Welcome to the first author interview in my new author interview series: –Q and A with D.G, Kaye and Promote Your Book.
I’m thrilled to introduce my first guest, author James J. Cudney IV to this series. Jay is going to share a bit about himself and his writing, as well as an excerpt for his newest release – Haunted Ghost House, Book 5 in his Braxton Campus Mysteries.
About the Author
James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.
When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. I can’t believe I’m already writing the sixth book in this series. Come join in the fun…
I’m just going to jump in here and say, I thoroughly enjoyed Jay’s – Watching Glass Shatter. You can read my review HERE. #Recommended
Jay will be launching his newest book in October for the next in his Braxton Campus Mystery series – Haunted House Ghost. And you can PRE-ORDER now!
It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival. Despite a former occupant’s fervent warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic known for her explosive predictions, to communicate with the apparition.
Construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing. Could it be Prudence, Judge Hiram Grey’s first wife, who disappeared during a fiery Vietnam War protest that destroyed parts of the campus? While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident at the Fall Festival leaves Hiram in a coma and another dead body to investigate. Kellan’s research digs up a tale of horror and pain about the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family, forcing April to accelerate her plan to capture the elusive killer and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.
Jay is generously sharing an excerpt with us:
Excerpt: Haunted House Ghost
Hunkering behind a weathered, illegible headstone in Wellington Cemetery’s oldest and scariest graveyard, I remained silent and stationary amidst a slew of exhumed corpses. Though surrounded by slender, tall white pines, a gnarly and knotty willow tree’s sweeping canopy of dying branches furtively brushed my neck. After an onslaught of howling winds furiously whipped my quivering skin, I peered over the loosened tomb marker and gawked at the mounds of freshly flung dirt. Why had a ruthless monster dug up so many coffins near the Grey mausoleum?
Skulking two rows away, the determined villain’s soulless eyes glowed like burning coal. The chilling tone of St. Mary’s somber church bells blasted—midnight’s fortuitous arrival. Its ominous beckoning prompted my unsteady feet to falter, crunching a pile of decaying leaves and foolishly revealing my secret location. Suddenly enshrouded in fog and hovering near the nameless gravestone, the rogue’s flowing black and gray robes resembled billowing smoke from an overworked chimney. “I hear you breathing, Ayrwick. Come out, come out wherever you are. I’m not finished with this game.”
“I don’t know who you are, but your obsession with me has spiraled out of control.” As an aloof moon cast an eerie luminosity, I cursed my new modern, sporty aviator eyeglasses for clouding over. Apparition or figment of an overwrought imagination, I couldn’t be certain; nor did I care at that moment. “You can’t be real. My mind is playing tricks on me.”
The ethereal bogeyman glided inches above the churchyard’s hallowed ground. The soles of its feet would vaporize upon stepping in the sacred dirt of the meandering pathways. “Are you ready to die?” the menacing, shrill voice taunted while hunting and cornering me in the darkness of my desolate hiding spot—the cold, melancholy resonance frightening all the bats, owls, and other nightlife creatures into hurried seclusion. The masked phantom narrowed a sinister gaze and brandished a mammoth-sized, razor-sharp scythe that cut swiftly through the crisp air and aimed with precision for my neck.
My arms felt like Jell-O as I struggled to push the heavy cement slab to the ground, then jumped feet first into a vacant grave with my hands and arms protecting my soon-to-be decapitated head. The stealthy tormentor cackled wildly and seized my forearm with an uncannily strong and bony grip, delivering a shot of pure ice that raced through my veins and barreled toward my erratically beating heart. My body froze as though a glacier engulfed and preserved me for all eternity.
A Fantastic Early Review:
September 9, 2019
This season we are back with Kellan as he’s once again pulled in a million different directions what with parenting not only Emma but his cousin as well, along with teaching, other family obligations with Nana D, Violet, Eleanor, etc., and being co-chair of a Halloween/Fall Festival being held at Danby Landing, all while trying to complete fixing up his newold house so they can move in. But all is not smooth sailing for the Ayrwick family as strange things have been happening during the renovation process. Conveniently, Gabriel has been away so they’ve been able to stay in the cottage. And the possibility that these things are being caused by the supernatural causes Kellan (though he doesn’t believe) to agree that Eleanor can contact her psychic friend Madam Zenya to see if she can help.
The renovations for the Braxton Campus library also get underway in this book but those are put on hold when during the demolition a body is discovered in the foundation. So now Kellan feels compelled to investigate that situation as well.
I quite enjoyed reading this story, and it’s always good to catch up my friends in Braxton. I also often emulate Nana D, as I also bake pie the first weekend of October. And I think this story has just enough suspense and mystery and humour and just Fall fun to make it the perfect read to curl up with a cool Autumn night, along with a blanket and a hot chocolate.
I’ve asked Jay to choose 5 questions to answer for us so we can get to know a little more about him and his writing.
What’s the worst part of publishing for you and why?
Marketing! I am not a natural marketer or networker. I’m shy. I’m quiet. I’m
an introvert. Social media and online marketing are my salvation because I can
accomplish it from behind the Internet wall. I’m attending my first book
conference this fall where I will have to interact live with readers. It’s scary… yet I
know once I’m there, it will be fine. I ran a 100+ technology organization in my
former life, leading meetings with hundreds of people and interacting with every
level of executive and entry-level worker. The issue is: I don’t like to promote
myself. My approach to life is never push someone to do something. I might
suggest why I like a book, TV show, or food, but I’ll never force it on someone. It’s
hard for me to say “you’ll love my book” because I know someone might not like
it. I also don’t want to pressure anyone into doing something they don’t want to
do. Those aren’t ideal personality traits for someone who has to self-promote
their work. I can do it in small increments but not in-person or to a larger
audience. It gets easier over time; I will admit to that.
D.G. – I can totally relate Jay. Most of us authors prefer to work behind the scenes. Public speaking terrifies me, weird, since I’m a born talker. I know you share a lot of other author’s work, and the saying goes – 80/20 is the way to go – 80% interacting and sharing of other’s and 20% we are certainly entitled to promote our work, but ‘buy my book’ is not the way.
What’s your opinion on self-publishing?
Self-publishing is, like most things, wonderful and painful. I tend to be a
direct guy, so I won’t sugarcoat my response. At this point, anyone can publish a
book. People who have no experience or talent can draft something, create a
cover, prepare formats, and launch a book on Amazon or another sites. Once
marketing and advertising kicks in, the book is out there. Compared to a decade
ago, the number of available books is astronomical. This has made publishing, like
many other technology-advanced fields, thoroughly flooded. Unfortunately,
readers struggle to choose which books to read (there are too many) and authors
can’t find enough reviewers or fans because of it. On the flip side, it provides so
much more opportunity and options for people to choose what’s best for them –
something that we all deserve and need to be successful.
There are positives and negatives that follow this trend… and so, I think
self-publishing is great because it offers an opportunity to talented authors who
aren’t great networkers and can’t find an agent or publisher. It also provides false
confidence to some and can create setbacks. Ultimately, as both a reader and an
author, I look outside of just the book to determine whether something is right for
me. Check the publisher’s and writer’s social media accounts, blogs, websites,
credentials… determine whether it’s a good fit for you as a person before making your decision how to proceed.
D.G. – That sounds like sound advice Jay. And yes, anyone can publish a book, but if it’s a slapped together piece of crap it’s not going to sell, and if it does, after the first terrible reviews come in, it’s no threat to better books.
Do you prefer to only read books in your genre?
No, I like all genres. I will add to that though… I am, at my core, a mystery
reader. I enjoy the ranges from a cozy to a hardcore thriller. I absolutely prefer
series over non-series. I like both contemporary and historical fiction, especially
when it falls within the mystery genre. I’m not an avid fan of science-fiction or
fantasy because they aren’t tangible to me. I don’t usually enjoy those types of
movies or television shows either; I need to understand the boundaries of
something I’m reading or watching. Often, in science-fiction or fantasy, anything
can happen. I’m structured and realistic in most everything I do, so I prefer the
same in my hobbies. That said, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed books from other genres,
but they are neither my normal read nor something I’ll usually accept a book
review request on. My reviews will never be as strong as the author would want
in those cases.
D.G. – It seems we have something in common. I too have a difficult time reading Fantasy or Sci-Fi, and your explanation has helped me understand better what it is that keeps me from reading. But also, as a nonfiction writer, I mostly enjoy nonfiction and historical fiction, family sagas, etc. – stories about people and their lives. But your answer – ‘they aren’t tangible’ is the best explanation.
What’s your favorite mode of writing – computer, hand written,
dictation, and why?
I use my laptop. I edit as I write, so often, I stop and fix things each day
from the chapters as I create the story. I would constantly be erasing and crossing
things out if I used pen and paper. My hands and fingers would probably exhaust
easily too. I can type all day, but I feel cramps in my hands if spend more than an
hour with a pen. I attempted dictation software a few times but failed. Either my
vocal tone or accent is difficult to interpret, or the software isn’t ready for prime
time. I spent more time fixing issues than necessary, so it’s easier for me to just
use a computer from the beginning. I do like to print out a semi-final version and correct it with a pencil to find issues my eyes or software can’t find on the
computer. It provides a good balance, and it shows me what it’s like for a reader
of one of my books to experience the story. I like to walk the walk and talk to talk, so to speak.
D.G. – That’s interesting, and where we differ. I’m a dinosaur writing longhand. That way I don’t stop my thoughts with editing, writing freehand. First round revisions begin when I enter in the computer. But I agree on the importance of printing out a copy to edit in a later stage because our eyes absolutely catch things differently on paper. And lol, love the phrase ‘the software isn’t ready for prime time!’ 🙂
If you could have any of your books made into a movie, which one
would you choose and why?
I would love to see Watching Glass Shatter, my debut novel, made into a
movie or television series. The story is told from the perspective of Olivia, a
widow, and her five adult sons. Chapters alternate between each of them,
showing readers their own personal style, voice, and opinions on their father’s
death and secrets bubbling in the background. It has the drama associated with
popular shows viewers watch today, but it also has a myriad of emotions that
people struggle with every day. The story unfolds in cliffhangers with each
chapter, which would easily become episodes. The book ends with realistic
outcomes and expectations for all the characters; it’s not just ‘we’re happy again.’
I’m midway into the sequel now, and I can definitely tell you that the lives of
these characters mirror the reality of drugs, death, affairs, abuse, fear, and
secrets. Sometimes they are minor, others they are impactful. Readers love to hate certain characters but fall hard for others.
D.G. – Oh yay! I’m excited to hear about a sequel to that book, I look forward to reading it! And I wholeheartedly agree, it would make a fantastic TV series with all the relevant factors many face in life.
~ ~ ~
I want to thank Jay for his wonderful feature here today. I hope you all enjoyed the first of more to come in this interview series.
Visit all of Jay’s books:
List of Books
Braxton Campus Mysteries
You can visit Jay all over social media by clicking on the links below:
Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney
Social Media Links
My thanks to Jay for being my guest here today. And feel free to leave comments and/or questions.