Thursday, September 27, 2007

Guest Author: Nick Oliva, Author of ONLY MOMENTS

8:20 AM 2 Comments
I began writing “Only Moments,” because I challenged myself to write a better book than John Grisham after reading most of his novels. Now, don't misunderstand. That I have a small percentage of his success would be wonderful. I just wanted to write a book that was a bit more meaningful and see if I could get it published. First I had to find good subject matter.

What started for me as a documentation of a wild teenage vacation across country and through California at age 16 and changed my life permanently, morphed into an attempt at showing life's bittersweet ride on the road to acceptance that our humanity is all we can embrace regardless of whatever technology we can muster.

In "Only Moments" I started with the middle section as I wanted to record those experiences for posterity and it was an experience that changed my life and outlook on the world at a very young age of 16. Then without knowing where I was going, I realized that I had to create a climax in the future for my characters and began the futuristic conclusion and then went back and wrote the beginning that leads to middle. Once that was done, I rewrote the entire book. Originally I had the beginning in the third person, the 1970's and forward in the first person, and then the climax back to the third and conclusion of the book in the first person as a symbolic device to show that the main character was living in the past, then went back to his roots in the flashbacks, came back to 2020 and his same situation, and then evolves to becoming a new reborn soul, hence the migration back to the first person or a rediscovery. Unfortunately, no one got it, so I rewrote the whole thing in first person. Whew, I get dizzy just thinking about it.

My influential authors are Kurt Vonnegut, Ken Kesey, Henry Miller, Joseph Campbell, the triple "H"s Herman Hesse, Martin Heidegger, Ernest Hemingway, and my personal favorite is Dalton Trumbo. I don't strive to emulate anyone. I think it is a process that develops like DNA through the generations. Their work is imprinted upon my consciousness and it seeps through my thought process as I write.

I love double meanings and triple ones really excite me but I don’t know if people will get it as they read -especially if they read it quickly without thinking about where I’m going with the verbage. It was much like constructing a huge jigsaw puzzle and all the pieces had to fit with the continuity of the events and plot in the puzzle. I is my hope that once a reader gets to the end, they will want to reread it to see what they skimmed over that played important part in the plot. Maybe I’m asking too much, but I do consciously challenge the reader to think and ponder. In that aspect, a writer runs a fine line between confidence and excess egotism. I hope I stand on the former and the humility of the characters kept it grounded to reality. I’ve had one person (and only one) tell me how terrible the writing was; that the words were “fake” and that the book sucked. Now, not only was this a friend….yes a friend-when I asked him exactly how the book “sucked” I got no answer. He commented that the words used were manipulations and “fake.” I then a got a somewhat apologetic diatribe at the end of the letter of how he only wrote words and they mean nothing. Well to tell a writer that words “mean nothing” is paramount to telling a filmmaker that scripts and cameras meaning nothing. So, I consider the somewhat pugilistic attitude he harbors and don’t let that type of rhetoric bother me. I can recall that most of the best writers in American history such as Poe, Herman Melville, and Henry Miller, were panned and sometimes ridiculed. The classic movie “Treasure of Sierra Madre” was panned and lost big money at the box office. “The Terminator” became a cult classic and spawned two sequels after it did very little at the box office as well. I’ve come to conclude that a “success” is a relative indicator that has little to do with what really is. If money is made and mass media takes over, a bomb becomes a blockbuster. If the book appeals to a more specific smaller demographic, it may or may not breakout if word of mouth is strong enough. It’s like the old saying goes, “I can’t tell you what good art is, but I know it when I see it.” Everyone has different takes and tastes. You can’t please them all. I have many other very deep meaningful comments written in detail from very talented people who are total strangers to me, from all over the country, and these I cherish. Criticism is fine when it is constructive. “Your book sucks” is ignorant and demeaning and without intellect. As I responded to him,“If it is that abhorrent to you, put it down and stop reading it.” I haven’t heard from him since. I mean, I do understand the other side of the situation. I have read Faulkner, but I do not like reading him but I would never ever demean this man’s incredible works or that of Steven Hawking, or Albert Einstein (whom I love to read but most others might find boring). I love reading non-fiction but sometimes no matter how good the writing is it may not be my “cup of tea.” I still respect the writing, period. Don’t get caught up in the game. Just be true to yourself and balance it with humility.

Now a word about Publish on Demand and the place it is beginning to carve into the formerly exclusive literary world. Because of the perceived and actual problems it has been difficult to get reviewed because of the Publish On Demand stigmata. Many books that should have never been published are being published and listed on internet sellers sites such as Amazon.com. The floodgates are open and there is money to be made convincing would be talented and non-talented people that they too, can be published and have that shot at Oprah’s Book of the Month Club. There is a huge debate throughout the industry and my opinion is the harsh criticism from most websites exclusively created to promote the self-interests of the owner of that site, it a bit unwarranted. Yes there are some POD’s that are taking one’s money and publishing garbage, (I used a POD but did not pay a cent for it to be published, but they are in some cases as guilty of doing the same) but it is not always the case. These vociferous tirades on the subject are an overreaction of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Let’s face it, the publishing world has always been an exclusive enclave of “country club” mentality and this new wave of POD’s and electronic distribution is a threat to democratize the business and the publishing business has been in trouble for many years. If JK Rowling and the Harry Potter series had been published by a POD, would the validity of the writing be in question? Does the way something is brought to print affect the quality of the work? I think it is a transition from the old to the new and in the process there is pain, stupidity, and competitiveness that obscures the art for its own sake. If the stories hold up, and the literary quality is there then it should not matter. I am proud to have a book that I hope turns the lights on in a room and I can only hope that those who read it see things they haven’t before. Maybe I’m nuts, maybe my book really does “suck.” For these and other questions the jury is still out. However, I will leave the arguing over the particular way it is brought to the public to others. Do you really care who publishes a book you cherish? Do you even look for a label or know which business entity it is? Does it matter if it says Doubleday, Bantam, Lulu, Mcgraw-Hill, Penguin, Publish America, or Houghton-Milflin?

Remember, it’s about money and unless you are a celebrity or a murderer or both, you have little chance of a major publisher signing you unless you are a proven commodity. Sometimes the difference between a panned novel and a successful one is sales. Money talks and however others try to disembowel you and your book, the sales of it are all that counts in many aspects. A lot of people think Donald Trump is obnoxious and classless. Do you think he cares? Trust me. I worked for him and he doesn’t care about what anybody thinks about him, he just never gives up and makes money.

Top all of the above with the massive amount of books being produced right now and you get the visual of gallons of water trying to pass through a small funnel at once. Many people think that the world needs another book and that their story is totally unique. They expect the world to arrive at their door pounding for every word typed daily without any effort on their part. With the advance of self-publishing and computers the market is flooded with those who think they will be invited to be on Oprah next week. Humility is a virtue usually as one looks in the past. I spent years coming very close to the publication of this book through the Irene Rodgers Literary Company, but as close as it was, it didn’t get published. I eventually put it on hold for years until I was motivated to attempt it once more. After a near-death experience in October of 2004, I became hell-bent to get it published.

I must have gone through 300 query letters before a major agent like Irene decided to represent me. It is almost a foregone conclusion that without an agent, you will never get into the major publishers. The market is much too tight and the amount of submissions are massive. Every person in the world thinks that they can tell their life story and with the technology today, everyone can. You are part of 3 billion + people in this world. Do the percentages. One percent of 3 billion is 30 million, one tenth of that is 3 million and one tenth of that is 300,000 and that is roughly how many books get published each year. That means you have a slim of a chance to be a part of 300,000 books that are for sale. The odds are much higher for it to become a best seller, if it gets on a shelf. Multiply that by a factor of maybe 20 if it is self-published or internet based. So, take a moment and think about that. That’s a sobering thought! So don’t get your hopes up or your expectations too high. On the other hand, do it for you! That’s who counts anyway. You did it, you accomplished an incredible thing. Don’t downplay it because you aren’t on Oprah, or the movie of the week isn’t based on your book. Life is about the little things. Enjoy them and be proud! Smell the roses.

One great thing is that I have met many great people who are willing to give of themselves without strings attached. The book is new; my immersion into this world is new so any help is always appreciated. One never stops learning and one thing leads to the next, and so on. I have other things on my plate as my restaurant Wyatt’s (www.wyattsdininghall.com) trying to find time to market both the book and the restaurant, time for working the stock market every day from 6am to 1pm Monday through Friday, time to write the next book on my near death experience, and finally getting time to do the audio book for both. Dorothy Thompson has been a key person that I met through another author of the book "The Art of the Business Lunch," (Robin Jay - The Art of The Business Lunch - Buy the Book) Robin Jay, with whom we shared a webmaster, Arlene the owner of AMD Webdesign.( AMB Web Design) I had already contracted a high image public relations company and in retrospect spent far too much money for their services. I got a few radio interviews that resulted in not one hit on my website and neither did I get one book review, not a one. I have learned much about the saturation of books on the market and the prejudices that abound in this industry. I wish that I had met Dorothy Thompson and her “Pump Up Your Book Promotion” a few months earlier. She is a tireless promoter who goes beyond any other person I know to ensure that her authors are taken care in all aspects of her business. She is under appreciated and overworked and deserves much more recognition than she currently receives.

The Backstory that I placed on my website for the novel (www.onlymomentsbook.com) is as intriguing as the novel itself. Much like the character Chris, I came back with a different understanding and as I fought to come back to the living, the transition left me with a totally changed perspective. It was my life imitating my own art.

In short, I recovered, although my left leg is still disabled from nerve damage that is more than likely permanent, I moved on with a new determination to get this book published among other things. This non-fictional subject matter will be the basis for my next book, to share the incredible things I’ve been through with my near death experience and how it showed me that the things I believed in, the core of my beliefs, were really right in line with what I went through. This reinforcement of my life’s search renewed the vigor of discovery within me and regardless of the medical problems that I face daily, I live life knowing what is to come and unafraid of death.

Many people avoid wanting to talk with me about it. I think their religious beliefs or perhaps their own disbelief of anything metaphysical keeps them from wanting to hear the experience. It is almost as if it is a threat to their perceived "blanket of security" that their faith and/or lifestyle keeps them from being open minded to other possibilities of life after death. It is not just strangers and friends, it extends to my own family. No one wants their applecart upset.

I live everyday to the fullest with no regrets. Passion is what brought me to learn the things I’ve learned and my life’s experiences is all that I have. I’ve been to the other side and I know it is this life that counts. Come what may, passion is the key for anything one does so whatever I’m doing I’m doing to make myself happy, to create self-love-the hardest love of all. Let them talk about me when I’m dead, I’m living each day, each second happy that I’m who I am, where I am, what I am.

To get back to the book, the wonderful experience of love in many forms is central to book's core. Self-love is just as important as the love we have for others and whomever that "special" person is. The message is live your life to the fullest everyday! Don't expect life to treat you kindly and the "road" will be bumpy with potholes and dangerous curves, but it will take you places you have never been as long as you stay on it and that is the important part. Stay on it! Don't give up no matter what. Death is over-rated and the other side is an eternity. I know. I was there. Stay awhile and let time heal and be good to yourself and as the love of Chris' life tells him to remember that "Love is all there is. Never lose that gift."

“To receive the grace of God, one’s hands must be opened upwards.”
-A loosely interpreted saying attributed to many prophets and spiritual people of different faiths including St. Augustine

“May the four winds blow you safely home.”
-The Grateful Dead

Nick Oliva
Author, “Only Moments”
http://www.onlymomentsbook.com/


Monday, September 24, 2007

Historical Romance and Me by Hazel Statham

12:00 AM 0 Comments


At the age of fifteen, I devoured books by Austen, Sabatini and other like authors and found a whole new world of Historical Romance opening up to me. Thus came my compulsion to write about that world and over the next few years I wrote three books. Initially I wrote only for my own amusement but when a work colleague discovered my writing she became my first reader. My readership soon spread to include the other girls in the office and I found myself having to write faster and more often to keep up with their demands. I was almost grateful when I was promoted and moved to a different department as I could then return to my normal rate of writing. It was at this point that I discovered Bronte's 'Jane Eyre'. I adored the brooding, angst-ridden hero, Edward Fairfax Rochester and although I didn't try to recreate him in my writing, he none-the-less left a lasting impression. Books by Georgette Heyer were my next revelation. 'Regency Buck' was the first one I read and from there on in, I was hooked.

As work and life became more demanding, I wrote less and less. I became a wife and mother and gradually my writing ceased. I still read Historical Romance but never attempted to put pen to paper. The urge to write did not come upon me again until I returned to work when my daughter started to school. When the office was quiet, I found myself writing. At first, it was just snippets of scenes but those snippets soon evolved into the first half of a Georgian Romance called 'Consequence'. Again my writing was put aside until several years later when I was forced to retire from work due to ill health.

Much against my wishes, my husband insisted on buying me a computer to help occupy my time as I was loath to sit around the house doing nothing. Said computer arrived and once I had mastered my reluctance to use it, I looked around for something productive to do. 'Consequence' immediately came to mind and within a short while I completed it. Although I initially started writing again as therapy, it soon became a compulsion as I was drawn into the world of Historical Romance once more.

I had no thought of publication but wrote the heroes and heroines closest to my heart and it took much persuading for me to agree to submit my work. I now have three books due for publication with Wings ePress. August, 2007, 'Dominic', which is a light-hearted romance that despite dangers and misunderstandings tells of the delightful, if somewhat unconventional courtship of Dominic and Sophie. January, 2008 'My Dearest Friend', which is a story of deliverance, retribution, misunderstandings and love, and June, 2008, 'His Shadowed Heart', which asks the question, can you mend a shadowed heart?

What happened to 'Consequence' you may ask? It is still regarded fondly and I frequently promise myself that I will re-write it for the current market but for the moment, it remains a dear friend.

Hazel Statham
Author of DOMINIC
http://www.hazel-statham.co.uk/


Monday, September 10, 2007

Guest Author: Dwayne G. Anderson, author of PARTIALLY HUMAN

2:58 PM 1 Comments
My name is Dwayne G. Anderson; the G. stands for Gerald, after my late grandfather. I’m a young Canadian author who has found a way to express myself through written words. My books tend to have a hidden message to the reader depending on the theme of the story. Whether I’m writing general fiction, science fiction, romance, or fantasy, he has a story to tell, and important lessons of life to teach others.

“Partially Human” is my third book. Unlike my first two books “Alien Conflict” and “Hellfire Apocalypse”, where the rough draft only took a week to finish, “Partially Human” took me three months to finish the first draft. I then spent three years improving and proofreading the story while searching for a publisher. The publication process for this book was the hardest so far because the story was rejected by every publisher, the only publisher who did accept it for publication went out of business before the process was completed. Then he found Infinity Publishing, and finally, this first true masterpiece was in book form.

My writing method is simple and easy to follow while painting a clear picture of the scenes in one’s mind. Important issues of life are tackled in the stories, in Partially Human for example, friendship, love, being different, prejudice, acceptance, and toleration.

What inspired me to write Partially Human were my own experiences with being different. Diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at age sixteen, I suffered many hardships because of my “difference”. My brother and his friends cracked jokes about me, once he even called me a “handicapped kid”. Many people had a hard time accepting me as an equal individual who could still lead a normal life; I had very few friends, and was always an outcast in school. Now, these experiences have strengthened me into a man who is determined to face and overcome the challenges and obstacles life throws at him.

Even without an agent, I could still become a published author. The first book “Alien Conflict” was published by PublishAmerica, though because of the high price of their books, and their lack of reliable services such as editing, it didn’t sell many copies, I haven’t gotten a royalty from them for a while now. The second book “Hellfire Apocalypse” was a slight improvement over my first book, but not long after publication was completed, the publisher went dead. I got no royalties. Still, even despite the poor sales of these first two books, I was determined to find success. I don’t write for money, but rather, because I found something which I enjoy, and wishes to share those experiences in life as lessons taught to others through the stories I tells.

Still, I have found a bit of success as a writer as everyone in my hometown of Naicam now knows who I am, and I’m now better respected as an individual for those accomplishments. I have several more works planned in the future, including a sequel to both Alien Conflict and Hellfire Apocalypse. I will continue to devote my time to what I enjoy best in life, for writing is one of my few talents, and I wish the best of luck to others who wish to follow this path.

Dwayne G. Anderson
Author of PARTIALLY HUMAN
http://www.geocities.com/andersondwayne/dwaynegand.html


Friday, September 7, 2007

Five Ways to Publish Your Book by Yvonne Perry

12:00 AM 1 Comments
Writing a book is the easy part. The hard part begins when you attempt to publish the book. I’ll share the five options I found as I considered publishing my book, MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: True Stories about Death, Dying and Afterlife. I’ll also tell you about a new trend-setting publisher that is changing the way books get to market.

Option One: You may find a mainstream publisher who is willing to take a look at your book, but if you’ve ever tried to pitch a book you will realize that the rejections are extremely high and the possibility of having a publisher pick up the tab is not very likely. You must be able to market yourself and have a tough skin when it comes to rejection. Even if you do get lucky, you will still have to do a major portion of the marketing, so it helps to have some extra money to use for publicity. While mainstream commercial publishers and university presses have budgets for advertising and promotion, they tend to only use their resources to promote highly visible personalities whose books are easily sold by the power of that person's notoriety. These publishers will rarely risk a dime on the unknown author, and if they do, the window of time for the book to be deemed successful is roughly six weeks. If your book doesn't justify its costs in that time, it is back-listed and disappears from print. The author has little recourse, and can only wait out the time period until he can purchase back the rights to his book.

Option Two: is to use a “print/publish on demand” (POD) or vanity publisher. Most of these companies will accept ANY work from ANYONE, but you can expect to spend upwards of $1,000 and that will not get any copies in your hand for that price! That will cost you about $5-6 per book. You may do all the design work yourself or you may choose a la carte services or packages that include editing, designing the cover, formatting the page layout to their specifications, fulfilling orders and marketing the book. The POD will help you obtain an ISBN and list the book on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other major chain bookstores, but remember whoever owns the ISBN, owns the copyright. You may think you are self-publishing, but unless you purchased the ISBN under your name, you may very well have given your publication rights to the vanity publisher. One good thing about POD is they do handle distribution and order fulfillment. When someone wants to purchase your book, they will print a copy, ship it, and pay you about 30% of the purchase price as a royalty. I checked into three companies: iuniverse.com, 1stbooks.com, lulu.com and booksurge.com. They each offered about the same thing for nearly the same price.

Option Three: I checked into printing the book by using a local commercial printing company. The best price I found was three cents per black & white page. A 195-page book would cost about $6.50 including the cover (which you design) and perfect binding. If you want the book in color, the price could easily make the book cost more than you can sell it for. The printer I used allowed me to print as many or as few as I wanted since they offer digital printing—the same digital technology Pods use.

It is most important to have someone proofread your text before submitting your file because the printer will print exactly what you send without making an edits or doing any revisions. If you print the book in this manner, you will still have to market the book, fill and ship orders.

Option Four: Publish it as an eBook. This is the least expensive way to publish, and people do actually buy eBooks. I had a graphic designer create my cover image to use for promotion of the book on my Web site. I set up a business account with Paypal and added my ISBN to my product list. They created an html code that I copied to my Web site. When someone makes a purchase, I receive an email notification. I respond to the email by attaching the PDF of my book and sending it to the customer. It would be better to have an auto responder email the eBook to the customer upon purchase but Godaddy, the company who sends my permission-based newsletter, does not offer an auto responder.

Option Five: Hire a publisher. I have found a medium-sized independent press called Nightengale Press that combines the best of both worlds. A contractual fee covers the costs of artwork design fees, graphic design of the book, an author's website and affiliate program, uploading of files to a print-on-demand and off-set mass production through Lightning Source, the first press release about the title, and all the associated costs of registering the book in the proper agencies for cataloging the title and tracking sales.

What makes this company so different from the old world view of publishing is clear. Not only do they take care of order fulfillment and distribution, offer industry connectivity to all online and bricks and mortar bookstores reporting sales back to Ingram and Baker & Taylor, they also pay 70% net royalties to the author and even repay the author’s contractual fees through the sales of the author's books whether in bookstores, on the internet, or directly through back of the room sales, or through any other marketing means. Furthermore, the authors retain the rights to their books, and can at anytime request release from the contract with a simple letter and thirty days notice.

Nightengale has criteria the book must meet before it is accepted into production. Therefore a short query letter is needed to introduce the book. You will still need to set aside some money for publicity, but this company offers some group rates to its authors who want to chip in and take a full-page ad in a major publication.

Good luck in publishing no matter what method you choose.

Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and the owner of Write On! Creative Writing Services based in Nashville, Tennessee. She and her team of ghostwriters service clients all over the globe by offering quality writing at an affordable price. If you need a brochure, web text, business document, résumé, bio, article or book, visit http://www.yvonneperry.net/. Be sure to subscribe to the RSS podcast feed and the free monthly newsletter about writing, networking, publishing and marketing. Yvonne is the author of RIGHT TO RECOVER: Winning the Political and Religious Wars over Stem Cell Research in America. http://www.right2recover.com/


Monday, August 20, 2007

WHAT DO WOMEN WANT - A MALE ROMANCE WRITER'S POINT OF VIEW by CJ Maxx

12:00 AM 0 Comments
Let’s start out with the biological stuff. Women want alpha males. This is true, of course, but happens much more in romance novels than in real life. There are only so many alpha males out there and some of them are jerks. There’s an unlimited amount available in the fertile minds of romance writers though and that allows many women to find the ideal male vicariously on the pages of any number of romance novels. And, you can find a man that will do just about anything you want him to do, and to you, metaphorically speaking, of course. This is one of the reasons, maybe the main reason for some, to read romance, fulfillment of fantasies, your fantasies.

But what do women want in real life? Oh, there’s a small percent that will land alpha males although they may not resemble those from the romance novels. So, when women look out there at the rest of us imperfect males, what are they hoping to land? Short answer—someone that will love them—as they are.

A woman wants to be the most important thing in her man’s life. Forget the old girlfriends; cut those apron strings; your drinking buddies just moved down about twelve spaces on your priority list; watching sports on television isn’t a beer-drinking Saturday and Sunday afternoon ritual any longer; in other words, pay attention to your wife.

A woman wants romance. A man wants sex. We’re talking apples and oranges here. Desire, arousal, climax isn’t the same for both. There are numerous things that will knock down desire in a woman. A man’s job is to keep those things from happening. An overtired, overstressed woman is not looking for sex. There’s nothing romantic from a man’s point of view in overcoming these factors but if you want great sex, instead of grudgingly slam-bam sex you need to step in and fix things. Coming home, opening a beer and kicking back in your recliner while she cleans up and cooks after a hard day at work isn’t doing it. A hard day at work plus cleaning and cooking at home equals no sex. That’s just one example. There are numerous things happening daily that interfere with what both want. Helping out around the house, bathing the kids, fixing things, running errands, all those things make life a bit easier on her will have an impact on your love life.

A woman wants to feel desirous and that means she needs to feel good about herself. The male needs to tell her how beautiful she is, how luscious she is, in other words, tell her what she wants to hear—and mean it. She wants to know that you want her, not just sex. Not only does she need to feel good about herself she needs to feel good about how she looks. Clothes make the woman isn’t just a saying. “I look hot in this!” “You sure do, honey.” That’s a conversation needs to take place occasionally. Let her spend the money.

There are times when a woman just wants to be ravaged and spontaneous sex does happen—and it’s great. But, most of time woman want to enjoy the romantic interlude and that means one thing: slow it down. Arousal is not instantaneous in woman. An aroused woman is what a man really wants and taking your time; learning what she likes and taking your cues from her will pay dividends. I can’t say enough about an aroused woman. If a man has this as his goal, bringing his woman to a high state of arousal, he’ll have a sex life that could not be better.

The final step is climax. For most men this is a one shot deal, pun intended. Most women can be multi-orgasmic, and, if this is so, that’s what should happen, every time. A woman who has four or five or even more orgasms is a woman who’s going to look forward to the next time. Trust me.

C.J. Maxx
Author of IN THE ARMS OF A WARRIOR
http://www.cjmaxx.net/


Monday, August 13, 2007

Author Strangefacts (Or How I Learned to Stop Stressing and Love the Chat) by PG Forte

7:22 AM 0 Comments
I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m actually pretty shy. The kind of person who’d almost always rather do-it-myself than ask for help—no matter what ‘it’ is. Someone who once paid extra to spend two glorious days alone at a beautiful Caribbean Beach Resort...while it was closed. Introverted enough that the idea of ‘solitary confinement’ seems like it should one of the perks of prison life, rather than an additional punishment.

I know. Not quite what you’d expect of someone who writes erotic romance, is it? But it’s a character trait I think I share with a lot of other authors. Although, in my own case, I can attribute it to having Saturn seated square in my first house, practically conjunct with my ascendant (a random Astrological observation I toss into the mix just because I can).

Being shy made author days and online chats something to avoid at all costs. And then, as luck would have it, I won a coveted ‘Staff Pick’ spot at Romance Junkies. Three full days of online chat time.
Oh, boy. Can we say Time to Panic?

In the weeks leading up to the event I was convinced I’d have nothing to say; that readers would steer clear of the forum in droves, that I’d end up turning the forum into the virtual equivalent of a ghost town. So what if I had ten books to promote? I couldn’t just post an endless string of excerpts, review clips and promos could I? I was there to interact with potential readers, not scare them away.

But what the heck could I talk about?

I personally think non-fiction authors have an edge at this kind of event. They’re de facto experts on whatever subject they write about. They have a built-in soap box, an issue, a topic to expound upon. But what can we poor writers of romantic suspense and erotic romance claim to be experts on? Life? Romance? Sex?

Oh, yeah. Try and expound on that for three full days. Especially in a PG rated forum!

I don’t know when—or how—I first hit upon the idea of using some of the subjects I’d researched in the writing of my books as jumping off points for discussion, but the idea was a life saver. Because, in the course of writing ten books I’d learned an awful lot about an awful lot. I wasn’t any kind of expert but I could discourse knowledgeably on a wide variety of topics—from keeping bees to walking dogs. From Astrology to Yoga.

They were all topics I had a more than passing interest in. Better yet, they were all topics I was happy to learn more about. And, with a dozen or more readers participating at any one time, there was usually someone online who knew as much, if not more, than I did. We learned from each other in a surprisingly lively and reassuringly interactive chat. But, best of all, they were all topics that led naturally to the posting of relevant excerpts from my books.

Those three days passed more quickly than I would ever have believed possible and the whole event was a huge success. Not only did I sell more books in that one month than I had in the entire previous year; not only did I have a total blast, but I also overcame my fear of chatting.

All in all, an experience I’d do over again in a heartbeat. Introversion or no introversion.

###

PG Forte inhabits a world that’s only slightly less strange than the ones she creates. Filled with serendipity, coincidence, love at first sight and dreams come true...it also bears an uncanny resemblance to Berkeley, California.

Happily married for a whole bunch of years, she and her husband currently share their home with only one teen (down from a previous high of three) a random assortment of pets and an unknown number of magickal slugs...oh, don't ask. You don't even want to know.

Dubbed an ‘author to watch’ by Euro-reviews, her critically acclaimed Oberon series was also named ‘personal favorite reads of 2005’ by reviewer Carrie White (of Book Worm Critics and Sexography).

Although her writing runs the gamut from dark-edged paranormal romantic-suspense to won’t-take-itself-at-all-seriously romantic-comedy , there’s one thing you can be sure of: It might not hit you right away but, sooner or later, there will be heat. 'Cause PG...it’s a name, not a rating!

You can visit her website at http://www.pgforte.com/!



Friday, August 10, 2007

The HIGH COST of Selling Your Book by Robin Jay

10:00 AM 0 Comments
Thank you for having me on “Be My Guest,” Dorothy. I’d like to take this opportunity to share some important information with you and your guests about a question to which I could not get a sufficient answer when I was contemplating selling my book. The question that stumps most authors is “Should I sell my book or self-publish?”

Most first-time authors dream of selling their book to a big publisher so they can continue to write one great book after another, do guest shots on the Today Show and live a celebrated life. While the occasional SUPER DEAL does happen for first-time authors, it’s not the norm. Whether you are working on fiction or non-fiction, the field of publishing is unlike any other.

My agent tried to explain it to me this way: “If you self-publish, you will earn more per book, but sell fewer books. If you sell your book, you’ll earn less per book, but your publisher will likely be able to sell MORE books than you would by yourself. So it’s a tough call,” he said. And although that was the best advice I was able to get, I’d like to share with your readers the REAL truth and numbers behind this statement.

There are many other reasons to sell or not to sell. One of the questions I heard frequently was, “Do you want to be a publisher…or a writer?” Never having been a publisher before, that was hard to answer. Even as a published author, I still do a lot of the work that a self-published author does. I ship books out (sometimes in bulk and sometimes just one-at-a-time). I have an entire closet devoted to shipping supplies and I’m fortunate enough to have a 3-car garage and one car, so storing 1,000 or more books is not a problem for me. Plus, living in the desert eliminates the threat of mold or mildew on my inventory of books. If you live in a one or two bedroom apartment, you may not have the necessary room to do your own book fulfillment and your climate should be a consideration. If you consider yourself a writer, then you need a publisher to do all this “dirty work.”

What is this dirty work, besides converting your home into a publishing warehouse? There is so much involved in self-publishing – from buying your ISBN codes, registering your book with the library of congress, typesetting and graphic design to selling, advertising and marketing. If you don’t want to do all this, then you definitely want a publisher. But keep in mind that you will still have to carry books, send them out, and market yourself and your book for as long as you want to see it sell.

With regard to the type of deal you will be able to get, keep in mind that as authors, we are not just in competition with other authors. We are in competition with Hollywood stars, pop culture icons, big business CEOs and established journalists. Who are YOU? You may have heard that you should work on your “platform;” who knows you, what ELSE do you do, why are YOU the one to write this book and why should we buy it! If you cured cancer, the world would beat a path to buy your book.

But what about someone like me? Well, I am the “Queen of the Business Lunch,” who had personally hosted more than 3,000 client lunches and I saw my sales increase by more than 2,000% because I knew how to treat people! WOW! That’s impressive. But not by the world’s standards! It was, however, enough to get me a relatively small, but standard, book deal with Career Press. In fact, I had three agents ready to sign me when I chose Al Zuckerman at Writers House. So much for coming close to Bill Clinton’s 2 Million dollar deal with Knopf! It just isn’t likely to happen to first-time authors.

I know of just two exceptions. A friend of mine, Steve Pavlina (www.StevePavlina.com) is one of the Top 100 Bloggers in the WORLD (not the country, mind you….the WORLD!). He recently received a relatively huge offer to write a book. See where a platform will get you? He’s the only one who has done what he has done and the world wants to know how he did this. His website offers what he terms, “Personal Development for Smart People.” (You should visit it; Steve is a genius and offers help on most personal development topics.)

The other example was from Mr. Zuckerman, who got one of his clients an $850,000 advance, the largest ever for a first-time novelist. By the way, he also represents Nora Roberts and Ken Follett. So, with regard to your platform, get out there and make a good, strong name for yourself. Every little bit helps. Do something positive and unique.

Now, back to the question of whether you should sell your manuscript or self-publish. I have done both. I originally self-published my book and managed to sell about 1,000 copies of that book, right here in Las Vegas, even before I had web support or any kind of internet marketing campaign. As a professional keynote speaker and corporate trainer, I was able to sell them in the back of the room whenever I did a presentation (http://www.robinjay.com/). This number may not seem very remarkable, but if you haven’t seen the statistics on book sales, you’ll eat this up!
According to an article by Chris Anderson in the July 17 issue of Publishers Weekly, in 2004:

• 950,000 titles out of 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies
• Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies
• Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies
• The average book in America sells about 500 copies
• Only 10 books sold more than a million copies
• Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000
• Nearly 200,000 new titles are published each year

If you aren’t a speaker and you aren’t writing non-fiction, then how are you going to sell your books? A website is a great start….but how are you going to promote it? Do you have a large advertising budget or an incredibly large network of friends who will each buy 1,000 copies? It’s possible that you could sell some books that way, but a great work of fiction needs a publisher.

As a non-fiction writer, I have actually been able to sell as many books as my publisher! Between us, I am in one of the top percentiles of books sold, according to these Nielsen numbers. I’m well past the 5,000 copy mark and a good deal short of the 100,000 copy mark. I must acknowledge that my publisher has sold the foreign publishing rights to my book in NINE languages so far – the most Career Press has ever sold on any of their titles! To do that yourself, you would have to travel to the Frankfurt Book Fair and hope to meet with the right people. The channels of negotiation that my publisher’s rep uses are well-established. Good luck getting in with the various publishing reps from all over the world. I know I could not have done this myself.

Now, let’s look at the dollar difference. This is the information that no one could give me when I was trying to decide if I should sell my book to a publisher. The standard deal is 14% of net. Plus, remember you won’t have the luxury of pricing your book; your publisher will decide what it should sell for. Amazon.com can sell your book for less than you can because they actually get a deeper discount than you will when you buy it from your publisher. My self-published book was $19.95. I paid about $3.00 each to print (which I now know is high – it should have been more like $2.00 a book.) I could discount my books by 15 or 20% and STILL make a nice profit per book. Pricing your book is not the end-all, but it’s important. When you sell to a publisher, deciding on the price will be out of your hands.

Say your publisher prices your book at $14.95. You get to buy them for 50% off. That’s $7.50 a book. You can hardly afford to discount them. After you pay for shipping, your net profit per book, (if you sell it directly), is about $6.99 each. And if someone buys your book at Barnes & Noble or other bookstore, you’ll get 14% of net, so that’s $1.05. But wait! Amazon qualifies as a deep discounter. They are able to buy your books for less than you are able to! They get 55-60% off – so they are paying just $6.00 a book. And because they are a deep discounter, you will only earn 7% on those sales! Are you with me so far? You might earn a whopping forty-two cents from any book sold on Amazon. This is crazy! But this is the case when a first-time author sells their book.

Here are the bottom-line numbers that will take your breath away:
Imagine you sell 5,000 copies of your book. The book is priced at $19.95 (let’s round it up to $20 each.) That is $100,000.00 in sales. Sounds GREAT – doesn’t it? We could all use $100,000.00!!!
• If you self-published, now subtract your printing, artwork and typesetting costs, along with a small PR/publicity launch budget…say $20,000.00 (though it may be a bit higher).
Your net profit on this book would be $80,000.00!

• You sell your manuscript to a publisher. THEY pay for the typesetting, artwork, and printing costs. THEY also pick up the small PR/publicity campaign.
Your net profit on this book would be $5,000.00 or LESS!

Agents, publishers and others who are in the know about publishing will tout the “cache” of being published vs. self-publishing. It’s true. As a speaker, it has helped me to be a “published” author. Now, thanks to self-publishing and POD opportunities, ANYONE can write a book (and they do!) There are a lot of lousy books out there now. Being published helps to distinguish your title as being good enough that a publisher felt it was worth buying and publishing. A self-published author may have a harder time getting interviews with reliable media sources. That’s not to say a creative writer couldn’t generate a lot of publicity.

There is one more catch that I need to share: your publisher may expect you to commit to buy a certain number of books. They may offer you a discount on your first order, but after that, you will probably be able to buy them at 50% off cover price. If you are in the position to commit to purchasing a large number of books, this can influence the deal.

If your book is priced at $20.00, and you commit to buy 5,000 copies at 50%, you are, in essence, covering their initial printing costs (and then some!) Let’s see….5,000 times $10 each….that’s $50,000 in committed sales – before they even have to print your book! If they print in China, paying about $1.50 a book, and pay $5,000 for a small PR launch, AND pay their typesetters, editors, sales teams and an artist, they will still net more than $25,000 from your book deal…before they’ve even sold ONE book! You don’t have to pay for your books until they are published, but knowing that you are going to can make a publisher breathe easy.

You might think you have to cater to them, but look again- you are practically THEIR client! Interesting perspective, isn’t it? Of course, if you only commit to buy 1,000 or 2,000 books, they still have a degree of risk.

When you consider the Neilsen numbers on book sales, you might wonder how acquisition editors manage to keep their jobs! If so few books ever sell more than 100,000 copies, then how are they choosing the books they want to publish? This is another reason why publishers LOVE celebs and CEOs! They are well-heeled and can guarantee a certain, large number of sales from the start. It’s a lot like a producer hiring Tom Hanks to star in his movie; Hanks practically guarantees your film will become a blockbuster.

Also, a CEO may commit to buy 25,000 copies of their memoirs, planning to distribute them to their shareholders. And pop culture icons (like Dr. Oz or anyone else that Oprah recommends) are also going to assure huge sales numbers. Bottom line? It’s a BUSINESS! You need to think like a business professional instead of like an author – at least while you are making this all-important decision!

If you still dream of selling your book, start by creating a book proposal. If no one is going to buy it, would you still want to write it? If you are writing it with the pure intention of selling it, then sell it first. There are several great books on writing proposals; choose your book proposal book based on your chosen genre. Then get an agent and sell it before you waste any time writing it. The average proposal requires about 100 pages of story, including a table of contents, a treatment (a summary of your story), marketing information (who is your audience and why are YOU the one to write this story), your platform, how do you intend to promote your book, and then a sample chapter or two.

If you are committed to writing your story, then forge on. Get it written, rewritten and self-publish it. If it’s a commercial success, you may eventually be able to sell it for a nice sum. Legends about books that sat on shelves for years before becoming a hit, like “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” are far and few between. Some self-published authors ultimately hit it big because their books are innovative and they have their finger on the pulse of pop culture or business, as with Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” Remember though that you still want to create a larger than life platform. Publishers came to Kiyosaki AFTER he had made his book a huge success.

And finally, I’m sure you’ve heard that the promotion of a book is ultimately up to the author. I can’t emphasize the importance of this. I work full time on promoting my book and building my speaking career. You will probably also need help. If you have a loving spouse or can coerce your kids into helping you, you will have a better chance to succeed.

It helps so much to know where you are headed. Few aspiring authors can comprehend what it takes to become a successful author. Being a great writer helps a LOT. But becoming a successful author is so much more than sharing a story. Passion is vital, but we need to be aware of and remember that this is a BUSINESS! I wish that someone had shared the nuts-and-bolts numbers with me when I was contemplating the sale of my book. Knowing what I know now, I probably still would have decided to sell it for the reasons I listed earlier. Whichever path you choose to take, be fierce about your success. I hope this knowledge has helped you. I wish you the best.
Robin Jay
Author of THE ART OF THE BUSINESS LUNCH
*****


Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Importance of Setting by Marilyn Meredith

12:00 AM 0 Comments
When I was teaching for Writers Digest School many of my students were good at dialogue but often forgot to let the reader know and "see" where the conversations and action were taking place. Setting consists of the time, place and mood of a story and can help shape your story idea.

You always need to know where your story is taking place. Is it going to be in a real place? If so, it is important that you know everything about that place so a reader won’t be thrown out of the story by something being wrong. If the setting is fictional, will it be more vivid than an actual place? My Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series is set in a place much like where I live.

However, I changed the name and moved the town of Bear Creek about 1000 feet higher in the mountains because I wanted better trees. At least that’s what I always say, but what I really wanted was to be able to move the geography around a bit and change some of the places that my characters frequent. (Judgment Fire and Calling the Dead.)

When making up a place, you definitely need enough details to be convincing. This is particularly true for science fiction and fantasy. The Harry Potter books are probably the best example of this.

Romances often are set in exotic or faraway places, large cities with mansions and expensive restaurants, in unusual and interesting businesses. Settings are extremely important to the plots.

Any historical novel or story should contain lots of period detail, what the houses and furniture are like, the food that’s eaten along with other details of daily living. What happens must be accurate for the time period.

When writing suspense or mysteries, the physical setting should somehow contribute to the suspense. It can darken the mood through the descriptions of the locations and the weather.

Science fiction might be a future far advanced from the present, but it must be believable. Often in science fiction the plot will develop from the setting.

Be careful not to put too much description of the setting in. You want just enough to convey the essence of the place. Years ago I edited a wonderfully written novel about a soldier’s experience in Vietnam during the war. The author wrote pages and pages of description of the jungle, leaf by leaf. It was wonderfully written, but there was just too much. The reader would have been able to "see" the scene with about 1/4 of what was written. Unfortunately, the author was too much in love with his words to get rid of any of them and a wonderful story never found a publisher.

Don’t forget to add weather, smells, and how things feel. Put color into your descriptions.

A writer who does an exceptional job describing Louisiana and other locations, using all the senses to do it, is James Lee Burke. Though his mysteries are dark and often brutal, the descriptions of the places are poetic and lyrical in flavor.

The setting should be the back-bone of your story. It can move a plot forward, create atmosphere or tension, and it also can affect a change in your character. If you think of your novel or story as a movie in your head, viewing the setting of each scene as your character acts and reacts, seeing and experiencing everything through your character’s eyes, that’s what you want to get down on paper in such a convincing manner that the reader will see the same movie.
--Marilyn Meredith
Author of JUDGMENT FIRE
http://www.fictionforyou.com/
http://www.marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

*****


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Inspiration Behind Earrings of Ixtumea by Kim Baccellia

12:01 AM 3 Comments
The main inspiration behind writing Earrings of Ixtumea goes back to the first day of school in my bilingual classroom. I taught first graders and one of the assignments was for each child to draw a picture of himself. Imagine my surprise when I saw some of my students color themselves white, blonde, and blue eyed. I found out that my student’s idols included Britney Spears and Xuxa, a Brazilian children’s television host, who was blonde, blue eyed, and very fair. Also a number of the telenovelas actresses were blonde too.

But it wasn’t until I attended the bilingual/bicultural graduate program at Cal State Fullerton in the early 90’s that I learned more about the culture which I ended up finding was mine too.

My own grandfather was the child of an Italian immigrant and the daughter of Mexican migrants. My grandfather was ashamed of his background and refused to speak of it. After my great grandmother’s death a number of people even changed her maiden name thinking that would erase who she was.

I remember going to Olvera Street in Los Angles to find out more about my great grandmother. I found the reconstruction of the same church where they were married. And I even found their marriage written in Spanish verifying who she was and the names of her parents.

It was a long journey for me finding the truth about my Mexican background. No one wanted to admit it but I refused to give up. More than once I felt her spirit guide me to the truth.

In Earrings I wanted to have a teen find out about her rich culture and heritage. I also wanted her to see how beautiful her people were. I hope others see this in my story.

I feel that TV and the movies have made some progress in showing Latinos in a more positive light. I love America Ferrera. I pictured her as the original Lupe when I started writing this story. Also Salma Hayek has been great with her shows, one of which was Frida, one of my favorite Latina artists. I hope more will come out. Especially more on the history of Latinos in this county. For example the civil marches for migrant rights lead by Cesar Chavez. I was surprised how many people don’t know who he is.

If I do write a sequel to Earrings, it would first take place in our world as Lupe searches her cultural background and finds others who will share with her some of the history of Latinos in this country. Of course she'll have to go back to Ixtumea. With her handsome warrior, Teancum, by her side.

Kim Baccellia
Author of Earrings of Ixtumea
http://www.kim-baccellia.com/

*****


Monday, July 30, 2007

GUEST BLOGGER: Marilyn Celeste Morris, Author of THE WOMEN OF CAMP SOBINGO

9:07 AM 0 Comments
A number of people have asked me what was behind The Story of Camp Sobingo – the “real” story. I have no ready answer. I was only an 8-9 year old kid in 1946 in that military compound so far away from the country of my birth. It was while I was writing Once a Brat, about my experiences as an army brat accompanying my army officer father all over the world in the days following the end of WWII, that the image of my mother telling me that one of the women in the compound had died, sprang into my mind. And not only had she died, she chose to end her life there. I often wondered why a woman would destroy herself, what kind of dark forces in her childhood would convince a person that death was the only way out of the terrible pain?

So, being the incurable writer (story-teller that I am, I made it all up.

The four women in the story are composites of women I have known throughout the years, some stories are true, others appear quite by accident as I sat at my keyboard and allowed the characters free reign to do as they pleased. And often the results were a complete surprise to me. I began wondering why the beautiful Leah Damon would want to kill herself, and imagined a troubled childhood, a feeling of being “different” from the others in school (no doubt a mirror image to my own childhood where I was always the new kid in class, and do girls here wear Peter Pan collars or sweaters?)

My mother is portrayed most nearly true to form. She is the West Texas farm girl who marries a soldier and becomes an army wife, following him to the literal ends of the earth.
Maggie is probably my alter-ego, if I would let it out to play. She is a brassy, bossy, fun-loving woman who takes all the challenges life throws at her and almost literally spits in fortune’s eye.
And Trudy. Ah, yes, Trudy is the shy girl who marries into wealth and power and yet she follows her husband to make a home for themselves in a distant country, where she can be herself instead of one of the Cavanaugh Women of fame and fortune. Years later, she finds her own hidden strength, and a weakness that led her to believe events that were not true.

Perhaps the following will describe more in detail the process I undertook getting this story from my imagination to the publisher’s website.

A Note to the Reader

There really was/is a Camp Sobingo, located outside the capitol city of Seoul, South Korea at the end of WWII. This military compound’s cookie-cutter “quarters” was home to the women and children who joined their Army officer husbands during the US Occupation. The camp had a school, a post exchange, a dispensary, a commissary, and even a movie theatre (think “MASH”). Ever-present, however, was the military presence, both Korean and our own US forces, and the tyranny of the Russians located across the 38th parallel, who merely annoyed the dependents with their random denial of electricity to the American contingent.

Most of the Americans had deployed to other assignments before June 25th, 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea. Those remaining escaped safely, but “The Land of the Morning Calm” would never be the same. In 1954, my father was ordered back to Korea as part of the Military Advisory Group. He took a short drive to what remained of Camp Sobingo, and sent snapshots of our former quarters, (Hq.G-27) which had been pock-marked by aerial strafing, and natives were stripping the floorboards for fuel.

The window, where I had sat and dreamed a 9 year old’s dreams and played with my homemade doll-house populated by models cut from the Sears, Roebuck catalog, was boarded up. More pockmarks surrounded the framework.

An unusual childhood, one might correctly assume, yet I was not alone in this kind of adventure. There are vast numbers of military brats and wives of servicemen who carry the same experiences from different countries. Thanks to the power of the Internet, we are finding each other. Two such sites that assist in this process are:
www.military-brats.com where you may register so that others may find you, and www. Overseas-Brats.com. Another organization of interest is the American Overseas Schools Historical Society, which recently broke ground for a museum to be built in Wichita, Kansas, housing such “sacred artifacts” as my 4th grade report card from Seoul Dependents Elementary School. Many of the schools currently in operation overseas are being closed as our military presence is no longer required.

Researchers and historians will be astounded by such a treasure trove detailing one small but important part of our nation’s history.

Marilyn Celeste Morris
Author of THE WOMEN OF CAMP SOBINGO

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

GUEST BLOGGER: Elena Dorothy Bowman, Author of THE GATEKEEPER'S REALM

8:11 PM 1 Comments
I am an author who writes in several genre's including: futuristic science fiction, and mystery romance novels that have a touch of the paranormal running through them. I started writing fiction seriously during my lunch hours at work. I needed the diversion since most of my writing at that time was devoted to technical writing. With my first published novel, I guess it started with my smoking. Yes, I used to smoke. I don't now, haven't for many years. But one day while sitting in my office during a break, after a real rough morning, I lit a cigarette.

I watched the curled smoke from my cigarette rise toward the corner of the office disappearing into a crack in the wall. I watched this for several minutes wondering where the smoke was going. Was it just being swallowed up into the wall, or did it vanish into the nooks and crannies that were hidden from view and led to God knows where. Needless to say, my imagination took hold and before I knew it I was writing the first chapter to my science fiction/mystery/romance novel Sarah's Landing-I-Contact. I have since taken the smoking aspect out of the story and replaced that part of it with a human being — the lead character — which ultimately led to the birth of four complete novels in The Sarah's Landing Series. All four books in the series have been released in ebook format by Write Words, Inc., ebooksonthe.net. The print editions will be released sometime in 2007 by their imprint Cambridge Books.

My fifth published novel, a Romance/Suspense/Mystery Thriller, The House On The Bluff, first came into existence due to a mysterious, seemingly uninhabited house on a ledge that
overlooked the ocean. A place where I had never seen anyone enter or leave in the many times I had visited there. It was as if the house sat there waiting for something or someone. It was a foreboding looking house, especially on a cloudy day.

Still, there was something majestic about the way it stood its ground against the ocean crashing up against its seawall, and the mystery surrounding it — just added to the equation. This, too, lent itself to a three book series entitled The Legacy Series. All three books in the series have been released in ebook format by Write Words, Inc., ebooksonthe.net. The first two books in the series have been released in print by their imprint Cambridge Books.(http://www.cambridgebooks.us/).
We come to my eighth published novel, Time-Slip, in the Romantic Paranormal Suspense genre. At present, it is only available as an e-book, but hopefully it, too, will be released in paperback. This novel had its birth while researching ancient histories and lost civilizations. The thought occurred to me as I read certain books that what if, what they say is true, about a continent that disappeared in the Pacific? What if it all did happen exactly the way they say it did?

But what if it all wasn't lost? What if a part of it was trapped in a sort of bubble, but no one, just by looking, would ever discover it? What then? What if some young archaeologist decided to search for ancient artifacts and was caught in a seaquake, an undersea earthquake that opened the door to a portal that only the Earth remembers —and to an undersea world that shouldn't exist? This, too, will be released in print sometime in 2007 by Cambridge Books. More about all of my novels, excepts and reviews can be read on my website: http://sarahslanding.com/ or http://elenadb.home.comcast.net/.

Elena Dorothy Bowman
Author of The Gatekeeper's Realm

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Nightmare of Booksignings by Susan Gregg

10:13 PM 0 Comments
When my book The Toltec Way came out, I went on a book signing tour of the West Coast. When I got to my first book signing, the store had forgotten they were going to even have a book signing. That could have been my first clue. I spent 3 1/2 weeks on the road going from town to town signing books.

Now don't get the wrong idea, some of the book signings were wonderful.
I got to meet so many wonderful people. One night while I was waiting for people to show up I sat in the back row. I forgot my picture was on the back of the book and just sat there watching people gather. Finally the woman sitting next to me said, "I know who you are are you supposed to be up front?"

I feel silly sitting behind a table with a pile of books and people scurrying by trying to avoid me so I refuse to do a book signing unless I get to do a talk as well. One of the bookstores had shelves that were about 4 feet high. When I started my talk there was a handful of people
sitting in the chairs. As I talked I started to see disembodied heads appearing over all the shelves. It was great.

At a bookstore, I think it was in Seattle, there was only a schizophrenic and a homeless man who really enjoyed the cookies. Some day I hope to have people lined up around the block, just waiting for me to sign their book, but for now I'll just enjoy my virtual book tour.

Susan Gregg
Author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Short Meditationshttp://www.susangregg.com/



Monday, July 16, 2007

WHY I WROTE WEEKENDS by Lindy S. Hudis

9:04 AM 0 Comments
What can I say? I grew up reading. Books were, and will always be, one of the great loves of my life. As a child, a read Dr. Seuss, then grew up to read Judy Blume. I loved how she would put a story together. Then, as I got older, something amazing happened to me: I discovered Jackie Collins! I think that she was truly an inspiration to me. As I got lost in her characters, and their incredible situations, that is when I knew that I wanted to write fiction. I wanted to do what Jackie did: to take the reader away. I wanted to reader to feel that they are in some kind of exotic place, doing wonderful and crazy things. The only question was: what do I write about?

Back when I was an aspiring actress, I met a man named Joe in Los Angeles. He was an actor, and did commercials and soap opera work. We got to be friends, but I liked him as more than a friend. He just never knew. He had the most gorgeous blue eyes, and delicious blonde hair (he was the typical California pretty boy, but I didn’t care.) I guess I am a sucker for a handsome face. All of my male characters are sexy and beautiful. I do get inspired by men, because I feel that they are fascinating. A writer friend of mine once told me that I “hit the nail on the head” when it comes to writing about male sexuality. That was one of the best compliments that I could ever have! Yes, it is true. I love men. The do inspire me, captivate me, and intrigue me…but I digress!

One day, Joe just disappeared from my life. I guess he went to New York or something. Whatever, I just never saw him again. So, I sat down at my typewriter (I had no computer then.) and began to write about this beautiful man named Joe. I wanted to describe him in a way so that the reader could see what I saw, what I was seeing in my mind’s eye. I threw in a little bit of my personal fantasy, a bit of the California setting, and just let Joe take me where he wanted to go. I just sat and typed out 22 pages, just for therapeutic purposes. Then, I took the pages, stuffed them in a drawer, and forgot all about them. I never thought….

Cut to eight years later. I am married (yes, to a sexy blonde hunk with gorgeous blue eyes) and I am pregnant with our first child. We were “nesting” (the instinct that moms-to-be have when you clean out your home like crazy to get ready for the new arrival). In the process of discarding old junk, I ran across those 22 pages about Joe. My husband asked what it was, and I told him “Oh, just some writing I did a few years ago.” Well, that night, I read over them. Then, I read over them again. Then, I put them in a folder and put them next to the computer (I have a computer this time, lol!). I didn’t look at them again for another six months.

Veronica came into the world on December 9, 2002. My husband went back to work, and I was a home with our new daughter. When she was sleeping, I needed something to do to come back down to Earth, to have some “me” time. So, I ran across those pages, again. I broke them out, and just for the heck of it, decided to type them into the computer. So, I typed, and typed, and typed. “Hello Joe.” It was almost like seeing an old friend. I added characters, and introduced them to my Joe. Then, I let them take me on an unforgettable journey.

One a side note: As I am sure you are all aware of the tragic events that occurred in Santa Monica at the Farmer’s Market on July 16th, 2003. A man lost control of his car and plowed through the Farmer’s Market, killing several people. We were living three blocks away from that accident at the time, and my daughter and I would go to that very place every Wednesday to buy fresh vegetables. That particular day, however, my characters were literally saying to me “No, stay home and write…we are on a roll here!” and I did. I didn’t realize that something terrible had happened until I heard helicopters and received frantic phone calls from friends and family members. It was strange: One of the people killed, sadly, was a four month old baby that was born on Veronica’s due date. I think that my characters saved us that tragic day.

It was on a Friday that, I realized that I had 250 pages. I thought “I have a book here, what the heck” Then, I did the unthinkable : I showed my manuscript to my father-in-law. My father-in-law is Norman Hudis, the television writer of M*A*S* H* and other successful television shows. This is a man who pulls no punches. If you stink, he will tell you so! He makes Simon from American Idol look like Mother Theresa! So, I took a deep breath and showed it to him. He read it. He liked it. He told me I had potential. I almost fainted! He told me, in his sophisticated British accent “Lindy, I feel that you could have success as a commercial writer.” So, I took his advice, and I went for it!

So, after rejection and rejection, I finally got that coveted publishing deal. Now, my work and my Joe are out there for the world to see. I hope that I can entertain my readers. I know that I am not going to win a Pulitzer with my work, and I don’t wish to! I just want to let the reader have some fun! I want to take my readers away to an exotic and relaxing place somewhere. I want the reader to feel the sand, to hear the ocean, and to smell the salt air. I want the reader to use their imagination. I want reading to be fun, like I have always thought that it was.

Lindy S. Hudis
Author of Weekends
http://directorbabe.tripod.com/


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Marketing and Promoting My Book by Judi Moreo

4:50 PM 0 Comments
When I was in high school, I wrote articles for a local newspaper and after graduation, I continued to write articles and columns for newspapers and magazines, so I always had an audience for my writing. Then I was asked to write a book, “Delivering Exceptional Customer Service," so I did and that was about as far as it went. It was published but it only sold about 1,000 copies. My next attempt at writing was a self-published book, “Make Up Your Face,” which I promoted myself and sold 9,762 copies. Then a seminar company asked me to write a book – which I co-authored with Fiona Carmichael “Conquer the Brain Drain” – and it has sold and sold and sold…for four years….because it is sold back of the room in seminars across the USA. None of these books were the book that was in my heart. That book is the one I’ve just written “You Are More Than Enough: Every Woman’s Guide to Purpose, Passion, and Power." The information in this book is a compilation of the knowledge I acquired by owning my own business for 17 years, Universal Models Agency & Finishing School, as well as from being a Senior Executive in a large communications corporation in South Africa, and traveling on the road as a Motivational Speaker. (Yes, I have a diverse background.)

Through all these experiences I kept running across talented and knowledgeable men and women who felt they were “less than” they could be. People who said they felt they were created for something more, so I decided to write “You Are More Than Enough.”

Then the hard part began. If I am going to make a difference in anyone’s life, I have to get this book into the hands of at least 100,000 women in the next year. How was I to do it?

I attended a Dan Poynter seminar and made notes on all the different methods he suggested. Then I bought John Kremer’s book, “1001 Ways to Market Your Book” and read it cover to cover. Then I went on Amazon.com and bought about 10 more "how-to" sell your book books, and attended Greg Kompes’ Writerpreneur seminar which by the way, was informative and most helpful. I also attended the Henderson Writers Conference in Las Vegas two years in a row. And while it all sounds good…and some even sounds easy….how do you do everything that needs to be done and still be a motivational speaker who is on the road speaking a minimum of three days a week?

My solution – do at least one thing every day to promote the book. So I hired Dorothy Thompson at The Writer’s Life to do a virtual tour. Even though the tour goes on for two months, I only count it as one thing because what I did was hire Dorothy, which was one of the smartest things I’ve done.

I also hired a publicist, Newman Communications, for a three month print campaign and they have sent out 125 review copies of my book to publications across America.

I give away books to total strangers. The other day as I was driving through Jack-in-the-Box take out line, the young lady helping me was so polite and efficient, that when I got to her window, I said to her, “You have just won the outstanding customer service professional of the day award and you get a copy of my new book, “You Are More Than Enough,” and handed her the book. She started screaming and immediately wanted the book autographed. Everyone who worked in the back of the fast food restaurant came to see what she was screaming about and she showed them all the book with great pride and said that she was the “Customer Service Professional of the Day” and that was her award.

I did the same thing to a saleswoman in a dress shop. She showed it to all the other saleswomen and all the customers that were in the store and then displayed the book along with my bookmarks on the counter of the store.

I’ve contacted book stores across the USA and offered to do book signings and luckily my publisher owns several newspapers, so when I do signings in the towns where the newspapers are located, they run a quarter page color ad in the paper to promote the signing and the book. It’s amazing how many people show up at these who have heard me speak at some time or another over the last 10 years.

I’ve traded books with other speakers. In this way, my book appears before their audiences and their books give me more products to have on my back of the room sales table, plus we don’t have to worry about paying each other commissions as once the books are traded, they belong to the other person and no money changes hands.

I will continue to do one thing a day until I have at least 100,000 books in the hands of women around the world. I am so sure that those who read it will be able to do, be, and have more than they have ever dreamed of….because they are “More Than Enough” to make it happen once they believe they can. And I'm finding out that marketing is not as hard as I believed it would be....just take it one day at a time.

Judi Moreo
Author of You Are More Than Enough: Every Woman’s Guide to Purpose, Passion, and Power
http://www.judimoreo.com/


Friday, June 29, 2007

The Story Behind My Stories by Vicki M. Taylor

10:06 AM 0 Comments
I get my ideas for stories from a lot of different places. The newspapers. Television. Magazines. People watching. Dreams. My own weird imagination. I keep several four inch binders full of newspaper clippings, starts of stories, scraps of paper with notes on them, and other odds and ends that remind me of an idea for a book. I started keeping the binders way back when I first started writing full time in 1999. I’d had so many ideas for books I couldn’t keep them all in my head and I was worried that if I didn’t write them down, I’d forget them.

You see, I had a tendency to do things like that. Forget things. Call it old age, call it menopause, call it side effects to the various pills I take, but whatever it was, it wasn’t going to get me. So, all my notes and ideas went into those binders. And, let me tell you, I’m so glad I did. They’re a goldmine. Whenever I get stuck for an idea, I pull a binder off the shelf and flip through it. Loads of items separated by categories like police procedurals, murders, domestic violence, suicide.

Oh yeah, I write about some weird stuff straight out of real life. Take my novel Not Without Anna for example. It’s about drugs, alcohol, murder, and suicide all involving teenagers. Sound like something from the latest news report? Could have been. My daughter actually had the idea first. She wrote a short story for school and I borrowed the characters and wrote the book. It got great reviews, but it’s not a touchy-feely happily ever after story. Be prepared for the grittier side of life.

Now, I do have another book that has a really beautiful ending. It’s my latest book, Trust in the Wind. It’s definitely a romance. A look at the life of two tragic souls who find each other and fight the odds against them.

Trust in the Wind developed from a dream. A very vivid dream. When I woke the next morning, I could recall everything clearly in my mind. I knew I had something special. I instantly grabbed pen and paper (which I always keep next to my bed for just such occasions) and started writing. Furiously. I didn’t want to lose any of the story before I could get it all out of my head and onto the paper.

When I finished writing, I had the entire thing. The whole synopsis of the book. Even now, I can still recall parts of that dream clearly in my mind; it was that dramatic. The story is about a fiercely independent, young teenage mother who only wants to make a good life for her son, Joey, and herself. It tells what happens after she meets a county sheriff who makes a lasting impression on her young son and gets under her skin as well, no matter how hard she tries to fight it.

The sheriff has issues of his own; invisible demons that haunt him, and a job with a lot of risk. He too fights the attraction he feels for the small family he befriends, but can’t seem to help himself. He’s putty in little Joey’s hands. The drama increases ten-fold, when little Joey is kidnapped.

You can read more about Not Without Anna or Trust in the Wind by going to my website at http://www.vickimtaylor.com/books.html. You can click on the links to read an excerpt or read recent reviews.

Award winning author, Vicki M. Taylor writes dramatic stories with strong women as her main characters. Her novel, Not Without Anna won 2nd place in the 2003 Florida Writers’ Association’s Royal Palm Literary Awards and was published in January 2004. She won an honorary award for her short story, And Justice for All in the Fire to Fly contest from Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine. Her manuscript Out for Justice was a finalist in the recent 2007 Golden Acorn contest.

A prolific writer of both novel length and short stories, she brings her characters to life in the real world. Her memberships include the National Association of Women Writers, Short Fiction Mystery Society, Romance Writers Association, and many more. She has had hundreds of articles published in electronic and print publications. She is one of the founders and past President of the Florida Writers Association, Inc. She speaks to local writing groups.

When she's not writing, you can find her lurking about the many writing boards and various forums while sitting at her computer in Tampa, Florida where she lives with her husband their dog, Jack and their parrot, Bailey. To find out more about Vicki and her writing, visit her website at
http://www.vickimtaylor.com.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What Is A Muse? by Karen Magill

12:05 AM 0 Comments
I have been asked in interviews about my muse or muses. And I never know how to answer that question. It always confuses me so I usually just say whatever pops into my head and sounds good. Because truth be told I don’t know about my muse. Or I didn’t until recently.

If I had to put a name to my muse it would have to be: Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Poison, Bryan Adams, and so on. In other words music. Nothing frees my mind and releases the creativity like the sweet sounds of music. Once I allow the sounds to flow through me and set my feet tapping, once I start singing along, and focusing on the words I get into the mind set needed to write. Not that I start then but the ideas are coming. Sometimes I will jot down ideas but most times I just let them ferment in my mind. I gaze around me; gathering inspiration from my surroundings or else I just enjoy the beauty. And beauty is everywhere is you just look.

Sometimes when I get home, I boot up my computer and start to write. Many times the ideas begin to flow. If the walk went particularly well I could miss meals, appointments, favorite shows and life will march on by as I sit mesmerized by this little screen. The magic of the tunes have done their job and set my fingers flying. There are times I put on my portable music player and type to the music to keep the rhythm going and the muse active. The muse is happy, cooperative at least some of the time.

Or else the time isn’t right and I do other things, letting the ideas simmer a bit longer. I may answer emails or do chores around the house. But the music has planted the seeds that are going to grow and need to be nurtured.

To every artistic person, the muse is something or someone different. I’m not a musician – I can’t play an instrument, I’m not a singer. But to me music is sustenance. I need it to survive and to feed my creative juices. To me, that’s a muse.

Karen Magill
Author of Let Us Play - A Rock 'N Roll Love Story
http://www.karenmagill.com/


Friday, June 15, 2007

The Inspiration Behind Writing THE TRUTH, I'M TEN, I'M SMART AND I KNOW EVERYTHING! by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

12:00 AM 0 Comments
A few important thoughts I’d like to share with you—let’s say “wisdom thoughts” that I have accumulated as a positive psychologist:

"1. As women, when we fly, we don't fly in a straight line. We fly in circles. Yet we can home in like the greatest guided missiles!

2. Each of us has an ENCHANTED SELF—a place inside of us where we can feel peace of mind, a sense of well-being, purpose, and happiness—where we can mobilize for action using our best talents, strengths, and even lost potential.

3. Yet, we diminish and disregard our Enchanted Selves and often are influenced by other factors and persuasive circumstances that keep us from feeling good, fulfilling our dreams, and even remembering what those dreams are!

4. We forget how to read ourselves so we can help ourselves recognize what is most unique about ourselves, what is most central to our beings, and what is right for our health in mind, body, and spirit.

5. We don’t always have a good enough framework around which to sort through the complexities and distractions that come into our lives and push us from our Enchanted Selves.

6. We can come home to our Enchanted Selves.

7. What most of us knew as girls is the missing key to all of the above. As a culture and as women we have forgotten where to look for wisdom and life-sustaining energies. Having been convinced to look externally and often in all the wrong places, we have made a terrible mistake not looking into ourselves, to the positive parts of ourselves, often very alive when we were kids, rather than the negative parts, for valuable information, advice, encouragement, and inspiration."

The above list is part of a rough draft for the book before THE TRUTH. That book, You Don't Have to Be A Princess to Live An Enchanted Life, Seven Gateways To Happiness, still lives peacefully in my computer. I would say sleeps in my computer, except I have some good news about a rough draft that never made it into book form-at least yet. The good news is that the creation of that rough draft was the initial birthing process for THE TRUTH. As I came more and more in touch with the wisdom and insights of the ten year old girl inside of me and the girl inside of each woman, I realized that the energy stored up from childhood must be better understood and utilized by women.

We are so depleted, so overloaded with chores and obligations. It is a tragedy not to grab whatever free resources we have available to replenish, to have fun, to feel good. As a positive psychologist I was so aware of our needs as women to feel competent, capable, special. Yet again and again I saw my clients and my friends and even myself reaching only for wisdom and guidance and energy from the outside, rather than restimulating the essence of ourselves.

By the time I started a new draft of a book, the 'girl' was just waiting to come out to play! And she was truly a character with her own personality and adventures. As I began to write I realized that I was sharing positive psychology truths, but I was also writing my first novel. This was fiction. How exciting. The Girl came to life and so did her story. She grew from 10 to almost 12 and before I knew it, a short novel in diary form had emerged. She had a story to tell about growing up. She had messages to get across about the importance of holding on to what is special and appreciating the good things in life. She had painful experiences but she also had successes and lots of courage. And best of all, what she had to say turned out to be exactly what I wished to teach. We were a perfect team. Within her story are embedded many positive psychology principles. And within these principles are embedded the genius of a life well lived. A perfect match.

And that's how the inspiration for this book took place.

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
Author of THE TRUTH: I'M TEN, I'M SMART AND I KNOW EVERYTHING
http://www.enchantedself.com/


Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Story Behind THE ROUX IN THE GUMBO by Kim Robinson

10:50 AM 1 Comments
I started writing The Roux in the Gumbo in March of 1993 when I was pregnant with my second son. She was with me when all three of my childen were born. Though she didn’t understand why we needed to go to a hospital, I told her, “Because you don’t have an epidural.”

I did not start off writing it to be a book; it was going to be something I made copies of to give to the family. I was bedridden during the end of my pregnancy and my grandmother came from California to Texas to help me out.

One day when we were watching Oprah talk about her life and upcoming book, Grandmother said, "Shoot, I had more stuff happen to me than she did, someone should write my book. Shoot, you should write one too."

She started telling me her old stories; you know the kind you have heard a few times growing up, and since the computer was set up right next to the pull out couch in the den where I spent my days, I said, "Let's do it. I bet everybody in the family would like to read it."

When she went back home, I bought her a tape recorder so that when she thought of something, she could tape it and send it to me.

Every few months, I would send her tickets and she would come and stay for awhile while we worked on the book. I also went to Lafayette, Louisiana, where where my great-grandmother’s name still rings like a church house bell.

My grandmother suffered a stroke during a spinal cancer surgery and went into a coma. I printed out what I had and went to California. I would sit by her bed reading and the family asked me what I was reading and when I told them they said they wanted to read it, my mother made some copies and gave them out. One day while I was reading to my grandmother she said my name, though still in a coma.

She died the next day.

Everyone said that I had to finish the book and share it with the world. When I went back home my family members would call and give me their memories and send tapes that I added to the book. My grandmother's sister, Genevieve, and I would talk over the phone and I sent her a ticket to come, but sadly she got sick and died before she could come. But, I did get everything she wanted in.

My mother came and started reading and giving me her memories and there you have it. The title is because everyone who has someone who influenced their lives just as the Roux (Roo) base or gravy in Gumbo influences every spoonful. The book details my families life from the 1800's to 1997.

Kim Robinson
Author, The Roux in the Gumbo
http://www.kim-robinson.com/


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