Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Prepared! Or The Bare Table and The Handy Traveling Kit

Prepared! , or The Bare Table and The Handy Traveling Kit By Jennie Helderman

Oh, the glamour of book signings, the admiring crowd coiled through the book store and down the street, the cha-ching of the cash register sounding each sale, oh what a dream!
The store overflowed at my first ever book signing and I floated like a balloon, even if the store was a dollhouse that held only a dozen people, some of whom were related to me.
I was still inflated the next day in a city with a metro-sized store. Even when no one seemed to expect me. Past the aisles of Stephen King books, I searched, around the floor-to-ceiling John Grisham displays, and beyond the bargain-book bin, until finally in a corner I found one lone, unadorned card table and chair. No banners, no table-top sign, not even any of my books were in sight.

Suffice to say that books did appear and I did sign---about one book per hour. Had the store prepared displays, more people---I had time to spare. I rearranged the books, adding mine to those of Stephen King, etc. I’d never heard of product placement fees and no one objected. They didn’t even notice. They didn’t notice when the time ended and I left the store.

Years later I read a collection of book signing stories by famous authors. Nearly everyone had an experience similar to mine at some time.

So now, seasoned author that I am, how do I avoid a repeat of that book signing. What have I done to promote As the Sycamore Grows?

First, I hired two publicists. One is the go-to person for book events in the Atlanta area where I live, and the other is on the west coast and equally connected with national news media. Their fees were an investment, but a sound one. They had access to people and places I had no knowledge of. They know bloggers such as The Writer’s Life. And of course, there’s the Hollywood scene. That’s pie in the sky but worth the effort if it happens.

While these two were working their phones, booking me here and there, I put together a handy traveling kit. First, I ordered a 7 foot tall banner with a 4-color facsimile of the book cover and a blurb on it. The banner retracts like a window shade into a metal cylinder that sits on the floor. It weighs about 11 oz. and fits into a canvas case, so easily portable and can be assembled in thirty seconds. The banner goes up as a backdrop at any book talk, or is placed in a prominent place in book stores for book signings. It attracts attention, shows the book and tells something about it, thus stirring interest in passersby. It stands out in all photos made at an event. Banners are available at office supply stores and online through trade show and display equipment sales. The prices range from about $100 way up. I spent $250 and, again, I think this was a good investment.

I also ordered several 11 x 14 posters of the book cover with self-stands attached, these to be set up around a store during a signing. One store owner asked me to sign the poster and leave it with him as a permanent display. Price on such posters is about $10-15. I got the same on 8 ½ x 11 inch paper to use as flyers. When I have an event scheduled, I’ll send ahead several flyers and a poster for pre-event promotion.

I’m a believer in the 7 Times Rule: A customer needs to see something seven times before he remembers it. Thus, my next recommendation is giveaways. Bookmarks are so common they’re expected. And they’re inexpensive. A book store owner suggested that I also give, especially to stores, something useful and lasting. Good pens are an example. I did post-it-type notes with a picture of the book cover on them. Affordable and available from trade show suppliers.
Next I put together a book trailer and some videos from book talks. These I set up to loop and place them around the book event. I use my laptop for one, which stays close by me, but for another I use a digital photo frame, the kind grandparents have with albums of grandkids pictured. Again, these draw people in and get them interested or asking about the book.
Add a small table cloth to the kit, just in case, an easel to hold one book, and a supply of retractable Sharpies with fine points. The Sharpies won’t smear like ballpoint pens do. And I’m set to do a talk or book signing.

I’ve used every piece in my kit over and over. Even when I returned to my hometown for a book signing, this time at a big bookstore in the mall. They knew I was coming. Nevertheless, I walked up and down the aisles until there, in the back corner---yes, the bare card table. No problem. With my handy traveling kit, I had it transformed into a sales platform for me in less than five minutes. And with posters and teasers strategically placed about the store pointing people my way.

The crowds aren’t lined up in coils through the stores yet, but I’m ready when they come.

# # #

Jennie Helderman broke the glass ceiling at age ten by becoming the first girl page in the Alabama State Legislature. That surge of girl power wouldn’t be the last time she saw a need to put women’s issues at the forefront. Years later, after she helped set up a crisis-call center in an old house, a cry for help at the other end of the phone line resounded in her head. That call was the catalyst; eventually, the empty bedrooms upstairs served as the community’s first shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

From there, Helderman began work with women’s issues and leadership, community development, public relations and communications, beginning in Gadsden, Alabama, and reaching to national levels. She has championed women’s and children’s issues and worked with child abuse victims. From 2000 until her term expired in 2006, she presided over the six-member board of the Alabama Department of Human Resources, which serves 520,000 clients each month and oversees all family abuse issues in the state.

A 2007 Pushcart Prize nominee, Helderman coauthored two nonfiction books, Christmas Trivia and Hanukkah Trivia and writes profiles for magazines. Previously she chaired the editorial board of the 120,000 circulation alumnae magazine of Kappa Kappa Gamma, The Key.

Her latest book is As the Sycamore Grows.

Helderman is married to a retired newspaper publisher; is the mother of two and grandmother of three; and has recently moved from Alabama to Atlanta. Her website address is www.jenniehelderman.com.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Spotlight: One Pelican at a Time by Nancy Stewart


Bella and Britt love living by the beach. When they find oil washing to shore from a gulf spill, they want to help but are told there is nothing for kids to do. But when their old friend, the pelican, becomes covered with oil, they help save his life by their quick thinking and action.

Read an excerpt:


As days passed, the girls waited and watched while adults tried to fix the problem. That is, until they saw the old pelican leave his perch and plunge into a patch of sticky sea.

Britt gasped. “Will he come back up?”

“If he does, how can he live? Bella questioned.

But he did come to the surface, covered in heavy, tacky oil. He looked at them, and they looked at him. And the girls took action.

“Help! Help us help the pelican!” both girls screamed.

A young man who, on such a hot, summer day, would be renting colorful umbrellas to beachgoers, sat alone on the sand.

“What’s the trouble?” he shouted, running toward the girls.

“The old pelican! The old pelican! We have to save him!” Bella sobbed.

“Come on. No time to lose!” The young man sprinted down the beach to the clean-up crews.

“Ah, I know that old bird,” nodded the crew chief. “Let’s go get him.”

Read the reviews!

"This book will help your youngster learn how he/she can help wildlife when faced with the disasters of an oil spill; it also stresses the dangers and need for proper handling of the oil. The illustrations are like a water color, very nicely done. Good book for opening up discussions on what can be done and how.”

–4 the Love of Books

“One Pelican at a Time is a touching story of how the Gulf Oil spill has impacted the wildlife in the area. It encourages kids to be green in their actions and encourages parents to make sure that something like this never happens again. Additional resources are listed in the back of the book for your children in case you want to include this in a unit study about oil spills or our environment. Definitely a great way to explain the oil spill to children and to encourage them to do their part for our environment.”

–Confessions of an Overworked Mom

“I love the message that this book sends and the encouragement it provides to kids who want to get involved and take action. It is written in easy to understand language without sounding too childish. It is a complicated topic for kids to grasp but I think the author does a good job at explaining it.”

–Turning the Clock Back

“If you are a concerned parent or teacher in search of a good book that will help children learn about caring for the planet, I highly recommend One Pelican at a Time.”

–Melange of Cultures’s Blog


"All in all, I am very impressed with how Author, Nancy Stewart was able to simplify such a horrible incident so that a child could understand it and how she was able to teach hope through a story of children doing their part to save the gulf, one pelican at a time."

--The Adventures of My Family of 8

"The book opens the door to a frank discussion about man’s impact on the environment. Children hear the stories of the spill on the news and in the media, but are distant from it. A child in New York or Michigan can empathize with the people directly impacted by spill through Stewart’s book.

The illustrations brilliantly depict the sorrow in the children’s faces and the oil riding the ocean’s surface and washing onto the beach. Each illustration speaks volumes about the tragedy."


--J. Aday Kennedy: A Writing Playground

"The book is well written and the lovely illustrations by Samantha Bell convey the story perfectly. Kids who read it will enjoy discovering what two children like themselves were able to do to make a difference in the world."

--Janet Ann Collins/Onwords opening eyes, opening hearts

After having been an elementary school teacher, a management consultant with New Options, Inc. in New York City and a university professor of education, Nancy Stewart now writes children’s books full time. She, her husband and three sons, lived in London for eight years, where she was a consultant to several universities, including Cambridge.


Nancy travels extensively throughout the world, most particularly Africa. She is the US chair of a charity in Lamu, Kenya, that places girls in intermediate schools to allow them to further their education.


Nancy is the author of One Pelican at a Time and two other Bella books: Bella Saves the Beach and Sea Turtle Summer. All three are published by Guardian Angel Publishers.


She and her family live in St. Louis and Clearwater Beach, Florida.


You can visit Nancy online at www.nancystewartbooks.com or at her blog www.nancystewartbooks.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interview with 'Me and Bobby McGee' Chad Coenson

Chad Coenson was born in Orlando, FL, but he can barely remember that and pretty much spent most of the years following his birth in a nomadic state of perpetual motion until finally finding a home in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two dogs. He has a degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona and spends his time “trying” not to take life too seriously. Despite his generally adventurous nature and willingness to attempt almost anything, he has never had the opportunity to cast the first stone. Me and Bobby McGee is Coenson’s first novel. You can visit Chad on the web at www.chadcoenson.com.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Chad. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Me and Bobby McGee?

I have always been a writer, since the third grade to be exact, who focused primarily on satirical, short-story fiction and poetry/lyrics. As I grew up, experienced the world more, and naturally became more opinionated, I found my ideas were getting crazier and bigger, such that they could not be contained within these shorter formats. Me and Bobby McGee is the first offspring of that revelation. You see, for the bulk of my existence, writing has always been the easiest and clearest way for me to express myself when I want to get my point across. And conversely, it has acted as an elegantly cryptic mask when I've wanted to address a potentially disagreeable subject matter without the hindrance of a defined personal viewpoint. As a writer, lyricist, performing poet, musician, and dedicated seeker of wonder, I have come to know the human cartoon quite well and developed a unique perspective based on my experiences intrepidly wandering nationally and abroad. From Fiji to Amsterdam, New Zealand to Costa Rica, Tasmania to Mexico, and from Bora Bora to the dusty outlaw campsites found along America’s longest highways; by embracing the beauties of cultural diversity, I’ve come to learn that the most productive and intelligent way to discuss complicated matters and universal controversy is through humor. These notions are the core of what led me to write Me and Bobby McGee.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

The title Me and Bobby McGee was inspired by the Kris Kristofferson song of the same name. The lyric, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose," is a prevalent theme throughout the novel, as the various dimensions and meanings of the phrase are explored. In fact, the idea for the book came to me while I was listening to the song in my car during an excursion to Santa Barbara. This melodic moment of inspiration also led to the creation of one of the main characters, Miss Bobby McGee, a woman of absolute beauty, infinite malice, and guaranteed instability.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

The book is very relative to the current state of national and world affairs, but intentionally avoids being a preachy work that tells people what to think. Instead, it looks to make light of humanity's absurdity while drawing attention to some of the alarming realities found on the dark side of the satire. Comedy is disarming and thus, in a time where people cling to their beliefs (social, political, religious) like loaded shotguns ready to be fired at anyone with an opposing view point, I feel it is important to provoke the type of unified communication that only laughter can inspire, with the hopes that it paves the way for civilized conversations about societal folly as opposed to bias-blinded debates. And if nothing else, I wanted to bring a bit more merriment into the world.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

I was published by a small press, Inkwater, out of Portland, OR so their reach as far as publicity goes is a little limited. They did however do a great job getting me some early reviews and booking me to appear at a couple of events. They also did some book giveaways which was certainly helpful. Taking that part out of the equation, I have quarterbacked the rest of the publicity myself. By that I mean I researched and hired a professional publicist, Charlie Barrett. He has really gotten things going for me and has been essential in spreading the word about the book nationally, setting up radio and online interviews, and dramatically increasing the number of reviews Me and Bobby McGee has received. And though Charlie keeps me extremely busy just with his efforts, individually, I have gone to all of the independent bookstores in town and gotten my novel in their shop either by leveraging the number of positive reviews the book has garnered to convince shops to order directly from distribution (as was the case with Powell's Books) or by setting up consignment deals. I am also an alumni of the University of Arizona's creative writing program and so I utilized this connection with the school for additional publicity, which ultimately allotted me a spot presenting at the Tucson Festival of Books, an annual event that hosts 80,000+ people.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

Comparatively, Me and Bobby McGee, is somewhat of a hybrid. If John Kennedy Toole's Confederacy of Dunces and Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas cross-pollinated and the offspring was adopted and raised by Kurt Vonnegut, then you would pretty much have the DNA for Me and Bobby McGee. It shares the blatant humor of Toole's work, the pace and sharp cynicism abound in Fear and Loathing, and the satirical absurdity disguising frightening truths found in the vast pages of Vonnegut. And despite these connections, I believe the story and writing style remain wholly original. Furthermore, even though the fore mentioned writers have produced timeless works, Me and Bobby McGee is a satire that takes into account the modern social and political landscape as well, basing the core of its absurdity on current issues while still addressing the stagnant and enduring challenges of humanity.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

On page 102 the main character/narrator, Keesey Cypher, has just completed an enigmatic errand down in Mexico for a seemingly sinister group of individuals to which he owed money after being cleaned out in an Absinthe-aided poker game. Thinking he is finally free of his debts, Cypher has just returned to the north side of the border only to find a car, occupied by two gangster-like-henchmen, waiting for him. Wary of the situation Keesey gets into the black Cadillac and they take off for an undisclosed location. Exhausted with ambiguity and annoyed by the New Jersey attitude of the driver, the former assassin inside of Cypher is suddenly roused. In an instant he gains control of the situation by snapping the passenger's neck and punching the driver squarely in the nose, shattering its delicate frame. Of course, control never comes that easy. Cypher soon finds out that the man he has just killed was "the boss's" nephew, and that the vehicle's driver is a whiny hemophiliac on track to die from the relentless gushing of a recently incurred bloody nose.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I do plan subsequent books and am currently working on one but it is not a sequel, and actually beyond the genre, it is completely different from Me and Bobby McGee. That being said, I have a feeling old Keesey Cypher will appear again sometime in the future as there are a few small loose ends to tie with regards to his past, and plenty of other types of trouble for him to stumble into. Admittedly, I had not considered bringing him back for another absurd go-round, but the response I have been getting from this novel, and the affinity people seem to have developed for Cypher and some of the other characters has got we wondering what other global mischief they can incite from the depths of the underground and the outskirts of exile.

Q: Thank you for your interview, chad. Do you have any final words?

Keep thinking, it's good for your health.

An Interview with 'My Life & 1000 Houses' Mitch Stephen

Mitch Stephen has been a full time investor since March ‘96. He’s flipped 1000+ properties and is author of the book, My Life & 1000 Houses. You may download the first 100 ages of his book at www.1000Houses.com. His autobiography is one of a high school graduate striving to find his place in the world. With over (70 ) 5 STAR REVIEWS, it is evident that this author has mastered the art of delivering inspiration and an educational value in a most entertaining way. In short, My Life & 1,000 Houses depicts the trails and tribulations of an amateur business man who stumbles upon the great, long standing revelations, of business, money, love and life while struggling to find his own financial freedom.

Mitch Stephen was honored by the San Antonio Real Estate Investor’s Association (SREIA) in 2007. Despite the fact that he’d never been on the board or held an official position, the president, sitting board and over 800 members voted to dedicate the offices in his name…the “Mitch Stephen Investment Center.”

Mitch is also an avid songwriter. He likes to say, “I’ve been writing songs for over thirty years…and I’m going to get good at it any day now!” That being said, Stephen took honors at the 2005 Tejano Music Awards, winning “Crossover Song of the Year” for his part in co-writing the song “Who’s That Gringo” performed by multiple Grammy Award winner David Lee Garza and group Los Musicales; Co-writer Billy O’Rourke. Hear much of Mitch’s music at www.MitchStephen.com -over 45 original songs!

Today Mitch’s interests have expanded into several real estate related businesses:

Mitch Stephen is actively involved in the San Antonio . Texas real estate community:

- Mitch provides owner financing opportunities to “would be home owners” who cannot fit into institutions mortgage programs. www.Homes2Go.NET

- Mitch loans hard money to proven real estate investors who cannot find institutional money. www.Loans2Go.NET

- Mitch offers boat and mini storage units in and about Canyon Lake , Texas www.CanyonLakeStorage.com

- Mitch offers affordable office space to entrepreneurs in NE San Antonio

210-669-4020

Last but not least, Mitch and his family support Community Bible Church (CBC) of San Antonio , TX . If you are interested in why Mitch attends CBC, you may tune in online at www.CBConline.com. Watch and listen to Pastor Robert Emmitt’s unique talent for bring the good news to the world.

You can visit his website at www.1000Houses.com. Connect with him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mitch_stephen or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1074602878 and http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/My-Life-1000-Houses/129994207021032.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Mitch. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, My Life & 1,000 Houses?

I’ve been writing songs for over 30 years but one day something tragic happened in my life and I guess I responded by writing in the style of a book. I started in 2004. I actually wrote 800 pages and carved out what became My Life & 1,000 Houses; Failing Forward to Financial Freedom.

I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

I thought it was a name that would make a person slow down and take a look at the book. I wanted to hone in on a niche that I could identify easily. Real estate agents, brokers, and investors was an obvious group. While the book does use real estate investing as the backdrop, it could be enjoyed by many other types of people

Why did you believe your book should be published?

I’ve been around the real estate business a long time. More importantly I’ve done my fair share of deals… I’ve live it! People constantly wanted to understand how I was able to do some of the things I did and it was virtually impossible to explain to them over lunch or even a few days. Another thing I couldn’t tell them in a short meeting was how life intertwines with business. How the natural laws of the universe can work for and/or against you. I had something to say and for whatever reason I was moved to get it out to the public.

We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

I self published so there has been no outside help, but I’ll tell you a little of what I did to get on the map as an author. I hired a social media coach for a few months and started using twitter and FaceBook…asking if anyone wanted to interview me about my book. I did get takers and I recorded those interviews and use them in my email signature religiously. I paid for someone to get me available in all the different formats; Paperback, Audio CDs, e-Audio, e-Book, Kindle, Nook. After reading the reviews at Amazon.com, I decided to give the first 100 pages of my 400 page book away at my site 1000houses.com. The Amazon Reviews told me that the average person was reading my 400 page book in about 2 seatings. It said to me that if I could get a person to start reading my book, they would want to finish reading it. This has really helped my sales. I love it because I call everyone who leaves me a correct phone number when they download the first 100 pages and I’m making friends all over the country and even in some other countries like Canada. I have had people tell me I give to much of my book away but I persist.

#1: There are still plenty 300 pages left (which is a good size book in itself).

#2. I get to communicate with people that download the first 100 pages because I now have their name, email and possibly their phone number.

#3. The conversion rate is really high; especially if they give me their correct phone number. You see, I get a text the second someone downloads this gift and I call them as the author within seconds of them clicking the download button on their computer. This is very fun for me and possibly my favorite marketing idea.

What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

There are literally hundreds of books on the subject of investing in real estate. I think there are several reasons why My Life & 1,000 Houses is different. The number one things is that this book is not a How To book in the sense that I’m going to lay out exactly how to profit in a step by step fashion. My book in an autobiography. While a person could learn a lot about real estate investing in the book, it is not a lesson plan. Second, I am not trying to up sell anyone to the next coarse or mentoring program. I am not glossing over the parts that are not fun or that may be dangerous for new investors. In fact, As the sub-title Failing Forward to Financial Freedom suggests. I fall down often in this book and some of it is embarrassing. Third, my book depicts the growth of a person moving from a hopefully, amateur entrepreneur into a successful businessman. There is a lot of life mixed into this book of business and rightfully so. Life will always interrupt your business…and I don‘t think the Gurus are addressing that issue as much as they are waving big checks in your face. Much of my book has to do with how we mitigate life on the way to the financial success.

Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

I’m in the marriage councilor’s office with my wife because my wife thinks my investing in real estate is equivalent to gambling. You won’t believe what happens…I’m telling you, I’m couldn’t make this stuff up.

Do you plan subsequent books?

The book is just over 400 pages. The first half of the book is autobiographical and on a timeline from beginner to professional. The second half of the book consists of 18 stories. These stories lend to the adage that life is stranger than fiction. It would have been hard for me to make this stuff up. I already have about 20 more stories in waiting. So, there may be some More Stories from My Life & 1,000 Houses.

I am also writing some very in depth How To segments that can be found on my website www.1000Houses.com in the Education Store (Bottom – Right corner). While I try to keep the reading lively, it is more of a lesson plan by nature because so many have asks for literature drilling down into various aspects of investing; How to start a real estate investing business, how to start with little or no money, how to find bargain properties, how to find private money for investing, how to deal with contractors, how to sell your properties etc., etc.

Thank you for your interview, Mitch. Do you have any final words?

I’d like to thank you and your audience for allowing me the opportunity to talk about My Life & 1,000 Houses and I’ll leave you all with some information as to the different formats you may receive my book.

Mitch Stephen

My Life & 1,000 Houses;

Failing Forward to Financial Freedom

ISBN: 9781419698545 Paperback

ISBN: 978-1-4524-9996-3 e-Book

ISBN: 9780615305561 Audio CD version

Also Available on Kindle, Nook and e-Audio Download

Find all versions at www.1000Houses.com

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Conversation with Hurricane Hunter 'Buzz' Bernard

H. W. “Buzz” Bernard is the author of five nonfiction books on weather and climate. Eyewall is his first novel. He’s won numerous awards over the past decade as both a fiction and nonfiction writer.

Buzz is a veteran meteorologist having spent 13 years as a senior meteorologist with The Weather Channel, and 33 years as a weather officer in the U. S. Air Force.

His background as a meteorologist informs Eyewall. He’s had first-hand experience with hurricanes, having penetrated the eyewall of Hurricane Felix in 1995 with the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters. The mission he went on wasn’t nearly as exciting–or as terrifying–as the one described in Eyewall, but he did get an up-close and personal look at how the job is done. At The Weather Channel, he worked closely with some of the most highly regarded hurricane forecasters in the business.

Besides his trip with the Hurricane Hunters, he’s flown air drops over the Arctic Ocean and Turkey, and was a weather officer aboard a Tactical Air Command airborne command post (C-135). Additionally, he’s provided field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope and served two tours in Vietnam. Various other jobs, both civilian and military, took him to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Panama.

He’s a native Oregonian and attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a degree in atmospheric science and also studied creative writing.

After leaving active duty with the Air Force, he spent twenty years in New England, but now lives in The New South. Along with his wife, Christina, he calls Roswell, Georgia, near Atlanta, home.

You can visit his website at www.buzzbernard.com or visit Eyewall’s official Facebook fan page here!

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Buzz. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Eyewall?

I began writing short stories in high school. I took some creative writing courses in college, but was focused on getting a degree in atmospheric science. Between 1979 and 1993, I wrote five nonfiction books about weather and climate, but didn't pursue becoming a novelist until 2000. Eyewall is the product of 10 years of effort and four different manuscripts.

Can you tell us how you chose your title?

Eyewall refers to the ring of towering thunderstorms and squalls surrounding the eye of a mature hurricane. In the book, it also serves as a metaphor for the situation the protagonist finds himself in in his marriage.

Why did you believe your book should be published?

After the manuscript won first place in a novel competition sponsored by the Southeastern Writers Association, I was encouraged by a number of professional writers to "go for it." Going for it turned out to be not that easy, but I was determined to hang on until I could signal "touchdown!" I believed I had a unique story that was suspenseful and exciting--worthy of publication.

We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

Belle Bridge Books (an imprint of BelleBooks) has been wonderful. They developed a book trailer for Eyewall, created posters and brochures, sent out an e-blast to Georgia media and secured reviews using NetGalley. My agent, Jeanie Pantelakis, set up book signings for me in and around St. Simons Island, a key setting in the novel.

On my part, I signed up with Pump Up Your Book to do a virtual book tour, set up a launch party/book signing with a newly opened independent book store in the Atlanta area, encouraged readers to post reviews on Amazon and got some nice PR from the Atlanta Writers Club.

What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

Nothing really compares with Eyewall. It's sort of a cross between Sebastian Junger's great nonfiction work The Perfect Storm and the movie Twister. Eyewall is not science-fiction. I went to great pains to make certain everything that happens in the book is based on fact. I even had Dr. Steve Lyons, the former hurricane expert at The Weather Channel, run a storm surge model for my fictional hurricane, Janet.

Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Page 84. One of the book's protagonists, an outspoken TV network hurricane forecaster, is having a frenzied conversation with a friend who works at the National Hurricane Center. The TV forecaster has been abruptly fired from his job for issuing an unauthorized warning of the impending storm and is about to be escorted out of the studio by police. He's seeking data from the Hurricane Hunters that will validate his warning, but it hasn't yet arrived.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, my agent has my next manuscript, a more traditional thriller called The Koltsovo Legacy, about bioterrorism.

Thank you for your interview, Buzz. Do you have any final words?

Sure. If you enjoy thrillers, especially ones with suspense and action--and even a little romance--check out Eyewall. As a friend of mine said: If Jaws made you afraid to go in the ocean, Eyewall will make you afraid to go to the beach in the first place.

Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn't tout it as a great beach-read.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Interview with Ghost Hunter Susan Kronick, author of 'Sarah, They're Coming For You'

Susan Kronick’s background is the perfect backdrop leading up to her latest paranormal novel, Sarah, They’re Coming for You. She has a Master of Science in Psychology from Nova Southeastern University and a Ph.D. in Paranormal Studies/Psychology from Union Institute and Graduate School, as well as being an adjunct psychology professor at Barry University and Palm Beach State College. A psychic and a medium, she has the gift of seeing the dead since she was a child. She also has taught parapsychology classes through the Palm Beach County School Board, as well as at Palm Beach State College. Susan has extensive experience in the area of investigations of haunting and the paranormal. She lives with her husband and her four spoiled rescue dogs in south Florida. You can visit her website at www.susankronick.webs.com. “Like” her page at Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/susan-kronick/156870670886.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Susan. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Sarah, They're Coming for You?

Sarah is my debut novel. I have been writing for just a couple of years. Weary after three hurricanes, my husband and I left sunny Florida for the northeast. Snowbound in upstate New York I sat down one dreary winter day to write a novel, which quickly turned into my autobiography. I am not your average novelist. I have been blessed since childhood with the ability to see ghosts. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction, as my lifelong journey with this amazing gift led me to write the book.



Q: Can you tell us how you chose your title?

Sarah, the main character has been tormented by restless spirits of the dead her entire life. The title of the book refers to the nasty ghosts who are after her, in an effort to claim her soul for the dark side for all eternity. As the malicious spirits gather round her, they chant, “Sarah, they’re coming for you.”

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

Everyone enjoys a good ghost story, and mine was a doozy! The fact that my book is based on true events from my own life make the story so much more interesting than true fiction. Like Sarah, I walk between the worlds of the living and the dead. With the amazing assistance from my editors at Wild Child Publishing, they transformed an amateur manuscript into a polished novel worthy of publication.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

My publisher did some publicity in the trade journals and on their website. I signed on and am currently on tour with Pump up your Book, an online PR firm. In June, I will be the featured author in Paranormal Underground Magazine.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

I don’t know any books on the market to compare with my novel, but my book can definitely parallel the television show Ghost Whisperer. Like the main character in the show, Sarah, the protagonist in my book has the ability to see spirits. What makes my book different is my novel is based on actual events from my life! I believe an autobiography of a real ghost seer is truly fascinating, making it truly special, setting it apart from the sea of fiction!

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

I am on page 110.. Sarah’s torment from the restless spirits of the dead can be traced back to her ancestors. She is on a train headed to her family’s ancestral castle in the tiny Alpine town of Meiningen, Austria. She is reading the diary of her great great great great grandfather Jakob, begun in the year 1818, to uncover the origin of her family’s haunting down through the years.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I am contemplating compiling a book of my experiences as a medium and a parapsychologist. I have had countless experiences over the years as a paranormal investigator, and as a gifted person blessed with the ability to see spirits. It’s amazing how many routine ordinary days are extraordinary when I am privileged to encounter our ghost friends!

Q: Thank you for your interview, Susan. Do you have any final words?

Thank you for letting me chat about my book.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Pump Up Your Book and Zumaya Publications Announce Carole Waterhouse's 'The Tapestry Baby Virtual Book Tour 2011'

The Tapestry Baby

Join Carole Waterhouse, author of the literary fiction novel, The Tapestry Baby, as she virtually tours the blogosphere June 6 - 30 2011 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

About Carole Waterhouse

A creative writing professor at California University of Pennsylvania, Carole Waterhouse is the author of two novels, The Tapestry Baby and Without Wings, and a collection of short stories, The Paradise Ranch.

Her fiction has appeared in Arnazella, Artful Dodge, Baybury Review, Ceilidh, Eureka Literary Magazine, Forum, Half Tones to Jubilee, Massachusetts Review, Minnetonka Review, Oracle: The Brewton-Parker College Review, Parting Gifts, Pointed Circle, Potpourri, Seems, Spout, The Armchair Aesthete, The Griffin, The Styles, Tucumari Literary Review, Turnrow, and X-Connect.

A previous newspaper reporter, she has published essays in an anthology, Horse Crazy: Women and the Horses They Love, and Equus Spirit Magazine. Her book reviews have appeared in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Pittsburgh Press, and The New York Times Book Review.

Her latest novel is The Tapestry Baby, a novel depicting a mother who believes her child is born to fulfill some special destiny and discovers her life is intertwined with six other people, raising the question of whether any of us really control our own decisions, and through the process learns that greatness can be defined in the simplest of gestures.

You can visit Carole’s website at www.Carolewaterhouse.com.

About The Tapestry Baby


Tapestry Baby

Karin lives in terror that her child will be born a multi-colored version of the mysterious tattooed man she met one night. When Anna is born normal instead, she becomes convinced her daughter is meant to fulfill some special destiny that she herself can’t provide. A believer of signs and premonitions, she takes off on a journey with Vonnie, a writer friend who can’t complete any stories because the peacefulness of her own life leaves her without inspiration hoping she can make a decision along the way. The choice, however, may not fully be her own. Their lives are randomly connected with six other people. There’s Ward, a cross-dresser who chooses his lovers based on their ability to make him look good, and Daria, a photographer who wants to feel emotion with the same level of intensity she can show it in her work. Mrs. Brown is a librarian with a sordid past who masquerades in her own dowdiness and her secret admirer Ned, a music teacher experiencing a nervous breakdown who finds that his images of make-believe women are deteriorating as notes break on his piano. Pivotal are Reggie, a massive tattooed man who despite his best efforts lives in fear of destroying women the same way he once accidentally crushed a bird he held in his hand and Clarissa, a fake fortune-teller who is responsible for bringing them all together. The Tapestry Baby raises the question of whether any of us really has control over our own destinies.

Visit Carole's official tour page at www.pumpupyourbook.com/2011/05/07/the-tapestry-baby-virtual-book-tour-2011 to see which blogs and websites he’ll be stopping off at during her The Tapestry Baby Virtual Book Tour 2011!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Surviving Sexual Brokenness: An Interview with Thom Hunter

Thom Hunter is a Christian married father of five who fought, fell and rose again to fight against unwanted same-sex attraction. He encourages others to press on, moving beyond excuses, to claim responsibility and power through the Grace of God. Thom believes the church has failed in its responsibility to provide hope and healing for those who struggle with sexual brokenness.

Thom is a former newspaper and magazine editor, journalism professor and speech-writer. He spent 20 years with AT&T as a public relations executive and chief of staff. He now writes and speaks full-time.

Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do is his third and most recent book.

You can visit his website at www.thomhunter.com or his blog at www.signsoffastruggleblog.com. Connect with him on Twitter at http://twitter.com@Thomasthefree and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thom.hunter.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Thom. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do?

I was identified by a teacher in the 7th grade who was the first person to ever use the word “gifted” to refer to me in any way. I hung on to that and have been writing since. I probably wrote well before then, but never allowed anyone to read it. I can not remember when I was not writing. Now I really am one of those writers who must.

My two earlier books were published in the early to mid-90s. I’ve probably always been on a journey toward writing Surviving Sexual Brokenness, as I struggled for many years with sexual addiction and knew many men and women who did as well. I wrote the book after a painful downward spiral as I was confronted by my sexual issues. I wanted to let people know that we can survive these issues; marriages can survive; families can survive. I also became very concerned that cultural trends do not reflective most people’s personal beliefs. I want to be supportive and encouraging to those who are strong enough to stand for what they really believe, even if they are struggling themselves.

Q: I love your title! Can you tell us why you chose it?

I think the title sends a number of messages. For one, most things that are “broken,” can be repaired. Also, most of the struggles that overwhelm us are survivable. However, it’s through grace, both from God and to each other, that we truly find the strength we need to rebuild our lives.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

There’s a void for books that tell the truth about unwanted same-sex attraction, adultery, pornography addiction and other sexual issues that impact Christians as well as non-Christians. For that reason, many Christians who struggle with these issues can find themselves going deep into hiding and experiencing a lot of fear, guilt and shame. I think by sharing the truth about these temptations from a biblical perspective, but with compassion, I can make a difference. I also wanted to issue a challenge to the church to quit abandoning and rejecting members who struggle. If all places, the church should be the first safe place to turn for help. People need to be equipped.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

WestBow Press did a great job designing the cover, setting up a website to complement my blog, creating a targeted e-mail campaign and preparing what I believe is a very effective YouTube trailer.

I’ve promoted primarily through my blog, Signs of a Struggle, and through Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. I blog regularly on SBC Voices and some other sites. I recently taped a television appearance on a Lifetime women’s program, “The Balancing Act,” and I am working on a college campus tour in Texas. I need to do more public speaking, but I know it’s a controversial subject, so it takes a while to convince event organizers.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

While I have tried very hard to combine the personal and the practical to come up with a book that is inspirational but very challenging, there are other books that are somewhat similar. For instance, Wesley Hill’s Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faith and Homosexuality.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

I turned to page 115, to a chapter titled “If You’re Going Through Hell, Don’t Stop at the Gift Shop.” Basically, this section talks about how we can get trapped in endless cycles and find ourselves doing the same things over and over again, which becomes a personal hell. The idea is that we need to stop lingering and making the wrong choices and . . . well . . . get the hell out of there.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I do. I have a book finished, with the working title of “Want Grace with That?” and I have another book well underway. It is more autobiographical and deals with the personal devastation of my struggle and its impact on my wife, children, church and job. It is tentatively titled “The Weight of Who I Am.”

Q: Thank you for your interview, Thom. Do you have any final words?

I just want people to know that they can overcome what seem like insurmountable issues, especially in the area of sexuality. Surviving Sexual Brokenness examines the roots and the roadblocks and provides understanding, encouragement, hope and help for the freedom-seeker and those who care enough to travel alongside.