And we say goodbye to J. Kaye and welcome Home Girl’s Book Blog
J. Kaye has turned over her wonderful blog to Rachel and I am sure she will manage it in high fashion.
I will miss J. Kaye! She was gracious enough to feature me last summer, and she’s led me to so many wonderful bloggers. J. Kaye - I salute you!
* CAPTION WINNER! *
There were some good ones from The Sunday Sillies - and we have a tie!
"If you close your eyes just a little bit it spins. No really, but don't close them too much." from CC Chronicles
“Okay, when does the mouse pop out.?" from Mason Canyon
* PHOTO OF THE DAY *
From my wonderful experience of New Mexico and the Albuquerque Int'l Balloon Fiesta!
If you've been following along, you have your platform, speaking topics, and know where you want to speak!
Now to the detail items...
There are a few items you will need before you start calling on prospective clients.
1 - Business card
You may have one representing you, the author - but you need one that represents you, the speaker!
Now, these can be one and the same if you do not use your book cover on the card. Why not? Well, you're not talking about your books, remember? You are a subject matter expert! Your card will look more professional without your book cover.
Just for an example, I scanned in the front and back of mine:
It's not the perfect card, but it gives you an idea of what information you want to include.
Go for quality! High gloss & color. And NEVER put your home phone number on the card - use your cell phone or dedicated line.
2 - Brochure
You can land gigs without one - I did in the beginning - but as you expand, you'll want a professional brochure if you hope to land bigger gigs. Discuss your uniqueness as a speaker, what you can do for that business/organization/etc, list your speaking topics, short bio, and contact info.
Again, just for an example, here is one side of my tri-fold:
On the inside, two flaps list my six seminars/speaking topics and the other flap has my bio. That is also where I mention my books.
3 - Website
Again, as you grow, you'll want a professional website dedicated just to you, the speaker. What went into the brochure goes on the website - plus a press room, appearances and references, articles, etc. Yes, you can list your books here if they pertain to your topic(s.) My site has my non-fiction book, but not my YA series. A video of you giving a talk is a must when you really start to grow. (No, I don't have one up yet - it's on my to-do list!)
Again, just as an example, my speaker site is at Spunk On A Stick
You want to see some really good ones, Google speakers such as Tony Robbins, Joyce Meyers, etc.
You may need props for your topics, so don't forget your visual aids.
A great organization to consider is the National Speakers Association. They have chapters in every state. You must qualify to be a member though, by making so much as a speaker or speaking at X amount of paid events a year. (That gives you a goal to shoot for!!)
Here's another bonus to professional speaking - back of room sales. And when people can hear you speak, if your book relates to your topic (especially if it is non-fiction) they will be more apt to purchase your book.
Now, you are armed and ready and know what you need!
Next week - the wrap-up. How Spunky got started... and some funny stories along the way!
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
The Big 5-Oh!
Abingdon Press (February 2010)
by Sandra D. Bricker
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
For more than a decade, Author Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While writing in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.
One of Sandie's passions revolves around the rights of animals. She's been involved in fundraising for Lost Angels Animal Rescue for several years now; in fact, a portion of the proceeds of Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida will go to help the non-profit group with their expenses. And Lost Angels paid her back in a big way: They brought a free-spirited Collie named Sophie into her life after the loss of her 15-year companion Caleb.
It was her 8th novel that opened the door to finding her way as a writer.
In Sandie's words: "I guess most people would see my career as a publicist as a sort of dream job. But giving it up turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me!" she declares. "Not only was I given the gift of getting to know my mother as an adult woman before she passed away, but I was also afforded the blessing of being able to focus completely on my dream of a writing career. I'm a Christian woman, first and foremost, so it was a bit of a dream-come-true when Summerside Press chose me as one of two authors to launch their new Love Finds You line."
ABOUT THE BOOK
Olivia Wallace has a birthday curse . . . or so she thinks. It was a broken heart on her 16th, a car accident on her 21st, pneumonia on her 30th, and a fall down a flight of stairs on her 35th. There were Ohio blizzards on her 38th, 39th, and 40th; and six days before her 45th, she lost the love of her life to a heart attack. Numbing grief stole that birthday and a couple more to follow and, on the morning of her 48th birthday, she received the call she’d dreaded ever since losing her mom so many years ago…she was diagnosed with stage-3 ovarian cancer. The doctors didn’t hold out a lot of hope, but Liv survived and maintained her faith. Months of surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed.
But now, as her 50th birthday creeps up the icy Ohio path toward her, her hair has grown back, her energy level is up, and she is officially cancer free. It makes her nervous. After everything she’s gone through, Liv hates the idea of driving on icy roads and returning to work as an O.R. nurse in a local Cincinnati hospital.
Her best friend Hallie knows just the thing to break Liv out of the winter doldrums, while providing a safe haven of warmth, sunshine, and a time to regroup: a holiday in the Florida sunshine!
Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires Series #1) by Rachel Caine
Pub. Date: October 2006
From the Publisher:
From the author of the popular Weather Warden series. Welcome to Morganville, Texas.
Just don't stay out after dark.
College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero.
When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life. But they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.
I wish I could say I really liked this book, but I had a difficult time getting into the story. It seemed to lope along and it wasn't until two thirds of the way into the book before a real plot point/crisis emerged. The synopsis was correct about one thing - the roommates are not very lively! Michael was the most interesting character, especially when his 'secret' is revealed. I had a hard time believing the other two residents of the Glass House didn't know, though. The characters seemed so matter-of-fact regarding their predicament, too.
The writing felt choppy, with many incomplete sentences. I know it's the style of many YA books, but I found it difficult to read.
Overall, I just couldn't get into it. I know it's highly rated by most readers, but it just didn't do it for me. I like my vampire tales with a bit more bite - and with a few more vampires! Guess I've just watched Underworld too many times...
FTC disclaimer - this book was loaned to me by a friend and yes, I will be giving it back!
My blog tour for Book V of my series has been set for months - twenty stops in three weeks.
However, one of my hosts flaked. I'd sent her an email, and got an automated reply that my email had been deleted. She was disconnecting from the Internet for the next couple months and if I wanted to contact her, I'd have to send a letter or call.
Now, sometimes we need to take a step back. However, I take this stuff serious. We'd set this date months ago. And she's not a book blogger - she's an author friend. One I've actually met in person! So I have to say, I am a bit disappointed that she wouldn't even let me know or anything...
So now I have an open date in my tour!! This is where I need help. If any of my bloggy friends would like host me for a guest post on March 29th, I would be quite willing and very grateful! You name the angle or topic. If I get more than one offer, I'll be delighted and honored to do one on the 29th and the other next month.
Let me know! And thank you to those who are already hosting me for Book V's tour!
Which leads me to... seeking guest posts on two subjects!
1 - researching character professions (author or writer viewpoint)
2 - why urban fantasy is so popular (reader, writer, or author viewpoint)
If you would like to contribute to either, please leave a comment!
And congratulations to Lindsay, who won my Mystery Man Contest!
She guessed correctly, as did many, and her name was drawn from the hat.
Her guess for the mystery man opposite Heather? Mark.
Book will be on the way to you soon, Lindsay!
"Unpopular opinions: we can haz them. Sometimes you stand alone in loving a super niche-y run of a popular comic book series. Sometimes you’re the only person on the entire planet to ’ship a certain ’ship. Sometimes you simply Do Not Get a movie the rest of your geeky brethren is falling all over themselves about. And because a lot of fandom is about sharing loves and hates and communing with your fellow geeks, this can feel awfully lonely.That’s why we decided to challenge a bunch of nerdbloggers to spill their darkest secrets, their True Geek Confessions, for all the internet to see. Perhaps if we all confess together…well, we’ll feel just a little bit better."
And so here I admit my True Geek Confession:
Okay, I've got a lot of geeky things I could confess to, but let me tell you about my magazine collection... The first ten years of Starlog and Fangoria magazines. Sealed in plastic. Kept hidden from the light. Most gingerly examined once before secluded in a special box.
To what ends? I don't know! A couple used to be worth several hundreds. Then along came a little thing called ebay...
Yup. I was a sci-fi and horror geek!
* AN AWARD *
I received the You Are My Sunshine Award from Helen Ginger The purpose of it is to acknowledge those that have a blog and spend endless hours ensuring that other bloggers get feedback on their blogs by leaving comments, adding themselves as a follower or dropping by just to let you know there are people out there. Thank you, Helen!
I’m supposed to name 5 bloggers to pass this award on to, and reading your comments, thoughts and advice really is the sunshine of each day.
The bloggers I “officially” pass the You Are My Sunshine Award to are:
Part Deux! Read Part One if you missed it last week.
Now that you have a handle on your platform and speaking topics, just where are you gonna speak?
Up until now have been what I call practice runs. You’ve spoken to book clubs. You’ve spoken to writing clubs. You’ve spoken at books signings. But where do you go from there?
And before we go any further, if you’ve not done a lot of speaking or feel uncomfortable, you’ll need to improve your skills! Join Toastmasters or take a class at your local community college. It was also give you confidence and decrease nervousness.
Where do you find opportunities to speak? You have your platform and angle. Now, who’s your target audience? Who would benefit from your topic? Who could you inform or who could you inspire?
One of the aspects you need to consider is heart of your message. Is it motivational? Educational? Historical? Instructional? Your basic ‘theme’ will guide you to your target audience.
Places to consider:
• Libraries - they love history and educational talks do well, too.
• Businesses - companies are always seeking instruction and motivation. Can you raise employee productivity? Sales? Teach them new tricks of the trade?
• Schools - what can you teach the students? Can you make English teacher’s lives easier? Can you bring history to life?
• Churches - if your message is spiritual in nature, this could be a great fit! Can you motivate or educate?
• Colleges - can you teach a business seminar? Teach a class? Offer insight?
• Writer’s conferences - always looking for experienced authors, editors, publisher, etc. What could you offer novice writers?
• Organizations - from business to non-profit! Can you instruct or motivate? Does your topic tie in directly with an organization?
• Clubs - Rotary, Lion’s Club, Sorority, etc. They are looking for all angles as they pertain to their group.
• Conferences - all of the above have conferences - how can you tie into one?
There are hundreds of opportunities out there! Get creative with ideas. How about speaking on a cruise ship? How about a political convention? How about in another country?
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
The Pastor's Wife
Abingdon Press (February 2010)
by Jennifer AlLee
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jennifer AlLee was born in Hollywood, California and for the first 10 years of her life lived over a mortuary one block from Hollywood and Vine. An avid reader and writer, she completed her first novel in high school. That manuscript is now safely tucked away, never again to see the light of day. Her first inspirational romance, The Love of His Brother, was released in November 2007 by Five Star Publisher.
Besides being a writer, she is a wife and mom. Living in Las Vegas, Nevada, her husband and teenage son have learned how to enjoy the fabulous buffets there without severely impacting their waistlines. God is good!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Maura Sullivan never intended to set foot in Granger, Ohio, again. But when circumstances force her to return, she must face all the disappointments she tried so hard to leave behind: a husband who ignored her, a congregation she couldn't please, and a God who took away everything she ever loved.
Nick Shepherd thought he had put the past behind him, until the day his estranged wife walked back into town. Intending only to help Maura through her crisis of faith, Nick finds his feelings for her never died. Now, he must admit the mistakes he made, how he hurt his wife, and find a way to give and receive forgiveness.
As God works in both of their lives, Nick and Maura start to believe they can repair their broken relationship and reunite as man and wife. But Maura has one more secret to tell Nick before they can move forward. It's what ultimately drove her to leave him three years earlier, and the one thing that can destroy the fragile trust they've built.
Today is a little break from the norm. Hey, it's my birthday! I can do that if I want...
Yes, February 16th. I missed Valentine's Day by 26 & 1/2 hours. Of course, if anyone wants to get me flowers or take me out to dinner for my birthday, it's tough to do around Valentine's Day. In our household, we tend to lump the two together. Which is fine with me!
Today also marks exactly one month - four weeks - until the final release in my YA series, The Circle of Friends. Kinda scary! I'm doing a book release party for this one and have teamed up with a local teen organization to raise money and books. The hotel even gave us the meeting room for free.
Thursday is the last day to enter my Mystery Man contest for this book. Just guess the name of the male character opposite Heather and send his name to wolferock AT earthlink.net No early reviewers. Wild hairy guesses allowed. One and only hint - the name is Biblical.
And no extra credit if you try guessing my age today, either! Unless you guess really, really low.
My honey took me shopping on Monday as well! Some of the stuff below is his, but most of it he purchased for my birthday. My family sent cash, although most of that is going to books. (All I asked for was pre-orders of Book V - LOL!)
Actually it's not really a secret. And I uncovered it quite by accident. Unintentional is probably a better word!
Blogging in of itself is a social networking community. Key word being 'network.' Which means interaction and comments between blogs and bloggers.
Tuesday, I was on the road. All day. By the time I got home, I was SO exhausted, I went to bed not long after and barely checked my emails that day. Wednesday I was gone for part of the day and didn't comment on any blogs until that afternoon. (I've also been sick with a cold - yuck - and not felt like doing anything on top of it all.)
Guess what happened to my blog traffic last week? It went down - way down. My lack of interaction cut it in half. And not just on Tuesday or Wednesday. It still hasn't recovered.
So what does that teach us?
* Blogging requires interaction
* Blogging is a two-way street
* Bloggers are fickle!
Okay, maybe not that last one! LOL
What about you? When you miss a day, does your blog traffic go down? Do you blog every single day? (I'm not online on Saturdays.) Or do you blog just a couple times but you're commenting daily? Or just commenting on the blogs of those who comment?
What seems to be the trouble? I've... I've just been stabbed by your nurse... Oh dear.... well I'd probably better have a look at you then. Could you fill in this form first? She just stabbed me... Yes. She's an unpredictable sort. Look, you seem to be bleeding rather badly. I think you'd better hurry up and fill in that form. Ahhh ... couldn't ... I ... do ... it ... later, doctor!? No, no. You'd have bled to death by then.
From Hagelrat - what to do with your ARCs - Unbound
News of the weird!
My husband found this one. These guys had been trying for months to get into N. Korea to film. They were finally taken in as ‘tourists’ and filmed a world so alien, it’s difficult to believe it really exists here on Earth. When you have time to watch some of the segments, visit VBS TV and watch the Vice Guide to N. Korea 1, 2, & 3
It will stun you beyond words…
*BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNER*
Congratulations, Alex J. Cavanaugh!!
Your copy of Personality Plus by Florence Littauer will be in the mail soon!
The Hurt Locker
This movie follows a bomb squad for a month in Iraq, with some incredibly tense moments. There's absolutely no politics involved - it simply shows the situation as is.
This movie is touted as one of the front runners for best picture and it is really gritty. However, there was something odd about it. There's really no storyline - no real beginning or end. It's just a slice of life. The characters are a little distant and few situations where you wonder what happened to the others involved in the scene. It's riveting to watch, but afterwards, it won't stay with you for long. B
Now that I have seen most of the films up for best picture, I really can't pick a clear cut winner. (Knowing what the Academy wants in a best picture.) I think Avatar, The Blind Side, and Inglorius Basterds have the best shot at the Oscar.
*PHOTO OF THE DAY*
Just so Rocko doesn't steal the limelight from everyone, let me introduce to you Hobbes! (June 26, 1990 - June 16, 2006)
Welcome to the new format for Thursdays - Promo Tips and Other Things from the Spunky!
Speaking professionally - where to begin? Part I
For most authors, speaking begins with book signings and appearances. Maybe you give a talk at the library. Perhaps you discuss your book with a book club. If you're lucky, a couple of these venues might even give you a token cash gift for appearing. For the most part though, you are doing it for free.
So how does one transform into a paid speaker?
Bottom line - you need a platform. And your platform cannot be your book! Businesses and organizations are not going to pay you to come in and pitch your book for an hour.
So how do you build a platform? Well, if you've written a book, then you are an expert on something. It took research. It took expertise, experience, and knowledge. That is your starting point!
Speakers don't just 'talk.' They have a message that is designed to help their audience. Their goal is to inform and educate their audience on how their lives can be better. Products are designed to help people be healthier, wealthier, sexier, or to save them time. You as a speaker need to deliver your 'product' in much the same manner.
What can you tell people that will enlighten their lives? You don't have to be a dynamo, but you must appeal emotionally, logically or both. Your message must be both informative and entertaining. Don't think of it as a 'speech' - you are talking WITH your audience.
So if up until now you have been talking solely about your book(s), start brainstorming! What's your expertise? What message do you want to convey? Who can you help with your message?
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
Walking on Broken Glass
Abingdon Press (February 2010)
by Christa Allan
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Christa Allan, a true Southern woman who knows any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, weaves stories of unscripted grace with threads of hope, humor, and heart.
The mother of five and grandmother of three, Christa teaches high school English. She and her husband, Ken live in Abita Springs, Louisiana where they play golf, dodge hurricanes, and anticipate retirement.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Leah Thornton's life, like her Southern Living home, has great curb appeal. But already sloshed from one-too-many drinks at a faculty party, Leah cruises the supermarket aisles in search of something tasty to enhance her Starbucks—Kahlua and a paralyzing encounter with a can of frozen apple juice shatters the facade, forcing her to admit that all is not as it appears.
When her best friend Molly gets in Leah's face about her refusal to deal with her life, Leah is forced to make a decision. Can this brand-conscious socialite walk away from the country club into 28 days of rehab? Leah is sitting in the office of the local rehab center facing an admissions counselor who fails to understand the most basic things, like the fact that apple juice is not a suitable cocktail mixer.
Rehab is no picnic, and being forced to experience and deal with the reality of her life isn’t Leah’s idea of fun. Can she leave what she has now to gain back what she needs? Joy, sadness, pain and a new srength converge, testing her marriage, her friendships and her faith.
But through the battle she finds a reservoir of courage she never knew she had, and the loving arms of a God she never quite believed existed.
No aspect of writing is as easy as it appears. Crafting an interesting story is a challenge. Writing skills must be top notch. But sometimes it is the act of capturing our thoughts that causes us to struggle. If we learn to relax and pay attention, we can convert those ideas into a real story.
Sometimes it begins as a ripple. A smell jogs our memory. A scene from a movie moves our emotions. That wisp of an idea starts to form. If we focus on that spark, nurture it and allow it to grow in our minds, something more may form...
If the idea has enough strength, then BAM! It takes off on its own. Our mind begins to run with the possibilities. Where could this story lead? Who are the main characters? Does it really have merit?
The ideas may come fast and furious at this point. We must jot down plot twists and characters as they come to us, lest they be lost.
Sometimes these images never make it past a dream-like state. We try and focus, but it just isn't clear. This may be an idea we set aside for another day, when our thoughts are clear or a new spark ignites the storyline.
Sometimes the wind catches our thoughts. It might scatter and expand our first plan. What was once a simple story now contains many elements. It may carry us well beyond our original concept.
If we've been diligent in jotting down our ideas, a pattern will emerge. We will see the path of our story, the twists and turns, and the gratifying ending. We continue fleshing out the plot and characters, allowing the storyline an opportunity to expand and take on dynamic aspects.
At long last, we have a clear picture! There will still be surprises and additions, but we can see where we are going and what it will take to get to our destination.
And that's called getting our ducks in a row! Quack!
Spunky is on the road today - will catch you all when I return tonight!
Guest post today from an awesome author and animal lover!
So please welcome Mayra!
Amazon Reviews… and Mothers-in-Law
By Mayra Calvani
You’ve published your book. You’ve sent it to many review sites and begun collecting rave quotes for promotional use. You check Amazon regularly to see whether any readers have written anything about your book. They have! Wonderful. The comments are positive. You keep checking almost everyday until—what’s this?!—suddenly you find a HORRIBLE review at the top of the list.
You’re aghast. Your face flushes as if a subterranean volcano exploded inside of you. How dare anybody say anything negative about your masterpiece creation? What an atrocity. This is sabotage!
After a few glasses of wine, you tell yourself you’re a reasonable person. You realize chances are not everybody can love your book.
But there are negative reviews and there are negative reviews… and this is book annihilation! This particular review seems to have been written by someone who not necessarily hates the book, but hates YOU.
This happened to a friend of mine recently. A few days after her book came out in Amazon, someone wrote a mean, nasty review.
The review in question was something along these lines: “This is the WORST book I’ve ever read in my entire life. It is filled with thousands of spelling, grammatical mistakes and clichés. Please don’t waste your book on this book. You’ll regret it for as long as you live…” etc, etc, etc… The review went on and on, its author clearly deranged or driven by sweet revenge.
Not surprisingly, my friend later found out that it had been written by her dear mother-in-law in reaction to how my friend depicted her in the novel (Lesson: DO NOT use your mother-in-law as one of your characters).
I know the lady in question, and while I think it’s true that she has “sagging cheeks like day-old pancakes” and clammy hands like “large wobbly maggots,” as my friend wrote in her novel, I believe she shouldn’t have gone so berserk. I mean, there’s something to be said for self control, right?
If any of you is the victim of such atrocity, there’s something you can do about it. Remember that Amazon wants you to sell your book almost as much as you do (they should—they take 55% off the retail price!), so all you have to do is contact them and explain them the situation. Most likely they’ll remove the review. Email them at: email@example.com.
But pleeeeeease don’t contact them for negative reviews that were clearly written by serious readers or reviewers, otherwise they’ll think we authors are egotistical maniacs who break at the slightest lashing … and we wouldn’t want that now, would we? (it’s important to keep our true nature low profiled).
Happy Valentine’s (good time to send candy to that mother in law of yours...)!
Mayra Calvani writes, reviews, procrastinates, daydreams, plays the violin (awfully!) and is hopelessly addicted to reading. Visit her blog at Mayra’s Secret Bookcase