Hello my fellow little munchkins. How are you all doing? I am doing well. I am on the second and final post for this blog tour but it is going to be a really long one so please be prepared.
Anyways, why don’t we just get into it?
“Following a family tragedy, 18-year-old Gabe LoScuda suddenly finds himself thrust into the role of caregiver for his ailing grandfather. Between the shopping trips and the doctor visits with Grandpa, Gabe and his friend John try to salvage their senior year, meet girls, and make the varsity baseball team. It doesn’t take long for Gabe to realize that going to school and looking after a grandfather with Alzheimer’s is more work than he ever imagined.
And when long-lost Uncle Nick appears on the scene, Gabe soon finds that living with Nick and Grandpa is like babysitting two grown men. Aside from John, the only person who truly understands Gabe is Sofia, a punk-rocking rebel he meets at the veteran’s hospital. When these three unlikely friends are faced with a serious dilemma, will they do what it takes to save Grandpa? If there’s a chance of preserving the final shreds of Grandpa’s dignity, Gabe may have to make the most gut-wrenching decision of his life—and there’s no way out.”
- This is going to be a short and simple review.
- I ABSOULTLY LOVED IT!
- We have this book centered around family and even though it is still a stressful situation is shows the good and love inside family which we don’t really see that often in most books now a days.
- The writing was gorgeous.
- It was simple yet descriptive and it really hit the point show don’t tell.
- The plot worked perfectly well and gave me a whole new respect for people who are dealing with a situation like this and are helping their family members who are in a situation like this.
- I would have loved to seen more between our main character Gabe and his grandfather and less of the pinning of a girl and talk of baseball.
- The pacing was wonderful.
- When it got to fast it slowed back down.
- When it started to get slow it would go back up.
- All-in-All this book was a cute and interesting ready, however it is not my favorite.
Places to buy the book:
About Frank Morelli:
FRANK MORELLI has been a teacher, a coach, a bagel builder, a stock boy, a pretzel salesman, a bus driver, a postal employee, a JC Penney model (see: clerk), an actual clerk (like in the movie of the same name), a camp counselor, a roving sports reporter, and a nuclear physicist (okay, maybe that’s not true). At heart, he’s a writer, and that’s all he’s ever been. His fiction and essays have appeared in more than thirty publications, including The Saturday Evening Post, Cobalt Review, Philadelphia Stories, Jersey Devil Press, and Indiana Voice Journal. His sports-themed column—“Peanuts & Crackerjacks”—appears monthly at Change Seven Magazine.
A Philadelphia native, Frank now lives near Greensboro, NC in a tiny house under the trees with his best friend and muse, their obnoxious alley cats, and two hundred pounds worth of dog.
Places You Can Find The Author:
What is your writing kryptonite?
Noise and activity of any kind. So many writers I’m in contact with tell me about the music they listen to or the inspiring location with a view where they writer their masterpieces. I’m like none of those other writers. I can’t concentrate, read, or write if there’s anything at all going on around me. My writing space at home is like a padded room to some extent. I close myself off from the world in there and find my real writing space…which is completely inside my own head.
What made you want to write this book?
When I was a teen, my grandfather was diagnosed with Pick’s Disease and I watched my parents act as his caregivers. It was a heart breaking experience, and it made me realize how difficult it is to not only watch your loved one disintegrate before your eyes, but to also sacrifice most of your freedom and a lot of your economic stability to help said loved one live out life with dignity. All the while, a caregiver is knowingly set up to fail. It sucks. There’s no other way to say it. The lingering feelings from my experiences made me want to write a novel that expressed these realities to a younger audience and to allow this audience to walk around in the shoes of a caregiving protagonist. With the disease reaching epidemic levels and only increasing, it is this next generation that will need to play a major role in finding solutions. I hope No Sad Songs gives this generation the forewarning and understanding it will need to accomplish a very difficult task.
If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?
I would tell myself to find a niche and focus in on it. When I first started writing I was all over the map in terms of style and genre. One day I’d write a horror short and the next I’d write a list article for a sports website and the next I’d be writing some lame poetry. I managed to get much of it published over the years, but they never added up into anything cohesive or lasting. Then I found YA literature, which should have been much more obvious to me considering I’ve been teaching middle and high school level students for the past 15 years. Once I wrote my first piece of YA lit (which coincidentally is the first chapter of No Sad Songs), I knew something in my writing life had changed for the better and I was off and running. If I’d only had that focus twenty years ago!
Have you ever had difficulty coming up with an idea for your story?
I usually have the opposite problem, having too many ideas to fit into a story. Or, having too many story ideas building up that I feel overwhelmed by how much work I’ve heaped upon myself. You should see the walls in my house. Totally covered in chalk scribbling of all the future novels I plan to write. Sometimes I have to erase an idea because too much time has passed and I’ve lost the mental thread. I’m usually not in such a good mood on those days.
As a writer what would your spirit animal be?
HAHA! Awesome. I love this question. Without a doubt, my writer spirit animal would be a race horse. Once I have my initial idea and I’ve committed to completing the work, I’m all business. I put the blinders on my eyes and race for the finish line, taking the inside path as often as possible. Ironically, I’m also my own jockey and I have a devastating touch on the riding crop.
What Hogwarts house would the main character of your book be sorted into?
Nice! I love you for asking this question. Gabe LoScuda is the main character in No Sad Songs and he’s been dealt an impossible hand. His parents are tragically lost in one of the early chapters and he’s thrust into the role of caregiver for his grandfather, a WWII Vet with Alzheimer’s. Gabe’s courage and his willingness to sacrifice his own needs and desires for the betterment of those around him would, in my mind, cause the all-knowing Sorting Hat to assign Gabe LoScuda to the venerable house of…Gryffindoooor!
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your character?
I don’t ever directly base a character off a single person in my life. Rather, each of my characters is a mash-up of people I’ve known or come in contact with over time. I don’t think I owe them anything, to be honest. My writing is almost always attached to reality, so there’s no way around the fact that some of my characters may resemble people I know, but that’s really a testament to the creation of reality within a work of fiction more than anything else. That said, I’m thankful to live in a world where I’m able to use my talent for being a fly on the wall. Without it, I’d never have written a single word!
While you were editing your book what were some thoughts that were going through your mind?
I was actually in shock. No Sad Songs is the first young adult story I’ve ever written. In fact, the first chapter of the book is literally the first piece of YA fiction I’d ever attempted, so I was elated when I took the initial pass on my first draft and found myself laughing out loud and tearing up from my own words. I know that sounds kind of self-congratulatory, but my joy in those moments really stemmed from the fact that I had finally realized the kind of writing I should have been doing all along. The other thought that seemed to hover in my brain during these edits was, “Holy hell, there will be actual people out there in the world reading this soon!” Then there was fear. Lots and lots of fear.
Do you Google yourself?
Oh, hell yes! Who doesn’t? Actually, I never did Google myself all that much before the release of my novel, but it’s kind of nerve wracking to have your work out there on display for all the world to see. Soooo, I have found it much more difficult recently to resist the temptation to search my name and see what people are saying about my work. It’s been mostly positive. I suspect if things were going in a more negative direction it would cure my newfound Googling habit pretty quickly.
What word would sum up your book?
Um, awesome? Just kidding. The book IS awesome, but I think the word I’d choose to describe No Sad Songs would be heartfelt.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I used to until I realized I was using that term as an excuse for other actual problems like fatigue, boredom, or lack of research. Now I realize that writing is something I can do at any time as long as I set myself to an achievable, daily goal and write consistently…for me, that’s on a daily basis.
What is your writing process like?
I used to be the kind of writer who’d do most of my planning on the page because I thought over planning would stifle my work. Boy, was I wrong. Since then I’ve developed into the exact opposite kind of writer. I plan. Then I plan some more. Then I keep planning. Then I stop to plan a bit before I start writing. One of the most enjoyable parts of this process is character creation, where I put every one of my characters through an interview process using Proust questionnaires. This not only helps me to learn everything I can possibly learn about each unique character, but it also provides me with tiny threads I can use to lead me into new parts of the story. In terms of the actual writing, I outline and timeline the entire plot and then work back and do the same for each individual chapter in the book. Then I set goals for each week and try to treat each chapter as a standalone. I don’t move on to the next chapter until I’m completely satisfied with the one in front of me. Then I edit and revise and rewrite until I can’t stand it any longer. Then I send it out to trusted readers who tell me how crappy it is and what I need to improve. Then the whole process starts over again.
What advice do you have for other writers?
I’d tell other writers to filter out the noise and never stop writing. Writing is the most solitary profession in the world and it’s easy to lose sight of the time and effort it takes to get even the shortest piece of writing published. People who do not write on a regular basis often view the pursuit as a waste of time because the monetary rewards a writer receives usually don’t come close to matching the amount of energy one typically exerts on a given project. Don’t listen. Keep writing. Reap the intrinsic rewards of completing stories and watching your skill level gradually increase. If you do that, everything else will take care of itself.
How much research do you do for your books?
I write fiction exclusively, so there’s not as much research required as, say, an author writing about a famous person or a scientific discovery or historical event. That said, I do lots and lots of research. This takes the form of traditional library research on the subject matter at the heart of each of my stories, but it also takes the form of reading relevant YA titles out in the market currently. I also try to do experiential research. For example, my next novel focuses on ice hockey. I haven’t played competitive hockey in 20 years, but I joined an adult league and suited up in games for the past two years just to refresh my memory on all the finer points of the game and the culture surrounding it. Book research is important but, as a writer of realistic fiction, there’s really no substitute for personal experience and first-hand observation.
When did you decide that you wanted to become a writer?
I didn’t know it at the time, but I think I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was about ten years old. That’s when I got annoyed at the shoddy storylines in the video games I was playing and decided to rewrite them and store them in my piggy bank for safe keeping. I saw them as treasure, I guess. Funny thing is, I still do almost thirty years later. I became conscious of my desire to be a writer when I was in college, however, and started writing for local newspapers and television news shows. That’s when I realized the true power of the written word and I’ve been hooked ever since.
When did you first start writing?
I’m not sure if you’d call it writing, but storytelling was probably my first foray into publishing. I was five years old. One of my grandfathers (not the one who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s) was very sick and was on hospice care in his home in South Philadelphia. He was too weak to talk much, but he could still smile, and his lips would curl upward each time I sat beside the bed and freestyled campfire-style stories to him. I’m sure they made no sense at all, but I’m also sure they were the most important stories I’ve created to date.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
I’m partial to longhand and I love those giant, yellow legal pads or a Moleskine. I find that I feel more connected to the work if I’m scrawling my ideas across the page with one of those mechanical Bic pencils. I also find that the act of typing in my longhand helps me to clean up my work much more effectively.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
Honestly, the hardest part about writing is selling your work and harder than that is getting people to read it even after it’s published. I think most writers feel like getting their work published is the end of the line. I’m here to tell you it’s actually the starting line. There’s really nothing more mind numbing than spending an entire week firing off query letters to potential reviewers or readers only to hear back from one or two.
What is the easiest part of writing that you consider?
Brainstorming for ideas and conducting all of the prewriting activities I mentioned is the easiest part of the writing process for me. At this stage, nothing is written in stone and there are so many possibilities for the course of the story and the building of setting and characters that I never feel pressured by the decisions I’ve made. There’s also no pressure that anyone other than myself will ever see the pages and pages of notes I’ve written to myself during this stage, so it’s a very freeing experience. It’s like youth in a way. Everything is so fresh and new. Everything is innocent. All of my decisions are correct. Then I start writing and all the ideas I’ve generated have to suddenly be carried out on the page. Much, much harder.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
On average, I try to complete the first draft of my novels in about two months. This is mostly because I don’t want to lose the thread of the story by dropping it half-finished in a drawer and then picking it up months later without having the same feelings or even thoughts in my mind as I had when I was in the writing zone. That said, there are so many other processes that take place before and after the rough draft such as the planning phase, research, drafting, rewrites, and even the opening stages of the marketing process. When you combine all those things, it could take up to three years from the time you create the idea to the time your book is released to the world.
Any tips on how to go through a dreaded writer’s block?
I’ve always believed the best thing to do to cure an injury is to be completely stubborn. That is, if you have a shoulder injury, do pull ups everyday to make it stronger. If you experience writer’s block, the only thing you can do to pull you out of it is write. One exercise I’ve done in the past that has helped me is to randomly select five words from the dictionary. They should be totally unrelated. Then write a 250-500 word story or scene that includes all of those words. Often, the words themselves will inspire or even dictate events in the story. Once you’re off and rolling, the block will become a distant memory.
How did you decide to pick out your book cover?
I was blessed to sign on with a small press where Jon Wilson at Fish Out of Water Books gave me an impressive amount of input into the design of the cover. We worked with J. Caleb Design. He does amazing work and is truly a master at taking a page of notes from the publisher and visually reconstructing a pile of rough ideas into outstanding cover art. For No Sad Songs, we wanted the book to convey the punk rock culture that shines through in the character of Sofia. We gained inspiration from album covers and inserts, especially those of the Sex Pistols. Then we made a list of all the objects in the story that held importance and turned them over to J. Caleb. He turned them into the masterpiece you see today.
Do you think the cover plays an important part of the buying processes?
I know everyone wants to pretend that readers don’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s be real. Yes. Cover art is the very first thing a reader sees as your book sits next to countless others on an endless shelf at the local bookstore. Chances are, if the cover is drab and doesn’t convey the true feeling of the story, readers will never pick the book off the shelf or read even a single sentence from between the covers. A book is really no different than any product you might buy at a store, and we can all admit that a flashy or interesting package on a product has enticed us as consumers to make a purchase at one time or another.
How do you market your books?
Marketing. Ugh. This is my least favorite part of the writing process, but maybe the most important part…that is, if you ever want people to read your book. Marketing is tough for an independent press because many of the large chain bookstores are not all that interested in shelving a book that doesn’t have a massive publisher name behind it. Therefore, we have to take different avenues. At Fish Out of Water we engage with independent bookstores, librarians, and schools to set up appearances and events. We also connect with local media outlets to help us promote these events and connect us to readers. We rely heavily on spreading the word through social media and by eliciting reviews from major reviewers, book bloggers, and even your common reader. It’s not easy, but it’s kind of cool to see your book pop up all across the country and know that your marketing strategy played a part in it.
Why did you choose said route?
This is my debut novel, so it’s really the first time I’ve had to think of marketing strategies. I relied heavily on advice from more experienced people in the industry including my publisher, Jon Wilson, and numerous authors who have enjoyed prolonged success in the business. I don’t think there’s a secret recipe for marketing books, so it’s important to reflect back on the strategies you used and make adjustments as you move forward. It’s also important to always be open to trying new approaches.
What is your favorite quote from your book?
“Keep your nose clean, kid.” If you read the book, you’ll understand why.
How can your readers discover more about you and your work?
You can connect with me on social media to get updates on events and new announcements. I’m on Twitter @frankmoewriter. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram as well. If you’re interested in reading more of my work, you can visit my blog, and for everything related to No Sad Songs, there’s a wealth of information, interviews and even sound bytes over at my publisher’s website.
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I kind of old school, so I hope to see more print books as we go forward, but I think we’re on the verge of seeing lots of new books going directly to e-readers in our future. That would be unfortunate because, for me, there’s really nothing like holding that book in your hands and feeling the pages between your fingers. If we’re lucky, the rise of independent bookstores in recent years may save us from this fate. Consider this your reminder to head out to your local bookstore and support them with a purchase of your next favorite book.
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My reviews reflect my honest opinion and remain uninfluenced despite the JennyInNeverland through which I obtained the book