As you can see from the list of links to the side, I'm part of several social sites, including Twitter. Now, I am not really active on all of them - I'd have no life if I did that! But a couple really appeal to me, plus I've gotten results as far as book sales, contacts and networking.
DeviantArt is my favorite. I also manage an online writer's group there, which is ideal for authors on blog tours. (We've got over 400 members...) I connected quickly with this artistic community and have readers and fans all over the globe because of DA.
I'm also on Facebook, which is a vast improvement over MySpace. I do have a MySpace, but only visit 1-2 times a week. A tip from author Ellen Hopkins made that experience better the second time around, as the first time I had a "perverted weirdo" from MySpace show up at a local book signing. (Now my photo is NOT on my main page - it cut down on the weird0s..)
And I confess, I like MyCatSpace, too! What can I say?
So outside of blogging, what communities do you enjoy?
Not really "blah"... just kinda the big sigh of it's all over...
Does anyone else feel a little down the next day? Must be the huge build-up all month long to one day, one event. Around our house, Christmas Eve is a big deal, too, so it's spread over two days. But it all seems so final in its ending the day after Christmas. I tend to feel that way the day after book signings or speaking engagements, too. The moment is so big and the emotions so high, it just drains one for a while...
It's also a down time in terms of activity as well. My last event was December 2nd and I have nothing scheduled until January 13th. (I do know one insane author who does dozens of signings in December, but I found that this is the WORST month for store appearances! People just want to get in, get the items on their list, and get the hell out of there!) At any rate, I've kinda gone into a cave at this point and will have to pry myself out after New Year's...
According to statistics, economic spending was down between Thanksgiving & Christmas. With so much upheaval in our economics, from those losing their homes and jobs to the auto industry and lending companies, consumers simply didn't buy as much or as expensive items this year.
All of this economic downturn will affect the work we as authors put out this coming year. I think the industry as a whole will put out less books as publishers trim their releases and those self-publishing their work find they lack the capital to do so. In the long run, I don't think this is a bad thing. There will be less competition and (in theory) higher quality works available for consumers. So a slow year might benefit some publishers and authors.
Even if today's "after-Christmas" spending figures are lower than normal, I still have hope for an upturn for next year. After all, the economic crisis is not equally felt in all areas of the country, despite the doom & gloom of the media. Our town just got its third Starbucks! Buildings & businesses are still going up. And our Christmas spending was not affected by any economic downturn. (Actually, we went a little nuts this year!) I think smart decisions and a refusal to panic will get us all through.
So, here's to faith that next year holds even more promise!
I heard a really special story during one of the NFL programs Sunday.
Dick LeBeau, defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has a yearly tradition. He reads 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to his players! Those who've played for him in the past will always ask if he still reads that story. The players claim he really gets into the characters & story and takes it very serious. Those interviewed said he tries to show them meaning beyond the football field.
What a wonderful tradition, Dick! I know you've been in the NFL a long, long time, but I hope it continues for many years.
I stole this from RooCat over at DeviantArt - I certainly do not eat this way, even during Christmas (seeing as I am vegan and don't eat chocolate), but these tips made me laugh out loud.
So enjoy and indulge with me!
HOLIDAY EATING TIPS
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.
8. Same for pies - Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.
I don't know about anyone else, but the amount of emails I am receiving for last minute Christmas online shopping is almost frightening! It's either savvy marketing or final desperation for these companies.
Guess I can't complain about all those emails - I did do 80% of my shopping online this year. Still have one gift en route - a basketful of goodies for my husband as our Christmas Eve treat. But everything else is wrapped and under the tree, and most of it I selected from the safety of our home. When I'm not on the road, I just want to stay home and hide!
Someone needs to be here to clean up the cat's tinsel barf!
As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books. In addition to writing several books about Christian community, the Jacksons have coauthored numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.
Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.
They're trying something new! Not just new for them, but something completely new in Christian fiction: “Parallel novels,” two stories taking place in the same time frame, same neighborhood, involving some of the same characters living through their own dramas and crises but interacting with and affecting one another … just the way it happens in real life.
A story of seeking-and finding-God's will in unlikely places.
Gabrielle Fairbanks has nearly lost touch with the carefree, spirited young woman she was when she married her husband fifteen years ago. But when the couple moves to Chicago to accommodate Philip's business ambitions, Gabby finds the chance to make herself useful. It's there she meets the women of Manna House Women's Shelter; they need a Program Director-and she has a degree in social work. She's in her element, feeling God's call on her life at last, even though Philip doesn't like the changes he sees in her. But things get rough when Philip gives Gabby an ultimatum: quit her job at the shelter or risk divorce and losing custody of their sons. Gabby must take refuge, as in the song they sing at Sunday night worship: "Where do I go when there's no one else to turn to? . . . I go to the Rock I know that's able, I go to the Rock.
"Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “Exquisite characters coupled with God's mercy and love emanate from each page.”
Publisher's Weekly adds, “Jackson's Yada Yada series has sold half a million copies, and this new offshoot series ... promises the same.... The book's dramatic ending ... leav[es] readers eager for the next installment in the series.”
This past week, someone who had been a great influence to me passed away.
Larry was a unique individual. He was incredibly business-savy and a great motivator. A Sanguine through-and-through, Larry possessed an enormous amount of energy as well as natural charisma. One always felt comfortable in his presence. He taught me a lot about people skills and success. His influence will always be felt.
He stands in the presence of the Lord now, but Larry will be greatly missed here on Earth.
I have been working on a new article about the price we pay as authors and is it worth it. I had just completed the piece last night when I received the most wonderful email from a young fan I've never had the pleasure of meeting. She had discovered my books at the library and now owns the first two. Her email really touched me (oaky, about made me cry!), so here is a snippet of her message. This is why I keep going....
"I have read a lot of books from different authors and you are the one author when I read your books I can't put down the book . When I am reading your books I can read for hours and not put the book down . Diane Wolfe you are one of my favorite authors."
I teach a promotion seminar here in NC at the community colleges and I always stress to writers & authors the importance of that aspect.
Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don't. Some seem so wrapped up in the publishing stage, they don't stop and think about HOW they will actually make sales happen. A book's appearance on Amazon means nothing. The fact they are now 'an author' means nothing to the media. They have no plans for signings, interviews, guest blog spots, etc. Pretty scary if you ask me!
I have such a long list of things to do before next March. Yet I know authors with books coming out before mine that have done practically nothing, not even price bookmarks! They are just sitting back, doing nothing but waiting, and here I'm frantically trying to get my ducks in a row, wishing I had more time to do more, as I know it STILL won't be enough!
When it comes to promotion, guess I'm glad that the melancholy side of me that loves details and is so organized takes over! My sanguine half can just watch from the sidelines and cheer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin grew up in Orange County, California and has lived in all kinds of interesting places, including Reno and Hawai’i. She and her husband currently live near Portland, Oregon and have been married for 30 years. They spent their first 22 years of marriage working together in youth ministry, and enjoying life with their son and daughter who are now both grown. As a frequent speaker at local and international events, one of Robin’s favorite topics is how God is the Relentless Lover and we are His first love. She delights in telling stories of how God uses fiction to change lives. Robin is the recipient of the Christy Award, the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter Award, the Sherwood E. Wirt Award and is a Gold Medallion Finalist. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and the Board of Directors for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation. But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost. And yet...maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. I am in my 30's, married the love of my life in July 2007, and live in beautiful Colorado just east of the Front Range of the Rockies, but I love to travel and visit new places. Ultimately, my dream is to own horses and live in a one-level rancher or log cabin nestled in the foothills of the mountains. For now, I will remain where I am and do what I love—design web sites and write. Amber's very first book, Promises, Promises, released in February 2008. It's a historical fiction set in Delaware during the Colonial period and the Great Awakening. The other 2 books in the series are this current one, Quills And Promises (July 2008) and Deceptive Promises (December 2008). In 2009, they will be repackaged for a state set entitled Delaware Brides. She has also sold another series set in historical Michigan during the Industrial Revolution. The 3 books in that series will begin releasing in May 2009 and will be repackaged in 2010 as Michigan Brides.
ABOUT THE BOOK: -- Separated from Madison when he leaves to fight the French and Indians, Elanna Hanssen must choose between her heart and her head, especially when Madison's integrity is questioned. -- "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not until thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." ~Proverbs 3:5-6 Innocence paired with wisdom beyond her years. With these traits, Elanna Hanssen unwittingly captures the attentions of Major Madison Scott. Her honest desire to understand the war fascinates him, and he resolves to get to know this perspicacious young lady better. When his military duty separates them, they begin a correspondence, cautiously baring their hearts to each other. Elanna has never known emotions like this before, but she is drawn to the integrity she sees in her major. When a local news reporter questions the major's credentials and activities, however, will she allow her heart or her head to rule? Can true love grow over such distance and around such obstacles?
Through the wonderful world of the Internet, I recently met an author from the UK. Dianne Ascroft is the author of Hitler and Mars Bars, a fiction story set in Germany after World War II. I got to interview Dianne for her current virtual tour:
Explain your book’s title!
A couple amusing incidents in the story sparked the idea for the title. So I linked words that represented each incident together to form the title. In the first incident, naively and cheekily, my main character, Erich, threatens to send Hitler (unaware even who the dictator was) to exact revenge against a police officer who chastises him for his poor school attendance record.
In the second incident, Erich is caught stealthily eating a Mars Bar during class. His teacher is exasperated and amused by his behaviour (he has a knack for getting into trouble in class) and orders him to put the candy back in his lunch bag. With great reluctance, and the eyes of the whole class on him, he puts the chocolate bar away. Both incidents illustrate Erich’s irrepressible, indomitable spirit. He is often naughty and sometimes unrepentant yet he doesn’t mean any harm.
What research did you do for this book?
There was a lot of research involved in writing this book. Although the novel is set only sixty years ago, during the ten year period from the last few months of World War II to the mid-1950s, it was before I was born. So I have no memories or firsthand knowledge of the era. I did a lot of background reading about that period in Germany and Ireland. They were very different countries – Germany a battle scarred, industrialised nation and Ireland a quiet, mostly rural place. I read general histories and also biographies. I asked people who had lived through the era to tell me what it was like. I needed to understand their attitudes and ambitions as well as the practicalities of their lives.
I did as much research as possible about Operation Shamrock, the Red Cross initiative that forms the backdrop to my story. I spoke to people in communities that hosted the children - the former evacuees, their foster families, their neighbours, their classmates and the local clergy. I contacted the Red Cross for details about the initiative.
I did background research about the region where the German portions of the book are set. The City Archives in Hattingen, Germany were very helpful. I wasn’t able to go to Germany to do my research but the archivist provided me with general information about the area and also the Children’s Home where the opening chapter is set. He sent period photos so I could see for myself what the area looked like. He also put me in contact with the company that owns the Children’s Home and they provided further information about the building and its history.
In Ireland I did background research about several towns and villages, learning about the schools and churches where scenes in the story are set. I relied on history books for basic facts but I also contacted the organisations directly to add details. I visited each area where the story is set so I would have an overall impression of it as I was writing.
I had to familiarise myself with various aspects of daily life during the period including their farming methods and domestic routines. There were lots of details about life in Ireland to check, such as when electricity was installed in rural homes and when television broadcasts began, to avoid anachronisms creeping in. Ireland and Germany, during that period, were two completely foreign worlds to me. Though it involved lots of work, I found the research fascinating and sometimes I had to pull myself away from it to write.
What prompted you to write a book set during WWII?
I didn’t initially set out to write this book - or a book set during this period of history. The idea gradually evolved. Several years ago I met a man who was born during the Second World War in the heavily bombed Essen area of Germany. He lived in a Children’s Home until the Red Cross project, Operation Shamrock, transported him along with hundreds of other German children, to Ireland to recuperate from the horrendous conditions in their homeland. His life story opened up a new aspect of German and Irish history for me - one that has been overlooked in history books. I was very curious about Operation Shamrock and, as I’ve mentioned in my answer to your previous question, I began researching it. I did extensive research then I wrote an article for an Irish magazine, Ireland’s Own, about the experiences of one child who participated in the endeavour. I intended to stop there but family members urged me to use the information I had found to create a novel. At first I wasn’t interested but the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me. I couldn’t get the stories of the people who were part of Operation Shamrock out of my head so I finally put pen to paper and began the novel.
You’ve done several virtual tours – do you do physical tours as well?
This is my second Virtual Book Tour. The first one, in August, was a trial run with only 3 stops on it. So this is my first full Virtual Book Tour and I’ve really been enjoying it. Because I work full time, apart from my writing, it is difficult to organise a physical tour. So I haven’t done one yet – but I’m always open to invitations to drop by any bookshop or place where people are interested in books!
When did you begin writing and what’s your favourite genre?
Since I was a child I’ve always enjoyed reading. I rarely went anywhere without a book and I spent every free minute reading. But, despite having a very active imagination, being an avid reader and enjoying essay writing at school, I didn’t consider becoming a writer. I enjoyed reading others’ stories but didn’t have the desire to create my own.
I was in my thirties before I got the urge to write and it occurred to me that I might be able to do so. Then, for several years after the idea first occurred to me, I yearned to write but didn’t put pen to paper. I was busy with too many other activities. Finally, I was galvanised into action, in the spring of 1998, when I heard an advertisement for a Belfast radio station’s Annual Short Story writing contest. I decided to enter it. There was only one weekend left to submit my entry before the contest deadline so I got started immediately. I didn’t win but my story, The Contest, was shortlisted and read on air. That success encouraged me to continue writing. I wrote sporadically, without any attempts to get my work published, until 2002 when I enrolled in the Writers Bureau correspondence course. Having assignments to complete focussed me and helped me decide what I wanted to write. Now I fit in course assignments between my other writing projects. One day I may find time to actually finish the course!
Though my first novel is an historical fiction, I enjoy writing contemporary and historical fiction. It’s the characters that are most important to me rather than the time period that the story is set in. If a writer captures the humanity and personality of a character then they write the kind of books I want to read. And those are the kind of books I want to write too. I have ideas bouncing around in my head for both contemporary and historical stories so I plan to write a bit of each in future.
Tell us a little about your past…you’re a Canadian but living in the UK…?
I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Growing up there I loved the hustle and bustle of city life and was very involved in several historical societies and music organisations. I earned a B.A. in History at the University of Windsor, Canada in 1984. When I turned 30 I decided to try something different as well as explore my roots. So, later that year, I moved to Britain; I’ve lived in Scotland and Northern Ireland since moving here in 1990.
Since I left Toronto I’ve been continuously downsizing. I moved from Toronto, a city with a population of 3 million people to Belfast, a city of half a million to a small town in Ayrshire, Scotland, with a population of 18,000. Now I live in the country, on a small farm in Northern Ireland, with my husband and several pets. The farm is wonderful. I have a view of fields and rolling hills from my front window and keep pets that wouldn’t be allowed in a city garden.
Although writing isn’t my primary occupation, I love it and spend as much time as possible indulging my passion. I’ve been freelance writing since 2002. Most of my writing focuses on history, arts/music and human interest stories. My articles have been printed in Canadian and Irish newspapers and magazines including the Toronto Star, Mississauga News, Derry Journal, Banbridge Leader and Ireland’s Own magazine.
I’ve contributed material to an Irish local history book, The Brookeborough Story: Aghalun in Aghavea and the Fermanagh Authors Association’s second collection A Fermanagh Miscellany 2. Hitler and Mars Bars is my first novel.
Curiosity about the past has inspired my love of history and genealogy as well as spurring me to write historical fiction. Music is also an important part of my life. I especially enjoy folk, Celtic, Americana and bluegrass. I play the bagpipes and am learning to play guitar. Quilting, hiking and traveling number among my hobbies. I’m a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Fermanagh Authors Association.
What do you like to read? Who’s your favourite author?
I couldn’t pin it down to just one author I like to read - there are lots of them! I read a variety of contemporary and historical fiction though I tend to steer clear of ‘chic lit’. Writers who capture the humanity and personalities of their characters have the greatest impact on me. Some of these authors and books include Maeve Binchy’s ‘Light A Penny Candle’, Adriana Trigiani’s ‘Big Stone Gap’, Jodi Picoult’s ‘Plain Truth’ and Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series. These authors create believable characters who I would like to meet in real life. The townspeople of Big Stone Gap in Trigiani’s books as well as Claire and Jamie in Gabaldon’s work are people that I feel I know. I enjoy reading these stories because the writers bring their characters to life. They inspire me to aim for this in my own writing.
Where can those in the USA find your book?
Hitler and Mars Bars isn’t currently on US bookshop shelves but American readers can get my novel online. Quite a few online outlets are stocking it. It can be ordered directly from the publisher, Trafford Publishing (www.trafford.com/07-1955), or from retail outlets including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Signed copies can also be ordered directly from my website (www.geocities.com/dianne_ascroft/orders).
What are your future plans? What’s next for Dianne?
I recently completed a short story, A World Apart, about moving from city to country and adapting to a new lifestyle. Although it’s fiction, it draws on my own experiences of moving from Toronto, a city of 3 million people, to a farm in Northern Ireland. It will be published in the Fermanagh Authors Association’s Fermanagh Miscellany 2 this month.
Since Hitler and Mars Bars was released I’ve been busy promoting it. So most of my writing has been interviews and guest posts on others’ blogs and websites. I haven’t had a chance to do any new writing. I do have some ideas rolling around in my head for a sequel to the book though. Hopefully when things slow down a bit after Christmas I will start to put them down on paper….
And the final word….
Thanks for letting me drop by today, Diane. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions and I hope your readers found my answers interesting. Let me finish up by briefly telling you a little about the novel.
Hitler and Mars Bars is the story of a German boy, Erich, growing up in war-torn Germany and post-war rural Ireland. Set against the backdrop of Operation Shamrock, a little known Irish Red Cross project which aided German children after World War II, the novel explores a previously hidden slice of Irish and German history.
End of the road in terms of travel for me this year!
My last two seminars took place Tuesday, and I was fortunate to be blessed with a great group of attendees for both. They were enthusiastic and full of eager questions, which made it easier for me. It was a fitting end to a long year of travel, touring and promoting.
Now I can focus my energies online and prepare for next year - it holds many promises!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Today, Lauraine Snelling is a member of the more than Two Million Books In Print club, but when she first began, she was a mother of three teenagers with a simple dream to write “horse books for kids.”
All told, she has over 50 books published. She thinks. She’s not sure. She’d rather write them than count them. Lauraine’s work has been translated into Norwegian, Danish and German as well as produced as books on tape.
Awards have followed her dedication to “telling a good story”: the Silver Angel Award for An Untamed Land and a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart for Song of Laughter.
Helping others reach their writing dream is the reason Lauraine teaches at writer’s conferences across the country. She mentors others through book doctoring and with her humorous and playful Writing Great Fiction tape set. Lauraine also produces material on query letters and other aspects of the writing process.
Her readers clamor for more books more often and Lauraine would like to comply, if only her ever-growing flower gardens didn’t call quite so loudly over the soothing rush of the water fountains in her back yard and if the hummingbirds weren’t quite so entertaining. Lauraine and husband Wayne have two grown sons and a cockatiel named Bidley, who loves to tease their Basset Hound named Chewy.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Two mothers end up more closely connected that they could dream...and yet they are strangers to one another.
The first has two children--twins, a boy and girl, who are seniors in high school. She wants their last Christmas as a family living in the same home to be perfect, but her husband is delayed returning from a business trip abroad. And then there's an accident--a fatal one involving a drunk driver.
Meanwhile, the other mother has a daughter who needs a new heart, and so the loss of one woman becomes the miracle the other has desperately prayed for. While one mother grieves, and pulls away from her family, the other finds that even miracles aren't always easy to receive.
Wanted to make mention of a special fan who came to see me today!
I met Emily and her mother earlier this year at a library appearance in Lumberton. Today I was in Southern Pines, and they drove all the way up to see me and get another book for Emily. I was so touched! I've had a couple other fans go to great lengths to come see me - Stephanie traveling almost two hours across Ohio; Britanny driving from Myrtle Beach to Charleston; Linda traveling into Canton, OH - it just blows my mind!
I am thankful for all those who have supported me the past few years! Your letters and emails and attendances at book events keep me going in ways you cannot imagine. This journey has been incredible and sometimes I hardly believe this is really my life now. I have you to thank for the success I have achieved so far, and know it is only the beginning of what I can accomplish.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: There’s never a dull moment in the Y’Barbo household! From hockey and cheer mom to publicist to bestselling author, Kathleen Y’Barbo somehow manages to do it all - and well. While wearing her publicist’s hat, Kathleen has secured interviews with radio, television, and print media for clients at NavPress, Hatchette, Integrity, Barbour Publishing, and Broadman & Holman, to name a few. She also brings her own unique blend of Southern charm and witty prose to the more than 350,000 award-winning novels and novellas currently in print. Her novels have been nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006; and 2007 will see the release of her 25th book.
Kathleen is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.
ABOUT THE BOOK: In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.
As any teenager could tell you, Twilight the movie comes out today.
This series really took off. I remember meeting an editor at Little Brown Publishers at Book Expo a few years ago, and he said Twilight was their first foray into YA and they probably would not pursue any other YA books. That statement seems so ironic now! Proof that most publishers don't have a clue what people want to read.
Funny how teens are so entranced by the main vampire character - they are so drawn to the moody, brooding and secretive type. In real life, that's the last person you want to be with though! Moody, brooding & secretive translates to low self-esteem, withdrawn and carrying a lot of baggage. This person is one heck of a project! The mood swings would be emotionally exhausting and it would be so difficult to reach them or ever coax genuine feelings or thoughts from their lips.
Too much work! I want someone who's got their act together.
STEPHEN BALDWIN - actor, family man, born-again Christian - makes his home in upstate New York with his wife and two young daughters.
Equally adept at drama and comedy, Baldwin has appeared in over 60 films and been featured on such top-rated television shows as Fear Factor and Celebrity Mole. He has his own production company that is developing projects for television and the big screen. These days, however, his role as director, co-producer and host of Livin' It - a cutting-edge skate video is bringing out his white hot passion for evangelism.
Writer and communicator Mark Tabb calls himself an “internationally unknown author.” Although his books have been published around the world, he is best known for his collaborative works. His 2008 release, “Mistaken Identity”, written with the Van Ryn and Cerak families, hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list for two weeks, and remained on the list for over two months. He and actor Stephen Baldwin teamed up on their 2005 New York Times bestseller, “The Unusual Suspect,” and with their first work of fiction, “The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips,”
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Even years of experience haven't prepared Officer Andy Myers for this case---When Officer Andy Myers met Loraine Phillips, he had no interest in her son. And he certainly never dreamed he'd respond to a call, finding that same boy in a pool of blood. Even more alarming was the father standing watch over his son's body. Myers had never seen a man respond to death-particularly the death of a child-in such a way. When the father is charged with murder and sentenced to death, he chooses not to fight but embrace it as God's will. Myers becomes consumed with curiosity for these strange beliefs. What follows is the story of the bond these two men share as they come to terms with the tragedy and the difficult choices each one must make.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fascinated by the Amish people during the years of visiting her husband's family in Pennsylvania, WANDA E. BRUNSTETTER combined her interest with her writing and now has eleven novels about the Amish in print, along with numerous other stories and ministry booklets. She lives in Washington State, where her husband is a pastor, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish settlements throughout the states.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Step into Amish country for this bittersweet holiday romance. Here you'll meet Will Henderson, a young man tortured by his past, and Karen Yoder, a young woman looking for answers. Add a desperate father searching for his son, and you have all the ingredients for a first-class romance that will inspire and enthrall.
Abandoned by his father, Will Henderson was raised by an Amish couple. Now he's about to marry Karen Yoder but is having second thoughts. Can Will overcome the bitterness of his past in order to secure his future? Karen cannot break through the barrier her fiance has suddenly constructed around his heart. When she seeks the advice of an old boyfriend, Will begins to see green. Has he already lost his chance for happiness?
When an accident threatens Will's life, the strength of blood ties is tested. Will a recipe for White Christmas pie contain the ingredients for a happily-ever-after?
"There is one quality all victorious leaders possess- charisma! It’s the trait that gives certain people a magnetic personality. Those in the presence of such magnetism are drawn to that individual. It is not important for those exhibiting charisma to possess the greatest intelligence or beauty, either. They simply enjoy a special ability to attract others as if charmed by a spell.
There is no real magic trick to charisma, though. Basically, it is the ability to instill enthusiasm in others. Think back to the last time you were in the presence of such a charismatic dynamo. Were you not energized by his enthusiastic nature? Did the bright light of his life not draw you closer? We are all attracted to those who embody the pure essence of a zealous existence. However, charisma does not imply a hyperactive personality or a person of overwhelming intensity. It is simply a contagious spirit of optimism and enthusiasm.
We can begin cultivating a charismatic personality by developing a dream. When we share a goal that taps into the dreams and desires of others, we create a vision worthy of pursuit. By attacking this ambition with unwavering determination and intensity, others will feel inspired to join in the crusade. People will follow a charismatic leader, drawn by his enthusiastic belief in total victory. Think of all the great charitable organizations and worthy causes started by such an individual. What an incredible image of success!"
- from "Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting" by L. Diane Wolfe
Kevin Gerard's third book in the Conner and the Crosswinds series, Surviving an Altered World, is due out this December. I had the opportunity to interview Kevin regarding his series:
This series seemed to spark to life during your childhood – did you share Conor or any of those adventures with your own boys when they were young?
Yes, as a matter of fact, a few of the Crossworlds Champions’ personalities are based on what I’ve learned about my boys during their lives. I guess it’s time to disclose a secret – my boys are all furry cats. I have no human children, so my wife and I consider our animals our kids. The personalities of Eha, Ajur, and Maya all sprang from daily interactions with my furry sons.
I first began day-dreaming about Purugama the flying cougar as a ten year old boy. I can honestly say that I never shared him with anyone until I finally sat down and wrote the first book in the Conor and the Crossworlds series. That was thirty four years after I first imagined him flying down to my bedroom window. Purugama is a wonderfully complex creature, and he takes to Conor as quickly as Conor develops a deep bond with him.
Five seems to be a magic number (my own YA series has five books) – what made you decide to pursue/end on five books?
Actually, I never intended to write more than one book. Something very profound occurred that made me continue the story. A dear friend’s cat, a very dignified and classy fellow, was attacked and killed in his front yard by a roving pack of pit bulls. When I spoke to his mistress, I told her I was going to make Maya immortal. That’s how he became the Lord of the Champions, with a very important role in the story. I wrote Book Two about his journey with Conor to repair the corridors, and the story just swelled from there.
I’ve always had a thing for the number five and the number seven. Both carry great significance in the Conor and the Crossworlds story. There are five books, the Five Keys of the Creators, the Council of Seven, and the seven Champions of the Crossworlds, etc. Comes from my childhood I suppose.
The interesting aspect of the number five rests with the fact that there may be another five books in this series. Like any good author, I left a huge hole at the end of the fifth book. I think readers will be screaming for me to fill it. I’ve already begun toying with the sixth book, and I can definitely see the series mushrooming out to ten books.
Young adult fantasy to political espionage thriller – that’s quite a leap! What prompted you into the thriller genre?
I’ve read every Robert Ludlum book ever produced. He can craft an espionage story like no one else in the world. I came up with an idea for a great story along the same lines, and I’ve been writing it off and on for a year or so. I’m also I’m writing a proposal for a non-fiction book as well.
I have a cool idea for another teen fantasy series also. It popped into my head one day when I was presenting an author talk in Southern California. I’m finally going to write a story about a dragon!
Tell us a little more about the upcoming contest!
The Hunt for the Five Keys of the Creators! Here’s the link to the youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFHxUIZ2Ks8 In Book Three of the Conor and the Crossworlds story, Conor reveals his association with the Crossworlds to his girlfriend, Janine. He was told never to do that, and everyone pays the price for his mistake. The Circle of Evil descends upon the Crossworlds. They attack everything, including earth, and the only way Conor can reverse the damage is to find the Five Keys of the Creators, the source of all power.
I decided it might be fun to have a real hunt, so I found some old keys at a salvage store and painted them the same colors as the keys in the story. I also had some very cool key boxes made. I’ve hidden one in the South, the Northwest, the Northeast, in San Diego County, and I’m not sure where the fifth one will go. Whoever finds a key box will receive $500, a MacBook, and i-Pod, and signed copies of all five books.
The first clue is in Book Three. After that, beginning January 1, 2009, twelve clues will appear, one per week, on Conor’s website. The cool thing is that even if someone doesn’t live close to one of the hiding places, they can still play along and help someone else find one of the key boxes. It’s going to be fun fun fun!
I see the first book was offered through AuthorHouse and it is rare to see an author break away & find success taking that route. Is it a path you would recommend to others?
My first impulse is to say no, I wouldn’t recommend going it alone as a self or subsidy published author. It’s a tremendous amount of work to produce a book by yourself, and beyond that, there are endless doors you’ll have to kick in to get your story noticed. None of the favored reviewers will touch it, no chain book store will stock it, many schools will ignore it because it doesn’t have accelerated reader tests attached to it, and on and on and on. If you are going to pursue this path, you have to make absolutely certain your book is top quality in every respect. Self published books have a very tarnished reputation in the literary world, so if you’re going to put one out there it better look and read as good as any traditionally published work.
Along with that is the fact that there is a wide assortment of subsidy publishers out there. Some are legitimate, some are not. Some take more of your royalties, and some allow you to make a good profit from each book you sell. You have to be extremely careful about whom you sign a contract with; that in itself takes a great deal of time and research.
Having said that, if you honestly believe you’ve written the next great story, I mean if you believe it blindly, then self or subsidy publishing might be for you. I initially queried every agent and publisher in the Literary Marketplace text, some multiple times, with no luck at all. I couldn’t allow Conor, the Champions, the creators, and even the Circle of Evil to fade away anonymously. Their story is just too good. I know in my heart that Conor and the Crossworlds will be a huge hit, as long as I put it in the hands of those who will shout loudly enough about it. Books One and Two of this series are in school libraries from California to Vermont, and the librarians all tell me the same story. My books have yet to see the library shelf. There are waiting lists up to six months long to read Conor’s story at these schools. I believed in Conor, blindly, and now I have the proof of my convictions. Conor and the Crossworlds is a big hit with teens.
When can readers expect the final two books?
My father told me that Book Four is the titanic book of the series, and he’s right. Book Four is where the battle for the Crossworlds takes place – Conor and the Champions take on the armies of the Circle of Evil – five hundred thousand strong, and every segment of the battle becomes more treacherous for our hero. They have followed the Lady of the Light into the Shadow World to retrieve the Five Keys of the Creators and save Conor’s girlfriend, Janine. I can’t get specific about what happens, but I guarantee you Book Four is roughly 800 pages of non-stop action. It’s a great book, due out in October 2009.
I added a special twist in Book Five, which is titled The Author of All Worlds. As you may have guessed, I am the author of all worlds, and I actually wrote myself into the story. The Circle of Evil sends their most horrible destroyer, Nemelissi the Assassin, through the corridors to find me in San Diego and slay me. If it succeeds the Crossworlds will be wiped away from existence. I remember the day I was writing the actual scene when Nemelissi came through the final corridor – right in my driveway – to come after me. I was sitting at my desk shaking and looking out the window every few seconds, I felt certain the assassin was coming. It seemed absolutely real to me. Of course, someone else arrives a second before Nemelissi, and the story goes on. It is also a great book, about 600 pages, due out in October 2010.
Your appearances are mostly libraries & schools – do you find that is a better venue for you?
Libraries not so much, but schools are the greatest venue in the world for a young adult series. You have a captive audience, sometimes over five hundred students in one setting, and they are totally into your book talk. I went to Oregon in October and visited seven schools. I saw almost fifteen hundred young readers, sold a ton of books, and recruited a whole pack of new fans. By the end of 2008 I’ll have introduced Conor to ten different states. That’s what you have to do, put out a tireless effort toward spreading the word as widely as you can. Again, if you truly believe in what you’ve written you will find the strength to do this.
You obviously love animals and the photo on your website shows a white & black cat on your shoulder. Tell us more about this passion, as well as a little about your furry feline friend!
Good old Sunny! Can you believe he was twenty years old in that picture? Sadly, he passed away about a year ago, an event that shook my wife and me deeply. Sunny was a magnificent creature, very vocal, very pleased with himself, and just a great guy. I miss him a lot. His brother, Lenny, also passed away about six months ago. Lenny was wonderful also, but in different ways than Sunny. I dedicated Book Three in the Conor and the Crossworlds series to both of them.
We have four other kids at home now, three males and a female. Little Man is our oldest, a black Halloween cat that we rescued from PetSmart. He’s about eleven years old. Toby, our sweet snow cat, is three, and Jesse the Wonder Cat is six months old. I give an update every month about Jesse in my newsletter; you should sign on by sending me an e-mail and asking to be put on the list. Kitty is a neighbor’s cat who loves hanging out at our home. She’s about six years old I think, and weighs over twenty pounds. She keeps her brothers in line!
What does your family think about your journey as an author? Do your boys read the series, too?
Sometimes the boys sit on my lap when I’m writing or editing. I think they want to share in the experience. As I said before, though, some of the Champions in the Conor and the Crossworlds story get their personalities from our cats. I like that; it kind of keeps them alive for us.
When you tell your family you’ve decided to write books, you get a wide variety of responses. Whatever they say, though, you can always spot the look of concern in their eyes. My brother is a musician, and now I’m an author. The odds of success in either field are stacked against you like you can’t believe.
I’ve always been a dreamer. To me, if you’re not dreaming, you’re not living. Sure, I want all the material success that comes with a bestselling series, but at this point it’s all about Conor and the other characters in the story. They are real individuals, and I want the whole world to know about them. I know the story’s good enough. I believe in it with all my heart. I guess we all get to sit back and see if I can pull it off!
Here's what you can expect if you are submitting your manuscript to publishers for consideration:
Expect a wait! Most publishers list their response time in their submission guidelines, which can be up to six months or more. In addition, many of the larger publishers receive hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts each week, and it takes time to go through this slush pile.
Don't expect a response. It's not good business, but many times publishers fail to respond to the rejections. If it's past their normal response time, send an email query. After that, just move on...
Expect disappointment. Again, publishers receive many, many submissions. You WILL receive some rejection letters. Get over it and keep moving.
Don't expect success if you are sending your manuscript one publisher at a time. Send your queries out in batches every single month. Yes, even if they say they want to be the only one reviewing your work! At that rate, you might be dead by the time you receive a positive response.
Expect to hire a lawyer schooled in publishing or entertainment law if you receive a contract. NEVER, EVER sign a contract otherwise!
Don't expect to make a lot of money, especially if you are a first-time author. They will offer you a small percentage of the net profits and keep as many rights as possible. Yes, this is normal!
If you approach submitting your manuscript with the right expectations, you will not be so discouraged with the results! Keep after it until you find success!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: . M. Hochstetler writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published three novels.
One Holy Night, a contemporary miracle story for all seasons, released in April 2008. Daughter of Liberty (2004) and Native Son (2005), books 1 and 2 of the American Patriot Series are set during the American Revolution. Book 3, Wind of the Spirit, is scheduled for release in March 2009. Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, and Historical Novels Society.
ABOUT THE BOOK: In 1967 the military build-up in Viet Nam is undergoing a dramatic surge. The resulting explosion of anti-war sentiment tears the country apart, slicing through generations and shattering families. In the quiet bedroom community of Shepherdsville, Minnesota, the war comes home to Frank and Maggie McRae, whose only son, Mike, is serving as a grunt in Viet Nam.
Frank despises all Asians because of what he witnessed as a young soldier fighting the Japanese in the south Pacific during WWII. The news that his son has fallen in love with and married Thi Nhuong, a young Vietnamese woman, shocks him. To Frank all Asians are enemies of his country, his family, and himself. A Buddhist, Thi Nhuong represents everything he despises. So he cuts Mike out of his life despite the pleas of his wife, Maggie; daughter, Julie; and Julie s husband, Dan, the pastor of a growing congregation.
Maggie is fighting her own battle--against cancer. Convinced that God is going to heal her, Frank plays the part of a model Christian. Her death on Thanksgiving Day devastates him. Worse, as they arrive home from the gravesite, the family receives news of Mike s death in battle. Embittered, Frank stops attending church and cuts off family and friends.
By the time a very pregnant Thi Nhuong arrives on his doorstep on a stormy Christmas Eve, Frank is so filled with hate that he slams the door in her face, shutting her out in the bitter cold. Finally, overcome by guilt, he tries to go after her, but driving wind and snow force him back inside. With the storm rising to blizzard strength, he confronts the wrenching truth that what hate has driven him to do is as evil as what the Japanese did all those years earlier, and that he needs forgiveness as desperately as they did ...
Frank doesn't know that what God has in mind this night is a miracle. As on that holy night so many years ago, a baby will be born and laid in a manger--a baby who will bring forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing to a family that has suffered heart-wrenching loss.
Excerpt from the upcoming book, "Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting":
"So how does one go about making a good impression? If a first impression is critical and poor one difficult to overcome, how do we ensure a pleasant recollection in the minds of those we encounter? Let me outline a few simple rules you should follow:
· Offer a smile. Nothing conveys acceptance or friendliness quite like a genuine smile. It also reduces or eliminates your fear. You cannot smile and feel scared or worried at the same time! · Maintain eye contact. This conveys respect for the person and belies a good self-image on your part. · Use the other’s name and often. You will convey courtesy and respect, not to mention remember the person’s name by repeating it several times during the course of conversation. · Focus on that person. As we discussed earlier, do not dominate the conversation, but rather allow the other person to become the center of attention.
As with all people skills, there are no gimmicks, but there is a secret when it comes to impressions. One surefire way to make a good impression on someone is to let him know he is making one on you! If you follow the basic rules during the encounter, he will regard your behavior as a vote of confidence. That person will conclude that you view him as important, valuable, and respectable. In his mind, he thinks, “Hey, he believes I’m really somebody!” Your consideration will in turn impress that person in a most meaningful manner."
From "Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK!
The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting"
by L. Diane Wolfe
Available March 17, 2009 $13.95 USA, Trade paperback, 176 pages Non-fiction/Self-help ISBN 978-0-9816210-2-9 / 0-9816210-2-3
And for a great analysis of wholesalers, distributors & fulfillment, visit Walt Shiel's blog and the guest post from Pete Masterson:
A unique company name/website will mean little or no search engine competition. Do a search prior to setting your name in stone!
When selecting keywords for search engines, you want popular but not competitive words that appeal to emotion and state benefits. Use words and phrases your readers will be using! Do not use the biggest words – be specific and go after your niche. "Mystery" is too general - what is the location for your book, the character's positions, etc.?
Last but not least, do not try to trick search engines – you will only get bounced!
If you are writing with the goal of publishing your work, you need to know your target audience - specifically!
Many authors fail to take this into consideration when they are writing. They write what impassions THEM, but they never stop to think if there's a large audience out there who also wants to read their work.
Make sure what you are writing is actually SELLING. Go to your local bookstore and ask what genres are selling best. See what's currently on the shelf.
Profile your target audience - what is their age, gender, income level, education level? Will your work appeal to a specific region of the country or world? Where does your target audience like to shop, where do they go for fun, and most important, what sites do they frequent online?
Bottom line, if there is not a NEED for what you are writing, it will never sell.
And if you do not know how to reach your audience, you will not sell books, either.
I was born and raised in New York State and have since lived in Maine, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey, and now I live in Colorado. My husband and I have three delightful, adult children and an old Jack Russell Terrier named Belle who seems to find her way into my novels. My resume will tell you I graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with a degree in Communications, and after graduation I worked as a radio and television reporter, freelance writer, editor and marketing professional. I'm a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and am assistant director of Words For The Journey, Rocky Mountain Region. But what's most important to know about me is that I am a follower of Jesus, wife, mother, friend, reader and writer. Life’s a journey, enjoy the adventures!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
In this second novel by Megan DiMaria, Linda Revere is back and continuing to struggle with the turmoil of contemporary life. Linda has been praying for her children's future spouses since they were very small. Confident that her prayers will be answered, Linda is not prepared for the young woman her son brings home. But Linda soon learns that while everything she once controlled is out of her hands, God is still in control. Megan uses her trademark humor while dealing with issues to which her readers will relate.
"No sophomore slump for DiMaria! This novel (Out of Her Hands) is as engaging and meaningful as her first, Searching for Spice. Her realistic portrayal of the characters' lives should endear them to readers and help Christians to feel less alone in their daily trials." ~Romantic Times Magazine, 4 ½ stars TOP PICK!
“Life in Linda's world is messy...but filled with love, laughter, struggle and faith. Megan has created a most real heroine for us to love...and I adore her!”~Deena Peterson, reviewer: A Peek at my Bookshelf
“Megan DiMaria crafts a novel so compelling, so real, you forget you're reading fiction.”~Darcie Gudger, reviewer: TitleTrakk "This is a great read for a quiet afternoon or in those times when you feel your own life spinning out of control and need the reality check of knowing you're not in it alone."~Amazon reviewer
I'm working on my next book and I can't imagine starting a book without an outline.
It would be so easy to veer off course and lose sight of the storyline! Plus I would forget so many critical details and plot points without an outline. Character inconsistencies show up in an outline, too. It would just be one jumbled mess!
And I HAD to outline for my series. The Circle of Friends has so many characters that appear in several of the books, I had a master outline detailing the major events in their lives each year, from the first book all the way to the last book. (That was a span of over eight years, too.) It was the only way I could keep all of the details straight and remain consistent from book to book.
Needless to say, I highly recommend that everyone starts with an outline!
It's Halloween! Time for scary & chilling stories.
Actually, I'm not sure I could write a horror story. As with thrillers, I don't feel my style of writing could reach that level of intensity. My values would prevent me from writing on certain subjects as well, although I do enjoy a good horror film. Note I said GOOD - not torture-porn or slasher flicks.
I do have an idea for a werewolf story, although with my style it would be more relationship-based as opposed to chilling. But I think the dynamics of dealing with being a werewolf or coping with someone who changed once a month into something more primitive and animal would be an interesting topic to tackle!
Meanwhile, the Amazon/BookSurge Antitrust Lawsuit is still pending. Since Amazon enacted their policy of requiring that all digital books be printed through their company, Booksurge, they have created a monopoly and hurt many small publishers. For more information on this lawsuit, go to SPAN's website: http://www.spannet.org/amazonantitrust-home.htm
Patti Lacy graduated from Baylor University in 1977 with a B.S. in education. She taught at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois, until she retired in 2006 to pursue writing full time. She has two grown children with her husband, Alan, and lives in Illinois.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Far away from her Irish home, Mary Freeman begins to adapt to life in Midwest America, but family turmoil and her own haunting memories threaten to ruin her future. A shattered cup. Cheap tea. Bitter voices asking what's to be done with the "little eejit." Mary, an impetuous Irishwoman, won't face the haunting memories--until her daughter's crisis propels her back to County Clare. There, in a rocky cliffside home, Mary learns from former neighbors why God tore her from Ireland forty-five years earlier. As she begins to glimpse His sovereign plan, Mary is finally able to bury a dysfunctional past and begin to heal. Irish folk songs and sayings add color to the narrative.