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 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 ( 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 ( 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”

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

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

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, 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:,, and 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 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.

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