Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Be Brave, Be Innovative, Be... FIERCE!

If you're a published author (or soon to be), you know that marketing is terribly important to the success of your book. You're fortunate to live in a time when everyone - well, almost - is at your fingertips. Use all of the virtual tools at your disposal, talk to people, ask for help, be an evangelist for your work! Read this guest post by Elle Newmark, author of The Unholy Book of Mischief at Don't Hang Up, and you'll see what I mean.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy Anniversary Penguin! (and a book giveaway)

Back in 1935, Allen Lane had the brilliant idea of making quality paperback books available, and more importantly, affordable. Skeptics thought he was crazy, but they were proven wrong.

"The Bodley Head found itself, at the beginning of the week, sold out of 'Penguins,' 150,000 having been sold out in four days. Mr. Allen Lane has asked us to say that he will supply the waiting orders as soon as his printers and binders allow him to do so."

— The Bookseller, August 8, 1935
Today is Penguin's 75th anniversary, and I was invited to give away one of their books.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

"On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down's syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this beautifully told story that unfolds over a quarter of a century in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by David Henry's fateful decision that long-ago winter night."

The Memory Keeper's Daughter is an exquisite study of human nature. It's lyrically written from the heart. If it had been a song I'd heard for the first time while driving, I would have had to pull over to fully experience it.

I'm giving away one copy of The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Please leave a comment (by midnight, August 5th, 2010)  if you'd like to be entered in the drawing.

Residents of the US and Canada only please.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Book Review - Killer Cows by D.M. Anderson

"Randy Meyer is the new kid in Satus Creek, a tiny farm town where nothing ever happens, and his days are filled with tedium. Then one summer afternoon, a meteor crashes nearby. It’s just the first in a series of events that will not only change his life, but threaten the entire planet. Soon after, vicious cows are on the rampage all over the country, and they’re not of this Earth!

Armed with a newly-discovered flying saucer he doesn’t know how to fly, and a misfit group of new friends he doesn’t entirely trust, Randy is forced to grow up fast if he’s going to make decisions that will not only help him fit-in with his new peers, but save the world from a fate worse than death!"

Never assume you know what shape an alien will take, it will probably be the last thing you expected. Killer Cows is a terrific sci-fi book for young adults - action packed, fun and entertaining! But, it's also an excellent interpretation of what happens when we don't take care of the things we need to sustain us.

If you're looking for a book to add to your child's Summer reading list, Killer Cows is a book they'll enjoy reading, and also learn from. Buy it at Amazon, or Echelon Press .

D.M. Anderson lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, two daughters, two cats and a neurotic dog. He teaches Language Arts at a local middle school, which is where he developed his interest in reading - and later writing - young adult fiction of various genres. When he isn’t teaching or writing, Anderson enjoys staying up late watching horror movies with his oldest daughter, and accompanying his youngest to her swimming lessons. Other interests include NASCAR, heavy metal music, zombies and Disneyland. Killer Cows, an homage to the old drive-in sci-fi movies he loved as a kid, is his first young adult novel. Since then, he has explored other YA genres, including action (a disaster novel titled Shaken) and horror (The Dark Ride). His future plans also include a sequel to Killer Cows.

You can keep up with Mr. Anderson at his blog http://dmanderson.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Author Interview with Lynn McMonigal

Today, I'm posting an inverview with Lynn McMonigal, self-published Christian Fiction author of Forsaking the Call, The Ladies of Faith and Summertime.

Please tell us about yourself, and your books.

This is always my least favorite question! Ask me about my characters or books and I can go on forever (and have been told that I do!!). But ask me about me and I hardly know where to begin.

I was born in Ann Arbor, MI and raised in Jackson, MI. My hometown is not perfect, but I love it! If my books are not specifically set in Jackson, they are set in a town that resembles it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed telling stories. When I was in early elementary school, I would line up my dolls and stuffed animals to tell them stories. Some nights, I would annoy my sisters with the stories I kept telling when they wanted to sleep. In 5th grade, I had a teacher who encouraged me to start writing down my stories. Ever since, I’ve written short stories and dreamed of publishing novels.

My relationship with Christ is VERY important to me. He is the reason I live and breathe. I’ve been so incredibly blessed. Writing is one way that I thank Him for all he has done. For years, I ran away from the knowledge that my story-telling ability was a gift from God and should be used for Him. Now that I have stopped running, I make sure that some aspect of my love for Christ comes through in everything that I write.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

This sort of goes back to what I said before. I spent a long time (nearly 20 years) running from God. When my youngest son was born in 2007, I stopped running. I didn’t have a job, so it seemed like the best time to really devote myself to my writing. In November, I took part in National Novel Writing Month, completing the first draft of my novel Forsaking the Call in just 30 days. As a part of that, I earned a certificate for a free copy of my novel to be printed by CreateSpace. Originally, I was going to just get that one copy, just so I could hold my work in my hands. By the end of 2008, I had completed two more novels and had outlines for nearly a dozen more. I thought if I was going to work that fast, I might as well keep up with the self publishing. It’s a quick way of getting my books out there.

What was the process like, from beginning to end?

With CreateSpace, the process is so very easy! I wrote the book, proofed and edited it more times than I can count, decided on the size I wanted my final book to be, created a PDF of the manuscript, created a cover, and loaded all of that onto the CreateSpace website. My favorite thing about CreateSpace (other than the quality of the final product, which is phenomenol!) is the cost. Some self publishing companies require a financial investment from the writer up front. This was not something that I could do. With CreateSpace, I only have to pay for the copies that are actually printed. That means I have a better control over inventory.

What have you learned about publishing, along the way?

The #1 thing I have learned is to not trust my own eyes when it comes to proof-reading! I am too close to the work; I know what is supposed to be on the page and that is what I see there. Most often, though, that is not what is on the page! And spell check doesn’t catch everything. For example, I meant to say that “she slid across the floor”. Only I put an “e” on the end. “Slide” is a real word, so spell check didn’t catch it. I read it and didn’t catch it.

Also, I have learned that I can’t be too touchy about the editing. There might be a phrase or a sentence or a paragraph that I really LOVE that doesn’t help the flow of the story at all. I have to trust the editors (my editor is the retired editor of a church magazine) to make or suggest changes that are for the betterment of the book.

How have you marketed/promoted your books?

The marketing is the hardest part for me! As soon as one story is done, I am ready to move on to the next. But I don’t have a marketing staff behind me. If I just move on, the published book might not be sold.

I do a lot of promotion on Facebook, Twitter, and on my blog and website. Also, I am a part of a few writers groups on-line. A lot of the people there have their own blogs devoted to books, and many are willing to host blog tours for me. It’s nice to have help and support from other authors like that.

Also, I use Vista Print A LOT. I have business cards and brochures listing my books with me all the time. One of my nephews LOVES to pass out my business cards every where he goes. When a new book is ready to come out, I have post cards and flyers printed up announcing them. I have a list of libraries and bookstores within 50 miles of my home that I send them out to. Also, I send postcards to a lot of area churches. I have been fortunate to be invited to speak at some churches and church conferences through these mailings. That helps a lot in promoting.

Anytime I do a book signing or speaking engagement, I make up a little gift basket that has to do with the book. With Forsaking the Call, the basket contains a can of Pringles, a cheesecake mix, a pacifier, and hazelnut coffee. The Summertime basket contains snickerdoodle cookie mix, a pair of yellow flip-flops, a small journal, and a flowery apron. People will almost always ask why I chose those items. I just smile and say, “Well, it’s all in the book. You’ll have to read it if you want to understand.” More often than not, that results in the sale of the book! And at the end of the event, I draw out a name from all those who signed up to be on my newsletter list. That is the person who takes home the goodie basket.

There is an awesome book by Janet Elaine Smith called Promo Paks that I have learned so much from. It is packed full of free and nearly-free ideas for marketing books.

Have you been able to get your books on bookstore shelves?

Yes and no. So far, I’ve had very little luck at getting my books into the “big stores”, like Borders and Barnes and Noble. But smaller stores are great! There is one independent bookstore here in town that I have a wonderful relationship with. The manager enjoys my work, and she enjoys being able to tell others, “This is the only store in Jackson where you will find Lynn’s books.”

For more information about Lynn and her books, visit her website - Lynn's Corner

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cheerios® is searching for the next great children's book author. It could be you!

Children will be finding a book, 1 Zany Zoo by Lori Degman, inside boxes of Cheerios this month. Lori was the grand prize winner of the 2008 Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories Contest. The contest is open now for 2010. Just enter by July 15, 2010. For the rules, click here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Publishing is NOT dead!

The methods may be changing, but the addiction to reading seems to be growing according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

"Book sales in November rose 10.9%, to $808.5 million, at publishers who reported to the Association of American Publishers. Sales for the year through November rose 4.9%.

Among categories:

E-books exploded 199.9%, to $18.3 million.
Audiobooks jumped 69%, to $18.4 million.
Adult hardcover rose 26.9%, to $204.4 million.
Higher education rose 24.2%,, to $197.1 million.
University press hardcover rose 21.9% to $5.4 million.
El-Hi basal and supplemental K-12 jumped 18.4%, to $136.9 million.
University press paperback climbed 2.7%, to $4.2 million.
Professional and scholarly rose 2.7%, to $57.1 million.
Children's/YA paperback inched up 1%, to $43.9 million.
Religious books were flat, at $48.7 million.
Adult paperback fell 3%, to $92.3 million
Adult mass market dropped 9.8%, to $53.2 million.
Children's/YA hardcover fell 13.5%, to $63.9 million." - as published in Shelf Awareness .

Exciting, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Menopawsal Myth

A tale of menopawsal proportions: And so it was during the time of Zeus that WOOFrodite found herself coming of age - middle age. In the throes of menopaws, she sensed her beauty betraying her. Her disposition souring. Her mind growing muddled and ... I forget what else.

She descended the mountaintop and ambled toward the sea determined to drown her troubles. Approaching the shoreline she came upon a group of women. Women who had befriended her as a young maiden. They, like WOOFfrodite, were panicked and perplexed. All averted their eyes upon seeing her.

WOOFrodite begged of them, "How might we continue to live like this?"

"Oh, could it be we have a right to live without our youth?" the women implored.

"Well, you know, that's a really good question." WOOFrodite sunk her heels into the sand. "I'm thinking the water's ice cold so that's no help. But wait, they've got fresh dark chocolate at the confectionary. Last one to the shop is a rotten goddess!"

I'm just saying, some of the beliefs surrounding menopaws make about as much sense as this silly story! I do, however, like the ending. Dark chocolate pretty much solves anything. And that ain't no lie.

The reality is some of us going through menopaws do notice changes in our emotional and physical wellbeing. But, like our little WOOFrodite, once we get over the shock that, yes, this is happening, we make a decision and take action to lessen the impact. And a sisterhood of women sharing the experience makes it just that much easier to do!

After all, the essence of who we are is not our menopawsal symptoms.

So, here's the plan. Let's remind each other that it's a myth we:

  1. Have to gain weight during menopaws. But if we do, we'll exercise and change our dietary habits.

  2. Automatically develop serious health problems. We'll get regular screenings and seek medical help if we become ill or have concerns.

  3. Have to be less productive. We'll volunteer, mentor and take up a hobby.

  4. Have to lose our mental facilities. We'll discover ways to keep our brain engaged!

  5. Have to lose our beauty. Age creates a beauty all its own. We'll embrace it!

So here's to getting real during midlife. For some of us it may be for the first time in our lives! That's okay, better late than never!

"Mind spinning? Mood swinging? Middle sagging? Get used to it! When you reach 50 shift happens. But, you're not alone, WOOFers to the rescue!"

Got any tips for menopawsal WOOFers? Leave a comment and enter a drawing for "Accentuate the Pawsitive" a WOOFers download guide to realigning your life!

Diana - aka - d.d. dawg

Like to laugh? You'll discover more funny women stories, limericks and poems when you...


Mary Cunningham is author of the award-winning, four-book ‘tween fantasy/mystery series Cynthia’s Attic (Quake) and two short stories Ghost Light, Christmas with Daisy, a Cynthia’s Attic Christmas story, and is co-author of WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty (Echelon Press). A member of the Georgia Reading Association and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club, she lives in the mountains of west Georgia.

Diana Black is the third author of the humor book WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty (Echelon Press). A published songwriter and cartoonist, her professional work also includes illustrating children’s books as well as graphic and cover design. Her project, Wendel Wordsworth: No Words for Wendel, a picture book, song and educational materials, is designed to encourage young readers. Black is a member of the SCBWI (Southern Breeze Chapter) and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club.

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