Monday, 30 March 2015

Sean McMullen Talks about The Warlock's Child Book 1: The Burning Sea

Today we welcome Sean McMullen to Promote Me Please to talk about The Burning Sea: Book one of The Warlock's Child series Sean co-writes with Paul Collins.
The Burning Sea

Sean McMullen and Paul Collins

  1. The Burning Sea is the first in a series. Does the series have an umbrella title? If so, what is it?

It is a six part series called The Warlock's Child, and one book will be published each month between April and September. Dantar is, of course, the warlock's child in the title, but the books are as much about his older sister Velza as they are about him.

  1. Would you give us a high concept (25 words or fewer) for The Burning Sea?

Dragons control the world's magic, but some powerful warlocks want to share that control. They have something powerful and dangerous that the dragons greatly desire.

  1. The Burning Sea and its sequels are planned quite specifically for broad market appeal. Will you tell us more about approaching writing with marketing as well as storytelling in mind?

Paul Collins and I do gym together once a week, and being writers the conversation is generally about writing and publishing. One day last September, between lifting weights, Paul and I decided that it should be possible to have a heroic fantasy novel with a strong, exciting plot and characters that appeals to advanced readers, but which is also accessible to reluctant readers. That would add up to a big market.

Paul had a novel on the back burner, and I expanded this by adding the dragons and making Velza a major character. Paul decided to make The Warlock's Child a series of six short novels: six short books are less intimidating than one big doorstopper. The strategy seems to have worked because The Burning Sea has gone into its second print run and the reviewers have loved it.

We deliberately kept the writing uncomplicated and the style humorous, while maintaining a high level of excitement in the plot. There is action every few pages, and in between there is a lot of detail about being a teenager on a sailing ship - I've spent time crewing yachts, which mainly involved pulling on ropes and getting shouted at. The perspective continually swaps between Dantar and Velza, so readers get a broad view of what is happening.

  1. Since the series is planned to appeal to older children and the YA market, how does Ford Street plan to manage the schedule?

Publishing schedules for children are never easy. We decided to launch the first book early in the school year, so that we could stage promotional events in schools to spread the word. The other five parts will come out monthly, with the sixth book being released in September. This means that all six books will be out in time for the Christmas market.

  1. Now, how about a character sketch of the main protagonist?

There are two principals, a brother and sister, who share centre stage about equally. They are from a noble family, but they have been made to serve aboard a warship for reasons they do not entirely understand. Dantar is a cabin boy, because that's the only job available to a 14 year old boy on a ship. He provides the ordinary seaman's view of what is happening, and he is mainly concerned with staying alive and looking for a girlfriend until he discovers that he has some truly remarkable powers. Velza is seventeen, and a type of magical officer. Although tough and dedicated, she is a bit insecure and is manic about following rules. She gives us the view from the top, as she advises the captain, dines with the king, and even meets with the leader of the dragons.

  1. Finally, what time period, fictionally speaking, do you intend to cover in the books?
The period covered in the story arc of the six books is just over two months, but the actual action takes place over a few days. This is because the characters travel about on sailing ships, which are slow - and if they are lucky, not much happens. Between trips, it gets very intense. The Burning Sea takes place in less than 24 hours. The books are already complete and the first four have actually been printed.

Thanks, Sean! To learn more about The Burning Sea and other titles from Ford Street, visit Ford Street Publishing.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Ed Roman and Letters from High Latitudes

Ed Roman

Letters from High Latitudes
Today we welcome Ed Roman to Promote Me Please. Ed answers some questions about his music, with special attention to his new album, Letters from High Latitudes.

Q.1. Ed Roman’s music appeals to fans of a wide variety of genres, but what was his original genre?

Ed. . . Thanks for having me today and it's a pleasure to speak with you. This is a very difficult question for me to answer as there are so many styles of music that I love. As a child, I was  moved by the imagery in music along with the lyrics of songs, it’s what intrigued me as a young listener and what guided me in a direction to pursue music with the same emotional intensity. So many genres of music have these veins and capillaries running through them; more like a bioelectric entity which illustrates and exudes the true passion behind human art. With that said, I greatly relate to music that has pushed me as a player, not only on a technical level but on a philosophical level. I started to pursue music like jazz and progressive music; which for me exercised my enthusiasm and interest in that field. At about the age of 14, I was introduced to Jaco Pastorius and Miles Davis. “Kind of Blue” and Jaco's first album “Jaco Pastorius”, led me down the road to pursue music as an education and career. I spent countless hours of time practicing and playing with other musicians, pursuing the craft to the best of my ability. I guess for that reason jazz music and improvisational music for that matter is my original genre. To me it is one of the most ultimate forms of self-expression that has limitless possibilities and endless future. For that matter, many of the musicians from that idiom all consider the music that they play as music. They define it as a whole, not in a category but as an entity of its own with no borders or boundaries. 

Q.2. Letters from High Latitudes is an intriguing title for an album. It suggests messages. Where did the inspiration for the title come from?  (side note… I know it came from Ontario, but blog readers may not)

Ed. You are 100% completely correct. Hand out the cigars. Letters From High Latitudes was chosen as a title for a multitude of reasons. I live at the second highest elevation in the province of Ontario, Canada in the rural farming community of Melancthon. I moved up to this area about nine years ago as I was looking to lay down roots in an area that was very similar to where I grew up in the Township of Markham, Ontario. As a child I was fortunate enough to grow up on a large farm with extremely wide open spaces and the ability to live off of the land. Melancthon has those attributes that I remember being so fluid in my memory and now at my age; important to rekindle. I realize it is so much a part of my being. Around the same time, I was passing through an antique market the city of Toronto where I came across a book written by Lord Dufferin which curtailed his North Atlantic journeys from many years ago. As the songs started to come together for the record, so many of them were speaking to me and suggesting that the words and the messages are suggesting a sociopolitical commentary on the day and age that we live in, the things that we hold true and dear to our hearts, and the things that we may miss as they slip through our fingers. Letters From High Latitudes denotes that someone is looking from afar at a situation which is clouded and running quickly out of control and speaking of the great beauties that we all seem to pass by every day.

Q.3. How does Ed see the progression from his early days in the music business to his latest album? 

Ed. It's funny as I listen back to all the music that I've recorded over the last 25 years. I always hear progression in a multitude of ways whether it be in the recording process, the musicianship or the abilities in the writing itself. I could sit and judge every recording and tell you what was right and what was wrong about that moment in time or even ways that I could perfect on it today, but recordings are captured moments in time like a painting or a photograph. The pallet, colours and the quality of the paint may change over time. The brush strokes and the abilities of the painter grow as the artist learns to hone their craft, but the most important thing is that we've taken the time to capture those moments without letting them pass into the ether. With that said an artist is always in a stage of growth. In time, artists take on new abilities, illustrate different forms of thinking and refine their abilities to present. Oscar Peterson once said he will never stop learning until the day he dies.

Q.4. Name three other musicians whose work agrees (philosophically and in sound) well with Ed Roman’s.

Ed. There is so much music that has influenced me and I love to listen to; and much of it falls on the same lines and categories of what we just mentioned. If I may be so bold as to add living and nonliving artists to this three musician list. I am by no stretch of the word in any way shape or form Jamaican, nor would you classify me as a reggae musician but the era of music encompassing Bob Marley is very close and philosophically similar in approach. Bob's lyrics can be loving like a warm embrace, at the same time his lyrics can punctuate a political statement with a huge bang. Bob was one of those artists that was not afraid to be outspoken and he carried out his message with intensity and fervor. Another artist from the passed on era would be Jaco Pastorius. Simply put, I was a Jaco head as a young kid and he really pushed me as a player to be better at what I was doing all the time. His first album features music that comes from a wonderful palette and array of styles. It features artists like Sam and Dave on the classic track "Come on Come Over”, or people like progressive jazz musician Herbie Hancock on the track "Kuru Speak Like a Child". As I mentioned before, he was one of those artists who wasn't afraid to dabble in a multitude of genres and that alone for me would open the doorway to my own musical way of thinking and pursue the electric bass as a leader in a band. And from living folks, Derek Trucks is definitely someone who's thinking on the same wavelength and latitude as far as music goes. I fell in love with Derek's music about 10 years ago. I always knew that he was playing at a young age with the Allman Brothers and his virtuosity and prowess and emotional feeling behind his instrument was present then. I later got turned onto the Derek Trucks Band with tunes like "All I Do" and “Volunteered Slavery”.   All in all I'm really driven by music that has a lot of passion behind it and a funky, jazzy soulful edge.

Q.5. How does Ed see the future of the music industry? Will the digital side overpower the live and unplugged performances?

Ed. I'll consult my crystal ball. One moment please. The music industry was built over a long period of time and it grew hand-in-hand with the types of technologies that not only artists but the listeners of music had at their disposal. Certain performers were sought out by smaller record companies, signed small deals and went on to bigger and better things. The medium which provided the consumer the ability to purchase this music was simply by buying a radio and tuning into your favorite station or heading down to your local record shop to purchase the latest 45, 78 or LP of your favorite artist. For years this method worked and created a whole industry and foundation for what we today call the music business. As times change so has technology. Musical artists now have at their disposal the same kind of technology and abilities that 25 or 30 years ago they would've had to pay for when going into the studio. With the transmission of information moving from the analog age into the digital age the concepts of CDs took over the vinyl manufacturing industry and offered higher quality listening at a reduced rate to its consumers. In time, the computer era and the advent of the internet once again opened up a whole new genre of possibilities not only for the consumer but for the purveyor of music. Bands can now micromanage themselves, create online distribution and music forums for their fans to listen to at any moment in time. This has essentially removed the record store and/or even online buying of music for any artist across the whole world. Shareware and music sharing has made it very easy for listeners of music to not have to pay for artists that they want to listen to. This has in turn created a very slippery slope that is difficult to navigate and in turn extremely costly for any artist that is out there. More time and energy is being put into the manufacturing of merchandise, marketing tools and a plethora of other musical navigation devices for artists to try to get their music into the hands of their fans and to get their fans to participate in actively buying and coming to shows. This is consequently why so many people in the industry over the last 10 years have found it next to impossible to compete with the influx of the amount of music, social networking sites and navigation tools for fans of an independent nature. This scares the hell out of the big industry despite it is the Leviathan and dying overweight financial refugee that it is. The independent industry in my opinion is where it's at. There are many wonderful management groups, radio stations, TV stations an independent artists all over the world. We are creating something very unique and special that is born out of the Bell curve of the former industry that we have. Many artists know the importance of getting out and playing and meeting and talking to all of your fans and this is one of the things that helps us connect with people all around us. You can micromanage yourself as a small company and make up to 50 or $60,000 a year provided you do things correctly. Big record companies have signed bands before, given them $100,000 to record a project and then shelf it, so it doesn't compete with other things that are already on the label. Most artists just want to create and work and to practice our craft and the independent industry gives us the ability to do this every day of our lives.

Thanks again and it has been a pleasure talking with you today. Don't forget to check me out at, iTunes, Reverb Nation, Sound Cloud, Amazon and all over the world wide web. Pick up my new album Letters From High Latitudes today. You'll be glad you did.

Thanks, Ed!

Promote Me Please blog is maintained by Sally Odgers of Affordable Manuscript Assessments

Monday, 9 March 2015

Jackie Hosking and Pass it On

Today we welcome Jackie Hosking to Promote Me Please. Jackie is an author, editor, and also the editor and compiler of the popular Pass It On newsletter. 
Jackie agreed to answer some questions about Pass It On (or PIO as it's known by its grateful subscribers).

Q1. Why should every children’s writer subscribe to PIO?

A. I think because in today's information nightmare, any resource that cuts through the chaff is worth its weight in gold. PASS IT ON is directed at those interested in the children's book industry and so only includes material that is relevant to them.
Q2. How does PIO work?

A. PASS IT ON is weekly e-zine, delivered on a Monday via MailChimp (a popular email programme). To subscribe you need to email me and I will send you out an invoice. You can pay via direct debit, PayPal, Cheque or Monday Order. A yearly subscription is $44.00 (around $1 per issue). Being weekly it is always relevant and up to date.

Q3. How do you gather material for PIO?

A. I collect most of the information for PIO but I do encourage subscribers to share industry news as well. If you come across something that doesn't interest you directly sharing it in PIO is a bit like paying it forward. Your trash is someone else's treasure and someone else's trash may well be your treasure.

Q4. Do publishers ever send you pre-info about markets?

A.They most certainly do. I think the wider the news is spread the less likely it is that they will have to deal with submissions that don't suit their list.

Q5. How do you select artist of the week?

A. This has been a wonderful venture that began back in early 2008. Basically I hunt them down, via facebook or The Style File or other illustrator sites and ask them if they would be interested in being profiled. If they agree, I feature them. I've never turned anybody down because I think it's important to encourage artists at all levels from brand new beginners to the Shaun Tans of the world - who incidentally was in fact featured in August 2008.

Q.6. Is there any charge for advertising with PIO?

A. No I don't charge for advertising but then I only include copy that is relevant to the industry. So if you run a manuscript assessment business for example you can include your details whenever you like!

 Thank you Jackie! By the way, the image at the head of this interview is one of Jackie's own books.

Promote Me Please is an arts promotion blog run in association with Affordable Manuscript Assessments

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Lynne Stringer and the Verindon Trilogy

Lynne Stringer
Verindon Trilogy Book 1

 Today I welcome Lynne Stringer to Promote Me Please to talk about her Verindon Trilogy. Lynne agreed to answer five curious questions.

Q1. What is the high concept (log line) for the Verindon trilogy in 25 or fewer words?

A. ‘What if he told you that you were the only reason he was put on this planet … and it was the truth?’
It was this line that inspired the whole story.

Q2.      Who is your main character from The Heir? Can you tell us something about this character?

A. Sarah Fenhardt is my main character. She is a young girl from a broken home who goes to a prestigious school because her dad used to be rich. Unfortunately, poor business decisions meant he lost it all and now Sarah is ostracised at school. Her only real friend is Jillian, who is pretty much the opposite of Sarah in every way – forward, bossy and confident. She is also obsessed with science fiction and constantly tries to interest Sarah in it with such intensity that it makes Sarah sick of it.

The best thing about school, from Sarah’s point of view, is Dan Bradfield. Dan is Jillian’s boyfriend and Sarah’s secret crush. He is the sole heir to his father’s huge fortune but Sarah can’t shake the feeling that there is something strange about him.

Q3.      Did you always envisage the Verindon trilogy as a trilogy, or did The Heir come first?

A. I had the story for all three books pretty much worked out before I sat down and wrote The Heir. There were certain details about the story that aren’t introduced until much later but I had to sort them out before I could write the story. I needed to know where it was all going.

Q.4.      What is the time span of the three books? How much fictional time is covered?

A. The main story takes place over a period of about two years. I do have a scene at the end that skips forward ten years as a little peek at what’s happened to the characters in that time.

Q5.      Would you name three other books that might signpost readers who would enjoy the Verindon trilogy?

A. I usually describe it as Twilight meets Star Wars. There is an element of the Roswell series in them as well.

Here are some links where you can find out more about the Verindon Trilogy.

Lynne's website is and the website for the trilogy is

You can purchase the first book on Kindle here:

Thanks, Lynne!

Promote Me Please is a blog associated with Affordable Manuscript Assessments. It exists to help bring creators and their endeavours to the people who will enjoy them. 

You do not have to be a client of Affordable Manuscript Assessments to appear at Promote Me Please.