Author Exposed: Andrew Cotto

Most teenagers go through what I like to refer to as an “initiation.” It’s that coming of age experience that seems to be challenging no matter what era your grow up. These days teens seem to have a lot to prove and they all to often stumble along the way. But I guess it’s all apart of growing up.

Please help me welcome Andrew Cotto, the author of The Domino Effect.” His coming of age story is something we can all relate to. Andrew has stopped by to tell us about his writing experiences and his books.

TNW: How long have you been writing?

AC: I began writing in college and then in my spare time afterward for about 10 years. When I got to the point where I felt confident in my abilities, I started focusing on it seriously – that was about eight years ago.

TNW: Have you always written for children?

AC: My first ideas were definitely in the children’s realm, and these were short stories for children’s magazines (though none were ever published). THE DOMINO EFFECT is my first novel, and I was absolutely after that type of coming of age story that has enough breadth to appeal to young adults and adults. My second novel – OUTERBOROUGH BLUES: A BROOKLYN MYSTERY – is a literary mystery, definitely not for children.

TNW: What drives and motivates your writing?

AC: I’m after stories that are entertaining yet also insightful. I want to create dramatic tension while also evoking empathy for the characters, whether or not their situations relate directly to those of the reader. I also attempt to use language in unique and effective ways.

TNW: Do you feel it’s important for writers to use social media? How?

AC: I know that (most) writers have to use social media, though my feelings about it are mixed. I like the idea of connecting with readers, though I don’t like how much of the promotional responsibility falls on authors. I think a lot of time that should be spent creating is now spent on self-promotion. I don’t think this bodes well for author or readers.

TNW: Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

AC: I love the characters and descriptions of Roald Dahl. I love the insightful and compelling narratives of Dennis Lehane. Sherman Alexie uses humor in wonderful ways. James Lee Burke does setting like no one else I know.

TNW: What writing books would you recommend to new writers?

AC: The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop was the one I used most as a new writer. I still go back to it often.

TNW: What advice do you have for new writers?

AC: Immerse yourself in each project you are working on – it’s so much easier when there is consistency to the effort. You’ll find, after a while, that the story leads you to where it wants to go. When I’m really into it, most of my ideas come to me in my sleep.

TNW: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

AC: In five years, I see myself with a couple of additional novels under my belt as well as a tenured teaching position in the creative writing department at an established university. Fingers crossed.

Thanks so much for sharing with us Andrew. Please stop over at Kristi’s Book Nook to learn more about “The Domino Effect.”

You can learn more about Andrew at his sites:

My books
My website

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Lions and Tigers and Teens by Myrna Beth Haskell

If you are a parent putting forth your best effort to raise your teen, help is here. Myrna Beth Haskell has put together a manual that will help you build a bridge over the gap of parenting a teen. Myrna Haskell’s column, “Lions and Tigers an Teens,” debuted in June 2009. It is currently published in 15 states and has a monthly circulation of approximately 500,000. I am offering up a chance for you to win a signed copy of this book. All you have to do is leave a comment with your name and email, Tweet this post for a chance to win. Offer expires 9/21/12.

Title: Lions and Tigers and Teens
Author: Myrna Beth Haskell
Publisher: Unlimited Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-58832-194-7

It’s tough being a parent. It was just as hard 50 years ago as it is now and as it will be in the future. The teenage stage is probably the worst. Parents feel as though their teenagers have lost their minds. On the other hand, teenagers feel their parents are old and don’t understand them. The irony of it all is, that parents were once teenagers and can relate. Someday, these same teenagers will become parents, and the cycle becomes never ending.

To my knowledge, there has never been a guide book or step-by-step reference manual for parenting. When a child becomes a teen, we all know it is a difficult stage. Parents and teens often times need some assistance or advice on how to muddle through trying times. Haskell has provided excellent tips and resources that can help parents better understand the various stages of a teenager and how to deal with the pain and anxiety that comes with raising one.

Haskell has 30 chapters cleverly titled for quick reference if parents are looking for specific help. One of my favorite chapters is Chapter 3: Texting Madness. We can all relate to this, parent or not, because now we see a plethora of teens who always seem to have their noses buried in a phone and their fingers wiggling about a tiny keyboard. Haskell shares a study by the CTIA, the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunication Industry, and their reporting that, “America is in the midst of text messaging mania.” CTIA studies show that in 2007 over 362 billion text messages were reported. Haskell provides texting safety tips and helpful website links recommended by law enforcement to help protect teens from cyber bullies, child predators or other unauthorized contacts.

In view of recent events when teenagers and parents stop communicating and a troubled teen fires a gun into a crowd, one sign to look for is, The Lockout. Chapter 10 takes a look at teens wanting privacy and locking the door to their rooms. Haskell discusses how parents can be more apart of their teens life. Parents can volunteer for school activities and dances. Meeting a teens friends and interacting with them, will give parents a better idea of the crowd their teen is involved with. According to Haskell, “Although your teen doesn’t seem to want you around, your mere presence at school functions, sporting events, and concerts is extremely important. If you’re taking on a more involved role and stepping up to help, she really does appreciate that you care enough to take the time to do so.”

Haskell has developed a keen insight, being a parent herself, on what information wold most help parents who need it. Expert opinions and advice are presented along with “Tips and Tales” from parents who share their personal experiences in regards to handling their teens pertaining to the topics listed in the chapters. There is a lot of useful information that Haskell shares and offers her own humorous insight on what it’s like to raise a teen.

You can learn more about Myrna Haskell at http://www.mymyrnahhaskell.com.