Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Rosco the Rascal with Author Shana Gorian

I am pleased to welcome middle grade author Shana Gorian and the amazing Rosco the Rascal! 

Can you tell us about yourself and your books? 

Shana Gorian
Thanks for having me on your blog, Mackenzie. I’m an author of an early middle grade series for 6-10 year-olds called Rosco the Rascal. I published the first book in this series in 2014 and I currently have four books out with another on the way this year. I write them so they’re all standalone books that can be read in any order. Each of them fits a different season of the year so I spend a lot of time marketing them each year as they become relevant again and again. But that is also, unfortunately, the main reason why I’m not writing them faster – I’m always marketing and it’s a full time job in and of itself!

The books involve a brother and sister duo, ages ten and seven, and their German shepherd, Rosco. Rosco is a mischief-maker – basically a fun-loving, overgrown puppy. But he is also very smart, loyal, and protective, and knows when he needs to stop goofing around so he can help out the kids.

The three of them are always either on some sort of real-life adventure together, facing danger or a personal, internal conflict, and Rosco always swoops in to save the day, or in many cases, swoops in and helps the kids save the day so they can sort it all out.

Both of the siblings are equally represented throughout the books, give or take, plot to plot, and each takes turns having a moment in the spotlight. Sometimes it’s Rosco who sets things in motion and sometimes it’s one of the kids. Regardless, I wrote them so they’d be books that both a boy and a girl would want to read.

I also try to make each book a bit different in terms of plot and not follow any sort of formula in terms of how problems are resolved, even though this is a series for young kids, and these types of series often follow formulaic plots.

So far, with only four books out, that has been possible, but I’m sure that at some point, if I write as many of these books as I intend to, (and I intend to write a lot of them!) I will have to repeat some of the conflict/resolution patterns, at least to some degree. But all of that remains to be seen. For now, I try to take a completely fresh approach with each plot.

Can you tell us more about Rosco? What inspired you to write about a dog?

Rosco is based on my own German shepherd in real-life, and in the books, the reader gets to see what he is thinking. He’s not a talking dog – he’s supposed to be a real dog, but he does understand human emotions and situations and language, for the most part, and knows what’s going on in the same way that people do. Here’s a good example of that concept from my latest book:

            A parade was something completely new to Rosco. Decked out in a shiny, new green bow tie, Rosco had been enjoying the attention of the parade-goers. He wagged his tail, tongue out, enjoying himself and grinning—until now. Now, he perked up his ears, listening closely to James and Mandy. He could hardly believe what he heard.
            His best little buddy and next-door neighbor, Sparks, the pug, was missing? Here, in this crowd of thousands, that charming little fellow was all by himself? He might get lost, or trampled, or stolen! No, this was not good.
            Rosco glanced around, hoping he could spot his pal. Maybe this was all just a mistake. Maybe Sparks, with his cheerful little smile, was somewhere nearby.
            But it wouldn’t be easy to spot him, since all of the dogs in the parade were dressed up for the holiday.

Excerpt from Chapter Four - Dogs On Parade, Rosco the Rascal at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The 'real' Rosco
Rosco, in ‘real life’ and in the books, is also a really funny dog. The real dog is always finding ways to tease us and outsmart us and get his way. Yet he’s also extremely sweet, loving and protective.

He’s very human-like in these ways, (like most dogs) so I’d always imagine him thinking just like people think. I started writing a book in which the title dog character understood the human characters as much as they understood each other, but still behaved like a real dog, barking, running off at the most inopportune moments, chasing squirrels, chewing up shoes.

The reaction from kids who read the books has been fantastic. I’m so thrilled that they love, love, love Rosco and wish they had a dog like that who went everywhere with them: a big, protective, hero of a best friend. And I think he also resonates well with kids because he’s not perfect. He’s flawed and makes mistakes, gets into trouble, breaks things accidentally, forgets his manners at times, behaves just like a child in many ways.

Check out more about Rosco at www.shanagorian.com

How long does it take to write a Rosco book?

It used to take me about 4 months to start and finish one book, from initial concept to publication. That’s how I managed to release three books in one calendar year once I really got started and understood the self-publishing process. But now, I look back on that and wonder how I’d ever do that again! Marketing the books takes so much time now that I generally shoot for about one book per year (two if I really try). They still only take me 3-6 months to write and have edited, have illustrated, have a cover designed for it, and have formatted, and then publish. But sprinkling that work in amongst the marketing of the other four books means the whole process is now spread out over a much longer period of time because selling them takes so much work.

Speaking of marketing and selling, how are you getting the word out about Rosco?

Sometimes I laugh when someone asks me that, because the question often feels to me like it should be ‘what aren’t you doing to get the word out about Rosco?’ This is because I feel like I’m doing soooooo much to try and get the word out about my books. It’s always number one on my mind after the health and welfare of my family, and it feels like there’s almost nothing I haven’t done or haven’t put on my to-do list in regard to marketing the books. (This is far from true, of course, but it certainly feels that way at times. For me, in this realm, it’s podcasting and video. I haven’t ventured into those realms yet with Rosco.)
Gorian presenting at Orange County Children's Books Festival
I am kind of an oddball of a writer because I love the marketing side of publishing. Most authors will tell you they really, really dislike marketing and speaking in public. Many feel like they’re selling their soul when they’re hawking their wares. But as an author of any genre, the former is extremely important because there are millions of books out there and a book won’t sell if no one’s calling attention to it. And for a children’s author, especially, the latter is really important. You’ve got to get your book in front of kids and you’ll have to face the fact that sometimes the best way to do that is to speak in schools and at libraries and at festivals. And I find that as long as you don’t cross the line, you won’t sound like a used car salesman, and people want to know what you have to offer.

For me, I think it works because I am half introvert, half extrovert. So I’m just as content to sit alone all day while my children are off to school, quietly sipping my coffee, penning the books, and communicating in the virtual world of the internet with friends and colleagues online, as I am standing behind a sales booth or reading to or speaking to a roomful of children.

I also use Amazon ads nearly year round, for one of my titles at a time depending on the season, and I’ve had great success with these ads. I host a blog where I feature other authors and talk about my own work. I’ve run ads in a print magazine and on popular reader sites, and I join lots of Facebook author groups to keep up with the latest trends in the publishing world. Some of these things work have certainly worked better than others, and some have been complete failures and wastes of time, effort, and money, but I’m always willing to pick myself up and get back on the horse.

New Rosco fans!
I know there are a lot of benefits to being traditionally published but I really love self-publishing now that I know how it all works, for several reasons. One, because I have complete control over my work and my business decisions as a whole, because, since it’s mine-all-mine, everything matters so much more to me, personally, than it could to anyone else, that I’ll give it my all, no matter what, and I don’t have to worry that I’ll be on any publisher’s back burner when I’m asking to be on the front burner. Two, because I get to keep a much greater portion of my royalties forever and ever, meaning, I’m creating something that could have a really long ‘shelf life’ or sales window. And three, because I can put out books at as fast a pace as I want to, not having to wait around on someone else’s schedule.

I may have forgotten to mention that I’m also bit of a control freak so self-publishing is kind of a dream come true :).

You are working on a screenplay adaptation for Rosco. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes! I just made the announcement recently and I’m really excited about it. The whole thing started because so many readers would tell me they could really picture my books as movies! So I decided to take a few months to learn the craft of screenwriting (only scratched the surface, as it turned out). I then wrote a screenplay for my first book, a fall-themed adventure through a corn maze called Rosco the Rascal Visits the Pumpkin Patch. But it wasn’t going anywhere, despite a few angles I tried working to get it noticed.

So I decided to have it evaluated by a Hollywood producer, through a company called Voyage Media, a company which is changing the game in Hollywood, basically by matching up ‘creators’ with production companies, and eliminating the need for an agent, which is next to impossible to get anymore, I’m told, as a writer, unless you’re already a household name. The producer I talked to, Aaron Mendelson, of the Air Bud movies franchise, said he thought the screenplay needed work largely in terms of craft, but he also thought it had great potential in terms of the bones of the story and a theme and so on and agreed the children’s market is very hungry right now. So I decided to partner with Voyage to make a market-ready screenplay adaptation of the book aimed at the Made for Video and Made for Streaming markets. I’m very excited about it as you can probably tell! You can read more about it here on my blog if you’re interested.
If you’d like to try out my series, you can get Rosco the Rascal Goes to Camp as a full ebook for free by joining my email list here

If your readers are interested, they can follow me on any of my social media pages:  

Thanks for the chance to be here, Mackenzie! It was fun talking with your readers!

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Children’s Writer’s Guide 2

I’m pleased to welcome back Simon Rose, author of fifteen novels and many nonfiction books for children and young adults. He’s also the author of eight guides for aspiring authors and has just released the second installment of The Children’s Writer’s Guide.

So what’s this latest book all about?

The Children’s Writer’s Guide 2 is ideal for writers not just of books for children and young adults, but also features information that’s applicable to writers in all genres. The first installment of The Children’s Writer’s Guide has a wealth of tips and advice, including suggestions regarding how to get started as a writer, dealing with writer's block, conducting research, choosing appropriate names for your characters, the editing and revision process, as well as the world of marketing and promotion.

This second book further explores the writing process, examining topics such as developing memorable characters, creating effective dialogue, the importance of book covers, the value of blogging, age levels and appropriate content for books for children and young adults, networking, and the process of submitting your work to publishing houses. In combination with The Children’s Writer’s Guide, this second book provides invaluable advice and support for both established and aspiring authors of books for children and young adults.
What inspired you to write this book?

The first installment of the book came out a few years ago and at the time I had some material left over that didn’t quite fit. I considered writing a second part to the guide, but didn’t have anything else to add at the time and as with many other writers, other projects took priority. However, I did add sections when I had time and finally late last year I had enough to produce the second book. 

Have you written and published other guides for writers? 

Yes, in total I’ve written and published eight of these types of books. In addition to the two guides for children’s authors, there’s The Time Traveler’s Guide, which examines the writing of time travel stories and historical fiction, The Working Writer’s Guide, that explores the many ways that people can try to make a living as a writer, and The Social Media Writer’s Guide, which features tips and advice about writing online content for websites and social media. Where Do Ideas Come From? is all about creating workshops and presentations based on your books. Exploring the Fantasy Realm and School and Library Visits for Authors and Illustrators are very small books and the material also appears in the first part of The Children’s Writer’s Guide

Is it important for aspiring authors to read books like this?  

Yes, I think so. You obviously need an idea before you can start writing any book, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction and are largely on your own during the writing process. However, it’s always good to conduct research and seek out information that might help you along your journey and both parts of The Children’s Writer’s Guide are very helpful for writers, and not just those writing for children and young adults. Much of the information in both books is very much applicable to writers in all genres, whether for younger readers or for adults.

Where can people purchase your book?

The Children’s Writer’s Guide 2 available as a paperback on Amazon and as an ebook on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The ebooks are available in ePub, Kindle, and pdf formats.

Ebook Amazon Kobo Smashwords Barnes and Noble iBooks

The Children’s Writer’s Guide is also available in all formats at these locations.

Where can people find out more about you and your books?

You can learn more on my website at www.simon-rose.com or online at the following social media sites:

·      Facebook
·      Twitter
·      LinkedIn
·      YouTube
·      Google +
·      Pinterest


Tuesday, August 29, 2017


My guest today is Calgary author Simon Rose, who has published fourteen novels for children and young adults, seven guides for writers, almost 100 nonfiction books, and many articles on a wide variety of topics. Earlier this year he released Twisted Fate, the second installment of the paranormal Flashback series. Today, we’re looking at his latest release, the Shadowzone series.

So what’s the Shadowzone series all about?

The series involves the discovery of a grim dystopian version of Earth that’s ruled by a totalitarian dictatorship, the threat of a deadly virus, and a race against time to save the lives of millions. Without giving too much away, here’s a synopsis for each of the novels.

While watching intense flashes of lightning during a violent storm, Ben experiences mysterious and disturbing visions of another world, one very different from his own. In the chain of events that follow, Ben encounters Charlie, a girl from a dark version of Earth, a planet doomed by the effects of environmental catastrophe, where the leaders will stop at nothing to complete their deadly mission. 


On a doomed version of Earth, the sinister schemes of the Ministry are moving ever closer to completion, with dire consequences for the inhabitants of two worlds. For Ben and Charlie, an unlikely alliance, unexpected reunions, and the mysterious prophecy of the Chosen One offer a glimmer of hope, with the ever-present prospect of betrayal, as they embark on an unpredictable journey into the unknown. 

In a dark parallel world, following attacks by its most determined opponents, the Ministry has been forced to change its plans. Yet the ruthless Director-General is prepared to sacrifice anyone to achieve an entirely new beginning, no matter what the cost. In a deadly race against time, as events spiral out of control, Ben and Charlie must risk their lives in a desperate attempt to save two worlds from destruction. 

What inspired you to write these three books? What’s the story behind the story?

The original idea was about someone capturing mysterious images on a video camera of a person that no one else could see. It was around the time that a local hospital was about to be demolished. I imagined that my character was filming the event and captured the image of the person stepping seemingly unharmed from the rubble as the building came down. The idea of capturing unexplained images on film was something that I’ve continued working on and it also inspired me to write The Time Camera, which was published in 2011.

For a while, that’s all I had and it was one of those ideas that I was never sure would come to anything. It was early in my writing career and I put it aside and worked on other stories, but I’d periodically add another element to the story about the camera and the mysterious individual. At one point, I decided that the person that the boy caught on film wasn’t a ghost but from another dimension or perhaps a parallel universe and they were attempting to contact him for some reason. I then began to add details of this other Earth and the reasons for the connection to our world, and it went from there. An initial concept involving kidnappings from hospitals didn’t quite work, so instead I developed the idea of a deadly virus, which was a good fit with the type of government running the other Earth. Once that was all in place, I was able to get to work.

Was it always going to be a series?

Shadowzone was originally only one novel, but once I’d finished it I immediately realized that the story wasn’t over and that I need to write more. The final installment was written very quickly and in the process I knew that I needed to expand the earlier sections too, so in the end I had a trilogy.

 So of course, people need to read all three :)

You could certainly just read Shadowzone, but there’s a cliffhanger ending and hopefully most people will feel utterly compelled to be read on and learn what happens next. Into The Web and Black Dawn also don’t make sense if you haven’t read the first book in the series. Taken together, it’s an exciting, fast paced adventure that I hope everyone will really enjoy.

So it’s a good idea for authors to write a series of books?

It can be, but only if you have enough material for multiple books. If readers are sufficiently interested in the story and the characters after completing the first installment, they’d usually like to read more. However, the story or theme has to be strong enough to warrant more adventures. It’s important to remember that the reader won’t appreciate any novel that’s overloaded with filler, just for the sake of creating a series, and might easily avoid any books by the same author in the future.

So where can people buy all three books in the Shadowzone series?

The books can be purchased at most of the usual places, as follows:

Ebook: Amazon CanadaAmazon USAKoboiBooks, and Smashwords
Paperback: AmazonCreatespace

Into The Web
Ebook: Amazon CanadaAmazon USAKoboiBooks, and Smashwords
Amazon, Createspace

Black Dawn
Ebook: Amazon CanadaAmazon USAKoboiBooks, and Smashwords

You published these yourself, whereas most of your earlier work was traditionally published, correct?

The first eight novels were published by Tradewind Books, while Flashback, Future Imperfect, and Twisted Fate were published by Tyche Books, but my seven books featuring tips and advice for writers were self-published as paperbacks and as ebooks.  I hadn’t self-published fiction before and thought it was time that I did. The Shadowzone books were finished and I believed that they were as good, if not better, than my other work. I also asked some people read them to confirm this and then decided to go ahead with publication. A lot of traditionally published authors also self publish as well now, so it’s quite common practice these days. 

Will you self publish again in the future?

Yes, I think so. The third part of the Flashback series will be published by Tyche Books next spring, but I do have several other projects that I’ll most likely publish myself as well soon. 

What are you currently working on?

I always have a current project or two and right now I’m working on a historical fiction novel for young adults set in the turbulent era of the English Civil War in the 1640s. The novel’s about half finished, but I still have a lot of work to do. I’m also working on sequels to Future Imperfect and The Sphere of Septimus.

Are your other books in this similar dystopian genre?

No, although my novels are all in the science fiction and fantasy genre. The Sorcerer’s Letterbox and The Heretic’s Tomb are historical fiction adventures set in medieval England, The Alchemist’s Portrait is a time travel story, The Emerald Curse is all about superheroes and comic books, The Doomsday Mask is all about the legend of Atlantis, and The Sphere of Septimus involves the characters traveling into another world and is in the same vein as the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Lord of the Rings. Future Imperfect is a technology-driven story featuring mysterious messages from the future, and Flashback and Twisted Fate are in the paranormal genre. I’ve also written nonfiction guides for writers, including The Children’s Writer's Guide and The Time Traveler’s Guide.

You also work with other authors, don’t you?

Yes, I do quite a lot of that these days. I’ve edited books in all kinds of genres for a wide range of writers in the last few years, offering both substantive and copy editing. I also work as a writing coach and consultant for people with works in progress or those that are struggling with writer’s block. You can learn more about some of the projects I’ve worked on that have subsequently been published are here on my website. I also offer online courses for adults and workshops on a variety of themes for aspiring young writers.

Thanks Simon, for being my guest here today and the very best of luck with the Shadowzone series. I hope the books sell thousands of copies in the coming weeks and months.

You can learn more about Simon and his work on his website at www.simon-rose.com or online at the following social media sites:

·      Facebook
·      Twitter
·      LinkedIn
·      YouTube
·      Google +
·      Pinterest