The reader’s guide for my novel, Billy Maddox Takes His Shot, is now available. It provides several questions that book groups can rely on for an in-depth discussion of the novel. For purposes of a getting a quick snapshot of what’s inside as well as potential discussion topics, below is a list of questions from the guide. After you’ve reviewed them, you’re encouraged to download the full guide for purposes of sharing it with other members of your book group.
As part of launching the guide, I will also offer any reader who participates in a book group a free copy of Billy Maddox Takes His Shot so that they might consider introducing it to the other members of their group (though, of course, this is not a requirement).
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Greg Kalkwarf is the author of “Was That Thunder? More Than a Boston Marathon Bombing Story.” A Nebraska native who currently lives in Colorado, Kalkwarf has completed 10 marathons, including the 2013 Boston Marathon when two terrorists exploded bombs near the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 250 others. In a 13-month period leading up to the bombing, Kalkwarf experienced a raging forest fire near his family’s mountain home, the tragic death of a family member, the happy birth of a baby girl, and a crosswalk collision with a taxi cab. His book, available on Amazon, illustrates goal-setting, trying new challenges, determination, self-belief, and overcoming adversity.
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Emily Kazmierski is the author of the new novel, All-American Liars, which is currently available as an e-book on Amazon and in paperback and hardback. Below is an interview with Emily (originally published as an Author Spotlight on Melissa Carter’s blog), a book description and links to the sales page on Amazon and Emily’s social networks.
Read on to learn more about Emily and her writing history.
1. For all those not aware of your awesomeness, what should we know about you?
Hmm, I live in Southern California with my beautiful family (hubby and two daughters). We have two dogs and six chickens. I love using the eggs to bake. Dessert is my kryptonite*, especially homemade ice cream. And cake. Basically I love to eat.
2. Why do you write?
Honestly? I write because it’s fun. I enjoy writing about people who are not me. I enjoy getting to know fictional characters and understanding how they think and talk, why they make the choices they make, and how those choices affect the people around them. I write to help myself understand people who are different from me. Writing forces a person to think about people from all different walks of life, and I value that.
3. What writers inspire you?
Anyone who can take an ordinary person and make you root for them and cry with them is inspiring to me. There are tons of writers out there who do this… Some authors I’ve read recently and been impressed by are Thomas Hardy, Wilke Collins, Patricia Wrede, Dan Gemeinhart, Trenton Lee Stewart, Paul Buchanan, Francine Rivers, and Ingrid Law. I could go on. And I can’t forget to mention J.K. Rowling, simply because her world building and hint dropping skills in Harry Potter are legendary. She really did an extraordinary job with the details. It’s something to aspire to, certainly.
4. What does a typical writing session look like?
I do most of my writing late at night once the rest of my family is in bed. I sit in our guest room at our industrial style desk with only a desk lamp for light, and I type away. I usually don’t listen to music or anything. I do best without distractions. I’ll sit for an hour and a half or two hours and write. Sometimes I take a few minutes to research something and try not to get distracted by the Internet.
5. What are you currently working on?
The story I’m working on started as a modern day retelling of Shakespeare’s Richard III, but at this point it doesn’t have more than a passing resemblance to the play. Many of the characters share their names with Shakespeare’s characters, and my main character, Dick, does horrible things to lots of people in order to get what he wants. Other than that, it’s completely different.
All American Liars by Emily Kazmierski - from Amazon
Three teenagers with one goal -- to make it through the next two weeks without spilling their secrets.
Tristan's an ace basketball player who dreams of playing college basketball at UCLA. But a reputation-shattering discovery threatens his future. Annie's made a lot of terrible choices lately, and the secrets she's keeping from Tristan could tear them apart, especially if he finds out about her role in his downfall. Rich's only ticket out of their tiny town is the All-American basketball team. All that stands between him and success is the town darling, Tristan.
For these three, making decisions isn't a slam dunk. If they make the wrong choices, they'll lose everything.
6. What do you love about this piece of writing?
I’m writing from three different characters’ perspectives, and I’m enjoying working to make their voices distinct. It’s a challenge. I have to pay specific attention to their personalities and the words and phrases they tend to use. It’s my first work that doesn’t follow just one person.
7. Give us a little sneak peak, what insights can you share about the main character?
Well, as I mentioned, Dick is kind of an antihero. He’s a 17 year old basketball player who is trying to leverage a nomination to the All American team so that he can go to college to become a pharmacist. And he’s also trying to get the attention of his team captain’s girlfriend, so he makes lots of bad decisions. Ha. He’s fun to write.
8. What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing about writing is getting off the couch, sitting in my desk chair, and getting the words down. I love it, but often at the end of the day I’d rather be lazy and watch TV. It’s tricky to find a balance, especially now that I’m a mom and most of my day is devoted to my girls.
9. Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
As was hinted above, I love Superman. Dean Cain is my favorite and has been since I was eight. I would love to meet him in person someday. I once had a dream that I ran into him in a shopping mall, and he was thrilled to meet me until I told him how old I was when Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman aired. He was angry that I’d reminded him of how old he was, so he chased me through the mall with a crossbow. That was fun.
10. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself as a new writer?
I have so much to say on this, but I’ll try to keep it short.
a. Finish your first book – Yes it’s hard. Yes you’re scared, but get it done. You will be SO GLAD you did.
b. Get a critique partner before you publish your first book. Your grammar may be close to impeccable, but you aren’t infallible. Swallow your pride and really think about the comments they make.
c. Study the top sellers in your genre and get a pro to design a cover for that book. This is absolutely essential. Your book could be a masterpiece and it still won’t sell if it has a crappy cover. People absolutely do judge books by their covers, especially now that most people buy their books online rather than in a bookstore.
Original interview publication. Emily Kazmierski: Author Spotlight on Melissa Carter Writes.
Click here to read other contributions in Jay Lemming’s interview series with authors of literary and contemporary fiction.
Among those posts were “The Crippling Effect of Memory”, “The Inevitability of Loss”, “The Healing Power of Friendship” and “The Heavy Price of Bitterness”. I haven’t yet followed up on those posts with some grander vision, but I think now’s the time to change that. If you read those posts–scroll through the Categories section in the right column of this blog and click on “Billy Maddox Takes His Shot” for all the posts to pop up–you’ll note they all refer to characters, relationships and other concepts from the book.
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Years ago, I read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. It was the historical account of Christopher McCandless, a young man who graduated to great promise from Emory University in the early 1990s only to abandon any semblance of identity (he literally burned all forms of identification) and left his home and family behind to hit the road on a cross-country trip. Chris ultimately ended up living out of an abandoned bus through a snowy Alaskan winter north of Denali National Park and, while incredibly resourceful, he ended up making one tactical mistake–he ate poisonous berries–and ended up perishing shortly before the spring thaw. His journey, both physically and psychologically, was introspective and meditative.
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When I first started writing Green Bay Outsiders, my current work in progress, I knew one of my characters was going to be a Vietnam War veteran so I delved into stories that highlight the experiences of such men and women. Although Sylvester Stallone often serves as the butt of jokes because of the many atrocious movies he has made during his career, many other films he has made have significantly more merit, including the first “First Blood” movie. The film, released in 1982, approximately a decade after the end of the Vietnam War, shows a war veteran displaced by the trauma of his experiences overseas whose buddies back home are dying from various ailments and who can’t find a home for himself back on American turf.
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