Sunday, July 17, 2011

Spotlight Interview & Giveaway with Scott Nagele

I am so happy to have Scott Nagele as my guest author this week for the Spotlight Interview.
Brief Bio
Scott Nagele grew up in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. He now lives in Michigan with his wife and son. He enjoys reading American history, cross country skiing, listening blues music, and watching MSU basketball. He is smarter than he looks.

Scott will gift an Amazon Kindle copy of A Smile Through a Tear to one commenter.  This giveaway will end Saturday, July 23rd at
11:59 PM CST.
Just include your email address with your comment if your email is not easily found on your Google Friend Connect Profile page.

From the Story, “The Night We Finally Had to Tell Him” in the book, A Smile Through a Tear: Stories
Katie doesn’t even kiss me hello when I come in the door from a hard day at work. She just stands there and gives me that look she gets when she’s discovered a puppy accident on the living room carpet.
I stare back at her, silent like, for a good long while. Hell, I’m in no hurry to catch it from her, for God knows what, so I don’t ask her what I did wrong, or in any way prod her to start in on me. I just stare at her like I’m innocent until told what I’m guilty of. I know she’ll get around to pressing the charges against me soon enough. She always does. She just likes to stare down my defense plea before I can even build it up. It saves time that way.
Finally, she lets loose with it. “Do you know what your brother went and did?” she asks. Great, now I’m swimming in Floyd’s hot water too. It’s not as if I don’t usually have enough hot water of my own to satisfy my need for regular matrimonial scaldings.
Of course, I have no idea what it is that Floyd went and did. Am I my brother’s keeper? Don’t answer that. I don’t want hear it from you too; my wife and my mother are quite enough, thank you.
In fact, what Floyd actually did is not nearly so important to me as how long I have to prepare for the inevitable phone call from my mother, who will also begin the conversation with, “Do you know what your brother went and did?” Katie’s bad enough, but she’s only disgusted at whatever Floyd went and did in an in-law sort of way. Mom will be disgusted in a blood-kin sort of way, which generally requires a good deal more time until I can stop hearing about it constantly.
“Does my mother know about it yet?” I, quite reasonably, ask.
“Know about what?”
I sure wish Katie would pay more attention when she’s yelling at me. “What are we talking about? What Floyd went and did.”
“What’d he do?”
Maybe if she made some notes ahead of time, she wouldn’t lose her place so much when she’s trying to give me hell. “I don’t know. You’re the one who’s all up in arms about it.”
“Exactly my point. You don’t even know what he did yet, and all you worry about is whether or not your mother knows about it. What difference does it make if your mother knows?”
You’d think after 25 years of marriage, she’d know her mother-in-law a little better than that. But she’s the one riding the high horse tonight, so I let that little observation slide. “Okay, why don’t you just go ahead and tell me what it is that Floyd went and did so I don’t have to go through this whole thing all over again when my mother calls? Tell me, what did my brother go and do this time?”
She can’t seem to decide just who she’d rather skewer, me or my brother, so I give her my “it’s time to get to the point” look to push her over toward Floyd. It works. “You know that big promotion he was up for?” she asks. That would be the big promotion he really doesn’t want but is being pressured to pursue by his family. Katie and my mother are too busy pressuring him to realize that he wants that promotion like he wants a hole in the head. I try to pressure him only in a subtle, brotherly kind of way, so I’ve had a chance to notice what they’ve missed. Consequently, I kind of half know what’s coming next.
“He withdrew himself from consideration!” she tells me, and by her scandalized tone, I half hear, “He kidnapped the Lindbergh baby!”
Nonetheless, I am actually a little surprised by this. I never expected Floyd to go out of his way to get the job. Floyd’s not exactly what you would call aggressive, career-wise. Floyd’s not really aggressive, anywise, when it comes right down to it. But he’s always taken whatever just happened to came his way. He might not ask for promotion, but if someone wanted to promote him, well, he’d take it just to keep from rocking the boat. He’s never, flat out, said no before.
“How’d you find out?” I ask Katie, because now I’m a little bit interested.
“My friend from his company, Andrea, called me.”
“That’s too bad,” I say, meaning that Floyd withdrew his name, not that my wife’s friend called her, or even that her friend can’t mind her own business. “It would have meant a nice raise, I bet.”
“A nice raise, more responsibility, professional respect, all the things he could use.”
“Apparently, that’s not the way he sees it.”
My wife gives out with one of her patented huffs. “What does he know about it?” Sometimes I think Katie’s gotten too used to being a mother. I don’t care who you are, don’t even try to tell her that you know better what’s good for you.
“Well, it’s his job,” I say, like a man who never learned his lesson. “I’d guess he knows a little bit more about it than you and me.”
“Who’s talking about his job?” she asks with that look, like the world is made up of idiots and I’m their duly elected representative. “I’m talking about life.”
“Oh,” I say, because I’m never sure exactly what Katie is talking about until she spells it out for me, and even then. . .
“Floyd’s not a kid anymore. God only knows how many more opportunities like this he’s going to get.” Now this much is true. Floyd is 45 and has a whole lot of catching up to do with respect to most other middle-aged accountants. The thing is, I don’t know what my wife and I can do about it, if Floyd’s not interested.
My wife now explains to me exactly what the two of us can do about it. “Andrea told me that the guy in charge of choosing who gets promoted is out of town for a couple days. If Floyd changes his mind by tomorrow, the whole thing can be fixed so it looks like he never withdrew his name at all. I’ve got a big roast in the oven. Dan, I want you to invite your brother over for dinner.”

Interview With Scott Nagele
Tell us about your current release.

I’ve actually published two books in the last nine months or so. The first, Temp: Life in the Stagnant Lane is a humorous novel about a young man who leaves his career in retail management and starts working as a temporary office worker, thinking there will be less stress. Unfortunately, he didn’t really think through what this sudden career switch will mean for the future of his relationship with his girlfriend. Her parents never really thought he was a good prospect for their daughter anyway, and that was before he accidentally mooned her mom. Worse, he is assigned to dysfunctional offices where he can’t help becoming a threat to the permanent workers with his basic competence. Being a temp is not so stress-free when everyone’s plotting to get rid of you.

My latest is A Smile Through a Tear: Stories. It is a collection of 17 short stories, divided into humorous (A Smile) and dramatic (Through a Tear) sections. The humorous stories include the tales of a high school boy who finds love, and lets it slip through his fingers, in the back seat of a Drivers Ed car; a man who is convinced that he is a railroad; and a four-year-old who can’t understand why his grandma says so many naughty words. The dramatic episodes include the stories of a father trying to protect his kids from a lifestyle that sent him to prison; a down-on-his-luck traveler who must make a terrible choice; and a man whose best Christmas comes at a high price.  All of the stories are very different from each other. Some are historical, some contemporary, and there is even one that is futuristic. There’s a lot of variety, which I hope provides something for everyone.

I think both books sound like fun, entertaining reads.  What can you tell us about your next release?
I’m working on a couple of new things. One is a Young Adult novel about a student who unwittingly sacrifices a promising career in saving the life of another person. It’s a story about how one event can turn a life upside down and the good that can come of it in the end. The other project is a historical fiction novel set on a cotton plantation before the Civil War. It’s a complex story that I have been working on for some time. I can’t say exactly when I will publish either of these, because it is important to me to take the time to get them right. I would hope to publish at least one of them by mid-2012.
Sounds good! I hope you will let me be one of the first to know when they get close to release.  Who is your favorite author?
My favorite author is probably James Thurber, closely followed by Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Hans Christian Andersen. What I love about all of these authors is the skill with which they used language.  They always chose the right word, and made the words flow so smoothly and say exactly what they meant to say.
How do you describe your writing style?
My style depends upon what I’m writing. If I’m doing something contemporary or humorous, my style is more conversational and informal. If I’m writing something historical or very dramatic, my style is more formal. And then there’s another style altogether for the Young Adult piece. That’s why I really loved putting together a collection of short stories. It allowed me to switch styles and tones quite often.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
When I’m writing a novel, the characters are more in the forefront. Once I have the characters, I come up with conflicts and trials for them to overcome. Then I try to think like the character: “What would this character do in this situation?” instead of “What would I do?” I may have a general outline of the plot in my head, but I let the characters find their own way past the barriers set before them. They take me to the resolution, within the framework of what the story is about.
Short stories are a completely different animal. Ideas for short stories usually come to me as the ending of the story. There has to be a point. Then, I work the concept backward to the natural starting point. Everything and everyone in the story is there because they are useful to helping make the point at the end more distinct.
It’s particularly interesting to me to hear about how you construct your short stories.  I’ve never thought of it like that before but it makes sense.  If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?
I don’t know if I will ever actually do this, but I’ve always thought it would be neat to write a long saga that mirrors the history of the U.S., but to set it in the future. As a reader, I love U.S. history. So many times, I’ll be reading a history book about a particular event and think to myself, “That would make a wonderful novel.” The problem is, as I have found out, researching the details of historical fiction takes me a lot of time. I don’t know how far I’d get in a historical series if I had to research all the details to my satisfaction. Setting the story in the future would alleviate a lot of the need for exacting research. You could just take all the fascinating conflicts from history and set them in some future world, make it allegorical, and spend a lot more time storytelling. 
Do you have a Website or Blog?
My website is . It has some information about my books (of course), samples, and background info. There is also a section called “On reading and writing” where I post short essays about my experiences as both a reader and a writer. I also have a Facebook author page: Scott Nagele author page, which I would love for more people to follow by clicking the “like” button on the page.
Do you have anything specific that you would say to your readers?
The first thing I would say is thank you. Most Indie authors will never be able to make a living off of their writing. But just knowing that there are some people, no matter how many or how few, who are enjoying the work, makes it all worthwhile. The second thing I would say is this: if you’ve found an Indie or small press book that you really enjoyed, please tell your friends about it. The little guys don’t get much press, so please help spread the word about the authors and the books you enjoy. You’ll be doing a service for readers and writers both.
Thank you so much, Scott, for taking time out to talk with me.  It was great finding out a little more about you and your books.

Scott will gift an Amazon Kindle copy of A Smile Through a Tear to one commenter.  This giveaway will end Saturday, July 23rd at 11:59 PM CST.
Just include your email address with your comment if your email is not easily found on your Google Friend Connect Profile page.

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