Sunday, January 13, 2013

Arleen Alleman - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Award-Winning Author Arleen Alleman. She is the author of the Darcy Farthing Cruise Crime Adventure series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Religion & Spirituality

Website: Author Arleen Alleman
Author's Blog: Arleen Alleman
Twitter: @aallemanwrites
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description: Arleen is the winner of the Books and Authors 2012 Best Trilogy Award for Currents Deep and Deadly, Currents of Vengeance, and Current Assets

Arleen Alleman is the author of the exciting Darcy Farthing adventures. With publication of the third book in the series, Current Assets, based on cruise ship crime and travel adventures, she says that publishing novels has been a life-long dream. She is working on a fourth book, which continues the story of Darcy Farthing and Mick Clayton as they face personal and professional challenges, while evolving into crime fighters.

The series is unique in that it addresses social issues along with the murder-mystery elements of the stories. Themes addressed in the first three installments include, family issues and adoption, PTSD, alternative lifestyles, religion, government corruption, and cruise ship safety.

Alleman is a former analyst with the Government Accountabililty Office, where she wrote extensively on many topics ranging from satellite systems to endangered species.

She has also worked as a fashion model, insurance adjuster, jewelry designer, and owner of a home d├ęcor shop. Her interests include health and fitness, world religions, travel, and reading fiction.

She says that traveling is not only fun but the various world locations supply backdrops and narration for her fictional stories. Born in England and raised in New Hampshire and Nevada, she lives in Colorado with her husband, Tim and their cat, Xena.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called 'Alternate Currents'. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease.

Yes, I hope to have 'Alternate Currents' out by August. Each of my books so far has included what I call social controversy or current topics of interest along with the mystery adventure plots. The new book features a gay couple first introduced in 'Currents Deep and Deadly' with their daughter who was born through the process of surrogacy.

The story is set in Seattle where the couple lives and centers around the same sex marriage issue, surrogacy laws, child abduction, and the age-old themes of greed and madness. Coincidentally, Washington State just approved same-sex marriage so the topic has added relevance. As usual, Darcy and Mick get caught up in drama and violence when they try to help their friends get through a terrible gut-wrenching experience.

We have had several authors in the Spotlight that have occupations that lend fodder to their writing background which translate into exciting reading.

How has your background of writing about satellite systems, endangered species and the like translated into your successful books?

Working for GAO allowed me to learn about widely varying topics, such as healthcare, senior issues, atomic clocks, postal service operations, and wastewater treatment technology just to name a few. We used to joke that each assignment was like earning a Masters degree because of the in-depth research required, analysis of a large body of technical information and interviews, and the development and publishing of the resulting report to the U.S. Congress. I suppose I draw on knowledge gained during that twenty year period and other life experiences. Perhaps the experiences and people I met help develop plots and characters.

However, I believe as much as anything, I draw on my biology background and interests in other sciences, including anthropology and genetics, as well as the origin and history of religion.

You have a great twitter following. (27K plus followers) How important are the social media relationships that you’ve formed? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

I have to admit I did not get all those followers by myself. I have help from a media consultant, Michael Butler, who also produces my press releases. However, I do try to tweet every day and have met many contacts and "friends", many fellow authors through twitter and Facebook.

Since I self-publish, I rely heavily on these and other Internet sources to advertise and market my work, so yes, I would say they are invaluable to me. EyesIn Magazine did a wonderful piece on my writing and previous jewelry design and they contacted my because of twitter. That is just one example of valuable contacts I've made.

I see you do book signing. I think the idea of introducing a new book on a cruise ship is a great idea. I knew a comedian who started doing standups on busses. He made it all the way to Vegas.

Do you do personal appearance other places besides on the water? If so, when is next place where your readers can see you?

I love the book signings onboard cruise ships and my husband and I continue to cruise several times a year. However, I also have a regular schedule of book signings at Barnes and Noble Book Stores and these have proven to be extremely helpful in marketing the books. I have signings in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Florida so far in 2013. Making these contacts and marketing myself to the stores is a part-time job in itself.

My web site has a schedule of the signings. I also have experience with public speaking and teaching others to prepare effective presentations, so I am always willing to visit a book club or other organization to talk about my writing, bringing synergy to one's life, or health and fitness.

You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Thank you. Each of my covers so far depicts a scene from the book, which I believe a reader will recognize when they read it. I come up with the design idea and supply many of my own images for the covers. For example, the background image for Currents Deep and Deadly is a picture of Cape Horn that I took from the deck of the cruise ship.

My publisher,, has graphic artists who put the covers together based on my ideas and images as well as their own images. One of the things I appreciate about Xlibris is their expertise and creativity in this regard. For Currents of Vengeance I did ask readers to choose their favorite among several pictures I was considering for the cover and it was fun and enlightening to see their choices and rationales.

You have several great book trailers. (See links below.) Do you know how much impact they have had on your book's success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailers? They look very professional.

Do you use the trailer in your character development? Are the pictures and background the way you see your characters and scenes?

My trailers are professional in that they are created by I honestly have no idea how much impact they have. Apex does a great job in applying my descriptions of the book to create the trailers. So far, they have supplied all the images. For the first trailer they came up with an image to represent Darcy Farthing that I thought was brilliant. It looks very much the way I picture her, including the bright blue eyes.

The trailers are quite short and simple and made up of slides with a little text on each. I frankly have not spent a lot of time or money on them because I'm not sure that is the best investment among so many marketing tools. Of course, I do work with Apex to make sure the trailers accurately depict the book.

In my research, I noticed you belong to the IAN. We have had several of their members in the Spotlight. What other kinds of support groups do you belong too? Do they help with writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I don't really interact very much with author networks. I am a member of Goodreads, Booktown, Booksandauthors, and others and I believe these are extremely helpful in getting the word out about my books. I often read articles or blogs targeted to marketing issues because for me that is the most difficult and frustrating part of the writing and publishing process. Most of my energy and time are focused on research, reading, traveling, and writing. That is why I like having a company like Xlibris handling the technical aspects of editing and publishing.

With your busy schedule, how do you have time to keep up with your followers? Between your book writing, blogging and cruising, marketing, the cat and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

It is difficult, but I do appreciate all my followers so much and make a point to interact almost every day on twitter and Facebook. As I said before, I do need help with this because I simply don't have time or inclination to spend hours every day online.

Thankfully, I have quite a bit of energy and discipline. I don't put too much pressure on myself, but I do try to work on writing at least every other day. As I mentioned before, the marketing, book signings, and the like are time consuming, but necessary because I do want people to know about my books and hopefully read them. I think all the years with GAO probably helped me become organized and I am pretty good at focusing on whatever is the task at hand.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in other types of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I have to be honest here. I don't like giving books away free. I don't think people generally expect (or should expect) to get the fruits of a professional author's work for nothing. Having said that, there is a trend of giving away ebooks and I've also done that.

On my web site, I have a free download of a book right now, but I don't plan to leave it there much longer. I give paper books away from time to time when someone expresses interest for their book club, or in exchange for services. Many people think giving free ebooks is a great marketing tool, but others say it devalues the professionalism of the product. I'm sure both are right to some extent.

You have a great blog. I read your post: ‘Marketing Current Assets’. I like your advice to self-published authors: “It is slow going at first to get recognition and readers. Word of mouth is so important along with reviews posted…”.

What is your blog’s primary goal? Can you see any relationship between the blog's content and your book's success?

Since you mention my blog, I would say I feel a little guilty that I don't post to it more often. That is an example of something I want to do, but don't have a lot of time. I started the blog as a way to talk about my writing, fulfilling life-long dreams, and also about the topic that is so important to me; health and fitness. It hasn't really evolved into a writer's blog per se. I have used it to talk about my book development and publishing and I'm sure I will start posting updates as the new book gets closer to publication. As soon as I have an image of my approved book cover, I will start posting information about it on various online sites. I don't know if there is any relationship between the blog and sales of the book.

Author's Book List
Current Assets
Darcy Farthing series
Author Darcy Farthing is writing at her new home in Marco Island, Florida while her boyfriend Mick Clayton conducts a GAO investigation of government property-asset forfeitures-stolen from under the noses of U.S. Marshals and a sheriff's office. When close friend, Tom Smythe, is arrested for attempted murder of a deputy sheriff, the couple tries to identify who is behind the property thefts and corruption. When more deputies are attacked, Darcy and Mick are drawn into a bewildering government investigation and an alarming web of murder and conspiracy with a surprising link to Middle East terrorists; as well as a smuggling operation on a luxury yacht. As they inch closer to identifying a vicious murderer, the violence hits close to home when desperate criminals target Darcy and her deeply troubled daughter, Rachael.
Book Trailer: Current Assets
Buy Page: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Currents of Vengeance
A Darcy Farthing Novel
The Darcy Farthing cruise adventure continues with Currents of Vengeance, a visually and emotionally rich story of personal greed and desperation set on an exquisite state-of-the-art luxury cruise ship and in beautifully historic South American seaports. Plots and subplots abound in a delicious blend of fiction and fact, brought to life with vivid descriptions and characters. This novel explores the timely and all-too-real issues of crime, terrorism, and legal justice in international waters.

In this sequel to Currents Deep and Deadly, Darcy Farthing is home in Colorado adjusting to the press coverage of their ill-fated South American cruise on the Sea Nymph and the success of her budding writing career. She is juggling her work at Schrinden Pharmaceuticals with trying to understand boyfriend Mick Clayton's mysterious depression and anxiety, which apparently relate to the life-threatening wound he suffered on the cruise. Darcy wonders what has happened to their romance, which blossomed a year ago on the ship, but now seems to have fizzled. To make matters worse, her "new" daughter, Rachael, is encouraging Darcy's unexpected attraction to her successful and wealthy travel industry executive ex-husband, Brooks Larkin.

In a surprising turn of events, one year after their horrific cruise adventure, Darcy and Rachael agree to accompany Mick and now-unemployed Tom Smythe, once the chief of security on the Sea Nymph, on a second cruise around South America. This time, Mick and Tom have teamed up to conduct a joint GAO-FBI congressional investigation of the serious issue of unprosecuted crimes committed on cruise ships. They plan to use the project as a means to find evidence linking Paul Denezza, a ruthless Las Vegas casino owner, to the violence on the previous cruise.

Instead of the relaxing vacation Darcy expects, she and her travel companions encounter more violence and madness when currents remaining from the first cruise rise to the surface threatening to pull them under. They soon realize that once again, the World of Seas Cruise Line cannot protect them when crimes on and off the ship become much too personal. Before this voyage is over, Mick's emotional crisis nearly ends his life, Tom faces a surprising attacker with a bizarre weapon, and young Rachael experiences tragic violence that changes her life forever. A series of dangerous encounters reveals a quirky cast of psychologically flawed passengers who are intent on seeking revenge against Darcy, her travel companions, and the cruise line.
Book Trailer: Currents of Vengeance
Buy Page: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Currents Deep and Deadly
In her travel log of murder, romance, and a personal journey of discovery aboard a cruise ship, Darcy Farthing manages to entertain the reader with her descriptions of Caribbean and South American ports, while also detailing the horrific and wondrous events that take place during her four week adventure. A pragmatic scientist by nature, she says she has given up all belief in a spiritual component to life and knows that coincidences are either man-made or chance occurrences that seem related but have no significance. That is, until a series of unbelievable coincidences challenges her belief.

In telling her story, she lays bare her "non-existent" soul and the deeply hidden emotions she has kept in a fragile prison of cold logic and denial for 20 years. She is a savvy, professional woman who has been fighting her internal demons ever since she made a colossal mistake in her personal life from which she knows she can never recover. But on a hastily planned cruise with Dr. Peter Johnson, her latest romantic interest, Darcy's non-belief system is shaken when she is confronted with a set of bewildering and frankly unbelievable coincidences that bring together a tangle of strangers, and people and events from her own past. Darcy is already feeling trapped on the gigantic floating village when she accidentally overhears discussions about a murder for hire plot. Then when members of the crew begin to die under suspicious circumstances, she learns the hard way that she cannot trust anyone onboard the ship. She is forced to run for her own life as she tries to identify both the intended victim of the plot and the murderer before even more disaster strikes.

Finally, as the cruise sails through its final week the mystery appears to be solved and Darcy believes that further tragedy has been averted. Onshore in a beautiful Argentine city she experiences the pain of breaking out of her emotional prison when she meets the one person who will either fulfill her life or destroy her completely. While Darcy finds much needed closure to one chapter of her life, the cruise sails on to what promises to be a restful and romantic end. However, just short of their destination Darcy and Mick meet with unimaginable violence and loss when they are finally forced to confront and battle a vicious killer.
Book Trailer: Currents Deep and Deadly
Buy Page: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the HBS Author's Spotlight plus the blog: eBook Author’s Corner. Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

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