a nasty corner of the suburbs involved in child trafficking. This is a dark but humane, chilling and sometimes heart-breaking work of noir, a reminder that children are vulnerable but also resilient, tough and resourceful. Davis takes on some very mature themes but never loses sight of the damaged but determined heart in his young narrator. Here is a character who demands a series, from a writer who will shake you wide awake. --Gillian Flynn

Find Aric at: His Website | Goodreads

Buy A Good and Useful Hurt at: Amazon

Aric Davis has offered to giveaway one (1) copy of his book, A Good and Useful Hurt!

All you have to do to enter for a chance to win is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

**Just sign in via Facebook or with your name and email, and click 'DO IT!' --Green Button-- read the instructions/directions of the entry well please, complete it and then click 'Enter'.

AOTW- Shelly Crane

Shelly Crane

About the Author:

"Shelly is a YA author from a small town in Georgia and loves everything about the south. She is wife to a fantastical husband and stay at home mom to two boisterous and mischievous boys who keep her on her toes. They currently reside in everywhere USA as they happily travel all over with her husband's job. She loves to spend time with her family, binge on candy corn, go out to eat at new restaurants, buy paperbacks at little bookstores, site see in the new areas they travel to, listen to music everywhere and also LOVES to read.
Her own books happen by accident and she revels in the writing and imagination process. She doesn't go anywhere without her notepad for fear of an idea creeping up and not being able to write it down immediately, even in the middle of the night, where her best ideas are born."

Interview with Shelly Crane

Shelly Crane is author of The Significance Series, Collide Series, Devour Series and The Stealing Grace Series.

Holly: Hi Shelly! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Shelly Crane: I'm a YA author of three series at the moment. I'm a stay at home mom and I love to read as much as I love to write.

Holly: You said you hated reading until you picked up a book in December 2009—and then started writing when you could not find anymore books to read. What was that book convinced you to start reading in ’09 and do you remember what you first started writing about?

Shelly Crane: The first book I ever picked up was the Twilight series. After watching the movies I had to see what happened next. Then the Mortal instruments series, then the Vampire Academy series.  I started writing when I couldn't find anything else I wanted to read.

Holly: Has what you wrote then and what you have published now changed much in type, feel, etc?

Shelly Crane: Um, I don't think so. For me it feels the same. I still write the stories that I'd want to read. That won't change.

Holly: Can you tell us a little bit about your first two novels in the Colide series, Collide and Uprising—and a little about the series in general?

Shelly Crane: Collide and Uprising are about Sherry. The world has been invaded by unknown 'beings' and her and her brother have to fend for themselves after their parents leave them. Merrick, one of the good guys, who is also Sherry's brother's guardian, comes down to earth to save them. Unfortunately, the body he lands in happens to belong to Sherry's abusive ex-boyfriend. But he's in love with her and she doesn't know it. He's watched her almost her whole life and doesn't know what to do now that he's there. And so the drama ensues :) They find lots of stragglers along the way and have to hide out underground.

Holly: You have another series called The Devoured, the second of which is set to come out this year. Can you tell us a little bit about Clara and this mysterious Eli?

Shelly Crane: Well, Clara is a popular girl who has all the things most girls want in high school; a wrestler boyfriend, on the spirit squad, popular friends. But her parents died and she begins to question it all.  When a guy, Eli, comes to town and her boyfriend, Tate, starts to show signs of being abusive and possessive, she starts to open her eyes and see her world for what it really is. She can no longer sit by and watch her friends bully others and she can't pretend in her relationship with Tate anymore. And Eli is conveniently the catalyst for all this and is all too happy to be the shoulder Clara needs.

Holly: Do you think you will move to writing in other genres?

Shelly Crane: I have one adult book out now, Stealing Grace, but I don't think I'll write another one outside that series. Not that I didn't enjoy it, I just am way more comfortable in YA. That may change, you just never know.

Holly: Your Significance Series also has a new book coming out this year called Defiance in which we pick up again with Maggie and Caleb’s tale. I have to ask, who does your cover art?

Shelly Crane: I do all of my own covers with a little help sometimes to tweak it sometimes if needed. :)

Holly: What was your inspiration for the Significance series?

Shelly Crane: When I sit down to write that book, I thought about what I would love to happen to me. My other book, Collide, was dark and dangerous and I wanted something a little lighter that could make me feel giddy.

Holly: Which comes first for you when starting a new book/series—the character(s), plot setting or something else?

Shelly Crane: Honestly, just a thought or one plot line. For instance, for Significance, I started with two characters that I knew I wanted them to touch and fall in love. I didn't know what they were going to be named, or what the process was going be called (Imprinting) or the family members, nothing. I don't do plotting or outlines. I just sit down and write. It doesn't work for everyone but it's the only way I can write.

Holly: Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?

Shelly Crane: I freaking love you! You are the only reason I'm here right now. I feel so incredibly blessed and honored and blown away every day. By YOU! You rock my socks.

Holly: Has any new authors caught your attention lately, if so who?

Shelly Crane: Oh, yeah! I recently read a book by Quinn Loftis, Prince of Wolves, that is totally swoon worthy! Also, Callum & Harper by Fisher Amelie will make you cry and laugh and then double swoon! Shannon Mcdermott, Nancy Straight and Alyssa Rose Ivy are some of the sweetest gals ever with yummy books as well!

Books by Shelly Crane
The Significance Series
#1: Significance
#2: Accordance

The Devoured Series
#1: Devour

The Collide Series #1: Collide
#2: Uprising
#3: Catalyst

The Stealing Grace Series
#1: Stealing Grace

Coming soon:
Defiance (Significance, #3)-- Expected Publication Date: May 2012Consume (The Devoured, #2))-- Expected Publication Date: 2012Taking Faith (Stealing Grace #2)-- Expected Publication Date: Summer\Fall 2012

Find Shelly Crane at: Her blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

This page will be on the Author of the Week blog permanently.

Shelly Crane has offered to giveaway 2 Kindle copies of Significance (Significance, #1)!

All you have to do to enter for a chance to win is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

**Just sign in via Facebook or with your name and email, and click 'DO IT!' --Green Button-- read the instructions/directions of the entry well please, complete it and then click 'Enter'.


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