Friday, March 30, 2018

An Interview with Writer Mike Sager of The Sager Group LLC

Please join me in welcoming Mike Sager, who will soon be speaking at the WRITE NOW 2018 Conference here in Raleigh, NC. MIke, please tell my readers a little bit about your writing.  

Mike- I’m in my 40th year of typing the good fight. I’ve written and edited for college publications, alt weeklies, newspapers, magazines and books. I also now publish books and make documentary and commercial films and videos. For the past 26 years I’ve been a writer for Esquire. I’ve done dozens of celebrity profiles and a number of my crime stories have become movies, but I’m most proud of my work as a literary anthropologist, which means I live with groups of people for long periods of time and write about their lives. Over the last four decades, I’ve spent time with a crack gang, teenage pitbull fighters, artist/heroin addicts, wounded marines, football players in Samoa, Aryan Nations troopers, a high school boy, a butler in a ritzy household, Tupperware saleswomen, swingers, Peter Dinklage and many more. I have seven collections of stories.  Kirkus Reviews once wrote: “Sager plays Virgil in the modern American Inferno.” That’s probably my favorite review of all time, besides this one, from The New York Times Book Review, which links me to the chain of writers I consider my forefathers, along with Gay Talese: “Like his journalistic precursors, Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson, Sager writes frenetic, off-kilter pop-sociological profiles of Americans in all their vulgarity and vitality. He writes with flair, but only in the service of an omnivorous curiosity. He defies expectations in pieces that lesser writers would play for satire or sensationalism.”

Nancy- Did you have several manuscripts or articles finished before you sold? If so, did you send them out yourself?

Mike- Over 40 years I’ve had some of the biggest name agents in New York. Now I have a lawyer. Agents are necessary as gate keepers because of the way the system works. Luckily, at this point, I know personally many of the top editors in New York. And I also have my own publishing company, because, frankly, if you don’t have one of the big books at a big publishing house, you can make more money and get just as much help from the publisher if you do it yourself. Over time, as I accrued more expertise, experience and kudos, I kind of became annoyed about the prospect of asking people with less experience and far less accomplishment to pass judgement on my work. This works okay for me because I’ve always been sort of a niche product. Certain people seek out my work. I’m not a huge bestselling writer, though I’ve had a number of best sellers. The most important thing to me:  do the work. I’m with Kevin Cosner: If you build it they will come. I’ve always just tried my hardest to be the best I can be. I still wake up with that intention every morning.

Nancy- Why do you ‘do’ what you ‘do’.    

Mike- I am most happy when I’m typing. I love the craft of making words into art. I love learning about things and understanding them deeply. Over the years I have also learned the joys and gathered the wisdom that comes with empathizing deeply with others who are different than yourself. Visiting other cultures and learning their ways, both domestic and foreign, has given me insight; I’ve learned to find common ground with others; I’ve never failed to make a lifelong friend while doing a story, even if the person’s outlook is very different than mine. All I’ve learned was put most succinctly by one of my subjects, the comedienne Roseanne, who once told me: “All hate is fear; all fear is insecurity.”  The piece about Roseanne is featured in my bestselling collection Revenge of the Donut Boys, which has just been republished as a second edition.

Nancy- Tell us about The Sager Group

Mike- The Sager Group was founded in 1984. In 2012 it was chartered as a consortium of multi-media artists and writers, with the intent of empowering people who create—an umbrella beneath which makers can pursue, and profit from, their craft directly, without gatekeepers. TSG designs and publishes books and eBooks; ministers to artists and provides modest grants; and produces and distributes documentary, feature, and commercial films. By harnessing the means of production, The Sager Group helps artists help themselves, artifex te adiuva. Our most recent project is our series of text/anthologies celebrating Women in Journalism. The first two: The Stories We Tell and Newswomen. We are also featuring a second edition of Elizabeth Kaye’s bestselling Lifeboat No. 8: Surviving the Titanic. I am most proud to say I have been joined in my efforts lately by the addition of my son, Miles Sager, as Creative Director of TSG Films. Working with him is my greatest joy.

Nancy- Did chasing any article put you in physical danger?

Mike- Living with a crack gang in Los Angeles—street violence, drug use, drive by shootings-- and in a Palestinian refugee camp—rubber bullets and mistrust-- both in the late 1980s, were my most dangerous assignments. My friendship with Super Freak Rick James was kind of crazy too. (See Scary Monsters and Super Freaks .) My first job at The Washington Post (after being promoted from copy boy) was as night police reporter at a time when the nation’s capital was roiling with violence; I learned there the taste for danger, and also the taste for the kind of weird attention that violence and mayhem brings to your pieces. My first rule of writing: Thou shalt not bore. Working in the “underbelly” of society never is, and people read for entertainment. I also learned that the way the “criminal element” is depicted in the press is usually hyperbole. I guess it comes down to: Criminals are people too. They’re just working in a shadow economy. But you have to lay down your preconceptions before you arrive. And you have to lay down your judgement to be with people. I reserve that right for the typing process.
Many years ago, on the Monday after I became engaged to be married, I attended a week long swingers’ convention. That was pretty dangerous, too.

Nancy- What is your writing routine like?

Mike- Every day I wake up, eat breakfast, skim the paper newspaper, and go downstairs to my office. I work until noon. I eat something. I work until four. I exercise or watch hoops. I eat and sometimes work for another hour. Through the day I switch projects, depending upon what is due. In the old days I spent a lot of time coaching and parenting. I’m an empty nester now. My partner works a lot of hours and lives in a different house. It suits me.

Nancy- Having achieved your goals, what is the most rewarding thing?    

Mike- My goal was always to make a living typing and to “see how far I can go.” I’m not done yet--though I will say the economic crash of 2008 and the rise of the internet has changed my life dramatically. For most of my career I was a staffer or a contract writer—weekly or monthly checks-- at a major publication. That’s all gone now. So that’s fun. The most rewarding thing is making something out of nothing. To create art is to become a god. After that, it’s hard to have a hobby.

Mike will be a Guest Speaker at the 
Annual WRITE NOW Conference 
presented by the

Register for the
 April 28th conference
 in Raleigh, NC HERE

Mike Sager is a best-selling author and award-winning reporter. A former Washington Post staff writer under Watergate investigator Bob Woodward, he worked closely, during his years as a contributing editor to Rolling Stone, with gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Sager is the author of more than ten books, including anthologies, novels, biography, and textbooks. He has served for nearly three decades as a writer for Esquire. In 2010 he won the National Magazine Award for profile writing. Several of his stories have inspired films and documentaries, including Boogie Nights; he is the founder of The Sager Group LLC.

You can find more information about Mike Sager here:
@TheRealSager  on twitter

Friday, March 23, 2018

Nancy Lee Badger Presents Author Stephanie Queen

I am pleased to present author Stephanie Queen, who took time from her busy schedule to stop by to share details and a free excerpt from her latest book.

Already Gone: Phoenix Agency – a Kindle Worlds novella
Book 1 – Zero Go Series By Stephanie Queen

If Dr. Vicky didn’t save the cartel leader’s lousy life, he’d promised to take her sister’s life in payment.
It was Phoenix Agency operative Roman Danski’s mission to escort Vicky into Reynosa, protect her while she saved the notorious thug with her gift for healing and then get her back out.
It would have been doable if the doc hadn’t been a luscious siren, the kind of woman he never could resist. Her sensual beauty was going to make a tough job impossible.
How could Roman stop the cartel boss from keeping her if he couldn’t resist her himself?

Excerpt: The Phoenix Agency

They served their country in every branch of the military—Army Delta Force, SEALs, Air Force, Marines. They are pilots, snipers, medics – whatever the job calls for. And now as private citizens they serve in other capacities: as private contractors training security for defense contractors, as black ops eradicating drug dealers, as trained operatives ferreting out traitors. With the women in their lives, who each have a unique psychic ability, they are a force to be reckoned with. Risen from the ashes of war, they continue to fight for those in need. They are Phoenix. 
Chapter 1

 Roman Danski arrived at the location for his assigned protection detail ahead of schedule. It was a long, low ranch house with a terra-cotta roof, a small greenish-brown front lawn, and an empty one-car driveway in a better-than-mean-income neighborhood. His watch told him he was fifteen minutes early.
Apparently, he wasnt early enough. It looked like the damn doc had flown the coop. Had she been crazy enough to head for Mexico without him? Or more likely, the Gulf cartel boys had come and taken her themselves against everything that had been agreed.
Why was he not surprised?
Either way, he was dead meatthey were both dead meatunless he caught up with her in a hurry.
Those were the thoughts running through his head as hed left his Jeep in the driveway, then sped into the house and through the rooms. He went out the back door and ran from the back yard to the corner of the boxy house heading to the front where hed parked his Jeep six seconds before. No more than that.
He never saw it coming.
She hit him and he almost went down. Almost, but not quite. He grabbed her and held on while she screamed, pulling her back around the corner of the house with him in case anyone was looking.
He didnt know why he bothered to hide, because if they were out there, they sure as hell had heard her.
What the hell? She got out the words before he clamped his hand over her mouth, gathering himself from the hit he’d taken.
Im going to take my hand off your mouth, but dont scream. Im Roman Danski. Phoenix Agency. I was assigned to bring you in. He removed his hand.
What were you doing sneaking around my houseI could have killed you.
“What were you doing hiding? I thought you were gone—or worse.”
She shifted in his arms, pulling her shirt down and exposing a mound of luscious breast. He hadn’t realized that his assignment, Dr. Victoria White, was a gorgeous young lady, but man oh man, was she ever. He’d expected someone more… studious.
Great. Just damn great.

                           Buy Link:  Amazon  

Author Bio:
USA Today Bestselling Author Stephanie Queen is a romantic at heart and a writer by nature. So of course, she loves creating stories where the good guys always win–and they always fall in love along the way. Although she’s lost count of all the jobs she had before she settled on being a Novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf. She is a graduate of UConn (go Huskies!) and Harvard U and lives in New Hampshire with her family, her cat, Kitty. Connect with stephanie here:

Bookbub     Amazon Author Page     

Friday, March 16, 2018

Nancy Lee Badger Presents Catherine Castle

Catherine Castle stopped by to share her new book! Take it away, Catherine!
Bidding on the Bouquet, released December 6, 2017, is a contemporary inspirational romance and is my third book as a solo author. My other two books are inspirational romantic suspense and a sweet romantic comedy. I also coauthor with my husband under a different pen name. The book’s idea sprang from a news article about a bride who demanded her bridesmaids bid for a spot in her wedding. As you know, fact can be stranger than fiction and often makes a great jumping off point for an interesting story. Bidding on the Bouquet is one of those examples involving a down-on-her-luck heroine and a wealthy, elitist hero. Two people from different social classes. Two different philosophies. One bridal bouquet to unite them. I hope readers will like this fun story.

Book blurb from Bidding on the Bouquet

The chance to catch a bridal bouquet containing a solid gold rose makes underprivileged, down-on-her-luck grad student Marietta Wilson pawn everything she owns to come up with a bid to win a bridesmaid spot in the most prestigious wedding of the season.

When he discovers his sister is auctioning off bridesmaid spots in her wedding party, wealthy, elitist Chip Vandermere is appalled. Not only is it in poor taste, but no self-respecting lady would stoop so low as to bid. Convinced Marietta is a gold digger, Chip sets out to thwart her plans.

A social climber and a social misfit. Can a bridal bouquet unite them?


You are invited to participate in the season’s most prestigious event.
Date: June 17
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: The Vandermere Estate
Event: The auction of bridesmaids’ positions for Chrissy Vandermere’s wedding
Light refreshments will be served
Chrissy is auctioning off a chance to be an attendant in her wedding.
Winners will be escorted down the aisle by New York’s finest bachelors,
and they will procure a bridesmaid-only spot at the tossing of the bride’s bouquet event.
Chrissy guarantees one of the bridesmaids will catch the bouquet,
containing a solid 14-carat rose-gold flower.
Opening bids begin at $100 and are non-refundable. Cash only.
You may make an opening bid higher than $100 if you choose.
Please RSVP by April 30

Marietta dug into the envelope again and retrieved a smaller card and matching envelope.

I, ________________________, will be pleased to attend the auction.

My opening bid is $_______
Should I win a spot, I will be available on August 9
to be part of the wedding party
for Chrissy Vandermere
Jock Sterlingson

Stunned, Marietta reread the invitation. Chrissy Vandermere? The only Vandermere she knew was her wealthy classmate Chip Vandermere, and they weren’t on real talking terms. Nor did they run in the same circles. They only had a few of the same classes and a couple of case studies together in which he had commandeered the group. The guy thought himself a born, or rather a privileged, leader. His attitude had driven her nuts, and, although he was one hot guy who knew he had undeniable sex appeal, she’d stayed away from him as much as she could. She was at the MBA program to learn and conquer, not be someone’s conquest.

Click HERE for the Bidding on the Bouquet Buy Link

Social Media links:

WEBSITE     FACEBOOK     TWITTER    @AuthorCCastle

More About the Author:

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, theatre, and quilting. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her other books on Amazon:  

Friday, March 2, 2018

Nancy Lee Badger Presents Author Josie Riviera

Josie Riviera stopped by to share a few intimate details about her new book. Oh Danny Boy is a sweet contemporary novel. Take it away, Josie!
Have you ever tried something you were afraid to try because it mattered so much to you? I did, when I started writing. Take the chance, everyone, and just do something you love. Because my daughter attends university in Ireland, I have had the opportunity to visit this beautiful country many times and wanted to capture the essence and flavor of one of my favorite places in the world.
Blurb for Oh Danny Boy:
This pot of gold could hold more than they bargained for…
Grand. Just grand. Clara Donovan’s failure to keep her brother from going off the rails—again—is a public spectacle. Including a handsome stranger who puts down his guitar case to help her talk Seamus down from Farthing’s tallest bridge.

Everything about Danny Brady reminds Clara how many times she swore she’ll never again be that pathetic, weak woman who got taken in by a good-looking man. Especially when, the next day, she walks into a new coffee shop in her little Irish town and discovers Danny’s secret.

Danny didn’t lie—technically—about his coffee shop chain. He’s just tired of women going after him for his wealth. Clara is a graceful, fiercely loyal, non-Irish Irish damsel in distress, a combination that tugs at his heart. A heart that’s spent its share of time in pieces.

Danny has never hesitated to go after what he wants, but melting Clara’s defenses will take more than hot tea and charm. He’ll have to prove he’s made of stronger stuff—even when her past threatens to tear her carefully reconstructed world to shreds. 

Buy Links:  

Excerpt for Oh Danny Boy, a sweet contemporary novel by Josie Riviera

“Seamus, don’t jump!” Clara Donovan heard her own cries, the shouts resounding through the misty night air. She raced across the sidewalk toward Farthing Bridge, her gaze riveted on a horror she didn’t want to believe. Her older brother Seamus sat on the edge of a tall bridge with his head slumped in his hands, a bottle of whiskey beside him. The arched stone bridge spanned the River Farthing, connecting the town to a once-popular marketplace.
No. It couldn’t be. Her breath burned in her chest as she took in gulps of dampness and drizzle. Don’t stop. Run faster.
When she reached the bridge, she elbowed through a group of late-night revelers. Several pointed up at Seamus. “He’s off the rails!” someone shouted.
Her brother seemed unaware of the gathering crowd. He swung his legs back and forth like an underwound metronome and stared into the ice-cold river below.
She shook off the image of him on her living room floor several days earlier. He’d been passed out drunk. Should she have phoned a treatment center? No. She could fix her brother’s problems. He simply needed encouragement, surrounded by his loving, supportive family.
Seamus. Gentle Seamus. Kind and fiery-haired, quick to temper, quicker to make amends. Her heart squeezed at the scruffy, dejected man he’d become since his wife had died.
Clara put her hands on her knees and took in calm, even breaths. Quickly, she assessed the corroded pedestrian catwalk leading to the top of the bridge, the skull and crossbones sign that warned Danger.
She stared upward at her sweet brother. “Dear saints in heaven, Seamus,” she whispered. “You promised me that you’d never drink again.”
She stuffed her wool gloves into her jacket pockets and bent to lace her weatherproof boots tighter. There was no time to dash around the river to the street that crossed the bridge, and she certainly wouldn’t ask anyone in the crowd to lend a hand.
She yanked off the “Danger” sign and threw it to the ground. That pressing feeling in her chest, like she was running out of air, slowed her movements. Dragging in another breath, she grasped the slippery wet handrails and stepped onto the bottom rung of the catwalk.
“Missus, are you trained for this?” a man from the crowd inquired.
She glanced around. The man stood a hairsbreadth away. He was tall with piercing blue eyes and carried a guitar case. His dark brown hair had a reddish tinge and his navy wool jacket strained against his athletic form.
“Thanks. I can manage on my own.”
Despite her refusal, she hesitated. Was she trained to climb to the top of a rusted bridge when she was crippled with fear and could hardly breathe? Umm, no. But she was desperate, and desperation made people do things they thought they could never do.
“I insist.” The man set his guitar case on the grass and stepped forward. “Who’s sitting on the top of the bridge?”
“My brother!”
“I’ll follow behind you. No worries.”
No worries. Dear saints in heaven, her brother was about to jump off a bridge.

More About the Author
Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu who constantly needs grooming and live in an old house forever needing renovations. 

Social media:
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