Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Excerpt: Angel Lane by Sheila Roberts

Change. Sarah hated it, unless it was good and was happening to her. What she hated most was when people moved away. First her sister and brother-in-law had to drift off to California in search of sun – which was highly overrated, if you asked Sarah – and take her nieces. (At least one of them had had the good sense to come back.) Then Jonathan had left. And now Steph was moving.

And speaking of moving, Sarah thought, checking out the strangers driving past her, was Heart Lake some new destination spot? It seemed like lately she was seeing as many new faces as old, familiar ones. Why couldn’t life stay the same?

By the time she came through the door of the chocolateria even the sensual aroma that danced around her nose couldn’t tease her into a happy mood.

She took in the array of truffles behind the glass counter with a scowl and marched to where her niece, Jamie Moore, stood, smiling and holding out a steaming cup of Sarah’s usual weekly treat, a coconut mocha. (Hold the whipped cream – a woman had to draw the line somewhere.)

“I hope that’s a double,” said Sarah. “I need it.”

“A double with decaf so you won’t be awake all night,” said Jamie. She arched a delicately penciled blonde eyebrow. “Is this a two truffle day?”

“More like a ten, but I’ll stop at one. How could you tell?”

“Other than the fact that I knew Steph was leaving today? Just a lucky guess.”

Sarah took the mocha with a sigh and moved over to the glass case. A summer of weekly truffle treats at her niece’s new shop had already added three pounds to her hips. Even when Sarah was young she’d had a bit of a bubble butt. After opening the bakery it had grown from a bubble to a balloon, and now, by fifty-six, it was nearing the size of a hot air balloon. Every once in awhile she suggested to herself that changing this weekly coffee klatch to the back room of Emma’s quilt shop wouldn’t be a bad idea. A girl couldn’t get fat on fabric.

Her friend Kizzy, who owned a kitchen shop in town, kept urging her to join her teeny bikini diet club, but Sarah wasn’t ready for that. So Kizzy settled for getting Sarah out on a Sunday afternoon walk around the lake. Sarah wasn’t sure it did much good. At the rate she was going, to see any improvement she’d probably have to walk all the way to Florida. And back.

Okay, one truffle. She bent over to examine the rows and rows of treats calling to her from behind glass. Flavors ranged from dark chocolate with Grand Marnier filling to white chocolate with lavender. Then there was the fudge: traditional chocolate, rocky road, penuche, and the new caliente flavor with its south of the border bite. And now, with summer giving way to fall, white and milk chocolate-dipped apples had replaced double-chocolate ice cream bars.

“Decisions, decisions,” teased Jamie. How she managed to stay a size eight was a mystery. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the girl didn’t eat.

“Don’t laugh. It’s hard when you’re only choosing one,” said Sarah. “You could do my hips a good deed and come up with a no-fat, no-calorie truffle.”

“I could,” Jamie agreed, “if I made it out of cardboard.”

“How about the white chocolate-raspberry?”

“Good choice,” Jamie approved, and pulled one out for her.

The shop door opened and in stepped a woman in her early thirties with a round, freckled face, a curvy figure, and strawberry blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. She had a coat thrown on over jeans and a pink flower print flowing top. Emma Swanson, proud owner of Emma’s Quilt Corner. One Wednesday in September, she’d wandered into the shop just as Jamie and Sarah were getting ready to end their day with a dose of chocolate. The impromptu get together had quickly become a weekly tradition, and casual friendship had made a fast evolution into sisterhood.

Emma flipped the sign hanging on the door to Closed and locked it, announcing, “It’s officially five.”

“Good,” Jamie said with a sigh. “I’m ready to sit down. I’m pooped.”

“Too much business,” said Emma. “I wish I had that problem,” she added with a sigh.

“Be patient,” Sarah told her. “Quilting is catching on.”

“I hope so,” said Emma. “So far my best customers are still my grandma and my mom. And Mom doesn’t even quilt. Oh, and you, of course,” she added, smiling at Sarah.

Sarah had spent a small fortune on fabric a week earlier so she could make quilts for both the girls for Christmas. She’d been so busy with the bakery that she hadn’t quilted in years. But she was sure it would all come back to her, like riding a bicycle. She hadn’t ridden a bicycle in years, either. She’d rather quilt.

They settled at one of the white bistro tables on the other side of the shop, Emma and Sarah armed with their mochas and truffles and Jamie only with a cup of chocolate tea.
“No wonder you’re so skinny,” Emma said, pointing to it. “I don’t know how you keep from eating all your inventory.”

“I have Clarice for that. Anyway, I sampled so many truffles when I was first learning how to make these things that I don’t care if I ever taste another one again as long as I live. Well, unless it’s a new recipe,” she amended.

“I sampled a lot of my recipes when I started the bakery, too,” said Sarah. “All it did was turn me into an S.T.”

“Yeah, that was what did it all right,” mocked Jamie.

“What’s an S.T.?” asked Emma.

“Sweet Tooth,” Jamie answered for Sarah. “And you were an S.T. before you even opened the bakery. I was around, remember?”

Sarah shook her head. “This is the problem with having an older sister who makes you an aunt before your time. You end up with lippy nieces who know too much.”

“You imported me,” Jamie reminded her with a smile.

“And I’m glad I did. Someone in your family needed to come back home. You make a great addition to Heart Lake.” She took a sip of her mocha, then sighed.

“They’ll be back by Christmas,” Jamie reminded her, accurately interpreting the sigh.

“Seeing them go had to be pretty hard,” said Emma. “I know how much you love your granddaughters.”

“My mom wore sunglasses when I went to say good-bye,” said Jamie.

“Doesn’t everybody in L.A. wear sunglasses?” asked Emma.

“In the house?”

“Um, that’s weird.”

“She didn’t want me to see she’d been crying.”

“I was brave and didn’t cry,” bragged Sarah. “Not until they left, anyway.”

“Well, we sure could use a few more Stephs here,” said Jamie. “You’re not going to believe this, but two little twits ran the four-way-stop on Lake Way and Alder yesterday.”

Emma looked at her questioningly. “Somebody ran a stop sign and you’re surprised?”

“Somebody ran a stop sign in Heart Lake and I’m surprised,” Jamie corrected her. “There were two old ladies at the crosswalk. If I hadn’t let them go they’d still be standing there.”

“You know, people used to just about kill each other with kindness at that four-way stop,” Sarah reminisced.

“Well, they’ve kept the kill each other part,” said Jamie.

Emma sighed. “I wish Heart Lake could stay just like it was when I was in school.”

“Nice places like this can’t help but grow,” Sarah said. “Everyone wants to be the last person in Paradise. Of course, as more people move into Paradise it gets harder to stay connected. Then people stop caring and it’s not paradise any more.” She frowned and took a sip of her mocha. “I guess people are too busy to be nice.”

“It only takes a minute to let two old ladies cross the street,” Jamie said in disgust.

“Well, there’s your random act of kindness for the day,” Sarah told her. “You know,” she added thoughtfully, “if everybody just did one nice thing a day . . .”

“We’d be living in Mayberry,” Jamie finished.

“I used to love those old reruns when I was a kid,” said Emma.

Jamie rolled her eyes. “Why am I not surprised?”

Sarah was still thinking. “Why couldn’t we do one good deed a day?” she asked suddenly. “It might be fun to try. You know, paying it forward.”

“Like in the movie,” Emma said with a smile.

“That worked real well at the stop-sign,” said Jamie. She downed the last of her chocolate mint tea. “Well, here’s my something. Your chocolate therapy is on the house,” she said to Sarah and Emma. It always was, but she cocked an eyebrow and grinned at Emma. “So, top that.”

“Maybe I will,” Emma said. “If I see a hot-looking homeless guy, I’ll take him in for the night.”
Okay, they weren’t taking her seriously. Sarah could see that. But somewhere in there was a good idea, and she was going to find it.

Book excerpt from Shiela Roberts' new women's fiction novel, Angel Lane (St. Martin's Press, Oct. '09). You can visit the author's website at www.sheilasplace.com or purchase her book at Amazon by clicking here!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Interview with Balthazar Rodrigue Nzomono-Balenda, author of Freedom of Press: the Sitting Duck

Balthazar Rodrigue Nzomono-Balenda is not only an author and a poet, but also a student, multimedia designer and translator. His previous books include The Depth of My Soul and The Struggle for Power and the Fight for Survival. Balthazar became interested in poetry by accident in 2003 when he wasn’t satisfied with the way things were going in his early studies and in the Danish society. We interviewed Balthazar to find out more about his interest in poetry and his newest book, Freedom of Press: The Sitting Duck.

Thank you for this interview, Balthazar. Your new book, Freedom of Press: The Sitting Duck, is a book of poetry. Can you give us a brief glimpse of what's inside?

Time after time, journalists are killed for their works by criminal groups who don’t like the truth. Journalists are often victims of violence in countries like: Russia, Turkey, Mexico, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Iran, Palestine, Gabon, Somalia and many other countries. Criminals who stand behind such barbaric are unpunished and they are covered for their lawlessness. Many journalists are silent by groups who hate an independent press. I use the language of poetry to talk about situations that journalists can face, in the connection with their reporting. I put their situations into other perspectives by also talking about others who go through similar circumstances like: authors, Greenpeace activists, freedom fighters, aid workers, NGOs, Human Rights activists etc.

Justice does not come cheap:

Journalists or anchors are human beings like us and they do what they do because they love it and they make a living of it. The purpose of the free press is to inform is about the circumstances that they see around the world so that we can have an idea about what is going on in our communities and around the world. My hope is that laws are enforced by the UN, if the UN cares about free speech and the freedom of press. I hope that CPJ keeps fighting a big battle against bandits who are so insecure that they would have to kill for their survival.

My thanks to Christiane Amanpour from CNN for brining this topic on Youtube and I owe this book to her and many other journalists who risk their lives reporting in dangerous places. My hope is that the families of the victims get the help and the justice they need so that they can be healed. Thank you for stepping in this blog. I am very grateful that Christiane Amanpour is such a great inspiration. I dedicate this book to her and many other anchors around the world.

Can you tell us what poetry means to you?

What poetry means to me something that that doesn't have to rhyme and it doesn't have to make a lot of sense. Poetry is a stuff that I haven learned, during my time as a high school student and now as a college student. The first time I wrote poetry, it was in 2003 and it was in Danish. I saw it as an opportunity for me to express myself different about different issues that were surrounding me and I was surprised because I never thought that I could write a poem. One of my old was very surprised too. I was like… I can write a poem. When I was a Christian, I used poetry to worship “God” as I was writing it at both www.allpoetry.com and www.poetry.com . In 2005, I kept writing poems at both poetry websites and I was even invited to become a member of the International Society of Poets, which no longer exists. Poetry speaks beyond logics and it’s a way to express myself emotionally about different situations. My favorite poets are: Hans Christian Andersen, Léopold Senghor, Martin Luther King and much more.

In the actual writing of your book, do you remember an “aha!” moment?

It was when Christiane Amanpour from CNN who is one of my favorite anchors. I was watching a documentary “Scream Bloody Murder” and by accident, I discovered her message. I was shocked about what she said because the press has a right to report where they are in the world. In the EU article 6, everyone has the right to be free. In article 11, it says that we have a right to freedom of speech and freedom of information. These are our fundamental rights. I watched her message on Youtube and I was really shocked about horrible situations journalists face in the connection with their reporting . That’s where I got my inspiration.

What poet do you admire?

My favorite poet is Simaro Massiya. N. Lutumba who is one of the greatest poets in Africa. He is also a singer. His music has inspired me, since I was a young kid. Simaro Massiya N. Lutumba is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is also known as Congo-Kinshasa. I salute him for his music and his poems. He is my number 1 favorite poet.

The poet Oscar Wilde once said, “The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.” What do you think he meant by that?

He means that when a critic finds something, which may be against the values we stand for, it’s his job to share it with the public so that the public can get educated. In order for the critic to do that, he needs to educate himself by someone else. It can be an artist, a mentor or he can find inspiration somewhere else that can be educative for him. You share what you know. You don’t share what you don’t know

What do you find frustrating about the world of publishing today and how does it compare to where you live now in Denmark?

Sometimes, when you promote your work and you keep working hard all the time, it can be frustrating when there are no results. You begin to ask yourself, what’s going on and you start to get discouraged little by little. But when I wrote my first book, I was aware that the book business is hard and in Denmark, it’s not any different. The thing that might be different in Denmark is that you find publishers in big cities and the book marketing is small, compare to America.

Do you have any mentors in Denmark that helped you find a publisher in America?

I don’t have any mentor who helped me find a publisher in the U.S. It’s something I did on my own. I have never had a mentor.

If you could say one thing to encourage writers to go on and become published authors, what would you say?

Don’t give up on your dreams. Go for it.
Thank you so much for this interview, Balthazar. Where might we find out more about you on the web?

You can find me at http://www.redroom.com/author/balthazar-rodrigue-nzomono-balenda . You can also find me at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Balthazar-Rodrigue-Nzomono-Balenda/62700587511.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Airline pilot J.R. Hauptman waits 20 years to have book published

We’ve all played the waiting game – that inevitable time period between putting that first word on our eagerly awaited book-to-be to the time it finally becomes published.

J.R. Hauptman, author of The Target: Love, Death and Airline Deregulation, waited twenty years for his book to be published. He began the book about five years after he lost his job as an airline pilot during the turmoil of the early years of airline deregulation when a corporate raider took control of the airline, drove the company into bankruptcy and used that as a pretext to tear up their labor contracts. There was a great deal of loose talk at the time that it was a wonder that someone had not assassinated this person who was regarded at the time as “the most hated man in the industry.”

After J.R. decided to return to aviation when his new career as a securities broker went down in flames with the stock market crash in ’87, he was faced with the prospect of starting all over at the bottom of the flying business.

The question he asked himself was, “What would I do if I were in the mountains on my elk hunting stand and this individual happened to coincidentally walk out in front of me? Would impulse overcome rationality?”

Not knowing the answer, he wrote the first two chapters of his book and set out to find a writer’s agent. At that time, self-publishing was virtually unheard of and not surprising, his first thirty or so queries were met with total rejection.

“Some expressed shock that I would even consider writing a novel on this subject,” he says. “As we all know, getting past rejection is easier said than done and I devoted my energies to finding another airline job. I caught on with two charter outfits that promptly went bankrupt themselves. I landed a job with an airfreight outfit and settled into a steady routine that lasted for nearly twelve years. I had thought that I would be able to complete the book during that time, since being back in the flying business had presented me with much in potential material and possible story scenarios, but my progress was much too slow.”

Mandatory retirement from the airlines was followed by a job flying corporate jets and another excuse for the lack of J.R.’s writing discipline. The answer finally came from what he knew all to well – to be successful as an author, you must WRITE.

“Perhaps it is silly, but it is something we have to tell ourselves every day,” he says. “I had already come up with the final plot for the book when I was still flying airfreight but it remained for me to set goals: a total page count, a chapter outline, and a word goal for each chapter. Once organized, it was ‘only’ a matter of fleshing out the story. I say ‘only’ tongue-in-cheek because it still took two more years to finish, even once I had adopted a more disciplined approach. I was even able to add a denouement to bring the story into the present time and the first edition was published just before the deregulation of the securities and banking industries led to the total meltdown of our economy.

“It turned out that airline deregulation was only a harbinger of the bad times to come.”

J.R. Hauptman has been a professional pilot for nearly a half century. Barely twenty years old, he began as a military pilot and for almost two years he flew combat support missions in the Viet Nam War. Upon leaving military service he was hired by a major airline and was initially based on the West Coast. His flying career was interrupted by the turmoil that racked the airline industry during the early days of deregulation. In the interim, he worked as a travel agent, a stockbroker and even trained dogs and horses. In the late nineteen-eighties, he returned to aviation, flying jet charters and air freight. He concluded his career flying corporate jets and now lives in Florida. He is completing his second work, a non-fictional social commentary and surfs every day, waves or not. You can visit his website at www.caddispublishing.com.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pump Up Your Book Presents...12 Days of Christmas Virtual Blog Tour Special

As our Christmas gift to you, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is offering a special discount for those authors wishing to tour in December. Sign up for our 12 Days of Christmas December Blog Tour Special before Oct. 30 '09 and you will receive this great book promotion package:

  • One virtual book tour (can only be purchased for the month of December)!

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The special price for this package is only $199 and only available for purchase between now and Oct. 30 '09. This discount cannot be applied after the deadline.

Payments can be made via PayPal (Paypal accepts most major credit cards), money order or check.

Space is limited and will be on a first come, first serve basis.

Thank you and let us help you pump up that book!

The Pump Up Your Book Promotion Team

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Interview with Myrna Shiboleth, author of Tails of Sha'ar Hagai

Myrna Shiboleth is an animal behaviorist, world champion dog breeder and international dog show judge, and is acknowledged as the world authority on Canaan Dogs, one of the few remaining breeds of feral dogs in the world. After growing up in the U.S. and receiving a degree from Northwestern University in art, she made a radical change in her life by emigrating to Israel. She has worked at a variety of animal related occupations over the years, including stable manager and riding instructor, kennel manager and dog trainer, advisor on dog behavior to the Israel Defense Department, keeper and animal trainer at the Safari Park, and more. Her previous book, The Israel Canaan Dog, has been published in two editions. She lives and breeds Canaan Dogs and collies at Shaar Hagai Farm in Israel, lectures and instructs in Israel and abroad on a wide variety of dog related subjects, writes for professional publications in Israel and abroad, and continues to enjoy new adventures with her dogs. You can visit her websites at www.sephirotpress.com, www.canaandogs.info and www.collie-israel.com.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Myrna. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

My life pretty much revolves around animals and in particular dogs, and I have done almost everything with them – showing, training, breeding, lecturing and teaching about them. I also managed to raise a very successful daughter, and have three grandchildren, very talented and special, of course – that Jewish grandmother gene kicked in as soon as the first one was born. I have been writing pretty much all my life, but mostly articles for professional purposes. I have a previous book that has been published in two editions, The Israel Canaan Dog, but this is my first venture at writing something that is not serious and educational, but entertaining – hope so, anyway!

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Imagine a typical “Jewish American Princess” finding herself, inadvertently and to her own astonishment, a “pioneer” in Israel. From a comfortable upper middle class metropolitan life, she is transplanted to living in a modern day wilderness, without electricity or telephone, trying to make a living working with dogs, horses, and other animals (not a particularly respected or profitable profession in this part of the world), and to cope with the very foreign Middle-Eastern mentality. That girl was me, and I (apparently a masochist through and through) am still in Israel, after years of struggle, smiles, tears, and adventures, telling the story of my attempts to survive life in Israel under conditions totally different from any I had experienced before or from anything I might have expected. The only things that enabled me to survive were an invincible stubbornness and a sense of humor.

The book begins with an introduction to Shaar Hagai, an overgrown and long abandoned group of buildings dating from the British mandate, perched on a hillside over the main road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The next few chapters explore what brought me to this point in my life – family background and an unexplainable attraction to animals and odd lifestyles.

Moving to Israel is just the start of a series of adventures. Coping with a strange and totally different mentality as I try to support myself doing the things I love – but which are not so acceptable in Israel, especially when done by a woman - result in some very strange and funny experiences. There are many animals sharing my life – first and foremost are the many and varied dogs, but there are also raccoons, cats, gazelles, geese, goats, sheep, horses, and Baba the striped hyena. And of course, the varied people that are part of this world – “sabras”, abrasive and hard to understand for an American born and bred, Arabs from the nearby village, other immigrants from varied countries – all a challenge. Marriage and raising a family Israeli pioneering style is part of life at Shaar Hagai, as well as having to cope with various disasters ranging in seriousness from a badly leaking roof to a major forest fire.

There are also adventures outside of Israel – three years spent in the heart of Africa as the unconventional wife of a career diplomat, and some rather unorthodox trips to Europe and other more exotic destinations, accompanied by a pack of dogs and non-conformist friends.

Life at Shaar Hagai has never been easy – but it has certainly never been boring! I found, over the years, that the only way to survive and stay reasonably sane was not to take myself too seriously. Tails of Shaar Hagai is a humorous look back at my life – a life very different from what is experienced by most.

Actually, I wrote this book for myself. I wanted to preserve all the adventures I have had over the years, and thought that writing them down would be the best way. Then I could pass the stories on to my grandchildren. Once I started writing and re-reading what I had written, and letting friends read parts of it, I realized that it actually was pretty good and quite funny, and that maybe I could become the James Herriot of Israel. Who knows?
What kind of research was involved in writing Tails of Shaar Hagai?

The only research is having lived all these experiences myself.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Bumpy enough to make me seriously seasick! I naively thought that writing a book was the hardest part. I quickly discovered how wrong I was. Getting the book published took considerably longer than writing it, and was considerably more stressful.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

Not very long, only about eight months.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

When I finished writing the book and started trying to get it published, I was told that no publisher will look at a book that is not represented by an agent. So I started looking for an agent, getting lists from the numerous books and websites that are out there to help the naïve and inexperienced. After being ignored by many and turned down by the rest, I finally found an agency that was enthusiastic about my book – what joy! After two years or so of paying them various small fees, which added up in total to not such a small amount, and receiving in return lists of publishers that had supposedly turned the book down (“But we think so-and-so will be interested and we will submit again…”), I discovered that this agency was a total fraud. Being incurably stubborn, I did not despair totally from this debacle, and finally did manage to find a publisher. I know there are plenty of good agents out there, and I am sure that it would have made contacts with publishers much easier, but it seems that it is just as hard to find one as it is to find a publisher.
Do you plan subsequent books?

I can’t say that I am really planning any, since I didn’t really plan this one. But since I do plan to continue having adventures in life, I am sure there will be more to write about.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

I write in my bedroom, where I have a small desk and my computer. It is quiet and comfortable, and has a window with a great view.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

Television promotion, that seems to be the most influential of the media these days.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Self-promotion is, without a doubt, very important. There are so many books out there! It is important to find a way to attract attention, to alert potential readers to the fact that the book exists and that they will enjoy it, and making use of every possibility to reach those readers is valid. I have never been good at talking about myself or self-promoting, but I am learning! The internet has great potential, and I am trying to find more ways to make use of it; I have made use of e-lists, Facebook, announcements on websites, mailing lists, and so on. Also reviews and articles in newspapers and magazines are important. Since I live in Israel, tours and book signings are not very relevant, but I think they would be very useful should I have a chance to do them. I am still a novice at book promotion, but hope I am making progress.

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

New writers don’t realize how really difficult it can be to get published. There is a feeling that the hard part, the labor of creating and polishing your work of art, is over, and now the rewards will come. When it turns out that getting the book published is much harder than writing it, it is easy to become discouraged and to despair of ever succeeding. There were times when I was ready to give up, when I felt that I was just wasting time and energy searching for potential publishers, but somehow I always came around to trying again. And in the end, it was worth it. There is nothing quite like holding the first copy of your published book in your hands!

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Be stubborn! Don’t give up! It is easy to start losing faith in your work after a few rejections. But persistence wins out in the end – there are many examples of writers that had books rejected many times, and ended up with a best seller.

Thank you for your interview, Myrna. I wish you much success!

Thanks for the opportunity!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Interview with Nonfiction Humor Authors Bob Brooker & Kaye O'Doughtery



Bob is an old saloon singer who, as Bobby Brookes, recorded for RCA Victor and Capital back in the day; Kaye has trouble carrying a tune in a bucket. Nevertheless, after they met at a recording studio on 42nd Street (yes, that 42nd Street), they teamed up, as Brooker and O'Dougherty, to collaborate on a variety of theater, film, TV and video projects over the ensuing decades.

A while back, they took a break to complete their college educations, with Kaye being graduated in 2003 from St. Peter's College in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, and Bob magna cum laude from Montclair State in 2004. Football is for Lovers (which can be found at http://www.footballforlovers.com) marks Bob and Kaye's debut as book authors.


Welcome to The Writer's Life, Bob and Kaye Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: We've always been writing. It's what we do. But for most of our adult lives, it was geared to the performing arts: plays, lyrics, skits . . . things like that. But when Bob had a stroke back in 2004 – three months after being graduated magna cum laude from Montclair State, and on the weekend before he was scheduled to go into a studio to finish recording a new album – it looked like we needed to come up with a Plan B.

Since Bob's left side – including his left vocal chord – was paralyzed, we needed something we could do sitting down and with our mouths shut. Football is for Lovers seemed to fill the bill.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: We wrote Football is for Lovers because, after Bob's stroke, it was pretty obvious that we had to reinvent ourselves. But as we see it, reinvention is a part of life, so that was fine. Now we're book authors. Good for us. But why, specifically, Football is for Lovers? Well, we're sports fans. We love football.

And we could see that an unfortunate number of our fellow human beings were having a problem with football season. Clicker wars. Hurt feelings. Alienation. Like that. So we thought Football is for Lovers might serve as an antidote to these false divisions. It sort of reminded us of Congress. An even sadder situation. But if we could help in the relationship arena . . . well, that was a start. Congress . . . oh, well. We can only do what we can do.

What kind of research was involved in writing Football is for Lovers?

A: A whole lot! To begin with, the 'educational' part of the book – explaining the game of football – is precise and accurate. We respect the game, and with this, we do not play. But. The book is also full of factoids that can make you sound extremely clever at cocktail parties. Stuff like Terrell Owens' middle name. And for whom the Cleveland Browns are named. Ah-ha! You think you know the answer. But we think you don't. Wanna make a bet?

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

A: Look. Three months after his graduation from Montclair State, on the Sunday before Bob was scheduled to finish recording a new album, he had a stroke. Just like that, life on the wicked stage as we had known it for decades was at an end. Writing a book, at this point, was a cruise on an ocean liner. We only hope it doesn't turn out to be the Titanic.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

A: We like doing things on our own, so looking for a publisher to choose us was not on our agenda. A long time ago, we really tried to do everything by the book. In the early days of our partnership, we wrote a really gorgeous musical – Harlem Sweet – based on the writings of the Poet Laureate of Harlem, Langston Hughes. Yes, we did make sure we had the rights before we began.

Nevertheless, after putting in several years on the project, when we were actually in the process of casting the show, because two lawyers hated each other's guts, the project drowned in a sea of legalese. So now we try to make our route as direct – and as much our own - as possible.

In this case, we had decided before we put the first word on paper that we would self-publish. So the time it took us to have the book published was the time it took us to write and edit the book. Which was about nine months. Interesting, no?

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: We love the idea of writing a book and having someone else do the selling. So, no: we do not have an agent. But if there's anyone out there who would like to fill that position, please give us a call. Or an e-mail. Smoke signals will do.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Yes. In fact, we've already begun our second book – also humorous non-fiction – He's Not the Guy (God Didn't Do It!). It troubles us when we hear those stories about things like, say, a building collapsing and ninety-nine people being killed. And the sole survivor says, "It was a miracle! God saved me!" So - uh – exactly what does that mean? God killed the other ninety-nine? We think not. And we intend to set the record straight.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?


A: There was a time when we thought the only way to write was curled up in our favorite chair with a yellow legal pad and a pencil. Now, we've become computer junkies. After all, growing up in an era of carbon copies, who could resist the option to copy, cut, and paste? Oh, be still, our hearts.

The cushions of the old easy chair are no competition for the ability to move whole paragraphs at will. The seating arrangements may be a bit stiffer, but what the heck. Plus we have some lovely photographic art on the wall just beyond the computer – our favorite being Beggar with Arms Extended by the late more-than-great Frank Gohlke - and, since we live on the New Jersey palisades, the mighty Hudson flowing by our window on the right. Life is good.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A: Remember the singer Peter Lemongello? Who knew who the heck he was? But you have to wonder how many records he sold with his TV ads. So, yeah: we'd love to do a national TV commercial. Preferably at half time during the Super Bowl.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

A: Unfortunately, we accept the fact that self-promotion is important. We have an acquaintance who happens to be a really talented writer of romance fiction. But she is also positively brilliant at promotion. She does the e-mails and the blog and like that. Frankly, we'd rather just write. This whole social networking thing makes us just a little bit nauseous. Could be we're looking at it all wrong.

After all, we still love hanging out at the local pub and debating whatever. And that's social networking, no? But this whole Twitter and Tweet and FaceBook thing . . . honestly, we'd rather not. And yet, we do want to reach our audience. Because we would like to make that connection. To talk to . . . well, all of you. But we come from a time when privacy was prized. Oy. What to do. We need an agent . . .

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

A: You write something you know is really good. Like our Harlem Sweet. Yes, it was. No kidding. Only you can't get it going. Then you see crap out there that makes it. You know your stuff is better. Makes you want to cry. But, hey: that's life.

Little kids die of cancer before they have the chance to so much as learn their A-B-Cs. Some are born into such lousy situations in, say, inner cities here in America, that if they grow up at all, it's only to struggle through hard, limited lives anyway. So your Pulitzer Prize-worthy book or play or film or whatever has been overlooked.

Given the mountains other people are faced with . . . mountains some of them have even managed to climb . . . well, we figure you'll find a way to scale your own Mt. Everest. If you just keep going. So buy a box of tissues and keep writing. Or buy a box of tissues and stop writing. Trust us: the world doesn't care. Do you?

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

A: Faith. Hope. Love. What else is there?

Thank you for your interview, Bob and Kaye. I wish you much success!

A: Thank you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Return to Your First Love: Interview with Christian Self-Help Author Teresa R. Jones

Teresa Jones is the author of the newly released book, Return to Your First Love. Teresa is a writer for the Neighborhood Writing Alliance (NWA), which publishes the award-winning Journal of Ordinary Thought (JOT). Teresa is a member of Toastmasters International and the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE). Teresa is a faithful member of the Apostolic Faith Church, where she serves as a prayer counselor for the Prayer Line Ministry. You can visit Teresa’s website at www.teresarjones.com. You can contact Teresa at teresa.jones@revelation2-4.com.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Teresa. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I’m a native of Chicago, where I have lived all my life. I have been married for 16 years to my husband, Alex, and we have two children. I have worked for the government for over 20 years. I have been writing for over 10 years.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Return to Your First Love is my life story and my journey to seek an intimate relationship with God. On my life journey, I discover that there are hurdles of distractions, rejections, persecutions, and hurts. Others have positioned most of the hurdles, but I also have placed them in my path because of sin in my life. As I am steered back on course by the leading of the almighty loving Father, I find forgiveness, compassion, blessings, and joy.

My story begins in the Southside of Chicago, in the Woodlawn neighborhood. Woodlawn is an area of the city where poverty, destruction, and despair are prevalent. To add to my troubles, I’m a member of a dysfunctional family. My father often neglected his family responsibilities for gambling, and other women. While growing up my problems intensify with a tumultuous relationship with mother. In the midst of pain and strife, I become aware that God is extending His loving hand towards me, and comforts me through the ordeal. I find peace in the midst of storm as I draw nigh unto Him.

As I come into adulthood, I don’t have the same struggles I had as a child. However, there is a new set waiting for me in this new season of my life. The new battles are men, friends, employers and even my siblings. I exhaust a lot of precious time and energy fighting the wrong battles. There is a conflict between my spirit and my flesh. I adopt a part-time relationship with God to spend time with the world. My relationship with God still exists, but I have lost the zeal I had as a child, along with my childlike faith. Unbeknownst to me, I have also lost my joy and have sunk into a depression. Growing up, I often had people to ask me, “Why do you smile so much?” My smile, along with my peace, was replaced with sadness and chronic crying.

By age 27, it felt as though everything that could go wrong in my life was. There were struggles with my finances, my employment and with my relationships. No longer did I feel I was succeeding, but failing. It appeared as though my life was on a downward spiral. It was at this point that I came to myself. Events of my life played out through my mind as I knelt down on the floor at the foot of my bed. I thought to myself, “I have done things my way long enough, let me try it God’s way.” It was at this point that my life made took a turn for my good. There have been other challenges, trials and tribulations along the way, but I have stayed the course. I’m back with my first love.

What kind of research was involved in writing Return to Your First Love?

I researched the Bible to find passages of scripture to support my arguments, and to show parallels of events that have occurred in my life. I want to demonstrate that God’s Word is true.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

The ride to getting a book published is not bumpy. It is more like trying to climb a mountain with your bare hands. I would love to meet someone who has had the smooth sailing experience.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

It took six months to release the book.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I don’t have an agent. I believe it is easier to get published if you do have one. It is difficult, but not impossible to get published without an agent. I’m proof of that.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I do. I plan to elaborate on topics covered in Return to Your First Love, such as marriage and family dysfunction.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

I usually like to write in the comfort of my bedroom. I take a journal or pamphlet and listen to Christian music to put me in a rhythm to write.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

If money were no object, my book would be mandatory reading for every young woman starting high school or college. I believe young women will give more thought to their futures after reading my story.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

I believe self-promotion is very important, because your audience is ultimately buying a piece of you. Readers have millions of books to choose from on the market. They want to know, why your book is different from all the others.

I participated in my first offline book signing back in August. I sold a number of copies, which was great. I have another speaking engagement and book signing scheduled in November at the 17th Sexual & Relational Healing Retreat, presented by Labourers for Christ Ministries (www.labourers-for-Christ.org). I have utilized email blasts, for the most part, which has cost me a few hundred dollars. This method can get quite expensive. I have a website and a trailer to promote the book (www.revelation2-4.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OQzT0eQqk4).

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

Return to Your First Love is my first published book and finding a publisher has been an arduous process. I started seeking a publisher two years ago while I was working towards bringing the project to completion. Since that time, I have received a stream of rejection letters until recently. Considering the large number of submissions publishers receive regularly, I understand why they must have a process of elimination when deciding on which books to publish (which usually results in them going with more experienced and accomplished authors). However, I believe that some of the best books never come to fruition because of the industry’s reluctance to recruit new authors. With that said, “new author” does not necessarily mean that the author has no writing experience.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

I am a woman of faith, and I believe that whatever God wants to do through you will come to pass, if you don’t give up. The obstacles are there to see how bad you want it. That is why so many people settle for the mundane, because it is easier to obtain. The publishing process is not for the faint at heart. The experience can be daunting at times. Therefore, you must be tenacious. If you have a story to tell, and the world needs to hear it, press on in faith.

Thank you for your interview, Teresa. I wish you much success!

Thank you! I hope the book blesses everyone!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Night of Flames: A Conversation with Historical Fiction Author Douglas W. Jacobson

Douglas W. Jacobson is an engineer, business owner and World War Two history enthusiast. Doug has traveled extensively in Europe researching stories of the courage of common people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. His debut novel, Night of Flames: A Novel of World War Two was published in 2007 by McBooks Press, and was released in paperback in 2008. Night of Flames won the “2007 Outstanding Achievement Award” from the Wisconsin Library association. Doug has also published articles on Belgium’s WW2 escape organization, the Comet Line and other European resistance organizations. Doug is finishing up his second historical novel set in Europe during WW2, focusing on one of history’s most notorious war crimes. Doug can be visited on-line at http://douglaswjacobson.blogspot.com and www.facebook.com/people/Douglas-W-Jacobson/1041418038.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Doug. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I am a life-long WW2 history enthusiast and have always had a desire to write. I started writing seriously in 2000 following a trip to Normandy and have been inspired by the personal accounts of my Belgian relatives who lived through the German occupation.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Night of Flames is a story of the courage and determination displayed by ordinary people in the face of unimaginable danger. The main characters, Anna, a university professor in Krakow, Poland and her husband, Jan, a cavalry officer, become separated on the first day of the war. Through the long night of Nazi occupation Anna and Jan search for each other while fighting a covert war of sabotage and resistance against the overwhelming might of the German war machine. The struggle seems hopeless, but they are determined to take back what is theirs. I wrote this story to honor the courage of the common people caught up in humanity’s darkest hour.

What kind of research was involved in writing Night of Flames?

My research included extensive reading, internet searches, interviews, and personal travel to museums, archives, libraries and every location in Europe where the main segments of the story take place.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

It’s difficult to answer because I had no idea what to expect. Of course, I received many rejections from literary agents and publishers before finally succeeding in getting the book published, but I never became discouraged.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

Approximately a year and a half.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I do not have an agent and never have. I have tried to interest some agents in my work but have had more success representing myself.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes. I’m just now finishing a second historical novel set in Europe during WW2 which focuses on one of history’s greatest war crimes.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

In Door County, Wisconsin, overlooking the bay of Green Bay.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

I would donate a hundred thousand dollars to Oprah’s favorite charity.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

I believe self-promotion is essential. There is only so much that any publisher will do to promote your book and the rest is up to the author. Off-line, I promote my book through offering to serve as a guest speaker at service clubs, historical societies, libraries, and other organizations. Given the setting of my book, I have also connected nationally with Polish-American and Belgian-American organizations, which has been very successful. This virtual book tour will be my first serious on-line attempt at promotion.

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

I think they doubt their own ability and get discouraged by rejection. Though I became a bit discouraged at times, I never got to a point of wanting to give up. I have spent more than thirty years in business and I have learned that the most important personal attribute for success is perseverance.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Stay the course! Get help from writers groups and writers roundtables, work hard at your craft and, above all, do not think negative thoughts. If you believe in what you’re doing and have the patience to persevere, things will work out.

Thank you for your interview, Doug. I wish you much success!

You are welcome.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Historical Fiction Author Douglas W. Jacobson Talks Connecting with Book Buyers

We have a special guest with us today. His name is Douglas W. Jacobson and he's the author of a brand new historical fiction novel called Night of Flames. Douglas is here with us to talk about how he has been connecting to his book buyers using several approaches. Tomorrow, Douglas will be back with a fantastic interview so stay tuned! I give you Douglas W. Jacobson, author of the historical fiction novel, Night of Flames!

I have been promoting my book locally throughout Wisconsin on radio and TV talk shows, through libraries, local booksellers, and service clubs such as Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions Clubs. I have found that these groups are always looking for speakers and a local author is a natural. The subject and setting of my book (WW2) is also something in which many people are interested, especially veteran’s organizations. I have prepared a variety of different presentations which I can adapt for different audiences and always leave time for questions and book signings. Nationally, I have connected with Polish-American and Belgian-American organizations because of the setting of my book being primarily in Poland and Belgium. All of these organizations have newsletters, weekly papers or some type of publication and are agreeable to publishing articles on subjects of interest to their audiences. What I offer in these cases is to write an article on a topic closely related to the subject of my book (such as the Comet Line escape organization founded in Belgium in 1941, or the covert sabotage operations of the AK, Poland’s Home Army during WW2). I then offer those articles at no charge and arrange to have them published in serial form in two or three editions of their publication. I always include a promo for the book and generally take out an advertisement which gets placed on the same page as the article. My publisher, McBooks Press, arranged all of the basic promotion when the book was first released by getting it placed on Amazon, and getting it into the distribution chain for Barnes & Noble, Borders and all the other booksellers. They have also been supportive my individual activities by sharing in the cost of ads, making free copies of the books available for bloggers, and helping out with my blogspot. Just recently I have decided to enter the world of on-line promotion and have contracted with Pump-Up-Your Book to do a virtual book tour. I’m excited about this great new avenue to connect with thousands of readers on-line.

Douglas W. Jacobson is an engineer, business owner and World War Two history enthusiast. Doug has traveled extensively in Europe researching stories of the courage of common people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. His debut novel, Night of Flames: A Novel of World War Two was published in 2007 by McBooks Press, and was released in paperback in 2008. Night of Flames won the 2007 OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD from the Wisconsin Library Association. Doug has also published articles on Belgium’s WW2 escape organization, the Comete Line; Poland’s 1st Armored Division; and the liberation of Antwerp. Doug has just completed his second novel set in Europe at the end of WW2. You can visit his blog at www.douglaswjacobson.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Pump Up Your Book Promotion Nominated Best Blog Tour Group Award

It's official! Pump Up Your Book Promotion has made the short list at BBAW for Best Blog Tour Group!

Book Blogger Appreciation was started by Amy Riley of My Friend Amy in an effort to recognize the hard work and contribution of book bloggers to the promotion and preservation of a literate culture actively engaged in discussing books, authors, and a lifestyle of reading.

The first Book Blogger Appreciation was observed in the fall of 2008 and occurs every September. The week spotlights and celebrates the work of active book bloggers through guest posts, awards, giveaways, and community activities.

We are honored to be on their short list for Best Blog Tour Group and would appreciate everyone''s vote. All you have to do is visit http://bookbloggerappreciationweek.com/index.php/awards#pd_a_1964022 and look for the "Best Blog Tour Group" poll.

We appreciate your kindness! Polls end on Saturday just before midnight so cast those votes early. Thank you!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams: Interview with NBA's Orlando Magic Co-founder Pat Williams

Pat Williams is the senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. He is a popular motivational speaker averaging over 150 appearances a year. Williams has spent 45 years in professional baseball and basketball as a player and executive. He served as general manager of the 1983 world champion Philadelphia 76ers and managed the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks.

Williams is the author of 55 books. He and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of 19 children, including 14 adopted from four nations. He and his family have been featured in such diverse publications as Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, The Wall Street Journal, and Focus on the Family as well as all the major TV networks. Pat and Ruth recently received an award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute for their efforts in adoption. To learn more about Pat Williams, visit www.PatWilliamsMotivate.com.

Thank you for this interview, Pat. Can we begin by having you tell us why you chose to write a business book on team building?

I have been fascinated by the teamwork process for decades. I have spent my entire adult life building sports teams and am convinced those principles for great sports teams transfer over into every walk of life, including the corporate world.

Did you outline before you wrote your book or just went with the flow?

My outline for this book was first created in the mid-90s as part of a speech I began to give to corporate America . I have stayed with that outline ever since in my speaking and writing because I feel it is spot on.

What kind of research did you do before putting this book together?

My process is somewhat unique. I research nonstop on the topics of teamwork and leadership. I am reading relentlessly, I interview leaders and team builders in many venues and continue this process on a daily basis.

Can you tell us if you interviewed people for this book and can you give us an example of who?

Over the years I have interviewed hundreds of people about teamwork and leadership. Whenever I cross paths with a successful team builder I want to pick their brain and pickup a tidbit or two. You can always learn more. Some people I’ve run into over their years are Colin Powell, Howard Schultz, Joe Torre and Mike Ditka.

Did you get endorsements for your book prior to publication and can you tell us how you went about getting them?

This book is loaded with great endorsers. Here’s how we go about it: When the manuscript is in final form, I will ship off 40-50 copies along with a cover letter to people who might be interested in doing a blurb. We operate on the 20% rule: 80% will say “no” or never respond, but 20% give you a terrific list of names.

What was the hardest part to write?

The entire book is hard to write. It’s like giving birth to a roll of barbed wire. It takes total focus and intense work for a long period of time. However, when the book is completed, it’s just about the proudest moment of your life. When the book first arrives from the publisher, it is an enormous thrill.
What message are you trying to get across to your readers with this book?

I am challenging people to shatter their mental restrictions and reach out to solve the world’s biggest problems. We can do this; however, you have got to build a team to have your dreams come true. Collectively, all of us can be an unstoppable force.

Do you plan on writing more books of this nature or do you have something different in mind?

I have more books in the works. My wife, Ruth, and I have just finished a book on marriage that will be out in November, Happy Spouse Happy House. I am also writing a book about NBA coaching legend, Chuck Daly.

Thank you for this interview, Pat. Can you tell us where we can find out more about you and your wonderful new book?

Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams is in bookstores in the business sections under “Management.” It’s also available at amazon.com and other online book retailers.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Young adult romance author racks up 100 reviews with self-published book

If anyone knows about Blog Talk radio, you might have heard a certain British host who loves to talk about books. Not only does he love to talk to authors about their books, he sometimes manages to get a word in edgewise about his terrific young adult romance novel, Across the Pond, on his show called A Book and a Chat.

Across the Pond isn't your ordinary young adult romance novel, although the author, Barry Eva with-the-accent-to-die-for, never gives any airs about it being any different except this particular young adult romance novel has already racked up 100 reviews at Amazon.

As an author myself, I find this incredible. What does it take to get that many and how about those costs of mailing that book out? Who has that kind of money? Being the nosy one, I had to find the answers so I went straight to the horse's mouth and asked him.

The first thing I wanted to know about was one of the services he used, Bostick Communications, "an innovative press release distribution service with value added features that enhance media placement." Barry says he only used Bostick in the last month which cost $75. "They sent me contact where I sent out about 15 books," he says, "of which I have had about 9 reviews."

"I have used Readers Spoils," he continues, "to start with plus a couple of other locations and, of course, I sent copies to bloggers outside of any sources.

"Reader Spoils is $15 a review option and you send a pdf file rather than an actual book, so it's actually cheaper than sending a book, no book cost and no postage."

I had never heard of Reader Spoils, but it was interesting that it was one service that would accept pdfs which would most definitely make it cheaper for the author. So, out of all the services he used and all the bloggers he contacted or who contacted him, how did this compute in terms of percentages of what went where?

"I would say that looking at the reviews I am about 30% from services, 30% bloggers and 40% just people who have enjoyed the book," he says. "I have had to work hard on getting this number of reviews, including adding a thank you letter in sales and asking that if the reader enjoys the book that they provide a review at Amazon. It does not take much and people are normally very helpful in doing this for the author.

"You have to spend to get your name out there, but you can spend wisely. The costs I have made are nothing compared to what many people do getting agents, publicists, and as I have reported on in my Promotion on a Budget blogs. Let's face it when some book publishers are asking hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of dollars for Social network free services. What was it the other day book videos from Amazon for over $2000, people who charge $100 for a blog radio interview. It goes on all the time.

"I will never make the money back and plough all the money from sales back into getting your name out there, but for the next book it will help. And just think, when I am at book events, how good it will look to have "over 100 reviews on Amazon, and the items like compared to..." Also to be able to share some of the better reviews with possible purchasers.

"I did not aim to get reviews at all. It started with trying to get the name and the book name out there, and then the follow up with bloggers asking and being asked for interviews and reviews.

"I know a lot of people believe in book stores, etc., but as I have stated on numerous occasions, interviews, radio programs, etc., one YA blog with 30/40 followers spreads to other blogs and other blogs like a pyramid letter campaign. A book store is a visit, and it's over. Blogs radio shows, reviews, interviews are there forever.

"Going back to something I said before, how many other people when they sell a book, add a thank you note and ask if the person can let you know if they enjoy it? If they do let you know, then normally they will if you ask them do a review. The same goes for bloggers who interview you or who review the book.

"I do not know how much people take note of the Amazon reviews, BUT I know it's something I can use, something that becomes more important as Amazon is now one of if not the main global book seller.

"Don't forget publicity leads to name recognition."

Barry is one smart writer and one smart book promoter. He started out just trying to get his name and book out there and by surprise, he ended up with 100 reviews at Amazon. I am sure if Barry continues with his promotions, by the time you read this, he'll be well on his way to reaping even more positive reviews and that's what the book promotion game is all about.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Why Everyone Feels They Have a Book in Them

Why Everyone Feels They Have a Book in Them
by Joanne Sundell

I hear it a lot a signings, the inevitable comment, “I have so many stories in me and just don’t have time now to write.” Or, “I’m going to write books after I retire; piece of cake.”

It’s hard for me to hold my tongue, but I do. I wait and listen, often asking the passers-by what story they have in them? What is their passion, their genre? This usually stops the comments coming and sometimes spurs the passer-by to actually pick up my book and study it for the first time. It goes without saying that some folks who troll bookstores today either wish they could write, or think it is, in fact, “a piece of cake.”

I’ve also gotten the comment, “When you decided to publish …”

This cracks me up, as if we could wave a magic wand and be published! Magic!

There might be a correlation between the folks who are sure they have a book in them and the folks who are truly naive about the publishing industry. In no way do I mean to discount those sincere folks who yearn to write “the story they have inside” but haven’t been able to get started as yet. Those are the ones that I love to chat it up with. We writers must support one another and reach out, networking when and where we can. I enjoy discussing all of the how-to’s and how-not-to’s with those interested in getting started. I think many folks who have not yet penned their book are intimidated by … well … by all of it: writing, critique, rejection, reviews, agents, editors etc etc etc! During our chats, we trouble-shoot together and try to figure a way to get started and get it done.

Common to many romance authors in particular, I began writing my own after I thought, mistakenly or not, that I’d read most authors in the historical romance genre and began wondering if … dare I say it … if I could write my own stories. I then took the time I usually spent reading romance and devoted that time to trying to write romance. The transition, I’m happy to report, went smoothly and continues to this day.

I already knew I wanted to write in the historical romance genre, but it was only when I began researching in earnest, that I found my passion to begin writing and keep on writing: I fell in love with the Victorian Era and old-fashioned romance, absolutely hooked on history and the romance, long-buried within it!

Happy Writing, Everyone!

Joanne Sundell’s first sale was in 2005, to Five Star, Gale, Cengage Learning. The prime market for Five Star Expressions is the library market, but Five Star’s books are also available on-line at Barnes & Noble and all bookstores. The Five Star Expressions line is a combination of romance and women’s fiction. Joanne’s particular interest is in historical romance with suspenseful elements.

To date, Joanne’s sales to Five Star include: MATCHMAKER, MATCHMAKER (06), A…MY NAME’S AMELIA (07) also out in Large Print, THE PARLOR HOUSE DAUGHTER (08) also out in Large Print, MEGGIE’S REMAINS (09), & THE QUAKER AND THE CONFEDERATE upcoming series (5/10, 9/10). Joanne’s first sale was reviewed nationally by Booklist, her second by Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, and her third by Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist. A…MY NAME’S AMELIA garnered a top 4&1/2 star rating from Romantic Times Magazine.


History is always a strong character in Joanne’s books, with her first four stories set in colorful, turbulent Colorado history and her next, a two-book series set in Civil War Virginia. As important as it is for Joanne to convey a strong, credible, historical flavor of the time, it is equally important for Joanne to portray strong, credible heroines and heroes. A strong, determined heroine deserves an equally strong and determined hero. Joanne grew up reading romance, historical and contemporary, falling in love with heroes and heroines from Regency England to the American West, from London’s pubs to Colorado’s ski slopes, loving that moment when the hero and heroine meet and fall in love. That moment to Joanne is the moment when Jane Eyre meets Edward Rochester, when Elizabeth Bennett meets Mr. Darcy … that’s the heart-stopping, passionate moment for Joanne in romance. That moment is what led her to attempt traditional, old-fashioned historical romance.

With her three, Colorado-mountain-raised-children grown and off on their own adventures, Joanne lives part-time in Colorado and California, with her husband and their entourage` of felines and huskies.

Joanne is a member of Colorado Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Los Angeles Romance Authors.

e-mail Joanne: author@joannesundell.com

www.joannesundell.com

www.joannesundell/blogspot.com

www.myspace.com/joannesundell

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

10 Things People Don't Know About Young Adult Fantasy Autthor Marcus Dino

Marcus Dino has had an interesting professional career, first as an Aerospace engineer, next as a passionate math teacher teaching in urban Los Angeles which he currently still does, and finally, as a part time literary fiction author. It is Mr Dino’s being a die hard movie buff that led him to writing Diary of a Mad Gen Yer in addition to his first novel, Fifi, Anything goes in the Double Os, first published in 2003. Mr Dino is a graduate of Chapman University and he also has Masters Degrees in both Education and Electrical Engineering. Diary of a Mad Gen Yer and Fifi can be found at www.smashwords.com and www.summertimeproductions.net. Mr Dino’s personal website which includes numerous blogs, short stories, and poems involving his central character Fifi Larouche, which helped inspire him to write his anthology, Diary of a Mad Gen Yer, can be found at www.authorsden.com/marcusdino.

And now, here are 10 things you might not know about young adult fantasy author Marcus Dino...

10 Things People Don't Know About Young Adult Fantasy Author Marcus Dino

1) His favorite television show was Star Trek (the 1960s original), this where he got ideas for characters such as Alocki and Helos in Diary of a Mad Gen Yer.
2) He grew up a 'military brat' and lived on or near military bases in Hawaii, California, and Florida.
3) He believes in the afterlife and attended a one week spiritual retreat that focused on 'astral traveling.' He never learned how to astral travel however but some people in the group said they did. This inspired him to write 'Dinosaurs that play the Harp' in Diary of a Mad Gen Yer.
4) He was the president of his high school science club
5) He was rejected from a Marine Corps Officer program back in college because of his eyesight
6) He was active with the Civil Air Patrol back in high school.
7) He worked as an aerospace engineer in San Diego a few years back and lived in a nice beach side condo which had gorgeous ocean views.
8) He's done extensive traveling to places like Hawaii, Japan, the Ukraine, Cancun and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, plus practically to every state in the 'lower 48.' He loves traveling almost as much as he enjoys writing.
9) He loves Italian food but doesn't care much for liver or cauliflower.
10) His first published work was his thesis for his Masters Degree in Engineering called Reliability, Analysis, and Evaluation of fixed film capacitors.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Diary of a Mad Gen Yer: Interview with young adult fantasy author Marcus Dino

We have a very unusual interview today. Marcus Dino, author of the young adult fiction novel, Diary of a Mad Gen Yer, could not be with us so in his place is Fifi Larouche, the heroine in his book. Enjoy!

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Fifi. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Omigosh, I’m so excited to be at the Writer’s Life. First I need to tell you people that I am Fifi Larouche, heroine of Diary of a Mad Gen Yer. Marcus says he so busy doing interviews with other blogs, so he asked me to fill in. You people now know that I’m a real person and I give Marcus all my ideas and stuff and he then writes them down. I mean he’s like a glorified typist, he’s a bit better in grammatical stuff and besides I need to focus on my acting, so that’s why he writes my stories. Nothing against him but he would write a sentence like ‘Fifi was sitting on a bar stool and a kindly gentleman with a long ponytail asked her if he could buy her a drink but was politely refused,’ so drab and dull. But I would say “The lecherous handsome ponytailed wolf approached innocent Fifi sitting on a bar stool, leered at her, then growled and asked if he could buy her a drink, in which Fifi quietly replied “Get your big snout out of my face or I will take this rum and cola that I am currently drinking and hurl it at your beady eyes.” I’m a bit more dramatic, wouldn’t you agree? You people know about Marcus from the bio above, as for me I’m a struggling actress/waitress living in Van Nuys but I have no doubts that I will soon be one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses, I mean between you and I there’s not a lot of talented people out there right now, I don’t know how these people get picked. Now as for my writing career, well I’ve been writing my entire life, ever since I was a little girl I would write like a daily diary.

Can you please tell us about your book?

Well Diary of a Mad Gen Yer, currently in EBook form, is about me, Fifi Larouche, a struggling young actress and all the silly events that happen as I go through my day to day struggles with my acting career, my relationships with family and friends, and with my lovely waitressing job at a Sherman Oaks, California coffee shop. A lot of fantasy type stuff like silly dreams I have such as in ‘Gobble Gobble Gobble’ where I travel back to Plymouth Massachusetts and the First Thanksgiving or ‘The Astro Olympics’ where I’m competing in sporting events with aliens from other planets. Speaking of aliens there’s a character in the book named Alocki, an alien from another planet and the smartest person I ever met, there’s Biff my liberal boyfriend who is also a struggling actor, there’s the 200 year old Great Writer, who lives in the “Astral World’, and scoffs at today’s art and literature as ‘so amateurish,’ and there’s my fairy counterpart Fifi from the ‘Alternate Earth’ who wants to help and give people advice, not just pour pixie dust over them. Diary also includes my silly poems and silly blogs, it’s sort of a prequel to my first book, my autobiography Fifi, Anything Goes in the Double Os, but while Fifi stresses my acting career and whether I make it in Hollywood, Diary stresses my day to day life as a struggling actress. Now why did I write this book, omigosh wouldn’t you write a book after you see all the silly adventures I go through in Diary?

What kind of research was involved in writing Diary of a Mad Gen Yer?

Oh I just spent hours and hours in the big university libraries doing tons and tons of research. I spent days and days on the internet doing all kinds of research. I had to spend hours and hours checking up on all those quotes and sources; you know that’s the first thing they teach you in journalism school right? You people are so funny for being so serious, again the stories and silly poems and silly blogs in Diary are just things that I encountered on a daily basis or came out of my head, no research required at all, none, well that’s not true, I did a little research to see how far Alpha Centauri, the star system where Alocki is from, is from Earth. It’s like 4.3 light years away, I have no idea how Alocki and her companion Helos can travel so far, and she still looks thirty- fivish (in Earth years).

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

It’s never easy being a successful published author just like it’s never easy being a successful actress. Expect rejection, expect failure, and expect taking time building a readership. These things take hard work, they take time, and yes you have to spend a little money to be successful. All that editing to check for every minute typo, all that communication between you and your publisher, all that time trying to write the most entertaining book you can possibly write, and yes all that time and effort spent on marketing and publicity, but when you see the fruits of your labor, well there’s no greater rush. So let’s just say initially it’s been a bumpy ride and now we’re doing a little more smoother sailing, you know there’s an occasional typhoon on the horizon but it’s smoother sailing than it was at the beginning.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

How about immediately as Diary is currently self published as an eBook. Our first publishing platform is Smashwords. Later on we plan to get Diary published as a printed book.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I (or specifically Marcus) currently am represented by the publisher Summertime Productions. As for the necessity of having an agent, I truly believe your writing talent gets you through the door with these publishers, your writing talent and strong publicity gets readers to read your book, not whether you’re represented by an agent. However an agent can be important when an author say does contract negotiations on things like royalty payments, but there have been many successful authors who have bypassed going with an agent.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Does the Earth continue to spin? Does the Sun go up and down every day? Of course as long as I’m around there will be subsequent books. How about Diary of a Rich Mad Gen Yer in a few years as I will no longer be a struggling actress.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

Oh my favorite place to write is in my bedroom closet while standing on my head. I’m just kidding, there’s no favorite place for me to write. Sometimes I write my silly stories on my laptop at a local coffee shop. Sometimes I write my silly blogs on my laptop in my bedroom. Sometimes I will take my laptop to the restaurant where I work and write on my laptop during my ‘free time’ in a small back room where no one ever goes. Don’t tell this to my boss Petros. He keeps wondering why I take such long coffee breaks.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

If money was no object I would spend as much as I can on getting the best publicity for my books, both Fifi and Diary, as possible. There would be big billboards all over the place, from San Diego to Maine, from Shanghai to the Sahara, showing a picture of little redheaded me, moi, with the heading Diary of a Mad Gen Yer or Fifi, Anything Goes in the Double Os, and the words 'Buy these darned books they’re funny,’ behind me.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Omigosh self promotion is the most important thing in the world. You have to promote by every means possible. For Fifi we’ve gone to every book festival you can imagine, including big ones like the LA Times festival in April, we’ve used flyers, bookmarks, we’ve been on radio shows, and of course we’ve had book signings at big chain stores such as Hastings and at numerous independent bookstores, now that’s just some of the offline activities. As for the online activities well there’s this virtual blog tour we’re doing for Diary, we already have Fifi and are in the process of getting Diary in every major online bookstore. We’ve had numerous reviews from both individual readers and from some well known online reviewers (They’ve all been positive so far), finally there’s our two major websites, first at Summertime Productions and second at Authors Den. You people want to read a funny story? Read Fifi’s Thoughts on Authors Den. So yes we are doing a lot of promoting, the only way you can get people to notice you.

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

You people need to realize that as an actress I will never give up, ever. The same can be said with being a co writer for Fifi and Diary. So no the thought of giving up never occurred to me, I know Marcus feel the same. Fifi my autobiography continues to sell on the internet but of course like anything else it takes time to get results, when you’re not well know you expect rejections from one traditional publisher after another, when you self publish it takes time to build a readership like I am currently building at my Authors Den web site. So to answer your first question some very talented writers and from what I have seen, there are many many talented new writers, both who self publish or have their books published by a traditional publisher, who perhaps have because they have not been able to generate sales or develop a loyal readership, sadly may give up their dreams. But again I tell everyone not to give up. Pursue your dream as much as possible. I mean look at all these other people, some not very talented, who got their ‘lucky break.’

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Like I said before, don’t give up on your dreams. As long as you’ve got an imagination why keep it in your head, your creative ‘right cerebrum?’ Who else is going to write a book about a silly gen y girl who says ‘Omigosh’ all the time and likes to sing the French National anthem for kicks?

Thank you for your interview, Marcus I mean ‘Fifi.’ I wish you much success!

Thank you, OK I’m out………………………………..

Sorry I’m a little late, I was held up in traffic, I’m Marcus Dino, author of Diary of a Mad Gen Yer…..What?…… Who did the interview?............... That girl is going to drive me crazy………..