Monday, January 6, 2014

From Challenge Theme to Profession – A Challenge Participant’s Unique Opportunity!

Today I have the honor of interviewing a man of many talents and an awesome friends, Michael Di Gesu! His theme for last year’s Challenge was introducing fellow bloggers’ novels in his own, original way – through flash fiction. What began as something fun morphed into an opportunity though, as he is now doing them professionally.

Your theme became more than just a fun thing to do, didn’t it?

Yes. For over a year I had witnessed cover reveals and thought they lacked imagination. A cover reveal should be special, exciting. Something EVERYONE will remember. When yours had come up I decided to have a bit of fun with it. Create a FlASH FICTION intro to make it special. That’s how it all began. After those first few, blogger buddies approached me. That is when I decided to use my “intros” for the A-Z theme.

What was the response of the authors you featured?

When I “announced” my theme and asked for books to feature, the response was OVERWHELMING. After the featured authors' intros were published, their responses where almost one in the same … they were excited. Many even wrote me and told they had wished the scene I had created was part of their books. I was very humbled and touched by their gratitude.

How difficult was it to find books to fit all of the letters?

As I had mentioned before, the response was “OVERWHELMING.” I received many requests for the same letters, so I picked those who had contacted me first for their choice. Only two letters I had no books, so I had created a “Joker’s wild” pick. The two authors I had featured were picked randomly from those who wished to be featured whose letters were already taken.

Which book was the most challenging?

That is hard to say. Each intro created had to be in the style of the author, so it would be believable. But one particular book’s subject matter was a tough challenge. Kittie Howard’s, RINGS OF TRUST. The subject matter catapults the reader into a world which sadly is still part of our society. White supremacy.

Which book was your favorite?

Oh, man, Alex …. you are sooo bad. You really want me to choose only ONE! Well, if I must … I’d have to say Nicki Elson’s “D” Double header. Since I had the exclusive for her cover reveal with DIVINE TEMPTATION before the A=Z Challenge, I had created an intro for her first book, THREE DAVES. This book brought me back to the 80’s which was a very special time in my life. The music. The fashion. The people. It was the most fun intro I wrote for the challenge.

How long did it take to prepare each post?

As most of my blogger friends know, I usually escape to Florida in March and April. Once I arrived to my usual destination, there was NO INTERNET SERVICE. So, for the first time I HAD to write many of the posts in March and schedule them. I am usually a pantser, so this almost killed me. I HAD to PLAN ahead. LOL. Something I rarely do. Each post took several hours. First I had to read each author’s blurb/synopsis and study the cover. I take my intros very seriously and each must be unique and special. I don’t just rush through them. On average, I would say about four - five hours to research and write, then another hour to post to blogger. Many I had used special fonts and colors which took additional time.

Where did you get the idea to introduce novels?

As I had said in my answer. I was bored with the usual cover reveals. I totally understand the time restraints of writers, but if a an author asks me to reveal their cover, I couldn’t just slap up the cover and the author’s blurb and info. Many of the reveals I feature are the author’s first books. This is a VERY exciting time for an author, so a reveal has to be memorable!.

If you do the Challenge again this year, what theme will you tackle next?

If I decide to do this year’s challenge, my fourth … I honestly don’t know. I know my theme was very successful, but since the challenge, I now offer intros as part of my author services for hire. So I would have to come up with another unique and exiting theme. If I commit, I want to give 150 percent to the challenge. We’ll just have to see where my life is in April. I am currently working on rewriting my second novel with an editor from a publisher. But I hope to have that all wrapped up before April 1st.

Thank you so much Alex for the interview. This challenge in all honesty changed my life. It opened up new opportunities for me.

Thank YOU for doing the interview, Michael. You rock!!

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex is the author of Amazon Best Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm. He is the founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and his blog can be found HERE


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Your intros were absolutely charming, Michael. Thank you again for doing one for my book last year.

Tina said...

Brilliant idea! Might have to go back and read some of them. Although it has been kindly suggested that I finish my 105 book TBR pile before buying anymore...sigh. I'm addicted to books, and usually read four or so at a time, but lately haven't had the time to read at all.
This is a perfect testimonial as to how doing the Challenge is good for your writing career! I'm so glad you interviewed Michael, Alex. Nicely done!
Good luck with the editing...but congrats on the publisher!
Tina @ Life is Good

mooderino said...

One of my favourite AZ themes from last year, and the most inventive.

Moody Writing

Jen said...

Definitely the most inventive theme I've come across. I'm sorry I missed them! Wow! There's just so many talented people in this challenge!

Michael Di Gesu said...

It was my pleasure, L. Diane!

Thanks so much, Tina. I really appreciate your support!

WOW, Mood. I am very touched. I had no idea. To be a favored theme is quite the honor.

So, true, Jen. I am just one of thousands of incredibly talented writers.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Your theme last year was both inventive and creative ... and magnificently done. Each post was fun and evocative. My Stetson's off to you'

I pray that the arthritis that has set up residence in your wrist decides to take off for climes where the polar vortex is not visiting! Keep warm, always your friend, Roland

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks again for doing the interview, Michael!

D.G. Hudson said...

Your theme in 2013 was very creative, Michael. Then, to have it turn into a venture, that's listening to your smart inner voice.
Best wishes for 2014!

Re this year's A to Z, I'm trying to find a theme before I decide.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic interview! Michael's idea is incredibly original.

Al Diaz said...

Your theme rocked indeed. I am your fan. Those amazing intros always manage to capture my attention (which is quite an achievement!) You are very talented, Michael.

Unknown said...

Nice interview. Thank you for sharing.

Nicki Elson said...

Ahhhhh! What an extra fun surprise to my books in your "favorite" answer. :D You know I adored both intros, Michael, and I'm so happy you had fun writing them.

Your theme was a blessing to lots of authors, too. Thank you.

And thanks for the interview, Big Al.

Susan Oloier said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Michael's A to Z theme last year. Excited to find out what he has in store for this April, which will be here so fast.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks, Roland... I am so glad that I have pleased the master. I have learned so much from your writing reading your works all these years.


It was very much my pleasure.

Thank you so much, D. G. I really appreciate your kind words and support.

Thanks, Christine. It's all about coming up with something fun and exciting.

Blushing... thanks, AL. I always try to pleas the dragons in the world. Better that then face their displeasure. LOL.

Glad you enjoyed the interview, Lady Lilith.

Yes, Nicki. I did enjoy writing your intros very much!

I'm very honored to have had the pleasure of creating intros for such fantastic books. It gave me the opportunity to write in many different styles.

Anonymous said...

All it takes is one idea, and yours was a really good one, Michael. Sure hope you join the Challenge again this year - can't wait to see what you come up with… :)

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

That was quite a project, and you did it so well! Am glad it's now part of your writer services!

Stay warm! An announcer this morning (actually on the baseball channel) said the temps in Minnesota are lower than those on the surface of Mars. Haven't checked his statement yet, but that would be something!

Mary Montague Sikes

Unknown said...

Michael, I loved your theme last year.

Having written flash fiction for two AZ themes I know the kind of time and effort it takes ( though I confess I didn't put in as much time) and it was Very generous of you to promote other authors the way you did.

If I ever have a book published, I'll do a cover reveal just to see if I can hire your services, and what sort of flash you would come up with! :D

Julie Flanders said...

I'm so glad your theme turned into a business for you, Michael. Lucky for me as I'm still so grateful for all you did for my book. I know where I will be heading for any books I have published in the future!
It's really inspiring to know that something fun like the A-Z can end up leading to such a wonderful opportunity.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michael .. as Tina said I might need to go back and re-read your entries again ... particularly if I've bought any of the books - very probably.

It was a great theme .. and a wondrous idea ...

I certainly think you've stumbled on an excellent idea ..

Happy New Year, wrap up warm .. cheers Hilary

Dobson said...

Michael what a great blogging and writing friend you are. It takes some kind of giving person to devote that kind of personal time to invest in the writing career and fortunes of others. I like to be that kind of friend, but I must say you are above and beyond in my experience.