FYI: This is My 2nd Blog

Hi there! You're here at my second blog where I do interviews and book reviews.

In case you're looking for my 1st blog, where I share my IWSG posts and other musings, just go to "The Musings of a Hopeful & Pecunious Wordsmith, SittieCates".

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Author Interview: SittieCates Interviews Peter Cimino



Published Writer and Author


SittieCates: Hello, Peter Cimino! It is such a delight to host you here at my blog for this author interview. Thank you so much. Let’s start off with the basics. Could you tell us who Peter Cimino is?

Peter Cimino: Hello, Sittie! Thank you so much for having me and for taking an interest in me and my writings. I’m very flattered.

Ah, the loaded question, who am I? In short, I am exactly who I am supposed to be, where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing and living the life I am supposed to living. However, I am not done yet, and have a whole lot more to accomplish and achieve. Other than that, I am a proud New Jerseyan (born & raised) now living in the suburbs of Chicago (since 1994). I am a very happy husband, a very proud father. I have a lot of hobbies and passions, with writing being one of them. I try to live my life with the belief that you have two very simple choices in life: Get busy living or get busy dying. I spent far too much time dying, and have been on a journey full of living. The journey isn’t over yet.

SittieCates: Your site states that you were trained at the Long Ridge School of Writing while pursuing your degree in Psychology. Could you tell us more about this?

Peter Cimino: Actually, I took some writing courses while attending Roosevelt University en route to my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I truly enjoyed writing, found it therapeutic and a wonderful way to express myself and be creative. I wanted to explore that a little more so after I graduated from Roosevelt, I took the Long Ridge courses as a way to hone my skills and increase my chances of being published. Some of the things you learn from writing schools like Long Ridge, they really don’t teach you in college. Plus, I wanted to see how good I really was. And in the end, although I knew I had some skills, (and I tell people this quite often) I thought I knew how to write, that is until I actually learned how to write.

SittieCates: I understand that you love sports – typically, softball and bowling. Do you play professionally? Could you tell us more about your experiences, your team’s name, and your current and future activities for these types of sports?

Peter Cimino: I grew up following and playing sports. Most of my first childhood memories involve sports, like watching baseball, football and hockey on television and playing outside with my dad. Through him I became an avid New York sports fan. He had season tickets to New York Giants (football) and New York Rangers (hockey) since before I was born. I am also a New York Mets and New York Knicks fan. I still follow just about all major sports and of course root hard for my teams.

I started playing baseball at age seven and played all through high school. I bowled from age ten through high school as well. I still play on a men’s softball team that I actually run. I also bowl in a men’s league. Softball and bowling are without question two of my greatest passions. I am still pretty competitive, love to perform well and win.

I will continue bowling for as long as I am able. Although, I’m not sure how much longer I will keep playing softball. With my two little boys becoming active in sports now, my spare time will be spent coaching them.

But no, I have never played any sport professionally

 Photo Courtesy of Peter Cimino

SittieCates: I’ve gathered that you have continuously and successfully published a number of feature stories, co-written some, and edited a number of pieces at Sports Life Magazine. Could you share more information about this?

Peter Cimino: This was a very fortunate opportunity for me, one that I will always be very grateful for. As the story goes, unbeknownst to me, I had quite a fan out there while writing for a small sports web site. She noticed my work and recommended me to a friend of hers who had just started a brand new sports magazine, and was looking for writers. Long story short, (Tina, my friend) set up a call with the owner. He interviewed me for about an hour and then set up a follow-up interview with his lead writer. Next thing I knew I was conducting interviews and writing stories.

I authored a total of fourteen feature stories, co-wrote two others with a dear friend of mine and edited quite a few others. I absolutely loved it! I met so many incredible people, conducted some amazing interviews and wrote some amazing stories! I couldn’t ask for anything more! Being a sports writer is a dream job!

Unfortunately, the magazine is on hiatus right now. The owner is reorganizing with the hopes of coming back in the spring of 2013. I am hoping that happens because I truly love that kind of writing. If anyone is looking for someone to conduct one-on-one interviews and turn them into successful stories, my talents are for hire!

SittieCates: I’ve noticed that you’ve written some things about paranormal stuff such as ghost hunting shows, ghost sightings, and psychic kids. I’m kinda curious why you are into such things. How did this liking for the paranormal start?

Peter Cimino: I always had some curiosity about the paranormal, but what put me over the top was the first time I saw medium John Edward on television. I was completely mesmerized by his incredible abilities to communicate with those that have crossed over. From there I started watching Ghost Hunters and every paranormal show that came on television after it. I just couldn’t get enough. Eventually, I joined a small paranormal community and then a local paranormal group. I did manage to go on a few investigations and hope to do more in the future.

I’ve seen John Edward in person on three separate occasions and have had the distinct honor and privilege to befriend (and see in person) Psychic Medium Tiffany Johnson, who is also truly amazing.

I still watch most of the shows. I have learned so much from reading books by John and Tiff, especially. All I can say is, I believe in it, and it completely enthralls me. I am more aware than ever about my own personal psychic signals and signs including connecting with my own spirit guides and relatives who have passed on.

SittieCates: In line with that, I’ve read a particular interesting piece you’ve written about your (then) six-month old child communicating, in a way, with your favorite uncle who is also your Godfather. You mentioned that you had been so close to him for years. You also mentioned in the article that he “had a pretty big impact” on you. Was your uncle’s influence on your life one of the reasons why you ventured into sports and writing? Or was there someone else who served as your inspiration to join sports and also try your hand in writing various topics?

Peter Cimino: Regarding the first part of your question, yes, I am one hundred percent convinced that my son connected with my uncle who passed away back in September of 2007. Small children connecting with spirits, especially our loved ones who have passed away, is not unusual. Their minds are more wide open to the other side as they do not have any preconceived filters to shut these things out. I did write a rather personal story about it.

Regarding my uncle, no, he was not the reason I ventured into sports. That came from my father. Although my uncle did coach little league baseball for years and always made sure I had good new bats. He may have influenced me in some small way regarding my writing because he told me many stories about my grandfather, who for all intents and purposes is the main character in my short story and my novel. I was just very close to my uncle. He was always there for me during the roughest patches in my life. We grew especially close during the last seven or eight years of his life. We had a very special connection. It was private, but I cherished every moment with him and miss him dearly.  

SittieCates: While I was going through your works at your site, I’ve noticed that you write pretty good opinionated articles on business and politics. Aside from the links published at your site, do you have other opinionated pieces published in print or on the Internet?

Peter Cimino: I have been called opinionated from time to time. We all have to stand for something I guess. But, to be quite honest, I really don’t write very many pieces like that. The business stuff I learned from working in corporate America and having some not so nice things happen to me. I think those articles were more therapeutic than anything, but I do like to teach people things if I can. The one or two political pieces I wrote were just off the wall stuff. I probably won’t make a habit out of it. I tend to shy away from controversial and volatile topics like that. But, you never know.

SittieCates: Gauging from the things that I’ve read at your site, I can say that you’ve got a lot of things going. I saw that you have a list of published works for both fiction and non-fiction. If you were to choose a particular area (to focus more on and enhance), what would that be and why? Would you go for sports more? Or ghost articles? Would you prefer doing author interviews? Politics? Business? Would you mainly focus on fiction? Or would you prefer to do more non-fiction instead? Which would it be? And why would you choose that?

Peter Cimino: You know, when I first started writing, I really did not pay much attention to how many pieces I wrote about any particular topic. I was more concerned about writing. As time has gone on I began to notice a trend in topics and fiction vs. non-fiction.

If I had my choice I would certainly write more non-fiction sports stories, especially those that involve one-on-one interviews. Those are, by far, my favorite. I love delving into the human spirit and like finding out and sharing not only the true essence of a sports figure, but who and what they are, and how they got to where they are. I am certainly not done with these types of stories, so, hopefully, there are more to come.

I could possibly write more paranormal stuff, but I would lean towards actual experiences vs. fiction stuff. I don’t really write a lot of fiction per se, however, my novel is fiction as is my short story that comes out in the next few weeks. This is a very particular type of fiction, one that I know a lot of about: historical, mafia-crime. I have been a mafia buff for years and have an entire library of mafia books, both fiction and nonfiction and mafia videos and movies.

To me The Godfather by Mario Puzo is not only the greatest novel ever written, but the greatest movie ever made. Combine that with being a Sicilian and having a grandfather who was a successful businessman and politician, and you have the makings of some awesome stories.

So to answer your question in a very roundabout way, my fiction writings will probably stick to mafia type stuff, or topics I know a lot about. And my nonfiction would be sports, maybe some paranormal and life experiences.

SittieCates: I understand that you had finished your novel, “The Four Corners: A Sicilian Story” and you’re searching for an agent to help you publish this. Could you give us an update on your novel’s progress?

Peter Cimino: I finished the novel in January of 2011 after about four years. I started it while taking the Long Ridge course called Shaping and Selling Your Novel. After successfully completing that course, and getting some very positive feedback and encouragement from my instructor, I stuck with it and eventually finished it.

For about eight months, I went on the literary agent hunt on my own, using the skills, guidance and formats I learned from Long Ridge. Unfortunately, I did not get any bites. Then in November of 2011, a wonderful young lady named Brett Ellen Block connected with me and offered to help me with my agent search. Brett, a successful published author herself, decided to start her own consulting business as the Query Letter Coach.

In short, for a small fee, she helped me completely reshape my query letter, gave me a dozen well-searched agents that have worked in my genre as well as some editing hints on the first chapter. It was through her queries that we discovered the main reason the book has not been picked up is the genre. It’s just not that hot right now. However, there are many signs that this is changing. A new novel based on a Mario Puzo manuscript called The Family Corleone just came out. A blockbuster movie called The Gangster Squad, starring Ryan Gosling, Sean Peen and Emma Stone is coming out in October. Another movie called Lawless about bootlegging during prohibition times is coming out around the same time. There is even a new television show called Mob Doctor coming out this fall.

And of course my short story, Lucky Says Hello will be out soon. It is actually available now for pre-order. All of these should help open up this genre. So, we are going to wait a bit and then we will start querying agents again. We are both very confident that this will get picked up.

SittieCates: I’m sure it will. By the way, could you give us a summary of the story for the benefit of our readers and followers?

Peter Cimino: Here is the book jacket flap description of the novel….

         In the summer of 1929, Charles Lucky Luciano, one of the most notorious gangsters in America, is beaten, stabbed, slashed and left for dead near New York Bay. Pete Carissimo, (known to his friends as Big Pete), an honest, Sicilian businessman and politician, from northeast New Jersey, discovers and recognizes Charlie's lifeless body. Ignoring the dangers of Luciano's mobster ties, Pete instinctively saves his fellow Sicilian. But, he realizes his own life could change forever, because Sicilian honor dictates Luciano will come calling to pay homage and express his gratitude in person. With a volatile mafia war raging in the streets of New York City, and not knowing enough about the gangster way of life, Pete reaches out to an old family friend, Vito Paradiso, who used to run the streets of Sicily. Vito mentors Pete about the secret code of conduct and rules of engagement that drive the world of Sicilian mobsters. Pete catches on quickly and masters the behaviors, mannerisms, body language and lingo of the mafia. During the inevitable face to face meeting with Luciano, Pete impresses the mafia leader. Lucky not only offers Pete his undying loyalty and friendship, he offers him a lucrative business opportunity. Pete accepts under the condition that their alliance remain a secret in order to protect his popularity, reputation and budding political career. He vows he is not and will never be a gangster. The business venture quickly turns into a financial windfall for Pete. Soon after, out of nowhere, a dangerous enemy emerges from within Pete's circles, threatening his world and his life. Pete is pushed to the brink. With everything on the line, Pete finds himself at an agonizing crossroads. He must make the type of decision he never wanted to make, one that could turn him into what he vowed he would never become: a real gangster.

SittieCates: Thanks for sharing that.

Aside from your novel, I know that you also have a short story, Lucky Says Hello. Is there any information that you would like to share about its progress?

Peter Cimino: Lucky is already available to pre-order at MuseItUp Publishing’s website with a 20% discount off the original price. Here is the link: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=538&category_id=69&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1&vmcchk=1&Itemid=1

It will be available in most eBook formats very soon. The cover, content editing and line editing are all complete. We have one more small editing process to go through and then it will be available. Regarding the story itself, this is the fiction tale that actually inspired my novel. I wrote this about seven or eight years ago while taking one of the Long Ridge courses.

I entered it in a few contests and submitted it to a few magazines but no takers. So, I just put it aside. Then a series of events prompted me to revive this story. First, a friend of mine (Kendra), who was doing an internship at a literary magazine, asked if I had a fiction short story, because the magazine was in dire need. The only one I had was Lucky, so I pulled it out and decided it needed to be totally revamped before I submitted it again anywhere. In other words, my writing had evolved so much I realized why it was not picked up previously. So, I started to revise and edit it.

While doing this, I went to a gallery reading with the one and only Tiffany Johnson (the psychic medium). At one point, she asked me if I had a small / nugget of a story I was working on. When I said yes, she said, “You may want to keep working on that.” I told you she was amazing!

Then a few weeks later, out of nowhere, a wonderful professional editor discovered me on Linked In. She read a bunch of my work and saw I was working on a mafia book, which is one of her favorite genres, too. So, she asked if I had a short story in the historical, mafia-crime fiction genre because she felt it would do well. I just happened to be working on one. A few months later, the story was completely restructured, edited and polished. I submitted it to MuseItUp, and the rest is history!

Let me tell you, you just can’t make this kind of stuff up. It’s crazy how life works sometimes.

Here is the book jacket description of Lucky Says Hello.

In the crime ridden, politically corrupt 1930’s it was often times difficult to tell the good guys from the bad. Pete Carissimo, known to his friends as Big Pete, is a successful Sicilian immigrant businessman and politician in New Jersey. He has connections, associations, and relationships in all walks of life—including a clandestine partnership with the notorious mobster, Charles “Lucky” Luciano. Pete vows his alliance with Luciano is strictly related to business that he is not and never will be a gangster. However, in the fall of 1931, he finds his stellar reputation, successful business, and budding political career facing ultimate ruination with his secret allegiance on a head-on collision course with exposure. Pete is backed into a corner and is faced with a decision to do something he vowed he would never do…act like a real gangster.

SittieCates: Your site also states that you have published a YA (Young Adult) Inspirational story, One Woman, One Island, One Choice on an Internet magazine, Angie’s Diary. Would you give us a summary of this piece?

Peter Cimino: Here is the description that is posted on my website:

Tawny, a young single mother, finds herself in the perils of drug abuse, on a downward spiral with no end in sight. Unbeknownst to her, her mother is on to her and she conducts her own intervention. Her inspiration is her grandson, who Tawny is neglecting. A classic mother-daughter confrontation becomes the catalyst a series of life changing events. Like a divine intervention Tawny migrates towards an unknowing gift that ultimately turns her life around.

SittieCates: What’s your favorite part in the story? Why do you like that part?

Peter Cimino: I’m not sure if there is one particular part I like most. I would say I fell in love with this story because it shows the power of the human spirit when guided by the unconditional, pure love of a mother and child. We hear far too many stories about young mothers gone bad, and never got it right. This young lady gets it right. That’s my favorite part. Although this is a fiction piece, it was inspired by a true story.

SittieCates: Let’s talk about typical writer’s problems. I know that you are aware that authors - whether a beginner or a seasoned pro - often come up with some struggles in publishing their work. I understand that you’re in the waiting stage right now with your novel. You already mentioned updates on its progress. So, for this part, could you tell us more about your feelings, and how you are dealing with this and working things out?

Peter Cimino: This is a tough one and at times very controversial, because all writers come from different places, with different views, different goals, different situations, different patience levels. All I can share is what I know and what I have gone through.

What I do know is that anyone can get published because anyone can self-publish. This seems to be the current rave, and there are many success stories going this route; success meaning making money and/or being recognized and discovered by a big publishing house or agent and then being published through the traditional route.

However, in the eyes of the “writing industry”, self-published does not count as being a published writer and author. I know this is going to upset a lot of people, and I do apologize for that. But, that’s just the way it is. I am not minimizing the self-publish route by any means. I am just explaining the differences between the two and sharing how the industry recognizes things.

If we are talking about traditional publishing, such as a print magazine, newspaper, or book publishing house, be it non-fiction or fiction, then I would say there are two critical things that writers need to be aware of. The first is patience! The second is quality of writing.

It is simply not easy to break into print through the traditional routes these days. There are only so many magazines, newspapers, paying web sites, paying blogs, and of course only so many book opportunities out there. It very rarely happens over night. I do believe it took JK Rowling ten years to find an agent. This is why it takes patience. It is also why so many writers self-publish. They just do not have the time or patience to wait. Again, what you do depends on your situation.

The second thing is quality of writing. If your writing is solid you will be discovered. However, there is a rub here as well. There are lots and lots of writers and authors out there that consider themselves good writers, but unfortunately do not have a clue. The best way to find out if you really have what it takes to be published via the traditional routes is to be read and critiqued honestly by professional editors, publishers, authors etc. When the real pros begin to tell you, you have talent or your story is solid, then you can begin to believe it. This is just my personal opinion.

For me, at this moment in time, I only have a desire to go traditional routes with my work. I have been on this solid, methodical path for a while and have no desires to go off course. I have patience and I have time. For me…it’s working.

SittieCates: I agree that with regards to publication, different writers have different goals. What one prefers may not be what the other one opts to do. Thank you for expressing your opinions on this, Peter.

Now aside from your novel, do you have other upcoming projects that you would like us to know?

Peter Cimino: I honestly don’t have anything major going on right now. My focus right now is editing Lucky and getting it ready for publication. Then I will go back to querying and really fine-tuning the Four Corners. What I do with that type of writing will depend on the success of these two stories.

I would like to get back into sports writing, either with the magazine or through some other forum. I am currently working on ideas to keep my name out there, which is very important, so I won’t imagine I will go too long without writing something.

SittieCates: I’m sure that you’ll find something to work on, Peter.

Regarding spending one’s leisure time, if you’re not writing, what particular activity do you attend to?

Peter Cimino: I have a lot of hobbies. During the spring and summer, I play softball. During the fall and winter, I go bowling. I bowl in a men’s league. These feed my competitive spirit and are two things I am extremely passionate about.

I now coach my son’s t-ball team. Next year, we'll both move up to the "coach pitch" league. I will continue to coach him and then my youngest when he gets old enough in a few years. I workout religiously and have been doing P90X for over two years now. I play fantasy sports too; baseball and hockey. And of course, I am always following my favorite teams and watching sports.

SittieCates: For those who wish to have their works published, too, either in print or online, what advice would you give them?

Peter Cimino: Just what I said before….Make sure you write well! Get opinions from true professionals that have been there. Your mom, dad, sister, best friend do not count, unless they are in the industry. It all comes down to that.

Be open minded to constructive criticism. Be willing to learn and change how you do things. Bottom line, do whatever it takes to become a polished writer. That and of course, be patient if you can; especially if your goal is being published through traditional methods, in other words someone is paying you for your work.

Self publishing is nice and you can make some quick money, but being published through a bona fide publisher is where the real money is. I would say if you need money right away, then do a combination of both. Self publish some stuff, but keep submitting work to magazines, newspapers, agents and book publishers. If you can really write, you will be discovered.

SittieCates: For the interest of our readers and followers, do you have any other information that you would like to share?

Peter Cimino: Everyone knows Vito Corleone, the unforgettable dominating lead character of the Corleone family in the Godfather.

Meet Big Pete Carrisimo a charismatic, dynamic and alluring Sicilian business man and politician from New Jersey.

Vito and Pete couldn’t be more similar, yet on the other hand, they couldn’t be more different.

Big Pete is the very real, believable and unforgettable lead character in the short story Lucky Says Hello and in the novel, The Four Corners: A Sicilian Story.

Lucky Says Hello will be available on all e-book formats through MuseItUp Publishing in the coming weeks and it is available now for pre-order on the MuseItUp website.

Other than that, the best place to follow my work is on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/people/PeterCimino/1110279068#!/profile.php?id=1110279068 and on my web site http://www.petercimino.com/. You can find all of my published work on my site. I do have some other things in the works, so stay tuned.
 
Thank you so much, Sittie for this opportunity to share my writing world with you and your readers!

SittieCates: You’re most welcome, Peter. 

For those who would like to learn more about Peter Cimino, head on to his website at http://www.petercimino.com/  or connect with him through his facebook account.

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