I'd like to introduce a fine fellow who is no stranger to the Blogosphere. Not only does he write great stories with a nail-biting pace, but he is generous and volunteers his time to help other writers, either by showcasing their books or picking their submissions apart and resembling them for intensely helpful and thorough critiques. I've had the privilege of one such critique, and I tell you, this man has an editing eye that is worthy of knighthood, because this rough draft is anything but rough anymore. And so, without further ado, I hereby dub thee and present to you, Sir Michael Di Gesu, Knight of the Cosmic Table!
MDG: Whoa, David ... Am I all that? I'm just a detail oriented guy that enjoys helping others give their works a bit more polish and style. As an interior designer by trade, I try to create a space that represents the client's tastes but adding form and function... Writing is the same principle... It's all about balance, form, and function. When I do a critique, I try to put myself in the voice of the writer and tweak the situation to flow, and add just a bit of shine.
I also believe in setting a stage or atmosphere for my characters so they have something to react to... Our surroundings influence us, so they need to be clearly defined in our writing.
So for me it truly is all in the details. Perhaps that is why I have a keen eye?
DPK: Funny, I've compared writing to interior painting and other home decor stuff before. Interior design is a winning comparison to writing, I see! And you are most welcome. I believe a concord of bloggers and your readers are overjoyed with glee about your knighthood today, so the honor is well deserved, my good sir.
Let's start off with a little groundwork, backgroundy information, shall we? What drove you, an interior designer, to pick up writing? What do you write, and what market are you aiming for?
MDG: Well, David ...
Back in 2009 at the top of my game, with three very lucrative contracts in hand, the market crashes. Our economy fell and so did my contracts and income. I went from a six figure salary to zip. All in a few months.
I was faced with no prospects, no income, and unlimited time on my hands. I had always loved fantasy and was (still am) a huge admirer of J. K. Rowling. So I decided to write my own middle grade fantasy, and illustrate it too. Why not put my art background to work for me ... right? In three months, the first draft was written ... all 125,000 words of it.
Okay, you can ALL stop laughing now.
That was four years ago. I am still editing the final on that novel ... hopefully the last, thanks to our esteemed lady knight ... she was kind enough to do a final critique for me. I am also querying my second novel, a edgy YA contemporary. I enjoy writing in different genres, so hopefully I will have several works to appeal to editors and agents in various markets.
DPK: I hear your plight, good sir. It has been a rough few years, as the economy goes, but I'm glad these changing times hasn't pinned you down. We all look forward to the news of your work getting picked up. It's really only a matter of time, at this point.
Word to the Lady Knights! They kick some serious writing booty!
MDG: Yeah, no kidding. Gotta love the Morg. She is awesome.
Thanks David, I really appreciate that. I have learned so much. Many writers have started with their crafts in their teens and twenties.
I am way older than that. I had written a few things in college, and actually one of my professors wanted to have one of my papers published, but I was more concerned with my art and modeling career at the time, so I kind of blew that off. Funny how things come back to you and bite you in the arse... LOL. I'd do anything to get published now. But I am patient. Timing is everything.
DPK: Indeed, it tis. Now, I understand you live in Florida, yes? I've always wanted to go there. It's on the bucket list, actually. Is there anything I should add to my list for when I finally get down there?
MDG: Actually, I live in Chicago.... I used to live in Florida. I am currently visiting right now.
DPK: Ooooh ... I feel silly. Can you tell us about Florida anyway?
MDG: Florida is a huge state, with LOTS of things to do. Orlando is a must if you are into Theme parks... which I kind of think you are.. UNIVERSAL is AWESOME... WIZARDING WORLD is a must if you are into Harry Potter.
As for things to do. One of THE most memorable things you must do is drive from Miami to Key West. Take your time.... its a gorgeous ride. But first stay in South beach for a few days, then drive to Key Biscayne. Hang there for a day. It's absolutely lovely. Then drive down the keys .... If you can stay a day in one of the upper keys you should. They are like little jewels.
The Pan handle has natural Florida beauty. Sugary sandy beaches with DUNES.... really beautiful. The west coast of the state is also pretty. You get to see dolphins playing in the gulf. An amazing sight.
The everglades is really interesting if you like alligators and exotic birds.... Fort Lauderdale... Really lovely with great nightlife and a stunning beach. It is also the Venice of the US. It has thousands of canals weaving throughout it. Beautiful stately homes on the water.
I mean there is just so much to see.
But what's great about it, you can drive anywhere in the state easily. There are no mountains and the highways are modern and fast. I hope to be living there soon. I want to sell my condo and move back.
IF I'm here, it would be my pleasure to show you around....
PK Hrezo is in the Tampa area and she's a honey. I plan to meet up with her next week in Orlando hopefully. Tampa is another great area to explore. If you need more details. I'm your man....
DPK: That makes me want to buy a ticket and head over there, like, yesterday! And you're right - I grew up in LA, which is surrounded by amazing theme parks. Had a Season Pass to Six Flags every year of high school, too. Too bad I don't have the money for that now ...
Money ... what's up with that?
And holy smokies! You moved to the icy-cold windy city? I say that because I'm no stranger to Chicago. Tell me you've been to Heaven on Seven? I love that place!
MDG: Yes, CRAZY, I know... I am from NYC originally so I had missed the four seasons. When I sold my house in 2004, I wanted to move back to NY, but with real estate INSANE at the time, I couldn't afford what I wanted, so I opted out for Chicago instead. There, I was able to get a condo large enough for me to be comfortable in. Now I am OVER THE COLD! LOL. But I would still like to move back to NYC, but they may have to wait for a while. Florida for now is much more affordable for me and I do like it there too.
Yes, I have been there, of course... The one on Rush.... When I am in the mood for cajun food, that's where I go.
DPK: Here's the universal question to this knighting process - Now that you are a knight, tell us what being a knight means to you.
MDG: IT'S OFFICIAL!
*Jumps up and down*
I'm a KNIGHT! ALL RIGHT!
*Fist pumps the air*
*Lowers head slightly*
Got caught up in the moment....
What being a knight means to me is not all about heroic deeds, shiny metal, or colorful banners waving, it's about a man's ... *Notices sparks igniting from the piercing blue eyes of lady knight* ... clears throat ... woman's ... Person's heart, their soul. Are they honest and true. Someone who will be there for you no matter what the consequences. In today's uncertain times, we need our knights to be a strong and positive presence. A solid rock to cling to in a raging storm. An inner strength, something more powerful than muscle and bone. To be counted among all of you fills me with this strength.
You, Sir David, have a kind heart, an affection for youth to amuse them with your stories of the living dead. Helping them face their fears of death.
And you, Sir Nick, your sensitivity toward special children and their needs is something to be exemplified. Compassion is such a noble strength.
*Turns toward Lady Bennett and bows*
My dearest Lady Knight, your passionate belief in our fellow human beings glows brighter than your golden locks. Indeed, a force like no other.
*Faces Lady Morgan and bows*
As for you, my fine Lady Knight, your strength is in your soul. It shines through the ages and is brighter than any full moon.
I am humbled by your faith in me. Thank you all for this honor.
DPK: *Wipes away a tear*
The honor is all ours, good sir - thank you as well!
Now that you mention it, I won a cirque from you and I handed over the first three chapters of my Undead Road MG novel. I'm trudging through the middle of it now. Your critique was especially helpful, and there was a phrase you used, "economy of words" that has stuck with me since. Tell us what that means. Where did you pick that up?
MDG: *Smiles broadly*
First, I'm really happy that my critique has helped you. As for the reason why I'm smiling, it's because my first novel was 125,000 plus words. And that was for an MG fantasy novel.
Now you all can stop laughing ... Okay .... enough ... we all get it.
Sir David, would you please calm them down?
DPK: *Raises a hand - all goes quiet*
The first thing my first critique partner told me was "MURDER THOSE ADVERBS" ..... I think I had about five thousand... seriously. After six chapters, she bailed. Understandably so ... come on, 125,000 words, please! Do you blame her? So I worked on it myself and reduced it to about 90K. It was my second critique partner who REALLY pounded it into my head about economizing words as you write. In other words, choose your words wisely. Josh Jacobs (who has a fantastic agent and just sold his first book.) helped me so much with this aspect in particular. Showing me how to write a sentence with a punch using as few words as possible.
So from that point on, I learned to economize my words. My second novel was only 50,000 in the first draft. You can always add later. Which I did. Now it's 62,000, a proper word count for an YA novel.
DPK: Spot on! My first novel was about 150K, but then, I was aiming for the adult market, at 15, so what does that tell you? And that particular book may never see the light of day.
No ... it's not a vampire book ...
Murder those Adverbs. True. They're like trolls, really. We should hunt some down after the interview! One more question, and I'll go grab my sword:
If you were about to be thrust into a time warp, what is the one piece of advice that you would share with your fellow writers?
MDG: Hmmm. Interesting question. I have always felt writing should come from your heart and soul. If you write with passion, the words will ring true and honest. It doesn't matter what genre, what time, or what place as long as it's believable and the reader feels the words. Isn't this why a writer writes? We need to express our passions and share them with others.
*Lowers head and catches the eyes of my fellow knights*
I will do my best to add a stronger bond to the Cosmic Laire.
DPK: Seriously, you have an amazing way of expressing yourself. No worries. A gifted asset, and a welcomed addition to The Cosmic Table, you are ...
Hey ... who invited Yoda?
Anyway, well done, Sir! I have your banner ready for you on the side here. Go ahead and save it and use it however you see fit. Thank you for spending some time here and for sharing more about yourself with us.
LET'S HUNT SOME TROLL!
MDG: I am so ready to hunt troll!
But before we go, I'd like to thank my fellow knights for this honor. You are all a fine group of amazingly talented writers and I am thrilled to be part of such an esteemed group. If you even need my keen eye for a critique, I am your knight.
*Bows to the table and draws a jeweled sword from a silver sheath*
TO ARMS, SIR DAVID ... THE TROLLS AWAIT!
* * *
Oh, man, that interview was a riot! Hope you guys enjoyed our "boys being boys" moments - totally wasn't planned. So, that's four knights down and another to go for next month. Who will it be? I don't know yet, but I'll be on the lookout while this troll hunt is underway ...
In the meantime, you can visit and follow Michael's Blog here!
I'm David, and ... as if this interview wasn't epic enough ...