Hello and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules! Since we are a book club, we had to offer something that included a book shelf. A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories. Here on this “SHELF,” we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask. We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but no one has dared to cover them. WE get personal! Because when you sit on the RRBC “SHELF”, YOU are an open book!
Today I have with me on the “SHELF” my fellow board member, Nicholas Rossis!
NJ: Before we really get started, how does the “SHELF” feel to you? Is it comfy?
Nicholas: Yes, thanks for asking! I did bring an extra cushion, if you want one.
NJ: Oh, no thank you, hon. I have plenty of in-grown cushion to keep me comfy on this SHELF. So, how about we start by confirming whether or not the name we know you as, is your birth name or a pen name?
Nicholas: It’s my full name. IN fact, it’s fuller than my full name. You see, I was baptized as Nicholas Chris, but back then you could only register the one name, so I’m officially registered as Nicholas alone. Well, not alone (I am married, after all), but you know what I mean. Anyway, no one knew about the second name. When I had to choose a pen name, I liked the idea of displaying publically what had been hidden away all this time. Much like my writing.
NJ: Interesting. So, tell us where you were born. Do you still live there now? If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?
Nicholas: Athens, Greece. I returned here in 2000, after a stint in Edinburgh, Scotland.
NJ: Now, i’m pretty quick, so some of my questions are going to be quick and straight to the point. Married or single?
Nicholas: Happily married to Electra, my childhood sweetheart of over 20 years.
NJ: WOW! And I thought I had been hitched for a long time. Do you and Electra have any kids?
Nicholas: Not yet. We’re but kids ourselves, after all.
NJ: Nicholas, you and I aren’t too far apart in age and honey, I hate to break it to you, but I haven’t been a kid for a long, long, loooooooooooong time. And I have two kids who constantly remind me of that. Do you guys have any pets? If so, what kind?
Nicholas: That beauty you see above in the picture with me is our Meli (Greek for “honey”). She’s the sweetest dog I’ve met. We also have two cats; mercifully, they have all learned to share the same roof. I confess to playing favorites with Perro (he’s a cat with remarkably dog-like behavior, hence the name), while Electra is more partial to Basta (he’s single-mindedly stubborn, which explains his name).
NJ: Your favorite food?
Nicholas: Ooh, that’s a toughie. I’m a bit of a foodie and love both to eat and cook – and have been blessed with an excellent cook of a wife. Which is only fair, as my mother is notoriously a poor cook. Her recipe for soup seemed to be something like, “boil water, empty can of tomato paste, simmer, serve hot.” So, back to your question: pretty much anything by Electra, but especially her Moussaka. Sadly, this traditional dish takes her too long to prepare, so we don’t enjoy it as much as I’d like (Honey, if you’re reading this, feel free to take it as a hint. No pressure).
NJ: I don’t think you should be concerned as to whether or not Electra’s reading this, I think you should be worried whether or not your MOM is reading this! You are too brave…to tell the world she is a horrible cook. Shame on you, Nicholas! Moving on, what is your favorite color?
Nicholas: Light blue. The color of the Athenian sky or the Aegean sea.
NJ: Favorite sport…
Nicholas: I’m not exactly a sporty type, probably because I seem to have been born lacking the antagonistic gene. I do love my Tai Chi, though, and practice daily. Although I’m not sure if it should be described as sport or meditation!
NJ: I’m not an expert or anything, but I think we’re safe in labeling Tai Chi as meditational. What’s your favorite TV Show?
Nicholas: There’s so many, but I’ll have to go with Fraiser. I know it’s been over like forever, but, I still consider the writing brilliant. Almost as brilliant are Gilmore Girls and Friends. Don’t judge.
NJ: -_______- Gilmore Girls? (clears throat uncomfortably) uuuuuuh, OK. Your favorite actor?
Nicholas: Please don’t make me choose! There’s just too many! Alright, if I have to choose, I’d go with Paul Newman. Even if you ignore his many, many movies or philanthropy, this is a guy – no, a Hollywood STAR – with stunning looks, who stayed devoted to his family for fifty years. Not to mention he served in the US Navy and actually fought in the Pacific. Now, how cool is that?
NJ: I’m gonna have to take your word, that it’s cool. So, are you a couch potato or workout nut? Be honest.
Nicholas: I believe I’ve made it plenty clear that I’m not exactly the workout nut. It’s a small miracle that I’m in a good shape, as I honestly don’t do anything about it, apart from trying not to stress. It’s only life after all, as the song goes.
NJ: Biggest pet peeve that makes you want to punch somebody in the nose? (For the record, NJ does not condone violence but she does believe in being honest, so she has to admit that there are times when she feels that some friendly nose-punching is in order. She also feels that she is not alone in those “feelings”).
Nicholas: Ha ha! I don’t remember punching someone in the nose, or anywhere else for that matter, since I was a kid. Having said that, disrespect annoys me. No matter how it manifests…from cruelty to animals to disrespect towards nature, people with disabilities or the under-privileged, it warrants a good spanking. Or a punch in the nose, in this case.
NJ: Awwww, thank you, Nicholas. You have a serious reputation for being such “a nice guy,” by you letting the world know that sometimes even you feel like nose-punching, you just helped a lot of people to be honest in their feelings. You made me proud! 🙂 So, are you Neat or Messy?
Nicholas: Is there an “all of the above”box I can tick? I like my things neat, but not too neat. There’s got to be a bit of chaos there, too.
NJ: Facebook or Twitter?
Nicholas: LOL – definitely Twitter, as I can easily spend an entire day on Facebook and then wonder where the day has gone! Twitter is more gentlemanly in that way.
NJ: Name two of the most supportive people you’ve met on either Facebook or Twitter? Hurry and give us their names so we can become their friends.
Nicholas: Nat Russo is one of them. A wonderful author with a great book and he’s an amazing person. Rayne Hall helped me a lot when I first joined Twitter, and she taught me the ropes, so to speak. Her books on writing also taught me so much, plus she’s quite the writer herself!
NJ: If my memory serves me correctly, Rayne was one of the first people I met when I got on Twitter. She and another friend (Maura Jortner) and I used to laugh it up together. We’ve lost contact, though but I’m so glad you mentioned her! OK, here’s the big question: Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? Be honest!
Nicholas: LOL – obviously Nonnie. I mean, it’s hard enough keeping up with her, can you imagine the kind of energy WonderWoman would require?
NJ: Well (sitting up straighter in her chair), in some parts, I’m known as WONDER WOMAN, so thank you! Now, everyone knows the names Mark Twain and Stephen King but how about you give us two names of some INDIE authors that you favor:
Nicholas: There’s just too many! I did mention Nat and Rayne, so I’ll add MPax, whose sci-fi work is amazing, and Peyton Reynolds, whose fantasy books are an inspiration to me. Also, Effrosyni Moschoudi, Ryan Schneider and Elle Boca, among so many, many others!
NJ: Whoaa, wait a minute…I asked for two! I’m glad we didn’t sign you on as the Treasurer at RRBC because it seems you have a problem COUNTING! I counted 5 people up there! (Composing myself again). OK, so tell us what is it about TWO of these INDIE authors that you’ve come to like?
Nicholas: Their exemplary writing and pacing. Also, I’ve bee lucky enough to get to know some of them on a personal level, too. and they’re all so helpful and friendly. But that’s something I’ve come to associate with INDIE authors in general – the way I was welcomed into the community is incredible!
NJ: Name TWO of your favorite INDIE books…
Nicholas: It’s hard; there’s so much wonderful work out there! I hear a lot of complaints about the poor quality of INDIE work – mainly from traditionally published authors; what’s come to be known as the “tsunami of crap” argument. And yet, the majority of books I’ve read match or surpass traditionally published works. Anyway, if I had to choose just two (NJ: You do), I’d say, off the top of my head, Nat’s Necromancer: Awakening and Peyton’s Auguries of Dawn. I’m avoiding naming books by people who are closer to me, to make sure I remain objective. Although I’m not really objective, as both are fantasy writers, which is my preferred genre.
NJ: ONE good INDIE book you read that was so good you want the entire world to read it…
Nicholas: This is getting harder and harder (thick beads of sweat now streaking down his forehead). If by world you mean fantasy/sci-fi readers, and since I’ve already mentioned Nat and Peyton, then I’d have to say MPax’s Backworlds. Any book in the series, really! If, on the other hand, then ANTics by Dakota Douglas, was a gem of a book, and one I’d happily donate to every children’s library! (NJ: This proves this guy really does have a problem with counting and numbers. Didn’t I ask him for ONE good INDIE book? And, I even put the ONE in big, bold letters!)
NJ: What was so great about both books?
Nicholas: Both have wonderful writing, superb pacing and memorable characters. Most of all, good stories!
NJ: After you read books, do you post reviews?
Nicholas: Almost always. Definitely more often since becoming an author myself, as I have come to realize what a great gift reviews are.
NJ: What do you think readers should base their reviews on?
Nicholas: More than anything, the feel the book left them with. I don’t believe in reviews that break down a book and award points to characterization, pacing, writing, typos, etc. and then come up with a grand total. It just seems too technical to me, too sterile. When I read a good book, I get excited, and I want my review to reflect that passion.
NJ: Are you one of those who are afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author gets upset with you, or is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?
Nicholas: A bit of both, to be honest. My policy is that I focus on what’s good about the book in public, and will contact the author in private to explain what didn’t work, in my opinion. I also remind myself that one man’s medicine is another man’s poison, to quote from Hippocrates. I have come across books that have glowing reviews but are just not my cup of tea. I have also come across books that must seem terrible to others but somehow resonated with me.
NJ: Read any poorly written books lately?
Nicholas: I was given a book to review that was so poorly written, I sent it back with the simple advice to find a decent copy editor before re-submitting it. There’s no point in publishing a hurtful review if the problems in the book can be relatively easily fixed. In this case, the author was not a native English speaker, and that was painfully obvious. Any half-decent editor would be able to turn this book from a two-star to a a four-star one, as the actual story was pretty good.
NJ: Nicholas, are you an author?
Nicholas: So I’ve been told! Plus, it says so on my blog’s ABOUT page. Would that page lie?
NJ: I don’t know your page that well to being able to say that it’s an honest page or a liar, but after this interview, I’ll go check it out to see. How long have you been writing?
Nicholas: Fiction? I published my first short story in 2009, and PEARSEUS, my first novel, in October, 2013. I had been writing before that, of course; in fact, my Professor had suggested I turn my PhD thesis into a book, something I haven’t done so far, preferring fiction instead.
NJ: What books have you written?
You can read my second book, Rise of the Prince, and since you don’t actually need to have read the first one, that’s the one I’d start with. Or you could buy both books at a discount here.
Finally, any Greek readers can download for free my translation of the Tao Te Ching on my Istomedia website.
NJ: Do you have a blog or website you’d like us to visit?
Nicholas: Yes, I blog on NicholasRossis. I post almost daily, mostly about publishing, book marketing and writing.
NJ: Name three great online resources or organizations that every author should belong to:
Nicholas: You mean, besides Rave Reviews Book Club? Because that would be my number one choice. In addition to that, I’d have to say the Self Publisher’s Showcase, run by Paul Martin and the Independent Author Network. I don’t know if Irene’s Book Oasis qualifies as an organization, but she’s a great supporter of INDIE authors. Then, there’s a score of wonderful information on writing and self-publishing , available on blogs and websites.
NJ: Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a Rave Reviews Book Club member. So, what do you think of the club?
Nicholas: I think it’s a great idea, run energetically by a group of amazing people. The concept is brilliant and it seems to be working wonders, judging from my personal experience.
NJ: Have you come across any other online entity like it?
Nicholas: I have come across various attempts at promoting reviews for authors. Most focus either on paid-for reviews, or review-swapping. Bookvetters is an interesting exception to that rule, having built a kind of “blind” review system. However, in addition to encouraging reviews, Rave Reviews Book Club also promotes authors – heavily! Having watched the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make this possible, I truly believe that no other online entity has managed to combine the two – reviews and promotion – as seamlessly or effectively as the RRBC.
NJ: This SHELF is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up now. Any final words?
Nicholas: Want my cushion? No? You might, cause this will take a minute. I just want to say that one of the greatest concerns aspiring authors have is how their work will reach the public. It used to be that publishers acted as gatekeepers, deciding whom to publish and whom to reject. Authors had no real way to circumvent this, and were forced to submit to publishers’ judgment.
With the advent of e-books and self-publishing, the situation has changed dramatically. There is, however, a new challenge: I read that some 1,500 books are published daily on Amazon; that is an astounding number. It is particularly hard for INDIE authors, as we need to be our own publicist, editor and promoter. So, if you look at it rationally, you should probably give up any hope of pursuing a career as an author. And yet, I am having such a great time doing it, I don’t really care. I’d love to be able to live off my books, but even if I don’t, I’ve found this roller coaster of a journey so infinitely satisfying, that I would do it all again in a heartbeat..
So, my advice would be this: If you’re in it for the money, don’t even bother. There are plenty of other jobs that pay a lot more and require far less of your time. If, however, you love writing and are held back by your fear of failure, take the plunge. Dare to open your wings and fly. One of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had since starting to write is the discovery of a whole community of wonderful people, like the Rave Reviews Book Club. They will generously support you and offer their advice and assistance, and I’ve come to realize that there’s an astonishing number of people who share my passion for books. More than anything, writing is – and should be – a labor of love.
NJ: Thank you so much, Nicholas. That was simply beautiful! You have made our first day on the SHELF, a really, pleasant one! To my guests, please support Nicholas by picking up a copy of one of his books (or all of them) and by visiting his blog stops on his tour which ends on Saturday. You can find his line up here, and be sure and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter (@Nicholas_Rossis). Have you joined Rave Reviews Book Club yet? Well, here’s your chance! And since Nicholas was on the SHELF today, tell them he sent you! Make it a great day, my friends. We’ll see you next week, right here on the SHELF!!!