Tuesday, September 18, 2012

❤author: Steven Manchester Interview and Giveaway!

❤ Today, I'm thrilled to welcome author, Steven Manchester, to the blog today. Welcome to ¡Miraculous!, Steven! Will you please share a short bio with us?

Steven Manchester is the published author of Pressed Pennies, The Unexpected Storm: The Gulf War Legacy, and Jacob Evans, as well as several books under the pseudonym, Steven Herberts. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning, and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of his short stories were selected "101 Best" for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Tell us little bit about your newest release, Twelve Months.

Don DiMarco has a very good life – a family he loves, a comfortable lifestyle, passions and interests that keep him amused. He also thought he had time, but that turned out not to be the case. Faced with news that might have immediately felled most, Don now wonders if he has time enough. Time enough to show his wife the romance he didn’t always lavish on her. Time enough to live out his most ambitious fantasies. Time enough to close the circle on some of his most aching unresolved relationships. Summoning an inner strength he barely realized he possessed, Don sets off to prove that twelve months is time enough to live a life in full.

A glorious celebration of each and every moment that we’re given here on Earth, as well as the eternal bonds that we all share, Twelve Months is a stirring testament to the power of the human spirit. 

How did you choose the names of your characters in it?

I use the names of people I care about for the likable characters, and make up the names for the less likable characters.

❤ How did you choose the title?

I had just finished a novel, entitled, The Rockin’ Chair (out in 2013) and was happy to take some time off. Two days later, I was in the shower when it hit me! I need to write this book. What would I do — really do — if I had 12 months left to live? I had been writing the novel for a few weeks when the doctor told our main character that he had, “At best, twelve months…” to live. It immediately became the working title, which was later shortened to Twelve Months.

How did you first get published? Tell us your call story.

I’d just returned home from Operation Desert Storm, and was working as a prison investigator in Massachusetts. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time. I decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, the professor talked about police work but nothing else. I finally raised my hand and asked, “The criminal justice system is vast. What about the courts, probation, parole – corrections?” He smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d finally done it! In his office, he explained, “There’s no written material out there on corrections or prisons, except from the slanted perspective of inmates.” He smiled again and dropped the bomb. “If you’re so smart,” he said, “why don’t you write it?” Nine months later, I dropped the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue on his desk. From then on, I was hooked. I was a writer. The book was published three years later.

❤ Sounds like you're very determined — very intelligent too! How much of your actual life gets written into your fictional stories?

A fair amount! I believe that good writers make readers think, while great writers evoke emotion. It’s hard to attach feelings to words unless you’re connected to them.

❤ Very true. What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

My greatest strength is my compassion, which I think bleeds freely through my pen. My weakness is time; I’m always fighting the clock.

❤ How would you describe your writing style and tone?

Think Nicholas Sparks meets Mitch Albom. Inspirational; a male perspective to a female audience.

That's really gotta garner readers; it certainly has me hooked! What's the greatest thing you learned in school? 

That I know so very little, and that it will take me a lifetime to learn a fraction of what I want to learn.

❤ So inspirational! How do you react to a negative or harsh review to your books?

After all these years, it’s not as impacting as it once was. Truthfully, if I decide that the intentions of the reviewer were pure and constructive, I’ll try to find a lesson in the review for me to get better. If that’s not my decision, then I’ll completely dismiss it.

❤ Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

  • Be true to yourself, always.
  • Write constantly.
  • Keep the faith!!!
  • And NEVER, EVER, EVER quit. Most people in this industry would agree that more than talent or skill or even luck, perseverance is the one trait that will always get the job done.
  • Knock on every door you can, and keep knocking. I promise that eventually someone will open and the warmth you feel on your face will more than validate every hour spent alone in the darkness.

❤ Love it! Now give us your best personal advice — something you wish you had known when you were younger and would offer to your own kids.

Listen to your elders; they’ve been there, done that and understand. It’ll save you a lot of time and pain. 

❤ What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Perseverance and complete belief in your work.

❤ Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?  

Writing is a solitary discipline, so it’s easy to slide into an anti-social state. Don’t!!!

❤ What’s something you love to see your readers do or say? 

...that my writing had a positive impact on them in some way. There’s no better reason to write.

Where can you be found on the web?

Steven has been generous enough to offer an autographed copy of Twelve Months to one lucky reader! To enter, comment on this interview with your answer to this question: What is your favorite scene from the book and why? If you haven't read the book yet, like Steven's Facebook page and fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway runs through October 3rd, 2012 at 11.59 pm (EST).
Open to all readers, international folks included!
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ and you get additional entries ;)
Good luck!